Video Spotlight
First Repeat of Jeff Lowe's Metanoia on the Eiger North Face
First Repeat of Jeff Lowe's Metanoia on the Eiger North Face

TNB: Jail Food and Booty


  In 1979 my E.B.s were so blown my tube socks hung out the holes in the toes. I was desperate for new rock shoes, yet broke. They say that inspiration strikes at the worst of times. Inspired, I wore the right shoe on my left foot and my left shoe on my right foot. Brand new crisp edges! Those E.B.s hurt, but they hurt before I switched feet.

I needed nuts and carabiners, too. Whenever I heard about booty being left on a route, I’d take nearly any risk, including free soloing, to snag the treasure. My climbing buddy, Rick Thomas, and I were so underfunded that for two weeks we ate nothing but potatoes, their slender green sprouts hinting at better days. We fried spuds for breakfast, had leftover spuds for lunch, and roasted spuds whole in the campfire during the long autumn evenings when our philosophical musings ranged from the uselessness of formal education to how you wouldn't get no potatoes cooked over a wood fire if you were in jail.

Our belay device was a single chain link scored at the hardware store for a nickel. Our heartthrob, a 150-foot 11mm rope, we pampered more than any girlfriend.

The only thing that was free back then was the climbing, and this we had in abundance simply by being the only two climbers within a hundred miles of a mile-long granite canvas. Naturally, if someone had offered us a free rope or shoes or cams or even a block of chalk we would have questioned their values—who gives away their holy relics?

Rock and Ice, that’s who. For nearly a month starting last week, this magazine is giving away an item of climbing gear—ropes, shoes, tents, helmets, cams and more—every weekday. Since technically we can’t hold a sweepstakes, you do have to do a little work for a chance at the gear by answering a mind-bender like: “How many cams are on a TCU?”

We’re doing this to a) show our appreciation to everyone who continues to support us and b) to show off our new online Gear Guide. We used to print an annual Gear Guide, but a few years back we noticed that consumers look for hard data such as weights and dimensions and sizes online, and so we began the task of putting that data in a digital format that anyone with internet access can get to at any time, for free.

The Gear Guide is built now—additions including reviews and video will roll out in a bit—and we’d like for you to check it out and win the gear that is piling up in big boxes around the office.

To do so, just go here. Enter, answer the question, and wait. Each day’s winner will be announced on the next day.

Rick and I would have been all over that.

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