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Hello Hello Hello

A brief interview with
Lee Payne

late September, 2003

Lee Lee Lee Lee Lee


FRB: How did you get into climbing Lee?

Lee: My first climbing trip was with Hunter Jones at Palisades Park in northern Alabama (a top roping, rappelling, and drinking destination.) There, Hank McCann taught me the ropes, which I promptly forgot when I found the local Boulder Fields. I started my quest for harder and harder bouldering when I met Adam Henry - the Southeast Legend. He told me I had to ditch the Boreal Aces and to use more chalk. Other than that, Hunter and I just figured it out blindly.

FRB: How long have you climbed for?

Lee: I consider my climbing career to have started on my 15th birthday - I had been top-roping a couple times before that, but on that day my dad bought me a pair of shoes, and I began visiting the gym every other day. I just recently turned 19 in late June, when I celebrated my fourth year of bouldering!

FRB: Who were some of your early mentors?

Lee: Adam Henry had the largest effect early on in my climbing career. He essentially took me under his wing and filled me in on the ethics, style, technique, and attitude of bouldering. Brad McLeod of the Southeast Climbers Coalition gave me an access retention and preservation view within bouldering. And then I met the Chancellor brothers of So Ill. Their attitude and hospitality is more impressive than I have ever seen. Not long after, I met Brian Capps, who really inspired me with his motivation, and ability to balance other activities, which taught me a lot about life as well bouldering.

FRB: Whom do you climb with usually?

Lee: I climb with people that are psyched. If they are motivated then I will be motivated too (Dave Graham is a good example of spreading motivation.) The Front Range is full of motivated climbers, and that is why I feel at home. I can go to an area by myself, and find exciting people to climb with all the time. Brian Solano and Cooper Roberts are really fun guys to climb with. I feel like I always push my psych and myself to their limits when I climb with Brian Capps. Recently I have really enjoyed climbing with Matt Segal. Other than the Front Range, my Bros back in the dirty south are the best crew anyone can ask for. Dean Murray, Jeff Wales, Adam Henry, Ben Glazner, Raja Rapacalips, Jeremy Watson, and all the other 'Bama boulderers.

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

Lee: I recently injured my finger, so I have been exploring other forms of entertainment. I learned how to ride a bike the other day. Very enjoyable! I have a girlfriend, that I love spending time with, shopping included. I spend a fair amount of time on the Internet and working on Modump.com. I work for Red Bull, which is really a privilege - not a job - but that takes up a fair amount of my time. And when I am not tired at night, I like to have a few drinks with friends in a quiet responsible atmosphere.

FRB: Have you done any first ascents?

Lee: I did a few sloper problems in the Southeast that were hard for me at the time. There is a corridor at Horse Pens 40 that has two problems that were very difficult for me to complete. Landslide is a trade route these days, but started as a near impossible contact strength bulge a couple years back. And just recently across from that I completed Illusions; a faint groove of body tension. I finished my strongest day of bouldering ever by linking the three moves on this problem.

Also, in Jackson Hole, I have spent some time developing the alpine bouldering around Rockchuck Peak. There is a plethora great rock! Even though I haven't done all the problems I wish I could have, I have put up numerous classic problems of all grades.

FRB: What do you think of enhancing, chipping
          & gluing holds?

Lee: C'mon just try harder you freakin' chuffer. If it's a natural change leave it, if it's an unnatural change kill the architect.

FRB: What brings you to the Front Range?

Lee: I am enrolled at CU Boulder. Which was the only school I applied for out of High school. I wanted to come here for the mountains and the bouldering. Now I stay here because of the people, the scene, and the abundance of climbing.

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

Lee: I really like the V10's from 5.10, but they don't have a freakin' toe hook. I like to compensate for that lack with the Mantra's from La Sportiva, which are also very comfortable and efficient indoors. Mind you I haven't tried on every shoe out there, but from my experience, I would have to say - Nothing beats 5.10's rubber.

FRB: Do you compete?

Lee: I enjoy the stress of a competition on a problem-by-problem basis; I really enjoy trying to flash problems, having only one chance to get to the top. I have never climbed very well indoors, but I see indoor competitions as an opportunity to climb well-set routes on clean holds - I wish that was how it was every time indoors. Outdoor competitions are more my style - all your friends are there, the season is right, the problems are cleaned, and the energy is high! Outdoor competitions are just a lot of fun. But, the best part of any competition is the after-party.

FRB: What makes for a good competition route
          in your opinion?

