Climbing Stories

Ken Etzel
Images from the Chaltén Climbing Season

On the Argentine side of the Patagonian Andes, the Chaltén Massif is a dense range of extremely steep mountains, famous for Cerro Torre and Chaltén itself (the native name for the peak also known as Fitz Roy). I have been coming to this mountain range on an annual basis since 2003, often for a three-month…

Colin Haley
10 min Read
Sunnyside Up

Last November, Fitz Caldwell (age 6) finished his first multipitch climb, Sunnyside Bench in Yosemite National Park. He did it with his dad, Tommy.

Tommy Caldwell
3 min Read
First Photo: Mount Whitney

A Sierra trip with good light and only one case of altitude sickness.

Kyle Sparks
9 min Read
What Comes Next

Rolando Garibotti looks back at a lifetime spent in Patagonia and forward to the generation following in his footsteps.

Rolando Garibotti
4 min Read
Exactly Where You Are Supposed To Be

Tommy Caldwell's first trip to Patagonia

Tommy Caldwell
3 min Read
SOLO

Colin Haley on the experience of soloing the Supercanaleta

Colin Haley
4 min Read
Six Years Seven Summits

Kate Rutherford Remembers the North Pillar of Fitz Roy

Kate Rutherford
3 min Read
From the Ground Up

For this climber, good food is activism.

Kate Rutherford
5 min Read
Vince Anderson Q&A

When Vince Anderson took a break from alpine climbing, his mountaineering attitude manifested itself in a single-speed hardtail, on which he’s won some of the sport’s most grueling races.

Jesse Selwyn
13 min Read
The Song Remains The Same

How a father and son found a way to climb one of Utah's most sought-after ice routes in a bygone era.

Andrew Burr
3 min Read
Perched On A Wild Border

Sometimes when I look at the Fitz Roy Range, I see a silhouetted jawline of mountainous teeth that gnash the sky. Other times, the teeth transform to fingers that don’t crush aspirations but cradle them, like a hand cupping something precious. The distinction really depends on whether I’m looking at the mountains from the relative…

Timmy O’Neill
3 min Read
Finding Granite and New Limits in Madagascar

I wake early to the dazzling heat of the African sun. Perched 400 meters high on a huge granite face in central Madagascar, all I can see is black and blue, the color of the Malagasy granite meeting the sky and, coincidentally, the same color as large areas of my body from the constant abuse…

Robbie Phillips
13 min Read
Lessons from Yosemite’s First Climbing Guidebook

Lessons from Yosemite’s first climbing guidebook “I have this idea,” Mikey texted last October. “Let’s climb all of the suggested routes from the Yosemite red-cover guidebook.” I agreed immediately. The tattered copy of A Climber’s Guide to Yosemite Valley arrived in the mail less than a week later. First published in 1964 by the Sierra Club,…

Timmy O’Neill
5 min Read
How Roy, New Mexico Became a World-Class Bouldering Area

The patchwork history of public lands that transformed the area around a small New Mexico town into a world-class bouldering area We left the Mills Canyon Rim Campground, where we’d been living for three cold January weeks, just before dawn on our last morning in New Mexico. I pulled over to the north side of…

Eric Bissell
8 min Read
A Day at the Yosemite Facelift Cleanup

On an incredibly clear, early autumn morning, the aging Yosemite Search and Rescue (YOSAR) van bumped along Tioga Pass Road, taking precariously tight turns at an alarming speed. Twelve of us were crammed in the back, chattering and bracing ourselves against the van’s interior walls. When the road was no longer passable for vehicles, we…

Jane Jackson
7 min Read
There Is Only Send or Fail. Just Ask Alex Megos.

He’s on a mission to be the best climber in the world.

