El Niño – Jacopo Larcher

El Niño – Jacopo Larcher

When you think about big wall climbing and huge granite walls, the first place that comes to mind is “Yosemite” National Park. It’s the place where everything began and it is the mecca for all those want to explore and practice the art of climbing. Since I started climbing, I’ve dreamed of visiting this place and this year it finally happened! After the successful #CommonGround expedition to Siberia in July, I finally felt ready and motivated to make my first visit to this iconic valley. Along with my girlfriend Barbara Zangerl we left Europe with the goal of climbing a route on El Capitan, a wall where decades of climbing history has been written. We spent our first week trying to escape the heat and the crowds of the valley, and doing some classic routes on some shorter walls, before focusing on our main goal of the trip, “El Niño” (5.13c, A0, 800m – 30 pitches). We carried our heavy haul bags to the start of the route and we tried the first 5 pitches. The rain from the previous days had washed away all traces of chalk from previous attempts so it took some time to figure out the best moves. The heat also made it a bit difficult to pull on the sharp crimps and to stand on the tiny footholds. It soon became clear that we would need to have an early start the next morning so we could get as much climbing done before the sun would hit the wall. Once we were convinced we could send this part, we were ready to give the...
Madagascar – Ground-up experience

Madagascar – Ground-up experience

This summer became one full of first ascents for team climber Siebe Vanhee. After the successful Common-Ground expedition in the remote tundra of Siberia, Siebe joined forces with fellow climber Seán Villanueva O’Driscoll. They took off for an adventure in the Tsaranoro massif in the south of the African island Madagascar on a mission to attempt an unclimbed face. On their first hike to the Tsaranoro Atsimo they spotted a smooth, green, yellowish wall followed by a perfect headwall right next to “Mora Mora” (a line first free climbed by Adam Ondra in 2010 at 8c). This was it, the unclimbed line they were after. Armed with a drill, skyhooks and a thirst for exploration, the duo tackled the face bolting ground up. Steadily they moved their way up the dark granite climbing on positive crimps in the grading range 6th to 7th. Crimping hard, making big falls, trying to figure out methods and searching for features to continue bolting, they managed to advance up to three fourths of the pitch. The headwall was next and proved to be the biggest challenge, the climbing was vertical with small rounded crimps and crystals. After almost a whole day they managed to conquer this obviously harder section. They took to their portaledge for the night and the next day they finished the last pitch at a surprisingly quick tempo. After six days of determination and doubts, the first ascent of the route was done, they had reached their goal and established a new climb, a tough one. Still up for a challenge and convinced that the route should “be left for...
#Evolve

#Evolve

A film about moving from competition climbing to exploring the world beyond #Evolve is the first autobiographical short film featuring Italian climber Jacopo Larcher. The short film follows Larcher through his climbing career, starting from competition climbing in gyms to leaving its boundaries and exploring the world beyond. Find the short film here or continue reading the summary below: Larcher stepped into his first pair of climbing shoes when he was 11 at a local gym’s youth climbing course.

The Kalymnos Climbing Festival: Legends in Lycra

The Kalymnos Climbing Festival: Legends in Lycra

From October 9-12, the Greek island paradise of Kalymnos played host to the 2014 The North Face Kalymnos Climbing Festival. Thousands were on hand to take part in the event, participating in climbing competitions and celebrating legends of the sport. The North Face climber Matt Segal traveled to Kalymnos for the four-day festival, and came away with a reminder of how rich his sport’s history is.

Day 4 – Deep Water Soloing

Day 4 – Deep Water Soloing

This year’s Kalymnos Climbing Festival introduced a new format to the event, Deep Water Soloing on the island. On Sunday morning, around 30 climbers, including the 6 legends and The North Face athletes such as Iker and Eneko Pou, headed off on boats to the Deep Water Solo spot. Supported and cheered on by the others, the climbers gave the routes a go whilst the sun beat down on them. The water was deliciously blue as the photos show, adding to the fun of falling into the sea whilst climbing. Photo credit: Eddie Gianelloni, Matteo Mocellin and Damiano...
Day 3 – The Day of the Legends

Day 3 – The Day of the Legends

In a typically Kalymnian way, the climbers were blessed with splendid sunshine, a nice breeze and, of course, an incredible panorama. For the first time ever, 6 legendary climbers of the 80s and 90s worked together to climb 15 new routes ranging from 7a to 8b+. By the end of the day, Japan’s Yuji Hirayama, Austria’s Gerhard Hörhager, Spain’s Patxi Arocena, Great Britain’s Ben Moon, USA’s Boone Speed and France’s Jean-Baptiste Tribout accomplished 9 of the 15 routes under the gaze of climbers from all over the world.

7 things you didn’t know about Kalymnos (including facts about goat raiders, dynamites and pirate treasure)

7 things you didn’t know about Kalymnos (including facts about goat raiders, dynamites and pirate treasure)

When Simone Moro and Manolo were one of the first ones to climb on the island in the late 90s, the locals thought they were looking for pirate treasure up in the mountains, as climbing was such a foreign concept to them. The climbers tend to have to share their meals with the local goats as they are prone to raiding their rucksacks during the climbs. This year’s Kalymnos Climbing Festival is the first time the 6 legends of climbing Ben Moon, Jean-Baptiste Tribout, Yuji Hirayama, Boone Speed, Gerhard Hörhager and Patxi Arocena will climb together.

