Date: September 21st, 2016
About Jonathan Siegrist
Jonathan Siegrist (J-Star) is a 31-year-old professional rock climber from Boulder, Colorado. Since he started climbing as a kid, he’s become one of the world’s most prolific sport climbers. To date, he’s climbed four 5.15a’s, sixteen 5.14d’s and hundreds of other 5.14’s.
He’s also bouldered up to V14, sent sketchy PG-13 and R-rated trad climbs, and has sent 5.14 trad big walls. (Read his recent write-up on Arc-teryx about his ascent of Direct Dunn Westbay, a 5.14 multi-pitch route at 13,400 feet in Rocky Mountain National Park).
He’s also bolted a bunch of routes of all grades in Colorado, Idaho, and beyond.
Besides all that, he’s one of my best friends, and I think he’s one of the most motivated, positive people I’ve ever met. Aside from being an incredible climber, his genuine gratitude for life and hunger for adventure are inspirational to me. He’s also really fun to hang out with.
Jonathan Siegrist Interview Details
In this interview with Jonathan Siegrist, we talk about how his training has evolved since our first podcast interview a couple years ago. But mostly, we talk about his attitude towards climbing, how he takes care of his skin, and what’s next for him.
- Why counting # of tries is pointless
- His meticulous skin care
- How to heal a split tip
- Body weight and performance (real talk)
- Why he doesn’t fingerboard much anymore
- Bouldering as training
- Retiring if he sends Jumbo Love?
Jonathan Siegrist Links
- Jonathan on Facebook
- Jonathan on Instagram @jonathansiegrist
- Jonathan’s website: www.jstarinorbit.com
- My 1st Podcast Interview with Jonathan
- Videos of him climbing (lots)
Training Programs for You
- Check out our Route Climbing Training Program for route climbers of all abilities.
- Our other training programs: Training Programs Page.
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Please Review The Podcast on iTunes!
- Link to the TrainingBeta Podcast on iTunes is HERE.
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Photo by the newly wed and strong-off-the-couch, Benny Randolph.
Neely Quinn: Welcome to the TrainingBeta podcast, where I talk with climbers and trainers about how we can get a little better at our favorite sport. I’m your host, Neely Quinn, and today we’re on episode 61 where I talk with Jonathan Siegrist for a second time.
Before I get into describing that interview, I want to let you know that FrictionLabs, my favorite chalk company, is offering you guys – as my audience – some really great discounts on their chalk and other stuff that they sell. If you want to check that out you can go to www.frictionlabs.com/trainingbeta.
Alright. So this conversation with Jonathan Siegrist is my second conversation with him. We talked a couple years ago on the podcast about his training. I think he was trying to do Biographie at that time, which he did, and he’s done several/a handful of .15a’s since then and added that to his list of 5.14’s, including a bunch of .14d’s since that time. He’s done V14 – which actually, right after this recording, he did a V14 in Rocky Mountain National Park, which he was super psyched to do, because he had just done a .14a, which we’ll talk about, this alpine climb/trad climb.
He’s kind of a Renaissance Man when it comes to climbing. He does it all. In this conversation I wanted to catch up with him about training and climbing and his approach to training, because it’s definitely evolved since our last conversation. He was very, very into training all the time – not all the time, but a lot of the time – and we’ll talk today about the gains he saw from that and what has changed since then.
So, Jonathan is, like I said, a prolific climber. He’s amazing at what he does and he does this full time. He is the most confident climber I think I’ve ever seen, and I think he’s the most psyched climber I’ve ever met. For those reasons, I definitely look up to him as a climbing role model, but besides him sort of being a climbing hero to me he’s also one of my best friends. We spend a lot of time hanging out and talking, and we talk about climbing and training, but mostly we talk about girls. For him – not for me. He’s single, so for all you single ladies out there, just throwing it out there.
Anyway, I’m just going to let you listen to this interview now. Here’s Jonathan Siegrist. I hope you like it.
Neely Quinn: Alright, welcome to the show again, Jonathan Siegrist.
Jonathan Siegrist: Thank you. I’m pretty psyched to be here.
Neely Quinn: You’re still the only person I’ve ever interviewed in person.
Jonathan Siegrist: Really?
Neely Quinn: Yeah.
Jonathan Siegrist: Still?
Neely Quinn: Yeah.
Jonathan Siegrist: So, today is the second day.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, the second time.
Jonathan Siegrist: Really? That’s awesome. Cool.
Neely Quinn: I think. If I’m forgetting somebody, I’m sorry.
Jonathan Siegrist: [laughs]
Neely Quinn: Alright, so this is kind of a continuation of our first interview, which – what did we even talk about? It was so long ago.
Jonathan Siegrist: That was in Vegas.
Neely Quinn: Yeah.
Jonathan Siegrist: And, I don’t remember what we talked about, but it was in the closet.
Neely Quinn: Yes, it was in the closet. I think you were training for Biographie.
Jonathan Siegrist: Maybe, yeah – wow. That was a long time ago. Cool.
Neely Quinn: So then, you did Biographie. Bring us up to speed.
Jonathan Siegrist: Okay.
Neely Quinn: Starting from Biographie, which was in – what? 2013?
Jonathan Siegrist: 2014. In the spring of 2014 I went to France to climb that route and then afterwards, I went to Switzerland for the first time and did some climbing there. God – there’s so much that I’m going to forget trying to remember it all. Then, in 2015, I went to Spain for the first time – is that accurate? Yes, it’s true. In 2015 I went to Spain for the first time, to Siurana, and I was there for probably almost two months and then I explored some other crags around Spain. I actually ended up going back to Ceuse for a short time, and then I spent a big chunk of the summer bouldering in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Neely Quinn: Last summer.
Jonathan Siegrist: Yep – last summer – and then last fall I did some time on the road and then, actually, went back to Spain for another three months and spent almost two months in Oliana. This spring, again, I was in Las Vegas and I went to Switzerland, to the Bernese Oberland, for a little over two months this summer. For the last month, or even five weeks, I’ve been living in Estes Park, Colorado.
Neely Quinn: Cool. And this is the way your life goes.
Jonathan Siegrist: Yes, it is, and there’s many trips in there that I forgot to mention, but yeah – I’m never really in one place longer than a few months. I think the longest I’ve been anywhere for the last three or four years is Vegas, for two or three months. I love it like that. I think that and changing my environment, and also occasionally changing the discipline of climbing really helps keep me motivated. People ask me frequently, like, “How are you always psyched or always motivated on the next thing?” I think that if I was in one place, at the same crag, doing the same thing, it would be really hard. I have the extreme fortune and privilege to be able to move around as I get less-than-psyched, or as the weather changes, etc.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, and so, just to clarify for anyone who doesn’t know, you’re a professional climber. You get paid to do this. This is your job.
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah. This is my career, and it’s my passion, and – yeah – it means everything to me but I’m so fortunate that I’ve been able to turn it into a small living and my livelihood. I’m really happy about that and grateful everyday.
Neely Quinn: Okay, so let’s talk about some of the highlights of those trips that you just mentioned. So, you went to Spain. Maybe we could start – maybe we don’t need to go that far back, but we could start maybe in Switzerland?
