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Hello Hello Hello

Chip Phillips
 mid July, 2005

Chip Chip Chip Chip

FRB: Full Name?

Chip: My real name sounds really British and pretentious: Weldon P. Phillips, Jr. Almost all of my friends call me "Chipper." Most of my climbing friends call me "chuffer."

FRB: Age:?

Chip: 37 Earth years.

FRB: Weight:?

Chip: 72 kilos.

FRB: Height:?

Chip: 1.73 meters.

FRB: Ape Index:?

Chip: +13 cm ... Isn't it about time for the metric system to be adopted in the U.S.?

FRB: How did you get into climbing, Chipper?

Chip: When I was in college, I moved out to Aspen for the summers of 1989 & 1990 with a bunch of friends. We worked enough to pay for the summer fun, but to keep a very long story very short, we spent quite a bit of time up on Independence Pass in the area around the grottos and ice caves. Nothing remarkable, just scrambling, tooling around and exploring. Those times really turned me onto movement over the rock, the thrill and/or fear of falling and getting past that fear. When I returned to North Carolina State in Raleigh, it got goofier ... 2" swami belts and - I'm not kidding - hemp ropes, retaining wall traverses, overpasses, bridge trestles, etc. I couldn't make this stuff up. In retrospect, I'm honestly surprised we all survived those first couple months. Within a year or so, my friends and I all took beginner and intermediate rock climbing with Professor Aram Attarian at NC State. Aram was and still is an important figure in NC climbing and we were lucky to have him for a teacher. Road trips to the New River Gorge in West Virginia became a way of life for the rest of college and continued while I was in graduate school in Cleveland, Ohio. Eight years of road trips to the New. What a great place!!!

FRB: You've lived in a lot of places, why Colorado?

Chip: I grew up with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins in Colorado and my family frequently visited on ski vacations, etc. After spending 2 summers here in college, I knew I had to find a way to come back. Nevertheless, I got sidetracked by graduate school in Cleveland, Ohio and then law school in San Diego, CA. Right as law school was winding down, my 2 best climbing friends were in a horrific car accident a few minutes after leaving the New River Gorge on their way home. My friend Jay didn't make it and my friend Kevin broke 27 bones and it was touch and go as to whether or not he would. After a few surgeries, one involving the reconstruction of his arm and fusing of three vertebrae, he did and unbelievably climbed 5.12 and V5/6 again . With the joys of education finally were in the rear view mirror three months later, I packed up the U-Haul and moved here. I'd been putting off my dreams and trying to follow formulas for success. It was time to find my own way. It wasn't the smartest or easiest choice career wise, but it has all worked out and 6 years later I'm still very psyched to live and play in Colorado.

FRB: These days, where do you usually boulder?

Chip: There is no usual place, but there is a theme. High altitude in the summer, lower elevations in the winter. A few road trips mixed in ... Pretty much what a lot of other people are doing these days. The last couple years I've spent the majority of my climbing days between October and May in Poudre Canyon or in South Dakota. June through September, I've been trying to spend one big day every weekend somewhere around Mount Evans, but I hit some of the other higher altitude spots as well.

FRB: Who do you usually boulder with?

Chip: All of the guys I learned to climb with have either given it up or they live elsewhere. I'm pretty much willing to get out anywhere anytime with people that are psyched for long days and trying hard, whatever that means. These days, JJ, Scott Hahn, Marcelo Montalva, Chris Ticknor and Mark Pavol are guys that I get out with regularly. Others that I get out with from time to time include Bennett Scott, Jason Tarry, Scott Rennak, Charles Fryberger and Adam Mears. I also like go by myself from time to time. An occasional introspective day in the woods playing on rocks is quite therapeutic.

FRB: What is JJ really like?

Chip: He's the human energizer bunny, except the bunny now has a sense of humor. Seriously, JJ is who he's always been. There is no facade. He tells great, albeit very goofy, stories in-person and with his written words. He's a supportive friend and I'm really glad he stayed here in Colorado when he finished law school. He truly has good intentions and I've never known him to have ulterior motives. The guy would honestly give the shirt off his back if you needed it, just not the green shirt. For those who don't know him, keep you eyes open and get to know him if you get the chance. Besides, maybe he'll give you a discount on his legal services if you say nice things about him in your FRB interview.

FRB: Hardest sends?

Chip: Who told you I've done anything hard? Boy are you mixed up. I'm pretty sure most of my buddies and partners would give me credit for trying hard and using all the tricks in the book to send, but I have very little natural talent. I've done some things I'm relatively proud of, a couple things up on Flag, in Poudre Canyon, in the Black Hills, up at Mount Evans but nothing considered "hard" by today's standards and I've never been overly concerned about it. Since I hurt my forearm last fall, I haven't been on top of my game and the stupid thing just won't go pain free. I guess I'm just getting older. In spite of it, I'm still psyched and having fun!!!

