Hello
Home

Clear Creek
More Clear

Eldorado Canyon
West World
West Ridge
Cloud 9
Rincon Boulders
Physical Boulders
The FreightTrain
DamNation

The FlatIrons
Elephant Rock
Terrain Boulders
The Ghetto
Satellite Boulders
The Gutter

Boulder Canyon
Dome Boulder
The Patio
The Strip Mine
The Clock Tower

Button Rocks
Lion's Den

Big Elk
Main Area
Dragon's Den

Reads
Articles
Short Stories
Message Board

Miscellaneous
Slide Show
Photographs
Animated Beta
Humor
Archives
Local Weather
Links
Submit an Area
Contact Us

Hello Hello Hello

Jim Garber
July, 2002

Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim


FRB: You are very well known in the Front Range
          climbing world but some folks might not have
          heard of you. Who is Jim Garber?

Jim: Well, if you were having an interview with Jim Marlboro, then you probably would be talking with a Marlboro man but this interview is with Jim Garber so youíre nattering with a nerd. Jim has distinctive stick-out ears. He didnít have eyes until about 4 months ago. His substitute was seriously thick pop bottle glasses (he has really cute hazel eyes, ladies). He is skinny (wishes he were skinnier Ė typical climber!) like most geeks and get this guys: he often wears a nerd pen!!! (For those of you not familiar with the Ďnerd pení, which includes most illiterate Ďpeopleí in the world, it is a multicolored click pen, best worn in a pocket protector). He is 51 years of age, which is an age he didnít even expect to get to, being pretty uncoordinated (and weíre not just talking clothes, he keeps it pretty simple Ė shapeless baggy black shorts and white tee shirt (ďEat at FredísĒ as in Fred Knappís on the front, pretty rad, huh?)). Now that heís there, heís really horrified because he climbs even slower than he used to, which everyone thought was impossible without going back in time. On the other hand, heís the fiancť of the foxiest hone puppy in Boulder, Devorah, so actually life is pretty dang good. He is a science teacher who is completely fascinated with Astronomy and astrophysical questions such as does the universe exist when we are not observing it? (The climbing analogy is: do those juicy boulders in the Flatiron forests exist when weíre not crawling all over them?). Jim loves to scare the hell out of the squirrels when they try to raid his bird feeders (he just paused from typing this diatribe to do just that). Jim loves little songbirds and patiently refills their feeders and cleans and fills their birdbath every day. Thatís Jimís idea of an ideal pet. Put out the food and water and they take care of themselves! Jim (like the fair maiden Devorah, you will hear about Devorah a lot) is a readaholic. This may sound good but is actually pretty pathetic. Do you know whatís the highlight of a King Soopers food shopping (do you really want to know?)? Devorah and Jim get in the checkout line and find a Weekly World Tabloid. Then they flip through it reading the headlines! Our favorite is ďMermaid Found In Sardine Can!Ē They are hysterical! All the other shoppers grab their kids and edge away as we giggle over this trash! But we canít help it. Weíre genetically incapable of staying in one place for long without grabbing something to read, even if it includes such side affects as brain damage (Donít worry, we never buy these rags. First, we never remember to bring the plain brown wrappers, and secondly, Jim only has enough allowance to buy one trash periodical per month so itís got to be a climbing mag Ė ah, the slander, wouldnít miss out on that!). Jim likes current history. He loves the editorialist Paul Krugman, of the New York Times because he creates so much continuity of events leading up to what is topical news. Jim has seen a scarlet tanager three times (all three with the sharp eyed Devorah)! Jim legally died by drowning in his teens! Jim tries to tell everybody who will listen that when he goes bouldering at HorseTooth Reservoir he dumps his static climbing style and dynoes for everything in sight, but no one believes him (you wouldnít either if you saw him climbing). Jim believes in World Peace (Mike says this will help me win the beauty contest). Jim loves to ride his StumpJumper when he isnít busy doing supermanís off it and breaking ribs. Jim has broken enough ankles to know the ground doesnít lie but he Count Zeroes too often to remember, and oops, there he goes again folks, letís just get him in the car and take him down to Boulder Community. Jim snapped a potato chip off on Flagstaffís Great Ridge, landed on a spike and cracked his back (damage to the Common Sense nerve Ė not good, he didnít have a lot to start) and he keeps on coming back for more! Jim loves his fellow climbers, until they climb better than him. Jim thinks Sportiva Katanaís are the hottest thing since sliced bread (he likes standing on dimes in slippers) but wishes they would stop putting that greasy kid stuff on the bottom and spare Jim a trip to Rock and Resole by putting C4 on to start! Jim has way too much spare time. And the fair maiden Devorah has just come back. See ya later.

