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 By: User Deactivated  | Date: 2007-11-15  | Category: Other    | Comment  

Jim Holloway
is one of those legendary, visionary characters so far ahead of his time that he almost feels fictional. In the mid 70-ties he created a few problems that today are known as “The Big three”: Slapshot, Trice, a.k.a. A.H.R (Another Holloway/Hell Route) and Meathook are all, as their creator, surrounded by an aura of mystique. Before yesterday, none of them has ever been repeated, meaning no one really knew how difficult any of them were, especially as they were put up some 15 years before the V-scale was created. Jim gave them all a JHH (Jim Holloway Hard) rating. For Holloway, difficulty fell into three categories: JHE (Jim Holloway Easy), JHM (Jim Holloway Medium), and JHH (Jim Holloway hard) a variation of John Gill’s B-system..

Jim-Holloway-259-cloud.jpgIt’s been speculated that they could be as hard as 8B (V13). Carlo Traversi, who made the 2nd ascent of Trice put it as 8A+ but says it could be both easier and harder, whereas Jamie Emerson, after making the 3rd ascent later the same day, comments that "I think that V12 (8A+) is an appropriate grade, although I would put it on the harder end of the scale. It could get V13 (8B) in Hueco as it felt harder than other problems with that grade in Hueco."

I guess it's safe to say the speculations weren't too far off the mark.

Holloway, born in 1954, was one of the first of a new generation of boulderers for whom the sport was a lifestyle rather than a recreation or sport. Jim began bouldering at the age if 16, as a high school student in Boulder, Colorado in 1970. He and his friends spent hours on Flagstaff Mountain - sometimes during the school day - carefully moving up the standard routes using traditional static technique. Then Jim met Bob Williams, a mathematics graduate student at CU, who had developed a controlled dynamic style, unlike anything Holloway had seen. He was fascinated by Bob's smooth acrobatics and began to develop his own dynamic technique, the consequence of which is a collection of routes that, although done 30 years ago, are near the top of the current difficulty scale.

In 1973 Jim established his first notable route, Just Right (so named because it fit his very tall frame). In 1975 he put up Trice a.k.a. AHR (another Holloway route) – at today's grade of 8A+, exceptionally difficult for the 1970s, and most probably the hardest in the world at the time.

Holloway was one of the first boulderers to devote more than a few hours to creating a particular problem. In the mid 1970s he began visiting Horsetooth Reservoir near Fort Collins, Colorado, where John Gill and his friend Rich Borgman had established a Dakota sandstone bouldering area. Gill's problems there, having been fashioned in a matter of minutes or hours, were far easier than the standards Jim was setting, clearly demonstrating the change in bouldering philosophy that was taking place. As an example, Holloway worked on creating a line directly up Gill's Left Eliminator, which had been done from the side. Calling his project Meathook, he worked the problem for twenty days, during 1974 and 1975, before finally getting up. A challenging undercling on the fingertips was a key obstacle, and Jim used an artificial contrivance in his home – a simulator – to train for the move. Fifteen years later Wolfgang Güllich would use his campus boards in a similar way to train for Action Directe, the world's first 9a. Meathook was perhaps 8A+ - for Jim, JHH - whereas most of the problems at Horsetooth were in the V3 to V7 range.

In 1977, Holloway climbed Slapshot, on Dinosaur Mountain near Boulder. This challenge may very well be unrepeated as of 2007.

Says Holloway: “the holds are very marginal, if you glued a quarter on the rock it would be a good hold! I remember John Sherman pulled off a loose flake at the start and glued it back on. I sometimes wonder if it was put on upside down because the hold is about twice the size as I remember it being! The beat is; pulling up, and lunging all at the same time for a little seam near the top. The take off point is critical so that you don’t lunge out instead of up. I took a few rocky downhill rides from missing that move.”

“I remember that Meathook too was an interesting challenge. My good friend and climbing partner, Jim Michaels, and I would go up to Horsetooth Reservoir and he would go to up to the "Talent Scout Wall." I wouldn’t really care for it because I had done it back in high school. So, I’d wait for him down at Meathook, trying and trying to do the first moves, but I never really took it too seriously. Then, one day I finally pulled off the ground! The rest went on autopilot, and it became a legendary problem, one that’s much more technical than Slapshot.

I’ve heard Trice called several things over the years, Chris Jones started calling it "Another Holloway Route" or "AHR" and someone else started calling in another "Hell" route. I just called it Trice. When we first took notice to that line we were bouldering up there , his name was he had a friend called the big D, David something, he had the strongest fingers and I remember him putting his hands on the beginning undercling holds of the problem and I remember saying, "Now pull up", thinking no one could ever lift off these hold and he did! I got inspired and started working on the thing from that start. I remember you start under the bulge on an undercling, made a big move to a three finger pocket with the right hand, bring the left up to a small hold and jump for the lip. There are no footholds. Again, I had the open-handed technique down, and you can’t crimp on the pocket, so it suited me well.”

Jim's bouldering companions during the 1970s included Jim Michaels, Bob Williams and John Gill - from whom he learned dynamic techniques - Pat Ament, Chris Jones, and Scott Blunk.

Holloway stopped bouldering about 1980, and became involved in bicycle racing.

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