Davis Sends Moab Testpiece

Posted on: April 22, 2008

Steph Davis on the first female ascent and third ascent of Concepcion (ungraded, 220'), Day Canyon, near Moab, Utah, on April 6, 2008. Concepcion was established in 2003 by Dean Potter, and is the free link-up of the two-pitch aid route Acromaniac (5.10 A0). [Photo] Peter Mortimer / Sender Films

On April 6, Steph Davis made the first female ascent and third ascent of Concepcion (ungraded, 220') in Day Canyon, near Moab, Utah. Established in 2003 by Davis's husband, Dean Potter, Concepcion was the first free ascent and link-up of the two-pitch aid route Acromaniac (5.10 A0). Concepcion received its second ascent earlier this year by Alex Honnold (whose recent free solo of Zion's Moonlight Buttress was reported in the April 7, 2008 NewsWire).


Davis described Concepcion as "definitely one of the most striking splitter cracks I've seen." She added that it was her most technically demanding project ever—the crack is off-size for her in both the finger and offwidth sections.

A hard boulder-problem start involves long reaches to small finger locks for the first two moves; above, it slowly widens from a thin seam to offwidth. "In the final crux section of the rattly splitter I was actually falling out of the crack as I jabbed between ring locks," Davis said. "So I just started yelling, and somehow flew back into the rock, doing move after move at maximum exhaustion, almost in a warrior trance state."

Davis said she placed only two cams in the last 70-80 feet, which is the second pitch of the original route Acromaniac (5.10 A0).

"Since [the upper section] was that cupped hands/almost fist size in loose, steep, sandy rock (rather than sinker hand jams, which would have been safe with no gear), I decided it was worth the weight to bring two cams and run it out a little less, rather than risk a 150 footer onto the old pin anchor if something broke," she said.

Davis on Concepcion (ungraded, 220') in the lower section's rattly finger locks. [Photo] Nick Rosen / Sender Films

Having successfully weathered a sprained and crushed ankle, seven stitches in her thigh, and a sprained knee due to BASE jumping and other winter activities, Davis’s training was plagued by injury. However, Davis credits BASE jumping and her lower body injuries as reasons why she was able to climb Concepcion, mainly because they pushed her into a regime of lifting weights and fingerboard training.

"This climb was really physical for me, and in the end, I needed to just get stronger to be able to let go and place gear and have the weight of that much rope out below me through the rattly fingers section," Davis said. "So hurting my legs in random accidents was actually good."

She added that BASE jumping made her comfortable with falling, feeling afraid and responding to fear with deliberate action instead of hesitation. "Finally getting to climb Concepcion, after being mostly benched from rock climbing all winter, made me feel so grateful," Davis wrote in her blog. "The sudden revelation of what I have learned from BASE jumping in these months, and realizing that those lessons fit directly back into climbing, is a flip I never expected."

Sources: Steph Davis, www.highinfatuation.com

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riadi said: "I'd be very surprised to hear that any of you clean tickmarks after climbing yourselves."

Your right. Cause I never put them up to begin with. The only chalk on the wall is from my hand using holds, not marking them before the climb.

Oops. My apologies, I commented too quickly - I was referring to plain chalk marks not "ticks". Cheers -

2008-09-25 18:49:10
B. Kimball

I personally have suffered for years with extreme Obsessive Compulsive Tick Marking Disorder. Even being so struck with the sickness of this disease to find a tick marked crack such as this to be a thing of shear beauty (something similar to the beauty of a nice new set of Petzl Sprits hanging on a lovely piece of blue limestone). I realize a person in my condition is simply blind to the truth and is in need of serious counsel.

In defense of Mrs. Potter and anyone else finding it necessary to tick their right hand-left hand, thumbs up-thumbs down or 'gear goes here' placements on these crack climbing test pieces:

Most people who do not use tick marks are typically not climbing on routes that they are consistently falling 50+ times on any one given attempt; therefore they may not understand that it really does matter where (down to the quarter inch) each individual jam should go. There are sweet spots on routes like this and by ticking your sequence you increase your chances of doing the route in say less than 100+ try's. If you are as strong as Alex H. climbing routes like Conception on his 2nd try or if you are climbing on routes that are significantly below your level then you will find said tick marks annoying and unnecessary, rightly so.

For those who enjoy pushing thier physical limits to the absolute max weather it be 5.8 or 5.14 you will need ever bit of edge that you can get. Brushing holds, stick clipping, weight loss, kneepads, tape and even tick marks can be considered standard practices in the pursuit of pushing ones absolute limits in personal difficulty although not everyone participates in all of these forms of 'jesery'. If this style of climbing is not your cup of tea then 'no worries bro', no one is forcing you to lower your standards.

To ask climbers like Mr. and Mrs. Potter or Dave Graham or anyone else who is pushing their limits to refrain from using tick marks is just not realistic. Although there have been a few climbers who have climbed very difficult routes at there personal limit without the advantage of tick marks these climbers are few and far between. This is a style that we should all strive for but again is not very realistic on routes or boulders of such extreme difficulty.

In the end when the ascent is complete the climber will either brush the ticks off or the rain will wash them away. Anyone climbing at the V8-5.13 level that Steph climbs at (without the advantage of using tick marks) deserves a big hearty PROP'S!

