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Fifty years ago a climber saw the need for well-crafted gear that could withstand anything the mountains threw out. From this 'ah hah’ moment, The North Face was born, and quality craftsmanship and a devotion to serving climbers have remained core tenets.
The Summit Series collection represents The North Face's commitment to building the world’s finest alpine equipment, designed for exploring the world’s harshest environments. Here are a few stories of the people who help craft and test their gear.
NICHOLAS ROTHENBUSH - Age: 27, Climber, Guide, Advocate
In 2010, Nicholas Rothenbush was considering dropping out of college because his classes were
uninspiring. Then, a friend suggested the outdoor recreation program, "and by some miracle, I got in after the deadline," he says.
For the next few years, Rothenbush earned his school credits and cash guiding students in the Appalachian Mountains. “My first summer at the New River
Gorge was the point of no return. Full-on climbing addiction,” he says. “I guess I’m a bit of a dirtbag now.”
Rothenbush’s first preview of rock climbing had been a poster in an Indianapolis sporting goods store, near where he’d grown up on the city’s east side.
“It was of an aid climber on El Cap,” he says, “and it just looked insane.” Later, when Rothenbush began climbing in college, he approached the sport
as art. “The climbers I look up to are well rounded,” he says, “To really master your craft you have to know all sides of it.”
To that end, Rothenbush studied rope systems and safety practices, and first-aid and rescue tactics. “It’s a strong foundation I always come back to,”
After he graduated in 2012, Rothenbush earned his AMGA Single Pitch Instructor certification and began guiding clients up crags in West Virginia, Arkansas
“Leading people helped me glimpse climbing’s big picture,” he says. “It kept loose ends together, and I honed my skills.”
In the fall of 2014, Rothenbush joined The North Face Local’s program. “They send me gear, and I test it out,” he says. “I give honest feedback because
I know they’re always trying to raise the bar.” Freshly equipped, Rothenbush spent that winter in northern Patagonia, climbing granite big walls in the Cochamo Valley. “An expedition was a big step,” he says. “It
expanded my skills; I had to elevate outside of my comfort zone.”
Shortly after he returned to Salt Lake City, Rothenbush noticed he got winded walking to his mailbox. He had Lyme Disease. “I couldn’t leave the house;
I didn’t know if I’d climb again.” Rothenbush improvised a training plan to speed his recovery. “Part of climbing-craftsmanship is problemsolving,
and that aspect played a role in my recovery,” he says. “No one shows you the route when you’re on a first ascent. I applied that outside-the-box thinking
to overcome my illness.”
Now recovered, Rothenbush is eager to ice climb again in Hyalite Canyon, near Bozeman—he met Conrad Anker there last winter. “Conrad complimented
my jacket,” he says, “so I told him I was an ambassador.”
Anker had helped design the coat, and he asked Rothenbush how it was holding up. “Conrad has climbed in the harshest environments,” Rothenbush says. “I
could tell the gear was designed to withstand those situations.”
Nicholas Rothenbush is a certified AMGA Single Pitch Instructor climbing guide. His non-profit, Climb for Lyme, helps those with Lyme Disease fight fatigue through outdoor exercise.