In 2005, Chris Sharma established one of his hardest boulders to date; Witness the Fitness. The line ascends out a near horizontal cave on tear drop like pinches and small/incut crimps. WTF is 40 feet long involving 20+ tension moves. There is no rest.
I had seen this line featured in Dosage 3 by BigUpProductions, and started to obsess. Years went by without a repeat until Swiss legend Fred Nicole payed it a visit. Fred broke many hand holds in the start (4 holds), increasing the lines difficulty significantly. He later came back to finish it off for its first repeat/first ascent.
Time went by and rumors appeared that WTF had broken again, this time in the upper crux. The small right hand backwards shoulder move is no longer possible due to the shoulder crimp breaking. The undercling that he crossed into is chopped in half, making it further away and a half pad instead of full. This changed the game completely and WTF was labeled impossible.
When I was in the Red River Gorge, KY, Nick Duttle hinted to me that WTF was still possible, just ALOT harder. I was intrigued since roof climbing is my forte, so I decided to check it out with Paul Robinson and Jimmy Webb. On day one, seeing the roof for the first time was monumental. I will never forget that moment. The line was monstrous and begged to be tried. We quickly checked out the end crux to see if it was possible. The sequence we came up with involved a huge dyno (feet cut but hands stay) from the right hand mini mushroom hold to a “non existent” sloping mini pinch with the left hand (just below the undercling). From here you have to put your right foot out right onto a small foothold, toe hook with your left foot next to your right hand (on the mini mushroom), twist your body, and slowly reach backward into the undercling. The next step is matching, swinging out, and finishing the v8 outro. We were able to do the moves individually the first day, but without any links.
Day two, links were made. Jimmy, Paul, and I were able to link the last crux to the end. we then went to work on the bottom moves. To our surprise, these were challenging as well. After a lot of work, we could link the bottom boulder. Just for fun, I decided to give the full line a try. I ended up falling while matching the undercling at the end. Now I knew that WTF was possible.
Day 3, Jan. 5, 2013, Witness the Fitness was reborn. The feeling was euphoric and no words can describe the emotions of doing this line. Chris Sharma paved the way by establishing WTF, in which motivated myself at a young age to try it. When WTF first came out, it looked impossible, but so good. Thanks Chris!
It is interesting to see the progression of WTF. Sharma made it a realization until it broke. Fred repeated it using smaller holds in the beginning section, but same as Chris for the upper crux (stepping the difficulty up significantly). Now I have done the line with both cruxes broken. I never tried it in it’s original state, but by looking at the holds in Dosage 3 and comparing them to its present state, the line now is totally new moves. I feel like WTF is in solid form, but there is still that potential for holds to break. Small/incut features are not supposed to last on sandstone roofs, it is not in the nature of the stone. This is why WTF is so special. It is an alien line to this world. That being said, I really took caution when trying WTF. I only tried the boulder on a DRY day. Trying it while its raining or really humid will result in breaking more holds. If it rains, give it at least a day to dry. I also did not overly try the moves to limit the amount of force that was put on them. This climb is truly special and needs to be preserved.
Witness the Fitness is also on private property. We were able to get permission from the land owner to try it. That being said, respect his property and ask before trying.
Paul Robinson and Jimmy Webb captured the send on video and it will be featured on BigUpProductions YouTube channel. I will post a link when the video is out. For now though, you can visit http://bigupproductions.com/blog/ for video of Chris Sharma establishing the first ascent of Witness the Fitness.
Thanks to The North Face, Sanuk, La Sportiva, Petzl, and Organic Bouldering Mats
Photo Courtesy from Paul Robinson