Climbing Spring 2021

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


collective knowledge

I’VE BURNED THROUGH THREE DRILLS since I started bolting in the 1980s. The latest fatality was a Bosch that survived a 100-foot plummet in Boulder Canyon in 2017 only to die last summer, a few hundred holes later. I love putting up routes—the thrill of finding a striking line, the perverse “pleasure” of bolting and cleaning, figuring out how to use holds no one’s grabbed before. When you establish a climb, it’s rare to find the easiest beta. It might only be you or a couple friends trying the climb, and it’s easy to lock into an “Oh, well, it goes this way” mentality. Over time, as routes get repeated, they often get easier: The holds are chalked, making sequences more readable; repeat ascentionists find nuances like drop-knees and kneebars; and…

loose bolts

NEWS Jonathan Siegrist: One year, three 5.15s With international travel out in 2020, Jonathan Siegrist of Las Vegas looked to the bounty of rock in America, establishing three 5.15s in one year. First was the upside-down enduro One Hundred Proof (5.15a) in the Clear Light Cave at Mount Potosi, Nevada, in February. Then, in October, came the fingery 16-bolt Nu World (5.15a/b) at a new cliff near Las Vegas. In November, it was Full Metal Brisket (5.15a), a heinous, bouldery extension to the classic 5.13b Pod at the Coliseum, Summersville Lake, West Virginia. The most difficult, Nu World, is a mere appetizer for harder projects at the limestone cliff, location under wraps while Siegrist and Alex Honnold are developing it. Since Nu World was one of the “easier-looking” lines, that won’t be a…

pilgrimage to mecca

TUCKED AWAY in the Pasayten Wilderness, in the far northeast corner of the Okanagan National Forest, Amphitheater Mountain has stayed under the radar despite the area’s epic potential. Perhaps it’s the 20-mile approach (yes, you read that correctly), which includes roughly 4,000 feet of elevation gain—a true pilgrimage that requires backpacking in. In any case, over 100 years ago, George Otis Smith nabbed many of the region’s first documented climbs, including his 1901 ascents of Amphitheater and the neighboring Cathedral Peak. However, it wasn’t until the late 1960s and early ’70s that technical rock climbs were documented here, including Middle Finger Buttress on Amphitheater (5.10b; 4 pitches) and the South Face of Cathedral (5.8 A1; 7 pitches). Pilgrimage to Mecca was first climbed in July 2004 by Washington local Darin Berdinka…

dave graham

WE WERE LUCKY ENOUGH to be in the right place at the right time at Rumney [New Hampshire, in the late 1990s when a young Graham, Joe Kinder, and Luke Parady freed many of the area’s 5.14s]. The old guard had just bolted a ton of really nice routes. As we climbed the existing routes, they told us to try the open projects. Rumney has a powerful, modern style; it gave me my rock-climbing base for life. WHAT I’VE LEARNED FROM DEVELOPING BOULDERS is the timeless nature of climbing. It feels like a long time ago that I put up The Story of Two Worlds and From Dirt Grows the Flowers [both V15s in Switzerland], in 2004 and 2005, and that a lot should have changed in 15 years. Off the…

make climbing great again

AS ALWAYS, word had spread of a new boulder in Clear Creek Canyon, just outside Golden, Colorado. First it was pics on the pros’ IG feeds, all raving and vague and very sick, bro. You could almost feel the salivating mouth-breathing of thousands of Front Range boulderers, furiously attempting to triangulate the location. Slowly, location and names and grades began leaking out through pro-adjacent climbers, and finally the beta scraps fell to us knuckledragging normies who can’t do 1-5-9 on the campus board. Brace yourself for the most Colorado introduction to a new boulder ever. As we crested the hill, there was Paul Dusatko, filmmaker of many a VHS classic from Inertia to Soul Cal, cruising through the crux, spotted by fellow mutants of varying abilities and local fame. Jamie Emerson,…


FOR SIXTEEN YEARS, I’ve guided Dr. Takeneo “Také” Mihara up mountains, rock routes, and ice climbs. As a senior Japanese ENT surgeon, he only gets two weeks of vacation a year; as a mountain guide and friend, I always want his one climbing week to be a success. Také’s English is stilted and slow, my Japanese nonexistent. Still, we’ve been able to communicate, often shouting from either end of 200 feet of rope through a call-and-reply system of “OK!” “OK!” and “OK!” In September 2011, we set out to climb Mount Aberdeen (10,358 feet) via the Aberdeen Glacier. Our approach—gaining about 1,800 feet via the switchbacks leading to Saddle Pass, and then contouring on a primitive trail into Surprise Valley and, a little over a mile and 700 feet higher, reaching…