Fresh out and uncut, this video shows Cameron Hörst, 20, on the thuggery that is his hardest send in a short but concentrated lifetime of climbing: Bone Tomahawk, St. George, Utah.
Hörst’s send on May 23 was the fifth ascent of this 2016 Joe Kinder route, a 70-foot roof climb in the Fynn Cave. The second ascent was in 2018 by Jonathan “J Star” Siegrist, with Matty Hong and Ben Spannuth climbing the route next. (Note: No women have climbed it … yet. We can’t wait to see that happen.)
Hörst is currently completing a two-year climbing “gap period” between high school and college. He tells us in an email: “My goal for my gap year(s) was to send my first 5.15a/9a+ route. Covid initially got in the way because my goal routes were mostly in Europe. Nonetheless … After about six weeks and 15 days of effort on the route I finally sent my first 5.15a!”
Bone Tomahawk was harder “by far” than anything he has ever done, requiring “a new level of commitment … to a degree of obsession,” as he wrote on Instagram at the time. In his post he thanked Kinder, his “partner & mentor,” who was there through the whole process.
Kinder tells us in an email: “I did my best to offer him advice and insight with my experience on the climb and my experience with long-term projecting. I tried not to give any advice too starkly as I wanted him to be able to interpret and navigate a way that was best for him.” He calls Hörst “an absolute joy to climb with”—thoughtful and calm, an easy presence. “When he sent I was super proud of him.”
Cameron Hörst, who grew up in a climbing family in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, has done some 50 5.14s including the short and ferocious Lungfish (5.14b) at Rifle as well as Genetic Drifter (5.14c) and Moonshine (5.14d), both at Wild Iris, Wyoming. His parents are Lisa (a lifelong climber and former golf pro) and Eric (climbing coach and author of books including Training for Climbing and the classic How to Climb 5.12) Hörst; Cameron’s brother, Jonathan, age 18, is a hard climber as well. Cameron did his first 5.13 at age 9.
Kinder, a prolific new router, originally took some 35 days over six years to do Bone Tomahawk, and gave it a slash grade of 5.14d/15a, saying at the time that the route might be “a normal 9a [5.14d] or a 9a+ [5.15a], but hell…. I don’t know and don’t want to state anything I’m not comfortable with.” Siegrist, who at the time of his ascent had recently done 10 5.14d’s, called the higher grade accurate, and Hörst agrees. Hong and Spannuth went with 9a /5.14d.
The climbing website 8a.nu wrote, “The FA Joe Kinder graded it 9a+ [5.15a] and in total it has five ascents out of which three have thought it is a 9a+.”
At the time of his ascent, Kinder had done about 200 5.14s, and this route was his hardest yet.
Cameron Hörst will begin at Pennsylvanian State University, to study kinesiology, in the fall. “For the time being I will be able to do school online,” he tells us. “So this fall I hope to finally make it to Europe to climb!”
He has been there before, at age 14 with his family to the Frankenjura, then at 17 on another family trip, to the Frankenjura again, Céüse and various crags in Italy and Switzerland.
When asked, he says, “In Europe I’m most interested in getting back to the Frankenjura to do Action Directe. That route has always been on my bucket list! …. Also, it has been a goal/dream of mine to climb in Spain. Specifically Margalef. The style of climbing there (steep, powerful moves on pockets) is what I am best at. I feel like that area is a place I can definitely excel and climb my hardest!”
Says Kinder, “I see Cam going super far with his climbing. He’s focused … very devoted and eager to progress, which is really all you need to grow. When Cameron sets his sights on a certain climb, I consider it done.”