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SQUAMISHBC ���������� 06.24 – 06.26 �������������

Said Belhaj • Harry Berger • Katie Brown • Mauro Calibani • Dave Graham • Lynn Hill • �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� Joe Kinder • James Litz • Steve McClure • Sean McColl • Jerome Meyer • Gérome Pouvreau • ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� Lisa Rands • Liv Sansoz • Chris Sharma • Sonnie Trotter • Patxi Usobiaga • Daniel Woods ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������

> CLIMBING > ACCESS SOCIETY BENEFIT > PARTY > DJ LAFOUCHE & MORE ����������������������������������������������������������������� For more information, log on to ������������������������������������������������������� To benefit the Climbers' Access Society of British Columbia ����������������������������������������������������������

Day 1 �����

Check-in �������� Trail maintenance ����������������� Dyno comp ���������� Trade fair ���������� Athlete slide show (TBA) ������������������������

Day 2 �����

Ultimate Route Contest ������������������������ (Elite & Open) ��������������� Clinics given by top athletes ����������������������������� Timmy O'Neill slide show & ��������������������������� Party with DJ Lafouche ����������������������

Day 3 �����

Bouldering Fest ��������������� Clinics given by top athletes ������������������������������ Wrap-up & Awards ���������������� D Y� N� A � M �I C� � R� O� P� E �S � �

Many thanks to: the Municipality of Squamish �•����������������������������� the Canadian Forest Service �•������������������������ BC Ministry of Forests �•���������� BC Parks ��������������������������������������������� Land & Water BC �� • ������������������������ Valhalla Pure Outfitters �•��������������������������������������� Squamish Oceanfront Development Corp. �•���������� Starbucks ����������������


ISSUE 142 // JUNE 2005

(collector’s edition: people)



The shakers and movers who broke the mold and reinvented the games climbers play.

The Largo factor: stacking up our sport's most outrageous rogues to the super-sized persona of John Long.



How about the time Yabo fell free soloing—and landed in the gentle arms of a tree? Or was it an angel? A look at our luckiest souls, who, but for the grace of God, would be six feet under.

A one-piece Lycra suit, painter's pants, the rubber shirt ... and what about those psychedelic duds from the 1970s? A look at climbing's boldest— and most unfashionable—characters.



Grab your skirts, gents—here’s a pack of girls who can climb you into the dust, and then make you eat it.

And the psycho runout masters of all time are ...


Are you a sissy? Then team up with these burly guys (and gal) and go kick some A!

You’ve never heard of them, but these behind-the-scenes players have been quietly doing it their own hard way.

65) PROMISING YOUTHS A sneak peek at America’s up-and-coming under-21-year-olds.

68) REQUIEM A tribute to climbing’s fallen notables who left us before their time.


88) CURRENTLY KILLING IT Today's faces behind each climbing discipline, from bouldering to trad to sport to wall to alpine. PLUS: LIGHTS, CAMERAS, CLIMBERS Unforgettable celluloid action heroes, from Clint to Diamond Dave to Sly Stallone.

MEET MR. PRODUCER Michael 94)Reardon is America’s most prolific free soloist—so why doesn't anyone believe him? BY MATT SAMET



Y O U H AV E A S C R E W L O O S E Let’s see what we’ve got in the toolbox. 400 hp. A commanding 5.7L V8. Massive 14-inch Brembo brakes. And a startling 0-60 of 4.6 seconds. That’ll straighten your head out. Cadillac CTS-V

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ISSUE 142 // JUNE 2005

28) SUPERGUIDE Belly up to a frenzy of new routes in the land of Ross Perot and Lone Star beer with the best tufa pulling this side of Thailand.

10) EDITOR’S NOTE 12) LETTERS 106) CLASSIFIEDS 18) BREAKING NEWS Piolet d’Or goes to Russian siege team on Jannu and earns a collective boo from the alpine community; big bouldering at Hueco Rock Rodeo; “trad” Scottish mixed route sets new standard; two major climbing icons pass on.

35) CRAG DU JOUR The lowdown on Colorado’s Indian Creek, 16Z’s splitters. BY CHARLIE FOWLER


38) MR. SIR

Coping with the spousal illness known as VSC (Very Serious Climber). BY FIONA LLOYD




Climbers say the darndest/dumbest things, and we were there to write them down.

Super Novas: the brightest LED headlamps on earth. Is the most expensive helmet worth it? A sporty “wall” rope and the Kayland M11 mixed boot. BY DUANE RALEIGH

Cheat your way up impossible boulders, deconstructing the Euro Death Knot, coiling the cord for block leading, build your own “chicken choker” and the miracle cure for stuck ropes.



Life’s most vexing questions answered, including what makes climbing-shoe rubber sticky, do carabiners wear out and why are sewn slings stronger than knotted ones?

Oh, what a tangled web they weave. Nylon and Spectra slings duke it out for a position on your rack. Which is best?

45) ACCIDENT REPORT An overly attentive belay turns a minor sport fall into an arse-over-teakettle, head-banging spill. BY JEFF JACKSON

30) SPOTLIGHT 4' 11" Ana Burgos packs a wallop, climbing circles around the brahs, dislocated finger and all. BY KATIE BROWN



The best time to climb at Smith Rock is … never. And how to reign in toprope heroes at the Creek.

Today’s lesson: Strength-to-Weight Ratios.

In a VaporWick™ Malita Tank, Abby Watkins brings new meaning to “the land down under.” Route: Superstyling. Point Perpendicular, NSW, Australia. Photo: Simon Carter.

[ EDITOR’S NOTE ] Here’s looking at you PRAYER FLAGS HUNG from the ceiling in the 4-H Building in Ridgway,

Colorado. At 24 round tables, climbers, whose memberships with the American Alpine Club varied from six weeks to 60 years, ate chicken curry and dahl. Steve Swenson, who has climbed K2 and Everest, wound down a rich retrospective by showing a slide of himself, Steve House, Doug Chabot and Bruce Miller at the Nanga Parbat basecamp, arms thrown around each others’ shoulders. “The camaraderie,” he said, “never goes away.” Which is, of course, what it’s all about. We have the greatest and most meaningful sport in the world, and our joy in it owes much to the people. The rocks and mountains are beautiful, but for most of us indifferent tabula rasae without our companions, the friends with whom we swap humor, ideas, decisions and power, trade the absolute trust of belays. It’s a downright unnatural closeness. A boulderer named Randy Puro cites a favorite aspect of climbing: “You go out and share these highly driven experiences with others, and everyone brings different strengths, weaknesses, hangups and approaches. It’s a rich interaction.” The connections are a spider web of giving and inspiration that link generations. Chris Lindner, 21, looks back at how Scott Franklin and John Bachar first encouraged him (at Snowbird 1988, Scott wouldn’t leave isolation until Chris, then 5, finished telling a story). Jim Karn, the leading talent of his day, also found motivation from Franklin as his friend and peer, but always credited his predecessor Alan Watts for ushering in the next level of climbing. Lynn Hill gained confidence from the example of the great climber Bev Johnson. And how many women climbers today have been inspired by Hill? After awhile, many want to give back, explaining why someone like Mike Doyle, a top climber, coaches the Edge Climbing Team in Vancouver on top of working 45-plus hours a week as a software developer. This issue of Rock and Ice is a celebration of the human side of our sport: the quiet heroes, the flamboyant ones. The brilliant athletes, the canny seers. Or those who are simply determined. Some lists were fun, such as 10 Luckiest Climbers: the miracle stories, the ones we laugh about afterwards because nobody took the big dirt nap. That category, like others, could expand to all of us. All of us who were just missed by the falling rock, or under the avalanche that didn’t go, or who didn’t step in the hidden crevasse. Which brings us to another inclusive list: the Great Unknowns are also all of us who enjoy being outside, unlocking the secrets of the crags and mountains. Who enjoy the sport, and probably always will, together. No one climber can represent the sport as a whole. In recognition, and as a toast, with this issue we’ve published cover images of four leading climbers, past and present. The cover you hold is one of the collection. —ALISON OSIUS

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10 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE

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HELLO, SO JUST overheard [yet] another

... conversation about your Canadian flag graphic [on Dr. Piton’s helmet] which I know is intentional [bars on actual flag run vertically, not horizontally], having seen letters in your mag about this, so I guess it’s a clever jest. Even so, the conversation at this international hostel turned harsh along the lines of why are so many Americans are so juvenile and obnoxious. (I’m actually summarizing and toning it down a little here.) Usually I’d have something to say in defense ... I mean it’s just a graphic, so who cares? However, what if it was the other way around? Believe me, the last laugh is definitely on the American.




Cordes’ “Confessions of a Serial Troller” [No. 141] was hilarious. I was laughing out loud while reading it on the bus ride home from work. However, I must admit to spending way too much time (at work) reading various posts at a climbing website. Having followed many flaming responses to a number of trolls, the story is very relevant and especially amusing. I can just imagine the outrage caused by ol’ Boss M., and I can imagine Cordes dreaming up each subsequent response, and then rushing to post it. Overall, a very amusing article, which provided nice variety, and relevancy, to those of us who rely too heavily on Internet forums to meet our daily climbing fix. PS: I imagine that the forums may be plagued by multiple “copycats” as a result of this article. Should make for nice reading in the upcoming weeks. I THOUGHT KELLY

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increasingly disappointed by the quality of articles in Rock and Ice. I’m puzzled that a good writer and prolific climber like Kelly Cordes would stoop to submitting his latest, unredeeming article about Internet chat [“Confessions of a Serial Troller,” No. 141]. I suppose the inanity of the piece was supposed to have reached a level where it became funny, as opposed to increasingly pointless and immature.


Unfortunately, I don’t expect to get much sympathy from the editors, as Matt Samet (“Mr. Sir”) seems to have a similar penchant for the inane, notwithstanding his otherwise excellent editorial credentials. I’m sick of being fed “humor” that is nothing more than crap thinly disguised as a takeoff on crap. What ever happened to the fresh and incisive cynicism we used to get in climbing literature? It seems that only a few old-timers like John Long continue to spice their offerings of wisdom and perspective with true wit. Perhaps you could look more carefully at the “funny” bits you publish for the (hopefully) more discerning readers of Rock and Ice.


Matt Samet replies: Please note that I most definitely am NOT Mr. Sir.


THANKS FOR REPORTING on our new route Jedi Mind Tricks in the last issue [No 141]. I was surprised, however, to see a rating [in a photo caption] attached to our un-rated climb. We would greatly appreciate if Rock and Ice’s editorial staff would refrain from rating a climb that you’ve never seen, know little about and have not made a single move on. By tacking the M12+ grade to our climb, you’re contributing to what is currently a very confusing M-rating system. The rea-


wants to hear about your new routes and share them with the climbing community. If you have news about or are developing an area, please contact us at

SUPERGUIDE@ROCKANDICE.COM. Excalibur (801) 942 8471

12 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE




EDITORIAL Duane Raleigh Alison Osius Matt Samet Andrew Bisharat David Clifford Barry Blanchard, Geof Childs, Mark Eller, Jeff Jackson, John Long, Dave Pegg, Doug Robinson, Tyler Stableford, Pete Takeda, Jonathan Thesenga, Jon Waterman CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Chris Belczynski, Katie Brown, Tommy Caldwell, Andy Dappen, Niall Grimes, Tim Neville, Lizzy Scully, Sonnie Trotter AMGA SAFETY REVIEW BOARD Mark Houston, Mike Powers WMI MEDICAL REVIEW BOARD Buck Tilton


CREATIVE Bonnie Hofto



Jeremy Collins




Randall Lavelle NATIONAL SALES


Mark Kittay, CPA




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 2005 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.




LETTERS son we didn’t rate it was because we wanted more climbers to repeat the climb and confirm a grade before actually giving it one. Ryan Nelson and I only mentioned it felt harder than other M12s we’ve done. As a vehicle for new routes and developments in the climbing community, you should be more responsible with your reporting. Just as The Game, first redpointed by Ben Firth, who didn’t rate the route, was given an M13 rating by the magazines, Jedi Mind Tricks is falling into the same predicament. The Game’s M13 rating held after several redpoints, but was recently re-rated and renamed The Game Reloaded, possible M13+, by Will Gadd, who redpointed the route without heel spurs and added a different finish. The reason? Gadd believes that heel spurs make routes too easy and to keep the difficulty on par with the ratings there should be a separation between a redpoint done with heel spurs and without. The Game Reloaded with spurs is M13, and M13+ sans spurs. Who knows what Jedi Mind Tricks will eventually be rated with or without spurs? But like the rest of the climbing community, please don’t rate climbs unless you’ve climbed them yourself. JARED OGDEN AND RYAN NELSON, DURANGO, COLORADO

PLUMB, WILD AND ALREADY CLIMBED? are to be congratulated on completing the Alex Lowe Memorial Route [Breaking News No. 141], on the north face of the Grand Teton. It should be noted that Mike Vanderbeck and his partner Tahoe previously climbed this line to within about 25 to 50 feet of where it intersects the Hossak-McGowen in early March of 1993. Unfortunately, Tahoe fell just as he was about to clear the final difficulties that lead into the Hossak-McGowen. After an amazing self-rescue down to the base of the Teton Glacier, Mike skied out for help (AAC ANAM 1994). A few days later, Mike and I went back up there to retrieve gear. However, conditions were not right, so we skied back down to Jackson and had a beer. Sadly, Mike and Tahoe are no longer with us. Like Alex, they both died in climbing accidents. Given that the route is a memorial, I hope that Koch and Newcomb will add this information to their description.



Stephen Koch replies: Renny Jackson informed me, again, that the Alex Lowe Memorial Route, if it is the same line as described in Mr. Sanderson’s letter (which we believe it is, with the conditions much fatter in 1993), was incomplete and “unclimbed” because [Mike Vanderbeck and Tahoe] did not finish the route. Vanderbeck told Jackson that Tahoe fell before the end of the technical climbing. After the fall, they did a great job of self-rescue. If Tahoe had completed the pitch, assuming it was the last technical one on the route, belayed Vanderbeck up and rappelled off, it would have been a new route (not to the summit) rather than an attempt.

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Jannu, aka Kumbhakarna (named after a god who sleeps half the year): Located in Kangchenjunga Himal. First climbed by Robert Paragot, Paul Kellar, Rene Desmaison and Sherpa Gyalzen Mitchu in 1962.

Site of controversy: In 1989, Tomo Cesen claimed to have soloed a new route roughly up the left side of the north face, exiting to the Japanese Route at 6,800 meters. The lack of photographic evidence, and vague route descriptions have convinced many, notably Reinhold Messner, otherwise.

“Big Wall—Russian Style”: An ongoing project in its 10th year with the goal of pioneering new routes on 10 big walls around the world. The Wall of Shadows became number seven.

Jury: Krzysztof Wielicki (has reached all 14 8,000-meter summits); Leslie Fucsko and Yvette Vaucher (both with Groupe Haute de Montagne); Guy Chaumereuil (award founder); Valeri Babanov and Yuri Koshelenko (won award in 2003); Stéphane Benoist (award nominee); the editors of Montagnes Magazine.

“Piolet d’Ork”: Popular slang among North American alpinists who criticize the award for rewarding poor style.

No American has ever won the Piolet d’Or.


Fixed Ropes Russian for “Alpine Style” TEAM JANNU WALKS THE RED CARPET AT CLIMBING’S ACADEMY AWARDS; HOUSE WINS “PEOPLE’S CHOICE” THE 14TH ANNUAL Piolet d’Or (Golden to 5.10, A2, M6+ and 80-degree ice on a Ice Axe) ceremony, held this February in remote peak, was not lost on the audience Grenoble, France, awarded the coveted of climbers familiar with achievements. The Russian’s direct line up Jannu’s golden ice axe to the team of 11 Rus10,000-foot north face, dubbed the “Wall sians, led by Alexandre Odinstov, for its of Shadows,” had been called “the greatfirst ascent of Jannu’s (25,295 feet) north est challenge of the Himalaya,” by the face. Among the six ascents nominated for the award were Americans Ben GilmSwiss legend Erhard Loretan, who has ore and Kevin Mahoney’s Arctic Rage on summited every 8,000-meter peak. the Moose’s Tooth, and Steve House’s solo Tucked in the recesses of eastern Nenew route on K7 pal, Jannu is a slant(22,799 feet), a peak “... to call the ascent progress ing paradigm of that had previously or relevant is BS. But it is not mountain architeconly been climbed ture. The Russians our award … it’s theirs.” once. When House, climbed the nearly who has openly critvertical wall over 50 icized the Piolet d’Or, was mentioned as days last spring, abandoning 77 fixed ropes a nominee before the hundreds in attenand a few portaledges after summiting. dance, he received a standing ovation. “While the Russians’ tactics were not Like the politicized Academy Awards, the most aesthetic,” declared the jury, the Piolet d’Or is decided by a jury that “alpinists who know the wall say that, at determines the most significant alpinepresent, this is the only conceivable style climbing achievement of each year, focusof ascent.” Indeed, Jannu has thwarted ing on small teams doing new routes on some five alpine-style attempts, includremote peaks, with alpine-style and solo ing one by the American Jared Ogden and ascents winning extra points. The irony his British cohort, Steve Sustad, in 1997. that the Russians used siege and capOgden reported good ice conditions, but sule-style tactics on Jannu, while House says, “We couldn’t carry enough food and climbed for 42 hours straight, soloing up fuel in our packs for a week, and we didn’t


18 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE


want to haul and take a portaledge.” Ogden returned in 2000 with Mark Synnott and Kevin Thaw to find unclimbable ice conditions that year. “[We’ve] all been critical of the award and its lack of coherence,” said Mark Twight, a previous Piolet d’Or nominee. “Yes, the ascent of Jannu was hard and the climbers persistent. But to call the ascent progress or relevant is BS, but it is not our award … it’s theirs.” Twight cites the 1984 issue of Mountain in which Al Rouse wrote, “It has been proven in the last 10 years that every Himalayan peak can be climbed if no considerations of style are taken into account.” Twight adds, “Why must this theory be proven over and over again? Did no one believe it the first 100 times?” —ANDREW BISHARAT


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“The Matterhorn of the South,” New Zealand’s Mount Aspiring (9,931 feet), rises from the Bonar Glacier to a sharp, snowy apex. On January 19, James Edward, Kev Neal and

Oliver Metherell put up 24 Hour Party People (ED2, Scottish VII; 2,000 feet) on Mount Aspiring’s cold south face, establishing one of the South Island’s hardest routes.

20 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE

following day, and the somewhat smarmy conditions didn’t seem to bother the competitors. The Advanced and Mutant divisions first scoped the backcountry, where contestants worked three high-point problems, then spent the second half of the day at North Mountain to work three more. Nick Duttle sent Crown of Aragorn (V13)—his first time completing the problem. With competitors barely sending V10s in the late-1990s, but now climbing them frequently, perhaps by next year Hueco’s classic V14s, Slashface and Esperanza, will be part of the rodeo. —JEFF JACKSON Ten years ago, Rich Purnell saw the pencil-thin ice drip at the lip of an enormous cave in Glenwood Canyon, Colorado, and thought he’d like to climb it. Purnell sent his Alcatraz

in late January, rating the climb M14, which would have made it the hardest sportmixed route in the world. Will Gadd and Ryan Nelson made quick repeats, suggesting a grade of M11

Ethan Pringle: Loaded Direct (V12) Chris Lindner: Platonique (V11) Glen Johnson: Rumble in the Jungle (V12) Ana Burgos: Glas Roof (V9) Nick Duttle: Crown of Aragorn (V13) Lizzy Asher: Better Eat Your Wheaties (V8)

with heel spurs, or M12 sans eperons. In a demonstration of protest, two Italian climbers have been free-soloing the 30-foot concrete “security” wall (deemed illegal

by the Hague International Court) that Israel is building to sequester Palestinians and further annex West Bank territory. They report splitter cracks of varying difficulty.


Rock Rodeo, in 1993, people bouldered and then jumped through a raging plywood fire. John Sherman, the master of ceremonies, had led a group of top boulderers on a circuit of Hueco’s most cryptic classics. The competitors’ attitudes varied from serious to seriously carefree. Not much has changed. When the 12th Annual Hueco Rock Rodeo, scheduled for February 12, was delayed one day due to rain, competitors partied at the Hueco Rock Ranch, swilling four kegs of Fat Tire and dancing to the Austin band Thing That Go Pop. Fortunately, the skies cleared the





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Fear and Hurting in Scotland CAN DAVE MACLEOD’S NEW ROUTE SAVE MIXED CLIMBING? cially climbers, who, in winter, fight their way up alpine classics in fierce, arctic Northerlies—are tough as nails. Little surprise, then, that Dave MacLeod, 26, one of the United Kingdom’s best all-around climbers, raised the bar with The Hurting (Scottish XI, 11—or trad M9/10) in the Cairngorms. It is the world’s first route at the grade. The Hurting, speculates MacLeod, a veteran of 5.14 and M12, could be M9+ or M10 but, “It’s difficult to say … it’s just not like [sport] drytooling routes,” he says. “It’s plastered with hoar frost, verglas and snow—a mixed climbing equivalent of a hard gritstone route.” The route ascends a summer E4 6a (or 5.11 R/X) face route using thin hooks and tool torques in blind granite seams, unpredictable when iced up. MacLeod considered toproping the line first, but opted to “give the route a chance,” a delicate way of saying sack-up-and-lead-it. MacLeod was six feet from on-sighting when a tool popped, spitting him onto a micro-cam, which slid almost completely out of the verglased crack but miraculously held by two lobes. “I wanted to cry,” said MacLeod, who thought he’d have to wait a year to give the route another go: In Scotland, ethics dictate winter routes must be climbed in full conditions (which form sporadically and never last long), so each gear and tool placement is hard won. The cold weather held, however, and MacLeod returned three days later during a violent, snowy gale. Perfect. He climbed past the first, completely unprotected crux, and made it to the headwall. “The main problem was the blizzard,” the Glaswegian said. “The gusts kept blowing my feet off, leaving me dangling from one tool.” His eyes repeatedly froze shut. More drama ensued: MacLeod detoured around the spot where he had fallen, but found himself too spreadeagled to remove his last placement, fighting for many minutes before pressing through and to the top. Having sent top-end M-routes elsewhere, MacLeod views sport-mixed as a discipline running out of future challenges, as heel spurs, bolts and tame conditions have reduced even the hardest routes to “easy outings.” He cites The Hurting as a personal “stepping stone” for the future of mixed climbing. “We can make an M13 with bold climbing and all the unpredictability that Scottish conditions bring,” says MacLeod. —AB 22 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE


SAY WHAT YOU want about kilts. Those roughneck Scotsman—espe-

Look for the si

ns of an Edelweiss



ANDERL HECKMAIR, 98. The unclimbed, 5,000-foot north face of the Eiger was a mighty intimidating place in 1938 (it still is). Nasty weather lashed the wall, and “The Ogre,” as climbers dubbed the recalcitrant Alp, was considered Europe’s greatest mountaineering challenge. Nine climbers had already frozen to death or been killed by rockfall or avalanches by the time the Germans Anderl Heckmair and Ludwig Vörg packed up on the morning of July 21 and cruised past the slower Austrian team of Heinrich Harrer and Fritz Kasparek, who had beaten HECKMAIR BENEATH THE EIGER. them to the start, but were struggling roughly a third of the way up the Nordwand. Heckmair and Vörg, with their state-of-the-art crampons and axes, could surely have smoked the Austrians, but the “sweet-natured” Vörg reined in Heckmair, who wanted to blow on by. “We can’t abandon them now,” Vörg said. Harrer later admitted that he and Kasparak “owed their lives” to the Germans, and especially to Heckmair, who led every pitch and scrapped his way through the tough Exit Cracks (5.7 to 5.9, depending on conditions) in a severe snowstorm. Heckmair took several tumbles onto sketchy gear and, at one point, pitched directly onto Vörg and pierced Vörg’s hand with his crampon. Heckmair plummeted sans belay, but managed to snag the rope and arrest his own fall. Shaken, but undeterred, Heckmair soon dispensed with the business and brought his party to the summit on July 24, 1938. Though the Nazis tried to use Heckmair’s crowning achievement as proof of Nazi superiority, he refused to join the party and was sent to the Eastern Front to fight the Russians in WWII. Tragically, Vörg was killed there, but Heckmair survived, citing the “sharpened senses” he had developed through climbing with helping him dodge bullets and mines. While Harrer, with his books The White Spider and Seven Years in Tibet, became better known than Heckmair, the unassuming Heckmair was clearly the most gifted climber and continued to climb at the highest standard after the war. He snagged an early ascent of the Walker Spur, on the Grandes Jorasses, in 1951, and completed adventurous routes in the Ruwenzori of Africa and in the Cordillera Blanca of Peru. Throughout his life, he worked as a mountain guide and, in 1968, helped found Germany’s mountain and ski guides association. In 1972, Heckmair recounted the story of his childhood as an orphan and life in the mountains in his memoir, My Life as a Mountaineer. Heckmair remained active well into his 90s, hiking with his wife, Trudl, for two to three hours every day. In the late 1990s, when controversy arose concerning Harrer’s membership in the Nazi party, Heckmair appeared indifferent. “Important is only now,” he said. Anderl Heckmair died on February 1, 2005. —JEFF JACKSON 24 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE


Image courtesy of the Image Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center. STS51I_STS51I-44-52

The Ogre Slayer


American Classic An integral player in the generation of California climbers who first explored big walls, who laid the foundations for free climbing and helped defi ne ethics, Kamps died from a sudden heart attack during a climbing-gym session on March 2. Kamps’ achievements place him unequivocally among his peers—Robbins, Pratt, Chouinard, Harding and Kor—but he was a quiet KAMPS AT STONEY POINT IN 1969. climber who did not self promote or write about his achievements, though he did keep extensive records. Indeed, without guidebook credits, his long, varied and enormously productive career would remain the personal domain of a very modest man. Although Kamps made the fi rst ascent of the Diamond on Longs Peak with Dave Rearick (something of a coup, given that he was one of a couple of California boys to snatch, via the direttissima, Colorado’s biggest prize: D1), his most noteworthy accomplishments were his pre-nut and -cam on-sight, groundup ascents at Tuolumne and Tahquitz. Kamps specialized in cutting-edge face routes (something of an anomaly, as his peers occupied themselves with big walls and offwidths). He climbed with a few pins, a bolt kit and shoddy footwear, establishing impossible slab routes like Inverted Staircase (5.10b), in Tuolumne, that remain testpieces four decades later. Though bolts today are synonymous with sport climbing, it was Kamps who defi ned bolting on the lead without aid, heading up steep, unclimbed (and uninspected) faces. Many a leader has arrived at one of his bolts (the anchor on Chingadera, a 5.11a at Tahquitz, is the greatest bolt placement ever) and wondered how to clip in, let alone grasped how Kamps achieved a stable no-handed stance to drill. No account of Kamps’ climbing life is complete without mentioning Stoney Point, Los Angeles, where he spent his afternoons for some 50 years. Here, Kamps, always brimming with delight, met, mentored and interacted with generations of climbers, expert or novice. Kamps was, and always will be, remembered as the “Mayor of Stoney Point.” Kamps, a sixth-grade teacher for much of his life, had a quirky passion for collecting “junk”: barbed wire, telephone-line insulators and old bottles. The insulator collecting involved climbing poles and trees of varying degrees of slipperiness and replacing a “valuable” insulator with a modern and uninteresting one. His passion for old bottles took him on various cross-country tours of old dumps and junkyards, through which he enthusiastically rooted for rare specimens. After retiring from teaching, he made an excellent living bidding on the contents of abandoned storage units, a practice that combined his love for junk with his propensity for gambling with the unknown. Bob is survived by his wife, Bonnie. Together, they modeled the constancy, tolerance and devotion of a classic Midwestern “American Gothic” union.




JUNE 05 | R O C K A N D I C E . C O M 25

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Life and Limb BY JAMIE ANDREW, $34 just read not one but two books by climber amputees, when a British friend wrote that Life and Limb was so gripping “it makes Touching the Void look like a stroll in the park,” I sat up straight. Nothing, of course, could ever turn Joe Simpson’s brutal crawl down a glacier into a cakewalk. And Life and Limb, due to its circumstances, contains relatively little of that sort of battling. It is, however, an exceptional study in enduring. Jamie Fisher and Jamie Andrew were two strong Scottish climbers who attempted the North Face of les Droites, the French Alps, in January 1999 expecting “some snow” during the descent. The storm blasted in with unexpected ferocity, bringing high winds and temps of -20 degrees F. Oh, there’s action: As the author launched up one lead, avalanches rushed down the icefall in “unbearable, suffocating waves.” Meanwhile, he hung on, unable to see his hands and axes in front of him (let alone place any pro). But the book is really about being trapped: The two climbers struggled to a gap in the summit ridge, but were pinned … for five days. During the storm Andrew watched his friend Jamie Fisher slowly die beside him. After his rescue, Andrew anguished, “We had been in it together. Throughout the whole terrible time we had shared everything equally, our food, our drink, our shelter, our hopes … Neither I, nor I’m sure Jamie, had for one moment suspected that one of us might make it down without the other.” Andrew awoke after a surgery with neither hands nor feet, all lost to frostbite. But he found resolve, and determined to improve a little every day. The book has its flaws: During the first 100 pages, it can be hard to track the days without repeatedly paging back. And the second half of the book slows down, but so did the author’s life. What is truly amazing about Life and Limb, though, is that anyone possibly survived five days in such harsh conditions. The bonus is the author’s quiet spirit: his love of climbing, sense of perspective and appreciation of community. Portrait: or


26 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE

SOME SURVIVORS SAY THEY HAVE FOUND NEW JOY IN JUST BEING ALIVE, IN GOING OUT TO A RESTAURANT OR HAVING COFFEE ON THE PORCH. HAVE YOU? I definitely have a renewed joy in life. That is something I carry with me always, although sometimes I do have to remind myself!

HOW DID YOU MAKE PEACE WITH THE LOSS OF YOUR FRIEND? I suppose by throwing myself into my new life with all its new challenges, just like he would. He wasn’t lucky enough to be given a second chance, so I owed it to him.

DO YOU STILL RELIVE THE ACCIDENT? No. Not any more. I did, a thousand times over, and found myself going in circles, getting nowhere. Then I realized that the way out was to tell people how it was, and that’s what I did … And I wrote about it in my book, the final act of catharsis, a laying to rest of ghosts. IN THE END, HOW DO YOU THINK YOU STAYED ALIVE? No idea. Jamie was a much stronger, fitter climber. I have never found an explanation.



Q A Andrew, 36, lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, with his wife, Anna, and baby daughter.


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REIMER’S RANCH This little crag offers hundreds of pocketed sport climbs on Frankenjura-esque limestone. Though short (the climbs average 30 feet), the steep and crimp climbing ensures a good burn. A group of steel-fingered mutants (notably Rupesh Chhagan and Mike Klein) have added a number of high-end routes, making Reimer’s the choice for hardcore sport grimping. The best time to visit is winter, October through April. Note: Routes are listed right to left for climbs on the right side of the Sex Canyon, left to right for climbs on the left side of the canyon (in the order they are encountered when approached 28 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE

from the parking area). Visit to order Austin Rock, Sean O’Grady’s new guide to area limestone. ACCESS Reimer’s Ranch is about 40 miles west of Austin. Take Highway 71 west and turn left on Hamilton’s Pool Road. Look for a sign on the right about 15 minutes down the Pool Road. The climbs are along the banks of the Pedernales River.

SEX CAVE A tufa-laced sinkhole that is the first wall accessed from the parking area. Lip Service (5.12a). FA: Jimmy Carse. This high traverse parallels Spider Grind, and is the first route at the right of the Sex Cave.

Sex Grind (5.12). FA: Unknown. Climb Spider Grind and join Liposuction at the seventh bolt. Lucky Strikes (5.13b). FA: Mike Klein. Start left of Body Wax and climb pockets to the top. Move right after the first bolt. No anchors; down jump to clean. Discharge (5.13c). FA: Rupesh Chhagan. Start Liposuction, but eliminate the traverse by climbing straight up to the last bolt and anchors. This route used to be rated 5.12c, but a crucial hold broke. Donkey Lady (5.12c). FA: Unknown. Climb Elephant Man to the second bolt and cut out of the cave to the wall. Perma-draws under the roof.

SEX CANYON The area just past the Sex Cave, which terminates at the Pedernales River. Pulmonary Choss (5.11c). FA: Mike Klein. First route in the canyon. First bolt is squirrelly.


NEW ROUTES In the 10 years since the publication of Texas Limestone, over 100 new lines have been bolted on the steep, tufa-rife cliffs around central and southern Texas. The crystalline granite at Enchanted Rock has not seen as much development, but the recent interest of a few individuals in exploring the aretes and faces portends another crop of routes in the near future. Here’s the lowdown on the best new lines at three noteworthy Lone-Star rock arenas.


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SUPER GUIDE Cantu. This and the following route are around the bend, left of the Sex Canyon. Follow a dihedral 40 feet left of Zoë’s Wall to a roof and traverse right under the roof. 5.10 Roof (5.10). FA: Kevin Benz, Mario Cantu. Left of 5.9 Roof.

SERPENT’S WALL This is the 25-foot wall with a roof at its base. Blank Page (5.11a). FA: Kevin Benz. Start off the fallen block and move over the low roof. KB-5 (5.9). FA: Kevin Benz. Left of Blank Page. Sidewinder (5.10c). FA: Kevin Benz. Left of KB-5.

DEAD CAT’S ANNEX This wall to the right of the main Dead Cat’s Wall. El Primero (5.9). FA: Mario Cantu. Located about 40 feet left of Sidewinder in front of several small boulders. Quality Ivy (5.10a) FA: Dave Phillips? No info. Mammaz Boyz (5.9) FA: Dave Phillips. This route starts in a seam. The Sting (5.9). FA: Joey Phillips. Starts right of tree. There is a beehive between Mammaz Boyz and The Sting.

DEAD CAT’S WALL This popular wall is distinguished by the trampled base and weekend crowds. Backflip (5.9). FA: Curtis Mai, Todd McCray? Left of Dead Cats. Watch the rope behind the leg ... . Scott’s Pelotas (5.8). FA: Scott Hinton. Left of Water Ballet. Hello Kitty (5.10a). FA: Ralph Vega. Left of Scott’s Pelota’s. Ralph’s Route (5.11c). FA: Ralph Vega. Has a hard deadpoint at the top. High Anxiety (5.10c). FA: Mario Cantu, Chris Sandoval. Starts right of two giant stalagmites. Climb up through a slot with a small tree growing from it. Blood of the Dead (5.11b). FA: Joe Sulak. Start off the left side of the boulder at the base of Telegraph Road. Love is a Fist (5.12c). FA: Josh Pierce. Start off the boulder at the base of Let Them Eat Flake and climb straight up. Bolus (5.12d). FA: Mike Klein. Scramble up to the start and clip the first bolt in the tufa. Super Cruiser (5.13b). FA: Tom Scales. Left of Learning to Fly. Yearning to Brawl (5.12c). FA: Adam Strong. This is Learning To Crawl with30 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE

out using the manufactured pocket. Hyper Salivation (5.13b). FA: Mike Klein. Start on Learning to Fly. Clip second bolt and traverse right to finish on Bolus. Chug (5.13a). FA: Rupesh Chhagan. Start matched on the stalactite. Unprotected 5.10 climbing up high. Bros Before Ho’s (5.12d). FA: Tom Scales. Climb the bulging overhang left of the dihedral. Tonic Clonic Episode (5.13b). FA: Rupesh Chhagan. Climb the face right of the big white streak.

