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climberism FEBRUARY 2014 | ISSUE #21

THE NORTHEAST CLIMBING MAGAZINE

WRITERS, COACHES, STUDENTS, MOTHERS, PHOTOGRAPHERS, GUIDES.

WOMEN OF THE

NORTHEAST


So sweet. Joel Kauffman on the first ascent of Super Domo (with brother Neil and Mikey Schaefer), a stunning eight-pitch line named for a favorite flavor at the scoop shop in El Chaltén. Patagonia, Argentina. MIKEY SCHAEFER

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Contents FEBRUARY | 2014

8 10 14 16 28 30

EDITOR’S NOTE // by David Crothers NORTHEAST NEWSWIRE // by David Crothers LOCAL LEGEND // Bonnie Prudden by Shey Kiester FEATURE // Women of the Northeast by Naomi Risch & David Crothers Focused // Image Gallery by Christopher Beauchamp LAST MOVE // Nina Williams by David Crothers

Evolution Rock + Fitness founder Hilary Harris out supporting the Western Mass. Climbers’ Coalition during the 2011 WMCC Rendezvous Climbing Festival.

[Photo] David Crothers

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ON THE COVER: Majka Burhardt staying focused on one of New Hampshire’s hard classics, Repentance (WI5), on Cathedral Ledge just outside of North Conway. [Photo] Gabe Rogel Most of the activities depicted in this magazine carry significant amounts of risk with the potential for serious injury or death. We do not recommend you try or participate in any of the activities depicted within this publication. Seek professional guidance or help from someone of expertise. You assume all risks associated with your decision. Copyright Climberism. All Rights Reserved. No material in this publication may be reproduced without prior written consent.

Contributors Ryan Stefiuk is a climbing guide residing in Northampton, Massachusetts. The consumate tinkerer and gearhead, Ryan can be found tweaking websites, Android devices, and climbing gear in his spare time. He is the owner of Valley Vertical Adventures and blogs regularly at bigfootmountainguides.com

Before he had spent a rain-soaked spring in Vermont, Taylor VanRoekel lovingly considered New England to be some sort of Shangri-La. Wide-eyed and hopeful, he moved to the Green Mountains in the summer of ’12 with a car full of skis and shelves. Three jobs and four Craigslist rentals later, he can still be found hoofing around north of I-89 with his friends who sometimes call him to go rock climbing.

Taking a quick break on the GT Ledge at the Gunks before turning the volume back up on the final pitch of High Exposure (5.6). [Photo] Taylor VanRoekel

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EDITOR’S NOTE // TAKING THE SHARP END

Last year, hardwomen Andrea Charest, profiled on page 21, handed me the sharp end at the base of Dracula (WI4+), propelling me into a world of hard, steep ice climbing. Since that day, I’ve been able to ease the battles I have in my head every time I tie in. I have established two difficult routes in Smugglers’ Notch and ticked off several hard climbs on my to-do list. [Photo] Andrea Charest

SHE OFFERED ME THE SHARP END WITH A SMILE. I wasn’t sure if I should take it—I didn’t want to take it. Andrea and I were standing under Dracula (WI4+) on Frankenstein Cliff in New Hampshire. The sun was out, and the climb was dripping wet like a bloody limb in the fangs of a rabid dog. It was the last day of the Mount Washington Valley Ice Climbing Festival and only my fifth day out for the season. I wasn’t in particularly good climbing shape—too much pizza, beer and work catching up to me. I took the rope, silently cursing ice climbing. It doesn’t matter how many years I put between myself and my first day on ice, it always scares me—from the time I tie in to the time I top out. But maybe that is part of the allure. From Route 302 in Crawford Notch, Dracula looks big and terrifying. And when you’re standing beneath the climb it’s even more intimidating. It also doesn’t help that I have vivid memories of some dude tumbling down from the top, video cameras rolling so everyone can remember just how serious the consequences are. He walked away with minor injuries but it could have been a lot worse.

