MOUNTAIN IMPOSSIBLE: CAN THE NORTHWEST FACE OF DEVILS THUMB BE CLIMBED?
HOW SWEET IT IS: A NEW MIRACLE FIX FOR BLOWN TENDONS
BUILT BY CLIMBERS ISSUE 132 | APRIL 2004
OUT OF LEADER FALLS
(PART II OF OUR NEW CLIMB SAFE SERIES)
THE RETURN OF TOMAZ HUMAR
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In the Crossfire
RON OLEVSKY: UNLEASHED, UNCENSORED & UNABASHED
+ FIELD TESTED: NEW-SCHOOL ENVIRO ANCHORS +
ARRESTING BEHAVIOR TAKE THE SHOCK
PLUS: SONNIE TROTTER GETS TRAD HAPPY
Photo: Don Mason
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FEATURES NO. 132 / WWW.ROCKANDICE.COM
NEXT ISSUE: THE HIGH AND LOW POINTS OF 20 YEARS OF SPORT CLIMBING IN AMERICA
36 THE O FILES
Bring lawyers, guns and money. Avowed Libertarian and unapologetic clean climber, Ron Olevsky has climbing in his crosshairs. INTERVIEW BY DUANE RALEIGH PHOTOS BY PATRICK HAYES
42 THE DEVIL’S CURSE
Despite 14 attempts over 27 years by many of the world’s best alpinists, the Northwest Face of Devils Thumb remains unclimbed. Depending on who you ask, this 6,500-foot wall is either Alaska’s ultimate route or a suicide mission. BY PETE TAKEDA
48 RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE
Reinventing the lost art of climbing in the unlikely and remote canopies of Venezuela. BY TAREK MILLERON
56 KINGDOM COME
In Texas, trespassing has always been as integral to climbing as a rope. Sure enough, the Lone Star State’s best new crag is on private land, again. This time, however, rather than chase you off with a shotgun, the owners welcome you— and your wallets—with open arms. BY JEFF JACKSON PHOTOS BY SCOTT MELCER ON THE COVER: Katie Cavicchio wrestling with the thin-crack crux of Dean’s Day Off (5.12a), Independence Pass, Colorado. PHOTO BY TYLER STABLEFORD THIS PAGE: Eric Patrick pulling for all that is
holey on Gator Farm (V3), Continental Ranch, Texas. PHOTO BY SCOTT MELCER
“Private climbing parks like the Continental Ranch are an idea whose time has arrived.” —JEFF JACKSON, P 56
DEPARTMENTS NO. 132 / WWW.ROCKANDICE.COM
▲ PLANET LARGO
▲ BOLT SMART, BOLT SAFE
10 EDITORS NOTE Hole new world. Responsible anchor management starts from the ground up.
12 LETTERS 52 EXPOSED Electric imagery—pressing skin to stone.
99 CLASSIFIEDS Rock gyms, retailers and more. ▲ BREAKING NEWS: A WOOLY NEW ROUTE IN PATAGONIA
▲ CLIMB SAFE: NEW-SCHOOL BELAYING
18 BREAKING NEWS Tetons’ Grand
30 PLANET LARGO Before sport climbing
Traverse gets its first—and second—winter ascent; Tomaz Humar and Ales Kozelj nab Aconcagua’s gnarliest; Papert dominates in Ouray; Mount Rainier guiding monopoly to end?; 5.14+ action in sunny Slovenia. BOOK OF THE MONTH: Classic Climbs of the Cordillera Blanca, by Brad Johnson.
came Levitation 29, the famed and bolted Red Rocks face route. John Long revisits his and Lynn Hill’s first free ascent of this seminal line. BY JOHN LONG
24 SPOTLIGHT Sonnie Trotter, Canada’s strongest rock climber, goes Sonnie Tradster. An interview with the ribald young gun. 26 ACCIDENT REPORT A rockfall injury at Red Rocks leads to a dramatic helicopter rescue. BY ALISON OSIUS
28 DR. PITON The wise doctor spouts forth on big-wall trickery: Avoiding the “clusterfrig,” why you need a heavy hammer, and the intricacies of Russian aiding. 8
ROCKANDICE.COM APRIL 2004
62 SUPERGUIDE Mess with Texas. Topos to America’s newest climbing park— Continental Ranch, the Verdon of the Pecos River (well, almost). BY JEFF JACKSON 68 GEAR Out of sight. Everything you wanted to know about bolting but were afraid to ask. BY TYLER STABLEFORD
new hope in the eternal struggle against climbing injuries, both acute and chronic. BY MATT SAMET
78 BETTER BETA Savvy strategies for long-term toe health, dry-treating gear, rigging your own V-threader, refilling chalk balls and taming flaring offwidths. 80 CLIMB SAFE What they don’t teach you in belay school. Why one little-used technique may make the difference between protection breaking or holding. BY TYLER STABLEFORD
72 WHAT’S NEW Lingerie goes tech,
84 GUIDE’S TIP Expert advice for multi-
animal-face hand holds, one helluva light jacket and more.
