Know Your Routesetter: Denis Firstov, setter for Summit Gyms

We're steadily making our way through all the routesetters! This week we talked to Denis Firstov, another one of the tall guys on our routesetting team (and always with a pretty great  haircut!) Denis is a pretty busy guy, balancing full-time routesetting with coaching ClimbFit, being enlisted in the National Guard as well as traveling quite a bit in pursuit of adventure, but I snagged him for a few minutes for this post. 

How long have you been working at Summit?

About two years. I first started as the assistant manager at Carrollton. 


How did you start climbing?

I have been climbing for almost 7 years. I started in college, because there was a Rock Climbing 101 class at my school, and I needed a PE credit. So I took the class ... and then I took Rock Climbing 201 because I loved it so much, and then just dropped out and started rock climbing.


What was your start in routesetting?

I was actually working a routesetting internship with Earth Treks back in Maryland (his former state of residence). When I started working here in Dallas , I met Chris and said I was interested in routesetting. After I bugged him, I did the routesetting internship here and now here I am.


How about your work with the ClimbFit program?

 I am the fitness coach for ClimbFit. I am basically the strength and conditioning coach for a portion of each class, so I come up wth workouts for people to help them get stronger. I do some of ClimbFit's climbing instruction, as well, with Mario Stanley.


Favorite climbing area?

Monster Rock in Austin. It's so private and super secluded and all the routes are awesome, so I like it. 


Favorite climb?

Pay at the Pump 13a/b, an amazing roof route at the North Shore at Reimer's.


Why routesetting?

 Because I kinda have this obsession with rock climbing. When I saw the routesetters at Earth Treks, I thought their ability to actually create these boulder problems was such a different and unique job. I thought that was awesome and really wanted to be able to do that.


Routsetting goals?

To be honest, I just like really powerful climbing.  Like when you have to lock off and just go for this really small crimp, or doing giant dynos is my type of climbing. 


Favorite Summit memory?

My favorite memory is the first Summit staff Christmas party I went to. I thought it was awesome because I got to meet everybody at the gym, and one of the White Elephant gifts was so hilarious.


Little know facts about Denis:

He was born in Russia in a really small town just outside of Moscow. He said he lived in the "Russian-style projects" until he moved to Siberia with his grandparents. Yep ... friggin' Siberia. He and his parents moved to the U.S. when he was 6. He's still fluent in Russian, though!


During his childhood in Russia, he died.

Like, actually died. A two-year-old Denis and his family were swimming in the Black Sea, when little Denis in his arm floaties was swept under a wave. By the time he was fished out of the water, he was clinically dead. Luckily, he was resuscitated on shore — so the Denis we know and love today is actually a zombie ... more or less ... something like that. 

He is currently enlisted in the National Guard, and has two years left in his six-year term. 

He is pretty talented at making electronic music! Check out his SoundCloud here, and his song "Sleepless Nights" apparently made the charts in the UK.

He was an EMT in high school. Instead of going home after class and vegging out to video games, he trained to be an EMT, and worked in an ambulance on the weekends. He was living in a small town so he said the worst stuff he saw was "car crashes, strokes, and overdoses, nothing too crazy." Which is legitimately crazy when the worst thing I've seen is like, a broken ankle. 

There ya go! He routesets, he saves lives, he's had his life saved, and he makes sweet jamz bro. Denis is a multi-talented guy, and we are pretty glad he chose to major in rock climbing and come work for us!