Tim Clifford: Escaping the Quantum Hole

Ever hear of Tim Clifford? No? That's because, unlike some boulderers who make their presence known to anyone within spraying distance, Clifford keeps a low profile while quietly knocking off the hardest problems.

By Rock and Ice | June 29th, 2010

Tim Clifford enters <em>The Singularity</em> (V14). ” />Ever hear of Time Clifford? No? That’s because, unlike some boulderers who make their presence known to anyone within spraying distance, Clifford keeps a low profile while quietly knocking off the hardest problems. However, when you knock off a big enough problem — like the famed <em>Room Project</em> in Squamish, Canada, a deviously technical line up perfect granite that has booted the world’s best — you might be noticed. </p>
<p>Clifford sent the <em>Room Project</em>, which he named <em>The Singularity</em> (V14) on May 21, eight days before his 40th birthday.
<p>I’m not sure if it helped me turn 40, but I suppose it’s nice to be climbing as well as ever. I definitely still feel I can climb harder than this. </p>
<p>Originally from the U.K., Clifford recently became a resident of Canada and now lives in Squamish. He made his first trip to Squamish in 2001 after stopping by Bishop to tick the <em>Mandala</em> (V12), and Yosemite to fire the <em>Dominator</em> (V11). He dispatched with many of the area’s hardest problems before lacing up for Squamish’s best un-done problem. The <em>Room Project</em> is located in the center of a grand chamber formed by the massive Kacodemon boulders. This magnificent amphitheater also houses Chris Sharma’s <em>Dreamcatcher</em> (5.14c/d) and Sonnie Trotter’s <em>Silent Menace</em> (5.14a). Enticing boulderers for nearly a decade, the <em>Room Project</em> has thwarted many strong local climbers as well as many visiting superstars who came for the Petzl/Arc’teryx RocTrip in June 2006.   </p>
<p>Over the six years following his 2001 trip, Clifford was twice drawn back to Squamish — he established <em>Frontside</em> (V12), another long-standing project, and flashed <em>When Harry Met Sally</em> (V12).  During these trips, his focus narrowed on the <em>Room Project</em> and he began to make progress on the problem.</p>
<p>“[<em>The Room Project</em>] was a problem I’ve wanted to do since I set eyes on it in 2001,” says Clifford. “As we applied for residency, I had that problem specifically in mind.”</p>
<p>After a two-year wait for their residency application to be accepted, Clifford, his wife, Anne, and their year-old daughter, Josephine, packed up their belongings and moved to Squamish.  They arrived in April 2007, and Clifford became re-acquainted with the project, doing it after about five visits. </p>
<p>The Singularity, Clifford explains, is a term physicists use to describe the zero-volume, infinitely dense region at the center of a black hole.</p>
<p>“I suppose climbers, especially boulders, have a very strong relationship with gravity,” he says. “From my understanding the singularity is the theory that, at the center of a black hole, the gravity is so strong that even light cannot escape. I suppose that’s what we’re trying to do every time we climb — escape from gravity.</p>
<p>“It’s definitely the best first ascent of a boulder problem I’ve done, and ranks with one of the best hard problems I’ve done. It’s always very satisfying to be the first person to work out how to do a problem. For me, it’s a perfect problem.”</p>
<p>So what’s next? Anne did joke that we could go back to the U.K. now that I’ve done<em> The Singularity</em>. I told her not yet, as I think it may go from the sit!</p>

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