You won’t find Matt Fultz’s best day in Magic Wood listed on 8a.nu.
On a three-week trip to Ticino, Switzerland, during what has been a banner season, Fultz celebrated his 28th birthday, May 13, by doing 28 problems.
“I’d never been there before,” Fultz says of Magic Wood. “There are all sorts of classics. It was a good excuse to try a lot of things I wouldn’t normally climb on”—meaning boulders below his grade range versus projecting one or a few hard climbs, and doing ones that were scattered and out of the way.
It was a real challenge to get them all in: to hike, unpack, set up, put shoes-on-take-shoes-off, downclimb, hike, reset, hike, find other boulders. The process took eight or nine wearying hours.
“I started thinking at 21, 22, ‘Ohhh, maybe that’s enough,’” he says with a laugh. “I thought it was going to be easier.”
Still, he calls it “probably my favorite day of the trip. It’s always good to mix it up.”
Also on that trip Fultz did: Ill Trill in one session, The Never Ending Story (hybrid boulder problem and bolt route) and New Base Line, in Magic Wood, while early in May he made the FA of Kenny Loggins, St. Vrain, Colorado, all of them 8B+ / V14. Just before the trip he did Bridge of Ashes, 8C / V15, which remained his hardest during the whole stretch of travel (like many, he tends to spread his efforts out during a limited visit.) In March, he’d had his first double-V14 day, in Elkland, Rocky Mountain National Park. Returning from Europe, he made semifinals (finishing 20th, while his qualifier result was 11th) at the Bouldering World Cup, GoPro Mountain Games in Vail on June 8, and did Delirium, 8C, on Mount Evans on June 15, in two tries. It was the fifth ascent of the 2013 Jimmy Webb testpiece.
The website 8a.nu took note this spring, reporting the two 8C’s and Kenny Loggins, which brought Fultz to 23 problems of 8B+: “Including also 67 8B’s, he has a solid pyramid for building upwards.” Those numbers have now increased to 26 at 8B+ and 72 8B’s.
Fultz is originally from Boise, Idaho, and earned a degree in kinesthesiology at the College of Idaho. He spent two years in Salt Lake City, and now lives in Westminster, Colorado, working part-time as a coach for ABC Kids, in Boulder.
Though low-key and soft spoken, he calls himself “very competitive—against myself, a lot more so than against other people.” He likes to track how much he’s improved since last year or month—“or yesterday.”
He is 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds, with a plus-6 ape index. He tries to “climb big” to use his height, yet excels at crimps, which tend to be difficult for bigger climbers. That arises from his roots: “That’s just how, as an outdoor boulderer in Idaho, I grew up.”
Fultz also inclines toward long routes and power endurance. His 2013 ascent of Warpath, 25 moves long at Castle Rock, Idaho, was a milestone for him: his first 8B+ and the third ascent of the James Litz testpiece of 2007, but a harbinger in other ways.
“It’s still one of the best climbs I’ve done in my life,” he says. It also took him a lot of work, falling at the end, and effort. The drive, a day trip, was three hours each way, and the endeavor took probably 20 days.
“It really fits in with my personality,” he says. “A comp climb is, Can you do this in five minutes? An outdoor climb is, Can you do this in your life? You have to have the ability, skills and strength. The other half is putting in the time, the work .… and you don’t even know if you’re going to do it. It’s risky. That’s why it’s tempting. You might not get anything out of it. I love comp climbing but it really doesn’t compare to outdoor.”
Fultz is having his best season ever right now, and attributes it largely to a change he made last year at the end of competition season, a “full stop” of gym climbing per se. He still went for board climbing, hangboarding and campusing, but no longer did set problems. “I stopped practicing movement for comps, like funky slabs, weird dynos and coordination moves, and just tried to get stronger for rock.”
He also improved his diet with the help of his wife, Hailey Fultz, who as manager of the vitamin and supplement department of Lucky’s grocery in Boulder has knowledge and information, and he attributes much to his marriage and her “consistent” support.
Asked his regimen, Matt says, “I eat as many vegetables as I want and a few servings of animal protein—like eggs and chicken—and oatmeal. Some servings of fruits, some bars. Luckily I don’t have too much of a sweet tooth.” His weak spot is only this: “I can’t turn down a cheeseburger. It’s just impossible.”
What has surprised Fultz, more so than doing the routes in Magic Wood, was being able to do them quickly. He finished his tick list with a few days to spare to have fun, hike around, and scope other problems, such as the tall (30-foot) Understanding—for the next trip. Then he came home and did Delirium, 8C, fast. (The “dab” that he refers to in the video above is his shirt brushing a rock that is known to be very close. While some people are purists and feel that any touch invalidates an ascent, he says it had no effect.)
For now, he is consolidating and working to improve anew. “The great thing about rock climbing is it’s such a skill sport. There are all kinds of little things you can learn. Like for me, one thing is getting better at staying relaxed.” And while by nature he often climbs alone, climbing more with other people has helped as well. “I just continue to progress because I continue learning new things.”
The next trip is to Rocklands, South Africa.