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ISSUE 217 | APRIL 2014






CLIMB DENALI JOHN LONG “Most Yosemite big walls feature some passage of trouser-filling exposure, and this was that place, in spades.” (pg. 42)

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So sweet. Joel Kauffman on the first ascent of Super Domo (with brother Neil and Mikey Schaefer), a stunning eight-pitch line named for a favorite flavor at the scoop shop in El Chaltén. Patagonia, Argentina. MIKEY SCHAEFER

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COVER: Steve Moon on a coveted ascent of Pole Dancer (5.11a), Cap Raoul, Tasman Peninsula, Tasmania. For another amazing route, see page 28. PHOTO BY SIMON CARTER


[ contents ]

THIS PAGE: Nicole Zuelke on Major Mortimer (V3) at South Bliss, with Lake Tahoe in the background. PHOTO BY JIM THORNBURG



APRIL / 217


10 12 16 26 28 30 32 34 36 66 68 70 74 82



Mount Rainier’s innermost secret.

Lake Tahoe has hundreds of boulders and 8,000 established problems … and counting. STORY AND PHOTOS BY JIM THORNBURG



Largo pits himself against one of Yosemite’s grandest walls, and a new nemesis, the cagey and talented Brit, Pete Livesey. BY JOHN LONG

America’s hardest crag is still in the works—and what a piece of work Wolf Point, Wyoming, is. STORY AND PHOTOS BY CAROLINE TREADWAY

Rock and Ice (USPS 0001-762, ISSN 0885-5722) is published 8 times a year (January, February, April, May, July, August, October, and November) by Big Stone Publishing, 2567 Dolores Way, Carbondale, CO 81623. Periodicals postage paid at Carbondale, CO, and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: send address changes to Rock & Ice, 2567 Dolores Way, Carbondale, CO 81623. Subscription rates are $29.95 per year, $44.95 for two years. Canada, add $12.50 per year for surface postage; all other countries add $15 per year for surface postage (US funds only). Canada Post CPM #7157697.

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EXTREME TEST ON THE EIGER. Seventeen alpinists from all over the world put Mammut’s Eiger Extreme collection through the paces on the North Face of the Eiger.

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MOUNT RAINIER IS A VOLCANO. Its crater is filled with a glacier, but escaping hot gases melt the ice and create the world’s largest ice-cave network. Some caves extend nearly 700 feet below the surface. Exploring the wonderland requires a climb of Rainier and a bivy to acclimatize. Then, says photographer Francois-Xavier De Ruydts, “Exploring the caves is wild too. Everything looks the same and it’s so easy to get lost. We could see hot fumes coming out of the ground all over the place. It’s a pretty hairy environment that climbers aren’t used to—we were all quite uncomfortable in there, but the beauty of the place was just surreal.” Despite the nether-region’s location and seemingly inhospitable conditions, spiders and insects inhabit the caves. Other interesting items also appear in the ceiling, which was once the surface of the glacier. When the icy underworld was first explored in the 1950s, old crampons had worked their way through to the roof. A bird was found hanging as well. Over time, items on the surface get buried by snow and slowly make it down into the glacier until they reach the caves, a migration that takes 50 to 100 years. PHOTO BY FRANÇOIS-XAVIER De RUYDTS

ENTER THE 7TH ANNUAL ROCK & ICE / MAMMUT PHOTO CONTEST SEND YOUR PHOTOS TO ROCK AND ICE! If they get published, you have a chance to win prizes from Mammut. TO PARTICIPATE, e-mail low-resolution 72-dpi jpegs (no more than six at a time, please) to: photos@bigstonepub.com. 2014 winners will be announced October 15, 2014. No purchase necessary. For complete rules, and terms and conditions, please visit www.rockandice.com.

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April 2014 | ROCKANDICE.COM | 7

B U G A B O O S , B.C. A U G U S T 13, 2 0 13





GETTING OLDER AND BETTER turned 50 on January 2 and it was with resigned amusement that I read Andrew Bisharat’s column “Riding Midgets” [TNB, p. 36]. In the story, JT—a 40s, balding, married crusher from Salt Lake—postulates that all climbers reach their full potential at 33. After 33, according to JT, you will never again have the juice to climb your best.


JT, ironically, just redpointed his hardest climb this past summer. Same for me. Thinking back to when I was 33, I realize that—in contrast to JT’s assertion—each year since then I’ve climbed at least as hard, and have added skills and learned new disciplines like mixed and ice climbing that made me enjoy the sport more. Of course, every climber’s performance will eventually decline. If not when you’re 33 or 40 or 50, time will eventually grind down even the toughest old rock grabber. The grades you can climb will drop, your tweaks will take longer to heal, kids will burn you off—and that will be a little death. When I think about aging gracefully, I automatically think of Socrates, a guy who was happy and content when contemplating his own imminent demise. As Socrates was waiting for the hemlock to seize his heart he remarked, “No one knows whether death may not be the

greatest of all blessings for a man, yet men fear it as if they knew that it is the greatest of all evils.” Similarly, climbers fear getting weaker, but perhaps the inevitable decline you must face as a climber will be the richest period for revelation, the time where you learn again how to be loyal, happy, humble? Or maybe you’ll just be another angry old man who only climbs trad. As Socrates awaited death he told a visitor about a recurring dream he’d had all his life urging him to “practice the art.” “To [practice philosophy] has been enjoined upon me,” Socrates said, “by means of oracles and dreams, and in every other way that a divine manifestation has ever ordered a man to do anything.” Sometimes I feel the same charge to climb, not because of a desire to advance along some arbitrary scale but simply because it’s my fate. Progress happens as a byproduct of practice. Put in 10,000 hours and you’re rewarded a modicum of mastery. To me, the future looks bright from the other side of 50. I think I have a few more years of pulling hard—maybe even progressing. If you, too, still feel like you’ve got the fire for a career high point this spring, turn to page 70 and read Neil Gresham’s guide to climbing your best in 2014. Gresham, himself an old duffer of 42, recently sent his personal best, Welcome to Tijuana (5.14b) in Rodellar, Spain. In his Training column this issue he outlines the program that allowed him to reach his potential despite being almost 10 years past his supposed prime, holding down a job and raising a family. Our impending senescence could be our greatest adventure. Until then, no matter your age, practice the art.

Photo: Andrew Burr

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ISSUE 215 | JANUARY 2014


Had to stop at your cover grabber [No. 215], “Adam Ondra: The Incredible Drive and Discipline of the Best Climber. ONDRA Ever.” Ever? Really? Using this hyperbolic statement is amazing in a sport with such a rich history of “evers.” Think of what you’ve proposed in terms of the climbing timeline. Forget the fact that you’ve suggested the world of climbing EIGER has been whittled down to “the best.” What about those UNTAMED climbers who blazed the original, classic, hardest-at-themoment 5.9 routes? There is no comparison! Those few who work the athletic-driven, rehearsed, top-down-drilled 5.15s? Impressive. Sure. But. How can you compare today’s elite climbers to the trailblazers, those who risked the unknown and, possibly, death on the un-blazed routes (now called “moderates”) of the past against the air-time falls of current top-down-set gymnast’s routes? Give the early Stone Masters their due.






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–Phyllis Suggett/ Cannonville, Utah

NAVAJO CLIMBING: LEGALIZE IT? In his article, “Sacred or Profane? A Future for Navajolands Climbing?” [No. 216], Jason Haas took it upon himself to attempt to decipher, presumably for the benefit of Rock and Ice readers, some important controversies surrounding climbing on Navajo lands. While Haas seemed thoughtful and generally empathetic, I’m struck by the disconnect between his apparent cultural realizations and his conclusions and actions. He, like other climbers before him (including some of considerable renown), acknowledged the dubious morality of climbing formations of spiritual significance, which are felt by many traditional Navajo to be defiled by the very act of climbing on them, not to mention blemishing them in the inevitable ways that occur during even a free ascent. However, like many of his predecessors, he proceeded to climb anyway. His arguments in support of this activity were shaky at best, including the opinion of one young Navajo climber who had turned to climbing as a positive lifestyle change coming off heavy drug use, saying in what was referenced as “his interpretation” that “no one owns the land,” and “we are all free to enjoy it and share it. That is what is sacred in our culture.” Those statements would probably not hold water with his elders as justification for an act that has been deemed so spiritually offensive as to require remediation

by lengthy cleansing rituals. Haas also cited the creation of a local climbing economy, but that would clearly only benefit a very small sector of the local community. And if the activity were to grow enough to bring in the number of tourists required to stimulate the economy on a wider scale, it would undoubtedly exacerbate the friction that currently exists. Professor Jennifer Denetdale summed up the situation by saying (p. 41): “Many of us still do think of our land with respect. Those who respect traditional values would find it offensive to climb certain rock towers … Medicine people … would disagree that just because one Navajo or the Navajo Nation government allows climbing, it is OK. It’s not OK.” I would hope that those who read Haas’s article are sensitive enough to see it as an argument against climbing and desecration of features on Navajo land, rather than a justification. I’d ask any potential ascentionist to weigh whatever special feeling he may expect to get from the ascent against the insult that would be committed against a proud tradition that still exists within the native population. I just hope that Rock and Ice’s readership is enlightened enough that the ultimate effect of this article will be to help reinforce the ideal of a desert climber who passes by the sacred formations and views them with reverence from below en route to ascending other objectives. –Dave Wachter/ Albuquerque, New Mexico

FROM ROCKANDICE.COM >COMMENTS ON eTNB: “Next Level? Honnold Pushes the Game on El Sendero Luminoso.” Andrew Sellers: Alex Honnold is an amazing climber and a great guy. I love what he does, and how he pushes the limits. But he also pushes the limits for the rest of us, too. As long as he doesn’t fall and die, does that mean there is no damage to the climbing community? There are so many people who look up to Alex who may go out and try to free solo. But death on the rocks has big consequences for the community as a whole. Three things I fear: 1. People dying trying to be like him; 2. Losing Alex; 3. Losing climbing access. Everything we do as climbers either aids access, or takes it away. If Alex fell, I could see a big movement against climbing since it would appear dangerous. Matt Owen: So wait, if he wore some Redbull gear and hucked himself off/over/ across/around some well-lit obstacle in Vegas and got it on TV, that would be OK, but rock climbers can’t choose risk because … ? What about living in a world where people with mad skill and creative drive are free to explore and express it? The guy’s a freak of nature, just stand there in amazement like the rest of us, no need to tear him down. Alfredo Molina: I don’t agree with most of the people that congratulate him. That’s not what climbing is about. You don’t have to risk your life to prove that you are the best or to have fun climbing. This is more like a circus act. Louis Miller: It might not be what climbing is about to you, but with climbing being the very personal endeavor that it is, how can you speak for anyone else? Ross Weiter: Alex will die. We all will die some day. It is just a matter of when and how ... and what better place than a great route and what better way than climbing? We have no right to judge him. Climb on, dude.

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Recently, I read an article [“Durango Unchained,” No. 215] about the climbing in and around Durango, Colorado. The author mentioned not having much info on early sport climbing. My wife, Carrell, and I moved to Durango in about 1990 and I was one of the Hilti-toting outsiders locals hated. I asked permission from local developer Tim Shea to bolt some routes at the Golf Wall and it started from there. Terry Parrish, Jay Pezbolt, Steve “Booner” Price, and myself did most of the work and also started the Durango Climbers Coalition. Tim was there, as was James Williamson, but they were the ones who resented the sport

climbers putting up routes. I never touched “their” areas, but I actually think they thought they owned the cliffs or something, since instead of embracing people developing areas and spending time and money, they were always at odds with us—but maybe they’ve grown up now and have changed? We climbed a lot of their ¼-inch spinner routes at East Animas and were gripped the whole time! So let me know if you want some pictures or info, I wrote down everything. Thanks for the picture of Close to the Edge (5.11c), one of my best routes! –Larry Morton/ Cascade, Idaho

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I’m writing in response to Sasha DiGiulian’s article “Raising the Bar” [No. 214]. There are a number of statements that I take issue with. First of all—and I understand it was before she was born— but all that she says has been said 20 years ago by a then-famous French climber. However, over the years United States climbers have definitely raised the bar and have adopted more of a European approach in terms of training. DiGiulian asserts that the Red River Gorge is the American exception in terms of having many hard routes. Perhaps she hasn’t heard of Rifle Mountain Park? There are at least 33 5.14 routes in Rifle, 34 5.13d’s and more on the way. This abundance of hard climbs is thanks to motivated climbers that put up these routes every year and train very hard to do them. I guess I should cut her some slack since she was either in diapers or not born yet when Jim Karn was winning World Cups [at La Riba, Spain, in 1988], Lynn Hill was the women’s (and men’s) hard climbing standard, Tim Fairfield was winning bouldering comps [the Clamecy, France, International Bouldering Open in 1997], and Chris Sharma and Dave Graham were setting the standard for hard climbing before they ever went to Europe. I should also mention that most of the best outdoor boulderers in the world presently are Americans. Daniel Woods, Jimmy Webb and let’s not leave out Ashima Shiraishi, an American girl who at 12 years old bouldered a V13 (becoming the youngest person ever to climb this grade), and at 11 years old redpointed a 5.14c. Personally, I witness many of my friends train and try really hard. For example, Lauren McCormick trains as hard as she can and this year with a 2-year-old daughter, she redpointed multiple 5.13s and would have completed a 5.14a if it wasn’t for the wet fall weather. My friend Dan Mirsky also trains very hard and does laps on hard 5.13d and a 5.14a. And I don’t think Tommy Caldwell or Hayden Kennedy are any less motivated climbers than Europeans. Perhaps Miss DiGiulian equates sport climbing number ratings with how devoted or how hard one trains. A 5.10 climber who trains like a fiend to become a 5.11 climber is no less devoted and motivated than a 5.15 climber. –Lee Sheftel/ Carbondale, Colorado

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EDITORIAL Publisher/EIC: Duane Raleigh Editor: Jeff Jackson Executive Editor: Alison Osius Online Editor: Chris Parker Shoe Review Editor: Dave Pegg Editor at Large: Andrew Bisharat Senior Contributing Editors: Barry Blanchard, Geof Childs, Will Gadd, John Long, Niall Grimes, Dr. Julian Saunders, Neil Gresham, Whitney Boland, Tommy Caldwell

Intern: Sarah Linville CREATIVE Production Manager: Quent Williams, qw@bigstonepub.com Art Director: Randall Levensaler, ad@bigstonepub.com Senior Photographer: David Clifford

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Rock and Ice depends on articles and photographs from climbers like you. Unsolicited materials and queries are welcome. If you would like to submit an article or idea for consideration, contact Editor Jeff Jackson at jjackson@bigstonepub. com. Photos for consideration should be e-mailed to photos@ bigstonepub.com. Photos should be sent as low-resolution jpegs, no more than four at a time and a maximum submission of 24. Video submissions for online use are also welcome. Before submitting video, send query to: photos@ bigstonepub.com Rock and Ice is climber owned and operated, and is proudly produced and printed in the United States. Be good to the Earth: Recycle or pass along your issue.

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

April 2014 | ROCKANDICE.COM | 15


DENALI BY THE NUMBERS A GUIDE TO CLIMBING NORTH AMERICA’S HIGHEST PEAK s my partner snored next to me and the first rays of sunlight flowed over the ridge of rock and ice above us, I wrenched on my frozen boots. The summit of Denali loomed to my left, and Mount Hunter and Mount Foraker rose up through the blanket of gray clouds to my right. Our camp at 14,000 feet was quiet as I walked the 150 yards to the ranger station.


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CLIFF NOTES MY TRIP TO CHECK THE FORECAST—which the rangers wrote on a whiteboard outside their compound each day—yielded the same information it had for days: subzero temperatures and high winds at 17,000 feet. The snow whipping off the ridge above told the same story. Though I’d already spent a week at 14 Camp, the weather up high continued to be dangerously harsh, and I would ultimately have to wait another full week before I had my chance to break for the summit. It was the summer of 2012, and my first trip to the West Buttress of Denali. During my time there I got frostbite on my face, lost 10 percent of my body weight, was a participant in a highaltitude sleep study, and got so bored that a group of friends and I built a clock tower out of snow and held 14-Town elections. I learned a few things—mostly by trial and error. If you’re considering bagging North America’s Big One someday, here’s a step-by-step guide for attacking the mountain, plus a training plan to help you get ready.



DAY 1 / Base Camp (7,300 feet) to Ski Hill Camp (7,800 feet)

A summiteer poses for a photo on the summit of Denali (rightmost climbers) as a train of other hopefuls wends along the ridge.

MANY PARTIES fly in to Base Camp and stay a night here so that they can rest, practice crevasse rescue or acclimatize. However, if you feel good with the altitude (and you should already be solid on crevasse rescue), it’s better to land and book it to the next camp, called Ski Hill. That way you’re immediately moving up the mountain and making good use of time. Avoid traveling between noon and 5 p.m., however, when the crevasse bridges are the weakest on the Kahiltna Glacier. With the 24-hour Alaskan sunlight, you can trek at night and sleep during the day. While the elevation gain is minimal, you’ll walk several miles across the Kahiltna. If your team has intermediate to advanced ski ability, use skis instead of snowshoes for smoother travel and better flotation on crevasse bridges. You will probably carry about 120 pounds of gear, with 50 pounds in your pack and 70 pounds in a sled you’ll drag. On this leg of the trip, you’ll have spectacular views of Mount Hunter, Mount Foraker and other peaks in the Alaska Range. A lot of teams do double carries—where you take a load up to a higher camp, bury it in the snow and mark it with wands. Wands are bamboo poles—like the kind you use to hold up tomato plants. It helps a lot if you put some sort of flag or distinctive ducttape on top of your wands to distinguish them from other teams’, as Denali camps quickly become a sea of wands. You then return to your earlier camp for the rest of your gear—for each camp up to 11,000 feet. If you’re strong, I recommend single carries up to the 11,000-foot camp. While it may make your travel day longer, you’ll gain time by making fewer trips and not having to deal with caching gear. You may want to cache a day or two of food at Base Camp before departing (my partners and I left a bottle of whiskey, too). If you do,

bury it at least five feet in the snow because the area might melt out significantly before you return.