Jonathan Siegrist: Okay, that’s fair. Sure.
Neely Quinn: Is that a good place to start?
Jonathan Siegrist: Sure. Yeah. So, in – I know this is going back. We mentioned we were not going to, but after my trip to Ceuse in 2014, I went to Switzerland for the first time and I explored just a little bit. I mainly went to try and climb this one Beat Kammerlander route, called Speed, that’s at Voralpsee, which is in the far east side of Switzerland.
Neely Quinn: And that’s a 9a?
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah. Cedric Lachet did an alternate finish to the route that he called 9a. I believe that Speed on it’s own, which is considered .14c, I believe that most people that have repeated it as well also consider it to be really hard for the grade. It adds like a .13c crux, basically, to the end of Speed with a poor rest in between. For me, it’s certainly – I thought it was likely 9a.
Anyways, I had seen some film of Dave Graham climbing this route in an old climbing video called Autoroute that I obsessed over for years and I really just wanted to go and have a look at Switzerland and have a look at this crag and I’m so happy I went. I totally fell in love with Switzerland. The climbing there – I just had/most crags I only spent maybe a maximum of three or four days at, but I got to see a few and at that point I planted the seed that I knew I would come back, because it was just a lot going on there.
Then, fast-forward two years and I was looking for something to do earlier this summer. I remembered that I had such an awesome experience in Switzerland and I really wanted to go back so I booked a trip there. I rented an apartment in Interlaken, which is a great location. It’s in a central location to be a climber. It’s awesome.
I flew in in the beginning of May and I went directly to the biggest climbing event in the world, Melloblocco, in Val di Mello, Italy. It’s like a bouldering event, which was spectacular. The Italians are awesome and they showed me a really good time. Beautiful area.
From there I actually went to Verolpsee, where I did Speed a couple of years ago, and my mission was to repeat a 1997 route from Beat Kammerlander called The Missing Link, that’s on a cliff that’s a bit obscure. You hike about a half an hour above the cliff where Speed and some of the other classics like Euphoria and stuff are. I had heard a lot about and read a lot about this route. I’m a total history geek and so when I was there before, I had looked into this route. It was really mythical. It was unrepeated since ‘97 and Beat Kammerlander, who is a huge inspiration of mine – he’s done a lot of climbing in the Ratikon and around eastern Switzerland and also in western Austria. He’s an upstanding, well-rounded climber and I’ve been really motivated by his climbs for a long time. This route, The Missing Link, he always said was his hardest route and no one really knew exactly where it was. There were some rumors that it could be technically off limits, like because of where it’s situated, having to do with some hunting laws in Switzerland. There was all this kind of mythical aura surrounding the route, so that made it much more interesting to me.
I gathered as much information as I could about it and went with a buddy of mine – Logan, actually, who was visiting at the time – and found the route and cleaned it. It was obvious it had not been tried for at least a decade. I cleaned it, hung my draws and did the route, which I was really excited about. It’s probably a 35-meter route on perfect limestone. Super technical, edgy, very – like – very much what I would like. His style and that’s my favorite style as well, so that was awesome to begin the trip. That really motivated me.
From there, I moved into my house in Interlaken and I spent most of my time climbing at an amazing crag just a 20-minute drive from Interlaken called Gimmelwald that’s super stacked. The easiest route is .13- and there are a ton of 5.14’s there.
Neely Quinn: What did you do?
Jonathan Siegrist: My primary goal for that trip was to try this other unrepeated 9a – I think it’s from 2006, I want to say – an absolute amazing route, again, that I had heard about and seen when I had visited Switzerland in 2014, and the route is called Jungfrau Marathon. It’s just a really cool power endurance route with a cruxy section towards the top. Really shouldery, crimpy, just awesome. Short, steep, and hard the whole way.
I worked on that route and barely managed to pull it off before the rain kind of descended on my trip. I spent many weeks in the rain in Switzerland, unfortunately. I hustled really hard to kind of drive around the country. There’s a lot of microclimates in Switzerland so you’re able to find dry rock most of the time.
I did a lot of driving after I climbed several more routes in Gimmelwald and I ended up going down to this area called Rawyl, which is in Valais, which is a French-speaking part of Switzerland. It’s in the southwestern region, really near to, or quite near to Chamonix and quite near to the town of Mont Blanc area. It’s really beautiful down there.
Rawyl is a world class cliff, also limestone, streaked, beautiful. My main goal there was to climb this route, Cabane au Canada, which probably got most of it’s notoriety from Adam Ondra. He – I think he onsighted it. I can’t remember if he flashed or onsighted it, but he did it first try, anyway. It’s a 9a and a totally amazing route. I fell in love with that cliff and that route and I ended up climbing in that area a lot and trying to just do everything that I could there.
Then, towards the end of my trip, I ended up back checking out a few other areas. One area, Gastlosen, and a few other crags, then I came back to Gimmelwald and I finished up a couple other routes that I really wanted to do.
Neely Quinn: Which were 5.14’s, I’m assuming?
Jonathan Siegrist: Uh, yeah.
Neely Quinn: And then what? Then you came home?
Jonathan Siegrist: Then the trip was over and I came home and – let’s see – I immediately went to Canada for the Arc’teryx Climbing Festival, the Arc’teryx Climbing Academy, which is in Squamish, which was awesome. I checked out some new crags there and then a short trip to Outdoor Retailer and since then I’ve basically been living in Estes Park. I did a lot of climbing on the Diamond and now I’m trying to boulder again, but it’s really hard. [laughs]
Neely Quinn: Okay, we’ll get to that. I just want to touch more on Switzerland. You did – how long were you there?
Jonathan Siegrist: I was there, I think, 70 days, so 68 days or something. A little over two months.
Neely Quinn: Okay, and did you have a number of routes? You’re very calculated, I know, with your goals, so what exactly were your goals?
Jonathan Siegrist: Well, my exact goals were that I really wanted to climb The Missing Link, which I did. I really wanted to climb Jungfrau Marathon, which I also did. I wanted to climb Cabane au Canada, which I did. I also wanted to climb this route called Torture Psysique Integrale, which I did not do. It’s at an area called Gastlosen and unfortunately, it was just too wet.
By the time – there was a chance of me maybe pulling it off before the trip end, but I had dealt so much with wet routes and kind of managing the stress regarding routes constantly being wet and drying holds. Every ascent, I think, I had the whole time in Switzerland, at least one or ten holds on the route was wet. It was just about bringing extra chalk and drying off your hands and plugging up holds with tissue paper and aluminum foil, and basically using any and all means possible to get up the wall. After doing that for two months I was pretty burnt out so when I realized that Torture Physique was going to be wet, I just kind of decided to move on and do something else. Of course, in the moment, because I’m so goal-oriented and really hard on myself, in the moment I was really heartbroken because I was so close to completing the goal I had came to Switzerland to do. You know now, looking back, it’s like: who cares? You know? In fact, I took some of the time I would have spent on that route and I opened a new route, an FA, in Rawyl, that’s called Hyperfinale and did several other things that were totally awesome. It’s like – it’s fine.
Neely Quinn: Right. You did a bunch of other – I remember you saying you did a bunch of other .14’s while you were there, right?
