I'm looking forward to your questions. I'm Will Gadd. I started doing all these things with my parents when I was a kid. And I feel very lucky to have the coolest job in the world - basically do awesome sports in cool places with my friends.

You can check out my climb of Niagara Falls last week with Sarah Hueniken here or watch the YouTube highlight reel here.

My Twitter is @GilWad and instagram is @RealWillGadd.

I'm here at reddit headquarters in NYC with Victoria to take your questions. AMA!

https://twitter.com/Gilwad/status/563020680506400768

Update: Victoria's ducking out but I'm still taking questions!

Comments: 143 • Responses: 38  • Date: 

tinyOnion73 karma

What's your favorite type of climbing and why is it trad?

WillGadd55 karma

I'll honestly climb anything, from buildings to plastic.

I just like climbing up stuff.

I'm not a gourmet climber. I'm more of "all you can eat" kind of guy.

Climbing's just a ton of fun.

WillGadd23 karma

Someone asked what types of ice I use: I once made drinks with chunks from an iceberg. And the ice cubes cracked a lot in the drink...so that was pretty cool.

Unfortunately, my ice cubes are really nothing special, but i love these questions.

notsomuchreally21 karma

[deleted]

WillGadd21 karma

I don't lie about what I do, she'd bust me. I know she "gets" it, but I also know she worries. Heck, I worry!

notsomuchreally10 karma

[deleted]

WillGadd17 karma

Tell him to hang on tight, good advice from my mom.

WillGadd19 karma

I've gotta go but this has been awesome, thanks!!! Hit me up at willgadd.com or @gilwad, have a good one out there, today is a good day to come back.

ChattanoogaGuy14 karma

Will,

first off, thanks! second, here goes:

how do you feel about clif bar dropping athletes from sponsorship due to soloing?

aaand what is your most treasured and proud climbing moment?

WillGadd23 karma

That's a big question. I think what Clif Bar did shows some integrity as a brand, and was genuine. It would've been easier for them NOT to make that decision, and hope that everything was going along well, so they made a decision for their brand.

Most treasured? Uh, let's see here. I think the fact that I've been able to climb now...100-200 days a year, for more than 30 years. Like, that's just been the greatest thing of my life.

ChattanoogaGuy5 karma

interesting perspective on the clif bar thing. so many people were just blatantly outraged at the decision.

i love hearing climbing stories. i have only a few good ones myself...

what was the closest to death you ever came while on a climb?

WillGadd13 karma

Hmmm.

On a climb? That's a good question.

I've only honestly had 2-3 times in climbing where I felt like I screwed up so massively that I've almost died. I really hate those moments, I look at them as massive failures.

At Helmcken Falls last year I made an error with my rappel device and almost died when it came unclipped. Really simple thing we all take for granted, but I had a series of things go wrong that put me too close to the line. Fundamentally gravity wins, you just gotta try to do it right every day, and get enough things right so you don't die when you do things wrong, which we all will. Good questions...

offbelayknife10 karma

Have you ever considered expanding on your approach to risk management with a long form article, book, or even more blog type posts? Your piece Mysticism and Mountains really resonated with me and I've actually incorporated some of your points into my work in the outdoor safety field. It almost reads like a continuation of the old Dr. Doom style with a couple more decades of experience and a less insecure approach to difficult or potentially unpopular topics. You seem uniquely capable of picking up that torch and running with it. I know I want to see more open and frank discussions of what's going on in the mountains and less of the woowoo hippie bullshit.

WillGadd5 karma

Thank you!

Dr. Doom had a big impact on my thinking, for sure.

I hit a lot of these topics in my speaking presentations. And it's fun to see mountain principles resonate well in businesses ranging from oil-patch safety to financial services.

My next book is a biography of Jeff Lowe, which I'm very late on.

He has a lot of interesting ideas as well, I really need to finish that book.

stevenr129 karma

Will, what is your favourite spot to ice climb in Alberta?

WillGadd12 karma

Ah! Top secret, can't tell you that.

More seriously: It's like surfing. The best conditions change with the season. But the Weeping Wall always puts a smile on my face. I did it with my dad for the first time at sixteen, and now 31 years later (and I climbed it 2 weeks ago) so that makes it 31 years I've been climbing the Weeping Wall.

hexagonntech7 karma

Did you get bullied when you were a kid?

WillGadd13 karma

Not often? But sometimes.

That's a really good question. There's a lot of layers to that.

My father is a Quaker Pacifist. So it was always a battle between Canadian Hockey culture, and Quaker ethics. You never knew which one was going to win that fight.

bn206 karma

Hey Will, just wanted to say you're a huge inspiration to me. I watch your 'Move' video fro Arc Teryx almost weekly. I live near Niagara Falls and would have loved to see you in action last week!

