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Jimmy Chin

| Meru, India | Mammatus Jacket | Photo: Renan Ozturk

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rock and ice # january 2010


e v e r y ma n ’s ex po se d


r o u t es l ess t r av el ed

Flyin’ Hawaiian ... and one fly Hawaiian. Plus, cranking on the gnar of Way Lake, California.

No chalk, no waits. Welcome to Yosemite’s best routes, 5.10 and under, off the beaten path. by l iz z y s c u l l y photos by k e it h l a d z i n sk i


w ild , w ild w e s t v ir g in ia

Seneca Rocks is one of the great bastions of trad climbing. And it has only become better with time. S tory and photos by n at h a n s mit h

The Day the Gendarme Fell. by T e ig e Mu h l f e l d .

COVER: Lance Lermkau bridges the gap on T he Sequel (5.8), Higher Cathedral, Yosemite. See page 40. Ph o t o : Keit h L ad zi n skI THIS PAGE: Yulia Abramchuk of Russia grapples with a vexing triangular hold at the 2009 Arco Rock Master. She will finish in seventh place. See page 56. Ph o t o : Ber n ar d o G imen ez

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l or ds o f t h e u n iv e r se

Our mild-mannered man in the field is chosen (again!) to attend the Arco Rock Master and vote for the world’s best rock climber. Will they never learn? by N i a l l G r i me s photos by be r n a r d o g i me n e z

11/3/09 2:19:19 PM


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In the Southeast, the community is as solid as the rock. The only thing that can be shaky is the access. The Triple Crown, held on some of the country’s best boulders, shows how far access has come. Plus: Charles Houston and Bobby Model remembered.

“Everybody falls. People get hurt and killed. But to call them selfish and foolish is out of line.” —Benjamin Robinson Letters, page 12


When Adam Markert won his first big comp, most people had never heard of him. Then again, he’s not that into comps.


The need for speed. Greg Williamson rockets through climbing—and life. By KEITH LADZINSKI

62 ASK GEAR GUY Getting the perfect grind (for your dry tools), making your own fruit boots, and a little singalong for the winter blues.

68 ASK DR. J

Climbing with a rod in your leg, deknobbing knobby knuckles, and pulling the pins and needles from overworked forearms.



The lesson was simple: never run a rope over nylon. The error was in not thinking about it.



Beating the crash-and-burn snack habit, and how to keep your war face on. By NEIL GRESHAM



The author was high on Denali in a whiteout when the wind picked him up and blew him away. By CHRIS FERRO

32 TUESDAY NIGHT BOULDERING Leave No Trace comes to a home near you.

72 FIELD TESTED The hot hanging kit for your hotfire stove, ice grippers for rock slippers and a kink-free rope.


Artist/climber Renan Ozturk paints himself into the Himalayan picture. Photo by JIMMY CHIN


10 12 77

Rock & Ice (USPS 0001-762, ISSN 0885-5722) is published 8 times a year (January, March, April, June, July, September, October, and December) by Big Stone Publishing, 417 Main St Unit N, Carbondale, CO 81623. Periodicals postage paid at Carbondale, CO, and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: send address changes to Rock & Ice, 417 Main St Unit N, Carbondale, CO 81623. Subscription rates are $29.95 per year, $44.95 for two years. Canada, add $12.50 per year for surface postage; all other countries add $15 per year for surface postage (US funds only). Canada Post CPM #7157697.

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Carlo Traversi, who took third place in the Men’s Open at Horse Pens 40, takes the sting out of Sting Ray (V9). Photo: Keith Ladzinski

11/10/09 1:33:16 PM

Zoe Hart, Carlsberg Column (WI �), Mount Dennis, British Columbia, Canada. ANDREW BURR




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Beautiful Failure Dr. Charles Houston points the way Dear Editor, I am now ready to tell my firsthand encounter of being left alone to die this last May on Everest. It is a true story with no details embellished. I am willing to sell my story and photos to the party willing to pay the most for a story about human greed and the fight for survival.

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Rock and Ice received this e-mail in September and it provided the grist for many jokes. I’m willing to sell my story about greed to the highest bidder. Classic irony—and pitiful and sad. It’s old news that high-altitude mountaineering has its share of crooks and self-indulgent bastards intent on capitalizing on misfortune and suffering. Books like High Crimes and Dark Summit lay out the offenses against common decency ad infinitum. Some mountaineers bum-rush tragedy like hyenas feeding on a half-dead gazelle. As evinced by the above letter, there’s money to be made out of sweat, blood and death. The only way you could wring more value out of a pile of bodies on a high peak would be to re-animate them, strip them naked and get them to have sex. Today’s culture thrives on the lowest common denominator, and new-school mountaineering ethics are malleable enough to allow climbers to abandon people and even ignore murder [see “Secret Passage,” No. 180] if it means tagging the summit and scoring a book deal. The history of mountaineering is replete with examples of climbers deserting partners to gain the summit or save their own skins. Yet there are numerous shining instances of the opposite—where men have banded together in dire straits and sacrificed their own safety and success to follow a higher ethical imperative—what used to be called “the Brotherhood of the Rope.” Two weeks after the ironic e-mail pinged up, Dr. Charles Houston died [see Passages, p.

24]. Houston, part of a group of brilliant and tough mountaineers who opened many gnarly peaks in Alaska, Canada and the Himalaya before they were even mapped, is considered one of the best American mountaineers, but his 1953 expedition to K2 is his legacy. The facts are well known: After 10 days tent-bound in a storm at 25,500 feet, unable to light their stoves, eating jam mixed with snow in a futile effort to hydrate, Houston discovered blood clots in Art Gilkey’s legs. With no debate, in spite of being poised to nab the first ascent of the most difficult mountain in the world, the seven men initiated a rescue effort that has inspired generations of climbers. In the end, Gilkey died, and Houston, as the leader of the expedition, seemingly never forgave himself. A year later, and one day after K2 was summitted by an Italian team, Houston wandered into a hospital in Nashua, New Hampshire, 40 miles away from his home in Exeter, with no idea who he was. The stress of his “failure” had brought on an emotional collapse resulting in amnesia, and Houston would never climb another mountain. Perhaps Jim Wickwire’s letter to Houston was some consolation—and it is surely a lesson to today’s aspiring climbers. “Even better, I think, than having climbed K2 in 1978 would have been to have been with you 25 years before.” As Reinhold Messner said years later, Houston and his team were “decent [and] strong … and this is the inspiration for a lifetime.” ■

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LETTERS drag them from spine to ribcage, letting your fi ngers fi ll the grooves between the ribs and letting your thumb settle softly in the upper crease of her thigh. That’s it! Good. You’re going to get it.” Would you warm to this intrusion, my little problem-pusher? Would you turn, give the ex a thumbs up and say, “Thanks. I was going to have to learn that on my own. Now, I know the moves!” If you can’t imagine appreciating this unasked-for choreography, then perhaps you might be able to understand what it is like when you start telling someone how to do a boulder problem. When someone wants beta, they ask for it.

ALL BECOMES CLEAR THANKS FOR GIVING ME a heads up in Peter Zuckerman’s “Finding Nirvana the Hard Way” [Outlook, No. 182]. It all makes sense now: My wife’s sudden interest in learning Nepali; the late-night calls to Num; that charge for a Soviet helicopter on her Master Card statement where formerly there was only Jamba Juice. By the way, can you tell me where I could find Pasang Lama?

—Ben Smythe Idyllwild, California

MISTAKEN IDENTITY THE TNB [NO. 181] ABOUT misidentified crash pads made me smile and recall some fond memories. I’m from Alabama where— bless our hearts—the folks who don’t know climbing vastly outnumber those who do. A few weeks ago I was at work at the local outdoor retail shop when two guys, both sporting hunter-orange hats, walked up to the register. One nudged his friend and said, “Them’s what I need rat there.” He pointed at the display case. “Kayakin’ shoes.” I glanced through the glass at the pair of La Sportiva Solutions and couldn’t resist. “Yes, sir,” I said. “Top of the

—Paolo Padoan San Diego, California





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35-year-old whose life turned into a mountain of hardship Bisharat makes me smile. Thanks a ton and keep it up. He’s a gem among a bunch of dull useless rocks.

—Cessie Spearing Tuscaloosa, Alabama

deep-water soloing near Austin, Texas [Cliff Notes, No. 181]. Ah, the memories! Moonlit nights at Pace Bend Park, flashes and sparks shimmer from the waves and cast dancing mirages on the stark recesses of Texas’ best overhanging limestone. Whether you’re straddling a noodle and roping a cocktail, eye-level with the flickering dawn, or clinging barefoot to shadows striving to cheat fate and stand tall, there are always good times and big love to be had in Austin. May Kirky Holladay’s cantankerous heckling echo resounding laughter and joy through the great halls of our ancestors … Brother Kirky! You will be missed! And then there’s Karl Guthrie. Karl Dawg! Talented, boisterous, dance-master and dear friend. But where in the cosmos did he learn to prepare sushi? Did the student become the master? I invite this aquatic neophtye to a sushi conflagration on the waters of Lake Travis on the Summer Solstice of 2012, The Dawn of the Galactic Party. We have transgressed and we have been transgressed. We are human. We are vulnerable. And yet, we can be venerable. We can secede or we can choose to succeed. Grow beyond the experiment. Wabi Sabi!

THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT I’M WRITING TO express my sincere appreciation for Andrew Bisharat’s writing style. It’s pure entertainment at its best and its worst. I am that eternal gumby that would give him much good stuff to write about. Climbing for five months, age 35, self-employed. My highest point of maturity was 17. I can crank hard on 5.7, make a 5.8 look pretty easy and send most 5.9s with a bit of style. At 5.10 I start to grope, paw, hang and laugh a lot. Bisharat’s writing fits my humor about as well as anything. I wish I could someday be good enough to do warm-up climbs with Chris Sharma while tooling a broken down Jeep Cherokee, but that might be a year or two. Instead I plow ahead in drudgery as a topnotch software engineer with too much debt and a very sick kid. Every day seems like a hard send but I have to send. Anything of AB’s that I can read, I love reading. In fact, I read it a few times because a smile or a laugh does miracles for a broken and tired spirit. His writing entertains and inspires and it also makes me take a closer look at myself in an immaculate mirror so that I am reminded to laugh more. I love TNB and for a

ial cons



Every year more than 20 million tons of textiles are tossed into U.S. landfills. Every week the average textile factoryRecognizing produces 60,000 environmental and social pounds of useful waste. This isg consciousness n env a i r o n m e n ta l sue the Sprout goes to the online apparel company Looptworks, which The “repurposes” abandoned materials into limited-edition Sprout products like jackets, hoodies, skirts, shirts and graphic T-shirts. Award No new materials are used, but each material is tested for shrinkage and durability. Products are double-neeK




ial consc


—Te Smith Fort Collins, Colorado

dle stitched on all seams and triple-needle stitched on critical seams, which makes Looptworks apparel durable enough for climbing and bouldering. “The cool thing is that we never know what we are going to find,” says Gary Peck, founding partner. “By using design to create meaningful products out of materials that would otherwise get scrapped, we are giving people the option to have something that is very individual, and doing less harm to the planet in the process.” To read more about “upcycled” clothing go to








g e n v i ro n












i r o n m e n ta l

in g e n v i ronm




—Rex Winn Meridian, Idaho









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PERHAPS THIS WILL SEAL the lips of those who love to give unsolicited beta [TNB, No. 182]. Imagine that you are about to experience your first intimate moment with a new lover. All the courting has paid off and enthusiasm is high on both ends. The nervous anticipation is making you giddy, and those first exploratory kisses leave you perfumed in pheromones. As your hands begin to gently lift towards the neckline, imagine, my dear beta-jammer, that an ex-partner of this newfound love walks into the room. “OK, she likes it when you bite the side of the lower lip tenderly and squeeze the outside of her leg with your bent knee. No, not there! Higher. You almost got it. Good! Now this next move can be tricky. Take your fi ngers and

line. Just came out. Great for whitewater and touring.” The man considered the shoes intently for a moment before telling me that he’d think about it. “Maybe next time,” he said, which was good because I have no idea what my next move would have been had he actually decided to purchase the shoes.

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le t t er s WIDE-EYED LOONY


It’s not often I get miffed at an

I would like to thank Jeff

editor’s note in a climbing magazine. It’s only climbing, after all. But the normally lucid Jeff Jackson must have been eating some bad mushrooms when he penned “Wild and Free” [No. 182]. Let’s follow this argument: Jeff and pals hike through Maroon Bells Wilderness, a designated “wild place” it “feels good to be in.” Then he brings up the Hidden Gems Wilderness proposal only to diss it by claiming that designated wilderness limits individual access. Finally he goes on to wax loonylyrical about freedom: “Laws can’t protect wilderness, but if you go deep enough into the mountains you might experience freedom. That discovery is the beginning, and end, of environmental conservation.” The utter incoherence of this sequence of thought is breathtaking: wilderness equals restricted access; freedom equals conservation. Huh? Let’s get this straight. Designated wilderness keeps nobody out. It keeps motors and planes and mines and oil rigs out. Legislation does that, not wideeyed pilgrimages deep into the mountains, where, were it not for legislation, you’d find mountaintops blown away for shale, gas rigs, clear-cuts, roads and no end of ecosystem destruction. You would not find wilderness. The 1964 law isn’t perfect, but it’s the best thing we have going. If proponents of Hidden Gems want to talk to climbers about bolts and access, by all means talk, with sense and goodwill. If, on the other hand, you take Jackson’s point, you’ll find soulmates in the local Air National Guard, who oppose this proposal on the grounds that it would restrict their high-altitude helicopter practice—there’s access for you. If you love being buzzed by choppers, fight this initiative! And take a walk of freedom with Jeff into the non-legislated wilderness, wherever you can find it—just remember to duck.

Jackson for perfectly summing up my own feelings about the recent outcry against free solo climbing in the wake of the untimely loss of John Bachar [Editor’s Note, No. 181]. I recently attended the Reel Rock Film Tour when it was presented at the university near my home and while marveling at the feats of Alex Honnold, I overheard another climber say, “F**k that guy, what if he got himself killed in front of my kids? I wouldn’t want them to see that. What he does should be illegal.” I have heard a lot more talk like this when I bring up the subject of free soloing and what I hear surprises me. If a person is not willing to accept the reality that climbing—roped climbing as well as soloing—can claim the lives of the most professional and magnificent athletes we have, then they have no business near a rope or rock. Everybody falls. People get hurt and killed. But to call them selfish and foolish is out of line. My own family knows what I do and the reality of it. They know that as my skills progress I will move on to bigger run-outs, harder lines, more remote walls and possibly even free solos. It is selfish to try and keep those close to us from doing what they love. We all know how Bachar felt about free soloing. Would it have been right to tell him it was not allowed and to keep him on the ground? I believe it is better to perish doing what you love, striving to reach your full potential, than living a long life devoid of your passion.

—Dan Hooley Columbia, Missouri

—Benjamin Robinson Missoula, Montana

BEGINNER’S GUIDE I am a relatively new entrant to

the world of rock, alpine and glacier climbing but I’ve been blessed with fantastic climbing mentors and have progressed to toproping 5.10 routes. Soon I plan on leading. I’m a subscriber to your magazine and enjoy it very much, but

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Chris Sharma on Monstor Skank, Red Rocks Joe Kinder on The Gayness, Rifle Photos by Keith Ladzinski

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LETTERS one th ng that concerns me s that somet mes we orget that the earn ng curve or beg nners s steep W thout my mentors and the read ng I ve done I wou d have nev tab y adopted some un sa e hab ts through ack o gu d ance or know edge What I d rea y ke to see n your magaz ne s a cons stent “back to bas cs” sect on that covers bas c but cr t ca techn ques Creat ng sa e be ay anchors anchor equa

zat on rappe anchors etc I rea y th nk th s wou d be va uab e n educat ng the ent re spectrum o c mbers who read th s magaz ne—nov ce c mbers start ng out rem nd ng more ex per enced c mbers and educat ng techn ca y sk ed c mbers who have earned rom others but don t have a so d oundat on on c mb ng sa ety —Steve Y Redmond Wash ng on

OWNED AND OPERATED BY CLIMBERS 417 Main St., Unit N, 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


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 2009 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.





SENIOR CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Barry Blanchard, Geof Childs, John Long, Niall Grimes, Dr. Julian Saunders, Tyler Stableford, Pete Takeda, Jon Waterman


CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Chris Belczynski, Whitney Boland, Tommy Caldwell






PRINT WHAT WE SELL ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY At Rock and Ice, Ice, we believe in minimizing paper waste by printing what we sell. We don’t flood the magazine into mass markets, which typically sell fewer than 40 of every 100 copies they receive, and discard the unsold magazines. Instead, we rely on specialty retail outlets, including your local climbing and outdoor shop, that work with us to reduce waste. Our stance costs us sales, but saves nearly 45 tons of paper annually. We’re proud to be the only climb climbing ng magaz magazine ne that ha m micro c o manages itss p print n run, un and we encou encourage age a all pub publishers she s to o pu put the he env environment onmen first. s

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by whitney boland  photos by keith ladzinski

Nic Oklobzija puts the finishing moves on Mortal Kombat (V3) at Horse Pens 40, location for the second leg of the 2009 Triple Crown.

Triple Whammy

The first two legs of the 2009 Triple Crown are over, but the struggle to gain access to Southern sandstone continues.


he judges for this year’s Hound Ears comp are all wearing shirts that say, “Don’t be a dick!” It’s good advice. Nobody likes dicks. But I wonder what it has to do with Hound Ears, a gated mountaintop community with a backyard playground of big, fat, bulbous boulders that look like petrified Thanksgiving turkeys.

Hound Ears, near Boone, North Carolina, is closed to climbing 364 days of the year, every day except today: the first Saturday of October and the kick-off to the country’s biggest outdoor competition series, the Triple Crown. The 450 competitors waiting for the event to start look wired and stir-crazy thinking about the in-cut crimps and sticky sandstone-and-gneiss conglomerate that

await them. Climbers are smoking cigarettes and pantomiming beta to remember the sequences of the area’s classics. A climber in a down jacket with duct tape over the brand rubs his hands together in a combination of keeping warm and dinner-table excitement. “This is like a family reunion,” says Jim Horton, the event founder. Now in its 16th year, the Triple Crown, aside from being a

really fun and cool community event, has an ultimate mission: to raise funds for the Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC), the Carolina Climbers’ Association (CCC), the Access Fund and other organizations, which have all helped purchase, lease and reopen climbing areas throughout the Southeast. The Triple Crown is a series of three events that take place the first weekend of every month in the fall, first at Hound Ears, then down to Horse Pens 40 (HP40) near Steele, Alabama, and finally, wrapping up at Stone Fort, a bouldering zone in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Triple Crown isn’t just a bouldering comp series—it’s the fulcrum upon which these organizations have found leverage to secure local climbing areas. A bell rings in the boulder field, and the crowd scatters. Some climbers, in a tactical move, avoid the crowds and head down the road for Air Jesus (V4) and the classic bigmove highball Heretic (V2). Near the main

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Have a question about technique, training or equipment? Ask it and Maxim's experts, including Randy Leavitt, will answer them. Every month, one lucky inquisitor will get his or her letter selected and will score a free Maxim rope! This month's rope giveaway is the Milky Way, a 9.9mm 60-meter featuring Twill Pattern Technology (TPT) that produces a smooth sheath— reduced drag makes the rope feel lighter and gives it a soft hand. ($202 value) cord, simply post your For your shot at a free cord question to:

Nic Oklobzija enjoys the champagne of boulder problems, High Life (V5), at Horse Pens 40.

area’s warm-ups, boulderers pump fists and tag beta on crimpy classics like Fuc Yo (V9). Brion Voges, who has lived and climbed in the Southeast his whole life, simply walks the first ascent of Half-Price Pornos (V11). Any hard first ascent at Hound Ears is impressive considering that climbers have less than nine hours per year to find, clean, suss and establish the problem. Fortunately, “the lines are perfect here,” says Voges, who took second place in the Men’s Open field. Explaining who is responsible for the success of this ongoing access battle in the Southeast would almost mean naming nearly

every climber in the region. The list of advocates, stewards, developers and first ascentionists is as long as the cliffs and as numerous as the boulders. Chris Watford, author of the Dixie Cragger guidebook, explains, “We have a unique opportunity for not only negotiating access, but for acquisition. There’s a lot of private land or land owned by a corporation.” More areas are being purchased, like Georgia’s Boat Rock and most recently, Steele in Alabama. Others are leased, like Castle Rock (by the SCC), and Asheboro Boulders (by CCC). Still others remain privately owned

with negotiated management plans, like HP40, the venue that hosts the middle leg of the Triple Crown. In these cases, people like Brad McLeod, one of the SCC founding members who helped secure Steele, and Adam Henry, who is integral in maintaining a relationship with the HP40 owners, the Schultz family, are two among many others doing heavy lifting. “Access is sketchy at best,” says Horton. “Unless we own the land, we’re in danger of losing it at any minute. A long time ago we used to sneak onto properties, because we didn’t know a better way. There are places that are now closed that we could have prevented if we’d had a better tactic.” Chad Wykle is a buyer at Rock Creek Outfitters and one among many developers putting in some of the newest, sickest sandstone lines around Chattanooga. He wears a visor, speaks with a mouth full o' south, and seems to have a perpetually happy disposition. “It’s so compact down here,” says Hound Ears Results MEN: Wykle. “It’s not like 1. Jimmy Webb out West where you 2. Brion Voges can see for miles, 3. Max Zolutukhin and a man in the desWOMEN: ert stands out like a 1. Sasha DiGiulian bump on a log. Down 2. Kasia Pietras in these parts, a 3. Francesca Metcalf man can be standing HP40 Results: HP40 Results around the corner, and you’ll never know. MEN: The forest keeps its 1. Jimmy Webb secrets. You don’t 2. Jeremy Walton 3. Carlo Traversi know what [property] belongs to who.” WOMEN: The cliff bands are 1. Alex Puccio 2. Kate McGinnis typically dense and 3. Francesca Metcalf bullet-hard, a combo

2 0 R O C K A N D I C E .CO M  10 J A N UA R Y

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c l if f not es

Charlie Burnett gives his all for this send of Dope (V2), one of the most classic climbs at Horse Pens 40. BELOW: The masterminds behind the Triple Crown: Chad Wykle (in hat) and Jim Horton.

of blonde and golden rock, while the holds vary dramatically between each zone. Some areas are steep and tiered, making for awesome moves, while others, like Rocktown, have unique scale-like holds. At HP40, you’ll bust powerful moves on ultragrippy gigantor slopers, like grabbing big butt cheeks. “With so many property lines, we sometimes see a misconception of entitlement,” says Wykle, who helped start the Triple Crown with Horton. "It’s so important that we approach landowners the right way the first time. We’re non-confrontational—we just shake hands and start talking.” The SCC—especially its most active

front man, Brad McLeod, of Atlanta—is one major part of the machine that is organizing and managing many areas of the Southeast. Even with the success stories, there are still many areas with access issues waiting to be resolved: Howard’s Knob, the Lake on the Brow, the Hospital Boulders, the main tract of Steele. For every cliff that opens, a handful of areas close, or remain secret, used by only a select few. At the Hound Ears after-party, a mason jar of moonshine is passed around as climbers unwind and settle into another year of waiting. Thick smoke billows off a hot grill, and hungry climbers swap stories over whiskey as they wait for food. I overhear Brion Voges’ friends relive the time that he fell into a creek, only to nab the second ascent of a project on a chilly 40-degree day wearing nothing but his boxer shorts. Everyone laughs. The Triple Crown embodies Southern climbing: the fight for access, the good friends, and the relaxed attitude. One of the comp judges passes me the moonshine, and I realize the true meaning of his shirt. “Don’t be a dick!” at the surface level means, “Hey, it’s just a comp with your friends, leave the attitude at home.” But on a deeper level, it sums up how people in the Southeast have continued to keep the climbing open. Be cool, and people will work with you. Whitney Boland is a contributing editor for Rock and Ice.

