Thursday, October 16

Meet AJ Elliston, Assistant Coach

AJ having a better time than it looks in a van, in the mountains

Where are you from? and why did you move to Billings?
I'm from Tennessee and I moved to Billings to attend Rocky Mountain College.

You're getting your degree from Rocky? in what? and what are your post college goals (as of now)? I am currently getting my Aeronautical Science degree from Rocky Mountain College. After getting my degree, I will be working as a charter pilot based here in Billings.

Tell us about your climbing experience? I started climbing as soon as I moved here and saw that we had a climbing gym. Working as a guide for Rocky Mountain College's Outdoor Recreation department has allowed me to travel to some pretty cool climbing areas all over the western U.S. I have been climbing for the last 4 years and really enjoy the climbing community here.

What is your coaching and leadership experience? I have coached a few students a college, but this is my first year formally coaching a competitive team. I teach the rock climbing class at Rocky Mountain College and it is always great to see new climbers get hooked on climbing. Working as a guide has really helped me gain a large amount of leadership experience in a relatively short time by leading groups of students into the backcountry for weeks at a time.

What motivates you to climb hard? My motivation to climb hard stems from the desire to constantly improve. I am always trying to refine technique and energy maintenance to climb that much harder.

What's unique about Billings climbing? The climbing community here in Billings is unique. Everyone is super supportive and easily approachable. Working behind the desk at Steepworld allows me to ask people from out of town why they keep coming back and it always comes back to how friendly and outgoing the climbing community is.

AJ warming up on the Sherman Boulder V2 in Wyoming

What are your favorite routes / boulder problems in Billings? and why? My favorite rope route in Billings is Tree Route at Gregory Hills because of the crazy moves you have to pull off just to get off the ground. Favorite boulder problems are Tex in Zimmermen Park and Slapstick Traverse in Phipps. Neither are difficult, but they are just so fun that I always have to get on them. I like these routes because your body has to be sideways in order to go up the rock.

Your favorite place to climb outside of Billings? My favorite bouldering area outside of Billings is in Red Lodge and favorite roped climbing area has to be Red Rock Canyon in Nevada.

What else do you value in life? I highly value food and sleep. Being a college student, I can't afford to get much of either. In all seriousness though, I value an attitude to constantly improve. Wanting to make yourself a better climber can translate to all walks of life- you just have to be dedicated and set goals.

Anything else you'd like to share with us? I am really looking forward to working with the team, and I can't wait to see all the kids climbing strong!