Jill Sompel - 3RD ROCK - Sustainable | Innovative | Activewear

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Jill Sompel

Hometown: Greensburg, Pennsylvania
Currently Resides: San Rafael, California
Years Climbing: 8


'Don't take yourself too seriously, Nobody else does.'

Career Highlights:
  • The Juice 8b+ Jailhouse, California
  • Jailbait 8a+ Jailhouse, California
  • Sardonique 8a Kalymnos, Greece
  • Oxygen 8a Smith Rocks, Oregon
  • Pren Nota 8a Siurana, Spain
  • Warped Factor 7c+ Donner Summit, California
  • Marci Marc 7c+ Kalymnos, Greece
  • Snooker 7c+ Red River Gorge, Kentucky
  • Dragon Lady v4 Little Rock City, Tennessee

Tell me a little bit about your climbing history and how you got started?

I was a gymnast as a child, until the age of 14 when I decided to quit competing for a number of reasons beyond my control. My mother, being a personal trainer, always promoted health and fitness in our household. I continued to tumble and lift weights all through college. I was introduced to climbing during my 1st year of college and just thought of it as a great way to get a full body workout and get to be outside. Little did I know, those couple times outside would blossom to become my ultimate life passion!

What is it you love most about climbing?

I love the physical challenge and seeing the process of a climb go from impossible to possible.

I love our community. I love going to places all over the world and meeting like-minded, intelligent, extremely talented individuals with morals similar to my own. I love how we all really just want to live out of a van, have little to no material possessions, eat sardines from a can, work as little as possible, sleep under the stars, all in order to maximize our time outdoors and spend quality time with each other. That's what's important in life: spending your precious time on this Earth doing what you love with the people you love. All the other stuff is just fluff.

What was the turning point in your climbing career where you decided to take it more seriously and make it your life?

I was introduced to climbing in college and really just thought of it as a great way to get a full body workout and be outside. Shortly after that introduction, I moved to a hot, humid beach town far away from rocks and realized how passionate I was about climbing and how much I needed it in my life. I made the decision to go to nursing school in Chattanooga, TN to maximize my ability to travel and climb, not really knowing the epic amount of rock I was about to have right in my backyard. The city of Chattanooga, climbing and the amazing community there had a large part of helping me get through 4 years of nursing school. Chatty will always hold a special place in my heart. 

What is your proudest ascent in climbing & what’s the story around it?

Some of my best climbing achievements aren't necessarily high in the grade but are climbs that I deemed impossible for myself and was able to accomplish with a lot of work. One that comes to mind is a boulder problem called Dragon Lady v4 at Stone Fort in Tennessee. I basically began my climbing career at this boulder field and watched many men walk up to this boulder problem on their first day climbing and easily do the problem. I was never able to send it using heinous tall people beta with my short wingspan. The day I sent one of my hardest and proudest boulders to date, Bedwetters v9 at Stone Fort, I decided that was the day I would unlock Dragon Lady. I spent the rest of the day after my Bedwetters send working out the beta for Dragon Lady and finally sent, but not without a fight! It just goes to show how different climbs and grades can feel for each individual person. Another similar route was Warped Factor 7c+ at Donner Summit. I never thought I would be able to link all the iron cross/shouldery moves but with a lot of hard work, specific workouts and patience, I was able to send!  Those are the accomplishments that stick out most in my head, because they forced me to work hard and out of my comfort zone, which ended up paying off.

What is your favourite type of route/type of climbing?

I'm definitely more of a sport climber at this point, although I began climbing with bouldering. My favorite type of climbing tends to be steep, gymnastic-esque routes in caves or tiered roofs but I can get down with techy vertical climbing also. I like switching it up when things start to feel easy.

What is it about climbing that keeps you doing it for so long?

The challenge and learning process is what keeps me coming back for more. Climbing is so much more than just strength. Pushing myself past mental barriers and physical weaknesses and seeing success, even if it's a small amount, is what draws me to this sport. Also, being outside is a total necessity in my life. I turn into a complete lunatic if I spend too much time inside.

If you could summarize your outlook on life in a sentence what would it be?

"You can always make money, but you cant make time."

3RD ROCK/why did you choose 3RD ROCK?

I was drawn to 3rd Rocks values and commitment to reducing waste and doing what they can to help save our environment.  I've always been a big fan of second hand stores and 3rd rock takes second hand to another level using recycled plastic bottles and "pre-loved" fabrics to make clothes. Such a great idea! I also love that they donate a portion of their earnings to organizations that raise environmental and human rights awareness.  Really from every angle, 3rd Rock has got it going on.

Any unusual hobbies or skills?

Back in the day, I was a gymnast. Bars and floor were my favorite events. Sometimes, I can still pull out some fun tumbling passes or a standing press. My adult self dreams of being able to do a sitting press to handstand again one day!

Any unusual facts about yourself/your past?

I used to pass out when I got my blood drawn and never wanted anything to do with the medical field. I decided to go to nursing school in order to maximize my freedom to climb but I was nervous I’d never be able to handle the blood. I figured the ER would be a good place to fully immerse myself in the hospital to condition me for nursing. Luckily, it ended up being a challenging, fruitful career fit for me.

What are your goals/projects for 2018?

My goals for 2018 include traveling for climbing as much as possible but also spending time at my local crag, Jailhouse, during my working months. I'm trying not to renew my gym membership this year, which would be a totally awesome goal to only sport climb outside for the entire year and never go to the gym! Also, I've recently broken into some higher grades which have been daunting to me for a very long time. Now that the mental barrier is broken, I hope to put down a few more 13+'s during the year 2018. Last but not least, make sure to have fun enjoy each process along the way.

Best training secret?

Keep it fresh! So much of climbing has nothing to do with actual strength. If you find yourself burning out, do something different and fun for you. I find it hard to make any gains if you are doing a workout or training regime you aren't psyched on. Best secret? Go outside, try hard, take some whips, and get out some good laughs.

Follow Jill

Vimeo @jsompel