Born in the “Lone Star State” but also hailing from the country known as the “Land of Smiles” and currently a resident of “Sin City” is an exciting start to introduce climber and boulder, Pirapar Patamasucon. After meeting her, I felt that each of her environments have given her a piece of the woman she is today…well, with the exception of “Sin City” which should be renamed “Red Rocks” in her world.
Discovering climbing six years ago, Pirapar fell in love with a sport by way of her brother who was already climbing and this activity became of way of life for her; something that brought her intense peace even through all the tough challenges she welcomes from it. One of her recent cruxes has been putting this love on hold as she finishes the demanding attention that medical school in the Cayman Islands calls for. In the end, it might just be worth it though as all her partners will feel a bit safer knowing that a Dr. is inhouse at the crag to fix a finger or two. ;) Here she speaks on a bit of her background, her love of climbing and her present plan to graduate as quickly as possible so she can be free to climb! Good luck Pirapar and we wish you the best!
RRRG: Where were you born?
Pirapar: I was born in Dallas, Texas. I went back to Thailand when I was around 1 year old and lived there for about 10 years. I am currently in the Grand Cayman Island doing my 3rd semester in medical school at St. Matthews School of Medicine.
RRRG: How did your family end up in Dallas? Do you speak/read Thai?
Pirapar: At the time my father was doing his Infectious Disease Fellowship in Dallas, so my family & I moved there to be closer to him. Yes, I still speak, read, and write Thai. My mother & father encourage both my brother and I to stay connected to our heritage by communicating in Thai between one another.
RRRG: That is awesome! Do any of your family members climb? Are they supportive of you or do some worry about your safety?
Pirapar: My brother Sy climbs as well…he was the one that got me started bouldering and I absolutely fell in love with it. My family is very supportive and they know that climbing is a great stress relief for me…and they like that…
RRRG: How long have you been climbing? And what year did you start?
Pirapar: I have been climbing on and off since 2004. I have to put climbing on hold at this point in my life because of medical school.
RRRG: How did you learn about climbing and get started in it?
Pirapar: My brother was taking classes at UNLV at the time, and one of the classes was rock climbing at Powerhouse Climbing Center. He asked the instructor, Fred Frazzetta, if it would be alright for me to tag along because I was dealing with depression at the time. I was welcomed into the group and fell in love with the people and the sport…something that I am especially thankful for.
RRRG: Who are your mentors/heroes if you have any?
Pirapar: My mentors are simple to pick out because they are also my friends…my friends all have different climbing styles and I learn something new from watching each one of them: Norah Stiller, Faith Chan, Jason Clardy and of course my brother Sy.
RRRG: What type of climbing do you primarily partake in? (boulder, sport, trad, ice, alpine, aid….) And what does this type of climbing bring to you – why your favorite?
Pirapar: Bouldering is probably my favorite, though sometimes I get a kick from doing sport routes as well. I love the challenge that Boulder problems present to me because each one is different/unique, and so often humbling.
RRRG: How has climbing affected your life?
Pirapar: I have met so many truly amazing people through climbing. I also love the fact that I can always find peace within myself when I am climbing/bouldering. That peace comes from being totally in the moment.
RRRG: What is your training schedule like – when you are consistently climbing (I know you’re in school right now)?
Pirapar: I used to climb almost everyday when I was in my training mode….often my training sessions would last anywhere from two to four hours and sometimes even longer, depending upon how my body felt at the time. But my training was not really very organized for the most part.
RRRG: What areas have you climbed in and which are your favorite and why?
Pirapar: Red Rock Canyon is my home turf, and I absolutely love the area. I have done a good deal of my climbing within the loop road. I love the natural beauty of the Red Rocks and have done quite a bit of hiking/exploring in its many canyons. I have bouldered at many different areas around/near Las Vegas. I love Mt. Charleston during the summer for both bouldering and climbing. I have been to Owens River Gorge to climb and enjoyed the experience. Last year, my boyfriend and I took a trip to Yosemite & Tuolumne (it was my first time there)…it was a hiking trip only…it was awesome! Awesome except for the poor planning on my boyfriend’s part – he hadn’t made camping reservations before hand, but it worked out – we had picked up a couple hitchhiking back to their campsite and were invited to stay with them and their two teenage children and had a delightful time.
RRRG: Have you ever had an incident where you felt fear when you were climbing? Please describe the incident and how did you resolve/combat the fear?
Pirapar: No specific incident that I can think of, but that may be because I have a healthy respect for the inherent dangers of climbing. I don’t like to fall…falling still scares me.
RRRG: So kindly explain how you deal with this “falling” fear?
Pirapar: By learning to TRUST in myself – my abilities & my strengths. Then to trust in my climbing partner that he or she will catch me when I fall. Lastly, to trust in the climbing equipment.
RRRG: What do you do for work/what are you studying in school? Do you find it easy to manage this and climbing?
Pirapar: Unfortunately I don’t get a chance to climb because medical school leaves very little room for leisure activities.
RRRG: Since you had to put climbing on hold – how have you been feeling? Has it been really hard since this is your stress relief?
Or have you had little stress at this time anyway? What do you do now instead of climbing to keep you sane? :)
Pirapar: S T R E S S E D! Climbing helps me stay in the moment, which calms me. Medical School is, without a doubt, the hardest thing that I have ever done. The amount of information that I have to process each semester is absolutely crazy…5.17 or V20 to put it in perspective. It has been extremely hard not being able to climb…fortunately the people that love me – my brother, my parents and my boyfriend…have been very supportive, and it has been their faith & belief in me which has helped carry me through.
RRRG: What are your goals in the future (as far as climbing and personal)?
Pirapar: After I am done with medical school I would love to get back into climbing shape again, get stronger and see just how good I can get. I love pushing myself.
RRRG: What area are you studying in medical school?
Pirapar: This semester I am taking 25 credit hours (Medical microbiology I, Medical Pharmacology I, Pathology I, Behavioral sciences (Psychology), Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Patient-Doctor Relation III. For extra credit I am learning how to drive my boyfriend crazy…Priceless!
RRRG: Hilarious! Oh man, that is so much on your plate. Good for you though!!
You stated you were dealing with depression ….was climbing the only way you dealt with feeling depressed? Or did you have other ways too (professional support)/family/friends. What do you think made you feel this way?
Pirapar: I was diagnosed with a major depression disorder about 9 years ago while I was going to George Washington University. I had a soccer scholarship…I was a good player…soccer was my passion. The soccer coach that recruited me had to resign due to a family emergency and the coach that replaced her did not play me much. I was benched, it was obvious that no matter what I did it was not good enough…this led me to be insecure and doubt myself – this extended far beyond the soccer field. It was like my life was put on pause, I was too scared to do anything because I lost complete confidence in myself…believing that no matter what I did – I would fail. It has been a long winding road to recovery, I am not there yet, but I am moving forward…some days are much harder than others. Before I climbed, I received professional help and the unwavering support of my family. I can say without question that I have seen the darkest of days, but I am still here. Climbing & hiking certainly helped me deal with my depression, in a positive way.
RRRG: Thank you so much for sharing that personal story. We are glad to see you still here and still pushing yourself! You’re a beautiful and kind-hearted person – so stay positive! Are you projecting anything right now? If so, which route(s) and please describe it…
Pirapar: Getting through medical school is my project right now☺…
Interview by Christine Cauble