Evening Sends » News http://eveningsends.com inspired climbing stories Mon, 13 Nov 2017 15:28:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.3 http://eveningsends.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/ES1-58b0d451v1_site_icon-32x32.png » News http://eveningsends.com 32 32 Adam Ondra, Yosemite, and a Dawn of a New Era http://eveningsends.com/dawn-of-a-new-era/ http://eveningsends.com/dawn-of-a-new-era/#comments Wed, 23 Nov 2016 00:17:37 +0000 http://eveningsends.com/?p=8022

After climbing my first El Cap route, I stumbled like a zombie back to my campsite Camp 4 at 9 p.m., hoping to just crash into my sleeping bag. Instead of finding my Walmart children’s tent with all my shit, there was a round rock pinning down a pink citation, telling me my campsite was […]

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After climbing my first El Cap route, I stumbled like a zombie back to my campsite Camp 4 at 9 p.m., hoping to just crash into my sleeping bag. Instead of finding my Walmart children’s tent with all my shit, there was a round rock pinning down a pink citation, telling me my campsite was illegal (it wasn’t) and that I had to go to the ranger HQ to pay a fine and retrieve my belongings.

Super bummer.

I spent the next four hours feeling like a criminal, filling out scary papers, having my fingerprints taken (I didn’t have any fingerprints, though, being a rabid rock fiend), and, at every turn, having this jerk-off officer dish out his own brand of verbal justice by reminding me that he was in the position of power and I was not.

In the first week of November, all the climbers left and the snows arrived. Camp 4 was empty and I was one of five people left.

In the last dozen years, all of this has completely changed. Now, by Halloween, all the aid climbers have left, and Camp 4 comes back to life with free climbers who are keen to take their sport-climbing-honed finger strength up onto the Captain.

Tommy Caldwell, after his most recent trip to Yosemite to see Adam Ondra on the Dawn Wall, put it this way: “I walk into Camp 4 now, and I know everybody. It’s really weird!”

Never before have there been as many free climbers on El Capitan all at once as there are this season, the fall of 2016. This year, it seems, marks the dawn of a new era for Yosemite. The old standards and old ideas about difficulty and what’s possible are being replaced by a new generation of gym- and sport-honed climbers who are embracing a new kind of adventure.

“There are probably six or seven different free routes being attempted on El Cap right now,” observed Caldwell a couple of weeks ago. “Several of them are my routes, which haven’t been repeated. I feel like, suddenly, it’s come into its age, or whatever. I spent the last 20 years climbing up there—it was just me, and the Hubers, and a handful of other people, occasionally. But suddenly, it’s like, a thing. It kind of makes me feel a little less crazy because I used to be like, ‘I think this is the coolest thing in climbing. Why isn’t everybody here?’ Now I think it’s starting to catch on.”

The old joke that European sport climbers would come to Yosemite with the cocksure certainty that their 8c-climbing selves would crush the Big Stone, only to find out that they couldn’t even climb 5.11 off-width and they would scamper back home to Europe with their tail tucked between their three-quarter-length manpris just doesn’t work anymore. You can’t make this joke anymore. It’s done. It’s retired.

A predominantly European faction of free climbers have dominated El Capitan this season.

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Jorg Verhoeven on the Dihedral Wall. Photo: Jon Glassberg LT11

Jorg Verhoeven came away with the second free ascent of the Dihedral Wall (5.14a), perhaps the second most-difficult and sustained free climb on El Capitan after the Dawn Wall.

Barbara Zangerl and Jacobo Larcher achieved the third free ascent of Zodiac (5.13d).

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Jacobo Larcher climbing the Nipple Pitch on Zodiac (5.13d). Photo: Jon Glassberg LT11

Pete Whittaker made a one-day free ascent of Freerider (5.12d), rope-soloing the route.

Marc-Andre Leclerc and Brette Harrington put in an impressive, near-free effort on El Corazon.

Robbie Philips sent the Pre-Muir (5.13d), his third free route on El Cap this year—the other two being Golden Gate and El Nino, completed this spring.

And, of course, Adam Ondra crushed the Dawn Wall (5.14d) last week for his very first El Cap free climb.

And Freerider has been sent by what seems to be nearly a dozen different climbers this year.

With this much action, reporting free ascents of El Capitan will soon begin to feel about as significant as another adolescent ascent of God’s Own Stone (5.14a) at the Red River Gorge.

“The climbers are almost like celebrities now,” says Caldwell. “It just feels so different now. All the rangers want your autograph. We went trick-or-treating in Ranger Town for Halloween, and they gave us hugs. Normally, I would be terribly afraid I was going to get arrested … but now I feel like I’m going to get invited in for dinner.”

Climbers getting invited into the rangers’ houses for dinner. … What’s next?

Yosemite climbing is moving forward at a breakneck pace. Aid climbers, move over. This is the dawn of a new era—one that’s not going to involve standing in stirrups and using fifi hooks. Look carefully on the side of the road. There’s the carnage of all the old, tired egos, tossed to the side of the freeway like road kill, still clinging to the day when their standards were the height of climbing world and not the new warmups.

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This Week in Climbing http://eveningsends.com/this-week-in-climbing-6-29-2016/ http://eveningsends.com/this-week-in-climbing-6-29-2016/#comments Tue, 28 Jun 2016 17:42:37 +0000 http://eveningsends.com/?p=7781

Spending June in the Red River Gorge sounded about as delightful as taking a Bikram’s Yoga class in a tick-infested swamp. Alas, I found myself in Kentucky for about 10 days this month on an actual climbing trip. Prior to leaving, I was dreading the heat, but I assuaged my apprehension by reasoning that, upon […]

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Spending June in the Red River Gorge sounded about as delightful as taking a Bikram’s Yoga class in a tick-infested swamp. Alas, I found myself in Kentucky for about 10 days this month on an actual climbing trip. Prior to leaving, I was dreading the heat, but I assuaged my apprehension by reasoning that, upon returning to Colorado/Rifle, conditions would feel relatively quite good.

I was surprised, if not shocked, to enjoy a series of downright comfortable climbing days in KY. Sweet!

Ironically, now that I’m back in Rifle (at over 7,000 feet elevation) I swear that it’s hotter here than it was in the ass-end of Red River Gorge. Oh, the irony. And unlike Kentucky’s sticky sandpaper stone, even the slightest amount of heat and humidity makes Rifle rock impossible—at least according to all the people who are sure they should be climbing much harder than they do (myself included).

Yet, the heat wave gripping the northern hemisphere of our planet (otherwise known as summer) hasn’t prevented some downright righteous ascents from going down. Here’s a look at what I loosely define to be “this week in climbing,” only meaning that it happened sometime recently.

 

Hypnotized Minds (V16) Gets First Mullet Ascent

The United States gets to host one or two relatively minor World Cup climbing events each year, with a bouldering comp always taking place each June in Vail, Colorado.

Invariably, many of the world’s strongest international comp climbers descend upon the Rocky Mountain State each summer to lay waste to the following three things, in this order: World Cup plastic; the hardest routes/problems outdoors; and the American climbing ego.

Achieving high marks in all three of these categories is the true measure of success for any visiting Euro. Mostly, these climbers really only give a shit about their competition results. But when the thing the care about most, standing atop the podium, doesn’t pan out, they’ll settle for second best: demolishing one of Colorado’s various soft routes/boulders on their way back to the airport.

In 2011, Ramón Julián Puigblanque came up short, so to speak, on a dyno in the sport-climbing World Cup in Boulder. So what did he do? Cry like a little bitch? Fuck no! He drove out to Rifle and onsighted The Crew (5.14c) without even wearing kneepads.

Last year, Adam Ondra found himself face down in the mat, kicking and screaming over his third-place finish at the World Cup in Vail. Such a piss-poor result seemed to light the fucking demonic hell-beast within, and he promptly drove out to Rocky Mountain National Park and flashed Jade (V14+).

This year, it was Russian boulderer and five-time World Cup champ Rustam Gelmanov’s turn to curb-stomp the American climbing ego after coming in fifth place at Vail.

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Rustam Gelmanov. Photo: Eddie Fowke / The Circuit Climbing Media

Wearing skinny jeans and sporting the raddest mullet I’ve ever seen, Rustam easily nabbed the second ascent of Hypnotized Minds (V16), a problem in Rocky Mountain National Park that was first climbed by Daniel Woods, rated V15 and retroactively upgraded by Woods himself after six years of watching others flail on it.