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c l if f not es climbing out of academic Trouble 17-year-old starts program to help kids who need it


WHen cHarLie keLLY, THen 15, called a meeting at his high school, he figured maybe 20 people would show up to hear his idea for a new community outreach program designed to help underprivileged middle schoolers through rock climbing. Nearly 300 students appeared, many clamoring to look good on paper for their college applications. Some came just to heckle, asking, as he tried to outline his plan, if he’d fi led for 501(c)3 status. Would the program be tax exempt? A month later Such Great Heights introduced its first eight middle schoolers, drawn from the area around New Haven, Connecticut, to rock climbing. Since then it has done the same for nearly 50 youth. “They’re all struggling with the same things,” Kelly, now 17, said of the participants. “What we do is surround them with motivated, enthusiastic mentors who really do care about them. That lives with them for a long time.” In the past Kelly competed on the youth circuit, placing 11th at Continentals, but one day he realized he didn't like the competition scene. Kelly said Such Great Heights was a “natural progression” that brought together his passion for service and climbing. The program developed quickly. For an eight-week period at each middle school, a group of academically troubled kids gets together with graduate students to discuss 415.738.2480 / their problems, in school or at home. The culminating experience for each group is a trip to the Connecticut Rock Gym. For some, it is a watershed experience. A boy at an alternative school for poorly performing students wrote such a compelling essay about his climbing experience that he gained acceptance to a central magnet school. This fall the program is to be used as a model and implemented at a few surrounding high schools. Kelly also plans to take it wherever he attends college a year from now. Still, first things first. Deciding he had better answer the doubters at that first meeting, Kelly filled out the paperwork to designate Such Great Heights a tax exempt 501(c)3, and signed, sealed and delivered it. —Alex Lowther

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Charles Houston | 96 The original team, en route to K2. Charles Houston is at the far right.

One of the great privileges of my life was hearing Dr. Charles Houston recount the greatest mountaineering story ever told. In 1953 he and seven companions—Art Gilkey, Bob Craig, George Bell, Dee Molenaar, Tony Streather, Bob Bates and Pete Schoening—set off up the then unclimbed peak K2 (28,253). Reaching 25,500 feet, the little crew was nailed by a virulent storm. Five days later, Art Gilkey, 27, tried

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to stand up, and collapsed. Houston, an internist and expedition co-leader, diagnosed altitudeinduced blood clots in Gilkey’s legs, capable of deadly travel to his lungs. Despite the storm, Houston called for an immediate evacuation. In an incredible example of courage against the odds, the embattled climbers wrapped Gilkey in a sleeping bag and tent, and tried to lower him down the mountain. At 24,700 feet Bell slipped, pulling Streather down and through the rope between Houston and Bates, knocking them off a steep slope. As all slid distances of up to 80 or 100 feet toward a drop, Schoening alone, with a boot-axe belay, held their combined weight and that of the prone Gilkey. Now near a lower platform, and having sustained injuries, the climbers anchored Gilkey on the slope, and set up two tents to regroup. When Craig and Streather returned to retrieve Gilkey, he had vanished, apparently taken in an avalanche.

“We never considered leaving him,” Houston said in his American Alpine Club slide show more than 20 years ago, adding that Gilkey never complained, always saying, “Oh, I’m fine.” The last words of Houston’s show were: “We all returned the very best of friends, and we remain the best of friends to this day.” Houston died September 27 in his home of Burlington, Vermont. He was a retired faculty member of the University of Vermont medical school, a graduate of Harvard University and the Columbia University medical school, and a pioneering researcher in the field of high-altitude physiology, in particular pulmonary edema and retinal hemorrhage. He founded the biannual International Hypoxia Symposium still held in Alberta, Canada. He was the first country director of the Peace Corps in India, and developed the Medical Peace Corps in Washington, D.C. It was Houston who in later years

raised the idea that Gilkey might have sacrificed himself, “wiggling himself loose,” as he told the interviewer Bill Moyers in 2004, to save the others. Craig, who helped set the ice-axe anchors, which were found lower on the mountain near a huge drop, says they had been 25 and 30 feet above Gilkey on the slope: too high, he felt, for the weakened Gilkey to reach. “I think,” he suggests of Houston’s idea, “it gave him peace.” In 1934, while still a college student, Houston was part of the first ascent of Mount Foraker in Alaska. His team made the first ascent of Nanda Devi, in 1936, and in 1938, as expedition leader, he reached 26,000 feet on K2. In 1950 he was part of a team that forged the southern approach up Everest, completed three years later by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. After the devastating second expedition to K2, he never climbed another mountain.  —Alison Osius

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Bobby Model | 36

peter m a l l a mo

In Kenya, his home away from home.

It was a normal day in South Africa when Bobby Model visited from his home in Kenya. Bobby and his sister Faith were driving to visit a friend when a chunk of concrete smashed against the hood of the truck and bounced through the windshield. Bobby was hit in the head.  In a way, that’s the whole story. It

was the end of the road for the man most of us knew. But in reality, it was the beginning of a whole new story about Bobby Model. In the days that became months that became years after June 2007, the incredible circle of friends and family that Bobby had created came forth. He was treated first in South Africa, then in New York City, and then in a series of hospitals in Denver. After 18 months, he was well enough to move back home to Cody, Wyoming. He lived there in his own home, though under constant care, from December of 2008 until September 16. He was 36. In the small Wyoming climbing community, Bobby was well known, widely loved and always up for an adventure. I met him at the University of Wyoming in the early 1990s, and he, Tom Rangitsch and I climbed all the routes we could scrap our way up at Vedauwoo, and then spent the long, cold winter nights bouldering in a garage gym. Later, Bobby joined the motivated crew of Lander climbers such as

Scott Milton, Will Hair, Todd Skinner, Skip Harper and dozens of others. He was a talented and balanced climber, as comfortable on 5.12 cracks as he was on pockets, and a solid ice climber and alpinist as well. In 1995 he joined Mike Lilygren, Todd Skinner, Bill Hatcher, my brother Jeff Bechtel and me on a trip to climb Trango Tower (Cowboy Direct, VII 5.13a, was the first Grade VII free climb in the world). It was here that Bobby first showcased his talent for photography. Slowly, his passion for capturing images took precedence over climbing. Featured on the cover of the April 1996 issue of National Geographic, Bobby later became a regular contributor to the magazine, as well as to other publications including Rock and Ice, Climbing, Outside, Adventure and the New York Times. His assignments took him to Southeast Asia, Patagonia, Greenland, the Mideast, Eastern Europe and  Bolivia. Later, he moved his home base to Nairobi, Kenya. There


he helped with relief work in the Sudan, tracked down a giant crocodile in Burundi, and climbed the snowy peaks of East Africa. Bobby was soft-spoken, kind and gentle. He was compulsively organized in his work, but relaxed in most other facets of his life. He saw each person as his equal and was generous with his time. He often tried to come across as crude, even insensitive, but Bobby was one of the most compassionate people I have ever known. Bobby suffered terribly in the last two years of his life. I continually come back to the question that begs why he had to go through so much pain only to die. What gift could life possibly bring him in those years? My answer, and I believe the only answer, is that these past two years were his gift to us; to give his friends the opportunity to grow together, to tell our friend how much we love him, and to know that somehow we’d be all right without him.  —Steve Bechtel

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Markert styles to an eight-place finish at the Mammut Bouldering Championship last July

The Teacher

Adam Markert was a surpise winner at a recent comp. But he has other things on his mind.


he Vail Athletic Club was packed with children, sponsors, climbers, a ton of books, and even dogs wearing spectacles. The theme of the evening was global education. In one corner, trained dogs dressed as teachers served as unintimidating listeners for small children practicing reading aloud. On the rock wall, climbers raced up and down wearing backpacks filled with books that they dumped into buckets hanging from the tops of the routes. Attending community members got their checkbooks ready and cheered on the climbers they had chosen to sponsor by paying for each foot climbed and each bucket filled with donated books.

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High up and hanging on a jug, filling a bucket to the brim, was Adam Markert, event organizer. To help address the poverty and lack of education in Nepal, he was combining all his identities: coaching, teaching and participating. “All the money and books went to Nepal,” Adam says today. “It’s amazing to teach our youth that through being active they are helping kids all the way in the Himalayan peaks.” Markert started Climb for Literacy as a branch of Room to Read, an organization dedi-

cated to building schools in foreign countries. He is one of the Vail climbing team’s coaches, a third-grade teacher and a leading climber himself. Markert has competed in the Bouldering World Cup at the Vail Teva Games, and the talent-stacked Mammut Bouldering Championships, finishing in eighth place. On September 26 he was the surprise winner of “The Gun Show,” the first of a series of regional comps at Boulder’s Spot Gym. He also climbs outdoors, including multipitch

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trad routes and boulder problems that he won’t name. “It’s just another rock,” he says. His friend Michael Drinker recalls how in Squamish one night, “Adam was singing ‘Gin and Juice’ and dancing around with sandals on. A branch was sticking out of the ground and he drilled the thing, and broke his toe. After cursing up a storm, he started singing and dancing again. Two hours later he got on Lucky Charms, (V12), and on the second try topped out.” At competitions people have seen him dancing at the base of a boulder problem or humping the air in the middle of another one. He has also been prone to climb in a sumo suit and dress up in a Spiderman costume. “I have been competing for a long time, but I still get nervous,” he says. “I don’t know if it’s because I am a teacher or because I hang out

with kids all the time, but being a stupid idiot calms me down.” As a student, he originally studied business at Penn State while coaching at a climbing gym in Philadelphia. Markert vividly remembers the day he was forced to realize that teaching was his destiny. He was supervising a climbing birthday party when two teachers, Dave Price and Nancy Stoner, cornered him and said, “Either you change your major to teaching or we’ll kill you.” Markert changed his major the next day. His two blackmailers became his great mentors, letting him teach in their classrooms and encouraging him to move to Colorado to accept a job offer. Although Markert may be an emerging contender, competitions are not his focus. His next goal is visiting Nepal to teach in the school his team helped build.

What are your future climbing plans? More first ascents. There are beautiful nuggets of rock right out my door. I want to clean and send them before I get too weak. I don’t care grade-wise—if it’s a beautiful boulder I want to climb it. But, climbing aside, I want to go to Nepal. Last year when our climbing team started Climb for Literacy we raised $12,000 in one week. We want to raise $15,000 this year and in June I want to go see what our money has helped build.

Do you always like competing? This past week’s comp [at the Spot Gym], I didn’t want to compete. A young lady on my team had just gotten hurt and the finals were about to start. I told everyone, “I don’t care, I’m going to the hospital.” But my friend said, “Send it for her.” So that’s what I did. I got on and just kept moving. It wasn’t anything miraculous, but I sent it. I’m not really sure how that happened. The other guys are way stronger than me, so it’s not like I beat anyone, my foot just stuck.


What has your favorite climbing competition been? I loved the World Cup in Vail. Everyone knew and backed me as a person, not just a climber. I had parents, teachers, kids and climbers cheering with all my nicknames—Mr. Markert, Adam, son. Standing-wise it’s the lowest I’ve ever scored [32nd], but it was my favorite because it was not just a comp—you couldn’t just sign up. I was representing [the U.S.]. Favorite place to travel? Squamish and Indian Creek. I love crack climbing. Plugging splitters, that’s the best. If I could do 5.10 cracks, even over bouldering, I’d be just fine.

Do you have a good-luck charm? [Points to the red cord around his neck.] It stands for Sundhi, which in Nepalese means energy. I love energy. It’s sitting around the boulders I climb, around people, and if you get enough good energy, luck comes along with it. How did Climb for Literacy start? I was skinning up Vail with my friend Ellen Miller at 5:00 a.m. and at the top we drank a bottle of champagne. A woman came up to us and asked why we were celebrating and Ellen said, “Because we love life and the mountains.” The woman liked our response, and introduced us to an organization called Room to Read. We decided to bring climbing and this service project together.

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Icy Groundfall

Even a good climber can make a bad mistake

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hen Cri Boratensky heard a “pop” as he lowered off the Rigid Designator, a classic Colorado ice climb, he assumed his rope had slipped over a small hump above, and thought nothing of it. When he felt the second pop, he thought the anchor, a tree on which slings had been wrapped, had pulled, and he looked up expecting to see it hurtling down the ice. Instead he only saw his rope, coiling “like a cobra,” falling through the air with him, over 70 feet to the ground. It was March 21, in the ice amphitheatre above Vail, and Boratensky, 31, instantly assumed he would not survive. Today he recalls experiencing “a vision” of his wife and year-old son off to his right

retrospect. After leading the pitch, he had threaded his rope through two loops of webbing on the tree “with the expectation that I would rap down, pull the rope through and my buddies would lead up as well.” Upon reaching the ground, he found that his partners, Charlotte and Oscar Fors, wanted to toprope rather than lead as he had expected. “I never thought about the fact that I hadn’t run the rope through biners.” As he puts it, “A momentary lapse of judgment is all it takes.” Both of his friends toproped the ice formation and lowered off. Boratensky then toproped it to finish the day. He had been lowered about 15 or so feet when both slings failed. He His friends say he never made sustained nine fractured vertebrae, a sound before hitting the ground. a collapsed lung, a broken nose, facial lacerations, two broken ribs, side, like holograms. “They were still images a broken sternum, a dislocated hip and two and may have been recollections of actual dislocated shoulders. Fortuitously, he had photos,” he writes in an e-mail, “but their no head trauma (he wore a helmet). Rescubackground consisted of rock scrolling upers from the fire department arrived in 30 ward at a blurring pace. I said, ‘I’m sorry,’ to to 40 minutes, followed by the Vail Mounthem in my mind.” His friends say he never tain Rescue team, and evacuated him. made a sound before hitting the ground. Boratensky has generally recovered, His rope had been threaded through two though he will experience some lasting efpieces of webbing, and as he lowered, the fects. He plans to attend the Ouray Ice Fest. friction burned through them. He expresses enormous appreciation for his life and luck. “I think every day how Boratensky, who has been climbing much worse the situation would have been since he was 15 doing ice routes in Valdez, had the anchors failed while one of my Banff and Ouray, and peaks such Rainier, friends was climbing.” Shasta and Shuksan, realized his error in

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AT ITS SOURCE, THE ACCIDENT WAS CAUSED by the friction of rope against webbing, which will melt slings. Even the action of pulling a rope through slings once, as per the climber’s original plan, weakens them for subsequent use. In this case, belaying and lowering three climbers cut the webbing.



p.028 Accident 183.indd 28

ever run a climbing rope over slings. Ropes should only run over metal! Leave carabiners or quick links on the slings if necessary. If you choose to rap through slings, replace old tat with new slings. While rappelling with the ropes directly through slings is common on mountain and alpine routes where you

may not have enough gear to leave carabiners, do so with extreme caution. For toprope anchors, always use redundant anchors, fresh slings and two opposed carabiners. In the same way that you check your partner’s knot, habitually check on anchors, even ones arranged by someone you trust. ■

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10/28/09 8:18:07 AM


Photo : Cameron Lawson

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Julia Niles and Andrew McLean | Mount Superior, Utah


10/27/09 10/13/09 9:50:15 9:55 AM AM

out lo o k

by chris ferro  art by jeremy collins

Whiteout Epic on Denali’s “Easy” Route


never told Scott the wind story. I crawled back into the tent, shivering, and was so bundled up in my down parka that he couldn’t see the fear that must have been shooting out of my eyeballs. Back in my sleeping bag I mumbled something about how the snow-block walls that surrounded our tent were fine. I must have deflected his wonder at how long I’d been gone—if he had any.  He had other things to worry about, like how much food or stove fuel we had left, or how long before the 110-mph winds would shred the tent.  Besides, time played tricks up here at 17,200 feet on Denali’s West Buttress. There wasn’t much to do except sleep, eat, maintain the walls, and hope for the storm to end. Three days of that made every minute and every second crawl by, and if I told him I had only been gone for a couple of minutes, how could he dispute it? Then again, maybe it was only a couple of minutes—

even I wasn’t sure. It seemed like forever since I’d grabbed the shovel and crawled outside into the swirling whiteout. The walls were our only protection, and we took turns every hour or two making sure they were still strong. We had tried to escape down to 14,300 feet in what seemed like a lull, but the retreat down the sharpest part of the ridge nearly ended us.

We would find out later that a guide named Chris Hooyman died earlier that day trying the same thing—he was blown off the ridge, and recovered a week later 2,000 feet below. He was 21 years old. We turned back at about the same point where he had fallen, and climbed back up hoping to retreat into the safety of the old walls we’d built. Unable to find them, we spent hours in the biting wind building a new fortress, working the walls like our lives depended on them. When it was my turn, I hated the idea of going out there, but at the same time was terrified that the walls were about to crumble. They’d done that once before, and we woke up under a pile of blocks, convinced that the paper-thin nylon layers that kept us alive were about to give way. Sure, a few other people were camped within a few hundred yards, but would we even be able to find them? And if we did, would they be able to help? These were my thoughts as I burrowed out for wall duty: save the walls, save the tent, save ourselves. At that moment, the protection that the walls provided was violently punctuated, because as soon as I stepped outside the six-foot-high circle, a gust picked me up and tossed me like a day-old newspaper. I don’t know how far I went, but when I landed and skidded to a stop I was alone in the middle of a sea of whiteness. The plateau was big and flat enough that I wasn’t worried about falling off the mountain, but that was hardly any solace. What came to mind was Jack London’s story “To Build a Fire,” where the man’s enemy was only the brutal, penetrating cold. This was supposed to be easy. We hadn’t even come to climb the West Buttress. We were young and cocky, and we wanted to avoid crowds. Instead we had come to connect the obscure West Rim with the even more obscure Hickox Variation. We did the lower West Buttress intending just to acclimatize, but the hard work of reaching 14,300 drained us. The thought of going back down to start over was painful. We decided to continue up the easy way, with the multitudes. At least, we

thought, it practically guaranteed a summit. The storm arrived a day early. The good weather that had been predicted, a day in which we hoped to run up to the top and back, never came. The winds picked up the night we got to 17,200 and kept gaining speed. Alone, I squinted through my

goggles, trying to separate white land from white sky. The storm was at its peak intensity. It’s funny that screaming never even entered my head. The standard, almost primordial urge to call out for help was so pointless amid the jet-engine roar that, even at a subconscious level, I never thought of it as an option. There would be no rescue. I had to crawl, but in what direction? The tent’s bright yellow fabric was hiding behind the walls we’d so laboriously built over it. This was silly. This was no way to die. Like Leslie Nielsen’s character in The Naked Gun said, if you are going to get killed, you want it to be in some exciting way: “Your parachute not opening. Getting caught in the gears of a combine. Getting your nuts bitten off by a Laplander. That’s how I wanna go!” Something spectacular. They make movies about people who die in a blaze of glory, but nobody would watch a movie about a guy crawling around 50 yards from a tent he can’t find, slowly freezing to death. My first idea was to start crawling in ever-widening concentric circles, which would work great if I could only ensure that the circles were ever widening. But if my circles turned out to be ovals, curlyq’s or squiggly lines, I’d be dead in a couple of hours. The better plan was straight lines and right turns. If I lay with one arm straight in front of me and one pointing to the side, I could approximate 90 degrees. And if I counted the advances of my hands and knees, I might be able to keep track of where I was and where I’d been. I had a plan. Now I just needed a direction. My only clue was that I thought I had been blown slightly down-

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11/2/09 10:46:48 AM

o u t l oo k

Chris Devlin

A climber for 19 years, Chris Ferro lives in Alexandria, Virginia, and climbs mostly on the East Coast. J a n u a r y 10 3 r o c k a n d i c e .co m 31

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hill. I couldn’t be sure, but it was all I had. So which way was uphill? Total blackness would almost have been better than the roiling white chaos that surrounded me. All I could do was pick a direction and start crawling. Ten crawls, left turn, 10 crawls, stop. A repeat would take me back, roughly, to where I started. That was the one place where I knew the tent wasn’t, so I turned right. Ten crawls, right again, 10 crawls, stop. I’m an electrician of sorts, and realized that I was crawling in a square wave, also called a modified sine wave. I decided I’d keep at it, track how many peaks and troughs I made, and make a methodical, crawling search of the plateau. There were several tent-sites, mostly unoccupied, and I was likely to run into one sooner or later. If it was empty, I could at least get inside and have a break from the wind. The day before, I had looked at the little thermometer clipped to my pack. It had read minus 20 degrees F, and that was in the vestibule of our tent. I wondered what it was out here, in the wind. As time ticked by, I used the details of the task at hand—crawling and counting—to keep my thoughts from straying toward panic and to fight off the creeping despair. My plan worked, eventually. After what seemed an eternity, with the wind steadily pounding the cold into me and sucking the hope out, I crawled headfirst into our walls, and burrowed back inside. Scott was so far into his bag that I don’t think he saw or heard me until I bumped into him. “Everything cool?” was his muffled question. I didn’t tell him what happened, trying to pretend it never did. Maybe I didn’t want to scare him, but I think I was more afraid of scaring myself. That’s how fast it can happen in the mountains, even on the “easy” West Buttress of Denali. It is all weather. In another hour or two, it was Scott’s turn for wall duty. Scott was younger and stronger than I; a 21-year-old graduate of the Naval Academy, he swam 1,000 yards every morning. I said something to him that young, invincible guys rarely say to each other: “Be careful.”

