Facundo Langbehn is First V15 Chilean Boulderer


Facundo Langbehn on The Nest V15 Photo Carlos Lastra

Facundo Langbehn became the first Chilean climber to tick the V15 grade with his recent send of The Nest in Red Rocks, Nevada.

It was the fifth ascent of the route which was first climbed by Daniel Woods in 2013 and repeated by Jimmy Webb, Paul Robinson and Nalle Hukkataival.

Langbehn is only the second South American after Felipe Camargo to climb V15.

Langbehn was 23 years old at the time of his send and from Santiago, Chile. He’s been climbing since he was four and has been focusing on bouldering for the past few years.

He did his first V13 in 2012 and soon saw a video of Woods climbing The Nest and wanted to try it.

He first tried it in 2016 but conditions were not right but he returned in late 2017 and climbed it on the third day of his trip.

He also climbed Meadowlark Lemon Sit V14 and Reflecting Pool V13 in Red Rocks on the same trip.

Watch the send below.



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Monday Motivation: 10 Rad #GrippedMagazine Photos


All #GrippedMagazine photos are rad and here are 10 from the past few days the stoked up through the work week.

And if you’re not working, then keep climbing and keep posting those great photos.

One last ice pic for the season. #iceclimbing #iceisnice

A post shared by Climb Sudbury (@climbsudbury) on Apr 29, 2018 at 4:13pm PDT

The post Monday Motivation: 10 Rad #GrippedMagazine Photos appeared first on Gripped Magazine.



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Gripped Week in Review: New Alpine, Toronto Crags, Anchors


This is a weekly summary of top climbing stories from April 20 to April 27.

Brette Harrington and Rose Pearson climb a big new alpine route in the Canadian Rockies.

At 16, Laura Rogora has established a new 5.14+.

Legendary Canadian rock climber talks about altering existing route.

Alberta-based blacksmith is making hammers and pitons for climbers.

Top route developer explains why you shouldn’t top-rope directly through anchors.

The first ascent of a hard problem goes up on the world’s most expensive boulder.

The founder of the company Wild Country passed away.

A number of Canadian teams are in the Himalayas climbing this year.

The first reported ascent of a big B.C. mountain was likely the first ascent.

Here are five great Toronto-area crags for spring.



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Strong Climber Matty Hong Grew Up in a Climbing Family


Matty Hong, watch profile below

In 2016, Matty Hong climbed his first 5.15a when he sent Chris Sharma’s Papichulo in Oliana, Spain.

But that was just the beginning. He followed that up with two more 5.15a’s, both in Spain, and solidified himself as one of the country’s top sport climbers.

He’s also bouldered V15 and when he’s not climbing, Hong can wield a camera as deftly as he executes intricate crux sequences.

The 26-year-old’s photos and films are poignant portraits into his world of climbing.

“My parents Steve Hong and Karin Budding introduced me to climbing at a young age. Both are still active climbers and my most consistent partners! I don’t remember when I started climbing, similar to how I don’t remember my first steps, but I know it’s always been a big part of my life and who I am.”

Watch a profile on Hong by Black Diamond below.

“Without a doubt my parents have been the most influential to my climbing. Not only were they my first sponsor, they have always supported my passion for climbing, even if I had to miss school.

“Together, they taught me to climb by taking me outdoors, since that is how they learned and what they were most passionate about. Having the exposure of climbing outside at a young age made me fall in love with the outdoors and motivated me to travel and climb in new places.”



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Indoor Weekly: Top Canadian Climbers in New T.V. Series


Sean McColl at Up the Bloc for Nationsl 2018 Photo Aidas Odonelis

On Mon. April 30, top Canadian climbers will be featured in a new T.V. series called How the Game is Played on GameTV.

Sean McColl, Alannah Yip, Bronwen Karnis, Rahul Sapra and Francis Bilodeau talk about their goals and what it takes to be a national level competition climbers centred around the 2018 Bouldering Natinoals.

“Meet world-class competitors and get an inside look at their unique preparations, methods and rituals and what makes them amazing at their game of choice,” is the write-up for the new series.

Luigi Montilla, co-owner of Up the Bloc and Joe Rockhead’s said, “The Bouldering Nationals is the biggest event on the Canadian climbing calendar.”

It will air 7 p.m. EST and to see where and how to watch visit here.

Watch Trailer:



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Marc-Andre Leclerc Remembered by Chris Kalman


Marc-Andre Leclerc

Canadian Marc-Andre Leclerc died in a climbing accident in Alaska in March, along with Ryan Johnson.

