Mario Stanley climbs his way to HBO Max

Mario Stanley is a Plano Rock Climbing coach and host of podcast "Sends and Suffers." Photo Lauren Allen
Mario Stanley is a Plano Rock Climbing coach and host of podcast "Sends and Suffers." Photo Lauren Allen

When Mario Stanley went looking for a date idea in college, he went the unconventional route and thought, “Why not rock climbing?” Though he didn’t expect it, Stanley fell in love that day — but not with the girl.

That date did not go well. Instead, Stanley found a sport that would change his career path from ministerial work to coaching rock climbing. 

Over a decade later, Stanley has climbed indoor facilities throughout the United States, along with legendary climbs around the world in Catalonia, Wadi Rum and throughout southern Jordan.

Last year, Stanley was invited to take part in an eight-episode HBO Max competition show for rock climbers called The Climb, where Stanley went against nine other amateur climbers for a chance to win $100,000 and a climbing contract.

Though Stanley dropped out of the competition in the third episode, the show encouraged him to keep climbing and seek new opportunities.

Aside from the show and Summit Plano, where Stanley works, he hosts a podcast called Sends and Suffers. It discusses the highs and lows of life during climbing trips, coaching and his outdoor adventures. 

Recently, Stanley co-founded a group called Beyond Climbing. The group formed after a customer came into Summit upset that the business wasn’t ADA-friendly. To address the concern, Stanley and the leadership team began inviting amputees, children in wheelchairs and others who may need extra help climbing the walls.

“We are simply trying to go beyond just climbing and meet people where they are at,” Stanley says. “I think that goes beyond the sport.”

Mario Stanley is a Plano Rock Climbing coach and host of podcast "Sends and Suffers." Photo Lauren Allen
Mario Stanley is a Plano Rock Climbing coach and host of podcast “Sends and Suffers.” Photo Lauren Allen

How did you get into rock climbing?

Coming up through seminary and through all these different life changes, eventually I kept on going back to it as something that brought me a lot of joy. At one point, I just committed to volunteering at an old gym that doesn’t exist anymore. Shortly after, they offered me a job, and I started working for minimum wage. It was just something for me to do.

At some point, I met one of the managers of what was Dallas Rocks and is now Summit Dallas, and they offered me a job at the gym. From that moment, my career took off.

What made you want to stick with rock climbing after graduating from seminary?

Once I started coaching, that is where the world kind of lit up for me. I like working with kids. They make you realize that life is really not that serious.

When you think of Texas and rock climbing, I want you to think of me. I’ve kind of dedicated my life to making the sport easier for people to get into. I’m in the business of creating rock climbers and creating opportunities for beginner and intermediate rock climbers to get outside and get in here.

How has your seminary background helped you with rock climbing?

You’ve got to be someone’s friend first. And in order to be someone’s friend, you have to meet them where they are. Rock climbing is an inherently terrifying sport. If you’re bouldering, you’re supposed to fall on the ground. Or if you get on these rope climbs, you have to trust someone. It’s kind of beautiful honestly, where most people who really want to try this are going outside of their comfort zone. So they’ve already made the decision to put themselves in a vulnerable and compromising position. You are choosing to be brave. And I’m easing you into helping you be as brave as you can possibly be.

What was it like to be on an HBO Max show?

The Climb is an amazing show for the fact that it is beautiful, brilliant climbing around the world. I got to make friendships that last a lifetime. I still talk to these people regularly, almost every day. Granted, I didn’t win, but I tried my best to showcase and represent Texas the best way I could. The biggest thing I walked away with from that show is I learned another level of intimacy with 10 people I’d never met, and these 10 people are probably the cornerstone of a big portion of my climbing life now.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Written By
More from Alyssa High
4 Instagrammable boba shops to support this AAPI Heritage Month
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and what better...
Read More
0 replies on “Mario Stanley climbs his way to HBO Max”