Mario’s Route (5.12a). FA: Mario Cantu. Easy 5.9 climbing until you get to the bouldery finish. Great Unknown (5.11a). FA: John Gonzales. This route shares the first two bolts with Smelling Cat Calvin. The anchors are below the cactus. Smelling Cat Calvin (5.8) FA: Steven Shortnacy. Start on a vertical face and move left into a dihedral. Clawing Zoë (5.7). FA: Steven Shortnacy. Start right of a small overhang. Climb past a small tree on the right to a sloping finish.

Slick Willie (5.13a). FA: Tom Scales. Old Coletrane Project.

Hissing Chloe (5.8). FA: Steven Shortnacy. Start on flake left of the small overhang.

5.9 Roof (5.9). FA: Kevin Benz, Mario

Rolly Poly Cocoa Kitty (5.7). FA:

SUPER GUIDE Steven Shortnacy. Easy pulling left of Hissing Chloe. Lessa the Puramatic 6000 Kitty (5.5). FA: Steven Shortnacy. Last low-angle route to the left.

RHETORICK WALL Orange wall just left of the Dead Cat’s Wall. Bad Language (5.12a R). FA: Unknown. Left of Rhetorick. Climbs through two bolts then moves left, away from the anchors, rendering them useless. Not recommended. Twyman’s Folly (5.12c). FA: Matt Twyman. Left of Bad Language. Schizophrenic Calisthenics (5.12d). FA: Joe Sulak. Left of Twyman’s.

MILLENIUM WALL This wall has a five-foot roof and a starting ledge 15 feet off the ground. Just to the left of the Rhetorick Wall. Food Rage (5.13a?). FA: Project. Hard boulder problem start. Left of Rags to Riches. Millennium Route (5.10b). FA: Mario Cantu. Start on the 10-foot ledge. Long traversing route. 13 bolts. Mrs. Johnson (5.10b). FA: Paul Johnson. Right of Cliptomania. Arborcidal Tendencies (5.11b). FA: Dave Phillips. Left of Cliptomania. Start in front of a large flat boulder. Deferred Adjudication (5.11b). FA: Dave Phillips. George of the Jungle (5.10b). FA: Dave Phillips, Joey Phillips. Start on the face right of the dihedral. Left of Ferntasm (5.10b). FA: Curtis Mai, Todd McCray Ferntasm Twice Removed (5.11b). FA: Curtis Mai, Todd McCray. Shares anchors with Ferntasm. The Finest and the Flyest (5.11a). FA: Dave Teykl. Start on tufa and move to bulging dihedral.

HAND BEYOND WALL Last wall on the left band.

TIT FOR TOM WALL 300 yards past the T-Roofic Wall. Melt Down (5.12b). FA: Patrick O’Donnell. Climb the arete starting from a ledge 10 feet off the ground, just right of the large roof. Curious George (5.12a). FA: Mike Klein. Traverse left under roof. Jimmy’s Rig (5.12a). FA: Jimmy Carse. First route just left of large roof. Antiqua (5.11a). FA: John Shannon. Climb through the roof with a small tree growing out of it. There is a large tufa at the bottom, and a large flexing block for a crux hold.

El Presidente (5.10c). FA: Rick Watson. Just left of Mikey Likes It. Power Squat (5.10d). FA: Joe Sulak. Start left of San Antonio Drillers dihedral on arete.

Suspended Boulder. Note: Routes from here on listed left to right. Get Your Fill (5.12a). FA: Rupesh Chhagan, Mike Klein. Way right of Dos Vatos. Just left of Shortcake Wall.


Tree Gnome (5.10c). FA: Unknown. Start right of large tree.

To the left of the Prototype and Dr. Seuss Wall. AKA Oblivion Wall.

Shadowman (5.11a). FA: Kevin Benz. Start right of Yet Another S. A. Route.

Got a Dollar? (5.7). FA: Curtis Mai, Todd McCray. First route on this short low-angled wall.


Crack Ate The Pipe (5.8). FA: Curtis Mai, Todd McCray.

First wall on the opposite side of the canyon from the Sex Canyon. Look for the remnants of big trash. Located above the trail before you reach the

Karen Carpenter (5.11). FA: Brenton Buxton, Joel Schopp, and Frank Curry. Three bolts to Fixe anchor. JUNE 05 | R O C K A N D I C E . C O M 31

SUPER GUIDE Bumbler on the Roof (project). Wild Spider (5.13). FA: Mike Klein. Alip (5.13b). FA: Matt Twyman. Rotten Oasis (5.13c/d). FA: Rupesh Chhagan. Backslider Direct (5.12d). FA: Rupesh Chhagan. Left of Backslider start. Climb straight into Backslider finish. Unnamed (Project). Bolts through the center of Backslider. Singularity (5.13a). FA: Matt Twyman. Stickbug (5.13d). FA: Rupesh Chhagan, Mike Klein. Cinching up the Rootlock (5.13c). FA: Rupesh Chhagan. Dreamkeepers (5.13b). FA: Mike Klein. Brainstem (5.14a). FA: Rupesh Chhagan. Right of the brain-shaped tufa. Left after the bulge to finish on Dreamkeepers. Evolution of Choss (5.14a). FA: Clayton Reagan. Start Brainstem. Go right and finish on Too Many Donuts. Too Many Donuts (5.11). FA: Mike Klein. Left of Ship of Fools. Block Party (5.13a). FA: Mike Klein. This climb traverses the roof 100 yards left of Jade. Perma-draws.

HOUSE OF PAIN Next steep, fern-festooned buttress right of the Insect Wall. Bastard in the Brothel (5.11a). FA: Rupesh Chhagan. Right of Ivy League. Climb dihedral and traverse left of roof to face. Catharsis Roof (5.12c). FA: Rupesh Chhagan. Start Jade but stay left.

Gut Punch the Buddha (5.9). FA: Curtis Mai, Todd McCray.

Herbivore Connoisseur (5.11a). FA: Rupesh Chhagan. Farthest right route.

Unknown Name (5.11). FA: Dave Phillips. Fat Chicks Tryin’ To Be Sexy (5.10a). FA: Curtis Mai, Todd McCray. Hot Dance (5.9). FA: Curtis Mai, Todd McCray.

PROTOYPE WALL Tallest wall (50 feet) at the ranch. Very popular. The ReKleiner (5.13b). FA: Rupesh Chhagan. Right of Bongo Fury.

INSECT WALL Concentrated hard climbing on a bulging buttress. The Three Slackateers (5.11c). FA: Rupesh Chhagan, Bonner Armbruster, Marisa Hinton. Left of Crack Attack.

Spanish Fly (5.12c). FA: James Harrison. Climb the left side of the steep wall. Irreverant Spoof (5.14a). FA: Rupesh Chhagan. Climb Irreverent Youth, but don’t traverse right to rest on House of Pain after the bulge. Irreverent Youth (5.13d). FA: Clayton Reagan. Left of House of Pain. Lord of the Dance (5.13a/b). FA: Matt Twyman. Bolts right of House of Pain.

Deflower Power (5.12a/b). FA: Rupesh Chhagan, James Harrison. Right of Power Pig.

Pearl (5.11c). FA: Mike Klein. Just right of Velcro Rodeo.

Dragonfly (5.12d). FA: Wayne Crill. The first route to tackle the bulge proper.

CRANKENSTEIN WALL Next wall right of House of Pain Wall.


Malaria (5.13a). FA: Mike Klein.

Just right of the Prototype Wall. Routes start off the ledge.

Mantis (5.13b). FA: Rupesh Chhagan, James Harrison.

Dude, Where’s My Hammer (5.11b). FA: Luke Bowman, Tommy Blackwell, Evan Jackson. Left of Teenage Parties.

Crack Smack (5.9). Curtis Mai, Todd McCray. Right of I Speak for the Trees.

Scorpion Child (5.12c). FA: Joe Sulak. Marked by the black tufa on the headwall.

Die Hard (5.10a). FA: Luke Bowman, Tommy Blackwell, Evan Jackson. Right

32 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE



Angular Momentum (5.11c). FA: Karl Guthrie. Start on Jade and traverse below the roof following the bolts right to the last bolt of Spanish Fly. Finish on Spanish Fly.

SUPER GUIDE of Teenage Parties. Climbs the obvious dihedral to the left of a small tree.

2004. Traverse blocks and edges left to right below Uranus. Bolts. 60 feet.

More Wasabi (5.12c). FA: Karl Guthrie. Right of War on Rugs.

Located below the cabin at the Planetarium campsite.

Santeria (5.11c). FA: Unknown. Start on Gang Bang and traverse left after the dyno.


Bride of Crankenstein (5.11b). FA: Karl Guthrie. Left of Crankenstein. Scary 7-11 (5.10). FA: Unknown. Right of The Munchies. Large crack system full of poison ivy. Bolt Happy (5.11d). FA: Dave Phillips. Start off boulder right of Wife in the Fast Lane. Traverse the ramp to the fourth bolt. Bolted Like Reimers (5.10b). FA: Steven Shortnacy. Face left of Backoff Crack.

Exit Strategy (5.11) FA: Eric Patrick; 2005. Cool bolted, thin crack. 80 feet.

DEADMAN’S CANYON This side canyon is home to some of the best bouldering at The Continental, as well as a few notable adventure climbs on the 300-foot wall. Because of the remote location, the owner of the ranch has requested that this area be visited only when a handpicked crew of individuals are present. Visit for contact information to determine when Deadman’s Canyon is open and how to find it.

CONTINENTAL RANCH Like Reimer’s, The Continental is a privately owned ranch. The resemblance ends there. Unlike the diminutive Reimer’s, The Continental features lofty cliffs (up to 300 feet) and a different type of limestone that has been compared to the fabled French cliffs at Ceüse. The climbing is located along the banks of the Pecos River and in the numerous side-canyons that branch off the river. Only a fraction of the 17 miles of cliff has been developed. Since the Continental Ranch is located in the Texas desert, visit only in winter.

WEIR DAM SECTOR The Alchemist (5.12b). FA: Jeff Jackson; 2004. Start The Wing and turn up the steep wall, following the hourglassshaped double cracks. Bolts. 70 feet. Fly By Night (5.10). FA: Dave Phillips; 2004. Starts with The Wing and climbs the cracks 25 feet left of The Alchemist. Bolts. 60 feet.


KARL’S CRACK PALACE Recently discovered area a few minutes upstream from the main wall, on the campsite side of the canyon. Potential for a handful of good, traditionally protected routes. Spooky Dookey (5.8). FA: Jeff Jackson, Karl Guthrie, Eric Patrick; 2005. Climb the dihedral on the right side of the wall. Gear: standard rack, extra fourinch cams. 100 feet.

Open Project (5.13+?). A beautiful, bolted 70-foot line left of Flotsam (5.13b) awaits the right suitor.


THE PLANETARIUM Cave at the far right of the Weir Dam Sector.

Tito’s and Dog Cactus (5.10+). FA: Karl Guthrie; 2005. Leftmost climb on the wall. Bolts. 80 feet.

Uranus (5.11+). FA: Eric Patrick; 2004. The upper of two traversing lines that climb out of the right side of The Planetarium. Follow the seam left to right.

Kingfisher (5.11). FA: Patrick O’Donnell; 2002. Brilliant route climbs thin edges to a thin, arching seam. Finishes in a distinctive spray of pockets. Bolts.

Astro Glide (5.10c). FA: Eric Patrick; 34 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE

300-foot wall across the river from the campsite. You can’t miss this one.

(continued on page 36)


ACCESS Take Highway 90 through Del Rio and turn right on Highway 1024 just past Comstock. Look for Continental Ranch sign on the left, 10.8 miles down the road. Turn left and enter the ranch. See Rock and Ice No. 132 or visit for complete information, directions to the various sectors and topos.

[CRAG DU JOUR ] 16Z, not just another red dirt road


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OUTSIDE NOWHERESVILLE, COLORADO, INDIAN-CREEK-LIKE CRACKS ABOUND—YOU JUST HAVE TO FIND THEM THINK OF DESERT crack climbing and you imagine Southeast Utah: Moab and Indian Creek are justly famous. The cracks there are almost uniformly stiff, however, and often crowded, while across the nearby Colorado border are quiet crags with crack and sport climbs for all abilities. Situated between Colorado’s jagged San Juans and the snowy La Sal mountains of Utah, the “West End” is a sparsely populated region of countless cliffs. 16Z, named for its access road, is a series of Navajo Sandstone cliffs scattered high above Big Gypsum Valley. The established climbs are short (40 to 110 feet), but, move for move, high in quality and variety. 16z’s cracks are moderate compared to Indian Creek, most landing between 5.7 and 5.10. Several seriously challenging and classic cracks, however, include the stunning Big Enchilada (5.11), the MARK DEAN ON THE SPLITTER (5.10), 16Z, SOUTHfierce Tape Ten (5.12) or the intriWEST COLORADO. cate Them Changes (5.11+). Sport routes, slightly outnumbering crack climbs, range from the fun 5.6 Cloud Tower to crimpy testpieces like Uncharted Waters and Blackbird (both 5.12), with many 5.10s to 5.11s. The sport routes at 16Z tend to be crimpy and intricate, on edges and shallow pockets. The area offers well over 100 routes, with many more to come.

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WHERE 16Z is within two hours of Telluride, Cortez and Moab. From the small community of Basin (on Colorado Highway 141 between Dove Creek and Naturita) take Utah State Road 29 west for 15 miles to the intersection with Road 16Z. Follow it southwest for 3.8 miles to the parking area and campground. A high-clearance vehicle is recommended for the final few miles of Road 16Z. WHEN All year (many routes are shady), but fall through spring are best. The best months are March and April, and October and November.

Helix Series

RESOURCES The Wild Wild West, by Charlie Fowler and Damon Johnston, records


routes at 16Z and other area crags. See

MUST-DOS The Boy Scout Crack (5.7), Sleeping Beauty (5.9+), The Splitter (5.10),

Through The Looking Glass (5.10, 2 pitches), Red Bull (5.11), Forever Youngstrom (5.11), Divine Intervention (5.11), Them Changes (5.11+), Z-nophobia (5.12).

- Ziplock ultra-safe buckle - men’s or women’s fit - ‘batwing’ contoured belt - adjustable / fixed leg versions -15kn haul loop / 25kn belay loop - five gear loops

CAMPING Excellent free camping is within walking distance of all climbs; bring plenty of water and your own firewood. —CHARLIE FOWLER

JUNE 05 | R O C K A N D I C E . C O M 35 Excalibur (801) 942 8471

SUPER GUIDE Gut Shot (5.11+). FA: ? This incredible, overhanging crack, 200 feet right of Kingfisher, was bolted by Scott Melcer in 2002 but still awaits a clean send. Two pitches; 200 feet. Papa Likes (5.11). FA: Kirk Holladay, Brian Wann; 1999. One long pitch up a corner system right of Gut Shot. Bolts. 160 feet. The Phoenix (aka Death by Bees and Choss) (5.11). FA: Jeff Jackson, Patrick O’Donnell; 2003. Tackles the left side of the big wall. Chossy first pitch (5.10+) to good ledge. The second pitch is a nice 5.11 that ends at the base of a long, hand crack. Unfortunately, the crack is home to a hive of bees. Bolts. Two pitches; 200 feet. Windhorse (5.11). FA: Jeff Jackson, Eric Patrick; 2004. A fine, adventurous outing with exposure and spicy pro. Access from the top. Two rappels deposit you on a foot ledge with a bolted anchor 150 feet above the canyon floor. P1: Climb a finger to hand crack. Angle left at the obvious see-through block and follow a discontinuous crack to the anchor at a ledge (5.11). P2: Climb the crack to the canyon rim (5.7). Variation: Continue over the see-through block and follow a discontinuous crack to the anchor (5.11). Gear: standard rack with extra runners for threads. Two pitches; 200 feet.

Spaced (5.8) FA: Jeff Jackson, Eric Patrick; 2004. Find the top anchors roughly 200 feet right of Windhorse and rappel 100 feet to a bolted anchor. Climb the left-angling wide flake and discontinuous crack to the canyon rim. Gear: standard rack with extra fourinch cams.

BELLY BUTTON BOULDER Massive, 70-foot boulder below Gut Shot. Dirt Nap (5.11). FA: Eric Patrick; 2002. Climb the left-hand bolted route on the canyon side of the boulder. Worm Dirt (5.11). FA: Eric Patrick; 2002. Climb the right-hand route on the boulder. Bolts. Arete Project. The bolted line on the wildly overhanging side of the boulder.

ENCHANTED ROCK This collection of seven pink granite domes was the first developed climbing area in Texas. Characterized by immaculate stone with large feldspar crystals and numerous clean cracks, “E-Rock” is a granite anomaly in the Central Texas limestone hill country. Visit erockonline. com to order Sean O’Grady’s Climber’s Guide to Enchanted Rock. ACCESS Drive west on Highway 290



harnesses simply best! est! he b i m p l y tthe s

gear slings

climber: brian mccray photo: james q. martin climb: lost in america

haul bags etriers ladders screamers daisy chains rope buckets slings Yates Gear Inc. 800-Yates-16 online product guide at 36 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE

SUPER GUIDE through Fredericksburg. Turn right on Highway 965 and look for the giant pink, granite domes on the left about 18 miles from Fredericksburg. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is roughly two hours west of Austin.

KINGDOM OF ZILCH Actually, the name couldn’t be more wrong. Premier area above the parking lot.

M E R R I C K A L E S ( L E F T ) ; S E A N O ’ G R A DY ( R I G H T )

Geisha Girl (5.12b). FA: Jeff Jackson; 2005. Climbs the thin face and right arete of the 60-foot boulder across the canyon from Blade Runner. Four bolts; 60 feet. Solo (5.7). FA: Unknown. This is the classic route on Solo Boulder. Three bolts and an anchor have recently been added so that the line is no longer a solo. Bolts. 60 feet.

MOTORBOAT ROCK AREA On the slopes of the Main Dome above Echo Canyon. Where’s Chisos (5.11). To the right of Orient Express. Not yet bolted, but approved. A favorite toprope, now gets the nod for bolts. George of the Jungle (5.12a). Excellent route located on the 70-foot boulder known as Rappeler’s Rock adjacent to Motorboat Rock. Karl

Guthrie received permission to bolt this route, which begins on Tarzan Was a Bluesman (5.10+ X), and moves left to a thin undercling.

SOUTH AMERICAN AREA In the canyon between Freshman Mountain and Buzzard’s Roost. Euskadi (5.13b). FA: James Harrison; 2000. Thin edgepulls up the face opposite South American Crack. Bolts. 45 feet. Welcome to Boot Camp (5.12b). FA: Scott Steiner; 2001. More reasonable crimping right of Euskadi. Bolts. 45 feet.


SEAN O’GRADY COMES TO GRIPS WITH SEAM OF DEATH Compound Fracture (5.11R) (V3). THOUGH KNOWN AS A TRADITIONAL FACE/SLAB FA: Jeff Jackson, 2005. AREA, E ROCK ALSO HAS NUMEROUS, PRIME GRANITE Climb the horizontal fracBLOCKS AS SEEN HERE. ture uphill from the boulder La Realidad (5.12b/c). FA: James Harproblem Cactus Housing rison; 1999. Climb the face just left of Authority (V2), just downhill from P. G. 13 (5.10). Bolts. 40 feet. Cock Rock. Start sitting at the left side of the crack to up the ante. This Mausoleum (5.12b). FA: Scott Steiner; 30-foot problem was rehearsed on 2004. In the boulders below Fear of toprope prior to the lead. High qualFlying. Highly recommended. Bolts. 30 feet. ■ ity. Gear: small TCU.

JUNE 05 | R O C K A N D I C E . C O M 37


Rob D’Anastasio Brings It This dude totes his Philly flair and magnetic cockiness wherever he travels. Lean, but packed with muscle, "Robbie D’" constantly finishes in the top five in national comps and has climbed V13. Tim Kemple caught up with this cranker after the ABS Nationals in Boulder to find out what makes him tick. YOU ARE KNOWN FOR MAD BOULDERING AND COMP-CLIMBING SKILLS, BUT DO YOU EVER TIE IN? Robbie D': You mean like bolt climbing? Cause I did this one route, Laurel, at the Gunks once. It's like 5.8, but real stiff. Roommate Mike ‘Brick’ Fienberg: That thing is like 5.6, and the crux is right off the ground. Robbie D': OK, but it’s stiff for 5.6. YEAH, RIGHT. HOW ABOUT A FAVORITE PROBLEM? Robbie D': Mojo, in Hueco (A short, dynamic V10 that lacks a topout). Brick: SERIOUSLY?! Robbie D': Wait I take it back. I’d have to say Mana (V13 in Australia). (Brick seems satisfied.) SO WHAT’S IN THE MP3? Robbie D': All rock n’ roll. Bob Dylan, Stones, Beatles. Most of my friends listen to the same stuff. We all like good music. 38 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE

YOU’RE STUDYING ENGINEERING AND ARCHITECTURE. WHAT’S THE HAPPS WHEN YOU ARE DONE? Robbie D': Well, I’d like to say I’m going to put my $100,000 worth of education to good use, but I will probably just work construction like I have in the past. I like concrete the best … pouring concrete, demo-ing concrete. Brick: Some people say Rob’s head is made of concrete Robbie D': Seriously, I think it’s the best way to climb hard and make money. It’s hard to be a full time climber and pay the bills. —TIM KEMPLE

ROBBIE D’ VITALS Height: 5'11" Weight: 150 pounds Ape Index: Plus-2" Forearm Girth: 14.5 inches Wisdom Teeth? Yes Need to be Removed? No Candles on last birthday cake: 21

Like the yellow lines bisecting twolane highways, which remind you to stay on your side of the tarmac and not smash into that oncoming Up With People van, or short bus packed with hymn-chanting Texas church kids, gym lines are for your safety. You are not supposed to climb above the line because a bouldering fall from any higher would undoubtedly turn you into pad pizza. The line height is inconsistent because some rock-gym owners are soggy milquetoasts, i.e., they’ve been cowed into a constant state of waiver-waving paranoia by an increasingly litigious America. Think I’m kidding? Try this little test: Next time you’re climbing inside, go above the line. Sirens will sound, alarm bells will ring, lights will flash and you will be beset by the hounds: a snarling, slavering pack of lawyers ready to sue, counter-sue, appeal, file writs of habeas corpus, etc. should you so much as slip and scuff the nail on your precious little pinkie toe. GOT A QUESTION FOR JIM RATT, WELL, DO YOU, PAL? EMAIL HIM AT JRATT@ROCKANDICE.COM.




[ DO WNWARD BOUND ] “This feels like an easy version of a hard route.”

Geoff Weigand, after dogging Living in Fear, a sandbag 5.13d at Rifle.

“This feels like a good second-try route.” Weigand, again, on Living in

Fear. (Number of times he attempted the route after that: zero.)

“[Yuji Hirayama and I] also had to face minor and major injuries, such as cuts in the forefingers ... a strained shoulder ligament and severe lesions to the fingers … ”

François Legrand explains why, in 2001, he was unable to send any of America’s hardest sport routes.

“We found the route very dirty and damp. We had to clean and dry ... before really being able to climb … and while trying its moves, we also broke off many fragile holds which had not been strengthened by the climber who equipped it … ” Legrand’s justi-

fication for mining out a bidoigt on Tommy Caldwell’s all-natural Kryptonite (5.14d), the Fortress of Solitude, Colorado.

“This is the worst possible physical activity ever.” Girl to father forcing her to toprope in the sun on a 100-degree F day in Maple Canyon, Utah.

“These days you have to lose everything to get any attention!”

A humorous Warren MacDonald, double amputee, when told about the new book Life and Limb, written by quadruple-amputee climber Jamie Andrew.

“The reason we didn’t rate [our climb] was because we wanted more climbers to repeat the climb and confi rm a grade before actually giving it one.” Jared Ogden and Ryan Nelson, in a letter to the editor (page 12 this issue) criticizing Rock and Ice for publishing an M12+ rating of their mixed climb Jedi Mind Tricks.

“Well, it sure seems like your jaw is warmed up.” Jimmy Surette to Bobbi Bensman, who was loudly lamenting the lack of a proper warm-up at early 1990s Rifl e.

“Enjoy it today, cuz it’ll be gone tomorrow, you pussies!” Anti-

sport faction yelling from the road at new-routers at the Gallery, Red Rock, Nevada, in the late-1980s.

and we can climb outdoors again! 40 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE


And after all winter in the crowded gym it is so sweet that it’s finally spring ...


climbers went head to head at the American Bouldering Series (ABS) Nationals, held at The Spot bouldering gym in Boulder, Colorado. On Saturday night, February 19, amid the techno-beats of DJ Chuck, 350 roaring spectators and billowing clouds of chalk, 15-year-old local Daniel Woods dominated the men’s comp while Portia Menlove, 17, from Salt Lake City, Utah, took the women’s. All was not strolling for Woods, however. AfCOMP KILLA’ DANIEL WOODS. ter taking an 18-foot fall onto his shoulder from the last, fourth problem, Woods told himself, with just 1:40 left on the clock, “OK, Daniel … you have to dyno now.” Eschewing that problem’s cruxy, highball crimps, Woods launched a desperate five-footer to snag the top, screaming with primordial rejoice. He had won by 270 points, earning a cash prize and a spot on the U.S. National Climbing team (as did the top-three fi nishers for men and women: Woods, Mike Feinberg and Matt Segal will represent the men; Menlove, Lizzy Asher and Alex Johnson will represent the women). Portia Menlove’s victory was even more dramatic. Despite just eking past Friday’s cut with a 13th-place fi nish, she flashed three of the four fi nals problems, leaving spectators awestruck, especially when she became the fi rst woman to tick the coveted “number six” problem, an airy highball with a thin crux about 12 feet up. When she snatched the lip, the crowd erupted, shaking the building with claps and screams. “The problems totally separated the competitors really well,” said Stephen Jeffrey, who fi nished 13th overall. An intense qualifying round on Friday, February 18, narrowed 112 competitors to just 41. The format gave everyone five minutes to attempt each of the four problems, with five-minute rests in between—flashes were awarded bonuses, while points were deducted for falling. The fun continued post-comp. Alexis Ashley, a Boulder local, belly danced for the crowd. With pink lace and an ornate costume, Ashley mesmerized onlookers with inverted bridge moves and a captivating smile. Perhaps there will be an American Bellydancing Series in the future? When the chants for Ashley settled, two DJs spun their magic to fi re up an orgiastic party with beer, spirits, dancing, a slideshow and various public spectacles that ran well into the wee hours of the Boulder night.





JUNE 05 | R O C K A N D I C E . C O M 41






April 2, 2005


USA 2005 Spring Sting Climbing

Santa Fe, NM - USA


April 9, 2005


USA Climbing

Ft Collins, CO - USA


April 9, 2005


USA Climbing

Tacoma, WA - USA

April 17, 2005


USA Climbing - Toprope

Lincoln, RI - USA

April 30, 2005


USA Climbing - Difficulty

Frisco, TX - USA


May 1, 2005


USA Climbing - Bouldering

Lincoln, RI - USA

Bricktown Pulldown II

Arcadia, OK - USA

May 15, 2005


US Climbing Regional

Colorado Spgs., CO - USA

May 15, 2005


USA Climbing - Bouldering - Toproping & Climbing Team Benefit Party

Lincoln, RI - USA

May 29, 2005


USA Climbing - Regionals

Lincoln, RI - USA

June 4, 2005


Junior Divisional

Tigard, OR - USA

June 5, 2005


Canadian National Bouldering

Toronto, ON - Canada


June 6, 2005


Climbing Team Benefit Party & Toproping - Bouldering

Lincoln, RI - USA

July 28, 2005



Seattle, WA - USA

Nov. 19, 2005


12th Annual Hangdog Jamboree

Bloomington, IL - USA

May 7, 2005

To learn more about listing your competitions, please contact: ROWAN FRYER at 877-762-5423 ext. 17 or

42 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE

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Easter weekend, 2003. The rock above the Pecos River in deep south Texas shimmered with heat. “It was hotter than a two-peckered goat,” said EP (aka Eric Patrick), a 31-year-old climber from Austin, quoting a favorite Lone Star State colloquialism, “and I decided to call it quits.” He loosened his harness and kicked back on the slick-rock ledge, watching other climbers struggle with a short, but devious, 5.11d called White Light, White Heat. A few minutes later, his partner, Sean Hayden, also 31, walked over and eyed the indolent EP. “Get up, you lazy freak,” Hayden said, employing his subtle powers of persuasion, “and lead that route for us.” “I’d rather eat a cow pie,” EP said. He roused himself anyway and shuffled over to the crag. He tightened his harness and tied in. EP cast off, clawing up the warty limestone belly without bothering to step back and check out the route. A minute later, he was 15 feet up, crouching on a small ledge, seven feet above a bolt. “I was in an awkward spot,” EP said. “People were hollering at me, shouting, ‘Go for it, dude!’ and, ‘The jug’s right above your head!’ I guess I let the peer pressure get to me. At the same time, I was pretty unmotivated. I stood up without really

looking and slapped at a white spot on the rock. My hand grazed the jug, and then I was falling.” Hayden saw EP teeter backwards and instinctively reeled in slack. Since EP’s feet were still on the ledge, the tension in the rope fl ipped him upside down and his head slammed into the ramp at the base of the route. “It sounded like somebody thumped a watermelon,” Hayden said. The impact split the back of EP’s scalp and gave him a mild concussion. He was lucky. Head injuries account for more fatalities than any other type of climbingrelated injury. Here’s an analysis of the accident and a few suggestions on ways to avoid similar plunges.

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Make sure you’re psyched and ready for every lead. Any climb, even a wellbolted sport route, is potentially dangerous and can require a certain level of commitment. “I cratered because my attitude sucked,” EP said. “I’ve had four concussions [from snowboarding and skateboarding spills], and every one resulted from a lackadaisical attitude.”


Preview the route. Assess gear placements, runouts and stances before getting on the rock. Check out the route from several different angles and come up with a plan of attack. “If I had stepped back and scoped the climb, I would have seen that the jug was recessed,” EP said. “I would have noticed the runout and taken precautions.”

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Come up with a belay strategy. All climbs require an attentive belay, but some routes are particularly squirrelly. “White Light, White Heat has a funky balance move with ground-fall potential,” Hayden said. “I knew that EP might fall, so I was quick to take in slack in order to keep him off the ground. In hindsight, I should have left a touch of slack in the line to allow him the chance to hop off the ledge.” In general, it’s best never to reel in slack unless the leader requests it. Instead, give a “soft catch” by timing a hop with the climber’s weight coming onto the rope. In addition, determine where the belayer should stand. Sometimes, the belayer can act as a spotter when the crux comes low on the route.


Climbing head injuries are common. Know the signs of a serious head injury (dilated eyes, short-term memory loss, confusion, nausea) and take immediate action. Ironically, it was fortuitous that EP had cracked his head so many times before. His experience, along with that of his friends, helped him to determine that the injury was not dire. If there is any question about the seriousness of a head injury, seek immediate medical attention. Finally, wear a helmet while climbing! JUNE 05 | R O C K A N D I C E . C O M 45

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[MR . SIR ] Smith Rockin’ and Creek Geekin’ Mr. Sir muses on the meaning of it all. DEAR MISTER SIR, I’m coming to Americas in June. I want to go to Smith Rocks. I love sports climbing! Is the month of June a pleasant time for sports climbing at Smith Rocks?

month, neigh, every day, here super-suckos. In the spring, nut-knockers from Southern universities show up en masse to trundle up a “reel nayce faa ate” and to boulder on the “saweet” colluvium fecoliths. Summer temps rise to apocalyptical triple digits by 9 a.m., melting bolts and brains. In the fall, route-hording doorknobs take over, hunkering down in the Aggro Gully whilst power-swapping spray and winchywinchy topropes in hopes of solving their four-year battle royale with Bad Man’s third-to-fourth-bolt sequence. In winter, the frozen approach trail is a WI 4 ice chute, and vagabondage Euros eco-terrorize Smith with their hairy armpits, mustaches and onion sandwiches, chainsmoking between burns on Churning while they wash their bio-stained tights and “Frankie Go Bang” T-shirts in “das river wunderbar.” So, Hector, save yourself some petrolio dinero and drive to Mount Charleston instead—it’s closer to Mejico, the drilled pockets are tres ergo and you can debauch like Caligula in the amoral vortex of Las Vegas when you’re sick of the climbing. Arriba, arriba, vamos!



Si, si, besides being my local terra ferrata, Smith is a historical “sports climbing” area, home to America’s first 5.14a, To Bolt or Not To Be, and 5.14c, Just Do It (both established by the same unctuous Frenchman). In the mid-1980s, it was the bi-curious of American free climbing, drawing the world’s finest, from Gullich to Moffatt to Raboutou to Mr. Sir. Those days of top-shelfing at this backwater crag, have, however, long since gone the way of Brad and Jen (and Charlie and Denise, and Britney and whoever). Today, 85 percent of the park’s clientele are weekend warriors and sub-5.10, no-clue newbonicals. Porque las Piedras di Smith no estan mas popular? The problem is multiplex. Sport climbing should be a precision endeavor with manly movements and plentiful bolts. Smith Rocks has a modicrumb of those, but, alas, is awash with hordes of wool-sock hacky-sackers waging mass blitzkrieg on any route worthy of a real try. Additionally, para tu information, Hector, there is no bueno time at Smith Rock. Every

46 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE

DEAR MISTER SIR, I love my boyfriend, but he’s such a spraylord. Every time we go to Indian Creek, I end up leading the 5.12s and he just topropes them. Yet, back at camp, he always

spews to his “bros” about how he sent all these hard pitches, never mentioning that I strung the damn rope up! It makes me so angry! I want to call him on it, but I don’t want to come off like a bitch or an ego freak. What should I do? CHRISTY R., DENVER, COLORADO

Go ahead, Christy, be a BITCH (Babe in Total Control of Herself). You deserve to—your boyfriend is the one who’s the limp rod. Next time he spends a day at the Creek coasting on your TRs, beat him to the drum

and/or spray circle that night and intimidate to his friends that all he did that day was get rogered on the dull end. Employing this sneaky back-ofthe-backdoor downspray will sic his pals on him for being such a wonking poseur. Once the mud starts flying, astutely Sheppard the conversation to “Just how many 5.12s at the Creek have you led?” and watch the slander eruptify. Sweet, sweet Vindaloo will be yours. Please email the sage and venerable Mr. Sir at with your questions.

