All posts tagged: free climbing

Standing on the Shoulders: A Tribute to Royal Robbins

There’s a palpable energy within Yosemite Valley. One that has inspired past and present generations alike to seek adventure, exercise curiosity, and pursue self-discovery. Like many who have come before me, I have always felt a magnetic pull to this incredible place. The landscape’s unwavering indifference to those within it is strangely comforting. Perhaps it relieves the heavy burden of expectation weighting on our shoulders. Or perhaps the smell of pine needles and the sound of the bumbling river are simply soothing to the soul. While the granite walls are quiet and unresponsive, they are deeply saturated with the rich and ever evolving history of those drawn to this landscape. They line the Valley like a series of blank sheets, which, over time, have been etched with the artful stories of dreamers and creators. Each story builds upon the last and creates a foreword for future stories to come. Of all the personalities that have graced the walls of Yosemite, Royal Robbins left a particularly influential impact, forever changing the direction of climbing’s story. Robbins …

Pushing Through New Dimensions

“Regardless of our actual level of fitness, if we feel strong, agile, and adventurous, then we climb better than if we feel weak, clumsy, and meek. Climbing hard involves making moves that feel improbable, and continuing when the situation seems nearly hopeless.” – Arno Ilgner I jammed my hand into the crack, lifted my feet off the ground, and then jammed my feet into the crack. My muscles felt fatigued. As I climbed higher I placed two, three, four cams into the crack. Every move upward felt dense and heavy. Every move took effort. As I reached a small ledge, the top of the first pitch, I set up an anchor, pulled up the rope, and began belaying Andrea. The past week had been filled with some amazing climbing. In fact, the previous day, Andrea and I had an incredible time pushing hard – she redpointed her project and I onsighted my hardest route to date. But clearly all the challenging climbing was catching up to me and my endurance was wavering. It was the …

6 Must-Climb Cracks of Bishop

If you mention Bishop to a climber, chances are good that the first image that pops into their head is highball bouldering. While Bishop is best known for world class bouldering, what most climbers don’t realize is that hidden behind the hype of these giant pebbles is an amazing collection of beautiful crack climbs – and you don’t have to venture high into the Sierra to find them. Here’s a few to get you started: Sheila (5.10a) Dihedrals Area, Pine Creek Canyon This must-do moderate is located on the aesthetically angular blocks that make up the Dihedrals Area. After a thin traversing crack delivers you from the wall’s face into the corner, sinker jams lead up the middle of a large, clean-cut dihedral. As you approach the top, enjoy a short section of chimney climbing before reaching the anchors. V8 Crack (5.10d) Cardinal Pinnacle Located on a smaller formation just to the left of Cardinal Pinnacle proper, this striking crack zigs and zags through a prominent red streak that stains the granite wall. Once you reach the first …

Redefining Success

I tied into the rope and sat down to lace up my climbing shoes. I clapped my hands together and a cloud of chalk hovered in the air before me. I began picking my way up the steep limestone wall, placing my feet precisely on the tiny edges scattered like pennies on a sidewalk. The steep wall fueled a fire that had slowly started burning within my forearms. I paused as I reached a blank stretch of rock that blocked my next solid hand hold. I became acutely aware of the last bolt I had clipped, now just below my feet. My fingertips grew sweaty and slowly started peeling off the small edges. Shit, I’m going to fall. All hope of making the next move was lost as my body became rigid with fear. As I half-heartedly reached up for a sloping groove, gravity took hold and ripped me from the wall. At that moment I lost the one chance I had to onsight the route – but I was okay with that. When it …

The Birthday Challenge

You don’t have to be a sponsored climber to feel like a total badass. Haven’t you ever topped out a climb and felt like a complete champion? I know I have. It could be an airy 5.9 lead 2,000 feet off the deck, redpointing your first 5.11c, or having a climb so dialed that you don’t need to think twice before slotting that red C3 below the crux. You realize that there are people out there crushing harder than you, but for that one moment nothing could knock the sunshine from that ear-to-ear grin. This is the feeling I was after when I started planning my first Birthday Challenge. The Birthday Challenge is an arbitrary game played within the climbing community. The rules are simple: climb as many pitches as you are old to some degree or variation. The details are left for you to decide – sport, trad, top rope, free solo, routes with “poodle” in the name – the possibilities are endless. I first heard of this challenge when the video 35 was released almost a …