EP 84: Boone Speed — Training in the Hell Cave, the Grasshopper Board, and the Future of Artificial Climbing


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Boone Speed is a photographer, innovator, and was the first American to climb 5.14b with his route ‘Super Tweak’ in Logan Canyon, UT. We talked about Boone’s upbringing, discovering climbing in American Fork, most memorable routes and trips, bolting and training in the Hell Cave, creating the Grasshopper Board, and his vision for the future of artificial climbing.

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Show Notes:



2:17 – The Paleo Diet, and Boone’s lunchables

4:51 – Twitching on airplanes, and cutting out sugar

6:09 – Being a picky eater as a kid

6:47 – Growing up in Lindon UT, and the development of Silicon Slope

8:11 – Working at the bronze foundry as a teenager, and Boone’s dad

12:48 – The expectations Boone’s parents had for him, and being proud of how he’s lived his life

14:42 – Thriving in the chaos, and Boone’s beautiful and art-filled house

15:35 – Boone’s sister, ‘Frequent Flyers’, and advice from his mom about raising his son

21:07 – Ignoring bad behavior and praising good behavior

22:20 – His son being surrounded by art, and getting into product design

24:34 – How Boone got “bitten” by climbing, Smith Rock, and early “sport climbing” in 1986

27:17 – Ice climbing and telemark skiing

29:32 – Climbing his first 5.13 in 1987, getting the power drill, and developing sport routes at Red Rocks

33:33 – Studying photography and design at BYU

33:59 – Hanging out in American Fork as a kid, and discovering climbing there

37:04 – The Hell Cave

44:37 – Milestones in The Hell Cave for Boone

47:33 – The steepest crag in the world

49:35 – Establishing the rest of Hell

50:44 – The first snowbird comp, and getting validation from the guys in the magazines

52:49 – Getting recognition, developing the VRG, and texting Ondra after he did ‘Necessary Evil’

56:23 – Boone’s first climbing gym in a storage unit in 1987, and training by climbing every single day

58:55 – Working at IME, Boone’s mom, and the structure of a photograph

1:03:12 – Climbing as a healthy addiction, and blending climbing with art

1:06:31 – The photography Boone has in his house

1:08:28 – The throughline of innovation, and creating stuff for themselves

1:10:37 – The first crash pads, and climbing ‘Midnight Lightning’ with The Spot

1:14:12 – The “need” that lead to starting Grasshopper

1:19:14 – How I could train for ‘Just Do It’ on the Grasshopper board

1:21:03 – My experience with training on a home woody, repetition as a path to mastery, and running laps in the Hell Cave

1:23:18 – A day in the Hell Cave

1:25:17 – ‘Ice Cream’ in Hell

1:27:57 – The two moments in climbing that have blown Boone away

1:29:09 – The responsibility of pushing climbing forward, and passing the torch to Chris Sharma

1:34:47 – Memories from a trip to China with Sharma and MC, and other favorite memories

1:36:31 – Watching old climbing films with his wife Bailey

1:37:23 – Working on Grasshopper with MC and Bailey

1:43:45 – Addressing the climbing need, and installing a Grasshopper at a brand new HOA

1:47:38 – Training on ergonomic vs. sharp and tweaky holds

1:52:24 – What products Grasshopper is currently offering

1:56:21 – Creating products as an excuse “to make good photos again”, and finding product-market fit with the Grasshopper board

2:02:06 – The route function

2:10:12 – ‘Necessary Evil’, yoga, and strengthening

2:12:57 – Tequila, surfing, wanting to perform, and using the board to stay within striking distance

2:19:03 – What is standing between Boone and ‘Necessary Evil’, and Boone’s pandemic routine

2:21:37 – How to be a fit 56-year-old

2:24:20 – Yoga

2:25:56 – Gratitude

2:26:29 – Good things take time

2:28:42 – How Boone and I met

123 episodes