Austin Siadak, 26, has become the first reported climber to solo the Evolution Traverse (V1, 5.9) in the High Sierra of California from car to car in under a day. He completed the route in 23 hours and 58 minutes on Monday, June 23.
He commented on Instagram: “Most of the day I went back and forth on whether I thought I’d break 24 [hours], and after getting epically lost on the hike out, in the dark, with a failing headlamp, in a Percocet-induced stupor, it ultimately came down to me straight up running the last six miles.”
The traverse is eight miles of technical ridgeline climbing, comprising nine peaks, all over 13,000 feet and over 15,000 feet of elevation gain, reached by a 10-mile approach. The climb is typically done in two or three days.
Peter Croft made the first ascent in 1999, and calls it his favorite traverse. “I began at the first hint of dawn and spent all day on this great spine of granite, coming closer than ever to the ideal traverse. To climb for miles and never leave the skyline.”
Rock and Ice got in touch with Siadak to find out more about his venture.
“It’s pretty rare that you can climb for 8 miles and not encounter too much choss!” Siadack wrote in an e-mail.
Siadak explained that his favorite section of climbing was between Mt. Darwin and Peak 13,332’. He wrote that the section had “the most sustained climbing, the cleanest rock, and some of the most exposure.”
“There is legitimate crack climbing up and down steep gendarmes, and it is really enjoyable.”
Siadak said what inspires him most as climber, “is to be part of a beautiful landscape for a brief moment in time.” On why he is drawn to traverses he told Rock and Ice: “When you’re on a steep face or wall, you often only have a 180 degree view, whereas on a ridge or traverse you can often look around 360 degrees at the landscape.
“There’s something about massive, endless vistas across rugged, wild terrain that fills me with a sense of wonder and being alive,” wrote Siadak.
Siadak was a cinematographer and editor for Duct Tape Then Beer, a creative media company in Seattle. He studied International Relations at Tufts University, graduating in 2010, but now spends his time on the road climbing and documenting the climbing life independently. He helped direct the popular short, “35,” about a desert climber’s birthday and lifestyle, and was the director for the trail-running film, “Silence.”