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Dispatches : Climbing

A Video Profile 11-Year-Old Climbing Sensation Brooke Raboutou

The profile on Team ABC Boulder of 11-year-old climbing sensation Brooke Raboutou—which was last updated in December 2011—lists more than a few hard-to-grasp facts about the phenom. Raboutou first climbed at the age of one. She began climbing regularly at four or five years of age. Her favorite problem is "Scrawny and Brawny," a V10 in Joe's Valley, Utah. Her goal is to send a V14 and a 5.14c/8c+.

In July 2012 she scaled a little bit closer to her dream, by sending a 5.14b, "Welcome To Tijuana," in Rodellar, Spain. That achievement established her as the youngest person in the world to climb such a difficult grade. (Male climbing prodigy Adam Ondra climbed an 8c at the end of his 11th year, according to climbing blogger Stevie Haston. He has since climbed the world's highest graded route, a 5.15c.)

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The Evolution of Climber Tommy Caldwell

“As a professional climber I like to say that my gift in life is the ability to relentlessly beat my head against a wall. I live by the ethos that if you hit your head hard or long enough, it really feels good when you stop.” —Tommy Caldwell

This past October, 34-year-old climber Tommy Caldwell began hitting his head against El Capitan again. He set out with Jonathan Siegrist to work on a roughly 30-pitch route called The Dawn Wall that he started in 2007. It has seven sections of 5.14 and seven sections of 5.13, and would be one of the world’s hardest big wall routes if completed. In November, Kevin Jorgeson joined the pair. Jorgeson has been working on the route with Caldwell since 2009. On November 15, 2012, Caldwell stopped in the middle of the project, ending at the 13th pitch with characteristic optimism. “Last day on the wall for the season,” he said on Facebook. “Sad to be done, but good progress was made.”

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What's Inside Conrad Anker's Gear Room?

What things does a great climber keep in his gear room? Conrad Anker answers that question in the video embedded above, in which he offers Black Diamond a tour of his basement lair. There's plenty of new climbing equipment, Alex Lowe memorabilia, expedition journals from places like Meru, a carabiner from Mugs Stump, and, well, just watch the video.

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Exclusive: Black Diamond Announces New Technical Apparel

Bd1

You’re reading it here first.

In a few days, Black Diamond Equipment will unveil its new collection of clothing to media and retailers at the Outdoor Retailer Trade show in Salt Lake City, Utah. The clothing has been under development for two years, and you’ll be able to buy it at outdoor specialty shops this coming fall.

Outside pulled Tim Bantle, head of Black Diamond’s clothing team, from the ski slopes at Utah’s Canyons Resort for an exclusive interview on design, philosophy, and why the world needs another outdoor apparel line.

On Black Diamond’s Design process and ethic:
Design. Engineer. Build. Repeat. Black Diamond has been doing this for 55 years. Though really the process starts with use. Field use is the first point of entry into product here. Then we go through design, engineer, build and we’re manically addicted to starting it all over again. It’s iterative over time. You can look back over 50 years at carabineers to see how this has played out in history. In apparel we will see a similar evolutionary path. The “BD-ness” of the process is a guarantee of great apparel to come. Does that mean we’ll redefine silhouette of jacket? No. We didn’t do it with the carabiner.  

On why the world needs another high-end apparel brand:
The narrative of our industry is the movement of equipment brands into apparel over time. This usually takes place early in the lifecycle of the brand. The situation we find ourselves in here at Black Diamond is a bit unusual. We have a legacy reaching back five decades and have built a global business on hardgoods that’s as big or bigger than most existing apparel brands. As we build into apparel, we're simply trying to take everything we've learned in equipment and apply it. We want to build product that matters.   

Patagonia, Marmot, Norrona, Mammut, Arc'teryx, Mountain Hardwear—they all make equipment plus clothing. Nobody has hung onto $130 million of pure equipment sales. Apparel makes those kinds of numbers possible.

One of the brands we admire for balancing hardgoods and softgoods is Burton. What Burton was to snowboarding, Black Diamond has been to alpine climbing, climbing, and backcountry skiing. Burton has developed into a world-class hardgoods and softgoods brand.

I am pretty sure when I bought my first Black Diamond headlamp, Princeton Tec and Petzl were on the shelf too. It was the same with gloves. Black Diamond has done a superb job of grinding out really successful business initiatives, of competing in a space that sometimes seems saturated. I think it’s because we’re engineering-minded outdoor lovers who live at the base of a mountain range.

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2013 Mugs Stump Awards Announced

4988675011_3f8b7fc269_bJuneau climbers Ryan Johnson and Samuel Johnson will attempt Mount Hayes, Alaska. Photo: Glacier Fed/Flickr

The Alpinist and their partners announced the winners of the 2013 Mugs Stump Awards today, offering up $33,500 in grants to nine teams pursuing climbing objectives that exemplify light, fast, and clean alpinism. A quick breakdown of the expeditions is included below, as taken from the Alpinist announcement. We'll cover some of these expeditions as they occur through our "Expedition Watch" posts.

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