The list of climber’s nights have been updated. Come check them out and join the fun!
Join AMC Boston Climbers for a weekend at the Harvard Low Cabin to kick off the 2019 Ice Season! Reconnect with friends, climbing partners, and ice program alumni and current students to build the stoke for the coming program and season!
Thinking about how to start the season off on the right foot? Register for the December Open Cabin Weekend and get some early season Ice and Snow!
The 2019 Ice Program application is now open!
Come celebrate the unity of the New England outdoor community. There will be a packed silent auction and raffle with contributions from top brands in the climbing, skiing, hiking, and trail running industries - the proceeds from which will go to benefit Emmett Lyman, a local climber who was recently injured in Alaska. Legendary local climber, Jim Ewing, will give a talk on his development as a climber and his re-entry into the climbing world after the amputation of his left leg. Drinks will be provided to those with a valid ID and pizza from Flatbread will be served. A suggested minimum donation of $10 to Emmett's recovery at the door will enter each attendee into a raffle to win an Arc'teryx jacket.
7 pm - doors will open, silent auction goes live
8 pm - Jim's talk will begin
9 pm - final bids will be asked for on the auction
9:30 pm - the auction sheets are collected and bidders may pay and collect their prizes.
- the winners of the door raffle will be drawn and announced
10 pm - the event wraps up
More about presenter:
Jim Ewing is a local hardman, known for having pushed the envelope of technical ice and rock climbing all over the world for the last few decades. He was hurt in a climbing accident in the Caymans in 2015 and, after many surgeries, decided to have his left leg amputated. Working with his long-time friend, Hugh Herr, he was the first to recieve an innovative new surgery, which has been given his name, and has since begun using bionic limbs for walking, hiking, and climbing. He will be giving a talk about that progression and his recent trip to the Cirque of the Unclimbables to attempt the first adaptive ascent of the Lotus Flower.
More about Emmett:
While attempting the first ascent of an unclimbed peak in Alaska earlier this year, Emmett sustained a traumatic brain injury and fracture of his C6 and C7 vertebrae, causing damage to his spinal cord at the C5 level. Defying all odds, he survived his injuries with a remarkably positive attitude--no surprise to those who know him. Emmett is paralyzed below the neck with some use of his arms and wrists and is working hard to regain and maximize mobility. While he has great health and rescue insurance, the out-of-pocket expenses for ongoing rehab and daily living with high spinal cord mobility impairment are extremely high. As recipients of his kindness and help for years, many of his friends are organizing this fundraiser to begin trying to pay him back for his years of generosity.
More about the silent auction:
The total value of the items in the raffle has already exceeded $5000 and we are still early in the process of collecting donations. Brands like Arc'teryx, Adidas, Five Ten, Julbo, MSR, Thermarest, Rock and Snow, Metrorock Climbing Centers, Brooklyn Boulders, Petzl, Black Diamond, and Adventure Medical Kits have all made contributions and we anticipate many more stepping up to show their support for the New England outdoor community.
This year there will be three lectures for the Ice Program. If you are interested in the program be sure to attend the first lecture as it is mandatory for applying. You can find the lecture dates here.
In June, long-time AMC volunteer Emmett was injured in a climbing accident on an unclimbed peak in Alaska's Lake Clark National Park. He sustained serious injury to his head and neck, leaving him significantly paralyzed with a spinal cord injury and a traumatic brain injury.
Emmett is a special person in our community, bringing so many friends and new climbers together with his warmth and incredible kindness. Please consider helping us support our friend through a fundraiser set up to help defray the costs of his medical care. For more information on Emmett's recovery and to make a donation, visit his GoFundMe page using the link below.
Boulder, CO. December 6, 2017 – Access Fund, the national non-profit advocacy organization that protects America’s climbing areas, will take a legal stand against President Trump’s proclamation that orders a reduction of Bears Ears National Monument in southeast Utah, home to world-renowned rock climbing (including the famed Indian Creek). Before leaving office, President Obama used the Antiquities Act to declare the Bears Ears region of southeast Utah a National Monument, protecting this incredible region.
