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# | rock and ice march 2010 184

alpine issue 36

everyman’s exposed


the hard way

Call of the wild: Visual adventure from the world over. Bumble beware!

Eschewing modern climbing gear, alone and ropeless, the author attempts to duplicate an ascent from the 1930s in the Sierras. How hard can it be? by Daniel Arnold


cold justice

American alpinism was born on Mount Washington in New Hampshire, yet even today the blustery peak offers a hazardous combination of challenging routes and deadly weather. By brian irwin


crown of gargoyles

In a strange reversal, Simon Yates, of Touching the Void fame, faces a situation where he could find himself on the end of the rope during an alpine-style ascent of Mount Vancouver. by paul schweizer


rescue on makalu

Thirty years ago a small Himalayan expedition faced its greatest challenge: evacuating an unconscious comrade from high camp. Â Betsy White, the only woman on the expedition, was the one person whose resolve never wavered. The forgotten tale of an amazing rescue. by alison osius

COVER: Albert Leichfried on the first ascent of Lector (WI 7), Chiyoshibetu Hokkaido, Japan. Photo: hermann erber THIS PAGE: Icy tendrils embrace the Dent du Requin (11,227 feet) in the Alps of Chamonix, France. Photo: jonathan griffith


184 Departments 14 cliff notes

Get rowdy on the ice climbs of Cody, Wyoming. Plus: What the HAPE?! Knowing the symptoms of altitude sickness may just save your life. Also: Farewells to K2 pioneer Lino Lacedelli, and desert rat Kyle Copeland.

22 spotlight

Vermont’s Matt McCormick tears it up at Lake Willoughby and in the Adirondacks. By alison osius


Multiple bolt-hanger failures and the corrosive cause of it all. By jeff jackson

26 outlook

Life is fragile, so what are you going to do? A close look at two close scrapes, in and out of the mountains. By Andrew chapman

28 tuesday night bouldering

Mountaineering’s poetic prose parodied. The alliteration is only the beginning ... stay thirsty, my friends. By andrew bisharat

34 keith’s corner

Jonathan Siegrist builds a house of cards. That isn’t a metaphor. By keith ladzinski

62 ask Dr. j

Beating back the hunchback, being special for pulling a tendon, and why climbing may be the best therapy for a herniated disc. By Dr. Julian saunders

64 ask gear guy

How to sharpen crampons, and toproping in style ... as if it can be done!

68 field Tested

“Yes, climbing is dangerous but soloing is just plain reckless.” 

—Yoshi Aday, Letters, page 12

The ice is here! New tools, and stainlesssteel crampons by Black Diamond and CAMP. Plus, roasty toasties: a down hat, Scarpa’s Phantom Guide and the First Ascent Peak XV down jacket.

74 ask the coach

Getting a little slab happy with the Coach. Tips for how to climb low-angle brilliance in style. By neil Gresham

82 parting shot 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.

Aaron Mulkey establishes one of his many new routes, Morning Glory (WI 6), near Cody Wyoming. See Cliff Notes, page 14. Photo: Dan Miller

8 10 77

What does the country’s hardest offwidth look like? Pamela Pack shows us in Zion. Photo by Jim thornburg



Raphael Slawinski, Phyllis Driller (M10), Stanley Headwall, British Columbia, Canada. WIKTOR SKUPINSKI

editor’s note The Audacious Legacy of Tomaz Humar by jeff jackson


Peter McConkie in the Enclosure Ice Couloir, Grand Teton, WY ©Nathan Smith - Pull Photography




GRIVEL Distributed in the United States by Liberty Mountain For a dealer near you call 1-888.90.CLIMB

he Slovenian alpinist Tomaz Humar was found dead on November 14 after falling while trying to solo the south face of Lantang Lirung (23,711 feet). He broke his leg and spine in the fall at 20,669 feet and then radioed his basecamp and asked them to arrange a rescue. Dawa Sherpa organized the effort and relayed Humar’s last words spoken to a basecamp member, “The conversation was very short. He said, ‘Jagat, this is my last.’” Of course I’d heard of Humar. His 1995 route on the northwest face of Ama Dablam (22,349 feet) won him the Piolet d’Or, and he’d followed that success with many others: Bobaye (22,336 feet), Lobuche East (20,075 feet), Pumori (23,507 feet), Nuptse W2 (25,400 feet). Humar often climbed alone, soloing most of the “impossible” south face of Dhaulagiri in 1999, and earning praise from Reinhold Messner, who called him “the greatest high-altitude climber in the world.” Slovenians avidly followed the climb on the Internet. Humar’s dramatic blogging about close calls and midclimb dental self-surgery with a Swiss Army knife drew up to 2 million hits a day and brought criticism from climbers. Marko Prezelj, another fine Slovenian alpinist, commented, “It’s not alpinism, it’s show business.” While working on his house in 2000, Humar fell off a ladder, broke his right femur and crushed his left heel. After 10 operations the diagnosis was bleak—he was never supposed to walk again. He employed unconventional therapies such as bio-energy work and breath control, however, and proved the doctors wrong. In 2005 Humar attempted the 15,000-foot Rupal Face of Nanga Parbat (26,660 feet). He brought an astrologist to basecamp to read the aura of the mountain and to help him pick an auspicious date to begin his ascent, 8 r o c k a n d i c e .co m 4 10 m a r c h

but miscalculated and wound up stormbound and stranded in a coffin-shaped bivouac, just out of reach of constant thundering avalanches. He spent a hellish week frozen in a sleeping bag and was finally plucked off the mountain by a Pakistani helicopter on his 10th day on the peak. The drama had unfolded in real time on the Internet and it drew intense criticism from climbers who decried the rescue as a “murder of the impossible.” Mark Twight summarized the feelings of many in a statement to “A short haul off Nanga Parbat, a helicopter at the summit of Everest … and now every ill-prepared sad sack whose ability falls short of his Himalayan ambition can get on the radio, call for help, and expect the cavalry to save the day.” To many it was ironic that Humar again called for a rescue on Lantang Lirung. One climber quipped: “Why can’t Humar just shut up and die like a real alpinist?” And yet it is difficult to imagine a more accomplished, committed or skilled alpinist than Tomaz Humar. Climbing alone with no porters or fixed ropes, he consistently chose the most challenging objectives in the world, often first ascents, and through strength of will and with unlimited ambition he overcame the obstacles of poverty and physiological challenges to realize his dreams. Few of Humar’s critics have had the courage to undertake ascents in the same pure style and I wonder if these climbers would actually eschew a rescue when faced with a broken body at 20,000 feet? Ed Douglas, writing an obituary in the Guardian, described Humar as “restless, expansive and charismatic, he talked about mountaineering in spiritual, even mystical terms, and saw himself on a quest for psychological healing.” That quest is over, and Humar’s detractors must now confront the audacious legacy of his climbs. ■






g envir




—Bob McKay | Studio City, CA s




ON THE (GROUND) UP AND UP In researching the history of

Meteora climbing for my article [“In the Land of Myths,” No. 182], I somehow came to the boneheaded conclusion that some of the more recent (and better protected) routes there had been equipped on rappel. In particular, I wrongly wrote that Vangelis Batsios and George Vaiou had broken with tradition by bolting on rappel. In fact, these two, along with their friend Christos Batalogiannis, have upheld the traditional, ground-up style of first ascents in Meteora that the bold German climber Dietrich Hasse pioneered. Vangelis confirms that none of the routes in Meteora have been established on rappel. —Jim Thornburg | El Cerrito, CA

PROFESSIONAL ASSESSMENT After reading “Not the Knot”

[Accident Report, No. 182] I felt a professional response was required. The bowline is one of the standard knots used in technical rescue. Even though the bowline is not as strong as the trace eight, SAR professionals use this knot because it is easy to untie after being weighted. The authors are correct that the bowline is easy to tie incorrectly and not familiar to many climbers. In addition, bowlines have directionality and must be tied accordingly to be considered safe. The concern that I have is that the author appears to suggest that bowline knots have failed by coming untied during use. Your readers should understand that properly tied bowline knots will not come untied during use. Bowline knots that have failed or come untied during a climb were


ial cons



This issue the Sprout goes to the Seattle-based apparel, storage and shelter manufacturer OutRecognizing door Research for its environmenenvironmental and social g consciousness tally conscious packaging efforts. n env a i r o n m e n ta l Last year OR changed the packagThe a non-recyclable ing for all its storage systems from polypropylene plastic to a 100Sprout percent recyclable K




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great privilege of climbing with Joe Kristy. Joe was in his mid50s, a far better climber than me, and more fit than most 25-yearolds. Spurred on by his encouragement and knowledge of the sport, I logged many of my best routes with him as my belayer. He was one of the best climbing partners I ever had. He was also a great guy, fascinating to talk to, read voraciously, and liked to party. Joe was a man of integrity. He retired early, leaving his job as a claims adjustor at State Farm because of his disgust at how badly the claimants from the Northridge earthquake were being treated. He raised his daughter from the age of 2 after his wife left him. He was a friend to what seemed like everybody in the Southern California climbing community. The last day I ever climbed with Joe, in early 2003, I suffered a severe shoulder injury while pulling a difficult move. While I was convinced that I was consigned to a life of playing shuffleboard, Joe reassured me that I would soon be climbing again. After my recovery, I called him, made vague plans to get out, and then never heard from him. This past Saturday night, I arrived home from a weeklong road trip to Zion and Red Rocks, and excitedly sat down to read

nd s ocia lc tal a

Earlier this decade, I had the



my new Rock and Ice. The cover blurb was “John Long’s Strangest Tale (ever),” and I knew that even if that was hyperbole, a merely average John Long tale was going to be a great read. The article [“Bizarre Summits,” No. 181] was about climbing obscure pinnacles in Southern California. Joe Kristy’s name came up early in the article, and led me to wonder if maybe I would learn a little more about what had happened to him. Then, in the middle of the piece, Long described finding a piece of weathered old rope on top of a rock. “I grabbed the faded cord, knowing it led back to my old friend and periodic climbing partner, Joe Kristy … Climbers revered Joe, who coached countless noobs up routes they never thought they would climb in their lifetime. Joe’s heart was great, but he had a hole in it the size of Vietnam, where he served as a crew chief for a helicopter gunship … Decades later, Joe’s ship still circled in death’s shadow. He lost one climbing partner to a fall ... When the shadows lengthened, Joe drank. One time when I didn’t return his call owing to a minor surgery, Joe left a message instructing me to destroy his number, to forget I ever knew him. A few months later he turned the gun around and shot himself dead.” I was blessed to have been one of those noobs. I spent the next half-hour staring at the wall.

i r o n m e n ta l





The Editor’s Note, No. 182 stated that the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness is the nation’s fourthlargest Wilderness Area. In fact, it is the fourth-largest Wilderness Area in Colorado.

not tied correctly to start. Every life-safety knot should include enough tail to tie a back-up knot and have approximately four inches of tail remaining. A back-up knot will not necessarily prevent a fall if the bowline knot was not tied correctly. However, the back-up knot will prevent any risk of a bowline “coming untied” during a climb. And I would support that climbers who are not intimately familiar with the bowline knot should stick with the trace eight. In fact, a trace eight that is tied incorrectly will likely be a full-strength knot for a single climber’s weight. —Lee Lang, Larimer County Search and Rescue | Laramie, WY

WEIGHT UP I recently read the article by

Neil Gresham [Ask the Coach, No. 181] on the topic of weight belts. From personal experience, I wanted to stress how dangerous weight belts truly are. A climber was climbing with 15 pounds in a weight belt, and when he reached the roof of our gym, it slipped off, falling roughly 40 feet and hitting me on the head. I suffered a 3.5inch laceration, a major concussion, and three chipped teeth, and I have been going to a chiropractor for a few weeks now to straighten out several vertebrae that have crunched together because of some form of whiplash. While I know this was a freak accident, and won’t likely happen to many

paper product printed with soy-based ink. Recently, OR also began packaging its handwear without fabric barbs, the plastic wires that connect hang cards to the gloves. Finally, OR installed new lighting systems, which saved 250,000 kilowatts of electricity in 2009, 25 percent of what it used the year before, a savings that equates to powering 23 U.S. homes for a full year.

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


Andreas Bindhammer climbing Red Chili Matador

by Stefan Glowacz

people, it did happen to me and may very well happen again. I know full well Gresham didn’t support an unsafe action knowingly, but I personally would appreciate some statement saying that people should be careful when using weight belts. Falling objects are dangerous when climbing, and carrying a potential dropped object with you is always a risk. —Mark Hipshire | Knoxville, TN

WARRIOR’S WAY As a has-been climber who turned 60 on October 14th, I can no longer climb due to a bad shoulder, trick knees and arthritic fingerss. I miss climbing and try not to think about it, but when I hear of the deaths of those climbers who were my heroes in my day I am catapulted back to my Yosemite years. John Bachar was a true warrior. What else can honestly describe climbers of Bachar’s rarefied ilk? The rest of us— even the hotshot rock-gym jockeys and 5.14+ roped climbers— are nothing more than pretenders to the throne. The only true climbers in the absolute spirit of the concept are the Bachars, Crofts, Honnolds and Herseys— the soloists—because they do it and did it the purest way, without ropes from the ground up. They are quite simply the greatest athletes in the world regardless of sport. Nobody has the right to criticize and condemn the free-soloists. To do so is to expose oneself as an envious and unimaginative dolt. It requires nothing exceptional in one’s life path to reach old age. Any chain-smoking couch potato can live a long life. If I could be reincarnated I’d choose to be a John Bachar because his life was truly lived to its fullest, and with panache few humans will ever understand. —Jeffrey Van Middlebrook Pacific Grove, CA


I have been a loyal reader for the past few years. However, I 12 ro c kan d i c e .co m 4 10 ma r c h

was bummed to see your magazine focusing so much on the death of John Bachar. An amazing climber, yes—however, was he not a selfish daredevil whose death affected many people who were close to him? The quality of the photographs your magazine produces is simply beyond this planet. However, many of your readers are quite young and impressionable. I coach a high school climbing team that gobbles up your latest issues. Like many young people, our climbers assume they are invincible. If Guy A can solo, why can’t any of them? In the future, please consider how your magazine’s content can affect young minds but also, how it can taint the image of climbing for those who make efforts to be respectful and safe. —Yoshi Aday | Rutland, VT

SAFETY FIRST Like Andrew Bisharat, I don’t hate that more climbers are discovering the sport and culture now than ever before [TNB, No. 182]. I’m excited, but it’s a nervous excitement. With new players in the game, it’s important that they learn the rules. I’m not speaking of the elitist intricacies, but rather the various access issues that such a large volume of newcomers presents, and equally as important—the safety concerns. As a relatively self-taught climber, I read any climbing-related publication I can get my hands on. I look for chances to learn not just about the superstars or the hot spots, but also about the mechanics of the sport. The first article I read in every Rock and Ice is the Accident Report. It allows readers to learn from the mistakes of other climbers, and to promote safety throughout the climbing community. But why stop there? Rock and Ice has a unique opportunity to educate the public. I’m not pulling a Jon Stewart, but I am challenging you to teach in each issue. —Kris Hofstra | Bethel, VT

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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 2010 by Big Stone Publishing Ltd. Occasionally, we give subscriber names to companies offering products/services in which you may be interested. To remove your name from the list, please contact Rock & Ice Customer Service at 1-877-ROCKICE.

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cliff notes

by aaron mulkey

Here at Aldrich Creek, the author Aaron Mulkey takes on the Hell's Angel (WI 5), one of his 50 first ascents in the South Fork Valley, just outside Cody, Wyoming.

Big Ice, Cold Fear

Cody, Wyoming, has long been a symbol of the old American West, but today, it is a vibrant center for climbing and adventure.


urt Cozzens peered out the window of a Turbo Cessna 182 at the iceplastered walls of Ishawooa Canyon. A wide grin spread across his face. It was January 14, 1985, and he had just seen what, over 20 years later, would become one of Cody, Wyoming’s, most important ice-climbing discoveries.

After graduating from the University of Wyoming, in Laramie, with Paul Piana, Todd Skinner and Monte Madsen—possibly the university’s finest graduating class of climbers ever—Kurt enjoyed traveling the globe 14 r o c k a n d ic e .co m 4 10 M a r c h

with that crew for a few years. Eventually, however, he was drawn back to his hometown, Cody, where he decided he wanted to be a pilot. Kurt had met a young woman—let’s call her “Jane”—who was already

The South Fork Valley, just 25 minutes outside Cody, is one of the richest ice-climbing treasures in the continental United States. A scenic road snakes through the immense and ice-plastered mountains, which rise with little hesitation from 6,000 to 11,000 feet. Today, along a five-mile stretch of dirt road that runs up the valley, some fine ice climbs are found just minutes from the car. Few places have such a rich and unknown history. In 1979, six years before the plane crash, Kurt Cozzens first put pick to ice in the valley area. A few years later, Kurt taught his younger brother, Todd, then 16, how to ice climb. “I drug his ass up everything,” Kurt recalls today. “Turned out, Todd became a very accomplished climber.” It wasn’t just the quality of the routes they were doing that was exceptional; it was their size. Some of the original classics in the South Fork Valley include the 500-foot routes High on Boulder (WI 4) and Moonrise (WI 5), the 750-foot Main Vein (WI 3+), and the 1,000-foot Broken Hearts (WI 5). Todd Cozzens struggled to convince people to come check out these ice-climbing gems. Cody is miles away from everything, and it was difficult to persuade his friends that a trip was worth the effort. Todd got creative, and in 1984 put together what would

Joel Anderson

a pilot, but knew nothing about climbing and wanted to learn. They agreed to exchange expertise, and soon Kurt found himself soaring over Ishawooa Canyon and the greater South Fork Valley. Kurt was marveling at the blue cascades of ice coating the walls when Jane, who was flying, realized the plane was too low. She had misjudged the height of the ridge and now they were headed straight toward a mountain. She pulled back on the yoke, but the Cessna clipped the last row of trees on the 11,000-foot ridge. A violent crash tore the plane apart, sending scraps of metal flying. The cockpit—all that was left of the Cessna—came to rest in the snow. Miraculously, the two sustained only minor injuries. Because they had not logged a flight plan, however, nobody knew their whereabouts. This realization slowly dawned and they realized that their survival was in their hands. The two were on an exposed mountain, at 11,000 feet, wearing sneakers and lightweight down jackets. Kurt figured it was at least 20 miles to the nearest road. They began moving. Twenty-four hours later, Kurt and Jane reached the valley floor, soaked, frozen and starved. Lights flickered in the distance, and they hailed the driver of what turned out to be a UPS truck, which delivered them back to town.

cliff notes

become North America’s first ice festival. A small clique of Todd’s friends came for the purposes of establishing more new routes, and partying it up in a wall tent in the Deer Creek campground. During the festival, Todd Cozzens and Doug Birkholtz established one of North America’s top ice routes, Mean Green (WI 5), protecting the six-pitch 1,000-foot route with pound-in ice screws and Bird Beaks. On the fourth pitch, Doug took a 30-foot whipper onto an ice screw. The north-facing Mean Green remains a classic testpiece. Word of the South Fork Valley snuck out and drew some of climbing’s best athletes, such as Alex Lowe, Jeff Cristol, Doug Chabot and Todd Skinner, all of whom climbed there with the young Todd Cozzens.

drawn map to the South Fork Valley drew me out of Cody like a pirate searching for booty. Today, after a decade of exploration and over 50 first ascents, I know there is even more than the eye can see. The past decade of exploration has produced a whole new slew of modern classics such as Wyoming Wave (WI 3, 500 feet), Spying and Flying (WI 4, 700 feet), Ro Shambo (WI 5), Hell's Angel (WI 5), and the 60-meter rope-stretcher The Testament (WI 6). Today, there are nearly 300 routes here, and even more waiting to be climbed. After leaving your car, you walk through sagebrush and past cactus, lured by the alpine oasis high above the desert terrain. The unique combination of adventure and isolation found in the South Fork is addicting. A good friend of mine, John Frieh, has traveled over 20 hours one way just to climb 150 feet of ice for a day. He has done this the last two years in a row! The South Fork Valley has earned respect from many accomplished climbers for having some of North America’s hardest testpieces, such as Long Neck Bottle (WI 7), Barely Legal (WI 7 M8), The Gambler (WI 6+) and the never-repeated Alex Lowe route Mean Streak (WI 7 M7). Among these frozen sandbags are classic routes we can all do, like Bozos Revenge (WI 3). The climbing area is about 25 minutes from the town of Cody, named after “Buffalo Bill Cody,” and rooted in Western cowboy culture. Today Cody’s draw is its pleth16 r o c k a n d i c e .co m 4 10 M a r c h

Sam Magro on one of Cody's 300-something ice lines, this one a 60-meter WI 3. Although climbers have been plying their trade at the area for over 30 years, first-ascent opportunities still abound. BELOW: The author at work on the first ascent of The Gambler (WI 6), South Fork Valley.

ora of surrounding world-class adventures such as rock and ice climbing, kayaking and mountain biking. Still, the roughneck roots remain strong, and if you’re not careful, you might find yourself getting 86’d from the local Silver Dollar Bar, like one of my ice-climbing partners, S.K. He had saddled up next to a finelooking woman, and launched into humorous tales of his climbing antics. Her boyfriend quickly took notice and shouted, “Hey, that’s my girlfriend!” S.K. replied by saying, “I heard that in Cody, you don’t lose your girlfriend, you just lose your turn.” The boyfriend went after S.K., who quickly climbed up the wall and onto some wood beams, elusive as a matador. We soon found the safety of the alley, where a short walk across the street took us to Cooter Browns. We were safe, at least until the next day dawned with another local adventure. See for more.

aaron mulkey (top); matt steen

Ten years ago, Todd Cozzens' hand-





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by joe knight

You don't have to be in the Himalaya to be stricken with highaltitude sickness. Even peaks such as the 14,088-foot Lenszpitze in Switzerland present real dangers.


The Tools You Need {AMS} People with AMS often assume they

have viruses. However, AMS does not cause a fever and is not associated with muscle aches. AMS is the most common type of altitude illness, typically afflicting 25 to 75 percent of lowlanders, usually eight to 96 hours after arrival at altitudes of more than 7,800 feet. The most common symptoms are a mild headache, lack of appetite, insomnia, nausea, shortness of breath and a hungover feeling. Preventing a problem is a lot easier than fixing it. If AMS symptoms appear, go no higher. Stop and acclimate to the present altitude—a process that may take up to four days. If you do not improve, descend 1,000 to 3,000 feet. For years some climbers have prevented and treated AMS with acetazolamide (Diamox), a drug that makes your blood more acidic. The body compensates for this increased acidity by stimulating breathing, particularly during sleep, which in turn accelerates acclimation. The most common side effects of the drug are burning/itching skin sensations. A trial course is recommended before you go to a remote location. Ginkgo biloba, an herb, has been thought to prevent or treat AMS, but research shows its effectiveness is equivocal at best. Some people respond to it well; others don’t.


