Base Camp BlogWelcome to Base Camp, the blog by Climbing’s editors. Inside you’ll find news tidbits, personal experiences, trip reports, what’s going on with the mag, and more. Photo by Andrew Burr
12 in 12: What I learned at RifleIf you’re an American sport climber, you’ve probably visited—or at least heard of—Rifle, Colorado. Here in Boulder, the name is tossed around without the slightest flinch by the strongmen of the community. But every time I heard that word over the past four years, I would cringe ever so slightly and feel that familiar wave of anxiety-induced nausea. I had never been to Rifle, and there was one simple reason: I was intimidated. A 55-meter Roof at 55 Years OldStevie Haston is one of those climbers whose achievements will instantly humble your project. The 55-year-old Brit sent a 55-meter-long roof April 8 on the island of Gozo in the Maltese archipelago. He calls the route King of Kings (5.13d), which might be the longest roof climb in the world. (Haston is no stranger to hard roof routes; in 2009, he made a quick ascent of the roof crack Greenspit in northern Italy. He’s also climbed up to 5.14d sport routes.)12 in 12: Train like Stevie Haston“So let’s reiterate: first, train and rest sufficiently, be happy with whatever gains you make. If you have money, seek out an honest pro who will point out obvious faults at a cost. Lastly, don’t be intimidated. So you understand everything, except the last. If you understood the last, you wouldn’t really need my advice would you, and you would be someone called Achilles or Jesse Owens, but you’re just called Bert or Jane, and you come from somewhere flat and boring.”David Breashears Opens Himalaya ExhibitDavid Breashears’ new exhibit, Rivers of Ice: Vanishing Glaciers of the Greater Himalaya, has opened at the Everest Base Camp and at the MIT Museum. A collaboration between Glacier Works—which Breashears founded—and the MIT Museum, the exhibition features the photographs of world-famous mountaineer and filmmaker David Breashears, and displays them alongside matched archival photographs taken over the past century by some of the world’s greatest mountain photographers. The exhibition seeks to reveal the changes that have taken place in the Himalayas over the last century.12 in 12: Biting the BulletI’ve yammered on in several blog posts about “just doing it.” Thousands of words of feel-goodery are great, but they don’t really matter when compared with action. Until recently, I’ve gone out climbing every week and managed to avoid actually attempting to lead a 12. That changed two weeks ago. I was inspired by my friend Hale’s attempt on a 5.13 in Clear Creek Canyon, west of Denver. He clipped, rested, clipped up, rested again, tried some moves, clipped up again, rested, rested, rested, took a fall, and the cycle continued. 12 in 12: Scaredy CatNow I’m just putting it off. Spring is here (kind of), and climbing outside has ramped up considerably. Two weeks ago it was four days of blissful sandstone bouldering in Joe’s Valley, Utah. (Gotta get that power up! It’s legit cross-training.) Last weekend it was multi-pitch climbing in Boulder Canyon, Colorado, where the hardest pitch I climbed was 5.9+. (At least I’m clipping something.) And this coming weekend’s plans are to hit up Turkey Rocks in South Platte, Colorado, to get seriously schooled on some cracks.)12 in 12: Putting it on a PedestalIn the months since I’ve started this quest, I’ve gotten all types of training advice, both mental and physical. I’ve also heard plenty of awesome stories of other people’s successes and failures. It’s truly an inspiration, and I’ve appreciated all of it, but sometimes it confuses the mind and disrupts my thrown-together and uneducated plan. The most common advice from most climbers (all of whom are strong and have ticked dozens of 5.12s themselves) is to pick a route I’m psyched on, dial in the moves, and keep working at it until it feels like a warm-up and I send it like one of those six-beers-deep emails to my ex.12 in 12: Anger ManagementMy last few days of training have been—to put it delicately—ugly. Another bout of sickness (this time a stomach-virus thing that kept me from eating for three days and sucked the life out of my already weakened body), plus work functions on the weekend, made for some hellacious plastic pulling. My body is wrecked, my mood is foul, but my will is strong.Ken Nichols: 10,000th Ascent of 5.11On February 26, 63-year-old Ken Nichols made his 10,000th ascent of the traditional route Dol Guldur (5.11) at Traprock in Connecticut. Nichols made the first ascent on aid in September 1975. He returned to free the route in 1979—afterthe first free ascent by Mike Heintz and Tony Trocchi in1976. By 1995, he’d made 2,000 ascents of the line.12 in 12: Climbers OnlyI can’t have non-climber friends. “I never see you any more.” “I miss hanging out with you.” “Are you mad at me?” And the absolute worst one is when you call an old friend, it rings twice, then goes straight to voicemail. That stings a bit. I want to say to them, “It’s not that I don’t like you any more, but I’ve started seeing someone, and I want you to understand why I’m not returning your calls or making an effort to hang out with you. That someone is ‘climbing,’ and we have a very important and possibly life-changing relationship.12 in 12: Don’t Think, Just DoI wish every day could be like last Friday. Having a purpose in climbing—and life, I suppose—is like living life à la Benjamin Button: You have the experiences, skill set, and muscle memory of an adult, but also the wonderful ability to see everything from a whole new perspective. I’ve been working my endurance for the past week (15 laps on mid-5.10s including easier warm-ups on Monday, a little more than an hour of treadwall on Wednesday), and Friday was supposed to be more laps on routes. 