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JUNE 2004

Next Issue: Bouldering Extravaganza Special

36 FAME, SHAME AND LAMENESS You may not have noticed, but American sport climbing just turned 21. Groove on the dirty deeds, bitter controversies and hard-earned achievements that have defined the growing pains of U.S. bolt clipping. BY MATT SAMET

44 OVER THE BRINK Jim Earl lived for thin ice, big mountains and Jesus. So where was his savior when Earl tumbled into the darkness while descending a hairy new alpine route in Peru? BY KELLY CORDES

48 SO ILL A crying stripper, a rubber-skinned climber, a circus reject, a hoedown at Fred’s Dance Barn and beautiful bullet sandstone boulders. The only thing tedious about our Odysseus’ trip to southern Illinois was the 2,400-mile drive. BY JONATHAN THESENGA PHOTOS BY ALLY DOREY

ON THE COVER: Chris Sharma and other young

American sport climbers have ushered in an age of enlightenment. PHOTO BY COREY RICH INSETS: Tony Yaniro (top) and John Bachar. PHOTOS BY RANDY LEAVITT, GREG EPPERSON THIS PAGE: The godfather of sport climbing, Alan

Watts, showcasing 1980s fashion on Vicious Fish (5.13c/d), Smith Rock, Oregon. PHOTO BY BETH WALD

DEPARTMENTS JUNE 2004 Issue 133 //

08) 10) 56) 99)




Rock-Shoe Review



Rosaasen rocks, Lee leads at the PCA comp; Dreamtime and other Swiss testpieces chipped; Ethan Pringle snags Las Vegas’ hardest boulder problem; Boulder boys make good in Patagonia; and more.

Southern Illinois bouldering. You have your green hair, chalk pot and yen for sick, sloping stone. Now, here’s the beta to the boulders that have America talking.


Lizzy Scully’s magazine for women climbers, She Sends, just turned one. Its age has not withered, nor custom staled, its smiling and stroppy editor. BY ALISON OSIUS

The 2004 Rock and Ice rock-shoe review. A whopping 27 sticky new models field tested. Plus: The Ultimate Guide to over 130 models. BY DAVE PEGG

80) TRAINING 26) ACCIDENT REPORT A 5.11 climber grounds out on a 5.8 sport route. What happened?

Your feet provide the lion’s share of your climbing power. Use them wisely and use them well. BY REBECCA STOKES

28) DR. PITON El Cap’s latest pissing match; the smooth facts about sharp edges; the nonsensical new vs. old-school ratings.

30) BETTER BETA Build a hang-pipe for awesome sloper power; rig a poor man’s rope bag and belay seat; and smarter gear taping, the electrical way.

84) CLIMB SAFE Take it from the top. Toproping is so safe it’s virtually foolproof, right? Think again. Just one belay lapse can produce high loads, redlining the holding power of your gear. Rock and Ice editors field-test realworld climbing scenarios. BY TYLER STABLEFORD

88) GUIDE’S TIP 32) OUTLOOK The day New England stood still. The Fryeburg Nordwand, with its $100 bounty, had repelled all suitors—until the East’s strongest posse rolled in, yo. BY JOSH WHARTON

Storm sense. Don’t lose yourself when the weather goes sour. BY JON TIERNEY

106) DOWNWARD BOUND Skewering all that is sacred in climbing.









EDITOR’S NOTE Bouldering Rules

SUN DAPPLED THE FAMOUS CARRIAGE ROAD, which winds below the Shawangunks cliff band. Upright, strapped on, bouldering pads dotted the path like gently bobbing barges, at one point creating a minor bottleneck. The Gunks has always had bouldering, but not like this. Cragging impacts we know: trails and bare areas at cliff bases. Bouldering creates similar but separate impacts, usually in rings around boulders. “Boulderers are a high-priority group for the Preserve to reach out to with education,” says Hank Alicandri, head ranger of the Mohonk Preserve, which contains the Gunks, in New Paltz, New York. “We have done so, with mixed success. The only rules that apply to boulderers are the general ones that apply to all visitors.” Specific management challenges he sees include: boulderers exploring talus fields to find new problems, creating informal trails; recreating in large “posses,” increasing impact; trampling vegetation; and littering a bit more than other groups. On the other coast, Joshua Tree, California, with a vast history of bouldering, is also seeing a surge. Boulderers are often young and spirited, and don’t particularly want to be lectured to—what climber ever has? But whereas climbers in the past learned from mentors, who usually passed on an environmental awareness, today many learn in the gym and hit the rocks from there. The Friends of Joshua Tree, a consortium of local climbers and Park Service rangers, last July took a progressive course with a bouldering-specific initiative, Boulder Clean. Devaki Murch of Boulder Clean says the group originally focused on Southern California, planning an outreach program in gyms in which leading climbers would teach technique and spread the gospel. Which is: minimize group sizes, visible chalk, volume (music and yelling), and crash-pad damage to flora; avoid removing vegetation or leaving litter and human waste; follow established approach trails; and park legally. Outdoor companies such as PrAna, of Vista, for whom Murch works, may pony up star athletes such as Chris Sharma to lead clinics. “We were just chugging along, trying to figure it all out,” Murch says, when Shawn Tierney of the Access Fund (AF) attended a meeting. Then the national office called Murch: The AF liked Boulder Clean’s approach and wanted to involve the group in developing a national initiative. The AF also offered to contribute existing work sheets and some funding to Boulder Clean. “The Access Fund is awesome,” Murch says, “but they told me they don’t have that personal touch with the bouldering community. Their strength is working with land managers. We had that connection because we’re all climbers, but a lot of it was having the rangers.” Two Joshua Tree park rangers are part of the nine-member Boulder Clean work group. “They are out there every day,” she says, “and very, very involved.” The rangers plan to build a kiosk near the Hidden Valley Campground to announce events and area closures. Robb Shurr of Ojai, a clothing manufacturer in Ventura, is part of the AF’s national initiative, newly named the Boulder Project. “We will be an axis, listening to the bouldering community.” Boulder Clean is creating flyers and posters to distribute at the kiosk, gyms and events, and the Boulder Project will hold a clinic/party on the first night of the Phoenix Boulder Blast. Ideally, Murch says, the program—with some modification—can be implemented at any bouldering area: “Boom, here’s a program for Salt Lake, boom, here’s a program for the Gunks.” In the Gunks, climbers are an established and welcome force. The Mohonk Preserve receives upwards of 150,000 visitors a year, more than 50,000 of them climbers. Preserve visitors spend over $3 million directly into the local economy. “While climbers are one-third of our visitors,” says Alicandri, “I think they spend more than a third of the over $3 million.” Boulderers are part of our community—and the one part that’s growing fast. Each aspect of our sport creates use issues, and we are lucky that volunteers are addressing them. Please support your local climbing organizations, attend functions, pass out flyers, get the word out, and follow the precepts. (See or —ALISON OSIUS, SENIOR EDITOR

BEGGAR’S BANQUET JESSE GRANT HERE, author of the lead letter, “No More Labels,” in issue No. 130. Well, I realize it would be impractical to send out free Wild Country Zero cams retroactively to all former “top letter” authors, but I just missed it by one issue. I’m not complaining, just begging, after seeing your new advertisement offering two Zeroes to top letter writers of the future. Thanks.

Jesse Grant, Eugene, Oregon

Editors’ reply: Now you didn’t miss your chance. Cams are in the mail.

BLUE WAS GOLD “Blue Velvet” (No. 131) was exquisite. His style is both poetic and punchy, unwrapping his reverence for Australia’s Blue Mountains. His honest yet somehow welcoming description of the local people and rock made me want to get on standby for the next available flight down under. In the climbing world, it’s refreshing to hear a favored climb described more eloquently than “Dude ... suh-wheet!” Kudos to a great story.


Jenn Posterick, Stillwater, Minnesota

FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT IN “TALES OF SICKNESS” (No. 131), I finally found an article that related to my life. I’m a 22-year-old climber who was just diagnosed with bipolar disorder. And I’m a little different than the folks in the article: My only outlet was climbing. In early 2003, I became clinically depressed and spent months in bed, trying to feel somewhat sane. I was forced to drop out of school and live with my parents. I was put on two different drugs, to calm the demons, you could say. The only thing I’d leave my house for was climbing. It was the only time my mind felt at ease. It felt like I was fighting anxiety with anxiety. Climbing allowed me to focus on movement and breathing, and somehow distracted the demons. Nowadays the demons are gone, I’m pretty much off all the medication, and getting back to a normal life. I guess we all have reasons why we climb, and continue to climb. Thanks for the article, totally appreciated! Danny O’Farrell, Cambridge, Ontario, Canada

DISMAY I AM WRITING TO EXPRESS MY DISMAY at Rock and Ice for publishing a sensationalized story against the express wishes of the victim. No. 133 included a story (in “Accidents”) by Alison Osius on the accident at the Brass Wall in Red Rocks. The woman you mentioned is a friend of mine, and I know for a fact that she did not ask not to be named, as Alison says—she asked, adamantly, that the story not be used. Rock and Ice’s choice to publish 10


this story anyway amounts to journalistic ambulance chasing. Every manufacturer of any climbing equipment puts the same warning on it: “Climbing is a dangerous sport.” Desperately searching for a story that will allow you to admonish climbers about rockfall potential is remedial and unnecessary; unless, of course, our culture as climbers has shifted to that of gym rats, blissfully ignorant of the dangers of climbing outside, but that’s a whole ’nother Oprah. If Rock and Ice’s intention was to educate, the same results could have been achieved without using this story. I am not going to make idle threats about not reading or buying your magazine, and I realize that regardless of what you publish someone is going to get pissed, but Rock and Ice’s blatant disregard for my friend’s express desire for anonymity and privacy is really disappointing! Christopher Roberts, Boulder, Colorado

Alison Osius replies: While we appreciate your concern for a friend, the article was presented with much care. We did not use the woman’s name, the tone was factual, and we enumerated points to be learned. The accident happened on public land and involved public rescue services; others have the right to discuss and learn from it. The parenthetical phrase that the victim “asked not to be named” was due to an editing error, for which we apologize. In fact, we had no direct contact with the victim.

PROPS that if he had a time machine, he would go back to the 1960s so he could beat George Lowe to the Canadian Rockies. Just last summer I found a time machine. Castle Rock State Park, Idaho, finally opened last May, and a handful of us have had the thrill of exploring this world-class climbing area. (See “Storming the Castle,” No. 127.) I want to thank everyone who helped make it a reality, every single person who made a donation, wrote a letter, or supported the Access Fund or the American Alpine Club. This success was a result of the generosity of thousands of climbers




“It’s refreshing to hear a favored climb described more eloquently than ‘Dude ... suh-wheet’”—Jenn Posterick, Stillwater, Minnesota

LETTERS all over the country. Those climbers who actually spent time in the trenches drafting the Climbing Management Plan should also be applauded. They had the thankless task of getting more than one climber to agree on something. The Park’s management team of Wallace Keck and Brad Shilling did an outstanding job. Superintendent Keck’s vision of a park for the people is refreshing compared to the priority placed on commercial interests in many other parks. This may be the first time that a government agency has treated climbers as the premier user group. If you haven’t made it out to Castle yet, I invite you. Mike Anderson, Farmington, Utah

BIG TENT CLIMBING IS A BIG SPORT, including everything from big mountains to tiny boulders, everyone from grizzled alpinists to wideeyed newbies. A comprehensive climbing publication should endeavor to address the whole of the adventure. For the most part the available magazines do a fair job in this respect. In the past I have been put off by the elitism that implied that only the hardest climbs were worthy of report-

ing. The 30-something mother of two who finally gets the opportunity to pull down some grade III 5.9 trad route is just as impressive as the sponsored super climber who can spend months subduing some over-bolted uber-route. Lately I have become increasingly annoyed by the preponderance of articles devoted solely to bouldering. Don’t get me wrong, bouldering is a fabulous sport. But I am sick to death of every 12inch piece of stone with a hard problem getting covered like a breaking news story of national importance. I for one would like to see more stories about the human side of climbing rather than just the big numbers. How about reports of the climbers who are endeavoring to give a little back. Like “Jingus” Joe Callahan volunteering to build passive solar systems for orphanages in Nepal and India. Phil Broscovak, via email

Editors’ note: We hear you. No more bouldering coverage in this mag ... er, as soon as we ship next month’s Bouldering special issue. Your point on those who give back is well taken. Please note that our cover image, Chris Sharma, has given to the community

in starting the Sharmafund scholarships to send children to Yo! Basecamp rock-climbing school in the Sierra.

KELLY TUFO AND THE FIRST TIME I ATE SPAM THANK YOU FOR “Darkness at Noon” about Kelly Tufo and Dave Kellogg (No. 131). Kelly Tufo was kind, generous, friendly and wildly fun. In December of 2002 we spent five days on the same campsite. He was amazingly generous, sharing his food and wood, among other things. It was on this trip that I met Kelly’s pal Dave Kellogg and his wife and son, Nicolas. Dave, too, was generous, sharing his brews. I remember his love of climbing. In 30 minutes I watched him and another friend gun up three sport routes. I remember him playing with little Nicolas and thinking what a great father he was and what an adventurous life this kid must lead: only one year old, and hanging out at Josh for the weekend. One night I returned cold, wet, tired and hungry to a flooded campsite. Good old Kelly had dinner ready. It was hot and delicious. Then I asked what it was. He replied, “Turkey Spam.” I never thought I would eat Spam, nor to this day have I eaten it again. Kelly and Dave will be missed by all


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LETTERS whose lives they touched: for me, that means every time I climb at Josh, and every time I see Spam. Jeff Siefman, Salem, Oregon

SHARE ALIKE on “Yellow Journalism” (No. 130): your short response to a lengthy article in High Country News about balancing climber use and resource impacts misses the mark. Climbing areas are usually also important to Native Americans, archaeologists and biologists. Every user causes resource impacts—the question is how to mitigate those impacts. Most fixes require lots of talk and compromise (e.g., your editorial “Separate but Equal,” No. 130). In that same vein, perhaps some climbing areas should be seen as more important for values other than climbing routes? As the world’s population increases, every user’s impact needs to be considered, and mitigated when possible. It seems that simple fixes—like honoring seasonal or voluntary closures, avoiding multiple trailing, and not using white climbing chalk on dark rock—at areas that are important to other users would be a good start.


Greg Woodall, Hurricane, Utah

TRY THIS AT HOME REGARDING CONRAD ANKER’S review of Touching the Void (No. 131): OK, The Eiger Sanction was pretty nice, but that “leading” on toprope was interesting. Check out The Mountain with Robert Wagner and Spencer Tracy. Old but not bad, not bad at all!

Dave Ehlers, South Face Guides, Ltd. Via email

GOT SOMETHING TO SAY? Send your letters to us at If yours is the top letter, you'll receive two Wild Country Zero Cams, retail value $110!



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, Lizzy Scully 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.



BREAKING NEWS JUNE 2004 // ISSUE 133 ... Patagonian Firsts, p.20 ... Chipping on Dreamtime? p.20 ... SPOTLIGHT: Lizzy Scully, of She Sends p.24

Pringle Snags Vegas’ First V12 ETHAN PRINGLE, 17, OF SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, has established the hardest boulder problem in the Las Vegas area: Clockwork Orange (V12), on the Cube at the Kraft Boulders. Pringle, with nine years of climbing under his belt, has sent three V11s, seven 5.14a’s, and is currently ranked second by the Professional Climbers Association. Leaving home and family behind, Ethan blew into Las Vegas in the fall of 2003 to finish his last year of high school—and climb. John Sherman’s bouldering-history tome Stone Crusade describes the problems on the Cube’s 20-foot south face, home of Clockwork Orange, as futuristic. The Fear of the Black Hat (V10), just left of Pringle’s problem, almost fell in the early 1980s to John Bachar, who was eventually spit off and sent home barely able to walk. “After I broke a hold and fell flat on my tailbone ... I decided some of the rock there wasn’t that solid, and I never tried that problem again,” says Bachar. Fear sat untouched for two decades, until Jared McMillen slapped its summit in the winter of 2000. 18


McMillen and Jason Campbell gave Clockwork Orange a few goes in 2000. Says McMillen, “It was do-able but really hard. On the last move you have to dyno off a shallow two finger, and do a one-arm pull-up while your left hand travels about seven feet to a finger-tip edge!” Pringle began trying the problem early this year, despite a fair bit of naysaying by local boulderers. As soon as he reached the two-finger pocket he realized it would go, and completed the line in a mere four days. Pringle named the blazing-orange problem after Anthony Burgess’ notoriously violent novel because the problem was “real horrorshow-like. The falls were ultra-violent and big, the sequences were intense, and there was a move where you had to swing your arm around like the hand of a clock.” —Roxanna Brock




Rosaasen Rocks, Lee Leads THE BATTLE ROYALE at the Professional Climbers’ Association SLC

Slam II was, of course, between Chris Sharma and Nels Rosaasen, both psyched and fit—and it couldn’t have been much closer. Both flashed the first problem at the event, held January 29 to 31 at the Front Climbing Club, Salt Lake City, then Sharma grabbed an early lead when he alone sent the second problem, with Rosaasen one move behind. On the third, Sharma unlocked an intelligent sequence, expertly heel hooking to latch a small crimp with his right hand. But his foot kept popping off a sloper, and he came up short. Just as he figured out an alternative sequence, the horn blew, ending his five minutes. Rosaasen flashed the problem, sticking the crimp with his left hand and campusing to the top. (Renowned for campusing, he later protested, “I had a foot on!”) Two moves ahead on that problem, he took the win when the pair tied on the fourth and last. In third place was the fierce boulderer John Stack, “up there” as usual. Among women, Lauren Lee dominated, displaying a quantum leap in power during a confident, paced performance. Alex Johnson, 15, a tyro last year but now a stalwart, was second, with the ever-smooth Angela Payne in third. For full results see At the next major comp, the American Bouldering Series’ Mammut National Bouldering Championship held February 27 and 28 at The Spot, in Boulder, Matt Segal took first over the redoubtable John Stack. Angela Payne was the hometown heroine again, having also won the PCA Boulder Brawl at The Spot on November 8. (See SLC SLAM 1. Nels Rosaasen 2 Chris Sharma 3. John Stack 4. Steven Jeffery 5. Keita Mogaki 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 5.

Lauren Lee Alex Johnson Angela Payne Lizzy Asher (tie) Natasha Barnes (tie) Lisa Dumper


ABS Nationals 1. Matt Segal 2. John Stack 3. Ethan Pringle 4. Rob D’Anastasio 5. Johnny Goicochea


1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Angela Payne Lizzy Asher Portia Menlove Natasha Barnes Mykael-Ann McGinley



Free—and first—in Patagonia TAKING ADVANTAGE OF A RARE, 13-DAY WEATHER WINDOW in Patagonia in February, Boulder climbers Josh Wharton and Jonny Copp freed the Austrian Route on Saint Exupery (8,442 feet) at 5.11, and blitzed a route on Fitzroy (11,703 feet). On the first real “summit day” in months, the pair climbed a “particularly out-ofshape” French/Argentine Route, clawing their way up ice-choked cracks and corners to reach the top of Fitzroy on February 2, the 52nd anniversary of the peak’s first ascent. On February 4, Copp and Wharton climbed through vertical slush and decomposing rock—“I was swinging ice tools into what appeared to be solid granite,” says Copp—on Saint Exupery to reach the 2,100-foot Austrian Route, a 1987 line up the mountain’s south pillar. The two eliminated the aid from several pitches, commenting on the line’s quality stone. The trip’s only injury happened when Wharton, running drunkenly to El Chalten for more beer (and seeking magazine pictures of a certain world leader to deface) sprained his ankle, precluding further climbing despite three more days of good weather. “When it comes to vodka, never try to keep pace with Polish climbers,” said Wharton. Speaking of Polish climbers, Chris Belczynski, Bodziu Kowalski and Wojtek Wiwatowski established the 3,300-foot Self Right to Suicide (VI 5.10+ A4, 55-degree ice/snow) on the South Torre del Paine, also in Patagonia, this season. Self Right, long considered one of the last great problems in the area, takes a direct line up the peak’s east face after starting on the Swiss Route. After a week of shuttling 600 pounds of gear to a high camp, they fixed ropes on the line’s initial pitches, then completed it in a subsequent three-week up-and-down push.

Ream Time: Famed Swiss Boulders Chipped Dreamtime, on the serene granite blocks of Cresciano, Switzerland, in 2000. But now, he says, recent aggressive-cleaning campaigns on this and other area problems have forever reduced their difficulty. “We guess 98 percent of the problems were cleaned with a lot of energy after the first ascents!” Nicole was quoted as saying at “One of the big problems can be the steel brush some people use to clean ... Some must have used more than just a brush.” Besides Dreamtime, the double-digit problems La Soucoupe, La Proue and La Grotte des Soupire have sprouted enhanced or chipped-out holds. “This is no doubt something that needs to be discussed and dealt with by the whole bouldering community,” Nicole said. “Chipping has to be stopped!”




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BREAKING NEWS on your cell phone. That is the opening scene of the new 20th Century Fox release Catch That Kid, starring Kristen Stewart. Stewart’s stuntwoman, Lisa Coleman, is laybacking a metal pipe on a 60-foot water tank, clipping into who knows what and being belayed by no one, when she falls. Not to worry—it’s just Hollywood! Coleman, 35, is director and co-owner with her husband, Andres Puhvel, of Yo! Basecamp, a summer climbing school in the High Sierra, California. The champion climber Chris Sharma also works there regularly, and started The Sharmafund scholarship program, which brings one to three kids there each summer. A onetime UCLA ski racer and mountain-bike racer, Coleman supplements her camp income by working as a substitute teacher, sports model and occasional stuntperson. Hollywood called her again recently to do the stunts in the fourth sequel to The Crow, but Coleman declined.


So you gave up a five-figure paycheck to teach a couple of rock-climbing courses? Definitely. My husband and I run all of the camps. We’re physically present at each of the sessions, and that’s what we’re committed to. Your priorities are clear. Seeing a kid from the city transformed by the touch of granite is worth more than money or fame. Many of the kids who come to camp live inside buildings and play video games all day. Being in the Sierra Nevada changes their mindset. It opens them up.

Why is being in nature so important to you? It puts me in my place. I feel small. My aggravating, noisy ego and its mini-dramas disappear. I am at peace surrounded by 14,000foot granite peaks. You split your time between living in your 275-square-foot cabin on 17 acres in the Santa Cruz Mountains and camping out on your land near Bishop, California. Is anything missing in your life? Kids! We’re working on it.

For information about Yo! Basecamp Rock Climbing Camps, see or call 831673-5918. —Caroline Peck



Why did you say no? The rehearsals would have conflicted with my summer teaching camp at Yo! Basecamp.


SPOTLIGHT Lizzy Scully cal-feminist phase. I’ve mellowed out since then, although I don’t apologize in any way. The best way to promote women’s issues is to be positive rather than negative. Instead of attacking people, I strive to give women more of a voice. Matt and I are buddies now. When I started She Sends he donated a story.

What role do men play in creation of the magazine? Men want to celebrate women climbers, too. I want men to be involved on every level.

What are your ambitions as a climber, and how have they changed? I’ve gone on both successful and failed expeditions ... For a few months after each trip, I vow never to climb big walls again, but always end up planning another trip. Before my latest trip, I became overwhelmed with fears of dying, and disillusioned with the whole sponsorship aspect. However, since I’ve been back, I’ve rediscovered a passion for climbing. ▲ HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY TO YOU, SHE SENDS MAGAZINE.

What led you to start a magazine for women climbers? I didn’t plan it. I started out doing a small ezine for friends, but I sent a note to too many friends, I guess. Before I knew it, dozens of women were calling and emailing.

Why do we need our own publication? Women love to read about other women. We love reading about men as well, but men think, act and climb differently. Their priorities 24


are different. Women like to learn from and be inspired by other women. Male traits have traditionally been applauded in society ... femaleness and womanhood have never been valued the same.

You were first printed in 1999 in a letter to Climbing, dubbing Matt Samet and other writers as sexist. Did that letter become a signature piece? Yep, I wrote that at the height of my radi-

Have you ever gotten lucky in the mountains? I’m lucky I didn’t die on Shipton. The rock and ice fall sucked; so did the nighttime temperatures, wet clothing, one sick partner, poor decision making and route finding, lack of sleep, lack of food and incoming bad weather.

You are one of the few to consistently organize all-women’s trips to the mountains. I love my women climbing partners, and I feel like I’ve accomplished more if I’ve gone with women. It’s been my experience that if you climb something significant with a man, people assume he pulled more weight.