DAY 2 / Ski Hill Camp (7,800 feet) to Camp 2 (9,500 feet) YOU’LL ASCEND a 500-foot slope called Ski Hill and continue on a gradual incline. When the terrain flattens, you’ll reach Camp 2, which will likely be to your left. There should be wands marking your route up the mountain. Songbirds occasionally get lost and find themselves in this area and climbers have made the occasional (though rare) bear sighting. Continue doing single carries and avoid traveling during the heat of the afternoon. You should still have some stellar views of Foraker to your left.

DAY 3 / Camp 2 (9,500 feet) to Camp 3 (11,000 feet) YOU’LL TRUDGE on and establish camp at 11,000 feet near the base of a steep slope called Motorcycle Hill. As you move up the mountain from here, harsh storms become more common. For protection, dig into the slope or build snow walls around your tent at Camp 3. This can be a good place to take a rest/ acclimatization day if you need it, but many climbers get hemmed in at 11,000 feet and don’t make it any higher. If your team is doing well and you have a weather window, take advantage of it. That said, there have been avalanche deaths on Motorcycle Hill, so be careful if there is a foot or more of recent snow.

DAYS 4-5 / Camp 3 (11,000 feet) to 14 Camp (14,000 feet) THIS IS WHERE the double carries begin. Your travel from here will be on much

April 2014 | ROCKANDICE.COM | 17

CLIFF NOTES TRAINING FOR DENALI Plan your climb for May or June and budget at least four months to train. Numerous variables will affect whether you reach the top, including how your body acclimatizes and what the weather does— neither of which you can control. But you can control how strong you are when you hop off a ski-equipped plane onto the Kahiltna Glacier for the first time.

steeper slopes—starting with the 35-degree Motorcycle Hill right above camp. This means that you can’t use sleds anymore—you’ll need to cache them at Camp 3. To get to 14 Camp, you’ll first need to travel and make a cache at Windy Corner (13,500 feet) or better yet between Windy Corner and 14 Camp. You’ll then return to Camp 3 to collect the rest of your gear before making the move to 14 Camp. Only use skis above this point if you have advanced ski ability. From Camp 3 you’ll ascend Motorcycle Hill—named after the steep slopes motorcyclists ride in competitions—then the slope will mellow out a bit before you hit another rise, called Squirrel Hill, which will take you to Windy Corner. A face of rock and ice will loom hundreds of feet above your left and there will be a slope followed by a steep drop-off to your right. You’ll thread the needle here and continue on as the area for travel widens. Wear a helmet around Windy Corner because of ice and rock fall hazard. There will be steep snow-and-ice faces to your left as you continue to travel along the glacier until you reach 14 Camp.

DAYS 5-9 / 14 Camp (14,000 feet) to 17 Camp (17,200) 14 CAMP is the most well-established camp on the mountain aside from Base Camp. The rangers have a compound here with a physician on staff for emergencies. They also post the weather forecast on a whiteboard outside their camp each day. Once you get here, you’ll need to build camp and then return for your cache at Windy Corner or between Windy Corner and 14 Camp. 14 Camp is in a basin at the base of a steep slope with beautiful views of Foraker. Keep an eye out for lenticular clouds—which

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look like big contact lenses—floating on top of Foraker, as they are a sign of impending severe weather. You’ll want to build snow walls around your tent again. Some of your party will probably start to feel the altitude here, if they haven’t already. Common effects of altitude sickness are poor sleep, shortness of breath, high resting heart rate and blood pressure, and nausea. Take at least one or two acclimatization days at 14 Camp. From 14 Camp you’ll need ascenders to go up the fixed lines rigged on the steep slope above camp. At the top of the fixed lines, you and your team will transition to using a running belay—clipping the rope to snow pickets (giant metal stakes driven into the snow)—as pro. You’ll travel along a ridge with steep drop-offs on either side, and have one more section where you’ll use an ascender to go up a short fixed line near a boulder called Washburn’s Thumb. Continue to simul-climb along the ridge until you reach 17 Camp.

DAYS 9-10 / 17 Camp (17,200) to Summit (20,237 feet) 17 CAMP is the harshest. You can easily get subzero temperatures and winds of 50 m.p.h. or more—enough to blow down tents and make travel dangerous. You definitely need to build snow walls around your tent. Given that the snow from here on up is like cement, you will need a snow saw to cut blocks for the walls. If you have a good weather forecast, spend one day here acclimatizing before your summit attempt. From 17 Camp you’ll ascend a steep slope and clip pickets along the way. When you reach Denali Pass, the slope levels out until you reach a large flat area called the Football Field. Pig Hill looms ahead—the last 500

feet of elevation gain before the summit. Clip pickets as you ascend the hill, then climb a ridge with a dramatic drop-off to the right. Congrats! You’ve reached the summit of North America’s highest mountain! You’ll have a bird’s-eye view of the entire Alaska Range. Enjoy, because you’ve earned it. The day you make your summit attempt is one of your most dangerous days, however, even if you start with bluebird skies, severe weather can move in quickly and pin you down. Try not to linger.

DAYS 11-13 / The Descent WHILE IT CAN take almost three weeks to climb the mountain, it should take only two days to descend. Spend one night at 17 Camp after your summit attempt, then book it down the mountain. Spend another night at 11,000 feet or lower if you need to.

DAYS 14-19 / Rest DAY 20/ Return to Civilization FLY OUT of base camp to Talkeetna. The Talkeetna Roadhouse is the place to go for post-climb drinks! Shelby Carpenter is a former Rock and Ice intern and a student at the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. She worked as a mountain guide for the American Alpine Institute in the Cascades in 2013, and will be a Denali guide this May.


Left: 14 Camp, at, you guessed it, 14,000 feet. Right: Unwinding and refueling in nearby Talkeetna.

Your training should mirror what you will do on Denali as much as possible: moving uphill in the snow. Backcountry skiing is one of the single best ways to prepare physically. If you don’t live in a place with snow, then improvise. Put on your pack, load it with gear and hike hills, or even stairs. Hit the gym hard with a high-intensity strengthtraining program like CrossFit. Whatever you do, you’ll want to develop killer cardiovascular fitness, legs of steel, and a strong core for carrying a 50-pound pack each day.

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Dave Graham on Mind 2 Motion, just another V14 found along “the road.”

THE HARDEST ROAD ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, COLORADO three V15s and four V14s just W ith minutes off the pavement, Bear Lake Road near Estes Park, Colorado, has the highest concentration of hard bouldering in America and possibly the world.

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What most of these travelers don’t know is that if you drive this road you will have passed through the highest density of difficult boulder problems in North America.

Daniel Woods tries an undone lower start to Hypnotized Minds (V15), just 30 seconds off Bear Lake Road.

DANIEL WOODS was working his dream project: a 30-degree overhanging gneiss face with just enough holds to make it possible … maybe. It was December 2010, and the forecast for the Colorado alpine showed snow, and lots of it. The Veritas Boulder—the one that housed Woods’ project—is located just outside of Estes Park, in the Colorado high country, and once it snowed, the line would be out of condition. Adding to the pressure, Woods had pulled through the one-arm lockoffs on quarter-pad edges on his seventh day of attempts, only to fall on the last V5 jump to the lip. But today Woods was determined to send. He once again muscled through the crux, stared down the final jump, and executed. As he manteled over the lip of Hypnotized Minds (V15), Woods felt the relief of climbing the hardest boulder problem of his life. And one of the “best parts,” Woods says, was that “the boulder sits just 30 seconds away from Bear Lake Road.” BEAR LAKE ROAD is Rocky Mountain National Park’s busiest byway, and must be driven with the utmost care, because tourists can and do stop anywhere. Oh, is that an elk? What most of these travelers don’t know is that if you drive this road starting from the Stanley Hotel— made famous in the classic horror flick “The Shining”—and continue through the north side of the park via Sheep Lake and down through a bit of Trail Ridge, you will have passed through the highest density of difficult boulder problems in North America—all within minutes of the car. Some problems are so close to the road that tourists might slow down and take a photo of you. After moving to Colorado from Delaware in 2005, I spent the first few summers living in Estes Park, where “the road” begins. I worked in Rocky Mountain National Park as part of the trail crew. It was a hardy

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experience and a great way to get to know the Estes and RMNP region, which continues to yield a plethora of previously undiscovered boulders. I climbed with a few co-workers when I wasn’t exhausted from the tough work, and we would often make do with the boulders at “ground level” instead of hiking the twomile uphill slog into the popular Chaos Canyon. Some of the rock was good, some was just OK, but it worked for us and we still felt like we were exploring despite the close proximity to the road. During those early days of boulder hunting on Bear Lake Road, I began to hear stories about the pioneers of the area, many of whom, coincidentally, had also worked on the trail crew. One was bouldering legend Hank Jones—known in climbing circles for discovering the everpopular Kind Boulder and Large Boulders at Emerald Lake and numerous areas in the Poudre Canyon. He, Rob Pizem and Ken Kenney climbed at these areas as well as Chaos Canyon, but also noticed boulders lining the road. They were among the first

climbers to seriously explore the roadside areas. Jamie Emerson was there, too, and describes the overall vision as “a shift between what the areas were, to what they could be; from a traditional area like Hueco or Flagstaff into more of a focus on individual problems. On the way to Chaos, we wondered, What are we driving past? Early examples of what we found were Veritas and Stinkbug, both right off the road and at about the same grade [V9/10].” Jones and Emerson discovered and first climbed on the Veritas Boulder in 2001. The block sits right off the road near the popular parking lot of Sprague Lake. The overhanging gneiss block is 20 feet tall, beautifully striped and pleasantly featured. The standstart went first by Kenney, then Johnny Goicoechea added a sit start at V11—one of the most classic problems at the grade in the state. In 2010, Daniel Woods opened one of his hardest lines, Hypnotized Minds (V15) on the boulder’s east face, and Bear Lake Road’s reputation began to grow. “When I first saw the “Veritas Right” project, I was immediately drawn to the line’s simplicity, rock quality, hold formations and rock color,” says Woods. “The line ascends the blank, proud 30-degree overhanging face. There are just enough holds to make it possible. I was psyched to find something that would really challenge my style of climbing, and this line was the gem.” Daniel worked the project for eight days in good conditions before making the first ascent, just before a snowstorm blew in and ended the season. “This boulder still remains unrepeated,” says Woods. In early 2011, Dave Graham, Jon Cardwell, Diego Montull and I drove out after a long day of bouldering in Chaos Canyon, and as we wound down the hill on Bear Lake Road, I recalled the stories of Hank Jones. We were, after all, traveling through

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Dave Graham works Mirror Reality (V14), the problem that opened eyes to the roadside potential.

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his stomping grounds. I told Dave to pull over because I wanted to show him a highball V10 death slab Jones had established. We parked the car on the side of the road right near Moraine Park and ventured into the woods. Though I couldn’t find the slab, Dave, Jon and Diego found a short steep prow with some very nice patina rock, and set to work cleaning it. This boulder problem came to be known as Mirror Reality (V14), which to this day is notorious for its low-percentage jump move. In fact, Dave and Jon are still trying it! Daniel Woods finally stuck the move and sent the problem in January, 2012. “Mirror Reality is one of those boulders we’ve always dreamed about except this one was right in front of us,� says Cardwell. “It was there the entire time, watching us as we drove countless times to Chaos Canyon. Mirror opened our eyes to the unique vibe this road holds, which otherwise is found only in places like Switzerland or Fontainebleau.� During 2011, my last summer working at RMNP, my co-worker Bryce Klinikowski led me up a hill just past the Stanley Hotel to a rather inobvious overhang with bullet rock. It looked like a version of Bishop’s famous V10 Stained Glass. Bryce and other Estes locals had found this boulder to be quite hard and it was an open project. Later that year, I brought Dave Graham to the boulder. He had recently discovered the nearby Endo Valley, but after seeing the overhanging crimpy dihedral, he was keen to work it. We began to focus on the climbing on the hillside, but this boulder was the first cherry to be picked. By this time the shift from large areas to individual problems had fully taken hold. This hillside soon became a whole new area, but it

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Parallax—the project he had all started with this line. Dave saved for later. managed to send the problem on However, Graham’s problem New Year’s Day, calling it Memory proved more difficult than he had is Parallax (V14). anticipated. In typical Graham fashion, “Bridge of Ashes is one of the he then ran further up the hill most challenging projects I have and found a whole collection ever completed,” says Graham. of boulders that would become “Once I found the right method classic problems of all grades, and realized the boulder was including Desperate Houseboys’ actually climbable, I thought Traverse (V10) and Sizable it would be just about having Rattler (V8). But the best the right skin and conditions. I lines lent themselves to the thought it was in the bag. Oh, how higher grades and some proved wrong I was!” un-climbable at the time. For Each session ended in “utter instance, Dave discovered destruction,” says Graham, and another prow further east on the there were always cuts to heal due hillside and started to try it, but found it harder than Parallax and decided Thanks to the efforts of oldto save it for later. schoolers like Jones and elite Meanwhile, Jamie Emerson hiked crushers like Woods and Graham, around and found Bear Lake Road has gone from a majestic boulder being a pain-in-the-ass drive downstream from you had to endure to get to the Veritas. “I was on the road alpine bouldering in RMNP to the one day, and thought Hardest Road in North America. there must be another nice block around to the sharp stone. After about 10 here just like Veritas. I hiked for days of effort battling freak cold two hours in the wrong direction, spells, snowstorms and heat waves, but then headed downstream and and maybe another 15 days spread stumbled upon this big amazing over the last year, Graham finally black roof.” made the first ascent of Bridge of Emerson first brought Graham Ashes (V15) in February 2013. to the roof, but he thought the “Unlike many hard boulders, holds were too fragile and would it did not feel easy when I finally break before becoming a boulder did it,” says Graham. “It felt problem. Emerson then showed it desperate, in fact!” to Woods, who swooped in for the Of course, more exploring first ascent. uphill ensued, revealing yet “None of the moves seemed another project, which Woods possible,” remembers Woods. “But sent one spring night in April after many sessions I figured out a 2013. The Purge (V14) is another sequence that worked, and it was elite problem only 10 minutes a cool feeling of overcoming the uphill from the asphalt of Bear ‘impossible’ and tricking the head Lake Road. into knowing it could be done.” Thanks to the efforts of oldWoods linked the moves in the schoolers like Jones and elite black roof on a cold February day crushers like Woods and Graham, in 2012 to establish Paint It Black Bear Lake Road has gone from (V15), one of the hardest problems being a pain-in-the-ass drive in the country and located just you had to endure to get to the 100 feet off the road. alpine bouldering in RMNP to the After jet-setting around the Hardest Road in North America. planet, Graham felt fit and And the area continues to yield. returned to try the prow east of



but Texas. I miss all the friends I’ve had since kindergarten.” Returning for the holidays, she went to the gym, Summit Dallas, on the first day to see her teammates and coach Kim Puccio. Miller is a case study, really, of the many young climbers who have grown up on teams. “[The gym] was my home, basically,” she said. “I’m so excited to get to see my team.” Delaney’s mother is a secretary at an elementary school, her father an accountant, and her 23-year-old brother, married now, lives 20 minutes away. Last year the parents took in three foster children, Delaney’s second cousins, ages 8, 10 and 13, after their parents were incarcerated for trying to transport marijuana over the border from Mexico. Asked if three children weren’t a lot, this daughter of the “Can Do” state said calmly, “It was. I realized going into senior year that things were going to be a little more stressful in my house, but I accepted it and that makes things a lot easier to handle.” Last fall, on a rare climbing trip to real rock, she sent her first 5.14, God’s Own Stone, at the Red River Gorge, Kentucky, in three days and with temps in the 30s. At 5 foot 4 inches and 95 pounds, Miller is slight. But tenacious. RI

[ Q&A ]

TEXAS TENACITY DELANEY MILLER, CLIMBING ABOVE IT ALL elaney Miller had finished finals, was home in Frisco, Texas, for winter break, and had big plans. “It’ll be nice not worrying about homework,” she said when reached during a morning run, which she politely cut short. “My plan is to eat, sleep and go to the gym.”


Miller, 18 (she turns 19 in April), is a lot of things. Though a threetime youth national champion and the defending Sport Climbing Series (SCS) adult champion in lead climbing, she only really hit the national consciousness last summer, at the Psicobloc deep-water-soloing comp in Park City, Utah. She tackled a 5.13c four times within about 30 minutes: climbing it twice—nearly three times—to place a strong second behind the renowned Sasha DiGiulian. But few know that Delaney was also valedictorian of the excellent Frisco Centennial High School, one of the most rigorous in the big state of Texas, and that she also still holds two Frisco High track records: for the mile and the two-mile. (Now she just runs “for fun.”) Last fall she entered Colorado State University, in Fort Collins, to study health and exercise science. “It was pretty stressful,” she said, in her soft-spoken but straightforward manner, of the transition. “I never lived anywhere else

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Was it a stressor trying to train? I really missed my team. I’ve trained with my team for the past six years, and all of a sudden I didn’t have them. I did train with Team ABC and that was nice, but it’s an hour drive, and that doesn’t sound like much but it’s a lot when you’re tired. What about climbing outdoors? I didn’t get out as much as I would like to because the weather was terrible. I kept getting rained out. So I thought, OK, I’ll just wait until the rain stops, and then it got really cold. What’s your comp schedule? Roped Nationals are April 4 and 5. I am going to do the Collegiate Climbing Nationals April 18 to 19. I’m also doing ABS [American Bouldering Series] Nationals and the Dark Horse [in Boston] in February. [My youth career] will end with SCS Nationals in July. After July, bouldering season begins. At that point I will compete as an adult. I want to go to Europe this summer and climb outdoors. I want to do the World Cup circuit but I also want to go to Spain and climb.

