In May, 2018, 26-year-old Matty Hong from Boulder, Colorado became just the fourth American to climb 5.15b when he sent Fight or Flight, a route that Chris Sharma established in 2011. Climbing the grade was a goal of Matty’s, and he had the appropriate experience leading up to the feat. He’s been a regular in Rifle, Colorado since he could walk, watching his climber parents Steve Hong and Karin Budding, and he’s opened some of the area’s hardest routes, like Bad Girls Club, Planet Garbage and Stocking Stuffer—all 5.14d’s. Also an avid boulderer, Matty has ticked nearly 15 V14s. He sent his first 5.15a, Papichulo, in Oliana, Spain in 2016, and then climbed two more in Spain in 2017 with ticks of La Rambla and Joe Mama.
Hong joined a climbing team in middle school, and at age 15, when he climbed his first 5.13d and three 5.14a’s, he quit soccer and unofficially became a climber. He went on to bolt his first route, La Cucaracha (5.14c), in Rifle, which became the groundwork for a new passion to explore and bolt new climbing areas.
Matty and his father, Steve, represent the strongest father-son climbing team in the country. Matty was 17 years old until they could share a project—Rifle’s Stockboy’s Revenge (5.14b). Now in his mid-60’s, Steve continues to establish 5.14s in Rifle.
A professional filmmaker, Matty always climbs with a camera. In 2017, when TNF teammate Margo Hayes ticked La Rambla (5.15a) one day after he did, Matty captured a now famous photo of Margo after completing the historic route. Matty turned footage from the day into the film, Break On Through.
- 5.15b Fight or Flight, 2018
- 5.15a Papichulo and La Rambla, 2017
- 6th place, Lead, World Cup 2012