Expert Profile: Danny Rodriguez
Rocking on with Danny
- Expert name: Danny Rodriguez
- Affiliation: The American Alpine Club Members
- Occupation: Outdoor Photographer
- Location: Virginia
- Date joined ExpertVoice: 2016
Meet Danny Rodriguez, a climber living in Virginia and no stranger to adventure. As a member of the American Alpine Club, Danny joined ExpertVoice as a certified expert in 2016. During his time on the slopes and in the crags, he gathered plenty of experience and expertise. He's considered to be in the top 5% among our climbing experts. Read on to learn more about Danny, his adventures and gear recommendations.
What do you do for a living?
I do a lot of things for work. I work as a photographer and also consult on a variety of environmental projects. I’m currently working on several carbon capture and decarbonization projects, and take photos on my off days. I shoot a lot of adventure sports (like climbing, skiing, whitewater kayaking, etc.) and some commercial photography. I also work at Sportrock Climbing Centers in what free time I have left over!
How did you get into climbing?
I have always loved going into big, wild landscapes and I started mountaineering as a vehicle to connect with those places. That pursuit led me to start backcountry skiing, ski mountaineering, and trail running. After climbing snow and ice for a few years, I realized I should probably figure out what to do when my route turned to stone so I dove headlong into rock climbing. After graduating from college, I started working at Sportrock which was an incredible opportunity to connect with the climbing community and hone my skills.
What are your go-to indoor and outdoor climbing spots?
For indoor, you can’t beat Sportrock’s Alexandria location. The route setting at Sportrock is world-class and the 60ft walls are hard to beat. Additionally, the bouldering areas have a wide variety of terrain from technical slab routes to long, overhung problems that make you wish you hadn’t skipped all those core workouts.
The New River Gorge will always hold a special place in my heart. There is such a diversity of route types on high quality rock. The access from the American Alpine Club campground is unparalleled and the community there is incredibly welcoming. Armed with the New River guidebooks, stop by the school bus-cum-coffee shop in the campground and ask Lukas for your daily beta over a steaming cup of fresh coffee (make sure to bring your own container!).
What Danny recommends:
With a pricetag like Arc'teryx's, you would expect top notch quality. This jacket is among the best that I have worn. Features are top notch; large pit zips, elastic hood and waist adjustments, pocket placement, and taped zippers... Read more.
What is your most memorable climb or adventure?
My most memorable climb was probably this past August when I climbed and photographed a wedding at Seneca Rocks. The bride and groom were both strong climbers and wanted to climb a Seneca classic, Pleasants Overhangs (5.7) in full wedding attire (the bride climbed in a full wedding dress). In order to get the shots we wanted, I climbed the route ahead of them. They had their ceremony at the summit then simul-rappeled into the sunset. Very romantic. The Washington Post actually just wrote an article about it.
My most memorable adventure was going to Chile in 2018 to help shoot a ski movie for the DPS Shadow Campaign. The Shadow Campaign is one of my favorite film series (up there with Arc’teryx’s A Skiers Journey) so being on location to film another installment was truly a dream come true.
What’s in your climbing pack?
Aside from the usual assortment of climbing gear, the three things I always keep in my pack are my camera, ski straps, and a headlamp. I’ll swap out gear to tailor my pack for whatever adventure I’m on but I never leave the trailhead without those three things.
As a photographer, my camera is always by my side. Depending on the adventure, I might leave my DSLR behind and opt to just use my cell phone. I currently use a Nikon Mirrorless system because the lenses are so dang good and I love the smaller size of the mirrorless.
Ski straps are one of the most useful pieces of gear any adventurer can purchase. The amount of ways to use these straps are near infinite (one is currently keeping a bag of cookies closed and fresh on my kitchen counter). I’ve used them to fix torn zippers, broken crampons, and for medical purposes. I’ll replace ski straps with a roll of athletic tape, especially if I’ll only be on rock the whole day or climbing cracks. Metolius Climbing Tape and Voile Straps are my go tos.
A headlamp is equally as useful. The amount of times I’ve unintentionally epic-ed is embarrassingly high but my headlamp has always guided my back. I love the Biolite headlamps because of how light they are for their output and that I can recharge them on the go.
What shoes do you wear?
I wear Evolv Nighthawks for most indoor climbing and long days of easy multipitch. Even though they’re a “beginner” shoe, I rarely have any issues with their performance.
For hard indoor, outdoor sport and bouldering, I wear a Scarpa Vapor V. The slight downturn and supportive midsole help me feel secure on overhung routes while still feeling comfortable on dime edges.
What tips do you have for new climbers?
The most important tip I can give new climbers is that most gear will do just fine and to focus on finding the piece that will help you get out there. Climbing shoes are a great example. All climbing shoes do similar things with the only differences being small changes in the construction and materials. That being said, the fit can vary dramatically between brands or models. The key is to find the shoe that meets all your needs and fits well. You don't want to wear an ill-fitting shoe that will keep you from climbing. As you develop your skills as a climber, what you need from your gear will likely change so you can revisit those pieces and update them as you progress.
Being a beginner climber is one of the most exciting times as a climber, don’t let gear decisions get in the way of you getting out there and experiencing how wonderful climbing is.
You can follow Danny on ExpertVoice by going to his profile. He's credentialed in more than 180 different brands. Follow along to see what other gear he recommends and check out the pictures he shares.