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."
Chip: 37 Earth years.
Chip: 72 kilos.
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?
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
FRB: You've lived in a lot of places, why Colorado?
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,
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?
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
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
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
FRB: What is your opinion on the bouldering
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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
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.