FRB: How did you get into climbing Jim?

Jim: In the summer of 1970 my parents moved west from Cleveland, Ohio (eventually) to Phoenix, Arizona. I transferred from University of Pittsburgh. I applied to Berkeley, another little school in Oregon and my Ďsafeí school, University of Colorado. The other schools expected an essay and mine was a radical indictment of certain going onís of the time. Iím sure the transfer offices at the two west coast colleges saw that and made the wise choice to decline another troublemaker and pitched my application straight at the waste paper basket. So I ended up here. My parents drove me up from Santa Fe and I have a distinct memory of coming up over the hill on I-36 and seeing the Flatirons. I had never seen things like them in my entire life. Next day was orientation at CU. It was the usual suspects sort of thing except for one thing the provost said: ďNow most of you will have no trouble transferring your credits but for those of you who majored in Mortuary Science at Pawntucket Subnormal, things might be different! (Well, it seemed pretty funny at the time). Then we were out and free for the rest of the day, and I was into the Flatirons like a shot! We wandered here and there and I was absolutely boggled. At one point we stopped at the base of the Third Flatiron. There were people on it but way up, barely visible. One of my friends said he had done this before, he was going to climb up to those people, come done the back side and that we should meet him there. Then he proceeded to disappear! He moved into that face and just disappeared! We hiked around back and there he was coming down a rope! This was highly magical. It had to be checked out. Not long afterwards, some friends and I were taken out to the Green Mountain Amphitheater by a climber named Steve. With a toprope, my friends zipped up and down the inside East Face until it was my turn and then time slowed almost to a halt. Itís only 5.4 but it seemed so difficult and it took forever, and that was just the face to the overhang! At the overhang, I got stopped, but I wouldnít stop trying and I wouldnít let go. My friends were bellyaching that I was taking forever and just let go and come down, but I wouldnít give up and eventually after a century or two, I did it! I thought ďAnything this hard that I can do, Iím gonna keep doing".

FRB: You've climbed a long time,
          what keeps you going?

Jim: What do mean, a long time? You tryin to say Iím old? Letís just step around back for a minute, Mike!!! Iíve climbed about 32 out of 51 years, which I used to be insanely proud of, but now merely dates me. Hereís the answer to what keeps me going: It feels really damn good. Itís pure animal. Iím one of those New World primates who just loves to go up! It just feels great. Iím not trying to prove myself to myself or to anyone else (any more). Iím not trying to see if I have the guts, Ďwhat it takesí. When I was young I had a triple level treehouse in a nearby grove. We even made a circle of bramble bushes around it to keep girls out (as if they wanted in). We went up, down and up. Iím still doing it (the only prickly element is my oh so sweet personality) but on rocks. My all time favorite mode is still toproping. Then I donít have to worry about anything, just have fun and climb. Itís very innocent and childlike. Do I ever get sick of it? Yes! Then I go do something else. Thatís part of the secret of not burning out on such a marvelous thing. You have to be aware of when it starts feeling stale or like work. Then look it in the face and accept it and go do something else. The alternative is to think you have to keep doing it or else you will become less of a man or woman, or you will get out of shape or any number of rationalizations that will lead to burnout. And thatís a damn pity because the act of climbing is lots of fun and I know a lot of people that lost a sense of that and lost climbing and they and we are the worse for the loss of them in our not so little community. The truth of it is that if you step away from it before burnout, when you climb back in, you come back with terrific excitement and you end up better! In the meantime, you become a better person by becoming more rounded, less one dimensional because chances are you are the sort of person who has the spark and inner push that always keeps you busy and exploring. When I donít climb, I bike, hike in my beloved Flatirons, devour books (try not to take that literally), and chase the fair Devorah around the house. When I come back to climbing it seems so new and scintillating. So donít worry about coming back, worry about hanging on too long. Yaíll be back! Another danger is if you make climbing your work, literally! Like a moths to a flame, you get to be part of the world of climbing all the time and deflect the more mundane normal world. But thereís a terrific danger that climbing will begin feeling like work and for some, it begins to feel muddied, like work. This does not happen to everybody. There are those who retain the excitement and you know people like that. But there are the others for whom climbing is just a way to stay out of the mainstream. They have lost their way. Right now, itís a blast, something I love to share with Devorah and the sweet friends we run into. As soon as it feels like work, Devorah and I will talk it over and find something else fun to do, like go the Boulder Book Store or Mt. Lady Washington. ďIíll be back!Ē (Terminator I).

