Base Camp Blog
This is the place to get the inside scoop from Climbing's editors. In these pages, the editors share their unvarnished opinions on the day's news, favorite climbs, recent trips, and the gear that we use when we're out climbing.
  • featured-image

    The True Cost of #Vanlife

    One thing that has always frustrated me about social media documentation of hashtag-van-life is the lack of transparency when it comes to money. We see these rad adventure mobiles parked in beautiful locales, captioned with some quote about how the mountains are calling, buying the ticket to take the ride, maximizing your one wild and precious life, or being mad to live, mad to talk, and mad to be saved. Poor Jack Kerouac and Mary Oliver didn't know their words would become the mantra of entitled trustafarians with a penchant for the Lo-Fi filter on Instagram. Yes, you have a rad van, a hot outdoorsy significant other, and the ability to climb anywhere, but how exactly are you paying for that? I'm not talking karma points in life; I'm talking cold, hard cash. As I've started dipping my toes in this world of what I call “regular extended mobility” (aka spending a few weeks at a time in my van every month), I decided I want to share my experiences as openly as possible, to help other van-dwelling hopefuls understand what it really takes to be part of this idealized but sometimes oversimplified community.

  • HPFlow514

    Flowchart: Why Aren't You Climbing 5.14?

    5.14 represents the pinnacle of our sport. Sure, there’s 5.15 and someday there will probably be 5.16, but 5.14 separates the good from the great. It’s the grade that puts you in the top 1% of climbers. You can’t just be-tall your way past cruxes at this level. You need to have flawless technique, and you need to be really, really f***ing strong, physically and mentally. Few ever achieve it. In fact, according to our reader survey (Climbing No. 331), the majority of climbers believe 5.12 will be the hardest they’ll climb in their lifetime. But loftier grades are certainly possible with enough time and dedication. So why aren’t you climbing 5.14?

  • Answer Man: Smelly Shoes are Ruining My Relationship

    Answer Man: Smelly Shoes are Ruining My Relationship

    Answer Man answers your burning questions about climber etiquette, customs, and values. This time: stinky shoes, warm-ups, and good skin.

  • Running Out of Gas: The Climbers' Solution

    Running Out of Gas: The Climbers' Solution

    A slick road trip trick: How to restart your car when you run out of gas, using supplies that are already in the car.

  • No Excuses: Two Heavy Climbers Who Crushed

    No Excuses: Two Heavy Climbers Who Crushed

    Some say our sport is obsessed with weight, and it’s hard to argue against that. Climbers look for any way they can to shed poundage, from dropping $50 on a chalk bag that weighs 0.00007 ounces to undertaking diets fit only for a fasting monk. I hear some climbers don’t even drink beer these days! If you have that voice in your head telling you that your project would go down if you dropped five pounds, here's something that’ll shut it right up.

  • 10 Rules for Climbing Photography

    10 Rules for Climbing Photography

    As the photo editor for Climbing magazine, I’ve spent countless hours of my life click-click-clicking through climbing photos to find the best of the best for our print publication. I’ve seen images that range from goosebump-inducing, palm-sweating, mind-blowing greatness to eye-assaulting, soul-crushing lameness. We all know climbing is a breathtaking, visually stunning activity that takes us to incredible places—hell, aesthetics of the places and the people (yes, we’re an attractive brood) are probably half the reason most of you climb anyway. But oddly enough, it’s pretty damn hard to capture the joie de vivre of climbing with just the press of a shutter button. Of course, there’s much more that goes into it: humping 50 lbs. of metal and rigging gear up steep cliffs to faraway crags, waking up before the sun to nail that magic light, spending hours in front of a screen perfecting color and tone, forgoing personal climbing goals to jug ropes instead, sitting in a harness until your lower half goes numb and your kidneys are squeezed into your chest... But I digress.

  • Is Your Climbing Trip Worth the Drive? Do the Math

    Is Your Climbing Trip Worth the Drive? Do the Math

    How much climbing do you need to do to justify a road trip? For weekend warriors, calculating whether it’s worth the time, gas money, and neglected chores to drive to a distant crag can be a tough assignment. Fortunately, there are formulas for that.

  • Are You a Real Rock Climber?

    Are You a Real Rock Climber?

    There are a lot of gumbies these days that call themselves rock climbers, but only climb in the gym. That’s bullshit. They’re not real rock climbers, and we all know it. Or are they? They do ascend rock-like surfaces using only their strength and cunning to overcome gravity. But it’s not rock. It’s plastic. On the other hand, some of the world’s best competition climbers rarely touch real rock, and there’s no question that the ones that top the podium are climbers, right? So let’s settle this once and for all. What’s actually rock climbing?

