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How Craig DeMartino Became a Climber

When I started climbing 30 years ago, all I wanted was to BE a climber. I wanted to be strong in every climbing discipline: trad, sport, big wall, ice, and bouldering. I wanted to be able to move seamlessly between them and practice those arts at the highest level I could. After doing it for 15 years, I was pretty solid in the arts. Then one day I wasn’t.

They call them accidents for a reason. Not one person to really blame, really just a bunch of small, insignificant actions that resulted in a catastrophic failure that got me to a hospital bed clinging to life after a 100 foot ground fall. After surviving the fall and following days in the ICU and orthopedic care, my life went from one of action to one of reaction. My movement was stifled. For the next year I would react to what doctors told me and make a design on how to best “save” what I had left. They fused my spine in the Lumbar region, my neck at the C5/6 level, and finally, I found myself back in the hospital to amputate my right leg. A reaction to the fact I couldn’t walk without a cast. The reality was that climbing and my life would never be the same with the limb I had left. After the surgery, I fought to find out what was left of my former self. I loved my wife and kids and that would never change, but being a climber was a huge part of WHO I was and it seemed I was back to square one.

I was back to wanting to BE a climber, so that’s what I put my mind to. With the help of my wife and friends, I began to build back the climber and person I was before. The setbacks and fear were huge. Most times I climbed I wanted to quit and find something new. But if you climb for a while it becomes part of who you are and what you are. It’s very hard to ignore. For me it was like denying my DNA.

The first climbs were small, but I kept moving. Movement was what felt best. Even 15 years later, sitting still makes me stiffen and have trouble moving. As the climbs got harder, so did my adjustment to my new body. My windows of opportunity were small, so I pushed hard and tried to capitalize on them. This left me completely destroyed and needing rest and recovery. Improvements came slowly, but four years after the accident I found myself climbing El Cap in under a day and actually feeling like a climber again.

As with any journey, this one was not without its setbacks. Stump infections from a shower fall kept me in and out of the hospital for months last year. It cut into my crag time as you can imagine, but through it all, my wife Cyn and I would load the van, hit the road, and keep moving.

I’ve been really lucky to climb some amazing routes first as a disabled climber, to team up with other adaptive athletes and climb El Cap unsupported, and have strong finishes in the adaptive competition scene over the years. Through it all, the idea of being a climber is what keeps me going. Today, I remember my friends and partners much more than I do the routes and comp results. To be honest, I remember very few of my podium finishes, they are fleeting moments in time. Cyn keeps a record of her proud sends, and I often don’t even remember if I DID a route. But I DO remember the climbers I’m with. The connections I’ve made over the years with other climbers and places are what drives me forward. It’s the act of being in a space where everyone understands what you are talking about, where living in a car for a period of time is normal, where being a climber is what everyone is trying to do.

Getting hurt so badly ended up being one of the best things to ever happen to me. It’s changed how I live, work, and play. In short, I wouldn’t trade it or give it back for anything. It has taught me that there is more than me in this world. It has taught me to help others and stay humble. Its shown me the depth a relationship can have. It’s made me a better human by crushing the old one.

It’s what made me a climber.

Meet Mundaka: USA Launch Tour

Meet Mundaka, Tenaya’s most sensitive down-turned shoe ever. The Mundaka’s meticulous construction combines an aggressive split-sole to maximize sensitivity and 3.5mm Vibram XS Grip rubber to maintain ample edging power. Tenaya’s patented Draxtor lacing system uses four tension points to ensure a cohesive fit while preventing nagging hot spots and a sock liner creates a glove-like fit right out of the box.



Mundaka On Tour

Want to try on a pair? We’re taking the Mundaka on tour this fall. Stop by one of our tour stops or your local outdoor retailer to get your first look at our newest creation!



