Here is a man who needs no introduction, mainly because if you are not deaf, and are a climber in NZ, you will have heard him introduce himself on numerous occasions, but I’ll endeavour to provide one anyway! He’s the human boom box with the hard climbing pipes to back it up, he graduated from the Beta-Sprayers university with full honours in smack talking, with a masters in bicep-flexing. He’s gym-owning, knee-barring, vegetable smashing, grade-whoring, 70s porn moustache toting, inappropriate comments at funerals, all guns firing, JAMES FIELD-MITCHELL!
|Date of birth||24/1/1983|
|Hardest route||31/32 (dragon breath)|
|Hardest boulder||V11 Air force one|
|Most memorable route/boulder||The replicant (first 8b)|
|Ape index||Spider monkey|
|Favourite area||Can’t decide|
|Biggest fall||Ground fall (10m) at a climbing gym|
|Most embarrassing nickname||Lady Penelope|
1) Describe yourself in five words or less
Total. Fucking. Awesomeness. Dot. Com.
2) How did you get into climbing?
My Bro… It was at Tetahi bay. I was as rubbish as the climbing there; that means real crapola.
3) Multi-choice #1
Who is the best boulderer in the universe:
A) Klem Loskot
B) John Gill
C) Fred Nicole
D) Dave Graham
E) John Gaskins
F) Ben Moon
G) Jim Holloway
H) An unholy combination of the above
Answer: It would be easy to say H, but that would be lame. I would have to say Big Fred, no one has laid it down for so long on that list than big Fred.
4) What keeps you motivated?
A good combination of: grade whoring; trying to burn off youngsters, and recently development of new crags.
5) What is your opinion of the current state of climbing in NZ?
It’s a layer cake. The base consists of burnt out has-beens’ trying to down grade everything because “it can’t be as hard as El Topo”. The filling is a mix of young and old trying to stamp their mark on whatever pile of rocks they can find and can normally be heard say “ This new crag is totally the future” even though the crag is likely a choss pile, a slab, or consists of a crap load of 22’s. Then there is the icing: “New Zealand’s go getters”. The icing consists of New Zealand’s wannabe elite who “don’t care about grades” have a blog or web site, or have “basically sent every route at the cave,” they climb for the beauty of the line and the movement… the movement all the way into the climber magazine! Finally there are the cherries on top. These select few are the climbers dispersed around our great country that go out there rip routes/ boulders a new one in whatever style they love but either can admit to their narcissistic ways, or just don’t have them.
New Zealand’s Layer cake
6) What training method/technique do you swear by?
Personally I am not gifted, so all this rubbish that just climb outside and you will get better I believe to be B.S. My main focus is hard outdoor climbing, but I need to train indoors as well as climb outside to complete my goals. I only train on a boulder wall (come to THE PROJECT). I learnt while in the US and Canada that everything you need to train is easy, faster, and more fun on a boulder wall. I use a combination of 4×4 power endurance circuits, hard bouldering, campus training and weights.
7) What piece of advice would you give to people wanting to improve their climbing?
That entirely depends on the person. I coach a lot in Auckland and everyone needs their own specific program. It could be they are really strong but lack route reading, and technique. In this case I would suggest climb outside as much as possible, onsite, work routes, practice, practice, practice. Someone who has all the technique in the world but no strength and wants to boulder, I would suggest a specific training program (both indoors, and out) focusing on increasing strength. I guess in short I suggest to climber to take a good hard look at yourself, identify your goals, and identify what you are weak at and work towards your goal, and fixing your weakness. If you only work your strengths you will eventually hit a wall that you cannot overcome.
8) Apart from kissing various parts of your own anatomy, how else do you spend your non-climbing time?
I flex various parts of my anatomy also; I look at myself in the mirror- usually I try to combine the previous two. Other than that I am a teacher so that takes up a lot of my time; I also coach people at my bouldering gym.
9) Multi choice #2
You’re at the movies with your woman friend and another patron casually cuts in front of you at the counter. Do you:
A) Pretend he was there the whole time, but kick his head in with your imagination,
B) Politely tap him on the shoulder and remind him about the subtle Rules of the Queue, and his place therein,
C) Complain loudly about line-cutters so that he hears, but make no move to correct the situation, thereby shaming your ladyfriend and emasculating yourself at the same time,
D) Inform the man in a vulgar fashion where he may stow his own head, and cause a scene, thereby angering the good wife, but proving your top score on the Scale of Manly Dominance
E) Stab him in the chest with a hunting knife you had conveniently strapped to your shin.
10) What’s your opinion of climbers having websites about themselves?