Access Fund worked on this designation alongside the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, the previous administration, and other conservation groups, getting “rock climbing” specifically acknowledged as a valuable and appropriate activity. This acknowledgement gave the world-class climbing atIndian Creek, Lockhart Basin, Harts Draw, Arch/Texas Canyon, Comb Ridge, Valley of theGods, and dozens of other climbing areas an added layer of protection and significance in the national monument.
“Bears Ears was the first National Monument proclamation to specifically acknowledge rock climbing as an appropriate and valued recreation activity,” says Brady Robinson, Access Fund Executive Director. “This was a huge win for the climbing community, as the Bears Ears region is home to a substantial amount of world-class climbing. We cannot afford to lose thatacknowledgement or allow the climbing experience to be compromised.”
Under President Trump’s December 4th Presidential Proclamation #9558, rock climbing would also lose its acknowledged status as a valued and appropriate activity, and approximately 40 percent of the climbing areas at Bears Ears would lose enhanced national monument status,including Valley of the Gods, Harts Draw, Lockhart Basin, and a portion of the climbing at IndianCreek.
In response, Access Fund named President Donald Trump, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, and other administration officials in a lawsuit to defend Bears Ears National Monument on the grounds that President Trump’s Presidential Proclamation #9558 violates both the Antiquities Act and the United States Constitution.The Antiquities Act gives a president the authority to proclaim a National Monument, but it does not give a president the authority to revoke or modify one. That authority is reserved for Congress alone.
The Antiquities Act has protected many iconic climbing areas—including Mt.Rushmore, Joshua Tree (now a national park), Giant Sequoia, and Devils Tower—and the climbing experience in these areas would look very different today without their enhanced status.
“This is a precedent-setting moment,” says Robinson. “This fight is about more than just protecting the incredible climbing at Bears Ears. Nearly 60% of climbing areas are on federal public lands, and this proclamation threatens the Antiquities Act and the very foundation of our public lands system. Bears Ears is a critical battle in the greater fight for America’s public lands.”
A growing movement of law and policy makers are mounting a systematic attack on federal public lands, rolling back environmental regulations, limiting public input on land management plans, and advancing energy extraction at the expense of recreation and other uses and values of public lands. The two much smaller and disconnected monument units that the TrumpAdministration is attempting to establish appear explicitly designed to optimize oil and gas development opportunities. Much of the area excluded from the original BearsEars National Monument would be opened up to mineral exploration and oil and gas leasing,including lands abutting the world-class climbing at Indian Creek.
The Trump Administration’s attempt to dismantle the landscape-scale protections and land management strategies for Bears Ears National Monument would also drastically compromise the climbing experience and cultural values of the Bears Ears region. Climbers deeply appreciate the experience of climbing in an undeveloped landscape that affords incredible opportunities to enjoy a unique cultural and historical story.Access Fund will fight to protect climbing at Bears Ears National Monument, and climbing areas throughout our public lands system.
You can learn more about Access Fund and support their work at accessfund.org.
About Access Fund: Access Fund is the national non-profit advocacy organization that keeps climbing areas open and conserves the climbing environment. Founded in 1991, Access Fund supports and represents millions of climbers nationwide in all forms of climbing: rock climbing, ice climbing,mountaineering, and bouldering. Six core programs support the mission on national and local levels: climbing policy and advocacy, stewardship and conservation, local support and mobilization, land acquisition and protection, risk management and landowner support, and education. For more information, visit accessfund.org.
Totem is voluntarily recalling all Basic cams with serial numbers starting from 1706200 to 1733205 which they request you to stop using immediately.
This recall is being issued based on their quality controls indicating a lower than expected strength specification of the brazing, which affects Basic cams of all sizes, manufactured between 7 February 2017 and 15 August 2017. While, as of today, no failure has been reported by any customers, their use as climbing equipment could lead to serious injury or death.
For more information, view the announcement on Totem's website.
