Whether they’re climbing, playing video games, or trying to trick someone into thinking they’re the same person, Malcolm and Pierre are always doing it together. Malcolm and Pierre Alcutt were born and raised in Oakland, CA and from a young age, the two did just about everything in tandem. Even with a four-year age difference, Malcolm (26) and Pierre (22) were each other’s best friends, and it’s not lost on them that their relationship is special. “My relationship with my brother seems pretty rare to me…I can count on my hand just how many times we have disagreed in anything or even argued,” Malcolm shares. But while the brothers have always gotten along naturally, they won’t take all of the responsibility for having such a strong relationship. “A lot of the credit is to our parents…I’ve told them they're the best type of parents for us because they kind of let us grow on our own, but they also nurtured us when they noticed we needed it,” Malcolm recalls. They were gifted a perfect mixture of nature and nurture, and it resulted in an enviable brotherly bond. From a single glance, a little giggle, or a subtle smirk they can communicate with each other instantly, and watching it play out in real time is amazing.
On top of that, Malcolm and Pierre have always seen each other as a source of inspiration. “In everything we’ve participated in—tumbling, rock climbing, video games, etcetera—he’s always made his efforts seem so effortless and elegant… It always made me want to be better than him. Which then made me constantly try to be better than who I was yesterday to catch up to him,” Pierre shares. Even as the older one, Malcolm regularly looks up to his younger brother. “[Pierre’s] a determined person. He was the first one to get the V10 we got outdoors. When I saw him send it, you know, I got inspired… So he was the main inspiration in that… Outside of climbing, he's charismatic, he gets his work done and I'm just proud of him,” Malcolm explains.
For those who are unfamiliar, “V10” refers to the grade of a bouldering climb, and the scale ranges from V0-V17. As the first double-digit grade, V10 is known as a big milestone in the climbing community. The fact that Pierre and Malcolm completed a V10 during their first outdoor climbing experience—in under two years of climbing—is remarkable.
Getting Into Climbing
While Malcolm and Pierre’s V10 may lead you to believe they’ve been climbing for ages, they started less than three years ago, and it essentially happened by chance. When they were younger, their dad took them to a nearby trampoline park and they fell in love instantly, but after doing the trampoline and tumbling thing for over seven years,“We simply got bored and looked for something new. Luckily, there was a climbing gym 500 feet from the trampoline place,” Pierre recalls. They fell in love almost instantly and on top of that, they got good at it quickly—like really quickly. Climbing, like most of their hobbies, came to them effortlessly. “Coming from tumbling, I was, you know, very good at body awareness. So I knew what corrections to make on the wall after I fall off of it, which some people, you know, struggle with,” Malcolm explains, “[But] I enjoyed falling… I think it's a lot better to fail at something, you know, until you can learn from your mistakes,” he adds.
Healing in the Outdoors
While Malcolm uses the gym as an opportunity for physical growth, climbing in the outdoors gives him the opportunity to escape and wind down. “If I'm going to climb outdoors, I'm going to enjoy being outdoors.” Malcolm shares. If he’s taking the time to make the trek outside, one of the best parts for him is actually the simple act of hanging out afterwards.
Similarly for Pierre, climbing in the outdoors also gives him the opportunity to unwind and spend time with loved ones. “I'm definitely mostly climbing outdoors to enjoy that time outside, enjoy that time with friends and scenery and stuff like that…My objective is to chill, have fun.” Pierre explains, “Helps and heals the soul a little bit.” Living in a city like Oakland, escaping from the noise and chaos can be incredibly restorative for them.
Means for Personal Growth
A lot of people get into climbing with specific intentions: getting sponsored, social media following, exercise, competition—the works. Ultimately though, for Malcolm and Pierre it’s become a useful outlet for personal growth off the wall.
As kids, while Malcolm and Pierre did plenty of playing at home, neither participated in organized sports because neither were interested in the competition (unless it was with each other, of course). “Rock climbing is more of an introspective sport where it’s you, not against yourself but, working with yourself,” Malcolm shares. For him, beyond using it as a way to work out, the fluidity of it all becomes incredibly meditative. Pierre also adds, “It's not a competitive sport… [but] I'm very competitive with Malcolm. I mean, it's been a fun ride for me because I've only gotten better.” Most siblings know brotherly and sisterly competition well, but for Pierre, it doubles as a source of inspiration for pushing himself to achieve more.
It’s also become a source of self expression for the brothers, and it’s ultimately had a profoundly positive impact on them both. “I think the expression of climbing appealed to me a lot because of how, I guess, hard it is for me to express myself personally. So I think climbing definitely helped me work through that,” Malcolm shares. Pierre also adds that for him, “It's very much you expressing yourself and sometimes in a way you don't even notice. People can understand you just by the way you climb as well… they can get a little bit of insight on kind of, like, how you think just by seeing how you move on the wall.” While opening up hasn’t always come as second nature to Malcolm or Pierre, climbing has become a go-to channel for self expression for them both.
Climbing has also helped Pierre come out of his shell socially. “I believe myself to be pretty introverted,” Pierre explains. “Once I started climbing a bit more and not so much with the same people, then that brought me out of the comfort zone of… just kind of connecting with people a little bit more,” he adds. In a city where the multitude of people can actually make you feel lonely, becoming a part of the climbing community has given Pierre a greater sense of self confidence and, ultimately, a place to flourish.
In some of his darkest moments, climbing has acted as a source of steadiness, peace, and bliss for Malcolm, and as it turns out, it’s helped his friends as well. As a result, he’s made it his goal to help others through climbing, too. “I've always wanted to get really good at climbing for the purpose of kind of coaching and teaching my friends how to get better so I can bring them up with me,” Malcolm explains. Seeing how growth on the wall and growth in the mind can go hand-in-hand, it’s driven Malcolm to help others experience those same benefits. “Climbing has helped me a lot, but you know, bringing everyone together and making everyone feel better about, you know, the body that they're in, it's kind of a big deal for me,” he adds.
More Than Just Climbing
Malcolm and Pierre have a unique outlook on climbing, and their takeaways have been anything but typical. Both brothers have found growth in multiple aspects of their lives—from physical strength and mental toughness, to socializing and patience. They’ve also continued to strengthen their bond as brothers, and in classic Malcolm fashion, “It has brought us together and has obviously really shown us who’s the much better climber,” he jokes. Whoever that much better climber may be, Malcolm and Pierre have taught us that climbing is about much more than simply making it to the top.