What Makes You Sweat

Rock Climbing, Ice Climbing & Painting with Doug Ferguson

Since 2008, Doug Ferguson has been the owner and one of the head guides for Mountain Skills Climbing Guides. His company leads guided rock and ice climbing trips primarily to the Shawangunk (“Gunks”) and Catskill Mountains of New York.

Doug has climbed extensively throughout the United States, largely in the southeast (North Carolina, West Virginia and Tennessee) and since moving to New England, in the Adirondacks, the Gunks and the White and Green Mountains. He also volunteers weekly with the NYC Adaptive Climbing Clinic, teaching rock climbing to people with physical disabilities.

Growing up in Michigan, Doug skied competitively in high school and attended Kendall College of Art and Design. When he’s not climbing, Doug creates large canvas oil paintings and rustic furniture.

We scampered up to Doug to learn more about his climbing activities and find out what scares him.

Doug Ferguson takes a selfie while on the mountain ice climbing

How long have you been rock climbing and how did you get started?

I started rock climbing in the spring of 1997, through a friend I had met while I lived in Golden, CO. It made me realized I didn’t want to live my life working inside any longer. Which was the unrecognized thought at the time to start guiding professionally.

What’s the scariest part of being a rock climbing guide?

The scariest part about being a climbing guide is watching daily news about what is happening in the world.

Doug Ferguson on the side of a mountain rock climbing

How do you balance being an artist with being a bad ass climber? Do you lift weights while you paint?

I balance guiding and painting pretty easily. I climb or guide during the daytime and capture images of places I love or landscapes that inspire me. I put those images on canvas during the very early morning hours while the rest of the world sleeps.

Do you also climb ice or do any mountaineering? Do you sweat less or more in the cold?

I actually prefer ice climbing and Alpine climbing over rock climbing. I sweat more noticeably in the winter with all of the layers I wear. The water doesn’t have as easy of a way to escape clothing during the colder months.

You are in Vegas right now at a rock guide course. Is it a difficult course?  How do you prep for a test like that?

The AMGA, Advanced Rock Guide Course I’m currently participating in Red Rocks, Nevada is an extremely technical and physical 10 day course in advanced techniques and applications of complicated accents and descents of 5th class terrain. I personally prepped for this course by guiding a ton, climbing a ton, practicing rescue scenarios and riding my road bike as much as possible.

A painting by Doug Ferguson showing a rock climber on the edge of a cliff in the Shawangunks

Name something that really scares you.

Unleashed small dogs scare me.

What’s your next challenge?

Mt. Katahdin in the winter, Rock Guide Exam, Advanced Alpine Guides Course.

POWER STICK FRESHNESS SCORE: 4.5 OUT OF 5

Power Stick deodorant 4.5 out of 5 Freshness Rating

Power Facts:

  • Ice climbers sometimes put antiperspirant on their feet a few days prior to a mountaineering trip because the active ingredient, aluminum can help prevent their feet from sweating which can help prevent heat loss.
  • Rock climbers coat their hands with chalk, magnesium carbonate, to keep their palms from getting sweaty so they can more easily grip the rocks.
  • The term belay refers to a technique used by climbers to exert friction on the rope to keep the climber from falling. Much responsibly, trust and communication comes with this activity. Sweating just thinking about it!
  • The most common types of rock climbing related injuries are fracture and sprains and strains, particularly in the lower extremities.
  • Statistically there is a 1 in 1,750 chance you could find yourself “at the end of your rope” when climbing.
  • Rock climbing shoes are a breeding ground for bacteria. Bacteria = smelly. Suggestions for helping this scenario include hand washing, freezing or spraying tea tree oil in, your shoes.