The AMC Boston Chapter Mountaineering Committee is pleased to announce that the AAC has purchased Rattlesnake Campground, a 15-acre campground located directly across from the main parking lot and Parking Lot Wall crag in Rumney, NH. Rattlesnake Campground and the surrounding land were formerly owned by Tom and Marsha Camara, longtime friends of the Rumney, NH climbing community. Through the purchase of Rattlesnake Campground by the AAC, this cherished campground will remain protected and preserved for use by the climbing community and other outdoor enthusiasts. Pricing and details can be found in the link below:
Rob Blakemore is host of this year's Fourth of July trip to the Adirondacks (info and registration here) and generously shares some top reasons to explore the Adirondacks. Whether or not you need convincing, Rob's guide is chock full of beta and great recommendations for climbing, hiking, and exploring. Check out his guide via this link!
Protect Mount Washington is a call to action campaign to protect Mount Washington’s unique alpine tundra zone from harmful development. The current focus is on opposing and halting a high elevation lodge proposed by the Mount Washington Cog Railway. This campaign has been launched by our friends at Keep the Whites Wild, a newly formed nonprofit organization based in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.
The AMC has also sent an official letter of opposition to the Coos County Planning and Zoning Boards in partnership with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Audubon Society of New Hampshire, Conservation Law Foundation New Hampshire, Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests and the Nature Conservancy in New Hampshire. The four-page letter stated: "We hope the planning board and any other potential decision‐makers, if and when a specific development proposal is submitted that mirrors what the Cog has released to date, will conclude that a hotel in Mount Washington’s alpine zone is not a permissible use."
The Boston climbing community was sad to lose our good friend, Bill Clack, last summer. This year, we introduced the Bill Clack memorial scholarship, to cover the Ice Program fee for a new student annually. His friend Al Stebbins shares his memories on Bill's life in the climbing community and the legacy he leaves behind:
When Bill Clack died unexpectedly in the summer of 2016 the Boston climbing community lost a good friend who’s life was defined by passion. When Bill loved something he really loved it. He started his relationship with Boston climbers by showing up, on a cold, dark December night, for the introductory lecture for the AMC’s annual Ice Climbing Program in the mid-1980s. Upon being told that to take said program he’d need technical climbing skills first he immediately asked how he could get them. The answer, of course, was to take the spring Beginners Rock Climbing Program, which he did, and he followed that up by taking the Ice Program the very next time it was offered. Bill fell in love with climbing, and not just the joy of actually doing it. He read extensively on the history of climbing, he reveled in the films about climbing, and he came to know the joys of traveling, and not just in the United States, to climb. In time Bill became a member of the AMC’s Boston Chapter Mountaineering Committee and a director of theBeginners Rock Climbing Program. He co-edited The Crux for many years. Bill, working with The American Alpine Club, also helped save and restore climbing movies shot by Ken Henderson before World War II.
Bill married a fellow climber, Holly, and together they had one child, a daughter named Miranda. Bill was a man of strong passions and he was passionate about being the best dad he could be. Because of that Bill put his climbing career on hold, but not his interest in climbing. He had a realistic understanding that errors in climbing can have really bad, and permanent, consequences, he wanted to be there for his child. As his daughter grew up he started to think about playing in the vertical world again, but, sadly, it was not to be. It is a cliché, but it’s also true, for those who loved Bill, his joy for the outdoor world, for climbing, for living, will always be part of them.
We have offered a dollar-for-dollar matching donation to the Final Frontier Land purchase between now and December 31, 2016, up to $10,000.00. This challenge is to ALL corporations, organizations and individuals! If you aren't familiar with this cause, read more below or on the Final Frontier website.
The RCA and The Access Fund have secured the exclusive right to purchase Rumney’s Northwest Crags for permanent conservation and climbing access. The Northwest Crags are the final set of privately owned climbing resources at the central New Hampshire sport climbing mecca. Now we need the community’s help to raise $300,000 for the purchase and stewardship of Rumney’s Northwest Crags.
The RCA is poised to acquire and permanently protect 86 acres which includes six crags— including Northwest Territories, Buffalo Pit, Northwest Passage, Prudential, Asylum, and western portion of the Black Jack Boulders—which account for approximately 12% of developed routes at Rumney, with potential for more. A small percentage of this land has existing and potential climbing opportunities. So, yes, the Final Frontier is about climbing, however in the greater context, it is an opportunity to ensure that this land remains undeveloped and wild. Preserving our wild and natural spaces is a major goal of the RCA, Access Fund, and Final Frontier project.