Mountain Climbing’s Deadliest Danger is the Air I was at 11,000 feet, alpine climbing in Alaska. I hadn’t felt well since the day before, but was determined to gut it out. The prior night, a dry cough and strange dreams had kept me awake and I occasionally felt like my heart was going to burst from my chest. By morning I felt a little better, but when we started moving up, I vomited. My head was throbbing and I couldn’t breathe from chest pain. Every movement was slow, painful. I recognized all of these symptoms from the last time I had the flu, and wondered who I had caught the wretched bug from. I didn’t know that not only was my diagnosis wrong, my life was in danger. Before you embark on any high-altitude adventure, you must be familiar with the lifethreatening symptoms you may experience as you move into thin air. There are three main types of high-altitude illnesses: acute mountain sickness (AMS), high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), and high-altitude cerebral edema (HACE). While mountain climbers are usually in peak physical condition, fitness has no bearing on vulnerability to high-altitude illnesses. The best indicator of a climber’s chance of developing altitude sickness is how he or she had responded to previous high-altitude situations. 18 r o cka n d i ce .co m 4 10 M a r ch

{HAPE} HAPE occurs when excess fluid moves

into the alveoli of your lungs and interferes with oxygen exchange. Of all climbing fatalities due to high-altitude illness, HAPE is the most common cause. The symptoms generally occur over a period of a few hours to several days, but have, on occasion, appeared suddenly, without being preceded by AMS. HAPE generally affects healthy young people. Further, those who have suffered from it before are more susceptible. Early symptoms include a dry cough and difficult or labored breathing—both at rest and during exertion—along with heartbeat irregularities. Ascending very slowly helps prevent HAPE. Nifedipine, a medication for high blood pressure, may also help. In one study, mountaineers who had previously suffered HAPE were given nifedipine during a three-day ascent, while a similar group received a placebo. Only 10 percent of the nifedipine-treated participants developed HAPE, while 70 percent of the placebo group did.

Pulse Oximeter: This measures the oxygen saturation of your red blood cells. Just clip the pulse oximeter to your fingertip—no blood needs to be drawn. By monitoring what percent of your hemoglobin molecules are carrying oxygen, this invaluable device, available online for around $150, offers an objective measurement of acclimatization. Gamow Bag: This body-sized pressurized sack artificially decreases the inner altitude by as much as 4,500 feet. Put the patient in the Gamow Bag, seal it, and operate a foot pump to increase the pressure inside. Treatment takes about two hours for AMS, four hours for HAPE and six hours for HACE. A Gamow Bag is a temporary measure, merely intended to ward off the negative effects of altitude until the person is capable of descending. It may help avoid a fullscale (and expensive) mountain rescue.

A person suffering the early stages of HAPE must be given oxygen and evacuated to a lower elevation. Portable hyperbaric oxygen units (Gamow bags) may also provide temporary relief by artificially lowering a patient several thousand feet in just a few minutes.

{HACE} HACE involves significant swelling of the

brain, increasing cerebral pressure. AMS generally precedes HACE, but not always. Symptoms include confusion, disorientation, irrational behavior, lethargy and the inability to coordinate muscle movements (ataxia). Nausea and vomiting may occur in severe cases. Ultimately, if HACE is not treated, coma and death will result. The best way to avoid HACE is to climb slowly, roughly 1,000 feet per day. If HACE develops, the best treatment is oxygen, rapid descent and dexamethasone. As in the case of HAPE, if immediate or rapid descent is not possible, a Gamow bag can be used as a temporary measure. In Alaska, I eventually recognized my symptoms as AMS, and retreated 2,000 feet. I spent three days acclimating and drinking water, and soon felt well enough to climb a couple of peaks before my vacation ended. Joe Knight is a physician assistant in Fresno, California. While in the U.S. Army, he was the battalion surgeon in an arctic infantry brigade in Alaska.

prevention tips Know the symptoms: Pay attention to your body. Do not ascend if AMS symptoms appear. Climb high, sleep low: Increase your sleeping altitude by 1,000 to 1,500 feet per day. Try climbing higher during the day and coming down to sleep.  Go down: Descend if the symptoms become severe or if you experience HACE or HAPE. Hydrate: Drink a minimum of two liters of water per day in addition to tea and other beverages. 

jonathan griffith

cliff notes

cliff passages notes Lino lacedelli | 83

Lino Lacedelli, who with Achille Campagnoni was the first to reach the summit of K2, died in Cortina di Ampezzo, Italy, on November 20  of complications following heart surgery. Even at 83, Lino Lacedelli looked as if he

were supplying all of Cortina with firewood. Thousands of spliced logs lined his shed, and a visitor might find him wielding an axe, chopping more. “Don’t you chop your own wood?” he asked the interviewer. Another log dropped on the pile. “So many questions!” he said. “Like my grandson.” The child, while slurping soup, had once examined Lacedelli’s hand and asked where he’d misplaced the left thumb. “I told him I dropped it in his minestrone,” Lacedelli said. He’d lost it to frostbite on the first ascent of K2. Lacedelli flashed a grin that must have been the same 70 years ago when he slipped away from his father to free solo Cinque Torre. Passing a bewildered guide, tethered to an English tourist, the 14-year-old waved from the top. The guide berated him. You could have died, he told Lacedelli. But the pretty tourist was impressed. She tossed him a stick of chocolate, sealing his destiny. Reinhold Messner described Lacedelli as “one of the greatest climbers ever.” Lacedelli was a compassionate man and a legendary climber. It now seems wrong that one incident on K2 sometimes eclipsed it all. In 1954, when Lacedelli set off to K2, the expedition leader Ardito Desio predicted, “If you succeed in scaling the  peak—as I am confident you will—the entire world will hail you as  champions of your race long after you are dead.”  But one decision compromised the climb. Lacedelli’s partner, Achille Compagnoni, feared he’d lose the summit to two support climbers, Walter Bonatti and the Pakistani porter Amir Mehdi. So, over Lacedelli’s protests, Compagnoni decided to leave them out in the cold. Bonatti and Mehdi arrived at 26,600 feet the night before the first ascent carrying 80 pounds of bottled oxygen to the rendezvous point. But they couldn’t find the 2 0 r o c k a n d i c e .co m 4 10 M a r c h

leaders’ tent, pitched far along an unstable traverse. Lacedelli shouted instructions to the support climbers: Avoid the traverse, cache the oxygen and climb down. Headlamps  of the era cast such a faint glow that night climbing was difficult. Mehdi grew hypoxic, and Bonatti decided they needed to bivouac. As Lacedelli and Compagnoni sipped chamomile tea inside their tent, Bonatti and Mehdi carved a perch in the snow below K2’s Bottleneck and endured a harrowing open bivy in the Death Zone.  Bonatti descended at dawn with wounded pride. Mehdi, with inferior boots, lost his toes to frostbite. For a time after they conquered K2, all of the Italians presented a united front, refusing to disclose details of the forced bivouac. Feted by presidents and the Pope, Lacedelli and his Italian teammates became household names, their faces plastered on postage stamps and cigarette cartons. Bonatti also embraced celebrity, sometimes with spectacular results. “If you could be left on a desert island with any man, who would it be?” a magazine quizzed the screen siren Rosanna Podesta. “Walter Bonatti,” the actress said. “I’d even carry his pack.” A decade later, Compagnoni cemented his reputation as the Judas of mountaineering. Through the journalist Nino Giglio, he accused Bonatti of siphoning the K2 summit team’s oxygen. Lacedelli knew it was a lie— the regulators had been inside the tent—but remained silent. Bonatti, who by then had moved in with Podesta, began a successful libel case to clear his name. Lacedelli didn’t like to speak of the incident. When journalists hiked to his house, he hid in the hayloft. Only in 2004, 50 years after the climb, did he finally break his silence, publishing  K2: The Price of Conquest, an account of the climb that vindicated Bonatti.  “Lino’s book was his final olive branch to Walter,” said Erich Abram, who climbed with both on K2.  Even to the end, Lacedelli hoped for reconciliation.  But Bonatti, like K2, remained unforgiving.  —Amanda Padoan

The Original Desert Rat: kyle copeland | 51 Kyle Copeland passed away on October 3,

in Salt Lake City, after a long fight with Crohn’s disease. Kyle’s first ascents spanned the country’s boldest climbing arenas: El Cap, the South Platte, Eldo, Fisher Towers, Arches and the Diamond, where his Diamond Star Halo (V 5.8 A4) lies. Yet he was most renowned for his exploration and development of the desert Southwest. Kyle was a talented musician, a VW grease monkey, an outdoor software designer, dinosaur-bone collector, and a rigger on Hollywood movie sets. His modest appearance—smudged glasses, tangled hair tied in a Navajo bun, dirty baseball cap, grease-stained jeans, and a sincere smile with a cigarette plugging the space where a tooth used to be—belied himself as a true Renaissance man. Visitors to Kyle’s modest home behind the main drag in downtown Moab were occasionally intimidated by Kyle’s grumpy side—not to mention astounded by his collection of musical instruments, sewing machines, surveillance equipment and dinosaur bones. At his home, Kyle had constructed most of a whole dinosaur skeleton from fossils he had found. It looked like something out of a museum, and it was made of hundreds of pieces that he had found and painstakingly puzzled together. Anyone who spent a day with him at the crags had a friend forever. Once a horse escaped its corral and was running loose in Moab. The police, fire department,

and horse “experts” couldn’t capture the spirited animal. Kyle (so the story goes) hopped on his mountain bike, chased the horse down, lassoed it and rode it back to the corral. Another day we went to one of Moab’s best crack climbs outside of Indian Creek, an Earl Wiggins masterpiece, Class Act (5.11). None of us could piece together the pumpy lieback. Kyle lit a cigarette, grabbed the rack of cams and sent the thing without so much as a quiver, cough or whimper. Kyle schooled us all.  —Todd Gordon (left); greg epperson

Italian Legend:

spot light

by Alison osius  photo by David Vuono



att McCormick is probably best known for a 35-foot, spinning fall from his trad 5.13c R, Wheelin’ and Dealin’, on the Spider’s Web, Adirondacks, New York. The sickening plummet on sketchy gear was filmed and posted online.

Matt McCormick—shown here on Zabba (5.13a), at the Spider’s Web, Adirondacks—is an all-around Northeastern climber who gets psyched according to the season.


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2 2 r o c k a n d i c e .co m 4 10 M a r c h

Maybe he should also be appreciated for his driving. For two years, McCormick, age 26, would teach school all week in Sudbury, Massachusetts, then drive two hours up to Plymouth, New Hampshire, and stay with friends Friday night. He’d rise at 3 a.m., meet his partner Josh Worley in Littleton at 4 a.m., and reach the ice of Lake Willoughby, Vermont, by 6. They’d climb all day, finish in the dark, he’d reach Plymouth at 10:30 at night, and then get up the next day

and do it all over again. “We were so committed to the Lake,” he says. “We had gone to the Canadian Rockies and done a couple of routes on the Stanley Headwall, Suffer Machine [M7+ WI 5] and French Reality [WI 6+] in early-season conditions. We said, ‘We have to go back to the Lake.’” Suddenly they saw the potential for new, big mixed lines. From that trip was born Astro Turf (M9 WI 5+), at Lake Willoughby, in the winter of 2006, on which Worley

spotlight sent a very hard mixed traverse, on the first attempt whipping off. McCormick led the next pitch, a hard drytooling roof to a half-inch-thick sheet of vertical ice, detached, without pro. “Every now and then on ice you feel good going for it, and just accept the situation,” he says. “Other times you don’t, and you just back off.” Among his other highlight FAs are last year’s Tunnel Vision (M9) and Paradigm Shift (M8-), both at Snake Mountain, Vermont, as well as Machine Shop (M8 WI 6+) with Josh Hurst, at Lake Willoughby. He also, with Naomi Risch, put up the four-pitch rock route Northern Revival (5.12c R) at the Upper Washbowl, in the Adirondacks. He has done long trad linkups on Cathedral and Cannon in New Hampshire, and climbed sport routes up to 5.13c at Terradets, Spain. Says Freddie Wilkinson of North Conway, “Matt’s one of the top young all-arounders in the country. He’s a true New Englander, with a wonderful self-deprecating sense of humor. But underneath that you can tell he has a lot of drive, not just for climbing in general but also training and projecting. You might even call him intense, but it’s self-focused, without ego or competitiveness.” McCormick is now teaching at an independent high school for at-risk youth in Burlington, where he lives with Risch. Though installed in the middle of New England climbing, he still clocks some miles: like driving 15 hours to the Red, or flying to Canmore, for four days each. ■

Ever crashed your car? Surprisingly not, but I definitely have had a few scary doze-offs. What’s next for you? This winter I’m excited about mixed climbing at Snake Mountain, a mile-long cliff band littered with all these icicles. For rock, a couple more projects in the Adirondacks, on Moss Cliff. Peter Kamitses has freed two of the aid routes on that wall. There’s one more.

You’ve done long linkups on Cathedral and Cannon. Any others in mind? I’ve always envisioned a Cannon/Cathedral day where I would try and do three major routes on each cliff. Josh and I have always talked about a 24-hour day at the Lake, too. Kind of silly, I guess.

What are your strengths in climbing? I am really committed to training and putting in the time to get better. I am definitely not naturally talented like some climbers are but I can deal with the hours in the gym and hours in the car. I think working a Monday-to-Friday job for so long has made me really try and capitalize on the days I do have.

Ever had any big epic? Several years ago Jim Shimberg and I did the West Face [5.11c] of El Cap. It was a really big undertaking for me at the time and it took all day. We topped out at midnight and needed to catch our flight in Sacramento at 6 a.m. We had trouble finding the East Ledges and were pretty close to bivying when we stumbled onto the trail and made it down. I pounded a Red Bull and drove to the airport while Jim slept in the back of the rental van.

You’ve done plenty of sport climbing. What is the fascination with poorly protected routes? In New England there are not that many hard and easily protected gear routes to be found, so it seems that to push it you have to go to the routes that aren’t rated G. I really like the process of figuring out how to protect those kind of scary routes and then accepting the gear you can get and going for it. … I like the element of consequence in climbing, but certainly not all the time. That’s why I go to places like Spain and the Red.

Do you plan to stay in New England? Yes! I love the diversity of climbing here but most of all I love the community of climbers. … We have one of the best single ice-climbing crags in the world at Lake Willoughby to a lifetime’s worth of first-ascent rock projects in the Daks, to world-class sport climbing in Rumney. Every time I travel, by the end of the trip I end up talking about something I want to do when I get back to New England.



J u ly 0 9 3 r o c k a5/26/09 n d i ce10:27:03 .co mAM 23


by Jeff jackson


Bolts fail at Index Town Hall


n August 23, Brad “Chum” Carter and Boyd Fackler walked up to climb on the Sport Wall at Index’s Upper Town Wall near Seattle. Carter chose the techy, vertical Calling Wolfgang (5.12b), bolted in 1990 by Greg Child. Carter climbed to the first bolt and paused to check it out. “I knew the route was old and had not been inspected for a while,” he said. “The bolt seemed OK so I figured they were all the same.” He reached the second bolt, asked Fack-

ler to “Take” so he could brush dirt off the wall and continued upward. After clipping the third bolt, Carter again hung to dust off the holds. He heard the ping of breaking metal, then plunged. Another ping sounded when the second hanger also broke, the metal shards bouncing off a ledge to his right. Luckily, the high first bolt held and Carter stopped inches short of the ground, with Fackler holding down tight. Carter was bruised and scraped but otherwise unharmed.


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Accidents involving broken bolts are thankfully rare, but far from unheard-of. Bolt failures most often occur at climbing areas in marine environments, such as Thailand or Sardinia, and involve a process known as Chloride Stress Corrosion Cracking (SCC). The chloride ion present in salt water instigates corrosion that follows lines of stress in a tightened steel bolt, “much like grass grows in small cracks in concrete and forces the pieces apart,” according to a report posted by the American Safe Climbing Association. SCC is a well-documented phenomenon, and can cause bolt failure in as little as 18 months. The night after his accident, Carter described it on Several climbers suggested SCC or galvanic corrosion, an electrochemical process in which one metal corrodes when in contact with a different type of metal, e.g., an aluminum hanger on a steel bolt. But two days later, when the shards of the busted hanger were recovered and examined, and a photo showing the flaky interior edges at the break was posted, another, equally insidious process seemed to be at work. The hanger was a circa 1990 Kong-Bonatti aluminum bolt hanger, which showed signs of a type of deterioration known as exfoliation corrosion, possibly exacerbated by a galvanic action brought on by pairing dissimilar metals in the wet environment of the Pacific Northwest. In a post on a metallurgist described the process: “In this particular form of intergranular corrosion the expansive force of insoluble corrosion products tends to force the grains apart and leads to exfoliation corrosion, sometimes known as lamellar or layer corrosion. In extreme cases, the edges of the affected area are leaf-like, and resemble the separated pages of a wetted book that has become swollen and begun to open up.” According to a report by, a metal-treatment company specializing in aircraft maintenance: “Where fasteners are involved, exfoliation corrosion extends outward from the fastener hole, either from the entire circumference of the hole, or in one direction from a segment of the hole. In severe cases, the surface bulges outward, but in less severe cases, there may be no telltale blisters.”



ust like you would with natural protection, always visually inspect bolts and hangers on older rock climbs. Hand-tighten loose nuts and look for corrosion. All aluminum hangers are suspect and should be replaced. Unfortunately, there is no practical test for whether a hanger is aluminum. Several manufacturers still make aluminum hangers to be used as “emergency” anchors, mainly in caving applications. This particular incident illustrates the value of guidebooks listing the first ascentionist and the year of the ascent, since

2 4 roc k an d ice .co m 4 10 m a r c h

similar routes can be easily flagged and maintained. Greg Child told Rock and Ice that he and Greg Collum used these hangers in the 1980s. According to Child, the hangers were stamped as full-strength. He says. “There are a lot of them sprinkled around Index.” Finally, always use the highest quality equipment when placing permanent anchors. Match your hardware to your environment. If you’re bolting in a marine environment, use a titanium glue-in bolt such as the Ushba Tortuga. ■

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out look

by Andy chapman  art by jeremy collins

Crashing the Heights One long year, two close calls


yle and I had been moving for over 18 hours, skiing five miles of glacier and climbing 3,100 feet of the convoluted south west ridge of Peak 11300 in Alaska. The setting sun bathed the peaks in a soft, rosy light. As Kyle rappelled to a small col in the ridge, where we planned to bivy, I snapped a few pictures and smiled. The weather was holding and my thoughts turned to the simple comforts of water, food, shelter and sleep. Kyle yelled that he was off rappel. I made the short rap, and clipped into a single #1 Camalot with 30 feet of rope. Kyle was eight feet away from me, shoveling a spot for the tent, and I was rummaging in my pack for the stove when all hell broke loose. The ground below me gave way and suddenly I was upside-down and free falling. A puking feeling in my stomach coincided with the thought, “Here we go.” After 30 feet the rope came tight. I pulled myself upright and watched as all of our possessions raced 1,200 pounds of snow down the 4,000-foot west face. My attention shifted to the single cam I had just whipped 2 6 r o c k a n d i c e .co m 4 10 m a r c h

on. I couldn’t see it, but knew that I desperately needed to unweight it. I ran my hands down my homemade tethers and pulled up my ice tools, then futilely attempted to sink them in the overhanging snow. Kyle poked his head over the edge, yelling my name; I yelled back that I was fine, and asked him to send down the second rope. I yarded on the rope attached to the cam above, while Kyle used the other rope to tuna-haul me up. Back on the suddenly smaller col, we stared wide-eyed at each other.

“Holy shit,” I muttered. “Give me a hug!” Kyle said, and the quick embrace served to ground me. Almost everything was gone— tent, packs, sleeping bags, food, water, stove, rack, headlamps, cameras, everything. Standing in a 20-foot col 3,500 feet above the glacier in the middle of the Alaska Range, I stared dumbly as the sun set. Finally, the life-and-death gravity of the situation sank in. We needed to make some decisions quickly. I shifted my attention to what we did have: two ropes, three ice tools, one shovel, one picket, two pins, our lucky #1 Camalot and PMA (Positive Mental Attitude). We discussed digging in for the night or trying to find some of our rack while rappelling the west side of the ridge. Even though we didn’t have headlamps, descending in the dark sounded better than sitting it out. Without a stove or bivy gear, a night out would leave us in much worse shape and daylight wouldn’t change the fact that we didn’t have a rack to rappel with. We opted to down climb the smaller, lowerangled east side of the ridge. My nerves were still fried from the fall, and it took a lot of control to stay present as we soloed down 50to 70-degree snow and ice into the night. During the first 1,000 feet, I told myself that I would quit this bullshit, pursue a normal life and be content with more conventional sports. I fantasized about summers spent sport climbing and road biking, a winter of lazy ski tours and guilt-free resort laps. I thought about how much of my life and personal identity had been tied into alpinism. I clearly saw how stupid it was, how quickly things can go bad and how much I had given up. I was amazed as Kyle forged ahead armed with one ice tool and a shovel. I must have really been shaken. “Keep moving,” I thought. When I began feeling too fried, I recited a mantra co-opted from a friend. “I love my girlfriend. I love my family.” It coincided with the rhythm of tool-tool-foot-foot, and kept me focused on the task at hand, yet aware of the overall danger.

