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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thursday Morning Time Waster

Late last year I wrote about Squamish climber Matt Maddaloni's attempt to free-climb a short 5.13 overhang with only a fishing net rigged in the trees for "protection." The results were amusing. And now there's video. Enjoy!


Thursday, January 17, 2008


Some days of climbing are just perfect. These days don't require a hard climb or an exotic destination; sometimes, in the usual places, quite by surprise, everything just seems to click. Last Sunday, with few options because of tight schedules and high avalanche danger, Greg Sievers and I headed to the classic frozen waterfall Jaws in Rocky Mountain National Park, even though we suspected it would be hyper-crowded on a sunny Sunday, it might be too warm to climb safely, and we'd both already done it a bunch of times.

To our surprise, perfection happened. Because the approach is so short, we could sleep in, and we didn't arrive at the trailhead until around 9:30—freakishly late for a climb in the Park. Just as we pulled in, two fat coyotes loped by the parking lot. The trail was packed but not icy. When we arrived at the route, four climbers already had ropes on the climb. But two of them were just finishing up for the day, and the other two were busy on one side of the broad formation, leaving us plenty of room to play on the other. We quickly banged out two laps, including a fun variation I'd never done, linking the tops of separate pillars in a rising traverse. Although the ambient temperature was well below freezing, it was warm enough in the sun to belay in a sweater. Wind whipped snow from the treetops overhead, but we were protected in an amphitheater. After a quick lunch on a sun-deck ledge, I led a steep pillar on the right side, now safely in the shade. I climbed well enough, and I was happy.



Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Dry Tooling

Pretty funny, and it turns out the climber is actually a serious performance artist, sculptor, and metal fabricator named Abe Ferraro. He was climbing a gallery wall in this bit. In another piece, at the Sculpture Space in Utica, New York, in 2006, Ferraro worked out on a Stationary Climber while connected to a jig that mirrored his movements and created drawings. "Contained within the drawing jig is a marker, which is linked via cables to both my arms, so as I extend either arm it causes the marker to move," Ferraro wrote. "The performance lasts as long as I can endure or a roughly predetermined time limit.... Through real sweat the Stationary Climber depicts the struggle (mentally and physically) that artists undergo during the realization of art."


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Now That's Inspiration

For proof that climbing can be a lifetime sport, look to Marcel Rémy, who is still climbing 5.10 in his 80s. The Swiss father of two of the most prolific first ascensionists in European history, Claude and Yves Rémy, Marcel was born in 1923 and is still at it 84 years later, despite two hip replacements. Luca Albertoni describes a trip to Kalymnos, Greeece, last spring where Rémy led routes up to 5.10b without falls and followed harder routes.

John Harlin recalls a funny story of arriving at the base of the Miroir d'Argentine, a 1,200-foot slab near his boyhood home in Leysin, Switzerland, and being disappointed to see an old man start up his chosen route just ahead of him. But that old man, Marcel Rémy, easily stayed ahead of Harlin all day. Magnifique!


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Not-So-Deep-Water Soloing in Antarctica

That's Spain's Jordi Tosas hoping he doesn't get his feet wet on a glacier snout in Antarctica. Tip of the hat to Desnivel.


Thursday, January 03, 2008

Trivia Challenge: The Answer

Last month I posed this question: What well-known American climber had the initials HBFC on his helmet, and what did they stand for? The answer is Ed Cooper, and the initials were for Herman Buhl Fan Club.

Cooper, who did major new routes on El Capitan, in the Cascasdes, and at Squamish and the Bugaboos, writes in his new book Soul of the Heights that he had a second set of initials on his helmet, but for many years he couldn't remember what they stood for! It was a mouthful: FSSSCCPNS. It wasn't until 2003, when someone sent him a photo of the summit register from Mt. Garibaldi in BC, that his memory was refreshed. Cooper had signed the register in 1961 and spelled out the acronym. FSSSCCPNS stands for Francis Sydney Smythe Solo Climbing Club , Pacific Northwest Section. Ah, but who was Smythe?