"If it runs out, we can deal with it." James Pearson is one of the strongest climbers from the UK. In this profile, he explains what it means to be a British climber (one word: bold). Other highlights include Pearson's openness about what it takes to get sponsored, and how training changed the sport for him.
This year's American Bouldering Series (ABS) Women's National Championship saw impressive showings from a roster of super-strong women, including the usual suspects Alex Puccio, Angie Payne, Alex Johnson, German Juliane Wurm, and youngsters Margo Hayes, Grace McKeehan, and Megan Mascarenas. Despite the tight competition throughout qualifiers, semifinals, and finals, defending champion Puccio and Wurm both topped three problems, which put them in the lead. Wurm beat Puccio in points, but because Wurm is a foreign national, Puccio was able to claim her eighth-straight ABS Nationals title.
With a stacked lineup that featured Daniel Woods, Vasya Vorotnikov, Jon Cardwell, Paul Robinson, and youngbloods Michael O’Rourke and Andy Lamb, this year's American Bouldering Series (ABS) Men's National Championship saw strong moves and fierce competition. In the end, no one could stop defending champion Daniel Woods. He won all three rounds and took his eighth consecutive championship. Vorotnikov and Lamb placed second and third, respectively.
In this video, ice climber and mountain guide John Freeman is climbing a free-hanging ice pillar in Canada when it collapses. Freeman had not yet placed a screw, which world-renowned ice climber and friend Will Gadd credits with saving his life. Gadd is a proponent of protection-free pillar climbing, saying on his blog, "If you can’t lead a piece of free-hanging or free-standing ice without putting screws into it, then you shouldn’t be on it."
We spoke with Freeman about his experience and how it's affected him.
Where did this take place?
On the Icefield Parkway #93N in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada.
What route is this? Was it established, or would this have been the first ascent?
This dagger was at Ice Nine, touching the ground and separate from where that route forms. It formed over a mixed route called "Bacon" that tops out to the left of pitch one of Ice Nine. I had the mindset that it was an unclimbed line or variation, but maybe that's splitting hairs. Either way, it was a beautiful piece of ice. I would estimate it at WI7 X if it hadn't collapsed. It required all of my climbing skill and technique just to get on it and climb for the first 20 feet.
Any estimate on how high were you at the point when the ice broke?
I would estimate that I was 15 to 18 meters (50 to 60 feet) above the ground that I landed on. There was a good steep angle to the area directly below the ice that deflected me and the collapsing ice down the slope. I was spun onto my back and traveled about 200 feet down that slope before I came to a stop.
Has this experience changed your approach to climbing ice?
The possibility that a large, unsupported feature of ice can collapse is more than just theory for me. The sound of the collapse is what really invades my mind when I'm climbing. I just finished three days of guiding work in temps nearing -30°C, and the ice was making all kinds of noises. Tension releases in the ice scared the hell out of me the whole season after this incident. I've worked through that now. That's why I do so much mixed climbing now...
I have also become more attuned to the ice and how I climb it.
Do you still climb freestanding pillars?
I do. I would have to say that this thing was more of a dagger since it only just touched down. There was no support from the ground. I actually felt the climb flex in the first third. I am very selective when climbing pillars. I'm way more likely to walk away than before.
I've read a few comments on the internet today, and some folks have made assumptions about the conditions. The reality is that these type of features are challenging to gauge since there is a lot at play and we will always have incomplete information. My climbing partner and I spent some time trying to assess the route. For this this type of feature, the uncertainty factor is high!
A challenging part for me to deal with at first (beside nearly killing myself), was that I believe that my lapse in situational awareness was at play and contributed to the collapse. Watching how hard I was swinging at the end, compared to the rest of the climb, is amazing. The intensity of the climbing pushed me to forget that I was at the most crucial point in the climb and needed to keep the gentle technique going. That being said, I had no illusions about the fact that I had accepted a very high level of risk while climbing this dagger. This shit is dangerous.
I'm thrilled to get the chance to live and learn form this.
In this video, Sean McColl talks about his experience at the 2014 Hueco Rock Rodeo in El Paso, Texas. Boulder problems include: Better Build Your Woodies (V11), Crown Royale (V13), Nagual (V13), and more.
John Carr captures stunning footage of climbers in Finale Ligure, Italy, or what he calls "Magic Italy."
In this film, featuring in the summer 2014, several climbers explore the boulder problems in the off-the-grid regions of southern Colorado.
After four days of hard work in Leavenworth, Washington last fall, Carlo Traversi made the first ascent of The Penrose Step (V14), now the most difficult boulder problem in the state.
This trailer previews the American Bouldering Series 15 National Championships, where the top professionals will compete for medals on February 21 and 22, 2014 in Colorado Springs, CO.
Beware: Palm-sweating WILL occur. Cedar Wright follows Alex Honnold as he prepares to free solo the massive 2,500-foot 5.12d in El Potrero Chico, Mexico.
Check out Jimmy Webb's moves in Hueco Tanks, where he repeats Blood of a Young Wolf (V14) and tries some new problems, including Out of the Furnace (V10) and Bonsai (V14).
Last year, Gord Konkin, Gerry Chow, and Conrad Piper-Ruth visited the Valle De Las Rocas of Southern Bolivia, a 14,000 foot expanse of climbing heaven yet to be fully explored. Check out the beautiful footage these guys captured.