Lee: I want to be able to do the first damn move, but after that I don't mind falling. A route should get consistently harder as you get higher. I enjoy tension moves. But I think a better competition route is more powerful and dynamic. The key, however, is to use really good holds. I really like So ILL Holds on my routes because they are innovative and well textured.

FRB: What are some of your favorite climbing gyms?

Lee: The Urban Outpost in Birmingham, Alabama for its community The Spot in Boulder, Colorado for its creative features and power endurance.

FRB: Where do you think the best bouldering
          in the Front Range is?

Lee: Rocky Mountain National Park hands down! The quality of rock, difficulty of climbing, beauty of scenery, unique features, and epic location are an unbeatable combination. Chaos Canyon is probably the most entertaining and challenging bouldering location I have experienced. There are numerous other locations that really just boil down to a few good problems worth coming back for. Except for The Poudre Canyon, which is another wonderful area in its season.

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

Lee: There are so many good problems out there! For me, I try a problem and it occupies my mind for about a week or so and then I am ready to move on. There are some, however, that do stand out. God Module, Great White, and Slabolicious at Horse Pens 40; Sunspot, Bush Pilot, Whispers of Wisdom at Chaos Canyon; Beyond Life, Trent's Mom, and Wheels of Fire at Joe's Valley; Harvest Moon at Zahnd, GA; Guns and Roses at Drapers Bluff; Free Willy, Center El Murray at Hueco Tanks; Fat Sloper Action, Camero at Holy Boulders; the aręte project at Rockchuck Canyon, WY. Oh my god - there are sooo many more I am forgetting.

FRB: Do you have any projects right now?

Lee: My project right now is to heal my finger -October 15th is my date to hopefully be climbing again. These are the problems I will do first: Eternia, Whispers of Wisdom, Black Ice sit. Then the month of November is free - any ideas?

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

Lee: Go to modump.com and get psyched!

FRB: How do you train for hard bouldering.

Lee: Hard bouldering is trying hard! Sure there is a necessity of core tension, but superhuman fingers are not a requirement, they just ease things up a little. From my experience the thing that makes people climb harder is practice and effort. So as long as you are psyched, the best thing to do is go outside and learn to push yourself.

FRB: Parting whispers of wisdom?

Lee: Yeah, I can't wait to do that problem.
- Never solo the flatiron in the rain; always bring a skin kit when you climb; approach shoes are more of a hassle than sandals; don't look at the teacher as you are walking out of class early; no shirt, no shoes (they are serious), no service!

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

Lee: This one time at band camp… No really, just to name a few: Once I got accused of shooting up out at the crag, we won't comment on that one. In May, my friend, Hunter, and I bought a puppy at the beginning of a summer long road trip, which made the hot days at Joe's survivable. Another time I lost my keys while bouldering and needed them to make it to work on time. After two hours of frantically searching the crag, and using the mental hospitals telephone to call my boss, I found that they had fallen through a hole in the Velcro pocket of my Cordless pad. Only 5 minutes late to work! Once my friends and I found ourselves camping out right next door to 25 girls - Sorority camping trip! Once my friend had a knife pulled on him at a local climbing area. As well, there have been all sorts of other great days - Spitting and watching it freeze dripping off the rock. Drinking at an area to make it hurt less, only to find out the crew bouldering next to you is doing the same thing. My scariest' adventure was watching as a cats eyes became possessed late at night on sacred Indian ground!

FRB: What are you studying in School Lee?

Lee: I am going to school for a degree. My major is Communications with a minor in Geology and I am enjoying my philosophy electives and the books I am reading in class. I also study other things outside of school. I currently have a job as a marketing manager for Red Bull. - I am learning everyday from that. I also learn with the website I run - never did I think I would learn another language.

FRB: Climbing is constantly evolving, where
          do you think it is going?

Lee: It seems to me that as climbing becomes more and more popular worldwide and generation wide, that the path will be towards indoor climbing and competitions. It is the most face value entertaining to watch and easiest for a normal person to develop power in. Luckily in the Front Range there a number of dedicated outdoor boulderers going out of their comfort zone to find virgin rock for the rest of us. This is what I like to see, and I believe this faction will always be around, and will in turn flourish in all the potential rock out there in this country.

FRB: Do you Sport climb or do any Trad climbing?

Lee: I have been sport climbing twice I think. The hardest part was clipping the bolts. Honestly, I am just not into that right now. I like the simplicity of bouldering. If I wanted to learn "the ropes" then I would rather climb the big walls in Yosemite or over in Europe. Right now I am entirely interested in the difficulty of movement, and the great community that bouldering has.

FRB: Thanks for the interview Lee.

Lee: Of course.

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