Do you care about other people’s assumptions? At one point I cared a lot. I got tired of people looking to my male partners asking how the route was, or people always asking if I did the Casual Route when I climbed the Diamond [on Longs Peak] with my girlfriends.

What are your strengths and weaknesses in the outdoor industry? My weakness is my lack of experience as a publisher. My strength is my ability to work hard and to communicate my vision. I find that people will blow me off until they meet me face to face. — Alison Osius


and her women’s climbing magazine, She Sends, just celebrated its first anniversary, in March. The fifth issue comes out May 7. Scully, features editor for the Estes Park Trail-Gazette, Colorado, recently went part-time to focus on She Sends. Having “settled down a bit” following five years of peripatetic climbing, she lives in a two-room cabin in Big Thompson Canyon. Scully brims with energy. She is dynamic, fiery: “I may take life too seriously. I’ve decided to downscale my goals and try to relax a bit! Egads.” She is a happy person, who laughs a lot and likes down-time drinking tea and gossiping with friends; and she can be stressed, juggling much: a magazine, a faulty hot-water heater, frozen pipes, a dying car. She is usually psyched—and sleep deprived. A former 15-year competitive ice skater, Scully began rock climbing as a sophomore at the University of Utah, taking an intro course and selling her textbooks to buy gear. Between climbing trips across the country and overseas, she eventually graduated in psychology, at a date she cannot quite remember. At 26, she returned to Utah State University, in Logan, seeking a Masters in journalism. In 2000, Scully traveled to the Karakoram, Pakistan, where she, Nan Darkis and Cecilia Buil climbed to just below the summit of Shipton Spire via Inshallah. In 2002, Scully and Heidi Wirtz freed the stellar Bad Hair Day (5.11+/5.12-) on South Howser Minaret in the Bugaboos, Canada. Last summer she and Wirtz journeyed to an unnamed wall in the Himachal Pradesh, India, but got rained out. These days, due to lack of time, she mostly boulders. LIZZY SCULLY TURNS 31 IN MAY,




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by Duane Raleigh

Nasty Surprise A BROKEN HOLD SPITS A 5.11 LEADER OFF A 5.8


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IN DECEMBER, at the popular Red Rock Conservation Area outside of Las Vegas, Phil Wilkes, 20, an enthusiastic leader with four years experience who could get up 5.11 in a “couple of tries,” was looking for a quiet climb away from the usual crowds at the area’s roadside crags. He and the group of friends he was with settled on the Great Red Book area in the Calico Hills, roughly a 30-minute hike from the parking lot known as the “second pullout.” After punching into the crag, Wilkes selected, as a warm-up, a 5.8 face climb with the first bolt at a lofty 25 feet. Though Wilkes didn’t bother referencing the route in the guidebook (he later discovered it was Ground Up Vocabulary), he was concerned with the obvious initial big runout. After waging a brief mental tug-of-war, Wilkes rationalized that, as a 5.11 climber, he was extremely unlikely to fall on a mere 5.8. He tied in and started up the rust-colored rock. All went well, initially. Wilkes angled toward the bolt along a moderate line of varnished holds. Following the path of least resistance, he soon found himself within a body length of the bolt. But before he could close the gap, his right foothold snapped. Wilkes says he often wears a helmet and is usually the only person at the crag with one on, despite the fact that it makes him feel “dumb.” Thankfully, he was playing dumb that day, and had on his brain bucket. Wilkes fell 25 feet to the ground. The impact smashed his tibia. He also hit his head, and credits his helmet with preventing a serious head injury. Wilkes was evacuated to a hospital in nearby Las Vegas, and after nine weeks on crutches reports that he is mending well.

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As a case study, Wilkes’ accident is common—almost all leaders at one time or another tackle marginally protected routes several grades below their regular

limit, relying on experience and skill to keep them out of trouble. This was certainly the case with Wilkes, and had the hold not broken he would have uneventfully cruised the route. In hindsight, Wilkes says he wouldn’t have done anything differently, and chalks up the accident to bad luck. Wilkes certainly seemed to do everything right: He took time to study the line, didn’t rush the lead, and wore a helmet. He does note that because the climb is somewhat obscure, the rock is a little scruffier than on Red Rocks’ more traveled routes. Indeed, at least one guidebook notes that the Red Book area has “some loose rock.” In addition, it had rained three days before Wilkes’ attempt. Porous sandstone like that at Red Rocks is famous for becoming more friable when subject to moisture. (Most locals at most sandstone areas stay off the rock unless it is completely dry.) A three-day wait after a rain, however, does seem adequate. Perhaps it wasn’t. Why the hold broke will remain unknown. Nonetheless, we do know that neither loose rock nor the recent rain factored into Wilkes decision. The only way he could have avoided the accident would have been to not climb, or pick another route with better pro. “Climbing is a calculated risk,” says Wilkes, “and I thought I had done the math. Sometimes the equations just don’t turn out how we expect.”

TIPS Holds can and do break—and on routes we think are solid, catching us off guard. Even on obviously loose stone, where we strive to apply as little weight as possible, it’s well nigh impossible to recover from the sudden breaking of even a barely weighted hand or foothold. The only real way to stay as safe as possible is to climb as if all holds might break, and safeguard yourself by slamming in more pro than usual. It also helps to tap suspect holds with a knuckle. A hollow sound indicates that the hold is marginally attached. ◆ ILLUSTRATION BY JEREMY COLLINS

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Last fall we completed a free ascent of Zodiac on El Cap, and were amazed by all the duct tape covering supposed rope-cutting edges. We were also gagged by the urine stench that lingers around many of the pitches. Aren’t there better ways for wall climbers to manage their edges and bladders? ALEX AND THOMAS HUBER, BAVARIA, GERMANY ZODIAC IS EL CAP’S MOST POPULAR ROUTE,

getting perhaps 50 ascents a month during the peak season. This heavy traffic creates numerous sanitation and overuse problems, and if the route is to remain in good form, we must exercise special caution. The Hubers’ point about duct tape is valid—some of this tape had been there for years, left by well-intentioned teams who never imagined that Teutonic giants would someday find it covering their free-climbing grips. With sharp edges, don’t overreact—most of the edges on Zodiac have been smoothed. The time-honored method is to tape edges, which is fine as long as you REMOVE the tape afterward. Alternately, if the rope is fixed you can pad the edge with a shirt or pack, or a rope protector like the ones from Petzl ( or Spiroll (, which wrap around the rope and stay put. On all Yosemite big walls you must by law carry and use a poop container, so we’re really just talking urine. On steep routes like Zodiac, piss off! Turn around in your aiders and take a leak into space, where it evaporates. Don’t pee on the stone because rain will never rinse it off the overhanging rock. If you can’t do this, pee in a Wag Bag (;, which has a powder that turns urine into a tidy gel, and store this in your poop tube. Or make a Big Wall Pee Bottle from a wide-necked Nalgene bottle rigged with 3mm clip-in cord. Women should supplement their systems with a “Little Johnson” funnel and hose, or check out the Freshette ( Both genders should watch out not only for parties below, but for updrafts—the only thing worse than raining on someone else’s parade is raining on your own.

RATINGS RANT Why have aid ratings been reorganized to bring in the “New Age”? Is it the advent of new gear, or something else? What differentiates an “Old School” A4 from a “New Wave” A4? MEL BAUM, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA AID RATINGS ARE BOTH CONFUSING AND TRANSITORY —subsequent ascents decrease a route’s difficulty as it becomes “beat out.” Worse, aid ratings are highly subjective— what is A5 for one person might be A3 for another. But to try to answer your questions, as a breakable rule, new A4 is probably harder than old A4, especially on expando, which used to be tricky to nail but is now usually A1 with micro cams and 28


slider nuts. Hooking has also gotten easier and safer, due to a myriad of hook innovations, but that’s about where the tidy comparisons end. Not only is this whole New Wave vs. Old School debate befuddling and passé, as far as the Doc is concerned, it’s irreconcilable. Even Big Wall Theorists agree that the traditional grading system is FUBAR’ed because it is so subjective as to be practically useless. I prefer the Casual Rating System, or CRS, proposed a quarter-century ago by Jim Bridwell. His system eliminates the objective number and replaces it with the subjective adjectives, which are at least honest in their subjectivity. Bridwell’s easy-to-follow system goes as follows: NBD: “No Big Deal” for the easy stuff. NTB: “Not Too Bad” for the moderate. PDH: “Pretty Damn Hard.” DFU: “Don’t F--- Up.” Should you ever find yourself on a Real Live Death Pitch, most likely that sucker is rated DFU. Aid ratings couldn’t get any simpler.

FIRE UP I’m cheap. So cheap that I refuse to shell out $100 for a storebought wall stove. How can I build my own? STEVE LATHAM, ANCHORAGE, ALASKA START





stove, the kind where the burner screws into the top of a pressurized throwaway LP gas cylinder. A Primus Classic Trail, for example, sells for under $30. Next, find an old aluminum pot about a foot in diameter that has a handle across the top. In the center of the bottom of the pot, cut a hole about an inch in diameter. Next to this hole, cut a second hole about three inches in diameter. Screw the burner into the gas cylinder through the center hole, and hang the whole assembly from the pot’s handle. When you set your can of ravioli on the burner inside, the bucket blocks the wind. You can light the stove and adjust the valve through the second, larger hole. ◆

BETTER BETA HANGIN’ LOOSE relationship with slopers—when we feel strong we love them, but when pumped we skitter right off. A hang-pipe ($10 to build; fits over most doorways) is a great tool for building sloper power.


blocks, attach them to the wall with the large screws before securing the hang-pipe. The best exercises on the hang-pipe are the simple ones: dead hangs, pull-ups and one-arm shake-outs, in whatever number and configuration works best for you. —AARON GIBSON, Norman, OK

COMPILED BY MATT SAMET illustrations by Bonnie Hofto

hanging belays when you’ve forgotten the belay seat. From your anchor point, take the rope from the opposite side of your tiein knot (the side leading to your partner) and wrap it under your butt. Using a free biner or quickdraw, clove-hitch this stretch of rope to your anchor and adjust the length until the load is off your harness. —JIM EWING, Falmouth, ME

POOR MAN’S ROPE BAG I bring along my small (six-foot-by-eight-foot) blue tarp, a bargain at $5 to $10. It fits into a rope bag, provides a great place to change into boots, and is a handy spot to coil excess rope. Highly visible, it also helps keep people from stepping on the rope with their crampons. At the day’s end, I lay the tarp in the trunk of my car and fold my wet gear into a burrito. Anything dry I stash on top. At the boulders or crags, the tarp keeps crud off my climbing shoes, can protect crash pads from a muddy landing, and gives me a place to lay out climbing gear or a picnic. It even gives a warning rustle when a dog is circling too close to the rope or my grub.


The hang-pipe: the sloper climber’s tool of choice.

You Will Need: 1. A four-foot length of PVC pipe. Four-inch-diameter pipe is ideal, though larger diameters will yield a bigger pump. 2. A 2x4 long enough to fit through the pipe with four spare inches on either side. 3. Twelve 31⁄4-inch wood screws, to secure the PVC to the 2x4. 4. Three feet of skateboard or snowboard grip tape, at least 3 inches wide. Anti-skid tape also works. 5. Wood blocks (4-inch sections of 2x4) to use as spacers between the hang-pipe and mounting surface. 6. Four large screws or lag bolts, 4 to 6 inches long, to mount the system above your doorway.

To identify a solid point of attachment, use a studfinder (or the wall-tap method with a light hammer) to locate the studs above the doorway. If they are spaced too far apart, it may be necessary to attach a sheet of plywood to the wall, spanning the studs, and then fasten the hang-pipe system to it. Cut your grip tape in half and slap it on the PVC at the pipe’s top surface. Slip the section of 2x4 through the PVC, leaving about 4 inches of spare wood poking from both ends. Drill two pilot holes through the top of the PVC, one on each end, and two on the bottom, offset by two inches from the top holes. Secure the pipe to the 2x4 with the wood screws. This keeps the pipe from rolling. Carefully align the hang-pipe system with the wall studs. When using the spacer 30


REFLECTIONS ON GEAR INSTEAD OF ELECTRICAL TAPE to mark my gear, I use 3M Reflective Tape ($3 to $5 at most hardware stores, available in red or silver). Applied to the spine of the biner just above where the gate strikes it when open, it’s quite durable. On cams, apply tape around the stem below the triggers range. On passive gear, wrap a strip around the plastic sheath, on the swage. The benefits are obvious in the dark: Dropped pieces or partners are easy to spot, and flash photos more novel. —CHRIS VAUGHAN, Bend, OR


of swami belts, is a great way to relieve waist and leg pressure at hanging or semi-


UP FOR GRABS Rock and Ice encourages reader tips for Better Beta. Please submit them to: If we use your tip in the next issue, you'll receive a Metolius Mountain Products Personal Anchor System (PAS, $39.50 with Matrix Locking Biner). The PAS is the first fullstrength (18kN) adjustable attachment system that you can use as a primary harness-to-belay connection. Weight: 3.3 oz. Length: 41 inches (w/o carabiner).











BY JOSH WHARTON illustration by Tom Martin

Fair Play THE LEGEND OF THE FRYEBURG NORDWAND THE FIRST ORANGE LEAVES OF AUTUMN mark the start of county-fair season in New England. Traveling bands of country folk of dubious origin and questionable intentions descend upon sleepy towns like Fryeburg, Maine, bringing the aromas of livestock, fried grub and acrid Midway disappointment. This year, however, the Fryeburg Fair offered something different: a 20-foot free-standing pillar of steel and plastic, forming a two-sided “Extreme Tower” tucked between the $3 ring toss and a stand selling Dixie flags and White Snake T-shirts. A $5 entry fee garnered a peak permit for the pinnacle’s front side—a climbing experience slightly more difficult than your average stepladder—and a plastic medallion for those who tamed it. Climbers with sporting mentalities—or inflated egos—could take on the fearsome Expert Wall. This side of the pin32


nacle, which by the influence of some unseen mountain god happened to face north, was peppered with widely spaced red and blue holds. Signs advertised the North Face challenge for $10: Anyone who tagged the buzzer on top would receive $100. Scores of fairgoers embraced the challenge. Fifteen-year-old kids dished out their last $10 in hopes of glory on the Nordwand, only to fail on the second move. Mullettopped tough guys in NASCAR T-shirts turned purple trying to lift their work boots off the ground. And pretentious preps from the local academy (with Outward Bound experience, mind you) smiled smugly at their friends, then slumped, dejected, into their harnesses at the 10-foot mark, citing poor conditions on the upper reaches. By the end of the week, spider webs and the beginnings of a small bird’s nest in the finishing jug hinted that the Expert summit would remain a dream, a project for future generations. Yet, when a black VW Passat with tinted windows bumping the sinister bass lines of Dr. Octagon pulled into the fair parking lot, the owner of the Extreme Tower should have felt a shiver run down his spine and right into his bulging pockets. Between Joe Kinder, Tim Kemple, Dana “Mad Dog” Drummond and Dave “The Shredder” Sherrett, there was enough good karma, mental prowess and off-thecharts send power to bring the Expert Wall to its knees. Tim was the first to hand over his cash, bear down on the laces of his approach shoes, and slip into a child-size sit harness. (The adult harness had been designed to accommodate those who preferred Freedom Fries to Freedom Limestone.) After a cursory rundown of the rules by the hustler, Tim turned to the wall. A hush fell over the fairgrounds, pulling the crowd’s attention from Wilbur, the 600-pound blue-ribbon pig, the raging horsepower of turbo-charged tractors, and the frieddough vending cart. Spectators made their way slowly over to the looming Nordwand. Not since the Bigfoot monster-truck rally had the Fryeburg Fair borne witness to something so tremendous. After the initial, reasonable five feet, the difficulties began at mid-height. Tim paused to dip into a hidden stash of chalk in his pockets. His left hand pinched a bulbous hold that looked as if it had been buffed with a sander, covered in motor oil, and spit-shined. A tricky backstep followed

by a series of hand slaps up the northwest arete led Tim to the deciding moment. His left hand shot from the bulbous slope to the finishing jug, covering nearly half the wall’s height in a single move. (The preps had whined that this section would require a minimum of two bivouacs.) Then, just as his fingers wrapped around the epitome of glory itself, a snotty little foothold spun, spitting Tim off the wall. The peanut gallery cried foul, exploding into a patois of expletives, Ebonics and climber babble. If Tim wasn’t offered a second chance the hustle might be up, or worse, the Expert Wall overrun by the outraged mob. “Yo, man, can I try again?” gasped Tim, slowly being squeezed to death by the child’s harness. The proprietor, barely concealing a scowl, mock-jovially agreed, lethargically raising himself from his lawn chair to lean a ladder against the wall. While Tim composed himself for the redpoint, the carney tightened the offending grip. Tim attacked the wall with newfound confidence, punching it with ease to the finishing jug. Overwhelmed by the moment, he kept his thumb on the buzzer, prolonging its loud, toxic hum. Rotating lights shed their dust to burst into a spectacular laser-light show as confetti erupted from the summit in celebratory spindrift. Tim, pumping his fists to the crowd’s deafening cheers, had claimed the first ascent. Fryeburg Fair’s great north wall was conquered twice more that night, by Mad Dog and The Shredder. With each subsequent flash, the proprietor’s attitude soured. When Joe Kinder came back for a rematch, after an earlier bobble, the huckster, loathe to part with another C-note, said, “The wall’s too dangerous now—objective hazards. I gotta close it for repairs.” “That’s total bull,” said Joe. “Let me go again.” (He had borrowed another $10 out of Tim’s winnings.) Trembling with anger, the vendor blurted, “You’ve memorized the patterns. I ain’t lettin’ you up there again. No frickin’ way.” With beta flashes now disallowed, the crew had no choice but to pack up the Passat and leave. The carney has vowed to create a true “Expert Wall” for next year’s fair. Rumor has it the pinnacle’s North Face will be super-cooled from behind to simulate proper winter conditions. To prepare themselves, the New England boys have planned a winter bouldering trip to Patagonia. Josh Wharton, of Boulder, failed miserably on the Expert Wall. He hopes to redeem himself at the next Fryeburg Fair, this October.

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So did sport climbing celebrate? Did it fly to Vegas for a night of face-first-in-the-vomit debauchery? No, it did ... nothing. It just sat there, inert, like the now ubiquitous bolts that dot U.S. crags, the same hardware that signals acceptance of a pursuit only two decades ago labeled anathema. A pursuit that led to fistfights, bolt wars, broken friendships, angst, eating disorders, rock “sculpting” and primadonna behavior—but also to a meteoric rise in free-climbing standards; greater accessibility of rock climbing to neophytes and experienced climbers alike; rock gyms and smarter training; killer, new overhanging crags; and an ascendant generation of climbers like Tommy Caldwell, Beth Rodden, Chris Sharma, Katie Brown, Dave Graham, Joe Kinder, Tim Kemple, Adam Stack and Sonnie Trotter (Canada), who accept the rock on its own terms and have redefined, with modesty and a lack of the snarky competitiveness that once plagued their forebears, what it means to climb hard. Like it or not, sport climbing is here to stay. However, like any “new person,” it has suffered its share of growing pains. Here, for the first time, is the true dirt: the highs, lows and dismal plateaus of 21 years of American sport climbing.




IN AMERICA TWENTY-ONE: A seminal age, one that marks a passage into adulthood. On February 11, 2004, American sport climbing as we know it—top-down, boltprotected face climbing often using hangdogging toward an eventual redpoint— turned 21, with the anniversary of Watts Tots (5.12b), at Smith Rock, Oregon. Watts Tots was the first route climbed deliberately and entirely in this style.




Contrary to myth, sport climbing in America, while influenced by French tactics and early French sport crags like Buoux and the Verdon, was not imported from “the Continent.” It was instead developed in a relative vacuum, at the welded-tuff backwater of Smith Rock, Oregon, by Alan Watts, who still lives in Bend and has just completed an exhaustive guidebook to the park’s 1,400-odd routes. Watts, 43, an Oregon native, MBA and current stay-at-home dad, had honed his skills in the late 1970s at the scrappy basalt Columns area of Eugene, Oregon, with his cronies Bill Ramsey, Alan Lester and Chris Jones. Watts was monomaniacal about climbing: After class at the University of Oregon, he would frequent the Columns by headlamp; he would train by pumping one-armed toprope laps on tweaky 5.12 seams at the Columns, campus-lunging between pin scars; and, in 1985, he climbed from January 1 through May 31 without a single rest day. Watts knew he was taking a stand when he decided to protect the smooth, vertical expanse of Watts Tots with bolts alone: “I just decided, ‘Screw it’—I’m gonna put a line of bolts in and not use cams in pockets or RPs in slots.” A bright talent in an area where the next level of climbers redlined on 5.11a, Watts met little resistance: “Whether people agreed or disagreed, nobody was pulling any bolts.” His decision seemed a logical extension of the day’s

SPORT CLIMBING, THE EIGHTH DEADLY SIN: Boone Speed tackles Fryeing (5.13c) in the Hell Cave, American Fork Canyon, Utah. Photographer Greg Epperson recalls that the cave was a “God-awful place.” JUNE 2004 ROCKANDICE.COM



dominant “yo-yo” ethic—one championed, albeit with sporadic resistance, in Yosemite—which allowed for multi-day sieges and the use of fixed gear, though placed ground-up. Watts, who had experimented, ground-up, with mixed gear and bolt routes on the friable, flaky faces of Smith, realized that it was far more efficient to rappel down, drill the bolts, clean the loose rock, and hangdog the area’s geometrically alluring lines. His second sport route, the overhanging arete Chain Reaction (5.12c), would later appear on the cover of Mountain magazine No. 107 in 1986, sparking the first wave of international interest in Smith. “I remember thinking, ‘Poor f——ing Alan, he’s stuck at Smith ... languishing in this dead-end place,’” says Ramsey, 43, now a philosophy professor at Notre Dame and a 5.14 climber, of Watts’ decision to stay behind and “mud-tug” while Ramsey headed off to California for grad school. “There are few things I’ve been as wrong about in my life.” Climbing mostly with Chris Grover and the late Mike Puddy, Watts shifted into hyper-productive mode, hand-drilling from the top down (e.g. the 14 bolts he placed on To Bolt or Not To Be), putting up route after route, all of them 5.12 to 5.13c, on the striking faces and aretes of the Dihedrals, and establishing America’s first bona fide 5.13+, the East Face of Monkey Face, a hybrid crack and



face route completed in August 1985. Yet, by the time young guns like Scott Franklin—who had established, ground-up, the trad route Survival of the Fittest (5.13a) in the Shawangunks—and an Ohio pig farmer named Jim Karn made the pilgrimage to Smith, in 1986 and 1987, Watts had roasted his fingers. “My digits were swollen up and not bending too well,” says Watts. “I had gotten too far ahead of everybody else ... I started to lose drive. By the time other people were there to push me, I wasn’t at the top of my game.” Watts hung in for one last project, a sustained line he’d bolted on the gently overhanging Aggro Wall, and expressly asked J.B. Tribout, a French climber and one of the world’s strongest, to leave it alone. “I was falling right at the last hard move on redpoint,” says Watts, “when J.B. made a special trip back to Smith to snag the thing.” Watts had previously shared projects that were “way over my head” (e.g. To Bolt or Not To Be) in the name of progress, yet today, 14 years after Tribout redpointed the line, aptly naming it I Am a Bad Man (5.14a), Watts still bristles at the memory. “I could have kept bolting 5.13+/14- lines, but if everything was open game—if my efforts weren’t going to be respected—then there was no incentive,” he says. And so Watts bowed out of the arduous process of new-routing. In the area’s next phase, with Karn and Franklin more interested in repeating than establishing hard lines, Smith Rock, says Watts, faded to gray, becoming “no longer the center of the sport-climbing world.”

