3 February 2024

Ben Burkhalter completes Southern Drawl (8C)

Ben Burkhalter, who last year did three 8C’s, has repeated James Webb's Southern drawl (8C) (FA'ed as an 8B+) in Chattanooga. In the 8a ranking game, the 23-year-old is #6.

Can you tell us more about the ascent?
Southern Drawl is a very meaningful boulder for me! It encapsulates everything that I was bad at. Pure big hold power on slopers that need perfect friction to stick. It also demands ton of body tension plus open hand / half crimp strength, which for a long time has been my total anti-style. Despite having grown up climbing in the Southeast, I’ve always been strongest on crimps. Drawl is one of those mystical lines that I’d heard about long ago, but with its brutal difficulty and physical style I never thought it could ever go for me.

I first tried it last winter, but didn’t really come close to sending. Then I had a few sessions over Thanksgiving this year and had a total breakthrough falling on the final rip into the victory jug EIGHT times from the bottom last day of my trip! Because of my height, I am unable to release before the final dyno like others have previously. Instead, have to do a violent slam across into the hold which makes it much harder to hold the swing. This move turned out to be my crux, constantly spitting me off many times each session, leaving me with gnarly flappers.

After 5 more sessions of falling on the last move I finally had the magic go where I hit everything right and ended up on top! It was a perfect moment of total bliss, disbelief, and happiness as I watched the sun set behind the southern hills. To me, sending this boulder marks the end of the final chapter in my Southeastern climbing journey. There will always be more hard lines to try, but none will be as meaningful as this. So psyched!
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