Alex Lowther
18 min Read
Adventure Over Adversity

Paradox Sports Brings Accessibility to Climbing

Kitty Calhoun
6 min Read
Finding Refuge in Iran’s Climbing Culture

Fog from the distant Caspian Sea swirled around us as we left the road, crossed a narrow mountain stream on a rickety footbridge of wornwooden planks, passed a pungent corral full of dank, scruffy sheep, and started the steep climb to Alam Kuh base camp in the Alborz mountain range of Iran. Brittany Griffith, Kate…

Beth Wald
6 min Read
Robbie Phillips on Establishing a Maybe-Impossible Route in Cochamó Valley

On establishing a route in Cochamó Valley that might be too hard—but might not. It often blows me away, the apparent randomness that sets the paths leading us through life. Just over a year ago, a friend of mine met Crispin Waddie while working on an oil rig in the North Sea. A member of…

Robbie Phillips
7 min Read
The Complicated Gift of Inclement Weather

Weather has a way of complicating—and enriching—everything. By the time I top out, it’s snowing and it’s dark. I walk back as far as the rope will let me, and in the flattest spot I can find, I dig a hole and sit, bracing myself. I yell, “Rope-fixed!” repeatedly, but my partners can’t hear me…

Rolando Garibotti
5 min Read
Returning to India’s Mount Nilkantha After a Past Retreat

After a failed first attempt, three friends return to India’s Mount Nilkantha to confront—and embrace—the terrible, beautiful duality of a life in the mountains. It was our third day on the southwest face of Mount Nilkantha, what we’d thought would be our summit day, and it was my lead block. I wove through steep rock…

Anne Gilbert Chase
5 min Read
Quinn Brett on Her Life-Changing Accident and Her Passion for Wilderness

A climber describes her passion for the wildness of the world. My brother’s cheeks smooshed against the blue velour seat and his mouth hung slightly ajar. His gangly legs stretched from door to door, covering the back bench of our family Buick. On the floor, parallel, I fidgeted over the hump dividing passenger and driver…

Quinn Brett
6 min Read
Remembering Tom Frost

Patagonia mourns the loss of Tom Frost, Yvon Chouinard’s former climbing and business partner, who passed away Friday morning. Tom, with Yvon, Chuck Pratt and Royal Robbins, made the first ascent of the North America Wall of El Capitan in 1964. He made other notable first ascents with Valley pioneers and others in Yosemite, the…

Patagonia
3 min Read
The Only Constant Is Change: Sonnie Trotter Reflects on His Life So Far

I’m sitting on a sunny bench in some random park in central Oregon holding my eight-month-old daughter in my arms and watching my four-year-old son launch himself down a slide. We’ve been on the road as a family for nearly a month now, and the daily hunt for a decent playground is often as essential…

Sonnie Trotter
5 min Read
Climbing Zodiac on El Capitan with My 13-Year-Old Daughter

May 14, 2017, Mother’s Day. Dear friends, yesterday I topped out on the Zodiac on El Capitan. Some of you have loyally and patiently supported me for almost six months while I prepared for and fretted about this adventure. Some of you have no idea what the Zodiac is. No matter. Thanks for being part…

Eliza Kerr
4 min Read
Alex Megos Sends Perfecto Mundo

Yesterday, Alex Megos sent one of the most difficult routes in the world, completing the first ascent of Perfecto Mundo (5.15c or 9b+) at the limestone crag of Margalef in Catalunya, Spain. He called it the first hard route of his life. It marked not an apex, but rather a beginning. Which raises a wild…

Patagonia
4 min Read
Into the Whiteout: Climbing with Simon Richardson in Scotland

It had been a while. I don’t climb in weather like this. I stay inside and drink coffee. But I dutifully marched through the whiteout, following Simon as he navigated by compass toward the highland plateau of Cairn Gorm. He was searching for a particular block of rock, from which we would rappel into nowhere…

Kelly Cordes
7 min Read
Sometimes More Than a Game: On Climbing Responsibly

When I think about climbing, I don’t think about summits. I see serrated ridgelines rising and falling between earth and sky, and sunlight slipping between spires, casting the shadows of giants onto rubble-strewn rivers of ice below, curving, moving, bending with the passage of time. I remember my partners and I, roped together with no…

Kelly Cordes
2 min Read
Unstuck in Baffin Island’s Stewart Valley

Pain pulses in my right foot to the rhythm of my heartbeats. I know something’s wrong, but the only option is to ignore it. The swelling presses against my shoe, but I’m afraid if I take it off, I’ll never get it back on. Still, I feel like I can’t complain. My foot is still…

Nico Favresse
4 min Read
How I Came to Actually Kind of Like Bouldering

As a younger climber I was totally committed to big long routes, often in the mountains and often involving a lot of suffering. The beauty of each place is what got me there, and the partnerships kept me there. I wanted to be in those big landscapes, sleeping on the wall, scoured by the wind,…

