False Summit

A famed Texas climbing route gets cloned indoors

Shermakaye Bass

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LAST MAY, TEXAN John Wallace, 31, founder of the Austin Rock Gym, unveiled The Feather, the country’s first indoor scale replica of a natural climbing route. The 12-by-20-foot climbable sculpture, constructed by McKinney, Texas, artist Johnny Edwards, 31, faithfully re-creates the real Feather, a V11 bouldering route in Hueco Tanks Historic Site, a winter climbing spot outside El Paso that restricted access to guided climbers four years ago.

To create the faux Feather, Wallace and Edwards journeyed to Hueco to measure every crimper and overhang on the boulder. Then Edwards spent three weeks hand-sculpting its concrete-and-fiberglass surface. The double looks, feels, and climbs like the real McCoy. “The holds are bigger,” says Clayton Reagan, 23, who has topped the original. “But the movement is the same as The Feather.” Wall jocks can’t get enough of the sculpture, and Wallace plans to build another—something from Yosemite or climbing mecca Fontainebleau, France—in the near future.

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