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Thin Trad Returns to Boulder and ‘Dacks

Matt Wilder on the severely overhanging Cheating Reality (5.14a R, 80′), Devil’s Thumb, Flatirons, Colorado. Wilder sent the free testpiece on October 17, the same day that Matt McCormick established Wheelin N’ Dealin (5.13c R, 100′) in Spider’s Web, Adirondack Park, New York. [Photo] Andy Mann

On October 17, two stout single-pitch trad climbs with minimal gear were established on opposite sides of the United States. Matt Wilder freed Cheating Reality (5.14a R, 80′) in the Flatirons above Boulder, Colo., and Matt McCormick sent Wheelin N’ Dealin (5.13c R, 100′) in Spider’s Web at Adirondack Park in upstate New York. Difficult, committing and located at notable crags, the new climbs are likely to become hardman testpieces.

Wilder’s route follows delicate and dynamic climbing through an old aid line on the north face of Devil’s Thumb, the prominent overhanging pillar visible from Boulder. McCormick’s route follows an incipient seam to a rest, then enters a series of V8 moves high above gear.

Both climbers dedicated months to their quiet obsessions, and both chose to headpoint the climbs because of serious fall potential. On an early lead, McCormick took a nasty “cartwheel whipper” off the crux. (A video of his fall is posted here.)

Despite the danger, Wheelin N’ Dealin was quickly repeated by McCormick’s friend, Peter Kamitses.

Wilder has made ascents of some of the Boulder area’s most difficult gear climbs, including Viceroy (5.14a/b R). But he found Cheating Reality particularly meaningful.

Among friends, Wilder was first to recognize the line’s free potential. And because “the feature is so prominent and the climbing is very good,” he said, the 75-minute hike is well worth it.

The route also may influence future development in the area, Wilder said.

“It shows that there is more potential in the Flatirons. As far as the sport is concerned, it shows that hard beautiful new climbs can still be done on all gear.”

McCormick aired similar sentiment about Wheelin N’ Dealin. He hopes the route will inspire climbers to visit the area and try other unclimbed lines.

“It’s really exciting that you see people like Matt [Wilder] and many others pushing standards on gear,” McCormick said of Wilder’s climb.

“Looks like a great climb,” Wilder said of McCormick’s route. “I used to climb at the Spider’s Web when I was in college… It would be great to get back out there and try it some time. His bad fall looked pretty scary though–I’m glad I didn’t take any of those on my route.”

Sources: Matt Wilder, Matt McCormick,,

Matt McCormick on Wheelin N’ Dealin (5.13c R, 100′), Spider’s Web, Adirondack Park, New York. [Photo] Peter Kamitses