Russ started climbing in 1977 while attending the University of Vermont, and has been a leading figure in Gunks climbing over the years. He’s done dozens of first ascents on the cliffs here, including many at Sky Top. He enjoys all aspects of rock climbing, from bouldering to big walls, and has climbed at a world-class level. Russ was the first American climber to participate in an international competition at Bardonecchia, Italy in 1985. He also competed in the former Soviet Union in 1986 in their speed climbing competition.
Russ is one of the most well-traveled rock climbers around, having climbed virtually everywhere throughout the States, as well as having done thousands of routes at hundreds of crags in over 35 countries on every continent except Antarctica.
After getting his Masters degree from Columbia University, Russ moved to California to work for Chouinard Equipment, and was a member of the buyout team that created Black Diamond Equipment. He moved back to this area in 1991, and he continues to work for Black Diamond as a sales representative.