Castles In the Sky

This premium short film featuring Sonnie Trotter, produced by Ben Moon and presented by Patagonia, captures the spirit of climbing in just a few words.  The mountain scenery says it all!

Check out the brief interview, too.  Sonnie’s thoughts on free soloing and the indoor climbing movement are spot on.  If you’re digging Sonnie’s style, pick up a copy of Rock & Ice‘s November ’15 issue and read up on the hardest crack climbers in the world!

Storm the Fort

Storm the Fort

Our friends at the Crash Pad just announced the first of a one-of-a-kind climbing competition that is sure to become an annual event!  Storm the Fort is a “guest only” comp happening the first weekend in February at Stone Fort (Little Rock City) just north of Chattanooga.

There’s a hangout session on the eve of Friday the 5th and the comp runs 8am-4pm on Saturday the 6th.  There’s then an after party and awards ceremony back at the Crash Pad with free beer, coffee, hot chocolate, prizes and more!  Knowing these guys, this event will be a rockin’ good time!

More details can be found on their Facebook.  We hope to see you there!

Photo from our buddy, Cory, with Home Brew Productions!

Jamestown, AL

Jamestown, AL

Jamestown is a small town in the northeast corner of Alabama, just a few miles from Little River Canyon.  There’s treasure in them thar hills!  In 2005, the SCC secured access to a beautiful slab of rock with super rad trad routes and stout bolted lines!

Getting there is half the battle.  The turn off of the highway is tough to spot, and while it’s possible to get close to the trailhead without it, 4WD is recommended.  There’s a short hike up a hill, but just follow the cairns and you can’t go wrong.

Yum Yum Tree (5.7+) should be your first stop.  It’s easily the best in the state at the grade, and it’s tall enough to getcha warmed up.  The Harvest Wall has a collection of high quality moderates, but Winter Wall is definitely worth checking out.  Registration, the Arch (5.9+), is a gorgeous arching hand crack, and it shares anchors with an amazing sport route called Hairdressers On Fire (5.11c)!

Idlewild will be adding Jamestown to our list of destinations for intermediate and advanced climbing courses in 2016!

Sherpas Back At It

Sherpas Back At It

Outside just published a great article on the Sherpa situation in Nepal, well worth a few minutes of your time.

It’s inspiring to hear that the new generation of Sherpas are not just slogging up the mountain for the man, and it’s amazing that they are blazing first ascents on their home turf.  Who knows what’s possible for those guys in the coming years!

A couple of lines in the article really stand out, though, on the business side of the story…

First, it’s unfortunately not surprising that the Sherpa guides make only a fraction of what the Western guides make for an expedition.  Props to the Sherpas for launching their own guide companies; they’ve been the backbone of the industry for ages.

Second, it’s good for the climbing community that these guys are offering more affordable Everest expeditions.  Of course, the foreign guide companies are concerned about crowding, but as long as the Sherpa guides are maintaining the same level of certifications and vetting their clients, it’s a fair game.

We are looking forward to seeing the price barrier drop on Everest expeditions, and honestly we would like to see the skill requirement increased…  So the accident count can go down and the success rate can go up.

Zyp, Birmingham’s Bike Share

Zyp, Birmingham’s Bike Share

The revitalization of Birmingham has been building momentum for years, but the launch of the Zyp Bike Share program has supercharged the city!

Zyp stations are all around town, loaded up with electric-assist bicycles that you can pick up and drop off any Zyp station for a small fee.  Annual memberships are only $75, and Zyp is currently recruiting ambassadors who will receive free memberships!

Railroad Park is a major Zyp hub, with cyclists coming in from all over town for special events, baseball games at Regions Field and to grab a beer at Good People Brewing Company nearby.  A cycling path is in progress that will take you to the heart of Avondale, and plans are in the making for a rails-to-trails project that will connect Railroad Park to Red Mountain Park!  Which means, that you’d be able to ride from First Avenue Rocks to soon-to-open Birmingham Boulders!

Learn more here!

#OPTOUTSIDE

REI will be closed on Black Friday to promote #optoutside.

REI, along with Patagonia, Clif and other such companies of good character, were the inspiration for Idlewild, and they continue to inspire.  The #optoutside campaign is all about getting folks outside on Black Friday, away from the crowded aisles and consumerism.

Initiatives like 1% for the Planet, a network of responsible companies whose members share profits with conservation organizations around the wold, are changing the way businesses operate.  REI has just changed the game again.

It will be interesting to see how other companies in our industry and others will react.  Will any of our local outdoor retailers #optoutside?  And who will be the first major player in the grocery world to say, “We’ll see you on Wednesday, we’ll see our families on Thursday and we’ll be playing outside on Friday”?

Corporations have power, influence and, thus, responsibility.  Support those that #optoutside?

Read more on this movement here.

HipCamp

The day of calling a campground to reserve a campsite, hoping that there are trees to hang your hammocks and wondering if there will be water nearby, are over thanks to HipCamp.

Although it launched only a couple of years ago, HipCamp hosts listings for thousands of campgrounds across the United States, and they are rolling out a land-sharing program to make it possible to camp close to wherever you are!

HipCamp is a social phenomenon and with a quarter of a million active users and counting, there will soon be images and descriptions along with reviews and recommendations for all listings.  It’s a beautiful program, and we are looking to get involved.

Look out for updates on Tentsile sites at Oak Mountain State Parks, insights on where to make basecamp for climbing around Alabama, and much more from the Idlewild HipCamp profile!

Check them out at hipcamp.com!

TED Talk: Tommy Caldwell

TED Talk: Tommy Caldwell

This TED Talk is not only for rock climbers and other adventurers, it’s for everyone who has endured hardships… It’s for everyone.

In this video Tommy Caldwell shares the story of his captivity in Kyrgyzstan, and his conquest of the Dawn Wall; and he challenges us all to push past the self-imposed limits of our perceived potential. He asks us to see adversity as opportunity.

The message in this video hits close to home here at Idlewild. We are, after all, a climbing company at our core. And climbing, while seemingly a pointless pursuit, is in fact, the perfect pursuit… That of better self.

Watch the video here.

Denali Reborn!

Denali Reborn!

During a recent visit to Alaska, President Obama made a move with cultural significance not only for Alaskan natives but also for the climbing community.

The tallest peak on the North American continent, once known as Denali, was called Mount McKinley in honor of President William McKinley from 1917 until just now.  President McKinley has plenty of other great things named after him from museums and high schools, but there is only one Denali.

More information on this topic can be found in this NPR interview.

Looking Glass, NC

Looking Glass, NC

Deep in the heart of Pisgah National Forest, the promised land of western North Carolina, a plutonic monolith (read: one big igneous rock) rises up above the treetops to inspire climbers and hikers alike to look out on Transylvania County from the top!  The sun’s reflection on the granite surface gives the mountain its name — Looking Glass Rock.

Classic climbs like the Nose, Peregrine and Glass Menagerie draw climbers from around the world to Looking Glass.  The unique “eyebrow” formations make for a different style of climbing, and there are single and multi-pitch routes for climbers of all skill levels.  There is free camping along the forest service roads that lead to the approach trails to the rock, and there are great restaurants and breweries in the nearby town of Brevard.  Looking Glass is pretty much a climber’s dream come true!