Climbing Fall 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


editor's note

BEFORE I WAS A CLIMBER, I was a skateboarder. I loved the freedom you got from a simple plank of wood with four urethane wheels, and I connected to that precise feeling upon finding climbing. Now, 33 years later, I continue to climb for the same reasons: exploration, possibility, the lure of some new, singular experience. Like skating, climbing has long attracted the restless souls, the roamers and vagabonds, the haters of rules. For decades, ours was a fringe sport, and you were mostly by yourself at the rocks and could do whatever you wanted. This has all changed. Sport climbing then gyms made climbing more accessible, and as our numbers swelled, land managers took more notice. Climbing continues to grow both indoors and out—the latter especially during the pandemic. My…


YOUR STARTING POINT for CLIMBING, COMMUNITY, and CULTURE Pressure Drop at Speke’s Mill Mouth in Devon, South West England, is a must-do E3 5c (5.10d/11a) if you’re in the area getting a taste of the trad rock along the Culm Coast. First climbed by Pete O’Sullivan in 1984, the route sits adjacent a scenic waterfall that, though situated at a southerly latitude, has been ice-climbed by Mick Fowler. Right of Pressure Drop, the route Down to a Sunless Sea takes a stiffer and a touch bolder line, going at E5 6a (5.11d/12a), while to the left you can scare yourself on Ed, also E5 6a. In this photo, Ollie Mills, belayed by Dom Acland—both climbers are from South Devon—heads for greener pastures. The cows you see “started to appear halfway through my…

loose bolts

PHOTO CONTEST Fall colors in the Sandia Mountains of New Mexico. Haj Khalsa sends Excalibur, a three-pitch 5.10d on the Watchtower. Photo: Fred Berman For his vibrant shot, Fred wins a rope bag from Metolius Climbing. NEWS Meagan Martin has been a lot of things: A D1 pole vaulter at Vanderbilt University. A climber and competitor who has sent V12 and 5.13c and placed up to fifth in nationals and thirteenth in a World Cup. And an American Ninja Warrior star in her eighth season—and who won its Women’s Championship, which aired in May. In a final handover-hand race across a series of suspended round shelves, about four feet apart, Martin increased her pace by forgoing wind-ups. “I don’t even remember making a decision to stop swinging,” she says. “It was risky, but I had…

loose bolts

NEWS Twenty-four years. That is how long Jim Nowak, cofounder, has helmed the dZi Foundation, which partners with remote communities in Nepal to improve health and address poverty. Yet he recently wrote in a newsletter, “I have never feared for the Nepali people and our in-country staff as I do now.” In Nepal, the COVID-19 infection and death rates are similar to those in India, according to Johns Hopkins. With deaths approaching 10,000 as of late July, the toll of COVID in Nepal has passed that from the disastrous earthquakes in 2015. Nowak tells us today: “The earthquake was there and done. This is like a slow-moving earthquake that just seems to continue.” Nepal is a country historically beloved by climbers, and the dZi Foundation ( serves the region that wraps below and to the…


WEDGED BETWEEN AN ARCHING COLUMN and a smooth wall on Colorado National Monument’s Kissing Couple Tower, I moved up through a sandstone basilica. Past the gigantic flakes and tilted walls, I sensed an emptiness: the breaches in this prehistoric cathedral and the abyss between me and the desert floor, 400 feet below. I’d been here before, back in 2003 when I first climbed the five-pitch Long Dong Wall (III 5.11). Sixteen years later, as I revisited the climb with my wife, Heather, it didn’t feel any easier. With only back-and-foot tension holding me to the rock, I felt as much alarmed as elated—a ledge beneath my last, distant piece dared me to relax the wrong muscles. In those moments, I couldn’t quite appreciate the words of the desert rat Fred Knapp,…

what i've learned

Broad Peak was the hardest thing in my life. I studied this face so much, and I finally managed to climb the overhanging last section. I reached the top almost in the night. I heard the chanting of the Balti people and the cook; I could feel their chanting in my brain. I cannot explain that because I am an engineer and I like to study hard physics. They were 3,000 meters down, chanting for my safe return. I feel that the mountains are alive. I have this respect for them. Like the trees, they are alive. The trees have wisdom. Each mountain has a different personality, a very different frequency. When I climb, I chant inside my brain and body to try to attain the same frequency. The storms of climbing are…