Sunday, July 10, 2016

Red River Gorgeous

Roxanne Chenl on Amarillo Sunset 5.11b Photo: Shaw Tron
The Red River Gorge is possibly the number one climbing destination on the entire east-coast of North-America. I had heard of how amazing the sport climbing was in the gorge. It's crazy jug-hauls and stunning scenery!  I soon realized that the thing about climbers in Kentucky, is that they've all been there before and they'll all be back again and again. I was shocked to realize that I was one of the only climbers visiting the Red for the first time. I was a rare bread . That, for me, was a clear message that the Red River Gorge has more than anyone could ever ask for. As my partner, Roxanne, and I spent our first days in the gorge we discovered something beautiful. We discovered the orange sandstone faces covered with natural Iron-oxide bands. The Iron formed the strangest mandala-type of rock art cemented deeply into the Kentucky cliffs. Our jaws dropped. It was like climbing in a dream, we pulled our bodies up into massive hueco's that where perfectly placed at mid height, between the ground and the anchors. We swung on overhanging roofs from a bucket-jug to another. 
Vincent wanting To defy laws of tradition 5.10a

Pocketed cliffs

As we arrived in the Red River Gorge, I was sure I'd be crushing all 5.11's and 5.12's in a matter of days. I was humbled to learn that my endurance level wasn't ready at all for this level f steepness. After a two month break from climbing, I got flash pumped on the easiest looking 5.10's. It took me a while to build up the energy to start climbing what I was expecting to climb! Its hard not to get frustrated at first. This is the reason guy's like Arno Ilgner teach us to climb without ego and without any expectations including grades! I guess, this is also one of the reasons why climbers keep returning.

Cyril working The Grim Reaper 5.12
Vincent's Onsight of Another Doug Reed Route 5.11b
The other reason why climbers are drawn back to the Gorge year after year, is the rapidity of the expanding crags. The route setters are unstoppable and the crag development is far from slowing down even after all these years. To this day, there are three hefty-sized guidebooks that cover climbing in the Red River Gorge. One guide is for the North, one is for for the south and another is for a brand-new sector called Millers fork. The Irony about Miller Fork, is that only 6 months after publishing the book. Most people are saying that the topos are already seriously outdated. There is just way to much climbing to be done in one trip.

Obviously, the Red is known to be a sport climbing destination above all. But that should not take anything away from some of the incredible trad routes to be found in the area. There are heaps of amazing traditional routes you can find amongst the kingdom of bolts. I recommend the northern book for all the tradies, but you will find some 5 star cracks in the southern gorge including Miller Fork.

''The Iron formed the strangest mandala-type of rock art''
Here is a Must do tick list for trad:

-  Bedtime For Bonzo 5.6 (North)
-  Roadside Attraction 5.7 (South)
-  Cheaper than a movie 5.8 (South)
-  Arachnid  5.8 (North)
-  Autumn    5.9  (North)
-  Pall Bearer 5.9 (Miller Fork)
-  Blue Runner 5.9 (North)
-  Rock Wars 5.10 (North)
-  B3     5.11 (North)
-  Rebar 5.11 (South)

Now for the sport climbing tick-list, it is a little harder to cut everything down to a handful of climbs. I remember saying ''this is the best climb we've done yet'' after almost every climb. My tip for you is to plan on spending a day per sector and bring a good car to manage the dirt roads that lead to most of the cliffs. Most sport climbers enjoy spending time in what is called the PMRP or the Motherload and Chocolate factory sector. The road is very steep to access the parking areas, so if you don't trust your car don't go down there! But don't worry there is a lifetime's worth of other climbs to try out

Here's a few sport climbs off the tip of my tongue:

Grim reaper 5.12b (Miller Fork)
Ro Shampo 5.12a (South)
Witness the citrus 5.11c (Miller Fork)
Amarillo Sunset 5.11b (South)
Fuzzy Undercling 5.11b (North)
Mona lisa overdrive 5.11b (South)
Breakfast Burrito 5.10d (South)
K.S.B. 5.10d  (South)
A brief history of climb 5.10b (South)

