Matt Segal Interview – Friday, July 11, 2008
Editors note: On July 9, 2008, Matt Segal freed the Orangutan Roof (A2) on Independence Pass, Colorado. “The route definitely felt like 5.14- compared to the other difficult traditional lines I have recently repeated,” said Segal. “Since it is a crack climb, it’s very hand and finger size dependent.” The Orangutan is located at about 9000 feet and is by far the hardest crack climb on the Pass. “It turned out to be a test of power endurance,” said Segal. “I spent seven days working the 25-move climb.”
For more information on Matt Segal visit: www.thenorthface.com
Matt Segal made climbing history with his first free ascent of Iron Monkey, Eldo’s hardest traditional route to date. Lately, Matt’s been climbing up a storm, bringing fresh ambition to the trad world, plus a little attitude. We met up for a morning interview at the Trident, Boulder’s favorite Buddhist-owned cafe/office. The next day he sent his project up at Independence Pass near Aspen. What’s next? Only at P&C, this Miami compkid turned stonemonkey tradster comes clean about ethics, the Czech and his love life.
C-note: Congrats on sending your project. What’s it like?
Matt: It’s pretty rad. It’s a really varied roof crack that’s got slopers, finger locks, fist jams, underclings, toe jams. And it’s hard, which I like. The crux is the endurance factor and placing gear. I’d say it’s 14 minus.
C-note: What are you gonna call it?
Matt: It was an old aid line, The Orangutang Roof, so for now, Orangutang…aka ADOO-ZEE.
C-note: What’s next?
Matt: I’m leaving in a couple days to meet up with Ethan Pringle, teachin’ homey how to trad climb! Eric Decaria taught me how to trad climb, in his own unique way of teaching and not teaching. Now Ethan and I are gonna try The Path.
C-note: The Path?
Matt: Sonnie Trotter’s route. He’s like the Canadian poster boy for climbing.
C-note: Do you guys get along?
Matt: Yeah, we do for sure. We were wasted at like one in the afternoon the other day—me, him and Will Stanhope were bouldering and shit, soloing the buildings. It was like a reunion. Sonnie and I climb a bunch together.
C-note: I like Canadians.
Matt: I like Canada. Then I’m going to England with Kevin Jorgeson and Alex Honold. It’s like Team America goes to England. Those two kids are really talented climbers. Alex freesoloes 5.12 plus big walls and Kevin boulders V14. It’s like, who, those guys are bitchin’.
C-note: You’ve recently returned from the Czech Republic—it’s pretty rugged there, no?
Matt: The Czech was one of the more different cragging experiences I’ve ever had. The most humbling but also odd. We just jumped into a climbing culture that entailed a lot of drinking and not a lot of climbing. We all wondered what came first, the drinking or the scary climbing.
C-note: Why so scary?
Matt: No metal cams or nuts are allowed, so you tie knots in ropes and put them in cracks.
Matt: We didn’t use chalk either. You’re not allowed to use chalk on the rock.
Matt: The no chalk thing is an aesthetic thing. People think it’s abrasive to the eye. The no metal gear thing, I’m calling bullshit, they say the rock is too soft. I’m sure it has something to do with that, maybe Communism, too.
C-note: How’s that mesh with your sense of ethics?
Matt: It kinda flipped ‘em all around. I mean the way old school ethic is to climb barefoot.
C-note: Damn hippies…
Matt: I look at climbing ethics more on a spectrum now. On one side you have barefoot, solo, ropeless and chalkless. On the other you have over-bolted, stealth rubber knee pad wearin’, you know, the full on ordeal.
C-note: Is it boring to talk about ethics?
Matt: It’s hard to talk about ‘cuz it’s a gray area. The bottom line is how you walk up to a wall and climb it. I’m obviously not gonna manufacture any holds. But I still wanna climb hard. There are certain golden rules I follow. Every route deserves its own stylistic, ethical approach.
To finish this interview with Matt Segal visit: pimpinandcrimpin.com