Member Spotlight: Nick Woodman

A twenty-five year old Machinery Mechanic at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Nick Woodman grew up in Saco, where he played defensive end on the Thorton Academy football team and was active in the outdoor adventure club. His early adventures focused on sea kayaking, road cycling, and hiking in the White Mountains. Nick began technical climbing 11 months ago.

1. Where is “home”?

Saco, Maine, just a few minutes from Salt Pump.

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

Access to NH, good food in Portland, family and great outdoors.

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

Can be less diverse/more work to find niche communities. The seasons here are also less consistant, which makes planning hard at times! I’ll take all cold or all warm, but this back and forth is difficult!

4. How long have you been climbing for?

I’ve been climbing since April of last year. I started bouldering in the mornings while I was working a second shift job then slowly switched over to toprope once I went back on day shift. It’s been interesting, since when I started I was pretty confident I had no need/desire to toprope. Once I started toproping and even more so leading, I suddenly thought bouldering was silly, and going outside was too risky and not worth it. Now? I like them all, I even ice climb, and I’m building a trad rack! It’s crazy how things change over time as your skills and perception of manageable risk changes with experience and quality education. Learning to lead with Vince, skill seminars/adult team with Zach, ice climbing with Chris Burnell, and mixed climbing with Freddie have all served to expand the possibilities for me when it comes to climbing.

5. What makes climbing unique and/or different from other forms of physical activity?

For the most part, you never stop learning. There’s always different ways to do things and approach things which makes it really varied. It also allows the possibility of combining multiple climbing disciplines into a single goal, that might be big wall climbing, or alpine objectives which demand technical knowledge, a good cardio base, and strong climbing skills.

Additionally, the mental game is incredibly engaging. It really demands that you be honest with yourself on a level above and beyond many things you might experience on a day to day basis. Really honing that capacity on the sharp end is immensely satisfying, and being able to recognize when you need to back off is as well, even if its disapointing in the moment.

6. What is your biggest climbing goal for the next year?

I’m looking to learn to trad climb. I’d like to do some trad multipitch etc. Working on base physical conditioning to increase my options.

7. What is your biggest non-climbing goal for the next year?

I’m considering switching jobs in the near future to give additional emphasis on my education, as I am working torwards a degree in Mechanical Engineering.

8. If you were completely immobilized in a hospital bed for a year, what hobby would you do?

I really enjoy reading. I’d probably get through my backlog of books, then try writing. I don’t fancy myself a writer, but I still think there might be something of value in writing for your own personal enjoyment.

9. What’s the hardest youíve tried recently?

I think team nights really push me on climbing grades. If Matty Zane says you need to try/do something, there isn’t even room for push back. You try it, talk about it, and then keep trying it. It’s probably closer to going then I think, and getting that feedback from Matty and Zach is really helpful.

10. What’s the hardest you’ve laughed recently?

I don’t know! Silly, over the top humor from my co-workers is pretty great, even if they do lay it on a bit thick.

11. Who or what inspires you?

I don’t have a particular inspiration source right now, but I’m really honing in on people who have demonstrated significant passion for something over years and decades. People who have made and discovered their passion and use it to get going in the morning and drive all day long, consistantly, until they get better. And it’s never good enough, but they enjoy the process. Additionally, this quote from Admiral Hyman G. Rickover’s book, The Never-Ending Challenge of Engineering, is relevent to me. “For people who accomplish little in life, genius is the facile explanation, but Edison would reply that ìgenius was 99 percent perspiration and one percent inspiration. This, of course, holds true for everyone….What we are endowed with at birth is the one percent to which we must add 99 percent in effort, perseverance, and courage if we wish to reach the limits of what it is ìpossibleî for us to achieve.”

12. What ís your greatest strength?

I am level headed and think on my feet. Any time I’m doing something, whether it be working on a peice of equipment, or climbing, I am always thinking about what could surprise me and what path I want to take next. I focus on being calm and approaching problems as they come.

13. What ís your biggest weakness?

I can be start/stop with some personal ‘goals.’ I can enjoy something and desire to really improve, and somewhere along the line make a shift from this is fun, to this is work, and turn myself off the idea. I think it comes down to poor evaluation of what my goals and desires are. Thankfully, I genuinely enjoy climbing and the more I’m putting into it, the more I get out of it which is extremely rewarding.

14. Why do you climb?

I started because it seemed interesting and physical. I continue because I’ve learned more about myself through climbing and the people I climb with then in any other situation.