Years Of Climbing Magazine

A personal history...

Welcome to the 40th Anniversary issue of Climbing-woo hoo! In a nostalgic mood, I rifled through some of my oldest files, until behind some battered wall topos and faded photographs, I unearthed my first magazine correspondence, circa 1980. No email here; these letters were hand-typed-as in, on a typewriter- with xxx-ed typos, and Inked-in spelling corrections, and signed in pen.

One was from Mountain magazine, out of the U.K., which was considered the most serious climbing-news source of the day. Mountain's letter was on simple white paper with a reflected mountain logo in the upper right. The note, from TI.M. Lewis, stated that a E20 payment was enclosed for the feature they had published. A hand-written RS. said, "Lots of good comment on the cover and story: Colorado's reputation Is really going up over here." A sophomore at CU-Boulder at that time, I was proud.

Another letter was from Summit a softer publication out of California that featured shots of pretty mountains and wildflowers and such, with the occasional hard-core piece thrown in. Unlike the other climbing mags, Summit was full color. Their letter was on blue paper, topped by a peak/cloud/sunburst thing. "We are returning herewith your 20 transparencies which we received with your article on bouldering used in the Feb./March SUMMIT," wrote Helen Kilness, Her letter had no typos, and her signature was in a beautiful script of loops and curves.

Climbing's letterhead was brown paper with the mag title in outlined caps up top and a ghosted image of an ice climber (holding a short Chouinard piolet, it looks like) traversing the center of the page, his rope running through a couple of oval biners. That letter, from Michael Kennedy, had a few typos, but it was also the most personal. Little did I know what a long love affair I would have with his magazine.

it's a magazine with quite a colorful history. Someone really should write a book someday, but here are a few tidbits. Kennedy was Climbing's best-known editor, but not the first. That was Harvey T. Carter: mountaineer, skier, and old-school rock-climber extraordi naire. He's the "Carter" of the historic 1956 Northcutt-Carter route on Hallet Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park, and was at various times involved with the 10th Mountain Division, the Aspen ski patrol, and the Colorado Mountain Ciub. He staged one of the country's first climbing competitions, on the boulders and spires of the Garden of the Gods, which he had ruthlessly wired. For a sampling of his gnarly desert FAs, try West Side Story or Sun Devil Chimney In the Fisher Towers.

Another notable 1970s Climbing editor was Fritz Stammberger, a suave and handsome Austrian who, while in Aspen, among other feats of alpine mastery, made the first ski descent of the North Face of North Maroon Bell-that's the face you see In the postcards. Stammberger-married to Janice Pennington, May 1971 Play boy Playmate of the Month and hostess of the TV game show The Price Is Right-disappeared mysteriously In the Hindu Kush in 1975. The circumstances and location-the border region between Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Soviet Union-raised speculations of Intrigue. Only a knapsack was ever recovered.

After Stammberger's disappearance, with Climbing magazine still a black-and-white, 30-page baby, Michael Kennedy took it over. With time out now and then for some minor FAs like the Infinite Spur on Mount Foraker and Wall of Shadows on Mount Hunter, Alaska, Kennedy nurtured Climbing for over 20 years, into the full blown, full-color, smack-talking, award-winning, ass-kicking mag that climbers the world over still love or hate or love to hate, or all of the above. Near the end of his wits in 1992, Michael hired me as Photo and Copy editor, my first editing job. Most of what I know about editing I learned from his team.

So it's nice to be back. Happy anniversary, Climbing, and thanks for letting me be the guest editor. The editorial team rocked, despite the monkey wrenches I threw Into the works on a daily basis. Thanks to Justin, Randy, Julie, Amanda, and the others for a great effort. Any editorial failings you find within, including errors of fact, omissions, obfuscations, sandbagging, and slander, you can blame...on them!

12 ■ May 2010

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Send letters to letters ©climbing, com


Letter oi the Month

Father Figure

Thanks for the article on The Daddy [Classic Climbs, No. 282], My "Daddy" story jettisoned me into a fuii-on passion for climbing.

