John Patrick: Member Spotlight


Many Salt Pumpers know member John Patrick as the scrappy, bearded fellow who can’t get enough of our lead wall. Few may realize, however that John, an incurable climber, leads a double life as the Reverend of the Demark Congregational Church, “a small village Church with a big heart and a global vision”. As a longtime member of the North Conway climbing community, John’s carefree, positive presence and sense of partnership is well known, and, at fifty-seven years old, he refuses to let age slow him down. His secret?  “The key is to climb with young people,” he says. “You need to find young people who will tolerate you.

1. Where is “home”? 

Home is Denmark Maine. I was born in Dupo, IL, and we taught ourselves to climb in souther Illinois. I moved to Maine in 1986, and Denmark in 1993.

2. What’s the best thing about living in Maine?

The best thing about living in Maine is living in a small yankee town.

3. What’s the worst thing about living in Maine?

The worst thing? Black Flies.

Rev. John Patrick climbing “Arm & Hammer” in Utah.

4. How long have you been climbing for?

Hard to believe I have been climbing for 39 years!

5. What makes climbing unique and/or different from other forms of physical activity?
Climbing is a kind of Volksport. It’s a pretty diverse group of athletes, and I am always in awe of the many gifted and unassuming climbers I meet.
6. What is your biggest climbing goal for the next year?
My climbing goal for this summer is climbing some clean lines with Sam in the Sierra.
7. What is your biggest non-climbing goal for the next year?
My non-climbing goal is reading and understanding my daughter’s master’s thesis.
8. If you were completely immobilized in a hospital bed for a year, what hobby would you do?
If I were immobilized, I would play chess.
9. What’s the hardest you’ve tried recently?
I have been working Exasperation on Cathedral with Frank. That’s the closest I have to a project. It’s reach but I think I can get it.
10. What’s the hardest you’ve laughed recently?
I like to laugh and have a pretty funny life. I recently went to the O’Neil family reunion with Sean. It’s a big Irish family and all the brothers and sisters were there telling stories and spreading the love. We did a lot of laughing.
11. Who or what inspires you to try hard?
I’m most inspired by people who push themselves toward excellence. I have always climbed with climbers who climb better than me. Seeing them push themselves inspires me to do the same. Excellence for the joy of excellence.
12. What’s your greatest strength?
My greatest strength is probably power.
13. What’s your biggest weakness?
Greatest weakness is body position on the steep.
14. Why do you climb?
Climbing to me is a kind of meditation. I like aesthetic natural lines, the special bond of the rope, and the clarity of mind that comes with being on the sharp end. I also like lounging on ledges while my partner figure out his pitch, and getting to the top.

John leading the challenging Cathedral Ledge mixed route Diedre.