Ted Kingsnorth has redpointed his long-term, long-distance project Just Do It 8c+ on the Monkey Face at Smith Rock, Oregon. First climbed by Frenchman Jean-Baptiste 'Jibé' Tribout in 1992, the 35m stamina-fest was the hardest route in the US at the time.
Just Do It is Ted's second route of the grade, following his ascent of Kaabah at Raven Tor in 2014 (UKC News Report). We sent Ted some questions about his latest achievement.
When did you first become interested in trying Just Do It?
After I redpointed To Bolt or Not to Be 5.14a/8b+ in 2014, which was the USA's first route of that grade, first climbed by Jibé Tribout in 1992, I was curious about Jibé's other famous route, Just Do It, which was also a first of its grade in the USA. It seemed like a logical progression to try it as I really like the style of climbing here at Smith, with lots of crimps and sidepulls, which is quite similar in some ways to our local UK crags.
When was your first go? What did you make of it?
I first tried it in May 2015 on a 2 week trip with Richard Waterton. It was enough to get me hooked as I managed to redpoint up to the first crux in the purple rock and I could see how it might be doable given some additional training. I didn't quite realise back then that it would morph into an intense 3 year project! I came back in the autumn of 2015 and Spring of 2016 but only for 2 week trips, which was all that my work would allow. It was on a longer trip of 4 weeks in September 2016 that I made a real breakthrough to the upper crux when I started to believe that I could really do the route. Last year I came out in October with Mina Leslie-Wujastyk and made good progress in cold conditions, but again it was not enough time to complete the route.
How do you train for a long distance project like this?
For fitness, I did lots of laps on my favourite routes at Malham and Kilnsey, including Comedy, Frankie comes to Kilnsey, Predator, Zoolook, Climb of the Century, Obsession and L'obsession. Mostly whatever was most frequently dry at Malham as I often hit the catwalk early in the season for a stint of outdoor action after the winter before heading out to Smith in May. Over the winter I did lots of indoor routes at Stockport wall and indoor bouldering. Just Do It is a tricky one as you need to be strong for the cruxes but you also need fitness at the same time, which is a tough balancing act. In the end, I think some extra fingerboarding and campusing was the difference this time around as after breaking my heel in December last year, it was all I could do as I couldn't climb for 2 months being non-weight bearing and on crutches. I was lucky enough to be able to spend 6 weeks at Smith this trip and this meant that I could build fitness on the route itself while taking enough rest days to recover the muscles and also the skin, which is crucial on such a sharp route.
Tom Stewart at my local wall, Rockover Climbing centre, was kind enough to let me build a replica of the crux section between the 13th and 16th bolts on their auto belay area, which really helped me hit the ground running when I arrived back in Smith this time.
Tell us a bit about the route itself. Which bits did you find hardest?
Just Do It is a long 35m stamina pitch with some excellent rests at regular intervals but with some pretty hard moves inbetween to keep you on your toes! There is a first pitch of 8b which is vertical in the yellow rock of the lower half of the East face of the Monkey which has its own chains. There is an excellent rest a little below these chains where you can bridge out and hold onto a flat hold and get a lot back. From there, there are a further 3 bolts of 7c climbing which transitions into the purple rock comprising the upper half of the Monkey. The angle steepens noticeably and this bit ends at a good, flat hold where you get a left heel up to take the weight off your arms. The rock bulges out here as the face steepens, so it becomes more pumpy.
From here, you encounter the meat of the route, which is a tough 8b of 4 bolts with a last rest in a 'porthole' feature, which is a decent hold but unfortunately the feet are really bad and so it's best not to stay there more than 45 seconds or you start getting more even more pumped! There is a lower crux on crimps of V8 before the porthole and a longer, upper crux above it, also of V8 but which is probably the hardest section as it's right at the top. The hardest bit involves a cross over from a first joint 2 finger pocket to a small, sharp gaston leading to a second 2 finger pocket which you must slap for when extremely pumped while placing your right toe on a poor smear. Above, there are still several tricky exit moves guarding the chains. I found these moves desparate to link from the floor and it took many redpoints before I felt it was within my grasp.
How much longer are you out there for?
I fly back on Tuesday morning from Portland so I only have one more day left, sadly. All good things come to an end and I've had a good run here over the last 6 weeks! I'm psyched to get stuck into the UK scene again as I feel I've missed a good chunk of it already this spring!
What's next for you?
I have some unfinished business at Kilnsey from last year, Progress 8c+ and Dalliance 8b+, both excellent routes. I'm also keen to give Neil Gresham's 8c+, Sabotage at Malham a go soon. There is also Evolution at the Tor to try when it cools down in the autumn. Plenty to be getting on with!
Watch Ted's ascent video below: