Hometown: Calgary, Alberta Canada
Flashed, to be direct, is a manufacturer of Bouldering gear. We are more than that though; we eat, breath, and sleep bouldering. When are not out bouldering or clipping draws (for power endurance), we are testing, designing, and researching ways to produce the best bouldering equipment possible. In addition to engineering equipment, we test and consult for climbing walls and landing systems. You could say we are good at spotting!
Walson Tai, Owner
Is there more to life than climbing? Sure there is, my goal in life is to explore all things climbing while being honest to the world around me (I suppose that is a little more than climbing?)
As an owner of two Calgary Climbing Centre gyms and Flashed, one would think I am a bad-ass climber. I first started climbing 20 years ago, and I am not as good as people would assume! I don't remember climbing anything harder than 12b outside (on a top rope, I get scared leading, bouldering higher than 8 feet, and I love climbing on plastic because the holds are friendly and the landings friendlier (not just because I own climbing gyms). Climbing kept me coming back and each grade, problem, and route that I challenged myself on became a small stepping stone to get better. Climbing was an ever challenging activity that I love.
So much so, I dropped out of 4th year university to build my first climbing gym. Some would consider this a risky move but ultimately, I knew it would make me happy, building something I believed in from the ground up. For better or worse, it has shaped me into the kind of person that given the ultimatum to choose between climbing and work, I would do both.
But what I did learn the most from my experience in building climbing gyms and Flashed is that I don't love climbing as much as the people I find climbing. These same people have taught me that I am really 5'9" when I thought I was 5'7", that my forearms are disproportionate when I think they are fine, and that I am 185lbs when I thought I was 175lbs (Thanks Jack and Mark!). Friends like this keep a person like me in line.
The community within climbing is what makes me happy. It is a family, the people, the friends, they last a lifetime.
Mark Fraser, Operations Manager
I grew up on the prairie flats spinning tires in the mud and walking through wheat fields. My big activities were mountain biking in the Canadian Shield and downhill skiing in the river valleys (we boasted an amazing 275 vertical feet of extreme skiing!).
One fateful day I took a trip to the Rocky Mountains of Alberta and the mountain bike hasn't seen much use since! Peaks, towering thousands of feet above and rugged landscape which offer careless freedom as well as serving as an impartial teacher to many of life's lessons. To say the least...I was hooked :)
So, when climbing found me and I was able to test my mettle against hard rock, constant gravitational pull, and my own personal fears then I knew it would be part of me for life. Since then I have discovered others who share this magnetic pull to the vertical realm and found that there are few other pursuits that can unite people into a sense of community as quickly and strongly as climbing.
I look forward to meeting you some day out amongst the rocks :)
Let 'er buck !!
Keith Nalepa, Sales and Marketing
Growing up a small town prairie boy is how I initially got into climbing. Having heard every single flat-lander joke and comment about my home province has made me want to experience climbing and mountain culture. Don't get me wrong, I love Saskatchewan but the biggest rock or boulder is the size of a car. if it actually exists.
This led me to Lethbridge where I went to University and earned a Bachelor in Management with a Major in Marketing. After graduation I moved to Calgary and suddenly found that my evenings were empty without any studying. A couple of good friends took me climbing and from there I was hooked. My holidays now consist of trips to Squamish, Bishop, Red Rocks and many more destinations to come.
While climbing 3 to 4 times a week I was working in downtown Calgary and quickly found out that the big corporate Oil & Gas world was not for me. This eventually led to a job with the Calgary Climbing Centre as Desk Staff and Instructor where I was happy teaching new climbers and being directly involved with growing our local community. Climbing the ladder so to speak, I was hired on for my dream job of Marketing and Sales Director of Flashed. My career is exactly what I wanted it to be; fun, challenging and most importantly enjoyable. I look forward work every day; talking to people that are enthusiastic about climbing, being a part of growing the sport, developing products, and getting in a bit of bouldering or training on my lunch break. One of my favorite bands (Said the Whale) said it best in their song - Emerald Lake, AB. "What a fine life we are living."