Climbing History

As a sport, climbing dates back more than 200 years, and few activities have such rich history. Here you'll find many stories from climbing's past, including breathtaking accounts of epic ascents as well as little-known lore about the climbers who came before us.
  • HPClimbologyFilms

    Doctor of Climbology: 9 Must-Watch Climbing Films

    Doctor of Climbology is your shortcut to becoming cultured in climbing. An imperfect, unscientific guide to 55 must-read, must-see, must-hear climbing stories from masters of the art. From must-see DVD's, to Hollywood heroes, to movies so bad they're good, here are 9 climbing films every climber should watch.

  • Doctor of Climbology: 55 Must-Read, Must-See, and Must-Hear Climbing Stories

    Doctor of Climbology: 55 Must-Read, Must-See, and Must-Hear Climbing Stories

    Doctor of Climbology is your shortcut to becoming cultured in climbing. An imperfect, unscientific guide to 55 must-read, must-see, must-hear climbing stories from masters of the art.

  • HPClimbology660

    Doctor of Climbology: 33 Must-Read Climbing Books

    Doctor of Climbology is your shortcut to becoming cultured in climbing. An imperfect, unscientific guide to 55 must-read, must-see, must-hear climbing stories from masters of the art. If you’re new to climbing literature, start with these 33 definitive tales of adventure.

  • HPVURot

    Own History: Valley Uprising HD Digital Download

    Valley Uprising: Yosemite’s rock climbing revolution is the most highly praised climbing film of all time. Own it today.

  • HPValleyUprisingHarding

    Own History: Valley Uprising HD Digital Download

    Valley Uprising: Yosemite’s rock climbing revolution is the most highly praised climbing film of all time. Own it today.

  • Enga-Lokey-Soweto-660

    The Nut Chronicles

    Climbing nutcraft evolved in Great Britain about a half century ago, but its roots go back even further. As early as the 1920s, British climbers had carried pebbles in the pockets of their knickers, slotting these stones into wide spots in cracks and tying them off—with scary-looking hemp cord—for pro. True artificial chockstones were just a small conceptual step away, but it took a few decades. During the 1930s, rock climbing—then much more closely allied with alpinism than it is now—was at an ethical crossroads.

  • Charley-Mace-West-Shoulder-Headwall-Mt-Everest

    Into the Vast Unknown

    On May 1, 1963 (at least in a small way), when Jim Whittaker of Seattle and Nawang Gombu of Darjeeling, India, became the seventh and eighth people to stand on Everest’s summit. Three weeks later, Lute Jerstad and Barry Bishop followed them, also summiting via the Southeast Ridge. Three hours after that, Tom Hornbein and Willi Unsoeld traversed Everest’s summit, having made the first ascent of the West Ridge.

  • Fixed Anchors in the Wilderness

    Flashback: It’s the summer of 1998, and you’re 500 feet up the Sun Ribbon Arête on Temple Crag, one of the High Sierra’s finest alpine rock peaks. The scattered morning clouds have quickly turned into ominous thunderheads, coming your way. With nothing ahead but even more exposed climbing for 1,500 feet to the summit, you belay up your partner, have a short discussion, equalize a nut and a sling around a horn, and begin to rap. Two hundred feet lower you pull your rope, leaving the anchor in place—thus committing a federal crime.

  • Survivors - Enduring Desperate Situations

    Survivors - Enduring Desperate Situations

    We surveyed readers and more than a dozen climbing historians and writers in North America and Europe to collect 25 stories of stamina, ingenuity, and human will, some well-known, others not. Our hope is to remind readers to take care and prevent accidents--to"do nothing in haste, look well to each step," as Whymper famously said after the Matterhorn tragedy.

  • 10 Things You Didn't Know about Avalanches

    10 Things You Didn't Know about Avalanches

    Avalanche danger will always be a hazard for those seeking to climb some of the world's most sought-after peaks. Here's a look at some facts about the deadly snow slides.

  • 10 Things You Didn't Know about Dynos

    10 Things You Didn't Know about Dynos

    Call them what you will--"sloppy," "desperate," "intimidating," "amazing"--but dynamic moves are essential to our repertoire.

