Matty Hitchcock: Founder of OBX Climbing Club/Carpenter
What do you love about climbing?
It’s physics. I’m a perfectionist when it comes to my wood work. That’s how I look at climbing. How to balance strength, technique and fear all at the same time while having fun. But most importantly, is being in and one with nature. It’s like surfing. There’s a flow state and groove you get while becoming in sync with the ocean and it’s the same with climbing. You hit your groove and you’re flowing in this effortless slow dance rhythm and everything is whole.
What inspired you to start the Outer Banks Climbing Club?
The idea of the Outer Banks Climbing Club came about in a garage in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. Era of mid 2017. Alex Honnold had just soloed El Cap. in early June. I think June 3rd. A week after he sent the climb, I specifically remember reading an article about it and it blew my mind. I was familiar with what El Cap was and how tall it is, but there was no talk what so ever of anyone soloing it. It wasn’t even a thought. So when I read about it, I felt so inspired and anxious to get back into climbing myself.
I should say, my climbing background pre Alex Honnold solo was cliff jumping and climbing back up cliff only to jump off again and again ( deep water soloing). That was mid high school through college (unofficially went to Virginia Tech).
Back to the Club. Being a carpenter and activist, I had some lumber lying around and had a space in the garage for a climbing wall. Talked my two younger brothers into doing a day project and we built a boulder wall in our garage in a day. One of my friends heard about what we were doing and brought over some climbing holds he randomly had. So our day goal was to build this wall and put up a route. We did and we called it The Blue Route. As time went on, we continued to add holds to our wall, mainly ones made out of wood cause we’re too cheap to buy climbing holds, we can just make them. Even through up a couple oyster shells. Those are sharp haha.
By the fall we had a consistent group of people coming out and climbing with us on our wall. What was so cool is that the people who came out and climbed with us were actual climbers. They all have been on real rock and experienced high and dangerous climbs in the mountains. So not only were they better than us, they were actually the ones who taught us. Alex and Hayley Carey. Matt Johnson. Jason don’t know his last name but a badass climber. A guy named Scott from Richmond who used to build competition climbing walls, and is ridiculously strong. These were the people who helped us grow and urge us to create a “club” on the beach. So after a couple bong rips, the club was formed. Outer Banks Climbing Club.
What is a SandStone Shredder?
Some would say we’re SandStoned Shredders haha. The SandStone Shredders idea came from watching one of my favorite films - Valley Uprising. Each generation or group of climbers had their name so you know who they were. The Stone Monkeys are without a doubt some of the greatest climbers the world has ever seen. Dean Potter. Lynn Hill. John Long. Cedar Wright. You know the list. There are also the Pirates. The Outlaws. Flying Monkeys.
People have their name. Once we (our club) started taking trips to the Linville Gorge, I created the name "The SandStone Shredders." Not because we climb sandstone but because we shred anything that has to do with sand and stone. Surfing, swimming, kiting, skiing, beach activities, we fucking shred it all at the beach and now we added stone to it. Shredding as much stone as we can as fast as we can.
How do you become a Sandstone Shredder?
It’s pretty easy. Climb hard and show you can hang with the rest of us. Or be a bitch like Miles. Next question.
What is the main lesson climbing has taught you?
The simplicity of life. If you want, you can go find a rock and climb it all by yourself. It’s how far you want to take it is the challenge. There’s no better feeling than being in a world of nature and doing something so simple like climbing a rock. I take it back to surfing. Playing in the ocean is one of my favorite places to be in and I get that same feeling when I go out and climb. Climbers and surfers are very similar. Waves come in very different sizes, along with its difficulties. Same with rocks.
Hitting the road in April. Currently building out a 2018 Ram Promaster van and will be living in it full time once it’s finished. Being a carpenter, it’s easy to find work. Everyone has something that needs to be fixed or they want something built for themselves. For me, it’s going to be a matter of what I can bring with me to do multiple types of work. So that pretty much comes down to deciding what tools to bring.
The ultimate climbing goal is to do a big wall in Yosemite Valley. Multiple day route, portaledge climb. While I’m on the way to accomplish that goal, I’ll work where and when I can, and try to inspire people to live a more simplified life. I’ve been through a house fire and have lost it all and the one thing I’ve learned most from that is the only thing I lost was stuff. It’s all a bunch of things that stay around til I use them. Hitting the road in a van will allow me to use less and be more efficient with what I can do with my two hands and the lessons I’ve learned.
A wise man once asked me, “what are the two least important days in your life?” .. I didn’t know the answer, he said, “yesterday and tomorrow”. Live for today because that’s what’s in front of you. Climb what’s in front of you. Surf what’s in front of you. Focus on what’s only in front of you and you will succeed.
Hit up Matty for carpentry work or climbing!
FUN FACT: Matty is responsible for taking the DHAA founders on their first multipitch routes outside and gave them the foundation they needed to know to send hard and safely. They owe their life to this incredible man. So a special thank you on behalf of DHAA, good sir.
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