Matt, Thanks for meeting with us. We would just
like to ask a
few questions. You are well known in
community, but some people might
who you are. Who's Matt Samet?
Matt: Who am I? I am, just
another climber who came to Boulder and didn't leave. Came here 10 years
ago. I just haven't been able to leave. I guess sometimes I climb well,
sometimes I climb not so well. Right now I'm in Grad. School. I've been
climbing all summer. Trying to get it out of my system before school
starts again. Because once school starts again I won't have much time.
Who am I...? I don't know. I've been climbing for 13 years.
That's all you've been climbing for?
Matt: Rock climbing! Mountaineering
since I was 12. As a climber who am I? I'm pretty shy. I'm pretty retreating,
and I like to climb in areas where there's not alot of people. So that's
who I am. And, I write for Climbing Magazine and I get a big kick out
of that. Because it lets me be critical of alot of things that I think
are pretty silly about this sport in the 90's and into the new millennium.
A lot of the directions this sport is taken away from adventure towards
pettiness and silliness.
FRB: How did you get into climbing?
Matt: I got into climbing through
a friend of mine. Who was my dads', sort of, best friend through high
school and college and he was my dads' college roommate. His name was
Bob MacIntosh. He lives out in Olympia, Washington. He's really into
mountaineering, mountain running. He'd do rock routes. He's more of
a mountaineer than a rock climber. But when I was 12 I started going
out there in the summers; my dad would send me out there. Bob would
take me climbing. I would only get to climb a week or two a year. When
I was 15 I was finally old enough, in Albuquerque, to take a climbing
course through the New Mexico Climbing Club. Once I did that I learned;
I already knew a little bit about rock climbing, but once I started
that course at 15, that's when I really started rock climbing. That
was 13 years ago. I'm 28 now.
FRB: What keeps you motivated?
Matt: What keeps me motivated...?
New routes. New boulder problems. New areas. I really like to climb
On-Sight. So I motivate myself to stay fit for On-Sight climbing by
going out and training hard on the rocks around here on routes that
I know. Yay, I think On-Sight climbing motivates me the most, and new
bouldering areas. Especially where I can try new problems or try to
put up new problems. I'm not really that motivated by competition; to
a certain extent. I'm definitely not that motivated by numbers. I used
to be, but not any more.
FRB: You've done a lot of first
how many have
Matt: Routes?... Probably put
up 20. Boulder problems?... I've lost count. Sorta really been in the
last five years that I've been able to put up a lot of boulder problems
because people are finding new areas. A lot of new rock has turned up
on the Front Range. But I'm sure I probably put up at least 300 boulder
problems. Here, at Hueco Tanks and southern New Mexico. Maybe more,
maybe less, it's hard to say. I mean, what do you count as a first ascent
too when you're bouldering, a variation or just a new line?
FRB: What is your favorite place
at In Colorado?
Matt: Probably would be Cloud
9. Believe it or not! Simply because there's acres of rock, and
there's still lot of potential, and there's no one up there and the
setting is beautiful. And the climbing is the kind I like: varied climbing
on Fountain sandstone. Yay, I would say Cloud 9. Just for the whole
experience. Maybe my second favorite would be these boulders we go to
near Allenspark that are kinda secret. But I like it up there. There's
only 3 boulders, but it's just quiet with big steep high problems. That
might be my second favorite area in Colorado.
FRB: Phillip says there's no
V11's in Colorado,
do you think
that is true?
Matt: No. I think he's being
overly conservative. I was just up bouldering in Rocky Mountain National
Park behind Hallet's Peak at Lake
Haiyaha, and Dave Graham had put up some problems that I saw. That
certainly look as hard or harder than V12 or 13. Very, very steep and
very, very thin. When Herm Feissner said that he has raised the bar
for Colorado bouldering, it certainly looked that way. I also think
that at Morrison, Charlie has done some linkups that would be V12 on
the V-Scale. I mean, they are more like routes because they are long.
I did something last time I was at the Barrio that took me a couple
of months. I'm sure it would be at least V12. But you could probably
give it a route grade because it's long. Maybe Phillip is thinking of
the classic boulder problems.
FRB: You've climbed at alot
of different places,
you climb these days?
Matt: Lately...? I've been
trying to go into the high country and boulder a little at Lake Haiyaha.
Camp Dick, off the Peak to Peak Highway, is some new bouldering. The
Ghetto just opened recently which is one of my favorite areas. The Third
FlatIron just opened. I've been doing alot of routes this summer because
my fingers hurt, so I've been climbing alot in Eldorado and Boulder
Canyon. I've been up on the Diamond once this year. I've been to Rifle
a bunch just trying to stay fit for doing routes, and went out to Maple
Canyon for a week. So I'm trying to just do a little bit of everything.
FRB: So you're back in school,
Matt: I'm in the Masters Program
for Creative Writing. This is my second year of classes. Basically I'll
be writing a lot and reading a lot and also being a Grad student TA. So
I'll have those obligations and I definitely won't be able to climb
FRB: Matt, Do you train...
do you train alot?
Matt: I don't train for climbing,
I just climb. In the winter I'll go to the rock gym. But I don't really
consider that training. Used to lift weights. Stopped. Because it just
felt like I was getting to heavy and bulky and not very flexible. Sometimes
I go running for a bit of cross-training. But yay ... for climbing,
I just climb as many days as possible.
