Jeremy Zachariash: Rapid Progression (Part 2)

posted by dpm on 12/05/2011

You may have caught on to my fascination with rapid progression through the climbing grades.  Like most of us, I trickled up a grade or less with each year of climbing.  When Jeremy Zachariash, an unknown to me, twenty-one year old claimed the second ascent of Jonathan Siegrist’s 5.14c testpiece New World Order, I raised a brow.  After a little Google-stalking I found out that, not only was he young, but that he’d only been climbing for four years and just two years ago sent his first 5.13.  Jeremy filled us in on what it takes to get good quick and why a diet of Heath Bar Blizzards doesn't help in the least.  

All photos courtesy of Brett Thompson.


Jeremy at home in Washington.

DPM:  Jeremy, I had never heard of you until recently.  All of sudden you’re sending some of the hardest routes in the country.  Who are you?  Where are you from?  How old are you?

Jeremy:  I am 21 years old and live in Marysville, Washington.  Currently I work and am enrolled in college.

DPM:  What was your first climbing experience?  How did you get into the sport?

Jeremy:  I grew up climbing trees.  When I was 17 years old, I wasn’t into school and dropped out and went to a ski resort and worked as a ski instructor full time.  Once the season ended I was looking for something to do and tried climbing and haven’t skied since.

DPM:  So you’ve only been climbing for 4 years?  How did you get so good so fast?  What has your progression looked like? 

Jeremy:  I started out in the gym, and a year into climbing in the gym I tried climbing outside.  From then on I switched my focus to climbing outside and spent a lot of time at Little Si working through the grades and putting in time on all the routes.  When that season ended I managed to get into the low 13’s.  From that time on, I spent my time either on the road or working to go climb.  I went on a 5 month trip with my little brother and a friend.  Then I came back, worked, and went on a 2 week trip that turned into 7 months! (laughs)  During those trips it was all about having fun and climbing and it still is.  Not until the last two months did I start to really progress.  I had been working a Route in Washington called Baby Fight and I was trying it a lot but then put my efforts on hold to start bolting routes.  After a couple weeks of bolting, scrubbing and climbing my own routes, I went back to the crag and fired the route.  I then turned my focus to a line called Blackest Magic (5.14b) which I had always looked at as something I wanted to do.  I worked the route for three weeks straight and watched what I ate.  When I sent the route and got the second ascent, it was a big step up from anything I had ever climbed and really helped my fitness.  Since then, I have just been having fun battling conditions, moving project to project, and trying hard.

New World Order (5.14c)

DPM:  Do you train?  If so, when did you start?  What do you do?  Do you have a coach?  Have you ever competed?

Jeremy:  Currently I have been climbing outside around 3 to 5 days a week.  I haven’t climbed in a gym in over three months.  All I do is watch what I eat and occasionally run.  Sometime in the future I would like to train but up until now I have never really trained.  I have only been to one competition a year or two ago and decided not to compete but it was fun to hang out.

DPM:  Most of your climbing is in the northwest.  What are the crags like up there?  Describe Little Si and the climbing style.

Jeremy:  Washington sport climbing hasn’t blown up yet, but it definitely exists.  We have a lot of unpublished climbing that would rival the best routes anywhere.  Unfortunately, our weather isn’t always the best.  The style of little Si can be diverse but mostly endurance.  The routes are long and technical with endless beta.

DPM:  Does it suit your style?  What is your style?  What are your climbing strengths and weaknesses?

Jeremy:  My weaknesses are ice cream, sugar cookies with buttercream frosting, cinnabons, and chocolate mousse.  My strengths are climbing in any conditions and whenever I can.

New World Order (5.14c)

DPM:  Talk about New World Order in particular.  What drew you to that line?  Had you tried it before Jonathan Siegrist got the first ascent?  How long did it take?  Describe the learning process.

Jeremy:  When I heard about the route it was a project and was way over my head at the time.  The route is a link up of two routes: Lost Horizons and Whore of Babylon (both 5.14b).  Both routes took me around 10 goes to do, and a lot of goes I was climbing through many wet sections.  The first day I tried to do NWO the conditions were perfect and I surprised myself when I sent on my third try that day.

DPM:  What other areas have you climbed at?  I know you’ve visited the Red.  What was your impression?  How’d you do there?

Jeremy:  I have climbed all through the US.  I had a blast spending two months at the Red last season.  When I got to the Red it was toward the end of my trip so my inner fat boy came out and I was on a heath bar blizzard diet which didn’t help my climbing, but I still did a lot of routes I wanted to.  Since that time I have lost a little under 20 pounds so I am psyched to get back there sometime.

DPM:  Just this past weekend, you visited Smith Rock.  Tell me about your trip.  What did you send and what are you psyched to go back for?

Jeremy: I am psyched on Smith and am really happy it’s only 6 hours from my house.  I spent most of my time hiking and scrambling but I did manage to get on Just Do It (5.14c) a couple of times which I am psyched to get back to.  (Ed’s note:  post interview, Jeremy sent Smith Rock’s famous Scarface (5.14a)

New World Order (5.14c)

DPM:  You’re going to Spain soon too.  What are some of the areas/routes on your ticklist?

Jeremy: Yeah, I am going to Spain on the 8th of December for two weeks.  No ticklist yet but I am just working on trying to find a way to extend my trip before school starts. 

DPM:  Spain is currently the proving ground for some of the strongest climbers in the world.  Do you think trying some hard routes will lead to further improvement?

Jeremy:  Definitely, especially if you are not training in a gym.  It is the only way to improve.

DPM:  In just the past few years we’ve seen rapid progression from folks like yourself.  The old standards have been shattered and now it seems many more people are climbing into the 5.14 range quickly.  What do you attribute this progression to?  How did that happen?

Jeremy:  I think it has to do with more people climbing and more access to hard routes.

DPM:  Thanks Jeremy, only three days until you leave for Spain.  Keep us posted!

Click here for video of Jonathan Siegrist on the first ascent of New World Order (5.14c).