Attention, packrats! Tell us in 100 words or less why it’s time to “Pack it in,” and win a free 2005 Mammut Pack. See page 27 for details.




Living with a VSC



“I think I have a cold,” I announce. “Darling!” exclaims my husband. “I’d better take some vitamins.” He swallows two multi-vitamins, two Echinacea, a super C and goldenseal. “What do I take zinc for?” he asks, rooting among the bottles. “Compassion and empathy,” I reply.

He looks momentarily disconcerted and then swallows two. Just in case. It’s not that my husband doesn’t care that I am sick. He does. Passionately. He is this close to sending his project—and a cold at this point would be disastrous. It would serve him right, but I realize how dreadful my life would become if he lost any Training time. Living with a Very Serious Climber (VSC) is not easy. Life falls into two categories: Diet and Routine. Actual climbing is pretty far down the list. (Don’t confuse climbing with Redpointing, Training or Training For Training.) I’ve been climbing for over 10 years—did my apprenticeship on “VS” in Britain, spent three winters at Hueco and sport climbed 5.12—but our different views of the sport mean that we rarely climb together anymore. 48 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE

Recently, I suggested that we just go to the crag and enjoy ourselves. VSC looked at me as though I had suggested he lose weight by sawing off his leg. The hardest thing about living with a VSC is Diet. I like to cook and like to think that I am rather good at it. Truth is, I have learned to reject any obviously “bad” recipes, such as roast chicken in Gruyere—stock, wine and cream, with just a dash of Pernod (add some chopped tarragon and a handful of rough bread crumbs, and pop in the oven until bubbly and crispy)—and save them for when he goes away on climbing trips. When VSC is home, I concentrate on the “good” cuisines of the Far East: sharp, clean flavors of lime, ginger and chili—with not a gobbet of fat in sight.

VSC’s favorite meal, mind you, is a huge rare steak with a sprinkling of salad. “Steak,” he informs me, “is a great natural source of creatine.” A weird dichotomy exists between the diet VSC follows and the one he thinks he follows. “I’m not really a bread or pasta person,” he once solemnly told me. Yet each day we go through roughly half a loaf of bread plus various bagels, tortillas and pita pockets. For two years, I took him at his word about the pasta, then, suddenly having a hankering for spaghetti al’ arrabiatta, threw caution to the wind. “Why don’t we ever have pasta?” he mumbled, hoovering it up. “I love pasta!” This dichotomy extends into tangential areas of his life as well. Last week he proudly announced that he had “a totally Zen lifestyle.” I pointed out that owning nine pairs of climbing pants hardly qualified as Zen minimalism. “But they’re all black!” he said. We also have Routine, and it is as important as Diet. At the moment, VSC does two days on and two days off. This is because he is in Redpoint mode. Redpoint mode is different from Training mode, or, for that matter, from Training for Training mode. Redpoint Mode goes like this. Day One: Try to redpoint The Project. Day Two: Train on an exact replica of The Project that you have built on your climbing wall. This can be varied only if the first redpoint attempt is so wildly dreadful that Day One gets reclassified as a “Working The Moves” day. Day Three is a Total Rest Day, when even unpacking the dishwasher is out of the question. Day Four is My Body Is A Temple Day and very strict. Run, stretch, hot tub, no alcohol, early night. All necessary steps are taken to prevent Day Four from coinciding with any Denver Broncos games, ever. Training Mode is the same as Redpoint Mode, except you only climb routes and gym problems that you have ruthlessly wired and can do with ease. The benefits of climbing a route you have already climbed are beyond me. If you can do it, you can do it, right? “That’s not the point,” explains VSC. “‘Training to failure is failing to train.’” Training for Training Mode is a difficult concept for the layperson to grasp. Training for Training is what you have to do to be fit enough to Train. Usually this means desperately clawing your way up a route you have done a million times, screaming, “Why am I so shit? What is my problem?” etc., until you are fit enough to hike the route. Only when you can do your pre-training routes without getting even the slightest bit pumped are you ready for Training Mode. Training for Training is the least entertainI L L U S T R AT I O N B Y J E R E M Y C O L L I N S

ing phase in the series. (If you have ever wondered why Easy Skanking (5.12b) at Rifle is so polished, that’s because it’s part of both my husband’s Training and Training For Training sets. That’s 300 ascents, by just one person, per year.) There are rare changes to the Routine. One came up recently, on a cleaning day, when I grabbed the broom only to find that the head was missing. I found this peculiar but not really disturbing, and decided to tackle the bathrooms instead, only to discover that my bucket and rubber gloves had vanished. Now this was really odd because, although in my heart of hearts I knew that VSC was at the bottom of all this, I could not imagine how. I am sorry if this sounds sexist, but he does not clean much around here. I took a closer stock of my environment and found other small discrepancies: where were the plastic yoghurt containers from the recycling pile? Where was the hammer I had put out to remind me to fix the clothes dryer? I challenged VSC with these mysteries as soon as he walked in the door. “Oh, they’re in my car.” After several moments of pointed silence he grasped that this explanation might not be entirely adequate and in rather a hurt tone said, “The Intifada, darling.” Perfect silence. “My route! My route at Rifle!” Good. God. Of course. The bolting moratorium at Rifle has just been lifted and VSC was bolting his new überclassic of this name. However, this still didn’t, in my mind, clear up the cleaning-products business. “Well, I’ve been cleaning it,” he said. By which I divined that we were now in the rare situation of being not just in Redpoint Mode, but in First Ascent and Redpoint Mode. I’m not going to give you the details of First Ascent Modes—because, to be frank, they’re not pretty, and can last for years. The point is that VSC enjoys working routes. When asked why, he replied that working a route was like a relationship: It took hard work, curiosity and even love to figure out the nuances and the moves required for success. By comparison, a vue was like a one-night stand. Slam, bam, thank you, ma’am. (Besides, if you only really climb close to home, a routine barely interrupted by trips for the past seven years, your opportunities for onsights are pretty much exhausted.) Eventually, the day arrives when he redpoints his project. VSC wanders around in a post-coital haze for a few days, but like any small-town Lothario, he already has his eye on another project. Back we go to Training Mode. Fiona Lloyd lives in New Castle, Colorado. JUNE 05 | R O C K A N D I C E . C O M 49



WE HATE TO ASK THIS, BUT WHAT’S THE HARDEST PROBLEM YOU’VE EVER DONE? Well, it always changes. Hardest grade, or hardest thing I’ve done? HARDEST THING FOR YOU. Hell, yeah. [First it was] this problem called The Orb (V8) at Rocktown. For some reason it was so hard for me. But I also just did this problem called Sarah (V11/12). I kept falling off the last move. That’s kinda my signature thing, to fall off the last move.


Ana Burgos Throws a Costume Party TOMMY CALDWELL says he couldn’t keep up with her, you know she’s strong. Strong, and tiny. At 4'11" and 90 pounds, Ana Burgos, 23, from Chattanooga, Tennessee, is consummately energetic: Her bouncing swagger and constant stream of “Hell, yeah!” and “Sweet!” demand more attention than her size would suggest. Yet she is somehow still laid-back. Though all ready to go climbing at Hueco Tanks, she patiently waits for others, leaning back in her camp chair. Burgos started climbing in 2000 with her boyfriend, Andrew Traylor, when friends lent her a pair of climbing shoes. At the time, she was in her fi rst semester at the University of Tennessee on a soccer scholarship. Exhilarated by her quick progress in climbing compared to soccer and other sports, she became absorbed. Burgos is now living at the Hueco Rock Ranch and studying archaeology at the University of Texas


50 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE

at El Paso, where she also works for the outdoor program. A volunteer guide in Hueco, she is unable to climb today due to a dislocated fi nger. She hadn’t noticed the injury until she bent the fi nger and it slipped to the side. “I thought I should pull on it, and it popped, so I think it’s back in place,” she comments casually to an E.R. nurse in her group. “What do you think?” The nurse, DeAnne Masin, quickly admonishes Ana not to pull on the fi nger anymore, offers her a small splint, and tells her to avoid climbing on it for at least another week. Burgos has already done all the problems punishing her group, including Mojo, a reachy V10. In fact, she has a handful of V10s and V11s under her belt. Occasionally, she chalks up and sits down at the base of a problem, until Masin warns her away. Burgos fools around on V0s, her splint clinking softly on the rock.

SO HOW ABOUT CLIMBING CHOIR BOYS IN A BUNNY SUIT? [The climber-filmmaker] Cooper Roberts wanted to film me on Choir Boys. It was one of those ones where I had fallen on the last move a lot, so I had it super dialed. I don’t even know how I ended up wearing the bunny suit. It’s a kids’ pajama suit that I got at WalMart in high school and I just bust it out sometimes.

DO YOU HAVE IT WITH YOU NOW? No, it’s old news now. But, man, I got this new costume. It’s a fire marshal. It’s for a little kid so it would only fit me. I wore it to a campfire at the ranch.

DOES IT EVER BOTHER YOU BEING SO SMALL? No … There’s too much positive to worry about being short. You either make it work or move on. I enjoy finding new ways to do things ‘cause I can’t use other beta. Hey, can I say something about Hueco Tanks’ access? Right now it feels like Hueco is back. I mean, stuff sucks in the office, but you can get guides. We just need more volunteers.



WHAT ABOUT ROUTES? I’ve tried climbing routes in the summer, but I get so scared ... Actually, not scared, terrified.


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Royal Robbins popping the cork after the ďŹ rst-ever solo of El Capitan, via the Muir Wall, in 1968.

ROBBINS 52 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE



Who Influenced

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

It might be less problematic to claw up Fitzroy in a Patagonian blizzard than to whittle down the hun-

dreds of worthy American climbers who have been

the MOST INFLUENTIAL OF ALL TIME. ¶ For starters, how do you even define “influential”? You could say

that the most influential climbers are the strongest or

most talented or most accomplished. Certainly, those

qualities carry weight, but it is possible to climb harder or faster or more than everybody else, yet influ-

ence no one. Instead, INFLUENTIAL CLIMBERS ARE


TO PUSH OURSELVES, TO CLIMB IN BETTER STYLE OR IN AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT WAY. They have the ability to transcend the status quo and shape

the future. With that in mind, the selection process is beautifully simple and boils down to answering just one question: “WHAT WOULD CLIMBING BE LIKE


ROYAL ROBBINS would not exist without Royal Robbins. The way we move, behave and even think is, 30 years after the end of his Yosemite reign, shaped by Robbins. He was the first climber to treat the sport as a lifestyle with a piousness that bordered on fanatical. He was among the first to boulder in



Camp 4, where the Robbins Mantle (5.11) on the Columbia Boulder remains a prize even today. His competitive drive was the impetus for Yosemite’s Golden Age, a period of such progress that may never be matched. In the Granite Crucible, Robbins forged the sport with a relentless, unfiltered

vision that demanded climbing on the rock’s terms. He free-climbed hard and pure, and actively promoted using nuts over pins, a novel concept in the late1960s. He abhorred drilling, and took a natural, almost spiritual, approach to the rock. On Half Dome, a monolith he could rightly have claimed to own, he estabJUNE 05 | R O C K A N D I C E . C O M 53


54 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE

caption goes here

Robbins found the climbing bold and hard, and put away the chisel out of respect. Nevertheless, this incident ushered in yet another new tactic: chopping bolts you don’t agree with. Despite the climbs, Robbins left his largest mark off the rock. A gifted author and instructor, he penned climbing’s first how-to book, Basic Rockcraft, in 1971. This slim volume, copiously illustrated by the satirist/artist Sheridan Anderson, simplified climbing’s complex gyrations, enlightening generations during a period when the dark arts of climbing were cloaked in near-Masonic secrecy. Today, Basic Rockcraft remains the most classic climbing manual ever written, followed closely by Robbins’ own follow-up book, Advanced Rockcraft. Among the hundred of thousands of us who “learned everything from Basic Rockcraft” was a mop-headed California teen who picked up a copy in the early 1970s, memorized its principles, “made my own nuts,” then hit the crags and quickly became a legend in his own right. The climber? None other than John Bachar.


can be reduced to two schools: The Robbins Institution, where breaking the rules requires an immediate rap across the knuckles, and Harding’s Summer Camp, where you fart about, climbing your own way and dropping your trousers at the establishment, ala John Belushi’s Animal House character, Bluto. This balance of the rational, good angel (Robbins) and the intuitive, bad angel (Harding) is an essential component of the human spirit, and will forever fuel the debate of style versus freedom. For that reason, the rascally Harding must be counted among climbing’s most influential individuals—you can even say that the yin of Robbins without the yang of Harding would not have been as effective, and vice versa. Harding, aka “Batso,” who died in 2002 at the age of 77, is most known for pioneering the first ascent of El Capitan, via the Nose in 1958. But his list of achievements did not end there. He often scooped his alter ego, Robbins.



lished five routes, including the world’s first Grade VI, the Northwest Face, in 1957. Robbins was the first to solo El Cap (the Muir Wall in 1968). The laundry list of firsts stretches around the globe, but most remarkable is the Salathé Wall in 1961, a serpentine, natural line that he, Tom Frost and Chuck Pratt pioneered in semi-alpine style with just 13 bolts—a hole count that remains El Cap’s lowest. Beyond the granite of Yosemite, Robbins made equally broad and bold strokes. There’s the first one-day ascent of the Diamond on Longs Peak, the first ascent of Wyoming’s big north face of Mount Hooker, the remote Grade VI Mount Proboscis in Canada’s Northwest Territories and, near Chamonix, France, the American Direct on the Dru with Gary Hemming in 1962. In 1971, in the twilight of his lengthy career, and outraged by the 328 bolts Warren Harding had used to establish the Wall of Early Morning Light, Robbins decided to erase the blight with a cold chisel. After hacking out just two pitches’ worth of bolts, however,


In Yosemite between 1958 and 1975, Harding nabbed FAs of Leaning Tower, Washington Column, Rostrum, Mount Watkins, Porcelain Wall, Liberty Cap and the south face of Half Dome. Besides being the first person to climb practically every major face in Yosemite, Harding was one of the first tinkerers. He developed the controversial dowel and bat hook to speed up drilling through blank sections. The forerunner of the portaledge, the Bat Tent, an enclosed, one-point suspension hammock, was in part his brainchild, as was the less successful “crack jack,” an unwieldy carjack sort of device he created for protecting wide cracks. Off the rock, Harding’s devilish good looks and flamboyant style earned him the reputation as a ladies’ man and media whore—in 1970, when he topped out El Cap after nearly a month on the first ascent of the Wall of Early Morning Light, 76 reporters were there to greet him. Harding. No climber before or since has made such a splash or stoked the rebellious spirit of mayhem with such passion. And try as they may, no one ever will.

MacCarthy, he took an hour and a half to work out the unprotected moves on the formation’s crux 70-foot gendarme. This section, later graded 5.5, was the hardest rock pitch in North America. Kain, in fact, found it so hard that he later ranked Bugaboo Spire as his most difficult climb.



Greg and Jeff, all cousins, and the non-related Alex— have had unique and profound influences on climbing. George amassed a string of alpine first ascents in the Canadian Rockies that remains unequaled. Greg was the gear wizard, developing a slew of technological advances such as the TriCam and was the first person to freeclimb vertical ice, in 1971. Alex climbed brilliantly and boldly until his death by avalanche, in 1999. But it is Jeff who really steered a new course. His first ascents of Telluride’s Bridalveil Falls (WI 6), in 1974, and, a year later, Grand Central Couloir (V 5.9 A2 WI 5) on Mount Kitchener in the Canadian Rockies, a route Yvon Chouinard said was the “finest ice climb yet done in North America,” laid the groundwork for the water-ice revolution. Off the ice, Lowe, the alpinist with solos of the Eiger, Ama Dablam and Pumori, was an unlikely proponent of competition climbing, but in 1988 he organized America’s first major comp, a World Cup held at Snowbird, Utah, followed by a second World Cup at Berkeley in 1990. Although no World Cup has been held in the United States since, the events sparked today’s gym and comp-climbing explosion. Finally, in 1994, Lowe struck again. Using ice tools to swing Tarzanstyle out a scrappy 25-foot rock roof at Vail’s Rigid Designator amphitheater, Lowe connected to a free-hanging ice pillar. His route Octopussy (M8) redefined mixed climbing to the point that it required a new grading system and kicked open the door for extreme dry tooling.



Austr ia in 1883 and a Canadian immigrant, Kain makes the list for being the progenitor of American climbing. In his day, Kain, a tough, daring guide, stood head and shoulders above his climbing colleagues, amassing some 60 first ascents in the Canadian Rockies, including that of the range’s highest peak, Mount Robson, in 1913. Even today, Robson’s icy Kain Face remains a coveted, albeit avalancheswept, alpine prize. Kain, who was just 9 when his father died, got off to an inauspicious, hardscrabble start, dropping out of school to herd goats and toil in a quarry to support his impoverished family. In 1904, Kain, who gained invaluable mountain experience chasing goats about the Alps, became a mountain guide. In 1910, he was hired by the Alpine Club of Canada (ACC) as a guide and emigrated. On one of his first outings, he guided fellow ACC member and government surveyor Arthur Wheeler into a rugged, uncharted region of glaciated rock towers in British Columbia’s Purcells, later called the Bugaboos. Here, in 1916, he led first ascents of North Howser Tower and Bugaboo Spire. On the latter, while guiding his friends Albert and Bess ALTH O U G H B O R N I N


and you scratch reams of first ascents and psycho (for most) free solos in practically every worthwhile climbing area from the Shawangunks to Boulder Canyon to Devils Tower to the Needles to Yosemite. But it wasn’t so much what he climbed, nor how hard (he established Yosemite’s first 5.12, Fish Crack), but how Barber climbed that changed the face of free climbing. Like Robbins, Barber was (and remains) an avowed purist who still refuses to use even cams and set a near perfect example of style and ethics in a time when the free-climbing ethos was still ill-defined. In the early to mid-1970s, Barber’s highly competitive spirit drove him to climb in an ever purer style, pursuing on-sight tactics when yo-yoing harder routes was the norm. Besides introducing a groundup, no-falls ethic, Barber’s ability to show up at a new crag and climb the locals’ testpieces drove them to train harder, climb more and in better style. Barber’s effects helped elevate American free climbing to an unequaled level worldwide. One of America’s most prolific travelers, Barber visited Australia in 1975, where, SCRATCH BARBER FROM THE LIST

BARBER JUNE 05 | R O C K A N D I C E . C O M 55

besides introducing the locals to chalk, he raised their bar three letter grades. If Australia ever compiles a list of its most influential climbers, you can bet “Hot Henry” will be on it.


IMAGE of John Muir standing alone on the summit of a peak in the High Sierra, gazing out at Yosemite’s granite steeps, his long, white beard flapping against his chest, dancing a jig to keep warm on an unplanned bivy has delighted and inspired generations of climbers. In fact, John Muir’s life story could describe the lives of many dirt-baggers today. The son of a Scottish immigrant, Muir dropped out of college to slave at odd jobs and seek adventure after an accident temporarily blinded him. When he regained his sight, Muir took off for the mountains and never looked back. He settled in the Sierra Nevada and explored that range with an energy that bordered on manic, always climbing fast, light and usually solo. Muir was one of the first climbers to explore, not to find minerals or make maps, simply because he dug the mountains. His passionate and persuasive writing, in which he espoused the intrinsic value of wilderness, directly influenced the ethics of Royal Robbins and John Bachar, and his words continue to resonate with climbers today. “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings,” Muir wrote in 1901. “Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” Words like these helped influence President Theodore Roosevelt in his decision to make Yosemite the nation’s first protected public land. Imagine climbing without that.





1983, Alan Watts slapped the final jug on a 5.12c razoredged arete at Smith Rock, Chain Reaction. In a very real way, Watts invented American sport climbing that year, not only by adopting rap bolting, a tactic widely regarded as cheating, but by blowing off the critics and climbing his own way. Photos of Chain ON FEBRUARY 26,

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Reaction and other dramatic routes at Smith—such as the seminal Watts Tots (5.12b), which had kicked it all off just 15 days earlier—soon infiltrated climbing mags and the imaginations of gymnastic-rock-climbing protagonists across the country. In correspondence with Pat Ament for his book A History of Free Climbing in North America, Watts wrote, “Almost overnight, the growing opposition to my style of climbing became just background noise … and the photogenic Chain Reaction became the poster child for a new style of climbing emerging in America.”

first 5.13, all in a style dubbed “hangdogging.” Today, working a route is common, but at the time, Jardine was reviled for sullying the sport. In 1981, Jardine stepped back from climbing to concentrate on various longdistance challenges. To date, he’s rowed across the Atlantic (3,000 miles in 53 days), pedaled his bike 6,700 miles in 92 days and developed the “Ray Way” of super-light backpacking. His innovative approach to light backpacking, detailed in his book, The Pacific Crest Trail Hiker’s Handbook, promises to revolutionize speed hiking in the same way Jardine’s iconoclastic vision once revolutionized climbing.


first specialist. At a time when most climbers were obsessed with the very big, Gill explored the very small. Eschewing the convention that dynamic movement was only for the desperate, Gill sought out lunges and perfected the technique, ushering in new levels of difficulty. In 1959, for example, his Center Route (V6/7 without the new chipped grip) at the Red Cross Boulder near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, was leagues harder than other problems in the country. In 1961, Gill bouldered the 30-foot Thimble (V4) in the Needles of South Dakota, anticipating the highball revolution by several decades. Gill was not only ahead of the game in pushing pure gymnastic difficulty, but innovative in his philosophy. Like Chris Sharma after him, Gill shied away from ratings, opting to rank problems with the minimalist B1, B2 and B3 system. In fact, Gill shunned what he called “the inflexible paradigm” of ratings and placed more value on the “aesthetic and mystical experiences” that came from an almost ceremonial approach to bouldering. He called this approach “the Vertical Path.” His admonition to “avoid immersion in the strong, beguiling current of the midstream” and explore climbing as a spiritual art was as prescient as his dedication to the little blocks in a time when the rest of the world was spellbound by the big walls. GILL WAS CLIMBING’S



inventor of the active camming units called Friends, Jardine actually perfected an idea first grokked by the Russian climber Abalakov, who showed his crude cams to the American Greg Lowe. (Lowe then took the concept and tweaked it, developing the constant-angle cam.) Yet, it was Jardine who took the unwieldy idea and turned it into reality. Now it’s hard to imagine climbing cracks without the svelte tackle we so blithely stuff into fissures. Jardine exerted influence on the sport beyond his tinkering, however. In the late-1970s, he climbed numerous cutting-edge routes such as Owl Roof (5.12c) and the Phoenix, Yosemite’s





when Lynn Hill free-climbed the Nose of El Capitan in one day. But Hill had been turning heads almost from the onset of her career. In 1979, just five years after taking up climbing, Hill bagged the first ascent of Ophir Broke, Colorado’s first 5.12, a trad route on the Ophir Wall near Telluride, Colorado, at a time when very few women were climbing, much less tying into the sharp end and sending the stoutest lines in the nation. Hill dominated the world for a number of years, reigning as the women’s overall champion on the World Cup circuit. In 1991, Hill turned heads again by becoming the first woman




to climb a 5.14, a grade supposedly unattainable for the “weaker sex,” according to Frenchman J. B. Tribout. In 1993, she freed the Nose (VI 5.14a, b or c, depending on whom you ask, though Hill graded the climb 5.13b), becoming the first person to free every pitch of an El Cap route. One year later, after focused training, she sent the Nose free in a single day, demonstrationg irrefutably that gender differences are irrelevant and talent is the only prerequisite for success in rock climbing. Her dominance of every style of rock climbing—trad, sport, comp and free big walls—leaves no room for testosterone-fueled doubt or equivocation. She’s shown us once and for all that girls rock just as hard as the guys. JUNE 05 | R O C K A N D I C E . C O M 57

Lucky Dogs WE ALL LOVE NEAR-MISS STORIES: the ones that end happily, that you can

laugh about because nothing really bad happened. But SOME STORIES ARE

MORE MIRACULOUS THAN OTHERS. Here are eight lucky tales from climbers who had the odds stacked way, way against them. CHEERS TO THEM!

of her harness during the 70-foot climb. At the anchors, she leaned out to lower—and the rope popped free. Hill plunged. Circling her arms in the air to stay upright, she instinctively looked for a landing and spotted a small oak tree left of the route. “I followed my instinct to roll slightly left,” says Hill, “tucking my body into a ball just before impact.” She whipped through the branches to land, with what a witness described as a three-foot bounce, on the exposed tree roots. She escaped with a cut in the chest and a dislocated elbow.

» Oh, Yabo. He may be no longer with us, but of course he was the king of luck, with more sketchy solos than anybody: More Monkey Than Funky (5.11c), Spider Line (5.11+) and Leave it to Beaver (5.12a), all at Joshua Tree. John Bachar watched him on More Monkey Than Funky: “Over the lip,” he recalls in vivid present tense, “he has two thumb-down hand jams … It’s thin hands, and he butters out of both jams, gastoning the side of the crack … He was whimpering, totally losing it, crying and shit like that … He starts pumping his body into the rock like he’s gonna throw, catches a flaring jam right at the last millimeter, then gives out a little laugh. He went from pure nightmare to laughing in the space of a second.” Another time, Yabo fell off the last move, at 25 or 30 feet, of Short Circuit (5.11d) in Yosemite, and landed in a bay tree that bent and gently deposited him, on his feet, at its base. Seeking, with Mike Lechlinski, a oneday ascent of the Triple Direct (VI 5.9 C2) on El Cap, Yablonski had run it out 80 feet, at 4 a.m., when he pitched. About to fall 160 feet, he stopped halfway when his rope hooked over an accommodating protrusion. Lechlinski lowered him. When he flipped the rope, it tumbled down. Randy Leavitt, then perched high above in a portaledge, recalls, “I heard Yabo’s bloodcurdling screams as he headed for his certain death. Nothing after.”

You’re struggling down a vast Himalayan face. Somebody drops the ropes. Who’d have thought you’d find others? Ask Mark Twight and pals.


» In 1988, Blanchard, Twight, Doyle and Robinson attempted an alpine-style ascent of the 15,000-foot Rupal Face on Nanga Parbat. During the climbers’ harrowing descent, Doyle and Blanchard dropped their two ropes. After downclimbing 1,000 feet, the four happened to find a stuff sack containing two ropes, 20 pitons, food and fuel, all left by a Japanese expedition three years before. The four Japanese climbers had disappeared. Recalls Blanchard, “We needed that equipment desperately, and used it for the 58 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE

purpose it had been left for. We all walked away carrying a trace of a Japanese soul.” He adds with humor, “The ropes, perfectly preserved in ice, were even the right brand for our sponsorship.” LYNN HILL » In 1989, the world champion Lynn Hill had threaded her harness preparatory to climbing the classic warmup route Buffet Froid (5.11a) at Buoux, France, when she walked 20 feet away for her climbing shoes. Wearing a bulky jacket, she never saw that she had not completed her double bowline, nor did the gentle but steady tug of a toprope pull the rope out



Russ Clune back in the day, when he “stuck” a landing in talus from about 40 feet.

THE PEOPLE ISSUE though harpooned in the leg by Daly’s crampon, downclimbed alone, in five hours, for help. Daly was rescued by helicopter after 46 hours on a ledge, during a brief break in the weather, which then closed in for a week. Still, the best bits of luck of all boil down to these: that, only five minutes after Donini reached the fl ats and the pair’s tent, pilot and friend Paul Roderick of Talkeetna Air Taxi flew by on a notion to check on them, even though he already had done so that day. Donini had also only just moved out of shadow, and owned a bright-orange Patagonia suit that he waved madly around. “That’s what Paul saw,” he says, “and he knew something was wrong.” Today Daly, who lost one foot to frostbite, remains an extremely upbeat and active amputee climber. JIM Mc CARTHY » In the 1950s, Jim Mc

Carthy, then a Shawangunks regular, later president of the American Alpine Club, was climbing with Dave Craft and George Bloom when he led up the easy fi rst pitch of Bishop’s Terrace (5.8) in Yosemite Valley. He went up a corner and across to the belay ledge at 90 feet, placing no pro, but then decided to go back and protect the traverse. Descending, he wrapped his hands around a “handy” crack set back about eight inches into the stance. Suddenly, the crack opened and half the ledge—a chunk of hundreds of pounds—sheared. He rocketed downward. Just as he hit the ground, which fortunately sloped at the base, the rope, a Goldline, came tight. It had caught behind “a really small flake,” the size of an ordinary book, at the beginning of the traverse. “How in hell it ever held,” Mc Carthy says, “I’ll never know.” He limped away with a sprained ankle. RUSS CLUNE » In 1990, due to miscom-

Malcolm Daly still counting his lucky stars six years after his miraculous rescue in Alaska.

» When Daly fell 150 feet off the last technical move of a route on the 10,920-foot Thunder Mountain, above the Tokositna Glacier in Alaska, with Jim Donini in May 1999, he broke his tib-fib on one leg and turned the talus on the other foot into powder, but lived. Though his rope was nearly chopped through, it held. Donini,


munication with a longtime partner who thought Clune was rappelling and took him off belay, Clune was dropped 35 to 40 feet off the Survival Block (thus cementing its name for evermore), in the Shawangunks, onto jagged talus. Astonishingly, he stuck the landing (“A perfect 10!” he says), staying upright. More amazing was that he sustained only a broken heel. Also present that day were Mark and Susan Robinson, both physicians. “If you’re gonna fall 35 or 40 feet onto talus,” Clune says, “you might as well do it with an orthopedic surgeon and an internist [present].”

PETER MAYFIELD » The first pitch of the

two-pitch classic Reeds’ Direct (5.10a) in Yosemite is an arching crack, a 5.9 layback about 40 feet long, looming above a ledge reached by a steep scramble of about the same length. In 1983, Peter Mayfield, then 20 and a new guide, led the pitch for a client without placing any pro. When he reached the belay ledge, the rope, normally held in the outer region of the crack by protection, was stuck below. He began walking back over the ledge to downclimb and “unstick” it. Suddenly, in a “classic vertigo moment,” he lost his balance. “At first, the rope seemed like it was sliding through,” he recalls. But then it jammed—farther down the rope, he thinks, than the original snag. Later, he would find 12 feet of sheath missing. “I fell 40 feet and hit the little ledge, and just broke my heel, but I was expecting to go all the way”—80 feet. “There’s a classic moral to the story,” Mayfield adds. “I had stayed up all night. I shouldn’t have been guiding, or climbing at all. I was transitioning from being a ‘hot climber’ into a guide. Sometimes I was still getting my thrills even when guiding. What I learned from that was to protect things. And get my kicks on my days off.”

» In 1979, six years after Jim Erickson and Duncan Ferguson freed the Naked Edge (5.11a) in Eldorado Springs Canyon, Colorado, Bowman and Sue Giller hoped to become the first women’s team up the famed testpiece. Giller was leading the third pitch when the pair’s haul line snagged. She downclimbed, and Bowman, irked at the delay, hurriedly set up a rappel with their 11mm lead line. She intended to rap, free the snag and climb back up on toprope with a belay on the lead cord. She clipped in, descended a few feet and, at a small roof, leaned back. A metal click sounded, and then she dropped, her rope with her. The rope had unclipped across the gates of her two anchor carabiners, which she had not reversed. The two women’s eyes met for a flash, as they thought: ‘She’s dead’ / ‘I’m dead.’ Twenty feet down, Bowman seized the thin haul line. At first she appeared not to slow, but after 50 feet, burning furrows into her hands, she stopped. She swung into a belay ledge and clipped in. The fall, which she would term a “wake-up call,” ended her climbing, but some felt that at the time she was the best woman climber in the world. ■


JUNE 05 | R O C K A N D I C E . C O M 59


American Women Climbers (Who Burn off the Guys)

LOOK OUT, LITTLE MEN! Cross paths with any of these studettes at the crag, boulders or gym, and YOU’LL HAVE YOUR

PRECIOUS TESTES AND MANLY EGOS CRUSHED like over-stewed peas. Owee, Mommy, owee! GENTLEMEN, YOU



LYNN HILL » Two words: the Nose. Well, three: the free Nose. It’s been a decade and change since her free-in-a-day ascent, and no one—nobody—has repeated it on lead, let alone in a day, leading some to speculate that the line, which Hill gave 5.13b, is more like 5.14b. Little Lynnie’s been burning off the guys since the Stonemaster days of 1970s J-Tree, where she hung with then-boyfriend Largo and his crew of dirtbags. She has also achieved mythical status by cementing other coups like Mass Critique (5.14a), the first 5.14 60 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE

redpointed by a woman. But her piece de resistance is and always will be her 1994, sub-24-hour free ascent of the Nose—THE greatest free-climbing achievement in the history of the sport. Period.

» Anyone who can hold her own on gritstone is totally core. Take autumn 2004, when Rands showed the Limeys a thing or two about cool nerves by becoming the first woman ever to send E8 on grit (Sectioned, E8 6c, or 5.13- X, at Wimberry), not to mention numerous highballing testpieces throughout the States. Plus, this former gymnast has the guns of Vin Diesel, allowing her to rip through any thuggy V-double-digit that gets in her way.


BETH RODDEN » Don’t be duped by her

wee stature and quiet demeanor—when Rodden gets after it, she’s as aggressive as they come, making her currently America’s fi nest female all-arounder. Rodden (aka Mrs. Rodden Caldwell) has long been leaving the boys in her wake, from on-sighting the Phoenix (5.13a)

to freeing Lurking Fear (VI, super-turbo 5.13c) to her recent fi rst ascent of a 5.14b, The Optimist, at Smith Rock. Don’t make a big to-do if she burns you off—she’s been known to do that even to her 5.15a-grimping husband. KATIE BROWN » After a lengthy layoff, little KB is still the same enduro-beast, sending 5.13s with disturbing ease and navigating techy cruxes like an ace cryptologist. Now she’s even gone trad and gotten into rope-gunning for the boys on hairy 5.11+ Eldorado seams such as Raccoon Soup. Oh, and she’s still the only female to have flashed two 5.13ds, Hydrophobia at Mont Grony, Spain, and the Red’s Omaha Beach. CICADA JENERIK » Jenerik, a mere 10 years old, has sent V10 (Lowrider, Happy Boulders); she’s also the youngest American to climb 5.13a/b (Captain Bullet, Maple Canyon). Ouch. This girl is going to be cranking the rads for years to come.


» Don’t tell Ms. Lee she’s hot. She’s sick of hearing it from all you mouth-breathing, Maxim-buying men. This Ohio native wants cred for her sends, not for her stunning looks. Beyond her beauty lies a résumé heavy with quick-fire ascents of mid-range 5.13s, including recent hikes of the 5.13c underclinging powerfest Dumpster BBQ, at Rifle, and the Virgin River Gorge’s Hell Comes to Frogtown, a sprint-for-the-anchors 5.13d.





