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Hello Hello Hello

Matt Samet
at his condo in Boulder
August 20, 2000

   
matt1 maat2 matt3 matt4 matt5


FRB: Matt, Thanks for meeting with us. We would just
          like to ask a few questions. You are well known in
          the climbing community, but some people might
          not know 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.

FRB: 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 ascents,
          how many have you done?

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
          to boulder 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,
           where do 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,
           what are you studying?

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 as much.

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 climbing?

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 time,
          why do you continue to climb?

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 climbing.

FRB: Do you have climbing training tips?

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 you
         worked for Climbing magazine?

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
          harder sends on Sport routes and boulder           problems?

Matt: 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 that way?

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 your time.

Matt: You're welcome, my pleasure.

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