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Conversations with Climbers: Getting Shut Down

Pro climbers answering climbing questions.

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What is the “easiest” route or problem that has shut you down?

Heidi Wirtz

Umph Slot [The Dome, Boulder Canyon], the hardest 5.8 on the planet. Took me off guard as it is most definitely not 5.8.

Mike Libecki

Moby Dick (5.10a), Yosemite. Back when I lived in Yosemite 20+ years ago, I was moving onto the 5.11/5.12 circuit after all my 5.10 training. I had not done Moby Dick yet, When I finally went to do it, I took my first 25+ foot, upside-down fall.”

John Dickey

The lower 5.9 variation to Nutcracker. Fell off it soloing when it was wet, obviously I caught myself but never went back.

Chris Weidner

“A decade or so ago I got shut down on Left Torpedo Tube (5.10d) in Vedauwoo—an overhanging offwidth/layback type crack. It’s awesome, but wow I got spanked. It was one of only a couple of times I’ve whipped onto a Big Bro, and it held despite the slightly flared crack! By Gully (5.9+) at Castle Rock (another OW) in Boulder Canyon took me several attempts to redpoint over more than one day. I actually projected this thing simultaneously with its next-door neighbor, Deadline (13d). I’m pretty sure I sent By Gully first, but I’d have to check my journal to be sure.”

Nina Williams

“The Womb aka A Birthing Experience (V1) in Bishop took me three separate trips to figure out. Initial Friction (V1) in Yosemite also took me quite a few goes.”

Will Stanhope

“When my buddy Jason Kruk and I were fresh out of high school we tried to climb the Salathé Wall on El Capitan. It was our first bid on the Captain. I got horribly stuck on the Hollow Flake pitch with every piece of gear we collectively owned. I was oozing out of the chimney and thought I was going to die. Ammon McNeely was on the aid horror show Jolly Roger nearby and was drinking King Cobras, flying his pirate flag, and hollering pirate stuff. I slithered back to the belay teary-eyed. We retreated to the valley floor to procure Cobras (evidently hard-man sauce) with my fake ID. It worked… kinda. Later that autumn we climbed the Nose in a 27 hour push with friends Craig McGee and Jeremy Blumel.”

Sonnie Trotter

“The easiest climb I’ve ever been shut down on is probably like a slabby V0 in Font.”

Jon Glassberg

“Just about every climb in Fontainebleau has made me feel like I suck at climbing. There are tons of climbs there that I struggle on or don’t send that 75-year-old French dudes float up like it’s a walk in the park.”

Cedar Wright

“The pink route at the gym. Screw that problem. V3 my ass!”

Read more Conversations with Climbers.