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I swung my axe into soft ice. Andrea gave me a “hoot” and a “yay!” She could have easily led the route and has found herself on top of much harder climbs, but that day it was my turn to take the lead. Up and right and up and left I went, searching for the easiest way to the top. The weather had been warm then cold then warm again so I bashed off the fragile, hollow top layer to get down to good ice. By the time I made it to the top, my arms were jello, and I couldn’t tell if I was soaked with water or sweat. When Andrea reached the top, she gave me a high five and we rapped down to find a few friends had showed up at the base. Andrea snapped the above selfie as we walked down from Dracula. It’s a simple photo but signifies a lot to me. I don’t believe she knows that she was a part of a major breakthrough in my climbing that day. Because I was handed the sharp end that morning, I realized that my strength wasn’t what I needed to work on, but, instead, the mental battles I create for myself every time I tie in. Thanks, Andrea.—DC


NORTHEAST NEWSWIRE

HARDEST BOULDER PROBLEM IN GREEN LAKE, N.Y. COMPLETED Justin Sanford has completed what is most likely the hardest boulder problem in Green Lake, N.Y. The problem begins as a sit start and moves through Target Practice (V5) before topping out. Sanford has dubbed the new problem Bullseye and given it a grade of V9/V10. [Photo] Ian Bergeron

SENS UNIQUE M6+R, A1 200M – FIRST WINTER ASCENT Canadian climbers Yannick Girard and Louis Rousseau hiked, skied and climbed their way to the base of Sens Unique (5.10+) in Québec’s Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie National Park in early February. Their goal was to make the first winter ascent of the remote four-pitch climb. The area is well known because of the mega-classic ice route La Pomme d’or (WI 5+, 330m). Most people brush the area off because of poor rock quality, but in the winter, when everything is frozen, it makes for an ice climbing paradise. Sens Unique was first climbed in 1974 by Québec local climbing legend Claude Bérubé and his partner Stephan Frick, but, due to the long approach and rock quality, it is rarely repeated. Girard and Rousseau linked up together on February 7 and made the trip to Sans Unique in subzero temperatures. During the trip, the duo experienced temporary hypothermia and frostbite to their fingers and toes. The climbers approached until darkness and slept in an open bivy until morning. They completed the route roundtrip in 48-hours, making the first winter ascent and giving it a winter grade of M6+R, A1.

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PARFENOV QUICKLY TOPS FOTOWA SDS (V11) In late January, Galina Parfenov flew back home from Colorado Springs, Colo. in order to compete in Prime Climb’s Power Struggle bouldering competition, taking first place. While home, she revisited one of Great Barrington’s test pieces, SDS Fotowa (V11), making quick work of the problem and putting to bed her second V11.


(603) 986-5614 bayard@cathedralmountainguides.com freddie@cathedralmountainguides.com www.cathedralmountainguides.com


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NORTHEAST NEWSWIRE

CALDWELL AND HONNOLD COMPLETE FIVEDAY FITZ ROY TRAVERSE

LEFT TO RIGHT: Stratofortress (M13+), The Lightning (M13+), Superfortress (M13). The Mustang (M14-) links Stratofortress and the Lightning. [Photo] Will Mayo

Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold have completed what could be the biggest accomplishment to come out of Patagonia this year. The duo climbed in approach and rock shoes for five days, making the first ascent of the Fitz Traverse (5.11d C1). By the end of their traverse, they had 38 meters of rope left.

WILL MAYO CONTINUES TO CRUSH IN COLORADO Earlier this month, Will Mayo redpointed what could be the hardest sport mixed climb in the United States. The route, which he dubbed The Mustang (M14-), climbs through two existing routes and some new terrain to make one tough 60-meter pitch, which includes 30-meters of horizontal climbing. Mayo has established three other mixed routes in Vail this year, all in the M13/13+ range, spending a total of 20 days working the routes. He also placed third in the 2014 Ouray Ice Climbing Festival and was one of only three men who topped out on the mixed line. And, in October of last year, Mayo climbed Colorado’s hardest traditional mixed lines, Silhouette (WI6+ R M9). Mayo is originally from Vermont and got his start climbing mixed routes like the Fecalator (M10), one of the world’s hardest traditional mixed climbs. He moved to Colorado in 2009 and has been repeating and establishing mixed and sport mixed climbs since. He made a quick appearance back home in January and competed in the Smugglers’ Notch Mixed Climbing Competition, taking second place behind French climber Whit Margo.

R.I.P. CHAD KELLOGG On February 14, Chad Kellogg was descending Fitz Roy in Patagonia with Jens Holsten when their rope got stuck. After the duo pulled on the rope to loosen it, a rock became dislodged, fell and hit Kellogg, killing him instantly. Kellogg was best known for his speed climbing and attempts. He set the speed record on Rainier, Denali and twice attempted the Everest Speed record.

