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  • Q&A: Joe Kinder on Fat Camp (5.14d), Rifle and Route Development
  • Alex Megos Puts Up Clash of the Titans (9a+/5.15a) in Austria
  • Pirmin Bertle Establishes South America’s Third 9a - Ruta de Cobre
  • Quinn Brett Makes Rare Free Ascent of Spaceshot in Zion
  • Alex Megos Repeats Companion of Change (5.15a) In Three Days
  • Coxsey and Chon Victorious at 2017 Vail World Cup
  • LIVE STREAM: IFSC Bouldering World Cup, Vail, Colorado - FINALS
  • LIVE STREAM: IFSC Bouldering World Cup, Vail, Colorado - SEMIFINALS
  • VIDEO: First Teaser of Alex Honnold’s El Cap Free Solo
  • Top Climbers At World Cup in Vail, Colorado This Weekend
  • Alex Honnold, Freerider and What It All Means for Climbing
  • Alex Honnold – El Cap Free Solo Interview
  • Big Deal – Alex Honnold Free Solos El Cap
  • Steve McClure, 46, Establishes the U.K.'s First 5.15b, Rainman
  • Jon Cardwell, Sasha DiGiulian and Marcus Garcia Free Yosemite’s Misty Wall
  • Editor's Note: Rock and Ice 243 (July 2017) - Trundling Along
  • European Climbing Trips With Rockbusters: Learn With the Pros
  • Christof Rauch Puts Up Three V15s In Two Weeks
  • Marek Raganowicz Solos Two New Routes on Baffin Island
  • VIDEO: Piedra Blanca - Charlotte Durif Explores Puerto Rico
  • Alex Megos Onsights Second 5.14d!
  • Kai Lightner and Brooke Raboutou Win 2017 Dominion Riverrock
  • The Hillary Step: Gone, Altered, or Simply Hidden?
  • The Push: Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold on the Fitz Traverse
  • VIDEO: Above the Fray - Beth Rodden on Climbing, Kidnap and Motherhood
  • Seventh Time’s the Charm? Kuriki Poised for Everest Summit
  • The New Adaptive Foot: A Step Forward For Adaptive Climbing
  • Hong and Cardwell Establish Stocking Stuffer (5.14d) in Rifle
  • Four Medals for Japan and Gold for Rubtsov and Garnbret in Tokyo
  • Interview: Alex Honnold and the Kenya Expedition
  • American Climbers Crank in Spain This Season
  • Q&A: Jon Cardwell Sends Papichulo (5.15a) in Spain
  • Stefano Ghisolfi Makes First Ascent of One Punch (9a+/5.15a), Italy
  • Coxsey and Watabe Take Gold at 2017 Nanjing World Cup
  • Yoga for Climbers - Video Series
  • Ueli Steck Killed on Nuptse
  • Ethan Pringle Makes FA of Everything Is Karate (5.14+) in Bishop
  • Jonathan Siegrist Interview - Three 5.15s in Three Weeks
  • VIDEO: Jonathan Siegrist and the Art of Projecting - Pachamama (5.15a)
  • Jonathan Siegrist Sends Three 5.15's in Three Weeks
  • Tuck Fest Hosts First Comp on NC's Permanent Deep Water Solo Wall
  • EVENT: Leif Whittaker Comes to Carbondale, Colorado
  • Top Podium Spots for Garnbret and Chon at Chongqing World Cup
  • Adam Ondra Destroys Italy’s Hardest Climbs
  • Klemen Bečan Jumps Aboard the La Rambla Send Train
  • 2017 Piolets d'Or Awarded to British and Russian Teams
  • Jimmy Webb and Dave Graham Send Ill Thrill (8B+/V14) in Magic Wood
  • Trango Recalls New Vergo Belay Device
  • Alizée Dufraisse Sends Estado Critico (5.14d), Siurana, Spain
  • Outrage and Red Cards Mark the First IFSC World Cup of the Season
  • My Old Man and the Mountain, by Leif Whittaker (book excerpt)
  • Alexander Rohr Makes Third Ascent of Chromosome Y (9a/5.14d)
  • Alex Megos Establishes Chile’s First 5.14d, Pasito a Pasito
  • Wild Country Recalls Friends - Sizes 2, 3 and 4
  • Learn to Write with John Long
  • Taylor McNeill Repeats Webb's Engine Bloc (V14), Makes V14 First Ascent
  • Margo Hayes – La Rambla (5.15a) Interview
  • Golden Age Climbing Legend Royal Robbins Dies, Aged 82
  • Ashima Shiraishi, Kai Lightner Win 2017 Sport National Championship
  • Hueco Tanks Re-Opens The Five Bimbos to Bouldering
  • Access Fund Announces 2016 Sharp End Awards
  • Nathan Kutcher Establishes Alaska’s Hardest Mixed Line
  • Michaela Kiersch Sends Two 5.14c’s in One Weekend
  • Jeff Lowe Honored with Piolet d’Or Lifetime Achievement Award
  • VIDEO: Stefano Ghisolfi Sends Jungle Boogie (9a+/5.15a)
  • Nina Williams Completes Bishop Highball Trio with Ambrosia (V11)
  • Q&A: Matty Hong Sends La Rambla (5.15a) in Spain
  • Michaela Kiersch Sends "Savage" Twenty Four Karats (5.14c), RRG
  • Fifteen-Year-Old Laura Rogora Sends Joe-Cita (5.14d)
  • Margo Hayes Sends La Rambla (5.15a)!
  • Weekend Whipper: Adam Ondra Whips Off Neanderthal (5.15b)
  • After 20 Years of Waiting "Dreamline" (WI 6+) Comes True
  • Toru Nakajima Makes Fourth Ascent of Lucid Dreaming (V15)
  • Outdoor Gear Innovator Jack Stephenson Passes Away at 84
  • A Trip Across the Pond: Shauna and Leah Train U.S. Style
  • Events at Valdez Ice Festival Canceled Due to Unsafe Conditions
  • 2017 USA Bouldering Youth National Championships Results
  • TNB: Trad Dads and Dad Bods
  • Puccio, Coleman Take 2017 Bouldering Open National Championship