Eighteen months earlier, American Alpnine Journal associate editor Chris Kalman had recorded a long interview with the young Canadian, in preparation for an article that appeared in 2017 journal.

To honour Leclerc’s life and provide a window into his unique character and intelligence, the American Alpine Journal offers this edited version of the interview below, covering his thoughts about bold climbs from Canada to Patagonia, on their podcast called The Cutting Edge.

Read the article this interview was preparing for here.

Look for a tribute to Leclerc in the June/July 2018 issue of Gripped magazine.

Remembering Marc by Chris Kalman

I didn’t know Marc-Andre Leclerc nearly as well as I would have liked to. As such, I feel it is important to note that I am in no way fit to eulogize him. I don’t want to over exaggerate our connection. But I don’t think you need to know someone intimately to be deeply affected by them. When someone like Prince, or Leonard Cohen, passes away, people from all over the world who never even met them come together to mourn. That is how impactful their art was. Marc-Andre is no different. His climbs inspired me, but his attitude about his climbs – about climbing in general – helped mold my own feelings about how I live my life. Thus, even though we were little more than acquaintances, I am deeply saddened by his death. And so, I have done the only thing I know how to do with those kinds of feelings. I wrote. Here is what I would like to say about Marc-Andre Leclerc.

Marc and I met in a hostel in Bariloche in 2014 during the Austral summer. He, Will Stanhope, and Matty Van Biene were on their way down to the Turbio Valley, and I was headed to Cochamo. Later, he stayed with Matty and I at the shack we were renting in Index. It was during that time that I started to gain a real appreciation for him – not just as a climber, but as a thoughtful, intelligent, and charismatic human. He was a strong climber then – but nothing out of the norm. Still, you could feel some electric potential in him. He was bristling with possibility. I knew he was special, and I quickly became fond of him.

In 2016, just a year after we were falling on the same routes, Marc had one of the most successful years of climbing in the history of the sport. Early in the winter, he did an impressive linkup of solos on the Stanley Headwall, in the Canadian Rockies. In the spring, he was back in the Rockies again, establishing first ascents of a bevy of routes in The Valley of Ten Peaks with Luka Lindic. He and Luka also climbed the rarely-repeated Greenwood-Locke route on Mt. Temple in full winter conditions, in a single push – the first time it had been done in that fashion. When Lindic left Canada, Marc-Andre carried on alone, completing the first winter solo of the Andromeda Strain on Mt. Andromeda, and almost immediately afterwards, the first solo ascent of Mt. Robson’s Emperor Face, via the route Infinite Patience. Next he was going ground-up in the Ghost Valley, drilling on lead for a new 5.13 multipitch sport route with Brette Harrington. In the blink of an eye he was off to Baffin Island, where he established two new routes with difficulties up to 5.13 on Great Sail Peak with Brette, and their friend, Joshua Lavigne. He didn’t slow down in the summer, authoring the first ascent of the impressive Chinese Puzzle Wall near Mt. Slesse in B.C., again with Brette, via their 11-pitch 5.12b, Hidden Dragons. In September, Marc found himself alone on the summit of Torre Egger after soloing the route, Titanic, for the first solo ascent of the peak. He did it in full winter conditions. That climb has been touted by some as the proudest ascent ever done in the range.

I know all this because Marc told it to me in a conversation I had with him shortly after his Egger solo. I was working for the American Alpine Journal, and we wanted to do a feature with Marc about his solos of the Emperor Face, and Egger. Marc had been hard to pin down on this. He had already written a beautiful blog post about Robson. Couldn’t we just use that? I could tell he was not looking forward to spending more time in front of a computer. I felt it was imperative not to let this opportunity slip, so I made Marc a deal. He and I could just talk on the phone, I would record the conversation, and then I would build his story from that interview. He was game, so we set a time, and soon we were chatting like old friends.

Now, a year and a half after our conversation, Marc is gone. He and his partner, Ryan Johnson, perished while descending from a new route on the Main Tower of Alaska’s Mendenhall Towers. Marc was just 25 years old.

The morning after hearing the news, I revisited the recording I made of our conversation. I got the tears out of the way early on, listening to Marc talk about starting school at the age of four, skipping another grade after that, working construction at the age of 14 to afford his first rack.