Kate Rutherford
5 min Read
Excerpt from Allen Steck’s “A Mountaineer’s Life” on the First Ascent of Hummingbird Ridge

In honor of the release of A Mountaineer’s Life by Allen Steck, Patagonia Books is pleased to share this excerpt from chapter eight.  Camp II was a desperate and fearful place. We spent seven days there in severe weather. We could not leave the tents without going onto the fixed lines; the weakened cornice behind us…

Allen Steck
6 min Read
Remembering Hayden Kennedy and Inge Perkins

We are so sad to learn of the deaths of Hayden Kennedy and Inge Perkins. Malinda and I knew Hayden all his years. His parents, Michael and Julie Kennedy, are good friends who passed on to their son their love of climbing and skiing, and their ethics. The family also shared, in the presence of…

Yvon Chouinard
1 min Read
The Memory Lessons: Luca Krajnc’s First Free Ascent of Spomin

When I was ten years old, I was a hyperactive kid who had problems staying focused for a long period of time. One day I was sitting in class at primary school, listening to a subject that didn’t really interest me. Bored, I started playing with the scissors that I found in my school bag.…

Luka Krajnc
7 min Read
Listen to “081” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

“Picture walking through a parking lot with a ski mask rolled up on your head and a pistol in your pocket. You’re getting closer to the bank, your heart’s beating faster, adrenaline’s starting to rush through your head, and you can’t believe you’re about to do what you’re about to do,” says Roland Thompson. “When…

The Dirtbag Diaries
2 min Read
Majka Burhardt on Being Asked about Mothering and Climbing

Dear Kaz and Irenna, Today you are 10-months old. This week, the last of winter’s snow left our garden, and the final crocus patch bloomed and closed just in time to escape your attempts to eat its purple petals. I spent our first winter together pulling you behind me in a tandem sled that gave…

Majka Burhardt
4 min Read
Finding Peace, Just Like Rob Kauk, on an Iconic Climb

A sea of a thousand rocky thumbs. Which one do you take? Balancing trustingly on ten millimeters of rocky protrusion, your index finger wraps around the top of a feldspar knob. Don’t breathe too deeply or it might push you off. You have it, but you feel your balance waver. For a millisecond you’re falling…

Robbie Phillips
5 min Read
Colin Haley Recaps His Begguya North Buttress Solo

I’ve just returned to Seattle from a trip to the Central Alaska Range, which was shorter than most with only two weeks of camping at Kahiltna Base Camp, but more successful than some Alaska Range trips I’ve done that were three times the length. In May 2012, I attempted to solo Begguya—the third-highest peak in…

Colin Haley
16 min Read
The Uncertain Future of Indian Creek

As I write these words, the future of this place we humans now call Indian Creek is up in the balance. In December of 2016, President Obama designated Bears Ears—in which Indian Creek is located—a national monument under the Antiquities Act. But lawmakers are pushing to rescind this designation in favor of privatization and development.…

Luke Mehall
4 min Read
Steve House Remembers Ueli Steck

Like the rest of the world’s climbing community, we at Patagonia are deeply saddened by the death of renowned Swiss climber and mountaineer Ueli Steck on April 30, 2017, in Nepal. Below, alpinist Steve House remembers his friend. “There are dreams that are worth a certain amount of risk.”—Ueli Steck Ueli was, and always will be,…

Steve House
7 min Read
Alex Megos’s First Ascent of Fight Club (5.15b)

“It can’t be a route if there aren’t any holds, Sonnie,” Alex called from the ground. I could see him down there, sitting back in his harness comfortably, looking up at me, grinning. I was roughly 60 feet in the air, on the opposite end of the 9mm rope he was holding, and searching for…

Sonnie Trotter
5 min Read
Remembering Royal Robbins

Everyone in the Patagonia family is saddened to hear about the passing of Royal Robbins on March 14, 2017. Some in the company knew him personally, many of us did not. But we are, to this day, greatly inspired by his pioneering spirit and commitment to clean climbing. In honor of his friend, Patagonia founder…

