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Hello Hello Hello

Interview by Mike Hickey    early October, 2004

Rufus, Bucket Roof, Hueco. photo by John Sherman
Rufus Miller doing the bat hang on Bucket Roof, Hueco. Photo: John Sherman
John Sherman collection printed with permission

I love that picture of Rufus, mainly because if I'm looking at it, it means I'm in Hueco. Our guide book opens automatically to that page, kind of weird. I also think that that guide book is a work of art. Best damn guide book ever written. When I first saw that picture, what came to mind was "I wonder if those shorts have a liner?". I honestly remember the shorts more than the rock or Rufus himself. I can't remember if they're soccer shorts or running shorts. -Amy Cardin

FRB: Age?

Rufus: 47.

FRB: Height?

Rufus: 5.8.

FRB: Ape Index?

Rufus: +6 when my kid measured from finger tip to finger tip the tape read 74".

FRB: Weight?

Rufus: 165 lbs.

FRB: How do you get yourself so freaking ripped?

Rufus: I eat steroids for breakfast. One bowl of Wheatoids every morning seems to achieve the desired results. Run, bike, and climb as much as you can.

FRB: Years climbing?

Rufus: 28.

FRB: How did you get started in climbing?

Rufus: I was in Boulder during my freshman year at CU and I met up with one of my old high school wrestling buddies. After fighting for awhile he told me about this girl who was teaching him the ropes. She was a gymnast and way gnarly climber. I was a super gumby, but she took us to Boulder Canyon on some of her off days and got us hooked. At this time I was also recruited to be a spotter with the CU women's gymnastics team. Along with working with the team, I was able to watch guys like Bob Candelaria in the Rec Center doing nasty routines on the high bar and assorted oddball exercises on the other equipment. Forget about wrestling, this subculture of misfit climbers was cool.

FRB: Estimated days spent bouldering?

Rufus: I usually boulder once a week during the school year. In the summer I can usually escape twice a week if my girls will let me. Understand that a day for me is 2 to 3 hours max.

FRB: Wow… So you've probably gotten in over 3,000 days
          of bouldering. If you quit bouldering today which bouldering
          day or trip would you have the fondest memory of?

Rufus: Finding the Hidden Wall in Aldefer.

FRB: Favorite Action Hero?

Rufus: All the Cat Women. I don't know who the actress was in the original Batman series, but along with Nicole Kidman and Holly Berry, she was purrfect.

FRB: What is the craziest stunt you've ever done?

Rufus: It depends how you define crazy. To me it means "stupidest". When I was a teen, we used to ride our bikes to this railroad bridge in Chicago that spanned some passenger train tracks. We used to hang upside down from these pipes as trains whizzed by at 70 mph. That was exciting back then, but probably gave me the near death experience that was later filled with climbing.

FRB: Did you happen to fall out of a tree with a
          chain saw in your hand… Truth or urban legend?

Rufus: Legend.

FRB: Favorite quote.

Rufus: Frederick Douglas: "If there is no struggle there is no progress."

FRB: Super Cool Boulder Problems?

Rufus: Ghost Dance on the Millennium, The Hidden Wall and The Visor in Aldefer 3 Sisters, Switching Corners on Big Agnes, and Holloway's in Morrison.

FRB: I've heard you used to warm up on Holloway's at Morrison without a pad or spot… Truth or urban legend?

Rufus: Used to for sure. I probably did that problem about 100 times. One day when there were a bunch of Boulder Boys there with about 10 pads I gave it a go and popped off the crimps. My head smacked the boulder that provides a nasty backdrop. Luckily a pad was placed just at the right spot. No more Holloway's for me.

FRB: Do you secretly remove tick marks?

Rufus: Yes. Especially those left on obscure little pebbles by wannabe oddballs.

FRB: Do your kids know how cool you are?

Rufus: No. They think climbers are smelly oddballs who cannot cope with real life. Their dad on the other hand is the bomb. Climbing is just a pastime which keeps me fit. My family is the mortar which creates my very existence. Time spent with my wife and kids is way more important than any time climbing.

FRB: Favorite Bouldering area… Why?

Rufus: I like to find solitude and variety in an area. For those reasons I find Aldefer 3 Sisters and Iron City to be my favorites. Aldefer has a bunch of big stones that offer some super cool lines. There are no rivers or major roads nearby, so the noise level is low and it is close to my house. The rock can shred your tips on hot days, but a warm day in fall or winter is like taking a bath with Cat Woman.

Iron City is just a small area near Buena Vista. The rock is like the Valley with cool big lines. There is also a graveyard nearby just in case. We have a cabin in Alpine, Colorado, right at the base of Mount Princeton. Most of the rock in the area is chalk, but in a few spots there are pockets of fined grained granite giants. Go to Agnes Vail Falls sometime and look to the west after you hike 150 yards up the trail. Give me an email if you want info on these or other places: Rufus.Miller@att.net.

FRB: You just came back from a bouldering trip to Pueblo
          where you climbed with John Gill… What was that like?

Rufus: It was great going there with Old Bob due to his knowledge of the area. John showed us all around one of his favorite places which was as beautiful as it gets.

FRB: Who is Bob Williams… And where is the infamous hill?

Rufus: Bob is a good friend and great boulderer. We just call him Old Bob to distinguish him from all the other Bobs in the world. The "Hill" is the one you hike up to get to the Hole in Morrison. That is always the first crux for Bob in his pursuit of bouldering stardom.

FRB: Do you have any climbing heroes?

Rufus: Ron Kauk is one of the coolest climbers I have met. He is really a nice guy and watching him climb is inspiring.