In September 2007, my climbing experience consisted of two days of instruction and foproping short cliffs maybe four times. I showed up at an American Alpine Club board meeting/climbfest and met Pat Goodman, who was giving a slideshow with Freddie Wilkinson. Next thing I know, Goodman is inviting me to join him on a route called The Daddy. \ told him I had never done a multi-pitch climb and had not been climbing for long. Everyone said now was the time to start.

We started the route with Pat climbing flawlessly, and I on the belay, thinking, "How in hell did I get myself into this and what kind of major illness can 1 fake to get out of It?" At the same time, something inside me said, "Hey, this is what you've read and dreamt about, take a deep breath, suck it up, and go for it." Five hours later (one hour of leading for Pat and four hours of following for me!), I pulled over the top, completely exhausted and amazed.

Pat was incredibly patient and encouraging. Brittany (Griffith] and Pat told a bunch of people about my first multi-pitch experience (a boring day at the office for Pat, an epic for me), and world-class climbers personally congratulated and encouraged me. I was really moved by these people who were genuinely stoked for me, and by the closeness and friendliness of the climbing community, David Etheridge; via e-mail

Blue Hippo Media

For his paternally grateful Letter of the Month about how The Daddy made him a committed climber, David Etheridge scores a piece of original artwork made by none other than Andy Parkin. Parkin is the subject of the new Blue Hippo Media { film, ANDY PARKIN: A LIFE IN ADAPTATION, which follows the story of the bold, inspired climber whose eye for the mountain landscape continues through his powerful and sought-after artwork.


For the Love of Gem I just read Justin Roth's Editorial in the 2010 Gear Guide over breakfast. I would just like to say thank you to him. As a long-time employee of the outdoor miniverse (great term from the article) —as a sales associate, shop manager, buyer, guide, and now sales and technical representative-this article truly struck a chord with me.

Justin's poignant comments made me realize that I do develop a bond with my gear in the mountains, as sick as that may seem. I trust my gear. I rely on it. When I have chosen the correct gear, it works in symbiosis with my fitness and strength training to carry me safely to and from my objectives, and back to my family at the end of the day. c

Many of the gear choices I have made jg have been my decisions, based on my re- § search and, in some cases, my own product g testing. However, in many more cases, they < have come through discussions with shop professionals. You just can't beat the earthiness of waltzing into a specialty outdoor/climbing/ ski/bike shop and perusing the wall of cams, nuts, slings, and biners.,.And then having someone walk over and ask, "Can I give you a hand?"...and mean it. (Unlike a hollow offer from one of the many warehouse-style sporting goods-come-outdoor-shop associates.)

Support your local specialty retailer-they are the people and businesses that laid the foundation for all of the big-box stores and Internet giants to stand on. Without them, [he core and soul of this miniverse will be lost Mike "Kaz" KazmierC2ak; via email

Goie for Piton

While I enjoyed Climbing's special Green Issue [No. 283], I knew the obligatory global warming (oops, "climate change") article would obviously be included. However, I was greatly saddened to learn that A! Gore wasn't honored with Climbing's coveted Golden Piton Award...(sigh).

Larry Knicetey; Mullica Hill, New Jersey

Photo of the Month

For this shot of Boh Andreychuk getting Beta from a hilly goat iti British Columbia, the photographer, Lyle Knight, wins ¿1 pair of SCARPA INSINCTS { These down-turned, edge-nabbing, pocket-stabbing bad boys earned our New & Notable award in the 2010 Gear Guide. Stirf over to the Photo Post to enter your photos into the running.

For this shot of Boh Andreychuk getting Beta from a hilly goat iti British Columbia, the photographer, Lyle Knight, wins ¿1 pair of SCARPA INSINCTS { These down-turned, edge-nabbing, pocket-stabbing bad boys earned our New & Notable award in the 2010 Gear Guide. Stirf over to the Photo Post to enter your photos into the running.