CLAIRE MURPHY » Hey, no fair! What’s a Brit doing on this list? Her marriage last year to Tennessean Tim Bell has given Murphy green-card status with Uncle Sam, thereby qualifying her as a Yank. With that ice on her left hand, she’s become one of the States’ top female boulderers, having dispatched two of Hueco’s stoutest V11s, Chblanke and Sarah, both of which shut down countless muscled-headed, technique-challenged macho men. Murphy just gave birth to her first child, a son, Wiley Bell.

Lake City, has been busily firing sport routes at the Virgin River Gorge, including the 5.13c enduro-crimps of Don’t Call Me Dude and Captain Fantastic. Powick’s incredible endurance and flawless technique (“She climbs so precise, so exact, so beautiful,” François Legrand once said) lets her grimp circles around her husband, Kolin. “A lot of people ask me if it bugs me,” says the humbled hubby. “Are you kidding? I’ve got it made—my hot wife is a rope gun!”

» Small enough to get turned away at certain circus rides, Forte hasn’t let her diminutive 5-foot1-inch height stop her from shredding the sport routes of Sin City. A writer for Glamour, this fashionista sent Las Vegas jaws a-dropping in 2000 with her ascent of Mount Charleston’s Soul Train (5.13d—downrated from 5.14a by threatened, estrogen-challenged locals after her ascent), and has book-ended that tick with nearly 40 5.13s from Rifle to the Red.



ANGIE PAYNE » Skin monkeys in Boulder haven’t been the same since Payne popped onto the gym scene several years ago under the training wing of former World Cup champion Robyn Erbesfield. Living seemingly full-time at the tesSHE’S BACK: KATIE BROWN. tosterone-infused bouldering gym The Spot, she’s a nonstop training terror on plastic. The payoff? Placing in the top three of nearly every comp she has entered, and quietly, gracefully and humbly dominating Boulder’s grunting, shirtless poseur boys. ELLEN POWICK » Another ex-pat, this time from north of the border, this unsponsored, under-the-radar Canuck, who works full-time as an engineer in Salt



Unknowns body type: Bouldering is often powerful and reachy. Committed to climbing, Burgos lives at the Hueco Rock Ranch and, during the summer off-season, out of a pop-up camper (she just graduated from her truck, using money earned at the Hueco Tanks Rock Rodeo) as she visits various areas. A sampling of her sends includes Echstein, Purple Flowers and Martini Roof Left (all V10), Hueco Tanks, and Finger Hut (V10) at Joe’s Valley, Utah. She might be small, but this explosive climber goes big. (See Spotlight, this issue.)

» Mayo, 33, is a mild-mannered insurance-agency owner who rips it up. Hits include the Amy Couloir (about 5.8 M5 WI 3) on the 8,500-foot Aguja Guillaumet (four hours “’schrund to ’schrund,” with about 1,500 feet from there to the summit) last September in Patagonia; speed ascents of the 820-foot Le Mulot and the 600-foot Speedy Gonzales (both WI 6+), Sept-Iles, Quebec, in seven and five hours, respectively, in December; and past ascents of mounts Robson and Hunter. Among his solos are the 1,600-foot Polar Circus with Pencil finish (WI 6), Banff; Last Gentleman and Glass Menagerie (WI 5), Lake Willoughby, Vermont; and the 550-foot Positive Thinking (WI 5) at Poke-O-Moonshine in


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58 minutes car-to-car, the Adirondacks, New York. He has put up dozens of hard ice and mixed routes. A father of two and a former alpine ski racer and hockey player, the energetic Mayo lives in Northfield, Vermont, and often gets up at 3 a.m. to climb before work. “I need climbing,” he says. “I grew up as a feeble, skinny, timid kid in a community that demanded physical and mental toughness … I’m still scared and weak, I just conceal it well!” ANA BURGOS » She hasn’t been called

“the Texas spitfi re” for nothing. Burgos, 23, originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee, cranks boulder problems up to V11, though at 4'11" she has chosen the hardest climbing discipline for her


Will Mayo in M7+ heaven at Trollville, Jackson, New Hampshire.

FREDDIE WILKINSON » The ebullient Wilkinson lives in North Conway, New Hampshire, for its accessibility to all climbing mediums: “Every week it’s a choice. Just last week it was between going up to Lake Willoughby to go ice climbing, or going down rock climbing in Pawtuckaway.” So which did he do? He laughs. “Actually, neither. I ended up going mixed climbing at this crag in western New Hampshire.” (Slander Crag, it is called: “It’s our Triple X secret winter crag!”) A gifted all-arounder, Wilkinson, 25, climbed the Cassin Ridge on Denali his sophomore year in college, and Cerro Torre this past December (Compressor Route, 30 hours, no bivy) with Ben Gilmore. His El Cap hits include “on-sighting” the Nose in a Day, and he once did three El Cap routes in a week: Iron Son (A4) and two “day” climbs, Lurking Fear and Zodiac. On home turf, he leads 5.11 trad routes, puts up sandbag “M7” and hikes Grade 5 ice in the mountains. He insists the trick is having “better partners” on every medium, and credits them repeatedly.

R d in


Ana Burgos goes sunny-side up on Echstein (V10), Hueco Tanks.

Randy Puro has a go at Le Surplomb de la Mée assis Gauche (8b or V13) in Fontainebleau.

» Not many people flash 5.14, but, as Doyle, 27, of Vancouver, puts it with hilarious understatement, “Endurance is my forte.” Doyle has flashed both Millennium (5.14a) at Maple Canyon and The Replicant (5.13c) in Skaha, British Columbia; on-sighted Big Blue and Nemo (both 5.13b/c) in El Potrero Chico, Mexico; and redpointed three 5.14b’s in Canada. One, his own ADATO, is unrepeated. Doyle, 5'5" and 140 pounds, also bouldered The Egg (V11) in Squamish “after two years of working it and making up some magic beta that only works for shorter people!” He works full-time as a software developer for Idelix.

has done V11/12 in a day, more important to him is that he applies himself to every kind of rock. He mostly climbs in Yosemite and Bishop, but his job also gives him freedom to travel. Puro is part of a heck of a triumvirate. His sister Robyn, 30, of Boulder, is a dynamo who has tagged many fi rst female ascents in Colorado, such as Cerrat (V8) and Bierstadt (V10) at Mount Evans, and Hollow’s Way, a high, scary V8 at Flagstaff topped by a crux cross-body lunge. His girlfriend, Courtney Hemphill, 28, of Kensington, California, renowned for her positivism toward climbing, has done the famous Fontainebleau slab problem Duel (V11) and many other hard lines.

RANDY PURO » “Randy Puro is an exceptional boulderer, incredibly talented,” says the longtime standout Wills Young. “One of the best I’ve ever seen.” Puro is interested in routes but was hooked on bouldering from the first time a friend took him to Indian Rock, Berkeley. He found himself intoxicated by “the experience of applying myself to something I couldn’t do until I somehow could do it.” “Mad for skiing” while growing up, and later a race-car driver, the contemplative Puro, 33, lives in Berkeley and works as a computer programmer: “The shared problem-solving experience feeds me in many of the same ways as climbing.” Though others say he boulders V13 and




“My favorite quote learned in school is, ‘The way we eat determines the way the earth is used.’” Other climbs include Great Escape (V10) at Squamish, Martini Left (V10) and Sarah Sit (V11/12) at Hueco, and, in Bishop, Red Rum Sit (V10). Visiting Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah, she bit off the testpiece Copperhead (V10).

WHO? » Pidgeon first hit double digits with Zero Zero (V10) at Squamish in 2001, the summer she took off in bouldering. The Canadian climber has stuck with the genre for “the people especially” and the sport’s precision and simplicity. Today, although she would never volunteer the information, she flashes V9s (such as Old Eye in Bishop, California), but does routes as well. She prefers trad climbing, having learned in North Wales. The humorous Pidgeon, 30, formerly called Darlene but now going by her middle name (always preferred, she says, but never “enforced”), studies environmental and political science at the University of Victoria, British Columbia:

» In 2003, a group of hot climbers called Team Moab, aided by an American Alpine Club Lyman Spitzer Grant, descended upon Greenland. One was Micah Dash, now 28, who was not exactly an official resident of Moab (his girlfriend, Amelia Patterson, lived there), but spent three seasons at nearby Indian Creek in a 1978 Winnebago, “The Techno Bago.” After a resolute five attempts, he and Thad Friday “stuck it to the summy” on the fi rst alpine-style free ascent of Nalumasortoq, completing the 2,500-foot, A3 Non C’è Due Senza Tre in 21 pitches at 5.11+ R. Also on his tick list are El Cap’s Mescalito in one push (something done by only three or four teams), taking 37 hours; an El Cap-Half Dome linkup; and a free ascent of the Regular Northwest Face Route on Half Dome via an oftenavoided 5.12+ variation on the “true” Third Zigzag. Living in the Valley for four years, he climbed some 20 El Cap routes, most of them speed ascents, as well as


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Lee Sheftel on Pretty Hate Machine (5.12c), Rifle, Colorado.

Eliza Sprecher on the classic Butt Bongo Fiesta (5.13a), Rumney, New Hampshire.

belay before the 5.14a finish) and The Nyack (8a or 5.13b): “The 2004 guidebook calls it 8a, and the locals call it 7c+/8a. Whatever.” Loosely based in Portland, Maine, Sprecher in recent years has worked with children with emotional/behavioral issues or autism. Asked her profession, she says an appropriate description could be, “Currently unemployed punching bag for 8-year-olds.”

» At 58, Sheftel wolfs down 5.13s, and hopes to climb his first 5.14 this year: “But I might have to go to Maple to do it!” He has tried the 5.14a’s at his local area, Rifle, Colorado, without success, but felt encouraged on Millennium at Maple Canyon, Utah, a climb that suits him as a stamina fiend. His sends at home include The Turbo and Present Tense (both 5.13d), Huge (5.13c/d) and Cryptic Egyptian (5.13c). “Age doesn’t slow you down,” he says. “The only thing that slows you down is injury, and I get less injuries now.” Must be the years of strengthening. ■

hard aid such as Space (VI A4+). He has climbed “some” 5.13 finger cracks, “but when there are people climbing 5.15, it is not very impressive.” This summer, Dash (who is from Lancaster, California, but currently studying history in Boulder), Nick Martino and Renan Ozturk will try to “speed climb” Nameless Tower in Pakistan. He’s training by sport climbing now, he says, “trying to get some of that super-sportmonkey power for Trango.”

» Now in a language school in Nice, France, the 26-yearold Sprecher is “studying climbing, er, French,” as her boyfriend, John Mallery, puts it. Sprecher started climbing only six years ago, during a junior year abroad in Ireland, but is one of the few women to have done 5.14a. A competitive horseback rider until

she entered Bates College in Maine, she says, “I fell in love with climbing pretty much from the start, and discovered sport climbing when I got back to the States.” Sends include Strict Scrutiny (5.14a), Dark Star (5.13d) and Freezer Burn (5.13c) at her “home” crag of Rumney, New Hampshire, with 5.13a/b in “away” areas like Rifle, Colorado; Tensleep Canyon, Wyoming; and Cave Rock, Nevada. At Castillon, France, she just did Mortal Kombat (7c+, or 5.13a, to the


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V10 meistress Darlene Pidgeon.




Promising Youths (21 and under)

CLIMBING MAY BE A RAD, REBEL SPORT—but at least six of these 10 kids learned it with or FROM THEIR PARENTS. Some people are no fools, RAISING THEIR OWN ROPE GUNS. Keep your eyes on each of these bright lights. If they’re doing this much now ...

» This 18-year-old from Austin, Texas, is always “up there” at North American comps: She was second behind Portia Menlove at the American Bouldering Series Nationals in February and second at last year’s Nationals as well, and she won the 2003 Pan American Games in Mexico City. More impressive is that she goes up against the big guns: last year she was 11th at one bouldering World Cup, in L’Argentière, France, and then made the final at another, in Bardonecchia, Italy, finishing seventh in a very strong field. On rock, she has climbed up to V11 at Fontainebleau and, in a recent weekend at Hueco, did four V10s: Fern Roof, Theatre of the Absurd, Swiss Crisp Mix and Purple Flowers. At the end of March, she, Tim Kemple, Adam Stack and Janet Bergman were slated to visit Nepal on a bouldering trip and to help Porters’ Progress (, teaching Nepali kids computer skills and rope and climbing techniques to help them gain safer and better jobs on expeditions. “I’m really psyched about that,” she says. Currently living in Salt Lake City, where her sister, Alexis, 22, is a frequent climbing partner, Lizzy has deferred acceptance to Dartmouth.


» Pringle, 18, is one of the relatively few climbers to combine outstanding route and bouldering skills, a la David Graham. “His climbing style reminds me of a young Chris Sharma—power to spare,” says Lev Pinter, a top Canadian climber. To Pringle’s credit are Rifle’s Lung Fish (5.14a), fifth try, at age 15; Planet Earth (5.14a), Virgin River Gorge, Arizona, in three days; and the first ascent of the hardest boulder problem in Las Vegas, the unrepeated Clockwork Orange (V12). He has flashed V10 and V11, and on-sighted two 5.13c’s, in Siurana, Spain.



COLIN HALEY » Not only one of the most active climbers of the decade in the Cascades, Colin Haley, 20, has climbed in Bolivia; Peru; Patagonia; Chamonix, France; a bit in Korea; Alaska; a bit in the Sierras, California; and “of course, lots in Canada.” Haley has ticked many winter first ascents—such as of Inspiration Peak in February of 2003, and The Chopping Block, solo, a year later. Among his best hits are the first ascent of the Southern Pickets Traverse (VI 5.10+) in July 2003; an ascent of the 2,000-foot Cochrane-Whillans on Aguja Poincenot in Patagonia, in December 2003; the second ascent of the Waddington Traverse (VI 5.9 AI3) the following July; and Mount Robson’s dangerous north face, solo, last August. His best tick came this year, in mid-February, with his and Mark Bunker’s first winter ascent of the Complete North Ridge of Stuart (5.7 AI3 A1+), an undertaking probably attempted 20 times by various parties. Currently a student at the University of Washington, he is “trying to” study mechanical engineering: “Climbing tends to prevent me from doing as much schoolwork as I should.”

Lizzy Asher, urban cowgirl.

says, laughing, “I pretty much suck. I try to pull hard and nothing happens.” Having just graduated in philosophy and political science from U.C. Davis, he will now take a year off, climbing in Europe with his partner, Alison Winston, before entering grad school in philosophy. Alan grew up near Lake Tahoe, where he learned climbing from his father, Joel. “I can’t even remember not climbing. I don’t think I’ve taken more than a week off in maybe five years.”


ALAN MOORE » Alan Moore, 21, has been climbing since age 6, and it shows. Among the five 5.14a’s he sent last year was Father’s Day, a naturally protected linkup at Donner Summit, California. He did 30-something 5.13s, including four 5.13d’s, in one year across the United States and in Europe, and his “grand total” is nearing 100. Moore’s interests are spread “fairly equally” between trad and sport climbing. He also likes bouldering, but, he

» At last count, Lindner, the kid who was leading trad 5.10 at age 4, had done 60 5.13s and 20 5.14s. Last autumn the San Diego climber had the most successful trip to Rifle of anyone (including visitors from Europe), and he has just started the new year off right with F-Dude (5.14a) and Fall of Man (5.13b) at the Virgin River Gorge in Arizona. When we caught up with Chris, 21, in February, he had just landed in Bonair, an island off the coast of Venezuela, for a weeklong scuba-diving trip with “my pops,” who taught him to climb.


» Sean, 17, is a threetime youth world champion—even though one victory was taken away. His first such title, earned in Canteleau, France, was voided due to the presence in his system of pseudoephed-


JUNE 05 | R O C K A N D I C E . C O M 65


rine, from medication he had taken for allergies and asthma. He’d still won in speed, though. The Vancouver youth has climbed as hard as 5.14c, with Superman in Cheakamus Canyon. At the moment, he is concentrating on climbing comps, but he also still plays soccer on his school team, which placed second in the Provincial Championships. Unfortunately, he missed that game, and some others, due to climbing events, but it was his winning goal that got the team to the Provincials.

» Until February, this smooth technician, 18, from Salt Lake City (who climbed V8 at the tender age of 12) usually seemed to stand on a podium in third in national events (such as at three Boulder Brawls in a row, 2002 to 2004). She was also fourth at the Professional Climbers Association Tour Championship in Boulder last May.


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This year, however, at the ABS National in Boulder on February 19, Menlove pulled off a decisive surprise win. She adds a new twist to the women’s scene, where most bets for the event had probably been on Angela Payne. Menlove is one of a strong contingent often found doing hard problems at her home gym, the Front. “A lot of days you go into the Front and there’s more girls than guys in there,” says another climber, Tim Kemple. “A big posse—Portia, Lizzy and Alexis Asher, and Rebeckah Berry—and they’re climbing all these problems, inside and outside, too, and doing the same problems as the guys are.”

ZEB ENGBERG » Engberg, 18, of Westboro, Massachusetts, seemed to come out of nowhere to win his age group at the last Junior Nationals, but he’s actually done plenty. Between May and September last year, he clocked sends of Livin’ Astro (5.14c) and China Beach (5.14b) in Rumney, as well as three 5.14a’s and six 5.13d’s spread between home and Colorado. Known for his strong fingers, Engberg is a super-static climber: he pulls in, locks off and moves slowly to the next hold. “I frequently climb different ways than most people,” he says. “I find my own beta … since I don’t have a lot of power,” he explains. “Endurance I don’t need to work on.” A high school student, he was voted “most laid-back” in his class. Still, he is taking hard courses: advanced AP calculus, AP statistics, and physics; he is reading Camus, Sartre and Kafka. Zeb’s primary focus is sport climbing, but he also goes trad and ice climbing with his dad, Eric. “I keep an open mind while climbing,” he says. “A lot of boulderers these days are very focused and get angry if they don’t do something. I don’t even worry if I send or not.”

» Last summer, two climbers were slip-sliding in Rifle, saying no one would get up anything that day in the humidity, when Daniel Woods, then 14, absolutely hiked Lung Fish (5.14a). At the North American Championships in Mexico City last November, though Daniel barely made the age cut-off, he won in men’s bouldering; recently, he crushed at the ABS Nationals in February, taking the qualifier and the finals. Over winter break, Daniel, 15, roadtripped to Hueco Tanks with his friends, the shockingly strong posse of the youngsters Jon Cardwell, Paul Robinson and Vasya Vorotnikov—all names to watch. Says his father, Steve, who chaperoned, “The synergy was amazing.” Daniel sent 13 problems from V10 to V13, including Crown of Aragorn (V13) in an hour. He also recently sent his first V14, Circadian Rhythm in Poudre Canyon, and established Colorado’s third at that grade, Echale, in Clear Creek Canyon. The Spanish word translates to “Put your soul into it.” ■ DANIEL WOODS


» Raether, 20, excels on boulders and routes. Last year, he did


12 V12s (three in a day each, and two first ascents) and four V13s (putting up one). He’s on-sighted one V11, but only flashed another because “I’d seen a video of it.” He has done 10 5.14s and 40-something 5.13s. “I’ve been bouldering for a year straight,” he says. “[Now] I’m starting to get back in route shape … I try to mix it up with bouldering because they complement each other.” He got back on routes again because, “I need to climb on better holds. I took the most rest days ever in my life practically. A week in a row.” Originally a hockey player from St. Louis Park, Minnesota, he is now on the road, shuttling from St. George, Utah, across Colorado and Wyoming: “Probably I’ll go back and clean up some [projects] around Laramie, and in Vedawoo. I’ll spend June through November in the Rifle area and at [nearby] Puoux.” The latter, a scruffy roadside area, “will be a national destination,” he jokes, “once I get those projects.” Among his hardest sends are La Rondeur Des Tes Sein (V13) at Cresciano, Switzerland; Tomfoolery (5.14b) at Rifle; and one he put up, Cain (5.14c) at Willow River, Wisconsin (though a local climber, he says, having second thoughts about allowing Raether on his project, pulled him off easy ground at the last bolt).


Portia Menlove makes like a pretzel at the Ford Games.

buy this Sundae!


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by this Sunday..



REQUIEM Remembering 43 Climbers Who Made a Difference We climb for any number of indefinable reasons, mostly to live life, despite knowing the potential consequences of our sport. This look back at 43 superlative climbers reminds us that life doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have to be long to be fully lived.

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Had Harlin not been killed on that wall, however, at the age of just 30, his string of direttissimas and winter ascents would still be legendary.




With movie-star charisma, the powerful build of a linebacker (which he’d been) and an ambitious drive, John Harlin was America’s pre-eminent and most famous alpinist of the 1960s. Harlin, a former jet-fighter pilot and dress designer by trade, was the first American to climb the Eiger, in 1962, by the 1938 Route, and was the leader of the 1966 Anglo-American team that forged the Eiger’s second route. That line, the “Harlin Direct,” cemented Harlin’s place in history. However, had he not been killed on that wall at the age of just 30, his string of fierce direttissimas and winter ascents would still be legendary. His first ascent of the Hidden Pillar on Mont Blanc was at the time the most technically difficult route on the highest mountain in the Alps. In 1964, after several attempts at a new direct route on the Eiger, Harlin made the second winter ascent of the nearby Mönch, slashing the time from four days to 10 hours. That year he also made the first direct ascent of the West Face of the Blaitiere. Partnered with Royal Robbins, in 1965 he established a new direct line on the West Face of the Dru, and, with Chris Bonington, completed the first ascent of the Brouillard Pillar on Mont Blanc. In the winter of 1966, Harlin assembled a team that included Dougal Haston,

Chris Bonington, Layton Kor and Don Whillans, for a winter attempt on a new direct line up the dead center of the Eiger North Face—it would be the wall’s first new route since the original of 1938. The goal was to climb the route alpine style in nine days, but nonstop storms and the appearance of a German team intent on the same route forced Harlin’s camp to switch to expedition-style sieging to help ensure success. After some six weeks on the wall, the climbers had covered over three quarters of the face and were poised with fixed ropes from the ground to the White Spider, a snowfield just below the Summit Icefield. Harlin, father of two—son John Harlin III and daughter Andrea—died when a rope he was jumaring broke. In Harlin’s memory, the team completed the climb, naming it the John Harlin Route. News of Harlin’s death swept the world. Features ran in Life and the Weekend Telegraph. In 1968, James Ramsey Ullman wrote Straight Up: The Life and Death of John Harlin. Today Harlin’s son, John, climbs and is the editor of the American Alpine Journal. “When I started climbing more seriously, back in 1976,” says Harlin, “Dad was so well-known to climbers that I constantly faced questions like ‘So, back from the dead?’ and ‘Any relation to the real John Harlin?’ Between that name recognition and my memories of Dad’s anger whenever I’d fall in a ski race or end up under (rather than over) a schoolyard bully, I’ve always felt a pressure to perform better than I usually do. The upside is that sharing his name has opened many doors for me, and he introduced me to my lifelong passion for all things mountainous.”

JUNE 05 | R O C K A N D I C E . C O M 69

Sacherer relaxing in Yosemite in the 1960s.



A visionary Yosemite climber in the early and mid-1960s, Sacherer was one of the first to focus on freeing aid routes and climbing big Grade Vs in a day. His virtuosity on the rock shattered conceptions. Sacherer, for example, was about the only climber who gave Royal Robbins a run for the money. In 1961, Sacherer raced up the Steck-Salathe on Sentinel Rock in just eight and a half hours, on-sight, besting Royal Robbins’ record by one and a half hours (Robbins returned later that year, and using knowledge gleaned from his previous four ascents, smoked the route in three hours 14 minutes.) At the base of El Cap in 1964, Sacherer cranked off the horrendous squeeze chimney Ahab (5.10b), and the now-popular Sacherer Cracker, a testy 5.10 fingers to wide crack he climbed without nuts or cams. Also in 1964, Sacherer and Chuck Pratt succeeded on the first free ascent of Lost Arrow Chimney (5.10a), this country’s first Grade V. Other Sacherer free routes include the West Face of Sentinel and the Direct North Buttress of Middle Cathedral Rock. In 1965, with protégé Jim Bridwell, Sacherer reconnoitered the Stoveleg Cracks on the Nose for a possible free attempt, paving the way for the modernization of that route. Sacherer retired from the Yosemite scene, earned a Ph.D. in theoretical particle physics and moved to Switzerland, where he began ice climbing. He died at age 38 in a fall in a storm near the summit of the Grandes Jorasses outside Chamonix, France, in 1978.

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THE PEOPLE ISSUE DOC BAYNE, 49, a prolific Carolina first ascentionist died in 2002 when his hang glider crashed off Glassy Mountain, South Carolina. He was known for bold, traditionally protected routes such as those at his beloved Whitesides, and a warm, positive energy that enlivened his community.

ANDY EMBICK, 52, aka “Andy M.D.,” gained recognition for the landmark first ascent of the Northwest Buttress of Kitchatna Spire with Jim Bridwell in 1979, a route they climbed in wetsuits. Embick, an East-Coast native, moved to Alaska in 1979, and was instrumental in numerous first ascents of Valdez ice routes, including Wowie Zowie (WI 5). He also helped inaugurate the annual Valdez Ice Climbing Festival in 1981. Embick took his own life in 2003.

BEARZI, 49, was a renowned Boulder climber credited with the first free ascent of Cerro Torre via the West Face, in 1996, and for developing the “M” rating system in mixed climbing. SCOTT FISCHER, 40, was one An extreme purist, Bearzi attemptof America’s strongest high-altied Everest alpine style twice and tude mountaineers, with ascents of K2 once, all without supplemental Everest, K2, Broad Peak and Ama SCOTT FISCHER PERISHED ON EVEREST IN THE 1996 DISASTER NOW FAMOUSLY KNOWN FOR THE BOOK oxygen. Bearzi died in a fall while Dablam to his credit. The head INTO THIN AIR. descending from the summit of American guide for the ill-fated 7,646-meter Ngozumpa Kang II in Tibet Into Thin Air Everest expedition of John Middendorf, climbed the awesome in 2002 after being the first American 1996, Fischer had climbed the peak Grand Voyage (VII 5.10 A4+ WI 3) on to climb a 7,500-meter peak by a new the year before without supplemental the Great Trango Tower in Pakistan, route and in alpine style. oxygen. On his return trip to Everest, one of the world’s few Grade VIIs, and Fischer summited late in the day. MARK BEBIE, 40, one of the most still likely the most difficult, highExhausted, he was pinned high on accomplished alpinists to come out of altitude wall ever climbed. Bongard, a the mountain by a ferocious storm. the Northwest died in an avalanche, Swiss native, died in a 1994 BASE jump Fischer was one of seven to perish on in 1993 while attempting Slipstream, from a 1,000-foot backyard cliff near Everest in one of mountaineering’s a dangerously corniced ice route on Interlaken when both his main and worst disasters. Snow Dome in the Canadian Rockies. reserve parachutes failed. After quitting his job at MicroSoft in CATHERINE FREER, 37, was one of 1988, Bebie succeeded on numerous America’s strongest and most accomdifficult alpine routes, including the plished all-around female climbers. In On the difficult and feared Yosemite in 1983, she and Todd Bibler Voie Jackson on the North Face of Les Mount Robson, Cheesmond made the second ascent of the Bridwell Droites in the Alps, the first ascents of nabbed the second ascent of route Zenyatta Mondatta (VI 5.9 A5), the South Ridge of Mount Augusta and the imposing North Face. the South Pillar of Devil’s Thumb, the then El Cap’s most difficult route, a line second ascent of the Infinite Spur on that had thwarted several strong teams. Mount Foraker in Alaska and an ascent She and Bibler climbed the Diamond of Khan Tengri, the highest mountain DAVID CHEESMOND, 35, aka the on Longs Peak in winter. In 1984, Freer in the Tien Shan range in Russia. “Big Cheese,” ranks among Canada’s climbed the North Face of Cholatse in most prolific, talented and bold alpinNepal, in alpine style. Two years later, KEVIN BEIN, 39, was nicknamed the ists—though he was an ex-pat South she attempted the North Ridge of K2 and “Mayor of the Gunks” for his strong African with an early ascent of Mount Everest from the Chinese side. Freer died presence there and his helpful manKenya’s coveted Diamond Couloir with David Cheesmond on Mount Logan’s ner with visiting climbers. Bein was an under his belt before relocating to Hummingbird Ridge in 1987. active Shawangunks local who helped Calgary. In Canada, he established push standards up to 5.13 in the 1970s numerous hard, dangerous routes, ART GILKEY, 27, became ill during the and early 1980s. During a stint in South including Andromeda Strain and the 1953 American Expedition to K2. As the Dakota, in 1979, Bein established the North Pillar of North Twin, making team of seven descended the mountain, bold Vertigo (5.11+), a route that still has the second ascent of that great north attempting to save Gilkey, someone had fewer than two dozen ascents. He wall. On the difficult and feared Mount slipped, the ropes became entangled died on the Matterhorn in 1988 when his Robson, Cheesmond nabbed the secand Pete Schoening arrested the five rappel anchor failed. ond ascent of the imposing North Face. falling climbers plus Gilkey’s sled with Cheesmond attempted K2 and Everest his ice-axe belay at 24,500 feet. Gilkey XAVIER BONGARD, 30, was the first in 1986, and while he didn’t sumperished later that same afternoon, to solo many of El Cap’s most difficult mit either, he was instrumental in his either in an avalanche or, as is comwalls, including Sea of Dreams (VI team’s success on Everest’s East Face. monly wondered, by untying himself in 5.9 A5) and Jolly Roger (VI 5.10 A5), Cheesmond vanished on Mount Logan’s order to save the lives of his partners, in the late 1980s. One of the all-time Hummingbird Ridge in 1987 with the who, slowed by the rescue, would likely master wall climbers, Bongard, with American climber Catherine Freer. have died themselves. MICHAEL




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ERIC GOUKAS, 23, a Boulder area solo-

ist and crack master, died in 1986 after taking a 40-foot fall attempting a free ascent of the Pratt-Kelsey route on Higher Cathedral Rock in Yosemite Valley. The death of this young rock wizard shocked the Boulder community. RANDALL GRANDSTAFF, 44, was an influential Nevada climber and owner of The Sky’s the Limit guide service. Grandstaff established over a hundred routes in Red Rocks, near his hometown of Las Vegas, is credited with discovering Las Vegas bouldering and participated in expeditions to K2, Everest and Denali. Grandstaff fell to his death while rappelling a 150-foot cliff in Red Rocks in 2002. Pratt without a care in the world, walking the fine line above Glacier Point Apron.

JIM HABERL, 41, was swept off the

face of Mount Ultima Thule in 1999. Haberl and his partner Dan Culver were the first Canadians to summit K2, for which he received Canada’s Meritorious Achievement Medal. His book, K2: Dreams and Reality, was a Canadian bestseller.




Although Chuck Pratt lived a long, full life, he is included here because Steve Roper wrote that he was “the first consistent 5.10 climber in North America [and a] national treasure.” And so much more. Pratt’s credentials and the people he influenced read like a wish list and a who’s who. There’s the second ascent of the Nose, first ascent of the North America Wall on El Cap, and on-sight first ascents of Crack of Doom and Twilight Zone, 5.10 offwidths climbed virtually unprotected in the early 1960s. Even today, Pratt’s free routes give most climbers the trembles. Pratt, a stoic, tough warrior climber who through his daring deeds and natural ability impressed luminary climbers from Chouinard to Robbins to Robinson to Bachar ... and the thousands of clients he guided during his 22-year stint in the Tetons with Exum Mountain Guides. Pratt died peacefully in his sleep on the banks of the Mekong River during his annual winter pilgrimage to Thailand. 72 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE

GARY HEMMING, 35, aka the “Beatnik of the Alps,” was a controversial American alpinist who became a European media darling in 1966 for leading a French rescue team to two Germans trapped on the West Face of the Dru above Chamonix. This heroic effort, plus his lanky appearance and enigmatic, counter-cultural poet-climber ways made him the most famous American climber of his day, second only to his friend and climbing partner John Harlin II. Among numerous firsts, Hemming was the first American to climb the Walker Spur on the Grandes Jorasses in 1962. That same year, with Royal Robbins he established the American Direct on the Dru. With John Harlin II and Tom Frost, he introduced big-wall climbing to the Alps, establishing a new route on the South Face of the Fou in 1963. An enigma, Hemming courted yet shirked


DARRYL HATTEN was a prolific and legendary Canadian climber, gaining early repeats of hard El Cap routes in the 1970s, the first ascent of Wet Denim Daydream (V 5.9 A4) on the Leaning Tower and the first free ascent of Split Pillar (5.10) at Squamish. Hatten, an infamous rogue, was once ejected from Yosemite for riding his bicycle through the Four Seasons restaurant. Hatten died in a fall from a tree while trying to rescue a cat in 2004.

THE PEOPLE ISSUE the press. He was a pacifist with a violent temper and was kicked out of the Association of Guides (French) for insubordination. Hemming committed suicide in a campground in the Tetons—or was he murdered? The controversy over his death continues. Hemming was the character inspiration for the James Salter novel Solo Faces, published in 1979. DEREK HERSEY, 36, the consummate soloist, died in a fall on a ropeless attempt of the Steck-Salathe, Sentinel Rock, Yosemite in 1993 after a storm blew in. Hersey, an ex-patriot Brit, was revered for his light-hearted spirit and dedication to the simple life of a climbing bum. Hersey was a fixture in Eldorado Canyon where he soloed virtually all the classics numerous times, including Outer Space, Vertigo, the Naked Edge, Le Toit, Jules Verne and Climb of the Century.


ALEX LOWE, 41, one of America’s finest climbers, died in 1999 in an avalanche as he approached the south face of Shishapangma in Tibet. Lowe’s host of accomplishments in the mountains are profuse and include a first ascent of the 6,000-foot Northwest Face of Great Trango Tower (VII 5.11 A4) in the Karakoram, Pakistan; two successful ascents of Mount Everest; and several first ascents of the hardest mixed routes in North America. His prowess in the mountains earned him the nicknames “The Lung with Legs,” “The Mutant” and “The Secret Weapon.” Lowe will always be remembered by his partners for his enthusiasm for the mountains and perpetual coffee-stoked exuberance.


In one celebrated story, she burned off “Hot” Henry Barber, when she floated the crux of Wide Country (5.11) in Eldorado Canyon for its second ascent after Barber retreated. DIANA HUNTER was one of the first women to challenge the dominance of male climbers in Colorado in the early 1970s. In one celebrated story, she burned off “Hot” Henry Barber, when she floated the crux of Wide Country (5.11) in Eldorado Canyon for its second ascent after Barber retreated. Though Hunter could barely manage a single pull-up, she made up for her muscular dearth by calling upon her ballet background and careful footwork. Hunter was killed in 1975 in Rocky Mountain National Park, when she fell unroped from the top of the Cathedral Spires.


