Climbing Spring 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


50 years and counting…

Issue No. 1 of Climbing (May 1970) was an unassuming, black-and-white, staple-bound 25 pages directed “to the interests of rockclimbers and mountaineers.” Climbing has since become one of the biggest, most-recognized brands in the vertical world, with an enduring print title, a juggernaut of a website and social media presence, and even an online-education division. And, as of this year, we’re 50 years old—and 372 issues in! I’ve been reading the title ever since I first touched rock. In 1988, on my walk home from Highland High, I detoured to the Wilderness Center outdoor shop in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I spent my lunch money on my very first copy of Climbing, No. 106. I devoured it in one evening, from the new-route lists in Basecamp, to the features on far-flung…


Caption Contest PAUL SAGAR is the winner of our inaugural Caption Contest, which we’ll be rolling out all of 2020 with cartoons from Jordan Peterson (@jordankpeterson_)—stay tuned to Climbing’s social channels for more. For his caption, Paul wins a 70m 9.6mm Siurana plus a rope bag from Fixe Hardware. See for more. FIXEhardware QUICK CLIPS We’ve retooled Quick Clips starting with this issue, picking the best tip to run in print and then posting it and all other submissions online ( “I use old firehose from the local fire department for rope protectors. The department just gets rid of it once its serviceable life is up. Use it over edges or around trees to prevent damage to rope and nature. It’s tough and holds up for years.”–SAM THEMAN Got an amazing Quick Clip? Send it to…

kolin powick

Kolin Powick (aka “KP”) played a power chord on his Paul Reed Smith guitar, his fingers moving expertly across the frets, launching into Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” at Your Mom’s House, a dive bar near the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. It was the summer 2019 Outdoor Retailer Show, and this performance marked the 10-year-anniversary gig for the BD (Black Diamond) Band, a five-member rock band that Powick has played with since their inception at the Black Diamond offices in Salt Lake City. Even if you haven’t heard Powick, the climbing category director at BD, jam on one of his 22 (yes, 22) guitars, you likely know him through his gear videos and articles. Or maybe you’ve seen the infamous April Fool’s videos—think of the nonexistent HonnSolo 11 inflatable free-soloing backpack or…

50 years in gear

Fifty years ago, a traditional climber attempting a free ascent of the Naked Edge in Eldorado Springs Canyon, Colorado, would get out of his car wearing Kletterschuhe, corduroy knickers, and a T-shirt. He’d tie a swami belt around his waist, put a gear sling over his shoulder, rack up 15 pitons and 15 to 20 aluminum carabiners, and grab his piton hammer, four-foot-long, flat nylon runners, and short loops of flat 5/8-inch webbing. A coiled 40m 11mm twisted nylon lead rope was then thrown over the shoulder, and his partner had a duplicate haul and/or rap line. The climbers might bring just a Snickers bar and a pint of water. Off to the climb! Today, your Naked Edge kit would be safer, lighter, and more specialized. Here are the big evolutions…

from fringe activity to sport

In the mid-1970s, Earl Wiggins dropped out of high school to pursue climbing full-time. There were no gyms, and the only way you got good was by climbing every day, outside, a basic rack of aluminum shapes slung over your shoulder. Take Wiggins’s bold FA of Supercrack (5.10) in Indian Creek in 1976 with Ed Webster and Bryan Becker, on which Wiggins optimistically slotted Hexes into the parallel crack. A photo shows Wiggins’s wild hair sticking out, baggy polyester pants covering his thin frame. He’s the definition of the societal-dropout climber (aka “dirtbag”) from that period. A half-century ago, climbing was a countercultural activity, an “Eff you” to the mainstream that had begun with the climbers who gathered in Camp 4 and at the Gunks in the 1950s and ‘60s. Perhaps…

are we climbing harder?

Margo Hayes’s 5.15a. Ashima Shiraishi’s V15. Dawn Wall. The first El Cap free solo. Adam Ondra breaking open 5.15c, then 5.15d. Nalle Hukkataival and the world’s first V17. If you follow climbing media, it’s easy to believe the sport’s upper limits are growing at an exponential rate. Maybe this inspires you, or maybe you grumble that Instagram is conspiring to make you feel bad. Maybe you respond by hitting the hangboard, or by eating cake. Or, if you’re like me, you self-soothe by making spreadsheets to see what the numbers are really telling us. Aggregate all the hardest known climbs by year since 1940, and the data reveal what, deep down, I secretly hoped: For the past 70 years, climbing progress has hummed along at a fairly steady rate. “I don’t think…