BY VINCE ANDERSON
74 MUSCLE TRAINING Sugar methods. Two emergent needle-based treatments, prolotherapy and mesotherapy, may offer
106 DOWNWARD BOUND Harpooning all that is sacred in climbing, and a challenging word puzzle, to boot.
pitch climbing with novices.
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: KLAUS FENGLER; JEREMY COLLINS; DAVID CLIFFORD; CAMERON LAWSON
Love it or leave it—or write in.
EDITOR’S NOTE Hole New World Responsible anchor management starts on the ground
IT MAY HAVE BEEN 25 YEARS AGO, but I can still feel the phantom
pain of my first bolt as vividly as if I’d lost a limb. I was smearing on a sloped, mossy ledge a hundred feet up, at the end of the first pitch of a new route in southwestern Oklahoma’s ancient Wichita Mountains, the last holdout for Geronimo, who, legend had it, escaped U.S. troops when he used his medicine to turn into an eagle and fly off a bluff not far from here. In my left hand I clutched the then state-of-the-art drill, a Rawl holder with a chisel-tipped steel bit. My right hand wielded a Chouinard wall hammer, a trophy I’d recently scored in a savage gear trade. In a blue nylon bag clipped to my swami jangled my medicine, a handful of quarter-inch split Rawl bolts with SMC chromoly hangers. Though I beat the hammer against the drill incessantly, progress was so imperceptible I pulled out the bit and examined it, like a mystified carpenter studying his dull-toothed saw. Five-hundredmillion-year-old granite was a formidable match for a nearsighted kid in painter’s pants. Thirty minutes in, my calves cramped up and I wondered if I could stand on that mossy sloper a minute more. I wondered if I wasn’t taking more punishment than the rock: A dozen misguided blows of the Chouinard had turned my drill hand black and bloated. Millimeter by millimeter the rock lost, as evidenced by a small stream of powdered granite that dribbled from the hole. An hour into it, I had the hole, blew out the dust, tapped in the bolt, clipped off the rope, and sank onto that lone bolt. After my antics I was so spent I could barely reel in rope as my partner Bill followed. When he arrived all I could do was croak, “Bolts suck.” That original bolt and the three others we banged in above it that day were clipped a hundred times over the next two decades. Finally, a good Samaritan yanked the rusted relics and—with the blessing of the then new bolting committee—replaced them with modern hardware. When I drilled my first bolt I learned that the rock made you earn its protection, and that didn’t come easily. Disrespectful bolts, say ones placed on rappel, were dealt with by the bolting committee, essentially vigilantes with crowbars. As bolting technology improved and tactics such as sport climbing evolved, real bolting committees were born out of necessity, a by-product of the bolting wars that, though they have largely subsided, still rage today in certain myopic enclaves. Admittedly, I chopped a few bolts myself way back when, usually on routes that I judged too easy to require bolts, or had my eye on myself. Thankfully, before I got too far I recognized that I had become a jackass and a hypocrite, and left existing bolts alone. I’m not the only one with a new attitude. To the credit of the climbing community, we now (mostly) work together to not just protect our climbs, but to preserve the resource. In this spirit, Rock and Ice reviews the latest offerings of eco-anchors and drills in this issue’s equipment section. We believe that if and when bolts are appropiate, they should be placed to minimize the visual and environmental impacts. This means using hardware that blends into the rock, and anchors that last the long haul, such as the ones in the Gear article on page 70. Before you read, realize that a box of camo hangers and a drill doesn’t give you carte blanche to bolt. We are under the microscope, and it’s not just land managers peering down at us. Other outdoor enthusiasts, from hikers to bird watchers to fellow climbers, are cognizant of climbing and formulating their opinions. Before you drill, don’t just consider the visual impact of your new route, but also consider whether it will create a social trail, anathema to land managers and other users alike. Think big picture. Bolt responsibly. Work within the system and hope that next time when a land manager sits down to discuss access, the first words out of his mouth aren’t, “Climbers suck.” —DUANE RALEIGH, PUBLISHER AND EDITOR IN CHIEF
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“Some people climb toting a little stash bag with party supplies; mine has a couple of Xanax.” HANK CAYLOR, BOULDER, COLORADO
THE FRAGILE EDGE
TAKE TWO AS A READER OF ROCK AND ICE for many years, I was very disappointed in the quality of your Exposed section (No. 131)—which people turn to first. You published a soft shot, and it was the lone picture. I don’t want to just bash on you—overall, you are doing a good job.
