Our People: Always looking to climb
Gym owner Robertson makes hobby a career.
Last updated 1/22/2022 at 9:24am
For as long as he can remember, Chris Robertson was a climber. The Clovis native and owner of the Clovis Rock Gym was born and raised in the area, but at 18 left home to pursue a management position at an auto parts store.
Robertson spent a decade away from Clovis, first in Santa Fe and then Albuquerque. In 2017, it was time to come home and bring his passion for climbing with him. For the last five years, Robertson has been dedicating himself professionally to sharing his passion for rock climbing with his community.
When he's not at his rock gym on Commerce, he can usually be found country swing dancing or working up a sweat at other local gyms.
Q: What got you into rock climbing?
A: I would climb everything as a kid and young teen. Houses, buildings, trees, rock formations and of course climbing walls. If some place had a rock wall, I had to do it. I guess you could say it was something in my blood.
Q: How long have you worked at the Clovis Rock Gym? What is your job title? Can you tell me a little bit about what you do and how you got into running the gym?
A: I have worked for Clovis Rock Gym since it was nothing more than an idea running around in my head. I want to say March 2017? My job title is owner, but I have been running a one-man operation since opening day. So I wear many hats during the workday. It could be financial management, advertising, maintenance, route setting, customer service, etc. I've had volunteers throughout the years and they've been life savers for me and Clovis Rock Gym. I can honestly never thank them enough for what they've done.
Q: What is one thing you absolutely love about living in Clovis?
A: The sunsets. I've been to numerous places, beaches, mountains, cities, etc. and watched the sunset. Nothing compares to the colors I've seen here. I have a theory that the red dirt and constant wind does something to make them so beautiful, which is hard to duplicate anywhere else.
Q: Where is your favorite place to climb?
A: The Enchanted Tower near Datil, NM. The approach is beautiful, there are tons of crags (climbing areas) to choose from and some of the most interesting climbs I've done over my climbing career. Plus, it's primitive out there. Only you, your company, the tower and nature. One of my fondest memories is after a day of climbing at the tower with a group of friends, we had dinner over a fire and slept on hammocks under the night sky. There was no light pollution and the glow from our moon was so bright that it lit up the pass we were camping in. It was almost enough for us to keep climbing at night with no extra lights.
Q: If you could meet any famous person (living or dead), who would it be and why?
A: Robin Williams. He seems like an all-around good guy. I feel he would be someone who could keep you laughing and entertained, but also talk to you heart-to-heart if needed. Robin was an actor I grew up watching, and I can't think of any roles that he did not do an amazing job in. He is also one of the few actors that has not had anything negative from his past brought up since his passing. My appreciation could also stem from the fact that he looks and reminds me so much of my father.
Q: What is one of your biggest bucket list items?
A: Wakeboarding. I've surfed, snowboarded, skated, mountainboarded, and longboard -- but I've never tried wakeboarding. It has never come across as an option for me to try and it has always intrigued me. But trying to find somebody with a boat, gear and the same free time as me seems almost impossible. Hopefully that's something I can check off before 2023.
Q: What was your favorite movie as a child? Why did you love it so much?
A: That would have to be "Dragonheart." It's one of the few movies I could watch on repeat to my parents' disgust. I loved the storyline and at the time, it's VFX was amazing. I also had an obsession with dragons and still to this day have a strong interest in the medieval era. (I have armor with my family crest tattooed across my shoulder and down my arm.) It also had some of the best actors of the time in it; Dennis Quaid, Sean Connery, Jason Isaacs and Helena Bonham-Carter to name a few.
Q: If you could go anywhere for a day, where would it be and why?
A: This is an easy one, Bora Bora. I've always loved the beach and tropical locations. Every time I see an image of somewhere beautiful like that, it has Bora Bora tagged as the location.
Q: If you won the lottery, how would you spend the money?
A: I'd spend it the same way as probably anybody would. Pay off my debts, buy a house, buy a car and take care of my family. I'd hire a financial advisor and make sure the money wasn't wasted, and to invest it properly to ensure a safe future for myself and family. I've always been careful with how I spend my income and name brands or being prestigious never really appealed to me.
Honestly, I would like to use what is left of the winnings to be the silent benefactor to those who needed it. I wouldn't want businesses, charities, or people to reach out to me. I'd want to be present or hear about it in passing and for them to not know I was a lottery winner. I'd help the people who you see in grocery stores having to put items back, the ones who have car issues and need to get to work, or who have a great idea for a business or item and can't get the funding they need, those who run small charities, etc.
I'm one of those people who gets shy when they have attention drawn to them, so being a silent benefactor would be amazing.
Q: In your opinion, what's the most important thing any rock climber should remember?
A:: There is one thing I tell all my new and experienced climbers: "Climbing is one of the few things in life that changes the idea of, 'I can't' to 'I did.'" You will struggle, get frustrated and say the route or problem is impossible, but after some time and practice you will reach the finish. I've watched climbers struggle on a route for weeks while barely making any progress. Then something will just "click" and they'll make a few more moves hopefully to the finish. Afterwards they'll talk to me and say how easy the problem/route is once they've completed it a few times. You just have to reach a little farther, hold on a little longer or get out of your comfort zone to reach the top.