Interview of Lee Payne for Southeastern Climbers Coalition
Originally posted on Friday, November 26, 2004
by Brad McLeod
Lee Payne is known in the deep south for many things… most notably his website (with partner in crime, Hunter) www.modump.com and for sending really sick boulder problems by the truck load. The Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC) gets an opportunity to speak with Lee about what he is up to these days and where the best place to eat sushi is in Boulder.
SCC: When and where did you start climbing?
Lee: I started climbing 5 years ago at the Palisades Park in Alabama. Hank McCann took Hunter Jones and me out for some top-roping. We had so much fun we would ride up with him every weekend after that.
SCC: Who were your early influences in climbing?
Lee: After about 6 months of weeknights at the hole in the wall gym at Alabama Outdoors, I ran into Adam Henry at the Shades Crest Boulder Field. He told me what kind of shoes to go buy, as well as, which shoe to put on first to guarantee a send. Adam taught me that climbing was just a game, and that other things should come first. Not long after, I met Brian Capps and he showed me the importance of motivation in climbing, and that if you aren’t, then you should try something else for a while.
SCC: You live and go to school in Colorado now. Can you tell us about that?
Lee: It’s awesome out here – There are so many climbers, there is always someone psyched to go somewhere. Colorado has an awesome climate and so much rock that you can climb hard just about any day of the year.
SCC: What are the differences in climbing out there as far as attitude?
Lee: It’s very diverse. In general people are more serious about their climbing out here. But at the same time there are plenty of people just looking to have fun in the sun.
SCC: Where do you normally climb when you’re in Boulder?
Lee: Recently I have been climbing at Mt. Evans a lot, but as the season starts to change, I’ll probably go the Poudre Canyon a lot this fall. Then when winter comes the local Front Range areas start to get good.
SCC: So what is Modump? What compelled you to start a project like that?
Lee: I am a boulderer, I think that says that at some level I am a geek. I can never get enough. When I started climbing I would always go online and look for any information or media on bouldering that I could find. I decided to start Modump as a way to give people a place they can come for quality media.
SCC: What does the future hold for Modump?
Lee: I am psyched about the future of Modump. I love putting stuff out there, for the same reason I love finding new media. Modump is here to stay, and that is thanks to all the great contributors – Dean, Wes, Wade, Dan, Brian, and Cooper.
SCC: It is interesting that there has been such a draw towards climbing media online. First with Climbxmedia and then sites like Modump, No Rope, etc. What do you attribute that to?
Lee: The climbers of now grew up on this technology, and it was only a matter of time before they decided to start putting it out there. Media has always been around; this is just the modern version, and it rocks!
SCC: You and the Modump crew have traveled a lot these past two summers. Can you tell us more about that?
Lee: There is so much bouldering in this country. I have been blessed to see a lot of what is out there, but constantly new places are being discovered and developed. I love finding the freedom to keep exploring.
SCC: You played a part in the movie “Sessions” by Cooper Roberts. What was it like filming and helping out with that movie?
Lee: That was awesome, because it was just us going out and having fun. I love that video because it chronicles a great year in my life. Cooper is great at what he does, and that he put that together for the community of climbers is a great thing.
SCC: Do you have any hard projects you’re putting an eye on right now?
Lee: I have been really busy with school, Modump, and my real job, so committing to something I want to push my limits on is intimidating. So in other words I’ve been taking it easy on that front and getting things done elsewhere. I haven’t lost that desire though – it never goes away – and when I find the time, there are few things I’ve had my eye on e.g. No More Greener Grasses and Black Lung.
SCC: Any road trips planned?
Lee: I am sitting outside a Maverick gas station in Castle Dale right now – Joe’s Valley, Utah. Everything is wet, but hopefully it’ll dry up tomorrow. This is a funny place – cause at some point while writing this interview everyone in the high school in this town has come by and wondered what I was doing. The Maverick is the place to be seen in Castle Dale.
SCC: What’s Hunter up to these days?
Lee: Hunter just got back from New Zealand – he was hanging out with Cooper there this summer. Now he is back in Boulder trying to get’er done with school. But its Hunter, you know he’s having fun too!
SCC: Do you ever see Coop?
Lee: Online – I miss the guy. I can’t wait till he gets back. He has been on a life changing trip I’m sure.
SCC: Did you climb any with James Litz when he was out in Colorado? (if so..) What kinds of sick problems was he pulling on?
Lee: James in Colorado is ridiculous. It is a gold mine for him – because a couple years before he was here, Dave Graham camped out and put up a ton of great hard lines. James just got to go around and play on everything. When he was here, he also took some stuff to the next level, making second ascents of long standing testpeices, as well as putting up some new hard stuff – including Freaks of the Industry, surely one of Colorado’s hardest lines.
SCC: Favorite restaurant in Boulder?
Lee: There is this new sushi place – and everyone knows, if you live in Boulder that is automatically your favorite spot to be seen.
SCC: Favorite climbing area? Favorite area in the southeast?
Lee: My favorite kind of bouldering is Alpine or adventure bouldering, so my favorite areas are Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Teton national Park, and Mt. Evans. But at the same time, I want my ashes spread at Horse Pens 40, because I am not sure if there is any other place as fun in the Country.
SCC: Thanks for the interview, Lee!
Lee: Of course, have a good day.