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Jamie Emerson is not strong. Explain why this statement is true/false.I wouldn’t consider myself a strong climber. I think America is far behind the world standard — myself included. I feel like the attitude in America, right now, is that V12s and V13s are hard boulder problems. I think it is really nothing to climb a problem of that grade!!! And I am not talking about some newly established, overgraded sit start. I am talking about things like Nagual, No More Greener Grass, Spectre, etc. We should really be talking about flashing these problems. The strongest climbers in the world are establishing problems that are truly in the V15 — or even V16 — range. These problems are hard. I tend to think that most Americans haven’t heard of problems like Entlinge, Call of the Wild, Madiba, Hydrangea, or The Story of Two Worlds. It seems like these problems represent the cutting edge, or what Gill would call B3 [B3 represents a boulder problem capable of being climbed by one person, and represents the highest of difficulty standards].
What climber from the beginning has inspired you the most?I actually saw a presentation by Todd Skinner eight years ago, at Michigan State. I was blown away by his motivation and enthusiasm. I really felt a connection. It is so sad that he passed away recently. Our meeting was so brief, yet his impact will last a lifetime. I wish I could have had the opportunity to thank him.
Is Jamie Emerson a climber or a boulderer?Boulderer is a label, but what I do is climb on rocks. I see no difference. It’s funny when traditional climbers say things like “he’s just a boulderer” or “bouldering is just practiced climbing.” I see no distinction. Practice makes perfect.
What’s the most important skill to have, as a boulderer?There are so many things that can make someone a good boulderer. I think that one of the best skills to have is being well-rounded. It is sick to be a master at a certain level. It’s like being a wizard! It is certainly impressive if someone climbs a V12, but I am more impressed by someone that can go to any area and climb at that level on all kinds of rock and in all styles.
How have you approached your own climbing to reflect this philosophy?When I think about what my next projects are going to be, this is a big part of it. I think it is awesome to be able to say that I’ve climbed 8A [V11] on sandstone, granite, gneiss, etc., and in all different styles (i.e., pockets, crimps, arêtes, roofs, slopers, etc.). When I travel it just opens up my options to climb as many amazing problems as possible. Of course, I will do things that fit me, but I think I have developed more as a climber by trying things that don’t fit my style. Climbing is really an art for me so I feel like I want to express myself in as many mediums as I possibly can. Traveling is essential to this.
Who are world class climbers today?Obviously, climbing has become very specialized in today, so I will only talk about boulderers. We are really talking about a handful of people that are setting the standard. I think that Dave Graham, Chris Sharma, Dai Koyomada, Fred Nicole, and perhaps John Gaskins fall into this category. Daniel Woods is there, too, and I think in the next year he will have a chance to show the world.
Who do you think is the strongest female climber in the United States?Of course, my opinion is biased, but I would go with Angie Payne. I don’t think any other woman has climbed as many hard problems outside in the last few years as she has. She has also been a fairly dominant force in competition climbing, as well, having won several PCAs, three ABS Nationals, and a Sendfest in the last few years.
Do you train?I just train by trying to exploit my weaknesses, climbing with stronger climbers, and trying as hard as I can. Climbing with Paul Robinson, Daniel Woods, Ty Landman and Seth (Allred) has done so much for helping me realize my full potential. I think I push myself harder physically, when I climb with stronger climbers.
Can you balance a professional life (i.e., have a “real” job) and climb at an elite level?All you need is two hours every day and a steep wall with poor holds to climb hard. More and more, “professional” climbers will need to focus their energy on self-promotion, and that will take up time.
When is the best time to try your project?The importance of good conditions cannot be over emphasized. Although I climb in horrible conditions all the time, it seems like stuff goes down when the weather gets cold. I would say the best conditions would be cloudy, breezy, and about 35 degrees F.
What happens when you become too old to climb at the level you’re climbing at now?The great thing about climbing is that no matter what your ability, it seems there is always a challenge. This is one of the most interesting aspects of the sport. I love the idea of moving to an area like the South where you could climb on amazing moderates until you are very very old.
What’s up with Hueco?Hueco is still one of the best areas in the country. I don’t think there is another area in the states with more amazing problems than Hueco. Every time I go back, I seem to discover new things. I was there recently and climbed some amazing problems like Crown of Aragorn (V13) [coloradoclimbs.com/ jecrown.mov], El Techo de los Tres B (V13), and Full Monty (V12). What a great mix of the old school and the new school! Three totally different styles and three classic boulders. Hueco is so cool, because these problems are just as amazing as the moderates like Jingus Bells, Melon Patch, and Crash Test Dummy. I always love to go to Hueco. There is so much to do there. El Paso is crazy, and there are so many motivated people.
