Jason Kehl has been climbing for over 13 years and an artist for just as long. Climbing has always been a good creative outlet and his vagabond lifestyle and penchant for danger have fueled his adventures over the years. Jason's evolvement in the climbing world reflects theses ideas and he is willing to share them with whoever is willing to listen.
A pro climber that has been living on the road for the past 10 years, Jason always seems to find adventure. His highballing escapades have been well documented, including some amazing first ascents like- Evilution in Bishop, Ca and becoming the first person to solo 5.14d with his boulder ascent of The Fly in Rumney New Hampshire. You can also see what he is up to via his website www.cryptochild.com.
Last winter I took two very interesting trips: Alaska and Hawaii. They’re pretty much polar opposites. I really never thought I would make it to either of these places, let alone both of them back to back. I was excited for some contrast in my life.
I was invited by the Alaskan Rock Gym to do a slideshow with Angie Payne dubbed "Beauty and the Beast" and as long as Angie didn't mind being called a beast, I was down. The Hawaii situation was a little different. I got a call from my good friend Justin Ridgely, owner of the Volcanic Rock Gym, saying he had some amazing first ascents waiting. After checking some Facebook pics he had posted, I was easily convinced.
I think the high in Anchorage was 10. While there, I kept an eye on the island weather also, which was about 85 every day. I'm a boulderer so I like it cold, but not this cold, and Hawaii's conditions sounded more like a sauna then sending temps. I needed to do some serious adapting if I was going to make this work. There was some talk of going ice climbing, which I had never done before, and it sounded like something to do. We hiked out about 30 minutes through snow and slippery river crossings and walked over ice that was cracking under our feet the whole time. Tanya and Todd, two local guides, were nice enough to take us out and show us the ropes. Angie had been before but this was all new to me. The strangest thing I found about ice climbing was that you’re so detached from the wall. Unlike bouldering where you must feel every small crystal with your fingers just to hold on, with ice climbing there is a layer of metal tools between you and the wall. Normally, when I climb, I carefully place my foot on the foot hold. That day I was kicking the shit out of the wall.
We survived the outing and I didn't fall down a crevasse. I did get wicked pumped and hoped that it would go away by the time I got to Hawaii. That night I talked to Justin and he said the conditions were getting better and the threat of swells along the beach was calming down. Water is a powerful element. In Alaska I was worried about it melting and cracking all around us, but what I was about to experience sounded even more dangerous, because it was constantly moving. Angie and I finished up the week, setting for their 8th annual" No Strings Attached" bouldering comp and doing a couple of clinics. The Barcom family was nice enough to share their home with us and they made for an awesome trip to the great white north.
The next day I got on a plane and zipped down to the Island of Oahu. As soon as I got off the plane the humidity hit me like a wall. Justin picked us up from the airport with the classic Hawaiian leis in hand. We went back to his house and ate cubes of raw dead fish that they call Poke. That evening Abbey Smith and Caroline Treadway arrived to join me on this adventure. I think my fingers were still numb from Alaska, but now my whole body was starting to sweat. Justin had been telling us about this beautiful arch right next to the ocean with a bunch of undone lines. The next day we went and checked it out. We were all very impressed with the potential and the quality of the rock. I had always heard that there wasn’t that much climbing in Hawaii and that there was nothing hard. We have 10 days left here and I’m pretty sure we're going to disprove that theory.