 

The uncut footage of Rustam’s ascent surfaced on Instagram and the dude makes the problem look like piss. On that count, he had this to say: “I received a lot of questions since the moment I climbed Hypnotized Minds in #‎rmnp. I will try to answer most popular ones. “Why does it look so easy?” – long time ago I’ve read in one book that master differs from the beginner that he does extremely hard moves with ease and without showing the effort. … And the main question “Difficult or not?” I have two answers: 1) I don’t have the right and the opportunity to judge the difficulty, I don’t have enough experience. This question is to @dawoods89 and to anyone who will climb it later. 2) This route was not extremely difficult for me. It fit me very well and it’s what I like. In reality I would not say how difficult it is.”  

Though he doesn’t explicitly downgrade Hypnotized Minds, by saying something is not very difficult for him, he is basically mullet-slapping it down a V-grade. So that makes this problem only V15, I guess? Dammit, Rusty!

The last 15 years have seen a rather slow progression in climbing, with sport grades moving up three notches, while bouldering grades have only progressed by one V grade. I wonder why? Could it be that everyone’s climbing game is now secondary to their social-media selfie game? Or are climbers just getting lazier and less motivated to put up first ascents? Or could it simply be that we’ve reached the limit of human potential on the rock, and now the only thing left to do is pretend to care about each and every infinitesimal creep forward of progression?

Only time will tell. Until then, I’ll be growing out my mullet and losing 60 pounds so I can try Hypnotized Minds, too. After all, it’s not extremely difficult.

 

Colin Haley’s Big Year Continues

Colin Haley has been having an awesome year, crushing the mountains from Patagonia to Alaska. In January, he took advantage of some incredible rare weather in Patagonia to have one of the most productive seasons ever recorded.

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This past month, Haley put the iconic Infinite Spur of Mt. Forager on lap status, climbing it twice in a week, including the route’s first solo and fastest time (12:29). The deal with the Infinite Spur is that it’s as long, scary, and committing as an arranged marriage to a psycho—Alaska’s ultimate test piece.

What’s interesting is that Haley, in this excellent blog, downplayed his achievement by noting that someone like Killian Jornet or Ueli Steck might have no problem shaving significant time off of Haley’s record.

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It goes back to that idea of progression. While the progression of difficulty in bouldering and sport climbing seems to be reaching a plateau of some sort, it seems that perhaps alpine climbers have an exciting rise ahead of them, if they can find objectives that challenge them on both the “adventure” and “sport” fronts.

Interestng stuff. And hats off to Mr. Haley for his most incredible year yet! Looking forward to seeing what you get up to next, dude.

 

SBC Sucks Her Way to the Top

In case you missed it … SBC attaches vacuum parts to her arms and scales a glass building for an LG ad.

Did this video make anyone else think of Dr. Octagon?

Octarm-doc-ock

 

Jared Leto: Climbing’s Biggest Fan Boy

I didn’t even know who Jared Leto was until people started telling me “Did you hear that Jared Leto was climbing with such-and-such pro climber?” Now, I see on his Instagram that this person, who is apparently some big Hollywood actor, has fallen hard for climbing and is steadily making his way through the ranks of climbing’s biggest names. The latest: Sharma.

The Monserrat trio 📸 @chris_sharma

A photo posted by JARED LETO (@jaredleto) on

Quick Hits

Margo Hayes is the reigning queen of Rifle with her recent redpoint of The Crew (5.14c). This is likely the hardest redpoint of a U.S. sport climb ever completed by a woman. It’s right up there with Beth Rodden’s first ascent of Meltdown (5.14c), a trad climb. Among American female climbers, only Ashima has climbed a harder sport route, with her ascent of Open Your Mind Direct, 5.14d, in Spain. I asked Margo how The Crew compares to Pure Imagination, which was once rated 5.14d but consensus has it down to low-end 5.14c (if not 5.14b), and sure enough Margo said that The Crew felt “quite a bit harder than Pure Imagination (for me).” So, there it is.

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Margo Hayes on The Crew (5.14c). Photo: Jon Glassberg

 

Dave Graham lit up yet another V15 with Delirium at Mt Evans. Still an unstoppable force after all these years! So cool.
Dave Graham Delirium

 

Jon Cardwell repeated Realization after several years and multiple trips. Jon is one of the most stoked climbers I’ve ever met, and I was really happy to hear about this achievement. Well done, Jon!

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Cardwell on Biographie (5.15a), Ceuse. Photo: Keith Ladzinski

Adam Ondra established a new 5.15a in Flatanger: 120 Degrees.

And last, but certainly not least, congrats to the sweetest, friendliest veterinary doctor I know, Heather Weidner, for finishing off her long-term project China Doll (5.14a), sans bolts, making her either the fourth, or seventh, woman to redpoint a pitch of 5.14 trad, depending on how you translate weird-ass Brit grades.

 

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Heather Weidner skipping bolts on China Doll (5.14a), Boulder Canyon, CO. Photo: Jon Glassberg

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This Week in Climbing http://eveningsends.com/this-week-in-climbing-april-18-2016/ http://eveningsends.com/this-week-in-climbing-april-18-2016/#comments Tue, 19 Apr 2016 01:26:50 +0000 http://eveningsends.com/?p=7604

I live on the Western Slope of Colorado, 25 minutes from Rifle, and about equidistant to at least 1,200 other high-quality sport and trad routes that nobody even bothers checking out simply because they aren’t famous, and there’s often no one there to give beta, which some climbers seem to need with increasing urgency now […]

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I live on the Western Slope of Colorado, 25 minutes from Rifle, and about equidistant to at least 1,200 other high-quality sport and trad routes that nobody even bothers checking out simply because they aren’t famous, and there’s often no one there to give beta, which some climbers seem to need with increasing urgency now that everyone is so accustomed to following colored tape to familiarly-shaped holds set at anthropomorphic distances to each other.

Around this time of year, I inevitably get about 20 messages a week, usually from my friends in Boulder who are super anxious to test out the results of their latest training periodization, who query me about the conditions in Rifle.

“How’s Rifle?” they blurt out, without even bothering to make the normal conversational small talk that most people who want something from you might use as a preface.

I never really know how to answer this annoying question. Some routes are dry, some aren’t. I mean, dude, it’s springtime in Colorado, where it snows 4 inches every night only to melt by noon the next day. Shit’s wet. Limestone seeps. Ya know?

As Front Range climbers wait for their Rifle projy-wojjies to dry up, other stuff has happened in the climbing world. Here’s a quick round-up:

Red River Gorge: Land of the Unpumpable

All climbing areas have a distinct weakness that, once discovered and mastered, make all the routes seem much easier. Rifle is all about kneebars and overcoming 3-foot run-outs. Indian Creek is all about technique, pain tolerance and negative-one-foot runouts (aka top-roping on a cam). Yosemite is about pulling on gear quickly and not losing your mind while having the same discussions with the same people every day in the cafeteria.

And the Red River Gorge is all about having such a high strength-to-weight that you never, ever get pumped. Let’s take a closer look.

Pure Imagination

A new force to be reckoned with, Margo Hayes. Photo: Bruce Wilson

After turning heads last year with some rather quick ticks, Margo Hayes is proving that she’s only getting started. After winning the US National sport climbing championships in Boston, she headed down to the Red to make quick work of Pure Imagination (5.14c), her first of the grade.

Shortly thereafter, Michaela Kiersch, 21, also redpointed the route, which was also her first of the grade.

 

  Now with three female ascents to date, Pure Imagination might be the most-climbed 5.14c in the world for women, unless Mind Control in Oliana can hold onto its original rating of 5.14c and not drop to 5.14b, as several ascentionists have suggested. Mind Control has been climbed by seven or eight women.

 

Ruana’s Rampage

Sixteen-Year-Old Drew Ruana, after climbing a potential 9a link-up at Smith Rock earlier this year, headed to the Red River Gorge to lay the smack down on all the classic Red River 5.14s. He climbed Lucifer (5.14c; four tries), Southern Smoke (5.14c; six tries), Thanatopsis (5.14a; three tries), Transworld Depravity (5.14a; flash) and Omaha Beach (5.14a; onsight). He also onsighted such warm-ups as White Man’s Shuffle (5.13d), Last of the BOHICANS (5.13d), Pushin’ Up Daisies (5.13c), The Madness (5.13c) and Kaleidoscope (5.13c).  

  A photo posted by Drew (@drewruana) on

 

This was all within a five-day period, after which his skin got a little thin, which is why he says he didn’t also bag Pure Imagination. “Next time,” he said.

Yeah, right, dude … In your dreams!

Zookeeper

Despite rocking 20 pounds of dreadlocks and being a grown-ass-man, my friend Andrew Gearing proves that you don’t need to be a wafer-thin teenager to climb hard in the Red. He just established a stunning new line in the Red called Zookeeper (mid 5.14).

 

A photo posted by Andrew Gearing (@climbasg) on

 

In a testament to how hard Zookeeper actually is, Jimmy Webb, who literally eats V14s for breakfast, didn’t even onsight or flash it. He did it on his second try.