The Final Frontier project not only benefits climbers, it benefits other outdoor enthusiasts as well. One of the goals of the Final Frontier will be the increased opportunity for hiking. The Rattlesnake Mountain Trail offers some of the most amazing views in the Southern White Mountains. The long-term plan is for a new parking lot just east of the Rattlesnake Mountain trailhead. From this parking lot, a trail will lead up to the Final Frontier crags with access to spectacular vistas not previously accessed by any trail. This trail will continue along the mountaintop to eventually connect with the Rattlesnake Mountain trail.
Congratulations to our 2016 award winners.
Craigen Bowen Scholarship Recipient:
Bill Clack Scholarship Recipient:
Scott Sandberg Volunteer of the Year Award:
Ribs - Richard Doucette
Artist Emeritus - Susan Clark
Here in Spirit - Katie Cisto
Power Couple - Josh and Emily Pitts
Bag of Sand - Sarah Keyes
Frenemies - Alexa Rosenbloom and Chris Woodall
Nice Rack - Steve Nichols
Can't say No - Catherine Hubbard
Bushwhacked - Ron Birk
If you're on Instagram, make sure you follow @amcbostonclimbers.com.
Tag your climbing photos with #amcbostonclimbers and we'll re-share our favorites!
The temps are getting colder. Ice climbs are already getting done up north. It seems right that it's about time for the 2017 Ice Program to start taking applications for this year's class!
The application will be available until December 4th (after the first mandatory lecture in Boston). No rush to fill out the application, it's not first come first serve like the rock program.
Good luck to all the applicants and I look forward to seeing you in Boston on the 29th. If you have any questions in the meantime, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to go to the application page.
The Gunks Climbers’ Coalition has been working with the Mohonk Preserve to address rappel anchors. Specifically the GCC is advocating for bolted anchors to replace tree rappel anchors where trees are suffering from climber impact. Additionally, there are some fixed gear rappel anchors composed of pitons and/or other aging hardware that the GCC is requesting be replaced with bolted rappel stations. The GCC created the Anchor Evaluation Committee to evaluate the highest priority rap anchors, formulate a plan, and work with the Mohonk Preserve to implement this plan.
As a group the recreates often in the Gunks, we'd like to share these plans, the progress that has been made, and ways to get involved in the dialogue to our constituents.
Black Diamond is issuing a voluntary recall, subject to user inspection, of Easy Rider and Iron Cruiser Via Ferrata Sets/Packages, Index Ascenders, Camalot™ and Camalot™ Ultralights. To find out if your equipment falls within the scope of these recalls, visit their website.
The Boston climbing community lost our long-time friend, Maxim Raykin, last month. His friend and climbing partner Mark Thompson wrote a beautiful tribute to their many adventures together over the years. These are Mark's words:
Maxim and I first climbed together on June 27, 1992: Slip o’ Fools on Cannon. It would set the pattern for all our mountaineering: he led the tough pitches; I, the easy. I was nearly five years older, but Maxim had had more than a decade more of climbing experience. He was always, between us, the deferred-to, senior mountaineer.
On August 11, 1996, Maxim and I headed up Vertigo on Cannon. We got to the belay beneath the Half Moon Crack – an unprotected stretch of sixty feet, which Maxim a few years earlier had led; shaped like a right-facing crescent moon; 5.9 R, surely close to X, on Mountain Project. He didn’t feel like leading it this day, nor did I. We’d driven up to the mountain with Peter Cross and Steve Fitzgerald. While Maxim and I mulled the HMC, Peter and Steve came up to our ledge. They both declined to lead the HMC. Then Maxim said he’d lead it. He would take only enough gear to anchor to the fixed protection above the crack: a couple locking biners and slings.
He started up: walking up the easy lower part, then switching to a layback with his hands gripping the near edge of the crack, his feet walking up the far side of it. The further he went, the more his feet got above his head, until he was nearly upside down. I thought I saw him slip, braced to catch a fall, and feared the worst. It would have been horrible, perhaps 40-percent-likely-lethal. But I was wrong: Maxim hadn’t slipped and soon pulled up onto the ledge above the HMC.