Send letters to [email protected]


Gieen Oui Routine I don't want to come off like some angry hermit, but did you miss the sad irony in your piece on the Mossman [The Haulbag, No. 283]? In an Issue where you tell me to stop clipping bolts in order to save the environment (any thought to how much bio waste will be generated by my subsequent ER visits?), you print an article about a guy who uses "span-dex, latex, adhesive, cohesive, solvent, and utensils" to make a moss climbing suit. Let's all try to get our feet back on Mother Earth.

Our cams, our multiple pairs of rock shoes, our chalk... none of this stuff is too groovy for the environment. Not to mention our driving to crags. My frustration is that there is not a single mention of the core of the problem: Us!

Climbers, along with everyone else, propagate relentlessly and then wonder why people are placing such a strain on the environment. None of the green stuff we use just pops up out of the soil So let's point the finger at the real problem once In a while, whether we climb 5.15 on bolts or lead 5.7 trad. Jonathan Mosher; via e-mail

Scientific Studies

I am writing in response to John Sherman's article: "Bouldering Green in 21st-century America" [Gravity Lessons, No, 283]. Sherman does a good job pointing out some of the social and environmental issues associated with bouldering. However, he makes an erroneous comment: "Land managers...have a distorted view of climbing impacts. That's because climbers have never compiled scientific data on our sport's actual impacts." In fact, a number of scientific studies have been undertaken.

Most of these studies have been documented in Climbing and Natura! Resources Management-An Annotated Bibliography (2000), which i compiled with assistance from the Access Fund. Green climbers can also get a copy of Climbing Management-A Guide to Climbing Issues and the Development of a Climbing Management Plan through the Access Fund website ( Aram Attarian; Rafelgh, North Carolina

Keep Out

I just got the latest magazine and finished reading "Sandstone Sirens" [Off the Wall, No. 283]. I think it's shameful that certain climbers are so focused on first ascents and accessing the inaccessible that they completely disre gard the belief system of a people. There are innumerable places to climb in this world. Let some of them be. The Dine's purpose is not to keep climbers out; it is to keep their sacred places sacred. Why can't some climbers accept that?

Anonymous; via e-mail


In regards to "Bold, Brilliant Belayers" [Ten Things, No. 282], the author missed the mark when describing my first wall-peeing experience. I, however, did not. I hit Tim dead on with the full golden shower because I actually got my pants down in time. Lizzy Scully; via e-mail

Happy Ending?

A nice article on climbing in England's Peak District ["Team America: Grit Police," No. 282]. It was unclear, however, whether the climbers actually had been there. One of the subtitles was "The Epic Highs and Fearful Lows of a Day on the Grit." Despite this, there was not one single mention of a pub, let alone beer. It Is impossible to believe that a day on the grit would not end in the pub. Anders Ourom; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada


In the Matt Wilder profile in the Gear Guide [No. 284], we incorrectly listed The North Face as Wilder's apparel sponsor. His sponsor for soft goods, etc., is Mountain Hardwear.

Reader Tip of the Month instead of buying a chalk ball, cut an abandoned athletic sock into the desired size, turn It Inside out, fill it with chalk, and sea! with a beefy rubber band. Easy, cheap, and ecologically sane, it'll put just the right amount of chalk on your hands. Alex Lowther; New York, New York

Thanks ro his D1Y suggestion, Alex wins a PETZL RE VERSO3 and AM'D CARABSNER (petzl. com), a multi-functional, autolock belay device and a locking ca rah ¡tier—a belay setup to make anyone happy.


Thanks ro his D1Y suggestion, Alex wins a PETZL RE VERSO3 and AM'D CARABSNER (petzl. com), a multi-functional, autolock belay device and a locking ca rah ¡tier—a belay setup to make anyone happy.

Coming June 1st Preorder on

Tommy Caldwell Climbing

Conrad Anker ijoth Rod don Sam Eiias Tommy Caldwell

Cedar Wright

Indian Creek, UT Photo: John Dickey



The only thing that stokes the fires more than spring's first warm days? New gear...

