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APRIL 2004



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


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


Reinventing the lost art of climbing in the unlikely and remote canopies of Venezuela. BY TAREK MILLERON


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

APRIL 2004




10 EDITORS NOTE Hole new world. Responsible anchor management starts from the ground up.

12 LETTERS 52 EXPOSED Electric imagery—pressing skin to stone.



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


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.


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.


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


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 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


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.


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.


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





Duane Raleigh Tyler Stableford Alison Osius Matt Samet David Clifford Geoff Childs, Mark Eller, Jeff Jackson, John Long, Dave Pegg, Doug Robinson, Pete Takeda, Jon Waterman Barry Blanchard, Andy Dappen, Niall Grimes, Tim Neville Mark Houston, Mike Powers Buck Tilton


Marshall McKinney Bonnie Hofto Quent Williams Jeremy Collins


Lisa Raleigh Joanne Kneafsey Lisen Gustafson Mark Kittay, CPA


Paula Stepp Lindsay Brown Rowan Fryer

1101 Village Road UL-4D, Carbondale, CO 81623 Telephone: 970-704-1442 Fax: 970-963-4965 WARNING! The activities described in Rock & Ice carry a significant risk of personal injury or death. DO NOT participate in these activities unless you are an expert, have sought or obtained qualified professional instruction or guidance, are knowledgeable about the risks involved, and are willing to assume personal responsibility for all risks associated with these activities. ROCK & ICE MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, OF ANY KIND REGARDING THE CONTENTS OF THIS MAGAZINE, AND EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ANY WARRANTY REGARDING THE ACCURACY OR RELIABILITY OF INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN. Rock & Ice further disclaims any responsibility for injuries or death incurred by any person engaging in these activities. Use the information contained in this magazine at your own risk, and do not depend on the information contained in this magazine for personal safety or for determining whether to attempt any climb, route or activity described herein.

The views herein are those of the writers and advertisers; they do not necessarily reflect the views of Rock & Ice’s ownership. • Manuscripts, photographs and correspondence are welcome. Unsolicited materials should be accompanied by return postage. Rock & Ice is not responsible for unsolicited materials. All manuscripts and photographs are subject to Rock and Ice’s terms, conditions and rates.• Please allow up to 10 weeks for the first issue after subscribing or a change of address (to expect continuous service). No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher. © Copyright 2004 by Big Stone Publishing Ltd. Occasionally, we give subscriber names to companies offering products/services in which you may be interested. To remove your name from the list, please contact Rock & Ice Customer Service at 1-877-ROCKICE.





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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.



NORTH SUMMIT 22,841 feet







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.



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.”




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!




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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 to view the final plan, available this spring.


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 22



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.




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 (, 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


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



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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 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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Am I missing something, or is upward progress on big walls excruciatingly slow? I feel like I spend most of my time untangling myself. How can I streamline my systems? LARRY FLEMBER, DRIGGS, IDAHO

BIG-WALL CLIMBING MIGHT BE THE SLOWEST form of human locomotion, though it need not be excruciating. But put a couple of Big-Wall Theorists, and a hundred pounds of nylon, aluminum and steel onto a three-bolt hanging belay a few pitches up, and you’ll quickly understand how bigwall belays generate entropy—a spontaneous tendency toward disorder. Without warning, your Coefficient of Wank spirals out of control and you find yourself immersed in complete and utter chaos—something we Wall Doctors call a clusterfrig. Follow these simple tips and you can tame that crabby Charlie Foxtrot before it consumes you. CLEAN AS YOU RACK Nothing wastes more time at belay changeovers than sorting a snafu’d snarl of cleaned gear. Instead of willy-nilly slapping cleaned gear on a sling, rack as you clean. After you remove a placement from the rock, separate it into its respective components (rack the nut with nuts, sling with slings, cam with cams, and so on). Rack your free biners in “trees” of seven, and rack your pins on ovals for easy on/off access. This process takes a few extra seconds on the front end, but is ultimately faster. COLOR CODE Color-coding with tape and spray paint works temporal miracles by making each piece instantly recognizable. For example, paint all 3/4-inch angles black and rack them together. Then use a blue locker on top of the blue haul line, red crabs on the red Aliens, etc. You get the idea. BAG IT At the belay, flaking ropes through a sling inevitably causes snarls. Letting your ropes dangle is also a recipe for disaster: The Wind Corollary of Murphy’s Law states that an unattended rope shall be blown horizontally, to irretrievably snag. Rope bags keep your ropes under control, saving time. Get yourself one rope bag per lead rope and per haul line. Stack the lead rope in the lead bag as soon as you pull it up from the lower pitch. When you haul, as you reel in rope, stack it in its rope bag. Simple. AVOID ENTRAPMENT Finally, maintain your “degrees of freedom” at your belay station— don’t clip more than one thing onto any one carabiner. Too much stuff clipped to a single biner will exponentially increase your Wank Factor. Often it’s impossible to undo one thing because another thing has weighted and pinned it. Dr. Piton calls this phenomenon “enhosement,” but it is easily avoided by having scores of free biners and slings—it’s impossible to have too many of either—and always clipping one thing to another with some forethought as to how and when you will unclip it.

HEAVY DOES IT What kind of hammer should I get—heavy or light? I can swing a light hammer all day, but it seems to take more effort to clean welded pins. NEIL TUCKER, COXSACKIE, NEW YORK NAILING IS RATHER LIKE GOLFING —you

have to let your tool do the work. Even wienerarmed climbers like Dr. Piton use a heavy hammer because, with it, you can create more impact force. Imagine trying to drive a tent stake into frozen ground. Which



would you rather have: a tiny ball-peen hammer or a mini sledge? It’s hard to improve on the Black Diamond Yosemite Hammer—just the right weight, a good ol’ hickory handle and a hole in the head to clip your funkness device. With a hammer of this heft, you can pound those pitons home (and bang them loose) with only a few deftly driven strokes. You’ll find it really helps if you aim.

BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN I was in Yosemite last summer, and saw people using a “Russian-aider” system, which incorporated hooks strapped to the insides of your knees. The hooks slipped into titanium rings on a daisy-chain-like strap that you clipped to the placements. What are the benefits to this system? RANDY WENZEL, FRESNO, CALIFORNIA THE RUSSKIES EMPLOY A compact stirrup assembly that you attach to your legs and wear all day. This setup reduces your clusterfrig substantially by eliminating aiders. But, the huge advantage is that you can top-step like never before. The heel-knee camming action (analogous to what you get with high-topped downhill-ski boots) allows you to easily extend your reach by a foot or more on every move. Russian aiders are positively amazing on steep terrain. Unfortunately, Trango no longer makes these devices, so if you can find any, buy ’em. The Doc emphatically believes Russian Aiders are the Better Way, and boldly predicts that they will soon become standard aid-climbing gear, catching on just like adjustable daisies. ◆

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PLANET Guilty Pleasures

Violating sacrosanct trad ethics was, ironically, liberating climbing daily at Red Rocks and plowing through nights at dead-end jobs. After roughly 10 seasons of climbing 300 days a year, my learning curve had flattened and I found myself singing the same old song. To outrun this, I kept switching venues rather than instruments. Although I didn’t yet know it, everything would change the next summer during a filming gig at Venezuela’s Angel Falls, a jungle gusher sufficient to deliver me into television production and book writing. Never again would I climb full time. Several years later, Lynn joined the international competitive circuit, and we all know the rest. But that winter in Vegas found us in flux, searching for direction. Soon we’d find our separate ways, but before leaving Vegas for good, we’d also find the archetype of the nascent American sportclimbing revolution. If ever an area lent itself to sport climbing, it’s Red Rocks, but 20-odd years ago, the idea of gym-bolting the now-popular sport areas never crossed our minds. We still followed a traditional approach. Bigger and bolder always meant better, so partly from a sense of duty, but more from force of habit, we focused on the many unclimbed, thousand-foot crack systems that slashed a half-dozen canyon walls. Only later would we realize that the classical “trad” days were all but over. Since arriving in Vegas a few months before, we’d established a handful of long free climbs, often scaring ourselves stiff. Trying to limit bolts and pitons, or avoid them altogether—a half-mad tactic on the sheer, friable sandstone—we’d sometimes find ourselves belayed to





cosmetic nuts and running out the rope on steep, iffy rock. On the steeper lines, busting out onto the face was generally suicidal. The red sandstone offered ample holds, but usually ran too steep for lead bolting. On one route, Negro Blanco by name, Lynn traversed from a bombay chimney onto the terrible face, busted a hold, and logged an airball screamer for the ages. Only a small Hex in the guts of a grainy flare stopped her from smashing into the boulders from 60 feet. We had enough other frightful episodes that the most startling lines—massive, surging faces upwards of 1,000 feet—remained futuristic projects to gaze up at in wonder. Then we met local climbers Jorge and Joanne Urioste, who back then comprised roughly a third of the hardcore Red Rocks climbing fraternity. Jorge knew a great line when he saw one, and he saw plenty. He also understood that the old trad rules could dash a free climber into a porcelain urn should he try to lead those tempting unclimbed faces. So Jorge began leading would-be face climbs on aid, installing bolts at convenient places—hardly a new tactic, though usually applied only to brief holdless sections of short testpieces, and, to my knowledge, never before the MO on what essentially were miniature wall climbs. Jorge would dress the pitch, then Joanne would work the moves on a toprope till she could free-climb the whole enchilada in one go. The bolting went slowly and the climbing more slowly ILLUSTRATION BY JEREMY COLLINS

PLANET LARGO: GUILTY PLEASURES yet. An anthropology professor at UNLV, Jorge enjoyed limited free time, so his ascents entailed miles of fixed ropes— meaning Jorge would siege each climb till the bolts were placed and Joanne had free-followed every move. Joanne would often need multiple days to free a single pitch, some of which were upper-end 5.11. Once the climb was “done,” Joanne would return with another free climber and tick the redpoint. Not surprisingly, the few Red Rocks locals were put off by the Uriostes’ disregard for traditional style, a style that kept adrenaline levels high but also kept us in the cracks. I’ve probably wasted half my life on jackass pursuits, but I’ve never bothered to tell others how to climb, or live, or die. Nevertheless, Jorge’s tactics privately confounded me. As I scratched my head in the scree fields, Jorge quickly bagged a slew of outstanding lines. Though a few of Jorge’s routes looked as if he’d loaded a Gatlin gun with quarter-inch bolts and stitched a 1,000-foot vertical face from bottom to top, Jorge did all his drilling by hand. More often than not, the climbing on his creations rocked. In fact, the few times Lynn and I repeated a Urioste composition, the

climbing was surreal. So accustomed were we to shouldering a bulky rack and placing gear that casting off with nothing but quickdraws, and clipping bolts every eight feet, fel t almost illegal. The experience immediately cast me onto the indefinite ground between two worlds: one known and established, the other a strange but alluring universe where fun meant everything and fear counted for nothing. No question, Jorge had queered the very rules I’d slavishly followed since first roping up. Other climbers with more natural courage or recklessness embodied the old trad ethic with native ease. But not me. In uncanny, elusive moments, I could get after it like a Bengal tiger; generally, however, whenever I started redlining, only devotion to the classical verities kept me in line. I fudged those rules, certainly, but trying to maintain an idealized level of boldness had set my experience on fire. So to see Jorge engineering the jeopardy out of the game was both perplexing and enticing. I didn’t know whether to shit or get a haircut. That year, Jorge and Joanne were working on their biggest, steepest, most outlandish climb yet, a varicolored, 1,100-foot convex plaque towering over

the tumble of Oak Creek Canyon, several twisting miles into the Red Rocks’ backcountry. They’d pushed the route about 500 feet. On several sections, Joanne hadn’t yet attempted to free-follow, though Jorge thought it possible to free most, if not all, of the climbing up to their high point. Possibly because Lynn and I were two of the few active climbers in the area, more likely because we lived a few blocks from the Uriostes, Jorge invited us to explore the free-climbing prospects. The expedition felt odd from the start. I wasn’t used to someone so thoroughly setting my table, and during the two-hour slog into the cliff I felt a like vagrant poised to crash a luau once the chief breaks out the pig. The strange angles of both Oak Creek Canyon and the surrounding bluffs made everything appear askew, and we couldn’t get a coherent fix on the wall until nearly reaching the base: It looked similar, in length and angle, to the business section of the Prow on Washington Column. I figured we’d get hosed at a jutting roof, 100 feet above. Maybe sooner. Lynn led the first pitch, a steepening ramp/corner flush with that glassy, black desert varnish that earmarks the slickest stone on earth. She quickly pawed to the

GUILTY PLEASURES: PLANET LARGO belay and yelled down, “Easy 5.10.” Joanne and I followed. Above the first belay, the wall jacked up to dead V, and I cautiously worked over blocks and eyebrow roofs that looked grim from below but passed at 5.9. Hanging off a jug, I gazed at the ladder of quarter-inch bolts cutting around the roof to the headwall

into shade, I felt as if we were climbing on a wall triple the size. Dangling from those initial sling belays, we’d peer up, doubting we could climb 10 more feet, only to find hold after bomber hold, with ready bolts to clip. After a few leads I found myself charging with more momentum than I’d felt in several years.

She stemmed her left leg out at about chin level, TOEING OFF SOMETHING I COULDN’T HAVE SEEN WITH THE HUBBLE TELESCOPE. I sighed once more. I would never walk again if I tried that move. I WAS FINISHED. above. A bomber Friend to supplement the bolts, a big stretch, one heaving layback, then incuts to a hanging belay. Maybe 5.11a, but exciting with those quarter-inchers. The next lead looked like 5.10 yet provided the only easy (5.8) pitch on the lower wall, following generous rails and passing a regular cavalcade of those quarter-inchers. Somewhere during that pitch I realized we were onto something rare. The cliff was as steep as a skyscraper. Because the route began halfway up a high canyon rampart, resting above a long approach slab spilling

Following our unlikely success on the lower pitches I’d achieved that suave flow where you can motor for miles, and cast off on the next lead at speed. The route had, so far, traced intermittent cracks, which abruptly thinned to a shadow; for unknown reasons Jorge had skimped on the bolts. Though only on rock-bottom 5.10, I found myself a good ways out on a quarter-inch “coffin nail,” pulling on vertical rock that would require 50 ascents to totally clean up. Then an easy crack led to another sling belay beneath a headwall. I lashed off, leaned back, and started

laughing. I’d never climbed anything remotely like this. After the first pitch, the nut and cam placements had largely dried up. If Jorge hadn’t pre-rigged the bolts, we wouldn’t have made it past 200 feet. And for Jorge to have beat himself raw with all that drilling, and then for us to waltz in ... Well, I could have kissed the man. Almost. Far below, arid, brown plains—today a solid grid of pre-fab homes and soulless office plazas—swept gently into the gaudy Las Vegas Strip, 25 miles and a world away. Just above, a thin, bottoming gash snaked up a bulging piebald wall, occasional bolts festooning both sides. This looked hard and sustained. It was Lynn’s lead, and I was glad. Flexible folk are rarely strong and strong folk are rarely flexible, but Lynn has a wealth of both qualities, and I always had to lump it. As she steadily bridged, Gastoned, crimped and jammed up the pitch, the rope hanging free between bolts, Joanne and I sighed, wondering how we’d manage. Every so often, between bolts, Lynn would slot a wire or plug in a small Friend. Then the rock bulged slightly, and she started cranking for keeps. She stemmed her left leg out at about chin level, toeing off something I

PLANET LARGO couldn’t have seen with the Hubble Telescope. I sighed once more. I would never walk again if I tried that move. I was finished. “You bring the jugs?” I asked Joanne. “Nope.” “What the hell were you thinking?” “I think she’s got it now,” said Joanne, craning to see Lynn 100 feet above. “It eases there.” Fortunately, I have a three-foot reach advantage on Lynn Hill, and could stretch past the Chinese acrobat moves, thieving by on sidepulls and shallow jams. The pitch felt about 5.11c and, the few wires and cams notwithstanding, perfectly replicated a modern sportclimbing pitch, save that it hung halfway up a wall and actually had holds. The fixed ropes ended here, with 300 vertical feet looming above. Much as we wanted to press on and bag the whole climb, without Jorge’s first installing another stack of bolts, we had no chance. It crossed my mind to grab our little rack, cast off, and hope for the best, but the next few hundred feet looked bulging, bald and periodically loose. And even if I had a bolt kit, the steepness shot down any chance of lead bolting without aid slings. Yet, with luck, and a few more days of toil, the whole mother might go free, a concept so wonderful that, down at the base, I suggested Jorge immediately get back to work. A short, stout man with the perseverance of an Andean mountaineer—which he’d been in the Bolivia of his youth—Jorge finished bolting a month or so later. The next weekend found Lynn, Joanne and me back at the highpoint. I remember some reachy 5.10 face work on the sixth pitch, and how the rope dangled in space as I belayed the girls up. Pitch seven looked improbable, wandering a bit and working through several projecting white ribs. Lynn got that one and she got a dandy—and scary as well. Most every long Red Rocks route passes through a vein of choss, with a few gong-like flakes. The wall kicked back for good maybe 50 feet above. If Lynn could smuggle past this last bulge, we were home free. LYNN HILL. WE CALLED HER “LITTLE LYNNY.”

She was a prodigy and everyone knew as much. She carried her gift with quiet ease rather than chest pounding or feigned, awe-shucks humility. Twenty years ago, no female had ever climbed remotely as well as the best guys, so

when Lynn began dusting us off—which she did with maddening frequency— folks offered up all kinds of fatuous explanations. Some diehards refused to believe a woman, and a five-foot article at that, could possibly be so good. Out at Josh, it was said Lynn shone owing to quartz monzonite’s superior friction, which catered to her bantam weight. In Yosemite, her success apparently hinged on midget hands, which fit wonderfully into the infernal thin cracks. On limestone, she could plug three fingers into pockets where the rest of us managed two. In the desert Southwest, she enjoyed an alliance with coyotes—or maybe shape-shifters. Even after a heap of World Cup victories, it still took the climbing world an age to accept Lynn as the Chosen One, and perhaps her legacy was never established, once and for all, till she freeclimbed the Nose. From the early days in Red Rocks, it would take her several years to become “the” Lynn Hill. Nevertheless, she was always a supernova, especially on that funky pitch way up what would become the seminal Levitation 29. “Watch me!” Lynn yelled as she laybacked up a sandbar, her feet pasted at shoulder height. Ten more feet and Lynn pulled onto easier ground. Modern topos call this pitch 5.10+, but it’s basically unratable, what with the band of loose, white rock and the bizarre, sideways moves. An easy crack led a few hundred feet to the top. We rapped the route, stripping the fixed lines. All the way back to the car and for several days afterwards I felt that electric glow that follows a royal adventure. Sure, I’d climbed walls that long and that steep, but never out on the bold face, unheard-of in those days and unique to my experience. I can’t remember if it was Joanne’s 29th birthday, or if that came shortly afterwards, but it factored into naming the climb Levitation 29. I hear the route’s seen a thousand ascents, and that it’s cleaned up nicely. Over the radio today I heard Sarah Vaughn singing a classic Hammerstein lyric, which ran, “When I grow too old to dream, I’ll have you to remember.” The majestic hike in, the soaring wall and the radiance of scaling that great stone wave are going the way of all memories. But a faint, visceral thrill of roving the open face, pulling for joy, starry eyed and amazed to be alive, will remain with me always. ◆



... bring lawyers, GUNS & money Ron Olevsky is giving . it to you Straight .. h ne raleig a u d y b w ie v inter photographs by Patrick Hayes



e ol vs ky

The Olevsky Files

to Olevsky’s ol headmaster e Hackley Scho nior year. th se m s fro hi r for te let rn Actual t allowed to retu no s wa y sk ev mother. Ol

“Since I see aid as merely prosthetic free climbing, with the gear becoming an extension of the body, a bolt in a drilled hole is ethically no worse than a finger in a drilled pocket.” —RON OLEVSKY


on Olevsky is, arguably, climbing’s most contentious climber. This may be the only thing about this prolific desert rat that everyone can agree on. Not that he will necessarily care what you think. Engage the 49-year old Olevsky and you get the impression that he believes he is unequivocally right and his ideology will save climbing. He doesn’t minces words and commands an attorney’s gift for debate—or obfuscation if he doesn’t want you to know the answer to a particular question. With the possible exception of Warren Harding, few, if any, climbers have had such strong opinions on topics that range from drilling finger holes, to the evolution of anti-climbing rangers, to legally branding route names as intellectual property (his attorney once instructed Rock and Ice to never again publish Olevsky routes without his permission). Few, if any, climbers rile and rankle like Olevsky. “He’s an iconoclast,” says the desert climber Steve “Crusher” Bartlett. “He breaks the mold.” Although Olevsky can come across as fearsome, a fact that causes some climbers to step clear of him, he is easy to misread. Once—and he doesn’t want you to know this—he paid an ailing friend’s delinquent electric bill of several hundred dollars. Why should you care what Olevsky thinks? Because in the 35 years he’s been climbing, he has amassed more first ascents of desert walls and towers than anyone to ever lace up rock boots. He was the first up the Charlie Horse, the Warlock, the Witch, Monitor, Merrimac and others. He put up—usually solo—the bulk of Zion’s mega-classics including Touchstone Wall, Space Shot, Monkey Finger Wall and Prodigal Sun. “For Ron,” says friend and climbing partner Jim Donini, “technical difficulty is not the issue, it’s finding a remote tower that no one has set eyes on, and being the first one to the top regardless of the difficulty.” Critics say that Olevsky’s clean-aid ethos, which includes fixing all 38


pins and sculpting pin placements into nut placements so future parties can leave their hammers at home, “dumbs down” what would be difficult wall routes. Others take issue with any rock alteration. “Ron is trying to create clean climbs so that routes won’t get beaten into oblivion,” says the big-waller Mark Synnott. “However ... Chipping, carving or sculpting rock is wrong any way you slice it.” The legions who repeat Olevsky’s big routes tout his climbs as among the finest and best preserved desert outings possible, and say his angle on climbing clean has merit. Chris McNamara, a longtime Yosemite climber who has climbed several Olevsky routes, agrees with at least one aspect of his thinking, saying, “Olevsky’s movement toward constructive scarring was a big step toward taking care of the fragile sandstone walls.” Olevsky, an avowed Libertarian, carries a copy of the United States Constitution in his car to wave at nosy law enforcement officers. He is a strong proponent of the Second Amendment right to bear arms, and tales of him and hot lead abound. Donini will tell you about the night he and Bartlett hooked up with Olevsky and ripped off “at least 600 rounds.” Jim Bridwell once visited Olevsky and ended up in a target shoot, trading groupings with a Remington .223. “I put three shots inside a 14mm circle at 80 meters,” says Olevsky, “then handed the rifle to Bridwell, who promptly upstaged me with a 12.5mm group. Very rude! Doesn’t he know it is polite to deliberately blow one shot with the other guy’s rifle?” Off the rock, Olevsky owns pieces of some 40 businesses and

TWO RIGHTS MAKE A RON: Olevsky, exercising the Second Ammendment right with a Mac-11. HOME SCHOOL: The Libertarian doing his homework.

supports the climbing community. A member of the American Mountain Guide Association (AMGA) since the mid-1980s, he was among the first person to complete its rock-certification program, and created a grant to subsidize other candidates. He has also established the Lamon Fund, a $10,000 scholarship named after his grandfather—a gambler, philanderer and successful diamond speculator—for climbers pursuing land-management degrees. Currently, Olevsky is working on an instructional aid-climbing video with Jeff Lowe. For Olevsky, climbing is art, a complex philosophy with roots back to his childhood. He was born to Jewish-European immigrant parents, Yvonne and Julian, the latter a child-prodigy violinist in the late 1930s and 1940s. A “monster player on his Stradivarius,” according to one critic, Julian commanded “a brilliant style, flawless bow arm, and a lush, romantic tone.” He made more than 40 records during his career. Olevsky, intimidated by his father’s ability, never picked up the violin. Instead, during a 1968 trip to Switzerland he caught his first glimpse of the Matterhorn out a ski plane window. Stunned by the beauty of the mountain, he tied into climbing and hasn’t looked back since. Here, Olevsky speaks for the first time, unplugged and on the record.

