climbing

Meet U grad and epic climber, Conrad Anker

I bustle in from my car exactly on time, jogging so I won’t be late. I hop-scotch my way through a snowbank onto the sidewalk and clutch my interview questions as I burst into the hotel lobby. There he is in a baseball cap and a flannel. Conrad Anker, climbing wonder. He is visiting Salt Lake City from his home in Bozeman, MT to deliver the keynote speech at Utah Clean Air’s (UCAIR) Inaugural Annual Report dinner. Anker smiles and waves from across the room as I walk his way. He draws himself up to his entire impressive height and shakes my hand, introducing himself as “Conrad.”

Conrad Anker, I would later learn, loves blueberries and the color turquoise. For the self-proclaimed “voracious reader” to pick a favorite book is to un-favorite all the others (but he still recommends Lao Tzu’s Cold Mountain book of parables to me). Also, he has a sweet-tooth. I start asking him how Conrad the University of Utah student became Conrad the Incredible Climber, and he chuckles. He knew since age 14 that climbing was the most important part of his life, making his decision to come to the U an easy one. “It had mountains on the brochure,” he says. He studied parks, recreation, and tourism to get himself every bit closer to climbing up peaks, cliffs, and ridges.

In college Conrad enjoyed his business case study classes. He took shifts living in a shantytown established in the Student Union to implore the university to divest from an apartheid-riddled South Africa. He was “kind of a nerd,” who liked his pens and science, and “basically an introvert.” Today, representing the North Face and speaking in front of massive crowds is vastly removed from where he wants to be — escaping into the mountains to climb. He surrounds himself with positive people, choosing simply to “let the pessimists go.”

When Conrad was in college, climbing wasn’t as simple as a trip to the Student Life Center Summit wall. It was an extension of backpacking and mountaineering—a means to revel in the outdoors. Still, he’s glad the U.S. now has 600 climbing gyms operating and 400 more in the works, because it means more people are exposed to the intrepid values of climbing that guide Conrad’s life. For him, the sport embodies kindness, positivity, and trust.

Conrad chooses to let traditional measures of success go. He worked as a carpenter after graduation not to bring in the bank rolls or get in front of a camera, but to have more time off for climbing. “My success is defined by my own internal compass, not by what society says,” Conrad says. Climbing isn’t just a sweet gig or a way to escape responsibility. For Conrad, it’s a means to be where he needs to be—outside. Conrad possesses a hyper-situational awareness that tugs his attention during our interview and leads him to feel cooped up just discussing an indoor engineering job. But during high-stress mountain expeditions, this hyper-focus is a necessity. It seems Conrad was made to be outside.

As for the high risk aspect of his feats, Conrad says his drive toward the life-threatening is written into his DNA. This isn’t to say he careens into impetuous adventure at every opportunity. He welcomes the opportunity to reevaluate his life and his trajectory, having done so most recently after surviving a heart attack 10 weeks prior to our meeting. When asked whether he can ever picture himself not climbing, Conrad replies, “Well I’ll always be climbing stairs.” He no longer feels the need to pursue ultra danger treks. Simple climbing and spending time in the mountains are what make him happy. This secure, easy awareness of purpose has brought Conrad through life and around the globe.

c.simon@wasatchmag.com

Photo courtesy of Jimmy Chin
Conrad Anker geared up and climbing near the team’s highest portaledge camp at over 20,000 ft.

33

Read Article

Find Your Pitch, Ice Climbing close to home

Climbers have three options in the winter: drive south, go indoors, or layer up and get on some ice. If you haven’t yet tried option number three, there is still time, the season isn’t over yet. Yes, attaching metal spikes to your feet and holding on by the tip of an ice axe can be a little intimidating, but there are few epic adventures more brag-worthy than standing atop a pillar of ice. Try it once, and you’ll be hooked.

Most people have their baptism by ice at Ouray Ice Park in Colorado: the perfect launch pad for an ice climbing career. The man-made ice is reliable and thick, while in the Wasatch, fluctuating weather patterns and avalanches make route finding a little more fickle.  For those sick of following a Candy Lane trail of colored, chalked-up holds in the gym, put your gloves on instead and try these ice climbing routes.

