You all know him — you love him — he's the bearded mountain man who makes rude commentary during the Summit Series Bouldering comps — it's Summit Grapevine GM Alex "Franny" Francis! Or Franny Panties if you are trying to annoy him, which I would personally recommend doing. But it's definitely not because he let out the most rancid fart of my life as I collected this info from him, and not because my questions were choked out between gags and tears. If you know Franny, you're not surprised — but if you don't, here's a quick little Q&A I put together so you can better know the tall, hairy dude standing behind the counter at Summit who is probably farting as you read this.
How long have you been a manager with Summit?
I started managing Summit Carrollton from October to May 2013/2014 and then I managed Grapevine from May until now. So about a year and a half.
How long have you been climbing?
I've been climbing for 11 years. I was the first person on Kids Club. Me and Tiny (the Team Texas nickname given to Franny's younger brother, Kyle) went to a boy scout camp at Carrollton back when it was Exposure, and we liked it so much that my mom called the gym and asked about an after school program, which they didn’t have at the time. A couple days later, she got a call back from Kyle, because Kyle thought it was a great idea and wanted to start it. When we started out it was basically me, Tiny and Kyle doing lessons and then it kind of grew from there. (It's probably only fitting that Franny is in charge of the Kids Club at Grapevine now then, right?) Then I was on Kids Club from January to May and then did summer camps in the summer, and then joined Team Texas in the fall of 2003 and I was on team until I graduated in 2009. I continued to work for the team as a Summer Trip guide until 2013 and then I started working for Summit as the GM of Grapevine.
Favorite climbing area?
Red Rocks in Nevada.
Choir Boys in Hueco Tanks.
Favorite Summit memory?
Making short jokes about Lindsay Murray while she’s climbing in finals at the Dallas Summit Bouldering Series competition. (To be fair, she is pretty short. Glad I'm not that short, that's for sure.)
Little known facts about Franny:
He has a degree in Zoology from Team A&M. Despite Franny's insistence that it is pronounced Zoh-ology, it's probably actually pronounced Zoo-ology. Probably. I read it in a book once. Which I'm not sure was a book. It might have been nothing.
Also, he once set himself on fire during a team trip to the Red. He set his baggy emo teenager jeans aflame by standing too close to a space heater, but still continued to climb for the rest of the trip with second and third degree burns on his knee. One particularly sensitive team mother (Hi mom!) referred to him as "Sparky" for many years after that.
His biggest claim to fame might just be his ability to clap with one hand.
Well there you have it. Everything you need to know about Alex Francis, and maybe a bunch of stuff you didn't need to know, but are definitely glad you learned. So next time you see him, say "Hey Franny! How are you? How's your Zoology going?" But it's Zoo-ology. Not Zoh. Remember that.