Capturing Midnight Lightning w/ Tommy Caldwell & Corey Rich


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Gym climber
left sac
Sep 4, 2008 - 10:24am PT
but the Thimble in the Needles, done in very bold style in 1961 by John Gill, is far more famous...

Having learned to climb approximately equidistant from both boulder problems in question, my impression is that Pat is wrong.

I didn't even hear about The Thimble until Sherman started spraying like a Rainbird after numerous beers in 2002, whereas I had heard about ML when I first started bouldering in '95 or '96.

But that is just my experience... I'm sure everyone in Venezuela knows The Thimble and has never heard of ML... yeah...

the gray bands
Sep 6, 2008 - 11:56am PT
with all due respect to Mr. Ament, there is no way that the Thimble is more famous than Midnight Lightning. I doubt that the Thimble is more famous than White Rastafarian.
Not discounting what John Gill did, it's just that the Thimble is in South Dakota, the other two are in Yosemite, and Joshua Tree.

Social climber
wuz real!
Sep 6, 2008 - 01:03pm PT
I heard about the Thimble first, mainly because Midnight lightning hadn't been climbed yet.

The Thimble is an amazing climb, esp when you consider the times, the style and the 'footwear' (shudder). But they are climbs of two seperate times. Those guys had trained on Gill problems in Co before ML (I think that's the way the temporal sequence goes).

There are a bunch of reasons why Midnight Lightning is going to be more famous to contemporary climbers.

For one thing Midnight lightning is a Lot harder than the thimble. I climbed The Thimble in'88 with Muehl directional beta and a toprope (yeah, yeah, Rope dab) and although I think I once had a shot @ ML those days are probably thankfully gone, I barely get off the ground when I wander by it these days. I think i could do The Thimble on a good day.

The thimble is a long continuos concentration piece. ML is shorter (I'm not calling it short) and very powerful, the kind of climb that is 'In' these days.

On top of that it's gotten a lot more international attention in recent years and and is a easier to find, unless you are already in North Western South Dakota. And, it's the kind of thing young strong climber's aspire to do these day.

The Thimble is (perhaps arguably) of greater historic significance, but Midnight Lightening is getting a lot more attention right now and has gotta be more famous.

Now, if you could crater off ML onto a VistaCruiser™ or find the Midnight Lightning of The Needles, you'd be on to something!

Ice climber
Vienna, VA
Feb 9, 2009 - 03:44pm PT
Yeah I started climbing some 6 yrs ago on the East Coast and hadn't heard of ML until I got this piece of news... I had read quite a bit about The Thimble though... Maybe it would be better to call ML a worldwide famous problem and avoid the "most"...

Boulder climber
Livermore, Ca
Feb 10, 2009 - 09:13pm PT
I really dig the work the Corey put into shooting the stills. It is a big step forward in multimedia production. And Corey being my biggest hero in photography makes it all the better.

Bishop, CA
Feb 10, 2009 - 09:26pm PT
What a great boulder. I was lucky enough to a few prime weather bouldering days in Camp 4 last fall. Hopefully I'll get some more time there in the spring.

Trad climber
Las Vegas
Feb 11, 2009 - 03:55pm PT

I am with Jaybro and the others that say the Thimble is a more iconic problem. But then I read about Gills achievement long before Midnight lightning had been done.


Kaulk must be becoming aware and cautious of what he says publicly.
Bachar in his slide shows still freely talks about the 'enhanced awareness' that Yabo was under the influence of when he first conceptualized the moves of the problem, info not typically volunteered these days.


Kaulk talks about the symbol of the 'Bolt'. He seems to draw no solid conclusion as to the effect or purpose of the symbol.
I first arrived in C-4 in the fall of 79. At that time I was completely ignorant to the existence of the 'Stone Masters'. I was in the habit of leathering the uppers of my EB's but I will never forget the first time I saw a pair of EB's with the bolt stitched into the applied leather uppers. Neither here nor there but I do not remember who they belonged too. It was in the C-4 rescue site gym. I am thinking they were Cashner's.
From that time on I always made a mental correlation between the Stone Masters, Kaulk and Midnight lightning.

Is this just me ^ ?


Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Feb 11, 2009 - 04:47pm PT
Super cool.

I also heard of the Thimble first, because it was done first.
I think it holds the more significant status, but not more famous.

It's in the middle of Camp IV for cryin' out loud.
There are thousands of climbers who have oggled that thing that haven't had the pleasure of reading about Gill.
They should.

Mountain climber
San Diego
Feb 11, 2009 - 06:37pm PT
Awesome resource! I say resource, because I will view this video over and over and over again.

The video is really good. Short but very good. I really liked hearing Kauk talk about ML. I would like to know more about that whole story. I know it was kinda a competition between Kauk and Bacher, with Kauk being the first to pull it off. I know that some issue of Climbing mag covers this in the mags hay-day. Perhaps someone could find that article and scan it? Hint. Hint.

It has been years since I have tried, but I did make it to the lightning bolt hold, couldn't match and then fell, like I'm sure so many have. Great, I got to the beginning of the crux section. Wow. The beta is all here, watching Tommy over and over. There is No Excuse now right??????

It is a nice dream to dream about. I would like to try again. Thanks for sharing this.

Gym climber
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Feb 11, 2009 - 08:20pm PT
Nice pics of Tommy!

Who drew that damn bolt there? What a bonehead....
Jeremy Handren

Feb 11, 2009 - 09:08pm PT
Does that ranger actually believe that Yosemite is the birthplace of modern climbing? Yogi needs a history lesson.

Trad climber
the campfire just a ways past Chris' Taco stand
Feb 11, 2009 - 09:20pm PT
I won't weigh in because I don't know sh#t from shinola when it comes to this stuff (though these problems are neither!). An interesting history lesson in a dynamic kind of way.

Does anyone have any photos of the Thimble? I'm intrigued.

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