Anyway, being a multi sport athlete, how do you regiment your training between strength, endurance and aerobic base?

WillGadd13 karma

Thank you!

As long as you're moving and doing sports regularly, then that's about 80% of the training that I do.

But you gotta do stuff really regularly. And then train your weaknesses around that. It's a lot more fun to train our strengths, but it's our weaknesses that cause us to fail in our sports, so I'm pretty good at doing pull-ups, but my mobility is decreasing as I age, so for me the most beneficial training comes from mobility work. Even though I still do lots of pull-ups, cuz that's what I'm good at and it's more fun! So if you can climb, you can kayak, if you can kayak, you can paraglide, it all goes together. The secret is to just keep moving. Last night I hit the hotel gym, here in NYC, because it was the best option I had for moving, and I got my 30 minutes in. I say "I'm gonna go wreck myself." Generally I work on a lot of that mobility stuff, and then also I'm in continuous rehab for one injury or another, so working on those problems specifically. And then I do some version of squatting, pulling, and pushing. That takes care of all the core and everything else.

Seven_Cuil_Sunday6 karma

Hey Will!

My Qs:

  • a couple people over on the climbing subreddit speculated that your Niagara climb (while it certainly got more attention) doesn't even rate in terms of difficulty compared to the climbs on Helmcken earlier this year and last. True?

  • What's the ice climb you wanna do next?

  • You hang out in some f****** cold places. Where/when was the coldest you've ever been?

  • Any high alpine aspirations?

  • What's your cuss word of choice when a massive chunk of ice is coming down at your head?

WillGadd11 karma

I put more time and effort into organizing Niagara than into any other climb I've ever done. So from that perspective, it's the most difficult climb I've ever accomplished. But the subreddit people are right in that it's not the most technically difficult climb I've ever done. That's Helmcken. But there's only one Niagara Falls. And I'm pretty stoked to have climbed it with Sarah.

TOP SECRET.

Um... NIAGARA! (I was thinking "I was really cold the other day"). I was frozen at Niagara, I actually got hypothermic from the water running down the back of my neck... and the spray freezing on me didn't help too much either. Yeah. I think the most hypothermic I've ever been was caving, when I was about 16. That really sucked.

I just got back from Kilimanjaro, and climbed ice on top of Kilimanjaro. But for me it's always about doing interesting things, new things, and technical difficulty. I've found that at altitude, I just have a hard time breathing, and it's somewhat less interesting. I admire those that push hard there. But it hasn't been my game. But it could be interesting, I don't know. Got any ideas?

wide eyes

There are points in life when you wanna shut up and move, and that is one of them! Hahaha!

Frajer6 karma

do you ever get scared ?

WillGadd8 karma

Yeah.

Everybody whose ancestors weren't afraid didn't make it this far!

You should be afraid of big drops. I think snakes. And bars.

ofalco6 karma

What is the greatest feeling you've ever felt while climbing?

WillGadd8 karma

I'm not a "spiritual" guy. But anyone who's out in the mountains when the sun comes up in the morning and sees how magical the world is, is going to feel great. I recently witnessed a sunset on Mt. Faye, in the Canadian Rockies, and it looked like the whole sky was on fire, and the light was bouncing off the glaciers. That was truly awesome. And Niagara didn't suck either!

aplusbi5 karma

Any tips on how to maintain such a high stoke-level? Particularly when the temperature drops, the precipitation kicks up, etc?

WillGadd14 karma

Energy in equals energy out. Gotta eat. Drink. And keep moving to stay warm. I don't eat paleo or any of that stuff. You need simple carbs, and lots of butter. The odd Red Bull helps too!

aplusbi5 karma

Thanks! I get the hangries easily so I really need to remember to eat more.

Are you going to NH this weekend? If so, any chance you'll be stopping in the Catskills on the way and need a climbing partner?

WillGadd4 karma

I know all about the Hangries! I'm on waffle duty for my kids, have a good one!

PaddlersFirst5 karma

G'day Will,

Mate how do you find the juggle between keeping climbing your passion but also your job? ie. the necessary evil of PR, Social media, sponsor commitments etc. as opposed to just climbing without having to think about GoPro footage, images etc.

WillGadd8 karma

Not super well a lot of the time, it's more put out a fire here and watch four more burn. But I do keep my time climbing and my time working separate--I don't bring GoPros with me when I'm training or just climbing with friends. I work when there's a camera on, and a camera changes the experience. I'm not some kind of purist, but I do believe the mountains are best experienced with as little intrusion as possible. I use social media but don't need to tweet what I had for breakfast. Plus I'm kinda dense at it all anyhow, need more lessons!

