Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Geek alert!

I was sitting comfortably in the smallest room in the apartment reading a magazine this morning, as I am wont to do any given morning, when I realized that yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the first ascent of the Nose route on El Capitan. Okay, this "realization" came because the article I was reading was about that very event, not because I know the date of such an arcane anniversary off the top of my head. It's significant because El Cap, with its 3,000 feet of vertical granite reigning supreme over Yosemite Valley in California, is probably the most famous chunk of rock to climbers around the world. The epicenter of climbing, if you will. And the Nose is the most famous climb on that chunk of rock. Therefore, the Nose is likely the most well-known and sought-after climb in the known universe.

The Nose follows the red line, approximately. This marks the first time I've ever taken someone else's photo and altered it for my own purposes. For the record, it was submitted by someone named Deb to the site SummitPost.org.

No, I've never climbed it. Never even been to Yosemite.

The Nose was also the sight of what many consider to be, along with its first ascent in 1958, one of the single greatest achievements in climbing: Lynn Hill's first free ascent in 1994. "Free ascent" means using only your hands or feet to make progress up the rock, never pulling on gear to make headway. She upped the ante the following year by doing it free in a single day. It took another 10 years for anyone to follow her lead, despite the efforts over that period of many of the strongest climbers in the world. Name another "sport" (I hate to apply the term to climbing) where not only do men and women "compete" (again, the word doesn't quite fit) on equal footing, but a woman actually sets the bar so high that it would take another decade for anyone, man or woman, to match her. Below is the tail end of a documentary made about her climb.




On a sad note, in researching this post I learned that the issue of the magazine I was reading this morning that started all this was the final issue of that publication, ever. Alpinist has closed its doors. I really am bummed about this. It was far and away the finest climbing magazine in the world, publishing quarterly on archival-quality stock featuring writing and photography of the highest caliber with limited advertisements. Their offices were in Jackson, WY and I had the chance to meet some of the editorial staff and contributing writers when I lived there. It was the rare content-driven publication created by people who not only had a passion for the subject, but a passion for writing and design as well, bringing it all together in what can only be called a work of art. After only 25 issues, it will be missed.

12 comments:

Julie said...

Such sad news for your publication on an otherwise happy day. I'm sure those writers and editors will keep doing what they're doing, though. You'll just have to google a little harder to find it.

Courtney said...

Shit. I guess my parents will have to come up with something new to get you for Christmas this year. (Mickey's been enjoying Alpinist courtesy of my parents for the past few years, y'all.) It really was an excellent publication.

Also, I've been to Yosemite. So there.

Rachel said...

I have a ridiculous amount of respect for rock climbers. I would wager that the only way I'd get my feet off the ground is if there was a rising river of lava forcing me to.

Ooh, I just thought of a new event for "American Gladiators."

Stefanie said...

That may have been a geeky post, but at least it wasn't about vomit. (I kid, I kid.)

So really? You've never been to Yosemite? Isn't that sort of like the Pope never having been to church?

Rachel said...

Also, since you often use alternate titles for NaBlo (NaBloKoKoMo, NaBloMoFo, etc.), I'm happy to share my recent stroke of genius with you: NaBloFroYo.

If that didn't make you laugh, kindly move along and forget I ever mentioned it.

sid said...

I tried outdoor rock climbing ... too scary for me. Prefer indoor rock climbing. It also easier.

nancypearlwannabe said...

Rock climbing in general is probably one of the scariest things I can imagine, so hauling myself up a rock face called "the Nose" falls somewhere between I Will Never Ever Do That and I Wouldn't Do That For A Million Dollars.

Noelle said...

I felt the same way when I learned Cosmo Girl! was going under.

Chris said...

Seems so small in the photo, but if it was a major feat for this climber to do it in a single day then obviously it is very tall.

Now, a question, to further demonstrate my ignorance: If you were to make this climb in more than a single day, where would you spend the night? I don't see anything here that looks like a ledge or cave or what-have-you. But maybe the photo is just too far away to spot them.

Allie said...

That is really cool. I've never been climbing, other than the little bits that go along with hiking. I totally want to now, after watching that video.

cazz said...

When I grow up, I wanna be just like Lynn Hill! Wow! Thanks Sid for sending me to Mickey's blog. I do a lil climbin meself but nothin compared to this legend. I dream of the day when I can get my grubby little paws on El Capitain. Anyone wanna send me a ticket, CT to Yosemite - one way? Also, if you interested in checking out some more mad climbing videos, look out for Dan Osman!

Aaron said...

Dude, didn't Captain Kirk climb that free-style in one of the Star Trek movies? And then he fell, and Spock rescued him with rocket boots?

Or...not. I'm sorry.