At the age of 14, Patagonia ambassador Ron Kauk left for a 20-day backpacking trip through the Sierra with a high school group and the hook that would tie him to large, expansive spaces was set. After that trip, he didn't want to ride bikes with the other teenagers. He wanted to rappel. He traveled to Yosemite in 1972, signed up for a rock climbing class and has been living there ever since.
Ron has been pushing the limits of free climbing worldwide for three decades: from the first ascent of Astroman and Midnight Lightning in the late '70s to the first 5.14 in the Valley in the '90s. Focused and passionate, he is a minimalist, well-grounded in all aspects of the rock. And when he's not climbing, Ron works to protect Yosemite from over-development and abuse.
"It's important to me to inspire people to get out in nature," he says. "I like to question: What's influencing them? What will get them out there? That's what I'm interested in."
Today we bring you the first in a series of audio dispatches from Ron and his home in the Yosemite Valley. Some of you may already be following Yosemite Bob on Twitter. Now we have another voice in the Valley and another way to keep the magic of Yosemite a little closer to our hearts and our daily lives.
Listen to "The Next Hold" (mp3 – right-click to download)
Music: "Big Sur A.M." by Sus Corez
For more from Ron, check out his DVD Return to Balance: A Climber's Journey available through the Ansel Adams Gallery.