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Friday, October 27, 2006

Choss Master

I went to a slide show by Mike Anderson the other night, covering his seven, count ’em, first free ascents of big sandstone walls in Zion National Park in the past couple of years. He's a humble, funny speaker, the photos are excellent, and the show is well worth seeing if you get the chance.

I particularly liked one comment Mike made, only half joking, about training for traditional climbing: "All the sport climbers want to climb super-steep stuff like at Rifle, but it has no practical application," he said. "Vertical sport climbing is what you do to train for trad climbing: Smith Rock, Penitente, Shelf Road. Weird features, using your feet. It's kind of a lost art." I feel the same way about training at the gym: I try to force myself to stay mostly on vertical and slightly overhanging routes. Crimping and smearing on tiny, greasy plastic holds isn't as much fun as monkeying around on those big cave climbs, but it's a lot more like the outdoor climbs the vast majority of us do.

Hey, Mike: Free this! No amount of training is likely to allow a free ascent of the Shadow Line, the Zion route in this picture—at least not until it's been beaten out by more than the two ascents I know of...

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