PROVO CANYON

After driving up this canyon, park at the Bridal Veils parking lot, and you will find another vehicle full of climbers. Accessibility and consistent ice make this place a little crowded, but there is a high concentration of climbs here. Access the famous Stairway to Heaven just off the trail, a multi-pitch climb that can reach up to 10 pitches during a good ice season. The first pitch, lovingly called The Apron because of its width, is easy to set up a top-rope on and do laps. There are a few bolts at the top, so you can hop between routes if you are in a bigger group.

If you keep walking up the trail before turning toward the Stairway area, you will come to the breathtaking Bridal Veil Falls. While it rarely freezes, there are a few fantastic climbs to the right of it. Ice leading experience is required.

LITTLE COTTONWOOD CANYON

You really can’t call yourself an ice climber and live in Utah without climbing the Great White Icicle. It’s a classic multi-pitch easily accessible off the freeway. The views get better and better at the end of each of the four pitches, but don’t get distracted and forget to watch for falling ice. Because of high traffic, you will get hit with ice, so always wear a helmet. Once you’ve done this classic, you might as well hike over to Scruffy Band, a collection of ice dripping off granite slabs. You can switch easily between routes of easy grades.

MAPLE CANYON

When avalanche dangers are high in the Wasatch, Maple Canyon is the perfect alternative. Around every winding cobblestone corner, ice pours into perfect climbing routes. There are several routes accessible off the Main Road, but Box Canyon and Left Fork also reveal hidden treasures. Tennis Shoe Slab is long but sustained, and the intimidating Dagger is just around the corner, suspended over an easy first pitch that has set chains. The Wet Itchies and Bowling Ball Head are a little more steep, but fun if you are ready to push yourself.

JOE’S VALLEY

This famous bouldering destination also has stellar ice in the winter months. The CCC and Donoricicle are both breathtaking pillars of thick ice that just taunt you to climb them. A top rope can easily be set up at the Donoricicle, but leading experience is necessary for the two pitches of the CCC. A plus here is the belayer isn’t stuck with a bad view, the frozen Joe’s Reservoir and surrounding mountainous landscape are visible below.

**If you are going ice climbing in Utah, purchase the detailed guide “Beehive Ice” by Nathan Smith and Andrew Burr. Also, check avalanche conditions prior to the climb and check equipment constantly throughout.

c.webber@wasatchmag.com

40

Read Article

Q&A With Kira Parker

Kira Parker’s Instagram bio says, “I like rocks.” As a solid V8 climber working on V10’s outside, a member of the University of Utah climbing team, and a competitor at last year’s USA Climbing Bouldering Youth Nationals, Kira doesn’t just like rocks — she dominates them. As a freshman majoring in math and computer science, a participant in the Putnam Mathematical Competition and the Mathematical Competition in Modeling, and a Presidential Scholar, she’s dominating her studies as well.

Q: So how did you get involved with climbing?

A: When I lived in Helena [Montana], there was an athletic club and it had a little climbing wall in the racquetball court and I went there when I was in second grade…I liked it! So, I joined a team in Helena that was called the Thunderchickens. I’m still friends with everybody on the team because there were like, three of us.

Q: Why do you think you have such a passion for climbing?

A: Because it’s fun! Because you get to go and try really hard and fall off rocks all day.

Q: How often are you climbing?

A: A lot! I train four or five days a week probably for two or three hours a day. And I go outside most weekends in the fall and spring. I haven’t been outside since November because there’s snow everywhere.

Q: Where do you like to climb around here?

A: In Little Cottonwood Canyon. Or in Joe’s Valley. Or at the [Momentum climbing] gym I guess if there’s snow everywhere.

Q: What’s your favorite piece of gear?

A: My shoes! I wear La Sportiva Muiras generally because they’re really good on granite and they’re not as aggressive. And then when I climb really hard boulders outside or in important competitions, I wear Scarpas.

Q: Has it been hard to balance school with climbing?

A: Yeah, especially now with college. Senior year of high school, I only took four classes in the morning and then I went to Westminster and took math. The second semester I took abstract algebra which is the hardest class at Westminster. But it was only one really hard class so I just did a whole bunch of abstract algebra and then I climbed. But now I have like four hard classes. And last semester I did research, too. I did homework and then climbed when I wasn’t doing homework. But I lived.

Q: Why did you choose the U?

