Joe Kinder’s First Ascent of Bone Tomahawk (5.14d/5.15a)

With somewhere around 200 5.14 redpoints under his belt, gifted sport climber, Joe Kinder, has a solid idea of what hard climbing and immense dedication feel like. And he doesn’t just send others’ lines, he also has significant experience in establishing exceptionally challenging routes, from across the many crags of Spain to the varied landscapes of America.

This past October, Joe put an end to Bone Tomahawk (5.14d/5.15a)—a six-year project he established in a cave near St. George, Utah in 2010. After about 35 days of solid effort over the course of those years, Joe claims that this route is

Hands down, my hardest climb ever.

Yesterday, one of the routine tries it happened. The day was bizarre. I kept thinking of my late friend Phil who recently passed away. My mode was glum, the normal sequence of events seems disturbed and completely off kilter. I had been 100% devoted to climbing this anomaly for the past 3 weeks and wanted some fuc*ing return for it. I wanted to send and complete my goal. I was close and had been close. The clock was ticking and my time here was feeling limited. So yeah, stress was higher than normal. I fell off the start boulder problem 3 times. I was flipping out. Screaming, cursing, and feeling like a victim. I felt like a shaken bottle of soda. About to explode and that's not my style. I rested again, pushed record on the camera and shrugged like "what the hell" before I jumped to the starting holds. Same feeling. Same motive. I traveled through the moves of contorted roof climbing and was thinking completely clear the whole time. I somehow grabbed the hold at my high point. Barely. The body seemed to deal with the whole event differently. I felt numb but so in touch with everything going on and was able to control it. I completed my hardest climb yet. I won't lie. I cried. I thought about my girlfriend and the time and energy she devoted to this endeavor. I thought about Phil and how he didn't need to leave us all. I thought about how special this project was to me. My gawd. I'm glad we were alone in there. 🔸Bone Tomahawk 🔸Too scared to call it 9a+ so let's say 9a/+. 🔸Bolted in 2010 🔸Tried on and off for nearly 6 years. 🔸Perhaps 35 days of effort? 🔸Obsessed over all of those 6 years. Thank you Lindsey for sticking with me on this. I dedicate this send to Phil Schaal. 📷 @sav.cummins

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