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About Chris_McNamara

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  • Birthday 12/07/1978


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  • Occupation
    Guidebook Publisher
  • Location
    United States
  1. New Washington Pass Super Topo book

    Yeah, there are few typos in the print book. Luckily we can now get em out of the eBook. But that is always the challenge with first editions and books in general. You spend hours and hours with many different people looking for errors... but at the end of the day, there is just SO MUCH info in 248 pages of text that a few thing slip by. And of course, they are immediately so obvious when put in front of a lot of eyeballs at a product launch and pointed out. And there is always a time crunch as it takes a massive effort to get these books done (the graveyard of 90% completed books is HUGE... I have a couple). But I think anyone who checks out the book or just takes the free 50-page download for a test drive will be psyched.
  2. New Washington Pass Super Topo book

    eek... those typos were mine. Don't blame Ian! I will fix immediately. Anyway, hopefully the discussion will be focused on the sweet climbs at WA Pass. Coming from Tuolumne/High Sierra I was super impressed with the quality and access of all the 1,000'+ routes. And that you could still do first ascents clearly visible from the road!! One thing you can also do there (legally unlike High Sierra) is paraglide. I guess this has been done a few times, but I was wondering if anyone has done big link ups or speed ascents/descents using one of the newer featherweight canopies. Thanks for the sweet book, Ian! It was great to work with big alpine routes. My favorite type of climbing these days.
  3. 16-ML-51845-ML- moved to Online/Mail-Order Gear Shops
  4. time again to sell slightly blemished books for cheap. these are all the books that bookstores return because so many people have thumbed through them they cant sell anymore. i mostly thought this climbing forum would be interested in the alaska books but i have some other titles as well the books are: Yosemite Big Walls: Second Ed Alaska Climbing Yosemite Valley Bouldering Yosemite Free Climbs South Lake Tahoe Climbing Lake Tahoe Bouldering and two books that are now out of print in new condition: Yosemite Ultra Classics Tuolumne Ultra Classics [NO EBAY SPAM PLEASE. THANKS]
  5. California Guidebooks

    Their aint no big California guide because there are just too many areas. In general the Falcon books are the most comprehensive but are not always super up to date. Maximus Press publishes the best guides for the East Side. Their Mammoth Area climbs book has tons of goodness and the Croft book has every route that Croft thinks is worth doing in the HIgh Sierra, and i always trust his judgement (he is the jedi master of climbing). http://www.maximuspress.com/ I (SuperTopo) publish a bunch of select guides for a handful of cali areas and even if you dont want to buy them you can download free topos for some of the classic routes and get free travel info here http://www.supertopo.com/freetopos.html
  6. Mt Whitney

    that last little ice section near the top i think has resulted in more deaths than all the other routes in that area combined. which makes sense i guess because that is the most popular route (and every technical route on whitney and keeler needle uses it as the descent route). not that should scare you off. i believe most of the deaths have been in the spring with people who either got way off route or had little to no ice/snow experience. in a normal snow year (and this is looking to be a light snow year) there should not be much ice in sept but you might want to check. there are usually updated condition posted here http://www.supertopo.com/rockclimbing/route.html?r=hiwhmoun
  7. new web site - BaseJumpingMovies.com

    just started a new non-commercial web site with a bunch of BASE jumping movies. not related to climbing at all but i know a lot of climbers that are getting into base or just like watching the vids. http://www.basejumpingmovies.com
  8. [TR] Streaked Wall- Rodeo Queen 3/7/2006

    we were probable around the 5th ascent. not sure. my car only has 210000 miles but i am gunnin for 300000 ammon is the first guy to do all 3 streaked wall routes. he said the other two routes were a little easier with better rock. but all the routes are pretty stout. make yosemite a4 seem secure!
  9. [TR] Streaked Wall- Rodeo Queen 3/7/2006

    you can view more photos of the climb in a quicktime slide show: BIG - 22mb: http://www.chrismcnamara.com/movies/rodeo_queen_720.mov LESS BIG - 8.4 mb: http://www.chrismcnamara.com/movies/rodeo_queen_320.mov The best thing to do is right click on the link and "save target as" or "save linked file" to your desktop. You need the latest version of quicktime to watch this. to download this free software, go here: http://www.apple.com/quicktime/ PS: for future ascents, the topo at the visitor center works fine. even though its not that detailed all you really need to know is that the first 7 pitches are all A3/A4 and the last two have some 5.8. The Rack: 10 beaks 10 bigger beaks/tucans etc 6 blades 10 bugaboos 6 lost arrows 3 ea. baby angle 3 ea. sawed angles to 1 1/2" 2 sets offset nuts 2 sets nuts cams: 3 ea. .4-1.5" 2 ea 1.75-4.5" 2 grappling hooks all belay (except at Rubicon) are bomber
  10. [TR] Streaked Wall- Rodeo Queen 3/7/2006

