Vertical Life is born

Right click to download Vertical Life Issue One (17406).

Psyched is a word climbers throw around all the time. Not that it is exclusively climber lingo but we don’t hear a lot of footballers saying, “Man, I was psyched to coathanger that guy, kick the goal then get a pat on the arse from my teammates,” or tennis players exhorting, “I was psyched to smash that forehand into Roger Federer’s smug Swiss face.” Maybe it’s just the X-gamesification of modern climbing. Or maybe it’s because climbing can be so confronting that you often need to be supercharged to even leave the ground, particularly when it’s hard or scary, and especially so when it’s both.

Psych, though, doesn’t just mean excited. In the climber’s vernacular the word can operate as a substitute for motivation. Whereas excited is like an acute state, motivation is a chronic one. You have to be psyched to train all winter alone on a fingerboard in a dank hole. You have to be psyched to drive four hours to your ‘local’ crag every weekend to feed your appetite for the vertical. You have to be really psyched to suffer through the night bivvying on a big mountain in the Karakoram. The drive to train, to push through pain and terror and doubt, is one that burns deeply.

To anyone who’s sought to push their climbing beyond a modest bumbly state, it’s obvious psych is as important as strength or technique. We all know plenty of climbers who crank far harder than more talented, stronger individuals purely because they are supremely motivated. Understanding this thing motivation, however, is hard and what motivates us can be opaque. It could be an aesthetic line, the potential attentions of a beautiful girl or boy, fame, fortune or fitness, the solitude of a remote area, the physical demands, the mental engagement, the flag-planting of being the first or just plain being the hardest. The pool of motivation is deep and broad.

This opacity allows us to easily lie to others about from where we draw our motivations – climbers do that all the time. Sometimes it’s not even a lie we tell others but an expression of just how difficult it can be to describe the hunger to hang from rocks. But lying to yourself is an entirely different, more difficult matter, particularly when you are well out from your last piece of questionable gear, gripped, pumped and alone. That’s generally when we find out how powerful our psych truly is.

Even if you can recognise it and describe it, despairingly, psych is often ephemeral. Desperately hard to hold on to, it’s buffeted by the need to earn a dollar, blighted by injuries, undermined by temptations and squeezed by the demands of Life. Often this squeeze means we sate our hunger vicariously, devouring magazines and books, scouring the web and drooling over videos.

Which brings us this, our new venture, Vertical Life. It takes a fair whack of motivation to breathe life into a new mag, but we are psyched on the stories that bind us climbers together and on the ways we tell those stories. We are psyched on the possibilities an expanding digital world opens up for us, both as producers and audiences.

The media is changing and it is 1s and 0s that are bringing about these changes. We’re not sure what form the nascent and nebulous digital media is going to take in the bright, beautiful future, nor how we are going to develop from here, but we do know that we want in. We want to explore the promises of new technologies. We want to connect with climbers through sound and vision and words and tell tall tales and true to entertain, engage and inform.

We are going to lift our eyes to our region and look towards the giant with the giant possibilities, China, to the rest of Asia and to our bros and sisters over the ditch in NZ. We think the climbing community deserves media that knows it, is a part of it, that cheers at it successes, yells at its stupidity and spanks it on the arse when it is bad.

We want to live a life in the vertical. And above all we want you to get your psych on.

Simon Madden & Ross Taylor, editors.


Vertical Life would never have been born without the graceful and generous support of our contributors, featured climbers, athletes, advertisers, designers, dirtbags, videographers, advice-givers, hand-holders, web gurus, belayers and Adventure Types. Thank you, our debt is great and our capacity to repay may fall short, but we love youse all.

Vertical Life is a home to many voices, if you would like to be one those voices, be it expressed in words, photography or video, send us an email on or

11 thoughts on “Vertical Life is born

  1. Paul

    Great to see a high quality, passionate contribution to climbing on line. About time. Thanks guys looking forward to the next one…

  2. Dew E. Hans

    Maddmen!!! Allah yes. Dig the scheme and layout of the site, phylosofy, Killer!! You guys are with it man. Bigg ups on the photos. This has inspired me to put down ma’ beers and start to get into shape to climb. Thank you. Keep up the good work.

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  6. timbigot

    At the risk of seeming as dumb as i am, is there a way of viewing the download in a smaller format so as to avoid having to scroll from side to side?


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