We down climbed 2,500 feet, to where the terrain cliffed out, forcing us to rappel. We took turns ferreting out flakes and pounding in chockstones to preserve our three-piece rack, all in the dark or with close inspection from our lighters. Mid rappel, I sensed the glacier growing close but couldn’t tell if there was enough rope to clear the gaping bergschrund. Hanging one last time from the #1 Camalot, I repeatedly pulled up the rope and threw it, straining to hear. On the third toss I heard the rope hit snow. Getting off the face brought little relief. Negotiating the broken seracs, steep snow slopes and tenuous snow bridges in the dark was much more complicated. We were roped together, but had no means to ascend should someone fall into a crevasse. Still, I became aware that I was actually starting to enjoy being out there, going through the process of surviving. I marveled at the beauty of the stars and silent peaks in the cold Alaskan night, but only let myself enjoy it in a limited sense, a sort of last hurrah before I finally quit alpinism. We made our way down the icefall and back to our skis and sleds. As we sat, desperately dehydrated, quietly watching the sunrise, I began to scheme on future trips: going back to Peru in June, returning to Alaska. We split the pack of almond butter that was left in my sled, and discussed if, how and when we should try to reclaim some of our lost possessions. Most of our financial net worth was buried over there. We reluctantly rose from our comfortable seat on the sled and skied around the ridge. The other side of the ridge was a cold, daunting place. The west face is much steeper, and it’s a straight shot up to the col, 4,000 feet above. The snow cone at the bottom was littered with debris and gear. I thought about how easily I could have landed here as well. After an hour casing the place like scavengers, we finally abandoned the search efforts, having recovered a small fraction of what was buried below a thousand pounds of cornice. We began the return to camp,

skiing with 100 feet of rope between us, the wind at our backs and the sun in our unprotected eyes. The terrain was crevassed and rolling, but we hauled ass. Bombing a small snow bridge with 50 feet of slack in the system, I yelled “Safe travels!” at the top of my lungs. We laughed hysterically and it became our mantra. We arrived safely at camp 38 hours after leaving. Five months later, I rode

my bike south on State Street in American Fork, Utah, commuting to my part-time teaching job in cool morning air. The first rays of light caught the clouds as they floated past the peaks. The next thing I knew, I was in the emergency room, trying to figure out what had happened. I only recalled lying on my back in the street in a tremendous amount of pain, looking at the sky and attempting to crawl away, then a concerned-looking EMT saying, “Stick with me.” I was life-flighted, and underwent five hours of emergency surgery to repair a broken, displaced clavicle and severe lacerations in my neck that exposed my carotid artery and jugular vein. The following morning the doctors told me again and again how lucky I was to be alive. I was literally less than a millimeter from cutting my jugular vein. The CT scan shows that, as the doctor put it, I “shaved cells off” it. I was still uncertain how this happened until the phone rang. A woman named Adrienne told me that she had been driving south that morning and had slowed down to turn. I was riding in front of her, just right of the white line on the shoulder. She watched in horror as a man driving a catering van turned left into me, attempting to enter the exit of a McDonalds. I locked

up my brakes, struck the back of his van, broke the glass, spun clockwise and landed on my face. She found me face down, still tangled in my bike, which had been cut in half. She could hear that I was breathing but was afraid to move me in case of spinal damage. After a few moments I came to and with a grunt rolled over onto my back. A pool of blood rushed out of my neck, which was splayed open. She and another motorist held shirts over the wounds until paramedics arrived. I spent a week in the hospital recovering from injuries including T6-T8 anterior compression fractures of my thoracic spine, C3-C7 transverse process fractures of my cervical spine, and facial fractures of my cheek and orbital floor. I learned that the van driver was 78 years old, uninsured and from out of state. The police told me that he was issued a citation for failing to yield and for improper registration. I faced a 10-month recovery prognosis, loss of income and astronomical medical bills. Two months after the

accident, I moved out of my apartment and into the basement of Kyle’s parents’ house. He was recovering from a trip to Pakistan, where he spent 24 storm-filled days alone on a wall. His finger was badly frostbitten and would be amputated as soon as his protein levels were high enough for surgery. The day I was hit by the van was coincidentlly also the same day Kyle made his summit push attempting a new line on Tahu Rutum, costing him a finger and 40 pounds. Our parallel situations and my recent near misses forced me to evaluate risk, security and the fragile, fleeting nature of life. In Alaska I had briefly fantasized about quitting alpin-

ism to pursue “safer” activities like ski touring or road biking. Strangely, I was bike commuting when I came closest to death. In the mountains, you and your partner have sole responsibility for your decisions and suffer the consequences when you’re wrong. Being run down in the street seems much worse. While recovering from the accident I’ve reaffirmed my belief that you cannot insulate yourself from risk, and realized that my most cherished memories have emerged from engaging the unknown and embracing physical hardship. Today I spend 20 to 30

minutes soaking my neck and shoulder under the hot shower water. Doing a yoga routine in my limited capacity feels good. The physical therapist said I shouldn’t do this, but after visualizing it all week, I can’t help myself. I walk purposefully to the hangboard in Kyle’s basement. I hang, and once my broken body settles under its own weight, do a pullup. Then two more. Euphoria sets in and I am overwhelmed with joy. It is too easy to let fear govern our lives: fear of failure, rejection and, ultimately, death. I say crash the heights and focus on living. Andy Chapman, a Salt Lake based climber, artist and teacher, got his wish for a summer of easily accessible climbing, and has outlined a detailed training plan to return to the mountains.

m a r c h 10 3 r o c k a n d i c e .co m 2 7

tuesday night bouldering

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

The Day I Saved Jésus

A true story told as a parody of the overwrought, self-important, mixed-metaphor prose that you read in most mountaineering literature.


his is a story with no beginning and no end. And no middle. It’s a story as old as Fred Beckey and as timeless as “Endless Love.” It flies on the backs of ravens and sings with dodo birds in the mystic. This story makes molehills out of the highest, most demanding mountains—those rarified places that touch you in that special area and pose the oldest question in the book, the one every mountaineer has struggled to answer. “How’s your father?” This is the story of two boys who cast off into a metaphor and learn how to become metaphorical men. Tough guys, with ice tools and crampons, who can tie a butterfly knot with a single hand and rig a Z-pulley from here to Kathmandu, a city the size of the hole in their hearts. This is a story that goes to 2 8 r o c k a n di c e .co m 4 10 m a r c h

great lengths to elaborate the very essence of who I am. Indeed, who am I? Call me Manchode. The mountains are my church and my Wal-Mart. I am of a fraternity of like-minded men. Our group, the New Age Mountaineering Bros Lovin’ Alpinism (NAMBLA), has its own Facebook fan page that is so bitchin’ the FBI wants to

shut us down. The FBI leaves us alone, however, just so long as we “stay away from the kiddies.” We assume they’re talking about those fruit-boot-wearing posers who climb M-who-gives-a-crap! We Bros sometimes chat on Facebook about those teenyboppers and wonder, in our self-awareness vacuum, how they manage to diminish our importance so greatly. Why don’t they try climbing 5.8 in crampons and gloves? Dab! Effin’ dab! At this point, I need you to know that I’ve had many women. I’ve also climbed many mountains, but it’s always been a choice between the two. I’ve never expected a woman to understand the fathomless depths of my tortured existence. As a child, I played with trucks and swords. The girls played with dolls and stuffed animals. How could anyone—God, Buddha, Dr. Phil— ever expect man and woman to get along considering these initial and incompatible circumstances? Mountaineering has been my only escape from this Norman Rockwell suburban capitalist nightmare. When any relationship meets its bitter end, as they all have, I go soloing. In fact, I solo any time I don’t get my way. Out of the wellspring of this manic cry for attention have blossomed some of my proudest ascents. My most renowned work of art— and that is what my climbs are— Manchode Direct, was a route so ephemeral it crumbled and blew away as I climbed it. This crucial ascent was the result of the time I went to Chilis only to learn they had run out of baby-back ribs. Life is pain. Life is loneliness. But out of this pain and loneliness are moments of angst-solo brilliance. I. Am. Immortal. I completed my apprenticeship in that dojo of the New Zealand Southern Alps, once called a training ground for the Himalaya by some old bastard. The SoAlps are a “crucible” of mountaineering. Unlike a regular crucible, which is actually a ceramic pot used to melt and mix metals, these soaring peaks have rocks and frozen water. “Crucible” is the smartest, most poetic metaphor to describe

an alpine area. I can’t believe no one has ever used it before me. The first time I saw the SoAlps, I cried. An entire forest of mountains lay before me! My first objective would be the Minarets, a pair of twin peaks, milky-white with snow and possessing an indescribable feminine quality that I just couldn’t put my finger upon. I hoped to summit these beauties and then drink the elixir of life found at their tops. Only in this rarified position, sucking in the mountaineer’s rewards, would my soul be nourished. Now, if only I could get there … without dying. My partner for this pilgrimage to Mecca was Jésus, a scruffy hippie known for his ability to produce Phish on demand. He listened to the band constantly, like a man possessed. Jésus thought I was a pretty awesome climber. We’d spent many days practicing for the Real Thing at traditionally bolted sport crags. I established topropes for Jésus, and would then force this little Furby (furry gumby) to climb in his Koflachs. One time he couldn’t even follow what I had led. He was soooo impressed with me. Anyway, enough about him! Getting to the top of the Minarets is no cakewalk. It’s more of a glorified hike. First you must cross a football field of talus, five miles long in parts. Unlike the authors of most mountaineering stories, I wasn’t surprised by the difficulties of crossing the moraine and navigating the ensuing icefall that led up to our first bivy spot. Why is it so surprising that just getting onto the mountain is so difficult? Out of this ignorance, many overwrought descriptions about, of all things, talus, appear in trip reports. Well, in this tale, I’ll spare you that painful fate. But first, a poem: O talus! My talus! Our grand trip is just begun; Yet deep within my plastic boot, the bunions have already won. Our hut draws near, didn’t send Living in Fear, and Jésus is moving too slowly. But look at my hands, my Crazy Hands; I’ll strangle him tonight at dinner.

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tnb Jésus and I surpassed the talus and icefall by dusk, and reached an old hut built by the New Zealand Alpine Club in the 1970s. While Jésus chopped an onion, I dug through my rucksack [Fart Noise] for a few Cadbury chocolate eggs. I snuck one into my mouth and let out a little squeal of delight, but covered my mouth with my hand. The weather could turn at any moment, and if I were to survive the worst, I dared not share the happiness factory that is caramel-filled chocolate eggs. That night it snowed. We lay on musty wooden boards, and listened to the thundering noise of avalanches washing down a mountain, like a wave crashing into shore, only much louder. I dreamed I was a eunuch in ancient Egypt who built a pyramid for the pharaoh’s daughter.

your past life as an altar boy come back to haunt you. Sometimes I’d just be moving one foot in front of the other. It was like walking, only slightly more difficult. Strange, I thought this was climbing. After all, I was wearing crampons and a warm-when-wet action suit. When the boredom of walking up snow became unbearable, I recited my mantra. I am the best alpinist in the world at not having an ego. I am the best alpinist in the world at not having an ego. Then ... it happened! I heard a muffled cry, and turned around to see Jésus rocketing down the snowfield toward a crevasse. He was sliding, like an upside-down turtle, on his rucksack. His frustrated little arms and legs

Life is pain. Life is loneliness. But out of this pain and loneliness are moments of angstsolo brilliance. I.Am. Immortal. The next day dawned clear, and the real climbing started. We navigated up a steep ridge, post-holing through, what’s that Italian word for snow? Ah, yes: neve! [Fart noise.] The ridge soon became too steep for anyone but my hero, Peter Croft. Jésus and I entered a crevasse-ridden glacier, and roped up. It was like walking through a minefield, only it was a snowfield. The snowfield was steep and icy and rose-colored from the midday alpenglow. We walked across the 50-degree ice, first in pied canard then in pied a plat, and finally in pied allegro. Danger was everywhere. I was the route-finder, while Jésus, attached to me via a 30-meter rope, acted as a Furby counterweight that I was fully expecting at any moment to pull me down into that eternal abyss in the sky. The ability to plod forward mindlessly is actually what it means to be a mountaineer. You must remain present, create a tempo and hope no ghosts from 3 0 r o c k a n d i c e .co m 4 10 m a r c h

punched the air. “Self-arrest, dumbass!” I yelled. The rope came taut and pulled me off my feet. I accelerated down, totally out of control and shocked. I managed to heroroll into the piolet ancre position. Time slowed all around me. An apparition appeared in my periph. It was Royal Robbins. ... Hey, look! There’s the rest of the gang from Camp 4, too! They all look so happy and warm. There’s ol’ Chongo, drinking all my bourbon, snapping his fingers back and forth to explain time travel. Hey, I understand physics, too! Pappy’s there as well! Hey, Pappy! They were counting on me. I knew I could do it. I pressed all of my shoulder into the ice axe, self-arresting with the determination only found in someone who wants to live. Suddenly … we stopped! Our senses sharpened, making us feel more human than human, like Rob Zombie. We both laughed about how, this time around, Jésus Got Saved.


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tnb Though shaken, we were filled with new motivation to suffer. That night, we bivied under a little awning formed by a rock wall. I popped a chocolate Cadbury egg into Jésus’ mouth, and that filled him with glee. We slept a few hours, and rudely woke up around 1:00 a.m. How glorious! A true alpine start! I said a prayer of thanks for those three hours of sleep, and continued to freeze my nuts off in the dark. It’s for these moments that I climb. I cranked up the tunes in my head from the night before. Hold me closer, tiny dancer. After being on the move for five hours, we came to the realization that we were totally lost. It was very scary. We decided to wait until the sun rose above the ridge before doing anything else.

All of our training had come down to this one moment. I felt a warm, wet sensation within my gloved hands, my Crazy Hands. Palms are sweaty, Mom’s spaghetti. —Eminem I cast off into the unknown, free soloing moves as difficult to climb as they are difficult to grade. Soon I reached a belay perch. Now I could see the perky twin summits of the Minarets just off in the near distance. I let out an enormous whoop, and cried down to my partner that we were almost there! It wasn’t just that I had done it … I had done it without being killed by the Furby! “You’re on belay, Jésus,” I shouted, feeling the rapture. “Climb when ready … partner!” Thanks to all the training he

I immediately recognized a fantastic opportunity to contrive adventure, and decided to free solo the wall.

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We spent an hour stomping our feet to warm our toes and telling jokes about fruit boots. “So, a mixed climber walks into a Chamonix bar ...” When the sun rose—I mean, when the sun kissed the mountain with its tender alpenglow lips, rosy light beaming down from the heavens—we realized we were on the wrong side of the ridge. Fart noise! The snowfield leading to the Minarets’ summits was on the other side. That would involve some serious backtracking. Pouty-faced, I stamped my feet. I hate it when things don’t go my way! . Another plan formed in my mind’s eye. You’d have to be crazy to do it. But … we “could” climb up and over the “dead-vertical,” rime-plastered wall of this ridge, which was about “50 feet” tall. I immediately recognized a fantastic opportunity to contrive adventure, and decided to free solo the wall. Then, just like the good old days, I would belay Jésus up on a tight toprope. 32 r o c k a n d i c e .co m 4 10 m a r c h

had completed with me, Jésus got up the wall. It was good that he had a toprope, however, because he barely made it up this thing that, don’t forget, I had just free soloed. He joined me at the belay. The summits of the fetching Minarets were within grabbing distance. We embraced … for a long, long, looooooong time. Reaching an “actual” summit, however, would require some more tedious plodding in the snow. We were both really tired, and decided to call it quitsies. The thought of our hut, with its warmth and Cadbury eggs, made the decision easy. Besides, we had completed our route … by our standards. This was the logical end to our journey, and no matter what anyone says, reaching the summit is not the most important thing in the world. Achieving immortality, however, is. Andrew Bisharat walks through the valley of the shadow of death with rose-colored glacier goggles on.

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keith’s corner

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Jonathan Siegrist


am sitting at a friend’s house in Seattle when Jonathan “J Star” Siegrist decides he will start building a house of cards. Siegrist is fresh off his rampage in Kentucky’s Red River Gorge, where he destroyed nearly all the area’s hardest routes in just a handful of tries. Nonplussed, I watch the house rise to an impressive five card-stories tall. “When I was a kid,” Siegrist says, now whispering as he balances another card near the apex, “I used to tower these things at restaurants as high as the ceiling using coasters.” He then drops a card, and the house falls. “Building card houses is kind of like technical slab climbing,” Siegrist says. “You have to be delicate, balanced and precise.” As a guy who has climbed some of Colorado’s most technical hard routes, he would know. In just five years of climbing, Siegrist has redpointed Grand Ol’ Opry (5.14c) and Vogue (5.14b), and the trad routes Musta’ Been High (5.13c R/X) and Country Boy (5.13d)—to name a few ticks near his home in Boulder. This fall, Siegrist, on his first trip to the Red River Gorge, drove 19 hours there and headed straight for Lucifer (5.14c), at the time a contender for the hardest climb in the region. He tried it a few times that first day, and redpointed it the next day on his fifth try total. Lucifer was one of three 5.14c’s that Siegrist sent during that three-week trip, but his total tick list—with three 5.14a flashes and over a dozen 5.13 onsights as hard as 5.13c— rocketed J Star straight to local-legend status. “The Red is my newfound favorite area,” he says. “I can’t wait to get back. It has more potential for hard sport climbing than anywhere I’ve seen in the country. Next time I’m bringing a drill!” Prior to being a climber, Siegrist was a fanatical mountain biker. “I rode as much as I climb now, or more. I was most interested in freeride, although I did race both cross-country and downhill, where I placed well, but I have never been a gifted competitor. I just loved to ride.” At 19, Siegrist started bouldering as a way of cross training for biking, and switched gears to climbing. Now 24 and a graduate of Naropa University, Siegrist works as a route setter at the Boulder Rock Club, with a schedule that allows him to climb and travel. Growing up in Boulder as an only child, he traveled internationally on holiday nearly every year with his family, exposing him to an array of new cultures and experiences at an early age. At 16, he spent the summer alone and abroad in Borneo and Thailand. “I’ve been all across Europe and Asia and spent some time in Central and South America. These experiences have shaped my life more than anything I’ve ever read in a book or heard in a classroom. I would never be a rock climber if it didn’t involve opportunity to see the world. Thankfully, it does.” ■ 3 4 r o c k a n d i c e .co m 4 10 m a r c h

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PHOTO: dave Johnson Dave Johnson approaches the vanishing point on the South Face of Mount Hood, Oregon. Sony DSC-P8, f/7.1, auto exposure, ISO 100, 8.9mm lens.

PHOTO: josh garner Forest Wagner on the initial knife-edge ridge on Mount Logan’s (12,500 feet) East Ridge. Canon Powershot, 1/1,000 second, ISO 80, 6.20 mm lens.

ith October sliding into November, I had hopes for one more climb before the season changed for good and the snow locked up the mountains. At the entry station to the Ansel Adams Wilderness, in California’s Sierra Nevada, a white-haired ranger lectured me. “It dropped two feet of snow in there last weekend,” she said. “Yes, ma’am.” “If it snows again, we won’t come get you out. Your truck’ll be there till next June.” “I’ll keep an eye to the west,” I said. The ranger shook her head and let me through. “It will be beautiful back there,” she said. “Certainly will be.” In 1866, on a trip to climb the 11,527-foot Mount Clark, a geologist named Clarence King spotted a mile-long row of nailsharp peaks to the southeast. He named the range the Minarets, capturing their soaring geometry. The dangerous and inhospitable-looking Minarets kept climbers away for nearly 60 more years until Charles Michael climbed the first of their towers in 1923. Michael was Yosemite’s assistant postmaster, a position that entitled him and his wife, Enid, to a year-round residence on the Valley floor, and the freedom to explore the vast walls. The Michaels camped at Ediza Lake the day before they climbed their Minaret, and so did I. Perhaps those who come to catch trout and devour the views are unaffected by the history of this place, but I felt ill at ease here. In 1933, Walter Starr, Jr., a young, strong, Stanford-educated lawyer with a practice in San Francisco and a love for the Sierra, died alone on Michael Minaret trying to climb a new route. A search party five strong and led by Norman Clyde spent 10 days unsuccessfully searching the flanks of the Minaret for Starr’s body, but in the process managed to establish a number of new routes in the range. The search was called off, but Clyde stayed, determined to find Starr. He finally found Starr’s body on the west face, and buried him there, where he remains. The last picture taken in Starr’s camera was of the lake with the mountains in the background. To me, the place feels haunted. I had a book, but I did not want to read. I sat with my back against a rock and stared at the strange silhouette the Minarets formed with the backlight of the setting sun. I thought about the Michaels, ropeless and risking it all for these peaks over 80 years ago. My wife and I often climb together un-roped. Some couples take afternoon strolls around their neighborhood. Ashley and I go for afternoon climbs that take us to high places. Sometimes we chat, sometimes we move in silence. At the top we always feel refreshed and relaxed. By next morning, the sun touched the meadows above Ediza

Lake, warming away the frost that had cased every blade of grass. Red-and-black grasshoppers exploded from beneath my footsteps. There could have been a hundred thousand in a few acres. Judging by the number that escaped I must have crushed many. The land swelled up toward the Minarets and the meadows ventured no farther, giving way to great piles of brown rock, which in turn led to a solid, steep blanket of snow. The Michaels carried no equipment for snow climbing—no ice axes or crampons. In faithful imitation, I climbed as they did, eschewing modern gear both to better appreciate what they had done, and to experience the Minarets on their own basic terms. One step onto the snowfield suggested that matters were more serious than my soggy boots and numb hands. The freeze/thaw cycle had consolidated last year’s soft powder into steel-hard ice. On top of this lay the loose, new snow from the recent storm. My first kicked step collapsed as soon as I weighted it—the snow broke free and I slid back. I clawed my way up, digging through the upper layer to find hand and toe holds in the ice. I gained a hundred feet, then 200. I cursed the Michaels for not bringing ice axes, and myself for following them so slavishly. But mostly I thought about gloves and wool-lined pockets and cups of hot chocolate and all the other soft, warm things that I would give my fingers when we returned. I couldn’t see or feel the chinks in the ice supporting my boots, and imagined the fragile ripples and crusts crumbling and melting and sending me on a toboggan ride into the boulders hundreds of feet below. I reached North Notch 40 minutes later, damp, cold, somewhat shaken, and feeling foolish for having let myself be abused by the approach. Air spilled down toward the stonebound lakes far below. Twisted pillars and sharp points queued to the horizon. The Minarets are ancient metamorphic remnants hoisted skyward by the uplift of younger granite below. The way they jut out seems violent, as if the spires are trying to tear their way out of the earth. From North Notch, the Michaels had looked for a route to reach the skyline, but steep cliffs and dangerous climbing turned them back each time. Eventually they had come upon a narrow groove that ran up immediately to the north of what appeared to be the highest peak. They entered this deep chimney of water-worn rock and pulled, braced and pushed themselves higher and deeper. In three places, car- to house-sized chockstones wedged in the chimney forced the Michaels out onto the wall, where holds appeared. “Once more we must climb out [of the chimney],” Michael later wrote. “The walls were sickening in their smooth sheerness.” Michael first explored a tantalizing line he spied from his position below the third, and largest, chockstone. He called this section “the ladder with the lower rungs missing,” and though he tried several times, he was never able to reach the upper bars. Looking for other options, he found a subtle series of holds on a less-steep section of cliff. He managed to surmount the m a r c h 10 3 r o c k a n d i c e .co m 39

30-foot chockstone, but felt as though this line was “just a little too thrilling.” He requested that Enid stay where she was. She agreed. Before my trip, I had asked Ashley whether she would have stayed put under that chockstone. She has spent the last four years in medical school while I had taught rock climbing, so at least at that moment I was stronger. Still, she told me not to be an ass. Under no circumstances would she have sat under a rock and waited. I recalled one winter’s day in Joshua Tree when we spent the day soloing easy climbs together. I blundered onto a more difficult variation of one route and thrashed my way up out of pig-headedness, then spent a queasy five minutes watching her follow me. From above the chockstone, Michael climbed to a notch named the Portal, an arm’s-span wide that joined the shoulder of his Minaret to the next spire north. Positioned at the Portal, he might have been perched on a windowsill. Below his feet he could see the entire Shadow Lakes chain, from Ediza to Iceberg to Cecile, and in the distance the great eastern desert spread its shades of orange and tan and sage throughout the Sierra rain shadow. Michael was now only a few hundred feet below the summit, and he traversed and connected precarious ledges that brought him higher. “I had a feeling,” he wrote, “that the wall might give me a little shove on the shoulder and tip me into nothingness.” Soon he found himself with nothing left to climb and took in the mountaineers’ rewards: the view, the sense of space above with nothing solid to obstruct the sky, the “billowy sea of mountains” stretching to the far southern horizon. Down climbing is far more difficult than ascending, and Michael had found his route so unnerving that he opted to take the “ladder with the lower rungs missing” down. From below, still in the chimney, Enid directed her husband to the likeliest footholds. Upon reaching the last “rung,” he let go and dropped down to the floor of the chute, unharmed. Together the Michaels descended, reaching their camp at Ediza Lake at 3 p.m.