Pillar, Nemesis and Ice Nine. In 1995, Lakes was a member of an ill-fated K2 expedition. High on the mountain, Lakes, concerned by a building storm, turned back, while six others, including the Briton Alison Hargreaves and the American Rob Slater, pressed on. On his epic descent, Lakes made it to Camp 4, which had been destroyed by avalanche. After bivying with no gear, he continued his descent without a harness, crampons or ice axe. Lakes struggled to Camp 3, which was also destroyed, by serac fall. In one of mountaineering’s greatest efforts, Lakes made it to Camp 2 and his waiting friends. Exhausted, Lakes lay down for a few hours rest and never woke. Of the six climbers who continued to the summit after Lakes turned around, none survived.

BEVERLY JOHNSON, 42, died in the Ruby Mountains of Nevada in 1994 in a helicopter crash. Famous for her ground breaking ascents in Yosemite Valley, Johnson was the first woman to swing leads on El Capitan, was part of the first all-female ascent of El Cap, made the first female solo of El Cap and was the first woman to do a first ascent on El Cap (Grape Race VI 5.9 A5). She was also the first women to join the prestigious Yosemite Search and Rescue team. JEFF LAKES, 33, renowned Canadian alpinist, free soloed numerous Canadian Rockies’ testpieces including Pilsner

Mileski, with inspiration from friends, coined the term “Beta” after he and gang videotaped themselves climbing, then studied the moves on a Beta-max player. A school teacher in Dallas and then Colorado Springs, Mileski took climbing almost as seriously as his occupation and was famous for whipping off 1,000 leg lifts a day. His roster of first ascents include 5.12s in the Gunks and uncounted 5.13s in Texas, including Mr. Sir and Elephant Man. He was murdered by his estranged girlfriend, Claire Welsh, in Colorado Springs in 1997. Welsh was sentenced to life in prison without parole. DAN OSMAN, 35, was famous for his

flamboyant solos and rope jumps that consisted of paying out hundreds of feet of slack and diving off ledges in Yosemite, free falling until the rope caught him. “Dano” died in 1998 when his jump line broke.

JIM MADSEN was the first climber to

die on El Cap, when, in 1968, he rappelled off the end of his rope while attempting to reach a team of climbers stranded in a storm. Madsen was a gifted free and speed climber. In 1967, he and Kim Schmitz held the El Cap speed record, as the first to climb the Nose in three days. A year later he and Schmitz blasted Dihedral Wall in two and a half days, a feat that Robbins thought was unbeatable. REESE MARTIN, 49, renaissance man,

was on the board of directors for the Access Fund and dedicated much of his time to trail building and replacing bolts at Independence Pass, near his home of Aspen, Colorado. He died in a parapenting accident in Washington in 2004. JACK MILESKI, 38, left his mark on the language of climbing. A longtime Gunkie,


JOSE LUIS PEREYRA, 40, was a Venezuelan ex-patriot who came to the United States in the early 1980s and established himself as one of America’s finest adventure climbers. His climb No Way Jose (5.13+) near Monticello, Utah, is unrepeated and is widely regarded as one of the hardest cracks in the world. Pereyra died in 2003 when he was struck by rock fall while attempting to repeat Las Auras, a long, traditionally protected route at El Potrero Chico, Mexico. His friend Dean Potter described Pereyra as “uninhibited and pure, always ready to party, lured by the simplicity of having fun.” JUNE 05 | R O C K A N D I C E . C O M 73


throughout the world for communicating his vision of the mountains through his resplendent photographs. Rowell was also a prolific climber and author of many first ascents, mainly in the Sierra Nevada of California. Perhaps his finest route was the first free, clean ascent of the Northwest Face of Half Dome in Yosemite Valley, a climb he did with Doug Robinson in 1973 and chronicled in his photo essay “Half Dome the Hard Way,” in National Geographic. Rowell and his wife Barbara were killed in a small plane crash in California in 2002. SETH SHAW, 38, was one of America’s best though littleknown, all-around climbers. His accomplishments include soloing all the ice routes in Utah’s Littlewood and Provo canyons, and making an early free ascent of the Moonlight Buttress (V 5.12d) in THE LAST SAVAGE, WALT SHIPLEY, ON THE TITAN. Zion. Also in Zion, Shaw climbed Monkeyfinger Wall, Spaceshot and Touchstone Wall in just 18 hours with ROB SLATER, 34, a boisterous stockDoug Heinrich in 1992. Shaw died in broker with a broad, white-toothed grin, 2000 when a serac collapsed while he was the first to climb all 27 of the totterand Tim Wagner were attempting Mount ing Fisher Towers in Utah. As a big-wall Johnson in Alaska’s Ruth Gorge. climber, Slater established the horror shows Wyoming Sheep Ranch (VI A5+) WALT SHIPLEY, 41, a gonzo YOSAR in 1984 and Scorched Earth (VI 5.11 lifer whose antics on and off the rock A5) in 1987 on El Cap, routes that were were legendary. Shipley was perhaps the considered at the time among the Big only person to on-sight free solo at or Stone’s most difficult and dangerous. beyond his roped limit. In 1989 at Red Slater died in a storm near the summit Rocks, Shipley on-sight soloed Dream of K2 with seven others, including Alison of Wild Turkeys (5.10, seven pitchHargreaves and Jeff Lakes, in 1995. es), Epinephrine (5.9, 18 pitches) and Woodrow, a 1,500-foot 5.10+ on suspect TOBIN SORENSON, 25, one of Yosemite’s rock. In the Sierra, he on sight free original “Stonemasters” and the only soloed, in winter, the Keeler Needle (V member of that hard-driving 1970s group 5.10) on Mount Whitney and the Harding to die climbing. According to his fellow Route (V 5.10) on Mount Conness. With Stonemaster John Long, Sorenson was a rope, Shipley is best known for pivotal one of the boldest and most gifted climbbig-wall first ascents including The Kali ers to ever lace up. His feats of daring Yuga (VI 5.10 A4) and White Room (VI and masterful runouts on old-school first 5.10 A4) on Half Dome, Native Son (VI ascents at Tahquitz and Suicide are the 5.10 A4) and Surgeon General (VI 5.8 stuff of legend. A5) on El Cap. Shipley was also the first In Yosemite, Sorenson was the first to solo the North America Wall (VI 5.9 person to lead every pitch of Astroman A4) on El Cap, and Tis-sa-ack (VI 5.10 (in 6.5 hours), and in 1978 free climbed A4) and the South Face (VI 5.8 A4) on the Crucifix (5.12a), Tales of Power Half Dome, climbing the latter in a hell(5.12b) and Astroman (5.11c) in three ish rain/sleet storm. Shipley drowned successive weekends. At the time, this in a kayaking accident in 1999, while trilogy represented Yosemite’s most attempting a descent of the swollen, extreme level of free climbing. Visiting and ironically named, Dinky Creek in Australia in 1979, Sorenson raised the California. free standard there to 26, roughly 5.12. 74 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE

An all-around virtuoso, Sorenson was also one of the few Americans of his era to cross over into extreme alpinism. In 1977, he made the third ascent of the Harlin Direct on the Eiger and soloed the North Face of the Matterhorn in just 8.5 hours. On Canada’s Mount Kitchner, he made the first winter ascent of the Grand Central Couloir in just 35 hours. Sorenson fell 2,000 feet while attempting the first solo of the North Face of Mount Alberta, in 1981. MUGS STUMP, 50, is best remembered for his and Jim Logan’s breakthrough ascent of North America’s own Eiger, the Emperor Face on Mount Robson in 1978. A tough and driven alpinist, Stump was instrumental in developing mountaineering in the Antarctic and in Alaska, made the first ascents of the East Face of the Moose’s Tooth with Jim Bridwell and the acclaimed Moonflower Buttress on Mount Hunter, and soloed the Cassin Ridge on Denali roundtrip from a camp on the West Buttress in 24 hours. Stump died in a crevasse fall while guiding on Denali in 1992. CAMERON TAGUE, 32, a fiercely talent-

ed climber, was killed when he slipped off Broadway ledge on the Diamond Face of Longs Peak in Colorado. He had been just coming into his own: His ultra bold ascents of the traditionally protected routes The Evictor (5.13 R) and Weeping Willow (5.11+ X) in Boulder’s Eldorado Canyon signaled a renaissance in American trad climbing. WILLI UNSOELD, 52, was one of the

first Americans to climb Mount Everest, in 1963. He was a charismatic spokesperson for outdoor education, focusing on the “sacred in nature” and promoting the importance of risk and direct experience. Tragically, he lost his daughter, Nanda Devi, on her namesake mountain, then died himself two years later in 1979 while attempting a winter ascent of Mount Rainier with a group of Evergreen College students. WATERMAN, 28, disappeared in April of 1981 while soloing the unclimbed East Face of Denali, a feat declared “suicide” by park officials. Waterman’s claim to fame rests on his 145-day solo first ascent of the Southeast Spur of Mount Hunter in 1978. His epi-



GALEN ROWELL, 61, was famous



“Yabo” was one of the acclaimed Yosemite Stonemasters of the 1970s, and considered its wildest member. His stories of miraculous saves, zany antics and near-death, shakefest free solos are legendary (see Luckiest Climbers, page 58). Once, while attempting the first free solo of Joshua Tree’s Leave It To Beaver (5.12a), Yabo began shaking so violently that onlookers had to turn away. Somehow, Yabo dynoed through. Also in Joshua Tree, he free soloed Spider Line (5.11+)—a route that had yet to see a roped lead. Yablonski, a manicdepressive who cheated death countless times, took his own life.

Yabo was a one-man tribe.

sodic bouts with madness spawned public stunts that are still talked about today. Waterman’s myth is alive and well and some Alaskans speculate that Waterman staged his disappearance.


FRANK WELLS, 64, died in the same

helicopter crash that killed Beverly Johnson in 1994 while heli-skiing in the Ruby Mountains of Nevada. Wells, the former president of both Warner Brothers and Walt Disney Studios, is primarily known to climbers as Dick Bass’s partner in his bid to become the first man to climb the highest mountain on all seven continents. Wells succeeded in climbing six of these peaks. Despite two attempts on Everest, Wells died before he was able to pull off the “Seven Summits.” BILLY WESTBAY, 47, “one of the last old-school masters” according to John

Long. Westbay, with Long and Jim Bridwell, made El Cap’s pivotal first one-day ascent in 1975. A bold and talented free climber, Westbay, with John Bachar, was the first to free climb the Diamond’s D1 (V 5.12-) in 1978. Racing a lightning storm near the summit, Westbay cranked off a nearly unprotected and seeping 5.11 offwidth, an alltime lead that Bachar was barely able to second. Twenty-seven years later, the “Westbay Chimney” remains unrepeated. Westbay succumbed to liver cancer in 2000. WIGGINS, 45, of Colorado Springs, quickly established himself as one of America’s top climbers. During the 1970s Wiggins established many signature climbs, including the first ascent of Indian Creek’s monster classic Supercrack (5.10b). In 1975, at only 17 years old, Wiggins soloed Outer Limits EARL

—Dean Fidelman

(5.10c) in Yosemite Valley the day after falling on a roped ascent. Wiggins’ cutting edge on-sight solo of the Scenic Cruise (V 5.10d) in Colorado’s Black Canyon of the Gunnison in 1979 was one of the boldest ascents in the history of the sport. Wiggins took his own life in 2002. T.R. YOUNGSTROM, 31, was a peripa-

tetic mountain photographer whose work appeared regularly in every major climbing magazine. Youngstrom died in 1997 when the helicopter in which he was riding was blown into a mountain side. ROD WILLARD, 42, made the first ascent of the West Face of Mount Huntington in Alaska. An EMT and RMNP climbing ranger, Willard was killed by falling ice while belaying near The Fang, Vail, Colorado. ■ JUNE 05 | R O C K A N D I C E . C O M 75

THE character of all time, John “Largo” Long smokes another grim Idyllwild downpress, sans spotter or crashpad (or Surgeon General) in 1980.

76 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE



Absent from this list is prototypical larger-than-life climber John “Largo” Long (see photo at left), a deliberate omission. With his gargantuan muscles, booming voice, top-flight climbing ability and in-your-face persona, Largo continues to do his nickname justice. He climbs frequently around L.A., films for SpikeTV, off-road unicycles and writes up a storm. IN THE SHADOW OF CLIMBING’S FRIENDLIEST TITAN,

Who Are Larger than Life


TM HERBERT » “He was just a comic performer, a constant joke teller … ” says Glen Denny, a contemporary of Yosemite’s clown prince, TM Herbert, a venerable hardman who held sway in The Ditch from the 1950s through the 1970s. In fact, one of Herbert’s (father of doctor and strong climber Tommy) favorite pranks was to lead a hard pitch, then try to make his second vibrate off with laughter by showering them with insultingly humorous comments while they climbed. “Back at Camp 4, he’d tell everyone how great he was and how you fell all over the place,” recalls Denny. In an iconic 1962 Tom Frost photo, TM, a webbing noose around his neck, mock-hung himself, tongue agog, from a piton above a huge ledge on the Salathé Wall. Perhaps most famous is his epistolary legacy, memorialized in Don Lauria’s classic article “Letters From Herbert.” Some choicer excerpts include: “And also I can hold a full lever on a high bar with my wee-wee”; “Then Saturday night we drink and take powerful artificial drug stimulants and cruise the boulevard for young girls. … We will stash your old lady and kids … Our old-bag wives will pose as our mothers.”


TM Herbert laying on the beta for climbing’s real crux move: life.

JUNE 05 | R O C K A N D I C E . C O M 77

JOHN BACHAR » What can you say about “Johnny Rock” other than the guy is a total badass who, with the softer-spoken Peter Croft, dragged the art of difficult free soloing into the collective psyche of the American climbing (and non-climbing) community in the 1980s? With laser-precise footwork, he pulled untold Cali granite solos, and ropeless ascents of the crux-at-the-top sport routes The Gift (5.12c/d), at Red Rocks, and Father Figure (5.13a), in Joshua Tree. Yet, off the rock, he resonates, too, peppering his speech with F-bombs so organic—and funny—they barely seem profane, and mentoring modern-day soloists like Michael Reardon by sharing his vast reservoir of training knowledge (remember the Bachar Ladder?). Now 48 and living in Mammoth Lakes, California, Bachar snowboards, boulders, designs rock shoes and runs through his solo circuit at Clark Canyon. “The climbing community can be a jealous bitch,” says Reardon. “Bachar received its wrath by refusing to accept the compromising stances that climbers were taking [via rap bolting, hangdogging and hold enhancement, in the 1980s and 1990s].” “He was a man, became a myth, and the irony isn’t lost that the very people who trashed him have now turned him into a legend.”

» On the first day of his class Introduction to Philosophy at the Catholic university Notre Dame, in South Bend, Indiana, Ramsey provokes students to consider that there is no God, no soul, no free will and no real certainty. Highly respected in the field


Amigo Joe Kinder expresses himself on Livin’ Astroglide (5.14 c/d) Rumney, New Hampshire. Off the rock he’s been known to “doctor” photos of climbers by enhancing their manliness with ink.

of artificial-intelligence theory, Ramsey, 45 and a tenured professor, also climbs hard (as in the 5.14b Supertweak), and drives seven hours each way on weekends to tear it up at his “local” crag, the Red. His training regimen is disgusting (pull-ups with 75 pounds of ballast, after squeezing some sort of medieval grip device … after climbing two days straight), and he can hang with, and party like, 18year-olds.


JOHN “YABO” YABLONSKI The late Yabo is best known for his myriad skinof-the-teeth solos and near misses on California granite. Yet his most remark-

able feat, according to his friend John Bachar, was his transformation from “this weird guy with a stuttering problem who would walk about 100 feet behind us [Bachar and Ron Kauk] everywhere with his hair hanging down over his eyes,” barely speaking, to a well-liked, stutterfree master climber. Yabo, says Bachar, lived according to a spirituality based largely on the interpretation of omens, one such being his proclamation that “I was at the base of Spider Line [5.11+ at Joshua Tree] last night, and a spider lowered out of the crack—I think I should solo it.” This proclamation preceded his full-redline, first-ascent free solo of the

10 WORST-DRESSED CLIMBERS JOHN LONG, JIM BRIDWELL, BILLY WESTBAY Groovy, man, you did the Nose in a day, but did you guys stumble into an exploding thrift store on the way down?

MARTIN ATKINSON Who can forget the indelible image of “Basher” working To Bolt or Not To Be in a one-piece Lycra body suit? Prrrroud.

JASON KEHL We get it already—you’re the Marilyn Manson of climbing. Sometimes actions, however, speak louder than clothes (e.g. Evilution, The Fly). Plus 78 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE

Goth died with the 1980s and the suicide of Ian “In a Lonely Place” Curtis, lead singer of Joy Division.

sense. Poor little simian—you need an “Extreme Makeover” … or a deliciously protracted auto da-fe.



could blame the photographer, or we could blame Patissier (or her handlers), but if you were alive in the 1980s, then you’ll surely remember the shot of Patissier high-stepping over a roof at a World Cup, clad in hot-pink running shorts.

running shorts, mate. Traipse around in those things commando-style and you’ll be hanging brain in no time. Let us likewise never forget your tantalizing black-fishnet-tight and man-blouse ensemble.



dresses well enough, but the monkey has no fashion

of sweat pants? Newsflash: You don’t paint houses, hip-

pie/yuppie, so don’t pretend to with your bogus blue-collar-pride wear.

HERMAN THE GERMAN Herman “I’m actually Austrian” Gollner’s specialized Rifle pants, with sticky-rubber kneepads sewn onto the legs, got him up climbs like Rendezspew (5.13b) and Pump-O-Rama (5.13a), but they were also a wee bit sweaty, not to mention butt ugly. Gollner was also rumored to have a Rifle shirt, replete with rubber shoulder pads for shoulder scumming. Go, Aquaman, schnell, schnell!


Fixing, etc.) of his magnum opus in a corner of Yosemite Lodge Café. Best known for hitchhiking up El Cap by attaching himself to other parties and/or jugging their lines, Chongo has also written The Homeless Interpretation of Quantum Physics with the late Jose Pereyra and is happy to demonstrate its core principles by simultaneously snapping the fingers on each hand to illustrate the space/time differential.

“Verve”—Christian Griffith—runs his fashionable clothing company out of Boulder, but has been known to skimp on the duds himself.

route the next, hot day. Yet, his raw vision also allowed him to see the holds on Midnight Lightning (V8) when others dismissed it as blank. Though he took his life in 1991 at the age of 35, the Yabo mythology lives on. LIZZY SCULLY » An ardent feminist, the

direct, inquisitive Scully is also the progenitor of She Sends, the only magazine dedicated solely to “celebrating female climbers.” A talented grimpeur with the first free ascent, with Heidi Wirtz, of South Howser Minaret in the Bugaboos, via Bad Hair Day (VI 5.11+/5.12-), and a near-summit voyage up Shipton Spire, in Pakistan, Scully has now moved on from She Sends to a job at an online travel site. Nevertheless, by creating a space for women climbers to be honored, Scully continues to make her mark. “For the last two years, she’s been running this magazine on her own,” says Kasey Cordell, who has taken over as the magazine’s editor. “And now there are 10 of us, and it’s still a lot of work.” Adds Cordell, “I’m surprised that I have to bend down a bit to hug her—her personality makes her seem bigger. I’ve met few people whose personalities are so dynamic that they magnify physical appearance. Lizzy is one of those people.”

before his roommates can read them. Kinder also created, as part of a series, a two- by-three-foot oil painting of Ronald McDonald as a crack addict, complete with “sick red bags under his eyes.” The friendly, outspoken Kinder now lives in Boulder.

RUSS “THE FISH” WALLING » The figurehead of Camp 4 from roughly 1980 to 1990, Walling earned his nickname CHRISTIAN GRIFFITH » Says Pat Adams for his propensity to flop around in the of this Boulder icon, “He marches to a throes of a pretend epileptic fit. The different drummer”—perhaps a peyoteoriginator of one of the world’s first bigblitzed shaman, influenced by too many wall gear companies, Fish Products, Luis Buñuel films. Always easy to spot— Walling continues to run it today out of be it from the early 1990s, when he’d walk Bishop, California, where he lives with around town sporting neon lycra, a mushis wife. A wide-crack and aid specialcle shirt and corn-rows to, today, showing ist, Walling has completed numerous up at various trailheads in his Ford Falbig-wall ascents. He also instigated the con, with a pack legendary “slanof four hounds der curtain” and in tow for a trail ccompa ny i ng “CG sewed up Verve thongs a“smo run—“CG” is one h - or g a n for all of the competitors and fest,” otwhich of the most enthuinhe wanted us to wear those— volved eating livsiastic climbers in and only those—when we er behind a blue the area, sponsorcompeted. He was the only tarp while slaging young, talentone who did.” —Pat Adams ging the unholy ed athletes with clothing from his hell out of everypopular Verve line of threads. Recalls Adone in the Valley. Regardless, he is outams of the first “Ultimate Man” comp, at going, well liked and super charismatic. the Boulder Rock Club in the mid-1990s: True to form, Walling offers devotees a “CG sewed up Verve thongs for all of the chance to buy him a $2 beer through competitors and he wanted us to wear PayPal at his site, those—and only those—when we competed. He was the only one who did.” ReMARIA, QUEEN OF RIFLE » Though cently, Griffith, a Boulder native, unsucBobbi Bensman once held this title by cessfully ran for the town’s city council dint of her gregarious presence and on the twin platforms of barring big-box ability to send every route in sight, the chain stores from Boulder and protecting mantle has passed to Maria Henrikthe city’s open space. sen, a Ph.D. candidate in epidemiology at Colorado State University, in Fort JOE KINDER » Kinder has scored Collins, Colorado, who dirtbags tough such coups as the first ascent of Livin’ (three summers running) at this limeAstroglide (5.14d), at Rumney, and has stone sport trough. You can find Henticked multiple hard problems up to riksen in the Arsenal most afternoons, V13, including Child of the Storm, at “Natty Ice” in hand, just like many of Pawtuckaway. One of the “Three Amithe area’s other miscreant locals. Here, gos” (Kinder, Dave Graham and Luke she’ll pump out laps on “everything Parady), Kinder, 24, draws fashion and possible” or send something harder like artistic inspiration from the world of Pumparama (5.13a) or, up canyon, the hip-hop. According to his buddy Tim ultra-bouldery The Kiss that Stings Kemple, Kinder, a graduate of Port(5.13a). Tall, striking and strong, Henland’s Maine College of Art, also has a riksen has a mouth like a sailor and atpenchant for spray-painting penises in titude to match. Example: “When asked public places and creating still lifes of to take, I give at least two big bonus gas masks and condoms. “He’s into all extra loops of slack, just for fun,” says sorts of random things,” says Kemple, Rifle’s reigning Queen, whose partners one of them being the annoying-butall recall her saying something “really funny habit of doodling phalluses onto nasty, perverted or sexually explicit photos of climbers in the magazines while climbing.” ■





» A self-published author who charges one Ben Franklin for his 616-page, 3-pound-6-ounce The Complete Book of Big Wall Climbing, Volume 1: The Ground Manual (which only deals with big-wall prep work), Chongo pecks away on his antiquated laptop at future installments (Traversing, Descent, Approach, CHONGO CHUCK

JUNE 05 | R O C K A N D I C E . C O M 79

The Bold Climbers, like Roman sentinels, revere boldness. COURAGE ARGUABLY TRUMPS SKILL, technique and objective in respect

given. Listing the boldest climbers of today and the past is tricky: EACH EPOCH IS DEFINED BY DIFFERENT MENTALITIES

AND ATTITUDES, not to mention the limits prescribed by the gear of the day. Further, where does “bold” stop and “reckless” begin? The following climbers stand out because of their COMMITMENT TO CLIMBING AS HARD AS THEY CAN with as small a “safety net” as possible. Not surprisingly, many of these climbers are soloists and alpinists. GLADIATORS, WE SALUTE YOU!

THE NEW BOLD » Along with a host of free solos as hard as 5.13 and as committing as Astroman (V 5.11c), Potter epitomizes the utilitarian defi nition of boldness—that the ability to climb confidently unroped means speed, and paradoxically, safety. Take, for example, Potter’s 2002 season in Patagonia when he soloed Cerro Torre in 11 hours via the Compressor Route (VI 5.10 A2 WI 4) and became the fi rst person ever to free solo Fitzroy, taking six hours and 49 minutes on Supercanaleta (VI 5.10 WI 3+). Now imagine the audacity of onsight soloing a new free route on Fitzroy’s 7,000-foot west face, which Potter did with California Roulette (VI 5.10+ WI 5) in 10 hours. That’s the deal.


» Since 1996, when he established Beauty is a Rare Thing (Alaska Grade 5 5.8 AI 4) and became the fi rst person to solo a new route on Denali, House has been at the forefront of American alpinism. His adherence to a committing and bold alpine style has yielded routes like The Gift (Alaska Grade 6 5.9 A3 WI 6 X) on Mount Bradley, M16 (VI A2 WI 7+) on Howse Peak and a significant new variation on the North Twin’s North Face, the crucible of hard North American alpinism. His recent trip to Pakistan, where he made a strong attempt on Nanga Parbat’s Rupal Face (the world’s biggest wall) and soloed a hard new route on K7 (for the peak’s second ascent), earmark House as one of today’s boldest alpinists.


80 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE

Lisa Rands is the first and only female to headpoint E8 (that’s 5.13- X to you Yank).


Josh Wharton represents a new, if small, breed of extreme alpinists who are carrying on in the spirit of Twight and Bouchard.

MICHAEL REARDON » Hardly just the soloist du jour, Reardon said he gets “annoyed when [he has] to put a harness on.” If you could do 280 routes up to 5.13a in one day, or romp up Equinox (5.12c) at J-Tree sans rope, you might feel the same way. See “Meet Mr. Producer,” on page 94, for more about what makes Reardon one of today’s extreme climbers, both on and off the rock.

» Though only 25, Wharton is emerging as one of North America’s boldest climbers, impressing alpine geezers like his mate Kelly Cordes, 36. Last summer, Cordes and Wharton put up the Azeem Ridge (5.11 R/X A2 M6), likely the world’s longest continuous rock route, on the Great Trango Tower (20,617 feet). Thirty hours after their last sips of water, Wharton took the crux. Swinging out to a thin 5.11 corner, Wharton on-sighted 35 feet above his last pro—an equalized bird beak and knife blade—crimping and smearing with his right hand and foot while using crampon and tool on the verglased left side. His more famous makeor-break lead was the 165 feet of unprotected 5.10+ slab to reach the pinnacle of the striking formation called the Flame (20,700 feet), in the Karakoram, which his partner, Brian McMahon, called the boldest summit lead in climbing history.



SONNIE TROTTER » Within the last couple of years, Trotter made the second ascent of Eric DeCaria’s RP masterpiece Must’a Been High (5.13c R) in Eldorado, placed gear in the anorexic splitter on Smith Rock’s East Face of Monkey Face (5.13d), and has recently headpointed a spate of unreported 5.13s at Squamish, such as 2BExposed, which has only two pieces of gear in 65 feet—the fi rst piece a mere directional, the second one “sucking ass.” Despite being “shaky” on routes like this, Trotter has proven his ability to keep it together and climb like he knows how. Oh yeah, he also sportclimbs 5.14+, e.g. his Forever Expired at Lion’s Head, Ontario.

LISA RANDS » The only female to make this list, Lisa Rands has shown that you don’t need cajones (aka testosteroneinduced stupidity) to go big. Rands’ exploits on grit have been unprecedented, beginning last summer with the first female headpoint of E8 (or 5.12+/13- X) with her send of The End of the Affair, at Curbar Edge. Though her hardest redpoint of a sport route is 5.12c (“I don’t sport climb often!”), Rands has pushed bouldering difficulty (climbing V12) and annihilated others in comps. She aspires to and is inspired by hard trad routes and big walls. She lives in Bishop, California, where she’s quickly run out of problems on which to test her mettle.

ROLO GARIBOTTI » Though he says he’s not really into alpine climbing anymore—despite, in the last few years, making huge Patagonian single-pushes with other super-alpinists like Silvo Karo—this self-effacing climber always seems to be going huge. Running up the Infinite Spur in Alaska with Steve House, both carrying day packs is as committing as Garibotti’s three solitary laps (two in one day!) on Eldorado’s classic Naked Edge (IV 5.11a) this past fall. He has also headpointed 5.12 X in the same canyon, including the first ascent of Restless Night (5.12c X).


» “Built like a brick shit house,” according to Jonny Copp, Bean Bowers is one of those unknown badasses, though he is very well-respected within alpine circles. In Patagonia, he has climbed (among many other peaks) Fitzroy twice, once via a first free (and third overall) ascent of the Slovak Route on the southwest face. This past February, Bowers, Copp and Josh Wharton found themselves one pitch below the summit of Torre Egger. After Copp and Wharton teamed-up to win a game of roshambo, played to determine who would “win” the sharp end, Bowers spent three hours JUNE 05 | R O C K A N D I C E . C O M 81

leading the horrendous, completely unprotected summit ice mushroom. Just 20 feet from the top, he pitched, taking a tremendous 100-foot whipper (“The biggest fall I’ve ever seen!” says Wharton), ripping out Copp’s belay, only to be saved by Wharton, who was anchored in lower. RENAN OZTURK » Described by friends

as a “truly spiritual being,” Ozturk (of the Ozturks of Ankara) has quietly been doing some of the boldest trad and solo climbing in areas from Yosemite to Indian Creek to the Bugaboos. Last summer, Ozturk led an all-time offwidth—wet, loose, scary and unprotected—that had thwarted partners Cedar Wright and Nick Martino on their first free ascent of the Southwest Pillar (V 5.12 R/X) of the Minaret in the Bugs. Ozturk has climbed Half Dome and El Cap in a day with Nick Martino, as well as on-sight soloed the Lightning Bolt Cracks (5.11a) on North Six Shooter Peak, Utah.

» This cigarette and Coca-Cola fiend made the first free ascent of The Diagonal (V 5.12- X) on the North Chasm View Wall in the Black Canyon with Jimmie Dunn when he was 18 years old. Armed with but four nuts, a few cams and draws for this huge route, DeCaria, on one pitch, made a double-dyno from


82 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE

an arete to a ledge, which turned out to be covered in dirt, sending DeCaria for a 50-footer. He sent next try. Since then, this new-school kid has shown a dedication to the old-school traditions of climbing threshold scare-fests like Must’a Been High (5.13c R), DeCaria’s Eldorado masterpiece. A V12 boulderer who puts chalk 20-plus feet above talus, DeCaria inspires such behavior in his partners, encouraging them to run it out instead of clipping a pin.


» Could anyone have followed John Bachar in his heyday, soloing for a day? The famous $10,000 offered by Bachar to anyone who could keep up with him in the late 1970s never attracted any takers, though it garnered plenty of attention, including a feature in Rolling Stone. Bachar recalls only once almost getting the chop—during his onsight solo of Moratorium (5.11b), a fourpitch crack with a thin, friction-dependent crux that would be hard to reverse. To mention his most famous lead—the ground-up Bachar-Yerian (5.11c R) in Tuolumne, the Holy Grail for self-styled “bold” rock stars—is not to forget all his other on-sight new routes (some solo) put up wearing EBs.


Bachar flogged his body and mind for the rigors of soloing in the red zone, where a fall would be decisively fatal.

» Could Croft be the best, boldest rock climber ever? Even today, this Canadian-born Sierra transplant still cranks. Once Croft found it was all about mileage, he began stacking up a list of epic free-soloing days that may never be surpassed. Most famously, Croft soloed Astroman (V 5.11c), then the Rostrum (IV 5.11c), and then nine super-sustained cracks up to 5.11+ at the Cookie Cliff, all before dinner. Equally impressive, though



Peter Croft could be the boldest climber, ever. His free solo of Astroman left everyone twisting in his wake.

not by numerical standards (which Croft would be the first to dismiss as a yardstick) was the time he soloed the SteckSalathé (V 5.9), the North Buttress of Middle Cathedral (V 5.9), Royal Arches (IV 5.7), the South Face of North Dome (III 5.7) and Arrowhead Arete (IV 5.8) on Yosemite Point Buttress in 17 hours.

» His exploits on grit, the myriad solos of hard, sketchy ice, rock and mountain routes, all the new routes done in impeccable style (ground-up, onsight, scant protection) … are too many to mention. It’s not just that Lowe was very bold, it’s that he seemed unfazed


by potential big airtime and any challenge requiring a vast reservoir of skill and mental fortitude. The photo of Lowe soloing an iceberg above cold Antarctic waters is unforgettable, a pictorial paradigm of his boldness. Anyone who ever shared a rope with this Lowe not only witnessed some A-list courage, but Lowe’s inability to sit still. His positivism and desire to “see what’s up there” are still shared within the community six years after his death in an avalanche. HENRY BARBER » Not only was “Hot” Henry simply climbing harder than anyone else in the 1970s, he was doing it in a style as pure as it was necky. His bold, brash manner often ignited resentment among area locals that Barber schooled, which only fueled his competitive drive to climb harder and bolder. His futuristic 1973 solo on-sight of the Steck-Salathé (V 5.9), for the time, was mind-blowing. In his prime, Barber climbed practically

THE PEOPLE ISSUE every day, raising standards all over the world. His trip to Elbsandstein in Germany in 1976 is remembered by locals as the time when the man with unshakeable confidence showed that even Americans can be bold. For more on Barber, see “10 Who Influenced,” page 53.

» His 1977 on-sight solo of the 19-pitch Direct Northeast Buttress on Middle Cathedral Rock, a loose 5.10 face climb now considered 5.11a, is reason enough to consider Fowler one of the boldest climbers of his generation. Consider too, his on-sight solo of the Casual Route (IV 5.10-) on the Diamond, or his solo of The Flakes (V 5.10+), a wide, loose crack system in the Black Canyon. Fowler is a true all-arounder, who applied a minimalist ethic to his climbing, whether it was an impressive on-sight solo of the Eiger Direct in 1992, or jogging from Boulder to Eldorado Canyon, soloing the Diving Board (exposed 5.11a offwidth) in Five-Tennies, and running home in the same kicks.


TOBIN SORENSON » If being bold means

living life to the fullest, then Sorenson squeezed every bit out of his short 25 years. He made the first American solo of the Matterhorn’s North Face in winter

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(and in eight and a half hours) and the first alpine ascent of the Eiger Direct. On rock, he was equally talented, raising the Australian grade to 26 (5.12b/c) and bagging rapid early ascents of Astroman (5.11c), the Crucifix (5.12) and Tales of Power (5.12b) in Yosemite. An early Tahquitz climber, Sorenson established The Edge (5.11 R), a tenuous arete, somehow hanging on for hours to place two bolts from off-balance stances and still making huge runouts. He terrified his belayer, Eric Ericksson, so greatly, Ericksson refused to second the route for fear of what Sorenson might do on the next pitch.

The late Derek Hersey powering down in more ways than one in the Fisher Towers, near Moab, Utah.

to commit to the unprotected sequence, which in terms of technical difficulty were harder than anything else in North America at the time. He also snagged the first free (and very bold) ascent of Wyoming’s Devil’s Tower in 1937, “discovered” the Gunks, and, when in his 70s, climbed the crux of Madame G’s (5.6) at the Gunks without placing a single piece. FREE SHIPPING ON ORDERS OVER $50! Must be an address in the Lower 48 States that UPS can deliver to. Shipping charges will apply to AK, HI, PR, PO Box and APO addresses.