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by andrew bisharat  art by meg bisharat (ab’s mama)

House Rules

Be a filthy, vulgar dirtbag all you want, just not in my home


hey say that crude and vulgar behavior corrodes society, but climbers have made a way of life out of being obscene, self-centered and inconsiderate. Whether it’s orgiastic drinking binges on a lonesome desert wash, creating pandemonium on shuttle buses in national parks, or scamming ways to live for free for as long as possible, climbing, at its core cultural essence, is really a form of rebellion against the fakery, Puritanism and greed underpinning mainstream society. You only need to look as far back as the 1960s with the Vulgarians to see that this is true. The Vulgarians, in case you’ve never heard of them, were the East Coast equivalent to Yosemite’s Stonemasters—only they were way badder. The only reason we don’t hear much about the Vulgarians today—while the Stonemasters continue to appear once a year on Rock and Ice covers—is because in the days of yore, the Vulgarians were too busy soloing naked at the Shawangunks (the Junks, as I call them) to be bothered to take photos of themselves or write self-congratulatory sto-

ries that embellish their exploits. This fuzzy record of their history is proof that if you don’t make your own legacy, no one will. I wrote to a friend and O.V. (Original Vulgarian) “Clawed” Suhl to see whether his erstwhile gang actually lived up to its name. “I will cogitate and rake my memory cells and any stray mammary that passes by so as to arrive at some crudessential truths,” began Clawed’s response. “Let’s see … the vision forms in my mind’s eye. A faint darkness punc-

tuated by traffic headlights. Neon bar signs. Gold glows from half-spent pitchers of beer. “Lots of beer. Pretty as a pitcher. Certain inhabitants of the Bavarian Inn, aka the ‘Barbarian’ Inn for its pleasant Third Reichian atmosphere, prove distressing. Their behavior does not meet the acceptable standards of our gang. Thus a desire for retribution wells up in our minds as something necessary. “Myself, Dave Craft (the ringleader), Dick Williams and Pete Geiser stagger out the front door, anticipating the upcoming departure of those deemed in need of sanctions. We ruffle around the corner of the bar, and assault a brick chimney that leads to the roof. Merrily we piss off the roof, over the front door, as the departing blokes below seem astonished at the sudden onslaught of a mild shower. “Headlights weave away. Unfinished pitchers meet their end. And a new legend has been born.” When I hear stories such as this, a fierce joy wells up in my heart because I belong— at least in some manner of shared common attitude, if not direct lineage—to such a playfully offensive and filthy circle. It’s the kind of pride that makes your father cringe, which is perhaps the most attractive reason of all to this man-child still farting around in Freud’s middle stages of development. Those diabolical maniacs lived in a different time, however. People weren’t so afraid. Back then, if I may speculate carelessly, it seemed as though more people could express themselves freely without the fear of being locked up in jail, a reality that new-school climbers with power drills must face every weekend. Today, the only pissing that climbers do is the metaphorical kind on sport routes. Professional climbers tell us, via blogs and scorecards, “I pissed on that route! Yeah! I’m a professional! Woot! Woot!” Sadly, such cheap tropes indicate that much of the vulgar behavior of today’s climber merely comprise of dumb figures of speech for those too illiterate to read anything longer than a Tweet. They may be professionals, but their image is all amateur. God forbid if one of these professionals—or any vulgar dirtbag on the climbing circuit, for that matter—wants a place to stay, or specifically, your place to stay. It’s OK by me to be flippantly abusive to most congenital nonclimbers. However, we are treating the homes of our fellow grimpers like the boulders behind Camp 4, a type of self-obsessed thoughtlessness that has turned us against each other. Every Quentin Tarantino movie I’ve seen tells me this type of behavior will not end well. The sacred bond of the rope hasn’t just been abandoned by the self-aggrandizing wenchers

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who suck money out of every corporate orifice they can get their lips over in order to pursue their vain quest of bagging the Seven Summits. Many regular rock climbers have lost respect for each other as well. It came up just the other day with my belayer, Jen. “I sometimes feel like you don’t respect me or our relationship,” the belayer said. “What are you talking about?” I countered. “I always go in direct when I’m hangdogging.” The topic of conversation shifted as Jen, whose house had been overrun by five jobless and itinerant climbers, complained about finding rank urine all over her toilet seat from the festivities of the prior night. The words “jobless” and “itinerant,” I realize, may evoke John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, but I’m not exactly talking about the downtrodden here. A day in the life of many half-sponsored climb-

ers looks something like this: They wake up around 11 a.m., and spend the next two hours chatting on Facebook, looking through their library of videos and photos of themselves, slagging other climbers for their latest upgrades on, and otherwise wanking around on the Internet (e-mailing sponsors, gruntlaughing at YouTube, etc.). This is a period of “work,” after which it’s

third bottle of red wine. Now sufficiently hot and buttered, they step out onto a porch to smoke more weed and loudly express their frustrations with the climbing industry until 2 a.m. Any libertine would find this lifestyle totally fine, but it doesn’t jibe with people who wake up at 6 a.m. for a job to make the money needed for a place to live. We’ve gone from

A fierce joy wells up in my heart because I belong­—at least in some manner of shared common attitude, if not direct lineage—to such a playfully offensive and filthy circle. time to start entertaining the idea of going rock climbing. They reach the crag or boulders, do one or two warm-ups, smoke a bunch of weed, and get on the hardest route they can find. They yell at each other in Spanish, snap photos of each other, and then head back home to consume half a pint of whiskey (each) and make a giant meal. Dishes pile up in the sink as they ravage their

pissing on bar ruffians, to pissing on routes, to pissing on our friends’ homes. Maybe you know someone like this. Maybe you are someone like this. Either way, it seems appropriate, in this new age of self-centered atavism and vulgarity, to lay down some house rules. Basic manners, really. Fortunately, the most courteous principles for how

to behave in a place that doesn’t belong to you have already been laid out by the tree-huggers in the hippie wilderness credo Leave No Trace (LNT). Let’s see how: PLAN AHEAD & PREPARE  One time, I desperately wanted to climb around Las Vegas, so I called up my friend and spiritual mentor Bill Ramsey, who lived there. Of course, he said, it would be fine if I stayed with him. Upon sharing my upcoming plans with Mason, a mutual friend, I received some advice that maybe just saved my ass. “Don’t even think about showing up at Ramsey’s house without a gift,” Mason said. “I know some Canadians who stayed with Ramsey, but never once stocked the beer fridge. I heard Ramsey beat them like shit-eating dogs!” Never enter someone’s house without a fine bottle of scotch, or in Ramsey’s case, Tito’s handmade vodka. When I unsheathed the clear


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t nb bottle of Austin’s finest from my duffle bag, a hopeful and welcoming sparkle emerged in Ramsey’s eye, and I knew any unforeseen and unfortunate issues with my presence would be automatically forgiven … just as long as the bottle was full, of course. As we got blown out, we covered everything from Nietzsche to Sharma to the tremendous gyrations of Shakira’s hips. The swelling weight of our inebriation pulled us deeply into the cushions of our respective couches, and from that depressed vantage, we enjoyed each other’s company. Unbeknownst to him, however, I concealed paranoia, watching aghast as the bottle of Tito’s slowly drained. Like sand in an hourglass, it indicated to me how much time I had till my presence would change and become entirely repellent. TRAVEL & CAMP ON DURABLE SURFACES  If you want to stay up and party till 2 a.m., that’s fine. But don’t get pissed when the lights come on and coffee-grinding noises go off in the adjacent kitchen at 6 a.m. A van or truck outfitted with a bed can be extremely beneficial in helping to minimize your impact on your host’s home. No one wants to tiptoe around his or her own floors every morning, especially climbers, who already stand on their toes too much. If staying for an extended period of time, consider using the Walmart return policy to make your stay more comfortable. Get a slat of memory foam, sheets and pillows, and set up your bed in the most inconspicuous corner of the abode. You’ll have 90 days to return everything. One climber, in a manic rush to get to longer, drier rock in Europe, forgot to return his $300 queen-size foam bed. After a period of moral deliberation, his host appropriated the mattress as “room and board,” returning it himself, obtaining full store credit and promptly embarking on a wild shopping spree for groceries. Did you know Walmart has organic vegetables?

DISPOSE OF WASTE PROPERLY & LEAVE WHAT YOU FIND  People mix these two concepts up in a fit of dyslexic negligence. It’s not leave your waste and dispose of what you find, got it? Years ago, when I was more dumb, I let a new-school Vulgarian stay on my couch. Before I knew it, 30 days had passed and he was still there, breaking wine glasses and pissing on my floor and projects. As his presence increased and became more permanent, I began to live in fear of him in the way a grandma might cower before a gang of Bloods. The balance of power had shifted, and I began buying groceries for my new master. Pretty soon I found myself somehow evicted from my own bed, banished to the couch! Wrong! Eventually, my landlord regulated the situation, and kicked this most sinister squatter out, so I, like a Golem, began to worship my landlord instead. MINIMIZE CAMPFIRE IMPACTS  After you bring your host a bottle of scotch or vodka, you’ll likely be spending many nights together drinking it. The increased alcohol intake is entirely symptomatic of the fact that your host doesn’t really want you there, but feels obligated to entertain you and is also looking for any way to pass the awkward hours more quickly. Try to be considerate of this fact the next morning when your host wakes up with a hangover. A great houseguest who can cure a hangover will be canonized. Here is a remedy that I guarantee will work: two fried eggs, two bananas and fruit juice for breakfast. Tea (not coffee). Upon waking up, bring your host one liter of water and two Advils. Stroke his hair, and recite this poem from Robert Frost: Here are your waters and your watering place. Drink and be whole again beyond confusion. Andrew Bisharat knows in his heart that he is a doomed Vulgarian born in the different era.

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keit h’ s c or n er

photo and text by keith ladzinski

The Need for Speed Greg Williamson


he peaceful silence of Lion’s Head was broken as Greg Williamson shouted, “Rope!” He dropped a line from the cliff top and zipped down it. “I only have 20 minutes,” explained Williamson, an architect who was here on a break between meetings. “Thought I’d get a few pitches in.” To access this limestone sport-climbing area outside of Ontario, climbers must rap in and then climb out. As a result, locals often toprope self-belay, running laps on their favorite climbs. Williamson lapped five routes, packed up and left. Motivated is too small an adjective to fit Williamson, a guy who once rope-soloed 60 routes as difficult as 5.12+ in a day at this Canadian crag. Before he was an architect and a mega endurance climber, Williamson was a competitive body builder, a super-bike motoracer and a street brawler. A friend once observed, “He’s basically five dudes in one.” “From an early age,” says Williamson, now 35, “I had two weight-training partners who taught me how to push myself every single day. It’s something that has helped tremendously in climbing, business and life in general.“ At age 20, while competitive power lifting, Williamson sustained a major pectoral injury, which eventually brought all his then 230 bulky pounds to rock climbing. Instantly taken, Williamson had to adapt to the pace of this sport, a big change from 80-foot jumps on a dirt bike and bee-lining a street bike down roads at speeds of 180 mph. “That’s 180 mph in a straight line,” says Williamson. “However, it’s far more exciting to throw the bike into a corner at the track at 150 mph.” At one point, street brawling provided Williamson the rush he craved. He remembers one particular night at a bar when he and two friends got scrappy with some other guys. The bouncers threw them all out, and the other gang confronted Williamson and his friends in a nearby parking lot. “What ensued was straight out of an old Western movie,” says Williamson. “Bottles were smashed over our heads, and someone bit off the entire top half of my friend’s ear! Right as we were starting to get the upper hand, the police showed up and we all got thrown in jail for the night. Every weekend when we were 19 we lived out stories that we will remember for a lifetime.” For Williamson, who has owned his own architectural design firm for the last 10 years and is married with two daughters, those savage days are long gone. You’d be hard pressed to meet a nicer and more encouraging person. Williamson has opened his home to Toronto climbers and friends. Nightly campfires always seem to result in Williamson recounting another high-speed story, or lighting off a wax bomb. At home, he has channeled that energy and motion into his family life. “Already the bond I have developed with my 6-year-old from climbing with her and striving toward similar goals has been great. Climbing is something you can actually do with your kids, instead of just standing back watching.” ■

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PHOTO: hi kaneoha Fiona Langerberger pebble wrestles between breakers on the North Shore of Oahu. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, f /8, 1/250th second, ISO 250, 16-35mm lens shot at 33mm.

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PHOTO: matt richter Cassie Murray rises above the madding crowd on F lyin’ Hawaiian (5.11b), R umney, New Hampshire. Nikon D90, f /2.8, 1/320 second, ISO 200, 50mm lens.

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PHOTO: john Vallejo Paul Barazza runs the gauntlet of Serpentine (V9/10), Way Lake, California. Canon EOS 400 D, 1/250 second, ISO 100, Canon EF 70-200 mm lens shot at 85mm.

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Author Lizzy Scully jams the far from regular The Regular Route (5.9), on Higher Cathedral Spire.

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osemite national Park captured me at age 22. Within minutes of arriving at c amp 4, i was off jog g i ng — l itera l ly running to the base of e l c apitan. a s i stood underneath the Zodiac, talking excitedly to two young men about to embark on a three-day journey, i knew the c aptain was out of my reach since i maxedout at 5.9 trad. but all around me were other walls, friendlier giants with lower angles and more consistent, well-protected cracks. With h igher c athedral s pire right across the merced r iver, the brothers to the east, and the manure Pile buttress just around the corner, i didn’t mind waiting for e l c ap. i compiled a list of all the perfect moderate classic routes i would do: The Regular Route (5.9) of h igher c athedral, Snake Dike (5.7), the Central Pillar of Frenzy (5.9), and on and on. unfortunately, crowds of climbers shared my dreams, and impeded my daily upward progress. t he day i hiked up to Braille Book (5.8) with my 5.13-climbing German buddy, i practically wept as i watched two parties backlogged on pitch two and another party waiting below. “f orget this shit!” i said, eyeing the guidebook impatiently. “Let’s try The Sequel (5.8). it’s just up the hill.” We waded through thick trees and vegetation to the other side of the Braille Book pillar. t he gaping, dirty maw above elicited a grimace from my friend, but to me it was a glorious, totally people-free three-pitch adventure. “Woo hoo!” i hollered repeatedly as i wedged myself into and up the sparsely protected chimney. i had found the answer to that age-old climbing question, “h ow the hell do you avoid the crowds on moderate classics?” r ather than depart at an obscenely early hour or climb quickly, which i couldn’t do at the time, i delved into the world of less-traveled lines. s ince then, i have checked out dozens of indistinct routes from c alifornia to c olorado. i’ve found stunning splitters and exciting faces, as well as some total choss piles. a fter doing the groundwork, i have come up with a list of excellent, mostly obscure moderates in yosemite. Don’t expect 800 feet of splitter cracks. t hese lines include elements of the unknown, with wandering crack systems, daring runouts, and manky approach pitches. but they are moderate and they are fun, and while stacks of people wait in line below Serenity Crack (5.10d) and The Nutcracker (5.8), you will be cruising along at your chosen speed.

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FACING PAGE: Heidi Wirtz runs it out on the third pitch of Super Slab/Slide (5.9) in the Royal Arches Area. THIS PAGE, TOP: Eric Runderman locked and loaded on Super Slab’s fourth pitch. BELOW: The Merced River at sunset.

BETA Super Slab/Slide (5.9) four pitches

Route #1

Route #2

Super Slab/Slide (5.9), Royal Arches Area

Commissioner Buttress (5.9), Ranger Rock

Lit t le h is t o r ic a l in f o r ma t io n about Super Slab/Slide exists, except for the fact that Gene Drake and R ex S paith did the first free ascent sometime in 1971. T he route lies just up and left of the Serenity Crack at the R oyal A rches A rea. T hough oft-forgotten in conversation, Super Slab is likely well-traveled in reality, accepting the overflow from its famous neighbor. A nd, except for the first, chossy fifth-class pitch that leads to the base of the crack system (be sure to stay right on the pillar), it’s a three-pitch splitter and well worth doing. My partner on the route, the smiling C olorado strongwoman and Valley regular H eidi “A lmighty” Wirtz, suggested Super Slab because daily thunderstorms required an easy approach and speedy climbing. A moderate route, H eidi claims, is “one on which you have to try a little bit and work a little bit, but you don’t get pumped either mentally or physically.” With just one section of straightforward 5.9 hand and finger crack, it fills the bill.

Pu t u p by t h e pr o lif ic Va lle y climbers Galen R owell and Joe F aint in March 1969, this route on R anger R ock lies about 500 feet to the right of the well-traveled After Six (5.7) on Manure Pile Buttress. R owell, who died in 2002 in a plane crash, described Commissioner Buttress in a 1970 American Alpine Journal report as “exhilarating” and “almost entirely in jam-cracks and chimneys.” T he energetic and charming Valley lifer Ivo Ninov agrees. “It’s a super cool, full-on adventure climb that doesn’t see much traffic,” he says. Commissioner is also short and truly moderate, which is a good thing because the first time I tried to climb it with Ivo and four other people, we didn’t reach the base until well after 5 p.m. and were rained off after pitch one. I finally finished the route days later after begging and bribing the thoughtful, rock star Madaleine S orkin to hike up there with me late one evening. A fter spending the day working on the free version of the West F ace (V 5.13a A 0) of the Leaning T ower (which she did a few days later), her only comment had been, “T he hike better be short, and you’re leading.”

Park at the A hwahnee parking lot and follow a worn trail to Serenity Crack at the R oyal A rches A rea. From there, head 100 feet up and left to the base of Super Slab. C limb the right side of A hwahnee Buttress via fourth-class terrain and a short bit of 5.7 to a tree on a ledge. Belay at the tree. The excellent three pitches of Super Slab start out on the left side of the ledge. Pitch one follows a crack system up three short steep sections (5.7) to a two-bolt anchor. Pitch two continues up that crack system (5.8) to a three-bolt anchor. Pitch three continues up those cracks, ending with a perfect thin crack (5.9) before traversing left to a two-bolt belay just under a giant roof. R ap down the route, but rather than head back to the tree on the ledge, go straight down from the anchors at the first belay to a large tree directly below, from which you can reach the ground.

Commissioner Buttress (5.9) two to four pitches

Park at El C ap Picnic A rea, and hike five minutes to Manure Pile Buttress. Veer right before the base of Manure Pile up through a shallow gully. When you see a big spire jutting out of the trees as you head up the gully , ascend the hill another 10 minutes through the forest to its base. Start in an easy chimney that leads up and right to the bottom of a short, wide overhanging fist crack (5.9) that veers left. Then follow a long series of flakes and cracks. End at the top of a pillar, at a natural belay. The second pitch, which R owell called “exhilarating,” traverses left into a gully, and then up to gorgeous twin cracks, by a tree and through an intimidating but easy roof. Top out on the buttress and make a belay. Either climb two easier pitches to the top of the formation and descend off the west side, or descend after pitch two by climbing up and over some blocks and then down a short gully to two rappels on the east side of the buttress. {C ontinued on page 44)

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Yosemite THIS PAGE, LEFT: The raging Yosemite Falls. BELOW: Greg Loniewski is Absolutely Free (5.9). FACING PAGE: Wirtz meets Commissioner’s Buttress (5.9), Ranger Rock.

