Hoen Climbs To New Heights

Third-year Wes Hoen bouldering at the Gunks.
Third-year Wes Hoen bouldering at the Gunks.

“It’s time to get chizzied.”

Third-year psychology major Wes Hoen is one of many avid rock climbers who migrated to the town of New Paltz. The Shawangunk Mountain range, also known as the Gunks, is located close to the town and is a notable destination for rock climbers. The spot gives both top-rope climbers and boulder climbers hundreds of different routes to explore.

He said after having birthday parties at a local indoor rock gym near his home as a kid, he was hooked on climbing. Hoen’s career as a serious climber started when he was 14, after getting hired at the gym where he started.

Hoen spent hours in the gym, training and improving his skill daily. He worked there for eight years setting climbing routes for patrons. Hoen said he would often travel with friends to different outdoor climbing locations, including the Gunks.

After an unpleasant experience during his time at SUNY Potsdam, Hoen said he returned home to attend a community college near Albany. He said he got his grades up and worked toward his dream school, SUNY New Paltz.

“I love it here, man,” he said. “The Trapps and Carriage Road and Peter’s Kill are all just under 20 minutes from my house. It’s amazing.”

In bouldering, climbing routes — also known as problems — are rated in difficulty according to their V-number. The easiest problems start at V0 and range to a professional’s level of V15.

Hoen is now consistently crushing V7s, and has tackled a couple of V8s as well.

“I felt real stoked when I pulled Jackson Pollack (a V8),” he said. “Chizzin’ out for sure.”

Hoen works as a setter at The Inner Wall, New Paltz’s indoor rock gym, establishing new routes and maintaining the gym.  He said most of the time, he is teaching new climbers and kids how to properly apply a harness and belay using ropes.

Like any serious athlete, Hoen’s lifestyle reflects his ambition.  Hours of his life are dedicated to strength training in the rock gym. On top of climbing, Hoen rides his bike everywhere he goes to strengthen his legs.

“It’s a piece of shit bike, but it makes my legs real strong,” he said. “It’s all in the legs.”

Although most of Hoen’s rock climbing experience comes from bouldering, he said he has been becoming well-versed in other types of climbing such as sport-climbing and trad-climbing.

Hoen has traveled around the country on various climbing trips, going to world-famous destinations such as Texas’ Hueco Tanks and Kentucky’s Red River Gorge. He said he plans on continuing to climb for as long as his body will let him, that he’ll never stop.

“I’m going to live forever,” Hoen said.