Avg: 4 from 1 vote
|Type:||Sport, 70 ft|
|Page Views:||1,199 total · 53/month|
|Shared By:||jbrandt on Sep 28, 2018|
|Admins:||saxfiend, Brad "Stonyman" Killough|
The first thing you should know is that if you can climb the grade, this is a must do. The climbing style is unique for the area, the climbing is amazing, and it's one of the best.
The second thing you should know is a little about its history. This badass route was bolted by Chattanooga stone man John Dorough during the height of Denny Cove development in early 2011. During this same season, Buffet classics such as Magic Meat, Dalai Lama, Home Cooked, Trichinosis, Mighty Quinn, Meat and Three, and really, every single other sport climb on the Buffet wall were established by the legendary Chattanooga developers John Dorough, Cody Averbeck, Stephen Farmer, Edward Yates, and Dave Wilson. At the tail end of this era in Buffet development Zach Lesch-Huey, Laban Swafford, Brent McDaniel, and Jonathan Brandt added such classics including All You Can Eat and Kids Eat Free. During this time period, first ascents were going up left and right. Some routes were flashed, some took days, and some took the season but through it all, Little Tokyo would not fall.
For months, Laban Swafford and Jonathan Brandt would swap burns at the end of the day attempting the moves with lofty aspirations of sending Denny's crown jewel. Moves, sequences, and bolts of climbing would surrender to their efforts but it wasn't until the South's prodigal son, Ronnie Jenkins, returned for a visit that the crux move would finally fall - an elevator door move involving a one pad, three-finger, right hand gaston and a high left foot to a left hand gaston edge high above and behind the right hand. Thought to be a V9 move in isolation, Laban and Jonathan desperately tried to share in Ronnie's isolated success but to no avail. Little Tokyo would not yield!
Seasons flew by and Little Tokyo saw little attention beyond the duo's whole-hearted but half-juiced attempts at small links. Draws faded, cobwebs grew, and dreams of sending dissolved until the country's largest climbing fundraising event in the country's largest indoor gym kindled a flame and one individual proved worthy.
On February 23, 2013 local climber Tyler Willcutt attended the Rock n' Rave event at Stone Summit Climbing Gym in Atlanta, GA. Over the years, the event drew in big names such as Sasha Digulian, Dave Graham, and Tommy Caldwell but at the very first event, Chris Sharma himself graced the South with his presence. "What does this have to do with Little Tokyo?", you may ask. Actually, it has everything to do with Little Tokyo.
On February 24, 2013, the day after Rock n' Rave, Tyler Wilcutt was visiting Denny Cove for the first time with Laban Swafford. The pair warmed up and Laban gave a burn on the Little Tokyo. Tyler asked Laban if he could give it a try. While Laban had put a great amount of effort into Little Tokyo, it wasn't his route to close so of course Laban obliged and Tyler took off on his first attempt of the project. Well, Tyler looked like shit on it. Cruxes that felt easy to Laban felt impossible to Tyler and very few links were made. Tyler lowered with no expectations and a whole host of new opinions on the difficulty and quality of this route. It was hard, and it was awesome. When it came time for Tyler to climb again, he asked Laban if he could give it another go. Seeing as how his first go was a total turd of an attempt, Laban had absolutely no issue...but there was one thing Laban didn't know.
When Tyler left the ground for his second attempt on Little Tokyo, he was in a very different mindset than any he had been in before. See, it was rumored that Sharma would be visiting Denny cove the day after his trip to Atlanta. What would you do with this information? Well, Tyler took it and said to himself "If I'm on route and Chris Sharma walks around the corner, I better be trying my ass off." Would you be okay with Sharma standing at the base of your project watching you half-ass your way through all the moves? Nope, and neither was Tyler. Now, it's totally ridiculous to think that the most legendary figure in climbing history would ever show up to the choss-fest that is the Buffet Wall, but Tyler didn't know that. He launched onto the route with more Dura than he ever had given any route before.
Fast forward a few minutes and Tyler is back on the ground next to Laban. Both of them in utter disbelief. Tyler had just sent second go. He hadn't even done all the moves the first time. WTF. Both of them were shocked. The power of the Dura is real. Little Tokyo was complete.
And there you have it, the story of the first ascent. In the seasons that followed, the route was repeated only a couple times by climbers Brion Voges and Jonathan Brandt. Now it's 2018 and in the past season or two Little Tokyo has seen numerous ascents including its First Female Ascent by Kim Shelton and is earning its well-deserved reputation as one of the best in Chattanooga.
Regarding the breakdown, it's nearly impossible to talk beta, grades, or cruxes with fellow climbers since they all vary wildly depending on who you ask. The route begins with 20 or so feet of 5.12+ climbing to a jug. From there, you launch into three stacked boulder problems (one crimpy, one powerful, one tricky) that culminate in 5.11+ climbing to the chains. Opinions on the difficulty of each of these boulder problems range from V5-V8 depending on who you ask. Originally thought to be 5.14a by Laban and Jonathan, Tyler's ascent dubbed the route 13c (although he listed 8b on 8a.nu to not hurt anyone's feelings) and subsequent ascensionists have graded the route anywhere from hard 13c to hard 13d. In 2016/2017 a non-crucial undercling broke between the first and second crux. Contrary to unpopular belief, this break did not change the grade whatsoever.
Go get it!