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah. It was good. I mean, it was a good volume trip for me. That’s kind of what I wanted. I didn’t want to get into any specific route that would be too terribly hard. I mean, relatively. It wasn’t a trip like my previous trip. When I went to Siurana I went to climb La Rambla. When I went to Oliana I went to climb Papichulo, and when I went to Ceuse I went to climb Biographie. I didn’t want it to be that kind of trip. I wanted it to be a little more fun, playing and seeing a bunch of different crags.
At the time for me, emotionally, too, I had had kind of a rough spring so I just wanted to play. In that sense, it was perfect. Of course, I’m not good at just completely letting go so I still had goals, obviously, and I still was disappointed by some failure but in the end, it was an awesome trip. I got to see so many different places in Switzerland and I had a lot of rad friends to hang out with there. Despite almost a month straight of rain, I made the best of it and it was awesome.
Neely Quinn: Cool. So, is part of your goal to send these things in a certain number of tries?
Jonathan Siegrist: No. I actually – this is just me getting old and salty, I think, but I’m over the whole ‘tries’ thing. I think it’s kind of stupid, to be honest.
Neely Quinn: Why is that?
Jonathan Siegrist: I mean, because it’s just – I see a lot of people becoming really focused on number of tries, to the extent that a report of your success is only complete if you say exactly how many times it took you to try the route, down to – I see people even mention, like, three and a half tries. Like, the third try was only blah, blah, blah. I could care less.
The nice thing about doing things quickly, in fewer tries, is that you have more time to send other things. Of course, it’s like a measurement of relative strength. If something takes you a day versus it taking you a whole season or five years, then yeah – one climber is better than the other or you’ve had a better trip than you would have otherwise, etc.
I don’t know. That kind of nitpicky stuff – it’s awesome when you can do things really quickly and I certainly think finishing things in a day or, certainly, onsighting or flashing things is really admirable and rad, but my focus on number of tries or number of days or whatever, I’ve completely let go of that. I just want to climb stuff. I don’t care how long it takes me.
Neely Quinn: Okay, so I think I remember you saying/didn’t you onsight or flash .14b while you were there? Right? Speaking of flashing things?
Jonathan Siegrist: I did, yeah. I did this route called Paradise. It depends on who you talk to but it’s either called Paradise Artificial or Paradise Natural. It actually has a pretty interesting story. It’s at Rawyl and I met this amazing climber in the area, Jean Elie Lugon, and his father was one of the primary developers of the area way back in the day. He thought that this route was impossible so he actually added a plastic hold onto the route. Originally it was 8b, .13d, and it had a bolt-on gym hold in the middle and then after some years, they just imagined it could be done without it so they all came together and removed the hold.
He originally named the route Artificial Paradise and basically, people have started talking about it as Natural Paradise now because the hold is gone. It’s speculative about whether or not the route might be .14a. Many people say .14b, some people say .14a, but yeah – I was really pleased to flash that route. I flashed another .14a at the cliff as well that I was really stoked on, that was perfectly my style. It was crimpy/a little crimp ladder.
Neely Quinn: Nice.
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah. That was fun. That was cool. I’m always really psyched to do things first try. Most of the time I do things in a lot of tries. [laughs]
Neely Quinn: [laughs] A lot of tries is very relative, I think, to a lot of people.
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah, it’s true.
Neely Quinn: I mean, in general with those 9a’s, how long are they taking you? I know you don’t care, but try and…
Jonathan Siegrist: I don’t know. I really don’t keep track, honestly. I mean…
Neely Quinn: 3-20? 50?
Jonathan Siegrist: Sure. Yeah – between 3-5 and 12ish.
Neely Quinn: I think that some people might be – and I’m actually interested in this, too. I’ve climbed with you enough to kind of know but, what is it like on a climbing day for you? I know that you’ve said that you’ve sent hard stuff on, like, your sixth attempt of the day, which is pretty badass in my opinion. Is that a typical thing for you to do? Are you trying your projects many, many times in a day?
Jonathan Siegrist: I’m a really logistical climber so I’m always like – I was just talking with my dad about this last night, but – so much of my head is just thinking logistically, in regards to: when is my next rest day? What is the weather forecast? What is my partner situation gonna be? What was my day like yesterday? How well did I sleep? Etc, etc. I’m just a freak, calculating these things all of the time.
Some days, definitely, and depending on the type of route, I’ll try as many times as my body will allow. I mean, this one route in Gimmelwald, for instance, this route that I did at the end of my trip that I actually feel was the hardest route of my whole trip, was called El Molinero. For me, for my style, for my size, whatever – or, it’s just really hard – it felt/it took me far more efforts than anything else did. It was only .14c. I mean ‘only.’ Whatever – it’s still a hard route but compared to the other stuff it was easier. There were days when I tried it, like, six or seven times, just because it’s bouldery and relatively short and the zone where I was falling was pretty close to the ground – maybe .13a or b intro climbing to get to where I was falling – so yeah, for me it was worth it to try a bunch of times.
On a route like Papichulo for instance, where you’re climbing 50 meters and you’re falling off halfway up after doing 100 moves, I could never try that route six times in a day. Two or three times, maximum, but again – it’s all about that – I think that, in general, logistics is something that a lot of climbers don’t think over as much as they should.
Neely Quinn: Like when they’re going to be resting?
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah, or just making the best use of your time, you know? Is it your fourth day on and your skin is messed-up and you’re only looking at maybe one rest day, and the weather is going to be good? Etc, etc. All of these different things can play into: is it time to go to the death and try your project a hundred times in a day, or is it better if you try it once and seal the deal? I mean, not seal the deal in terms of sending it but close the day and belay your bros, hang out, and get into rest immediately.
I’m the kind of guy that like – I’ll rip my finger skin on a try and I’ll lower to the ground and before I take my shoes off, I’ll wrap up my finger and be like, ‘I’m going into rest. I have a rest day tomorrow.’ The moment I stop climbing is the moment that I start thinking about my next try, and therefore the moment that I start resting. Just like all those little logistical things, I’ve been a redpoint climber primarily. I’ve never really done competition and I’ve mostly done redpoint sport climbing for the last 10 years. For me, it’s really important to consider all of that kind of stuff.
Neely Quinn: So, can we talk about skin for a little bit? You’re super meticulous about your finger skin, your hand skin, and we actually get a lot of emails from people like, “How can I take care of my skin? What do you do?” Can you give me an overview of how you take care of your skin and when you know it’s time to stop climbing because of it?
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah, totally. It’s a lot to talk about in an hour-long podcast, but I would say primarily that I don’t get my skin – I don’t wash dishes with dish soap. I use gloves to wash dishes. I’m not so freaky that I put on gloves when I wash my hair in the shower or anything like that, but I just try and limit the exposure to warm, soapy water as much as I can with my skin.
Neely Quinn: Why is that?
Jonathan Siegrist: It just softens your skin, in general. I think that you want hard skin for the most part. It can actually dry out your skin really badly. I know of some people – I have, actually, really dry skin in general and in the winter I have issues with cracking. A lot of times, if I’m climbing in a desert environment, like in Las Vegas or something, and it’s windy and the humidity is below 20%, I can’t climb. My skin is so dry and slick that I can’t get up the wall.