Sending Spree: Drew Ruana takes on The New

 

Wow. I can truly say that the New River Gorge was one of the most beautiful areas I’ve ever been to. I feel so blessed to have opportunities to visit special places like these. My dad had learned to climb at the New; he had always talked about it to me, telling me I needed to go there sometime with him. Until I actually went, it was hard to visualize just how stunning the area is- not just the climbing. The wildlife, the scenery, everything about this area is just beautiful. Day one back home, and I already can’t wait to go back.

 

Before I got here, I didn’t really have specific goals. I wanted to play around on some hard stuff, but when I got off the plane on the first day and got to the wall, all I wanted to do was climb. Climb climb climb. I decided that I would have a much more rewarding and fulfilling trip if I did more mileage- so I did that. I think I averaged around 9 pitches a day? Something like that. Most of them new routes, and in new areas. I managed to send 20 new 5.13 routes, and 4 5.14s in my 6 days of climbing there.

A couple of the routes I tried stood out to me. I know I’ll remember them for the rest of my life. One of them was Puppy Chow, 5.12c- I don’t think I’ve ever had as much fun climbing on a route as I did on that. If you’re in the area, get on the route. I don’t care how hard you do or don’t climb- it is 100,000,000% recommended. Also in that area is Mango Tango. This route is the most strikingly beautiful arete I’ve ever seen. It looks and climbs like pure artwork. Although a bit cryptic, figuring out the beta and sending was one of the most memorable climbs of my life.

The thing is that trips like these aren’t just about the climbing. They are made great by the people you’re with. Piper, Miriam, Quinn, and Laura were one of the best crews I’ve ever climbed with.

I met a bunch of my dad’s old climbing buddies, which was cool to see who he grew up with. The local vibes there are awesome – shoutout to pies and pints, the pizza and atmosphere is rad there.

Special thanks to Michael Williams for being the sickest guide/guru around. Can’t wait for another trip like this!

Here’s my ticklist for this trip:
5.14b
Still Life 2nd go
Journeyman 3rd go

5.14a
Mango Tango 2nd go
Sword of Damocles 4th go

5.13d
Natural Progression 2nd go

5.13c
The Project OS
In the Flat Field 2nd go
Satanic Verses 2nd go

5.13b/c
B.C. 2nd go

5.13b
The Racist 2nd go
The Pod FL
Crossing the Line OS
SR-71 OS
Against the Grain OS
White Lighting OS
Fuel Injector OS

5.13a
Quinsana plus FL
Apollo Reed OS
El Chapo FL
B-52 OS
Massacre OS
Skull Fuck Direct Finish OS
Mighty Dog FL
Next Time OS

Photos by Trevor Blanning

VOLUNTARY PRODUCT RECALL: Vergo Belay Device

VOLUNTARY RECALL NOTICE
VERGO BELAY DEVICE
BATCH NUMBERS 16159 AND 16195

14 April 2017 –  Trango has elected to voluntarily recall all Trango Vergo belay devices in batch numbers 16159 and 16195 that were sold after 1 October 2016. Please IMMEDIATELY cease use of all such Vergos and return them to Trango for replacement as described below.

Background
Trango has recently discovered that the handles on some Vergo belay devices may have loosened to allow lateral wobble or movement of the handle. If excessive downward force is exerted on a handle subject to lateral movement, the handle may over-rotate onto the front plate, preventing the front plate from moving freely, and impairing the device’s assisted braking capacity. If the handle over rotates as described above, the assisted braking function is impaired or disabled, and the risk of uncontrolled descent increases significantly.

Proper use of the Vergo, however, never requires the handle to move forward and over rotate onto the front plate.

As of 14 April 2017, Trango has received two reports of this issue occurring. No injuries have been reported due to this issue.

Identifying the Units
The units affected are in batch numbers 16159 and 16195. You can identify your Vergo’s batch number adjacent to the carabiner hole as shown in the photo below.

The photo below shows a Vergo with the handle improperly over rotated onto the front plate.