HIGH-CALIBER ARTIST (below): Julian Olevsky, Ron’s father and world-famous violinist, with his Stradivarius and custom .458 elephant gun. MOVING: On his Pygmy Alien (5.8), a popular line in Snow Canyon, Utah.



that he put up something like 3,000 routes—he knew exactly. I never will. Certainly, my number of first ascents is well into the hundreds. For me it’s about quality rather than quantity ... but the world’s greatest murderer** had a point when he said “Quantity has a quality all its own.” People will probably still be finding the ones I haven’t written up long after I’ve “become one with the talus.” *Harvey T. Carter was one of desert climbing’s original pioneers, with first ascents of Kingfisher, Cottontail, Echo and Oracle towers in Utah’s notoriously loose Fisher Towers. **Joseph Stalin, leader of the USSR from 1929 until his death in 1963, is widely recognized as being directly responsible for 43 million deaths, the majority Soviet, and the most in recorded history.

fixed anchors or a little bit of subtle rock modification can serve to preserve a valuable experience for coming generations. On the softer rock of the desert, such results become apparent that much faster. I don’t advocate scarring, but recognize that it exists when pitons are hammered into cracks. That being the case, I feel that if pitons are used then it must be with a vision of producing a hammerless route. To say that it is the next party’s problem is myopic and irresponsible, the very embodiment of poor environmental policy using performance and adventure as a smoke screen for the selfishness that produces the negatively erosional process. If you use conventional nailing with no concept or intent of creating a route that will last indefinitely, and are just concerned with your own experience, then you are part of the problem, not the solution. To this I could certainly add that our publications need to reflect a shift from a celebration of climbing to a celebration of the routes we climb. *The “NA” (VI 5.8 A3 or C3, first climbed, in 1964, by Royal Robbins, Chuck Pratt, Tom Frost and Yvon Chouinard, was the first route on El Cap’s formidable southeast face. Since then, the NA has been nailed perhaps a thousand times, and now has a free variation.

ON ROCK ALTERATION was first climbed it was the highwater mark of aid climbing, but I’ve heard that recently the pin scars are so huge people are now hammering softballs wrapped with webbing into the craters. Do we have to sacrifice our classic routes to enjoy them and see where the pioneers first went? I think we should be willing to make some compromises. Sometimes a few


ROUTE PRESERVATION EVEN IF [ROYAL] ROBBINS HAS ABANDONED IT, I still believe in the first-ascent principle. You don’t alter someone’s route. Don’t remove or add to an existing one. If you don’t like a route, go and put up a better one. To me this principle should apply to all kinds of routes, aid or free, traditional or not. 2004 APRIL ROCKANDICE.COM


RON’S RAP SHEET (*route grades are original)

Unfortunately, sandstone is so soft that even free climbing can wear it down. Some of my face climbs have jumped several grades as a result of heavy use. Perhaps the worst cases occur when critical handholds are also used as footholds. Deliberate rock alteration—if done with care—offers the potential to restore route viability to people whose skills would have allowed them to experience the original climb. In some cases the key could be to create finger pockets in places that don’t serve well as footholds. Since I see aid as merely prosthetic free climbing, with the gear becoming an extension of the body, a bolt in a drilled hole is ethically no worse than a finger in a drilled pocket. More importantly, it is no better, either. Both are alterations of the rock. People who argue that bolts have been traditionally accepted aren’t looking back too far. There was a time when any anchor device was controversial and ropes were used to make certain you didn’t fall alone. It’s called a learning curve. To truly implement the values that I employ, others would also have to place the quality of the route and the ability of yet others to enjoy it in a likewise manner higher in priority than their own personal experience.

ON PACKING HEAT Yeah right, only at home where I can always be found wearing a silk ascot, a Desert Eagle .50 and a bulletproof smoking jacket.


WHAT’S WITH THE SOLOING? MORE OFTEN THAN NOT I rope solo out of convenience. Soloing has the obvious advantages: You aren’t restricted by your partner’s scheduling, you don’t have to rush when you want to kick back, and there’s no partner to drop your favorite piece. There’s no rope drag (if you’re careful), or anyone to disagree with over where you want to go. Soloing teaches you to appreciate a belay, and if you don’t need 40


Pervertical Sanctuary (lower and upper wall) (VI 5.10 A2/3), Longs Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park. Bob Dodds, 7/1975. Touchstone Wall (V 5.9 A3+), Cerberus Gendarme, Zion National Park. Now goes clean. Solo, 1/1977. Dorn Direct (VI 5.9 A4), El Capitan, Yosemite National Park. Tony Yaniro, 7/1977. Dream of Dead Horses (IV 5.7 A3), Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah. Solo, 3/1978. Monkeyfinger Wall (V 5.9 A2), Zion Canyon, Zion National Park. Rob Schnelker (guided), 5/1978. Now goes clean. Archangel (VI 5.9 A4), Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park. Solo (7 days), 10/1978. Suburban Blondes (IV 5.10 A2), Minotaur, Zion National Park. Scott Fischer (Fischer took a real screamer, falling 65 feet on the 700-foot tower), 4/1979. Space Shot (V 5.7 A2), Leaning Wall, Zion National Park. Mark Pey, 11/1980. Now goes clean. Gentleman’s Agreement (V 5.9 A2), Mount Nemea, Zion National Park. Danny Farber, Andy Walker, 3/1981. Prodigal Sun (V 5.9 A3), Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park. Solo, 9/1981. Now goes clean. The Original Route, Moses, Canyonlands National Park. First hammerless ascent. Solo, 10/1981. Angeline (V 5.9 A2), Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park. Solo, 3/1983. Catharsis (V 5.9 C2), satellite summit of Timbertop Mesa, Zion National Park. First desert Grade V established “Hammered Anchors Fixed When Necessary (HAFWeN). Mark Pey, 9/1983. Thunderbird Wall (VI 5.9 A3), Timber Top Mesa, Zion National Park. Earl Redfern, 9/1986. Iron Messiah (V 5.9; 5 nuts used for aid), Spearhead, Zion National Park. Solo, 4/1988. Sheer Lunacy (V 5.7 C2; est. HAFWeN), Zion National Park. Solo, 8/1992. Treasure of the Gods (V- 5.9 C1; est. HAFWeN), Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park. Solo, 11/1994. Sunlight Buttress (V 5.9 A2; est. HAFWeN), Paria Point, Zion National Park. Charlie Fowler, Steve Johnson, 9/1995. Lamb in Paradise (IV 5.8 C1; est. HAFWen), Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park. Solo, 5/1996.

ALWAYS ON THE PROWL: Olevsky scoping new-route potential on the massive Timber Top Mesa in southwest Utah, home of his grade VI Thunderbird Wall.

a partner you can choose the partners you really want. I’m pretty good at math, but still don’t quite understand how this works. Roped soloing is three times the work, and five times the challenge, but yields 10 times the reward.

CLEAN CLIMBING DEFINED that alters the rock—especially hammers—to place or remove anchors. Hammerless is better—it means hammerless, as in no hammers present (even hidden in the pack just in case). Climbers are very goal oriented, and few recognize that climbing hammerless shows a higher level of commitment than merely climbing clean, sort of third classing with the potential for a serious but not fatal fall. If, as in free climbing, the goal was to do the route in a specific style and refrain from certain acts, or if climbing was viewed as a way to enjoy the beauty of a specific route rather than a way to “perform,” then of course my clean tactics would catch on. Obviously, pin scars in hard rock have proven to be an effective source of nut placements. The problem is that they occur or do not occur without design. By then, almost everyone has had a hand in “manufacturing” the route, and when everyone is the author, then there is no author, no uniformity of intent. Clean routes just happen or the climb continues to degrade. What’s worse is that all too often they continue to degrade anyway.


IT’S ART CLIMBING IS MORE THAN RECREATION. It is more than a personal learn-

ing experience. It is more than exploration and expansion of human

knowledge. At its best, climbing is inspiration and art.

SILENCING THE CRITICS clean- and fixed-gear tactics “dumb down” routes are a laugh—they are repeat ascentionists. My ethic includes stepping onto a questionable clean anchor a full rope length out. That should sharpen your attention, ratings-wise. As for people who say that needed pin scars or fixed gear remove a sense of adventure for subsequent parties, what do they expect? They chose an existing route! It’s as silly as renaming routes where, before one even sets foot on, it is known that whatever hasn’t already gone free at least has body-weight anchor potential. The practice is merely ego masturbation. I’m all for recording first free ascents as well as first hammerless ascents, but let’s have a sense of perspective and keep history in mind, for the same reasons the use of fixed gear doesn’t have to mean wimping out. It can be a pathway for people to build the skills with which to put up new routes. There’s your feakin’ adventure. ...


REGRETS? PLENTY. BUT WHEN I START THINKING about all the friends and partners not around anymore, lesser regrets seem petty.

hour away, and I drove over Lee Pass awestruck, feeling like Howard Carter on 11/4/22 when he discovered Tut’s tomb. Of course Jeff [Lowe], George [Lowe] and others had been doing things for six years already, but to me it was just miles of blank canvas waiting for that first brush stroke.

O’S SECRET CRAGS and some of the adjoining terrain is so easily damaged that until I’m either confident that climbers have a handle on preserving it or too senile to competently enjoy them by myself, I’ll keep a few places sub rosa. Then there are some places that protect themselves. I would almost welcome the hordes to Valley of Fire, but in the end would regret it.


WHERE ARE AMERICA’S BEST AREAS? THE DESERT HAS CACTUS SPINES, scorpions, terrible rock, intense heat, rattlesnakes, mirages, not enough water (or way too much), plague-ridden vermin, some really nasty bugs, and while there aren’t a great many people, some of them are dangerously stupid; so the best climbing area in the United States is probably the Valley, or Devil’s Lake or maybe someplace in Maine. ...

ON LIFE IN UTAH HARD AID FOR BIG EGOS in opening up new routes, but if pursued as an end rather than a means (as some egocentric climbers will), then it will turn out to be a dead end. “HARD” AID CERTAINLY HAS ITS PLACE

FIRST ZION IMPRESSION THE FIRST VIEW I HAD OF ZION PARK was of Paria through the gap while on I-15. It was unexpected, as the main canyon was still an

legalized gambling, the sale of alcohol is dealt with strangely, people who attempt to legally sell erotica or some smoking supplies are often run out of town, and you have to know the secret handshake. I won’t tell you what I do to get by, but the Nazis killed 70 percent of European Jews, and my parents escaped and became U.S. citizens. Things would have to get much worse before I would leave Utah. The climbing is fantastic, but (continued on page 87)


6,500 Vertical Feet >>

THE NORTHWEST FACE OF DEVILS THUMB: Alaska’s tallest unclimbed wall. Note the tracks.

Devils’ the


14 Attempts >> 14 Failures >> 3 Deaths


Unclim6-^ a6le? By Pete Takeda

“If someone succeeds, it’s just a failed suicide attempt.” DEVILS THUMB SUITOR


brimming with six weeks of provisions, skied east up Alaska’s Baird Glacier from a boat drop on Thomas Bay. After about 10 miles, they turned south into the Witches Cauldron, a glacial cirque lined with sharp, avalanche-prone peaks, and towed their gear to the valley’s dead end. Guy Edwards, John Millar and Kai Hirvonen stood panting below one of America’s last unclimbed walls: the Northwest Face of Devils Thumb (9,077 feet). Rising 6,500 feet above the glacier, twice the height of El Capitan, the wall hulked, menacing—a black-gneiss ogre heavy with shifting seracs and loose rock. Edwards, 30, and Millar, 24, had been to this spot before. A year prior, in May 2002, the two Canadians had arrived below the Northwest Face, where they endured 15 continuous days of rain and snow in the tent before calling it quits. During that trip, the wall’s oversized geometry etched itself sharply into Edwards’ mind. He called it, “One of the largest prizes I know of ... the Devil’s own face.” In 2003, they invited Hirvonen, 33, of Vancouver, as a third member, and came a month earlier, hoping to capitalize on colder temperatures, which would paste ice—faster and safer to climb— to the crumbly stone. “I was overwhelmed by how much objective hazard there was,” Hirvonen says, recalling his first view of the wall. “I’ve never been to so loud a place in my life—a serac would go off every two to three hours, and there was an avalanche every 45 minutes.” The three established basecamp on the glacier roughly a mile and a half below the peak, near their 2002 tent site—just far enough away to avoid any avalanche debris. Hirvonen, Edwards and Millar studied the Northwest Face for

two days, cracking jokes while they packed and re-packed their loads for what they estimated would be a three-day ascent. “Everything I saw on the face looked climbable,” says Hirvonen. “It looked in great shape ... and we planned strategy. We even talked about climbing the Burkett Needle [a nearby rock pillar] next. ... The weather was just that good.” Despite the laughter in camp, Hirvonen couldn’t shake his fears about the route’s objective danger. “Guy and John were their typical jovial selves: They were where they wanted to be,” he later wrote. “On the other hand, I was battling some internal demons. This was by far the biggest and most serious climb I had ever thought of attempting, and boy was I scared. ... If Guy and John secretly felt some of my fear or apprehension ... their faces never let on.” On their second day in camp, Hirvonen flip-flopped five times about whether or not to go. “That night,” he says, “I decided yes.” The team broke camp at 9 p.m. the next day, April 13, just as the glacier re-froze from the day’s thaw. As they stepped into their skis, Edwards said, “Let’s go climb this thing so no one else has to.” When they reached the wall’s avalanche-runout zone, however, Hirvonen broke. “Something just unconsciously came out,” he says. “It was overwhelming, like I wasn’t controlling what was coming out of my mouth. I said something to the effect of, ‘You know, this is too dangerous. It isn’t worth it.’” After a brief redistribution of gear, Hirvonen bade his friends goodbye and skied back to basecamp. “Never once did they make me feel bad for my decision,” Hirvonen wrote. “They were very supportive, the way friends are supposed to be, and for that I owe them my life.” Back at basecamp, around midnight, Hirvonen spotted the tiny


THE HISTORY OF ATTEMPTS ON NORTH AMERICA’S MOST FORMIDABLE FACE BY DIETER KLOSE There is no historical parallel to this one among the great mountain faces of the world; the Northwest Face of the Devils Thumb stands alone. Few, if any, faces have seen such great interest with such minor results. Although its history has been likened to that of the North face of the Eiger, there is little comparison. In the 25 years ensuing the first attempt on the Eigerwand, it had received over 100 ascents. In the 25 years since the first attempt on the Devils’ face, it has yet to be probed beyond its halfway mark. Given all of the worthy and cunning alpinists who have visited the Witches Cauldron with eyes for this alpine plum, scarce few have set foot upon it. Three of those who spent more than an hour on the face died. Although most of the parties listed below never launched a true attempt, they deserve recognition as suitors because they went there hoping to be the lucky ones.


1977 (Early August)

1977 (Mid August)

A note in the B.C. Mountaineer, Volume 54, mentions a party “under the north face of Devils Thumb.” No further details are available.


BOB PLUMB AND DAVE STUTZMAN. Planning to go up the lower Northwest

wall virtually devoid of snow or ice and with no obvious lines up the apparently rotten rock, the trio opted for a line heading to the west buttress, along the couloir on the righthand margin of the face. Fixing ropes on an adjacent buttress below the Witches’ Tits, they traversed leftward onto the Northwest Face. While the three were soloing, tragedy struck: Nichols, apparently hit by a rock, fell to his death.

Face via an hourglass couloir toward the North Pillar, the pair was quickly stymied by rotten rock, waterfalls and rockfall. Due to the poor conditions on the lower face, they traversed left into the adjacent icefall, onto the icecap, and thence onto the North Pillar. In four days they completed a hammerless first ascent of the North Pillar, all under clear skies. Stutzman died in 1982, hit by an avalanche while skiing in Montana.



Of the two parties who have spent more than one hour on the Direct NW Face (Bearzi/Klose, Edwards/Millar), one was killed.






The north side of Devils Thumb, with the North Pillar and the 6,500-vertical-foot Northwest Face. A. Sammy Serac. B. The last seen point of Guy Edwards and John Millar. C. Highpoint reached by Dieter Klose and Mike Bearzi, 1982. Klose's vision of the direct route is dotted above.

1981 (April 30-June 3)

1982 (April 17-May 23)

1982 (April 20-May 11)

MIKE BEARZI AND BOB RUGO. The face was in condition when the two arrived but, wrote Bearzi in Rock and Ice No. 2: “A three-and-ahalf week rainstorm drowned our hopes. A false start or two as a clearing degenerated, while the wall degenerated, as we degenerated into frustration, would sum up the remainder of our stay.” Bearzi later died in a fall on Ngozumpa Kang II in Tibet, in 2002.

MIKE BEARZI AND DIETER KLOSE. We made an attempt on May 9, culminating about 3,000 feet up. We soloed all but the last 200 feet, where the ice rapidly thinned. We opted not to continue since the verglas and vaporous snow seemed a harbinger of what the next day would offer on the steep band above. We could not climb such terrain quickly. Given that speed is the crux to survival on this face, the decision to descend was easy. Rappelling on harrowing anchors, we eventually bivied in a snow cave around 2,500 feet up. From my journal entry depicting the next day: “No words can justify the descent, fully looking death in the eye.” For more details see the 2003 American Alpine Journal.


The two waited through two weeks of intermittent snowfall at basecamp before giving up and heading to Burkett Needle. They found more foul weather, returned to collect their stash at Devils Thumb basecamp, and left.

The Statistics

Out of the four parties who have spent more than one hour anywhere on the NW Face (Cole/Rouner/Rouner, Stutzman/Plumb, Bearzi/Klose, Edwards/Millar), two have had a death on the face.

beams of his partners’ headlamps, about 1,500 feet up the face. The next day Hirvonen scanned the wall with binoculars but couldn’t find his friends. The weather took a turn for the worse that evening, as high clouds descended over the peaks, bringing snow and wind. The next morning he awoke to six inches of fresh snow ... and no sign of Edwards or Millar. “Now I was worried,” he said. “We had agreed that if the weather turned and the option existed, we would all do the same thing: descend.”

his Petersburg home Klose could literally gaze out his window at the Thumb—a malevolent spike thrusting from the horizon like a dark lodestone. Klose sits on his deck during a sunny autumn Colorado day. He lights a cigarette, drawing deeply and releasing a thin stream of smoke. He taps the end on the rim of the ashtray, a shallow terra cotta planting dish, and says, “It’s funny. I started smoking the day before we went up on the Northwest Face.”

“It requires the final evolution of the climber: cunning, skill, speed and total commitment.” Two more days passed. Hirvonen read the first two books in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, trying to distract himself. Finally, five days after he had parted ways with Edwards and Millar, Hirvonen knew something was, without doubt, wrong. He left a note to his friends in the tent: “Stay put, I’ve gone for help.” Alone and unroped on the Baird Glacier, Hirvonen retraced their approach route 24 miles to the ocean, where he sent a mayday call by radio. Half an hour later, a Coast Guard helicopter picked him up and began the search. Though Hirvonen and rescuers glassed the wall and its base for five days, Edwards and Millar were never found. Hirvonen later wrote, “They were two of the kindest, most caring individuals. I felt so many different things after returning home from that trip: denial, anger, guilt and mostly great sadness. ... I also feel privileged and thankful that I was able to share those last few days with them.” THE NORTHWEST FACE OF THE DEVILS THUMB [by tradition the peak’s name carries no apostrophe] has seen 14 attempts over 27 years. Yet only one other team besides Edwards and Millar’s has ventured more than a few hundred feet up its ramparts. In 1982, Dieter Klose and Mike Bearzi reached what is likely the unsurpassed high point on the face—just slightly less than halfway—about 3,000 feet up. Although the two narrowly survived the attempt and subsequent descent, Bearzi tried the face three more times over the course of a decade. One could easily imagine a fifth rematch were he not killed, in 2002, on Ngozumpa Kang II in Tibet. With Bearzi’s passage, Klose, 44, remains the only living climber to have set foot on the face. Klose doesn’t beat around the bush when asked about the Devils Thumb. “The Northwest Face may never get climbed,” he says. “I don’t want to see any more people dying up there.” Klose’s home, in Fort Collins, Colorado, sits on a suburban street with small, newly planted saplings lining blocks of sterile, look-alike houses. It’s a far cry from his old haunts—he lived in the Norwegian-flavored fishing community of Petersburg, Alaska, for 19 years, leaving only last year to be with his girlfriend. From

Dieter Klose leading up vaporous snow and ice in 1982, just before he and Mike Bearzi retreated.


1994 (April~May)

1995 (May 5/May 18)

1997 (April 20~April 30)




ALEX LOWE AND RANDY RACKLIFF. Rackliff: “Alex and I left earlier than my previous trip, hoping to get a little better freeze. We did; on the second morning the snowpack on the glacier was solid enough to walk on. And that was it. Conditions then returned to Depth Hoar Purgatory and there was never any question of getting on the Northwest Face. Your real nemesis is the peculiar nature of freeze/thaw dynamic—or should I say thaw/thaw dynamic? It just doesn’t freeze the way you’d expect in other areas. One of the fascinations of the face, for me, is that it seems to demand a really fast and light style. With the vagaries of weather, thaw, rock/ice fall, etc., I’d want to be racing up this thing and off it fast.” No attempt. Lowe died on Tibet’s Shishapangma, in 1999.


The face was inadequately iced, but the two made an attempt, stopping some 400 feet up. A two-week rainstorm ensued, canceling any further attempts.

Bearzi: “Ten days of clear weather replete with warm easterly winds and nothing even close to nighttime freezing temperatures. The lower 3,000 feet fell apart rapidly and we had no opportunity to make an attempt.”

“The face looked fantastic, with eyecatching runnels streaking down the midsection. However, in the morning we found that the snow on the glacier hadn’t frozen and as if we couldn’t have figured out what that meant, a colossal section of serac left of the face broke off, sweeping the entire approach. The timing was fortuitous, as half an hour later we would have been right under it. Avalanches and sloughs fell continuously, day and night, throughout the Cauldron. The roar reminded me of camping in the middle of a rail yard.” No attempt.

Guy Edwards and John Millar pitching camp below the Northwest Face last April.


GUY EDWARDS, KAI HIRVONEN, AND JOHN MILLAR. Upon arrival, the trio found the face in fairly good condition. After a day of rest and observation, they approached the face for an attempt at 9 p.m. But at the avalanche debris, Hirvonen decided not to continue. He returned to basecamp while Edwards and Millar continued up. In the last definite sighting, Hirvonen saw his friends’ headlamps at around midnight, about 1,500 feet up the face. No sign was found of Edwards and Millar, and they likely met their fate in an avalanche sometime during the first night on the wall.

Klose details the wall’s history, shrouded with human tragedy and alpine hubris. For over 25 years, some the world’s best have striven to climb it. The list of suitors reads like a Who’s Who of alpinism: besides Millar, Edwards, Bearzi and Klose, are Alex Lowe, Randy Rackliff, Bill Belcourt, Bruce Miller, Jack Roberts and Sean Easton. No one’s been higher than just shy of halfway—the easy half. After 14 attempts, the Northwest Face remains a dream. Fred Beckey, Bob Craig and Cliff Schmidtke were first to touch the summit of the Devils Thumb, in 1946, via the Southeast Buttress. Luminaries including Chris Jones, George Lowe, Lito Tejada-Flores, Jon Krakauer and others later established standardsetting alpine routes on the Thumb’s surrounding flanks. The Northwest Face has an average angle of 65 degrees— very steep by alpine standards (the average angle of the 1938

route on the Eiger North Face is less than 60 degrees). The rock quality is variable: The lower face is composed of rotten gneiss, the summit dome of exfoliating granite. Since the face is generally crackless, continuous ice flows are virtually essential for a successful ascent. But because the Thumb is so close to the ocean and low in elevation—beginning at a meager 2,500 feet above sea level—these conditions rarely exist. The Thumb rises above Southeast Alaska’s Stikine Icecap, vulnerable to atrocious maritime weather. The face is bordered on the left by the rising diagonal rib of the North Pillar. The lower-right side features “Sammy Serac”—a hanging glacier that releases a lethal fusillade an average of every six days—and a complex series of unstable couloirs and snowfields capped by an overhanging headwall. The face drops into the cirque at the head of the Witches Cauldron, a tortured river of glacial ice (continued on page 92)


1999 (March 18~April 5)

(April 18~ May 3)


at basecamp, the weather was so foul that the climbers could only see the face on three days. Easton: “An immense wall, requiring just the right combination of weather conditions to set up a face that spans a huge range of temperatures and climbing mediums.” No attempt.

BRUCE MILLER AND JACK ROBERTS. Roberts: “The northwest face appeared to be coated

with rime ice over a layer of more substantial ice. How wrong we were. Six days of on-again, off-again temps in the 70s, with only one, maybe two, nighttime lows around 30 degrees, dramatically altered the appearance of the face from being a reasonable objective to simply becoming objectionable.” In a brief foray, the climbers found sodden snow on wet rock coupled with avalanche danger and rockfall.


