McNamara shows the way
Some people go to a Touchstone gym to train. Chris McNamara goes because he likes it.
“I don’t train. I just climb,” he says. “For a long time pretty much all I did was climb in the gym and climb El Cap.”
The 27-year-old bachelor has been going to Mission Cliffs since he was a teenager and the gym was brand new.
“I was one of the first investors, and I worked there when I was in high school,” says McNamara. “The gyms just keep getting cooler. And there’s more people at the gyms, which is pretty cool. It’s definitely more fun when there are more climbers to meet and go climbing with.”
McNamara’s climbing has spawned a couple of ventures. Not satisfied with the El Capitan guidebook he was using in the late 1990s, he wrote his own article.
“I did one step, got a lot of great feedback from people, and went to the next level” he says.
Those steps evolved into SuperTopo, a series of climbing guidebooks published out of South Lake Tahoe. Key features include a history of the climbing route, pitch lengths, gear sizes, and detailed approach and descent maps.
Some climbers have said such detailed information takes the adventure out of climbing. While McNamara agrees that the sense of adventure is important, he doesn’t think he’s giving too much away.
“We listen to a lot of people, and go from there as far as deciding what to say. We don’t describe every single move,” he says. “Even with the information we provide, you still have to do all the climbing yourself.”
McNamara also founded the American Safe Climbing Association, a group that replaces deteriorating bolts on climbs throughout the country and educates climbers on safety. It grew out of his own efforts to replace bolts on El Capitan. He realized other people might be willing to help out, and the ASCA was born.
“I ran it for maybe five years,” he says. “I’m now kind of just on the board.”
McNamara continues to push boundaries. These days his big passions are big-wall climbing and BASE jumping, “finding new cliffs that haven’t been jumped off, and climbing big walls in a day that haven’t been done in a day."
Labels: Chris McNamara, climbing, El Capitan, members, mission cliffs, Tahoe