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FRB Archived Interviews
Jamie Emerson - late Feb., 2003

Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie Jamie
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FRB: How did you get into climbing Jamie?

Jamie: About 4 years ago, I was a junior at Michigan State University. Todd Skinner came to give a slide show about climbing big walls around the world. It sounded like a cool thing so I went to check it out. I have always been into adventure and it seemed to me, from Todd's slide show, that climbing was the greatest adventure of all. So I was hooked right away. For the next three years I climbed at a 30ft sandstone cliff called Grand Ledge. In about 6 months I had done all the routes so it was very difficult to stay motivated. But it was all I had so I had to be psyched. It kinda made me feel like the underdog and I loved that. I still climb there when I go back to MI. If my motivation ever wanes here in CO, which it rarely does, I just think about those long days spent running laps on a mossy, chossy 25ft 5.10, trying desperately to get strong. That usually does the trick.

FRB Who do you climb with usually?

Jamie: Most of the time I climb with this salty, anorexic, freak from Cleveland that just wants to video tape me scraping lichen all day long. I also climb with my boy Dave from MI who lives up in the Fort. He and I have climbed together forever, and usually just whoever happens to be psyched. I also have to mention Harju Jones. He was a welder and baseball player from Grand Morais, MI. Probably the greatest climber I have ever seen touch rock. I have to say there are numerous climbers in the area that provide plenty of inspiration. Also my parents are wonderful and super supportive.

FRB: Have you done any first ascents?

Jamie: We have been developing some incredible granite boulders outside of Fort Collins. There is just miles and miles of rock and it is all untouched. Also some rad alpine areas. I did put up a few lines in MI.

FRB: What are some of your hardest sends?

Jamie: Probably the Bushpilot in Chaos Canyon. About a year ago I came out to CO on vacation and just hiked up there with no map or guide. I just figured if we looked around long enough we would find something to climb on. We hiked almost all day and saw alot of huge boulders but no obvious lines. Right when we were about to give up we crested a rise and there was the Bushpilot. It was the most incredible line I had ever seen and I just couldn't believe how big it was. It totally redefined my definition of what hard bouldering could be and how incredibly immaculate rock can be. I tried in vain to send that day and I remember it feeling quite impossible. I couldn't even do the first move and it looked like it only got harder. So when I moved out here about a year ago, that was my number one priority. As soon as the massive snow ! drift that forms underneath (and over top) the problem melted away I was there. Not only is this problem incredible looking but the climbing on it is phenomenal. It is incredibly sustained, varied, and there is a beautiful hard lunge to a perfectly square cut hold that ends that hard climbing. All in all a classic problem and one that I was very proud to send. It was nice too that Ben caught it on video. I was also really psyched to do the Canopener in the Poudre. Another really cool problem. I haven't done it yet, but Will's new problem, Black Ice, is super cool as well.

FRB: Why bouldering instead of trad or Sport climbing?

Jamie: I have always been more motivated by movement and difficulty, and for me that is what bouldering is about. I also hate dealing with gear and ropes. All that stuff is a distraction for me and takes away from actual process of climbing on rocks. I really enjoy the athleticism of bouldering. I was really turned off by some of the sport climbing scenes that exist in the east, with super trampled ground, stereos at the cliff etc. For me bouldering is about being in the mountains with a couple of friends and no one else, trying your hardest on some crazy moves. There is little in this world that is more wonderful than sending a hard problem and just having that crazy flow. Wow that gets me so psyched. I want to go climbing right now!!!

FRB: What else do you like to do besides climb?

Jamie: The people at The Spot would probably say nothing else, but I love hiking and trail run. I also enjoy reading about politics and science. I am currently reading Einstein's "Relativity" and it is a fascinating read. Quite challenging. I occasionally snowboard and chase girls as well. I listen to alot of music and I think I'm the only climber in the Front Range that likes punk music.

FRB: What brings you to Boulder, Colorado?

Jamie: My brother went to school here and so that is how I was initially introduced to Boulder. It really is a special place. There are so many people that are really great climbers and really great people. The weather is amazing of course and there are thousands and thousands of problems. It is such a great combination of things. It is such a good environment to make yourself a better climber. Plus the mountains are just beautiful.

FRB: Who do you think makes the best shoes for bouldering?

Jamie: I have always climbed in La Sportiva and in particular I love the Muira. That shoe is rad for heel hooking. And the guys that work over there, Jonathan, Randy, and Colin are super nice.

FRB: What is the best gym in the country?

Jamie: Of Course, The Spot! I have had so many people come up to me and tell me that they hate gyms and they love ours because of the natural features and the topouts, among other things. I think the only time I have ever been sketched inside was at the Spot, its just amazing. I climbed at some huge facilities back in MI, but they just didn't have the staff experience or know how to make for a great environment and I think that The Spot has that. Plus Dan, Dan and Casey are so much fun to work for.

FRB: Do you compete?

Jamie: Not really. The gym is a great training tool and fun social atmosphere but I just can't get motivated to pull my hardest on plastic.

FRB: What are some things you don't like about
          the Front Range bouldering scene?

Jamie: It amazes me that people enjoy climbing on sharp, pebbly poo. That stuff hurts to climb on and it is not fun. There is so much good rock in CO. But whatever, people can do what they want, that just leaves more FAs for me! All in all I think it is a great scene. I have met so many wonderful people and that alone gets me super motivated.

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

Jamie: Grades are so subjective. Although I do enjoy talking about them it usually comes down to something being described as V3,4,5... It's so hard to pinpoint an exact difficulty level that I don't really see the point. I am much more concerned with quality. Movement, surroundings, quality of rock, and friends of course, these things will inspire me far more than any number. And because it is these things that get me so psyched I find it hard to be uninspired. So I would like to see more of an emphasis an quality problems, not just difficulty. I had a brief conversation with Brain Capps about this and I like a lot of his ideas. And Ben Scott and I talk about it almost daily. I also think that bouldering is headed in a great direction. People are so psyched these days and I know I have hiked upwards of 17 miles in a day to find new rock to climb on. Certainly I am not the only one and this seems to be a trend. People all over the country are finding new rock every day. Even here in CO, we have found massive talus fields of untouched rock less than an hour from Boulder. It is crazy and it gets my super psyched. There is just so much out there and it seems like people are just now starting to find it.

FRB: What are your thoughts on Highballing?

Jamie: Ben and Dave are really good at it and good for them.

FRB: Parting words of wisdom?

Jamie: Shut them all down.

FRB: Thanks for the interview, Jamie?

Jamie: You're welcome.


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