  • Stefano Ghisolfi Sends Sharma's First Round, First Minute (5.15b)
  • Seb Bouin Repeats Novena Enmienda (5.14d/5.15a) in Spain
  • Roland Pauligk, the Creator of the RP, Dies at Age 79
  • Hardest Female First Ascent Ever for 15-Year Old Laura Rogora?
  • 22nd Annual Ouray Ice Festival Delivers the Stuff
  • Chris Snobeck Sends Saphira (M15-), America’s Hardest Mixed Climb
  • Top 10 Climbing Videos of 2016
  • VIDEO: Jimmy Webb's Next Level Project And A Nasty Finger Injury
  • Jimmy Webb Repeats Kintsugi (V15), Makes V13 FA in Yosemite
  • Training For Climbing with Eric Hörst - Video Series
  • Alexey Dengin, WoonSeon Shin Start Ice World Cup Season with Golds
  • Life After Competition: Mélissa Le Nevé Climbs Her First 8B (V13)
  • Roadworthy - Our Top Travel Gear
  • Good-bye, Indian Creek – Excerpt from Luke Mehall’s Latest Book
  • 2017 Mugs Stump Award Recipients Announced
  • Jongwon Chon Continues Sending Streak with Second New V15
  • Anna Liina Laitinen Sends Southern Smoke (5.14c), RRG
  • Top 10 Weekend Whippers of 2016
  • Ice Climbing World Cup Comes to Durango, Colorado
  • Jongwon Chon Triumphs at La Sportiva Legends Only 2016
  • Jorg Verhoeven - Dihedral Wall Interview
  • El Cap’s Heart Route (5.13b V10) Sees Second Free Ascent
  • Adam Ondra – Dawn Wall Interview
  • Adam Ondra Sends the Dawn Wall!
  • Final Push – Day 6: Ondra Sends Crux Pitches, Reaches Wino Tower
  • Barbara Zangerl, Jacopo Larcher Free El Cap's Zodiac (VI 5.13d)
  • Final Push – Day 4: Adam Ondra Hits First Hurdle
  • Jorg Verhoeven Makes Second Free Ascent of Dihedral Wall (VI 5.14a)
  • Final Push – Day 2: Ondra Completes Pitches 10 Through 13 on Dawn Wall
  • Robbie Phillips Frees El Cap’s 30-Pitch Pre-Muir (5.13d)
  • Michaela Kiersch Sends Golden Ticket (5.14c), Red River Gorge
  • VIDEO: David Lama Attempts Southeast Ridge of Annapurna III
  • Final Push: Adam Ondra Blasts Up First Nine Pitches of the Dawn Wall
  • Wildfire Engulfs Popular East Coast Climbing Area
  • Ashima Shiraishi, Margo Hayes Dominate at 2016 Youth World Championships
  • Dawn Wall Update: Adam Ondra Prepares for Final Push
  • Climbers We Lost in 2016
  • Vandal Destroys Holds on Climbs in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
  • The Gunks' New Hardest Climb: Bro-Zone (5.14b)
  • INTERVIEW: Jernej Kruder On Climbing Sharma’s “King Line” Es Pontas
  • Jernej Kruder Repeats Sharma’s “King Line” Es Pontas
  • VIDEO: Adam Ondra Onsights C'est La Vie (8c+/5.14c)
  • Joe Kinder Puts Up Bone Tomahawk (5.14d/5.15a)
  • VIDEO: Adam Ondra's First Ascent of Robin Ud (5.15b)
  • Steph Davis, Unpacked: From Desert Towers to Indian Creek Craggin'
  • Dave Graham Nabs Second Ascent of Creature from the Black Lagoon (V16)
  • Michaela Kiersch Sends Lucifer (5.14c), Red River Gorge
  • Nalle Hukkataival Sends World’s First V17
  • Ghisolfi and Garnbret Seize Golds at World Cup in Xiamen, China
  • Neil Gresham, 45, Establishes Sabotage (8c+/5.14c), Malham Cove
  • Dawn Wall Update: Adam Ondra Reaches Pitch 15 and Dyno Crux
  • Adam Ondra Makes Quick Progress on the Dawn Wall
  • TNB: Do the Right Thing
  • Winners of the Rock and Ice / Mammut Photo Contest 2016
  • Dave Graham Establishes Topaz (V15) in Wild Basin, RMNP, Colorado
  • Best Mountaineering Article 2016 Award Goes to Jeff Long
  • El Cap Sees 90-percent Decline In Attempts Following Tom Evans’ Retirement
  • Red Rock Canyon Under Threat From Major Housing Development
  • Magnus Midtbø Finally Sends Thor's Hammer (~5.15a)
  • Chris Sharma Makes Second Ascent of Joe Mama (5.15a)
  • VIDEO: Stefano Carnati Climbing Le Cadre Nouvelle (9a/5.14d), Céüse
  • Matty Hong Sends Shadowboxing (5.14d) and Kryptonite (5.14d)
  • Adam Ondra Climbs New 5.15b, Onsights 5.14c
  • Isabelle Faus Sends Her Second V14, The Wheel of Chaos
  • Stefano Ghisolfi Bags Third Ascent of Jungle Boogie (5.15a)
  • Life and Death in the Karakoram: Climbing Latok I and Ogre II
  • VIDEO: Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker's "Crucifix Project"
  • Wide Boyz Establish World’s Longest Roof Crack - Crown of Thorns (5.14a)
  • Mark Anderson Sends Shadowboxing (5.14d), Rifle, Colorado
  • VIDEO: Kilian Fischhuber Repeats Rätikon's Headless Children (8b/5.13d)
  • Chris Sharma Sends Five-Year 5.15 Deep Water Solo Project
  • Daniel Woods Climbs Black 90 Project at V16
  • Marc-André Leclerc Solos Patagonia’s Torre Egger in Winter
  • Matty Hong Repeats Fat Camp (5.14d) in Rifle, Colorado
  • Banff Mountain Book Competition Announces 2016 Finalists
  • Remembering Kim Schmitz, by John Roskelley
  • Ondra Seizes Lead Championship, American Women Climb High
  • Roger Schaeli Makes Second Ascent of La Vida es Silbar, Eiger North Face
  • Ines Papert Makes Rare Ascent of Alpine Testpiece Scaramouche (5.13b/c)