Yvon Chouinard
3 min Read
The Intangible Rewards of Climbing

Wind pushed a wave of fine snow off the top of the wall, coating the already frosted rock in another slippery layer of spindrift. I put my head down to let it pass, looking at my fingers covered in blood and snow, and wedged into icy finger locks. Objectively, I knew they were still there,…

Josh Wharton
7 min Read
The Real Alps: The Valley of the Haute-Durance Is In Danger

I was lucky to grow up in the valley of the Haute-Durance, located in the Hautes-Alpes not far from Briançon and the border to Italy. Home was a wild and protected area where my parents introduced me to the joys of mountain trails, skiing on beautiful slopes through evergreens and climbing on pristine cliffs. Later…

Stéphanie Bodet
5 min Read
Who’s Nick? A Scottish Winter Climbing Rule

I took a hex off the rack and pushed it far into the crack. The rime was thick, and the crack’s edges blurry. The hex mushed into the rime and stuck. I beat on it with my ice axe just to be sure, then gave it a swift tug. It ripped straight out. Technical winter…

Josh Wharton
4 min Read
Returning to Trad Climb Classic Sport Routes in Scotland

One of my earliest outdoor climbing experiences was at the crags around the quaint countryside village of Dunkeld. An escarpment of Schist can be seen escaping from the deep forest high on the hill just beyond the village. It was here that I would spend many a day for ten years. The climbing here is unique.…

Robbie Phillips
5 min Read
The Storm: Learning to Retreat on Mount Nilkantha

As I swung my tools into the unconsolidated snowy headwall and tried to catch something that would hold my weight, I looked down and saw Jason and Caro huddled together at a hanging belay. In the gathering dark, they were trying to avoid the constant barrage of snow and ice I was creating. We’d been…

Anne Gilbert Chase
4 min Read
The Magic of Yosemite National Park

The national park system may not have saved my life but it definitely allowed me to truly discover and continually define it. Following an abysmal 13th grade at an entry level university and an equally lamentable year employed in one of the most dangerous professions, I bolted west to manifest my destiny. After a summer…

Timmy O’Neill
5 min Read
Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey

A portrait of the man who made more first ascents than any other North American climber, wrote beautiful and meticulous mountain guides of the wild areas he loved, and defined the “dirtbag” archetype in a way that no one else ever has or could.

Dave O’Leske
4 min Read
Power of the Possible: Climbing with Polio in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison

My work with adaptive athletes began when my brother Sean was injured almost 25 years ago. He’s paralyzed from the waist down and lives life from a wheelchair where he more than rolls with it, he thrives. Ever since we topped out on El Capitan for the first time in 2005—that’s 3,000 feet of vertical…

Timmy O’Neill
7 min Read
Sonnie Trotter on Climbing the Totem Pole in Tasmania

“Great climb, eh?” said a voice from up and over my right shoulder. “Yeah,” I replied, while clipping the anchor on After Midnight one of Mount Wellington’s most prized pitches and no giveaway at 24 (or 5.11d in Yosemite terms), “incredible, actually.” “Where you from?” the voice asked. “Canada!” I said. I looked up to…

Sonnie Trotter
8 min Read
Excerpt from “American Climber” by Luke Mehall

After El Capitan, my desire for wall climbing diminished. Perhaps it was growing older, or perhaps it was just my surroundings. The Black Canyon was no longer an hour away. Yosemite was no longer in my waking dreams every day. Durango was so close to the desert, and thus the desert became all that mattered…

Luke Mehall
7 min Read
Colin Haley on Chaltén 2015-2016

My previous Patagonia climbing season, climbing last year mostly with Marc-André Leclerc and Alex Honnold, had been my most successful yet. Among a bunch of other activity was the first ascent of the Travesía del Oso Buda, the first repeat and direct variation to El Arca de los Vientos, and a nearly complete, one-day Torre…

Colin Haley
14 min Read
The Vida Patagonia: Our Ambassadors’ Stories

Rolo and a handful of stoked Patagonia ambassadors and friends will be sharing images and stories of their adventures throughout the Patagonia climbing season. Follow along at patagonia.com/vidapatagonia. If you’re planning to make a climbing trip to the area, tag your photos with #VidaPatagonia to appear on the page. The peaks of the Chaltén Massif…