FRB: Who were some of your early mentors?

Jim: I have climbed with many people that taught me a great deal. And I have climbed with many people that meant a lot to me. But I have never had a mentor. My relationship with the rock and the outdoor world has always been too personal and direct. No one has ever been able to get in between. I deeply appreciate what others have given me and sometimes that has meant saving my sorry ass when I got into beaucoup trouble (Thank you so much Mike Freeman, for being my big brother that one day in Rifle when my ankle and my morale went so south. I will never forget that). But my mentor is the rock and the spirit in the Earth.

FRB: Who were some of your
         early climbing partners?

Jim: Wow! For a guy with Alzheimerís, youíre asking a lot! Thatís going back to 1970! So Iíll make up some true lies. We had advanced to the lofty level of top-roping 5.6. Whoa! And this old (I was 19 and he was in his early 30ís, so he seemed pretty old. I just wish I could go back to being that Ďpretty oldí now!) Seattle mountaineer type asked if I wanted to learn how to lead. Everybody was using pins back then but he decided he would use me in an experiment. We (me, my friends, old Seattle mountaineer type, Jimmy Page, etc.) roped up at the base of a 5.2 on the second Elephant Buttress in Boulder Canyon. Now you may note that there arenít any 5.2ís on the second Elephant Buttress. Thatís how obscure and lame this route was. But it was perfect for a first lead. Old Seattle mountaineer type handed me a rack full of chocks. I had only the most rudimentary idea of what to do with them but I set out and started plugging them in as I climbed. And hereís the amazing part of this otherwise mediocre passage. He soloed along, just underneath me, plucking out my nuts (ouch!) and replaced them so they might actually hold! A fall on my part would have swept him right off the Buttress. And for that (I donít remember his name) I thank him very much. Eventually I worked my way up to leading 5.6, even in Rocky Mountain National Park. The sad part is, when I began to lead 5.7, he became envious and would no longer climb with me. So I moved on. Ever notice how, except for the gym, that youíre never climbing with the people you socialize with best? Youíre with the people who are at the same level of climbing. You change a rating or two and you get a whole new group of friends and the old group calves off like a glacier ice cliff falling into an ocean bay and drifting away. Is this where I get to chat up those I like and slander all the others? Iím gonna go for it! Letís start with Victor Creazzi. A former Gunky. Letís date him seventies. Very powerful and very jovial and giving. Too giving. Hot Henry Barber stayed at his house one summer and all Victor got back was ridicule. I would have tossed him out on his ass but Victor is so forgiving that he put up with it. Man, could Victor crank. Heís gunning for the lip on Smithís Overhang and he just all out fires for it. He doesnít stick and his buttís on the floor. Is he bummed? No way. He looks at his palm and thereís a big old squashed fly all over it! He beams with pride. Thatís how hard he would go for it. He would nail flies munching on all the flesh losers left on the lip. He wasnít disappointed. He was proud of his fly and producing huge belly laughs at the irony. Victor saw the brighter side and lives in it. Wendell Nuss. Heís now a professor of oceanography at the Naval Oceanographic Institute in Santa Barbara. He was my main climbing partner and dear friend for what seems like forever but was just the late seventies. He was very skinny and very, very tall and hardly had a muscle in his body. But he had dazzling feetwork, steel fingers and a calm mind under pressure. He would coolly work his way up Eldo desperates with plenty of mind control to spare! And he was a true friend. We could and would talk so openly to each other about relationships with the opposite sex. We were princes of Eldorado but we struggled to understand women. As we attempted to grow up, we tried to help each other. Wendell, thank you for that sweet friendship. I will never forget, and I will take wisdom I learned with you and try making all parts of my life flourish. David Spyrer. David is amazingly strong. This is how strong David is (and those who know me will gasp). David is so strong that after being my only climbing partner for many years, he still has resisted the dark side and does not climb slow like me! Now thatís strong! Do you see a thread here? Letís face it. Iíve been around an awful long time. And I do not impress easily. Hereís what impresses me. People who are both great climbers and great people. David is both. He redpoints solid 5.13. He cranks V10. He is a brilliant game writer. He is a considerate and thoughtful friend. He saw my idiosyncrasies and either accepted them or slowly helped me to be aware of them. Isnít that what we all are looking for, someone who accepts us as we are? If you know him, you are blessed. If you donít, introduce yourself. Besides, he taught me to drop knee! Oh, but wait a minute, thereís got to be a David story. Since we solely sport climb, how epical can it get? Howís this: All summer we hammered one 12d after another until we thought we were ready for Rifle. Then we jumped in. One brutal route after another. Victory? More like the descent of man! We finished trashing ourselves at just the right place for a warm down, the Arsenal! It was pathetic. We were beyond hammered all the way to no sentience. We wobbled back to the car, fired it up and in front of most of the best climbers in Colorado, backed over our Coleman stove! Crunch! Can I give you my short list of climbers that impress me? It starts with Robyn Erbesfeld. Everybody knows what sheís done. She is also the best climbing teacher going. She always has a smile and is supportive. Iíll bet she is a great mom. It ends with Adam Stack. On a rope he is a fearless demon. Off a rope he is warm to whoever is nice to him. You get the feeling that Adam would never say a mean thing behind your back, would never be aloof or arrogant. In this tough world, these are impressive people.