GRANT CAMPBELL Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
A technical gremlin caused the photo by Corey Rich (No. 131, Exposed) to print at much less than full luster. Please see www.rockandice.com for the corrected Exposed image from last issue. And for those of you who asked for more, we present (above) another great shot from Tommy Caldwell’s free ascent of Zodiac. 12
ROCKANDICE.COM APRIL 2004
NEVER HAVE I BEEN SO CHOKED UP and close to tears as when reading Alison Osius’s account of the climbing accident at Tahquitz Rock (“Darkness at Noon,” No. 131). Being a parent myself, I was struck by how fragile we as climbers really are. Anchor failure leading to ground fall and almost certain death is something we climbers must keep in the backs of our minds: not to let such thoughts paralyze us, rather to focus our attention on everything else not related to climbing. It is this daily existence that makes us what we are—our relationships with others, on and off the rock—and that is what I will remember
I WAS CRUSHED BY THE STORY of the climbers who were ripped from their belay near the top of The Step at Tahquitz. I began my lead-climbing experience on that stone in 1970, and it is true that the area's crack systems in the area are often flaring and unstable. Witnesses told of three loud popping sounds prior to the fall: It is reasonable to assume that those were the sounds of protection blasting from their placements, one by one. Your article also describes the arrangement of three cams, linked by a knotted cordelette, to which one victim was tied. I would wager that the load on that anchor was not from the direction it was designed for, and the “equalized” pieces were loaded individually, leading to their failure. As a professional guide at Tahquitz Rock, I taught the standard dogma of tying a master knot in the cordelette when linking multiple pieces, yet now I think we must all reconsider that option and become more flexible with anchor design. The doctrine of “the knot” is based on prevention of shock loading the anchor should a single piece in the system fail: However, the knot causes shock loading when the anchor is loaded from the “wrong” direction. I propose that, when rigging multiple pieces with an equalizer at a stance that may be hit in any number of directions, one ignore the knot. Then all pieces would load equally. Moreover, in situations where crack systems are not optimal, toss in a second belay system—preferably in a separate crack—for redundancy. PETER HAYES, Centerville, Utah
LETTERS when I am too old and feeble to rock climb anymore. So cherish every moment, because today, now, is our one big chance to interact with people and those we love. JIM SHIMBERG, Campton, New Hampshire
DOUGAL DID IT estimable climber Conrad Anker (No. 131, Film of the Month: Touching the Void) that Messner and Habeler were involved in coaching Clint Eastwood or any other aspect of the filming of The Eiger Sanction is news to me. Dougal Haston and Norman Dyrenfurth were the climbing experts who served in the leading technical advisory—and some of the stunt doubling, in the case of Dougal—roles. Mike Hoover et al. were involved in the Monument Valley/Totem Pole desert-climbing sequence.
THE ASSERTION BY THE
RICK SYLVESTER, Squaw Valley, California
Conrad Anker replies: Greetings, Rick, and apologies. I made an error based on my recollections of an old photograph of Clint Eastwood flanked by Habeler and Messner. I could imagine those two giving even Clint a few tips on hanging tough.
NOT ALONE MANY THANKS TO ROCK AND ICE for printing the article on panic attacks (No. 131, “High Anxiety”) and especially to Matt Samet for being so candid. I can’t tell you how relieved I was to not feel like the only climber who thinks he’s gonna keel over and die every now and again. Ninety-nine percent of the time I’m the happiest, fittest, makin’-good-money-kinda-guy ever, and then wham, they come out of nowhere and are more terrifying than any route I have ever been on. When they used to occur, I would self-medicate with booze, until one day I finally went to the emergency room because it was sooo bad, and found out what was really going on. I thought, great, a BASE jumper/rock climber/electrician that suffers from panic attacks, isn’t that a dandy recipe for disaster. They don’t happen very often, but when they do, I would trade them in for a 100-foot fall off Half Dome to not feel so heinous. I am now on a similar med program to Matt’s and seem to be doing all right with it. Some people climb toting a little stash bag with party supplies in it; mine has a couple of Xanax. Thanks again for a most informative article.
