Jimmy Webb: A Climber Who Excels at Flashing Boulders

By: Ashley Vitiello | Last Updated on December 22, 2023
Jimmy Webb is an American rock climber who is one of the greatest boulderers of all time, with numerous flashes that make him one of the best.

Bio

Jimmy Webb is an American rock climber and boulderer from Tennessee who’s well known in the climbing community for his impressive number of first ascents and flashes. He may be the world’s best flash boulderer of all time, and is one of few climbers who has climbed the grade V16 (8C+).

He grew up in Maryville, a suburb of Knoxville, Tennessee, and began climbing junior year of high school with the school’s climbing team. On his first day, he top-roped a 5.10 and the coach, Jack Pipenbring, immediately saw his potential. Jack was a Park Ranger, and took Jimmy on his first outdoor climbing trips to the Obed where Jack worked. One of his most memorable benchmarks was sending Gangsta (5.12a), and he said “You know that feeling when you’re really young and everything is just so new and exciting. Gangsta was like that for me and I really loved the process of sending it.”

Stats

Ape Index: 1.01 / +1″
DOB: 11/7/1987
Hometown: Maryville, TN
Hardest Grade: V16

Jimmy became the southeast’s strongest boulderer, but his efforts weren’t limited to the area. He sent problems in Hueco Tanks, Bishop, and Colorado, including Rocky Mountain National Park’s Jade (V14), which was the hardest boulder problem in the states at the time. He also had great success in South Africa and France.

As for competition climbing, he won the Triple Crown Bouldering competition three years in a row in 2009, 2010, and 2011. He also was the men’s winner of the 2013 Psicobloc Master Series in Park City, Utah.

He’s a premier athlete supported by Southern California based surf & stone apparel brand HippyTree, and he’s also sponsored by Tenaya, The North Face, Mellow Climbing, and more.

Notable Climbs

2019-2022

Since these huge accomplishments below, Jimmy Webb still sends hard boulder problems all over the world. He’s claimed many first ascents (like Fallen Angel V15 in 2021) and can be found at his local crag near Tahoe. To keep up to date with him, you can follow Jimmy on Instagram.

Sleepwalker (V16) – 2018

After eleven days of projecting, Jimmy claimed the first ascent of what was the hardest boulder in the country at the time. Sleepwalker (V16) is located at Red Rocks in Black Velvet Canyon and was originally tried by Nalle Hukkataival. Initially, Jimmy couldn’t do a single move. You can watch a video of his ascent here.

This was his second V16 behind Creature from the Black Lagoon in Rocky Mountain National Park and he would soon claim his third with Ephyra in Chironico. He’s now claimed at least six V16’s. Earlier in 2018, he had also sent Tahoe’s first V15, The Outer Limits.

Repeat of Font’s Newest Proposed V16 – 2016

Just a month after Guillaume Gliron-Mondet claimed the first ascent of Le Pied à Coulisse (V16), Jimmy Webb and Charles Albert took the second and third ascents after just three days of projecting. The route is located in Fontainebleau, France, and was originally suggested to be V16, but Jimmy suggested a downgrade to V15 (which has stuck to this day). You can see his Instagram post here.

L’Alchemiste – 2016

On his first day in France, Jimmy Webb completed L’Alchemiste, a boulder that was opened up in 1996 by Marc LeMenestrel. Some had said it was V15, while others claimed V14. It took Jimmy only three ties, so he took the personal grade of V13. Currently, it sits at a suggested V14/8B+.

The South’s First V15 – 2015

In late 2015, Jimmy put up the South’s first V15 with The Matriarch in Rockland, Georgia. It took him six days of projecting before he ended up on top, saying “So psyched to add this amazing hard line to a place I love so much.” You can watch an old video of his ascent here. In this same timeframe, Jimmy also put up three new V14’s (Southern Drawl, Kings of Contortion, and Ingenuity), and two V13’s (Groundation and Blue Mist).

Jimmy on The Matriarch (V15). Photo by John Weseley.

Defying Gravity (V15) – 2014

Jimmy Webb repeated Defying Gravity (V15), taking the second ascent after six days of work at Thunder Ridge, Colorado. Daniel Woods took the first ascent back in 2013 and it’s a 60 degree overhang with an epic jump for the final move. Webb said he thinks it was “the lowest percentage move” he’s ever done.