Roxanne on Fuzzy Undercling 5.11b

Roxanne chilling on Mona Lisa Overdrive 5.11b

Crit on Samurai 5.12b

Now for a place to stay; the cheapest, most obvious place to stay would be Miguel's Pizza/Campground.  They make delicious pizza and offer a 2$ a night stay! It's the perfect dirtbagger option. You can also stay at Lago linda's, It's a quieter more relaxed Hideaway. It's a great place for dogs to run around and great if you also want a Shower... Showers at Miguels also exist, it's just more of an adventure! Finally, there is also the Land of arches which is similar to Lago lindas. It's in a different location, depending on the areas you would want to go to!

Roxanne Flagging the shit out of Ro Shampo 5.12a

All in all, for me Kentucky was a lot of fun. The taste of the good bourbon we had down there is one of my fondest memories. The whiskey just makes it an ideal place for climbers! Again on the plus side, the good'ol Kentucky accent wont let any traveler down. It just makes me so happy when I get to chat with the locals!

Red River Gorge! I'll be back!

Vincent Kneeshaw
Rad Climbers

Monday, June 27, 2016

360° with Honnold on the Needles

This is so much fun!
Explore The Needles from your computer screen by clicking and dragging around this 360° video.
Are you ready for your first free solo?


Monday, June 6, 2016

Staying away from bunions!

I am not so much of a boulderer as I am of a route climber. I really enjoy climbing long trad  multi-pitch alpine style. I prefer the adventure over the 12 foot boulder problem. But, sometimes it helps to boulder a bit in order to get that extra power. Bouldering skills are essential to the ones who seek progression. So this is the story of how I got in to bouldering. That's also the story of how I got my bunions... Thanks a lot for the bumps on my toes you: Boulder Gym!

The story is simple. I trained in a boulder gym about 3 times a week. If you boulder indoors,you might have realized what I didn't. Most climbers you will notice just walk around the whole time in their climbing shoes. I mean most of them wont take them off period. I did the same, because I am just as lazy as every one else! I didn't have a reason to take them off. Id rather tolerate the pain. After a few weeks of consistently doing that, I started developing a tailor's bunion on my left foot. The tailors bunion is the bump that appears on your baby toe. Most people get it on their big toes. I need to mention that I was also wearing an aggressive tight pair of  shoes which is definitely not the same as your casual slipper shoes. Thus, I still think no matter which type of shoes you might be wearing, it is still really healthy to pull'em off between every problem so you let your feet breath.

Now, if you already have a bunion which was created by your own climbing snicks here are a few tips:

First, I recommend using bigger shoes or even cutting holes out of the edges of the climbing shoes. Make sure there isn't any pressure on the bump or the skin.

Second, try ordering a bunion protector gel online. You can get them for super cheap. They help mostly when your not climbing. I wouldn't wear them while climbing, but they help overall.

Third, what a great timing to start training on the campus wall while your feet heal slowly. But make sure you stretch you're arms properly to stay away from tendinitis. Nothing is worse than a chain of climbing injuries one after the other.
For better results, try stretches like pulling your toe outwards whenever you can and keeping it for 30 seconds 4-5 times a day if possible. It sure helped me get stronger toes.
I also recommend to apply an ice-pack on the bunion especially at night. It wont alleviate the pain but it will help reduce swelling.

Hopefully you will be back to crushing in no time.

Vincent Kneeshaw

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Free soloing the nose

I have never been a big Star Trek fan. But I might have become one after seeing this clip. I heard Alex Honnold talking about El cap. He mentioned that only person had the skills of free soloing El capitan and that would be Captain Kirk.
His comment made me laugh but than again, I'll lift my hat to Mr.kirk since he had the balls to actually try this risky ascent without a rope.