12 in 12: Quit Being a BabyAfter a disappointing weekend at Shelf Road, where I flailed on an 11b/c and wheezed my way through some 10s, I decided to hit the gym hard core on Monday. OK, yeah, so I was pretty dang sick last week and am still coughing up a storm and a lung while drowning in my own mucus, but still it was frustrating. A fellow climber had to remind me quite gently, while I scowled and pouted, that, “Hey, you’ve been sick for a week and traveling the few weeks before that. Don’t be too hard on yourself.”WI5 in Down BootiesWe’ve seen hikers heading up Longs Peak (7.5 miles, 4,850 vertical feet, semi-technical) wearing smooth-soled, open-toed sandals. We’ve seen badass climbers float up 5.12 “warm-ups” at Rifle in their running shoes. But we’d never seen this before. Jovan Simic sent us photos of his friend Erik Schnack leading Carlsberg Column (WI5) in Field, British Columbia, in down booties. With no crampons. Admittedly, the climb was exceptionally fat. But still… 12 in 12: New BeginningI’m the epitome of weekend warrior. I work Monday through Friday, 9 to 5, sometimes Saturday and Sunday when my job requires it, and I climb outside on the weekends and in the gym during the week. I’ve never had goals in climbing. I’ve just done it for fun, but lately I’ve been finding myself a bit frustrated and unhappy with my climbing progress—or lack thereof.Outdoor Retailer Top 10Last week Salt Lake hosted the annual Outdoor Retailer Winter Market trade show, the place where manufacturers show off their hottest new gear, clothes, skis, and more. This is the gear that will be arriving on retail shelves later this year. Four Climbing and Urban Climber editors roamed the Salt Palace for three days, checking out the wares. Here, our picks for the 10 coolest new products for climbers.
Jack Roberts: A TributeIf you don’t know where to begin, an editor once told me, start with the facts. So these are the facts: Jack Roberts, 59, died in the early afternoon of Sunday, January 15, after a long fall off the Bridal Veil Falls ice climb, outside Telluride, Colorado. He was leading the second pitch, which was steeper than usual. I don’t know much more about the accident, and I don’t care to learn more. A great friend and climbing partner is gone. That’s enough. Off-Road Trail Proposed for Indian CreekThe BLM is considering a plan to create an OHV (Off-Highway Vehicle) trail in Indian Creek, Utah, that would pass through the popular Creek Pasture campground. Here are excerpts from a note about the trail posted at the Friends of Indian Creek’s Facebook page: “The BLM Office in Monticello has released an Environmental Assessment that analyzes a proposed OHV trail in the Indian Creek area. The Friends of Indian Creek generally does not like to take a stance against other user groups unless their actions will specifically impact our climbing experience. In this case we feel it will.”The Camp 4 Wine CafeModesto, California, is about two and a half hours from Yosemite Valley, but it’s a lot closer in spirit, thanks to a local wine bar with a surprising heritage. The Camp 4 Wine Cafe is owned by Damon Robbins, son of the Yosemite legend Royal Robbins, and it operates out of the building that housed the first outlet store of the Royal Robbins clothing company. The younger Robbins grew up in Modesto and entered the restaurant business in San Francisco after going to college in Colorado. Banff Announces 2011 Film and Book WinnersThe Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival has announced its 2011 winners. The grand prize for films went to the movie Cold (preview below), which features the first winter ascent of Gasherbrum II in Pakistan with Cory Richards, Simone Moro, and Denis Urubko. From Forge Motion Pictures and producter/director Anson Fogel: “For the past 26 years, 16 expeditions have tried and failed to climb one of Pakistan’s 8,000-meter peaks in winter. On February 2, 2011, Simone Moro, Denis Urubko and Cory Richards became the first.”Two Attempts on Twins TowerTo my mind, one of the coolest things that happened this year in North American alpinism was a pair of failures. The Canadian climber Jason Kruk attempted the legendary north face of Twins Tower in the Rockies twice, in the spring and the fall, getting high on the route both times. An obsession was hatched: If conditions and partners align, Kruk will be back next spring. This mile-high wall of limestone on the cold flank of North Twin, the third-highest peak in the Rockies, has only been climbed three times in 37 years, each by a different line, and each an epic.Jorgeson Sidelined on Dawn Wall ProjectBummer! Shortly after beginning this fall’s efforts on the Dawn Wall, the multi-year project of Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson to create El Capitan’s hardest free climb, Jorgeson badly