  • Rob Collister: Gletscherhorn North Face, Swiss Alps
  • 2016 IFSC Climbing World Championships
  • VIDEO: Ryuichi Murai Sends Three V15’s In A Month
  • Ashima Shiraishi on Horizon (V15), Sleepy Rave (V15) & “Young Guns”
  • VIDEO: Chris Sharma Trains With Patxi Usobiaga For ‘Le Blond’ Project
  • Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature 2016 Shortlist
  • VIDEO: Dave Graham Sends Monkey Wedding (V15), Rocklands
  • Search Called Off for Missing Pair in Pakistan
  • (Updated) Weather to Break, Helicopters Expected to Fly in Search for Adamson and Dempster in Karakorum
  • ​Tommy Caldwell Free Climbs Mount Hooker in a Day Car to Car
  • Domen Skofic, Magdalena Röck Victorious at Imst Lead World Cup
  • Alex Megos Flashes The Path (5.14 R) On Gear, Talks Fightclub (5.15b)
  • Coxsey, Narasaki Overall 2016 Bouldering World Cup Champions
  • Dave Graham Sends Old Nemesis, Monkey Wedding (V15)
  • Alex Megos Establishes Fightclub – Canada’s First 5.15
  • Margo Hayes, 18, Breaks the “Boys Club” of Bad Girls Club (5.14d)
  • Jon Cardwell Finishes Fat Camp (5.14d), Rifle First Ascent
  • VIDEO: Man Attempts to Climb Trump Tower, Gets Nabbed
  • Jan Hojer, Michaela Kiersch Win 2016 Psicobloc Masters, Park City
  • Miranda Oakley Breaks Women’s Solo Speed Record on the Nose
  • REEL ROCK 11 Film Tour Lineup
  • Taking Back the Record - The Nose, Yosemite
  • Sean Bailey, 20, Clips Chains on Biographie/Realization (5.15a)
  • LIVE: 2016 Psicobloc Masters
  • Ashima Tops Second V15, Sleepy Rave, Grampians, Australia
  • Tokyo 2020 Olympics Officially Approves Climbing
  • A Win for Tennessee Climbing: Denny Cove Protected
  • Megos Crushes Canada: Seven 5.14b’s in Four Days
  • Toshi Takeuchi, Shawn Raboutou Smash Spray of Light (V15)
  • Drew Ruana, 16, Sends Le Cadre Nouvelle (5.14d) in Céüse
  • VIDEO: Melissa Le Nevé on Training, Comps and Outdoor Projects
  • Dave Di Paolo, Carderock Hammer Killer, Sentenced to 10 Years
  • Climbers Spook Gunman, Allowing Hostages to Flee on Independence Pass
  • Adam Ondra Cranks 5.15a FA in Three Attempts, Onsights Two 5.14c's
  • VIDEO: Alex Megos Sends Ben Moon’s Infamous Hubble (5.14c)
  • Nalle Hukkataival, Vadim Timonov Send Monkey Wedding (V15)
  • Gary Falk, IFMGA Guide, Falls to Death on Grand Teton
  • Janja Garnbret Dominates Lead World Cup, Again
  • Sherpas on Denali: First Nepalese Ascent of the West Rib
  • Mich Kemeter Frees 14-Pitch Voie Petit (8b 5.13d) on Grand Capucin
  • Paul Robinson - South African Boulder Fiend and Visionary
  • Nalle Hukkataival Repeats The Dragon’s Guardian (~V15), South Africa
  • Sean McColl, Janja Garnbret Take Gold At 2016 Villars World Cup
  • Margo Hayes, Brian Huang Win USA Climbing Junior Sport Nationals
  • Seb Bouin Repeats Thor’s Hammer (~5.15a), Suggests Downgrade
  • Inspect Your DMM Climbing Harness
  • Slovenians Victorious at First Lead World Cup of Season
  • LIVE: IFSC Lead Climbing World Cup - Chamonix, France 2016 - Finals
  • Ashima Shiraishi Injured in 45-Foot Ground Fall
  • Weekend Whipper: Climbers vs. Trees
  • Adam Ondra Establishes The Right of Passage (5.14d), Flatanger
  • Sachi Amma Repeats Thor's Hammer (9a+ 5.15a)
  • Paul Robinson Establishes The Dragon’s Guardian (V15), South Africa
  • Three El Cap Routes in a Day for Brad Gobright and Scott Bennett
  • Q&A: Martin Keller, 39, Sends 13-Year Project Highlander (8C V15)
  • American Alpine Club Announces 2016 Craggin’ Classics
  • The Battle for Indian Creek: Bears Ears, Rob Bishop & the Access Fund
  • Jon Cardwell's Biographie (9a+ 5.15a) Training and Projecting Advice
  • Dave Graham Makes Third Ascent of Delirium (V15)
  • Caroline Gleich, World-Famous Ski Mountaineer, is a Trad Addict
  • Virtual Reality: Watch Alex Honnold Solo the Needles in 360-degrees
  • Bouldering Access is Back in Catoctin Mountain Park, Maryland
  • Adam Ondra Makes First Ascent of 120 Degrees (5.15a), Flatanger
  • VIDEO: Sean Villanueva O'Driscoll Loves Pain and Dirty, Wet Cracks
  • Klemen Bečan Sends Papichulo (5.15a), Disappointed With Ease
  • Margo Hayes, 18, Sends The Crew (5.14c) in Rifle
  • President Obama Takes Over Yosemite
  • Rustam Gelmanov Makes Second Ascent of Hypnotized Minds (V16)
  • RIP Ken Wilson: Editor of Mountain Magazine, Rabble-Rouser
  • Lena Herrmann, 22, Climbs 5.14c in the Frankenjura
  • The Desert – Excerpt from “American Climber” by Luke Mehall
  • Heather Weidner Sends China Doll (5.14a R) on Gear
  • INTERVIEW: USA Boulderers On the IFSC World Cup in Vail
  • Stefano Carnati Sends Action Directe (5.14d), Frankenjura
  • RIP: Nicholas Clinch, 85, Led Only American First Ascent of an 8000er
  • Jonathan Siegrist's Mission to Rediscover Switzerland's World-Class Sport Climbing
  • Megan Mascarenas Dominates 2016 Vail Bouldering World Cup
  • LIVE: IFSC Bouldering World Cup, Vail 2016 (Finals)
