When an airplane smuggling a load of high-grade marijuana crashed in a Yosemite lake, a gold rush of climbers hauled out a fortune in brick weed right under the noses of the authorities.
Stonemaster John Long recounts his time with Jeff, a one-time climbing bum and the son of an affluent family. Jeff leaves climbing and dutifully follows his family's riches, while John stays true to the only rule that counts.
Free soloing means climbing with no rope, a genre that verged into American consciousness in the 1970s. In 2018 it blew up, with Alex Honnold's mind-bending solo of El Capitan and the award-winning film that chronicled it. Let's take a look back.
Guided by Herman Buhl's famous "truisms," a young John Long gets into a ropeless jam high on Tahquitz Rock.
Climbing has long celebrated hard drinking and drugs. Many climbers become lifelong alcoholics and addicts and their families, friends and climbing partners bear the high price. One of climbing's most iconic figures fell into the pit, but pulled himself out and now has an important lesson every climber should read.
"The last thing I remember after reaching the chains at the top of the route is landing feet first on the ground, crumpling in a heap."
From Long's latest book "Icarus Syndrome", this chapter weaves a hair-raising tale of fate, trauma, and mountain endeavors.
Clipping bolts back when ground up was the only way to climb almost felt illegal, immoral even, but even a diehard tradster and Stonemaster like John Long could see the light.
I hated this situation. I loved it, too. Not a soul, not even God, stood between me and the decision I faced. Do or fly.
Decades before John Bachar died in a solo fall, he took John Long on a ropeless "Half Dome": They'd climb 2,000 feet at Joshua Tree—without a rope.
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