<> <> <> The land below the western half of the Minarets was pleated like an accordion. Deep ravines cut downhill from the peaks, crosswise to my own direction of travel. Angular rocks of all sizes made orange and

4 0 r o c k a n d i c e .co m 4 10 m a r c h

brown piles. Forward progress came slowly. I felt child-sized, my limbs too short for this landscape. When at last I reached the base of Michael Minaret, I could not mistake it even though I had neither picture nor route description with me. A warty finger of rock jutted up from the ground with no intermediate buttresses or peaks to hide its full height. To the north, the chiseled groove of the Michaels’ chimney dropped straight down to a little fan of snow tucked up in its shadows. After the endless approach, the sight of the peak gave my spirit the lift I had hoped for all morning. I entered the chimney and found a satisfying rhythm as I pushed and pulled and braced, just like the Michaels had, rapidly gaining height. Large holds set in solid rock allowed me to bypass the first and second chockstones and I soon found myself within sight of the third. I opted to try for the ladder with the lower rungs missing. I was curious to know what had scared Michael so badly on his path

A search party five strong and led by Norman C lyde spent 10 days

unsuccessfully searching the flanks of the Minaret for Starr’s body, but in the process managed to establish a number of new routes in the range. of ascent, and after years of pull-ups, was confident that if something there resembled ladder rungs, I’d be able to yank my way up. Surely anything a postman from the 1920s had climbed down, I could climb up. Half an hour later I had not moved. Lower rungs missing? I saw no upper rungs, either. Instead I found a cryptic puzzle of tiny edges that pointed in all the wrong directions above an uneven landing of sharp rock. I could not even guess where Michael had jumped down from on his descent, or where he could have landed without breaking his ankles or worse. No matter what sequence I tried, my right hand always ended up on the same fragilelooking flake, with a half-pad grip for the tips of three fingers. I stared at it, and though I wanted to go up, I could not bring myself to trust that scab of rock. Persistence took me nowhere. I walked

back down to the chimney floor, to see what Charles Michael, whom I now held in great awe, had climbed up instead. The line wasn’t that hard to spot, so I started climbing. From ledges big enough to stand up on, there were a few thin edges, a damp little finger slot hidden under a roof, and a vertically oriented fissure that I torqued my fingers into. The climbing was tricky, but the holds were there. I looked down. The wall was blank. From above, every hold was concealed. Twenty-five feet later, I was committed. The only option now was up. Eighty years after Michael’s ascent, the mountain had sprung the same trap on me. Lulled up a path that I would not dream of down climbing, I had only one option, to climb down a section I had already discounted as too difficult. Why did I go up? I went up because the holds were there. I climbed because I knew that I could do it, and to back down would allow the mountain to prove me wrong. The mistakes I have made in the mountains usually come about like this, times when I have reduced climbing to a pissing match that the mountain can’t lose, and I can only hope to pull through in a tie. I scrambled up the easier terrain of the open gully and reached the Portal to the summit ridgeline. I could not have been more unpleasantly surprised had I leapt from summer to winter in a single step. All day, I had scrambled and climbed through the dry, western aspect of the Minarets. Now, across a distance of 10 feet, I had returned to the east, and the snow. Great streaks of sparkling white slashed the mountain’s face on this side. The snow! The ranger had warned me, North Notch had tried to dissuade me, but now I had entered its domain. I teetered out above the east face, fighting to keep my wet boots in contact with slick stone. I only managed 30 or 40 feet out the ledge: far enough to see that the snow was just as deep and slippery as it looked, and to find that giddy feeling that dwells above long drops. Here is the beauty and folly of mountaineering: after all the risks taken and effort spent, the mountain can still shut you down just below its summit. There was nothing to be done about it. I headed back down the gully toward the dreaded ladder-without-any-rungs-at-all. Just then, something metal and brassy caught the sun. The flash had come from a crumbling buttress far up the left-hand wall

Daniel Arnold

of the gully. On it was a plaque dedicated to Walter Starr, Jr. that read: Walter “Pete” Starr, Jr. May 29, 1903 – August 30, 1933 A bold and passionate mountaineer of the Sierra Nevada, and a Stanford alumnus, Pete Starr died while attempting to solo a new route upon these flanks. He now stands in the grand company of those who have not returned. His name continues to live in the hearts of the young men and women that follow in his footsteps today, tomorrow, and forever. Grand company, perhaps, but not the kind of company one wants to keep. The immortality offered by the plaque never looked less appealing than from my stance on the crumbling buttress in sight of Starr’s grave. I descended to the top of the chimney and spent some time inside my own head. The cliff was hidden from view, but I had earlier stared at it for so long that I could picture the 40 feet of rock beneath me. I wanted the whole 40 feet to happen automatically—my mind would press “go” and my body would do the rest. Unlike Charles Michael, I would not jump. I did not trust the jagged floor. I would climb every move from first to last. I slithered a few feet down, latched my right hand onto the first hold of the rungless ladder, and began. I leaned far to the left and far to the right off sidepulls. My feet forced clumsy boots onto precise nicks set in the wall. I was worried and pleaded for time to think, but my body followed the program I had given it. I reached the little flake that had given me so much worry before, and used it because it was necessary and it would hold. And suddenly I was down. Visually, the amphitheatre was the same, of course, but the filters were different. On

Minarets Logistics What: The Minarets, a chain of 16 serrated peaks, are some of the most beautiful and striking formations in the Sierra Nevada of California. Located in the Ansel Adams Wilderness, the Minarets are part of the Ritter Range. Four alpine lakes—Ediza, Cecile, Iceberg and Minaret—surround the formations and attract fisherman, photographers and hikers. Dozens of routes range from scrambles to fifth-class climbing. Perhaps the crown tick is the Minaret Traverse (VI 5.9), a long adventure that combines an 8-mile approach with technical and exposed route finding along dangerously loose ridges, not to mention massive amounts of up-and-down climbing as you tag all 16 peaks. It is believed that Josh Shwartz holds the time record for the Traverse, ticking it in just under 17 hours, besting the previous fastest time held by Peter Croft. When: The Minarets can generally be climbed whenever route 203 over Minaret Summit is open. The road is closed in winter months due to extreme avalanche danger. For a full-on experience, the Minarets can be climbed in the winter, but your approach will begin way below at Mammoth Mountain ski lodge. Getting There: The trip begins in Mammoth Lakes (pop: 7,093), a

2.5-hour drive from Yosemite Valley (when Tioga Pass is open). After turning off route 395, follow 203 into town, and turn right at the second light to the main lodge of Mammoth Mountain. Between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7:30 p.m., you must take a shuttle bus ($7/person) from here—the shuttle leaves every 30 minutes. If you arrive during other hours, you may continue driving west on 203 (Red’s Meadow Valley) over Minaret Summit. This is a narrow road, one lane wide in many sections, with limited parking at both the Agnew Meadows and Devils Postpile trailheads. For a more scenic (and recommended) approach, start at Agnew Meadows and follow the Shadow Lake trail up to Ediza Lake (8 miles). On the way out, you can take the Minaret Lake trail to the John Muir trail to reach the trailhead at Devils Postpile (7 miles) and hop on a shuttle back to Agnew Meadows. Camping: Free permits are available from the ranger station. There are great campsites at Minaret Lake. Amphitheater Chute (5.7), Michael Minaret: Despite the strikingly similar-sounding features and route description, Amphitheater Chute is on the opposite side of Michael Mina-

ret from Michael’s Chute, the climb described in this article. A more technical climb, Amphitheater Chute begins at Amphitheater Lake and eventually meets up with Michael’s Chute at the Portal to share the same technical ridge to the peak’s summit. From Amphitheater Lake, hike up talus and the permanent glacier toward the steep and narrow gully/ chute right of the mountain. The three chockstones in the chute are the technical cruxes, with thirdclass scrambling in between. Bypass the first and easiest chockstone on the right. Consider roping up for the climbing around the right of the second chockstone (5.4) to reach a ledge to the left, then up a slab and finally back into the chute/chimney. The third and massive chockstone has two parts to it: Begin by climbing to its right to a point where you are below the second section of the stone; make some exposed moves left and continue. Scramble up to the notch between Michael and Eichorn Minarets. Down climb 30 feet and traverse southwest to another chute (look for a cairn) that leads up to the Portal. Follow a series of ledges east (left) to the summit. Gear: A 30-meter rope should suffice. If you’re worried about down climbing fifth class, bring a longer rope. Small to medium cams, slings, helmet.

the way up, Michael’s ladder had been shaded by desire and hope and fear. If I had reached the summit I might have looked out through colors of triumph or elation. But I mostly felt confused and hollowed out, and the rock looked simply like rock: gray, shadowed and cold. At 15, Daniel Arnold began climbing the Pacific Rim volcanos and basalt crags of his native Portland and went on to climb throughout North and South America. He lives in Southern California. This article was adapted from his first book, Early Days in the Range of Light, available from Counterpoint Press. m a r c h 10 3 r o c k a n d i c e .co m 41

Mount Washingtonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s five-star classic, Pinnacle Gully (NEI 3). Photo by David Le Pagne

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A mer ican b o r n s a w m s i n i p in al n o t g n i h s Wa on Mount shir e, ye t even N e w H a m pl u s t e r y p e a k o f f e r s t o d a y t h e bo u s c o m b i n a t i o n o f a hazar d ging r outes and c h a l l e n y w e a t h e r. deadl in B y Br ian I



Left: Negotiating the avalanche-prone Tuckerman Ravine. Above: No picnic on Mt. Washington. On the summit, where sub-zero temps are the winter norm and where the wind-speed record of 231 mph still holds. Right: Joe Lentini and Joe Klementovich simulclimb the moderate Boot Spur Trail. All Photos by Jose Azel/aurora photos


anuary 24, 2005: Paul Cormier looked like a mad scientist from the North Pole. His graying hairs shot out of the sides of his brown fleece hat, their tips frosted with rime and frozen sweat. Normally funny and sarcastic, Cormier was stone-faced as he fought constant 80-mph winds. Cord whipped around him; pack straps snapped at his hood as he struggled to build an anchor at the top of Damnation Gully (III NEI 3). The previous day Damian McDonald and Susanna Santala had left the Harvard Mountaineering Clubâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s backcountry cabin on the east slope of Washington. Santala had never climbed, but had rented equipment and was fit. The two left late in the day to climb the 1,000foot Damnation. Making slow progress, they topped out at dusk, but faced increasing winds and poor visibility. The below-zero temps and 70-mph gusts made it impossible to descend; the two were crawling against the wind using axes to claw their way forward. Exhausted, they sought shelter behind a few small rocks. While Cormier labored, his young partner Tim Martel leaned into the wind as he prepared to be lowered into the spindrift. The pair hardly spoke, not because of the wind but because they were looking for a couple who were probably dead.

This seven-pitch route’s crux is a dirty chimney that party member William Allis climbed “after much struggle and a certain amount of buoyant language.”


ount Washington is best known for its awful weather, alpine atmosphere and ease of access. It holds the world record for highest recorded land wind speed at 231 mph. The average daily wind speed is 32 mph and in winter two-thirds of the days see hurricane-force gusts. Typically, 250 inches of snow or more falls on the hill per year; couple this with temperatures that have reached -49 degrees F, and you have a dangerous brew for climbers, both in terms of exposure and avalanche potential. Despite the fact that in July nearby Cathedral Ledge can be sweltering, the highest temperature ever recorded on top of Washington is only 73 degrees F. The atrocious weather and easy access is why this mountain, a mere 6,288 feet high, has seen so many climbing accidents. More than 135 fatalities have been recorded here since 1849. However, for the same reasons, it’s one of the country’s best training grounds for alpine climbing in the higher ranges, drawing out a patchwork of talented climbers from Northern New England. Locals like Freddie Wilkinson (who lives in a shed) and Kevin Mahoney share belays with mentors like Steve “Father Time” Larson (F.A. South Face Mount Foraker, Alaska) and Tom Hargis (F.A. Northwest Ridge Gasherbrum IV, Pakistan). During accidents, nationally known rescue instructors like Alain Comeau pitch

complicated anchors into the ice like darts while humble hardmen like Kurt Winkler tend to loaded rescue litters as they tenuously scratch their way down icy slopes and crumbling rock bands. Many of the accidents on Washington are a result of the hill’s unique weather, poor human judgment, or both. The eastern side of the mountain is more unstable: avalanches are common, and although more of an issue for skiers, they often play a role in climbing accidents. In November of 2002, 11 antsy climbers, in three separate groups, were climbing in Tuckerman Ravine. Three soloists topped out as a second party pitched out moderate ice below. A third party was at the base of the “Open Book,” Tuck’s fattest early-season pitch. An avalanche, whose crown face was above many of the climbers, ripped out and swept the line, leaving the roped party of two hanging from a screw anchor mid-route. Five escaped the slide, however four climbers were buried in avalanche debris in the bowl of the ravine. Two climbers were recovered quickly; however two other climbers were not as fortunate. Even with an incredible response time from the Snow Rangers, the avalanche dog and local hut caretakers, the rescuers couldn’t save the lives of the two deceased, one of whom was found by following the climbing rope he was holding (but not yet tied into), the other by probe. The slide had run over 1,000 feet.

Avalanches also strike Huntington Ravine, where most of the technical climbing is located. Last spring a party, again climbing underneath another party, was swept by a slide while climbing North Gully (III NEI 3). The lead climber was knocked over and sent 50 feet down the gully. The strength of his unanchored belayer and fixed protection left the two hanging from either end of the rope, battered, but alive. Huntington’s face is the steepest on the mountain and is split by two primary buttresses, Central and Pinnacle. In 1910 the forbidding, dark Pinnacle Buttress was climbed by a party of four lead by George A. Flagg. The climbers used a clothesline to protect the steeper sections and soloed the remainder. The entire climb was carefully documented in Flagg’s sketchbooks, which confirm not only the topography, but the cruxes, which were rated as “bad” or “very bad.” The route quickly became the litmus test for the era’s alpine frontiersmen. Eighteen years later, on October 14, 1928, Robert Underhill, Ken Henderson and three others made the first complete ascent of The Northeast Ridge of the Pinnacle (III 5.7), one of the East’s premier alpine rock routes. Described in a 1928 issue of Appalachia, this seven-pitch route’s crux is a dirty chimney that party member William Allis climbed “after much struggle and a certain amount of buoyant language.” Other difficult steps were m a r c h 10 3 r o c k a ndi c e .co m 45

On a descent from the summit: Michael Finnegan, an intern at the Mt. Washington Observatory, Michelle Day, from the University of New Hampshire, and a staff scientist fo the National Forest Service, brace against 80 mph winds. Photo by Jose Azel/Aurora Photos


Any. Summer and early fall are best for rock climbing if you like dry stone. But don’t count on it, nor mild conditions. It can snow any month on The Rockpile. Ice starts to form as early as October in Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines, and by late November quality ice conditions are almost a sure bet. Snow climbing is best in early spring, when neve starts to form. The weather is fickle on Washington, but despite its intensity, this peak will provide a great experience for properly prepared climbers of any level. It is beautifully accessible.


Dolly Copp Campground is just north of Pinkham Notch, the primary trailhead for Huntington and Tucks, on NH 16. The only camping within the drainage that includes Huntington and Tuckerman is at Hermit Lake (lean-tos and tent sites), 2.3 miles uphill from Pinkham, or at the Harvard Cabin just off the fire road toward Huntington Ravine. Pinkham Notch Visitor Center has a Lodge, but make reservations well in advance.


: Aside from the stiffer rock climbs, a standard rock or ice rack will get you up almost anything. Bring hat, gloves and extra layers, even in summer. In winter, consider packing a stove and bivy kit. These items have saved more than one life.

Guide services: Mahoney Alpine

Adventures (; International Mountain Climbing School (www.ime-usa. com); Synnott Mountain Guides (www.; Eastern Mountain Sports Climbing School (

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overcome by having one climber stand on the shoulders of another. Regardless of this technique, the popular climbing clothing of the generation was a derby hat, jacket and tie, demonstrating the era’s interpretation of what it meant to climb in good style. More difficult variations were later established by Underhill and Fritz Wiessner. Other quality alpine rock routes and scrambles dot the apron of Mount Washington, however they are either undocumented or under-documented. Unnamed dihedrals and cracks ranging from 5.6 to 5.10 teeter above Tuckerman Ravine just under the Lion’s Head buttress, the path that leads to Washington’s summit. Three buttresses, which go by names ranging from the Cathedrals to Larry, Curly and Moe, crown the Boot Spur Ridge, hovering over some of Tuckerman’s steepest couloirs, which are fine snow climbs in themselves. These buttresses and ridges harbor surprisingly solid rock, and the lack of chalk and boot-black provide climbers with a sense of adventure and exploration. One of Washington’s most remote and exposed cirques is the giant, 1,800-foot deep Great Gulf. A stout 6.5-mile approach makes climbing the ravine’s 1,000-foot headwall a serious endeavor, despite the moderate nature of its ice routes, which are no harder than NEI 3. They are poorly documented,

but the first recorded ascent was impressive, requiring twice the distance of the modern approach. The giant north face was climbed in 1905 by three Appalachian Mountain Club employees, George Whipple, Warren Hart and Herschel Parker, who is perhaps best known for exposing Frederick Cook’s false claim to the first ascent of Denali. The climb required laborious step chopping. According to Whipple, a fall would have resulted in spending “the rest of [their] lives sliding down a snow slope.” Better known and more frequently visited than the Great Gulf, Huntington Ravine is home to some of the country’s most important early ice-climbing accomplishments, ushering in a new period of advancement in American alpinism. Dartmouth climbers John Holden and Nathaniel Goodrich tackled Central Gully (II NEI 2) in 1927. Within two years, neighboring Odell Gully (II NEI 3) was climbed by its brazen namesake, Noel Odell, a visiting British geologist. Cutting steps, Odell and his party surmounted steep ice bulges and sustained alpine ice, conquering what was, at the time, the boldest climb on Washington. Huntington’s five other mixed snow and ice climbs fell over the next two decades; Damnation Gully was the last to be climbed, in early 1943 by William L. Putnam and Andrew J. Kaufman. While it

The climb required laborious step chopping. According to Whipple, a fall would have resulted in spending the rest of [their] lives sliding down a snow slope. is the longest alpine route in Huntington, it is often overlooked by climbers in pursuit of one of New England’s most classic plumbs, Pinnacle Gully (III NEI 3+). The first ascent of Pinnacle Gully, formerly known as Fall of the Maiden’s Tears, is, according to Northeast climbing historians Guy and Laura Waterman, “the landmark climb of prewar northeastern ice.” Various Yale and Harvard climbers, including Bradford Washburn, had eyed or attempted the climb, but it wasn’t until the relatively inexperienced Julian Whittlesey and Sam Scoville kicked steps up to the top of Pinnacle that alpinism took this leap forward, as the Watermans contend, in terms of “vision and mental attitude.” For the next four decades Pinnacle Gully stood as the most feared and difficult winter route in the Northeast. However, as with most ice routes established during the era, Pinnacle’s reputation for challenge diminished after Yvon Chouinard introduced America to short tools, innovative picks and the revolutionary front-point technique. Using this arsenal, he and Jim McCarthy climbed Pinnacle Gully for the first time without the need for stepcutting during the winter of 1970. By today’s standards most of the climbs, both rock and alpine, on Mount Washington are considered moderate. Huntington’s bulky

Central Buttress holds a few difficult, stellar lines, like Mechanic’s Route (III 5.10b) and Roof of the World (III 5.11d). These two routes were established by Ed Webster, the first solo and the second with Kurt Winkler, in 1987. While most of Mount Washington is climbed out, there is still some potential, although as Webster found on Mechanic’s Route, ancient pins and even manila slings are occasionally discovered, lending doubt to any claims to virgin ground. The most recent new activity has been a trio of steep lines, including an A2 crack, that climb the huge, lichen-splattered overhanging wall of Pinnacle Buttress, established in 2004 by Aleksey Shuruyev, Katya Vorotnikova, Sergei Motusevich and Dimitry Shirokov. Despite their moderate difficulty, climbs on Washington frequently turn into horror shows with the addition of cataclysmic weather, blowing fog and avalanches. Last year a climber was killed by an avalanche on Odell Gully. In 2001 a ruptured ice dam sent the Harvard Mountaineering Club Hut’s caretaker Ned Green down Damnation to his death. In 1982 Albert Dow, a member of Mountain Rescue Service, was buried by an avalanche while on a search and rescue mission to locate two missing climbers. They survived. Dow did not. A rescue cache in his honor now stands in the floor of Huntington Ravine.


s rime slowly grew on the rocks around McDonald and Santala, their body temperatures fell. It was 17 degrees below zero without the wind chill, and SAR teams were in a race against time. Martel and Cormier labored in the whiteout, rime ice building on their hoods. Higher on the mountain, unbeknown to the two rescuers, Santala and McDonald were becoming profoundly hypothermic, but had successfully endured the night. McDonald, in single boots, had suffered severe frostbite, partially in an attempt to shield his partner from the incessant winds. Surviving an open bivy on Mount Washington is unlikely, as is a break in the weather. Miraculously, at around 8:30 a.m., both of those improbabilities occurred. The clouds thinned, allowing Marc Chauvin, an Everest veteran and local guide, to spot the pair, frostbitten and wind-bludgeoned but alive. A thousand feet below, barely visible, the red cross on the door of the Dow cache peeked through the trees for an instant before the gray, lifeless fog of Mount Washington once again swallowed it. Brian Irwin is a member of Mountain Rescue Service and the Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol. A frequent contributor to Rock and Ice, he lives in Madison, New Hampshire. m a r c h 10 3 r o c k a ndi c e .co m 47

Simon Yates and Paul Schweizer gamble on the first alpine-style ascent of the Southwest Spur of Mount Vancouver. By Paul Schweizer Art By Jeremy Collins


But Simon and I could hardly complain—the weather was perfect, the route looked superb, and our pilot had landed us exactly where we wanted: at the foot of Mount Vancouver’s stunning southwest spur. On top of that, the snow was unexpectedly consolidated and firm. Didn’t even need skis. With no wallowing at all we unloaded the plane, and after watching it disappear into the glaring distance we set up basecamp on the very spot. Simon and I had been to the Saint Elias Range before, in the spring of 2005, when we did a big new route on the West Face of Mount Alverstone. While casting about for a suitable unclimbed objective in the region, I’d chanced upon a Bradford Washburn photo The crevasse was giant—wide and cavernous, of the South Face of Mount Vancouver, pubexuding a silent chill from its blue depths. But lished in the 1994 American Alpine Journal. the remains of a collapsed snow bridge overhung The photo highlights two long and totally both sides at a narrower constriction. Trying classic spurs—one was the South Spur, not to look directly down the smooth walls, I climbed by Pilling and Diedrich in 1993. But <> <> <> attempted to judge the distance between them the South West spur to its left, overall steeper and gauge how reliable the overhanging snow After 36 hours in transit from the U.K., and more knife-edged, had apparently never was. It looked as though the two feet jutting we arrived in Whitehorse, capitol of the been done. The line portrayed in the blackfrom each side might hold body weight. This Yukon, well past midnight local time. We and-white image had drawn us all the way reduced the net distance to around eight feet. spent the next day in a disoriented state in from Britain. I was in pure objective mode now. After seven supermarkets and gear shops, buying all our Sometimes reality can disappoint, but grueling days on the mountain, out standing in the blazing sunshine and of food and running on reserves, we gazing up at the spur itself, we could couldn’t afford the luxury of fearful if Simon didn’t make it he’d be stuck see that it was even better than we’d speculation. Eyes take in data and hoped: 8,000 vertical feet of sharp in the crevasse with no real hope brain puts out an evaluation. and soaring ridgeline, capped by an of getting him out. Our situation “Yeah, OK, I’ll jump the thing.” imposing wall of ice gargoyles guardwas a weird mirror of his and Joe I took one more look and stamped ing the summit. The gargoyles had a take-off mark in the overhanging to be enormous, because they were Simpson’s, 14 years before, when snow. Simon plunged both tools in clearly visible to the naked eye even Simon was forced to cut the rope for a belay, heels dug in. He meafrom here, forming a jagged and between them to save his life. sured out another 12 feet of rope majestic crown. and locked his belay device. This was going to be a big and I backed up 20 feet from the edge, stopped expedition food and other remaining supcommitting climb, and I was glad I was and took a moment to get psyched. Then I plies. The following day we trundled by shutwith Simon—an alpinist hardened by more looked down at my harness and realized that I tle van along the Klondike Highway, up and than three decades of intense experience wasn’t adequately prepared to get myself out of over the mountains before dropping down to in mountains the world over. Simon cut his the crevasse if I botched the jump. sea level and the airstrip in Skagway, Alaska, teeth on a host of hardcore routes in ScotIt was cold and I could feel my hands and where we met our pilot, Paul Swanstrom. land and the Alps, including the Eiger North brain starting to go numb. We’d been on the go An amiable and highly skilled operator, he’d Face, the Walker Spur and Colton/McIntyre for nearly 14 hours, with only two granola bars been recommended to us by the Alaskan vetroutes on the Grandes Jorasses, and solos and some tea for breakfast. I’d already packed eran Jack Tackle. of Point Five Gully and Minus One on Ben away the slings. If I fell 15 feet down the icy Swanstrom flew us and all of our hastily Nevis. And of course he did the first ascent assembled ballast across the fjord to Haines, of the difficult West Face of Siula Grande maw that’s probably where I’d remain. But such where we spent the rest of the afternoon in (20,853 feet) in the Cordillera Huayhuash reflections served no purpose if I wasn’t going his hangar, sorting and repacking. Then a range with Joe Simpson back in 1985, with to grab my etriers, so I ignored the nagging night out in Haines to sample the local bars the ensuing ordeal of trying to rescue Joe internal voice—and jumped. and brews. after he broke his leg on the descent. I let out a little victory whoop. Then we Flying in from sea level and getting dumped As a partner, Simon is utterly sound and hauled the sacks across, and I got ready to belay Simon, who was measuring the ground. on a glacier at 8,000 feet in the blazing midhas impeccable mountain sense. He’s a I noticed that he was limping slightly on his day sun isn’t the best way to cope with the straightforward and down-to-earth bloke right leg. He’d twisted it plunging through a effects of too much drink and not enough who relishes climbing, and we have a very snow bridge earlier on the descent. Not ideal sleep, especially when you’re still jet-lagged. good rapport. There are always huge uncer5 0 r o c k a n d i c e .co m 4 10 m a r c h

for jumping an ugly crevasse at the end of a very long day. Then it occurred to me that if Simon didn’t make the jump he’d be stuck in the crevasse just like I would have been. I’d be holding the rope with a crappy snow belay in the fading light, getting colder and colder with no real hope of getting him out. Our situation was a weird mirror of his and Joe Simpson’s, 14 years before on Peru’s Siula Grande, when Simon was forced to cut the rope between them to save his life. That choice resulted in one of the most harrowing mountain epics ever written, Simpson’s Touching the Void. I’d always thought that Simon had made the right choice. The entire epic and its aftermath showed his amazing strength of character. But I’d sure as hell never want to be faced with that decision nor have to go through what he did. And besides, I had no idea where my knife was stashed.

keith ladzinski

Simon Yates, who nearly had the tables turned on him during a fast and bold ascent of Canada’s Mount Vancouver.

tainties, endless judgment calls and the potential for life-and-death struggles on this sort of endeavor, and it’s vital to climb with someone dependable.

