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Climbers with Jobs: Dustin Clark, Web Manager at Mountain Hardwear / Montrail

Sara Lingafelter
Sara Lingafelter
3 min read

Sometimes, you climbers are just too nice. You strike up a brief conversation with some climber girl on Twitter, and next thing you know your phone is ringing and she’s asking all sorts of probing questions about your career. I hope I didn’t scare Dustin Clark, self-effacing Web Manager at Mountain Hardwear and Montrail, and self-described “kind of a luddite” right off of social media. Dustin is the MH-er behind Mountain Hardwear’s award-winning online presence.

Dustin’s a rock climber, and has been in it for 20 years — he grew up in Bishop, CA. He comes from a family of alfalfa farmers, and it was a high school journalism class that lead him toward a college degree in English instead of farming. Dustin went into GIS work and web development after college (hmmm… sounds familiar). Finding himself living in Mammoth, working several jobs to get by, he decided to make the move to Mountain Hardwear, where he says he can climb more now than when he lived in Mammoth. He chose Mountain Hardwear in part because of his interest in the outdoor scene, and the chance to work with other outdoorsy types.

Dustin has been with Mountain Hardwear for just over three years, having started out as a web project manager, and moving into the role of web manager.

One highlight of the work Dustin does for Mountain Hardwear (and, by the way, Montrail) is the evolving nature of the social media aspect of his work. Despite Dustin himself not having a cell phone, under his watch Mountain Hardwear is on Twitter and Facebook, and incorporates social networking into both the Montrail and Mountain Hardwear sites through blogs and promotions. Dustin says he spends only about 10% of his time on social media, which amazes me. This must be one efficient dude, to have the kind of presence MH/Montrail does, with 10% of one FTE. MH and Montrail have a great network of athletes who provide content for the blogs, which helps Dustin be able to focus on his core responsibilities.

While some prefer to keep work and play completely separate, Dustin says there are “certainly not cons” about working in the outdoor industry… he gets to spend his days looking at people climbing, going through video, pulling out slides… and “never gets burned out. It’s just clearly separate from when I’m going to leave that weekend and go out to Yosemite.” Compared to other folks I’ve chatted with who experience some stress or lack of satisfaction in mixing work and play, perhaps because of Dustin’s low-tech life outside of work he seems to be in a bit better balance than those of us whose Blackberries and iPhones go everywhere with us, buzzing incessantly with all manners of information. He is able to enjoy the high tech work he does during the day, and then go play outside during his free time.

A challenge of his work, even being a climber himself, is targeting and reaching the climbing community. Dustin didn’t use these words, but my climbing and non-climbing friends describe climbers as “socially awkward” with great regularity… and while I have aspects of my personality that are highly social, I’m still relatively introverted in most situations (I wouldn’t be surprised if people put me in the “socially awkward” category myself despite my selective-outgoing-ness). I’d imagine that climbers would be a challenge to market to, with different buying criteria than other types of customers. A recent Dead Point Magazine cover article focused on sex not selling to climbers… my theory is that because we trust our lives to our gear, we make buying decisions based on advice from friends and other respected sources based on safety, quality, workmanship, and longevity, and less on advertising messages than the average consumer. Dustin confirmed that the running community Montrail interacts with, and the climbing community are dramatically different to work with.

Thanks, Dustin, for letting me interrupt your packing for the Ouray Ice Festival to allow me to pepper you with questions, and have a great time in Colorado!

Now it’s your turn. What climbers with jobs would you like to see profiled here on Comment, below!

Sara Lingafelter

Sara (Grace) Lingafelter takes steps forward and backward toward a right-sized life on a daily basis.