injured his ankle and began hobbling around on crutches. Jorgeson smashed his ankle late last week during his first attempt at the huge horizontal dyno on the 15th pitch (5.14+); a visit to the doctor revealed “severe ligament damage.”Anchor Ban Proposed for Many Alaskan CragsAttention Climbers: The May 2011 Draft Chugach State Park Draft Management Plan has recommended “permanent rock anchors” be prohibited in Chugach State Park (CSP). If the proposed ban is not stopped then all technical climbing within CSP will essentially be banned. Given the poor rock quality and lack of natural protection in Chugach rock, permanent anchors are a necessity for climbers’ safety. Likewise, permanent rappel anchors are needed on any technical mountaineering, ice, or rock route that lacks a walk off descent.World Cup in Boulder Just Days AwayThe first Lead World Cup to be held on U.S. soil in more than 20 years is almost upon us! This Saturday, 67 of climbing’s best athletes from 14 countries will descend on Movement Climbing + Fitness in Boulder, Colorado, in one of the last Lead World Cups to be held in 2011. (There will be four more after this weekend, two in France, one in Slovenia, and one in Spain.) This is pretty huge news, as you’ve probably seen on pro blogs, Climbing’s Facebook, and extensive ads by major U.S. climbing comps, USA Climbing, and the International Federation of Sport Climbing. Gear We Like: Omega Pacific Dash BinersI’ve been adding more and more micro-carabiners to my rack, mostly for racking cams and for the free biners I carry on slings… and especially when I’m doing long approaches into the mountains. And of all the micro-biners I’ve tried, my favorite is the Omega Pacific Dash with the new Infinity wire gate. The Dash, which was introduced in 2009 and is named after the late Micah Dash, isn’t the lightest or smallest biner on the market, but I find it the easiest to handle of all the mini-biners I’ve tried.’60 Minutes’ to Feature Honnold”Daredevil scales 1,600-foot rock wall without ropes.” That’s the headline CBS news uses to describe Alex Honnold’s free solo of the Chouinard-Herbert (5.11+, 15 pitches) on the Sentinel in Yosemite. “60 Minutes” filmed the climb, which they’ll be airing this Sunday, October 2, at 7 p.m. ET. Back in June, Honnold soloed CH right after soloing The Phoenix, which is the world’s first recorded 5.13.YOSAR Saves Climber (and Thumb)Three days ago, Yosemite Search and Rescue pulled off an impressive rescue on El Capitan after an Austrian climber took a fall and severed his thumb (his aid sling pinched it off). Thanks to El Cap Report’s Tom Evans (read about ECR’s comeback here), who witnessed the event from his post on the El Cap Bridge, photos are available for viewing here. Canadian Guide Stalked by Grizzly Prominent Canmore guide and alpinist Barry Blanchard narrowly avoided a confrontation with a grizzly bear on Monday in Banff National Park. Blanchard was taking a Japanese client to climb the north glacier of Mt. Aberdeen when they encountered a grizzly bear below the Mt. Fairview Trail. Blanchard and his client backed off slowly and used a firm tone to talk to the bear (click here to watch a funny video on surviving a bear attack with the crew at Backpacker—it may or may not involve an intern in a bear suit).24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell Sees Another Successful YearAbout 250 climbers gathered last weekend to participate in one of the country’s most popular climbing events: 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, Arkansas. Competitors climb for 24 hours straight on sandstone, trying to amass as many routes as possible. Brent Perkins and Nate Drolete on Team Petzl took top honors this year, climbing 205 routes, with the hardest line being 5.12d, totaling 56,370 points. However, no one topped Alex Honnold’s 2010 score of 32,850. El Cap Report Makes ComebackAfter three months of inactivity, Yosemite photographer Tom Evans is bringing his popular El Cap Reports back, thanks to the organization Friends of YOSAR. Back in June, fans of the site—which provides daily detailed updates on the parties climbing El Cap, along with fantastic mega-telephoto images shot from the El Cap Bridge—were disappointed when Evans announced that he would be shutting down business due to the heavy time restraints the site requires.New Management Plan for Black CanyonBlack Canyon of the Gunnison National Park has posted its proposed Wilderness and Backcountry Management Plan for public review. The new plan could impact climbing in the 2,000-foot-deep canyon in south-central Colorado, home to classic routes like The Scenic Cruise and Stratosfear. Proposed regulations include limits on new fixed anchors in the main climbing areas of the canyon, and a possible outright ban on bolts in “pristine” areas of the park.
Tributes to BonattiWhen Walter Bonatti died on September 13, at age 81, it was hard to know what to say. Few climbers have been so far ahead of their time, setting the standard in so many disciplines: alpine rock (the east face of Grand Capucin and a solo new route on the Petit Dru); winter alpinism (first winter ascent of the north face of the Grandes Jorasses and a solo new route in winter on the north face of the Matterhorn), and extreme high-altitude mountaineering (first ascent of mighty Gasherbrum IV).