(Read the following in the voice of your favourite title-fight promoter)
He’s Aotearoa’s very own Dave Graham, leaner than a Kenyan sprinter, taller than one of those tall milkshake cup things you get at dairies, and longer in the arm than a wacky-flailing-arm-inflatable-tube-man at a greasy second rate car yard! He’s The Buckler, he’s Isaaaaaac Buckleeeeeey!
He’s also the third climber from Tauranga I’ve interviewed, which begs the question; are all the climbers in the sunny, sunburnt BoP fiendish rock-mincing mutants, or am I just too lazy to seek interviews from any further afield than my own home turf? Perhaps a little from both columns. We’ll never know for sure.
One thing that I do know for sure is that high-fiving a volley-ball player can sometimes be painful. Also for sure is Isaac’s rise to power—and to the extreme heights of gangle—have been swift and startling. I saw him first at the top of a Froggatt 16 holding bits of gear up for scrutiny, with a vacant ‘Safety? Don’t I just walk off the back?’ expression on his face. I turn my back for five minutes and look what happens! That kid colouring outside the lines with a crayon in his fist is climbing V11! And he’s already been in Hueco! Where he climbed 1300 V10s! (disclaimer: actual truth may vary) The transition could be said to be artful, which is an awful segway into him being somewhat prodigious with canvas and pigment, as the following pics of his art suggest. Read on.



Date of birth 9/02/96
Years climbing 5
Favourite vice Bingeing HBO TV series
Hardest route The last slab fighter, 29, Froggatt
Hardest boulder Sassy Paints Direct, V11, Flock Hill
Hardest flash Twin Cracks V9, Bishop, USA
Most memorable route/boulder Stained Glass V10, Bishop, USA
Ape index 13cm
Favourite area Bishop, California, USA
Biggest fall Last move of Sunset Arete, 6m
Most embarrassing nickname  Ball sack
Sponsors … not just yet
Favourite shoe La Sportiva Solution


1)    Describe yourself in five words or less

         A full time Big Deal


2)   How did you first get into climbing?

Well my mum took me to the Rockhouse, I fell off a lot, and didn’t get much higher than a few meters, I was hooked.


3) Multi-choice #1

If you found yourself on holiday in the Middle East, would you rather:

A)   Shoot an RPG at a cow;

B)   Get captured by rebels, forge an exo-suit out of spare missile parts and escape by blasting your way to freedom;

C)   Commission a three-hundred metre high casino in the shape of a wine glass;

D)   Hold a Formula One round using only gold-plated Rolls Royces

E)   Slap a camel

F)    Search for the Holy Grail



         Search for the holy grail, in an Indiana Jones costume.


4)  Now that you’re out of the highchair, what does the future hold in climbing terms? What would you like to achieve?

In the near future, I’d like to scale a rock graded V12, preferably the Mandala in bishop, but I’m not sure when I’ll be there next.  I’m also very keen to climb in Australia and Europe, mostly bouldering.


5) If you lived in Compton, what would your gangster name be?

Vanilla Paste.


6)  Given the choice, would you rather die being smothered by giant waffles and maple syrup, or swallowed whole by a Basking Shark?

Both sound less than ideal, but I’ve got a sweet tooth, so I’d take my chances with the waffles.


7)   What do you do to train? Is there any specific gem or tip you can think of that’s worked really well for you?

Usually I’ll boulder for most sessions, but I get in the odd power endurance and hang board sessions. As for a tip…it’s always good to train with someone you’re competitive with. When I train with Pnut it really pushes both of us to think up harder problems and try harder on them.


8)   What’s it like being the next Dave Graham?

 … Great! He is an awesome climber, and watching videos of him developing new areas has inspired me to go searching for new rocks to climb. He has a great influence on my hair style, which is of utmost importance to me.


9)   Multi choice #2

Faced with a possible Zombie Apocalypse, what would your preferred weapon be?

A)   A chainsaw appendage, Bruce Campbell not included;

B)   A shotgun that you can only reload one-handed while wearing gas-station bought aviators with the really reflective lenses;

C)   A club fashioned from the bones of devoured loved ones, fitted with nails;

D)  A high powered rifle with one of those laser pointer things on the scope;

E)  An armour-plated Jeep Cherokee fitted with a flame-thrower and a TV to watch Zombie movies for handy tips and a mini bar for when there’s not much to do;

F)  The beard of Chuck Norris, with the stipulation that it comes attached to the actual Chuck Norris, who is getting old now.


A, how could I chose anything else, I’m a big Evil Dead fan!


10) If you were to meet a girl at a bar, and she asked you, “What’s up, nice hand-knitted jersey, how would you describe your climbing style?” what would your response be? (For added bonus points, frame your answer as a question)

Um I’m certainly a very dynamic climber. I’m so lanky I struggle with locking off and static movements. I’m also very strong on much smaller holds, as my fingers are my main strength, I love credit card crimpers!