● ● ● KNEE JERKS While Watts operated freely at Smith, sport climbers elsewhere,


CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Alan Watts goes "mud-tugging" on the first ascent of Watts Totts, 1983. Note the lack of chalk and bolts in the Dihedrals, behind him. • Lycra virgins in a pose-off at Red Rocks. • Troy Mayr committing the dirty deed—rap-bolting on Joshua Tree granite, Bosch Bulldog in hand.

especially in the trad bastions of Red Rocks and Boulder, fared less well. “You could hear them coming, just round little poops, raining down that big slab above the Gallery,” says Las Vegas native Mike Tupper of the sheep excrement that trad climbers dumped onto him and others from above Red Rocks’ showpiece sport crag. “It was a really shitty thing to do, by a bunch of narrow-minded knuckleheads.” Tupper, now a smokejumper in Boise, Idaho, recalls the incident with humor. However, the “dumping” perpetrators—led, according to Tupper and others, by trad climber Paul Van Betten—were serious. In the late 1980s, the group was known to rappel down Tupper’s and his partner Greg Mayer’s projects to hammer off holds, or simply yank the routes’ first hangers, to prove their point—that, to paraphrase an argument they once posited to Tupper—“Red Rocks is gonna have the highest climbing standards this side of Dresden.” After trads chopped Tupper’s Graveyard Shift (5.12d), next


ABOVE: A starved Jim Karn thinking pink on an on-sight of The Heretic (5.13), City of Rocks, Idaho. He was one of the few American climbers on-sighting the grade in the early 1990s.

and tiny pebbles. “The terrain [on Paris Girl] is so steep and continuous that there was no place to hang on a hook and drill,” recalls Griffith. “Before that, all we were doing was freeing old bolt lines, doing crazy shit on really old, questionable gear.” Already an Eldorado master with Perilous Journey (5.11 X) and the first ascent of the horrendous Red Dihedral (5.12+ X) under his belt, Griffith felt justified in his break with tradition. Free soloing about the canyon, Griffith scoped for blank faces, later bolting, by hand, such stunning, futuristic lines as the radically overhanging traverse Desdischado (5.13c) or the blank arete of Lakme (5.13b). Paris Girl, which Griffith had intended as “a statement,” promptly had its first two bolts chopped ... then re-installed. The route became a focal point for Boulder’s schizoid bolting angst, even to the point of having, in 2001, its first, ring-style hanger sliced during the height of internal Boulder LEFT TO RIGHT: The opinionated Johnny Rock (Bachar) sporting his "The Devil is a Hangdog" T-shirt at one of the Great Debates. • A well-coifed Boone Speed, replete with early 1990s Canyon bolt wars, a symbolic and potentially mursport-climber "doo-rag," catches a rest on Dude (5.13c), Virgin River Gorge, Arizona. derous gesture given the 15-foot 5.11a runout to the to the popular Running Man, he re-installed it with 4.5-inch clip. Nevertheless, the popularity of Colorado sport areas like stainless-steel bolts and giant home-made hangers, and drilled Shelf Road, Rifle Mountain Park, Clear Creek Canyon and a pocket (“I was in sort of a rage,” he says) to replace the manBoulder Canyon support Griffith’s original vision. gled edges on Sharkwalk (5.13a) at the Trophy Wall. With canny prescience, Tupper told the trads, “I’m gonna win. People ● ● ● KEEPERS OF THE FLAME are afraid—they want to clip big bolts really close together.” “The first rule is there are no rules”—Ron Kauk, citing a famous Over the last decade, Red Rocks has become one of the counJim Bridwell quote from the 1970s. try’s most frequented sport-climbing destinations, with many of The war between the trads and the rads reached its nadir in the original protestors having either faded from the scene or California, where the new style, clashing with a strict ground-up taken up bolt clipping themselves. ethic established by such leading lights as Royal Robbins et al. in In Boulder, where the clean-climbing ethic had been refined by the 1960s, resulted in rampant rock destruction. Two “Defenders of the likes of Jim Erickson, Steve Wunsch, David Breashears, etc., an the Faith,” John Bachar, a renowned free soloist, and Kurt Smith, a iconolastic Christian Griffith, then 19, stepped up in 1985 to offer longtime Valley boy, protested the loudest. Both had climbed 5.13 Paris Girl (5.13a), a sporty, rappel-bolted route high on the west ground-up: There was Bachar and Jerry Moffat’s well-protected nipface of Redgarden Wall. Although a handful of rappel bolts had gone ple-tugging affair Clash of the Titans (5.13a/b) in Tuolomne in around Boulder, many drilled by British ex-pat Alec Sharp, who Meadows, and Smith’s 5.13a/b General Dynamics at the base of El used headpointing-style tactics to leave a legacy of “death” routes, Capitan. Despite certain examples—Ray Jardine, inventor of the Paris Girl was the first entirely rap-bolted line in the Boulder area, original camming devices, Friends, had brought hangdogging (and an audacious, featureless 110-foot face dotted with microcrimps 5.13a) to the Valley with the overhanging crack Phoenix in 1977; JUNE 2004 ROCKANDICE.COM



and Mark Hudon and Max Jones had dabbled with dogging, freeing all but 300 feet of the Salathé Wall in 1979—dogging, in late-1980s California, was strictly verboten. “My whole take on all that hangdogging was that it was degrading to the spirit of Yosemite,” says Smith. Before rap bolting, you often had to risk life and limb to put up routes. “It was the only choice you had,” Smith says, “and in order to be successful you had to put it on the line, whether it was 5.10a or 5.13a.” Ironically, Smith later became a leading sport and competition climber, pushing standards at such limestone crags as Rifle, Colorado, and El Potrero Chico, Mexico. Bachar, now 47 and a shoe designer for Acopa, lives in Mammoth 40


Lakes. On an exchange trip to France in 1979, Bachar climbed, with falls, the Verdon Gorge’s legendary Pichenibule (5.12c) but opted not to redpoint it, despite his French friends’ exhortations. To Bachar, who himself would later catch flak for drilling from hooks, even on his radically runout, three-pitch Bachar-Yerian (5.11b R) in Tuolomne Meadows, sport climbing, then in its European infancy, made no sense. “My first question at the Verdon was, ‘How did you get all these bolts in?’” Bachar recalls. Told they’d been drilled on rappel, he said, “That’s bullshit. You gotta put the bolts in on lead.” It’s an ethic to which he has adhered to this day. In Yosemite in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the rap-bolting rift between Bachar and his former Stonemaster buddy Ron Kauk, and their respective factions, resulted in two minor fistfights, shouting matches, bolt chopping and hanger flattening. Kauk, 46, now living in El Portal just outside the Valley, had visited Smith Rock in 1988 and made the third ascent of To Bolt or Not To Be— and saw, in his own words, that “sport climbing had its place in the big picture of climbing.” Kauk soon rap-bolted a line, Crossroads (5.13d), that crossed Bachar’s naturally protected Phantom (5.13a R) on Reed’s Pinnacle. “It’s better not to have a 5.13d move 50 feet out,” says Kauk, who argues that ground-up bolting often resulted in poor clips, something that ran counter to his common-sense understanding of protecting oneself on lead. Bachar proposed a compromise: Rap bolters could only establish lines stouter than the area’s hardest ground-up line—then Clash of the Titans. The proposal, however, didn’t take. In 1995, Kauk completed, by rap bolting, a 150-foot line—Diehard (5.13c/d) right of the Bachar-Yerian—that Bachar says he had been trying for years. Kauk renamed it Peace. “What kind of peace is that?” says Bachar. “That’s weak, man. After Diehard, I was over it. I didn’t want to climb anymore.” Kauk says, simply, “What if Bachar had just gone and climbed Peace [after it was rap bolted]? I wonder if he’d still be wanting to climb to this day?” An uglier battle yet, however, played out at Randy Leavitt’s Bobbi Bensman, the longtime Queen of Rifle, with Slice of Life (5.13d) to her credit, on an early ascent of The Beast (5.13a).


BOSCH BULLDOG: The first power drill used by climbers to put up sport routes, introduced by Chris Grover at Smith Rock in 1987. This advent exponentially decreased the amount of time needed to bolt a route— and bore out handholds. BOWLING-BALL HOLDS: A close grouping of two to four monodoigt pockets custom-drilled to fit a climber’s digits, much like the grip holes on bowling balls. CHOSS: Loose and/or otherwise crappy rock. CITY PARK: A 5.13c crack freed by Todd Skinner on Index Town Wall, Washington, in 1985. Most noteworthy is that the hard-working Skinner “sent the rig” after spending two hours burning axle grease, smeared by locals incensed at his hangdogging, out of the crux jams. DREAM MERCHANT: A name coined by Smith Rock locals to describe any would-be sport hero in the late 1980s/early 1990s. GREAT DEBATE: One of three trad-versus-rad meetings hosted by the American Alpine Club, the first held in 1986, during which figures like John Bachar, Royal Robbins and Henry Barber went head-to-head with Christian Griffith, Alan Watts and Todd Skinner. KEN NICHOLS: A Connecticut climber who, as a proponent of protecting face climbing with trad gear, multiple ropes and taped-on skyhooks, threatened to chop every sport route in America in the early 1990s. Nichols apparently lost momentum after removing the first wave of sport routes at Rumney, New Hampshire, which were replaced shortly thereafter by “Team Tough.” Today Rumney, thanks to the efforts of Team Tough, Dave Graham, Luke Parady and Joe Kinder, hosts myriad sport routes up to 5.14d. KNEE BARRING: Pressing your knee against the rock to either rest or make upward progress; popularized by Chris Knuth at Rifle, subsequently leading to the down-rating of most of the area’s routes. HANGDOGGING: Resting on the end of the rope after a fall, without lowering to the ground, before resuming climbing. According to Todd Skinner, when he committed the sacrilege of hangdogging up Yosemite’s The Stigma in 1985, locals “wasted perfectly beautiful, wonderful climbing days glowering at me from the bushes.” LYCRA TIGHTS: A “rebellious” fashion statement of early sport climbers, imported from France; the more gaudy, offensive and revealing the tights, the better. MUD TUGGING: An attempt, at Smith Rock, “to send the rig.” REDPOINT: A term coined by Kurt Albert in the Frankenjura. If a climber had freed, but not linked, all the moves on a route, he would paint a red circle beneath it. Once the route was linked bottom-to-top without falls, the climber filled in the circle with red nail polish—hence the “rotpunkt,” or redpoint. RED-TAGGING: Tying red string to the first bolt on one’s project to signify ownership; now considered totally lame. SEND THE RIG: Climb the route. SIKA: A toxic, industrial-strength compound glue mixture used to stabilize choss. WOBBLER: A fit of epic proportions, most often associated with failure to “send the rig.” YO-YOING: Before the advent of hangdogging, teams of climbers would advance up a route, lowering off after each fall but often leaving their rope (yo-yo) in place for days as they pushed the high point. For some reason this was long considered ethically superior to hangdogging, perhaps because it forced you to always re-climb to your high point as “punishment” before trying the next moves.


LEFT TO RIGHT: Is it live, or is it Betamax? Lynn Hill shows the boys—from left, Alan Watts, Todd Skinner and “Spider” Dan Goodwin—how it's done, at Smith Rock in the late 1980s. Dale Goddard displaying his decidedly ripped physique on Scarface (5.13d).

Snakepit crag in Joshua Tree National Park, where the biggest loser and Planet Earth (5.14a). From 1990 through 1996, he also was a 30-foot Joshua Tree, set ablaze but now, reportedly, recoverfocused on the immaculate limestone of Mount Clark, ing. While it’s not known who started the fire, it exfoliated the wall’s California, where he established one of his hardest climbs, the starting holds, effectively ruining the climbs; someone also tied a powerful 135-foot Tusk (5.14a/b). noose to a route’s first bolt. Today Leavitt is still “digging dirt out of cracks,” banging in bolts, After Leavitt and his partner Tony Yaniro had polished off or and putting up routes. established tons of trad classics, many of them spicy, at Josh in Says Bachar, who still solos a bit and frequents the Happy the late 1970s and early 1980s, Leavitt delved into face climbBoulders in Bishop: “I’m totally f——ing over it. Go ahead and blow ing at the Ivory Tower, a capstone formation hidden three hours up the rock with a nuclear bomb. Dude, if that makes you feel good, deep in the labyrinthine Wonderland of Rocks. He established, who cares?” via hooking, aesthetic climbs like Ocean of Doubt (5.13b) and the ultra-crimpy La Machine (5.13d), using discrete, camou● ● ● KARNAGE flaged daubs of glue behind creaky, crucial flakes. “Jim Karn pioneered the tantrum. He developed it into an art In 1989, Leavitt rappel-bolted the Snakepit and, in his own form.” —Alan Watts words, glue-reinforced crispy flakes on his projects—using two “How many other sports are there where it’s accepted that when to three cups of glue per flake on one route, according to Bachar. you fail, you can throw a mind-bending wobbler?” asks Jim Karn, (“There was no other way to preserve the integrity of the who was for many years America’s best sport and competition routes,” Leavitt argues, adding that, nonetheless, he no longer climber, renowned for both his climbing prowess and John McEnroeglues—for pragmatic rather than ethical reasons.) As DUBIOUS ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS Leavitt reports: “Bachar goes out there [in 1990] and GRAND PRIZE L’OEUVRE DU B——: Sadly abusing a sponsor’s “redpoint incentive” program launched in 1998, one takes offense to the glue. He dream merchant would wire out adjacent 5.13+ routes in Smith Rock’s Aggro Gully, then chip two-bolt variation chopped several routes—he starts, finishes and link-ups to fluff out his resume. Why? He was likely motivated by monthly paychecks that chopped the holds, pried swelled by $1,000 with each 5.14 send. “Anyone with any integrity wouldn’t [chip] anyway,” says Brittany Griffith, said climber’s girlfriend at the time. them off.” Griffith also refused to belay him on any of his chipped link-ups, and actually tied him off and left him dangling in “At that point,” says Aggro Gully when she realized he was auguring out pockets with a screwdriver: “I never felt comfortable with him Leavitt, “I just said ‘F—— doing that kind of stuff. Even as an uneducated, naïve climber, I could tell that was wrong.” it, I’m going somewhere SECOND PLACE MANIAC: This was supposedly America’s first 5.14, climbed in the 1980s on Gulliver’s Hole, at the where the scene is positive, Quoddy Head sea cliff, by “Spider” Dan Goodwin, better known for his confirmed 1981 ascent of Chicago’s Sears not negative.’” Making the Tower. Longtime Maine climber Bob Parrott, who tried the line once, describes it as tackling a “blank” headwall with dime- and nickel-sized edges. “I had my doubts a little bit as to whether it had been climbed,” says Parrott. six-hour pilgrimage from his home in San Diego to THIRD PLACE REFINER’S FIRE: Established by Louie Anderson, of California, in 1995 and given a whopping 5.14b, this obscure So-Cal line was described by crimp master Boone Speed, who tried it with zero success, as “quarter-inch Arizona’s Virgin River sidepulls up a vertical wall with no footholds for opposition.” Gorge at least once a week, DISHONORABLE MENTION VILLAIN: Graded 5.14a by first ascentionist Geoff Weigand, an active climber of the day, Leavitt poured his prodithis Smith Rock route almost saw a fast repeat by J.B. Tribout, who at the crux used a different set of pockets than gious energy into establishWeigand. Before JB could redpoint, Weigand cemented the pockets shut and sika-ed a rest jug below the crux into a ing such VRG classics as three-finger pocket to bring the grade back up. Unable to repeat this particular iteration, Weigand then pried the Horse Latitudes (5.14a) sika from the jug and re-claimed his route. JUNE 2004 ROCKANDICE.COM



Adrift in a 200-foot-tall sea of brutally overhanging limestone, Tommy Caldwell ponders the future on his latest Fortress project, Colorado.

AMERICAN SPLENDOR FIRST 5.14a IN AMERICA: To Bolt or Not To Be; J.B. Tribout, 1986. FIRST 5.14a CLIMBED BY AN AMERICAN: To Bolt or Not To Be; Scott

Franklin, 1987. FIRST 5.14a CLIMBED BY AN AMERICAN WOMAN: Mass Critique, France;

Lynn Hill, 1989. Note: First ascentionist J.B. Tribout reportedly claimed that no woman could ever climb the line. FIRST AMERICAN TO ON-SIGHT 5.13 IN AMERICA: Scott Franklin, Time’s Up (5.13a/b); Smith Rock, 1989, having on-sighted a handful of 7c+ routes in France earlier that season. FIRST AMERICAN TO FREE-SOLO 5.13: Scott Franklin, Survival of the Fittest (5.13a); Shawangunks, 1986. FIRST AND ONLY AMERICAN WOMAN TO ON-SIGHT 5.13d: Katie Brown, Omaha Beach; Red River Gorge, 1999. FIRST 5.14a ESTABLISHED BY AN AMERICAN: Scarface, Smith Rock; Scott Franklin, 1988. According to Franklin, someone later bored out a mono at the crux, and the rating fell to 5.13d. FIRST 5.14b ESTABLISHED BY AN AMERICAN: Super Tweek, Logan Canyon, Utah; Boone Speed, 1994. FIRST 5.14c ESTABLISHED BY AN AMERICAN: Necessary Evil, Virgin River Gorge, Arizona; Chris Sharma, 1997. Sharma’s original route name: Turd Burglar. FIRST 5.14d ESTABLISHED BY AN AMERICAN: Kryptonite, Fortress of Solitude, Colorado; Tommy Caldwell, 1999. FIRST 5.15a ESTABLISHED BY AN AMERICAN: Realization, Ceüse, France; Chris Sharma, 2002. Sharma’s original route name: Get a Life. AMERICAN WOMAN TO MOST RECENTLY CLIMB 5.14: Beth Rodden, Sarchasm (5.14a); Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, 2003.

splitters, and eating so little as to compromise his immune system. His tick list, however, was stellar: La Spectre du Surmutant (5.14a), Le Minimum (5.14a/b) and La Rose et le Vampire (5.14a) at Buoux; Are you ready? (5.14a) at Chateau Verte; an early redpoint of Dead Souls (5.13d/14a) at American Fork; Slice of Life (5.14a) at Rifle; and a single training day at Smith that included sends of the 5.13d/14a routes Scarface, I Am a Bad Man and White Wedding. Despite the difficulties of constant travel, Karn, on a mission to push his comp and on-sight abilities, was also one of the few Americans willing to stay on the World Cup circuit. “Nobody else was trying as hard as I was during those years,” says Karn. “I was far from being the most talented climber. If anyone else had tried as hard they would have dwarfed me, just like all the Euros.” Yet as top dog, Karn fell prey to a negative, passive-aggressive energy that plagued the era, at least in America. “At Malham [England] we’d be on the ground slagging each other off, but as soon as you started up, those guys were so behind you,” he recalls. Back home, however, Karn could feel “people wishing I would fall off.” Now working at Metolius Mountain Products, Karn has directed his obsessive energy into mountain biking and motocross, climbing infrequently. Reflecting on his biggest tantrum, a 20-minute rant following a fall at the last move of a near on-sight of Rifle’s pumpy Sprayathon (5.13c), he says, “It was like being possessed. I actually thought my head was going to explode.” Karn sent the route second try. “We were all just a bunch of anorexic homos, anyway,” concludes Karn. “I regret how I did it. I wanted to climb so bad that I was willing to do whatever it took. I tried as hard as I f——ing could. Everything else I did was total shit, but at least I cared about something for a little while. When I look at Beth [Rodden] and Tommy [Caldwell], though, I’m really impressed with how much better they’re doing it.”

● ● ● OPERATION SCARFACE Cleaning loose rock is a gray area

(continued on page 90)


like temper, eventually emulated by many. Examples? Jimmy Surette, now an adventure filmmaker based out of North Conway, once chucked his rock shoes a good 50-plus yards from the base of Smith’s Churning in the Wake (5.13a), almost reaching the Crooked River. Franklin, falling low in the first Snowbird competition, in 1987, spewed a volley of F-bombs and violently kicked the wall—all on national television. And, according to Salt Lake City climber Mindy Shulak, Karn’s talented younger brother, Jason, “Threw a hissy fit [after a comp] and kicked, yes kicked, the wall so hard he injured his foot. The expletives quickly turned to moans of pain.” Another example, an epic argument between Karn and then girlfriend Shelley Presson at Smith Rock in 1990, surely wins the Piolet d’Wobbler. “Karn and Shelley were warming up on Overboard (5.11a) and they started fighting,” recalls Don Welsh, a Las Vegas native now living in California. When Presson wouldn’t lower Karn, trapping him at the anchors, he began pulling hard on her side of the rope. “He finally yarded her up to the first quickdraw [20 feet up],” says Welsh. “As a competitor, Jim Karn was just an asshole—an unrivaled asshole,” recalls Christian Griffith, who once, at Timy Fairfield’s behest, drove down to Denver’s Paradise gym to rescue Fairfield from Karn and Franklin’s ruthless heckling in isolation. (“We used to heckle each other as a sign of respect,” says Karn.) Griffith cites Karn’s nihilistic penchant for abandoning or smashing competition trophies on the streets (Karn says, “I remember winging a few”), and using an alabaster (according to Karn, plaster) World Cup award to pound in tent stakes. “Karn did far more to destroy sport climbing in the early days than he did to benefit it. But you had to admire his climbing—he was a beautiful climber,” says Griffith. Karn, a fearsome powerhouse, won the La Riba, Spain, event during the first year of the World Cup, in 1988—the first American male ever to do so—and finished third overall in the 1990 World Cup circuit. Karn willingly pushed mind and body to new limits, eliminating fat from his diet until he constantly sported suppurating, full-pad


QUALITY FIRST 800.437.2526


When Plan A goes awry, the author and partner switch gears and head for Peru’s daunting and seldom climbed NEVADO ULTA. Had they known what was in store they might have opted for Plan C.

For Better or Worse,

my climbing partner for Peru last summer was Jim Earl. He had an obsession with junker cars, had completed probably more first ascents than any active Montana climber, and professed a special love for Jesus. About 10 years ago he drove a 1976 Datsun 710 station wagon whose tail end always dragged. It was dented, paint-peeling yellow and adorned with a sequined crucifix that glittered in the sun and seemed a bit too large for the rearview mirror. The crucifix came with the junker, giving the car its name, and Jim deemed suggestions to remove the crucifix as blasphemous. But Jesus had problems. Exhaust leaks caused carbon-monoxide poisoning. Jim’s girlfriend threw tantrums upon any suggestion she ride in Jesus. Even Jim couldn’t last long—but he’s a practical man, so he drove the 500 miles to his summer guiding job with a snorkel in his mouth, attached to vinyl tubing leading to a funnel duct-taped to the roof. He sputtered along the interstate, oblivious to the bewildered family vacationers in minivans alongside him. Incredibly, that summer Jim stumbled upon someone with the identical car—make, year, color, everything. Engine didn’t work, body was fine: $25. Jim had both cars on a friend’s lawn, a complex array of pulley systems rigged from trees, and was swapping engines. He’d no mechanical background and no guidance, but “How hard can it be?” Jim asked. Swap the plates, ditch the leftover nuts and bolts, re-hang the crucifix, and Jesus hath risen.



...over the b


n By Kelly Cordes Jim Earl crests sugar-snow cornices atop Nevado Ultaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s north face, en route to easier ground on the northeast face.

k .. .

II. Allure Summer 2003: It was my first trip to Peru, and we’d gone straight to the Cordillera Huayhuash, a gorgeous range

climbed. It’s just under the “magical” 6,000meter altitude that lures the omnipresent swarms of peak-baggers, and it has no easy routes. The last time Ulta had likely been summitted by a new route was in 1985. When I later learned the details of that climb—one of the climbers perished on his final rappel off the northwest face, his body never found—a cold, eerie darkness crept through me. I’d first heard of Ulta in 2000, when Jim and another longtime friend, Chris Trimble, headed there toward the end of an already successful month of climbing. Jim was ill, plagued by excruciating back spasms. At basecamp he crawled under a boulder, where he writhed in pain for 48 hours

Route Continues around on northeast face

Personal Jesus ascends Nevado Ulta's north face via the line indicated, continuing just beyond the left skyline, on the margin of the northeast face, to the summit. The pair’s desperate descent followed the black line.

southeast of the better-known Cordillera Blanca, to fester in the rain. Everything I’d heard was true: good rock, beautiful mountains with great climbing, cheap and, best of all, the basecamps were on grass. I knew no more Spanish than what you’d find on a salsa jar, but Jim did: He’d been all over South America. Moreover, this banjostrumming, analytical math whiz with an affinity for explosions, fire and general chaos had quietly fired some of the continent’s most desperate ice pitches while swinging leads with great climbers like Alex Lowe and Conrad Anker, and was equally proficient on rock and scrappy alpine choss. Jim’s partners all knew he was the real deal, though nobody would describe him as flashy: bushy red hair, scruffy beard, bottlecap-thick plastic-rimmed glasses and the wildest nose hairs you’d ever seen. Usually soft spoken, too, but with a certain underlying rowdiness. And Jim knew Peru, especially the Cordillera Blanca’s striking 19,270-foot Nevado Ulta, with its daunting north aspect. Despite its beauty and easy access—only two hours from a road in the popular Huascaran National Park—Ulta is rarely 46


feet up the face, just below the summit ridge. They rappelled, staggered back to camp, and hurried to flag down a ride— Chris’ flight left Lima (a nine-hour bus ride away) the next day. My interest in Ulta grew in 2002, when British hardmen Nick Bullock and Al Powell arrived after surviving a terrifying avalanche in the Huayhuash. Bullock suffered torn groin, back and intercostal muscles, sprained knee ligaments and a “knackered left shoulder.” He was, as he wrote in the 2003 American Alpine Journal, “placed on the scrap-heap for broken mountaineers.” With Bullock seemingly out of service, Powell teamed with fellow Brit Owen Samuel and headed for Ulta, with Bullock hobbling along to basecamp and doubling his anti-inflammatory dose, just in case. Late the next night, Powell and Samuel set off for the throat of the concave north bowl. Bullock wished his friends luck and crawled into his sleeping bag, but watching them leave had been torture. An hour later, he dragged his drugged body out of his bag and slowly—to minimize the pain of breathing—limped toward the northwest face. Alone and completely out of contact with his mates, who eventually stopped just below an enormous summit cornice after two days of dangerous, virgin ice and mixed climbing, Bullock soloed 3,000 feet, mostly new, of ice and rock up to M5, reaching the summit ridge, but not quite the top. He climbed unroped and carried almost nothing, “packing extra pills at the expense of food.”