    Climb: Streaked Wall-Rodeo Queen Date of Climb: 3/7/2006 Trip Report: Gone sufferin’: first one day ascent of Rodeo Queen When the haulbags were almost packed, Ammon turned to me holding a piece of plywood wrapped in an ensolite pad with duct tape. Always looking like the merry pirate, he flashed a big grin. It was a look that implied we should be psyched he was bringing such a comfy belay seat. Instead, I looked back at him and said, “We don’t really NEED that, do we?” After all, we had never done a speed wall together that would take so long that you would need a belay seat. “Are you kidding?” he shot back, looking a little confused. Suddenly I got it. “Whoa. Its going to be one of THOSE walls?” “Yeah man. You have no idea the suffering you are getting into.” Ammon left for the car and I turned to Tacy who was graciously lettinging us stay in here house and half jokingly asked. “So, know anyone else interested in climbing the Streaked Wall.” But it was too late. I was committed. We were going to suffer. The only thing left to do was to turn bad suffering into good suffering. So we stopped at the market and bought four of the largest canned beers we could find. Ammon geared up with stereo, cold one, camera, and magic yellow bag. Barely visible is the portable stereo he bumped up the whole approach. For me, the suffering started on the first step around 7pm. I couldn’t find the waste belt for the grade VI haul bag I was carrying. Why so much stuff on a speed ascent? Our topo didn’t have a rack for the route, so we had to bring a lot of stuff including bivy gear for the base. The suffering for Ammon started just before we got to the bivy below Rubicon Ledge. On our drunken stumble to base, a rock came out from under him and he went carwheeling into the bush. Luckily a tree stopped his tumble. Unfortunately, that same tree lashed out at him. Ammon described the experience: “it felt like someone stabbed my ear with a chopstick.” Got to the base around 11pm and took inventory of the food. It seemed like a lot. What we didn’t realize was this was to be all our food for almost 48 hours. That morning we woke to cloudy skies. We had neglected to check the weather so we called our friend Heidi who had internet weather access. “So, what is the weather report? Looks a little ominous right now.” She reported a 20% chance or rain. The real weather wasn’t supposed to come until the following night. And added a little dig, “You guys aren’t looking for a reason to bail are you?” I started leading at 7:50am. After two hours, (about half spent hauling our surprisingly heavy load), we got to Rubicon Ledge. We were just getting ready to keep hiking when ammon turned to me “Dude, where is my other aider.” We looked everyone and couldn’t find it. So the only thing left to do was rappel. Ahh, more suffering. Sure enough, 190 feet below us, Ammon’s aider barely clung to the rock. It had mysteriously unclipped itself. It wasn’t the only item that would mysteriously take flight during the climb. Next we got to schlep our gear across Rubicon Ledge. This wasn’t just your typical “move belay left” maneuver. We spent two hours bushwhacking, cactus dodging, scrambling and hauling loose 5th class. We spent 10 minutes debating what crack system was actually the route. Turns out the guy who writes guidebooks for a living (me) was off by, well, a lot. Luckily we followed Ammon’s intuition. Not that I am trying to justify me missing the start of the route by 200 feet, but our topo was not exactly detailed. It had a diagonal line and 9 belay locations. Only the two ten foot free sections were rated. There was no gear list. The route wasn’t even rated. The topo just said PDW for Pretty Darn Western. I had no idea what that meant. But I would soon. Oh, would I ever. There were no belay bolts for the fist pitch. So the belay was Ammon’s first piece: a knifeblade that shifted so much on the bounce test that he placed another one above it. I was too busy appreciating the last ledge we would see for the next 22 hours to be too worried about him blowing the piece and taking us on the 800 foot tumble to the ground. As I learned from Ammon, often on hard aid, being a little scared is fine. Being too scared is debilitating. So sometime you just have to trick you mind and say “Fuck it, I don’t really care if I take the whip.” Photo of ammon on the first belay The first pitch was mostly nailing and the route stayed that way to the top. Occasionally the crack would open up and take some cams. But for the most part it was just beaks, blades and angles with stoppers here and there. On pitch 2, I bit into a Hooha bar which was the US military’s contribution go the energy bar market. Suddenly the rope jerked me to the right side of the belay. I looked up and Ammon was 30 feet below his last piece, a bolt. “Nice one, bro” I said “how far did you sail?” “I don’t know, I guess 50?” he replied “Did you start to hear the air?” “yep” “then you went at least 50. After 50, you start to hear the air rush by.” I used to be terrified when my partners fell. But with Ammon, it was expected that he take at least one big whipper per route. I think that’s the reason he is probably the fasted aid climber out there. He just goes for it. He explained later how he manages fear “Yeah, sometimes you just gotta trick yourself by almost wanting to take the whipper. Then your not as scared and you can move fast.” The streaked wall makes the right side of el cap look low angle. The bottom pitches are especially overhanging. Check the bags on the second pitch: The third pitch looked vertical from below. In realitiy, it was overhanging the whole way. It just relatively less steep than the first two pitches. At the fourth pitch, I took over right as it got dark. The night shift began. Ammon turned to me “when was the last time you led hard aid on sandstone?” “Seven years ago,” I replied “Oh boy. You are in for a good time!” I