$5.99 US / CAN
AUGUST 12, 2014

terrex scope
Dani Moreno and Edu Marin unlock Cordillera Blanca with the new Terrex Scope
GTX® featuring STEALTH rubber. The new lightweight Terrex Scope GTX® boot
is designed to keep your feet comfortable with the best grip in both wet and dry
conditions. Featuring GORE-TEX® product technology that combines breathable
comfort and durable waterproof protection. Unlock your terrain.

email for more information

© 2014 adidas AG. adidas, the 3-Bars logo and the 3-Stripes mark are registered trade marks of the adidas Group. STEALTH is a trade mark of Stone Age Equipment, Inc.

La Es®nge 5325m| Cordillera Blanca | Peru

timeline production







I In





F. M





ltrastruc ng an u id
nd Á
diam sions r a slim a ne.
g se
ive d
s in
IAXI ith exclusom traininution, for wtwo rope
exe es thes
pe, anges
s of
ic ro
OPP ale dynamt climbing ance focu10 combi
rm RX 9/
A T calibre
o the
High t rope, t he Opp
robu is ideal.








Editor’s Note






Off the Wall

A season with Yosemite Search And Rescue.
A band that climbs
rocks and rocks out.








Instant Expert

Make laybacks a breeze
with tips from Valley
local Cheyne Lempe.


From cutting off circulation to cushy, the
history of harnesses.
Big Review




The Kit


North Conway, New
Hampshire, and its
many crags.

Flavor and psych in a
nutritious two-bite pie.



Stylish car-living with
dirtbag extraordinaire
James Lucas.

10,000 feet of vertical
and 19 miles in two
days—no problem.


Treat your seat with
this year’s best new
The latest gear obsessions from our testers.
Six key items to take
every time you venture
above treeline.


Begin Here

Fear no alpine pitch
with these rope-management tech tips.


In Session


Guide’s Tip


Don’t panic. Here’s
what to do when your
rappel rope gets stuck.
Get authentic flavor
with these high-country cooking tips.


Ask Answer Man

What’s up with
climbers’ hunchbacks?


The Wright Stuff



An exploration of
“Stanley style” in a
remembrance of Sean
“Stanley” Leary.
Sloproping, and why
you should feel guilty
about it—or not.

88 THE
Cover photo by Thomas Schermer: Daniel Olausson takes in the morning light on Mon Gout (V9/7c), Förstasidan, Sweden.




Ari Menitove laybacks a granite
dihedral in classic style on The
Power of Lard (5.12+), Snowpatch
Spire, the Bugaboos, Canada.

56 The High Life
Everything is better
above treeline, and
that includes bouldering. High-country
pebble wrestling has
been on the rise for
several years, and
with crystal-clear
lakes, dense forests,
and talus aplenty,
boulderer Alex Biale
takes us on a tour of
the five best alpine
areas, from California to Wyoming.

70 Roped Up in
The Middle East
is a treasure trove
of secret surprises, including
the climbing oasis
Wadi Rum, with its
giant sandstone
walls. Adventurer
and writer Nancy
reveals this vertical
paradise with an
in-depth look at the
routes, the community, and the rise
of climbing in one
of the world’s most
volatile regions.

80 Editors’ Choice
There’s a class of
gear that rises above
the rest. As a matter
of fact, some of us
are still using models
of belay devices and
climbing shoes that
originally hit the
market more than
20 years ago. Here is
a testament to those
time-tested, muchloved pieces of gear
that every climber
should have in his

Issue 327. Climbing (USPS No. 0919-220, ISSN No. 0045-7159) is published ten times a year (February, March, April, May, July, August, September, October, November, December/January) by SkramMedia LLC. The known office of publication is at 2520 55th St., Suite 210, Boulder, CO 80301. Periodicals postage paid at Boulder, CO, and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes
to: Climbing, PO Box 420235, Palm Coast FL 32142-0235. Canada Post publications agreement No. 40008153. Subscription rates are $29.97 for one year of postal delivery in the United States. Add
$20 per year for Canada and $40 per year for surface postage to other foreign countries. Canadian undeliverable mail to Pitney Bowes IMEX PO Box 54, Station A, Windsor ON N9A 6J5. Postmaster:
Please send all UAA to CFS. Retailers: Please send correspondence to Climbing c/o Retail Vision 815 Ogden Avenue, Lisle, IL 60532-1337. List Rental: Contact Kerry Fischette at American List Counsel,
609-580-2875 Climbing magazine is a division of SkramMedia LLC.





Art Director
Senior Editor
Digital Media Specialist
Editor at Large
Senior Contributing
Senior Contributing Editor
Contributing Editors

Strong, very comfortable, remarkably lightweight,
and fully free standing 2-person all season tent in
our red label line. Perfect for those fast summer
alpine adventures!

Contributing Illustrators
Staff Photographer
Tablet Media Specialist
Design Intern
Edit Interns
5720 Flatiron Parkway
Boulder, CO 80301
Phone: (303) 253-6301
Subscriber Services:
Within U.S.: (800) 829-5895
Canada and Foreign: (386) 447-6318
Subscriber Service Email:
Contributors: Visit
Retailers: To carry CLIMBING magazine and
CLIMBING magazine publications in your shop,
contact Bonnie Mason: 1-800-381-1288



or over 40 years, Hilleberg has been making the highest quality tents available. Conceived and developed
in northern Sweden, Hilleberg tents offer the ideal balance
of low weight, strength, and comfort. Order our catalog for
more information!

INJURY OR DEATH. Rock climbing, ice climbing,
mountaineering, backcountry skiing, and all other
outdoor activities are inherently dangerous. The
owners, staff, and management of CLIMBING do
not recommend that anyone participate in these
activities unless they are experts, seek qualified
professional instruction and/or guidance, are knowledgeable about the risks involved, and are willing
to personally assume all responsibility associated
with those risks.
©2014. The contents of this magazine may not
be reproduced in whole or in part without consent
of the copyright owner. The views
herein are those of the writers and do not
necessarily reflect the views of CLIMBING’s
ownership, staff, or management.


Group Publisher
Advertising Director
Midwest Account Manager
Eastern Account Director
Eastern Account Manager
Western Account Managers
Detroit Account Manager
Account Manager
Group Marketing Director LIZ VERHOEVEN
Director of Integrated Marketing
Digital Marketing Director PHOEBE LEGG
Advertising Coordinator KELSEY MCCARTHY
Prepress Manager JOY KELLEY
Prepress Specialist IDANIA MENTANA
Circulation Director JENNY DESJEAN
Circulation Assistant LARA GRANT-WAGGLE
Director of Retail Sales SUSAN A. ROSE
Group Circulation Manager DARYL MARCO
Group New Business Manager
Web & Partnership Director DEBBIE KANE

Copyright 2014 © Cruz Bay Publishing, Inc.

Executive Vice President & CFO
Executive Vice President, Operations
Vice President, Controller JOSEPH COHEN
Vice President, Research KRISTY KAUS


Order a FREE catalog online at

or call toll free 1-866-848-8368
follow us on


Are you missing out on the best part of your trip? Local,
professional guides can lead you to secret, sought-after
spots and design an adventure to match your skill level.
Hire a climbing guide and head straight to the goods. Athlete: Steph Davis

Browse guided adventures at


Rob Pizem

Datura (5.12-)
Zion National Park, Utah

Climbing within a comfort zone
is not something Rob Pizem is
known for. As a matter of fact,
he’s famous for the opposite:
Wide cracks, scary runouts,
rarely traveled routes, and bad
pro are just a few of his fortes.
This climb is no exception:
“Choosing this route really was
about picking something that
I thought most climbers would
avoid like the plague,” he says.
This 900-foot route involves
400 feet of questionable and
chaotic crack climbing followed by a 500-foot chimney
filled with obstacles of all
sizes and difculties, including
massive tree stumps wedged
between the two walls. Yes,
you read that right: 500 feet
of an arboreal plant–filled
chimney. Sound like fun?
According to Pizem, many of
the lefover tree stumps are

8 | AUGUST 20 14

relics from Zion’s logging days,
which date back to the 1850s,
when they were tossed over
the wall’s edge. This old aid
line was established by Jim
Beyer, who graded it 5.9 A2, a
fact first ascensionist Pizem
(along with Mike Brumbaugh
and Andy Raether) didn’t
discover until he rappelled the
line and found old bolts deep in
the wide crack. On that same
day in March of this year, the
trio managed the first ascent
of another 900-foot line about
150 feet to the right, calling it
Dr. Spaceman (5.12-). Pizem
says the best part about the
route was “getting to free the
two aid pitches without having
to add any new protection to
the route.” The worst part?
“As with any new Zion climb,
getting sand in your eyes while
belaying.” Here, he frees the
last pitch of Datura.





Frédéric Moix

Arches of Time (V8/7b)
Bafa Lake, Turkey

Surrounded by idyllic olive
trees and historic ruins, Bafa
Lake is more than just
a world-class bouldering destination. Due to its
historical significance—it was
a trading port a few thousand
years ago—it was declared a
national park in 1989, covering 65 square kilometers and
home to at least 224 unique
bird species. Many religious
groups, including both
weather-worshipping cults
and Christian sects, made
their homes here at different
times, and each group has lef

some trace of their existence.
Coarse-grained granite boulders dot the landscape and
intermingle with 2,000-yearold crumbling walls, and
despite blocks that seem
somewhat featureless, there
are dozens of high-quality
climbs. Frédéric Moix found
and established this problem
at the top of the hill: a 33-foot
roof crack that splits the middle of this arching tunnel. “I
was blown away when I saw it
the first time, but it wasn’t so
hard,” he says of giving it the
7b grade. “But it’s probably 7a
[V6] for Americans because
Europeans can’t jam!”

Chris Sharma

Into the Light (5.14a)
Majlis al Jinn Cave, Oman

Afer you’ve climbed the
most difcult features on
the Earth’s surface, where
do you look for your next
challenge? Below ground.
Despite focusing on two
completely different climbing
disciplines—alpine big walls
vs. sport—unlikely partners
Stefan Glowacz and Chris
Sharma did exactly that in
March of this year. What appears to be a large hole in the

ground on the remote Selma
Plateau (which sits about
4,500 feet above sea level)
opens up to a gaping maw of a
cavern that drops 525 feet to
the floor. Afer nine months of
planning, training, and obtaining permits, the duo rappelled
down and started working the
climb. The route, appropriately
named Into the Light, is 984
feet of climbing on quality
limestone, broken into 13
pitches ranging from 5.13a to
5.14a. In this photo, Sharma
climbs out of the cave on the
last pitch, and while it looks

like crack climbing, Sharma
says it was mostly face climbing. Even though the two had
never roped up together, they
got along famously. Sharma
said that learning from
Glowacz was one of the best
parts of the adventure, and
Glowacz praised Sharma, saying, “I am fascinated with the
young generation. Most of all I
am inspired by Chris because
of his way of thinking about
climbing and life.”


Hayden Kennedy

Tague Yer Time (5.12)
Black Canyon of the
Gunnison, Colorado

Yosemite isn’t the only American big wall destination. The
Black Canyon of the Gunnison
in western Colorado features
pegmatite-banded gneiss
that plummets more than
2,000 feet straight down to
the river winding through the
canyon. The area is known for
its steepness, hard climbing,
tricky protection, wandering
lines, and sketchy rock. Even
its nickname, “The Black,”
conjures up a sense of doom
and intimidation. The Black is
not a beginner-friendly area:
Out of about 140 established
routes (all trad), less than
30 are rated below 5.10, and
even those are characterized
by loose rock and difcult
route-finding. This climb,
named afer the late Cameron
Tague, who established many
routes in The Black and died
climbing in Rocky Mountain
National Park in July 2000,
is 15 pitches, 1,500 feet, and
clocks in at a solid 5.12. Here,
Hayden Kennedy leads the
stellar eighth pitch while Nik
Berry belays.


Hazel Findlay

Musandam Peninsula,

Despite a tricky political
situation, Oman is becoming
a hot spot for climbers itching
for something new. A team
with The North Face, including
Hazel Findlay, Alex Honnold
(pictured in the dinghy), and
Mark Synnott, visited Oman to
go crag-hopping by catamaran.
With an estimated 100 miles
of cliff line on the Musandam Peninsula in the Gulf of
Oman, it’s no wonder that the
group chose this region for
first ascents and deep water
soloing. Just because there’s
a lot of rock doesn’t mean it’s
good rock, however. The group
experienced falling blocks and
choss on almost every route
they touched. One such climb
chopped a cord that lef group
members Mikey Schaefer
and photographer Jimmy
Chin stranded on a cliff face
high above the village of Sibi.
Luckily, Synnott and Renan
Ozturk were climbing nearby
and were able to get another
rope to them.

Martina Cufar Potard

Arête Cosmiques (5.13b/8a)
Mont Blanc Massif, France

Nothing like an alpine ridge
approach to get to a 5.13
sport route! This route, which
nine-time Slovenian National
Champion Martina Čufar Potard nabbed the third ascent
of, is on the Grande Gendarme,
a tower that juts out of the
middle of the Cosmiques Arête
ridge traverse, which combines
snow and mixed climbing with
a 5.8 rock crux. While this
ridgeline that runs from the
Abri Simond hut to the Aiguille
du Midi-Vallee Blanche cable
car station has been climbed
since 1911, this route wasn’t
established until 2013. Most
climbers traverse around
the Grande Gendarme, but
Martina’s husband, Frenchman Nicolas Potard, made the
first ascent in July of last year,
with the French climber Victor
Estrangin getting the second
ascent. This isn’t the first
route on the Grande, though;
Digital Crack is a 5.13b that
runs directly up the middle of
the spire. It’s famous for possibly being Europe’s highest
5.13 at 3,800 meters (12,467
feet). Although Nico graded
the climb 8a (5.13b), his wife
claimed that the high elevation
and lack of holds made it feel
much harder and more physical
than Digital Crack.



“The more I write, the more I
see similarities between writing and climbing. I could easily obsess for days, if not weeks,
months, or (gasp) years about
getting tiny things just right,”
says pro climber Angie Payne
in regard to her essay on alpine
bouldering. As you’ll see on
page 65, her obsession pays of.

Our longtime friend Nancy
Prichard-Bouchard, Ph.D., is
a prolific writer and former
pro climber, based in Bend,
Oregon. She was the executive
editor of Rock and Ice in the
early 1990s, during what she
refers to as “its golden years,”
and her byline has appeared
in Backpacker, Men’s Journal,
Outside, and Playboy, among
others. In this issue, she writes
about the climbing scene in
Jordan (p. 70). “It’s history in
the making,” she says.


Work for It
After rowing 1,000 meters for time and completing an unholy series of high pulls, back squats, curl-and-presses, pushups, Romanian dead lifts, and kettlebell slashers, the floor is
splattered with the sweat-rain of eight exhausted climbers and skiers.
Workouts like these are a special brand of fun. I mean it; I love escaping
my desk for a midday session that feels like a whole day’s worth of action
packed into 60 minutes. It’s a blast. But there are better things.
“Nice work, everyone!” says Connie Sciolino, owner and head coach at
the Alpine Training Center, which is down the street from our Boulder,
Colorado, headquarters. “Where’s everyone of to this weekend?” Answers range from late-late-season ski laps (it was a great snow year) to
an area 10k to braving Boulder Creek Tyrols (likewise an epic snowmelt
year) for some multi-pitch trad. It’s these things, the activities that inspire and define us and our goals within them that truly matter, not a
new one-round max. Training is fun, but it isn’t the end. It’s the means
to an end of ticking new goals and growing as a climber.
Senior Editor Julie Ellison and I will soon be heading to Wyoming’s
Wind River Range to attempt the Cirque Traverse, a link-up of each of
the peaks in the Cirque of the Towers. Our specially designed Cirque Traverse training program starts on page 34, and it’ll get you on your way to
your alpine goal, too. Give me 50 burpees, then turn the page.




A Washington state native,
Kel’s first alpine experience
was an all-cotton ascent
of 12,280-foot Mount Adams. He has since become
an AMGA-certified rock
and alpine guide, and now
operates Adventure Spirit
Rock+Ice+Alpine Experiences
He’s also quite the high country chef. Get his best advice on
tools and technique in “Alpine
Cooking School” (p. 48).

Rocking out


Eating pie

Thriving up high

The world’s greatest fake
glam-band climbing duo
shows us a sure-fire way to
have more fun (p. 20).

“On toprope, I will try that desperate heel
hook, or huck for a hold above what would
be a nasty ledge fall on lead. Why not?
Might as well try some shit.” We usually
toprope to work routes at our absolute limit,
but darn it if Brendan Leonard’s perspective
doesn’t sound more exciting (p. 54).

There are many reasons (p. 36).

From training for big objectives at altitude, to save-the-day rope tricks, to
experience-based gear and cooking
advice, to an in-depth look into one
of climbing’s hottest trends (alpine
bouldering), this issue is stuffed with
ways to live the high life.


| 17

Your May issue concerning Dennis
Horning (“Dirty Dingus McGee and the
Reese Mountain Gang”) brought back
fond memories of the late 1960s. I was one
of the four climbers who introduced Dennis to rock climbing in the Black Hills of
South Dakota. My climbing friends (Tom
Higgins, Bob Kamps, and Dave Rearick)
and I were preparing for a first ascent of a
modestly difcult pinnacle (5.6/5.7) when
Mr. Horning appeared on the scene. His
friendliness, engaging personality, and
eagerness led us to invite him to join the
climb. Upon reaching the summit, we
built a cairn and named the pinnacle—you
guessed it—Horning In.
—Mark Powell,
Woodland Hills, California


Cedar Wright’s “Dirtbagging Is Dead”
(July) hit home on many levels. I even
got choked up at the end. It was inspiring without being too critical, and asked
questions that made me think about my
own life. I have never been a dirtbag, but
I have always dreamed of it. My husband
(a former dirtbagger) and I, own a little
cafe (Red River Rockhouse) in the Red
where I feel like dirtbagging is still alive
and well. Even though I am caught up in
the rat race right now, I can live vicariously as we help keep today’s dirtbags fed
and sheltered by employing them. Soon

we’ll sell our house and move into a very
small cabin. Even at 36 and with a 4-yearold daughter, it won’t be too late for us.
Thank you tons for the extra nudge of inspiration. It’s never too late!
—Tina LaDeur Carter, via Facebook


Perhaps the author (“Ask Answer
Man,” May) has never boarded a plane in
20° weather and landed in 90° weather.
For traveling or the backcountry, I consider function over fashion. I save weight
and space in my pack with two garments
in one. Fast and light. Isn’t that what you
guys are always touting? Wearing “manpris” in public has garnered stranger
looks than my zip-of pants.
—Comfortable “Dork,” via email


I likely do not fit the demographics the
magazine was designed for. I’m 71, and I
started climbing four years ago. I climb
5.9, and I’m beginning to break into
5.10. I climb for the fun, joy, and thrill of
it, not to achieve any first ascents, super
extraordinary challenges, or to spend
my time working a “project.” The May
issue had a great surprise in “Get that
Freedom of the Hills: 7 Easy Routes for
Your Summer Tick List.” What a joy for
me to have moderate routes I can look
forward to.
—Roger Sweeney, via email





“Who’s to say Mr. (Sean) McColl hasn’t been to Hueco before and tried these problems over and over until
they are all but memorized? Wouldn’t this give him an unfair advantage? From now on, let’s keep it fair,
and have rock climbing competitions where they belong: gyms.”
—Wesley Summers, on his blog Rock Climbing Life. The jury is still out on
Summers’ authenticity. He may be the climbing world’s greatest troll yet.
“Yeah, that’s popping up everywhere now. He’s famous for falling in a hole.”
—Woman belaying in Boulder Canyon’s Sport Park, regarding the mainstream news
coverage of John All’s crevasse fall and subsequent rescue.
“I used to climb at Movement [climbing gym], but it just seemed too artificial.”
—Boulder, Colorado, climber at a local brewery event, upset because his
man-made climbing gym is too man-made.

18 | AUGUST 2 014



On The Cover
An anonymous climber on Ben Nevis in Scotland. Photographer
Rob Taylor would later achieve notoriety for an expedition that
went awry with Henry Barber. The pair were attempting an ascent
of the then-unclimbed Breach Wall on Mount Kilimanjaro. Taylor
suffered a bad break in his leg, requiring rescue. Barber hiked out
to get help, leaving Taylor to wait—cold and alone on Kilimanjaro—
for five days before help arrived. The story is recounted in Taylor’s
book The Breach: Kilimanjaro and the Conquest of Self.

A Little Help from My Friends
Today, spring-loaded cams are
standard rack essentials. In 1978,
cams, then called Friends, were
brand new, and the jury was out
on if they were awesome, or too
awesome. In this issue, Steven
Levin and Jim Bridwell debated if
the use of cams was cheating or a
natural evolution of the sport.

“The placement of a Friend takes much less time and effort than
does the placement of a traditional chock. If you will agree with
me that a major factor in doing a difcult crack climb is endurance, and that climbing fast is of utmost importance, would not
the use of Friends then significantly aid in the climber’s chances
of success? Put into other words, would the climber be able to
climb a certain pitch without the use of Friends? Is the climber
relying on Friends to complete the pitch?” –Steven Levin
“[Levin] fails to see the sophisticated technology represented in
nylon rope, wired stoppers, and EBs. Technology provides us with
a safer, more enjoyable climbing experience. Friends are possibly
the biggest technical breakthrough since the nylon rope. The door
to a new realm of climbing potential
has been opened up. They make a
lot of climbs easier granted, but we
move on.” –Jim Bridwell
Lef: A climber prepares for
Mount Huntington wearing the
standard Alaskan mountaineer’s
uniform of 1978.



What’s your favorite piece of pro?*
A big, dependable cam
Solid nut placement
A strong hold
Anything but hexes

Nylon runner around a
natural feature
Tricam in a horizontal crack
Solid hex placement

(No love for the hex)

Climbing reader survey. Join at

In our May 2014 feature
“The Mentorship Gap,”
Chris Noble links the rise of
climbing gyms and a dearth
of true mentorships with
growing problems at the
crags. While some considered the piece a rational
look at a modern issue, others weren’t so sure. Read
the full story at climbing



YOSAR’s Cheyne Lempe (@cheynelempe)
Those seeking to inhabit Yosemite through the climbing season spend their days finding ways to subvert the park’s meager camping
limit, but that’s not the only way to live in the Valley. The dedicated, fit, and experienced can enter the ranks of Yosemite Search and
Rescue (YOSAR). Cheyne Lempe (who also lends invaluable laybacking tips on p. 32) is one such individual. Here, he gives us a peek
inside Yosemite’s elite rescue squad.

Best to convince the gym
kids that what they do is
“real climbing.” Keep them
stashed indoors. Gym-tocrag classes are a disaster
in the making. Anyone who
belongs outdoors will find
their way there without a
gym owner profiting off one
more ridiculous class.
Jed - 05/22/2014
I’ve been climbing since
1982. It is an absolute
beer-spraying-out-yournose, pee-your-pants joke
to say that climbers of
any generation are good
stewards of the land.
Recreating outside does not
an environmentalist make
(e.g., snowmobilers, ATV
riders). Ever since the dawn
of the Access Fund, our
cry has been, “Let climbers
police themselves.” And
ever since that day, we’ve
made it very clear that we
can’t—or won’t.
Brian - 05/13/2014

“Ominous clouds whip around Mount Watkins and Tenaya
Canyon the morning afer a large storm.”

“Nothing beats the exposed
feeling during an El Rapitan

“No electricity, no water, no
heat. An incredible, simple
lifestyle in Camp 4.”

“The big dogs lower over the edge during a very challenging El
Cap rescue.”

“Helicopter 551 prepares to
land for a troop shuttle off
the top of El Capitan.”

“Lying here either gives me
relaxation or anxiety. As the
season ends, all is calm.”