III. A Fresh Start

Kelly Cordes beginning a 500foot simul-climb lead, midway up Ulta.

straight, sweating, moaning and downing painkillers. Suddenly, as Chris describes, Jim sat bolt upright and insisted, “I’m fine, let’s go.” “But, uh, Jim, you don’t look ...” “Let’s go!” They headed up an unclimbed mixed line on Ulta’s steep, sweeping northwest face—steep enough that a barrage of ice ripping down from high above actually launched over them. Near the top, a storm hit, but they pressed on. In a whiteout, they dead-ended below hulking cornices 3,000

Two weeks later, Jim and I, rained out of the Huayhuash, found ourselves in Huaraz, Peru, the Chamonix of South America—the stopping point for adventurers headed into the Cordillera Blanca. It didn’t matter that its citizens rejected any notion that a car should ever go more than a few seconds without honking its horn; that any taxi, bus or vehicle is ever full; or that any boombox should blare at anything less than full throttle. Cabs sped through the streets and passed each other without regard to blind corners while jury-rigged bullhorns on pushcarts pushed everything from political messages to oranges. The sun shone and conditions were solid. We’d hit the reset button. All we needed now was an objective.

IV. Unfinished Business We dragged our gear into the trees below Nevado Ulta’s glacial moraine after a two-hour taxi ride from Huaraz. The


For years, Jesus lurched along the Montana back roads excessively fast—particularly considering Jim’s horrendous driving. At every remote trailhead and after every snowdrift out of which Jesus miraculously, seemingly inexplicably, rose, Jim would bellow his signature battle cry: “Yeeeeee-haaawwww, Jesus Saves!” But Jesus had died, and wasn’t there to save Jim when he fell from the top of Peru’s Nevado Ulta.

next day, after feeling like hell on our reconnaissancecum-acclimatization-hike, we returned to find the forest afire—one of many fires spread about the dry, tinderbox valley. Low flames flickered only 50 feet from our bivy site. The wind, however, blew the other way, and, too lazy to move, we figured we’d have time to escape should it shift. Jim woke at 6 a.m., puking. Bad gut. He swallowed two grams of the powerful antibiotic Cipro—enough to kill anyone else—and went back to sleep. Though Jim felt better by early afternoon, cowardice and frustration left me bitching about how everything was going wrong. Jim calmly said he didn’t think it meant anything, PACIFIC adding, “I feel fine now. I’m psyched.” OCEAN He was right. A few things hadn’t gone perfectly— so what. I constantly dream of the mountains and strive for minimalism, living, back home, in a 7-by-11foot refurbished chicken coop, eschewing a TV, fancy car or similar superfluities because I find clarity in the alpinestyle ethos of doing more with less. I spray about the freedom that comes with realizing how much I don’t need in order to be happy. How, with a poverty-level income and no silver spoon, I could run my own pro leisure tour: a month in Chamonix in March, Alaska in May, then, finally, Peru. But now, an hour from the base and under clear skies, I whined like Nancy Kerrigan. What kind of believer was I?


V. Going to the Show We gathered our belongings and fled the burning bush to bivouac below the north face of Ulta. It rose above us like an immense temple. Monstrous cornices guarded the summit, perched above rockfall-streaked ice runnels up the guts of the face, where Powell and Samuel had climbed the year before. Just left, however, protruded an enticing line through a rock buttress with ice ramps, mostly clear of the bombardment. About 2,300 feet up, a horizontal rock band held an anemic smattering of ice—the obvious crux and the first big unknown. Above, more ice led to a notch in the steep, rocky north ridge. Some mixed ground just left of the ridge looked like it might go. How we’d get through that steep upper part—not to mention to the summit—was another unknown. The line was obvious and unclimbed, and though it had been attempted, it wasn’t until later that we learned the details of some recent, serious attempts: two- to three-day pushes, aid climbing through the crux rock band, and a high point three-quarters of the way up the face. Maybe it was best that we didn’t know. Our topo showed an elevation gain of 3,300 feet from base to summit. What to bring? Six cams sounded right. Lots of wires. Tricams. Seven screws. Extra cord for rapping. Pins? Heavy ... How much hardware courage did we need? Jim duct-taped the rims of his glasses to keep the lenses in place, and we packed the pitons. Despite the intimidating aura of the face, my concern about previous altitude struggles (which seemed to come on around 18,000 feet)—and our Euro-style plan to race up and down the peak before its altitude debilitated us—I finally felt calm, peaceful. So blissfully distant from commonplace society and the growing malignancies, nourished by our “leaders,” of greed, deception and everything I despise. Here, now, was Ulta: pure, sacred and real. I knew that we could do whatever the hell we wanted here, that the only accountability was to ourselves. But our actions would reflect our beliefs, and that’s why, at its core, style is everything.



Our tiny rucksacks held spare headlamp batteries instead of bivy gear; full of food and water, extra gloves and belay parkas, they weighed less than 15 pounds each. I lay listening to Johnny Cash and, before going to sleep, imagined—like I always do—what I wanted to happen.

VI. Stepping Out “Off!” I slumped onto a belay anchor at 18,500 feet, 2,500 feet up the route, after freeing the pitch through the steep rock band. We’d been climbing for 14 hours, soloing the easy entry slopes then simulclimbing moderate rock, ice and mixed ground. I closed my eyes and heard only my labored breath, the sound of the ropes as I pulled them through the belay plate, and the harsh cough I’d suddenly developed. Months later I couldn’t recall enough detail to draw a topo of the pitch, but it was sustained, 220 feet long—“relentless,” Jim called it. The ice just left was comparatively thick, but looked ready to collapse, so I climbed along its margin, through shallow left-facing rock corners with multiple small overhangs and decent pro. I figured I’d never fall more than 30 feet, 40 tops, and usually much less and always clean. Finally, I reached 80-degree ice and paused to catch my wind and yell down, asking “How much rope?” Twenty feet. I climbed another 40 before finding good rock, and built a five-piece anchor. Jim arrived, blurting, “Jesus, nice lead.” He’d climbed so quickly—trying to save time—that now he panted, recovering from dangerous overexertion at altitude. (continued on page 96) JUNE 2004 ROCKANDICE.COM


Photogra phs by A lly


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DAVE CHANCELLOR WAS GOING OFF IN MY EAR: “There is so much sweet bouldering here! You’re going to freak out! The Holy Boulders are sick!” Internet gossip had sprayed up the Holy Boulders, a semi-secret collection of 25 or so diamond-hard sandstone blocks on forested hillsides in southern Illinois, as the Fontainebleau of the Midwest. Chris Sharma had climbed there. So had Luke Parady, Katie Brown and Jason Kehl. I had made the 2,400-mile drive from Oregon specifically to check out the Holys and other bouldering in southern Illinois, a region so far off the bouldering radar it was guaranteed to be a tabula rasa. “Oh, yeah, man,” Dave continued. “The rock is endless! Boulders everywhere!” I was gambling good gas money by driving to the Midwest (the Midwest!) but I was also out of quality winter-bouldering options. Bishop is overrun with posses and poseurs, Hueco is still a mismanaged bureaucratic nightmare, Joe’s Valley is roadside choss, and Horse Pens, Little Rock City, Rock Town or any of the other Southern areas are ... well, way South. After a final 14-hour push through the monochromatic flatness of Missouri and Kansas, I’d made it to the Chancellor brothers’ house, dubbed the Compound. The unofficial tourism office/campground for southern Illinois bouldering, the Compound is located in the farming town of De Soto (population: 1,571), a place where the county expressly prohibits squirrel hunting (you can hunt squirrels?) from September through March. Dave, a lanky, dreadlocked 24-year-old, lives in the house with his brother, Daniel, 21, and housemate, Shane Williams, 23. All three go to college in the nearby town of Carbondale, a nondescript blue-collar burg of old brick buildings dating back to its late-1800s railroading heyday. The town is now subsumed by miles of chain

ON THE ROAD AGAIN ... From left to right: author, photographer and muse enter the fourth dimension.

stores like Wal-Mart, Lowes, and Barnes & Noble, and fast-food joints such as Chicago Hot Dog and Shrimp, or Steak ’N Shake, which advertises discounts for senior citizens. I pulled into the Compound’s gravel parking area at dusk. Dave’s directions triangulated off the county’s three main strip joints: “Our house is after the G-Spot, but before the Gallery, and right across from JB’s.” I found the place without a hitch. You have to re-cross the street and look from JB’s parking lot in order to really take in the Chancellor brothers’ three-acre spread. Next to their three-bedroom ranch home (complete with foosball table) are two open-air septic ponds the size of swimming pools, covered in lime-green film; a garage with a climbing wall so massive and deluxe the brothers have hosted sanctioned ABS comps; and an even larger metal-sided barn, the world headquarters for their upand-coming hold company, So Ill Holds. The term “So Ill” is the locals’ new-school abbreviation for the region—an oxymoron given that the rural area is more “Hee-Haw” than hip-hop. “We’ve got something like nine or 10 bouldering areas within an hour of the house!” Dave gushed. “Right, Shane?” “Yeah, man, they’re all really, really good,” drawled Shane, whose rail-thin physique and climbing prowess belie his strict junk-food diet, comprised entirely of homogenized vegetable oil (he refuses to eat actual vegetables or even cheese ... unless it is on pizza). “The Holy Boulders, especially. It’s definitely the best, man.” Found only two years ago, the Holy Boulders have gained national recognition, with photos in magazine articles, ads and catalogs, not to mention star billing in two climbing DVDs, Sessions and The Road. Sure, people have known about Illinois bouldering ever since the late 1960s, when John Gill started chalking up grips JUNE 2004 ROCKANDICE.COM


SO ILL ROCKS! ... Above, the local arts scene at Fred’s Dance Barn. LEFT Jonathan Thesenga plays the Bag Piper (V6).

on the blocks of Dixon Springs State Park, but the burgeoning underground buzz about the Holys (“Over 100 problems up to V13” ... “Full potential far from realized” ... “Heinous open projects” ... “Virgin lines around every corner”) have given So Ill street cred with the new generation of climbers, all of whom seem to eat up such bombast, hoping for the “next” Hueco. “But,” Dave quickly added, “you can’t write about the Holys in your article.” “What?!” Turns out the Holy Boulders are on private land, a cruel 300 feet beyond the Shawnee National Forest boundary. Last year the landowner went Level-10 postal when, out for a Sunday spin on his ATV, he stumbled onto a crew bouldering on his hunting grounds. Local climbers have since worked out an extremely tenuous access agreement, which, based upon the regional popularity of the place, is nearly certain to fall apart sooner rather than later. “Yeah, an article about the Holys would definitely f—k things up,” Shane said. “We’ll take you there, but you can’t write anything about it.” Not exactly what I wanted to hear, but, really, what did I care? The 14-page mini-guide I’d gotten off the Net listed over 300 problems at seven different areas—none of which had access concerns. Shane and Dave gave me the quick locals’ dish: Giant City State Park had cool traverses on gorgeous stone; Opie’s Kitchen and The Graveyard, stellar “wall” bouldering with topouts; Dixon Springs and Ferne Clyffe State Parks, a little bit of everything from discrete lines to eliminates; and Drapers Bluff, one five-star boulder with a half-dozen choice problems including So Ill’s best V9, Guns and Roses. If I blitzed through all that (not likely), Shane suggested Cedar Bluff and a couple of other areas. The only drawback was that the areas were spread out, and required up to an hour of travel time, but again, what did I care? The So Ill buffet line was open, save for one dish, and I was ready to gorge. 50


THE TOXIC AVENGERS ... The hold maker Dave Chancellor (right) carefully mentors his eager young intern, the author.

ripped free of his skull like uprooted weeds. When I met Daniel, a month later, the right side of his head was still bald, save for a few scraggly sprigs. The doctors are unsure if his hair will ever grow back properly. Daniel proudly showed me the homicidal drill bit, which he has preserved with the hair wound around it. He owes his fortuitous escape—he should have been scalped—to Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a rare, congenital epidermal disorder that gives his skin elastic qualities. Pinch his skin and it stretches a cartoonish four or five inches. Ehlers-Danlos allowed his hair to be not torn but s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d from his scalp. “It makes him awesome on slopers. His skin is so stretchy it’ll bunch up and grab onto any sort of bump or ripple,” Dave says. Dave, who once tried out for the circus (“I didn’t make it through the second round of cuts”), boasts his own collection of physiological oddities, including double-jointed elbows and shoulders, and the uncanny ability to balance huge objects on his chin (e.g. a 12-foot ladder, a bicycle or his current balancing project, his 14-year-old sister, Andrea). The brothers were floored when I told them that evening that the bouldering at Jackson Falls sucked. It’s not that bad, they said. Yes, it really is that bad, I said. They explained that the area just needed some traffic, that no one had climbed there lately. That it had to be drier, that the topouts needed to be cleaned. No shit. Desperate, Dave whipped out a photo album and showed me impossibly good-looking shots of the same mank I’d just bailed on. No moss, no leaves, no seepage; just dry, bullet stone. The rock was

First up was Jackson Falls, a “flagship area” both Dave and Shane vowed to be almost as good as the Holys. The boys had school the next day and my East Coast friends (Ally Dorey, Jason Kehl, Obe Carrion and Denise Strzempek) wouldn’t show up for another week, so Dave feverishly marked up my mini-guide with a blue highlighter to help me tour solo. “You gotta do this one ... This thing is classic! ... Cool project on the back side of this slab ... Oh, oh, really cool wall here ... Check out Body Karate, it’s awesome ... Definitely walk over and do these four, too.” Of the 45 problems listed for Jackson Falls, Dave had Dave’s directions TRIANGULATED off the marked 28 as must-dos. Jackson had everything from 25-foot V0 sneaker slabs to V9 slapfests. All highly concounty’s THREE MAIN STRIP JOINTS: “Our centrated, all high quality. The place was a gold mine! house is after the G-SPOT, but before the Screw the Holy Boulders. Jackson Falls had enough to GALLERY, and right ACROSS FROM JB’S.” keep me busy for two weeks!

MOSSY, DIRTY, SEEPING, AND COBWEBBY, JACKSON FALLS was a pile. A one-star shitpile. It looked like no one had climbed here in months. I was in shock. If you lived nearby, this place might be worthwhile, but I had just driven across two-thirds of the country for what? ... vegetated boulders hidden in a tree-filled holler? Yes, a holler. Its dense Blair Witch-like woods trapped moisture and blocked sunlight, keeping nearly every boulder soaking wet. The topouts were covered in moss and feculent, composting leaves, and the little chalk I saw was spoogy paste. I sat down on a damp, leaf-covered rock and tried to get a grip. It was hopeless. I wanted to scream. Except for the time in college when I’d driven 14 hours to see a girl in Iowa, only to have her dump me an hour later, I had never traveled so far for so little. Without even booting up I walked back to my truck. DANIEL CHANCELLOR IS LUCKY HE’S only half bald—he should be dead. This past October, while finishing up a shipment of holds, he got his then shoulder-length hair stuck in So Ill’s drill press. It wrapped around the whirling 6-inch drill bit, and he couldn’t reach the off switch. In a deadly “follicle vs. machine” tug-of-war, Daniel was pulled by his hair toward the drill. Just as the 3/8-inch bit was about to bore a hole in his head, Daniel’s hair (follicles and all)

a beautiful golden tan and steely gray. Chalked holds jumped out brightly. Just as when Daniel had first shown me his skin-stretching capabilities, I could hardly believe the transformation. “Dave, Shane, and me are seriously, like, one-fourth of the boulderers here,” Daniel explained, noting that this meager head count didn’t include the three teenage yokels they’d seen “bouldering” barefoot in nothing but tighty-whities at Jackson Falls a couple years back. “There’s so much rock and so few climbers that it’s impossible to keep areas cleaned. Well, except for the Holy Boulders ... they’re always clean. But you can’t ... ” “I know, I know. I can’t write about the Holy Boulders.”

FORGET ABOUT THE HOLY BOULDERS. HONESTLY, THEY’RE good, but not that good. In fact, none of the region’s areas compare to the countless blocks awaiting discovery in southern Illinois’ Shawnee National Forest. Stretching across the bottom of the state from the Mississippi to the Ohio River, the mostly road-free forest is 270,000 acres (or 420 square miles for you city folk) of untapped, publicly accessible bouldering potential. Stowed within the Shawnee may be a motherlode—the motherlode—of sandstone boulders that will put Illinois on all climbers’ must-visit list. JUNE 2004 ROCKANDICE.COM


there, somewhere. No one has found that elusive hillside of five-star sandstone boulders—yet. One day, however, the brothers fervently believe, somebody is going to literally walk into the best bouldering area east of the Mississippi.

OVERHANGIN’ BLUES ... Obe Carrion shoots for Michael Jordan (V12).

Good luck ever finding it, though. Situated in state parks or within throwing distance of a paved road, the boulders in areas like Jackson, Dixon Springs and Giant City are easy pickings. In the Shawnee, the woods are so thick that a behemoth like Yosemite’s Columbia Boulder could be 20 feet away and you’d never see it. Scoping boulders out West or East, you peer from vistas; you have wide-open valleys, rising hillsides and a convenient network of roads and trails. So Ill is all rolling topography, leaf-choked hollers and creeks, and walls of dense foliage. The Chancellor brothers and Shane, undeterred, constantly talked of scoring it big. On one wall in the Compound, Dave had tacked up four jumbo-sized topo maps of the Shawnee. Areas of high potential were circled; Xs were drawn through zones that had been searched. Almost none of the Xed areas had yielded squat. Now Dave had taken to trolling high-rez satellite photos on the Net and scouring detailed geological strata and property boundary maps in the archives of the Southern Illinois University library. All the effort had won him the discovery of only a handful of boulders, all of which, quality or not, were so spread out and isolated as to be destined for obscurity—such as his Johnny Cash Memorial Boulder with its single, unfinished problem (“It’ll be a classic!”), which can only be reached by traipsing three miles through the woods. Every climber in So Ill (all 12 of them) knows the goods are out 52


SLOWLY, SO ILL’S UNKEMPT BOULDERS GREW on me. In fact, Jackson Falls wasn’t that bad. After Ally, Jason, Denise and Obe arrived, we went back to Jackson, brushed the grips, battled the conditions, and pulled off some great problems. We began to revel in the area’s isolation and ruggedness. The variables—moss, damp holds, mud—freed us to simply go bouldering and not stress about success. What was the grade, what was the name? Who cared? We spent the next week bouldering with abandon, climbing whatever, wherever. We also sampled the stone at Drapers (only one boulder, but it’s awesome), the Holys (beautiful setting and stone, terminal access) and Giant City (ultra-recreational bouldering on multi-featured technicolor walls). Each area was unique, yet with common elements: brilliantly hard stone, and sloping grips that demanded deft footwork, constant body tension and subtle balance. Post-bouldering activities at the Compound were limited. Eventually, tired of losing every game of foosball to Dave, we found ourselves over at JB’s, shooting pool. Half of JB’s is a normal bar; the other half is the strip club. We alone occupied the regular bar, although yelling and blaring music sprang through the thin walls. It was Tuesday night and Dave was stoked because if you wear a cowboy hat on Tuesdays you get into the strip club for free. He had two hats and said I could use his spare. (Both were small white plastic models a 7-year-old might wear at a birthday party. I had never been in a strip club in my life, and I was not about to regress morally while wearing a white plastic hat.) As we drank cocktails at the bar, a stripper, just off her shift and dressed normally, sat down. She was crying, having just gotten fired. Not knowing the proper etiquette for cheering up a stripper, our group talked about bouldering while she drank a Pabst Blue Ribbon and cried more, and the bouncer tried to console her. As our bar tab increased so did Dave’s desperation to go next door. No one was willing to accompany him. “But I have two hats!” he kept saying. By 1 a.m. only Dave and I remained. We knocked back our drinks and decided to bail back to the Compound. Fifty feet out the door, Dave said he had to return to use the bathroom, though it was only 100 yards to his own house. He must have built up quite a piss, because he didn’t get home until 2:30 a.m. JUST AS EVERYONE GOT DIALED IN TO THE SLOPERS, THE rain and fog settled over Illinois like an x-ray blanket: a heavy, incessant drizzle. It was going to take days for the boulders to dry out—if the rain even stopped. We briefly talked of bailing down to Horse Pens (six hours away) or Missouri’s Elephant Rocks (two-plus hours away), but a weather check showed the entire region from Alabama to Canada to be socked in. We came to the grim realization that we wouldn’t be climbing the rest of the trip—I had to leave in three days, as did Ally and Denise—and that we’d be stewing aimlessly. When Daniel mentioned that his parents and uncle were coming into town that evening to begin re-roofing the Compound, we all volunteered. Hell, it almost sounded fun! Suckers.

By day two the novelty of manual labor had worn off—until Denise climbed up the ladder and served our rain-soaked crew a tray of powerful libations. Hey! Add alcohol and the job wasn’t so bad! Boulderers, especially lubricated ones, do not make good roofers. But after a few more visits by Denise and her tray, we merrily laid shingles in the rain until dark. After a quick shower, a change of clothes, and a few more beers, it was off to Fred’s Dance Barn. If ever there was a reason for a nonclimber to visit Carbondale, Illinois, this was it. On Friday nights, Fred’s Dance Barn, tucked away on a county back road and advertised as a “family establishment with live entertainment,” becomes an out-of-control drunkfest rife with farmers, cowpokes and whitetrash yahoos itching to throw punches and/or get laid. “There’s always a big fight,” warned Matt Bliss, a longtime local boulderer (his license plate is “So Ill”) and Fred’s regular. “Last Friday I watched two girls rip each other’s hair out while their boyfriends brawled. Little kids were running and playing in between the fights.” We parked in a drizzle-soaked field. At least 200 people were lined up in the mud outside Fred’s, an airplane-hangar-sized rectangle. The band shook the walls with a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Working for MCA.” Fred’s is B.Y.O.B. and the waiting line was full of jumbo-sized coolers so loaded with beer that two people had to carry each of them. We, like everyone else, drank half the contents of our cooler in line. Inside was mayhem; I couldn’t even see the other side of the “barn” for all the people and smoke. At least a thousand people were dancing and drinking. The mass of humanity bounced into and off one another as the band wailed out cover tunes of Southern rock classics and new country hits. Bliss, six foot two and built like a linebacker, saved me from a certain pummeling when a pissed-

off farmhand wanted to slug me for accidentally swiping a Budweiser from his cooler. Sadly, the anticipated highlight of the evening, the electronic bull ride, was missing. Bliss was stunned: “I’ve never seen Fred’s not have the bull here. It must be broken. I guess you’ll have to come back next weekend.” My battle against the bull, however, would have to wait. The following day would be my last in southern Illinois ... until next year. Yes, next year. I’m definitely going back to So Ill next winter. I’ll drive across seven heinously flat states to spend another two weeks bouldering there. Why? Because southern Illinois is not the next Hueco. It’s not even the next Bishop. What it is, however, is what bouldering was like 10 years ago—free, simple, uncrowded and friendly. Because it’s blessed with some of the sweetest sandstone blocks I’ve ever climbed. Because somewhere in the Shawnee lurks that mythical megacluster of virgin boulders. Because the place is so relaxed that people boulder barefoot in their underwear. Because I really want to score that first ascent on the Johnny Cash Memorial Boulder. Because I have to beat Dave in foosball. Because I gotta see if Daniel’s hair grows back. Because where else can you bivy in a field 300 feet from a strip club? Always on the prowl for new stone, Jonathan Thesenga wrote off 18,459 climbing-related miles as “business travel” on his 2003 tax forms.