prefer climbing hard aid at night. The only thing worse than standing on a crappy aid placement, is seeing the last five crappy placements below you. Ignorance can be bliss when aid climbing. And when you can only see for 5-10 feet above and below, you are quite ignorant of monster whip potential. I didn’t find this out till later, but this was the only named pitch on the route: “Good Friday the Thirteenth.” The pitch started out fine. Sinker blades and beaks led to relatively secure sawed angles. Then things started to get tricky. I came up to giant scars in sandy soft rock. Spent a long time messing around with stacking sawed angles behind blades. Occasionally I could get stacked beaks, which felt relatively secure. Once I was through this section, I clipped a bolt and saw another bolt above. “15 feet to the belay” I called down. What I thought was the belay was just a stud with tape wrapped around it. I looked down at “ammon, uhh never mind.” “Yeah dude, he yelled up, you are only like 70 feet out so far.” My heart sank. Next I had to top-step and hand place and angle in a drilled holes. All over the route, instead of drilling bolts, there were often just holes. You could sometimes put an angle in them, but it was usually better just to hook. The angles were so loose in the holes, hooks felt more secure. Next came more giant blown out scars in sandy rock. I fell into a psychological tail spin. Every time I thought I was through a hard section, another one showed up. This was the steepest and most sustained tricky aid I had delt with. Everything was blown out. I prayed that every once in while I could get just a 10-15 foot section of cams. But it didn’t happen. I began to crack. I wanted to lower back to the anchor and have Ammon finish the pitch. I know it was pathetic, but I didn’t care. Fortunately Ammon was having none of it. We probably didn’t have enough rope to lower back to the belay… and there wasn’t any good gear to lower off. “Dude, I think you will feel a lot better if you finish the pitch.” He sent up some food and water. Somehow I ended the mental melt down and was able to finish the pitch. When ammon got to the belay, I slumped in the belay seat with my legs buried into our haulbag to keep warm. I didn’t care that I was such a sorry sight. At least I wasn’t leading anymore. “Don’t worry, bro,” he assured me ”as far as melt-downs go, it wasn’t that bad.” Pretty Darn Western had kicked my ass. And it stayed just as Western for Ammon’s pitches. The rock was just as sandy and blown out. But somehow Ammon just charged through and stayed psyched. Maybe it was because he had the stereo going the whole time playing everything from Manu Chao to Dre. Dreto folk music. Halfway up Pitch 5, however, I heard the psyche leave his voice. “We are in trouble. We are definitely in trouble. Send me your hammer!” Ammon had reached down to grab his hammer only to find the screw that went into the shaft had come out. His hammer silently fell 1000 feet to the ground. it wasn’t the end of the world, but it meant that we couldn’t short fix anymore, which is the key to moving fast on these climbs. With only one hammer, ammon would have to send it back to me on the haul line and then wait for me to clean the pitch without being able to continue the lead. On a nailing route, where it takes a long time to clean pitches, this meant our speed ascent was about to slow way down. After the next pitch, around 4am, we forgot to get the hammer back to me. The pitch traversed and was overhanging. Once the bag was gone, there was no way to swing the hammer back to me. Was I going to have to leave all 15-20 pins that Ammon had placed? Fortunately, the rock was so bad, I was able to wiggle out the first two pins with my hands. Then I had an idea: I took my bottom ascender and started beating the pins with it. Sure enough, the rock and placements were so bad, I was able to clean almost every pin on the pitch using my ascender as a hammer. Other pins just popped out when I weighted the rope. How far would Ammon have fallen on this pitch had he blown a piece? I don’t know. When you can clean almost every piece with your hands or an ascender, its hard to imagine what would have stopped his fall. Finally, darkness turned to light. Around 7am, the wall started to light up. Ten minutes later, the wall was on fire. Ammon’s last aid pitch was on of the scariest. 7 placements popped when I weighted the rope to clean it. Bad rock, self-cleaning placement. I took back over the lead around 8am. The climbing went like this: 20 feet of bat hooks in soft rock, bolt, 20 feet of bat hooks in soft rock, bolt.” But after all those blown out pin scars on my earlier lead, the bat hooks felt secure. On the topo, the last pitch looked light. But I was wrong. Oh, was I ever wrong. after 20 feet of free, I clipped a bolt and looked up at 30 feet of overhanging sugar. I could see a bolt 25 feet and no way to get there. Finally I found a 1-inch diameter bat hook hole top stepped an felt around to a big hole. After one of the worst pin stacks of my life (the pins came out when I unweighted them), I found one found the worst bolts I had ever seen. It stuck out almost 3 inches. But that wasn’t the scary part, when I got up to look at it, I could see that it was a ½ bolt in what was in a 1 inch hole. And of course, all this sugar climbing was right above an ankle-breaking slab. When would suffering ever end!! Fortunately it ended just a few minutes later when I free climbed off the last bolt and was on top.
