Ahmed Toure – Master climber!


Ahmed Toure

Ahmed Toure is the head coach of Team Arete. In addition to coaching, he oversees almost everything else specific to the team! Born in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, he began working at the Summit Climbing Gym at the age of 15, became the shift lead, and started competing and coaching outside of his hometown. In 2016, Toure began winning world championship competitions including four Speed World Cups! Then in 2017 he moved to Austin and co-founded Team Arete with the late Peter Schaub. Team Arete started with three climbers and it has grown to over 30 kids and continues to grow.


Q:  How old were you when you started climbing? And where were you?

A: I was 15 when I started rock climbing. My old buddies brought me to the gym, and I got addicted. I went to the Summit Grapevine.

Q: How did you get into climbing?

A: One of my friends worked in the gym already, so they brought me into the gym after school one day. I did two 5.6s and I fell like a million times on this 5.7. I have never been happy failing at something, but that was the first time that ever happened to me. So I was like “I like that, I like this.” Especially the part where I’m not mad at myself. I just want to get back up and get it eventually. So I went every day for two months after that! Like every single day which was very fortunate the guys at the desk didn’t charge me. They just gave me the gear and let me rock climb. Then I was like, “One of these days they’re gonna make me pay,.” But they saw that I loved it, and they wanted me to keep coming so I did! Then I volunteered at a climbing competition. And after that, I shouted  from across the gym to a general manager and said, “Hey Doug, give me a job!” He was like, “Okay.”  So that’s it, then it brings me here.

Q:  Did you ever get that 5.7?

A:   I did! I did, I got it the next day. Then for the next 2 months, I learned anything I could. So I think the first couple weeks I learned how to lead climb, and then they taught me more about bouldering and the basics and everything else you could think of.

Q:  When you were younger, did you always plan on being a climbing coach for a job/living?

A:  No, not even close. I wanted to be a college professor (philosophy professor). So, I was on track to do that and then I was doing my bachelor’s degree and in the middle of all that they stopped giving a Pell grant; it’s a government loan. So, when I was on the track, they stopped giving them to grad students and I couldn’t afford college anymore.

Q:  So once you decided you couldn’t do that, then you went to climbing?

A:  I was doing lessons and still coaching but that’s what I was doing while studying. So coaching was like the second thing, then school was like the priority. But as soon as I realized I couldn’t go beyond my bachelor’s, I just stopped because I was like there is no point. So I stopped doing that and just went into climbing and coaching full-time, and here we are!

Q:  How do you start your climbing day?

A:  I worked at a gym, and I would honestly have to try to get out of school as early as possible, so I could climb before my shift started. I would warm up really fast and then get on the wall and maybe climb for like an hour or hour and a half. I would do my shift and then I would climb a little bit after that, depending on how slow the day was.

Q:  Were you in college when you were doing this?

A:  No, I was in high school.

Q:  How long do you climb every day?

A:  Hours. At least 2 at the minimum.

Q:  After you climb, do you stretch or lift weights?

A:  I tend to work out first and then climb after. If I ever decide to workout that day, because usually, I like to get the boring stuff out of the way, so then I could just rock climb and have fun!

Q:  Do you regularly climb outside?

A:  No, I mostly do all my climbing indoors. But when I have the opportunity to climb outside, I’ll do it. I like it when we do our little team trips like field trips, then I get out and climb.

Q:  When you climb outside where do you mainly go?

A:  Honestly I’ll go anywhere, but usually it’s out of town. When I’m climbing outside, it changes, like anywhere. As long as it’s climbable, I’m all for it. I don’t like going to the greenbelt, but I will if I have nowhere else to go. That’s why I usually do all of my outdoor climbing outside of town because all the places close by I have either climbed or don’t like.

Q:  At first did you like climbing on ropes or bouldering?

A:  It didn’t matter to me really, but I liked ropes probably a little more because it’s just nice being up there. It didn’t matter as long as I was rock climbing.

Q:  Where is your favorite place to climb? 

A:  Jose Valley, Utah. It is outdoors. After that, I started climbing more indoors, though Jose Valley is incredible!

Q:  Have you ever free soloed outside?

A:  I’ve gone on a few high walls, but absolutely not!

Q:  Does it freak you out?  Are you scared of heights?

A:  Yeah, because if you fall, you’re gonna die!

Q:  But if you went with a parachute, would you do it?

A:  I mean probably still no! You still have to get to a certain height like on the climb for it to be safe, right? So if you helicopter me to the side of a mountain and then you got me on the wall and was high enough for me to pull the cord then sure, whatever.

Q:  What’s your personal record on the speed wall? What gym was that at?

A:  Oh my fastest time? Yes. The exact time is 8.43 seconds. It was in Arco, (Italy). I competed, so there was no gym it was just the Arco wall.

Q:  Are you planning by any chance to stop climbing?

A: Haha, no! I’ve slowed down, and I don’t have as much time to climb for myself, but I’m never going to stop rock climbing. I love rock climbing! When I was younger I obviously just had more time to climb for myself, but now as a coach and doing other things like with USA Climbing, it shifted. I guess that is what you can say. I have less concern with my own climbing. I’m getting to a certain place in my rock climbing and it’s more important for me to get you guys to where you want to be in your rock climbing now. I’m perfectly happy where I’m at with my rock climbing. You know most days are really strong, but I’m not training or anything. So I know there’s only so much I can do on the wall. You guys are like training, so it’s kind of cool to see what you guys are capable of like on the wall and that’s more important to me than my own rock climbing.[/pullquote]