First Whippers of Spring? Wide Boyz and Hazelnutt Get Gripped, Bust Gear, Send E9/10

Spring has sprung, which means rock climbers around the world are emerging from their tents, varyingly diminished residences, and caves — to re-engage their bizarre single combat on cliffs.

Yes, the climbing season — in which people in tiny shoes dangle on ropes touching and re-touching small areas on rocks, vying for sporadic increments of upward progress — has begun. On the ground below, bemused onlookers are gathering to watch, at least until they get bored and walk away.

If you’re like me, you’re Jonesing for it. But that’s easy to do from the comfort of a task chair, through the safe proxy of a laptop screen. Getting on the sharp end of a desperately thin, questionably injurious trad climb that can shred gear like Easter confetti is another story.

That was the task for trad specialist Anna Hazelnutt and the Wide Boyz’ Tom Randall recently in Austria. Watch the two climbers battle it out with Prinzip Hoffnung, E9/10 (or 5.14a R), a Beat Kammerlander classic on awful fingertip divots and razor blades.

Watch this one start with a bang, then stay tuned as Hazelnutt and Randall negotiate the arcane craft of the upper-echelon trad climber.

If you’re dying for dry rock and sunny days at the crag, just think: Your chance to engage in excruciating physical discomfort and sheer terror is right around the corner!

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents’ evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.