• TNB: Climbing's Big Mistake
  • TNB: Trad Dads and Dad Bods
  • TNB: Do the Right Thing
  • TNB: Big Wall Soloing Sustenance – Cookies vs. Bugs
  • TNB: When Your Rope Falls Off—and 5 Ways to Prevent the Nightmare
  • TNB: Before I Die - What Would Climbers Think?
  • TNB: Raphael Slawinski - Firsthand Account of Everest Earthquake
  • TNB: Point Break - Sharma, Andrada on the Big Screen
  • TNB: Muscle Shoals - Rock and Soul
  • TNB: Naked Soloist is Saner Than Me
  • TNB: The Hard Climb to Heaven
  • TNB: Summer Camp
  • TNB: Suicide in Our Sights
  • TNB: Ethan Pringle's 10 Tips for Sending Your Project
  • TNB: Hawaii Rocks - Totally Aloha
  • TNB: PointGate - Why Comp Climbing Is Not The Future
  • TNB: My First Epic
  • TNB: Eight Ways to Avoid Braking Bad - The Art of the Soft Catch
  • TNB: #Dawnwall and The Creation of Alex Honnlove
  • TNB: Vision Quest - Benji Fink and Mexico’s Steepest Big Wall
  • TNB: The New Dawn (Wall) of Climbing
  • TNB: The Top 5 Weekend Whippers of 2014 (Plus the Comments)
  • TNB: 10 Tips for Jolene Kay, Professional Climber (and Hot Actress)
  • TNB: The Story Behind the Craziest of Rescues
  • TNB: The Risk of Climbing
  • TNB: How to Get Stronger by Doing Nothing for 5 Minutes a Day
  • TNB: Eight Ways to Improve Your Footwork
  • TNB: In Praise of the Weekend Warrior
  • TNB: Joe Kinder Visits the World's Hardest Cave
  • TNB: Celebrating Insomnia in Chamonix
  • TNB: Run, Rabbit - Hermann Gollner, 71, Cranks Pump-O-Rama (5.13a)
  • TNB: Five Best Photos of 2014
  • TNB: Clip Like A Pro - 5 Tips from Sasha DiGiulian and Sean McColl
  • TNB: Five Things Every Gym Climber Must Know About Climbing Outside
  • TNB: Still Jeff Lowe
  • TNB: Moving Over Stone With Doug Robinson
  • TNB: Wheels Up—The Top 5 Climbing Rigs
  • TNB: Is K2 The New Everest?
  • TNB: Things—Besides Us, That Is—That Fall
  • TNB: When Homemade Gear Works, Sorta
  • TNB: The Outsiders
  • TNB: R.I.P. Homero Gutierrez Villarreal - The Padrino of El Potrero
  • TNB: A Short Talk with Sierra Blair-Coyle
  • TNB: Ian Dory, Ninja, or The Craziest Thing I Ever Seen
  • TNB: The Best Crag Dogs of All Time
  • TNB: 5 Ways to Make People Love Your Routes
  • TNB: Hudon and Jones, and Don't Forget It!
  • TNB: Climbing's Tribal Rites
  • TNB: Sasha DiGiulian and Alex Johnson On How to Be a Modern Pro
  • TNB: Is Dean Potter A Bad Father?
  • TNB: Silly Places We’ve Slept - Tales of Unplanned Bivies
  • TNB: Forgotten Hero - Frank Sacherer 1940-1978
  • TNB: The World-Class Weekend Warrior – Martin Keller Climbs V15
  • TNB: Everest Sherpas No Longer Willing to “Grin and Bear It”
  • TNB: Hardheaded Helmet Lesson Learned
  • TNB: Six Most Awesome Jobs for Climbers
  • TNB: The Coolest Climbing Deal Breaker
  • TNB: Sharma and Glowacz Send World’s Steepest Rock Climb
  • TNB: An Encounter with a Legend - Patrick Edlinger, Plus A Whipper Vid
  • TNB: Six Things Every Climber Should Do Before They Die
  • TNB: Falling from the Top
  • TNB: Weekend Whipper
  • TNB: Band of Crushers
  • TNB: Charlie Porter, We Hardly Knew You
  • TNB: Climbing's Greatest Route Names
  • TNB: Hot Women Die and Have Sex on Everest
  • TNB: The Great Tragedy at Carderock
  • TNB: Thoughts On Death, and Last Words
  • TNB: Climbing's Next Big Story
  • TNB: Next Level? Honnold Pushes the Game on El Sendero Luminoso
  • TNB: Jeff Lowe Invented the Sport
  • TNB: The Most Popular Weekend Whippers of the Year
  • TNB: If Ondra Isn't The Best Climber In The World, Who Is?