  • LIVE: IFSC Bouldering World Cup, Vail 2016 (Semi-Finals)
  • Mélissa Le Nevé, a Top-Three Boulderer at Vail World Cup, Talks Rock
  • VIDEO: Pump Control and Efficient Resting for Climbing
  • Virginia Sandstone Crag Opened to Climbing
  • Bouldering World Cup Comes to Vail, Colorado This Weekend
  • Alex Megos Sends Hubble (8c+), Northern Lights (9a)
  • INTERVIEW: Melissa Arnot on Climbing Everest Without Supplemental Oxygen
  • Dai Koyamada Establishes Nehanna (V14/15) in Japan
  • VIDEO: Daniel Woods on the Elusive V17 Bouldering Grade
  • VIDEO: Adam Ondra Makes Second Ascent of Geocache (9a+/5.15a)
  • Q&A: Jon Cardwell On Climbing Biographie/Realization (9a+/5.15a)
  • Adam Ondra Repeats Geocache (9a+/5.15a) in a Day
  • American Melissa Arnot Claims Mount Everest Record
  • Jon Cardwell Sends Biographie/Realization (5.15a)
  • Coxsey, Chon Win Innsbruck Bouldering World Cup
  • Nathaniel Coleman, Brooke Raboutou Win 2016 Riverrock Boulder Bash
  • Zimmerman, Wright Establish New Route in Alaska’s St. Elias Range
  • Three Dead, Two Missing and Hundreds Summit on Everest
  • Robbie Phillips and Jacob Cook Free El Cap’s 30-Pitch El Niño
  • VIDEO: Chris Sharma On His Santa Linya Project
  • Climbing and Mentorship Come Together at City Rocks
  • Japan Triumphs at Bouldering World Cup in Navi Mumbai
  • Silvio Reffo Sends Goldrake (5.15a), Cornalba, Italy
  • The Wizard - Dean Potter
  • The Great Unknown - Graham Hunt
  • Dean Potter: What I've Learned
  • VIDEO: Alex Megos Sends First Round, First Minute (5.15b)
  • Ofer Blutrich Sends Mind Control - First Israeli to Climb 5.14c
  • INTERVIEW: Sonnie Trotter on Freeing "The Prow," 5.14a Multi-pitch
  • Valley Walls: A Memoir of Climbing and Living in Yosemite
  • Block and Wall: Buildering and Raving in Trento, Italy
  • VIDEO: Adam Ondra Attempts The World's First 5.15a Flash
  • VIDEO: The Width of Life - Tribute to Dave Pegg, Colorado Climbing Legend
  • William Bosi, 17, Climbs Rainshadow (5.14d), Malham Cove
  • Shauna Coxsey Triumphs, Tomoa Narasaki Shocks at Chongqing World Cup
  • Alex Lowe's and David Bridges' Remains Found on Shishapangma
  • Mark Cole, Longtime Leader in SE Climbing, Passes at 58
  • The Greatest Boulderer You’ve Never Heard Of: Ryuichi Murai's on Fire
  • Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation's Khumbu Climbing Center Almost Complete
  • Climbers Remember Nepal on Anniversary of Earthquake
  • Shauna Coxsey Dominates at Kazo World Cup
  • VIDEO: Epic Climber - Sharma, Ondra, Digiulian, and Marin in Spain
  • Adam Ondra On Climbing In The Olympics
  • Crack School with Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker (Video Series)
  • Mary Harlan: Heartiness, Suffering and The Zion Link-Up
  • Chuck Pratt's "The View From Dead Horse Point"
  • VIDEO: Ethan Pringle Sends Meadowlark Lemon (V14), Red Rock
  • Megan Mascarenas Places Third At Meiringen Bouldering World Cup
  • VIDEO: Slow Details - 2016 Meiringen Bouldering World Cup
  • Tyler Armstrong, 12, Denied Permit to Climb Mount Everest
  • Drew Ruana Sends Five 5.14s, Onsights Four 5.13s at the RRG
  • Ryuichi Murai Sends Hydrangea (V15), His Third V15 in a Month
  • Roland Hemetzberger Frees 22-Year-Old Project, Outro (5.15a)
  • Everest's Icefall Doctors Establish 2016 Route Through Khumbu Icefall
  • Black Diamond Recalls Camalots/Camalot Ultralights, Ascenders and Via Ferratas
  • Glen Dawson, Sierra Nevada Climbing Pioneer, Dies at 103
  • Jim Curran, British Climber and Author of "K2, The Story of The Savage Mountain," Dies
  • Stefano Ghisolfi Sends Adam Ondra’s Goldrake (5.15a)
  • Access Fund 2016 Climbing Preservation Grants
  • Michaela Kiersch Sends Pure Imagination (5.14c)
  • Five New Mixed Routes in Pilot Creek, Wyoming
  • Allen Frame Hill, Climber-Filmmaker, Found Dead at Home
  • VIDEO: Profondo Sud - Bouldering in Basilicata, Italy
  • Ryan Vachon Makes Second Ascent of Saphira (M15-)
  • Adam Ondra Claims 5.15a/b and 5.14d First Ascents in One Weekend
  • Brooke Raboutou, Dru Mack Send Southern Smoke (5.14c) at the RRG
  • Durango Climbers Linkup Six Fisher Towers in Under 24 Hours
  • Margo Hayes Sends Pure Imagination (5.14c) at the Red River Gorge
  • VIDEO: Edu Marin Discovers His Limits On Alex Huber's Sansara (8b+/5.14a)
  • Matty Hong Sends Papichulo (5.15a) in Oliana, Spain
  • 2016 Piolets d’Or Award Recipients Announced
  • Jon Cardwell Sends Shadow Boxing (5.14d), Flashes Waka Flocka (5.14b)
  • Interview: Klemen Bečan on the First Ascent of Joe Mama (5.15a)
  • Ashima Shiraishi Sends V15!
  • Stefano Carnati, 17, Makes Quick Work of Goldrake (5.15a) in Italy
  • Margo Hayes, Sean Bailey Win USA Sport Open National Championships
  • Big Crowds, Big Money: Climbers Bring $3.6 Million to the RRG