  • Re-Gram: Show Us Your #SummitPhoto

    Re-Gram: Show Us Your #SummitPhoto

    We want to see your summit photo! Post a picture on Instagram and tag it with #summitphoto. If your photo is among our favorites, we'll contact you about featuring it in an upcoming issue of our print edition. No Instagram account? No problem. Email us.

  • The Wright Stuff What Valley Uprising Missed

    The Wright Stuff: What Valley Uprising Missed

    For me, part of the allure of Yosemite climbing is its rich and diverse history and the fact that, if you are dedicated and obsessed enough, you might just get to add to it. So, because I love Yosemite and its rich tradition of motley but masterful misfits, I have assembled a timeline of what are, in my opinion, key moments that “Valley Uprising” missed.

  • HPSemiRadBeta

    Semi-Rad: Do You Want Some Beta?

    OK, if you step up on that right foot, then reach up with the left hand, there’s a good sidepull. Feel it? No, it’s up higher. A little higher. Your hand should be on it. OK, yeah, it’s not that great, you’re right. You can get a full pad of all your fingers on it, can’t you? OK, no, you’re right, maybe three of them. Not full pads, just tips. Anyway, it’s good. I mean, it’s pretty good. Yeah, so pull on that, transfer your weight to your right foot, and just over that little mini-roof on your right is a crimp. You really have to stretch for it, but it’s up there. That’s it.

  • HPAnswerManShirtless

    Ask Answer Man: Why Can't I Boulder Shirtless With a Beanie?

    Answer Man answers your burning questions about climber etiquette, customs, and values. This time: shirtless bouldering, crag littering, and gear maintenance.

  • HPRegramGearCloset

    Re-Gram: Show Us Your #GearCloset

    We want to see your gear closet! Post a picture on Instagram and tag it with #gearcloset. If your photo is among our favorites, we'll contact you about featuring it in an upcoming issue of our print edition. No Instagram account? No problem. Email us.

  • SROndraRotator

    Semi-Rad: Are You Climbing Enough?

    Not Climbing Enough Lately is a significant problem in the climbing community, and according to my totally unscientific research, it affects 99 percent of climbers at all times.

  • HPDWallInternet

    Dawn Wall Highlights From Around the Internet

    It's been a lot of fun following the Dawn Wall story over the past few weeks. It's also been a lot of fun watching the mainstream media coverage surrounding it. Here are a few highlights from the past week.

  • HPDWallNewspaperHeadlines

    Dawn Wall Headlines From Across the Country

    It's not often our sport makes national news, but the excitement surrounding Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson's first free ascent of the Dawn Wall has crossed into the mainstream. Here's a selection of today's front page headlines about the historic climb from across the country.

  • HPDawnWallCoverage

    Our Complete 2014/2015 Dawn Wall Coverage

    Collected news and videos from Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson's current push up the Dawn Wall.

  • HPWrightStuffStoneNudes

    The Wright Stuff: Behind the Scenes of Stone Nudes (NSFW)

    I was watching a man’s dream crumble before my eyes. “It’s over,” Dean “Bullwinkle” Fidelman, creator of the black and white nude bouldering calendar Stone Nudes, said with tears welling up in his eyes. “I’ve lost my funding.” With Dean’s yearly income in the very low five figures—mostly thanks to Stone Nudes—it was looking like a four-figure year.

  • HPRegramWhip

    Re-Gram: Show Us Your #Whipper

    As much as we may try to avoid them, it's hard not to take a good whipper once in a while when you're pushing yourself on a hard route. If you're lucky, a friend will catch the carnage on camera. Do you have a photo of yourself going airborne? We want to see! Post a picture on Instagram and tag it with #whipper. If your photo is among our favorites, we'll contact you about featuring it in an upcoming issue of our print edition.

  • HPFlowAccidentSmall

    Flowchart: Are You a Climbing Accident Waiting to Happen?

    We recently presented an array of hero climbers. These are selfless people who went above and beyond to ensure the s safety of others, sometimes at their own peril. And then there are the climbing liabilities. They’re cavalier about essential safety practices. They get themselves in over their heads. And they don’t know what to do when things go wrong. Follow the chart below to find out if you’re the kind of climber that gets people into trouble—or out of it.

  • HPInterviewWedding

    Interview: The Ultimate Climber Wedding

    Brian and Mandy Fabel threw out the usual wedding-day worries and replaced them with a 10-mile bike ride, 25-mile hike, and 9 pitches of climbing (x2).

