Trying to write about naked climbing instantly turned into a reporting chase.
That’s because I decided that if I was going to write about it, I was going to find at least one person who had climbed the Eldorado Canyon classic The Naked Edge in the buff. I assumed someone had done it for two reasons:
1. It’s in the name and is thus begging to be done, and,
2. Climbers do dumb stuff like this all the time.
Along the reporting way, I learned many interesting tidbits (ahem) about naked climbing that didn’t make it into my column on the topic.
For example, I learned that one acquaintance of mine recalled the year and route details of his naked ascents, which he reported by email:
“…the first time being on the route “Magnolia Thunder Pussy”, a trad stemming corner at Granite Mtn. Arizona that begged for a naked ascent (’89), the second on the “Moonshine Dihedral” at Smith Rocks in (90) when we all (6)climbed naked in the full-moon night, and most recently in Corsica where we climbed roadside while naked- figured the french wouldn’t mind!?!”
I also learned about the Mojo Club via one of my Twitter followers. To become a member, one must climb naked in the three rock climbing disciplines (bouldering, sport, trad) and memorize all the words to a Mojo Nixon song.
While this was all entertaining, I still hadn’t found my Edge climber. A lot of people I asked said, ‘I don’t know anyone, but try so-and-so.’ Then so-and-so would point me to another so-and-so. Until I found Charley Bentley and Phil Benningfield, who both admitted to climbing the Edge naked in 1996, or at least, Charley thinks it was ’96.
Phil emphatically said, however, that true credit should go to two other climbers, Jeff Hollenbaugh and Cameron Tague, who did it from the base, and thus did it in better naked style, I suppose.
When I caught up with Jeff, he reported:
Jeff, I’m psyched to report it for you!
I’m also psyched to report that Phil has soloed routes in Rifle naked — but only the ones he really had wired, he said. Whew. Also, I hear from multiple sources that Charley has done a naked ascent of Rifle’s (roadside) Vitamin H, 5.12d, with a watermelon in a rope bag dangling from his harness.
The purpose of the watermelon in the rope bag remains unknown.
Ugh, yet another reporting chase…