<> <> <> We packed and sorted and on the following morning started the route in the gray dawn.

The first obstacle was an awkward bergschrund that Simon negotiated. Then a 1,000-foot headwall at the back of the cirque to reach a col and the ridge proper. The neve was fairly good and we wanted to get over this second obstacle as fast as possible, to avoid the continual slush avalanches and rock fall that we’d observed from basecamp, so we climbed unroped. The

sun was blazing by the time we reached the col and I was drenched in sweat. We ascended the broad and gentle ridge up and over a subsidiary rise and down into another col. We knew from basecamp surveillance that this would be the last blatantly flat spot to bivy, but it was only 1 p.m. and we sure weren’t stopping. The ridge got steeper and narrower above the second col, with sheer drops developing on the right. The vertical brink forced us onto the more open face to the left. We roped up for the surprisingly exposed mixed ground on the west side of the ridge and made steady progress as the day wore on, finally regaining the ridge crest early in the evening where we found a spot to hack out a precarious tent platform. The temperature plunged with the setting sun. Day two brought more perfect weather and mixed climbing, followed by a long icy traversing section to outflank a steep rock buttress. Again it was baking hot and I was soaked with perspiration after every lead. Serious dehydration was setting in, but there was no way to drink enough to reverse it. We were still making good progress, but as our second day gradually waned, the actual scale of our undertaking dawned on us. We’d more or less blasted up Mount Alverstone’s 6,000-vertical-foot West Face and summited on Day 2, but this was turning into a more protracted and sustained affair. A striking aspect of mountains in the Alaska/Yukon region is that even though the absolute height above sea level isn’t comparable in most cases, the net vertical baseto-summit relief is often Himalayan in scale. Late in the day we rejoined the narrow crest of the ridge and hacked out another exposed tent site. The views from our aerie were breathtaking—to the south, basecamp was still visible as a small dot on the flat glacier 4,000 feet straight down, and beyond it a huge and open vista of heavily glaciated mountains stretched to the shimmering blue of Disenchantment Bay. Our tent door faced west, toward the twin giants Mount Logan and Mount Saint Elias, with the burning sunset and hazy pacific on the horizon. It was a good place to be, reclining in my warm down bag with the hanging stove purring away in the bivy tent, perched thousands of feet up on an icy knife edge in the midst of a vast mountain wilderness. It was curious to reflect on how long I’d been climbing and how much I still loved it. I’m 53 now, and started climbing at Tahquitz Rock in Southern California way back in 1973. I’ve been fortunate enough to survive a number of epics and close calls in mountains all over the planet, from Alaska to the Andes, m a r c h 10 3 r o c k a n d i c e .co m 51

Alps, Himalayas, the Karakorum, Tien Shan and the Scottish Highlands. But the epics seem to get less frequent with time. Alpine climbing, especially on a big new route, is a perilous journey into the unknown, and this is a large part of its power. The danger and uncertainty, the magnitude of risk, serve to put our freedom into absolute focus. No one was forcing us to be here and no one had the right to stop us—we freely chose to place ourselves in this awesome and unpredictable scenario. And while epics can and do happen all the time, the opposite is also the case. Sometimes everything goes right, and you’re gifted the perfect mountain.

of a frozen cavity suspended over the abyss. I wanted to survive, and was prepared to beat the living shit out of the ice slope for as long as it took. The arctic storm rampaged all around us, there was nothing to drink, and our food was buried somewhere in the collapsed tent. We spent the entire day just hacking out a hole in the ice, and it was a terrible struggle. The knuckles of my gloves were trashed and my wrists ached from the repeated impact. By the end of the day we finished carving a grotto big enough for the two of us, then made numerous trips back to our ruined camp for food and equipment. The storm continued unabated for the next three days and nights, but it was <> <> <> strangely peaceful inside our womb and we It was almost too good to be true, but day got lots of sleep. four dawned beautiful and clear. With some One day, as we were working to expand trepidation we approached the looming rock our living quarters, Keith’s axe struck an old tower. Simon traversed left on hard, shaded ice woolen glove encased in the ice. to the base of the chute, but the passage still “What the fuck!” he shouted. “There’s a looked hemmed in by rock walls. I climbed body in there!” <> <> <> steep tricky mixed ground to enter the chute He chipped apprehensively and was soon and kept going on good ice. It was early and the I’d climbed the Cassin Ridge with Keith Echrelieved to find that the glove didn’t contain chute was cold and deep in shadow. elmeyer, a rugged and highly accomplished a cadaverous hand. We continued mining As I got higher it was looking less promising glaciologist, mountaineer and bush pilot into the slope and uncovered a cache of old all the time—the small couloirs we’d seen gear—ancient etriers with wooden rungs, from below were all fading into steep rock coils of braided rope. Then we excavated a Keith’s a xe struck an old gullies higher up and I had little hope of large bag of rice with Japanese writing on finding my way out. But the ice continued woolen glove encased in the ice. the brown paper packaging. up and left into a corner, so I kept going. “Maybe this stuff was left by the original “What the ... !” he shouted. Another 30 feet and I was nearly at the Japanese Couloir team,” Keith mused. “There’s a body in there!” foot of the rock wall where the ice chute “Looks like the right vintage.” ended. I’d resigned myself to grim future The equipment was of no use, but we prospects. Almost at the rock wall, a narrow, whom I’d known for years. We’d flown in as kept the tattered bag of rice since we were nearly melted-out ice runnel appeared up on the last remaining party flew out, so we had running low on food. The storm eventually the left, which connected directly to the upper the entire mountain to ourselves. subsided and we continued on and reached ice ridge. I let out a yelp of joy. Incredible—our On the approach to the Cassin we were the summit as a new storm arrived. We were asses were saved! It’s moments like this that nearly obliterated by a massive serac avatrapped again in a blizzard at 19,500 feet on make climbing such an addictive experience. lanche in the aptly named Valley of Death. At the way down and finally descended the East I’d done the Cassin Ridge on Denali back in the end of the third day, at about 16,500 feet, Buttress by compass in a whiteout. For the 1987, and although it had a few hard sections, we dug a tent platform near the bottom of a last two days all we had left to eat was the much of the route was just romping up cushy long 55-degree snow slope. During the night we Japanese rice. snow, often quite sheltered from exposure. But were hit by the worst storm I’ve ever encoun<> <> <> now we weren’t doing any romping, mostly tered. The slope became a torrent of funnelfinding ourselves on our front-points. And the ing snow, and despite our best efforts the tent Day five again dawned clear and blue. But yawning drop straight down to an icefall on got buried and then finally collapsed from the now there was a feeling of real urgency—we the Seward Glacier many thousands of feet weight, the poles breaking at 3:30 a.m. We knew the splitter weather couldn’t continue, below put our committed situation into sharp emerged from the crushed tent into a howling we’d only brought five days of food, and were white hell—visibility about 10 feet, 80 mph faced with an imposing wall of gargoyles. relief. We had no back up and not very much winds, minus 20°F. We tried to excavate a cave We broke camp quickly and regained the gear. Retreat at this point would have been in the slope but it was like digging into a sand crest of the spur with sensational exposure extremely problematic, especially since we’d dune. The tent and all our equipment steadily following an icy cornice fracture line to steep opted to leave the satellite phone in basecamp. disappeared under the flowing powder. Then ice slopes leading up to the rime headwall. I But we’d both agreed it was the right thing to I remembered noticing a slight cornice at the headed for a narrow central gully between two do, and would make our departure into the far end of the slope, above a gully that dropped wildly protruding mushrooms. The ice was getunknown more definitive. Now the only real ting hard and the weight of my rucksack too way down was up. down the edge of a neighboring face. Maybe much, so I had to put in some screws and belay At first we were relieved to be moving on we could dig a cave there? I sifted through the early, directly beneath a threatening wave-like higher ground above the rock tower, but then debris and found my harness. Keith belayed as I formation erupting from the left gully wall. our concern became directed toward the final groped through the blinding spindrift, dropped Simon tied his sack to the anchor and obstacle—the wall of ice gargoyles looming down into the gully and found myself in the lee 52 r o c k a n d i c e .co m 4 10 m a r c h

overhead. From this perspective it looked like the Emperor Ridge on Mount Robson, with the actual summit quite distant from where our spur intersected this last defense. There were lines of weakness between the protruding features, but it was impossible to gauge the angle because the gargoyles themselves were overhanging. It looked like we’d be faced with a heinous and sustained traverse of the gargoyles to reach the actual high point and the South Summit. Could take another long day at least. The weather was holding, but huge lenticular cloud caps, like luminous flying saucers, formed over Logan and Saint Elias during the afternoon—never a good omen. Late in the afternoon we reached a shoulder and hacked out our fourth tent platform as the temperature plummeted. We were far up in the sky now. The air was perfectly still and we were bathed in rosy light as the sun slowly lowered over a vast white wilderness of endless mountains.

ventured up steepening ice into the constricted channel. The scene became surreal as he climbed through an almost completely enclosed tube of ice and rime before disappearing from view. Some time later, after most of the rope was out, a lengthy pause ensued and then the ropes pulled tight. I yelled but couldn’t hear anything, so I assumed this meant I was on belay and started climbing. I could barely squeeze through the ice tube with my sack on, and had no idea what would happen above. It suddenly widened into a shallow basin, followed by a steep, narrow exit runnel capped by an awkward pull through an overhang. I saw Simon, only 30 feet above, contentedly belaying on flat and open ground. I couldn’t believe it. Instead of intersecting the crest of some nightmare ridge far from the highest point, the runnel ended on a flat snowfield, and the remaining lump of a gargoyle forming the main right wall of our gully was actually the summit! I reached Simon and the summit plateau in a euphoric state. “Man, it’ll be a long time before I do anything that good again.” “Exactly what I was thinking,” replied a very happy Simon. The views were phenomenal, the air was completely still and we were immersed in serene afternoon light standing on the South Summit of Mount Vancouver (15,700 feet) after having been in North America for only nine days. We shook hands and agreed it was one of the best routes we’d ever done.

didn’t have his sack on. What could this mean? “You’re not going to believe it. There’s a huge crevasse splitting the entire length of the ice fall with no end in sight. We’re going to have to jump across it.” I could tell by Simon’s demeanor that this wasn’t a minor obstacle. We trudged back up to the edge of the crevasse where Simon had dumped his gear. My heart sank when I saw it. Alpinism is a baffling interplay of chance, determination and skill. Every time you venture into the mountains, an epic or even a fatal disaster are real possibilities, and it would be delusional to think otherwise. Especially when climbing a major new route alpine-style, the margins on food and gear are shaved to the bone, and it’s never a foregone conclusion that the line will even go. Storms, extreme cold, altitude, serious technical climbing, the potential for avalanches and rock fall create a position of great exposure. Freely choosing to tread the thin line, and then succeeding, is immensely satisfying—it’s an essential part of the magic. But chance is always a huge factor, and it can all go horribly wrong in the blink of an eye as it did on Siula Grande when Joe fell and busted his leg. Simon did all that was humanly possible to try and rescue him. When they were finally stuck for good and he couldn’t do anything more to save his partner, he was forced into a desperate choice: hold onto the rope until they both died, or cut it and possibly save himself. No one can foresee the future nor

second guess all the complex ramifications of a simple action. At the time it appeared that neither would live if Simon didn’t cut the rope, but by doing so it turned out that he saved them both. The moment of crisis calls for a decisive response, and it’s always a gamble. Gazing into the still and empty depths of the crevasse, here was the void again, and a definitive action was required. I gambled first and made the leap. But we both had to get across, and the wheel of fortune was still turning.

<> <> <> Simon made the jump and we both started laughing uncontrollably with exhaustion and relief. We trudged into basecamp at 10:30 p.m. on day seven and gorged on whatever we could find that didn’t require preparation—cheese, salami, peanuts, fig bars, canned fruit. We were fatigued and dehydrated, but that was no reason not to celebrate. Simon opened a bottle of cask-strength Laphroaig he’d acquired at the Heathrow Duty Free. Some refreshingly cold melted snow was ready on the MSR. A slight variation on the old Yukon Gold Ale slogan provided a particularly apt take on the situation. “Melt the snow. Thin the whisky. Life is good.” Paul Schweizer and Simon Yates would like to thank the Mount Everest Foundation and the Mountaineering Council of Scotland for their generous support.

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paul knott

The wind picked up and a storm blew in

during the night. We were stormbound on day six with just a leftover packet of mashed potatoes for dinner. Thankfully day seven dawned clear, and a breakfast of two granola bars and some tea was the last of our food. We’d planned to descend the Centennial Route, but ended up continuing down the East Ridge to a dead-end side spur. We had to regain height and do a long series of unpleasant rappels down its south side to a low basin, cross that, ascend another ridge and make more raps down the other side to finally end up a ways down glacier from our cirque. It was a long day and we were burned out, but by evening all the major hurdles seemed to be over—except for a tedious uphill slog through an icefall. We’d been through plenty of icefalls in our time, and this one didn’t look serious. My mind went into autopilot as we plodded along unroped. I was slowly weaving my way up and through the crevassed and undulating terrain when I saw Simon in the distance far to the left, coming back towards me. At first I thought he’d been outflanked by a crevasse and forced to backtrack. But I noticed that he

postscript All the information available to us at the time indicated that the SW Spur had never been done. But after we returned, a newly unearthed Japanese magazine article from the day revealed that the ridge had actually been siege-climbed by a large Japanese expedition in 1968, starting from the Canadian-Yukon side. We had done the first alpine-style ascent,

with a new start from the Alaskan side, but not the first ascent overall. Conditions have changed dramatically after 41 years of global warming—it was apparently loaded with snow in 1968, and the actual features we climbed would have been buried. Now the ridge has melted down to the underlying ice, neve and rock. It was hard work for us even to hack out tent

platforms, whereas the Japanese dug snow caves every night. Still, it must have been a remarkable climb for the era. In line with common practice at the time, they climbed the ridge “expedition style” with a 10-member team, using fixed ropes and camps. Three of their team died in the process, and after 13 days on the mountain only two reached the summit.

m a r c h 10 3 r o c k a n d i c e .co m 53

Wild country. The Makalu massif, with Makalu II just to the left of Makalu main. On the far horizon, upper left, is the Kanchenjunga massif.

When a climber fell ill at 22,000 feet, convulsing s, and unconscioue Betsy Whit , the sole woman climber on their expedition, spearheaded the rescue.

M a k a l u

n o e u Resc Namgyal Sherpaâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;Project Himalaya

In one of the mosst-t heroic and lea known efforts in the Himalaya, she went up whenn. others went dow By Alison Osius

n the broad glacier filling the north side of the basin enclosed by the rock walls of Makalu I and II stood a red four-man REI dome tent. Within lay a 22-year-old whom a doctor at basecamp judged as stricken with cerebral edema, who must be brought down immediately. The rescuers struggling up the glacier in a whiteout to reach him expected the lone man still to be comatose, but just hoped he would be alive. Following wands, some of which had blown over, on the smooth-looking surface flecked

most difficult endeavor in climbing. “Mike, wake up,” she urged. “Wake up and help us get out of here.” Warburton only moaned. She pressed water and then tea on him, but most dribbled out of his mouth. Betsy and her Nepali companions piled foam pads onto a pack frame, lashed the lanky man onto it, and tried dragging him, but only progressed about the distance of two city blocks before sunset. They stopped until morning. “We spent a terrible night,” she recalls, “with Mike thrashing around, [and] the Nepalis smoking and cooking all night to keep warm. I lay next to Mike, trying to keep him in his bag.” He rolled about, and tried to crawl out. She was 5’9,” and weighed about 130 pounds. Mike was 6’2” and 220. She tried to catch moments of sleep, worried but impatient for morning so she could begin the huge task at hand. That day Betsy, from among all the people on the mountain, had become the sole determinant in saving the life of Mike Warburton.

<> <> <> On April 19, 1980, a small, self-financed

expedition had set off for Makalu II (7,678 meters), also known as Kangjungtse, a subsidiary peak northwest of the pyramidal

ber of the Berkeley climbing community. Gene, 45, was a civil engineer, specializing in water resources and irrigation, particularly in developing countries. He had been climbing widely for 25 years, with first ascents in the Purcell Range, British Columbia. Jim, 41, was a philosophy professor at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, with climbs of the Matterhorn, Rainier and peaks in the American and Canadian Rockies. Betsy, also 41, a graduate of Smith College with a PhD in International Studies, had taught at San Francisco State, and in January had begun what would become a 21-year-stint at the Asia Foundation. Also a longtime climber, whose experience included travels to Peru, Nepal and Pakistan, she had been invited on Arlene Blum’s landmark Annapurna expedition of 1978, but describes herself as “luckily” being pregnant at the time. Considering that she was fit, a 3:20 marathon runner (who would ultimately compete in about 30 marathons, several 50K races and a 50 miler), she might have been part of the summit team that suffered a fatal fall. Mike, the team’s young standout, had graduated Phi Beta Kappa the year before from U.C. Berkeley, majoring in political economy of natural resources. He had climbed El Cap via four routes (guiding Soviet climbers up

gene white

Trouble began when the others had to wake him for each course, and he fell back asleep each time, snoring. The loud, uneven breathing continued all night, with no reply to their protests. By the morning of May 8, Warburton had slipped into unconsciousness, and was having seizures.

with hidden crevasses, Elizabeth “Betsy” White and three companions—the expedition’s sirdar and two porters—strained to spot the tent fly. At last reaching the site, Betsy unzipped the tent in a state of dread apprehension, unsure of how she would react to the sight if her friend were dead. She crouched, and crawled inside. Mike Warburton was moving, still breathing. Joy and relief surged through her, immediately displaced by stark reality: Warburton needed to reach lower elevation immediately, daylight was waning, and they were at 22,000 feet. A rescue at altitude has been called the 5 6 r o c k a n d i c e .com 4 10 m a r c h

Makalu (8,470 meters), on the Nepal-Tibet border. This year is the 30th anniversary of an excruciating rescue effort in May that today is known only to a few. Due to an airline foul-up, the team was delayed in Kathmandu for five maddening days. Once the members finally arrived in the gateway village of Tumlingtar, the approach took them up and down mountain passes, and across the deep gorge of the Arun River, which flows through the imposing mountains of Nepal, Tibet and China. Continual rain brought out the leeches on the wet grasses and the tiny Himalayan strawberries in the alpine meadows. Armando Menocal, 39, of Berkeley was the leader and an attorney in San Francisco, one of the founders of Public Advocates, which took cases for nonprofits. He had climbed in Alaska and Nepal. The other climbers were Gene White and his wife, Betsy; Gene’s brother, Jim White; and Michael Warburton, another mem-

it as a teenager), done the FA of the North Ridge of Mount Waddington, joined a SovietAmerican Expedition to Central Asia and the Caucasus, and climbed in the Peruvian Andes and the Alaska Range. Beginning with Czechs in California in 1979, he purposely sought to climb with people on the other side of the East-West divide, our country’s ostensible adversaries, for international fellowship. Although young, he often had older mentors, including R.D. Caughron, Leigh Ortenberger and Fred Beckey. The team crossed snowy Shipton Pass, at 14,000 feet, into the remote upper valley of the Barun Khola, where rock and ice loomed above wild rhododendron blooming red and pink on the south-facing slopes. A week after leaving Tumlingtar, the group arrived at its basecamp, at 15,000 feet, intending to climb Makalu II’s standard route via the Makalu La saddle. The group’s sirdar was named Pasang, and the liaison officer was Thakur Ghimeri, who

gene white

insisted upon staying at this “low basecamp.” Betsy, a mother of three, recalls that in basecamp, “I noted in my diary worries about my children back in America (aged 10, 12 and 16) and being torn between wanting to go home or going for the summit.” After carrying loads for a few days, on May 1 the team moved up to Camp I, aka Advanced Basecamp, a gravelly area at 17,500 feet, above vegetation. From here Dr. Nancy Lane and Fred Tileston (an attorney and Lane’s fiancé), who had accompanied the climbers but been pushed beyond their comfort zone in crossing the crevassed glacier to Camp I, decided to continue on their own trek elsewhere in Nepal. Five minutes from Camp I was the basecamp for another expedition, attempting an alpine-style ascent of the West Pillar of Makalu, one of the most difficult mountains in the world. Led by John Roskelley, 32, the small team was comprised of four climbers— Dr. Jim States, 35, Kim Momb, 24, and Chris Kopczynski, 32—and hired staff. Tough and confident, Roskelley had been storming the mountain world, amassing major ascents on Dhaulagiri, Nanda Devi and K2 (by a new route, in only the third ascent of the peak). The year before, 1979, he had done both the first ascents of Gaurishankar and Uli Biaho. Each day Menocal’s team, on Makalu II, carried loads above Camp I, exploring and route-finding. “In this camp, I had some headaches and nausea,” White recalls in a summary she later compiled based on her diaries and those of her husband and his brother. “When I felt ill I missed my children and wanted to return to California, but when I felt better, I was eager to get up the mountain.” Still, she hardly wanted to walk out seven days alone, nor did she care to sit in camp with the liaison officer, whom she pegged as “devoting his time to flirting with women porters and drinking rakshi.” On May 4 the weather improved from intermittent cloud and snow, and the climbers proceeded under the weight of 40- to 50-pound packs. Ground distances were long relative to height gained, and the climbers took five hours to go 1,000 feet. Temps were generally 5 to 15 degrees at night, and not above freezing in daylight. They established Camp II at 18,700 feet, where the big approach slope neared the mountain’s lower ice field. Above Camp II was a section they dubbed Serac Alley, with gravelly ice slopes bordered by dicey-looking towers 20 and 30 feet high. Menocal carried some gear past Camp II, and then, feeling the altitude, returned to Camp I. On May 6 the others set up Camp III at the bottom of a steep, rocky slope, just beneath the crevassed, gently sloping glacier.