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DEREK HERSEY » One of the greatest soloists to lace up, Hersey, a British ex-pat who moved to Boulder in the 1980s and lived there until he fell to his death (see Requiem” page 73.) Notably, Hersey took solitary strolls up the Diamond, via the Yellow Wall (5.11-) and Pervertical Sanctuary (5.10d), while using the Casual Route (5.10-) for a downclimb. Hersey


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Our men and women serving in Iraq have done a dangerous job as well as possible. At this point we can only hope for the best, but it has been a cruel adventure—with a cost of lives that was predictable. Since I make my gear to protect lives, not to endanger them, I don’t want to gain from any future such lethal adventures.

Ed Leeper


FRITZ WIESSNER » America’s greatest, and boldest, pre-WWII climber, Wiessner was head and shoulders above his peers (despite his below-average height and build). Even before any 8,000-meter peak had been climbed, Wiessner attempted Nanga Parbat in 1932 and came within throwing distance of K2’s summit in 1939. On rock, he rocked everyone so hard that it was 20 years before some of his routes were repeated. At Ragged Mountain, in Connecticut, Wiessner put up Vector (5.9), a poorly protected flaring chimney, in 1935. It took him three tries

THE PEOPLE ISSUE could always be found in the office— Eldo—making first free solo ascents or running up favorites like the Naked Edge (5.11a), Blackwalk (5.10c R) and Neon Lights (5.11a). His standout first ascent of Eldo sketch-fests like To RP or Not to Be (5.12a X), which wasn’t repeated for 15 years, created a legacy that continues to inspire today’s small group of headpointers.

» Have you seen the Fisher Towers? Look for the most blank line on any one of these mud titans and you’re probably scoping a Beyer route. More than anyone else, America’s boldest aid soloist has pushed the nightmarish realm of “psycho aid,” with routes like Intifada (A4+) on the Fisher’s Cottontail tower and Cult of Suicide (A6a) on Outlaw Spire in Canyonlands.


GEORGE LOWE » One of the most influential, and certainly one of the boldest climbers to have graced the mountain landscape since the early 1960s, Lowe forever changed the way alpinists view huge objectives. When he climbed the committing, poorly protected North Face of North Twin in 1974 with Chris Jones, it was the hardest alpine route

in North America. His line remains unrepeated, and in fact, this treacherous face has only seen three ascents. Near the top of this landmark route, Lowe found difficult and sparsely protected climbing. At the crux, he took a huge, gear-ripping whipper down to the belay, then dusted himself off and finished the pitch. With first ascents, in alpine style, of the Infinite Spur on Mount Foraker and Everest’s Kangshung Face, Lowe has probably stuck out his neck further than anyone. ROYAL ROBBINS » Even Bachar is awestruck by some of Robbins’ bold, boltless slab climbs in Tuolumne, routes which even today receive retro chicken-bolts. But Robbins truly earned his stripes during his committing campaign on the Salathé Wall, with Tom Frost and Chuck Pratt. These rock warriors alpine-styled El Cap back when it was still the largest, most dominating objective around. For more on Robbins, see “10 Who Influenced,” page 53. JOHN BOUCHARD » Throughout his long and successful career—first launched with a solo first ascent of New Hampshire’s Black Dike, the first NEI 5

ice route ever—Bouchard has been an audacious and outspoken climber. His solo first ascent on Grand Pilier d’Angle of Mont Blanc, in the French Alps, which took him five hours to climb 3,000 feet of difficulties up to 5.10a and 90-degree ice, and his recent alpinestyle attempts on Latok 1’s often-tried North Ridge, prove Bouchard is a steely climber who hangs it out with the best of them. MARK WILFORD » During winter, he soloed the First Flatiron at night, enduring a nightlong forced bivy sans warm clothing while standing on top of a loose flake. That kind of confidence came in handy when Wilford made the first American solo of the 1938 Eiger nordwand route and on his (unrepeated?) 5.13- R/X route near Boulder, Spinal Tap.

» People have survived the fall on Bachar-Yerian, but coming off Breashears’ Eldorado piece de resistance, Perilious Journey (5.11 X—with the crux at 40 feet) would be deadly. Even Barber opted to toprope this route, a fact that has and will continue to deter almost everyone from embarking on this journey. ■




Jim “The Bird” Bridwell is invincible, having commanded many hard and perilous first ascents.

Do you LACK the guts to DEFEND YOURSELF? Tired of having a PLAYGROUND BULLY kick sand in your face? Then listen up, maggot. Climbing is packed full of POTENT AVENGERS who can make HAMBURGER of YOUR ENEMY. Here’s who to call when the going GETS ROUGH, in a bar—or on the mountain.

JIM BRIDWELL A master of bar-

DEAN POTTER 6-feet-plus, all muscle; he free-solos 5.11, has free-climbed El Cap and Half Dome in a day, redpoints 5.13 desert cracks and speedclimbs as if a fire were lit under his ass. Need we say more?

CHARLIE PORTER In November 1972, the hardman Porter completed, solo, the first ascent of El Cap’s Zodiac (VI 5.9 A3), thus also making the first solo ascent of any El Cap route. According to John Bachar, “He was quiet, but like a pit bull. He’d go at it until he was dead. You would not want to fight him.” CHARLIE FOWLER Fowler once survived a 400-foot tumble down the North Chimney of Longs Peak, Colorado, in winter. He is obviously made of iron. Hit him and you’d break your hand. BOB D’ANTONIO Hailing from hard-knock South Philly, the prolific (perhaps America’s most active bolter/new router) D’Antonio is never afraid to speak his mind or throw a haymaker when he deems it warranted, such as in a road-rage dispute in Boulder or once at a climbing shop in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Gregarious

by nature, he continues to be a fiery presence online, especially when it comes to debating the merits of various styles.

MARK TWIGHT Tough-as-nails alpinist who can stay awake for 60-hour pushes up big mountains (the Czech Direct, Denali, Alaska); trains Special Operations personnel; is an expert competition shooter with pistol, rifle and shotgun (“I like to be able to go headto-head with my military students on their turf”); once reveled in the near-mythical “Dr. Doom” persona purveyed by his dark, twisted writings; and puts his body through unspeakable torture at his personalized training facility, “Gym Jones.” In fact, the Dr. Doom persona is no myth at all: Twight is just waiting for some mouthy bar punk to say the wrong thing. Don’t let it be you.

has maintained his burly 5’7”, 185-pound frame, “Nitro” is an ace crack climber with arms the size of tree trunks and a chest as wide around as a wine cask. He has benched 320 pounds and military-pressed 220, has a 29-inch waist and has run a 4.7-second 40-meter dash. To boot, Petro worked nine years as a roughneck in the Wyoming oil patch and is a powerhouse arm wrestler. Mess with this quiet, soft-spoken man and see what happens.


Everyone knows the Brits are nutters, hailing as they do from

KIM CZISMAZIA Climbs hard, scary ice and rock routes, muscles up 5.12d offwidths, and has biceps the size of grapefruits and ovaries of steel. She’s also knocked off, in a single day, the Grand Traverse (VI 5.8) of the Tetons, the only woman to do so. Plus, what kind of self-respecting man hits a chick?

STEVE PETRO A former linebacker at Cal State Northridge (1973/74) who

86 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE

The fearless Kim Czismazia could crush your head like a walnut.

a small, overpopulated, rainswept isle in the North Sea with more pubs than decent climbing days. Thus, they like to swill and beat each other senseless. If you doubt such toughness, simply travel to Salt Lake City and pick a fight with either one of the Burgess twins, Adrian or Al. A mouthy Las Vegas local once made that very mistake, getting himself clocked by Al outside a trade show. The exuberant Al made the attending cop laugh so hard that he got off sans jail time.

KELLY CORDES “The Secret Weapon.” Despite being only 5’ 6” and a buck forty, this former lightweight (132-pound) champion boxer—a collegiate national winner who trained at Penn State and also won the “outstanding boxer” award at the 1990 nationals—has, when needed, fists of fury and the Rotweiller aggression of a true alpinist. Need more proof? A drunken bully 50 pounds heavier than he once decided, apropos of nothing, to “pick on the littlest guy in the bar” up in Montana, slamming the back of Cordes’ head into a window. In self-defense, Cordes rearranged the redneck’s face to the tune of $5K in dental and facial repairs. “Actually, I felt horrible,” recalls Cordes. “I’m not an inherently violent person.”


fight weaponry, Bridwell, in an ill-advised moment at a climbing festival, socked another climber with a beer bottle over a minor dispute. After over three decades of hard, scary climbing, including the perilous Dance of the Woo-Li Masters on the Moose’s Tooth, Alaska, with the late Mugs Stump, Bridwell is the kind of man you want on your side in any situation.


- Photo : Kriss Studio


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Killing It Currently

Everyone who has seen the Ben Stiller

cult comedy Zoolander—an Zoolander exposé on the absurd world of male modeling— knows that Hansel is “so hot right now … so hot.” But DO YOU KNOW WHICH

CLIMBERS ARE CURRENTLY ON FIRE? We’ve chosen three “hot little potatoes,” as the movie puts it, who are rocking out in the following disciplines: Alpine, Big Wall, Trad, Sport, Bouldering, Comp and “Tommy Caldwell.” You may notice that THIS LAST CAT-


lets put some kind of photo capNels Rosaasen palms a seriously tion right here of this dude. Cool. bad sloper at the Beaver Creek put some kind of FordThanks Games,lets near Vail, Colorado.


NELS ROSAASEN » Hailing from Saskatoon, Canada, Rosaasen has one of the best comp records ever, winning four PCA titles in a row from 2003 to 2004. Once this dynoing gibbon recovers from an injury, you other comp kings better watch out! 88 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE

ANGIE PAYNE » 2004 was a great season for Angie Payne of Boulder. Having placed second in comps for years, the smooth, cool-headed Payne truly came into her own, winning four national titles last year, among a host of other strong fi nishes.

PORTIA MENLOVE » Placing 13th in the

qualifying round at the ABS Nationals this past February, this Utah “fenom” showed enough focus, grit and technique to win the biggest comp of the year the next night. One thing this comeback queen will never be again is a dark horse.




Has there been a more prolific sport climber and boulderer than David Ethan Graham?

Team “Mc”—Brian McCray (left) and Ammon McNeely—take a rare break during their historic oneday speed ascent of The Wall of Early Morning Light, on El Cap.

Whether she’s on a bolted face or heinous crack, Beth Rodden rules the day.



FOR CLIMBING REMOTE BIG WALLS AND REDEFINING SPEED CLIMBING ON HARD AID. AMMON MCNEELY » One of just three people to have soloed El Capitan for their first walls, McNeely is cutting not seconds, but days, off previous speed records on top-end aid climbs. Have you ever been on an A5 pitch, let alone tried to climb it as quickly as possible? That’s like rushing brain surgery. McNeely made the groundbreaking first single-push of El Cap’s Pacific Ocean Wall (VI 5.9 A4) in 33 hours and ran up Lost in America (VI 5.10 A4) in 18 hours; both routes normally take six days. His most celebrated achievement, however, is his discovery of the Porch Swing, the 100-foot pendulum swing from the summit of El Cap, which leaves every suitor (no matter how tough) screaming like a banshee. MIKE LIBECKI » Imagine humping enough food and gear for three months and a grade VII big wall into the most remote corner of the Earth, choosing a line on a mountain you’ve never seen before, climbing a

steep new route up its most forbidding aspect, packing your stuff up and walking out. Oh yeah, you have to do it completely alone. This is Libecki’s style, which he has pursued on terrain such as previously unexplored 4,200-foot Greenland monoliths and Antarctica’s secret, unforgiving walls.


“Flyin’ Brian” holds nine El Cap speed records, including Aurora (VI 5.8 A4) in 23:55, the Muir Wall (VI 5.9 C4/A2) in 19:56 and the first oneday ascent of The Wall of Early Morning Light with Ammon McNeely. McCray also put up Useless Emotion (VII 5.9 A4 WI 4) on the northeast face of the Bear Tooth, Alaska, with Jim Bridwell in 1999, and made the first one-day free ascent of the Ball Chain (V 5.13-) and the first ascent of The Stigmata (VI 5.11 A4), both in Zion National Park. He’s also redpointed 5.14a at the New River Gorge. BRIAN MCCRAY


men for burly climbing, this beanpole of a

Maine native does so many 5.14s that we had to stop reporting them. Currently on a hyper-extended trip through Europe, Graham has racked up more than 120 5.14s (four of them on-sight), and has on-sighted 16 5.13d’s and 42 5.13c’s.

» This 20-year-old, who has been climbing for 17 years, ticked Rifle’s hardest routes faster than anyone else, even le meilleur escaladeur, François Legrand. On his third attempt, Lindner sent Zulu (5.14a), and he took just seven tries to send The Crew (5.14b).


BETH RODDEN » With her fi rst ascent of The Optimist (5.14b), on Brogan Spire, north of Smith Rock State Park, Oregon, Rodden made history by becoming the fi rst woman to complete a fi rst ascent at that level, thereby disproving the idea that “women don’t do hard fi rst ascents.” Aside from her many “fi rst-woman” titles, Rodden climbs as hard as anyone, keeping up with her husband, Tommy Cadwell, whether on El Cap or at their local crags surrounding Estes Park. JUNE 05 | R O C K A N D I C E . C O M 89

is it really


Justen Sjong puts his 5.14-crimping strength to good use in Alaska.

pro when using it makes your heart beat faster?

DEAN POTTER » Free climbing two major monoliths—El Cap via Free Rider (VI 5.12d) and Half Dome via the Regular Northwest Face (VI 5.12a)—in under 24 hours makes Potter exactly twice as good as other elite big-wall free climbers. Also, Potter has put up Concepción (5.14a?) and The Tombstone (5.13d), both sustained crack routes with huge whip potentials, near Moab, Utah.

» She has freed one of El Cap’s hardest routes—Lurking Fear (super-sandbagged 5.13c)—and has onsighted Yosemite’s first 5.13, the Phoenix (5.13a) and led Colorado’s Sphinx Crack (5.13b/c). What’s more, Rodden has sent such naturally protected climbs as Country Boy (5.13d), a 60-foot micro seam at Lumpy Ridge, Colorado, as well as the Grand Illusion (5.13c), at Sugerloaf, California.


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Currently working on freeing El Cap’s Muir Wall, Sjong (pronounced like “Shawn”) is “the strongest climber you’ve never heard of,” according to partner Tim Kemple. Ticking the ninth free ascent of the Salathé Wall (VI 5.13c), Sjong and partner Adam Stack did not fall until they reached the route’s headwall. Sjong also made the fourth or fifth free ascent of the heady Huber testpiece Golden Gate (VI 5.13b), leading each of the route’s three 5.13 cruxes (and flashing “The A5 Traverse,” a thin 5.13b). It also took Sjong little time to make the third quasi-free ascent of Leaning Tower’s West Face (V 5.13a AO). Sjong regularly climbs 5.14, including Vogue (5.14b), at Mickey Mouse Wall outside Boulder, proving that sport-honed strength comes in handy on big-wall free climbs.


BOULDER ING FOR THE HOME OF THE HARDEST MOVES EVER DONE ON ROCK. DAVE GRAHAM » When Graham put up A Story of Two Worlds, which he claimed to be the new “benchmark V15,” he had already sent dozens of established V15s, probably more than anyone else. Yeah, he ought to know. This makes his new problem one of the world’s hardest and Dave Graham one of the world’s best boulderers. JAMES LITZ » He shows up at comps, or appears at boulders around the country, makes incredibly fast repeats (such as Dave Graham’s V14 Nothing But Sunshine, at Rocky Mountain National Park), doesn’t say a word, then disappears. Who is this silent Southerner credited with “the world’s strongest fingers,” and just how hard can he crank? Despite his specialty in bouldering, Litz has also sent hard sport routes like Necessary Evil (5.14c) and Ice Cream (5.14c).

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1. DAVID LEE ROTH We all hate “Van Hagar” (and love man-lycra and the full splits), but who can forget the David Lee Roth video “Just Like Paradise,” in which he pendulumed, senselessly, across a bald Yosemite slab? Now a bloated self-parody like many of his 1980s crotch-rock contempo-


raries, Roth, during his climbing heyday, sought the tutelage and company of ace climber Ron Kauk, who ferried him around Californian crags.

2. TOM BROKAW This 64year-old alpha newsman, who left “NBC Nightly News” after 22 years last December, also likes to get his rocks off—most

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notably on cliffs around the American West with luminaries and climbing partners Rick Ridgeway and Yvon Chouinard.

3. STEVE VAI Guitarist for the 1988 David Lee Roth vehicle “Skyscraper,” Vai was rumored to have even better climbing skills (believe it or not) than “Diamond




» This 15-year-old, who has been climbing for 10 years, recently pulled two V14s. One was his own Echale (V14), at Clear Creek, which occupied four days of work. Daniel’s first V9 was a flash of Duran Highball, at UMound, New Mexico, at 13; on that same epic day, he sent his first V10. Daniel also won the ABS championship this past February at The Spot gym in Boulder, which attracted the highest, most competitive turnout ever for an American event.


ing ease. Caldwell’s free Dihedral Wall (VI 5.14a) is so sustained that climbers get pumped aiding it. Yuji Hirayama, one of the world’s best free climbers, took a hardcore booting off Lurking Fear’s crux slab, thinking it may be as hard as 5.14. In 2003, Caldwell put up Flex Luthor, America’s hardest sport climb, a possible 5.15a, at the Fortress of Solitude, near Rifle. Caldwell has been climbing for more than two decades, is the only climber to have sent every single route at Rifle, has put up the Diamond’s hardest route (The Honeymoon is Over; V 5.13c), has literally dodged bullets and, despite being America’s best allaround climber, he can only count to nine and a half (having “Caldwelled” half his pointer finger in a construction accident).


Tommy Caldwell is so big he’s in his own category.



FOR BEING TWO STEPS AHEAD OF EVERYONE ELSE IN THE CATEGORIES OF SPORT, TRAD AND BIG WALL. TOMMY CALDWELL » Would you suspect that this unassuming, slightly goofy climber has been pushing big-wall, sport and trad standards to new levels for at least the last seven years? Caldwell has freed six El Cap routes, a feat rivaled only by the Huberbaum. After a mere six days of work, he cruised Zodiac (VI 5.13d) with disturb-

Dave.” Perhaps that’s why he left Roth after that album to pluck the strings solo.

4. ROBERT KENNEDY Before Sirhan Sirhan assassinated him on April 3, 1968, Kennedy, with Everest veterans Jim Whittaker and Barry Prather, climbed and named Mount Kennedy after his late brother, John. They topped

WILL GADD » He’s dominated the mixed/ ice comp circuit in North America, and has won world events. Two years ago, Gadd sent Mushashi (M12), at the time the world’s hardest mixed route. Then he sent it (and the benchmark M13, The Game) sans eperons, claiming, in an email-circulated manifesto, that heel-spurless ascents are the future of mixed grades and standards. BEN FIRTH » This Canadian made the first ascent of The Game (M13), which still holds its title as the world’s hardest mixed route. He’s young (25) and psyched, and, most importantly, has an enormous wingspan, allowing him to turn dry-tool deadpoints into casual hooking affairs.

» With his recent first ascent (with Ryan Nelson) of Jedi Mind Tricks, which, though unrated, may rival


out on March 27, 1965, on this remote, snowy mountain in the Yukon. It was a true triumph considering that Kennedy suffered from acrophobia.

5. CLINT EASTWOOD A tough guy who’s stayed lean and mean despite all those high-carb spaghetti Westerns, Eastwood is now a respected director, cre-

ating such dark fare as Unforgiven and Mystic River. He was also secret agent Dr. Jonathan Hemlock in the 1975 cult classic The Eiger Sanction, where he made a harness-less “ascent” of the Totem Pole. Much of the movie was, however, filmed on the perilous Eiger Nordwand itself. There, one British stuntman was killed and Eastwood insisted on

JUNE 05 | R O C K A N D I C E . C O M 91


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doing all of his own climbing sequences, save a 2,500-foot fall down the face, for which filmmakers wisely used a dummy. You gotta give Dirty Harry props for making a movie that even today carries more veracity than smut like Cliffhanger or Vertical Limit.

6. SYLVESTER STALLONE This fading ‘roid rager, who brought us Over the Top and Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, can also lay claim to one of the shittiest climbing films ever made: Cliffhanger, in which a bolt gun shoots readymade bolts and hangers into the rock, among other impossibilities. Luckily for Stallone, pros Ron Kauk and Wolfgang Gullich did the majority of the climbing for his thrutching, muscle-bound ass. Thanks, Rocky Balboa, for introducing jockstrap-sniffing meatheads everywhere to our sport. 7. TOM CRUISE Despite being only three feet tall (OK, 5’7”) and a Scientologist, Cruise did do his own climbing in Mission Impossible II (including the painful-looking, shoulder-wrecking reverse iron cross in the opening sequence) and has even threatened to climb Mount Everest.

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8. ED VIESTURS The only actual climber who also qualifies as a bona fide celebrity, Viesturs puts in a cameo appearance in the deplorable Vertical Limit, in which climbers must make their way up K2 (i.e., various locations in the much milder New Zealand Alps) with nitroglycerine in their packs for some asinine reason. In its woodenness, his performance was second only to Bill Paxton’s “acting.” 9. JIMMY CARTER The 39th president, now a self-appointed peacemaker with a better track record at truce-brokering than any Bush appointee (and a Nobel Prize, awarded in 2002, for his efforts), has scaled Mount Fuji (12,389 feet), in Japan, and Mount Kilimanjaro (19,341 feet), in Tanzania, with his wife, Rosalynn. Not bad for a Georgia peanut farmer with a black-sheep brother who insisted on brewing and marketing his own “Billy Beer.”

10. AL GORE Despite the ignominity of that awkward public kiss with his wife, Tipper, Gore still managed, with his son, Albert Gore III, to scrap his way up snow heap Mount Rainier (14,411 feet), Washington, while still Vice President and able to see his feet. Good job, Al! Now for that mountain named after a president (Denali). and 2008 (watch out, Hillary). 92 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE

The Game (M13) as the world’s hardest mixed route, Ogden has proven he can swing swords with the best of them. Also, when it comes to “real mixed climbing,” as those elitist alpinists like to joke, Ogden can hang up there, too, whether it’s onsighting M7 in Patagonia, making alpinestyle attempts on Jannu’s enormous north face or sending runout mixed pitches on the Moose’s Tooth.


» The reigning don of all things big, light and fast, House has taken the creative art of alpine style to the world’s most emblematic mountains. Case in point: Nanga Parbat’s 15,000-foot Rupal Face, the world’s biggest wall, which has only three routes (one being the unrepeated Messner Route, the site of the tragic descent that killed Reinhold’s brother, Gunter), all sieged, is just one of House’s super-sick projects, which he almost alpine-styled last year with Bruce Miller. Now consider his new route on K7, solo, and the third ascent (in three decades) of the North Twin’s North Face with Marko Prezelj, and you can see why this House is on fire.


BEN GILMORE » Though this unassuming

badass is normally spoken of in the same sentence as his better-known, almost-exclusive partner, Kevin Mahoney, Gilmore’s dedication to alpinism deserves recognition. Last year, Gilmore and Mahoney put up Arctic Rage (VI A2 WI 6+ R) on the east face of the Moose’s Tooth, the direttissima Mugs Stump and Jim Bridwell had eyed before opting for the more doable Dance of the Woo-Li Masters (VI WI 4+ M6) in 1981. Afterwards, Mahoney flew home, but Gilmore went right back into the range, making the second ascent of Snowpatrol (VI WI 5+) on Mount Dickey. Then, this past December, he climbed Cerro Torre’s Compressor Route; both ascents were made with Freddie Wilkinson. JOSH WHARTON » In between on-sighting dangerous Eldo 5.12s, in the last two years, Wharton has been everywhere from Pakistan to Patagonia racking up big sends. His Azeem Ridge (5.11 R/X A2 M6) on Great Trango Tower, the first ascent of the Flame in the Karakoram, and his bouts in Patagonia this last winter prove that Wharton has the time, energy, psyche and dedication to put everything he’s got into the world’s best mountains. ■



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he first time I met the controversial California free soloist Michael Reardon, I wanted to strangle him. Homeboy, sporting a blond mane unseen since the days of Winger, would just not shut up; my spraydar was pinging fast and furious. While we waited, last June, at a Starbucks near LAX for my late-arriving baggage, Reardon, whom I’d met through email (via a review of one of his climbing films, the soundtrack to which I’d dubbed “watered-down butt rock”), gushed about soloing, a film he was making about John Bachar, all the pitches we would do in the Needles, the debauched Hollywood scene, the negativity on Internet climbing sites, Peter Croft’s legendary monster days in Yosemite and the Sierra—whatever was on his mind. It was pure Joycean stream of consciousness: Molly Bloom’s soliloquy from Ulysses, only with climbing as the focus. Nor did he let up. Not during the fourhour drive to the Needles campground, not while we set up our tents, not while we boiled rotini for dinner … no, not until we downed some red wine and went to bed. Eight hours later, Reardon yanked me out of my sleeping bag at some ungodly

hour, filled my pack with a rack and the gallon jugs of water we’d stash out in the notch by Witch Needle and said, “Let’s do it, brother.” Then, I saw, despite my cynicism, that he meant it—we were climbing together, and I was his brother. Reardon wasn’t a spraylord. His energy level and love of climbing were simply that big. I had met one of the last of a dying breed: a climber’s climber. Reardon, in fact, can lay claim to the first-ever free solos, at Joshua Tree, of the 60-foot tips crack Equinox (5.12c), the bouldery Moonbeam Crack (5.13a) and the exposed, insecure EBGBs (5.10+). Sans cord on multi-pitch routes in California’s Needles, he’s dispensed with Atlantis (5.11+), Don Juan (5.11), Spook Book (5.10+) and The Pit and the Pendulum (5.11-). And he has the only known free solo of The Vampire (four pitches including two thin, heinous 5.11a cruxes), at Tahquitz, to his credit. Off the rock, Reardon maintains a healthy family life with his wife, Marci, a senior executive assistant to the president of the mortgage company Countrywide, and 11-year-old daughter, Nikki, a good climber (up to 5.10d) in her own right. Professionally, he has risen from a besotted 1980s glam rocker, and the “only



MR. ★ PRODUCER Michael Reardon




96 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE

guy sober enough to hold the camera for a Motley Crüe video,” to a big-bling Hollywood producer and entertainment lawyer. He also never backs down in a confrontation, verbal or otherwise. Yet his “sudden” emergence onto the climbing scene with a 280-route solo day at Joshua Tree on April 28, 2004, has earned him doubters and enemies, most of them unwilling to step forward publicly. Throw in his over-the-top antics, outspoken presence on climbing websites (from which Marci has now banned him, threatening to break his fingers) and unrepetant attitude in a city (L.A.) where he has railed against the corrosion of ethics at areas like New Jack City and Echo Cliffs, and you can see why Reardon attracts criticism. He is, in short, a hell raiser, a role he sometimes relishes, sometimes loathes. Reardon’s nemeses, whether motivated by jealousy, skepticism or sheer snarkiness, often don’t play fair. They might libel him on the Internet, the worst case being a first-person narrative written by an impostor at using Reardon’s name, describing homosexual acts in salacious detail. (Reardon, with a business reputation to protect, was quick to threaten a lawsuit, ending that particular thread.) Or they might murmur slanderous things about his wife at his home crag of Malibu Creek while Reardon is soloing within earshot, earning a bitch-slap and follow-up punch to the face from a man who, at 5'7" and 150 pounds, isn’t exactly physically intimidating. Mainly, Reardon’s ropeless feats have been questioned by naysayers who clamor for photographic proof, claiming that all the shots published until this article, many at various web sites—including Reardon’s own—have been of moderate climbs. Still, as he is fond of saying, “How many of these jokers have even met or roped up with me?” Zero. Reardon climbs in a tight-knit group, his band of “Outlaws” (friends Mark Niles, Tom Bristow, Dave Schultz and Dimitrius Fritz), not striving to prove his mettle to people who doubt him anyway. The anti-Reardon faction can, as Reardon—the proud owner of a 21-inch Papau New Guinea penis gourd in which he intends to do some very public soloing—often suggests, “Eat a d—k.”


ater that summer, in August, Reardon and I huddle in a small patch of dirt, high above Big Pine, California, on

Michael Reardon:


Height: 5’7” • Weight: 150 • Age: 34 • Years climbing: 17 Years soloing: 17 • Home: Oak Park, California Hardest redpoints: Lateralus (5.14a, first ascent of a 20foot roof leading into Brenna, a 5.13d), Malibu Creek; Riptide (5.13d), Boney Bluff. Hardest on-sights: The Powers That Be (5.13a), Joshua Tree. Hardest boulder problems: Whiplash (V11), Pine Mountain; the Cave Traverse (B2/5.14-), with its long lunges to big pockets and micro-crimp finish, Malibu Creek; La Muñeca (unrated; involves pulling on a fingernail hold 20 feet up), Swimming Hole. Films Produced: Blind Man’s Bluff (2005), Cabin Fever (2003), Casper’s Haunted Christmas (2000), This Planet Earth … (1996). Films Directed: Bachar: Man, Myth, Legend (2005), Climb On! Series (1999), Search for Amenophis (1996). FREE SOLOS (ALL IN CALIFORNIA): •Five 5.13s: Moonbeam Crack (5.13a), Joshua Tree; Ghetto Blaster (5.13b) and Corporal Klinger (5.13a), Malibu Creek. Two on-sights: Outrage (5.13a) at Boney Bluff, and Mississippi Mud (5.13b; flash after rappel pre-inspection) at Malibu Creek. •Thirty-plus 5.12s, including Davey Jones’ Locker (5.12b), Needles;

a windswept bench between the Sierras’ robin’s-egg-blue Second and Third lakes. To the east, the silent mass of Temple Crag (13,001 feet), a 2,500-foot jumble of walls, pinnacles and aretes, blots the sky. Everything else is stars and wind— screaming wind, rushing down off the heights of Bishop Pass and the Palisade Crest, which spikes the night sky at over 14,000 feet. The weather doesn’t bode well for the following day’s bid at Dark Star (V 5.10c), a plumb line up Temple’s creaky north face. For now, however, we listen to our friend Erik Shildroth, who regales us with tales of his years as a ski bum in the bacchanal of Aspen, Colorado. Fires aren’t allowed here, so Michael, age Hollywood 29 (i.e., 34), and I keep warm by laughing, flexing our abdominals as the anecdotes grow increasingly outrageous. “Have I told you the one about Mr. Producer?” asks Shildroth, a wry grin creasing his face. No, he hasn’t. He launches in. “So this group of women comes into the bar where I’m working,” Shildroth says. This sounds like the start of a bad joke. Still, it’s the best (and only) entertainment going. We urge Shildroth on, Reardon cracking a “Yeah, right!” His booming voice is tinged with a hint of Northeastern wise guy. “I bring the ladies a tray of free drinks,” continues Shildroth, “and they want to know who the drinks are from. I tell them they’re from Mr. Producer.” Naturally, as

Watusi (5.12c), Equinox (5.12c), Condor (5.12a), Leave it to Beaver (5.12a), Joshua Tree; Swamp Thing (5.12c), Malibu Creek. Five on-sights of 5.12, including New Release (5.12a), Malibu Creek, and Skinny White Boy (5.12d), Boney Bluff. •Fifty-plus 5.11s in Bishop, Idyllwild, Needles, Joshua Tree, Malibu Creek, high desert, etc., including the first-ever solo of The Vampire (5.11a; 4 pitches) at Tahquitz; Don Juan (5.11a/b; 4 pitches), Atlantis (5.11+; 4 pitches), Spook Book (5.10+; 3 pitches;), and The Pit and the Pendulum (5.11b; 4 pitches), all at the Needles. Two-mile days (over 10,000 feet of climbing): •Joshua Tree: included 280 routes, with the highlights being Leave it to Beaver (5.12a), Moonbeam Crack (5.13a), Watusi (5.12c) and Condor (5.12a). •Temple Crag: Dark Star (V 5.10c), Sun Ribbon Arete (IV 5.10a), Moon Goddess (IV 5.8), Venusian Blind Arete (IV 5.7; downclimb).

