Superhighballer: California climber nabs his first “solo”…just don’t tell his mother
Forty feet high with no rope, no belayer, and only one decent hold—a left-foot nubbing. No problem for 23-year-old Kevin Jorgeson, who just nabbed the first ascent of Footprints (V9 or E6?), on the North Face of Grandpa Peabody just outside Bishop, California. The California-native, who is notorious for big FAs on highball boulders, considers this FA his first “solo” achievement.
On November 3, 2007, after meticulously cleaning and practicing the 40 plus-foot-high slab crux on rappel, Jorgeson assembled a slew of crashpads and spotters to witness his crowning achievement…or his possible demise. “Everyone was very concerned,” Jorgenson told Climbing in an email. “You would NOT walk away from a fall from this crux.”
With his arms spread wide and his weight balanced on a single foothold, Jorgeson delicately stepped through with his right foot to a thin toe-lock, shifting his weight and standing up to more smearing, which eventually gave way to better handholds. Jorgeson scrambled up the last few feet of the climb victorious. The opening sequence of the climb, though close to the ground and safe, clocks in at V8/9.
Earlier this year, Jorgeson grabbed the FA of the 35-foot Bardini Boulder problem The Beautiful and Damned (V13) and completed Evilution (V12). Other FAs include Flight of the Bumblebee (V9), now thought to be V9 with its crux at 35 feet.
For Jorgeson, the aesthetics, location and movement required by the problems are what attract him to these highball boulders. “For me, it takes a combination of all three for me to justify the risk involved,” Jorgeson said. The attraction stems from Jorgeson’s first encounter with the Buttermilk boulders. After a full day of climbing, Jorgeson decided to cool down with a 25-foot climb on the Southwest Arête of the Grandma Peabody. “I remember looking around at the Buttermilks from a perspective that I had never experienced before and coming to appreciate it even more,” Jorgeson says. “I have made it a tradition to climb that arête every time I go to Bishop now.”
Date of Ascent: November 3, 2007
Source: Kevin Jorgeson