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Sean McColl

For more than two decades, Sean has been a competitive sport climbing force. Now based in North Vancouver, BC, his accomplishments span the globe – and have landed him 34 World Cup medals, 12 Canadian Open National Champion titles, and the honour of qualifying for and competing in climbing’s first-ever Olympic Games at Tokyo 2020.

Many record-setting achievements he racked up as a young climber still stand today. To build the next generation of crushers, Sean has shared his expertise and skills as a head coach for the Canadian Youth National Teams. Outside of the gym, his crag credentials include onsighting 5.14a (8b+) and climbing multiple 5.14d’s (9a). On the bouldering side, Sean is one of a dozen climbers in the world to flash the grade of V13 (8B) and redpoint V15 (8C).

Along with being a professional climber, Sean has completed grade 9 Royal Conservatory Piano, can solve a Rubik’s cube ridiculously fast, and has first-hand knowledge of working at an MEC store – way back when he was in high school (from staffer to Ambassador, we love it).

As for future goals? Short-term, he’s on a mission to qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. Beyond that, Sean aims to keep supporting the Canada’s competitive climbing program and eventually coach athletes on their quest for the Olympics – and to see who’s next to set some records.

“Life will give you whatever you put in. It’s a relationship and nothing is free. I expect it to test me, challenge me and reward me. Most things take time, energy and perseverance.”

Instagram: @mccollsean

Get to know Sean

Favourite thing about climbing?

How much other climbers enjoy it. It’s a lifestyle, a hobby and a career. I can climb with friends who do it a few times a year, and I can train with other Olympians. There’s a line for everyone. I love sharing climbing with others, and I love being around motivated high-performance athletes. It’s something I can never get enough of.

What’s your number one climbing tip?

People always wonder how to get better at climbing, like there’s some secret trick. The base thing is just to get good at all types of movement, even the ones you’re bad at. It doesn’t really matter which boulders you do – what matters more are the ones you can’t do. It’s all learning. Watch climbers of all skills as well; it’s amazing what you can learn by watching others try or do the same lines you’ve already seen. It’s all about problem solving when you’re alone on those mats, so the faster you can do it, the better you can be.

Something people don’t know about you?

My quickest solve on a standard 3x3 Rubik’s cube is 32 seconds. My average across 100 cubes? Under a minute.

What was a defining outdoor moment?

When I redpointed Dreamcatcher (5.14d) at the end of 2011. I’d just finished a good World Cup season and I felt exceptionally fit. I dedicated a couple of weeks and spent most days up there piecing it all together.

Who inspires you?

In the climbing world, I was always inspired by Chris Sharma and Kilian Fischhuber. Chris was my idol growing up because he was laid back, very nonchalant, but extremely strong. Kilian became my idol when I came onto the World Cup circuit, mainly for his comportment and how he carried himself in competition. He explained a lot of the competition nuances to me and also believed in me. Well before I’d won a World Cup, he said, “You’ll win one eventually, I know.” That stuck with me.

Favourite meal cooked outside?

Pizza with my outdoor oven.

If your life had a theme, what would it be?

Enjoy the process. Good things take time, and even in climbing I’ve accomplished things that have taken me decades. I’m proud of all my accomplishments and I love pushing climbing, especially from a Canadian perspective.

What rules do you break?

I try to break gravity all the time. Einstein hates it.

Sean’s gear picks