HANK CAYLOR, Boulder, Colorado
on panic and fear. As a climber, mental-health therapist and anxiety sufferer, I found it great to read your story and comforting to know that I am not alone. Having suffered my first “BFPA” this past autumn, while leading my second trad route (ever) in the Gunks, I know all too well the feeling of being frozen in place and the terror that forces us through the humiliating downclimb. I don’t know which was worse—forcing myself to trust my numb limbs to carry me to safety, or admitting my “fear” to my climbing community. So why do we do it? As your article suggests, many of us experience climbing as a powerful tool for change and metaphor for life; in climbing and in life, those situations that inspire the most fear in us are also those where we have the greatest opportunity for growth.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR ARTICLE
MELISSA ACKERMAN, Boston, Massachusetts
STALKING THE WILD SPRAYLORDIUS MAXIMUS to Matt Samet’s “Tales of Sickness” (No. 129, “How to Meet Girls”): DRESS TO KILL: Optimal tattoo placement in the lower back, I PROPOSE THE WOMEN’S COROLLARY
right above the butt crack. Design preference can range from tribal (must be a tribe in no way connected to your heritage) to delicate, such as a dolphin, Hello Kitty, or a skull encircled by roses. So that everyone may revel in your inked glory, low-rider Grana pants are a mandatory part of the ensemble. Backless tops are also a must. If you are of the modest ilk, the overly baggy “homey” look is also acceptable— although it makes sending more difficult. SOUNDS ABOUT RIGHT: While sending, emit small wincing noises such as those uttered by cute baby animals, followed by loud expletives. No male of the species can appreciate your lead if you do not first alert him using the art of sound! The chirping/profanity combination also shows that you are a sensitive yet complex creature. When flanked by others of the female persuasion, it is important that you spray loudly in order to demonstrate your prowess. Employ phrases such as “first ascent” and “Luna-bar sponsored.” Avoid words like “cramps” and “tampons,” as they tend to instill a sense of fear and confusion in the male species, although the combination of the above, “crampon,” will elicit interest from an entirely different variety of climber. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: The gym is your best bet. Comps are even better in that they allow you to slag on Lisa Rands’ and Chris Sharma’s techniques from the comfort of your folding chair. A celebratory after-comp beverage of processed wheat grass or Miller High Life (regional preferences may apply) may be all you need to engage Spraylordius Maximus in your favorite topic of conversation ... you. JACKIE BLUMBERG Eldorado Springs, Colorado
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NEWS On Top Again
Humar roars back with new route up Aconcagua IN THE FIRST DAYS of the austral summer, the Slovenian mountaineers Tomaz Humar and Ales Kozelj added a new route to the massive and hazardous south face of Argentina’s Aconcagua (22,841 feet). Climbing in an alpine push, Humar, 34, and Kozelj, 29, completed their Mobitel’s Swallow—Johan’s Route (VI+ M5/6 A2; 8,325 feet) on December 22, after five bivies on the route. The climb, says Humar, is the most difficult of the face’s 11 lines—and one of the most committing and dangerous in the world. It was, says Humar, “a one-way ticket. Not one good ice screw or piton on the entire route, and we were under one big serac. The only way off was over the top.” Johan’s Route marks the first time Humar has climbed in the mountains with a partner since a 1997 accident on Nuptse that claimed the life of his partner and fellow Slovenian Janez “Johan” Jeglic, one of the world’s leading alpinists. The pair completed a new directissima on Nuptse’s 8,000-vertical-foot west face, but Jeglic was swept to his death near the summit by gale-force winds.
▲ TOMAZ HUMAR PONDERS HIS FUTURE.
NORTH SUMMIT 22,841 feet
▲ THE SOUTH FACE OF ACONCAGUA: A. SUN LINE (ROMIH, SVETICIC; 1988) B. MOBITEL’S SWALLOW—JOHAN’S ROUTE (HUMAR, KOZELJ; 2003) C. SLOVENIAN ROUTE (GANTAR, PODGORNIK, PODGORNIK, REJC; 1982).
ROCKANDICE.COM APRIL 2004
Humar, alone, survived the descent, an ordeal he calls “a freezing hell,” only to be criticized by fellow Slovenian alpinists for responsibility in Jeglic’s death. After Jeglic died, Humar says he couldn’t bear to come home ever again with “just my partner’s passport and wallet,” and opted to climb solo. His lonely career culminated in 1999 with his bold—some would say near suicidal—ascent of a new route on Dhaulagiri’s 13,000-vertical-foot south face, in Nepal. In 2000, Humar’s Himalayan ambitions came to an abrupt halt when, at home, he fell down the unfinished stairwell of his basement, shattering his left heel and right femur. Humar lost three liters of blood and his heart stopped twice during six hours of emergency surgery. Listed as 30-percent disabled, and with one leg nearly an inch shorter, Humar spent the next two years in a wheelchair. Eschewing conventional medicine, he embarked down a homoeopathic, spiritual path, and says he is now completely recovered “with the help of God.” The new route on Aconcagua, Mobitel’s Swallow—Johan’s Route, followed on the heels of a failed bid at Nanga Parbat by Humar in the summer of 2003. Recovering at home, Humar was asked by Kozelj to join him on Aconcagua after Kozelj’s original partner dropped out. Humar, who believes in an intuitive “third eye” to keep him safe in the mountains, says his partnership with Kozelj felt right. “I don’t choose my partners,” he says. “It just happens.” On December 17, Kozelj and Humar, completely unsupported, launched up the immense face left of the 1982 Slovenian Route. Encountering steep, thin ice, rotten rock and frozen dirt, the pair climbed for three days, often unroped due to a dearth of protection, to reach the route’s crux, at nearly 21,000 feet. Here, a 400-foot-high, overhanging rock wall forced them to climb bare-handed and haul their packs. The following day, they joined the 1988 Sun Line (also Slovenian), ascending this ridge route to the continent’s highest point. Once on the first day and again on the third day, Humar was hit by falling rock and ice, but escaped serious injury. He says his good luck is a “blessing from God. Luck is a gift, but it is not absolute.” The route, the first on the face since 1988, is named after Humar’s sponsor—the Slovenian telecommunications company Mobitel—and his late partner Jeglic.
