Pete Kamitses is one of the USA’s top climbers. His route China Glide, a 5.14d/9a test piece in Rumney, New Hampshire, is a testament to his ability on rock. However, this unassuming, laid-back climber from Vermont also has a talent for translating his sport climbing talents to the trad game with spectacular results: first ascents of 5.14a lines protected by traditional gear puts him into a very elite category of climbers.
Pete’s passion lies in the remote Adirondack Park in upstate New York. A vast area of over six million acres, it is home to a mind-boggling array of routes and climbing styles yet it’s rare to see other climbers anywhere but the more popular cliffs. The Adirondacks are the scene of Pete’s most challenging and desperate trad lines, including his 2011 masterpiece Oppositional Defiance Disorder, which at 5.14a is a serious contender for the hardest pure trad route in the North East.
Another piece of Adirondack rock that has received Pete’s attentions is Moss Cliff, which he describes as “one of my all-time favourite cliffs on the planet”. His obsession with Moss Cliff began in 2006 when he joined forces with New Hampshire-based Dave Sharratt to establish trad line Fire in the Sky (5.13b, 4 pitches): a series of overhanging cracks linked by sections of hard face climbing. Pete returned to link the top two pitches of this route into a 140ft 5.13c, taking multiple 30ft falls onto well-spaced cams as he battled the pump near the top of the pitch. A month later he was back at Moss Cliff and established Illuminescence (5.13d), just right of Fire in the Sky.
Pete then linked the cruxes of these routes to create the Adirondack’s first 5.14a, Ill Fire, which he reckons is one of his top climbing experiences, saying, “It has the perfect blend of challenges: technique, timing, endurance, focus, power, risk, length and belief. And the position is as good as it gets.”