{Continued from page 43)

The Regular Route of Higher Cathedral Spire (5.9) four pitches

Approach via a climbers’ trail at a road turnout 1.4 miles east of the junction of highways 41 and 140. Hike up between Higher Cathedral and Higher Cathedral Spire, and wind up and around the base to the left. Stop beneath the south face. This fivepitch route starts with a left-facing corner (5.5) that leads to the wide ledge “First Base.” Build an anchor beneath Pitch 2, which starts at the far left end of the ledge. Follow a long crack through a bulge (5.9), or traverse left under a small roof for a more moderate 5.9 that leads to a steep bulge on good “bathtub” handholds. Climb past bolts, and belay at a tree above. Pitch three (5.9) goes up and left through a chimney to another tree anchor. As reported by Robinson in the Sierra Club Bulletin, this pitch is “excellent in its climbing possibilities, but dizzily overhanging hundreds of feet of empty space.” Pitch four works up and left, following additional crack systems and ending up on a ledge, from which a superb flake leads to a juggy finish up the summit block. There are many variations to the top. Descend the route.

Absolutely Free (5.9)

four pitches plus 400 feet of munge-hummocking

Park at a pullout just after the S-curve on the left side of the road .8 miles from Camp 4. Go around right from the toe of the Lower Brother to a right-facing dihedral, and scramble 400 feet of Class 4 and 5 terrain to a natural trough below a left-facing flake. From there, climb up to an alcove, through a cool chimney (5.7). Build an anchor. Pitch two, a 1.5-inch crack (5.9), and pitch three, a continuation of the same crack system, can easily be done together. Natural anchors are required. Pitch four follows a wide corner through an offwidth roof (that you can lieback) to the top of the Lower Brother, to another natural anchor. A bit tricky, the descent requires some potentially dangerous scrambling up various boulder problems to the base of the upper wall. Follow faint trails along the wall and down Michael’s Ledge to the ground.

The Sequel (5.8) four pitches

Approach Higher Cathedral the same way you would approach Higher Cathedral Spire, but head right upon reaching the spire, up the talus for another 20 minutes. When you see the huge rightfacing corner of The Braille Book, continue hiking uphill around the corner to the base of The Sequel. Pitches one and two follow a wide-open chimney that is full of handholds and stemming moves (5.7). Natural anchors are recommended, though some suspect webbing is tied around chockstones. Pitch three starts from a natural anchor at the bottom of a narrow squeeze chimney. The book rates this pitch 5.7, but it feels harder because gear and handholds are sparse. Build a natural anchor when you top out onto a big ledge. Pitch four (easy) traverses left up through a hold-covered face to the top of the formation. Descend by going up and left through manzanita and then down some slabs until you reach the gully. Drop onto a slope of giant boulders and talus until you eventually meet up with the approach trail.

Climb #4

Absolutely Free Center (5.9), Lower Brother

Route #3

Regular Route (5.9), Higher Cathedral Spire OK, ADMITTEDLY THERE IS nothing obscure about the Regular Route. Even the first ascentionists—Bestor Robinson, Jules Eichorn and Dick Leonard—fully scoped it before their ascent in April 1934, evaluating all existing photos of the wall with a microscope and protractor to determine that the average slope of the four faces was 81 degrees. An audience of five took photos and cheered from below as the Valley’s first big-wall climbers traversed their way up the formation, utilizing two half-inch ropes, 13 carabiners and 55 pitons. Climbed without the use of aid 11 years later by Chuck Wilts and Spencer Austin, the route was also one of the earliest 5.9 free climbs in the Valley. Still, it’s a huge hike and a big adventure, and one of those nebulous 5.9s that, depending on which way you go, may seem more difficult. The first roof/bulge on pitch one, a variation done by Royal Robbins, borders on definitely harder than moderate. One of my partners, the cheerful sport-climbing diva Lauren Lee, upon reaching the top of that pitch, asked, “Do strong sport climbers ever end up just not leading cracks? That was so awkward!”

FIRST PUT UP BY MARK KLEMENS, Sheldon Smith and Rick Sylvester, in August of 1970, Absolutely Free Center has “a little of everything, but mainly some very hard jamcracks,” as Sylvester wrote in a 1971 American Alpine Journal report. According to my partner that day, the most judicious of Yosemite’s dirtbags, Greg Loniewski, the route is “one of the most classic, infrequently done moderates in the Valley.” With construction-scarred hands the size of most people’s heads, Greg regularly free solos this stunning system of mostly wide cracks. His only warning: “The base of the route is difficult to find, requiring some serious mungehummocking.” In fact, the approach involves about 400 feet of fourth-class climbing over vegetated mounds of earth (hummocks) that adhere to rock like spit on glass. In A Climber’s Guide to Yosemite, Steve Roper described the Absolutely Free area in this way: “Seen from the West the Three Brothers are graceful and serene; seen from the east they present a chaotic mass of trees, ledges, and whitened and forbidding walls.” It’s this chaos that keeps the masses away, but nasty approach aside, this route is one of the finest, most wellprotected lines in the Big Ditch.

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RIGHT: Lizzy Scully finger walks Super Slab/Slide (5.9.) BOTTOM RIGHT: Ivo Nivov runs up the first pitch of Commissioner Buttress (5.9). BOTTOM FAR RIGHT: Lower Yosemite Falls.

Route #5

The Sequel on Higher Cathedral NONE OF THE VALLEY LOCALS I spoke with had ever heard of or climbed The Sequel, and when I described it, I mostly got blank looks. “Why would you want to do something like that? No, thanks,” Heidi said when I suggested it early in the trip. In order to get anyone to embark on the very long hike and to climb the route with me I had to lie. “Let’s do the ultra-classic Regular Route on Higher Cathedral,” I suggested to my friend Lance Lemkau one morning. “We can fi nish before the storms hit if we move quickly enough.” Then I waffled and waited, and we didn’t start hiking until late morning. Storms impending, I cheerily proposed another “really cool route just up the hill that we could do much faster.” Tired and sweaty, Lance agreed, and before long I heard him cussing his way through the completely overgrown, steep, loose, dirt-covered, nearly non-existent trail. “People actually do this route?” he asked, staring up at it, eyebrows raised. Established by Joe Faint and Chuck Pratt in October 1966, The Sequel follows one long, dark slash of a chimney up the far end of Higher Cathedral. There are a few loose blocks, including one fairly dangerous teetering chunk at the tail end of the third pitch, but 12 years after first doing it, more experienced and less intimidated by the other Valley giants, I returned for a follow-up ascent. I wanted a repeat of that exhilarating experience of wedging deep into Higher Cathedral, where I felt like I was uphill caving. After the sequel, so to speak, I still think it’s one of the coolest routes I’ve ever done. And the same can be said for the rest of the moderates listed here. Lizzy Scully lives, writes, and runs the nonprofit she co-founded, Girls Education International, from her small home in the foothills of Lyons, Colorado. ■ 4 6 R O C K A N D I C E .CO M  0 9 J A N UA R Y

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Christine Balaz on Madmen Only (5.10a).

Story and photos by Nathan Smith

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n a late afternoon in November 1974, Hunt Prothro stared up at the sunbaked overhanging West Face of the North Peak, Seneca Rocks. Above him a proud, unclimbed line connected cracks, corner systems and a blank face. A few weeks earlier Prothro, his partner Charlie Rollins and another friend, Ray Snead, had enhanced their reputations by sending all the 5.10s at Seneca in one day. All two of them, that is: Madmen Only and

Totem, which, in a way common to the area, has since been promoted to 5.11. It was already late in the afternoon and all the other climbers out this day had headed down to the usual packed Saturday-night party at the Gendarme, the climbing shop named after the area’s landmark tower [see sidebar, pg 52]. The shop’s front porch was the climbing community’s center. But Rollins had had other ideas for the evening and suggested, “Let’s go look at this line on the West Face Herb [Laeger] was talking about.” Rollins started up the route, the fall air cooling the lit-up wall. He fiddled in a few pieces, then climbed about a third of the way up

before backing off. The light was now rapidly fading but Prothro thought he’d have a shot. Reaching Rollins’s high point, he was able to get a few good pieces in, and began traversing right, into the next crack system. Immediately, he reached a state of deep play. “I kept climbing up, straight-in jamming with my right hand, backhanding left and backstepping my left foot as effortlessly and freely as I have ever climbed anything,” he recalls, still with some wonder. This heightened state quickly took him to the top just as the sun set in dry, clear air over the for-

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Clockwise from upper left: Chris Goplerud bears down for the Ambush (5.11a). Christine Balaz on a Daytripper (5.10a). Seneca by starlight.

ested West Virginia mountains. The view from the summit of the fin and the afterglow of the perfect climb led Prothro, a philosopher by proclivity, to reflect headily on the existential tenet that nature is indifferent. Considering that struggle is implicit to desire, and occurs against an opposing force, he concluded that nature must be malevolent. Malevolence became the name of this famous route, now

River and is only 15 feet thick in some areas, are suspended in a time warp, hidden deep within the rolling mountains of West Virginia. The hardcore traditional bastion of Seneca Rocks, with its diamond-hard rock, superexposed routes and rappels, and stiff grades is little changed since the early 1980s, when its crew of standard-setting climbers finished up their rush of first ascents and spread out

As in the Gunks, the area offers a continuum

in quality routes that let you test yourself at any level. But here, unlike at many areas East or West, parties do not have to line up for a few 5.7s. rated 5.10c and considered stiff at that. “In keeping with this feeling of transcendence and a bit of luck in the struggle,” he says, “I decided on the spot that this had been one of the perfect moments of my life and I was never doing the route again.”

<> <> <> In Se n e ca Ro ck s th e pa st melds with the present. The town of Seneca and the emblematic fin of Tuscarora quartzite, which looms up to 900 feet above the North Fork

across A merica to develop crags of their own. They left a legacy of climbing that requires real leading skills, but offers an abundance in mid-grade and multi-pitch classics. O ver the last year I have spent most of my time at home wandering around Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah, with a pad on my back, discovering new boulders. While it was an amazing time, something was missing. I needed to get back on a rope and experience the adventure of piecing together a natural line and placing protection. What better

place to do that than Seneca? When friends and I visited there in early spring, the area swarmed with climbing parties, and people queued up for a good selection of classics such as Ecstasy (5.7) and Soler (5.7), but unlike the activity at many other famous areas, the grade selection of this weekend’s climbers abruptly ended at 5.9. Walls of classic 5.10s and 5.11s remained empty, devoid of any sign of recent activity. Bill Webster and Rich Pleiss’s 1976 Guide to Seneca Rocks showed this grade scale: 5.0-5.1 = E xtremely E asy 5.2-5.3 = E asy 5.4-5.5 = Difficult 5.6-5.7 = Very Difficult 5.8-5.9 = E xtremely Difficult 5.10 = A pproaching human limitations 5.11 = Unbelievable!!! To many of today’s visitors, this scale still rings true. A ccording to Tony Barnes, the author of Seneca: The Climbers Guide, “There is a whole lot of easier moderate climbing here of a high quality, which makes it an everyman’s crag.” A side from a knifeblade ridge and summit like no other in the E ast, Seneca has beautiful views of endless green hills, lush farmland and meandering rivers and streams, and good though sometimes spaced gear on steep rock of the same type found hundreds of miles away in the Shawangunks, except that here it has erupted in vertical rather than horizontal striations. A s in the Gunks, the area offers a continuum in quality routes that let you test yourself at any level. But here, unlike at many areas E ast or West, parties do not have to line up for a few 5.7s. Seneca offers an overabundance of quality lines from 5.4-5.7. Seneca Rocks has experienced several distinct eras, from the days when the 10 th Mountain Division left the legacy of the popular 5.5 and 5.4 routes Conn’s East and Conn’s West, and practiced pin placement by banging in what became known as “The Face of a Thousand Pitons.” For the two decades post World War II, activists such as Tony Soler, Jan and H erb Conn, and friends put up classics from 5.7 to 5.9. A fter the heady 1960s and 1970s, with a broad cast of characters establishing then top-standard routes, the final phase of development, as posited J a n ua r y 10 3 r o c k a n d i c e .c o m 51

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The Day the Soldier Fell

D ia n e K ea r n s

The Gendarme was a symbol to the town, and the site of three climbing routes. Then … it fell.

As far back as the Seneca tribe, who idolized the lone spire on the peak looming above, the people of Seneca R ocks were proud of the Gendarme. The local climbing shop was named after the 240-foot spire, and its image was posted on T-shirts, mugs and posters. Tony Barnes, local climber and guide, says, “It was symbolic to the community. It was unique.” O ctober 22, 1987, was an unusually warm fall day. A t 3:27 p.m. 11-year-old Brock Markwell, the son of the local climbing-shop owner, was waiting in the schoolyard for his mother when from inside the building she heard him scream. “I didn’t know if he was bitten by a snake or someone was trying to cut his head off,” she says. “I ran out, but he was just pointing up at the rocks with nothing to say. It was then that I saw all the dust and said, ‘O h, my god, the Gendarme fell!” Brock had seen it explode into white mist. He is the only person to witness it fall. The spire cracked across the bottom and smashed into the ledge below, shattering the rock into boulders, and sending a groan through the lower valley. By the time the people looked to see what had happened, a thick wall of dust concealed the mountains. The Gendarme had been one of the most popular climbing features in Seneca, with three different routes leading to a platform summit. It stood between the two pinnacles of the Seneca buttresses, in an area known as the Gunsight. A s an independent spire, apparently guarding the mountain range behind, it was named after the French word for a medieval soldier at post. However, the spire did not always stand steadily. Some climbers claimed that the wind would often sway the pinnacle. Luckily, no one was on the 40,000-pound spire when it finally gave up its station. A ccording to John Markwell, founder of the Gendarme C limbing School and Shop, “Many times climbers would not tie into the end of the rope or would just solo the thing. Everyone knew the sucker would come down eventually and if it did they wanted to be able to jump off or let their climbing partner run through the belay device and watch them go down.” (continued on page 54)

by E ric H örst in a 2002 guidebook, was from 1985 to 1995. A plethora of fine, steep 5.11s to 5.13 appeared on blank walls and within an area cave.

<> <> <> Our cre w a rrive d midwe e k after four days of waiting out rain and snow, and we stared at the fabled fins from the Forest Service Discovery Center across the North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River, seeing the West Virginia made famous by singers and songwriters from John Denver to Daniel Johnston. For years we had all heard stories of sandbag grades, tricky gear, the infamous Stairmaster approach and loose rock raining down from parties above. A ragtag group of Seneca first-timers, Dean Lords, Christine Balaz, Will Mayo and I set off with trepidation and a long tick list. H eading to the Lower Slabs, we eased our way in by climbing Discrepancy (5.8), put up by Drew Bedford toward the end of the firstascent rush of the late 1970s and early 1980s. A young and impressionable youth, Drew started his climbing apprenticeship near the end of Seneca’s golden age, in 1979. Days of working his way up the grades culminated with nightly campfire renditions of the latest activity from local heroes such as Prothro, Cal Swoger, Greg Collins and Pete A bsolon (who would later, sadly, be killed at age 47 in

a freak accident in the Wind Rivers, hit by a rock thrown from a viewpoint above). John Markwell, then the owner of the Gendarme, took Drew under his wing and into the community, bringing him along to group dinners at the Valley View restaurant. From his home today in Salt Lake City, Drew reminisces: “The first time I heard about the Strawberry Shake I was maybe 16 or 17 years old and all the other guys were ordering strawberry shakes, so I thought, ‘Man, these must be good shakes.’ So I ordered one and they brought out a paper cup with beer in it, and I thought, ‘Man, this is even better.’” E thics were strict, and strictly enforced, even for the era. When asked about the lack of bolts at Seneca, Drew describes a competitive scene

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d ea n l o r ds “The exposure, the amazingly narrow fin and the beautiful views of the valley below: Gunsight to South Peak has to be one of the finest 5.4 pitches I’ve done ... ever.”

where a rap-bolted line might well be poached (climbed) early in the morning before the scorned bolter had a chance to climb it. One by one my friends and I quickly made our way up Discrepancy, relaxing as the crack ate gear, and seemed right on and possibly even straightforward for the grade. Our first day, filled with moderate cragging, included the Green Wall (5.7), and our group’s favorite, Gunsight to South Peak (5.4), put us into the groove and ready to step it up. The rock varied from compact and bullet-hard to jumbled chips and flakes. On one climb, we felt like we were on quartzite, but on another, Candy Corner (5.6), we would have sworn we were on granite. On our second day Chris Goplerud from Colorado joined the group—after a 30-plusyear hiatus from climbing at Seneca, years during which cams, chalk, sticky rubber and even technique have changed it drastically. Chris started climbing here in 1975 as a freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, at the end of the Piton Age, using nuts and hexes. Cams would not come onto the scene until late 1978. “We couldn’t believe how much they cost,” he recalled. “They were $14 a unit and, uh, we were scared to death of them. Once we set up this elaborate back-up system with Stop-

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pers and hexes, then placed this Friend at the lip of an overhang. We were taking these test falls onto it, just scared to death that this newfangled device would rip out. The Friend was probably better than the anchors.” At the top of Chris’s list of climbs to hit during our visit were Castor, Pollux and Madmen Only, all 5.10a. We had the area mostly to ourselves, and those routes, as well as Orangeaid and Malevolence, all classic 5.10s, were empty. Unbeknownst to us, however, we were being watched intently. As people arrived after the three- to four-hour trek from D.C, we were visible from town and the campground. When we arrived in camp we felt people staring, and had no idea why. The next morning word was out— everyone wanted to ask us about the 5.10s. One of the area guides told us, “It’s cool to see you on these routes. Nobody really climbs them.” The twin cracks of Castor and Pollux, the twin sons of Leda and Zeus in Greek mythology, were short and bouldery, sculpted in perfect fingerlocks. Though both routes can be combined with many other variations such as Orangeaid (5.10b) or The Grand Finale (5.9+), most people only climb the first pitches. On the opposite side of the fin, overlooking town and in majestic sight of the highly traveled classic Gunsight to South Peak (5.4) lay Madmen Only, Seneca’s first 5.10 and slightly wider and harder than we expected. Madmen followed a right-facing corner to three-quarters height, then headed up the face, ending just before the top of the fin. If for nothing other than the hero photos, Madmen is a coveted tick for any local or visiting climber. At Seneca, “local” has its own meaning. Except for a small handful of guides and Gendarme employees, only about two dozen climbers live within an hour of Seneca. Most of the locals hail from D.C. and Pittsburgh,

facing Page Top: Christine Balaz focuses in on Discrepancy (5.8). Bottom: Dean Lords runs it out while on Border Patrol (5.11c X). this Page Top: Seneca Creek. Bottom: The heart of Seneca’s social scene, the Gendarme and Seneca Rocks Climbing School.

Ch r is Go pl er u d “Climbing Pollux and Madmen Only was a real thrill for me. It just gives you more respect for the people that put up those routes back then with what we had.”

H u n t Pr o t h r o “We judged everything by Yosemite standards in those days: ‘It would be 5.10 in the Valley’ was a line we used to describe Madmen Only.”

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(continued from page 52) The imminent danger did not stop climbers and guides from going up the routes. C limbing on the Gendarme was on most visitors’ lists. “We always took people up the Gendarme,” Markwell says. “It was such a cool formation.” Barnes says that upon completing a three-day course, clients were given the chance to climb the pinnacle’s 5.4 route as “a celebration.” The Gendarme was first climbed in 1940, by Paul Bradt, Sam Moore and D on Hubbard, who put up the 5.4 route on the East Face. In 1974 Gordon Grahm put a 5.8 R route up on the overhanging West Face, and four years after, a 5.8 R went on the N orth Face by Tim C ampbell and Jenny R uffing. Fixed pins provided protection on the 5.4 and a couple of old rusty bolts marked the summit. O n O ctober 19 Barnes and two clients were the last people to visit the spire. Barnes was also climbing nearby the day it fell. He and Hunt Prothro had just finished the 5.10 Crack of Dawn, which was right around the corner from the spire, when they heard the sudden crash. Barnes says, “We turned to each other and just knew that it had to be the Gendarme.” Both men scrambled around the corner and hurried to look below. “Sure enough, it was gone,” Barnes says, “with just a cloud of dust in its place.” The community viewed the loss of the spire as a sorrowful event. Barnes says, “A fter it fell, people described looking up at the Gunsight as like looking at the dog house after the dog died.” The reason for the Gendarme’s fall is still unknown. Helen Markwell says, “Everyone in the community has theories.” Some say that the A ir Force jets that regularly flew down the river valley went above the sound barrier and the vibrations shook the ground so much they cracked the spire. The most likely reason, according to Markwell and Barnes, is that the previous night was a stormy and freezing 20 degrees and the next day was a sunny, 80-degree fall day. Barnes says, “It’s just expansion and contraction. The 60-degree difference got to it.” A few weeks after the Gendarme fell, a man came into the climbing shop with a pair of rusty bolts around his neck: the anchors for the Gendarme that had plummeted with their holder. He laid them down on the shop counter and simply said, “D o you want these?” N ow the precious trinkets hang in the Gendarme C limbing Shop, rusty remnants of the fallen soldier who rests in pieces in the forest.  —Teige Muhlfeld

each weekend driving up to five hours to touch the stone. O ne notable exception is Ron K irk, a business owner in Franklin, just half an hour away, and an imposing figure thanks to years of constant activity and dedicated weight training. A fortuitous meeting at age 15 paired K irk with the Cleveland Mountaineers and led to a lifelong addiction to Seneca that continued all through his studies at O hio University. In 1978 Ron moved to the area to buy the climbing company CMI. K irk says, “It was actually a climb at Seneca Rocks that got me into the business.” A fter climbing the parallel-sided crack of Soler (5.7), Ron had the idea for a cam chock and developed the K irk’s K amms, which were produced by CMI.

