Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I had the great honor of interviewing one of my climbing heros, Jim Holloway, over lunch last winter. Here are a few of the questions I asked him

Andy: You established what is known as the "Big Three" boulder problems on Colorado’s Front Range. They are; "Slapshot" on Dinosaur Mountain in the Flatirons, "Trice" on Flagstaff Mountain, and "Meathook" at Fort Collin’s Horsetooth Reservoir, all three of which are un-graded and remain un-repeated. They could be the world’s first v12 and v13 boulder problems. Tell me about these problems.
Jim: Well Slapshot was a pretty significant problem for me. I specifically hiked up Dinosaur Mountain to work on Slapshot a number of times for about a year in 1976-77. I remember that the holds are very marginal, if you glued a quarter on the rock it would be a good hold! I remember John Sherman pulled off a loose flake at the start and glued it back on. I sometimes wonder if it was put on upside down because the hold is about twice the size as I remember it being! The beat is; pulling up, and lunging all at the same time for a little seam near the top. The take off point is critical so that you don’t lunge out instead of up. I took a few rocky downhill rides from missing that move.
Meathook too was an interesting challenge. My good friend and climbing partner, Jim Michaels, and I would go up to Horsetooth Reservoir and he would go to up to the "Talent Scout Wall." I wouldn’t really care for it because I had done it back in high school. So, I’d wait for him down at Meathook, trying and trying to do the first moves, but I never really took it too seriously. Then, one day I finally pulled of the ground! The rest went on autopilot, and it became a legendary problem, one that’s much more technical than Slapshot.
I’ve heard Trice called several things over the years, Chris Jones started calling ti "Another Holloway Route" or "AHR" and someone else started calling in another "Hell" route. I just called it Trice. When we first took notice to that line we were bouldering up there , his name was he had a friend called the big D, David something, he had the strongest fingers and I remember him putting his hands on the beginning undercling holds of the problem and I remember saying, "Now pull up", thinking no one could ever lift off these hold and he did! I got inspired and started working on the thing from that start. I remember you start under the bulge on an undercling, made a big move to a 3finger pocket with the right hand, bring the left up to a small hold and jump for the lip. There are no footholds. Again, I had the open-handed technique down, and you can’t crimp on the pocket, so it suited me well.

Andy: Will you ever shoe-up and go bouldering again?
Jim:The cerebal nerves in both my legs are dead, when I get up in the morning I have a hard time getting up and down the stairs. Driving is kind of interesting when I can’t tell were the pedals are. I can’t feel my feet. I’ve had 70 some stiches put in my leg over the last year from three different cuts I didn’t even feel happen. They even stiched them up without novicane. I can take an electric drill to my feet and there is nothing there! I often get phantom pains, I feel pain even though my sensory nerves are all dead. For me to get back on the rock would be a disaster. It would be difficault to handle for me mentally. My brain thinks I can shoe up, but my body knows I can’t.

Andy: Do you have any words of wisdom for a young climber like myself?
Jim: Number one is always have fun. Don’t take climbing too seroiuously that you become a slave to it. I saw people so plugged into climbing, that they couldn’t get there minds around anything else. By the time they got out of the car to climb they were so worked up, so intense about climbing, that they couldn’t enjoy the expiereince . I think that holds a lot of people back. I think those people should re-learn how to just relax, and enjoy what they are doing. Ya know, we’d never talk about climing, even on the way to the climbing areas! Intenseness can hold ability back, I truely believe that. Jim Michaels and I used to always stop at lakes and throw rocks on the way to go bouldering. Why the hell woiuld we do that? Well because we just enjoyed doing it, see? It would drive our friends crazy, and it really showed me the importance of enjoying other things. Go fishing! Be serious about what you do, but don't let it comsume you. If you one day become disabled, like me, you’ll miss the fun with your friends much, much, more than a piece of rock, trust me. Take it slow. The routes I miss the most are the easy ones.
photo: John Gill


chuffer said...

thanks Andy and w3rd to Jim's last answer!!! there's a lot in there. take a moment to re-read it people.


sock said...

no need to re-read. message loud and clear and taken to heart.