"I don't think of myself as an adrenaline seeker; the rocks inspire me, says Matt Wilder of his November 2009 first ascent of Cheating Reality (5.14a R) on the monolithic Devils Thumb formation near Boulder, Colorado. Its about taking this high thing that could be dangerous and making it conducive to my abilities. Originally from Connecticut, Wilder, 31, today lives in Boulder, where hes working toward his PhD in computer science.
When hes not studying, you can find Wilder exploring, in search of new climbs. Known as an all-around strong climber, Wilder has many hard repeats to his name, including the first free onsight of Moonlight Buttress (5.12d) in Zion, Utah, and Evilution Direct (V11, 30 feet) in Bishop, California. Wilders also a climbing guidebook author he penned the most recent Hueco Tanks bouldering guidebook and a guide to bouldering in Yosemite Valley. Wilder made several proud sends in 2009/10: in addition to Cheating Reality, he FAd a new V12 in Hueco Tanks called Bandersnatch, sent three V14s, three V13s, redpointed The Fly (5.14d) in Rumney, New Hampshire, and sent The Path (5.14a/b R) in Canada.
What shoes do you dig for hard boulder problems like Bandersnatch? When Im looking at a climb, I think of what I have to do with my feet. For example, for sloping toe hooks, I need rubber on the toe. There was a lot of heel-hooking on Bandersnatch, so I used my Muira VSs. But a lot of times Ill put one shoe on one foot and a different shoe on the other foot. My go-to shoe is the La Sportiva Testarossa.
Whats your favorite portable soft spot (aka bouldering pad)? The Metolius Fat Bastard, because its reliable, wont bottom out, and is easy to carry. Gear Tip: dont keep stuff stored in your pad when not in use, as it can take away from the foam lifetime. Store taco-fold pads open, so you also dont crease the foam.
What motivates you to try difficult, possibly dangerous climbs like Cheating Reality? When I see something thats inspiring, Ive got to climb it. I see the aesthetics of the rock first the feature and the line; the purity of the line and position of the rock.
Whats been your scariest fall? Im pretty calculated on scary routes. One time when I was trying Iron Monkey [5.14, Eldorado Canyon, Colorado], I had placed a No. 8 Astro Nut at the crux. I must have taken like 20 whippers on it, and eventually the cable broke on one of my falls. Right below it was a blue TCU that ended up catching me. I was so close to hitting the slab below, and when I got down, I looked at the TCU and it was bent I was only caught by two lobes on the cam. But in general, Ive grown to trust small gear. I didnt trust the supersmall nut I placed on Cheating Reality, but it helped me psychologically.
Apparel, sleeping equipment, and backpacks: The North Face
Hardware: Metolius Climbing
Rock and approach shoes: La Sportiva