Josh Larson on the Bishop test-piece, Spectre (V13/14). © Dan Krauss
A bouldering World Cup competitor and climbing coach, when Josh Larson isn't training, he's somewhere outdoors in search of new lines and areas in New England, Peuerto Rico or wherever something new is waiting to be discovered.
Josh Larson is an American climber who is as comfortable on the competition circuit as he is scouting out beautiful new lines in the wilderness. Born in 1985 and growing up in rural Massachusetts, he now bases himself out of Boston and devotes his life to the sport he loves.
Josh’s journey into climbing began at age 14 during a visit to his uncle at Jackson Hole, Wyoming: “The resort had an outside wall. When I climbed the hardest route, they gave me a harness and said, ‘Go back to Boston, find a gym and a cliff and enjoy life.’ ”
This revelatory experience was followed by three intense years of competition climbing, with occasional forays outdoors to Rumney, New Hampshire, as well as trips to Western Massachusetts. However, around this time Josh stopped climbing to pursue a career as an electrician. Six day working weeks, buying a house and settling down all followed. Yet a void existed that his work couldn’t satisfy. Some big life changes led to a radical shake up and re-evaluation of his priorities, resulting in selling-up and moving to Boston and leaving his trade behind to focus on the thing that mattered most - climbing.
Josh threw himself completely into climbing, coaching and route-setting at his local wall while spending as much time training, competing and climbing outside. After a few years “competing and getting my butt kicked, and going outside and getting wrecked,” he decided to become more focused in his approach to training, and this paid huge dividends.
In 2012 Josh won his first big comp, placing first in the UBS Pro Tour Championship in Seattle. He has gone on to climb at American Nationals and on the global stage in World Cups. Josh is also highly regarded in the route setting world, setting for the prestigious Dark Horse Series.
A Josh Larson FA: Yoga-Skank-a-sourus (V9), Puerto Rico.
The effort Josh was putting in at the gym also translated to outdoor success. Sending Parallel Universe, a wildly overhanging 5.14a in Rumney, was a benchmark for him in terms of seeing the benefits of training: “I got on this when I started climbing again and got crushed – that motivated me and pushed me to be stronger both mentally and physically.” 2013 saw Josh road tripping to the likes of Bishop where he made quick work of Kill on Sight (V12), and Hueco Tanks where he flashed Liane (V11) and sent Loaded Direct (V12). Josh also visited Europe during that year, climbing in Macedonia and the spectacular towers of Meteora, Greece.
Josh’s best year to date has been 2015, with the consistent training and experience he’s been building over the last five years combining to great effect out on the rock. A two-week trip to Bishop saw Josh break into V13, climbing The Buttermilker [NewEnglandbouldering.com interview]. This was topped a few days later with an ascent of the formidable Spectre (V13/14) which Josh describes as “an all-time dream problem of mine.”
Along with these outdoor milestones, Josh also found time to place 3rd at the American Bouldering Nationals and 2nd at the Canadian Nationals, landing himself a spot on the US Bouldering Team. He has since been competing at the Bouldering World Cups on the international stage.
While Josh loves competing and climbing established test pieces, recently he has been devoting more time to discovering and developing new boulders and cliffs. Personal highlights are Eli, a 5.13c deep water solo, Everything is Purple (V12), both in Massachusetts, and The Baptist, a “shallow water solo” near Rumney. Two areas further afield that are close to Josh’s heart are the Grand Teton Mountain Range and Puerto Rico, where he enjoys spending time exploring and discovering new lines.
Summing up his climbing philosophy, Josh says: “My passion for climbing goes way beyond competition and repeating climbs. I love and respect them a lot… but also absolutely love finding new things, untouched blocs and the feeling of excitement throughout the entire process.”
You can follow Josh's adventures and climbs over at his blog.
Bishop top-out at sun-set. © Dan Krauss