<> <> <> Afte r mo rn ing co ffe e and beta spray downs at Tony Barnes’s coffee shop, Ground Up, we decided to try the Southern Pillar area, and started with the John Bercaw classic Daytripper (5.10a). Cleaved into a smooth wall, Daytripper looked like a lightning bolt drawn by a child. Christine set off and soon found herself midway up the route with water rolling down the crack and dripping off her elbows. Not one to give up easily, she fought through and into a

stance above to dry off before finishing. When Bercaw arrived on the scene in the early 1970s, confident from toproping 5.9 at Carderock, in Maryland, he was shocked to find himself scared witless on 5.3 at Seneca. “Protection was hard, especially as you were learning. The saying among D.C. climbers was, if you can climb in Seneca and protect the routes there, you can climb anywhere.” Soon, however, Bercaw started repeating the testpieces of the day and adding his own, ranging from Daytripper (5.10a) to, eventually, Fine Young Cannibals, Seneca’s first 5.13. A t one time John was one of the most vocal opponents to bolting at Seneca, making a staunch condemnation. In 1979 he wrote an article called “What Price for Glory?” for Climbing in which he railed against bolting and called out some of the Seneca locals. In 1975 the first bolt since the 1940s, when the U.S. A rmy’s 10th Mountain Division trained here, was placed, by Jesse Guthrie on his first ascent of Sunshine (5.10 R), the lower E ast Face, on rappel, ushering in an era of unrest. Just days after the bolt was placed, John Stannard—a longtime activist here, though he may be better known for his standard-setting climbs in the Gunks—led the route without the bolt, followed shortly by Bercaw in the same manner. A fter Bercaw led the route, the

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Seneca Logistics Guidebook: Seneca: The Climbers Guide – Second Edition, by Tony Barnes. Climbing Shop: The Gendarme: Guide Service: Seneca R ocks C limbing School (www. Seneca R ocks Mountain Guides and O utfitters ( Camping: Princess Snowbird C ampground (www.yokum. com): the site of the traditional pavilion climbers’ camp; cabins and tipi options. Yokum’s Vacationland C ampground ( Seneca Shadows (877-444-6777): Forest Service campground on the hill above the Gendarme shop. Motels & Cabins: The 4-U Motel and R estaurant (304567-2111): route 55, two miles from town center. Yokum’s Vacationland (

Season: It’s possible to climb year round, but spring and fall provide the best temps, with fall having a lower chance of rain.

Recommended routes: Gunsight

to South Peak (5.4). FA : Paul Bradt, D on Hubbard, Sam Moore, 1939.


East (5.6). FA : John Stearns, George K olbucher, Jim C rooks, 1944.

Ecstasy West

Pole (5.7+). FA : George Bogel, Jim Payznski, 1970. FFA : Tim Beaman, Larry Myer, 1971.


Wall (5.7). FA : John C hristian, Jim Shipley, A lan Talbert, 1956.


Restaurants: Front Porch: a great spot for pizza after climbing, open for lunch and dinner; follow the “C limb to Eat” sign to the upper level of the Harpers C ountry Store. 4-U: traditional diner food; route 55, 2 miles from town center.

(5.7). FA : Joe Faint.

(5.7). FA : Tony Soler, R ay Moore, 1951.


(both 5.10a). FA : Pat Milligan, George Livingstone, 1971.


Madness-Crack of Dawn link-up (5.9+/5.10a). FA M.M.: Tom Marshall, John C hristian, 1955. FA : Dawn: Marty McLaughlin, Eric Janoscrat, 1980.

Groceries and Supplies: Harper’s C ountry Store and Yokum’s Grocery are both in the center of town.

Cottonmouth-Venom link-up

Cell Service: There is no service in town, but drive about five minutes north on 33 toward Franklin and look for a small church on the left. N icknamed “the church of immaculate reception,” it has service in the parking lot.


bolt was mysteriously chopped. Today, from his home in Salt Lake City, John recalls an encounter with H oward Doyle, a prolific first ascentionist and one of Seneca’s leading hard climbers of the 1970s and 1980s. “H oward was just furious with me,” he says. “I remember sitting on a belay ledge on the E ast Face and H oward was just railing at me while walking up the scree slope. Just cursing me and everything. I was glad I was a pitch up. “It took me forever to convince him I did not chop the bolt, and I’m not sure I ever did. I still don’t know who did it.”

<> <> <> O n e by o n e , ma n y o f the Southern Pillar’s steeper lines went down: Daytripper, The Judgement Seat (5.10a), Block Party (5.8), and Border Patrol (5.11c). The walls on the Southern Pillar, with its mossy, spring-fed base of verdant ferns, ranged from slightly overhanging to steep and cave-like. Constant seepage has left many of the climbs here slick and glassy, requiring precise footwork. A fter a quick lunch, we set our sights on the roof crack of Ambush (5.11a). Dean and Will made quick work, and then Christine was up. By

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D r ew Bed f o r d “You know, you pore through guidebooks reading people’s names and accomplishments and stuff like that, and you’re just like, OK , I want to put some sort of a stake in the ground that I was here and that I was a climber. Discrepancy was my first first ascent.”

(both 5.10b). FA Cottonmouth: Tom R amins; FFA : Matt Hale, Tom Evans, 1969. FA Venom: Hunt Prothro, Herb Laeger, C harlie R ollins, 1975. Brain (5.11a). FA : Leith Wain, Jack Beatty, 1979.

this time, two guided parties on routes to our left had stopped to watch, while another party spotted us from a route on the South E nd and came over for the show. Christine chalked up apprehensively: three days straight of climbing, and now a slick 5.11a roof crack. She began tenuously, but soon reached the crux. Visibly pumped and fighting, she placed a cam; suddenly her body seemed to slacken, and she started to slump down. Not a whisper arose from the crowd. A low scream matched her unwelcome downward movement, but turned into a roar as she sprang upward and dynoed off a hand jam to a jug. H er hand hit the flat block with a loud “thwack” and the crowd roared. A fterwards we were told that the guided clients felt like they were in a climbing movie. They had never seen anyone try like that. These routes ask it and are well worth it. Nathan Smith lives in Salt Lake City, working as a photographer and graphic designer. The co-author of two climbing guides, with more in the works, he spends his days in the woods with a camera in one hand and topo drawings in the other, trying to make sense of things.

Facing Page: Left: Chris Goplerud returns to Seneca 30 years later, now qualified for Madmen Only (5.10).

Jo h n Ber ca w O n bolting: “Ironically, [by] the ’80s I was doing it myself, so, you know.... Times change and I guess Eric (Janoscrat) and Howard (D oyle) were ahead of their time, visionaries or, uh … I just gave up.”

Top Right: Ron Kirk on the Via Ferrata at nearby Nelson Rocks Preserve. Bottom Right: Seneca Motor Company.

R o n K ir k “A fter a day of climbing at Seneca, this idea came up of a cam chock. Well, I had a lot of automotive experience and I immediately thought of a cam shaft and from that I developed the first K irk’s K amms, which were later put into production by CMI.”

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nd a r e m bers ty Gri

h m g i i l c m t e s e o Th b c s ’ r d l t a r a o f f w o e e h r t squa

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ez rimes G l l Gimen a i o d r a By N n by Ber s o t o h P

The female wolf pack, Arco, 2009.

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gazed out like a king upon the sun-blessed streets of the beautiful north italian town of Arco, a sub-alpine paradise of crag-rimmed architecture, cobbled streets, beautiful women and amazing ice cream. All round me were fit and tanned people, strolling, chatting, relaxing. i sized up individuals of all nations, saw the odd face i recognized, and smiled. i absentmindedly scratched my crotch and entertained bigoted thoughts about people from other countries. i am irish, and i live in e ngland. it doesn’t get much worse than that, nor can anything be further from the high-class paradise that all these people were so free to enjoy. i consider myself to be quite near the bottom of the heap—pale-skinned, raised on over-processed food and t V repeats, and with a defensively negative world view. As such, i believe it is my right—no, my duty—to find things to laugh about in my superiors.

<> <> <> t h e it Al iAns , Wit h t h e ir friendliness. t he Americans, with their generosity and naivety. t he e astern e uropeans with their gravity. t he Germans, with their thick ankles. people with those outdoor trousers with different-colored knee patches and fit people in l ycra. t hose people with white legs, swollen red faces, bad posture and hats from a previous decade. o ops! t hat was my reflection in the full-length mirror behind the bar. t he Arco r ockmaster is one of e urope’s top competitions, a strange offshoot of our sport

Competitor Yulia Abramchuk.

that bears little or no resemblance to the thing that you do, and in which you have little interest, where identically-clad youths scurry up an overhanging sheet of plywood pulling on brightly colored blobs of resin. it takes place every s eptember in the north of italy. t he organizers of the event also pay for representatives of various magazines to appear on a jury whose mission is to decide upon the year’s best sport climber and best competition climber, who will then be awarded an orb of glass. As jurors, we get fed and watered and treated like human beings for a few days, but firstly, the judging process had to be survived, and my involvement gives me an insight into all such jury votes, whether for an o scar, a piolet d’o r, who becomes pope or whether we hang o J. t he underlying subtext is that who wins is fairly arbitrary, but the sooner we get this over with, the sooner we’re out of here. As such, there is a strategy. mingle beforehand to see if any of the judges actually care who wins. o f the dozen or so there, you can expect one or two to have an opinion. f ind out what that opinion is and adopt it. r e-mingle and canvass for that candidate, getting everyone on side before the event, and—presto! We gathered in the jury room along with the organizers and some mayor-style character, and started to voice our opinions. it’s important not to blow your cover in front of the organizers because you want to get invited back next year, so put some passion into your speech. Append it with phrases such as: “t his year the choice was harder than ever. ” perhaps do some hand gestures, knit your forehead, then utter the name of a climber who, were he or she sitting beside you, you might not even recognize. s till, some people couldn’t help themselves from raising their hands with “important

points.” i looked around at the other voters, journalists from the world’s media, and hoped they were all in on the plan. t here was t ony from s outh Africa whom i knew for a fact understood less about competition climbing than me. h e had confided to me earlier that he was hoping to get a thing going with a local barmaid. t here was piotr, the pole from Gory magazine. h e cared a little but i also knew he had a terrific appetite, and the sooner he got to dinner the better. t here was f lorian from Climax magazine in Austria. l ast year he had brought his mag along for everyone. it was printed in 3D and i remember the strange sight of half the jury wearing blue and red plastic specs. t he blurred images left lots of members nauseous that day and f lorian had been told to be on his best behavior this year. t hen there was Jens from, the world’s biggest climbing website, and first for news. it’s packed with charts and rankings, and looking at it had much the same affect on me as the 3D magazine. t he screen was entirely covered in vertigo-inducing numbers, so much so that the first time i saw it i thought it was a piece of machine code. it looks like the sort of website that has never had a woman’s touch. l ike last year, Jens had already calculated who the winners would be and he sat there, self-satisfied, twirling the ends of his mustache. t hen there was igor. h ere’s a rule to live by. never fuck with anyone called igor. igor Koller was a dark-horse editor and i was frightened of him. h e came from one of those ex-iron c urtain countries. i can’t remember which, but one look and i could see the incredible depth of his toughness. h e looked like he could happily spend two weeks freezing his nuts off on a h imalayan north face. Apparently he had done a lot in the Dolomites in the 1970s. Back then it was a real struggle to get out of Bumfuckski, but he managed the odd week away. When he did, he had to make it count. o ne time he arranged to hook up with a young German hotshot for a week in the Dolomites and over that week he did three major new routes including the world-famous Fish, an outstanding bold and technical climb, one of the hardest of its type in the world. After the week he went back home, primed for harder things, while the German was so spent he never climbed again. t o pass time in the jury i imagined insulting igor and his country, and winced at the thought of how he would kill me. i imagined being on a north face with him: “igor, did you pack the candy, because i can’t find any in my bag?” “igor, you’re hurting me!” i know for a fact that he is a very nice person, but such is my penchant for fantasy that i cringed every time he glanced my way. All went well with the jury. We voted c hris

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s harma and somebody else the winners and we went off for dinner and then to the comp. i sat inside the press enclosure with my double-scoop ice cream and watched the wall for a while. people were still climbing up it, so i read my book for a while. r eaching the end of a chapter i looked up and observed the crowd. t here they all were—looking, clapping, oohing. Being good citizens. it was strange to see people looking at climbers climb as if it was a real sport and they were fans. t his legitimacy created a sense of celebrity around the climbers. l ots of names were there, and quite a few faces. t he stars of the sport. t his led me into a weird state of inverted deference toward them, and it surprised me to find myself ever so slightly starstruck. But what would i say if i accidentally bumped into one? i might know what shoe company they are sponsored by or what position they came in, but it’s hardly the basis to strike up a conversa-

Maja Vidmar after falling unexpeactedly low on the onsight route.

To pass time in the jury I imagined insulting Igor and his country, and winced at the thought of how he would kill me. tion. i mean, i can hardly step in front of lovely, bite-sized maja Vidmar as she strolls from isolation, look her in the eye and say, “i really liked the way you shook out on the yellow crimp.” With that opening line you can’t expect to find yourself, two hours later, in a local café, waxing on about what percentage of recovery she estimated she got. no chance. e yes forward.

<> <> <> i o nc e l iVe D in A f l At and got to know my downstairs neighbor. peter was a fellow irish and a tightrope walker in a circus, but in his time had been, among other things, a The melting pot of Arco.

fashion make-up artist, a bus conductor and a professional figure skater. i asked him about figure skating, imagining him throwing a sequin-and-flesh-colored-stocking-clad beauty into the air to classic pop tunes. “no, that’s not figure skating, that’s Dancing on ice.” h e explained that in figure skating, the skater comes onto the ice and skates a figure eight. h e then skates a figure eight once more following the same track, then skates off. t he judges come out and analyze how much the second track deviated from the first, and the least deviant skater wins.

“i gave it up in the end,” peter explained. “i was always too deviant.” f igure skating struck me as the dumbest sport i had ever heard of—until i came across speed climbing. i wandered through the competition arena with a burger and joined a crowd lingering in front of a tall vertical wall. t wo identical lines of holds ran up the wall, each one looking like a large splat from a s paceman s piff mertilizer gun. A friend who knew something about competitions explained: t he vertical hop scotch of bright jugs, shaped like oversized treats for your pet hippo, was a standard route, designed two years ago by a team of lab rats in s pain. s ince then, every official speed-climbing competition takes place on this identical route—those holds in that orientation at that distance apart and in that order. t his is the only route that speed climbers do. s trange, and about to get stranger. At the base was a rigid-looking suspect in a red r ussian team top staring at the climb. h e looked pretty wired, with a blond combed-back Barnett, like some flickknife teddy boy from downtown Vladivostok. i watched him while his eyes ran up and down the blotches and his body started to twitch. h is hands did doggypaddle jerks while his hips and heels convulsed like someone with terminal spasms. i thought, either this guy has had Joy Division’s Greatest h its injected into his cortex or he’s about to j a n u a r y 10 3 r o c k a n d i c e .c o m 59

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have a fit. r emembering schoolyard first aid i had started to look for something to stop him swallowing his tongue when my friend told me it was o K, he was a speed climber. s oon he was joined by a second contestant. An official hooked a toprope up to the backs of their full-body harnesses. t his was a special toprope, the last six feet being covered in rigid tubing. i reasoned that at some point in the sport’s history a climber advanced up the wall faster than a belayer could take in slack and the spare coils flopped around the climber’s neck

uneven outbreak of street violence—someone should stop that! At the top, predictably, a big bright buzzer was pressed and the speedsters slouched onto the ropes. t he rear attachment point left them suspended, tilting slightly forward, arms hung down, and they descended like knackered horses being lowered into the glue-pit. “it’s the next big thing,” my colleague informed me. “if climbing gets to the o lympics, that’s where the advertising is. t he punter understands speed.” oh, mother of God! is it true? Will the world at large come to see these galloping glue ponies as the pinnacle of achievement in climbing? Will the exasperating trials of politely explaining “s o, what’s the highest you’ve ever climbed?” be replaced with a finger poked in the chest and the demand, “s o, how quick are you, buddy?”

<> <> <> in An e f f o r t t o JUs t if Y mY existence from a journalistic point of view, i decided i would interview the best climber in the world. Adam o ndra is only 16 years old and eats 9a (5.14d) for breakfast, lunch and dinner. t his might well be all he eats, for he is tall and skinny, with gangling limbs and knucklejoint knees. With his shy loping walk, he reminds me of an hour-old foal. c hris s harma once told me that he understands what all the top climbers in the

cool and surly, and confident and they shook hands. r amonet then came out (r amonet, little r amonet who, standing on the winner’s block was still a little shorter than Adam on his thirdplace block), and he and David gave each other one of those cool handshakes, with different parts to it and biceps and backslaps. h e turned to Adam and they exchanged one of those handshakes that you imagine e nglish explorers gave each other at the s outh pole in 1907. i found him, and he agreed to an interview. We sat down on a bench. i set up my Dictaphone and launched off into my specially prepared questions. “What’s your favorite color? Do you prefer cats? t its or ass?” t hese weren’t the questions i really asked, although maybe i should have. instead i asked about 9a’s and redpointing and grades. h e answered politely, but quite soon a voice inside my head started to point out that this was probably the hundredth time some tedious man more than twice his age was asking him the same tedious questions. it started to dawn on me what a bore i was, and i wondered whether i had nothing better to do than ask little boys about what subjects they do at school. pretty soon, to save both of us from further humiliation, i found myself thanking Adam effusively for a tremendous interview and scurrying off to a café to drown my embarrassment in some melted cheese.

The rear attachment point on the speed-climber’s harnesses left them suspended, tilting slightly forward, arms hung down, and they descended like knackered horses being lowered into the glue-pit. Slovenian Natalija Gros in the isolation zone.

like a kernmantel constrictor. When the climber fell off the route, speed climbing was left with its very own t oni Kurtz. t he DJ spun a techno tune and lyrics boomed across the stadium: “my love for you is like a truck Berserker!” A stopwatch jockey revved up the monkeys: “r eady, get set, go!” t witch and his rival scrabbled up the wall at a terrible speed, feet pedaling, arms whirling, grabbing and gobbling upwards at an unbelievable rate. it was an ugly sight, horrible to watch, searing to the eyes of a climber such as i, suffused with the poetic beauty of “t he move” and all the timeless love that it has inspired. it gave me the same feeling as watching a nasty and

world do, and how they do it, apart from Adam. Adam was on a different level, he assured me. “Good luck,” a s panish journalist wished me. “i have tried to interview Adam now three times but he is very shy. Very shy.” i suspected this was true. e arlier Adam had been at the prize ceremony, having come third to the Austrian David l ama and the s paniard r amonet Julian. Adam stood on the third-place box while an amazing looking blond beauty gave him a huge bunch of flowers. h e stood awkwardly, obviously not really knowing what to do. i recognized this look from my own teenage experiences, and i imagined the horror of standing there, glands pumping swampy hormones like cannons firing grapeshot, with everyone looking. next David came out, looking

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Af t e r al l t h e c o mpe t it io ns were over and the prizes awarded and the tears shed there is always a party in the main square on S unday night. I must admit I’m not sure who did well in the climbing but for me this is where the points are really won and lost, and you certainly don’t win any points by not showing up. F rom this perspective, Adam O ndra, Patxi Usobiaga, R amonet, Maja Vidmar and Angela E iter were disqualified from the start. T he piazza is beautiful: perfectly cobbled streets, an ancient church, fine painted buildings all about. Above these you could see the cragged mountaintops that ring the village and give the town so much character. O n top of the highest and most spectacular of these peaks, looming right above the town, the ancient castle was lit up in the warm darkness. T he evening was alive with happy chattering and the whine of Piaggios. I approached the bar after having had a nice dinner to find most of the competitors in an advanced state of drunkenness. I suspected that many of these youths trained hard for the Arco event, and tonight was the night they let off steam. Kilian F ischhuber had obviously found and drank a bottle of Mix, fallen down behind the sofa, then came back up again a monster. Actually, I say a monster, but I really mean just a slightly louder version of himself. And seeing as how Kilian normally seems to be a straightforward, open and extremely polite person, what I really, really mean is he was being polite at a higher volume. H e was there with his girlfriend Anna S tohr, top female boulderer. S he, too, is straightforward, open and polite. I found myself talking to them and I wondered if they made the perfect couple. T hey were both so nice and friendly. But what if the years go by and one of them discovers that he or she has a dark side, a side they have never explored or expressed, harboring horrors that would chill the blood, demons that would tear away their sense of the First-place finisher Ramonet Julian and the “after work” comp route.