Makalu La Makalu II


Chomo Lonzo

High Camp (behind ridge) Camp I Basecamp

Gene and Warburton pushed ahead here to stash gear at the base of the glacier. “Mike seemed very tired when they returned,” Betsy White writes in the summary, “and Gene had very cold toes.” On May 7 the climbers packed up the red REI tent, and ascended to the glacier. “We roped up and put on crampons,” reads Betsy’s account. “Gene and I thought we were going as slowly as possible, but Jim and Mike lagged far behind.” Crossing the glacier to camp, a distance of about a mile, though with only 500 feet in gained altitude, took at least an hour or two. They set up the tent for Camp IV in the sun on the glacier, melted water and cooked dinner. Gene, Betsy and Jim stood in the light, taking photos and planning their progress. Warburton, who had been slowing all day, napped in the tent. Trouble began when the others had to wake him for each course, and he fell back asleep each time, snoring. The loud, uneven breathing continued all night, with no reply to their protests. By the morning of May 8, Warburton had slipped into unconsciousness, and was having seizures. Knowing that Warburton had experienced seizures after a head injury in the Caucasus in 1976, the other climbers did not immediately assume he was suffering from cerebral edema. They spoon-fed him water and waited until 10 a.m. for improvement, but saw none. They decided that Betsy would descend to Camp I, consult with Dr. States of the “Makalu main” expedition, and seek help. Gene and Jim were also strong runners who could presumably cover ground quickly, but were larger and could help more if Mike Warburton recovered enough to move with aid. Gene and Jim roped up to accompany Betsy down the glacier, retracing their tracks and wands to its edge. “Be careful,” all three told each other in parting. From there Betsy continued alone, down the rock slope, the lower snowfields

and Serac Alley to Camp I, while the White brothers returned to try to revive Warburton. Arriving in the afternoon, having descended nearly 5,000 feet, she found Menocal and all members of the other expedition in their camps. “They [Roskelley’s team] had descended to rest before the final push to the summit,” her summary reads. “All except John Roskelley seemed exhausted by their efforts on the ridge. They were concerned about Mike; they knew him and John had climbed with him previously. [Dr.] States predicted rapid decline and death if Mike were not brought down fast.” Menocal descended immediately to basecamp to roust the sirdar and any porters, and Betsy ate dinner with Roskelley’s team. “They were very hospitable, and offered their radio, rope, flag poles for a litter, and lots of advice,” she writes. “They did not volunteer to help. I went to bed very worried.”

<> <> <> Roskelley’s team had arrived on Makalu in March to acclimatize, and from an early stage tried to have little to do with the other expedition. “In our private discussions, we were concerned with their apparent lack of expertise,” Roskelley writes in an e-mail from his home in Spokane, Washington, “and that [they] had come in too late to make an ascent of Makalu II. It was our impression that, if they continued to climb higher without proper acclimatization, one or more of them would be affected by altitude disease.” Accounts and memories vary, especially 30 years later. The incident would become, for a time, controversial within expeditionary circles, mainly for the question of whether the experienced Roskelley and teammates should have helped more, rather than pursue their goal; and whether or to what extent Warburton was neglected or abandoned, not

FACING PAGE: The high camp that was the scene of the crisis, Betsy White in foreground. BELOW: Betsy and her brother-in-law, Jim White, on the trail to Makalu.

m a r c h 10 3 r o c k a n d i c e .co m 57

LEFT: Looking up the route Betsy White descended alone and ascended again, viewpoint from from Camp II. FACING PAGE: Mike Warburton at the edge of the glacier, ascending to the high camp before his illness.

only by them but by his own partners. Asked today, half a lifetime since Makalu, if his thoughts on the situation have changed, Roskelley stands by his reasoning: “As leader of our expedition, I took stock of how many men they had and calculated their team had sufficient personnel” for the rescue. Roskelley also says that he and teammates were never actually asked to go, and that prior to Betsy’s departure in the morning he offered to: “Reluctantly, Chris and I offered to go if Betsy felt she needed more people, but in the end, she said no.” An accident report later prepared by Kim Momb, who would remain in camp with a knee injury, also cites the offer. Chris Kopczynski supports the points made by Roskelley, adding his “solid impres-

was going to finish his route, and not be distracted. Asked whether she specifically asked for help, she says, “I recall sort of assuming that if I said Mike was in trouble and needed help to come down that they would leap forward and volunteer. Did I actually ask, not sure. … I think I did ask if any of their staff could go up and they said no.” She hired a large porter who was hanging out with the Roskelley team porters, having come from an expedition to nearby Baruntse. “He said that he could easily carry anyone down the mountain on his back,” she recalls.  Betsy was up early and out of camp by 8:00 or 9:00 a.m. on May 9 with her sirdar, Pasang, and three Nepalis, whom that morning Menocal had brought up from basecamp: a

gene white

“If that were my kid up on the mountain needing to be brought down, I would want everyone around to go for him without hesitation,” White recalls. She also felt the keen sense of a human being “in desperate need.” sion” that, excluding Betsy, the others were out of their element, and climbing too fast. He remembers “the entire team of Dr. States, Kim, [and] myself, led by John and Betsy, organizing to rally all available Sherpas, porters and equipment to mount the rescue of Mike Warburton. I remember that once we gathered all the necessary equipment, the rescue team was well equipped and capable. … [W]e all took action rather quickly.” Menocal, the Makalu II team leader, agrees in an e-mail that Roskelley was not asked outright: “John said from [the] start, over and over, and even on the radio, ‘This is your rescue.’… What was there to ask?” Betsy remembers Roskelley saying that he 5 8 r o c k a n d i c e .co m 4 10 m a r c h

cook and two porters. “Seven were enough,” wrote Kim Momb, the personnel total including Jim and Gene, still up on the glacier. The party departed in intermittent blowing clouds and snow flurries. Aside from Betsy, only Pasang had any mountaineering skills. The group carried the radio, extra clothes from both expeditions, rope and poles. The plan was for Dr. States to stay in camp that day, which was the start of his team’s summit push, attending to Warburton when he was brought down. “We have a job of our own to finish!” noted Momb. “This whole thing really puts our team in a bind.” Roskelley and Menocal differ regarding the

role of the latter in his team’s rescue effort. Roskelley and Momb have said Menocal refused to ascend with Betsy and the Nepalis, while Menocal maintains he stayed to operate the radio because Roskelley forbade his own team to. That morning, Menocal says, Roskelley told him “he was not letting anyone on his crew or Kim monitor the radio, and that we had to leave someone from our team to do it. “From his perspective,” Menocal adds, “they had worked for a month, were ready to finish their route, then this other team showed up and has an emergency. He had to choose, the rescue or something they had really worked their asses off to achieve.” The next day States and Menocal tracked the rescue by radio, with Roskelley listening in and at one point speaking to Betsy from the ridge. Roskelley thought from his own experience on a high-altitude rescue that the effort would take only a day. The porters had bragged that they’d have Warburton down in a few hours.

<> <> <> After seeing Betsy off the glacier, Jim and Gene had returned to the tent at about 1:00 p.m. to find Warburton breathing irregularly, with a fever and a pulse over 138. They tried to sit him up and give him food and water. All passed a long night, with the brothers feeding water to the unconscious Warburton, whose seizures continued and who was moaning, urinating in the tent and pushing off his sleeping bag. In the morning, May 9, the brothers pressed some water on him, dressed him and packed food and a stove, but when they pulled him out of the tent, he collapsed. The two discussed hauling him down the glacier, but knew they could not drag him down the rocky face. “They put him in his sleeping bag with all his clothes on, water and food close to him,” Betsy’s notes read. “Then they left.”

<> <> <> Today Jim White ruminates, “Gene and I were [later] criticized for leaving. But we did stay, trying to revive Mike, which seemed hopeless. At the time, we weren’t sure what to do. … Obviously, we needed help.” They felt they were doing nothing for Mike by staying, they could not communicate with Camp I, and they were nearly out of food and fuel. “Gene was worried about Betsy going down by herself unroped,” Jim says. “So he thought we should go down and do something useful, that it was stupid to sit there and die or wait

until we had to be rescued, too, which would have made things even worse. Gene was in great shape and not suffering particularly. I was cold and hungry and not so strong. I had acclimatized pretty well, but of course I was feeling the altitude.” Just after Betsy and her group, ascending, passed Serac Alley, they saw two figures, Gene and Jim, coming down. Betsy, jubilant at the sight, hailed them and asked, “Where’s Mike?” She thought he must be walking just behind. He was still in the tent, they said, unconscious but alive. She asked with incredulity, “Are you going down?” They said yes. She replied, angry and confused, “I’m going on up to get him, whether you come or not.” The two men, however, continued. While they would later feel that their decision to leave Warburton was a mistake, their reasons for continuing past the rescuers were exhaustion from two sleepless nights, and, after three or four hours on the trail, wanting to rest in the lower camp rather than return to the high one. They could also see that not all present would fit in the tent above. “We’ll come right back up in the morning,” they vowed. They reached basecamp in late afternoon. “We always intended to come back,” says Jim today. “Which we did.”

gene white

<> <> <> This juncture, when Betsy passed the people she thought she was joining, was the crucial point in the ordeal. She would maintain afterward that she had no choice: “It never occurred to me to just go down.” She would tell Mike’s mother, Ellen, that she was impelled as a mother herself. “If that were my kid up on the mountain needing to be brought down, I would want everyone around to go for him without hesitation,” she recalls. She also felt the keen sense of a human being “in desperate need.” Seeing the brothers go, the Nepalis wanted to turn around, but she told them in Urdu, “We must go up. Mike Sahib is still alive and we must bring him down.” Pasang, the sirdar, who knew the White family from two previous treks, backed her despite probable misgivings. “Although Nepalis and most men do not like taking direction from women, Pasang had seen me with my children in 1977,” she says. “That put me in the category of the older generation with wisdom and requiring respect.” A young, single woman might not have been heeded. After the group stopped at Camp III to brew up, Betsy looked behind her to see one less person following. The cook had stayed

behind to retreat. “Without asking me, he kept most of the extra clothes,” her notes read. “Between there and the edge of the glacier, the porter who was carrying the [stretcher] poles set them down somewhere when I was not watching.” In the next radio transmission, she told basecamp that Jim and Gene were descending, and her followers balking. Roskelley came on the radio from the ridge above them. Roskelley says, “I recall sitting on the West Ridge and ordering the Sherpas [with Betsy] to continue up to Mike or they would be arrested in Kathmandu. It was a bluff, but it worked.” Still, Betsy had to importune her group continually, and felt enormous pressure, both to reach Mike Warburton promptly and in guiding her inexperienced companions. Reaching the edge of the glacier in discouraging clouds at about 4:00, the rescuers roped up, with Betsy leading; she half-fell in one crevasse, but Pasang yanked her out. Momb reported a radio transmission from Pasang to say the rescuers would continue until 5 p.m. After that point, Pasang would have to consider the porters’ safety and return to Camp III, below the glacier, where a tent and cooking gear would allow them to survive the night. But the clouds lifted, and they drew near. Betsy, Pasang and the porters reached the tent around 6:00 p.m. Betsy had come down from 22,000 to 17,000 the previous day, and returned to 22,000 again in a little over 30 hours—a tremendous amount of ground at altitude.

“We went back up as fast as possible,” Jim White recalls. “Gene practically ran. I couldn’t keep up.” He kept him in sight, from 20 minutes behind.

<> <> <> Peering ahead, Betsy was the first to see

Gene and Jim appear on the rock slope with Birbahadur of the kitchen crew, who was carrying the stretcher poles that had been dumped. “Thank goodness you’re here!” she said in relief. She gave them her sleeping bag, since they had brought only light packs, expecting to retrieve Mike that day. Glad to turn the task over to the brothers, Betsy hastened down alone again to find more carriers. Jim, Gene and the four Nepalis carried the stretcher down the rock slope and past Camp III. In one section the brothers rope-lowered the stretcher and belayed the porters. Jim White recalls the exhausting work of trying to carry “200 pounds of dead weight.” “Ten feet, stop, 10, stop. He was damn heavy.” Meanwhile, below, in his basecamp, Jim States waited and waited, torn by conflicting obligations. “Things look very bad for States getting out of here by noon,” as hoped, Momb wrote in the morning. “The progress is very slow. I can’t understand why the litter isn’t working or they aren’t using it.” States rigged a surgery mask with a bottle of oxygen left by another expedition (his expedition did not bring oxygen), and

<> <> <> May 10 dawned clear and sunny. Betsy spoke to basecamp at 6:00 a.m. “I felt strong and disappointed that we were not going up the mountain, but had a very different challenge,” her summary reads. “We folded the tent fly with all the sleeping pads and tied Mike on it.” She put sunscreen and her glacier goggles on Warburton. Betsy led the Nepalis in pulling Warburton along the glacier. “I told them to step in our tracks from the day before, but they wandered and broke through to crevasses. Luckily no one fell in farther than the hip.” Reaching the edge of the glacier at about 11:00 a.m., the group set Warburton on a smooth rock, and lit a stove for tea and soup. “I was able to give Mike a little,” recalls Betsy, “and he seemed to respond.” The large Baruntse porter tried to pick Mike up and carry him, but pitched to his knees under the inert load. Beyond stretched another several miles over the lower snow- and ice field, rocky terrain and the serac area to Camp I. She did not know that Jim and Gene were on their way, with renewed resolve.

m a r c h 10 3 r o c k a n d i c e .com 59

showed Momb how to use it. “States had a very hard decision,” Momb wrote. “If he stayed and went by his moral feelings as a doctor, he probably wouldn’t be able to do anything except administer oxygen and send [Warburton] on his way” to lower altitude. Momb noted that States’ drugs and instruments were above, at Camp II on the West Ridge. “Also by staying he just might miss his chance at the summit. I told him he should go and so did the Makalu II team.” Roskelley, Momb’s report says, told States “that no matter what decision he made, he would get condemned by the Monday-morning quarterbacks,” and that his responsibilities were to Roskelley and Kopczynski, “who were in need of a climber and doctor.” At 1:30, a porter showed up from the Makalu II team’s basecamp and said he was one of 22 that had arrived to carry out equipment for the end of that expedition: “This convinced States that there was plenty of help,” Momb wrote. At 1:45 p.m., States departed to join his teammates at Camp II, reaching it in the dark.

<> <> <> Betsy reached Camp II, where to her dis-

may, she found that the cook had taken all the bivouac gear down, and continued to Camp I. Gene, Jim and Mike Warburton arrived at Camp II behind her and with the four Nepalis crammed into a four-man tent, with only two sleeping bags. Warburton was in one and they put Betsy’s on him as well. “It was very crowded,” recalls Jim. “The Sherpas sat up all night and so did I. Mike

Porters prepare for the weeklong carry out, with Warburton still immobile.

tent, Menocal was alone with Warburton, who had risen to all fours and was rocking from side to side. Menocal, bone-weary, urine-soaked and disconsolate, stepped outside for a few minutes and sat in the sun trying to dry off, thinking, “This is what’s left of Mike’s mind.” Everyone feared that Warburton had entered a vegetative state. And then he heard Mike’s voice say, “Armando.”

gene white

Roskelley told States “that no matter what decision he made, he would get condemned by the Mondaymorning quarterbacks,” and that his responsibilities were to Roskelley and Kopczynski, “who were in need of a climber and doctor.” was sprawled out thrashing around, hitting us all night. … I couldn’t stand it and went outside for awhile.” On the afternoon of May 11, unconscious since May 7, Warburton finally arrived at the team’s Camp I. Momb and Menocal cared for him, Momb giving him the oxygen and Menocal pouring water into Warburton’s mouth. After some hours, Mike began urinating, wetting them both. Momb described “what I would call a spasm, where his hands would be over his head and his face contorted and he would exhibit great strength, [his hands] jerking.” Sometime approaching midnight, Momb left to sleep. As the sun rose outside the open 6 0 r o c k a n d i c e .com 4 10 m a r c h

For a moment Menocal was dumbstruck. Then he hurried into the tent, looked into Warburton’s eyes, and saw recognition.

<> <> <> Continuing the next morning, May 12,

to basecamp to confirm that the newly arrived porters were going to Camp I, Betsy found 10 of them already heading up. From Camp I the assemblage broke camp, and by early afternoon had carried Warburton down below basecamp and to a river to clean up. His companions saw then why he still could not walk. His leg was hugely swollen, afflicted with a blood clot. Before the expedition, the team had been

informed that the few helicopters in the country were unavailable because of national elections and campaigns. The group was fearful of returning Warburton to the height of the 14,000-foot Shipton Pass, the only way out, but dared not wait if help might not come. On May 13, the troop started down the valley toward Shipton Pass, with two teams of six porters carrying the stretcher, alternating every hour or two. It was an interminable trek to Tumlingtar, a week in rain and mud, the porters sometimes slipping and falling. Betsy recalls Menocal as attentive to Warburton even when the others’ patience, including her own, frayed with weariness and anxiety. She says, “Armando was the hero for that part.” Warburton passed in and out of consciousness for a few days, thinking at one point that he was being carried off to a village to be married and start a new life. Another night he came to while crawling around the tent convinced he was helping search for a missing Bonnie Rait. Over the pass, just past a swinging bridge above the Arun, Warburton suddenly felt his chest “bind up,” and could barely breathe, the first of four such episodes. Every cough after that produced bloody mucus. The clot had apparently broken up, some dispersing into his lungs. That was a particularly rough day, the porters dropping him on a tough uphill. “He never complained, but we could hear him gasp in pain and then cough,” says Menocal. Doctors later told Warburton he was very lucky not to have suffered a stroke from clots to his brain. The procession arrived on May 19 and got a flight the next day to Kathmandu.

Epilogue “And it ended with Mike, Betsy and me in a VW Beetle  taxi driving to clinics in Kathmandu,” Menocal remembers. “We even had to carry him to the second-floor hospital room.” The team’s reservations for flights home were for the following day, while Warburton stayed in the hospital on blood-thinning medications to dissolve the clot. He left Nepal having lost 40 pounds, and with a bloated leg that would retain a lifelong limp. “Mike returned [home] later to continue his recovery,” says Betsy. “His extraordinary climbing career was over, but he went to law school, married, had a daughter and a rewarding life.”

<> <> <> In any mountaineering disaster or, more happily,

a near-disaster, usually no one event is the cause. Rather, many factors, including perceptions in the moment, accumulate to create the course of events. On K2 in 2008, when 11 people died, an avalanche was a key element, but so was food poisoning, when vomiting absented the Pakistani climber Sheehan Baig, a strong leader, from summit day. The Makalu II rescue took much longer than expected, and the steel poles surreptitiously ditched by a porter must have made a great difference. Another factor, one in simply creating the situation, may have been the flight screw-up in Kathmandu, depriving the climbers of any leeway in having extra days in which to acclimate. Betsy takes responsibility for errors on her team’s part: “Mike stubbornly continued up the mountain and did not tell us he was feeling the altitude. We should have tested each other for ataxia or ability to answer complicated questions, but we did not.” Warburton, still living in Berkeley, agrees that his youth and “grand visions” contributed to “not being as attentive as I might have been to how my body was really doing.” Perhaps the most critical event, though, occurred long before the trip, when Warburton fell 130 feet and cracked his helmet high on Pik Dolar in the Caucasus. Soviet climbers saved his life, he says, and he only regained consciousness five days later in a hospital in Moscow. The summer after Makalu II, he would visit Dr. Charlie Houston, renowned altitude expert, who was much interested in his story and pathology, and thought the original trauma left Warburton more susceptible to cerebral edema. In the end, while the Makalu and Makalu II teams may see this story differently, in one way they appear united. Chris Kopczynski calls Betsy White “determined and capable.” Roskelley calls her “very courageous.” He says, “When her entire team collapsed around her, she took the reins and did her best.” Menocal says simply, “Betsy was the one that stepped up.” Alison Osius is executive editor at Rock and Ice.

Today Mike Warburton is the executive director of the Public Trust Alliance, a nonprofit that supports community groups in defending natural resources. He has a lifelong history in advocacy, research and policy analysis. When contacted for this article, he was meeting with a water company he said had been diverting three times the amount of water allotted by its permits, and to propose alternatives. The conservationist David Brower, his mentor and friend, spoke at his wedding. Warburton has suffered recurring blood clots in his leg, and is on long-term blood thinners. Once outgoing and considered an inspiring climber, he was left after the accident with effects of brain trauma that included debilitating depression. “But that just makes me want to work more,” he says. “Maybe the public trust is my new obsession. It’s like a rope that might help us hold onto a sustainable future.” He has this to say about Betsy White: “Without Betsy’s heroism, there would be nothing after that time for me. Katie (my daughter) is 11 years old and almost as tall as my wife.” He feels indebted to the porters who ascended never having expected to go up onto the ice. After his rescue, he returned to Nepal to help some villages with alternatives to firewood burning, and at that time saw how “development projects” could have unintended ill effects, eventually co-writing Uncertainty on a Himalayan Scale: An Institutional Theory of Environmental Perception. Warburton wrote Roskelley in the year after the accident, and received a letter that apologized for the delay in communication. Roskelley said he had been trying to pay off the remainder of the expedition, and that he and States had suffered much criticism. He wrote: “[Y]ou have suffered far worse and I can only hope that you will look on mountaineering as you once did.” He hoped Warburton’s leg improved and that Warburton understood that “at the time, on the spot, we thought that what we did was correct.” Years later Warburton visited him in Spokane, and describes Roskelley as gracious, though they had different pictures of what had happened on the mountain, and should have been done. What helped Warburton most was the visit to Dr. Charles Houston the summer after Makalu. Houston, a member of the famous 1953 expedition to K2, showed Warburton a rock, obviously prized, given to him by Roskelley from its summit. He asked earnestly, “You’re not still sore at John, are you? Life’s really too short for that.” “I had to agree,” Warburton says. He bridged any gap with Gene White during a warm exchange at a birthday party for Betsy years later, and adds that his life is now broader than before the watershed experience on Makalu II, partly due to a growing appreciation of the people involved. By which, he says somewhat unexpectedly, he means all of them: “Betsy, Nepalis, John Roskelley, Kim Momb, Jim States, Gene, Jim, Armando. Appreciation is conflated with understanding.” And with, he says, gratitude for “the gift of being alive.” Betsy White’s three children have given her four young grandchildren. Her daughter, Laura, and 7-year-old granddaughter live with her in Berkeley. Gene died in 2008 at age 73 of leukemia. He kept skiing, hiking, climbing and biking between rounds of chemotherapy until the end. Betsy, 71, sees Mike Warburton several times a year, including at Gene’s memorial.  The year after Roskelley climbed Makalu, summiting alone, he and Kim Momb turned around on the East Face of Everest. The following year pulmonary edema halted Roskelley at 26,000 feet on the West Ridge and Momb helped him down, saving his life. Momb succeeded on the unclimbed East Face on his third attempt on Everest, in 1983. In 1986, he died at 29 in an avalanche while skiing in British Columbia. Roskelley, after years of volunteer work on county boards, was elected Spokane County Commissioner in 1995, making parks and clean water a priority, and he now serves by governor’s appointment on a growth-management board. He and his son, Jess, summited Mount Everest together in 2003. After the Makalu II expedition, the American Alpine Club created the Sowles Award to honor those who risk their lives or objectives to help another climber. The committee at the time deferred awarding it to Betsy, while waiting for the “dust to settle.” The committee chair, Andy Kaufman (now deceased), researched the case and eventually, against his own early impressions, exonerated Roskelley “at least in substance, though there may be details where he failed. I am sure there were some hard words exchanged in the course of the operation, but that is always the case in important rescues, and in time these are, naturally, forgotten.” Much later, in 1998, Betsy White received the Sowles Award, with tears in her eyes and her husband applauding by her side. She is the only woman recipient.  —A.O. m a r c h 10 3 r o c k a n d i c e .com 61

ask dr.

by Dr. Julian Saunders | photo by bernando gimenez 

send questions to

On the rock: strong, honed, confident. Great posture. Off the rock: meek, reticent, uncertain, lonely. Bad posture. Don’t let the hunchback happen to you!

hurt (but not a ton) and later there was swelling. I took ibuprofen and iced it. Before bed I taped it to keep the swelling down. Today the pain is not as localized, but is an overall ache in my hand. The same thing happened several months ago. What gives? 

