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Hello Hello Hello  

FRB Archived interview
Justin Jaeger - early June, 2003

Justin Jaeger Justin Jaeger Justin Jaeger Justin Jaeger Justin Jaeger

FRB: What brings you to the Front Range Justin?

JJ: I grew up with skiing as a huge part of my life and always wanted to go to school in Boulder to join their mogul team. I had a major knee injury just as I was applying for college and the doctor thought I would not be able to ski with the same intensity ever again…I decided to choose a smaller school that offered an academic system more in tune with my learning style: Denison University in Ohio. The drive to live out west never faded though so I decided to choose a Colorado school for my legal studies. I now go to the University of Denver since my last-minute decision to take, and lax attitude towards the LSAT made my chances of getting into Boulder a joke at best. Regardless, rest assured I didn't come to Colorado to study with extreme seriousness and they haven't kicked me out yet.

FRB: How did you get into climbing Justin?

JJ: The idea of rock climbing always enthralled me. I remember scraping around on evil death slab boulders in the Adirondacks at camp as a kid-Vans and Etnies stuck the best. Really, I started seriously climbing when on a semester abroad in New Zealand while in college. My roommate was a trad monkey and was fairly complacent and soon set up a top rope at the Auckland Quarry for me to cut my teeth. I had scurried up climbing walls a few times before, but my first taste of real rock did me in, immediately. Though I sucked, I felt like I had a lot of potential for improvement. I used to get tossed around in high school lacrosse by hairless apes and felt like I couldn't succeed without more mass…individual sports seemed to transcend size issues, so I gravitated towards them. I was really sick of coaches telling me I had the technical skill, but couldn't expect to start because of my midget-ude. My first real climb sparked this feeling of transcendence. It sounds stupid, but I felt powerful for the first time since my best days of mogul competition-it was intoxicating. I soon spent my meager life's savings on gear.

FRB: Who do you boulder with usually?

JJ: The regular crew is always in flux with everyone's ridiculous schedule, (especially mine), but I've really enjoyed hanging out with (in chronology) Chris Ticknor, Chris Rogers, Brad Dean, Prairie Neeley, Steve (meanest dude in the Front Range), Jeff Bates, Josh Finkelstein, Chip Phillips, Jonah, Mike Capazzi, Dan Dunbar, etc. Also, punks like Jack Baum and Brent Ng have been cool to hang out, even if they don't climb much anymore. My good friends from the Buffalo area and Utah transplants cannot be left out either-George, Lincoln, Jim, Rachel, Scott, Erik, Sarah, Andy, Ian, Luke Cudney, etc.-you'll see them soon on a slide show, if I ever get my film developed.

Point is: there are a bunch of folks out there who've let me tag along and put up with my whining enough to make climbing such a source of solace. Thank you everyone.

FRB: How often do you climb?

JJ: Last summer I was only limited by my own motivation and finger skin regeneration, but I have had to tone down my commando sessions to about 2 or 3 a week while the semesters are rolling along. I'm hoping to climb at least 3 days a week this summer. Maybe someone can help me get laid off so I can up that number.

FRB: Why bouldering instead of trad or sport or mixed?

JJ: When I really push myself, I am almost completely inept at taking care of the little annoyances of roped climbing: clipping, resting (including finding knee bars!), placing gear, chalking up, not stepping on the rope, etc. I usually back clip or try to clip at the worst possible position, get pumped, and take a screamer. Also, I have a certain lack of climbing stamina that doesn't jive with long climbs. I have begun to really enjoy easier traditional climbs, however. I am not to the point where I would really push myself in difficulty, since the easy climbs are terrifying enough. I like the concept of long climbs that never really tax you and the onsight-only format avoids the intense, nausea inducing boredom of working out sport climbs. Maybe my aversion is due to our ADD culture that demands instant gratification without real diligent work…but I'd rather walk a two-mile uphill approach over and over to work a captivating problem that work out the sequence to a long roadside sport climb. Remember though: one may sometimes find fault with things and people they cannot do.

FRB: Where are some of your favorite places
          to climb/boulder?

JJ: I'm a huge devotee of the Satellites and am willing to repeat problems up there until the next ice age. Otherwise, I really like the atmosphere at Arthur's Rock, Lumpy Ridge, RMNP, Camp Dick (minus the ATVs), Carter Lake in winter, and the Millennium Block. Also, I always have an unexpectedly good time at Flagstaff on every visit, and I cannot forget the personally-cliché Niagara Glen. Perhaps due to home pride, but despite the mosquitoes and humidity, the Glen has the greatest density of problems that really interest me, save only for Hueco. That said, I've still a lot of areas to visit-In the Front, I'm particularly interested in exploring Ute Pass, more of the Poudre, and so on.