12-Year-Old Denied Permit to Climb Everest

Twelve-year-old Tyler Armstrong is going to have to wait to complete his bid of the seven summits, because China just denied him a permit to try to climb Everest due to its rules that one must be 18 to climb the fecal time bomb. Had he been allowed to try Everest, and had he summited, he would have become the youngest person to stand on top of the world after Jordan Romero, whose summit of Everest at age 13 spurred the age-restriction rules.

Tyler Armstrong has climbed three of the 7 Summits.

Tyler Armstrong has climbed three of the 7 Summits.

Tyler is using his mountaineering passion to raise money for CureDuchenne, a group leading the charge to find a cure for muscular dystrophy. This is a great cause for a truly devastating disease.

Doing something just for the record, however, or even doing something like climb a mountain for charity, are interesting and recurring themes that we see, not only in the climbing world. It’s hard to not have mixed feelings about these types of attention-generating stunts. On the one hand, Tyler is doing more for a truly good cause than most 12-year-olds, let alone most adults. On the other hand, why not just take the tens of thousands of dollars you’d spend climbing Everest and give that to your charity instead?

Another question I’m curious about is do kids really have a place in the adventure-sports realm? Climbing Everest, even with its relatively low mortality rate thanks to oxygen and fixed ropes, is still a place where anything can happen. Not to mention the potential health impacts of altitude on a young brain, which are still not well understood. On a philosophical note, do kids actually possess an ability to truly understand these risks involved? And really, do any of us? I’ve read studies that suggest that we’re not truly capable of making calculated decisions when it comes to risk-taking behaviors until our late 20s or early 30s. I’ve also read that as we get older, we begin to lose some of that desire to take risks. Seems like a self-fulfilling correlation to me.

All these questions trickle down to other climbing activities beyond just summit bagging. Even sport climbing, which is extremely safe and enjoyed by many youths today, is inherently dangerous, and at least one 12 year old has died on a casual bolted climb.

But … then again, aren’t these sports more valuable, more educational, more inspiring than soccer? Isn’t that why we as adults do them?

 

Babsi

The new season of BD TV launched last week with this really powerful testimonial to the climbing partnership. Specifically, this video is about Babsi Zangerl’s ascent of Bellavista (8c) on the Cima Ovest in the Dolomites. Please watch this really powerful video, if for no other reason than to see one of the most incredible alpine sport climbs in the world.

It’s hard to do justice to that distinctive roof on the Cima Ovest, but having personally stood underneath it, I can attest to the fact that it’s fucking massive. I didn’t climb the Cima Ovest while I was at Tre Cima several years ago, but I did climb the Cima Grande, as it’s one of the three great north faces of the Alps. But I think the Cima Ovest is probably more badass, even though it’s not as tall.

I heard a funny story from an Italian photographer about the Cima Ovest’s roof. Apparently, this photographer was shooting pictures of a climber working Bellavista, and he had fixed a 300-meter static line to the headwall above the roof in order to jug up into a very airy position and shoot photos. He had coiled the remainder of the rope at the base of the route, and fixed it there so he jug from that position. Keep in mind that the lip of this roof juts out about 150 feet from the base of the route.

One day, this photographer had a serious brain fart, and for some reason, he unclipped the rope from the base of the route. Then he hopped onto his jugs, ready for another casual 500-foot jug up the static line. As soon as he weighted the jugs, however, he was quite surprised to find himself taking the mother fucker of all pendulum swings. He swung out so far from the wall that his screaming pinched down to the decibel of a whisper, before the volume on that shriek rose as he swung back in to the cliff.

 

How Not To Propose

In case you haven’t seen this, a dude from Fresno loaded up on meth, proposed to his girlfriend, then free-soloed up Moro Rock and had to be rescued. It’s unclear whether she accepted the grand gesture.

When I decided to propose to Jen, my best friend and my favorite climbing partner, I thought it would be cool to clip a ring to the anchor of route we always do together as a warm-up. The first opportunity I got to place the ring at that anchor, however, was on a freezing cold October day. Jen hates being cold and she especially hates climbing in the cold.

I went up the route and my fingers went wooden. There’s no way Jen’s going to do this route in these temps, I thought. I almost aborted the whole mission, but decided to go through with it. I clipped the ring to the anchors, and then lowered down.

“Was that really cold?” Jen asked.

“Not too bad,” I said.

“I don’t want to,” she said.

“You have to!”

“Why?”

For some reason, I just blurted out, “Because I don’t want my climbing partner to be a pussy.” Plus, I knew that would work on Jen because she’s such a badass. Sure enough, she shot me a grimacing sidelong glance, then sat down to put on her climbing shoes.

“Oh, and I accidentally left a carabiner up there at the anchor,” I said. “Maybe you could get that, too.”

Half way up the route, her fingers went numb. “It’s too cold, I want to come down!” she wailed.

“Just do it!” I yelled back.

When she got up to the anchor, she grabbed the carabiner with the ring on it, and just clipped it to her harness without even looking at it. My heart sank momentarily. Then she clipped the rope into the anchor, and said, “Take!”

She looked at the carabiner with a ring, and shouted down to me, 70 feet below her, “What is this?”

And I shouted back, “What’s your answer?”

And she shouted back, “What’s your question!?”

And I asked, and she said yes, and it all worked out, of course. We didn’t even need a helicopter rescue.

And that brings me to the biggest news that happened this week in climbing, at least for me and Jen. We got to welcome our daughter into the world on April 7. And a new adventure into fatherhood begins … wish me luck!

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This Week in Climbing http://eveningsends.com/this-week-in-climbing/ http://eveningsends.com/this-week-in-climbing/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 06:00:03 +0000 http://eveningsends.com/?p=5837

Well, well. If it isn’t the July 4th weekend? Looks like summer is officially here, which means my spring project just became my fall project. No need to bother with actual rock climbing this time of year. So … What to do instead? I like to get my Jersey-Shore look going, so I spike up my […]

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Well, well. If it isn’t the July 4th weekend? Looks like summer is officially here, which means my spring project just became my fall project. No need to bother with actual rock climbing this time of year. So … What to do instead?

I like to get my Jersey-Shore look going, so I spike up my hair with a dab of liquid chalk, and spray-tan as much as possible. The orange hue instantly makes me look like I climb harder—at least that’s what I tell myself.

But if grooming that Jersey-Shore look isn’t your cup of muscle-milk tea, the next best thing might be to geek out with some online climbing spray.

Here’s what’s been happening in the climbing world:

 

Vail: America’s One World Cup

America gets one World Cup competition a year, which can only mean it’s the biggest and best of all the World Cup competitions and therefore the only one worth paying attention to. For some reason, it takes place in Vail during the mediocre multi-sport circus called the Go Pro Games.

We all assumed that Adam Ondra would dominate the men’s field, and Alex Puccio—who has been bombarding us with one Instagram after another of her hardcore training that appeared to be turning her into a female version of the Hulk—would crush the women like bugs.

A photo posted by Alex Puccio (@alex_puccio89) on

Instead, Ondra took third, causing him to throw several temper tantrums back in iso, and Puccio didn’t even get to compete because, sadly, she tore her knee in iso. Serious bummer vibes in iso!   Although this is a huge bummer for the Pooch, the good news is that we can expect to see even more Instagrams of her recovery process, which is probably just as inspiring as watching her win a World Cup … Sort of.        

A photo posted by Alex Puccio (@alex_puccio89) on

 

The surprise victories by the young, up-and-coming Megan Mascarenas, and the strong second-place finish by the barely-out-of-high-school Nathaniel Coleman, brought America all the glory it deserves.

But our favorite part of the World Cup? This video:

 

Third Day On, Best Day On

After his third-place finish, and shortly before his flight back to Europe, Adam Ondra popped into Rocky Mountain National Park to make an unprecedented flash of Jade (V14).

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Discovered by Dave Graham in 2001 and first climbed by Daniel Woods in 2007, the problem was initially graded V15. Adam’s flash is almost certainly the hardest to date.

In this video, Graham and several others watched in awe as Adam absolutely owned some of the hardest moves that have ever been done, making those crimps his bitches and locking off like a robot.

The completely ridiculous display of strength prompted a slack-jawed Graham to ask, “Did you think it was hard?”

Adam replied, “Sure.” Awesome.

In five years, no one will remember who won the Vail games, but everyone will remember who made the first flash of Jade. This is why real rock climbing rocks.

Adam Ondra Flashes Jade 8B+ from Sean Morgan on Vimeo.

 

The Heart of Sandbag

Early summer is always a productive time in the Valley, and the recent free ascent of the Heart Route on El Cap—sort of a direct start to Golden Gate—is a great example. Crack-crushers Mason Earle and Brad Gobright completed this 34-pitch 5.13b on June 17, after seven consecutive days on the wall.