Kmac19775 karma

This past summer you did a big Paragliding Flight down the Rockies in Canada. Do you have plans for this summer and who would you like to fly it with?

WillGadd4 karma

Keith Mac! HAHAHA!

Gavin McClurg and I had a really good time, it would be fun to do something with him again, although he's too optimistic for my cowardly instincts. But this could be a really good summer for flying though. I'm stoked for it.

Erininthehouse5 karma

Whats been your scariest experience thus far?

WillGadd7 karma

This talk! Hahaha!

Well, it is! There's a fine line between fear and performance. I think I find speaking to say, large corporations, as terrifying as climbing Niagara Falls. But I use the same tools and tactics and get a lot of the same things out of both experiences. Again, it's about executing difficult things well, and doing what you wanna do, that's interesting and fun for me.

Seraph_Grymm5 karma

How did you feel going to your first jump? What was going through your head during the pivotal moment where you just said "screw it" and went for it?

WillGadd11 karma

Haha! By the time I go on one of these projects, I've put a tremendous amount of work and time into it. And if I don't feel like I have a high level of competency, and a good level of confidence, then I back down. I run away at least half the time I go into the mountains to try and do new things.

Running away is really underrated.

Nobody's tougher than the mountains. If you spool up to conquer the mountains, you're gonna lose. I just try to find cool ways to experience them - on their terms.

StarfishChris5 karma

Has there ever been a moment where you had a weird gut feeling before a jump, and not gone through with it? I can only imagine the moment where it just doesn't feel right or something.

WillGadd9 karma

If I have a weird feeling I stop until I understand it, and never try to push through that feel. I believe that's my subconscious processing things faster than I'm able to consciously, and I have sure learned to listen to that. Small clues piling up that are individually no big thing but cumulatively very important...

vagilante_justice5 karma

[deleted]

WillGadd9 karma

Yes and yes. It's called "re-entry," and it takes time. The outdoor world is often black and white, but relationships are shades of all kinds of subtle colours...

SilkyKitchen5 karma

Why did you want to climb Niagara Falls? Was being the first ever to climb it the main reason?

WillGadd4 karma

I wanted to climb Niagara Falls because it's the largest, wildest, most well-known waterfall. And as an ice climber, it's an obvious objective. But it's very much off-limits. New York State Parks is very careful to both protect the park for and from the 8 million annual visitors, and also the visitors from the park. There are a lot of bad decisions getting made right on the lip of a very dangerous waterfall, and the park police have to deal with that. So they are understandably cautious when someone rolls in and says they want to ice climb Niagara Falls.

Being the first to do anything is interesting, and I'm pretty sure that Sarah and I are the first to start at the bottom and the climb to the top.

And it was a lot of fun.

SirHammerLockThe3rd4 karma

What's up, man! I love your work and watching you be able to make a living through your passions is something I think everyone wishes they could do. I actually work for Red Bull as a Student Brand Manager for a large university (I'm a student), and I absolutely love it. My first question is what is it like having a company like Red Bull sponsor you? I've heard other athletes' accounts, but what's your experience been like? And secondly, how to you bring yourself, right in that moment before you have to do something huge, to do it? Growing up being an adrenaline junkie, when I'm in that moment where, let's say, I'm about to hit a blind 80' triple on my motocross bike, I usually just have to say 'fuck it' and just do it. What about you?

WillGadd4 karma

That's a good question. Thank you for your work as a SBM, right on! Red Bull is a combination of benevolent wealthy uncle, fraternity house, and really smart people who help me do things I would have a very hard time doing otherwise. I've been with Red Bull for 17 years now, and that's enabled me to have some of the best experiences of my life. No other company would take the risks that Red Bull has. Climb icebergs? Yeah, why not, it seems cool. So I owe a lot to Red Bull, and appreciate my good fortunate.

That sounds pretty hairball, stick it! I think when I was younger, I relied more on my skill to extract myself from messed up situations, and as I get older, I try to avoid those situations in the first place. If I don't feel confident, it's usually because I'm not super-competent at what I'm about to do. And the few times in my life where I've messed up the confidence / competence equation, it hasn't turned out well. So there's a time to hock it, but in general I try to operate from a position of strength.

invictusmonkey4 karma

how do i become you if I have no money or connections into the "extreme adventure" community?

Ive always dreamed of being an adventurer and being able to travel, but have never found an opportunity to do so.

was there any particular person or thing that you have to thank most for helping you get started?