When the tears dried up, I found myself on the edge of my seat listening to a voice I already missed. At times he had me in stitches with his casual treatment of incredibly severe situations. At others, he gave me goosebumps with his beautiful descriptions of the alpine environment, and his humility. He was the opposite of cocky, and arrogant. It always felt to me as if Marc was just as in awe of his climbs as the rest of us; not in a self-congratulatory way, but in the way you might stare at a stunning spire. It almost felt to me that through these climbs, Marc transmogrified into something as beautiful as the mountain itself, and that he was dimly aware of that, even if he couldn’t fully explain, or believe it.

At the time of our interview, I was worried that Marc was being reckless with his climbing. I didn’t like it, and I told him as much. I had recently come to a point in my own climbing in which I forced myself to quit free soloing cold turkey. I did so because it had become clear to me that I couldn’t trust myself to make good decisions. I explained this to Marc, and asked if he thought he was being realistic about his risk assessment.

His answer surprised me. When he said “I wouldn’t make hard and fast rules for myself” I thought I was perceiving his Achilles heel. But I was wrong. He went on to describe a process for making decisions in the mountains that immediately struck me as far more organic, and intuitive than my own. “It’s hard to explain,” he said. “The only way I can even produce a visual is some kind of web of interconnected possible outcomes and decisions and small adjustments. Each small decision brings you down a different path—a whole next set of places you might find yourself, and decisions you have to make next.”

Upon listening to Marc’s words, my hard and fast rule, “no soloing”, instantly struck me as facile, and oversimplified. Moreover, it was indicative of a personal weakness from which Marc did not seem to suffer. The reason I had to say no, en masse, was because when I said yes, I never changed my mind. I experienced no such web of decisions – just set off bullheadedly to complete what I had set out to do. When Marc set off on solos, he told me, he was always prepared to bail. I could not claim the same for myself, and the only reason I’m still around to write this, I’m certain, is sheer dumb luck.

It would be easy to attribute Marc’s sudden passing, given his many daring climbs in past years, to an overly capricious attitude toward risk. But I honestly don’t believe that was the case. As his girlfriend, Brette Harrington, explained to me recently: “Marc knew very well what he was dealing with and took all the precautions to avoid accidents. This year in particular we have backed off of objectives due to questionable approach slopes or looming cornices, waited out warm weather, and waited for the mountains to clean. Marc was very attentive and conservative when it came to conditions.” When he perished, he was not out of his element, not pushing the boundaries of his abilities. I don’t think he was being overly risky. I think he got unlucky.

Marc knew that getting unlucky was always a possibility. We talked about this during our conversation. I shared with him something Steve Swenson once told me. “You can be super skilled, super knowledgeable, and have all the tools,” I paraphrased. “But at the end of the day there’s luck, and if you don’t think there’s luck involved, you’re lying to yourself.”

“Yeah,” Marc agreed, “you are.” And then, he simply said “Man. Crevasses and avalanches.” He did not expound further on those things. He didn’t have to.

I think Marc lived beautifully, intentionally, and intelligently. He wasn’t hiding from, or in denial about, the possible ramifications of his chosen life path. He embraced it unequivocally. And for this reason, I find myself reaching for a tired trope, I discarded long ago and never thought I’d come back to.

He died doing what he loved.

In this case, more than in any other I’ve been privy to before, I believe that to be true. He was beyond all the ego shit. Had transcended the media miasma, and the competitive quagmire of tracking times, and chasing grades. He was a pure spirit of climbing, and he lived and breathed, from what I could gather, an unbridled passion for being in the mountains.

I don’t know how Marc died, exactly. It seems likely that he and Ryan were swept into a crevasse by an avalanche. One tends to hope that death is quick and painless. And yet, there’s a part of me that wonders if Marc would have wanted it that way. He and I never discussed this subject, so this is purely conjecture. But he was so enraptured by every little thing that he experienced in the mountains, that I can’t help but think he might have wanted to be conscious and aware of what was happening, no matter how painful it was. “I didn’t want to miss any of the views,” he told me of his solo of Infinite Patience. “I was super into the colors, all the little critters waking up… It wasn’t about the climb; it wasn’t about cranking some hard move or anything, or free soloing. It was just this experience. It was like taking psychedelics or something.” I believe that, faced with certain death, Marc would have brought the same boundless curiosity and artistic attention to bear.

And would he be afraid? Of course. But I am reminded of another quote from our conversation, about his descent from Robson. “As I started rapping, I felt super intimidated, but right in the midst of the situation I had most feared, I just started to draw on all of the experience I’d been building, the systems and know-how in the mountains… And in the end, it was fine.”