Professional climbing
athletes are ofen times
the worst perpetrators,
hogging climbs they’ve
done hundreds of times,
particularly if someone
wants to point a camera at
them, which seems to be
all the bloody time. Their
sense of entitlement stems
from the fawning attitudes
of the gear companies that
sponsor them. As little
climbing-gear mannequins,
they infest the crags like
Mountain Hardwear/OR/
Patagonia–clad pubic lice.
Rob - 05/09/2014


| 19


Shred All Fear


Mullets, mustaches, and mountains

We first learned of Shred All Fear from their video, “Moab Madness!!!” ( In it,
the “band” climbs Ancient Art with magnificent mustaches on their faces, masculine mullet wigs on
their heads, and electric guitars on their backs. It’s ridiculous and amazing. When we reached out to
Shred All Fear about an interview, they responded with this list of demands:

1. Everyone always wants to know about the thousands of nameless groupies we party with on tour, but we
will NOT comment on our sexual adventures. Let’s be professional here.

2. Any mention of the words “mullet” or “mustache” will be preceded or followed by the appropriate adjectives, e.g.,
magnificent, glorious, overwhelming, sensual, masculine, etc. [ed.: see above.]
3. If any exclusive photos are requested for the article, we will need you to fly Kenny f***ing Loggins to us for the
shoot. If Kenny is not available, Tom Cruise will do.

4. And finally, a mixtape of all of your favorite high school heartbreak songs we can jam to on the next tour!
Rex “BonerJamz” Mckenzie and Brock “Freedom Ain’t Free” Steel were nice enough to waive demands
one and three, but the following interview was paid for with an eight-song emo CD plus postage.

And where are you currently based?
Brock: We are currently held out in the Midwest, specifically Kansas
City, Missouri, doing odd jobs so we can make money for the next trip.

Tell us about your guitar setup.
Brock: They’re two beater electric guitars, but instead of normal guitar
straps, we put bolt hangers on each end, and then custom-sewed runners—almost like rabbit runners—to the guitars. It goes: bolt hanger,
carabiner, rabbit runner. They’re full-strength.
Rex: When we did Stolen Chimney (5.10) on Ancient
Art, we climbed everything with the guitars. I led the
last pitch with a guitar. A hold broke on me on the
corkscrew, and I took a really big whip. We decided
that if we were gonna be jerks, we weren’t gonna be the
jerks who dropped a f ***ing guitar on someone.

That’s a popular route. Was there a big line behind you?
Rex: We knew we were going to be assholes going slow
with the guitars. We got up super early and hiked up
there really quickly to be the first ones out there. By the
time we rapped down, the next parties were just starting.

What’s it like whipping with a guitar on your back?
Rex: Like any other whipper, you don’t really have time
to think about it until you’re done whipping. We both
just kind of looked at each other, and my first thought
was, “Is the camera on?” And it wasn’t!
Brock: I saw him getting kind of sketched out up there,
so I turned the camera of and actually attempted to
give him a good belay.
20 | AUGUST 20 14

Rex: I still think I would’ve preferred the camera being on.

Any plans to get a drummer?
Rex: Our motto is that we’re two lead guitarists and that’s all you need.
Brock: We’re battling for lead guitar. Can’t let the other one have full lead.

What’s your craziest tour story?
Brock: After topping out Ancient Art, we were hiking out toward the
parking lot, and there was an H&M photo shoot. Twenty people and
two models. The photographer flagged us down and said, “You guys
have to come and shoot with these models.” And we’re like, “Yes!”
We’re not idiots.
Rex: Brock walked straight up to the models, turned around, looked into
the camera, and said, “Kiss my bicep.” The model, who’s been on the cover
of GQ, acted as if she’d been waiting for this her entire life and kissed it.
And we got the photo. It was perfect.

Any advice for our readers?
Rex: In magazines and videos, you
always see super-crushers, pulling V16—
whatever the hell that is—crimping on
minuscule things, and you wonder, “Is
this the only way?” We want to put it
out there that climbing is not all about
super-crushing; it’s just about going
out and having a good time. If you’re
doing desert towers, have a good time.
If you’re going to the gym, have a good
time. Put your ego aside, put on a mullet, and go climb.
Brock: And just take guitars because
you’re gonna have way more stories to
tell at the end of the day anyway.
Rex: Your beer tastes a lot better when
you’ve been climbing with a guitar all day.
Follow the ongoing adventures of Rex and
Brock at


Describe Shred All Fear for people that aren’t already familiar.Rex: If
you aren’t familiar, you must be living under a rock, because everybody’s heard of Shred All Fear—
Brock: [interrupts] A f ***ing goddamn rock!
Rex: Shred All Fear is a climbing duo from Saturn, whose sole mission
on Earth is to climb rad rocks, support the super stoke, and spread it
throughout the solar system.

Tie in to a new level of performance.

9.2 mm multi-standard lightweight rope.
The VOLTA 9.2, part of Petzl’s completely redesigned rope line, is the cord for the
most demanding users. Lightweight yet durable, and rated for use as a single, half,
or twin, it provides for exceptional performance at the crag and in the mountains.
Learn more about our all-new line of ropes on


Scary (and true) tales from a crag near you
Last weekend, I was climbing on
a large ledge above the road in
Boulder Canyon. A new trad leader started up an easy route. The
belayer was not anchored, which
is forgivable since it’s quite a large
ledge. However, after the leader
placed his first piece, he started
bounce-testing it!
—Abram Herman,

LESSON: Leave the bounce-testing to
aid climbers unless you down-climb to
a safe place first. If the pro failed and
the climber were lucky, he’d deck on the
ledge. If not, he’d fall past the ledge,
yank his belayer off with him, and they’d
both plummet down onto the street.
If there’s any chance a fall will be bad
news for your belayer, then he should be
anchored. It’s certainly good to test pro
and lock it in place with a solid yank, but

don’t put all your weight on it. You don’t
want to rip it—and yourself—off the wall.

Two climbers were on After Seven
(5.8) in Yosemite. The leader started
climbing, but the belayer was talking to some girls. When he was 15
feet up, the belayer sauntered over
and put the rope around his back.
He was attempting to hip belay, but
he wasn’t braced against anything.
My friend and I asked, “Why are
you hip belaying?” He shot back,
“Because we’re old!” They were no
more than 35. The kicker: he had
an ATC hanging from his harness.
—Billy SLC, via

LESSON: Hey, 35 isn’t old! It’s definitely not old enough to use hip belays
by default, since the first belay devices
came out in 1970. The hip belay is a good

technique to know for rolling but still “nofall zone” alpine terrain. A good hip belay
is all about stance; your legs absorb a
fall’s impact. If you’re standing casually, a
fall would pull you out of your stance and
rip the rope from your hands. Sit down,
brace your feet against something sturdy,
straighten your legs, and prepare to be
pulled toward the climber. (Learn more at

A party on Black Magic (5.10) in
Wadi Rum, Jordan, was recently
rescued. They either misread the
topo or lost count of the pitches.
They thought they were at the base
of the last pitch, an easy slab, when,
in fact, they were at the base of the
second-to-last pitch, a difcult
corner. They left their ropes at the
rappel station and soloed the pitch,
intending to return after the top to

rap of. Instead, they found they
couldn’t reverse it and were stranded 800 feet above the ground.
—Hanina Kali,

LESSON: Poor preparation can be
just as dangerous as bad practices.
Black Magic is a 12-pitch trad route—a
serious undertaking. The climb should
be planned before leaving the ground.
Keep track of the pitches and bring the
guidebook (or photocopied page) up the
wall in case you find yourself unsure. It’s
also a good idea to carry emergency bivy
gear on big climbs. You never know when
you’ll be benighted. A puffy, emergency
blanket, lighter, hand warmers, and some
GU packets will make an uncomfortable
night on the wall less uncomfortable.
See something unbelayvable?

Download Our Free Training Programs
We’ve partnered with Climbing magazine to bring you two free
training programs, available for download today!


Reach Your Peak is an eight-week training
program that utilizes the TRUBLUE Auto
Belay as an essential tool for climbers to
improve their skills and reach their personal
ftness goals.

We worked with some of the top climbing
trainers in the country to come up with
these 13 targeted workouts designed to
keep you motivated and boost strength
and endurance. The best part? This isn’t a
daunting multi-month program—just pick
a muscle group and get going.

Find a TRUBLUE near you, download the
training guide, and get started!

Download for free now at
Why Trublue?
TRUBLUE Auto Belays are appropriate training tools for climbers of all ages and abilities—whether you have never climbed before or you’re just about to send that 5.14b, the TRUBLUE can help you
develop the necessary skills to be the best climber you can be. TRUBLUE Auto Belays are easy to find—just scan the QR code to find the TRUBLUE Auto Belay closest to you and get climbing!

To find your nearest TRUBLUE, scan the QR code or visit

Elevate Your Experience.
Athletes like Mayan Smith-Gobat use
Sterling ropes to undertake some of
the most astonishing and challenging
adventures on the planet. Because every
climbing experience is diferent, we strive
to make ropes that perform fawlessly
under any conditions. We have the world’s
most well respected climbers using and
evaluating our products to improve their
That’s why Sterling developed DryCore™.
DryCore is Sterling’s innovative and
proprietary method of treating the core
yarns to reduce yarn-on-yarn abrasion and
moisture absorption. The core provides
the strength and power of your rope. If
your rope gets wet, it loses critical strength
and elongation will increase. In fact, tests
have shown that a wet rope can lose up
to 30% of its strength. In tests conducted
at Sterling, wet ropes constructed with
DryCore had less increase in elongation
than standard ropes.
DryCore™ is one way our products elevate
your experience. Where you choose to take
them is up to you.

Evolution Velocity™ | 9.8mm | 62 g/M



24 | AUGUST 2 014



There’s nothing like a sweet alpine view to ignite the psych! In this issue, we go up into the high country
for adventures at altitude. Here, Mike Brumbaugh climbs the lower section of Beckey-Chouinard (5.10) in
the Bugaboos, British Columbia. Put up by—you guessed it—Fred Beckey and Yvon Chouinard in 1961, this
route is 2,000 feet and 15 pitches of pure fun on South Howser Tower. Summer is time for the high life, so
check out page 56 to forgo the crowds for cooler temps and beautiful blocks at the best alpine bouldering
spots in the country. Plus, we’ve got skills for moving fast up high and the gear to keep you safe.



| 25


James Lucas climbs the thin Easter Island
(5.12-), Tuolumne Meadows, in the
original dirtbagging heaven: Yosemite,
where Lucas lives part of the year.


Live Free, Climb Hard
What it takes to live the life of a modern dirtbag

For the past 13 years, I have been dirtbagging.
I’ve lived out of a tent in Santa Cruz, in caves in
Yosemite, and the back of my station wagon in
Rifle. There have been brief periods of financial
prosperity, times when I could aford fancy fruit smoothies without checking my balance first, but there have been
more days of rubbing nickels together to make a quarter.
However, the struggle pays of in miles upon miles of granite, thousands of routes, and an endless string of fun days
climbing with friends.
But back to the struggle. In 2004, a half-dozen monkeys and I lived
in the dirt below the Bridger Jacks. We spent our time grinding our
skin away on the sandstone cracks of Indian Creek. My thin wallet
and burning desire to climb wide cracks required me to consume large
quantities of protein. Free protein. One afternoon, we drove to Moab
and found an entire case of expired eggs in the dumpster behind the

grocery store. We took them and stored them in our “refrigerator,” a
cardboard box in the shade of a small juniper tree. After two weeks of
eight eggs a day, I managed to fight my way up Big Baby, a 5.11 ofwidth
at Battle of the Bulge. I dry-heaved for an hour after the ascent. The
next day my friend puked. He stopped eating the eggs, but the rest of
the group soldiered on. I’ve evolved since then.
Now the payofs. A few years ago I tried to free climb Moonlight Buttress (5.12d) in Zion. After a friend and I failed, we took a break for a few
days to sport climb. The cracks worked us. Then a professional climber
I’d met there called and asked if I wanted to give Moonlight another
shot. I sent the route with Brittany Grifth. Then earlier this year, I was
sport climbing a few hours west of Zion when Brittany’s husband Jonathan Thesenga (Black Diamond employee and former editor of Climbing) called, looking for a Moonlight partner. We freed the route as well.
Meeting and climbing with those two was a wonderful opportunity that
wouldn’t have happened without dirtbagging. I wouldn’t have had the
time or the ability to climb with them. And as I write this, I’m deep in my
13th season at Yosemite. Not too bad.

How I’ve Stayed on the Road so Long


If you want to climb all the
time, the best thing to do is
to start doing it. Get in your
car right now and drive to
the crag. No car? Bike. No
Bike? Walk. Being a dirtbag
isn’t about eating somebody
else’s leftovers. It’s about
realizing your goals. In the
immortal words of heavyweight bodybuilder Ronnie
Coleman, “Everybody wanna
be a body builder, ain’t nobody wanna lift no heavy-ass

We’ve all heard tales of the
gourmet score from a Trader
Joe’s dumpster, but food is
usually out of pocket. Vegetables, fruits, and nuts cost
a bit more than an ice cream
sandwich from the Yosemite
Lodge, but the better, longlasting energy will keep your
body from breaking down
over the course of so much
climbing. Eating well is like
preventive health care: Spending a bit more on good grub is
saving in the long run. You are
less apt to get sick, your body
will be stronger, and ultimately
you will climb harder.

Earlier this spring, my Saturn
station wagon died just
outside Yosemite. I lost my
wheels and my home. Werner
Braun, one of the original
Stonemasters and a member
of Yosemite Search and Rescue, pronounced my rig dead
after a few days of working
on it. Having no money, no
car, and no home is a legit
reason to weep. But that’s not
why I’m out here. It motivated
me to climb harder than ever.
When you have nothing, you
go climbing. The rock knows
no difference.

You don’t have to look or
act homeless just because
you don’t have a home. It
makes other climbers avoid
you, and the authorities
will look at you with more
scrutiny. I shower and shave
every couple of days. It
makes it easier to fly under
the radar. As notorious dirtbag Chongo wrote in The
Quotable Chongo, “If you
wash your hands frequently,
then you get more babes...
and you live longer (a fact)...
which means that you can
get even more babes.”

Earlier this year, I pulled
600 feet of fixed line off
El Capitan, and I replaced a
number of the fixed lines to
Heart Ledges. The physical toiling worked me, but
Yosemite climbing ranger
Ben Doyle offered to belay
me on my project halfway
up El Cap as a result. Being
a crag steward fully paid off.
Replace webbing, switch
out bad biners, and clean up
trash. Good stuff happens to
good people.


| 27


11 routes






5 routes

31 routes

North Conway, NH

3 problems



2 routes

2 problems



75 routes

1 route

25 routes


With our partners at,
we’re creating ultimate primers to the country’s
premier climbing towns. Here, we dive into the
undisputed capital of New England rock.



6 routes

10 routes

1 route




6 routes

4 problems

3 routes



28 routes



6 routes

2 routes



1 route

1 route




15 problems

18 routes



9 routes

199 routes



7 routes

12 routes


69 routes






59 routes

12 routes


3 routes

13 routes


3 routes


4 routes


888 routes


28 | AUGUST 2 014

5 routes

1 route


6 routes


13 routes

2 routes

29 routes

15 routes




1 route

3 routes





10 routes

2 routes

7 routes


42 routes


32 routes



North Conway



23 routes

7 routes

173 routes


46 routes


4 routes


3 routes





5 routes



141 routes


46 routes


83 routes

1 route


17 routes



4 routes



1 route


1 route


4 routes


39 routes


1 route

11 routes




2 routes

21 routes



16 routes

Granite State of Mind

This little town has more routes within a couple hours’ drive than it has residents in the city limits. Mountain
Project lists more than 3,500 routes in the vicinity, while the U.S. Census tallies 2,349 townies, and North
Conway lies smack in the middle of the highest concentration of climbing in the state—if not all of New
England. New Hampshire’s nickname is the Granite State, but its rock comes in many forms, from the rounded boulders of Pawtuckaway in the south to the clean, fractured granite of Cannon Cliff in the north. North
Conway has two of the best trad cliffs in the country: Cathedral Ledge and Whitehorse Ledge, minutes from
town. All of this packed inside a state that is small enough to fit inside some national parks out West.







| 29



Where climbers:
Take NH 112 out of Conway (this
stretch is known as the Kancamagus Highway) to find six state park
campgrounds (fee; mostly first come,
first served) and national forest land.
You can camp for free off any hiking
trail, or the “Kanc” as it winds through
White Mountain National Forest.
Prefer a roof? Head to the White
Mountains Hostel. It has 10 rooms,
28 bunks, and five private rooms. ($27–
To satiate the three holy climbercravings (coffee, pizza, and beer),
you couldn’t be in a better place. Hit
Frontside Grind (frontsidecoffee
.com) for your morning caffeine jolt
(or if you need a partner—it’s usually
packed with climbers). Shuffle to
Flatbread Pizza Co. in the evening
( for an organic wood-fired pie—we like Mopsy’s
Kalua Pork Pie. Then sample the best
local craft beer at Moat Mountain
Smokehouse and Brewery ( The Moat Iron Mike
Pale Ale is crisp with a citrusy Cascade
hop finish; more important, it’s canned
in tallboys. Grab a sixer for camp!

Leslie Timms takes in the
sweet view on Rapid Transit
(5.10a/b), Cathedral Ledge,
New Hampshire.

[gear up]
Founded in the 1970s and run by
longtime locals Rick and Ceila Wilcox,
International Mountain Equipment
is a required stop, even if you don’t
need anything. “We dispense climbing
info all day long,” says employee and
guide Max Lurie. “We’ve even had
people call from the base of a route
asking for beta. And we gladly oblige!”
Still, we’d advise browsing their vast
library of guidebooks or even taking
a climbing lesson or joining a guided
trip if you need to be pointed in
the right direction (head upstairs to
inquire). Already dialed? The consignment shop in the basement is worth a
quick rummage—it’s loaded with used
backcountry, climbing, mountaineering, and telemark gear. (,
[spend a rest day]
Hammock-lounging in camp might
sound sweet, but you’re a stone’s
throw from the Presidential Range and
thousands of dreamy swimming holes.
Hike Mount Washington via a 7.6-mile
loop (, and then check out First Bridge
or Davis Beach, both on the Saco River
just outside of town.


North Conway Classics

The 10 best 4-star routes as ranked by Mountain Project users

Moby Grape (5.8)
Cannon Cliff, 6 pitches
“An eye-opening experience! Way different than
any trad I’ve done. More
harrowing. And hero-ing! It
was a blast! I can’t wait for
my next Cannon adventure.
And that’s exactly what it
was—an adventure!”

30 | AUGUST 2 014

They Died Laughing (5.9)
Cathedral Ledge, 1 pitch
“I think they died laughing due
to the ridiculous amount of gear
you can place in this crack. 5.9
doesn’t come any safer!”
Underdog (5.10a)
Rumney, 1 pitch
“Underdog is the best rock
I’ve ever climbed. The triangle
hold is the coolest hold I have
ever seen. The view and rock
are excellent and surprisingly
sustained. Absolute classic!”
Lonesome Dove (5.10a)
Rumney, 1 pitch
“A beautiful line to finish up a
long Rumney day. The exposure

is awesome. Climb it at sunset, and when you clip the
chains, turn around. You’re
guaranteed to be blown
away by what you see!”

decently long 5.10. Either way,
the movement and rock quality are stellar. This is a very
reasonable lead for those
looking to break into 5.10+.”

Millenium Falcon (5.10c)
Rumney, 1 pitch
“I’d be hard-pressed to think
of a more enjoyable 5.10.
Incredibly fun and varied.
But don’t underestimate the
need for crack skills on this
one. It’s awesome!”

Airation (5.11a)
Cathedral Ledge, 2 pitches
“The first pitch is only 37
feet, but given that I was
finger jamming about every
nine inches, I did more than
40 jams in that length. No
wonder it seems taller!”

Waimea (5.10d)
Rumney, 1 pitch
“Absolutely outstanding
route. If you link it with All
the Way-A, it makes for a

Flying Hawaiian (5.11b)
Rumney, 1 pitch
“This is, without question,
the testpiece at the grade
for Rumney. It is such a

*Stats are for the immediate North Conway area. Get route beta, photos, and topos at

varied and well-defined line,
with several cruxes that take
power, finesse, and a willingness to go a little farther ‘out
there.’ Flying Hawaiian definitely has a well-deserved
aura about it.”

Apocalypse Later
Rumney, 1 pitch
“One of my favorite routes
at Rumney. On chilly days
the face is drenched in
sunshine. The route is the
best of both worlds, long
moves up steep rock at the
bottom, then you pull onto
the face, and suddenly you’re
scrambling for technique.”



Fun House (5.7)
Cathedral Ledge, 2 pitches
“So much fun! Is that how
it got its name? The second
pitch is just plain fantastic,
with easy/enjoyable cracks
and ledges, all with good
protection. The rock is incredible, dry, and frictiony.”

An early attempt of the nose.

Brand of the Brave



Layback and Relax

Style your way through layback sections with these expert techniques

LAYBACKS COMBINE difficult aspects of several climbing styles into a challenging mélange of
movement. Technically, laybacks are a type of crack climbing, but they also include the smeary
feet of a slab route, the pump factor of an overhanging sport climb, the oppositional pull and
push forces of a techy face section, and the finicky gear placements of an R-rated trad line. This
tricky hybrid is most useful on flakes and in corners where straight-in jamming isn’t an option,
but newbie crack climbers have also been known to employ it on cracks before they’ve mastered
the elusive foot- and hand-jamming skills. We’ve gathered experience-driven tips and tricks to
create a foolproof recipe for success on pumpy layback pitches.

Corners and flakes are the features
on which laybacking most often
comes in handy. The former,
dihedrals with a crack in the
middle, where the angle or crack
size prohibits straight-in jamming.
The latter is a large feature that
overlaps a face, leaving space to fit
your fingers between the flake and
the wall. Laybacks work because
of the opposition of push and pull
forces: Smear your feet against the
face to push your body out, while
pulling with your hands in the
crack to keep your body in.
Place your hands in the crack
in a sidepull position (usually top
hand thumb-down, bottom hand
thumb-up), keeping them at a
comfortable height to maximize
pulling force. This will usually be
from about chest height to slightly
above your head. Walk your feet
up so that you can push your
butt out, and in turn, pull against
the rock with your hands. Move
both hands up by shuffling them
(keep the same one on top, don’t
alternate the high hand), and
then walk both feet up. Some
sections might warrant hand-foot,
hand-foot, but the hand-hand,
foot-foot method is more secure
and efficient.


Pump Factor
You’re relying on your forearms
and biceps. Even if you can
straighten your arms to utilize
your skeleton, you still need some
finger strength to grip the rock
like a sidepull. Keep your arms and
hands as relaxed as possible, taking
care not to over-grip the rock.
Training on long, pumpy sport

32 | AUGUST 2 014

Desiree Cole gives a clinic on
Puzzle Factory (5.12), Cliffs of
Insanity, Indian Creek, Utah.

Find fingerlocks or hand jams in the layback
position. These allow you to actively pull outward on the crack and to passively use your
skeleton to hang on your arms.
Don’t get your feet too close to your hands;
this creates maximum horizontal force and
wastes energy. On the other hand, if your feet
are too low, the opposing forces won’t create
enough friction. Find the sweet spot based on
the angle and your height. Find footholds to
push up (or rest) on and put more weight on
your legs.
Getting into and out of a layback is hard, so
try to find a bomber lock or jam in the crack.
This lets you transition from pulling down to
out, and vice versa. It also helps to start the
transition moves with high feet.

climbs at the gym provides good
conditioning for laybacks.
No Rests
The scrunched position engages
your core, legs, and arms, so look
for rests before and after the
layback section. Conserve energy
before, move consistently through
the layback, and then get a rest
when it’s over. Constantly scan for
footholds on both faces so you
can pull into a stemming position
and stand purely on your feet to
get a good break. One good foot
on the face and a foot jam in the
crack could be just enough. If it’s

a corner with a large crack, try
wedging your whole body into
the crack.
Placing Gear
Your head is being pushed away
from the crack, so it’s difficult to see
the crack, choose the correct piece,
and place it. Talk to locals, read
guidebooks and Mountain Project,
and eye the line at the base to get a
good idea of what sizes will fit best.
There will be a side of your body
that scums against the rock; position
your gear on the other side. This will
make the climb more comfortable
and keep gear accessible.

