Q&A: Escaping the comfort zone with Devin Logan

Q&A: Escaping the comfort zone with Devin Logan

Photography by Sam Taggart

Last week, I was asked by The North Face (TNF) to join them in Joshua Tree National Park for a product launch, and I immediately knew one thing: I wasn’t going skiing. The California-based outdoor apparel and gear manufacturer was taking me rock climbing alongside a handful of media representatives and a collection of climbing’s most well-known athletes, bringing everyone together to unveil a selection of next year’s Spring and Summer apparel. I’d dealt with shirts and shorts before—that’d be the easy part—but to say I was nervous, uncertain of my climbing ability, was an understatement.

Thankfully, I had a friend in Devin Logan, two-time Olympian and maestro of halfpipe and slopestyle skiing. The 25-year-old shared my inexperience, a relief for both of us. Usually, we let gravity do the work, letting it urge us down a ski slope with relative ease; this time, we’d be going against its pull, ascending near-vertical walls, our only safety precaution a half-inch rope tied to our waist.

The North Face has been developing top tier outdoor equipment for over 50 years, leading the pack in a wide variety of outdoor disciplines—notably earning the top spot in the “Outerwear” category in FREESKIER’s annual Brand Poll—because of its commitment to providing adventure-seeking athletes the tools they need to get their respective jobs done right.

Presenting its latest warm weather gear in Joshua Tree National Park, bringing together the media, experienced product designers and world-class athletes, TNF immersed us in its philosophy of encouraging exploration, no matter how big or small the venture. “In Fall 2018, we showed a more expansive view of never stop exploring that lives both on mountain and in culture,” read the Press Release sent to media reps going on the trip. “In Spring 2019, we want to build upon these principals by continuing to enable people to break out of their ordinary and explore.”

After a day’s worth of climbing with the likes of Margo Hayes and Peter Croft, Logan and I sat down, cracked open a couple of cold ones and reflected on our day escaping the comfort zone. Keep reading for Logan’s perspective on the experience, how it made her dig deep, appreciate the difficulty of learning something new and realize that inspiration comes in many forms.

We went climbing today… what’s your initial reaction?

Rock climbing is hard! [laughs] Today was my first day rock climbing and I was nervous, for sure. We’re with people that have rock climbed before, and then we have pro athletes like Margot [Hayes], who is the best rock climber in the world…

And she’s belaying you!

Exactly. There was this feeling of “I’ve gotta do this, I’ve gotta get up there, I’ve gotta at least show her I have something.” It’s really cool to get out of your element and see other people in theirs, to gain that entirely different perspective.

I’ve never had friends that climb, never really gotten into it, just being from the East Coast and just being so focused on skiing. My main goals were always to make the Olympics, make the X Games… it’s never really come into my mind to try climbing. But, seeing it, I got that adrenaline rush like after you land a run and you’re so hyped and you’re nervous and you get the shaky legs.

Today, I came down and had shaky legs and had to chill out. Having that feeling when doing something other than skiing… it was a realization, like maybe this could be something new to do.

Superstar climber Margo Hayes (left) and 2-time Olympian Devin Logan (right) watch the action from the bottom of the crag in Joshua Tree.

So, it piqued your interest?

Definitely. The first time I went up, I couldn’t finish [my] line, and I think the competitiveness in me made me go back up there and finish the job. I did the same line twice—the second time I got up over a crack that I didn’t make the first time, and got up to the top and felt super accomplished. It’s no big line…

But you dug deep… in a similar way to when you’re skiing?

It’s like doing a trick that you can’t get… when you’re like, “Alright, I’m going to give it another go.” I even told myself, “You’re going to make that little crack your bitch right now.”

It’s the same approach to skiing when you can’t get a jump, maybe you’re a little nervous or hesitant… it’s just the confidence in yourself, and that’s exactly what it was. This little crack made me unsure of myself because I’ve never climbed before, so the second time around I just had to trust myself. It is very similar in that way.

Logan, on our way to the climbing spot, saying something like, “Watch out for that rattlesnake!”

What do you usually do in the offseason?

Definitely the relaxing approach. I like to get outside and do things with friends like camping, but, as far as going to the gym, it’s lifting and getting back into shape because during the ski season I tend to just ski and I’m too tired to go to the gym.

You can also use a water ramp, air bag or get on snow in the Southern Hemisphere—but it depends on the person. I’ve started road biking… I’m not good by any means, but it’s a different way of not being on a stationary bike inside. I’m getting outside and getting some wind in my face.

Climbing legend Peter Croft explaining the ins-and-outs of his sport.

How does being a part of The North Face family, and getting to join climbers on a trip like this, help you become a better skier?

The North Face has so many different types of athletes, lots of which I’ve never encountered before, and you get to learn about one another. [In Joshua Tree], to see these athletes in their respective sport, performing at the highest level—it inspires you.

It’s cool, it’s what The North Face wants you to do: get pushed out of your comfort zone. Doing all of these crazy expeditions, first ascents, you’re doing things you’re not comfortable with… you always need to scare yourself once a day. I believe in that.

A trip like this shows the mutual respect [we athletes have] for one another. It opens your mind to new possibilities and going back to different training styles. Going climbing here might have given me an itch to try it out more. You never know unless you give it a go.

Outtakes from Joshua Tree:

Home sweet home in the California desert.

Base camp, bottom right, just after sunrise.

Hiking around the campsite led to stunning views.

Barely holding on.

Navigating the “trail” to our climbing spot.

The Ringtail, picture above, is a rare sighting in Joshua Tree National Park.

All smiles at the crag.

Climber Peter Croft taking it easy at the top.

The North Face crew, rolling deep.

Living life on the edge.

Wide-angle view of one of our climbing zones.


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