American bouldering powerhouse Paul Robinson decided to rope up for the month of October and has just clipped chains on one of the country's hardest sport routes--Jaws II (5.15a) in Rumney, New Hampshire.
"I dreamed about doing this route for so long," wrote Robinson in an e-mail exchange with Rock and Ice. "This thing was a battle for me and I am psyched to keep trying more climbs like this!"
First bolted and climbed in 1998 by Dave Graham at 5.14b, Jaws--as the original iteration was named--suffered a few broken holds and was climbed again in 2007 by Vasya Vorotnikov at 5.15a. Jaws II now holds the distinction of being one of just three routes in America with a 5.15 grade proposal--the other two being Tommy Caldwell's Flex Luthor at the Fortress of Solitude, Colorado, and Chris Sharma's Jumbo Love (5.15b) at California's Clark Mountain, neither of which have been repeated.
After seeing pictures of the Jaws II in 2007, Robinson says he was always looking for the "perfect excuse" to try the route.
Now, he has joined the elite few--including Vorotnikov, Daniel Woods, Mike Foley, and local Andrew Palmer--who have managed to tick Rumney's hardest route, by making the fifth ascent of Jaws II.
Rock and Ice caught up with Robinson to hear more about his latest send.
R&I: How did you find the motivation to start climbing on a rope?
My main focus over the years has been bouldering, but every once in a while I get the psych to tie in and try something new! The last time I tied in and sent something hard was in 2009 when I made the second ascent of Psychedelic (5.14d) outside of St. George, Utah. Since doing Psychedelic, it got me motivated to do more routes and push my bouldering while tied in.
R&I: Where did you get the inspiration to try Jaws II?
I remember seeing pics and talking to Vasya after his ascent and getting really psyched. I had visited Rumney when I was younger and once for a quick two day trip when I did the Fly (5.14d) a few years back. Rumney definitely is one of my favorite areas, especially for rope climbing. The rock climbs a lot like the boulders I am familiar with, so it was not too hard for me to make the transition here unlike areas like Rifle where it is so "rope climbing” specific.
I tried Jaws II for the first time in 2011 after competing in the Nor’easter bouldering competition. I knew I wanted to come back and climb this thing and fortunately this fall made for the perfect excuse to come back to the North East.
R&I: What was the route's overall crux for you?
The bottom crux was epic for me! I felt a bit too tall to do it the way that Daniel [Woods] did, so I opted for the way that Vasya originally climbed it. Fortunately this way finally became easier and easier. In the beginning all of the ways felt remotely close and for a few days I kept switching my beta which made the process that much longer and that much more epic. Then, the upper crux was feeling easy when I was hanging there and thought I would do it the first time I made it though the bottom. Sadly I was mistaken. I fell off the final deadpoint move six times from the bottom!!!
R&I: Is this the hardest sport-route you've ever climbed?
Yes, for sure.
R&I: Finally, what's next? Will you continue to rope up or are you going to switch back to bouldering?
I am heading back home to Boulder, Colorado, in a few days. The plan from there is to travel to the desert in search of new first ascents in Joes Valley, Utah, and Las Vegas! But I am sure I will be keeping my eyes out for new routes along the way!