Interview: 2018 Psicobloc Winners Jimmy Webb and Hannah Tolson - Climbing Magazine

Interview: 2018 Psicobloc Winners Jimmy Webb and Hannah Tolson

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I caught up with the winners of 2018 Psicobloc Masters Series just after the men’s podium ceremony. Hannah Tolson, following three rounds of intense efforts over two days, had recovered a bit while watching the men compete. Jimmy Webb, teeth chattering from adrenaline and a post-swim chill, had just stepped down from the podium. Both were surrounded by a boisterous, beer-toting crowd of climbers and fans.

Hannah Tolson

Hannah Tolson psicobloc 2018 winner deep water solo rock climbing portrait

Hannah Tolson shortly after winning the 2018 Psicobloc Masters Series.

Congratulations! How does it feel to be Psicobloc Masters 2018 champion?

Hannah Tolson: It feels really amazing, super surreal. I had no idea coming into this comp that I would have any sort of a placement, let alone first.

How would you compare this experience to your 2015 Psicobloc experience?

This year I came in with less expectations. It was kind of a last minute thing. I thought, "Psico is coming up soon, maybe I should try again." And so I came into it looking to have a good time and try hard on some fun routes, and that’s what I did. And it kind of panned out for me [laughs].

Hannah Tolson psicobloc 2018 winner deep water solo rock climbing

Tolson climbs in the seeding round.

What sequence or move were you most anxious about on the finals route?

There’s a heel hook right in that big volume on this flat, bad hold. It’s not super hard, but it’s sketchy and a bad place to fall. There were several bad falls there. If you have the really high left heel hook and you fall, then your probably going to land on your back. That’s the move I was looking out for. I took an extra second, made sure my heel was really set.

And then, of course, the top. You’re really tired at the top, and you don’t want to get too pumped and not be able to finish the route.

Do you like the head-to-head format? Does it change how you climb?

Definitely. It pushes me. I was climbing against some really, really strong girls, and everyone I went head to head with had previously topped with pretty good speed. I knew I had to bring it. It makes me better though, because I’m really competitive.

Hannah Tolson psicobloc 2018 winner deep water solo rock climbing

Tolson warms up before the finals round.

How scary is it really to jump off the top?

It’s really scary when there isn’t a crowd. It’s much more intimidating in practice and in qualifiers when you don’t have people cheering you on and hyping you up. When theres a crowd there’s a lot of energy, and you really want to do it for the crowd. It’s much scarier when there’s not a crowd because you think about it more.

Jimmy Webb

Jimmy Webb Portrait boulderer rock climbing dws psicobloc

Jimmy Webb shortly after winning the 2018 Psicobloc Masters Series.

Congratulations! How does it feel to be the 2018 Psicobloc champion?

Jimmy Webb: Feels great. I love coming here every year. The people are great, the climbing is always really fun, and it has a good vibe. It’s nerve-racking before, but now that it’s over I’m like [deep breath] "OK, I’m not nervous anymore, I’m not nervous anymore."  Now I just want to go climbing.

Have you raced Matty before? How did you feel going into Finals against him?

We were talking about that [whether we had raced before]. I don’t think so. I think this was a first.

I was psyched. Matty is a good friend of mine, an awesome climber, and a good guy. We both were just stoked, like "Let’s just have fun and see how it goes." He’s a great climber, and so I knew it would be a battle. It was really fun.

Jimmy Webb Psicobloc masters series 2018 deep water solo climbing

Webb climbs in an early Finals match.

How scary is it really to jump off the top?

You get used to jumping off the top. It’s not scary, so much as it just hurts. This year I only had one pair of shoes, and so I threw them off the top every time and jumped in bare feet. Every time it just got worse and worse. You gotta try to point your toes, tighten your core, put your arms at your side, but it’s hard. It’s a lot to think about.

Do you like the head-to-head format? Does it change how you climb?

Yeah, I think it gives you a sense of battle. You can always kind of see the other person in your peripheral vision. You can gauge how they’re doing, and that can take away from what you’re doing. But it can also give you that sense to say, "OK, I need to turn it on." It keeps you psyched and motivated to go faster.

Jimmy Webb Psicobloc masters series 2018 deep water solo climbing

A happy Webb dries off after winning a match in the seeding round.

What sequence or move were you most anxious about on the Finals route?

The middle, the big volume feature slowed everyone down a bit. If your feet slipped there you could take a bad fall. The dyno—any time you’re jumping through the air there’s small room for error—it’s kind of nerve-wracking, because if you slip off it’ll be a bad fall. You always get there and think "don’t mess it up."

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