Climbing Winter 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

THE FIRST CLIMBING TRIP I TOOK WAS TO HUECO TANKS, TEXAS, as a sophomore in high school in spring 1988. It was through the New Mexico Mountain Club, and one of the climbers on the trip had a fifth-wheel camper. We drove it down from Albuquerque and stayed in the park, sleeping on beds, cooking in the camper’s tiny kitchen, and taking showers at the campground’s bathroom: proper deluxe! Hueco was deserted, and we spent our time climbing moderate cracks and slabs on the Front Side. At 16, I was the youngest by far, but the trad-dads were patient with me and even offered to spot me on the boulders below the cliffs. Back then, bouldering in Hueco wasn’t much of a thing—even the legendary Mushroom Boulder was barely chalked. That…

basecamp opener

On September 26, 2021, Kate Kelleghan and Becca Droz pioneered the women’s speed record on the Naked Edge (5.11b; 460 feet) in Eldorado Canyon, Colorado. Simul-climbing, with Kelleghan—here on the fourth pitch—leading, the pair ticked the climb in 37:40. They had practiced, honing their rack down and using an 80-foot rope. (See The key, says Kelleghan, was to always do a warm-up lap first. Other small tweaks helped, too: “We used speed laces on our approach shoes, started from the bridge running in our climbing shoes, and worked out the beta,” she says. Says Droz, “I hope people see this and recognize the power in partnerships… and explore what their specific partnership can accomplish.” Adds Kelleghan, “We hope we can inspire other ladies to try things that might have…

loose bolts

PHOTO CONTEST Gone fishin’. Collin Lucas was lowering off a route in the Ouray Ice Park, Colorado, when one of his tools dropped into the Uncompahgre River. With John Wolford (not pictured) still on belay and Doug Argyle on “foot duty,” Lucas tried mightily to rescue the tool, but came up empty-handed. Photo: Christian Elsner For his shot, Christian Elsner wins a rope bag from Metolius Climbing. NEWS Stellar Films The Alpinist contains the wildest of soloing scenes. In this new documentary from Sender Films, Alex Honnold puts the climbing of the Canadian climber Marc-André Leclerc into perspective, calling his own rock solos “safe in a lot of ways. Like, the medium is super solid. And then I see Marc-André free-soloing on ice and snow. It just shows so much experience on such different kinds…


STONE MOUNTAIN, iconic cliff and namesake for Stone Mountain State Park in North Carolina, is a broad granite monolith nestled in the Blue Ridge Escarpment, an abrupt elevation transition between the state’s flat Piedmont region and the lush Blue Ridge Mountains extending west. As a single 600-foot-tall “boulder,” the igneous dome has very few protectable features and even fewer holds. It is the realm of the friction climber, a purist’s dream of uncompromising ethics and singular style. Route development, starting in the early 1960s, was mostly ground-up, which on a nose-over-toes friction dome forced climbers to be bold. In 1971, Bob Mitchell and Will Fulton, early pioneers of the area, developed Grand Funk Railroad (5.9-), a five-pitch classic smearfest that set the tone. While the crag has approximately 50 quality multi-pitch…

what i’ve learned

Growing up in Maine, I learned to take advantage of good weather, but also to enjoy bad weather and take adventure in subprime conditions. It’s taught me how to suffer. Maybe having subpar fun taught me to deal with other things, whether jobs or injuries—you know something better is coming up. It was a shock to my parents that I was born with a disability. They didn’t know, weren’t prepared. They just decided to treat me normally: She’s otherwise healthy, so let’s roll with it. There were tough times, with four kids. I think my family motto is “Suck it up and deal with it.” We also had a ton of fun. No matter what, we could laugh. That’s a skill that helps with climbing. You can be having a terrible time and terrible…

my epic

WE WERE HIGH ON THE MOUNTAIN, it was well past midnight, and falling snow whipped past at ludicrous speed. Traversing a perilously steep, icy slope in the Andes, I realized, We’re screwed. No ice axes. No crampons. Our rope team was a trio of imbeciles on a string. In the darkness and heavy fog, the slope below us fired down into oblivion. Raised in Alabama, I had cut my teeth on the sport walls of Little River Canyon and Sand Rock, and the slopey boulders of Horse Pens 40. I was a rock climber from the age of 11, but no mountaineer. During an internship in Colorado in 2018, however, I grew enamored with the high places of the Rockies. I spent much of the summer scrambling in the Elk Range, keen…