Angus Taylor means a lot of different things to different people. But at the heart of it is a guy who is just keen to spread positive influence. Whether that be in his professional life, with his music and lifestyle, or with his climbing. It's fair to say he's had his set backs, yet he continues to progress in his chosen areas and spreading the positive vibes along the way.
We, along with Edelrid, were able to have a sit down with Gus to really explore his climbing, lifestyle and what feeds his stoke for it all.
Climbing And Lifestyle
Q. What’s your favourite places to live / climb / visit?
A. This is a lot of cherry picking to do in one answer. For now, and likely a very long many years, the Blue Mountains will be home, unless work or unforeseen circumstances pull the inner compass needle astray. I love living here.
Climbing - basically anywhere beautiful. Period.
Visiting is akin to the last answer, but I loved my time in Indian Creek, and would go back in a heartbeat but Li Ming or Wadi Rum (realising the theme here) are likely next targets for some trips.
Q. What’s your favourite type of climbing (bouldering, sports climbing, trad, etc.)?
A. Bouldering has stuck a fork in me, the chickens done there.
That leaves sport and trad and I love both for very different reasons. Tying in on the end of the cold spaghetti and leading on gear is my main muse though. River runs deep there.
Sport is a way for me to test myself and I also love that - I do a bit more of that these days. I like the challenge, the problem solving, and the progress of sport climbing.
Q. Do you have any climbing career highlights?
A. Wouldn’t say I’ve had any sort of career in climbing. I will say, finding motivation where there was none, after 3 years of surgery and the lowest point of my life, pulling my mind away from performance-oriented self-worth, and rebuilding my love for climbing from the ground up, instead of giving in and walking away was the biggest challenge of my life and to me one of the biggest highlights. One option there was clearly easier and choosing the harder path has rewarded me more completely than any other achievement in the past. Biggest send and I’m still on it.
Q. What is something that most people don’t know about you?
A. I once toured with Ice House? Used to have hair? Jammed with Said Belhaj and Mason Earl under the stars. My favourite dessert is apple pie ;)
Q. When and how did you get into climbing and what kept you interested / fascinated in the sport?
A. A mate of mine showed me a pirated copy of the Dosage series in a smelly uni dorm in 2009. All I can remember is seeing Chris Sharma fighting with primal energy, the natural landscapes, the Prana shorts, the improbability of it all, and thinking, this is it, this is what I’ve been looking for my whole life. I was always running around on the childhood farm climbing trees and rocks and finding ways to be challenged by, but connected to the outdoors, I just didn’t know climbing was a thing that existed until seeing that footage.
Interestingly, I didn’t really find my rhythm and regularity for climbing until 2015. During that time I experienced a divorce and I wanted to put all my time and energy into something consuming - climbing was that thing. I was already interested, I just needed the hunger kick and this is where that hunger began. The reason for coming back has always been the learning, that climbing is and has been the best teacher I’ve had in life.
Q. Who was your childhood hero, and do you consider yourself a role model now? Does it influence you at all that other people look up to you?
A. My childhood hero was my dog Elle. I know that’s weird, but when I was only just able to walk, we would go on all these adventures together on the family farm. She always had my back and guided my curiosity for exploration. She saved me once falling out of a tree. Definitely my childhood hero.
I wouldn’t consider myself a role model, just someone who has stumbled their way into a situation and has found some ground to stand on that maybe/maybe not resonates with people.
No, no influence from anyone looking up. If they are, I hope it’s simply because I’m being myself and that’s what I intend to continue to do.
Q. What were the most important milestones in your life so far, both in climbing and in everyday life? Did you immediately recognize them as such or only later on?
A. In climbing I see the relationships I have forged with people as the biggest milestones and the experiences I’ve had through those people and climbing together. I guess it’s hard to know they are significant moments at the time they’re unfolding or forming, but after any sort of serious accident, even the smallest things become special if you remember the impermanence of everything. In everyday life, I’d say climbing through jobs to arrive at a place where I can work in a field, I have a strong sense of purpose has been a big milestone. I come from a place of little to no tertiary qualifications, so building this career trajectory has been one of “fake it until you become it” and I’m proud to be representing positive change through that work now.
Q. What were your greatest failures / setbacks / injuries? How did you cope with them and how did you come back from them?
A. Losing my leg and failing to recognise that I was crossing a barrier of acceptable risk in climbing due to ego. I came back from this after 3 years of self-reflection and meditating on how to take any small opportunity in front of as an opportunity to grow positively, to learn, and to move on.