So there you go: Captain kirk, the only guy to ever free solo El capitan. Although he didn't make it to the top so... it's still up for grabs Mr. Honnold.

Vincent Kneeshaw

Alex Honnold Podcast

A few months ago we had a post where we shared a Paige Claasen podcast. The podcast was one of NausicaaCast's which you can listen to by clicking the link.

Here is another 50 minute podcast but this time in a completely different style. Alex Honnold meets with MtnMeister's host Ben Schenck.

Alex is the most known figure in rock-climbing today.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Ask Caldwell

Tommy challenged Mountain Project forum users to ask him "thought-provoking" questions, then he chose several to answer. His replies are pure gold.  

Here are the top 3 Posts :

 1) Matt Linesby

Your climbing accomplishments to this point are truly inspiring and have an unusually broad spectrum for any one individual: gymnastic difficulty/strength (eg Flex Luthor), Risk management/alpine suffering (eg Fitz traverse), and long term commitment/endurance (eg Dawn Wall). Do you consider yourself an outlier in terms of ability, motivation, and/or attitude? What is your greatest attribute that has allowed you to reach this level?

I like this question because it speaks to the heart of mastery, anyone looking to better themselves ponders these very questions. I believe that the successes I have had do not come primarily from natural ability. Of course I am genetically built to be a pretty good climber (scrawny). But there are thousands of climbers out there with far more natural talent than I will ever have. For me it is more motivation and attitude. I am a die-hard optimist; this means I learn to love what I know. I spend my life in the most beautiful places in the world surrounded by psyched people (my dad, Steve Hong, Chris Sharma) to name a few. That is the beauty of a life of a full time climber, a constant flow of inspiration. I have a deep curiosity to explore limits. But I think my greatest attribute comes from what my friend Jim Collins Calles the 20 mile march mentality. Every day I wake up with the same question, What can I do today to bring me a little closer to my gaol. The goal really is just a focal point and changes from time to time. I am addicted to the chase. My mental well being and general view of the world seem to be directly correspond with how vigorously I am perusing that next goal. All the climbs you mentioned were possible for me because of the cumulative time spent bettering myself as a climber.
Throughout the history of climbing there have been numerous quantum leap advancements: think sticky rubber, cams, form fitting shoes, legitimate belay techniques, dynamic ropes, fixed climbing protection, focus on free climbing, bouldering, sport climbing, climbing as an athletic sport as opposed to means to summit or to have an adventure, climbing as a career. What will it mean for your accomplishments if a substantial "advancement " allows the rest of us punters to run up the Dawn Wall before lunch?

Advances in technology constantly re-define the game allowing constant progression. There is nothing more motivating than that feeling of progression. But, it in no way takes away from the experience of the past. Do you look at Royal Robbins or Warren Harding and think to yourself, “those guys were so light duty”. I doubt it, if anything, the advances in technology serve only to create nostalgia and admiration for the people that managed to climb without that technology. Technology is the reason rock faces like El Cap has been able to constantly reinvent itself for each generation. First as a question of “is it possible to merely climb the thing using any means. To how fast, or how blank of a section of the wall, or can these routes go free. Who knows what the future will look like, but I am excited to see it go down.

Climbing has been accused at times of being a pointless and selfish endeavor, a means with no end. Occasional defenses of climbing involve abstracts such a facilitating self growth, learning about one self, inspiring the masses etc. What has climbing given/taught to you in life besides a career path and a decent living?

I once read a quote from Andrew Bisheret “Climbing is about deriving meaning from the meaningless”. Its true, on a practical level climbing is quite meaningless. But aren’t most endeavors. Like say, typing on a internet forum, or any sporting endeavor, or making money, or having kids. What is truly selfless. I am sure even Mother Teresa derived personal satisfaction from helping others. Having kids is a great example of what many call a selfless. I absolutely disagree. From a environmental standpoint, having kids must be about the worst thing you do. The media event surrounding climbing the Dawn Wall created the opportunity for me to help a bunch of charitable organizations by presenting at fundraisers, (about 25 last year) for now this seems to be the mot effective way for me to give back. Part of the reason I do this is to give back. But I also do it because it makes me feel good. So maybe I am dong it because I am selfish? As climbers, we may be more selfish than most, But I like to think that climbing fosters good things like a appreciation for our natural world (and a subsequent want to protect), comradery, love of life, love of people. To me, these are the beautiful things in life that we need more of. 

