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Meet Fabi Chillino of Chillino Rock Climbing in Ocean Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Fabi Chillino.

Fabi, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Moving to San Diego from Germany was a real eye opener! I had no idea how much outdoor climbing there is available and how supportive the community is. Once in California, I started exploring different areas and I was very impressed by the amazing weather conditions that allow for climbing almost any given day of the year. So in 2012, shortly after obtaining my AMGA certification as a rock climbing instructor, I founded Chillino Rock Climbing. I had just finished my MBA program and was ready to start my own company. My life at that time consisted much of climbing and a little bit of working.

Chillino Rock Climbing did not bring in enough finances, so I looked for a job and found one at Rusty Spokes bike shop in PB. For the next 2 years, that was a great gig for me since I had flexible work hours – the perfect schedule for sustaining my climber’s lifestyle and on the side working on my company. My excitement to be in San Diego was greater than ever. I felt so ready since all I did in the past years was studying and climbing (and working at Rusty Spokes). All the technical knowledge that I obtained through the AMGA course and my personal climbing gave me a lot confidence to be a great guide. On top, a lot of my friends encouraged me to pursue my dream and make a living with what I love the most. I never rushed myself into getting something started and always had my strategy. One of the very first things I did was to invite many of my friends to Joshua Tree for a photo and video shoot.

I hired a professional to capture some great images for my website. That was great event and the resulting pictures and videos gave Chillino Rock Climbing a lot of credibility in what we do. Then I started all our social media platforms including a Yelp and a Google business listing. Once my first reviews trickled in, Chillino Rock Climbing started to gain momentum and more requests came in.

Today, we get daily phone calls from people wanting to go climbing. I am proud to have made CRC the best and most reviewed outdoor climbing service in San Diego.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Fortunately, it has been a smooth road for most parts. The best strategy was to not stress too much while using the best resources and inspiration that I could find. For example, the 10-day AMGA Rock Instructor course was a great challenge for me. By that time, my experience as a guide was minimal and I received some great feedback that helped me to grow as a professional guide with my distinct style. I also worked three years with a handful of other guiding services before I started Chillino Rock Climbing. That was a huge plus because I picked and choose from the best practices that I observed to build my own high-quality guiding service for San Diego and SoCal.

I am also always keen to raise the bar wherever I can and this naturally comes with challenges. For example, we started our CRC YouTube channel showcasing many of the technical rock climbing drills that my clients can review after their class – this turned out to be a challenge and we are excited that it is highly appreciated by our clients and many other viewers on the net. For certain programs we also send out digital manuals that help to prepare and debrief the classes and sessions.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
We provide rock climbing classes and customized rock climbing experiences and programs to climbers or aspiring climbers of all levels.

We understand that people go rock climbing for many reasons. For each person or group, the motivation can be a totally different. Some clients are specifically seeking advanced technical training to safely go out on their own in the future, some clients are taking their family or date on an adventure, some clients use our guiding skills to provide a therapeutic nature experience to their patients, and others may simply seek the thrill of rocks and ropes – ready to check mark their bucket list.

Whatever it is! We are dedicated to provide a safe and fun environment with the most educational outcome that caters to the goals of each program. What sets us apart from other companies is that besides our field training, we are proud to offer a multi-faceted learning experience with the help of our company’s own course manuals and instructional videos that are available on our YouTube channel. We also help our clients with free advice on gear purchases and many of the technical systems that we teach.

We are proud to be the training provider for Navy SEAL team V and the nationwide Naval Sea cadets for 3 consecutive years in a row. We also have also successfully hosted 6 yoga retreats in the past years, collaborating with a professional chef and yoga teacher to bring a fully catered camping experience to our program.

What were you like growing up?
I grew up in Germany and started climbing when I was ten. Actually, I was climbing long before – just buildings and trees with no ropes. Everything outside was my playground. I built tree houses, skate ramps and often begged my parents to stay out longer and play with the neighbor kids. I did not enjoy TV or video games that much as long as I could be outside. I loved having projects and organizing these with my friends. I remember one time I made customized bead bracelets for Christmas and sold them in the neighborhood. We made $100 which felt awesome. Sports was of course a big deal. Like many German boys, I decided to join the soccer club.

As a goalkeeper, I lasted for 2 years until I quit and discovered skateboarding and shortly after climbing. I got introduced to climbing through my classmate. I remember her telling me about her visit to the climbing wall in town that just opened. She even had a flyer with youth team training times, every Wednesday at 4pm! That was it. Thanks to my mom driving, I showed up and instantly got hooked on this climbing thing. Hanging on a rope, making difficult moves, challenging myself and going at my own pace was a great feeling that I enjoyed much more than the team sports I had tried. At the climbing club (DAV), I met my coach “Martin”. His adventure spirit and stories are still in my head. In the late 80’s, he embarked on an amazing adventure for 4 years crossing the American continent from Northern Canada to Patagonia by bicycle. He had sold all his belongings in Germany to pursue his journey. His stories were so exciting and truly inspired me to pursue my own adventures. Somehow, I always knew that I am supposed to be outside as much as possible! Now, I am so grateful to live in California and live the outdoor lifestyle to the fullest.

Pricing:

  • Introduction to Rock Climbing class at Mission Trails for 1 climber – $125/5hrs session
  • Private guiding in San Diego for 2 climbers – $300/5hrs session
  • Private guiding in Joshua Tree for 2 climbers $500/8hrs session
  • Yoga and Climbing retreat Joshua Tree, March 24th+25th, for 1 participant – $299 (early bird till end of Feb)

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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