If the crack begins to steepen or angle sideways, the position of your hands will change.
Instead of a sidepull, switch to underclings
with both palms facing upward. At this point,
it’s important to find small footholds so you
can put more weight on your feet.
A recent rescue involved a laybacking climber
who was blindly placing gear. He slipped, his
pro blew, and he hit the ground. Find a rest
stance before placing gear, and always look to
make sure it’s solid. Otherwise, estimate the
size of the crack with your hands and from
scoping it out previously. Pull in on both arms,
lock off with the arm that has the best grip,
place gear, and check to make sure it’s bomber.



with Cheyne Lempe








Bill Morse suits up for a larger than life burn on “California 5.12”, a steep and thuggy 12c at Red Rock Canyon, Nevada Photo: Ben Moon



Train like a professional athlete for long climbs with heavy packs

STEEP APPROACHES, weighty loads, and full days make climbing in the alpine a serious
affair. Likewise, climbers with big alpine goals should take their training seriously. In August,
Climbing editors Shannon Davis and Julie Ellison are headed to the Cirque of the Towers in the
Wind River Range of Wyoming to attempt a two-day Cirque Traverse. Covering 19 miles, 10,000
feet of vertical gain and loss, and dozens of pitches of technical climbing and rappelling, the
Cirque Traverse is a link-up of nine technical peaks. We worked with Rob Shaul, a strength and conditioning
coach who has trained pro skiers and climbers, and The North Face’s Mountain Athletics program, to design an
appropriate and ass-kicking training plan for big days in the alpine.


This program is seven weeks long and should start in accordance
with the dates of the trip: For example, our traverse dates are
August 22 to 24, so we will start the plan on July 7. To begin
the plan, you’ll need a high level of minimum fitness: You must
be able to run 12 miles total and do 1,000 box step-ups with a
25-pound pack nonstop. That sounds daunting, but it’s completely doable with what Shaul calls “on-ramp” training. He suggests a four-week plan that includes running and core strength.
Run intervals or hill sprints ( two days, rest one day, and run another day of intervals.
Do a moderately paced eight-mile run for the fifth and final day.
On all five of those days, including the middle rest day, do a 25-

to 30-minute core-strengthening routine.
This program directly reflects the fitness demands of the chosen
event (uphill/downhill hiking, scrambling and trail running under
load, climbing stamina, etc.) and will take physical discipline and
a significant time commitment to complete; this is training like a
professional athlete. The plan is progressive, so it gets harder as it
goes on. Commitment to training demonstrates a respect for the
mountains and the sport of climbing.
Equipment: climbing gym or access to a wall; small backpack with
25 lbs. (same pack for traverse); approach shoes (same ones for
traverse); heart-rate monitor (HRM); GPS or GPS watch to measure running distances; foam roller; box, bench, or stairs.

1. Warm up according to calendar at right,
then do 1,000 step-ups as detailed below.
2. Complete 200 step-ups as fast as you can
with your HRM tracking your average heart
rate and total time.
3. After completing 200, set a new interval
to track a new average heart rate.
4. Complete 800 step-ups as fast as you can.
5. Record your average heart rate for the
final 800 step-ups. That is your lactate
threshold (LT) on which all of the training in
this plan will be based.
6. Use the following percentages of your LT
to find your target heart rate for each zone
listed on the calendar: Zone 1 is <84%; Zone
2 is 85-89%; Zone 3 is 90-94%; Zone 4 is 9599%; Zone 5 is 100-106%.

34 |


Strength and conditioning mastermind Rob Shaul started Mountain Athlete
( in Jackson, Wyoming, in February 2007 to cater to skiers,
climbers, and extreme outdoor athletes. Since then, he has trained dozens of
professional athletes, and most recently, he teamed up with The North Face’s
Mountain Athletics program to design training plans for the everyman outdoor
athlete to complete big objectives.


Sunday and Monday are

rest days.
On days that are highlight-

ed red, wear approach shoes
and a 25-lb. pack for the
training (not the warm-up),
unless otherwise noted.
Foam roll your legs and
lower back everyday.
For climbing sessions,
choose four bouldering
problems two grades below
your max; make sure you can
transition quickly. Non-boulderers should aim for V0 or
V1. Each “set” should be four
problems back to back with
no rest in between climbs;
you will rest one minute
after each set. If the gym is
busy, pick two problems and
climb each twice for a total
of four climbs.
Plan your Saturdays around
these mini-events, or long
days designed to prepare for
the actual traverse. Run and
do step-ups under load, and
climb at the gym.
For mini-events, do 1, 2,
and 3 without resting. Do
the first run from your rock
gym. Finish at the gym, and
do the step-ups and climbing
(in approach shoes). Then do
the next run.
Weekday sessions will last
60 to 90 min. The Saturday
mini-event will last 3+ hours.
Choose the best rest days
for your schedule and adjust
accordingly; be consistent.
If you can’t make a day, pick
up where you left off. The
plan gets harder, so don’t
skip around.
Use a 16” to 18” bench, box,
rock, stair, etc. for step-ups.
Aim to make all heart-rate
zones. If your heart rate
is ever too high, dial back
your intensity. If it’s later in
the program and your heart
rate is consistently too high
or too low (despite making
numbers earlier), you might
be overtraining, so look for
other symptoms: no motivation, difficulty sleeping, and
poor appetite. If these are
present, stop training and
take a week off.
For exercise videos, check












4 sets: 185 step-ups
@ Zone 3, 800-meter run @ Zone 2

Use hilly terrain for all
mini-events if possible.
1. 6-mile run
2. 3 sets: 750 step-ups,
4 V1/V2 boulder problems (no pack)
3. 6-mile run

4 sets: 200 step-ups
@ Zone 3, 800-meter run @ Zone 2

1. 6.5-mile run
2. 3 sets: 775 step-ups,
4 V1/V2 boulder problems (no pack)
3. 6.5-mile run

4 sets: 100 step-ups
@ Zone 3, 1,200-meter run @ Zone 2

1. 7-mile run
2. 3 sets: 800 step-ups,
5 V1/V2 boulder problems (no pack)
3. 7-mile run

4-mile run @ Zone

1. 8-mile run
2. 3 sets: 825 step-ups,
5 V1/V2 boulder problems (no pack)
3. 8-mile run

3-mile run @ Zone

1. 9-mile run
2. 3 sets: 850 step-ups,
6 V1/V2 boulder problems (no pack)
3. 9-mile run

Rest Day

1. 10-mile run
2. 3 sets: 900 step-ups,
6 V1/V2 boulder problems (no pack)
3. 10-mile run

Rest Day

Rest Day

Week 1
WU (warm-up): 3 sets of 25 step-ups, 5 pushups, 10 sit-ups
1. Complete the Lactate Threshold Field Test
(see sidebar at left).

1. 4 sets: 4 problems,
rest 1 min.
2. Rest 5 min.
3. 4 sets: 4 problems,
rest 1 min.
4. Rest 5 min.
Repeat (16 sets total)

WU: 3 sets of 8 air squats, 8 pushups, 8 sit-ups, instep stretch
1. 8 sets: mini leg blaster, 6 pushups
2. 3 sets: 30 sec. sit-ups, 30 sec. EOs,
30 sec. front bridge, 30 sec. rest
3. 4-mile run @ Zone 1-2

WU: 3 sets of 200-meter run, 20 step-ups,
instep stretch
1. 5 sets: 3 min. step-ups @ Zone 4, 1 min. hip
flexor/pigeon stretch
2. 8 sets (no pack): mini leg blaster, 6 pushups
3. 5 sets: 3 min. run @ Zone 4, 2 min. run @
Zone 1

Same as Week 1

Same as Week 1

Week 2

Week 3
WU: same as Week 2
1. 5 sets: 3 min. step-ups @ Zone 5, 1 min. hip
flexor/pigeon stretch
2. 2 sets (no pack): full leg blaster, 8 pushups
3. 4 sets (no pack): mini leg blaster, 8 pushups
4. 5 sets: 3 min. run @ Zone 5, 2 min. run @
Zone 1

Same as Week 1

WU: same as Week 1
1. 2 sets: full leg blaster, 8 pushups
2. 4 sets: mini leg blaster, 8 pushups
3. 4 sets: #2 from Week 1
4. 4-mile run @ Zone 1-2

WU: 2 sets of Week 2
1. 5 sets: 4 min. step-ups @ Zone 4, 2 min.
pigeon stretch and lat/pec stretch
2. 2 sets (no pack): full leg blaster, 8 pushups
3. 4 sets (no pack): mini leg blaster, 8 pushups
4. 5 sets: 4 min. run @ Zone 4, 2 min. run @
Zone 1

Same as Week 1

1. 4 sets: 200 step-ups @ Zone 3,
1-mile run @ Zone 2
2. 3 sets (no pack): full leg blaster, 10
3. 2 sets (no pack): mini leg blaster,
10 pushups
4. 4 sets (no pack): #2 from Week 1

Week 5
WU: 4 sets of Week 2
1. 5 sets: 5 min. step-ups @ Zone 4, 2 min.
pigeon stretch and lat/pec stretch
2. 3 sets (no pack): full leg blaster, 10 pushups
3. 2 sets (no pack): mini leg blaster, 10 pushups
4. 5 sets: 5 min. run @ Zone 4, 2 min. run @
Zone 1

Same as Week 1

1. 4 sets: 225 step-ups @ Zone 3,
1-mile run @ Zone 2
2. 3 sets (no pack): full leg blaster, 10
3. 4 sets (no pack): mini leg blaster,
10 pushups
4. 5 sets (no pack): #2 from Week 1

Week 6
WU: same as Week 5
1. 5 sets: 5 min. step-ups @ Zone 5, 2 min.
pigeon stretch and lat/pec stretch
2. 4 sets (no pack): full leg blaster, 12 pushups
3. 5 sets: 5 min. run @ Zone 5, 2 min. run @
Zone 1

Same as Week 1

1. 4 sets: 250 step-ups @ Zone 3,
1-mile run @ Zone 2
2. 4 sets (no pack): full leg blaster, 12
3. 5 sets (no pack): #2 from Week 1

Week 7
WU: same as Week 5
1. 5 sets: 5 min. step-ups @ Zone 4, 2 min.
pigeon stretch and lat/pec stretch
2. 3 sets (no pack): full leg blaster, 10 pushups
3. 2 sets (no pack): mini leg blaster, 10 pushups
4. 5 sets: 5 min. run @ Zone 4, 2 min. run @
Zone 1

Same as Week 1, but
only 8 sets total

Rest Day


| 35



Power Pie


Improve endurance with this sweet, portable snack
served a slice of humble pie, but that frustrating dessert won’t give you the steady stream
of energy and hydration boost that this Banana
Walnut Two-Bite Pie will. Carbohydrates in the
bananas, crust, and brown sugar provide energy,
while potassium helps your body absorb the water
you drink. That potassium also prevents cramping,
restores muscles, and maintains blood-sugar levels.
With a built-in pie crust container, these treats offer a convenient and fairly durable way to get this
superfood to the crag. Plus, the walnuts offer the
healthy type of fat, which will give you long-lasting
energy. Following this basic recipe, you can stuff it
with whatever you want for an easy, tasty snack. If
you’re not bananas about, uh, bananas, try apples
and cinnamon, or peaches and brown sugar.

Premade pie crust

2 large diced bananas

¼ cup finely chopped walnuts

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or your
favorite baking spice

36 | AUGUST 2014

Mix all the filling ingredients together in a bowl.
Grease a muffin pan thoroughly.
Press dough into the bottom and sides of the pan, so it fills
each muffin cup halfway.
Put about two tablespoons of filling into each pie.
Use the remaining dough to make small, flat discs. Place
those over each pie, then press the sides of the top down, sealing the crust together.
Bake according to the directions of your specific pie crust (10
to 20 minutes), subtracting a few minutes since each pouch will
be small.
Remove from the oven when the crust is a golden brown.
Let the pies cool completely after baking so the filling firms up.
Nutrition Facts
per serving (1 pie)
Energy 165 cal
Fat 3g
Sodium 24mg
Carbs 32g


Gluten-free doesn’t have to mean taste-free,
and this Pillsbury version is evidence of that.
When given a pie with a regular crust and then
the gluten-free version, one tester actually
preferred this one. It was dry compared to
regular dough, so it requires extra kneading
and special care when forming the mini-pies.

Budget Option

This boxed mix requires a few more steps than
refrigerated crusts, but adding water, stirring,
and kneading is a small price to pay when you
can get two nine-inch pies worth of crust for
about $1. “Flaky, buttery, and yummy—just
like Mom’s pies growing up.”

Fiber 2g
Protein 15g
Water 40%


Republished with permission of VeloPress
from Feed Zone Portables ($25, skratchlabs.
com). Try more recipes
at feedzonecookbook.


Diehard bakers will probably scoff at the idea
of a whole-wheat pie crust—until they take
a bite of this. Even with the denser whole
wheat, this crust has just the right flaky to
moist consistency—and more fiber than a
traditional pie crust makes it feel extra filling.




Pie in the Sky

One dirtbag’s love affair with the dessert pastry
Despite not having a permanent address since 2001,
James Lucas, professional dirtbag (see p. 26) and pie
lover, has baked these tasty pastries all over the country, even entering pie-baking contests against veteranbaker mothers and grandmothers.

The old ladies of the pie contests are a secretive, competitive lot. They employ their husbands to get them
fruit and the best butter, help them taste, and wash
dishes. Couple this with a few decades of practice, and
they are formidable opponents.

How did your love affair with pie start?
In spring 2005, I wanted to impress a girl, and an injury
kept me from ripping off my shirt and dynoing on slabs,
so I needed something beyond climbing. I pictured
myself on the cover of Martha Stewart Living, wearing
just an apron and holding a pie. The girl swooned when
I arrived at her house with a cherry pie. Then in summer
2011, I injured myself in Rifle, Colorado, and drowned
my sorrows in butter lattices and crisp, sugar-coated
Granny Smith apples. The Carbondale Mountain Fair offered a chance to test my pie skills while taking a break
from punting off my sport project, so I entered.

Perhaps a stretch, but do pie-baking contests have
any similarities to climbing?
You’re judged by your performance, and in climbing,
people judge you a little less. The similarities include
being hyper-focused on the smallest things: rolling
out an even thickness of crust, weaving the perfect
lattice, etc. These all require the same precision
back-stepping on a small nub or rolling your fingers on
a razor-edge crimp.


What’s your win-loss record for pie-baking contests?
I’m 0-2. Judy Harvey, a local favorite, beat my apple
pie with a boysenberry/huckleberry pie in 2011. In 2013,
a newcomer demolished my Kentucky Derby Pie, a
chocolate bourbon pecan, with her lemon meringue.

Is pie the ultimate climbing fuel?
With a lot of fat and sugar, I would guess that traditional pies do little for climbers nutritionally, but they do
offer a large amount of emotional support. A good pie
will transport you to another place or time with good
memories. To quote Colorado climber Mike Pennings:
“You can’t put a price on morale.” Pies are amazing for
keeping the spirits up.

Details That Matter

What does a hiking boot company like LOWA know about climbing shoes? We don’t have
any rock stars, we don’t have any first ascents, we haven’t given away tons of product,
but here’s what we do have: 90 years of boot-making experience that, among other
things, has taken climbers to the summit of every 8000 meter peak in the world.
Our new X-BOULDER carries our legacy forward.

To see LOWA’s new line of rock shoes, visit

© 2014 LOWA Boots, LLC. VIBRAM®, the Octagon Logo, and the Yellow Octagon Logo and the color Canary Yellow are registered trademarks of Vibram S.p.A.

NEW X-Boulder



We’ve come a long way,
baby—from the (literally)
gut-wrenching swami
belts and painful chest
harnesses of old to
sleek, comfortable models weighing less than a
pound. To see how good
we have it today—with
upgraded features and
materials like comfortable padding, breathable mesh liners, and
laser-cut webbing—peep
these antique (but state
of the art in their time)
rigs on display at Neptune Mountaineering in
Boulder, Colorado. Then
get psyched to turn the
page and find your next







Eastern European copy of an
Edelrid chest harness:
homemade, can take apart to
use rope and cord.

Whillans Sit Harness: made by
Troll of England, designed for the
first ascent of Annapurna South.

Bill Forrest Waistbelt: sold
separately from leg loops (#4)
for precise sizing.

Bill Forrest Leg Loops: these
and the waistbelt were always
used together.


Clan Robertson Harness:
made by Brian Robertson
in Boulder.
early 1970s

Troll ABS Harness: has a wide
range of adjustment buckles that
can’t be fully undone for safety.
late 1980s

Special thanks to Gary Neptune and Neptune Mountaineering.

| 39



Best Seats in the House

5 comfortable all-around harnesses for every climber


The fact that most
harnesses on the
shelves perform well,
feel comfortable,
meet strict safety
standards, and last a
few years at the very
least makes picking
the best of the bunch
a rigorous exercise in
sussing out details,
ergonomics, weight,
and all-day comfort.
To make our readers’ retail decisions
as easy as possible,
the diligent test team
went to work on a variety of terrain, from
scary desert towers
in Utah to whipper
after whipper in the
limestone paradises of
Wyoming to eighthour romps on the
granite domes of
California. In the end,
these five sleek and
affordable setups led
the pack for comfort,
versatility, durability,
and overall performance.

Edelrid Solaris

Black Diamond Ozone




“You won’t find a more comfortable harness,” said one tester after her first multi-pitch
route in Boulder Canyon, Colorado, wearing
the women’s-specific Solaris. The super-wide
waistbelt and leg loops have the largest contact
zones of any tested. This not only disperses pressure, but it helps the individual straps keep their
shape and stay in place. Leg loops don’t ride up
uncomfortably into your nether regions, and the
waistbelt won’t fold over onto itself and cut into
you. Two separate straps at the waist help you
fine-tune fit: Loosen the bottom strap for wider
hips; tighten the top for a narrower waist. This
customizable contour is unique—and brilliant—
for women’s harnesses. Plus, the separate straps
connect in a loop; one quick pull and the harness
is snug in a micro-second. Testers loved the front
gear loops that pushed gear aggressively forward,
and the 3D-Vent technology that combined five
straps with mesh, keeping testers cool even in
75° and full sun at Wild Iris, Wyoming. Nitpick: It
was bulky to pack. (Men’s version is the Orion.)

In the weight-obsessed discipline of sport climbing, this no-frills harness gets the job done at a
light 10.5 ounces (men’s medium). Designers cut
weight by including buckle-free leg loops and a
sleek design, keeping material to a minimum. The
leg loops and waistbelt are narrow in the front
and wider in the back, offering a larger contact
zone where you need it. Testers appreciated the
simplicity of the rig, too. “Slip it on, pull the waist
strap, and you’re good to go.” This harness forgoes
traditional webbing for the internal structure and
instead uses Vectran fibers. This adds stability to
the shape of the waistbelt and leg loops; it was
comfortable even when one tester hung for 15
minutes to analyze moves. Packability was topnotch, with the Ozone scrunching down to slightly
smaller than a 32-ounce Nalgene bottle. Testers
were able to use it for trad climbing, but preferred
to rack on a gear sling instead of the gear loops.
More than a few pounds on the harness caused
discomfort and made it feel like the waistbelt was
sliding down. (Women’s version is the Aura.)


Attention ladies: This is the be-all, end-all harness
for women. Whether you’re a sport climber taking
huge falls, a traddie carrying pounds of gear, or
a big waller hanging for hours, you won’t find a
more comfortable, durable, or versatile setup.

The simplicity and straightforward design of
this sport climbing rig make it ideal for weightconscious climbers, without sacrificing comfort
or performance for big falls, hangdogging, or
standing belays.

Bottom Line
These five outdoor
stores are knowledgeable about gear, generous with beta, and
welcoming to their local
climbing communities.
40 | AUGUST 2 014

Wilson’s Eastside Sports
Bishop, California
In business for 37 years and
just a stone’s throw from
Bishop bouldering, Owens
River Gorge sport climbing,
and the tons of trad routes
on the Eastside, Wilson’s is a
destination all its own. Stop

Ladies’ Best in Show
by to rent a crashpad, fill
up on chalk, or get a local’s
recommendation for the
best V5 or free camping in
the area.
Pagan Mountaineering
Moab, Utah
This shop encompasses the

Svelte Sport

unique soul it takes to live in
a place as beautifully desolate as Moab. They’re also a
U.S. distributor of Mueller
Euro tape, which pro climber
Steph Davis says is the stickiest, longest-lasting, and an
absolute must for nearby
Indian Creek.

Neptune Mountaineering
Boulder, Colorado
Our hometown gear haven
has an unmatched climbing
museum with everything
from old equipment used
during well-known ascents
to short-lived missteps in
the evolution of gear. Plus,


In October 2006, legendary climber Todd Skinner and partner, Jim Hewett, were rappelling down Leaning Tower
in Yosemite. Hewett was above Skinner when he heard a snap, looked down, and saw his friend falling. Skinner fell several hundred feet and was killed on impact,
his locked carabiner and belay device still hanging from the rope. It was clear that his belay loop had failed. What wasn’t clear, was why. A few days prior, Hewett
had noticed that Skinner’s belay and leg loops were frayed; Skinner said he had a new harness on the way. Investigation of the belay loop remnants by the
National Park Service eliminated chemical contamination and animal tampering as the cause of failure. However, a sling was found girth-hitched to the belay
loop. Hewett said it had been in place for a while. This would have prevented the belay loop from rotating, and created a concentrated wear point. Plus, a broken
keeper strap on the leg loops would have led to them sawing against the belay loop in the exact same spot over time. Moral of the story: Don’t leave any soft goods
girth-hitched to the belay loop or tie-in points of your harness. Whenever you take off your harness, remove all the soft goods as well. Do regular inspections of
your equipment, looking for any signs of wear. If any part of your gear is questionable, replace it. —Caroline Meleedy

Wild Country Blaze

Edelrid Jay

Beal Rebel




Wide straps and monster gear loops make this a
trad climber’s dream, according to our Southeast
testers who used it for six months on the granite
and quartzite of Looking Glass Rock and Linville
Gorge, both in North Carolina. “It’s sturdy, comfortable, and racks a lot of gear,” one smitten user
said. The Blaze felt stiff on the first couple wears,
but after that, it softened up and “molded to my
specific body shape like a high-quality insole.”
Two testers gave it a 9 out of 10 for comfort.
Gear loops kept a full double rack within reach;
testers didn’t have to twist awkwardly to retrieve
pieces from the rear gear loops, and the front
loops pushed gear conveniently forward. This rig
also shined in the durability department; multiple
offwidths, chimneys, and butt scums proved this
harness and its new DWC500 outer fabric will
stand up to any abrasive abuse you can throw
at it. And all those features don’t add too much
weight; the medium comes in at only 14 ounces.
Consider sizing down, as testers found their usual
sizes slightly large. (Women’s version is the Aurora.)

Whether you’re a 5.13 sport climber or first-time
trad leader, the Jay will fit your needs—and budget. This all-around harness scored above-average
marks for comfort (7.5 out of 10) and durability
(8 out of 10) during single- and multi-pitch days
across Colorado’s Front Range. Mesh padding
keeps the waistbelt and leg loops cushioned but
breathable; testers didn’t sweat out even in sweltering gyms. A large, automatically doubled-back
waistbelt buckle with a wide webbing strap makes
the midsection fast to cinch and loosen. “This is
my go-to harness for every type of adventure,”
one tester said. “It performs solidly in every arena
and holds a rack of quickdraws or cams and nuts
equally well.” A plastic cap on the lower tie-in
point prevents abrasion on a high-wear area, and
made it easier to glide the rope through, especially
when testers had to re-tie a figure eight with the
harness weighted while cleaning routes. Adjustable
leg loops means you can don the Jay for ice climbing, too, when multiple layers up your stem size
significantly. (Women’s version is the Jayne.)