2002 (Mayl 16~June 5)

(April 24June 3)

GUY EDWARDS AND JOHN MILLAR. During the climbers’ 20-day

stay, 15 days provided continuous rain or snow; five were without precipitation, with only two of these in actual sunshine. Edwards: “We watched the face ... lots of objective hazard. The face starts at such a low altitude—you certainly need cold weather to climb the lower part safely. The face is so big there’s always a lot of threatening snow, ice, and rock above you. The Devil’s own face.” No attempt.

LIONEL DAUDET AND SEBASTIAN FOISSAC. Looking for a big alpine rock route, these

hardy Frenchmen liked the idea of the 6,500-foot Northwest Face. But upon arriving they found the big wall plastered with snow and ice. Perhaps at this moment the face was ripe for the picking? Having brought only one ice tool each, however, they chose to continue and establish a new rock route on the nearby Burkett Needle.




the Sanema man glanced up, then nonchalantly screwed his locking carabiner closed. He poked a foot into the top rung of his aiders, stepped up smartly, and repeated the process with aplomb. His back stretched, then bunched, as he worked his slings upward and loaded them. No shakylegged beginner here, yet the climb was his first. I sat mesmerized on a wet log. Deep in a Venezuelan rain forest, over 100 Sanema and Ye’kwana tribesmen ascended the surrounding palm trees in staccato steps. Even though a Ye’kwana friend, Emilio Rodríguez, and I had talked of this event for years, I was amazed by its reality. If you’ve ever contemplated springing for a distant hold and suddenly found yourself hanging from it, you know how I felt. Emilio and I have the lofty goal of reversing a recent destructive trend in the Caura River Basin, southern Venezuela, where—shedding tradition in favor of convenience—young Amerindians have stopped climbing palm trees for their fruit. Now, imitating the forceful ways of the outside world, many natives simply swing an axe at the base. Climbing is no longer cool. If we could get the young Sanema and Ye’kwana to restore the sustainable harvests of years past, they could save over 1,000 palms a year. Rich in fat, palm fruits add crucial calories and nutrition to traditional diets, especially during times of heavy flooding, when fish and game are scarce. A medium-sized village of 75 to 100 people can, in two or three years, wipe out most palms within a day’s walk. Though the palm trees are not yet endangered on the larger landscape, both people and wildlife lose when they are chopped down for a one-time harvest in zones around villages. The Sanema in particular rely on a wide variety of fruits to survive. With their light builds, Sanema men are incredibly adept at climbing huge vine-covered trees. The Ye’kwana are more heavily built, ideally suited to their specialty of hollowing out immense hardwood trunks with axes and then shaping them with fire into graceful canoes. Heavy labor is key to the Ye’kwana way of life, as are farming manioc root and building impressively large dwellings. These indigenous groups have inhabited the Caura Basin for centuries—enough time to have severely impacted the geographic range of palms, had they been chopping instead of climbing all along. I first came to the region in 1996 to research tropical tree ecology. The gathering of wild palm fruit soon captivated my climber’s eye. I saw an opportunity



By Tarek Milleron • Illustration By Jeremy Collins





in a


Con -


Rain Forest


enlisted participants and I raised funds. After my fifth full day on the phone to the United States, I knew the event was on, but money came slowly and equipment donations were meager. Back in the jungle, Emilio radioed community after community in the 17,000-square-mile basin, asking for participation. A particularly remote group of Sanema responded through thick static that, fine, they wanted to attend, but that they had no matches or soap. “There will be matches and soap!” bellowed Emilio,

^ servation


to put my climbing skills to use for the harvests. Traditionally, indigenous men have used a fibrous loop placed around their feet and levered against the tree trunk to climb up to the fruit. The climber proceeds inchworm style: hugging the trunk while raising his feet together, then gripping with the feet, standing up, and repeating the movements. After establishing himself at the top of the palm, the climber hacks through the thick raceme with a machete. This indigenous freeclimbing tradition is steadily being lost. Nonetheless, the older native people of the region still know the power of their culture and its basis in nature. So when Emilio proposed, in conversations over several years, a major gathering to revive tradition and teach climbing techniques, the idea received quiet but firm support from tribal elders. Making it happen was a different matter.

to crackling approval. Alone out in the forest, through trial and error, I’d taught myself the traditional method over two years and a hundred palms ago. With a carefully sized loop of bark, vines or nylon around both insteps, I found that a prying motion with my lower legs caused my forefeet to grip the trunk like a pair of pliers. Friction between the tensed loop and the trunk then enabled me to stand and reach higher. Relaxing the CAURA FUTURES WAS STARTED in 1999 with the dual and intertension slightly allowed a locking aims of safeguarding controlled descent. Dry bark indigenous cultures and the provides good friction with wilderness of the Caura River little effort; wet bark, howevBasin, Venezuela. The mostly volunteer group emphasizes er, quickly becomes slick, appropriate applications of modand painful foot prying is ern technology, be they digital required to keep from sliding equipment to record ritual downward. On a soaked, chants, or webbing and carabinmoss- and vine-covered ers to climb palm trees. Climbing techniques have a rich palm, aid climbing via nylon history in conservation work—for slings girth-hitched around example in the studies of Harpy the trunk is the only option. Eagle ecology done by In their jungle community, EarthMatters.Org, Caura Futures’ non-profit home organization. where the only roads are Given the broad distribution of rivers, I taught two of fruit-bearing palm species and Emilio’s teenage sons, Jimy the cultural power of climbing as and Mu’qui, both aid and traa shared activity, the Palm ditional free-climbing techClimbing Project has enormous potential for growth throughout niques of their forefathers. the New World Tropics. For more Having relied on Emilio information visit before, the boys took to climbing astonishingly fast. Since a few Ye’kwana had easily learned and applied my aidclimbing lessons to palm-fruit harvests, I was confident that the new methods complemented their traditional technique. But, as the gathering loomed closer, I began to wonder. Having spent many months living and working with Sanema and Ye’kwana, I imagined that they might assemble only to have some other activity strike their fancy. Or perhaps they would sit complacently in the forest, just watching a few others climb. As event preparations ramped up, however, I forgot my worries. A hundred frozen chickens came by taxi to the nearest port town. Duffle bags of gear arrived by bus. Mu’qui, and Emilio’s brother Mawanani, spent a week training a dozen Sanema and Ye’kwana instructors. Ten hours upriver by dugout at Para Falls, six Ye’kwana men planted two 40-foot competition poles in the broad beach. Residents of the remotest villages journeyed down the upper Caura rapids, heading north from mountains on the Brazilian border. We all came together late one morning in the white sunlight, groups of men examining the poles and peering into the central hut at tangled heaps of webbing and boxes of food. Part of the plan was to teach each man how to tie his own gear. We taught several guys, and they showed others, until the whole crowd was tying leg loops, measuring daisy chains, or stuffing whittled sticks into tubular webbing to make aider steps. The 50


instructors circulated, making adjustments and redoing knots. Some attendees tried their new gear out on the competition poles, proudly showcasing their still nascent aid-climbing abilities as they drew the crowd’s attention. Nearby, the cooks grilled a jumble of chicken parts. Counting women and children, 300 of us dined in shifts on rough-hewn tables. Afterward, people milled about or lay in their hammocks. A few noisy types began a long night of drinking manioc liquor. Gleaming under a full moon, the tall poles attracted a handful of young men, who swapped tales, occasionally stroking the smooth wood and sighting upwards in anticipation of the competition to come. Voices mingled with wood smoke and moon-cast shadows as we fell asleep. The organizers woke everyone before dawn. Yawning, with slow movements, we tied the last few aiders while eating eggs and dumplings. Practical training would take the whole day in the nearest dense clump of palms, over a mile downstream. Emilio lined the men up like paratroopers and we checked their knots. One dugout load after another, they left, the last man or two straining to push off the beach. Emilio and I took the last boat alone. For the first time in days we had nothing to do except listen to the drone of the motor and stare at the river ahead. My worries about the participants’ interest level returned. As we walked inland, we began to hear animated voices. My hopes grew, then gave way to relief-—everyone was climbing. Not content with the dozen or so palms we’d prepared, they were heading up any suitable trunk. Spotting two guys on one palm, I started to protest, but then seeing three climbers stacked on another palm, I joined the chorus of spectators instead. Spontaneous competitions broke out. The forest filled with the noise of shouted instructions, laughter and hooting. Several racemes bore ripe fruit and the first climbers—including a big man who would have had little chance free climbing— harvested those. By the end of the day, nearly all the villagers climbed as veterans. Last came competition day. Emilio set the terms: Paired competitors had to aid-climb, descend with the foot loop, then climb traditionally. Ironically, the slings actually had to be wet to grip the slick wood. As each pair ascended, with occasional fumbles, gibes flew from below. One guy forgot to untie from his toprope and walked away until it came taut, leveling the crowd with laughter. Many young men aid-climbed well the first go-around, only to lose it on the second leg. Clamping desperately with their thighs—feet forgotten—they muscled upwards with their biceps until onlookers’ urgent shouts could boost them no higher, then slid downward. Several older men with good technique held on to advance to the final round. Finally, just five men completed the double ascent, with rankings awarded on the basis of speed. One man had tears in his eyes as he accepted his prize, a set of fishhooks. To end the event, Emilio and three others sat behind a table with T-shirts and pocket pruning saws (climbing slings and machetes being a dangerous mix). Four lines formed in a twinkling. Each man had to tie his harness correctly to receive his booty. A few who flunked got sent to the rear, where they animatedly practiced their knots. Later, as the group broke up, a Sanema leader said to Emilio, “We will put poles in the ground in our community. Next time, we will win.” Over the past dozen years, Tarek Milleron has conducted ecological research in tropical forests. He is a founder of Caura Futures. 1-800-33-Honda MEGA BLOKS® shown. MEGA BLOKS is a registered trademark of Mega Bloks, Inc. 4WD EX model shown with accessory roof rack. © 2003 American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

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SLASHING THE STONE // Linh Nguyen bouldering Slash Face (V3), Joshua Tree National Park, California. PHOTO BY GREG EPPERSON


GRIMACE AND BEAR IT // Christel Friberg gets medieval on Supernova (5.11c), Fj채llbo, Sweden. PHOTO BY JONAS TUFVESSON




TIGHT SQUEEZE // Chris Belczynski finagles one in during the first ascent of Last Cry of the Butterfly (25 pitches, A4 5.10+), the Citadel, Alaska. PHOTO BY DAVID KASZLIKOWSKI






Texas voice command me to “Come down offun there.” It issued from a boy, maybe 16 years old, his plain, washed-out face turned up, white as a fried egg, peering at me from under the brim of a Shatung Resistol cowboy hat. He was holding a shotgun, a 20-gauge over and under; I figured it was for cottonmouths. The kid lifted the gun and pointed it at me. My mouth dropped open but before I could explain how close I was to finally sending, he emptied a chamber into the rock wall less than 10 feet to my left. “I said, git down offun there,” he enunciated over a boodle of Skoal. I made haste to lower, pack up and skedaddle. The next weekend, however, we were back. This time my climbing buddy and I hardly spoke, and we stopped and froze whenever a twig snapped. We scanned the woods, looking for “Homer,” and climbed like fugitives with one ear to the ground. Little did I know that the next 20 years in Texas would pass in much the same manner: hunkered down under limestone bluffs, straining quietly on some obscure route in the boonies and hoping that the owner wouldn’t show up with his shotgun. Trespassing is almost axiomatic for the outdoorsperson in Texas. The vast majority of this vast state is privately owned, and most landowners are about as likely to allow climbing as they are to tattoo Ganesh, the elephant god, on their sacrum. Although most landowners I’ve “met” have not discharged a weapon in my direction, they have made it plain that they don’t want to see me, my rope or my spot pad again this side of the river Styx. There is, however, at least one notable exception, for now. THE LOWER PECOS RIVER REGION IN SOUTHWEST TEXAS is a hard country of rocky hills, arroyos and steep canyons that lies on the margins of three biotic provinces—the Tamaulipan, Chihuahuan and Balconian. Average annual rainfall is less than 15 inches. The desert uplands support creosote bush, ocotillo, sotol, yucca, mesquite and cacti. In the canyon bottoms, with their springs and rivers, cottonwoods, willows, pecan trees and stands of cane and grasses flourish, providing sustenance for white-tailed deer, javelinas, jackrabbits and a huge variety of water birds and songbirds as well as the occasional panther, bobcat or black bear. The 926-mile Pecos River has its headwaters in New Mexico’s 13,000-foot Truchas Peaks and cuts across south Texas like a centipede, its numerous side canyons making up the legs. Just a few miles before the river merges with the Rio Grande it makes a dramatic curve: the Shumla Bend, part of a giant ranch owned by the forward-thinking Texans Howard and Marilyn Hunt. Like the Reimers family, goat and cattle ranchers who 15 years ago opened their ranch near Austin to paying climbers, the Hunts have opened The Continental to recreation due to simple economics. Overgrazing has eradicated already sparse grasses, and dog cactus has moved in like a plague, crowding out goats, sheep and their

owners. Falling wool prices haven’t helped, either. Like the Reimers, the Hunts are hoping to reap a good profit from recreation fees. The situation at the Continental Ranch could not be better. Pay $10, camp and climb. Of course, that is all subject to change, dependent on the relationship climbers develop with the Hunts, old-school Texans who are still trying to figure out this rock-climbing thing. The ranch, located a few miles upstream from the confluence of the Pecos and Rio Grande rivers, takes in 47 square miles of desert and river frontage, much of it cliff and boulders, all within seven hours of Houston, Austin and San Antonio. Some Texas climbers hit the Ranch every favorable weekend. Three years and 140 routes after it was opened to climbing, The Continental has become the destination area for Texas-rock cognoscenti. The climbing potential on the Ranch seems endless. Deadman’s Canyon, for example, one of several side canyons on the ranch, could support hundreds of climbs and boulder problems. The cliff juts up for three pitches, and the floor of the draw is studded with smooth eggs and blocks. And, in addition to the side canyons, 17 miles of riverfront cliff await development. Shumla Bend, a bow of deep green water that flows between high canyon walls, is home to the majority of the established routes. The reeds in the vega are the color of straw, and a slick rock ledge runs the base of a 70-foot wall for half a mile. The stone is blue-gray, daubed with cream streaks, stippled with craters—perfect for climbing. Shumla Bend has a propensity of moderates, vertical to slightly overhanging lines that range from 5.7 to 5.11. When the cliff pooches past vertical, the holds tend to get bigger but the pump comes on quicker. The really hard climbs, 5.12 and up, involve shallow-pocket pulling out overhanging sheets. The potential exists for trad climbing as well. Last year my buddy EP and I tested the waters and wound up with a beautiful two-pitch trad line, Windhorse (5.11). At present, there are only half a dozen traditionally protected lines at the Continental Ranch. Bring a rack and have at it. MY BUDDY BREWSTER HAS A MELANCHOLIC DISPOSITION brought on by too much broad thinking. If you ask him if the glass is half empty, he’ll say that the damned glass is broken. “We’ve killed ourselves,” Brewster says, “and we’re trying to take everything with us. Look at the water, the forests, the dwindling biodiversity.” Brewster is passionate about photography and rock climbing. Every year he does a solo trip into the wilderness and shoots landscape. He loves the Canyonlands. Increasingly, however, Brewster’s time has been taken up by the Continental Ranch, where he’s appointed himself the area’s climbing administrator, runs a website (, organizes group outings, and collects money for Howard and Marilyn. Brewster is a first-ascent machine. Of the 140 routes at the ranch, over a third have been bolted and sent by him.






This past winter I hooked up again with Brewster, mostly to climb and scout, but also just to do nothing, if that was our mood. We drove hard over hot Texas asphalt from Austin, a seven-hour voyage through the cedar-choked, hilly void of central Texas. The landscape changed outside Sonora: thorn-tree thickets and deer lined the road. It was midnight when we turned off onto the Ranch road, a rutted, winding, white-caliche track that traverses 15 miles of the ranch. I got out and opened the first of umpteen gates. “What you gonna bolt this weekend?” I asked Brewster as I climbed back into his truck and settled into the seat for the bumpy, hour-long ride to the campsite. I was hoping to deflect more talk about our failing planet. It was late. A big moon shone over the desert, illuminating a flat, reflective landscape. But Brewster was in a mood. “That’s not important, Jefe. The question is: How do we save the


earth? The earth is screwed, dude.” “Brewster. You’re preaching to the choir.” “But what are we gonna do?” “Go climbing tomorrow.” “That’s the spirit,” Brewster said. “Crack me another beer; you sound like you could use one, too.” I reached into the cooler and brought out a bottle of his favorite brew, a Blanco Brewery Full Moon Pale Rye. “Look,” I said. “Why are Howard and Marilyn letting us climb while Hueco Tanks is shutting us down?” “Diversification, an alternative means of income, survival,” Brewster said. “Ah ... right. They have to make a living and rock climbing is sustainable. We could climb here for 1,000 years and the impact would be minimal compared to 100 years of grazing.” “How’s climbing gonna save the world?” “Look at the people who lived here for 10 millennia. Their spirituality was centered on co-existence: Rain, plants, deer and man. All together, interconnected. People have to come face-to-face with nature to understand how it works. If you close down the wild spaces, how are people supposed to learn? We learn by doing. Rock climbing is one of the best teachers because we’re forced to adapt ourselves to the environment. The world is currently screwed because we’ve tried to make it fit us; it’ll be saved when we learn to adapt and evolve. That’s why it’s so important to have places like the Continental.” “So, let me see if I got all that,” Brewster said. “Howard and Marilyn are saving the world by letting us go climbing?” “That’s right,” I said. “And the preservationists, for all their good intentions, are destroying it by shutting us out.” “Jesus, Jefe. You do need another brew.”

TOMAHAWK (5.10), ONE OF CONTINENTAL’S BEST moderates (55 lines check in at 5.10 or below) starts in a system of white ripples, firstknuckle deep, and climbs a blunt point of chopped huecos. Nothing is angular, but it climbs the arete. You shift and palm the rounded sides and bump your feet up sharp little edges as your belayer gets smaller and smaller. There, at the lip, the gray stone slabs out, the wind picks up, and hundreds of swallows bicker from their stomach-shaped mud nests. The Planetarium, a giant shotgun blast of a cave, is the place to go for steep jug hauls. Complex karstic blocks and plates hang in a willy-nilly system of buckets and pods and cracks. This cave is home to six routes, two trad lines that follow cracks on the left margin of the cave; a nice 5.10, Andromeda, that worms out the roof through a pinched chimney; Planet Bob, a hard 5.12c through the steepest, most pocketed ceiling; and the classic 5.11, Milkyway, which climbs the central features of the cave, solid plates stuck in the matrix like shark fins, via swinging moves and big reaches. When the sun gets hot, move to the Painted Canyon sector, where the shaded stone is dappled by the reflection of rapids below and a dozen climbs keep you busy until after dark. Taliban (5.12) starts with a long hop off a two-finger pocket and a funky angle-change transfer onto a water-drop-speckled slab. Only a patient Braillestyle investigation reveals the good finger buckets. You might also try Flight 93 (5.13), just to the right, with its precision deadpoints to small pocks and a savage lip encounter. BREWSTER AND I HAD STAYED UP LATE, DOWNING SIX MORE beers each. We rose slowly the next morning and drove away our hang-





overs with thick black joe. The day was fair and clear despite our hazy heads, and we loaded up our bolt bags and humped the drill to the Shumla Bend cliff’s edge with increasing enthusiasm. That day we bolted Nimbus (5.13a), a tricky and varied 70-foot route, dynamic and very steep down low. The top 50 feet is classic limestone slab, balancing on hard-to-see pockets, trying to stuff as much boot rubber as you can into the pore and then rocking onto it, your hand sweeping about, feeling for ... what? Somehow, the voices of other climbers, the call of a kingfisher, the noise of the river—those sounds have disappeared and the overriding atmosphere is one of stillness. You’ll probably find that next slot, invisible from below, good and incut. Or maybe you’ll skate off and plunge into the void like a diver slicing the surface of a clear pond. Either way, the real work is done in the pauses, when the world becomes quiet and immediate. Those are the moments when there is no difference between you and everything else. LIKE HUECO TANKS, THE CONTINENTAL RANCH IS HOME to both an abundance of climbs and rock art. The designs range from haphazard doodles to shaman motifs executed in both the Pecos River and the more contemporary Red Monochromatic styles. In one area, called The Map, two acres of smooth, flat limestone bedding have been carved in pointillist geometric shapes: hands, humans, animal tracks, concentric circles and various trippy amorphous forms. It is a powerful place, resonating with a leftover ghostly energy. This rock art and our rock art, these signs and our climbs, aren’t they the same thing? The Continental Ranch is a great template for what could become a popular trend in sustainable income for ranchers

across Texas and beyond. On any given weekend evening you might find 20 or 25 fingersore men and women sitting around a campfire above the Planetarium playing guitars, harmonicas and drums, and chatting about the next day’s recreation with the same fervor as a snake handler talking about hellfire and damnation. Five or six new lines might be bolted every weekend, especially if Brewster’s drill is charged. The overhangs upstream from the Solarium Wall at Shumla Bend are waiting for strong kids to breach them with 5.13s and 14s. Many more moderate routes will go in. In fact, I cannot imagine a time when the Continental will be climbed out, not in a couple more lifetimes at least. Thanks to this new trend of private owners welcoming us onto their land, I pray everyday to be reborn a Texan. Spring is the perfect time to climb in Texas, and I’m getting fired up about the oncoming season. This year, because of people like the Hunts and the Reimers, I won’t have to wear my camouflage to the crag or hide in the bushes when I hear an approaching car. I can happily fork over a few bills and recreate like an upstanding citizen. I certainly prefer it that way. Private climbing parks are an idea whose time has arrived. When someone opens their doors and invites you into their space, you become a guest. That is, of course, all we are on this planet—honored guests. It’s high time we start behaving that way. So please, visit the Continental Ranch, and when you run into Howard and Marilyn, thank them, not just for their kindness and generosity, but for allowing us to practice our rock art. Jeff Jackson of Austin, Texas, is a senior contributing editor at Rock and Ice. He teaches yoga and rock climbing. His writing has appeared in American Short Fiction.

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reads: “Continental Ranch II.” Enter the lock combination (obtained from your reservation) on a brass padlock. Reset your odometer; it is 4.3 miles to the ranch house. Along the way you will come to a bump gate that is rather heavy—be sure it is not locked (same combo) before bumping it open with your vehicle. Pass through another bump gate, then look for the ranch house ahead and a metal barn on the left. The fee-payment drop box is located here. It is still another 45 minutes (11 miles) to the camping area. GETTING THERE To get to the crags and camping, follow the red reflectors and surveyors’ tape. They begin by leading around the north side of the metal barn. You need to go through the bump gate on the west side of the barn (for bearings: The house and guest house are north and the barn is south, if you line them up). Set your trip odometer to 0.0 at the bump gate. The main road to the camping is completely marked with red reflectors and surveyors’ tape at intersections and gates. Immediately after the bump gate, the road curves right and heads slightly uphill. You are heading west-southwest, your general heading out to the tip of Shumla Bend. The following is a road log to use as a back-up in case reflectors have fallen down.

Mess With Texas

With 140 routes and counting, the Pecos River is the South’s new paradise found


LOGISTICS Before visiting the Continental Ranch please check out www.pecosriverclimb- for more detailed and complete information. WHERE From the town of Del Rio, about 100 miles due west of San Antonio, Texas, take

Highway 90 northwest for 32 miles to Comstock. From the intersection in town for Highway 163, keep going on Highway 90 for just under 1 mile past the blinking light to the junction with Ranch Road 1024. Turn right on 1024. At this intersection set your odometer and drive 10.8 miles to the main gate on the left, or west, side of the road. It is hard to see at night, so go slow. The gate is set back from the pavement about 100 feet and is identifiable by the maroon “Sheep and Goat Herders Association” sign, which 62


0.0 Bump gate on west side of barn (road curves right) 0.1 straight after the gate 0.9 straight (left fork) 1.0 gate, straight (left fork) 1.7 follow main road WSW 2.3 right fork 3.0 gate, straight 3.9 main fork right 4.0 gate, then main fork right past barn 5.0 main fork right 5.6 gate 6.5 main fork right 7.4 left fork toward windmill 7.6 gate and windmill 7.9 right fork 9.0 main fork right 10.5 intersection to two separate crags, right fork 0.5 mile to camping at Emerald Pools Sector; left fork goes to Weir Dam Sector (take second left forks when you come to them) 11.0 Campsites at Emerald Pools Sector just after turning to the northwest, near the outhouse TRAVEL TIMES AUSTIN — 6 hours HOUSTON — 7 hours DALLAS — 9 hours SAN ANTONIO — 4 hours

A Safer Harness

We all make mistakes! This harness will give you the chance to make more.