  11. Nose in a day was Lynn Hill almost twelve years ago. Tommy “warmed up” for this event when he free climbed The Nose a few weeks ago with is wife Beth Rodden and then climbed the route a few days later in 12 hours. Needless to say, nobody had ever free climbed The Nose and free climbed another El Cap route in less than a day. Tommy started October 30 at 1:03am and cruised up The Nose in 11 hours with his wife Beth Rodden, who belayed and jumared. "The weather was perfect" said Caldwell. "The temperatures were crisp and the wind was so calm your voice echoed off the rock." On the crux 5.14a Changing Corners pitch he took two short falls before sending the pitch on his third go. After a few minutes of food and rest on the summit, he ran down the East Ledges descent and was back in El Cap Meadow just before 1pm. I was his belayer/jumarer for the second leg of the link-up. We started up the Freerider at 1:36pm in perfect fall weather with temps in the low 60's and a slight breeze. On the first pitch, and for the next 28 pitches, it was hard to tell that he had just climbed The Nose that morning. He showed little fatigue and it was impossible to tell when he was doing a hard move. Every move he made looked like 5.7. I felt like I was belaying him on The Nutcracker. The first 10 pitches took two hours. We got to the Monster Offwidth (Pitch 19 just below El Cap Spire) just as the sun was setting. The wall was bright orange and as he left the belay he assured me that this pitch was actually going to be a little strenuous for him. I guess he was true to his word, because he made this 5.11 offwidth nightmare look like 5.9 (unlike the first 19 pitches that all looked like 5.7). Below us, we watched Dean Potter speed up the route five pitches below us. He was going for a one-day free ascent of The Salathé Wall. Over on The Nose, Thomas Huber was making a multi-day free attempt with four support crew (Ivo, Ammon, and some buddies doing their first big wall). At that moment, there were four parties on El Cap, three of which were making free ascents. Seems that these days you are noteworthy if you are the ones NOT making a free ascent of El Cap! On El Cap spire, we put on the headlamps and started the night-climbing leg of the push in crisp 50 degree weather with no wind. Two pitches higher, for the first time on the climb, I saw Tommy really exert himself. It was the section where you have to do a V6/V7 boulder problem on holds that all seem to face the wrong direction. For a brief second he made the route really look like its 5.12c rating. A minute later he was at the belay and we were onto the next pitch. I guess even the best climbers can look a little tired on V7 after climbing 5000 feet. So what’s the demeanor of one of the best free climbers in the world when he is pulling off one of the biggest free climbing achievements of his life? One might expect Zen-like concentration to pull through such a demanding day. Or maybe he would be shouting and screaming like you see a lot of top boulderers do to pull through V15 problems. Not Tommy. He just seemed like he was having a day out at the crags. There was no rushing of either the climbing or the belay changeovers. We even burned some time talking about home improvement. He felt the best way to organize a 1900 square foot house was with three bedrooms and a loft. I wondered if it was best just to convert the loft to a fourth bedroom. Below The Sewer pitch he paused a minute to quiz me, “So Chris, why, after so many El Cap ascents, have you still not free climbed it?” Believe me Tommy, if I could make 5.12 look like 5.7, I would be free climbing everything right there with you. On Pitch 28, Tommy took a fall. He had just started up the overhanging, flaring 5.12b crack when he took a short five-foot fall onto a fixed nut. I was shocked because up until that point it didn’t seem like he could fall even if he wanted to. Gravity just didn’t seem to work on him the same way it does with the rest of us. He pulled the rope, tied back in, and started up again. This time he laybacked the crack that he had previously tried to straight-in jam. He got about six feet higher than his first go and then fell again. At this point, we both got a little nervous. Hanging from the rope, he said in a slightly frustrated tone, “This pitch was so easy the other day.” I reminded him that he had climbed over 5500 vertical feet of rock that day. It was okay to feel a little tired. But it turned out that it wasn’t so much that he was tired as it was the fact that he wasn't used to climbing this pitch in the dark. He realized that he always stemmed this pitch on micro edges and they were not as obvious at night. He ticked a few footholds with chalk, lowered back to the belay, and pulled the rope. I knew that if he sent this pitch, he had the route. He sent the pitch and, sure enough, he continued cruising the route to the summit. We topped out at 12:26am, 10 hours and 50 minutes after starting. On the summit we were met with hugs, congratulations, and SoCo from great friends Beth Rodden, Kim Miller, Corey Rich, Josh Lowell, and Adam Stack. We joked that while Tommy did look tired, he didn't look nearly as worked as someone should after 6000 feet of hard free climbing, "Tommy, there are still 37 minutes left in the day, want to try and free climb something else? I think we could find you a boulder problem up here. Or maybe some pull-ups? Push-ups?" It was amazing day. Not only did Tommy pull off something I don't think anyone else had considered possible, he did it with a level of calm and casualness I've only experienced on 4th class terrain. A few pitches below the top he told me "I can't believe i am up here. This has been one of my biggest free climbing goals. I didn't know if it was possible and now it's happening." It was an astonishing comment considering he was making this link-up his first try. It reminded me of his comment that he thought the Free Dihedral Wall was going to take a few years to work. That climb is the most difficult El Cap free route and probably the hardest big wall free climb in the world. He climbed on his first attempt after just months of working the route. Just what will he do when he does pick a goal that really does take a few years and many attempts to accomplish?
  12. High Sierra Slide Show set to music