  • Ethan Pringle and La Reina Mora – The Full Story
  • V15 Send Train by Adam Ondra, Sachi Amma and Jongwon Chon
  • The Bold and Cold: A History of 25 Classic Climbs in the Canadian Rockies
  • The 2015 Sharp End Awards from the Access Fund
  • Alex Puccio on Grade Chasing and Climbing Media
  • Magnus Midtbø Makes Fourth Ascent of Seleccion Anal (9a+/5.15a)
  • Daniel Woods Sends Papichulo (5.15a) in Oliana, Spain
  • Legendary Climber Cal Swoager Dies at 66
  • Klemen Bečan Puts Up New 5.15a in Oliana, Spain
  • Mayan Smith-Gobat and Ines Papert Repeat Riders on the Storm, Patagonia
  • Interview: Marc-Andre Leclerc Solos Three Routes on Stanley Headwall
  • Gaetan Raymond Repeats World's Hardest Dry Tooling Route
  • Nacho Sánchez Sends Catalán Witness the Fitness (V15)
  • First Winter Ascent of Nanga Parbat
  • The Final Frontier – Rumney, NH Land Purchase
  • Scott Cosgrove, Bold Yosemite Climber, Passes Away
  • Highlights from the 2016 Ice Climbing World Youth Championship
  • Felipe Camargo Repeats Catalán Witness the Fitness (V15)
  • Adam Ondra Repeats Sharma’s Stoking the Fire (5.15b)
  • Lucie Hrozová Establishes Hardest Mixed Climb in U.S.
  • ​Snowball Fight on K2: Interview with Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita
  • Drew Ruana, 16, Establishes Smith Rock’s Hardest Route
  • Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita Named Nat Geo Adventurer of the Year
  • Jimmy Webb, Charles Albert Repeat Fontainebleau's “Hardest Climb”
  • Alex Puccio, Jakob Schubert Win 2016 Hueco Rock Rodeo
  • Climbing Anchors and the Evolution of the Quad
  • Tom Ballard Establishes World’s Hardest Dry Tooling Route
  • Tim Emmett, Klemen Preml Establish 260-Foot WI 12 at Helmcken Falls
  • Jimmy Webb Sends The Big Island (V15), Toupie Carnivore assis (V14)
  • Kevin Lopata Sends Jour de Chasse (V15), Fontainebleau (with video)
  • Rocasolano Makes Second Ascent of Catalan Witness the Fitness (V15)
  • VIDEO: Jonathan Siegrist Sends Power Inverter (5.15a)
  • Black Diamond Recalls Carabiners, Quickdraws and Slings
  • Jimmy Webb Sends l’Alchemiste In Three Tries – Downgrades
  • Brette Harrington Free Solos Austríaca in Patagonia
  • Nathaniel Coleman, Megan Mascarenas Win 2016 Bouldering Nationals
  • Marianne van der Steen Flashes Kamasutra (D13+)
  • Alex Honnold and Colin Haley Repeat the Torre Traverse in a Day
  • Barefoot Climber First to Repeat Original l’Alchimiste (~V14)
  • Alban Levier Cranks Third Ascent of l’Alchimiste (V15)
  • New Big Wall Route Established on El Diente North Face in Mexico
  • Epic Ascent of Yosemite’s Ephemeral Widow’s Tears
  • Colin Haley on Patagonian Solo Streak
  • VIDEO: Tom Randall Takes Down the Kraken (V13)
  • Ryan Vachon Dominates 2016 Ouray Mixed Climbing Competition
  • Guillaume Glairon-Mondet Puts Up New V16 in Fontainebleau
  • Two Experienced Climbers Killed in the Scottish Highlands
  • Jimmy Webb Sends The Game (V15)
  • Siegrist Sends Power Inverter (5.15a), Flashes Fish Eye (5.14b) in Spain
  • Jakob Schubert Sends La Planta de Shiva (5.15b) in Spain
  • VIDEO: Ueli Steck - Accepting Risk, Reward & Danger (Part 4)
  • Epic TV's Top Three Training Videos of 2015
  • Chris Sharma Sends Catalan Witness the Fitness (V-Hard) in Spain
  • Alex Megos Sends First Round, First Minute (5.15b) and More
  • A Tribute: Doug Walker, First AAC President Killed in Office
  • VIDEO: Barefoot French Climber Sends V12 Traverse
  • Two-time Mugs Stump Award Winner Ryan Jennings Dies on Ice Climb
  • Climbers We Lost in 2015
  • VIDEO: Tragedy Strikes Ueli Steck’s 82 Summit Project
  • Climbers Against Cancer Founder John Ellison Dies
  • VIDEO: Alexey Rubtsov Climbs Three Magic Wood V14s
  • Ashima Shiraishi Sends Phenomena (V14) in 30 Minutes
  • Kayah Gaydish Climbing Accident Update
  • VIDEO: Ueli Steck Runs Up 18 4,000 Meter Peaks In A Day
  • North Carolina Climber Dies in 50-foot Fall
  • Jimmy Webb Puts Up The Matriarch - The Southeast's First V15
  • The Classic Alpinist: Ueli Steck Climbs 82 Summits In 62 Days - Part 1
  • 2016 Mugs Stump Award Recipients
  • Access Fund Launches Second Batmobile
  • VIDEO: Road to the Top - World Cup Training with Alex Puccio
  • Lost in Mozambique – First Ascent on Mt. Namuli
  • The Top 7 Climbing Achievements of 2015
  • Sarah Hueniken First North American Woman to Send M14
  • Will Gadd Sends The Mustang P-51 (M14-) Second Go - with Video
  • Walton, Grainger Claim Another Triple Crown Victory
  • Founder of The North Face, Doug Tompkins Dies in Patagonia
  • VIDEO: Highlights from La Sportiva Legends Only 2015
  • Top 10 Weekend Whippers of 2015
  • Kai Lightner Storms Bishop, Hikes The Mandala (V12)
  • Southern Rampage – Jimmy Webb Establishes Four V14s
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    The K2 Summit Controversy

