It’s hard to miss the signature broad smile and thick bun of Austin Martell, and anyone who frequents Vegas’ Red Rock Canyon is likely to have seen them. Austin, or the Climbing Realtor as many know him, is a regular in the park and the many other outdoor treasure troves that the area has to offer.
Although originally from the Pacific Northwest, Austin was stopped in his tracks during a period of travel upon discovering Las Vegas. What primarily piqued his interest was the accessibility to rock climbing, which he had never before pursued. Before finding climbing, Austin had spent his time doing just about everything else outside—from mountaineering and scuba diving to canyoneering and skydiving.
Progressing beyond his foundation in organized sports and a degree in exercise physiology, exploring the outdoors was an extremely affecting process in terms of personal growth, stress management, and more dynamic physical training. This constant process of staying healthy in a more holistic sense is the foundation of Austin's immediately recognizable strength of character and charisma. Even so, he had to take things one step further.
Austin’s stop through Las Vegas occurred during an offseason when he was serving as a wildland firefighter. Not only did this change of pace allow him to experience and enjoy the country’s natural resources he protected, but focusing on rock climbing provided a means for him to stay both physically and mentally fit during his offseason. Climbing is unique from many other sports in that it is an even balance of strength in physicality, technique, and mentality.
Those unfamiliar with climbing may not be aware that it is much more than having superior upper body strength. Rather, it requires equal force in balance, finesse, and strength, primarily in the tendons, which are especially difficult to strengthen. This means that training for climbing must be highly intentional in targeting very specific physical strengths as well as overall body awareness and control. More than this, there is an inherent risk to the sport, so a climber must train mentally to practice risk mitigation and fear control through improving technique, breathwork, and technical knowledge of gear use and best safety practices. Working on each of these means that constant small failures are inherent to climbing but working through and beyond those failures is what makes you stronger, not unlike in the rest of life.
While all of these elements may seem overwhelming when combined, a perfect balance can be struck amongst them, which is lovingly known to climbers as the flow state. This is when the mind is quiet, the body is in tune with the demands of the rock, and each of those little past failures culminates into a successful climb. Chasing the flow state became Austin’s method of maintaining his sanity after months of being overloaded with adrenaline in perilous situations while working on a Hot Shot fire crew. Using climbing to push himself physically and mentally in a safe and controllable manner was a safe haven for processing the intense experiences of being in the field while staying fit in body and mind.
Even so, there’s so much more to the climbing experience than what happens within. Being on rock encourages knowledge of it. One type of stone is different from another, which affects the climbing experience of each. For instance, the beautiful red sandstone emblematic of Las Vegas is a system of lithified sand dunes. This history of the stone influences its formations that act as the climbing holds and also makes it more delicate than harder stones, which means it’s more delicate and requires its own brand of respect and climbing ethics. Beyond Red Rock are a number of prestigious locations close enough to Vegas for a climbing day trip–the volcanic composite in Bishop, California, the limestone on Mount Charleston, Nevada, and the famous granite of Joshua Tree National Park, California, to name a few. When each location offers its own history, atmosphere, and climbing to enjoy, it’s nearly impossible for an active climber to ever grow weary of the sport.
Despite the never-ending motivation to travel to a diversity of climbing areas, access to beautiful rock isn’t the only climbing jackpot in Las Vegas. There’s also the strong climbing community. The climbers in town not only love their sport but also, are committed to keeping each other safe and protecting and preserving the natural resources that so benefit their lives. Having that sort of a network of mutual understanding, respect, and appreciation is a priceless resource and even reflects the sense of fraternity inherent in the fire, search and rescue, and first responder crews of Austin’s past.
When you’re as connected to a community as much as Austin is, it’s hard not to want to give back to it. That’s how the Climbing Realtor came to be. Although the role is demanding in many ways, Austin says that it’s easy to be the Climbing Realtor and to be stoked on connecting people to their new homes because of how much he really does love the community, enjoys the area, and indulges himself in sharing it with others. After all, being a realtor is more than showing houses; it’s about helping others establish their futures.
As for the future of the Climbing Realtor, he’ll be in Vegas, relishing the rock and engaging in his commitment to the community. For anyone interested in getting involved with Las Vegas climbing or any recreation, he encourages them to get out there. While nature must rightfully be respected, it offers a whole depth of being that is unattainable anywhere else. The outdoor community is always welcoming, and its members are always willing to be mentors and champions of others pursuing new goals and skills. So, visit your local climbing gym, join an online hiking group, or reach out to Austin and get out there.
Those unfamiliar with climbing may not be aware that it is much more than having superior upper body strength. Rather, it requires equal force in balance, finesse, and strength.