So Ill: Boulder Bound CHICKEN-FRIED BETA



SEASONS: Late fall and early spring in Carbondale, Illinois, have the most consistent weather, with cool, sloperfriendly temps. Winter is often too snowy and cold, but not as bad as summer, which is awful, with broiling temps, swarms of bugs, and heavy foliage.

13 13



Giant City Road Springer Ridge Road



Grassi Road


Tacoma Road


WEBSITE: has local beta, bouldering photos and access updates.


CAMPING: Best camping is at Jackson Falls Park. Otherwise, Carbondale has numerous hotels and motels, from fleabag to five-star deluxe.


Giant City State Park





Drapers Bluff Cedar Grove





Ferne Clyffe State Park

Jackson Falls 24 147

Lick Creek Road





Dixon Springs State Park

NIGHTLIFE: Carbondale has loads of restaurants and bars, with one of the most popular being the Wednesdaynight special—stellar pizza and dollar pitchers—at Quatros Pizza. For latenight adult entertainment, forget the G-Spot, skip The Gallery, and go directly to JB’s Show Place—be sure to bring your cowboy hat for free entry on Tuesdays. There is only one place to be on Friday nights, and that’s rockin’ the rafters and chugging beers at Fred’s Dance Barn—call ahead for the mechanical-bull schedule.

So Ill: Boulder Bound SUPER GUIDE

8 1

Juicy Fruit (V1) Rein Deer Left (V4) Rein Deer Right (V4) Unnamed (V1-3) Wolverine (V6) The Ghetto Life (V1) Titelist (V8/9) Skypilot (V3) Heroics (V2)

To Lovely B.S.2 (V5) Arete 15 1














The “dog walk” approach


4 5


Boulder on top

21 20


19 2,3 4,6


8 15




1. Project 2. Zig Zag (V8) 3. THC (V3) 4. Space Invaders (V6) 5. OBD (V6) 6. OBND Traverse(V4) 7. Matt's Sloper Problem (V3) 8. Jennifer Aniston (V2) 9. Underclings (V0+) 10. Never Had a Name (V2) 11. Arete Syndrome (V5) 12. Beanie (V0) 13. Weenie (V0) 14. Sneaker Arete (V0) 15. Chamber Music (V1) 16. Travesty (V2) 17. Yes, Please! (V0) 18. Project 19. Zack's Problem (V3) 20. Pusher Man (V3) 21. F Around (V?)

The Professional Wall 7

8 9 10,11

V0 6 5



The Criterian V8

many variations V2

Undercling Problem V3

Mantle V3

slab V1


To the Professional Wall

A few yards to the cliff project


3 V4



1. 2. 3. 4.

Way of the Slacker (V3) Bar Fly (V5) Scrambled Eggs (V6) Guns n' Roses (V9) (Local favorite) 5. Arrowhead (V7) 6. Species (V8) 7. Unknown (V7) 8. Standard Route (V5) 9. Brook (V5) 10. Bubba in Carharts (V1)

To The Matrix and parking


Drapers Bluff




Steve’s Top Out V4

Kim V2 V6

Pure Faith V6



Shooter McGavin (V7) Sloper Arete (V3) Project Hula Poper (V9) (Local favorite) 5. Project 6. Project 7. Unnamed (V4) 8. Knobjob (V7) 9. Totem Pole (V8) 10. Hell Raiser (V9) (Local favorite) 11. Project 12. Project 13. Unknown 14. Project 15. The Opening (V5) 16. Unknown 17. Pocket Problem (V7)




1. 2. 3. 4.



Not yet topped out

Butt Naked V3


Andy Boone Problem V6 1

15 16,17


10 18

13 14


12,13 11

Roof with a traverse but no topout

Opie’s Kitchen




To Reefer Madness






To Lovely Arete




1. Unknown (V4) 2. Project 3. Snatch (V4) 4. Wind Mill (V6) 5. Bag Piper (V5) 6. The Tiger (V6/7) 7. Yosemite Slab (V0-2) 8. Pin Ball (V6) (Local favorite) 9. Fusion (V6) 10. Body Karate (V9) 11. Footwiser (V8) 12. Jackie Chancellor (V9/10) (Local favorite) 13. David and Goliath (V8) 14. Crimpmasterflash (V7) 15. Gunslinger (V3)

Jackson Falls

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.


The Matrix (V7)

V1 Storm and Rain (V4)

V0 V1 ? To main trail

TOPOS courtesy of Dr.




HIGH ROAD // Stephan Siegrist and Andrea Gasser put the day behind them on the Eigerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Mittellegi Ridge, Switzerland. PHOTO BY THOMAS ULRICH






Validity //


Jamie Valdivia establishes the solid Truth (5.13b) at Snickers Wall, New South Wales, Australia. PHOTO BY SIMON CARTER



Hanging Tough // Melissa Griffith making the clip on Tell-Tale Heart (5.12b), Boulder Canyon, Colorado. PHOTO BY JIM THORNBURG




Unsinkable // Jeff Schoen stays afloat on The Titanic (5.12), Needles, California. PHOTO BY JIM THORNBURG 60


hell just froze over... (ahhh, another perfect climbing day)

Dripping overhanging ice blue columns, verglassed rock walls, and “bowling alley” couloirs. A frozen playground filled with extreme and abusive conditions. Only those who come prepared with ice cold determination, superior technical skills, and a “bare bones” approach will conquer. For your “once in a lifetime” expedition, we designed the perfect rope - the 8.4mm Marathon™. On the outside, the award winning Marathon sheath. The most durable sheath on the market, designed to withstand the worst conditions on earth. On the inside, DryCore™, available only on Sterling ropes. This proprietary moisture resistant core yarn helps to maintain the rope’s original strength and elongation characteristics. Finally, its light weight and superb handling won’t slow you down for a second. Guaranteeing that you can beat the devil at his own game.

31 Washington Ave. Scarborough, ME 04074 Phone: 207-885-0330 THERE IS A DIFFERENCE Sven Krebs climbs one hell of a “Popsicle” - Ouray, CO. Photo: Richard Durnan


BY DAVE PEGG photo by Tim Kemple


LET’S BE STRAIGHT. THERE ARE WAY TOO MANY ROCK SHOES ON THE MARKET TODAY —nearly four dozen new models from 14 companies this year alone, plus a bewildering number of existing designs. The good news is that the tidal wave of shoes has created a buyer’s market, with hungry manufacturers slashing prices and constantly refining their designs to carve out a slice of market share. But more to the point: How do you make sense of the overwhelming shoe choices? You could spend the next three months testing every model released this year (not a bad way to spend a season)—or you could read this review. We solicited the top two new shoes from every manufacturer. Our guinea pigs were a diverse group of Rock and Ice staff members and friends, all with a decade or more of climbing experience each. Our goal: To field-test 27 new shoes on varied terrain and hand-pick our favorites. We rated the shoes for each of three types of climbing: 1. Overhanging rock, where a down-turned toe, medium to soft sole, and an upper that accommodates a tight fit are all key factors for grabbing and pulling. 2. Face climbing, where a focused, cambered toe box and medium to stiff sole let you stick matchbook edges. 3. Multi-pitch routes, where comfort and support for lengthy leads are king— yet the shoe must still perform admirably. (For more on this system see the “Style Matters” sidebar). You can choose a specialized shoe with high marks for the style of climbing you do most often, or an all-around model with a spread of stars to cover all the bases. Now, the review! 62



Rock-Shoe Review










OICE ★ 2 0 CH ROCK-S H 04

OICE ★ 2 0 CH




We loved this shoe. It’s comfortable but not clunky—and has more edging power than Bode Miller’s skis. One secret is the Oreo cookie-style layer of white stuff sandwiched into the sole. Unlike regular midsoles, which end a fraction of an inch from the inside and outside edges of the sole, the Southwest’s proprietary stiff-rubber midsole, christened the DEP (Dime Edge Platform), extends flush to the perimeter, buttressing your edges. The DEP also has unidirectional stiffness. Witness how the sole of the forefoot is rigid from outstep to instep, yet accommodatingly flexible from heel to toe. This is pretty much the Holy Grail of rockshoe design: great performance on edges and smears! Did I mention that the serrated heel cup hooks great on overhangs, and the supportive, fully lined uppers will cozy your feet on long routes, too?

Mad Rock has revitalized the rock-shoe market with innovative designs, and its wholesale-like prices have forced other manufacturers to drop their rates in turn. Sturdy, supremely comfortable and surprisingly nimble, the Frenzy is sure to be a headache for its competitors. It boasts a host of great features, including a speedy lacing system, plush padding around the upper edge of the heel cup, and an antimicrobial X-Static lining that helps prevent the shoe from smelling like Gorgonzola cheese. With full rands, a firm sole and flat last, this shoe will dance through talus and tear up cracks, yet the upper and the fit are smart enough to give the Frenzy a respectable level of chutzpah and feel. (The Frenzy is also available in a Velcro version with a padded heel for $89.)

STEEP ROCK: FACE CLIMBING: LONG ROUTES: UPPER: Synthetic, lined RUBBER: 4.2mm Stealth C4 (sole); 4.2mm Stealth HF (heel).

+ Best face-climbing shoe. - Expensive. 64


STEEP ROCK: FACE CLIMBING: LONG ROUTES: UPPER: Leather, lined RUBBER: Mad Rubber #5 (forefoot); Mad Rubber #3 (heel)

+ Great value. Best wide-crack, adventureclimbing and long-route shoe. - Fess up—you like the smell of sweaty feet.


Stop press! Five Ten makes slipper from Anasazi last. Sounds a bit dull, but we were amazed by what the combination does for this shoe. As one tester put it, “This is the most precise slipper I’ve used!” The Anasazi Slipper excels on steep rock and slides into thin cracks, while a thin midsole makes it surprisingly powerful on face climbs, too. Perhaps the best thing is that it doesn’t have to be sized excruciatingly tight to perform well—i.e. it doesn’t rolf your feet. My only gripe is that the flat-backed heel cup doesn’t stay put. Just thinking about heel hooking is enough to send this slipper flying into the bushes. That said, I’m a sucker for comfort. On short technical terrain, from vertical limestone to 45-degree-overhanging plywood, this was the shoe I most often wanted to use. + Comfort and performance. - Heel hooking—don’t even get me started!






OICE ★ 2 0 CH ROCK-S H 04




OICE ★ 2 0 CH



The Venom loves bouldering and hisses with pleasure when the angle gets steep. Similar to La Sportiva’s Testarossa, the aggressive down-turned last gives big-toe focus and precision, and the sharp toe sniffs out small holds. The sole is plenty sensitive, but the addition of a thin midsole gives it a significant edge over many of its steep-rock competitors. A stretchy rubber mesh atop the forefoot accesses a host of hitherto unusable foot-scum options. This shoe runs large; anticipate wearing it several sizes smaller than your street shoes. + Best steep-rock shoe. Rages on gym routes, bouldering and the steepest sport climbs. - Urghh—available in venomous black-yellow-green.


STEEP ROCK: FACE CLIMBING: LONG ROUTES: UPPER: Leather, unlined RUBBER: 4.2mm Stealth Black Magic Climbing in the Forza was like meeting an old friend. With its lilac-navy colors and soft, supple leather upper, this shoe resembles Boreal’s sadly discontinued Vector. The Forza won praise from our testers for its all-around performance. This is a shoe that really can climb anything, and be comfortable to boot. The cambered last is powerful enough for technical climbing. Yet the supple leather upper and fit are forgiving enough to wear on long routes. I’d recommend the Forza to anyone looking for a solid shoe for myriad types of climbing. + Good value. Excellent all-around shoe. - The leather uppers will str-e-tch, so don’t over-size.

★4 0

Rock-Shoe Review

OICE ★ 2 0 CH








It’s nice to see a lace-up that’s not as stiff as Donald Trump. The sensitive, sporty Vision was one of the best steep-rock shoes we tested. Ratchet the laces and you’ll find that the thin midsole has enough support for all but the thinnest face climbs. The disadvantage of laces is that the shoe doesn’t toescum as well as some of the models with rubberized uppers reviewed here. The innovative tongue, fully attached at one side to the upper, provides a comfortable, centered fit. This shoe will stretch, although the Lorica flashing curtails stretch more than on some unlined leather shoes. The glossy white Lorica will turn heads, too. The Vision wins our award for sexiest shoe.

As you would expect from a company that earned its reputation equipping trail runners, Montrail’s Zealot is exceptionally well made. I’ve been wearing this bargainpriced Velcro shoe consistently since the summer and it hasn’t bagged out or lost its shape. One of its standout features is its secure heel cup. “These shoes are totally locked on,” raved one happy tester. The solid fit enhances foot power, and with a well-rubberized heel and upper the Zealot hooks and scums like a dream. But don’t be suckered into thinking this is a shoe just for the steeps. With a firm midsole, the Zealot edges better than it smears. This is a great shoe for hard, gently overhanging terrain like Smith Rock or the VRG. One gripe: The elastic upper and low-volume fit make this shoe a struggle to enter the first few times you wear it.

This competitively priced shoe is a smart choice for beginner and intermediate climbers, or anyone looking for an allaround model that will do anything pretty darn well. Its medium-stiff midsole provides a solid edging platform. Yet the forefoot retains enough flexibility to paste on smears and the unlined leather uppers give decent sensitivity. Full rands boost crackclimbing performance and reduce stretch. On long routes you’ll appreciate its comfortable padded tongue and a wedge of EVA foam that cushions the heel during hikes and descents. Hobbits (i.e. testers with broad feet) liked this shoe. Elves with pointy feet found the toe box too wide and its toe point too centered.


+ High-performance steep-rock shoe. - Expensive.


+ Powerful face-climbing shoe that can also handle the steeps. - Difficult entry. Hot in the sun.




+ Good all-arounder; suits wider feet. - Conservative last limits high-end performance.




OICE ★ 2 0 CH




Is this how it starts? One week you feel embarrassed about wearing the ladies’ RockStar in the company of your bros. The next you’re wearing a jog bra and high-fiving everyone at the cliff. Despite sexual-identity crises, our female and male testers loved this “women’s” shoe. Evolv designed the RockStar with a shallower heel cup, higher arch and lower volume than its other models, and although I never thought of myself as having feminine feet, this shoe fits me wonderfully. The front end of the RockStar is similar in shape to Five Ten’s Anasazi Lace-up—one of the best face-climbing shoes on the market—so it’s no surprise that the RockStar is focused and precise on small edges. The rear end is more relaxed, with a flatter heel cup and less aggressive slingshot, sacrificing some power but increasing comfort. The result: a value-priced, moderately stiff shoe that works great for face climbing, cracks and all-day routes. Evolv offers split pairs with different left and right sizing for a small extra charge. + Great face climbing and all-around shoe with “women’s” fit for slimmer feet. - Passive heel.


We loved the Shadow because the Shadow loved our feet. I found I could wear it for hours at a time without discomfort, and along with Five Ten’s Anasazi Slipper it soon became my top choice for pump sessions at the crag and the gym. The Shadow features Boreal’s unique Integral Rand System (IRS), whereby the sole and rand are made from a single piece of injection-molded rubber. This prevents delamination, reduces stretch, and generally seems to toughen up the shoe. “This is the most durable slipper I’ve seen,” said one tester. The Shadow’s sole is exceptionally firm for a slipper, giving good edging performance on vertical rock. The dual-thickness sole is supposed to increase sensitivity, but I found its performance on steeper terrain disappointingly wooden. Despite being a fine all-arounder, the Shadow didn’t excel in any one area. Comments like “Great for training” and “Good for climbers breaking into slippers” abounded. No one raved that it was the shoe they’d wear to send their V-blah-blah-blah testpiece. + Comfortable, durable all-around slipper. - Too heavily built for outstanding performance on steep terrain.

★4 0

Rock-Shoe Review





OICE ★ 2 0 CH




STEEP ROCK: FACE CLIMBING: LONG ROUTES: UPPER: Synthetic, lined RUBBER: Mad Rubber 2.5-4.5mm



Slightly stiffer than the Evolv RockStar (reviewed above) and with a touch more tension in the heel, the Eclipse Lady is the most powerful women’s edging shoe we tested. This pastel-pink lace-up can front-point on the smallest of nubbins, and the low-volume toe box and shallow heel fit with surefire security. Think City of Rocks, Eldorado Canyon, the Gunks. For anything but pure face routes, however, the flat, stiff sole felt too board-like.

With space-disco styling—and the most ferociously down-turned last I’ve seen—this shoe is not for the fainthearted. Like last year’s Mad Rock Hooker, the Loco features a rubberized upper toe and aggressively serrated rubber heel cup, making these shoes easily the grabbiest I’ve used for toe scums and heel hooks. The Loco also has a ridged dual-thickness sole, the ridge of which really hooks when you’re pawing at jibs or small edges on overhanging walls. Beware, though: This style of sole can get quickly chewed up when you stand on your feet on rough rock like granite, so it’s more of a specialized steep-rock tool. The Loco’s uppers are impregnated with anti-microbial, odor-fighting X-Static fibers—a boon because this synthetic shoe is a sweatbox. Mad Rock shoes fit close to your regular street-shoe size.

This year everyone is trying to make them: moderately sporty, moderately stiff Velcro shoes (see Montrail Zealot, Red Chili X-Cube, La Sportiva Tora, Evolv Kaos, Acopa Aurora, et al.). The Vampire is one of the better entries in this hyper-competitive category. With a lightweight build and lots of forward tension from a slingshot heel, it works well on steep rock. Yet with a flat, medium stiffness sole and cambered last it performs decently on vertical terrain, too. The Vampire’s performance and styling (including telltale features like round, multi-directional Velcro patches) bear more than a passing resemblance to La Sportiva’s Katana. Unlike the Katana, the Vampire features a synthetic upper that resists stretch. A generous swath of rubber atop the big toe and a low-profile toe box make the Vampire a good choice for thin cracks. This shoe is a good compromise for technical terrain both vertical and overhanging, although it doesn’t have the teeth for long routes.

+ Outstanding face shoe wrapped up in a women’s-specific fit. - Almost too stiff for women, particularly petite ones.

+ The best-priced steep-rock shoe. - Synthetic uppers are hard to break in; toe is a bit blunt.

STEEP ROCK: FACE CLIMBING: LONG ROUTES: UPPER: Synthetic, unlined RUBBER: 3mm Saltic rubber

+ Good all-around performance on technical terrain. - More-specialized models give better steep-rock or face-climbing performance. 68



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STEEP ROCK: FACE CLIMBING: LONG ROUTES: UPPER: Synthetic, unlined RUBBER: 3.8mm Utopia PDS 2 There’s a minimalist school of thought when it comes to steeprock shoes. Ideally, the argument goes, you’d take a can of liquid rubber and spray-paint your feet. The V-Machine fits like this. Its soft sole and wrap-around upper, basically two overlapping flaps, are sure to please those who like a simple shoe that allows them to really feel the rock with their feet. Despite its seemingly basic design the V-Machine is engineered to banana your foot when you size it right (i.e. tight), giving big-toe power when the angle gets steep. Climbers with slim feet liked this shoe while those with wider feet found the forefoot narrow and the heel cup shallow. My right foot is wider than my left, and I never felt like it was fully seated and locked into the shoe. + Steep-rock performance; fits narrow feet; inexpensive. - Shallow heel cup.

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STEEP ROCK: FACE CLIMBING: LONG ROUTES: UPPER: Leather, lined RUBBER: 5mm Stealth Black Magic It’s good to see a shoe that’s unashamedly trad. With laces that run to the tip of the toe, stout rands, a rounded toe box and a stiff, flat sole, the Runout could have been teleported from the 1980s. Fashionable? No. Practical? You bet! We subtracted half a star from the Runout’s long-route rating because some climbers might want higher performance. However, this is a great first shoe for novice climbers who spend more time outdoors than in the gym, and a good choice for anyone tackling rough, adventurous terrain. At $80, it sports a 1980s price tag, too. + Solid, affordable multi-pitch shoe. - Is that a bandanna on your head?

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Rock-Shoe Review



What’s a last? Is there a difference between synthetic and leather uppers? Does the brand of rubber matter? Herewith, the dope on rock-shoe lingo and features to consider when buying a shoe. CLOSURE SYSTEM Laces provide the snuggest, most adjustable fit; however, getting lace-ups on and off your foot can be tedious when bouldering or gym climbing. Velcro straps are becoming more popular and durable, and are usually the easiest models to put on and take off. Elastic slippers simply slip on; the design can be an advantage when you seek low weight and maximum sensitivity, and for crack climbing, since there are no laces or straps to snag. “Slipper” is also a generic term for any lightweight model, whereas a “shoe” has a sturdier build. You’ll notice that some models in this review are described as Velcro slippers and others as Velcro shoes. SHAPE “Last” is a term for the three-dimensional shape of a shoe. You can gauge the last of a shoe by holding the front of the sole at eye level and looking down its length. Climbing shoes have three basic lasts: 1. Flat soled. 2. Cambered—the front half of the sole is twisted toward the big toe and the instep is higher than the outstep. 3. Down-turned—a cambered last where the arch of the shoe is raised and the front end lowered, so your big toe points downward. (You have to cram a foot tightly into many down-turned shoes to observe this “banana” effect.) Shoes also have two basic types of toe-box shape: 1. Asymmetric: straight instep edge and a pronounced big toe-point. 2. Rounded: a blunter, more symmetrical shape. UPPERS Leather and suede breathe well and can stretch a half to over a full size, expediting break-in time and producing a custom-stretched fit. Synthetic uppers resist stretch and deformation, ensuring that a shoe retains its shape and performance characteristics over time. Anticipate the likely amount of stretch when sizing a shoe. Some shoes have thin linings that limit stretch and deformation, and can improve comfort. Unfortunately, they also reduce sensitivity and increase break-in time. RUBBER Several companies proclaim their rubber as the stickiest, the most durable or simply the best. Which rubber should you trust? Truth is, with the exception of the standout Stealth and Mad Rock’s Mad Rubber for pure friction (but not always edging ability because of its softness), we didn’t notice a sole in this review that performed significantly better or worse than the rest.


With a dove-gray synthetic upper and translucent gel-like flashing, the Smoothy is an eyecatching shoe. This stiff, sporty lace-up has phenomenal edging power, but suffers from lined, non-stretch, unyielding synthetic uppers. I kept thinking, “This shoe will be awesome when I break it in!” Three weeks later I was still trying to break it in. + Outstanding edging shoe. - 5.15 to break in.


The Blaze Pro could have been one of our favorite shoes. With a moderately stiff sole, good lacing system and snug toe box it’s a solid performer on technical face climbs. The last, however, still needs work. It’s too flat, and I never felt like my weight was entirely focused over my big toe and instep edge. The Blaze Pro is an excellent edging shoe but needs a few tweaks to be outstanding. + Great edging shoe. - Last lacks power.


This is an all-around technical Velcro shoe—sensitive enough for the gym but not so soft and banana-shaped that it spanks you on outdoor face climbs—with a women’s-specific fit. Our female testers loved the high arch, narrow and asymmetric toe box, and low-slung heel, but were disappointed with the weedy heel cup itself. A more grabby, aggressively tensioned heel—it doesn’t have to be deep—would significantly rev up what is otherwise an excellent high-performance women’s shoe. + Sporty shoe with a women’s fit. - Passive heel.


STEEP ROCK: FACE CLIMBING: LONG ROUTES: UPPER: Leather, unlined RUBBER: 3.8mm Acopa RS rubber


The marketing blurb I received with the X-Cube proclaimed it as built for the “hardcore and more.” Its sole is aggressively cambered, but the shoe lacks downturn and needs more forward tension in the toe box. Like Saltic’s Vampire (reviewed above), the X-Cube is versatile enough to deal with steep plastic and vertical rock, but doesn’t dazzle on either terrain. My favorite feature: soft, unlined leather uppers that break in quickly for a cozy fit. + Good all-around technical performance. - Expensive. More-specialized models give better steep-rock or face-climbing performance.