Rolando Garibotti
7 min Read
A Chaotic Big-Wall Trip to Patagonia

The pig squeals and groans in protest as I wrestle it back onto my sweaty body. I groan even louder. Seventy pounds of ropes, cams, pins, beaks, portaledges, tents, food, fuel and everything else for a month-long big-wall expedition bulge from my haul bag, digging deep into my spine. I’ve already carried two of these…

Austin Siadak
5 min Read
In Memoriam: Kei Taniguchi and Kenshi Imai

It is with heavy hearts that we share news of the passing of two Patagonia climbing ambassadors, Kei Taniguchi and Kenshi Imai, in two separate incidents. Kei Taniguchi passed away on December 22 at Mount Kurodake in Hokkaido, Japan. Our deepest condolences and best wishes go out to her family and friends. She was 43 years…

Patagonia Japan
2 min Read
Two in the Tsaranoro Valley: A report from the rock walls of Madagascar

Fire in the Belly What were we thinking? Was it arrogant of us to go straight up this blank-looking headwall? The chances that this line would go free were pretty slim. Was it the aesthetics of the blankness and steepness that had attracted us? Why didn’t we choose to follow more obvious features that were…

Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll
10 min Read
Kitty Calhoun’s Trip Continues

As my friends and I get older, the threat of slipping into a normal lifestyle becomes more real. I have to mow the lawn, get the oil and filter changed in the car, go to the dentist. These days, given a choice, I would rather do a few sport pitches and get a good workout…

Kitty Calhoun
6 min Read
Merging Climbing, Science, and Conservation in Mozambique

Exactly one month ago I tightened the last bolt in the last hold on the first-ever climbing boulder in Mozambique—and then climbed on it with over 1,000 Mozambican school children. Tonight, over dinner in Central Mozambique, I made a promise to climb a 12-pitch run-out granite slab with a Mozambican farmer named Elias who’s never…

Majka Burhardt
6 min Read
Colin Haley on the Earthquake in the Langtang Valley

I got on a plane in Vancouver around midday on April 16. I was exhausted. After a four-month season in Patagonia, my six weeks back in North America turned out much less restful than I had imagined. Conditions had been excellent, and I couldn’t keep myself from going out in the mountains a bunch. The…

Colin Haley
29 min Read
Whiskey on the Rocks: Being an Alpine Guinea Pig in Scotland

“It starts as rain or snow falling on Scotland’s highest mountain—Ben Nevis. Either as rain or melting snow it percolates the thin layer of peat soil until it reaches the granite rock and unable to penetrate it, runs under the surface until emerging in Coire Leish or Coire na Ciste. The outflows from these two…

Kristo Torgersen
6 min Read
Colin Haley and Dylan Johnson Complete First Ascent of Slesse’s Heart of Darkness

Things have changed. That old “live simply” ethos Jenna and I lived by, roaming around the desert and mountains in our ’83 Dodge Prospector van (with a sci-fi mural on the hood and velvet interior), feels a bit like a past life. Climbing these days is tightly packed between a life of airports, computers, conference…

Dylan Johnson
7 min Read
Announcing the 2015 Copp-Dash Inspire Award Recipients

The Copp-Dash Inspire Award, sponsored by Black Diamond Equipment, La Sportiva, Mountain Hardwear and Patagonia (with additional in-kind support from Adventure Film Festival, the American Alpine Club, Jonny Copp Foundation and Sender Films), announced the 2015 winners of the climbing grant established in memory of American climbers Jonny Copp and Micah Dash who were killed…

2 min Read
Alex Megos Makes the Third Ascent of Lucid Dreaming (V15) [Updated with video]

Patagonia climber Alexander Megos made the third ascent of Lucid Dreaming (V15) this week on the Grandpa Peabody boulder in the Buttermilks. It was a double-milestone effort for the German phenom. “Feels like a DREAM but it’s not. Finally took down my hardest boulder ever and as well my longest project ever!” Alex said on…

Patagonia
4 min Read
Watch Tommy Caldwell Climb Pitch 15 (5.14c) on The Dawn Wall

On January 14, 2015, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson made the first free ascent of The Dawn Wall on Yosemite’s El Capitan. Today we’re happy to share this exclusive video of Tommy climbing pitch 15, rated 5.14c—the first footage released by the film crew on the wall. “The crux holds of pitch 15 are some…

Patagonia
1 min Read
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