“This harness looked too svelte to offer any real
comfort on hanging belays and big falls, but when
I weighted it for the first time, I forgot I even had
it on,” one tester said, after a weekend of projecting Wind and Rattlesnakes (5.12a) in Wild Iris, Wyoming. “That’s the sign of an easy-to-wear harness.”
Beal is using what they call Web Core technology,
which bar-tacks two smaller pieces of webbing
(the straps you pull to adjust) on either side of a
wider, mesh-lined, laser-cut piece of webbing (the
part that wraps around your torso). This simple
process keeps the manufacturing costs cheap,
the price tag low, and the weight and bulk of the
harness to a minimum. Testers found the Rebel
had enough comfort for hangdogging on sport
projects and wearing all day on long trad climbs.
The four large, articulated gear loops racked pro
neatly and kept it organized, so finding the right
piece wasn’t a struggle, and the two buckles in
the front allowed testers to fine-tune fit—no
more climbing with the belay loop off to the side
because the harness doesn’t fit just right.

All-day gear-pluggers will love the pure comfort
and large racking capacity of the Blaze, and widecrack connoisseurs will be hard-pressed to find a
more durable setup.

Comfort and versatility in a budget-conscious
package is how testers summed up the Jay.
Despite the low price, performance was stellar
on short and long days throughout a variety of

It combines the sleekness of a slimmed-down
sport harness with the adjustability and versatility of an all-around rig, so you can wear the Rebel
in all seasons for any type of climbing.

Burly, Comfy Trad
visitors will more than likely
purchase gear from someone
whose name shows up a
few times in several local
Rock and Snow
New Paltz, New York
Founded by Gunks’ first

ascensionist Dick Williams and
currently owned by respected
route developer Rich Gottlieb, Rock and Snow opened
in 1970 (the same year Climbing started!), and every staffer
is a climber—who probably
pulls down harder than you.
Kick-ass slideshows are part

Budget All-Arounder
of the daily routine here, with
past presenters including Lynn
Hill, Chris Sharma, and Jim
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Named 2009 Retailer of the
Year by our sister magazine

Sleek Versatility
Backpacker, Rock/Creek not
only prides itself on providing quality gear for a variety
of outdoor sports, but they
also sponsor the popular
Triple Crown Bouldering
Series and work with groups
like the Southeastern
Climbers Coalition.

Got a favorite
gear shop?
Nominate yours
at letters@


| 41




Field Notes

The latest and greatest from our diligent testers

Keep the girls happy

making these experiences...


The big shoulders, muscular backs,
and smaller waists of lady climbers
can make bra shopping absolutely
miserable for the female crushers
among us. The Perfect Core answered
the call with a racerback design that
lets you adjust each strap individually.
“Big climbing shoulders fit easily in
this bra, which is the ultimate sell for
me,” said one tester, who wore it for
almost a month straight. “Plus, it still
offers support for busty gals.” Testers
found the fabric thicker and more durable than other sports bras, but the
Powermax material plus mesh allowed
it to breathe in high-sweat zones (like
the middle of the back) and wick well
everywhere else. Possibly the best
part: “I can go from crag clothes to
street duds for dinner without having
the dreaded uniboob.”

Prevent and treat


the unclip stick

We gave this self-massaging
tool to three multi-discipline
climbers who were each in
various stages of elbow and
joint health: one injuryfree boulderer who trains
hard three to four times a
week, one climber who has
experienced forearm tendon
strain for a few months, and
another who has had elbow
tendonitis off and on for 10
years. All three testers were
blown away by the relief
they found from using the

Armaid for only a few weeks, from
relieving long-standing pain to general
maintenance after training to increasing forearm blood flow in the middle
of a session. One tester used it at a
national climbing competition, rolling
for a few minutes between problems,
and credited it with de-pumping her
arms enough to keep climbing hard.
The perpetually injured climber found
that three months of regular, proper
use completely eliminated his nagging
pain. “It massages the muscle and
keeps that hard little ball of tension
from forming again,” he said.
Each device includes several instructional videos (also available online) that
are very important to understanding
how to use it properly for prevention,
treatment, and maintenance. It comes
with three attachments that have varying degrees of density; the softer (black
and gray) ones are excellent for maintenance and general massage to increase
circulation and decrease pump, while
the three-ball white attachment is
dense and digs deep throughout the
whole forearm. The favorite for all
three testers, however, was the orange
ball attachment (sold separately) that
isolated trigger points and released the
pressure on strained tendonattachment points. This accessory has the
most intense pressure to successfully
knead climbers’ muscly forearms. Plus,
the Armaid is lightweight, durable,
and easy to carry on the road, so if
you have any wrist, elbow, forearm, or
hand pain, this nifty gadget will relax
tightened muscles, relieve joint strain,
and keep you climbing hard.
$70 (device), $20 (orange roller);

“Just in case” is the mantra for
high-elevation pursuits. The
Helium Hybrid wind jacket is
perfectly suited for just-incase scenarios. The nylon body

and sleeves are wind and water
resistant, while the hood and
shoulders have waterproof
Pertex Shield fabric to protect
your most exposed assets. “It
kept me dry during 15 minutes
of full-on downpour,” one

tester said. It’s comfortable to
wear under a pack or a harness, and it weighs a scant 5.7
ounces (men’s large). A bendable wire brim kept sideways
rain out of testers’ faces, and
a cinch cord on the hood
enabled a custom fit. Stuff it
into its pocket—the size of
a large orange—and clip it to


your harness. $125;

Sunburn can end a day just as
well as a surprise storm. This
all-natural sunscreen from
New Zealand’s Snowberry has
no harmful chemicals, and it
uses zinc oxide and plant extracts to block UVA and UVB
rays. What really made it stand
out was how it felt: “It goes
on soft, absorbs quickly, and
doesn’t leave that greased-up
feeling that makes crimping granite a challenge,” one
tester said. The oils and shea
butter help treat dry skin. $41;









5 absolute necessities for alpine climbing

The sun is more intense up
high, and that’s compounded
by snowfields. Shades are
essential for protecting your
most valuable sense. With the
ChromaPop, our testers found
that they got the protection
of a high-end polarized lens
without dulling colors and
rock features. “It’s like putting
a high-definition filter on my
eyes,” one user said. The Frontman frame has a sporty wraparound look (which also reduces the amount of bad rays
that get in) with just enough
flair to keep you from looking
teched out. Scratch-resistant
lenses provided a clear view
even after rough-and-tumble
abuse in the talus fields of
Rocky Mountain National
Park. $209–$239 (lenses vary);

Just because the high country
is dry enough to climb doesn’t
mean trails and approaches
are free of packed snow and
ice. For low-angle jaunts,
you won’t need technical
mountaineering crampons, but
approach shoes will leave you
slipping and sliding. Enter the
Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra.
It’s halfway between a technical ’pon and those mini-spikes
soccer moms use to walk the
dog in winter. The 18 stainless
steel points gave testers just
the right amount of purchase

on hard snow and ice. They’re
light at 14.8 ounces (per pair),
so you can always carry them
when trails are questionable.
Plus, they slip easily over any
approach shoe, trail runner, or
sneaker, so no need for big,
heavy mountain boots. $70;

Think like a Boy Scout and
“always be prepared” with
this nifty first aid kit. It
includes anti-septic wipes,
ointment, and bandages for
cuts and scrapes; medication
for pain and inflammation;
and blister treatment. It’s
small (5.3” x 5”), packable,
lightweight (2.3 oz.), and waterproof to keep everything
useable after a downpour.
Although this doesn’t replace actual first aid training
or knowledge, it’s perfect to
throw in a pack or a crashpad without taking up much
space or adding weight. It’s
a good foundation to build
a larger kit from, if you need
it. And the price is real nice.

Long approaches, inclement
weather, and quickly changing
conditions can keep you out
longer than expected, so you
should always bring a light.
With an airy weight and a
compact, rugged construction,
the newly updated Tikka line
remains a climber and alpinist
favorite. We liked the XP model because of its three beam
options: wide and dispersed,
long and focused, or a combination of both. The highest
setting is a bright 160 lumens,
and it features Constant Lighting technology, which keeps
it burning at the same rate for
the battery’s duration. Most
headlamps have unregulated
life, meaning the light dims as
the battery drains. When the
batteries are low in the Tikka
XP, it automatically goes into
reserve mode, giving you just
enough light to finish the task
at hand. The strap is ergonomically shaped so it’s comfortable, and it’s removable and
washable. $55;


| 43


“The world’s smallest multi-fuel stove: it can
burn gas as well as all kinds of liquid fuels from
gasoline to diesel. What an ingenious invention!”
-OutDoor Industry Award, 2011



By Julie Ellison

point, and, keeping them in order, he
should move the bundle so it’s touching his tether. At this point, you should
take the other side of the coils and flip
them over onto his tether, so longer
strands are on bottom.

fig. 1



Managing the rope at belays and
rappels on multi-pitch routes can
be a smooth operation that leads to
quick transitions and more climbing. Or it can be a headache-inducing rats’ nest of chaos that means
wrestling with yourself every time
you try to feed out slack. Instead of
spending your summer alpine season untangling a rope, learn a few
simple methods that will help you
spend more time sending. Try out
these tricks on shorter routes so that
when you’re faced with 15 pitches
or 10 long rappels, you’ll have these
techniques dialed in and ready to
put to use.

The “alpine torpedo” is a great trick
for not getting the rope blown of
course by strong winds when you
toss it; it’s best when rapping from a
ledge. Stack the rope from the anchor
by starting in the middle and working out toward the ends of the rope,
making two tight, neat stacks. Take
the last three feet of rope from both
ends and ball it all up together into
your hands. Make sure the rope stacks
have a clear path to get down, and
throw this ball of rope straight down
as hard as you can. This should cause
the rest of the rope to pull out of the
stack, hanging untangled and straight
down from the anchor.

In high winds.

With people below you.



With a ledge.

Making sure the rope coils or stacks
nicely as you belay the follower is the
key to fast changeovers. If the stance
is on a ledge, stack the rope just as
you would on the ground, but be
careful of loose rocks an errant coil
could knock down. Keep in mind who
is leading the next pitch, too. If your
follower is taking the lead, his end of
the rope will already be on top, so you
don’t need to do anything. If you’re
going on the sharp end again, you’ll
need to get your end on top before
you take of. The classic “pancake flip”
works well: Grab the whole stack of
rope, one hand on bottom and one on
top. Flip it just like you would a pancake, so the correct end is on top and
it won’t turn into a tangled ball.

Without a ledge.
No ledge (a “hanging belay”) means
you’ll have to coil the rope over

whatever you’re tied into the anchor
with. Lean out slightly from the wall
so that your tether is taught. The key
here is to make the loops gradually
longer or shorter (this is contingent
on who is leading the next pitch),
instead of making them all the same.
Loops of the same length will tangle
faster than you can say “of belay.”

If your partner is leading the
next pitch…
Make the first loops the longest, so
the shorter coils will be on top. Make
the longer coils as long as you’d like,
but not so lengthy that they’re getting
caught on rocks or features below.
Each subsequent coil should be
shorter by a few inches, so the long
coils on the bottom won’t get twisted

up with the shorter strands. With the
short coils on top, the rope will feed
smoothly when you switch from pulling in slack to paying out rope as your
partner goes on lead.

If you’re leading the next pitch…
You’ll want the belayer to have the
same setup listed above: long coils on
bottom, short coils on top. That means
you’ll coil the rope properly for your
partner as you belay him, and you’ll
need to do it in reverse, so start with
short coils that hang at least a foot
down on each side. Each coil after that
should be several inches longer. Once
he reaches the belay and clips into the
anchor, work together to flip the coils
onto his tether. Have him pick up the
bundle of rope straight of your tie-in

Whether you’re rapping a popular
descent line or the route you just
climbed, tossing the rope becomes
an issue when there are people below
you. Rappelling with “saddlebags” is
an excellent option to keep handy for
situations when you might not want
to blindly toss the rope, including
broken or flaky terrain where the
rope can easily get jammed on the
toss (fig. 1). You’ll need to extend your
rappel ( so the rope feeds
smoothly. Make the rope coils about
four feet long (two separate coils if it’s
a double-rope rappel, one coil/saddlebag for each side), clip a biner to a
gear loop on your harness, and then
clip a sling or some cord to the biner.
Wrap the sling around the middle of
the rope coils and clip the other end
of the sling onto the biner on your
harness. As you rappel down, the
rope should feed smoothly from your
saddlebag. Since it might be difcult
to tell how much rope you have left,
you should knot each rope end, too.


| 45



By Andy Kirkpatrick

When I look back on my 30-year tenure as a climber, I realize that I’ve spent as much (or more) time descending than ascending. After
all, knowing when to turn around is what keeps us climbers alive and climbing. All that “downtime” easily adds up to several thousand
hours of dodgy anchors, scary raps, and uncertain ends. That stuf would make any grown man nervous, but by far the scariest experiences of all were the few times I’ve gotten the rappel rope hopelessly stuck. This scenario can cause even the hardest of climbers to
break out in a cold sweat. When your rope is stuck, you ain’t going nowhere. Here are my hard-won tips for getting your rope unstuck
and—even better—preventing it from happening in the first place.

Preventing it

If you don’t know what this is, then
don’t do another rappel until you read
up. You should make carrying out a
pull-test as second nature as using
a rappel backup (you do use one, I
hope; learn how at
skill/rappel-to-ascend). To do this,
the leader (the first person down the
rope) simply pulls the “pull rope” for
a few feet to check that it will run
smoothly when it’s being pulled from
the lower position. When the climber
at the top anchor sees the rope
move, he should hang tight because
the rope is being tested. If the rope
doesn’t move smoothly and freely
when pulled from down low, then the
climber at the top can do something
to fix it.


The two main reasons for a rope
refusing to budge are either too
much friction over the length of the
rappel, or a knot that is blocked by an
obstacle close to the anchor. Always
include a rappel ring or carabiner in
the rap anchor, even if you have to
add one yourself. This reduces friction and wear on both the webbing
and the rope. On complex terrain, you
may be better of making single-rope
rappels (typically 30 meters). Having
no knot joining the ropes means
there’s no knot to get caught, and the
shorter rappel distance means less
overall friction.

If you must use double-rope rappels,
make some adjustments before the
first person leaves the anchor. After
you set up the rappel, pull the knot
so it’s positioned lower than the belay
ledge, which is a common place for
the knot to get stuck. Keep in mind
this will make one side of the rope
shorter, but knots in the ends of the
ropes should be there as a backup.
Pay close attention to where the rope
is running, and keep it clear of any
cracks that could swallow it up; this
might mean adjusting the anchor to
redirect the rope. On snow and ice
routes, you can also fill cracks with
snow to block the rope’s entry. The
best skill is to be aware.

Using the European Death Knot (aka
the EDK or flat overhand knot) to join
two ropes greatly reduces the chances
of a hang up, as the knot tends to roll
onto its flat side when encountering
objects. (Learn to tie it here: If you
use a double fisherman’s or a square
knot, then you’re creating a knot with
about 50 percent more surface area to
catch. Plus, they can be very difcult
to untie after being weighted. The
EDK is the only knot any climber
should use for joining ropes when
rapping, and if it gives you the willies,
I suggest you take up golf.

Always carry prusiks when doing multiple rappels,
as you never know when you might need to ascend the
rappel rope to unwedge a knot or get back to a higher
anchor. Another option for really long rappel descents
is to bring small mechanical ascenders. They can make
ascending a rope much smoother and faster than
prusiks. The benefit of prusiks is that they can be used
on two ropes at once, while a mechanical ascender can
only be used on a single line.
Some climbers say that you should speed up pulling
the rope through the anchor at the very end, as this
causes the rope to whip through the anchor and fall
away from the wall, but I’ve seen too many skinny
ropes knot themselves this way, so keep it smooth until
the rope clears the anchor. Alert your partner and
other nearby parties by yelling “Rope!”

46 | AUGUST 2 014

Andy Kirkpatrick ( is a British
climbing author with a reputation for stubbornness in the
face of reality, high-risk objectives, a keen sense of humor,
and bad teeth.



Dealing with it
Start here  You’re safely down at the next anchor and ready to pull the rope from the previous rap anchor. You engage the rope
slowly and smoothly, getting a feel for what it’s doing. Don’t give up the end until you’re sure the rope is moving well. If at any time
you begin to feel the effort to move it increase, then slow down. If you feel a tug, meaning the knot is caught on something, STOP.

Are both ends still
with you?

Pull the other end a few feet,
then reverse and pull the
first end again. The rope
should start moving. Once
you let go of the other end of
the rope, you are far more
exposed and less able to
deal with problems, so take
it easy and keep up a nice
steady pull on the rope.



Did that work?

Yes. Rad.

Did that work?

Yes. Awesome.

Can you cut the rope and
safely descend on what
you can salvage?


Yes. OK, then
do that.


It’s time to ascend the ropes!
The good thing is
that you know the
anchor is solid,
and ascending
both lines means
you don’t have to
worry about the
rope becoming unstuck while you’re
ascending. Tie into
the rope ends, use
two prusiks on both
ropes together,
and start moving
up. Tie back-up
knots occasionally
and clip them to
your harness. Be
prepared to pass
the joining knot.
Once you reach the
higher anchor and
unstick the rope,
rappel back down.

Try to flick the rope free, moving your
position if necessary. The farther away
from the wall you are, the more efective
you’ll be, so you might have to extend your
connection point to the anchor. Put some
slack in the rope and flick the rope hard
up, down, or to one side.

Did that work?



Now you need to use some force. When descending, you should have checked out the path to spot
any potential problems, such as a tree limb or a
rock spike, so that you have an idea of what could
have happened. Once you begin to pull hard,
you increase the chances of pulling down rocks,
so reduce the risk by staying away from the fall
line. To increase the force, you can simply use a
belay device to yard in the slack, or place jumars
or prusiks on the rope and use the weight of more
than one climber. One technique is to use a Grigri
to pull in the rope until it’s under maximum tension, then let all the rope explode from the device,
causing the rope to spring up and whip the rope
out of its obstruction.

Ascend the single rope. You’ve already tested its holding power, so it should take
a climber’s weight. The unlucky climber should tie into the end you’ve been pulling and be put on belay. Hopefully, he can free or aid climb, placing pro along the
way, until he reaches the obstruction. If he can’t, he should prusik up the rope,
with minimal bouncing, placing pro if possible. If the snag is high on the rappel
or at the anchor, he may run out of free rope for a belay, but he should soon reach
the other strand of rappel rope and can use that as a backup. Once he gets to the
stuck portion, he should build an anchor, fix the problem, get lowered back down
or rappel, and clean the gear he placed.


| 47



By Kel Rossiter

You might be able to onsight 5.10 at 12,000 feet, or keep a cool head while looking at a 25-foot runout, but you’re not a master of the alpine
until you’ve learned to whip up nutritious and tasty meals for bottomless appetites in a cramped, dimly lit nylon- or snow-walled kitchen, all
while battling relentless winds. Add in the fact that you’ve got to carry all your food, fuel, and kitchen gadgets on your back, and you’ve got a
recipe that would have any reality show chef weeping in his soufé. While it takes a while to work your way up from alpine line cook to highaltitude executive chef, here are the basics to put you on the fast track.

Liquid-fuel stoves are the alpine
workhorse, with greater functionality in extreme cold and at high
altitudes—canister and alcohol
stoves are generally better suited
for smaller groups or solo missions
below treeline. Plus, liquid-fuel
stoves (e.g., MSR WhisperLite) are
ideal for cooking for large groups,
melting snow, and handling many
sizes of pots and pans. They take a
variety of liquid fuels, such as white
gas, unleaded gasoline, kerosene,
and jet fuel, and you can usually find
at least one of these at your locale.
(Check manufacturer’s instructions.) Canister stoves (e.g., Jetboil)
are better suited for small teams
and simple, just-add-water cooking
scenarios, like freeze-dried food, and
they use pressurized fuel canisters,
which can be difcult to find of the
beaten path.
Alpine Advice: When your
canister is getting low in cold temps
or at higher altitudes, squeeze extra
life out of it by placing it in a pan of
water. Fill a pan with warm water
about 1 or 1.5 inches deep, and
place the canister in the water while
you’re cooking. These canisters
cool as the gas burns, and the tepid
water bath helps to keep it warm.
Periodically replace the cooled water
in the pan with warm water from
the stove. Throw the canister in the
bottom of your sleeping bag so it’s
warm and ready to go at breakfast.
For liquid stoves, build a stable
work space for your fuel, stove,
and prepping area. Removing the
handle from a shovel and using the
blade is a good option.

Climbing all day is hard enough,
so don’t complicate things with
intricate meals, and the only thing

48 | AUGUST 2 014

tougher than cooking in the alpine is
cleaning. Just-add-water meals keep
cooking and cleaning to a minimum.
Alpine Advice: Just-add-water
meals are the easiest to pack, cook,
and clean up, but pre-packaged
freeze-dried options are expensive,
hard to digest at altitude, and they
are notorious for giving climbers
gas—not the kind of challenge you
want in a tiny tent. A good solution is to throw together your own
instant meals, which will be suited

to your personal tastes and just as
easy to prep, cook, and clean. Think
about options using instant soup
mixes, dried mashed potatoes, ramen noodles, or stufng. Deck them
out nutritionally with nuts, dried
fruits, vegetables, and proteins like
tuna. Pre-package them at home in
zippered sandwich bags so that you
can just plop dinner in your bowl,
add boiling water, relax, and enjoy.
My favorite basic ingredient recipes
are potatoes and stufng (instant

potatoes, textured veggie protein,
gravy mix), the alpinisto (instant
rice, dried refried beans, taco seasoning), and high-altitude Asian (ramen
noodles, peanut butter, and soy
sauce mix).

Sometimes conditions are so bad out
that you have to cook in your vestibule or tent, but way too many climbers have done this and sealed up the




Just-Add-Water Meals
1. MSR Dromedary; 6.9 oz. (4L
Great for hauling and storing water
when melting snow.
2. 32 oz. Nalgene Jar; 6.7 oz.

Nests with fuel canister, acts as a
camp bowl, and holds leftovers.

4. Plastic spork; 0.3 oz.
Light, cheap, and multi-functional.

3. MSR Reactor with 1L pot; 14.7 oz.
(stove and pot)
Packable, light, durable, and cooks

5. Stuff sack; 1.6 oz.
Gathers and hauls snow for melting,
and you are probably already packing one.



Cook-in-Pot Meals
1. MSR Dromedary; 6.9 oz. (4L
Melt snow the night before and
store here for the next morning.


2. Plastic spork; 0.3 oz.
The only utensil you’ll need; look
for a foldable model.
3. 1-liter pot; 6 oz.
Any lightweight model.



4. Stuff sack; 1.6 oz.
Use one you’re already packing.


5. Half a Brillo Pad; 0.3 oz.
Scrub of burned-on food.


6. 1 c. measuring cup; 1 oz.
With ample handle for ladeling


7. MSR PanHandler; 1.9 oz.
If your pot doesn’t have a handle.


8. Handle-free spatula; 0.7 oz.
Pre-clean bowls or scrape of


9. MSR Dragonfly; 14 oz. (stove),
5.7 oz. (20 oz. fuel bottle)
Excellent all-around high-altitude cooker.

tent to preserve heat. Some of those
climbers never got to eat their dinner.
All stoves release carbon monoxide,
a colorless, odorless, deadly gas. First
you get sleepy, and then you never
wake up. Make sure your tent doors
and flaps are generously opened if
you must cook inside your tent, and
don’t let the hot stove get too close to
your nylons (clothes, rope, sleeping
bag, tent walls, etc.), which will melt
like a candle if exposed to a small
amount of heat. If you feel like the
stove is warming your tent, you probably need more ventilation.
Alpine Advice: Altitude lowers
boiling temperatures, which in turn,
lengthens cook times—so if you cook
your pasta the same as you do at
home, get ready for a very al dente
meal. Once you’re over 3,000 feet,
boil times will need to be increased
by at least two to three minutes; add
another minute or two for each 1,000
feet over 3,000. Water evaporates
faster, so cook with a tight-fitting lid
and add a bit more water. Combine
that with decreased stove efciency
at altitude, and this means packing

more fuel. Liquid fuel: 3 ounces per
person per day; 6 to 8 ounces per
person per day when melting snow.
Canister (only for non-melting situations): one 8-ounce canister is good
for two people for four days.

