Born in Bemidji, Minnesota, Paul Handlen forsook his family’s modest, generations-old profession of hockey hairstyling at a young age to carve out a new life for himself in the Saint Peter’s Basilica of rock climbing: Western Massachussetts. He has climbed nearly every boulder problem in the area and a whole slew of double-digit problems up to v11.
Aside from his mythic and prodigious ascent to the Mount Olympus of the climbing world, that one time he high-fived a shark, and his comprehensive collection of official limited edition Ernest Borgnine surfboards, he is best known for his involvement with “SIDEBOYZ,” a climbing duo he formed with his longtime friend and winged, immortal philosopher-king, Peter “Yeah, But Call Me Pete” Clark. The two established a twenty-four pitch, 5.12 A3 traverse of Farley Ledges known as “King Snake, the Eternal Mystery,” a name known by all climbers but whispered only by the bravest. Since deescalating his earth-shattering contributions to the climbing world, Mr. Handlen has taken to pursuing his two lifelong hobbies, stucco and bossa nova, building houses in Oklahoma that he believes are suited perfectly for the acoustics of the genre. When he is not engaging and challenging multiple art forms, he is living in Amherst, Massachusetts, where he can be found restoring vintage motorcycles, and practicing long division.