 2) Desert Rat

1) Years ago, when you cut off your finger, what were the psychological repurcussions? How long was it before you knew that it wouldn't affect your climbing at the harder levels?

Cutting off my finger had the psychological repercussion of making me realize how much I valued climbing (because I wondered if I would still be able live the life through climbing that I lived) It made me buckle down, train harder. I had to want it more so I wouldn’t loose it. Surprisingly, This became the biggest moment of growth in my climbing. It pushed me in the direction of El Cap and more adventurous forms of climbing (because I knew my fingers would never be as strong as they were for steep sport climbing and bouldering). It turns out I was much better at adventure climbing anyway. Its called Post traumatic growth, its actually pretty common.

2) Has your approach to risk changed since you became a father? When you go after projects like the Patagonia traverse, does thinking about Fitz play a role on the your level of acceptable risk, either consciously or subconsciously?

The big change that being a father had made in regards to risk is that I am much more thoughtful. I heavily consider the risks that I choose to take. It hasn’t really changed my day-to-day decisions though because I always chose to climb things I was relatively sure I would live through. I would say that I am more motivated by climbs that challenge Physical and psychological limits and less motivated by climbs that toy with the risk line. I won’t climb under hanging snow fields or in bad avalanche terrain. I rope up on glaciers; I look for big clean rock faces with little chance for rock fall. I admire hard work over boldness. But I still love a great adventure. Some of this might come from the fact that I am naturally relatively bold but weak. We tend to value the finite. The last thing I want to do as a father is to live in fear. I want to foster in my kids the ability to asses risk so that they will be prepared for a world where a certain amount of risk is inevitable. Climbing provides a great classroom for that.

3) Looking back on the time you were captured by rebel forces while on the wall in the middle east, do you find you have any PTSD left over from having to attempt to kill someone else in order to escape safely?

I will probably never fully understand the psychological effects of the events in Kyrgyzstan. What is PTSD anyway? I know that ever since that trip I have felt the need to live everyday to its fullest. I value family and friendship more now. I had a few nightmares in the months after the trip. My x-wifes Therapist blamed our divorce on a codependency issues that were a ripple effect from Kyrgyzstan. For the most part Kyrgyzstan was a coming of age moment that made the rest of life seem pretty mellow in comparison. It redefined suffering and stress and fear. I doubt I would be where I am today without that experience. 

3) John Sol.

With a career focused around a esoteric pasttime, do you ever feel that you could be doing something more important?

I vacillate between thinking what I do is super selfish and thinking that I am taking advantage of my only god given gift. When you think about it, most artistic pursuits could be put into a similar category. But what would the world look like without art or creativity? I love this question because it reminds me that we should strive to be less self-centered. (I am the first to admit that I am hugely self-centered)

This is not to belittle you or your achievements, but do you ever consider changing to a career that adds societal value?

For better or worse climbing is what I know and what I love. I don’t consider changing careers because I feel incredibly lucky to have the career that I have. With climbing get to be a explorer of sorts. I think anyone that has this opportunity in life should seize it.

What does it look like to you to have a meaningful impact as a climber?

What is meaningful impact anyway? I mean, Climbers aren’t saving the world. We are just doing the best we can with what we know. And it makes for a pretty great life. 

For more, check out the Moutanin Project : Ask Caldwell Forum

Monday, February 22, 2016

Said Belhaj - All in, all the time.

This is our first multi sensory post where you get to read, listen & dance all at the same time.