Safe Tech is a totally new concept in harness design. There has been an alarming number of accidents or near accidents, involving the misuse of harnesses and/or the failure of “non-structural” harness components. Beginners were often involved in these accidents, but a surprisingly large number of incidents involved very experienced climbers who made life-threatening mistakes through fatigue, trying to move too fast, darkness, or a simple lapse in concentration. We became convinced that redesigning our harnesses with every possible extra margin of safety in mind would save lives. Safe Tech is the result. • 2250 lbf Spectra gear loops • 3600 lbf Spectra rope locator • 3600 lbf rear haul loop • 1500 lbf leg loop strap • Non-directional tie-in points • If you forget to double-pass the waist buckle, it still holds 2250 lbf • Patented 3-D system for perfect fit 541-382-7585

The fall colors burn as John Wasson climbs one of the west’s most perfect cracks - Liberty Bell, North Cascades - Brooke Sandahl


NEW! Coated with E N D U R A D R Y

ENDURA DRY coated core.

Perfected after years of testing in the New England Ropes’ lab,

ENDURA DRY keeps ropes drier, safer, longer than any other coating.

You can have the same peace of mind with the new Leavittator Standard – proven more effective than most ‘Dry’ ropes, without the ‘Dry’ rope price.


Scott Milton feeling “groovy” thanks to the safety and performance of his MAXIM climbing rope with

RULES AND REGS 1. Close all gates after you pass through them. 2. Do not lock front gate through latch ring; simply put chain

through gate structure. 3. Drive slowly and carefully—20 mph max! Livestock are easy to hit. If you hit livestock you will be charged $100 for the loss of property. 4. Do not bother livestock or wildlife. 5. NO fishing upstream from the Weir Dam. 6. Keep dogs on a leash. Dogs will require special attention, as there are low-lying cactus and porcupines, and some crag approaches are 3rd class or use a ladder. 7. Use only designated roads and parking areas. 8. Climb only in designated climbing/bouldering areas. 9. Camp only in designated camping areas. See for directions to camping areas. 10. Use only existing fire rings/pits and bring your own firewood to preserve what little is left in this region. Be careful with windy conditions and extinguish when finished. Don’t leave fires unattended. 11. Do not disturb or remove any archeological artifacts. 12. Do not leave any trash anywhere, including cigarette butts. Leave a clean campsite. WHEN TO GO

Spring and fall are the best, but since this is Texas, winter weather is often mild. Some parts of summer can be tolerable if you stay in the shade or swim. Because of deer hunting, the ranch


Pecos River

CONTINENTAL RANCH ENTRANCE To Pandale Shumta Bend Rio Grande River

10.8 Miles

Seminole Canyon State Park

To Sonora & Ozona



To Sonora



COMSTOCK Border Patrol Check

Lake Amistad

377 90

To Sonora

377 277

848 Airport Road, Fall River, MA 02720 USA T 800-333-6679 F 508-679-2363




is closed from October 14 through January 4. For a weather report, go to NEW ROUTING

• Use only quality hardware manufactured by reputable companies. No homemade hardware. Use 1/2-inch expansion bolts. Top anchors should have 3/8-inch quicklinks with 3/8-inch chains, or use Fixe Ring Anchors. • Please do not bolt any route that is SAFELY trad protectable. • Please install rap anchors on trad routes. CAMPING

This is primitive camping. Be sure to bring plenty of water since there is none at the crags or campsites. Also, have a full-size spare tire on your vehicle, not a doughnut. MORE BETA

• $10 per person, per day. • Cash only/two-day minimum stay. • Bring your own beer cuz there ain’t none for miles. RESERVATIONS REQUIRED

830-775-6957 or 915-292-4412 Fax: 830-775-5182 • Obtain gate combination when you make reservations. • Fill out climbing waiver and sign in at the entrance kiosk (located at the bump gate adjacent to the ranch-house barn).



5.8 Gasper Goo 5.10? 5.11? 5.9 Perch Jerk 5.9+ Bass a’la Pecos


Pecos River

5.10 5.9-5.11 TR Anchors


Easy 3rd-class descent


5.8 TR/solo Project?


5.10+ Teb-D-Nitis 5.9+ (corner) 5.9- Hungry, Hungry Hippos 5.8 Hi-Ho Cherrio 5.8 Candyland 5.10- Sorry 5.9- Chutes and Ladders

Peco s River

5.11 Birds and the Bees

5.7 Wally Gator


5.11 5.115.10+ 5.6 TR Gator Bowl 5.9- Gator McKlusky 5.11 Crocodile Tears

Boulder Problems

5.8 (TR/Trad) The River


5.11? Mantling Yetis 5.11? Lucient Midnight 5.9? Spontaneous Poultry



5.12+ The Pour-Off




5.13? Flotsam 5.13- Jetsam 5.11+ Gate Bitch 5.11 Under Wire 5.11 Hot Wire 5.11- Live Wire 5.10 Trip Wire 5.12- Bob Wire 5.12 Caballo Blanco 5.12 Star Gazer 5.11 Moon Dancer 5.11- Tomahawk 5.8 (TR/Trad) Straight Arrow 5.7 Mister Access 5.9 Jim Wislon’s Van 5.10 5.10+ 5.9+ (TR/Trad) Lost Arrow 5.11- (Trad) The Wing 5.7 (up to the roof) Soaring 5.12+ (roof) Internal Alchemy 5.10+ Wampum 5.8+ Swampy Monkey 5.10- Sea Monkeys 5.10 Drunkey Monkeys 5.10 Monkeys on Juice 5.10- Monkey Grip 5.10 Deep Freeze 5.11 Comfortably Numb 5.11- Resurrection Project 5.13 Nimbus 5.13+ (open) Swallow Sun 5.11+/12 White Light/White Heat 5.12- Solar Ying Yang 5.12- Las Manos del Dios Project 5.11 Fusion 5.11- Sunburst 5.11- Sun Baked 5.10/10+ Half Baked 5.8 (TR/Trad) Easy Bake 5.10- The Prism 5.10+ Sun Dog 5.11+ Son Volt 5.11- Suntan 5.12 Sunburn 5.12 Solarcaine 5.11- Sunny Down Under 5.11 Sun of a Bitch 5.10- (TR/Trad crack) Quick Tan 5.11- Sun Goddess 5.12- Sole Bat 5.11+ Souler The Sun Roof (toprope/bouldering cave)


WEIR DAM SECTOR Route info courtesy Continental Ranch; • (408)287-8944



Out of Sight



Low-visibility anchors for low-profile climbing BOLTING IS CLIMBING’S BASTARD CHILD.




E. C.


PETZL ROCPEC, $50 Hand drilling sucks, but is often de rigueur on public land. Without a motor behind it, a drill bit is little more than a glorified chisel, requiring hundreds of whacks to carve out the minimal 3-inch-deep hole. The Petzl Rocpec doesn’t exactly revolutionize the chore, but this 7-ounce hand drill is the lightest, easiest design we’ve used. Its spring-loaded chuck mates quickly with SDS bits—there are no Allen wrenches to fiddle with—just slip in the bit and you’re ready to drill. A rotating wrist loop keeps the bugger cinched safely to you and won’t kink while you drill. Downsides? The drill bit wiggles a smidge in the collar, and can render a slightly oversized hole in soft rock like sandstone. (This isn’t a problem in granite or other hard rocks.) Last, the 3.5-inch-long rubber grip is a touch short for people who, like me, have big mitts—a longer handle would be welcome. Petzl: 801-926-1500,



No subject, it seems, has cleaved our community as decisively as bolts. Over the decades, bolt disputes have escalated into fistfights, legal claims and rivers of slander. Bolting has cemented some friendships but destroyed others. It has resulted in crag closures and restrictions—and the invention of pay-to-play private sport crags and the now nearly ubiquitous “bolting committee.” Regardless of where you stand on the issue, fixed anchors have been around since David Brower, founder of the Sierra Club, sank the first climbing bolt on Shiprock in 1939, and they aren’t going away any time soon. Take a close look at the average “trad” crag. Ever notice the dozen tattered, neoncolored slings hanging at the first belay of Eldorado Canyon’s popular Rosy Crucifixion, or the nasty nest of rotting tat at the anchor on the Gunks’ classic Fat City? You can’t miss them—they’re visible from a hundred yards away, to climbers, nonclimbers and land managers alike. However, by replacing high-visibility anchors with camo hardware, we can reduce our visual impact. In fact, many land stewards are already doing the work themselves: Rangers at the Gunks and City of Rocks have replaced numerous unsightly piton-and-sling anchors with low-profile bolted anchors. No one is suggesting that you rush out, buy a power drill, and indiscriminately slam in bolts. Instead, realize that all bolts will eventually need replacing, and learn to do the job right. That means matching the tools and hardware to the task. Here, Rock and Ice reviews today’s leading hand and power drills. We also offer the latest “how-to” from bolting veterans, who instruct us on the dark arts including how to yank ancient 1/4-inch bolts, how to sink modern bolts, how to create multiple-bolt belay anchors, and how to camouflage your gear.










FIELD TESTED: BOLTING 101 BOSCH ANNIHILATOR AND PLATINUM Power drilling takes the supremely difficult chore of hand drilling and transforms it into an act so easy even the most mechanically inept dweeb can deFlower a crag overnight. For this reason alone, power drills, which in effect give anyone with $600 a license to drill, are the great unspeakable. Yet, while power drills make bolting easy and controversial, the real point is: They make bolting better. With a power drill, you can place anchors that are longer and fatter than you can hand drill, and the hole bored by a power drill fits the bolt’s diameter more precisely. In other words, power drilling lets you place a stronger, longer-lasting anchor, which in the long run minimizes impact. Even so, power drills are banned in many areas; check the regs before you drill. In recent years the Bosch model 11225 “Annihilator” rose to the forefront of cordless hammer drills, but a recent arrival, Bosch’s 11524 “Platinum” (shown here; the Annihilator is virtually identical) is a serious contender for the Big Bull position. Here’s how the two stack up. With similar frames, balance and features, the Annihilator and Platinum are difficult to tell apart. Both are rugged, handle nicely, and are easy to sling. Both have internal slip clutches that safeguard the inner workings from torque damage. Both work in either spin or spin-and-hammer mode, have a reverse gear (handy for home projects), and feature keyless chucks: Just push in the SDS bit and it locks in place. Though the Annihilator and Platinum are both 24-volt, battery science separates the two. The older Annihilator touts a 3-amp-hour battery that weighs 6 pounds 1 ounce (total drill weight is 9 pounds 11 ounces), bores a 3/8- by 4-inch hole in granite in 30 seconds, drills 22 holes per charge, and fast charges in 26 minutes. The battery also features an LED display that shows how much juice the NiCads have left. The newer Platinum uses a 2.4 amp-hour battery. Lower amps lighten the battery by 11 ounces (overall drill weight is a pound lighter) and let it charge in a zippy 17 minutes. Unlike the Annihilator battery, the Platinum model fits all new Bosch 24-volt cordless tools. Compromises? The battery, while it can match the Annihilator’s 30-second hole time, drills four fewer holes per charge, and lacks the LED display. My preference? Though the Annihilator weighs a pound more, I like it because its drills more holes per charge, and the LED prevents you from rushing up a route with STEP


a dying battery. The Annihilator has a suggested retail of $550; an extra battery is $150. The Platinum lists for $570; an extra battery is $219. Aviation Industrial Supply (800-748-1945, and Fixe (714-434-9166, sell the drills at discount prices.


THE GOODS Two materials are used for expansion bolts: carbon steel and stainless steel. Carbon-steel bolts are a third the cost of stainless models, but can corrode dangerously—even at desert crags like Owens River Gorge in California. If you’re going to create a new route, do it right, and spring for stainless steel. The least expensive stainlesssteel expansion bolts we’ve found are Fixe wedge bolts ($3.20 and up for 3/8-inch models), with shear strengths of 6,800 pounds and pullout strengths of 5,000 pounds (714-434-9166, Also widely available are Powers’ (formerly called Rawl) five-piece expansion Power-Bolts ($6 and up for 3/8-inch models), sporting 8,770 pounds shear strength and 7,550 pounds pull-out strength (see for ordering and installation details). Petzl sells stainless-steel bolt-and-hanger combinations, including the 10mm and 12mm Coueur Goujon ($8.50 and $11.90, respectively), and the 12mm Long Life ($10), all of which offer shear strengths of 5,620 pounds and pullout strengths of 4,000 pounds. Installation requires a metric drill bit. The hangers are shiny steel, so spray-paint them a rock tone before placement. Use a minimum bolt dimension of 3/8 by 3 inches for hard rock like granite and 1/2 by 4 inches for soft rock like desert sandstone. Beware of using cheaper, off-brand expansion bolts from hardware stores— their strength varies widely. DRILLING TIPS Before drilling, make sure you’re choosing the best possible clipping location. Check the rock around the spot: A quickdraw should hang cleanly from the hanger, without abutting anything that could open a carabiner gate; the rope should be able to run cleanly without rope drag, free of any sharp edges or corners; and a shorter person should be able to reach the hanger from a safe clipping stance. Check that the rock is solid by tapping it with a hammer—it should make a hard pinging noise; if it sounds hollow or loose, place the bolt somewhere else. Mark the exact spot with a dot of chalk. When you start the hole, hold the drill firmly, perpendicular to the stone, such that it doesn’t wiggle and gouge an overly wide hole. If you have to hand drill (remember that power-drilled holes are more precise), turn the drill a quarter to an eighth of a rotation after each tap. Once you’ve started a clean hole, relax your grip and let the bit bounce back a bit with each tap—this chips the rock more quickly. To practice, first drill a couple of test holes on an out-

of-the-way rock on the ground. If you are placing multiple bolts at belay stations, separate the holes by at least five inches to prevent plating or fracturing. PLACING IT RIGHT Once you’ve drilled your hole—and doublechecked that it’s at least a half-inch deeper than the bolt is long— blow the rock dust out of the hole with a length of 1/4-inch flexible tubing, available at hardware stores (a straw will work in a pinch). Then, insert the bolt, with the hanger already in place. Depending on its design, the bolt may require a few light taps with the hammer to seat. Now, tighten the hex head until the bolt snugs up. Do not overtighten the head! You can easily shear the head off or, worse, overstress it to the point of breaking under a load. Bounce-test the new bolt and hanger before leaving. For more detailed instructions, follow the installation specifications from the bolt manufacturer. For example, Powers publishes a “Fastening Systems Design Manual” (914-235-6300, THE SECRETS TO BUILDING LONG-LASTING ANCHORS Rappelling and lowering put a lot of wear and tear on belay anchors, so install easily replaceable components. You have a few options: If the anchor is for toproping and lowering, as on a sport route, you can use 3/8-inch-thick steel chains fixed to the bolt hangers with a 3/8inch laplink. The chains equalize the load, let you thread the rope directly through the bottom links, and are easy to replace when the bottom links begin to wear. Even easier to replace are carabiners clipped to the end of the chains. To minimize the anchor’s visibility, never use more than 10 inches of chain. Last, be sure to camouflage the anchor before you install it (see the sidebar on spray painting) or, even better, use rock-colored chain anchors, available from Fixe ($8.80, includes two bolt hangers and chain: 714-434-9166, Less visible than chains are rope-friendly rappel hangers like the Metolius Enviro Rap Hanger ($5.75, 541-382-7585, www. and Mountain Tools’ Clipsafe ($6.50, 800510-2514, For elsewhere on the route, Metolius and Fixe make powder-coated stainless steel hangers in various rock colors, retailing for $3.50 and $2.40, respectively.




There’s nothing cool or hardman about 1/4-inch bolts. Leading or belaying on these rusting nails is like climbing on a rope with multiple core shots. Fortunately, yanking old bolts and replacing them with bomber 3/8-inch (or bigger) hardware is easy. With practice, you can pull and replace a bolt in less than 20 minutes. We quizzed American Safe Climbing Association (ASCA) founder Chris McNamara for his pointers. McNamara has personally replaced over 700 old bolts; his organization has replaced over 4,800 nationwide. WHAT YOU NEED For deconstruction: a 24-inch crowbar, one medium Lost Arrow pin, wall hammer, vise grips, needle-nose pliers, two old biners and a long sling for yanking out the old hanger. For placing the new bolt: a drill and appropriate-size bits (3/8 and 1/2 inch are the minimums for hard and soft rock, respectively), new bolts and hangers, a blow tube, a test-tube brush or pipe cleaner for removing rock grain from the hole, and a wrench. HEAVE HO! To yank the old bolt, tap the hanger gently from one side to the other to loosen it. Slip the Lost Arrow under the hanger, and tap and pry to loosen the bolt further. Finally, slide the crowbar’s claws under the hanger and pry the bolt out of the hole, using even, outward pressure to avoid breaking it. If the bolt comes out cleanly, place the new bolt in the same spot—if the rock is sound— by drilling out the hole with a larger bit. If the bolt snaps in the hole, or leaves a remnant sleeve in place, extract it with your vise grips or needle-nose pliers. If you can’t get it out, fill the hole with epoxy and cover the entrance with a dab of rock dust, which you can pilfer from the new hole you need to drill. If you’re drilling a new hole, place it at least 3 inches from the old bolt to prevent fracturing. Sink your new 3/8- or 1/2-inch bolt and camouflaged hanger, and you’re ready to go. For bolts with hex heads, simply unscrew them and probe for any parts left in the hole. Otherwise, either plug the hole or, if you’re using a power drill, ream out the metal using a high-speed (non-hammer) drill bit.



In today’s access-sensitive environment, it is irresponsible to place highly visible, gaudy anchors. Spend the extra buck or two for camo hangers from Fixe, Metolius, Mountain Tools or Ushba. You can also disguise shiny in-situ bolts with spray paint; it won’t last as long as a factory treatment, but should endure at least several years. Larry Arthur of Mountain Tools, who’s camouflaged dozens of bolts, recommends: THE TOOLS Lacquer thinner (carried in a small squirt bottle), toothbrush-sized brass brush, “flat” auto or metal primer spray paint in rock colors and a 2-liter plastic soda bottle. The soda bottle serves as a mask over the bolt hanger to protect the rock from paint. Slice the bottle lengthwise down one side, leaving the neck intact so you can clip it to your harness. Now, in the center of the bottle, cut a template the size of the hanger. HOW TO PAINT Prep the hanger with a touch of lacquer thinner (Danger: Do not get the solvent on your rope!) and a stiff rub-down with the brass brush. Place the soda-bottle mask over the hanger, and spray-paint it. Arthur brings three different paints for a prograde camouflage; the colors vary according to the rock, but a mix of black, brown and gray usually do the trick. Have a friend check your work from the ground—the bolt should be virtually invisible.

what looked like bomber bolts, with no visible rust, under body weight. In these areas, and on cliffs subject to seeping water and minerals (most often limestone), the safest solution is the Ushba Tortuga glue-in bolt ($15, includes a built-in hanger that doubles as a rappel ring). The glue seals the hole from outside moisture, and because the bolt/hanger is titanium, it won’t corrode. The bonus is that the glue-in design can be stronger than expansion bolts—just make sure you drill a perfectly sized hole and use the right glue mixture (Ushba recommends Hilti HIT C-100 adhesive). Glue-ins can’t be weighted for 24 hours after placement, so plan accordingly. Contact Ushba (970-4729640, for more information. Also, according to Ushba: “Special pricing is available for those improving the safety of the crags.”

WHO’S LOOKING AFTER YOUR SAFETY? The good people at the ASCA have volunteered hundreds of hours replacing dangerous fixed anchors across the country, on cliffs ranging from single-pitch sport crags to El Capitan. To learn more about their efforts, become an official ASCA re-bolter, or to make a donation, see ◆

SEA-CLIFF SALVATION: Salty air and sea spray corrode steel expansion bolts ultra quickly, their effects nearly invisible. Because of an oxidation process called “stress-corrosion cracking,” many climbers in Thailand, the Cayman Islands and elsewhere have broken or pulled

HANG TOUGH: Ushba’s titanium Tortuga resists rust and corrosion.


When your garage gym starts to feel like a dungeon, E-Grips new animal faces add a welcome dose of humor. The sets (two holds per pack, ranging in price from $30 to $60) include jungle and sea creatures: a grinning shark, wise lion, crafty croc (or is it an alligator?), pouting monkey and, well, you get the picture. These large-sized grips make good beginner holds on vertical walls. Turn them sideways or upside down on a 45-degree wall, however, and that juggy shark nose turns into a pumpy stalactite, while the monkey head becomes a powerful undercling. The gritty sand-and-urethane texture is almost too rough on the hands for intense training sessions, but offers longlasting friction. E-Grips: 800-8603653, —TYLER STABLEFORD


The idea of women looking hot while playing hard is hardly new—but fleur d’hiver (lack of capitalization theirs) is taking lace to a whole new place, creating “lingerie de sport,” a flattering technical base layer. Fleur d’hiver offers items from the positively bordello-like Cally top (definitely lingerie!) to a fitted microfleece T-shirt . But style isn’t everything—gear has gotta perform. I tested the long-sleeved, lace-trimmed Emily top ($54) in the drizzly Cascades, and my initial response was pragmatic: The low-cut neck let precious body heat escape, and proved too wide for carrying a pack without chafing. The silky Polartec fabric is comfy, though: as light and fast-drying as traditional polypro, and it feels less clammy to sleep in. So is this lingerie or a technical base layer? I’d have to say the Emily is closer to lingerie. It is great as a sleeping layer on a multi-day backcountry trip, or for après-ski lounging. Fleur d’hiver: 208-726-2263, —SUSAN PRICE

If you’ve ever sat around a camp stove on a breezy night waiting for water to boil, you’ve seen the flames swirling around the pot, spilling heat every which way. That watched pot, it seems, never boils. Jetboil has solved the problem with its new Personal Cooking System, an integrated, all-in-one stove and pot. The system claims an unheard of 90-second boil time for two cups of water. Connecting the stove and pot are Jetboil’s “Flux Ring” wind blocker and coupler that focuses the flame directly underneath the pot. I fired up the Jetboil this November at a campground near Seneca Rocks, West Virginia, with two cups of approximately 40-degree water. The result was, indeed, the beginnings of a boil in 90 seconds and a rolling boil 30 seconds thereafter. The stove and pot combo sells for $80, weighs just 12 ounces (not including butane/propane fuel canister), lights with a push-button ignition, simmers well, and packs down as small as a Nalgene bottle. A neoprene cozy wraps the narrow 1-liter pot—you can pick it up with bare hands no matter the temperature. And the tight-sealing rubber lid has a drinking hole, so the pot doubles as a mug. The downside of the Jetboil is that it really is a Personal Cooking System—the pot struggles to hold enough food for two people, and other pots are incompatible with its burner base. Nitpicking aside, the stove boiled water twice as fast as any other models I’ve tested—yet uses the same amount of gas, doubling the fuel efficiency. It’s the hottest backcountry cooking innovation I’ve seen in years. Jet Boil: 603-863-7700, —SHANNON DAVIS 72





April days in New Hampshire are warm, sunny and long, and the endless pitches of flawless granite weave together much like a tapestry. Not! Though I fantasize about such conditions, spring here is scrappy, cold, and damp. So it’s a good time of year to bring a jacket along—this year I’ve been wearing GoLite’s Buzz, an indispensable 18 ounces (men’s size large) of mild warmth. Simple and functional, with an athletic cut and minimal doodads, the Buzz ($149) is aptly named: Toss a dozen chocolate-covered espresso beans into the handwarmer pockets, and I could go all morning—and stay warm doing it. Features I like: It stuffs easily into its chest pocket with a small clip-in loop, perfect for attaching to a harness. The light Primaloft insulation works well in humid climates and dries quickly. The windproof shell fabric is a nearly opaque rip-stop Pertex, over which other layers slide nicely. The stretchy cuffs fit well over my chunky wrists, and prevent the cool breeze from wafting up my arms. The jacket wears like midweight fleece, but without the bulk and snagging. My criticisms are few: The side pockets are placed a bit low for use under a harness, and the wrist cuffs can be constricting when worn over a couple of other layers. Overall, though, the garment is simple and versatile. GoLite: 888-5-GOLITE, —SETH GREEN



Or Write: PO BOX 700-RI4 SADDLE RIVER, N.J. 07458-0700



Tri-Cams came out in 1981—right on the heels of the Friend. At the time, the spring-loaded Friend was a quantum leap forward in protection, and became the instant rage. Meanwhile, the unassuming, nonspring-loaded Tri-Cam seemed, to me at least, like a square wheel. About two years later I found myself 25 knee-knocking feet out from a quarter-inch bolt. I tried to fiddle a Friend, then a nut, then a hex, into a shallow, scooped-out pod about the size of an English walnut. Nothing stuck. I even hauled up some iron and tried to bang in a pin, but the granite socket was too shallow. Then my belayer, against my protests, sent up a Tri-Cam. Figuring I’d just dispense with the argument, I jammed in the Tri-Cam. It keyed in there like it was made to order, and I’ve been a believer ever since. Pockets, divots, shallow cracks and slots are the TriCam’s province. C.A.M.P., the manufacturer, says Tri-Cams also work in parallel cracks. Truth be told, I’ve never had cause to use them this way, but can see why they’d work. When placed in its camming orientation, a tug on the unit’s sling rotates the cam, expanding it in the placement. It also works as passive pro: In its noncamming orientation you can slot the Tri-Cam like a nut into tapering placements. I’ve never used a piece of gear as versatile. Disadvantages? Tri-Cams can be fiddly to place, and if you don’t set them well, they can jiggle loose. For standard climbs I still prefer conventional nuts and cams, but for those oddball spots where convention goes out the window, TriCams are what the doctor orders. Tri-Cams come in 11 sizes, from just under 1 inch to just over 5 inches, and vary in price from $15.75 to $47. CAMP USA: 877-421-2267, —DUANE RALEIGH


(212) 227-1760 (800) 237-1760




Adelson. “With laxity”—as in a chronically sprained ankle or tweaked finger tendon—“the joint they’re associated with becomes unstable.” The surrounding musculature may go into permanent spasm to compensate for the ligament’s weakness. Tendons damaged by acute injury or chronic inflammation (usually, in climbers, those of the fingers, elbows or shoulders) may undergo cellular degenerative changes, sending constant pain signals to the brain. Conventional therapies, familiar to us all, include ice, rest, over-the-counter meds like ibuprofen and, in extreme cases, cortisone shots. According to Adelson, however, prolotherapy and mesotherapy may offer more lasting healing strategies. While relatively safe and inexpensive, neither therapy is a substitute for a proper rehabilitation (and resting) regimen.

