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Chris Kalman

Book cover: Dammed If You Don't by Chris Kalman, illustrated by Craig Muderlak. $24.99.

An excerpt from Chris Kalman’s award winning book, “Dammed If You Don’t”

Today we’re sharing an excerpt from an award-winning book written by a longtime Alpinist contributor and former intern Chris Kalman and illustrated by Craig Muderlak. “Dammed If You Don’t” is Kalman’s third book and recently won the Mountain Fiction and Poetry category at the annual Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival. Book competition jury member Pete Takeda wrote: “Kalman’s third book asks a very topical question: Can we love a place to death? Kalman answers this question with a spare quality that evokes a bit of James Salter. His portrayal of a lush, pristine Chilean valley is immediate and profound. His writing is peppered with the intimate details that also bring the characters, their foibles, and struggles to life. Their dilemmas soon become our dilemmas. Perhaps the best thing about ‘Dammed If You Don’t’ are the plot twists, building to a final scenario that is plausible, disturbing, and strangely uplifting.”

The route line for Jaume Peiro and Alex Gonzalez' Big Fighter (6c [5.11b/c] A2, 740m) on Chaupi Huanca. [Photo] Alex Gonzalez

Young Spanish team establishes Big Fighter, a 740-meter route on Chaupi Huanca, Peru

Between July 1 and 3, young Spanish climbers Jaume Peiro (20) and Alex Gonzalez (18) made the first ascent of the northwest spur of Chaupi Huanca in the Rurec Valley of the Cordillera Blanca in Peru. They climbed their 740-meter route–Big Fighter–at 6c (5.11b/c) A2, and estimated it would go free at 8a+ (5.13c). Peiro and Gonzalez succeeded on the line that two previous parties (an Argentinean team in 2016, and an Ecuadorian team in 2021) had previously attempted, adding 470 meters to the Ecuadorian team’s high point that was 270 meters up the wall.

Christoph Schranz on the approach to the Kolosseum wall of Hohe Mund in the Tyrolean Alps. [Photo] Johannes Mair / Alpsolut Pictures

Christoph Schranz establishes a 300-meter 8c (5.14b), ground up, in the Tyrolean Alps

On May 8, Christoph Schranz freed Ocha-Schau-Schuich (“Fear of Heights,” in his Tyrolean dialect). It took him 20 days of work spread out over three years to establish the 300-meter, seven-pitch route. He explored the route ground up, as a rope solo, starting in 2018 and then began efforts to free the line starting in 2020, investing 10 attempts with support from partners before succeeding on his 11th attempt this past May. Ocha-Schau-Schuich is protected with a mixture of widely spaced bolts and natural protection, with difficulties up to 8c (5.14b).

Sunset from below Mt. Sill, after Vitaliy Musiyenko stopped early because of 30+ mph winds (Miwok, Mono/Monache, Shoshone and Paiute land). [Photo] Vitaliy Musiyenko

Vitaliy Musiyenko completes 32-mile Goliath Traverse in High Sierra

From August 2 to 10, Vitaliy Musiyenko made the first traverse of Goliath–a linkup of gargantuan proportions along the Sierra Crest, in California’s Sierra Nevada Range. Over the course of eight days Musiyenko covered approximately 32 miles of mostly technical terrain, 80,000 feet of elevation gain, and 60 summits above 13,000 feet, including eight Fourteeners. It may be the longest ridge traverse in the Western Hemisphere.

Justin Guarino

Ryan Driscoll, Justin Guarino and Nick Aiello-Popeo Send The Medusa Face on Mt. Neacola

From April 18-25, 2021, Ryan Driscoll, Justin Guarino and Nick Aiello-Popeo made the first ascent of the north face (or Medusa Face) of Mt. Neacola, in the Neacola Mountains of Alaska’s Aleutian Range. They followed the line of Topher Donahue and Kennan Harvey’s 1995 attempt for the first roughly 3,500 feet, before adding more than 800 vertical feet of new sustained M6 and A2 climbing on decomposing rock. The final six pitches took 12 hours to climb.

Chris Kalman sporting the Acopa JBs on his and Zach Harrison's new route, Pump Drunk (5.12-, 115') in Northern Arizona's Pumphouse Wash (ancestral homelands of Pueblo, Sinagua, Hohokam, Hopi and Western Apache, among others). [Nelson Klein]

Acopa JB: A high-top climbing shoe that competes with the TC Pro

Chris Kalman continues his quest to find the best all-day, all-around climbing shoe. Everyone knows that a certain brand’s TC Pro has set the standard in this category. Can the Acopa JB–named after the climbing legend and late Acopa executive John Bachar–compete? “It’s a toss-up,” Kalman reports. Four stars.

Chris Kalman placing a #6 (purple) DMM Dragonfly on a steep new route in Arizona. [Photo] Nelson Klein

DMM Dragonfly: A pretty good cam, especially for small sizes

The DMM Dragonfly Micro Cams are among the smallest and strongest cams ever made. Chris Kalman tested them on the thin cracks near his home in northern Arizona. He reports that there are some aspects of the design that he absolutely loves, but ultimately he was disappointed with the narrow size range of the cams compared to other brands. The narrow range required much more careful selection for placements. Three stars