The Webb & Voges interviewby Björn Pohl - UKC Jun/2010
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James Webb and Brion Voges have been climbing strong for quite some time now. Currently, they are residing in Colorado for a few months and, quite predictably, they've been tearing it up with quick ascents of numerous double digit problems. I've been monitoring the guys' activities for a while and decided it was about time I made a short interview before they rise to super stardom and unbefriend me on Facebook... Well, here we go.
Brion Voges on Bleeding brothers, 8A+
© James Webb
So, you're crushing Colorado at the moment. Any thoughts on that?
J: Yeah, we've been here now for almost a month, and it's been a blast! Brion and I planned this trip almost half a year in advance, so we got on a training plan together and tried to see what we could make happen! I don't know if we got that much stronger, or if our overall syke just to be here drives us up the boulders.
B: I'm just happy to be climbing outside, happy to be in the mountains and happy to escape the hot and humid Southeast, US for the summer.
Is RMNP(Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado) THE place to be in the US right now if you're into bouldering, or are there better areas
J: Well, if you're in Colorado and it's summer time, I most definitely see RMNP as "the place to be". RMNP just has a HUGE concentration of five star boulders no matter the grade. From v0 - v15, RMNP's got it all!<:p>
B: RMNP is definitely the place to be in the summer. It's one of the few areas in the US that is good this time of year. It is also one of the most amazing areas I've ever traveled to. In terms of scenery, climbing, and adventure, RMNP has the whole package!
Did you set up any goals for this trip? Any special problems you want to do?
J: Yeah well before we got here I had come up with a HUGE tick list of problems that I wanted to climb.... and luckily enough I've been able to tick off a few here and there. But more so recently I've directed my sights towards two hard problems, Jade, v14 in RMNP, and Big Worm, v14 at Mt. Evans. We'll see how they go!
B: I have a couple goals for the summer. Back home we set up a Top Notch imitator and, as it's a pure power bloc (not necessarily my strength), I would really love to climb it. We also have an understanding that climbing a new grade this summer gets you a free meal. I'm going to be gunning for that.
You're both relatively tall guys. Do you think there's often a big difference as to how you perceive the difficulty of a given problem?
J: Yeah, I believe some problems are made easier due to our height, but everyone knows that's just climbing.. Some problems are better if your short, some are better if your tall. I always try and grade things on a level that's universal... but honestly, that can't work every time...
B: My height definitely plays a large role in the perceived difficulty of some problems. Daniel Woods recently pointed out the difference in reference to the problem What's Left of the Bottom of My Heart. The boulder is definitely easier for me than for Daniel. However, there are just as many boulders that are made more difficult as a result of my height. For example, The Automator has an extremely bunchy crux making it much harder for me than for others.
All time favorite problem? Why?
J: Oh, most definitely 'The Shield' at Little Rock City, TN. Its beauty, size, and movement are just second to none. I've never even seen a problem better... and I don't know if I ever will...
B: My all time favorite problem is 'The Shield' at Little Rock City. It is without a doubt the most beautiful, proud line I have ever climbed.
All time most difficult problem? Why?
James Webb on Damn Yankees, 7C
© Brion Voges
J: Most difficult problem for me I believe was James Litz' 'Genetic' [V11/8A] at Horse Pens 40. To me this one mover was just really hard to execute. When I sent the problem it actually felt easy, but on the 4 or 5 days working up to it, I questioned wether or not it was possible for me.
B: As for the hardest boulder I have ever climbed, 'Skeletor' [V10/7C+], a slopey, compression oriented v10 at Horse Pens 40, takes the cake. I guess I'm just too skinny for the muscly climbs...
Do you ever go to the gym to train, or is it enough to climb outside?
J: Well for me personally I enjoy climbing inside and outside. But before this trip I decided that maybe it was time to try and step it up and put myself on somewhat of a "training" regiment. So Brion and I probably spent 4 to 5 days a week training at The Tennessee Bouldering Authority for around 3 months leading up to our departure.
B: Weather in the Southeast is unpredictable and often poor for extended periods of time. As a result, I often find myself in the gym more than I would like. But training in the gym has been instrumental in advancing my climbing. In fact, without our local gym, Tennessee Bouldering Authority, this would be a much less interesting interview.
How do you see bouldering evolving in the future?
J: I really have no idea... but wherever it goes, I'm just gonna try and enjoy it.
B: Bouldering is advancing on several fronts simultaneously. Highball bouldering is coming into style, difficulty is being advanced, and competitions are evolving. I see a continuation in all of these realms and I hope to one day be on the front lines pushing climbing into the mainstream and sharing the sport we love with kids stronger than we could have ever imagined.
Thanks a bunch guys, and good luck with your projects!