4 Images

Conquering the Cobra Crack

Didier Berthod reaches for a handhold on Cobra Crack as he moves across the rough rock face. (Topher Donahue / Alpinecreative)
Conquering the cirque
Berthod lays out his safety equipment. Because of runoff from terrain above, the Swiss climber prepares for the climb by drying the entire length of the fissure with a blowtorch. (Topher Donahue/Alpinecreative)
Cobra crack
The narrow fissure is known as Cobra Crack, a dramatic overhang stretching 70 feet amid the granite bluffs of Stawamus Chief. (Topher Donahue / Alpinecreative)
Final move
Berthod finds a tiny flake to jam his middle finger underneath to gain leverage. His finger will be the counterweight and his elbow the fulcrum for his final move. He says, “I ask myself why I do it.” (Topher Donahue / Alpinecreative)