Day 1 – A Snapshot of the Event

Day 1 – A Snapshot of the Event

In the past few days, climbers have been streaming on to the island in preparation for the third edition of the Kalymnos Climbing Festival that kicked off today. An expected 2500 climbers of all ranges will be participating in the competitions, the events and the parties that are held on this Greek climbing paradise and so far the buzzing vibes have been elated, to say the least. This morning the hills and the rock faces were dotted with colourful bodies as the first day kicked off. Building on the success of last year’s edition, registered climbers will participate in the two competitions (about 600 – 700 climbers), the Open and Big Marathon, on Friday and Saturday. Although they won’t be taking part in the competitive side of the festival, the rest of the 2500 attendees will be on the island to support the other climbers, do some climbing of their own and to spectate the various festival events. One of the most sought after moments will take place Saturday morning when 6 legendary climbers will be attempting to jointly climb 15 new routes from 7a to 8c on the island of Telendos. These climbing stars were truly the leaders of the sport in the 80s and 90s, and much of it’s development today is owed to them. It’s therefore understandable that much excitement is built up around when Japan’s Yuji Hirayama, Austria’s Gerhard Hörhager, Spain’s Patxi Arocena, Great Britain’s Ben Moon, USA’s Boone Speed and France’s Jean-Baptiste Tribout will be gathering in the Princess Canyon. They will also be sharing their stories and achievements from back in the day...
Climbing Legends – Iker & Eneko Pou talks about Patxi Arocena

Climbing Legends – Iker & Eneko Pou talks about Patxi Arocena

Patxi Arocena is a mythical climber and from Basque Country in Spain. Born in San Sebastian-Donosti in 1965, Patxi became one of the early pioneers of sport climbing in Spain and had huge influence on the growth of the sport here. He did the first 8a and 8a+ onsight routes, and the first 8c route in Spain, with “El Calvario”. For many years Patxi was an inspiration for the new generations of Spanish climbers, including us who looked upon Patxi as a role model. Patxi had a long career on the competition scene, many times he was a Spanish lead climbing champion and he set very high standards in international competitions. These days Patxi focuses a lot of his time on his family but also manages to squeeze in his other two passions: surfing and climbing. We’re looking forward to seeing Patxi at the Kalymnos Festival this...
Climbing Legends – Simone Moro Speaks About Maurizio ‘Manolo’ Zanolla

Climbing Legends – Simone Moro Speaks About Maurizio ‘Manolo’ Zanolla

You could say that Manolo is a climbing legend but I don’t think this is enough; he is much more than that. He is an icon in the sport climbing world. Through his climbing style and abilities during the 1980s Manolo achieved almost mythical status. He became known as ‘The Magician’ due to his ability to almost float up difficult slab climbs. At the age of 56 he shows no signs of stopping, still able to climb at the highest level and push the magical grade of 9a. In climbing history I think that Manolo really remains unique due the fact that most other top climbers are 30/35 years younger than him. Some of the things he used to do in the early days were unbelievable – climbing big walls, solo, in running shoes during ’70s and early ’80s. He did the first 8a, 8b and 8c in Italy and one of the first in the world to achieve such grades. In fact, some of his routes remain unrepeated to this day. He has always led a simple, very reserved and quiet life. He actively avoided competition, as this was not where he gained his satisfaction. He just tried to climb harder and harder routes whilst keeping the joy and the freedom to enjoy his pure style of life. He is a true example of longevity in sport and in motivation. For sure a rare example of consistency and pureness in sport...
Climbing Legends – James Pearson on Boone Speed

Climbing Legends – James Pearson on Boone Speed

For US climbers, and a lot of us over the other side of the pond, Boone Speed and his climbing needs little introduction. His first ascent of Super Tweak in Logan Canyon raised American sport climbing standards, and amongst other things set a 14 year old kid called Chris on his journey to becoming “Sharma” Despite still climbing at a high level, Boone’s recent focus has shifted more towards photography and video, and it was in his role as expedition photographer that I first met him in 2010. We spent many long nights in Turkey, talking about the important things in life. The pasts, presents, and futures. Sex, drugs, and Rock’n’roll, and in those short 2 weeks I felt lucky to learn a little more about the real Boone, the person inside. For me, it’s that part of someone that speaks loudest, and the little gestures and actions that make the greatest impression. One day in Turkey, I got stranded on my own in the closest big city (better not to ask), Night was falling, I had no idea how to get home, and for want of a better solution just started walking. 2 hours later, I finally gave up what little of my pride remained and called to my friends up at our camp. When I finally got through, I could hear a big party in the back ground, and it was difficult to talk over the noise. It was clear everyone was in full-flow and I was less than hopeful about my chance of rescue, but after being passed around the group a few times I finally...
Caroline Civaldini – Meeting my hero (Yuji Hirayama) at 15

Caroline Civaldini – Meeting my hero (Yuji Hirayama) at 15

I grew up on a small Island that was part of France, even if it was in the southern hemisphere. Even there, climbing was a school sport, and even there, we received the climbing magazines : Rock & Wall and Grimper. From them, I got to read about the climbing stars, competition climbers such as François Legrand, Liv Sansoz and Yuji Hirayama… When I was 15, I was invited to watch a world cup event that was happening in Nantes, France. I took a 12 hour flight and had a little camera to record everything I would see. I remember the lights, the sound, the speaker, and all the spectators silently watching, the gigantic hall completely dark with just one spotlight focusing on the climber. It came down to Alex Chabot and Yuji Hirayama in this superb final, Alex climbed well, but Yuji and his cat like climbing, went way higher. Yuji won, in front of a huge crowd, and I can still remember the atmosphere. I felt like it was me winning. I flew back to my island the day after and I remember taking my notebook on the plane… I had 12 hours to think. I wrote down: “I’ve made my decision: I will be a comp climber. I will be part of that shining word.” I left the island aged 16 and started to train hard… To say that Yuji was my personal hero from that day on is obvious. But then I got to meet him, climb a lot with him. You know the sentence “Never meet your hero“. Well I did meet mine, and...