You were there for five days recently?Yeah, it was a pretty quick trip. It seems like if you have the power you can climb a lot of problems there quickly.
How about Hueco II?I went there with some friends last year. It is one of the most amazing looking areas I have ever seen. Thousands of boulders. We didn’t get to have a closer look, unfortunately. Deputy Sheriff Bobby Jones made sure of that.
What area doesn’t get much attention that you are really psyched on?I am really psyched about the South. The rock is so good, and the people are so friendly! The woods are amazing down there. I think among strong climbers, there is the opinion that there aren’t hard problems down there, and so they aren’t interested in going. That’s too bad, because the climbing is so amazing! It’s too bad there is so much emphasis placed on climbing problems with big numbers attached to them, because people miss out on rad areas. I don’t understand that.
What’s the best V8 in the country?Well, here are some of the areas I have been to: Yosemite, Squamish, Bishop, Hueco, So-Ill, Rocktown, HP40, Joe’s, Ibex, and LCC. There are so many great problems at every area I’ve been to, but I haven’t been everywhere so I’ll just mention some problems — one from Colorado and one from somewhere else — that stand out in my head. The Nothing at Mount Evans, CO: 30 feet tall, proud, and an amazing setting. This could be the best V8 in the country.
At Joe’s Valley there is a new problem called The Wind Beneath. So good and tall!
The best V10?Whispers of Wisdom at Emerald Lake. Gorgeous. Sick overhang to a 40-foot slab. Perfect rock. This is the best V10 in Colorado, and as soon as it gets warm enough I am psyched to go finish this boulder. To those who haven’t topped out, but claim the ascent, I offer them a bowl of Invalid Salad! I recently went to Rocktown, and I climbed this incredible V10 called Golden Harvest. Joel Brady climbs it in the special features of Sessions. Perfect Sandstone! I love the South! God Module is incredible as well, but maybe that is V11. Those problems are just sick!!!
How about the best V12?Riddles in the Park is really cool. What an amazing line! I found this problem early this year, had the vision, and chalked and cleaned it. I did a cool stand start and then the snow melted and lower holds were found and I haven’t gone back to get the sit start yet. Also No More Greener Grass! So classic. For sure the best hard problem at Mount Evans. I’m not sure if they call Michael Jordan in So-Ill V12 or not, but that thing is ridiculous. Nice job on that one, Gomez [Luke Parady]. Not to mention Full Monty, the Dominator … the list goes on and on.
JE and friends in Hueco.Photo by Wade David
Who is a climber we should watch out for?Again, I think Daniel Woods is really about to take things to another level. I climb with him three days a week in a small gym in Boulder called CATS, and it is really incredible what he does on a nightly basis. He has done almost every V14 in America. I am certain that if he stays motivated, he will climb the hardest problems in the world, in the next few years. It is really inspiring to watch him climb. He has so much power!
Do you have sponsors?FiveTen gets me shoes, and they are awesome. I know there are problems that I couldn’t have done with out the V10s or the Dragons. Organic makes the best pads in the world. I also get holds for comps from E-Grips.
Jamie’s 20 Truths
1. In five years … I will be climbing stronger. 2. The strongest climber in the world is … Daniel Woods. 3. In 20 years … climbing will be professional. 4. My favorite kind of rock is … gneiss. 5. Tyler Landman is … getting the undercut. 6. Paul Robinson is … surfing 8a. 7. Daniel Woods is … talking on the phone with Laura. 8. Jamie Emerson is … psyched. 9. The best gym in the country is … CATS. 10. It’s monday. If the world ended on Friday, I would … go home. 11. Boulder reminds me of … a country club. 12. The perfect boulder problem is … not in Colorado. 13. When I’m 50 years old … I want to be in good health. 14. Before I’m 40 years old … I want to have some money. 15. Jamie never … quits. 16. Jamie always … tries hard. 17. Jamie sends … when he wants to. 18. If Jamie Emerson were an animal he would be … a human, because he is. 19. Last year I climbed … 247 days. 20. Who’s stronger: Sharma or Graham? … It doesn’t matter. Daniel is stronger than both of them.
To read more about Jamie’s climbing, visit B3Bouldering.com.