My turn. I laybacked as he had. It seemed easy. Hey, I could have led this. Next time I will. Then I fell. Peter and Steve, both stronger climbers than I, came next. They both fell. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll pass on leading this the next time.
Just before two in the morning of August 5, 2002, Maxim and I awoke in our motel overlooking Lake Estes in Estes Park, Colorado. At 3:50, we left our rented car in the Glacier Gorge Junction Trailhead lot and began the four-hour hike that would take us to the base of the Petit Grepon – a thousand-foot rock face that looked on the side we’d be climbing like the Eiffel Tower. The 5.8 South Face route we would attempt was one of Roper and Steck’s 50 Classic Climbs. We began well. We fourth-classed Pitch 1 and most of Pitch 2 – 5.4, before starting to use our ropes. Two 5.7 pitches brought us to the base of the crux fifth pitch, which I had won a coin flip to lead. This violated our long-time understanding of who leads the cruxes, but I thought I could handle this one. Maxim asked me about four times if I really wanted to lead it: if not, he would be pleased to. I held firm and the pitch proved not too hard.
After the sixth (5.7) of eight pitches, rain began. This route had been atop my hit list for over four years. Cindy had tentatively agreed that it could be our honeymoon climb in 1998. She had changed her mind when we had got to the base and had looked up. The next year, I and two friends had done four of the eight pitches, when the two of them decided that it was raining and that we had to retreat. We retreated. My view, then and since, was that it wasn’t raining; that what they took to be rain was just the moisture in the clouds that had closed in around us, cloaking both the base and the summit from sight.
I feared that Maxim, in real rain, would also want to back off. I asked him. He let me know that it was not a good question: of course, we were going to the top. The seventh pitch – 5.7, which I led, was damp; the eighth pitch, 5.6 and his, wholly soaked. But we’d made it. It was about three and lightning had begun to strike not far from us. After a couple summit photos, we began the rappel down.
Maxim always tied the two ropes together with a rewoven figure-8 and always rapped down first. The first rappel went routinely. After the second, the ropes hung up above us and it took well over an hour of tugging before we could pull them down. The third rap went well, but not the fourth: the ropes seemed unbudgeably stuck. I proposed to ascend the ropes, both ends of which were down. But, said Maxim, who had led many climbing trips in the former Soviet Union, it was not possible to go up a vertical rope. The Appalachian Mountain Club, I said, taught its students each year how to do so. We were both worn out from all the tugging after the second rappel and he soon OKed my ascending. A cold wind blew, the rain had continued, and it took me longer than it should have to go up nearly 150 feet, to move the knot below the ledge it had stuck on, and to rappel back down to Maxim. He had been doing calisthenics to ward off hypothermia.
Further rappelling – finding the rap stations in the dark – would be difficult. About midnight we (mainly he – the only one of us who had rapped at night) decided we’d spend the night in the rappel gully. Anchored to a couple wired nuts we set in the rock, Maxim sat on a pile of wet rope and I, on a rock of eight by eighteen inches and awaited dawn. About then, the rain stopped.
At six, Maxim, speaking Russian – which I didn’t, awakened me: the far rim of the glacial cirque we were in had grown light enough for us to move on. The remaining rappels were without incident – perhaps because we’d switched from the rewoven figure 8 to the European Death Knot. Around eight, after about four morning rappels, we were back in the cave at the base, where we had stashed our hiking shoes and extra gear. We hiked out slowly, stopping often and were passed from behind by tourists of many shapes and ages. Reaching our car shortly after one, Maxim spoke several sentences to me in urgent Russian, among which were the words “Ensure Plus.” We’d left a couple cans of it in the car, thinking we might need it and we did. They tasted great – after more than half a day of nausea in which we couldn’t take in anything but water. It was the only time with me that he had been so exhausted as to slip into his native tongue.
We returned to the motel and I called Cindy. She’d called the motel twice in the morning and they’d confirmed that our room looked unslept in. She’d called the Rocky Mountain National Park rangers. They had thought she would be reassured by telling her that there had been no rescues in the park in the previous 24 hours.
