Pros Raise Funds to Support Layton Kor

Posted on: June 18, 2010

Tommy Caldwell jugs up to Mikael Sribhadung, a Swedish climber who donated $4,000 to a medical fund that will help Layton Kor pay his medical bills. The two climbers teamed up for a charity ascent of Mescalito on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park from May 13-16. [Photo] Mikael Sribhadung

For four days in May, Tommy Caldwell temporarily shelved his dreams of freeing Mescalito (VI 5.9 A3-, 2,800') for a more important objective. Instead of sussing 5.14 moves, Caldwell took a traditional approach, aiding quickly up the El Capitan classic with Swedish climber Mikael Sribhadung. While their ascent was not boundary breaking, it was certainly distinguished: the effort raised funds for a pioneer in need.


The charity climb was part of a larger donation project to help Layton Kor, 72, in his struggle with kidney disease. Sribhadung donated $4,000 to Kor for the opportunity to climb Mescalito with Caldwell from May 13-16.

Kor's climbing resume is the only introduction he needs. In 1961, he made the first ascent of Castleton Tower. In 1962, he was first to climb The Titan. That same year he completed Yellow Wall (V 5.8 A4), the second route on the Diamond of Longs Peak in Colorado, and the Naked Edge (III 5.9 A3) in Eldorado Canyon. Kor was on the 1966 team that pioneered the Harlin Direttissima (ED3/4, 1800m) on the Eiger Nordwand in winter. And in Yosemite, around the corner from Mescalito, he climbed the first ascent of the West Buttress (VI 5.10 A3) and the second ascent of Salathe Wall (VI 5.9 C2). In 1964, he established the popular South Face of Washington Column (V 5.8 C1).

Kor climbing recently in the Mt. Nutt Wilderness, Arizona. [Photo] Stewart M. Green

The fundraising effort started in late March, 2009 after Ed Webster, Stewart Green and Dennis Jump visited and climbed with Kor in western Arizona. Seeing that he was ailing and struggling to pay for his tri-weekly dialysis, hospital stays and medication, Green put together a small fundraiser to help offset medical costs. Initially, Green started selling signed photos of Kor on some of his historic climbs. The first two images he sold were of Kor's 1963 first ascent of Monster Tower, just outside Moab, Utah.

Kor being one of her climbing inspirations, climber Steph Davis bought one of those photos and decided to support the effort in other ways. "Layton needed help, and I thought the climbers should help him," she said.

Kor in Kingman, Arizona, April 2009. [Photo] Stewart M. Green

Davis initially wanted to do a charity guiding event, but thought a raffle might raise more money. With Green's help, they informed potential climbing industry partners about the raffle. When numerous sympathetic companies obliged, they set up to raffle gear and generate awareness. The effort gained momentum, and a number of climbers donated their time for charity guiding bids on Kor classics. It became known as "Climb with the Pros" and included days with Jimmy Dunn on Scenic Cruise (V 5.10d) in Colorado's Black Canyon of the Gunnison; Steph Davis on Castleton Tower's Kor-Ingalls (III 5.9); Tommy Caldwell on Kor's Flake (III 5.8) at Lumpy Ridge, Colorado; Conrad Anker on the South Face of Washington Column in Yosemite; and Eric Horst at the Gunks in New York. Green also guided a few individuals up Independence Monument in Colorado for big donations.

Climb with the Pros was hugely successful, to the point that Davis and Green were swamped with emails from climbers who wanted to donate for guided days outside the planned raffles. As a result, Davis climbed a bonus day on Castleton Tower last September and Caldwell agreed to climb Mescalito with Sribhadung. His donation was the largest individual contribution so far and put the fundraising efforts close to $20,000.

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