STEEP ROCK: FACE CLIMBING: LONG ROUTES: UPPER: Synthetic, lined RUBBER: 4mm Trax XT-5 This moderately stiff Velcro shoe is a good face climber, with an Anasazi-type flat last and good forward tension. It would have scored higher if it hadn’t been such a bear to wear. The heel cup is exceptionally deep and the slingshot rand yanks against the Achilles tendon. Evolv offers split pairs with different left and right sizing for a small extra charge. + Edges well. - Heel cup is too deep.


The Tora is one of La Sportiva’s three new price-point shoes, and our favorite of the bunch. The last is more relaxed than many of the company’s premium models, upping comfort but lowering performance. I’d recommend it to beginner or intermediate climbers looking for a Velcro slipper to wear in the gym, or anyone looking for a comfortable long-route shoe that isn’t as stiff as a plank. (And if you pull hard enough, this moderately stiff and moderately cambered shoe will get you up V10 or 5.13 and beyond.) + Well made; comfortable. - Limited performance.


Boreal classifies the Stingma as their new high-performance shoe. Unfortunately, the mellow slingshot heel and lacing system don’t provide enough tension for serious face climbing— although the shoe strikes a decent balance with comfort. Similarly, the forefoot fit and last aren’t aggressive enough for the Stingma to rage on the steeps. This is a versatile technical performer that doesn’t excel at any one thing. The Stingma suits climbers with a medium to wide forefoot. + Decent all-around technical performance. - Expensive.



My all-time favorite steep-rock shoe is Five Ten’s V10. Sized right (i.e. super tight), it feels like it has been spray-painted onto my foot. I raved so much about the V10 that my friend, Lee, bought a pair. Big mistake. His heel wouldn’t stay down and the upper bagged out, creating a farting air pocket in the arch of the shoe. Listening to him moan, you’d think he’d strapped a dog turd to his foot. The lesson: Other climbers’ opinions will only tell you so much. That’s why we employed multiple shoe testers, ensuring each shoe found a foot to fit it. Ultimately, the unique shape of your foot will determine which shoe works best for you. Here’s our advice for sizing and fitting shoes: Try before you buy: As many models as you can. Rock-shoe demo days are a great opportunity. Ignore shoe sizes: I think shoe manufacturers dream these numbers up in between pulls on the hookah. During this review I discovered the right-sized rock shoe for me varied between the extremes of U.S. 9.5 (Five Ten) and U.S. 6.5 (La Sportiva). Size ’em tight: The idea is to eliminate dead space. Multi-pitch shoes should be snug. Steep rock and face-climbing models should be as tight as you can go without causing pain. For crack climbing, toes flat is the only way to survive the day. Anticipate stretch: Unlined leather models can expand a full size or more. Fill the front: Your toes should fill the toe box with your big toe directly over the toe point and instep edge. Asymmetric toe boxes provide better big-toe focus, but if your big toe is shorter than your second toe, a rounded toe box may give a better fit. Park your rear: The fit of the heel cup is equally important. Your heel should be fully seated and locked in place. A heel cup that’s too high will chafe your ankle bones and/or your Achilles tendon, and generally make your life hell. Women’s shoes: Women typically have slighter feet than men, with narrow, shallow heels and higher arches. If this sounds like your foot, consider Scarpa’s Eclipse Lady, Evolv’s RockStar and Acopa’s Aurora (all reviewed here), or one of several other women’s-specific models on the market.

STYLE MATTERS Climbing shoes are tools. You wouldn’t use a wooden mallet to pound a nail. But that’s effectively what you’re doing if you wear a stiff, flat- or rocker-soled shoe to monkey around the bouldering cave at your local gym. Believe me, you’ll climb a grade harder on steep plastic if you wear a sensitive, downturned shoe. You need the right tool for the climbs you want to do. To help you match the shoes in this review to your needs we have rated them on a scale of zero to five stars for three types of climbing: Steep rock, face climbing and long routes. You can choose a specialized shoe with high marks for one style of climbing, or an all-around model with a wide enough spread of stars to cover all the bases. Steep Rock: Shoes that work well on steeply overhanging terrain—say more than 20 degrees beyond vertical—have flexible soles and thin (usually unlined) uppers, allowing you to feel and push against bumps, smears and blobs. They also have a downturned last that focuses weight onto the tip of your big toe, allowing you to grab even smeary holds. A secure, well-rubberized heel and rubber over the forefoot make heel hooks, toe drags and other monkey maneuvers easier. Shoes scoring high marks for “steep rock” work well for overhanging gym climbs, boulder problems and sport routes. Face climbing: Good face-climbing shoes allow you to stand confidently on the tiniest crystal, shallowest pocket or smallest edge. They have a cambered (but not fully downturned) last, focusing weight onto your big toe and the instep edge. The best designs are reasonably stiff but not so rigid that they preclude nimble footwork or make your feet numb to the rock. Keep in mind that the stiffness of a face-climbing shoe hinders its ability to climb finger and hand cracks. Long routes: Good long-route shoes provide all-day comfort, and are sturdy and supportive enough to wear while scrambling down from the top of a cliff. They have a stiff, supportive sole and a flat, foot-pampering last. Choose a shoe with high marks in this category if you like to climb long traditional routes. Novice climbers (indoors or out) will also appreciate the comfort, durability and support of this style of shoe. Crack climbs: We haven’t rated shoes for crack climbing since different widths of crack favor different styles of shoe. Wide cracks (hands and up) are easier (and less painful) in a supportive, flat-soled shoe—i.e. one with high marks for long routes. In contrast, you’ll have more success on thin cracks in a more flexible shoe with a low-volume toe profile, flat last and a generous swath of rubber across the top of the toe box.

CONTACTS Acopa: 510-262-9581,; Boreal: 800-437-2526,; Bufo: 877-YA-CLIMB,; CaVa/Advanced Base Camp: 888-90-CLIMB,; Evolv: 714-891-0555,; Five Ten: 909-798-4222,; La Sportiva: 303-443-8710,; Mad Rock: 503-797-1952,; Mammut/Climb High: 802-985-5056,; Montrail: 800-826-1598,; Red Chili: 801-942-8471,; Saltic: 866-4-SALTIC,; Scarpa: 801-278-5533,; Triop: 403-688-1830, 72



STEEP ROCK: FACE CLIMBING: LONG ROUTES: UPPER: Leather, unlined RUBBER: 4mm Cling 2000 This shoe combines laces and an elastic tongue for a snug and surprisingly comfortable fit. It’s a decent all-around performer, stiff enough to edge, soft enough to smear, and a few years ago would have scored higher marks for performance. Today, however, its design and last seem dated. The flat-soled last and trim toe work great in thin cracks, but otherwise this shoe does little to enhance the power of your foot. + Excellent thin-crack shoe. - Expensive. Dated


The Tornado is a hybrid: Half approach shoe, half climber. I used it to climb Ancient Art (5.11a) in Utah’s Fisher Towers, including for the 30-minute hike in—although I wouldn’t be happy wearing it on a significantly longer approach or harder route. The Tornado’s heel wedge is narrow and somewhat unstable for long, rugged hikes, while its wide, stiff, flat last works best for climbing challenges that are well within your limit. For most backcountry routes I felt like I’d rather use the combination of an approach shoe and a dedicated climbing model. + Climbing shoe that can hike. - Doesn’t hike as well as sticky-rubber approach shoes. Doesn’t climb as well as a dedicated rock model.


The Blaze Soft has a flexible sole and “rockered” street-shoe-type last. Combined with soft unlined leather uppers, this makes for an exceptionally friendly fit. The downside is a distinctly mellow level of performance. The Blaze Soft seems best suited to novice and intermediate climbers seeking a sensitive, comfortable outdoor shoe. + Comfortable and reasonably sensitive. - Pedestrian last.


This slipper has an innovative closure system, with the elastic upper cinching over the arch with a Velcro strap. This provides a snugger and more locked-on fit than many slippers I’ve tried, although the strap proved painful, pinching the skin on the instep of my foot. The last was also a little strange. When sized tightly, this shoe pulled my big toe up, rather than down—reducing power on steep rock. + Locked-on fit. - Unfocused last.


Help! I didn’t understand this shoe. Down-to-the-toe laces, stout rands and a blunt toe box are features I’d praise on a long-route shoe. The high arch, powerful slingshot heel, and supple, unlined leather upper are features I’d look for in a face-climbing or steeprock shoe. On the rock, it climbs like a Ford Taurus, nothing special ... but it will get the job done. + Unique combination of features. - Enigmatic.



Rock-Shoe Review

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The Ultimate Rock-Shoe Guide






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RED CHILI: 801-942-8471, WWW.REDCHILI.DE Sausalito $99 4 to 16 2001 yes X-Cube REVIEWED $125 4 to 13 2004 no Tornado REVIEWED $149 4 to 13 2004 yes Phantom $139 4 to 13 2002 no Spirit $129 4 to 13 2002 no Voodoo $145 4 to 13 2002 no SALTIC CLIMBING/TREKKING: 866-472-5842, WWW.SALTICSHOES.COM Spirit $79 3 to 12 1995 no Eso $95 3 to 12 2001 yes Falco $103 3 to 12 2002 no Sepia $108 3 to 12 2003 no Guru $105 3 to 12 2002 toe Bara $105 3 to 12 2003 no Vampire REVIEWED $115 3 to 12 2004 no Mamba $89 3 to 12 2004 no Klasik $95 3 to 12 1990 yes Shiwa REVIEWED $110 3 to 12 2004 yes Devil $119 3 to 12 1999 no SCARPA: 801-278-5533, WWW.BLACKDIAMONDEQUIPMENT.COM Vision REVIEWED $140 34.5 to 46 2004 no Women's Eclipse REVIEWED $109 34 to 42 2004 no Eclipse $109 34.5 to 48 2003 no Marathon $149 34.5 to 46 2003 no Reflex $90 34.5 to 48 2001 no Dominator Velcro $100 34.5 to 46 2001 no Dominator $125 34.5 to 46 2001 no Dominatrix $125 34.5 to 46 2001 no Vortex $80 34.5 to 46 2002 no Pro Ascent $249 36 to 48 2003 yes TRIOP: 403-688-1830, WWW.VERTICALADDICTION.COM Waltz $80 35.5 to 47 2002 yes Tiger $110 35.5 to 47 2003 no Tango $120 35.5 to 47 2002 no Wings REVIEWED $110 35.5 to 47 2004 yes Rap REVIEWED $120 35.5 to 47 2003 no Junior $70 30 to 35 2001 yes Rental $90 35.5 to 47 2003 yes




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BY REBECCA STOKES photo by Greg Epperson • illustrations by Jeremy Collins


Fine Art of Footwork MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR CLIMBING SHOES—AND YOUR CLIMBING in the Pipe Dream Cave, in the heart of Maple Canyon, Utah. This is her fourth attempt on The Diggler (5.13b). Veins pop out of her arms as she shouts, “Watch me!” I expect to see a slick toe hook or drop knee, but she lunges crudely, tags the sloper, and plummets. She curses. “God, what am I doing? I need to use my feet.” Twenty minutes later, a clever toe-hook/heel-hook combination delivers Kreigh to the final MELINDA KREIGH CLINGS TO A COBBLE CEILING 30 FEET OVERHEAD



sloper with ease. Kreigh, from Eugene, Oregon, has climbed around the world for the past eight years. The Diggler, she says, “is all about trying to minimize the feet cutting loose. Every time they come off, you have to do a pull-up to get back on the rock. On a cave ceiling you have no time to waste on poor technique.” Kreigh, like many people, hit a plateau in her first couple of years, stuck in the 5.10 to 5.11 range at Smith Rock, Oregon, a crag known for intricate footwork. “I realized I was missing something,” she says. “I was completely frustrated and it was because I didn’t trust my footwork. You need to be able to stand on your feet and have confidence.” Kreigh hit the gym, finding a coach, the footwork master Tony Yaniro. Her training was a gradual process, but within a few months she was climbing 5.12s at Smith. Her splendid footwork has since danced her up thousands of routes. Yaniro, of Bozeman, Montana, a clinical pathologist with a degree in sports medicine, is one of the few people to have climbed 5.13 for 25 years. He has been teaching climbing clinics across the country since the 1970s. “The biggest fault I see,” he says, “is people not using their full bodies. They fixate on dynoing or campusing, which are good skills, but they need to get the power from the whole body.” He points out exactly why feet are crucial. “You need to think about points of contact on the rock: the hands and the feet. If you eliminate feet, there goes 50 percent of your power.” Tom Wells, a climber with 30 years of experience, also from Bozeman, says the difference between intermediate and advanced climbers is that the best ones “look at their feet as they climb and plan where to put them next.” Excellent foot technique means saved energy. It’s common sense: Efficiency leads to less strain on the arms, back and core muscles, so you can pull harder and longer.

HOW DOES ONE IDENTIFY BAD TECHNIQUE? Perhaps the surest sign is noise: the thud of feet on the wall, the skidding of rubber on rock. The sound of precise footwork is silence. Other signs include hitting the dreaded plateau where the next grade is achingly close but always out of reach, or continually getting pumped and fatigued too quickly. You can also assess footwork by looking at the wear on your climbing shoes. It should be concentrated on the inside of the big toe. The strongest climbers have strong toes and know how to use them. Says Wells, â&#x20AC;&#x153;If your shoes are wearing in other spots, your toes may not be as strong as you think and you may not be as efficient as you think.â&#x20AC;? Sometimes rubber wear occurs in one spot on one shoe and not the other, another sign of poor technique, or even compensation for an injury that may need attention. DAZZLING FOOTWORK: TONY YANIRO BREAKS DOWN THE PROCESS. Phase One: Sight your target foothold, and

plan how to use it before even moving. Many people start raising a foot, and only then think about where to put it. Phase Two: Place your foot on the hold deliberately and precisely. Use the plan you just made. Ensure maximum rubber contact and correct placement. No noise: no skidding, thumping or slapping! Phase Three: Hold your foot motionless on the hold as you shift your weight onto it. The more pressure, the less chance of skating. Draw from the power of the foot and engage the muscles from the feet up through the legs, glutes and abdominals. Use your muscles efficiently to execute the next move. Phase Four: Work on technique. Practice specific moves and foot positions. Understand footwork techniques (listed below) and incorporate them into your muscle memory.

FOR SOME REAL PRACTICE, TRY THESE EXERCISES: Slo-Mo: Practice placing your feet slowly

on small or micro holds. Hesitate with your foot right above the foothold, then place it and hold it still. Again, keep your feet silent. Try this exercise on easier climbs so you can concentrate on footwork. Do it for 10 to 15 minutes before climbing, several times a week, as you warm up.

TRAINING Look, Mom, No Hands: Find a low-angle section of rock and climb it without using your hands. This exercise will shift your body weight strongly over your feet. Keep your hips close to the wall. You can traverse or go up the wall with a toprope. This is a fun exercise, to practice often. Monkey Squat: If the legs are weak, the feet are weak. Tiring climbers may tend to lock their knees and straighten their legs, stiffening up overall and losing efficiency. Find a hard surface, no mats or rubber. Spread your feet just beyond shoulderwidth at a 45-degree angle. Squat until the thighs are parallel to the floor, then shift your body weight from side to side over each foot. Keep the unweighted foot flat on the floor, and engage your abs. Think about pulling your navel in and upward so that your lower back does not arch. Do this twice a week, in approximately two sets lasting for two to three minutes. When you want to advance it, just lift your heels.

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FOOTWORK TECHNIQUES The key to ingraining any footwork techniques is practice. You might even ask the setters at your gym to set routes with specific footwork moves such as back steps. Practice all of these foot techniques with small handholds at first, forcing you to rely on your feet. Make sure you practice techniques correctly so that on harder routes requiring specific footwork you will automatically fall into correct body positions. Commit: Choose footholds and weight them with complete faith. As Kreigh says, “On a hard on-sight you don’t have time to question if your feet are good. You just have to trust them.” Rock-over: Shift your entire body weight from one hold to the next. This is more a body move than footwork, but essential for any climbing movement. Using the momentum of your body weight, roll onto one foot from the other. Be fluid. Start with two footholds placed side by side on the wall and, when you feel comfortable, place a foot on a higher hold and moving more vertically. The no-hands exercise mentioned above also builds this skill. Toe-on: Fit your toe into pockets or incut holds. With your toe in the hold, stand in the dish or pocket. To prevent your toe from popping out, maintain pressure and use your toe muscles. Squeeze down and pull in as if your toes are fingers gripping the rim of the hold.

Foot Swap: Foot swaps, or switches, are

also called “fairy hops,” conjuring up the image of lifting up lightly. One foot is on a hold that the other needs. With a quick hop, remove the first foot and replace it with the other. Try the foot swap on large footholds at first, then move to smaller holds and slopers. The ability to switch feet on tiny holds can be the ticket to completing harder routes. Back Stepping: This is for steep climbing and long reaches. Start with both feet facing left, your left foot in front of the right. (Stand on the inside edge of your left foot and the outside edge of your right foot.) Rotate and press your right hip forward to bring your body in closer to the rock, then reach high with your right hand. To reach high with your left hand, reverse the foot and hand positions. Drop Knee: Aka “Egyptian,” this is a variation of the backstep. It uses the same position, but with your inside foot on a higher hold. Drop that back knee down, which pulls you closer to the wall, and allows you to reach higher. Toe Hook: Hook the toe under the edge of a protruding hold, arete or flake to counter any swinging or “barn door” action by your body on steep routes. A toe hook can also pull you into the wall, making the next move possible. The toe hook requires an undercling or horntype hold. Heel Hook: Similar to the toe hook except that you press the back of the heel over (not the toe under) a protruding hold. Great for balance and keeping the body in close to the wall. It also makes it easy to engage the leg muscles. The heel hook is a must-have for pulling roofs—and the best way to practice is on a roof. Toe Heel: One foot toes underneath the hold, while the other foot shares it by heel hooking the top, creating a pinch. This is most often used for overhanging routes. A low boulder problem in a cave is a great place to practice. (See illustration on page 98.) Bicycle: The same set-up as the toe heel, except the upper foot on the shared hold toes in, rather than heel hooks. Flagging: An advanced technique for balance. The weight shifts completely onto one foot, while the other foot extends sideways as a counterweight. The flagged foot usually crosses behind the standing leg. Often used (continued on page 98)



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BY TYLER STABLEFORD photo by Simon Carter • illustrations by Jeremy Collins

Toprope anchors don’t often fail. In fact, they should never fail. And when they do, pilot error is usually to blame— the homemade bolt hanger broke, the single tree pulled out, the slung block cut loose. In most cases, climbers simply fail to understand the loads that toproping can generate. Logic tells us that toprope forces equal at least our bodyweight and then some, but beyond that, it’s anybody’s guess— until now. For this issue of Climb Safe, Rock and Ice wanted to determine the loads that toprope falls place on anchors—with both a taut rope and a “lazy belay” scenario with several feet of slack in the system. The fall tests were conducted on a pulley-style toprope, i.e. one where the belayer stands on the ground and the rope runs up through the top anchor and back down to the climber. The lessons learned, however, can apply to any type of toproping or following situation.



often the most fun. If leading a testy route is the pinnacle of mind-and-body focus, toproping is surely the pinnacle of pure recreation; a chance to relax and enjoy climbing solely for the movement, without the nagging tension of an ever-present lead fall. Assuming your toprope anchor doesn’t fail. The day I witnessed an anchor pull, I was in Ouray, Colorado. Three years ago, midwinter. My partner had led a mixed route and clipped into a small tree overhanging the edge of the cliff. Black webbing noosed around the narrow trunk revealed that it had been used before for an anchor. My partner clipped it, and yelled “Take!” “Don’t you want to back that up?” I shouted. “It’s fine,” he said. “Lower me.” I had lowered him less than five feet when the tree pulled, sending him hurtling earthward. He was saved only because he hadn’t yet cleaned his top piece, a piton hammered in a horizontal crack.



a lazy belay affects the loads on an anchor, we staged two series of test falls and measured the maximum impact forces. In the first series, a 200pound climber fell near the anchors of a taut pulley-style toprope. In the second series, using the same pulley-style setup, the same climber fell with four feet of slack in the rope—a common scenario if the belayer’s attention has lapsed for a moment. For consistency, both tests were performed with 35.5 feet of rope between the climber and the belayer, and the belay was virtually static. (We used a belay device clipped directly to a belay bolt—certainly not a recommended use of the device nor a good belay style because it doesn’t allow for dynamic load absorption, but one that allowed us to remove most of the variables from the belay setup.)

THE RESULTS First Series: a standard pulley-style toprope fall with virtually no slack in the rope. The details: 200-pound climber, static belay, 35.5 feet of rope in the system. Forces were measured at the toprope anchor. Fall 1: 800 pounds load on the anchor. Fall 2: 750 pounds load. Fall 3: 700 pounds load.

CLIMB SAFE: TOP ROPING Second Series (the lazy belay): same details as the first series, but a pulley-style toprope fall with four feet of slack. Fall 1: 1,300 pounds load on the anchor. Fall 2: 1,550 pounds load. Fall 3: 1,500 pounds load.


in forces generated by only four feet of slack should serve as a wake-up call to all us lazy belayers. You know how it happens: As your partner works his way slowly up the warm-up route, you stare at your feet, kicking dust and thinking about what’s for lunch; or the lovely Francine starts up the neighboring route and you begin wondering what she’d look like in ... never mind. “TAKE!” breaks your daydream—a big U of slack hangs at your waist. The good news is that a little bit of slack won’t come close to testing the holding power of your gear if you’re using a safe anchor, which will have several thousand pounds of holding power to spare. But the fact that four feet of slack essentially doubles the toprope impact forces should reinforce the need to build totally bombproof anchors.

Suddenly, slinging that gnarled juniper tree, or clipping two TCUs and yelling “Off belay!” seems questionable. Would the anchor hold a harsh toprope fall? To put the forces in perspective, consider that for last issue’s Climb Safe series, we tested 9-foot-2-inch leader falls on 57 feet of rope with a 145-pound climber, and generated far lower loads (see issue No. 132). In fact, with a dynamic belay, loads on the bolt reached a maximum of only 750 pounds—about half of what our 200-pound climber generated with a four-foot fall on the toprope anchor using a static belay. The lesson: Even when toproping, build your anchor to be 100-percent failsafe.


to toprope. One is to belay from the top of the route or pitch, and belay your partner directly up; the other is to belay pulley-style from the ground, with the rope running in an inverted V up to the anchor and back down to the climber. This is the most popular style of toproping because both partners can base from the ground, and it’s easy to rig when one climber leads

and lowers. What you should know, however, is that this method dramatically increases the forces on the anchor. The pulley-style toprope loads the anchor with not just the climber’s weight, but also the counterweight of the belayer (that’s why you feel an upward tug when holding your partner’s fall, and sometimes get pulled into the air). In a frictionless world, a climber hanging on the rope would load the anchor with twice his weight. But because of friction, rope stretch and other real-world variables, the load on the anchor is lower— more often roughly 1.6 times the climber’s weight. Belaying directly from the top of the pitch, either with the belay device clipped to the anchor or to the belayer, eliminates the pulley effect. In this situation, the second loads the anchor with just his body weight—assuming that the rope is kept snug.

