Climbing December/January 2020

Climbing offers the entire climbing world: sport, trad, bouldering, walls, ice, alpine and mountains. In each issue we offer the richest stories on the vertical world you'll ever read, with award-winning photography. Climbing has earned its moniker as the journal of record for climbers worldwide.

United States
Pocket Outdoor Media, LLC


god’s own stone

Last July, three friends and I were climbing at a quiet crag in the Rocky Mountain foothills. We clipped bolts on the wall’s swirly gneiss, which offers an interesting array of square-cut edges, deep, biting fingerlocks, sloper sidepulls, and pegmatite crimps. The rock quality at the cliff varies from brilliant to “Why was this bolted?”—in other words, it’s typical stone for the Front Range, which makes up for any deficiencies in quality with its staggering quantity. I’d redpointed a route with a sandy layback crux—the rock is so chossy where your feet go that you have to grind down the footholds with your toes to get them to stick, then kick the dust off your shoes—and then lowered. On the ground, we chatted about the closures in the Grampians, Australia. Two…


#VANSTRIFE In regards to the story “No Parking: How Squamish Regulations May Reshape #Vanlife” ( In parts of some towns, it’s [nothing but] vans, RVs, and trailers. They are parked along the roads almost permanently. I understand why people live in their vans, but when small cities of mobile residents spring up, bringing the problems that come along with them, what should homeowners do? IAN CLEMENTS, VIA FACEBOOK SPONSOR THIS! Re. Grasping at Draws: The Top 5 (Worst) Ways to Get Sponsored ( If you can manage to pull it off, be in that one video with that famous climber that one time. You’ll be surprised at how long the hangover of free shoes will last. MAURY BIRDWELL, VIA FACEBOOK B-POSITIVE Reading Unsent: Point–Counterpoint: The Grade Debate ( got me to thinking about bouldering grades. Recently, I’ve…

ways to overcome your fear of falling

1 Take the whip you’re afraid of on purpose, so you can see that it’s not so bad after all. 2 Increase your overall strength and endurance. As Vince Lombardi famously said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” 3 Hire a seventh-grader to call you a “baby” and a “wimp” while you climb. Prove him wrong. 4 Listen to Devo on repeat while you sleep to create a subliminal desire to “Whip it—whip it good.” 5 Get into deep-water soloing. The ocean is the world’s largest crashpad—well, unless you hit it from too high up. 6 Spend a half-hour every morning desensitizing yourself to gravity by bungee jumping or BASE jumping off the nearest suspension bridge. Or just jump off the top of your bunkbed the moment your eyes flutter open. 7 Realize when your fear…

winter goals and projects

Sometimes the best winter projects are in Spain. Here, Frederica Balzer works Moon Safari (5.13a) in Chulilla. SAM CODY Violet Navarette pushing through the Sour Pain (5.11b) in Red Rock Canyon. VIOLET NAVARETTE COLLECTION My project is The Antidote (5.13a), a vicious, vert tech route on the Earwax Wall at Index, Washington. MATT CARROLL COLLECTION Alix Morris will be spending her winter climbing in the Owens River Gorge in preparation for another attempt at the Freerider (VI 5.13a) in a day. JACOB COOK Little Buckaroo (5.11b) is a short route at Wild Iris that’s perfect for someone who boulders, but was trying to sport climb. MORGAN SCHNEIDER Jesse Sklut eyes up the long V5 sequence and final deadpoint capping the crux of Whipped Cream at the Slab in Colorado’s Flatirons. JESSE SKLUT COLLECTION All this year, METOLIUS is giving away a sweet…

minding the gap

I could see the breakdown coming. Emma* was following me up the 5.9+ first pitch of the Eldorado Canyon classic Rincon in starts and spurts, a vertical stagger. From my belay ledge, I could see her shoulders locking up and her eyes pinching shut against the burn of tears. And though we’d only recently been introduced by a mutual friend, had never climbed together before today, and had scarcely had more than one conversation, I could tell exactly what she was about to say: “I’m sorry. I’m so weak. I’m a coward. I can’t do this.” It was, almost verbatim, what my partner Katie* had told me a week prior at the gym. And it was, almost verbatim, what I was used to hearing in my own head—and sometimes out of…


Livin’ Astro (5.14c), freed by Dave Graham in 1999, climbs an aesthetic overhanging arête at Rumney, New Hampshire’s showcase Waimea Wall. “It was the prominent unbolted line after we finished China Beach [5.14b] and Jaws [then 5.14b; now 5.15a and renamed Jaws II after key holds broke],” says Graham, who was in high school at the time of Livin’ Astro’s FA. “I mentioned it would be awesome to try and bolt it, although the locals elected to bolt it for us in fear of us botching it. So I paid for the gear and Mark Sprague drilled it.” In late September during the American Alpine Club Craggin’ Classic, Jon Cardwell (pictured) started up, climbing Livin’ Astro’s first section to a jug at the fifth bolt. After a short rest on…