11) Speaking of that hand-knitted jersey, what’s the story there?

   My Mother beat a sheep at poker, wining its coat, she then sheared it, dyed it, and knitted it. Also I now have a new edition from my mum’s home made jerseys collection, the new one is even better!


12)  Apart from me, as the obvious first choice, who do you look up to in the world of rock climbing?

Well since I can’t choose you, I’m a big fan of Nalle Hukkataival, I like his superhuman strength and insane power. He’s also very daring, this encourages me to try higher problems.


13)  Sticking with the Avengers theme from earlier; aside from exo-suits, Asgardian hammers, tight leather pants, gamma radiation and a shield with a star on the front, what would you say NZ climbing needs to do in order to become a city-destroying world power?

NZ needs a change of mindset, too many kiwis are afraid of climbing V10 or 30 and above because they think it’s impossible. This mindset is why many kiwis don’t even try hard climbs, we need to be more daring and push our limits. In America, I noticed that people who climb V6 had no problem trying a V10. In NZ it is common for people to only try grades they are comfortable on, and therefore progression is slower.


14)  If you went ten minutes back in time, what would you say to the ten-minutes-younger version of yourself, bearing in mind the constrictions of the three paradoxes of time travel?

Stop screwing around on the internet, get off your ass, and go for a train!


15)  If you could punch any creature in the face (currently still alive, extinct, mythical), without fear of reprisal or prosecution or death, what would that animal be?

Hmmm a Stegosaurus, so I can finally know what colour they are.


16) Watching you gangle your way up climbs like a drunk Praying Mantis, it would seem you’ve made this a strength. So what’s your biggest weakness?

Probably my core, because I intensely dislike training it. I also struggle at mantling…a lot. When I go to Castle Hill I have to make sure I try climbs with nice big huecos to mantle out on!


17)  Multi-choice #3

What do you look for in a new route/boulder to try:

A)   How many points it has;

B)   How beautiful and majestic and inspiring and totally magical it is;

C)   If it’s got any sweet cut-loose moves or double knee-bars to make you look awesome for the people watching below;

D)   Small holds and technical movement;

E)   Big holds and dynamic movement;

F)    One that Adam Steens has just failed miserably on, so you can swoop in and look way more badass by comparison.


Hmmmm, well B, is probably the most important. But I’m not a full-on hippie, the grade does matter to me. I want to challenge myself, however I have found many grades far bellow my hardest to be exceptionally challenging. Like a V3 off width I tried…that did not go well.


18) Outside climbing, how do you plan to make an actual living?

It has been my dream to work in movies since I watched the Return of the King in 2003. At first I wanted to be a stuntman (I was 7) and then I turned my interest to the special effects of films. Since then it has been my goal to work for Weta Workshop, designing and creating practical effects for films.


19) Collectively we’re all doing pretty bad at being human, so if there was one change in society you could make, what would it be?

To take peoples’ minds off money. So much of the evil in our world is a result of greed, and all this greed has led to intense mistreatment of our environment and exploiting third world countries for cheap labour. Humans need to learn to live sustainably, in balance with nature and each other.


20) Because I’m having trouble changing the statement, “You done good rock climbing and other stuff good as well also” into a question, what’s the one thing you would ask of the interviewer?

  What is your motivation to go and climb boulders you could just as easily walk on top of from behind? (this is a question I often ask myself when a tourist give me weird looks when I top and boulder out in quantum field)


21) What’s the achievement you are most proud of, in climbing, and why?

Probably learning how to control my mindset. For so long it had been my biggest weakness, I was so stressed and afraid that I would not finish a problem, that I constantly fell off well after the crux. This was especially true on problems that were very technical, as I would not be focused on the move I was doing but getting to the top. It got so bad I considered stopping climbing all together because I was no longer enjoying it. Through this failure I learnt to take climbing less seriously, to take a problem move by move and focus on enjoyment. I predicted this new mindset would make me weaker, but it did the opposite, in the following two weeks I sent more than I had in 2 months.


22) And out of climbing?

Probably my award for Overall Excellence in the Visual Arts this year, I was exceptionally proud to see all my hard work had not gone unnoticed, and I even got a shiny trophy.


23) And the achievement you are least proud of?

Getting a free breakfast from a hotel we were not staying at in America…actually I am kinda proud of this…


24) And finally, to all the climbers in NZ, what do you have to say for yourself?

Remember to enjoy climbing, as if you are not enjoying something why would you go out of your way to do it?


When he’s not banging his head on door-frames, or reaching the last holds from the ground, the Buckler does this:

















Below: Captain Sassypants Direct V11 and two awesome and dangerous looking problems at Bishop, USA. Don’t know the details, but if I had to guess, I’d say one of them is called scary shark-tooth looking problem, and scary vert face with crimps problem #3349. Both look at least V16.




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