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Dispatches : Climbing

Black Diamond Acquires POC

Black Diamond, maker of climbing gear, headlamps, skis, poles, packs, and more, announced today that it's adding adventure sports protective gear to its long list of exceptional offerings by acquiring POC.

“POC and Black Diamond were both founded as solutions-based companies, focused on providing unmatched personal protection for active outdoor athletes,” said Peter Metcalf, president and CEO of Black Diamond, in a press release. “We believe POC is one of the most innovative, fastest-growing and hottest brands in action sports protective gear today and a strong strategic addition to the Black Diamond platform.

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The Top 5 Areas for Bouldering in Ireland


Last week, while trolling through adventure videos, I came across a short of two guys bouldering in Ireland. It was a simple, effective edit: the rock was wet, the valley was green and bracken, the guys kept finding beautiful, big, dark rocks to climb. It inspired me to abandon my search for early morning news and type “bouldering Ireland” into Google. A site named The Short Span showed up in the first two spots. I clicked. There were videos, of “Ireland’s Strongest Dad,” of “The Beast from the East” and “The Wiener from the West,” and of the 2012 Gap of Dunloe Climbing Meet. There were forums and an archive of posts packed with data on remote Irish climbing locales.

Most of the posts were written by Dave Flanagan. He included pictures and detailed tips about where and when to climb. I eventually emailed Flanagan with a few questions, including why and when he started the site.

I just wanted to share information about the great bouldering I had found. The site started in 2000, I think. No one ever asks me where the name came from, I think they assume it’s related to bouldering, but it actually is a reference to a poem by a British climber and writer Geoffrey Winthrop Young.

 “In this short span between my fingertips and the smooth edge and these tense feet cramped to a crystal ledge, I hold the life of a man.”

 Stirring stuff.

I hadn’t asked the question either, but wished I had. Flanagan also sent his list of the five top bouldering sites in Ireland, which I did ask for. His picks are listed below. If you want to know more, you can check out The Short Span or purchase the e-book version of Bouldering Ireland.

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14-Year-Old Slackliner Storms the Teva Mountain Games

95b5c8ed-838d-42ce-b8a4-2d8ac738b6b1Little ripper, going big: Alex Mason at the Teva Games. Photo: Teva Mountain Games

Competitive slacklining. If that sounds like an oxymoron, you must not have been in Vail this past weekend, when the sport made its debut at the annual Teva Summer Mountain Games. No one brought his A-game more than Alex Mason, a 14-year-old wunderkind from southern California who edged out big-name rivals, including Japan’s Gappai Osug; reigning world champ Michael Payton, 24; and wild man “Sketchy” Andy Lewis, 25, to win Teva’s inaugural Gibbon Games event.

Slacklining, in case you’ve been in a cave for the past year, entails balancing on a narrow, flexible piece of webbing that’s rigged a couple of feet off the ground between trees or other stable anchors. It was born in the 1970s, when bored climbers in cut-off jeans and weeks-old beards, looking for something to do on their days off, tied their climbing ropes between trees in Yosemite Valley and tried to walk them without falling off. Since then, it has evolved from a dirtbag’s fringe hobby into, well, a flashy halftime show at the Super Bowl (see Andy Lewis’s performance with Madonna earlier this year) and the extreme sport of choice on late-night talk shows (check out Mason on Conan O’Brien and Payton on Carson Daly). Athletes now wow crowds with freestyle jumps, acrobatic flips, and tricks, not to mention sheer vertical: High liners like Lewis and Dean Potter routinely rig their lines hundreds of feet off the deck. 

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Chris Sharma Reflects on His Early Climbing Days, Future Projects

Sharma_close_crop_may2012_interviewChris Sharma. Photo: Mary Catherine O'Connor

As we've reported before, California's state parks are in the midst of a crisis that could result in many of them closing on July 1. While the initial list contained 70 parks, many of these have received at least temporary reprieves thanks to infusions of cash from concerned third parties. Others, such as China Camp in San Rafael, are still hoping they can keep their gates open.

Castle Rock State Park, near Santa Cruz, is very close to being spared a July 1 closure thanks to an infusion of $250,000 from the Sempervirens Fund, a land trust organization based in Los Altos, California. The reprieve, which would only mean funding the park for one year and is therefore far from a permanent solution, is just a signature away from being official, says the fund's director Reed Holderman.

Castle Rock also happens to hold a special place in the heart of one of the world's most revered sport climbers, Chris Sharma. A Santa Cruz native, Sharma established many bouldering routes throughout Castle Rock. It was his first outdoor climbing spot. To help drum up support for the park, Sharma traveled to the Bay Area to give four slideshow talks over two days at Clif Bar headquarters in Emeryville and at the Rio Theater in Santa Cruz.

The night he kicked off the short slideshow tour, Adventure Ethics spoke to Sharma about the influence Castle Rock had on his early career and how it rates on a global scale.

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Eleven-Year-Old Crusher Ashima Shiraishi on Climbing in the Olympics

Even if you don't follow climbing, you may have heard of Ashima Shiraishi, the 11-year-old boulderer who graced the front page of the New York Times' sports section earlier this month. In March, the New Yorker became just the third woman—and the youngest by more than a decade—to climb a consensus V13 boulder problem when she sent Crown of Aragorn in Hueco Tanks, Texas. A movie about her exploits, Obe and Ashima, premiered at the Reel Rock Film Tour last year, and has traveled with the Banff Mountain Film Festival. We caught up with her between trips in New York City to find out where she thinks the sport is headed.

What do you think the future of climbing's going to be like?
I think climbing would be a really good sport for the Olympics. They're going to pick a sport because baseball got kicked out, so climbing might be the one. They're also thinking of putting skateboarding in the Olympics, but I think climbing would be better because it's a sport that a lot of people like around the world, especially in Europe.

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Apr 19, 2014

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