Heart Route 1

HeartRoute

Earle graded the crux, sixth pitch 5.13b despite having a V10 sideways dyno  on it.

Hey … wait. Didn’t the Dawn Wall have a V11 sideways dyno that Tommy and Kevin called 5.14d? Something doesn’t quite add up, there. Either Mason is a serious sandbagger or the Dawn Wall is softer than an ice-cream sandwich on Glacier Point in July.

Congrats to Mason and Brad because, all jokes aside, this is a legitimately badass achievement: proud new line, with hard climbing, that climbs through one of El Cap’s most recognizable features.

Brad and Mason, sweet victory at last. Photo: Ben Ditto.

Brad and Mason, sweet victory at last. Photo: Ben Ditto.

 

Tween Spray

Ashima Shiraishi and Kai Lightner, 14 and 15 years old, respectively, just wrapped up a visit to the Flatanger Cave in Norway, aka, Ondra’s Lair.

Although they appear to have had their sights set on taking down one of the 9a-or-harder routes in the cave, the two youth climbers had to settle for what is everyone else’s distant dream and do some second-try ascents of some 5.14b’s instead.

@kailightner sending Muy Verdes 8c/5.14b Great effort Kai!

A photo posted by Brett Lowell (@brettlowell) on

 

@ashimashiraishi sending Nordic Flower 8c/5.14b second try! the kids are finding their flow, so impressive. A photo posted by Brett Lowell (@brettlowell) on

 

Chris Sharma climbs a Redwood tree in Eureka, CA, USA on 18 May, 2015.

Photo: Keith Ladzinski / Red Bull Content Pool

 

Jumbo Wood

Fresh off the early spring send of El Bon Combat, a potential 5.15b/c, Chris Sharma has moved on to top-roping big trees in the Redwood forest.

It’s easy to see how someone could get bored of bagging amazing first ascents on perfect Spanish limestone year after year, so this certainly seems like a natural progression.

Jared Leto, some actor, is now climbing

“Did you hear that Sasha DiGiulian is in Rifle today with Jared Leto?” someone said the other week.

“That’s cool,” I said. “But who the fuck is Jared Leto?”

@jaredleto sent the climb! @vailmtn #GoPro @mountaingamesvail @gopro #proudcoach   A photo posted by Sasha DiGiulian (@sashadigiulian) on

Apparently he’s an actor, and a famous one at that. The thing that probably makes him a big deal to us is that he has been spending his last week climbing with the likes of Sasha, Tommy Caldwell, Alex Honnold and Renan Ozturk. Those are the real stars!

We’re looking forward, if skeptically, to seeing Leto’s upcoming film that we assume will have some kind of climbing in it. Despite being trained by some of the very best, we’re also pretty sure that this will be yet another hatchet-job bastardization of climbing by Hollywood.  

 

 

We get it! You’re in Céüse and we’re not! Stop rubbing it in our fat faces!

Matty Hong dispatched Le Cadre Nouvelle Version, also climbed by Jonathan Siegrest a month prior. The line resides in the Biographie sector of Céüse.

J-Star described the line as, “A little bit of everything,” adding that a “classic power move kept me coming back,” foiling his redpoint attempts despite continuously sticking it off the dog.

11108228_10155685246830594_5250261652272150417_n

Others are in Céüse, too. We know because they post about it. Every. Freakin’. Day.

Not that we’re jelly …

 

Lama. Beamer. Baller.

When David Lama isn’t buzzing around Cerro Torre in helicopters, he’s rolling up to da’ glacier in a fresh, new Beamer. Here, he stars in BMW’s latest campaign, #BMWstories and/or #MeinWegDorthin, whatever that means.

Leo Houlding was (is?) sponsored by Audi, so this isn’t the first time we’ve heard of a luxury car company stoking out a climber. The obvious next step is for General Motors to set up to the plate and sponsor an American climber.

For example, we think James Lucas, AKA the “Last Dirtbag,” whose Saturn died last year, should get a brand-new Buick. No Sprinter for Peaches just yet.

Signs of the Apocalypse …

Nike is jumping into the climbing-shoe market with this prototype shoe.

Nike

To get a pair, expect to camp outside of your local REI a few nights before their release and pay a lot of extra money because, they’re “limited.” Don’t take them out of the box, save them for a few years. Then re-sell them on ebay.

Finally, Google has made it so that you don’t even need to leave your computer to climb the Nose. On second thought, that might be a good thing. Maybe it’ll be less crowded this year …

Probably not, though. Probably not.

 

 

Disclaimer: This Week in Climbing may not appear every. Also, not every story actually happened “this week.”  

Additional “reporting” by Andrew Bisharat.

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Stunt of the Day: Ice Climbing Niagara Falls http://eveningsends.com/stunt-day-ice-climbing-niagara-falls/ http://eveningsends.com/stunt-day-ice-climbing-niagara-falls/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 19:37:45 +0000 http://eveningsends.com/?p=5289

One of the most popular stories on Evening Sends last year was one in which I wondered who would make the first ascent of Niagara Falls following its deep freeze from the Polar Vortex. I posted that article as a bit of a lark, and was really surprised to see how much traffic it received. Either way, […]

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One of the most popular stories on Evening Sends last year was one in which I wondered who would make the first ascent of Niagara Falls following its deep freeze from the Polar Vortex. I posted that article as a bit of a lark, and was really surprised to see how much traffic it received. Either way, I never actually thought someone would ice climb one of the world’s most famous—and protected—waterfalls.

Of course, I was wrong and of course it was none other than Will Gadd to have nabbed the honors of picking his way up a beautiful swath of brittle spray-ice. Apparently, his ascent required a lot of planning and logistics to get the permission required to achieve his “stunt,” as a local television station accurately described it. His sponsor, Red Bull, took on the task of obtaining this level of clearance and actually succeeded in getting it. In fact, gaining access to climb Niagara Falls is certainly much more impressive than actually climbing it—Mark Synnott wrote a nice piece for National Geographic that describes those logistics. That said, I wouldn’t really want to lead this pitch as it looks mildly horrifying to be climbing next to hundreds of thousands of tons of raging water mere feet away.

The ascent was supposed to be on the down-low, but the story leaked out on a local news station and so Red Bull just went with it. My friend Keith Ladzinski was on the scene, capturing the beautiful photos of the ascent. He said Gadd made the WI 6 route look “super easy.”

Will Gadd Ie climbing Niagra Falls first ascent

IMG_6077

Will Gadd climbing the frozen Niagra Falls first ascent

Anyway … What I want to know is that now that this stunt is over, will Will give me the credit I think I deserve for coming up with this stunt idea? I mean, clearly none of this would’ve happened without me, me, ME!?!?

Now, the only question left is: What’s the next stunt going to be? My vote goes to the first person who can combine an ice-climbing ascent with a barrel descent of Niagara Falls. Based on my current success rate of forecasting these types of things, I predict this will happen within the year …

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Live the Dream: Get Paid to Climb http://eveningsends.com/live-dream-get-paid-climb/ http://eveningsends.com/live-dream-get-paid-climb/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 16:57:41 +0000 http://eveningsends.com/?p=5201

The life of a sponsored climber is one to envy. Unlike other professional athletes who are beholden to such duties as playing for teams, showing up to practices and winning games, the sponsored climber floats along from one country to the next, posting selfies along the way. He answers to no one or nothing, least […]

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The life of a sponsored climber is one to envy. Unlike other professional athletes who are beholden to such duties as playing for teams, showing up to practices and winning games, the sponsored climber floats along from one country to the next, posting selfies along the way. He answers to no one or nothing, least of all the alarm clock. He wakes up and wonders, “Which rocks in what forest shall I spend my day brushing?”

Spain_lifestyle_3_31_1_153

While it’s true that companies actually pay people to live like this, in reality, going climbing is only one part of the equation. And I think that’s where people get tripped up. They think that they need to reach a certain level in their climbing in order to get their climbing trips or goals funded. “If only I can climb 5.14d, then maybe I can some free shoes and a trip to Ceuse!”

The fact is, I know a few 5.14+ climbers who don’t have any sponsors, and a few very well sponsored climbers who could barely swing across a set of monkey bars. In other words, how hard you climb may or may not have anything to do with it; it’s just one part of the equation.

Nina Caprez slapping the shit out of this 5.14 in 4 tries, verdon gorge

There’s a lot of money out there to support climbers of all abilities, yet only a few people seem to be willing to actually try and get some of it. The American Alpine Club, for example, gives over $100,000 in grant money to climbers each and every year! There are such grants as the Mountaineering Fellowship Grant for budding alpine climbers 25 years old and under, or the Zach Martin Breaking Barriers grant that gives money to teams looking to complete a humanitarian objective first and a mountaineering-based one second.