FRB: What hard problems have you sent
          in the Front Range?

JJ: 'Hard' is a bit too subjective, especially here, but the following are among those I'm proudest of: Just Right (Flag), Hollow's Way (Flag), Turning Point (Satellites), Captain Hook (Satellites), Grundel City Boy (Satellites; before and after breaking), Hunting Humans (Ghetto), Last Overhang (Flag), Ode to Failure (Arthur's), Crime and Punishment (Big Elk; ugly but good), Dynoman (Carter), Charger (keep posted for info!), Babyface (Hueco), Life O'Rielly sds (Glen), Resident Evil (Joe's Valley), Blah, Blah, Blah…You can check my scorecard if you actually care (don't mind the blatant up-rating and overly positive spray!)

There's a bunch I consider hard, and I usually feel somewhat proud and reverent of any send that really requires me to think and feel out the moves-whether a festering pile of choss or seeping grease pile. Ugly climbs need love too, I suppose.

FRB: Do you have any favorite problems or
          ones that you thought were incredible?

JJ: I'd pretty much repeat the above list, but Kahuna Roof (Carter), the Extension Block's West Face (Carter), Sloper Chief (Carter), Godzilla (Arthur's), Black Arête (Sacred Cliffs), Original Grapple (Satellites), Elysium Arête (keep posted), Mavericks (Clear Creek), Ghost Dance (Millennium), and Germ Free (Eldo) should not be missed in the Front Range.

Note: I haven't sent Mavericks, but after having popped from the top our to land literally flat on my back on a single pad, I have a certain sense of connection to it.

FRB: Is it true that you often get scared
          and fall off of V1's?

JJ: Particularly slabs. My ability to fall off problems is not limited by grade. I'm great at it throughout my range.

FRB: Is it true that you tripped on a very small root after
          sending one of your hardest problems and
          almost broke your nose?

JJ: I also can hardly talk coherently or see straight after exerting myself. Cool, huh?

FRB: Do you have any projects right now?

JJ: Every problem not listed above is a project, almost literally. Those I would claim to be close to with a straight face include Meatrope (Carter), Flesh Fest (Satellites), Caddis (Boulder Canyon), the defamed Black Ice (Fern Canyon), Gang Bang (Chaos), No Substance (Joe's), Two Finger (Joe's), Fingerhut (Joe's), Here Comes Sickness (Eldo), Left Angry Man (Lumpy), the sit start to Cannibal Dance (Millennium), etc.

There's a crazy number of other problems that I'm working on, but I couldn't claim to be close to glory yet. Name one-I'm bound to be floundering on it.

FRB: Do you compete?

JJ: Generally not due to the entry fees and conflicting times, but I have a few times in the past and would like to compete more to hang out more with old friends and try to make new ones. The only Colorado comp I've been in was at Rockn n Jamn in 2001…I was doing horrible and was awe-stuck when Adam Stack, Emily Harrington, and Sarah (Paradise), as well as a few I don't now recognize, walked thorough my comp project as a warm up in rapid succession. Though I didn't know who anyone was at the time, I then decided that as a general rule, I was more apt to enjoy being a spectator to others prowess than demonstrate my own lack thereof.

FRB: What competitions have you won?

JJ: I've won many sweets-eating, rock-throwing, bad-wipeout, and similar competitions. Call the magazines. Also, I won a sporadically-held "Monkey Man" comp at the Niagara Climbing Center in New York. I walked away with a bunch of bananas, an inscribed hold I broke, and some chalk. The chalk was mainly to curtail my chalk-bandit/mooching while I was home for that Christmas break. The win should have gone to a badass climber named Ian Irving, but either my lack of ability at simple addition on my scorecard or his own holding back (to make me feel cool during my homecoming) allowed the win. (My suspicions were recently confirmed by visiting a number of FAs he put up around that time- I can't even smell the moves.)

FRB: What's it like developing as a boulderer
          in the Front Range?

JJ: It's a spoiled existence in which humidity, snow, rain, and lack of rock are very minimal factors relative to the rest of the country. Further, while the climbing scene is a little less close-knit than other regions, it is also less isolated since so many people climb; it seems like climbing is a great social tool to meet new people-most of which are very positive and supportive. It's pretty unusual in many areas to have a list of 50 million friends to call if you get a break in your schedule and want to climb. I dig it. Also, depending on one's personal tastes and willingness to climb at certain areas, there are so many different options that you can pick a place to fit your time budget or lack thereof. It's hell to not be able to go climbing when your hour and a half of free time is insufficient to drive out to some distant, only option, climbing area.