DESCENDING FROM A SKETCHY ANCHOR YOU SHOULD NEVER TOPROPE on a questionable anchor—always back it up with bomber gear—but sometimes, like it or not, we are forced to descend from

TOP ROPING: CLIMB SAFE sketchy anchors that can’t be backed up. In this situation, it may be safer to rappel rather than lower. Why? Because rappelling puts only your weight on the anchor (assuming you perform a smooth, controlled rappel without any bouncing or jerking), rather than the multiplied forces created by pulley-style lowering. If you can clip a solid piece of protection just below the anchor, however, it may be safer to lower since that piece (assuming you leave it in place) will back up the anchor.



that affects the loads on the anchor is the position of the gear in the anchor, and how each piece is equalized to the master anchor point. In fact, the angle at which each piece is connected can wildly change the actual load on each piece of gear—it’s easy to double the loads if the angles are high. And that leads us to the topic for next issue’s Climb Safe column: How to build the safest possible multiplepoint anchors. ◆


Storm Sense

BY JON TIERNEY illustration by Jeremy Collins sion of reference. If you are lost, one way to find your location on a map is to take a compass bearing parallel to the contour of the land at a certain elevation, then match that bearing to a contour line on the map at the same elevation. Another option is to travel along a contour at a certain elevation until you reach a recognizable point such as a sharp ridge or valley. Because an altimeter can be skewed by atmosphericpressure changes, recalibrate it each time you reach a landmark that has its elevation marked on the map. If You Are Lost, Scout Around While your partner stays put, walk straight in one direction for a short time and look around. Return to your original point and repeat this in another direction to see if you recognize anything. ◆ Jon Tierney is an AMGA-certified rock and alpine guide, and a paramedic who teaches courses in wilderness medicine. He is the owner of Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School and Alpenglow Adventure Sports in Maine: 888-2329559,

DON’T LOSE YOURSELF WHEN THE WEATHER GOES SOUR one of the scariest was the day a sudden winter storm blindsided my partner and me as we topped out above Huntington Ravine on Mount Washington. Only after many cold, terrifying hours of stumbling blindly through the whiteout did we reach the safety of treeline and the trail. We were lucky to survive that climb. Had we known how to navigate in low visibility, we could have saved precious time. Here are a few tips to help you avoid your own close call in the mountains: Carry the Tools The five essentials are a detailed topographic map, compass with a rectangular baseplate and rotating housing, altimeter, notecard and pencil. Do Your Homework Unless you want an adventure, don’t leave the trailhead without asking locals for beta on how to get up and down. Keep a photocopy of guidebook route descriptions in your pocket. Create a “Route Card” Use your map and a large notecard to record important route-finding information before you leave the trailhead. Draw the route on the map, and identify natural features that are easy to locate in the field, such as a summit, a glacier or a river. Pick out “handrails” like ridges that you can use as visual borders for ascending and descending. Next, break your route into logical segments that follow relatively straight lines, and mark them on the route card (e.g. segment 1 extends from the trailhead to the start of the glacier at 9,000 feet; segment 2 extends from the glacier to the rocky knob at 10,300 feet, etc.). Calculate the approximate distance and elevation change of each segment; take beginning and ending elevations, obtain a forward and backward compass bearing (see sidebar), and note any changes in slope angle on the topo lines. Estimate the time for each leg, as well as for the entire climb. Keep your route card handy in your pocket in case you get disoriented. Mark the Route If your return route is the same as your ascent, use bamboo wands (available at garden stores) topped with orange surveyor tape to mark corners, crevasses, or to keep a straight line. Remove the wands on your descent. Also, knock any rime ice off cairns so you can see them more clearly during the descent. Check Your Altitude When used with a map, an altimeter gives you a second dimenOF THE HUNDREDS OF DAYS I’VE SPENT IN THE MOUNTAINS,



COMPASS BEARINGS MADE EASY Here is a tried-and-true method for taking a compass bearing on a map. It will be much easier to understand if you follow along with a map and compass in your hand. Before you leave home, draw lines across the map every inch or two that are parallel to the line of declination (i.e. magnetic north, where your compass points, which varies from true north, to which the map is drawn). The declination for the area is usually shown on the bottom of the map, and varies throughout the world. These declination lines make it easy to quickly orient your map to true north. Let’s say you are on Maine’s Mount Katahdin, where there is a 19-degree westerly declination. Lay out your map and set your compass dial to 19 west of true north (i.e. turn the top housing left 19 degrees). Next, align a side edge of the compass with a vertical line on the map (usually the edge) and turn both the map and entire compass as one until the magnetic needle is aligned with the orienting arrow inside the compass housing. The map is now oriented properly; keep it from moving by placing anchor rocks on it. To take bearings for your intended route, place the side edge of the compass baseplate along your line of travel (be sure the front of the compass is pointing forward) and turn the top compass housing until the orienting lines in the housing are parallel with the magnetic needle. Now read the bearing, where the front arrow of the compass baseplate meets the numbers on the rotating housing—this is the compass direction you want to travel. To reverse your route on this segment (i.e. a backward bearing), rotate the compass housing 180 degrees and note the bearing.

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(SPORT CLIMBING, continued from page 42) wherein just one whack too many with a claw hammer can lead to accusations of chipping. However, if you accept sport climbing, and the fact that it must, perforce—at least in America—take place on choss (America generally lacks the quality, water-hardened limestone of Europe), you also accept cleaning. Yet, as Tony Yaniro, who put up Grand Illusion (5.13c) at Sugarloaf, California, in 1979—years ahead of its time—puts it, “I suppose, as soon as you pull the drill out, you’re chipping.” Yaniro later perfected the art of “rock sculpting,” or creative route manufacture, at the Dolphin crag in Idaho, Oregon’s Leslie Gulch and at Mount Charleston, Nevada. Long a driving force in American climbing, Yaniro, at Charleston, would drill pockets to link blank bits between the area’s discontinuous pod bands, but says he never went in for the wholesale “bowling ball” chipping of some of his peers. Today he concedes, “In retrospect, there were certain places where, mostly because of the precedent it set, I made bad decisions.” One of the most egregious examples of aggressive cleaning is, in hindsight, perhaps the funniest. That is the tale of Scott Franklin, Mark Twight and Randy Rackliff’s Scarface campaign on the Christian Brothers formation at Smith Rock. Midway up the 110-degree wall, a kitchen-table-sized hollow feature was wedged in a small corner. “The flake had to go—and it was a bonus to get rid of it, because it made the route harder,” Franklin says. At first, Franklin tackled the job alone. After concerted but fruitless labor with a hammer, he ducttaped a handful of M-80s inside the flake and quickly rapped off. Boom! Nothing. Twight and Rackliff showed up the next day, bleary eyed from an 18-hour drive from the Canadian Rockies, where they’d climbed the first ascent of Reality Bath (VI WI 6+), among other routes. Franklin enlisted their help. Twight jugged the route armed with a straight-shaft Simond Chacal ice axe, and bashed away at the stubborn flake. He quickly snapped the axe, though the flake didn’t budge. “Though I hate chipping or comfortizing,” says Twight, “I liked the reason behind removing the flake.” The trio then borrowed a sledgehammer from a trail crew, and finally cut loose the offending choss. Luckily, a perfect threefinger pocket emerged underneath, as did a distinct white scar that gave the route its name.



While a few super-overhanging sport routes had gone up in America, like Todd Skinner’s visionary When Legends Die (5.13a/b) at Hueco Tanks, Texas, in 1987, and Griffith’s Desdichado, it was a scattering of unsightly crags south of Salt Lake City that popularized the now commonplace style of modern, ultra-steep sport climbing. Quickly ticking off American Fork Canyon’s (AF’s) cleaner, aesthetic (but vertical) lines in 1989 and 1990, the locals Boone Speed, Jeff Pedersen and Bill Boyle began, by default, to focus on a sooty roadside pit, the Hell Cave—once a hoedown locale for Mormon locals—and its outlying walls. Nearly dead horizontal, and punctuated by pod systems and lines of flat slopers and tiny crimps, the Hell Cave was the steepest piece of stone yet discovered in America. It was so overhanging and close to the ground, in fact, that Speed and Pedersen bolted mostly via stepladder. “Hell was my learning curve,” says Speed of the newfangled drop-knee, heel-hooking and outside-edge techniques he learned and mastered during his 15-day campaign, in 1989, to redpoint this seminal route, a bouldery, 45-foot 5.13a/b. But Hell, the route and the crag, also provided lessons in route cleaning. Fractured rock was removed with hammers, and some crucial remnants cemented in place with sika. This practice was later critical to areas like Rifle, Colorado, Boulder’s Industrial Wall and the post-Hell crags in AF. After a drilled-out jug and small enhanced dish appeared on the Hell Cave’s Burning (5.13b), locals declared a moratorium on chipping; thenceforth, routes would only be cleaned. Ensuing testpieces such as Dead Souls (5.13d/14a), bolted by Speed but climbed by Franklin, or Speed’s 1997 crimpfest Ice Cream (5.14c), contained, at most, a modest amount of glue behind existing holds. Perhaps the sole exception was “Patsy’s” creation Inferno (5.13b), a series of gluedon undercling rocks (one rumored to be a flowerpot shard) up a steep, 45-foot wall near the cave. After spending the entire summer of 1991 obsessively working, then sending, the route, Patsy, bereft over a woman, entered a different hell, from then on either biking frenetically around Salt Lake City or holing up in his basement apartment to relax to Ministry’s nihilistic anthem “Stigmata” recorded nine times back to back. Like many sport climbers of the day, he liked his caves and his music dark.

Some routes are held as sacrosanct because of their stratospheric grades. One such climb is the 135-foot Just Do It, established by J.B. Tribout in 1992 and touted as America’s first 5.14c. An intimidating line up the steep, bi-colored east face of Monkey Face, at Smith Rock, Just Do It was originally bolted by Watts. Emblematic of the era, Just Do It is one of many doctored routes that, somewhat disingenuously, were touted by the climbing media as cutting edge, a prime example of the then dominant “don’t ask, don’t tell” mentality. Franklin dogged through the line right after Watts cleaned it, getting shut down at a “heinous f——ing mono move” that he called harder than the crux of Wolfgang Gullich’s Wall Street (5.14b) in the Frankenjura, Germany. “I could make a super-long pull off this mono,” says Franklin, “and I was still miles from the next hold. But I knew it would go.” Says Watts, “The sequence would have pulled four or five pockets with little feet. It probably would have been 5.14d or 5.15a. I am 100 percent certain that it was possible.” J.B. Tribout showed up to work the line; somewhere in the process, the mono became a slammer two-finger pocket (later sika-ed back to its original state by Franklin), while a few footholds at the crux were “reinforced.” Incensed, the outspoken Franklin approached Tribout at the Outdoor Retailer trade show and said, “What the f—— are you doing? If you want to come to my house and f—— things up, then go home!” Meanwhile, another Frenchman, Didier Raboutou, now a climbing coach in Boulder, had discovered that by grabbing the reinforced footholds—effectively, edges built from sika—he could skip the pocket move entirely. Tribout used this sequence on his redpoint; it has since become the accepted M.O., with the original sequence essentially obliterated. Today, even the reserved Chris Sharma, widely considered the world’s best free climber, calls chipping a “faux pas.” Sounding off on Just Do It, he says, “It’s a bummer ... all those holds made out of sika. There’s plenty of rock around—why not just climb the ones that have holds already?” Watts sees Just Do It differently—as a necessary evil—arguing that the line was a huge stepping-stone because of its grade, raising American standards. “It made everyone work harder,” says Watts. “Just Do It made a difference—no doubt about it.” Ironically, in 1999, David Hume of Kentucky climbed the route on

his fourth try, which might just belie its original rating.

● ● ● WOMEN THAT ROCK While sport climbing has traditionally been a sausagefest (a trend that, thank God, is changing), bright stars like Lynn Hill, Robyn Erbesfield, Katie Brown, Mia Axon, Stephanie Forte and Bobbi Bensman often kept pace with or outshone the men. Hill, 43, the first woman in the world to climb 5.14 and climbing since the 1970s, lives in Boulder with her partner, Brad Lynch, and son, Owen. She dominated world-class competition climbing in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and continues her love affair with sport climbing. However, Hill is probably best known for freeing the Nose (sandbag 5.13+) of El Capitan. Hill redpointed this trad grade VI in 1993, then freed it in a 23-hour push in 1994. Her sport-climbing background was critical. “I knew I had to have this huge reserve of fitness,” says Hill, who, in preparation for her one-day ascent, would pump laps on 5.13 at Ceüse, or climb on-sight at other French crags and train at night. “I needed to feel like I still had power after doing 20 pitches.” Her plan was sound, and she plugged through the 5.13+ finger crack on the Great Roof (pitch 21) and the crux Changing Corners pitch (pitch 29) on September 20, 1994. Hill was also a mentor of sorts to Robyn Erbesfield, who won the World Cup four years running, from 1992 through 1995, and has also climbed 5.14a. Erbesfield is now a climbing coach in Boulder, where she lives with her husband, Didier Raboutou, and has brought along such climbers as Adam Stack, 20—who has redpointed Colorado’s Kryptonite (5.14d)— Emily Harrington and Angela Payne. “There was a lot of pettiness in that era,” says Hill of the late 1980s/early 1990s competition scene, “but Robyn and I were not on that level.” Hill, “on her way out,” shared her training and mental secrets with Erbesfield, who, with confidence and what Hill calls a super-aggressive attitude, spring-boarded to the top. Erbesfield, Hill and Bensman climb together to this day.

● ● ● DA-DA-DA Dadaism: A European artistic and literary movement that flouted conventional aesthetic and cultural values by producing works marked by nonsense, travesty

and incongruity. Rifle, love it or hate it, was a boon to American sport climbing, a once quiet mountain canyon lined with 2.5 miles of overhanging limestone, some of it bullet, much of it crumbling dross. After word leaked of the area’s potential, in 1991, Boulder and Salt Lake climbers flocked there, establishing, in two years, a flurry of über-steep routes from 5.11 to 5.14a. (The canyon now has around 200 routes up to 5.14b.) As the novelty wore off, the original cadre of Rifle climbers, a crew of illnatured hipsters from Boulder and Denver, burned out on the whole notion of pushing themselves. They instead applied their over-developed back and bicep muscles to lesser ends: sport climbing as Dadaism, or anti-sport climbing. One exception was the ever positive Kurt Smith, who put up the then 5.14a Slice of Life, in 1992, and in one day aid-solo bolted, then sent, the canyon’s finest 5.12c, Movement of Fear. Nevertheless, most locals’ attitudes remained as lousy as their footwork. “It was a good-size watermelon,” recalls Charley Bentley, a New Hampshire transplant known for his one-pinky pull-ups and unusual scrotal-stretching skills, of his 1994 naked ascent of the 5.12d classic Vitamin H—with a watermelon hanging from his harness. “[The watermelon] wasn’t like one of those frickin’ giant ones or anything, but it would wrecking-ball on each move and hit me in the ass,” says Bentley. Also, Steve Landon of Denver climbed the Arsenal “lap route” Pump-arama (5.12d) in a tutu and high heels. Meanwhile, other locals took a more vicious tack: One wag sent Vision Thing (5.13b) and Never Believe (5.12d) in running shoes in full view of climbers trying to redpoint the routes. Things only went downhill from there. When over-enthusiastic road trippers began swarming the canyon, most of the locals moved on. “These [road trippers] were just a bunch of f——ing butt-nuts,” says Bentley. “For me, the first drum circle conducted by traveling climbers at Rifle heralded the end.”

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LEEPER HANGERS NOW IN PLACE CAN BE DANGEROUS Stress-corrosion cracking—The problem: Over time (decades or less) a high-strength alloy steel bolt hanger can be weakened seriously by a crack that propagates slowly in the metal—eventually leaving a hanger that can be broken in a mild fall, or even by body weight. And such a stress-corrosion crack may be barely visible to the eye or hidden on the back side of the hanger. Perhaps only one in a hundred of my hangers will have been weakened. But for a hanger in place, there is unfortunately no way to predict if and when such a crack may begin or how fast it will progress from a tiny to a major crack. It may take decades, or only years, depending on factors that are unknowable. After several broken or visibly cracked hangers had been reported or returned to me, I obtained and tested 640 hangers that were apparently OK, from various rebolting projects. About 99% held around 3000 lbs. or more, but seven failed at substantially lower loads. This is an unacceptable risk. I want to see the potentially dangerous hangers removed—including the 99 percent that are not cracked, since there is no way to tell which they are. Or I want to see them smashed into uselessness as a poor second choice. To say that climbers should just not trust those old bolt placements that use my hangers is an even worse choice. I have tried repeatedly to warn the climbing community, but climbers still often tell me they hadn’t heard of any special danger. The risk is there, and I need your help in passing the word and in getting those old hangers off the rock. Unfortunately, a cracked hanger may look sound; while many hangers that are seriously rusted or bent are almost as strong as new. Appearance can’t warn us, and experience with other hangers of mine is not valid. If we see a long fall held, it’s too easy to say, “Hell, these old Leepers are fine!” Indeed, most are fine; but some are dangerous. Getting the word out: If anyone has already been killed or seriously injured when one of my hangers broke, I would like to know about it, with details—so I can use the reality and sadness of it to help get the word out effectively. In the future, if someone is killed or seriously injured, I would like to know about it right away, so I can participate in the analysis of the incident, if that’s feasible. Please call me immediately at 303-442-3773. I don’t want to see such accidents happen if they can possibly be avoided. At present, I know of only one fatal broken-hanger accident, which is the triple-fatality rappelling accident on El Cap in 1978. The hangers were not mine, but the failure was of the stress-corrosion cracking type. A weakened hanger broke under the multiple body weight, plus gear. Unfortunately, the failure of just one of the two hangers dropped the party, because of how the rappel stance was rigged. It is true that various hangers made by others, in ways that are similar ot the methods and materials I used, have developed similar low-force stress-corrosion cracking after various life spans, and have in some cases cracked sooner than mine or with more certainty. These include some unlabeled hangers that look very much like mine but were apparently made by individual climbers. Certainly every hanger maker has expected or hoped that his practices would avoid any such problems. But not talking about these cracked-hanger failures won’t make them go away. There has been too much silence about all this. I hope we can spread the word. With your help, please, since full page ads are not really in my budget. Other factors: Catching heavy or frequent falls does not cause such a crack to start or to progress. At the end, though, when the hanger finally breaks in two, that can happen in a fall. A loosely gripped “spinner” does not indicate a larger risk of failure (though it makes it inconvenient to clip in). On the contrary, steady, long-term stress is part of the process that can lead to crack propagation; and that stress can arise from the hanger being held too tightly against the rock so that the metal is slightly “dished.” A non-spinner may actually prove more dangerous. And tightening a spinner may be counter-productive. Corrosion and weather are factors in this cracking process, though cracked hangers have been returned even from the arid Southwest. But trying to predict which hangers one encounters will not be weakened at any given time in any given climbing area is a long-odds crap shoot—and a deadly one. Use them anyway? Back them up! Don’t count on a single hanger, without arranging a backup of some kind that will catch you if it breaks. Obviously situations arise where we cannot instantly replace a hanger or a row of hangers, when they’re encountered on a climb. Although 99 out of a hundred may be safe, most of us wouldn’t want to take a one-in-a-hundred risk—or at least not too often. It may be that many of the chock placements we use have such risks, which we accept as better than having nothing; but we usually back them up somehow. In a similar way, no kind of bolt anchor warrants trusting it totally by itself.

95,000 LEEPER HANGERS were made between 1962 and 1984.

MAYBE 20,000 to 40,000 are now still in place and look OK.

But ROUGHLY 200 to 400 HAVE CRACKS in the steel that seriously weaken the hanger— mostly too small to be seen by a climber who clips in.

Each year SOME WILL FALL APART, while others begin the slow cracking process.

A one-in-a-hundred hanger risk creates a bolt placement that is too risky to be used alone. Fortunately, a one-in-a-hundred anchor backed up by another one-in-a-hundred anchor becomes a one-in-ten-thousand anchor, and three of them makes a one-in-a-million anchor.

AT LEAST 100 are WEAK ENOUGH, right now, to break

This kind of “safety multiplication” is at least as important as the load equalization people often talk about.

even in a short fall .

One bolt will generally be strong enough, except in some extreme fall. Instead, the real risk is that a single anchor, by itself, may hold almost nothing, if something has gone wrong with that bolt or bolt placement, or its hanger. It is important to realize that most of these cracked hangers may eventually reach a stage where body weight alone can break them. But even if you guard yourself by using backups, the next climber may not. Too many of us trust bolts too much. I certainly have done so. Often. Please take that hanger off the rock for the sake of us who are uninformed or unwise. Thank you.

Ed Leeper, 6112 Fourmile Canyon, Boulder, CO


Brian Alberstatt racing the pump clock on one of the country's finest pure-endurance routes: The Harvest (5.12d), Motherlode, Red River Gorge, Kentucky.



Before you ramp up for a vitriolic "What's with this elitist, regionally biased sportclimbing article?" letter-writing campaign, we'd like to credit all the prolific new routers across America. Sport climbing has literally exploded here over the last decade, with new routes going up almost daily, at all grades. Going crag by crag, you could unearth enough history to write a thousand-page book. One hotbed of activity we weren't able to include was the Southeast, where driven climbers like Doug Reed, Porter Jarrard, David Hume, James Litz and countless others have put up some of the country's steepest, finest and hardest sandstone routes at such areas as the Red River Gorge, New River Gorge, Little River Canyon and the Obed. But this is just one zone out of many. Obviously, we couldn’t include them all.

a badly listing ship. “Each generation evolves ... tries to find a purer, higher standard of ethics and the right way to do things,” says Chris Sharma, 23. “Climbing is still a young sport—it’s pretty natural that people made mistakes like that.” Sharma leads by example with his unrepeated, unadulterated Realization (5.15a) at Ceüse. Caldwell, 25, uses stronger language: “Our generation was the first to see the crags running out of room [for new routes] ... or just these atrocious things—bowlingball holds, glue, whatever. If people chip and glue the routes all up, there won’t be anything left.” Even members of the old school have grokked the finite nature of rock. Says Kauk, who has sustained his love of climbing via an honest love for nature, “We have entered a new time. There’s so much potential for climbers to wake up to the privilege of climbing. There are so many more of us, that another level of consciousness has to be maintained to preserve the resource.”

Caldwell backs his words up with the glue-free lines Kryptonite (5.14d) and Flex Luthor (5.15a, unrepeated) at Colorado’s Fortress of Solitude, and is currently working a futuristic, discontinuous crack line right of Flex. Caldwell has a specialist’s knack for “feature” climbing: He’ll painstakingly figure out how to use unwieldy, vertically oriented limestone lips/corners and tufa drips. As a counterpoint, Mount Potosi’s central cave, near Las Vegas, is known for pockets drilled into blocky roofs and tufas, and is “similar in style to the Fortress,” Caldwell says. “But it’s like those guys didn’t see holds there ... I’ve been once and never went back.” Chris Sharma’s drive isn’t as readily apparent as Caldwell’s—while passionate about climbing, he still sports an air of almost Zen-like detachment. Nonetheless, since early on, Sharma’s lack of ego has helped him become one of the world’s best free climbers. Boone Speed marks Sharma’s 1997 first-ascent blitzkrieg of The Big Smile (5.14b), a beautiful, all-natural 70-foot line up a black water streak at the limestone Narrows, west of Salt Lake City, as a true turning point. After picking Caldwell and Sharma up at the airport and driving straight to the crag, Speed belayed while Sharma spent the morning “flailing” on the route, seemingly miles from a send. “Then suddenly, in the afternoon, he gives it a good burn, falling off low,” says Speed. Taking five minutes to chill without removing his rock shoes, Sharma promptly fired off the first ascent—in a pair of corduroy pants with his wallet and keys in the pockets, his shoes slightly muddy, skipping clips (at one point risking a 30-foot fall from 40 feet up), and giving it his all. This was a far cry from the days of yore, when typical 5.14 climbers would have rested the requisite 45 minutes, cooled their core temperatures with a spritzer bottle, and obsessively cleaned their shoes with rubbing alcohol. Sharma was so strong and relaxed that such rituals didn’t matter. So, where do we go from here? When asked about the dated sentiment that 5.14 would always be the upper limit, Caldwell says, simply, “I don’t think people will ever say again that the hardest route has yet been done.” And, as Sonnie Trotter puts it, “The future of sport climbing is infinite.” Matt Samet, sport climbing for 16 years, once wore Lycra tights. He is a Rock and Ice Senior Editor.

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(Personal Jesus, continued from page 47) It was the best lead of my life, but, even then, I knew that it did not matter. It was only one pitch, and more awaited us. Two mixed simul-climbing pitches gained the north ridge. Jim led through rock, delicate mixed traverses and steep ice as darkness fell. We still swung leads—for a guy with, unbeknownst to us, fluid building in his lungs, Jim climbed brilliantly. Taking the lead, I climbed through vertical rock with death-blocks the size of televisions, all perched directly above the runnel where Jim half-hid behind a small rock. Higher, where it steepened, I punched a hole in a small cornice—the top had to be near—threaded my cordelette through it for “protection,” then battled upward. I sat on my pack, belaying from a seat chopped into a 70degree fluting, and pulled on my parka, turned off the headlamp, and rested. The physical movement of the hard climbing, and of swiftly covering 3,000 vertical, technical feet, had felt good. But as I gazed at the stars, just listening to the rhythmic crunch of Jim’s tools and crampons, I knew that there was something intensely deeper; that if climbing’s like all the others—just a “sport”—then alpinism has never been about the climbing. Taking in slack with my hip belay, I’d momentarily surrender to my heavy eyelids and my head would nod forward ... but no. We’d been moving almost continually for 20 hours, with only a few stops to re-rack. The world became so simple—me, my heartbeat, Jim, the mountain and wind and sky. I don’t know if I, too, was succumbing to the altitude, or if it was just fatigue, but I’d drifted into that twilight zone of voices and abstract thoughts. For the past couple of hours, whenever I swung my picks into the ice rather than using the rock, muscular, miniature Peruvian Jesuses in tight T-shirts would materialize to say: “See, our ice really is worth climbing.” “Yes, indeed it is good,” I’d silently reply, and keep moving.