Shildroth relates, the women wanted him to point out their benefactor. He wouldn’t do that, he told them, only mentioning that Mr. Producer was in the room somewhere. “This goes on all night, me bringing tray after tray of free drinks, the women wanting to know who Mr. Producer is, me saying, ‘Just wait, just wait, I’ll show you,’ on and on, over and over again, until finally they’re good and drunk,” says Shildroth. The wind picks up his voice and smashes it against Temple’s slategrey granite, a mile distant. The anticipation—Shildroth is a master storyteller—has been building for 10 minutes. Who is this Mr. Producer, and what does he intend to do now? I run my hands through the glacially milled sand beneath me, calming myself by drawing furrows in the earth that I trace and retrace as I wait for the punch line. The wind, Reardon’s infectious energy, Shildroth’s diabolical storytelling, knowing I’ll be lashed to some enormous, indifferent piece of stone in only a few hours—all combine to put me on edge. “Dude, who the f—k is Mr. Producer?!” I practically beg. Reardon echoes my sentiments. “Hold on, hold on,” urges Shildroth. A true friend, he can sense my agony and relishes in prolonging it. “I’ll tell you,” he says. We await the denouement. “I go back behind the bar,” Shildroth continues, “mix up another round of

drinks, and put a pair of sunglasses in my pocket.” Threading his way carefully back through the crowded establishment, Shildroth stopped at the group’s table, offering a final round. By this time, he says, the women were clamoring like banshees to learn the identity of Mr. Producer. “You ladies really want to meet Mr. Producer?” asked Shildroth. Yes, yes, yes! they screamed. Yes, they really did! “You sure?” he asked. They had never been more certain of anything. “So I turn around, yank down my pants and put the sunglasses on my fellow,” says Shildroth. “Then turn back to the table and say … ‘Ladies, meet Mr. Producer!’” The three of us belly laugh to the point of tears, wound to a fever pitch by the Dadaistic cant of the story, by the notion of three men alone in the mountains swapping such tales, by postclimb chills from having survived an uncomfortable, off-route simul-solo of Venusian Blind Arete (IV 5.7) that very day. Yet, Reardon, who has come up from sea level the day before and seemed, multiple times, on the verge of an altitude-induced collapse during our foray, has gotten his breath back. He roars the loudest, the irony of Shildroth’s anecdote not lost on him, a Hollywood muckety muck who deals with multi-milliondollar sums and big-grossing films like Cabin Fever and Richie Rich. In real life, Michael Reardon is Mr. Producer. JUNE 05 | R O C K A N D I C E . C O M 97



“My biggest comfort is knowing that I’m always soloing,” says Reardon, echoing the philosophy of his biggest influence, John Bachar. “I was mostly a Zone 2 soloist, even when bouldering, but now I’m comfortable in Zone 3. My intention is to see how far I can push Zone 3.” Zone 2? Zone 3? Are we talking the newest fad diet here? Absolutely not. Zone climbing is, in fact, an idea put forth by Bachar in an old article entitled “Zone 3,” which featured a photo of him ropeless on Spider Line (5.11+) at Joshua Tree. “The three zones are more mental than physical,” says Bachar, “though they can correspond to physically being a certain height off the ground.” According to Bachar, all ropeless climbing—bouldering included—is free soloing, it just happens to fall into one of three zones (described in Bachar’s words below).


eardon’s beginnings were painful, humble. His mom, Sharon, took off to dance at the Whiskey A Go Go, in Los Angeles, when Reardon was four. It was the last time he saw her. The divorce was hard on Michael Sr., who, according to Reardon, had “[my mother’s] name on his lips even when he was dying.” (His father’s death of cancer, at age 54 in 1998, inspired Reardon’s only “angst solo,” that of Urban Struggle, a slippery, pockety 5.12b at Malibu Creek which he’s since soloed twice, in full control, to atone for that initial, emotional foray.) After that, Reardon and his father moved around, basically homeless, for the next four years, shuttling between Mexico and Massachusetts as his father searched for work, living out of a car when they had one and “sometimes literally picking dandelion greens and brewing them up” for dinner. “My dad was trying to find himself and take care of his boy,” says Reardon. “We come from solid Irish stock and we weren’t going to take any handouts.” The pair finally settled in Ghent (population 1,000), near Albany, New York, where his father worked his way up through the ranks at McDonald’s to become the owner/manager of four franchise stores. Reardon, who didn’t 98 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE

begin school until second grade, now had stability. Still, he lived in a tough neighborhood, where his blond locks drew unwanted attention and he “had the pleasure of being stabbed in the back when I was 11.” A born survivor, Reardon also found his escape hatch—a hankering for the vertical he expressed on a boulder in his grandfather’s backyard, in Massachusetts. “We’d mess around on it all the time,” recalls Reardon, “and I’d point out holds for my cousins, making eliminates.” Though he had the bug, he had no outlet until he moved to Denver, Colorado, in the mid-1980s and jumped headfirst into the heavy-metal scene as lead singer of Rocks Milan, a band that opened for crotch rockers like Motley Crüe and Poison in national and international venues. (Says Marci, “Nikki doesn’t come to me for makeup tips— she goes to Michael.”) In Colorado, he would team up with his band mates or “whoever had a car” and head for the mountains, where the often-blitzed “climbers” would scramble about on chossy ridges in the high Rockies or the Garden of the Gods. “Essentially it was, ‘Let’s get a six pack to the top of that peak,’” recalls Reardon. A best friend’s suicide, by hanging, in the basement of a Denver house while

Reardon was there had earned him the exaggerated reputation of “the guy who killed his friend.” Emulating his rockstar contemporaries, Reardon would swill Jack Daniels on stage like it was water, never realizing that rockers like Axl Rose or Vince Neil often filled their bottles—mere props—with tea or apple juice. There was also an acid-gobbling contest in which Reardon swallowed 100 tabs in 90 days (“The other guy ended up in an institution,” recalls Reardon) and the abuse of myriad other substances. Headed for musical success, psychosis and/or liver failure, Reardon left the music scene behind and moved to California in 1988. Steve Werbelow, a “crusty old mountaineer guy” Reardon was working with, dragged him up to Tahquitz and thrust him onto the sharp end with full knowledge that Reardon was an acrophobe. Here, Reardon kicked his fear and learned to embrace self-sufficiency, especially when Werbelow shoved a handful of hexes into his hand and sent Reardon, clad only in pink Lycra, a swami and Nikes, off into the unknown with the minimalist advice to “put these in when you’re scared.” In fact, all of Reardon’s early mentors were diehard trads—so much so that when Reardon (continued on page 117)



ZONE 1: “You’re more or less free to try anything you want—double dynos, get upside down. If you fall, nothing happens, there’s no consequences. Sharma or Tony Lamiche could say they’ve free-soloed 5.16, you know?” ZONE 2: “A highball problem (no pads) where you start editing your difficulty level. If you blow it, you might break an ankle or wrist [as Reardon did last autumn in a three-footer onto a Zone 2 landing at Malibu Creek, fracturing his wrist and turning his ankle]. You assess the situation and decide, ‘I’m going to go for it.’ One example is Baby Apes (5.12b)—nine times out of 10 you could fall off the top and probably live.” ZONE 3: “If you fall, you’re for sure going to die, like Wolfgang Gullich on Separate Reality [the iconic 5.11d roof crack in Yosemite]. If you fall, that’s it, dude—there’s no way, no f—king way you’re living off of that shit.”







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[ FIELD TESTED] Living Daylights 4 NEW-GENERATION LEDs THAT DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY BACK WHEN WE were uni-browed simians, the political philosopher Thomas Hobbs theorizes, the human world must have been “brutal, cruel and dark.” Little has changed. We are still afraid of the unknown, strangers, falling, magic, people who don’t look like us, J-Horror, etc. Mostly, though, we are spooked by things that go bump in the night. Which can explain why we put so much effort into turning night into day—e.g. the LED-headlamp revolution of recent months. While LEDs (“light-emitting diodes”) are nothing new, until very recently these glowing orbs were much too

dim to let us read a topo let alone plot a course up a black wall. Fear not. An über generation of LEDs are now frightfully bright. Due to scientific wizardry, the details of which escape me but which I imagine have something to do with genetic engineering, the difference between these lamps and those of yesterday is, well, night and day. Fact is, these LEDs are brighter than most of their standard-bulb counterparts. Factor in their ultralight weight and compactness, their frugal ways with batteries and bulbs, and their pleasant, even light, and what’s not to dig? The following are the top four brightest LED headlamps in human history.


Weight (with batteries): 5.7 ounces Batteries: 2 AA Light Settings: 7, plus blink Burn time: 8 to 180 hours Someone at BD has been drinking loads of joe, because the Zenix IQ is nearly perfect. Powered by just two AA batteries, this pup, when cycled to the brightest of eight settings, is powerful enough to search out that next pitch. Then, toggled down to one of its mid-range settings, reducing battery drain, the headlamp still throws enough beam to hike, cook or read. At its lowest setting, which illuminates well enough to find items in your pack, the Zenix IQ will reportedly run 180 hours on one set of batteries, making this lamp the most miserly of all (the Petzl Myo XP is a very close second). Toss in a weatherresistant case, a comfortable, secure head harness, a swiveling bulb housing, and a size that will stow in your pocket, and you have literal brilliance.



Weight (with batteries): 3.7 ounces Batteries: 3 AAA Light Settings: 3, plus blink Burn time: 2 to 60 hours The EOS is the only lamp reviewed with the batteries stowed right behind the bulb (the other three have a rear-mounted pack). This deft design makes this item 35 percent lighter than the BD and Petzl lights. It also means there’s no battery pack to dig into your head when you’re reclining to read the great American novel, or the latest sensational trash. No worries about the “bobble-head” effect, either—the entire unit is so light it doesn’t bounce. The EOS is roughly as bright as the Zenix IQ, which is a smidge dimmer than the Myo XP, which is dimmer than the Eco. Flicked to its mid-level setting, the EOS will deliver several night’s worth of light. Set to full brightness, the EOS will light up any pitch, just don’t leave it there for long—the three AAA batteries only last a few hours at this intense output.


Weight (with batteries): 6.1 ounces Batteries: 3 AA Light Settings: 4, plus blink Burn time: 70 to 170 hours The Myo XP is a palm-sized, well-balanced design that tosses photons like a roaming Hollywood spotlight. Even at its dimmest setting, where it will burn for 170 hours, it lights up better than either of the old standard lamps I compared it to. On bright, the thing will practically cut steel. The best feature, however, is a flip-up, light-diffusing lens. At first I thought the feature was a gimmick, but it makes a profound difference. Without the diffuser, the Myo XP casts a narrowish, long light, much like that of the Zenix IQ and EOS—fine for route-finding, but a bit concentrated for surgical operations. With the diffuser in play, the light is broad and even, setting the perfect ambiance for reading, cooking and shadow-puppet shows. Niggles? Ironically, I fumbled around in the dark finding and flicking the light button. A more prominent switch, please!

100 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE



big agnes


2:11 PM

Page 1

The Hayduke Trail

A Guide to the Backcountry Hiking Trail on the Colorado Plateau Joe Mitchell and Mike Coronella As featured this month in National Geographic Adventure, this intense 800-mile “new” hiking trail pioneered by the authors traverses six national parks in southern Utah and northern Arizona. 65 photographs, 199 maps Jonathan Thesenga Allan Porter on Sharks Fin

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$79.95, Weight (with batteries): 10.8 ounces Batteries: 4 AA Light Settings: 2 Burn time: 10 to 96 hours The new kid on the block, NiteHawk, a Canadian outfit, enters the lamp fray with a proprietary light “emitter” that its designers say is “beyond the LED”—and will “replace existing lighting in the notso-distant future.” For sure, the Eco is the brightest headlamp I’ve used, LED or otherwise. This powerhouse throws a searchlight-like blast farther than I can even see. And it should. Powered by four AA batteries and sporting a plum-sized light housing, this is the largest and heaviest headlamp, more so even than my old Petzl Zoom. The bulk and heft are somewhat offset by a battery life of between 10 and 96 hours. (As with all headlamps, longevity varies by brightness level and battery type.) At its brightest setting, the Eco runs all night. At its dimmest (10 percent) setting, you can power through the Old Testament, though with some eye strain. A mid-range setting, one that would burn for 50 hours but at half the brightness, would be a welcome improvement, as would shedding ounces by trimming the beefy harness and scaling down the heavy-gauge wiring. —DUANE RALEIGH

JUNE 05 | R O C K A N D I C E . C O M 101

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wanted to dance on ice, the new Kayland M11 boots might be your magic slippers. At two pounds one ounce each, these babies are remarkably warm for their weight. Insulated with Primaloft and housed in an eVENT shell, the M11 kept my toes warm while snowshoeing, climbing and camping in Alaska’s Brooks Range, and dog sledding in -25 degree F temps along the Yukon River. For grins, I let my friends borrow them for trips to Valdez, the Canadian Rockies and Ouray. Everyone agreed that the light and nimble M11, sized mid- to low-volume, is just as warm as heavier, bulkier counterparts. Is this high-performance footwear warm enough for high-altitude endeavors? No, but it is surely adequate for just about any ice or snow adventure in the lower 48. The M11’s exterior is built from the same material shark-handlers use for their gloves. Man-eating teeth, wayward crampons and jagged rocks stand little chance against the hide. The shell also does a good job of keeping water out. I purposely spent three minutes wading in a northern Alaskan stream, and my piggies stayed dry. Unlike other boots I’ve worn, the M11 never pressed on my shins regardless of my foot placement. I could French technique my way up Sierra Nevada mountains as easily as I could frontpoint Lee Vining ice. The boots practically beg for vertical ice: They’re born to live in Ouray, Valdez or Banff. These boots are all-day hikers, too, but they need to be broken in. I took the M11, right out of the box, on a four-mile hike and suffered a dime-sized blister on one heel, a problem easily remedied by inserting blister pads. In fact, I like the grace, warmth and lightness of these boots so much that they will become my boot of choice—if I can ever get them back from my friends.


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balance 480 g [M]

102 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE

With a PLB, Dan could have walked away with more than his life. Since 2003, 38 people owe their lives and limbs to a PLB. Dan isn’t one of them. While skiing backcountry terrain that he’d skied many times before, Dan got hopelessly lost for five days and eventually lost his legs to frostbite. Sheer willpower helped save his life amid overwhelming odds. 5.7 in. tall, 12 oz. It could have been worse. Or it could have been much better if Dan had packed ACR’s new TerraFix™ 406 GPS I/O. This powerful, little Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) transmits a distress signal over both 406 MHz and 121.5 MHz, alerting the nearest rescue team worldwide through a satellite system that’s continually orbiting the Earth. Where cell phones fail and two-way radios fall short, TerraFix can get you out of a jam fast. If you ski, hike, bike, climb, canoe, kayak, hunt or fish in remote locations, a PLB is essential gear. Just ask Dan. He’s already back on the slopes, but not without the protection of his ACR TerraFix 406 PLB.

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MY FRIEND JAMES, an Alaskan native who flips trucks like pancakes, dragged me out to Utah’s fearsome Fisher Towers for a “real Western adventure,” as he calls anything muddy, loose and dangerous. In tow, I brought Kong’s Scarab Helmet, a featherweight, super-comfortable brain bucket, and the Yates/Bluewater Slimline Elite, a new 10.8mm skinny “wall rope” that exudes both suppleness and burl. James, true to form, brought a five-year-old static with three core shots, triples of off-brand cams and other ratty aid accoutrements for our skirmish with Echo Tower’s classic Phantom Sprint (IV 5.9 A3). The Slimline Elite, which we used as our lead rope, mimics a concept borrowed from women’s fashion: conceal bulk under a trim façade. The 10.8mm, which weighs roughly 10 pounds for the 60 meter length (78 grams per meter, and just 65 grams per meter for the 10.3mm size), felt much like a sport rope. It fed smoothly through a Grigri, tied tight, clean knots and was heaven to jug. I didn’t once worry that Echo Tower’s falling rocks and sharp edges could destroy the cord. The rope’s secret is a bulked-up sheath. Over 40 percent of the rope’s nylon comprises the sheath, which drastically extends the rope life and its resistance to cutting. I borrowed James’ antique jugs, which he must’ve picked up at a novelty Kevorkian climbing shop. Their croc-like teeth bit into the Slimline Elite’s sheath, but nary a strand was worse for the wear. The Slimline Elite would be an excellent choice for bigwall rats and grade IV tradsters. Go with the 10.8mm size if you want the extra bulk and security for jugging; use the 10.3mm when weight is more important, e.g. on long day routes where the second may be jugging for speed. Options include 60- or 70-meter lengths, and Blue Water’s proven Double Dry treatment. yates. com; ON THAT SAME DIRTFEST, I had to endure the incessant, spindrift-like rockfall that rained upon my head as James tried to French free A3. Thanks to Kong’s Scarab Helmet, the most expensive lid on the market, I barely noticed the pummeling. I just smiled as tangerine104 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE



I SEE THE WORLD through soot-colored glasses, so often taking the dim view that I forget the sun also rises. Then, I find myself surprised by that great ball of fire, bearing down with its life-affirming heat, thawing my icy soul, but also blinding me. Here, in mountainous Colorado, with its rarified air and 300 splitter days a year, sunglasses are key. While some models supposedly change with the light, I’ve yet to find much veracity (or efficacy) to those claims. Enter Native Eyewear, with its sleek Silencer Sunglasses, which come with four different flavors of easily interchangeable lenses. The polarized grey is perfect for bluebird days; the orange crystal has 57 percent visual light transmittance (VLT), awesome in the gloaming or under mildly overcast skies; the yellow crystal, with 80 percent VLT, brings a rainy or snowy day to sparkling life; and the clear crystal, at 98 percent VLT, is good in a windstorm or blizzard. I tested the Silencer at the crags and on the slopes. Although the shades tended to steam up with exertion (but no more so than other sunglasses), their feather weight (0.7 ounces) and all-day comfort more than offset this deficiency. These aren’t, however, for the fastand-light crowd—you need to pack the slim glasses case and extra lenses with you to take advantage of the Silencer’s finest feature. These shades are better out cragging (where the yellow and orange lenses really bring out micro features in low light) or for mellow summer mountaineering. And, if dealing with all those lenses becomes too much, just pick your favorite color and wear it, leaving the others at home. —MATT SAMET

sized rocks pinged off my helmet. The Scarab’s most impressive feature is its 10-ounce weight—you literally don’t notice that you’re wearing a helmet. The polysytrene shell, a la a bike helmet (and, in fact, is the only climbing helmet on the market also certified for bike and kayak use), is cut with 21 gills for ventilation. My favorite feature was the padding on the inside of the helmet and on the chinstrap. I amused myself by banging on the Scarab with my fist and feeling nothing but pillow softness on my dome. Also, adjusting the helmet is

simply a matter of diddling a little pushand-spin wheel on a rear strap. Atop Echo Tower’s exposed ridge summit, I found some dents in the Scarab’s exterior. The foam was completely intact, however, proving the helmet could take a fairly serious battering. The real test of any helmet, of course, is whether you will always tote and wear it—common excuses for not doing so include extra weight, the dork factor and lack of comfort. The Scarab invalidates such lame thinking. —ANDREW BISHARAT JUNE 05 | R O C K A N D I C E . C O M 105

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Various combinations of additives such as silica, carbon black, oil and curatives go into climbing-shoe rubber—no one ingredient makes rubber sticky. According to Five Ten’s rubber chef, Charles Cole, each manufacturer has its own recipe, adding certain ingredients at certain temperatures and pressures to cook up a proprietary rubber blend. What separates climbing rubber from other rubber is its ability to interlock with the surface it contacts. Imagine climbing rubber oozing into microscopic rock pores and around protrusions, and you get a rough picture of how interlocking works. Certain rubbers do so better than others. “Great interlock,” says Cole, “is what makes for super-sticky climbing rubber.” Stiff, high-friction rubbers have greater friction than softer compounds, since once interlocked, a stiffer rubber is harder to dislodge. “Best friction,” says Cole, “will occur with the hardest rubber that will still interlock.” Ironically, friction improves as rubber gets colder and harder, right up until the rubber gets so hard that it skates. This is one reason why climbers in the know wait for cold weather to try hard routes. According to Cole, most climbing rubbers start yielding extremely high friction at about 50 to 55 degrees F, with incremental advances as temperatures drop. If you do find yourself skating on smears, try reducing the amount of rubber contact with the smear—perhaps by edging. This increases the force on the rubber and might give you the necessary interlock to stick.



Aluminum, a metal alloy, does not degrade over time. However, according to Kolin Powick, quality assurance manager for Black Diamond Equipment, there is a big difference between a 15-year-old unused carabiner and one that has seen a lot of wear and tear. An unused carabiner, regardless of age, will be just as strong today as it was at birth. Used carabiners, however, will weaken. Grooves sawed into the carabiner by 108 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE

the rope, the constant stretch caused by loading and unloading, corrosion, and nicks and cuts caused by the rock, other pieces of gear and misguided hammer blows will reduce a carabiner’s strength. Assuming that your carabiners are in mint condition, they should be fi ne. In the 1980s, some carabiners did suffer from a manufacturing defect that caused minute stress fractures around the hinge pins. Carefully examine your ancient carabiners before clipping them to your rack. Carabiner technology such as hot and cold forging and wire gates have made today’s carabiners much stronger and lighter than those from the Reagan era. My suggestion: Sell those relics on eBay and use the profi ts to upgrade your rack.

Have a question for Gear Guy? Send it to If we use it in the next issue, you will receive, FREE, the following product from Grivel:

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According to Scott Newell of Blue Water Ropes, ropes and slings break at their sharpest radius, where loads concentrate. Since knots twist and turn, forming a radius, they are the weakest point on a sling. Sewn runners are stronger because the splice and stitching transmits the load evenly across the full length of the runner. In most cases, the webbing itself is weaker than the splice. The assumption, of course, is that the stitching is done properly— don’t try to sew slings yourself! While knotted slings are weaker than sewn ones, they are far from weak. Tests conducted by Blue Water show that a knotted sling broke at the knot at 7,417 pounds while a sewn sling broke at 8,069. (The strength of your runners will vary depending on the type of webbing and diameter.) Rather than lose sleep over the inherently lower strength of knots, do concern yourself with keeping those knots tied. Webbing is slippery and knots tend to work themselves loose. Keep the knot tails at least two inches long, and “set” every knot by bouncing on it. Wetting the webbing then bouncing on the knot will set it the best, but make the knot impossible to untie. Check every knot in your sling arsenal before every climb.


5 1

Tips To Get You Outta That Fix


The great debate over rap knots still rages. Some use the double fisherman, which is bombproof, but bulky. Some use the “Euro Death Knot,” which is nothing more than an overhand; it has a low profile, but can “roll,” inverting and untying itself if wrongly loaded. The butterfly knot (see illustration), known among knot freaks as the “perfect lead,” meaning it can’t roll, and has the advantages of a low profile and an easy untie. Although climbers wishing to tie in to a rope’s center normally use this knot, it can also be used to tie two ends together. As with all rap knots, leave about eight inches of tail, dress the knot and pull it tight. BEN ZARTMAN, MARIPOSA, CALIFORNIA ▲


2 4





It really sucks when you rap to a station or the ground and your rap ropes won’t pull. Try this: Separately pull hard on each end of the rope and then let go of one end. The sudden release decreases the friction on that end of the rope and makes it easier to pull the other side through the anchor. Repeat until you can no longer reach the rope and are forced to just pull normally. Also, before pulling one end out of reach, consider ascending the rope by using a friction hitch wrapped around both strands, and climb the rope to fix whatever is causing the hang up.



Fortress-like boulders with no easy way up or down are conundrums. You’d like to climb them, but how do you scrub exit holds or descend? Take a length of retired climbing rope and knot it, rope-ladder style. Tie a loop in one end, clip a few old biners to weight the end and toss it over the boulder. Have your buddy hold on to the biner end, while you batman up the ladder side. Make sure the rope won’t roll off the boulder when weighted. To descend, simply downclimb the rope—double-check that your “belayer” hasn’t let go of the rope.

3 5 When you block-lead— take a stack of pitches in a row—you must manage the rope so your lead end pulls sans tangling. At the anchor, when taking in slack, make a “butterfly” stack by laying loops back and forth across your clipin tether. Make each successive loop about an inch longer than the prior loop. Keep the stack neat and compact. When the rope comes taut to the second, belay him as usual and continue adding loops. Once the second clips into the anchor, grab the butterfly stack and quickly flip it upside down. Now that your lead end is on top, the rope spools out easily. (More tips are available on DVDs at ALLAN JOLLEY, AMGA GUIDE, NEDERLAND, COLORADO

FOWL PLAY When embarking on a pitch protected by tiedoff chicken heads, knobs and plates, it helps to carry some pre-rigged “Chicken Chokers,” which are more secure than girth-hitching sewn slings. To make a Chicken Choker, start with a sixfoot length of 9/16-inch webbing. Tie a one-inch overhand loop at one end and pass the other end through the loop. Now tie a three-inch overhand loop in this end. The finished product ends up about the same length as a shoulder-length runner. Simply drape your Chicken Choker over the head or knob and cinch down the end with the three-inch loop. RICHARD ZINNIKAS, PGH, PENNSYLVANIA

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WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? Nylon, which appeared in the 1930s, was immediately hailed as a miracle fiber. This wonder thread had a theretofore unseen strength-to-weight ratio that beat even spider silk. What’s more, the petroleum-based product was cheap and easy to manufacture and stretched like a Cirque du Soleil acrobat. It was thus the perfect choice for women’s panty hose—and for climbing ropes and slings, trumping the wimpy, heavy hemp and cotton used by vertical adventurers from Whymper to Mallory to mountain troops of the pre-WWII era. All was gnosh until the mid-1980s, when geeky, white-suited lab rats devised another petroleum product, Spectra (aka Dyneema), a high-density version of polyethylene. This textile, though costing three times more than nylon, is also three times stronger for its weight, absorbs less water than nylon and practically requires a chop saw to cut. It became the hot ticket for products from bulletproof vests to sails, and found converts in the climbing world, where featherweight Spectra slings (half the heft and bulk of nylon) and daisy chains became all the rage. But not so fast. In a fall, nylon stretches up to 30 percent, thereby dynamically absorbing the energy of a plummeting climber. Spectra stretches a scant three to five percent. “[Spectra is] nice if you’re using a daisy chain that you don’t want to stretch,” says John Yates of Yates Gear, but a fall on that daisy or sling is “literally like falling onto a cable.” (See Climb Safe No. 137 for the lowdown on static falls.) In tests, Spectra daisy chains and slings have snapped in relatively short, static drops, such as the type you’d take if you fell directly onto a daisy or a sling clipped from a piece to your harness. The breakage occurs for two related reasons. First, Spectra does not, for all practical purposes, stretch. Second, Spectra melts at a temperature 100 degrees lower than that of nylon. Since Spectra cannot stretch to gradually decelerate a falling object, the force of a fall almost instantaneously generates a tremendous amount of heat (energy), which in turn damages the material, causing it to fail. For this reason, think twice before using Spectra in static-loading situations.




Britney or Christina, Frappuccino or half-caf vanilla latte, Maxim or FHM, trad or sport—our world is full of crucial, life-defining choices. While we’ll bicker endlessly about the various merits of pop divas, Yuppie café beverages, softcore skin rags or climbing disciplines, when it comes to picking slings, we fall back on instinct or laziness, either snagging what’s cheap (nylon), or strong and light (Spectra). Your sling choice, however, truly is life affecting. Read on to find out why.

112 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE



Nylon Versus Spectra NYLON PROS ● Relatively inexpensive ● Stretches ● Holds knots ● Higher melting point than Spectra ● Holds up to repeated flexing better than Spectra ● Great “all-around” material NYLON CONS ● Absorbs more water ● Susceptible to UV degradation ● Heavier and bulkier than Spectra SPECTRA PROS ● Three times stronger by weight than nylon ● Very lightweight ● Low bulk ● Absorbs little to no water ● Highly abrasion- and cut-resistant SPECTRA CONS ● Doesn’t stretch ● Doesn’t hold knots ● Expensive ● Low melting point PROBLEM 2: Spectra

is much slicker than nylon. Knots tied in Spectra tend to unravel or pull through themselves under load. Spectra’s inability to hold a knot is one reason why Spectra webbing typically isn’t sold off the spool at climbing shops and comes only in finished, sewn products. The exception is Spectra cord, which you can purchase in raw lengths. If you use Spectra cord, read the next section very carefully: Tests conducted by Yates show that 14mm Spectra slings containing 50 percent nylon (Spectra slings and cords use nylon as “filler”) and rated to 5,600 pounds pulled through themselves at 3,660 pounds of force when tied with a water knot. Double and triple fisherman’s bends proved much stronger. While Yates only tested webbing, the lesson learned also applies to cord, which, if anything, due to its roundness is even more likely to work itself loose. If you use Spectra cord or are in a situation where you must cut and retie your sewn Spectra slings, such as threading an hourglass or backing up

a snarled-mass-of-webbing anchor, use a triple fisherman’s bend. Leave tails long enough to finish with a single fisherman’s bend. Spectra’s slipperiness has another drawback: Weighted knots can tighten such that they’re almost, or even literally, impossible to untie. Though advantageous for slings, this syndrome snarls up cordelettes and webolettes, which you re-rig, tie and then untie at every belay. Finally, Spectra doesn’t resist the degradation caused by flexing as well as nylon does. The repeated bending action of a Spectra sling through a cam stem, for example, breaks down the textile fibers more quickly than nylon ones. For this reason, Bill Belcourt of Black Diamond recommends replacing Spectra runners and cam slings more frequently than nylon ones, “especially if you’re using them hard.” By now, you’re probably ready to pawn your Spectra slings on eBay. Mistake. In the field, both Spectra and nylon perform well. Choosing between the two, as we’ll see below, isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. With no documented instance of a Spectra sling failing in a real-world situation, there are even certain functions where it is superior to nylon.


IT’S A HARD-KNOCK LIFE Here are some guidelines, drawn from common climbing situations, to help you choose between the two materials and decide when and how to use each. Remember, these are just guidelines: Let common sense and experience dictate your decision-making. As a general rule, don’t use Spectra in situations where the sling or daisy chain alone must hold a fall, or when there’s very little rope in the system. Examples include: 1. DAISY-CHAIN FALL: If you connect yourself to a nearby piece, usually an aid placement, with the daisy chain rather than the rope, and pitch, the fall factor (length of fall divided by the amount of rope catching the fall) generates tremendous forces that can rip or break placements. Worse, these types of falls can cause internal injuries. John Dill, head of YOSAR, reports that he’s “seen injuries out there, busted ribs, guys sore for days” after taking daisy-chain falls. Adds Yates, Spectra daisy chains for aid climbers, “are not a good idea.” A nylon daisy JUNE 05 | R O C K A N D I C E . C O M 113

CLIMB SAFE �������� �����

is the preferred tool, but still is not recommended for catching falls. Your best bet is to hone your aid technique such that you’ll never again lead above a daisy chain—Spectra or nylon—clipped to a low piece. 2. FALL ONTO THE FIRST PIECE OF PRO:

As in a daisy-chain fall, when you drop onto the first piece of gear—a common scenario on multi-pitch routes—you hit hard because there’s little rope in the sys-

IN A PERFECT WORLD ... Besides having certain advantages for cordelettes, daisy chains and runners, nylon remains the best material for rigging rappels. Nylon webbing is cheap and easy to buy in bulk, holds knots, readily cuts to length and doesn’t melt as quickly as Spectra—a plus in those dicey situations when you’re sans rap rings or carabiners and must thread the rope directly through the sling. On the other hand, Spectra runners

BY NOW, YOU’RE PROBABLY READY TO PAWN YOUR SPECTRA SLINGS ON EBAY. MISTAKE. IN THE FIELD, BOTH SPECTRA AND NYLON PERFORM WELL. tem to elongate, and decelerate your fall. To soften the blow, use a nylon runner on your first piece. Though nylon stretches ever so slightly, at least it stretches some. (Also, use a fresh rope with a low impactforce rating, which will keep forces even lower.) As you climb past that first piece and introduce more rope into the system, thereby lowering the fall factor, you can runner-up the rest of the pitch with light and tidy Spectra.



Another common mistake, this happens when you girthhitch a sling to your belay loop and clip the sling to a placement to hang and rest, or to temporarily anchor yourself independent of the rope. Then, you either slip and fall onto the sling, or resume climbing, forgetting to unclip ... and lob. Again, the fall factor—and forces—are extremely high. Use a nylon sling instead of a Spectra one as your impromptu “daisy.”



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This happens when a cordelette goes slack, usually because your belayer is fi shing a bagel out of the haulbag or generally dicking around when he suddenly slips and hammers directly onto the anchor. While both a nylon and Spectra cordelette are shock-loaded here, the nylon will stretch and dissipate energy, even if only a little, reducing the impact force and helping equalize the cordelette. A static, Spectra cordelette transmits higher forces to the anchors; unless the cordelette is perfectly equalized, it will load one placement more than the others. Bad juju. 114 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE

are so streamlined and superlight you can carry nearly twice the number for the nylon equivalents. Spectra also has a decisive edge in ice and alpine climbing, and mountaineering. In these cold, wet pursuits, nylon slings can freeze stiff and become as unusable as your popsicled fingers. Spectra, because it absorbs less water, remains more pliable. In the fi nal analysis neither nylon nor Spectra is perfect. As Belcourt says, “Spectra and nylon are both good materials. You just have to use them the right way.” In short, carry a mix of slings, using nylon when its advantages shine, and Spectra when appropriate. Buy wisely, climb smart and save your mental energy to help solve the ever-vexing Britney-versus-Christina dilemma. ■


Spectra����������� Do’s and ������ Don’ts DON’T ● Use a Spectra sling as an impromptu “daisy chain.” ● Lead above a Spectra (or nylon) daisy chain clipped to a piece below you. ● Use knotted Spectra slings.


DO ● Frequently check Spectra slings, including those on your cams, for wear. ● Use a triple fisherman’s knot to tie Spectra cord.

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(continued from page 98) fell on the second pitch of Swept Away, a 5.11a at Joshua Tree, his partner lowered him all the way to the ground so that he’d have to climb the first pitch again for a true free ascent. Their staunch ethic has since informed his view of the sport: While Reardon occasionally sport climbs, “bouncing on the rope a time or two,” he prefers soloing, trad climbing and bouldering.



this thread, where Reardon’s first-ever solos of Moonbeam Crack (5.13a) and Watusi (5.12c), were especially called into question. “If you’re going to beat your chest, at least have some proof … Another thing, don’t go overgrading routes to boost your ‘image’—you may fool your Hollywood friends but you don’t fool the real climbers.” In the same thread, others tried to


Reardon, though quick to downplay such comparisons, has amassed an impressive string of solos to rival those of Bachar and Croft. He is arguably one of the best free soloists in the world right now.

