I Want That Job! - Sam Whittaker - Climbing Wall Owner

© Adam Long

Click to visit The Climbing Works Website

In this new article series I Want That Job! I'll be interviewing people from various professions within the climbing world. If you think your job is a dream come true (it has to be climbing related) and if you're willing to be interviewed - then drop me a line. Likewise if you can think of a job that you'd like to have - suggest it in the forums and I'll try and track someone down.

It's the turn of Sam Whittaker, climber and climbing wall owner. When asked: Why is it great being a climbing wall owner, and why is it rubbish? Sam replied, " It's just all great – there are no 'rubbish' parts to the job." Could this be the dream climbing job?

Sam Whittaker, Anarchist, Red Walls (at the end of the 3 hour dry spell)
© Alex Messenger

Name: Sam Whittaker

Age: 30

Job Title: Owner / Managing Director of 'The Climbing Works'

Relevant Qualifications: Climbing for 15 years, 10 years experience within the outdoor retail industry. S.P.A. climbing award

Salary: 15K

Perks and holidays/time off: Free indoor climbing! Flexible holidays / time off .

Describe your job in 100 words max:
Owning The Climbing Works has all kinds of responsibilities, I carry out route setting on a regular basis including setting for our competitions. There is a great deal of computer work to do including accounts and writing of our website and blog. I spend a large amount of time liasing with my centre manager regarding the day-to-day running of the wall, café and shop. As I'm part of a three man team, sometimes I will work ridiculously long hours, but at other times I can take a lot of time off. All my work is challenging and thoroughly enjoyable and I wake up in the morning looking forward to going into work.

How did you get this job? How long did it take? Any hardships? Did you always want it or did it just happen?
The Climbing Works has been a dream come true for me. I have always wanted to set up a huge bouldering wall in Sheffield and when Percy (Bishton), Graeme (Alderson) and myself got together to make some plans it all fell into place. From the start of planning to the opening of the centre was 6 months. There was 3 months of solid hard graft working 24/7 building, cleaning, painting and lots of financial commitment.

What attracted you to the job in the first place?
I simply love climbing and wanted to create a great indoor place to climb and socialise. A dedicated bouldering wall seemed the best way to do it and I wanted to be my own boss.

How long have you been in the job now?
I have been in the job 13 months.

How long do you see yourself continuing?
I am fully psyched for 'The Works' and would like to expand the business and continue to climb as much as I can. I guess for the foreseeable future.

Describe your average day at work? And the average week?
My average day is never the same I have lots of different thing that need to be done. There is always so much to do - you never get bored!

Is it how you/other people imagine it to be?
Yes! But there is a lot of behind the scenes work that gets done before we open and office work to keep everything running smoothly.

Sam Whittaker making the first ascent of Appointment with Death, Wimberry
© Adam Long, Nov 2004

The best day? The worst day?
The best days are the comp days when Percy and I go crackers on the competition wall and create some masterpieces for the competitors. After that it has to be getting the decks out and playing some tunes while the competitions on. The worst days are when you have to write out loads of cheques and fill in spreadsheets!

Why is it great being a climbing wall owner, and why is it rubbish?
It's just all great – there are no 'rubbish' parts to the job.

Do you 'love' your job? Why? Why not?
I think it's fair to say I love my job.

If a teenager said to you 'I want to be a climbing wall owner like you' – what would you say? Recommend it? Warn them off? Laugh?!
I would recommend to a teenager that running your own business is loads of fun and hard work but being involved in a sport like climbing is the best thing ever. I have travelled all over the world to go climbing and have had some great adventures.

Any tips and advice on how to get to where you've got to?
You have to be confident in you're own ability, have goals to work to and a great deal of support. There's a saying that my Dad told me when I was younger that I think is great:-' If a job is worth doing its worth doing proper'

Any friends through work?
Lots and lots and lots and all of my customers!

And finally - What's your dream job? Why?
I have it! And wouldn't change it for the World.

Sam Whittaker is sponsored by prAna, Metolius and Scarpa

Sam's Athlete Page 5 posts 1 video

Sponsored by: Scarpa & The Climbing Works

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