VII. Down the Path Jim led above, reaching the foot of a long, narrow cornice that dropped into an abyss on either side. Moving off a belay where the only anchor was the rope running over a fluting between us, I traversed right, looking for a way around. I moved back left, and we traded sides. Higher, after surmounting the cornice, I straddled another one, scooting along its narrow crest Happy Cowboys style until the ridge connected to a broader slope. My legs punched through the snow, exposing a black hole—an immense cornice? I sidled along, crawling to disperse my weight until, finally, one of the voices announced that I’d been crawling on nearly flat, solid snow. I stood up and ran out the rope. Sixty meters above Jim and where the slopes had tapered off—I knew we had to be close—I shouted down, asking if he was ready to come up to the summit. He didn’t think he could make it. “Are you sure?” I asked. “No.” I dug a seat in the snow and rocked in an upright fetal position, tensing my muscles to ward off the biting wind. I lost all concept of time as Jim climbed up to me and collapsed onto the slope. “You alright?” “Yeah,” he grumbled, sagging forward against the snow. He rose suddenly, in classic Jim Earl fashion, and said he was OK. We’d reached easy snow, a bunny hill at the ski area so long as you didn’t drop off the edge, the only non-technical terrain on the route. On the summit, after 22 hours of climbing, though we said nothing then, we both thought we were surrounded by people, peak baggers perhaps, baffled at our presence but congratulating us

nonetheless for coming up the steep way. “Maybe it was the wishful thinking of weak minds,” Jim would later mutter. We were alone, aside from the stars, the wind and our hallucinations, but there would be no celebratory battle cry this time, no “Yeeeeee-haaawwww, Jesus Saves!” There was nothing. It was just past midnight and, in fragments, we mumbled about the best descent. We were beyond indifference, just skeletons staggering on primitive instinct.

VIII. The 13th Chamber We stooped atop a summit-ridge cornice overhanging the northwest face and buried a picket sideways in sugar snow, the anchor for our first rappel. I shone my headlamp down, wistfully seeking the security of the glacier so far below, but saw only terrifying yet spectacular flutings of snow, ice and rock. Still belayed, I bounce-tested our anchor, sinking downward a foot until the picket caught. I untied and rigged the ropes for rappel. Jim downclimbed to me through the cornice and 80-degree snow, taking in slack through his belay plate. He was only 10 feet above me—but 3,000 feet above the glacier and 5,000 miles from home—when he fell. I tried to catch him, but he smashed into me and blasted down the fluting into the darkness. We hadn’t installed a backup to his brake hand, and at that exhausted moment I didn’t think about whether we should have done things differently. It just was, and unlike the idyllic musings of what it all means or is or could be that become long walks in grassy meadows, when a cold east wind blew at 19,000 feet and our headlamps cast shadows of gargoyles and steeples into nothingness, I had no energy for introspection. I just watched, hoping Jim would stop falling. Jim stopped as abruptly as he fell—a 20footer onto that picket buried in the cornice. It sunk deeper, and held. Only now— in brave, solitary moments—do I let myself picture Jim disappearing down the rope or feel the sudden, violent jerk at my waist as the anchor fails and we both plummet. Jim lay upright but curled over sideways against the ice, groaning. Then, he pulled himself from purgatory, stopped cursing and gasping, and continued down. “Off!” Jim finally yelled. I arrived to find him sagged onto a V-thread, barely conscious from exhaustion, the trauma of his fall and HAPE. Though he claimed to be OK, I took over the descent. As we lost elevation down steep rock and

ice, nearly 200 feet per rap, 22 times, each from a single piece—rappelling even the easy slopes at the base—Jim deteriorated despite the thickening air. He slumped onto each anchor while I rappelled first, scoping and searching for a decent anchor, fighting to stay lucid, fighting ... stay awake it’s only time you can’t fight time deal with it shake your head slap yourself think ... think ... think double-check stay alert not one mistake not one pull red pull blue rap again Johnny Cash still singing voices talking shut up stop it don’t fade find gear find gear ... #1 nut, bomber? Yes, bomber, bounce it, solid, “Off!” Sunrise brought illusory comfort but showed what still remained and what loomed overhead: a mass of snow and ice the size of a parking garage. I closed my eyes, shook my head, opened them again. “Ka-boooom!!!!” From somewhere out right, ungodly tons of snow exploded, scouring the face below—where we’d be in two rappels. One last rap and we reached the glacial moraine and, finally, safety, but Jim could stagger no more than a few minutes without stopping to rest. He wasn’t just exhausted—when he sat on a boulder then collapsed onto his back, he jerked upright in terror, gasping. Fluid had entered his lungs; although Jim had survived Ulta, pulmonary edema could still kill him. One mile and four hours later, we reached our bivy. Jim propped himself upright—so he could breathe—in his sleeping bag and faded off. That was all he wanted: sleep, precious sleep, for the first time in 40 hours. I took a deep breath. Blinking my eyes jerked me between darkness and light. Time stopped for a moment. In a flashback blur, I saw rocks and ice whistling down the face, heard picks scratching crisp granite and crampons squeaking on névé, felt biting cold under a midnight sky. I tumbled to the present, looked at Jim, and knew it wasn’t over. “Let’s go Jim ... c’mon. I’ll carry the heavy stuff,” I said between my coughing fits. “You need to get farther down.” Jim gazed up at me, haggard. Suddenly, a loud wind blew from the direction of Nevado Ulta, and Jim rose like Lazarus. Neither of us spoke. Jim said nothing, not even a Jesus Saves. I knew that he didn’t need to. Kelly Cordes is assistant editor for the American Alpine Journal and, despite his insistence that he despises alpine climbing, can’t stay away.

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SWITCH HITTING Heel and heel-toe hooks help take the load off your arms on ultra-steep terrain, but few of us ever use the inside, or reverse, heel hook. I “discovered” this move on a horrible crystalfest near Albuquerque. While a traditional heel-toe (heel on a ledge, toe cammed against the underside of a hold above) with my left foot on a sloping shelf allowed some progress, the heel-toe would always slip out at the crux, depositing me assward in the dirt. However, when I wanged in an inside right heel hook—my right hip hard against the wall and the inside of my right shoe facing away from the rock—on the same shelf, the move went down. By alternating between traditional and inside heel hooks on traverses, you can often bring your feet along without their cutting loose. Also, this move works well if you flag the non-heel-hooked leg. —Matt Samet



(continued from page 83) to cross through to handholds in the opposite direction of the flagged foot. Figure Four: An alternative to the dyno. It is used rarely but can be bomber when good handholds are few and far between. Wrap the outside leg over the arm that is gripping a hold. Lock off the supporting arm, and winch all your body weight onto it. Reach up for the next hold. Rebecca Stokes is from Bozeman, Montana, and has been climbing for eight years. She is a radio DJ on a classic rock station.

Figure Four





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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;

Santa Cruz. PACIFIC EDGE. Indoor climbing at its finest! 50 feet tall, Huge Lead Cave, Extensive Bouldering, Pro-Shop. 104 Bronson St., Santa Cruz, CA 95062; 831-454-9254; w w w. p a c i f i c e d g e c l i m b i n g g y m . c o m

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; Monterey Peninsula. SANCTUARY ROCK GYM. 1855A East Ave., Sand City, CA 93955; 831-899-2595; Orange County. SOLIDROCK GYM. (Lake Forest) 10,000 sq. ft. climbable terrain. Top roping, bouldering, lead climbing. 26784 Vista Terrace; 949-588-6200;

Victorville. THE BULLET HOLE TRAINING CENTER. The high desert's only indoor climbing gym! 15315 Cholame Road Unit D Victorville, CA 92392; 760-245-3 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 91 8 ; 719 - 2 6 0 - 1 0 5 0 ;

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; 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 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;

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

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;

Fort Collins. THE GYM OF THE ROCKIES. Over 6000 sq. ft. of awesome terrain. New cave. 1800 Heath Pkwy.; 970-221-5000

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; 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;

Fort Collins. INNER STRENGTH ROCK GYM. 5800 square feet. 3713 South Mason, Fort Collins, CO; 970-282-8118;

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;





Chicago. VERTICAL ENDEAVORS. 18,000ft 2 of climbing on 40 ft. walls. 19 auto belays. Programs and outdoor guiding for all ages. 630-836-0122 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. Synthetic ice climbing 65' . 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 Homewood. CLIMB ON. 18120 Harwood Ave, Homewood, IL 60430; 708-798-9994; Evanston. EVANSTON ATHLETIC CLUB. Two Entre Prises walls up to 46' high with all the goods: slab, crack, roof, sustained overhang and bouldering cave. Expert instruction beginner to lead. Located on the El line. 847-866-6190;

Wallingford. PRIME CLIMB. Connecticut's FIRST and BEST climbing gym. 203-265-7880;

FLORIDA 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. 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;

GEORGIA Atlanta. WALL CRAWLER ROCK CLUB. Atlanta's neighborhood climbing gym. Where the climbers hang out! 404-371-8997 Atlanta. ATLANTA ROCKS! INTOWN/PERIMETER GYMS. The largest gyms in the Southeast, offer challenging climbing on 12,000/6,000 square feet of seamless, textured climbing surface, featuring 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;

IDAHO Pocatello. IDAHO STATE UNIVERSIT Y R E E D GY M C L I M B I N G WA L L 208-282-3825; 35' top ropes, 25' overhang, leads, and bouldering

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);



INDIANA 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. Evansville. VERTICAL EXCAPE.


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

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);



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,

East Hanover. DIAMOND ROCK. 3,000 square feet, seamless texture, 37 foot peak; 973-560-0413.

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. Over 38,000 total sq. ft. of climbing terrain. Over 50 ft. top ropes and 85 ft. lead routes. Nationally recognized Junior Climbing Team, Adventure Race certification & setup, Commercial Rigging and Consulting, Corporate Team Building, and por table climbing walls. Ann Arbor (734) 827-2680; Pontiac (248) 334-3904;

Edison. WA L L S T R E E T R O C K GY M . 5,000 s q u a re fe e t . 216 T i n g l e y L n . 9 0 8 - 412 -12 5 5 ; w w w. Wa l l S t R o c k G y m . c o m 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.

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., Eckerd’s Plaza, New Paltz, NY; 845-255-7625. Rochester. ROCKVENTURES. Largest in North Americaover 18,000 square feet of climbing! 585-442-5462;

ROCK GYMS 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. THE ELEVATOR INDOOR 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 Portland. PORTLAND ROCK GYM. 21 NE 12 t h Po r t l a n d , OR 97232; 503-232-8310; 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.


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;

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;

Oaks. PHILADELPHIA ROCK GYM. 422 Business Center, PO Box 511, Oaks, PA 19456; 610-666-ROPE;

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;

Philadelphia. GO VERTICAL. Philadelphia's only climbing gym. Open 7 days a week at 10am every day. Call 215-928-1800;

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

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 Sterling. SPORTROCK




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;



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

NORTHERN MOUNTAIN SUPPLY 800-878-3583 707-445-1711 F 707-445-0871 125 W. 5th St. Eureka, CA 95501 800-638-6464 F 800-543-5522 38 locations worldwide

ARIZONA ARIZONA HIKING SHACK 11649 N Cave Creek Rd Phoenix, AZ 85020 602-944-7723 F 602-861-0221 1-800-964-1673 BABBITT'S BACKCOUNTRY OUTFITTERS 12 E. Aspen Ave. Flagstaff, AZ 86001 928-774-4775 F 928-774-4561 GRANITE MOUNTAIN OUTFITTERS 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

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

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

MOUNTAIN SPORTS 800-558-6770 303-442-8355 F 303-443-0670 2835 Pearl Street (near Whole Foods) Boulder, CO 80301 800-5.10-2-5.14 831-620-0911 F 831-620-0977 PO Box 222295 Carmel, CA 9392

ALABAMA ALABAMA OUTDOORS 3054 Independence Dr. Birmingham, AL 35209 205-870.1919 F 205-870-5505 800-870-0011 800-485-1439 541-947-7855 F 541-947-7855 360 South H Street Lakeview, OR 97630

320 W. Gurley St. Prescott, AZ 86301 928-776-4949

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

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

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

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 25-B Dodie St. San Rafael, CA 94901 415-485-6931 GRANITE ARCH GEAR CLOSET



125 W. 5th St. Eureka, CA 95501 707-445-1711 F 707-445-0781 800-878-3583

1300 Washington Ave. Golden, CO 80401 303-271-9382 F 303-271-3980 877-BENT GATE


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

929 E. California Blvd. Pasadena, CA 91106 626-568-8828 F 626-568-9693 36 W. Santa Clara Ventura, CA 93001 805-648-3803 F 805-653-2581 SACRAMENTO PIPEWORKS 116 N. 16th St. Sacramento, CA 95814 916-341-0100 SUNRISE MOUNTAIN SPORTS 2455 Railroad Ave. Livermore, CA 94550 925-447-8330 and 15-B Crescent Dr. Pleasant Hill, CA 94523 925-686-9740

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

800-499-8696 F 520-795-7350 5045 E. Speedway Tucson, AZ 85712




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

ALASKA MOUNTAINEERING & HIKING 2633 Spenard Rd. Anchorage, AK 99503 907-272-1811 F 907-274-6362 TALKEETNA OUTDOOR CENTER INC. PO Box 748 1 Front St. Talkeetna, AK 99676 907-733-4444 F 907-733-2230 800-349-0064 Free Shipping!

MOUNTAIN OUTFITTERS 112 S Ridge St Breckenridge, CO 80424 970-453-2201 NEPTUNE MOUNTAINEERING 633 S. Broadway, Unit A Boulder, CO 80305 303-499-8866

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

WILSON'S EASTSIDE SPORTS 224 N. Main St. Bishop, CA 93514 760-873-7520




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

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


996 A North Coast Hwy. 101 Leucadia, CA 92024 760-634-4855 THE NORTH FACE John Hancock Center 875 N. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60611 312-337-7200

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


835 Main Ave # 112 Durango CO 81301-5436 970-247-8728 F 970-259-0697 800-607-0364 SUMMIT CANYON MOUNTAINEERING 307 8th St. Glenwood Springs, CO 81601 970-945-6994 800-360-6994 THE NORTH FACE 629-K S. Broadway Boulder, CO 80303 303-499-1731 WILDERNESS EXCHANGE UNLIMITED 1550 Platte St, Suite E Denver, CO 80202 303-964-0708



KENTUCKY J&H LANMARK 189 Moore Dr. Lexington, KY 40503 859-278-0730 800-677-9300 PHILLIP GALLâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S OUTDOOR & SKI 1555 E New Circle Rd Lexington, KY 40509 859-266-0469 F 859-269-5190




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

311 Marginal Way Portland, ME 04101 207-879-1410 F 207-761-4654


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




WILDERNESS EXCHANGE 1407 San Pablo Ave. Berkeley, CA 94702 888-326-7021 F 510-528-1789

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



722 Main Ouray, CO 81427 970-325-4284

405 W. Grand Ave. Escondido, CA 92025 760-747-8223


2295 Harrison St. San Francisco, CA 94110 415-550-0515



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


516 N. Main St. Hailey, ID 83333 208-788-7625

McHenry Village 1700 McHenry Ave., #D50 Modesto, CA 95350 209-523-5681 F 209-523-0624 800-435-0150

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



11335 Folsom Blvd. Bldg., G Rancho Cordova, CA 95742 916-638-4605 F 916-638-4706

3189 Main St. (Next to Wave Rave) Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546 760-934-4191



3906 Roswell Rd Atlanta GA 30342 404-814-0999

7125-C Columbia Gateway Dr. Columbia, MD 21093 410-560-5665 F 410-560-2260 800-CLIMB-UP EARTH TREKS 1930 Greenspring Dr. Timonium, MD 21093 410-560-5665 F 410-560-2260 800-CLIMB-UP


Authorized Dealer




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

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

JESSE BROWN’S OUTDOORS 4732 Sharon Rd Ste 2M Charlotte NC 28210 704-556-0020 F 704-556-9447

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



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

8929 JM Keynes Dr Ste 300-400 Charlotte NC 28262 704-510-0089 F 704-510-5333





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

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

308 W Franklin St Chapel Hill, NC 27516 919-929-7626

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





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

810 Route 17 N. Paramus, NJ 07652 201-445-5000 800-CAMPMOR BOSTON ROCK GEAR @ BOSTON ROCK GYM 78 G Olympia Ave. Woburn, MA 01801 781-935-5641

LEE'S SPORTS 311 W. Kilgore St. Kalamazoo, MI 49002 269-381-7700 F 269-381-5530

OHIO SOUTH FACE GUIDES, LTD. 446-B Patterson Rd. Dayton, OH 45419 937-626-6283 F 937-396-0573



1039 Route 46 W. Ledgewood, NJ 07852 973-584-7799

30 East State Street Athens, Ohio 45701 740-594-5198 F 740-594-8253

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






HIGHER GROUND OUTFITTERS 2166 Wealthy SE East Grand Rapids, MI 49506 616-459-7290

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

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

2320 Central Ave. S. E. Albuquerque, NM 87106 505-268-4876 F 505-256-3986

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

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

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


NEW YORK LAKE PLACID MOUNTAINEERING 132 Main St. Lake Placid, NY 12946 518-523-7586 888-547-4327 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 2101 Broadway (at 73rd) New York, NY 10023 212-362-1000





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

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

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

44 Main St. New Palz, NY 12561 845-255-1311 F 845-255-1360


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

1716 W. Babcock Bozeman, MT 59715 406-586-2225 F 406-586-7544 866-586-2225




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






Skiing, Climbing, Boating


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

DIAMOND BRAND OUTDOORS 2617 Hendersonville Rd. Arden NC 28704 828-684-6262

REDPOINT CLIMBERS SUPPLY 639 NW Franklin Ave. Bend, OR 97701 541-382-6872 F 541-382-6853 REDPOINT CLIMBERS SUPPLY 975 NW Smith Rock Way Terrebonne, OR 97760 541-923-6207 F 541-548-3175 800-923-6207 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

PENNSYLVANIA EXKURSION 4037 William Penn Highway Monroeville, PA 15146 412-372-7030 F 412-372-7046 NESTOR’S SPORTING GOODS INC. 99 N West End Blvd Quakertown, PA 18951 215-529-0100 800-439-2858 F 215-529-9959

BLACK DIAMOND EQUIPMENT RETAIL STORE 2092 East 3900 South Salt Lake City, UT 84124 801-278-0233 F 801-278-5544

GEARHEADS, Moab's most complete outdoor store. Huge! selection of climbing gear. Black Diamond,Wild Country, Metolius, Petzl,Trango, Sterling, Mammut, FiveTen, La Sportiva 471 S. Main St Moab, UT 84532 888-740-4327 open 8:30am -10:00pm every day HURST 160 N 500 W (corner of Bluff and Blvd.) St. George, UT 84770 435-673-6141 F 435-628-3380 INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAIN EQUIPMENT 3265 East 3300 South Salt Lake City, UT 84109 801-484-8073 F 801-467-7884



59 South Main St. #2 Moab, UT 84532 435-259-1117 F 435-259-1119

101 E.Wiseman Ave. Fayetteville,WV 25840 304-574-2425 F 304-574-2563



702 East 100 South Salt Lake City, UT 84102 801-359-9361 F 801-534-0905

VERMONT CLIMB HIGH 2438 Shelburne Rd. Shelburne,VT 05482 802-985-5055


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

412 Grand Ave. Laramie,WY 82070 307-721-8036

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

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

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


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 MOUNTAIN MAGIC EQUIPMENT


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


827 Bellevue N.E. Bellevue,WA 98004 800-CLIMBIN MOUNTAIN GOAT OUTFITTERS 12 W Sprague Ave Spokane WA 99201 509-325-9806 F 509-747-5964 SECOND ASCENT 5209 Ballard Ave. NW Seattle,WA 98107 206-545-8810 F 206-545-9397

HONG KONG HONG KONG MOUNTAINEERING TRAINING CENTRE 1F on Yip Building, 395 Shanghai St., Kowloon Hong Kong, China 852-23848190 F 852-27707110

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

2494 N. University Pkwy. Provo, UT 84604 801-371-0223 F 801-371-0223

E. 11329 Hwy. 159 Baraboo,WI 53913 608-356-4877






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

719 W Frances St Appleton WI 54914-2365 Phone/Fax 920-731-2720 480 South 50 East Ephraim, UT 84627 435-283-4400 F 435-283-6872 800-671-5323


WEST VIRGINIA ADVENTURE’S EDGE 131 Pleasant St. Morgantown,WV 26505 304-296-9007 F 304-292-2295


ROWAN FRYER 877-762-5423 x 17


Compiled by Matt Samet STATISTICS CORNER


We received over 2,000 responses to these web-poll questions.

HOT SUMMER TEMPERATURES MELT WINTER SNOWPACK Chamonix, France—Local climbing guide Guastov Maurice is alarmed at the sorry state of the snowpack on Europe’s second-highest peak, Mont Blanc (16,211 feet). “I was guiding on le Mer de Glace when I notice only five centimeters of, how to say, névé,” said Maurice. “Eez très, très mal, non? Just last January I see literally meters of snow. There is so little now,” furthered Maurice, “that last year’s buttock-cleansing papers, avec le piles de merde, are now on view for to see. L’horreur!” Climatologists have long predicted that as the earth tips on its axis and rotates around the sun, increasing the hours of daylight in the northern hemisphere, we will see a general mid-year warming that could deplete snowpacks. If this upsetting trend continues, there may not be substantial snow on the ground again in certain areas until the middle of next December.

What type of climbing do you do most?

THANKS FOR NOTHIN’ A camouflaged camera, positioned to snap images of “trespassing” climbers, has been set up by Jefferson County (Jeffco), Colorado, on the approach to the “closed” open space at Ralston Buttes, aka Coors Crag. This large sandstone formation halfway between Boulder and Golden has been a climbers’ haunt since the 1960s, and boasts around 40 routes and good bouldering. Though no climbers have yet been cited, the fine for violating the closure is $90. In 1996, after buying the 160-acre tract for $641,000, Jeffco closed Ralston Buttes to the public due to its “biologically sensitive” nature. Tod Anderson, a climber and former federal land manager who lives in Blue Mountain Estates adjacent to Ralston and has for years worked with the Access Fund, Jeffco and other groups to open the crag, says, “This is just sleazy, underhanded b.s. There’s no legitimate scientific reason.” Shawn Tierney, access and acquisitions director at the Access Fund, says, “To my knowledge, Ralston is a habitat for very common species—[the closure] is frustrating. However, we’re hopeful about keeping an ongoing dialogue with Jeffco officials.”

Rock gym: 29% Trad: 21% Sport: 20% Outdoor bouldering: 13% Ice/mixed: 5% Mountaineering: 8%

What style of climber are you? Trad climber: 24% All-arounder: 22% Sport climber: 19% Boulderer: 14% Alpinist: 12% Gym rat: 6%

“I was invited down to the ceremony but decided a bunch of preening luvvies congratulating themselves all night was not my sort of thing, so went clubbing instead.” —Joe Simpson, author of Touching the Void, after the eponymous film won “Outstanding British Film of the Year” at the British Film Academy awards.

“I’d rather climb 5.12 with a hangover than climb 5.14 any day.” —Brittany Griffith, on number chasing.


CRYPTICALS Unscramble these climbing terms, or proper place names, to solve the riddle below.

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What did the frisky hangdog say?





Q: How many climbers can you cram into a phone booth?


A: Six. Ten if they’re starving themselves for the redpoint.


Several years ago, the Chinese government turned the Sichuan province of eastern Tibet into a national park, banning logging and hunting and allowing farming and grazing only on a limited basis. The restrictions forced families such as the Wangs, left, to find alternate ways to make a living. Here, they relax outside their unheated home, now converted into a guesthouse for Western ice climbers.

Got a good, offbeat image for Double Take? Send it on to



“Is this your first obscene slide show?” —Timmy O’Neill, concernedly, to a 13-year-old girl attending one of his ribald presentations.

ANSWER : Manky, Piolei, Nuptse, Snowpicket. A: Take me now!


Rock and Ice issue 133


Rock and Ice issue 133