Climbing nutcraft evolved in Great Britain about a half century ago, but its roots go back even further. As early as the 1920s, British climbers had carried pebbles in the pockets of their knickers, slotting these stones into wide spots in cracks and tying them off—with scary-looking hemp cord—for pro. True artificial chockstones were just a small conceptual step away, but it took a few decades. During the 1930s, rock climbing—then much more closely allied with alpinism than it is now—was at an ethical crossroads.
Flashback: It’s the summer of 1998, and you’re 500 feet up the Sun Ribbon Arête on Temple Crag, one of the High Sierra’s finest alpine rock peaks. The scattered morning clouds have quickly turned into ominous thunderheads, coming your way. With nothing ahead but even more exposed climbing for 1,500 feet to the summit, you belay up your partner, have a short discussion, equalize a nut and a sling around a horn, and begin to rap. Two hundred feet lower you pull your rope, leaving the anchor in place—thus committing a federal crime.
With Climbing magazine's 11th annual Golden Piton Awards, we celebrate the biggest, hardest, fastest, and scariest ascents of 2012. Prepare to be inspired. Winners include The American Alpine Club, Cameron Hörst, Brooke Raboutou, Ashima Shiraishi, Alex Honnold, Kyle Dempster, Hayden Kennedy, Sean McColl, Adam Ondra, Tomoko Ogawa, and the Red River Gorge, Kentucky.
Hours before sunup, we click on our headlamps and follow the blue-hued cones of light on the first steps of what will surely be a very long day. We’re embarking on a 20-mile traverse of the Mummy Range in Rocky Mountain National Park, over the course of which we’ll summit seven peaks over 13,000 feet. For the first half hour or so, our crew of eight military veterans doesn’t say a word—the only sounds are gravelly footfalls and varied degrees of labored breathing in the thin alpine air.
The rope arches in an unbroken loop from me to Lucho, 30 feet above. “At least there’s no rope drag,” I quip, trying to make light of his predicament. We are six pitches up the South Dragon’s Horn on Tioman Island, off the coast of Malaysia, living proof that climbing can go from fun to fubar in a microsecond.
When the Red River Gorge and New River Gorge rivalry threatened to boil over, there was only one place to settle it: on the basketball court. - Huge spotlights suddenly lit up the small community basketball court in Lansing, West Virginia, near the rim of the New River Gorge. Lights, really? Who rigged those?
Climbing pioneer Herb Conn passed away in his home near Custer, South Dakota, on February 1, at the age of 91.
Harvey Carter--climbing icon and legend--passed away Tuesday, March 13, at the age of 83. With a climbing career lasting more than 60 years, Carter pioneered and discovered many of the well-known climbing areas in the four-corners area, including the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, and is rumored to have made over 5,000 first ascents.
Doug Buchanan was filled with hospitality, humor, wit, intelligence, incredible drive, insight, and honor. His last adventure was a fight with cancer.
Every few years, Stephanie Forte, 44, whips herself into top shape and climbs a flurry of hard 5.13s. A New Jersey girl with a sharp wit, a publicist's poise, and fierce athleticism on the rock, Forte has written for Climbing many times and has had her hands on all kinds of climbing-related events and causes.
On frozen Karakoram peaks, fierce alpine faces, and crags around the world, climbers killed it last year. Here, Climbing presents the 10th annual Golden Piton Awards for top performances in six disciplines: mountaineering, big wall, traditional climbing, crack climbing, sport climbing, and breakaway success.