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Watch Joe Kinder Send Bone Tomahawk

Wednesday, April 26, 2017
BD Athlete Joe Kinder has been in the game since the late 1990’s, and when it comes to sheer numbers, he is prolific. Since 2000, he’s logged roughly 200 5.14 redpoints, sending nails-hard routes like Tommy Caldwell’s Kryptonite (5.14d). But perhaps Kinder’s greatest gift is his eye for establishing first ascents. From Spain to the desert southwest, he’s bolted and sent modern day testpieces. So after years of searching and perfecting his craft, Kinder finally discovered his king line. Check out this film documenting the first ascent of Kinder’s hardest route—Bone Tomahawk.
Video: Tristan Greszko and Savannah Cummins; Images: Tristan Greszko; Words: Joe Kinder


You’ve been climbing at the top end of 5.14 for nearly a decade. How does Bone Tomahawk stack up next to 9a routes you’ve climbed like Kryptonite?

When I compare Bone Tomahawk to other 9a routes I've done it would be a difficult one and a challenge that lasted longer than any of the others. I would also equate that to the fact that it was a first ascent. This usually is a lot more difficult to overcome than a second ascent or anything afterwards. FA's often come with a sort of mental baggage and doubt and a lack of believing. But that's what is also so badass. It's the follow-through and overcoming the physical and mental and all of that good stuff. I really dig on first ascents because they are something utterly timeless. It will never be erased. I guess it's pretty powerful to be a part of creating history huh! That concept is really attractive to me.

When you first bolted the line, did you know right away that the route would take six years of effort?

I figured the thing would be a big project. But I've also bolted so many routes that I'll never be able to climb. It's sometimes about setting it up for any climber at anytime—to be that one special person to travel that path from point A to point B. So when I first started trying this one I was pretty much thinking of it in a pretty selfless way. I never really thought that I would be the one to climb it. But over time, little by little, I was making gains and actually linking a few moves together at a time. So I guess that became the point of deciding to try to believe in it.

How long is this rig? And where’s the crux?

I'd say it's maybe 65 feet of climbing with a pretty difficult crux down low thankfully. I'd say it is about V11? And then it's pretty much streaming a bunch of V8 and V9 climbing together in the roof. The sections revolve around a lot of body tension and physical climbing. It's an accumulation of energy management and energy output at the end. If I didn't fall off the bottom crux I'd usually make it to the end and peel there.

How did you stay motivated to keep coming back? Isn’t it fairly involved to get there? And Lindsey … was there anything she was psyched to climb on while you were working on this route?

I would always revisit the cliff and either bolt something new, try one of the existing projects, or just say “fuck it” and try Bone Tomahawk. Usually each day would revolve around a little work, a little bit of climbing, and a little bit of dreaming on Bone Tomahawk. And when I would make those tiny gains I would feel some sort of success. But it usually just remained that and nothing more.

For Lindsey she found some routes to climb for sure. It was definitely an endeavor for me more so than for her. And I owe her a fucking ton for sticking with me and supporting me through this effort. She actually equipped two really nice climbs. They were two of the first routes she bolted by herself from the ground to the top. But she mainly gave me her time and I will never forget that.

What finally made the difference on that day in October?

I guess just devotion. It was a plan that we had made last spring. I was doing OK with the links and we both decided I should try to invest and train beforehand to set myself up for a possible send. It got me really excited because the route is my style and a type of climbing I enjoy you no matter what. I had trained pretty hard during the summer, went to Rifle and climbed Planet Garbage (5.14d), and had confidence and fitness from all of that. Basically I was in the optimal position to actually send the line.

You dedicated the route to Phillip Schaal. Can you give us the backstory?

Yeah I don't know if that makes much sense to dedicate a route or dedicate a send to somebody … but to me it does. Phil had died the week I climbed Bone Tomahawk. That put all kinds of things into a different perspective. Phil was a homie and his passing was completely out of the blue. It's a real shame to see him go and I was pretty upset that week. I don't think I’ve cried that much since 2013. I guess dedicating the route is using my little bit of voice in a public forum to shed some remembrance. He was on my mind a lot that week. He will be missed.


Visit La Sportiva's blog to learn more about Joe's experience with Bone Tomahawk: here.