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When life gives you bad holds… you just have to use them.

Natural-born climber… that’s one way to describe Tosh Sherkat. Born and raised by climber parents in Nelson, BC, Tosh has been part of the BC climbing community ever since he was a toddler. The 18-year old has come a long way from his BC roots and is now a seasoned traveler, competitor and Climb Base5 Open Performance team member. We caught up with Tosh in between his travels and competitive season to learn about what gets him fired up.

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How did you get into climbing?
I’ve been climbing for over 14 years, probably since I could start walking. It’s something that has been a part of me because my parents were climbers and so I was always surrounded by the climbing culture and community. As I got older, it felt like an obvious progression to join the youth climbing team in Nelson. Since then, there hasn’t been really much doubt that climbing is what I love, a part of me, and something that I want to grow with, develop and excel at.

As a climber and competitor, how do you stay focus?
One of the benefits of being on a team has been to work closely and have access to coaches like Andrew Wilson and Matt Johnson. They’ve helped me to develop strategies to focus and calm myself before getting on big climbs or going out to compete. I don’t want to share all my secrets, but deep breathing and visualization has been part of my training routine! With regular training and coaching, I find it easier to focus and I don’t think so much about it. It also helps a lot to be around other athletes where we push each other to get better – it gives me more drive to focus and train as hard as I can!

With your drive to be a better climber, how will you take your climbing to the next level?
While physical training will always make you a stronger climber, I need to adapt and be mentally stronger so that I take the energy and focus I put into training and use it when competing. Personally, I believe that being a better climber comes from being more confident as a person.

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How do you approach challenges in life? Does climbing help?
There are so many metaphors between climbing technique and life. I have to say that my favorite is the “when life gives you lemons” parallel. For me it basically means that no matter how bad the hold is, you just have to use it. In life and in climbing, I try to take as many perspectives as I can when facing challenges. Hearing from others or seeing a problem from a different angle really helps me find a way to solve it. I really enjoy dedicating myself to a challenge until it’s finished… Maybe sometimes the beta is just trying really, really hard!

Climbing is such a huge part of me and my everyday life so being able to know how to focus and commit myself entirely to something is one of the biggest lessons and skills that climbing has taught me.

So it must mean a lot to you to be on the Climb Base5 Open Performance Team?
I was so excited when I made it onto the team this season… it’s been a journey. Last year I applied to be on the team, but when it came to the selection camp I realized that I wasn’t ready and so did the coaches. But with some guidance and additional training, I’ve made huge improvements to my physical and mental abilities. It’s probably why this year was my time and I’m really enjoying the coaching and teamwork where all the team members can improve as a climber and as a person.

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With such a long history of climbing, what are the highlights for you?
There are so many that it’s hard to pick! One of the fondest memories was when I came fifth at Nationals in Youth B and made the national team as an alternate. This was the first year I competed so to make the national team was such an amazing experience. Ground Up also has a special place in my highlight reel because it’s where I won my first local competition (Route Comp 2016) and where I reached my first open bouldering final (6th place at the 2016 bouldering competition). This season I was able to stand on the Youth National podium (in bouldering), which has been a huge goal of mine for as long as I’ve been competing. As for the outdoors, ‘Churning in the Wake’, my first 5.13 in Smith Rock.

What don’t we know about you?
For one, I don’t live in the Lower Mainland but I’m based out in Squamish. And when I say that climbing is part of life, it’s true because I moved five times when I was in high school just to be able to climb! Last but not least, most people are surprised when I tell them I’m a musician. I play guitar, sing, and write music. Last but not least, my sister, Tula is also a competitive climber, competing it the Youth C category!

Last weekend I was on the island completing my Climbing Gym Instructor Level 1 course🗒✏ . Besides now being certified to run lessons and belay tests, it also furthers my education into how to be a better coach. . Dedicating more time to being youth climbing team coach is a huge future goal, and pictured here is my sister, and longest standing athlete @tula.sherkat feeling some "post-round relief". . 📸@kingkatken . #sportclimbing #coaching #youthcompetitiveteam #liveyourdreams #bouldering #eatsleepclimbrepeat #climbing_is_my_passion #climbing_pictures_of_instagram #climbonsquamish #e9clothing #e9climbing #e9canada #grippedmagazine #doyouclimb #competitionclimbing #outdoorlifestyle @climbbase5gym @e9_team_canada @climbonsquamish @climbgroundup

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This is part of a series to profile the 2016/2017 Open Performance Team members.