Jenny Lavarda falls from the onsight route.

world and what is right and normal, thrusting them into a world of blackness. I kept these thoughts to myself, and asked them about the scoring system in the bouldering final. T he highlight of the evening revolved around my favorite competitor, T omás “T he Machine” Mrazek. T omás, a burly C zech, had an old-school gnarl about him. H e looks like he works out in an abattoir and chews bones for crag snacks. At the comp he always puts in a good performance and you can see how hard he is trying. T he crowd loves him. As the evening wore on he joined the other competitors on the small dance floor while the DJ spoon-fed drunken youths a heady mix of 1980s power-rock and handbag cheese. T hey loved it, none more than T omás, looking drunk and happy in large measures—a little cheeky smile on his face that made me feel warm inside. A few of the youths had already stripped themselves to the waist and were dancing badly. A song, I can’t remember which, came on and T omás threw his fists in the air in pleasure. T hen, in drunken joy, he took off his competition vest, and threw it with abandon in a far corner of the room. David Bowie sung that he’s never done good things, he’s never done bad things. S ome actions are like this, neither good nor bad. H owever, Bowie also says he has never done anything out of the blue, oh-wow. But right there and then I decided that if T he Machine didn’t want his vest then I was going to have it as a souvenir. I scurried over to the far corner like a rat and snatched it. I took it outside and showed my friends. I was so proud. I put it on over the top of my flowery shirt to see how it felt. It was a bit tight but I liked the look, so kept it on. S o attired, the night wore on, and at one point I went in search of my S outh African friend T ony to show him my souvenir. T ony was standing with a downbeat Austrian and they were discussing something they had just seen.

“Did you see that? T he Machine just went nuts. H e was leaving and he went to look for his shirt and it was gone. T hen he went to look for his passport and wallet and they were gone, too. H e went crazy, started shouting, ‘I’ll kill somebody! I will kill them!’ and about how he has to walk home topless. O n his way out of the bar he punched the cigarette machine and knocked it over and disappeared.” “H is wallet, his passport and his shirt, all stolen,” said the Austrian. “O h, no, his shirt wasn’t stolen, I took it,” I explained in a good mood, tugging at the white vest in demonstration. T he Austrian looked at me in horror and T ony started to laugh. “It’s a memento,” I explained. “I’m a Machine fan.” T he Austrian insisted that I had done a very bad thing and that I should give him the shirt right away as he was camped beside T omás, but he came on a bit heavy so I said I would find the Machine and give it to him myself. T ony, finding the whole thing quite amusing, advised me I might not want to bump into T omás right now, and we had a great laugh at what would have happened to me if T omás, instead of seeing the cigarette machine, had seen me wearing his shirt. In the end I felt bad about the whole incident and gave the Austrian the shirt along with 50 euros dressed up as a sort of sponsorship/compensation type gesture for T omás for losing his wallet. In reality this was a bribe given in the hope that if T omás ever finds out who took the shirt and tracks me down in a dimly lit central E uropean alleyway on a wet winter night and gets all S pecial F orces on my ass, then perhaps the generosity will convince him, at least, to allow me a painless death. Niall Grimes is a Senior Contributing Editor for R ock and Ice. j a n u a r y 10 3 r o c k a n d i c e .c o m 61

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ge ar gu y CUSTOM GRIND I am going to pick up the dark art of mixed climbing—you know, rock climbing with ice tools—but I don’t know if I should reshape the picks on my tools to hook better on rock, or leave them alone. They cost $45 each and I don’t want to ruin them. Help! —Max B ier via Ho ho, welcome to the world of

FRUIT OF THE LOONS I’m a poor working s.o.b. and can’t spring $400 to $600 for a pair of sweet fruit boots. Can I make my own? —Jimmy A s t o r via Get your freak on! With a bit of craftiness, you can concoct your own fruit boots. I made a pair two seasons ago, and they rock. Here’s what you need, and how to do it. Get a super stiff pair of rock shoes or light mountain boots. I used the La Sportiva Ventor (pictured here), a discontinued (limited sizes available at mtntools. com) hybrid rock shoe with a hefty foam-cushioned heel, three Velcro straps and near boot-like stiffness under the front of the shoe. The rigidity is key: A soft shoe won’t hold a bolt-on crampon. The Ventor is ideal because of its stiff platform, mesh upper that dries quickly, velcro that lets you get them on and off in seconds, and a heel that works great for hooking. Next, buy a bolt-on crampon. The Black Diamond Raptor ($170) is a good one and the most readily available. Last, go to the hardware store and purchase pan-head allen bolts (plus nuts) that will fit through the crampon holes. Depending on the crampon and shoe, these will probably be 6 x 12 mm bolts. Be sure to use pan-head bolts. I used sockethead bolts and the bolt heads protrude. Sometimes the bolts feel like massage beads gently nuzzling on the bottoms of my feet ahh ..., but usually they feel like Chinese throwing stars. This season, when I replace my beat crampons, I am

switching to pan heads. Place the crampon on the shoe sole and align it the way you want for climbing. I prefer the front mono-point in line with my big toe, rather than centered. Once you have the crampon where you want it, mark each bolt hole with a pen. Drill out the marks, align the crampon and bolt it on. With the Ventor, you have to drill all the way through the shoe upper to accommodate the allen wrench. If your shoe opens down through the toe you might be able to insert the wrench without drilling holes in the upper. No big deal either way. I only attach the front crampon, preferring to leave the heel clean for hooking and resting on rock holds. Leaving off the heel crampon also keeps the shoes light and makes it less likely you’ll snag your clothes when figure-fouring. The downside to not having a heel crampon is that you could slip to your death while plodding up a snowy exit slope or kicking down the descent. The above process takes about an hour, and when you are done you will have spent around $270 or less if you already had the shoes or boots. Besides saving money, this homemade fruit boot has rockshoe-like performance. Disadvantages include zero insulation and less rigidity than a true boot. Minor points considering most modern mixed routes are short and largely (if not entirely) rock. For pure ice and long routes —where keeping your toes on your feet and not in a jar are a consideration—you will still need to nut up and buy factory fruit boots. Next!

the un-pumpable steel finger. Now you must decide just how dedicated you are, because the heavier you delve into it, the more it will lighten your wallet. I assume that you will be using mixed tools such as the Petzl Nomic or the Black Diamond Fusion and getting fruit boots. If these particulars are not in your plans, just continue hanging from leashes on drippy ice climbs. Trying to mixed climb with ice gear is

to mess with the picks your first season out. As you improve and advance through the grades, however, and start tackling trickier routes with shallow and/or sloping holds, you will want to file the front tooth into what resembles a modified cat’s claw, a shape that can better resist an outward pull. Make the modification by taking a round (chainsaw) file and notching the front tooth. The bigger the tooth and the finer its point, the better it will hook. But since you’re removing metal, you’re also shortening the pick’s life expectancy. I have two sets of picks, one stock and one modified. The stock picks I use on easier, workout routes and ice climbs; the modified picks I reserve for harder project attempts. Both picks must be kept stropping sharp. For this, get a mill bastard file (not to be confused with the mill a-hole file). Sharpen by

Trying to mixed climb with ice gear is like going to a samurai swordfight armed with a cake knife. like going to a samurai swordfight armed with a cake knife. To instill in you the sense of devotion required for mixed climbing, and the price you must be willing to pay, I put together a “Mixed Climbers’ Creed.” Memorize it. Say it! “These are my mixed tools. There are many like them, but these are mine. My mixed tools are my best friends. They are my life. I must learn to master my tools just as I must learn to master my life. Without me, my tools are worthless. Without my tools, I am worthless.” Now we can proceed. Stock drytooling picks have teeth on the underside, from front to back, and over the back portion of the topside for steinpulling purchase. You don’t need to change anything there. The issue is with the front tooth. The factory grind, which gives you one big angled tooth, is great for ice climbing and good for rock hooking. You probably don’t want

pushing the file forward only (files have forward-facing teeth, so only cut in that direction.) Bear down but go slowly, checking your progress and the angle of the cut after every few strokes. As you stroke by yourself in the cold, damp and dark cellar, take cheer by chanting: “These are my mixed tools ...” Gear Guy has spoken! n

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COLORADO MOUNTAIN SCHOOL 2829 Mapleton Ave Boulder, CO 80301 Phone: 800-836-4008 Fax 303-447-8356 AMGA Accredited Guide Service, AMGA Certified Guides, AIARE Instructors Rocky Mountain National Park • Eldorado Canyon • Flatirons • Vail • Alaska • Red Rocks, NV • Moab, UT • Mt. Rainier • Ecuador • Mexico • Peru • Argentina DOUG NIDEVER – THE MOUNTAIN GUIDE PO Box 446 June Lake, CA 93529 Phone: 760-648-7221 Fax: 760-648-7221 IFMGA, AMGA certified Sierra • Mt. Whitney • Palisades • Yosemtie • Lovers Leap • Mexico • Ecuador • Canada • Alps EXPLORADUS, LLC PROFESSIONAL MOUNTAIN GUIDES PO Box 4166 Jackson, WY 83001 Phone: 307-733-8812 Fax: 503-213-9861 Specializing in Custom Expeditions of Seven Summit Peaks as well as first Ascents around the world…. Exploring the world one adventure at a time EXUM MOUNTAIN GUIDES Box 56, Moose, WY 83012 Phone: 301-733-2297 Fax: 307-733-9613 AMGA Accredited Teton Range • Wind River Range • Bridger-Teton National Forest • Sinks Canyon • Wild Iris • city of Rocks (Idaho) • Needles (South Dakota) • Authorized National Park Concession

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JAGGED GLOBE The Foundry Studios 45 Mowbray St. Sheffield, UK S3 8EN Phone: 0845 345 8848 (from inside UK) +44 845 345 8848 (calling from outside the UK) Fax: +44 (0) 114 2755 740 Worldwide • Mt. Everest • Cho Oyu • Vinson • Ama Dablam • Carstensz MAHONEY MOUNTAIN ADVENTURES Kevin Mahoney 297 East Madison Road Madison, NH 03849 603-387-3879 IFMGA/UIAGM Guide New Hampshire • Wyoming • Alaska • International MOONEY MOUNTAIN GUIDES, LLC Art Mooney UIAGM, AMGA certified 638 Old Bristol Road New Hampton, NH 03256 603-744-5853 New Hampshire • Rumney • Cannon Cliff • Mount Washington • Red Rocks •Canada • Haute Route • Aconcagua • Bolivia • Mexico MOUNTAIN MADNESS 3018 SW Charlestown St Seattle, WA 98126 Phone: 800-328-5925 Fax: 206-937-1772 AMGA certified Worldwide expeditions • courses, trekking, and skiing MOUNTAIN TRIP P.O. Box 658 Ophir, CO 81426 866-886-TRIP (8747) f. 303-496-0998 Denali • Alaska • Aconcagua • Carstensz Pyramid • Colorado • Cho Oyu • Elbrus • Everest • Himalaya • Kilimanjaro • McKinley • San Juans • Seven Summits • USA • Worldwide • Vinson

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11/2/09 12:39:05 PM

ask dr .

by Dr. Julian Saunders

TITANIUM RODS AND GENITAL PIERCINGS I broke my leg bouldering and had a titanium rod installed. I have heard mixed reports about leaving the rod in, one problem being irritation by the screws. Can the rod increase the chance of the leg breaking in the same place under similar circumstances, since the bone cannot “weld” itself together on the inside? Also, can I go to Hueco in 12 weeks?  

Pet er A l l is o n Christchurch, New Zealand

I would say thanks for the video (and I have posted it on my web page, but it reminds me too much of when I had my own highball epiphany—hey, bones really break! Prosthetic titanium fixtures have been a gargantuan step forward in fracture management. Alignment is virtually guaranteed, and weight bearing and healing resume much more quickly. The fracture should be healed in a year or so. Though removing the rod is routine, this decision will rest with your orthopedic surgeon. And then you could get the titanium coldforged into a funky necklace or genital piercing. Although strength will be pretty good by the time Hueco comes around, you would be a brave soul coming off anything but the lowest of lowballs. My advice would be to go on the trip, but if your scrotum can’t drag on the gravel you’re too high. Literally, you cannot land on that leg until the rod is removed, and then some. You have been booby trapped with an in situ spear. In the event of a bad fall and landing

you can shear the locking screws and drive the rod either through your ankle or up into your knee. Badness, cabron! The biggest problem, short term, will not be the fracture site but rather the temporary lack of ankle mobility due to swelling and recent immobility. Simple things like heat and stretching will do wonders. For more detail check out the ankle stretching video on my web page.

SWOLLEN MEMBERS I’m 26 and for the past two years I have been unable to bend my fingers into a complete fist. I’ve started doing the finger stretches that you suggested [No. 173 or] as well as ice baths, but nothing seems to improve the range of motion. Outside of tenderness and mild soreness when I bend/ straighten my fingers it doesn’t affect my climbing. Is this something to worry about? What is causing it? Anything else I can do for therapy? 

dg f l r7 | Forum

Any loss of Range of motion is a tad concerning. In the absence of pain, it is likely to be one of a few scenarios. First, you may have some fluid accumulation in your fingers due to ongoing stress. Second, the connective tissues have, in the process of strengthening, thickened and now act like a cumulative wedge. Last, thickening around the joint capsule and collateral ligaments that stabilize the finger joints will lead to stiffening and produce the same effect. It is certainly common for climbers to experience swelling and stiffness in their fingers much like a sumo wrestler gets sore knees … because they get hammered. End-range pain usually suggests that the joint is simply under chronic strain. That it does not affect your climbing is awesome! Just keep in mind that loss of ROM is the first sign that the joint is undergoing changes as a result of the stress. The next station on your express train to world domination may be an unscheduled stop at Destruct-o-ville. I would not be too worried—

though I would do the stretches diligently and try to increase the ROM. Once you lose the accessory motions such as rotation and multiplanar sheering of the PIP and DIP joints, the pulley system will be under relatively greater loads at certain points and the chance of damage is on the upswing. If the joints become any more painful or swollen, see your physician. I doubt very much that it is an inflammatory arthritis, but I can’t see your fingers!

15 MINUTES OF FURY I have numbness and pins-and-needles in my left forearm. The first time it happened was last March while climbing in the Red, and it happened again this past June at Smith Rock. Both times I didn’t notice anything until I was finished with the route. When I got down, it felt like a big rubber band was being tightened from the tips of my fingers through

neurologist, this nerve-compression syndrome involves a small superficial sensory branch of the radial nerve as it passes between two muscles near your elbow (brachioradialis and extensor carpi radialis longus). Nerves carrying sensory fibers can be compressed around the elbow in other sites, but all will usually be accompanied by weakness when there is a sensory loss. Although there are other purely sensory nerves, their entrapment and your description don’t correlate well. Keep in mind that the nerve supply through the forearm and hand is a complete Charlie Foxtrot and, like hair distribution, tends to vary a little. It sounds like the nerve, at least while you are really pumped, is being squeezed harder than Fannie Mae. The “rubber band” tightness should be worse if you grip your thumb in a fist, turn your

Have a therapist brutalize your forearm to the point that plucking your bikini line with forceps would be more enjoyable. to the top of my elbow. My belayer squeezed my arm for about 15 minutes and the pain subsided, but the numbness and prickling won’t go away. If I run my thumb down my forearm I feel tingling on the underside and in my thumb. Any ideas? Rac h el | Bend, OR

That you are suffering a compromised radial nerve requires fewer brain cells than picking boogers. There are a few variations on this genre. Damage in your upper arm from a humeral fracture is the most common, but I suspect a broken wing would prohibit climbing in the Motherlode! Next in line is entrapment of a branch of the radial nerve called the posterior interosseus nerve. You haven’t mentioned loss of grip strength so this is also unlikely, albeit in the right area—your elbow. Though it sounds like something you would catch at the Berlin Love Parade, Wartenberg Syndrome is far less titillating. Named after an astute German

palm toward the ground and bend your wrist toward your little finger (De Quervain’s test). Your best bet is to have a therapist brutalize your forearm (especially from above the elbow on the outside and down toward your thumb) to the point that plucking your bikini line with forceps would be a more enjoyable pastime. Within reason, you can’t really do more damage than the nerve has already been subjected to. Try the brachioradialis stretch that is described in “Dodgy Elbows” [No. 156 or], but with your thumb tucked into your palm. It will hurt and, like so many others, you will curse me. Though it does not sound like a blood supply issue, it could be. Though it does not sound like a tumor … it could be. So if it does not settle reasonably quickly, go and see zee doktor. A nerve conduction study, blood flow ultrasound and MRI might be the order of the day. Along with a nice vino tinto. ■

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ask t h e c o ac h

by neil gresham  art by Bernardo gimenez

dration and give you the jitters) but I have found no better way of preparing myself for that final redpoint in the “conditions window” at the end of the day than a quick hit of caramel cappuccino. Again, this works well for me but others may wreck their chances by too much caffeine at the wrong time. Study and experiment. The tips above will help, but ultimately you must find a formula that works for you.

GET ON THE TRAIN How can I stay psyched? I bore easily and have been climbing in the same area for 10 years. Since I’m a new dad I can’t road trip often. Er ic P at r ic k | Austin, Texas Killian Fischuber has no trouble staying psyched, but declining motivation can affect anyone.

BEATING THE 4 P.M. FIZZLE Eating small meals helps keep my energy level up but I’m drained by 4 p.m., while large meals keep me satisfied but sluggish. What are some of the best foods to eat at the crag to feel energized throughout the day? Amy S ny d er | Blacksburg, Virginia

It is easy to be led astray by the hype surrounding the latest energy bar or drink, or to copy the strategy of a climber who cranks harder than you, but when it comes to nutrition at the crag there really is no better expert than yourself. For example, I have a high metabolism and need plenty of treats to get through a long day. In spite of what everyone knows about highs and lows from sugary foods, I simply can’t face a day without a few chocolate bars. However, this could be disastrous for some and I know plenty of climbers who have to stick religiously to the rules. If you crave sugary foods but respond badly to them, go for things like fruit or nuts. Generally, it is best if your intake of carbohydrates comes mainly from cereal bars, high-quality energy bars, nuts and foods that are low in simple sugars but high in complex carbs. Foods such as bread, rice or pasta, consumed in small quantities every hour or two, will provide a steady release of energy. Many people find

that white bread and pasta can make them feel bloated and sluggish and most understand this to be caused by the high glycemic index [See “G. I. Yo!” No. 167 for an explanation of glycemic index] associated with foods that are high in refined flour. Go for whole-grain products, or rice, which has a lower overall GI. Though you are doing the right thing by snacking rather than eating a large meal in the middle of the day, I suspect that an intake of high GI foods could be responsible for your 4 p.m. fizzle. That said, another likely cause could be partial dehydration. Few of us consume sufficient water at the crag and it is vital to sip at regular intervals. If you use energy drinks, go for the products that offer only complex sugars, or better, try recovery drinks that consist of a mix of protein and carbohydrates. Most of the information on sports nutrition is geared for activities where you need to sustain intense bursts of energy for no more than an hour or two. Crag climbing is fundamentally different in that you need to maintain a steady level for an entire day, with a few short bursts when you’re on the rock. A key, related issue (for me at least) is the intake of caffeine. We are told just to have one or two small cups of coffee at the start of the day (too much caffeine can cause dehy-

Forgive me, but at first I threw

this question out of court. Surely it is a coach’s task to help people who are psyched. If you can’t be bothered to get to the crag or the wall, then it’s one less person taking up my parking space or greasing the holds. But as I clicked delete and

on a 5.11c with 10 minutes rest. Or cranking four V5s in one session. Vary your sessions. A bit of training structure adds spice and direction. For example, for endurance, rather than doing single routes, try going up, down climb, then go back up. Or do “double sets,” where you lower off and then climb again straight away. Or, better still, try using the bouldering wall for circuits (long, easy boulder problems that are sustained with no rests or cruxes). Use an interval structure to guide you (e.g.: a 20 move problem x 10 repetitions with 8 minutes rest, or 30 moves x 8 with 10 minutes rest or 40 moves x 6 with 12 minutes rest). For power, try some system or finger boarding, and/or bar exercises and floor exercises for body tension. Don’t forget to stretch on the mats while resting between attempts. This way you will always have something to focus on rather than staring around and thinking, “What next?” Vary your climbing. I appreciate

In spite of what everyone knows about highs and lows from sugary foods, I simply can’t face a day without a few chocolate bars. moved onto the next question I found myself feeling guilty. I am permanently psyched for climbing, but it doesn’t mean that others are as fortunate. Perhaps it is part of a coach’s job to examine motivation and attempt to pass it on. So what drives me forward at times when my training is going backwards? It is blissfully simple, really. I can’t think of anything better or more meaningful in life than climbing, I simply can’t! If I surrender and hit the couch I feel like a loser, but worse, bored. To me, it is incomprehensible that you could feel bored while climbing, and if this is the case then you need to do as follows: Set some goals. Write them down. Training without goals is like coffee without caffeine—pointless. Your goals should be long term and crag-related, such as sending your first 5.12a next season, and also short and mid-term and training related, such as performing 10 laps

that your local cliff won’t change, but contrive some challenges for yourself. Can you redpoint all the routes in one sector in a day? How many pitches can you complete? How long can you stay on the rock? Eliminates can be useful as they effectively create new problems. Can you do the classic V3 at your home bouldering area without the biggest hold? Long term you need road trips. I realize also that this is tough if you have children or an all-consuming job, but even if you only have a week or two away a year, train for this break. For those less affected by outside pressures who still find it tough to get psyched, the key is to switch styles from sport, to trad, to bouldering and perhaps even ice. If you’re stagnating, try something new. Neil Gresham is one of Britain’s best-known all-round climbers. His website is:

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$79.95 | | ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ TRUE INNOVATION—COMING UP WITH AN entirely new idea and not just tweaking an existing concept—is as precious as discovering a diamond in your pocket. The Ortik Heat It is such a find. Made of fireproof fabric and rigged with cables, the Heat It converts just about any canister stove into a hanging stove, and improves stove performance and safety. To attach the Heat It, simply place the burner inside the fabric housing and the gas canister on the outside. Screw the two together through the opening in the base of the Heat It and you are set to jet. I tested the Heat It with a Brunton Raptor stove and an eight-ounce canister of MSR Isopro fuel, at 7,500 feet with an air temperature of 28 degrees F. The insulation of the Heat It improved boil efficiency by 15 percent. In colder temperatures where the Heat It’s encapsulation and insulation become more of a factor, you can expect a 40-percent-orbetter improvement, according to Ortik. The Heat It is one of the best pieces of new gear I’ve used in recent memory. It is lightweight (6.4 ounces), folds flat as a Frisbee and works wonders. Because the Heat It encases the burner, it is a highfunctioning windscreen that works so well, in fact, that it can snuff off the oxygen supply if you use the Heat It with a large pot, crank the stove to max volume, and pull the Heat It’s top drawcord taut. Ortik recommends using the stove at a low setting; I’ll add that you should keep the drawcord slacked off. It takes about 30 seconds of fiddling to figure these things out. Other benefits: The Heat It’s fireproof fabric helps protect you from burns (I cup my hands around it and use it as a hand warmer, in fact) and keeps food and brews hot longer when the stove is off. I recommend the Heat It for big wallers craving hot chow, as well as alpine climbers and mountaineers looking to solve the age-old problems of increasing stove performance in cold weather and wind, and minimizing stove danger when you are forced to cook in your tent’s vestibule. Then again, the Heat It is just as good for plain old camping—it works as well sitting on the ground, and on top of that, it functions as a stuff sack for your sooty pot. —Duane Raleigh  Converts canister stove to hanging stove.  Fireproof fabric boosts stove performance and safety.  Excellent windscreen.  Lightweight and compact.  Ideal for big walls, alpine climbing and expeditions.