On a recent Episode of the Enormocast (Radclimbers favourite climbing podcast), we got to learn a little bit more about Swedish/Moroccan/Finnish climber, Said Belhaj. He is one of the most inspiring climbers & musician out there.

Podcast : Play in a new window

''After obsessively adventuring on nearby rocks and breaking into his grade school like a ninja to train, Said found sport climbing and his fate was set. He is a seeker and finds the meditative state in climbing to be as necessary as air and food. As an accomplished musician, Said travels the world sending hard routes and blowing minds with transcendental music. All in, all the time, Said Belhaj is a climber for the ages.'' Chris Kalous

Now close your eyes and listen to some of Said's Music.

Also check out: Said's website


Monday, February 15, 2016

Blood, Sweat & Tears

Blood, sweat and tears was Mike Libecki’s motto for the expedition. After 16 days on Poumaka—a jungle spire on the remote island of Ua Pu in French Polynesia—Libecki and his climbing partner Angie Payne experienced it all. They battled jungle, mud, horrendous choss, sometimes wearing crampons, and massive whippers to forge a new eight-pitch A4 up the 3,264-foot spire. They succeeded in the end, but got off to a rough start.

“It was a crazy first pitch,” Libecki told Rock and Ice. “I had just taken off my crampons and threw them down to Angie, as I had to front point and runout a small section of rock with moss and roots on it.

“I decked, but fortunately it was pretty jungly-soft so a somewhat mellow landing.” Libecki managed to climb the pitch on his second try, “with proper free shoes and protection with beaks. Needless to say, the first pitch was pretty interesting!”

Higher on the route, Libecki took whip number two when he tried to aid through “some overhanging, rotten coral…right off the anchor.” The nut popped and he went crashing into the rock just below the belay.

“My knee was worse than I let on at the moment,” he says. “Did not want to freak out Angie any more at that point, and knew I just needed to get back on lead right away. My sock and shoe were filled/caked with blood by the time I finished the pitch.”

Libecki took a third whip while trying to free an overhanging, expanding crack, but it wasn’t caught on camera. “Only the first cam blew when I fell,” he says. “Another exciting ride!

“Ha, what’s that saying? ‘Not whipping, not going for it!’ Something like that.

“It was a really strange climb…emotional and beautiful, and honestly, pretty challenging.”


Rad Climbers.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Climbing in turkey

We met in Istanbul. It was a cold but cheerful reunion. We hadn’t seen each other for months and we had planned this trip over two quick phone calls. Roxanne & I had come over from Myanmar.  We had decided together that Myanmar would be a spiritual trip, a trip to discover Buddhism at its fullest. Jonathan was working a nine to five job in Montreal and was more than stoked to quit when he heard that we were on our way to Turkey for a climbing trip. The three of us had climbed together in many places including Canada, China and Thailand. 

Roxanne and Joe are both very talented climbers, but beyond the talent they are the most amazing friends I have. It was pure joy for the three of us to regroup in such a blissful background. Istanbul Is for me a mix of flavors and colors. You can’t go wrong visiting this city. The oldest covered market in the world will hypnotize you with its array of spices. The Aya Sophia Mosque dating back to the 4th century gives you the impression you have teleported back in time. At night you can feel the streets transform. They become more alive than you would ever imagine. The Istanbullus sure love their drink! We sure loved to drink with them!
Some of the old greek ruins around Antalya!

The time spent in the capital felt short which surely confirmed the fun we had. But nothing could prepare us for our rock-climbing destination: Antalya! We took the shity night bus in order to save money from flying. Man, I couldn’t wait to get off that bus! Impatient to reach the cliffs as we arrived, we jumped right into a small dolmuch (local bus) heading towards the hills of Geyik Baiyiri 25 kilometers away. Since so few people travel through the villages, you need to hitch-hike the last portion of road up the hills. Surely, these small communities never would have thought they’d see a foreigner walk by until everything changed in 2001. A few climbers turned the place into a climbing wonder world.