Q. What is your favourite climbing related story / experience?
A. Lonnie Kauk completing the circle started by his father on Magic line and sending it placing gear 20 years after the first ascent. Probably one of the most “book ending” stories I know of and one that holds so much emotional weight for the two of them. That, and the calibre of the climbing required is insane, it’s hard to ignore that story as one of the greats. Personally? I’d say bagging two towers in the middle of the white rim in Utah was a standout and memorable climbing experience. Won’t forget the desolation out there, so still, so Mars like.
Q. Do you have a strict training schedule for when and how you train throughout the year?
A. I have been trying to get back to route fitness for a little while now, so I typically keep training a consistent thing throughout the week, around 3-4 times a week when work doesn’t have me in a bind. I don’t have a particular routine like other climbers, though I can see a lot of value in specificity and seasons of training with seasons of performance etc (the lattice stuff has a lot of strong data behind it), but I’m just a weekend warrior and I don’t have aims to climb any harder than 8a so I’m just keeping the body in shape and trying to make the climbing to do the heavy lifting.
Q. What advice can you give to somebody looking to improve their training routine?
A. Definitely not the right person to ask, but the biggest thing no matter what level you’re at and what sort of training you’re doing is find a way to show up regardless of motivation. Motivation won’t always be there to have your back.
Q. What do you think of indoor climbing gyms in relation to climbing on actual rock?
A. I think they serve as a great facilitation to climbing movement and getting people into the sport. It’s definitely beginning to create its own identity and the relationship between indoor and outdoor isn’t as strong as it used to be, but I think this is a good thing. It’s another discipline and has the capacity to satisfy those who want to dedicate time to indoor climbing, or use it as a steppingstone to the outdoors.
Q. Are you able to do a one-arm pull-up? How about a single finger?
A. Definitely not (laughs), though I am still actively training for it in the hopes that one day I might be able to say I can. I think I’d be prouder of that than 8a with a prosthetic leg.
Q. How much of the success as a pro climber is due to show and how much due to actual climbing skill?
A. Not a pro. Not even close. I’ll refrain from answering this one.
Q. Is it possible for anybody to eventually perform a one-armed pull-up or get to the top of the Eiger/Matterhorn, or do you really have to be born for it?
A. Some people have much better genetics for strength building or endurance or deep wells of motivation than others, that’s just a fact of life. But I think despite any genetic differences in people, the rule is that we always perceive our limits well below what they actually are, and it’s rare that we truly test them to find out where these lie - of course, this is because it can be a risky game getting to a point where you can reach out and touch them (your limits that is). But, in essence, yes, I think the body is a very uniquely malleable thing, and if we try hard enough, we can condition it to do exactly what we set our minds on.
Q. How important is it to set goals in professional sports? What are your goals / targets you are working towards in climbing and in life?
A. Goals are good, and they are important. But people often forget about process and only focus on the end point. If you can set a goal, but accept the process for what it is, and take reward in the thousand small steps it takes to get there, then you’ve unlocked the real way to reach the goal. Goal setting with process in mind, knowing you’ll fail more than you succeed, knowing you’re going to take steps backwards more than you do forwards, these are all synonymous with leading a successful and happy life in and outside of climbing. The effort and how you’re applying that effort is what’s truly important.
Q. How to you deal with extremely hard climbing problems? Do you ever get frustrated and give up on them or do they motivate you even more?
A. Sometimes they motivate me even more and I become obsessed with finishing something… but I’m wary of this now, as this mentality led to my accident. These days I’ve tried to embody the opposite of this, letting go. Walking away, not beating my head against a wall, and climbing new things if they aren’t working. It’s hard to clearly see the distinction between things that just require more effort and attention with the things that are worth simply stepping away from, especially when you want to try hard and overcome something. But the gut will typically serve as the best compass in what’s very subjective territory there. I’d say just listen to that and acknowledge where your feelings are coming from, and again, tap into the process.
Future of rock climbing
Q. Is there anything you would like to change about the current developments in climbing?
A. I would say the only thing I think the community can become more wary of is being good environmental stewards and being proactive about building working relationships with the peoples whose land we recreate on. Inclusivity, equity, and low impact. If we have good core values-based pillars unanimous in climbing culture, the future will be good for climbing and climbers everywhere.
Q. Where do you see the sport going in the next years, what will change and what is your role going to be in it?
A. My role is going to be the share stories and reflect back to the community the aspects of climbing that we should collectively celebrate, nurture, and advocate for, those stories that don’t get shared in the mainstream climbing media, but that are the reasons why we keep coming back to the crag. Who knows where the ship is sailing, but we’re all on it, so let’s keep our values close and our curiosity wide open.
We just want to thank Gus for taking time out for our questions and for not holding back in sharing his story. 🤙