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[Photo] Bonnie Prudden Archive

LOCAL LEGEND // BONNIE PRUDDEN

Bonnie Prudden by Shey Kiester

Bonnie Prudden started climbing as a toddler, shimmying from her window under the cover of darkness to roam the streets of her neighborhood, much to her parents’ dismay. In an effort to quash the young girl’s seemingly endless energy, her mother enrolled her in rigorous Russian dance classes, at which she excelled. For the time being, Prudden’s urge to climb took a backseat to her other hobbies. But not for long. 14

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[Photo] Bonnie Prudden Archive

BORN ON JANUARY 29, 1914 IN MOUNT VERNON N.Y., Prudden is now best known for her work as a physical fitness instructor, but her accomplishments as a climber take a not-so-distant second place. Ending a hiatus beginning after her early nighttime climbing escapades, Prudden climbed the Matterhorn with her husband in 1936. “Perhaps I wasn’t terribly bright regarding the proper level to start at, but I was a natural climber,” she said. Just one year after her Matterhorn ascent, Prudden shattered her pelvis in five places in a ski accident. Her doctor told her to forget about climbing, skiing, dancing and children—she would never walk again without a limp. At that point, she could have taken up knitting, but instead Prudden rehabbed like a mad woman, rebounding stronger than ever. She went on to become the first female awarded the National Ski Patrol badge, had two children, and established herself as one of the best female climbers in the world. At home in the Northeast after her accident, Prudden began climbing regularly in the Gunks with Hans Kraus and Fitz Wiessner, two pioneers of the day. Prudden, accustomed to taking the sharp end, could name only two other women at the time who were ballsy enough to do the same—Maria Miller and Ann Gross. “Some other women climbed, but they weren’t really climbers, you know—they didn’t want to lead,” Prudden said in a 1988 interview with Michael Gilman. And so, with female climbers of the day remaining skittish, Prudden led the charge, establishing 30 first ascents. Not one to back down easily, Prudden climbed hard enough to keep up with the boys, often surpassing them. “In my whole life I’ve never

had a problem working with men. Usually I was as good as they were or I wouldn’t do whatever it was,” she said. During the 1952 first ascent of the now classic Bonnie’s Roof (5.9), Kraus backed off the thin, airy face, handing Prudden the rope, and thus the route now bares Prudden’s name. Despite her tenacity and ability as a climber, Prudden insisted that for her the sport was all about the experience. “’Let’s have fun,’ was our attitude.” Prudden said, “There was nothing grim about it.” Outside of her life as a climber, Prudden placed a high importance on fitness and physical health. She often appeared on the Home and Today shows as a fitness instructor. In 1955, Prudden conducted an international health survey, with results that prompted her to label the children of the United States “the least fit in the world.” Presenting her findings to President Eisenhower, her work inspired the creation of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. On December 11, 2011, Prudden died at the age of 97. Laura Waterman, author of Rocks and Roses, said of Prudden, “Bonnie holds a place in the climbing history of the Shawangunks that has yet to be superseded by any other woman. Bonnie was a luminary in the climbing scene for more than a decade.” A remarkable climber, Prudden understood the true meaning of the sport; she climbed hard but never lost the joy of being in the mountains. Speaking of her ascent with Kraus of Never Again (then 5.6 A1, now 5.10), Prudden displayed her remarkable spirit: “There was lots of laughter. We finally got through, we didn’t know how. We were so hysterical with the fact that we weren’t dead we just rolled down the mountain and went to the bar.” z

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Getting to know some of the

WOMEN in the Northeast

Climbing entered my life while studying Women’s Studies at the University of Maine in Orono. I started visiting the university’s climbing wall at Maine Bound after some friends convinced me I should give it a try. The wall was small and I progressed quickly. But it wasn’t until my first day outside that I was hooked. We visited Otter Cliffs in Acadia and we climbed many of the classics for hours. My girlfriends and I began tagging along with boyfriends and guy friends who knew the ropes, but it wasn’t until I graduated from college that climbing officially became a part of my life. I began looking up to legends like Lynn Hill and Beth Rodden, who are known for pushing the boundary for women worldwide. Eventually I started meeting the local community of women climbers: Leesa Conway,