Concurrently, Reardon also began frequenting the greasy, urban bouldering proving ground of Stoney Point, where he proudly sported the garb of the time—too-big Fires, hideous Lycra and thick wool socks. “I have a bit of an abrasive personality,” confesses Reardon. “So I’m sure that caused some problems with other climbers.” At Stoney, he freesoloed the toprope The Prow (5.11a), a high, crumbly edge line, announcing his presence in a big way.


eardon had begun free soloing serendipitously. Lacking a solid full-time partner, he had returned to Idyllwild and, just six weeks into his climbing career, simply gone ahead ropeless. “The ratings never meant anything,” says Reardon, who was soloing 5.8s by then, including a journey up the three-pitch Fingertrip at Tahquitz. “I just wanted to climb.” Ironically, it is Reardon’s soloing that has drawn the most fire, especially from the cutthroat SoCal climbing community. Reardon, who quietly honed his soloing abilities, mostly at Malibu Creek and Joshua Tree, over the years, has, in fact, amassed an impressive string of solos to rival those of Bachar and Croft (though Reardon is quick to downplay such comparisons). He is arguably one of the best free soloists in the world right now. Threads like “Where’s the pics M. Reardon?” posted by “Doubting Thomas” at, a site run by the Joshua Tree maven Todd Gordon, tore into Reardon for purportedly lying about his 280-route day at Josh. “Well? We’re all waiting to see them,” continued Thomas in

debunk Reardon’s claims by citing his “lack of performance” before and after his marathon J-Tree day. Other “real” climbers have posted similar slag on other forums. Reardon’s most vehement opponent has been “Kalcario,” whom, Reardon suspects, was behind the homosexual-impostor postings (Kalcario did not return email for this article), postings that the goodnatured Gordon says he didn’t delete because “I didn’t know how to!” One day at Indian Cove, Reardon ran into Gordon, where, during a friendly discussion, Reardon decided to just “blow [the acrimony] off, because what purpose did it serve to be mad at him?” And Gordon calls Reardon’s February 2005 solos of Equinox and EBGBs “ground-breaking and history-making climbing feats of talent, focus, drive and boldness,” and absolutely believes Reardon completed his 280-route day. “Anyone who can free-solo Equinox can do 280 routes in a day,” says Gordon, who studied the 280-route list at Reardon’s site, and knowing J-Tree well, sees the feat as quite feasible. And Reardon himself points out that Moonbeam Crack, Condor, Watusi and Leave it to Beaver were the only 5.12 or harder solos, with many of the other routes being shorter and/or more moderate. With his flyaway hair, bare torso, tattooed biceps, Superman shorts and omnipresent iPod, Reardon, however, is hard to miss, with plenty of witnesses to his accomplishments. One is veteran climber Dennis Rutherford, who took photos of Reardon’s Joshua Tree odyssey. Another is Mark Niles, 45, who has climbed with Reardon for 13 years and often photographed Reardon soloing. JUNE 05 | R O C K A N D I C E . C O M 117

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MICHAEL REARDON “The first time I saw Michael was at Malibu Creek. He was climbing Skeezer Pleaser (5.11b) naked, with a rope,” says Niles. “Why? Because Michael’s Michael.” Recalls Niles, who went back to The Vampire with Reardon to shoot photos, “There’s been moments, like The Vampire, where you just realize you’re watching somebody put it all on the line … knowing these are not show-off solos and he’s in total control, just climbing in an eggshell, focusing on what’s immediately around him.” Niles attributes much of the negativity focused on Reardon to the insular nature of the SoCal climbing scene, where 5.12/5.13 represents the pinnacle of success and where Reardon, emerging from relative obscurity, was suddenly climbing such grades ropeless. “My beef is that [my detractors] are in a position to influence, but they don’t come up to me and ask, ‘Did you do it?’” says Reardon. “Instead, they come up and go, ‘I heard you did this thing—what the f—k is up with that?’ They come up with that negative attitude first.” So, depending on your viewpoint, either Reardon and friends are conspiring to perpetrate one of the biggest hoaxes ever on the climbing


community, or people have simply been unwilling to embrace the magnitude of his accomplishments. “Michael is the vocal guy—he’s climbing harder and he’s certainly bolder than anyone down here right now. A lot of it comes back to jealousy,” says Niles. “He’s the guy at the top, and everybody’s trying to knock him off.” Niles has also noticed that in the last two years, Reardon, climbing full-time using earnings from his successful Cabin Fever, has become notably more focused, doing double-duty training sessions, increasing his aerobic capacity, watching what he eats and almost eliminating his beloved red wine from his diet. His solos, in short, are not one-off stunts or media whoring. Reardon solos almost every day he goes climbing. Niles, Reardon’s climbing partner since 1989, has been along every step of the way, from seconding, with only Reardon’s “butt belay” for security, a new 5.11a pitch on Queen Mountain in Joshua Tree, to being part of the “Mojo Club” and participating in each year’s “Stupid Summer Stunt” (more later). Another Reardon proponent is John Bachar, who has made Reardon one of

the few members of the shoe manufacturer’s Team Acopa. “He’s a strong little motherf—ker,” says Bachar. Bachar says Reardon earned a lot of “street cred” when he almost sent, in one day, the aptly named Blade Runner, on Trifle Tower at Deadman’s Summit, a problem Bachar calls as hard as Midnight Lightning. Reardon also kept up with Bachar on numerous 5.10 and 5.11 highballs. Likewise, the pair have bonded during the making of Reardon’s John Bachar: Man, Myth, Legend, a film about the ultra-talented free soloist, who himself was vilified for both his dogmatic anti-rap-bolting stance and visionary soloing exploits. “I just think any time people solo, the haters are coming out,” says Bachar. “I give everybody 100 points when I meet them, then you get deducted.” On the Bachar scale, Reardon is still at 100. In fact, at the 2005 winter trade show, Bachar defended Reardon to a dubious Ivo Ninov, a California fixture, who said, “I don’t think he soloed Equinox. I don’t think he’s such a strong climber.” Bachar then said he’d seen photos of Reardon firing the route, which Peter Croft had once tried to solo, requiring a rescue at


Many climbers erroneously assume that a thin-diameter rope also indicates a lightweight rope, motivating some rope manufacturers to err on the small side when reporting diameters. Fact is, some smalldiameter ropes can be heavier than fatter ropes! While rope weight is related to diameter, don’t assume that small ropes are the lightest. Rather than rely entirely on rope diameter, check out a rope’s weightper-meter as noted on the hangtag. This number will accurately tell the tale. Also don’t assume that the lightest rope is the best for all applications. Rope WEIGHT is dictated only by the amount of nylon in the rope. Rope DIAMETER is affected by additional factors including yarn treatment and weave. Therefore, a rope with highly treated yarn or a special weave may be lighter weight and have lower impact forces than another rope of the same diameter with more yarn in it.


(212) 227-1760 (800) 237-1760 118 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE

MICHAEL REARDON two-thirds height when his fingers went numb on a cold day. All Ninov could say was, “Oh, shit.” And while the technique-obsessed Bachar says Reardon could still polish his footwork, he calls Reardon a “straight-up guy” who doesn’t seem out to fool people.

in one of Reardon’s classes, immediately offered Reardon an internship at Universal Television after Reardon hollered that the embattled stinker Boxing Helena, the topic of discussion, “sucked.” In 2001, Reardon, Weisberger and Jeff Hoffman formed Black Sky Entertainment, the company responlimbing aside, Reardon has also sible for Cabin Fever. Today, Reardon been a literal rags-to-riches has over 40 films, including his own success in Hollywood, rising Climb On! series (“a traveling road through the ranks to become a bigshow,” says Reardon, that filmed at money producer/director with an entersuch venues as Joshua Tree, Bishop tainment-law degree from Pepperdine, and Red Rocks) to his credit, and earned in 1999, and over 20 years’ has run business affairs for Harvey experience in the business (including Entertainment (Richie Rich, Casper’s a brief stint as a child actor). And it is Haunted Christmas). Besides wealth, exactly this success—in particular the his stint in Tinseltown has gained him 2003 horror/humor flick Cabin Fever knowledge of many an apocryphal tale (think Evil Dead II meets the Farrelly of big-name actors and power players Brothers), which grossed $50 million— engaging in unspeakably deviant sexual that has allowed him his recent freeacts. (Pump him full of wine—he might dom to climb and work on the Bachar spill the dirt.) His latest venture is documentary. Jumprunner Productions, from which Nevertheless, Reardon’s career path the first film will be Bachar: Man, in Tinseltown has been somewhat cirMyth, Legend, and he is still partners cuitous. Emerging from hair rock’s with Weisberger and Hoffman. downward spiral, Reardon entered Despite his serious business side, music video and advertisement directReardon is, as Marci, says, “a big kid,” ing/producing, and then moved into the a hooligan seemingly descended from world. Here, while beginning the Norse prankster god Loki. Two his college push, prime examples he founded a are the “Mojo “I give everybody 100 points Club” and the website-building when I meet them, then you “Stupid Summer company, TGRS, get deducted.” On the Bachar Stunt” (and its in 1991. TGRS scale, Reardon is still at 100. had such clients companion, the as Mitsubishi and “Stupid Winter UCLA online. Stunt”). Reardon sold TGRS the same year he To join the Mojo Club, according graduated (1996), establishing Nikki’s to Niles, you must do a sport climb, college trust fund. Then it was on to trad climb and boulder problem naked, Pepperdine law school, during which and know all the lyrics to one Mojo he served as factotum on any film projNixon song. Niles himself is one naked ect to which he could attach himself, ascent short of membership. Reardon, “working for free, damn near every of course, whose naked solo of the time” to learn each aspect of the busiNeedles’ Airy Interlude (5.10b) last ness from the inside out. summer drew much attention—is a At Pepperdine, Reardon, true to form, full-fledged member. raised Cain. “One very devout Christian Niles recalls some of Reardon’s more law professor and I got into a screaming “Jackass”-ian summer stunts, the standmatch,” says Reardon. “He was talkout being the time he wrapped himself ing about the evils of abortion, and I in bubble wrap and slid on a plastic told him that as long as he has a penis snow saucer down a steep, 100-yard and can’t give birth, his opinion really scree chute at Mount Williamson. doesn’t count. For that, he called me Some of Reardon and Niles’ most harthe Anti-Christ.” rowing hijinks came on the high seas, Also at Pepperdine, Reardon, the selfhowever, when they spent a summer described “obnoxious guy always yellsailing around the Pacific Ocean off the ing from the back of the classroom,” coast of Southern California. met his future business partner Glenn “We came upon a new sport where you Weisberger. Weisberger, a guest speaker toss a 100-foot slippery nylon clothes-




JUNE 05 | R O C K A N D I C E . C O M 119

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Where old school joins new school Lynn Hill’s Climbing Camps

Moab, UT - May 16th-20th Eldorado Canyon, CO - June 6th-10th Vedauwoo, WY - July 11th-15th New River Gorge, WV - October 10th-14th Smith Rock, OR - October 31st-November 4th


MICHAEL REARDON line in the water with you on the end of it until the line goes taut against the moving boat,” Reardon says. “You go straight down for a good 20 feet then have to work your way back up and pull yourself to the boat without drowning.” One day, not realizing they were practicing their new pastime in the wake of a commercial fishing boat, they essentially served as shark bait, especially horrific for Niles, who has a paralyzing fear of these marine predators. The pair also kayaked around Catalina Island without life jackets in huge swells, with Reardon humming the Jaws theme to Niles. Niles later exacted revenge by throwing bread in the water when Reardon was swimming in a protected cove. “About 30 of these three-foot-long fish beat the hell out of me trying to get the bread,” says Reardon. “I got knocked in the ’nads too many times to count.” Reardon’s coup de grace is perhaps one of his “Stupid Winter Stunts,” involving nudity, a snow saucer, a culvert, pillow, duct tape, hockey mask, goggles, football helmet and a huge dead tree. Barreling through the pitchblack, 100-foot culvert, his head protected by the football helmet over the goggles over the hockey mask, and his chest protected by a pillow duct-taped to it, Reardon launched over a 25-foot frozen waterfall onto the 70-degree snow slope below. “I just kept going and going,” says Reardon with a laugh, “rocketing down the snow toward this huge dead tree. I hit that thing square—didn’t slow up an inch. I limped for a while afterward, but I survived.” Reardon also includes his family in his climbing (Marci has watched him solo, but Nikki is usually not allowed to) and less-dangerous stunts. Last summer, Michael, Marci and Nikki climbed the multi-pitch Tree Route (5.6) on The Dome, near the Needles, stopping at each belay to blow bubbles and hang out, enjoying the staggering views of the High Sierras and the Kern River Valley. “We love coming out to the Needles,” says Marci. “Camping in the dirt isn’t my favorite thing, but Michael loves it when I come out there. Because I cook, he actually gets full meals.” Such deluxe camping certainly represents a step up from Reardon’s early days at Josh, when he would survive an entire weekend on nothing but two bottles of red wine and a can of ravioli. Marci, in truth, backs Reardon’s choice to free solo. 120 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE

MICHAEL REARDON “How can you ask someone you love to stop doing what it is they do?” asks Marci (“the Picasso of bitches,” jokes Reardon, who says she is also his best friend, especially after 12 years of marriage and a one-sided courtship— Reardon’s—that lasted a year). She has only once asked Reardon to stop soloing, while she was pregnant with Nikki. “I don’t think soloing is a bad thing if you do it for all the right reasons,” she says. “That why I laugh when all these frickin’ putzes go off on him. You feel like getting on a bullhorn and going, ‘What the f—k is your problem?’” Reardon’s inner practical joker also has what some might call an arrogant, vicious side. By his own admission he has, at Red Rocks and the Happy Boulders, twice gone head to head with dog owners after their roving, ravenous canines scarfed his lunch. “I went over to their packs,” says Reardon, “booted the pooch, tossed all their shit out everywhere and either ate or pissed on their food.” In both cases, the dog owners weren’t “particularly happy with [him],” though fisticuffs didn’t ensue. Another all-time Reardon prank was part of his summer 2004, four-route day on Temple Crag (a feat first pioneered by Peter Croft, who climbed up all the routes; Reardon chose to downclimb the 5.7 Venusian Blind Arete). During his solo of the notorious Dark Star (V 5.10c), feared for its length, tricky routefinding and loose rock, he left tiny plastic barnyard animals engaged in various sexual acts as a “big f—k you” to anyone who had doubts about the veracity of his solos. Climbing behind him, however, was Todd Smith, an REI district-events administrator and well-respected climber of Encinitas, California. “I just remember the smell of coffee brewing at 3:30 a.m.,” says Smith, who told Reardon he couldn’t believe he was getting up at such a cold, ungodly hour to solo Dark Star, the longest multi-pitch route in the Sierra (34 ropelengths). Up on the route later, Smith recalls “finding tiny farm animals stuck in the cracks, little pigs, chalk marks, etc.” After spending all day climbing, Smith and his partner found a note from Reardon on the summit reading simply: “Waited for you guys up here. Hope you found my trail of animals to help you along the way. Oink, oink!” Smith, already a fan of Reardon’s, was now a true believer. “He’s beyond everybody right now,”

says Smith. “He’s in a world of his own. Reardon’s got some of the best footwork of any climber I’ve seen … and I don’t think anybody in Southern California has seen anyone climbing at this magnitude in a long time. The last time anyone was doing this was Bachar and Croft.” “Anything he says he’s done, there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s done it,” concludes Smith.


n our penultimate day in the Needles, before Reardon and family generously invite me to their spiffy Oak Park town home, I shoot photos of Reardon soloing the 5.9 exit pitch of Fancy Free (5.10c). Cruising up and down the pitch’s splitter hand crack so we can get a good angle, Reardon is obviously in his element, comfortable 300 feet off the deck. He even pauses to give me the finger and practice his thousand-yard stare, looking past the lens in a parody of the vacant gaze captured on the visages of many recent soloists. I snap the image with my digital camera, and we laugh. The morning I’m to fly out of L.A., Reardon, the über-strong Tom Bristow and I head to Stoney Point so I can tour this historic bouldering area. Sliding off the “5.10” warm-ups, all of which seem to involve footless lunges to tweaky, malformed pin scars, I watch as the pair move gracefully through their circuit despite scorcher conditions. Here, again, Reardon is at home, his mind far removed from the controversy his climbing feats and outsized personality have generated. He plays on the boulders, happy to be outside even on a sweltering day at an area he’s been frequenting for 17 years. Hungover and cranky from a wine-tasting party the night before, I grow testier which each subsequent smackdown. We walk around the back of the mound to a singular arete, the Kodas Corner, a V3 that feels about V11 in the sun. I paw fruitlessly at the edge, then de-shoe in disgust. Reardon, meanwhile, floats the problem, damn him. Unfortunately, I don’t have my digital camera at the ready to provide unequivocal proof of his ascent. “Dude, don’t worry about it—Stoney’s a pile,” Reardon says as I fester and pout, “But at least we’re out climbing.” Amen, brother. Matt Samet, not a former glam rocker, is Senior Editor at Rock and Ice. JUNE 05 | R O C K A N D I C E . C O M 121

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FREE GEAR GIVEAWAY. Visit Solid Rock - Climbers for Christ offers community and the Good News to climbers

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JUNE 05 | R O C K A N D I C E . C O M 125

ROCK GYMS COLORADO Boulder. BOULDER ROCK CLUB - Colorado’s Premier Climbing Gym. 800-836-4008 Breckenridge. BRECKENRIDGE RECREATION CENTER CLIMBING WALL. 880 Airport Road, Breckenridge, CO 80424; 970-547-4324 Denver. PARADISE ROCK GYM. The best!! 6260 N. Washington St., Unit 5, Denver, CO 80216; 303-286-8168. Denver. THRILLSEEKERS. 300 Ft. MEGA bouldering traverse, 5 lead arches. 38 topropes, 12,000 sq. ft.,

Torrington. ALL ADVENTURE LLC. 634 Migeon Ave Torrington, CT 06790, 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.

Glenwood Springs. COLORADO MOUNTAIN 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

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Rockville. SPORTROCK


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New Bedford. CARABINER’S INDOOR CLIMBING INC. 32,600 sq.ft. of climbing; 65 ft. walls; all leadable 112 topropes; 45 ft. outdoor portable tower. 328 Parker St New Bedford, MA 02740; 508-984-0808; F 508-984-7577;;

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


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,

Orlando. AIGUILLE ROCK CLIMBING CENTER. Orlando’s indoor climbing gym. 9,500 square feet of climbing and bouldering, proshop and yoga. 999 Charles St., Longwood, FL 32750; 407-332-1430;

Atlanta. ATLANTA ROCKS! INTOWN/PERIMETER GYMS. The largest gyms in the Southeast, offer challenging climbing on 12,000/6,000 square feet of seamless, textured climbing surface, featuring multi-tiered, wildly overhangon terrain so realistic, it seems ing ledges 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;

Colorado Springs. SPORT CLIMBING CENTER. Colorado’s ultimate indoor climbing destination. Spacious. Over 13,000 square feet. Guiding available. 4650 Northpark Dr., 80918; 719-260-1050;


Suwanee. ADRENALINE CLIMBING. Metro Atlanta’s tallest climbing gym & best routes. 6,000 s.f. Radwall design. Complex, seamless angles; massive, arching boulder island; Beginner to expert. Outdoor guiding. 460 Brogdon Rd Suwanee 30024; 770-271-1390;

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); Chicago. LINCOLN PARK ATHLETIC CLUB. 773-529-2022; Chicago. VERTICAL ENDEAVORS. 18,000ft2 of climbing on 40 ft. walls. 19 auto belays. Programs and outdoor guiding for all ages. 630-836-0122 Crystal Lake. NORTH WALL. 815-356-6855; Evanston. EVANSTON ATHLETIC 847-866-6190; Homewood. CLIMB Ave, Homewood, IL


ON. 18120 Harwood 60430; 708-798-9994;

INDIANA Bloomington. HOOSIER HEIGHTS. 8,500 square feet of climbable terrain. Outdoor Trips. New Bloomington site May 2005 with 10,000+ square feet.; 812 824-6414

Woburn. BOSTON ROCK GYM. New England’s most experienced gym (est. 1989). Most varied climbing, most varied programs (indoor and out). Over 65 ropes (top-rope, lead, and bouldering) with 15,000 sq. ft. of terrain. Newly expanded, centrally located. Something for everyone of all ages. Call 781-935-PEAK (7325);

MICHIGAN 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 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 portable climbing walls. Ann Arbor 734-827-2680; Pontiac 248-334-3904; www Grand Rapids. HIGHER GROUND ROCK CLIMBING CENTRE, LTD. 851 Bond NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503; 616-774-3100;

MINNESOTA Rochester. PRAIRIE WALLS CLIMBING GYM. 507-292-0511 St. Paul / Duluth. VERTICAL ENDEAVORS. The Twin Cities facility (651-776-1430) offers 18,200ft2 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.

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

NEW HAMPSHIRE Manchester. VERTICAL DREAMS CLIMBING GYM INC; 250 Commercial St (5th Floor), Manchester, NH 03101;

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

Tigard. CLUBSPORT ADVENTURE CENTER. 11,500 sq. ft., 45 ft high textured walls; 18120 SW Lower Boones Ferry Rd. Tigard, OR 97224; 503-968-4535;

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

STREET ROCK GYM. Marlboro. WALL 908-412-1255;

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

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;

Pittsburgh. THE CLIMBING WALL at the factory. 14,500 square feet. 7501 Penn Ave., 15208; 412-247-7334;

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 best just doubled in size! Topout bouldering, two lead caves, guiding, complete climbing shop. 505-341-2016, Santa Fe. SANTA FE CLIMBING CENTER. 825 Early St Ste A, Santa Fe, NM. 87505;


Mechanicsburg. CLIMBNASIUM. 339 North Locust Point Rd Mechanicsburg, PA. 17050; 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

Albany. ALBANY’S INDOOR ROCK GYM. Over 6,000 square feet of climbing. Labyrinth system. 4C Vatrano Road, Albany, New York; 518-459-7625; Buffalo/Niagara Falls. NIAGARA CLIMBING CENTER.; 716-695-1248

Nashville. CLIMB NASHVILLE; 615-463-7625;

New Paltz. THE INNER WALL . Main St., Eckerd’s Plaza, New Paltz, NY; 845-255-7625.


New York. EXTRAVERTICAL CLIMBING CENTER; 61 W 62nd St New York NY 10023 (Broadway between 62nd & 63rd St);

Carrollton. EXPOSURE ROCK CLIMBING. Over 9,000 square feet of climbing, excellent bouldering and gear shop. Portable climbing wall available. Frisco. CANYONS OF FRISCO CLIMBING GYM. 7164 Technology Dr Ste 202 Frisco TX 75034;

WASHINGTON 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; Tacoma. EDGEWORKS CLIMBING. 6102 North 9th St. Tacoma, WA 98406;




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;


Provo. QUARRY INDOOR CLIMBING CENTER. 2494 N. University Pkwy Provo, UT 84604; 801-418-0266

Madison. BOULDERS CLIMBING GYM. 3964 Commercial Ave. Madison, WI 53714;

Cleveland. CLEVELAND ROCK GYM, INC. 216-692-3300;


Schenectady. ELECTRIC CITY ROCK 518-388-2704;


NORTH CAROLINA Charlotte. INNER PEAKS CLIMBING CENTER. 9535 Monroe Rd., Ste. 170, Charlotte, NC 28270; 704-844-6677;

OKLAHOMA Oklahoma City. OKC ROCKS. Tallest Artificial Climb in America - 145 ft. Awesome lead routes, TR’s and Bouldering. 405- 319-1400;


Alexandria. SPORTROCK Sterling. SPORTROCK





Portland. PORTLAND ROCK GYM. 21 NE 12th Portland, OR 97232; 503-232-8310 ;

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

OREGON Bend. INCLIMB ROCK GYM. 550 SW Industrial Way #39 Bend OR 97702; 541-388-6764;;

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;

BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY Virginia Beach. VIRGINIA BEACH ROCK GYM. 6,000 square feet, 33 foot textured wall with roofs, aretes, slabs, cracks and bulges. Toprope & lead, bouldering, rappelling, pro-shop. Open everyday. 5049 Southern Blvd., VA Beach, VA 23462; 757-499-8347;

Climbing Gym Business FOR SALE! Silverthorne, CO, 5,000 sq. ft. Contact: 303-447-0512

JUNE 05 | R O C K A N D I C E . C O M 127

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

ALASKA ALASKA MOUNTAINEERING & HIKING 2633 Spenard Rd. Anchorage, AK 99503 907-272-1811 F 907-274-6362 ALASKA ROCK GYM 4840 Fairbanks Street Anchorage AK 99503 907-562-7265 F 907-561-7291

✓ TALKEETNA OUTDOOR CENTER INC. PO Box 748 1 Front St. Talkeetna AK 99676 (907) 733-4444 F 907-733-2230 800-349-0064

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

AZ ON THE ROCKS INDOOR CLIMBING INC. 16447 N 91st Street #105 Scottsdale AZ 85260 480-502-9777

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

OVER THE CRUX 2655 W Guadalupe Ste #4 Mesa AZ 85202 480-890-0997 866-808-CRUX SUMMIT HUT 5045 E Speedway Tucson AZ 85712 800-499-8696

SUMMIT HUT 605 E Wetmore Tucson AZ 85705 800-499-8696


authorized dealer

UNCLE SAM’S SAFARI OUTFITTERS 1494 N. College Evelyn Hill Shopping Center Fayetteville, AR 72703 479-521-7779 F 479-442-0990

CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE 16 11161 W. Pico Blvd. West Los Angeles, CA 90064 310-473-4574 for other SO CAL locations:

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

MARMOT MOUNTAIN WORKS 3049 Adeline St. Berkeley, CA 94703 800-MARMOT-9 (627-6689) NOMAD VENTURES 405 W. Grand Ave. Escondido, CA 92025 760-747-8223 NOMAD VENTURES 54415 N. Circle Dr. Idyllwild, CA 92549 909-659-4853 NOMAD VENTURES 61795 29 Palms Hwy Joshua Tree CA 92252 760-366-4684 NOMAD VENTURES 996 A North Coast Hwy. 101 Leucadia, CA 92024 760-634-4855 NORTHERN MOUNTAIN SUPPLY 125 W. 5th St. Eureka, CA 95501 707-445-1711 F 707-445-0781 800-878-3583 REAL CHEAP SPORTS 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 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 VALLEY SPORTING GOODS McHenry Village 1700 McHenry Ave., # D50 Modesto, CA 95350 209-523-5681 F 209-523-0624 800-435-0150

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

COLORADO BACKCOUNTRY EXPERIENCE 1205 Camino Del Rio Durango CO 81301 970-247-5830 F 970-247-8013

BENT GATE MOUNTAINEERING 1313 Washington Ave Golden CO 80401 303-271-9382 F 303-271-3980 877-BENT-GATE

JAVA. . .THE HUT 208 E Hwy 24 Woodland Park CO 80863 719-687-6539 866-687-6539 F 719-687-0183

209 W Sunbridge Dr Fayetteville AR 72703 479-521-6340 F 479-521-8059 877-521-6340

TOUCHSTONE SAN JOSE 210 S. 1st St. #70 San Jose, CA 95113 408-920-6000

TOUCHSTONE CONCORD 1220 Diamond Way #140 Concord, CA 94520 925-602-1000

358 E. Elkhorn Avenue Estes Park, CO 80517 888-586-4595 THE TRAILHEAD 707 Hwy 24 North Buena Vista CO 81211 719-395-8001 F 719-395-8002 866-595-8001 WILDERNESS EXCHANGE UNLIMITED 2401 15th Street Ste 90 Denver, CO 80202 303-964-0708

GEORGIA CALL OF THE WILD 425 Market Place Roswell (Atlanta), GA 30075 770-992-5400 F 770-992-9343

THE CLIMBING STORE 3032 North Decatur Atlanta GA 30079 404-292-8834

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


ENDY’S 101 S Banker St Effingham IL 62401 217-347-0174

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

STARVED ROCK OUTFITTERS 201 Donaldson St Utica IL 61373 815-667-7170 F 815-667-9970 888-580-5510

PINE NEEDLE MOUNTAINEERING 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 So. Broadway Boulder CO 80303 303-499-1731

✓ EXPEDITIONS - BUTTERNUT’S OUTDOOR SPORTS STORE 276 Main St Great Barrington MA 01230 413-528-7737 F 413-528-8490 MOOR & MOUNTAIN 3 Railroad Street Andover, MA 01810 978-475-3665 F 978-470-1982 THE NORTH FACE 326 Newbury St Boston MA 02115 617-536-8060

MICHIGAN HIGHER GROUND OUTFITTERS 2166 Wealthy SE East Grand Rapids, MI 49506 616-459-7290 PLANET ROCK 82 Aprill Dr Ann Arbor MI 48103 734-827-2680

RAGGED MOUNTAIN EQUIPMENT Route 16-302 Intervale, NH 03845 603-356-3042 F 603-356-8815 SUMMERS BACKCOUNTRY OUTFIITTERS 16 Ashuelot St. Keene, NH 03431 603-357-5107 F 603-357-4728

NEW JERSEY CAMPMOR 810 Route 17 N Paramus NJ 07652 201-445-5000 800-CAMPMOR (266-7667)

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

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

NEW YORK LAKE PLACID MOUNTAINEERING 132 Main St Lake Placid NY 12946 518-523-7586 F 518-523-7588


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

BOSTON ROCK GEAR @ Boston Rock Gym 78 G Olympia Ave. Woburn, MA 01801 781-935-5641

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

Free shipping!

OURAY MOUNTAIN SPORTS 722 Main Ouray, CO 81427 970-325-4284


PLANET ROCK 34 Rapid St Pontiac MI 48342 248-334-3904

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

PHILLIP GALL’S OUTDOOR & SKI 1555 E New Circle Rd Lexington, KY 40509 859-266-0469 F 859-269-5190

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

INDIANA J.L. WATERS & COMPANY 109 N. College Ave. Bloomington, IN 47404 812-334-1845 800-440-1845

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

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

PIPESTONE MOUNTAINEERING 129 W Front St Missoula MT 59802 406-721-1670



DESERT ROCK SPORTS 8221 W Charleston Blvd Las Vegas NV 89117 702-254-1143 F 702-254-1050

J&H LANMARK 189 Moore Dr. Lexington, KY 40503 859-278-0730 800-677-9300

MIGUEL’S CLIMBING SHOP 1890 Natural Bridge Rd Slade KY 40376 606-663-1975

NEW HAMPSHIRE BOULDER MORTY’S 25 Otterson Street Nashua NH 03060 603-886-6789

ROCK & SNOW 44 Main St New Paltz NY 12561 845-255-1311 F 845-255-1360

TENT & TRAILS 21 Park Place New York, NY 10007 212-227-1760 800-237-1760

THE MOUNTAINEER Box 66, Route 73 Keene Valley, NY 12943 518-576-2281 F 518-576-4352

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


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

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


JESSE BROWN’S UNIVERSITY PLACE 8929 JM Keynes Dr. Ste 300-400 Charlotte NC 28262 704-510-0089 F 704-510-5333

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

OHIO SOUTH FACE GUIDES, LTD. 450 Patterson Rd Dayton OH 45419 937-626-6283 F 937-396-0573


SOUTH CAROLINA SUNRIFT ADVENTURES Highway 276 Travelers Rest SC 29690 864-834-3019 F 864-834-2679

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

TEXAS MOUNTAIN HIDEOUT 14010 Coit Rd Dallas TX 75240 888-272-8040 CLIMB MAX 2105 SE Division St Portland OR 97202 503-797-1991 F 503-236-9553 800-895-0048 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

MOUNTAIN HIDEOUT 5643 Lovers Ln Dallas TX 75209 888-613-6806 MOUNTAIN SPORTS 2025 West Pioneer Pkwy. Arlington, TX 76013 817-461-4503 800-805-9139

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

HURST 160 N 500 W (corner of Bluff and Blvd.) St. George, UT 84770 435-673-6141 F 435-628-3380 THE LEDGE extreme gear for the next step 369 South 6th Klamath Falls OR 97601 541-882-5586 F 541-882-5586

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


BUCKS COUNTY OUTFITTERS 64 E Swamp Rd Doylestown PA 18901 215-340-0633 F 215-340-9621

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

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

MAPLE LEAF INDUSTRIES 450 South 50 East Ephraim, UT 84627 435-283-4400 F 435-283-6872 800-671-5323

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

VERMONT CLIMB HIGH 191 Bank Street Burlington, VT 05401 802-865-0900 CLIMB HIGH 2438 Shelburne Rd. Shelburne, VT 05482 802-985-5055 OUTDOOR GEAR EXCHANGE 152 Cherry St. Burlington, VT 05401 802-860-0190 F 802-860-4327

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

CASCADE GUIDING SERVICES 18701 Snohomish Ave Snohomish WA 98296 425-346-9302 F 360-668-6839

FEATHERED FRIENDS 119 Yale Ave N Seattle WA 98109 206-292-2210 206-292-6292 - Mail Orders F 206-292-9667

MARMOT MOUNTAIN WORKS 827 Bellevue N.E. Bellevue, WA 98004 800-CLIMBIN

MAPLE LEAF COMPANY 450 South 50 East Ephraim UT 84627 435-283-4400 F 435-283-6872 800-671-5323

NESTOR’S SPORTING GOODS INC 99 N West End Blvd Quakertown PA 18951 215-529-0100 800-439-2858

NESTOR’S SPORTING GOODS INC 2510 MacArthur Rd Whitehall PA 18052 610-433-4060 800-898-1133

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

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

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

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

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

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

WISCONSIN WHEELER’S CAMPGROUND E. 11329 Hwy. 159 Baraboo, WI 53913 608-356-4877

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

CORE MOUNTAIN SPORTS 1019 15th Street Cody WY 82414 307-527-7354 877-527-7354

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


CANADA LA CORDEE PLEIN AIR 2777 St Martin Blvd West Laval PQ H7T2Y7 800-567-1106

LA CORDEE PLEIN AIR 2159 St Catherine East Montreal PQ H2K2H9 800-567-1106

MOUNTAIN MAGIC EQUIPMENT 224 Bear St Banff, AB T1L1B7 403-762-2591 F 403-762-4672 800-661-0399

HONG KONG HONG KONG MOUNTAINEERING TRAINING CENTRE 1F on Yip Building 395-7 Shanghai St Kowloon Hong Kong, China 852 23848190 F 852 27707110

ALPENGLOW 888-232-9559 F 207-866-7562 92 Main St Orono ME 04473

APPALACHIAN SKI & OUTDOORS 814-234-3000 toll free 800-690-5220 123 South Allen St. State College, PA 16801 800-953-5499 207 Madison St. Eugene, OR 97402

800-CAMPMOR 800-226-7667 Catalog-PO Box 700-RI4 Saddle River NJ 07458

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

800-5.10-2-5.14 831-620-0911 F 831-620-0977 PO Box 222295 Carmel, CA 93922 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 PULL DOWN CLIMBING 800-485-1439 541-947-7855 F 541-947-7855 360 South H Street Lakeview, OR 97630

877-883-6276 Logan UT

Toll-Free 800-895-0048 503-797-1991 F 503-236-9553 2105 SE Division St Portland OR 97202 888-580-5510 815-667-7170 F 815-667-9970 201 Donaldson St Utica IL 61373

HIGHER GROUND OUTFITTERS 616-459-7290 F 616-459-7289 2166 Wealthy SE East Grand Rapids MI 49506

888-707-6708 100 Tremont St. Chattanooga, TN 37405 SHORELINE MOUNTAIN PRODUCTS 800-381-2733 509-444-3348 - International F 509-444-0363 730 N Hamilton Ste 300 Spokane WA 99202 SIERRA TRADING POST

800-713-4534 F 800-378-8946 5025 Campstool Road Cheyenne, WY 82007 JUSTROPES.COM

978-948-3510 F 978-948-3510 98 Leslie Rd Rowley MA 01969


800-734-2851 F 304-592-1608 RR1 Box 184 Shinnston, WV 26431

800-499-8696 5045 E. Speedway Tucson, AZ 85712

ONE LIFE OUTFITTERS “Gear for everything outdoors”

865-494-WILD (9453) Cell 865-414-1541

Get the exposure you deserve! Rowan Fryer 877-762-5423 ext. 17

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Walkin’ Talkin’ Miracle LE S S THAN A YEAR AGO, Boulder

climber Wolfgang Schweiger fell 30-plus feet to the talus after being lowered off the end of his rope. The well-known “Wolfie,” father of two, sustained three fractures to his left wrist, three broken ribs, a broken pelvis, and a head injury that left him in a coma for six days. “ The hea ling was amazing,” he says. “The miracles began when I came out of the coma.” He under went surger y and, later, occupational, physical and speech therapy. “The miracles continued when I came out of the hospital and found other ways to heal.” He credits Dr. Nita Desai, a practitioner of the 5,000-year-old art of Ayurvedic medicine, with helping restore his compromised pancreatic function through herbs and diet, and a craniotherapist trained in Tibet with accelerating his overall healing. Most of a l l, he lauds his wife, Heidi Brinkman, for “all the energy she put into it.” S chweiger, who has untold 5.13s under his belt, is at it again in the gym, showing no signs of trauma, and speaking English, his second tongue, as fluently as ever. He looks forward to leading on plastic and then climbing again in Eldorado Springs Canyon, where he first learned the sport in 1984.. If you wish to help defray Schweiger’s medical bills, please donate to the Wolf Schweiger Rehabilitation Fund, P.O. Box 160447, Clearfield, UT 84106. 130 R O C K A N D I C E . C O M | 05 JUNE


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Rock and Ice issue 142