FRB: You must have had many interesting
         adventures, can you share some of them
         with us?

Jim: OK, here we go (you accrue lots of adventure memories over 32 years of climbing). -We solo up terrifying, mungy gullies one after another to get to the base of the 5th class climbing on the Sentinel in Yosemite. Then my partners chicken out after two pitches. So then we have to solo down the same mungy gullies hundreds of feet off the valley floor with huge packs on our backs! I was one cool cucumber in those days but I still remember how scared I was on that descent -One cold fall morning we are roping up at the base of T2 in Eldo. I start heel hooking up the initial overhang when with an audible pop, my hamstring blows. John Freeman is so frightened he reaches up and plucks me out of thin air, suspends me there and finally sets me down on the ground. -Iím dragging poor Eric Vogelsberg up the Yellow Spur in Eldo. Near the top one evil black storm approaches, replete with licks of lightning all around. Iíve always made my partners stand on top of T1, do Tarzan yells and beat their chests. Do I show sensitivity and desist? Hell no! He stood on that thing and loved it (he and I were terrified, but some traditions must be honored)! -Iím toproping Evictor on Rincon. Iím the last one up so I do the rope-anchor-rope to clean out for the last lower. I lean back and realize Iím attached to nothing. I never passed the rope through the anchor! That was the most intense dyno I ever performed for the bolts. And it was successful. Otherwise, I wouldnít be writing this. -Be really careful on climbs with names like ĎCoronerís Inquestí (Windy Point, Mt Lemmon, Tucson). Pete Nobels tried it but had a funny feeling. I tied in but as I ascended to the high point, I did not reset the nuts. In the middle of the crux I placed a perfect nut, pulled up rope to clip and came off with the rope almost in the biner. I heard/felt one pop after another. I had time to think it out and realize I was dead as a doornail. Pete saw I was truly headed for the ground, dropped the belay and ran forward to cradle my head before it hit the deck, too. Something snagged and with rope stretch, I just broke both ankles. I was so disgusted, I told Pete to grab my pack too and I would meet him at the car. And I walked out on those two broken ankles. And I quit climbing. -How about uncontrollably shivering my way for hours up Wunchís Dihedral in the Platt because that dweeb Noel Childs wouldnít bring enough clothes. Watch out sport fans. When the sun swings around and out of the dihedral, it gets cold. I didnít stop shivering until just before reaching the car. I lost five pounds in one day. -Itís about 1971 or 2. Itís my first time on Flagstaff. Itís my first time bouldering! Iím at Beer Barrel and this 10 foot tall skinny guy with a one of those cute but goofy cycling caps on backwards followed by a short red haired fella with an equally goofy looking cycling cap come whipping around the corner. I asked where was the bouldering. Tall guy points to the middle of the south face and I zip up that. He encourages me to try the southwest corner overhang and I make short work of that. Tall guy says, ďSo you think youíre pretty good, huh?Ē and I confidently replied, ďYepĒ. So he sicced me on the Poling Pebble Problem. That one didnít take long, just fifteen years. Tall guy is Jim Halloway and Red hair is Jim Michaels. I spent many a marvelous evening session on Flag with them, ending up on the Great Ridge near King Conqueror in darkness, overlooking the twinkling night-lights of Boulder. We still run into Jim M at the gym or Flag, but itís been decades since Iíve seen Jim H. And I miss him. -Had enough? No. Please, one more. Iíll do anything! Anything? Yes, you name it. Oh, OK, here goes. Itís about 1972, and Andy Zyler (fated to later become mayor of Nederland) and I are at the Gregory Canyon Amphitheatre at the base of the Direct North Face. If I were to stand in the same spot today, I would look up and say, ďNow that is one impressive choss pile.Ē and walk away. Back then, I substituted a guide book for nonexistent judgment. I started up. The rock was awful (which was plain as day from the ground) and the protection was 100% absent (which was also readily apparent from the ground). I really struggled, couldnít back down and finally made a sizeable ledge about 25-30 feet up. Nothing in. My hands just happened to be resting on a big hold in front of me. All of a sudden Iím hanging from that hold! The ledge just up and took off, and almost killed Andy! Using the positive power of panic, I swam up to where I could get a little bit of gear and finish that piece of junk. Close one! Andy loved off widths and chimneys (bad childhood). Whenever he saw one, he would go stick himself in it. Thus was born the Zyler Sandwich Ė a layer of rock, a layer of Andy and a layer of rock!