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$59 | | ★ ★ ★ ★½ LAST YEAR, THE FIRST DECEMBER storm dropped a couple of feet of snow in one fell swoop. A shroud of ice and powder draped the trees, trails and cliffs. My rope and draws hung like icicles, tinkling in the stiff wind three pitches up the Redstein, a 700-foot local crag. The only way to get to my gear involved hiking a precipitous gully, picking my way across a sloping ledge, and scrambling up an easy ramp. I put on warm clothes and set off one Saturday, packing an extra rope, an ice axe and a secret weapon— Kahtoola’s MicroSpikes. Billed as a “traction system” these suckers are actually an economical, lightweight crampon that will literally fit in your pocket. Perfect for approaches where the ground varies from snowy/icy to bare, the MicroSpikes easily slip on and off. Since they have no buckles and don’t require a boot with a welt, they work on any shoe. I did notice that they sometimes shifted on very steep terrain, but alleviated the problem when I downsized to a smaller pair. If you’re planning on using these for steep approaches, consider sizing them tight, or packing crampons. Obviously, the MicroSpikes are useful anywhere that you need a little extra traction, but in some cases, such as my adventure on the Redstein, they make otherwise odious winter chores a breeze. —Jeff Jackson

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I LIKE MANY THINGS TO BE KINKY, but my climbing rope isn’t one of them. The twists, twirls, snags and snafus of a kinky cord are maddening skeins in my ability to give a good belay and not hose my partner when he or she calls for slack. The Mammut rope factory in Switzerland has invested in a new ropepackaging machine that coils ropes in a butterfly coil, so that climbers need not bother to undo the dreaded—and until now, standard— “manufacturer’s coil.” This new technology may seem like a conciliatory and perhaps superfluous gesture, but in fact it appears to have solved a long-standing problem with most ropes, and one of my biggest gripes (and arguably a safety issue): the kink factor. I’ve seen belayers lose control of ropes while lowering their partners when errant kinks cause their brake hands’ grip to fumble. We’re supposed to flake the manufacturer’s coil “in a hand-over-hand motion”—a vague instruction at best. For example, I’ve uncoiled some cords in this manner that have been fine and kink-free. Other times, my ropes have remained stubbornly frozen in a state of kinkiness—and in these instances, I’ve never been clear whether I had done something wrong, or the manufacturer had simply produced a bad cord. I received a 70-meter Mammut Tusk (9.8 mm) in the mail one sunny afternoon, and was so excited that I started humping the box before the eyes of my disgusted co-workers; then I cradled the rope in one arm like a football, and moonwalked out the door, hopped in my car, and got myself to the nearest crag to try my new baby out. I opened the package, threw the rope down on a tarp, and flaked it out of habit. As I relished the waxy texture of a brand new rope gliding through my hands, I was pleasantly surprised to encounter not a single kink—a welcome attribute that hasn’t changed to this day, months later. In fact, I can safely say that this is the least kinky cord I’ve used. The Tusk has been a consistent and steady performer. Its 9.8 mm diameter is about as thin as I’m comfortable with for all of my falling and hang-dogging. The rope’s medium rigidity makes it just average at clipping to carabiners; yet also seems to yield a fluffy-soft catch. —Andrew Bisharat

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 Lap Coiling rope-packaging machine means no factory kinks in cord. SuperDry treatment: A coating to both sheath and core, this gives a smooth feed and added protection. A bit slippery at first.  Comes in two colors: yellow and lime green. The yellow one, which I tested, seems to pick up a lot of dirt and now looks black. 9.8 mm. A good combination of lightness (63 g/m) and durability (6-7 UIAA falls). The speed that the sheath has frayed from normal wear has been just average.  Recommended uses: sport climbing, trad climbing, alpine rock climbing. 74 R O C K A N D I C E .CO M  10 J A N U A R Y

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Progression | | $29.95 for DVD (with 1+ hour of extras) $19.95 for HD download (no extras) | ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


sees it, is it progress? Progression, the awesome new offering from Big Up, implicitly answers no. With 1.5 hours of rip-roaring footage, Progression departs from the episodically erratic Dosage series by adopting a theme, infusing the fi lm with greater coherence. Progression is Big Up’s most compelling—if selective—vision of what lies ahead. Occasionally Progression drifts into conceit, but for the most part it captures the inventiveness that climbers are bringing to the cutting edge. We see the future of sport climbing moving toward big, bold routes like Jumbo Love (5.15b). Patxi Usobiaga’s punishing self-discipline and rapacious quest to win World Cups is a glimpse at how future

Early Days in the Range of Light: Encounters with Legendary Mountaineers

by Daniel Arnold | $28 | ★ ★ ★ AMID LAMPLESS black

competitors will need to train. And Tommy Caldwell shows us the raw bouldering power needed to unlock future El Cap free climbs. What struck me is how the direction climbing takes and the speed at which it moves are intrinsically linked to the media that portrays them. It makes you wonder: How much different would climbing be today had Big Up been around in the 1970s to document, say, Jim Holloway on his then unsung V12s? The steadily tracking shot of the young Adam Ondra chugging up the headwall of Papichulo (5.15a) is one of the most beautiful and inspiring pieces of footage I’ve ever seen, immortalizing this climb and climber. Through these powerful and affecting vicarious experiences, Progression inherently suggests that the way today’s routes are portrayed is just as important to climbing’s progress as the climbers themselves. —Andrew Bisharat

Everest is Hollow

By Indigo Jones | $16.95 | ★ ★ THE NOTION IS A charmer:

A teenage archeologist searching for his missing parents winds up falling down a tunnel into Everest, and finds that the mountain contains the vestages of an ancient civilization. I wanted to like this adventure novel for teens that donates its proceeds to Doctors Without Borders. But the action proceeds with comicstrip haste untroubled by depth as the American lad known as Trouble proceeds up the mountain with his Nepali friends, the cautious Nuru and the break-dancing, inquisitive Tattoo. The climbing scenes are painful. The youths collect their equipment from Russian remnants long ago frozen in a crevasse, and make particular use of rocket-fired climbing anchors. When Trouble and Tattoo, roped, fall over a roof, Nuru feels he is forced to save himself and reaches for his “release lever.” Marketplace and village scenes offer a modicum of culture, though; and in the idea that people can save lives by reading books, the publisher has a great theme.

K2: Life and Death on the World’s Most Dangerous Mountain

Ed Viesturs with David Roberts | $26 | ★ ★ ★ IN WHICH THE PRUDENT

nights while seeking and prolific Ed Viesturs white, lifeless sumoffers up (again) his take mits, Daniel Arnold on his own ascent of K2, has flung color into as well as six other expedithe stories of Calitions, all of which have been fornia’s early mounchronicled previously in taineers by following the annals of big-mountain in their footsteps up literature. Viesturs provides some of the most meta-commentary not only remote peaks in the on these earlier expeditions, but the judgments Sierra Nevada. of their chroniclers, as if to have the last word on Leaving behind his sleeping bag and headthe subject. We should be so lucky. lamp, Arnold wanders to a place that seems Viesturs (and Roberts) tell the story in a more real and foreboding than in previous candid, straightforward style that occasionally histories thanks to fresh descriptions of veers into strong opinions, the effect of which is cliffs, rocks and even handholds that have not unlike hearing a much-repeated slide-show changed little in 140 years. narration followed by beers with the speaker. As When focused on those early adventures— was once written of The Grateful Dead Movie, Bolton Brown lassoing his way up Mount King you already know if you’re going to like this or John Muir stuck spread-eagled on the side stuff. Avid armchair mountaineers will likely of Mount Ritter, for example—the stories work. find enough cud to chew on here to satisfy their Arnold’s own adventures, however, fall short, as thin-air joneses until the next dispatch from sometimes preachy and often self-indulgent. the current World’s Most Dangerous Mountain The book overall is accessible and wellhits the shelves. Others will keep browsing. ordered. Arnold takes readers from the first —Alison Osius —Rob Dillon accurate measurements of {MY FAVORITE BOOK} Shasta and Yosemite Falls in a half-lawless state with Rock Jocks, Wall Rats and Hang Dogs | By John Long little published knowledge JOHN LONG, ONE OF THE ORIGINAL Stonemasters and legend in Bird (Jim Bridwell) was running his band of geography to the basic the climbing world, captures the true spirit of the climbing life. At of strongmen into the dirt as they worked points you find yourself gazing 2,000 feet down from the sweeping their way through the classics and then rope systems used to climb granite face of El Capitan, praying that the string of sketchy pins on to making history. Long also gives you Thunderbolt Peak in 1931. and widgets that you have placed over the past five hours won’t fail; a glimpse of the time when sport climbBrief insights into mounthen you are looking into the very mind of a climber hanging on for ing (what used to be called “clip and go tain spirit, endurance and his life on a serious free solo amid a cacophony of internal voices. routes”) and comps first emerged. Long’s book takes you back to an era when camping in YoseHe brings insight into what it is like to be a part of history, to even love make Early Days mite’s Camp 4 was free and the climbers were actually left alone be completely wrapped up within your passion, and then to see it a fitting tribute. —Josh McCoy

while exploring the Valley’s vast potential. An era when The

shift and fade from your life.

—Heidi Wirtz

76 R O C K A N D I C E .CO M  10 J A N UA R Y

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UPCOMING TRIPS ROCK: Sierra, Joshua Tree, Red Rock, Squamish, Bugaboos, Leavenworth, Alps ALPINE ICE: French & Swiss Alps, Sierra, North Cascades, Alaska, BC Coast Range HIGH ALTITUDE ASCENTS Bolivia, Peru, Alaska, Nepal, China, Ecuador, 7 Summits INSTRUCTIONAL: Denali Prep, Alpine Mountaineering & Technical Leadership, Intro to Mountaineering



Statement of Ownership, Management and Circulation: 1. Publication Title: Rock & Ice; 2. Publication Number: 0885-5722; 3. Filing Date: 10/12/09; 4. Issue Frequency: Every 6 weeks, Jan., March, April, June, July, Sept., Oct., Dec.: 5. Number of Issues Published Annually: 8; 6. Annual Subscription Price: $29.95; 7. Complete Mailing Address of Known Office of Publication: 417 Main St Unit N, Carbondale, CO 81623; 8. Complete Mailing Address of General Businss Office of Publisher: 417 Main St Unit N, Carbondale, CO 81623; 9. Full Name and Complete Address of Publisher and Editor: Publisher: Duane Raleigh, 417 Main St Unit N, Carbondale, CO 81623; Editor: Duane Raleigh, 417 Main St Unit N, Carbondale, CO 81623; 10. Owner (If owned by a corporation, give the name and address of the corporation immediately followed by the names and addresses of all stockholders owning or holding 1 percent or more to the total amount of stock. If not owned by a corporation, give the names and addresses of the individual owners. If owned by a partnership of other unincorporated firm, give its name and address as well as those of each individual owner. If the publication is published by a nonprofit organization, give its name and address.): Big Stone Publishing, 417 Main St Unit N, Carbondale, CO 81623; Duane Raleigh, 622 Redstone Blvd., Redstone CO 81623; Quent Williams, 875 Vista Hi Dr., Carbondale, CO 81623; Michael Janney, 28635 La Saragosa, Laguna Niguel, CA 92667; Michael Benge & Alison Osius, 909 County Rd 107, Carbondale, CO 81623; 11: Know bondholders, mortgagees and other security holders owning or holding 1% or more of the total amount of bonds, mortgages or other securities: None; 13. Publication Title: Rock & Ice; 14. Issue Date for Circulation Data Below: January 10 issue #182 (on sale Oct 15, 2009); 15. Extent and Nature of Circulation: a. Total Copies (net press run): 36,688* 37,500**; b1. Paid/Requested Outside-County Mail Subscriptions from Form 3541: 14,191* 19,847**; b3. Sales through Dealers, Carriers, Street Vendors and Counter Sales: 9,547* 9,650**; b4. Other Classes Mailed through the USPS: 55* 50**; c. Total Paid and/or Requested Circulations: 23,793* 29,547**; d. Free Distribution by Mail: d1. Free Distribution Mailed Through the USPS: 257* 261**; e. Free Distribution Outside of Mail: 728* 532**; f. Total Free Distribution: 985* 793**; g. Total Distribution: 24,778* 30,340**; h. Copies Not Distributed: 11,910* 7,160**; I. Total: 36,688* 37,500**; Percent Paid and/or Requested Circulation: 96%* 97%**; I certify that all information furnished above on this form is true and complete. I understand that anyone who furnishes false or misleading information on this form or who omits material or information requested on the form may be subject to criminal sanctions (including fines and imprisonment) and/or civil actions (including civil penalties.) Duane Raleigh, Publisher 10/12/09. *Average No. of Copies Each Issue During Preceeding 12 Months. **Actual No. of Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date. TOTAL DISTRIBUTION 2009 Average Dec ‘09 #182 Rock & Ice Print Run 36,688 37,500 Distribution Print 24,778 30,340 Digital Distribution 404 425 Total Distribution 25,182 30,765

WORLD WIDE FIND A CERTIFIED GUIDE! Easily search, review profiles, and link directly to certified guides for your desired destination, worldwide. We help you locate many guides to choose from, for your next dream climb. The Mountain Guide Bureau’s world-wide directory.

UNITED STATES RHINO GUIDES. Jim Shimberg. Guiding since 1986 in NH and worldwide. 603-726-3030 or Rock Barn 603-520-5696 GUIDE SERVICE FOR SALE. Oregon Peak Adventures LLC, based in Portland, Oregon, provides rock and alpine climbing and instruction, backpacking, hiking, winter sports, outdoors skills training, and international expeditions. OPA holds operating permits in Oregon and Washington National Forests and State Parks, and Crater Lake. Contact joe@ or 877 9655100.


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Published By STACKPOLE BOOKS By Duane Raleigh Instructions for tying 19 fundamental climbing knots and 16 additional variations and using these knots safely and effectively. Each knot is carefully illustrated and its primary and secondary uses are described. Retail Value $895

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Edmonton. VERTICALLY INCLINED ROCK GYM. 780-496-9390; www. Newmarket, ON. OF ROCK & CHALK CLIMBING. Climate controlled. Open 7 days. 905-895-ROCK; 888248-7625; Toronto, ON. JOE ROCKHEAD’ S CLIMBING GYM. “eating glazed donut bracelets off the right arm of Jesus”. 29 Fraser Ave., Toronto, Ontario M6K 1Y7; 416-5387670; Toronto, ON. THE ROCK OASIS. 27 Bathurst Street, Toronto: 15,000 sq. ft., 60’ high plus bouldering; 416-703-3434; Ajax Community Center: 3,000 sq. ft., 25’ high plus bouldering: 905-231-3434: www.


ARIZONA Flagstaff. VERTICAL R E LIE F CLIM B ING CENTER. Awesome indoor walls, guiding and instruction, gear shop, S.W. guidebooks, showers. 928-556-9909; Scottsdale. AZ ON THE ROCKS. State of the art, approx. 14,000 square feet, fully air-conditioned, lead climbing, fitness equipment, yoga, showers. 480-502-9777; Tempe. PHOENIX ROCK GYM. 480-921-8322;


CALIFORNIA Anaheim Hills. ROCK CITY CLIMBING CENTER. 714-777-4884; www. El Cerrito (Berkeley/ East B a y) . BRIDGES ROCK GYM. Extraordinary bouldering, stellar cave, 18ft top-out boulders, slackline arena, yoga, fitness, childcare, & organic café. (510) 525-5635, Napa. ROCKZILLA. 707-255-1500; Riverside. HANGAR 18. 12,000+ sq. ft. of climbing, 20-fit high top-out bouldering, both lead & toprope routes. (951) 359-5040; www.

San Diego. SOLIDROCK GYM. Three locations- DOWNTOWN, POWAY, and SAN MARCOS. 30 foot walls, 35-45+ ropes. Hundreds of clearly marked, frequently changed, expertly set routes. Toproping, bouldering and lead climbing. www.solidrockgym. com; 619-299-1124 San Diego. VERTICAL HOLD SPORT CLIMBING CENTER, INC. The largest in Southern California. Over 20,000 square feet of superbly textured climbing surface. Colossal 40 foot lead cave, 200+ toprope/lead routes, 2 awesome bouldering areas. 9580 Distribution Ave., San Diego, CA 92121; 858586-7572; S a n Fr a n c isc o . PLANET GRANITE. 25,000 sq. ft. of indoor climbing, yoga & fitness. 45ft high walls. Cracks, off-widths and lots of steep terrain. TONS of bouldering with top-out boulder! Full fitness center, two yoga studios, pro shop, views of the bay and GG Bridge! 924 Mason St, San Francisco, CA 94129; www. San Mateo. PLANET GR ANITE . 20,000 square feet, 50 foot high cracks! Extensive weights & fitness, yoga, proshop; 100 El Camino Real, Belmont, CA 94002; 650-591-3030; Santa Cruz. PACIFIC EDGE.Indoor climbing at its fi nest! 104 Bronson St., Santa Cruz, CA 95062; 831-454-9254; Santa Rosa. VERTEX CLIMBING CENTER. 707-573-1608; www. Sunnyvale. PLANET GR ANITE . 25,000 sqft of indoor & outdoor climbing. 60 ft high. Cracks, chimneys, offwidths and lots of steep climbing. HUGE bouldering area. Extensive weights & fitness, yoga & spinning, pro-shop. 815 Stewart Drive, Sunnyvale, CA 94085; (408) 991 - 9090; Thousand Oaks. BOULDERDASH INDOOR ROCK CLIMBING. 805557-1300, Upland. HANGAR 18. 10,000+ sq. ft. climbing terrain, massive bouldering section, 70-ft long routes, two top-rope areas. 909-9315991; Victorville. THE BULLET HOLE TRAINING CENTER. The high desert’s only indoor climbing gym! 15315 Cholame Road, Unit D, Victorville, CA 92392; 760-245-3307

COLORADO Boulder. THE SPOT BOULDERING GYM. 303-379-8806; www.

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

Boulder. BOULDER ROCK CLUB. 800-836-4008; w w w.tot a l

Kennesaw. ESCALADE ROCK CLIMBING GYM 770-794-1575;

Colorado Springs. SPORT CLIMBING CENTER. 719260-1050;

Metro Atlanta. ADRENALINE CLIMBING. 770-271-1390; www.

Denver. THRILLSEEKERS. 300 Ft.

MEGA bouldering traverse, 5 lead arches. 38 topropes, 12,000 sq. ft. of climbing surface. 303-733-8810, Fort Collins. INNER STRENGTH ROCK GYM. 970-282-8118; www. Glenwood Springs. COLORADO MOUNTAIN COLLEGE, Spring Valley Center Climbing Gym. Boudering area and top rope wall. 970947-8237 Thornton, Centennial. ROCK’N & JAM’N. Tallest, steepest, indoor climbing gyms in Colorado. Spacious locker rooms, dust-free, airconditioned enviroment. Two locations to serve you. North Denver at Washington St. Thorton 80229 and South Denver at 7390 Fraser St. Centennial 80112.


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. VERTICAL ENDEAVORS. 18,000ft2 of climbing on 40 ft walls. 19 Auto Belays. Programs and outdoor guiding for all ages. 630-836-0122; www. Chicago. LAKE VIEW ATHLETIC CLUB. 773-529-2024;

Chicago. LINCOLN PARK ATHLETIC CLUB. 773-529-2022; www.