    12-Nov-2015
    By Mick Conefrey

    Based on Mick Conefrey's new book THE GHOSTS OF K2: The Epic Saga of the First Ascent

      At about 6:00 p.m. on July 31st 1954, Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli became the first men to stand on the summit of K2. That much is certain. Precisely how they got there is not.

    The 1954 Italian K2 expedition is probably the most rancorous in the history of mountaineering. Almost as soon as the team got home the lawsuits started. They argued about everything from expedition finances, to the rights to the film, to the leadership of Ardito Desio, the organizer of the expedition. The bitterest and longest running dispute, however, was of a much more fundamental nature. Walter Bonatti, the youngest member of the team, claimed that the two men who reached the summit had lied about key elements of their ascent. He fought a long, hard battle to get his version of events accepted in Italy and in the international climbing world. But did Bonatti get it right and how much weight should now be given to the role of Robert Marshall, the self confessed “arm-chair mountaineer” who played a decisive role in the controversy?

    Today Bonatti is acclaimed as one of, if not, the greatest climber of his generation but in 1954 he was the youngest member of the team. During the early stages he did not do any of the lead climbing but at the end he was entrusted with a vital task. In an epic of endurance, Bonatti and the Hunza porter Amir Mahdi carried two 18kg oxygen sets from their seventh camp at 7440m to around 8100m. They got within shouting distance of the summit pair but were unable to reach their tent and had to spend a night in the cold without any protection. On the following day they descended, leaving Compagnoni and Lacedelli to retrieve the sets and head for the history books. Remarkably Bonatti survived unscathed but Mahdi developed severe frostbite.

    This episode didn’t receive much coverage in Desio’s official expedition book, The Conquest of K2, but in 1961 Bonatti published his first autobiography, Le Mie Montagne, and gave a detailed account of what happened. He was very critical of the summit pair, accusing them of placing their final camp so high that it was impossible to reach and then abandoning their support party to their fate. Bonatti portrayed Compagnoni as a man on the edge of exhaustion, so jealous of his position as climbing leader that he was prepared to endanger fellow team members’ lives.

    Three years later, a report appeared in an Italian newspaper, based on an interview with Compagnoni, which told a very different story. It accused Bonatti of trying to make an unauthorized attempt on the summit, abandoning his partner Mahdi and most damagingly, of using some of Compagnoni and Lacedelli’s oxygen during his high altitude bivouac. Bonatti denied all the charges, sued for defamation and won the case. But the arguments didn’t stop.

    ==

    K2 seen from the Godwin-Austen glacier.<br /> Photo: Mick Conefrey.Over the next forty years he waged a one-man guerilla campaign against the Italian climbing establishment, demanding that the official history of the expedition should be revised to recognize his vital supporting role and acknowledge the selfish behaviour of the summit pair and the lies that they had told. Bonatti argued that none of the altitudes or timings in The Conquest of K2 could be trusted and, crucially, nor could Compagnoni and Lacedelli’s claim that they reached the summit under their own steam.

    According to interviews given by Compagnoni, the oxygen ran out between 100-200m from the top. He and Lacedelli kept on going though and even carried their heavy sets all the way to the top, because they were so awkward to remove and because they wanted to leave something as proof they had made it.

    Bonatti poured scorn on this and denounced it as the ‘base lie’ of the whole story, which could easily be disproved using common sense and mathematics. In the first instance, it was simply absurd to maintain that anyone would carry an 18 Kg oxygen set to the top of the world’s second highest mountain after the gas had ran out. Secondly, by looking at their climbing rates with and without oxygen, and comparing the capacity of their sets to the length of time it took to climb K2, he concluded that there must have been some gas left.

    Bonatti published a book outlining his case, but no one paid that much attention. After years of arguments over K2, there was no appetite in Italy for yet more controversy. Then something unexpected happened: an Australian surgeon called Robert Marshall entered the fray.

    Marshall was a keen trekker and an avid reader of climbing books. A long time fan of Bonatti, he became convinced that a grave injustice had been done. In 1993 he wrote an article in which he claimed to have found photographic evidence to prove that Compagnoni was lying.

    Lacedelli standing next to his oxygen set. Photo: <em>Mountain World</em>, 1955 edition.The photos in question had appeared in the 1955 edition of a discontinued review, The Mountain World. One was the classic picture of Lacedelli standing next to his oxygen set, the other showed Compagnoni on the summit – wearing his oxygen mask. This, Marshall claimed, was absolute proof that the oxygen lasted all the way — why else would he have the mask on?

    When the article was translated and published in Italy it garnered huge publicity and convinced many that Bonatti was right. Marshall spoke at conferences and translated the Penguin edition of Bonatti’s best selling book, The Mountains of My Life; it included his analysis of the summit photographs and a long piece in which he outlined the elaborate conspiracy theory which he believed lay behind the story.

    Today no one questions Robert Marshall’s writings on K2 but if you look at them in detail, they are significantly flawed. In the first instance Marshall implied that there had been some sort of cover up, with the photograph of Compagnoni on the summit missing from the “official version,” replaced with a blurred image where he has no mask on. There is no evidence for this and no sense that anyone had tried to suppress an incriminating image: the images in question were the very first two summit pictures to appear in the Italian press, published in Il Corriere Della Sera on September 28th 1954, long before any books appeared, under the headline ‘The first photographic documentation of the events’. The Mountain World was not an obscure journal: it was a well funded and well known annual publication from the Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research and was released in the same year as Desio’s book.