Neely Quinn: I know. That was the weirdest thing. I was belaying you on Jumbo Love and you were falling off because your fingers were too dry. You would come off and scream, “My fingers are so dry!” [laughs] We were like, “What is he talking about?”
Jonathan Siegrist: [laughs] I know. It’s a problem that very few climbers have, and you know, so many people when I tell them that are like, “I’m so jealous. I’m endlessly jealous of you,” and the reality of it is it’s just an issue just as much as sweating a lot. You just have to kind of pick your environments and take care of your skin in a different way.
I mean, I know friends – and Joel Love is a good friend, for instance, and he’s a great climber and he sweats like a banshee. He can’t stop his fingers from sweating. He would never really dream of putting a moisturizer or something like that on his skin at night, but for me, before I go to bed every night, I put Climb On! on my skin. Then a lot of times, for me, I think I actually perform better in humid climates. When it’s 80% humidity and hot, no one is going to do well. I don’t care how dry your skin is. For me, definitely near 50% humidity and cool can be great, for me, and I think for a lot of climbers that can be death.
Neely Quinn: And you file your skin, too.
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah, definitely. I try and take – the point behind filing your skin is just to basically, whenever one portion of your fingertip skin gets hard and callused, and other portions are soft, whenever you have that contrast of hard and soft skin next to each other it makes it much easier for it to rip, basically, in those areas. If you have a really hard callused area, especially on the pads of your hands or on – not on your fingertips, but on – the second and third digit, or the second and third pad, rather, that’s how you get a flapper, basically. It’s when you have that really hard skin next to soft skin, so I try and file my skin pretty much every day.
Neely Quinn: File it so it’s more even.
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah, so it’s more even throughout.
Neely Quinn: Anything else? Like, what do you do – you have a particular method when you do get a split.
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah. My fingers split a lot, and I think part of reason is because I do have dry skin. When it’s cold and the climbing conditions are good, it can be really hard on your skin. Secondly, I have – I know the people listening can’t see this, but – my first joint bends back quite a bit. If I’m in a closed-hand crimp, especially on my pointer finger, that finger bends backward quite a bit and I think the result of that is stretching the skin. Basically, it bends back more than normal people, I would say. I think the result of that is that the crease, the first crease in especially my pointer finger, tends to rupture quite a bit. Definitely in dry, cold temps.
One thing that I actually learned from Robyn Erbesfield, and I kid you not, this is some of the best finger skin healing information that I’ve ever received from anyone, is that when you do get splits like that, in either your fingertip or in the crease, at night – and again, I’m such a freak that when I lower off of routes sometimes I’ll do this immediately after, even still at the crag with chalk on my hands – I actually tape my finger. I use a q-tip or any hard, little piece of wood or something, or I’ll take apart clothespins and I’ll use one side of the clothes pin, but I basically tape the clothespin to the back of my finger so that it’s taped in an open position, so my finger is taped in such a way that it would look like I’m always pointing.
The point of that is that overnight and otherwise when your skin is healing, it’s healing in the open position so that in the morning, when you go and start climbing again, it tends not to rip open. If you can imagine your hand being balled-up into a fist, like when you’re sleeping or when you’re just hanging out watching a movie or whatever, which is pretty much the natural position of the hand, the skin is going to grow in a closed position. Then, when you outstretch your finger again the next day or the following day or whatever to crimp – well, especially to crimp, but really to grab anything – it’s just stretching that skin way back open again. I think if it can heal in an open position, it gives it/much less elasticity is required of the skin to refrain from rupturing.
Neely Quinn: Right.
Jonathan Siegrist: It’s helped me to a degree that I can’t really describe to you guys. Like, doing that – I used to get splits/I used to, basically, just have splits on my pointer fingers starting in November until March of every year, of every climbing season. Now, I don’t deal with splits at all, or if I do, it’s something that lasts a week instead of a month.
Neely Quinn: Do you put anything on it?
Jonathan Siegrist: I do. I put Climb On! on it, and Polly Glasse is the founder and inventor and she’s awesome and knows so much about skin. I’ve actually interviewed her a bunch, out of total desperation when I’m out at the cliff and my skin’s messed up. I think I’ve sent her emails from the cliff. She’s helped me a lot to figure out the best ways to heal skin and what she says more than anything, and I’m sure tons of people have comments otherwise, but what she’s told me and what’s been helpful for me is to keep the wound actually wet and moist all the time. I keep, if I have any open wounds on my hands that I’m trying to heal, I keep it pretty well lathered up with Climb On! constantly.
Neely Quinn: Okay. Anything else about hands or skin?
Jonathan Siegrist: No. Just take care of them. They’re really important. [laughs] You know? Skin is good. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter how strong you are, if you have tears on every finger, you’re not going to send. Well, if you’re Alex Megos you probably will. Every picture I ever see of that guy, he has tape on every finger. I’m like, “Dude! How did you do it?”
Neely Quinn: [laughs] I’m going to take a break here real quick and let you guys that FrictionLabs, my favorite chalk company by far, no questions asked, has some really awesome new products for you guys. They have a chalk ball now, for anybody who climbs in a gym who doesn’t allow chalk to be loose, they have chalk balls, which is great. They also have liquid chalk, which I use a lot in the summer when my hands get really sweaty and hot, because laying down that base layer of chalk/liquid chalk, really, really does help keep the chalk on for longer. That one I tested out in the gym and it worked great. They also have a salve for your hands now. If you want to check things out go to www.frictionlabs.com and if you want great deals on their stuff you can go to www.frictionlabs.com/trainingbeta.
Alright, back to the interview.
Neely Quinn: Okay, let’s talk about training. Actually, before we talk about that, let’s talk about what you recently accomplished. You kind of took a break from sport climbing and you were kind of doing these mega days up in Rocky Mountain National Park. Do you want to describe that briefly? And then, we’ll get into training.
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah. I climbed a lot on the Diamond, on the east face of Long’s Peak, over the last month. I mean, you know – a lot of it was climbing but quite a bit of it was logistics and acclimating and all those things are important for a wall, especially a wall at altitude.
My goal and what I was really excited to do this summer was to climb the The Direct Dunn Westbay, on the right side of the Diamond. It’s a free route, kind of something that frees an old aid route, which was the Dunn Westbay. Tommy Caldwell did the first ascent in 2013 and then I went to do the second ascent this year and I was successful, like, two weeks ago. It was cool. It was really awesome. The actual day that I did the route was amazing and very memorable, but the whole experience was just rad.
You know, I’m really passionate about trad climbing and about climbing multi-pitch routes and walls. The main reason why I haven’t done more of that in the last few years is because my focus has been on doing my absolute best in sport climbing and they don’t mingle well, [laughs] which I’m finding out now, after just mostly hiking. The problem is you want to be so well rested when you go up to try these kind of things that you’re really not climbing very much. I was maybe only climbing – for a couple weeks – I was maybe only climbing twice a week, other than doing miles and miles and miles of hiking and hauling loads and stuff.
Neely Quinn: How long was the hike up there, again?
Jonathan Siegrist: Well, in the beginning, I was going to the/essentially summiting Long’s Peak and coming in from the top to work the route/to rope-solo on the route. So, I did that three days.