FRB: So what does make you tick?

Chip: That is an interesting question that I'm still trying to figure out. I enjoy motivating people. Whether it's getting the crew to commit to a BIG day up in the mountains looking for new boulders or really trying something hard and/or scary. Even if I'm not getting out with a buddy of mine very often, I enjoy hearing their stories about how "the project" is going. I also enjoy exploring and getting out of the comfort zone. Exploring a canyon that has no official trail in it and may or may not even have any rock in is soooo much fun for me, EXCEPT when the bushwhacking gets out of hand and I'm wearing shorts ... ARGGGHHHH!!!

FRB: Your take on 8a.nu?

Chip: Look, there's lots of possible reasons someone might enter the problems they've sent into a database where anyone on the planet can go online and check it out. It is my opinion that 8a.nu is going to be a tremendous resource in the future. The database grows every day, although maybe only a 1/10th of the active climbers are tracking their problems. In the future, if you are going someplace new, check out what problems people are being climbed regularly at the area on 8a.nu and you already know something you didn't. Maybe you look at the grades, because you want some things that will challenge you, but maybe you don't. Nobody is going to convince me it is all spray, cause it isn't. My friends and I just have fun with it and we are certainly not looking for sponsors or notoriety. It lets you know what everyone did last weekend, even without talking. It's especially cool when one of your buds lists some problem that you are unaware of and you call or E-mail them with questions like "Where is that 1 star chosspile you listed on 8a? I heard you dabbed going for the flash. Invalid!!!" We just have fun with it.

FRB: Favorite all-time boulder problem?

Chip: So many problems, so little time. I really can't name a favorite, but for me a favorite would have to be UNFORGETTABLE, so here's a few from a few different areas that fit the bill:
Arthur's Rock: Mainstreet
Ape City: Simian Adventure
Big Elk Meadows: Dragon Fire Arete
Camp Dick: Uncle Dick Show
Carter Lake: Kahuna Roof
Cloud Nine: Locust Annihilator
Deadman's Gulch: May Cause Blindness
Eldorado Canyon: Germ Free Adolescent
Elysium: Doors of Perception
Flagstaff Mountain: The Great Escape
Horsetooth: Right Eliminator
Hueco Tanks: Slim Pickens
Iron Mountain: Ecstasy
Joshua Tree: Saturday Night Live
Millenium Block: Ghost Dance
Mount Evans: Timeline
Mount Holy Cross Wilderness: Red Man
Poudre Canyon: Hank's Lunge
Redcliff: The Battleship
RMNP: Thai Sticks
Old Baldy: Seul Avec Dieux
Sacred Cliffs: Crystal Groove
Satellite Boulders: Making Waves
Sylvan Lake: Center Yellow Wall
Skyland: Right El Skyland
Terrain Boulders: Tall Boy

FRB: You're working on a guide to Flagstaff.
          Tell us about it.

Chip: First off, any efforts on my part to put this guide together are merely a product of whatever obsessive-compulsive tendencies I may have. I like organization and the history of and in things. Pat Ament did a great job with his first couple editions of High Over Boulder to tell us what was happened up on Flagstaff back in late 50's, early 60's and 70's. Since then, nobody has truly documented what has gone down. It's so easy to just throw your hands up and say who knows? I hear that all the time from people. I have refused to do that so far. And if I had an Adobe Illustrator expert at my disposal, I feel like we could knock this thing out.

FRB: Do you think a new guide to Flagstaff
          is necessary?

Chip: No guidebook is necessary ... I get that. Nevertheless, guidebooks can be informative and make some people's enjoyment of a resource more enjoyable, particularly visitors to Boulder. When compiled together, all the prior guidebooks containing sections on Flagstaff describe maybe 325 problems on the mountain. The Flagstaff Mountain Bouldering Map & Guide will provide users with a full color fold-out 40" x 30" topo map and easy-to-use guide to approximately 700 problems, kind of like rockfax, but not entirely. I will provide users with FA information when it was reasonably discernible and hope that locals, old-timers and others with a sense of history about the mountain will submit corrections, suggestions and help fill in the gaps to make the FMBM&G even more comprehensive in future editions. This is not about money, although whenever someone says "it's not about the money," I always say "it's definitely about the money." In this case, however, it's really not. I probably didn't convince you, but if you see it one of these days selling for $5 and not $15, I hope you'll believe me.

FRB: What is your opinion on the bouldering
          in Colorado?