If you kept your cooking simple,
the only things you’ll need to clean
are your spork, a bowl, and maybe
a cup. Don’t use soap; clean the pan
with your spatula, and then use hot
water from post-dinner drinks to get
tough spots. For burned-on gunk, try
steel wool and some gritty soil. Toss
dishwater away from camp (really
far away if there are bears!), and
dispose of chunky stuf in a six-inchdeep cathole. When considering your
own cook kit, think about the range
of uses for each piece. Sure, a shallow plate might be nice for tortillas
and beans, but what about a bowl
of noodles? You can also streamline
clean-up by minimizing items: Use
something that can function as
both a bowl and mug to save space,

weight, and time. Also, consider
ease of cleaning and sanitation. Find
bowls and mugs with rounded edges
so gunk doesn’t collect in hard-toreach corners. For cleaning pots and
bowls, pack a standard spatula for
scraping. This minimizes the amount
of water needed.
Alpine Advice: Water is the oil
of the climbing machine, from a
morning cup of cofee to the evening’s
kitchen clean-up, but liquid water
can be scarce in the alpine, so you’ve
got to melt snow. Always save a
small part of your day’s water to
start your snow melting, otherwise
you risk scorching the pot. Put the
water in the pot, heat it at a low temperature, and slowly add more and
more snow. Because snow acts like
a sponge, make sure to add it very
slowly or you’ll end up with no water
and just a bunch of scorched snow in
your pot. Converting snow into water
is incredibly fuel intensive, so be
vigilant about keeping the lid on and
using a wind screen on liquid-fuel
stoves, which will direct heat where
it’s supposed to go.

Kel Rossiter is the owner and an
AMGA-certified alpine and rock
guide for Adventure Spirit Guides
( He’s
cooked an estimated 2,400 meals
above treeline.


| 49







I climb in the arid West, and I don’t think I’ll
ever ice climb. Is it worth the extra scratch
to get a dry-treated rope?
—Adam C., Billings, MT
Uh, yes. How many gear guides have you glossed
over and still not picked up on this essentially a priori truth? I’m going to go over this quickly to make room
for other, more pressing questions (I mean just look at poor
Lauren’s problem...).
Dry-treated ropes help prevent dirt and other muck
from attaching itself firmly to your cord, which would contribute to a more rapid deterioration of the very fibers that
suspend you above certain splattery death every time your
ill-equipped forearms eject you from the wall to which you
helplessly cling. Plus, they feed better through your belay
device and feel smoother in your hand.
The only instance in which you should be buying a nondry-treated rope is if your bank account only allows for
whatever crap-deal you find on The Clymb, you van-living
hippy. Get it? Everyone? Stop asking about this.

It’s not that I hate children, but they’re
everywhere in my gym and typically cause
problems. What should I do about this?
—Lauren A., Hartford, CT

Ask Answer Man
He knows climbing. And he knows it.


Why do so many strong climbers have hunchbacks?
—Evan R., Kansas City, MO
He can’t help it! He was “Born This Way!” Like one of Lady Gaga’s little monsters or that freaky dude from that movie with Cher. Or Cher.
The phenomenon to which you are so insensitively referring is caused by a contracted ligament down the front of the spine, according to Dr. Lisa Erikson, DC, of
LifeSport Chiropractic in Boulder, Colorado.
“It’s not enough stretching, particularly of the anterior longitudinal ligament—and
bad posture,” she says. “Muscularly speaking, the pectoralis muscles and, most common in climbers, the overly contracted latissimus dorsi—which help rotate the arm,
extend the shoulder, and bring the upper arm down to the side—create the forward
shift and rounded shoulders. Climbers are more muscle-bound as well, and these
tighter and shorter muscles accentuate the problem.”
Lucky for you, though, Dr. Erikson says the issue is entirely preventable and treatable. Seek a physical therapist or chiropractor who can assess the problem and apply
pressure with a specially designed orthotic to loosen the area. Got any other weird
climbing injuries? Get Dr. Erikson’s book Climbing Injuries Solved.


Most people don’t like to cause others stress or
pain. (Some do. My safe word is “potato.”) But
that doesn’t mean this doesn’t have the potential to get
awkward with mama bear and her cubs. Try a proxy.
If you’re half the woman Ann Coulter wishes she was,
complain to the gym manager in person. Conversely,
if subtlety is more your thing, try the suggestion box.
Scribble furiously all the ways in which children incense
you without seeming like a truculent pedophobe.
Honestly, though, it’s probably best to deal with it
yourself, or you’ll just be angry the rest of your miserable sesh. Try this: “Hey [name of inattentive mother],
your little one, [name of hell-spawn], keeps wandering
into the fall zone of this problem I’m working. I really
don’t want to hurt him/her if I fall! [Feign sorrow for
snapped kid-bones.] Would you mind making sure he/
she doesn’t dart under me when I try it? Thanks!”
If all else fails, apply your own Montessori Method
and let the kids learn the gravity of these mistakes for
themselves. However, on the advice of my overpaid attorney, I’ll leave it to you to interpret that option.

Got a burning question about climber etiquette, customs,
or values? Email

How can I score some free shoes? Steal them, of course. // What’s the term for sending a route with pre-placed pro? Well, it’s certainly not
“sending.” // Can you recommend a good method for marking my gear? Locks of human hair (doesn’t matter whose) tied in elaborate knots.


| 51

Cedar Wright, Alex Honnold, and
Sean Leary in the Palisades of California, on the 2013 Sufferfest.


More than 70 ascents of El Cap. The Nose in 2
hours, 36 minutes. A speed record on the Salathe. Three El Cap routes in less than 24 hours.
El Cap and Half Dome all free in a day. Big wall
first ascents in Patagonia, Bafn, and Antarctica. Hundreds
of wingsuit jumps from most of these formations. Any one
of these accomplishments would be a crowning lifetime
achievement for most climbers. Who is this badass?
It’s not one of the “big names” in climbing, though it should be. My
friend Sean “Stanley” Leary flew under the radar while accumulating
one of the most impressive Yosemite climbing resumes of all time.
This past spring, Sean leapt of a clif in Zion National Park like he
had done hundreds of times before. He flew in a wingsuit at more than
100 mph into a notch, then, it is presumed, entered a shadow, lost visibility, clipped a tree, and as BASE jumpers somewhat callously put it,
“He went in.”
In that viciously unfair, bullshit moment, I didn’t just lose a climbing partner and friend, I lost my climbing mentor, the one person, who
more than any other, shaped the direction of my life.

52 | AUGUST 2014

I was a full-on gumby and had only been climbing three months
when I met Stanley for the first time, at a fungus-filled, full-moon,
bonfire beach party on Moonstone Beach near Humboldt, California.
A friend introduced us as “both climbers,” and later that evening I was
pseudo-belaying Sean as he toproped up a swirling, melting face.
This was the beginning of perhaps one of the sketchiest climbing
mentorships of all time. With few motivated climbers to turn to, Sean
really had no choice but to take me under his wing. The tutelage that
followed won’t be found in Freedom of the Hills, and it would probably
give the AMGA cold sweats.
My first lesson from Stanley occurred on our first full day out. He
“guided” me up my first “lead climb,” a free solo of an 80-foot 5.9 on
Moonstone Beach. “You’ve got this dude; just relax,” he coached me, as
I fought a wicked pump and deadpointed for jugs more than 40 feet of
the ground. That day, I learned to breathe and relax in the face of danger, a highly underrated skill. By the time I started leading with a rope,
it actually seemed pretty mellow.
Stanley introduced me to each aspect of climbing in about the most
unorthodox way possible. It was often too rainy in Humboldt to climb,
unless you were willing to climb in the rain, so that we did—ALL THE
TIME. I learned that just because conditions aren’t perfect, it doesn’t
mean something is unclimbable. I’ve put this lesson to good use in places like Bafn and the Karakoram.
Sean instructed me that it was prouder (and more efcient) to skip as
many bolts as possible while sport climbing, and even better to solo the
route. As I learned to trad climb, he taught me that it was more honorable to place only stoppers. He methodically threw me onto dangerous
and difcult climbs. Slowly but surely, I took on “Stanley style,” a risky
approach to climbing defined by heart-racing thrills and near misses.
A year into my “dementorship,” we bolted a ground-up first ascent on
a local limestone crag, using only one very small hook and a hand drill,
because “rap-bolting is for pussies.” We both took 60-foot whippers in
the process. I slowly learned to trust my abilities, to recognize the diference between just being scared and being in true danger, and to be quite
comfortable on runouts and sketchy gear.
This was not your inherently safe, homogenized, “belay card” gymclimbing education. Sean introduced me to an adrenaline-filled gladiator sport where every day could be your last. Soon I was soloing 5.10 on
a daily basis because… that’s what Stanley did!
Really, the lessons were as numerous as they were dubious. I learned
that you could save good money on climbing shoes if you only used
them when you absolutely couldn’t do the route in your bare feet. The
same went for chalk. I learned that toproping was much more exciting
if the rope was pulled up in 15-foot increments. I learned that if the
climber is about to deck, the belayer must run at full speed to keep that
from happening.
Somewhat miraculously, I survived Stanley’s tutelage. All the sandbagging, soloing, and runouts had shaped me into a fast, bold climber.
Later, I would put that patented “Leary boldness” to good use, setting
my own speed records on El Cap and pioneering scary first ascents on
the Sentinel. I almost certainly wouldn’t have a professional climbing
career today if it hadn’t been for this warped dementorship.

I took on “Stanley style,” a risky approach to climbing characterized by
heart-racing thrills and near misses.



Even more important than climbing lessons, Sean educated me on
the dirtbag ethic, or as he once put it, “the bullshit-free lifestyle.” He
taught me that doing what you love was true success. He took me to
Joshua Tree and Yosemite, and instilled in me a deep respect for these
sacred places. He introduced me to countless climbing characters, and
encouraged me to follow my big wall dreams. “Just move into your
truck and climb,” he suggested, after I graduated from Humboldt State
with a bachelor’s in English. That’s what I did. Stanley convinced me
that this was an acceptable and normal course of action for someone
who loved to climb.

way to Moab, the car rolled, and she died in his arms.
I raced to see Sean in Moab. Understandably, he was a complete mess
and no fun to be around. Totally dark. I cooked him food, got him out
climbing, and tried to keep him occupied. At times, I thought he might
kill himself. He’d lower of a pitch and start sobbing. At one point he
had an outburst. “What’s the fucking point?!” he screamed, as he threw
his phone and wallet into the desert, then took of in his car. I fretted
for hours, confronting the reality that I might not see him alive again.
Slowly, Stanley clawed back to life, and soon took an obsessive interest in BASE jumping. He channeled his loss and grief into learning a
new and dangerous sport. It wasn’t long before he had jumped El Cap and Half Dome.
Sean was still an emotional mess. I didn’t
really like the idea of BASE jumping, but I
couldn’t deny that it seemed to be therapeutic for him.
“Every time I jump, I have to pull the cord and save my life,” he confided in me.
Sean had promised Roberta that, if she died before him, he would
scatter her ashes in Patagonia, where she loved to climb. Sean carried
those ashes and the pain of her death with him for two years, unwilling
and unable to let go.
Finally, he made it to Patagonia with Renan Ozturk and myself. Despite crap weather and endless winds, we managed to put up a first ascent, and Stanley became the first person to wingsuit of El Mocho. He
packed Roberta’s ashes in the chute. When it opened, Roberta returned
to the mountains she loved.
In Patagonia, Sean finally let go of his pain. He began to laugh and
then even love again. I was so happy to see him marry a sexy and whipsmart medical student named Mieka. Stanley married a doctor, and I
married a lawyer.
“Dirtbags like us need sugar mamas,” I joked with him.
Right before he died, Sean was enjoying a personal renaissance. He
was starting to get some of the recognition and support he deserved,
including trips to Bafn and Antarctica with Leo Houlding, and some
well-earned sponsorships. He was pioneering numerous legal BASE
exits in North America and working on a cutting-edge free climb on
Mount Watkins with Jimmy Hayden. He was also going to be a father.
I’ve lost some of my best friends to climbing, and if I’m honest, I’m
still confused and conflicted by that. We were supposed to be old farts
talking shit and trading war stories some day. Sean’s death made me
furious. Fuck BASE jumping, I thought.
But as reality set in, I had to accept the fact that if Stanley had played
it safe, he wouldn’t have been the guy I loved and respected. Stanley
lives on in the countless climbing and life lessons I learned from him,
and I continue on the trajectory that Stanley created for me.
Before he died, Sean helped Steph Davis with her healing process
after she lost her husband, Mario, to BASE jumping. “Right now your
grief is this giant gaping hole with sharp edges, but as you move forward in life, the edges soften and other beautiful things start to grow
around it, flowers and trees of experiences. The hole never goes away,
but it becomes gentler and sort of a garden in your soul, a place you can
visit when you want to be near your love.”
I miss you and love you, Stanley. Here’s to raising hell in the garden. //

At some point along the path, I was no longer the
pupil. I had become Sean’s equal in sketchiness, and
when we teamed up, it was a guaranteed epic.
At some point along the path, I was no longer the pupil. I had become Sean’s equal in sketchiness, and when we teamed up, it was a
guaranteed epic. Ironically, one of the standout examples of our unique
partnership took place on one of the easiest routes in Yosemite. Sean
and I had spent the day wallowing in a lethargic Yosemite summer stupor, all too common when you live there. A controlled burn had injected
the “ditch” with a dark, caustic, and apocalyptic haze.
But Stanley had an idea. A cloud of mosquitoes buzzed hungrily
around our heads as we jogged toward Nutcracker, a five-pitch 5.8
and one of the most popular climbs in the Valley. “I can’t believe a bear
broke into my car,” I lamented, as I swatted a mosquito.
“You did have an empty can of herrings in your car,” Sean pointed out.
“Details, details,” I retorted.
“Alright, on three-two-one.” Stanley clicked his stopwatch, and we
relinquished to the spastic maniacs within. We darted up through the
swirling smoke with blistering speed. The 5.8 layback on the first pitch
went by in 30 seconds. Stanley’s feet skated and scratched as he halfclimbed, half-dynoed up the route. This was a ridiculous, alarming, and
lung-blasting pace, but I wasn’t going to let him dust me. I hufed guttural gasps and felt like I might vomit at any moment, but I stayed on
his heels. If Sean fell, I would almost certainly be ripped of the face.
This only egged Sean on to go faster. Sweat and sunscreen stung my
eyes as I launched onto a mantel. We were climbing pitches faster than
most people set an anchor. This was stupidly dangerous and absurd!
But you know what? It was fucking awesome.
Sean turned Nutcracker into a race course. I was hyperventilating
and dizzy to the point of passing out and teetering backward of the
clif. Less than six minutes later, we lay at the top of the route, coughing
and gasping the thick smoky air. For a fleeting moment, we were heroes
(or at least felt like heroes). For several weeks after that, I had a chronic
cough. The lessons with Sean continued, and that day drove home the
fact that a shitty day can easily be transformed into an awesome one in
a matter of minutes. It’s your call.
A couple weeks later, we accomplished the first free ascent of the Porcelain Wall, onsight in a day, at 5.10d X. What stands out in my mind
is that Stanley padded his way up a 140-foot 5.10 friction slab with no
protection for the entire stretch!
“That would be a classic pitch if we had bolts,” he joked. Sean was one
of the boldest climbers I have ever climbed with, right up there with
Honnold and Potter.
Eventually I got the chance to repay Sean for the life of adventure he
had gifted me, but not in a way I would ever have wished. That winter,
Sean lost the love of his life, Brazilian climber Roberta Nunes. On their

Cedar Wright is a professional climber and contributing editor for
Climbing. Beware of him honing his Stanley style at a crag near you.


| 53




Joy Of

I was lucky enough to see the premiere of Chris Alstrin’s 2008 film Luxury Liner: The First Ascent of Supercrack at Neptune Mountaineering, where three of the four members of the first ascent party were present: Ed
Webster, Stewart Green, and Bryan Becker. Only missing was the late Earl Wiggins, who led (on all passive
gear, mind you) the visionary climb that opened Indian Creek as a world-class destination.
54 |

AUGUST 20 14

After the film, when Webster, Green, Becker, and filmmaker Alstrin
took questions, Becker mentioned that he hardly ever led anything at
Indian Creek anymore. I remember him saying something like, “I just
walk around asking, ‘Can I get a toprope?’” to much laughter from the
Bryan Becker is no slouch—although he didn’t lead the first ascent
of Supercrack (5.10), he put up tons of ballsy routes in his career: the
FA of The Hallucinogen Wall (5.10 A3+ R) in the Black Canyon of the
Gunnison, the FA of the Denali Diamond (M7) on North America’s
highest peak, and the first solo of The Dragon (VI 5.9 A4) in the Black
Canyon, to name a few. Basically he’s done more hard, scary climbing
than most of us will ever have nightmares of. But nowadays, he likes
a good toprope at the Creek and was more than happy to announce it
to a room full of climbers. Which I thought was great, because I have
a bit of a complex about toproping.

He’s done more hard, scary climbing
than most of us will ever have nightmares of. But nowadays, he likes a
good toprope at the Creek.
I sometimes tell myself that if I didn’t lead a pitch, I didn’t really
climb it. Where this idea comes from, I’m not sure. I rarely toprope
sport climbs, preferring to pull the rope and at least lead the route
with hung draws (which is still psychologically easier than hanging the
draws myself, I think). I have returned to multi-pitch routes that I’ve
previously done, in order to lead pitches two and four, which I followed
the first time around. Because in the back of my mind is a little voice
saying, “Come on. Do you really think you could have led that pitch?”
And I give in to that voice.
Should you feel guilty about toproping, about working the moves
of a route until you have it dialed and are confident to lead it—or just
pushing yourself on a climb a couple grades above your current leading limit? Of course not. Perhaps some of us feel bad about toproping
because some of us know we toprope badly.
I will be the first to admit that I climb sloppily when I have a toprope
guaranteeing my safety from above. Do you? I will try that desperate
heel hook, or huck out of control for a hold above what would be a
nasty ledge fall on lead, or just flat-out make dumb moves that would
have bad consequences were I on the sharp end. Why not? It takes the
edge of, right? Might as well try some shit. Usually I will announce in
the first 20 feet of a climb, to myself or my belayer: “Man, toproping
is awesome.”
Then I give in to all my bad habits. Perhaps this technique should
be called “sloproping.” Hell, we have redpointing, pinkpointing,
brownpointing, why not sloproping? Let me send an email to the folks
If you take it seriously, it’s toproping. If you don’t, it’s sloproping. If
you feel guilty while you’re doing it, you’re probably sloproping, and
you might ask yourself: Is this really doing me any good? Of course,
you also might not ask yourself that, and then try an all-points-of
dyno to that jug way up there. //

Brendan Leonard is a contributing editor for Climbing.


FALL 2014




America’s best bouldering is above 9,000 feet, and
conditions are perfect—now! Here’s what you need to
know to hit the country’s finest alpine areas.
By Alex Biale
A climber enjoys the beauty and serenity
that alpine bouldering offers on a V3 at
Area D of Mt. Evans, Colorado.

Spring finds us anxiously emerging from the gym to
(fingers crossed) send projects we didn’t manage to
finish up before fall turned into winter. We explore all
elevations and different regions of the country, chasing those perfect, friction-increasing dry and crisp
conditions that make the rock feel like Velcro. Come
summer, though, there is no chase. We know exactly
where to go: It’s alpine season.
For some boulderers, the entire year is spent in
preparation for summer alpine bouldering season.
There is definitely something special and unique
about bouldering in the high country: The flowers
are brighter, the air is cleaner, the friction is stickier,
the stone is (more ofen than not) high quality, and
the scenery is always grander. Ofentimes you might
find yourself spending more time taking photos in the
meadows, on the trail, and in the talus than actually
climbing. Oh well. There is enough sending to fuel a
passion for climbing the rest of the year—and enough
flailing to have plenty of projects to come back to.
Alpine bouldering is solidifying itself as a real
genre in the wider world of climbing. Try it, and you’ll
be hooked. Because each alpine bouldering area is a
new world, it can be a lifelong pursuit. Whether it is
the local community, the scenery, the type of rock,
the style of climbing, or the weather patterns, each
area stands alone. This sets the stage for adventure
and experiencing something new every time you
58 | AUGUST 2 014

Top: Many of the approaches and surrounding talus fields hold year-round snow, making the alreadygrueling hike to Upper Chaos Canyon in Rocky Mountain National Park a good bit longer and more
difcult. Bottom: Alton Richardson works out the beta on the crimps of Clear Blue Skies (V12), Mt.
Evans, Colorado.

visit. Most alpine bouldering areas in the U.S. are
relatively new, and every year new problems go up
across the country. There is so much potential up
there and so few people willing to hike that you can
easily get a shot at a first ascent!
Whether you’re a weekend warrior, living in your
van, or simply someone who enjoys being outside,
alpine bouldering has something for everyone. Add
these spots to your summer tick list, and it’s guaranteed that you’ll have some of the most memorable climbing experiences of the year.



Lush greenery surrounded by beautiful stone is common
in the wonderfully untouched areas of the high country.
Ben Vernon on a fun V4 in Area D of Mt. Evans, Colorado.

Experience the most popular alpine bouldering area in the country

THE SCENE Quality gneiss colored with splotches of green, yellow, black, and gray, a

seemingly unlimited amount of development potential, breathtaking vistas of some
of Rocky’s most scenic peaks, hundreds of four-star boulder problems (of all grades),
and a rich history all make this place one of the most visited summer climbing areas
in North America. Can’t-miss zones: the Bear Lake Road circuit, Emerald Lake, Moraine Park, and Lower and Upper Chaos Canyon.
THE APPROACH To get to Emerald Lake and the Hallett Boulder, park at the Bear Lake

parking lot (10 miles from the park entrance on CO 36). Take the Emerald Lake Trail
(a paved path for most of the way), passing views of Glacier Gorge and Longs Peak.
The 1.5-mile hike gains 605 feet, and the bouldering area sits at 10,080 feet. Targeting Chaos Canyon? Park at the same lot and take the Emerald Lake Trail until you
reach a junction with the Lake Haiyaha Trail. Turn lef and hike uphill through several
switchbacks and river crossings. Eventually the trail will spit you out at the mouth of
Chaos Canyon. Trend right for Lower Chaos; trend lef for Upper.

Rumored to be the best V5 in Colorado, this classic moves out a gentle overhang on
absolutely perfect rock. The wall itself might even seem like it’s changing colors as the sun
moves across the open sky. An absolute must-do for all capable.

This beauty takes home the “most coveted V10 in Colorado” award. Everything about this problem is ideal. It’s tall, steep, proud, aesthetic, hard as balls, and just plain fun. Not to mention you
get the most spectacular view in all of RMNP from on top of this boulder. Whispers of Wisdom
is the only line on the face and has a 25-foot slab for the finish to guard it from the faint of heart.

A butt-draggin’ low-baller with two cruxes. To avoid rolling into a tree, a tight spot is essential on
the second crux.


Good holds and nice

A four-star problem said
to be sof for the grade.

It’s only a few moves, but
it ain’t no gimme.



Nadia Pinna stretches out on the colorful gneiss
at the relatively easy-to-access Emerald Lake in
Rocky Mountain National Park.


| 61

Daniel Woods tries hard and nabs the
first ascent of Never Cry Wolf (V13) at
the Devil’s Kitchen near Lander.


