Interview with Jason Kehl
This Spring, I’ve been chillin’ with my all-time favorite road warrior, Jason Kehl—100% man. Here he is in all his masculine masculinity, climber and hold shaper extraordinaire, Jason Kehl—
C-note: Let’s start with the hot topic of sensory deprivation.
C-note: How have you used your homemade SD chamber to achieve greatness?
JK: My parents thought I was wasting lots of time everywhere.
C-note: So, how do you make a living?
JK: I’m a professional rock climber/amateur filmmaker/hold shaper/graphic design artist/sculptor/entrepreneur. And on top of all that, an eager, young, professional at heart.
C-note: If you had a real job, what would it be?
JK: I’ve always considered becoming a secret agent or superhero—I mean that’s way more real than rock climbing.
C-note: What propels you relentlessly down the open road?
JK: I don’t think that’s funny.
C-note: You wanna skip that one?
JK: No. The ongoing quest to go somewhere new. New climbing, new culture.
C-note: How do you keep it together?
JK: With a strange mixture of camel saliva, plaster of paris and Emergen-C.
C-note: I hear your Mom’s a professional hair stylist. What does she think about your current ‘do?
JK: “Cut the mullet…” Growing up I was always coming up with crazy hairstyles and trying to talk my Mom into cutting them for me. She usually refused. This eventually led me to move out of the house and go after my own hairstyles.
C-note: When did you start climbing?
JK: When I was like 16. But I was always climbing houses or trees. You could often find me on the rooftops.
C-note: Favorite climbing area, stateside?
JK: Can I just hypothetically say Fontainebleau?
C-note: Uh, sure. How about Europe then?
JK: Hypothetically speaking, Hueco Tanks, Joe’s Valley. Basically any good sandstone.
C-note: Everyone wants to ask you about highballs, so I’m not going to.
JK: Fine then.
C-note: No, really.
JK: Actually, my father is extremely afraid of heights.
JK: I think it’s something he acquired with age. Genetically, I’m headed down that road, too.
C-note: That sucks. Are you scared now?
JK: I’m actually super scared right now.
JK: Stop looking at me like that!
C-note: Oh, we’re not supposed to look at each other during the interview?
C-note: So what’s your proudest lowball?
JK: Um, you know, there are so many good lesser lines out there…I can’t even remember. It’s like each one is better than the next.
C-note: You’ve climbed in top-secret bouldering areas all over the world. What’s your obsession with first ascents? Why is that better than working a hard line with a little history?
JK: I think because you’re always going for the unknown, to see if it’s possible or not. A lot of times your only inspiration to climb is because a line is beautiful and looks crazy. It looks impossible. But it can go the other way, too. To climb something that’s really historical has a lot of power behind it, a lot of meaning.
C-note: Any classics that stick out in your mind?
JK: Definitely Midnight Lightning. The first time I walked up to it when I was a beginner, it looked unreal. You hear so much about something and then you see it. It’s crazy that you can go anywhere and see stuff like that. I mean, if you wanna play basketball, you can’t just go out and play with Jordan. It’s not like that for climbers. Anyone can climb with anyone.
C-note: Who would win in a fight—Jason Kehl (pronounced like the vegetable) or Jason Kehl (like the bottom of a boat)?
JK: Jason Keel, ‘cuz it sounds more like “kill”.
JK: And also I found my bizarro Jason Kehl counterpart. He lives in California. He’s a realtor.
C-note: How’d you meet him?
JK: Myspace. He found me. One day I hope to meet and fight.
C-note: You’re pretty good on the stilts. How’d you get into that?
JK: Um…it all started from the Discovery channel. I watched some sort of Asian parade where everyone was on stilts, so I went down to the woodshop and built a pair and started doing it. Now i’m going to do it ’til it’s done.
C-note: Are they the same ones you use today?
JK: I didn’t use any today.
C-note: I hear you’ve been dropping mind-altering propaganda into the So Ill ads. How do you think the public will react when they find out?
JK: Uh, no comment.
C-note: Is that a bad question?
JK: No, it’s a great question.
C-note: Have you ever tried headcasting? I hear it’s fun.
JK: No, but that’s a great idea.
C-note: What’s the best part about traveling in Japan?
JK: The food and the culture. It’s very different from any other place I’ve been—the different-nicity of it.
C-note: Preferred way to die?
JK: The most painful thing I can think of. Getting all my skin ripped off piece by piece, getting pissed on by Aboriginal people, then licked raw by 25 cats. You only get to go out once, might as well make it good. I can sleep all the time.
C-note: What’s your view on global warming?
JK: I mean sure it pisses me off like the next guy. I do what I can.
C-note: Ever tried surfing? It’s the shit.
JK: No, but when I was younger, I used to boogie board ’til my nipples were raw.
C-note: That sounds painful.
JK: It actually stunted the growth of my nipples.
JK: A gnarly old hermit who lived in the cliffside and pretty much did his own thing all the time.
C-note: I’m talking about past lives.
JK: DON’T QUESTION MY PAST LIVES.
JK: I WISH I was the Ozzy Ozbourne of climbing. I think I need to put in more hard times.
C-note: Who’s the biggest asshole in the climbing community? I want names.
JK: That red-headed bastard Shane Williams, thinks he’s 100% man.
C-note: Are you pissed at him?
JK: I mean I wasn’t before that question.
C-note: Next big trip?
JK: California. “I’m goin back to Cali…”
C-note: Favorite thing to cook?
JK: I really enjoy the Bastilla—a Moroccan dish made with pigeon meat—a multi-layered pigeon pie. I substitute chicken.
C-note: Sounds yummy.
JK: It’s really involved, takes several hours.
C-note: What’s the significance of your name and how does it relate to our calendar?
JK: Let me begin. Note the significance of the months July through November, starting with their first letter.
C-note (eventually gets it): That’s awesome!
JK: It’s pretty much the only name that does that.
C-note: Impressive. You were born in the O.
JK: I’m still trying to work it all out. But yes, Oct. 18th has great significance.
C-note: Got any mantras?
JK: Suffer for it!
JK: Could you please take out that part about the Aboriginal people in the death question? I don’t want to piss them off.
C-note: No problem.