Presentations of climbing expeditions often appear more like
grandma and grandpa’s slide show of their RV adventure through
Wyoming; that is, unless the show is Timmy O’Neill’s traveling
production, “Outside University.”
Tuesday night CSU students and guests from the Front Range got
the opportunity to see what a show based on climbing experiences
should be: fun, entertaining and full of surprises.
“For me climbing is an individualistic sport,” O’Neill said
prior to the show. “I do it for myself, so I find it difficult to
talk about climbing and not exclude people. And when you talk about
yourself, it’s boring and you lose the audience. My show is all
about inviting the audience in.”
O’Neill achieved that in his production, held in the Lory
Student Center North Ballroom, through clips of his climbing
adventures and urban climbing films, slides of his expeditions in
Greenland and Yosemite National Park and dozens of prizes that
allowed attendees to show off their own urban climbing abilities.
Oh yeah, he also integrated comedy … in a big way.
“I use comedy as a way to get on the same level as everyone
else,” O’Neill said. “It’s easy when you talk about things everyone
can relate to, like waiting.”
O’Neill elaborated on waiting in his show in a hysterical
comparison to waiting in line and waiting for the weather to
cooperate for a climb. He also integrated emotional aspects into
the show, especially in the case of Warren McDonald.
As a double-leg amputee above the knee, McDonald did not seem
the perfect candidate to scale anything, let alone a massive
structure like Yosemite National Park’s El Capitan, but he and
O’Neill achieved the climb.
“We met at a mountain film festival,” O’Neill said of his first
encounter with McDonald. “He was there for a film he had done (‘The
Second Step’) and he approached me with the concept of climbing El
O’Neill added that he used the story of McDonald to further
emphasize the purpose of “Outside University,” which is to motivate
people to get outside.
“People see him and wonder, ‘How does he do that?’ He’s a
double-leg amputee and climbed El Capitan,” O’Neill said. “We want
people to see that and get motivated to use the resources that
On the cusp of the Rocky Mountains, Fort Collins is the perfect
area for those unassociated with the outdoors to get to know them
and for those already active with the outdoors to further their
activity in them.
“The reason Outside Magazine is doing this is we want people to
know that there are a lot of things to do outside,” said Hilary
Maitland of Red Point Creative, the show’s sponsoring magazine.
“The point of the tour is to instill students with wonderment and
enthusiasm to go rock climbing, kayaking, hiking … just take
advantage of the natural resources here and integrate it to an
Those motivating tactics worked, at least temporarily.
“It left me wanting to hit the trails now,” said Jen Anderson, a
26-year-old resident of Berthoud. “It was funny and informative, I
had a great time.”
Those who missed the chance to see O’Neill on campus, have
another shot as the tour concludes May 19 at the University of