  • TNB: Storm Years or Typhoon? The Biggest Issue in Climbing
  • TNB: Jim Bridwell Speaks
  • TNB: Honnold's Biggest Solo
  • TNB: Death on Forbidden Peak - Was the NPS Complicit?
  • TNB: Ice Climbing Goes to Sochi Olympics
  • TNB: When Gear Attacks
  • TNB: 8a.nu: The Best Climber in the World is the One with the Most Points
  • TNB: Shutdown: Illegal Climbers in Yosemite—Ninjas or Criminals?
  • TNB: Who is the Best Climber in the World?
  • TNB: The New Courage in a Rucksack
  • TNB: Unsolved Mystery - The Ten Sleep Shooting
  • TNB: The Pad Problem - Honnold, Kehl on Headpoints and Highballs
  • TNB: Travels with Delaney Miller - National Champ Turns to Rock
  • TNB: Jail Food and Booty
  • TNB: Love on the Road
  • TNB: Is Pakistan Safe for Climbers?
  • TNB: Flash Floods, Climbers and How to Get Out of the Way
  • TNB: Climbing's Next Level
  • TNB: Best in Show - Brand New Gear from the Outdoor Retailer Show
  • TNB: Adam Ondra Ties the Knot
  • TNB: Under Pressure - Trotter and Honnold On How Bets Can Help You Send
  • TNB: The Tragedy of Tito Traversa
  • TNB: DR's Crazy Brain Puzzle. Get It Correct or Else.
  • TNB: What Happened To Climbing Films?
  • TNB: Cry of the Colorado Fussy Snivel
  • TNB: Mystery Solved!
  • TNB: The Mystery of Moses Tower - Help Answer a 25-Year-Old Question
  • TNB: No Such Luck
  • TNB: Erasing Midnight Lightning
  • TNB: Mayhem - Crawling, Balling & Brawling on the Evere$t Soap Opera
  • TNB: Watching the Boston Marathon
  • TNB: Chasing the Devil's Snort
  • TNB: Born-Again Gumby
  • TNB: Super Unknown - Austin Dark Horse Establishes 5.14d in Random Texas Cave
  • TNB: Fearless?
  • TNB: The Big Freaking Deal, Ain't Bouldering
  • TNB: Honnold's Achilles' Heel
  • TNB: He's Either Crazy or a Poet
  • TNB: The Fish Cheat and the Prince of Climbing
  • TNB: A Letter from Santa... I mean Sharma
  • TNB: Traveler's Advisory - El Potrero Chico, Mexico
  • TNB: A Year Ago - Athol
  • TNB: Gun Control
  • TNB: What's the Problem?
  • TNB: Derek Hersey's Magic Carpet
  • TNB: The Apprentices
  • TNB: The Jungle
  • TNB: Klem Loskot is Back Climbing V15 and 5.15
  • TNB: Eliminated
  • TNB: The Hurt Locker
  • TNB: The Perils of Sport Climbing
  • TNB: Baddest Climb of the Year
  • TNB: Crossfit Misfit
  • TNB: Eating People and the Real Seventh Summit
  • TNB: Bring It On, Bitch!
  • TNB: What Would Warren Harding Do?
  • TNB: The Curse Of The Bandit
  • TNB: Reality Pro
  • TNB: Chris Sharma and The Art of Jeep Maintenance
  • TNB: American Dirtbag
  • TNB: How Not To Climb 5.12
  • TNB: Project FAIL
  • TNB: The Backwards Future of Climbing
  • TNB: The Death of Progress
  • TNB: The Da Vinci CO
  • TNB: The Philosopher King
  • TNB: Spam Alert
  • TNB: Bad Genes - The Different Types of Gumbies
  • TNB: Mouth Wide Shut
  • TNB: Outside Reality
  • TNB: The Day I Saved Jésus
  • TNB: My Pad, Your Problem
  • TNB: House Rules
  • TNB: Five Things I Don't Hate About Climbing
  • TNB: Metro-Pointing
  • TNB: Beast in the East
  • TNB: Artificial Intelligence
  • TNB: To Boldly Go Sprad Climbing
  • TNB: Self-Destruction
  • TNB: Soul Sport
  • TNB: Nine Pitches
  • Video Spotlight
    Babsi Zangerl and Jacopo Larcher Send Zodiac (VI 5.13d) on El Cap
    Babsi Zangerl and Jacopo Larcher Send Zodiac (VI 5.13d) on El Cap
    Whipper of the Month
    Weekend Whipper: Chris Sharma's 100-foot Pont d’Arc Deep Water Solo
    Weekend Whipper: Chris Sharma's 100-foot Pont d’Arc Deep Water Solo

