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Jonathan Siegrist Establishes New 5.14+ in the Fins

Jonathan Siegrist has returned to the Fins of eastern Idaho—his old stomping grounds—where he bolted and sent several new routes in the 5.14 range. His most difficult redpoint of the trip, Mala Leche, may be a contender for Idaho's hardest route.

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J-Star on the immaculate limestone of Mala Leche. Photo courtesy of Siegrist’s blog.

Jonathan Siegrist has returned to the Fins of eastern Idaho—his old stomping grounds—where he bolted and sent several new routes in the 5.14 range. His most difficult redpoint of the trip, Mala Leche, may be a contender for Idaho’s hardest route.

“[My girlfriend and I] were both suffering on our respective projects,” Siegrist told Rock and Ice. Favoring long, technical routes, he named the short and savage Mala Leche for its moves that felt antithetical to his style. “Mala leche,which translates to “bad milk,” is a phrase used in Catalonia and broader Spain for “grumpy” or “bad attitude.”

“The route is probably 50 feet long with the hardest boulder problem I’ve ever done on rope,” Siegrist said. “The crux is like four moves long. The holds are all flat or incut crimps, but the moves are really powerful.”

On his blog, Siegrist compares Mala Leche to Dave Graham’s Psychedelic (5.14d), in St. George, Utah, and BJ Tilden’s Moonshine (5.14d), in Wild Iris, Wyoming.

Siegrist said the route’s crux felt like a solid V13. This differs from another of his Fins testpieces, Algorithm (5.14d), which was previously considered the hardest route in Idaho. Algorithm is over 40 meters long, dead vertical, with continuous 5.13 climbing into a single “off balance, super accurate and long move.”

“I have a pipe dream of linking Mala Leche into Algorithm, which would definitely be my hardest route ever.” This monster link-up would skirt the entry route for Algorithm, called Sons of Discovery (5.13a), and instead climb a direct route through both 5.14d cruxes.

J-Star established a new 5.13d/5.14a, protected with a mix of bolts and traditional gear.  Photo: Ian Cavanaugh, from Siegrist’s blog.

Siegrist had just spent six weeks in Rocky Mountain National Park, where he set himself a goal of climbing a dozen or more boulders V12 or harder. It was “a pretty arbitrary goal,” but, determined to improve his power, he put his fingers to the grind and cranked out a dozen V-hards. His tirade included a repeat of Jade (V14), perhaps the most sought-after problem in RMNP.

“Without the experience of bouldering this summer, I couldn’t have done [Mala Leche]. I’m hoping to do a month or two of bouldering each year,” Siegrist said. He hopes to travel to Bishop, Hueco Tanks, and the Rocklands. Before his summer pebble-wrestling binge, Siegrist said, “I would have tried the moves [of Mala Leche] and written it off as nearly impossible for me.”

Though the Fins are fairly remote, nestled in Idaho’s Lost River Range, Siegrist said the crag touts some of the country’s best limestone. With only 70 routes and few unbolted lines remaining, he finds it unlikely that the Fins will grow into a destination crag.

“I’m still shocked by how small the crowds are. I’ve got ten .14s there and only two have been repeated,” Siegrist said.

Two routes, extensions of Siegrist’s Better Living Through Chemistry (5.14b/c) and Catalyst (5.14b), still await a first ascensionist who is “strong and tall.”

Get after it, folks!

Watch J-Star climb Algorithm during his 2012 trip to Idaho:

Algorithm from MAXIM DYNAMIC ROPES on Vimeo.