  • FBPunting

    Semi-Rad: The Accidental Art of Punting

    Punting: Long days full of mistakes—getting off route, getting rap ropes stuck, getting lost on the approach, and generally just taking longer than usual—but not quite having an epic.

  • HPTat

    Re-Gram: Show Us Your #ClimbingTattoo

    Do you have climbing-related ink on your body? We want to see! Post a picture on Instagram and tag it with #climbingtattoo. If your photo is among our favorites, we'll contact you about featuring it in an upcoming issue of our print edition.

  • PactHP

    Commit to The Pact - Ensure Climbing Access for Years to Come

    Our sport is growing rapidly. Climbers are arriving at crags across the country in ever-increasing numbers. While this is great in many ways, it also puts a strain on the fragile environment in which we test ourselves. Our friends at the Access Fund have laid out this list of practices to minimize impact, protect our crags, and ensure they stay open to climbing for years to come. The Climbing staff has signed the pact to maintain these principles, and we urge you to do the same.

  • HPTheFlowTowns

    Flowchart: Which Climber Town Do You Belong In?

    Follow this handy flowchart to find out which climber-town fits your personality best, then move there.

  • HPalien

    Join Climbing Magazine for an AMA on Reddit Today at 2:30 pm MDT

    Today Climbing Magazine's editorial staff will be answering questions on Reddit's r/climbing community beginning at 2:30 pm MDT. If you have any burning questions about climbing, magazines, climbing magazines, Climbing magazine, anything else, or you just need a distraction at work, then stop by and hang out with us for a bit!

  • HPamtoenailsbig

    Ask Answer Man: Clipping Your Toenails in the Gym is Gross, Right?

    Answer Man answers your burning questions about climber etiquette, customs, and values. This time: gym hygiene, booty, and the nuances of "sending."

  • HPCR

    The Wright Stuff: Climbers And Climate Change

    Recently, the White House (seriously, the White House, the one on Pennsylvania Avenue) reached out to a bunch of climbers to help raise awareness of climate change through the social media hashtag #ActOnClimate. In the words of the Environmental Protection Agency, “Climate change is a serious threat to the health and welfare of American families.” They want to encourage people to take “common-sense action to reduce carbon pollution and promote a cleaner energy economy.” The outreach was timed with Obama’s move to cut carbon pollution from power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels.

  • HPBail

    Flowchart: 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.

  • HPSpeedJan

    Video: First-Person Speed Climbing With Jan Kriz

    Jan Kriz from the Czech Republic recently took first place in the junior division for speed climbing at the IFSC World Youth Championships. Here's what it looks like to run up a wall from his perspective.

  • HPDong

    Semi-Rad: Long, Hard Routes

    “I think every climber needs to summit something super, super phallic at least once,” I said to a friend on a raft trip last fall, for absolutely no reason at all. As soon as the words left my mouth, I realized I’ve really only climbed one desert tower and a couple other things that are somewhat schlong-like, and they were more sword-like than schlong-like, if I’m being completely honest. Am I even, by my own definition, a real climber if I haven’t climbed anything that looks like a, well, you know? I should make plans to go up Castleton Tower or at least Owl Rock soon, right?

  • HPCaldwood

    Re-Gram: Show Us Your #homeclimbingwall

    Have you built your own home climbing wall? We want to see it! It doesn't matter if it's a classic woody, a tree with some holds nailed to it, or an entire grain solo set up for toproping. All are welcome. Post a picture on Instagram and tag it with #homeclimbingwall. If your photo is among our favorites, we'll contact you about featuring it in an upcoming issue of our print edition.

  • Supercrack

    Semi-Rad: The Joy of Sloproping

    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 off, 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.”

  • HPAnswerMan

    Ask Answer Man: How Do I Find a Good Climbing Partner?

    Answer Man answers your burning questions about climber etiquette, customs, and values. This time: finding partners, belay glasses, and crag pooping.

  • HPFlowchart

    Flowchart: Should You Let That Rando Belay You?

    You’re at the crag. You’re tied in. You’re ready to climb. At that very moment, your belayer’s breakfast burrito comes back with a vengeance. He runs off to take care of business (using LNT practices, of course). Across the crag, a lone climber spots you. He sprints at full speed, brandishing a belay device, and yelling, “Need a belay?” You do, but should you let this random person belay you?

  • HPAM

    Ask Answer Man: Why Do So Many Strong Climbers Have Hunchbacks?

    Answer Man answers your burning questions about climber etiquette, customs, and values. This time: hunchbacks, dry ropes, and kids in the gym.

  • HPWrightSS

    The Wright Stuff: Stanley Style

    "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."