Ahhh… A loaded question if ever I saw one. I would say that 99% of these websites make me so angry that I want to punch the person in their suck hole. Their content consist of: I am so amazing, look at what I have done, I almost boulder V13, and these sites I despise. However there are a select few (even ones with names in the title) that actually provided information on climbs, other people, and goings on… these I can handle. I once even had a blog where I tried to give information about North Island goings on, but as many know I can’t spell worth a dam and I am too lazy to edit anything so that bit the dust.
11) If you were at a party and somebody asked you to do a mean trick, what would it be?
Most likely some Michael Jackson dance moves.
12) What was on the JFM breakfast menu this morning?
It was half a carrot, half a kit-kat and a coffee. Not the best morning today.
13) What’s your honest take on the down/upgrading issue?
My honest opinion… I think that it has become cool to downgrade. My d*&k is bigger than yours kind of thing. I don’t deny that at some point maybe there was inflation of grades, but I think we have become so obsessed with it we are afraid to believe we can flash, on-site, or red-point hard anymore. I believe that within any one grade there is a range, and I believe we as a community have lost sight of that (I lose sight of it). Every route does not have to be the absolute hardest for the grade. I am as guilt as the next person, I constantly down grade, or put low numbers on my routes but it is something I am trying to take a serious look at and figure out if I am doing it because I believe it, or if I am just trying to do it to essentially have a dig at someone else.
14) Out of the areas you’ve not been to yet, what’s the one you really want to visit?
I have not climbed in Spain very much and I am really excited to get over there and touch some really good limestone
15) You’ve been touted by many pundits on the NZ scene as the best climber the North Island has ever seen, what do you attribute your meteoric success to?
Wow… how to be made to look like a tool in one sentence. I don’t claim that title at all. Considering that Scott Mooney, Derek, and Phillip Sage all came from the North Island, I think there is no way I could ever be considered the best climber the north island has ever seen. Currently there are only a hand full of climbers who have or are climbing north of 30 on our side of the strait… and recently I have done more than anyone else so ‘SOME PEOPLE’ may have taken that as me being the best? All I can say is I am in good shape, and having a good run of things.
16) What’s your biggest weakness?
My belief. When I climb with the Kong… I see someone who believes that he can do any move in the world, give time. I have not yet meditated like the Kong beast to a point where my vision matches my belief.
17) Multi-choice #3
What is your first method of congratulations when a rival climbs a route:
A) Slap his/her back, punch his/her fist and offer to make to take him/her to dinner and a movie afterward.
B) Spray to everyone who will listen that the route was soft and he/she used the wrong sequence anyway.
C) Display your male dominance by smashing him/her in the face with your bicep.
D) Bust your arse straight after their send and spray at every rest about how easy you think it is.
E) Do all of the above, in the above sequence
18) Being a vegetarian, I’m sure you must support a lot of charities, so how hard is it being such a sensitive climber in today’s highly media charged and numbers driven game?
Vegetarians are hungry all the time yo; we are the baby faced killers of the climbing scene! Have you heard the saying never trust a ginger? Well that goes double for never trust a Vege!
19) With people claiming V16 and 9b all over the shop just for a bit of street cred and more free shoes from sponsors, where do you think the world of rock climbing is headed?
No matter what happens we will always have people claiming bullshit in climbing whether that be a retarded down grade, our a huge over grade for sponsorship. What is more important to me is fixing the source of desire for bullshit grades in climbing: the media. I hope that the huge media wave that so many wannabes have been surfing will eventually crash. Personal blogs and web sites are the main source for the general bullshit in climbing and these are becoming so diluted that people will take less notice of them till eventually we will be left with “the good ones”. These will provide un-biased, credible information that is positive and interesting to read, hopefully.
We made it through the 80’s and 90’s teething stage of media, and hopefully in the years coming we will get through this teenage hood we have been stuck in…
20) Did you cheat on any of your fifth form exams? If so, which one/s.
No, but I failed some of them. Maybe I should have!
21) What’s the achievement you are most proud of, in climbing, and why?
Honestly I could say my hardest climb or boulder, or first 8a… but it is no of them. I think it was opening THE PROJECT. This is my bouldering gym in Auckland. This was important to me as Auckland’s climbing gyms are soulless, money driven places that didn’t care about climbing. I wanted to create a place that brought back the soul of climbing, a place for people to hang out, have fun, and do what they love; and I think I managed to do that.
22) And out of climbing?
Becoming a Teacher.
23) And the achievement you are least proud of?
Getting an award for being the most drunk person in a Corfu toga night (it’s a Greek island)
24) And finally, to all the climbers in NZ, what do you have to say for yourself?
Look me up www.totalfuckingawsomeness.com