Thursday, June 16, 2011

Yosemite’s Superclimbers – Mark Jenkins

Rating: *****

When the Outdoor Ed. Classes went to the Coyote Rock Gym, we were attached to harnesses and ropes, and there were piles of soft mats on the floor just in case. Even so, it was hard, right. Now imagine doing it with no ropes, harnesses, mats, hard hats, and 2 000 feet up a vertical granite face. Because that’s exactly what climbers are doing in Yosemite Park, California, U.S.A.

In Yosemite Park, there is an immense granite stone called El Capitan that stands 2 916 feet tall. It has been where climbers go to prove and test themselves for decades, creating new routes and setting speed record for climbing old ones. When the author was there climbing in the 70’s, climbing was about adventure and athletics. Today, it’s about speed, and do be able to climb fast, you need to be super fit, and virtually more flexible than a professional gymnast. In fact, on man in the article climbed up a sheer face of granite 2 130 feet high in two hours and fifty minutes. The article covers several of the routes up El Capitan, and the efforts made by those who attempt to free solo (climbing without ropes, and falling is fatal).

This is an incredible article. It tells many stories, about the author when he was there, people climbing there today, and how the sport of rock climbing has evolved. The pictures are astounding, often taken from the vertical rock face, and it makes one want to go climbing again. Just don’t fall, and don't free solo until you're ready.

Jenkins, Mark. “Yosemite’s Superclimber’s.” National Geographic, 219.5 (May 2011): 98 – 117. Print.

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