FRB: What was the most meaningful climbs
          of your career?

Jim: Jules Verne, and nothing is a close second. When I was a trad, which was between 1970 and 1982, I had strong fingers, a cool mind and little in the way of big, main muscles. As a result, I was usually to be found on climbs that got their rating for being scary, not strenuous. For climbers of my generation, there were two defining ascents Ė the Naked Edge and Jules Verne. It took me a long time to iron out the pitch after pitch differing difficulties of the Edge (and coming up to that climbís demands made me a more rounded climber). Jules Verne was personal. It was my type of situation Ė vertical tiny complex holds and fairly runout. On my first date with Jules, Chip Rockgraber was late (do you really want to be out on that runout in the hot sun?) and he forgot the rope. We blasted out to Eldo, but wait a minute, ďWhereís the fire?Ē asked the traffic cop, and I got a speeding ticket. In Eldo I was able to borrow a rope from Richard Rossiter, but he made it plain that it was old and would not hold any sort of big fall. Still, we went up there. I nutted my way up that mini-dihedral on the big fourth pitch, clipped the fixed wire and stepped up onto the face above. It was blast furnace hot. My mind was distracted and not calm. This was not my day for this special climb. I downclimbed to the fixed nut and lowered off. For the next year I ate, drank and slept Jules Verne. I developed the necessary respect and reverence for this climb. I came to understand what it asked for in me and I deeply prepared physically, mentally and spiritually. One fall evening in 1979, Paul Meyers and I climbed back up to that fourth pitch, following the rising line of shade/sun. I wanted the frictions to be perfect. I knew when I should be there. I knew I belonged there. Once I launched out onto the face, I entered into a state of no duality between myself and the rock. I touched human perfection for a fleeting few minutes. It took years to develop any memories, any mental picture of what occurred up there. That Jules Verne strength is in me forever. A few times in my life, on Big Rock Candy Mountain and in Israel I have called upon the strength and it has been there. Many experiences and sides to me have been added on in the subsequent decades and I donít have that cool for the runouts any more but Jules Verne is still in me, and always will be.

FRB: Why bouldering instead of trad or
          Sport climbing?

Jim: I trad climbed between 1970 and 1981-2. I went deeply into the experience and have both extraordinary and regretful memories. I went too deeply into it and it took a divorce to make me realize that. While I trad climbed, the rest of my life could not move forward. Not career and not relationships. Other people can do it, find the balance. I could not. I felt that I had to put so much physical, mental and sometimes even spiritual preparation into dangerous Eldo climbs that there was no time or energy left for a meaningful job or lasting love. I met so many wonderful and beautiful women in those years and they offered me so much but I was utterly unaware of what was being offered until it was too late and it was gone. I would be crushed and not understand what had happened and why things had fallen apart. I was truly clueless but after that divorce I made a list of the Eldo climbs I had always wanted to do and marched through that list from top to bottom. At the end was the Wisdom. I called it Ďcompletioní. When it was ascended, I was done with trad. I think that was end of summer, 1982. Aside from a few big South Platt routes with Noel Childs, I never went back. I became a cyclist, toproper and boulder. I was very happy with just those. They provided terrific fun and each day when I was done, I went home and put them out of my mind. They didnít provide any significant danger so I wasnít robbing any relationship time mentally preparing for them. I was Ďin the presentí in my relationships and I did much better in them. This went on for six or seven years until in 1988, Jack Roberts took me to Bear Canyon in the Flatirons to hold his rope for him. He went about three quarter of the way up this climb and then got stopped. What was amazing was that he didnít get in a bunch of trouble and get hurt. There was a bolt (and a good one!) close to the crux. In fact, there were lots of bolts, spread throughout the climb. I thought to myself, ďThis is not dangerous at all, I wouldnít have to spend all my free time psyching myself up for a pitch. It kinda looks like a lot of fun! So I started leading again. Believe you me, if bolts hadnít sprouted all over the place, I would have been more than content to be Ďjustí a boulderer. Now a days, Devorah and I rope climb in the summers when itís too hot to boulder, rope climb indoors on snowy winter days (or Morrison it on cool, sunny days), and boulder during the springs and falls. So thereís a lot of change ups. Variety is the spice of life. However, many people trad climb and get tremendous satisfaction from it. It really is extraordinary to look back down a pitch you both have just done and see nothing but bare rock (and lots of chalk!). Sometimes you look down and itís a long way to the bottom, which is rare on sport climbs or in bouldering. Trad climbing is great for getting way off the ground and way up in the air and the only thing better than that is on top of a mountain, which is a whole different ball game (one that I suck at). So they are all very good but this is what has shaped my choices.

