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InnerView #1: Jesse Huey

We’re psyched to kick off the InnerView with all-around hardman and homey Jesse Huey.  The InnerView offers a glimpse into the lives and minds of outdoor athletes who inspire us.  We think you’ll find their stories inspiring too.

We first met Jesse in the Fall of ’09, on our way from Moab to the Black Canyon via Mike Penning’s awesome Ridgeway chalet.  We arrived to find Jesse bivouacked comfortably on the couch.  Good thing, since he was going to need his beauty rest for the formidable birthday challenge he and Mike had concocted.  In the span of a ten day roadie, they climbed three dream routes: Moonlight Buttress (Zion’s 1200-foot finger crack, 12+), Rainbow Country (1200-foot Red Rock backcountry testpiece, 12++), and Tague Yer Time (damn near 2G’s of the Black Canyon’s finest, 12).  Sick trip.  But that was just one of the year’s missions.  Most recently, Jesse made an 80-hour alpine style assault on the Slovak Direct on Denali’s steep South Face.  We asked him about it.

Slovak Direct

You just did the 5th ascent of The Slovak Direct of Denali in Alaska – tell us a bit about that…

The Slovak. There is a lot to tell. It is really hard to convey the experience of going through a climb like this. At this point, it is certainly the hardest, most legitimate climb I have done. It felt really really out there and the feeling of commitment was as much as you could possibly bite off. On the climb it always felt like we were in control, but now looking back it is quite overwhelming to rationalize just how committed we were. I guess you never really realize these things till you have gone through it and can look back at it. After climbing the first 4000 feet, (it is 10,000 feet tall) Rappelling wasn’t an option. Up was out. Style is super important to me in any climb. I hadn’t been in a position like this one in a while and I think it humbled me a bit. A full trip report is on a blog here: http://www.foursistersfilm.com/2010/07/success-in-talkeetna/

How does one prepare for such a mixed adventure?

slovak direct - jesse huey

In 2004 I basically started spending my winters exclusivley in Canada. I bought a house up there, and took on mixed climbing full on. I had been ice climbing for years before that, but I really took to the mixed game. Over the last couple weeks I have talked with a lot of friends about mixed climbing and it seems that people are under the impression that mixed climbing is easy if you are a good sport climber and that it doesn’t translate to the mountains. I completely agree on one level and totally disagree on another. It is like saying that a 5.13 rifle sport climber who has never climbed on granite is also good at climbing 5.13 granite slabs. The strength is important and maybe inherent, but the skills are really hard earned, especially when traditionally protecting mixed climbs.

Jesse – some people compare you to a labrador retriever… what say you?

Oh boy! I guess it is true… climbing is pretty much like the green tennis ball for me.

When we saw you in Zion you were rather obsessed with Moonlight Buttress. Is it as big of a chosspile as we’ve heard?

I can see the moonlight buttress at some point in my life being the ONLY rock climb I do! It is that good. Every pitch on that thing would basically be a 5 star route at Indian Creek. And… I have really big fingers and purple camalots are perfect fingys for me which certainly helps on that route.

Chris Brown has a photo essay titled Grain with you and Jacob Neathawk climbing Sheer Lunacy – any words about that route or Zion in general?

Zion is amazing, I cant believe I have been going to only Yosemite for so many years. I love the scene, the climbing, the lack of vehicles, the colors, basically everything about it. Chris’s photo essay was super cool and captured climbing on that route I felt really well. It was a bit sandy but super worth it. I would like to go back and try to redpoint the route since we didn’t free it.

Bigger bubble – Seattle or Boulder?

Although I am writing this from Seattle, home feels most like Boulder right now… I miss my peeps out there for sure.

Whats up with your China plans?

China is going to be exciting. We are hoping to climb a super cool looking new route to the lookers right of the Fowler Ramsden line on Siguniang. It was tried back in the 80’s by some good climbers but it was perhaps ahead of its time back then. We are going to be there for 2 full months where we will be climbing and shooting a full length documentary film about our experience there. The film is called ELEVATION, and is being produced by a company in California that is super stoked to follow us around. Check out www.foursistersfilm.com

Did you have any mentors in climbing?

For sure. I think the biggest and most inspirational mentor has been Steve Swenson. He although, maybe he doesn’t know it, is a guy that I have always looked up to. Juggling cutting edge climbing with a family and professional career pretty much makes Steve the man. Other than Steve I would say Roger Strong out of Seattle. We haven’t done a ton of climbing together, but I have certainly learned a lot from him when we have gotten out and gotten a lot of life insight from him on juggling climbing, relationships, and work.

How does Tampa factor in to the world of Alpine climbing?

Hmmm… do I really have to answer that. I guess I have met some climbers from Florida that are really strong and psyched… ie. Matt Segal and of course Chris Brown!

Aww Jesse, I’m blushing…


Keep an eye out for Jesse at foursistersfilm.com and stay tuned to the InnerView for more on the personalities and perspectives that drive us to push our limits.


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