Sugar Methods Are prolotherapy and mesotherapy alternative miracle cures for busted tendons?


I think of Trainspotting, and its debased hooligans quivering with their sick between each fix. Ironic, then, that two emergent (in the United States, at least) needle-based therapies, prolotherapy and mesotherapy, might well be some of our best fixes for tendon and ligament injuries. According to Harry Adelson, a naturopathic physician in Salt Lake City and the official doctor to the Professional Climbers Association (PCA), the vast majority of injuries sustained by climbers involve either stretching or partially tearing ligaments and tendons. Prolotherapy, a primarily sugar-water injection into an injured area, and mesotherapy, an infusion of medication with tiny needles into the middle layer of the skin overlying the injured area, might offer helpful alternative therapies for injured climbers. Climbers most often come to Adelson, himself a climber of 12 years, with finger injuries, elbow tendonitis, shoulder tweaks, knee ailments and other problems endemic to over-training. To understand these injuries—and how these techniques can help heal them—it’s important to understand the difference between tendons and ligaments: Tendons attach muscle to bone, and ligaments attach bone to bone. A sprain is a stretch or partial tear in ligaments around a joint, while a strain is when a muscle or tendon overstretches or tears. Most climbing-related injuries are some combination. “Ligaments are dynamic, but if they’re over-stretched, they can become lax,” says





PROLOTHERAPY Prolotherapy, from the Greek “prolo” (to proliferate), involves injecting an injured ligament or articular surface directly with a dextrose, or sugar-water, solution. It is most often used to treat chronic injuries (three to six months old). The localized irritation and inflammation provoked by the treatment stimulates blood flow and nutrient supply to the area, causing the tissue to self-repair. The solution is usually 12.5 percent sugar water, though Adelson also infuses: Procain, a local anesthetic, to break the body’s pain signals and make the procedure more comfortable; highly refined cod-liver oil; glucosamine sulfate for joint health; and B vitamins as nutrients. Katie Bishop, 23, a sport climber and boulderer from Salt Lake City, received prolotherapy injections from Adelson for her problematic ring-finger tendons. “Within a few days the soreness was gone and I was able to climb 100 percent,” says Bishop. Five months after her treatment, her fingers feel great and she no longer has to tape them. Timy Fairfield, a powerhouse climber from Albuquerque, New Mexico, calls his prolotherapy experience—a shot into the middle finger to ameliorate pulley-tendon inflammation caused by tugging on a monodoigt—very effective. “After a few days of short-term inflammation,” says Fairfield, 34, “my finger healed much faster than it

TRAINING: PROLOTHERAPY would have without the therapy, and I was able to rehab much faster.” The only drawbacks, he felt, were a temporarily decreased range of motion and the unnerving sensation of the prolotherapy needle in his joint. Brandi Proffitt, 29, also a professional climber from Albuquerque, received prolotherapy from Dr. Adelson after she strained both knees at the hamstring attachment in two competitions. “Within a few days of treatment I could tolerate specific rehabilitation exercises that had been painful,” she says. Able to adhere to her rehab program, she saw “very significant” improvement in both knees. Though Proffitt had previously tried acupuncture, ultrasound and physical therapy for finger, elbow and shoulder injuries, she describes her prolotherapy-rehabilitation combo as much more effective. Prolotherapy has been likened to surgery in terms of its complexity and delicacy, and complications such as an infection or pneumothorax (collapsed lung) can result from a botched procedure. Despite the risks, Dr. Adelson says he is satisfied overall with his risk/benefit ratio with prolotherapy, and calls it “anti-aging medicine for the ligaments and tendons.” Depending on the size and severity of the injury, any number of prolotherapy treatments might be needed,

ranging from one for a simple finger injury, to three or four for a chronically tweaked digit, to more for a lower-back injury. If prolotherapy is so effective, why don’t more doctors promote it? Dr. Tito Liotta, an orthopedist in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, says he has yet to see proof that prolotherapy consistently works. “I’ve seen infections from it; it hurts like a mother; and I’d say it’s 50/50 at best in terms of treating true tendon tears,” he says. Liotta adds that it’s hard to determine whether the trauma of the needle itself, or action by the injected solution, accelerates healing. One of Liotta’s former patients, however, used prolotherapy for chronic shoulder pain with positive results. In 1990, Pete Dorsa, a physical therapist also from Glenwood Springs, and climber of 25 years, shock-loaded his left shoulder while crack climbing, tearing his rotator cuff. He pursued a traditional healing process, and climbed again, but by 2001 chronic shoulder pain had again grounded him. “Essentially, the integrity of the shoulder was shot,” he says. Dorsa turned to prolotherapy. Beginning in January 2002, he received four injections six weeks apart, augmenting the process with physical therapy. “Things felt better after each injection,” he says. “I got the fourth injection in

early May, and by July I was climbing again.” Dorsa on-sighted two of his hardest routes that summer. Although Dorsa recommends prolotherapy to some of his own patients, he dispenses two major caveats. One: The injections hurt. “Some of the websites say it’s not very painful,” he says. “That’s bull. For three hours after the injection, I felt like someone was ripping my arm off.” Two: Aggressive rehabilitation is key. “Prolotherapy in itself is not a panacea for anything,” he says. “You have to really hammer the rehab for a good outcome. It’s not like you get the injections and you’re good to go.”

MESOTHERAPY Mesotherapy, used primarily in the United States as a cosmetic treatment for cellulite, introduces various medicines into the skin using short (4mm) needles. Acting as a time-release system, almost like the nicotine patch, the mesoderm, or middle layer of the skin, distributes the infused medicine into deeper tissue for up to a week—more effective than a topical cream or even a deeper shot into the muscle. Mesotherapy is most often indicated for recent, acute injuries, primarily to tendons, but might be used in conjunction with prolotherapy to treat a chronic injury. FREE SHIPPING ON ORDERS OVER $20 ! Must be an address in the Lower 48 States that UPS can deliver to. Shipping charges will apply to AK, HI, PR, PO Box and APO addresses. Use Coupon Code: Rock&Ice



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Prolotherapy can cost anywhere from $100 to $1,500 per session, and is generally not covered by insurance. You may experience two to 10 days of soreness after your treatment, during which you should not climb beyond 75 percent of your maximum nor take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)—they will counteract the benefit of the treatment. Full benefits might not come until after three to six weeks.

Move the injured area through its full range of motion during your two- to 10-day recovery period, ideally working with a physical therapist as part of an aggressive rehabilitation program. This tells your body which way to lay down the new collagen fibers it’s producing.


•Dr. Michael Pistor of France developed mesotherapy in 1958; it has since gained mainstream acceptance in European sports medicine, and is taught at sportsmedicine universities there.

Mesotherapy may be a good alternative to prolotherapy if you’re afraid of large needles or unwilling to take time off from climbing.

Mesotherapy costs around $100 per session, and is generally done once a week for three weeks, then every other week for a couple of months.



There is currently no board certification for prolotherapy: Make sure the practitioner you’re seeing has handson (i.e. cadaver) experience with the technique. Visit or to find a qualified prolotherapist near you.

Infusions include local anesthetics, NSAIDs (Piroxicam, Tenoxicam), multi-vitamins and calcitonin (a hormone, found in humans that’s also harvested from salmon), which wards off pain.

“Mesotherapy is excellent for folks whom I don’t trust to take time off—the poorly compliant, namely climbers,” says Adelson. He says that depending on the solution used, mesotherapy, unlike prolotherapy, can be more palliative than curative—as such, it’s good for competitive athletes, like those in the PCA, American Bouldering Series or World Cup, who feel they can’t afford to rest. After treatment, says Adelson, “You might have one day of feeling a little bit sore or nauseous, but you can still go for it and train near 100 percent.” Fairfield has also tried mesotherapy, introduced to it in 1996 in France (where, in fact, Adelson studied the technique) by his then training partners Jibé Tribout and Yuji Hirayama. Referred to Dr. Alexandre Dessandre, the doctor for the French national climbing team, Fairfield underwent several treatments for a tweaked ring finger and sore elbows, and, that year, took first place at the Top Rock International Bouldering Open in

Clamecy, France, becoming the second American male ever to win an international climbing competition. Again, despite Fairfield’s remarkable success story, masking the pain with mesotherapy might put you at greater risk over the long haul. “Quick fix”-style mesotherapy treatments often involve non-steroidal antiinflammatory medications (NSAIDs), the drug class to which ibuprofen belongs. “I usually tell competitors that treatment with NSAIDs is not ideal and can set you up for chronic injury,” says Adelson. “I’ll try to convince them to get prolotherapy or more long-term mesotherapy using agents other than NSAIDs after their next comp.” Nonetheless, mesotherapy treatments with NSAIDs typically involve 1.7 percent of the usual oral dose, a clear benefit for a class of medicines that, when overused, may cause perforating ulcers and even death. (And what’s a little needle compared to that?) Dr. Harry Adelson (www.docere graduated from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon, and is a diplomate of the American Academy of Pain Management. For further reading, visit the Injury Report section of




rigs, the hardest part of leading ice is placing screws, especially on vertical terrain. Here’s a safer way to go about it: First, clear all junk and protruding ice from your prospective screw-placement area. Firmly set a tool near head height to free your second hand, and clip a draw or Screamer to the planted tool. (For standard tools, clip the biner either through the hole in the spike at the bottom of the tool, or the leash; for leashless tools, drape the rope over the “handle,” where your hand rests— this will necessitate adding a draw to your ice screw later.) If you don’t shock-load the tool, it should hold body weight if you slip. Once the screw is in, unclip the draw from the free tool and clip it to the screw; since the rope is already running through the draw, presto, you’re protected.

[A] [B] [C ]


FIGURE I: The smart—and cheap—answer to V-threading.

V-THREADER FOR DIRTBAGS Tired of emptying your wallet on overpriced climbing gizmos? Here’s a handy piece of gear that costs nothing—the V-thread hook, for threading slings at rock and ice rappel anchors (Figure One). All you need is a wire coat hanger (A), pliers, a small file and wire cutters. Unfold the coat hanger with the pliers, and file a small hook with a sharp point on its tip (B). Cut wire to a foot in length for pure-ice V-threads, or to 20 inches for threading slings around boulders or wide tree trunks. Finally, bend a clip-in loop at the hookless end to attach the V-threader to your harness. Enjoy (C)! JOE STOCK, Anchorage, AK

TWINKLE TOES The longer we climb the more we trash our feet. Although we need those tight-fitting shoes for performance, they whittle down the long-term health of our tootsies by binding bone, tissue, nerves and blood vessels. Help prevent this deterioration by doing toe-extension stretches, a physical-therapy exercise that improves tendon flexibility and toe-joint range of motion. Firmly but comfortably stretch each individual toe upward with your fingers, a la “This Little Piggy Went to Market” (Figure Two). Hold the stretch for 15 to 20 seconds, doing six to eight 78


FIGURE II: Wash your nasty— stank dogs prior to toe stretching.

reps on each toe before climbing, or every other day when not climbing. Rebecca Stokes, Bozeman, MT

HOUSE OF WAX Alpine climbers: Treat your rope, runners and draws to prevent their sopping up water and freezing stiff. Untreated Spectra nylon, for example, takes on 50 percent or more of its own weight when immersed. Use either Nikwax Polar Proof or Rope Proof—both safe for all nylon products—per instructions. (One bottle of Rope Proof is enough for a single 60-meter rope.) Dry your gear on a window ledge—it will now resist all but a gram or two of weight gain! LARRY ARTHUR, Carmel, CA

REUSABLE BALLS Having trouble refilling those reusable chalk balls? Here’s a crafty, efficient way to get the chalk into these stretchy little sacks: Take the cardboard tube left over from a used roll of toilet paper and insert it into the chalk-ball opening. Tighten the sack’s elastic cord around the tube. Now you can easily pack powdered chalk into the ball using a spoon or large dowel. RICH NYQUIST, Boulder, CO

INTERIM ICE PRO Even with the awesome new crank-handle

ON YOUR KNEES ... For the three of you out there who care, here’s some killer flaring-offwidth beta from The Man himself, Peter Croft. Always physical, offwidth flares can be tamed by using a little secret: knee bars. On leftside-in cracks, place your right foot on the left wall behind you, toe down, and drive your right knee against the opposite wall. (Vice-versa for right-side-in fissures.) The torquing pressure you generate will be much more solid than fumbling with thumb stacks, Leavittation or arm bars; in some cases, you can actually milk a nohands rest. Also, remember to rack your gear on the outside of the crack. BRAD CARTER, Nashville, TN




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THE FIELD TEST Duane logged six equallength plummets while I heckled him from terra firma, alternating static and dynamic belays with the Grigri. We measured the impact forces on the top bolt. The details of each fall went like this: Duane (145 pounds) fell from 4 feet 7 inches above the quickdraw for a total ride of 9 feet 2 inches (plus rope stretch), on 57 feet of rope; he spaced the falls four minutes apart to allow time for the rope to recover. I, the belayer, weigh 200 pounds. The engineers among you will quickly note that these falls equate to a pretty measly fall factor of .16 (out of a maximum factor of 2)—yet were still hefty enough to generate well over 1,000 pounds force on the bolt. To determine fall factors, divide the length of the fall (before rope stretch) by the total amount of rope out. See Climb Safe, No. 131, for more details on impact forces and how they affect the leader, the belayer and the top piece of gear. FOR CONSISTENCY,

Why one little-used technique can make or break your fall


than sport whippers. Heck, most of us, myself included, have become so accustomed to dropping onto bolts that we now fall more often than we send. The casualness has trickled down to belayers, who scratch their dogs and lounge in lawn chairs as their partners plummet earthward. Turn that sport route into a thin crack or frozen pillar, however, and—whoa!—falling suddenly becomes a horrible prospect: What if that TCU rips, or ice shears? Even as a belayer, when I hear the cry of “Falling!”, I tense up and brace hard for the upward jolt. Paradoxically, a good firm catch may be exactly the wrong move—an unyielding belay can double the impact forces on the top piece of gear, a critical consideration when leading on natural gear. For this installment of Climb Safe, Rock and Ice Publisher Duane Raleigh and I fieldtested impact forces during a common fall scenario—a nine-foot whipper with about 55 feet of rope out—using two belay techniques. For one set of falls, I belayed with a Petzl Grigri anchored securely to the ground (a static belay) while Duane hurled himself off the rock; for the next, I clipped the Grigri to my belay loop and, leaving myself unanchored, jumped up at the moment of impact, yielding a dynamic belay. I’VE ALWAYS VIEWED TRAD- OR ICE-CLIMBING FALLS AS MORE SERIOUS



TEST RESULTS STATIC BELAY 1: 900 pounds force on the

top piece of gear STATIC BELAY 2: 900 pounds force STATIC BELAY 3: 1,300 pounds force DYNAMIC BELAY 1: 650 pounds force on

the top piece of gear DYNAMIC BELAY 2: 750 pounds force DYNAMIC BELAY 3: 550 pounds force


What They Don’t Teach You in Belay School

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FIGURE 1: A static belay can lead to gear-ripping impact forces.

WHY DYNAMIC BELAYS MATTER the falls caught with a static belay loaded the bolt with 900 to 1,300 pounds force, the difference likely caused by variables in the system, plus a tiring rope. The dynamic catches, where I “jumped,” letting the force of the fall tug me upward some five to seven feet, loaded the bolt with only AS THE NUMBERS SHOW,

FIGURE 2: An overly dynamic belay can launch the belayer into the cliff.

FIGURE 3: The best solution: A modified dynamic belay that anchors the belayer, but gives a few feet to absorb some of the impact.

550 to 750 pounds. The third catch generated the lowest impact forces, likely because, by then, I learned to anticipate the fall and jump upward at the exact moment the rope came taut. In plain terms, the dynamic belay reduced the load on the top piece of gear by up to 60 percent. Considering that many micro cams and small wired nuts

have listed breaking strengths of 6 kiloNewtons, or 1,350 pounds force, a dynamic belay could make the difference between your gear breaking or holding. Remember, the test falls were relatively mild at factor .16 (although rope drag likely increased the impact forces somewhat); it’s easy to get significantly higher forces as you increase the

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BELAY SCHOOL: CLIMB SAFE fall factor. In other words, the importance of a dynamic belay for ice and trad climbing cannot be overstated.

CHOOSE THE RIGHT BELAY DEVICE use a vise-like belay device, like the Grigri, versus a tubestyle device? Petzl (which manufactures the Grigri as well as a tube-style device, the Reverso) doesn’t recommend the Grigri for “adventure climbing,” nor for winter use, where the device could ice up. Certainly winter use is a no-no, but our field tests suggest that if you belay dynamically, belaydevice discrepancies will play little if any role in overall impact forces on the protection. But if the belay is static (such as when you’re belaying directly off an anchor, or tethered tightly to it), severe falls may benefit from the use of a tube-style device. Under large loads, these can sometimes let a bit of rope slip through, creating a dynamic, if only slightly, catch. The lesson? Use whatever belay device you’re comfortable with, as long as you can employ a dynamic belay. Note, however, that a dynamic belay isn’t always possible or can even be dangerous.



where a true

dynamic belay is simply unsafe. Some sample scenarios: 1. When the fall can slam the belayer directly into the rock, or upward into a roof (ouch!). Lighter belayers should be particularly careful of this when belaying Clydesdales. 2. When the fall could yank the belayer upward into a quickdraw, which could pinch or disengage a belay device. 3. When the belayer is unanchored on a ledge, and a single misstep could send him plummeting. 4. A leader fall could drag the belayer directly into the line of falling ice, ice tools, etc. 5. A dynamic belay could send the leader falling farther than he wants, hitting a ledge or the ground. 6. Any number of possible scenarios—make sure you evaluate each belay accordingly. A solution? Create a modified dynamic belay: Tie into a belay anchor so you don’t get yanked into the wall or lose your hold on the device, but give yourself some slack (no more than five feet) to absorb impact forces. When building the anchor, remember that the direction of pull will be directly toward the leader’s first piece, not toward the leader himself. For the softest possible catch (and to prevent being dragged across the dirt), the belayer should position herself directly below the first piece of gear, ready to jump.

Remember to practice dynamic belaying in a safe situation before taking it to the real world—this is an advanced technique that could land your partner on the ground if you overdo it. Learn to recognize how much—if any—jumping is appropriate. Even on multi-pitch routes with hanging belays, it’s possible to create a dynamic belay by tying into the anchor with several feet of rope. If you clip in three feet below the anchor point, you’ll have a total of six feet of upward travel to help absorb the impact forces. (Beware of any overhead projections, and wear a helmet.) Another good option is to clip into the anchor with one, or a series of, load-limiting quickdraws like Yates Screamers. These provide a dynamic catch when little else will. The dynamic belay isn’t always taught by climbing instructors, often because it is deemed too complex for novices. Nevertheless, for more experienced climbers looking to increase the chance that their gear will hold, it’s an effective technique to add to the quiver. ◆ To pose a question for the editors to fieldtest in an upcoming installment of Climb Safe, please email

GUIDE’S Be a Hero

Expert advice for taking a novice climbing EVER TAKEN AN INEXPERIENCED climber out on a multi-pitch route? Perhaps you were trying to impress someone—or just desperate for a climbing partner. Whatever the reason, and however benevolent your intent, the situation likely ended up being tense and stressful. Overall, your best plan lies in easing your partner’s way as much as possible. You will end up doing many things for the person (some of them twice), but ultimately save time.

LEADING Make sure your partner is in a good belay position. Even if he is on the ground, anchor him. If your partner knows how to use a Grigri (properly!), it can lend you peace of mind. Before you start, thoroughly explain to your friend what you will be doing and how to clean and rack gear. Demonstrate briefly. As you lead, place protection so your partner can clean it efficiently. Use more cams than nuts, as most novices will have an easier time cleaning them. When you place nuts, avoid setting them deeply. Place gear from good stances instead of reachy, mid-crux positions, which can be problematic for your partner.

hauling, you can bring extra luxuries such as a camera, snacks and plenty of water. Also, bring a first-aid kit, a jacket and sun protection. Finally, the extra rope will come in handy if you retreat.




enough rope to get there, and c) You see no potential loose rocks to dislodge. To lower, first ask your partner to clip into the anchor with a daisy chain or sling. While anchored, position yourself so you can see the entire lower. Neatly stack the rope with the top end going to your friend. For better control, lower directly off the anchor and not your harness. One method is to use a Münter hitch through a locking biner, although this badly twists the rope. Another is with a redirected belaying device. Attach the rope through the belay device per normal, but clip it to the anchor instead of your harness. Redirect the brake side of the rope through another, smaller carabiner attached to the anchor. This will place the brake side of the rope behind the device while you control it from the front. Attach a form of “hands-free” friction hitch—a prussik, autoblock or klemheist—from your harness belay loop onto the brake side of the rope, after the carabiner directional, as a backup. Lower away.

RAPPELLING If for some reason you cannot lower your partner, pre-rigged rappelling is a good option. Ask your partner to clip into the anchor with a long sling. Clip yourself in with a long sling as well, then thread the rope(s) through the anchor. Put yourself on rappel and move to just below your partner. Put a hands-free backup, per above, for yourself on your rappel. Attach your partner’s rappel device to the ropes. Instead of connecting it directly to his harness, clip it to a long sling girthhitched to his harness belay loop. This way he won’t be pulled into the wall when you resume rappelling. Disconnect both people’s slings from the anchor. You will both be “on rappel,” but your weight on the rope will prevent your partner from going anywhere (see illustration). Rappel, and un-weight the rope. Gripping the two rope ends, provide a “fireman’s belay” as your friend rappels. If something goes wrong, simply pull down on the rope and he will stop. ◆

BELAYS After harder sections of climbing, consider stopping the pitch short so that you can coach your partner through a crux. Ideally, you will be able to stand or lean out from the belay to see your partner. Your presence and words are reassuring. Try to belay directly off the anchor with a Münter hitch or auto-locking device such as the Petzl Reverso, Trango B-52 or Kong Gi-Gi. It will free you from the system and facilitate self-rescue if needed. Practice “unlocking” the belay device beforehand, for lowering, in case your partner is unable to finish the pitch. When your partner arrives at each belay, clip him to the anchor’s master point with a clove hitch, which will be easy to undo later. Re-stack the rope at every belay, either in a pile on a ledge, or by alternating lap coils over the tie-in rope. HAULING If you would rather not lead with a pack, bring a light tag line for hauling. The line can cause extra fuss, but it takes a load off everyone’s shoulders. By


DESCENDING Lowering is often the safest and most efficient manner of descent, particularly when: a) You can clearly see the next anchor point or ground, b) You have

Vince Anderson is an internationally AMGA-certified (IFMGA) guide. He owns Skyward Mountaineering, 970-209-2985, ILLUSTRATION BY JEREMY COLLINS

OLEVSKY CONTINUED FROM PAGE 41 where is this Little Cottonwood place?

