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Pace

Choosing your first pair of climbing shoes? Ready to upgrade? Brush up on profile shapes, asymmetric curvature, linings, and closure types to figure out which shoe is right for you. Profile Shape Climbing shoe profiles range from a flat position to an aggressive claw-like downturn, with many models falling somewhere in between. These differences reflect the style of climbing for which they are intended. From bouldering in the gym to freeing every pitch of a Yosemite big wall, the right pair of shoes can really make a difference. Flat Profile Shape A flatter profile shape allows your foot to rest [...]

Bill Porreca

Bill Porreca, an Expert Gearhead at Backcountry.com, has not only been climbing for years, but he has also built ziplines around the country. He understands the importance of safety, to say the least. Here he shares a few tips for selecting a climbing helmet. Climbing can be one of the most rewarding experiences out there. Obviously, there are inherent risks and as climbers we should take every measure to reduce them. Wearing a helmet is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself before you even tie into the rope. I wouldn’t consider climbing without a helmet, in this case [...]

Andrew Bisharat

Climbing tastes are as subjective and whimsical as tastes in love, poetry, and music, so to say that there are five best routes—of any style—is completely ridiculous. Still, I would argue that there’s a set of values that contribute to a climb’s overall quality. Those values are: Position: Where the climb is located. Is it set amid a pristine wilderness, a humid jungle, or next to a major highway? Exposure: How much air you “feel” beneath you? Quality of rock: Are you grabbing iron-hard rock, or are you ripping choss holds off the wall every third move? History: Was the [...]

Bill Porreca

Rock climbing is one of the most exciting ways to get out and experience the vertical world. There are many forms of climbing; sport climbing involves using pre-drilled and set expansion bolts for the primary means of protection. Backcountry Expert Gearhead Bill Porreca shares a few tips on selecting the perfect kit to get you out onto the crag. Climbing is a great way to exercise or physically challenge yourself. I guarantee a day of sport climbing is just as tough as hitting the local gym. Aside from being physically demanding, it also pushes you mentally, both in problem-solving and [...]

Ben Rabinowitz

For most people, the appeal of roped rock climbing is readily apparent—long lines, flashy gear, and the thrill of exposure. While roped climbing can be great fun, it’s not the only way to have a good time on rock. Bouldering, while related to roped climbing, is almost a completely different sport. Backcountry Expert Gearhead Ben Rabinowitz breaks down what you need to get started. Bouldering is a great introduction to climbing—it’s social, low to the ground, and presents both mental and physical challenges. So what exactly is bouldering? It’s literally climbing on boulders or other outcroppings, generally around ten feet [...]

Andrew Bisharat

If you’re going to be a rock climber, you don’t necessarily need to know how to tie your shoes (as long as you wear Velcro slippers), but there are seven essential knots you’ll want to know. There are dozens of knots that might be worth learning as a climber, but for the most part, you can get up and down any climb on Earth with just these basic, essential knots—The Figure-8 Retraced, Girth Hitch, Clove Hitch, Munter Hitch, Double Fisherman’s, Prusik and Euro Death Knot. Know them, learn them, and practice them until you can tie them in your sleep. [...]

steph davis

With nearly two decades of hard free ascents, free solos, and mind-boggling BASE jumps under her belt, it’s clear that Backcountry athlete Steph Davis knows her stuff. The Backcountry video crew caught up with Steph for a day of world-class crack climbing and the chance to learn from a true master in Utah’s renowned Indian Creek. Learn from Steph as she explains the different types of climbing ropes and the situations that each rope is best suited for. The Basics: Static or Dynamic With ropes you basically have two options: static ropes and dynamic ropes. Dynamic ropes stretch. Static ropes [...]

Stephanie Nitsch

The difference between backcountry skiing/splitboarding and ski/splitboard mountaineering is somewhat ambiguous. Navigating glacial terrain, however, is one activity that sets them apart, and which requires a new level of technical knowledge beyond your usual backcountry skill set. Last year, I took an introductory ski and splitboard mountaineering course through the SheJumps non-profit organization. My instructors, Diny Harrison (the first North American female guide to be certified by the IFMGA) and Kate Devine (a recently certified ACMG ski guide), imparted valuable glacier travel tips for aspiring ski mountaineers, the essence of which is captured below. Risk Management As in ‘regular’ backcountry [...]

