2:00 p.m. EDT | New Paltz, NY — I’ve never met a more playful group of people than rock climbers. The experienced ones seem to have the best sense of humor when they’re standing on the edge of a cliff.
Gear for the Top of World
Sometimes the mountains just call your name. Whether you’ve got a season to train for a summit bit up Mt. Rainier or just a Saturday afternoon to log some miles hiking up the local ski hill, the right gear can mean the difference between enjoying the majesty and struggling through misery (or worse). Here’s the gear we used for our recent solo free climb of Mount Olympus in Utah — but it’s perfect for any ultralight mountain mission.
No Ropes, No Worries
Some of my friends and family actually do think I’m a little crazy. This summer I decided to really find out what drives me to climb, what pushes me to expand my own vertical limits. What better way to really connect with myself and with the wall than to do it like the early purists and those on the leading edge of the sport today — with no ropes and no worries?
Climb, Splash, Repeat
Imagine cranking your way up an unforgiving rock face, no ropes or safety protection, just your fingers and wits pitted against every crimpy, stretched out, exposed move. At the hardest moment your grip finally gives out and you plunge more than thirty feet — to a splash landing in the Olympic Training Pool in Park City, Utah. For some, this kind of climbing, called deep water soloing, is the stuff of nightmares. For the few dozen professional climbers and thousands of spectators at the recent Psicobloc Masters Series, it’s a progression of the sport unparalleled in its difficulty and exhilaration. We captured the action from the pool deck.
A Rocky Romance
We wish Alizée Dufraisse would talk about us the way she talks about a rock face. The French professional climber acknowledges the focus and discipline required on a difficult ascent, but she finds romance where her peers find only challenge and exhilaration. This perspective gives her climbing a fluidity that, even to a layman’s eye, appears uniquely effortless. Someone who knows what they’re seeing could call it poetic.
Hauling Gear Like A Mountain Goat
Finding that elusive do-it-all pack is a grail search. Is there a pack out there that is equally at home in summer or winter, hauling big loads and small, and most importantly, one enjoyable to carry even loaded to the brim? In his never-ending quest to find that truly comfortable multipurpose pack, Limits contributor Austin Parker turned to the Eddie Bauer Arclite ($169), testing it on his recent expedition to Moab, UT.
Come for the Uranium, Stay for the Adventure
Forty miles south of an absolutely barren stretch of I-70 on the Colorado-Utah border sits the unlikely adventure travel capital of the Southwest desert. What Moab, Utah lacks in vegetation it makes up for in the sheer volume of red-rock activities local adrenaline junkies have dreamed up. We came to Moab with one thing in mind: to summit Ancient Art Tower — but our free days were easily filled with stunning hikes in Arches National Park, exceptional sport climbing and bouldering along the Colorado river, and more than few local craft beers and wines.
A pre-dawn mission up stolen chimney
The sun still hadn’t crested the Colorado River when our dust-covered van pulled into the Fisher Towers trailhead parking lot. Many of the desert climbs that Moab, Utah is famous for are packed from the early season until the first snow begins falling in November, but our pre-dawn mission to climb the Stolen Chimney route up Ancient Art Tower had been precisely timed to avoid spring crowds on the rock; after a few light storms the previous days and an ungodly wake-up call, we had the crag to ourselves. Read on to see the full photo essay.
Reach your full potential
We know you’re busy, hey we are too. Making it to the gym isn’t always an option, and unless you’ve got a couple hundred square feet to spare, home workouts can get tired fast. Take boredom out of the equation and keep your muscles guessing with the Blank Slate Training Board ($129). Just like that…