I met Jules Cho at the New Jersey Rock Gym — we were both setting for the Gravity Brawl comp, last March. She told me she was into archery, and brought her bow and arrow to the gym. I had her point her arrow right at the camera — a nearly fatal mistake. Jules accidentally let the string slip, and the arrow zipped right past my head.
Born and raised in Manmouth County, New Jersey, this female William Tell is a much better climber than archer. Her Korean parents emigrated to New Jersey, and Jules discovered climbing six years ago on her first trip to the gym. She says, “I saw a woman traversing around, and thought, ‘Traversing is cool!’” Six months later, her friends handed her a rack, and sent her blindly up a 5.5 even though she had never placed gear before. “I basically soloed,” she said.
Jules was hooked. Not your average 5.14 sprayer, Jules is an unabashed 5.8 trad climber (and V6 boulderer), and says some of her favorite leads include Son of Easy O (5.8), CCK (5.7) and Roseland (5.9), all at the Gunks. Though she loves the trad climbing there, she has since moved to Salt Lake City to boulder and sport climb. She continues to generously donate her time and energy, helping set, forerun and judge the ongoing Mammut-EMS Bouldering Championships.
WHERE’S JERSEY’S BEST CLIMBING?
The Gunks, which is in New York.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO ARCHERY?
My dad used to remark how Koreans always brought home the gold in archery during the Olympics. I’m always looking to find something I’m good at, and I’m fair at archery. My coach thinks if I spent half as much time shooting as I spend climbing, I could compete nationally. I’ve been target shooting with a compound for only a year and a half. I can’t wait to shoot a recurve bow.
HAVE YOU EVER KILLED ANY ANIMALS?
Apart from nearly you? No. My coach would kill me if he heard I even aimed at you. I haven’t hunted but am not adverse to the idea. If you can’t kill to eat meat, you shouldn’t eat meat. But it’s important to do it right-—one clean shot.
IF YOU HAD TO PICK ONE ANIMAL TO SHOOT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Something beautiful and challenging. Maybe a gazelle? I could mount the horns on my Subaru.
IS THERE, LIKE, A 5.14 OF ARCHERY?
I like to think shooting recurve with the same skill, accuracy and ease would be like attaining 5.14. Olympic competitors shoot recurve bows. It demands far more strength and concentration than a compound and is the purest form of shooting.
COULD COMP CLIMBING BE AN OLYMPIC EVENT?
Comp climbing will be only as popular as it wants to be. When you make it a big, fun party, start to finish, the way NE2C and the Mammut/EMS Bouldering Championships are doing it, people will be drawn in and then sponsorships fall in. But that’s also what’s regrettable. It’ll take a large corporate sponsor to bring it to that level, and there are climbers who will cringe to see it happen. At the same time, no one minds when the biggest comp of the year boasts top athletes, food, booze and ladies! You can’t stop a bullet train, but you can get on it.
DO YOU LIKE COMPETING?
I think I prefer the backstage work. Competing takes a certain mind set that I don’t have. In the Gravity Brawl, after a week without any sleep, I spent three hours projecting this one problem. I finally got it, but didn’t have enough energy to hand in a scorecard. I suck at comps.
WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST FEAR?
I once feared that I wouldn’t find the thing I was good at, and at least now I can say I’ve found climbing. It’s a relief, but now it’s time to get good!
YOU SIGN YOUR E-MAILS, ‘LOVE & ROCK.’ HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN LOVE?
What an asinine question. I’m in love with climbing. We’ve been together six years now, and I think it’s getting serious.
FINISH THIS SENTENCE: “IN 10 YEARS, I WILL BE …”
On the cover.