The latest edition of Climbing magazine devoted its cover and a big article to Jim Holloway (you can read the entire article online). From what I have read, Holloway is most famous for having a few problems around the Frontrange that have gone unrepeated despite doing the first ascents 30 years ago. Here he describes what he considers to be his hardest FA, Slapshot (V13??) on Dinosaur Mountain in the Flatirons outside of Boulder, CO:
Well, Slapshot was a pretty significant problem for me. I specifically hiked up Dinosaur Mountain to work on Slapshot a number of times for about a year in 1976-77. I remember that 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 takeoff point is critical, so that you don’t lunge out instead of up. I took a few rocky downhill rides from missing that move.
The other two notable unrepeated Holloway problems are Trice on Flagstaff Mountain and Meathook at Fort Collin’s Horsetooth Reservoir. I remember having read some inane and neverending arguments on the merits of Holloway’s ascents at rockclimbing.com. Some said that his problems were just super reachy (Holloway is 6’4″) while others argued that the kids these days just aren’t strong enough to repeat these visionary problems. It seems to me that the location of these problems (not at hyperclassic Frontrange crags) might also be part of it. The fact that holds have apparently broken off must also play a part (at least for Slapshot).
Perhaps one of the people reading this that lives in that area could shed some more light on the situation. What is the deal with Holloway’s problems?
Regardless, it unfortunately doesn’t sound like he is in very good health these days:
The cerebral nerves in both my legs are dead. When I get up in the morning, I have a hard time getting up and down the stairs. Driving is kind of interesting when I can’t tell were the pedals are. I can’t feel my feet. I’ve had 70-some stitches put in my leg over the last year from three different cuts I didn’t even feel happen. They even stitched them up without Novocain. I can take an electric drill to my feet and there is nothing there! I often get phantom pains; I feel pain even though my sensory nerves are all dead. For me to get back on the rock would be a disaster. It would be difficult to handle for me mentally. My brain thinks I can shoe up, but my body knows I can’t.
The interview with Jim Holloway was conducted by Andy Mann. He has a website http://rockymountainhighball.com/ which professes to be bringing an HD video of Colorado Highballs to the masses. I very much look forward to learning/seeing more about this.