Venture into the frontier of alpine bouldering

and the Laramie Mountain Range, host some of
the country’s most underdeveloped and promising
bouldering. Lander is home to roadside sandstone,
alpine granite, and plenty of wilderness dolomite,
and Laramie is just as diverse, with more rock than
you could ever imagine. Local Davin Bagdonas says,
“Developing new problems and areas is the driving
force behind the climbing community here.” If you
have any interest in finding new rock, having areas
to yourself, or first ascents, this is your spot.

Sometimes V9 can feel way harder
than V10.

A true finger-strength testpiece.

THE APPROACH For Lander: Bouldering in the Wind

River Range, by David Lloyd and Ben Sears. For
62 |


Established in 2012, this problem
(temporarily) holds the title of being the
hardest problem in Wyoming.


THE SCENE The Wind Rivers, near Lander, Wyoming,


Visit the best-kept climber secret in the Sierra Nevada

THE SCENE Burst Rock, which sits at

about 8,000 feet above sea level and
an hour outside the town of Twain
Harte in the Eastern Sierra, is on par
with the world-class Colorado spots—
with none of the people. Littered with
towering granite blocks, this talus field
has unimaginable potential with very
few takers, despite locals encouraging development. The boulders are tall,
and the landings are rocky and uneven.
Bring your pads and some friends.
THE APPROACH You’ll need two things:

Ryan Moon warms up on a
V1 in the lower talus field .

a vehicle with off-road capabilities and
an afnity for hiking. Head east out of
Twain Harte on CA 108 and afer about
30 minutes, you’ll hit the small town
of Cold Springs and then Crab Tree
Road. Turn right and drive for about 15
minutes (it will go from paved to dirt).
Continue on this road until you arrive
at the Gianelli Trailhead. Park here, hike
for one mile until you hit a small wooden sign, and then hang a lef to follow
a climber’s trail. When you arrive at the
rim of the talus field, pick your poison
and make your way down.

The most obvious line in the
whole canyon. You can see
the lightning bolt feature
that defines this highball
boulder from the top of the
canyon before you make the
descent. Brute force won’t
get you to the top of this
gem; you have to whisper.

An amazing highball that
ascends little edges up a
perfect overhang. Bring the
spotters and the pads!

Climb a perfect overhanging
face on crimps and edges.

Max Zolotukhin put this
problem up in 2011 afer it
thwarted many attempts.

(1 of 2)


What every boulderer needs to know about life up high
Quickly moving storms, lightning
strikes, and exposed positions mean
weather is more than just a threat
to your climbing session—it’s a

threat to your life. Check NOAA and
other sites to cross-reference hourly
weather graphs and see when and
where the storms will be hitting.
Always pack layers and rain gear.

Everything is harder at altitude:
hiking, breathing, climbing, etc.
Drink plenty of fluids throughout
your day. Pay attention to your body,

and don’t push yourself too hard.
Descend immediately if you have a
headache, appetite loss, dizziness,
or nausea, which are common
symptoms of altitude sickness.


| 63

Jon Glassberg on the first ascent of
Lightstorm (V8) at Mt. Evans.

64 | AUGUST 2 014


Ode to the Alpine
This will be my fourth season of projecting the same boulder problem. I have invested
upward of 50 days to climb this single piece of rock, and the frustration is brain-twisting
at times. But when I am consumed by anger and self-doubt and on the verge of a total
meltdown, I take a few steps back to see the bigger scene surrounding this little rock—the
13,000-foot peaks reflected in clear alpine lakes. It slaps some sense into me and slows
my racing mind. And when I walk back up that trail this year to my favorite place on
Earth, it will be more beautiful than I remembered—because it always is. I finished my
first long-term project above treeline years ago, but one project led right into the next as
my love of the alpine continued to grow. I can’t stay away.
I have vivid memories of one of my first bouldering outings to Rocky Mountain National Park. I was a 19-yearold, doe-eyed tagalong in a group of three guys who were
Park regulars. The day went something like this: drive
45 minutes to Estes Park, wait just as long for a storm to
pass, hike for more than an hour to reach a single boulder,
unpack just in time to watch a storm roll over the ridge,
run two miles back down to the car. Standing in the parking lot with rubbery legs, burning lungs, and an altitudeinduced headache, I hardly knew which way was up, but
I was sure of one thing—Colorado boulderers are crazy.
But just as the burn of bourbon fades with each sip, my
alpine bouldering jaunts got smoother. Soon enough, I began to acclimate to the altitude and the attitude of alpine
bouldering, and realized that a day like that was par for the
course. I joined the ranks of crazies and came to embrace
that climbing in the mountains requires patience.
In the early season, you must wait for the boulders
to crawl out of their snowy hibernation. And once the
preciously short summer rolls around, climbing is at the
mercy of the weather. When it cooperates, the days are
long, with many miles of driving and hiking and some
climbing speckled in between. Actual time spent on
boulders is typically a very small fraction of total time
invested. So I’m sure you’re wondering why a boulderer
would bother. There’s plenty of rock down low, right?
Some would say that high-quality alpine rock is motivation enough for going to all that trouble. Piles of swirly
gneiss and sticky granite ofer a plethora of established
problems, potential for further development, and a lower
human-to-rock ratio than closer to town. When I first
moved to Colorado, that was my rationalization for making the trek. I had tunnel vision and a long list of boulder
problems on my tick list. After a few years of being relatively oblivious to the incredible beauty around me, I had
finished most everything in my difculty comfort zone.
So I began projecting a problem at my limit.
It was at that point that my motivation for investing so much time and energy really grew beyond the

boulders. I spent more time going to the Park alone,
and though I continued to fail on my project, I came to
crave the escape to the mountains as much as I craved
the send. I fell in love with the routine of it all—driving,
hiking, trying, failing, waiting.
The joy of alpine bouldering is not only about the
climbing. It’s in the whole journey. The driving and hiking
and weather-dodging. The burning legs and lungs, and
the feeling of utter exhaustion at the end of the day. The
moments between failure-induced fits of anger and frustration when you look up and realize that you are in the
prettiest place you’ve ever been. It’s in the delicate wildflowers, the rare patches of vegetation scattered among
the rocks, and the feeling that disrupting the balance of
either is just a misstep away. The joy is in the serene harmony of the blues, greens, and grays, or the grating dissonance of a fast-moving storm. It’s in the fleeting clash
of the two extremes and the apocalyptic clouds that come
rolling over the ridge, throwing hail and lightning at a
cowering group of friends stuck under a small stone roof.
It’s in those crisp fall days when the rock feels the perfectly sticky. Lying on the crashpad alone in silence looking at the stars. It’s in the sunsets over the peaks that set
the sky on fire and the early- and late-season sessions of
postholing in the snow through a scene fit for a painting.
And sometimes, the joy of alpine bouldering is even in
a hard-fought battle that ends with a send. As you stand
atop that boulder, you realize that your elation isn’t really about that particular moment at all, but rather all of
the moments that led to it. The joy of alpine bouldering
is in the process.
Angie Payne was the first woman in the world to climb
V13 and has been a fixture in U.S. comp climbing since
the days of the PCA. She was born and raised in Cincinnati but currently puts up with Boulder so she can simultaneously indulge her addictions to plastic and rock.
Her love of iPhone photography is only surpassed by her
obsession with frosting and sprinkles.


| 65

Fatten your tick list in the climbing capital of the Northwest

THE SCENE The faux–Bavarian village of Leavenworth is located in central Wash-

ington and surrounded by Alps-quality scenery. With a mix of whitewater boaters,
alpine climbers, mountain bikers, and tourons, you won’t be alone. But with the
highest density of bouldering and rock climbing in the region—not to mention a fun
vibe and plenty of great breweries—who’s complaining? Find out more about this
climbing epicenter at
THE APPROACH There are thousands of impeccable granite boulders scattered

along forest roads and hidden in the surrounding trees, but the majority of the
bouldering is located along Highway 2 and can be broken down into two general
areas: Icicle Creek and Tumwater Canyon. Follow Icicle Creek Road south out of
town to get introduced to the area (and find camping).
Tyler Weiss going big
on The Prism (V9).

A true gem of the area. Most
climbing areas are defined
by their harder boulders, but
this one stone puts all the
other blocks to shame.

Gymnastic movement, comfortable holds, and a stout
reputation make this one
a coveted ascent for those
climbing at the grade.

66 | AUGUST 2 014



Jenny Abegg delicately climbs the smeary
traverse of Andy’s Arête (V5) at the Mountain
Home Road Boulders near Leavenworth.


Hike through vibrant flowers and meadows to world-class boulders
THE SCENE Mt. Evans hosts some of the most sought-afer problems in all of Colo-

rado, of every grade. The bouldering here varies wildly in climbing style, which creates a unique experience every time you visit. You can find nearly everything here.
Technical granite slabs? Yup. Dynos on steep overhangs? Absolutely. Slopey compression thuggery? Uh-huh. You can find anything from V0 to V15 at Mt. Evans.
THE APPROACH From I-70, take CO 103 south from Idaho Springs for about 14

miles to Echo Lake Park. Echo Lake is the trailhead for Chicago Lakes Trail No. 52,
which leads to Areas A through D. Area A is about three miles from the trailhead.
Area D adds another two or three miles (depending on how lost you get).

Timeline is a 25-foot-tall granite
slab that sits right in the main area
of Area A. Unless you want to be
carried out by friends, I suggest
you practice your mantel technique
beforehand. It really doesn’t get
much better than this.


The Dali Boulder’s namesake is
short and fun with a big move.


It’s arguably the best V2 in all of
Colorado; this “ladder” climbs up a
10-foot vertical face on perfectly
sculpted slopers and edges. Climbers might spend 30 minutes running laps on this one before moving
on—it’s that good.



The last problem on a block that is
fully stacked with hard climbs.

Hello, balance!

68 | AUGUST 2 014

Steep, straightforward, and
crimpy, plus it’s surrounded by
other challenging classics.

Connor Grifth keeps it together on
The Nothing (V8) at Area D, Mt. Evans.
Several strong locals have nominated
this highball as one of the best boulders in Colorado.


(2 of 2)

What every boulderer needs to know about life up high
Plants and animals are delicate and need to be respected. Stay on trails,
don’t feed the wildlife (seriously, not even the squirrels), pick up all the
trash you find, pack everything out, and follow the next rule. Climbing in
these wild, beautiful places is a privilege, so treat it like that.



If you don’t have the fitness/energy/motivation to hike your pads in and
out every time, you shouldn’t be visiting these areas in the first place.

Developers have worked closely with park rangers and the Forest Service
to allow climbers access, so don’t do anything to threaten that tricky relationship. Be courteous to other climbers, tourists, and rangers. There’s
a lot of rock, but it’s not all open to trafc, so check before developing.

Being at elevation means harmful rays are more intense, a lack of tree
cover means there’s little to no shade, and surrounding snowfields will
compound the problem. Protect your skin with layers and sunscreen, and
wear a hat and sunglasses to shield your peepers.

Julie Ellison reaches through on
The Ladder (V2), a stellar warmup at Area A of Mt. Evans.


ˆ TH E B E TAˆ




Finally, a multivitamin that is USDA Certified
Organic, Non-GMO Verified and from real,
nutritious foods! Introducing Kind Organics
from Garden of Life. Created with you
in mind offering gender and age specific
formulas, as well as targeted nutrients to
meet your needs!

The new Ultralight Chalk Bag, the
world’s lightest chalkbag, saves the
weight-conscious climber 50-100 grams.

The Solo Stealth is a lightweight technical
approach shoe. The Stealth Rubber sole,
with its “climbing zone” forefoot ensures
unbeatable grip in tricky situations.
The adiprene midsole and adiprene+ in
the forefoot adds all day comfort while
maintaining both propulsion and efficiency.
The Perfect Approach Shoe!
Available at Gear Coop.

Includes brush holder and micro belt in
taper or cylinder shapes. Available in a
variety of colors. $22.50


Climbers on Raid Mit The Camel (5.11c/d)
an 11-13 pitch route on the east face of
Jebel Rum, near Rum Village. Opposite: The
view across the desert to a private camp the
author visited on her journey.


Nobody goes rock climbing in the Middle East except sponsored athletes,
right? Nancy Prichard-Bouchard did, and she discovered world-class
routes, a community of strong Arab and Bedouin climbers, and the finest
cup of tea she’s ever had—all in the region’s emerging climbing capital.

Wadi Rum, a vast, echoing labyrinth
of brick-red sand and castellated
cliffs in southern Jordan, lies deep in
the cradle of civilization.
It feels like the epicenter of the universe—in both a spiritual and a
climbing sense. The climbing I can explain; you’ll just have to trust me
on the spiritual thing. It’s the ultimate in adventure climbing—a blend
of Canyonlands cracks, Yosemite big walls, and Black Canyon commitment, with a vibe that’s totally Arabia. The climbing here is mainly trad
on big sandstone formations (the longest routes are more than 600 meters and nearly 30 pitches), and is characterized by a bold, committing
style. There are long runouts and airy traverses, and the rock quality
can go from hard to soft in a matter of moves. Protection can be tricky.
This is desert alpinism, with intricate scrambles up low-angle ramps
to spectacular 1,800-meter summits via traditional Bedouin routes.
And the collection of 5.5 to 5.11 cracks may be one of the finest in the
world. There are steep, 12-pitch 5.12 and 5.13 testpieces, some bolted,
some not. The clean-climbing ethic is strong here, although most of the
classics now have fixed anchors. Route-finding is tricky, and descents
can be complex and technical. But the climbing is spectacular. There
are corners, dihedrals, arêtes, and towering faces all made accessible by
endless cracks, hidden chimneys, pockets, and knobs. The mountaineering and climbing are world-class and the bouldering unexplored.
The Wadi Rum Protected Area is about four hours south of Amman
and an hour north of the Red Sea port of Aqaba. It extends south to
the Saudi Arabian border. The Bedouin village of Rum is located in the
center of this vast maze of domes and clifs, at just 950 meters above sea
level. From both sides of the village, the massive ranges of Jebel (mountain) Rum and Jebel Um Ishrin rise to a height of over 1,700 meters,
casting cathedral-like shadows across the sun-scorched sand.
The climbing community in Jordan is surprisingly strong. Perhaps
it’s due to the difcult conditions in the surrounding countries that
have led Jordan to develop a legit climbing culture that’s coming into its
own. Surrounded by hot spots like Syria, Iraq, Israel, the Palestine Territories, Iran, and Egypt, Jordan has developed arguably the strongest
(and certainly the friendliest) climbing community in the Middle East.
In Wadi Rum, you’ll find climbers from Dubai and Israel, some who
are refugees from Iraq or Syria, and some who drive down from Amman. The area is shifting from the realm of multi-month expeditions
and elite climbing teams to a viable destination that has something for

72 | AUGUST 2 014

everyone. In Jordan, climbing is a common language of peace, fun, and
adventure ripe for exploration—just bring your own pro, sunscreen,
and camel harness.

Amy Jurries, a fellow climber, writer, and founder of popular site, and I trailed Mohammad Hammad out of his home
in Rum Village. The village is as close to the Star Wars planet Tatooine
as you can get. Tents, camels, goats, and houses are surrounded by walls
that separate properties from one another. There are a lot of children—
some families have as many as 20. Many of the locals are related—cousins, siblings, aunts, and uncles—and most work in the local tourism
business. From camel, horse, and jeep tours to hikes, scrambles, and
climbing, there is plenty to do in Rum. Local outfitters also provide
trekking and camping services—from tents behind the Rest House to
luxury “private” camps tucked far into the desert.
We’d spent a half hour convincing Mohammad of our climbing prowess, trying on ill-fitting helmets and assuring our press-trip handlers that
a five-pitch desert climb was not dangerous. In contrast to the other Bedouin men in the village, with their crisp ankle-length robes, traditional
Jordanian red and white headscarves (black and white are Palestine’s
colors), and sandals, Mohammad sported white soccer socks, plaid Bermuda shorts, and a blue polo shirt. He wore his scarf tucked up into a
tight-fitting turban (kefyeh) wrapped Bedouin style. My Cheshire grin
masked some concern. In more than 30 years of climbing, I’d never relied
on a guide. Amy and I had never roped up together. And Mohammad was
clearly sick with serial fits of coughing. Our plan was to climb the fourpitch Goldfinger (5.9).
The East Face of Jebel Rum towers 1,700-plus meters above the village of Rum. The walk to the base takes 15 minutes—much of it along
a narrow stone wall that traces the edge of Nabatean ruins dating back
to at least 300 B.C. Amy and I helped carry the gear, and as I started
to flake out the rope, Mohammad looked on apologetically. “The rope is
bad,” he said, shaking his head. “It got wet in the canyons. It’s only good
for a camel harness.” Amy and I stared up the sheer face, and then looked
at each other with saucer eyes. We eyed Mohammad closely as he tied


in. The sheath was impressively frayed
and the cord goldline stif, but what we
didn’t know was that the local Bedouins are known for their keen sense of
humor. He took of climbing—moving
with confidence, talent, and fluidity.
Goldfinger is a beautiful route following an obvious crack system on
the finger-shaped towers clinging to
the East Face of Jebel Rum. The climb
begins with a scramble up to the white
rock band and the start of the crack
system. The third pitch is the crux, a
The second works through a short,
chimney that demands classic pushairy traverse on the final pitch of
La Guerre Saint (5.12b).
and-pull technique. The well-featured
rock made climbing fun, with plenty
of pockets, knobs, and small crack systems, including abundant opportunities for natural protection. To my
left was a monster splitter that rivaled Supercrack in Indian Creek.
Mohammad placed nuts as adeptly as if he’d been raised in Yosemite. He slung chickenheads and threaded runners through rock channels left by wind and water. I was surprised to see no fixed anchors.
The rock was stellar until we reached the top where a mammoth-sized
boulder guarded the path between us and the belay. Suddenly the route
went from casual jug-hauling and stemming to those tricky, hold-yourbreath levitations I’d learned on fragile rock in Canyonlands.

Pillars of Wisdom and watched David Lean’s film Lawrence of Arabia
so often that my daughters were speaking like Peter O’Toole and Omar
Sharif. Most of the movie was filmed in and around Rum Village—you
can’t help but notice the sumptuously carved walls of rock. “Welcome to
Wadi Rum!” says Sheikh Auda Abu Tayeh (played by Anthony Quinn).
As the Bedouin troops move of across the wide, magnificent valleys
of Rum and Um Ishrin, you are treated to a bird’s eye view of the East
Face of Jebel Rum (you can see Goldfinger) and of the proud towers of

I first heard

We flew non-stop from New York to Amman, Jordan’s capital

of Wadi Rum during the first Gulf War when I had
just started as a junior editor at Rock and Ice. One of the earliest stories
I’d worked on was by a U.S. soldier stationed in Iraq who climbed in
Wadi Rum during his leave. I don’t know what happened to the soldier,
but I never forgot his snapshots.
Fast-forward to 2013. As a writer, I travel in search of stories. This
time, I was invited on a media trip to Jordan. Jordan? I was intrigued and
nervous. Most U.S. media coverage on the Middle East is consumed with
the riots in Egypt, civil war in Syria, conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, and various refugee crises. Roughly half of the Jordanian population is Palestinian—more than two million of them refugees. Jordan,
which had its borders drawn by European colonial powers after World
War I, is a political haven. In addition to giving sanctuary to Palestinians, Jordan has also hosted large numbers of forced migrants from other
countries in the Middle East, such as Lebanon during the 1975 to 1991
civil war, and Iraq since the 1991 Gulf War and after the 2003 removal
of Saddam Hussein following the Anglo-American military intervention.
And more than half a million Syrian refugees have crossed the border in
the past few years. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a nice house in
a rough neighborhood.
But was it safe? I texted a special agent in the FBI and former Marine
who was stationed in Mogadishu during the 1990s. “It’s probably safer
than Chicago,” he said. I thought about that for a while. Yes, I’d be brave
enough to visit Chicago. The U.S. and Jordanian governments work well
together—we provide aid and they provide stability in the Middle East.
King Abdullah II is a 41st-generation direct descendant of the Prophet
Mohammad who was educated in England and attended Princeton. He
and his beautiful wife, the Palestinian-born Rania, are strong supporters of women’s rights, education, health care, and human rights. His father was the movie-star handsome King Hussein. His mother was British—the daughter of a high-ranking Army ofcer. His grandfather, King
Abdullah I, worked with T.E. Lawrence during the Arab Revolt.
I said yes, and in the same breath, asked if we would be climbing in
Wadi Rum. I’d pored over the descriptions by T.E. Lawrence in Seven

and a bustling city of about three million. You can catch a red-eye, settle
in for 14 hours, arrive in time to have dinner, and be climbing the next
day. Or spend a day exploring the ancient cities of Jerash, Petra (with the
famous narrow canyon entrance that Indiana Jones rode through in The
Last Crusade), and Madaba. There were barricades around our hotel,
the first class Grand Hyatt Amman, and a scanner and X-ray security at
the entrance. The Grand Hyatt was one of the places bombed in 2005,
and now big hotels in the high-trafc tourist areas—Petra, the Dead Sea,
Aqaba, and Amman—have security. We walked to dinner—a hip spot
called Wild Jordan that’s run by the Royal Society for Conservation of
Nature, with the goal of developing social and economic sustainability for
Jordan’s nature reserves. King Abdullah, an avid sportsman—he scubas
and skydives—is dedicated to protecting Jordan’s natural resources. My
jitters dissipated as we passed by well-kept apartments, chic shops, and
neighborhood gardens. It was exotic yet familiar. There were families,
college kids, couples, and lots of single men of all ages talking or playing
cards. Arabic is the ofcial language, but English is taught from grade
school onward.
“Will I be able to climb?” I asked again, trying not to sound pushy.
Our tour guide, a clever man named Kamel Jayusi had spent a lot of
time in Rum, but didn’t climb. Neither did our Jamaican-born Jordanian Tourism Board liaison, Janine Jervis. But she had a friend who did,
and he planned to meet us around 9 p.m. back at the hotel. We sipped
$20 mai tais in the hotel courtyard, sitting next to sheikhs wearing keffiyehs and immaculate white robes who were sipping tea and smoking
fruit-flavored hookahs.
In walked Hakim. He’s a big guy, 6’ 2” or 6’ 3”, wearing jeans, sneakers, and a T-shirt, with soulful brown eyes and shoulder-length black
hair tied back like a pirate. “I can’t take you climbing,” he said regretfully. He had to be in Petra. He’d been hired to climb on the ancient
facades to check for cracks and loose rock. The National Geographic
Society was sending a film crew. British climbing legend Joe Brown
had helped with access work there in the 1960s, and this time Hakim


| 73

could use a drill to establish some anchors. “I know one guide who can,
though,” he said, “but he can take only two climbers.” Hakim’s words
were met with silence—at least six other writers in the group wanted
to climb, too.
In Lawrence of Arabia, Abu Tayeh describes himself as a “river to his
people.” That’s a good description of Hakim. Nearly single-handedly,
he has developed a community of Middle East
climbers—the first ever. They’ve had two Wadi
Rum climbing festivals and are working on route
development on a limestone crag near Syria. There
are climbers from Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, and Iraq. Hakim’s company, Tropical Desert
Guiding Service, introduces people to hiking and
canyoneering in Jordan, but he’s also taught a lot
of people to climb for free.
UNESCO had been alerted about a monstrous
boulder that was coming loose from the base of a
big wall in Petra. They called Tropical Desert and
set about a massive project to reattach the rock.
Then they turned their attention to the Siq (the
impossibly narrow slot canyon with 100-meterhigh walls that are the main entrance into Petra).
Hakim helped to install more than 70 devices that
would allow geologists and archaeologists to monitor rock movement. “It was a majestic feeling when
they said they needed a device on the rock next to
the famous Monastery and Treasury,” said Hakim.
“Climbing there was one of the coolest things I’ve
done in my life.”

the Dead Sea (at 1,400 feet below sea level). While Amman is densely
populated, with big buildings, an extensive souk (open-air market), and
antiquities that date back 20,000 years, the rest of the country is vast
desert and mountains punctuated by amazingly fertile valleys and river
beds. The canyoneering in this area is amazing—deep slot canyons with
waterfalls and cascading pools, with oases of pink and oleander and
As you near the edge of the escarpment of Ras
en Naqab, big-featured mountains loom in the
distance. There’s the pyramid-shaped peaks of the
Barrah Mountains, and the porpoise-back arch
of Jebel Rum. While prehistoric man lived in this
area 200,000 years ago, and there are 2,000-yearold Nabatean ruins, this section of the Middle East
wasn’t explored by Westerners until much later.
The classic film, Lawrence of Arabia, introduced
Wadi Rum to the Western world (it won seven
Academy Awards in 1962). T.E. Lawrence (brilliantly played by Peter O’Toole), derided for his
obsession over the Jordanian desert, explains, “It
is clean.” And that’s one of its attractions, but he
also called Wadi Rum “magnificent, vast, echoing,
and godlike.” But it is also achingly beautiful, exotic, and strangely intriguing.
During WWI, T.E. Lawrence’s love afair with
the Middle East (nurtured by the sensationalized
reporting of American journalist Lowell Thomas)
helped to bring the region to the world’s attention. His book Seven Pillars of Wisdom cemented
the relationship—especially after it was made into an epic film in
1963. In 1984, British climbers Tony Howard, Di Taylor, Al Baker, and
Mick Shaw watched the film. Howard was determined to climb there.
He sent faxes to the Jordanian Ambassador in London, to the Tourism Ministry, and to King Hussein himself. Finally he got a reply. “We
welcome you and your team to explore Wadi Rum for climbing and
trekking.” And so it was written.
In 1984, there was only an old fort marking the old Saudi border, six
houses given to the sheikhs by King Hussein—a magnanimous gesture
and efort to bring them into the system—a couple of concrete block

Nearly single-handedly, he developed the
first community of
Middle East

To reach Wadi Rum,

we drove along the King’s Highway—
a pre-Biblical trade route between Egypt and Damascus. The road is
roller coaster wild—big sweeping curves with one lane tight against
the mountain, the other often looking out over thousands of feet of air.
It traces the eastern rim of the dramatic Jordan Rift Valley and Wadi
Mujib. Wadi (which translates into Canyon) Mujib is the Grand Canyon of the Middle East—it’s narrower than the real Grand Canyon,
and in places, more than 3,000 feet deep as it slices a 150-mile path to


tick list
Most of these Wadi Rum routes can’t
be found online or in guidebooks and
are appearing in Western climbing
media for the first time.
By Wilfried Colonna
74 |

AUGUST 2 014

This 5,754-foot route is generally done in two days with a
bivouac on the mountain. It’s
not difcult, but sustained
and long. If you don’t have
prior experience at Jebel Rum,
you must visit with a guide.
Excellent route-finding skills
and a gentle touch will deliver
one of the most beautiful
experiences on “The Lord”
of Jordanian sandstone
summits, the Jebel Rum. For

experienced mountaineers
only! There is nothing harder
than low fifh class; just tricky
scrambling, walking, and one
75-foot rappel. This can also
be done from south to north
(and thus without any rappel).

