Jason Kehl has been climbing for over 13 years and an artist for just as long. Climbing has always been a good creative outlet and his vagabond lifestyle and penchant for danger have fueled his adventures over the years. Jason's evolvement in the climbing world reflects theses ideas and he is willing to share them with whoever is willing to listen.
A pro climber that has been living on the road for the past 10 years, Jason always seems to find adventure. His highballing escapades have been well documented, including some amazing first ascents like- Evilution in Bishop, Ca and becoming the first person to solo 5.14d with his boulder ascent of The Fly in Rumney New Hampshire. You can also see what he is up to via his website www.cryptochild.com.
It's been a long time since I've competed in an indoor climbing competition and for good reasons. I grew up plastic climbing, and although that was not all I did, it was a great means for me to get strong and squeeze my way into the climbing world. I was involved in some of the first bouldering competitions that swept over the nation, eventually peaking with the PCA. It was a great time for competition, there were killer new walls, like The Front in Salt Lake City, and The Spot, in Boulder, where new faces came up to battle it out against some of our sports greatest heroes. After years of competing, putting myself against the wall in that one moment in time, I grew weary and was in search of other pleasures from climbing. I was looking for highball first ascents and it was an easy distraction away from the plastic world. Nevertheless, it was never an easy thing to forget, after all one of my first jobs was as a route setter in Maryland. Climbing and setting everyday was like a crash course in movement; my body couldn't help but learn. So over those couple of years that is what I did--study.
Even though these days I am primarily a rock climber, I still stay connected to plastic through designing climbing holds. I have been to so many amazing climbing areas, each surprising me with their diversity of rock styles, I couldn't help but be inspired. This would be the next focus for my studies, recreating rock in a friendly playful cartoon-ish style. Thousands of photos and hundreds of holds later, I have in my own way brought what I see back into the gyms. I think that's one of the most rewarding parts of the job. It all starts with a thought and/or image, maybe it was a feature I saw in Font, or the piece of cabbage that was oddly cut while making dinner. Then, from the mind it flows out through the fingers while I slowly scrape away the foam uncovering the shapes. Now off to the shop and after some mold making and mass production they're out to the people. Check out the shaping I've done recently for Revolution, So iLL, Etch and Cryptochild.
This year my hold shaping world came full circle back at me in a major way. I was invited by Jason Danforth and Pete Ward of the NE2C series to help set for the big Mammut Bouldering Championship that took place on top the Shilo Inn parking garage in downtown SLC during the Outdoor Retailer Show. The scene was crazy on the rooftop, the stage was set for a battle and the flowing walls, built by John Stack at Vertical Solutions, added simplicity by creating a steep and powerful blank canvas. This was truly the next wave in the bouldering competition movement and I was psyched to do my part. I had just recently set for a large comp in Germany, so picking up the wrench was an easy thing to do. The route setting went great, it's always interesting to work on new terrain and the bonus was being able to set with the new huge Eye that I shaped for So iLL. I watched the finals from the crowd as all the competitors tried to figure out how to use this monstrosity. I just couldn't help but sit back and laugh, remembering the long days in the sun, carving away for weeks. Now my baby's up there on stage and making Papa proud!
Well, that's all in the past now, my days lately have been filed with sun drenched afternoons enjoy tea on the back porch at the Bunny Ranch. The first couple days back to Mount Evans have been wet ones, but it's all part of the game, especially here in Colorado. I'm not sticking around for long and won't be easily caught. First, I'm off to SLC on September 19 to do a slideshow for the Climb4Life Event and than another at the 24hrs of Horseshoe Hell Comp on September 26 down in Arkansas. The southern sandstone is truly calling my name.
On a side note, check out this new video I just chopped up. It's footage from when I was in Japan, and at the same time won and accepted the Everest Award in Vail, Colorado.
Lastly, I'd like to give a shout out to fellow Dead Point Blogger, Mikey Williams. "Hey man, what up? Nice work on the animal parts! I thought I would share one of mine with you. I thought it was similar, minus the baby doll parts I thru into the mix."