    I just took some of my favorite High Sierra photos that i have shot and put together a Quicktime slide show with music. Here is how to watch it: 1) you need software called QuickTime. If you don't have it, you can download it for free here: http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/ 2) turn up the volume 3) click on this link: AND THEN WAIT 1-2 MINUTES. the file is big and on a dial up it could take 30 minutes to download http://southlaketahoehomerentals.com/st/highsierra_320.mov
  13. Yosemite Free camping

    The closest free camping is on forest service land outside of the Highway 120 entrance on Hardin Flat road. this is about 45 minutes from el cap meadow. lots of places to go... and i am 95% sure you can camp for free anywhere legally.
  14. Toulome Meadows Area Alpine Rock Climbs

    Yeah. there is a lot of snow. nobody is making prediction on when the road is going to open... but my guess is July 4. i have not data to back that up... just a hunch. even if the road is closed, you can still climb Mt Conness (if you drive from the east side). I would recommend climbing the west face (an awesome long 5.6) and descending the north ridge (a less cool but still fun 5.6). It would be a huge day with lots of hiking.. but you said you didnt mind lots of hiking.
  15. New full color Yosemite Big Wall guidebook

    ok, how is this for a less commercial post: Hey guys, just wanted to let you know that after 5 years of approaching, drawing, hauling, biviying, gps'ing, photographing and.. oh yeah, climing... the new big walls book is out. i am not trying to spam the forum here. i just think there are people here who might be planning a trip to yosemite and want to know that there is some updated info out there. also, i tried to make this book more than just a guide by including more histories and lots of full page photos. but what i am most psyched about is that the book is in full color. my goal was to create a climbing guide/coffe table book. you can all let me know if i was successful at that or not. anyway, you can download a free sample of the book at: http://www.supertopo.com/bigwalls/yosemite/bigwalls.html