joe kinder
(Photo/Sophi Rutherford)

Joe Kinder Sends Rifle’s First 5.15, ‘Kinder Cakes,’ Marking a Comeback

After decades as the crown jewel of American performance sport climbing, Rifle, Colo., finally has its first 5.15. You might have heard of the first ascensionist before.

On Sept. 30, Joe Kinder added Rifle Mountain Park’s first 5.15 to his impressive tick list. “Kinder Cakes,” 5.15a, takes a direct line out of the middle of the often-overlooked Skull Cave. Evening Sends reported that the ever-energized Kinder put in over a year of work on the ascent.


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The redpoint positions Kinder back in the limelight after a handful of difficult years. During a career that’s now in its third decade, he’s established a reputation as one of America’s most psyched sport climbers, with over 200 5.14 redpoints. (Of those 200-plus routes, many are first ascents.)

However, his notoriously brash sense of humor generated an internet controversy in 2018 that cost him dearly.

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Kinder apologized for his behavior almost instantly. Though cancel culture took its toll, he characteristically never stopped working to be the best climber, and individual, he could be.

“Kinder Cakes” puts him right back where he’s most comfortable: in heinous, steep, previously unclimbed terrain on sport climbing’s bleeding edge.

joe kinder kinder cakes rifle 5.15a
(Photo/Sophi Rutherford)

Evening Sends’ Andrew Bisharat used superlatives to describe the route on Instagram. “[H]aving belayed Joe on it here and there over the last year, it contains some of the most impressive and athletic moves through a dead-horizontal roof that I’ve seen,” he said.

Climbers came out of the woodwork to share their psych over Kinder’s ascent, including Emily Harrington, who had belayed him on the project.

joe kinder
Kinder, before the blonde. (Photo/Steve Rokks)

Did the comeback of Joe Kinder just start at Rifle Mountain Park? We sure hope so.

Sam Anderson

Sam has roamed the American continent to follow adventures, explore natural wonders, and find good stories. After going to college to be a writer, he got distracted (or saved) by rock climbing and spent most of the next decade on the road, supporting himself with trade work. He's had addresses in the Adirondack Mountains, Las Vegas, and somehow Kansas, but his heart belongs in the Texas hill country.