Hilary Sherman, Majka Burhardt and Emilie Drinkwater. It is an honor to know and climb with such talented women who I have grown so close to. The women that make up our small climbing community come from all different backgrounds and professions: a few of them are climbing guides, others are scientists, photographers, writers and physical therapists, and some are mothers that still crush and work their asses off. Some of them travel the world in search of big mountains while others stay local and climb as much as possible. These women live for the mountains just as much as any of my guy friends who climb. I would like to introduce you to some of the women in the Northeast that work hard and play harder and are a neverending source of inspiration for me. —Naomi Risch


[Photo] Peter Doucette


[Photo] Joe Pill

NADYA VOROTNIKOVA NASHUA, NEW HAMPSHIRE When Nadya was three years old, her family took her climbing for the first time in Karelia, Russia. She says she was immediately hooked and hasn’t stopped climbing since. At 10 years old, she moved from Russia to New Hampshire with her mother, father and brother, Vasya. “Moving from your native country to one where the language and the culture are completely different was definitely a bit shocking,” Nadya says. “But moving from Moscow to New Hampshire was a nice change.” Nadya is one of the nicest, most genuine people you’ll meet at the crag.

Notables: Gold Coast 5.13c/d Rumney, N.H.

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As of late, she has shifted gears a bit. She is no longer focusing solely on climbing hard sport routes, but instead she has been learning how to traditional climb. Last summer, she and a friend swapped leads on Whitney-Gilman Ridge on Cannon in New Hampshire and she says she is pretty satisfied with that accomplishment. She is currently working at the White Mountain School as a climbing team coach, climbing camp director and a health service assistant. Don’t be fooled, though. Nadya is a silent crusher and has won a couple top spots during the Dark Horse over the last couple years.—David Crothers


[Photo] Gabe Rogel

MAJKA BURHARDT NORTH CONWAY, NEW HAMPSHIRE It was love and climbing that brought Majka from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Intervale, New Hampshire. If you want to get technical, her first day of climbing was at age six during Adventure Day at Camp Ajawah in Wyoming, and she was motivated by hot fudge, ice cream and cotton candy. She says her sweet tooth has followed her into adulthood; she still appreciates a fine baked good any day out climbing. In her teens, Majka started learning the technicalities of climbing from instructors, guides and mentors . Since then she has traveled the world and splits her time climbing, writing, speaking and balancing time with her husband and poodle.

Though she hesitates to play favorites, when pressed she says her favorite climb is a gorgeous 13-pitch crack that she, Peter Doucette and Kate Rutherford established in 2009 called Southern Crossing (5.11) on Brandberg, the highest peak in Namibia. Over the last three years, on top of her “day job” as a pro climber, author and speaker, Majka’s passion has turned to the Lost Mountain project in Mozambique. It’s a “complex collaboration between scientists, conservationists and climbers,” Majka says. “We are all united by a passion for wild places.” You can find more information at thelostmountainfilm.com.—Naomi Risch

Notables: FA: Learning the Hard Way, Theodros Tower, Northern Ethiopia. (5.10+ IV) and First Female Ascent, Bachelors Stroll (WI5+), Frankenstein Cliff, Crawford Notch, N.H.

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[Photo] Emilie Drinkwater

EMILIE DRINKWATER LAKE PLACID, NEW YORK Emilie was born in the small town of Enfield, New Hampshire. She basically grew up on skis and it wasn’t until her college years at St. Lawrence University that she discovered climbing. She started out on a student-constructed climbing wall made of plywood with river stones for holds. The first time she went outside to climb, she went to the Beer Walls in the Adirondacks. “I climbed 5.7 with such voracity that I couldn’t grasp the steering wheel for the drive back to school,” Emilie says. “I was pretty much hooked at that moment.”

Notables: The Trilogy Link-Up (unrepeated): A 17-hour, 25-mile, 20,000’ solo winter enchainment of three Adirondack backcountry ice climbs. FA of Pumo Kangri (PD/AD 6440m) in the Indian Karakoram.

