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Future Cave

Clouds over the beach in Hawaii.

It was one of those absolutely gorgeous days in Hawaii.

Rock climbers in a Hawaii cave.

And we spent it in a cave.

The Future Cave, a new bouldering spot in Hawaii.

This is a new rock climbing spot in Hawaii called the Future Cave.

Justin Ridgely, Hawaii rock climber, climbs the Future Cave.

Rock climbers in Hawaii at a newly discovered spot called the Future Cave. Oahu, Hawaii.

Climbing sessions here can be epic.

Earlier this week I got word from Justin (Volcanic Rock Gym) that some of our friends had found a bouldering spot that would rival The Arch. That was no exaggeration. It’s deep and the rock is solid. Future Cave has the potential to become the next obsession for a lot of boulderers in Hawaii.

The cave of course has been around since the days of yore. (If not earlier.) But, as a rock climbing spot in Hawaii, credit for it’s discovery goes to Nick Testa, Phil Langford, Hiro Watanabe, Minjoe Williams and Matt Lutey.

These photos are from my first trip out to Future Cave. During this session, Matt Lutey got an FA (first ascent) on a bouldering route the guys have been working on. It takes some forty moves to complete the route and you’re hanging from the roof of the cave for over two and half minutes.

DISCLAIMER: Do not attempt what you see depicted in this post. Rock climbing is a dangerous sport that can lead to serious injury or death. The climbers you see in these photos are either trained and experienced rock climbers or are being spotted by trained and experienced rock climbers. Even so, entering any cave on Oahu is also extremely dangerous and can also lead to injury or death. The photos contained in this blog post and on the website are for entertainment purposes only.

To climb at Future Cave you need a lot of pads. Everyone carried at least one pad. Most carried two. Justin carried four.

When we arrived at the cave we passed all the pads down and threw them inside.

Phil started to inspect the hand holds right away.

The cave is larger than I would have expected and full of potential bouldering routes.

We began laying down pads under the route that goes straight up the roof and out of the cave.

Soon after we had our pads set up, Nancy, Jimmel and the rest of the crew showed up.

Even with twelve pads we weren’t able to cover the ground under the route. This thing is long.

With the pads lined up, climbing could start.

Justin’s first attempt. He didn’t complete the route.

Matt stepped up, determined.

He had worked on this route before and he seemed intent on completing it today.

The route is a relentless roof. You climb up and out towards the light. The goal is to exit the cave.

Footwork is important. Get your foot on the right hold an you’ll take half the weight off your arms. Stick your toe in the wrong place and you’ll shorten your reach. Memorizing the movements is key.

Pushing up through his legs, Matt moves higher up the cave without tiring out his arms.

After over a minute on the wall, Matt is only halfway up the route.

He finds a solid hold to hang off of while he reapplies chalk.

Moving higher up the roof Matt is now high above the pads. A fall here could involve a nice slide down the pads to the bottom of the cave.

He reaches far with his left haft had to a hold. This takes commitment. You have to be sure that when you touch that hold you stick it. Because if you don’t you’ll take a very awkward, potentially head first, fall.

Matt cuts his feet. They drop and he let’s them swing.

He cuts his left hand too and lets his legs swing over and up to a ledge on the other side of the roof. He’s now pointed in the opposite direction, ready to climb toward the exit.

Matt sets his feet up for the toe hooks. The crew of spotters struggles to get pads under him without hitting him.

The toe hooks are now set which take a lot of the weight off Matt’s arms. This allows him to reach for a far left hand hold.

Hawaii rock climber, Matt Lutey.

And now he needs to focus. Whereas he was once ten feet above the pads he is now less than ten inches. And whereas he was once in the dark climbing with a headlamp, he now has the sun in his eyes. If he falls here, all that effort will go to waste. He sets up for a long throw. Everyone is cheering him on. No pressure bro.

With a deep breadth taken, Matt pushes through his legs and pulls up with his arms in one movement.

Got it. The left hand is solid. More pads are placed under him.

But it’s not over.

I slide through the narrow part of the cave entrance to catch Matt pulling himself out of the cave.

The left hand crosses over the right.

This frees up the right hand to reach outside the cave to a hand hold.

Almost out now.

With that last right hand bump, Matt has done it. He’s finally out of the cave.

He traverses the front of the cave to top it out and make it official.

The top out is all crumbly rock. But he climbs up it with a huge smile.

After hanging from a roof for that long, walking must feel pretty nice. Especially now that his forearms have swelled up to double in size. This was the first FA at the Future Cave. The route currently remains unnamed until Matt decides on what to call it.

Update 4/22/2012: Matt has named the route. It’s called “The Elitist” (V8).

Now he walks up the hill to enjoy the view and get some of that refreshing ocean breeze.

* * *

The climbing inside the cave continues.

Trenton (@tmericle).



Hawaii rock climber, Phil Langford.

Phil (@swaggercoach).

Nancy (@nknguyen).


Sydney and Kyle.

Wild guess says he’s Instagramming (@hiboulder).

Justin, now rested, jumps back on for attempt number 3.

This time he climbs faster.

Hawaii rock climber, Justin Ridgely.

And his movements are bigger, using less holds.

Trenton move the pads under Justin.

Justin’s previous attempt ended right at this point. This time, he didn’t let that happen.

He successfully completed the route and walked to the top to enjoy the view.

There are many more problems in this cave. All overhung.

Sydney jumps on a different one. There are three boulder problems right here on this wall alone.

* * *

As night fell we packed up and marched our gear across this crazy terrain.

Congrats again, Matt.

This was a good day for Hawaii bouldering.


The best way to get a sense for how long these routes are in the cave is through video. I’m sure a video crew will be out there soon but for now, here’s something I shot during Justin’s second attempt on the route.


This story was last modified on September 30, 2013. (Originally published in April 2012.)

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