“There have been some perceptions that the same professional climbers receive the grants every year,”says Paul Gagner of the Lyman Spitzer Award committee. “While at times there has been some truth to this, it is only because of a thin candidate pool. There are lots of non-professional climbers and women doing amazing things out there. We need to encourage them to apply!”

Enter the AAC Live Your Dream grant. Erik Lambert, the Information and Marketing Director of the AAC, explains:

“The AAC is a club for all climbers. We realized a few years ago that our grants did a fantastic job of pushing the boundaries of climbing in the great mountain ranges of the world. While inspirational to everyone, these grants were only available to elite climbers—so we created the Live Your Dream Grant to encourage everyday climbers to pursue their dreams, too. We’ve provided seed money for about 100 climbers to live out their climbing dreams, no matter how big or small, and hopefully given them the confidence and opportunity to gain skills that will allow them to dream even bigger next time.”

spain_Margalef_4_12_2011_2538

Already the LYD grant has helped a team of climbers from Arizona put up a new big-wall route in the tepuis of Venezuela. The grant also sent two women from Utah to the Bugaboos for their first taste of alpine rock climbing. And it’s even sending a gym climber to Squamish to learn how to climb outdoors.

In all cases, however, media plays a significant role in terms of getting your dream trip funded. One important part about getting paid to climb is being able to share your experience in an inspiring way using all of today’s multimedia storytelling tools: from the written word, to motion pictures, photographs, blogging, and social media.

Whitney climbing in Sicily. Photo: Andrew Burr

Whitney climbing in Sicily. Photo: Andrew Burr

Simply put, the AAC wants to pay you to go climbing, and what they want in return is exposure.

Putting together all of that media, and making it high quality, really separates those who get sponsored or win grants, and those who don’t. So in that sense, the old truism that there’s no such thing as a free lunch rings true here, too. But if you’re a savvy person with a knack for storytelling, it is possible to work the system and get your dream climbing trip funded.

Photo Apr 23, 5 28 21 AM

Dream something up. Think about all the ways you can tell your story creatively. Then apply for the American Alpine Club Live Your Dream Grant. The application period is now open through March 1. Do it!

Grant-writing tips are found here.

And once you get that grant, don’t be afraid to use that grant as leverage to approach companies with further sponsorship opportunities—whether that’s just additional gear or, if you’re lucky, actual cold, hard cash. Once companies see that the AAC recognized you, you have your ticket, and you’re actually going, they will pay attention. Shoot for the moon, too. You stand only to gain.

After all, someone has to live the dream. Why not you?

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More Notes from the Dawn Wall http://eveningsends.com/notes-dawn-wall/ http://eveningsends.com/notes-dawn-wall/#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2015 16:37:00 +0000 http://eveningsends.com/?p=5134

It’s difficult to capture in words the painstaking nuance and utter improbability that is really hard, really technical rock climbing such as what is going down on the Dawn Wall this week. Yet it’s worth trying because it’s in those details that climbing is elevated from athletic to aesthetic. This week on El Cap, two […]

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It’s difficult to capture in words the painstaking nuance and utter improbability that is really hard, really technical rock climbing such as what is going down on the Dawn Wall this week. Yet it’s worth trying because it’s in those details that climbing is elevated from athletic to aesthetic.

This week on El Cap, two of the best climbers in the world are peaking physically and giving their sport’s greatest venue the performances of their lives. For that reason I think that all the media attention is deserved. Fortunately, Brett Lowell and Corey Rich are up there documenting these efforts. I think we’re all stoked to see the footage that comes out of their cameras this week.

On that note, check out my latest piece for National Geographic, an interview with Corey about his process and some captions to go along with some pretty sick photos.

Tommy Caldwell sent the last 5.14 pitch of the Dawn Wall, pitch 17, last night. Photo Corey Rich

Tommy Caldwell sent the last 5.14 pitch of the Dawn Wall, pitch 17, last night. Photo Corey Rich

 

1/7 Update

Progress on the Dawn Wall continues. Last night (1/6) Tommy Caldwell redpointed the “second half” of pitch 16—a long stretch of 5.14a liebacking in a corner just above the dyno. This means that Caldwell has now sent all the 5.14s on the Dawn Wall.

“There’s this big learning curve every year, where you have to re-learn the language of the rock,” explained Tommy, speaking to me on his cell phone during an interview on January 5. “But I feel totally dialed in and fluent to that language right now. Like, my brain is just in sync in with the rock.”

Kevin, meanwhile, has a hole in his finger in one of the worst possible places: far forward on the tip. I know from experience that this is one of the most difficult spots to tape well. By all accounts, he’s as close to sending pitch 15 as you can get.

Kevin's fingers

Kevin’s fingers

“The hold he’s falling on is one of the smallest, sharpest holds on the route,” said Tommy. “You can only grab it with two fingers, and both those fingers on Kevin are taped up. It’s makes it a lot harder.”

 

Tommy down climbing pitch 16 in the dark three nights ago to circumnavigate the Dyno. Almost 200 feet of climbing to skip one move! Photo: Corey Rich

Tommy down climbing pitch 16 in the dark three nights ago to circumnavigate the Dyno. Almost 200 feet of climbing to skip one move! Photo: Corey Rich

Explaining Pitch 16: How Tommy got around the Dyno

Pitch 16 is now two pitches. The “Loop Pitch” (a 5.13+/14a) down climb. And a 5.14a corner above it (pitch 17).

The Loop Pitch is Tommy’s crafty solution to avoiding the Dyno—the 8-foot sideways leap that came to be emblematic of the Dawn Wall’s difficulty thanks to various films over the years. Now Tommy reverses 20 feet of pitch 15, down climbs 80 feet, traverses over to a corner and then climbs back up the corner to reach a no-hands stand just above the Dyno. The climbing on the Loop Pitch is 90 percent on top-rope. And at 5.14a, it’s probably the hardest down climb on El Cap.

From that no-hands rest/belay, there’s either pitch 17, or the remainder of pitch 16—depending on how you look at it. Pitch 17 climbs a sustained 5.14a lieback corner. And it’s the last pitch of 5.14 on the Dawn Wall.

 

Dawn of a new day. Photo by Corey Rich

Dawn of a new day. Photo by Corey Rich

The 7 5.14s of the Dawn Wall

On this push, Tommy has climbed a total of 7 pitches of 5.14. By grade, those are:

5.14a (p7)

5.14a (p10)

5.14b (p12, the Molar Traverse)

5.14d (p14, the first crux traverse)

5.14d (p15, the second crux traverse)

5.14a (p16, the Loop Pitch)

5.14a (p17)

 

What’s Left for Tommy

There are three more pitches of hard 5.13 climbing left before the terrain eases off. Pitches 18-20 go at 5.13c, 5.13c, 5.13d. All three pitches are really long—about 180 feet. Tommy is not treating any of the pitches lightly, despite the fact that they are relatively easier than what he’s already climbed.

“I’m feeling really fit and my body is holding up really well. I’ve been doing wall yoga and push-ups and that’s helped keep my body feeling normal after 11 days on the wall. Eating better food this time has also helped. My skin is thin; that’s the main concern. But all the training I’ve done this year is coming through for me right now.”

 

Kevin on pitch 15. Photo Corey Rich

Kevin on pitch 15. Photo Corey Rich

Kevin’s Plan for Pitch 16

Kevin’s goal is to try to climb pitch 16 via the Dyno, through to the no-hands stance, and continue climbing the 5.14a lieback corner (Tommy’s pitch 17). However, he admits that it takes a little pressure off knowing that he can always break pitch 16 up into two pitches as well: The Dyno to the no-hands. Then from there up the 5.14a lieback corner.

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 9.20.26 AM

Kevin on the Dyno from an earlier season

 

“I’ve stuck the Dyno several times,” Kevin said to me on Monday. “I’ve even linked it once, climbing from up from the portaledge. I’m not too worried about the Dyno. It’ll taken  little while to remember it. I know it’ll come together. I’ve also linked from the no-hands above the Dyno to the top. My intention is to do it all in one because it would be super rad. Then, if I have to adapt, we’ll see how it goes. We’re climbing no-hands to no-hands everywhere else on the wall, so it’s pretty logical if it has to go the other way, too.”

 

Not bad for Kevin’s first El Cap route

Thus far, Kevin has sent 4 of the 7 5.14s. Two of those 5.14s were his first time redpointing: the Molar Traverse (5.14b) and pitch 14 (5.14d).

Kevin: “Clipping the chains on pitch 14 was definitely a high point. I’d never done that pitch. I fell off the last move about a month ago. I knew it was possible, but that’s still different from having actually done it.

“That’s how all the crux pitches are. I haven’t redpointed any of them [till now]. Doing pitch 12 was memorable. That shut me down on our first push. And it felt like a totally different pitch this year—not even in the same ballpark.

