Photos by Lars Otto and Raum Eide
Needing no introduction Justin Hawkins or JuzH has been cranking for 16 years. He’s been on the climbing scene for as long as I can remember. Taking pole position at almost every competition he’s entered and scaled every rock face he comes across.
Profile: Justin Hawkins
Sponsors: Red Bull, DMM, La Sportiva, Roca
Number of years climbing: 16 years
Hardest route: 8b+/33, Benita (SA),
Other notable ascents include –
Soul Man 8b+/33 (USA)
Closing Down 8b+/33 (USA)
Free at Last 8b+/33 (USA)
(All climbed within a month)
Hardest Onsight: Paragon 8a
ClimbZA: Do you like bolting your own routes?
Justin: ‘Smirks’ I’ve only placed one bolt and put hangers on Benita.
ClimbZA: What projects do you have / have planned?
Justin: Yellow Wood Amphitheatre, Guy Holwill’s route at the Supertubes and Mazawatee at Worlds apart. There’s a couple of boulder problems at Topside that I’d like to tick off as well.
ClimbZA: What were you thinking when you named ‘Whoa she poopie’?
Justin: ‘Laughs’… It comes from a climbing movie and is actually a greeting in Hawaii.
ClimbZA: You where recently overseas, where did you go and how was your trip?
Justin: Really amazing, one of the best trips I’ve ever done. The trip started in March with a month in Switzerland, then back to SA for a month in Rockalnds. Then 2 and half months in Norway and to finish it off, 3 weeks deep water soloing in Mallorca.
In Switzerland, I went bouldering in Tessin (home to Cresiano Cheronico) The climbing was on granite & Gnice rock. Its different granite to SA and the climbing style was completely different. I climbed there with Fred Nicole, Berndt Zangerl, Tony Lumprect and a Norwegian guy by the name of Torstein.
From Switzerland I got the idea to go to Norway (from Trostein) and enter the Voss Competition (bouldering competition). While there I received an invite from Tony to join him in Mallorca.
Then it was all the way back to Cape Town and up to the Cedarberg.
I was really close to climbing Armed Response (8b) at Rocklands when I pulled a pulley in left ring finger. This was two days before leaving for Norway! The sound of the pulley snapping could be heard echoing across the valley. There were guys there who were filming me and you can hear the snapping noise in the replay!!
So the comp in Norway was off but I went over anyway, optimistic that it would heal within a month.
ClimbZA: Did it?
ClimbZA: Ok, so what did you end up doing in Norway?
Justin: I tried to find a wife! No really… I still climbed but nothing hard and I taped my finger with a wooden coffee stirrer so that it acted as a splint!
ClimbZA: And how was the climbing in Norway?
Justin: The climbing there is absolutely amazing! We were in the artic circle with 24 hours of daylight and climbed in the early and late hours of the morning which was awesome, you just have to watch out for the mosquitoes!
ClimbZA: Anything else in Norway?
Justin: Oh yeah the Norwegians know how to party, There is something called a Narspiel… Which is the party where everyone goes after the party and anyone is invited…alas no wife though!
After Norway Trostein and I flew to Mallorca to meet up with Chris Sharma, Tony Lampercht, Nate Gold and ten other Austrian guys.
ClimbZA: So you were all there for Deep Water Soloing. How was it?
Justin: Pretty scary to begin with, you find yourself 20 meters up, you’re pumped and you’re scared. You really don’t want to fall off and that makes for a little extra adrenaline!
It is however the most rewarding climbing I’ve ever done, its like soloing without the death factor! Even if you fall, you land in the water get back on the ledge, dry off and you’re psyched to go again. The general vibe with everyone there was also really cool and it just makes you want to get to the top (and avoid the swim).
ClimbZA: Are the existing routes in place?
Justin: Yes, but the routes have been opened ground up, most of which would be five star sport routes.
ClimbZA: Do you need a boat?
Justin: No, we down climbed to a shelf or cave and started from there.
ClimbZA: Was the water always deep enough?
Justin: Almost always and the water is warm.
ClimbZA: And the accommodation ?
Justin: We were camping on a nudist beach. Where as, normally you’re camping on some desolate mountain top in the middle of nowhere! But here we would wake up, cruise down to the beach take a swim and then go for a climb or chill on the beach if we had a rest day.
ClimbZA: So you were hanging out with Chris Sharma, does he climb as well as his reputation?
Justin: Yeah, he’s really amazing, but we were all just there to have a good time, no one was out to open any of the worlds hardest.