Are you a longtime boulderer, too? [laughs] I’m just not as good at it, but I still love it. It’s really good training for roped [climbing]. There are always going to be powerful, cruxy moves in routes. Did sports keep you flying straight? Yes. Climbing especially helped my schoolwork. It taught me how to dedicate myself and really try hard, but it was an escape from school as well. School was stressful because I was taking a lot of really hard AP classes. If I was having a bad day I’d just go to the gym and it would get instantly better. Are the young cousins still in your house? They went to a different foster home. That was just for a year. I’m glad we did it. Hopefully we helped those kids in some way or another, had a positive influence. They’re with another family member. But I get to see them at Christmas, so that’ll be fun. Do you ever take a break? No. I think I’d go crazy if I didn’t climb, to be honest. There are times when I back off training, and go to the gym and just mess around, but I don’t know what I’d do without climbing. It makes me happy and clears my mind. Any other sports? No. Next semester I’m required to take P.E. So I’ll be ice skating for my credit.


Were you a bit sad to graduate from high school? Not at all. I was excited to be able to go out and do something different and be independent. Then it was harder than I thought. I found myself calling my parents and saying, what do I do about this and this?


EBGB’s [ 5.10d ]

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reset my idea of what real pain is (physical and emotional) and now I walk through life without much fear. I learned that pain sharpens us. KYRGYZSTAN tops the list of hard experiences, but my divorce in 2010 comes in a close second. Chopping off my index finger was stressful because I thought it might end my full-time climbing career at a time when I still had a ton of big dreams I wanted to pursue. But through these experiences I learned that hardship is what changes us the most. It puts us in an intensely meditative state where we figure out what we really want. And it motivates us to go for those things we have always dreamed of. I HAVE LEARNED that the longer I climb, the more I will love it. And I have learned that I can’t predict what will happen in my life one year ahead— much less 25.



boulders and in holes in the ground. We eventually escaped when I pushed one of our captors off a cliff and we made a run for the nearest military outpost.

THE EXPERIENCE in Kyrgyzstan rocked my world in ways that I am still learning limbing has taught me a ton. It has allowed me to travel about 14 years later. There was and see the world, and given me a venue to live a very full, definitely a dark side to the exciting life. Above all else, I think climbing has taught me to live recovery process, but in the end life without fear. it made me a much stronger, more life-loving person. The MY GREATEST HARDSHIP would be the ordeal in Kyrgyzstan amount of suffering and fear where four of us were kidnapped by Islamic militants for six days. we endured made It’s a long, complicated story but, in short, we and our To read more about the rest of life seem captors were hunted by the Kyrgyzstan military. We interesting people, like a cakewalk. It abandoned our food and warm clothes and hid out under go to rockandice.com.


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MY WIFE, BECCA, and I welcomed an amazing little boy into our lives nine months ago. His birth has made me much more responsible and intentional because I want to set a good example. But having a son also makes me want to let loose and have fun. I want little Fitz to see how awesome life can be. BEING ABLE TO make it as a pro climber is many times better than winning the lottery. I get to dream up the biggest adventures I can and go for them without having to worry about a nineto-five job. It doesn’t get much better than that. THERE ARE RIGORS to being a pro climber. Like everyone these days, I spend quite a bit of time on the computer. And the constant travel can drain my power. But in those moments I


hot up there much of the time. But because of the setbacks we climbed a lot in December, which actually gave us good conditions and helped us realize that it is best done as a winter free climb. When I injured myself it looked as though the cards were stacked against me this season. It would have been really easy to throw in the towel for the year. But on a

try to remember that when you are doing what you love, you never work a day in your life. BUT CLIMBING, just like being filthy rich, tends to spoil people. Many of us become selfabsorbed and this selfishness makes both climbing and relationships hard. I’ve learned that I love climbing, but I love people more.

I’ve learned to take joy in the process and to be patient. I love the way the Dawn Wall breathes energy into my entire life. And I love how it motivates me to constantly push myself.

FROM THE DAWN WALL project, I’ve learned to take joy in the process and to be patient. I love the way the Dawn Wall breathes energy into my entire life. And I love how it motivates me to constantly push myself. I QUICKLY REALIZED that I wasn’t going to be able to climb the Dawn Wall alone. I am incredibly lucky to have found such an amazing partner in Kevin Jorgeson. Sharing the experience with him has made it many times richer than it would have been without him. THIS SEASON IN Yosemite, Kevin and I experienced setbacks both from the government shutdown and from my injury. One of the biggest challenges with freeclimbing the Dawn Wall has been that the southern aspect of the climb makes it boiling

project like this, it is important to keep a sense of urgency. While injured, I continued to do finger- strengthening exercises, and I started climbing again as soon as possible. In the end it paid off. I learned to trust my instincts and continue to push forward. I’VE FOUND THAT MY strengths are the ability to dream big, to never give up and to endure a lot. Combine those with a sport- climbing background, and big-wall free climbing is the thing in life that I can be the best at. The best moments of my climbing life have been on El Cap. MY GOALS FOR the future are to be a loving husband, a great dad and to share my love of life and climbing with the people that will listen … and hopefully send the Dawn Wall.

April 2014 | ROCKANDICE.COM | 31

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t about 2 p.m. on December 15, Jordan Moore and Daniel Gloven were rappelling the Vertigo Tower of the Redgarden Wall in Eldorado Canyon, near Boulder, Colorado. They followed the standard rappels: two rappels to chain stations that take climbers down the wall left of Vertigo. At the second station, Gloven pulled the rope as Moore fed it through the chains.



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Moore leaned out and watched one side of the rope pile up on the ground. He didn’t visually confirm that both ends were touching but he remembers saying, “That’s probably good.� Moore rigged his ATC and started rappelling. “I wasn’t looking down,� he said. “Just kicking off, rapping fast.� Gloven, who was waiting at the belay stance, remembers seeing 30 feet of rope shoot through the chains. When he leaned out, he saw Moore lying on a ledge 70 feet below him. A party on a nearby route heard Gloven’s cries for help and used a cell phone to call for a rescue. A climber from another group stabilized Moore’s head until members of the Rocky Mountain Rescue Group arrived, rigged a litter and lowered Moore from the ledge. Moore says he had “barely a scratch� on his head, but he had sustained a traumatic brain injury, the equivalent, according to his doctor, of 12 concussions. Today, Moore says he is still having problems with his attention span and memory, but that he is expected to recover fully in 12 months. “No rock climbing for a year,� Moore says. “After that I will be back.�


[ ANALYSIS ] Moore wound up on the ledge with one strand of rope still threaded through his rappel device. The other strand dangled above the ledge. The obvious conclusion is that he hadn’t evened the ends. When Moore rappelled past the end of the strand still above the ground, he fell and landed on the ledge.

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Unfortunately, rappelling and belaying accidents in which the rope end passes through the rappel/ belay device are all too common. According to a report in the journal Wilderness and Environmental Medicine, based on incident reports ďŹ led by the Rocky Mountain Rescue Group from 1998 to 2011, belay and rappelling accidents in Boulder County in which the rope was too short accounted for 21 victims, 16 of whom had severe or fatal injuries. Accidents of this type are easy to prevent. All you have to do is tie knots in the ends of your rope. For


rappelling, you might want to buy a rope with a middle mark. This will aid in evening the ends of the rope, but you’ll still need to knot the ends to prevent rapping off them on multipitch climbs. Simply tie the ends together for all rappels. Make it a habit and never neglect to do it. Some climbers will argue that knotting the ends of your rope can result in the rope becoming stuck in cracks. This is true, but the occasional hassle of freeing your rope is a small price to pay to survive. For lowering, always tie a knot in the free end of the rope.



Days You Remember/

Angie Payne and Ethan Pringle, Photo: Keith Ladzinski

Yosemite Valley, Photo: Sheldon Neill

Ethan Pringle, Photo: Keith Ladzinski

Ethan Pringle and Mike Libecki, Photo: Keith Ladzinski

Liv Sansoz and Janet Wilkinson enjoy 180ยบ views from the Optic 2.5 tent, Photo Freddie Wilkinson

Mike Libecki and Ethan Pringle, Photo: Keith Ladzinski

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illustration by DUSHAN MILIC

At this section I began to feel dizzy. Whoa. Was I getting vertigo because of the aspect, a straight look down 300-plus feet, with hillsides dropping off further below? I struggled to the roof and grabbed the obvious holds, but was unable to pull through. What? After three or four attempts, I finally pulled the move, dizzier than ever. Now pain was beginning in my left arm and shoulder, and I was really having trouble breathing. Forty feet to go to the anchors and every move was a fight. I stumbled onto the ledge, yelled, “Off belay,” and took stock of my situation. I was having a heart attack, and because of the length, steepness and traversing nature of the pitch I couldn’t simply be lowered. Bob would have to come up before we could figure out how to get off. I began pulling up the rope, but after only about 20 feet I couldn’t hang on and it fell away. I felt as if I was in a tunnel and the light at the end of it was growing dimmer. “No!” I screamed, and began gulping big mouthfuls of air. The action revived me a bit and I tried again twice to pull up the rope, each time dropping it. Finally my condition seemed to stabilize, and I was able to haul the rope up and put Bob on belay. When he appeared over the roof, I explained what was

“No!” I screamed, and began gulping big mouthfuls of air.


happening. I’ve never seen anyone climb 40 feet so fast. If you’re ever having a heart attack high on an overhanging wall, be sure to have Bob Almond with you. He remained cool, calm and collected, and sprang into action. Seeing some of the San Antonio crew coming up the trail below, he called to them and explained ooking back, I knew I should have paid more attention to something that our predicament. One person immediately happened about a week earlier. Bob Almond and I, both in El Potrero Chico for started running down the trail for a vehicle, the winter, had walked up to the Ripped Wall to climb the fantabulous Strokin’ the while the others scanned the wall and pointed Bishop. The approach is steep but only 20 minutes, so I was surprised to arrive at the out that if we could get back down the fourth base struggling to breathe, and with my heart pounding. After a rest I calmed down, pitch, we should be able to rap from there to and Bob tricked me into leading the 5.11c pitch while he grabbed the initial 5.9. the ground. Bob quickly set us up and began The next week, Bob and I found ourselves at the base of Diablo’s Path, a six-pitch Kurt Smith lowering me. route taking a long, leftward-rising traverse on the severely steep 600-foot Outrage Wall, El I had to back-clip into each bolt or I would Potrero Chico, near Monterrey, Mexico. soon be hanging 20 feet out from the rock. Multi-pitch routes at the Potrero, a premier destination for big-wall sport climbing, are not Clipping a quickdraw into the first bolt I simply sport climbing, but rather long bolted routes on big serious rock. They are committing. reached, I pulled myself to the right and This time out I made sure to take the first 5.9 pitch; Bob would lead the next two, clipped the rope into the draw. I’d which go at 5.11c and 5.11b, and I would get the “mudball” pitch, which features a managed to remain fairly calm Got an epic? Rock and Ice accepts gripping 5.10b roof. throughout, but now I began to first-person stories from The first three pitches had enjoyable climbing on steep rock and big holds. The panic: When I tried to let go of the climbers like you. Articles fourth pitch started up overhanging blocks, which led to a smooth, exposed wall draw, my hand wouldn’t respond. may be up to 1,200 words. Send to: aosius@ splattered with what looked like bits of flung mud, but served as small, crimpy holds. Great, now I was having a




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MY EPIC ADVENTURE “Man, if you have any money, you stroke. I had to reach over, pry should get yourself into a better my fingers open, place another hospital.” draw in my right hand, and close After a few hours, the HIV my fingers over the draw with my test came in negative (I always left hand. Fortunately, my arm wondered about that—not worked to pull myself over to clip because of risky behavior but the rope each time, but my hand because I’d had numerous continued to refuse to respond. transfusions when I’d had cancer Reaching the third-pitch belay, years before), and I was moved I waited for Bob, who arrived to intensive care. IC was a swiftly, reeled the rope in, and set up to lower me to the ground. When I reached One of the doctors confided, terra firma, our three friends tried to carry “Man, if you have any money, me, but the trail was you should get yourself into a too steep, rocky and better hospital.” narrow. What worked best was for me to walk with all three of them different world: brand-new and holding me up by my harness. At state of the art. I spent three the bottom of the canyon, a truck days there, and learned that was waiting to whisk me to the I was truly fortunate and my small clinic in Hidalgo. condition could be treated with The doctor on duty took one medication and without surgery. look at me and called for the On the fourth day, I switched to Hidalgo ambulance to transport a dorm room with eight beds, me to the hospital in Monterrey. and spent the next weeks there. The ambulance, a converted The cardiologist was a great guy VW bus, arrived quickly, but who made me take a treadmill before we could get on the road test before he released me. the driver had to stop at City Tami and I drove up to Austin Hall for a voucher for gasoline, to see a top heart surgeon, who and then stop at the Pemex for had me describe everything some fuel. Then he wove in and that occurred in the hospital in out of traffic, siren wailing and Mexico, and then said, “They horn blasting, the 30 miles to did everything according to the Monterrey. latest protocols.” Monterrey has some fine To top it off, after I spent 10 hospitals but when you have little days in the hospital, including money and no insurance you’ll three in intensive care, the whole probably end up at the University bill came to only $600. Hospital, also known as the People’s Hospital. The emergency I CONTINUE to climb, I just no room was a horror show: crowded and dirty, with used syringes longer travel to cliffs more than left on the windowsills, a dead a couple of hours from a good guy lying next to me, and people hospital. In the 20 years since throwing up all over the place. my heart attack, I’ve bolted But the staff rushed me to a room more than 85 routes in the while my long-suffering wife, Potrero. Tami, who was new to Mexico and didn’t speak Spanish, dealt with [ ABOUT THE AUTHOR ] the admitting procedures. The “Magic” Ed Wright was born staff insisted on an HIV test; after in Mexico, and started rock all, I was a skinny, long-haired climbing in 1967. He and his gringo with cuts and bruises all wife, Tami, divide their time over my arms and legs. between El Potrero and Devil’s One of the doctors confided, Lake, Wisconsin.

April 2014 | ROCKANDICE.COM | 35

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My friend Jonathan Thesenga (JT) is always making outrageous, blathering statements. Yet many of his hyperbolic proclamations contain nuggets of truth and wisdom. His latest claim was that we all have up until age 33 to reach our peaks in climbing. Not 32; not 34; but 33 years old. After that, the very best outcome we can expect is to ride the slowly downward-sloping plateau toward that great big metaphorical sunset— which in actuality is a flaming hellfire awaiting each and every one of our souls. “There’s no way that’s true,” I said to JT. “Besides, didn’t you just send your hardest route this summer? And look at you: over 40 and bald as baby’s balls.” “You might be able to climb one or two letter grades harder,” JT clarified. “But let’s say you’ve only done one 5.14a by the time you hit 33 … No matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, you will never, ever climb 5.15a.” “I’m 32.” “One. More. Year,” JT said, clicking his head back and forth like a metronome. My first thought was, Remind me again:

The Dalai Lama says happiness can be achieved by practicing compassion, but I’m here today to tell you that happiness is actually only attained once you fully grasp that you will never do anything great.




’m the first to admit that I’m not cool. I don’t climb very hard. I don’t send the gnar. I don’t run it out. I don’t go big. I don’t look good in “no shirt + beanie.” And, now that I’m in my 30s, I don’t care. Mostly because, at this point, I don’t really have a choice, do I? I’m learning some important life lessons about mediocrity. It’s a pervasive force that must be accepted and embraced for longterm health and happiness. Like an unwelcome couch-surfing guest, Mediocrity has no plans to leave anytime soon. We are who we are—whether we try to be better or just give up. Free will is vanity, we’re all slaves to the cats on the Internet, Jim Bridwell is our de facto overlord and there’s nothing we can do about it.