Over Rotated Handle shown here

Remedy
After analyzing the issue, Trango has redesigned the Vergo’s handle attachment point and has modified the handle itself to prevent it from over rotating and impairing the free movement of the front plate.

Returning the Units
The recalled Vergos have been sold worldwide. If your device is affected, please email vergorecall@trango.com for further instructions on how to return your Vergo to us or visit http://trango.com/t-product-alerts.aspx for instructions.

Repair or Replacement
Trango will replace your Vergo as quickly as possible and will pay for all shipping costs to recall and return your Vergo back to you.

The safety of our customers is our primary concern. We are sorry for any inconvenience that this may cause. Trango understands that any voluntary recall is inconvenient and we are working hard to ensure that you receive your replacement Vergo as quickly as possible.

The Cutting Edge

As I close in on 500 5.12s, I’ve found that the ones I have left to do at my home crag, the New River Gorge are mostly the HARD ones.  Back in 2001 or 2002, I was a top rope tough guy maxing out at 5.11- or so.  However, my climbing mentor Bob was doing his best to climb every 5.12 in the world.  Despite me not being strong enough, I made a point of getting on EVERY single 5.12 I could.  Looking back, I owe Bob big time for all the marathon belay/ “pull me up” sessions!
I’ve gone back and done just about every of these routes, though one route, “The Cutting Edge” 5.12b at Bubba City has continued to spit me off over the years.   I specifically remember climbing 5.13 one day out there, yet once again, not being able to do the route!  Two weekends ago, it was quite hot and conditions were bad, but I finally worked out the two crux sequences on the route.  I went for a send go but got pumped mid-way through the second crux and blew it. 
 
Climbing Le Grand Fromage V5 at Moore’s Wall.  Boulder is great training for routes!  Photo Greg Loomis
 
This past weekend, though, it felt a lot better.  I used typical “Siege Tactics”, rappelling off the top of the route to hang the draws, brush and chalk the holds, and work the crux moves hanging there.  I extended several draws to make the clips easier and then waited for some clouds. 
The route has open shuts, which was scary for coming top-down.  I leaned over, dropped my rope over them and also clipped a biner to them, then did the reverse pull up on a couple of maybe dead trees.  Because of the open shuts, my rope fell out of one of the shuts, but it stayed in the other and also, my biner stayed.   A little scary though….
My fingers and body remembered what I taught them the previous weekend and I was happy to do the route pretty easily, though I still had to try hard, spending a lot of time between the first and second crux on really small hands, but good feet shaking.  (I was 95-100 percent on all the moves which is always nice.)
About 10+ years ago, Eric Horst re-engineered the route to add a final 5.12- sequence going to the anchors instead of a jaunt up 5.easy slab to a (now dead) tree anchor.  Unfortunately, this part of the route was wet, but “dry enough.”  This ascent made for number 480 5.12s for me. 
Here is some blow-by-blow beta if any of you ever want to try the route.
Cutting Edge starts on an easy scramble up pillar to a small ledge, then immediately launches into a “so-so feet” traverse right on steep jugs to the arete.  A fairly long, but easy move leads to two great incut hand jugs, and an easy clip (but hard bolt to hang.)  This is where it gets serious.  Some smaller edges and a pretty high left foot leads to a slimper left undercling/sidepull.  Unfortunately, there is a roof so the right foot just dangles, but I worked out a right toe hook under the roof to surf up to a pretty bad sloper/edge.  From that, a move left to a good (well better) sloper leads to the next clip and a shake (though a poor one) before the real crux.  
This route really works the left hand and a couple set-up moves lead to a ½ pad sidepull, a nothing smear for the left and a bad right back-step smear (glad to have my Tenaya Iatis.)   From the sidepull you make a long move to a really bad pocket/crimp.  Still about 80 percent on that left hand, walk feet up some and GO HARD again right hand to the better pocket.  Sticking that pocket, you’re out of the woods if you can keep it together.  A couple better feet lead to a good sidepull and clip.  From here, there’s about 30 feet of 5.10+ or easier climbing and essentially a full recovery before launching into the finish.  A hidden pocket on the arete leads left to a good hold, and then another pocket/pinch on the arete with some high feet leads to some pretty bad holds just below the moss covered top.  The anchor clip is easy because the feet are good. 