A: I chose the U five days before the deadline of March 1. And I was going to go to the University of Puget Sound but I had a climbing crisis because there’s not enough climbing there! It rains too much. And so then I was going to go to Harvey Mudd College. But then I had another climbing crisis because the gym by Harvey Mudd is not air conditioned. And if you live by Los Angeles, you need air conditioning. So I ended up at the U because it’s free [with my scholarship] and there’s climbing.

Q: What is one of your favorite climbing memories?

A: I did go to South Africa in the summer, which is pretty cool by itself. And hanging out there with a whole bunch of climbers from all over the world, and having people yell at you in different languages as you’re climbing, is just really exciting.

Q: What level are you climbing right now?

A: I’ve climbed four V10’s outside…I usually climb V8. I feel like if I went somewhere and I saw a V8 I wanted to do, I could probably do it. But not always. If there’s dyno’s involved…maybe not.

Q: So what is your favorite kind of problem?

A: Weird ones! I like arêtes a lot. But not if they’re too technical because then I have to use my feet and that’s dumb. I like powerful things. And I like heel hooks. I like things with good holds that are kind of powerful and kind of weird.

c.simon@wasatchmag.com

47

Read Article

Bouldering Competition Tonight

Get ready to send it. Today, students, staff, and faculty at the U are competing in the second annual SENDsations bouldering competition, sponsored by the U’s Outdoor Adventures.
Climbing will begin around 4:30 p.m. and go for about two hours in The Summit, the George S. Eccles Student Life Center’s climbing wall. Competitors can climb as many bouldering problems as they want during that time and will receive points based on the difficulty of the routes they complete- which were all set by the U’s Climbing Team. Judges will choose the top three men and women for the finals, and after the best climbers duke it out, they will announce winners.
With sponsors like Petzl, Black Diamond, CoalaTree, and Deuter, winners (and most participants) can plan to walk away with such gear as chalk bags, t-shirts, and crash pads.
Keith Howells, GA of operations at Outdoor Adventures, said as of this morning, 40 of the 60 spots are taken, and while people can sign up for the competition at the door, he strongly suggests signing up before time online. The entrance fee is $5.
This event is one of two bouldering competitions Outdoor Adventures hosts during the school year. The other is the Dyno Comp during spring semester.
“I think overall these events like SENDsations are an opportunity for the U of U climbing community to get together at The Summit, build each other up as fellow climbers, and have a lot of fun while doing what they love,” Howells said. “For me, there’s no community quite like the climbing community.”


c.webber@wasatchmag.com

Photo courtesy of University of Utah Outdoor Adventures

32

Read Article

Bouldering Routes Damaged by Vandalism

Walking into your home to find the door ripped off its hinges, broken glass covering the floor, and some of your valuables missing would be tragic. For climbers, this was the feeling as they walked up to their favorite bouldering routes in Little Cottonwood Canyon last week.

On Oct. 30, Jimmy Keithley, a local climber, and his children walked up to a project they were working on to find holds smashed off of famous bouldering routes like Twisted [V4] and Lance’s Dihedral [V6]. Ten total boulders were damaged, affecting 20 boulder problems up Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Julia Geisler, executive director of Salt Lake Climber’s Alliance, said vandalism in climbing areas is a recurring problem, and it is becoming more frequent.

“This is part of a greater problem that is happening in Little Cottonwood. Vandalism in general is really high,” she said. “There’s tons of graffiti, trash, and fire rings that we’re constantly cleaning up.”

While these crimes are common, Geisler said this is the first known act of deliberately tampering with bouldering holds. These rocks were likely damaged by a crow bar or hammer.

Geisler and the SLCA do not know who damaged the climbing holds, but they say this does not reflect the normal behavior of climbers, who tend to care for the places they climb.

While changed forever, these climbs are still doable. Some have found these climbs to be even easier. Other vandalism, such as graffiti, makes damage irreversible because the graffiti ruins the friction needed to grip the rock.

That’s why the alliance rallies over 350 climbers to complete 1,000 hours of volunteer work during their Adopt a Crag events, picking up trash and cleaning graffiti off their rocks.

“This is your land. It’s here for all of us to enjoy,” Geisler said. “Make an effort to come out and clean up.” Geisler also suggests that people report vandalism whenever they see it.

This weekend, Salt Lake Climber’s Alliance will host a graffiti removal project. They will meet at the Little Cottonwood Canyon Park and Ride at 9 a.m. on Saturday. All are welcome to attend.