  • HPUnBlyVblE

    Unbelayvable Archives: Scary (And True) Tales From A Crag Near You

    Every Monday we publish the most unbelievable stories of climbing stupidity submitted by our readers. Here are the collected links to every edition of Unbelayvable. The list is updated as new columns are published.

  • HPSR

    Semi-Rad: The Fear Factor

    I can’t remember the holds at the beginning of Barbecue the Pope (5.10b) at Smith Rock, just the indecision: I definitely had one more heady move to do before I could clip the first bolt, 20 feet off the deck. I looked down to my right, then to my left, and thought, Wow, that’s actually a really good landing, all things considered. I looked up at the bolt and tried to figure out the move, and then I imagined the results of a fall if my foot slipped. It wasn’t pretty.

  • HPAM

    Ask Answer Man: Can I Wear A POV Camera Without Looking Dorky?

    Don’t: Wear the damn thing like the antenna on those Google Street View cars. You look ridiculous (and could hurt yourself). Do: Get a small tripod and look for unique vantage points from which to film.

  • HPCedar

    The Wright Stuff: Dirtbagging Is Dead

    Sound the alarm! We are on the brink of a great tragedy. Climbing has a dying breed in its ranks, a breed upon which the very foundation of our sport was built: the dirtbag. The golden age of climbing is replete with these anti-heroes: Pratt, Chouinard, and Beckey are our dirtier, more destitute Magic, Bird, and Jordan. But now it would seem dirtbag culture is on the brink of extinction; perhaps destined to go the way of the swami belt or the figure eight belay device.

  • HPClimbProbs

    Re-Gram: Show Us Your #ClimberProblems!

    Feet stained red from your new climbing shoes? Do you have the flapper to top all other flappers? Or, like the gentleman below, have your tips been sanded so smooth by gritty crimps and slopers that you don't have fingerprints? We want to see! Post a picture on Instagram and tag it with #climberproblems. If your photo is among our favorites, we'll contact you about featuring it in an upcoming issue of our print edition.

  • HPFlowchart

    Flowchart: Should You Instagram That Climbing Photo?

    Climbing, as a sport, lends itself particularly well to being photographed. While every baseball field looks about the same, climbers often find themselves surrounded by amazing natural scenery, and it’s tempting to want to ’gram everything that happens out there. On the other hand, many types of climbing photos have become a little cliché at this point. So you’ve got a sweet climbing photo burning a hole in your iPhone’s internal hard drive. Should you ’gram it?

  • ReaderPoll

    Reader Poll: Tell Us Your Fears

    What is your biggest fear in climbing? Tell us in the comments and your answer could be featured in an upcoming issue of our print edition!

  • Join The Climbing Magazine Reader Panel

    Want to help shape Climbing Magazine? Now you can! Take two minutes to sign to be on our panel of influencers today.

  • HPSemiRad

    Semi-Rad: With A Little Aid From My Friends

    The sun was minutes away from ducking behind the West Rim of Zion Canyon on a February Saturday afternoon as I stretched high in my aiders to plug a .5 Camalot in a splitter sandstone finger crack that shot 200 feet up above my head on Touchstone Wall. I looked down at the other set of aiders clipped to my harness, flying sideways in the breeze, a couple hundred feet of air between me and the Scenic Drive road below, and I thought, How come nobody ever told me about aid climbing?

  • HPCedar

    The Wright Stuff: Humans And Heroes

    Climbing is a unique sport where it is common to meet your heroes. Unlike team sports where the best play on a separate field, in climbing, we all frequent the same cliffs. You could bump into Lynn Hill at Rifle, or Tommy Caldwell among the boulders in Yosemite. Which brings me to a climber you might call the second coming of Peter Croft: my good friend and part-time hero Alex Honnold, quite possibly the most famous and idolized climber in the world today.

  • HPHero

    Tell Us Your Hero Story

    Tell us your story! We're looking for climbers who may have saved another climber's life or prevented serious injury through timely, skillful, selfless, and/or courageous action. No professional rescuers this time, please. We're looking for ordinary climbers who've done extraordinary things.

  • HPAnswerMan

    Ask Answer Man: Are Zip-off Pants Ever Acceptable?

    Zip-off pants fall roughly between fanny packs and LARPing on the NDS (National Dork Standard), which means they are acceptable in the following situations: 1) in the very far reaches of the backcountry, where there are no people and no cameras, and 2) never.

  • HPGearHall

    Nominate Your Favorite Gear For The Gear Hall Of Fame

    Do you have an all-time favorite piece of gear? We want to hear about it! We're putting together a climbing gear hall of fame for a future issue of our print edition and we want your nominations.