We can’t actually know how it went down, or how Marc felt. And I don’t want to impose my thoughts on anyone else. But I do want to share a vision that keeps returning to me. I see Marc down in some deep crevasse. Full of pain, and sorrow, yes; but also entranced by the air bubbles trapped in the ice, light trickling in through frozen walls, breath rising weightlessly upward, the strange sensation of pupils dilating, eyes adjusting finally to darkness. I know that sounds. I’m not saying it’s necessarily what I would want for myself, or how I would respond. But I do not equate myself with Marc. I think he had a much deeper tolerance for pain and discomfort, and probably a more enduring curiosity.

There’s something else Marc told to me, which has stuck with me since the moment he said it. “When I finally did the climb,” he said, referring to his solo of Torre Egger, “it actually wasn’t that technically difficult. And then… I’ve been told it’s maybe the hardest route that was ever soloed in the mountains… But I’m like ‘was it actually that important? … You know, maybe the only reason I’m the only person doing that climb is just because I’m the only person in my generation trying these things. Most kids in my generation are mostly not going to the mountains at all. It just makes me wonder, if more people were going to the mountains, would this even be hard? Would climbing have progressed at a different rate? Or am I just the only person in my field?”

I never questioned Marc on that, because I found his humility so damn refreshing. And, to be frank, I don’t think Marc would have appreciated me gushing to him about how special he was. So I held my tongue, told him that was a great way to wrap up the interview, shot the shit with him for a while, and said goodbye.

I was a small part of Marc’s life, and we never exchanged more than a few quick emails after that phone call. Partially because we both were busy. But partially because I didn’t want to be pushy, didn’t want to fanboy all over him.

Damnit if I don’t regret that now. I should’ve bought a plane ticket to go visit him in Yosemite last fall. We chatted briefly about my doing just that so I could wring a few more AAJ stories out of him. It just never occurred to me that time was running out. So I did other things instead.

If I could see Marc now, though, I’d tell him the truth whether he liked it or not. He was one of the most talented alpine climbers that ever lived. He was a warm, tender, thoughtful, inspired, and inspiring human. What he achieved was won through hard work, and passion. He loved being in the mountains, and that love – I’m convinced – gave him a supernatural ability to adhere to steep faces of rock and ice, moss and snow.

Marc-Andre Leclerc was one of a kind. I reject his hypothesis. If you took any other climber out there today and gave them the same muscles, same experience, same tools as Marc had, I don’t believe a single one of them would be capable of his feats. Because they wouldn’t be possessed of the same heart. The same soul. Marc’s was a uniquely gifted and gilded spirit. He was not just the only one out there doing it. He was, actually, that good.

Listen Here:



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It’s Tick Season in Canada so Check for Ticks, Eh


Ticks are little critters that run wild in spring, especially in dry areas. Their bites can bring about serious long term health problems. Many of Canada’s top climbers have had tick-related illnesses in the past.

The most common is illness is called Lyme Disease, which is a debilitating illness that causes extreme fatigue and worse.

In Canada, we have approximately 40 species of ticks, but only a few can transmit Lyme Disease, such as the black-legged or deer tick. Ticks are small arachnids that live by feeding on the blood of animals.

dt

This is a tick.

Nearly all of Canada’s crags have ticks at some time during the year, some crags have more than others. In Skaha, it is common to have five to 1o ticks on you by the end of the day.

Their effect on human health is  not well understood or tested in Canada. Sometimes the person who has been bit has a headache, nausea or fatigue for one to five days, sometimes a few weeks, sometimes a few months.

People infected are commonly misdiagnosed with other illnesses, and, when a proper diagnosis is made, it’s often difficult to verify because accurate testing isn’t available.

There is no universally accepted test for Lyme Disease and early treatment is critical. It is difficult to diagnose because symptoms vary from person to person. There are over 100 known symptoms of Lyme Disease.

Common symptoms of Lyme Disease include: Developing a rash sometimes shaped like a bull’s eye mark. Initial flu-like symptoms can be fever, headache, nausea, jaw pain, light sensitivity, red eyes, muscle aches and neck stiffness. Some Lyme victims experience immediate symptoms after infection, others may have none for many months.

Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease

Tick checks should be part of every Canadian climber’s routine in spring. After a day of climbing or at the crag, always be on the lookout for them crawling around on you or your partners.

After a day climbing, sure to strip down and check, especially the back of the head, armpits and other warm areas. Shake your clothes out because they love hiding in packs and on jackets that have been laying on the ground. Also check your pets, ticks love getting rides to your house on dogs.