2008-04-29 00:19:32

Wow, armchair mountaineers unite!!! This is what cracks, no pun intended, me up about climbing media. You poofs read this little blurb and decided to get on your high horse, pathetic! I don't know you guys or know what you do, but most "alpinists" I know train on all kinds of terrain. From desert cracks to limestone sport routes to granite boulders, so why the hostility? Steph doesn't need to prove herself and I don't know anyone who is more respectful to the desert than Steph.

Bravo for you if you don't use chalk at all, big props, you are so much more in tune with the true essence of climbing than the rest of us. What's the real difference from climbing with chalk on your hands and ticking? Really? The slippery slope? What's next? Give me a break. The same old tired arguments that brood during weekday office time on forums like this are incredibly hilarious. Doing routes like Concepcion are what make climbers like Steph able to do things in the mountains that you punks drool over. Don't hate on the Alpinist either, their just reporting on things that most reasonable people think are reportable. So, I've ranted enough, go back to your wet daydreams of Mark Twight or whoever you guys worship.

2008-04-28 22:41:11

Woooo easy friends. Tickmarks go climbs remain. I find it stupid to go after this great send based on the objections to tickmarks. Guys go out and do it "clean" then report back. Well I thought so. You lack the skill... So credit to the lady that beat us all.

2008-04-28 18:54:53

come on guys. don't hate because she's beautiful. hate her because she's a successful, shameless self-promoter with lots a free clothes and gear.

2008-04-27 21:05:27

Who cares?

Is this "Climbing" or "Alpinist"?

Steph Davis is whining, drama queen who's part of a industry-wide movement to mainstream this alternative pursuit we all thought was so exclusive and underground when we started up. Taking years to go through the grades was part of it. Now, it's straight to 5.13, or it's not even relevant. And basejumping, slacklining, etc.... C'mon? Why don't we just call it "Extreme People"

I used to subscribe to "Alpinist", thinking I was supporting something new and right.

But too many times, all we're given is glossy surreal spreads of places, I'll never go.

And that's money, not well spent. It's kind of like Architectural Digest.

It looks good on the coffee table, but really doesn't help you unless you're rich.

From now on, I'll give myself a choice as to whether I want to buy it or not.

As Topher Donohue once said, "Keep it real."

It used to be cool to climb 5.10. Actually, it still is.........

2008-04-26 16:46:23
Jason Halladay

Quote by Schooner: "So, what is so "Alpinist" about a chossy crack in the desert anyways?"

To quote by Jim Thornburg: "The divisions that used to separate trad, sport and mountain climbing are becoming less and less defined. Today's climber understands it's all part of the same pond: a skinny boulderer pushing standards in a gym sends out ripples that eventually make it to the mountains."

I, for one, appreciate reading on Alpinist.com about Davis' recent success on this route. Solid work, Steph!

2008-04-26 00:52:12

So, what is so "Alpinist" about a chossy crack in the desert anyways? Alpinist should keep this stuff reserved for people to spray about on their own blogs. And, really, who cares about ticks marks? This is "Alpinist" and not some fluorescent colored tight wearing sport climbing mag from the 80's. Or is it? I used to think this website really had something to say about the mountain culture. Now people just whine about their 32 meter chossy crags and try hard to get some press so that they can get free Marmot condoms or something. The soul of this culture is dessicating...potentially dead right now. Climbing used to be cool, now it's only cool if you actually find it rewarding within yourself without the need to hire a photographer to publish your achievements and go on tour with a film about yourself.

2008-04-25 11:10:56

I have plenty of respect for the climb. Doing an aid route without aid is hella hard. I don't care about leaving the tickmarks up, the rain will come and wash them away. Putting them there in the first place is what I disagree with. I have never used tickmarks, nor will I ever use them. It takes a lot of adventure and fun out of the climb if you know exactly where to go and what hold is coming next.

But enough flaming of Steph. She did accomplish an amazing route without the use of aid. Props for that.

2008-04-25 10:56:59

Dude, how about some respect for the proud send!!!! Humans have only been alive for the blink of an eye on the timescale of the earth. Those tickmarks will be gone in a nanosecond compared to how long the achievements of the few will last. All it takes is just one rainstorm. Big ups to dean, alex and steph, burly!!

2008-04-25 02:18:45

riadi said: "I'd be very surprised to hear that any of you clean tickmarks after climbing yourselves."

Your right. Cause I never put them up to begin with. The only chalk on the wall is from my hand using holds, not marking them before the climb.

2008-04-24 16:25:49

Congratulations to Steph on another hard project completed!!

On those focused on the tickmarks - I don't know where you climb, but tickmarks are everywhere, sport and trad areas alike. I'd be very surprised to hear that any of you clean tickmarks after climbing yourselves.



2008-04-24 15:36:12

To be fair to Steph, I did see a photo of Honnald's ascent in another mag that was just as much "connect the dots." It still sounds like an incredible climb. I only hope they gently removed all those tics.

2008-04-24 11:48:54

It's only missing some bolt-on holds, fans, shredded-rubber landings and shit noise coming from a pair of partially blown speakers. . . and the 12 dollar fee. Pathetic really.

2008-04-24 01:05:06

Agreed. Those tick marks are ridiculous. You might as well go climb at the gym. Not to mention it's a major eyesore.

2008-04-23 09:11:34

I dont know if Davis put those ticks there, or who; but come on people, show a little respect for the desert. That just looks horrible.

pat vernon

2008-04-23 07:11:56

Holy tickmarks Batman...

2008-04-22 15:53:42
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