Interview: Nate Draughn Sends Big Worm (V14)

posted by dpm on 07/01/2011


Nate Draughn is most well known for hanging out with the guys that have repeated Jade (V14/15).  But there's more to Nate than just the guys he hangs out with.  He spots really well.  That's another thing.  Sometimes his Jade crushing friends will give him a pair of Solutions that they think are about to blow out.  That's one more thing.  Occasionally, when his friends need to rest between burns they let Nate try bouldering too.  He does OK, but he dabs a lot.  Sometimes on purpose. 


Up until last week he'd done a healthy handful of V11's and the occasional V12 like Chunk up the Deuce at Fred's Cave in Arkansas, or his recent ascent of Bebe Wolverine at Mt. Evans, Colorado.  When word came in that Nate had just sent the Mt. Evans testpiece Big Worm (V14), our first thought was "Bullshit!"  So we called up Nate and interrogated him and it turns out he did send Big Worm.  I mean, 8a scorecards don't lie, right?  We asked Nate how he was able to completely skip the V13 grade and he just scoffed and told us that V14 was so easy that there was no need to climb the meager 13's. 


In all seriousness, we were really psyched to here of Nate's ascent.  He's been a core southeastern boulderer for years and after all that time climbing in the dirty southern heat it seems that some crisp alpine conditions were all he needed to take it to the next level.  Way to represent the South Nate!  We didn't really interrogate Nate but we did ask him a few questions about Big Worm, Mt. Evans, and his infectious style. 


Nate Draughn throwin' sponsor money.        


DPM:  Nate, last time I checked you sucked at bouldering.  You just sent a V14?  What the hell?


Nate:  Yeah, I don’t know man.  I spot a lot of strong people so that helps!  I also get “the hammie downs” from my friends when they get new, nice stuff like eight times a week.  Really though, compression and double heel hooks by my face are my thing!  My friend Brad was getting close on Ode (to the Modern Man) one day while I was out there, and I just kept thinking,' This kid is crazy! I don’t even understand those crimps!'  So I looked at Big Worm and thought it would fit me well.


DPM:  I saw you at the New River Rendezvous a few weeks ago.  I could tell you were cool by your style, exaggerated gangsta limp, and the fact that you won the bouldering comp.  Tell me about those three things.


Nate:  With my style I just don’t give a darn.  Wear what you like.  I like XL tees, skate kicks with whack-O laces, baggy pants and this pink belt I wear every day.  My fav colors are black, pink and white.  And my gangsta limp… I don’t know so much about my gangsta limp.  I’ve been doing this rocking back 'n forth thing since I was like four and now I look like the guy from "Rainman."  And my motivation for the comp came from the summers in the south being so brutal.  I was getting tired of being stuck in the gym pretty quickly and just tried to look at it as a time to get outside.  I kept telling myself no one else is going to do twenty boulders in this heat.  I just gotta not quit.  And luckily, Alex Johnson did like five new FA’s that day so he didn’t have time to just run me over.  That comp money supported my trip to CO.


DPM:   What were your impressions of Colorado high-country bouldering?


Nate:  The alpine stuff is amazing!!  You gotta work for each boulder you do.  Its different from the south.  The south usually has a defined crux move that takes much more time to unlock.  Colorado makes boulders that are just hard move, after hard move, after hard move.  Doing each move by itself and linking them together are two mad different things!  Summers in CO are an all day adventure.  Like, you can’t just bring snacks for the day and accidently forget water.  This aint LRC!  C’mon Son!!  You gotta have a legit meal, plus snacks and a back up meal to go with it.  A few years back I was at the Park warming up and a marmot ate 3 out of 4 of my PB&J for the day.  My energy level didn’t last too long that day.  


DPM:  Why did you pick Big Worm as your project?


Nate: I picked it because it fit my style, didn’t hurt, looked soo rad,(just a big refrigerator coming out of this cave) and had a good chilling spot for in between burns.  Haha.  I don’t like having to rest up on an awkward triangular rock or standing up.  I also liked that the style was so opposite of the Crimpy Dali wall that area A is known for.


DPM:  What was the thought process behind picking such a lofty goal?  Did you think you could do it the first time you got on it?


Nate:  I don’t really know.  I thought it was cool and I knew if I wanted to do something really hard, that would be the one to choose.  I first started trying when Voges did it and I kind of thought, compression is my style, it's Voges' anti-style, what the hell, maybe my biggest strength can sorta hang with Voges' used to be weakness!  Killin' the compression game!!!


DPM:  Tell me about Big Worm.  What was the send like?  How'd it feel?


Nate:  I’m bad at this kind of thing, but I’ll try.  The opening moves are a few nice slap moves.  The crux for me revolved around getting this bad sloper with a weird right heel, and then getting my left heel back to the other side of the prow, before falling off, so I could go left hand into the good start hand for the stand.  When I did it I didn’t say much.  I was kind of confused, like what the heck, way strong kids have done this rig.  What am I doing?  Gorillas in the Mist (V10) is on my project list.  I couldn’t stop smiling either.


DPM:  Are Jimmy Webb, Brion Voges, and Brad Weaver gonna let you spot them now?


Nate:  I hope. They gimme my hammie downs!!!  Hahaha.


DPM:  I imagine now that you've sent a V14 you're just going to retire.  Any plans?


Nate:  Yeah.  Focus in on school.  Hahaha  Nah, my plan is to stay positive, make small goals for myself, work towards personal improvement mentally and physically, do some more cool blocs, keep my girlfriend, and finish college before 2015.


DPM:  You're a special guy Nate.  Tell us something about yourself that we don't know.


Nate:  I hated my Senior English teacher in high school so I got her name tattooed on my left shoulder and showed it to her.  I also have the mayor and the town Franklinton tattooed on my back.  My dad was the mayor of Franklinton from 1987-1995.   


DPM:  Really great job on this send Nate.  We're really psyched for you.  It's great to see how a positive attitude and pure love of bouldering can help you achieve your goals.  Any sponsors to thank?


Nate:  Big shout out to Waka!  Nah, what if Bricksquad payed for me to rock climb?  Hahah…. I do not have any sponsors.  However, I would love to thank Sportiva, my parents for putting up with my laziness for everything except climbing, and all my friends who give me their “hammie downs.”


Follow Nate on his blog at

Make sure you check out his 'self-interview' if this one wasn't enough.