BJ Tilden Establishes Wyoming's First 5.14d

posted by dpm on 08/06/2012

Lander local BJ Tilden has sent his 10 year project at Wild Iris and called it Moonshine (5.14d.) The route is located just to the left of the famous Todd Skinner mono-testpiece, Throwin' the Houlihan at an area called the Erratic. The relatively short, 50-foot pitch, defines the Wild Iris style with consistently difficult and bouldery movement. BJ describes the route as, "...pretty much hard the whole way. The business is 17 moves with no chalking or shaking out. It has a really hard low percentage throw at the fourth bolt(the place of countless one-hangs) and then maybe a V8 to finish after that. It is a pretty short route but it is a really long sustained boulder problem."

On his 8a scorecard, BJ remarked that sending this route marks the "end of an era," an era that consumed nearly a third of his 32 years on the planet. "I bolted the route in 2002," he said. "I had a hurt finger and basically bolted the line out of boredom. While I was putting the bolts in I really thought it looked impossible, but bolted it anyways. I guess I tried it for the first time in '03 and '04. I started to put some of the moves together and I began to realize that it could actually go."

BJ sticks the crux throw of Moonshine. Photo: Jamie Emerson/

"The first time I tried it seriously was the summer of '05 with my friends Leif and Kyle who were also trying routes at the Erratic. At the end of the season I stuck the throw and fell from the last hard move. After spending so much time on it that summer and failing I kind of left it alone for a few years and focused on some other routes. Then last summer my friend Kyle came back and we picked up where we left off in '05. We had a trip planned for the Red in October and the day before we left I made it through the crux again and fell off the last hard move again, same high point as '05. Pretty sure I played it over a million times in my head on the 26 hour drive to Kentucky. How could we put in that much time and effort and fail again? Kyle was also falling at the end of the Houlihan. At this point there was no option but to keep trying for as long as it takes."

Persistence paid off and, as with any send of a project of this magnitude, it came somewhat unexpectedly. "I felt tired and my first goes weren't that great. I decided to give it a third go and I fell off a low move that I never fall on. I came down, pulled the rope, and actually sent on my fourth go. No expectations, nothing to lose, just try hard. I am super psyched but more than anything I am relieved. I'm looking forward to life as a climber after Moonshine."

BJ Tilden on Orange for Anguish (5.14c). Photo:

BJ's final statement raises the question, What's next for the Lander local that's done so much already? Over the past decade, Tilden has established more 5.13+ and 5.14 routes in the area than anyone else. In fact, the hardest route at each of the three major Lander crags is a Tilden first ascent. In 2008, he established Orange for Anguish (5.14c) at Baldwin Creek then in 2009 he repeated Wild Iris' then hardest route, Genetic Drifter (5.14c). In the spring of this year, he put up the hardest route at Sink's Canyon, another 5.14c called Double Down. And now, with the establishment of Moonshine, Wild Iris and Wyoming have their first 5.14d.

Tilden on Double Down (5.14c), Sinks Canyon. Photo: Kyle Duba

Update! BJ's friend Jeremy has uploaded some footage of the the route taken a month prior to the actual send. Click the image below for footage. 

Click the image for video.