From Kezbans camp
The area provides 4 different types of guest houses/ campgrounds for climbers only. We stayed at Kezban’s which is run by a friendly local and his girlfriend. In Geyik Bayiri, you can climb over 700 routes and there is still potential to develop many more! You can find routes from 4c to 8c on the same wall.The climbing is on superb limestone rock, with many features such as slabs and faces with small crimps to bomber overhanging tufas and roofs. A 70 meter rope is recommended for most climbs.

We spent a month living in our tent next to other climbers that were mostly French, Polish or Russian.  I always marvel at how strong the Europeans can climb. This one friend we made had cigarettes and beer as his main diet and still managed to climb 8b’s (5.13d). We climbed most week days. Sundays were the ideal rest days as it is market day in the neighbouring village. The majority of climbers hitch a ride down to stock up on food provisions for the week! The food is always awesome.

One of our favourite crags is called Trebena. This area is mostly sheltered from the rain and has some of the craziest rock formations. We all got to tick some projects there since it was always dry. My favourite route there was ‘’sucker punched’’ an awesome 7a (5.11d)  line that finishes in the 7c (5.12d) grade.


To get the real feel of climbing in Antalya its worth driving down the coast to Olympos. This is the real Turkish hippie town. Located near the ocean, Olympos has gorgeous beaches, ruins and tree houses to sleep in. One of the crags in this area bears the name of ‘’heaven’’ in turkish. It’s an amazing vertical slab with a few pockets placed perfectly as you make your way up. The routes there are all mostly in the 5.11/5.12 area which was perfect for us.

During our stay in Geyik there was an issue with some mining companies trying to get permission to dig up the crags. After heated discussions between climbers and miners, the climbers got the final word and saved Geyik! My concern is how long will it be until the mining industries come back. To anyone travelling to Turkey please try to get informed and make sure to offer a helping hand if needed. This place is truly beautiful and we want to make sure we keep it that way!

Lots of love,

Friday, January 22, 2016

Climbing in Colombia with Katie Lambert

As the spring season heated up, climbers head south in search of new destinations to build their strength and stamina. One rising destination in the Southern Hemisphere is the La Mojarra climbing area on the Mesa de los Santos next to the Chicamocha Canyon National Park in Columbia. Known for bullet-hard red sandstone, overhanging sport routes and surreal climbing above a picturesque valley, the zone has started drawing international climbers due to its growing reputation. 

Climbers Mason Earle and Katie Lambert journeyed to the area, staying at the climber epicenter of Refugio La Roca and tested their spring skills by sampling the hardest routes in La Mojarra’s 5.8 to 5.14a range. On down days, the team experienced the cultural travel aspects of a spot featuring stunning National Park vistas, thriving farmer’s markets and some of the best coffee in the world.

What an inspiring location this is!
See you all in Colombia,

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Stinger Low, Squamish

Michelle Yalowega on the ascent of Stinger Low V10, Squamish.

Michelle lives in Squamish, BC. She works as a high school science teacher. 
This is one of those videos we thought should be shared. 
What an awesome start to 2016.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Podcast with Paige Claassen

Here is a refreshing podcast from pro-climber Paige Claassen just for you. Claassen joins Pro Skier Hadley Hammer who has just launched NAUSICAA-CAST on december 7th this year. This is Nausicaa's 3rd episode yet. The podcasts aim at covering some of the worlds best female athletes. It's about those who have dedicated their lives to extreme sports.

Paige classen is very down to earth and fun to listen to. Her vision of the climbing industry is very interesting. She talks  about herself aswell as her goals such as bolting her first route. If you havent heard about Paige this is your chance to catch up on this amazingly talented climber. She has been crushing various hard 5.14 routes over the past years and will surely continue to inspire us over the comming year.