To be fair, I came in one day to acclimate, get to top of the route, and I went down and checked a few things out on the last pitch, but I spent three days up there rope-soloing, basically all day, which are just huge days, like you mentioned. I mean, you walk – it depends on how many shortcuts you take, but it’s between six and eight miles, something like that – to the summit of Long’s Peak with over, probably, like 5,000 feet of elevation gain. Then, you rap down a 600-foot rope and on those days I was probably doing 800 feet of climbing, because I would do the crux pitch twice. Probably more than that – almost 1,000 feet of climbing. Then, you get to the top of the wall after doing all that and you have to haul the rope which, if you’re alone, which I was each time, is an enormous burden in an of itself.
Because of the way the top of the route is situated, you have to haul the rope twice, so that takes me probably 40 minutes at least, maybe an hour, and then as pooped as you can imagine you’d be after all of that, it’s 4:00pm and you haven’t had water or food for hours and you’ve got a mellow, seven mile descent down to the car. [laughs]
So yeah, they were really big days but it was cool. It was just motivating to change disciplines and that’s really the direction I would like to see my climbing going in general. It’s just I have a few more goals in sport climbing before I totally cash out and become a trad climber. [laughs] That’s what I’d really like to do, honestly, in a couple of years.
Neely Quinn: Yeah. You sent me a text recently that said, “I really want to get strong again at climbing.” Do you feel like you lost some strength and power, or was that just you being delusional?
Jonathan Siegrist: Um, to a degree it’s probably a little bit of both, but no – I went to, and I wrote a piece on the Arc’teryx bird blog about my experience the day of climbing a route with my dad, and if you go over there and check it out that’d give you a little idea of kind of how hard I went on the day that I sent. It did not go smoothly. I went completely to the death. I remember after the other hard route on the Diamond that’s called The Honeymoon is Over – I did that four years ago, in 2012, and I also remember after doing that that I was quite tore up for a while, but I mean I was wrecked for/I was recovering for a week afterwards, I think.
Neely Quinn: Yeah. I saw your dad two weeks later and he was like, “I’m maybe 70% recovered.”
Jonathan Siegrist: That’s crazy. Yeah, my dad went to the death, too. It was awesome. Part of it was just being so pooped from such a big day and just trying so hard, I think both mentally and physically. Also, just – there’s no – I wasn’t totally delirious. I was in a bad place, especially power-wise. My stamina and my hiking was the best it’s ever been. [laughs]
Neely Quinn: Well that’s good. That’s good for your sport climbing. [laughs]
Jonathan Siegrist: But no, I hadn’t – I got kind of burnt out on training in the spring. Before I left for Switzerland I did some training and then about two or three weeks before I left I kind of decided that I was over training. Both I was over training and also I was over-training, so I kind of took it back a notch and went to Switzerland and had that rad trip that I was stoked on. I came back and got into the Diamond thing so it had been a long time since I had trained and it had been a long time since I had gone bouldering.
My goal after doing the Dunn Westbay was just to do some boulders in Rocky Mountain National Park and it was a rude awakening, going back to bouldering after that. I was just in a bad spot with power, with strength…
Neely Quinn: Yeah, you said you were struggling on things that you had easily done before.
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah, for sure. I was in a completely different place than I was last year. It was both motivating and really depressing at the same time. You want to just be good at everything all the time but – and you know, some people can, but – that’s not me. I can’t. Generally speaking, I have to invest a lot into anything that I’m trying and then I’ll stand at a place that I’m really proud of and I can succeed and be strong and climb the way I want to.
So, yeah. Partly, I was really inspired because I was looking back at the summer I had last summer bouldering, and I was like, ‘Dude! I was awesome! I did so much awesome stuff! Oh my god! Geez – can I ever be that good again? That would be so cool.’
Neely Quinn: Yeah, what did you do last summer?
Jonathan Siegrist: I did/in a month, I did 12, V12’s or harder. You know, Daniel does that in between lunch and dinner, but it was just awesome for me because it was my first real experience going full fledged into bouldering and it was really cool to see that all the work that I had invested in training could cross over to a different discipline, like bouldering. It’s really so different, it’s so different – bouldering and sport climbing and certainly, of course, trad climbing and wall climbing. It’s, like, on the totally opposite end of the spectrum, but even just bouldering and sport climbing, they are such different disciplines. Of course, it’s still climbing up rocks and whatever but, you know, they require very different things of you.
Neely Quinn: So, let’s look forward now. You’re trying to boulder. Do you have projects that you’re trying to do?
Jonathan Siegrist: Ideally, I can just get up some hard boulders.
Neely Quinn: What does that mean to you?
Jonathan Siegrist: It would be really cool if I could do a couple V13-ish things, or harder, would be sweet. I have no idea what to expect.
Neely Quinn: And that’s within the next couple of weeks.
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah. I have only a couple of weeks because I want to get back to climbing routes [laughs], you know? And the season is going to close. It’s already snowed on Long’s four or five times since I sent the route. The last two days I tried to go bouldering I got epically rained on, like, yesterday, fully rained out. Every boulder was soaking from top to bottom.
Neely Quinn: Okay, so you’re going to boulder for the next couple of weeks and then you’re going to Rifle.
Jonathan Siegrist: Yes. Well, first I’m going to the Idaho Mountain Fest, which is in City of Rocks, or Castle, which is going to be awesome. I love that event. Then from there – that’s on September 24th and 25th and I’m teaching an intro to trad climbing clinic. Then from there, I go to, hopefully, to Rifle to get back into sport climbing shape for a couple of weeks.
Neely Quinn: And then?
Jonathan Siegrist: And then to Las Vegas.
Neely Quinn: Because?
Jonathan Siegrist: Because I want to try Jumbo Love again.
Neely Quinn: You’re not super psyched on telling people your goals sometimes.
Jonathan Siegrist: Oh I hate it. I hate it.
Neely Quinn: Sorry. So then you’re going to try to do Jumbo Love for a few weeks?
Jonathan Siegrist: [laughs] Yeah, yeah I am.
Neely Quinn: Like, a solid 21 days?
Jonathan Siegrist: Exactly. Yeah, you know, I just really want to try it again and see how it feels. I’m not – the route is so hard for me, and it’s such a hard route. I went back and forth so many times trying to decide whether or not I would try again, ever, let alone whether or not I would try this fall and…
Neely Quinn: Because it’s hard.
Jonathan Siegrist: Because it’s hard. It’s hard and it’s reachy, like a bastard, and it’s, you know, it’s just hard to find partners. I know realistically there’s probably 1% of me that thinks I can do the route and the other 99 knows I won’t. It’s just hard to drive into that kind of hell, you know? To just be like, ‘Welp. Gotta go fail for a month.’ That’s – I’m just trying to kind of have a long vision and…
Neely Quinn: Well, you said that if you did it you would retire.
Jonathan Siegrist: I would give up. [laughs] I would definitely give up from trying to climb hard sport routes, probably.
Neely Quinn: Really?
Jonathan Siegrist: I don’t know. Maybe I wouldn’t. Probably not. I do just want to go get in my truck with my dog and go bolt routes forever and trad climb. Those are the things that make me super happy. I mean, I love single pitch sport climbing and I’ve been training a little bit recently because I’m trying to get my fingers strong again.
