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Zach Lerner
 lemont, PA 

Rock Climbing / Bouldering, Competition

Zach Lerner has a few missions in life. Two of them: finish grad school for a PhD, and send V15. Zach studies, works, and puzzles over the fundamentals of physical movement both in school and in his spare time on boulders. Zach has been athlete with Mad Rock almost since the beginning, and he's never been able to stay away from big competitions or difficult projects and lesser-known projects.

Ok. Zach. How old are you now, and where, when, and why did you start climbing?
I'm 24 now, and I started climbing when I was 12. Where I grew up in Pennsylvania, there wasn't a climbing gym, so I convinced a few other local climbers to help me build a co-op in an old barn. The wall is thriving to this day, and is still one of my favorite places to climb on plastic.

Wow. So when there was no gym, you just built your own wall! Does your family climb?
No, but my sister is very talented at pull-ups (for a girl). This is not a sexist comment, just a big brother comment.

Noted. What's your personality, in a word, phrase or sentence?
Type A to a tee.

Haha. What famous person do you most relate to (dead or alive)?
Bruce Lee said, "There are no limits. There are only plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you." I relate to the way that he lived his life, giving maximal effort to everything.

And what are your hobbies or interests besides climbing?
We just got a foosball table in the Biomechanics lab where I'm a graduate research assistant, so that's been a hobby of mine lately.

Foosball is good for a rest day. Ear candy of choice?
I've been listening to Crystal Castles and M83 radio stations on Pandora lately.

Loving the Goodbooks remix. Where do you go to school?
I went to Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff for Mechanical Engineering. I'm now a PhD candidate in Biomedical Engineering at Colorado State University, in Fort Collins.

Woah, you're getting a PhD! What are you researching?
I'm interested in research that involves using musculoskeletal modeling to analyze the biomechanics of how we move…and using that information as a predictive tool to analyze locomotion, to validate the benefits of proper exercise prescription, and to assist in the design of movement aiding/joint-unloading devices.

If we understand the components that lead to musculoskeletal injury we can design ways to prevent them, with the overall goal of improving quality of life through physical activity.

Any random talents besides being a scientist?
I'm pretty good at collecting Apple products and making breakfast for dinner (aka "brinner").

Favorite game (Angry Birds, Words with Friends, Monopoly...)?
Cribbage. I'm "Worded" out at the moment.

Switch to Scramble. So who are your heroes?
Timy Fairfield, Chris Sharma, and Ben Moon

Who do you climb with usually?
I climb with my girlfriend Andrea, and our obese wanna-be Dalmatian Abbie.

And where and how do you train?
My training consists of climbing specific exercises (like 4x4's, circuits, double dynos, etc) as well as hang-board and campus board exercises. I'll only do structured training before competitions and long climbing trips; otherwise I use training to maintain a baseline fitness.

And what motivates you to compete?
The adrenaline and excitement of competitions make them addicting. I'm motivated to compete because it provides me with tangible goals, and keeps me trying hard.

Cool! What do you do in the climbing community?
Eesh, I wish that I did more. I enjoy route setting in the local gym, and I've done some coaching as well.

On a long day of climbing...
What's your favorite climbing fuel?

Coffee and Scones.

Correct answer! What's your preferred clothing?
Blurr makes really excellent clothes for both climbing and school/work.

And what are some frustrations?
Being injured is a frustration that everyone will have to deal with if they're pushing themselves. Getting injured refuels my motivation ‘bank', and it makes it painfully clear what a life without climbing would be like! It's all a part of the process.

And what are you scared of most when climbing?
Getting injured!

Amen, brother. What are your current projects?
I've recently moved to Colorado, and I'm fortunate to have RMNP and Mt Evans in my backyard. As soon as the snow melts, I'll be back up at the Park to try and complete Aslan.

Direct North, at the Buttermilks in Bishop, is a beautiful and proud line on the Grandma Peabody boulder that I came really close to repeating during a short trip there last year. I would love to get back on it! [Ed. Note: Both lines are V14.]

What will you do in 5 years? 30 years?
In 5 years, I'll probably be climbing 5 times harder than I am now. And in 30 years…I'd like to be a professor.

Any big projects?
Balancing school/work/climbing/travel!

Haha. What would you change about the world?
Here in the US, I think it would be beneficial for our cities to be designed for pedestrians and public transportation rather than cars. This would force people to actually walk or bike places, as well as reduce consumption and pollution. I think it's really cool that in Switzerland many of their amazing (and remote) climbing areas are reachable by bus.

True! I would definitely up Hueco via Greyhound. By the way, who would win in a fight? Jens Larssen or ClimbingNarc?
Jens would employ some crazy psychological warfare and win, hands down! Actually, I'm not sure who CN even is…

Imagine Brian from Family Guy, and you're not far off. And finally: If Mad Rock could invent anything never been seen before on earth, what would it be?
A robot that would fold my socks.

We'll get started. Thanks for the interview!

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