Interview with Nicolas Falacci

By Luke Laeser ,

Originally from Massachusetts, Nicolas Falacci is a true “Gunky” who became a television writer, producer and is the co-creator and executive producer of the CBS show “Numb3rs.” Nick got started climbing over 20 years ago after finishing college at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. With no career or girlfriend at the time, he thought it would be a great idea to become a high-altitude mountaineer. But, since he lived in New York City he had to start on the boulders of Central Park and cliffs of the Shawangunks. Nick is also an accomplished photographer and writer; in 2003, he wrote "A Climber's Guide to Popular Manhattan Boulder Problems."

What was the most significant moment in your life? How?The most significant moment in my life came when I was climbing Iguana, a 5.11c/d at Stony Point in Los Angeles. That’s where I happened to meet my future wife and writing partner, Cheryl Heuton. That one day of climbing led to a family and a career in television.

Who's a climber you have respect for? Why?I really respect Lynn Hill, not just for her groundbreaking climbing accomplishments, but also for the kind of person she is. I met her once on a cold autumn day in the Gunks and she was determined to have fun despite the temperature. She shared runs on top-ropes and was gracious, friendly and entirely unpretentious. It didn’t matter she was hanging out with climbers who climbed several grades below her. She just wanted to climb and hang out.

Nicolas Falacci shakes out after punching through the bouldery crux of The Sting (5.11d), Gunks, NY. Photo courtesy of Nicolas Falacci.

Why do you climb?I climb for a number of reasons. The first and most obvious reason is for the simple physical pleasure of strenuous movement in high places. Another, more emotional, reason is the instant gratification of facing a challenge and succeeding. And lastly, the philosophical reason I climb is that climbing feels like a direct, tactile connection with the universe. When I climb the features on a rock face, it feels like I am discovering and interpreting the organization and structure that arises out of the randomness of the universe.

What's your favorite: bouldering, sport climbing, traditional climbing, ice climbing, gym climbing, or alpine climbing? Why? I love all aspects of climbing, but my favorite type of climbing is hard, steep face-climbing. My main focus is enjoying the movement over rock, but ultimately, the most rewarding type of climbing for me is when I’m placing my own gear. On a very basic level, climbing is about adventure and self-reliance.

What must we pass on to the next generation of climbers?I think it’s important that the next generation of climbers have a sense of responsibility and community. Responsibility to the natural environment and understanding the impact we climbers have on it. And a sense of community so that we, as climbers, can present ourselves to the non-climbing world in a manner that allows climbers to be taken seriously when it comes to issues such as access.

Nicolas Falacci on one of the most famous 5.11 roofs in the country, Foops, Gunks, NY. Unfortunately it

What does the climbing community need to fix?I think the climbing community has been heading in the right direction once it finally emerged from the disastrous “bolt wars” of the 1980s. With the creation and success of the Access Fund and the emergence of so many local climbing coalitions around the country, I’m not sure there’s anything to be “fixed.” We just need to continue to build on the great work being done.

Who embodies climbing, as a person?Dave Graham is so intense and gets so much satisfaction out of climbing — he embodies that zeal and passion I remember having when I first started climbing. His joy for finding cool and challenging moves is infectious.

If you could go climbing anywhere, where would you go? Why?If I could go climbing anywhere, first stop would probably be the Gunks. People always talk about the incredibly exposed easy-to-moderate routes there, but the real gems of the Gunks are the 5.10s that blast through huge roofs and multi-tiered overhangs. The number of mega-exposed, mega-classic well-protected 5.10 lines there is just mind-blowing.

Nicolas Falacci on the East Buttress of El Cap, Yosemite, CA. Photo courtesy of Nicolas Falacci.

After the Gunks, my next stop would be Australia. I’ve wanted to climb at Mt. Arapiles ever since I first saw photos of the place. The rock is just exquisite. The textures, the colorations, the lines and positions just make it look incredibly enticing.

How can we improve our sport?I think climbing can be improved by continuing the development of local climbing advocacy groups and coalitions and by the continued support of the Access Fund. It’s also long overdue that climbing became an Olympic sport.

Behind the scenes of the NUMB3RS premiere, airing on Oct 3rd. Photo courtesy of Nicolas Falacci.

Tell me about the CBS drama "Numb3rs."Numb3rs is a crime drama about that follows Don Eppes, an FBI agent working in Los Angeles, and his younger brother, Charlie, a genius-level math professor. Numb3rs demonstrates the extraordinary power and capabilities of applying mathematical concepts and techniques to crime-solving problems. By focusing on the interaction of two brothers from such vastly different backgrounds, the show is also, to a large degree, about family and relationships.

Tell me about this season's premiere episode "High Exposure."This season’s premiere episode of Numb3rs is called “High Exposure” and anyone who’s climbed in the Gunks will instantly recognize where the title comes from. This season, Numb3rs picks up where it left off last year with Charlie Eppes losing his security clearance and is no longer able to help the FBI.

Behind the scenes of the NUMB3RS premiere, airing on Oct 3rd. Photo courtesy of Nicolas Falacci.

The episode starts off when a pair of climbers is brutally murdered while climbing in the mountains and a large uncut diamond is found in the chalk bag of one of the climbers. To unravel this mystery, the FBI must enter the world of climbers and climbing – from indoor gyms, to bouldering locales, to a secret crag deep in the Angeles National Forest.

All the climbing scenes and stunts were shot at local L.A. climbing areas with local climbers.

When is it?The season premiere of Numb3rs airs Friday, October 3rd, 2008, 10:00 EST on CBS.

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