Interview: Jimmy Webb Flashes Sky (V13/14)

posted by dpm on 07/01/2013



Last week we reported on Jimmy Webb's first round of sends in Rocklands, South Africa. He was off to a good start with fast sends of Derailed and Mooiste Meisie which are both V13 or V14 depending on who you ask. He also pulled off an impressive flash of The Vice (V13) as well as seven V11 flashes. Yesterday, Jimmy dropped the clutch and flashed Sky, a problem regarded as one of the world's finest and considered to be V14 by many that have climbed it. He opted for the V13 points which makes one wonder since those calling it V14 are household names in the climbing world like Paul Robinson, Daniel Woods, James Kassay, and Dave Graham who called it "the hardest 8b+ (V14) rig here for me so far" on his 8a scorecard. Sky was Webb's fourth V13 flash, two of which were graded V14, the other being Kings of Sonlerto in Valle Bavona, Switzerland. Regardless of how you knit-pick the numbers, these problems are hard and Jimmy's out there doing them first try so we battled through South Africa's fickle internet to ask him a few questions.

Jimmy on the flash of Nutsa (V11). All photos are Jimmy Webb screen grabs from video.

DPM: Jimmy! How's the trip been? You having some fun?

JW: Trip has been absolutely amazing thus far. The weather has been cooperating and we've climbed 8 days out of the 11 we've been here. - I'm here with friends Chris Little, Isabelle Faus, Chad Greedy and Ryan Copeland. We have a nice little house over at the travelers rest. We're staying in the big house with our "grandma." She takes care of us.

Kasia (Jimmy's girlfriend) is here too and she's doing great! This is the first big trip she's been able to go on in a long time so she's really enjoying it. The climbing here is quite similar to the South though in the sense that its reachy. So she has trouble with some problems. She's a beast though so she's been sending! She did Caroline, 7C+ (V10) the other day and she's been working on a number of double digit blocs.

DPM: So what's it like in Africa? Have you seen some rad stuff like a lion or a cobra?

JW: Not yet, but we're going on a night hunt soon. We're gonna take in a little lion soon as our house pet. Name him Simba.

DPM: Have you eaten anything crazy like a zebra?

JW: No zebra but TONS of meat...

Kasia on White Mazda Clan (V9/10)

DPM: Maybe a carnivorous diet was the key to flashing Sky. Tell me about that. Did you go into it with a serious flash attempt mentality?

JW: Sky has been a problem I've been dreaming about flashing for a long time. It's kind of the perfect problem in my eyes and I knew that it would suit me.

DPM: Was this your proudest or hardest flash?

JW: Actually no. Out of the four 8B's I have flashed I think it maybe felt the easiest. I don't necessarily think that's because it is the easiest.. but because of the simplicity of the bloc. You either do it perfect or you don't do it at all. When I climbed it, it felt like I had done the boulder a thousand times.

DPM: How do you prepare for these flashes? Do you watch video? Do you get Kasia to slap you in the face to build the psyche?

JW: Haha. I usually watch some videos. I just study some different betas and choose which method would be the best for me. On top of that I am quite obsessive. I think about the boulder so much. Just running the beta through my head over and over, and imagining that perfect moment. This builds confidence and makes me believe that I can do it.

DPM: Tell me about how it felt on the flash go.

JW:It felt surprisingly easy. Yet that's how most flashes at your limit should feel. It's that wild moment where everything comes together perfectly and your left standing there wondering what just happened.

Jimmy flashing Sky (V13/14)

DPM: How about The Vice? Tell me about that one too.

JW: The Viceis such a sick bloc.. One of the raddest lines with the most perfect holds. Compression climbing at its finest! This flash was a bit different and more difficult for sure. So many moves, so many places you can mess up, and so much beta to remember. It's difficult to find that flow on the first try, and luckily I did.

DPM: What are your remaining goals? Did you find any projects out there yet? Have you tried Monkey Wedding? Livin' Large? Amandla?

JW: I have lots of problems left on the list. I haven't tried any of the harder blocs yet but I think I will start trying one soon. Maybe Monkey Wedding? It's super accessible and right in the middle of a large area where everyone can climb. Livin' Largelooks amazing but it's quite a bit of work to get out to that thing. You need lots of pads ( which we don't have ) and it's a long hike with not too much else in the area. I feel bad dragging everyone out in the middle of nowhere for my project, but we will see what happens. We've got a month left!

Click the image for video of Ethan Pringle climbing Sky (V14)

Click the image for video of many hard problems in Rocklands including The Vice at 17:50.