FRB: How is climbing like a sine wave?

Jim: We get happy, then we get sad. We laugh, we cry. We feel strong, then we feel weak. A young man feels old, an old man feels young at heart. Nothing of consequence in life stays steady. It goes up, down and repeats the cycle. What does this have to do with climbing? I believe climbing oscillates between satisfaction and fun. You have a climb you want to do. Itís really hard for you, youíre not even sure you can do it. Maybe youíre even frustrated with it. But something keeps driving you to try, to not give up. And finally it comes, you get it. You get a lot of satisfaction, even though the process may not have been a whole lot of fun. Commonly called a project, you take on another, and maybe another after that. One day you notice that youíre not having a ton of fun. You change course and do easier climbs and more in a day than when you were projecting. Youíre having fun. Not a lot of satisfaction, because the outcome of each climb is much less in doubt and demands much less of your soul. This goes on for a while until one day something starts bugging you, some dig in your heart, some spark in your climber soul. Youíre slackiní! Youíre sliddiní! Youíre unsatisfied and enough of this easy stuff! Youíve either noticed something thatís enticing but will take considerable effort, and you still might not get it, or you need to get out there and just plain find a project. So you dive into it and itís much less easy fun and much more tough fun, and maybe kind of uncertain. You have jumped back to Ďsatisfactioní and moved away from fun. Something about us restless human beings forces us out of complacency and fun mode and makes us push into adventure, difficulty and maybe into danger. But we donít stay in that mode. Almost all of us eventually need time away from the ďNo FearĒ, absolute screaming max, most intense headspace. But climbing is a blast, so we keep climbing while temporarily backing away from the Ďhardestí. This is obvious, isnít it? Yes to our heads, but no to our heart and our emotions. We need to be aware of this, consciously. Because we all know those who arenít. They are the burnouts, the ones who pushed like the maniacs they are until, ignoring the eventual signs that although itís been awfully satisfying, itís not been much fun lately. Itís faded into all the same thing and itís lost itís specialness. And then they up and quit. Donít kid yourself dear reader. That moment comes to every climber. And then you get the choice. You can say to yourself, ďI have to stay at my max or I wonít be able to climb hard any more.Ē, and you will burnout. Or you can be aware that life and climbing is a sine wave, that you will be there one day again, hot and on top, and go find some easier and fun climbs to do. Or go for a run, be a runner for a while. Or be a skateboarder for a while. Or (this is scary!) notice that other person next to you who has loved you for so long and is wondering if you will ever notice them. Make them your project! Donít worry, donít try to hold on to the hard climbing too long. Youíll be back, stronger and more full of piss and vinegar than ever! Because life is a sine wave.

FRB: Do you have any 'heroes' that
         you look up to for inspiration.

Jim: These are my heroes: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. They stood for something greater than themselves. They helped people to believe in themselves. They stood for good. One realized he would not make it with us. And he still kept going, for us. With their inspiration, I have searched for meaning for my life and that meaning has to include service, to wife, to community and to country. And one of the aspects of Ďcommunityí is our climbing community. There is one more person. He is not a hero, but his example inspires me. Thatís David Spyrer. He tries to integrate climbing, relationships and professional life. He does such a good job with such style and warmth that I try to emulate him. Wish you were here.

FRB: Do you have any favorite problems
          or ones that you thought were incredible?