    ==

    Compagnoni on the summit of K2. Photo: <em>Mountain World</em>, 1955 edition.Regarding the photograph of Compagnoni, Marshall assumed that the oxygen was connected and still flowing but this is impossible to determine from a still photograph and it is not even clear where the tube from Compagnoni’s mask terminates. When Compagnoni was challenged, he explained that he was using the mask to warm the freezing air. Robert Marshall dismissed this out of hand but it was supported both by Lacedelli and Eric Abram, the Italian team’s oxygen controller. The Italians were using “open-circuit” sets. Their supplementary oxygen was routed via a mixing box, or “lung,” where it was combined with ambient air. When the oxygen ran out it was still possible to breathe through the mask.

    In a long interview from 2004, Abram confirmed that it was commonplace on the Italian expedition for climbers to wear their masks and breathing tubes to warm the freezing air in 1954. A year earlier in 1953, two members of Charlie Houston’s American K2 team wore “Arctic breathers,” a kind of sock on top of their mouths, for the same purpose. Then and now, in the Arctic and Antarctic masks are worn for this very reason.

    Furthermore, Marshall focused almost exclusively on a single summit photograph, and ignored the four other summit images of Compagnoni in which he is not wearing a mask. The photographic and film evidence makes it absolutely clear that he spent at least some time on the summit without recourse to any supplementary oxygen.

    As for Lacedelli, Marshall could not find an image with his mask on, so he came up with an elaborate theory that the ice visible on Lacedelli’s beard was either caused by condensation of water vapour, indicating that he had just taken it off, or by a loose fitting mask that he had just removed. There are two obvious problems with this: firstly there are photographs of Lacedelli and other climbers with ice on their beards much lower down the mountain when they were not using oxygen or wearing masks. Secondly, if Marshall was right and ice formed when Lacedelli took his mask off, then why in all the photographs and footage of Compagnoni without a mask, is there no tell tale ice on his beard?

    Marshall claimed that these photographs were the key to the oxygen controversy, but he didn’t notice something very telling: Compagnoni and Lacedelli had jettisoned one of their cylinders on the way up. Marshall always maintained that they carried three cylinders, a full 18 kg to the summit, but this is not the case. The middle cylinder is missing from each set. This is hard to see on the black and white pictures but clear in the film footage and the colour summit photographs.

    ==

    Like the equipment taken to Everest in 1953, the sets used by the Italian team were designed to allow for easy attachment and removal of cylinders. Every time a bottle ran out, it could be discarded; the more oxygen you used, the lighter your set became. So why did Compagnoni and Lacedelli only throw away one empty cylinder? Even if Bonatti was right and their final bottle contained some remaining oxygen, why did they carry the other bottle which must have been used? If reducing weight was their priority, this does not make sense. There are two possible explanations: either they didn’t have the time, energy or ability to remove them, or that their sets had been assembled incorrectly. Either way, the fact that they must have carried at least one empty cylinder lends credence to their account.

    Piles of oxygen bottles at base camp, Dalmine Red, Drager Blue. Still from the documentary <em>Italia K2</em>, courtesy of Cinematografica K2.The most important visual evidence however is found in the expedition film, Italia K2, which unlike most of the photographs was shot in colour. The Italian team were equipped with two types of oxygen cylinder: a large number of red bottles made by Dalmine, an Italian steel foundry with no track record in mountaineering, and a smaller number of blue bottles, made by Drager, one of Europe’s leading oxygen companies. Drager had provided equipment for both the Swiss Everest expedition of 1952 and the German Nanga Parbat expedition of 1953.

    The Dalmine bottles had a maximum capacity of ten hours but when tested on the mountain many of them leaked. The Drager bottles were filled to higher pressure and, in theory, lasted for twelve hours. The plan was to use the Dalmine bottles for the low altitude work and then switch to the Drager cylinders for the final attempt. That’s not what happened though.

    The expedition film shows that one of the oxygen sets on the summit was equipped with bright red Dalmine cylinders. It is not clear why this happened but somewhere in the confusion of the last days, the plan to use only Drager sets went awry.

    Still from K2 movie shows German blue oxygen bottles they were supposed to have taken, and red Italian bottles that they should not have had with them. Still from the documentary <em>Italia K2</em>, courtesy of Cinematografica K2.The other striking fact that neither Marshall nor Bonatti mentioned, was that the only time oxygen was used in 1954 was the last day. Of the 230 odd cylinders transported out to Pakistan, only 6 were used for climbing. Unlike Hillary and Tenzing, who used supplementary oxygen several times in the build up to their summit bid on Everest, Compagnoni and Lacedelli had hardly any experience with it. And unlike Ed Hillary, who spent the night of 28th May 1953, checking and re-checking his and Tenzing’s equipment, Compagnoni and Lacedelli did not get hold of their sets until the morning of their ascent and had no time to make sure they worked properly.

    The oxygen sets of the early 1950s were crude and prone to failure. Though they had a good reputation, no Drager set had ever been used at really high altitude. The 1952 Swiss Everest expedition did not get above the South Col and members of the Austro-German Nanga Parbat expedition of 1953 hardly used their Drager sets either. Herman Buhl reached the summit of Nanga Parbat powered by guts, will power and amphetamines- not oxygen.

    ==

    Supplementary oxygen was used in 1953 on the first ascent of Everest, but if you look in detail at the experience of that expedition, the British team had repeated problems. Cylinders leaked, valves froze up, tubes became choked with ice; oxygen frequently ran out at just the wrong moment. The first summit attempt by Bourdillon and Evans was undone by a faulty oxygen set and Tenzing had problems with his set on the way to the summit.

    Put all of this together — the fact that Compagnoni and Lacedelli had virtually no experience, were using one set never intended for the summit, and climbing in an era when oxygen equipment was prone to failure, then it becomes much more likely that they were telling the truth and that their oxygen did run out early.

    Achille Compagnoni. Photo: Mick Conefrey.Both Bonatti and Marshall made the mistake of applying 1980s’ standards to a 1950s’ story. Modern oxygen sets might be relatively reliable, but those of the 1950s were not. And this wasn’t the only example of Robert Marshall looking at the past with modern day eyes.