While many people who play outdoors carry bear spray, few check for ticks and ticks are far more common. For safe tick removal, visit the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation and for more information on ticks visit here.



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Blanchard Talks Spring Banff Avalanche Condition Risks


A Banff avalanche, watch below

The big spring avalanche clear-outs are about two weeks late, but they can rise a lot from morning to afternoon, and they currently have experts urging caution.

Avalanche conditions in Banff National Park are dangerous and hikers, climbers and scramblers should use extreme caution.

Poor conditions could last until mid- to late-June this year. Visit avalanche.ca for current conditions.

“This snow has already lost its structure due to direct sunlight,” Barry Blanchard told CBC News.

“It’s quite moist, no longer sticking together. The next stage in its evolution is it gets like wet oatmeal. All you have to do is touch it and you’ll get a surface slough release of an avalanche.

“When you get a cold, clear night and the snowpack freezes and forms a frozen crust we have literally almost no avalanche hazard, and that can go to high avalanche hazard by the afternoon. It’s no longer bonded by an ice freeze, it’s now like wet oatmeal. It’s ripe for an avalanche, it just needs to be touched.”

In his book The Calling: A Life Rocked by Mountains, Blanchard wrote about an avalanche experience, “I saw the avalanche coming. It charged over the step of dirty, brown ice above like a breaking wave of black water. It hammered down the gully, driving into us like the fist of God, and I screamed. ‘The avalanche slapped my crampons out from under me, and I was folded in half. I was going to die.’”

Parks Visitor Safety specialist Conrad Janzen said, “Start really early, perhaps before sunrise and be on top of your objectives by mid morning and down before noon and for people just going out hiking, don’t forget there’s still avalanche hazard.”

“If you’re going out into the backcountry start early, finish early, and if you don’t have avalanche training don’t forget it’s still avalanche season.

“We’re probably, I would say, two weeks behind our normal period at least.

“It’s great for the ski season but it’s a bit of a concern for us now because it’s all warming in one big warm up instead of a gradual warm up.”

Watch an avalanche in Banff National Park below.



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Blanchard Talks Spring Banff Avalanche Conditions


The big spring avalanche clear-outs are about two weeks late, but they can rise a lot from morning to afternoon, and they currently have experts urging caution.

Avalanche conditions in Banff National Park are dangerous and hikers, climbers and scramblers should use extreme caution.

Poor conditions could last until mid- to late-June this year. Visit avalanche.ca for current conditions.

“This snow has already lost its structure due to direct sunlight,” Barry Blanchard told CBC News.

“It’s quite moist, no longer sticking together. The next stage in its evolution is it gets like wet oatmeal. All you have to do is touch it and you’ll get a surface slough release of an avalanche.

“When you get a cold, clear night and the snowpack freezes and forms a frozen crust we have literally almost no avalanche hazard, and that can go to high avalanche hazard by the afternoon. It’s no longer bonded by an ice freeze, it’s now like wet oatmeal. It’s ripe for an avalanche, it just needs to be touched.”

In his book The Calling: A Life Rocked by Mountains, Blanchard wrote about an avalanche experience, “I saw the avalanche coming. It charged over the step of dirty, brown ice above like a breaking wave of black water. It hammered down the gully, driving into us like the fist of God, and I screamed. ‘The avalanche slapped my crampons out from under me, and I was folded in half. I was going to die.’”

Parks Visitor Safety specialist Conrad Janzen said, “Start really early, perhaps before sunrise and be on top of your objectives by mid morning and down before noon and for people just going out hiking, don’t forget there’s still avalanche hazard.”

“If you’re going out into the backcountry start early, finish early, and if you don’t have avalanche training don’t forget it’s still avalanche season.

“We’re probably, I would say, two weeks behind our normal period at least.

“It’s great for the ski season but it’s a bit of a concern for us now because it’s all warming in one big warm up instead of a gradual warm up.”

Watch an avalanche in Banff National Park below.



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Indoor Weekly: Sean McColl Heading to Speed Stars


Sean McColl is the only Canadian competing on the international scene this weekend.

The World Cup series has the week off before continuing Chongqing, China, on May 5 and 6.

But McColl has been invited to climb at the International Climbing Series Outdoor Village Speed Stars in Akishima, Tokyo.

There are less than 20 climbers who will be at the event, including Josh Levin and Akiyo Noguchi. See the full list of starters here and for more on the event visit here.

Watch McColl go against Adam Ondra on the Speed climb. Will they one day go head-to-head in the Olympics?



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