Adam Riser

Staying warm is the key to having fun in freezing temps. Here’s a breakdown of the two basic types of insulation and the kinds of jackets they insulate. Down vs. Synthetic The overriding principle at work in insulated jackets (and sleeping bags, mittens, or any other insulated apparel) is the same: air is trapped in the small spaces between the filaments of down or strands of polyester, providing warmth in cold conditions. Loftier (or puffier, if you will) materials consist of more air, and offer a greater warmth-to-weight ratio. Overall, down is lighter, more compressible, and longer-lasting than synthetic insulation. [...]

Stephanie Nitsch

Combine all your gear for backcountry skiing or splitboarding with the basic essentials of rock climbing, and you’ll have a fairly comprehensive equipment list for tackling ski mountaineering expeditions. Aside from the mandatory outdoor essentials like avalanche safety gear, extra layers, water, food, and sun protection, here are the bare bones of what to bring on an alpine ski climb. And though it goes without saying, don’t just acquire all the gear—know how to use it. Equipment alone won’t do you or your partners any good, but sound experience and skill will. Photos by Abby Stanford Harness Lightweight, mountaineering-specific harnesses [...]

Pace

This is a story about a man and his cat, but mostly the cat. Since Millie’s story debuted on Backcountry last May under the title, “My Climbing Partner Eats Chicken Liver,” she’s attained celebrity status. Thousands shared her story on social media and continue to follow her adventures, cat food companies are shipping grub to her doorstep, and she’s even had photo ops with internationally renowned publications (which legally, I can’t name prior to their being published). So it was a real pleasure to get out with Millie and her partner Craig to experience the action firsthand. Climbing partnerships require [...]

Pace

If you’ve ever seen deep-water soloing, you know how compelling it can be. Rock climbers dangle free and untethered far above the crashing surf, falling violently into the waves when the stone spits them off. Spaniards invented the sport on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca—a place where orange limestone cliffs jut out over the sea. They called the new climbing style ‘psicobloc,’ and for years I’ve watched video, but I’ve never had a chance to make the trip. Recently, though, I was able to get a taste of what it’s all about at the Utah Olympic Park—conveniently located across the [...]

Andrew Bisharat

Sport climbers fall a lot, and as a result, they wear out their ropes quicker than other types of climbers (who don’t fall multiple times a day). Typically what happens is that ropes will wear out in one particular spot: about three to five feet away from the end of the rope that you are tied into. Why? Because this is the spot on the rope that gets raked across a carabiner gate as a fallen climber winches him- or herself back up to the quickdraw. The rope rakes across the carabiner gate as you pull yourself back up and [...]

Andrew Bisharat

Few sport-climbing areas are surrounded by as much myth, mystique and ill-repute as Rifle Mountain Park in Rifle, Colorado. Rifle is often called the prototypical sport-climbing “scene,” replete with perma-draws, bro-brahs, radsters, spray lords, sandbags, grade-boasting, grade-debating, down-grading and more beta-beta-beta than a Greek fraternity. The truth is, many of those impressions and stereotypes are actually true. But once you can get past the scenesters, you will find not only a warm, genuine, friendly community of devoted sport climbers, but arguably the highest-quality concentration of varied 5.13 rock climbing in the world. Yes, there are plenty of other good routes [...]

Andrew Bisharat

The La Sportiva Miura is an high-performance, do-it-all, “quiver-of-one” climbing shoe that edges really well, but isn’t the most soft or sensitive shoe, especially during its long break-in period. The Miura, aka the “Bananas” as they are affectionally called by aficionados, is built for all angles and rock types. It’s comfort, support and unique, speedy lacing system make this classic shoe appropriate for all types of climbing. Tech Specs Profile Shape: Minimal Downturn Asymmetrical Curvature: High Closure Style: Speed Lacing System UpperFabric: Leather Lined: Yes Sole:  4mm Vibram XS Edge Construction: High tensioned slingshot rand Weight of Size 38: 8.43oz [...]

Lexi D.

Backcountry.com’s online community encompasses a passionate group of wanderers, adventurers, Gearheads, and athletes. Get the rundown on the raddest happenings within the community in You Are Backcountry, your connection to the best product reviews, photos, and videos submitted and uploaded by our athletes, our employees … and you! In this installment of You Are Backcountry we’ve compiled the best community-submitted images of climbing. Climb on! Few things are as exhiliarating as bagging a noteworthy summit. Krista H. and some equally bold women manage to up the ante on the Grand Central Couloir of the Nokhu Crags, in Colorado. “What I love most about [...]