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Since her early days, she has taken her love of climbing all over the world. As a full-time guide, Emilie doesn’t spend much time at home in the Adirondacks. She travels the world instead, taking clients wherever they hire her to go. She prefers ice to rock and spends more time in the big mountains but says she still appreciates the joys of her local crags. Emilie says she loves the challenges, complexities and unknowns of the mountains and loves to figure out how to move through and up them in the most efficient manner possible.—NR


[Photo] David Crothers

ANDREA CHAREST BURLINGTON, VERMONT Anyone fortunate enough to climb with Andrea knows that the smile on her face never goes away. It doesn’t matter if it’s midwinter and below zero or a humid summer day, Andrea is always psyched to be outside climbing. She is co-owner of Petra Cliffs in Burlington, Vermont and now runs the Smugglers’ Notch Ice Bash with her husband, Steve Charest, which allows both of them freedom to do what they love: play outdoors.

Growing up in Pennsylvania, Andrea messed around at Bean Rocks in the southwestern part of the state, where she kicked off her climbing career. She eventually moved to Vermont to study psychology and minor in Spanish and has been here ever since. Over the last few years, she has been stepping up her game and competing with some of the best climbers in the world at the Bozeman Ice Fest, Ouray Ice Fest and back home.—DC

Notables: Remission (WI5+ M5), Repentance (WI5) on Cathedral in North Conway, N.H. | Mindbender (WI5+) at Lake Willoughby, V.T. | Ragnarock Direct (WI5) in Smugglers’ Notch, V.T. | Beyond (5.12b) 82 Crag in Bolton, V.T.

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[Photo} Anne Skidmore

LEESA CONWAY PLYMOUTH, NEW HAMPSHIRE Leesa got into climbing later in life than typical climbers these days. When she was 28, she took her first how-to-belay course at at the Boston Rock Gym. It took a few years to get into the sport before she was hooked. She and her husband moved to Holderness, New Hampshire from Massachusetts about five years ago to be closer to the mountains and the climbing they were driving two hours for every weekend.

Notables: Liquid Sky (5.13b) Cathedral, NH | Suburban (5.13a) Rumney, N.H. Kundalini (5.12d) Rumney, N.H. | Hang ’em High (5.12b) Rifle, Colo.

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She says that a typical week for her is a balancing act between being a full-time mom and a full-time physical therapist. Somehow she manages to find the time to get out and climb. That is partially what makes her so amazing. She is one of the most unassuming hard climbers you’ll meet. With a tick list in the high 5.12s and 5.13s, you’d expect her to be full of herself. But Leesa loves climbing for climbing not for the claim to fame.—NR


[Photo} Galina Parfenov

GALINA PARFENOV HAMDEN, CONNECTICUT For some people, climbing comes naturally. For others, they have to work out hard to get in shape in order to perform at the top level. Galina is the latter, but she still puts in a ton of work to make sure she is performing at her limit. The Hamden, Connecticut local has topped out two well-established V11’s, STS Fotowa (V11) in Great Barrington, New Hampshire. and Gusher in Ute Pass, Colorado and continues to project V12s.

When Galina isn’t projecting boulder problems, she’s winning bouldering competitions and solving calculus math problems in her dorm. This year she won Prime Climb’s Power Struggle, one of the Northeast’s premier boulding comps. Galina is currently living in Colorado Springs where she has continued to get strong, train and push herself to stay motivated between exams.—DC

Notables: SDS Fotowa (V11) Great Barrington, N.H. | Gusher (V11) Ute Pass, Colo.

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[Photo} Anne Skidmore

JANET WILKINSON MADISON, NEW HAMPSHIRE Janet is a great climber, very motivated and isn’t afraid of pushing her limit in the big mountains. And when she isn’t pulling her husband, Freddie, up Patagonian towers on their honeymoon, she’s putting up first ascents all over the world. She has put up big mountain first ascents in the Karakoram and Newfoundland and new boulder problems in Nepal. When she’s home in the states, she’s bouldering V7 and onsighting 5.12 trad.

Notables: FA Saserling, 6,100m (IV+, 5.10, WI2), Indian Karakoram | FA Stegasaurus, 6660m (PD/AD), Indian Karakoram | Red Pillar, Aguja Mermoz (650m, 5.11+ A1), Patagonia, Argentina | El Capitan, Yosemite, five times, including The Nose in 16 hours.

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Aside from not shying away from cold alpine environments, Janet works as the executive director at the Northeast Organic Farming Association and a Mountain Hardwear athlete that helps with product development. Before her current position with the Farming Association, she was the director for the Kismet Rock Foundation. She’s living the dream in Madison, New Hampshire with Freddie and their dog, Tagger, climbing strong.—DC


[Photo} Paula King

NANCY LANE BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS Nancy is a native Bostonian who calls Rumney, New Hampshire her local crag. And you can find her there just about every weekend. Her sister and brother-in-law tought her how to climb. Though they didn’t stick with it, Nancy is a lifer. She says she loves her home crags but loves traveling as well. “I have a big tick list of places I’d like to go,” Nancy says. “I’ve never been to Thailand, South Africa or Australia but would love to check them out.”

She’s a full-time photographer and spends her spare time training for and getting out climbing. Her inspiration comes from being out at the crag, cheering friends on and trying hard on projects. Last fall, Nancy fell at the top of Predator (5.13b) three times before the weather turned bad last year, forcing her to bail. She says she is spending the winter itching for spring so she can get back out there and send it.—NR

Notables: Nobody walks in L.A. (5.9) J-Tree, Cali., her first 5.9 | Is it safe? (5.12a) Red River Gorge, K.Y., her first 5.12 | Butt Bongo Fiesta (5.13a) Rumney, N.H., her first 5.13.

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[Photo} Greg Indruk

HILARY SHERMAN DOVER, NEW HAMPSHIRE Of all the places to begin climbing, Hilary got her start at the Silver City Galleria Mall in Taunton, Massachusetts. She was about 14 years old and was hooked as soon as she reached the top. Until she got her license, her father would drive her an hour to the closest climbing gym. In college, her love for the sport only grew as she started climbing outdoors. Now living in Dover, New Hampshire, her favorite spots are Rumney, Cathedral Ledge and Pawtuckaway.

Notables: Dark Star (5.13c) Rumney, N.H. | Stainless Steel (V8) Pawtuckaway, N.H. | Mosaic (5.12c) Red River Gorge, K.Y.

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Every Monday night, Nancy runs a Ladies’ Night at her local climbing gym where women get together to climb and train. Community is just as important as the climbing for her. She values seeing those familiar faces at the crag every weekend, and cheering her friends on as they work their projects. Much of Hilary’s inspirations come from local women like Sarah Garlick and Janet Wilkinson. It’s amazing how our small community can be so influential.­—NR


[Photo} Kirsten Kremer

SARAH GARLICK NORTH CONWAY, NEW HAMPSHIRE Shying away from challenges isn’t something Sarah does. She studied geology at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and got her start bouldering at Lincoln Woods. “My first day at college I went through orientation and figured out how to take the city bus to Lincoln Woods,” Sarah says, “I had a pair of climbing shoes and went bouldering. I’ve been hooked ever since.” After college and a year of living the itinerant climber lifestyle, she continued following her rock roots to the University of Wyoming in Laramie and got her master’s in geology.

Today, she is the author of two books about geology, one of which will be available from National Geographic in April. She’s a mother, wife, American Alpine Club Northeast Regional Manager, writer and a great climber. She has put up remote first ascents in Newfoundland, Greenland, and Jordan, and has climbed long rock routes in Peru, Patagonia, Yosemite, and the Bugaboos.—DC

Notables: FA Billfish Dihedral (5.10+ 800’) Chaleur Bay, Newfoundland | FA Blue Whale (V 5.11 600m) Baroness, Greenland FA Uprising (III 5.11 500’) Wadi Rum, Jordan

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BEACON FALLS BY BOAT BECAUSE SOMETIMES CLIMBING ICE ISN’T STUPID ENOUGH, RICK KRAFT AND I DECIDED TO TAKE A SHORTCUT TO SQUEEZE IN A LATEAFTERNOON CLIMB. Beacon Falls is a multipitch Adirondack ice climbing classic that somehow was inadvertently placed in southern Connecticut. It’s really the only thing in the area and although it’s prominently visible from a major highway (think Poke-O Moonshine), it’s a bit of a slog to get to as there is a river in the way. We had always sort of joked that we should just paddle down the river, so late one afternoon we found ourselves putting in at 3:00 p.m. on a very, very cold day. Rick was a little sketched through the rapids, but the water never really got all that deep. I was more concerned about the return trip in the dark, particularly given our track record. On our last visit, we were topping out the climb with a half dozen Connecticut State Police cars shining their spotlights on us from the highway, but that’s an entirely different story. The climb is two pitches. The first being wide and offering choices in the grade 3-4 range. The upper pitch can be fickle and at times consist of thin curtains or columns. When it’s in it’s usually in 4/4+ land, but that day the exit of the upper pitch was a thin, narrow pillar. After the extreme cold it was brittle and unprotectable through the final section. I’d call it WI5-scary. But as I had suspected, it was the return trip across the river that held the scariest moment. Trying to cut across the rapids in the dark, we couldn’t see the obstacles by headlamp too well and the current was trying its best to spin us around. We bumped some submerged rocks and got a little squirrelly for a second—a little wave came over the edge of the canoe, splashing onto my boots. Fortunately, after a quick second of frantically screaming at each other about the other’s poor paddling technique we landed safely at the other side. —Chris Beauchamp

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A JOURNEY NORTH: KATAHDIN REFLECTIONS AS THE ORANGE GLOW ON THE HORIZON BEGINS TO EJECT RAYS OF FLEETING AUBURN LIGHT ACROSS THE LANDSCAPE, I STOMP AROUND IN THE SNOW AT THE BASE OF THE KATAHDIN’S TABER WALL. I FEEL AS IF I HAVE JUST WOKEN UP FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MONTHS. About ten feet above a snowy ledge on our first day, my core locked in an attempt at control. I try down climbing and my feet skate through rime covered rock. My ice axes, out of their plastic bin for the first time this year, troll around through friable rock. I am just getting started and I’m already pumped out of my mind. Michael Wejchert is laughing at the belay. We have become great friends this past year: tentmates through a five-day Alaskan storm, rock climbing partners and commiserating science fiction fans. But today we’re tied together for the first time on a proper winter objective, and I’m already off and flying through the air. Collecting myself, I stand on the snowy ledge armed with a winter arsenal of hooks, hexes, and hammers. I think briefly about the lessons I’ve learned from mentors like Kevin Mahoney and Nick Bullock to simply try hard. I grab a pin that looks like it will go in at my high point and I head back up. To my delight, it’s a perfect fit. I begin searching for purchase in rime covered cracks. The footholds are only revealed by brushing away frost, and, even then, they are difficult to keep stable on with my quickly dulling frontpoints. By the time I get to a decent belay ledge and tie together some shrubs and boulders in typical New England fashion, it’s finally above freezing. I have taken three falls and that deep, innate excitement is melting along with the once iced-up cracks. I climb above the belay for another half-hearted attempt at some slightly spooky, steep climbing, but the conditions are deteriorating and we have over a thousand feet of hard climbing until we can top out. We bailed back to the warm, dry comfort of the Chimney Pond cabin.—Bayard Russell

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climberism | MAGAZINE


climberism | MAGAZINE

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// LAST MOVE

by David Crothers

An early attempt by Nina WIlliams on Barbed Wire (V9). She returned earlier this year to set the bar straight. Lincoln, Woods, R.I. [Photo] James Jones photographyri.com

NINA WILLIAMS Nina is a climber of the toppest notch. She’s got style, grace and determination—the kind of climber that makes climbing a better sport. Over the last few years she has gotten stronger in a big way: Topping out her first V12 in Australia and completing a number of V11’s. She consistently makes

the podium in climbing competitions and placed eighth in the 2013 ABS Nationals. When she’s climbing, she’s crushing. And when she isn’t climbing, she’s serving up Starbucks coffee and saving for her next big trip. Nina is currently living with her photog boyfriend, Beau Kahler, in Boulder, Co.

From: Pawtucket, R.I. Current City: Boulder, Colo. Age: 23 Years Crushing: 12 Favorite Climbing Discipline: Bouldering Claim-to-Fame: Heel-hooking Queen! My coaches banned me from doing it during practice.

Favorite Quote: “Do Something Crazy!” - former coach Dana Seaton Favorite Part of Climbing: Having friends all over the world and experiencing the non-tourist areas of travel destinations. If you were stuck on an island and could only have three things, what would they be: My boyfriend, a journal and a water bottle. If you had to cook all of your friends a meal what would it be: Slow-cooked pulled pork with corn on the cob! Mmmm.... climberism | MAGAZINE

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Women of the Northeast