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Why is this guy my friend? I pondered a sec, but the answer to that question remained inscrutable. Back before I could even climb 5.12, I’d always pictured myself climbing 5.14d one day. It wasn’t just wistful daydreaming; I truly believed I could and would do that. My ambition wasn’t just limited to sportclimbing grades, either. I’ve pictured myself doing the Eiger North Face in a push, standing atop Cerro Torre, bouldering V14, free climbing El Cap … and so much more! These are dreams that most climbers have, I suspect. And like most climbers, I also suspect that I will join the ranks in never achieving any of those fantasies. This is a terrible realization to be having at such a young age, but there’s a bright side

Illustration by | MEG BISHARAT


Pete Kamitses, Moonshine and Chronic (5.13+), Silver Lake, Adirondacks, New York. PHOTO BY ROSS HENRY

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TUESDAY NIGHT BOULDERING changing attitudes toward human-growthhormone supplements thanks to visionaries and saints like A-Rod. In fact, I could easily see myself getting a second wind at age 60 when—thanks to a few tiny changes in diet, a new yoga class, and a total reengineering of my DNA sequence in an experimental underground lab somewhere in the Chihuahuan desert—I become a genetically modified 5.15-crushing sexagenarian mandroid who lives on a strict diet of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents, corticotropins and RedBull. Or maybe I could become an immortal vampire. The kind of vampire always surrounded by buxom sex-crazed female vampires. (Not one of those impostor emo cry-face Backstreet Boy vampires from Twilight). The plus side to being a climbing Maybe I’ve got a few good years of vampire would be guaranteed progress left in me … Maybe I have a good climbing conditions as, of course, I would only climb few decades! Yeah, why not? Suck it, at night. A big negative would JT, you big bald baby! be spending my immortality punting off the top of Zulu (5.14a). I’d try to have a good sense of humor about it, though. Even in that, then—and only then—are you free my cold, undead stasis, I would laugh as I from expectation and disappointment. Only thought back hundreds of years to when I then are you free to be, as the French say, a once said, “God, I feel like I’ve been onesexy bitch. hanging this route FOREVER!” Fortunately, in climbing there is no I don’t know … It’s all just so grim. If so shortage of amazingly effective platitudes to much of our pleasure in climbing derives make that long, slow, downward-sloping ride through progression, then I wonder what toward that great big sunset more bearable: happens when that slow upward trend turns Summits and grades don’t matter! It doesn’t flat at 33 … then soon starts going south? matter how hard you climb because it’s all What is there to look forward to? about the journey! And there are a hundred more on Supertopo.com. When I look back on my own climbing achievements, I often wonder: “Was I happier when I climbed my first 5.13a than when I spent this past New Year’s Eve in climbed my first 5.12d? Was I significantly Rocktown—which, for the record, is a much more happy when I climbed my first 5.14a better bouldering area than its neighbor Little than when I climbed my first 5.13d?” Rock City (aka Stone Fort) and you are dead And the answer is, predictably, HELL wrong if you think otherwise, even though YES! So, you’ll probably understand why I both locations are two of the most fantastic might be concerned about JT being right. destinations in the United States, which It’s not so much the specific grade of the makes that never-ending locals’ debate about climb that concerns me. It’s the whole which place has better bouldering totes moot. prospect of ever-diminishing happiness. As it was New Year’s Eve, I spent the day Hold on, hold on. Let’s not get carried reflecting on the past year, and thinking away. There is a very good chance that JT forward to the next one. 2013 was mildly is totally wrong. Maybe I’ve got a few good miserable for me, climbing-wise. I never got years of progress left in me … Maybe I have into a rhythm. I never climbed consistently. a few decades! Yeah, why not? Suck it, JT, I gained a bunch of weight. Then my you big bald baby! lingering shoulder injury got knocked up and After all, we need to consider advances gave birth to an angry little bastard called in science, surgery and our inevitably bicep tendonitis that has been terrorizing my to it: Feigned acceptance through forced reconciliation, all smothered in a bunch of witless feel-good bromides like: “Just go with the flow!” and “It’s all about the experience!” and, dumbest of all, “The best climber in the world is the one having the most fun!” Have fun lying to yourself for the rest of your life, bro. The Dalai Lama says happiness can be achieved by practicing compassion, but I’m here today to tell you that happiness is actually only attained once you fully grasp that you will never do anything great, you will never live your dreams, and you will always be partially disappointed by every outcome in your guaranteed-to-be plain and ordinary existence. Once you understand





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suspected. I tried it both ways, just to be sure, and decided that my original instinct was right. Then I worked the top out—or, as one of the girls who was there and in the strongkid’s posse called it, without irony, the “upand-over.” (I like that.) The up-and-over was difficult—or rather, devious. It was devious in that it played to one of climbing’s most classic beginner mistakes: getting the hands too high before moving the feet. The secret to this up-and-over was keeping the hands low, placing the left foot up really high, then going for the obvious finishing jugs. I practiced the up-and-over twice. I felt overwhelming fortunate just to be outside on December 31, to swing and paw around on some of the finest Rocktown was slamming that day. sandstone in the country. Being Posses and pads were everywhere, fit and strong is nice, but I am recognizing that our form is always a yo. And pretty soon there was a work in progress. group of college-aged kids here for Meanwhile, the strong kid shoed up The Vagina. again for another burn. Didn’t go as well as the first time, and he botched the crux. He threw a mini-wobbler, rested for one minute and tried again. He to flash every boulder problem, no matter reached his initial high point, but because he how improbable success may seem. You only never bothered figuring out the up-and-over, get one shot to climb on something your first again, he fell. time, and I love that opportunity. Whether “Now I’m feeling tired!” he moaned. “Why I’m successful or not, those first tries on a didn’t I just do it the first time? Why? Why? problem have led to some really positive WHY?” experiences. I smiled. He reminded me of my 20-yearAs soon as my left hand touched the undercling, a painful electric jolt shot into my old self. One ground-up attempt after another. And so many times I’ve left those bicep/shoulder, and I fell to the pad. boulders empty-handed but for my split tips Rocktown was slamming that day. Posses and flappers gushing blood. and pads were everywhere, yo. And pretty But this day was different for me. I was soon there was a group of college-aged kids smart about working the beta. I know how here for The Vagina. One of those kids was my body works and moves. And I saved clearly alpha because everyone in his posse enough juice so that, on my next try, I was expecting him to flash The Vagina. He absolutely flowed right up The Vagina. Like a shoed up, chalked up and put up by climbing kind old gentleman. through the roof and sticking the crux move It was the last day of 2013, and this was to a faint crimper, but then fell as he tried to actually the first project I had sent all year. It pull over the lip of the boulder. felt like I’d been given a gift. But the real gift It was a fantastic effort. I was impressed. was realizing that beyond progression, there’s The kid, however, was absolutely irate with the a greater satisfaction that has nothing to do universe, which had apparently robbed him with grades. There was that sense of mastery of the flash. He couldn’t believe it. His posse that only comes through experience, that I couldn’t believe it. No one could believe it. can now see will improve with age. While the posse continued its freak-out, But I’ll be honest. Burning off the young I went back to futzing around, sampling strong kid was nice, too. all the individual moves, but avoiding the one that made my shoulder angry. I figured Andrew Bisharat is training for his out how to stick the crux crimper—placing upcoming plateau. my foot lower than Colette’s, just as I had whole situation like a petulant little brat. We warmed up among a crowd of stronglooking youngsters and made our way over to a classic Rocktown problem called The Vagina. I wish I could come up with something funny to say about the beautiful name of this beautiful problem. My friend Colette showed me the beta. I took my time inspecting each hold, envisioning myself climbing through the sequences. I visualized Colette’s beta with clarity, but made mental notes that I probably would do this move or that move slightly differently. I sat down for a flash attempt since Bruce Lee once told me that one should always try

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HAUNTED HOUSE L A RG O CH A SE S PH A N T OMS ON TH E FI R ST FR EE A SCEN T OF TH E CHOU I NA R D - H ER BERT W ITH LE GEN DA RY B R ITISH C LI M B E R PE TE LI V E SEY STORY BY JOHN LONG EDITOR'S NOTE: Pete Livesey was an athletic phenom from the get-go. At just 14 years old he won his first cross-country race, at a course just above the English town of Huddersfield, where he was born in 1943. His success in the rough-and-tumble moor race attracted the attention of Derek Ibbotson, the world record holder for the mile at the time, and Pete began training in earnest, eventually setting a U.K. junior record for the mile in just over four minutes. His interest soon turned to other outdoor pursuits, and he would go on to become a caver known for his boldness. After winning several canoeing events, he was approached by the selection committee and tried out for the white-water slalom team for the 1968 Olympics. In his later years he dominated the over-45 division in national orienteering meets, but it was his prowess as a rock climber that earned Livesey lasting renown. During the 1970s, Livesey was among the best climbers in the world. His routes like Footless Crow at Goat Rock and Right Wall on Dinas Cromlech in the U.K., and Crack A Go-Go and the Bircheff-Williams in Yosemite ushered in and solidified the 5.11 grade. Though widely heralded as a brave visionary who raised the bar of difficulty, he also garnered a reputation for being competitive and uncompromising. Several of his routes now have asterisks that delineate less-than-pure style or outright misrepresentation. Livesey chipped holds, reported routes as “free” on which he’d rested, even listed himself as the first ascentionist when his partner had actually first freed the line. Livesey died of cancer in 1998 at the young age of 54. His last words to his friend John Sheard shortly before his death were: “Don’t let the buggers start talking about me when I’m gone.” But, of course, when you achieve as much as Livesey, people will talk. This month a collection of stories about Livesey, Fast and Free, Pete Livesey, will be released. In this excerpt about the first free ascent of the Chouinard-Herbert (5.11c) in Yosemite, John Long presents a complicated Livesey—a natural athlete and force of nature, but also all too human.

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This shot was first published in the U.K. magazine High to accompany one of Livesey’s scientific pieces on training for climbing. The article was entitled "You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine."


NOBODY KNEW WHICH one was hotter: Yosemite in the summer, or the middle of the sun. This heat is the main reason I met and climbed with so many Englishmen. All the way into my mid-20s I was marooned in college and couldn’t escape for summer vacation till June, when most of the Yosemite hardcore had migrated to the sissy slabs up in Tuolumne Meadows, or went mountain climbing in the High Sierras, or sailed for Europe if they had the dough, or worked some dead-end job if they didn’t. One Valley journeyman, Hank Dubois, must have landed the best of these gigs when he worked the summer as a night watchman in a Fresno mattress factory. No shit. British climbers with Yosemite aspirations usually waited until June, when the Valley caught fire, to invade Camp 4 (Yosemite’s traditional

climbers’ campground, and now listed in the national Register of Historic Places). Most of them had fooled away another desultory U.K. winter scratching up the grit, slumming around pubs drinking warm beer, pestering girls and watching “Dr. Who.” The California heat was a boon to this gang, who often arrived gaunt and pale as corpses. Many times right into the mid-1970s it was just me, mad dogs and a few Englishmen who actively climbed Valley walls in July and August. Of course this is not literally true. A handful of California and Colorado climbers, plus a smattering of French and Germans, were also so keen on Yosemite glory you couldn’t have dragged them from The Ditch with a 20-mule team. There was plenty of new ground to prospect and we tried laying claim to it all. Young maniacs fall in together much as water

April 2014 | ROCKANDICE.COM | 43

the base of Sentinel early one morning. At that time, the Chouinard-Herbert was a trade route, a cobblestone on the road toward El Cap, Mount Watkins, and the other Valley mega walls. Most every pitch involved some direct aid. Parties normally took two days, with a bivouac at the base to avert the Mountain Room bar and encourage an alpine start. Pete and I took a single 9-mm rope that seemed a half-mile long, a daypack with chocolate and a little water, smokes for me since Pete didn’t smoke, and a

The great climbing partnership of John Sheard and Pete Livesey is captured during a 1974 photo shoot at Ilkley Crag in Yorkshire. This was the venue for Livesey's signature route Wellington Crack (5.11d). Below: The original Sentinel summit register.

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pools. I’d barely finished shaking hands with Ron Fawcett when we stuffed a few things into a mail sack and started up El Capitan, a signal event in every rock climber’s career. I think we both were 18 years old and, like sharks, had to keep moving or die. We climbed at roughly the same level, and might have made the first one-day ascent of the Nose had we not gotten fried alive by high-noon temps on a windless day, leaving us to huddle under our sleeping pads on the ledges below the Great Roof. Ron had never done any aid climbing and had no clue about the techniques, which I hadn’t bothered explaining. We spent the remains of the day panting, eating hard-boiled eggs and going over the basics, 1,500 feet up the Captain. Ron mentioned a climber named Pete Livesey, reigning Lord of British rock, who he especially admired and who’d brought modern training techniques to the work. The next season I met Livesey at Arch Rock. The other Brits I’d climbed and caroused around with all seemed like Limey imprints of a Stonemaster, always seeking novelty, havoc and brotherhood. Pete Livesey was different—thin, with oversized glasses, a rowdy blond mop, and one of those faces Rockwell never painted. Most everything Pete did was his own idea, and he did a lot wherever he went. This made it almost unique when he agreed to join me on one of my projects: the first free ascent of the north face of Sentinel, via the classic Chouinard-Herbert. Pete, who was 10 or so years older than me, was maybe the only other climber in camp just then who seemed up to the task. I’d never roped up with Pete, but Ron called him a great technician and I’d read about his routes like Footless Crow, in the Lakes, and the Right Wall, on Dinas Cromlech, which my hometown partner Rick Accomazzo came screaming off while attempting to dick the on-sight. Anyhow, Pete and I got the gear together and hiked up to


skeleton rack of gear. I didn’t even wear a shirt. We hiked across the meadow and started up the switchbacks for Sentinel, exchanging little more than grunts. The first complete sentence I said to Pete was to slow the fuck down. The guy hiked like an antelope. “Better throttle it back and save it for the route,” I said. He picked up the pace. Then we were racing for real, a contest that nearly killed me because Pete, as I later learned, had been a national-level middle-distance runner, in the mold of Sebastian Coe. We raced all the way to the base, where bushy terraces jag up right to the start of the climb. We didn’t break stride and kept blazing, snot flying, wheezing like horses, over crumbly rock and through the green stuff where I nearly pitched off lunging for roots and hummocks, trying to reel Pete in. Never could. From Camp 4, directly across the Valley, Sentinel resembles a huge gray tombstone blocking the sun. From rock bottom, the upper wall rears into ancient shade, neither friendly nor benign, but wholly other. It sobers you right up. I informed Pete that the initial section followed an infernal Valley wide crack. And since most Englishmen didn’t know about “the wide,” I’d be leading the first block of, say, a dozen or so pitches. Ignoring me, Pete flaked out the cord and led off, unbelayed. I told him I’d have him on in a moment and he said whenever I got around to it was fine. At the next belay, I noted to Pete that I’d followed the pitch in half the time he’d taken to lead it, and he promised me the same at the end of the next pitch. And so it went as we swung leads over the next 1,200 feet. Besides a pesky slanting crack down low, which Pete followed in no time, the rest went quickly. Since the first ascent, 14 years earlier (in 1962, by the Yosemite pioneers Yvon Chouinard and TM Herbert), the route had become a popular wall, and was peppered with relics ranging from soft-iron Euro pegs to homemade nuts to a day pack— frayed, covered with Cyrillic writing—we found on top of Chessman’s Pinnacle. Each piece of tat and fixed steel bong bore the slipstream of a person who had passed this




way and had an experience. By what feelings and dreams had these phantoms ever arrived at this belay stance or that flaring crack? Where were they now? Every trade route murmurs these questions. I smoked a cigarette and we pushed on into the business. The wall jacked up to vertical. Pete stemmed up a corner God must have polished with jeweler’s rouge, and rigged a belay from slings at the start of the “Afro-Cuban Flakes” pitch. Most Yosemite big walls feature some passage of trouser-filling exposure, and this was that place, in spades. We paused, our bodies pasted right out on the bald face a few hundred feet below the summit, dangling side by side off a cluster of bolts and old pitons hammered straight up into a roof crack, and drank a little water, wondering out loud where “Afro-Cuban Flakes” came from. I suggested that to some eyes, one of the dark, gong-like flakes scabbed on the wall described a rough outline of Cuba. Pete didn’t know Cuba from Mars and figured the name came from nothing in particular. Climbers were always ascribing fly titles to features and routes, said Pete, and they didn’t have to signify jack shit so long as they sounded cool or brainy. Pete also said that since I outweighed him by 50 pounds, belaying me out on the sharp end felt like being strapped to a bomb. I said I wasn’t there for his opinion and to just drink the Kool-Aid and throw me on belay. And where the hell did he think I should go? The normal route traversed dead right past a line of old bolts and a few rusted fixed pegs, meeting a fingertip roof crack maybe 25 feet away. None of it looked easy. Unfortunately, the only holds were down below the fixed gear, and I wasn’t sure what, if any, protection I might arrange. As we gazed at the expanse, Pete changed his tune, swearing this was light lifting for a climber of my magnitude. I could check off Cuba and Africa and half of Europe in nothing flat because I’d free climbed Astroman the previous year, and this was the next legitimate big wall to go, if I could just bust past these flakes. So there was no sense in pissing in his ear about protection and shitty holds. I needed to chalk up and get it done. I told Pete that such a blinkered, Pollyanna-ish opinion might mitigate me into an ass fucking. I went anyhow since Pete was older and cannier and could talk a cat off a tuna boat when he needed to. Plus I wanted the first free ascent like mad. The traverse do-si-doed across sidepulls and barnacles and went swimmingly except for the bouldering move I cranked just after clipping a rusty, good-for-nothing bolt from the Bronze Age. Climbing slightly down and right from there (sadly, beneath the bolts and fixed pins), I had to run out the rest of the traverse all the way to the ceiling. I hadn’t taken any small wires, which is what I needed to protect the crux, so I thieved past the thin crack moves looking at a great pendulum fall. I’d pretty much botched the lead in every way but by pitching off. (Subsequent ascents followed an easier, smarter and slightly higher line, with the thin jamming over the ceiling remaining the crux.) Above the ceiling the angle lessened and I chugged to a stance. One more easy pitch and the Chouinard-

BY WHAT FEELINGS AND DREAMS HAD THESE PHANTOMS EVER ARRIVED AT THIS BELAY STANCE OR THAT FLARING CRACK? WHERE WERE THE Y NOW? Herbert would be ours. Then Pete yelled up that there was no need for him to follow my lead, since the hard part was over, and because if he pinged off that boulder move at the start of the runout he’d log a horrific sideways whipper into the sweet bye-and-bye. So I was free to “abseil” down and back clean the lead, then we would rap the route from the belay. Pete hadn’t brought his plimsolls and didn’t want to hike down in tight EBs. “The hell you say,” I yelled.

Henry Barber (leading) and Pete Livesey attempt the first free ascent of Dream Liberator (5.11c), Great Zawn, Bosigran Cliff, Cornwall, while making the TV series "American Sportsman" in 1976.

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To be fair, I’d set Pete up for a hellish pendulum if he fell, and he wasn’t budging. So I pulled up the cord, doubled it and started down, hanging miles above the Valley floor on that skinny 9mm rope, swinging sideways and twirling in midair, lunging in to unclip bolts, finally pulling myself horizontally, hand-over-hand to Pete’s hanging stance. We started down. Pete first. Since the climb followed a fairly direct line, descending went quickly on the one long rope. While the lead rack had comprised an Anglo-American medley of our personal tackle, it wasn’t until near the bottom that I appreciated Pete’s diligence in rigging each anchor with slings, nuts and “krabs” belonging exclusively to my person. By the time we touched down on those ramps at the base, my rack consisted of a few sun-bleached runners I’d nicked off other routes, and a couple of wired Stoppers. But we’d bagged the first free ascent of another Yosemite big wall, so who cared? Of course we weren’t done. We still had to contend with the heinous Valley heat, and the moment we coiled the line and got into our hiking shoes we started racing down those ramps and down the switchbacks, across the meadow and we both just dove into the goddamn Merced River with our packs and shoes still on. Several years ago I co-hosted an episode of the popular American news show “60 Minutes,” where the soloing prodigy Alex Honnold climbed the Chouinard-Herbert with no rope. I couldn’t tear my eyes off him, a red pixel on a black face, pulling through the anxious silence.


TRAD GALAXY The Trad Climber’s Bible— the definitive source for the trad climber’s art.

