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Video: A Gnarly First Ascent On An Ephemeral Colorado Ice Route

Ice climbing is a whole lot more than just swinging ice tools into frozen water: it’s a patient game of chess, waiting for elusive conditions, and then pouncing on an opportunity to climb dreamy (or nightmarish) routes. This fall, in an area high in the alpine in Rocky Mountain National Park outside Estes Park, CO, a small group of adventurous alpinists discovered all-time conditions on routes that had never been climbed before.

RELATED: Follow David Lama on His Most Ambitious Solo Climb Yet

How does one get a first ascent on area so close to civilization? Well, the answer is simple: the routes had simply never formed before. On Longs Peak’s East Face, under the famous wall of rock known as the Diamond, water trickles out of cracks in the rock, and if conditions are just right, it freezes into huge curtains of ice that just barely stick to the rock. For some a frightful nightmare, for others a dream come true.

After scouting conditions for several weeks, climbers Wesley Fowler and Tyler Kempney teamed up with local video wizard Drew Herder to attempt a new route. Climbing the face required some of the boldest climbing ever attempted: the ice was so thin it was unprotectable for long stretches at a time, and with each swing of an ice tool, the climbers risked shattering the whole route and falling off. 

Gnarly climb. Excellent video work!

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Watch: Patagonia & TGR’s Documentary ‘Tribal Waters’
Up Next Culture

Watch: Patagonia & TGR’s Documentary ‘Tribal Waters’

Watch: Patagonia & TGR’s Documentary ‘Tribal Waters’

When you love something, you will do anything in your power to protect it. The Wind River is, and has been, home to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapahoe tribes for over 10,000 years. The water is crucial to their way of life, customs and history. However, their river has been being hijacked by a ruthless system that stops at nothing to control the source - for far too long. Tribal Waters, a documentary by Teton Gravity Research Film in association with Patagonia, traces the Wind River

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​TGR x HBO Present: Edge of the Earth Official Trailer
Up Next News

​TGR x HBO Present: Edge of the Earth Official Trailer

​TGR x HBO Present: Edge of the Earth Official Trailer

Teton Gravity Research and HBO have teamed up to bring you the all-new documentary film series  Directed by Steve and Todd Jones, EDGE OF THE EARTH brings you an immersive blend of action-adventure sport, travel journal, and nature documentary, following four different groups of elite action-adventure athletes on four unique, never-before accomplished missions within undiscovered realms of nature. Starting with an Alaskan winter ski and snowboard expedition, reaching the heights of a first

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Marc-André‘s Vision - A New Line on Torre Egger
Up Next Rock climb

Marc-André‘s Vision - A New Line on Torre Egger

Marc-André‘s Vision - A New Line on Torre Egger

Marc-André Leclerc’s death in 2018 sent shockwaves through the climbing and greater action sports community. He was a visionary and an iconoclast who climbed solely for the love of the sport and his impact on climbing will be felt for many years to come. Prior to his passing, Marc-André had spotted an unclimbed route on the east face of the legendary Torre-Egger peak in the Southern Patagonian Icefield as he rapelled from a nearby route called Titanic. He made plans to climb this route with