Inner Mounting Flame

The story of North Carolina musician and climbing legend Mike Stam and the second ascent of his high country test piece, The Inner Mounting Flame.

Featuring climbers Mike Stam, Taylor McNeill, Nathan Draughn, and Elijah Kiser

A Film by Andrew Kornylak

Presented by Whitewater

The Ferryman

The Ferryman chronicles the tale of the man charged with transporting hikers of the Appalachian Trail across the most dangerous water crossing on the 2,200 mile trek: the Kennebec River.

Director – Carlo Nasisse

Presented by Whitewater

The Mapmaker

You can’t take a photo of every boulder in Linville Gorge – but you can draw it. Or at least, Joey Henson can. Follow Joey and a community of rock climbers as they climb, document, and preserve the boulders around Boone, North Carolina.

Requisites of Life

The view from 30,000 feet above the Grand Canyon belies simplicity. By the time you’ve sipped your gin & tonic, and punched out a perfunctory work email, your sleek winged aluminum tube has left that distant earth scar behind in a hazy contrail. But to go there and descend into this vast stone-strata-time-machine, carved for millennia, is to deeply connect to geology that is vast, complex, and confounding. The terrain is alive and every footfall a small act of faith, “Will this boulder roll and throw me, will this same hold I just barely pulled on now support my body weight, will the slick unroped edge fold me down into nothingness?” Danny and Doom, my compatriots on this seven day pack-rafting, canyoneering, peak bagging, rock climbing journey are like idle dogs who sleep until they can run amok. As the sun sets, we arrive at the canyon rim and soon we are hustling below, nipping at one another’s heels. A brief pelting rain produces an impossibly huge, iridescent, double rainbow, from Mile 150 to Mt Sinyella. We dub it the “insanebow”, and a very auspicious omen. We scan for faint trails, from man and beast, and it’s often a jumble of boulders- around, under, over, in this place it’s always up and down. We discover the clues for the way forward as they will be, just as crucially, the keys to the way back. “Where did we put the keys?” What drives one to voluntarily suffer, to be #pooronpurpose and board the elective shipwreck, the place of immediate rations and endless toil? Perhaps to rehearse “end times” is to prepare for them, in that if you choose hard now, you will know its knock when it naturally arrives. We go to the Canyon to reveal moments of transcendence, the sinuous narrows like silhouettes of hips and breast, a landscape that unravels me as I travel deeper into its intricacies, and mostly it’s to perform the requisites of life, that one breath, one sip, one bite amongst the rigors of wilderness- one step, one moment, one life, forever. – Timmy O’Neill is a professional rock climber, fun-hog and co-founder of Paradox Sports, a non-profit dedicated to providing inspiration, opportunities and adaptive equipment to the disabled community. You can follow his adventures at @timmyoneill Steve Fassbinder (A.K.A. “Doom”) is a rabid adventure storyteller and frequent contributor to Seek and Enjoy. For more of his work, check out The Republic of Doom.

A Balanced Climb

I never chose to be an athlete. It is simply the way I am. As a child, I always felt a drive to push myself physically, be it through an organized sport or simply running around with friends, exploring the fields and hills where I grew up in Southern California.

When I was introduced to Rock Climbing over 25 years ago, I was instantly hooked.  From then on, climbing was incorporated into every area of my life – from scheduling classes around my climbing trips, to doing my homework between pull-up sessions on the Rock Rings that I hung from the rafters of my parent’s garage.

Becoming a “professional rock climber” just happened, it was never planned. This profession has taken me all over the world through a variety of climbing trips. I have spent a good deal of my time Exploring and training in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. I have alpine climbed in Patagonia, developed new bouldering areas in South Africa, and also competed in climbing competitions locally in the United States and in more exotic places like Italy, Korea, and Chile.

I have come to realize that for me, exploring does not just mean to go out to see and experience new places. Exploring the physical capabilities of my body through athleticism is just as important to me as exploring new places. I cannot substitute one for the other, but must keep the balance of both in my life in order to feel content and complete as a person.

Lisa Rands is a professional rock climber and climbing instructor who calls Chattanooga, TN home. For more on Lisa’s travels and climbing, check out lisarands.com.

Quicksilver

One of the strange things about climbing is the number of climbers who want to write about it. I too felt the urge. I didn’t want the experience to disappear, but how to describe it? If I stayed with the facts, the page was clear, but cold. If I said how it really felt, the page ran hot with embarrassing confessions. I couldn’t get it right. I combed the library shelves and read the mountaineering classics. In some of those books, I came across photographs that made me say to myself, “Yes, that’s it!” Towering, icy peaks, smooth walls with ant-like climbers on them, haggard faces after frosty bivouacs; those indelible images told the story as effectively as words could. I realized I could show what it was like, and not have to explain it. So a camera strap was added to the clutter of slings around my shoulders. I started talking less and seeing more, watching conversations, parties, and gear sort-outs through my viewfinder, waiting for the images to appear. I caught some, but many got away. Camp 4 was the launching pad for our adventures. Sometimes, it was a refuge from them. Here, plans were made, teams were formed, and the rest of life was lived. An odd kind of history was happening each day, and every night the quicksilver of our experience slipped through the cracks in the tabletops and disappeared into the grimy dust below. – Born and raised in California, climber, photographer, and author, Glen Denny, was part of the first group of climbers to use the now-famous Camp 4 as a base for exploring the granite walls of Yosemite Valley. This is an edited expert from his book, Yosemite in the Sixties. For more of Glen’s work, check out www.glendenny.com

Snapshots

First light fluttered from darkness, glowing on the horizon like baseline fires across the curve of the earth. We barely spoke. I racked the gear, checked my knot. Nearly a vertical mile of climbing towered overhead. Deep breath. It was my first trip to the storied Chaltén Massif of southern Patagonia, where spires jut into space like parallel rows of sharpened teeth. For decades, climbing legends have risen and fallen here with the ferocious winds. For sixty-five million years, these granite spires have reached toward the sky like temples of the gods. Our trip had started like so many others: long on ambition, short on action. Cloudbanks of fury obscured the mountains and the wind so scoured the earth that on some days even approaching the glacier was unthinkable. We’d retreat to the forest and pass time with our friends. Just before our flights home, the skies cleared. A perfect window. It’s funny how time passes. Two days can go slowly, without recollection. Passing normally, placidly, mundane days like any other. So often, I recall only fleeting moments. Sometimes, when standing in line at the bank or sipping coffee or driving to the store, the molecules in my brain that hold the memories of my mind flash before me, transporting me to a dreamlike world that I know is real. On Cerro Torre I remember my heartbeat pounding in my ears as we raced up thin ice that would disappear the very next day, melted by the fierce southern sun when we were higher on the route. I remember shivering away the night without sleeping bags in a snow cave three pitches below the top, drifting between sleep and hypothermia. Waking and climbing through rime-ice mushrooms, gargoyles, and house-sized sculptures jutting outward in gravity-defying forms like images pulled from a fantasyland. And, of course, tunnels. Tunnels? Yes, tunnels. Treasure-hunt tunnels carved by the wind, allowing passage through the impossible seeming mushrooms, until we sat on the summit under perfect skies, almost unbelievingly, knowing we’d been lucky. Exactly two days after we left, we staggered back to our tent as silhouettes of giants towered overhead. Before crawling inside and collapsing into a dreamless sleep, I remember staring once more at the stars while the wind calmed to a whisper, as if the gods themselves were pausing between breaths. – Kelly Cordes is author of The Tower: A Chronicle of Climbing and Controversy on Cerro Torre. For more on Kelly and his work, visit www.kellycordes.com