Conny, José, and I are huddled up on our tiny ledge next to the raging waterfall that had beat us to submission the day before. We spend the next few hours watching as help assembles itself. A police car arrives at the valley bottom; the first sign that help is on its way. Shortly after that, another police car. Then a fire truck. Then an ambulance. By noon there is probably a dozen vehicles and a large crowd of people staged below.
The Waterfall Experience: Part 2 – Escape
My mind is reeling as I envision the alternate reality where the tail end of the wet rope slips through my frigid right hand. I look down again at the rock slabs through the spray and picture myself tumbling to the valley bottom where it’s warm and dry. A shield of goosebumps attempts to protect me from the frightening thought; or perhaps it’s the intensifying wind. My consciousness returns to the present moment and I tense with anticipation. I hear José bellow out a low guttural scream. Round 2 with the waterfall begins.
The Waterfall Experience: Part 1 – Escalation
Let me tell you about the time I got stuck in a waterfall. I tend to tell this story around campfires and usually preface it with: “It was the worst experience of my life.” It begins with a trip to Peru in 2004. My adventure buddy, Conny Amelunxen, was guiding a 12-day trek through the mountains surrounding the infamous Machu Picchu. I was invited to tag along and help setup and take down the expedition. Afterward we had 7 days to kill in the tourist city of Cuzco before flying home. Three or four of those days were spent partying at Mama Africa with some Australian girls we had met earlier in the trip. Conny and I needed to break the habit of sleeping all day and being reckless all night so we devised an adventurous plan to rappel down a waterfall in one of the nearby valleys. The plan was simple: taxi to the farming town closest to the waterfall, porter some horses to ride to the top of the cliff, drop a couple ropes down, do 3 or at most 4 rappels, then taxi back in time for drinks. We eventually got those hard earned drinks – 2 days later…
Sean McColl on Climbing at the 2020 Olympics
Just last week climbers celebrated the announcement that sport climbing was added to the programme of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Social media feeds were filled with prominent climbers sharing their excitement about the news. Magazines published quotes from the IOC and IFSC press releases. Generally, people were happy to see climbing recognized as an Olympic sport, but discussion and criticism about the proposed format quickly took over the comment sections.
We reached out to Sean McColl, a professional climber who will almost certainly be competing in the Games, to get his perspective.
In 1982, Greg Foweraker, Hamish Fraser and Peter Croft freed the University Wall, which is a towering dihedral line to the left of the Grand Wall on the Squamish Chief. They deeked out left in two places, most importantly down low, to avoid a gigantic, blank-looking corner: an open book of grey granite. In 1988, 6 years after their initial free ascent, Croft aimed to straighten out the University Wall and free the obvious plum line. In one of the most impressive leads I can think of, Croft did it first try, calling it, “The Shadow”.
11 Gift Ideas for Climbers
You probably know a climber, but you may not know what they want this holiday season. Here are some gift ideas that most climbers will appreciate.
Climbing Indoors For The First Time
There is likely a climbing gym in every major city in North America. Gyms have made the introduction to rock climbing much more accessible and the controlled environment helps beginners learn to be safe before climbing outdoors where things can be much more unpredictable. Your first experience climbing should be fun, social and great exercise. Here are a few things you should know to prepare yourself for your first time climbing.