Andrew Bisharat

Europe, the birthplace of climbing, has amazing limestone sport climbing and incredible mountains for mountaineering and alpinism. But what the Lower 48 lack in steep limestone cliff bands and soaring mountain ranges like the Alps, we more than make up for with the best trad cragging in the world. We have Yosemite. We have Eldo. We have Indian Creek and the Utah desert. And we have the Gunks. We would have Squamish, too, if it weren’t for the pesky detail that Squamish is actually located just north of our border in Canada (fortunately, border crossings are pretty mellow, eh?). To [...]

Micah Lewkowitz

The West Buttress route on Denali is a strenuous and time-intensive climb.  Climbers need to be in top physical shape, and have both the mental fortitude and organizational skills that enable them to stay on top of things in the challenging high-altitude mountain environment. They also need to have all the right gear. This summer, I will be guiding two climbs on Denali and have put together a summary of the equipment I will be taking with me (excluding group items and personal food). Climbing Equipment Lightweight Harness You’ll want a mountaineering harness with adjustable leg loops to accommodate your different [...]

Nate Disser

On multi-pitch climbs, you carry a lot of gear with you–cams, nuts, draws, slings, carabiners–and of course, your trusted belay/rappel device. Over the years, I’ve seen people drop gear on climbs more often than you might imagine. What will you do when it happens to you? Dropping your #2 Camalot is a big deal, especially if your route offers up plenty of hand crack, but in most cases you can make do with other gear and plan your protection strategy for each pitch accordingly (if you’re climbing a trad route, that is). Dealing with a dropped cam, nut, or quickdraw [...]

Chris Van Leuven

Picture this: you’re 1,000 feet up El Cap, watching the setting sun with your back to the wall and feet dangling over the edge of your portaledge. In one hand you have a spoon and in the other, a fresh, bruise-free avocado sprinkled with hot sauce. I look forward to these moments – opportunities to indulge in simple culinary delights thousands of feet off the deck overlooking my favorite place on earth. It didn’t start this way. Packing and carrying wall food used to be a heavy, clunky proposition. Back in the ‘90s, when I first started doing walls, all [...]

Andrew Bisharat

Trad climbing is the foundation of our sport—the backbone, scoliotic from humping too many loads, that braces us for run-outs unknown and summits untouched. Trad climbing, and its attendant skill set, is what allows us to get into some of the coolest, raddest places on the planet, whether that’s the flank of El Capitan, the chimney of a lonesome desert tower, or even straight up a rowdy Patagonian spire. For the most part, though, you don’t really need to climb particularly hard to be a trad climber—at least not in the sense that building a textbook three-point anchor requires having [...]

Andrew Bisharat

There are a lot of theories as to what constitutes a proper warm-up for climbing, and it seems as though every person has a different idea about what works best, from jumping jacks to pull-ups on tree limbs to doing the Michael Jackson Thriller dance. I’ve climbed with dudes whose warm-up routines begin at 6 a.m. with 45 minutes of calisthenics, followed by 30 minutes of jogging, followed by coffee, breakfast, and then five pitches of increasing difficulty—all before even trying their project! I’ve also climbed with professional athletes like Chris Sharma and Dave Graham, whose “warm-up” often consist of [...]

Andrew Bisharat

Social media generates mixed feelings, everything from “Like”-happy elation to the sense that we’re enslaved in a post-modern Zuckerbergian dystopia. Regardless of what you think, you have to admit that there are some pretty sweet climbing photos on Instagram these days. It’s hard not to get stoked by shots of rock climbing from around the world; you may even want to join the likes of Chris Sharma (@chris_sharma), Tommy Caldwell (@tommycaldwell), Alex Honnold (@alexhonnold), Steph Davis (@highsteph) and, of course, yours truly (@andrewbisharat), and start posting your own climbing adventures to Instagram. Here’s what you need to know: Know the [...]

Andrew Bisharat

Rock climbing is equal parts mental, physical, and technical. Yet most climbers only focus on the physical. All winter long climbers thrash themselves in the gym, thinking that bouldering, routes, 4x4s and campusing will deliver the sends of their dreams come spring. Of course, all of that stuff helps and climbers who train will see big improvements in fitness. Yet why is it that so many climbers, having trained all winter, still find themselves climbing the same grade outdoors as they were last year? The truth is, for most climbers, especially those of the beginner and intermediate variety, good climbing [...]