chen hu / unsplash.com/@huchenme


A tired old nightclub closes. The good times, the embarrassing times, the cocktail of dreadful smells and the shots of love, lust and friendship – all consigned to hazy, vodka-soaked memories. In its place rises an indoor climbing centre. It was either that or a trampoline park.

I was introduced by a friend currently collecting hobbies like a philatelist collects disdain. I loved it. Then I hated it. Now I like it, I think. Whatever stage I’m in, I certainly respect the craft, the dedication and the thrill of conquering a tricky problem, and I’m not alone, as Phil Daoust discovered in piece 02.

This volume takes the passion incubated in these ex-nightclubs and refitted industrial units and projects it to the most breath-taking locations on earth. We meet Adam Ondra, considered the best climber in the world, and Ashima Shiraishi, a fourteen-year-old vying for that mantle. We explore the famous Yosemite National Park and El Capitan, its crowning glory. We hear stories of falls and near misses, of tough climbs and tougher characters, and get into the mind of Alex Honnold as he relays his 3,000-foot climb without ropes.

Chalk up, squeeze into some climbing shoes that are surely not meant to be that painful and get rocking.


01 / Why I love… Climbing / Sophie Radcliffe / The Guardian / 2014

“Exploring mountains to one’s inner psyche, Sophie Radcliffe describes how the ups and downs of climbing have fascinating parallels with real life”

02 / Climbing has gone from niche sport to worldwide sensation. What is its dizzying appeal? / Phil Daoust / The Guardian / 2018

“In the past few years, people of all ages have taken up indoor climbing, and new centres are springing up across the UK. Why do so many people, young and old, want to spend their free time hanging off a wall?”

03 / VIDEO: Landscape Photography on Location: Behind the Scenes Yosemite Valley Image / Thomas Heaton / YouTube / 2015

“A short behind the scenes video of a photo shoot in Yosemite valley, California. Photographing the 3 Brothers from the middle of the Merced River, with El Capitan being illuminated by the morning light.”

04 / The 25 Greatest Moments in Yosemite Climbing History / Outside / 2016

“The most pivotal climbing moments in Yosemite’s storied history, from some of climbing’s most celebrated athletes and voices”

05 / The Wall Dancer / Nick Paumgarten / The New Yorker / 2016

“Ashima Shiraishi’s route to the top.”

06 / Jim Bridwell, Founder of YOSAR and Big-Wall Godfather, Dead at 73 / Duane Raleigh / Rock and Ice / 2018

“On February 16, Jim “The Bird” Bridwell, captain of numerous El Cap voyages of physical and psychological expansion, inventor, writer, thinker and fashion setter died of complications from hepatitis C. He was 73.”

07 / VIDEO: Silence / Adam Ondra / YouTube / 2018

“What it takes to climb the world’s first 9c? Let’s find out in Silence, a movie by Bernardo Giménez. It shows what preceded the afternoon of September 3, 2017 when Adam Ondra, a professional rock climber and currently one of the best climbers in the world, made a little piece of climbing history when he climbed his project in the spectacular Hanshelleren Cave in Norway. The route, later named Silence, received a new grade of 9c and became the hardest route in the world.”

08 / Unclimbable / Eva Holland / SB Nation / 2015

“I was in love with the Cirque. I loved the way wisps of fog raced across the face of East Huey, the mountain that watched us from across the meadow. I loved passing a flask around in Kitchen Cave, and the way a lithe, barely-seen ermine lurked in the shadows waiting for us to abandon a scrap of food.”

09 / The Lives They Lived: Royal Robbins / Daniel Duane / The New York Times

“He erased his rival in a battle for the soul of climbing.”

10 / Day of the Dagger / Derek Franz / Rock and Ice / 2018

“The difference between luck and misfortune is as thin as a crack in the ice.”

11 / 12 Climbing Photos That Will Take Your Breath Away / Richard S. Chang / Red Bull / 2014

“They look like ants, but they’re actually climbers on some of the most gorgeous places on Earth.”

12 / VIDEO: How I climbed a 3,000-foot vertical cliff — without ropes | Alex Honnold / TED / 2018

“Imagine being by yourself in the dead center of a 3,000-foot vertical cliff — without a rope to catch you if you fall. For professional rock climber Alex Honnold, this dizzying scene marked the culmination of a decade-long dream. In a hair-raising talk, he tells the story of how he summited Yosemite’s El Capitan, completing one of the most dangerous free solo climbs ever.”

13 / Warning Signs That Your Partner Is Getting Into Rock Climbing, and How to Cope / Jason Hayes / The New Yorker / 2018

“The very first warning signs that your partner is getting into rock climbing can be hard to spot. It may start with an innocent-seeming invitation from a friend at work. Don’t take this lightly. You won’t be able to weather this storm like you did with the recent dance-based workout craze, or the obsession with those really short running shorts.”