In 1976, Earl Wiggins, Ed Webster and Bryan Becker made the historic first ascent of the desert climb Supercrack. At the time, leading such a steep, parallel, sandstone crack was audacious–it was before the widespread use of cams, and they had to trust their hexes would hold. Luckily two friends, Stewart Green and Michael Gardner, had the foresight to film the historic event. Now, thirty years later, Chris Alstrin of alstrinfilms (and filmmaker of Higher Ground) reveals the footage for the first time, blending it with a retrospective from the first ascensionists themselves. Stay tuned to alpinist.com for Luxury Liner updates and five exclusive shorts.
From “Life on the Edge,” by Stewart Green
The second week of November, 1976. Earl Wiggins slung a rack of clunky six-sided Hexentric nuts over his shoulder, nodded at Bryan Becker, who held a rope threaded through a Sticht belay plate that would act as a brake if he fell, standing on the ledge beside him and launched up Supercrack.
The first ascent of Supercrack was a tangible manifestation of the possibilities of rock climbing. Before its ascent, it was a great unknown if Supercrack and the many other splitter cracks that lined the cliffs in Indian Creek Canyon as well as elsewhere in the canyon country could be safely protected and climbed. The uncertainty was if any gear would actually wedge against the smooth walls inside the soft sandstone’s parallel sided crack and keep a falling climber from crashing into the ground.