Tag the summit of Jebel
Khazali (4,658 feet) by ascending Al Lassik (5.8) east
to northeast, then turn east
to descend Sabbah’s Route.
This generally done-in-a-day
affair has many short class
three and four passages.
The crux pitch is fun 5.8. An
amazing, doable adventure

on one of the most attractive
mountains in Wadi Rum.

If you want a rest day activity
or a short itinerary to take
in some scenery, tackle the
4,101-foot dome of Jebel
Geder crossing from north
to south. It starts with low
fifh class climbing, followed
by a fairly long walk on the
domes toward a remote,
massive summit. Winding
around hanging terraces in
the middle of a wall on the
descent provides the most
intricate introduction to the

houses, maybe a dozen black goat-hair Bedouin tents, and a dusty shop
piled high with a confusion of clothes, kitchen utensils, and vegetables.
Howard remembers waking at dawn to see smoke curling up from the
fires of the Bedouin tents as they roasted cofee beans before grinding
them in large bell-like brass mortars. Then chimes rang out, welcoming people to the tent. There was a well near the fort, but no electricity.
They were the only foreigners in the valley.
They were welcomed into Rum by the son of Sheikh Atieq and invited
to his desert camp where they explained they were looking for climbs,
and if the climbing were good, others might come. If they didn’t want
that, Howard made it clear, the Brits would go. Sheikh Atieq agreed
to the proposal, but as the Bedouin had climbed everything, why did
the British need all that equipment when the mountains had all been
climbed with nothing! Howard quickly discovered that his hosts were
excellent mountaineers.
They lived and traveled with the Bedouin for two months, naming all
the mountains, finding the Burdah Bridge, and climbing Jebel Rum by
various Bedouin routes. The Bedouins proved sly sandbaggers—they’d
point out routes and let the climbers have a go—sometimes not explaining that the seemingly straightforward route might require a bivy or two.
The British team also established some new climbs, including a route
to the baroque-shaped 1,580-meter summit of Jebel Kharazeh through
splitter cracks, hidden chimneys, and solid, black patina rock, one of the
few peaks not climbed by the Bedouin. Its Vanishing Pillar was staring
them in the face every day, so it had to be climbed. The next year, Wilfried Colonna, a charismatic French guide who resembles a young Sean
Connery, met Howard and Taylor in Morocco. Wilfried joined the Wadi
Rum exploration team and became one of the region’s top advocates. In
1992, he helped to reintroduce Arabian horses back into Wadi Rum, as
the population had dwindled after the Arab Revolt.
The village has grown since Howard first arrived—there are now three
overspill villages out of Rum Valley, north of the Nature Reserve Visitor Center. There are two schools, one for the boys and one for the girls.
Some of the local Bedouin population and guides worry that despite the
fact that Wadi Rum was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in
2011, a plan from the ASEZA (Aqaba SpecialEconomic Zone Authority)
to approve 700 building plots adjacent to the village (opposite the Rest
House) may impact the area’s unique geography, wilderness, and charm
that earned it UNESCO designation in the first place. Debate about the

area’s crazy topography. “No
way it goes here! Wait, yes,
here it is!” It takes one or two
45-foot rappels.


THE HADJ (5.8+)
South Face of Jebel Sweibit’s
South Summit
7 pitches
This is one of the most
southern climbs in the region,
a 45-minute drive from Rum
Village and not far from the
Saudi border. A true area
classic on a beautiful summit.

If you only have time for one
route of this difculty, this is
the one! It’s a varied route,
combining steep cracks at the
start and beautifully carved
slabs in the second half. It’s
all on excellent rock afer the
second pitch (however, use
caution with the loose blocks
on the middle terrace), and it
has excellent protection. The
exposure and body positions
make it feel amazingly more
difcult than it actually is!
The descent is an easy alpine
walk-off on the opposite side,
down to Ghôrm Jarish canyon.
Get there early: It only gets
morning shade.

As Klemen Becan onsights
this route, he can taste the
Glory (5.13c).

East Face of Jebel Rum’s
East Dome
4 pitches
A great introductory route to
the area on the small central
tower at the base of the Main
East Face of Jebel Rum, just
above Rum Village. The twopitch “approach” to the main
finger crack is on poor rock
but easy (5.4). Then it moves
onto 115 feet of perfect
sandstone with great protection (5.9). The top pitch is a
bit sandy (5.9+). Descend by
four rappels on glue-in rings
with chains to the lef of the
tower along the route called

Troubadour (5.10b).
Um Rashid North
5 pitches
A fairly easy route, with only
one hard and steep passage
in the middle of a black wall,
but it’s well-protected with
wires and small cams. The
rest is 5.6 max on low-angle
rock, and ends in local “alpine
terrain,” which allows you to
scramble easily to the summit
via the west side. Then get
back to the sands by a beautiful Bedouin path that travels
southeast into the hidden valley behind. A harder variation

climbs up the obvious corner
lef of the black wall.

NIQAB (5.9+)
East Face of Jebel Geder’s
South Summit
5 pitches
A short afernoon route (with
shade!) on the beautiful south
part of the massif. It’s on the
way to The Hadj (see lef).
The rock is fairly sof on the
upper part of this obvious corner, but solid on the top crux
section. Use caution during
the required ledge scramble
that links the two parts of
the route. It’s full of loose


| 75

potential impact that more houses (and cars) would have on the tranquil
community and pristine nature of the landscape is fierce in town and
around campfires.

The windy road

takes you through the desert to a small
rise and the Visitor Center. The view overlooking the Valley of Rum is
grand—Ansel Adams would have gone wild. On either side there are a
half-dozen miles of highly featured, colorful 1,500-foot clifs. The shadows on the rock, framed by red sand and blue sky, captivate us. Several
camels wander into view. By now, most of us have changed our ball caps
for traditional scarves. From here, you can catch a bus into Rum Village,
or better yet, get picked up by your guide. Chances are you’ll ride on cushioned seats in the bed of a pickup, or you could go by camel or horseback;
either way, you’ll have a 360-degree view of the desert.
Hakim’s friend in Wadi Rum is Mohammad Hammad, arguably the
best Bedouin climber around. His father, Hammad, was in the Jordanian
military and pioneered many of the first technical routes on the clifs.
Hammad’s Route to the summit of 1,754-meter Jebel Rum, is one of the
classics. The route starts out on low-angled sandstone steps and follows a
5.9 crack, with face climbing through huecos reminiscent of Smith Rock’s
Five Gallon Buckets. You can make it to the summit and back in a day, but
there are some sweet places to camp on the summit.
By his 10th birthday, Mohammad was climbing with his father on
ibex-hunting parties in the mountains. By 16, he and his friend Omar
Aoudah had acquired a collection of climbing gear given as thank-you
gifts in return for providing transportation across the desert. There were
no specialized shops in Jordan, and the boys relied on visiting European climbers and guides to learn how to belay and build anchors. He’s
climbed on the limestone north of Amman with Colonna—the two set
up the first bolted line of Ajloun limestone (at Sami’s Clif )—as well as on
the conglomerates in the south, which still haven’t been repeated.

While the idea of being a climbing guide is widely accepted in

Jordan today, there are only a handful who guide technical routes, and
only three real professional mountain guides in Wadi Rum (as recognized by other professional guiding associations from abroad).
Climbing has grown in popularity in Jordan. Climbat, the climbing
gym in Amman and the biggest in the Middle East, has about 5,000
members. The gym is first-class—it hosted a World Cup in 2011.

boulders. A perfect taste of
the local “sof-touch” climbing style! The route has good
protection; rack smaller wires
for the final crux wall, which
looks harder than it is. To
descend, join the Jebel Geder
Crossing itinerary on the way
down through the final red
sandstone flank.

West Face of Jebel Um Ejil
5 pitches
An hour walk from Rum Village, this, uh, beauty is the
most-climbed route in the valley! It has all the ingredients
to make it a perfect half-day
adventure—a sumptuous

76 | AUGUST 2 014

approach in the depths of
the mountain, excellent
rock, and each pitch with its
own character. Laybacks,
stemming, technical slabs,
and a surprising finish on the
“banana crack” where a No.
5 cam and at least one No.
4 are crucial for protection.
The first ascensionists used a
single No. 3.5, just in the last
five meters. The very top of
the mountain is worth a visit
(optional scramble afer the
last pitch). Descend along the
route. All belays and rappels
are on glue-in rings. You’ll
need a complete set of cams
and a handful of medium to
small wires. For the rest of the

There are now several bolted limestone crags north of Amman. About
500 climbers visit Wadi Rum each year for technical climbing and
the Bedouin routes. The traditional Bedouin routes are more about
mountaineering and alpinism than pure technical climbing, even if
some parts of Wadi Rum clifs look like sport climbing crags. There
are still only a few fully bolted climbs. Most of the climbing here is
about trad: nuts, cams, wedged knots, and threads on soft sandstone.
On my second trip, this time with Backpacker magazine, I flew
in early to hang out with some of the local climbers in Amman. Mai
Turki picked me up from the airport; she’s an active part of the local
climbing community. My ride back to the airport was with Safa Muhi,
the first sponsored female climber from Iraq. I asked her what it was
like being a female climber in a Muslim country. “I grew up in Iraq,”
she said. “When you live your life expecting death any second like kids
waiting for snow on Christmas, and then you get the chance to live a
normal life—one when you kiss your mum goodbye as you leave the
house because it’s customary, not because you might go out that door
and not come back alive—a life where you get to feel bored once in a
while, it makes you grab every chance you get to feel alive and never
miss a moment because the idea of dying any second still hunts you
down. I love climbing; I never let myself feel bored because it’s shameful to feel that way after I was given a better life to live.” She refers to
Hakim as the godfather of climbing in Jordan, and Wilfried as the
great-godfather. Both Mai and Safa are Muslim, but neither wears a
headscarf (however, women can and do climb while wearing sleekfitting hijabs). Safa comes from a traditional Iraqi family. She and her
sisters fled to Jordan during the war, but her father and brothers remained in Baghdad. Her father originally discouraged climbing; he
worried she’d get hurt. He suggested that it was forbidden in Islam.
Her mother calmly replied that Khadejeh, the wife of Prophet Mohammad, used to climb Jabal al-Noor (mountain of the light) to bring
him water and food. I asked Mohammad Hammad about the proliferation of female climbers in Jordan. “Many of the visiting European
climbers in Rum are women,” he said. “And there are girls from the
North (Amman) who climb—but none from the traditional South.”
But he guilelessly told me, “Some shepherd girls are pushing very far
in terms of Bedouin routes with their goats.” Amy and I plan to return
to Rum and see if we can get the girls in harnesses. I asked him if he’d
teach his daughter to climb, and he said of course, but that she’d be

day, try the neighboring route,
Alan and His Perverse Frog

Barrah Canyon
5 pitches
A magic line that spends
nearly all day in the shade. A
continuously straight crack
in excellent, strong rock on
a shady wall of Siq Barrah.
Only the first 50 meters are
crack climbing. The upper
part offers fine technical
moves on perfectly clean and
steep sculptured sandstone,
with gouttes d’eau (translation: water drops) limestonelike curved holds. You can

drive right to the route. Belay
from the footboard of the
jeep! Descend by four rappels
along the route.

WISDOM (5.10B)
East Face of Jebel Rum
15 pitches
It has an irresistible appeal
to the heart of any climber.
It was one of the first lines
discovered by the first
Anglo-French to climb here
and quickly became a classic
at the intermediate level,
with a spectacular crux in
the last few meters. The
rock is generally sof but
solid enough to offer fine

and varied climbing with
good protection. Descend by
Hammad’s Route, the regular
way from Jebel Rum summit
toward Rum Village, with
some down-scrambling and
seven or eight rappels.

Barrah Canyon
8 pitches
Local climbers just call this
route, a 40-minute drive from
Rum or Diseh villages, “Star.”
Some see it as one of the
world’s most iconic sandstone
classics. And it’s certainly one
of the best climbs in Wadi
Rum! Varied, sustained, and in

exposed to many sports and will make her own

Wadi Rum strictly follows the traditional climbing ethos, and even the use of chalk is frowned
upon by locals. The bold routes of Austrian cleanto hundreds of climbs from
climbing legend Albert Precht have by far the
Rum Village, and some of the most classic are
purest ethic and present the greatest challenge—
just a few minutes to an easy hour away. One fathough not many climbers attempt the necky
mous is Jihad (also known as La Guerre Sainte),
runouts. Only three bolts were used to complete
a wild multi-pitch sport route located on the eastthe 10-pitch, 350-foot Pillar of Wisdom, first
ern side of Jebel Um Ishrin, east of Rum Village.
climbed by Colonna, Howard, and Taylor in 1986.
This 400-meter desert beast was bolted by French
Subsequently, Colonna and the Jordanian TourDead Sea
ism Board have worked to put safety rappels on
climber Arnaud Petit and graded at 7b+ (5.12c).
popular descents. And outside the Protected Area,
The first few pitches are very exposed; bolts can
sport-specific crags are continually being develbe four to six meters apart, but the sandstone is
oped. There are now some superb routes on Nasssolid there. Near the third pitch is some crimpy
raniya in particular.
climbing, but farther up, the rock gets sketchier,
Wadi Rum
Rum rock is sandstone, mostly good but some
and with such distance between bolts, you want to
not. It can go from really hard to the consistency
move cautiously to avoid a 12-meter fall.
Red Sea
of a frozen snow cone. And as always with advenOn my second trip, I did the four-day hike from
ture climbing, it’s a matter of learning to read and
the Feynan Eco Lodge (Dana Biosphere Reserve)
GET THERE You can climb year-round in
respect the rock. Like in Indian Creek, the Doloto Petra. I had a few days in Wadi Rum and “disWadi Rum, but the real season is late Sepcovered” the quintessential rest day. From the
mites, the Black Canyon, and Zion—the color of
tember through mid-November and March
village, you can retrace T.E. Lawrence’s footsteps
the rock can tell you a lot. Route-finding on Bedthrough May. There are flights to Amman
ouin routes is almost always tricky, and descents
across the desert while scouting the best climbing
from Chicago, New York and Detroit (flying
are rarely obvious. The general rule for Bedouin
walls. The dramatic landscape has narrow gorges,
through Montreal) on Royal Jordanian
routes, as Colonna told me, is to avoid difculties
natural arches, towering clifs, ramps, and caves
Airlines. You can also fly from any airline
if possible and think like a Bedouin, who is thinkthat shelter more than 25,000 documented rock
through Europe and catch a short flight
ing like an ibex. And ibexes are brilliant climbers.
carvings, with 20,000 inscriptions that trace the
to Amman. There are buses available at
Newer routes do generally follow the obvious lines
evolution of human thought and the early develthe Queen Alia Airport, but the best bet
opment of the alphabet. The area is 720 square
and crack systems. Wadi Rum has some bolted
is to hire a driver via a guide service (hire
kilometers—nearly 300 square miles. We walked
sandstone walls (with glue-in rings preferred over
Mohammad Hammad himself at bedouinfrom where the Nabateans settled in 300 B.C.; this
bolts), and there’s also some easier multi-pitch Find a comprehensive list of
was the first place olive trees were domesticated.
stuf where people hone their trad skills before
resources at
The village is on the site of an important Nabatean
launching up the big stuf. The commitment level
trading route between Arabia and Syria. We hiked about a mile to Lawchanges quickly, and the nature of the sandstone forces you at first to
rence Springs, where T.E. Lawrence was hiding during World War I.
climb one or two grades lower than usual. Even at a higher level.
Most of the scenes in Lawrence of Arabia were shot there in 1963. Then,
Beneath the Rum sandstone there is a plinth of granite, which ofers
across a couple of miles of unbroken desert—the heart of the reserve
excellent bouldering and a few 20-meter climbs. Outside Rum, there
and then to Al-Khaz’ali Canyon—where there’s a beautiful slot canyon
are the granite and basalt mountains of Aqaba, striated with igneous
to explore.
intrusions. Only two or three scrambles have been done there—but the

You can walk

very beautiful surroundings in
the middle of a canyon where
climbs are lined up like a parade. With the exception of a
few meters on pitch three, the
dark sandstone is just excellent. There is also one short,
well-protected section of
offwidth on pitch six. Descend
along the route, which gets
afernoon shade.

East Pillar of North Tower
15 pitches
Climb up the sand dune to


reach the start of this exceptional climb up an impossiblelooking pillar. It’s fascinating
for its committing character,
entirely on trad protection
without a piece of metal in
sight. This is the calling card
of the famous Austrian team
who developed it. No bolts,
never! Exactly the opposite
character of Jihad (a bolted
5.12c). It’s definitely a “big”
climb and for competent parties only. Nothing technically
harder than 5.10d, but the
crux pitch is very sustained,
pushing the grade to 5.11a.
Plan for a seven- to nine-hour
climb. Descend on the rappels
of Jihad.

East Face of Jebel Rum’s
East Dome
12 to 14 pitches
This is one of the climbs that
has opened the way to a new
trend in the valley, keeping
a certain character of trad
climbing but with adequate
bolting in some places. Mixed,
as you call it in the States.
Raid is unanimously acclaimed by the climbers who
enjoy this comfortable compromise. It is one of the finest
routes of its level in Wadi
Rum. The first four pitches
are very nice and sustained.
Descent is possible by 10 rap-

pels down the route, but much
better to follow the raps of
Rock Empire. Otherwise, from
the East Dome summit, down
Eye of Allah and the abseils
of I.B.M.

East Face of Jebel Rum’s
East Dome
12 to 13 pitches
Elegant climbing along a very
direct system of superficial
cracks and open corners.
Very popular for the first four
pitches, constituting the
Shortclimb Inferno (5.10b).
The rock is mostly perfect,
albeit with some short sofer

parts, especially in the upper
pitches where curious veneers can leave one doubtful.
One can also opt for the
less radical method of the
pioneers: aid climbing.
Knifeblades and angle pitons
of various lengths were used
at the time. A handful of pins
should be enough, along with
the essential micro-cams and
numerous small wires.
Some gear has been lef in
place (pins), besides the
excellent peg-bolted and
glue-in belays on the lower
part. Confidence in small
wire protection is the key to
success. Descend from the
“fourth floor” by rappels,


| 77

or if you choose to summit,
descend via Eye of Allah’s or
on the new rap stations on

(5.12D OR 5.11C A0)
West Face of Jebel Khazali
10 pitches
One of the hidden gems of
Wadi Rum, since it’s concealed in a little side canyon
at the end of the main West
Face of Jebel Khazali. An
exceptional and intimidating
line up a smooth dihedral.
Steep and strenuous crack
climbing brings the pump
up high on the dihedral.

78 | AUGUST 2 014

Escape the corner by a
bolted traverse (goes free at
12d, otherwise A0) to the
right arête of the flank, then
continue up more corners to
the top. All belays in place.
Descend by rappelling down
the route or via Martha Steps
on the west side.

East Face of Nassraniya
North Tower
12 pitches
The most well-known climb
in Wadi Rum and for good
reason. Not because it is
entirely protected by glue-in
bolts. Rather that prior to

its establishment, it was
considered unclimbable.
That climbers found an
ongoing line of holds through
the headwall is a miracle!
The already-solid rock has
been cleaned even more by
numerous parties throughout
the years. Compared to any
other trad routes around,
Jihad (the route’s English
translation) exudes a sof atmosphere of “quiet holidays”
because of its well-protected
sport climbing character.
A rope, quickdraws, and
slings—that’s all you need!
Descend by rappelling on the
route itself.

CODA (5.12D/5.13A)
West Face of Jebel
Barrah North
12 pitches
The ragni of Italy certainly
does not mean much for the
American climber. But remember Riccardo Cassin was
the most famous member of
that group of “spiders.” They
still exist today, and some of
them have been active all over
the world, and of course, in
Wadi Rum as well. The route
(which translates to “pulling
the devil’s tail”) goes from a
fully bolted option on the first
pitch (5.12d) to traditional

crack climbing higher up. It’s
very steep and sustained, but
very well-protected and on
nearly perfect rock. It’s part
of a new generation of routes,
where difculty doesn’t mean
ultimate commitment, with
bolts where they need to be,
and trad protection where it
is obviously safe enough. A
wonderful gif from the ragni,
who developed it. Descend by
rappelling the route.

(5.10D A1)
West Face of Um Ishrin Tower
23 pitches
This ranks as one of the great-


Lef: Although climbing at Petra is illegal, guide Hakim Tamimi climbs next to the Treasury to help
the government assess damage to the monuments. Above: Descending from the East Face of Nassraniya North Tower. Below: The village of Wadi Rum sits in a low, flat valley, with monstrous walls,
like the Jebel Rum massif, looming right outside the city limits.

potential is obvious. To the north, the sandstone appears at its colorful best in Petra. North again there is some conglomerate near Dana.
And as you head farther north, there are some sandstone canyons with
basalt intrusions. Northward from here, the rock is mostly limestone,
providing some trad climbs and many sport climbs, particularly at Al
Ayoun, north of Ajloun Castle.

