Jonathan Siegrist: 5.14+ First Ascent in Rifle (Updated!)

posted by dpm on 10/03/2011

Jonathan Siegrist has sent a long-standing project in Rifle that he’s calling Shadowboxing (5.14+).  The ascent comes as a fitting climax to one of Rifle’s most impressive and noteworthy seasons in recent years.  The season started off with a bang with Matty Hong’s first ascent of Bad Girl’s Club (5.14+), a climb regarded as possibly the hardest in Rifle.  It saw quick repeats by Jonathan Siegrist and Joe KinderJenn Vennon’s ascent of Stockboy’s Revenge (5.14b/c) was equally impressive.  After repeating most of the hardest routes in Rifle, Jonathan took a quick trip to San Francisco before returning for a final stay with the goal of staying fit and psyched for his trip to the American East. 

On my final day in Rifle, just a little over a week ago, I ran into Jonathan at the Project Wall.  Having completed most of the hard routes he was uncertain about what to try next.  We glanced across the creek and talked about the impossible-looking project.  The route was envisioned by visiting Belgian Nico Favresse almost a decade ago.  He had enlisted the help of a Rifle local to bolt it but was not able to send before leaving.  The route had quick draws on it and Jonathan was concerned about trying it if someone else was invested in it.  After talking with Sam Elias, who had hung the draws, Jonathan sampled the route and was able to do all the moves on his third time up it.

Jonathan Siegrist on Shadowboxing (5.14d)  Photo: Andy Mann

At first he thought the route might be 5.15a but in his usual style, Jonathan was able to send in just over one week of effort.  In an email, Jonathan referred to the route as a “big boy version of Living in Fear,” a route known for its ruthlessly sustained nature.  On his blog he writes, “ The difficulty seemed to just stack together - there's very little opportunity to rest, anywhere. An ultra powerful, dull undercling with poor feet characterizes the burly crux of this route - a one handed rest gives you a brief, strenuous pause just before you enter a total style change - the finishing crux on small sloping edges and tiny pockets reminiscent of Ten-Sleep. It's the big boys version of 'Living in Fear' - no knee-pads, no valuable resting and a complete pallet of stylistic challenges.” 

He continues, “Shadowboxing is something of an anomaly in Rifle. It's difficult to compare it with more broken up, knee-bar laden, steep routes like 'The Crew' 14c, 'Bad Girls Club' 14c/d and 'Girl Talk' 14b although I do feel that it is a step up from said climbs. Its closest sibling in my mind is 'Waka Flocka Flame' 14c - which pales in comparison. Originally I thought that it could be an entirely new level for Rifle climbing, but after making such quick progress I've come to think it is more likely just a touch above the standard. I feel it is adequate to suggest 14d for my new route based on my recent experience climbing on the Western Slope- although, like anything (especially in this Canyon), only repeats and time will help decide where it belongs amidst the plethora of burly climbs in Rifle. Regardless, I'm very excited to add a route to such a beloved and classic sport climbing area.” 

Fortunately, senior DPM videographer Andy Mann was there to capture the ascent on film.  Don’t hold your breath but stay tuned for what will surely be some impressive footage of Rifle’s newest “hardest route.”  

You know what they say about a guy with a big lens?  Andy Mann works hard to bring you some sick video.  Photo: Jstarinorbit.com

Update!  The dreaded Rifle kneebar strikes again.  Just a few days after the ascent Jonathan has downgraded his own route.  On his blog he states, 

*Today (October 3rd), I revisited Shadowboxing just before I left Rifle. I wanted to finish thoroughly cleaning the route and prepare it for hopefully many ambitious repeats. Climbing on the route fresh and having the opportunity to think over the route's difficulty, in addition to the unfortunate new discovery of a knee bar mid-crux has lead me to believe that 14c is a more accurate suggestion. Colorado, and certainly Rifle, have a reputation for stiff grades that I feel I should uphold. Like I've mentioned previously, I think that the best thing we can do with grades is take them lightly, remain honest and strive to keep consistency within an area. To me, 'Kryptonite' remains the standard for 14d on the Western Slope and as much as I would have liked it to, Shadowboxing can not rival it's difficulty. Even at 14c, the route is still beautiful, burly and waiting for suitors - I'm definitely still psyched, are you?!*