FRB: What is the future of
Matt: I'm not sure. These kids,
these teenagers are doing harder and harder routes and they're doing
the hard routes quicker. I think standards will keep rising. Honestly,
I can't say if they're gonna be a cap on what's humanly possible or
not because, when the first 14a's were done people thought that was
the top end of the spectrum. I think routes will keep getting harder
but I think that's gonna slow down. You're not gonna see someone set
standards like Sharma has done for a long time. But I think you're gonna
see people like Sharma and Tommy Caldwell pushing the numbers. I think
people are gonna be getting back into the adventure side of things.
I think Sport climbing is definitely loosing popularity because it's
just not that dangerous, and after awhile, not that interesting. This
seems to be happening here and it's definitely happening in England.
People are doing dangerous routes that are hard with rehearsal. I think
you're gonna see harder and harder routes being done that way... less
bolts or no bolts, bad gear.
FRB: You've climbed a long
why do you continue
Matt: Because I don't have
a choice. It's my life, It's everything. When I can't climb I go fucking
ballistic, I go out of my head!
FRB: I got the same problem!
Matt: Yay, you do don't you.
Most climbers from Boulder seem too, except the ones who have burned
out. I love climbing. I love it. It's done so many good things for me
and it continues too. A good day out climbing is really better than
anything else! And it's something that I want to keep getting better
at; it's something that I guess I do well enough to enjoy. Or I feel
that I do it well enough to enjoy. More so than many other things that
I've tried in my life. And because it's something that you can do on
your own; it's a good way to make friends, it's a good way to get out
with friends, and because I love the mountains. I think climbing is
one of the best ways to experience the mountains. Instead of walking
around the mountains looking at the scenery you become the scenery through
FRB: Do you have climbing training
Matt: Climb as much as you
can, that's all I can say. Someone else might tell you different and
tell you to train and take lots of rest days but, when I lived in Europe
and saw a lot of the best climbers there, they'll climb day after day
after day. I think all that climbing makes you A: fit and B: gives you
just this sorta rock-sense; a repertoire of moves that you don't necessarily
get if you are just focusing on training and power. I think as much
climbing that you can fit into your week, I think you should go for
it. Easy or hard it doesn't matter, just climbing; being on rock.
FRB: So Matt, how long have
worked for Climbing
Matt: Started to do small stuff
for them in '96 when I graduated. I moved to Italy and started a sort
of correspondence; giving them, like, Hot Flash sorta information about
Europe in exchange for what they could send me about America. I knew
a lot of the editors already just through climbing. So I already had
a, you know, an acquaintance-type relationship with the people there.
Like Mike Benge. I was friends with Dave Hague. That sort of helped
me move into it. I did my first column for them and they liked it, so
it just sort of has taken off since then. I wish I had more time to
write more for them actually. I get a kick out of it. But with school
I can't do quite as much as I like.
FRB: You've sent alot of stuff,
what are some of your
on Sport routes and boulder problems?
The hardest redpoint I've done, I guess, is 'Zulu' which
is '14a or b, at Rifle. I guess I've done some other 14a
type stuff at Rifle and American Fork. I think my hardest On-Sight is
at Hueco Tanks: The Norwegian Wall. That's given 13c, but I mean, you
don't have to clip bolts. The hardest boulder problems I've done? I
don't really know. I tend to do better at boulder problems that are
long like routes. There's one linkup I did at the Ghetto called, 'Sports
Anus', which is just completely an eliminate. Sometimes I go up there
and put tic marks on the holds to remind myself where it goes when I
try it. And I did something at The Barrio last summer that might be
the hardest thing I've done. I haven't gone back to try and repeat it;
but, you do The Barrio, which I guess is a 5.13 traverse, you do the
first crux of it, then without resting, you head into this seam that
takes you back left and you reverse the crux with the high traverse,
loop the cave, and then send the whole thing again! It took me a couple
months. I figured it was at least 14b if it were to be given a route
grade. Maybe harder, I'm not sure. No one else has tried it. But it
gave me something to throw myself at for the summer.
FRB: Matt, you personify the
well rounded climber,
how did you get
Matt: I think I got that way,
I was lucky. I came into the sport at a time of transition. Sport climbing
was new and trad climbing was still sort of the model, so I learned
mountaineering with Bob MacIntosh. Then I learned trad climbing with
the New Mexico Mountain Club, but just as I began to move through the
grades, Sport climbing became available. I've sort of always had my
feet in both worlds of rock climbing. I'm not an Ice climber or a hard
core mountaineer so I guess I can't say I'm well rounded in that respect,
but I like all sorts of rock. I think I just have, that appreciation
of trad climbing from the beginning. It's something I left behind for
a lot of years while I Sport climbed, But I've been able to get back
in touch with that. It's just important to me. If I do just one kind
of climbing I burnout, so I try and do them all. Maybe seasonally or
mix it up. I think that helped me stayed well rounded; the fact that
I get bored! Within 2 months of doing one kind of climbing, I usually
want to do another.
FRB: Well Matt, thank you for
Matt: You're welcome, my pleasure.