Considering that Rum

is a serious mountain area, there
have actually been very few accidents in the past 30 years. The worst
was undoubtedly the death of three French climbers, two women and
a man, this spring on Goldfinger, the route I climbed with Amy and
Mohammad. They were experienced climbers, but reputedly didn’t have sandstone experience. They had threaded
a bridge for an anchor on the
third (crux) pitch; two were
clipped in, and the leader fell.
Local climbers report that
their belay wasn’t the standard one—but of to the side
of the traditional route. They
fell more than 200 meters.
The next week, Colonna and
Howard helped the locals
with the body recovery of a
young Amman photographer
who’d fallen in one of the canyons. It was a grim week.
There are more than 200
routes listed in the guidebook
Howard wrote in 1994, and
a lot of development since.
There are multi-pitch routes from 5.8 to 5.13, and lots of 5.10s and 11s.
Expect routes from five to 25 or 30 pitches that require significant commitment and route-finding. Colonna is writing a new book; it should be
out by this winter. Climbing in Jordan is still wilderness climbing, but it
is poised as the next adventure playground. With so much of the Middle

With so
much political turmoil
nearby, Jordan is the
anchor of
the climbing

est climbs of Wadi Rum’s big
walls. Makhman Canyon, not
too far from the village, is one
of the main sanctuaries for
such powerful challenges.
Very long and sustained,
this route offers a serious
undertaking with a certainly
unavoidable bivouac. It boasts
some of the best rock quality
in Wadi Rum. All pins, fixed
slings, and knots are in place,
though the grading has not
been confirmed yet. Halfway
up, the route meets the extraordinary and fairly easy line
of Rund um die Welt (5.9),
which comes from the east
side of the mountain by fol-

lowing the upper hanging part
of Makhman Canyon. I tell
you, here it’s not just about
climbing, it’s about penetrating the deepest mystery of
the mountains! Descend
along the route by rappelling
and down-scrambling.

West Face of Nassraniya
North Tower
20 to 22 pitches
It’s a journey, not just a climb.
If you’re looking for something
new and exotic, go for it!
Another great line on a very
big wall with a really serious
atmosphere—and sometimes

East closed to climbing due to political turmoil, Jordan has become the
anchor of the climbing community. With the development of a strong
local climbing community in the past year, a pro-Western culture, and
increased media attention, Wadi Rum is moving from an exotic dream
to a must-do on every trad climber’s bucket list.
One of the harder climbs in Wadi Rum is the bolted Glory, a fivepitch sport route put up by Ofer Blutrich, a very strong Israeli climber.
It goes at 8a+ (5.13c) and sports a hard, spectacular, and ultra-technical
third crux pitch. The rest of the pitches (10a, 12a, 12b, 12a, respectively)
are all beautiful, technical friction climbing on steep, dark rock. This
spring, Klemen Becan, a Slovenian climber, did the first 8b+ (5.14a) of
Wadi Rum. It might be the least-steep 8b+ in the world—even less than
vertical—a testament to the technical level of the testpiece.
Mohammad and Wilfried came to visit at our campsite. Rather than
the group desert camp where there are big, individual sleeping tents,
bathrooms, and even showers, this time we were carrying our own
tents and stretching out under the stars on the still-warm desert sand.
I’d brought a new rope for Mohammad and climbing shoes for them
both—it is still nearly impossible to find technical climbing gear in Jordan. My group had made chocolate mousse for dessert, which Mohammad and Wilfried loved. Wilfried accepted a glass of wine, and we spent
the next couple of hours talking about climbing—a universal language.
Sitting around the campfire, shooting stars overhead, we spoke about
religion and politics, culture, and climbing. We sipped outrageously
sweet tea that Shuayb Twassi, a terrific guide from Petra, had prepared
on a nest of three rocks. The next day, I went camel riding—something
I’d do everyday if I lived there. I took the reins from a young boy who
was helping his father and uncles. I’m comfortable on a camel, and I
smiled as it sprinted of across the desert, threatening to toss me of like
a scene in Lawrence of Arabia. I grasped the reigns more tightly. Looking down, I saw they’d been made of an old climbing rope. //
Nancy Prichard-Bouchard, Ph.D., is a longtime climber, writer, and
risk-management expert. She has written about climbing, gear, and adventure travel for more than two decades and has established the firstever Middle East Climbing Team (sponsored by Five Ten). She thanks
Mohammad Hammad, Hakim Tamimi-Marino, Safa Muhi, Mai Turki, Tony Howard, Wilfried Colonna, Bassam Kubba, Sushi Firas, Elad
Omer, Amy Jurries, and Shuayb Twaissi for their contributions.

just with a good-natured
feeling. Overall, it’s quite
strenuous despite some easier
sections. Be prepared for
exposed passages, especially
for the following climber, due
to numerous traverses. The
quality of the rock is good.
Slings and pins are in place.
For competent parties only. It
has been climbed in less than
four hours, but you should
plan on at least twice that.

OR 5.11B A1)
West Face of Nassraniya
North Tower
18 pitches

A 30-minute hike from Rum
Village in morning shade.
Its name is a French pun,
meaning “with the wind.” It
was pioneered by two French
climbers from the Pyrenees
mountain range between
France and Spain. It’s a very
beautiful and powerful climb
of great caliber, and an incredible contribution to the world
of climbing. It’s serious and
sustained with some exposed
passages in the middle of a
huge wall that offers nearly
every quality of the local
baroque sandstone. Some
specific gear is required: two
large skyhooks, hammer, and

a few pins, as well as a hand
drill, in case of some damaged
pins or bolts, and numerous
slings. Descend by Hikers
Road, 10 minutes away from
the finish, or by the more
straightforward rappels of
Jihad on the east side afer
a summit hike of 35 to 40
minutes. There are some
cairns to locate the start of
the rappels.

Colonna’s guidebook Rock
Climbing Guide to Wadi Rum
and Jordan (the second for
the area) will be available
this winter for the upcoming
climbing season.


| 79


and we’ll be the first to say that we like that. Innovation is cool. Without
brilliant minds chasing solutions to the challenges and risks of climbing and
the outdoors, we wouldn’t have the spring-loaded camming device, sticky
rubber, or dynamic nylon ropes. We’d be wetter, colder, hungrier, and more
weighed down. Many bold ascents, whether 5.15a sport or a grade VI alpine
wall, wouldn’t have happened at all.
But we’d be remiss if we didn’t recognize the certain class of gear and
products that have more staying power than others. This is the stuff that
invented new categories, reinvented old ones, broke weight barriers, and
defined what quality and performance really mean. Not to mention that
some of these products have consistently beaten the competition for
more than 20 years. To celebrate that best-loved gear, the stuff that’s in a
class all its own, we created a new award: Editors’ Choice Classic. This year,
we’re inducting 11 top picks into this hall of fame.


Most versatile puffy jacket ever
➝We weren’t sure what to make of this wispy, synthetic-fill
jacket when it came out in 2009; puffy jackets were supposed
to be just that—puffy—and this iteration looked too thin for
real use. But it soon found its way into our packs and onto our
backs every season; it’s a midlayer in extreme cold and an outer
layer when the temps start to dip. Might as well be our uniform.
It’s light (10.1 oz. for the men’s medium), packs small (grapefruit
size), and pleasantly warm for the weight; plus, the 60 grams of
PrimaLoft One insulation will still keep you toasty even after
it’s been dampened in an afternoon storm. “It brings me peace
of mind when the sun sinks low and I’m still on the wall.” The
pullover version with a half-zip is the original model that kicked
off the now-popular super-light puffy category, and a full-zip
jacket came out in 2010. Designers were forward-thinking from
the get-go, as the only changes over the years have been small
updates to its overall fit. Many members of our expert panel
have the same jacket they got almost five years ago, and they
still use it and abuse it year-round. “I’ve had half a dozen jackets
that try to mimic the Nano Puff,” one user said, “but I reach
for my beloved Nano for every objective, every season, every
year.” It delivers the perfect balance of warmth for the weight.
The slim profile layers well underneath a shell, or you can wear
it as your outermost piece for windproof protection and solid
water resistance, thanks to a DWR coating. Pack it into its own
pocket, clip it on your harness, and go. Plus, with Patagonia’s
stellar lifetime guarantee, you can return it at anytime if it rips,
tears, or otherwise degrades.


Most popular assisted-braking belay device—
and the best
➝“Duh” was the common response from
our expert panel when asked why the Grigri
was deserving. With the promise of additional stopping power after its 1991 release,
the Grigri changed the sport climbing world,
and it created a brand-new category: assisted-braking belay devices. When the climber
falls or the rope is jerked upward, an inner
cam engages and pinches the rope to stop
it from moving. It was no replacement for a
good belayer, but now sport climbers could
hang on the rope as much as they wanted
without fear of overly fatiguing their belayers. “It brought a whole new level of safety
to climbing,” according to one 30-yearveteran climber. Although it shines in the
bolt-clipping department, you’d be mistaken
not to try it out for other disciplines. One
nominator said he doesn’t go multi-pitch
climbing without his Grigri, whether he’s
belaying a second off the anchor, jugging, or

82 | AUGUST 20 14

lowering out on an aid pitch. That includes
every big wall first ascent and climbing
expedition (50+) he’s ever done. After 20
years of success, Petzl updated the original
design in 2011, making it 25 percent smaller
and 20 percent lighter than the original
version, with the same braking power; the
new version, cleverly dubbed the Grigri 2,
is also compatible with ropes from 8.9mm
to 11mm, to keep up with ever narrowing
cords. Of course, the development of a new
product coincided with the development of
bad habits and climbing accidents due to improper use, so a few years before the release
of the Grigri 2, Petzl stepped up its efforts
to educate the public on the correct usage
through videos and posters hung in climbing
gyms. Check out for tips.


The benchmark for cooking efficiency
➝“Simply put, it’s the best stove for the vertical alpine.” Big wallers, alpinists, and guides have been singing the
praises of the Reactor and its “unparalleled efficiency, smart nesting of burner/pot/canister, perfect size for a
small alpine party, and ideal performance in strong winds” since it came out in 2007. The Heat Exchanger Pot
nestles around the burner for maximum stove-pot contact and minimal wind interference, which makes it very
fast and efficient. One guide who has more than 2,000 alpine meals under his belt said, “My only complaint
is that sometimes I don’t even have time to get my dinner pouch open and poured into my bowl before the
water is boiling!” The biggest change since it hit the market seven years ago was a 2008 update in the manufacturing process of the original one-liter pot, which shaved about two ounces, but recent accessory additions
of a hanging kit and a French press adapter (called “absolute godsends” and “pure genius” by fans) mean this
little cooker now does even more. Some stoves might have slightly faster boiling times than the Reactor’s 3.5
minutes (one liter), and others might have the ability to use more types of fuel, but none of those setups has
the time-tested performance in all types of conditions that the Reactor has had with our testers. With the
addition of two more sizes—1.7 liters and 2.5 liters—this stove has earned its place in history.


The missing link that fits where
nothing else will

➝Climbing shoes have a huge turnover rate within the gear market; every year there are at least a
dozen new sticky-rubber kicks to choose from. So for a rock shoe to stick around for more than
20 years—with no major updates or changes or dropping out of the line entirely—that’s a strong
testament to its tried and true performance. While we don’t have any solid statistics on this, we
feel comfortable saying that the majority of climbers we know have owned at least one pair of La
Sportiva Mythos in their lives. Designed by the genius Italian cobblers of La Sportiva, the Mythos
offers versatility, comfort, and performance in a package that fits almost every foot. “The only
thing I don’t use the shoes for is climbing overhanging sport routes, but I’ve still seen people crush
5.12 roofs with the Mythos!” said one tester. By keeping your foot in a flat position and wrapping
it in cozy, unlined leather, the Mythos are ridiculously easy to wear all day while keeping your feet
happy. The unique lacing system actually wraps the laces around the back of the foot to keep it
in position within the shoe, without needing a skin-tight fit. A narrow, pointed toe means you’ll
still get a moderate amount of performance on face climbs, and rubber that comes up about two
inches all the way around the foot means these are absolutely ideal for crack climbing. In 2011, La
Sportiva produced 1,000 pairs of a 20th Anniversary Gold Edition Mythos for the truly dedicated.
Despite Climbing’s original review in September 1991 that said, “Half [the testers] liked them, the
other half didn’t,” we wouldn’t be surprised if we’re still celebrating this shoe 10 years from now.

➝Greg Lowe invented Tricams in 1973, and even 33 years
after they finally hit the market in 1981, they are still one of a
kind. Although Tricams are technically passive pro (no moving parts), their shape and design enable them to cam into
a crack when downward force is applied. They have proven
themselves invaluable in horizontal cracks, shallow pockets, and otherwise funky placements, and they quickly
gained a following in places like the Shawangunks of
New York and Looking Glass Rock in North Carolina.
The most popular size is the 0.5 pink, but what
is it about the pink that gets trad climbers so
riled up? Maybe it’s the versatility: “Very few
routes I climb don’t see the placement of this
small dude.” Maybe it’s the price: “And it’s so
cheap!” Or maybe it’s just intangible devotion: “I love that little guy.” Whatever
it is, people love the pink Tricam, like
love it. So much so that one devotee
wrote an entire poem dedicated
to the half-inch passive pro,
including the line: “They sink
where other gear won’t go.
When all you’ve got is manky
pro, this Tricam saves your
butt from woe.” One
committed user summed
it up well, saying, “It
just fits where nothing
else will.”





The one shoe every climber should own


| 83


The only crashpad you’ll
ever need


Climbers’ choice for top all-around cams
➝They weren’t the first. They’re not the lightest. They’re not the newest. But sometimes being the best isn’t
about those things. And our numbers don’t lie: The Camalot C4’s were unanimously voted in as the best midrange cams by our panel of experts. “Everyone knows the sizes and corresponding colors, unlike other brands,”
one devotee said. “Most racks are built with the Camalot C4.” Designed by Tony Christianson, Julio Varela, and
Honk Kyu Kwak in the mid-1980s, the Camalot had a distinct advantage over earlier spring-loaded camming
devices in the form of a double-axle design, which greatly increased the camming range of each individual
unit, meaning one piece could fit more crack sizes. Chouinard Equipment, which became Black Diamond,
began marketing them as Camalots (so-named from various employee suggestions) in fall 1987, and three major
updates later, Camalots are still the gold standard for trad climbers. Camalots have easier, smoother trigger action, slot into placements faster, hold better in shallow cracks, and both the metal of the lobes and wires and
the nylon of the slings last longer. We do love the flexible stems of Aliens, the narrow heads of Metolius Master Cams, and the groundbreaking innovation of Wild Country Friends, but the C4’s have the best all-around
performance and durability. Twenty-seven years after their first appearance, one climber says he’s still “having a
love affair with these Batman tools for the vertical world.”

➝In 2003, sponsored climber Josh Helke and
his wife, Liz, were climbing full-time in Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado. When their favorite
gear companies started to outsource production outside the U.S., they noticed a huge
drop in quality, especially with the amount of
daily abuse they were putting on their pads.
With zero sewing experience, Helke started
constructing pads in a spare room in their
rental house in Laramie, Wyoming, and after a
few gear awards from various climbing publications (including Climbing), the orders were
coming in faster than the small team could
fill. For seven years, climbers have loved the
high quality, durability, and performance of
the Organic Full Pad: “It has become the pad
by which all other pads are measured.” The 36”
x 48” landing zone offers a sizeable coverage
area, and the four inches of foam spreads and
cushions the impact in a perfect balance. With
a comfortable hipbelt and shoulder straps, it’s
easy to carry, even on steep approaches to the
best alpine areas, and simple hook-and-loop
buckles make packing and unpacking a breeze.
Color and design customization is a muchloved option, ranging from just picking out
the colors to you-create-it graphics. “Every
boulderer I know swears by their Organic
mats,” one fan said. “Many of them wouldn’t
even think of buying—or landing on—anything else.”


An approach shoe in its purest form
➝A small slip on the descent from Sentinel Rock in
Yosemite in July 1985, was enough to launch Five Ten
as a company, approach shoes as a gear category,
and sticky rubber as a necessity for climbing. Charles
Cole revolutionized the climbing world in 1986 with
his creation of Stealth high-friction rubber, and then
he did it again when he slapped it on the bottom of
the Five Tennie to give climbers better traction when
traveling to and from climbs. Although the Five Tennie
was relatively successful, the uppers fell apart easily,
so climbers would take the rubber from them and put
it on their climbing shoes. Since that model lacked
the burl and brawn that climbers truly needed, Five
Ten answered the call with the Guide Tennie in 1995.
“I have worn them religiously since they came out,”

84 | AUGUST 2 014

one climber said. “Who doesn’t?” The dot pattern on
the sole was the first of its kind, and it proved to offer
the highest friction and most purchase on slick, slabby
rock, while the flat zone up near the toe provided a
climbing area for edging. A snug fit and rubber up over
the toe means you can climb moderate routes, jam
cracks, and do technical scrambling with ease, and a
thick but breathable upper protects your feet without
succumbing to abuse. And they’ve gotten better with
age—now they come in a canvas low-top, leather
low-top, and a leather high-top. “You simply cannot
get a better approach, scramble, easy-climbing, big
wall, and everyday shoe.”





The most powerful beta database ever

The original lightweight helmet
continues to innovate

➝It weighs nothing. It can be zapped to
your phone in seconds and viewed offline.
It’s stuffed with beta for more than 113,000
sport routes, boulder problems, trad, ice,
and mixed climbs, complete with photos,
current conditions, access, and approach
details. And it’s free. Not so long ago, the
very idea would have been laughable. The
Mountain Project App transformed the
climbing-guidebook world when it launched
for iPhone in 2011 and then Android in 2012.
The constantly growing database started as
an online resource for the climbing around
Boulder, Colorado, and quickly grew to
include climbing areas across the country
and world. Reader-contributed comments
and photos offered unique beta, forums
connected our tribe from Maine to Alaska,
and the site quickly grew to be the onestop shop for all things climbing. That was
all well and good when sitting at home or in
a coffee shop, but the moment you headed
out to climb, all that beautiful data became
useless. The app solved that by allowing you to download the info you need
when you do have service, and then it lives on your phone so you can access
it when you don’t. Pure genius. Route descriptions, rack info, photos, approach
and descent beta, and even reader comments are all included. The app was free
when it launched, but as the user base grew, Mountain Project started charging
a small $5/year subscription fee. With the recent sponsorship by Black Diamond,
the app is free again, and you can download specific areas as you go, deleting
others if necessary so you don’t eat up your phone’s memory.

➝In 1997, the Meteor was
the first helmet on the market to use expanded polystyrene (EPS) as its primary
means of absorbing impact.
The big benefit for climbers?
Comfort gains and weight
savings—two key influencers for climbers wearing a
helmet. It’s been through
several evolutions since,
and remains one of the
best-performing and most
popular lids out there. While
the original version looked
like a child’s bike helmet,
the current version is sleek
and easy to wear, with more
than a dozen vents for breathability. It weighs only 7.8 ounces—not the
lightest, but it’s close—and it has a nice array of features. “When a helmet
is this comfortable and airy, there’s no reason not to always be wearing it.”
It offers ample top, front, back, and side protection, and the sliding-ratchet
harness system makes the Meteor super-simple to adjust for a variety of
head shapes and sizes. The newest iteration has a magnetic buckle that
makes strapping it on quick and easy, even with just one hand or big gloves.
Compatible with both a headlamp and Petzl’s Vizion eye shield, the Meteor
is ideal for any type of climbing, from sport cragging to mountaineering. For
more info on the current state of helmet usage within the climbing community, how helmets are designed and tested—and what needs to change—
check out our in-depth story:






A burly, ultra-light, do-it-all belay device
➝There’s a reason you can just say “ATC,” and every climber will know you mean a tube-style
belay/rappel device. Sorta like how you can ask for a “Coke” and people know you mean soda.
It’s so widely used that its proper name has nearly taken over the entire genre. The original
Air Traffic Controller was an immediate hit when it was released in 1993, and its offspring, this
auto-blocking tube-style belay device, added the ability to belay a follower directly off the
anchor. This increased versatility resulted in the ATC-Guide becoming a part of damn near
every trad climber’s rack since it was released in 2005. Because the original design was so
successful, it has seen very little updating, other than losing a few grams in 2009; the current
weight is 3.1 ounces. There are plenty of competitors, but the ATC-Guide leads the category
in performance and durability. Climbers we polled prefer this model over others because it’s
beefier, lasts longer, and loads ropes easier. “Ultra-top-notch-deluxe sums it up right there!” is
what one psyched gear expert had to say. Another called it “the device that all other tubers
copy.” A side-by-side comparison of popular auto-blockers showed that the Black Diamond
version had more bite on the rope, and it was easier to lower a climber when belaying off the
anchor on a multi-pitch.


| 85


Should You Bail?

SOMETIMES THINGS DON’T GO QUITE AS PLANNED. For whatever reason, you may find yourself in a situation where you’re considering cutting your losses and getting off the wall or backing down from that summit. While this is usually the safest bet, it’s also the
least fun, and you may have to leave behind gear in the process. Here’s how to make the call.
Note: This guide can’t cover every situation (the summit has free pizza [don’t bail], new episode of “Game of Thrones” is on in an hour [bail], climbing partner has
terrible gas [complain, but keep climbing], etc.,) so develop and use your own good judgment.

It’s getting

Storm’s a
I’m injured.
Do you have time to
make it to the ground
before it hits?


What does that mean?

No, it’s
pretty much

I can’t do
this move.

I’m scared.


I got a
flapper on
my fingie.


Getting benighted is a climber’s
rite of passage,
which is a nice
way of saying it
sucks. Bail.

Do you have


Have you tried
it before?

Climb by


No. It’s a runout, above a
ledge, on bad
gear, or I’m
free soloing.

five times.

Bail. You have no choice
but to go to the bar.
Kiss it. Is it all better?

One more try. Then
you can bail.

Find a sheltered spot on the wall to wait it out and
get cozy with your partner. You may need to cuddle
for warmth. It helps to pretend they’re someone more


Is it in a safe spot to fall?

Stop being a baby. Tape
it up and climb.
Gaping head
wound and/
or broken


88 | AUGUST 2 014

I’m scared because
I’m high above the
ground, hanging on a
sheer rock wall with
my bare hands.

I’m way out of
my league. I don’t
know what I’m
doing up here.

That’s your body’s natural response to
rock climbing. Suck it up and climb on.


Bail. Come
back and
try again



Do you have your copy of Freedom
of the Hills on the wall with you?

No bailing until you’ve tried it! You
might surprise yourself. And if you
don’t, you’ll have a good whipper to
brag about at the bar later.

Bail. You’re in no place to
be figuring this stuff out.

Paige Claassen on a rare female ascent of the America’s first 5.14, To Bolt or Not to Be, at Smith Rock, OR - Photo: Rich Crowder


big lockoff

delicate feet

worst crimp
RF step thru

2 finger gaston


high stem RF

giant lockoff
smooth surf



keep feet low


RF way out

1st 10 bolts beta

step thru
smear match


A harness designed by a woman for women. The Supernova is the brainchild of athlete
Paige Claassen who worked with CAMP R&D for two years to merge the elements of fit
and features for elite female climbers. In the end, the Supernova is packed with exclusive
features like a specially contoured waist belt that cups to the female form, modified
edge-load construction to perfectly distribute the load, and our patented No-Twist belay
loop and Flat Link elastic connecting the waist belt and leg loops.

Available at specialty outdoor retailers nationwide.



- 100% re-soleable.
- Special click-clamp eyelets for more secure, custom ft.
- Vari-volume ft adaption feature by way of removeable
tongue as well as additional footbeds supplied.
- 100% waterproof with Gore-Tex®.
- Elevated Brim: using an all-round handcrafted rubber
rand to protect from scree and rocks and increases
stability and durability.
- Extremely lightweight (950 g size UK 7).
- Thermal insoluation down to -20º C.
- Vibram* Alpin outsole features torsionally stiff sole,
crampon compatible.
- Features internal boot.