May 16, 2010 George Foster

Darks Horses No.1

Feeling a little ‘low’ and uninspired? Want to live vicariously through other, more talented people? Not as strong/bold/French as you’d like? Unable to pass urine without wincing? Brother’s. Sister’s. I feel your pain!

If, like me, you want all of the above but just don’t know how to get it may i suggest reading on? For the next few weeks i shall run a series of mini-articles, odes if you will, comparable to the great Viking and Saxon Sagas of Erik the Red and Beowulf. Great heroes and warriors will be spoken of, their stories enriched within such hallowed tomes and blah blah blah……….in other words i’m gonna embarrass a few mates of mine who have been kind of enough to answer some questions that i sent out to them one cold night in May.

First up……….Dom Kehoe a self-confessed ‘hidden donkey’, my best climbing partner from uni (gaaaaaaaaayyyy), author of an ace blog detailing his goal to climb the magic 8a grade…..and a jolly good chap, what!?

1. Hows the 8a coming along? Found one to project yet?
I’m still hoping to climb 8a, hopefully sooner rather than later as I feel I might just plateau below the magic grade. A route that I’ve had my eye on for a while is an 8a at Little Si called Chronic (see pic below – courtesy of Mr M Humphreys), its pure endurance, it starts out about V3-V4 and doesn’t let up for 12 bolts or so. I got on it a couple of weeks ago to feel it out and it feels hard. To be honest I’m not that psyched on it right now but I maybe I just need to get a bit fitter and make some links on it. I’m always on the look out for other contenders though, but I want my first one to be proud, not some holiday tick so to speak.

2. You’ve improved massively since moving to the US, why do you think this is?
Yea I went from my hardest redpoint going up from 7a+ to 7c in about a year when I moved out here 4 years ago, I think its down to 2 main things: 1) having a crew to climb with that were at a similar level to me to help with psyche and 2) having a lot more choice for hard sport climbing, there is a lot of rock around here, and most of it is bolted so there is always plenty of stuff to hop on. It seemed to me that back home in Scotland there wasn’t a ton of hard stuff or even moderate stuff that was bolted to train on, so more often than not if I wanted to get on harder routes I’d find myself on some pretty sketchy stuff cause of the bolting ethic.

3. Anything you miss about the UK? Ethics? Style? Diversity?
There’s tons I miss about the UK, the fact that you can climb on a nice day in the winter, here it buckets down Nov-Feb, so there’s no chance of dry rock unless your willing to drive for days. And although I complain about the lack of good sport crags there, there is some great trad. Here it seems that unless its a splitter crack the whole way there will be bolts. I’m not a big fan of mixed trad/bolt routes which there’s a lot of here, it just doesn’t feel right.
4. How do you feel the US scene/approach differs/compares to the UK?
I feel there are a lot more climbers over here, but the scene seems a bit fake. There’s a lot of poser climbers that turn up to the crag with their Arcteryx and Patagonia gear and $100 sunnies, and dont really climb. I’m not saying there aren’t those types back home, but I think they’re a lot more common here. Also because there’s more climbers the crags are a lot more ‘developed’. The first place I climbed here was on private property and I had to sign a waiver to climb there. The second place I went there was a huge parking lot and porta-potties everywhere, I ended up climbing a route that right next the foundation of a bridge so the route was half rock half concrete, it was bizzare, you’d never find something like that back home. Some places you have to pay to park, but it doesn’t deter the crowds – just turn up to Smith on any weekend and you’ll be queuing more than climbing.

5. You seem to be getting back into trad after a while out of it, why now?
I go back and forth between trad, sport and bouldering, it keeps it interesting. I’m hoping to do more trad routes over the summer in Leavenworth and Squamish, but I scared myself on some really easy stuff a couple of weeks ago so it’ll take me a while to build up my confidence, but that’s what bolt-clipping will do to you. I’m definitely not nearly as bold as I used to be. I’ve got to be careful not to hurt myself climbing cause i don’t have health insurance so one emergency room trip could bankrupt me. But I’m hoping by the end of the summer I might be onsighting 5.11 trad (E4ish) and maybe 5.12 redpoint (E5 or 6 perhaps), thats the goal anyway.

6. Any plans to use your bouldering/sport strength to come back over here and tear it up?
I’ll definitely be back in the UK to visit, and want to check out more crags there, but I don’t think I’ll be tearing it up. We’ll see though, maybe you can point me in the direction of some soft touch E5’s and 6’s, you seem to know all about them. (George – I have no idea what he’s talking about……….)

7. What style of climbing are you most into now/what do you want to pursue long term?
Right now I’m enjoying sport and getting a lot of quantity in, already in 2010 I’ve done over 100 routes, but like I say I like to mix it up, I’ll probably get more into redpointing and trad in the summer, then maybe back to bouldering in the fall. I see that becoming a trend. I really just like getting a lot of climbing in, long term I’d be happy if I can get a couple of hundred routes in each year, but I guess I might run out eventually.

8. What are you goals for the next few years? Any more big trips planned?
My main goal for the next few years is to finish up my masters degree, get a good teaching job somewhere near some climbing, then taking the summers off every year to climb. I’m always thinking about climbing trips, I’d like to explore more of the US, places like Utah, Colorado, maybe the south. But I’m also keen to get back on some Euro limestone, swiss bouldering perhaps, rocklands?

9. How much do you train (if at all) and how?
I’ve never really been much into training. Seems like whenever I try I end up injured. My philosophy is the best way to train to climb is just to climb. I think getting in quantity outdoors not only keeps your fitness up, but it helps with your familiarity on rock.

10. Favourite US and overseas destinations and why?
Ooh thats a tough one, it seems like every place I visit I fall in love with. Over here I love Bishop for bouldering and for its beauty. Squamish is great cause its got something for everyone, from bouldering to bolt-clipping to awesome multi-pitch trad. Overseas, Font has got to be the most chill place I’ve ever climbed, I’d love to get back there. Kalymnos is a sport-climbers paradise, the perfect holiday destination. And Ceuse is great for an intense full-on sport climbing experience, going there is definitely not a holiday. Its hard to narrow it down more than that.

So there you have it, more next time………Thanks very much Dom!

Comment (1)

  1. Fucking top notch interview!
    I climb with Dom all the time and didn’t even know all that stuff. (course I never really asked either, always too busy saying: ‘Dom climb this, and Dom spot me on this, and Dom get your finger out of your nose, and what’s that smell?’)

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