SEVERAL YEARS AGO I COHOSTED AN EPISODE OF THE POPULAR AMERICAN NEWS SHOW “60 MINUTES,” WHERE THE SOLOING PRODIGY ALEX HONNOLD CLIMBED THE CHOUINARD-HERBERT WITH NO ROPE. I COULDN’T TEAR MY E YES OFF HIM. As I watched the TV monitor, where an enormous lens had pulled Alex close as he floated over the roof, I wondered if the collected astonishment, ingrained in the rock, murmured to him about a day 25 years earlier, before anyone cared but us, when the late, great Pete Livesey and I raced and harangued, rattled and wheezed up the trail, up the wall and down all over again, feeling like Honnolds. Every route is an enchantment. Every crag is a haunted house. John Long has written over 50 books and won fancy awards, but his two daughters are not particularly impressed.

Livesey on-sight soloing New Diversions (5.10a), New Diversions Cliff, Yosemite in 1977.

“All climbing is an ever-shifting adventure that answers old questions in fresh ways. . . . we’ve attempted to evoke the whole damn thing, a kind of trad galaxy spanning both of our careers, believing the goods lay more in the arc of the whole rhubarb than in any of the subplots.”

“There’s no substitute for experience. The Trad Climber’s Bible captures two lifetimes of experience through classic essays of personal adventure and to-the-point anecdotes per lessons learned. Not your average how-to book!” —Kevin Jorgeson, professional climber and veteran of the Dawn Wall Project, El Capitan, Yosemite, a.k.a. “The Hardest Climb Never Done”

—John Long, from the foreword



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Kyle O'Meara on his Crown Jewel (V11), a 25-foot highball at the Phantom Spires. Many call the line one of the top five boulder problems in California.

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Christine Zalecki reaches the point of no return on Grim Reality (V3), a splitter dihedral capped by a horizontal roof 15 feet off the deck. Hand jams or a big reach see you to the lip—then it gets hard. Spotters are Valerie Lim and Mark Griffith. Right: Kyle O'Meara on Ghost Dreamer (V5), right of Crown Jewel, Phantom Spires.

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t 7 a.m. he shivered awake, his sleeping bag covered in a hard frost sparkling in the rays of morning sun filtering through the camper windows of his 1993 Toyota Tacoma. You could say the boy was homeless, but that would be missing the point. The 17-year-old had recently moved up from the warmer clime of San Diego to settle in the much colder mountain town of South Lake Tahoe, a budding bouldering mecca. Aside from his truck, sleeping bag and a few changes of clothes, Harrison had only two other worldly possessions: a bouldering pad/ bed and the iPhone he'd recently purchased in an uncharacteristic moment of indulgence, figuring it would be helpful for finding housing in South Lake.


The phone lay buried in his sleeping bag. He powered it up and burrowed deeper into the bag to check the apartment listings. The Google Earth app was still open from late the night before. With fresh eyes, he zoomed in on a promising boulder and applied the app's measure tool. The rock was 40 feet long. There were dozens of this size. He scrolled further. Adjacent to a small cliff band was a perfect rectangular block that appeared to be twice the size of the others—90 feet long, if the measure tool was accurate. He zoomed further in. A telltale shadow hinted that at least one of the long faces was vertical or beyond. Finding an apartment could wait.


or 50 years, Tahoe's roadside boulders have been discovered, forgotten and discovered again. The first areas to be extensively developed (pre-pads) were Donner Summit, Lover's Leap, Rainbow and Bliss. The boulders at these long-established zones are rife with five-star problems. White Lines, a classic V8 at Donner Summit, links a series of marblewhite sloping edges that lead to a committing topout. At nearby Split Rock you will find a sweet circuit of tall (20-plus feet) edging climbs, as well as The Dyno, an epic V6 that traverses a burly diagonal-trending rail to a huge and committing dyno. At Bliss, an extensive area that overlooks the royal-blue waters of Lake Tahoe, the state’s largest alpine lake, check out the splitter dihedral of Grim Reality (V3) and try to keep it together when turning the highball 4-foot roof that guards the top. Down the hill, the Regular Route (V1) at the appropriately named Ladder Boulder cranks incut edges up a high and overhanging wall. At Rainbow, hit up Masterwork (V4) and Sweet Spot (V6), then find a swimming hole down in the nearby Yuba River. At Lover's Leap, the classic and old-school, circa 1950s, bouldering circuit dates back to the days of Royal Robbins and TM Herbert, and can still provide the uninitiated with a tiny-hold schooling.

Until recently, even Tahoe's most iconic boulders enjoyed only a sporadic ebb and flow of visitors. Over the decades various underground or select guides have partially chronicled these well-known areas. Three years ago, a lot changed. The longtime local Dave Hatchett began to gather information in earnest, both about established boulders and new ones, taking on the daunting task of building a complete bouldering guide to Tahoe. His support crew, an extensive cast of skilled and motivated Tahoe locals, embraced the cause, and the scope of the guide began to grow ... and grow. Tahoe's allure and deterrent are one and the same: hundreds of boulders are spread across varied terrain throughout a roughly 40-square-mile area—in some places densely populated, but for the most part an unspoiled and remote wilderness in an area rich in history. Gold and silver were found in the area in 1861 and once drew many miners, who created outposts and settlements. Now a different kind of prospector roams the hills. Hatchett, today a father of two, began climbing 30 years ago in his teens. By age 24 he’d made six ascents of El Capitan. Passionate by nature, he also enjoyed immersive stints as guitarist for the heavy-metal band Fortress and as a big-mountain pro snowboarder. Hatchett brought that same energy to the research and creation of the guidebook. His North

Kyle O'Meara on the crux of the highball Legoland arete No Drama (V5). This proud line is immensely alluring. Just don't blow itâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;the area is a long way from help. Spotters: Charlie Barrett in foreground, and Gabe Metzger.

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/ BETA /

Tahoe Bouldering WHEN: May through October. GUIDEBOOK: Lake Tahoe Bouldering by Dave Hatchett. CAMPING: Many different state-park or Forest Service campgrounds offer pay camping. Better still are the countless free bivy spots found on Forest Service land throughout the regionâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;just be sure to leave no trace and have a permit if you build a fire. For a more luxurious experience, camp or get a room at the Sierra Hot Springs in Sierraville, where you can soak trashed muscles in natural outdoor hot springs. EATS: South Lake, Truckee and Sierra City offer any kind of cuisine you can imagine. Some favorites are Sprouts, Wild Cherries and Thai Kitchen. Cheap prime-rib deals are often found at the bigger South Lake casinos. RECOMMENDED PROBLEMS No God (V0) Brain Direct (V0) Oh God (V1) Log Jam (V1) Blue Diamond (V2) Big Face (V2) The Ladder Regular Route (V2) Super High Me (V3) Grim Reality (V3) Showtime (V4) Bliss Arete (V4)

Chutes and Ladders (V4) Prime Directive (V5) Rogue Wave (V5) The Dyno (V6) Weathered Statue (V7) The Gerbler (V8) White Lines (V8) Guardian Angel (V8) Nietzsche Girls (V9) Polar Opposites (V10) Crown Jewel (V11)

Many old-school problems have names long forgotten, if any. Christine Zalecki enters the no-fall zone on a brilliant V4 at Split Rock in Donner Summit State Park. Inset: Emerald Bay on Lake Tahoe's West Shore.

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Lake Tahoe Bouldering, published last spring, is both beautiful and exhaustive. At 540 pages. it's thicker than the Bible, and when you consider that it's just Volume 1 of a trilogy, the scope of Tahoe bouldering begins to emerge. The new book has spurred an increase in the number of visiting climbers, though you're still unlikely to see many, spread out as they are on any of the nearly 8,000 established problems at Tahoe's 75 bouldering zones. During the research phase of Hatchett’s book, the strong and motivated core of Tahoe locals added nearly 1,500 new problems. “Every time I began to think Tahoe was tapped out, someone found some amazing new area,” Hatchett says. “The potential is still huge. I can't think of a better spot in America for first ascents.” Noah Kaufman, a well-traveled boulderer (who moonlights as an ER doc) has made Tahoe home for the past several years, enjoying a virtual gold mine of hard first ascents. If his name sounds familiar, it could be that you saw him on the TV show “American Ninja.” Not only did Kaufman fare well on the climbingoriented obstacle courses, he was also a producer's dream for sound bites as


Valerie Lim on the Regular Route (V1), a sustained line of powerful pulls on small but positive holds up a steep overhang at Bliss. Right: Harrison Eberlin on Major Mortimer, a V3 that climbs a burly arete, then traverses a high, positive rail for 20 feet.

he was one of only a few contestants not intimidated by the cameras. Watching Kaufman climb, you may wonder if anything does intimidate him. Drawn to virgin lines that are high and committing, he'll stack a few pads at the base, and request his would-be spotters to stand well back. Then he attacks like, well, a ninja. Some of his recent Tahoe contributions include Ground Control (V11), Silver Fox (V10) and Noah's Arete (V7). “Tahoe is a big, spread-out area much like Fontainebleau,” Kaufman says. “Every time you think you've seen enough to pass judgment, another amazing area pops out of the woodwork. The natural beauty and peacefulness of the Sierras also lends magic. [The area is] on par with the best areas I've seen over the last 25 years of climbing. It just takes a little fitness to get to some of the best gems. “There is so much more to be done that it boggles the mind.” The recent resurrection of an already established area nearly doubled the scope of Tahoe bouldering. Thirteen years ago, the longtime Tahoe local Tom Anderson found a cluster of boulders near the Sugarpine campground, and spent several weeks establishing most of that area’s 40 or so quality problems, such as Arrogant Bastard (V4), an overhanging flake, and the fun V1

finger crack called Lightning Thief. Three years ago, Hatchett spent a day bouldering at Sugarpine, then decided to stash his pad and hike up canyon through the trees. Within 50 yards he began to find untouched boulders of the same high quality as those below. Another realm opened. “We kept going back, establishing new zones and always hiking a bit further,” he says. “The boulders continue up the General Creek Canyon for seven miles. It really seems endless.” The gigantic area begins on gray and green boulders hidden in dense forest. “We've broken the area up into seven different bouldering zones— the lower ones are in the forest, but as you continue up canyon the trees eventually give way to open granite slabs that are littered with sweet white and gold erratics studded with diorite knobs.” In total, there are now over 1,200 problems at seven different zones at Sugarpine, with, he says, potential for up to 3,000. For comparison, consider that the last edition of the Hueco Tanks guidebook lists about 1,700 established problems.


ven when you know where to look, Legoland is hard to find,” says Harrison Eberlin of the area he found late at night by looking with Google Earth. Alone on the

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Dave Hatchett on the lofty Bliss Arete (V4), a classic packed among many other highquality problems at Bliss.

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Christine Zalecki on an unnamed V1 at Split Rock in Donner Memorial State Park. Right: Dr. Noah Kaufman does his rounds. Shown here on Getting Shacked (V3), Legoland.

approach—three trackless miles across rugged terrain— Eberlin experienced a stout dose of bushwhacking, droves of hungry mosquitoes, and a growing sense of uneasiness as he headed farther and farther out. “You never know if you're going to find any worthwhile boulders,” he says. “Sometimes you just find scruffy little blobs.” This time was different: Eberlin forged ahead up the rocky hillside that he knew from Google Earth, and down into the hidden draw he'd studied so carefully. On cue, the boulders appeared—50 gigantic granite blocks, jumbled randomly about like a child's Lego set, scattered over an area the size of two football fields. He knew instantly that he'd struck paydirt. Eberlin carried only one small pad that first day, but still found himself climbing some “very high” problems. He couldn’t resist: “The boulders were too cool not to climb.” Soon Eberlin introduced his friend Kyle Foster, a Tahoe resident of seven years, to the virgin boulder field. The pair spent over 30 days hiking, camping and plucking plum lines on over 30 stellar boulders while soaking in the beauty and quiet of their own little kingdom. “Harrison is the guy who always has one more effort in him regardless of how late it is or how hungry

you’re feeling,” notes Foster. “It's why he was able to find such a gem. Most people would scoff at the idea of bushwhacking for miles with no promise of success and no expectation of safety.” Even with directions and a developing trail, the hike is long (1.5 hours if you're fast and you don't get lost), but the golden patina edges and the austere and clean highball lines found on the big boulders should entice at least a visit or two from any devoted boulderer. “Half the experience is simply the trek out there,” says Foster. “You appreciate every send down to your easiest warm up. I find myself taking more in, rather than simply working problems: the fresh air, the peaks as far as you can see, the wildlife. And the granite.” Eberlin, now 19 and safely housed in South Lake, has since introduced dozens of others to the area, sharing many of the best potential lines in a selfless fashion.


motivated and tightly knit crew continues to find new boulders throughout the Tahoe Basin. Last summer, Kyle O'Meara, a strong and low-key transplant from Seattle, established what many consider to be Tahoe's—if not the state's—finest double-digit problem with his send of Crown Jewel (V11),

a stunning highball up a cracked golden face perched on a lofty hilltop above the towering Phantom Spires cragging area. O'Meara, Kaufman, Jon Thompson, Joel Zerr, Jesse Bonin, Charlie Barrett and others have established upwards of 100 hard and classic problems from V10 to V13 in the region over the past two years alone. While the harder problems tend to get the most buzz, easily 10 times as many are going up at V9 and under. In May, the bouldering season usually gets underway at the lower elevation areas like the Pie Shop and Zephyr Cove. By November, the first snowstorms begin to shut down the higher-elevation boulders, though now a few newer areas around Reno remain climbable throughout the winter. Those include the Washoe Boulders, a sweet collection of welded-tuff boulders that offer powerful lines on one- and twofinger pockets, and Doyle, another new spot north of Reno that offers Buttermilk-like boulders scattered across a desert hillside. Long overshadowed by California's more iconic bouldering venues, such as Yosemite and Bishop, Tahoe appears poised to join ranks as another of the Golden State's prized destinations. Jim Thornburg has published several climbing-related books, including Stone Mountains, which celebrates 35 of America's best cragging destinations.

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Kyle O'Meara on the first ascent of Guardian Angel (V8), a long (it begins well to the left of the big rail) and varied problem with a hard one-arm mantel to reach between rails.

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S T O R Y A N D P H O T O S B Y C A R O L I N E T R E A DWA Y BOULDER WAS FLOODING. I’d just broken up with my boyfriend and felt wrecked, and I’d been trapped in my apartment with no electricity, listening to automated flood warnings while the streets outside filled with water. On the third day, I plugged my computer into a small generator and checked e-mail for the hundredth time. A message popped up from Jonathan Siegrist, the 20-something pioneer of world-class, sometimes obscure sport climbing areas like the Fins in southern Idaho, Wizard’s Gate in Estes Park, Colorado, and various hollers in the Red River Gorge, Kentucky. “Wanna come up to Wyoming and shoot some stills at this new zone?” The next day, as the waters receded, I ran into Dave Graham, one of America’s best sport climbers, and mentioned Siegrist’s note. “Dude, you’re going to Wolf Point?” he asked, surprised and envious. “You’re so lucky!”

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Tom Rangitsch on Remus (5.13d), Wolf Point, Wyoming.

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Clockwise Left to Right: Jonathan Siegrist, his dog Zeke, and B.J. Tilden standing below the cave at Wolf Point in northwestern Wyoming. The gear box with the essentials. Tilden and Siegrist eye Reemed Out (5.13d), a project Tilden has since completed.

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Two days later, I’m sipping whiskey with Siegrist and B.J. Tilden, a local climber who lives with his wife, Emily, in a small house on a rectangular lot in downtown Lander, Wyoming. B.J., 33, is wearing tan work pants, a navy hoodie and a five o’clock shadow that creeps into his short brown hair. I’ve only met him once, but I know he is an accomplished climber who has skirted the spotlight. In 2012, he sent Moonshine (5.14d) at Wild Iris, a 10-year project that’s now considered Wyoming’s hardest sport route. Before that, Wyoming’s hardest was Double Down (5.14c), in Sinks Canyon, which B.J. bolted. Other proud ascents include a FA in Baldwin Creek called Orange for Anguish (5.14c), Whip and Spur (5.14b), at Wild Iris, and about 30 routes 5.13c and harder in the Lander area. But I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of him. We’re sitting at the table, swapping stories under the vacant gaze of several big-game trophies—two white-tailed deer B.J. shot with a bow, a mule deer, and an impala from a recent trip to Africa with his dad. In the past two years, B.J. and a handful of local climbers who prefer anonymity to fame have concentrated their energies (obsessions) into developing the high, rugged walls at Wolf Point. Someday, this inaccessible zone may hold the highest concentration of 5.14s of any single crag in the states. There are already 11 and about half of those are still projects. The more I listen to B.J. and Jonathan, the more I get the feeling Wolf Point might be the best sport-climbing area in the U.S. no one will ever visit. B.J. leans back in his chair and looks at me with green eyes that reveal an intensity incongruous with his outer cool. “So, what exactly has J told you about Wolf Point?” he asks. I realize I’d failed to ask Jonathan a single question in my haste to leave Boulder. B.J. laughs and Siegrist jumps in. “One night, our friend Zach [a young Lander climber] was camping in his tent, heard a noise in the middle of the night, and saw three


huge bears sitting by the campfire, like five feet away.” Siegrist’s eyes are wide and shiny. “That’s why I sleep in my truck.” “The first day of the season, my friend Eric got bit by a rattlesnake,” B.J. says in a voice as flat as pavement. “It didn’t even rattle. He took three steps with that thing attached to his leg.” MOST PEOPLE THINK of Wyoming as the land of Old Faithful, Dick Cheney and domestic oil, but in my experience, Wyoming has always been a sacred place— wild, lonely and free. I knew nothing about Wolf Point, only that it was an escape. A chance to disconnect from Boulder and remember who I was. Maybe, in the mountains of northwestern Wyoming, I could settle down and reconnect. The next morning we pack for the crag: shoes, harnesses, headlamp and two handguns. I pick up B.J.’s government-issue Colt 45, a heavy pistol that looks like something Al Capone might have carried during Prohibition. “All you need to climb at Wolf Point is an 80-meter rope and a handgun,” B.J. says, grinning. B.J. was born in Cody, Wyoming. When he was 14, his parents divorced and his mom moved from Cody to Lander. At 15, he started climbing. With mentors like Todd Skinner and Andrew Skiba, B.J. grew up in an elite brotherhood who tested themselves in the canyons carved into the high desert between Cody and Lander. “B.J. is this driving force in climbing development,” says local, Steve Bechtel, 43, who first spotted Wolf Point 20 years ago. “He’s a full-on Wyoming guy. He likes hunting and driving around in the dirt and wearing cowboy boots way too much to go anywhere else.” From camp, we move down the narrow, loose trail, sneak past a bear-bait site—a pile of rotting meat and junk food stashed by hunters to lure bears—and descend through stands of charred pines and neon-orange aspens. Their leaves, like tiny bright fans, usher us to the river. Halfway down the trail, we stop and stare across the