Jim: -Flagstaff: Poling Pocket Problem, The Varney and Right Side, Face Out, King Conqueror, Sandpaper Ledges, Haganís, The Consideration (ďIím scared, Iím gonna jump.Ē ďOh, he considered!Ē), Iron Cross Traverse, Smithís before people who weigh too much got on it and ripped off all the holds.
-Fort Collins: any Eliminator (do the left static, go ahead!), any Mental Block problem, any Penny Ante problem
-Morrison: Air Lupus, The Occasionalist, Lifeís About Fucking, Nork, Some Biceps are Bigger Than Others, Willowís Wort, Make My Day, Breashearís and the Wisdom, Chasing Pennies, Inchworms and Flies.

FRB: Where are some of your favorite
          places to climb/boulder?

Jim: Let me tell you all about a serious social disease called Maple Envy. The symptom is: no matter where you are, you would rather be in Maple. As in Maple Canyon, Utah. First, the camping is great and easy. Second, the canyon is beautiful with all sorts of misshapen and fascinating cliffs. The green stuff is a mix of coniferous and deciduous trees with all the wildlife common to both, which means it has an amazing variety of birds. Finally, the climbing is mind-boggling overhanging cobbles with lots of bolts, so raging pumps are in and finger tendonitis is out. The fun factor (from 1 to 10) is about a 20. When you get home and go climbing, youíre always comparing it to Maple. Iím not lying, Devorah and I are not the only couple to have serious Maple Envy. Ask Howard and Kate, or Kenny and Marsha.

FRB: Where do you boulder at these days?

Jim: Where ever I can talk Devorah into going bouldering. Thatís one of those relationship things. Devorah must be comfortable and having fun and thatís pretty important to me. Maybe Iím maturing in spite of myself! I would love to explore new places but they must have enough moderates and non-highballs, for both of us really! Spring and fall is Flagstaff Ė fingery and so beautiful. Winter is Morrison Ė warm, brutal, exotic movement and ugly. When Devorah is ready, Iím dying to take her to Horsetooth. I bouldered there exclusively for three years in the 80ís, usually with Mark Milligan, who is a strong as a gorilla, but much friendlier, and at least a little prettier.

FRB: How can what you get out of climbing,
          translate into the rest of life?

Jim: Most of us can easily think up traits we develop in climbing that apply to real life, like focus, determination and endurance. Let me discuss one more, and this also applies to question number 17, which I left unanswered so I could bag 2 questions with one answer and keep positive. Climbing is steadily becoming mainstream. In a way I like this because it is more and more filled with socially adept, nice normal people instead of social inadepts like me and most of my climbing generation. So most of us get along much better and are much more supportive of each other. But letís face it, itís getting crowded, both at the base of boulders and roped climbs. From time to time this results in a little friction, tension and occasional bad manners. So we have a problem. And we are a larger user group so we come into conflict with more user groups, private land owners and public land managers. Hereís the point Iím inching toward. How we handle these conflicts with each other and with non-climbers is a critical and comparatively easy warmup lesson to how we handle much larger conflicts in the rest of our lives, as mates in relationships, in the workplace, in our cities and towns where we live, in our country at the national level and even on our planet on an international level. And Iím positive that we climbers will successfully handle these conflicts, will rise up and deal with these difficulties and in the process learn wisdoms and skills that we can take into larger arenas such as race relations and the impact of change in a modern world. We even can make an impact in the world as a whole using what we have learned in conflict resolution and compromise. And have no illusions. This world is faced by terrific conflicts that are seemingly insurmountable. But I have faith in people and humanity that we will face these problems and work them out. And the skills we develop to figure out the solutions to our comparatively little climbing conflicts will help to see us through much more challenging but critical venues.

FRB: What direction or trend would you
          like to see in climbing
?

Jim: The trend I want to see is happening now. Climbers are much more supportive of each other. In the old days, we watched to see if anybody failed. ďGot the nuts in the pitch but couldnít finish it? I just canít wait to tie in and finish it up and get the glory!Ē We were always like that but never honest enough to admit this was us. Now a days, people are honestly supportive of each others efforts. Perhaps this is because climbing attracts more mainstream personalities that are used to competition and honesty, who donít hide who they are and who are really excited about others goals and efforts.

FRB: Bouldering is popular right now.
          What prompted it?

