By Jasmin Caton
I have known Rich Wheater (AKA the Beater) and Senja Palonen (AKA the Spoodle) since my very first summer of rock climbing in Squamish. We were introduced by a mutual friend one morning at Starbucks (back then everyone hung out there to find a climbing partner in the morning) and they invited me to join them on a mission to climb Sunblessed on the backside of the Chief. Sunblessed was reputed to have a five-star second pitch of 5.10a crack climbing. Rich and Senja were kind enough to let me, a climber of a mere few months, lead this amazing pitch using their rack, and it was one of the most memorable days of my first climbing season.
[Above: Our cosy camp below the Incredible Hulk. Photo: Senja Palonen]
Continue reading "Scramblin' Around the Sierras with Spoodle and Beater" »
By Jeff Johnson
I used to dread the summers on the North Shore of O’ahu, Hawai’i. Famous for its winter surf, surfers from all over the world come to see what they are made of during a certain time of year. In the summertime, the waves go away and the crowds dissipate. My friends and I dreaded the four months of flatness. We eventually realized if we remained surf-centric we would have been primed for the loony bin. So we began embracing other ways to entertain ourselves.
We got into paddleboarding, which was perfect for staying fit for the next winter season. Then we got into outrigger canoe surfing and bought a four-man for the job. This eventually led to building a six-man sailing canoe to circumnavigate the island. Then a few of us bought one-man canoes for times when no one else was around. During the summer, our beach was packed with a fleet of ocean craft, ready for any condition, waves or no waves. Eventually, we all started looking forward to the summer months. No crowds, a flat, beautiful ocean, and all sorts of ways to enjoy it.
[Above: The author has finally joined Instagram. Follow his antics at @jeffjohnson_beyondandback. #funhogging]
Continue reading "Viva Los Fun Hogs – A #Funhogging Origin Story" »
By Dave N. Campbell
Sean O'Neill lead climbing the 2nd pitch of Jamcrack. ©Dave N. Campbell
Take a moment and imagine yourself in Yosemite. You are climbing up a steep rock face, above the trees, with Half Dome behind you, but you do not have the security of a rope that can pull you taut from above if you get tired or slip. Instead, you are lead climbing. Somewhere down below a friend is feeding you rope – you are tied in at the waist – and every ten feet or so, as you move upwards, you are obligated to wedge man-made devices into openings where the rock is fractured so you can clip your rope into them as a safety measure. You're putting your life on the line, trusting that the rope will eventually come tight on the most recent one of these devices if you fall.
Climbers refer to the procedure of lead climbing as being on the sharp end of the rope because of the inherent dangers involved and the accelerated focus that is required. And while advanced climbers constantly dream about being in this Yosemite scenario, I think it is fair to say that much of the rest of the population would find themselves in a nightmare.
Now picture yourself in this exact scenario – whether you are an experienced climber or novice – except that you are paralyzed from the waist down. This is where most of our imaginations trail off… but this spring in Yosemite Valley, paraplegic climber Sean O’Neill made this his reality by becoming the first “sit climber” to lead climb.
Continue reading "From a Wheelchair to the Sharp End – Story of the First Ever Paraplegic Lead Climb" »
By Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll
If you are chained to a wall in a dark dungeon famished rats will slowly nibble at your flesh. You can kick, scream and quiver all you want but the rats will sluggishly keep nipping away until they reach your heart and your body goes lifeless. Then they keep going until there is nothing left.
While that might seem like a torture scenario from the Middle Ages, I’ve seen it happen many times. When the bad weather comes, and stays, day after day, and you’re stuck in a tent, a cave or a portaledge, every day you wake up with renewed hope that is quickly crushed by the same old bad weather. Much like the rat slowly eating the corpse, the Patagonian weather has a way of slowly nipping at your motivation. It can transform the most eager and enthusiastic climber into an empty, burnt out, uninspired bum. And when the good weather finally comes, there is nothing left.
[Above: Cold conditions during a summit attempt on Cerro Catedral, in Torres Del Paine, Chile. All photos courtesy of Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll]
Continue reading "Of Rats and Men" »
Mark Sensenbach perches on a stool, back slightly hunched, eyes down, brows narrowed in concentration. His hands, toughened by mountains and work, maneuver the rubber sole of a climbing shoe against a sanding wheel.
