Livin’ Astro (5.14c), freed by Dave Graham in 1999, climbs an aesthetic overhanging arête at Rumney, New Hampshire’s showcase Waimea Wall. “It was the prominent unbolted line after we finished China Beach [5.14b] and Jaws [then 5.14b; now 5.15a and renamed Jaws II after key holds broke],” says Graham, who was in high school at the time of Livin’ Astro’s FA. “I mentioned it would be awesome to try and bolt it, although the locals elected to bolt it for us in fear of us botching it. So I paid for the gear and Mark Sprague drilled it.” In late September during the American Alpine Club Craggin’ Classic, Jon Cardwell (pictured) started up, climbing Livin’ Astro’s first section to a jug at the fifth bolt. After a short rest on a sloper, the route moves left, tackling a V8 bloc then hitting a jug, with a final, V9 boulder problem guarding the anchor. “I’ve always wanted to try it,” says Cardwell, who climbed the route over two days. “I knew that Dave had done it and that it was a classic.”
“It’s unnerving to rap down these slopey cracks and then pull the rope down to climb out,” says Blake Cason—pictured here on the Bridge Area’s Dillingham Blues (5.10+)—of Wyoming’s Fremont Canyon. “Climbing out of a boat added to the sense of commitment.” While many of Fremont’s climbs like Dillingham Blues top out at around 80 feet, the North Platte River also cut more deeply into the granite, creating walls up to 500 feet tall in the canyon that are now home to multi-pitch routes, including the three-pitch classic The Slab Route (5.10c). You’ll also find routes like Steve Petro’s 1980s Fiddler on the Roof (5.13d), one of North America’s hardest roof cracks. While suspect gear at Dillingham’s start meant possibly “decking” into the river, the entry fee was worth it—as Cason notes, “Man, those parallel cracks were fun!”
“The rock is really, really good,” says Nik Berry, pictured here on the 5.12d “Changing Chimneys” pitch of The American Way (VI 5.13a), which he, Eric Bissell, Dave Allfrey, and Brent Barghahn established in August. The route, which summits the 3,100-foot northwest face of Pik Slesova (13,911 feet) in the remote Ak Su Valley of Kyrgyzstan, climbs 20 pitches of what Berry calls “super-featured rock.” In 2013, Berry and Madaleine Sorkin attempted the line but didn’t have enough bolts to finish, turning around two pitches up. When Berry and team returned this year, they climbed ground-up, fixing lines to pitch seven and a large bivy ledge. They then rapped down and rested through two days of bad weather before returning to their high point and climbing the upper 13 pitches over the next three days. The team climbed in two parties, with two climbers pushing the ropes higher using a mix of free and aid tactics, while the two other sussed the free climbing, bolted, and cleaned in their wake. The team redpointed each of the pitches, though no single climber freed every pitch.
“It’s why I called it Dark Matter,” says Jonathan Siegrist of this 650-foot dark-blue streak that runs up the north face of Mount Charleston’s Universal Wall. Situated at 9,000 feet outside Las Vegas, Nevada, the multi-pitch wall features a half dozen incredible lines, some put up by the late Brian McCray and some put up by Siegrist. Dark Matter (5.13a/b: 5.12a, 5.11b, 5.13a, 5.12a, 5.11d, 5.13a) is six pitches long. Pitch three, the first 5.13, tackles several small roofs with V4/5 boulder problems, while the crux, final pitch (shown here) tackles a 13-bolt, 40-meter face with a “pretty serious no-holds slab for three [of those] bolts,” says Siegrist. In July, Siegrist spent 10 days equipping the line, placing around 75 bolts. He’d spied it the previous year while working on the seven-pitch Aeolis Mons (5.14a; see Climbing No. 367) just 200 feet to the right. To get “Siegrist-strong” digits for techy climbs like these, visit climbing.com/strongerfingers to sign up for his 6 Weeks to Stronger Fingers online course.