Q&A with Tino Fiumara

Many of the great routes you’ve been climbing at Salt Pump you can thank Tino Fiumara for. After visiting to help with our initial route setting, he recently moved to Maine and accepted a full time position as our Head Routesetter / Assistant Program Director. Since the world is small, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that we went to college together and he was one of my first climbing partners and mentors. Our group of friends from the University of New Hampshire spent many caffeine fueled nights shaking off studies by throwing ourselves at plastic on the 45′ wall at our local gym, and as often as possible we hit up Rumney, Pawtuckaway, the Gunks and other local crags for our climbing fix. Tino is one of the most supportive climbing partners I’ve known, encouraging my boldness in bouldering especially, since he arguably gives the world’s best spot with his 6+ ft frame and ape index. A favorite Tino quote for cheering people on when they tried hard in those days was “All You Got!” His goofy sense of humor and friendly personality make him the kind of person you will always be happy to spend the day with. Please join me in welcoming Tino and his partner Julie to Maine, and to the Salt Pump community!

courtesy Anne Skidmore

UNH crew at the Red, with Miguel, circa 1999, courtesy Anne Skidmore. (Tino is front, 2nd from right) 

JW: You have had a very diverse career path to the world of indoor climbing, please share how/why you ended up making your living in this industry?  

TF: Through a lot of my journey climbing has always been there for me in a way that no other pursuit in my life has.  Even when I’ve stepped away from climbing, I’ve come back to find something else about it that I love.  When we started, the indoor industry wasn’t the multi-faceted business that it is today – the business side of the industry appeals to my more technical background.

JW: You’re a Philly guy. What are the major draws to living in Maine for you and Julie (your partner)?

TF: We’ve been coming to Maine since college and just love it up here.  We’re a fan of all four seasons and the way of life is really amenable to people who want to enjoy every day.  The access to the outdoors is fantastic, with great climbing, surf, trails, the White Mountains and some pristine wilderness.

JW: What are you most excited to do or check out now that you are settled in?  

TF: I’d love to find some untouched rock and get back into developing.  You know how it is, the more the better.  There is also something about the love affair with FAs (first ascents).  And I’m really amp’d about being closer to the White Mountains – for climbing, running and snow sliding.

JW: How would you describe your route setting style or philosophy?

TF: I’m very much about teaching people through setting.  We can design a real diverse selection of climbing that will help people grow and become better all-round climbers.

Tino, tugging tufas in Cuba, 2009. Photo Anne Skidmore

Tino, tugging tufas in Cuba, 2009. Photo by Anne Skidmore

JW: Your other responsibility here at Salt Pump is with our programming. What are some of your plans or ideas for that?

TF: We’re devising some great Skills Seminars that are outside of the more standardized instruction that many gyms offer.  Salt Pump is a door to the climbing community and the greater outdoor community in general.  We engage in pursuits that take a while to master and we want to share some of those hard won skills with our member community.

JW: You also freelance write in the indoor climbing industry. Any trends or observations you’d share about our little (or not so little!) indoor climbing world these days?

TF: The growth in the industry has been really impressive, and with any growth there becomes competition and innovation.  Much of the innovation has come from gyms listening to their local community and adapting what they hear into unique models.  That’s one of the things that drew me to Salt Pump, it’s a unique place – the mission is about building and enriching the community, the facility is amazing, and the team really cares about people having the best experience they can.

JW: Remember when we used to train for spring break at the Red [River Gorge] by traversing jugs back and forth across the roof at the gym until we had blisters? Climbing gyms and training methods have sure evolved since then. Any fitness or training secrets you’d like to share?  

2009 Copyright

Tino, with Yarobys, after a day of route developing in Cuba, 2009. Photo by Anne Skidmore

TF: Oh yeah!  Lacticacidosis majoris!  The training world is such a different place and I’ve started to pay a lot more attention in the last few years thanks to the interwebs.  Training in general is great for my OCD, it keeps me from cleaning the enamel off of our plates at home.   I don’t want to give all of my secrets away, though I will share a few through some Skill Seminars that we’ll be holding.  I will say that I particularly fancy the evolution of the hangboard.  There are so many different ones out there and the training is super applicable.

JW: Favorite three routes or climbing areas?

TF: I like to think about climbing in regards to what the unique geology offers us.  Southern sandstone, especially the New River Gorge and the Red River Gorge, holds a special place in my heart.  I lived in Italy for a couple of years, so limestone has been an inspirational education for me – both in the tufa’d lowland formations and the sharp alpine offerings.  And metamorphic granite like gneiss, something unique in New England that has taken a great type of stone and made it better!  Something I will miss about Philly though is the Diabase; it’s one of the most humbling stones to climb on.

JW: Who is your hero and why?  

TF: My mom is probably my hero…she’s probably the most selfless person I know, more than I could ever be.  She has always been supportive of me following my path, wherever it may go.  The funny thing is that she literally can’t watch me climb…it makes her too nervous.

JW: Thanks Tino! We’re so glad to have you on the team.