  • 10 Things You Didn't Know about Sport Climbing's Early Days

    You know those shiny gadgets, techy techniques, and bizzled training facilities we use to hone our sport climbing? Well, guess what: they weren't invented in a vacuum.

  • Wing and a Prayer

    Wing and a Prayer

    The Curious Case of Maurice Wilson and his Doomed Quest for Mt. Everest .

  • Angels of Mont Blanc

    Angels of Mont Blanc

    Inside the world's busiest alpine-rescue service - Francis Claudon, of the Peloton de Gendarmerie de Haute Montagne (PGHM) in Chamonix, France, was on second call that July evening. With one team already out on a rescue, he was kitted up and ready for the next mission, boots on and rucksack packed.

  • 10 Things You Didn't Know about YOSAR

    Yosemite Search and Rescue is one of the most well-oiled SAR machines in the world.

  • 10 Things You Didn't Know about the Third Flatiron

    10 Things You Didn't Know about the Third Flatiron

    One of the most iconic crags in the country, the Third Flatiron rises majestically just to the west of Boulder, Colorado.

  • HP10Knots

    10 Things You Didn't Know About Knots

    Knots: they attach us to ropes, connect slings to trees, substitute for dropped gear, secure tents, create belay anchors. Even a sport climber whose shoes close with Velcro knows a few knots. But here are a few things you might not know.

  • HP10thingsgranite

    10 Things You Didn't Know About Granite

    Granite. Climbers love it, even as it tears their flesh, steals their gear, and makes them feel oh-so-small. You know how granite feels under your hands and feet, how it smells, and the way it turns to gold in the last light of day, but here are a few things you probably didn't know.

  • 40 Years of American Rock

    40 Years of American Rock

    1970, picture it: a cherry-red Mustang guns it up the back roads out of a podunk Hudson Valley college town, burning rubber past farmhouses and orchards and around tree-lined hairpins toward a notch in ridge-top cliffs.

  • Open Bivy - METAMORPHOSIS

    Open Bivy - METAMORPHOSIS

    Alaska, 1991: a ptarmigan spoke to me from 90 feet up Middle Triple Peak (8,835 feet), in the Kichatna Range. Seth Shaw and I had just ticked the second ascent of the venerable East Buttress (VI 5.9 A3; 3,300 feet) in grotesque conditions. As we made the last of 20-some raps to the glacier, the Fates dished out more adventure ...

  • The Guidebook Odyssey - Unearthing the epic task of writing a guidebook

    The Guidebook Odyssey - Unearthing the epic task of writing a guidebook

    Never a fan of guidebooks, I’ve long had a “just pick a route that looks good and climb“ mentality. “It’s supposed to be an adventure!“ I’d tell myself. Until one fateful day at Colorado‘s Eldorado Canyon.

  • Almost Free on the Salathe Wall in 1979

    Nine years before Skinner and Piana freed the Salathé Wall, two of the era’s top free climbers, Mark Hudon and Max Jones, put in a solid bid that freed all but 300 feet of the route. On P18 — the Double Cracks — freed at 5.13b by Skinner and fearsome enough to be mostly avoided to this day, Jones, lowering after each fall to a no-hands stance, linked all but the final four moves.

  • Disaster on K2

    Disaster on K2

    8/04/08 - The initial news report on the 2008 K2 disaster. A large number of climbers were dead or missing after an ice avalanche hit the upper mountain during a big summit push on August 1.

  • Stone Monkeys: Visions of the Modern-age Stonemasters

    Stone Monkeys: Visions of the Modern-age Stonemasters

    By Cedar Wright - Photos by Dean Fidelman - The Stone Monkeys are a slightly more inclusive, modern-day equivalent of the “Stonemasters,” the amorphous band of Valley hardmen who pushed the limits of climbing in the 1970s and ‘80s. However, to be a Stone Monkey, you don’t have to climb hard or be famous (though quite a few Monkeys fit this bill).

  • The Snows of Genyen

    The Snows of Genyen

    Two of America's hardiest alpinists, Charlie Fowler and Christine Boskoff, went missing in the eastern Himalaya last December during a mission to climb untamed peaks. As the days ticked by, friends began to worry: These were not the kind of climbers just to disappear.