Balmy hang at the end of Next, Siegrist jumps on Spitting Venom, a gymnastic, sunbaked ravine. A pale band of dolomitic limestone the season. Some day, 42-meter test of power endurance on pockets sometimes crowns the scruffy brown hillside. Wolf Point. Wolf Point may have the occupied by wasps. We cross the Little Popo Agie River and scurry up the highest concentration of Siegrist sails through the lower crux (5.14a), at the sixth 5.14s in the United States. rattlesnake-infested scree until we stand, chests heaving, Currently there are 11. bolt—a giant dyno off an undercling that sends his feet below a streaked cave that looms 150 feet overhead. Gray flying. He regroups, picks a rhythm and cruises through permadraws dangle from 30 new routes, most between the next section of relentless two-finger pockets. The 5.13 and 5.14. moves are long—each pocket is four feet from the next. “Where are the warm-ups?” I ask, half-joking. There’s no matching. If I know anything about Siegrist, it’s B.J. points to a relatively vertical line of bolts that that he makes hard climbing look easy and today it seems snakes up the edge of the cave—a 5.11d. The next as if he’s being pulled upward by an invisible thread. “easiest” routes are between 5.12c and 5.13b, but the The first real rest is 100 feet up. Siegrist shakes and majority of the climbing at Wolf Point is 5.13c and harder. After warming up, the guys face their recently bolted projects. B.J. is one fall away “THE FIR ST DAY OF THE SEASON, M Y FR IEN D from completing Reemed Out, a line that follows Remus, 5.13d, then extends to the E R I C G O T B I T B Y A R A T T L E S N A K E ,” B . J . S A Y S I N top of the cave. Siegrist calls it the area’s “flagship” route. An 80-meter rope is barely A V O I C E A S F L A T A S P A V E M E N T. “ I T D I D N ’ T E V E N long enough for the climb. Siegrist is close R AT TLE. HE TOOK THR EE STEPS W ITH TH AT on Spitting Venom, a hard variant of B.J.’s route Kill Em All (5.14b). Tom Rangitsch, T H I N G A T T A C H E D T O H I S L E G .” local climber and developer, is here today as well, working one of the steepest lines in the prepares for the next two cruxes, a meager line of pockets cave, Romulus, which he bolted. and edges that leads to the route’s hardest climbing: a At Wolf Point, there’s enough mutual respect between final boulder problem on the headwall. friends to preclude the need to red tag projects. There’s “Any potential suitor for the route will get through the plenty of rock for everyone to clean, bolt and project. lower sequence, but it’s taxing,” says Siegrist. “Imagine But a winter storm is building in the mountains and climbing 100 feet just to get to where you’re gonna fall.” the urgency these guys feel to complete their projects is Transitioning to the headwall, Siegrist crimps up 20 feet palpable. of imperceptible gray ripples, and scurries to the anchor. Rangitsch deciphers the bottom crux of his route, He calls the route 5.14c. works the top section and lowers. He’s pumped but close. Next, B.J. pulls onto his project, Reemed Out. He climbs Rangitsch is an ER doc with a family. In his free time, he the bottom section like he’s done it a thousand times, cleans and bolts routes at Wolf Point, often alone.

April 2014 | ROCKANDICE.COM | 61

, / BETA /

W O L F P O I N T, W Y O M I N G GETTING THERE For specific route info and directions, visit Wild Iris Mountain Sports at 166 Main St., Lander, Wyoming. Any of the friendly locals there will be able to help you. SEASON Summer and early fall. Due to snow, the area is generally inaccessible October to June. RECOMMENDED PROBLEMS Natural Selection (5.11d) Eat What You Kill (5.12c) Twice as Loud as Reason (5.13a) Romulus (5.13c) Reemed Out (5.13d) Kill Em All (5.14a/b) Tilden on Reemed Out (5.13d) at Wolf Point.

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March 2014 | ROCKANDICE.COM | 63

Clockwise from Left: Siegrist on Kill 'Em All (5.14b). Tilden lowers after a big day. Enjoying the night life near Wolf Point.

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reefing through steep underclings. Four bolts from the top, the cliff kicks up to a “slabby” arete. He chicken-wings and pitches, swinging out over the canyon. When the rope finally stretches to the ground, B.J. unties and slumps on a rock, head down. IN 1994, Steve Bechtel and Scott Milton first caught a glimpse of Wolf Point. “For years we called that thing the Mirage,” says Bechtel. “It was this crazy good-looking cliff but impossible to get to.” In 2005, while he and Todd Skinner were developing a nearby crag called Ghost Town, Bechtel decided he had to see Wolf Point up close. “Suddenly, I just freaking walked over there,” he says. “It was a heinous bushwhack through this terrible talus stuff and it was hot and there were snakes everywhere, and I put in one route, a 5.10 corner I bolted on lead.” Wyoming has always had more climbing than climbers. Even in the Lander area, development beyond Sinks Canyon and Wild Iris has been lonely and scattered. Though many small crags exist, the area is vast with few climbers. “Todd was against dividing our efforts,” Bechtel says.


“If you get a bunch of guys in there at Wolf Point, like now, you can put in 25 to 30 routes a year. But with one guy at each crag, it’s much slower. Plus, you don’t have the group psych, the friends to hang out with while you’re getting dirty bolting.” Developing a sport crag takes hundreds of labor-intensive hours. And it’s not cheap. The hardware alone to develop 30 routes in the cave at Wolf Point costs about $8,500. On average, each route requires 15 permadraws at $10 each and 15 bolts at $8/bolt, totaling some $270. You also need a bolting kit, which consists of several hundred dollars’ worth of gear including a $500 hammer drill, an $80 wall hammer, several drill bits at $25 each, a blow tube, wrench, ascender, Grigri, aider, brushes, protective eyewear and static lines. Work hours, gas money and food not included. “Wolf Point takes more effort than any other area I’ve developed in my life,” says Siegrist, who has helped put 10 sport crags on the map. This is partly due to the scale of the cliff. It’s big. It’s steep. It’s difficult and sketchy to access from the top, a pebble-covered slope with no available natural anchors like trees or boulders. It’s also not the cleanest rock in the world. It’s southfacing and steep enough that it rarely gets a decent soaking. Wyoming is dusty. Every inch of the cave is covered in debris. Every pocket contains silt and mud and potential inhabitants like spiders and wasps. According to B.J., it takes about 30 hours to clean and bolt a route at Wolf Point. The few who do it are obsessed. Route development is a labor of love.

B.J. LOOKS UP at his project with desire and doubt. The air, spiked with the smell of wet sage, grows raw and thick with moisture. Shivering on a static line 100 feet up, I look across watch the nearby crag Ghost Town, blackened from a fire in the 1990s, disappear into a snowy mist creeping down canyon. B.J. pulls on his shoes. One last try. He battles through the lower crux and barely hangs on through the middle section. He manages to shake out below the damp headwall. The canyon is growing darker and wetter by the moment. Trembling, B.J. pulls the headwall, bear hugs the arete and powers up to the chains. For a moment, he looks shocked, then ecstatic. Another 5.13c project sent. I rappel and start shoving camera gear into my pack. Siegrist picks up a flat gray rock and spells out “S-P-I-T-TI-N-G V-E-N-O-M” in large round letters with a black paint pen. He places the plaque below his route and we descend the slick scree, chased by a wall of sleet. At the river we turn back to see Wolf Point disappear into the fog that’s swallowing even the brightest aspens. Freezing and slipping up the trail, we finally make it to the cars, hop in, and crank the heat. The 4x4 road has turned into a greasy conveyor belt that I navigate, mostly sideways, toward the Lander Bar. SOME DEVELOPERS are reluctant to share their crags for fear that the area will get too popular. Siegrist isn’t too worried that will happen at Wolf Point. “I’ve developed enough areas to know what it takes to make a crag popular, and what it takes to doom a climbing

area to obscurity,” Siegrist says. “Wolf Point will be an obscure crag forever.” Bechtel says that getting people to go to Wolf Point has always been a challenge. “Wolf Point is a really hard cliff to climb at, and it’s really hard to get to," he says. "It’s almost like alpine sport climbing . Which helps keep the riff-raff out. It’s the real deal. Not to mention, you have to drive right by a ton of fantastic, easier climbing on the way.” Even if no one shows up, Tilden says that developiing a crag in your own vision is pretty special, "and it’s pretty rare. Wolf Point is basically a blank canvas.”

Siegrist savors the fruits of his love—clean holds. The typical new route at Wolf Point takes about 30 hours to scrub.

THE NEXT DAY I head back to Boulder, a world away from the utopian sport-climbing frontier at Wolf Point. The six-hour drive through the brown plains of Wyoming feels like three. My house is quiet, empty. Exhausted, I crash for a few hours. At 1 a.m., I wake up, make tea, grab my camera and speed to Leadville for an endurance race. At 3 a.m. I arrive, enveloped by the same storm that chased me from Wolf Point. Standing at the trailhead in the pre-dawn blackness, I squint at the shapes of mountains around me. Four days ago, in the wake of the flood and a broken relationship, I’d thought I’d lost my one shot at happiness. Staring at the dark, blank canvas of the mountains, I sense new possibilities taking shape. I just can't see them yet. Caroline Treadway is a free-range journalist. She lives in post-apocolyptic Boulder.

April 2014 | ROCKANDICE.COM | 65

FIELD TESTED [ FEATURES ] > Lightest technical boot; 1 pound 10 ounces for size 42 (per boot) > 37-47, 48 (half sizes) > Unconventional design, with no tongue and a floating ankle. > Rigid heel to toe, but soft, flexible upper. > Three-season warmth, but pushable to four-seasons in most lower-48 conditions. > Recommended for steep ice, alpine ice, traditional mixed and mountaineering. > European fit on the narrow side, but the boot forms to your foot and can widen with use.


ast winter, Rock and Ice tested and reviewed the Asolo Eiger, a forward-leaning ice and alpine boot that was lighter, less bulky and more agile than anything out there. The boot was so impressive we gave it a Best In Gear (B.I.G.) award, an accolade as hard-earned as spousal praise.


Now, Scarpa has unveiled the Rebel Ultra GTX, a model that is in the same class as the Eiger, but about four ounces lighter per boot and even trimmer. Caveat: part of the reason the Rebel is lighter and trimmer is because there’s no spat over the laces, the rands are shorter, it lacks a conventional tongue, and the upper is all synthetic. The Rebel is also less warm. I wore the Rebel on a variety of terrain, 39 pitches that included slabby WI 2, vertical WI 5+, overhanging M8 drytooling and traditional mixed. I also hiked a lot, and was out in temperatures below zero. I’ve heard the svelte Rebel lauded as having “fruitboot” performance. I wouldn’t go that far, but the Rebel does climb closer to a fruitboot than it does a mountaineering boot. It is agile and so light on the foot it doesn’t feel at all like a boot. It’s more like a shoe. Still, compared to any fruitboot, the Rebel is a step down in performance, as a boot with a crampon clipped to it can never keep up with a shoe and integrated crampon. For old- and new-school mixed, the Rebel is an excellent choice for someone considering a fruitboot, but who prefers the practicality of being able to remove the crampon to hike or drive or rock climb. The Rebel did well for me on steep waterfalls. It was plenty rigid provided I cranked down the ankle laces, and toe protection was good. I got very little heel lift. Anyone who has climbed in a traditional leather or double boot will find the Rebel as liberating as sawing a cast off a leg. Part of the reason the Rebel climbs and feels so good is because it is soft. A carbon-fiber insole makes the boot rigid heel to toe, but the upper is Cordura and Kevlar with a thin layer of insulation. Most interestingly, the boot lacks a conventional gusseted or bellows tongue. Instead, the upper is essentially a mono-sock that you slip on—it’s the slipper of the boot world. Because of all the foot-conforming synthetic materials, and because the ankle is also unconventional with floating “wings” instead of a rigid cuff, slipping into the boot is like sliding into the cockpit of an F1 racing machine. A mid-shin-high, built-in stretchy Gore-Tex gaiter seals around your leg like a hungry

remora. A flake of snow turned edgewise could not squeeze past this security system. I like that, but the gaiter makes the boot desperate to pull on, and at times I strained so hard I thought I might rip either the finger loop right off the boot or my fingers right off my hand. Once the Rebels are on, the wrestling match is behind you, so it isn’t a big deal, just something to note if you are expecting a boot that you can quickly slip into. The gaiter is also so snug you will be inclined to keep your pants on the outside. Tucking them into the gaiter is tough, especially with pants that have a bulky crampon-protection patch. This means, if you have pants with wide cuffs, you sometimes can’t see your feet as well as you’d like. I wore the Rebel down to slightly below 0 degrees F and that was pushing it, unless I was active, either climbing or hiking. Down to 10 degrees F (or so) I was usually fine, depending on other conditions such as wind and whether I was standing in deep snow. In Colorado, the Rebel is a four-season boot if you are moving. In colder climes such as Canada, I’d think of the Rebel as a threeseason boot. It is warmer than a single boot, but not as warm as a double boot. To be more precise, the insulation in the Rebel seemed about what you would expect from wearing a second pair of thick socks. I used the BD Stinger crampon and it attached securely although I was worried because the boot sole is so thin at the toe there’s scant material to hold a bail. I can see a crampon popping off if it isn’t really cranked down—I had mine so tight I could barely engage the heel lever. I also used the crampon toe strap (some people hate these and cut them off) and reefed that down so tight I could feel it through the boot. The really bad news is that the Rebel is already being discontinued, replaced by a more familiar design, the “Pro.” (Look for a review of the Pro in an upcoming issue.) This is, I think, a shame because the Rebel is the most technically advanced boot yet to set foot in the mountains. The good news is that Scarpa is going to keep selling the boot, they just aren’t making any more. If you want a pair, you’d better get after it. — Duane Raleigh ABOUT THE RATING: The Rebel received four out of five possible stars, with one star deducted because it is so blasted hard to put on.

ABOUT THE RATINGS Ratings range from one to five stars. 5 stars indicate the best in its class, with no major shortcomings and is competitively priced. 4 stars Product is among the best and innovative, but can have one or two minor flaws. An overly high price can count as a flaw. 3 stars Good but average, with no standout or innovative feature. Might have more than two minor flaws. 2 stars Has a serious flaw or shortcoming that compromises performance. 1 star Gear has serious issues and isn’t recommended.

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> High-performance gym, competition and steeprock shoe. > Radically soft and sensitive. > Slipper-style fit with single Velcro strap. > Gummy 3.5mm MI6 rubber. > Aggressively downturned and cambered. > No insole. > Unlined Clarino synthetic-leather upper.


Read review at: rockandice.com/alpha45 The Alpha 45 is a fully waterproof and simple pack for ice and alpine climbing. Unique features abound, including a roll-top, what feels like rubberized fabric, and a

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white interior for seeing your gear inside .

spent hours searching for a metaphor to capture the radical softness and stickiness of the Team VXi. Flypaper? Not soft. The grades in Kalymnos? Not sticky. A condom? No! Please stop ...



Read review at: rockandice.com/opposite

My editor Jeff Jackson nailed it. “I’ve got a pair of those shoes,” he told me. “I call them my gummy bears.” The VXi’s gummy-bear-like qualities come from its radically soft and sticky MI6 rubber sole. The back story: The producers of Mission Impossible 6 asked Five Ten rubber alchemist Charles Cole if it was possible to make a rubber that could be used to climb glass—something that Tom Cruise does in the movie. Cole said he thought it was, locked himself in his laboratory, and Eureka! Several weeks later he emerged with MI6—so gummy that it does indeed stick to glass. The story does not specify the angle of the glass. Nor can I report on the movie, since I only watch climbing videos. I can, however, gush about the VXi’s performance on “glassy” footholds, especially on steep terrain. Take Vote With a Bullet at Maple Canyon. The water-polished cobbles on VWaB are slick as … glass, and since the route is 50 degrees overhanging you can’t exactly weight your feet. The way this shoe glued itself to the cobbles on that route was a game-changer—a letter grade at least. Ditto my home bouldering wall with its ephemeral, rubber-spooged jibs. Again the VXi rules—there are problems on my wall that I can’t do in any other shoe. I should stress the things this shoe does not do, which is everything not mentioned above (with the exception of gritstone, Fontainebleau, and pure faith-and-friction climbing, where I’m guessing the shoe would be amazing). The VXi is unlined and has no midsole; combine this with a super thin (3.5mm) sole of mushy MI6 rubber and

you have a climbing shoe that’s an order of magnitude softer than anything I’ve worn. The VXi does not edge, and it will make your feet ache in any situation where you have to stand hard on a foothold for more than a few seconds. You’d have more joy eating soup with chopsticks than you would face climbing in this shoe. The VXi has a Clarino synthetic-leather upper, which shouldn’t stretch. Nevertheless, I boldly went down to 8.5 from my street-shoe size of 10. This was a little extreme. The first couple of times I wore the shoe, the only way I could put them on was by wearing plastic grocery-store bags as socks. Unless you enjoy S&M, go down no more than one full size. My VXi’s have now broken in so that they go on without much struggle. The heel cup is snug and locked on, the low-profile toe box wiggles nimbly into skinny slots and pockets, and the upper is generously randed in MI6 rubber, great for scums and hooking. For something so flimsy-looking, the VXi is also impressively durable. I’ve sized it wicked small, worn it lots, and its “last” is intact—as aggressively cambered and downturned as the day it came out of the box. A less well-made soft shoe would end up looking like a used condom if you rode it this hard. Oh, flip! I did it again. Think “gummy bears,” you pervert. OK ... I adore this shoe for overhanging plastic. Outside, it’s a tool I might only use 10 percent of the time, but I’ll still make room for it in my pack, because when the moment’s right, it’s candy. — Dave Pegg

Can’t decide if you want a skinny or fat rope? The Opposite has 50 meters of 9mm rope for redpointing, and 30 meters of 10mm rope for working projects, all woven into one cord.

