Ethan Pringle made the first repeat of Jumbo Love (5.15b) at Clark Mountain, California on May 17. The 250-foot limestone masterpiece was bolted by visionary Randy Leavitt and first climbed by Chris Sharma in 2008.
“It’s just a hard, long, badass line!” Pringle said in an interview with Rock and Ice last year. “It’s huge and exposed and pretty much as long as you can find—you get to top out the wall!”
Climbed in a single pitch, the route is so long that it requires a 100-meter rope to reach the top and that still won’t get you back to the ground. Pringle said, “I have to lower back down to the lip, go in direct to an anchor there, untie, pull the rope and re-tie to get back down to the ground.”
Pringle began projecting the line with Sharma and Chris Lindner in 2007. The following year, Sharma asked if he could go for the send and Pringle gave Sharma his blessing. The first ascent fell to Sharma later that year and seven years after, still determined to clip the chains, Pringle claimed the second ascent.
“I know the route is very close to my physical limit,” Pringle said last year, “so it’s really inspiring to me.”
For Pringle, the mental crux was the length and difficulty of the route. “If I’m not feeling in top form when I’m trying it, I feel even smaller and more intimidated,” Pringle said, “but that’s part of the draw—having to overcome that intimidation.”
Jumbo Love is one of three confirmed 5.15’s in America, along with Jaws II (5.15a) in Rumney, New Hampshire—first climbed by Vasya Vorotnikov in 2007—and Tommy Caldwell’s unrepeated Flex Luthor (5.15a/b?) at the Fortress of Solitude, Colorado.
Pringle, 28, from San Francisco, has been climbing since childhood. He was the undefeated junior national and international champion from 1998 – 2001. In 2007, Pringle claimed the fifth ascent of Chris Sharma’s benchmark 5.15a, Biographie in Ceuse, France and Era Vella (5.14d), in Margalef, Spain. Earlier this year, Pringle sent La Reina Mora (5.14d) in Siurana, Spain.
Pringle is no stranger to pebble-wrestling and plugging gear either. He nabbed the third ascent of The Wheel of Life—a 60-foot roof V15 in the Hollow Mountain Cave, Grampians, Australia—and has climbed the notable trad lines China Doll (5.14a) in Boulder Canyon, Colorado and Sonnie Trotter’s Cobra Crack (5.14) in Squamish, Canada.
Ethan Pringle working Jumbo Love (5.15b):