    TNB: Charlie Porter, We Hardly Knew You


    Charlie Porter.Charlie Porter, one of the most visionary climbers of the last 100 years (my assessment), died last week, age 63. His passing scarcely riffled the worldwide web pages. Some climbing sites didn’t post anything and those that did resorted to poaching a scanned copy of an old Rock and Ice interview and/or cut and pasted a few details from the woefully inadequate Wikipedia entry.

    This is troubling because it shows that there aren’t many climbers around today who have enough knowledge of Charlie Porter to write about him in an original way. Even the New York Times, which in 1985 published an article on Porter’s attempt, with Ned Gillette, to become the first to row from Cape Horn to Antarctica via the deadly Drake Passage, and in 2001 profiled him as a leading climatologist and archaeologist who routinely sailed his 49-foot boat alone, in the name of science, 1,000 miles down to the Cape Horn, ignored his passing (send them a note and perhaps they will work on something).

    Arguably—and I will argue if necessary—there is no climber active today who is as prolific, diverse, imaginative and as bold as Charlie Porter was in his heyday. Yes, there are climbers who do fairly well at one thing or another, soloing El Cap, beating up Grade VII walls, and putting up big ice and alpine routes, but no one has done them all at the stratospheric standard of Porter. And he did it back when communication from the freezer box places he visited was scarcely better than a message in a bottle.

    In the climbing world, Porter ranks with Royal Robbins, Layton Kor and Jim Bridwell for achievement and audacity. Some of you probably read the short obit I wrote last week and will notice that I repeat myself here, but since no one else is telling the story, I’ll go ahead and do it twice.

    Porter kicked things off in 1972 when he made the first ascent, solo, of Zodiac (VI A4/A5 5.9). In its day, Zodiac was so technically difficult, steep and continuous with hooking, RURPing, heading and when none of iron junk would fit, free climbing, anyone else would have needed a time machine just to comprehend the advancement. Consider that at that time the only routes on the entire southeast face of El Cap were the North America Wall (1964) and Wall of Early Morning Light (1970), epic routes that still give people night sweats, and you get a dim idea of what it was like for Porter to head up there by himself, and at a time when a homicidal maniac they called the Zodiac Killer was on the loose in the Bay Area, coincidentally murdering someone every time Porter went up on the wall, which is how the route got its name.

    Dispensing with Zodiac, Porter turned his talents to El Cap’s other fabulous and unclimbed stone, knocking off the Shield, Mescalito, Tangerine Trip and Exalibur, and shoot, I nearly forgot, the first solo and second ascent of Harding’s Wall of Early Morning Light on the Dawn Wall, which Porter dubbed New Dawn. To give you an idea of just how nails tough Porter was, he accidentally dropped his haul bag low on New Dawn, but instead of rapping off like any normal person, he pressed on, spending nine days and nights, sleeping wrapped up in slings and an Ensolite pad.

    After that, Porter probably figured that if he needed more suffering he’d have to go somewhere harsher, and promptly jumped on a 1,600-foot frozen waterfall in the Canadian Rockies. Up there with the late Bugs McKeith, Porter ticked off a real plum. Even today Polar Circus (WI 5-) is ranked as among Canada’s finest ice lines and even with fancy curved tools, clip-on crampons, ice screws, shell gear and information, the climb is a serious outing. 1975 was a different story. Ice tools then were little better than those pick axes that miners chop at the earth with, and it took Porter, McKeith, and the help of the Burgess Twins, eight days to overcome the monster.

    At this point, most people would have retired and opened a sports clothing company or gone off on a drunken bender forever, but what did Porter do? He headed even further north, up to Baffin Island where a gigantic 40-pitch wall on a peak named after the Viking’s version of heaven, Mount Asgard, awaited.

    The details behind his solo of Asgard are many and long and since you can read all there is to know in this rare interview with Porter, I’ll keep to the finer points. He made it after nine days and then had to walk out 10 days without food, cutting his boots into sandals so his frozen and swollen feet would fit and he could keep stepping forward toward civilization, where the only waiting nourishment was a bottle of Pepsi.

    It wouldn’t seem possible to up the ante, but Porter did just that in 1976 by sprinting, solo, in 36 hours—up the Cassin Ridge on Denali, a feat that remains one of the greatest individual climbing achievements in North America. It’s worth noting at this point that Porter did all of this without a GoPro bolted to his forehead, he didn’t Tweet, he didn’t have “sponsored by” tattooed on his forehead and when the American Alpine Club asked him for details of his Cassin solo he basically kicked them in the crotch. “Porter has given us no details,” reported the AAJ.

    Porter’s self-imposed anonymity could explain why there are so few details about one of the greatest adventurers of the 20th century, and why if anyone knows anything, they think of him as “that guy who put up a few routes on El Cap,” then drifted off to South America to take the temperature of ice. Even his brother Barnaby Porter says that the family doesn't know much about his last years. "We know that he lived a hell of a life," says Barnaby, "but he lived in such farflung, remote places over the last 35 years that it is difficult to get a firm grasp on."

    Which is probably just the way Charlie Porter wanted it.

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