Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Lizard King

The March issue of 5280 has my story about Albert Ellingwood and the 1920 first ascent of Colorado's Lizard Head peak, likely the first major rock climb in the United States where a rope and pitons—and the understanding of how to use them—were employed. Ellingwood (at right in the picture, with Lizard Head partner Barton Hoag) was the first American climber to seek out difficulty for its own sake; previous mountaineers had always sought the easiest way to a summit. Ellingwood even took the unprecedented step of returning to a peak after he had already climbed it, in order to try a more difficult line, the most famous example being his bold climb of the northern buttress of Crestone Needle (aka Ellingwood Ledges) in southern Colorado, which he pioneered in 1925, nine years after making the peak's first ascent. "Difficulty has a charm that is irresistible to many," he wrote. "The enthusiastic alpinist is completely happy only if his skill is severely taxed." With these sentiments and his astounding climbs, Ellingwood laid the foundation for all modern American climbing.

You have to buy 5280 to see my story, but you can read Ellingwood's first-person account of Lizard Head's ascent here.

2 comments:

George Bell said...

Those guys were studs, no question. I guess I'll have to get a copy of 5280!

Doug S said...

Looking forward to reading the piece. Great work on the blog. I understand how much time it takes to keep posting and just wanted to let you know that it is appreciated.