I was invited to give a presentation at the Yosemite Facelift 2010, a park wide clean up event originally started by climbers and spearheaded by Ken Yager. The Facelift is now the largest National Park clean up in the country and has moved beyond just climbers to people from all walks of life!!! For my last few slideshows, I have showed up a day early to shoot and edit a short video that I show as part of my presentation. I feel like it's a unique and original element of my show, and people are psyched to see something created in real time! However, the amount of work that this entails is pretty ridiculous, and usually at around Five A.M. after a sleepless night of editing, I swear that I will never do it again. This particular "In A Day" installment features some of Yosemites Top "Unheard Of" climbers, an overview of the Facelift, and then, Yosemites Best Climber crushing blood from the stone!!!
“The List is this ongoing process in my head,” says climber Craig DeMartino. Each season, his mind wanders over past climbs. They bubble to the surface and Craig makes it a point to go out and repeat them, but over the years a funny thing happened. The list became less about looking backward then as a means for looking forward. Craig climbs as hard if not harder than he did before his accident and amputation, so it would only make sense that he would add new, more challenging routes to The List. For all traditional climbers, El Capitan is always right near the top of every tick list.
For more than a decade, Outdoor Research Athlete Ambassador Beth Rodden proved that women could climb just as hard—if not harder—than men. She was the youngest woman to ever climb 5.14, climbing To Bolt or Not to Be (5.14a, 8b+) at Oregon’s Smith Rock in 1998. She went on to co-establish the first free ascent of Lurking Fear (5.10 A3) on Yosemite’s El Capitan in 2000, establish the first free ascent of Smith Rock’s The Optimist (5.14b) in 2005, and redpoint Yosemite’s Meltdown (proposed 5.14c) in 2008. At a proposed grade of 5.14c, Meltdown is considered the hardest climb in Yosemite and the hardest trad pitch in the United States. Beth’s ascent of Meltdown was the most difficult ascent of any route by an American woman, and it remains the hardest trad route ascent established by a woman anywhere.
In June of 2009, Beth tore the labrum in her right shoulder while bouldering in Yosemite and subsequently reinjured the shoulder twice. For this elite climber, it was the most serious in a series of untimely and debilitating injuries including a broken ankle and a torn collateral ligament in both index fingers. In the end, Beth decided her best bet for a full recovery was surgery to repair the tear.
Forced to dial back the intensity and difficulty of her climbing as she heals, Beth says the time recovering from her injuries and subsequent surgery has allowed her to reconnect with the basic joys of rock climbing that first drew her to the sport. Says Beth, “Climbing outside with friends in some of the most beautiful places I can image—This is all I need.”
“But I have to admit,” she continues, “I definitely think about some of my unfinished projects.”
At Outdoor Research, where Beth is now working with our design team to produce world-class rock climbing apparel and gear, we’re all wishing her a quick return to the elite level she pioneered.
And if we know Beth like we think we do, we’re sure she’ll get there soon.
Watch “Climbing Back” to see Beth tackling her long road to recovery.