DPM Climbing Issue 26 : Page 18
Check out the exclusive video of Jimmy Webb on Warpath (V14) in the eZine. PRO-files really begin to see progression. We were obsessed. Without Brion there, I'm not sure if I would have become the climber I am today.” If there’s one constant in Jimmy Webb’s climbing career, it’s progression and he recalls his send of Gangsta (5.12a) at the Obed, Tennessee as one his most memorable benchmarks. He grew up in Maryville, a suburb of Knoxville, Tennessee, and started climbing during his junior year with the high school climbing team. On his fi rst day on the school’s tiny wall, he top-roped a 5.10 and the team coach, Jack Pipenbring, immediately saw his potential saying, “Damn man, I think you might be good at this!” It was Jack, who worked as a Park Ranger, that took Jimmy on his fi rst outdoor climbing trips to the Obed where he worked. With his good friend Jeremy Walton, Jimmy worked through the grades. “ Gangsta was just the coolest route for me at the time,” he says. “It was bouldery and sustained and just perfect in my eyes. You know that feeling when you're really young and everything is just so new and exciting. Gangsta was like that for me and I really loved the process of sending it. I think it was actually the fi rst time I began to learn how to project a route, just going through the motions and eventually putting it together. I recall the feeling of clipping the anchors like it was yesterday. It's that process and end result we all climb for. It's that feeling of something being so impossible and eventually solving the puzzle that’s one of the best feelings in the world.” Jimmy’s no slouch at sport climbing, now having onsighted 5.14a and redpointed 5.14b/c, but even back then it was the puzzling aspect of individual sequences and moves on boulders that drew him in. “I was completely obsessed,” he says. “I would sit in class thinking about climbing and instead of taking notes I would be drawing up different routes, trying to think of the coolest movements you could do.” He pauses and adds with a laugh, “There were a lot of dynos.” The dream sequences played out in class were immediately followed by whirlwind drives to the Obed’s Lilly boulders, a small but quality fi eld of short sandstone cliff bands. Some of the Southeast’s hardest problems can be found at the unlikely location mostly due to development by James Litz, who lived in Knoxville at the time and was the strongest boulderer in the 18 region. “James’ problems seemed impossible,” says Jimmy. “I would always look at Chinese Arithmetic (V13) and just laugh. The holds seemed nonexistent and I just couldn't believe that it was actually climbable. Tilted World (V13) was like this mythical creature lurking in the woods that nobody had really seen before; some fairy tale that you had heard about but just didn't quite believe in. I climbed at Lilly for almost three years before I even saw the boulder. I remember the fi rst time I actually walked down there I couldn't even tell where the problem started or fi nished.” It was on a return trip to his home turf Lilly Boulders in 2011 that Jimmy fi nally slayed the mythical creature, and he remembers it going down fairly easily. “I was pleasantly surprised and it actually suited my style very well,” he says. “It was for sure an amazing feeling though. My confi dence went up a lot after that, and so I started to set my eyes on Chinese Arithmetic (V13). That one is absolutely heinous for me and still to this day I have yet to climb it. I got really close a few sessions but in the end the thing bit me and I would always walk away with split tips.