After an arduous time moving loads across 5 km of the white desert from base camp to advanced base camp we were poised to attempt the ridge. Leo had spent the morning with the enormous amount of climbing gear, getting his rack together, then, like an overburdened iron monger he stepped towards the massive wall and declared ‘I’m exhausted, I feel terrible and there’s ice in my boots. Let’s do it.’
When it comes to surviving and thriving in the battle with gravity, being a good climber is only part of the equation. I’ve been very fortunate to have climbed a very long time. Using my experiences over the years, I hope to offer some tips to reduce risk, preventable heartache and suffering.
When I sat down to write this story it was just supposed to be about this route in Yosemite called The Prophet which I completed this fall. As I started typing I realized that it was much more than just a route for me, and this made the writing process more difficult than just summing up a stack of pitches on a granite wall.
What exactly is the traditional game today depends on who you talk to. Some old-school traditionalists who say the modern game has ruined climbing. The younger generation rush to embrace modern tactics and ethics in search of ever steeper ground and harder grades.
Against all the odds, as well as my cheating climbing heart and the endless mountain passes separating us, I’m still head-over-heels for the bouldering in Bishop, California.
If you looked at the roster for the men’s competition this past January, you probably wouldn’t have picked first-time competitor Nathan Kutcher of St. Catharines to win top honors. “Nobody in the competition had ever even heard of this guy,” competition director and Ouray Ice Park co-founder Bill Whitt said. “But he came and dominated.”