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Dispatches : Climbing

The World's Hardest Rock Climb Goes Down

The world's first 5.15c route is here—and it's not in Spain. Adam Ondra pushed the grade scale a little higher this morning when he sent his project Change, a severely-overhanging 180-foot sport line in Norway's Flatanger Cave for which he's proposed the highest grade ever given to a route. If the rating sticks—and it likely will, based on Ondra's track record—it will be the hardest rock climb in the history of the sport.

As recently as last week, Ondra's chances of pulling off the send seemed slim. The weather around Flatanger was gloomy, and Change was wet enough that filmmaker Petr Pavlicek, who's been traveling with Ondra, said that trying to scale it was "more swimming than climbing." Ondra, 19, made it as far as the last crux before falling near the finish.

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Expedition Watch: Climbing Makalu

320140258_2129fb2129_bMakalu. Photo: Ben Tubby/Flickr

Mountaineer and journalist Billi Bierling drops a pretty impressive list of names while witing about her attempt to climb Makalu, the world's fifth highest mountain. She regularly assists Elizabeth Hawley, the high priestess of Himalayan record keeping. She often writes expedition newsletters for Himex leader Russell Brice. She is friends with a pretty famous triathlete, whose name she lets loose in the middle of a revelation about high-altitude hydration and excretion:

"Drinking, however, is a different story and those who know me also know that my daily fluid intake is way below average. My friend Chrissie Wellington used to call me a camel when we were biking from the Tibetan capital Lhasa to Kathmandu six years ago. And things haven’t changed since then, which of course poses a real problem for me up high. I don’t know how much I managed to drink up there but I am still feeling dizzy 24 hours after my return to base camp and despite drinking regularly all day, I have only peed once."

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Summits Made on Manaslu

6344830076_219ef21c8f_bManaslu. Photo: Switchback Travel/Flickr

Multiple expeditions reported Monday that they summited Manaslu. The successful bids come a little more than a week after an avalanche swept through Camp III and left at least 11 dead or missing. Earlier today, Mountain Professionals posted a dispatch—"From Camp IV, with our boots still on and probably looking a bit rough at this point with crazy things still frozen to our beards, noses, and who knows where else"—that said everyone on their team reached the summit. Altitude Junkies said that one climber and two sherpas did not make the final push this past weekend, but that 15 others did bag the 26,759-foot peak.

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Mugs Stump Award Applications Now Being Accepted

Climbers looking for funding help on fast and light alpine expeditions can now apply for a Mugs Stump Award. This year's winners will receive a portion of $25,000 in total funding. The grants will go to "individuals and teams whose proposed climbs present an outstanding challenge—a first ascent, significant repeat or first alpine-style ascent—with special emphasis placed on climbers leaving no trace of their passage."

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Wild Things: Heritage Brand Adds Option to Customize Gear

Andinista

Wild Things was founded 31 years ago to provide alpine climbing apparel and hardware for the world’s most extreme expeditions. The co-founder, Chamonix-born Marie Meunier, wore Wild Things on the first ascent of the South Face of Chacraraju, Peru, in 1977 with John Bouchard. Mugs Stump used Wild Things gear on his first ascents of the east face of the Mooses Tooth, Alaska, in 1981 and the Moonflower Buttress, Mount Hunter, Alaska, in 1981.

Back then, it was one of the only games in town. But even last year, when there were a number of competitors athletes could choose from, Wild Things was at the summit when Mark Richey, Steve Swenson, and Freddie Wilkinson topped Saser Kangri in India, and it accompanied Will Steger on Arctic and Antarctic crossings, including the first international trans-Antarctica dog-sled crossing and the first dog-sled journey to the North Pole without resupply.

The brand is known for being dependable in the most extreme conditions—conditions where if your gear fails you could die. It’s made by extreme athletes for extreme athletes.

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