CYPHER ZERO $109.95 | Read review at: rockandice.com/cypherzero

The affordable Zero is a high-performance gym and steep-rock shoe that is soft and sensitive, and easy to get on and off.

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Winner of a 2014 B.I.G. award, the Laser Speed is an aluminum ice screw with a steeltoothed insert that is nearly half the weight of all-steel screws.

April 2014 | ROCKANDICE.COM | 67



am having difficulty finding a harness that fits. I can size the leg loops and belt right, and this is fine when I am climbing, but when I hang or rappel, the belt slides up and presses on my lower ribs. I can still breathe, but it is uncomfortable. I have tried different harness models and makes, with no luck. I’ve been climbing for 20 years, so this isn’t my first rodeo. It is, however, the first time I’ve noticed this problem. What gives? —jimbo via rockandice.com


ou are having a problem with the “rise,” the distance between the harness belt and the leg loops, or the distance from your belly button to the danglies. The rise determines how your weight is distributed between the leg loops and waist belt. When the rise is too long, as in your case, the belt rides up and pushes on your belly as surely as if you had eaten a skillet of frijoles. A rise that is too short puts too much weight on the leg loops, making it easier for you to flip upside down and bang your noggin. There are over 200 harness options, so it should be easy to find one that fits your legs and waist—all waist belts adjust several inches. The rise, however, can still be as ill fitting as a mascot suit. In the past year I tested four different harnesses and none of them had a rise that fit me perfectly. I’m not entirely sure why, either. I suspect that as the climbing population has become more mainstream, harness makers have had to design harnesses to fit lawyers and bankers. To accommodate this variety of body types, harnesses have become mesomorphs with more adjustability in their sizes. For instance, leg loops now almost exclusively have a “Y” construction that let out several inches and use a bit of elastic to


NOW THAT'S A RACK ’m in the mood for a set of cams, but can’t decide whether I should get units with the greatest range, which are usually the heaviest, or buy cams with less range, but are lighter weight.


—kenneth via rockandice.com y wife, too, has moods, and when she’s in one it would be easier for me to grasp oil in my right hand than to deliver a satisfactory answer to her queries. Nevertheless, I’ll take a stab at your question. At a traditional crag such as Indian Creek, where you jam 80 feet up a 400-foot wall, clip chains and lower, whether a cam has a large or small range is of nominal importance. What is important is having a butt-load of cams. You are correct by inferring that expanded-range cams weigh more than regular cams, so it would seem that a "butt load" could add up. But, a Number 3 Black Diamond Camalot weighs only an ounce more than its closest neighbor, the Number 3.5 Helium Friend from Wild Country, which has slightly less range. An ounce per piece isn’t enough to sweat your swami over, even when you are carrying a big-wall rack, so move on, please. The number that tips the balance is range. Cams with greater range are more forgiving of sizing/placement error, adapt better to irregular cracks and pockets/pods, and fill a range with fewer cams, so, while you might


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still need 10 cams, you might only have to carry four sizes instead of five or six. This is bueno because you then have fewer decisions to make, and are less likely to grab the wrong size. The big daddy of range is the Omega Pacific Link Cam. Hands down. These have gotten a bum rap because they are heavy, and I would like to dispel the myth. Link Cams in the two smaller sizes, the .5 and .75, weigh about the same as the closest units with the nearest maximum size from Black Diamond and Wild Country. The Number 1 and Number 2 Link Cams are roughly two ounces heavier, and that is noticeable to anyone who obeys the laws of gravity, so good point there. Yet for alpine climbing and routes where you mix nuts with cams, and you only carry a few cams, my go-to units are Link Cams. Two or three of these practically guarantee that you will have something that fits. When it is all added up, weight versus range is blah! Both are considerations, but bigger factors are ergonomics, whether the units instill confidence, and price. Next!

keep the loops snug. This means that the leg loops might feel good when they aren’t weighted, but the loops can actually be too large, and when you hang, the elastic snuggie stretches, letting the leg loop lengthen and ride up, creating slack that lengthens the rise. In the old days, which was last week, most leg loops had an “O” construction that you could fit more precisely, but required retailers to stock a lot of sizes since you bought the belt and leg loops separately. In our new era of simplification and instant gratification it would be easier to sell carrot noses to snowmen than to hawk mix-and-match belts and leg loops. So, basically, this is your fault. Either my theory is correct or, as you have aged you have become shrunken and bitter, and no longer enjoy a bit of pressure down there. Lately, I’ve moved to adjustable leg loops. These have “I can’t climb” written all over them, but adjustable leg loops let you snug up the fit and keep the rise in check, at least to some degree. Another option is a harness with an adjustable rise. Metolius offers their 3-D system, a clever twist that lets you adjust both the girth of the leg loops and the length of the rise, guaranteeing a fit as perfect and natural as body paint. Problem solved. Gear Guy has spoken!

[ WIN A C.A.M.P. RACK PACK ] The lightest full-size carabiners in the world come in eight colors to coordinate with cam coding. They are easy to clip and feature a thin spine that makes grabbing them off gear loops a breeze. To score your Rack Pack, send a question to Gear Guy at gearguy@ rockandice.com. If your question is selected as next issue’s leading query, you win the goods. Next! www.camp-usa.com





by NEIL GRESHAM John J. O’Brien proving that you can have it all, on Root Canal (5.12c), Kalbarri, Australia.


veryone knows that to redpoint a project at your absolute limit you must either take an endless road trip or live near the crag. But what if the nearest cliff is a day’s travel (or more) away, you have a full-time job and family commitments, and yet you still have the burning desire for the ultimate send? If you are like me and this describes your situation, then take comfort in knowing that it’s still possible to climb your best. I’m just back from a trip to Spain having sent the hardest route of my life, Welcome to Tijuana (5.14b) at Rodellar. The whole process took eight months and the period coincided with one of the busiest work periods of my life, as well as the birth of my first child. My strategy was to train for the route remotely in the U.K., then take a series of short trips, two in the spring and two in the fall. This might sound like mission impossible, but I proved to myself that with dedication and meticulous planning you can achieve your climbing dreams without compromising other important areas of your life.


1 PICK SHORT PROJECTS for short trips. Long routes may have easier moves, but most climbers find them more stressful to redpoint. It is soul-destroying to fail at the 15th clip after being on lead for 45 minutes, so save the stamina-fests for long trips or local crags. Not only is it easier to stay stronger mentally for short routes, but you can train for

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them specifically too. Using wooden holds at my local gym, I built exact replicas of the two key crux sections of my recent project. I was able to work the route effectively during my normal working week, thus buying me time on the route without actually going to Spain. This type of specific training is as much about neurological programming as training the muscles in the required pattern. With stamina routes, you can’t train with this same degree of specificity, and you will probably take more time to adjust to a route when you return to it, especially if you don’t regularly climb on rock. An additional factor of huge bearing to busy professionals is that power takes way less time to train than endurance and requires more rest days between sessions. You can either take the “little and often” approach, by doing very short sessions (e.g. 60 to 90 minutes) on two or three consecutive days before resting, or the approach that worked for me, which was a long hard session of up to three hours (involving power first, then power-endurance) followed by one or two rest days. Be sure to taper two weeks before the trip by shortening the sessions and spreading them out so that you recover fully (e.g. two rest days between the last few sessions, then three or four rest days before the trip). A classic error is to get over excited in the last few weeks and arrive at the crag feeling burnt out.


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THIS IS A CRUCIAL area for those who have a medium or heavy build and especially for older climbers. It’s a simple fact that for trained individuals, two weeks of restrictive dieting will do more for your climbing performance than six months of training. My strategy was to go through cycles of eating normally during training phases to fuel my sessions then reduce my complex carbohydrate intake for two weeks prior to a trip to attempt the route. I cut out all rice, bread and pasta and replaced them with salad or green veggies. This dieting period coincides neatly with the tapering phase, so you will need less energy for training because your sessions are shorter and less frequent. During the dieting period I usually lost four or five pounds, and I took off like a rocket on my final two or three sessions before the trip. There is nothing like this sensation to boost your

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confidence for the send. I then maintained this pared-down weight during the trip by eating very slightly more in order to fuel my redpoints, while being careful not to put any weight back on. After the trip I rested for a week, ate normally, put the weight back on deliberately, then resumed training for the next bout. This period can feel quite demoralizing because your performance drops. Rise above it and remember that the results will soon come your way again. It takes experimentation to get this whole procedure exactly right. If you start the diet too early, or over do it, you will lose power and feel burned out on the trip, but if you leave it too late and succumb to your favorite treats too often, you simply won’t achieve your fighting weight. Note that this approach won’t work for those who naturally have a light frame. If skinny people attempt to lose weight, it will almost certainly be detrimental to performance. Additionally, juniors should never restrict their calorific


fuel the machine. However, the older you get, the harder it is to make gains in absolute terms, so strategic weight loss provides a way of cheating yourself into the body of a better climber.

3 PSYCHOLOGY IF YOU ARE GOING TO IMPLODE at the crag when things don’t go your way on the second or third day, then there’s no point reading on. Remember, Chris Sharma can stay relaxed and positive on his 50th day on a route. Surely you can manage it for less than half that time! The key is not to even question or notice the number of attempts or days. Maybe your project will take you five days or maybe it will be 50. Who cares? You must be prepared to go home empty handed as many times as it takes. You must accept that you will spend 99 percent of your time “failing” on this route. Look forward to it, because you won’t be failing, you’ll be learning. Enjoy the fleeting moments you get on this incredible route out in the natural world with a good companion. You could always drop the bar and tick routes two grades lower, but that would be old news and it’s time to see what you’re really capable of. It’s ironic Remember, Chris Sharma that in order to succeed you can’t be goal oriented. can stay relaxed and You are not trying to positive on his 50th day do this route, but practice on a route. Surely you can a climbing ritual that is manage it for less than more akin to yoga or a form of meditation. On half that amount of time! each attempt you try hard, not by being more aggressive, but by executing with more grace. Take satisfaction from progress, no matter how incremental. However, it’s a rare individual who can stifle those pre-redpoint butterflies when the send really is on. If, as is often the case, you find that you can’t detach from the end goal, try to balance every dark thought with a positive solution. For example, there is a reason to fail on every redpoint, but there is also a reason to succeed. For the first redpoint attempt you may not be properly warmed up and coordinated, but you will also be at your freshest and under the least pressure. The second redpoint attempt carries a lot of pressure, but for a good reason as you ought to be at your best. For the third or fourth attempts, you will be most fatigued, but this will force you to climb efficiently, with no expectations. Remember also not to attach any significance if you’ve worked yourself into a particular mind state, be it nervous, angry or despondent. Hard routes have been climbed in every conceivable mind set, so abandon that flawed line of questioning and just climb. And before you go, don’t forget to notice the bird song and the wind rustling in the trees, then take a few deep breaths and smile to yourself.

April 2014 | ROCKANDICE.COM | 73

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intake, even for short periods, as this can be extremely dangerous. Younger climbers can make such worthwhile training gains in short periods that they are better off eating to



illustration by STEVE GRAEPEL


Shoulder dislocations can wreak havoc with your climbing unless you rehab thoroughly.

EXPLODED SHOULDERS AND FINGER CYSTS I dislocated my shoulder over the summer and was forced to take a hiatus from climbing. After three months of physical therapy, my shoulder still hurts in certain positions on the wall. The pain is quickly followed by my arm giving out, and discomfort for a couple of days after. Will my shoulder ever go back to normal? Are there specific exercises I should do to build strength and are there movements I shouldn’t do? —LOOSEHOLD Rock and Ice Forum


more likely to dislocate multiple times thereafter, at which point you might as well take up croquet and dating older women. As long as your rehab is thorough, and by that I mean involves massive amounts of stability and strength-based exercises, you should be able to climb again, and even improve on your previous best. The discretionary qualifier here is that I don’t know how much internal derangement there is. A nasty dislocation is virtually impossible to rehabilitate fully without surgery, let alone in three months. I have seen patients with massive amounts of damage who didn’t even realize they’d temporarily dislocated their shoulders. I’ve also seen many a person whose dislocation was forever forgotten two moments and a glass of wine after it was relocated. If you have had an MRI and are cleared of major structural injury then I suspect you need more time and more (or better) rehab until your shoulder is ready for the stresses of climbing. If you have a reasonable range of motion, you should be OK to try any particular movement as long as the loading is graduated. My advice: Get a shoulder rehab specialist.

I fell bouldering and the little-finger side of my ring finger has gone numb from the first joint to the tip. I can move something around on the bottom part of the knuckle that makes it tingle even more. That area also seems a bit larger (lumpy) than the right ring finger. I’m guessing it’s a compression of the ulnar nerve, but what exactly can I do to get the numbness to go away? Is it OK to climb? I’ve stopped for two weeks. —PTHOMAS119 Rock and Ice Forum


habam! You must have given it a proper whack. A direct hit to the nerve is possible, but it sounds more like a traumatic ganglion cyst has formed or a climber, having a dislocated shoulder is akin to being a and that it is pressuring the porn star with a fractured penis. nerve, causing the numbness. You need some damn fine professionals watching your rehab every The digital nerve that runs step of the way, if for no other reason than to avoid the speed traps. If down that side of the ring finger you have not had an MRI—and it doesn’t sound like you have—sack is a branch of the ulna nerve. your current treatment team en masse. (The median nerve supplies the A shoulder dislocation is like a bomb going off in a mall—until you other side of the ring finger). have a look inside, you won’t have a damage report to base your next You have a couple of options: move on. If you have significant cartilage damage that has not stabilized, 1) Wait and see how it goes. I any rehab now is like repairing the Titanic with papier mâché. am impatient by nature when I appreciate that the United States medical system doesn’t it comes to medicine routinely allow an early MRI for such an injury, but and recreational drugs an athlete who is going to re-enter the sporting arena Stop suffering and let in that I like results, at the earliest possible time (and probably too early if Dr. J’s medical advice be the faster the better, not managed closely) needs an accurate assessment. A hewn into your minds! Send your questions to but give it at least shoulder that dislocates for a second time due to damage drj@rockandice.com another week to settle. inflicted to the joint in the first injury is significantly


74 |



2) If you can isolate that lump (it will feel like a pea), give it a good press and see if it pops like a water balloon. That will solve the problem with a level of immediacy that would satisfy even the rich and famous. OMG! You call yourself a climber? There is not even any blood! Get back on the horse and ride it like you’re the Pony Express. The numbness will be mildly irritating but that’s about it. If anything, the cyst may enlarge, but I would argue that that just makes it easier to isolate and burst. If the numbness is due to damage done by direct impact, it will probably subside over the next month. Permanent numbness is pretty unlikely. RI

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ACME CLIMBING acmeclimbing.com sales@acmeclimbing. com; 800-959-3785; 509-624-4561; F/ 509-747-5964; 12 W Sprague Ave. Spokane, WA 99201

BACKCOUNTRYGEAR.COM bcgeartech@ backcountrygear.com; 800-953-5499; 1855 W 2nd Ave, Eugene, OR 97402

BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAIN SPORTS. brms.com customer-service@brms. com; 866-905-2767; Towne Center West; 12020 West Broad Street; Richmond, VA 23233

CLASSIFIEDS FREE GEAR GIVEAWAY and connect online at Where Climbers Gather. Visit www.srcfc.org! Provided by Solid Rock Climbers for Christ. HELP WANTED BROTHER / SISTER CAMPS IN WESTERN NC seek traditional climbers and experienced backpackers; 21+ preferred; minimum through first year of college. Other needs included paddling, sailing, riding, biking. Mondamin and Green Cove, PO Box 8, Tuxedo, NC 28784; 800-688-5789; www.mondamin.com; www.greencove.com RECYCLE RESOLES Quality Resoling for your Favorite Climbing Shoes. San Luis Obispo, CA. www.recycleresoles.com. (805) 471-9528

MEDIA WWW.CHESSLERBOOKS.COM. Great new website with 1000’s of mountaineering books, videos, posters, collectibles, bargains. (800) 654-8502

CAMPMOR campmor.com info@campmor.com; 800-CAMPMOR; 800-226-7667; Catalog-PO BOX 680R13 Mahwah, NJ 07430

CLIMB HIGH climbhigh.com info@climbhigh.com; PO BOX 292; Williston VT 05495

GEAREXPRESS, INC gearexpress.com customerservice@ gearexpress.com; 888-580-5510; F/ 801-968-7951; Free shipping over $50

WWW.MTNTOOLS.COM 800 5.10–2–5.14; 831-620-0911; F/ 831-620-0977. PO Box 222295, Carmel, CA 93922

NEPTUNE MOUNTAINEERING neptunemountaineering.com; 633 S Broadway, Unit A; Boulder CO 80305; 888-499-8866

RIVER SPORTS OUTFITTERS. riversportsoutfitters.com; ed@riversportsoutfitters.com (865) 523-0066; F (865) 525-6921; 2918 Sutherland; Knoxville, TN 37919

ROCK/CREEK rockcreek.com; info@rockcreek.com; 888-707-6708; 301 Manufacturers Road, Chattanooga, TN 37405, Free Shipping over $49

SUMMIT HUT 800-499-8696; 5045 E Speedway; Tucson AZ 85712;. summithut.com summit@summithut.com Free shipping over $45.