FRB: Sickest thing you've ever seen done on rock?

Rufus: Watching Charlie Bentley do loops at the Black Hole in Morrison. Joel Gilmore has showed me some stuff that will make your bones snap.

FRB: Who is Joel Gillmore?

Rufus: Joel is the wrestler turned climber. Joel is a trip to be around. I admire Joel for his 4 time state champ status.

FRB: So… How does it feel to be an "Underground Legend"?

Rufus: I like being a part of the underground. The rules are simple and the members are real folks who like to push their limits. As you get older your motivation takes a serious hit. One of the things that keeps me going is the fact that I can still do some of the problems that people view as exciting. I love showing people beta on the lines I can manage to pull off on a good day.

FRB: Locals only.

Rufus: No way. I love showing folks new problems. Especially ones that I cannot do.

FRB: Your motivation is truly inspiration. Do you have
          any long time projects you're actively trying? Is there
          one problem you wish you would have done but haven't yet?

Rufus: If I have not done it yet, I will not do it ever. Great motivation huh! I really wish I could have done the three holes problem on Millennium. I must have tried that thing 100+ times.

FRB: Do you still want to get stronger… Better technique…
          mind control… Or are you content with your current
          super hard man underground legend dude status?

Rufus: Very content. I want the youngsters to come in and raise the bar.

FRB: What motivates you?

Rufus: Nothing is more satisfying than burning a twenty something hell raiser and then laughing about it with them. I also love to explore established and new areas.

FRB: I don't remember laughing? That being said, you've
          been bouldering for almost 3 decades… Has the
          bouldering crowd changed much in attitude and do
          you have any words of wisdom for the new wannabes.

Rufus: Keep it mellow and try to do the hardest stuff possible.

FRB: Have you ever walked into a pole?

Rufus: Many times. I am easily distracted at crucial navigational times. I was at one of those warehouse stores once and took a dead on hit with a solid steel beam. I was dazed for a while, but overall I think it was a good experience.

FRB: What about the rumor you walked off the top of
          Germ Free Adolescence… True or urban legend?

Rufus: Yes this is true. I didn't actually walk. I had just topped out and was showing Greg Johnson this foothold I had used. The next thing I knew, Greg was above me and I was spotting a landing way below my starting point. Luckily no damage.

FRB: Word Association
     - just fill in what ever first comes to your mind?
FRB:              Rufus:
Cat Women - Tight
Super Gumby - Bill Owens
Perfection - V10
Triple XXX - Some mongrel graffitti
Alien - Segorni Weaver
Strong - Sharma
Grass - itchy
Wrestling - Ultimate
Black Hole - Debilitating
V5 - At 60
Elvis - Velvet
Acid - ACDC
Old - Bob
Wrestling - repetition
Hibernation - Winter
Bikini - Whale
Center Route - Never
Tick Marks - trash
Mountain Bike - Calvin (he is so cool!)
MTV - Mindless Toilet Vision
Summer - travel
Red - "Rufus the Red"
Front Range - Best
Eldorado - Edge
Neal Cassidy - Partidge Family
Diapers - Done
Lycra - Cat Women
Prince - Charming
Grateful Dead - Sugar Magnolia
Cliff Hanger - Wolfgang
Chipping - Dumb
V10 - My car

FRB: thank you for the interview, Rufus.

Rufus: You're welcome.

-- additional comments about Rufus by Justin Jaeger (JJ)
So, after spending three years living on the Front Range of Colorado, I've become privy to numerous local legends...usually by name and story alone. The ridiculous abilities and nonchalance of these climbing heros that arises in each successive and increasingly amazing story begins to cast a shroud of doubt over their fervently purported truth. In some cases, I even began to wonder if the character him/herself actually existed, let alone endowed with such superhuman powers...

Then comes the day when you run into one of these climbers and the myth is eclipsed by and even more impressive reality.

Rufus Miller is my case in point.

The first moment I met Rufus, I noticed only that he seemed in good shape despite being apparently twice the age of any other climber at morrison that day [sorry]. Oh, and he was wearing some wrestling program T-shirt. Basically, he just sat on the rocks in front of the black hole watching the other climbers and mumbling that he was done for the day, totally spent. Finally, after being begged for beta to Helicopter, Rufus put his shoes back on, made a half-hearted stab into his chalk bag, and walked the problem...then continued traversing over to the top of Breashears, down-climbed it with grace and ease, and continued through to the start of Helicopter. OK, so the guy was strong and he had wired 'Air Lupis.' Then, someone asked Rufus to do Cytogrinder just as he was rising from the sit-finish of Lupis...Rufus spun on his heels and did Cytogrinder with fluidity...and down climbed Breashears. Then, the crowd became frenzied at the emergence of their very own beta-machine and proceeded to ask--and be granted--the slow-motion beta to every problem they wanted done for their greedy, beta-soaking eyes. After a half-hour of constant sending [no one else dared pull onto the wall for fear of missing some crucial tidbit of a secret move, not for fear of rebuke], Rufus finally tried to do the Center Route and swung off the high left hand pinch hold...though the 'failure' reeked of the same patronizing stench of a father falling down and feigning injury when his toddler child gives him a 'punch' to the thigh.

Really, I think Rufus was just making a case for us to allow his final departure---"oh, geez guys, I'm really tired now..." yeah right.

As he ambled down the hill of Morrison, presumably towards his car, I asked someone just who was that sending machine. Rufus. Rufus Miller was the answer. As I recall, I never saw him make it to the road or to any vehicle. It seemed like he just vanished, dematerialized into the air of Morrison from which he came.


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