Questions by John Streit. Answers and photos courtesy of Joy Cox.

Our latest “Adventure Is Where The Heart Is” comes straight from the family of Surf & Adventure Co. owner Rob Lindauer: his step-sister Joy Cox of Chapel Hill, N.C. A relative newcomer to climbing, Joy has rapidly progressed in her four years in the sport despite having her momentum halted by a severe elbow dislocation from a fall this past July. True to her adventurous spirit, she bounced back to achieve her 2014 goal of climbing her 11th 5.11-rated route in November! We recently caught up with Joy to get the low down on her sky-high pursuits in rock climbing and bouldering in the piedmont and mountains of North Carolina.

S&A: I have the utmost respect for what you do and how dangerous it is. What characteristics do climbers have that set them apart from other athletes?
JC: I believe that climbers are a very special group of people because we are all so encouraging of each other and our goals. Climbing is a very personal sport; for most recreational climbers, you only have yourself to compete against. That being said, climbers are extremely motivated to see their friends complete their goals. Climbers look out for one another, no questions asked.
S&A: Tell us how you got into the sport.
JC: I used to do quite a bit of trail running. A friend of mine suggested that I try climbing since it was another great way to be outside and challenge yourself. I went to the gym and had fun, but it wasn’t until the first time that I went outside that I knew I’d found something special.  Even though I was — and still am — very scared of heights, I loved being outside and being challenged mentally and physically.

S&A: How have you set goals for yourself to push your limits?
JC: The great thing about climbing is that you can keep pushing yourself in so many different ways. Some days you will feel like pushing yourself by getting on a route that scares you or plays to all your weaknesses. Other days you may want to try and repeat routes that you know are hard, but since you have them dialed, they just feel fun. Many climbers will pick “project routes.” These are climbs that may take you several tries, several days or sometimes months or years to be able to climb. Having projects is one of my favorite ways to continually push my limits.
S&A: Tell us about your most challenging climb to date.
JC: It is difficult to pin my “most challenging” climb to one route. For me some of the most challenging ones have not been the most difficult physically, but mentally. If the mental game is not there, the climb will not go. Dealing with an intense fear of heights — my hands sweat when I look at my own climbing pictures — has been hands down the hardest part of climbing for me. As far as my most challenging climb, I would have to say a climb called “Decevious” at Cooks Wall, N.C. was the most challenging for me.  The actual route is not very difficult; crux (hardest part of the climb) is down low then it climbs a gently overhanging face with big holds for roughly 80 feet. Although the physical part was well within my capabilities, the mental side of the climb was much more difficult. The climb felt exposed and scary. The first time I got on it (on a top rope) I wouldn’t go past the first 20 feet! It was quite a process to hone in the mental side and get it worked out to finally do the climb on lead, without falling, all the way to the top!
S&A: Describe the rush of bouldering — climbing without a rope.
JC: Bouldering is an entire different animal than sport climbing, which is the type of roped climbing I prefer. Bouldering is done with crash pads placed underneath the climber and you climb large boulders with different “problems.” A problem is similar to a vertical route; they vary in difficulty, ranging from V0 to V16. When you are bouldering, you tend to try very hard for a shorter period of time — the moves can be much more intense than when rope climbing.  It’s a really fun way to challenge your body and get stronger for rope climbing!

S&A: How do you manage fear when you are climbing a sheer face?
JC: Don’t look down!!! Kidding — sort of.  I think that it is a continual process. At the end of the day, I trust my equipment and I trust my belayer. Without those two integral pieces, I couldn’t do it. I know the rope catches and the harness doesn’t come apart. I only lead climb with belayers that I feel comfortable with and know how to keep me safe.
S&A: Who are your favorite people to climb with?
JC: I love climbing because it gives you a chance to meet so many new people and the climbing community in Piedmont North Carolina is amazing! That being said, I have a very close group of girlfriends — I am so motivated by their passion, beauty and support. I love working routes or problems with them — we are always laughing, there to give each other beta (help with climb) or a hug whenever needed. I also have another very special partner, my son, Aidan. He is 8 years old and is hands down my favorite person to cheer me on while climbing!
S&A: What are you goals in climbing for 2015?
JC: Top of the list — send a 5.12 outside; and then another and then another, haha! Seriously though, I would like to send a 5.12 this spring, then who knows? I would love to explore more climbing areas in different parts of the country that I haven’t had a chance to explore yet.

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