And providing a soft landing for the exploding bouldering scene
Bouldering in Mexico has taken off over the last decade, in part because of the growth of accessibility of the sport. Gyms like Casa Boulder, V+ Bouldering, and Levita, and climbing equipment brands like Cyrus Gear, helped usher in new generations by reducing the friction to getting started.
Launched in 2009, Cyrus Gear was the first bouldering-focused climbing company to find success in the country. Founder, Cirenio Israel Lopez Mendez, introduced some of the first ever, locally-made crash pads, and hasn’t looked back since. Their sprocket-styled Aztec-inspired logo is now ubiquitous with bouldering in the country.
In this interview, we chat about how Israel got started, what the scene was like in the beginning, and his first, reluctant, sale.
1) How did the idea for first making crash pads come about?
It was the quest for boulders that motivated us to produce our first crash pad. At that time there was no option for what we were looking for: [A pad that had] density, resistance, size, durability. That’s why we decided to produce the first crash pad, which was designed for personal use only. Selling them was never a thought.
2) What is your background with climbing?
I’ve been climbing for 27 years. My introduction to climbing was during my first year of junior high at the age of 13. A friend of mine invited me and introduced me to Cristian Macoco, who adopted me in the climbing world. At that time, we would go to nearby climbing zones, like Aculco, Villa Alpina, Los Remedios, among other places.
The fourth time I went, at Los Dinamos, I did my first multi-pitch. It was a route named Viiaje Mágico [5.9+ trad], and I felt immensely happy. That day we tried to use a cam for the first time… we couldn’t use it, lol.
For me, being on the wall, in the middle of the forest, in a place I couldn’t imagine… It was magical. This experience, each time I climb, it is still magical for me.
3) What attracted you to bouldering?
For the first many years I practiced sport climbing only, but then I met this place to the north of Mexico City called “El Bovedón.”
That’s where my introduction to bouldering began. From there, many other friends showed me other zones to go bouldering. Everything was new for me, and it was fascinating; it was like climbing only the hardest part of a line.
4) What was the climbing scene like in Mexico, specifically for bouldering, when you decided to start making pads?
Bouldering in Mexico was barely known. Back then sport climbing was more common. Maybe it’s because there were no local brands or stores that made it easier to get the gear or to practice bouldering. At the very least, it was just not as known as it is now. The bouldering community has grown during the past few years. Now it is as popular as sport climbing.
It’s very satisfying for me to know that there are a lot more people climbing now than ten years ago. Me and my team are very happy knowing that we contributed to this development; more people practicing bouldering is a dream come true for me.
5) What was the process like for making your very first pads?
At the beginning, I just really wanted a crash pad.
That idea, the need to make the first one, started humbly. It was stuffed from recycled materials and it was not eye appealing. But when it was finished, it was the best crash pad in the world for me. Plus it worked very well!
The first sale happened when a friend of mine asked me to sell it to him. And I didn’t want to; Imagine, to sell your first creation? I couldn’t. [But eventually did.]
I made another crash pad for myself with many improvements and yet another friend of mine bought it. It was difficult because I made it for me, but [then I thought] I want to share the experience.
Then we made another crash pad, and decided to name it “Cyrus”. The first Cyrus was sold the same way the others were [from people seeing them and asking about them]. Since then we haven’t stopped producing and improving the crash pads. It’s been over a decade now.
6) How has the climbing community changed since you first started?
The community has grown a lot from then to now, and it is easier to have the tools to practice the sport.
This community is still full of people who love outdoors, who seek self-realization in contact with the rock, [and this is what] takes us to the forests, mountains, deserts, canyons and other places surrounded by nature.
Over the years, I have been able to be in touch with climbing, but now it has become more accessible thanks to the creation of gyms, the development of new areas and the [further development of] areas that already existed too. [I think] the climbing community in Mexico will continue growing and this will not stop.
7) How might climbing in Mexico be different if Cyrus Gear was never formed?
I don’t know, since we all influence everyone; all actions, words, experiences, creations, etc. Each and every human being has some kind of result on the unknown future.
What I can tell you is that the work team at Cyrus is looking for the tools to be able to climb with quality products and make it accessible to everyone who wants to climb. What began with the dream of being able to make our own material and tools continues growing.
Now with social media, it makes it easier to everyone who has the same dream: Just contact me and I can share the experience of a climbing line or a boulder to help them [get the beta they need], and of course, to provide them with quality and accessible products. For that, they can check out our website: cyrusgear.com.
Now the new dream is being part of the community and helping directly fulfill the needs of climbing in Mexico, and to contribute as much as possible for this sport.
You can check out all of Cyrus Gear’s products, from quickdraws to crash pads to chalk bags, on their website, or at climbing gyms around the country.