Here at Touchstone Climbing, we're lucky to be surrounded by crushers of all kinds. Today Berkeley Ironworks staffer Ryan E. Moon sits down with a fellow co-worker Steven Roth to find out more about developing a new route at Mickey's Beach, what it's like to be from Florida, and his legal troubles with Nickelodeon.
RM: How long have you been climbing?
SR: I started climbing competitively about nine years ago, but had to take off a few years due to pesky injuries and bad luck.
RM: How long have you lived in the Bay Area?
SR: I moved out to the Bay about a year ago from Florida to go to Cal.
RM: What’s your favorite thing about Berkeley living? Bike boulevards? Berkeley Bowl? Hippies? Indian food? Passive aggression?
SR: Well, there’s nothing like the average hipster looking Joe being able to hike your projects. The food’s tasty, but not really for me.
RM: Tell us about climbing in Florida, aka not climbing?
SR: How do you compare the Bay Area scene with the Florida scene? The climbing in Florida is limited to plastic. Even so, the indoor scene there has produced some big names like Matt Segal and Megan Martin. People in the Bay Area actually assume that I’m a climber when I tell them I climb rocks rather than what I get from Floridians: “What do you climb, palm trees?”
RM: How far back can you trace the Jimmy Neutron joke? Would you prefer that people call you that from now on?
SR: After suing Nickelodeon and losing, I was forced to change my name from Jimmy to Steven. It’s sort of a sore subject, I try not to talk about it too much…
RM: What’re some of your favorite routes/boulder problems in the area?
SR: Climbing on Meldicott Dome in Tuolumne this past summer with Ben Polanco was outstanding. As for bouldering, I almost exclusively boulder at Mortar Rock in the Berkeley hills. Castle Rock is pretty stellar and my complete anti-style. I hope to get out more this fall for some bouldering in Yosemite and that awesome looking Columbia area.
RM: How do you like working at BIW? Isn’t Ryan just the BEST?!
SR: I love it! It allows me to maintain a flexible schedule for school and for climbing trips. And yes, Ryan is pretty great.
RM: Do you do anything to train besides belaying children?
SR: My training pretty much consists of of core workouts, ring exercises, bouldering at Mortar Rock, made up problems at the gym, and going rope climbing outside on the weekends. A non-rigid regime and rests keep me from getting burned out.
RM: Belaying isn’t all you do for Touchstone though, right? Don’t you also coach?
SR: I am one of the coaches for the East Betas at GWPC which is really exciting. I basically act as a climbing partner for the kids while giving tips and insight.
RM: What do you like about coaching?
SR: It allows me to pass on helpful advice that I learned when I was young(er).
RM: Is it true you’re on the ‘Colorado Diet’?
SR: Yup! My typical dinner is three pieces of air popped popcorn, salt for flavor, gauze pads for filling, and a stick of gum for dessert.
RM: What originally drew you to ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’?
SR: From Surf Safari and Endless Bummer, the Emperor Boulder sits down the hill near the water. It’s impressively tall (around 60ft) compared to the routes up the hill. The line itself became obvious to me because of the big jug ledge about 10 feet off of the ground. I figured the start would be a ‘Superman jump’ to the beginning hold which turned out to be true and AWESOME! The line hugs the obvious arete up the middle of the boulder. All in all, the beautiful scenery and the orange lichen speckling the rock make for an unforgettable experience.
RM: How long did it take you to clean it?
SR: I spent quite a while hanging in my harness. Prior to cleaning, I top roped the line and thought that it would go a certain way. About 12 hours later, after cleaning and sussing, the route was totally different.
RM: How many redpoint burns until the FA?
SR: I figured out all of the moves during the cleaning process and worked the sections quickly on self belay. By the time it was bolted, I was optimistic that I would get it on my first redpoint attempt, which I did. The process emphasized that really figuring out and remembering body positions and beta in little sections is the key to efficient climbing and huge gains in progress.
RM: Any plans for new routes in the future?
SR: On the Emperor Boulder there is a spectacular 5.10+/5.11- that be an instant classic once it’s bolted. That route alone would make a trip out to the coast well worth it. I’m also working on a climb that hasn’t been done on the Main Rock at Mickey’s Beach. Challenging large moves on small holds has kept it from being climbed so far. I hope that I can be the one to do it as it’s the first route I’ve been truly interested in projecting.
RM: What’s the secret to getting big hands and long fingers? Over zealous high fives? Chinese finger traps perhaps?
SR: Definitely the Chinese finger traps. Those things get the job done for sure!!!