  • The Other Side of Fred Rouhling

    The Other Side of Fred Rouhling

    In the sport-climbing world, perhaps no man has received as much bad press as Fred Rouhling, a Frenchman who made the news in the mid-1990s. In 1995, his infamy hit international proportions when he claimed the 9b grade for one of his routes, Rouhling’s other hard routes were almost as controversial.

  • Cerro Torre Epics

    Cerro Torre Epics

    These adventure stories clearly demonstrate why Cerro Torre is one of the world's most difficult and demanding summits.

  • Women in the Karakoram

    Women in the Karakoram

    From Fanny Bullock Workman to Silvia Vidal, women climbers have a long and fascinating history of adventure in Pakistan's highest mountains.

  • Remembering Denali's Greatest Rescue

    Remembering Denali's Greatest Rescue

    Four climbers stepped off the Alaska Railroad at Curry, about twenty miles north of Talkeetna, on April 17, 1954. Shouldering huge packs, the foursome crossed the frozen Susitna River, snowshoed up a tall hill, and paused to admire the view from the top. Fifty miles away, Denali sat nearly 20,000 feet above them, shimmering over frozen riverbeds and snow-covered tundra. The unclimbed, five-mile-long rampart of the South Buttress angled toward the summit. In 1954, Denali had been climbed fewer than ten times, and its south and east flanks remained completely virgin.

  • Teton Climbing Achievements Announced

    Climbing historian, guidebook author and TBP volunteer Renny Jackson has compiled a list of the most significant achievements in Teton climbing history. The list will serve as the foundation for the historical component of the bouldering park we seek to build at the base of Snow King Mountain in downtown Jackson Hole. We are publishing it here in full, and we actively encourage feedback from climbers and historians to help us finalize the list.

  • Everest's "Other Guy"

    At the outpost of Sandakphu, along the border of India and Nepal, the snow-capped peak of Kanchenzonga glistens as the rising sun bathes it in fiery orange. But it is the towering pinnacle of Mount Everest, far in the distance and almost forgotten, that first captures the morning light — and the imagination of the local people.

  • CLIMBING EVEREST: WHO MAKES IT TO THE TOP?

    The odds a person climbing Mount Everest will die in the attempt are 1 in 61.46. On its deadliest day, May 10, 1996, the mountain claimed eight people during a single 24-hour period. That day Jon Krakauer, a journalist on assignment for Outside Magazine, was part of an expedition led by celebrated climber, Rob Hall.

  • THE BIRTH OF ALPINISM

    The English Alpine Club began in 1857 - This new ‘Gentleman’s Club,’ formed by a few wealthy young men in London caused immediate interest in the Alps of Switzerland. Twenty-seven year old Leslie Stephen became one of the charter members. Having finished Cambridge, he immediately followed his ambition to conquer many Swiss glacier-laden mountains. Stephen was one of the most prominent figures in the Golden Age of Alpinism (the period between 1857 and 1875).

  • Cowboys on K2

    By Guy McCarthy / watershednews.blogspot.com - The weekend of September 6-7, 2008 marked the 30th anniversary of the first American ascent of K2, the world's second-highest mountain and widely considered the most dangerous. In early August, 11 climbers were killed high on K2 in one of the deadliest episodes in mountaineering history.

  • Decking while Soloing

    I static to a four-finger sloper, 15 feet off the deck. I’m on Kim Chi (5.11d), a 40-foot bulging face climb on pocketed tuff just uphill from the trickle of Malibu Creek. I’ve been climbing here for 15 years: I know the Beta to every route, have touched every pocket ...

  • 10 Things You Didn't Know about Bouldering Grades

    10 Things You Didn't Know about Bouldering Grades

    Homo sapiens did not stand upright and then go straight to bouldering V16. The V-grades and French Fontainebleau grades that are today's gold standards took time to disseminate, with other scales proposed along the way. In fact, it was John Gill's B-system, advanced over a half-century ago as Gill devoted himself almost exclusively to bouldering, that set the stage for today's popular, open-ended V-system.