His movements made smooth by practice, Mark runs the shoe back and forth, rotates and repeats. He draws it away from the wheel for a moment and thumbs around the edges of the shoe, feeling for imperfections. There must have been a few, because the shoe goes back to the wheel once again.
Mark looks up and smiles. “That’s pretty much how it goes in here,” he says, gesturing around his workshop.
Continue reading "The Art of the Resole" »
By Marta Czajkowska
Any wall climber will see that something is missing in that photo, trail line. The leader trails a small line so they can pull up a haul line to haul the bag. Right where the photo was taken, at the lip of the roof, Dgriff realized that he’d forgotten the trail line.
"You have to throw it to me!" he shouted.
"You know well enough that I can't throw," I replied as the sun was setting.
"I'm going to either down-lead and re-lead, which is going to take an hour or so, or you have to throw the line."
I started organizing my belay to gain time to wrap my head around the throwing. Dgriff yelled again using his favorite Kurosawa quote, "STOP STALLING AND THROW THE LINE OR WE WILL BE PLENTY DEAD!"
[Above: David Griffith heads up the final 20-foot roof pitch of Wet
Denim Daydream, Leaning Tower, Yosemite California. Photo: Marta
Continue reading "Throw the Line" »
By Hayden Kennedy
“Some declared it the climb of the century. But did anyone repeat GIV to confirm our illusion of it? Besides, does it make sense to declare a poem the poem of the century? Can you choose a woman of the century?” – Voytek Kurtyka writing about the Shining Wall on Gasherbrum IV
There are no winners or losers in climbing. How can there be? Isn’t the point of climbing to escape these themes of ego and competition? To surrender ourselves to the experience at hand whether that entails failure or success; to push beyond the surface of our own expectations and those others have of us into a deeper well of motivation, curiosity and mystery? In my life, some of the greatest moments have come from failure. And what does success truly mean? Reaching the summit is an obvious and logical yardstick, yet too much focus on that singular measure can blind us to more profound possibilities like surrendering ourselves to the experience at hand, regardless of whether it entails failure or success. As the prolific Mugs Stump once said, “We were stuck on a portaledge on the Eye Tooth for eight days… We don’t need the summit. Just being here, in the present, that’s enough.”
These were the thoughts going through my head when Kyle Dempster and I were lucky enough to get invited to the 21st Piolets d’Or ceremony in Chamonix. The annual event – held over four days with plenty of red wine and good French food – typically chooses a “best” alpine climb of the year and rewards that team with a golden ice axe. Kyle and I were nominated for our new route up the south face of Ogre I in Pakistan’s Karakoram Range.
[Above: Hayden descends Ogre I after making the third ascent of the mountain with Kyle Dempster. Karakorum Range, Pakistan. Photo: Kyle Dempster]
Continue reading "Piolets d’Or 2013" »
June 11, 1938–April 21, 2013By Cameron M. Burns
One of the greatest American climbers of the late 1950s and ’60s, Layton Herman Kor, died April 21 after a long battle with kidney problems and cancer.
The son of a Dutch mason (Jacob Kor) who came to the U.S. in 1897 from the Oldambt area of Groningen, the Netherlands, and a second-generation German-American (Leona Schutjer) from Iowa, Kor spent his early life in Canby, Minnesota and was particularly fond of swimming and fishing, especially during Minnesota’s hot summers. He loved the outdoors.Editor's note: We're grateful to author Cam Burns for sharing this
tribute with us. Layton Kor was beloved by many in the extended
Patagonia climbing family. Says Yvon Chouinard of Layton, “He and I were
Mutt and Jeff climbers, my 5'4" to his 6' plus. I’d get freaked out
belaying as he would quickly run out a long lead; I didn’t know if I was
going to be able to hold him. I never had to find out, even though we
climbed all over Yosemite and Chamonix. Back in camp he was just one of
[Above: photo courtesy of Glen Denny
Continue reading "Master of Stone: Layton Herman Kor" »