“When I get to the top I’m going to drop my harness and never put it back on again. [Laughs]. I’m not literally going to do that, by the way.”

 

Kevin's fingers on the crux holds of pitch 15. Screen grab by SparkShot Climbing

Kevin’s fingers on the crux holds of pitch 15. Screen grab by SparkShot Climbing

The Pitch 15 campaign

A redpoint of pitch 15 has, thus far, eluded Kevin. The battle, in his words:

“You have to climb a long section of 5.13c just to get to the crux of pitch 15. So you have to endure a lot of crimping. Basically what will happen is that my tape wraps separate from each other. At the crux, the strip will peal away and cause a little rolling.

“The move is that you take that crimp and picture manteling it in order to move left. You’re not just pulling straight down on that edge because you have to do an iron cross. There’s so little friction on that hold that I can’t move as statically as I need to. And the left hand I’m moving towards is really bad. You have to hold this position while you shuffle your feet and get your left heel on. It’s a long time to spend on those little razors.

“It’s definitely a pain tolerance and friction type of crux. The moves are hard but the issues is, you have to want to grab. And you have to not give a fuck about how much it hurts. Which is kinda hard to do.”

 

Tommy's fingers. Strong looking nub there, TC! Photo: Corey Rich

Tommy’s fingers. Strong looking nub there, TC! Photo: Corey Rich

The Media Frenzy

No other climb has been as well documented as the Dawn Wall. The New York Times has a reporter in Yosemite covering this ascent. Major television networks have covered the ongoing process, to the forehead-slapping chagrin of the core climbing community.

For Kevin and Tommy, there has been a level of balance and discipline between trying to focus on the grand adventure and experience as it unfolds, as well as broadcast the news via social media as it happens.

Tommy: “I almost feel obligated at this point to continue posting. It’s been a tough balance. I’m not doing a ton of interviews. It was something I was really uncomfortable with at first. But I feel such overwhelming support from the climbing world. I’ve gotten such great feedback that I feel obligated at this point to continue posting to Instagram and Facebook. It’s become such an integral part of this climb.”

 

Free Climbing, Not Free Soloing

Of course, the general public has continued to make the understandable error of conflating free soloing and free climbing into one interchangeable term to describe what a bunch of thrill-seeking yahoos with a death wish do on the rocks instead of go to the mall and buy more shit they don’t need like most people in America.

And yet … From my perspective great advances have been made in terms of educating the general populace about the nuances of climbing. I think it’s worth being thankful for the fact actual roped rock climbing—something akin to what all of us go out and do every day, albeit on our own vastly more mediocre levels—is generating headlines. And not free soloing this time. That’s great for the sport climbing in general.

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It’s On Like Dawn for Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson http://eveningsends.com/like-dawn-tommy-caldwell-kevin-jorgeson/ http://eveningsends.com/like-dawn-tommy-caldwell-kevin-jorgeson/#comments Sat, 03 Jan 2015 22:18:28 +0000 http://eveningsends.com/?p=5108

I just wrote a news story for National Geographic Adventure recapping Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson’s ongoing push—and highpoint—on their Dawn Wall project. Check it out. For the core climbing world, I thought I’d provide more details about the ascent, which I learned after speaking to Tommy on the phone on Friday, January 2, during a […]

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I just wrote a news story for National Geographic Adventure recapping Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson’s ongoing push—and highpoint—on their Dawn Wall project. Check it out.

For the core climbing world, I thought I’d provide more details about the ascent, which I learned after speaking to Tommy on the phone on Friday, January 2, during a well-deserved rest day for the team. The day before, New Year’s day, both Tommy and Kevin fired pitch 14: the first traversing pitch, which is rated 5.14d.

Today, they are working on pitch 15, also 5.14d, which thus far only Tommy has redpointed (in 2013).

Because I already wrote a complete recap for National Geographic—which, again, I hope you take the time to read!—I’m just going to compile some facts, quotes and notes for you core climbers to sift through. Enjoy. I can safely say that the climbing world is rightly excited to see this thing go down, and that we’re all rooting for Tommy and Kevin to get er done.

 

Day 1: December 27: Pitches 1-5. Swap leads.

p1: 5.12b

p2: 5.13a

p3: 5.13c

p4: 5.12b

p5: 5.12d

 

On style:

Tommy: “Yeah, we are trying for a ‘team free’ ascent. We want to both free very pitch. We started out swinging leas. Then, at some point it just doesn’t really make sense. When we reached pitches where we had to try them a bunch [to redpoint], we would just alternate [lead] tries. If one person sends it, the other person would just top rope it afterwards. So far this has worked out great. There’s enough sketchy gear up here that, mentally, it’s a lot easier to just top-rope [certain] pitches. We can play off each other’s strengths that way.”

Day 2: December 28: Pitches 6-9

p6: 5.13c – TC leads first go. KJ follows TR first go.

p7: 5.14a – (the first 5.14 pitch, obvi). KJ sent second go. TC follows on TR first go.

p8: 5.13d – TC sends in three goes. KJ sends in two.

p9: 5.13c – KJ sent second go. TC first go.

 

Day 3: December 29: Pitch 10

Supposed to be a rest day. Alex Honnold pops in to bring treats and show Tommy and Kevin support. They decide to climb.

 

Taking 3 attempts each, both send p10: 5.14a.

Pitch 10: Photo: Brett Lowell / Big Up Productions

Pitch 10: Photo: Brett Lowell / Big Up Productions

 

Pitch 10, according to Kevin: “50′ of two finger pin scar lie backing protected by 7 consecutive beaks leads to a 20′ permanently wet section for both hands and feet. Nails. After a good rest where you can dry your hands and shoes, you climb 35′ of 5.12 terrain. This all leads up to a crux undercling boulder problem capped by a nerve wracking, tenuous face traverse to the anchors (pictured).”  

Day 4: December 30. Rest.  

 

On food:  

Tommy: “One of the nice things about climbing in the winter is it’s like a refrigerator up here. We brought a giant tupperware with bell peppers, avocados, cucumbers, salami sandwiches. We have three double portaledges set up. It’s like a five-star hotel up here!”  

Photo: Tommy Caldwell

Photo: Tommy Caldwell

  By the skin of it: Tommy: “It’s the most chapping environment in the world up here. Windy. Cold. Super dry. We’re grabbing razor blades. I wake up twice a night and reapply lotion to my hands. We sand our fingertips to keep them smooth. We sand our shoe rubber. … I’m not usually a very anal person, but I’ve gotten really dialed in on this route and analyzed everything. Skin care is part of it.”  

Day 5: December 31. Pitches 11-12

p11: 5.13c – TC leads. KJ follows.

p12: 5.14b – “The Molar Traverse” – KJ leads after a few attempts, surpassing his high point. TC follows after a few attempts.

Tommy sending pitch 11 (5.13c). Photo: Brett Lowell / Big Up Productions

Tommy sending pitch 11 (5.13c). Photo: Brett Lowell / Big Up Productions

 

More on the Molar Traverse This was a major crux for the team on their first push attempt in 2010. That year it took Tommy five tries to send it, and Kevin was unable to send. In 2011 it took Tommy as many, if not more tries, to redpoint the Molar Traverse. According to his wife, Becca Caldwell, who was belaying him that year, Tommy would come painfully close to sending but his feet would slip off the smears right toward the end.    

 

On warming up and tickmarks: Tommy: “To warm up, we jug about 100 feet and then we usually give a warm-up burn on whatever pitch we’re going to do. We re-work the moves, bolt-to-bolt style. The climbing is so technical that you have to map it out really well. Kevin is super good at that. He spends, like, an hour ticking holds and stuff before each hard pitch we try. Totally makes a road map for the climbing, and that’s all a warm-up, too.” (Check out Tom Evans’ blog to see the tick marks.)  

 

Day 6: New Year’s Eve. Pitches 13-14.

p13: 5.12d

p14: 5.14d

[Tommy: “Pitch 14 used to be pitch 13, but we added a belay at a no-hand’s stance.”] Both Kevin and Tommy lead, and send, pitch 14.

Tommy: “Oh snap. The hardest pitch got sent by both of us tonight. I might be in a little shock right now. The route is taking a toll on our fingertips as we are now both climbing with taped up fingertips, but it doesn’t seem to be slowing us down too much. Oh yeah!!!!” 

 

The Grand Traverses: the two hardest pitches in Yosemite, pitch 14-15, stacked right on top of one another in the middle of El Cap.

Pitch 14. 5.14d. TC first redpointed in November 18, 2014 and called it the hardest pitch on the Dawn Wall—harder than pitch 15. Kevin came close on this attempt, but didn’t send. As of January 1, 2015, both TC and KJ have redpointed pitch 14.

