Climbing, with Sean Allen

 “I guess I just wanted to get away from it all. I was pretty burnt out on my job and bills and everyday life so I just cleared my slate back home and headed up here.”

Sean Allen is from San Diego, California. He lives and works at one of the most remote High Sierra Camps in the Sequoia National Park, Bearpaw, about 11 miles from the nearest road. He enjoys challenging himself physically and mentally, and he loves the taste of adrenaline.

A few years back, he visited some friend at the park and he fell in love with backpacking, climbing, and taking off to remote places for days. “Of course up here, hours away from the nearest city, you really get to experience the simple life and that’s something I really cherish now as well,” he explains.

Some of the things Sean likes the most about climbing are the creative, individual, and challenging natures of this sport. He has been skateboarding since he was a teenager and he claims that those skills can be applied to climbing. “The same as with skating, you get your daily accomplishments from climbing, or you get shut down and demoralized on a difficult climb and it just pushes you to get out there and try it again.”



How to start

According to Sean, it doesn’t take much to give climbing a chance, in its most primitive form all you really need is your body and something to climb on. “I don’t feel much different now than when I was a little kid scrambling up rocks or trying to get up a tree, it’s the same exact thing,” he emphasizes. “Of course, if you want to progress you’re going to need special rock climbing shoes to enhance your grip as well as some chalk to help your hands grip the rock.”

Ao Nang

There are different types of climbing to choose from, such as: top-roping, bouldering, sport climbing, traditional climbing, ice climbing, etcetera, and they all require different kinds of gear and experience levels. Sean practices top-roping and bouldering, which require power, strength and agility.

Climbing is a very physically intense sport, and it is not hard to get to the point where you just can’t hold on. “When I’m exhausted and feel like dropping, that’s usually exactly what I do. But of course, there are certain situations when that’s not such a good idea. Practice and training are essential to help you get out of difficult situations as a climber, as well as a clear head and calm demeanor,” he assures.

“For the beginner,” he recommends, you can start by purchasing the shoes, a harness, and a belay device, then head out to the local climbing spot or gym and try to hook up with some people who know what they’re doing and are willing to show you ‘the ropes’, then go from there.

Sean explains why practice and experience are so important, “the more you climb, the better your muscle endurance will be, the better your technique will be, and the stronger you’ll get.” He claims to be a beginner and he says he has improved a lot over the past year just by picking up on what other more experienced climbers have told him, and of course through dedication, practice and training.

‘The simple life’

“I think that by diving into ‘the simple life’ up here, I’ve had less distraction and therefore more time to think. As a result, I have been trying new things because of convictions that are constantly nagging at me. One of which is to reduce my meat consumption and eventually to eliminate it altogether.”


Sean believes that respecting nature and trying to limit his impact on the environment is just something that comes naturally while living in a national park, so he has learned to ‘live with less while doing more’ without much effort.

“My hat is off to people who find a way to do so living in the city, cause that’s a whole different ballgame. I think these are all convictions that people just need to work out for themselves, but change does seem to be trending at the moment.”

Besides hiking, climbing and enjoying nature, Sean also likes reading, hanging out with friends, riding his motorcycle, and travelling around the world.



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