THE IMPERFECT O I KNOW I’M NOT WITHOUT my hypocrisies. Grazing on public land has caused far too much abuse, yet I buy beef. I don’t think young people should use drugs, but I smoked pot when I was 15. I rail against people who waste fossil fuel, but have driven just for fun.

WHOSE CLIMB IS IT? IF A CLIMB IS ON PRIVATE LAND the owner can do with it as he/she pleases. I don’t like the idea of route desecration, as in, say, Crawdad Canyon [outside Veyo, Utah], but the owner was conned into believing that bolts made crack climbing safe, and so he OKed it. I can even see the argument that, because the bolts were placed by the people who established the routes, they don’t constitute desecration, but I’m looking at the bigger picture. “CC” has given rise to the sentiment among neophytes that everything should be bolted, and some boneheads are now bolting existing routes because it’s cheaper than buying trad gear for their one ascent. Routes on public land belong to all the citizens (especially taxpayers), even groundhogs too inept to see them up close. The idea for those routes, however, the names for those routes and even the names for the features on those routes, are the intellectual property of the people who created them. Maybe these ideas aren’t property (yet) from a legal standpoint, but most definitely from moral and ethical standpoints. Even if you draw a topo based on only your route experience, you are stealing. How else did you get the names of features? Did you just coincidentally have the same idea, or did you take it from the FA party? Guidebook authors need to share the rewards with those who put up the routes. However, there will always be thieves who steal ideas. If they turn around and sell it, either by publishing a guidebook or article on the area, then obviously the ideas had intrinsic value. Anyone can climb an existing route without a topo, but a moral climber doesn’t buy one from a thief. Hopefully, most climbers will see the wisdom of rewarding climbers who spend the time, money and even blood to establish high-quality climbs, rather than the rodents who sneak into their packs at night. It is understandable how things have developed. Originally, climbers were eager to give away topos of their routes because

seeing others repeat them was a form of validation. But things have become (more) corrupted. Authors have produced books to vaunt their image, piggybacking on the works of others. One guidebook author recently contacted me and requested information. I asked him not to publish descriptions of my routes. He said, “F-- you. I’ll print what I want.” He came out with a book that I refer to as “Selectively Burned,” which was about a tenth my climbs and an even larger percentage of garbage routes put up by guesswho. People who were suckered into buying it should ask for a refund. As climbing becomes more expensive, more permit- and fee-ridden, and as guidebook gross sales escalate, this issue will start to come to the fore. Until then pass the word; don’t buy books from crooks (or magazines that publish unauthorized topos), and don’t buy them if FA info is excluded. Leaving out first-ascent information only erodes the history of our sport, and is counterproductive to the function of a guidebook. I plan on constructing a website so that people who want info on my routes can get better and more accurate topos free, rather than supporting the rodent population. I pretty much only climb my own routes, so have little need of topos.

WHY YOU SHOULD REMEMBER SCOTT FISCHER important Zion climber of the late seventies, but the boldness that he showed in free climbing with just nuts (remember that we still occasionally used pins for pro) was later hard to appreciate by people armed with cams.


WORST FIRST ASCENT first ascent. Jim Bridwell and I had scoped a good prospect in Zion’s main canyon in August of 1998, so when the summer cooled a bit, I talked my friend Mark Bowling into driving Jim out from California and we racked (and smoked and drank) until 3:00 a.m. Needless to say, we were a bit slow to get started, and I made a BIG mistake. I suggested that since Jim and Mark had not seen the Finger Canyons, we should go check them out instead of the main canyon. It didn’t matter that Charlie [Fowler] and I had already bagged the best line on it. When Mr. Bridwell saw the vast and beautiful south face of Paria Point, I was informed by him that he was exercising his majority vote (that I was previously unaware of), and that my hard- (continued on page 89)


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OLEVSKY CONTINUED FROM PAGE 87 ware was now dedicated to “crowding” the wall with another line. Even in my best shape I would have problems in a debate with Jim, but I happened to be suffering from a severe case of piles. Jim, of course, was highly knowledgeable on this subject as well, crediting his success on the Pacific Ocean Wall [on El Capitan] to a prior hemorrhoidectomy. So, over the following days not only did I see a clean ethic that I had stuck to for decades evaporate in the resounding echoes of pin wailing (including what little leading I did), but whenever my weak performance flagged he would assure me that I required a “procedure” that had once been described to me as passing several miles of barbed wire, and we’re not talking about a ride in the country. Mark and I always have fun and Jim is a great guy, but it was climbing hell. To make matters worse, he was right. You might say that I’m a hole new man. The good news was that I had delayed just long enough to become the first person in southern Utah to go under not a knife but a harmonic scalpel. Three days later I could do back flips (never could before). The fact that two super-alphas like Jim and me are still friends speaks well about our mutual respect. What many climbers do not know is that Mr. Bridwell is a multifaceted person with knowledge and skills in many fields. Still, I’m glad I waited and went to a real doctor. They are more practiced and have better drugs.

BEST FIRST ASCENT diversity, rock quality and historical significance, Touchstone, in Zion, has to be on the supershort list of best first ascents. In terms of making lemonade, then in the face of being alone and snowbound in a remote, rarely visited canyon, pulling off the first ascent of the Witch (and a good route) in Hell Roaring Canyon would count. In retrospective terms of a best day’s performance, then April 9, 1988. Still inspired by seeing Marco Pedrini* in the film Cumbre, I made the FA of a rock the size of Angel’s Landing, climbing Iron Messiah on the Spearhead using just a handful of nuts and free soloing a number of the “leads.” WITH ITS GREAT POSITION,

*The Italian Pedrini was the first person to solo Cerro Torre, and did so in a day, climbing the Maestri route in 1985. He reclimbed the route for the film Cumbre, but was later killed in a rappelling accident.



more here in Utah than I did in Colorado, New York or New England, and people here negatively use the word Jew as a verb so often they think nothing of it. Without intending to, I flew mostly under the radar for 20 years as a largely secular Jew, but about six years ago, when I moved two miles from Toquerville to La Verkin, I was “outed” by the local clan of bigots and have had a series of problems. A former neighbor who also climbs began a local smear campaign, and his kids created a sign with swastikas on it just outside my yard. Since he pointedly refused to apologize for his kids’ display, telling me that, “Having swastikas on my house is my first constitutional right,” I must assume that his children only reflect his values. The last year he has been making a living off my work by selling climbing gear, which people then use to climb my routes in Zion. I have a moral issue with that, and have worked to turn off his tap. To my disappointment, I have not received the support I need from the climbing industry to make this happen. Despite this, I remain optimistic and hope to continue dialogue with these leaders and see action on this issue. If climbers are willing to tolerate intolerance we undermine our own freedom. As a whole, climbers, being one of the few true world communities, are admirably free of prejudice and tend to be relatively intelligent (at least those that have been smart enough to survive some serious climbs), but climbing is becoming more subject to mainstream influences. Despite anti-Semitic displays outside my home by those who attend LDS worship, I don’t place blanket blame on the Mormons, whose respect for Judaism is noted. I do blame human nature and ignorance. Too many of our citizens believe we live in a democracy. Two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch is a democracy. We live (in theory) in a constitutional democratic republic where even minorities have rights, but people in a strong majority tend to get self-righteous and sanctimonious. The climbing community is not exempt from such behavior.

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STREET CRED credible person I know, and I agree with his Cerro Torre conclusions*, but I wonder how many U.S. climbers have any idea just how amazing a climber [Cesare] Maestri was. He was a wizard in the Dolomites. If Kyle Copeland had not been stricken with a debilitating illness, then by now he would be (continued on page 91) JIM DONINI IS ABOUT THE MOST GORE, GORE-TEX, PACLITE, 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.

OLEVSKY CONTINUED FROM PAGE 89 considered the world’s best desert climber. *Jim Donini, along with John Bragg and Jay Wilson, made the first ascent of Cerro Torre’s neighboring Torre Egger, in 1975. During that ascent, Donini was able to study Maestri’s claimed line, and reported that the face did not resemble Maestri’s description. Because of this inconsistency, Donini believes that Maestri never even reached the Col of Conquest, the saddle less than halfway up that separates Cerro Torre from Torre Egger.

THE TROUBLE WITH RANGERS with rangers is ironic, since originally, as a student of environmental conservation, I had hoped to become one. Over the years, my observations have led me to believe that many of the problems between climbers and the authorities come down to a territorial pissing contest. Certainly, most rangers start out as devoted public servants, but repeated contact with idiot visitors probably influences their attitude, leaving them jaded and smugly superior. If said ranger is not an expert climber and encounters one, it could be a subtle challenge to the ranger’s self image, and can result in unnecessary displays of “assertiveness.” The climber will often enough then flunk the attitude test, and thus complete a vicious cycle. It is only human nature, but the fault is carried more by the ranger, who often initiates the cycle, even though he is paid with tax dollars to act professionally. My personal outlook is influenced most profoundly by two contacts: In early 1978, in the process of soloing the Watusi [in Colorado National Monument], I fixed a rope to my primary anchor, a tree at an innocuous point on the rim, before attaching to some manky bolts below the rim as a secondary and directional. The chief ranger, Henry Schock, who knew where I was climbing, then untied my primary rope and threw it off the rim. He later claimed that he had to take this action because an imaginary tourist could have happened by and been killed or injured when he attempted to use my ropes. I spoke with a defiant Schock, who then threatened to shoot at my ropes next time. (He didn’t deny this when the editor of Climbing spoke with him that same year.) At first I didn’t believe he meant it, but to my horror I could see not only that he did, but that he was confident he could get away with it. At that point, I was not a gun owner, but soon after was.


The second incident began when the Nevada state park rangers secured a warrant (later found to be bogus) and, with a Clark County deputy, arrested me in Valley of Fire. Space doesn’t permit detailing all of the beatings and abuse I suffered, but the highlight had to be getting booted in the head while forced to crawl for the door after my release order had come down. A complete detailing can be found in the 25-page complaint my lawyer filed in federal court for civil-rights violations. Needless to say, I won the case and was awarded nine grand for my 36-hour “forced bivouac,” which is the best guide’s fee I’ve heard of, even for the most epic grade V, but I still consider it a big loss. This incident only confirms what I saw in 1978. They could get away with it—not one officer was charged or even fired! The double standard prevails and IT SCARES THE HELL OUT OF ME. I now view some rangers the way that a civilian might view a soldier of an occupying army.

O’S HALL OF FAMERS there always seems to be a few climbers who take novel approaches to the sport: [Walter] Bonatti on the Grand Capucin, Robbins on In Cold Blood and [Warren] Harding on the Dawn were examples that made me broaden my ambitions. You can’t climb a big wall today without standing on Warren’s shoulders. It’s sad that Warren never seemed to realize how much I respected his work. He would often be initially friendly with me, but then he would reach a stage of inebriation that brought out the ugly side. I’ve met Walter several times, but the language barrier has precluded any depth to our talks. I spoke with Royal two years ago and on the surface, at least, he doesn’t seem to feel that his contribution was particularly significant, but to my mind no other climber pushed the envelope in the granite crucible as hard. That he has not been a recipient of the Underhill Award is an oversight beyond my comprehension. Closer to my own age, climbers like Jim Erikson, Jeff and George Lowe, Alison Sheets, Scott Fischer, Craig Leubben, Mark Wilford and, of course, Charlie Fowler have served as inspiration.


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PARTING THOUGHT PART OF ME WOULD LIKE TO see recognition as a visionary, but then part of me would just like the validation of seeing someone write in a tattered postcard saying, “When I DON’T grow up I want to be Ron Olevsky. ...” ◆ 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.

THE DEVIL’S CURSE CONTINUED FROM PAGE 47 that merges with the broad Baird Glacier on its 24-mile journey to the Pacific Ocean. The average annual precipitation in the Stikine is 10 feet, much of it falling as heavy snow and whipped by gale-force winds more common to Patagonia than North America. (Factor in that any precipitation on the face converts instantly to avalanche.) To further narrow the window of opportunity, the sun hits the upper face at 2 p.m., triggering avalanche and rockfall. The face is a fickle death trap. Or, as Boulder alpinist Bruce Miller puts it, “conditionally challenged.” The Thumb’s relatively low altitude, 9,077 feet above sea level, contributes to inconsistent ice coverage. A frozen upper wall might join a lower wall that is a disintegrating maelstrom. Says Jack Roberts, Miller’s partner on a 1998 attempt, “We were there for 12 days and the temperature never dropped below freezing except for one night. What little we climbed had the consistency of shaving cream with a crusty meringue surface.” For some, however, the combination of atmospheric and topographical factors only adds to the Thumb’s allure. Says Roberts, “Unlike a lot of climbs, this one presents some intrigue into what it will take—strategically, technically and psychologically. For me, it requires the final evolution of the climber, demanding cunning, skill, speed and total commitment. It’s one of the greatest climbs in North America.” KLOSE POINTS TO A COLOR PHOTO,

saying, “The Northwest Face is more like a landscape than a face.” The blunt, truncated mass is streaked with seductive streams of ice. The mountain’s abrupt geometry is often likened to Patagonia’s Cerro Fitzroy. As he views the photo—a dark and breathtaking mass boldly pasted against the horizon—Klose utters an absolute: “It’s the epitome of a summit, hard to attain by any means or route.” Klose has spent several decades climbing hard rock, ice and big mountains in Alaska, the continental United States and Europe. During the 19 years he spent living in the shadow of the Thumb, Klose honed a strategy for attacking the route. It goes like this: Begin by soloing the ever-steepening snow and ice of the lower face at night and into the morning. Climb above the lower avalanche zone to a sheltered spot beneath a shallow overhang before the bombs start dropping at 2 p.m. Protected from the usual afternoon volley, you will have sent 3,500 feet of the wall. Next day comes the crux, an 800-foot band of steep (and hope-

fully iced-up) rock at roughly mid-height. If you can climb the rock band and survive an open bivy, the remainder of the wall should fall on the third day. Weave through icy ribs and exit up steep chimneys to the face’s left margin. More than two decades after his attempt on the wall, Klose sits on his redwood deck and recalls the 1982 climb. That April, he and Bearzi hiked and skied 600 pounds of supplies from a boat drop on Thomas Bay. Nine days and 24 miles later, they established basecamp at the head of the Witches Cauldron, just below the Devils Thumb. As the memories return, Klose is momentarily at a loss for words. After a minute he looks away, as if reciting something to himself—a man still trying to rationalize that which defies sensibility. He shakes his head and crushes a butt into the ashtray. Without missing a beat, he taps out another Camel and lights up. Then the story flows. “I was young, 23 years old, and had the samurai attitude. When we left camp for the mountain, I was free of fear and completely peaceful,” he says. He smiles, adding, “It was a face worth dying for.” The pair left camp at 2 a.m. with three days of food, five of fuel, a small rack and 300 feet of 8mm rope, sprinting over the half mile of avalanche debris on the approach. They crossed the bergschrund and soloed snow and ice up to 70 degrees, dodging falling ice as the angle steepened to 75. They’d soloed 2,500 feet in three hours, placing them above the threatening Sammy Serac. The pair took a brief rest. After 500 more feet of nerve-wracking soloing on increasingly steep ice and snowcovered rock, Bearzi and Klose roped up. The first lead saw Bearzi mincing through nearly vertical, thin and fractured ice with no protection. They had not anticipated that the climbing at this stage would be so steep and dicey. Klose recalls, “The pace was slowing by this point. The verglas and vaporous snow were taking the edge off our efforts.” Klose cast off on the next pitch, and soon discovered that the “ice” consisted of avalanche backwash—frosty fluff adhered to a rotten and crackless wall. Above lay the steep 800-foot band. Progress stopped. Recalls Klose, “Even Bearzi could see that the face wasn’t ready.” At that point, the attempt changed into a race against the clock. It was 10 a.m., and, in four hours, the sun would strike the upper face and all hell would break loose. The pair made one rappel before an over-

hanging wall below forced them to traverse leftward on harrowing 80-degree mixed terrain. Bearzi led sideways as Klose fidgeted at the belay, pulsing with adrenaline. “I was out there, hanging off a three-inch icicle and a knifeblade, with 3,500 feet of concave nightmare hanging above me,” says Klose with a grimace. He nervously takes another drag. “It was like being stuck in the worst place on the planet.” Bearzi’s lead across steep rock splattered with rotten snow—the kind of ungradeable terrain that never gets climbed at the crags, but often provides the alpine crux—took an hour and a half. Klose sketched across and arrived at the belay (two ice axes plunged in the snow) at 1 p.m. They had an hour to find safety. By that point, says Klose, “I felt like I’d lost it. Stuff was coming down and I was terrified. The samurai was gone, replaced by something else—it was raw survival.” Klose downclimbed and began frantically digging into a shallow snow slope. At 2 p.m., the pair crawled into a small snow cave as the avalanches roared over them. After midnight, they continued their descent, reaching the safety of the glacier in the morning. AFTER BARELY SURVIVING HIS OWN

attempt, and watching even stronger aspirants return defeated, Klose has come to believe that the Northwest Face is the ultimate—the face that probably won’t be climbed. In the 2003 American Alpine Journal, he wrote, “Some ... think it will one day be climbed by a ‘lucky’ party. I doubt it ... look and listen but don’t touch. Don’t waste your time.” Others disagree. “I think someone will climb it some day,” says Hirvonen. “No route is worth dying for, but someone is bound to get up the face eventually.” One thing, however, is certain. Those willing to pick up the gauntlet at least know the risks. Still, Jack Roberts, 52, wants a rematch. “Of all the peaks and faces I’ve seen,” he says, “this is the most beautiful. It’s still on my list.” Roberts, a climber for 30 years, pauses, “If I can pull this one off, I won’t need to climb anything else. Ever.” Senior Contributing Editor Pete Takeda lives in Boulder. He will climb in Alaska and the Himalaya this year. Dieter Klose’s timeline is adapted from from an article in the 2003 American Alpine Journal.

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I am chatting to Martin Atkinson, MD of Red Chili, at the US launch of their new models at the trade show in SLC. The booth is busy and there is a buzz as Ben Moon and Stefan Glowacz, two of Red Chilis’ better known designers chat to customers. I ask Martin about the two new shoes the X-cube and Tornado? “Well, what we’re trying to do with the X-cube is create a follow up to our original Velcro, the Dos Equis. That received great reviews in the US, climbed really well, and was a very successful shoe for ‘Chili. However, since then we’ve learned more and have tried to put a lot of that into the X-cube.” How so? In what ways? “Well we’ve a softer mid-sole for more sensitive ‘feel,’ a simpler entry and also re-defined the toe for a super-precise fit and added what we think is a superb hooking heel.” At this point Ben Moon chimes in, “Yeah I agree with that, I’ve been wearing and helping with the prototyping of this for a while now and I would say it’s the best bouldering shoe I’ve worn—I mean the Voodoo’s great but we developed that as more of a combo steep routes/boulder shoe—for pure bouldering/gym the X-cube’s so easy to get on and off and the new heel and toe do work brilliantly. I think it’ll go down really well” So what’s with the Tornado? This looks rad! Ben doesn’t answer this but glances over to Stefan. “Hmmm rad?” says Stefan. “It depends if that’s good or bad?” and kinda scowls at me… Then his face widens into a grin and he laughs, “No that’s good, we wanted this to look ‘rad’ and to make a statement.” Stefan points out that this shoe was really his concept and was designed to help him fulfill his ambitions for longer routes. “I needed more of a crossover shoe, that was technical, but would provide a stronger platform for moving over difficult terrain.“For instance,” he carries on, “in the Valley, or wilder places like Baffin or Kenya when I’ve been climbing on hard long days out, it’s the feet that let you down; when a technical shoe is not comfortable enough and a comfort shoe is not technical enough.

So where has the design inspiration for the Tornado come from? “Well what I wanted to do here was combine a relatively well-profiled climbing toe with a more substantial heel section. For the heel we looked more towards the ‘crosstraining/adventure racing’ scene for ideas. So the Tornado has a dual-density EVA heel and a real ‘heel-cup’ for long term stability and support. We also adapted a new, fast easy lacing system; the lace lock, and the ‘garage.’ All making it easier to adjust the shoe tension; whether leading/belaying or depending or the route grade —critical on such a shoe” I turn back to Martin and ask him if he is happy with Chili’s new offerings and the direction the fledgling boot company is going. His answer exudes an infectious enthusiasm for the business and a guarded optimism. “Good question, and I think the first thing to say is that we’re really pleased with the way things have turned out. People tend to forget that the company is only 5 years old and that we were one of the first to fully challenge the ‘big boys’ in a long time.” So was it been hard to break into the rock shoe business? “Oh god yeah” he says, “it’s been such hard work for a long time now, but we are making an impact and that has it’s rewards.” Which are… “Not financial yet” he interrupts, “but I really feel we do make good shoes and the reviews, especially in the US, have always been good, which kinda keeps you going. In fact both the Voodoo and Phantom from current range came out top in their respective reviews in ’02 and ’03.” And the new shoes? Well, when I hear Ben so psyched on the X-cube and our other testers as well then I’m guessing it’ll go down pretty good. And having worn the Tornado to drag my sorry ass up 23 pitches on Half Dome earlier this year it gets my vote for comfort, and I think Stefan has really hit the mark with the performance and design. So time will tell, but I’m happy we’ve got a strong range for 2004 and I’m hoping the reviewers and public will think the same. Interview —Ian Parnell

Red Chili - Who’s Who Martin Atkinson – known as ‘Basher’ is MD of Red Chili and in his younger climbing days rates his highlights as “nearly being the first person in the world to on-sight 8A/5.13b” by falling off the last move of ‘L’Homme Programme’ Buoux, France in ’84 but more significantly doing the first 8B+/5.14a in the UK, ‘Mecca’ in 1988. Stefan Glowacz – founder of Red Chili. Once simply a hardcore ‘sports freak’ with early ascents of Frankenjura desperates, he has moved on to establish some of the hardest long sports and alpine routes in the world, from Baffin to Patagonia to Kenya as well as the European Alps his influence is recognized. Ben Moon – Red Chili designer and tester. Now primarily known as a boulderer with hard first ascents such as Black Lung, US, Cypher and Eight Ball UK, all V13, many forget he was the man who gave the world some of the first 8C graded routes with Agincourt + Maginot Line, France and the first 8C + with Hubble, UK, ’91.

Boulder Nord • Alaska Mountaineering and Hiking • Lewis & Clark • Pack Rat • Arizona Hiking Shack • Rocks and Ropes Summit HutVertical Relief • Granite Arch Climbing Center • Mammoth Mountaineering Supply • Nomad Ventures Northern Mountain Supply • Pacific Edge • Sport Chalet • Stonehenge • Sports Exchange • Tahoe Sports Ltd • Backdoor Sports Bent Gate Mountaineering • Casa de Madera • Gardenswartz Sports • High Desert Mountain Sports • Mountain Sports The Mountain Shop • Mountain Chalet • Neptune Mountaineering • Aiguille Rock Climning Center • Call of the Wild Barrie's Sports • Lost River Sports • Erehwon • Starved Rock Outfitters • Upper Limits Gym • Vertical Endeavors Gym Backwoods • Lexington Rocks • Miguel's Climbing Shop • Boston Rock Gym • Higher Ground Outfitter • Inside Moves Planet Rock • Midwest Mountaineering • Vertical Endeavors Gym • Alpine Shop • Upper Limits Gym Northern Lights Trading Company • Diamond Brand Outdoors • Footsloggers • Boulder Morty's • Eastern Mountain Sports International Mountain Equipment • Ramsey Outdoor Stores • Mudd 'N' Flood Review • Stone Age Gym Sangre De Cristo Mountain Works • Sport Chalet • RockSport • Rock and Snow • Get Out & Stay Out • RockQuest Redpoint Climbers Supply • Adventure Center • Exkursion • Earth Traverse Outfitters • Dyno Rock • Black Diamond Gear Heads • Hurst Stores • Mountainworks • Pagan Mountaineering • Smith & Edwards • Utah Mountain Sports Outdoor Gear Exchange • Cascade Crags • Vertical World • Shoreline Mountain Products • Adventure Rock Gym Ace Mountain Sports • Mountain Sports • Teton Rock Gym • Teton Mountaineering • Wild Iris Mountain Sports


Big Agnes Owns Comfort! Lighten your load and sleep in comfort with the 20º Zirkel 775 fill down bag and deluxe Air Core pad. Combined weight is just over 3 pounds. With room for two, the 3lb 3oz free-standing Seedhouse SL 2 tent keeps it light for rapid three-season assaults. Quality Sleeping Bags, Pads & Tents Toll Free 877-554-8975

BlueWater Ropes BlueWater equipment is trusted by the world’s best climbers. Our new 2004 catalog is full of essential gear like our new Sharma Sytem+ bouldering pad and the world’s lightest single rope. Trust only the best. Trust BlueWater gear between you and the ground.