Speed of Sound (V14) and Many More in New Zone in South Africa – 2014

In July of 2014, Jimmy and a crew of professional climbers spent some serious time hiking, exploring, and establishing new problems in a new area of Rocklands, South Africa. Between the whole crew, they established close to sixty new problems that ranged from V3 to V14 in an area they dubbed “The Saddle.”

One of those lines was Speed of Sound (V14), which was the most difficult one from their efforts. Jimmy claimed the first ascent (followed closely by Daniel Woods) and said it “was a rad experience to find, develop, and give something back to this amazing place.” You can see his Instagram post here.

First Ascent of Big Kat (V14) – 2014

On yet another European trip with many accomplishments, Jimmy managed to tick another hard problem off his list. He claimed the first ascent of Big Kat (V14), which is just to the left of Dai Koyamada’s Insanity of Grandeur (V15), a route that Jimmy sent in a day and suggested a downgrade to V14. On this trip, Jimmy ripped through the area’s best boulders, suggesting four V15 -> V14 downgrades and climbing a large amount of V13’s plus several V12 flashes.

Flashes V13 The Teacup – 2013

In Leavenworth, Washington, Jimmy flashed The Teacup (V13), as well as Turbulence (V12), Resurrection Low (V11), Cotton Pony Sit (V11), and The Practitioner (V11). The climbing world was really starting to catch on to Jimmy’s uncanny ability to flash so many of the problems he encountered, and he was becoming one of the best ‘first try’ boulderers of all time according to Dead Point Magazine.

Warpath (V14) – 2013

In October of 2013, Webb took the fifth ascent of Warpath (V14) at Castle Rocks, Idaho. Originally climbed by James Litz in 2007, it had been repeated by Daniel Woods, Matt Fultz, and Paul Robinson. Jimmy and some other climbers had visited the problem in 2011, but were left frustrated as they faced awful weather conditions with snow and freezing temperatures. Jimmy returned in 2013 to send it, saying: “Hands down the best boulder I have ever climbed. Such an amazing roof in such a beautiful location.”

Flashes Sky (V13/14) – 2013

Jimmy’s trips abroad in 2013 were particularly productive, and on a trip to Rocklands, South Africa, he flashed Sky, a problem considered to be one of the world’s finest. Many climbers have rated the boulder to be V14, but Jimmy suggested V13, making it his fourth V13+ flash. In an interview, Jimmy commented “It felt surprisingly easy. Yet that’s how most flashes at your limit should feel. It’s that wild moment where everything comes together perfectly and your left standing there wondering what just happened.”

V14 First Ascent in Switzerland: La Rustica – 2013

On his last day and last try on a trip to Europe, Jimmy Webb climbed La Rustica, taking the first ascent. The boulder is located in Valle Bavona, Switzerland, and Jimmy said “One of the coolest projects I’ve ever climbed.” This boulder grade would later be upgraded to a V15, making this climb even more significant for Jimmy.

Flashes King of Sonlerto (V13) – 2013

King of Sonlerto is a boulder in Ticino, Switzerland, that has both sit and stand starts. The original problem was established by Dave Graham in 2005, and he suggested 8b+ (V14). Bernd Zangerl added a few moves into the stand start and suggest that the stand was V13 and the sit was V14. Jimmy Webb flashed it from the stand since the lower holds were soaking wet. On his 8a.nu scorecard, Jimmy said “Definitely one of the best blocs I have climbed and topping this out on grass in the rain was hands down the most terrifying experience of my life.”

Cover photo by Sam Armanino.

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About The Author

Ashley is an adventurous soul who loves all things nature, especially warm sunshine, wildflowers, scenic snacking, and mushrooms. She is an avid outdoor enthusiast who has spent years enjoying time outside doing things like hiking, camping, and rock climbing.
Her goal with Know Nothing Nomads is to make these hobbies easily accessible through knowledgeable content and how-to's based on all the stuff she's learned on her journey. If she isn't writing an article, she's probably in a forest looking at big mountain views and tiny pieces of moss on the side of the trail.

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