Matty Hong made back-to-back ascents of two of Colorado’s hardest sport climbs—Shadowboxing (5.14d)
in Rifle on Saturday and Kryptonite (5.14d) at the Fortress of Solitude on Sunday. “It was an awesome weekend,” Hong tells Rock and Ice.
“I wanted to climb both of these routes for a long time.”
Shadowboxing was considered the hardest climb in Rifle ever since Nico Favresse bolted the line the 90s. For over a decade, the project shut down
every climber who attempted it, until Jonathan Siegrist took the prized first ascent in 2011. Jon Cardwell snagged the second ascent in August 2015,
and Mark Anderson, at 39 years old, recently made the route’s third ascent.
Hong, a Colorado native, says he “dabbled” on the climb in the past but “never really projected it” before this season. He estimates that he put in less
than 10 attempts before sending on October 1 for the route’s fourth known ascent.
I owe a lot to this canyon.. for more than 10 years it has challenged me and pushed my climbing further. This weekend was just like any other trip to #rifle.. lots of blood, sweat, and bad jokes.. another day of climbing.. On Saturday I fought my way up ‘Shadowboxing,’ 5.14d and Sunday I climbed one of my bucket list routes, ‘Kryptonite’ 5.14d at the #fortress. A special weekend ???? // photo @carlodenali
A photo posted by Matty Hong (@honngy) on
The next day, he made the trek up to the Fortress of Solitude for a go on Tommy Caldwell’s historic Kryptonite. The route, which Caldwell put
up in the winter of 1999, was the first of its grade in North America. Not only is it a benchmark in American climbing, it’s also one of the best climbs
in the country, according to those who have climbed it. Carlo Traversi told Rock and Ice, “it’s probably the single best route I’ve ever climbed on.” Jon Cardwell said it’s “one of the best limestone climbs I have seen in North America!”
Hong called it one of his “bucket list” routes. He first tried the climb and gave it a handful of attempts last season. He finally clipped the chains on
Sunday, October 2, on his fourth attempt of the year and his first try of the day. His is the tenth known ascent of Kryptonite.
“I think my training for Fat Camp is what really helped me on [Shadowboxing and Kryptonite],” he says. “Fat Camp is all power-endurance and the other [climbs]
seemed less of a challenge afterwards, but still very hard for me.”On September 20, he made the first repeat of Fat Camp—bolted by Joe Kinder and first climbed by Cardwell—in Rifle’s Wicked Cave.
Of the three, Hong says Kryptonite was his favorite climb, mainly because of its location and quality: “The Fortress is the most badass wall,
it’s so unique and beautiful, and there’s no one out there. It also has the best rock quality.”
For difficulty, he says “Fat Camp felt the hardest of the three, and it’s also my style. Shadowboxing felt harder than Kryptonite,
but [Shadowboxing] is not really my style, so they’re hard to compare. They’re all different. I had to try the hardest on Shadowboxing,
but Fat Camp took the longest.”
Hong, who learned how to climb at Rifle, has now finished all of the canyon’s most difficult climbs, such as Bad Girls Club (5.14d),
La Cucaracha (5.14c), Planet Garbage (5.14c) and Planet X (5.14a), along with Fat Camp and
“All of my memorable projects were in Rifle; my first 5.13, my first 5.14,” Hong says. But now with Fat Camp and Shadowboxing checked
off, “That’s kind of it for hard routes,” he adds.
He looks forward to returning to the Fortress and exploring the area’s potential, climbs both new and old. Tommy Caldwell’s Flex Luther (5.15a/b)
is still waiting for a repeat.