CAMP USA, your source for the lightest weight mountaineering and climbing gear from a company that has been around for more than a decade. From helmets to axes, from biners to helmets, to crampons to alpine and crag packs, CAMP has your covered!

Tel. 770.834.7515 Fax. 770.836.1530 877-421-CAMP

Cloudveil FREE CATALOG! — Packed with everything you need for all your outdoor adventures. Highest quality name brands at the lowest prices. Equipment, clothing and footwear for packing, camping, climbing and travel. P.O. Box 700-RI4, Saddle River, NJ 07458-0700 800-CAMPMOR (800-226-7667)

For spring 2004, Cloudveil continues to grow and thrive with products built for the alpine and crag environments. Their Teton tested soft and hard shells are ideal for the stone world and their new Cadence and Lasso Collections balance the need for long days and more casual forays. Cloudveil is a youthful, forward thinking, outdoor apparel manufacturer based in Jackson, Wyoming, that has received critical acclaim for their ground-breaking use of fabric combinations and design, including pioneering efforts in the "Soft Shell" category of outerwear.

Entre Prises We’re constantly adding new shapes to our extensive line. New for 2004 is a range shaped by Chris Sharma that are inspired by holds on his 5.15 testpiece, Realization. All EP holds come with our patent pending Explosion Proof System (EPS) for durability and safety. Contact us for a catalog or order directly on our website.



General Ecology First Need® Deluxe Portable Water Purifier

Gregory Mountain Products

Independently certified to meet EPA Purification Standards, First Need purifiers instantly remove bacteria, cysts, & viruses, plus chemical & aesthetic contaminants, without chemicals, hold-time or double pumping. Great features include “direct-connect” to popular trail bottles and gravity-feed pumping. General Ecology, Inc. <>

Trash our Packs!! For 27 years Gregory's ultra-comfortable packs have accompanied your misadventures and instinctual quest for the edge. Some might say that you're crazy. We say you're insane. Don't change! 800-441-8166 800-477-3420

Liberty Mountain Climbing Hilleberg the Tentmaker For over 30 years this family owned, Swedish company has specialized in design and production of high quality, four-season, lightweight tents. In Europe their tents have gained a reputation of being the most reliable and ergonomically best designed for serious wilderness travel and mountaineering. To find out more visit: 866-848-8368

Liberty Mountain Climbing is your one source for all of the best climbing brands. Edelweiss, Singing Rock, Pieps, Ushba, Kong, Advanced Base Camp, Outdoor Designs and many more. Plus new for 2004 stylish new products from Cypher Climbing and Cava shoes featuring Stealth Rubber.

Liberty Mountain Climbing 888-90-CLIMB

Mammut - expedition & athlete tested clothing, backpacks, ropes, harnesses and climbing shoes of top Swiss quality. To request a catalog call:



Omega Pacific Omega Pacific’s 2004 Product Guide filled with over 40 pages of quality climbing hardware. Carabiners, Rock Pro, Belay Devices, and Ice Gear. Innovative Climbing Gear at affordable prices. Get your catalog today! 800-360-3990

From remote big walls to local crags, Petzl makes unsurpassed gear for rock climbers, ice climbers, and moutaineers. Our new 150-page catalog includes more than 200 innovative products as well as informative tech-tips. Check out the new lighting-fast Laser Sonic ice screw, the Cosmique and Snowscopic ice axes and the Tikka Plus and Tactikka headlamps. For a copy, swing by your local climbing shop or check #15 on the reader response.

New England Ropes New England Ropes is synonymous with quality, innovation, and performance. For over 35 years, we have been providing solutions to some of the toughest problems of stretch, abrasion, and durability for yachtsmen, rock climbers, alpinists, working cowboys, arborists, and search and rescue personnel. We offer more types of line than any other rope manufacturer.

Slackline Brothers, Inc. Balance Mind Body Spirit THE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB. Rig medium lines, long lines, threaded lines, or trick lines quickly and easily with the Slackline Brothers Tightening System® two stainless steel, 2" double pulleys, one is equipped with a becket and a brake creating a 4:1 mechanical advantage. The easiest set up ever.

Valandre Comfort in the World’s Harshest Environments

LEARN THE FUNDAMENTALS with our new HOW TO SLACKLINE "Moving Meditation" DVD. 800-713-4534 888-558-5008

Straight from the Pyrenees, Valandre brings its legendary down sleeping bags to North America for the first time in 2003. Valandre’s expedition-rated products feature 850+-fill French Gray goose down and differentially cut baffles to ensure the best warmth to weight ratio in extreme climates. or contact

CLIMBER’S RESOURCE GEAR STEPHENSONS WARMLITE BAGS & TENTS. Since 1958, warmest, most comfortable, adjustable sleeping bags. VaporBarrier Interior & Goose DOWN filled airmat. From +80 to -70 degrees˚F STEPHENSONS Warmlite Tents, the lightest and still most storm resistant tent. Catalog $1; 2hr VHS Video $6. Stephensons 22 Hook Rd Gilford, NH, 03249.; ZEN-LIZARD'S X CHALK. Cools hot hands while climbing!

GRIPANATOR! The ultimate grip tool. Trains the squeeze ergonomically correctly like a torsion spring gripper and offers plate loading progressive resistance with quick and complete adjustability from the width of the open position to a pinpoint position in the sweep.


COLD FEET? 4 Models of Overboots to fit your step-in & strap-on crampons. Call for your free catalog & ordering

Ph: 253-846-2081 Fx: 253-846-7853

Graham, WA USA

RECALL CAMP USA has entered into a voluntary recall on 1.5 (Brown) Tri Cams. The Tri Cams at issue are size 1.5, Brown, with a lot number of 2G, which can be found etched on the side of the aluminum chock. Please visually inspect for a crack near the pin housing that connects the webbing to the aluminum chock. If you find you have a cracked Tri Cam please contact CAMP USA at: 1-877-421-CAMP for instructions on returning the product. For more details please see

LIVE IN LIMESTONE PARADISE WORLD-FAMOUS SHELF ROAD, COLORADO - Live or vacation 15 minutes from this climbing paradise Unsurpassed Views - Red Rock Country to Snow Covered Peaks! 35 acres of privacy. New, 3 BD, 2 BA, whirlpool tub, fireplace, detached 2 car garage. Open floor plan with abundant natural light. Investment potential - possible to subdivide. Motivated Seller. $219K/offer. Reeves Real Estate, Agent: Flo Orona, Canon City, CO. 719.275.8100 Ref: MLS#R22408

LODGING MAD MOOSE LODGE Cabins, Rooms, Camping, Meals. Your gateway to Superior Ice. Montreal River Harbour, Ontario., 705-882-1032


THE MAZAMAS, a mountaineering club in Portland OR, has a century-old tradition of supporting mountain exploration. It is with this foundation that the Mazamas Expedition Committee provides expedition grants to support groundbreaking climbing efforts. Climbers do not need to be Mazama members to qualify for expedition grants. For more i n fo rm a t i o n p l e a s e c o n ta c t t h e M a z a m a s clubrooms at: 503-227-2345 or the web at:

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES BROTHER / SISTER CAMPS IN WESTERN NC seek traditional climbers and experienced backpackers; 21+ preferred; minimum through first year of college. Other needs included paddling, sailing, riding, biking. Mondamin and Green Cove, PO Box 8, Tuxedo, NC 28784; 800-688-5789;;




ELBRUS and beyond with Mountain High international guiding. American guide fluent in Russian with extensive experience on Elbrus and a strong local staff. Summer climbs and ski descents, winter backcountry, and custom trips. 206-396-2059

CANADA CLIMB ON SUPERIOR ICE THIS WINTER Courses, Guiding, Exploration, Snowmachine shuttle. www.nor; HELI MOUNTAINEERING. Mountaineering/Climbing Courses, Heli Hiking,; 888-837-5417

SOUTH AMERICA CLIMB ECUADOR. Climbing trips to ECUADOR (16 days/$2000), BOLIVIA (17 days/$2400 -- with five-star hotel in La Paz) and PERU (21 days/$2800). Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, Illimani, Sajama, Huascaran, Alpamayo. Plus Cuzco, Machu Picchu, Galapagos. (212) 362-4721 or ACONCAGUA SPECIALISTS. 10 Years Experience, Satellite Phones & Pulse Oximeters used on all trips. 10 departures, Unique Routes, & Small Groups. Also Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador, Nepal, Pakistan, Africa, & Alaska Programs. ALASKA MOUNTAIN GUIDES and CLIMBING SCHOOL Inc. 800-766-3396; ACONCAGUA SPECIALISTS FOR 25 YEARS! Aconcagua Expeditions via our new and pristine Guanacos Valley Route. Polish Glacier and Traverse approaches via the Guanacos Valley. Highest success rate, experience and quality in the field. First Class Expeditions to: Patagonia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Antarctica, Alaska and the Alps. AVENTURAS PATAGONICAS Internationally Certified Guides (IFMGA/UIAGM) 888-203-9354.; ACONCAGUA EXPRESS Guided Expeditions: Normal, Polish Glacier, Polish & Traverse, Guanacos & Traverse Routes. Quality & Professional Certified Guides, international air fare included. Mules, base camp and logistics support, local Aconcagua operation. US Phone 866-690-8423.;

Patagonia Mountain Agency EXPEDITIONS & GUIDES

Tel/Fax (907) 789-1960 P.O. Box 210516 Auke Bay, AK 99821


Dhaulagiri (8164m) Gasherbrum II (8035m) K2 via Basque route (8611m)

April 15 - May 22 June 14 - July 25 June 10 to August 25

(For Experienced climbers only—non guided expedition)

Shisha Pangma (8013m) Ama Dablam (6856m)

September 7 - October 16 October 16 - November 14

2004 TREKS:

Nepal – Dhaulagiri April/May Pakistan – (K-2 BC, Gondogoro La) June/July China – Muztagh-Ata July/August Tibet – Mt. Kailas September Nepal – Island Peak October E-mail:


GENERAL Ready for an Adventure? Let us take you climbing. World renowned international guiding company providing small and superbly run expeditions. O U R AY, C O I C E C L I M B I N G ! 719-448-0800 PEAK FREAK EXPEDITIONS- Mt. Everest, Mt. Pumori, Mt. Ama Dablam, Heli-skiing, Canada, since 1991. Join Tim Rippel. ADVENTURE CONSULTANTS - world renowned expedition guiding company directed by Guy Cotter, operating in the Himalaya, South America, Antarctica/Arctic and on the Seven Summits since 1991, plus climbing school and guided ascents in New Zealand. Our IFMGA climbing guides will equip you with the skills for success on the big climbs; Cook, Tasman, Denali, Ama Dablam, Great Trango...Call today, ph +64 3 443 8711 fax +64 3 443 8733; MOUNTAIN MADNESS. Join our Alpine & Rock climbing school in the Cascades and South America. Climb the Seven Summits, Kilimanjaro, Cho Oyu, Everest, trek in Patagonia, the Inca Trail & to Everest Basecamp. Cascade volcanoes & classic North Cascade climbs all summer. 800-328-5925; ADVENTURES INTERNATIONAL. Expedition guide service: 7 summits, Aconcagua, Patagonia, Africa, Alaska, Bolivia, Peru, Elbrus, Europe, Lhotse-Nuptse-Everest 2005, Khan Tengri, Peak Lenin, Vinson, more. 20+ years high altitude specialists. Scott Woolums, AMGA Certified Alpine Guide. 800-247-1263; 8000M CLIMBING IN 2004. Gasherbrum II is the most straightforward of the 8k peaks and ideal for climbers with some altitude experience. Fully resourced and professionally led, this expedition starts in Islamabad on 12 July. Full ground fee USD$5900. 7000M CLIMBING IN 2004. Spantik and Aconcagua expeditions open now for 2004/5. Join the more than 220 climbers who have stepped onto one of these summits as part of an FTA organised expedition. Fully resourced, professionally led, and very cost effective.




San Juan Mountain Guides, LLC Personalized, professional instruction & guiding in the art of climbing. MOUNTAINEERING ROCK & ICE BIG WALLS AVALANCHE & BACKCOUNTRY COURSEWORK

All experience levels.

970-325-4925 PO Box 895 Ouray, CO 81427


OUTPOST WILDERNESS ADVENTURE- 26 years of quality instruction in rock and alpine climbing, specifically geared to teenagers-- advanced as well as motivated beginners. Colorado base camp facility. Small groups, experienced guides and only the best climbing in Colorado, Wyoming, Mexico's Copper Canyon and Bolivia. or 830-825-3015.

SKY'S THE LIMIT. Climbing School & Guide Service: Red Rock, Mt. Charleston, minutes from Las Vegas! Nevada's Premier Company of Guides. 800.733.7597; RHINOCEROS MOUNTAIN GUIDES, Jim Shimberg. Guiding since 1986 in NH and worldwide. 603-726-3030 or Rock Barn 603-520-5696. PACIFIC NW CLIMBING. Single and multiple-day climbs, alpine traverses, and alpine and rock climbing instruction in the Pacific NW. 2004 International Expeditions: Mt. ELBRUS - AUG-SEP, NEPAL - OCT-NOV, ECUADOR - DEC., (877) 965-5100 FOX MOUNTAIN GUIDES. Guiding, Climbing Courses and AMGA Top Rope Site Manager Courses, Exams and Recertification in the Southeast. Ph: 828-606-4989 HIMALAYA EXPEDITION with Daniel Mazur. EVEREST, Pumori, Lakpa-Ri, Amadablam, Cho-oyu, Treks, 360-570-0715,,

ROCK GYMS ABOVE OURAY ICE & DEVILS TOWER ROCK GUIDES * Certified * Instruction & Guiding *Moab-Canyonlands Utah, Black Hills Needles, Unaweep, Colorado National Monument; 888-345-9061; 157 HWY 24, Devils Tower, WY 82714; 450 Main, POB 1073, Ouray, CO 81427;; ALASKA ALPINE ADVENTURES. Custom, Personalized & Gourmet guided adventures in "REAL" Alaska. Mountaineering, ice climbing, backcountry skiing and backpacking expeditions in the Alaska and Aleutian Ranges. First ascents, descents and more! or toll-free; 877-525-2577 SOAR HIGH CLIMBING ADVENTURES, LLC. Specializing in guiding Rock and Ice climbing. Course books and Customized DVD's of your climbing experience. Kids Programs available (rentals included).



Malibu. AGOURA HILLS/CALABASAS COMMUNITY CENTER. 35 Foot Sculpted wall, auto-belays, campus board, instruction, extensive weights & aerobic equipment, gymnasium, spinning. 818-880-2993;


Marin County. CLASS 5. 6K sq. ft. climbing. Fitness center. Retail shop. A Touchstone gym. 25B Dodie St., San Rafael, CA 94901; 415.485.6931;

East Sussex. EVOLUTION INDOOR CLIMBING. Just 5 Minutes From Harrisons Rocks.; 01892 863659. Lye Green; Crowborough; East Sussex Newmarket, Ontario. ROCK & CHALK CLIMBING. Climate controlled. Open 7 days. 905-895-ROCK; Toronto, Ontario. JOE ROCKHEAD'S CLIMBING GYM. It’s so much fun you’ll pee your pants. 29 Fraser Ave., Toronto, Ontario M6K 1Y7; 416-538-7670; Toronto, Ontario. THE ROCK OASIS. 15,000 square feet. 60 foot high climbs & lots of bouldering. 27 Bathurst Street, Toronto, M5V 2P1; 416-703-3434;

COSTA RICA San Jose, MUNDO AVENTURA. Climbing Gym & Adventure. Paseo Colon, Between 36th & 38th St. 03 Ave.; Ph: 506-221-6934; email:;; San Jose, Costa Rica

ALABAMA Birmingham. URBAN OUTPOST. Indoor bouldering cave, gear shop, outdoor climbing classes. (205) 879-8850.

Alaska Mountaineering School guiding instruction custom climbs



ARIZONA Scottsdale, AZ ON THE ROCKS - State of the art, approx. 14,000 square feet, fully air-conditioned, lead climbing, showers. 480-502-9777;




Mountain Trip Join us in the mountains of Alaska. Climb Denali via three routes. Mountaineering Seminars and Skiing Adventures in the Alaska Range.

P.O. Box 111809 Anchorage, AK 99511 907-345-6499 E-mail:

Pasadena. JUNGLE GYM ROCK CLIMBING, Pasadena, CA 626-446-5014 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; Sacramento. SACRAMENTO PIPEWORKS. 10K sq. ft. climbing. Full fitness center and programs. Retail shop. A Touchstone gym. 116 N. 16th St. (16th & A), Sacramento, CA 95814; 916-341-0100; Upland. HANGAR 18 INDOOR CLIMBING GYM. 2 5 6 Stowell St., Ste. A, Upland, CA 91786; 909-931-599;

Phoenix. SOLIDROCK GYM. Best Climbing in Phoenix. 40+ topropes, 100's of well set, frequently changed routes, beginner to expert. Awesome dedicated lead area and fantastic bouldering. I-17 & Loop 101 area, 23620 N. 20th Drive, Ste 24, (623) 587-7625.

San Diego. SOLIDROCK GYM. Three locationsDOWNTOWN, POWAY, and SAN MARCOS. 30 foot walls, 35-45+ ropes. Hundreds of clearly marked, frequently changed, expertly set routes. Toproping, bouldering and lead climbing.; 619-299-1124

Tempe. PHOENIX ROCK GYM. 1353 E. University, Tempe, AZ 85281; 480-921-8322.

CALIFORNIA Accredited Member of the AMGA

Orange County. SOLIDROCK GYM. (Lake Forest) 10,000 sq. ft. climbable terrain. Top roping, bouldering, lead climbing. 26784 Vista Terrace; 949-588-6200;

Flagstaff. VERTICAL RELIEF CLIMBING CENTER. Awesome indoor walls, guiding and instruction, gear shop, S.W. guidebooks, showers. 928-556-9909; Toll Free: 877- 265-5984;


Monterey Peninsula. SANCTUARY ROCK GYM. 1855A East Ave., Sand City, CA 93955; 831-899-2595;

Anaheim Hills. ROCK CITY CLIMBING CENTER. 714-777-4884; 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;

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; 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;

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;

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;

Davis. ROC KNASIUM. Great Routes. Good People. 720 Olive Dr., Suite Z, Davis, CA 95616; 530-757-2902;

San 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;

Fresno. YOSEMITE FITNESS INDOOR CLIMBING GYM. Bouldering, Crack, Lead & Top Roping. 50 miles from Yosemite. 559-229-ROCK (7625);

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;

Los Angeles. RED ROX HOLLYWOOD BOULDERING. 7416 Melrose; 310-980-2082;


ROCK GYMS Santa Cruz. PACIFIC EDGE. Indoor climbing at its finest! 50 feet tall, Huge Lead Cave, Extensive Bouldering, Pro-Shop. 104 Bronson S t., 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 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

COLORADO Boulder. Boulder Rock Club - Colorado's Premier Climbing Gym. 800.836.4008 Colorado Springs. SPORT CLIMBING CENTER. Colorado’s ultimate indoor climbing destination. Spacious. Over 13,000 square feet. Guiding available. 4 6 5 0 N o r t h p a r k D r . , 8 0 918 ; 719 - 2 6 0 - 1 0 5 0 ;



Miami. X-TREME ROCK CLIMBING. Florida’s premier climbing facility. 12,000+ square feet of state-of-the-art fully textured arches, aretes, slabs & overhangs. 13972 SW 139 Court, 33186; 305-233-6623.

Bloomington. HOOSIER HEIGHTS. 8,500 square feet of climbable terrain. Outdoor Trips. New Bloomington site January 2004 with 10,000+ square feet.; 812-824-6414.

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;

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 multi-tiered, 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;


ILLINOIS Bloomington. UPPER LIMITS. Over 20,000 ft2, 65’ silos, wave wall, bi-level cave, large outdoor bouldering area and 110’ routes. Climate controlled! Just off I-55 and I-74 309-829-TALL (8255); 2

Fort Collins. INNER STRENGTH ROCK GYM. 5800 square feet. 3713 South Mason, Fort Collins, CO; 970282-8118; Fort Collins. THE GYM OF THE ROCKIES. Over 6000 sq. ft. of awesome terrain. New cave. 1800 Heath Pkwy.; 970-221-5000. Glenwood Springs. C O LO 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 M y s t i c . O L L I E ' S R O C K G Y M . M y s t i c , C T. 8 6 0 - 5 7 2 - R O C K ; Largest Bouldering Cave in the North East! Manchester. STONE AGE ROCK GYM. 860-645-0015; Wallingford. PRIME CLIMB. Connecticut's FIRST and BEST climbing gym. (203) 265-7880;



Indianapolis. CLIMBTIMEINDY. 8750 Corporation D r. I n d i a n a p o l i s , I N 4 6 2 5 0 317 - 5 9 6 - 3 3 3 0 ;


GEORGIA Atlanta. WALL CRAWLER ROCK CLUB. Atlanta's neighborhood climbing gym. Where the climbers hang out! 404-371-8997

Pocatello. I DA H O S TAT E UNIVERSITY R E E D GY M C L I M B I N G WALL 208-282-3825; 35' top ropes, 25' overhang, leads, and bouldering

Denver. PARADISE ROCK GYM. The best!! 6260 N. Washington St., Unit 5, Denver, CO 80216; 303-286-8168.


Chicago. VERTICAL ENDEAVORS. 18,000ft of climbing on 40 ft. walls. 19 auto belays. Programs and outdoor guiding for all ages. 630-836-0122 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; C r y s t a l L a ke . N O R T H WA L L . 815 - 3 5 6 - 6 8 5 5 ; www.climbnor 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; Homewood. CLIMB ON. 18120 Harwood Ave, Homewood, IL 60430; 708-798-9994; Rockford. NORTHLANDER ROCK 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

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, Rockville. SPORTROC K w w w. s p o r t ro c k . c o m


7 0 3 - 212 - 76 2 5 ;


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)

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 248-334-3904 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;; 616-281-7088 Grand Rapids. HIGHER GROUND ROCK CLIMBING CENTRE, LTD. 851 Bond NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503; 616-774-3100; 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;

MINNESOTA Rochester. PRAIRIE WALLS CLIMBING GYM. 507-292-0511 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.

ROCK GYMS MISSOURI Springfield. PETRA ROCK GYM. 916 N. Cedarbrook, Springfield, MO; 417-866-3308; St. Louis. UPPER LIMITS. 10,000 ft2 of custom sculpted terrain. Climate Controlled! Auto belays. Conveniently located off I-64/40 behind Union Station. Free parking. (314) 241-ROCK (7625);

NEW JERSEY East Hanover. DIAMOND ROCK. 3,000 square feet, seamless texture, 37 foot peak; 973-560-0413. Edison. WALL STREET ROCK GYM. 5,000 square feet. 216 Tingley Ln. 908-412-1255; 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; Hamilton. ROCKVILLE CLIMBING CENTER. 200 Whitehead Road. 32 foot Eldorado Walls. Awesome bouldering cave. Air conditioned. 609-631-ROCK. Piscataway. RUTGERS COLLEGE ROCK GYM. Largest College Rock Gym in the tri state area 2800 sq feet. Call 732-932-5811 for hours and details.

NEW MEXICO Albuquerque. STONE AGE CLIMBING GYM. NM's Biggest and Best, Multi-level Bouldering Cave, Leading, Guiding, Complete Climbing Shop. 505-341-2016,

NEW YORK Albany. ALBANY'S INDOOR ROCK GYM. Over 6,000 square feet of climbing. Only caving system. 4C Vatrano Road, Albany, New York; 518-459-7625 Buffalo/Niagara Falls. NIAGARA CLIMBING CENTER. 716-695-1248; New Paltz. THE INNER WALL. Main St., Eckerdâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Plaza, New Paltz, NY; 845-255-7625. Rochester. ROCKVENTURES. Largest in North Americaover 18,000 square feet of climbing! 585-442-5462;

NORTH CAROLINA Charlotte. INNER PEAKS CLIMBING CENTER. 9 5 3 5 M o n ro e R d . , S t e . 17 0 , C h a r l o t t e , N C 2 8 2 7 0 ; 7 0 4 - 8 4 4 - 6 6 7 7 ; w w w. i n n e r p e a k s . c o m

OHIO Cleveland. CLEVEL AND ROCK GYM, INC. 216-692-3300;

OKLAHOMA Oklahoma City. OKC ROCKS CLIMBING GYM. Tallest Artificial Climb in America - 145 ft. Awesome lead routes, TR's and Bouldering. 405-319-1400; Tulsa. NEW HEIGHTS ROCK GYM. 1140 S. 107th East Ave. Tulsa, OK 74128; 918-439-4400;

OREGON P o r t l a n d . P O R T L A N D R O C K G Y M . 21 N E 12 t h P o r t l a n d , O R 9 7 2 3 2 ; 5 0 3 - 2 3 2 - 8 31 0 ; www.por

Tigard. CLUBSPORT ROCK GYM. 18120 SW Lower Boones Ferry Rd. Tigard, OR 97224. 503-968-4535; 11,500 sq. ft. to 45 ft high. Textured Walls.