FROM TOP TO BOTTOM: DUANE RALEIGH; TOMAZ HUMAR. OPPOSITE PAGE: SONNIE TROTTER COLLECTION (BOTTOM); REINHARD FICHTINGER (TOP)
SLOVENIAN TESTPIECE GETS SECOND “TRUE” ASCENT A DOZEN YEARS AFTER TADEJ SLABE ESTABLISHED Za Staro Kalo Majhnega Psa (5.14c), a wicked power-endurance route at the Slovenian crag of Misja Pec, Kilian Fischuber, of Austria, has nailed a proper repeat, avoiding a “pit-stop” rest used by other ascentionists. “His redpoint was one of the most impressive I’ve ever witnessed,” said American Cody Roth, who hung out during a day of freezing temps on January 4 to lend his friend moral support. “It came at the end of the day ... and he lost all feeling in his fingers as he was riding the wave out to the chains.” (Fischuber said it took hours to regain the circulation.) Za Staro (rough translation: Little Dog Next to an Old, Red Bicycle) is a 40-foot traversing line in a small, dead-horizontal cave set into the world-famous limestone amphitheater of Misja Pec, near Osp. Since its 1992 first ascent, the line has gained a fearsome reputation for its heinous body-wrenching underclings and brutally hard clips, complicated by an all-too-close cave floor. While three climbers have done the route since (one taking two years), they all moved left into a ▼ NO LITTLE DOG, NO RED BICYCLE, resting hole—eschewed by JUST KILIAN FISCHUBER, APPLYING Slabe—on the neighboring route WICKED POWER TO ZA STARO. Talk is Cheap to recover before the strenuous, body-tension-dependent finishing moves. Fischuber, a 21-year-old student in Innsbruck, had repeated Ceüse’s Biographie (5.14c) and flashed Total Brutal, a 5.14a in the Ziller Valley of his native Austria.
EN ROUTE Born-again trad climber SONNIE TROTTER seeing the light on You Must Be High (5.13c R), Rincon Wall, Eldorado Canyon. Trotter nailed the second ascent of this hairball headpoint over two days in January, saying simply, “I THINK I HAVE A GOOD FOCUS WHEN IT COMES TO THIS TYPE OF CLIMBING.”
FOR MORE ON TROTTER, TURN TO PAGE 24
EYES & EARS
▲ GLOWACZ LOAD HUMPING ON THE TORTUOUS ICECAP. STEFAN GLOWACZ AND ROBERT JASPER
have been out there and back, establishing the 3,600-vertical-foot The Lost World (5.11 M7/8) on the remote peak of Cerro Murallón (9,288 feet), on the inland Patagonian icecap. Their line, the virgin north pillar, went in a 26-hour push starting December 3, after three 38-mile roundtrip ferrying missions to an ice-cave basecamp. Cerro Murallón was first climbed, siege-style, by an expedition led by the Italian mountaineer Casimiro Ferrari in 1984, though Eric Shipton came close in 1961. Glowacz, who with Jasper climbed through 12 hours of daylight during a rare good-weather window, called the nighttime rappels the mental crux. APPROACHING CERRO MURALLÓN’S NORTHWEST FACE. ▲ ▼ ATOP CERRO MURALLÓN, WITH 14 HOURS OF IN-THE-DARK RAPPELLING TO GO.
LAST YEAR, AT 13, ALEX JOHNSON appeared to come
out of nowhere—though she was an established competitor—to win an American Bouldering Series National in Berkeley. Johnson, from Hudson, Wisconsin, went on to win the Teva Games in Vail, Colorado, and tie for first at the Ford Adventure Sports Challenge at neighboring Beaver Creek. She then won the Professional Climbers Association Summer Showdown in Salt Lake City, showing a great consolidation of strength and technique. Johnson is a longtime athlete who plays basketball and three other sports, and is blessed with equanimity. The 2004 women’s divisions in bouldering comps should be riveting: Lauren Lee, Claire Murphy and Lisa Rands are always powerhouse presences, and nimble talents like the recent Boulder Brawl champ Angela Payne, and Meagin Martin, 14, Junior National champ, keep things hopping. WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS THIS YEAR? I just take life day by day. I have some things I want to do in my life ... I want to skydive. I want to hang-glide. I want to bungee jump (again). I want to become a better surfer and not kill myself on my wakeboard. I want to become a veterinarian and own a clinic so I can work three days a week and climb four. WHAT’S THE BEST THING YOU HAVE GOING FOR YOU? I was born a great athlete ... or so I’m told. WHAT IS YOUR WEAKNESS? I live in Wisconsin. LAST SUMMER YOU WERE SPORTING SOME INK ON THE CALF. HOW DID THAT GO OVER AT HOME? Well, that was temporary. At our house, the response to wanting a tattoo is, “Fine, as long as it is on your butt!” But when I’m 18. ... WHAT’S ON THE CD PLAYER AND WHAT ARE YOU READING? I’m really into country. You know, songs about trucks and motherhood and an occasional shotgun. I recently finished the books Go Ask Alice and A Boy Named It. WHAT PERCENTAGE OF YOUR CLIMBING IS ON PLASTIC AND WHAT IS ON ROCK? Way too much plastic and not enough rock!