I have to admit that when I get in the gym and I feel good and I’m pushing myself and I have headphones on and I’m cranking to some music I love or whatever, I get psyched. I get really psyched. Like, an intense rush of motivation came back to me last week when I went back training for the first time. I went from thinking very little of myself and knowing that the fall would be destined to failure to being like, ‘I’m going to send the world! I’m going to go to Spain and rah!’ I get all psyched up, and that’s a cool feeling.
I love that process of training to accomplish something and then hopefully doing it.
Neely Quinn: Okay, so what does that look like for you? Like, you’re training for bouldering right now, which I think for you looks like training your fingers and bouldering, right?
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah. It’s all just like a Russian doll – what are they called? Russian dolls? The doll that’s inside of a bigger doll?
Neely Quinn: Sure. You can call it a Russian doll.
Jonathan Siegrist: I don’t know what’s the actual term for it. Whatever. It’s all just – yeah – I mean, I’m trying to just get my fingers strong so I can boulder well so that I can have a good shot of going back to Vegas and also so I can go to Spain in December.
Neely Quinn: So you’re training power so that the moves on the route can feel a little bit easier.
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah. Exactly. And power is just my weakness. I’m bad at power, and I know I say I’m bad at a lot of things and people are like, ‘Oh, whatever. Shut up,’ but no – I’m bad at being powerful. It’s something I need to work on more than anything else.
I really had so much fun bouldering in Rocky Mountain last year, looking at either doing a month of campusing and hangboarding and stuff in the gym versus being outside everyday and maybe even ticking some hard boulders, possibly – I’m like, ‘Oh, that would be much cooler.’ For me, it’s a form of training, for sure.
Neely Quinn: To boulder.
Jonathan Siegrist: To boulder.
Neely Quinn: And when you’re outside bouldering, are you on a schedule? Like, do you have, ‘This is how many tries I’m going to put in and how many boulders I’m going to do today?’ Or are you only letting yourself rest a certain amount? Or are you just…
Jonathan Siegrist: Oh no. It’s just trying to get to the top of stuff, so it’s just picking a hard boulder or something that’s hard for me and just trying to do it. Spending however many days it takes to do it and then just moving on to something else. The aim is, if I can get through a couple of hard boulders then I’ll work on different strengths, you know, because each boulder is demanding in a different way. The timing and the resting and the being explosive and trying really hard in the moment and, again, the logistical approach to bouldering or whatever – all of that will inform my attempts on sport routes, for sure, which I found to absolutely true last year.
Actually, after I left bouldering last year, one of my first trips was – well, first I went to Independence Pass and did some trad climbing for three or four days and then I went to the Finns again, and I bolted a line there. A short one with a really hard fingery crux. It’s like, by all means, a little boulder problem. It wound up to be .14d or something. I called it Mala Leche. It’s short. It’s 30 or something feet, and it was so clear to me that there was no way I could have done that route if I hadn’t spent five weeks bouldering. I was still getting pumped doing longer stuff for sure. Even trying longer easy 5.13’s at the Finns and stuff were – I was like, ‘Woah.’ Barely making it up kind of thing.
Neely Quinn: So then, how do you train for that, too? Because then you went to Spain after that, right?
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah, it was a couple months after but yeah.
Neely Quinn: So then, you got your power up from bouldering. You were doing finger strength training, so you were really strong and powerful, but then – like you just mentioned – the power endurance part, what did you do to train that?
Jonathan Siegrist: For me, personally, I don’t train power endurance or endurance. Ever.
Neely Quinn: You just climb?
Jonathan Siegrist: I just go climbing. The reason is because by default, because of what I did the first, basically, 10 years of my climbing, those two things I’m very good at. The other two things, strength and power, I’m really bad at
Neely Quinn: Like, regaining your power endurance.
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah. The whole concept is pushing your personal limit up a little bit, right? Or pushing it back to where it was before. You know, if I can get to boulder V13 or potentially V14 again, that would be rad. It would just, generally, give me the sense that I have a certain amount of strength and power, which I know is required for me to do the routes/the boulders that are of that grade in Rocky Mountain, at least.
I set a certain bar, if you will, or a certain standard for myself. A certain personal best in power and strength and then, when it comes time to train that again in November, before I return to Oliana in December, it’ll be easier for me to come back to that same place, basically. It’s just about taking certain parts of the year and maintaining these personal bests or maintaining the maximums and keeping the power and the strength at a certain level.
Everything I do, all the sport routes that I did in Switzerland, even in some degree climbing on the Diamond and everything I was doing in the spring, those are all easily maintaining my stamina and my power endurance. I don’t feel like I need to train those things, and I’ve never/I don’t really – I fall because I can’t – I don’t really often fall because I’m so flaming pumped. If I do, then in three or four more days of trying the route, I’m not pumped anymore and I can do it.
Neely Quinn: That sounds amazing.
Jonathan Siegrist: It’s sweet! It’s sweet, but the problem is if there’s a boulder problem on the route harder than V10 I’m screwed. That’s, or at least that’s what it was largely for me two and a half years ago when I started to actually train.
What I’ve been able to change is – okay – there’s an opening boulder problem that’s really hard and then there’s another one up higher that is really hard and you have to do it when you’re super pumped. It would have been impossible for me before, but due to spending so much time and energy training strength and power, it’s totally revolutionized my ability to do those things, you know? But I can’t/the reality is, me personally, and people in general, you can’t be good at everything all at the same time. You have to be really methodical at: when is it important to be at your top level of power? Or when is power a little less important and stamina or power endurance is maybe 60 or 70% of the challenge? Figuring all of that out is a big part of it.
Neely Quinn: Okay, so we’re almost up to an hour and we really haven’t talked about training at all. Good job us.
Jonathan Siegrist: Hey, that’s all training talk, kind of.
Neely Quinn: No, it’s all interesting but I do want to know what your training days are looking like in the gym or wherever you’re training.
Jonathan Siegrist: Well, I kind of went overboard, like I said, in the spring and also I have been nursing a – I don’t want to say an injured shoulder but a weary shoulder since probably the beginning of last year.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, you’re so weird. I always ask, “Does it hurt?” and you always say, “No, it just feels weird.”
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah. It just feels not right. That’s what you get when you frickin’ hang for 90 minutes a day, strapping on tons of weight to your body and stuff forever, which was awesome for my fingers but I think I essentially got to a point – and I’ve talked to other people I think that have had a similar situation – where my fingers were so strong that they weren’t the weakest link. My form wasn’t as good as it should have been and it just compromised my left shoulder. It’s never kept me from climbing. I’ve never once felt like I can’t send because of my shoulder, knock on wood, which is great but it’s certainly been there and I’m really attuned to little things that are going on in my body, which I think is really important. So yeah, I’ve noticed it.
I’ve basically tried to not do much hanging since the spring, since probably – I don’t know, probably since March or April, and just go climbing instead. That’s part of the reason why I’m doing some bouldering now.
Neely Quinn: And so now…
Jonathan Siegrist: But I did go into the gym a few days in the last two weeks, and I have a set of weights and hangboards and everything I need up in my little cabin in Estes Park.
