top of page

INTERVIEW: KYLE KNAPP

If you've ever climbed on MoonBoard and used the Moon Climbing App, you've definitely noticed problems by Kyle Knapp. There are a lot of them and they are really cool. So finally we decided to find out: Who is Mister Knapp? We realized that the best way to do it is to make an interview with him. Here it is - enjoy!





Kyle, I know almost nothing about you, so let's start from the beginning: how and when did you start to climb?

 

 I actually started climbing late by most standards. It was 2006 and I recently turned 30. I had just moved back home to NY from Montana and got immersed in the magical experience of the Gunks. The Gunks is and still is one of my favorite places to climb. The rock quality is not too bad, the climbs are ‘stiff’ and the history is second to none. I met lots of great people those early years, most of who I’m still friends with to this day and who also inspired me when I was just a first year ‘noob’.

 

How did you start create MoonBoard problems? How did you become MoonBoard athlete?

 

I first tried the MoonBoard in 2011, when the Gravity Vault got one and the only holds it came with at the time, the Originals. Interesting point here, the Originals we had were green. Apparently they weren’t always yellow. Anyway. I tried it and got my ass handed to me. I really wasn’t that good at climbing, and in all honesty, I’m still not. Regardless, I was hooked.

So that following Spring 2012 I had the opportunity to build one at family friends barn. At that time I only had enough money to purchase the School Set B holds or what are known as the ‘black’ holds. But from that moment on, I was trying to create problems.

 

The first setup I climbed on was a setup created by Mike Adams. Still one of my favorites. It took me three weeks to climb a 7A set by him. I was so psyched when it finally went. After that setup, a few more followed, which I still set problems on, and at some point I was also able to purchase School Set A holds (the whites) which only enhanced the experience.

 

As for becoming a Moon Climbing Ambassador, that didn’t happen til 2020 I think. I was contacted by the Moon Climbing Team Manager at the time and asked if I would want to join. That was definitely a dream for me, as Ben has been my idol in climbing since I saw an ad for his company in Urban Climber magazine in 2006. And especially since I’m not that ‘strong’ of a climber grade wise, it actually meant something more if that makes sense. I’ve put in lots of work on the Moonboard throughout the years, before the app, before the community, before lots of things…so to be ‘thanked’ is extra special to me.

 




How often do you train on MoonBoard? What is you favorite set of holds?

 

 I usually train 2 times a week these days. Since I’m 47, have a vigorous outdoor job and a family life and house, it’s really tough to get more than that in a given week. Plus, I need to recover. Some days I just have nothing in the tank, so I’ve even been known to not climb for a month even.

 

My favorite set of holds are the School Set A and B (whites and blacks). That being said, I am looking forward to trying the new ‘blue’ holds that are coming in February.

2016 is still my favorite setup at the moment, but for good reason. It’s where I made my name if you will. Those early days of creating problems before the app came out was some of the most fun I’ve ever had on the board.

 

Do you have a MoonBoard at home? How and where do you usually train?

 

 I do have my own MoonBoard but it is on a family friends property.

I usually train 2 times a week,and most of the time I’m trying other peoples problems or trying to come up with my own. On top of that, I also am a MoonBoard moderator and test out problems that will eventually become Benchmarks. A tedious job, since you will never make everyone happy, but still fun nonetheless!

 

You are making cool MoonBoard problems. Please share your recipe. How to create an interesting boulder?

 

 I’m pretty simple in my boulder making process. Most of the time I just stare at the wall and just imagine different sequences of moves and try to implement them in the session. It’s really hard to explain, but after doing this for so long, I can see the moves happen right in front of my eyes. So I try to make it happen with my body after that ‘vision’ and adjust holds and movement accordingly if something seems unreasonable or too awkward. Or other times I will open up the app and do somewhat the same thing.

 

I will look at the setup, pick a starting hold(s) and then go from there. After taking a screenshot of the sequence, I then will try it on my next session. Most of the time I make some small adjustments, mainly the moves in the middle of the wall, and then start to project it. Usually the problem gets sent rather quickly, but some have taken me months to get. The main goal for me is to make an enjoyable problem. I’m all about making something that has good flow.