In the winter of 2002-3, Maxim was separated. He wouldn’t mind if I could put him in touch with with a classy woman, maybe a climber, maybe especially an ice climber. Maxim was terrific on ice. He had given the specs for Ice Queen Nancy Savickas.
They hit it off and agreed that they would do Last Gentleman at Lake Willoughby. Twice they drove up there and twice they (mainly Maxim, I’d guess) judged the ice too iffy and climbed elsewhere. Then Nancy did the utterly dismaying and unthinkable: LG with some other guy. This, however, brought me into the picture.
Ring. “Mark, this is Maxim. How would you like to climb LG with me?” “Love to, Maxim, but I’m a novice on ice. It sounds way above my level.” “You can do it, Mark. I’ll lead all the pitches.” “We are on.” “I need, though, a few more ice screws. The only thing I ask of you, Mark, is that you buy four nineteen-centimeter screws.” Done deal.
At four on March 15, 2003, we left my home in Lexington. Four hours of dicey driving – ice and winds – later, we walked into a McD’s near Willoughby. Who should be just finishing up there but two of New England’s ice-climbing icons: Rick Buirkle and Yuki Fujita? They were going to do Promenade, just right of LG, with the same first belay spot.
By the time Maxim and I had breakfasted, geared up, and trudged up the hill to the climbs, Yuki was completing the first pitch of Promenade. We had to get up to where Rick was belaying. Between him and us was forty feet of Grade 2 or 3 ice. Maxim would solo it. Would I like him to belay me up? “Would it make sense for me, Maxim, to solo it?” “I think you can do it, Mark.” On went the crampons and Maxim soloed up to Rick. My turn. As I was about in the middle of the toughest stretch of ice I’d ever soloed, Yuki shouted, “Ice tool.” He had dropped what ice novices would call an ice axe. He climbed with leashless tools and had stuck them in the ice at the end of the pitch as he built an anchor. Five pounds of metal with two sharp points was on its way down from 80 feet above me. I kicked in my crampons, hit both tools in solidly and waited to be hit. My helmet was on. The tool missed me by eighteen inches. Yuki belayed Rick down to retrieve it.
Rick and Yuki completed Promenade and rapped down by us as we still had a pitch and a half left of LG. We finished as the sunlight faded. Maxim judged the ice not sufficiently solid to rap off it as Rick and Yuki had done. We would walk off. The hike began with over an hour of yard-plus-deep postholing before we hit a broken-in trail. We returned to the car after eleven and were fortunate to find a northern-Vermont nightspot for a decent dinner. Maxim vetoed my proposal of a motel: we must return. After a couple of breaks to revive via sleep by the side of 93, we were back in Lexington around six a.m.
That summer, Yuki emailed me: would I like to climb ice with him the coming winter in the Canadian Rockies? I could not. The next time I saw Rick, I mentioned this to him: Yuki’s invitation seemed like Tiger Woods proposing that he and I – a twenty-plus handicapper – golf together for a week at Pebble Beach. I wanted Rick to say something like: “It’s true, Mark, that your experience on ice is limited, but your skills are clearly solid.” Instead, he said, “Yes, Yuki wanted to make it up to you for almost killing you.”
After Petit Grepon, the Casual Route up the Diamond, the vertical east face of Longs Peak became number one on both of our hit lists: seven pitches, 10a on Mountain Project.
On August 5, 2003, we (I) awoke twenty minutes after midnight and Maxim and I were in the Longs Peak Trailhead parking lot for the Diamond by 1:46 a.m. A 5.5-mile, five-hour – the last hour over a hellacious talus field – hike brought us to the base of the Diamond. We climbed in the dawn up to Broadway, a horizontal ledge that crosses the lower half of the Diamond. We traversed left to the base of CR. I led the first pitch: rated 5.4 on Mountain Project; 5.7, elsewhere. Maxim came up to me. “Did you see it? It was amazing.” I reflected: I had, I thought, heard a gunshot but hadn’t turned and looked. A base jumper, Maxim said, had taken off from Chasm View – the right point of the Diamond. The jumper had, to Maxim’s amazement, landed in about the only flat spot in the talus field. What I’d thought a shot had been the parachute opening.