Neely Quinn: So, are you still doing the Anderson Brothers-type thing?
[dog sound] That was Zeke, by the way.
Jonathan Siegrist: Zeke. Hey, Zeke.
Yeah, I still subscribe largely to what the Anderson Brothers have written about in their Rock Climbers’ Training Manual.
Neely Quinn: Sort of like, seven seconds on, three seconds off?
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah, and generally I adjust it for bouldering, so I do six seconds, on four seconds off. The primary thing that I’m trying to do instead is add less weight, so I’ve been making holds a little bit worse. At a certain point I was using a half-inch wooden edge and the weight I was adding to my body weight was just so much it was horrendous on all the structure of my whole physique, basically.
I’m doing some things to change how much weight I have. I’m using a smaller edge, I’m doing fewer grip positions, and I’m actually hanging/I’m doing fewer sets. Instead of where, in the past, I would have done repeaters, or one set of seven repetitions and one set of six repetitions and one set of five repetitions, now I’m actually doing just one set of six and one set of five.
Neely Quinn: Why?
Jonathan Siegrist: Because those two sets I have higher weight and the first set is just a lot of time, TUT – time under tension. It’s a lot of hanging and it seems unnecessary. I cut the first set out and I’m still getting the same or better numbers so I think for me, right now, it’s fine.
Neely Quinn: Then why did you or who inspired you to do that?
Jonathan Siegrist: I had that idea kind of on my own, and I talked a little bit to Mark and he had actually done some of that similarly.
The other thing that I’m doing, actually under the succession of Seth Lighten, your husband, who’s the man – he kind of recommended, or at least he had read about or heard from Olympic athletes who had – you know, you have this bag of tricks. All these training tools and training methods that you use to – it’s not just one, it’s many. For climbers, that can be hangboarding, campusing, whatever. If you’re going to do box jumps or dead lift, those are all tools and all different methods that we use to improve. It’s possible that if one methodology is working really well for you and you’re seeing amazing improvement, eventually it’s not going to work as well anymore. I mean, that’s pretty much the bottom line, right? That’s kind of what happened for me. It worked really well in the first year, it started to work a little not as well in the second year, and eventually it resulted in me kind of compromising my shoulder because I just wasn’t seeing the same gains and I was adding a ton of weight and all that stuff, etc.
What Seth kind of recommended, and what I think is kind of awesome, is the idea that you kind of save your secret weapon, if you will, for when it really matters, right? For me, that secret weapon is definitely hangboarding. I’ve seen enormous gains from it and it’s just worked so well for me, until it doesn’t work. My whole concept from trying to avoid it all year is now I just did three sessions of hangboarding in the last week, and I’m almost back to my personal record. In just three sessions.
Neely Quinn: In one week.
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah, from feeling like a turd 10 days ago. I basically just tuned up and I put plenty of rest in between each session. If it’s one week – maybe it’s more like eight days. Maybe it’s like, one day and then several days of rest, and then one day and several days of rest, etc. It was incredible, and last night I had a session where I almost matched my PR. A few pounds away, but still close. Now I won’t use hangboarding again until I train in November for Spain.
Neely Quinn: You’re not going to keep going right now?
Jonathan Siegrist: No, no. I just wanted to – I felt so weak in my fingers that I just wanted to kind of tune up so that when I go out to the boulders, like, I can grab these tiny holds and I don’t feel like I’m melting all of the time.
Neely Quinn: That’s crazy that it happens so quickly. Do you think part of it is mental?
Jonathan Siegrist: I think part of it is probably mental. I think part of it is me still recovering from my day on the Diamond, and I think part of it was just shocking the body, like – hey – I hadn’t hung on crimps like that and especially with additional weight for months beforehand. I think it was just – you know, the body is incredibly – the reason why we’re even having this conversation and why training even works is because the body adapts to the stimulus you give it, right? So I think it was just me telling my body, “Hey. We need to crimp really hard again,” and the body’s like, “Alright. We know how to do that. Let’s do it.”
Now, I don’t think I can break ground. I don’t think I can reach a personal record that quickly or even if I went for another two weeks – maybe two weeks, but no way within a week and two days or something, but I think that getting back to, like I said before, kind of setting the standard from all the nine or 10 of the hangboard cycles I’ve done in the past 10 years and now getting back to my previous PR is relatively easy. That, I’ve experienced over all of the cycles.
Now, I’d like to try and leave – I go back to Spain on Thanksgiving Day, actually. I’d like to leave the U.S. feeling like I’m in my best form ever so I’ll try and reach a personal record in November, but…
Neely Quinn: After you’re done trying Jumbo Love.
Jonathan Siegrist: After I’m done trying Jumbo and after I’m done with this bouldering stint and everything like that. Again, give my body a little more time to just climb and just be outside and whatever before I really hammer it with stimulus for three and a half weeks before I go.
Neely Quinn: So, training for you is just hangboarding. Are you campusing or anything else? Lifting at all?
Jonathan Siegrist: I haven’t campused much recently. I’ve kind of replaced – it’s really hard to make incremental change with campusing whereas with hangboarding, when you’re using weights as your modality of intensity, it’s so easy to add a tiny bit every single day and then thus improve. With campusing, it’s so hard because the next rung is pretty damn far away. Even if you have half rungs, that’s a pretty far ways to go.
Every time I campus I felt like I hit a wall. There have been some breakthroughs in my campusing but actually, it’s mostly due to the strength training that I did beforehand. Then, when I switched over to power, I found some rad benefits but for the most part, the most snappy, the most powerful that I’ve ever felt was after my bouldering stint last summer. That’s why I felt like training with bouldering and when I, again, in the future when I train for power, I’ll probably do bouldering, even if it’s indoors. I just think, in general, it’s full body and it tends to work better for me and again, like I mentioned before, it’s just easier on your anatomy to boulder and have your feet on the wall, even if you’re jumping around or whatever, than to go and do an hour of campusing a couple times a week.
Neely Quinn: Yeah.
Jonathan Siegrist: Campusing works so well though, but it’s just – I can boulder anywhere, whereas finding a good campus board is actually quite hard.
Neely Quinn: Yeah.
Jonathan Siegrist: Now that I have my own set of weights and, you know, too many hangboards to even mention, it’s like I’m a collector. I can go anywhere and set up that system. That’s easy, but to find a good campus board in a good environment is hard, so…
Neely Quinn: Okay. Well, I don’t want to take up too much time, but I think that – let’s see – we could talk about diet, we could talk about your Spain goals, or we could talk about whether or not you’re going to climb .15b or c in Spain, ever.
Jonathan Siegrist: [laughs]
Neely Quinn: [laughs] Or try.
Jonathan Siegrist: Or try. Well, so…
Neely Quinn: Like, I think there are a lot of people who would like to see you try Dura Dura, like me.
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah, those people are crazy. People have no sense of reality.
Yeah, I mean, in all honesty, my sport climbing goals at this point are few. I’ve spent a lot of time sport climbing and a lot of energy, and I love it and I’ll always love sport climbing at some level, but there’s a few more things I would like to do with my sport climbing and I hope to achieve those in the next two or three years. Climbing my hardest route is certainly one of them. Establishing and bolting some more routes is definitely part of it, but that’s something that I feel like I can do still for a long time.