CANADA MOUNTAIN EQUIPMENT CO-OP 830 10th Avenue Sw, Calgary, AB T2R 0A9; 403-269-2420 ; www.mec.ca


OUTDOOR SPORTS CENTER 80 Danbury Rd, Wilton, CT 06897 203-762-8797; 800-782-2193; www.outdoorsportscenter.com


ROCKHARD Smith Rock State Park, 9297 N.E. Crooked River Dr, Terrebonne, OR 97760; 541-548-4786 US OUTDOOR STORE 219 SW Broadway Portland, OR. 97205 503-233-5937; F 503-223-9375 www.usoutdoor.com

ALASKA KENTUCKY ALASKA MOUNTAINEERING & HIKING 2633 Spenard Rd, Anchorage, AK 99503; 907-272-1811; F 907-274-6362 www.alaskamountaineering.com; amh@alaska.net ARKANSAS PACK RAT 209 W Sunbridge Dr., Fayetteville, AR 72703 479-521-6340; F 479-521-6580; 877-521-6340; info@packratoc.com, www.packratoc.com CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE 16 11161 W. Pico Blvd., West Los Angeles, CA 90064; 310-473-4574; for other SO CAL locations: www.adventure16.com; We carry Totem Cams! ELEVATION 150 S Main St; Lone Pine CA 93545; 760-876-4560; www. sierraelevation.com; info@ sierraelevation.com GEAR CO-OP 3315 Hyland Ave, Suite C Costa Mesa, CA. 92626 714-902-9168; info@gearcoop.com; www.gearcoop.com REAL CHEAP SPORTS 36 W. Santa Clara, Ventura, CA 93001; 805-648-3803; F 805-653-2581; www.realcheapsports.com COLORADO OURAY MOUNTAIN SPORTS 732 Main St, Ouray, CO 81427 970-325-4284; www.ouraysports.com; oms@ouraynet.com; Professional Ice Screw Sharpening and Ice Gear Rental Available! PINE NEEDLE MOUNTAINEERING 835 Main Ave #112, Durango, CO 81301-5436; 970-247-8728; F 970-259-0697; 800-607-0364; www.pineneedle.com; info@ pineneedle.com

J & H LANMARK 189 Moore Dr, Lexington, KY 40503; 800-677-9300; www.jhoutdoors.com; info@jhoutdoors.com MIGUELâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S PIZZA AND ROCK CLIMBING SHOP 1890 Natural Bridge Rd. Slade KY 40376. 606-663-1975, www.miguelspizza. com. miguelspizza@yahoo.com MINNESOTA MIDWEST MOUNTAINEERING 309 Cedar Ave. S, Minneapolis, MN 55454; 612339-3433; 888-999-1077; www.midwestmtn.com; info@midwestmtn.com; Free Climbing Cave NEW HAMPSHIRE INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAIN EQUIPMENT 2733 Main St; North Conway, NH 03860; 603-356-6316, www.ime-usa.com NEW JERSEY CAMPMOR 810 Route 17 N, Paramus, NJ 07652; 201-4455000; 800-CAMPMOR (266-7667); www.campmor.com NEW YORK


RIVER SPORTS OUTFITTERS 2918 Sutherland; Knoxville TN 37919; (865) 523-0066; F (865) 525-6921; www.riversportsoutfitters.com; info@riversportsoutfitters.com UTAH THE DESERT RAT 468 W St, George Blvd; St George UT 84770; 435-628-7277; F 435-628-2894; www.thedesertrat.net; bobeck@ zhurststores.com PIPE DREAM ADVENTURE SPORTS 327 South Main. Ephraim UT 84627 (435) 283-4644, 800-671-5323 www.pipedreamadventuresports.com, jason@cut.net WASHINGTON

FEATHERED FRIENDS 119 Yale Ave N, Seattle WA 98109; 1-888-308-9365; 206-292-6292 - Mail Orders; F 206-292-9667; www.featheredfriends.com; customerservice@featheredfriends.com

THE MOUNTAINEER 1866 NYS, Route 73. Keene Valley NY 12943 518-576-2281, F 518-576-4352 www.mountaineer.com, mountaineer@mountaineer.com OREGON CLIMB MAX MOUNTAINEERING 628 NE Broadway Street, Suite 140. Portland OR 97232; 503-816-0207; info@climbmaxgear.com; www.climbaxe.com

MOUNTAIN SHOP 1510 NE 37th.; Portland, OR 97232; 503288-6768; F 503-280-1687; weborders@ mountainshop.net; www.mountainshop.net

WHITTAKER MOUNTAINEERING 5 miles outside Mt. Ranier National Park, 30027 SR 706 East, Ashford, WA 98304; 800-238-5756, www.whittakermountaineering.com WEST VIRGINIA

WATER STONE OUTDOORS 101 E. Wiseman Ave, Fayetteville, WV 25840; 304-574-2425; F 304-574-2563; www.waterstoneoutdoors.com; waterstone@suddenlinkmail.com WYOMING

SUMMIT CANYON MOUNTAINEERING 307 8th St. Glenwood Springs CO 81601 970-945-6994, 800-360-6994, www.summitcanyon.com WILDERNESS EXCHANGE UNLIMITED 2401 15th Street Ste. 100, Denver, CO 80202; 303-964-0708; www.wildernessexchangeunlimited. com; info@wildernessexchangeunlimited.com

NEXT ADVENTURE 426 SE Grand Ave; Portland, OR 97214; 503.233.0706; F 503.233.1362; www. nextadventure.net; climbing@ nextadventure.net

WILD IRIS MOUNTAIN SPORTS 166 Main St., Lander, WY 82520; 307-332-4541; F 307-335-8923; www.wildirisclimbing.com; wildiris@wildirisclimbing.com

April 2014 | ROCKANDICE.COM | 79



CANADA Edmonton. AB. VERTICALLY INCLINED ROCK GYM. 780-496-9390; www.vertically-inclined.com Victoria. BC. THE BOULDERS CLIMBING GYM at Stelly’s. Newly expanded - 60 feet high, speed wall, and new climbing academy for grades 9 - 12. 250.544.0310, www.climbtheboulders.com

Sunnyvale. PLANET GRANITE. 25,000 sqft of indoor & outdoor climbing. 60 ft high. Cracks, chimneys, off-widths and lots of steep climbing. HUGE bouldering area. Extensive weights & fitness, yoga & spinning, gear shop. 815 Stewart Drive, Sunnyvale, CA 94085; (408) 991-9090; www.planetgranite.com

THE NETHERLANDS Amsterdam. KLIMHAL AMSTERDAM. info@klimhalamsterdam.nl, www.klimhalamsterdam.nl ALABAMA Alabama. FIRST AVENUE ROCKS www.firstaverocks.com; 205-320-2277

Thousand Oaks. BOULDERDASH INDOOR ROCK CLIMBING .805-557-1300, www. boulderdashclimbing.com 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



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); www.upperlimits.com

ARIZONA Tempe. PHOENIX ROCK GYM. 480-921-8322; www.phoenixrockgym.com ARKANSAS Little Rock. LITTLE ROCK CLIMBING CENTER. www. littlerockclimbing.com 501-2279500 CALIFORNIA Anaheim Hills. ROCK CITY CLIMBING CENTER. 714-777-4884; www.rockcityclimbing.com VERTICAL HOLD SPORT CLIMBING CENTER, INC. The largest in Southern California. Over 23,000 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; 858-5867572; www.verticalhold.com.

Denver. ROCK’n & JAM’n. Denver area’s premier climbing gyms. Two locations: 9499 Washington St, Thornton; 7390 S. Fraser St, Centennial. (303) CLIMB99 www.climbthebest.com. Become a Fan! www.facebook.com/climbthebest. Denver. THRILLSEEKERS. 300 Ft. MEGA bouldering traverse, 5 lead arches. 38 topropes, 12,000 sq. ft. of climbing surface. 303-733-8810, www.thrillseekers.cc EARTH TREKS CLIMBING CENTERSGolden features a purpose-built 29,000 sq. ft. building. The gym offers over 25,000 sq. ft. of climbing with walls up to 48 ft high, including tons of bouldering and roped climbing for all ages and abilities. Earth Treks Golden boasts many amenitites including a huge fitness center, dedicated strength training area, yoga room, outdoor patio, and locker room facilities with all the bells and whistles. Grand Junction. GRAND JUNCTION CLIMBING CENTER. 970-241-7622; www.gjclimbing.com

San Francisco. PLANET GRANITE. 25,000 sq. ft. of indoor climbing, yoga & fitness. 45-ft high walls. Cracks, off-widths and lots of steep terrain. TONS of bouldering with top-out boulder! Full fitness center, two yoga studios, gear shop, views of the bay and GG Bridge. 924 Mason St, San Francisco, CA 94129; www.planetgranite.com

San Diego. MESA RIM CLIMBING AND FITNESS CENTER. 858-348-4593. www.mesarim.com.

San Mateo /Belmont. PLANET GRANITE. 20,000 square feet, 50 foot high cracks! Extensive weights & fitness, yoga, gear shop; 100 El Camino Real, Belmont, CA 94002; 650-591-3030; www.planetgranite.com Santa Cruz. PACIFIC EDGE. Indoor climbing at its finest! 104 Bronson St., Santa Cruz, CA 95062; 831454-9254; www.pacificedgeclimbinggym.com El Cerrito (Berkeley/East Bay). BRIDGES ROCK GYM. Extraordinary bouldering, stellar cave, 18-ft topout boulders, slackline arena, yoga, fitness, full gym, massage & saunas. (510) 525-5635, www.bridgesrockgym.com

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Atlanta. ATLANTA ROCKS! INTOWN. is the most popular indoor rock climbing gym in the southeast, featuring more than 12,000 square feet of professionallydesigned, seamless climbing surface. With more than 50 top-rope stations, crazy overhanging lead routes and hundreds of climbs, Atlanta Rocks! has plenty of challenging routes for climbers of all skill levels. Lead routes up to 85 linear feet, bouldering features, aerobic and weight training equipment, computerized sales and rentals: 1019 Collier Road NW, Ste A, Atlanta, GA 30318; 404351-3009

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

Chicago. VERTICAL ENDEAVORS. 18,000 ft2 of climbing on 40’ high walls. 21 Auto Belays. Programs and Outdoor Guiding for all ages. 630-836-0122; www.verticalendeavors.com Crystal Lake. NORTH WALL. 815-356-6855; www.climbnorthwall.com INDIANA Evansville. VERTICAL EXCAPE. 812-479-6887; www.vertical-excape.com.



Manchester. STONE AGE ROCK GYM. 860-6450015; www.stoneagerockgym.com

Louisville. ROCKSPORT-LOUISVILLE. 502-2665833; www.climbrocksport.com MARYLAND


Jacksonville. THE EDGE ROCK GYM: 8,500 square feet. Top Rope, Lead and Bouldering. Full fitness, yoga, and TRX area. 3563 Phillips Hwy, Ste 702, Jacksonville, FL 32207; 904-683-2512

Ft. Lauderdale. CORAL CLIFFS ROCK GYM. 3400 SW 26th Terrace #A4, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33312. 954-321-9898. www.coralcliffs.com. climb@coralcliffs.com GEORGIA Atlanta. STONE SUMMIT CLIMBING & FITNESS CENTER, 45,000 sq. ft. of world-class climbing. 3701 Presidential Parkway 678.720.9884; www.ssclimbing.com

EARTH TREKS CLIMBING CENTERS. Three state-of-the-art facilities within 25 minutes of Washington, DC & Baltimore. Variety of terrain for bouldering, lead and top rope. Columbia (20,000 sq. ft. of climbing), Timonium (17,000 sq. ft. of climbing), Rockville (38,500 sq. ft. of climbing). Rockville gym is the largest indoor climbing wall in the country! 800-CLIMB-UP, www.earthtreksclimbing.com. MASSACHUSSETTS

Boston. ROCK SPOT CLIMBING. 617-333-4433; www.rockspotclimbing.com

Boston and South Boston. METRO ROCK CLIMBING CENTER. 69 Norman Street, Unit 9, Everett, MA 02149; www.metrorock.com


New Bedford. CARABINER’S INDOOR CLIMBING & FITNESS. 508-984-0808; See our NEW fitness classes @ www.carabiners.com

Las Vegas. RED ROCK CLIMBING CENTER & MOUNTAIN GUIDES. 8201 W. Charleston Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89117; SHOWERS! (702) 2545604; www.redrockclimbingcenter.com

[ ROCK GYMS ] Pittsburgh. THE CLIMBING WALL at the factory. 14,500 square feet. 7501 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15208; 412-247-7334; www.theclimbingwall.net. Wind Gap. NORTH SUMMIT CLIMBING GYM. 610-863-4444. www.northsummitclimbing.com.


Newburyport. METROROCK North. 40 Parker Street, Newburyport, MA 01950; www.metrorock.com

The Best Crags in town! Two Locations in the Philly area: Oaks, PA & Valley Township, PA. 877822-7673 www.philarockgym.com Confidence. Community. Climbing

Chatham. THE GRAVITY VAULT. www.gravityvault. com; 973-701-7625. Franchises now available!

Worcester. CENTRAL ROCK CLIMBING GYM 508-852-7625; www.centralrockgym.com MICHIGAN

RHODE ISLAND Upper Saddle River. THE GRAVITY VAULT. www.gravityvault.com; 201-934-7625. Franchises now available! Randolph. RANDOLPH CLIMBING CENTER. 973-598-8555; www.randolphclimbingcenter.com

Byron Center. INSIDE MOVES. 616-281-7088; www.insidemoves.com


Kalamazoo. CLIMB KALAMAZOO. www.climbkalamazoo.com, 269-385-9891


Pontiac/Ann Arbor PLANET ROCK CLIMBING GYM. 34 Rapid St. Pontiac, MI; 248-334-3904 82 April Dr. Ann Arbor, MI; 734-827-2680. www.planet-rock.com MINNESOTA

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

Duluth. VERTICAL ENDEAVORS. Over 14,000 ft of climbing and up to 42’ high walls. 12 Auto Belays. Programs and Outdoor Guiding for all ages. 218279-9980; www.verticalendeavors.com

TENNESSEE Knoxville. THE CLIMBING CENTER. ed@riversportsoutfitters.com; 865-523-006

Minneapolis. VERTICAL ENDEAVORS. Over 28,000 ft2 of climbing and up to 60’ high walls. 24 Auto Belays. Programs and Outdoor Guiding for all ages. 612-436-1470; www.verticalendeavors.com

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.airrockgym.com

Halfmoon. THE EDGE. 14,000 sq ft of climbing on 40’ high walls. 518-982-5545; www.theedgehalfmoon.com NORTH CAROLINA

St. Paul. VERTICAL ENDEAVORS. Over 18,000 ft2 of climbing and up to 36’ high walls with roofs and arches. 15 Auto Belays. Programs and Outdoor Guiding for all ages. 651-776-1430; www. verticalendeavors.com. MISSOURI St. Louis. UPPER LIMITS. MO’s largest! 2 gyms-Downtown and West County. Over 24,500 ft2 combined. 17 Auto belays, Top-out Bouldering, 45’ high. Premier gym in St. Louis. 314-9912516; www.upperlimits.com MONTANA Billings. STEEP WORLD. Your comprehensive climbing center! Gym/ Shop; 208 N 13th. Billings, MT; 406-25-CLIMB; www.steepworld.com

TEXAS Austin. AUSTIN ROCK GYM 512-416-9299; www.austinrockgym.com.


New Rochelle. THE ROCK CLUB. 914-633-ROCK, www.climbrockclub.com

Las Vegas. NEVADA CLIMBING CENTER. 702-898-8192; www.nvclimbing.com

Charleston. COASTAL CLIMBING GYM. 843-789-3265; www.CoastalClimbing.com

Santa Fe. SANTA FE CLIMBING CENTER. 825 Early St Ste A, Santa Fe, NM. 87505; www.climbsantafe.com. 2


Lincoln and Peace Dale. ROCK SPOT CLIMBING. Lincoln/401-727-1704. Peace Dale/401-7897768; www.rockspotclimbing.com

Asheville. CLIMBMAX CLIMBING CENTER & GUIDE SERVICE. 828252-9996; www.climbmaxnc.com.


Carrollton. EXPOSURE ROCK CLIMBING GYM. 972-732-0307; www.exposurerockclimbing.com Houston STONEMOVES. 281397-0830; www.stonemoves.com UTAH

Provo. QUARRY INDOOR CLIMBING CENTER. www.quarryclimbing.com; 801-418-0266 Sandy. MOMENTUM INDOOR CLIMBING GYM. 801-990-6890. www.momentumclimbing.com VERMONT

Morrisville. TRIANGLE ROCK CLUB. Nc’s premiere climbing gyms! Two locations: Morrisville (9,000 sq ft.) and North Raleigh (13,000 sq. ft.) 919-463ROCK. www.TriangleRockClub.com OKLAHOMA Oklahoma City-ROCKTOWN CLIMBING GYM www. rocktowngym.com; (405) 319-1400. OHIO Cincinnati. ROCKQUEST CLIMBING CENTER. 513-733-0123; www.rockquest.com PENNSYLVANIA Doylestown. DOYLESTOWN ROCK GYM. 215-230-9085. www.doylestownrockgym.com Philadelphia. GO VERTICAL INC. 215-928-1800; www.govertical.com.

Burlington. PETRA CLIFFS 866-65-PETRA; www.petracliffs.com Rutland. GREEN MOUNTAIN ROCK CLIMBING CENTER. 802-773-3343; Second location in Quechee. www.vermontclimbing.com VIRGINIA Midlothian. PEAK EXPERIENCES. 804-897-6800; www.peakexperiences.com Virginia Beach. VIRGINIA BEACH ROCK GYM. 5049 Southern Blvd., Virginia Beach, VA 23462; 757-499-8347; mail@virginiabeachrockgym.com; www.virginiabeachrockgym.com. WASHINGTON Spokane. WILD WALLS CLIMBING GYM. 509-455-9596; www.wildwalls.com

April 2014 | ROCKANDICE.COM | 81



Ronny Birchler on Memory Lapse (5.10), The Sundial, Queenstown, New Zealand.

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Rock and Ice #217  

Rock and Ice #217 April 2014

Rock and Ice #217  

Rock and Ice #217 April 2014