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
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 rockandice.com the
Rick and I would have been all over that.