posted by dpm on 01/13/2009
Kevin Jorgeson: Back from his Grit Trials and Offering Ambrosia to the World.
Interview by Anthony Lapomardo
Kevin Jorgeson is back from his trials on Grit in Burbage, England, and his affection for highballs has led him back to an open project on the large patina boulders in Bishop, California. While in Europe Kevin repeated many of the areas hardest, A.K.A scariest test pieces including Gaia (E8), Meshuga (E9), Parthian Shot (E9 6c), the Newstatesman (E8 7b). His trip did include a large fall that almost resulted in Jorgeson decking out, but he was unscathed from the incident and quickly completed the climb. When he returned to the states he quickly headed back out to the Buttermilks to work on the now completed Ambrosia V11, a spectacular overhanging face on the Grandpa Peabody boulder. The problem follows a sharp, technical V11 crimp line to a shallow hueco 20 feet off the deck, before launching into a 5.13 free solo. After he finished the line, Jorgeson still wasn't satisfied so he headed out to the newly climbed Luminance V11, and after sussing it on top rope, dispatched the new Shawn Diamond line on his second try. Kevin, who is normally quiet, took time out of his day to answer a few questions for Dead Point Magazine.
DPM: You have been pushing the limits on highballs constantly do you believe
that this area is your contribution to climbing? Every era has specialized
climbers, from Bachar, Kaulk, to Hill. Is the highball where you see your place?
Kevin: My inspiration for climbing lies purely in aesthetic lines and personal
progression. Having spent so much time in Bishop, it was only natural for me
to begin climbing taller and taller lines. I would say that my place is not
specifically or exclusively on highballs, but it is surely the discipline
that I have invested the most time in.
DPM: While in your Europe you tasted the "E" grade. Do you think that is a
standard that is adaptable and should be adapted to US bouldering?
Kevin: No, because only on a very small percentage of boulder problems does the
danger weigh heavily into experience. Even for the highballs, trying to
quantify these hybrid climbs is nearly impossible I think. In the end, the
grade is irrelevant.
DPM: Lately there are a lot of younger climbers working projects solely from the
ground up. Is there a "science" or method to the way you go into working a
Kevin: When working a first ascent project, inspection, cleaning, and rehearsal are
imperative to a safe and successful ascent. Once a climb has been
established, it is much easier to go ground up because you know it is
possible and that holds won't break. To quote Tim Steele referring to the
golden age of development in Bishop, "Once a problem has been done, the
doubt is erased...The impossible becomes real...The initial fears are
squelched...The adventure is lost."
DPM: What was the one thing you took away from the Grit over in England? You
took a fairly big fall, did that make you reexamine your passion for highball
projects or simply the way you go about climbing them?
Kevin: The one thing I took away from England was the mental preparation and psyche
necessary for Ambrosia. Falling off of Gaia just motivated me to do it more.
DPM: You make a reference to the grade of your new project offering it a
boulder grade and a roped grade? Do you see the possibility of dual grading
systems with respect to certain climbs, like the system found in Europe?
Kevin: I didn't give it two grades really, but rather broke it down to its two
logical parts. One is the really hard boulder problem and the other is
soloing at the top. As new climbs are developed that don't fit into previous
grading systems, I don't necessarily think they should, or even need to be,
graded. They just are.
DPM: Finally, you got to quickly nab the second ascent of Luminance V11 after
Shawn Diamond, how do the two problems compare as they are about the same
grade and possibly exposure?
Kevin: I had looked at the line a while back and wanted to do it after completing
what became Ambrosia. Shawn made a brilliant effort for the first ascent
just last week. Riding the high from completing Ambrosia, I went and top
roped the line twice and climbed it with one spotter and two pads later in
the day. I would say that Ambrosia is quite a bit harder and more committing
given the amount of time I put into working the moves and preparing for the
line. The poor landing below Luminance makes the moves feel a bit harder
than they are perhaps. The difference between the two is you DON'T want to
fall off the top of Luminance and you CAN'T fall off the top of Ambrosia.
Both are stellar lines.
Look for video footage of Kevin sending both lines in Big Up Production's upcoming movie, Progression