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Russ Clune – Experiencing the world through climbing

by Don

Russ Clune at a Crag in Turkey (photo courtesy of Amy Pickering)

Russ Clune at a Crag in Turkey (photo courtesy of Amy Pickering)

Russ Clune is a 50 year old rock climber, who lives in New Paltz, New York, and who has traveled to dozens of countries to climb, either for pleasure, or for his job as a sales representative for the climbing equipment manufacturer Black Diamond. Russ remembers participating in swimming and golf at a very early age, but became interested in the adventure of camping and hiking when he was eleven. He was enamored with the classic alpine literature of the time, and loved the wild feel of high places. Russ attended University of Vermont, and had the chance to rock climb in his first week. Once he did, he knew he found his sport. Russ went on to travel the world and climb leading edge routes, as well as enjoy the people he got to know in the process.

When Russ lived in California for a time, he picked up surfing, which he claims is the only other sport he has ever done that is as engaging as climbing. Back in New York now, Russ works at finding the balance among his job, his family, his friends, and climbing.

In our interview Russ shared his experiences setting climbing standards around the world, and how he has managed to stay in the game and love it.

If you have visited this site before, you may have noticed the addition of the banner, and the title Dream It, Live It, Love It. Having just completed summarizing my tenth interview, as well as completing my twentieth interview, I was reflecting on what I have learned in the process. There were lots of lessons, but the overarching thing that struck me is that all of the athletes I’ve spoken with have the ability to envision doing something out of the ordinary, integrate achieving that goal into their daily lives, and absolutely love the process. It doesn’t matter if it’s running, cycling, unicycling, climbing, swimming, racewalking, or another pursuit. They Dream It, Live It, Love It. I hope to see this theme continue as I complete the fifty interviews, as it inspires me to have a fresh outlook on my climbing and how I integrate it into the rest of my life.

As I mentioned above, I passed a major milestone in this project, having completed a draft of the first ten interviews. There has been such a great response in my search for athletes to interview that I also have completed my twentieth interview. I want to thank all the athletes who have so graciously given me their time and energy so far. Without you, this project would not be possible. So, thanks!

If you like this blog, and would like to get an email when it gets updated, you can enter your email in the widget at the bottom right of this site.

If you are an athlete 50 or over and interested in being interviewed, please email me at

I am especially interested in athletes in sports I haven’t featured yet. I’m looking for people who surf, play tennis, play basketball, play hockey, wrestle, do martial arts, ski, snowboard, and any other sport I haven’t covered yet.

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