What’s Up With Your Hunchback? What’s up with those climbers who look honed as hell, but the minute they step off the rock, they turn into the Hunchback of Notre Dame?  Grectmeme | Rock and Ice Forum

climbers, especially those bloody Young Ones, are generally lazy bums unable to give energy to anything that is not climbing. This includes healthy posture. They slink around, keeping a low profile on the fringe of society. Eventually that posture becomes their identity. The body follows the mind. I could be wrong (but probably not!). The other possibility involves the interplay of multifarious biomechanical forces that would take a thesis to explain. Basically it comes down to a chicken or egg situation between pelvic tilt and thoracic curve. In climbers, tight internal rotators at the shoulder, the result of always pulling down, are a likely catalyst by pulling the shoulders down and forward, but even this is far from a given in any particular case. Likewise, the solution is wide and varied. The simplest approach is to do yoga (kama sutra!), cross train (defense techniques like Brazilian jujitsu and Oompa Loompa mud wrestling are especially effective), and whenever you remember: Chin in, tits out! 6 2 r o c k a n d i c e .co m 4 10 M a r c h

I’m 34 and have three herniated discs in my back (prior to starting climbing, nine months ago). I have degenerative disc disease, a narrow spinal column and no promise that surgery will help. On days I climb, I’m pain free. On days I don’t, my pain ramps right up. Are there moves I should avoid, or things I can be doing to improve my situation? My doc heard I climbed and said to do as much of it as I could, especially if it was helping—and it sure is. 

Solacerock | Rock and Ice Forum

There are two things that will help you: strength and more strength. There is nothing like a teaspoon of fear to generate strength and motor control in all sorts of functionally dyslexic positions. Ironically, it may also cause you some horrid injuries. The line is not so much fine as it is perforated. Your body may look and feel quite strong and then BANG! I’d rather slam my head in a car door than have spinal surgery. Many report similar therapeutic results. At least there is no delusional hope. Surgery will definitely hurt and there is little chance it will improve your back. That said, if your disc issues suddenly advance, for instance bowel or urinary disturbances, return to the surgeon’s infirmary and develop a taste for Humble Pie. Climbing is awesome and I am at

pains to tell anyone to stop unless there is an overriding chance of further damage no matter how you try to mitigate the risks. Although the risks of injury are higher for you, the potential benefit is inordinately greater. You will have your ups and downs, but you are trading in the futures market and strength is the commodity you want more of. Daily function will improve, chronic pain will recede, and the rate of disc degeneration should slow. I would not project hard. Trying one move repeatedly will end in tears. Also, don’t hold your breath. As you may have already realized, holding your breath and straining, be it climbing or crapping, is a recipe for discogenic disaster. Breathe buddy, breathe! Preferably through your nose. For reasons I don’t understand, nose breathing not only regulates respiration, it generally keeps you in a more relaxed frame of mind. A word of warning, you are in the danger zone. Not only are you carrying some serious injuries already, you are new to climbing. Like a cannibalistic tribe, climbing will gnaw on your tendons and eventually spit them out.

I was pulling on a big sloper with my feet way under me when I felt a crunch and heard a pop in my middle finger between my knuckle in my hand and the first joint in my finger. It immediately

Tracy Wilson | Carbondale, CO

It’s cool to be special, and snapping an A2 pulley in an open-hand position rather than a crimp is special indeed. The hold must have been reasonably angled such that you were flexing the metacarpophalangeal joints (the ones at the base of your fingers, just inside your palm). The popping noise, pain and swelling pattern probably means the full monty: ruptured. Clearly you have been on the rough seas for a wee while. Tearing a second pulley (or the same one) in such a short time is not so much a wake-up call as it is a torpedo barreling through your porthole—something is amiss. Generating sufficient force in this position to rupture a healthy pulley is unlikely. Which places you in one of two scenarios. Option 1: You have been marauding through the Land of Overtraining and the incumbent warlord has sliced you up. He is toying with you. Get the fuck out of there! Option 2: You are a mutant languishing in the Age of Stupid, with the voracious bite of a T-rex but the brains of an anemone. In other words, you are biting off more than you can chew. Jump the evolutionary queue and start a training program. Stretch out your joints so as to allow even loading of the pulleys. When a finger joint is tight and accessory motions like shearing are reduced, the pulley can be unevenly loaded along its length, precipitating a tear from the end of more load. There is a stretching video on my web page ( There is also an article on taping that will help you manage your return to climbing. The month it will take to repair this pulley is less of a concern than the months it will take to properly strengthen all of them. ■

gear guy

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Sharpening Crampons and Secrets of the Toprope Should (can) you sharpen crampons instead of buying new ones? dave johnson | Butte, MT


Keep those crampons sharp, or else! Jake Hirschi takes a bite out of the thrid pitch of the Grand Teton National Park’s Enclosure Ice Couloir (WI 2/3). PHOTO: NATHAN SMITH

do you throw away your car when the tires get bald? No! Sharp crampons are as essential to safety as a sharp mind. Keep both honed as ginsu knives and equally at the ready. Assuming your crampons are in good shape and not relics you filched off poor Toni Kurz’s corpse, yes, sharpen them. Get a mill bastard (not again!) file, available at hardware stores and your pappy’s tool shed. Clamp your crampons in a vice if you have one. If not, just hold on. Wear gloves so you don’t shred your hands, or just go ahead and pre-injure your fingers by drawing a strand of barbed wire across them. Hone each point, stroking in such a way as to re-establish your crampon’s original angles. File until the points are sharp as piranha teeth. Only file the side-points along their two thin sides. Front-points, however, should


5/26/09 10:28:17 AM

gear guy be beveled into edges that resemble razors. Usually, you only sharpen horizontal front-points from the top, and give vertical front-points equal licks from each side, but this can vary depending on the design. I have, in a rush, sharpened crampons using an electric bench grinder, but you have to be careful doing this. Go slowly so the metal doesn’t get too hot, and use light touches on the wheel rather than bearing down. Inspect the grind often. True liquid swordsmen get the crampons sharp by removing a small amount of metal. Again, wear gloves or just pre-injure your hands by shoving them into a whirling food processor. Next!

My girlfriend and I are starting to climb outside. We have taken a couple of beginning climbing and anchor-building courses. We don’t intend to lead, just toprope. I already have: 1 60-meter rope 8 locking biners 5 quickdraws 2 30-meter, 1-inch webbings 1 Trango Cinch

My carabiners are aluminum; should I get steel ones for the anchors where the rope will go? I have “D” biners, but should I get ovals? Do I need a static rope? Should I cut one of the 30-meter lengths of webbing into 20- and 10-meter lengths? Other suggestions? richie fever | via nix the steel carabiners! Steel carabiners will last forever, but unless you are on the D-team and speed rapping out of Blackhawks to cap Al Queso ass, you will never use your aluminum carabiners enough to groove them, and if that does happen, just buy more, which it sounds like you are keen to do anyway. Your D shapes are good as well. D carabiners are stronger than ovals, and usually lighter. Most lockers are, in fact, some version of the asymmetrical D, so there you go. A static cord is a great idea. So brilliant that it is what Gear Guy uses for toproping. Static ropes, available from any of the major climbing-rope makers, are superior for several reasons: They don’t stretch so they don’t rub up

and down on the rock when they are loaded and unloaded, making them less prone to abrasion, causing them to last longer. And, when your awesome guns sputter out of juice at the crux, the rope won’t stretch so you’ll stay right at the crux instead of slinking down, then have to rip your girlfriend/ belayer a new one, pretending that your inadequacy is really hers. Do be careful with a static rope: Keep slack out of it, for god’s sake! Even a tiny bit of slack can cause a harsh shock load. If your belay skills aren’t up to the job, stick with the dynamic rope. You didn’t mention anything about anchors, so let’s assume that you’ll use what is in situ, either bolts, stout oaks or F-150 bumpers (parking brake on!). With that in mind, I would cut those monster 30-meter pieces of webbing into two or even three shorter pieces. Most of the time you’ll find good anchors within a few meters of the cliff’s edge, so a 10-meter loop, which will give you about 4.5 meters of extendable length, is adequate. Two or, better, three of those strung independently

from their own anchors and adjusted so they are equalized, will be bomber. Other TR tips: Wear belay gloves and a helmet. Set the anchor so the rope can run free below the cliff edge rather than bind over it, and unless your girlfriend is a contestant on Biggest Loser, make sure she’s anchored to the ground when belaying you, or she’ll be yanked up the wall when you fall and you two will knock heads like a couple of Click Clacks. Gear Guy has spoken!


Crampons! Giveaway

Submit a question to GEAR GUY and if he deems it the best of the issue, you’ll get a free pair of CAMP XLC Nanotech aluminum crampons with stainless steel frontpoints (retail value $179.95). Weighing just 17 ounces a pair, these crampons won a Rock and Ice 2009 B.I.G. award. To participate, simply email your question to Next!

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Learn to Climb Your Best! 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 Northwest School of Survival - ITP Training in mountaineering, rock climbing, cold weather/wilderness survival, map & compass/ GPS navigation. 2870 NE Hogan Rd, E-461 Gresham, OR 97030 503-668-8264 Climb Mount Hood On Top Guides/ Jorg Wilz Canmore, Alberta, CANADA Phone: 800-506-7177 403-678-2717 Certified Mountain Guides (IFMGA / UIAGM) Canada - Europe - USA Mountaineering, Rock, Ice Canada • Alps • Dolomites • Spain • France • Italy RAINIER MOUNTAINEERING, INC PO Box Q Ashford WA 98304 888.892.5462 360.569.2982 Rainier & Northwest Peaks • McKinley • Mexico • Ecuador • Argentina • Russia • Cho Oyu & Everest • Antarctica San Juan Mountain Guides PO Box 1214 Ouray, CO 81427 (970) 325-4925 (866)525-4925 San Juan Mountains • Colorado • Utah • Alps • Alaska

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field tested

by duane raleigh

Black Diamond Fusion

1 pound 7 ounces w/o spike; 1 pound 8 ounces with spike.  Modern mixed tool with ergonomic and adjustable grip.  Great on rock, good on ice.  Integrated hammer reduces weight over old Fusion. Small hammer size requires precision.  Bomber and durable steel picks. Easy to change in field. Replacements cost $39.95 each. | $279.95 | ★ ★ ★ ★ Usually, sequels suck—Rocky II, George W. Bush, etc. But the new Fusion, a reincarnation of BD’s flagship mixed tool, the old Fusion, is heads and tails better. Notably, the new tool is four ounces lighter—five if you take off the removable spike—and has a stainless-steel head with an integrated hammer, rather than a modular head. The hammer, though small and awkward to use, is a nice touch, letting you tap start screws, place pitons and hammer a tool into the ice as a belay backup. The Fusion has a removable and clippable spike. This you can punch into hard snow when you’re trudging up slopes, but you really use it to clip the rope to when the tool is buried overhead, providing confidence and security for setting screws. On mixed climbs, you can remove the spike, and remove the worry of stabbing your face when a tool blows. Like most BD tools, the Fusion uses a one-bolt system to attach the pick. This design has been in use since 1989 and accepts any BD pick, including the Fusion (rock/mixed), the Laser (3 mm thick for ice) and the Titan (4 mm thick for greater durability.) In the field, the one-bolt system makes changing picks simple and fast, with no tiny nuts to drop and lose in the snow, although I did temporarily lose a side plate one cold morning, reiterating that the system is only as good as its master. Pick material is 4340 chromoly steel, and seemed to last longer than the 4130 steel picks I’ve used from other brands. For example, I dry tooled approximately 1,000 feet on a fresh set of Fusion picks before they really needed sharpening. Usually, with other tools, I have to sharpen the picks after every outing, or about every 500 feet of dry tooling. The grip on the Fusion is ergonomic: A raised rib between the index and middle finger improves your grip and helps you direct the swing more accurately. The primary and secondary grips are both rubber coated so they won’t peel like tape will. Adding or removing nylon spacers on the butt of the primary grip adjust the grip to fit big hands and bulky gloves or small, bare hands or anything in between. Both the primary and secondary grips have wide, comfortable pinky rests. I’d like to see the rubber extend all the way up the handle, rather than having to retro fit the upper shaft with grip tape or Five Ten Stealth Paint. Alas, rubberizing the entire shaft would make the Fusion heavier, giving it a marketing disadvantage as climbers agonize over silly things like grams. Train harder! For hooking, on rock or ice, the primary and secondary grips keep the pull on the pick constant— grab the secondary grip and the tool won’t shift on its placement. On ice, I used the thin Laser pick and by the second outing had the swing dialed and was able to easily get good sticks even in sub-zero ice. For pillar ice where I might want a leashless tool, I’d choose the Fusion over the BD Cobra because the Fusion is the easier of the two to hold onto, and for modern mixed (largely dry tooling) it’s the new Fusion all the way. 6 8 r o c k and i c e .co m 4 10 m a r c h

 Nanoflex steel alloy reinforcements on aluminum pick and spike.  Available in 50, 60 and 70 cm lengths.  Very light: 9.8 ounces for 60 cm. (10.8 ounces with leash).  For all-purpose mountaineering, but can hold its own on technical alpine ice.

CAMP Corsa Nanotech | $139.95 | ★ ★ ★ ★ The all-aluminum Corsa (7 ounces) is the lightest ice axe made. Now, for a few ounces more, you can get the Corsa with Sandvik Nanoflex stainless-steel reinforcements on the pick and spike. Nanoflex is a proprietary stainless steel that, according to Sandvik, is corrosion proof, and lighter and stronger than both carbon steel and titanium. According to CAMP, Nanoflex is 60 percent stronger than carbon steel, so they can use less metal per product to achieve the same or greater strength. The Corsa Nanotech is “B”-rated by the CE, a designation for a “non-technical” tool that you’d use for snow mountaineering, glacier travel and ski touring—in other words, activities where you need a cane to lean on when you get winded. (“T”-rated tools are for technical applications, such as waterfall ice. Yes!)

The Nanoflex spike and pick are riveted onto the Corsa and are meant to add durability and performance. At first, they looked fragile and I wondered if the rivets would blow apart as soon as I sunk the hybrid pick in some real “technical” water ice. To find out, I took the axe to a local WI 4 waterfall, reasoning that if it could stand up to hard ice, it could easily dispatch the odd ice step or runnel up in the higher peaks, notorious nemeses for aluminum ice axes. The slightly bent shaft and curved pick give the tool a natural swing that rivaled some “technical” water-ice tools. Though careful to clean placements up and down, rather than torquing sideways, I didn’t break the Corsa Nanotech and it even climbed hard (sub-zero) ice up to 70-degrees steep quite well. Patches of grip tape just above the spike provided a solid grip, even on the steeper sections. The Nanoflex pick has an aggressive, nearly barbed tip and row of aggressive teeth that bit into delicate ice and didn’t bend over when I accidentally drove it into the underlying granite (to compare, during testing of a steel-headed piolet on the same route, the steel piolet did bend over.) That said, the tool is so light you can’t really “slam” it into ice; rather, each placement requires several light pecks to seat the pick. The harder the ice, the more pecks required. The oval-shaped aluminum adze was the tool’s only real disappointment. It doesn’t chop ice well, or at all, is too small for a snow scoop, and is really nothing more than a palm rest for holding the axe in the classic piolet canne position. Perhaps a Nanoflex adze is in store for next year’s model. Also, the hollow shaft lacks an end

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through you head. In short, if you are cold, wear a cap. I tested the Ultimate Down Hat, stuffed with 900-fill Canadian goose down. In case you are still hung up on the “warm when wet thing,” the Down Hat has a Dryline liner that keeps your sweat from soaking the fill, and a DWR treatment that repels snowflakes. The Down Hat fills a void. It is one-of-a-kind and pairs especially well with jackets, parkas and coats without hoods. The concept is genius. I wore a Down Hat this winter and found it much warmer than a knitted cap, more versatile than a hood. It’s also windproof and trim enough to fit under a helmet, although a helmet will compress some of the down, reducing its effectiveness. Weighing just one ounce and about as packable as a hanky, you have no reason to ever leave it home. I even take it cold-weather rock climbing, and let 30 percent of that body heat go to keeping my fingers warm instead of out the top of my head. It’s a no-brainer.

plug. Plunge the shaft into a slope and it can pack with an ounce or so of snow. I did like how the Nanoflex spike, which comes to a nice point, makes it easier to shove the shaft into hard snow. The Corsa Nanotech comes with a sliding leash that makes it easy to go from holding the axe in self-arrest position to technical ice-climbing mode. (The radical, positiveclearance pick could deliver an abrupt jerk while self-arresting on ice. Practice!) A rubber gasket prevents the leash from sliding off the shaft—the system is simple, light, easy to adjust and strong enough to occasionally hold body weight, although you’d never want to rely on it as an actual anchor point or as a wrist leash for steep ice. I used the Corsa Nanotech on water ice, but don’t try that at home. Instead, pack the Corsa for more gentle outings. Mount Hood, Rainier, Mount Washington, many Colorado 14ers, the volcanos down in Mex and even the West Butt of Denali come to mind as legit venues for this superlight tool with a technical twist. m a r c h 10 3 r o c k and i c e .co m 6 9

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Photo: John Roskelley

field tested First Ascent Peak XV Down Jacket

Scarpa Phantom Guide

Winter is now the only time of year when I actually feel warm, and I have this new behemoth of a down jacket to thank for that. First Ascent, a new line of technical mountaineering apparel from Eddie Bauer, has introduced its Peak XV Down Jacket, undoubtedly the warmest coat I’ve tested. The Peak XV is stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey with 850 fill power goose down—“premium Northern European” goose down, to be exact. All that down packed into a very durable waterproof shell adds up to a hefty parka weighing in at roughly 2.2 pounds. The jacket comes with a stuff sack that packs the coat down to the size of a basketball, but this may not be the piece you’d bring on the lightest and fastest ascents. However, because the coat is waterproof, you can factor it into the overall weight of your bivy set-up: Use the Peak XV to add warmth to a lighter weight sleeping bag. That said, I get colder standing around belaying at crags in the cold months than I do on day/overnight trips into the mountains, where I am mostly on the move. This jacket has made the cruel months of winter cragging not just bearable, but downright enjoyable. My favorite feature is the jacket’s hood, which unlike other coats that skimp here in order to save weight (and get more favorable reviews in magazines), is just as downstuffed as the rest of the coat. It’s soft and warm, and snuggles up against you like a Christmas puppy. I have two gripes. First, the jacket doesn’t have a dual zipper, and cannot be unzipped from the bottom up—a feature that helps us climbers out when we don harnesses, tie knots, rack gear, etc. Second, there are no big pouch pockets inside the jacket. I use those pouches to store climbing shoes, a Thermos, gloves, or anything that I want to keep warm while I belay. There is a small inner pocket that could house an iPhone, but not much else. The two hand pockets outside the coat are fleece-lined, deep and great. So far, this is an impressive start for First Ascent, and I’m looking forward to seeing what other additions they can bring to mountaineering apparel. —Andrew Bisharat

The first person to utter the cliché “misery loves company,” was, I reckon, an ice climber. Short of smacking yourself right in the forehead with a steel hammer (something that, by the way, you can also do ice climbing), I can’t think of a more torturous activity made enjoyable only if your partners are hurting more than you. The Phantom Guide is the secret weapon for really enjoying ice and alpine climbing. Laced into a pair of these Primaloft insulated single boots, your feet will roast in delight while your partners vomit from the horrible pain of frozen toes. I wore the Phantom Guide in 0 degree F while ice climbing. For me, that is the boot’s bottom end if I’m moving. (I tend to have neither hot nor cold feet and wear one medium-weight sock.) Especially while belaying, for most people, 10 degrees F is probably the boot’s comfort threshold—impressive for just over two pounds per boot. But warmth is just one measure. Consider wearing flip-flops on the beach versus slab climbing in a snug pair of downturned climbing shoes and you can see how comfort and performance are diametrically opposed. The Phantom Guide is a trim, soft boot that I compare favorably to a snuggly pair of Sorels, but with high-end climbing performance. A composite upper flexes in all directions, making hiking (even in crampons) on low-angle slopes a snap, but the boot is rigid from heel to toe, creating a front-pointing and edging machine. A full rubber rand, lightly tensioned slingshot heel rand and low bulk give the Guide as close to rock-shoe performance as you’ll get in a mountain boot, and reduces heel lift when you are front-pointing. Details I liked most: The zipper on the built-in gaiter is beefy with a rubberized cowling that keeps ice water out and protects the zipper, which is the Achilles heel for many boots and prone to premature blowouts. With care (keeping the zip clean and not forcing it), I expect the Phantom Guide’s zipper to go the distance. I also dig the lacing system and tongue. I have a wide, high-volume foot with bone spurs that grate like barbed wire on the tops of my feet. I can’t tolerate any boot with hard spots or pressure points. The Phantom Guide’s floating, padded tongue cradled my feet and allowed enough forward flex to remain comfortable without sacrificing front-point performance. The laces are fat, easy to grab and tie, and a mid-foot cinch strap lets you snug up the forefoot with a single tug, yet releases on its own when it’s time to whip on the hut slippers. Weatherproofness is excellent. The rubber rand makes the Phantom Guide completely waterproof nearly three inches up, and if water gets past there, the neoprene-like gaiter and rubberized zip keep your feet dry. Compatible with step-in crampons, the Phantom Guide is a premier technical boot. It’s comfortable enough for endless approaches, and warm enough for most ice and mixed climbing and mountaineering in the lower 48. | $269 | ★ ★ ★ ★½ | $525 | ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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 Available in sizes 38-47 in half sizes, plus 48. Two pounds two ounces (per boot, size 42).  Warm to roughly 10 degrees F.  Single, insulated boot.  Comfortable and trim.  Excellent for ice, alpine, mixed climbing and mountaineering.

