David Lama, 24, was in diapers when Conrad Anker first attempted a new line on the Temple of Sinewava—an unclimbed feature at the entrance to the narrows of Zion Canyon, Utah.
Anker tried the route with Doug Heinrich in 1988, but the two were unable to complete it. While retreating, their rope caught in a flake. Sure they were going to come back, they left the rope.
“But the days turned to weeks, the weeks to months, the months to years and the years to decades,” Anker says in a video of the climb, made by Redbull. “Twenty-five years of shame and guilt after having garbage in the park, we’ve come back to clean it up.”
Before attempting the line, Anker and Lama had never met. Anker, 52, teamed up with the young Austrian in Zion so they could get to know each other before tackling bigger objectives.
“We’ve talked about doing routes in the Himalayas,” Anker says. “Before you do something as big as a Himalayan route, you want to figure out who your partner is and do a climb or two with them.”
Anker proposed they try to onsight Moonlight Buttress (5.12d), an 11-pitch Zion test-piece.
“But for me, that was not as tempting as putting up a new line,” Lama told Redbull. He proposed they finish the route that Anker started 25 years ago.
After four days on the wall—returning to the ground each night—Lama and Anker succeeded, and retrieved the old rope. They named the route Latent Core in dedication to Layton Kor (1938-2013).
“I think I’m a basket case,” Anker says in the video. “I’m up here with my basket case friends, because who in their sane mind would want to be up there hanging on a hook on sandstone with lightning and rain.”