Climber: Celene Blair
Route: Rattletale (5.10b)
Location: Index, Washington
Index, an old mining and logging town along the Skykomish River an hour northeast of Seattle, boasts hundreds of steep, fine-grained granite lines. The second pitch of this three-pitch trad route, Rattletale, sports one of the best hand cracks in the area, and the approach involves a short hike along railroad tracks. Index is less crowded than other Pacific Northwest climbing destinations, perhaps due to close proximity to Smith Rock, Oregon, and Squamish, British Columbia, Canada. It could also be because of the weather—the town receives over 100 inches of rain per year, meaning moss and lichen can quickly overtake less-traveled climbs, and sunny days are scarce.
Climber: Jasmin Caton
Route: Gram Traverse (5.10d)
Location: Tuolumne Meadows, California
The Gram Traverse is a physical two-pitch route that follows a giant roof, the defining feature of Drug Dome, and finishes with a knobby runout. It is the alternate finish to the technical five-pitch line OZ (pronounced “ounce,” not like the wizard) in Yosemite’s high-alpine area, Tuolumne Meadows. Dale Bard and Bob Locke made the first ascent of OZ in 1975, and a year later, they returned to climb under the roof. Route names on Drug Dome are a clear indicator of the influence drugs had in Yosemite climbing history, and new climbs, such as High Times (5.13b), put up by Ben Ditto in 2015, have stuck with the theme.
Climber: Heather Weidner
Route: China Doll (5.14a R)
Location: Boulder Canyon, Colorado
Boulder local Heather Weidner sent China Doll on gear on June 15, 2016, joining the ranks of Lynn Hill, Beth Rodden, and Barbara Zangerl as one of the few women to climb 5.14 trad. The route, a 130-foot right-leaning crack, sits directly over Boulder Creek in Upper Dream Canyon. Bob Horan bolted the first 100 feet in the 1990s, and Mike Patz completed the first gear ascent of the route with a new 30-foot extension in 2007. Mayan Smith-Gobat climbed the lower section on pre-placed gear in 2012, but Weidner was the first female to climb the full route, placing gear on lead. With a minimal amount of granite experience to start, Weidner “couldn’t do a single move” when she first tried China Doll, but after 70-plus attempts over the course of more than a year, she nabbed the send.
Climber: Ashima Shiraishi
Route: Horizon (V15)
Location: Mt. Hiei, Japan
On March 22, 2016, just 12 days before her 15th birthday, New York City native Ashima Shiraishi became the youngest person and first female to climb V15. Horizon features a long roof seam with 30 sustained moves and a no-foot crux. Japanese boulderer Dai Koyamada put up the problem in May 2015. He recommended it to Shiraishi, but when she tried it last December, a wet hold pushed her off the last move three times. She returned during her school’s spring break but still battled “seeping wet holds,” according to Koyamada, remaining “fierce, focused, and strong.” A film about Shiraishi will be featured in the upcoming REEL ROCK 11.