Steel Snaps

Climbing gyms are notoriously tough on gear. With hundreds of climbers leading, TR'ing, and hang-dogging 24/7, it's no wonder these physique-toning factories use steel carabiners, which, when compared to aluminum, last virtually forever and reduce wear and tear on the rope. FIXE Hardware introduced wiregate steel biners to the States in 1993, with many still safely in place at gyms today. Now there's a new keylock steel biner, the FIXE STEEL KEYLOCK GYMBINER (S9.95,, with an aluminium gate and smooth clipping action. Perfect for fixed routes or gym use. —Chris Van Leuven

Go Long or Go Home

Nothing is more unsettling than clipping some in situ, rusted, jury-rigged extendo draw; I still have nightmares about a few deathtrap relics in the Red's Madness Cave, for example. Fear no more: the niche for a solid, bomber, light, plus-length quickdraw has been filled with the new METO-LIUS CLIMBING LONG DRAWS ($18.60-21.50,, sleek clippers with abrasion-resistant 13mm Monster Slings (36 percent Dyneema, 64 percent nylon). Long draws are not only killer for sport use, but stand in for over-the-shoulder trad/alpine slings, too. The Long Draws come in 12", 16", and 20" lengths, with either Inferno or ultralight FS Mini carabiners.

Rock Right, Rock Lite

After watching old-school Eiger reenactments in the movie North Face, in which two people die from loose rock raining down on their unprotected heads, I was convinced never to go without my brain bucket. Luckily, the new WILD COUNTRY ROCK LITE ($79.95, helmets were designed for weight-conscious climbers like me in mind. Weighing in at just over nine ounces, this lightweight model features an EPS shell and soft EVA pads, a quick-release chinstrap, and reflective patches for those alpine starts. Great ventilation and the minimalist design protect your main asset without sacrificing performance. Plus, the Rock Lite accepts The Shield (S15), a polycarbonate cover that offers big-wall-grade protection.

The Mugen Legacy

One of the first shoes Mad Rock ever produced, the original Mugen was an all-around classic: sleek and white, with that scalloped heel for bomber hooking.

Now, the new MAD ROCK MUGEN TECH LACE ($89.95, continues the iegacy-tfs a deluxe, lace-up version made for techy climbs that require sensitivity and precision. To improve the odds of sendage, the Mugen Tech Lace uses Mad Rock's signature 3-D shark-tooth heel cup, plus the super rubberized Power Upper that makes toe-hooking noticeably easier. The rubber-coated toebox, hemp lining, and synthetic upper material mean that stretch is very minimal here, so size bearably from the start. The flat last and supportive mid-sole make the Mugen Tech Lace good for all-around use and excellent on techy face climbs.

—Justin Roth

Timeless Style

As the saying goes, true style never goes out of fashion. Or is it true fashion never goes out of style? Either way, Timex nails it with the TIMEX* EXPEDITION* E-AL-T1 METER watch/altimeter combo ($199.95 strap, S224.95 bracelet; This über stylish wrist watch keeps it retro with an analog design, but boasts an altimeter function that goes from 400 feet below sea level to 25,000 feet above. The recall function records your highest and lowest alti" tudes, and there's Timex's standard INDIGLO® nightlight, too. Whether your office is a cubicle or advanced base camp, this watch will get the job done, and look sharp doing it, —Julie Ellison

Approaching Perfection

Approach shoes have it tough: they have to offer enough support and comfort to be worn for long hauls, but they also have to be sensitive and sticky for technical situations. Enter the SCARPA GEKO GUIDE, ($169, a new high-end approach shoe that marries the support of hiking boots with the nimble-ness of climbing shoes, tn a mid-afternoon trip to the Flatirons, these shoes edged like champs and aced the downhill with minimal slippage. The full wrap-around rubber on the front was crucial for foot jamming, and the textured front sole was reminiscent of a trail-running shoe. A precision fit means they're sensitive like bouldering slippers, but specialty midsole inserts ensure mucho cushioning and comfort. Clip these ultra-light kicks to your pack for descents or don them for technical scrambling...and prepare to be impressed. —JE

aip on the new:

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