Pitch 15: 5.14d. TC first redpointed in 2013 after a rather tough season in which Yosemite was closed during the government shutdown. Also, Tommy fractured a rib when a haul bag took a whipper directly onto his harness. Never one to be slowed down by something like a little ripped rib, Tommy returned a few weeks later and sent p15, dubbing it (at that point) the hardest single pitch in Yosemite. Ostensibly, p14 has since claimed that title.

 

On Nerves:

Tommy: “I’m not too nervous. When I used to comp climb, or sport climb at Rifle, I would get really nervous. But big walls are, like, my zone. I know this mental space. I can just get there. I have just the right amount of nervousness right now. And I think Kevin is figuring that out, too. He’s striking that balance really well on this push. I will say this: It’s intense right now. It’s really, really intense.”

 

On the falling ice:

“We’re dodging chunks of ice all the time. IT’s getting better now but there was one really cold night all day long randomly the chunks flying down at us. When it’s warmer the chunks are small, but when it’s really cold the chunks are bigger, peel off. Wish that wouldn’t happen. It makes it feel like not only a big-wall adventure but like an alpine big wall adventure.”

 

What’s next:

Pitches 15, 16, 17 and 18 are all tough—how many days these pitches will take is unknown. In a best-case scenario, the two climbers are planning to tackle pitch 15 (5.14d) on January 3.

They will attempt pitch 16, the infamous “Dyno Pitch,” on January 4.

Pitch numbers 17 and 18 (rated 5.13c and 5.13d, respectively) could go down on January 5.

And if the two climbers can get through these four crux pitches, all that will remain is 12 more pitches of relatively easier climbing—“mostly 5.11, some 5.12 and one move of 5.13 climbing”—which might take upwards of three more days to complete due to the fact that they are expecting the pitches to be dirty and might need cleaning. If all goes according to plan, they could emerge on the summit of El Cap on January 9, after 14 days on the wall.

 

Pitch 16: The Dyno Pitch / “The Loop Pitch” (?) 

This pitch is probably the most famous pitch of the Dawn Wall thanks to the footage of Kevin and Tommy trying to latch a 6-foot horizontal dyno, which appeared in the film Progression and during various REEL Rock Tours.

According to Tommy, Kevin is still planing on attempting to stick the dyno move. Tommy, however, has felt that this move was too inconsistent for him to ever realistically complete. His plan, instead, is to do a giant “Loop Pitch,” which will involve reversing 20 feet down Pitch 15, down-climbing 50 feet from the belay, then coming back up the other side circumnavigating the belay stance (all while on top-rope) to re-join Pitch 16 at the end of the dyno.

Tommy says that this Loop variation is probably only 5.14a.

 

 

Update January 4, 2015

On January 3, Tommy sent pitch 15 (5.14d) on his second try. Kevin gave at least three burns, and came quite close to sending pitch 15 too, but did not manage to send. Tommy also sussed out all the moves on pitch 16, and will be trying to send his Loop variation this evening.

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Everest Coverage Continues … http://eveningsends.com/everest-coverage-continues/ http://eveningsends.com/everest-coverage-continues/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 15:52:21 +0000 http://eveningsends.com/?p=4795

A lot has been written about Everest’s darkest day, April 18, 2014, in which 16 sherpas died in an avalanche in the Khumbu Icefall after a large serac collapsed. This tragedy seems to have unleashed a lot of heated issues and emotions that were roiling just under the surface, which explains why this deadly day […]

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A lot has been written about Everest’s darkest day, April 18, 2014, in which 16 sherpas died in an avalanche in the Khumbu Icefall after a large serac collapsed. This tragedy seems to have unleashed a lot of heated issues and emotions that were roiling just under the surface, which explains why this deadly day continues to be discussed in the media.

Photo by Aaron Huey/National Geographic Elders attach prayer flags outside Phortse at an altar for Khumbila, the god of the Khumbu.

Photo by Aaron Huey/National Geographic
Elders attach prayer flags outside Phortse at an altar for Khumbila, the god of the Khumbu.

I added my own two cents to the discussion with my most recent Rock and Ice column, “Dead Sherpa Walking.” My take on the tragedy explores the question of whether it can be considered ethically responsible to continue guiding on the South Side of the mountain (the side with the Khumbu Icefall, which is where the majority of death occurs for the hired sherpa workers) when other options exist, whether that’s moving your commercial operation to the safer (but tougher) North Side of the mountain, or simply using helicopters to do a majority of the heavy lifting of establishing Camps 1 and 2 on the South Side.

“Dead Sherpa Walking” is out on the newsstands now (issue #222), so if you’re interested in reading my thoughts about this topic, please snatch up a copy and share your thoughts in the comments field below.

Photo by Aaron Huey/National Geographic Birds ride the wind as Lakpa Sherpa, a guide and expedition company owner, pauses for tea and a moment of reflection in 2013 among the peaks near Everest.

Photo by Aaron Huey/National Geographic
Birds ride the wind as Lakpa Sherpa, a guide and expedition company owner, pauses for tea and a moment of reflection in 2013 among the peaks near Everest.

NGM_nov_2014_cvrI was also interested to see that National Geographic has contributed some great reporting to this story. First, the November issue of National Geographic magazine contains an article by Chip Brown that paints an incredibly poignant, well-written recap of the tragedy and its aftermath. “Sorrow on the Mountain” falls in the tradition of other masterpieces of literary journalism. Bravo, Mr. Brown. All images are from the November issue. You can also see more images , and read Brown’s story, on the National Geographic website—I highly recommend it.

Photo by Aaron Huey/National Geographic Climbing Sherpas are part guide, part porter, part personal assistant, part coach, and part guardian.

Photo by Aaron Huey/National Geographic
Climbing Sherpas are part guide, part porter, part personal assistant, part coach, and part guardian.

Photo by Aaron Huey/National Geographic Da Nuru Sherpa coils rope at Camp II on Ama Dablam, perched like a spectacular bird’s nest at 19,600 feet.

Photo by Aaron Huey/National Geographic
Da Nuru Sherpa coils rope at Camp II on Ama Dablam, perched like a spectacular bird’s nest at 19,600 feet.

 

The Khumbu icefall creeps at an incredible rate of 3 feet per day. National Geographic has also put together a really fascinating graphic that uses satellite imagery and still photographs to pinpoint the source of the massive avalanche that killed 16 sherpas this year. Martin Gamache, the senior editor of cartography for NG, pieced together the evidence based on satellite imagery and still photographs taken this year.

Fateful Day At 6:45 a.m. on April 18, 2014, a massive section of ice calved off the hanging glacier on Mount Everest’s west shoulder and roared a thousand feet down into the upper Khumbu Icefall, killing 16 mountain workers—13 of them Sherpas and three from other Nepali ethnic groups—and injuring eight. It was the worst accident in the peak’s hundred-year climbing history. Credit: Martin Gamache, NGM Staff; 3D RealityMaps. Detail Photo (4/16/14): Andy Tyson. Sources: Andy Tyson, Alpine Ascents; Dave Morton, Adventure Consultants; Conrad Anker, The North Face; Richard Salisbury, Himalayan Database; Michael Ross, RER Energy

Fateful Day
At 6:45 a.m. on April 18, 2014, a massive section of ice calved off the hanging glacier on Mount Everest’s west shoulder and roared a thousand feet down into the upper Khumbu Icefall, killing 16 mountain workers—13 of them Sherpas and three from other Nepali ethnic groups—and injuring eight. It was the worst accident in the peak’s hundred-year climbing history.
Credit: Martin Gamache, NGM Staff; 3D RealityMaps. Detail Photo (4/16/14): Andy Tyson. Sources: Andy Tyson, Alpine Ascents; Dave Morton, Adventure Consultants; Conrad Anker, The North Face; Richard Salisbury, Himalayan Database; Michael Ross, RER Energy

I reached out to Gamache to ask him if he thinks the Khumbu Ice Fall is too risky to justify the trips through it? His answer reflected a lot of my personal feelings that I wrote about for Rock and Ice. Here’s his answer:

“I’m not sure if I’m qualified to answer that questions for others,” he responded. “Individual climbers  need to asses risk for themselves. The Khumbu has always been a dangerous place, but it has disproportionately killed young ethnic Sherpa and other porter men. I’m not sure how much more dangerous it is now, there has been no objective, quantitative, scientific analysis of risk from serac fall in the Khumbu so it’s hard to determine if it’s more dangerous now. Of course our perception of risk is high now in light of recent events, but human memory is short.  What needs to change is how that risk is managed, so that we have mechanisms in place to minimize risk  for everyone involved in climbing on the mountain.  Having a class of individual porters who bear the brunt of the risk  is inherently unethical. Proper risk assessment, monitoring, mitigation ( perhaps seasonal closures when seracs are too threatening, triggering  avalanches like we do for backcountry skiing), insurance and compensation should be in place for all who climb on the mountain. Once the cost for managing this risk is factored in, it may well be that we can no longer afford to climb Everest the way we do now. That is by having a group of poor, financially incentivized individuals, unfairly burdened with that risk, supporting a group of rich individuals spending a minimal amount of time exposed to those risks.”

