Big Willy Style

So if you’re not a fan of Big Willy Stanhope, you will be soon. He’s one of the funnest and funniest stone monkeys around and he’s been fucking shit up since he was like 4 years old. Last night I got an email from him in Boulder, he just recently made an ascent of the mega classic, ‘Musta bin High’, 5.13c R in Eldorado, Canyon. Here’s what he wrote.

“Hey Sonnie

Just sent ‘Musta bin High’ today. So jacked! One very long week with exactly two days of climbable weather.
Took an enormous long bomb onto the nuts from the top of the route. Contemplated changing airline ticket, but decided to give it one last burn, semi-fatigued. Just buzzing right now… so amped.

Anyways, hope you’re getting some good weather in Squam.
Very proud to have entered the exclusive club of you, Segal and Decaria to have climbed it sans kneepad.


I think we can all relate to the feeling of wanting the good satisfaction of a proud send put behind us, something we’ve waited patiently to tick off that growing laundry list of classic climbs. I can sense the vibes Will must have been feeling last night, the high can be intoxicating, not that there isn’t room for a bottle of wine in celebration after the fact, but nonetheless intoxicating. Climbing is made up of these small moments of joy, pain, fear and excitement. When you’re out at the crag with your mates, and they want you to send as much as you do, and the pressure to leave town is hanging around your neck like a noose, and you’re cold and tired but you still want it. So you head up for that final burn, accepting the fact that you’re chances aren’t that good and you’ll probably fall off again, but you won’t be totally satisfied until you know for sure. And then it happens. You stop thinking about your friends, the cold, the fatigue and the flight to Patagonia and you start to connect with what you’re doing, you really start to focus, maybe for the first time in days, or weeks and you begin to climb the way we wish we always could, without a single distraction, as though we have finally connected to some sort of wild energy field unaccessible by the ordinary. I wish I could have been there, but I have my own Dragons to slay. Hopefully the skies will clear long enough for me to feel the heat of the fire breather.

Will trying to light his first cigarette on a trip to the Needles, CA. Not cool. Cory and I still feel bad for allowing Will to sample such a disgusting and unhealthy pastime and I do not support anyones choice to smoke, however, I am a man of many vices, grin, and the taste of fresh tobacco on a long drive into the mountains is something I long for from time to time. I’m far from perfect, I’ll admit. Meanwhile, Cory devours a whole pint of Ben and Jerry’s in the love seat of my van.

Will pointing the way to a dodgy bar in Horesham with cheap dancing girls and Victoria Bitter on tap. Note the tiny little ugly wall in the background, I think it’s called the Tai Chi Wall, or maybe something to do with Peter Pan? I dunno.

Stanhope wide awake at 6:45 am on an Alpine Push up the Bok. Only the three of us will remember this moment for what it really was.  Will took the sharp end and kept going…

Here’s a picture of me bridging between the two formations, I climbed to the top by squeezing the pillar all the way, it was stretchy and slick, but so much fun. This climb holds a lot of memories for me. When I made the second ascent, it was my first scary climb and I still wasn’t sure about the whole trad thing and what gear works and what doesn’t so the higher I got, the more concerned I was, but a part of me loved those emotions, it felt to me like what climbing should feel like. I know exactly what Will is talking about above.

A cool shot of Matt Wilder doing the upper section as well, both photo’s courtesy of Climbing Mag.

Matt Segal showing us a different angle of the climb. Its red and gold streaks make for not just a brilliant climb, but a psychedelic setting as well. If you’re ever in the area, go check it out, it’s a beautiful hike and there are dozens of world class climbs, from 5.9 to 5.13+. Read more about Will’s climbing exploits here. Big

  • Charlie

    That feeling of having no distractions, no emotions, just being in the zone as it were, is known as ‘being in the moment’. Eckhart Tolle has written a number of books about it. It’s really hard to get ‘in the moment’ when you let everything around you get in the way, including your own ego. And I absolutely agree, being in that place where your mind is free to be one with the stone, there is nothing better and is what keeps me heading up my projects.

    See you out there 🙂

  • Scott

    Word Sonnie!

    An ironic post. The other night, between bitch slappings at the Vsion, I read a brilliant piece by Peter Croft from an old Gripped (Apr. 03?). Titled ‘Random Magic’, he does a beautiful job articulating this elusive state that he tapped into while onsighting the Shadow. It resonated with me so profoundly that I tore it out and brought it home so Sarah could read it (don’t tell Dung!). I’m sure you’ve read it and agree that Croft’s words are often as impressive as his climbs. But your readers should track it down for another peak at this rare gift adventure can offer.

    Hope your well. See you in a couple weeks.