''I think a lot of people try to put on this face in the outdoor industry… that you have to be this perfect figure, this perfect athlete, always be psyched, always be happy…and that’s not realistic…and so to portray yourself as always psyched and always motivated-I don’t think that’s helpful for the community. So I’d rather portray a more realistic version of myself that people can actually relate to. It’s more fun for me, because I get to be myself. '' -Paige
Rad Climbers

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Alizée Dufraisse's trip to hampi

French climber Alizée Dufraisse tells us about her trip to Hampi, India.  
The article is presented in French & English for the enjoyement of everyone. The english is Alizée's own translation. It might be little hard to understand but we accept it as it is.
''Hampi is not a big city at all,  it is a small touristic village far from cities, where people are really hospitable, always motivated for climbing, discovering and share new things. Life in Hampi is quiet, relaxing, peaceful et we fell there, free to do what we truly want to do.  The keyword is be COOOOOL''

Friday, December 11, 2015

You never know when?

Back when I was in China, my partner and I biked out to the big banyan tree crag, just 4km outside Yangshuo. We left on an early Saturday morning for an attempt at what is said to be one of the best 5.12’s in the area. The route was called the ‘’Todd Skinner Line’’ graded 7b (5.12b). It was obviously one of the most popular routes at the crag. It is a very straight forward powerful climb. The guide book describes the route as a ‘’sustained pumpfest’’. As I was getting ready to climb, my partner obviously looking at my harness said: ‘’I can’t believe your still climbing with that old harness! Seriously, you should get a new one’’. I had a quick look at my harness and could only agree that she was right. ‘’I’ll buy one soon’’ I promised. She was right, but I loved my harness. It had followed me through thick and thin and I hated the idea of replacing it.

As I started to climb, I couldn’t help but notice the bolts looked out of shape. They were getting a little old and rusty. We should make sure this route gets rebolted I thought. On top of that, I was still thinking about my harness. I really needed to get a new one. Instead of acting smart, I don’t know why, I pushed on. I tried hard to swat these ideas out of my head. But the higher I got over that rusted bolt the lower my mental game was. My legs started shaking uncontrollably and my arms felt like someone was pouring hot Chinese tea onto them. I was pumped and I wasn’t even half way up yet. I pushed through and clipped the next bolt but as I got higher the inevitable happened. I took some airtime. It felt like the biggest whipper in my life, but in reality it was just an ordinary short & safe fall. If someone else had observed the scene he probably would have chuckled a bit at the sound of my scream. As I looked around, the bolt had held and so did my harness.  Why was I so freaked out?

Tod Skinner
Later, I thought of Todd Skinner and the legend he was. I read about his achievements and his death. It made me think about how illogical it was for someone like me with an old shitty harness to climb like it’s no big deal. Worst of all, is the fact that I mindlessly tempted faith by testing my ‘’shitty harness’’ on the Todd Skinner’s line.

Todd Skinner died on Yosemite’s leaning tower in 2006. He was killed when his worn belay loop broke while rappelling from Ahwahnee Ledge. He fell 500 feet to find his death at the base of the tower. Four days before the tragedy, Skinner’s partner, Jim Hewett, had noticed that his leg loops and belay loop appeared a little worn out.  “I very much stressed to him that that’s not good,” said Hewett.  Skinner answered that Hewett was right and that he had a new one on the way. The death of Todd Skinner could have been prevented easily had he backed up the loop with a cordelette or a sling. Belay loops are made to be as strong & durable as possible but they aren’t indestructible.

As climbers it is ingrained in us to push ourselves beyond the limits. The strongest climbers will talk about how important it is to turn your brain off and just go for it. At times, we need to be risk-takers to succeed but we also need to be smart ones. Gear isn’t cheap and it’s easier spending money on traveling and climbing than buying new stuff but I want to keep doing what I love. I want to keep others around me safe and I feel like in the end; it’s no big deal to be a little cautious and climb with proper gear. 
Todd Skinner, rest in Peace!

How to install a backup

Climb on & don't forget to check your gear! 
Vincent Kneeshaw 
Rad Climbers ©