Photo by Andy Tyson/National Geographic April 18, 2014 Rescuers in the Khumbu Icefall dig for survivors and bodies among mansion-size blocks of ice about three hours after the avalanche. Eleven of the 16 victims died at a single spot at upper left, where climbers are searching.

Photo by Andy Tyson/National Geographic
April 18, 2014 Rescuers in the Khumbu Icefall dig for survivors and bodies among mansion-size blocks of ice about three hours after the avalanche. Eleven of the 16 victims died at a single spot at upper left, where climbers are searching.

.What do you think? What changes should be made to commercial guiding on Everest in light of what we now know about the Khumbu Icefall?

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This Week in Climbing … http://eveningsends.com/week-climbing-10-22-2014/ http://eveningsends.com/week-climbing-10-22-2014/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 15:25:59 +0000 http://eveningsends.com/?p=4745

It’s been a somewhat disappointing fall. A large workload, and some unseasonably wet rock, has kept me off the sharp end of the rope and at the blunt end of my laptop keyboard for the past two weeks. Rocktober hasn’t been kind to me … or my belayer. She’s been waylaid with a knee injury […]

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It’s been a somewhat disappointing fall. A large workload, and some unseasonably wet rock, has kept me off the sharp end of the rope and at the blunt end of my laptop keyboard for the past two weeks. Rocktober hasn’t been kind to me … or my belayer. She’s been waylaid with a knee injury and an inconclusive MRI that suggests cartilage damage.  The doctor wants to get in there and scope it out—meaning he hasn’t done his homework and doesn’t actually know what’s wrong. At least there’s backgammon and football …

BrooklynLately I’ve been living in the future. Preparing for and dreaming about better days to come. This is a recurring theme for me around this time of year, perhaps in response to the foreboding nature of winter’s knock. Leaves grow sparser, nights grow longer. I find myself dreaming about future, brighter days—you know, the time when I can really enjoy life and not feel so overwhelmed all the time.

The irony, of course, is that this powerful mindset isn’t actually in the future. It’s already right here within me, within us all. There’s no time to enjoy life like right now.

No sends for me this Rocktober. I guess it’s time to get out to the desert!

Castleton Tower. Ivory Tower (5.13b) takes the arete where the white and red rock meet. FA by Chris Kalous and Sam Lightner Jr. Photo: David Clifford

Castleton Tower. Ivory Tower (5.13b) takes the arete where the white and red rock meet. FA by Chris Kalous and Sam Lightner Jr. Photo: David Clifford

Elsewhere, crushing is happening. Let’s take a look:

 

Pete “Wide Boy” Whittaker Footnote Flashes El Cap

The Wide Boyz Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker have once again emerged from their U.K. training dungeon to pay a visit to the United States and lay the hurt on our good old American stone. This time, they set their sights on a flash of Freerider, El Cap’s “easiest” free climb at 5.12d/13a. (Check out their blog for the full report.)

Wide Boyz

Here’s how they did it: the two climbed the Freeblast. Descended. Came back. Jugged up to Heart Ledges. Climbed the next six pitches. Spent the night, and faced the infamous “Teflon Corner” (5.12d) / “Boulder problem” (5.13a) fork. Whittaker went for the Boulder Problem pitch; fell; came back to the belay. He then went for an onsight of the Teflon Corner, and made it. Tom seconded, but slipped.

If you don’t count his fall on the Huber Boulder Problem pitch, Pete Whittaker successfully flashed an El Cap route. This is Freerider’s second “footnote flash”—i.e., a really impressive flash ascent that must qualified with one or two pesky details worth mentioning.

In 2009, the Cedric Lachat of Switzerland nabbed Freerider’s first footnote flash. He logged one fall on the Boulder Problem pitch, came down and onsighted the Teflon Corner instead—just like Pete Whittaker.

Lachat also climbed the first 10 pitches of the route, known as the Freeblast, and descended to the ground, only he stayed there for 10 whole days. It’s unclear how long Whittaker and Randall spent on the Valley floor after climbing doing the Freeblast, but I assume it was just one night.

The Wide Boyz are claiming a flash of the route, but the modern day Valley Christians are saying, “Not so fast, my wittle wide-cwimbing fwends.

It depends on how you define a flash of El Cap. To many, that means no falls … at all. And it also means ground-up. Probably most people will agree that the pinnacle expression of an ideal onsight or flash of El Cap would be to climb truly ground-up (i.e., no returning to the ground; no using fixed ropes; and no stashing food/water on the route). And of course to climb it with no falls, with one person leading every pitch, or with a team of two both leading and following free, and no falls for either one.

Cedric Lachat and now Pete Whittaker have both come equally (and impressively) close to achieving this ideal. But so far, a true ground-up flash or onsight of El Cap remains undone and open for the taking for whenever Adam Ondra decides to pay Yosemite a visit.

El Cap

Ever since “Team America” visited the Gritstone and made a mockery of England’s tiny, contrived rocks, the Brits have been bloodthirsty for redemption. Meanwhile, Americans have held fast to their position of completely not giving a shit which country has better climbers because we know it’s us. Perhaps this explains this comment on a U.K. climbing forum about the news of the Wide Boyz’s Freerider ascent:

“Barack Obama, can you hear me? Barack Obama, I have a message for you in the middle of your campaign. We have kicked the USA out of the Climbing World Cup.

Barack Obama, as you say in your language in the boxing bars around Madison Square Garden: Your boys took a hell of a beating!

Um … What?

In my opinion, probably the most impressive Freerider send to date is Ethan Pringle’s effort last spring. In one 36-hour push, Ethan climbed the whole thing ground up and either flashed or onsighted every pitch but one (he fell once; came down to the belay; then redpointed the pitch). His one fall cost him all the glory, but the fact that he did all that climbing, leading everything, in 36 hours is absolutely incredible—and oddly unsung.

Anyway … good job to the Wide Boyz! I truly do find their motivation, determination and grit inspiring. This video really captures what makes these two climbers so rad:

(Read more at a cool feature on Casio)

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 7.57.11 AM

Now get back to your training dungeon!

 

Sasha DiGiulian makes the first female ascent of blah blah … HOLY SHIT LOOK AT THIS WALL!

Sardinia

Impressive effort by Sasha DiGiulian and Edu Marin on Viaje de los Locos, a 5.14a big-wall in Sardinia that they both free-climbed this summer for its second ascent. Very proud effort by both climbers. I wrote a story about this ascent for both Red Bull and Red Bulletin. Sasha overcame some tough circumstances to climb this route, including her father’s sudden and recent death. The cruxes were reachy for her. And there was some rather run-out climbing, such as a 5.12c slab pitch that had only two bolts in 90 feet (Sasha worked up the courage to lead this on the day of the send.) Super proud effort.

Dat wall tho… (Photos by Christian Pondella/Red Bull Content Pool)

Sasha  DiGiulian - Action

Sasha  DiGiulian - Action

 

EiterAngie Eiter Sends 9a

Speaking of girls wearing the latest Red Bull fashion …

Angie Eiter just sent Hades (9a), in Nassereith, West of Innsbruck. This makes her the sixth or seventh woman to climb the grade.

As more women continue to climb 9a, I wonder who will be the first female to climb 5.15a? And which route will be the one?

.For more on the current state of female climbing, let’s turn to articles like this one …

 

50 Shades of Female Climbing:

This is the opener to an article that just appeared in the  Mercury News.

Ask most any woman why she rock climbs, and you’ll get some version of the same answer — it’s raw, empowering freedom.

When she climbs, she’s acutely aware of her body and its strength; she’s outside in the silent back country, with only the rock and a harness full of gear; she’s reaching into crevices and swinging her heel over ledges as she works her way to the top to take a gratifying look below her, breathing a sigh of relief.

The last time I read something about climbing that made feel this way (i.e., made me feel “funny”) was Spiderman Dan’s famous “Romancing the Stone” in Rock and Ice:

spiderdan

 

Honnold Free Solos Heaven (again)

After onsight free soloing this route a few years ago, Honnold has returned to chuck a lap on Yosemite’s airiest pitch for a commercial for his website, and also to continue to rub it in everyone’s face that he really is much, much better than everyone else.

Jimmy Chin also has a cool BTS post about working on this commercial. I was happy to see them using a jib arm instead of a helicopter drone to get those aerial shots. Less likely to crash into the athlete that way …

HonnoldHEaven

Heaven

 

This Week in Climbing may, or may not, appear every week. 

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