ClimbZA: What’s the night life like in Mallorca?
Justin: Awesome, there’s a road with about 10 bars and restaurants opposite one another and people party till seven in the morning! I had least one unexpected rest day as a result of dancing on the bar and all of us climbers hanging out with the locals.
ClimbZA: How were the locals in Mallorca?
Justin: Really friendly and laid back with lots of beautiful girls. We were there for 3 weeks, I think the whole Deep Water soloing sport is going to go take off. We’re planning to head back there next year, hire a yacht load it with all the creature comforts and watch the groupies swim out to us.
After that it was back to SA, I landed and flew straight up to Boven for the Roc Rally on the same day.
ClimbZA: How many days did you stay in Boven?
Justin: 9 days altogether.
ClimbZA: What did you think of Boven?
Justin: Its awesome, I want to go back for a month!
ClimbZA: Anyone try and mug you while you were there?
Justin: No, it felt totally safe.
ClimbZA: Your favourite route there?
Justin: Many! Snapdragon, Lottos and many more.
The Rock Rally competition was really cool. Gustav was great.
ClimbZA: You had some strong competition from Willem Le Roux?
Justin: Yeah he’s strong and climbing really hard. I do think that visiting climbers had a small advantage as we were able to on-sight routes, resulting in higher points earned.
ClimbZA: And the future of SA climbing, what’s on the cards for you?
Justin: I’m going to be working for the next 2 months. Then in December I want to take off until October for climbing.
I want to visit India, Thailand and Vietnam till February. Then go snowboarding in Poland and then maybe head off to Austria.
After that spend a month in Montagu, a month in Oudtshoorn and a month in Boven. I’ll also need 3 months in Rocklands.
After that, back to Mallorca in September for some more deep water soloing.
ClimbZA: What work do you do?
Justin: I’m a camera assistant in the film industry (movies, commercials and feature films)
ClimbZA: When last did you go Trad climbing?
Justin: I did a lot in the beginning of the year while I recovered from my shoulder operation.
ClimbZA: Where about did you go?
Justin: Table Mountain, I love it up there, Jacobs Ladder has got to be one of the best routes in the world!
ClimbZA: What are you top 4 climbing areas SA?
Justin: That’s hard… Oudtshoorn, Boven, Montagu, Rocklands.
ClimbZA: Would you climb up Mount Everest?
Justin: NO! I’m not a hiker, I climb for the movement, not for the suffering.
ClimbZA: In South Africa at the moment, everyone is talking about why SA climbers are not climbing at a high level like many European climbers?
Justin: I think one of the problems is that there’s not enough people taking time off to climb locally and focus completely on doing hard things. I would love to spend a month somewhere, but I don’t have anyone to climb with for that amount of time.
ClimbZA: What inspires you?
Justin: Movement & beauty.
ClimbZA: What thing or achievement are you most proud of?
Justin: Learning to dance the Salsa (and not falling on my face)
ClimbZA: What scares you?
Justin: Fear! Nothing but fear itself.
ClimbZA: Describe your perfect day.
Justin: Waking up in Rocklands.
ClimbZA: How do you manage to keep fit for top level climbing?
Justin: Train hard.
ClimbZA: Because your climbing is work, do you ever have a bad day climbing?
Justin: Lots! You need the lows to have the highs.
ClimbZA: Do you plan on having children, increase the world’s population?
ClimbZA: What is your favourite meal & drink?
Justin: Steak – Red Bull & vodka
ClimbZA: What do you like besides climbing?
Justin: Meeting nice people.
ClimbZA: What is your ape index?
ClimbZA: What’s your height and your weight?
Justin: 165cm 65kg
ClimbZA: Favourite music?
Justin: Cold play, Keene, the killers, etc
ClimbZA: What brand makes you climb hard (is that a loaded question or what!)
Justin: Red bull – La Sportiva – DMM – Roca
ClimbZA: If I gave you a million Dollars today and you had to spend it in one go, what would you spend it on?
Justin: Biggest party in the world.
ClimbZA: Where do you currently live?
Justin: Cape Town, South Africa.
ClimbZA: If climbing became a more mainstream sport, would it be harmed or improved?
Justin: Improved, there would be more opportunities for younger climbers
Justin has dedicated himself to climbing. He relies on his various sponsors to climb almost full time. His numerous worldwide trips and climbing experience allow him to perform some of the hardest routes in South Africa and around the world. Inspired by the movement and beauty of the sport, Justin is most certainly a hard man!
Justin Hawkins Interview