Zach Bramel


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I am part of the Leadership Team at the Academy. This means that I work with Ali, Noah, and Richard to make decisions for the company, and help organize our staff. I think a better way to think about this is that I try to spend my time enabling our staff to deliver the best product we can. Sometimes this means removing obstacles or barriers that would otherwise stand in their way. I do my best to set everyone up for success.

Growing up in Saint Paul, Taylor’s Falls was a regular weekend day-trip for my family. My brother and I LOVED hopping around on the “cool rocks” there together as kids. In 2003, My Father, Brother, and I got gym memberships to VE Saint Paul (the only climbing gym at the time). We would go in about 3 days a week for the 6 years following that. In 2009 I got a job there. I was surrounded by people who saw Rock Climbing as a lifestyle and a pursuit in its own right. This is a mindset I had never been exposed to. I took quickly to it, as it gave my life a focus. This is when I would say I went from “someone who climbs” to being a “climber”. Shortly after I started, I began coaching for the VE climbing team. In the subsequent 5 years I enjoyed a huge amount of personal and climbing growth, as would be expected by someone who is trying to go on as many climbing trips as they possibly can, while going to college, and trying to coach a bunch of youth climbing athletes. In 2013, my fiancé (now wife) Emily and I went on an extended climbing trip that lasted 4 months. Later that year, I helped open the Academy as one of the founding members, and the rest is history! If you have any more curiosities about my climbing or coaching experience, I would love to share. Feel free to ask via email, set up a meeting, or better yet on the way to the boulders.

A lot of the work I do for Midwest Climbing is spent on projects “outside of the Academy”. Outside of work and outside of climbing, however, I have quite a few hobbies that some would refer to as quite “nerdy”. I have been playing Magic the Gathering since 1994, I own a PS4 that DOESN’T just sit and collect dust, Friday night is usually Pathfinder night (and offshoot of DnD), and Saturday nights are for boardgames with my buddies! Lastly, and this is an important one, my wife and I love to explore the fantastic food Minneapolis has to offer. If you know of a dish we need to go try, get at me! Let’s go together!

Zach’s go-to climbing destination

In Minnesota: Wherever the weather allows me to climb.

In the Country: Joes Valley, UT or Northern Arkansas

Zach’s Academy goals

One of my purest joys is watching someone grow or succeed, knowing that I was able to help them in some way big or small, achieve that moment. I know no better place to combine my climbing lifestyle and that joy. My passion is to enrich lives through rock climbing, and I believe we can do that here.

Zach’s secret talent

Uh, I know I am supposed to rattle off a party trick or something here, but usually at parties I just end up making a weird joke that no one gets (or they all get it and no one laughs). So I guess my secret talent is having the ability to alienate 2-7 people at the drop of a hat, probably.