LEFT: KLAUS FENGLER (ALL); DAVID CLIFFORD
PATAGONIA’S ULTRA-REMOTE CERRO MURALLÓ BLITZED
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▲ MONOPOLY NO MORE: RMI MAY BE FORCED TO SHARE WASHINGTON’S BIGGEST FROZEN VOLCANO.
RAINIER GUIDE SERVICE TO SHARE THE LOVE
After enjoying 34 years of nearly exclusive guiding rights on Washington’s Mount Rainier (14,410 feet), Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. (RMI) may be forced, under a pending National Park Service draft plan, to share the wealth. If implemented, the plan would allow each of three as-yet-undetermined guide services access to 1,333 potential customers per year, with permits for the most popular climbs—the Muir, Emmons and Kautz routes—divvied up as well. (The remaining balance of clients would be referred to smaller outfits. The park permits 21,000 climbers per year, and would allow 5,333 guided climbers under the new plan.) Meanwhile, an unhappy RMI, founded in 1968 by W. Gerald Lynch and Lou Whittaker and headed today by Whittaker’s son Peter, circulated an email maintaining that the plan could “contribute to a compromise of risk management and of prudent safety decisions.” RMI retracted the statement following a backlash by other guides. “The proposed plan will more than likely lead to a growth in the guiding industry,” says Mike Gauthier, head climbing ranger at Mount Rainier. Gauthier posits that Rainier could become an international training ground for bigger goals if other large guide services, with permits to multiple mountains all over the world, are allowed in. Visit www.nps.gov/mora/ to view the final plan, available this spring.
PAPERT, ANTHAMATTEN STOMP IN OURAY
At right, Ines Papert, of Germany, styles her way to a second-place overall (and first-place women’s) finish at the 2004 Ouray Ice Festival Competition, becoming, behind overall winner and Swiss climber Simon Anthamatten, one of only two competitors to complete the route, a strenuous M9+. This year’s festival, January 15 through 18, attracted 3,000 visitors. Visit www.ourayicefestival.com. 22
▼ PAPERT, KNOWN FOR HER GRACE ON ICE, HANGS TOUGH.
FOUR JACKSON HOLE ALPINISTS climbed the 10 core Teton peaks this January, completing the first winter Grand Traverse, one of the most sought-after prizes in North American mountaineering. Grand Teton National Park climbing ranger Renny Jackson and Exum guide Hans Johnstone left the valley before dawn January 17, skiing up Glacier Gulch as they began sequential ascents of Teewinot Mountain (12,325 feet), Mount Owen (12,928 feet), Grand Teton (13,770 feet), Middle Teton (12,804 feet), South Teton (12,514 feet), Ice Cream Cone (12,320+ feet), Gilkey Tower (12,320+ feet), Spalding Peak (12,240+ feet), Cloudveil Dome (12,026 feet) and Nez Perce (11,901 feet). Within an hour of their departure, Exum guides Stephen Koch and Mark Newcomb were in their tracks, vying for the same goal. Jackson and Johnstone had failed on the winter traverse two times, Koch four. Jackson and Johnstone had been planning their ascent when Newcomb and Koch, too, realized the weather and avalanche window had opened. Having learned of the others’ plans, they decided to leave the same day. When Newcomb and Koch caught up with Jackson and Johnstone between Teewinot and Owen, it took a moment for the chill to thaw. But the groups soon joined forces, trading trail-breaking duties, and sharing rappel ropes and route-finding decisions. They bivouacked on the Grandstand (12,700 feet) in separate camps, but joined the next morning to ascend the crux Italian Cracks on the Grand’s North Face. Johnstone and Newcomb swapped leads in rock shoes, with Johnstone leading the crux (5.8) in 16-degree weather. The groups then summitted separately, with Jackson and Johnstone stopping at the Lower Saddle, between the Grand and Middle Teton, to use a Park Service cache for a day’s layover, and to dry one of Jackson’s boots. Taking the lead, Newcomb and Koch continued on to Middle Teton, and bivouacked on the South Saddle, spending a miserable night blasted by spindrift. They completed the remaining peaks in full conditions on January 19, descending on skis friends had stashed below Nez Perce. Jackson and Johnstone finished the route the following day—climbing two unnamed towers the others had bypassed—and descended on skis they’d stashed days earlier. “I don’t feel good about claiming the first winter Grand Traverse,” Newcomb said. “I feel like Hans and Renny should have been there. lt really should be all four of us.” —ANGUS M. THUERMER JR.