Jim: I think two things have propelled bouldering to its present popularity. The first is one us intelligence-challenged oldsters should have figured a long time ago. Pads. Bouldering used to be basically a no-falls activity, sort of like scary trad climbing. Falling meant: bruised heels (and this could build up to significant feet problems over time), sprained ankles, broken ankles, broken wrists or, if you landed on your head Ė more intelligence (since most of us could only improve in this department)! Bouldering was about strong fingers and great control. Out of control go for it bouldering was frowned upon and for good reason! Pads have changed all that (and pads are not rocket science. We should have thought them up much earlier.). With multiple pads and a multiple spots, you are free to totally go for it, find your boundaries and push them, much like steep sport climbing! And like steep sport climbing, not going for it invites comments like, ďDude, itís safe, we got ya, go for it!Ē The other change (and this also parallels steep sport climbing) is the image of people absolutely exploding upwards. This is exciting and anyone who is willing to go for it can Ďjumpí right in and be part of it. If you have any doubt of the power of this image, poll the last twelve covers of either Climbing or Rock and Ice. Bouldering (and roped climbing) has gone from the realm of a small band of misfits and become safe and yet exciting enough to go mainstream.

FRB: Are there problems for bouldering
          on the horizon?

Jim: -Hereís the good news: Somebodyís going out there and discovering a new bouldering area almost every week. Thatís so cool - the exploring, adventure spirit. We can spread out a little bit and reduce the overcrowding (overcrowding is a relative frame of mind. For someone who started bouldering 15 years ago, it might seem a wee crowded. For someone who started climbing recently, whatís the problem? Plus, some of us are attracted to crowds and scenes, and others are repelled.).
-Hereís the bad news: The real damage to Mother Nature is not the lichen scrapped off the rock by lots of ascents. And chalk is visual pollution but itís not significant. The real damage is new trails and trail braiding to and around new boulders. Another words, climbers donít do any significant damage while climbing. They do it while not climbing, i.e. Ė hiking to bouldering and milling around the base Ė while they are on the ground! When there was just multipitch trad routes, climbers didnít spend a lot of time on the ground. With the advent of single pitch sport climbs, climbers started spending more time on the ground. Now with many boulderers and bouldering area, climbers are spending a lot of time on a lot of ground. And land managers are starting to notice the impact. Itís not like bolted climbs that gave themselves away by the chalk. A ranger just has to follow the newest social path to the hot, new bouldering area. This is a big problem. Disparate parts of the Boulder community will have to work this out and hopefully this wonít come down to force: a ban. When sides cannot compromise, human society has failed.

FRB: What do you suggest to people who
         are just starting in climbing/bouldering?

Jim: Donít take a lesson too soon. Go with friends. Make it friends based and fun. Girls seek out other girls, because boys just want to dominate, show off their Ďprowessí, and get laid. Get a pad and a good spotter (hopefully a friend). Be safe. Donít compare yourself to others (thatís not easy), just have fun. Donít struggle too much, make it a nice mix of trying hard and fun (that mix is different for each person). Be patient. Let the problems come to you, donít rush it too much (the definition of too is different for each person). See those words in italics? Fun, safe, patient. Include those in your mindset and you will be around many seasons to get all your projects and many more.

FRB: What are the three levels of
          enlightenment in climbing.

Jim: The first level is to find your own horizons. Most people never find any goals or challenges of their own. They take paths and images that have been spoon fed to them and unconsciously make them their own. They basically take the path of least resistance. Sometimes their lives work out just fine but usually they spiral into mediocrity because they lack inspiration. And inspiration is only found and felt when you develop your own horizons. The second level is giving others the freedom and encouragement to find their own horizons. This is harder. Once we have found our own horizons, they feel so genuine that we want to give them or foist them on others who are in the midst of searching for their own. One cannot attain this level until one has attained the first level. One is not aware of the importance of horizons for others and the importance of others finding their own horizons until one has realized found that for themselves. The third level is community. This is achieved by few individuals or groups of people. You take the wisdom and love developed while attaining the first two levels and you come back full circle to create and foster community. People operate as groups to stand for both the individual and the community. The individual realizes the importance of the group welfare and works toward it. The group realizes the importance of the individualís welfare, inspirations and aspirations and works to preserve them. Like the second level, this level cannot be achieved until individuals have attained the first two levels and then come together, for mutual benefit. These levels are sequential. I have thought long and hard on how climbers relate to each other. This little model seems to help me make the most sense of all those negative and positive interactions. The important thing is to come to some sort of understanding and then to try to make a difference, for the positive.

FRB: Parting words of wisdom?

Jim: This interview is dedicated to Steve Smith, Tom Dunwiddie and Mike Bearzi, and all those who loved them and their friends who will miss them. And to our future Ė Tanner Knapp.

FRB: Thanks for the interview Jim.

Jim: Youíre welcome. Thank you for the opportunity to share some thoughts and memories.

<HOME>

Hello
DISCLAIMER
Copyright © Frontrangebouldering.com, 2000-2001
Send questions or comments to
mbrooks@frontrangebouldering.com
Home Big Elk