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Legendary Climber Cal Swoager Dies at 66

Cal Swoager, 66, was killed in a free-soloing accident at Coll’s Cove, Pennsylvania on February 28, 2016.

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Cal Swoager leading the beautiful corner <em>Archangel</em> in the Cheat River gorge, West Virginia. Photo courtesy of Carl Samples.” title=”Cal Swoager leading the beautiful corner <em>Archangel</em> in the Cheat River gorge, West Virginia. Photo courtesy of Carl Samples.”>    <b>In the glory days of eastern climbing—</b>back in the 70’s and 80’s—Cal Swoager was a man on mission. His mission<br />
    was to climb every route he possibly could. He had fought hard in the Vietnam War, and returned with a burning passion that he applied in earnest to<br />
    rock climbing. </p>
<p>Being from Western Pennsylvania, Cal didn’t have the opportunities for nearby rock like other climbers did, but he drove whatever the distance to the requisite<br />
    crags of the day like The Gunks, Seneca Rocks and nearby Cooper’s Rock. There he climbed countless established routes, but was more focused on pioneering<br />
    some of the most epic routes of the day. Poorly protected, bold and ballsy routes. New routes that would test his skills, and suck every drop of fortitude<br />
    out of him. Routes like Seneca Rock’s <em>The Bell </em>(5.12 X) and hidden northern West Virginia Woodland Wall’s classic <em>Repent or Parish </em>(5.11c/d<br />
    R/X). And there were stacks of routes where you’d have to man-up to have even the chance of success. </p>
<p>Yet perhaps Cal had his biggest influence at the then emerging New River Gorge, where he grabbed a field day of first ascents built on power, endurance<br />
    and sheer determination. Routes that would take every last bit of strength one could muster to make to the top without pumping out and melting down.<br />
    There he had the vision to pick classic line after line.</p>
<p>At Beauty Mountain he did the first ascent of a collection of superb, strenuous cracks like <em>Chasin the Wind </em>(5.11b), <em>Into the Wind </em>(5.11b<em>)</em>    and his most classic routes at Beauty, <em>Left Son of Thunder </em>(5.11d) and <em>Right Son of Thunder </em>(5.11c<em>)</em>. At the Bridge Buttress<br />
    Cal’s impact is also felt with ultra-classic routes like <em>Angel’s Arête </em>(5.10a R), <em>Raptured </em>(5.11a) and the aesthetic <em>Left</em>    and <em>Right Gemini Cracks</em>, (5.10a) and (5.10c) respectively.</p>
<p>In the fall of 1985, just when the golden days of New River climbing was about to launch into its most robust chapter of first ascents, Cal began to have<br />
    second thoughts about climbing. Over the previous few years Cal had given up his partying ways to follow a Born Again Christian lifestyle. And he had<br />
    recently fallen in love with his fabulous bride, Terry.</p>
<p><img src=Cal Swoager Memorial Fund