FROM TOP: TIM MATSUI; JOHN EVANS
GRAND TRAVERSE GETS FIRST WINTER ASCENT(S)
BOOK REVIEW CLASSIC CLIMBS OF THE CORDILLERA BLANCA, By Brad Johnson, $36
fortunately for me, mi andinista amigo had experience traveling in Peru and spoke Spanish. The above three Spanish words— probably wrong anyway—tax my skills and, contrary to what you may have heard, not everyone everywhere speaks English. On many foreign climbing trips, especially to third-world countries, getting from airport to bergschrund is often the crux. All the route beta in the world won’t help if you bumble away your time figuring out how to get around. It therefore seems unfair to label Brad Johnson’s new Classic Climbs of the Cordillera Blanca a “climbing guidebook.” What sets this book, a finalist at the 2003 Banff Mountain Book Festival, apart is its insider scoop gleaned from Johnson’s 19 climbing trips to the Blanca, one of the world’s premier alpine-climbing destinations, with an array of accessible moderate- to high-altitude peaks. This is a coffee-table tome: large format, with clean design, and offering stunning panoramic photography, excellent maps and colorful anecdotes. Those accustomed to paddling up blue tape in the gym might find the descriptions for the 49 selected routes (which vary from basic snow-travel mountaineering to multi-day, technical mixed routes) sparse, but they’re appropriate for mountain routes. The selection is thorough, and the photos gainsay the choices. My only complaint came when encountering Spanish words without definitions: A translated glossary would have helped. Grab a pen and write your own in the back. This book is a vibrant and thoroughly useful guide to the brilliant Cordillera Blanca—even if you aren’t climbing one of the featured routes. Thumbing through it has me scheming, shopping for airfares, and studying my Spanish verbs, which I needed to do anyway. —KELLY CORDES (www.peaksandplaces.com, 970-626-5251.) LAST SUMMER,
BRAD JOHNSON, 48, LIVES IN RIDGEWAY, COLORADO. I’ve heard some climbers complain that the Cordillera Blanca is “climbed out”—is that true? Oh, no, there are lots of new routes to be done. I can think of four—no—five, six, seven—seven major lines that have not been climbed that are big routes, 1,000-meter routes. Are you going to tell me about them? [Laughs] No. Some of them have easy approaches, too. So many climbers seem obsessed with Alpamayo and Huascaran—are they really the best? People go to Huascaran because it’s the highest and Alpamayo because it’s hyped up, but I don’t think they’re the best. [In the Blanca] the normal route on Chopicalqui is one of the best in the range. For ice climbing, I think the west face of Churup is equal to Alpamayo. The south face of Caraz I is 3,000 feet of beautiful ice climbing topped by a couple of mixed pitches, and nobody goes to it, either. The short, often hilarious, stories in your book—like your ride atop a bus beside a tethered goat that kept jumping off— seem to accurately capture the Peruvian experience, especially the transport craziness. Are the stories all true? Every one of them. —K.C.
SPOTLIGHT: Sonnie Trotter Last I saw you was at the Gunks in the fall. How was that trip? Lev and I went into New York City for two hours and we each got a $60 fine on the subway. Jumping a turnstile? No, Lev went first and I just grabbed his ass and went behind him really close. The first time he wasn’t even expecting it. We’re just cheap. The third time, we got caught by three NYPD Blue guys. Any other road-trip shenanigans? I went to jail in Boulder this time last year ... I was making a right turn on a red light, the only one in Boulder where you can’t, and the only car coming was a cop. Then I swerved, following bad directions from my buddy. I think the cop just wanted to get me off the road. I didn’t get out till 5:30 a.m. I was in the drunk tank. I was the biggest loser there because I didn’t really do anything. They were all big guys, every one was drunk, and one had been in a fist fight with a cop. I was handcuffed and booked and everything, and completely forgot I’d stashed a joint behind my ear, and no one noticed.
SONNIE TROTTER IS CANADA’S MOST ACCOMPLISHED HARD-ROCK CLIMBER , having done over 40 5.14s, with two of them, including his recent 5.14+ Forever Expired at Lion’s Head, Ontario, unrepeated first ascents. He gave a lot on Forever Expired—the sharp sound he at first thought was tape ripping was a tearing finger tendon. He had to stop climbing for five weeks, but says, “Climbing the route was well worth it.” At the height of his sport abilities, Trotter this year is eschewing bolts for widgets. On January 17, he led the second ascent of Eric Decaria’s headpoint testpiece You Must Be High (5.13c, very R) at Rincon Wall, Eldorado Canyon. (See Breaking News, page 19, for photo.) Paired with Katie Brown, Trotter is headed for Hueco Tanks, Texas, and El Potrero and El Salto in Mexico, to “really get in shape,” then will commit to trad routes in Indian Creek and Yosemite, and at Squamish. Trotter is congenial and comedic, quick to mimic and role-play. Asked what is the hardest route today, he riffs: “Well, my money is still on Realization [at Ceüse]. I climbed that years ago, way before Chris [Sharma] ever tried it. Chris knows, but we don’t talk about it. That’s what I respect about Chris, he knows his place.” Trotter is from Toronto, and uses his parents’ house for a mailing address. We interviewed the roadtripper, funded through “minor sponsorship and major dirtbagging,” in Boulder.
OK, “Sunshine,” how did you get such a nice nickname when you go around calling Lev Pinter “Punter”?! The truth is, Lev’s original names for me were Slut and Bitch. Good friends can call each other anything. Is Sonnie short for a longer name? That’s my full name, an old Irish name. In 24
ROCKANDICE.COM APRIL 2004
school like a meant “Will I
the kids would say “Su-u-unny,” girl’s name. I thought maybe it I’d be gay. I even asked my dad, be gay when I grow up?” I was 11.
