Meet Carlos Quiles | Competitive Climbing Team Captain

Introduction; can you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?

My name is Carlos and I live in Middletown, CT.  I’ve been climbing since 2014 and this was my 5th USA Paraclimbing Nationals.  

You were a huge part in getting our team started, can you talk a little bit about that process?

In regards to the beginning of the Paradox Team, it started with conversations I was having back and forth with Nate after competitions, especially before last year’s Nationals.  Living in Connecticut, we don’t have a local paraclimbing team to climb, train and travel with and have that support that a team provides.  There’s a paraclimbing team in Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York, but I’m not close enough to be able to climb with those folks so I’ve always kind of stuck to myself and competed on my own.  So, I’ve had a lot of those conversations with Nate and we entertained the idea of starting something in Connecticut and maybe starting a new non-profit.  To be honest, I’m not sure how the conversation came about, but the topic of would this be something Paradox would be interested in and make it not a local team, but a team where individuals who aren’t close to established clubs and teams could join and have some of the team opportunities and aspects and not be limited to a location and have a team from all over the country. 

I think that’s where it all kind of started as well as with the thought that Paradox is already known for climbing, so would there be any interest in supporting paraclimbing since it’s grown so much in the last 5 years.  It felt like it would fit the mission of Paradox.  So those were the initial conversations and we figured out that this could provide something that wasn’t there yet. 

It was exciting for me to be a Paradox athlete last year and be in a uniform but be the only one there and then this year, having teammates and seeing that come to fruition in a year.  Debuting at Nationals and having people talk about it was very exciting. 

Was this your first comp climbing with a team?  If so, what was that experience like for you?

Yeah, this was my first Nationals climbing with a team and I remember saying that it was exciting to be a part of a team and having other teammates to cheer on and hang out with and go to team dinners and just keeping each other on track and having other people to reach out to and help guide you if you didn’t have the answer for something.  It was fun to represent Paradox and have uniforms and take team pictures. It was a different and positive experience from other comps I’ve been to since I wasn’t on a team and I would travel alone.  In general, paraclimbing is a very supportive community and everyone cheers each other on but it was fun to be like “I know Tanner’s going to be climbing in the next 5 minutes so let’s go watch him climb” or “Lindsay’s about to do a cool tech route, I’m going to go check it out”.  Having those people around to cheer on or catch on the livestream was really exciting to be a part of.  

I think having a team aspect for someone who is experiencing their first ever Nationals is really beneficial.  It’s a great support system.  Especially when someone new comes in; you have to go through qualifications and learn about what to expect at the comp and going through classifications and how the format works since qualifiers and finals have a different format so that can be really confusing and challenging for a newcomer. 

What are your hopes for the team?  Where do you anticipate the team ends up?

For me, where I’d like to see the team go and what I’d like to see it look like in the future is for it to get to a point where we can financially support more athletes, but also provide other things besides just the financial piece that can help athletes excel at Nationals and world competitions.  

In an ideal world I would like the team to be able to provide a coach that can put personalized workouts together and provide feedback virtually. Provide access to a nutritionist that can help educate everyone on the world of supplements and proper nutrition while training. Have an athletic trainer with us during comps that can help with warm ups, taping, and address any injuries that may occur. 

Our format in qualifiers is that you’re given 3 hours to climb and you have 3 routes to climb for your category but some people may climb each route 2 or 3 times to see if they can top it or maybe they didn’t do so well on their first attempt so they try it again.  So you can do 3-4 hard climbs in that time that you wouldn’t normally do, or you might not be used to climbing that hard.  So having a team trainer or physical therapist would be really helpful.  Especially given the categories that are competing.  For example, a seated climber that is only climbing with their arms may be worried about elbow and shoulder injuries and so on.  Again, this is all a big picture if funding wasn’t an issue.

Were there any moments that stuck out for you at Nationals?  Anything that was really impactful?

I mean the whole weekend.  It was such a fun weekend and you’re on a climbing high the whole time so when you go home you do go through somewhat of a withdrawal, or at least I do.  I’ve always said that climbing is such a unique sport and a more unique adaptive sport in which you have an overlap with mens and womens USA finals and paraclimbing USA finals.  Being able to be there and watch their finals and then go straight into a competition and having Kyra Condie and some of the other climbers there watching our US Nationals is awesome that it’s very inclusive in that way.  I always give props to the sport of climbing for that because it’s not something you see in other adaptive sports.  It’s very rare to see something like that at a National or an International level where able bodied climbing championships are happening at the same event.  

And I think it’s just the fact that it’s growing this year as well, it was the biggest group of athletes at Nationals.  It looked more professional with the live streaming and all of the information that they gathered beforehand so when they were doing the announcing on the livestream, they had background information on the climbers so they weren’t having to make stuff up on the fly.  It allowed access for people at home to watch.  

Because of the Paradox involvement and sharing posts through social media, I was getting messages after the fact from people that I didn’t even realize were paying attention to this saying things like “Oh I watched you on the live stream and was following along throughout the competition!”.  They were following along because they saw it through Paradox’s social media, not even from things that I was posting so it was cool to see that we were able to expose it to more people.  

So what’s next for you?  Will you be at the World Cup in Salt Lake City?  

So actually I don’t think Salt Lake for me is doable.  For me, it’s Switzerland.  That has been my goal all year leading up to this.  If I’m only going to go to one International comp it will be the World Championship because it only happens once every 2 years whereas the World Cups are a yearly thing. 

Anything else you’d like to share!

I just want to thank Paradox for taking the idea and running with it and making it happen.  Once I saw that application come out and seeing that you got an overwhelming number of applicants was exciting.  It sounded like everyone was excited and it was fun to hear the buzz about it.  It’s just the beginning and there’s going to be plenty more to come hopefully and the stories we get out of this competition can help bring other people on board to help achieve what we want to accomplish.

Photo Descriptions:

Photo 1: Carlos climbing at the Paraclimbing Nationals competition this past March in Austin, TX.  Carlos is on a route that is slightly overhung and has blue, yellow, and pink juggy holds as well as a large, yellow volume.  He is wearing black pants and a black shirt.  His right arm is outstretched over his head holding onto a pink hold as he reaches for a hold with his left hand. Photo by Daniel Gajda.

Photo 2: Carlos is sitting in his wheelchair and looking up and right and smiling.  He is sitting in front of a grey, rock wall and wearing grey pants and a light blue t-shirt with the Paradox Sports logo.  He is wearing a white helmet.

Photo 3:  Carlos on a route at the Paraclimbing Nationals.  He is on a route with green, white and black holds.  The photo is taken from the side and Carlos is holding onto a hold with his left hand and the rope with his right as he looks down and to the right while smiling. Photo by Daniel Gajda.

Photo 4: Carlos climbing in another climbing competition.  He is on an overhung route with purple holds.  His hands are matched on a large jug as his body hangs below him.  He is wearing dark pants and a neon green t-shirt that has a bright orange comp bib on the back.

Photo 5: This picture is taken so that the viewer can see the entire wall in the photo.  There are 3 climbers on the wall and Carlos is in the middle climbing on a route with green, blue and yellow holds as well as quite a few large volumes.  Carlos is about one third of the way up the wall.  At the bottom of the photo you can see his belayer, several people watching, and his wheelchair.

*For the next two weeks until May 28th, all funds raised from the Rossmonster Camper Van sweepstakes will go directly towards supporting our team members. Enter here and get 50% more tickets while supporting Carlos and his teammates.