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field tested Black Diamond Sabretooth Pro | $169.95 | ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Black Diamond enters the stainless-steel crampon arena, replacing its chromoly steel (aka carbon steel) Cyborg, Sabretooth, Serac and Contact (latter two not reviewed) with stainless-steel versions. Before digging into how the Sabretooth and Cyborg perform, let’s bust the myth that stainless steel is lighter than carbon steel: If you made two identical crampons, one out of stainless and one out of carbon steel, they would weigh the same. But, because stainless can be made stronger and tougher than carbon steel, it can take less steel to achieve the same or better performance, making the stainless crampon lighter. Indeed, the stainless Sabretooth and Cyborg weigh eight ounces less per pair than the old chromoly versions. They also stay sharper longer, and won’t rust. The Sabretooth is an all-around mountaineering crampon with horizontal frontpoints and 12 sidepoints including the aggressive set of secondary front-points. the front-point configuration means the Sabretooth is for mountaineering and alpine climbing, where you climb snow, scramble on rock and navigate ice here and there. In snow, the Sabretooth’s horizontal front-points let you pack in the steps for a secure foothold and in thin snow where I scratched through and hit rock, they bit better than crampons with vertical points. On snow slopes, the Sabretooth’s stock anti-balling plates performed admirably—snow hardly stuck or underfoot, even in wet conditions. Worth every ounce in my book. The Sabretooth is a “semi-rigid’ crampon. The forefoot and heel are independent plates joined by a springy instep bar, and can articulate to fit various boot-sole shapes. Pairing the crampon with a rigid boot effectively makes the crampon rigid. Likewise, wear them on semi-flexible boots and they flex with the boot. The Sabretooth is available in two binding systems. The Pro, which I tested (pictured here), fits boots with a toe welt, while the Clip can be strapped to boots without one. An adjustable instep bar and a variety of bale holes let you easily adjust the crampon to your boot’s length. A plastic knob on the heel further fine-tunes the crampon. Getting a bomber fit to my pair of Scarpa Phantom Guides, size 42, which have a narrow toe and wide heel was simple and took just a few minutes. Making micro adjustments via the heel knob when I was out in the field, when the crampons and boots were snowy and my hands were cold was also a snap. The finish and design of the Sabretooth are impressive. The components, from the heel strap to the bales, are stout yet the crampon feels (and is) light and agile. I wouldn’t hesitate to take the Sabretooth on any mountain.  —DR

Semi-flexible crampon, with horizontal front-points, for all mountaineering applications. 2 pounds 2 ounces per pair (with anti-balling plates). Stainless-steel construction is light and durable and doesn’t rust.  Choice of Clip or Pro binding will accommodate most boots.  One size fits all; easily adjustable design for climbing and mountaineering.

 Made primarily with Sandvik Nanoflex, a patented steel alloy that claims to be 60 percent stronger than normal steel.  Converts between dual- or monopoints with spacer bar.  Front-points can be offset right, left, forward and back.  Light: 1 pound 13 ounces/pair (without anti-balling plates and with mono-points).  Applications include: technical mountaineering, mixed and ice climbing.  Accessories include: anti-balling plates ($12), replacement front-points ($32), and point converters($13).

Black Diamond Cyborg Pro | $199.95 | ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

The Cyborg is Black Diamond’s teched-out crampon for ice and mixed

climbing. Its materials, bindings, finish and adjustments are the same or similar to those used on the Sabretooth, so we’ll stick to the details that are different. The Cyborg comes with two replaceable vertical front-points. (The additional framework necessary for the replaceable points makes the Cyborg six ounces heavier per pair than the Sabretooth). For those interested in highly technical ice/ mixed climbing, you can convert the Cyborg to a mono-point crampon by cutting/ sawing out part of the anti-balling plate, a one-time hassle. In either front-point configuration, an aggressive set of secondary points gives you a stable platform when kicking up a steep column of water ice. The side-points, due to their alignment and length, are great at inside and outside edging, especially when using the combination of the front and secondary point. Having this capability is critical in many mixed-climbing situations, and one that I have found lacking in some crampons I’ve tested over the years, where the secondary points are too long or short or poorly articulated, making it impossible/awkward to get the side- and frontpoint on the same hold without cocking your foot or raising your heel too high. As a technical crampon, the Cyborg is excellent, and you’d be pressed to get better performance outside an integrated bolt-on crampon rig (aka fruit boots). Two thumbs up for ice of any sort, rock, ice and rock (alpine climbing!), and even “technical” mountaineering when you need the precise performance of vertical front-points and are willing to sacrifice some security on snow slopes. 7 2 r o c k a n d i c e .co m 4 10 m a r c h

 Rigid crampon with two vertical front-points (convertible to monopoints). Excels on steep ice, technical mixed routes. Stainless-steel construction is light and durable and doesn’t rust. 2 pounds 8 ounces/pair (with antiballing plates).  Choice of Clip or Pro binding will accommodate most boots.  One size fits all; easily adjustable design.  Replacement front-points $12.95 each.


CAMP Vector Nanotech | $255.95 (mono-point) | ★ ★ ★ ★

These are the lightest steel crampons in the world. Paired with Scarpa’s new super-light Phantom Guide (reviewed here), they create a performance combo that nearly competes with a fruit boot, but is warmer, and more versatile. Everything about the Vector is trim. Formed from 1.8mm thick (compare to BD’s stainless thickness of 2.5 mm) Nanoflex stainless steel, the frame and side-points are thin. Benefits are twofold. The thin points easily penetrate hard ice, and, of course, less metal means less weight. The points under your forefoot, however, do flex when you really torque them. I’m 145 pounds and experienced minimal flexing; much heavier folks might over time bend the points. The replaceable front-points are carbon steel, and you can configure them as monos or dual points with an accessory conversion kit. The side-point orientation is good. An aggressive pair of secondary front-points stabilizes the main front-points and edges well on rock. Behind the front set of points the frame angles sharply in; the points may not line up with the edge or your boot (mine didn’t). In snow, the side-points felt too short, especially for plunging down a slope, facing out. The shorter side-points, however, do place your boots closer to the rock or ice, so the crampons feel less “stilt-like” than most, which I liked. The Vector is a “one-size-fits-all” crampon that easily adjusted to my size 42 boots. If you have a smaller boot, however, you may need to saw off the instep bar to prevent it from protruding past your heel. A micro adjustment thumb screw on the heel lever fine tunes the fit, but can be difficult to manage when your hands are cold or gloved (adjust at home, 415.738.2480 / while watching Monday Night Football). I used the Vector Nanotech last winter on ice and mixed, and again at the beginning of the 2009 season. It would take several more years to arrive at any definitive conclusions for durability, but I can say that the points remain quite sharp despite having been used on rock. Anecdotally, they seem to have held up better than carbon-steel points used for the same applications. The Vector Nanotech is an impressive, if expensive, crampon. If saving weight is one of your top priorities, this crampon is for you. On alpine and mixed routes and waterfall ice, it feels deft and precise. In snow, the vertically oriented “cookie-cutter” frame shape did ball up. For mountaineering, I’d attach the optional anti-balling plates (3.6 ounces, not tested.) ■ m a r c h 10 3 r o c k a n d i c e .co m 7 3

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by neil gresham | photo by jim thornburg

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With redpointing, the key to solving complex sequences is to work backwards, starting from the exit hold in the crux. With onsighting, you can do the same by looking for the highest good hold and working backwards, piecing together a theoretical sequence. Decide if it will be crucial to get the good hold with a particular hand or whether you can match. Give yourself credit for returning to the rest. It’s amazing how few climbers reverse, even if the rest is only a few feet below. Down climbing is one of the more useful tactics for taming a crux, especially if you can clip first and then reverse. If the rest is good and you are reasonably fit then you can treat the crux like a boulder problem, except you will climb down each time rather than jump off. I agree that things can get tough if you don’t solve the problem after two or three inspections. Accept that the holds are bad and that this situation won’t change. Commit and summon as much power as possible.

Nicky Dyal in good form on Half Dome’s quintessential slab Snake Dike (5.7).

Paddin’ The Slab! I hate slabs! Any technique tips? Jim Murdock Little Rock, Arkansas

Avoid stepping too high or too wide to the largest available foothold. Instead, keep your feet within imaginary vertical tram-lines that are shoulder-width apart. Build your feet in small steps, using the smaller smears and dinks. Keep your hips over your feet, perpendicular to the pull of gravity, rather than bringing them in too close to the wall. If you lean in you will lose traction and restrict your vision. Don’t stand up too high on your toes or your shoe rubber will lift away from the rock and your feet may pop. In order to move your feet, shift your hips to one side, so that one foot is grounded, 74 r o c k a n d i c e .co m 4 10 M a r c h

then lift and place the un-weighted foot. Use momentum on high steps and focus on getting your hips over your foot first, before attempting to stand up. Avoid reaching too high with your hands since this will lift the heels. Instead, consider using lower holds, or perhaps using your palms to mantel. In general, cruxes on slabs are overcome by moving the feet up, rather than focusing on finding handholds above.

I get flustered by complex cruxes above good rests. I down climb to the rest and get more confused, then finally go up and slap aimlessly for something just to get it over with. Any advice for calmer route reading? Tim Magnus Pittsburg, Pennsylvania

I have a recurring elbow injury. I know how to fix it, but how can I stay strong while it’s healing? I am keen to do more core-stability work but am getting bored of base-building and doing easy laps immediately after it heals. To what extent can you cut this short and move on to training power? Alan Barnow Glasgow, Scotland

the right response is indeed to increase the level of core-stability training. I have seen spectacular examples of injured elite-level competition climbers maintaining their performance with this approach. There seems to be some weird, unexplained phenomenon here, and most coaches agree that doing high levels of non-specific training will help you hang onto your specific strength and fitness during a layoff. Better yet, these climbers often return to a higher level after resuming just a few weeks of specific training. Now is your chance to make a real difference in your performance by turning yourself into a proper athlete. With core-stability work you need decent recovery time to make the

Now is your chance to make a real difference in your performance by turning yourself into a proper athlete. best gains. Start by training day-on, day-off, and start with endurance sessions for core, then switch to strength after two or three weeks. Do three or four sets of 20 to 30 reps for endurance and five or six sets of six to eight reps for strength. After a month you will be able to recover sufficiently to consider training two days on, one off by doing strength sessions for your core on day one and endurance on day two. Pick your exercises carefully and avoid ones that hurt your elbow. A variety of floor exercises [see www.] such as the plank and the iron cross should be OK for your elbow provided you do them with your palms flat on the floor and not on your fingertips. Exercises such as sit-ups and dorsal raises are the best for not aggravating climbing injuries, so stick to these alone if you experience any elbow pain. You can also train your antagonist muscles in the same session (antagonists are the oppositional muscles commonly not worked in climbing). For example, do push-ups or dips for the chest, shoulders and triceps, but only twice a week. These sessions will reduce the chances of future injury and you should endeavor to keep them going once you resume climbing training. The ideal combination is to do core and antagonists in the same session on one day and then cardiovascular and flexibility training the next day, then repeat. Regarding your return: You are tempting fate by proposing trimming down the base-building phase. I know repeating routes can be tedious, but try giving yourself a series of technique prompts such as “silent feet,” “straight arms,” “relaxed grip,” “twist-in” and “steady breathing.” Not only will they help you stay engaged mentally, but it can make a massive difference to your technique. ■

reviews North Face | (subtitles) | ★ ★ ★ ★ Nordwand (North Face) is a German/ Swiss-Austrian feature film based on the storied attempt by Toni Kurz, Andi Hinterstoisser, Willi Angerer and Edi Rainer of the first ascent of the North Face of the Eiger, a legendary epic unsurpassed for cliffside dramatics. Following a classic newsreel of the Eigerwand, we join half a dozen reporters inside the newsroom of the Berliner Zeitung, a popular Berlin daily. From the fat neckties to the big black telefons, it is May 1936 in every detail. The newsmen, at the behest of Nazi propagandists, are casting about for some glorious Teutonic triumph to catapult the faderland into the summer Olympics. Unfortunately, none of the writers know a thing about climbing. Except, of course, Fraulein Luise Fellner (Johanna Wokalek), the bashful stenographer and coffee fetcher scribbling in the corner. She just happened to grow up with the young climbing stars Toni Kurz (Benno Furmann) and Andi Hinterstoisser (Florian Lukas). Between her duties shagging coffee and kompotts for the correspondents, the spunky Luise has shown promise with a still camera, so is dispatched on her first assignment: track down Toni and Andi, and persuade them onto the dire North Face. Meanwhile, Toni and Andi are scrubbing toilets for their military outfit, punishment for returning late after ticking another first ascent in the

local bergs. Their haircuts are bad but their humor brightens when Luise shows up—and we learn that Toni and Luise share an unrequited love. Andi is rash and insouciant and laughs a lot. Toni is dashing as all get out, cranky, and painfully self-absorbed, a kind of Deutsch Mongomery Clift. Andi likes the sound of having his picture grace front pages across Europa. But Toni angrily demurs. The Eiger is a lottery. Sunshine one minute, a blizzard the next; rockfall, avalanches. But of course the Alp Meister is just letting off steam. We’ve seen the reluctant hero a thousand times. The writer-director Philipp Stolzl’s goal was to put the actors and stunt doubles (including Stephan Siegrist) on the actual route, using 1936 dress and climbing gear, keeping the camera close to the climbers, preferring in-your-face, hand held shots over rock-steady footage filmed from afar. The effect is akin to the real down and dirty media captured by a small film crew embedded with a frontline combat unit. And because a train winds through the Eiger, with tourist platforms at 2,500 feet, climbers and filmmakers dropped onto the face in full-on storm conditions to capture the most authentic period of alpine climbing ever shown on the big screen. A section of the face was also recreated in a 50-foot-tall industrial freezer. Sure, every piton is an A4 knifeblade that creaks or bends. And what the hell is Fraulein Luise doing, venturing out onto the face? But by and large, the action is spectacular and convincing. While parts of the runup crawl, once the boys charge the North Face the film is truly excellent. The closing scene is an iconic moment lifted from Henrich Harrer’s classic The White Spider, of Toni’s struggle and death just out of reach of his rescuers.  —John Long

Sport Climbing: From Top Rope to Redpoint, Techniques for Climbing Success | By Andrew

The Stonemasters, California Rock Climbers in the Seventies

All new climbers should read Sport Climbing: From Top Rope to Redpoint, Techniques for Climbing Success. Clear and concise, it covers every sport-climbing tenet, from the art of falling to belaying strategies for creating a softer “catch.” Most significant is its focus on safety. In a manner respectful of athletes at all levels, Bisharat explains why every person has something to learn about safety. In one chapter, he gently reminds the reader that no matter how hard you climb in the gym, real rock offers significantly different challenges that must be understood. And for those who are ready to redpoint one full grade above their hardest onsight, he introduces some clear paths to success, such as breaking the climb down into doable sections that can be systematically linked together, while noting that warming up is “the most beneficial thing climbers can do to help put them in a zone of top physical and mental performance.” I only wish there was more of an exploration of techniques for improving climbing at higher levels. While this is the best new manual available for beginner and intermediate sport climbers, expert climbers will likely skim through all but the last few chapters. As a longtime trad climber myself, I read it to learn more about sport climbing, and did. I also could have avoided countless unnecessary epics had I possessed a book like this 15 years ago, when I made many of the mistakes it warns against  —Lizzy Scully

Ho Maaan, the Stonemasters!

Bisharat | | $21.95 | ★ ★ ★ ★

76 r o c k and i c e .co m 4 10 m a r c h

By John Long and Dean Fidelman | | $60 | ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

The legend of the Stonemasters, the iconoclastic climbers who dominated Yosemite in the 1970s, is so big, I was curious how it would play out squeezed between covers. Right away, the editor, John Long, disclaims objectivity, quoting Emerson’s “There is no history, only biography.” These vignettes in word and image add up to a portrait, personal and juicy. What a tome! Sixty bucks, with fine paper and an oversize format big as a Largo bluster. I was slightly put off at first by its coffee-table grandiosity, and some of the typography. But it didn’t take long to win me over. The bluster is nicely tempered by craft; Long’s writing gains refinement without losing inspiration. His lead piece, “A Short History of the Stonemasters,” reworked from an article that appeared in this maga-

zine, features the gritty realness of coming of age in the wasteland of the 1970s L.A. basin, yearning out loud for adventure big enough to ignite a life. The new details are some of his best, adding up to a vision that aligned the cream of Wild West climbers. Other writers add hugely to the perspective. Lynn Hill’s tale of being emotionally blackmailed by John “Yabo” Yablonsky is especially gripping. There are many fresh voices like Jo Whitford’s, rare words from Tobin Sorenson and good snippets from a series of SuperTopo threads. Dean Fidelman also branches out, supplementing his own wonderful photos with many downhome snapshots. They emphasize culture over climbing, adding a grainy vitality. And at the last minute they dedicated the book to John Bachar. 

—Doug Robinson





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San Diego. SOLIDROCK GYM. Three locations - DOWNTOWN, POWAY, and SAN MARCOS. 30 foot walls, 35-45+ ropes per gym. Hundreds of clearly marked, frequently changed, expertly set routes. Toproping, bouldering and lead climbing. NEW TOPOUT BOULDERING AT OUR DOWNTOWN GYM! 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 finest! 104 Bronson St., Santa Cruz, CA 95062; 831-454-9254; www. 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, 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

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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);

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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);

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NEW MEXICO Albuquerque. STONE AGE CLIMBING GYM. NM’s largest! Topout bouldering, two lead caves, guiding, complete climbing shop. 505-341-2016; 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. 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 Morrisville. TRIANGLE ROCK CLUB. 919-4637625 (ROCK);



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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

Houston. STONEMOVES. 281-3970830; Houston. TEXAS ROCK GYM. 713973-7625,


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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

RHODE ISLAND Lincoln. Rhode Island Rock Gym. 401-727-1704;

TENNESSEE Chattanooga. The Tennessee Bouldering Authority. Indoor climbing, instruction, guiding and fraternizing. 423822-6800 Franklin. the CRAG AT COOL SPRINGS. 615-661-9444; www.

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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 first 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; Spokane. WILD WALLS CLIMBING GYM. 509-455-9596; www. 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;

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Lake Tahoe Bouldering

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.

ACME CLIMBING;; 800-959-3785; 509-624-4561; F 509-747-5964; 12 W Sprague Ave. Spokane, WA 99201; 800-953-5499; 1855 W 2nd Ave, Eugene, OR 97402

book sales Yosemite Big Walls


Contact randall lavelle

rlavelle @ 877.762.5423 x 19

Proper Equipment For High Altitude Climbing

CAMPMOR;; 800-CAMPMOR; 800-226-7667; Catalog-PO Box 680-RI7 Mahwah, NJ 07430 CLIMB HIGH OUTLET; info@; 877-218-4131 Climb Max Mountaineering;; Toll-Free 800-895-0048; (503) 797-1991; F 503-236-9553; 928 NE 28th St, Portland OR 97232 CLIMBINGGEAR.COM; 888-707-6708 Free Shipping over $49

HIGH COUNTRY OUTFITTERS; (404) 814-0999; Toll Free 888-6883485; 3906 Roswell Rd; Atlanta GA 30342; Outfitting 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

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 35A West Paces Ferry Rd; Atlanta GA 30305; 404-467-0119;

The North Face 423 N. Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210; 310-246-4120;

THE NORTH FACE 802 W Idaho St, Boise ID 83702 208-331-9790;

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



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

Mills Mountaineering 16 Mt Evans Blvd, Pine CO 80470 303-325-5076;

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

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!

MOOR & MOUNTAIN 3 Railroad St, Andover, MA 01810 978-475-3665; F 978-470-1982;

Pine Needle Mountaineering 835 Main Ave #112, Durango, CO 81301-5436; 970-247-8728; F 970-259-0697; 800-607-0364;;

THE NORTH FACE 326 Newbury St, Boston, MA 02115; 617-536-8060;


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

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. 100, Denver, CO 80202; 303-964-0708 connecticut


THE NORTH FACE 1245 Worcester Street Natick, MA 01760; 508-651-7676;

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

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@;

Outdoor Gear Exchange 152 Cherry St, Burlington, VT 05401 802-860-0190; F 802-860-0169;

the NORTH FACE 139 Wooster St, New York, NY 10023; (212) 362-1000’



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

THE NORTH FACE Sherman Plaza, 1600 Sherman Av, Evaston, IL 60201; 847-733-0875

MIGUEL’S PIZZA AND ROCK CLIMBING SHOP 1890 Natural Bridge Rd Slade, KY 40376 606-663-1975;


Climb High 191 Bank Street, Burlington, VT 05401; 802-865-0900;

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

Alaska Mountaineering & Hiking 2633 Spenard Rd, Anchorage, AK 99503; 907-272-1811; F 907-274-6362;

Babbitt’s Backcountry Outfitters 12 E. Aspen Ave., Flagstaff, AZ 86001; 928-774-4775; F 928-7744561;;


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

The North Face John Hancock Center, 875 N. Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611; 312337-7200

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

Arizona HikinG Shack 11649 N Cave Creek Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85020; 602-944-7723 F 602-861-0221 800-964-1673;

New york

THE NORTH FACE Country Club Plaza, 312 West 47th St Kansas City, MO 64112; 816-7560300

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;

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 Washington

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;

new hampshire


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

Gear express, inc. 2702 S 3600 W Ste E, West Valley, UT 84119, 888-580-5510; F 801-9687951;

BIG HOSS MOUNTAIN SPORTS llc 202 South Second Street, Laramie, WY 82070; 307-742-9125;

The Desert Rat 468 W St, George Blvd St George UT 84770 435-628-7277; F 435-628-3380

WILD IRIS MOUNTAIN SPORTS 333 Main St., Lander, WY 82520 307-332-4541; F 307-335-8923 888-284-5968;

New Jersey CAMPMOR 810 Route 17 N, Paramus, NJ 07652; 201-445-5000; 800-CAMPMOR (266-7667);

M a r c h 10 3 r o c k a n d i c e .co m 81


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;

Parting Shot

photo by jim thornburg

Pamela Shanti Pack risks a ground fall while clipping from a most insecure position on the first ascent of Gabriel (5.13), perhaps the country’s most difficult offwidth. With this ascent, on Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park, Pack has emerged as one of North America’s strongest offwidth climbers. Canon EOS 5D, 1/160th second, f/4, ISO 320, 85mm lens.

8 2 r o c k a n d i c e .co m 4 10 m a r c h

85+ Years of Boot Making Has Taught Us a Thing or Two. established 1923

Only outdoor boot manufacturer to be

jetzendorf, germany

granted ISO 9001 status for highest quality construction & process standards.

How to Build a Boot That Simply Fits better: Almost nine decades of boot building experience has earned us a reputation for great-fitting boots. Details like the LOWA C4 tongue with self-centering stud make a big difference in walking and climbing comfort.

How to be good citizens: We build our boots in Europe under the world's most stringent manufacturing, environmental and labor regulations. Read our Corporate Responsibility Statement at

How to build longer-lasting boots: The same PU (polyurethane) that makes our boots so supportive is also the most durable midsole material available. Boots made with PU last at least twice as long as boots with EVA midsoles. With PU, you get better value for your money & fewer boots end up in the landfill.

The Gore-tex membrane GORE-TEX is a registered trademark of W. L. Gore & Associates Inc. copyright 2010 LOWA Boots, LLC.


How to Design Details that Add Performance PLUS Comfort: New Flexfit 3D allows natural ankle movement in all directions, with firm heel hold. New Heel Truss firms up the heel pocket for better heel hold, stabilizes the connection between boot and sole,while abrasion-resistant TPU protects heel and upper.

Mountain Expert GTX


How to support the foot in comfort: We use PU in our midsoles for outstanding shock absorption and comfort underfoot. The full-length stablizing plate provides additional protection plus torsional rigidity for technical moves and to hold crampons.

Silberhorn GTX

available in men's & women's sizes




Cevedale GTX


Classic expedition boot, step-in cramponcompatible.

Best-selling mountain boot, step-in crampon-compatible.

How to make boots with Gore-Tex linings fit better: LOWA's patented lasted GORE-TEX liner is more durable and creates a smoother fit, with less potential for blisters.


Hybrid light mountain boot/backpacker, great for guiding. Combo crampon-compatible. available in men's & women's sizes

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Rock and Ice Issue 184


Rock and Ice Issue 184