 

 

 

 

Video: How to Uncoil a New Climbing Rope

Let’s be honest – getting a new rope is glorious. After hours of internet research and nerding out on technical questions like “how many grams per meter?” and “what’s the static elongation?”, you came to decisions on diameter, dry treatment, length, and color. Now all you have to do is unpack this beauty and whip off of your pending project.  Before flaking out your new rope and knotting it into 70 meters of Rubik’s Cube frustration, take a deep breath. Uncoiling your new rope correctly can save you hours of untangling and heartache. Let us explain…

When the rope is ready for packaging, it is coiled torsion free and neutral to give you a head start on maintaining a twist-free rope. Uncoiling your new rope properly will maintain this neutral positioning and minimize the amount of twisting introduced. To do this, you will need to reverse the factory coiling process. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  • Remove any packaging being careful not to damage the rope
  • Unwrap the outer rope end from the coil and place your arms through the center of the coil
  • Rotate your arms over each other repeatedly as the outer end that you already unwrapped begins to flake into a pile
  • Take your time to prevent the inner end of the rope from coming out of the coil or wrapping around your arm
  • Once the rope is completely uncoiled, flake it from end to end to remove any twists that may have found their way in

Now your rope is ready for action. Once you have begun to use the rope, we recommend using a rope bag or foldable rope tarp instead of coiling your rope after each use.

Techmaster Tip:  When uncoiling your rope, toss the rope ends and middle (clearly marked on Trango ropes) to the side. This makes it easy to flake the rope from the middle to each end so none of the twists have to travel more than half the rope length.

Making History at the Red River Gorge

Dan Brayack climbs at the Motherlode. Photo: Lena Moinova

Reason to Celebrate

We are celebrating a huge victory in climbing access at the Red River Gorge in Kentucky as the Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition and the Access Fund have finalized the purchase of the Bald Rock Recreational Preserve. This is an incredible milestone for climbing access at the RRG and adds another 102 acres to the 1,000+ acres of land that the RRGCC has preserved over the past decade.  Climbing access and stewardship are an integral part of Trango’s mission, so we have committed significant financial support to help ensure the long-term success of this project. Part of this commitment includes a sizable gear donation to fuel the campaign and provide donation incentives.

(read the Access Fund press release)

The preserve was secured through a Climbing Conservation Loan from the Access Fund and includes world class crags like the Motherlode, the Chocolate Factory, Bear’s Den, and Unlode. This project could not have been accomplished without the tireless efforts of these two organizations and the ongoing support of the climbing community (that’s where you come in!).

Tyler Yarbrough climbs “Snooker” at the Motherlode. Photo: Joe Segretti

You Can Help! “Own History” in the Red River Gorge

Access to this area is preserved, but the RRGCC needs your support to help pay off this $225,000 loan and keep the area secured long-term. The first year of the loan is interest free and provides the best opportunity to make significant headway. In addition to financial support, Trango has donated gear to encourage climbers like you to donate to the cause.

To support this project, visit the RRGCC website and make a donation or share this post to help create awareness for the cause.

Donate Now

 

Climbing access has been (and continues to be) a critical element of the american climbing landscape. Over the years we’ve learned that we should jump at any opportunity to help promote positive access relationships and to preserve access for future generations. We are excited for this opportunity to live out this part of our mission by partnering with our long-time friends at the Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition and the Access Fund to secure one of the most iconic crags in the country.

 

 

The vision for the Trango athlete team is to find climbers who embody our brand’s values and support them in their climbing endeavors. We focus on the character of the climber, their passion for the sport, and their desire to contribute to the community.

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