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Rare Find: An Interview with Yosemite Pioneer Ron Kauk

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The Yosemite Pioneer Talks Valley and Climbing Life in a 2.5-hour Interview on the Nugget Climbing Podcast

Back in February, Ron Kauk won the Robert and Miriam Underhill lifetime achievement award from the American Alpine Cub. A Yosemite legend, Kauk first moved to the Valley at age 17, and was part of the core Camp 4 scene in the 1970s and 1980s that helped give rise to difficult free climbing in the Valley and beyond. His important ascents are too numerous to list, but key highlights include the FFA of Astroman (V 5.11c) with John Long and John Bachar in 1975 and the first ascent of the seldom-repeated thin crack/seam Magic Line (5.14) in the mid-1990s. He also competed at the first international competition on American soil, in Snowbird, Utah, in 1988.

Kauk is also father to Lonnie Kosuko Kauk, who repeated Magic Line, and the founder of Sacred Rok, a nonprofit that supports youth in nature by taking them on camping and climbing trips in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Kauk sat down for a rare interview, 2.5 hours total, with Steven Dimmitt of the Nugget Climbing Podcast, to talk about his life on and off the rock, including his time in Hollywood (e.g., as a stunt double in the Sylvester Stallone film Cliffhanger), his landmark first ascents, and the importance of a lifelong connection with nature. If you haven’t given the Nugget a listen, we highly recommend it—it’s one of the best long-form interview podcasts in the outdoor space.