But in all honesty, my enthusiasm for sport climbing is beginning to wane. There are other things I am interested in. It’s, like, been my primary focus for a really long time. There’s still some stuff that I really want to do, like I mentioned. I’m not ready to give up but yeah, there’s other things in climbing that I’m interested in and, you know, maybe it’s because I hang out with all the Arc’teryx athletes a lot and hear about all their sick trips to Greenland and all these – to, frickin’ Cerro Torre and all this kind of stuff, or maybe it’s because in reality, I’ve traveled a lot for sport climbing and there’s a lot more for me to see, obviously, but a lot of the things that I grew up kind of dreaming about doing, I’ve done, or I’ve seen, or I’ve experienced.
Now, I’m less driven by my dreams and motivations from 10 years ago and I’m more driven by what I want to do now. What I want to do now has kind of changed/is shifting a little, but for the next two years, definitely, you can expect to see me still in the same cycle of training and trying my hardest and going back and forth to Europe and driving around the U.S. and trying to sport climb my best. That’s definitely what I plan to do.
Neely Quinn: And then you plan to suffer, suffer, suffer.
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah, then I’m just going to give up and eat as much cake as I want again and [laughs] …
Neely Quinn: And do big walls.
Jonathan Siegrist: Exactly. It was so cool being an alpinist for…
Neely Quinn: A couple weeks?
Jonathan Siegrist: A couple weeks, because I just frickin’ ate my face off. It was awesome. I just had reckless abandon after coming down from one of those hard days, and on rest days. It’s just like, ‘If it’s food, I’ll eat it.’ [laughs]
Neely Quinn: And now are you reigning it in?
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah, I’m reigning it in a little bit. Nothing crazy. I don’t get/I really try not to get too insane. I think diet and nutrition is so important and I think, unfortunately, there’s a connotation that when you talk about diet, especially regarding diet, you’re basically talking about calorie restriction. That’s not what I mean when I say diet is important. I mean, like, the type of energy that you put into your body.
This spring, I worked really hard to get a really high/a much higher percentage of protein into my diet than normal. I don’t eat meat – I eat fish and eggs and stuff, but I don’t eat meat. I saw that it was incredible for my recovery and it was awesome for me.
I’ve also experimented more with being much more hydrated, which has been awesome, but as far as basically trying not to eat, that’s something that I think is…
Neely Quinn: You’re saving that for the big projects?
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah, save that for only times of desperation.
Neely Quinn: Seriously, though, have you done that and does it work?
Jonathan Siegrist: So, one thing that is the absolute truth, and you know this, is I don’t own a scale and I never stand on a scale. I’ve weighed myself once in the last, probably, three or four years. I don’t want to/I really don’t want to associate performance with/I don’t want to quantify performance with anything like weight, and I think that’s bad and it’s unhealthy.
I do think that climbing is, certainly, all about strength-to-weight, for the most part. We’re fighting gravity, right? There are other things that are really important. If you can be lighter, sweet, but there’s definitely a threshold where it does not benefit you to be any lighter. I love climbing and my performance is really important to me and I’ve sacrificed a lot and I’ve crossed a lot of lines to perform, but there are some things that I never could imagine. I never could imagine turning that corner, and one of them is using drugs, like, performance-enhancing drugs, and the other is – I’ve seen the way that an eating disorder, and truly having disordered/severely disordered eating can affect your life, and I have no interest in that. I would much rather climb whatever then develop some kind of bad relationship to my own body and to food. That’s not something that I would ever/I would never let myself cross that line.
But yeah, that being said, if you’re getting down from climbing everyday and having six beers and eating an entire cake and you’re wondering why you’re not performing, then, you know, that’s something you can probably examine in your life. [laughs]
Neely Quinn: Words of wisdom. Very wise.
Jonathan Siegrist: We have lived together and so you know that I have an insatiable sweet tooth and I have a problem, even, with eating sweets.
Neely Quinn: I would say that you absolutely do not have a problem with eating sweets, knowing people who actually have problems with eating sweets. [laughs]
Jonathan Siegrist: Okay, that’s fair enough. That’s fair enough.
Neely Quinn: But for you, you feel like it’s something that’s hard for you to, in your mind, control, which for climbers in general, I think it’s hard, because we work really hard and the sugar is kind of nice for recovery.
Jonathan Siegrist: God, it’s amazing.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, so, give yourself a break, dude.
Jonathan Siegrist: I did! Like I said, my birthday was a couple of days ago, so I ate cake.
Neely Quinn: You ate a whole cake?
Jonathan Siegrist: I did, actually.
Neely Quinn: Really?
Jonathan Siegrist: It was small, but yeah, [laughs] I ate the whole thing.
Neely Quinn: It was one of those one-serving cakes from Whole Foods.
Jonathan Siegrist: It was the size of that ball <unclear>, that Ball glass that you were drinking out of.
Neely Quinn: Oh, so one serving.
Jonathan Siegrist: That’s one serving?
Neely Quinn: Oh, the whole jar?
Jonathan Siegrist: Yeah.
Neely Quinn: [laughs] Dude.
Jonathan Siegrist: Carrot cake.
Neely Quinn: Good choice. I think that we can end here. I’ve got what I need from you. I got the shot.
Jonathan Siegrist: Okay. Sweet.
Neely Quinn: Thank you, very much, and good luck with your goals coming up and hopefully we’ll climb in Rifle and in Vegas together.
Jonathan Siegrist: Thanks. Yeah, I hope so. That’d be awesome. Thanks, TrainingBeta.
Neely Quinn: Thanks, Jonathan.
Alright, I hope you enjoyed that interview with Jonathan Siegrist. You can read his blog at www.jstarinorbit.com, which he’s pretty regular about updating. He’s also on Instagram and Facebook as Jonathan Siegrist, and he is extremely active on Snapchat. That is an understatement, so if you can find him on there you can find his hilarious videos almost every single day.
Let’s see, if you are psyched to train now after listening to this conversation with Jonathan and you feel like you need some personalized help with it, Kris Peters is actually taking clients again. He took the summer off from seeing clients online, one-on-one, but he’s back at it and he’s psyched to see you now.
We’ve created a more efficient system than what he was using before and we’re using www.addero.com. It’s a free coaching platform where he’ll give you your workouts on Addero but you can also comment and ask him questions whenever you have them. It just makes it easier than email or Google Docs or text message. It was just kind of all over the place and now it’s much more streamlined.
He’ll give you a five-week program for $200 as well as a Skype conversation in order to suss your situation out, in order to figure out what your weaknesses are, what your strengths are, and you can tell him what equipment you have available to you and he’ll make you that five-week program. You can ask him questions along the way.
If you’re interested in training with Kris, whether you’re an amateur climber, a novice climber, a pro climber – he’s worked with everybody and he has had really great success with making people stronger. You can go to www.trainingbeta.com and at the top it says, ‘Work with Kris,’ and that’s where you can sign-up for his services. Or, you can email us with any questions at email@example.com or email him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I think that’s it. Thanks for listening all the way to the end. I appreciate your support and I hope you have fun climbing this week and maybe this weekend. I will talk to you next week or the week after. Thanks for listening.