Joe Kinder - Fully Equipped

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


By: Joe Kinder

We returned to our winter hub in Hurricane, Utah for the third year in a row. I was psyched to have bought a new drill over Christmas and could not wait to use it. Doors opened to new cliffs, new routes went up, and the area’s growth was added to. The most empowering and satisfying endeavor I have been a part of in the last year has been putting up new routes. It’s different than climbing a hard project and way more of a laborious effort. But the end product is forever. As well, it’s a timeless experience for many people to have in the future. It costs a lot of money and there aren’t sponsors that work with route equippers so it simply turns in to a selfless job. I like this.

The way I look at a climbing area is slightly different now. The first thing I notice is what has not been equipped and if there is a path of holds. Chris Sharma kept telling me that half the time you cannot see all the features and holds from the ground. Rappelling off and getting the birds-eye view is necessary half the time. And then when you do see the pathway of holds it’s like a gate just opened. I had this experience in Southern Utah a few times where I was almost positive there weren’t holds… After rapping down and freaking out with excitement bolts were put in. Low and behold there are now immaculate and difficult projects to climb next year and forever.

I have now moved on from Southern Utah due to the invasive and intolerable heat of the desert. The road is open and I have a few plans involving new cliff development in Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado. Western Utah holds some amazing mountain ranges with limestone caves and actually some of the largest spelunking adventures in the West. Exploring in the USA can be a disappointment sometimes as you get a lot of the “incredible shrinking cliff” syndrome; you see a nice looking cave from afar and as you walk up to it the wall ends up being no more than 15 feet tall…. UGH! But without this searching Tommy Caldwell wouldn’t have found walls like the Fortress of Solitude in Colorado, or without Todd Perkins, Bill Orhan and Casey we wouldn’t have the new crags in Southern Utah. With my new motivation for discovering new lines and bolting new routes I have also become a part of the search for those hidden gems. 

There is also Tensleep, Wyoming that holds some of the nicest vertical limestone around. I am venturing up there in the next week or so. From what I have been told it sounds like a clean slate, a blank canvas, a place where you can spend a lifetime bolting and climbing and never get bored. WOW!!! I am really excited for this trip, so stand by on how this place turns out. The summer time can be challenge with conditions and chasing cool temperatures so I move around so often. I am a very lucky person to have the life I do and bolting routes and actually being psyched on the work is a major plus. This is my way of giving back. This is one of my most creative outlets right now and I love it.

For anyone interested in putting up routes I say GO for it. But learn to do it the right way; learn how to use the proper hardware in the stone you are working with. Ask questions and obtain information from someone who can provide the best answers. Be aware of bolting bans and places that may require permits or are on private property. Also be conscience of route history and make sure you’re not bolting something that has already been climbed or can be climbed using natural protection. Bolting new routes is a very gratifying game and I would love to see more people doing it.

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