FRB: What are some things you don't like about
          the Front Range bouldering scene?

JJ: One downfall has been discussed a million times before: the great number of climbers per capita and their generally high level of ability creates a strange sense of elitism in which it's not enough to be a climber-that's not special-so one must be completely badass in some way. The efforts to attain this goal and resentment of falling short, though almost entirely within one's own mind, creates an underlying animosity between certain climbers. Most are positive, but those bitter climbers tend to be more outspoken. Granted, pushing oneself to climb harder does not necessarily or usually mean one becomes a bad person-the problem is deeper and more complex than that. The feeling can be found in the quick look of someone's eye or the tone of their voice, but is clear regardless of the subtlety. Regardless, most climbers are congenial and genuine; competitive negativity is the exception, not the rule.

Otherwise, while the west seems particularly fond of the huge landing-strip tick-mark, the sheer number of climbers in the Front Range doesn't impact the rock as significantly as some non-climbers, in my mind. Spray paint tagging seen in the east, for example, is far worse to me than residual chalk, erosion, etc .

FRB: Who are you sponsored by?

JJ: FrontRangeBouldering.com! I don't know what the technical stance of my 'sponsorship' really is, but I do appreciate the help I receive through FRB to keep Sportiva rubber on my feet. They're the only brand that, on the whole, works well for me and their involvement in the local community is pretty impressive. I'm also sponsored by the loan programs of the Federal Government, and most recently by Integrity Title (which employs me despite gross under-qualification). Oh yeah, I also get t-shirts from friends from Buffalo: Monkey Fist (East Coast Climbing Syndicate.)

FRB: What else do you do besides climb?

JJ: You sure ask a lot of questions. Are you a cop?

FRB: Just answer the question pal?

JJ: I still can carve a ski on water and snow. I fly fish a bit. I bike once every blue moon (despite a past devotion to BMX and mountain biking). I surf once every million years and progress in talent accordingly. I invent excuses for not sending. I start to read intellectually pretentious books, quit, then move on to Hunter Thompson, Vonnegut, or Abbey-like reads. I eat mint chocolate cookies and ice cream in ridiculous amounts. I play with dogs. I annoyingly write things with textual verbosity. I still love to play back-yard style football. I make doctor and car maintenance appointments, then break them. I contemplate the mysteries of the universe and women. I watch cartoons.

FRB: Favorite bouldering websites?

JJ: I'd have to say that I'm pretty incestuous with FRB-I check it most often to see what general calamities are going down, etc. Otherwise, I check the message board and new FAs at glenbouldering.com, and the FAs at climbingboulder.com. Though I can never get Quicktime to properly install on my computer, I really have enjoyed bouncing over to modump.com to check out their galleries and such. Further, to slightly contradict myself, I've also liked to read Lee's stories/articles on that site-though he's got way more to spray about and self-glorify himself with than I ('cause he's a wicked good climber), his writing is never egocentric and repetitive, like mine. It's a good change of pace! Finally, I'd have to say that weather.com is an essential climbing site and I've learned to be steadfast to climbing plans when only 'isolated' or 'scattered' thunderstorms are forecasted-take a jacket, but it's likely that you'll get some dry climbing in…otherwise, find a cave and take the opportunity to catch up with your friends.

FRB: How do you feel about chipping?

JJ: The classic FRB question! First, I unequivocally do not condone chipping. That said, I find it interesting that climbers self-impose stigma when living in a culture that has carved entire mountainsides to the likenesses of historical figures, visits large hydroelectric dams on vacation, considers motor sports 'outdoor' activities (not that throttle-jockeying is not fun), and so on. Obviously the natural ethics of climbers and the general American culture are distinguishable, but I have not yet been entirely disgusted with 'improvements' when I'm trying to stick to some desperate move. When I'm off the climb, it's easy to admonish chipping or gluing, but I've never complained when actually on the route-that's for sure! I've punched myself in the face when holds have broken, and I'm keen on avoiding it for now on. I find myself much more disgusted with trash and spray paint on the rocks, though I never feel as satisfied with finishing climbs that have been altered. I realize that trash is not permanent and the natural order is for problems to break, but I'd like to move away from the whole alteration debate concerning what has already been done. Importantly, climbers should not ever chip or glue in the future and new climbers should be instructed as such, but let's not spend our time being condescending to another's climbing accomplishments because of the lack of foresight of a route's developer years ago. Let people have their happiness, on whatever they personally choose to climb-I guess that's my only real point here.

FRB: Are you willing to stop blathering about yourself
          and end this interview?

JJ: Yes.

FRB: Thanks for the interview, Justin?

JJ: Thank You.

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