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Allez: The Top 10 Essential Terms Every Climber Should Know

The Top 10 Essential Terms Every Climber Should Know  By Matt Samet Author of the Climbing Dictionary   Photo Credit: Chris Weidner In climbing, communication is everything. We need to know, at all times, what our partner is doing, whether she’s on the sharp end, up at an anchor getting ready to lower, or above us on a multi-pitch climb preparing to belay us up. Miscommunication can cause and certainly has caused accidents, including fatal ones, all preventable had there been a clear conversation about ropework and logistics on the ground, or had the climber and belayer been in better communication on the rock, including using concise, agreed-upon commands. The longer I’ve climbed, the more I’ve noticed drift from the tried-and-true...

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Allez: Five ways to deal with a high-fear climbing day

“Feel the fear, do it anyway.” — Some non-climber, who was wrong We climbers are familiar with “high-gravity days,” when it feels like the earth is exerting extra pull and we climb so poorly it’s laughable, slipping off jugs and flailing on moves we should hike. Less acknowledged are the dreaded “high-fear days,” when the body is willing but the mind wants to have nothing to do with climbing, and so screams at the body to return to the earth. Sometimes it’s because we’re stressed about life stuff or slept poorly or are rusty after a prolonged winter in the gym, and sometimes the fear just comes on at random. Rarely do these high-fear days have anything to do with...

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Monday by Mateo: Mr. Midwest

Here, Jane Jackson and Eric Bissell ply their skills on the lower pitches of Mr. Midwest (5.13b; 14 pitches) on El Capitan, Yosemite, a couple weeks after Eric and Cameron King finished the climb’s first free ascent. Consider that the first ascent of this massive (3,000-foot) monolith took 45 days way back in 1957 and 1958; now consider that the same climb, the Nose, has been done in less than two hours. Meanwhile, a host of extremely difficult free climbs like Mr. Midwest make their way up El Cap’s massive flanks, requiring a cool head, a deep bag of contortionist’s tricks for taming the slick, geometrically planed granite, and calves of steel for standing on the world’s tiniest footholds. 

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Monday by Mateo: Rusty Relics

Ever clipped a piece of rusty fixed gear you were sure was older than you—or your parents or your grandparents—and climbed past it with a shudder? Our cliffs are a living museum, which has its upsides and its downsides. Upside: You may very well clip a piton that one of the legends, like Fritz Wiessner or Royal Robbins, placed by hand in a crack decades ago. Downside: That piton has been exposed to the elements all this time, and you have no idea how corroded, bent, or friable it is because all you can see is its grim, old eye staring back pitilessly. You can certainly guess at how reliable the piece is, or better yet, back it up. But...

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Monday by Mateo: Tramway

The desert around Palm Springs, California does not scream “climbing”—it’s flat, hot, hot, hot, and flat. But hard above town rear the San Jacinto Mountains, an alpine wonderland of pine trees and granite blocks. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramways take you from the desert floor at 2,600 feet to a mountaintop at 8,500 feet. It can be 110 degrees when you embark and 70 degrees when you debark. The Tramway bouldering is a maze of white and grey jumbled blocks, coated in eye-catching green and black lichen. It’s easy to get turned around here, especially if you stay late for some night bouldering, so be sure to leave a trail of breadcrumbs or at least chalk so you can find...

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