On October 3, 2021, Taylor McNeill abandoned his long-term project, Moonlight Sonata, A stunning compression problem in the right fork of Joes Valley, for which he suggests the V16.
McNeill, 30, began climbing in North Carolina in 2009 and has been quietly building one of America’s strongest tick lists for the past 12 years, submitting Big Island In Fontainebleau, Squat In Rock Rejection, and Southern Lottery In Chattanooga – All V15. For the past three and a half years, he has lived and worked in Salt Lake City Moonlight Sonata Whenever it is in season
rock climbing Contacted McNeill by email.
How did you find it? Moonlight Sonata? And when did you first start experimenting?
Justin Wood, a local from Salt Lake, showed me the project in March 2018. We ran and looked at it with just a bag of chalk. I felt some emotion and I was immediately mental. This is a stunning feature with extensive compression movements – dream stuff for me. This is exactly the kind of ascent I am looking for when I am looking for projects. I went back to the car, picked up the pads and went straight to work.
How is the climb? How does it break down?
Moonlight Sonata These six very hard compression moves are done in a row and then there is an unsafe V8 that gets you to the lips. The first two movements and the footsteps are in the V13 range. The following four moves feel like V14 and are some of the toughest individual moves I have ever done. This happens on its own, so if you keep making a mistake, the next move will be much harder. Every difficult move is dynamic. There is not even one hard move that you can do slowly. Therefore, it makes it very difficult to hold hands in the right positions. My favorite move is 4Seventh Move, which is a wild yard to a slippery edge edge half. The wall is so sloping and the legs are so broken that trying to jump to the hold makes you turn out so far that you can not control the swing. If you intentionally cut your legs and make a certain movement with your body, you can minimize the twist and movement.
Can you share your ascent with me? How did it feel at first? When did it feel possible?
My first session, in the spring of 2018, I tried it alone for three or four hours and just managed to get it up, which is about the V8. I went through almost a few hard moves and had a general idea of how to do them, but I was by no means close to having a workable sequence. I came back with Jimmy Web a few weeks later, and we were able to do several moves individually, but we lost a lot of puzzle pieces and could not make any hopeful connections. I left it alone until the end of that season. I came back in the fall of 2018 and held two more sessions. Nothing feels different from the next season. I was confused. In the spring of 2019, I came back stronger and more determined. In the sixth session, I did all the movements. At the time, I knew it was possible and the obsession started. Three days later, in my ninth session, I split it in two. At that time I was so close to a post and I was so disappointed that I could not pass the third move.
Looking back that season, I was by no means close to posting. At the time, I was 100% convinced that I could do it, I felt terribly close, and that feeling was what ignited the fire and made me go back in the next five seasons. My process for the next seasons is to show up, learn the moves again, do the above link, and then start experimenting from the ground up. It usually takes three to four sessions per chapter to re-create the link above. I was getting closer and closer to a post, but after that the season always ended right as I felt I was closer than ever. I repeat this process over and over again until it finally happened.
How is your mental process when you invest all this time on a boulder?
I spent between 45 and 50 days over three and a half years. The mental process is quite tedious. This is a constant battle within you. Sometimes you have a bad meeting and you have to remind yourself of the big picture. Every night, even outside of the season, I lay on the bed, visualizing the delivery. I can imagine that feeling of standing on top and it made me keep going. When a glimmer of hope strikes me and I feel something is possible, I accept the challenge. There is something clicking in my brain that is not even a conscious choice. All I know is that I have to keep going, I have to do it, and I am willing to do anything to make it happen. There are definitely days when you doubt and ask yourself, Why am I doing all this? Maybe I should go for something else and just try to have some funBut in those moments I always remember the ultimate goal. I think about standing on top of myself and winning this battle within myself. There was no more talk of rock climbing and it became something I had to prove to myself. I wanted to prove that whatever it was, how long it took, how many times I failed, if I think about something and believe in it more than anything, I can achieve anything.
I heard that last year you stopped drinking and went on a diet to give yourself a better chance of climbing. Did you do that this year – or were you particularly prepared? You were hurting your shoulder, right?
In the spring of 2020, I started a training and nutrition program to increase my chances. I gave up alcohol completely, but it is worth noting that I am not a drinker to begin with. Up to one or two drinks a week, usually less. I did my best that season and got away from the last hard move. I believe that training helped a lot, but nutrition was hard for me. I benefited from more exercise and just like to eat whatever I want. This past spring and summer I practiced violently. I have probably practiced more than a total of 12 years in that five-month period. I gained about 10 pounds of muscle and I am the strongest muscle I have ever had. I suffered a lot of damage to my scapula, part of my labrum ruptured, and I stopped climbing for most of July. I started to increase in the late summer, and while my shoulder is not yet 100 not, there are only certain movements that bother him. Fortunately, none of them continued Moonlight Sonata It bothered my shoulder, which is still healing
Can you guide me on the day of submission? Where is there any indication that this day has been a “day”?
I woke up at 6 in the morning after sleeping in my minivan at an earthen exit in the Barley Valley. My partner, Sara, made coffee while I was lying on the bed. He is the best. We drove on the road for a few minutes and I started to warm up in the dark. Maybe it was the first day I didn’t feel the pressure of “Is today that day?” I was calm, calm, focused, but at the same time I was satisfied with just being where I was. It was a busy weekend in Joe Valley, but as far as I could tell no one else was awake, I did not see any cars or other people that morning. It was peaceful
I finished warming up, went on the project path. I did the top several times to finish warming up, then sat down and rested. I tried once from below and matched my top point, moving the campus with relative ease, but then stepping out to the left before I could put my feet back on my feet. I was not disappointed, angry or frustrated. I rested for 15-20 minutes, put on my shoes again and climbed completely. I pursed my lips, screamed, and then placed a moment above my head where I was silent. I do not remember hearing anything or anyone. Then everything hit me and I completely lost my scream. I came down from behind and Sara greeted him with a bottle of whiskey. He told me he knew I would do it.
I love #tallnotstrong on your Instagram but I totally do not believe it. How tall are you and how do you think the advantages and disadvantages of altitude have shaped your mountaineering experience?
هاه! Well, #tallnotstrong started out as a joke. When I started making rapid progress in mountaineering, people often told me that I could only do things because I was tall and could reach things more easily. So this was a way for me to touch these people. I am six feet and three inches tall. You can not change your height, so this is just what you need to learn to work with. Complaining about it does not help, and trying to bring someone down because of what they have been given does not help you to feel better about yourself. I have learned to use my size as much as possible. Sure, I work hard with faster movements, but this is just my body, so I have to find a way to work. This mentality allowed me to create my own mountaineering style designed specifically for my body.
The way of sleep! I booked two months in Vegas for January and February and look forward to spending as many sessions as I need on Sleepwalker. I tried it for a few days last year and did all the moves, so it looks very likely.
I think it is worth noting that there is also the beginning of sitting Moonlight Sonata, And I did all the moves. I’m a little mentally exhausted, but I’m trying to leave November.
Anything else we lose? Shouts?
I’m hardly sure where to start. Many thanks to my sponsor Mad Rock, who supported me from the beginning to try this project and believed in my vision to do it when it was just a dream come true. Many thanks to Sarah, my partner, for the ongoing encouragement, and in-depth conversations with me about working on my mental state so that I can be in the best mindset to climb this project. Bruce [ ], With films of Three Peaks, where they spent about 30 days filming and documenting the process. All the friends who encouraged me to pursue it when it seemed like a far-fetched dream. Anyone who has sent me a DM to wish me happiness or in a project that I have inspired, I see you all and you have followed me.
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