Joe Kinder is getting better with age—the 37-year-old just sent his first 5.15a by clipping the chains on his longtime project in the Hurricave, near St. George, Utah. It was a first ascent that Kinder has had on his mind for four years. Kinder dubbed his new route Life of Villains and told one of his sponsors, Black Diamond Equipment, simply, “I’m one happy guy.”
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The 52-move route has a V10 crux boulder problem, after which there is still 5.14c/d climbing to the anchor. In early January, Kinder posted on Instagram, “ONE HANG!! (after 4 years of working this beast).” It still took him another two months to put it to rest, but after that long of a process, 60-odd days was nothing. Life of Villains is now one of only four 5.15s in the United States, the others being Flex Luthor (5.15a), at the Fortress of Solitude, in Colorado; Jaws II (5.15a), at Rumney, New Hampshire; and Jumbo Love (5.15b), at Clark Mountain, California.
Chris Sharma chimed in on Instagram to congratulate his longtime friend:
Huge congrats to my bro @joekinder for sending his proj life of villains 5.15a in the Hurricane of southern Utah. So rad to see you stick with it til the end. Joe has been working toward climbing 5.15 for a long time and it’s so cool to see him realize his dream. I’m interested though how it feels now that it’s in the bag. From my own experience, the whole process becomes so much more involved, committing and bigger than just climbing a number grade harder. When you finally do it the importance of the number kind of pales in comparison the experience of the whole journey. Huge props dude so happy for you!
Before sending Life of Villains, Kinder’s hardest send was another of his first ascents, Bone Tomahawk (5.14d/5.15a), located at another crag near St. George called the Fynn Cave. After sending Bone Tomahawk in October 2016, Kinder told Rock and Ice, “To me it was the king line of the wall and took the raddest angle.” Regarding the slash grade, he explained that the route could be “a normal 9a [5.14d] or a 9a+ [5.15a], but hell…. I don’t know and don’t want to state anything I’m not comfortable with.”
Clearly with Life of Villains he’s comfortable and confident that he has finally eclipsed the 5.15 barrier.