WillGadd7 karma

Do your sports, they don't take a ton of money. If you love it enough and do it enough it will turn into your life, but I don't think it's possible to really get a degree in adventuring. Learn about marketing, writing, photography, video, etc, it all matters. Good luck!

semental4 karma

Hi Will,

I saw this response and have a follow up question.

Looking back at "20's Will", what do you now know about climbing and wish you had known then? What advice would you give him?

Thanks.

WillGadd5 karma

Work hard on learning the craft of the sports. You have to be solid technically, and truly understand the environments. That knowledge can come the hard way, getting hit upside the head with it, or from more educated people in the form of courses, mentorship, etc. I could have done a lot more had I learned more first and wasted less time learning basics through trail and error. And go out and do your sport a ton!!! That's what matters in the end.

clockwork_jesus4 karma

Your most embarrassing moment?

WillGadd13 karma

There are so many to choose from!

Oh boy... probably being 4 hours late to my own wedding, that was pretty good.

It involved bad friends and poor group decision making.

It worked out short-term. But my personal life is often less successful than my climbing life.

gloridhel4 karma

Hi Will, While you are certainly not old, you have decades on many top climbers-- how do you feel age impacts you from a physical and mental perspective?

WillGadd7 karma

What was the question again? HAHA!

I'm smarter about training, but I can tolerate less of it. I just try to keep moving, seems to be working so far!

courtiebabe4204 karma

[deleted]

WillGadd9 karma

I grew up in the Canadian Rockies, so backpacking, climbing, my parents called it "hiking" but I called it "forced death marching"... I also played basketball, volleyball, all of the standard high school sports in Canada. I was more a pick-up hockey player.

As for adrenaline, it's actually a shitty drug. Makes you feel nauseous, etcetera. What I'm into is executing really cool ideas safely, in rad places. For Niagara, I thought about it a lot, and climbing it - but you're never gonna climb it, right? It'd be like being an astronaut, that's probably never gonna climb Niagara either. It came about because Red Bull has good resources for permitting, and they were able to help me. I'm sort of an ADD athlete, you know?

It took a lot of work to get the approvals needed. It took place on the American side of Niagara, in the New York state park.

It took 8 months of planning, and an hour to do.

abitbolgeorges3 karma

What's under your nails ?

WillGadd5 karma

Chalk. Cuz I'm always training in the climbing gym.

theshowstoppa343 karma

With all the things you've concurred, what would you like to do next?

WillGadd3 karma

So many things, this planet is delicious!

Befozz3 karma

Where do you really want to visit that you have never been to before? What's your favorite "rainy day" activity?

WillGadd4 karma

Antarctica!

I want to climb ice on all seven continents. I've got that one to go.

Kayaking! Kayaking is the best in the rain. Doesn't much matter.

big-gato2 karma

I saw a headline on google news about you that said “Climber Will Gadd explains…” but I misread it as “Climber will gladd explain…” where I assumed gladd was slang for gladly, as in “I will gladd do a favor for you.” All of my friends have caught on, and you have become our favorite new slang. Do you approve?

WillGadd9 karma

Gladd-ly.

HAHAHA!

That is awesome!

hasan_adil2 karma

Hi Will, How would compare the technical nature of the route with other similar difficulty routes like the replicant or sea of vapors? In the amazing video, the climbing looked acrobatic and dynamic like it was mixed climbing on ice.

WillGadd2 karma

It was a lot of fun! Call it WI6 because it's the ice is somewhat sketchy, and I didn't want to fall on any of the gear I'd placed. I had faith that it would probably work, but an accident there would not be good!

SilkyKitchen2 karma

Do you have any piece of equipment you always carry or a specific pre-climb meal? Basically, do you have some type of good luck item or ritual that you always do before a climb?

WillGadd2 karma

No, just try to remember what I really need, that's challenging enough for my ADD mind! I once forgot my shoes for a paragliding comp that I was winning at the time...

airothar2 karma

Is it true your tounge will get stuck to frozen metal? If so how do you deal with that in your profession?

WillGadd3 karma

HAHAHA!

I use carbon ice tools, so that's not a problem.

[deleted]2 karma

[deleted]

WillGadd1 karma

Hahaha! I've also seen it outside of bars at closing time, regularly.

commodorefox1 karma

Will, if you could go on an expedition with any climber, past or present, who'd it be?

WillGadd5 karma

Oh boy.

I'd take myself at 20, and prevent a lot of the stupid shit I did!

I've been fortunate to climb with a lot of my heroes - from Jeff Lowe, to my dad, to Alex Lowe, Mark Twight, those were all great experiences that taught me a lot.