Bouldering Routes affected:

Standard Overhang (V3), Isabelle’s (V5), Superfly (V8), Barfly (V8), Pro Series (V11), Baldy (V5), Smiley Right (V4), Mr. Smiley (V6), Butt Trumpet (V8), Twisted (V4), Copperhead(V10), Lance’s Dihedral (V6), Hug (V8), All Thumbs (V10), and Cronin’s Slab (V2), among others.

Photo courtesy of Tommy Chandler

c.webber@dailyutahchronicle.com

Corrected from: Geisler and other members of the Salt Lake Climber’s Alliance want everyone to know that this was not a climber who damaged these rocks. They are still not sure who did it, but they assume the crime was committed by an unstable individual.

30

Read Article

140 Ways to Climb Maple Canyon

Maple Canyon is one of the most unique climbing destinations in Utah. The texture of the cobblestone rock is like no other place in the state. Just two hours south of Salt Lake, it’s the perfect destination for a weekend stay. With a variety of climbs and numerous locations to explore throughout the canyon, it is a great place to test your ability as a climber.

Climbers can camp near the crags in the huge canyon, but campsites need to be reserved in advance before the end of the season in October. This is the perfect spot for large groups, and amenities like single-family sites, walk-in tent sites, and picnic tables with fire pits make it easy to plan last minute. Ephraim is about 15 minutes south of the canyon, and is great place to stock up on food and supplies before spending time at the crag.

The main attraction of Maple Canyon is the 140 climbing routes ranging from 5.4 up to 5.14. The best places to start would be on Pipeline or Orangutan Wall. Pipeline has a great selection of short but steep routes while Orangutan has a variety of longer climbs. The best time of the year to go is during the summer months and the beginning of the fall. In October and November, it can get cold at night, but this is one of the best times of the year to be outside in Utah as the leaves begin to change and the days aren’t unbearably hot. The majority of the climbs offered in the canyon are single pitch sport routes, but there are a couple of multi-pitch routes. If you don’t get there before the snow comes, don’t sweat it. Maple Canyon also has a variety of ice climbing routes. The best times of the year for ice climbing range from December to the beginning of March. Keep in mind that you will have to skin up or hike to the climbing route as the campsites are closed down during the winter months. The majority of the ice climbs are single pitch, but there are a couple of multi-pitch climbs as well.

Photo courtesy of Lindsay Daniels

Photo courtesy of Lindsay Daniels

If you’re not big into climbing, Maple Canyon itself is stunning enough to go camping for a couple nights to experience its cobblestone cliffs. There are campfire rings, wildlife viewing areas, biking, horseback riding, as well as a couple hikes to explore throughout the canyon. There are three hikes to choose from that range from three to five mile loops branching out from the center of the canyon that feature small caves and waterfalls through the Box Canyon hiking trail. The Maple Canyon Loop trail will be great during the fall season to see the leaves changing because the trail takes you through and out above the canyon and overlooks the valley below.

Whether you are a seasoned climber who has traveled all over the world for climbing or someone who is just looking for a vacation from the Salt Lake Valley, Maple Canyon is definitely a location for your list. Its close proximity to Salt Lake will keep you coming back multiple times a year to experience all that the canyon has to offer.

DIY Trip

DAY 1: The first day is spent packing and getting to Ephraim, Utah, which is the nearest town to Maple Canyon. Pick up all the supplies you need for your stay and anything you might have left at home. You can leave later in the day since the drive only takes a couple hours. Next, make your way back towards the canyon and your campsite.

DAY 2: Today is spent climbing many of the crags the canyon has to offer. I recommend starting out at Orangutan Wall or going to Pipeline.

DAY 3: Today will be a break from climbing and a day spent exploring the rest of the canyon. I recommend hiking on the Maple Canyon Loop. This hike is 5 miles long, so be sure to take your time. There is no need to rush!

DAY 4: Today is spent rock climbing in Box Canyon. These climbs are longer but they offer a couple more challenging aspects such as large overhangs. Plus, the approach through Box Canyon is something you can’t pass up. Today can either be your last day in the canyon, or the next day. It depends on your stamina and how long you are able to keep climbing.

p.creveling@dailyutahchronicle.com

Photos courtesy of Lindsay Daniels

26

Read Article