    According to Marshall’s commentary on K2, as published in The Mountain’s of My Life and then elaborated upon in his book K2 Lies and Treachery, the story of the oxygen running out early was the lynchpin of an elaborate conspiracy theory, what he called a typical piece of ‘Machiavellian bastardy’, designed to make Bonatti the scapegoat for his partner Mahdi’s frost bite.

    Bonatti had emerged from his bivouac physically unscathed, but Mahdi later had all his toes amputated. According to Marshall, Desio was very worried that this incident would sully the reputation of his historic victory. Marshall envisaged a series of meetings between Compagnoni, Desio and an irate Mohammed Ata-Ullah, the Pakistani liaison officer assigned to the Italian team, out of which emerged a plan to scapegoat Bonatti, the youngest and most “expendable” member of the team, and avoid any criticism of the triumphant summit pair for placing their final camp so high. Marshall backed up his theory by referring to angry reports in the Pakistani press and an affidavit made in response to the Italian ambassador in Karachi in September 1954, to clarify events on the mountain.

    Lino Lacedelli. Photo: Mick Conefrey.There are no letters, diary entries, memos or any archival evidence to support this and the idea of Ata-Ullah storming into Desio’s tent to demand an explanation for Mahdi’s frostbite makes no historical sense. The Italian expedition had been personally approved by the Pakistani Prime Minister, the Pakistani army had built the bridges that enabled the Italians to reach K2 more quickly than any previous expedition, Compagnoni and Lacedelli had planted the national flag on the summit of Pakistan’s highest mountain. Would Ata-Ullah really have had the temerity, or the desire, to create a public scandal when he and everyone else was so thrilled at the first ascent of K2?

     

    ==

    In the 1950s mountaineering was seen as an inherently dangerous sport and frostbite as one of its occupational hazards – for both Western climbers and their Eastern assistants. Only a few years earlier Maurice Herzog had famously lost all his toes and most of his fingers on Annapurna and the last two K2 expeditions, in 1939 and 1953, had resulted in the deaths of two American climbers and three Sherpas. Robert Marshall ignored the fact that both Compagnoni and Lacedelli also came down from the mountain with severe frostbite, while their colleague, Mario Puchoz, lost his life right at the beginning of the expedition. There would have been sympathy for Mahdi’s frostbite but Desio would not have feared a scandal.

    As for the idea that he was frightened by the Pakistani press, Desio could not have read any angry press reports, because he did not leave K2 with the climbing team, instead staying in the Karakoram for a secondary scientific expedition. When critical press reports were published in Karachi at the beginning of September, he was many miles away on the Biafo Glacier and had no idea what was being written. Furthermore, the negative press coverage did not focus on Mahdi’s frostbite, but rather on the mistaken idea that the Italians had prevented him from reaching the summit, because they wanted to keep that privilege for themselves. In the affidavit made to the Italian ambassador, signed by Bonatti and Compagnoni, there is no mention of Mahdi’s frostbite.

    The author, Mick Conefrey.Compagnoni rejected the accusations of Marshall and Bonatti but he did not take either of them to court. Instead he appealed to patriotic values and called for all the mud slinging to stop. To some this might seem suspicious but Compagnoni was 80 when Marshall’s article was published and after spending years in court on a failed attempt to get a share of the K2 film’s profits, would have had no appetite for another legal battle. He was a tough, sometimes abrasive character; he did not have Walter Bonatti’s charisma or his climbing record. This however does not make him a liar.

    As for Lacedelli, Bonatti and Marshall portrayed him as Compagnoni’s toady, but the two men were neither friends before the expedition, nor afterwards. When in 1955 Compagnoni sued the producers of the expedition film, Lacedelli did not support him and even signed a team letter condemning his actions. In his book K2, the Price of Conquest Lacedelli was very critical of Compagnoni but he insisted that the story about the oxygen running out was true- whatever Bonatti or Marshall wrote thirty or forty years later – he was certain that it had, because he experienced it.

    Bonatti’s “mathematical proofs” are rarely questioned but they too have problems. His timetable for the summit day was inconsistent; he conflated Compagnoni’s book, Men on K2, and Desio’s 1955 book, The Conquest of K2, into one mythical “official version” and refused to accept the evidence of Pino Gallotti, another Italian climber who witnessed the events and kept a detailed diary. Robert Marshall put his faith in Bonatti because he was such an honourable man but this is not a story about personalities – it’s about oxygen sets. All the historical evidence indicates that it was much more likely for something to have gone wrong with Compagnoni and Lacedelli's equipment, than for it to have worked perfectly.

    Bonatti won his libel case in 1966. He did not need to rewrite the whole story of the summit day to prove that he had been wronged; the judge accepted that he had neither abandoned Mahdi, tried to stage an ‘unofficial’ attempt nor used any of the summit team’s oxygen. Robert Marshall did not need to concoct a complex conspiracy theory to explain the photographs taken on the summit. The simple version, that Compagnoni and Lacedelli were telling the truth, that the oxygen ran out as a result of ‘cock-up rather than conspiracy’ as (the British writer) Jim Curran might have put it, has holes and problems and contradictions, but on balance it is far more historically plausible than Bonatti or Marshall’s elaborate version of events.

    Hillary and Tenzing left a small cross and some sweets on the summit of Everest, Herman Buhl left his ice axe on the summit of Nanga Parbat, Lacedelli and Compagnoni carried their empty oxygen sets to the summit of K2 and left them there as a marker. It might sound strange, it might sound irrational, but in extraordinary situations people often behave in extraordinary ways. Elaborate conspiracy theories are just an attempt to bring order to the chaos of life – reality is frequently much stranger.

     

    PURCHASING INFORMATION
    To purchase THE GHOSTS OF K2: The Epic Saga of the First Ascent, on which this story is based, please visit amazon.com, bn.com, or your local independent bookstore.

     


    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    MICK CONEFREY is an internationally recognized filmmaker and acclaimed writer on mountaineering. He has produced several BBC and History Channel documentaries on exploration, including the film Mountain Men: The Ghosts of K2, which won the best mountain documentary award at the Telluride Film Festival in 2003. His previous books include the bestselling Everest 1953 and The Adventurer’s Handbook. He lives in Oxford, England. Follow him on Twitter at @mickulus.

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