A few days ago I had the pleasure of meeting Scott Hall online and he was nice enough to let me interview him about his love for bouldering. Scott is an established climber, even though it’s not something he picked up until he was in his 20s. I’ve got a great interview where Scott talks about him local bouldering spots, his toughest climbs, and how he gets out of “oh crap” situations. If you want more info, you can find Scott Hall on Vimeo tearing it up. I’m sure he’ll have more videos uploaded when he returns from a trip to Mt. Rainer this month.
Where are you from? Do you have any local bouldering spots that are home for you?
I grew up on a farm in eastern Washington just outside of the diminutive community of St. John (pop. 514). This region’s large fertile rolling hills were great for growing wheat, barely and lentils but lacked any significant geological features for rock climbing. However, this isn’t to say that Washington doesn’t have any rock; it’s just that I had to travel many hours to find it. The local bouldering spots for the state are Leavenworth, Goldbar and Index. I now live in Salt Lake City (because I can be bouldering w/n 20 minutes of my doorstep), but still try to get back to Washington to climb at least 3 times a year. In fact, in two weeks I will be climbing Mt. Rainier and then spending a week camping outside of Leavenworth.
How long have you been into bouldering and how did you get started? Was it something you picked up on your own or did your family get you started at a young age?
I have been bouldering now for about 7 years and started while I was attending college at Western Washington University. Growing up encircled by 100 miles of wheat fields meant that I wasn’t able to pursue the passion for climbing until I moved away to Bellingham, WA for college. My evolution through climbing disciplines has been fairly non-traditional as I started out mountaineering at the age of 20 on the volcanoes of the Cascade Mountain Range. It seems as though most people start climbing in the comfort of a gym, move outside to bouldering, progress to sport climbing, earn the knowledge needed to trad/aid climb and then finally combine these experiences in order to tackle large mountains. I reversed this order and found comfort in the simplicity of bouldering. Stripping away the compounding complexity of mountaineering allowed me to focus on the pure movement of rock climbing and my fascination with doing the most difficult singular moves possible (for me). In its simplest form, bouldering requires no gear.
Have you had any “oh crap” moments while climbing? Like maybe you put yourself into a bad situation and weren’t sure how you’d get out?
I have certainly had instances of “oh crap” while bouldering but they usually revolve around a moment of self doubt… high off the ground… when I’d prefer standing firmly below and looking up at someone else in my position. However, this typically means you need to get your “crap” together and just keep going. A good friend of mine who I started climbing with always used to say “you’ve got to move to climb”… and that is always what I think when have those moments of hesitation. Luckily, I’m kind of a sissy when it comes to really high bouldering so I’m usually pretty safe. I am not a climber that thrives on the thrill of heights… in fact, I’ve always been afraid of heights since I was a kid.
I saw a video of you doing Show of Hands V11. What’s the toughest boulder you’ve climbed? What grade was it?
Grades are an interesting subject in climbing and always a hot topic amongst the opinionated. I’ve found that grades are a good reference for locating problems within a certain difficulty that you’d like to try. Climbing has to be one of the most subjective sports around… a person’s height, ape index (wingspan), the temperature outside, humidity… so many of these factors can cause a problem to be feel +/- up to 3 grades. But grades also motivate and are great for goal setting. With that said, the hardest grade I have climbed is Escape Artist V12 at Moe’s Valley, but for me the toughest climb I have done is Bully V11 in Little Cottonwood Canyon.
Do you have a dream rock or climbing destination out there?
The Mandala V12 out in Bishop, CA has always been a dream climb of mine. I remember watching a video of Chris Sharma getting the first ascent before I had even started climbing and feeling inspired. Years after I started climbing I still couldn’t even fathom doing the moves, but now, just being able to feel as though I could do it is such a victory. As for a dream climbing destination I would have to say I would love to go to South Africa… and hopefully I will be next summer!
Are you into any other outdoor sports like kayaking, hiking or snowboarding?
I am into most outdoor sports. I love mountain biking, hiking, fly fishing, snowshoeing, rafting etc. Growing up on a farm meant you spent nearly all your time outdoors… which means once you’ve grown up you do the same.
You post a lot of climbs on Vimeo. Do you have any particular interest in film or are you just a shoot and upload kind of guy?
I’m a shoot and upload type of guy. I just like the idea of sharing and inspiring others to climb certain boulder problems. I’ve always loved watching climbing videos because they motivate me to get out and climb. There is something very motivating about watching others succeed.
Ever been bitten by something while on a rock?
Uh, hunger. I have a soft spot in my heart for M&M doughnuts at the Food Ranch near Joe’s Valley, UT. When I boulder there sometimes they are all I can think of… I would say if I have a certain strength when it comes to climbing it is being able to eat doughnuts and cookies and still climb at my potential.
Now for some fun stuff: What’s your favorite movie, TV show and music group?
Movie: Big Trouble in Little China
TV Show: Arrested Development or Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Music Group: can’t name just one… maybe… Modest Mouse, Pink Floyd, Pinback, NOFX, Bruce Springsteen, or Willie Nelson.
What’s next for Scott Hall?
Here’s a video and some pictures of Scott in action. Definitely check him out bouldering in Joe’s Valley.
And some pictures: