SURVIVAL GUIDE TO AMERICA’S LEGENDARY SPIRES
ISSUE 130 | JANUARY 2004
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RUNOUTS CAUGHT ON FILM Meet the Face of
Climbing’s Future (Jason Kehl)
The Greatest Mountaineer You Don’t Know (Is aWoman) 60 Steve House’s Unorthodox Tips for Frosty
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JANUARY 2004/NO. 130 / WWW.ROCKANDICE.COM
“[Jason] is a bright light toying with the darker aspects of life, keeping some, discarding others, but never letting them truly become a part of him.” ˜MIKE UCHITEL, PAGE 54
WELCOME TO HIS 54 NIGHTMARE He may look like Satan’s spawn, but underneath the hair and the makeup lies highball bouldering’s most sensitive guy. Meet the prince of Evilution, Jason Kehl, and his traveling brood of plastic partners. BY JONATHAN THESENGA PHOTOS BY ALLY DOREY
60 THE GREAT UNKNOWN In the risk-filled heights of 8,000-meter mountaineering, one American has quietly summited six of the world’s highest peaks—plus owns the guiding business Mountain Madness. So why haven’t you heard of him? Maybe because he is a she. And Christine Boskoff just gets stronger at altitude. BY ANDY DAPPEN
64 X RATED Cast off your mortal coil. At America’s forgotten proving ground, the line between leading, highballing and soloing is vague at best. Define it at your own risk. BY MATT SAMET PHOTOS BY TYLER STABLEFORD ON THE COVER: THE NEEDLES' HORRORSHOW VERTIGO (5.11D R), SOUTH DAKOTA. MATT SAMET FIGHTS THE SPINS. PHOTO BY TYLER STABLEFORD. THIS PAGE: JASON KEHL, BORN AGAIN IN SPAIN. PHOTO BY ALLY DOREY.
JANUARY 2004/NO. 130/WWW.ROCKANDICE.COM
DEPARTMENTS 10 EXPOSED Technicolor climbing imagery, front and center.
16 FROM THE EDITORS Preserving the long and increasingly thin trad line.
18 LETTERS Shocked and appalled people, unite!
89 CLASSIFIEDS Rock gyms, retailers and more.
24 24 BREAKING NEWS
Yuji Hirayama storms Yosemite, and sends a possible 5.15 in the land of the rising sun; El Capitan’s Zodiac goes free; Steve House and Jeff Hollenbaugh blitz Alaskan alpine walls; more.
The Needles of South Dakota. Exclusive topos to the Black Hills’ mystical granite spires and corridors. BY CINDY TOLLE
31 BOOK OF THE MONTH
78 GUIDE’S TIP Warm is right. Layering strategies for alpine routes and bivouacs. BY STEVE HOUSE
Arno Ilgner’s The Rock Warrior’s Way.
32 SPOTLIGHT Much Mayr. Meet the Austrian ace who freeclimbed El Cap for his first-ever trad route. BY CAROLINE BOLLINGER
46 WHAT’S NEW The holiday season is here—slam dunk the latest gear.
48 PLANET LARGO Watch out! His Largeness has something stuck in his craw. BY JOHN LONG
80 BETTER BETA Innovative ways to reach farther, place gear faster, and soothe the crippling “belay neck.”
82 PERFORMANCE Get into the swing of new-school climbing with techniques and training tips for the firsttime leashless climber. BY PETE TAKEDA
98 ACCIDENTS Speak and be heard. A miscue causes a near-fatal lowering accident. EDITED BY JED WILLIAMSON
SPECIAL DOUBLE FEATURE
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ALPAMAYO EXPRESS Tackling the Italian Route on Peruâ€™s Alpamayo. The line follows 40to 60-degree ice chutes to the corniced summit ridge of the 19,511-foot peak. PHOTOGRAPHED BY GABE ROGEL
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Sonnie Trotter in a jam on White Bluff, Ontario's The Monument (5.12c). The Canadian has nailed big-number routes this season, including Necessary Evil (5.14c), at Arizona's Virgin River Gorge, and the first ascent of Ontario's 5.14c/d Forever Expired. PHOTOGRAPHED BY MIKE LANDKROON
THE LOST COAST Eric Chemello making the holey passage of Great White (5.12c). The greenstone cliff rises just above the Pacific Ocean near Arcata, California. PHOTOGRAPHED BY JIM THORNBURG
www.rockandice.com | 13
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ver 20 years ago, when a New Hampshire guide slapped a bolt into the traverse on Thin Air (5.6), Cathedral Ledge, to ease his clients’ way, the phrase “retro-bolting” probably never entered his mind. This year, as one person on www.neclimbs.com complained, “It’s all anybody’s talking about.” Over the years, a few more bolts—to create an anchor, or alleviate a runout—crept up on Cathedral and Whitehorse Ledges. Then two guides, to be helpful, wrote a notice offering to place more anchors. The notion alarmed some people in North Conway, where bolt and gear routes have coexisted since the 1970s. In a summer-long series of open meetings, some poorly attended, area climbers discussed what, really, the two major cliffs—housed in a state park but managed for decades by the climbers who form the volunteer Mountain Rescue Service—are to become. Everyone wants to preserve the area’s traditionalist ethic. The devilish part is the details. In a final slideshow-meeting attended by 200 and culminating in a vote, the local icon Henry Barber urged an ethic like that on gritstone in England, with adherence to the style of first ascents: replace an old bolt with a bolt, a piton with a piton. Jim Surette, one of the leading locals to essentially agree, says, “We’re not telling anybody how to do first ascents, just to leave existing climbs as they were done. Look at them as works of art.” Seth Green, one of the many guides in town, differs somewhat. “It is my opinion that on a cliff of such limited size, that sees significant traffic, replacing a few old piton anchors with bolts just makes sense.” Bolt anchors, which can be visually discreet, have been added to some traditional climbs across the country, for safety and to mitigate rappel damage to trees. Various North Conway climbers maintain that their cliffs already offer enough rap stations for necessity, and that climbers should expect to build anchors when possible. In the end, with some abstentions, the room voted to “maintain the character and integrity of established routes” on Cathedral and Whitehorse. The next day, intending to act on community dictum, though the dictum is open to some interpretation, Bayard Russell, a guide, chopped four retro bolts (from spots protectable with gear) on Thin Air. He hoped, he wrote on neclimbs.com, to show commitment to area stewardship and history. As of October 22, a poll on the site showed 364 readers approve and 860 disapprove. Whether or not you agree with all proceedings, what emerges as important is recognition of regional differences. At Castle Rock, Idaho, a new and vital climbing area, bolting is encouraged. The Needles of South Dakota boasts both a historic preserve for dig-deep climbing and, 10 miles away, rap-bolted sport routes. In North Wales, you’d never bolt in the mountains, but respected sport climbs exist in coastal areas. Local sport climbing is available 20 minutes from North Conway; 90 minutes away, Rumney is dedicated to it. So what’s next? On neclimbs.com, thoughtful suggestions appeared as to how to set up a hardware-managing committee that would seek input and vote case-by-case. Locals are considering circulating a petition as to whether other retro gear should stay. The area climbers’ willingness to spend hours talking before acting is a model to communities that face similar issues. — Alison Osius Senior Editor
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LETTERS No more labels Ben Heason’s triumph on Paralogism [cover of No. 129] was outstanding, but labeling it the “first solo ascent” in a competitive manner was counterproductive. Heason climbs really freaking hard, sometimes on-sight, or solo, or both, and often on committing routes; let’s leave it at that. I urge Rock and Ice and the people of our sport to recognize the need for a spiritual side of climbing devoid of numbers and labels. Jesse Grant via email
Raise the bar
Walking the walk
One telling aspect of “The Power and the Fury” [No. 129], your interview with Bob D’Antonio, is its juxtaposition with the article preceding it (“Wild Child”). The standards of clean climbing in Sheffield are so high that they consider placing several crash pads beneath a horrifying ground fall as cheating. The standards in Boulder Canyon are so low that anyone with a cordless drill can do whatever he wants, and the “community” accepts it in the name of convenience, politeness, ignorance or apathy. Some might express mild disapproval, but allowing the bolts to remain next to good cracks, on climbing many grades easier than the crux of the pitch, and on chipped routes amounts to tacit acceptance. These little malignancies have grown over time. So on one extreme we have the pure gritstone ethic and on the other the Sport Park (not Bob’s routes!) with its “cheapimmediate-gratification-for-the-lowestcommon-denominator” ethic. There could be a middle road: toproping, which eliminates these conflicts in the safest possible way. Also, I’ve always advocated a minimalist-bolting ethic along the lines of Jim Erickson, Christian Griffith, Alec Sharp and others. While controversial in its day, this ethic, applied now, would allow for a measure of safety while maintaining a respectable minimum standard of competence—not nearly as high as it was 25 years ago in Sheffield (or here), but still well above Boulder Canyon’s current, mass-produced “not-quite-theworst” standard. Steve Dieckhoff Boulder, Colorado
Thank you for your editorial regarding driving more fuel-efficient cars and stepping up as the environmentalists the climbing community claims to be [No. 129]. It is good to hear some preaching on this topic, even if it did take massive occurrences in the Alps to prompt it. It is good to see that you’re willing to risk estranging the bigger car-company advertisers for the sake of walking the walk. Matt Scullion Salt Lake City
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The real villain The editorial in the last issue was nuts. Saying that driving a compact car will decrease global warming is like saying recycling will decrease natural-resource consumption. Fact is, none of us have any idea about what is really going on. The auto industry already has the technology to double the MPG for SUVs—why don’t they share it?—and one of the world’s largest clean-burning natural-gas reserves is in Alaska and all we have to do to get it here is work with Canada to use their existing pipeline. Why don’t we? I drive an SUV and blame global warming on the real villain: volcanoes. Billy Sharedon Fresno, California
Practical matters I have never seen anything in print that covers Greg Mortenson’s unparalleled achievements as fully as Kevin Fedarko’s recent article in Rock and Ice. “The Infidel” [No. 128] posits Greg’s
extraordinary works in the spiritual and practical context of compassion, and the directed effort to bring basic education to where it will do the most good now and over the long term. Two British and one Russian effort over the past 150 years to “civilize” this area have been absolutely rebuffed. In this largely tribal/feudal region, the male role model has been “the fighter,” while women have traditionally been left behind in the social and economic development processes. The most practical and effective building block for the region is to bring women up to par and give them confidence and the means to build a better community and economic life. Ben Rice New York, New York
SNAP to it Re: “How to Meet Girls” [No. 129], kudos for a very entertaining read—it really cracked me up. But I’ve got to know ... what does SNAP stand for? We’ve been trying to figure it out for a week. Brett Bergeron Boulder, Colorado Brett, SNAP stands for Sensitive New Age Punter, a term I first heard bandied about by the late Derek Hersey. Use it wisely. — MS
LETTERS Disgusted I am a member of the female climbing population and I am disgusted by Matt Samet’s column in No. 129, “How to Meet Girls.” I have been a member of the climbing community for long enough to know that there is no shortage of angst and humor in climber relationships. But Matt Samet’s article was insulting to both sexes, particularly women. The insult begins in the title with the derogatory, demeaning suggestion that all female climbers are “girls” rather than women, a choice of wording that is also popular with the prostitution and pornography industries. The sub-title goes on to imply that the “modern climber” is male only, since it quickly becomes obvious that the advice in this column is directed at only the male population. Throughout the article, female climbers are referred to as “girls,” “chicks” and “Betties”— only once are they referred to as “women,” but this is prefaced by “gorgeous” and refers to the controversial photographic depiction of women in your publication. The result is that Mr. Samet succeeds in objectifying the female climber, making her the “prize” in a male competition. There is enough machoism and sexual misunderstanding in the climbing community. I would hope that a magazine that is a voice for climbers would avoid perpetuating derogatory sexual stereotypes. Christine Chin Albuquerque, New Mexico
Hammering away I’m sure that the clean-aiding game is as full of liars, cheats and bull-shitters as Dr. Piton says. So is every branch of climbing. However, I feel that by exposing the charlatans of clean aid, he misses the whole point. Firstly, clean aid isn’t about a pissing contest between the elite—it is about rank-and-file climbers reducing the impact we make on the environment. When we hammer iron, we change the experience (visual and difficulty) for all future climbers on that route. I would prefer to see “real climbers,” like me, who will never make the headlines, but who do climb, being encouraged to minimize our impact: use hammerless gear whenever possible, clip in-situ gear (clipping an existing pin or copperhead doesn’t damage the rock—so use it!) and, when that fails, use hammered gear in a manner that allows future climbers to go hammerless: Don’t over-drive your pins. To remove them, hammer them up from the horizontal and back down to it, so as to make a good nut placement. In soft rock, leave your pins and heads, so the next climber doesn’t have to drive new ones. To me, clean/hammerless aid isn’t about some unattainable Utopia of dancing up unblemished rock, leaving not even footprints. Rather, it is about good stewardship. Dylan Morgan Sheffield, UK
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SHATTERED ... ER, CLASSIC ... ALASKAN RIDGE CLIMBING: STEVE HOUSE HIGH ON THE TALKEETNA STANDARD.
SKIN OF THE TOOTH
Hollenbaugh, House Go Big in the Alaskan Off-Season
aking advantage of a high-pressure window in the typically snowy month of September, Steve House and Jeff Hollenbaugh added a new route to the Eye Tooth in Alaska’s Ruth Gorge (9,745 feet) and repeated the east face of Mount Dickey (9,545 feet), in the same range. The duo took three days to send their new route starting on the Eye Tooth’s west face, The Talkeetna Standard, a 3,300-vertical-foot line up to WI 5 and 5.9 that finishes on the south ridge. The route, says Hollenbaugh, would be a “classic in any moretraveled range.” After descending, each climber was loathe to voice his second goal: one of the six unrepeated lines on the 5,000-foot east face of nearby Mount Dickey.
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“Steve opened the conversation by saying, ‘I think it’s time to step it up a notch,’” said Hollenbaugh. “And I knew exactly what he meant.” Choosing the line up the southeast buttress done by David Roberts, Galen Rowell and Ed Ward in 1974, the pair launched off on September 23. Three days later, after 31 pitches (with a 75-meter rope) of sustained 5.7 to 5.9 with the occasional spot of aid, the duo topped out in a “complete whiteout” at 4:30 p.m. They began an arduous descent punctuated by House’s fall into a large crevasse, quickly arrested by Hollenbaugh.
IT’S HIP TO BE OLD SCHOOL Hundreds jam to Gunks for Petzl Roc Comp
FACES IN THE CROWD: HERE’S WHAT SOME OF THE ATTENDEES HAD TO SAY AT THE CLIMB/PARTY WEEKEND. THE ROOKIE: Andy Raether, 19, of Minneapolis, arrived in New Paltz fresh from doing Tomfoolery (5.14b) in Rifle, Colorado, his ninth 5.14; he also boulders and competes. Through a new sponsorship, he got 15 pairs of shoes last year, and wore them all out. Q: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS? IS IT YOUR FIRST PETZL ROC TRIP?
This is great. I got a hotel room. Last year I did the Bishop one, but I was in the dirt pit. Q: HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT CLIMBING WITH PEOPLE WATCHING?
It’s really no big deal. I played hockey for eight years. In climbing you screw up and everyone says, “Aw, he tried hard.” In hockey you’ve got 20 guys and the coach mad at you. Q: WHAT’S THE BEST PART OF THIS WEEKEND?
Quite possibly the hotel room. MR. CONFIDENT: Steve McClure, 33, of Middlesborough, Eng-
land, has put up three 5.14d’s on home turf, and recently returned from Greenland, where he and Miles Gibson estab26 | www.rockandice.com
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: JOHN EVANS, ALISON OSIUS, TIM KEMPLE.
he throngs flocked to watch Chris Sharma’s swooping dynos. Sweet, modest and with a Jesus-like smile: Sharma is the perfect person to wear the hefty mantle of Greatest Rock Climber in the World. Milling about was many a leading light: “That’s Beth Rodden!” went whispers on the Carriage Road, as the retreating Rodden blushed. Felix Mondugo, a local, didn’t mind the crowds: “Hey, my son got to meet David Graham. It was like meeting Mickey Mantle.” Though the Shawangunks, New York, were once a de rigueur stop on any rock star’s list, it has been nearly 20 years since heavy hitters like Patrick Edlinger and Wolfgang “STRONG” STEVE MCCLURE LASTS ON SURVIVAL (5.13A). Gullich visited regularly. It’s not as if the Gunks, blessed with bullet quartzite and tiered roofs that attract 50,000 climber days a year, need more business, yet it was nice to see the place recognized when Petzl held its latest Roc Comp there October 3 to 5. For the gathering, which drew over 500 people, Petzl sent 22 prize athletes to the Gunks, and asked them and the public to climb routes and boulder problems assigned dollar values, with proceeds benefiting the Access Fund. Petzl also pledged $3,500 to the Mohonk Preserve, the private land trust for the Gunks. Although it poured Saturday, both Friday and Sunday (the event’s rain date) were clear and bright. Two new boulder problems went–“Strong” Steve McClure of England cranked a sit-start to the John Gill problem Double Clutch, soon repeated by Tony Lamiche of France; and David Graham, in, oh, about 15 minutes, sent the elusive sitstart to Euphoria, bringing V12 to the Gunks. Daniel Dulac of France flashed a V11, Cojala, and McClure on-sighted the trad 5.13a Survival of the Fittest. In the end, teams Petzl USA and Europe racked up $2,275 and $3,118 each, and Team Public won with $4,851! OK, so it was a slight advantage to have 316 people. The event raised $10,244 for the Access Fund, with the Rock and Snow shop contributing another $500 to both the AF and Preserve. See full results on www.petzl.com. —Alison Osius
lished a 24-pitch 5.13c on Igdlorsitt Havn. Q: HOW WAS GREENLAND?
Flippin’ mega! ... We were rubbish at wall climbing, though, really slow. Q: HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT TAKING THIS TRIP—WAS IT A JOB?
I was psyched! Climbing’s never a job. I dread the day climbing’s a job. But my climbing’s rubbish, really bad. Q: HEY, YOU JUST ON-SIGHTED SURVIVAL.
I what?! Oh, I didn’t know the name. I made a shambles of it ... If I did three or four trips like [Greenland] a year there’s no way I could climb hard. The physiologist for the British climbing team tested me before and after I went. I had a 10-percent drop in strength and a 15-percent drop in stamina. LE PRO: Daniel Dulac, 27,
of Grenoble won the World Ice Cup in 2001, and was third in the Bouldering World Cup in 2000. Dulac just earned his guide’s certification in Chamonix, a course requiring a minimum three years, and has served time in adventure races, kayaking and nordic skiing. Q: DID YOU GO TO PETZL’S BISHOP EVENT LAST YEAR?
Yes, and [laughs] I broke a bone in my foot the day before it started. [He fell 22 feet, crash pad notwithstanding, from Evilution.] Q: HOW CAN YOU DO SO MANY SPORTS?
Everybody told me I have to make a choice between adventure racing, studying and mountaineering. So I decided to stop adventure racing but to keep climbing. The choice I made in climbing was to do everything, even if it’s not reasonable. Q: AND IN THE FUTURE?
Now, because of the guiding certification, I am free to go where I want. I’m always looking for something that appeals to me, the beautiful things, mountains, art, buildings, and for sure I like beautiful girls. THE CRUSTY LOCAL: Rich Gottlieb, 51, owner of Rock and Snow, and
local climber for 29 years. Q: WHAT MADE YOU PARTICIPATE?
I’ve been very wary of festivals but this was for a cause. A lot of climbing areas get closed and not many get opened, and the ones that get opened might not stay open. Look at Skytop [closed showpiece Gunks cliff]. Q: WHAT WAS THIS?
A celebration of climbing. To get people more aware; to bring up our interconnectedness with land managers, other people, even the animals in climbing areas. It embodied a lot of elements but transcended them, too. Like Woodstock ... and I was there, too.
GOING APE GORILLA ESCAPES OVER “UNCLIMBABLE” WALL When “Little Joe,” a 300-pound gorilla, escaped his enclosure—twice, in August and September—at Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo, we remembered something. In late 1988 and early 1989, a host of Boston-area climbers were asked to climb the faux rocks in the newly built gorilla habitat (then empty) and escape-proof them. “The idea was to see if we could climb out,” recalls Al Rubin, a climber and public defender. “If we could, the keepers assumed the gorillas could, and they tried to eliminate the holds.” Adds Rubin, “We did a pretty good job if it took [Little Joe] 14 years to work out the escape sequence—though he obviously got it wired.”
BREAKING NEWS NATIVE SON
KEVIN THAW RETURNS TO THE MOTHERLAND TO SEND DEATH ROUTE:
Ex-pat Briton Kevin Thaw recently established Order of the Phoenix (E9 6c, or no-pro 5.12+/13-), at the gritstone crag of Wimberry, adding another “chop route” to the UK hard-grit list. Thaw, 35, who for most of the year lives in Bishop, California, returns annually to the UK to visit family and to paw the gritstone. Though Thaw has put up many testpieces at Wimberry, Order of the Phoenix is his hardest. The 50-foot route follows an undercut, overhanging arete with two cruxes—one at 25 feet, the other 10 feet higher—all above a big, ridged, back-breaking boulder over which Thaw draped a single crash pad. The best hold on the arete is a dime-sized pebble. Despite the line lack of protection, Thaw donned a rope and ran it through a piece of gear at ground level, explaining, “I [hoped] that in the event of a fall, a gentle tug on the rope would adjust my meeting point with the ground more favorably.” Luckily, Thaw sent, and his theory didn’t have to be tested. — Ian Parnell
LISA RANDS GETS BOLD ON GRIT: Although known primarily as a boulderer,
Lisa Rands proved her mettle on English gritstone this fall, sending the Johnny Dawes testpiece White Lines (E7 6b/c, or 5.12d R) on the Peak District’s Curbar Edge. Making the second-ever female ascent of an E7 (the first was Airlie Anderson’s 1994 redpoint of Master’s Edge), Rands opted, on September 21, to do the line sans crash pads after two days of toprope rehearsal. The 45-foot route involves 25 feet of sustained, unprotected crimping on a nearvertical face culminating in the crux—a tenuous high step aided by a one-finger crystal—before a bulgy finish. “Some people say [headpointing] is stupid,” says Rands. “But any time you go bouldering you’re taking a risk, and I enjoy climbing tall boulder problems ... for me, learning to control my fear is the best way to make my climbing safer.” Also of note is Briton Dave Birkett’s September 3 on-sight of Fear of Failure (E8 6c, or 5.13 X) at Dove Crag, in England’s Lake District. Birkett is likely the first climber to on-sight an undisputed E8.
THE ÜBER HUBERS
SLAP FOR THE JUG! THAW TUSSLES WITH CRUX ONE ON HIS NEW E9 DEATHPIECE.
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ZODIAC FREED: Thomas and Alexander Huber freed El Cap’s 16-pitch Zodiac over a three-day push ending October 16. The route, which the brothers had sieged earlier this year, has two 5.13d crux pitches on The Nipple, a heinously thin undercling and flake feature. Stay tuned to Rock and Ice for photos and details.
THIS PAGE: IAN PARNELL; OPPOSITE: GREGG BRICKNER
Huzzah to professed “longtime climber” Robyn Morrison of Paonia, Colorado, who, in the July 7, 2003, issue of the High Country News, devoted six pages to vilifying bouldering culture, especially that around Bishop, California. Using hyperbole like “crash pads litter the ground” and “not a blade of grass survives the trampling,” Morrison goes on to describe bouldering as “climbing’s lowest common denominator.” Worse yet, Time, in its September 1 issue, weighed in with “Wearing Down the Mountains,” in which author Terry McCarthy offers up this sloppy sentence regarding Hueco Tanks: “[It] was a popular destination for climbers until grafitti was found in the early ‘90s on some of the park’s ancient rock art, and park officials severely restricted climbing.” Yo, Terry: Gang members were responsible for the graffiti, not climbers. It’s called research. ...
America’s Grandest Traverse New Grade 6 enchainment in the North Cascades
The North Cascades’ Picket Range, in Washington, is notorious for its grueling bushwack approaches and unstable weather. In fact, most climbers consider bagging a single summit a success. In late July, Northwest locals Mark Bunker, Colin Haley and Wayne Wallace enchained 16 peaks during a four-day, east-to-west linkup of the four-mile ridge comprising the Southern Pickets. Theirs was the first traverse of this glacially tortured gneiss ridge, which holds three summits over 8,000 feet. The team climbed approximately 70 technical pitches (simul-climbing about two-thirds of them), some as hard as 5.10, adding three new routes in the process. The unrelenting exposure on the wafer-thin arete of East Twin Needle was the route’s highlight: “I’ve never crapped myself on 5.4 before,” said Bunker. — Geordie Romer PICKETS WITH ATTITUDE: THE ULTIMATE RIDGE LINKUP, TRAVERSING FROM RIGHT TO LEFT.
“You couldn’t miss them. They were the only guys in Camp 4 wearing leather pants.” — JOBY STANFORD, OF CASTLE ROCK, COLORADO, OBSERVING THE HUBER BROTHERS IN YOSEMITE.
TWO KILLED WHEN BELAY FAILS On October 19, two climbers died at California’s Tahquitz rock when, still roped together, they grounded from near the top of the 600foot-high crag. Although still under investigation, the accident was the result of a belay-anchor failure. Witnesses reported hearing then seeing rockfall, followed by the falling leader and then the belayer. The climbers were likely on The Step (5.10), a multi-pitch trad route with a loose, nebulous summit section known for difficult route finding. It’s an area “where you have to place your own gear and set your own belay anchors. There’s no pins or fixed pro,” says longtime Tahquitz climber John Long. It’s still not known if the leader fell and zippered gear or, unprotected, fell directly onto the belay. That the belay failed is certain, as the belayer was found with his rope still clovehitched to the pulled belay anchors. Killed in the fall were Kelly Tufo, 32, of Anza, California, and David Kellogg, 41, of San Diego. See our next issue for full details.
INTO THE DRINK? NOT! NIC SELLARS HANGS ON FOR THE ON-SIGHT OF EJECTOR SEAT (5.13A) DURING AN INFORMAL DEEP-WATER SOLOING FESTIVAL IN MALLORCA THIS SEPTEMBER.
HOOKING GENTLY, HIRAYAMA MAKES QUICK WORK OF THE “A5 TRAVERSE” ON GOLDEN GATE.
On March 19, Yuji Hirayama quietly established Japan’s hardest sport pitch, at the limestone crag of Fugatoyama near Toyko. Hirayama spent 20 days total on the 110-foot line of Flat Mountain, grading it 9a/9a+ (5.14d/15a). Seventy-five feet of gently overhanging 5.12c leads to a “chalk-only” rest, then two back-to-back boulder problems: a footwork-intensive V11/12, where Hirayama kept falling, and a 10-move V8. Fit as ever, Hirayama headed to Yosemite Valley this autumn, on-sighting the 13-pitch Uncertainty Principle (V 5.13a) and the 11-pitch Psychedelic Wall (V 5.12c), both on Sentinel Rock, and grabbing the third ascent of the 41-pitch Golden Gate (VI 5.13b), on El Cap. Hirayama took only two days to complete the route, on-sighting all but the 5.12c 25th pitch; the tricky 5.13a 31st pitch, where he got off-route and had to jump off to return to the belay; and the “A5 Traverse” on pitch 36. “I was tired from all those pitches [before],” said Hirayama, who fired the traverse second go before on-sighting to the top. On October 19, Hirayama sent El Niño (VI 5.13c) after on-sighting all but two pitches—the bouldery 5.13a fourth pitch and the 5.13c 14th pitch—both of which he sent second try after one fall on each.
Kumbhakarna Main (Jannu) 7710 m
Phole Sobithongje Main 6645 m Khabur 6294 m Khabur La 6000 m
Kumbhakarna East (Jannu) 7468 m Phole Sobithongje East 6660 m
Tested by extreme alpinist Stephan Siegrist in Nepal: Ropes, harnesses, clothing and backpacks of top Swiss quality. US distribution by Climb High. For more info call 802 985 5056, or visit www.mammut.ch
KENJI IIYAMA (LEFT); BEN HEASON
HIRAYAMA ON A TEAR
The Rock Warrior’s Way, by Arno Ilgner, $17 Twenty years ago, Arno Ilgner and his buddy Steve Petro were working a hard route, Morning Sickness (5.11d) in Fremont Canyon, Wyoming, that was reachy for both. Petro, while an excellent climber, complained daily about being too short for the initial move. Finally, Ilgner blew up, and told him to just accept his height: “You aren’t going to grow any taller and the roof isn’t getting any shorter!” Petro, briefly taken aback, decided to work with what was—instead of wasn’t—available, and sent the route next visit. Ilgner, a hard Southern climber and runout guru of 30 years, has learned much along the way, compiling a program of mental training for climbers that he has now condensed into The Rock Warrior’s Way. While drawing from his own experience, Ilgner also sought concepts through a wide range of sources, from Carlos Castañeda to the Russian spiritualist George Gurdjieff. Considering the many books dedicated to climbing training, little writing hitherto has addressed the climber’s mind in-depth. Ilgner’s self-published book is short on frills—the design is basic and the black-and-white photos unspectacular—but long on “warrior” beta, containing thoughtful information worth every penny of the price. Ilgner has managed to convey his experience into a chewy, yet readable and effective, guide to attaining the focused power of the martial-arts student. The book offers a process for a climber—say, facing a runout or a hard route—to prepare for challenges, assess the difficulties ahead, and transition into action. (Desiderata Institute, www.warriorsway.com, 615-7933630.) — Rob Dillon
Author’s Notes ILGNER LIVES IN LA VERGNE, TENNESSEE. NATURALLY, WE FIRED A FEW QUESTIONS AT HIM: WHAT WAS ONE OF YOUR WORST MOMENTS IN CLIMBING?
One was in 1979 on the slabs of Stone Mountain, in North Carolina. I was about 100 feet up [off-route on Mercury’s Lead, 5.9] and 50 feet above the last bolt, and couldn’t climb up or down. I decided to go for it but fell, and skidded down the slab on my back. My belayer had time to pull in about 10 feet of slack, keeping me from hitting the ledge. It taught me not to push past the point of no return. I was very fortunate and just had scratches on my elbow. THE BOOK DISCUSSES “ENTITLEMENT THINKING.” WHAT’S THAT?
We have a tendency to wait for what we think we are entitled to receive: “My friends climb 5.10; I
deserve to climb 5.10 also.” No, you don’t—unless you put in the work. No one owes us that. WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON ERRORS CLIMBERS MAKE?
There are two and they are biggies: ego and resistance to falling. Our ego isn’t interested in learning anything. It just wants to “have climbed” a route. Resistance to falling is number two. Many climbers think that falling is failing. Top climbers fall all the time. How can we improve if we never push ourselves? Embrace falling by practicing it ... on an appropriate route. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU USED WARRIOR PRECEPTS IN YOUR PERSONAL LIFE?
Every day. I’m constantly aware of my tendency to react negatively to situations. It’s also difficult to stay focused on possibilities when things don’t turn out as I expect. You have to stay receptive. —R.D. www.rockandice.com | 31
SPOTLIGHT DID YOU PRACTICE ON ANY EASIER YOSEMITE CLASSICS FIRST? No. I just had holiday for two weeks so there was no time for it.
CONVENTIONAL WISDOM SAYS YOU NEED YEARS OF TRADITIONAL-CLIMBING EXPERIENCE BEFORE ATTEMPTING TO FREECLIMB A BIG WALL. IS HAVING TRAD EXPERIENCE OVERRATED? I think so. A person who has never climbed trad but has climbed 5.14 is much more likely to free-climb a 5.13 route on El Cap than someone who has climbed trad all his life but never climbed hard.
Very Much Mayr
Austrian ace free-climbs El Cap having never placed a cam
ny discussion about free-climbing El Capitan is likely to be chock-full of names like Tommy Caldwell, Alex Huber, Dean Potter and Leo Houlding. A reference to Michael “Much” (pronounced Muhk) Mayr, 28, of Innsbruck, Austria, is apt to be greeted with blank looks. Yet in three trips over the last five years Mayr has free-climbed three grade VI routes on the legendary Captain — El Niño (5.13c) in 1999, Salathe-Freerider (5.12d) in 2001 and Golden Gate (5.13b, second free ascent) in 2002. Not a bad score for a guy on vacation. As a sport climber, Mayr has on-sighted more than 35 5.13b’s and redpointed up to 5.14b. But in Yosemite he’s anything but a practiced big-wall workhorse. His approach is impressively simple: no fixed ropes, no pre-placed gear and no week-long rehearsals. Across the pond, Mayr’s recent alpine feats include an onsight free solo of the Cassin-Ratti Route (5.11d) on the Cima Ovest in the Dolomites, 1,900 feet tall and known for loose rock (he carried a short length of rope that he once clipped into, collecting himself after down-climbing from a loose section, but did not weight). And this past summer, upon returning to the Dolomites, he ticked off the second free ascent of the Couzy Route (5.13c/d), a poorly protected 650-foot climb made famous by Bubu Bole in 2001. Here Mayr takes a break in Innsbruck to sound off on English guys, trad climbers, loving life and The King. YOU’D NEVER EVEN PLACED A CAM BEFORE COMING TO YOSEMITE. WHAT MADE YOU THINK YOU COULD FREE EL NIÑO? Alex Huber did it, and also some crazy English guys. I thought, if the Brits can do it, then it can’t be so difficult. 32 | www.rockandice.com
WHAT’S THE HARDEST THING ABOUT THE GROUND-UP, SINGLEPUSH APPROACH? Knowing you have to get it right the first time. You only have four days to do the route, so you have to on-sight most every pitch, and the ones you don’t you have to do second or third try. WHAT WAS YOUR MOST THRILLING MOMENT ON GOLDEN GATE? On the fourth day, I had to climb the hardest pitch, a 5.13b, at high noon. It was crimpy, and I knew I had one chance to go up and check it out, and if I didn’t climb it on the next try I could forget it because my skin would be ripped and bleeding. I worked it after falling once, and I thought, “It’s too hard, it’s too crimpy, it’s too hot, I’m too tired, I can’t climb this.” But then I did it, so it was OK.
IT’S VERY SPECIAL TO FEEL FEAR. IT’S IN THAT MOMENT THAT YOU REALLY LOVE LIFE. DID YOU HAVE A CLIMBING MENTOR? Not really a mentor—a book maybe. [My roommates and I] had a copy of Sportklettern Heute, which Wolfgang Güllich and Alfred Kubin wrote in 1989. We read it so many times the pages fell out. MOST PEOPLE WOULD SAY IT’S CRAZY TO SOLO THE CASSINRATTI. WHY DID YOU? It’s very special to feel fear. It’s in that moment that you really love life, very much, so you hold on to it. WHAT DO YOU VALUE MOST IN LIFE? Love and passion and having time for an Italian coffee. IS THERE ANYBODY YOU’D LIKE TO MEET? Elvis. ANY BIG PROJECTS IN YOUR FUTURE? I can’t say for sure, but I plan to be back in Yosemite this spring. — Caroline Bollinger
HOW DID IT WORK OUT? We managed, but it was desperate. I led every pitch, and for some reason I also did all the hauling. We had so much water. Our bags weighed more than 110 pounds and kept getting stuck. I felt like I was digging through vertical acres.
Ian – Wakaputa, NZ
Dave – Joe’s
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Leashless Tools Unchain yourself—five modern designs for ice and mixed climbing BY PETE TAKEDA
limbing companies this year are clambering over each other to create new toys for a growing sport: leashless ice and mixed climbing. Four years ago, leashless tools were nothing but an absurd concept; today, five companies make dedicated no-leash designs, with more models on the way. Last winter’s ice festivals saw more top climbers leashless than tethered. Why leave the leash? In a word, freedom. With the new tools, outfitted with oversized hand and finger grips, you can match hands and choke up high, switch tools, mantle, and move more like an unencumbered rock climber. Placing gear has never been so easy, either, since there’s no need to fuss with getting in and out of a leash. If you get pumped while sinking a screw, just switch hands on your upper tool and shake out for a bit. The drawbacks to cutting the leash are obvious—it’s easier to drop a tool; the tools’ bent handles don’t plunge cleanly into snow; hammering pitons can be difficult; and it’s pumpier to hang by your hands rather than wrists. My advice? Demo some tools and decide for yourself. Five climbers participated in this review, from novices leading their first WI 4’s to veterans climbing M11. Here’s what we looked for: SHAFT DESIGN The best leashless grips accommodate both gloved and bare hands without adjustment, can be swung easily from both the upper and lower handles, and provide a natural hand position. We particularly liked shafts on which it was easy to shake out by alternating hands on the upper and lower grips. MIXED AND HOOKING ABILITY Mixed climbing involves more than just hooking flat edges, and today’s leashless tools need to do a range of jobs well: hook, undercling, torque in cracks, and grip slopers. In addition, the tool needs to stay in place while you switch hands, cross over, and mantel—practices that depend on a well-balanced shaft design. ICE-CLIMBING PERFORMANCE On ice, you need an easy swing and shatter-free penetration. You would think that manufacturers would have this rule of thumb figured out by now, but not all do. Much of a tool’s ice-climbing performance comes down to its weight, balance and pick design—and on leashless tools, it’s important that you can swing smoothly from the upper as well as the lower grip.
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CHARLET MOSER QUARK ERGO $270
A favorite among testers, the Quark Ergo refines the double-grip design into a sleek, well-balanced tool. The Ergo has the best swing of any tool tested, and the pick penetrates ice with minimal shatter. It’s also the most comfortable tool in the review—the lower and upper handles are well shaped, minimizing the pump. The Ergo comes up just a touch short on mixed terrain: On flat shelves, the Cascade pick tends to sit on the secondary teeth rather than the forward point. While this factor never popped the tool off a placement, it washed fear into the testers, as did the pick’s tendency to loosen its grip and incrementally shift when weighted in ice. The Ergo’s plastic lower handle is tight for those with big hands, and makes some unpleasant cracking noises when weighted in cold weather. Petzl/Charlet Moser: 801-926-1500, www.petzl.com. WEIGHT: 24 OUNCES WITH HAMMER LENGTH: 50 CM ICE-CLIMBING PERFORMANCE: AMIXED/HOOKING ABILITY: ASHAFT AND GRIP DESIGN: AFINAL SCORE:
TRANGO MADAME HOOK $200
Don’t let the “Madame” throw you—this is a beefy tool ready for a brawl. It’s also the best-performing design going for hooking and other dry-tooling nastiness. At a hefty 33 ounces (including the removable hammer head), however, the Madame Hook weighs almost 40 percent more than most leashless tools. The result, after a long pitch of vertical ice, is that Madame begins to feel more like Bubba. Fortunately, the swing is true and the pick secure; you just need the might to wield it. The steep pick can hook the smallest edges imaginable and sits well, sticking to cracks and slopers even when I let go to clip gear and shake out. On similar placements, other tools swiveled and dropped. The pronounced rubber pommel is great for manteling, although the pinky hook on the upper handle is disproportionately small. The Madame Hook is modular; an interchangeable straight handle with leash is available for $30. Trango: 800-860-3653, www.trango.com. WEIGHT: 33 OUNCES WITH HAMMER LENGTH: 50 CM ICE-CLIMBING PERFORMANCE: B+ MIXED/HOOKING ABILITY: A SHAFT AND GRIP DESIGN: B+ FINAL SCORE:
BLACK DIAMOND FUSION $269
The Fusion is both a remarkable and frustrating tool. Gripped from the upper handle, it swings into ice with the efficient arc of a highend tool. That’s great. The trouble is that when the tool is gripped from the lower handle (the one you almost always swing with), the pick bounces out of placements or shatters the ice. To its credit, the Fusion climbs rock like a champ, hooking and underclinging with grace. It also sports an adjustable-length
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lower grip that can quickly be tweaked for climbing gloved or bare-handed. Some testers found the skinny handle and relatively sharp pinky rest on the lower grip uncomfortable, causing premature pumpout. Black Diamond Equipment: 801-278-5533, www.blackdiamondequipment.com. WEIGHT: 24.5 OUNCES WITHOUT HAMMER LENGTH: 50 CM ICE-CLIMBING PERFORMANCE: C MIXED/HOOKING ABILITY: A SHAFT AND GRIP DESIGN: B FINAL SCORE:
SIMOND SCUD/COYOTE $275
In 2000, the Scud burst into the Ice World Cup limelight with its innovative, wild-looking two-grip handle. Today, however, the Scud has lost pace. It has a slick plastic pommel, and feels hollow when climbing ice. (Simond says it has upgraded the Scud this season with a rubberized handle and a redesigned pick, renaming the tool the Coyote. It wasn’t available for testing.) Despite the imperfect grips, the Scud climbs fairly well on ice and mixed. The steep handleto-pick angle contributes to secure ice sticks and hooking, though the absence of an upper-grip pinky guard causes a faster pump and squashed fingers. (Simond offers an after-market pinky guard requiring the consumer to drill a hole in the shaft.) Vertical Addiction: 403-6881830, www.vertical-addiction.com. WEIGHT: 22 OUNCES WITH HAMMER LENGTH: 50 CM ICE-CLIMBING PERFORMANCE: B+ MIXED/HOOKING ABILITY: ASHAFT AND GRIP DESIGN: C FINAL SCORE:
GRIVEL TOP WING $240
The Top Wing is the only tool we tested without an offset two-grip shaft. Ironically, despite its standard-ice-tool look, the Top Wing actually has the fussiest swing of all the leashless designs. “Like shooting an old Colt Dragoon,” said one tester. After some practice, the Top Wing climbed ice and mixed quite well—but some testers were frustrated by the lengthy learning curve. In addition, the trigger-finger hook must be precisely adjusted for a proper swing, and requires painstaking fiddling with an Allen wrench every time you change gloves or share the tool with a partner. The absence of a true upper handle makes it difficult to match hands—your lower hand and index finger occupy the only available grips. The innovative harness clip in place of a hammer allows easy holstering and deployment. Grivel North America: 801-463-7996, www.grivelusa.com. WEIGHT: 25 OUNCES WITH CLIP LENGTH: 53 CM ICE-CLIMBING PERFORMANCE: B+ MIXED/HOOKING ABILITY: B+ SHAFT AND GRIP DESIGN: C FINAL SCORE:
Lightweight ice and mountain boots Seven single-layer synthetic and leather boots for ice, mixed and mountaineering BY DEREK DOUCET
one are the days when plastic double boots were the only viable choice for winter climbing. Today, there’s a wide selection of agile leather and synthetic single-layer boots that climb a heck of a lot better than their predecessors. Though not as warm as double boots, the best-insulated models here can keep your toes toasty in temperatures down to 0 degrees F. These all-around, lightweight boots are excellent choices for the winter ice and mixed climber who doesn’t need extreme-weather protection, and for the general mountaineer who likes to tackle the occasional water-ice pitch. Surprisingly, none of the models tested are fully leather. All the boots incorporate at least patches of synthetic fabrics in critical flex points or hard-wearing areas. These new-wave materials are tough, feather light and, apparently, rather expensive—all of the test models cost at least $300. The boots were evaluated on the following criteria: 38 | www.rockandice.com
FRONT-POINTING PERFORMANCE A rigid sole is one of the keys to reducing calf strain on long vertical sections. A small degree of flex—a boon for hiking and low-angle mountaineering—can be compensated for by mating the boot with a rigid step-in crampon. Still, on sustained terrain, a firm sole is an advantage. The second and arguably most important factor affecting front-pointing performance is a boot’s fit—nothing makes front pointing feel more insecure than the dreaded heel lift, where your foot just won’t stay put in the back of the boot. The bestdesigned boots lock down your arches and heels so your foot doesn’t slide around; some incorporate lacing systems that run behind the ankle, allowing a fine-tuned heel fit. Remember, however, that even the highest-rated boot is nearly useless if it doesn’t fit your foot. The six models here range widely in width and volume; try on a pair before buying them.
donâ€™t fall into the trap of thinking all crampons are the same
Do you believe all crampons are identical? Then think again. The Terminatorâ€™s uniquely curved form will let you climb more naturally, expend less energy and so climb harder for longer. Fully asymmetric and extremely rigid, there are five separate configurations possible ranging from mono or dual to mixed. Donâ€™t leave Earth without them.
terminator Excalibur phone 801.942.8471 fax 801.942.8531 www.dmmwales.com
GEAR MIXED-CLIMBING AGILITY This is where these new boots really shine. Factors contributing to a boot’s agility are its weight, volume, overall bulk, ankle flexibility, last shape and sole thickness. Weight is an obvious concern—the adage that an extra pound on the foot equals three pounds in the pack rings true in winter climbing. A boot’s volume and bulk also contribute to the overall sensitivity. None of these boots are sport-climbing slippers, but the trimmest and most compact models do offer a noticeably better feel on both rock and ice. Pay particular attention to the toe box—a forefoot that bulges too far out over the sole can bump against the cliff face, levering the boot off small edges. Asymmetric lasts (i.e. those shaped to the curves of your foot) provide a more efficient walking and climbing stance. Ankle flexibility is key for low-angle mountaineering as well as steep ice and mixed moves: backstepping, stemming, sidestepping, toe-downs, etc. Some ankle support, however, is still essential for front pointing. Finally, boot soles should be kept thin and trim to save weight and keep your feet closer to the action. WALKING COMFORT The rigid soles so appreciated on long stretches of front pointing can be a real drag on approaches, causing heel blisters and foot pain. To compensate, boot makers incorporate “rocker”—a gentle fore and aft curve in the soles under the ball of the foot. This greatly improves walking comfort, though too much rocker can make it difficult to fit rigid crampons. In addition, a moderately flexible sole dramatically improves walking comfort—but comes at the expense of front-pointing performance. If you prefer moderate alpine ground with long approaches over sustained water ice, consider a semi-rigid boot. WARMTH The boots tested here are designed for technical performance first, insulation second. All are warm enough for moderate winter conditions, assuming you’re not prone to cold feet. I tested these boots in March conditions in northern New England, where temperatures ranged from 15 to 30 degrees F, and have noted which test models were significantly warmer than others. A few models were unavailable for testing; look to upcoming issues of Rock and Ice for reviews of the late arrivals. All weights are for a pair of men’s 10.5, except where noted.
Arc’teryx Theta AR with GORE-TEX ® XCR® fabric technology
Extendin g comfort. That’s what GORE -TEX ® XCR® (Extended Comfort Ran ge) outerwear is all about. Thanks to a remarkable new membrane technolo gy, these expedition-tested garments are the first to deliver extended comfort. Their extreme breathability combined with durable
LA SPORTIVA TRANGO ICE $370 This medium- to low-volume boot was a clear favorite for ice and mixed gymnastics. Good rigidity and rock-solid heel lock provide excellent front-pointing security. The light weight, clean toe-box design and ankle mobility combine to produce excellent mixed-climbing performance. Much of the heel security comes from the behind-theankle lacing system and the Velcro ankle strap, which can be loosened for walking. The moderate rocker makes the Trango Ice a decent hiker, and the soft, low ankle makes sidestepping easy. The integrated mini-gaiter is a nice extra, but only works if your pants are long enough to tuck into it. A couple of minor gripes: A tight ankle cuff makes the boot somewhat difficult to pull on, and the insulation is thin—you’ll likely get cold feet in temperatures below 10 degrees F. La Sportiva: 303-443-8710, www.sportiva.com.
waterproof protection ensures comfort over a wide ran ge of weather conditions. It’s rugged outerwear guaranteed to take you to that good place – and keep you there lon ger.
WEIGHT: 4 POUNDS 1 OUNCE FRONT POINTING: MIXED CLIMBING: WALKING COMFORT: WARMTH: FINAL SCORE:
A A AB
gore-tex.com GORE, GORE-TEX, GORE-TEX XCR, Guaranteed To Keep You Dry and designs are trademarks of W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc., ©2003 W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc., 1-800-431-GORE.
Best overall www.rockandice.com | 41
GEAR BOREAL ICE MASTER $300 A trim, low-volume boot, the Ice Master was the lightest model tested. Though the boot offers reliable front-pointing performance, its relatively flexible sole detracts slightly. Yet this is more than compensated for by a good behind-the-ankle lacing system, which locks down your heels. An adjustable Velcro closure at the ankle further grips the foot for a snug fit. Slender and sleek, with a thin sole and clean toe box, the Ice Master proved to be the most agile boot on mixed terrain. With the lowest ankle of the bunch, it can sidestep easily—a plus for both ice and snow routes. The Ice Master is a decent hiker thanks to its remarkable lightness and somewhat soft flex. The thin insulation is reasonable for moderate temperatures, but you won’t want to go below 0 degrees F in these. Boreal: 800-437-2526, www.e-boreal.com. WEIGHT: 4 POUNDS FRONT POINTING: MIXED CLIMBING: WALKING COMFORT: WARMTH: FINAL SCORE:
AA+ B+ B
MONTRAIL I.C.E. 9 $350 An innovative debut design, the I.C.E. 9 is two boots in one: a flexible hiking/mountaineering machine and, when mated with the integrated rigid crampon, a stiff-soled boot agile on the steepest ice. Montrail achieved this wonderful dichotomy by addingBest a special value crampon-attachment point under the forefoot of the boot for the accompanying I.C.E. 9 crampon ($185, sold separately). For routes that include long approaches or low-angle mountaineering punctuated by steep terrain, this boot is the most comfortable available. The boot itself is well designed: moderately warm, with a secure heel and easy sidestepping ability. It’s heavy, though, so isn’t the most agile mixed climber on ultra-steep terrain. The crampon has vertical front points that can be switched between mono or dual points; however, we wished for a higher-tech crampon when mixed climbing. (The protruding secondary points, for example, sometimes impeded backstepping.) That’s the Achilles heel of the Montrail system: You must purchase the I.C.E. 9 crampons, and for now you have only one choice in crampon design. (Montrail plans to release a new horizontal-point crampon for mountaineering later this winter.) Overall, however, this boot-crampon system may someday be known as the one that started the revolution. Montrail: 800-647-0224, www.montrail.com. WEIGHT: 5 POUNDS 6 OUNCES FRONT POINTING: MIXED CLIMBING: WALKING COMFORT: WARMTH: FINAL SCORE:
AB A+ B+
SCARPA FRENEY XT $319 With a high ankle and beefy sole, the Freney XT appeared, at first glance, to be similar to the Kayland and Vasque boots reviewed here—well constructed but somewhat bulky. But my first impression was wrong: The Freney XT is surprisingly light and agile. The high ankle cuff is far softer and suppler than it first appears, gripping comfortably for a snug fit. In addition, the boot is built on a curved last for a superb fit, with a trim toe box and clean inside edge. The rigid sole provides a stable platform for front pointing. A behind-the-ankle lacing system would be a nice upgrade, but despite this the Freney XT fits very well. Mixed performance is also remarkably good, due primarily to the boot’s light weight, asymmetric last and ankle mobility. The bonus is that the boot’s rockered sole makes it a comfortable hiker, and it’s surprisingly warm. Scarpa/Black Diamond Equipment: 801-278-5533, www.bdel.com.
Marmot Sharp Point with WINDSTOPPER® fabric technology
WEIGHT: 4 POUNDS 8 OUNCES (SIZE 11) FRONT POINTING: MIXED CLIMBING: WALKING COMFORT: WARMTH: FINAL SCORE:
AA B+ B+
New WINDSTOPPER® Soft Shells combine the full protection of a shell with the soft comfort of a mid-layer in one garment. Thanks to its revolutionary ultralight membrane technology, WINDSTOPPER® Soft Shells not only stop the wind, repel water, and prevent heat loss,
VASQUE SUPER ALPINISTA $395
but allow moisture to easily
Looking big and bulky, the Super Alpinista is nonetheless remarkably comfortable inside. The fit is firm and secure, with a well-shaped heel cup providing a solid heel lock. This, combined with the rigid sole, makes for easy front pointing on pure ice. A high, stiff ankle (the highest in the test) makes sidestepping difficult. On super-technical mixed ground, the Super Alpinista’s weight and bulk make it a less-than-ideal choice. Admittedly, some of this bulkiness is offset by a nicely asymmetric last with a trim inside edge and a relatively narrow toe box. Though the Super Alpinista is certainly capable of difficult technical work, it’s superceded by the sleeker models we tested. The substantial rocker makes the Super Alpinista a fair hiker despite its stiffness. The lacing system, however, continually loosens; self-locking eyelets would be a nice upgrade. On the upside, the Super Alpinista is one of the warmest boots tested, and I’d happily wear it in temperatures down to 0 degrees F or below. Vasque: 800-224-4453, www.vasque.com.
escape so you don’t get overheated. So now you can slam the door on windchill, blow away the need for layering, and find comfort in your favorite high-aerobic activity – in virtually any condition.
WEIGHT: 5 POUNDS 8 OUNCES FRONT POINTING: MIXED CLIMBING: WALKING COMFORT: WARMTH: FINAL SCORE:
ABB B+ gore-tex.com from the inventors of GORE-TEX ® fabrics GORE, GORE-TEX, WINDSTOPPER, and designs are trademarks of W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc., ©2002 W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc., 1-800-431-GORE.
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TIPS FOR HAPPY FEET
Slackline Brothers, Inc. Balance Mind Body Spirit Easiest Slackline Set-up Ever! Two, Stainless steel 2” double pulleys, one is equipped with a becket and a brake. 4:1 mechanical advantage allows for quick and easy set-up, and take-down of your slackline.
1 Kiss wet feet goodbye First the good news: Today's ice boots, with their synthetic fabrics, are naturally water-resistant, so they don't get waterlogged like old-school leather boots. The bad news is that, like all "water-resistant" products, they still leak. Here's the quick fix: Juice them with a polymer spray like Tectron Extreme Sport Shoe Guard or Nikwax Fabric and Leather treatment, available at outdoor shops and some hardware stores. For a more thorough treatment, seam-seal the stitching with SeamGrip (which, by the way, is also handy for filling small puncture holes in a boot), or Toko Seam Proof. Then brush on a thick layer of "fabric and leather” waterproof treatment like Nikwax, SnoSeal or Toko Water Stop.
2 Make your boot fit like a glove
What to do if your toes slip around in your new boots, or your heel just won't stay down when you front-point? Rather than layering with extra socks— which don't prevent sliding—shim the excess volume with insoles, your best option being special insulating models from an outdoor shop. Customize the fit by cutting the insoles to fill the volume exactly where you need it, like in the heel, and gluing them to the bottom of the original insole. People with small, bird-like feet might use a total of three insoles in their boots.
Joshua Tree Climbing Salve "For the tip-rippin', knuckle-nickin' climbing fiend. For anyone with cracked, beat-up hands... climbers, skiers, backpackers, carpenters, gardeners, dishwashers...use the best ingredients known to handkind! Made with 100% synthetic-free ingredients, it heals, soothes and moisturizes. Puts blown tips back on the rock where they belong."
3 Keep your piggies warm
Trango The Trango Squid is the first stick clip which allows you to UN-CLIP draws from bolts. That's right, now you can get your draws back from the ground. Also clip bolts and hang your rope. Trango $29.95
When alpinist Barry Blanchard heads for the deep freeze in Alaska and Canada, he protects his feet with a twolayer sock system: a thin Capilene liner and a fleece-lined neoprene sock. The liner helps to prevent blisters and wick moisture; the neoprene acts as a vapor barrier, preventing sweat from soaking the boot liner. Be sure to remove the neoprene sock at night so your feet can dry out, preventing the dreaded "trench foot."
GEAR KAYLAND SUPER ICE $399 Similar to the Vasque Super Alpinista, the Super Ice is bulky yet offers superior warmth and fine construction. Heel security was average to good due to a form-fitting heel cup, yet I’d welcome a behind-the-ankle lacing system. The Super Ice’s sole is fully rigid so it front-points efficiently, and the clean toe box edges precisely. The boot’s weight and bulk, however, hinder its performance on testy mixed terrain. The Super Ice has little rocker, so is not a great hiker. Finally, sidestepping is difficult due to a high ankle that’s a bit stiff laterally. Kayland: 819-326-1453, www.kayland.com. WEIGHT: 5 POUNDS 4 OUNCES FRONT POINTING: MIXED CLIMBING: WALKING COMFORT: WARMTH: FINAL SCORE:
AB B B+
Marmot Quantum with WINDSTOPPER® fabric technology
New WINDSTOPPER® Soft Shells combine the full protection of a shell with the soft comfort of a mid-layer in one garment. Thanks to its revolutionary ultralight membrane technology,
ASOLO SUMMIT $385 A lightweight boot with a trim sole and lacing that extends to the toes, the Summit promised high performance right out of the box. Questions arose while climbing, however. The boots are high volume in the toes, making edging or mixed climbing difficult, and, despite the boot’s behind-the-ankle lacing system, I couldn’t keep my heel from lifting up while front pointing. The last is straighter than most models, and the inside edge of the boot protrudes slightly over the sole, producing a boxy feel. For those with a very high-volume foot, though, these boots may be worth a serious look. The heel lift was mitigated somewhat by a sturdy, rigid sole, yielding decent front-pointing performance. Sizing runs a half to a full size bigger than normal. Asolo: 603448-8873, www.asolo.com. WEIGHT: 5 POUNDS 8 OUNCES FRONT POINTING: MIXED CLIMBING: WALKING COMFORT: WARMTH: FINAL SCORE:
rt ing ng mfo e imb g Co inti l o C cor th t P ixed rm inal S lkin n a a o r Model Price Weight* F W F M W La Sportiva Trango Ice $370 4 lbs 1oz A A AB 4.5 Boreal Ice Master $300 4 lbs AA+ B+ B 4.5 Montrail I.C.E. 9 $350 5 lbs 6oz AB A+ B+ 4.5 Scarpa Freney XT $319 4 lbs 8oz AA B+ B+ 4.5 Vasque Super Alpinist $395 5 lbs 8oz ABB B+ 4 Kayland Super Ice $399 5 lbs 4oz AB B B+ 4 Asolo Summit $385 5 lbs 8oz B+ B B B 3.5 * Weights are for a pair of men’s 10.5, except the Scarpa, which is size 11.
B+ B B B
WINDSTOPPER® Soft Shells not only stop the wind, repel water, and prevent heat loss, but allow moisture to easily escape so you don’t get overheated. So now you can slam the door on windchill, blow away the need for layering, and find comfort in your favorite high-aerobic activity – in virtually any condition.
Ice and Mountain Boots
gore-tex.com from the inventors of GORE-TEX ® fabrics GORE, GORE-TEX, WINDSTOPPER, and designs are trademarks of W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc., ©2003 W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc., 1-800-431-GORE.
W H AT ’ S N E W Suunto X6HR watch Suunto has upped the ante on its outdoor watches with the new X6HR, a do-it-all “wrist-top computer” for mountaineering. Not only does the device have an altimeter and barometer, but also a digital compass and heart-rate monitor. On top of all that, it still tells time. From the moment I took the X6HR ($420) out of the box, I found its heart-rate monitor easy to use— readings appeared on the watch face within moments of my donning the chest strap (included). By wearing the unit on strenuous training hikes and mountain runs, I could accurately gauge my efforts (though the small-sized numerals were a bit hard to read). With practice, I learned to pay attention to my
heart-rate target zones so I could back off the pace before my legs turned to mush. I didn’t geek out enough to download my workouts to my PC and share them with other X6HR users on the net, but the option was there. The altimeter and compass functions aren’t quite as accurate as stand-alone devices, but are easily sufficient for basic navigation. Other than the stratospheric price, my only complaint about this versatile gadget is that it’s easy to accidentally trigger the oversized buttons when you flex your wrist. The single lithium battery (included) has lasted over a year and is still going strong. Suunto: 800-543-9124, www.suuntousa.com. — Mark Eller
Stonewear chalk bag and belt Stonewear Designs’ flower-power chalk bag ($20) and black shell belt ($14) are so freakin’ cute they’re enough to get me out bouldering again even after breaking my heel six ways to Sunday last year. The belt is more form than function: The faux shells don’t exactly help the bag slide from side to side, but they work fine for bouldering. The wire-rimmed chalk bag suits all-around use, and includes a zippered trinket pouch. Stonewear Designs: 800-860-3653, www.stoneweardesigns.com. — Alison Osius
Outdoor Research Quadratic Suit When I first slipped into the Outdoor Research full-body underwear suit, I felt kind of goofy. But my wife did a double-take: “I like that,” she said. “It’s sexy.” I was sold. Made of lightweight Polartec Powerstretch, the Quadratic Suit ($140) is sinfully soft and breathable. Cut long in the legs and arms, this next-to-skin layer flexes smoothly during high steps and reaches. The uni-suit design prevents “plumber’s butt,” and wears cleanly under a hip belt or harness. A three-way zipper runs from the chin to the crotch to the tailbone, providing quick ventilation and easy access for heeding nature’s call. Thankfully, the zipper is tucked protectively into the fabric so it doesn’t snag on your, er, skin. The fleece is treated with an anti-microbial finish that kept odors at bay for five consecutive days on Mount Shasta this spring before finally faltering. I liked the suit so much that I’m taking it on upcoming trips to Mount Rainier and the Mexican volcanoes. Outdoor Research: 888467-4327, www.orgear.com. — Larry Amkraut
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DAVID CLIFFORD (ALL)
Franklin Giants It’s fun to have a couple of mongo holds on the wall for dynos or hand-foot matches. Franklin’s new Giants aren’t jugs, mind you—you’ll need some serious body tension to stick these gently sloping rails and blobs on a steep wall—but they’re large enough to wrestle with both hands. Set four or five trending diagonally upward on a bouldering wall and see if you can link them together. (Their acreage may be overkill for a small garage gym, but they shine on walls with a bit of space.) My favorite Giants are the Mr. Smiley half-moon hold and the Big Bleau sloper, both of which offer several grip positions and a porous, skin-friendly texture. Prices range from $25 to $50 per hold. Franklin: 801-993-1366, www.franklinclimbing.com. — Tyler Stableford
Marmot Alpinist 55 pack I’m no soul-climber mountaineer, but I know a good pack when I see one. The Marmot Alpinist 55 ($179, 3,350 cubic inches), the middle-sized of the company’s three new “Fast & Light” backpacks, is a solid, surprisingly roomy performer that rides like an ergonomic dream. On my own fast-and-light half-mile approach to the Outer Outlet crag in the Needles of South Dakota, I was easily able to stash a full rack, 15 quickdraws, two pairs of shoes, two layers of warm clothes, a rope and lunch. The removable lid and waist-belt zippered pockets offered handy stash points, and the pack’s full-strength haul loops and sleek Kevlar-and-nylon exterior made for hasslefree hauling, even over rough, crystalline rock. I wore the Alpinist 55 every day for a week of cragging, finding it a consistently comfortable and durable companion. The package, which weighs in at a scant 2 pounds 14 ounces, is rounded out by two adjustable ice-axe loops and two removable aluminum stays. Strip it down by removing the suspension and top lid, and you have a 2-pound summit pack. Available in two sizes. Marmot: 707-544-4590, www.marmot.com. — Matt Samet
Tried and True: Yates Screamer Mank. Tat. Jing. Bad protection comes in many guises and goes by many names. Regardless, the Yates Screamer, a shock-absorbing runner, can increase the chances that your sketchy gear will hold. And even on good placements it can reduce the peak load, giving your rope and belayer a breather. The Screamer ($11.75) has been around for well over a decade and has proven itself time and again. I’ve probably used the Screamer several hundred times, mostly on dubious gear on aid routes but sometimes on poorly protected free routes. I’ve never fallen on a Screamer, but have tested them with a dynamometer. They work. When you fall on a Screamer its stitching starts to rip at 550 foot pounds (roughly the force you’d generate in a fall of just a few feet). A Screamer keeps on ripping to ultimately absorb 880 or so pounds. Clip two Screamers in a series and you can double the force absorption. Or use the Yates Zipper ($21.50), basically a burlier version of the Screamer, to reduce peak loading by up to 1,700 pounds. Even with their stitching completely blown, both the Screamer and Zipper still hold close to 6,000 pounds. For ice climbers, Yates has the Ice Scream ($12.50), which slips over the shaft of most ice screws. They also make a special tie-off version for aid climbing, the Scream Aid ($10.75). Yates Gear: 530222-4606, www.yatesgear.com. — Duane Raleigh
Channel Surfing The hard way is never easy BY JOHN LONG
aturday morning. I was running late, gassing along Pacific Coast Highway toward Malibu State Park, the local sport-climbing area. I’d felt a little off from that first step out of bed, annoyed when the ancient tape deck in my company car gobbled my only Eric Dolphy cassette, and downright hateful when, swerving to avoid a maniac on a riceburner, I fumbled my Venti Joe and all 16 ounces cascaded over the crotch of my snow-white surfing trunks. By the time I gained the parking lot and humped into the crag, I could have murdered widows and orphans. Instead, I jumped up on a 5.12a and immediately pitched. “The route’s crap,” I raged. “The whole area’s crap. I hate everything.” I hurled my slippers into the brush and slouched back on a boulder. Then I spot48 | www.rockandice.com
ted her, standing in a swath of shade 20 feet away, sheepishly peering my way. She’d witnessed the whole carnival, and as her eyes played over the disturbing brown stain on my trunks I felt so ashamed I could have burnt her to ashes with a glare. I loathed this woman and her flimsy smile, her 8-ounce Aquafina bottle in one hand and her designer “wilderness” get-up. Like many others from the chic Malibu coastline, just down the road, she’d migrated up to the park for a New Age wilderness encounter. She belonged in a Pilates class, or in some pansy café on Pacific Coast Highway, but not here. I stared silently at this silly creature, with her close-cropped brown hair and a face that, while gentle on the eyes, was apparently tangling with a few issues, and I hated her. I hated everybody, includ-
ing my partner, “Andy,” who’d likewise eyeballed at her for several minutes, though I couldn’t say why. “Aren’t you Wendy so-and-so?” Andy finally asked. Wendy nodded feebly. “Wendy who?” I said. “She’s a singer and an actress,” said Andy. “Who isn’t, in this town?” I asked. “She sings on Broadway. Don’t you?” Andy said, glancing at Wendy. “I used to ... sometimes,” she said. “Well, let it rip, Sweet Pea,” I said. “You might start off with ‘Amazing Grace’ because I could use some just now.” “I think you’ve confused me for a trained parrot,” she said. “I didn’t mean it like that,” I said. “But I performed for you. Poorly, for sure, but I gave it a shot.”
PLANET LARGO “Well, how about if I sang from back here?” she asked. “You look kinda ... scary.” “If you were wondering,” I said, motioning toward the scandalous stain on my trunks, “that’s coffee.” “Sure it is,” cracked Andy. “Go stick your head in a blast furnace,” I grumbled. “You might think about changing medications, because the one you’re taking”— and here Wendy shook her head at me—“it isn’t working.” I blew out a sigh and said, “Would you be so kind as to sing us a song?” “OK, if you put it that way,” she said. “But no promises how this might sound.” She moved a few steps closer into a hollow, formed by the wall that mildly amplified our voices. Then she drew a breath and glided into “Hello Young Lovers,” from the King and I, one of Rogers and Hammerstein’s sappiest, and finest, tunes. Wendy couldn’t have weighed more than a hundred pounds, but she amazed us with her amplitude. As she drifted into the second refrain, I went from empty and desolate to warm in the middle as her voice called me back to the living. For a few moments longer, as Wendy breezed through
50 | www.rockandice.com
the last chorus, our dingy little patch of shade, stone and poison oak became a castle in the sky. Carl Sandburg once wrote that it’s easy to die alive, to register a living thumbprint but be dead from the neck up, which pretty well described me that morning. My father had died a few weeks before, and ever since I’d felt torqued, nasty mean and glad to pass it on. Then Wendy sang her song. For a long beat we sat as quietly as converts after a prayer. “Thanks for that,” I said. “That’s the first song I’ve sung in almost two years,” Wendy finally said. “If I had your voice, I’d sing all day long,” said Andy, “just to show off.” “I did that for nearly 10 years,” she said, “and I forgot why I was singing at all.” “Until a few minutes ago, I couldn’t tell you why I was doing anything,” I said. “It’s been that way for two weeks.” “Try two years,” said Wendy. “I’d perish,” I said. “And you don’t have to stand so far away. I don’t feel scary anymore.” Wendy stepped over and sat down with us on the rocks. We hung out for another
hour or so; in the meantime, Andy and I put in a few burns on that crappy 5.12a, and the crappy routes that book-ended it as well. Then I tried a third burn on the middle route, pitched off just shy of the shuts and once again flew into a rage. Wendy’s song had cleared my eyes to see what I was doing, but I was still doing it. “Sumbitch!” I yelled, glaring down at Andy. “Just lower me.” I touched down and untied. “What’s wrong with me?” I raged. “This thing’s supposed to be easy.” Andy howled: “5.12 never gets easy, you moron.” I wanted to grab Andy’s words and shove them down his throat. For two weeks I’d floundered around in a trance, broken briefly by Wendy’s performance, but now I was back to floundering and I didn’t want any part of it. I wanted to crank every crux with the greatest of ease, but reality refused to oblige, so, true to form, I started running. I packed my bag, thanked Wendy for her song, told Andy to go jump off a cliff, and marched for my car. Driving home along Pacific Coast Highway, I pulled over by Puerco Canyon and walked down to the beach.
Trudging along the sweeping, wet line where the land met the sea, I bitterly reflected on how all my dearest fantasies eventually dropped into the crapper: like that promise of a soul mate who lives to celebrate your every feeling, thought and desire (and you end up with Hagatha, who flogs you with your many defects); that the President never lies; that your folks will never die. In fading blue light the waves rolled in and rolled out, and salty white bubbles, like so many cherished beliefs, popped to nothingness on the floor of the beach. As far back as I could remember I’d wondered which of mankind’s faiths and illusions I could choose as my sustaining light, and I’d chosen the greatest existential pathology of them all: that if I worked hard enough, and smartly enough, my greatest challenges would someday flow effortlessly under my hands like glassy Malibu swells. Occasionally they did. But just as often all was chaos, blundering and effort. The clincher was that when the difficulties eased and life ran smooth and easy, I’d immediately grow bored. Yet the moment life again became onerous or beyond reck-
oning I’d start dreaming of a tropical hammock and cold beer. Easy or hard, I’d grown addicted to searching out the opposite, reducing my life to an exercise in channel surfing where I rarely embraced where I was and what I had. Whenever a failure or a crisis stalled me in one channel, I’d scramble for an immediate solution, trying to solve my life instead of pausing to live it. But when someone died or I found myself benighted on a ledge for the livelong night, I couldn’t change channels. And that’s the part I hated because then I couldn’t dodge the fact there were pivotal chunks of my life I refused to live. Amazingly, there was even more involved here, like the business of how easy and hard times seemed always to arrive willy-nilly, at oblique angles, like waves in a hurricane. My cliffside performance could run from awful to dazzling in the same hour, but such swings were nothing compared to the screwy orbit of my conventional life. Somewhere in the rolling of the ivories, the story unfolded, along with the truth of how little I could do to leverage the plot. The more all this churned in my head, the more I felt unhinged.
I slogged along the edge of the sea, hoping a bottle might wash ashore, a bottle with a message and a final answer. Then I caught myself doing it again, wishing to hike that crux with no strain or wobbles, or for a genie in a jug to make it all better. I simply lacked the wherewithal, or restraint, or gumption, to stop running for somewhere else. Yet once there, I’d start running again because running was my only strategy; and it was wearing me out and making me crazy. The sun slowly melted onto the liquid plane. I had perhaps 20 minutes before darkness. Then I recalled something Andy had said the previous weekend, up at Echo Cliffs, which are not cliffs at all but calcified dirt clods. I’d ripped a hold off a popular testpiece, took a 20-foot fall and started blaming myself for lack of judgement, for climbing “heavy,” for skipping a bolt. Then Andy chimed in and said, “Don’t flatter yourself. It wasn’t your fault.” This incredible statement, which sounded like cant, was starting to make sense. I’d blame everyone for everything but underneath I was blaming myself for all the normal havoc in my life. This created rugged inner tension and rank
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PLANET LARGO moods, but if I took responsibility for every fix, I could cling to the delusion of control. But I was only “flattering” myself, trying to play God, for Utopia comes from the Latin for “there is no such place.” 5.12 would always require effort, life frequently flowed in chaotic, unconnected ways, and deadlines were often met with hacked-out dreck. The world had its winners, but no one kept their winnings forever. Everyone I knew would die, then the belay would blow out and I’d plunge into nothingness— and it wasn’t my fault, I couldn’t do one thing about it and there was no one living or dead who’d never sketched along the way. Stand-up folk with prodigious discipline and commitment might find a calm spot within the typhoon, but an absence of sketching has never earmarked mastery, rather the brand of the man dead from the neck up, a passive withdrawer from all risks. No sooner had I admitted as much when into the crapper fell all my idealized gurus and wisemen, all those I’d hoped and imagined had attained perfect mastery in all things. From day one I’d secretly measured my life against folks who finally were
just infantile hallucinations. And now they were gone. As the sun dove into the Pacific, I sat back on the sand and years of dashing slowly ground to a stop. I felt old, alone, and 1,000 pounds lighter. Then I started laughing at myself for taking such a roundabout route to accepting that living was hard and required sustained effort. But if it were easy to accept that life was hard, life would be easy, and it’s not. Sitting there listening to the pageant of waves, I gazed into the night sky and wondered about my dad. Like one of the stars filling the dome of sky, dad was now so infinitely remote even Wendy’s voice couldn’t call him back. And that cut deeply because we’d never gotten on the same page. The harder we tried, the worse we struggled. When things got strained or ugly, instead of sitting down in the sand and listening, we’d quickly turn the page, desperately hoping to find a legend written just for us two. Neither of us knew we were never meant to find a common storyline, so we continued channel surfing though the relationship. Maybe it was the rhythm of those waves, or the sea wind, or the fact that I’d run
out of road, but I came to realize we all are formed to perfectly synch up only with ourselves. Only when I accepted this could I quit channel surfing, and only then would my life come temporarily into phase. I’d continually need to rediscover my ever-shifting sweet spot. But until I abandoned my crusade for someone or something outside of me, I was just a child looking for a parent, who was looking for a parent, and it was just one big crazy go-around. “I guess this means I’m an adult,” I thought to myself. I’d postponed that acknowledgment for nearly half a century. Where the water meets the sand, the drama of life played its first scene, and every evening, the ending is rehearsed. And in the interlude, as we chase after our lives, every heart will shatter a thousand times. Then a stranger will sing a song that flows through the hole in our hearts. No longer will we feel dead from the neck up. For a moment or a month we’ll stop channel surfing and settle into our own bones, and life will once more draw us into an adventure beyond fear and solitude. And until the end of the last act, all of us caught in the net of life will walk the coast together. ◆
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death is an art form for the dark prince of high bouldering, jason kehl. so what’s up with the baby dolls? By Jonathan Thesenga
WELCOME TO HIS
(WE THINK YOU’RE
GONNA LIKE IT
e photographs by ally dorey
MOTHBALLS. MUSTY, RANK MOTHBALLS. The entire place
reeks of them, adding to the creepy vibe of the Davidson Doll Hospital, a “store” that is really the front three rooms of a dilapidated, ivy-covered brick house in Salt Lake City. I’ve come here with Jason Kehl (pronounced like “sale”), the uncrowned shadowy prince of highballing, competition bouldering, climbing films, hold shaping ... and doll collecting. Kehl, 26, a scraggly looking sort who has become known as much for his macabre eccentricities as for his climbing, is here to do a little shopping. The walls, shelves, ceilings and floors of the store are lined with hundreds of dolls, most covered in dusty, plastic sheeting. Not girly Barbies or huggable Tickle-Me-Elmos, but eerie, lifesize mannequins, miniature ceramic dolls, $400 antique dolls. What catches Kehl’s eye, though, is the box of “injured” dolls— he’s drawn to one with a mismatched head and body. “Are you serious doll collectors?” the greasy shopkeeper eagerly asks. “No,” I abruptly answer while poking my head into the back room, where dozens of circa-1940s dolls hang from meatlocker-like hooks, price tags tied to their wrists and toes. “I am ... sort of,” Jason says. “I’m interested in odd dolls. Do you have any more like this one?” he asks, holding up the 25cent injured doll. “Nope, she only has one like that,” says the old man. “She’s been collecting these dolls for years, but she hasn’t gotten any of the injured dolls in awhile.” (Who “she” is, is never made clear.) “I think this one is very interesting,” Jason says, unfazed. “The stitch marks where the hair used to be attached, they look like scars or something. Yeah, this has some interesting potential. I’ll take it.”
JASON KEHL STANDS OUT IN ANY PUBLIC PLACE that’s not a
cemetery. His voicemail extension is 666. I’ve seen photos of him wearing a full-length faux-fur coat, white contact lenses, metal-tipped jackboots and a paintbrush’s worth of mascara. He looks seriously freakish, like a foot solider of Satan. When I first meet up with him at a small Thai restaurant in homogenized, ultra-conservative Salt Lake City, however, he looks shockingly weird. He looks normal. “What ... what the hell happened to your hair?” I ask as we shake hands. For the past two years Kehl has sported a samurai-like “skullet,” with the front half of his head shaved and the back half left in shoulder-length dreads dyed ink black. Tonight, however, I’m stunned to see him sporting a generic crop of inch-long brown hair. “I’m undercover,” Kehl says. “I cut the mullet off around Easter. Gotta mix things up. I miss it, though. You couldn’t be timid with that haircut. You had to be proud—like a rooster.” Wearing a plain black T-shirt and shorts, Kehl almost passes as a white-bread-and-mayonnaise SLC local. Almost. Closer up, I see the scruffy beginnings of pork-chop sideburns. Kehl
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says he’s growing out the facial hair around the hinge of his jaw into a “catfish whisker” look. As we walk to a table I notice he’s limping heavily. “I popped my knee out of socket at the comp,” Kehl says. “I don’t think we’re going to be able to climb at all this week. It’s really hard to even bend it.” It turns out that Kehl, the man who cruised the first ropeless ascent of After Midnight (30 feet, V11) and established Evilution (45 feet, V12), the most difficult highball boulder in the world, hurt his knee two days ago jumping off the bouldering wall at a PCA competition. He landed on an overlap in the padding and his knee buckled. Poorly insured and unable to afford a hospital visit, Kehl has simply wrapped his knee with an Ace bandage. Three years ago Kehl committed himself to being a full-time climber. Now his climbing life has been put on hold—indefinitely. He’s injured and stuck here in Salt Lake, without a car, in 100-degree August heat until his flight leaves for home next week. Good-boy haircut or not, Kehl must be losing his frickin’ mind, stewing with cynical darkness ready to boil over into a kitten-stomping rampage. “Honestly, I’m not bummed at all about my knee,” Kehl says as he takes a sip of water. “I take injury very lightly. Really, it’s no big deal.” No vein-popping anger, no spite-filled vitriol, no mention of slaughtering house pets. In fact, during our week together, Kehl never utters a single negative comment about anything. “I have other things to do besides climbing right now anyway, like shaping holds for Pusher,” Kehl adds. “Plus, I’m working on editing the Evilution video footage for a sponsorship package I’m putting together.” Most climbers who know Kehl recognize him from his videos such as Witness This and Frequent Flyers. Specifically, they know him for his homicidal, high-pitched screams during crux moves. “You almost think he’s kidding when he screams,” says videographer Mike Call. “He’s not a loud person—quiet, really—but this dramatic side suddenly comes out when things get hard.” Kehl says the screaming “gives me extra adrenaline, extra energy. Like Bruce Lee when he punched or kicked someone, he’d give a scream with it ... it’s the same with me.” Such anomalous behavior has been Kehl’s trademark since his early days of “redneck rappelling with nylon parachute cord” at the scrappy crags near his home in Maryland, where, when he isn’t bivied in his van, he stays with his parents. By the time he’d finished high school, Kehl, having trouble finding climbing partners, built an entire circuit of boulder problems and 60-foot solos in the forest behind his house—on trees. “I’d nail blocks of wood onto trees and train on them,” recalls Kehl. “On the really tall ones I’d use a static line and prusik to protect myself. I’m sure people thought I was a little crazy.” During his tree-bouldering days, Kehl began to develop his artistic side, always with the same central theme: death. “It’s a major part of my art,” says Kehl, who took every art course offered at his local community college and then promptly dropped out. “Death is important, and people need to be made aware of it, need to stop and think about it. That’s what I want my art to do: make people think.” To that end, Kehl, so hyperactively right-brained he rarely reads a book, often chooses to make his art so shocking that it’s impossible to ignore. “I don’t see things I like and pull
OPENER: BUSTING THE MOVES ON BEER AKTION (V10) OUTSIDE LLIEDA, SPAIN, BEFORE PUTTING THE FINAL TOUCHES ON HIS RECENT PERFORMANCE-ART PIECE “DEAD IN SPAIN.” TOP: KEHL IS THE PROUD FATHER OF SOME 30 “PLASTIC HUMAN OFFSPRING,” INCLUDING H.A.L., AGE UNKNOWN.
from that,” Kehl says. “I see things I don’t like and change them ... modify normal things to work within my world.” Case in point: his 1991 white Chevy Astro van. Kehl transformed the soccer-mom grocery-getter into a road-tripper with black flames down the sides, a skull with remote-controlled glowing red eyes mounted on the front bumper, a leg bone for a gear shifter, an all-black interior with a bed, cabinets and stove, and with a sink that dispensed water from a baby doll’s head. Although he sold the van (with 240,000 miles on it) last year for $600, Kehl has bought another generic-looking Astro van and is in the process of customizing it. On the drawing board are goat horns for door handles and an aquarium with baby-doll heads floating in it. “For Jason, every day is Halloween,” says Call. “It amuses
him to freak people out. It’s as though he’s conducting a social experiment.” Adds Ally Dorey, Kehl’s girlfriend of two years, “Most of the time my initial reaction is: ‘You’re going too far. You gotta tone it down.’ But he’s so psyched and so confident in what he’s doing, he can pull it off.” For Kehl, bouldering competitions are the ideal venue for his ongoing art experiments. “It’s an open stage for five minutes,” he says. “I take comps seriously, but I also know that I can do anything I want and everyone will be exposed to it.” In some of his comps, Kehl has used fake blood to paint a sponsor’s name on his back, climbed in football shoulder pads covered in black feathers, and worn a single pinkcolored contact lens. Once, he even showed up costumed as a elderly man, complete with a wig, a walker, and makeup and latex facepaint to simulate wrinkles. “I love having Jason at the comps. Everyone does,” says Scott Mechler, director of the PCA and longtime friend. “He always has something crazy planned.” “People who know him would be disappointed if he didn’t do things like that,” says Dorey. “With the haircut, the screams, the van ... he gets mixed responses from total strangers, but most climbers understand.” And then there’s the dolls. “It’s definitely his fetish,” says friend Ben Montgomery of Kehl’s collection of 30 or so malformed dolls. Some are missing arms or legs, others have bizarre colors or shapes. All were bought from second-hand stores, junk shops and the Davidson Doll Hospital. “I see these freaky looking dolls,” says Kehl, “and I just can’t believe someone actually made this for a child to play with.” Some of his “plastic human offspring” are stowed in a duffel bag under his desk back home; others have names like Mr. Henry, The Blue Papoose and H.A.L., and travel constantly with Kehl on his many climbing road trips. “He’s always taking those dolls out to the boulders and setting them up so they can watch him climb. He uses them for moral support,” laughs Dorey. “He gets really into one doll for like a month and then finally gets bored with it.” Once his interest in a doll dies off, Kehl waits until “the doll gets to where it needs to be” and then hides it for someone else to discover. KEHL FUNDS HIS VORACIOUS CLIMBING HABIT (he’s climbed in six foreign countries, as well as countless crags and boulders between Maryland and California) by working the odd www.rockandice.com | 57
ACTION! KEHL SLAPPING TOUGH FOR A BIG UP PRODUCTIONS VIDEO PROJECT AT THE HOLY BOULDERS OF SOUTHERN ILLINOIS. BELOW: TAKING ROAD TRIPPING TO A HELLISH NEW LEVEL.
death is important, and people need to be made aware of it, need to stop and think about it. that’s what I want my art to do: MAKE PEOPLE THINK.
shift at climbing gyms, earning photo incentives from sponsors, and winning costume contests. His most consistent source of income for the past three years, however, has been shaping holds. “Every shape he makes for us is gold,” says Mike Uchitel of Pusher. “I don’t think I’m overstating it by saying his work is genius.” Over the years Uchitel has seen the Kehl persona go through many additions and modifications, and warns against judging the book by its cover. “Don’t let all the dark stuff fool you,” says Uchitel. “Jason is a good man. He’s a bright light toying with the darker aspects of life, keeping some, discarding others, but never letting them truly become a part of him.” Adds Montgomery: “Sure he’s fascinated with dolls and bones, but really he’s a genuine, fairly normal, positive person.” But let us be clear: Until the winter of 2001, Kehl’s high-decibel screaming and meditated “not normal” antics had done little to elevate his climbing above the pack. With worldwide standards on a mercurial rise, Kehl’s 5.14a redpoints, V12 successes and local comp victories were little more than regional website news CONTINUED ON PAGE 86
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kn BOSKOFF ATTEMPTING AN ALPINESTYLE ASCENT OF K2’S SOUTH FACE
s quietly one American ghabu g, in er ne ai siness nt ou m in of 8,000-meterest peaksâ€”plus owns the guidbe s ht ig he d use he lle ca -fi be sk ri gh 's hi ? May In the ld m or hi w of e d th ar of he x u si d yo ven't de summitte ness. So why ha ts stronger at altitu ge st ju ff Mountain MadC ko os B ne ti is a she. And hris
BY A N D Y D A P
ascent of Gasherbrum II (8,035 meters) and was trekking out from the Pakistani peak in August of 1999 when her liaison officer insisted that the expedition stop at his home. He wanted Boskoff to meet his mother. “He took me to the back of the house where his mother and sister were preparing the meal for our group and, basically, abandoned me there,” Boskoff says. The officer returned to the front of the house to mingle with the men. He had not intended to slight Boskoff—the back-room presence of women was simply the reality of his world. Says Boskoff, “Given his upbringing, he was overwhelmed that a woman would be leading a Himalayan expedition.” He wasn’t the first guy in the male-dominated world of highaltitude mountaineering to be surprised by Christine Boskoff’s place on top. Since her first forays into the big peaks, in 1995, this Seattle climber has ticked six 8,000-meter peaks—more than any woman alive—and taken charge over one of the country’s largest mountain-guide operations. When I meet Boskoff in Leavenworth, Washington, for a mid-October blitz of Dragontail Peak, she has just returned from Ouray, Colorado, where she’s been enlarging an iceclimbing outpost to her business, Mountain Madness, the mountain-guiding firm she purchased in 1997 from the estate of its former owner, Scott Fischer. (Fischer died in 1996 while guiding a summit attempt on Everest.) When Boskoff, 36, hops out of her Range Rover, I’m surprised by how small she is—5 feet 3 inches and maybe 115 pounds. We shake hands and my paw engulfs hers. Says Scott Morgan, a Mountain Madness client and an occasional climbing partner, “With the blonde hair and thin build, you’d think she was a tennis player, not a big-peak mountaineer.” But a big-peak climber she is, and although she no longer aspires to being the first woman to stand atop all 14 8,000-meter peaks, she is still regarded by many as the best female high-altitude climber alive. In the 11 years since she took up climbing, she’s summited high peaks in Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina, Mexico, Africa, Europe, Asia and North America. Boskoff has made the biggest impression in the Himalaya and the Karakoram. She’s attempted 12 different 8,000-meter peaks (some more than once), topping out on Broad Peak (1995), Cho Oyu (1996), Lhotse (1997), Gasherbrum II (1999), Everest (2000) and Shishapangma (2000). Only Wanda Rutkiewicz, who scaled eight 8,000-meter peaks before she died in 1992 on Kanchenjunga, has surpassed Boskoff’s tally. During the summer of 2002, Boskoff set out with Charlie Fowler to attempt her seventh 8,000-meter summit, making a self-supported alpine-style bid on the South Face of K2. (Boskoff is not one to choose the easiest way up a peak just to bag it.) Ultimately, poor weather and deep snow kept the two below 6,900 meters. Considering all her expeditions, it’s surprising that only a decade ago Boskoff was an electrical engineer and just learning to rock climb. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin in 1991, she went to work for Lockheed Aeronautical Systems in Atlanta, where she soon found the long-term prospects of the job disturbing: “I’d look down the tunnel of time and wonder what I’d have to show for this career.” She quit Lockheed (for the first of several times) in 1992,
CHRISTINE BOSKOFF HAD JUST LED A SUCCESSFUL
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thinking she’d join the Merchant Marine Academy as a way to travel and pay the bills. Shortly thereafter, she took a rockclimbing course. “As soon as I tagged the top of my first rock wall,” she says, “something clicked.” She sensed she could travel and satiate her stifled adventurous side through climbing. She went back to Lockheed to make ends meet, but devoted her free time to a new passion. HIKING IS A FORM OF COMMUNION —while
traveling along a trail, you tunnel into the soul of a region. And if you talk as you walk, you can tunnel into the soul of a companion. As Boskoff and I travel the blackness of a cold North Cascades autumn morning, following the narrow beam of our headlamps to the base of Dragontail Peak, I get the six-mile version of her life. Boskoff talks about her younger years (three older brothers made her tough and athletic), the school years (University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee) and Charlie Fowler, her boyfriend of three years (he’s adventurous, committed to his beliefs, gentle and non-materialistic). I pop a trite question about what it’s like being a woman in a man’s world. Most men accept her at face value because she’s strong enough to keep up, she says. I ask her how long she can continue climbing 8,000-meter peaks, and she says at least another decade or two. She hopes to attempt the West Ridge of Makalu and might schedule a rematch with K2. Which has me wondering aloud whether she’s really out of the game to climb all the 8,000-meter peaks. Absolutely, she says—she’s now drawn to lower, unclimbed peaks in Asia, improving her guiding skills, and devoting more time to her business. When Boskoff and her then husband, Keith Boskoff, purchased Mountain Madness in 1997, they were both relative newcomers to climbing, but eager to build a lifestyle around it. Boskoff is forthright with me, but she seems unwilling to reveal too much. Which makes me unwilling to ruin what is shaping into a good day by asking questions that are too personal. Questions like, “What happened to Keith?” Keith Boskoff was a driven man 18 years her senior. He was upbeat, enthusiastic to the extreme and well loved by almost everyone who knew him. Clients say he was impossible to say “no” to, friends use words like “awesome” to describe him, and guides say they never saw him down. Still, almost everyone who knew him agrees that the word “manic” pegged him. “I never saw him depressed, but it’s hard to believe that anyone who was usually so high didn’t have down times, too,” says Stephen Shrader, a former Mountain Madness guide. Apparently he did have his lows, and during one of them in 1999 he took his life at home. It shocked everyone. “There was a sense of shared guilt ... we wondered what we missed and how we could have helped him,” says Matt Ward, another former guide. The person with the best insight—Christine—doesn’t field questions about the matter. Says Fowler, “Keith’s death is a very private issue for Christine; she doesn’t discuss it.”
DURING THE APPROACH TO DRAGONTAIL PEAK, Boskoff is not at any moment unusually fleet, but she just keeps going. If I stop so much as to pee, I worry about catching up. Others have felt this angst. Scott Morgan, who runs ultra-marathons, describes a car-to-car, 16-hour climb of Mount Rainier’s 10,000-verticalfoot Kautz Glacier. “She’d have done it in 14 hours if I hadn’t been holding her back,” he says.
“SHE and Peter Habeler RACED UP Mount Everest’s KHUMBU ICEFALL in 45 MINUTES. It TAKES MOST acclimatized climbers THREE HOURS to move through the area.” — Charlie Fowler
THE ANTI-POSTER GIRL: BOSKOFF, WINDING DOWN A DAY IN THE SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS NEAR OURAY, COLORADO.
Piotr Pustelnik of Poland, a climber with 11 8,000-meter peaks to his credit and the leader of the unsuccessful 1998 Makalu expedition that Boskoff had joined, describes hauling gear around the Makalu basecamp. “Chris grabbed one of her duffel bags and took it to the tent. I wanted to be a gentleman so I took the other bag and tried to lift it. No way. The bag is so heavy I stand there like a fool. She comes back and throws it on her back like it has no weight.” Boskoff, with characteristic understatement, rates herself a mediocre athlete at sea level but at altitude, she says, she feels better and can hang tougher than most climbers. Fowler has been on four 8,000-meter peaks with her and says that her climbing talent and self-awareness only improve at altitude. “She and Peter Habeler raced up [Mount Everest’s] Khumbu Icefall in 45 minutes,” he adds. “It takes most acclimatized climbers three hours to move through the area.” Wringing such anecdotes out of Boskoff herself is not easy. She doesn’t commandeer attention in the manner I’d expect of a promoter selling 800 to 1,000 people on Mountain Madness trips each year, or of a speaker giving motivational slideshows each month to non-profit organizations, or of an employer managing the strong personalities of 30 guides. She lays out the facts plainly. As we scramble up the glacial moraine leading to the base of the 2,000-vertical-foot walls of Dragontail Peak, I tell Boskoff that the last time I climbed one of the chossy north-face routes on this peak, I had made deals with powers I didn’t believe in to deliver me from harm. She chuckles—she doesn’t put much stock in deal making or fate. After surviving close calls of her own, she says, she discovered that judgement is powerful insurance. “You learn to pick routes wisely,” she says. “You monitor your body and listen to your inner voice. You don’t climb if conditions aren’t right. You suppress summit-or-nothing attitudes.”
Boskoff admits that retreating from K2 in 2002 stung, but says it would have aggravated her more in bygone years. “I used to feel I had to make the goal; I pushed and pushed,” she says. “Over time, I’ve started to back off because so many friends and acquaintances have died climbing. I’m learning to listen when things aren’t progressing right.” Boskoff believes another important part of surviving so many expeditions to the highest peaks—peaks where, on average, one person dies for every eight who summit—boils down to climbing as a free agent. Corporations don’t pay for her expeditions; manufacturers don’t donate most of her gear. “This alleviates pressure tremendously,” she says. “I don’t have to deliver if conditions are stacked against me.” This low-profile climbing style has kept her from becoming the darling of outdoor-industry sponsors—a situation suiting her just fine. “She just isn’t in this for the recognition; she doesn’t want to be a poster girl,” says friend Jane Bromet Courage. Courage laughs: “She is a good-looking woman—she could dress herself up in hot, sporty outfits, pluck her eyebrows, use some lip gloss and attract a lot of attention. But she won’t buy into that. She inspires women to be true to their own image—not society’s image. She teases me if I worry about brushing my hair.” We reach the foot of our climb, scramble up several hundred feet of exposed rock, then rope up. Once geared, Boskoff moves confidently up the ice-cold granite. She doesn’t profess to be a top technical climber, saying she’s comfortable leading traditional rock in the mid-5.10 range and ice up to WI 4. Friends insist, however, that she leads well into the 5.11 range, while on ice she leads WI 5. Several pitches higher, the angle of the route kicks back and we unrope. It’s this relatively easy but unforgiving terrain of scree-covered ledges, friable-rock ramps and awkwardly balanced boulders where Boskoff excels. She moves smoothly and confidently upward, exhibiting a cultivated form of relaxed focus. Several hours of climbing delivers us to a sunlit summit ridge overlooking the shadowed face we’ve ascended. For a guide with a client, she notes, the upper 1,000 vertical feet of CONTINUED ON PAGE 88 BOSKOFF CONTINUED ON PAGE TK
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leadingli,ng highbal ing
and softloen is o ry: blur
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X R AT E D
SPORT CLIMBERS NOT ADMITTED THIS FEATURE CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT FROM CLIMBING’S ORIGINAL HORROR SHOW: THE BLACK HILLS OF SOUTH DAKOTA
WRITTEN BY MATT SAMET PHOTOGRAPHED BY TYLER STABLEFORD
I WAS 8 YEARS OLD, TOOLING AROUND
on my BMX in the bland, middle-class wastelands of central Albuquerque, New Mexico, launching off curbs, combing back alleys for forgotten treasure, dodging bullies. Meanwhile, 620 miles north, the late Kevin Bein, one of the first climbers to solidify 5.13 in America, was leaving the “security” of an askew pin tipped into a flaring crack 130 feet off the ground, stretching left for a handful of sloping crystals on the Needles of South Dakota’s infamous testpiece Vertigo (5.11+ R). Supported by a team including his wife, Barbara Devine, and Needles’ locals Paul Muehl and Pete deLannoy, Bein established an enduring “scareball” classic, one that epitomized Needles-style climbing: bold, intricate and ground-up. Flash forward 24 years: It’s a dead-still, Indian summer morning, white-hot sun smacking hard against the black-streaked plaque of Vertigo, high above a shady tumble of ferns, hummocks and blocks. I focus on the climbing, but it’s a losing battle; 5.11 has never felt this hard. If I hadn’t already sweated out the morning’s coffee, I’d throw it up. As it is, I’m close to dry-heaving, depleted from 25 minutes of nervous up-down, up-down on this selfsame crack in 85-degree heat, futzing with gear and making
THE AUTHOR CONDUCTING SERIOUS RESEARCH: LAUNCHING INTO A 30-FOOT RUNOUT ON THE R-RATED VERTIGO (OLD-SCHOOL 5.11+), WHICH HAS SEEN ONLY 14 ASCENTS SINCE THE FIRST IN 1979.
an occasional leftward grope before scuttling back to a slimy stance by the pin. “You’ve got it, Matt,” shouts my friend Danika, shivering just below the sharp meridian of the sun/shadow line at the belay ... but I know that I don’t. I’m blinded by sweat, my forearms cramping, my heels rubbed raw by my sopping, too-tight rock shoes. I croak a perfunctory “Take!” and slump onto the rope, a small TCU crammed high into a pegmatite slot supporting my weight. One “F—k!” later and I’m lowering off, primed to spend the rest of the day re-hydrating and threatening, as per usual, to quit climbing. Yet an evening run up the technical, well-protected face climb Leaning Jowler (5.12a), on the nearby and more user-friendly Aquarium Rock, kicks me back into the groove. This is the Needles, perhaps America’s finest overlooked climbing playground—ripe with tradition and riddled with spires—and I’d be an ass to quit now. ~II~ THE NEEDLES IS A LAND OF ENDLESS ROCK and countless spires that range in size from jug-headed anomalies like the 170-foot, top-heavy Sore Thumb to more common improbabilities like the 50-foot, slender Superpin. (In fact, some spires, like the 40-foot, pencil-thin Sandberg Peak, seem constantly poised to topple.) It is also a land of fins, ribs, aretes, quartz-floored corridors piercing somber grey walls, and rounded boulders. Lithic lumps of every ilk, from five to 500 feet high, litter quiet forests of Ponderosa, birch and aspen; there are ridge-top spikes piercing the cerulean Dakota sky, lording over this liminal space where the Great Plains lap against the thought of the Rocky Mountains; there are lakes, gulches, sudden vistas and an array of embedded crystals at once so puzzling and spectacular as to baffle the eye. This is a face climber’s paradise: Cracks are few and far between, and often decomposing. The rock, a frictiony pegmatite (a coarsegrained granite) is, at 2 billion years old, the most ancient in the state, the weathered core of the once 15,000-foot-high dome of the Black Hills, a sacred hunting ground for the Lakota people. Riddled with such minerals as quartz, feldspar, mica and beryl, which lend the stone its crystal-studded nature, the area’s hundreds of stiffly graded routes are not to be taken lightly: Crystals do break— albeit rarely—and an unplanned fall will leave you bloodied and battered by the sharp, extruded holds.
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THOUGH THE FIRST RECORDED NEEDLES ROUTE, in the Cathedral Spires, was the work of Fritz Wiessner in 1936, Needles climbing development truly started with Herb and Jan Conn. In 1947 the Washington D.C. husband-and-wife team bagged the first of 216 virgin spires they would go on to climb. They moved to the region soon after their first visit, and today, Herb, 83, and Jane, 79, are still scrambling and trail-blazing through their beloved Black Hills. “We called them suicide shoes,” says Jan of the slippery, stiffsoled boots popular among post-WWII climbers that the freethinking Conns eschewed in favor of pliable, $1.95 thin-soled tennis shoes. Leaving a penny on each virgin summit and using pitons harvested from Army pin ladders at Seneca Rock in Virginia, the Conns free-climbed up to stout 5.8 by drying their hands with duff and pinecone dust. During their heyday in the 1950s, they climbed in Custer State Park at least twice a week. Given the highly textured nature of the rock, where smearing is at a premium and the crystals, especially those of mica and feldspar, can be unnervingly slick, the Conn’s iconoclastic choice of footwear is a telling component of their futuristic vision as climbers.
“I don’t know how we climbed that,” says Jan today, pointing at the monolithic, 200-foot needle of East Gruesome on a tour around the stone slivers and towering battlements of the Cathedral Spires. “It must have been two other people!” The Conns continue to define the terms “Renaissance Man” and “Woman,” with curricula vitae that include electrical engineering and leather-goods making (Herb), and virtuoso flute and piano playing, and music teaching (Jan). A frugal couple living in a re-fitted cave sans electricity or running water near the town of Custer, the Conns left climbing behind in the 1960s to explore and map the nearby, 100-mile-long Jewel Cave. Jan is often recognized as one-half of the team, with Jane Showacre, that made the first “manless ascent of Devil’s Tower,” in 1952. Yet it is for their purist free-climbing ethic, established in a relative vacuum, that this husband-and-wife partnership is best known. “The Needles is one of the few places left that is still sacred,” says Cindy Tolle, 42, an Exum guide and longtime Needles climber based out of a cabin near Custer. The local climbers still cling to a strict, ethic of ground-up, stance-only drilling (no hooks!) that has produced such classics as the Needle’s Eye (5.8 X), the Barber Route (5.10 X) on Superpin, Trojan Determination (5.8 R/X) on Reunion Rock and the Cleveland Route (5.10+ R/X) on Hairy Pin, Tolle adds, “This is a no-fall area. If you learn here, you learn not to fall off.” ~IV~ of Needles climbing, with a unique focus on spire bagging. The second wave of activists, in the 1960s, placed a premium on direct lines up the spires’ faces, building on the Conn’s uncompromising legacy. Its ranks would include Californian Bob Kamps and Dave Rearick, Renn Fenton, Mark and Beverley Powell, Rich Goldstone, John Gill and Pete Cleveland. The tales of Cleveland’s death-kissing leads in the stone glade of the Ten Pins have become the stuff of lore, as has Gill’s 1961 first ascent of the Thimble, a 5.11 highball that still commands respect. Cleveland, a competitive climber pursuing a one-sided rivalry against the retreating Gill, may have found the impetus for his unrepeated, unprotected 5.11 lead of the 50-foot Superpin after being burned off by Gill on an overhanging boulder problem near Sylvan Lake. Picking his way up the typically crackless, smooth northwest corner of Superpin in 1967, Cleveland found himself taken off belay once his partner realized there would be no protecting the lead and scampered off to take pictures, either of Cleveland’s imminent success or demise. Fortunately for Cleveland, it was the former. Today the Superpin is climbed via the 1977 Barber Route, a 5.10 X with two well-spaced bolts, one of the many sick, ground-up Henry Barber leads established worldwide during his prime, in the 1970s. Spurred on by his success on Superpin that year, Cleveland also made the first lead of the neighboring, 100-foot Hairy Pin, slamming in one bolt to protect the fussy 5.10+ business at 45 feet and, to please his panicking belayer, a second, drilled in death-fall range just below the summit. Then there was Gill, in a “fevered pitch” to bag his line on the Thimble, a gently overhanging, 35-foot-high mini-spire plopped down amidst one of the most touristed parking lots in the Black Hills. Though slightly contrived (escape is possible into a 5.8 groove on the left at points), Gill’s 1961 line was, at the time, singular
THE CONNS USHERED IN THE FIRST GENERATION
RIGHT: SEAN JONES AND DANIKA GILBERT REVELING ON ONE OF THE NEEDLES’ "WELL-PROTECTED" ROUTES (I.E. ONLY 25-FOOT FALL POTENTIAL): TRICOUNI NAIL'S SHOWPIECE ROBBINS ROUTE (5.8).
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“Tnhoi-fsais a ll
u learn here, you
learn not to fall.”
in terms of both commitment and vision. “This was likely the hardest short free climb in the world, at the time,” writes Pat Ament in Wizards of Rock; even with today’s “V14-this” and “V15that,” and giant nests of pads, the Thimble is more often talked about than tried. We ruck up to the Thimble early, eager to beat out the hordes of “How’d-you-get-the-rope-up-there?” Midwestern tourists. I warmup on the 5.8, a plus-sized crash pad laid flat over the asphalt below, then wait until my well-meaning friends have wandered off to a safe non-spotting distance. I fondle the opening grips on Gill’s route, a line rarely climbed sans toprope rehearsal that has had three claimed “second” ascents in the ground-up, ropeless style of Gill: one by Pete deLannoy, another by Greg Collins and a third by John Sherman. Fondling turns to action, and I find myself locked into the opening sequence on incuts, bobbling up moves that Gill reversed
ing” of the 1970s and 1980s, is personified by Bein, Devine, Tolle, deLannoy, Muehl, Jim and Carol Black, Dick Laptad, Bob Archbold, Paul Piana and Todd Skinner, who launched onto the area’s steepest unclimbed faces, drills in hands, ready to push the new standards of 5.11, 5.12 and even 5.13. Even still, they drilled only from free stances, not hooks. “The Needles were considered by most of us back then as miniature mountains,” says Archbold, climbing in the Black Hills since 1971. “And you climbed mountains from the bottom to the top, not from the top to the bottom. We didn’t hesitate to place bolts, but the bolt was the choice of last resort.” “Paul always used to say, ‘You can beat the rock into submission’ ... but he didn’t like to,” recalls Muehl’s widow, Loretta, a retired schoolteacher and herself part of Needles lore. (A sometime climber, Loretta would cook for and host the wayward climbers whom
L TO R: JOHN WALKER TOPPING THE RAZOR-BLADE GOSSAMER (5.8) AT MOUNT RUSHMORE; FAMILY FUN AT THE RUSHMORE KOA KAMPGROUND; MICHAEL BOOTH SLACK-LINING BETWEEN SUPERPIN AND TENT PEG; SEAN JONES TREADING INTO THE DANGER ZONE ON NEEDLE'S EYE (5.8 X).
time and again. I arrive all too quickly at a sloping horizontal at 15 feet, pondering my options: Call for a spot—and risk my friends’ necks—bail left, or go for it. I’ve gone easy on the coffee this morning, so I’m less shaky than usual. I commit, splaying my limbs across a faint rib where the crystals flatten into the matrix, sloping depressingly downward. Twelve feet of pimpy barn-door management brings me near the 30-foot mark, where my left hand finds solace—an incut hunk of quartz—and I teeter onto the slabby finishing rib, scampering to the summit, legs atremble. Yes, this is the Needles, damn it, and if you aren’t getting scared, you aren’t trying. ~V~ THE THIRD WAVE OF ACTIVITY,
the “Golden Age of Face Climb-
Muehl picked up as belayers, and offered up her yard as a “tent city” during the area’s annual summertime “Climb-a-thons.”) Paul, a onetime history and mineralogy teacher, and a demolitions expert who worked on the monument-in-progress Crazy Horse, near Custer, died in 1996 of lung cancer. A courageous and graceful climber, Muehl was quick to equate bolting from hooks with aid climbing, a veritable taboo in the Needles—witness the area’s few, early aid leads, like the bolt ladder inside the Needles Eye, now reduced to a string of empty bolt holes. “Paul also liked to say that ‘Climbing is a mental laxative,’” adds Loretta. The inevitably stout, testy routes produced during this era include Ex-Lax like Vertigo (5.11+ R); Four Little Fishies (5.9), on Aquarium Rock; the hyper-classic Nantucket
Sleighride (5.10), on Moby Dick; and the sporty, three-pitch Yellow Wall (5.11c) in the Cathedral Spires. In the late 1980s, however, with the introduction of the power drill—since banned in Custer State Park—the game began to change. A spattering of routes were Bosched in ground-up (e.g. Leaning Jowler and the sustained 5.12+ crystalfest Walking the Plankton, both on Aquarium Rock) with, in some cases, the drill lowered from above at difficult stances. “The ban is too bad, really, because we were putting in nice routes,” recalls Tolle of the years 1987 through 1989, before motorized drills were nixed. “But we needed a local consensus.” Along those lines, in 1988, when the first top-down sport routes were beginning to pop up on the generally coarser rock
near Mount Rushmore 10 miles away, a survey was distributed to all known locals, and 31 climbers convened to talk ethics. The result: The Needles and Mount Rushmore would be considered two separate areas, with the rigorous groundup Needles ethic remaining in place there, and Rushmore set aside as the sacrificial rap-bolting lamb. (Interestingly enough, the permissive ethic in Rushmore has allowed for hard, overhanging routes up to 5.13+, a virtual impossibility under the Needles system.) While the 1988 agreement has largely been honored, whispers of entirely rap-bolted crags just beyond the periphery of Custer State Park in National Forest land continue to circulate. Bruce Junek, chairman of the Black Hills Climbers Coali-
tion, a 103-climber organization in place since the mid-1980s, says, “People have actually quit the coalition because of disagreements over [rap-bolting], but just ignoring the issue is not working either.” Talking to climbers one-on-one, Junek has come to realize that, “There’s a lot of people in the Hills who are ready to discuss this.” (“This” being the possibility of a more relaxed ethic in Custer State Park.) And Brent Kertzman, a longtime Needles local, says, “It’s a very selfish act to lock up more real estate by placing new routes that are runout in an effort to feed your ego.” “I’ve tried to keep it as traditional as possible by setting the pace,” counters Larry Shaffer, a Hill City resident and 11year Needles climber who has established routes up to 5.12+ on the area’s steepest walls by using hooks to bolt. Defending this controversial tactic, Shaffer says, “It became really difficult to stand up for an ethic that was dictated solely by the angle
of rock.” Shaffer’s hardest route, which he calls the most strenuous and demanding lead in the Needles, is Khayyam Spire’s unrepeated, two-pitch Silk and Sangria (5.12+), a powerful line with bolts and gear on the west wall of the formation. “There’s a lot of people that can’t cope with the Needles,” says Shaffer of the pro-rap-bolting faction, whom he argues want to dilute the ethic to serve their own ends. Nonetheless, even if the ethic does “evolve,” the Needles will be most treasured for its legacy of boldness. “Climbing has become more of an athletic event than a spiritual one,” laments Tolle. “I’d hate to see that happen here.” Here is an area where even the so-called “safe” lines, like the Robbins Route (5.8) on Tricouni Nail in the Ten Pins, demand a cool head and a willingness to run it out, supplementing oftensuspect bolts and historical pins with tied-off horns and iffy gear. It is an area with trade routes like the dead-vertical Four www.rockandice.com | 69
WAYS TO DIE STILL WANT TO BE A TRUE NEEDLES CLIMBER?
BARBER ROUTE (5.10 X), SUPERPIN, TEN PINS: A 50-foot with two fat bolts. The catch? The first comes right away, the second at 40 feet. Fill in the 30-foot gap by balancing your way up quartz mini-jugs on a sustained 5.9 arete.
CLEVELAND ROUTE (5.10+ R/X), HAIRY PIN, TEN PINS: A beautiful face climb on the somber northeast side of this 100-foot spire, this line protects with one Stopper, an old pin and two bolts. As you pimp through the 5.10+ crux, stretching right for the famous “yellow jug,” steel yourself for the ensuing 35-foot, nearground-fall runout to the second clip. SINCE THEIR FIRST VISIT TO THE NEEDLES IN 1947, HERB AND JAN CONN HAVE TAGGED THE FIRST ASCENTS OF OVER 200 FREE-STANDING SPIRES AND MAPPED OVER 60 MILES OF UNDERGROUND CAVES.
Little Fishies (5.9), on which, in the course of clipping a mere four bolts in 150 feet, you tug on jutting crystals that threaten to snap. This is an area for adventure climbers, pure and simple. It’s also an area where it’s rare to encounter another party on your chosen route. ~VI~ was trying to figure out the traverse,” says bold Boulderite Andy Donson, Vertigo’s 13th ascentionist. “I must have hung out there for 15 minutes, going back and forth, until finally getting the right feet. I remember a powerful layback to reach slopey knob-things, then feeling like I was going to swing right off once I let go of the layback.” I release the layback with my right hand, digging my toes into a pissy little nub to counter the swing: Ego has dictated that I come back for a vertiginous rematch. It’s shady this time, breezy and cool, and Danika has offered to return despite my childish fit earlier. I’m whimpering now—gripped despite the relative proximity of decent gear—pumped from 15 minutes of dithering, like Donson, along the edge of the crack. I latch a nubbin high and right, point my toe onto an ice cube of quartz, and shuffle left, rounding the crest of a slight bulge. Two moves higher I start to shake. With what Danika later describes as a “moan,” I snap at a crimp ... it’s good. I stand up to bigger crystals and whoop: The worst is over. I vibrate my way summitward via a 5.10 crack and runout 5.9+ face plastered with otherworldly quartz blobs. Danika makes quick work of the pitch and
“THE HARDEST PART OF VERTIGO
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joins me on the summit. A glass jar wrapped in duct tape serves as the register: We’ve made the route’s 14th ascent, three years after Donson. The register is a Who’s Who of American climbing: Kevin Bein and Barb Devine, Greg Child, Mark Hudon and Max Jones, Christian Griffith and Dale Goddard. “F—king hard for 5.11” I write in the little notebook, “but a brilliant route.” It’s chilly up here, and breezy; a hint of sun creeps around the looming Outer Outlet to our west and smacks the eastern tip of the spire. I crawl to the edge and that patch of sun, taking in Middle Earth, a labyrinth of spikes and fins characterized by diagonally striated crystals that broods over an immense, forested valley. This is the former secret stomping ground of the Muehls, deLannoy, Tolle and crew, who, in addition to bestowing Tolkienian names on all their routes and formations, weathered out rainstorms in the buffalo-skull-bedecked “Orc Cave,” drinking chokecherry wine “cut” with Everclear and lighting candles against the dark. This is a place of magic and history. Danika joins me on the edge, equally as fixated by the view. Here we are in the heart of the Needles where, if you raise yourself to the level of a climb instead of lowering the climb to your level, you’ll be rewarded. The only sound is the wind; there are no climbers in sight. We savor our reward, this airy, lonesome spire top, until we’re shivering with cold, then cast our ropes down and rappel. MATT SAMET, SENIOR EDITOR AT ROCK AND ICE, IS STILL MENDING THE NERVES HE SHATTERED IN THE NEEDLES.
TROJAN DETERMINATION (5.8 R/X), REUNION ROCK: A wandering line named after the “love trophy” found at its base, this alluring 80-foot face sports a paltry three bolts.
GILL ROUTE (5.11), THE THIMBLE: Not to be confused with a 5.12c Kevin Bein toprope right of center, John Gill’s 1961 line flirts with disaster on the rounded 30foot-high rib just left. Gill bouldered the problem ground-up with a backsnapping guardrail in place; though the guardrail has since been moved, good style permits no toprope rehearsal.
YELLOW WALL (B1), CAMPGROUND BOULDER, SYLVAN LAKE: Tackle the leftmost Yellow Wall line, an intimidating highball up yellow-stained pegmatite on the west face of the famous boulder (look for the old Gill arrows). With a high crux on poor knobs over a head-splitter rock, this is a demanding problem, even with crash pads. Again, rehearsal is frowned upon.
NEEDLE’S EYE (5.8 X), Different options, including a 5.10 direct start, gain the horn/ledge on the left at 40 feet. From here, 40 feet of unprotected crystal climbing lead to a horizontal with two dubious pitons, capped by a slabby, smeary 5.8 exit crux in the water groove. One morbid local used to chalk an X in the parking lot where a falling climber would deck, and one hapless grimpeur, taking the lob just before the pitons, landed atop a Winnebago ... and survived.
Pins and Needles Steel yourself for the best of South Dakota’s spires ROUTE
DESCRIPTIONS COURTESY OF
Autumn is sweet, just don't fall. Danika Gilbert latching crystals on Condemnation (5.10-). Below: At nearby Mount Rushmore, Sean Jones cranks under the watchful eyes of George W.
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ith a thousand routes in the area and no guidebook currently in print, the magical Needles of Custer State Park, near Rapid City, South Dakota, have become more mysterious than ever. Here, however, for the first time, longtime local Cindy Tolle, a senior guide for Exum Mountain Guides and director of the Tutuaca Mountain School in the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico, shares her detailed topos, compiled with Pete deLannoy and the late Paul Muehl. The following descriptions of the Ten Pins and Outlet crags will give the firsttime visitor a thorough introduction to many of the Needles’ finest routes. For beta on the area’s 800-plus other routes, e-mail Tolle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Outlets, situated north of the placid Sylvan Lake, offer a high density of routes a flat, half-mile walk from the parking area at the Sylvan Lake store. Routes here are generally one to two pitches long and well protected, and are arrayed along all sides of the fins and corridors that comprise the area. Good bouldering can be found at the Campground Boulder on the southeast side of the lake, roughly 150 yards north of the Harney Peak trailhead.
to p arki ng
cabin Pinnacle Jorasses
Not Stonehenge Dam
Outer Outlet Vertigo Vertigo View
to campground boulder
The Outlets overview Inner Outlet This is the second prominent rock fin sitting north of the small crags enclosing the north end of Sylvan Lake. Approach by walking around the west side of the lake and through a stone corridor that pierces the walls by the dam. Turn left (westerly) and walk around the imposing Not Stonehenge (the first fin), then follow a climbers’ track north past the diminutive Paydirt Pinnacle to the west tip of the Inner Outlet. A two-rope rappel on the north side gets you off the summit. 11 5 6 7 2
17 16 15
Outlet Boulder 1. Gill and McCarthy Boulder Problems. Hunt for the white Gill arrow. Crystals take you up a high face. 2. Katey’s Route (5.8). Follow bolt line to the first belay on Retable. Make a one-rope rappel to the south. 3. Other Truckers’ Favorites (5.8 PG-13). Begin in gully left of Katey’s Route, then climb a thin crack to the belay. 4. Lander Turkey Shoot (5.7). Popular and classic. Follow the bolt line on the fin/arete of the prominent spire, then make a one-rope rappel to the north. 5. Hot Licks (5.9 R/X). P1: Climb the chimney left of Lander Turkey Shoot until it ends, then move up and left to a bulge, and piton belay. P2: Head for the exit chimney. 6. Honey I Shrunk My ’Nads (5.11 PG-13). The bolted line left of Hot Licks. 7. Bronchial Distress (5.10+). Follow the obvious water chute to a belay at the top; bring small to medium pro. 8. Beau Visage (5.10 R/X). P1: From the flake system just right of Classic Crack, layback to a bulge then a face with a bolt. Go right to a second bolt, then up and left past a pair of pitons. Traverse into the chimney and belay. P2: Follow the chimney to the top. 9. Two-Year Plan (5.11-). The bolt line (7 bolts) right of Classic Crack; bring small wires and Friends through #3. 10. Classic Crack (5.8). The obvious crack to the top; protects well. 11. Cold Feat (5.7 PG-13). Follow flake and ridge to overhanging guillotine flake on the summit skyline; stay left of this to the top. 12. Conn Route (5.4 PG-13). Start in chimney and climb to the summit. www.rockandice.com | 73
SUPER GUIDE 13. Gill Route (5.7 R/X). From the notch, climb the crack and face to summit. 14. Wiessner Route (5.6 PG-13). Up the chimney splitting the southeast face. 15. The Rustler (5.10+). Bolts right of Hardrocker. 16. Hardrocker (5.9 PG-13). P1: Begin left of Wiessner Route and climb to a belay lege. P2: Up and left past two bolts, then traverse right into the gully; surmount an overhang to summit. 17. Rockinâ€™ Harder (5.10). The bolted line left of Hardrocker. Quality. 18. Retable Route (5.6 PG-13). P1: Begin at a flake on the south side and climb to a belay. P2: Up ramp and headwall (pitons) to exit chimney. Vertigo View and Youbet Jorasses These are the two fins/crags comprising the rib of rock between the Inner and Outer Outlets. Approach by scrambling east over the saddle below Classic Crack on Inner Outlet, and into the gully below. A short, blocky corridor separates the two formations. Descend via a double-rope rappel on the north side. 5 8 1
1. Right Turn from Nowhere (5.8 R/X). Follow the flakes and crack to the headwall, then move up and right to summit. 2. Foreplay (5.8). Follow the bolt line through the gully into the chimney. Climb the face through the chimney to the top anchor or exit right to a single-rope rappel anchor. 3. Nutcracker Suite (5.10 PG-13). To the climberâ€™s left of Foreplay. 4. Birth Control (5.8). Bolts up the water groove left of Foreplay. 5. Innercourse (5.5). A classic line that begins from the top of the boulder. 6. Virgin Ambitions (5.7 R/X). Walk past the boulder. Climb up and left to the first bolt, then right to the second. Head toward a gully with a crack, on the left. 7. Ocean Gypsy (5.9+ R/X). P1: Up to a lone bolt, traverse right, then head toward the shoulder. P2: Up the south face to the summit. 8. Conn Route (5.4 PG-13). The north side of Vertigo View. 9. Sex Never Did This to My Hands (5.8+). Climb the beautiful, left-diagonalling crack. 10. Conn Route (5.2 PG-13). The south side of Vertigo View. Outer Outlet and Vertigo This is the dark-gray, hulking formation visible from the Sylvan Lake parking lot. Towering well above its neighbors and situated on the edge of the plateau above Middle Earth, the Outer Outlet is a quiet, spectacular place offering classics like the Conn Diagonal and Nick of Time. Descend via a double-rope rappel on the southeast side, or a single-rope rappel with a 5.2 down climb. Vertigo is the detached spire just east of the formation, and can be approached through the narrow slot between Vertigo View and Youbet Jorasses. 1
Vertigo Outer Outlet 9
1. West Buttress (5.8 R/X). P1: From the cleft between Rhino Rock and Outer Outlet, climb into the first crack, then belay at its top. P2: Climb the second crack and belay. P3: Traverse left to a belay under the overhang, then climb the righthand weakness through the overhang to a face and the top. 2. Nocturnal Submissions. A funny name for a funny route. 3. Conn Diagonal (5.7). A stupendous line that follows the diagonal crack system on the northwest face. P1: Belay at the overhang. P2: Traverse right (5.6) to another belay, then finish the route in the left of the two chimneys. 74 | www.rockandice.com
4. Vertigo (5.11+ R). Follow chimneys on the downhill side until you can traverse to the base of the huge summit block; belay at double bolts on the southeast corner. Bust through the overhang (big cams) and clip a bolt (long runner). Traverse left to a set of pins, the move up past a second bolt en route to the crack. Follow the crack as high as possible—passing a poor piton—to put in a high piece, then back down and traverse left at the piton (crux). Climb double cracks to the top. Double 60-meter ropes get you down. 5. Spatial Disorientation (5.8+ PG-13). Climb the arete below and west of Vertigo to the first belay. Two harder bolt routes are out right. 6. Rain Dance (5.10 PG-13). P1: Climb to a bolt, traverse right to a second bolt, and belay below the overhanging crack. P2: Up the crack to the summit. 7. Jugs (5.9 PG-13). Fifteen feet left of #6, step right across to a pin then move up the face, slinging the horn and placing small nuts. 8. Nick of Time (5.10). Fifteen left of the above route find this stellar crack up the vertical and overhanging face. 9. Goldstone, Kamps and Laptad Route (5.9 PG-13). Climb large flakes leaning against the southeast face. Stem, then pull over into a flaring crack. Traverse left, then right, to pass the final overhang.
TEN PINS These are the mythical spires just off the Needles Highway, roughly 10 minutes from Sylvan Lake and about a mile past the Needle’s Eye and the Thimble. Drive past the Needle’s Eye parking lot (obvious), through the narrow tunnel, and follow the road as it winds past Reunion Rock and the Phallus on the left, then the teetering, roadside Totem Pole. Two hundred yards past the Totem Pole, park at the hairpin turn at the Ten Pins themselves, or in the Cathedral Spires parking lot a quarter mile down. One 60-meter rope will suffice for both leading and rappelling. Cordelettes are helpful for belaying.
Hairy Pin King Pin
Hairy Pin 1. Cleveland Route (5.10+ R/X). Follow the crack on the downhill side until you can step up and right to two bolts (sorry, they’re side by side). Climb up to the large yellow jug, collect your breath, and move up and right to the shoulder. Clip the last bolt and climb to the top. 2. Piana Route (5.12a). Climb the obvious bolt line on the side of the spire facing the road. Wired nuts and small TCUs are helpful. Safety Pin 3. Safety Pin (5.6 R). Sort of safe ... climb the east ridge to the small slot, then move up and right to the summit. Tent Peg (aka Rolling Pin) 4. Robbins Route (5.7 R). From the gap between Superpin and Tent Peg, climb the obvious crack until you can stand up on the flake at the crack’s terminus. Step right to the shoulder, then follow the rib to the top. Superpin 5. Cleveland Route (5.11- X). Ascends the steepest side of the spire. Just like Paul Cleveland, you’re on your own. 6. Barber Route (5.10 X). Start in the saddle between Superpin and Tent Peg. From the pinnacle stance and bolt, move up along the arete, which you follow for 30 feet until you can step right to clip the bolt. Continue to the top. www.rockandice.com | 75
SUPER GUIDE Tricouni Nail (aka Cerberus) 7. Robbins Route (5.8 PG-13). Climb past three pitons to a flake on the south corner. Move up and left to the bolt, traverse right to the second bolt, and continue to the top. To get off, carefully make a “Needles Rappel” by descending simultaneously off both sides of the spire. Queen Pin 8. The Scepter (5.9 PG-13). From the pullout, scramble up the gully/chimney dividing the King and Queen pins. Once in the bowels, go straight up to the belay ledge on the south face (piton); climb past bolts to the top. 9. Drag Queen (5.10b). A worthy route on the King Pin side of the Queen. 10. Dairy Queen (5.10a). Clamber up the leftmost line on the side facing Tricouni. 11. Off With Their Heads (5.11a). Follow the bolt line up the middle of the Tricouni side. 12. The Queen’s Gambit (5.11a). The rightmost line on the Tricouni side. King Pin 13. King Conn (5.7 PG-13). Follow the gully/chimney to the notch between King and Queen pins; step across into a chimney, then up and right to the spire top. 14. Laptad-Prince Route (5.9 PG-13). Follow the gully between Queen and King Pin, then up the chimney-and-flake system on the left until you
can step left onto King Pin. Face-climb to summit. 15. Quartz Jester (5.10+ R). Climb the crumbly, overhanging crack on the north face; move right to a huge crystal, then run it out to the top. 16. Organized Crime (5.10a). The bolted line right of King Conn. High Point 17. Conn Route (Class IV). One of the many ... climb the obvious line to the summit. Split Pin Follow the trail downhill from the pullout. Split Pin is the pencil-like spire next to the left wall of the gully. 18. Powell Route (5.7 PG-13). Stem between the spire and the wall. Pull onto the spire and traverse left to easier ground, then up. 19. No Holds Barred (5.10- PG-13). The southwest face of the spire. 20. Miles From Nowhere (5.10+ PG-13). Follow pitons up the center of the north face. End Pin The little puppy just south of the pullout. 21. Wiegand-Cleveland Route (5.10+ PG-13). Begin on the northwest corner and climb up and left to a crack. Follow bolts to the top. 22. Laptad Route (5.10+ PG-13). Begin at the center of the east face and climb the overhanging, left-facing crack up and left to the southeast corner. Sling the tree and continue to the top.
The definitive roadside attraction: Danika Gilbert inside the Needle's Eye. 76 | www.rockandice.com
WHEN The semi-arid Black Hills sit at 6,000 feet, making them a perfect summer venue, with plentiful sun or shade as needed. The season is best from late May through late October; spring can be wet, and winter this far north is generally a losing proposition. WHERE Custer State Park and Mount Rushmore are roughly 30 to 40 minutes from Rapid City, in the southwest corner of South Dakota. (Rapid City, the largest town in the area, has a regional airport with rental-car services.) The Needles are arrayed along Highway 87, the tortuous “Needles Highway,” through Custer State Park. The Rushmore sport climbing is located on either side of Highway 244, on the mile-long strip of road just north of the Monument itself. Ps AND Qs Custer State Park requires a $12-per-vehicle entrance fee, good for seven days, during high season. Do not climb on the Needle’s Eye parking-lot formations (Needle’s Eye, Hitching Post, Bloody Spire, the Thimble, etc.) from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. between Memorial Day and Labor Day. In fact, given the popularity of this stop with tourists, hit this zone early or late even in the off-season. It is also considered bad form to leave unsightly rappel slings atop spires. The Rushmore areas have mandatory sign-in/sign-out points at their trailheads. Use these, as this lets land managers track usage. Heads up on the Emancipation Rockphormation—essentially the backside of the Monument—as certain areas are very off limits, and signed as such. CAMPING Both Custer State Park and the National Forest (and KOA) campgrounds along Highway 244 provide good options from roughly mid-May through early October. For reservations in the park, go to www.campSD.com; for options near the park, visit www.custer-sd.com/camp.html. Free camping can be found on National Forest land; ask a local for the best beta. LODGING Custer, Hill City, Keystone and Rapid City offer hotels. GUIDEBOOKS There is no guidebook currently in print. Cindy Tolle (email@example.com) is working on an e-book format, Larry Shaffer will be selling a new book come spring 2004 at www.needlesguide.com, and the website www.climbingblackhills.com has some information. Alternately, beg, borrow or steal Paul Piana's Touch the Sky, or Mount Rushmore National MemoMount rial Climber's Guide, by Vernon R. Phinney. Rushmore 244 GUIDE SERVICES Exum Mountain Guides, 307733-2297 or www.exumguides.com; Sylvan Rocks 87 Sylvan Climbing School and Guide Service, 605-574-2425 or www.sylvanrocks.com; Tower Rock Climbing Lake Guides, 307-756-9470 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Crazy Horse 16A Memorial Vertical Endeavors Guided Adventures, 651-7761430 or www.verticalendeavors.com. CLIMBING SHOPS Granite Sports, in Hill City (605-574-2121). Camping 87 BOULDERING The Black Hills has seen a recent 89 spate of bouldering activity. The video/DVD Fric16 385 tion Addiction, available online at www.bentgate.net/fraddvd.html, comes with a fold-out topo. GRUB Custer, Keystone and Hill City offer full-serv16A ice grocery stores. For a healthy dinner, try Sage Creek Grill in Custer; in Hill City, the legendary Custer Alpine Inn has two options: either a large or a small sirloin steak wrapped in bacon and garnished with a single leaf of iceberg lettuce. GEAR If you’ve come to the Needles to crackSouth Dakota climb, you’ve come to the wrong place. Nevertheless, a standard rack with an emphasis on small to medium TCUs helps fill in the (very large) gaps between bolts. Also, carry plenty of runners—useful for slinging horns and crystals on runouts— Custer State Park and a cordelette.
Black Hills Essentials
Where is the line between National Park and theme park? Widen enough roads, build enough hotels and restaurants, bring in enough concessions and it's hard to tell whether Yosemite National Park is in the Sierra Nevada or the thick of Orange County. Currently the proposed plan for Yosemite Park includes all of the above developments, even an asphalt plant to be constructed inside the park to fuel the planned road expansion. National Parks exist for a reason: to preserve wild nature and spectacular natural environments for the enjoyment of the people, and the protection of the environment itself. The National Park Service development plans for Yosemite have forgotten this guiding direction. Instead they are looking to maximize use and profit. Neither will benefit the Park or the experience. Your action is needed to help stop this destruction of an incredible natural environment and a superb climbing location. Visit www.friendsofyosemitevalley.org to join the fight.
Protecting the natural environment takes action. If not you, who? If not now, when? Photo: Patagonia Collection ÂŠ 2003 Patagonia, Inc.
Warm Is Right Layering strategies for alpine routes and bivouacs BY
you’ll sleep like a baby no matter how badly your partner smells! 78 | www.rockandice.com
hat to wear? It’s the Gloves and mittens I am perennial question careful to bring plenty of when packing for an spare gloves and constantly ice route or alpine peak. When swap out wet pairs for dry. I plan my clothing and bivouac For example, on a long alpine systems, whether for a one-day route in Pakistan this sumor a multi-day route, I use three mer I carried three pairs of principles. First, bring as few gloves and a pair of mittens. different items as possible. SecI stay away from anything ond, manage moisture (I don’t that is fully waterproof— mean rain, I mean sweat). designs with waterproof Third, prepare for storms—rain bladders or taped seams or snow. tend to have poor dexterClimbers too often dress for ity and dry slowly. I apply the worst-case scenario, leava bit of soft-shell theory to ing you sweaty and uncommy gloves: I count on them fortable in all but those getting wet, and instead rely conditions. Here’s how I decide on materials that dry quickly what to bring: by body heat. The base layers I always start with the same clothing uniform: Sleeping over When bivying, the down vs. synthetic queslightweight soft-shell pants, synthetic briefs and a wicking syntion arises again. I choose down bags when: 1. I’m only out for thetic T-shirt. The only time my base layers vary is when I’m one night, where it’s not a big deal if the bag is damp by mornin a winter environment; then I start with fleece-insulated softing; and 2. If I’m out for multiple nights but I know I’ll have shell pants or long underwear under my soft-shell pants. opportunities to dry the bag in the sun (e.g. on the West ButMid layers Over the base layers I add a long-sleeve syntress of Denali). thetic shirt, fleece vest and fleece jacket. In colder weather I’ll I take a synthetic-fill bag when: 1. I am climbing for conseccombine some or all of these components. Some people choose utive days without a chance to dry the bag; 2. I’m sleeping in a a synthetic-fill insulation like Primaloft or Polarguard for snow cave or a single-wall tent, their mid-layers, which works fine, but I prefer fleece Mate & Save Weight which doesn’t pass moisture because it holds up longer to wear and abuse. well when temperatures are A great way to save several pounds of extra Shell jackets and pants If rain or meltwater is a real baggage is to share a sleeping bag. To avoid below freezing; 3. I will be dryconcern, choose a lightweight hard shell. Many people are the drafts common with simply laying the ing clothes in my bag at night. concerned with pit zips and other features. I steer away bag over you like a blanket, I use a homemade sleeping-bag extender, or as one partfrom these extras since I consider hard shells to be strictly ner wryly calls it, “the mating system.” To Steve House is internationally cerrain gear, and if it’s raining, I’m generally heading down. start, buy several yards of 1.1-ounce tified by the IFMGA and AMGA Also, pit zips add weight to a shell and give the garment uncoated ripstop nylon from a fabric store in rock, alpine and ski mounand a zipper that is compatible with your a stiffer feel. taineering. He guides for North If rain or meltwater isn’t a concern, I go with a soft shell. sleeping bag. A #8 coil zipper fits most stanCascades Mountain Guides in dard sleeping bags. Many soft shells have become so breathable and versatile, Mazama, Washington: 509-996Next, cut the fabric into a wedge shape, even in rain showers, that I never bring a hard shell any- three inches wide at the narrow bottom end 3194, www.ncmountainguides.com. more except when I know that I’ll be stuck for long peri- and as wide as your unzipped sleeping bag on the top (about 55 inches). The long sides of the ods in the rain (and I live in the North Cascades). Down vs. synthetic jackets The belay jacket is the final, fabric should be as long as the sleeping bag, approximately 70 inches on most bags. Now optional layer. When I’m climbing or ski touring I always sew one part of the zipper on each side of the wear synthetic insulation as opposed to down. Why? When nylon sheet, so it mates properly with the sides I put on my belay jacket after a lead, I’m almost always of the sleeping bag. I place a 3/4-length closed-cell-foam pad hot and a bit damp to start. The belay jacket not only keeps my core warm, but also draws moisture from my sweaty underneath me for insulation, and toss a pack under my feet. You and your buddy can crawl inner layers—down will lose its insulation abilities with just into this extended bag and reap the benefit of a bit of moisture, but not synthetic. each other’s body heat. If you’ve had a big day
GUIDE DIRECTORY GUIDE SERVICES Adventure Climbing and Trekking Company of South America PO Box 100 Salida, CO 81201 719-530-9053 f. 719-530-9053 www.adventureco.com email@example.com Ecuador • Peru • Bolivia • Argentina
Adventure Consultants PO Box 97 / 58 McDougall St. Lake Wanaka, 9192 New Zealand 64-3-443-8711 f. 64-3-443-8733 www.adventureconsultants.co.nz firstname.lastname@example.org Himalaya • Antarctica • Greenland South America • New Zealand Carstensz Pyramid
Alaska Mountaineering School PO Box 566 Third Street Talkeetna, AK 99676 907-733-1016 f. 907-733-1362 www.climbalaska.org email@example.com Denali (McKinley) • Foraker Moose's Tooth • Alaska Range Aconcagua • Kilimanjaro
Alpine Ascents International 121 Mercer St. Seattle,WA 98109 206-378-1927 f. 206-378-1937 www.AlpineAscents.com climb@AlpineAscents.com 7 Summits • Alaska • Cascades Ecuador • Mexico • Mongolia
Alpine World Ascents PO Box 1013 Boulder CO 80306-1013 800-868.5429 local: 303-485.1511 www.alpineworldascents.com firstname.lastname@example.org Boulder area • Colorado • Europe •Mexico • South America • Himalaya • Africa
American Alpine Institute 1515 12th St Bellingham,WA 98225 360-671-1505 f. 360-734-8890 www.aai.cc email@example.com Rainier • McKinley • North Cascades Sierras • Alps • Andes
Anatolian Adventures Kiziltoprak Bagdat Cad. No: 48/3 81030 Kadikoy Istanbul,Turkey 90-216-345-8855 and 90-542-324-6978 f. 90-216-347-7179 www.anatolianadventures.net firstname.lastname@example.org Mt. Ararat • Elbrus • Damavand Kackar Mountains • Taurus Mountains Mt. Erciyes
Aspiring Guides New Zealand PO Box 345 Wanaka, 9192 New Zealand 64-3-443-9422 f. 64-3-443-9540 www.aspiringguides.com email@example.com Mount Cook/Aoraki • Mount Aspiring Peru-Alpamayo • Mount Tasman Khan Tengri • Alpine Rock
Aventuras Patagonicas PO Box 11389 Jackson,WY 83002 307-734-5201 888-203-9354 www.patagonicas.com firstname.lastname@example.org Aconcagua • Bolivia • Alps • Chile Patagonia • Antarctica
Barra Adventure Guides 3256 15th Ave. South Minneapolis, MN 55407 612-578-4809 www.barraadventures.com email@example.com Argentina • Scotland • Mexico North America • Bolivia
Burnie Hut and Bear Mountaineering Christoph Dietzfelbinger, ACMG Mountain Guide Box 4222, Smithers BC V0J 2N0 Canada 250-847-2854 f. 250-847-2854 www.bearmountaineering.ca firstname.lastname@example.org NW British Columbia • Yukon
Chicks with Picks All women’s ice climbing clinics PO Box 486 Ridgeway, CO 81432 970-626-4424 www.chickswithpicks.net email@example.com Ouray, CO • North Conway, NH
Colorado Mountain Guides 373 Bonanza Dr. Nederland, CO 80466 303-258-0630 www.cmtnguides.com firstname.lastname@example.org Boulder, CO • Southern Arizona Joshua Tree, CA • Red Rocks, NV
Colorado Mountain School 341 Moraine Ave. PO Box 1846 Estes Park, CO 80517 970-586-5758 f. 970-586-5798 888-267-7783 www.cmschool.com email@example.com Rocky Mountain National Park Boulder area • Vail • Utah • Alaska South America
Daniel Alessio Expediciones CC33 (5505) Chacras de Coria Mendoza, Argentina www.alessio.com.ar firstname.lastname@example.org Aconcagua • Bolivia Mecedario Mountain
Earthworks 6725 Partridge Dr. Ventura, CA 93003 805-320-2739 www.earthworksclimbing.com email@example.com CA- central coast • Needles • Joshua Tree Eastern Sierra • Inyo National Forest Giant Sequoia National Monument
High Alpine Mountain Guides (Specialists in the Alps) Michael Silitch, UIAGM/AMGA Alpine, Rock and Ski Guide Chalet Fatima 1885 Chesieres, Switzerland 011 41 24 495 1948 www.high-alpine.com firstname.lastname@example.org Chamonix • Zermatt • Grindewald La Grave • Alagna • Verdon
Himalaya Incorporated Box 123 Lakebay,WA 98349 360-570-0715 www.SummitClimb.com SummitClimb@earthlink.net Mt. Everest • Ama-Dablam • Pumori Cho-Oyu • Mustagh-Ata Tibet (7000 M Snow Peaks)
Hood Mountain Adventures PO Box 1314 Sebastopol, CA 95472 707-824-0543 f. 707-824-0543 888-hma-4fun (462-4386) www.hoodmountainadventures.com email@example.com Africa-Kilimanjaro • Russia- Altai • Elbrus Pacific Northwest • Mexico South America-Aconcagua
Jackson Hole Mountain Guides Box 7477, 165 N. Glenwood St. Jackson,WY 83002 307-733-4979 f. 307-733-4900 800-239-7642 www.jhmg.com firstname.lastname@example.org Grand Tetons,WY • Wind River Range,WY Red Rocks, NV • Granite Peak, MT City of Rocks, ID • Devil's Tower,WY
Mark Synnott Guiding PO Box 705 Jackson, NH 03846 603-383-6976 www.marksynnott.com email@example.com White Mountains, NH Portero Chico, Mexico worldwide destinations
MICA Guides PO Box 1134 Chickaloon, AK 99674 907-232-1497 800-956-6422 www.micaguides.com firstname.lastname@example.org Matanuska Glacier, AK Ice Climbing, River Trips, Glacier Hiking, May-October
Mooney Mountain Guides Art Mooney UIAGM/ AMGA Certified 638 Old Bristol Rd. New Hampton, NH 03256 603-744-5853 www.mooneymountainguides.com New Hampshire • Alaska • Canada Europe • South America • Mexico
Fernando Grajales Expeditions
Mountain Skills Climbing Guides
Argentina 54-261-155007718 f. 54-261-4283157 www.grajales.net email@example.com Aconcagua • Mt. Mercedario Mt. Pissis • Mt. Ojos del Salado
PO Box 206 Arroyo Seco, NM 87514 505-776-2222 www.climbingschoolusa.com firstname.lastname@example.org Taos, NM • Red Rocks, Las Vegas Shawangunks, NY • Mexico • Thailand
San Juan Mountain Guides
PO Box 111809 Anchorage, AK 99511 907-345-6499 f. 907-348-0396
PO Box 776 Ouray, CO 81427 970-325-4925 f. 970-325-4925 www.ourayclimbing.com email@example.com Ouray Ice Park San Juan Mountains of CO Moab and Castle Valley Colorado National Monument Black Canyon of Gunnison NP South America
www.mountaintrip.com firstname.lastname@example.org Alaska Range • Denali
On Top Ltd. 340 Canyon Close Canmore, Alberta T1W 1H4 Canada 403-678-2717 f. 403-678-2717 800-506-7177 www.ontopmountaineering.com email@example.com Alps • Dolomites • Canada • Colorado
Oregon Peak Adventures PO Box 25576 Portland, OR 97298 877-965-5100 www.oregonpeakadventures.com firstname.lastname@example.org Oregon • Washington • Kenya • Tanzania Nepal • Ecuador
Outpost Wilderness Adventure 20859 CR77 Lake George, CO 80827 719-748-3080 830-238-4383 www.owa.com email@example.com Colorado • Texas Copper Canyon (Mexico) • Bolivia Alps • Wyoming
Patagonia Mountain Agency PO Box 210516 Auke Bay, AK 99821 907-789-1960 f. 907-789-1960 www.MountainAgency.com firstname.lastname@example.org Aconcagua • Everest • Dhaulagiri Cho Oyu • Gasherbrum • Shishapangma
PMG - Professional Mountain Guides Jim Williams PO Box 4166 Jackson,WY 83001 307-733-8812 f. 503-213-9861 www.exploradus.com email@example.com Grand Teton National Park (with Exum Mountain Guides) • Denali (with Alaska Denali Guiding & Alpine Ascents Int’l) Red Rocks (with Sky’s the Limit) • Nepal China/Tibet • South America
Rhinoceros Mountain Guides Jim Shimberg 55 Mt.View Rd. Campton, NH 03223 Phone: 603-726-3030 or Rock Barn 603-520-5696 www.rhinocerosmountainguides.com firstname.lastname@example.org Northeast • Southwest Desert • Canada Mexico • Throughout North America and the World
Rock Climbing Guides International PO Box 1971 Joshua Tree, CA 92252 760-366-7335 f. 253-423-0431 800-94-CLIMB www.rockclimbingguides.com email@example.com Joshua Tree • Tahquitz • New Hampshire
Let the Guide Directory GROW your business. contact: LISEN GUSTAFSON • 877-762-5423 (x10) • firstname.lastname@example.org
Selkirk Mountain Experience Ruedi Beglinger Box 2998 Revelstoke, BC V0E 2S0 Canada 250-837-2381 www.selkirkexperience.com email@example.com Selkirks • Yukon • Alaska • Europe
Sierra Mountain Center PO Box 95 Bishop, CA 93515 760-873-8526 f. 760-873-8526 www.sierramountaincenter.com firstname.lastname@example.org Sierras • Patagonia • Alaska • Dolomites Mt. Robson
Slipstream Rock & Ice Guides Box 219 / 5010 Paradise Valley Rd. Squamish, BC V0N 1H0 Canada 604-898-4891 f. 604-898-4429 800-616-1325 www.getclimbing.com email@example.com Squamish • Victoria • Whistler • Skaha Western Canada
Tom Cecil Seneca Rocks Mountain Guides PO Box 223 Seneca Rocks,WV 26884 304-567-2115 f. 304-866-4004 800-451-5108 www.senecarocks.com firstname.lastname@example.org Seneca Rocks • Western USA Nelson Rocks • Spain • Thailand
Vertical Adventures PO Box 7548 Newport Beach, CA 92658 949-854-6250 f. 949-854-5249 800-514-8785 www.verticaladventures.com BGvertical@aol.com Joshua Tree • Idyllwild • Tahquitz Suicide Rocks
MOUNTAIN TRANSPORTATION K2 Aviation PO Box 545 Talkeetna, AK 99676 907-733-2291 f. 907-733-1221 800-764-2291 www.flyk2.com email@example.com expedition support for McKinley & Alaska Range
Talkeetna Air Taxi PO Box 73 Talkeetna, AK 99676 907-733-2218 f. 907-733-1434 800-533-2219 www.talkeetnaair.com firstname.lastname@example.org expedition support for McKinley & Alaska Range
www.rockandice.com | 79
B E T T E R B E TA Faking it
Shoot from the hip Placing gear at your waist is the safest and most efficient way to load up continuous cracks, such as those of Yosemite and Indian Creek. While setting gear overhead gives you the security of a toprope, I can’t remember how many times I’ve seen climbers struggling to place overhead pro—dropping gear, punching bad placements and fumbling the clip. Like Alan Ladd in Shane, it’s much simpler to “shoot from the hip.” Focus your attention on the portion of the crack at your waist or slightly above, where it’s easier to see inside, select the proper-size piece, and determine the quality of your placement. Clipping in is fast and easy: no need to pull up slack and risk falling with a loop of rope out. Also, you won’t plug up crucial overhead jams. Just remember the three L’s—Lock off, Look in and Load up—and you’ll be on your way to better jamming. — Pat Adams 80 | www.rockandice.com
Stiffies are so cheap, light-weight and easy to make that you can carry several on your rack without any bother. — Mark Aster
The dreaded belay-neck
Being false ain't cheating. Use the "false grip" like an undercling to extend your reach.
Stiffen up Ever curse the fact that you’re a midget, always coming up just shy of that next bolt or fixed bit of schwag? Lament no more! My trick “Stiffie,” like elevator heels, will enhance your genetically abbreviated reach, allowing you to go boldly where hitherto you cowered. To make a Stiffie, essentially a semi-flexible micro cheater stick, take one of those new, skinny (less than half-inch wide) quickdraws and slide a piece of clear-plastic vinyl tubing, available at any hardware store for $.50, over it. Take your quickdraw with you to the store to make sure the draw is a snug fit inside the tubing. You should just barely be able to cram the draw through the tube. For maximum rigidity, cut the tubing length such that it jams against the carabiners at both ends of the quickdraw. Thus reinforced, your quickdraw becomes a six-inch cheater stick, one that’s stiff enough to extend your reach, yet flexible enough to leave clipped to pro.
Chronic neck pain all too often results from prolonged belay duty. The position, craning up to see your climber, stresses the middle cervical spine (middle vertebrae) and associated ligaments. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that most people have somewhat rounded shoulders and protruded heads (true, sorry!) to begin with. Heather Ardley, a climber and physical therapist in Carbondale, Colorado, advises that you start out belaying with your chin tucked in a little and your shoulders back. Keeping your chin tucked, look up with your eyes, tilting your head to one side rather than back. Avoid holding a given position for longer than five or 10 minutes—turn slightly to one side then the other when possible. When your dogging climber clips directly into a bolt, press your guide hand against the back of your head to gently stretch your head and neck forward, then on each side to push toward the opposite shoulder. Another belay-break tactic, and one to employ in daily life as well, is rotating your head forward and to either side, but never backward. — Alison Osius
Rock and Ice encourages reader tips for Better Beta. If you have an idea for tying a safer knot or a faster method for rigging anchors, modifying gear and so on, please submit it to: email@example.com. Should Rock and Ice use your tip in the next issue, you will receive a BlueWater Ultrafast Rope Bag. This do-it-all rope carrier unfolds to a 58" by 38" tarp, and features a heavyduty zipper, compression straps and padded shoulder strap. Retail value $48. Send in those tips!
Barring experimental surgery or extreme, body-altering yoga, it’s well nigh impossible to permanently extend your wingspan. With the “false grip,” however, you can temporarily enhance your reach, especially on overhanging terrain. This little-known grip involves a twist of the wrist and a rotation of the torso. The false grip is akin to an undercling, only spun inward 180 degrees. Practice on extruded, knob-type holds at the gym before “falsifying” outside: Place one hand palm-down in front of you, rotate it toward you, then turn your palm upward and point your fingers toward your chest. False-gripping a positive hold with one hand, place your feet high and suck your hips into the wall. Note how far you can reach (especially across your body), then crank the same move using a standard grip—less effective, eh? While the false grip isn’t applicable to all holds, it is especially useful on knobs, spikes, lips, offset corners/edges, jugs and any other hold around which you can wrap some flesh. — Matt Samet
www.julbo.fr firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 802-651-0833
DDB Nouveau Monde snell & associĂŠs - 344 446 810 RCS ANNECY - photo : Ride The Planets / P. Thomas.
James Hipperson, on the Julbo / Ride The Planets team, going for a camel take-off in the Morocco Gravity Trip.
PROTECTS YOU FROM EVERYTHING BUT THE CALL TO RIDE... Absolute Multilaye X5, Cat. 3 lenses. Optimum protection in extremely bright light.
Free Yourself Get hooked on new-wave climbing—techniques and training tips for the first-time leashless climber BY PETE TAKEDA
hen a handful of ice climbers began climbing leashless just a scant few years ago, I was skeptical. “Sounds like yet another way to make something that’s hard even harder,” I thought, and dismissed the technique as a stunt destined for obscurity. The last two winters have proven me, as usual, dead wrong. Leashless ice climbing brings a new sense of movement— 82 | www.rockandice.com
flowing freely without the robotic connect-the-dots monotony of old-school ice and mixed climbing. It’s about letting go of the wrist-cinching apron strings, and getting better, stronger and faster. In recent years, climbers have discovered that many steep mixed routes are easier leashless. Leashless climbing also benefits the traditional mixed and ice climber. By hand-matching and alternating placements, you can
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PERFORMANCE lead pure-ice pitches, as well as those with a smattering of rock-climbing moves, more quickly and with less effort. But freedom comes at a price—you can drop a tool and will certainly build a bigger pump while learning the ropes. As with the hand jam, however, leashless climbing is about technique, and once mastered becomes second nature. Here is a range of technique primers, as well as training exercises, to unleash your power.
N E W Y O R K ’ S O N LY A U T H E N T I C OUTDOOR STORE
IN THE HEART OF DOWNTOWN NY
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www.tenttrails.com 84 | www.rockandice.com
HEEL SPURS For years, ice climbers who wanted to heel-hook bolted sharp screws to their heel bindings. Today, several manufacturers make crampons with fixed or removable heel spurs. Pick up a set and free your feet as well as your hands. GLOVES Fit is king for mixed: Choose thinner, snugger gloves than those you traditionally use for ice climbing. Since most mixed routes are short and you tend not to climb them in extreme cold, you seldom have to worry about cold hands. In fact, when a mixed route is often in top shape—temps right around freezing—you can often climb barehanded. For pure ice where raw cold is an objective hazard, beef up your handwear accordingly, usually sticking to gloves over mittens and in all cases selecting a model with tacky, grip-enhancing palms. BOOTS The lighter your feet, the more you’ll enjoy the ride. See page 38 for a review of lightweight ice boots. SOFT-SHELL OUTERWEAR Breathable and more flexible than their hardshell siblings, soft shells rule for mixed climbing, where dripping meltwater is seldom a worry. Plus, the soft fabric resists tearing when you drape a tool over your shoulder—and holds it in place better than a slick hard shell. For ice routes where meltwater is a problem, hardshells remain king; be sure to select yours with sleek, tight-sealing wrist cuffs and a trim fit in the torso that will let you see your feet. GRIP TAPE Most tools designed for leashless climbing have sticky grips, but leave the upper shaft slick. Since you’ll often walk your hands up the shaft, cover all of the slick bits with sticky grip tape. The best kind is a gritty “deck tape” available at skateboard shops. VELCRO Some climbers use a Velcro patch to secure a shouldered tool, a nifty
trick that works amazingly well, even when you are upside down. Stitch a large patch of loop-side Velcro onto each shoulder of your soft-shell jacket, then glue a hook-side swatch to the inside edge of your tool shafts.
Mixed pointers MATCHING AND TRAVERSING The luxury of using either hand on either tool is leashless climbing’s biggest advantage. On mixed terrain, matching allows you to shake out, make longer reaches and eliminate energy-sapping redundant placements. When you are traversing, for example, you can effectively halve the number of placements with this motion: Place one tool, step your feet over, clean the trailing tool and drape it on your shoulder; match on the placed tool by grabbing its upper handle; then place the shouldered tool back in the rock (or ice). CLIPPING With your hands freed of twisting leashes and dangling tools you can place and clip gear just as you would on a rock climb. Simply place one secure tool and hold onto it just as you would a jug on a rock climb. Then, drape the unused tool over a shoulder, clip it to your harness or set it in the ice or crack. Now place the gear. Shoulder draping works best in most on-lead situations. Clipping a tool to the harness is time consuming but more secure when you’re at a belay or launching into a long section of free climbing with the hands. STEIN PULLING This technique opposes an ice tool’s pick against its head in cracks, pockets and underclings (see opening illustration). Leashless climbing multiplies the Stein Pull’s utility, allowing you to match hands or drape a heel, toe or leg over the tool. Having this “third arm” enables you to make long reaches, clear overhangs, rest and counterbalance barn-door moves. INVERTING If you come up short on a long reach, try inverting and hooking a heel spur on a hooked or Stein-Pulled tool. It’s like heel hooking on a big jug while rock climbing. FALLING Try to keep your tools in hand and off to the side when you fall to prevent them from striking the belayer or getting damaged. Alternately, leave them stuck in the ice or rock when you lob, then borrow another set of tools to re-climb to them.
Ice pointers Leashless climbing on ice incorporates the same basic techniques of ice climbing, but adds speed and mobility. Without the dictates of the leash, its easier to stand in balance—more like free climbing and less like aid. With no constricting leashes, the blood also flows freely to your fingers, reducing the strangling leash pump and nerveless hand freeze. MATCHING Increase your ice efficiency by matching both hands on one tool, pulling up, locking off with one arm, and reaching. With leashless tools, you always have the option of placing the next tool with either hand, upping your odds of finding a secure placement. CARRY A THIRD TOOL Keep a regular leashed tool clipped to you as a backup on your first leashless ice leads, just in case you drop one of your tools. HEEL HOOKS Heel spurs are a boon on narrow columns and curtains, where they prevent barn-dooring and provide a good counterbalance for placing gear. Picture climbing a narrow pillar wide enough to permit only one foot at a time. You can heel-hook while you bump the
other front point higher to make progress. Also, with the heel firmly stabbed into the curtain, you can place gear from a stable position without having to hold yourself in balance. MANTELING Leashless tools let you mantel—great on less-than-vertical ice and handy for clearing bulges. Grasp the tool and press down while you walk up your feet. Some leashless tools include a pommel atop the upper handle to facilitate this very move.
Leashless exercises Whether you’re looking to up your mixed grade or just learn the ropes, a little pre-season training goes a long way. Raphael Slawinski, overall winner at the Ouray Ice Festival in 2000, 2002 and 2003, offers his favorite exercises for leashless climbing: BIG REACHES Use an indoor wall to practice making long reaches with your tools. (Tape the picks to keep them from scratching the holds.) Aim for five sets of three long reaches, with only a 15- to 30-second rest between sets. Watch that a tool doesn’t pop and knock out your teeth—or an eye. A helmet and safety
glasses can help. WEIGHTED-TOOL SWINGS Tape or clip small weights (2 to 5 pounds) to the head of your ice tool and swing it over your head, mimicking a swing. Increase the forearm burn by using just your hand and wrist, keeping your arms steady. Use enough weight that you reach failure after three sets of 12 per hand. FIGURE 4s Though Slawinski didn’t do a single Figure-4 last season, he practices this move on leashless tools hooked over a pull-up bar to build his upper-body and torso power. The exercise: From a right-hand, one-tool hanging position, kick your feet up and hook your left leg over your right arm, raising your torso and left hand to reach high. Slowly reverse the move and lower your feet without touching the ground, then do a Figure-4 on the opposite arm. Do five sets of 12 reps (i.e. six reps per arm). Senior Contributing Editor Pete Takeda won the mixed segment of the 1998 Ouray Ice Festival, and has climbed in the high peaks of the Canadian Rockies, Alaska and the Karakoram. He lives in Boulder.
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EEEEEE. ON THE SLOPING NOTHINGS OF FONTAINEBLEAU’S APPAREMMENT (V11), WHERE THE MOVES REMIND KEHL “OF A BAT CLINGING TO THE WALL.” KEHL, CONTINUED FROM PAGE 58
items. Then came his historic ascent of Evilution, on the Grandpa Peabody boulder in the Buttermilks, just outside Bishop, California. The 45-foot-high problem begins with 25 feet of overhanging V10 crimping, to a seven-move crux on gritty slopers, to a lip and tricky slab finish. No boulder problem, before or since, tackled such difficult climbing so high off the deck. Kehl, screaming on virtually every move, “put himself on the line by even trying it,” says Call. “This was his shot to show there was substance to him and not just image.” A lack of promising holds, worrisome rock quality and a crux at a height where sport climbs typically have their fourth bolt kept anyone from seriously trying the finish. For Kehl, though, “Highballing goes well with my mentality.” Kehl had heard that Chris Sharma once 86 | www.rockandice.com
joked of trying the problem but only if he could pile empty cardboard boxes at the base to break his fall. Kehl didn’t have any boxes, but he did have Cindy—a nude 3foot-tall doll he’d bought for 2 dollars at a Bishop thrift store. “She’s really nice,” says Kehl. “She’s a good one to strap into the passenger seat. The truckers all honk when I pass.” After drop-testing Cindy from the top of the boulder (she missed the pads), and “at least a dozen, if not more” days of 30-foot, vertebrae-compacting falls and bitterly cold conditions, Kehl fired into Evilution’s crux. With a triple-strength scream, he latched the final flake and scampered to the summit. “It’s like a fine steak,” Kehl says of Evilution. “It’s not some beat-up line, a chewed-up piece of meat. It’s prime-cut, virgin stone that had never had boot rub-
N O T I C E:
ber on it. For me, it was the ultimate first ascent ... definitely my greatest achievement in climbing.” After Kehl’s eye-opening climb, other boulderers quickly lined up to nab the second ascent. The French rockstar Daniel Dulac pitched off the lip and shattered his ankle. Fellow countryman Toni Lamiche had better luck and quickly sent the problem. This past spring Canada’s Jordan Wright also repeated the problem. Kehl, however, is quick to point out that Evilution—the Evilution that he climbed —remains unrepeated. “What they’ve climbed isn’t Evilution,” Kehl says without a hint of animosity. “It’s the right-hand variation. Going right, you get a full rest before a shorter crux section. It’s more like a route going that way. Evilution is more bouldery and follows a much more direct line.” Kehl says he has no interest in repeating the new variation. (He had originally tried going that way, but felt a key hold was too crumbly.) In fact, he doesn’t see himself returning to the Buttermilks any time soon. For the next two years he plans on living in Maryland (“I love the West, but if I lived out there I’d hate it,” Kehl says), visiting new areas, and doing first ascent “stuff.” Kehl, wary of sharing his climbing projects, only vaguely mentions “this tall thing up in New England” or “checking out some lines in Illinois.” Although he’s equally elusive about his personal plans, look for a different Jason Kehl to surface soon. “He’s definitely in a transitional state,” says Montgomery. “Climbing is still the focus of his life, but he seems really focused on taking and expressing his art in new directions. It seems less about blood and blackness, and more about metal and industrial materials.” And the dolls? “Oh, he’ll always have his dolls. That’ll never change.”
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AS KEHL FISHES A QUARTER from his
pocket and pays the shopkeeper at the Davidson Doll Hospital for the injured doll with pseudo-lobotomy scars, I make my way to the front door, anxious for air. Kehl meets me outside in the sweltering heat, grips his new purchase, and muses that it “has some real potential. It’s just different enough to have some really interesting potential.” Ditto that for Kehl. JONATHAN THESENGA CALLS HOOD RIVER, OREGON, HOME, AND SPLITS HIS TIME BETWEEN STUFFING POCKETS AT SMITH ROCK AND SURFING IN THE BEAVER STATE’S SUB-50-DEGREE, SHARK-INFESTED WATERS. www.rockandice.com | 87
BOSKOFF, CONTINUED FROM PAGE 63
this climb would be a demanding test of short-roping and short-pitching. Boskoff thinks a lot about guiding these days. She’s been taking mountain-guiding exams from the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) to earn her international certification, and encourages her guides to go through the same process. It’s a skill she’s willing to pay for, and her certified employees command considerably higher day rates. This is but one change in the recent evolution of Mountain Madness. At the time of Keith’s death, Christine had a backseat role in the business, and seriously considered selling the company. The financial reality of Mountain Madness, still mired in debt from the Scott Fischer days, was stark. Furthermore, Boskoff felt she lacked the background to keep the company alive. Her friends encouraged her to hold on, not to give in. Taking an analytical approach—one consistent with her engineering background—Boskoff, then 31, persevered with the business. She streamlined Mountain Madness’ staff, standardized contracts, upgraded guiding requirements, and fired a handful of old-guard guides with whom she clashed. Along the way she doubled the company’s sales revenue, pulling the company out of debt and earning profits the last two years. Today she employs some 35 staff (many are part time) and organizes trips to all seven continents, making Mountain Madness one of the country’s largest guiding operations. “Running this business,” she says, “has been harder than any mountain I’ve climbed.” A high percentage of returning clients and a steady stream of new customers mean business is good for Boskoff. Good
enough that she can be out of the Seattle office four to six months a year guiding company trips (she’s leading an expedition to either Aconcagua or Antarctica’s Mount Vinson this winter, as well one to Everest this spring), marketing with her slideshows, climbing privately, and growing the satellite office in Colorado—where Charlie Fowler happens to live. Life is good, too. It’s a point we both agree upon when we top Dragontail and stare over the white granite horns and the blue-water tarns of the Enchantment Lake Basin. We take, what is for Boskoff, an interminable break and sit long enough to slam down a few energy bars and several gulps of water. The food is down, a few pictures are snapped, and her short, restless legs are moving again. We make a rapid descent to the cars that spans nine miles of distance and drops 6,000 vertical feet; we beat nightfall by 30 minutes. Before Boskoff returns to Seattle, we stop at a popular climbers’ restaurant in Leavenworth for dinner. I suspect that here, in the home state of her business, she’ll be recognized. But no one notices her. I ask whether this is unusual. “No,” she says. “I’m actually better recognized in the climbing villages around Nepal and Pakistan.” Boskoff’s anonymity could easily be different. As one of the world’s top mountaineers and perhaps the only woman running a large guiding business, she could be a household name in the outdoor industry. Refreshingly, attaining celebrity status doesn’t excite Chris Boskoff. Like most things about her, climbing is much more personal than that. CONTRIBUTING EDITOR ANDY DAPPEN LIVES IN THE NORTH CASCADES TOWN OF WENATCHEE, WASHINGTON.
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CALIFORNIA Anaheim Hills. ROCK CITY CLIMBING CENTER. 714-777-4884; www.rockcityclimbing.com Berkeley. BERKELEY IRONWORKS. 14K sq. ft. climbing. Full fitness center and programs. Retail shop. A Touchstone gym. 800 Potter St. (off Ashby exit Hwy. 80), Berkeley, CA 94710; 510.981.9900; www.berkeleyironworks.com Concord. TOUCHSTONE (Concord). 10K sq. ft. climbing. Full fitness center and programs. Retail shop. 1220 Diamond Way #140 (off Willow Pass Rd. exit Hwy. 680), Concord, CA 94520; 925.602.1000; www.touchstoneclimbing.com Davis. ROCKNASIUM. Great Routes. Good People. 720 Olive Dr., Suite Z, Davis, CA 95616; 530-757-2902; www.rocknasium.com Los Angeles. BEACH CITY ROCKS. In the South Bay, 40 foot leads, top ropes, and bouldering. 100+ routes. Just minutes south of LAX. 4926 West Rosecrans Ave. 310-973-3388
Monterey Peninsula. SANCTUARY ROCK GYM. 1855A East Ave., Sand City, CA 93955; 831-899-2595; www.rockgym.com Orange County. SOLIDROCK GYM. (Lake Forest) 10,000 sq. ft. climbable terrain. Top roping, bouldering, lead climbing. 26784 Vista Terrace; 949-588-6200; www.solidrockgym.com Pasadena. JUNGLE GYM ROCK CLIMBING, Pasadena, CA 626-446-5014 www.junglegymclimbing.com 4500 sq.ft. of Southern California’s best and newest bouldering. Portable Climbing wall for rent. Sacramento. GRANITE ARCH CLIMBING CENTER. Now the biggest! 23,500 square feet of hand sculpted climbing surface. Enormous, new, outside boulder park. Fully stocked retailer. 11335-G Folsom Blvd., Rancho Cordova, CA 95742; 916-852-ROCK; www.granitearch.com
San Diego. VERTICAL HOLD SPORT CLIMBING CENTER, INC. The largest in Southern California. Over 20,000 square feet of superbly textured climbing surface. Colossal 40 foot lead cave, 200+ toprope/lead routes and 2 awesome bouldering areas. 9580 Distribution Ave., San Diego, CA 92121; 858-586-7572; www.verticalhold.com San Francisco. MISSION CLIFFS. 14K sq. ft. climbing. Retail shop. Touchstone’s first gym. 2295 Harrison St. @ 19th St., San Francisco, CA 94110; 415-550-0515; www.mission-cliffs.com San Jose. TOUCHSTONE (San Jose). 3K sq. ft. climbing. Bouldering and Yoga. Retail shop. 210 S. 1st Street #70 (Downtown), San Jose, CA 95113; 408.920.6000; www.touchstoneclimbing.com Mateo. PLANET GRANITE. 20,000 square feet, 50 foot high, cracks! Extensive weights & fitness, yoga, pro-shop. 100 El Camino Real, Belmont, CA 94002; 650-591-3030; www.planetgranite.com
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ROCK GYMS Santa Clara. PLANET GRANITE. 14,000 square feet of sculpted climbing, weights & fitness, pro-shop. 2901 Mead Ave., Santa Clara, CA 95051; 408-727-2777; www.planetgranite.com. Santa Cruz. PACIFIC EDGE. Indoor climbing at its finest! 50 feet tall, Huge Lead Cave, Extensive Bouldering, Pro-Shop. 104 Bronson St., Santa Cruz, CA 95062; 831-454-9254; w w w. p a c i f i c e d g e c l i m b i n g g y m . c o m Upland. HANGAR 18 INDOOR CLIMBING GYM. 2 5 6 Stowell St., Ste. A, Upland, CA 91786; 909-931-599; www.climbhangar18.com
Glenwood Springs. C O L O R A D O M O U N TA I N COLLEGE, Spring Valley Center Climbing Gym. Boudering area and top rope wall. 970-947-8237 Summit County/Silverthorne. RED MOUNTAIN ROCK GYM. 970-468-1248
CONNECTICUT Mystic. OLLIE'S ROCK GYM. 860-572-ROCK www.olliesrockgym.com. A place where life is good and getting Gooder! Manchester. STONE AGE ROCK GYM. 860-645-0015; www.stoneagerockgym.com
Victorville. THE BULLET HOLE TRAINING CENTER. The high desert's only indoor climbing gym! 15315 Cholame Road Unit D Victorville, CA 92392; 760-2 4 5 - 3 3 0 7
Wallingford. PRIME CLIMB. Connecticut's FIRST and BEST climbing gym. (203) 265-7880; www.primeclimb.com
Miami. X-TREME ROCK CLIMBING. Florida’s premier climbing facility. 12,000+ square feet of stateof-the-art fully textured arches, aretes, slabs & overhangs. 13972 SW 139 Court, 33186; 305-233-6623. www.x-tremerock.com
FLORIDA Boulder. Boulder Rock Club - Colorado's Premier Climbing Gym. www.boulderrock.com 800.836.4008 Boulder. THE SPOT. BOULDER'S NEWEST CLIMBING GYM. 10,000+ sq/ft building, freestanding boulders with topouts as tall as 16-feet, 25-foot tall roped wall, amazing Hueco, Fontainebleau, and Yosemite textures and forms, highest tech flooring available, and air filtration/conditioning. Guide service, cafe, full programming, yoga room, weights...and on. 3240 Prairie Ave, Boulder, CO 80301; 303-379-8806. www.thespotgym.com Colorado Springs. SPORT CLIMBING CENTER. Colorado’s ultimate indoor climbing destination. Spacious. Over 13,000 square feet. Guiding available. 4650 Northpark Dr., 80918; 719-260-1050; www.SportClimbCS.com Fort Collins. INNER STRENGTH ROCK GYM. Indoor (5800 square feet) & outdoor instruction. 3713 South Mason, Fort Collins, CO; 970-282-8118; www.innerstrengthrock.com Fort Collins. THE GYM OF THE ROCKIES. Over 5500 sq. ft. of awesome terrain. Located in a multi-sports fitness center. 1800 Heath Pkwy. www.thegymoftherockies.com; 970-221-5000
Orlando. AIGUILLE ROCK CLIMBING CENTER. Orlando's indoor climbing gym. 9,500 square feet of climbing and bouldering, proshop and yoga. 999 Charles St., Longwood, FL 32750; 407-332-1430; www.ClimbOrlando.com
GEORGIA Atlanta. WALL CRAWLER ROCK CLUB. Atlanta's neighborhood climbing gym. Where the climbers hang out! www.wallcrawlerrock.com. 404-371-8997 Atlanta. ATLANTA ROCKS! INTOWN/PERIMETER GYMS. The largest gyms in the Southeast, offer challenging climbing on 12,000/6,000 square feet of seamless, textured climbing surface, featuring multitiered, wildly overhanging ledges on terrain so realistic, it seems like real rock. Lead routes up to 85 linear feet 50/40 topropes, bouldering features, aerobic and weight training equipment, computerized rotating climbing wall, locker rooms and showers. Group rates, daily instruction, equipment sales and rentals. INTOWN! location 1019A Collier Road, Atlanta; 404-351-3009; PERIMETER! location 4411A Bankers Circle, Doraville; 770-242-7625; www.atlantarocks.com
ILLINOIS Bloomington. UPPER LIMITS. Over 20,000 sq. ft., routes up to 110' , wave wall, bi-level cave, 65' silos and 1,700 sq. ft. outdoor bouldering area. Climate controlled! Just off I-55 and I-74; 309-829-TALL (8255); www.upperlimits.com Chicago. LINCOLN PARK ATHLETIC CLUB. The ultimate urban crag! Outdoor climbing on a Spectacular 70' EP masterpiece: sustained overhangs, roof, cracks, aretes, dihedrals and more. Plus, synthetic ice climbing 65' routes. Indoor climbing on a programmable rotating wall. Expert instruction beginner to lead. Located at The El Line. 1019 W. Diversey at Sheffeld; 773-529-2022; www.eaconline.com/climb.html Chicago. VERTICAL ENDEAVORS. 18,000ft 2 of climbing on 40 ft. walls. 19 auto belays. Programs and outdoor guiding for all ages. 630-836-0122 www.verticalendeavors.com Crystal Lake. NORTH WALL. Top roping, leading, 250+ continuous feet of bouldering, 50 foot arch, multi-level bouldering cave and pro-shop. 824 S. Main; 815-356-6855; www.climbnorthwall.com
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Evanston. EVANSTON ATHLETIC CLUB. Two Entre Prises walls up to 46' high with all the goods: slab, crack, roof, sustained overhang and the Kaisers Lair bouldering cave. Expert instruction beginner to lead. Located on the El line. 847-866-6190; www.eaconline.com/climb.html Homewood. CLIMB ON. 18120 Harwood Av e , H o m e w o o d , I L 6 0 4 3 0 ; 7 0 8 - 7 9 8 - 9 9 9 4 ; www.Climbon.net Rockford. G.A.R. INDOOR CLIMBING CENTER. 9,000 square feet of custom sculpted climbing terrain, bouldering, leading, instruction, rental. High ropes challenge course. New Bouldering Wall! 6630 Spring Brook Road, 61114; 815-654-6447.
INDIANA Bloomington. HOOSIER HEIGHTS. 8,500 square feet of climbable terrain. Outdoor Trips. New Bloomington site January 2004 with 10,000+ square feet. www.hoosierheights.com; 812-824-6414. Evansville. VERTICAL EXCAPE. 812-479-6887; www.verticalexcape.com Indianapolis. CLIMBTIMEINDY. 8750 Corporation Dr. Indianapolis, IN 46250 317-596-3330; www.climbtimeindy.com
MARYLAND Columbia & Timonium. EARTH TREKS CLIMBING CENTERS. Largest Climbing Gyms on the East Coast with the best bouldering in the area. Two facilities within 25 minutes of Baltimore and Washington, DC; 800-CLIMB-UP, www.earthtreksclimbing.com Rockville. SPORTROCK 1. 703-212-7625; w w w. s p o r t r o c k . c o m
MASSACHUSSETTS NEW ENGLAND’S FIRST ROCK GYM established 1989 • CGA Accredited
BEGINNER TO EXPERT — ALL AGES Leading and Bouldering FULLY STOCKED RETAIL SHOP Group and Individual Instruction Slabs, arêtes, cracks, roofs, overhangs and the bouldering bat cave. The Boston Rock Gym 78G Olympia Avenue Woburn, MA 01801 FOR THE BEST INDOOR CLIMBING FUN IN NEW ENGLAND CALL 781-935-PEAK (7325) www.bostonrockgym.com
MICHIGAN Ann Arbor/Pontiac. PLANET ROCK CLIMBING GYM & TRAINING CENTER. Nationally recognized Junior Climbing Team, Adventure Race certification & setup, Commercial Rigging and Consulting, Corporate Team Building, and portable climbing walls. Ann Arbor 734-827-2680; Pontiac 248-3343904 www.planet-rock.com Byron Center. INSIDE MOVES. 7000 feet of TR lead and bouldering walls up to 30 feet tall. Top-out bouldering, pro-shop, comps. 639 76th Street S.W. Byron Center, Michigan; www.insidemoves.com 616-281-7088 Kalamazoo. CLIMB KALAMAZOO - 10,500 sq/ft, toprope/lead, outdoor guided trips, complete retail store, seven days/week. (269) 385-9891 136 S. Kalamazoo Mall; www.climbkalamazoo.com
ROCK GYMS MINNESOTA
Rochester. PRAIRIE WALLS CLIMBING GYM. www.prairiewalls.com
Portland. PORTLAND ROCK GYM. 2034 SE 6 t h Av e . , P o r t l a n d , O R 9 7 2 1 4 ; 5 0 3 - 2 3 2 - 8 3 1 0 ; w w w. p o r t l a n d r o c k g y m . c o m
Lincoln. RHODE ISLAND ROCK GYM. 401-727-1704; www.rhodeislandrockgym.com
Chattanooga. THE TENNESSEE BOULDERING AUTHORITY. Indoor climbing, instruction, guiding and fraternizing. 423-822-6800 www.tbagym.com
St.Paul/Duluth. VERTICAL ENDEAVORS. The Twin Cities' facility (651-776-1430) offers 10,000ft2 of climbing while Duluth (218-279-9980) offers 12,000ft2 on walls up to 42' tall. Auto Belays. Programs and outdoor guiding for all ages. www.verticalendeavors.com
MISSOURI Springfield. PETRA ROCK GYM. 916 N. Cedarbrook, Springfield, MO; 417-866-3308; www.petrarockgym.com St. Louis. UPPER LIMITS. 10,000 sq. ft. of custom sculpted terrain. Climate Controlled! Auto belays. Conveniently located off I-64/40 behind Union Station. Free parking. (314) 241-ROCK (7625); www.upperlimits.com
NEW JERSEY East Hanover. DIAMOND ROCK. 3,000 square feet, seamless texture, 37 foot peak; 973-560-0413. www.diamondrock.net Edison. WALL STREET ROCK GYM. 5,000 square feet. 216 Tingley Ln. 908-412-1255; www.WallStRockGym.com Fairfield. NEW JERSEY ROCK GYM. 373D Rt. 46W, Fairfield, NJ. Over 12,000 square feet with air conditioning. Eldorado Walls with giant lead roof, largest freestanding boulder in the country and pro-shop; 973-439-9860; www.njrockgym.com Hamilton. ROCKVILLE CLIMBING CENTER. 200 Whitehead Road. 32 foot Eldorado Walls. Awesome bouldering cave. Air conditioned. 609-631-ROCK. www.rockvilleclimbing.com
NEW MEXICO Albuquerque. STONE AGE CLIMBING GYM. NM's Biggest and Best, Multi-level Bouldering Cave, Leading, Guiding, Complete Climbing Shop. 505-341-2016, www.climbstoneage.com
NEW YORK Buffalo/Niagara Falls. NIAGARA CLIMBING CENTER. 716-695-1248; www.niagaraclimbingcenter.com N e w P a l t z . T H E I N N E R WA L L . M a i n S t . , Eckerdâ€™s Plaza, New Paltz, NY; 845-255-7625. www.theinnerwall.com Rochester. ROCKVENTURES. Largest in North America- over 18,000 square feet of climbing! 585-442-5462; www.rockventures.net
NORTH CAROLINA Charlotte. INNER PEAKS CLIMBING CENTER. 9535 Monroe Rd., Ste. 170, Charlotte, NC 28270; 704-844-6677; www.innerpeaks.com
OHIO Euclid. CLEVELAND ROCK GYM, INC. 21200 St. Clair, Euclid, OH 44117; 216-692-3300; www.clevelandrockgym.com
OKLAHOMA Oklahoma City. OKC ROCKS CLIMBING GYM. Tallest Artificial Climb in America - 145 ft. Awesome lead routes, TR's and Bouldering. 405-319-1400; www.okcrocks.com
TENNESSEE Oaks. PHILADELPHIA ROCK GYM. 422 Business Center, PO Box 511, Oaks, PA 19456; 610-666-ROPE; www.philarockgym.com Philadelphia. GO VERTICAL. Philadelphia's only climbing gym. Open 7 days a week at 10am every day. Call 215-928-1800; www.govertical.com Pittsburgh. THE CLIMBING WALL at the factory. 7,000 square feet. 7501 Penn Ave., 15208; 412-247-7334; www.theclimbingwall.com Wind Gap. NORTH SUMMIT CLIMBING GYM. Large, all extremes, professional walls and routes. Easy access from Eastern PA, NY and NJ. 610-863-4444
Statement of Ownership, Management and Circulation 1. Publication Title 2. Publication Number 3. Filing Date Rock & Ice 0885-5722 10/28/03 4. Issue Frequency: Every 6 weeks, plus one annual Jan., March, April, Spring, June, July, Sept., Oct., Dec. 5. Number of Issues Published Annually: 9 6. Annual Subscription Price: $29.95 7. Complete Mailing Address of Known Office of Publication 1101 Village Rd., Ste. UL-4D, Carbondale, CO 81623 8. Complete Mailing Address of General Businss Office of Publisher 1101 Village Rd., Ste. UL-4D, Carbondale, CO 81623 9. Full Name and Complete Address of Publisher and Editor Publisher: Duane Raleigh, 1101 Village Rd., Ste. UL-4D, Carbondale, CO 81623 Editor: Duane Raleigh, 1101 Village Rd., Ste. UL-4D, Carbondale, CO 81623 10. Owner (If owned by a corporation, give the name and address of the corporation immediately followed by the names and addresses of all stockholders owning or holding 1 percent or more to the total amount of stock. If not owned by a corporation, give the names and addresses of the individual owners. If owned by a partnership of other unincorporated firm, give its name and address as well as those of each individual owner. If the publication is published by a nonprofit organization, give its name and address.) Big Stone Publishing, 1101 Village Rd., Ste., UL-4D, Carbondale, CO 81623 Duane Raleigh, 0639 Westbank Rd., Glenwood Springs CO 81601 Quent Williams, 875 Vista Hi Dr., Carbondale, CO 81623 Michael Janney, 28635 La Saragosa, Laguna Niguel, CA 92667 11: Know bondholders, mortgagees and other security holders owning or holding 1% or more of the total amount of bonds, mortgages or other securities: None 13. Publication Title 14. Issue Date for Circulation Data Below Rock & Ice December '03, #129 15. Extent and Nature of Circulation Actual No. Average No. of Copies of of Copies Single Issue Each Issue Published During Nearest to Preceeding Filing Date 12 Months a. Total Copies (net press run) 42,056 44,500 b. Paid and/or requested circ 26,357 30,608 b1. Paid/Requested Outside-County Mail Subscriptions from Form 3541 12,566 16,863 b2. Sales through Dealers, Carriers, Street Vendors and Counter Sales 13,764 13,731 b3. Other Classes Mailed through the USPS 27 14 c. Total Paid and/or Requested Circulations 26,357 30,608 d. Free Distribution by Mail d1. Free Distribution Mailed Through the USPS 58 27 e. Free Distribution Outside of Mail 222 200 f. Total Free Distribution 280 227 g. Total Distribution 26,637 30,835 h. Copies Not Distributed 15,419 13,665 I. Total 42,056 44,500 Percent Paid and/or Requested Circulation 99% 99% Publication of Statement of Ownership will be printed in the Jan. '04 issue of this publication. Duane Raleigh 10/29/03 Publisher Date I certify that all information furnished above on this form is true and complete. I understand that anyone who furnishes false or misleading information on this form or who omits material or information requested on the form may be subject to criminal sanctions (including fines and imprisonment) and/or civil actions (including civil penalties.)
TEXAS Carrollton. EXPOSURE ROCK CLIMBING. Over 9,000 square feet of climbing, excellent bouldering and gear shop. Portable climbing wall available. www.exposurerockclimbing.com
VIRGINIA Alexandria. SPORTROCK 2. 703-212-7625; www.sportrock.com Sterling. SPORTROCK 3. 703-212-7625; www.sportrock.com Vi r g i n i a B e a c h . VIRGINIA BEACH ROCK GYM. 6,000 square feet, 33 foot textured wall with roofs, aretes, slabs, cracks and bulges. Toprope & lead, boulder, rappelling, pro-shop. Open everyday. 5049 Southern Blvd., VA Beach, VA 23462; 757-499-8347; www.virginiabeachrockgym.com.
WASHINGTON Monroe. CLIMB ON! - Fun and friendly bouldering + top rope. Indoor and outdoor instruction from experienced Mountain Guides. 360-805-5848; www.climbonrocks.com Seattle. STONE GARDENS. Biggest, best and friendliest in the Northwest! Best bouldering of any gym. Textured 30 ft. walls, 40 ft. outdoor wall and 65 ft. lead roof. 2839 NW Market St., Seattle; 206-781-9828; www.stonegardens.com Seattle/Redmond/Bremerton. VERTICAL WORLD. America's first indoor climbing gym. Fun routes, friendly service and professional instruction since 1987. Three gyms for the price of one! Seattle 206-283-4497; Redmond 425-881-8826; Bremerton 360-373-6676; www.verticalworld.com Spokane. WILD WALLS CLIMBING GYM & GEAR STORE. 40 foot walls, toprope, lead bouldering 202 West 2nd Ave, Spokane, WA 99201; 509-455-9596; www.wildwalls.com
WISCONSIN Appleton. VERTICAL STRONGHOLD. Indoor/outdoor climbing center and gear shop. 8,000+ feet of climbing fun. Longest uninterrupted bouldering. 920-731-2720;email@example.com, www.climbwithus.com Brookfield/Pewaukee. ADVENTURE ROCK. Wisconsin's largest indoor climbing facility, over 9,500 square feet of textured surfaces, ceiling heights of 35 feet. Full pro - shop, portable rock wall rental and outdoor guiding. 21250 W. Capital Dr. Pewaukee, WI 53072; 262-790-6800; www.adventurerock.com
WYOMING Casper. THE PEAK. 408 N. Beverly, Casper, WY 82609; 307-472-4084
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CLIMB MAX www.climbaxe.com www.pagangear.com firstname.lastname@example.org
888-580-5510 815-667-7170 F 815-667-9970 201 Donaldson St. Utica, IL 61373
NORTHERN MOUNTAIN SUPPLY
425 Market Place Roswell (Atlanta), GA 30075 770-992-5400 F 770-992-9343
IDAHO LOST RIVER SPORTS 516 N. Main St. Hailey, ID 83333 208-788-7625
26 Cottage St. Bar Harbor, ME 04069 207-288-4532 F 207-288-8260
www.cadillacmountainsports.com email@example.com MAINE MOUNTAINWORKS 311 Marginal Way Portland, ME 04101 207-879-1410 F 207-761-4654
MARYLAND EARTH TREKS 7125-C Columbia Gateway Dr. Columbia, MD 21046 410-872-0060 F 410-872-0064 800-CLIMB-UP
www.earthtreksclimbing.com firstname.lastname@example.org EARTH TREKS 1930 Greenspring Dr. Timonium, MD 21903 410-872-0060 F 410-872-0064 800-CLIMB-UP
R E TA I L E R S
Authorized Dealer THE TRAIL HOUSE
RENO MOUNTAIN SPORTS
17 S. Market St. Frederick, MD 21701 301-694-8448 F 301-694-8449
155 E. Moana Ln. Reno, NV 89502 775-825-2855
MASSACHUSETTS ADVENTURE OUTFITTERS
451 Russell St. Hadley, MA 01035 413-253-5500 F 413-253-0694
www.adventureoutfitter.com BOSTON ROCK GEAR @ BOSTON ROCK GYM
78 G Olympia Ave. Woburn, MA 01801 781-935-5641
INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAIN EQUIPMENT 2733 Main St. North Conway, NH 03860 603-356-6316 F 603-356-6492
MOOR & MOUNTAIN
311 W. Kilgore St. Kalamazoo, MI 49002 269-381-7700 F 269-381-5530
and 240 Route 17 N. Paramus, NJ 07652 201-261-5000
NEW YORK LAKE PLACID MOUNTAINEERING
MINNESOTA M IDWEST M OUNTAINEERING 309 Cedar Ave. S. Minneapolis, MN 55454 612-339-3433 888-999-1077
132 Main St. Lake Placid, NY 12946 518-523-7586 888-547-4327
MONTANA NORTHERN LIGHTS TRADING CO.
1716 W. Babcock Bozeman, MT 59715 406-586-2225 F 406-586-7544 866-586-2225
Skiing, Climbing, Boating
Box 66, Route 73 Keene Valley, NY 12943 518-576-2281 F 518-576-4352
101 S. Higgins Missoula, MT 59801 406-721-1670
THE NORTH FACE
DESERT ROCK SPORTS 8201 W. Charleston Blvd. Las Vegas, NV 89117 702-254-1143 F 702-254-1050
2101 Broadway (@ 73rd) New York, NY 10023 212-362-1000
834 Colorado Street Bend, OR 97701 541-388-0668 800-794-0688
S. Lamar & Hwy 290 (Westgate) Austin,TX 78745 512-899-0992
REDPOINT CLIMBERS SUPPLY 975 NW Smith Rock Way Terrebonne, OR 97760 541-923-6207 F 541-548-3175 800-923-6207
PENNSYLVANIA EXKURSION 4037 William Penn Highway Monroeville, PA 15146 412-372-7030 F 412-372-7046
702 East 100 South Salt Lake City, UT 84102 801-359-9361 F 801-534-0905
OUTDOOR GEAR EXCHANGE
152 Cherry St. Burlington,VT 05401 802-860-0190 888-547-4327
1251 Sheridan Ave. Cody,WY 82414 307-587-9517 F 307-527-7436 888-889-2463
WHOLE EARTH PROVISION CO.
BLACK DIAMOND EQUIPMENT RETAIL STORE 2092 East 3900 South Salt Lake City, UT 84124 801-278-0233 F 801-278-5544
GEARHEADS, Moab's most complete outdoor store. Huge! selection of climbing gear. Black Diamond,Wild Country, Metolius, Petzl,Trango, Sterling, Mammut, FiveTen, La Sportiva 471 S. Main St Moab, UT 84532
888-740-4327 open 8:30am -10:00pm every day
5206 S.Tacoma Way Tacoma,WA 98409 253-472-4402
119 Yale Ave. N. Seattle,WA 98109 206-292-2210 F 206-292-9667
LA CORDEE PLEIN-AIR
www.featheredfriends.com email@example.com MARMOT MOUNTAIN WORKS
827 Bellevue N.E. Bellevue,WA 98004 800-CLIMBIN
www.marmotmountain.com 5209 Ballard Ave. NW Seattle,WA 98107 206-545-8810 F 206-545-9397
www.secondascent.com 5 miles outside Mt. Ranier National Park, 30027 SR 706 East Ashford,WA 98304 800-238-5756
INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAIN EQUIPMENT
1023 First Ave. Seattle,WA 98104 206-622-4111
3265 East 3300 South Salt Lake City, UT 84109 801-484-8073 F 801-467-7884
RHODE ISLAND ROCK GYM 100 Higginson Ave. Lincoln, RI 02865 401-727-1704 F 401-727-4447
www.imeutah.com firstname.lastname@example.org MAPLE LEAF INDUSTRIES 480 South 50 East Ephraim, UT 84627 435-283-4400 F 435-283-6872 800-671-5323
THE NORTH FACE
GAIN EXPOSURE in the
WEST VIRGINIA ADVENTURE’S EDGE 131 Pleasant St. Morgantown,WV 26505 304-296-9007 F 304-292-2295
1F on Yip Building, 395 Shanghai St., Kowloon Hong Kong, China 852-23848190 F 852-27707110
268-A Pinero Ave. University Gardens San Juan, PR 00927 787-766-0470 F 787-754-7543
2777 St-Martin Blvd West Laval, PQ H7T 2Y7 and 2159 St-Catherine East Montreal, PQ, H2K 2H9 800-567-1106
HONG KONG MOUNTAINEERING TRAINING CENTRE
160 N 500 W (corner of Bluff and Blvd.) St. George, UT 84770 435-673-6141 F 435-628-3380
AVENTURAS TIERRA ADENTRO
www.tetonmountaineering.com 333 Main St. Lander,WY 82520 307-332-4541 F 307-335-8923 888-284-5968
170 N. Cache PO Box 1533 Jackson,WY 83001 307-733-3595 800-850.3595
E. 11329 Hwy. 159 Baraboo,WI 53913 608-356-4877
412 Grand Ave. Laramie,WY 82070 307-721-8036
212 E. Cork St. Winchester,VA 22601 540-667-0030 F 540-667-2618
255 E. Basse (Alamo Quarry) San Antonio,TX 78209 210-829-8888
ALL TERRAIN SPORTS
5400 E. Mockingbird Ln. Dallas,TX 75206 214-824-7444
2934 S. Shepherd Houston,TX 77098 713-526-5226
719 W. Frances St. Appleton,WI 54914 920-731-2720 F 920-734-0321
2438 Shelburne Rd. Shelburne,VT 05482 802-985-5055
WHOLE EARTH PROVISION CO.
WHOLE EARTH PROVISION CO.
59 South Main St. #2 Moab, UT 84532 435-259-1117 F 435-259-1119
639 NW Franklin Ave. Bend, OR 97701 541-382-6872 F 541-382-6853
TENT & TRAILS 21 Park Place New York, NY 10007 212-227-1760 800-237-1760
WHOLE EARTH PROVISION CO.
Smith Rock State Park 9297 N.E. Crooked River Dr. Terrebonne, OR 97760 541-548-4786
ROCK & SNOW 44 Main St. New Palz, NY 12561 845-255-1311 F 845-255-1360
Free Climbing Cave
1014 N. Lamar Austin,TX 78703 512-476-1414
101 E.Wiseman Ave. Fayetteville,WV 25840 304-574-2425 F 304-574-2563
2025 West Pioneer Pkwy. Arlington,TX 76013 817-461-4503 800-805-9139
WHOLE EARTH PROVISION CO.
www.climbaxe.com www.pagangear.com email@example.com
2105 S.E. Division St. Portland, OR 97202 503-797-1991 F 503-236-9553 800-895-0048
WATER STONE OUTDOORS
2494 N. University Pkwy. Provo, UT 84604 801-371-0223 F 801-371-0223
by Whole Earth Provision Co. 2410 San Antonio St. Austin,TX 78705 512-478-1577
628 N.E. Broadway Portland, OR 97232 503-288-6768 F 503-280-1687
THE NORTH FACE STORE
REDPOINT CLIMBERS SUPPLY
TAOS MOUNTAIN OUTFITTERS 114 S. Plaza Taos, NM 87571 505-758-9292
1039 Route 46 W. Ledgewood, NJ 07852 973-584-7799
PLANET ROCK 82 Aprill Dr. Ann Arbor, MI 48103 734-827-2680 and 34 Rapid St. Pontiac, MI 48342 248-334-3904 888-334-ROCK
RAMSEY OUTDOOR STORE
Wild Mercantile, Ltd. 30 East State Street Athens, Ohio 45701 740-594-5198 F 740-594-8253
NEW JERSEY 810 Route 17 N. Paramus, NJ 07652 201-445-5000 800-CAMPMOR
639 1/2 76th St. S.W. Byron Center, MI 49315 616-281-7088
100 Tremont St. Chattanooga,TN 37405 423-265-5969 and 2220 Hamilton Place Blvd. Chattanooga,TN 37421 423-485-8775
4732 Sharon Rd, Ste. 2M Charlotte, NC 28210 704-556-0020
Route 16-302 Intervale, NH 03845 603-356-3042 F 603-356-8815
5414 Asheville Hwy Naples, NC 28760 828-684-6262
JESSE BROWN’S OUTDOORS
6 E. Mountain St. Worcester, MA 01606 508-853-9407
2730 Main St. North Conway, NH 03860 603-356-8877
RAGGED MOUNTAIN EQUIPMENT
3 Railroad Street Andover, MA 01810 978-475-3665 F 978-470-1982
DIAMOND BRAND OUTDOORS
NEW ENGLAND BACKPACKER
Paula Stepp 877-762-5423 ext. 16 firstname.lastname@example.org
www.rockandice.com | 97
Miscommunication leads to a ground fall 5th of July (5.9), Clear Creek Canyon, Colorado BY JED
ast fall, Madeline Cohen and her friends Darrin and Steve settled in for a day’s climbing at the Highwire Crag in Clear Creek Canyon outside of Golden, Colorado. Steve led an easy 5.7, then Cohen led the same route. She had just touched down after being lowered when a body hurtled from the top of the rock and landed with a thud on the ground about five feet away. Steve and Darrin scrambled to the road to summon help, while Cohen administered aid. The victim was blue in the face and foaming at the mouth, bleeding badly from a gash in the back of his head. Meanwhile, Darrin and Steve were driving to find cell-phone reception when they waved down a casino bus heading up the road to Blackhawk. The driver called emergency services on his CB, and a state trooper immediately called Search and Rescue, then hiked up to help. Within a few minutes other troopers had closed off the canyon road, and within 30 minutes of the accident, EMTs were on the scene. Perhaps 45 minutes after the fall, Search and Rescue arrived and evacuated the victim to a waiting Flight for Life helicopter. At the hospital the victim was treated for a broken shoulder, fractures of both legs and some ribs, a punctured lung and cuts to his head. Considering that he apparently hit the floor from 85 feet up, these were relatively minor injuries.
ANALYSIS Although some facts remain unclear, the climber evidently fell from 5th of July (5.9), an 85-foot bolted sport route, which tops out in an alcove that obscures the belayer’s view of the leader and makes communication difficult. The accident was, indeed, caused by miscommunication between the leader and belayer. The leader, 98 | www.rockandice.com
WILLIAMSON upon topping out, intended to lower on the lead rope, yet his belayer thought he was going to rappel. When the leader reached the anchors, he leaned back to lower, but his belayer, who thought he was clipped to the bolt station and was going to rappel, took him off belay. This type of serious accident happens several times every year, and there’s no excuse for it. Simple miscommunication is almost always to blame. Before anyone even touches the rock, always make certain that the leader and belayer are clear on whether the leader will lower or rappel. And once on the rock, stick to the plan and communicate with the basic commands. These are: Belayer says “On belay,” as soon as he has the leader on belay. Under no circumstances should the belayer take the leader off belay until the leader yells “Off Belay!” The commands for lowering are equally simple. Here, the belayer never takes the leader off belay. When the leader yells “Ready to lower” or “Take,” he should wait for an “OK” from his belayer before weighting the rope. In all situations, the belayer should, if possible, visually verify the leader’s commands. The annual book Accidents in North American Mountaineering is published by the American Alpine Club. AAC members receive it as a benefit. Call 303-384-0110 or visit www.americanalpineclub.org to join or place an order.
SAVE THYSELF If ever you're unsure whether your belayer has you on or has taken you off, test the rope before lowering with this simple method: Clip into the anchors with a long sling, then yell, "Take, I'm ready to lower!" Pull yourself into the anchor until you feel the rope come taught against you, then lean back against it to test. DO NOT unclip until you're absolutely sure your belayer has you. When you're sure, unclip from the anchor and yell, "OK, lower me!"
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David Roetzel follows a bad hunch on Quasimodo, East Vail, Colorado. Photo: Scott Cramer Patagonia pledges at least 1% of sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment. 1% For The Planet is a trademark of 1% For The Planet, Inc. ÂŠ 2003 Patagonia, Inc. Source code: M6762226