We are very excited to announce that Bryan Prater is now the General Manager of our Carrollton gym! Bryan has been a long-time member and employee, and if you don't already know him and love him, then prepare for him to be your new favorite. Because he is one of the funniest, nicest guys. Next time you see him in the gym, definitely ask him about some of his epic stories — not all of which I could fit in this post, and the ones that I do mention, some of the magic is lost in my retelling.
How long have you been with Summit for?
I started in January of 2013, at Summit Grapevine.. Before I started working desk, I was asked to act as a permanent photographer and videographer in exchange for a free membership. I would just take pictures and video at events we would have. I did that for maybe three months or so before they asked me if I wanted to start working there regularly.
How did you start climbing?
The very first I climbed was at Summit Grapevine, back when it was the only Summit. It was Martin Luther King, Jr. day in 2010. Yep, my first day climbing was on a day special. I went with two of my good friends, and I just remember at the very end of it. I couldn’t even straighten my fingers out. But for some reason, I just freakin' loved it and my two friends were almost horrified by it. So for the next month or two my friend and I would come in on the Monday Matinee special. Eventually I got a gear package, and just went from there.
Favorite climbing area?
When I visited Indian Creek in March, that was probably one of the coolest experiences for me. Because it was a place that I had been watching videos of for the past four or five years, and I finally got to do some of the routes that I had been watching other climbers on. I think why I loved it so much was because I was pretty much just kicked off on damn near every single route I got on. I took a lot of big falls on little gear, and it was awesome.
As far as fun route — like, I am enjoying it the entire time — there is this route at Indian Creek that is the most basic crack out there. It’s even called Generic Crack. It’s like 5.9, or 10a and it’s 120 feet of absolutely perfect hand jams, the type that you could throw in Grapevine's crack. But ... 120 feet of that. It was butt puckering fun.
Favorite Summit memory?
Any of the comps are my favorite times, because of the camaraderie going on — first, you’re trying to be an asshole and get to the front of the route before anybody else, but then you switch gears and once you get off, you’re right back cheering at your other friends and stuff. pretty much any time we have a competition i am just having a blast.
Little known facts about Bryan?
Before he was GM'ing here at Carrollton, he was a Fed Ex driver for about a year and a half. He worked evenings, and part of his route he described as the "strip club district." Every time you've seen a Fed Ex truck the driver probably has his doors open ... but as soon as some shady ladies started making an appearance, Bryan would be like "nope" and shut those things so fast.
He has competed in three 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hells. His most memorable Horseshoe experience was the year that he took a gnarly fall. He and his partner Austin both had the goal of climbing 150 routes each, which is a pretty insane feat. It was the last hour of the competition and they were about 10 routes away from their goal, so they started pushing it pretty hard. They were on their very last route, a fairly short 5.7, and it was gonna be a buzzer beater. Bryan is climbing this thing as fast as he can, but he is incredibly beat and the struggle is real. He is near the top and clipping the draw below him at his ankle, when his foot pops, and he's off. And falling. And falling. And also yelling. He said he got about four f-bombs in before "the next thing I know, I'm just standing on the ground, like nice and softly, and my partner Austin is just like, 10 or 15 feet up in the air." Bryan yells at his partner, "AUSTIN GET THE F%$# DOWN, I'M GOING BACK UP." But Bryan can't get his knot untied. He had fallen on it so hard that his figure-eight was impenetrable. "ALRIGHT, WHO'S GOT A KNIFE?" he yelled at the crag at large until, as he describes it "a knife slowly appears" and he sliced his knot off, retied back into the jagged end of the rope, and completed the route. My personal favorite memory of Horseshoe is seeing Bryan back at the trading post to turn in his scorecard. He looked both haggard and amped at the same time, and was still wearing his harness with a jagged little knot still attached. I asked him why he was still tied in and he screamed at me "I HAD IT CUT IT OFF." He still has the knot hanging from his rearview mirror to this day.
He had a couple funny run-ins with Alex Honnold that same weekend. After the competition was over, Bryan was driving his car over to the east side to get some climbing in. He was tired, tensions were high, and a tiny little rental car was blocking the path ahead of them. Whoever was driving was doing a terrible job of maneuvering the little car, and was partway through what appeared to be a 20-point turn. "WHO IS THIS F*%#HEAD?" Bryan yells with his window down. It was none other than Alex Honnold, who apologetically waved as he drove past.
Bryan has committed probably one of the worst crimes you could do while on a multi-pitch rappel. He dropped his ATC while changing ropes. This came at the end of a very epic climbing day (one he legitimately thought he was going to die during.) Just when he was asking himself if he remember the Munter hitch well enough to rappel off of, fate smiled upon him and he remembered he packed his spare ATC in his pack.
He spent a summer working at Yellowstone National Park, which is where Bryan said his love of multi-pitch was first awoken. He worked in the co-op employee recreation program, and got to lead park employees on awesome off-day adventures, like rafting trips and backpacking trips.
It's obvious that this guy has seen some things ... He's a pretty awesome resource to come to if you want any advice on climbing trips or big wall climbing, or if you're just bored and want to be entertained and horrified at the same time by his stories. I dare you to find Bryan and say hi before he does!