Manchester. STONE AGE ROCK GYM. 860-645-0015;

Crystal Lake. NORTH WALL . 815-356-6855;

Wallingford. PRIME CLIMB. Connecticut’s OLDEST and BEST 203265-7880;

Evanston. EVANSTON ATHLETIC CLUB. 847-866-6190;

DELAWARE Bear. THE DELAWARE ROCK GYM 520 Carson Dr. Bear, DE 19701;

Homewood. CLIMB ON. 18120 Harwood Ave, Homewood, IL 60430; 708-798-9994; www.



Miami. X-TREME ROCK CLIMBING. Florida’s premier climbing facility. 12,000+ square feet . 13972 SW 139 Court, 33186; 305-233-6623;

Evansville. VERTICAL EXCAPE. 812-479 - 6887;

Tampa. VERTICAL VENTURES. 813-884-7625.

Louisville. ROCKSPORT-LOUISVILLE. 502-266-5833;



Atlanta. ATL ANTA ROCKS! INTOWN. The largest gym in the Southeast offers challenging climbing on 12,000 square feet of seamless, textured climbing surface, featuring multi-tiered, wildly overhanging ledges on terrain so realistic, it seems like real rock. Lead routes up to 85 linear feet 50 topropes, bouldering features, aerobic and weight training equipment, computerized rotating climbing wall, locker rooms and showers. Group rates, daily instruction, equipment sales and rentals. 1019 Collier Road, Atlanta, GA 30318; 404-351-3009; www.




Columbia, Timonium & Rockville. EARTH TREKS CLIMBING CENTERS. State-of-the-art Climbing Gyms, among the largest in the country, with the best bouldering in the area. Three facilities within 25 minutes of Baltimore and Washington, DC: 800-Climb-UP,

MASSACHUSSETTS Boston. ROCK SPOT CLIMBING. 67 Sprague St., Boston MA 02136,

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Worcester. CENTRAL ROCK CLIMBING GYM. 508-852-7625;

NEW JERSEY Randolph. RANDOLPH CLIMBING CENTER. 973-598-8555; Upper Saddle River. THE GRAVITY VAULT. 13,000 square feet of the best indoor climbing in New Jersey. 201-934-7625.



Byron Center. INSIDE MOVES. 616281-7088;

Albuquerque. STONE AGE CLIMBING GYM. NM’s largest! Topout bouldering, two lead caves, guiding, complete climbing shop. 505-341-2016; www.

Grand Rapids. HIGHER GROUND ROCK CLIMBING CENTRE, LTD. 820 Monroe NW #18, Grand Rapids, MI 49503; 616-774-3100; Kalamazoo. CLIMB KALAMAZOO., 269-385-9891 Pontiac/Ann Arbor PLAN-

ET ROCK CLIMBING GYM. 34 Rapid St. Pontiac, MI; 248-334-3904 82 April Dr. Ann Arbor, MI; 734827-2680.


St. Paul / Duluth. VERTICAL ENDEAVORS. The Twin Cities facility (651-776-1430) offers 18,200ft2 of climbing while Duluth (218-2799980) offers 14,000sf on walls up to 42’tall. Auto Belays. Programs and outdoor guiding for all ages.

MISSOURI St. Louis. UPPER LIMITS. 10,000 sq. ft2. Auto belays, Bouldering, 35 feet high. Just off I-64/40, behind Union Station. Free parking. 314-241-ROCK (7625);

MONTANA Billings. STEEP WORLD. Your comprehensive climbing center! Gym/ Shop; 208 N 13th. Billings, MT; 406-25-CLIMB; www.


Santa Fe. SANTA FE CLIMBING CENTER. 825 Early St Ste A, Santa Fe, NM. 87505;

NEW YORK Albany. ALBANY’S INDOOR ROCK GYM. Over 6,000 square feet of climbing. Labyrinth system. 4C Vatrano Road, Albany, New York; 518-459-7625; www.

OKLAHOMA Oklahoma City. ROCKTOWN CLIMBING GYM. www.rocktowngym. com; (405) 319-1400

OREGON Bend. INCLIMB ROCK GYM. 541388-6764;; Klamath Falls. THE YETI’S LAIR. 541-882-5586; Portland. PORTLAND ROCK GYM. 503-232-8310; Tigard. CLUBSPORT ADVENTURE CENTER. oregon; 503-968-4535

PENNSYLVANIA D oylestown . DOY LE STOWN ROCK GYM. 215-230-9085. www. Philadelphia. GO VERTICAL INC. 215-928-1800; Pittsburgh. THE CLIMBING WALL at the factory. 14,500 square feet. 7501 Penn Ave., 15208;; 412-247-7334

New Rochelle. THE ROCK CLUB. 914-633-ROCK, New York. THE SPORTS CENTER AT CHELSEA PIERS. 212-3366000; Valhalla. THE CLIFFS AT VALHALLA. 914-328-ROCK. www.

NORTH CAROLINA Asheville. CLIMBMAX CLIMBING CENTER & GUIDE SERVICE. 828252-9996; Charlotte. INNER PEAKS CLIMBING CENTER. 9535 Monroe Rd., Ste. 170, Charlotte, NC 28270; 704844-6677; Greensboro . TH E U LTIMTE CLIMBING GYM @ TUMBLEBEES. 6904 Downwind Rd, Greensboro, NC, 27409; 336-665-0662. Fayetteville. THE CLIMBING PLACE. www.theclimbingplace. com, (910) 486-9638

Las Vegas. RED ROCK CLIMBING CENTER & MOUNTAIN GUIDES. 8201 W. Charleston Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89117; SHOWERS! (702) 254-5604;

Morrisville. TRIANGLE ROCK CLUB. 919-463-7625 (ROCK);

Reno. ROCK SPORT NEVADA. 775-352-7673,

Cincinnati. ROCKQUEST CLIMBING CENTER. 513-733- 0123;


Carrollton. EXPOSURE ROCK CLIMBING GYM. 972-732-0307; Houston. STONEMOVES. 281-3970830; Houston. TEXAS ROCK GYM. 713973-7625,



N ewbur ypor t. M E TRO ROCK NORTH. 40 Parker Street, Newburyport, MA 01950;

Plymouth. ROCK BARN. 603-5205696;

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


VIRGINIA Alexandria. SPORTROCK. 703212-ROCK (7625); Midlothian. PEAK EXPERIENCES. 804-897-6800; Sterling. SPORTROCK. 571-434ROCK (7625); Virginia Beach. VIRGINIA BEACH ROCK GYM. 5049 Southern Blvd., Virginia Beach, VA 23462;;; 757-499-8347

WASHINGTON Oaks. PHILADELPHIA ROCK GYM. Oaks, PA; 610-666-ROPE. Exton. PRG CLIMBING CENTER. Valley Township, PA; 877-822ROPE; Base Camp for All Your Climbing Adventures! 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 AUTHORIT Y. Indoor climbing, instruction, guiding and fraternizing. 423822-6800 Franklin. THE CRAG AT COOL SPRINGS. 615-661-9444; www.


Austin. AUSTIN ROCK GYM. 512-4169299;

Seattle. STONE GARDENS. Big & friendly, Tons of bouldering. Lots of TR & lead too. 2839 NW Market St., Seattle; 206-781-9828; Seattle/Redmond/Bremerton/Everett/Tacoma VERTICAL WORLD. America’s fi rst indoor climbing gym. Fun routes, friendly service and professional instruction since 1987. Four gyms for the price of one! Seattle 206-283-4497; Redmond 425-881-8826; Bremerton 360-373-6676; Everett 425-2583431; Tacoma 253-683-4719; Tacoma. EDGEWORKS CLIMBING. 6102 North 9th St. Tacoma, WA 98406;

WISCONSIN Brookfield/Pewaukee. ADVENTURE ROCK. 21250 W. Capital Dr. Pewaukee, WI 53072; 262-7906800; www.adventure Madison. BOULDERS CLIMBING GYM. 3964 Commercial Ave.w Madison, WI 53714;

Get the exposure you deserve! Call 877.762.5423 x17

J A N U A R Y 10  R O C K A N D I C E .CO M 7 9

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Yosemite Big Walls is the most current, detailed, and accurate guide to Yosemite`s most classic walls. Yosemite Big Walls covers the 41 best big wall routes on El Capitan, Half Dome, and Washington Column all of which were personally climbed and documented by author Chris McNamara.

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Lake Tahoe is becoming California`s largest summer bouldering area. There are more than 35 areas with more than 1,400 problems and new challenges are discovered every week. It is all here, it is all year round, and even this book, offering the most complete coverage yet on the subject, can only whet your appetite.

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South Lake Tahoe offers exquisite year-round climbing for every ability and taste. Trad climbers can jam smooth Yosemite-like cracks at Sugarloaf or Eagle Lake, pull on steep knobs at Phantom Spires, or lead their first multi-pitch route at Lover`s Leap. Sport climbers can clip bolts at Luther Rock, Luther Spires and Mayhem Cove.

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svotruba @ 877.762.5423 x 23

HIGH COUNTRY OUTFITTERS; (404) 814-0999; Toll Free 888-6883485; 3906 Roswell Rd; Atlanta GA 30342; Outfi tting since 1975.

MARMOT MOUNTAIN WORKS; info@; 800-MARMOT-9 (627-6689); 3049 Adeline St. Berkeley, CA 94703 MOUNTAIN GEAR;; 800-829-2009; F 509-325-3030; 6021 E Mansfield, Spokane Valley, WA 99212 MOUNTAIN TOOLS; 800-5.10-2-5.14; 831-620-0911; F 831-620-0977; PO Box 222295, Carmel, CA 93922 NORTHERN LIGHTS TRADING CO. 406-586-2225; 866-586-2225 1716 W. Babcock, Bozeman, MT 59715; Climbing, Skiing, Backpacking, Boating NORTHERN MOUNTAIN SUPPLY; mtn@; 800-878-3583; F 707-445-078125; W. Fifth St. Eureka, CA 95501 ROCK CLIMBING TOOLS; russ@; 19415 Rona Ln. #C; Anderson CA 96007; 530.378.0950 ROCK/CREEK; 888-707-6708; 301 Manufacturers Road, Chattanooga, TN 37405, Free Shipping over $49 SIERRA TRADING POST;; 800-713-4534; F 800-378-8946; 5025 Campstool Road; Cheyenne WY 82007

GEAREXPRESS, INC; staffgx@; 888-580-5510; F 801-968-7441; 2702 S 3600 W, West Valley, UT 84119; Free shipping over $5

SUMMIT HUT;; 800-4998696; 5045 E. Speedway, Tucson, AZ 85712

HERMIT’S HUT;; 888-507-4455; F 530-222-4515; 3184 Bechelli Lane Redding, CA 96002

THE TRIATHLETE STORE; sales@; 216-849-5468; F 216-373-2637l 14041 Midland Rd; Poway, CA 92064

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Get the exposure you deserve! • Call 877.762.5423 x17 CANADA MOUNTAIN EQUIPMENT CO-OP 830 10th Avenue Sw, Calgary, AB T2R 0A9; 403-269-2420 ; MOUNTAIN MAGIC EQUIPMENT 224 Bear St, Banff, AB T1L1B7; 403-762-2591; F 403-762-4672; 800661-0399;; info@

LA CORDEE PLEIN AIR 2777 St Martin Blvd West, Laval PQ H7T 2Y7; 800-567-1106; LA CORDEE PLEIN AIR 1595 Blvd Des Promenades St Hubert QC J3Y 5K2 800-567-1106; ALASKA

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; THE NORTH FACE - Valley Fair 2855 Stevens Creek Blvd Ste B32 Santa Clara, CA 95050-6709 (408) 553-0190; WILSON’S EASTSIDE SPORTS 224 N. Main St, Bishop, CA 93514 760-873-7520; COLORADO

ALASKA MOUNTAINEERING & HIKING 2633 Spenard Rd, Anchorage, AK 99503; 907-272-1811; F 907-274-6362;

BENT GATE MOUNTAINEERING 1313 Washington Ave, Golden, CO 80401; 303-271-9382; F 303-2713980 877-BENT-GATE;;


OURAY MOUNTAIN SPORTS 732 Main St, Ouray, CO 81427 970-325-4284; www.ouraysports. com; and blurb; Professional Ice Screw Sharpening and Ice Gear Rental Available!

ARIZONA HIKING SHACK 11649 N Cave Creek Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85020; 602-944-7723; F 602-861-0221 800-964-1673;; BABBITT’S BACKCOUNTRY OUTFITTERS 12 E. Aspen Ave., Flagstaff, AZ 86001 928-774-4775; F 928-7744561;; ARKANSAS Pa


c k R at 209 W Sunbridge Dr.,

tdo o C e nte r


Fayetteville, AR 72703 479-521-6340; F 479-521-6580; 877-521-6340;; CALIFORNIA

ADVENTURE 16 11161 W. Pico Blvd., West Los Angeles, CA 90064; 310-473-4574 for other SO CAL locations: We carry Vibram FiveFingers ELEVATION 150 S Main St Lone Pine CA 93545; 760-876-4560;; GRANITE CHIEF SKI & MOUNTAIN SHOP 11368 Donner Pass Rd, Truckee CA 96161; (530) 587-2809 Truckee (530) 583-2832 Squaw Valley; 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 61795 29 Palms Hwy, Joshua Tree, CA 92252; 760-366-4684; info@; See website for additional locations

PINE NEEDLE MOUNTAINEERING 835 Main Ave #112, Durango, CO 81301-5436; 970-247-8728; F 970-259-0697; 800-607-0364;; ROCK N ROLL SPORTS - GUNNISON 608 W Tomichi Ave, Gunnison, CO 81230; (970) 641-9150; F (970) 641 9150;;; THE NORTH FACE Twenty Ninth Street Plaza, 1711 29th St, Boulder, CO 80301; 303-499-1731 THE NORTH FACE 100 Detroit St, Denver CO 80206 303-316-8383; WILDERNESS EXCHANGE UNLIMITED 2401 15th Street Ste. 90, Denver, CO 80202; 303-964-0708 CONNECTICUT

OUTDOOR SPORTS CENTER 80 Danbury Rd, Wilton, CT 06897 203-762-8797; 800-782-2193; GEORGIA GEAR REVIVAL 955 Marietta St NW; Atlanta, GA 30318; 404-892-4326; F 404-5294544; THE CLIMBING STORE 1522 Dekalb Ave #2, Atlanta GA 30307; 404-371-8997; theclimbingstore@; THE NORTH FACE 35A West Paces Ferry Rd; Atlanta GA 30305; 404-467-0119;

IDAHO THE NORTH FACE 802 W Idaho St, Boise ID 83702 208-331-9790; ILLINOIS THE NORTH FACE John Hancock Center, 875 N. Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611; 312337-7200 THE NORTH FACE Sherman Plaza, 1600 Sherman Av, Evaston, IL 60201; 847-733-0875 KENTUCKY J & H LANMARK 189 Moore Dr, Lexington, KY 40503; 859-278-0730; 800-677-9300;; MIGUEL’S PIZZA AND ROCK CLIMBING SHOP 1890 Natural Bridge Rd Slade, KY 40376 606-663-1975; PHILLIP GALL’S OUTDOOR & SKI 1555 E New Circle Rd, Lexington, KY 40509; 859-266-0469; MASSACHUSETTS MOOR & MOUNTAIN 3 Railroad St, Andover, MA 01810 978-475-3665; F 978-470-1982; THE NORTH FACE 1245 Worcester Street Natick, MA 01760; 508-651-7676; THE NORTH FACE 326 Newbury St, Boston, MA 02115; 617-536-8060; MINNESOTA MIDWEST MOUNTAINEERING 309 Cedar Ave. S, Minneapolis, MN 55454; 612-339-3433; 888-999-1077;;; Free Climbing Cave THE NORTH FACE 3008 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55408; 612-8211910; MICHIGAN PLANET ROCK CLIMBING SHOP 34 Rapid St, Pontiac MI 48342; 248-333-9590 F 248-333-9597; 877-380-GEAR; THE NORTH FACE Somerset Collection 2800 W Big Beaver, Troy, MI 48080 (212) 362-1000; MISSOURI THE NORTH FACE Country Club Plaza, 312 West 47th St Kansas City, MO 64112; 816-7560300 NEW HAMPSHIRE INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAIN EQUIPMENT 2733 Main St; North Conway, NH 03860; 603-356-6316; 603-356-6492; NEW JERSEY CAMPMOR 810 Route 17 N, Paramus, NJ 07652; 201-445-5000; 800-CAMPMOR (266-7667);



HIGH PEAKS CYCLERY 2733 Main St; Lake Placid, NY 12946; 518-523-3764;

CLIMB HIGH 191 Bank Street, Burlington, VT 05401; 802-865-0900;

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

OUTDOOR GEAR EXCHANGE 152 Cherry St, Burlington, VT 05401 802-860-0190; F 802-860-0169;

THE NORTH FACE 2101 Broadway (at 73rd), New York, NY 10023; 212-362-1000 THE NORTH FACE 139 Wooster St, New York, NY 10023; (212) 362-1000’ THE NORTH FACE The Westchester, 125 Westchester Ave, White Plains, NY 10601 914-644-1750; NORTH CAROLINA LOOKING GLASS OUTFITTERS 90 New Hendersonville Hwy; Pisgah Forest, NC 28768; 828-884-5854 866-351-2176;; OHIO THE BENCHMARK OUTDOOR OUTFITTERS 9525 Kenwood Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45242; (513) 791-9453; OREGON CLIMB MAX MOUNTAINEERING 928 NE 28th St. Portland, OR 97202; 503-797-1991; F 503-236-9553; 800-895-0048 THE NORTH FACE 1202 NW Davis Street, Portland, OR 97209; 503-727-0200; REDPOINT CLIMBERS SUPPLY 8283 11th Street, Terrebonne, OR 97760; 541-923-6207; F 541-9231303 800-923-6207; goclimbing07@; ROCKHARD Smith Rock State Park, 9297 N.E. Crooked River Dr, Terrebonne, OR 97760; 541-548-4786 PENNSYLVANIA EXKURSION 4037 William Penn Highway Monroeville, PA 15146; Just outside of Pittsburgh; 412-372-7030; F 412372-7046; NESTOR’S SPORTING GOODS 2510 MacArthur Rd; Whitehall PA 18052; 610-433-4060; 800-898-1133; THE NORTH FACE 160 N Gulph Rd, King of Prussia PA 19406; 610-337-1773; UTAH GEAR EXPRESS, INC. 2702 S 3600 W Ste E, West Valley, UT 84119, 888-580-5510; F 801-9687951; THE DESERT RAT 468 W St, George Blvd St George UT 84770 435-628-7277; F 435-628-3380

VIRGINIA MOUNTAIN TRAILS 212 E Cork St, Winchester, VA 22601 540-667-0030; THE NORTH FACE 7870L Tyson’s Corner Center, McLean, VA 22102; 703-917-0111


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

REAL CHEAP SPORTS 36 W. Santa Clara, Ventura, CA 93001; 805-648-3803; F 805-6532581;


FEATHERED FRIENDS 119 Yale Ave N, Seattle WA 98109; 1-888-308-9365; 206-292-6292 Mail Orders; F 206-292-9667 MARMOT MOUNTAIN WORKS 827 Bellevue N.E., Bellevue, WA 98004 800-CLIMBIN THE NORTH FACE 1023 First Ave., Seattle, WA 98104 206-622-4111; THE NORTH FACE - University Village 2682 NE Village Ln Seattle Wa 98105 (206) 525-8500; WHITTAKER MOUNTAINEERING 5 miles outside Mt. Ranier National Park, 30027 SR 706 East, Ashford, WA 98304; 800-238-5756; WEST VIRGINIA THE GENDARME PO Box 217, Seneca Rocks, WV 26884 (304) 567-2600; 800-5480108;; WATER STONE OUTDOORS 101 E. Wiseman Ave, Fayetteville, WV 25840; 304-574-2425 F 304-574-2563; WISCONSIN THE NORTH FACE Hilldale Shopping Center, 702 North Midvale Blvd, Madison WI 53705; 608-233-1399; www. WYOMING

TETON MOUNTAINEERING 170 N Cache, PO Box 1533, Jackson, WY 83001; 307-733-3595 800-850-3595; BIG HOSS MOUNTAIN SPORTS LLC 202 South Second Street, Laramie, WY 82070; 307-742-9125; WILD IRIS MOUNTAIN SPORTS 333 Main St., Lander, WY 82520 307-332-4541; F 307-335-8923 888-284-5968;

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photo by JIMMY CHIN

Renan Ozturk takes advantage of a local boulder at the Topavon Basecamp, Garhwal Himalaya, India. Bagirhathi III looms in the distance. Nikon D300, 1/500th second, f/11, ISO 200, 18-200mm lens shot at 130mm.

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Alex Honnold climbing in British Columbia

Alex Honnold climbing in British Columbia

Leading athlete. Leading athlete. Leading rope. Leading rope. Together inin Motion. Together Motion.

New England Ropes • 848 Airport Road MA 02720-4735 02720-4735 • 800-333-6679 • New England Ropes • 848 Airport Road••Fall FallRiver, River, MA • 800-333-6679 •

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11/3/09 2:33:17 PM


NOW SUBSCRIBE Jimmy Chin | Meru, India | Mammatus Jacket | Photo: Renan Ozturk


NOW SUBSCRIBE Jimmy Chin | Meru, India | Mammatus Jacket | Photo: Renan Ozturk