Then, Maxim said, we had to back off. He had not been able to sleep that night for one minute and now felt that we could not continue the route. At 9:40 p.m., we were back at the car.
Three years after that, we had determined that we would finally knock off CR. This time, we would bivy at Chasm View. We did two acclimatization hikes: one to the summit; another to Chasm View, from which we rappelled down to Broadway. We felt ready.
On D-Day-Minus 1, July 23, 2006, we hiked to Chasm View, dined early and crawled into our sleeping bags. At three the next morning, we were up: it was time to breakfast, to get to the base of CR, which we would have a long day of sunlight to complete. How had we slept? Neither of us had, hardly at all. Still, said prospective-tough-pitch-leader Maxim, he thought we could do it. I, however, exercised my climber’s right to veto: it seemed, on hardly any sleep between the two of us, too much.
We had hoped to complete CR no later than six, before hiking out.
We had heard that Dean Potter had once run to the base, soloed CR, and run back: car to car in four hours.
The next day, Maxim climbed in Lumpy Ridge with Cindy, while I entertained our four-year-old daughter Sara – whom Maxim was always sweet to. Cindy had climbed many times with Maxim – we once had done Moby Grape on Cannon together – and always was amazed at how rapidly he climbed and with how little protection.
How strong a climber was Maxim? Not a particularly good question, since, to me, his many other virtues dwarfed his excellence on the rocks.
A few times, I put a top rope on Recluse on the north edge of Cathedral Ledge, a Henry Barber 5.9 in the old books, 10d now on Mountain Project. Doing so put my popularity among 5.12 leaders I knew at a zenith: “Hey, Mark, how have you been? Good to see you. Would it be OK if I took a turn on your rope?” Four 5.12ers, and many others, could not on my TR get up Recluse. Maxim is the only one I ever saw send it.
Maxim, brilliant as he was, never completely lost his Russian accent – even though he could read literature and science at the highest level in English. Most of the other Russian climbers in New England have come to sound more articulate in our language than I and most Americans. Not Maxim. At first, Cindy could not understand much of what he said, but tried to agree with whatever he was saying, so that he would not feel bad.
Even after fifteen years here – he came in 1989 – though his vocabulary had become exceptional, he still committed grammatical errors. I told him that his most common was second person, present tense. Uncountable times, I recall him saying, “Mark, you was wrong” – more times, I fear, than “Mark, you was right.”
Once I asked him who were the greatest phycisists of all time. He turned it around and asked me my list. I named a top ten or so. He said that it was a good list, but that I should have had Hallily in my top five. “Hallily,” I said, “who was Hallily? I never heard of him. Wait a minute, though, I just thought of another, Galileo.” “That’s him,” said Maxim, “that’s Hallily. Isn’t that how you pronounce him?” “No,” I said, “We pronounce it Galileo. How do you pronounce it in Russian?” “Galileo, but I thought it was pronounced Hallily in English.”
For our multi-day, backpack undertakings, Maxim requested that he obtain all the food – to which this indolent omnivore acquiesced. We ate well. Most memorable, though, was the first time he handed me a slab of pork fat, about the size of a stick of butter. As I looked dubiously at it, he said that it had been the wonder-food of the Germans in the winters of the Second World War. (I thought he said it was Hallah, but haven’t been able to Google it.) To my obvious observation, he replied that they would have lost much sooner without it. Another time, he handed me about a third of a quarter-pound stick of butter to eat.
In the spring of 2015, Maxim invited me to climb with him in a gym in Nashua – our first time climbing together in nearly a decade. It was fun for me, less so for Maxim. He still climbed better than I, but not so well as when we were younger – which dismayed him. We went to his home where he prepared dinner for me – for the first time not in the context of camping.
He was content in his pleasant and spacious new home and his life. He showed me his extensive library, mostly Russian literature. Pushkin was his favorite – whose writings he had often extolled to me.
Most of his time – as it had for several years – went into his personal project in mathematical physics. I gathered that he was deriving a new mode of describing and calculating quantum reality. He climbed regularly at the gym with his friends Katya and Sergey Vorotnikov(a) and hiked much – especially with Katya. I was happy for him.