posted by dpm on 03/09/2011
Jason Kehl has been a Hueco regular for many years. After his recent exploratory mission to boulder in the Himalayas he made his annual pilgrimage back to Hueco to finish up one of his long term projects. Jason referred to his recent first ascent as “the most beautiful, pure, hard, undone roof line I’ve seen in Hueco.”
The Seventh Circle: All Photos courtesy of Jason Kehl and Cryptochild.com
DPM: Jason, tell us about this project.
Jason: The problem islocated on South Mountain, which is code for the southern-most point of the East Spur. (There is no South mtn. in Hueco) I was referring to it as the South mountain project. It’s only a 5 minute walk from "the Maze" one of Hueco's most popular zones. It’s in a super obvious location, right on ground level. I believe Fred Nicole checked it out years ago. It’s the most beautiful, pure, hard, undone roof line I've seen in Hueco.
DPM: Was sending this route top priority for this season?
Jason: Yeah, I started working on it three seasons ago, the first season I blew my knee out requiring surgery(from jumping off the problem). The following season I came back and got agonizingly close falling of the last move. This year I came back with a vengeance. I’ve probably tried it from the ground over 50 times, falling at the last move about 10. I wasn’t leaving Hueco until I finished it.
DPM: What’s the breakdown on the problem?
Jason: The crux is the lip encounter, where you slap a non-existent sloper, cut your feet and try to find a blind heel scum and rock back to an edge with double rows of very sharp teeth. Then 5 more moves out the bulge, Its steep so it requires a lot of power endurance, with the crux at the end. It’s probably the hardest top out I've tried in Hueco. It’s 15 moves just to get out the roof, then you encounter the crux and it doesn’t let up till your standing on top, with a total of 25 moves. There is also an issue with the sun and it being in your eyes and warming the sloper. I would get up at 5:30 and start to warm up at the house so I could start trying it a soon as I got into the park. (the park opens at 8am)
DPM: What’d you name it and how hard do you think it is?
Jason: I called itThe Seventh Circle (after Dante’s Seventh Circle of Hell representing violence). As far as the grade, I will wait for a consensus. A lot of strong climbers have checked it out. Woods, Graham, Hukkataival, maybe they have an idea. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever committed to. I just wanted to do it cause it one of the nicest lines in Hueco.
Jason Kehl wishes to thank his sponsors: Native, La Sportiva, and Revolution. He is just as well known for his creative art and videos as he is for his groundbreaking first ascents.