PENNSYLVANIA Oaks. PHILADELPHIA ROCK GYM. 422 Business Center, PO Box 511, Oaks, PA 19456; 610-666-ROPE; Philadelphia. GO VERTICAL. Philadelphia's only climbing gym. Open 7 days a week at 10am every day. Call 215-928-1800; Pittsburgh. THE CLIMBING WALL at the factory. 14,500 square feet. 7501 Penn Ave., 15208; 412247-7334; Wind Gap. NORTH SUMMIT CLIMBING GYM. Large, all extremes, professional walls and routes. Easy access from Eastern PA, NY and NJ. 610-863-4444


TENNESSEE Chattanooga. THE TENNESSEE BOULDERING AUTHORITY. Indoor climbing, instruction, guiding and fraternizing. 423-822-6800

TEXAS Carrollton. EXPOSURE ROCK CLIMBING. Over 9,000 square feet of climbing, excellent bouldering and gear shop. Portable climbing wall available.

VIRGINIA Alexandria. S P O R T R O C K






7 0 3 - 212 - 76 2 5 ;

V i 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;

WASHINGTON Monroe. CLIMB ON! - Fun and friendly bouldering + top rope. Indoor and outdoor instruction from experienced Mountain Guides. 360-805-5848; 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; 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; S p o ka n e . W I L D WA L L S C L I M B I N G GY M & GEAR STORE. 40 foot walls, toprope, lead bouldering 202 West 2nd Ave, Spokane, WA 99201; 509-455-9596;

WISCONSIN Appleton. VERTICAL STRONGHOLD Indoor/outdoor climbing center and gear shop. 9,000+ feet of climbing fun. Longest uninterrupted bouldering. 920-731-2720;; 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; Whitewater. ROCKSPORT CLIMBING, INC. 300 ft. of continuous bouldering. 38 top-ropes over 30' tall. 70' leadable arch. Over 10,000 ft (sq) of climbing. 262-470-0702;

WYOMING Casper. THE PEAK. 408 N. Beverly, Casper, WY 82609; 307-472-4084



Authorized Dealer

ONLINE RETAILERS 800-959-3785 509-325-9855 1314 South Grand Blvd. #2-292 Spokane,WA 99202

APPALACHIAN SKI & OUTDOORS 814-234-3000 toll free 800-690-5220 123 South Allen St. State College, PA 16801 800-953-5499 207 Madison St. Eugene, OR 97402 800-CAMPMOR 800-(226-7667) Catalog- PO Box 700 Saddle River, NJ 07458

CLIMB MAX 800-895-0048 503-797-1991 F 503-236-9553 2105 S.E. Division Portland, OR 97202 888-580-5510 815-667-7170 F 815-667-9970 201 Donaldson St. Utica, IL 61373


NORTHERN MOUNTAIN SUPPLY 800-878-3583 707-445-1711 F 707-445-0871 125 W. 5th St. Eureka, CA 95501

800-829-2009 F 509-325-3030 730 N. Hamilton Spokane,WA 99202

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12 E. Aspen Ave. Flagstaff, AZ 86001 928-774-4775 F 928-774-4561 GRANITE MOUNTAIN OUTFITTERS 320 W. Gurley St. Prescott, AZ 86301 928-776-4949

SUMMIT HUT 800-638-6464 F 800-543-5522 38 locations worldwide

5045 E. Speedway Tucson, AZ 85712 and 605 E.Wetmore Tucson, AZ 85705 800-499-8696

CALIFORNIA 800-485-1439 541-947-7855 F 541-947-7855 360 South H Street Lakeview, OR 97630

ADVENTURE 16 11161 W. Pico Blvd. West Los Angeles, CA 90064 310-473-4574 for other SO CAL locations: BERKELEY IRONWORKS 800 Potter St. Berkeley, CA 94710 510-981-9900 CLASS 5

888-707-6708 100 Tremont St. Chattanooga,TN 37405

25-B Dodie St. San Rafael, CA 94901 415-485-6931

SHORELINE MOUNTAIN PRODUCTS 800-381-2733 415-455-1000 F 415-455-1363 21 Golden Gate Dr., Unit C San Rafael, CA 94901

SIERRA TRADING POST 800-713-4534 F 800-378-8946 5025 Campstool Road Cheyenne,WY 82007 GRANITE ARCH GEAR CLOSET 11335 Folsom Blvd. Bldg., G Rancho Cordova, CA 95742 916-638-4605 F 916-638-4706

MAMMOTH MOUNTAINEERING SUPPLY 3189 Main St. (Next to Wave Rave) Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546 760-934-4191 MARMOT MOUNTAIN WORKS 3049 Adeline St. Berkeley, CA 94703 800-MARMOT-9 (627-6689) MISSION CLIFFS

800-MARMOT-9 (627-6689) 3049 Adeline St. Berkeley CA 94703


BABBITT'S BACKCOUNTRY OUTFITTERS 800-499-8696 F 520-795-7350 5045 E. Speedway Tucson, AZ 85712

2295 Harrison St. San Francisco, CA 94110 415-550-0515 NOMAD VENTURES 405 W. Grand Ave. Escondido, CA 92025 760-747-8223

"Gear for everything outdoors" 5516 Hickory Valley Rd Heiskell,TN 37754 865-494-WILD

ALABAMA OUTDOORS 3054 Independence Dr. Birmingham, AL 35209 205-870.1919 F 205-870-5505 800-870-0011





2633 Spenard Rd. Anchorage, AK 99503 907-272-1811 F 907-274-6362

11649 N Cave Creek Rd Phoenix, AZ 85020 602-944-7723 F 602-861-0221 1-800-964-1673

209 W. Hampden Ave. Englewood, CO 80110 800-841-0707


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112 S Ridge St Breckenridge, CO 80424 970-453-2201


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2835 Pearl Street (near Whole Foods) Boulder, CO 80301 303-442-8355 800-558-6770

217 Alma St. Palo Alto, CA 94301 650-327-1563 THE NORTH FACE 180 Post St. San Francisco, CA 94108 415-433-3223 TOUCHSTONE - CONCORD 1220 Diamond Way #140 Concord, CA 94520 925-602-1000 TOUCHSTONE - SAN JOSE 210 S. 1st St. #70 San Jose, CA 95113 408-920-6000 VALLEY SPORTING GOODS McHenry Village 1700 McHenry Ave., #D50 Modesto, CA 95350 209-523-5681 F 209-523-0624 800-435-0150 WILDERNESS EXCHANGE 1407 San Pablo Ave. Berkeley, CA 94702 888-326-7021 F 510-528-1789 722 Main Ouray, CO 81427 970-325-4284

NOMAD VENTURES 996 A North Coast Hwy. 101 Leucadia, CA 92024 760-634-4855 NORTHERN MOUNTAIN SUPPLY 125 W. 5th St. Eureka, CA 95501 707-445-1711 F 707-445-0781 800-878-3583 BENT GATE MOUNTAINEERING 1300 Washington Ave. Golden, CO 80401 303-271-9382 F 303-271-3980 877-BENT GATE

307 8th St. Glenwood Springs, CO 81601 970-945-6994 800-360-6994



629-K S. Broadway Boulder, CO 80303 303-499-1731


FLORIDA BLACK CREEK OUTFITTERS 10051 Skinner Lake Dr. Jacksonville, FL 32246 904-645-7003 F 904-645-9727




36A Main St. Orono, ME 04473 888-232-9559 Gear deals!

Visit CADILLAC MOUNTAIN SPORTS 26 Cottage St. Bar Harbor, ME 04069 207-288-4532 F 207-288-8260 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 21093 410-560-5665 F 410-560-2260 800-CLIMB-UP 3906-B Roswell Rd Atlanta, GA 30342 404-814-0999

IDAHO LOST RIVER SPORTS 516 N. Main St. Hailey, ID 83333 208-788-7625


EARTH TREKS 1930 Greenspring Dr. Timonium, MD 21093 410-560-5665 F 410-560-2260 800-CLIMB-UP THE TRAIL HOUSE 17 S. Market St. Frederick, MD 21701 301-694-8448 F 301-694-8449

MASSACHUSETTS ADVENTURE OUTFITTERS 451 Russell St. Hadley, MA 01035 413-253-5500 F 413-253-0694


189 Moore Dr. Lexington, KY 40503 859-278-0730 800-677-9300

THE NORTH FACE 226 N.Tejon Colorado Springs, CO 80903 719-633-0732 800-346-7044


1555 E New Circle Rd Lexington, KY 40509 859-266-0469 F 859-269-5190

1205 Camino del Rio Durango, CO 81301 970-247-5830 F 970-247-8013 800-648-8519


224 N. Main St. Bishop, CA 93514 760-873-7520






54415 N. Circle Dr. Idyllwild, CA 92549 909-659-4853




John Hancock Center 875 N. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60611 312-337-7200

633 S. Broadway, Unit A Boulder, CO 80305 303-499-8866




423 N. Beverly Dr. Beverly Hills, CA 90210 310-246-4120

109 N. College Ave. Bloomington, IN 47402 812-334-1845 800-440-1845

2455 Railroad Ave. Livermore, CA 94550 925-447-8330 and 15-B Crescent Dr. Pleasant Hill, CA 94523 925-686-9740

61795-29 Palms Hwy. Ste. A Joshua Tree, CA 92252 760-366-4684

PO Box 748 1 Front St. Talkeetna, AK 99676 907-733-4444 F 907-733-2230 800-349-0064



201 Donaldson St. Utica, IL 61373 815-667-7170 F 815-667-9970 888-580-5510




929 E. California Blvd. Pasadena, CA 91106 626-568-8828 F 626-568-9693

425 Market Place Roswell (Atlanta), GA 30075 770-992-5400 F 770-992-9343 ONE LIFE OUTFITTERS


101 S. Banker St. Effingham IL 62401 217-347-0174


Authorized Dealer



78 G Olympia Ave. Woburn, MA 01801 781-935-5641

2733 Main St. North Conway, NH 03860 603-356-6316 F 603-356-6492



6 E. Mountain St. Worcester, MA 01606 508-853-9407

Route 16-302 Intervale, NH 03845 603-356-3042 F 603-356-8815


3 Railroad Street Andover, MA 01810 978-475-3665 F 978-470-1982


SUMMERS BACKCOUNTRY OUTFIITTERS 16 Ashuelot St. Keene, NH 03431 603-357-5107 F 603-357-4728

INSIDE MOVES 639 1/2 76th St. S.W. Byron Center, MI 49315 616-281-7088

LEE'S SPORTS 311 W. Kilgore St. Kalamazoo, MI 49002 269-381-7700 F 269-381-5530 HIGHER GROUND OUTFITTERS 2166 Wealthy SE East Grand Rapids, MI 49506 616-459-7290

NEW JERSEY CAMPMOR 810 Route 17 N. Paramus, NJ 07652 201-445-5000 800-CAMPMOR RAMSEY OUTDOOR STORE 1039 Route 46 W. Ledgewood, NJ 07852 973-584-7799


240 Route 17 N. Paramus, NJ 07652 201-261-5000


82 Aprill Dr. Ann Arbor, MI 48103 734-827-2680 and 34 Rapid St. Pontiac, MI 48342 248-334-3904 888-334-ROCK

NEW MEXICO MOUNTAINS AND RIVERS 2320 Central Ave. S. E. Albuquerque, NM 87106 505-268-4876 F 505-256-3986




114 S. Plaza Taos, NM 87571 505-758-9292

309 Cedar Ave. S. Minneapolis, MN 55454 612-339-3433 888-999-1077 Free Climbing Cave

MONTANA NORTHERN LIGHTS TRADING CO. 1716 W. Babcock Bozeman, MT 59715 406-586-2225 F 406-586-7544 866-586-2225 Skiing, Climbing, Boating

PIPESTONE MOUNTAINEERING 129 W Front St Missoula, MT 59801 406-721-1670

NEVADA DESERT ROCK SPORTS 8201 W. Charleston Blvd. Las Vegas, NV 89117 702-254-1143 F 702-254-1050

NEW HAMPSHIRE CRAGGERS 2730 Main St. North Conway, NH 03860 603-356-8877

NEW YORK LAKE PLACID MOUNTAINEERING 132 Main St. Lake Placid, NY 12946 518-523-7586 888-547-4327 ROCK & SNOW 44 Main St. New Palz, NY 12561 845-255-1311 F 845-255-1360 TENT & TRAILS 21 Park Place New York, NY 10007 212-227-1760 800-237-1760 THE MOUNTAINEER Box 66, Route 73 Keene Valley, NY 12943 518-576-2281 F 518-576-4352 THE NORTH FACE

JESSE BROWN’S OUTDOORS 4732 Sharon Rd, Ste. 2M Charlotte, NC 28210 704-556-0020 TRAIL SHOP INC. 308 W Franklin St Chapel Hill, NC 27516 919-929-7626

3265 East 3300 South Salt Lake City, UT 84109 801-484-8073 F 801-467-7884

100 Higginson Ave. Lincoln, RI 02865 401-727-1704 F 401-727-4447



SOUTH FACE GUIDES, LTD. 446-B Patterson Rd. Dayton, OH 45419 937-626-6283 F 937-396-0573 WILD MERCANTILE, LTD. 30 East State Street Athens, Ohio 45701 740-594-5198 F 740-594-8253


Highway 276 Travelers Rest, SC 29690 864-834-3019 F 864-834-2679

TENNESSEE ROCK/CREEK OUTFITTERS 100 Tremont St. Chattanooga,TN 37405 423-265-5969 and 2220 Hamilton Place Blvd. Chattanooga,TN 37421 423-485-8775

TEXAS MAPLE LEAF INDUSTRIES 480 South 50 East Ephraim, UT 84627 435-283-4400 F 435-283-6872 800-671-5323 MOUNTAINWORKS 2494 N. University Pkwy. Provo, UT 84604 801-371-0223 F 801-371-0223

PAGAN MOUNTAINEERING 59 South Main St. #2 Moab, UT 84532 435-259-1117 F 435-259-1119 WASATCH TOURING 702 East 100 South Salt Lake City, UT 84102 801-359-9361 F 801-534-0905

2105 S.E. Division St. Portland, OR 97202 503-797-1991 F 503-236-9553 800-895-0048





MOUNTAIN SUPPLY 834 Colorado Street Bend, OR 97701 541-388-0668 800-794-0688

2025 West Pioneer Pkwy. Arlington,TX 76013 817-461-4503 800-805-9139

by Whole Earth Provision Co. 2410 San Antonio St. Austin,TX 78705 512-478-1577

2438 Shelburne Rd. Shelburne,VT 05482 802-985-5055

639 NW Franklin Ave. Bend, OR 97701 541-382-6872 F 541-382-6853





975 NW Smith Rock Way Terrebonne, OR 97760 541-923-6207 F 541-548-3175 800-923-6207

S. Lamar & Hwy 290 (Westgate) Austin,TX 78745 512-899-0992

REDPOINT CLIMBERS SUPPLY ROCKHARD Smith Rock State Park 9297 N.E. Crooked River Dr. Terrebonne, OR 97760 541-548-4786

THE LEDGE Extreme Gear for the Next Step 1010 Main St Klamath Falls, OR 97601 541-882-5586 F 541-882-5586

1014 N. Lamar Austin,TX 78703 512-476-1414 WHOLE EARTH PROVISION CO. 5400 E. Mockingbird Ln. Dallas,TX 75206 214-824-7444

2934 S. Shepherd Houston,TX 77098 713-526-5226 WHOLE EARTH PROVISION CO.



4037 William Penn Highway Monroeville, PA 15146 412-372-7030 F 412-372-7046




AVENTURAS TIERRA ADENTRO 268-A Pinero Ave. University Gardens San Juan, PR 00927 787-766-0470 F 787-754-7543

MOUNTAIN TRAILS 212 E. Cork St. Winchester,VA 22601 540-667-0030 F 540-667-2618



99 N West End Blvd Quakertown, PA 18951 215-529-0100 800-439-2858 F 215-529-9959




255 E. Basse (Alamo Quarry) San Antonio,TX 78209 210-829-8888

152 Cherry St. Burlington,VT 05401 802-860-0190 888-547-4327



2617 Hendersonville Rd. Arden NC 28704 828-684-6262


2101 Broadway (at 73rd) New York, NY 10023 212-362-1000



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 HURST 160 N 500 W (corner of Bluff and Blvd.) St. George, UT 84770 435-673-6141 F 435-628-3380


THE NORTH FACE 1023 First Ave. Seattle,WA 98104 206-622-4111

WEST VIRGINIA ADVENTURE’S EDGE 131 Pleasant St. Morgantown,WV 26505 304-296-9007 F 304-292-2295 WATER STONE OUTDOORS 101 E.Wiseman Ave. Fayetteville,WV 25840 304-574-2425 F 304-574-2563

WISCONSIN VERTICAL STRONGHOLD 719 W. Frances St. Appleton,WI 54914 920-731-2720 F 920-734-0321 WHEELER’S CAMPGROUND E. 11329 Hwy. 159 Baraboo,WI 53913 608-356-4877

WYOMING ALL TERRAIN SPORTS 412 Grand Ave. Laramie,WY 82070 307-721-8036

SUNLIGHT SPORTS 1251 Sheridan Ave. Cody,WY 82414 307-587-9517 F 307-527-7436 888-889-2463 TETON MOUNTAINEERING 170 N. Cache PO Box 1533 Jackson,WY 83001 307-733-3595 800-850.3595 WILD IRIS 333 Main St. Lander,WY 82520 307-332-4541 F 307-335-8923 888-284-5968

5206 S.Tacoma Way Tacoma,WA 98409 253-472-4402




119 Yale Ave. N. Seattle,WA 98109 206-292-2210 F 206-292-9667

2777 St-Martin Blvd West Laval, PQ H7T 2Y7 and 2159 St-Catherine East Montreal, PQ, H2K 2H9 800-567-1106


827 Bellevue N.E. Bellevue,WA 98004 800-CLIMBIN

MOUNTAIN MAGIC EQUIPMENT SECOND ASCENT 5209 Ballard Ave. NW Seattle,WA 98107 206-545-8810 F 206-545-9397

224 Bear St Banff, AB T0L0C 403-762-2591 F 403-762-4672 800-661-0399




5 miles outside Mt. Ranier National Park, 30027 SR 706 East Ashford,WA 98304 800-238-5756

1F on Yip Building, 395 Shanghai St., Kowloon Hong Kong, China 852-23848190 F 852-27707110

After 15 years in Yosemite’s Camp 4, 32-year-old Ben Dangling is done dirtbagging. “I mean, I’m still a soul climber,” he said during a recent interview. “I’m still slacklining and all, doing a little bouldering, but from now on, I’m wringing this bitch for every last nickel.” Dangling, who used to survive by canning and dealing overpriced brickweed to Japanese tourists, took a break from an afternoon’s cave meditation to speak to Rock and Ice. “Before, I was full-on Zen focused, bra,” he said, clutching a shot of wheat grass. “Not anymore. The truth is, I’m sick of riding the cutting edge—Royal Arches barefoot, Astroman with only a skeleton rack, the Zodiac hammerless—without getting to spew.” A longtime YOSAR-tent-site resident, Dangling says he misses the good-ol’ times getting ripped around the campfire after a long day of (maybe) climbing: “We’d joke about lame-ass stumblers getting lost on Nutcracker, bitch about P-tail-sportin’ Euros snaking our projects, and shit on people’s fixed ropes as needed. Good times, man. Good times.” “But,” Dangling concluded, “from now on, I’m not climbing unless there’s a photo op.” —T. Diddy

EXCLUSIVE: The New Grand Pooh-bah

There is but one irresistible urge in life, and it’s not your attraction to the opposite gender. We’re talking about the deep lower GI rumblings that signal the beginning of yet another glorious day. Years ago, when we were animals, we’d drop trou and let fly into the nearest crevasse or ceremoniously add our mark to the Salathé. Alas, such behavior is not only socially and environmentally scowled upon, but punishable by fine in many high-traffic areas such as Yosemite’s El Cap and Mount Shasta. Short of guzzling Immodium AD, ▲ AN OUTHOUSE-IN-A-BAG, THE WAG BRINGS what’s a climber now to do? MODERN RELIEF TO OUR MOST ANCIENT URGE. Relief is at hand with the 2.8-ounce WAG (stands for waste alleviation and gelling) bag ($60 for a 12-pack). It goes like this: Liberate your spent fuel into the kit’s plastic green bag, where a chemical concoction known as “Pooh-Powder” gomulates it into something more along the lines of Playdough. Freshen up with the included TP and moist towlette, twist the green bag shut and secure it inside the included puncture-resistant, sealable bag. Stash in your pack or poop tube. When you are back in civilization, toss the package into the nearest trash can (the system is landfill approved). For big walling, Metolius makes a special Waste Case 60), essentially a small vinyl haulbag custom made to house the WAG system.;


Decode this famous climber’s quote by figuring out which letters substitute for others. To get you started, Z=E.











[WORD] “I’m a lot happier now. I’m a member of that club of people that ought to be dead but aren’t.” —MALCOLM DALY, amputee and survivor of a long fall and subsequent rescue on Thunder Mountain, Denali National Park, Alaska.

“I am on my 127th interview and I need beer now! Wish I had stayed in the f—ing crevasse.” —JOE SIMPSON, on a crazed American publicity tour, doing up to nine interviews daily, with multiple cross-country flights and appearances on “Late Night with Dave Letterman” and, possibly, “Oprah”. 106




P X T. ” — R C ZO C D N Z

Blimey! I’ve Walked off a Bleedin’ cliff! According to an AP story, Britain’s Trail Magazine, in its February edition, printed an erroneous trail map to Scottish mountain Ben Nevis (4,406 feet) that leads readers right off the edge of its precipitous north face. A peak known for poor weather and a legacy of bold ice and mixed climbs, the “Ben” is also a famed “hill-walking” (British for “hiking”) destination. Despite the error, there have been no casualties of yet.

Trash-bagwaving climbers at the annual Rifle Mountain Park Clean-up happily complain about the paucity of trash—and indeed, the few-odd Bud cans they usually unearth are most likely redneckian refuse. However, that and other areas are infested with unseen trash— bits of tape festering among the cliff-base pebbles. Newsflash: When you discard your manky, used tape at the base of the rocks, it weathers into paste-gray wads of camouflaged pulp and dry little calamari-like rings. Totally ... faboo.

Website du jour: Though Chris Sharma once said, famously, “Climbing isn’t about math,” he likely hadn’t visited Users of the Swedish website tally up their ticks using online scorecards that assign point values to sport routes and boulder problems alike, allowing climbers to rank themselves against an international field of the like-minded. (The free-to-use site is sometimes derided as “8a.spew,” but don’t laugh: It currently boasts over 5,000 members.) A great source for world climbing news, is still evolving, offering frequently updated hard-send and competition blurbs, interviews with today’s hottest climbers (ever heard of Patxi Usiobaga?), great photos, technique tips, a list of all the 8c+/9a (5.14c/d) and harder routes in the world, web polls like “Where do you find the softest grades?” and more.

ANSWER TO CRYPTICAL: “The best climber in the world is the one who’s having the most fun.” —Alex Lowe

Fact or Fiction: Soul Climber Sells Out


STATISTICS CORNER Web Poll: In terms of visual impact, what type of anchors do you prefer at trad crags? Camouflaged bolts and chains: 76% Pitons and slings: 2% Neither. Top out or go home: 20% Have bolts had a positive or negative influence on American rock climbing? It’s all good, bro: 55% They’re a blight upon the stone: 6% I have mixed feelings on this one: 36% I dunno: 1% Click on for our next web poll.




trendsetters Fashion might be arbitrary, but function is not. Send your products out for enough time on rock and ice, and it soon becomes apparent what works and what doesn't, what stands up to the abuse and what gets cast aside. We don't pick our product testers for their fashion sense.

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John Dickey hitching back to camp after several days on El Cap, Yosemite. Photo: Andrew McGarry Patagonia pledges at least 1% of sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment. To date, Patagonia has donated more than $18 million to grassroots organizations. 1% For The Planet is a trademark of 1% For The Planet, Inc. Š 2004 Patagonia, Inc.


Rock and Ice issue 132