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?
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
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
FRB: What do you think of enhancing, chipping
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
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
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
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
- 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
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
FRB: Thanks for the interview Lee.
Lee: Of course.