Little Rock-based Steve Kirk has been climbing since 1984, not just in Arkansas, but all over North America. The american mountain guides association (AMGA) Single Pitch Certified Instructor serves as Central Arkansas Section Chair for the American Alpine Club.
By: Michael Roberts photography: Courtney Kirk
Adventure Climbing Guides
How long have you been climbing? I was first introduced to climbing in the early 80s and was instantly hooked.
Where was the first place you climbed? The first place I ever climbed was at a small area near Pinnacle Mountain called West Pinnacle. This is where many of the old school climbers in central Arkansas learned to climb and hone their skills and technique. From there, we moved to climbing at Mount Magazine and Sam’s Throne. There were only a handful of climbers in those days and no climbing gyms.
What is your favorite type of climbing? My favorite type of climbing is definitely Trad climbing—picking a line and placing your own protection as you see fit. Nothing Better! I have also gotten involved in Alpine climbing and my second favorite type is ice climbing—climbing frozen water. How cool is that!
What piece of climbing equipment would you recommend to the beginning climber? A good rope! We use Sterling Ropes (sterling.com), they are easy on the hand, durable and offer many sizes for every type of climbing. The next most important thing is to have a good belayer. Beginning climbers tend to take the task of belaying for granted.
What other outdoor activities are you involved in? I pretty much like any sport that gets me with nature and involves human power including trail running, paddling and mountain biking. I have spent a lot of time over the past several years paddling stand-up paddleboards on the rivers and lakes in Arkansas and in the Gulf. I also practice yoga to keep the body and mind strong and teach yoga at the Little Rock Climbing Center and Arkansas Yoga Collective, both in Little Rock.
What is the best spot in Arkansas for beginners to learn to climb? There are so many climbing areas in Arkansas that are good locations for beginners to get outdoors and climb. Most climbers these days are introduced to climbing in a gym and eventually want to get outside on real rock. I always stress to beginning climbers to get good instruction from other more experienced climbers, take a class at their local gym or better yet hire a guide. Some of the best areas for beginners are Jamestown Crag near Batesville, Sam’s Throne and Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Newton County.
What favorite non-climbing activity are you looking forward to this spring? Definitely stand-up paddle boarding!
What inspired your “women only” trips offered? There seems to be a lot more women interested in climbing these days, you see it in the gyms, in the climbing magazines and on the rock. Some women may be intimidated climbing with the guys and may not excel or stick with it under this situation. My daughter Courtney Kirk (who is also a certified instructor) and I thought that offering women’s only climbing trips to different destinations would help bring the women’s climbing community together.
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