Charles Cole III was born in New York, and moved to California in 1968. His father was an engineer and manufacturer who specialized in high-precision parts for the aeronautic and aerospace industry. Cole loved helping his father design sophisticated parts, and then design the machines to make the parts. It was this passion and intellectual challenge, that of creating something that no one had thought possible, that would impact the rest of his life. He attended high school at the St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire, where he developed a passion for sports. Cole returned to California to attend University of Southern California, where he received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering . To round out his academic education, he pursued graduate work at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and was awarded an MBA in 1981.
“I was an athletic nerd,” remembers Cole . “When I was in the nerd circles, I was the most athletic of any of them. When I was in the athletic circles, I was easily the most nerdy of them all. The good news is that I’m very comfortable with that dichotomy.”
During his university years, Cole spent his free time climbing. “Climbing was so much fun in the 1970s and ‘80s in California,” Cole recalls. “I’ll never forget the first time I climbed a route with no rope—it was only a 5.7, at Joshua Tree. I’d led the climb, Overhang By-Pass on Intersection Rock, a half dozen times. But the first time I soloed it, I thought, “this is so much easier than all that work I did when I was using a rope and protection.” Like many of the local climbers (dubbed The Stone Masters), Cole soon established his own solo circuit in Joshua Tree. His next challenge? To see how many routes he could do in a single day. “John Long and I decided to see if we could do 20 to 25 routes in a day, and of course, as soon as we accomplished that goal, we needed to push the limit. My effort culminated with 129 routes in a day.” He picked the shortest day of the year and climbed until dark. His second-to-last route was a 5.8 he’d done countless times. “My mind was imploding with exhaustion. The rock seemed absolutely vertical and I had to climb with logic alone“. Cole soon set his sights on prizes in California’s epicenter of climbing, Yosemite. “I loved doing big routes on El Cap,” says Cole. “First I did them with one or two partners, then wanted to see if I could complete them solo.” One of Cole’s favorite solo ascents was Queen of Spades on Half Dome, followed by a first ascent of Autobahn—both considered test pieces today.
It was while Cole was living in Yosemite that he developed the first formula for Stealth Rubber (Stealth S1) and founded Five Ten. He’d been interested in rubber engineering, and one night, hiking off of Half Dome after a solo-aid ascent, he felt his foot slip. He avoided a fall, but that near miss led him to think about developing a high-friction rubber for hiking shoes. Cole thought long and hard about what to call his company. Five Ten’s name is derived from the scale used to rate the difficulty of technical rock climbs. Although a rating of 5.10 is not the most difficult level of climbing any more, it suggests a standard of competence, talent and courage. To a rock climber, Five Ten means real adventure.
Cole’s innovations in the outdoor sports arena are copious. He invented the UFO, the world’s first down-turned climbing shoe and the world’s first Velcro climbing shoe in 1990. In 1994, he developed the first “smart” midsole, designed to flex according to the climber’s weight. In 1997, the first water shoe was introduced by Five Ten, and in 2004, Cole incorporated the first EVA heel cushion on a climbing shoe to add comfort and stability on descent. Five Ten has led the extreme sports market in high friction footwear for nearly 30 years, with Cole leading the company with new Stealth rubber technology and revolutionary footwear innovation in climbing, bike riding, water sports and hiking--all designed to help athletes improve performance.
of Dark Matter, Dark Energy and their Causal Linkage