How old are you now? Just turned 24. I’m worried about it. I’m starting to get hair on my chest, hair in my nose. Who knows what might happen next?
Why did you name your route Forever Expired? I’ve gotten to the point in life where I realize nothing lasts forever ... sometimes I’ve had to learn the hard way. Also, it was a 10day project. It took me forever! Forever finally ended. You call that forever? Some people spend three months on a route. When I put energy into a climb I want it to go quickly. I tend to do things I know I can do. That’s why I have yet to try a 5.15. I don’t take bounds, I do increments. That way I stay psyched. What’s your next project? I still love sport climbing, but to be honest, at the moment I’m sick of bolts and small crimps. ... I could (in theory) probably train a little harder and climb 5.15, but I’d much rather focus on another style of climbing. Lately I’ve been getting way more satisfaction from trad climbs. What is the next phase? No more chocolate doughnuts for lunch, all-you-can-eat buffets, drunken late nights. I’m not 19 any more. I can’t be a slacker forever. —ALISON OSIUS
▲ IF HIS NICKNAME IS SUNSHINE, WHY ISN’T HE SMILING?
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...but they don’t have a new ‘Direct Loading’™ axle to minimize leverage and secure the most radical placements!
Being the lightest and smallest cams ever built Zeros do *All weights include sling
REPORT BY ALISON OSIUS
Out of a Clear Blue Sky Rockfall injures woman at base of crag
AFTER TWO BITTER DAYS IN LAS VEGAS, the Saturday after Thanksgiving arrived crisp and sunny, warming up into the mid-60s. By noon, about 20 climbers had convened at the right side of the Brass Wall, Red Rock Conservation Area, a region of varied, though often fragile, sandstone. The Brass Wall, in the Pine Creek area off the Loop Road, hosts mostly one-pitch trad and sport routes. A young woman with a puppy sat at the base, a foot or two from the rock, under a thin tree. About 60 feet above on Sympatico, a trad 5.10b not often climbed, a lead climber reached high for a block, nearly the size of a small microwave oven, that seemed secure. It pulled. He managed to hold on, but the rock split on a ledge, raining dinner-plate- and softball-sized chunks. The woman (who asked not to be PHOTO CAPTION GOES HERE: named) shielded theRIGHT pup, HERE but was hit in the back and shoulder. Kevin Knight, of San Luis Obispo, California, reached the victim in about a minute, finding her conscious. He looked upward for further rockfall danger, then spoke to the woman reassuringly and began checking the ABCs: airway, breathing, circulation. Fortunately, four people at the crag had medical skills. The first to arrive, Knight and another male, a triathlete (name unavailable), had taken wilderness firstresponder courses. A doctor, Joe Pullara from Port Angeles, Washington, quickly arrived with a woman climber (name unavailable) certified in first aid. Pullara’s initial assessment of the woman indicated a collapsed lung, evacuation needed. As nearby climbers looked for cell phones, he asked someone to leave for the trailhead and relay information to a rescue team. (Ironically, everyone at the cliff owned a cell phone, but had left them in cars.) The triathlete pelted the two miles back to the parking area. The other three stabilized the victim’s back and neck, and then, with Caren
Shibata of Victorville, California, moved her as a group, arms locked and in perfect unison, away from the tree and onto her back. A climber handed walkie-talkies to Knight and Pullara, and Knight ran to the cars. At the parking lot he met a search-and-rescue team, who spoke to Pullara through the walkie-talkie, and passed messages to a police helicopter enroute. The helicopter arrived about an hour after the rockfall, and touched down skillfully on one skid amid eight-foot boulders. The crew evacuated the woman. Following concerned inquiries from observers, the victim’s injuries were later listed on www.rockclimbing.com as several broken ribs, a collapsed lung, a broken scapula, and broken spinous processes on some thoracic vertebrae. Despite these injuries, she was out of critical care, and expected to recover fully. Her dog is fine.
LESSONS LEARNED Climbers must rely on each other in emergencies. A wilderness first-responder course ($300 to $600) is recommended for all. The second point is not often discussed. When you are on the ground, your best bet to avoid rockfall is to sit either under, directly against or, if you are not belaying, well away from the wall. The woman in the accident was doing nothing out of the ordinary. How many of us are consistent in moving under or away from crag walls? Moreover, it is often difficult to find a good place to wait: At the Brass Wall the six feet of boulders and dirt ringing the crag immediately give way to steeper terrain. Consider options carefully and be vigilant. A helmet is vital protection, as important for belaying as leading. Rocks often come down when you don’t expect them. Keep an eye on other parties. Be aware that certain cliffs are known for rockfall, especially in the spring. Keep pets and children out from under climbers and the drop zone. Put helmets on children. ◆ ILLUSTRATION BY JEREMY COLLINS
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