On Episode 144 of the Enormocast, I sit down at the Ouray ice festival with ice climbing dark horse, Rapheal Slawinski. While a total legend in his backyard of the Canadian Rockies, Raph is maybe not quite the household name of his compatriot, Will Gadd. Yet, he has been on the forefront of ice climbing, dry-tooling, and big mountain climbing for over 20 years, receiving a Piolet D’or in 2014 for his and Ian Welsted’s ascent of K6 West in the Karokorum of Pakistan. Part affable Polish Canadian, part precision machine, Raphael found his calling scraping away at ice on rock in the Canadian Rockies and beyond.
On Episode 143 of the Enormocast, Andrew Bisharat, Steve Dilk, and I sit down with a bottle of whiskey and look back on the year and decide what notions and ideas in climbing are dead, or dying. Do Euros really suck at crack climbing the way the forums might see it? Can you really get away with posting that cliché photo again? Rapping off sport climbs, dirtbags, and more get the treatment in this cantankerous show. Oh, and the daisy chain gets clipped to the whipping post once again. Don’t get too bent if we call you out on your bullshit with our bullshit. Its all for fun…and to maybe save your life.
On Episode 142 of the Enormocast, I sit down in a wide open and relaxing space in SLC to talk to big wall legend, John Middendorf. John disappeared to Tasmania after single-handedly changing big wall climbing in the 1990s. Previously, porta-ledges afforded respite from the vertical, but could not hold any serious storm at bay. John’s designs at his company A5 lead the way to a ledge that could handle nearly anything the weather could throw at it. Armed with this shelter, climbers could cast off into the upward void for as log as it took come rain, shine, sleet, or snow. John himself took the ledge to the great ranges, putting up The Grand Voyage on Great Trango Tower with Xaver Bongard, perhaps still the hardest wall route in the world. Now he’s back in the designing game with the new D4 Ledges. And a shout-out to Rock Steady Body Works for the recording space.
On Episode 141, my friend and climbing advocate, Sam Lightner, returns for his sophomore appearance on the Enormocast after joining us way back on Episode 9. Sam just recently published a book, Heavy Green, about a battle in the Vietnam War that involved a climbing twist as the NVA were faced with a climbing crux for a daring attack. Apropos, since Sam’s interest and admiration for Southeast Asia has been a decades long pursuit. We also talk climbing opportunities in Laos, the current scene in Thailand, and bolts. Sam’s been on the front line of bolting and climbing conservation for years, and knows the difference between a bomber bolt and rusty death-bomb.
On Episode 140 of the Enormocast, I sit down with World Citizen by way of Finland, Nalle Hukkataival. Much to my surprise, we found ourselves discussing at great length a single boulder problem, Burden of Dreams, something I never would have expected on the Enormocast. However, as we delve into Nalle’s send of what is currently the only problem rated V17 in the world, we found incredible terrain for examining motivation and resolve. Nalle explains the depth of reserves he had to call on to complete the project and the long fight with doubt. Nalle also talks about how he got into climbing in the flat land of Finland, and why bouldering is the way. Nalle is on top of his game, and it was a pleasure to talk to an absolute master.