Chip: Honestly, I can't imagine living anywhere else. As we all know, it's good year-round. There are only a handful of days where you simply can't climb outdoors somewhere good, good being a fairly relative term, but anyway ... the variety is excellent, from slabby eggs to steep overhangs, The Front Range has it all. Granite can be found at all elevations, from the tight-grained granite of Poudre Canyon, to the lesser known stuff around Evergreen, the blocks up around Estes Park, Lyons and in the St. Vrain River Canyon, to the overhanging crimps of RMNP, to the alpine blocks found in the Mount Evans Wilderness and elsewhere. Even the pebbly-poo we have around Boulder (Flagstaff/Satellites/Terrains/Sacred Cliffs/Cloud Nine) is tons of fun, as is Eldorado sandstone and our beloved Morrison. Most of these can be great after work or during a short weekend session. I suppose my favorite rock in Colorado is the rock in Poudre Canyon, Redcliff and Guanella Pass, but I really enjoy the alpine settings, isolation and commitment level presented to us at Mount Evans and elsewhere. The consistently overhanging rock up at RMNP crushes me quickly, so I haven't spent the same amount of time up there. All that aside, it's only 10 hours to Hueco and 5 hours to one of my favorite haunts ... the Black Hills, so I'm very happy to live and play where I do.

FRB: What do you think about the bouldering
          in South Dakota?

Chip: Well, the diversity is not the same as The Front Range. Although they do have a sandstone area that is fun, it is limited. The rock at most, if not all, of the other areas is a fairly sharp crystalline granite, very similar to the boulders up at the base of Arthur's Rock in Lory State Park. Don't dismiss the place as choss - as we are so used to sharp rock being chossy here in Colorado. That is just not the case. The rock's sharpness is both a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing, because - once a problem has seen some traffic - everything (and I mean everything) is a fairly solid foothold. It's a curse, because you will be taping your tips by the end of your second day on, if not sooner. There are a some very user-friendly problems, but that is not the general rule. In other words, don't go climbing at Morrison to prepare for a trip to the Black Hills. Another plus is that there is rock everywhere. Most of the major zones of boulders have probably been found and developed, but LOTS of new problems go in every time I've been there and the locals like Veal Chop and Blake Workman, as well as the crews which frequently come in from Minnesota will be willing to show you around and tell you what they know. I've spent maybe 40 days there the last 2 years, many of which are some of my more memorable days bouldering. Some of it is just getting away, but a lot of it has to do with the free-spirited nature of the Black Hills. Camping is pretty much wide open. The food's decent and cheap if you like to eat out and there are plenty of things to do on rest or rainy days. I'm getting married there in a little over a year, so I hope I've bought myself a couple extra bouldering days up there between now and then. I can't wait to get back this fall.

FRB: Who is Veal Chop?

Chip: Veal chop is Dan Dewell, a really good guy who works and used to live 5 minutes outside Custer, SD. He now resides in Rapid City and commutes to work, but I wouldn't be surprised if he relocated to the Front Range in the next year or so. All he needs is a job here and I think he'll move to Colorado. He has quite a bit of bouldering footage from the Black Hills and he may piece together a movie one of these days. He also has all the beta for Old Baldy and Sylvan Lake, among other areas, so you want to call him if you are thinking about heading that way.

FRB: Where are the Aerials and do you have
          the GPS coordinates?

Chip: Similar to the Lincoln Lake boulders, the Aerials are in the drainage on south side of the Mount Evans Scenic Byway, but several more miles up the road. One look at the drop in from 12,500 feet will make most boulderers turn and run. Most others will do the hike out once and probably never go back. Although I barely survived the hike out the first time (I'm not kidding), I think it's because we hiked in and out in the same day. When you go for the weekend, the hike out seems much more tolerable.

FRB: Where else are the new sweet alpine blocks?

Chip: There are some places with potential. Of course, I'm not going to divulge much. Alpine Wilderness Areas are good places to start looking if you are into that kind of thing.

FRB: What do you do for a living, Chipper?

Chip: I have a title insurance agency. You know, that's the company you go to when you purchase a home or refinance your mortgage(s).

FRB: What else do you do besides climb, work
          and chase women?

Chip: Easy there Mike! There is no chasing of women and there hasn't been for several years. After 4 1/2 years, I just got engaged to my longtime girlfriend Jen. Jen and I like to run and ride bikes occasionally. I also like to get her to just go explore places, all the while keeping my eyes peeled for boulders (Amy and JJ call call this "rockshopping"). Finally, I started bird watching about a year ago and I'm having fun with it. At last count, I'm at 120+ species. Not a bad first year.

FRB: What are your short-term goals?

Chip: I'm assuming you mean climbing goals ... not sure I have anything too big planned. I've got a busy year ahead of me. Selling condo/moving/buying house/getting married in Black Hills/etc. My plate is pretty full. I guess I'd really like to get my forearm 100% healthy and finish Just Right once and for all. I'd also like put the finishing touches on the Flagstaff Mountain Bouldering Map & Guide. I'm so close. One of these days, all of these things will come together. I suppose I have lots of other projects, but none that I've got more invested in than those three things.

FRB: Long-term goals?

Chip: Be a good friend to those close to me. Remain healthy and happy. Enjoy life.

FRB: Thanks for the interview, Chipper.

Chip: My pleasure.


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