 

Or making a problem that forces a certain movement that exposes my weakness, like using a gaston or an undercling. My main standard in setting is that I don’t publish problems to the app without having sent them myself. It’s just something I don’t do. I’ve climbed every problem I’ve set. I really don’t understand why people ‘set’ problems and publish them but actually haven’t climbed them. I just don’t feel you can objectively say a certain problem you’ve set is a certain grade when you haven’t even climbed it. It’s one of the main reasons the grading scale gets skewed and more ‘junk’ problems are cluttering the app.

 

Let’s talk about the rocks. What are you favorite crags? Please tell us about your highlights on the rocks.  Do you have project now?

 

 My favorite crags are mainly sandstone ones. I absolutely love Fontainebleau. Hands down the best place I have ever been to. Font teaches you everything you are doing wrong in your climbing, so at first it can be frustrating and humbling, but once you adapt to the style there literally is no comparison in my opinion. Fontainebleau is followed closely by the Stone Fort and Rocktown down south in the United States.

 

Actually I like the sandstone better than Fontainebleau’s but it lacks the sheer volume and experience of La Forêt! The Gunks comes in third, mainly because it’s my home crag. Has a ton of history and lots of routes/boulders to spend your days on. Bishop is another awesome place, although I haven’t been back since it’s basically a shit show since bouldering/climbing got so popular.

 

Some of my proudest sends have happened in the Gunks. Rabid Wolverine (V9) is probably my favorite    climb in that area. I climbed it I think almost 10 years ago but I’ll never forget that feeling of finally getting it and being so psyched. Cataclysm’s Edge(V7) is arguably the best of the grade in the Gunks and such a fun line that yet again took me a lot of time to get. Also, climbing two 7A+’s in Fontainebleau always made me feel pretty good about myself as well!

 

Currently I really don’t have many outdoor projects, they are mainly on the Moonboard. I just don’t have quite as much time to climb outside like I used to.





You are not only a climber but a wildlife photographer, right? Please tell something about that side of your life.

 

Ever since I was a kid I’ve always been into birds and wildlife in general. Even though I’ve always had an interest in wildlife it was about 5 years ago that I actually started to document what I see. I really love learning about different birds and other species so being able to capture that through photography is very rewarding. The fact that there are migratory birds that fly from as far as South America, weigh about the same as two pennies, and end up on their breeding grounds in Canada just blows my mind. So I take every opportunity to get out into the woods and hopefully snap a few pics of them on their way through New York.


It’s also a great way to relax and pass the time, and give my body a well deserved rest from work and climbing.

 

 

Please tell something about your work (not in Moon Climbing).

 

I’ve worked for a Landscape Construction company in NJ over 27 years now. I am a project manager as well as an installer. Most of the jobs I  work on are over $150k, most of the time even more. We build high end outdoor landscapes for residential homes, like outdoor patios, pools, kitchens, etc…

 

Can you choose Top-5 of Moonboard problems (from 6B/+ to 7A+ if possible). It could be less or more than 5 boulders if you want.

 

 If we are talking about my own problems, the list is as follows, in no particular order:


1. SUPERNOVA/7A (2016 setup)

2. ECHOES/7B (2016 setup)

3. PUNCH DRUNK/7A (2016 setup)

4. IMMORTAL TECHNIQUE/7B (2019 setup)

5. THE KRAKEN/7A+ (2017 setup)

6. THERE WILL BE BLOOD/7A+ (2017 setup)

7. WHITE FANG/7A+ (2019 setup)

8. HOMEWRECKER/7A (2019 setup)

9. 8TH PLACE TROPHY/7A+ (2019 setup)

10. BLOOD AND THUNDER/7A (2019 setup)


Text by Yury Birilov

Photos by Kyle Knapp


(c) All rights reserved

Comments


bottom of page