The Team

The Team

The crew started to form at Dartmouth College circa 2009, where Jacob, Remy, and Mike all learned to climb with the Dartmouth Mountaineering Club. In 2012 Sam tagged along with his sister Melanie to climb with Remy and Mike in Colorado and turned out to be an instant crusher – and addict. In 2015 Tyler met the others on the absurdly long Mexican sport route “Time Wave Zero” where, after learning what time Tyler planned to start, the others beat him to the base by a few minutes and proceeded to slow him down all day while Sam learned how to climb multipitch. Inexplicably, Tyler decided to be friends with the gumbies (and Sam was the only person of the hordes on the route to send that day).

A few days later, Remy, Sam and Mike attempted El Sendero Luminoso, a 15-pitch 12d testpiece for the area, with a lot of enthusiasm and low expectations. We eked out a collective onsight, one member sending every pitch on lead. This sparked some new ideas for the crew – with 18 hard-boiled eggs and a couple hundred bolts, was there anything we could not climb?

The next September, Sam sent a brief email with a link to some info about a new route in São Tomé: “This looks nuts.  Let’s go! … the first ascent is up for grabs!”

Mike: “I’m in!”

Remy: “You can climb v8 followed by steady 13b no problem, right Sam? I can take the wet 13c runout corner with no holds”

Tyler: ”Lol, when?”

Jacob: [There’s no record of Jacob’s response but presumably he said] “I would love the opportunity to film such talented, charismatic, and kind friends, that sounds delightful. They’re also very good-looking.”

We got psyched and started training. We went back to Mexico and met Gaz Leah, one of the team that established the route. We went to Bishop, because apparently to climb large hard things it helps to climb very hard small things first. Unfortunately, the boulders in Bishop are actually quite tall, and Sam broke his foot in a fall off Saigon Direct. Surgery and months of hangboarding followed, and we postponed the trip indefinitely with a mix of disappointment and relief. Sam was not deterred; he got climbing rubber glued to the bottom of an air-cast and sent some 5.12s in Rifle on top rope.

The crew went to Yosemite to learn to climb big walls. Sam discovered that crack climbing is extra painful with a recently healed foot while climbing the Rostrum with Tyler, but the others had a very productive trip. Tyler, Mike, and Remy climbed Astroman – Remy reported that the Harding Slot was “pleasant”. Remy and Mike climbed the Nose, then Remy repeated it in a day a week later. Mike and Remy succeeded in not dying on the chosspile “Ho Chi Minh Trail”.

Psych started to build again, and when Sam rallied the troops this past winter, we were all in.

Sam Daulton

At the age of 2 and pre-ambulation, Sam was crawling around the chalk-dust coated rubber of the Hidden Peak climbing gym in Chicago, captivated by the towering 25 ft walls. Following in his sister Melanie’s footsteps, Sam began climbing at the age of 4. Sam competed at the youth US National Championships many times, but rarely climbed outside during his childhood. In high school, Sam took a hiatus from climbing to pursue other interests, only returning to climbing in college when Melanie introduced Sam to the world of sport climbing at Rumney, NH. Quickly consumed by Rumney projects, Sam returned to climbing with a newfound dedication.  It was not long before Sam was back to competing – this time in the collegiate circuit. Sam was a finalist at US Collegiate Nationals every year he competed, a member of the US Collegiate National Team, and semi-finalist at the 2016 World University Championships in Shanghai, China.

In March 2017, Sam shattered his talus (ankle) bone and broke his foot in a fall off the notorious high-ball Saigon Direct (V9) in Bishop, CA. Sam did not let 3 months on crutches interrupt his training, nor did he let the following 2 months in a boot stop him from sending multiple 5.12s in Rifle, CO. Miraculously, Sam has returned from the injury and is climbing harder than ever. Sam has redpointed 5.14a, sent half a dozen 5.13+ routes, and on-sighted 5.13b.

Now based in San Francisco, Sam is a data scientist at Facebook working on graph-based inference. Sam frequents Yosemite, Tahoe, and Jailhouse in between climbing trips to destinations across the US and world.

Why did you decide to go to São Tomé?

I’m not much of a trad climber, but I have always been inspired by wild spires and impressive big walls. So the idea of a bolted, crazy-looking tower has me pretty psyched.

What are you most excited about for the trip?

The adventure. I am not sure if we will send the thing – I sure hope we do – but I do know that this will be a total adventure and that we have a hell of a crew to see it through.

Most concerned about?

Rockfall, weather, snakes, insects – in that order. I believe rockfall presents the greatest danger and will be exacerbated by heavy rainfall. Snakes would be a greater concern, but Tyler has agreed to be the designated snake-handler. The insects will be exciting; insects seem to be a whole lot bigger in the remote tropics.

What is your proudest accomplishment in climbing?

On-sighting Camino del Chino and extension (8a) in El Salto. There is something about climbing a route without prior knowledge, with no expectations, and for pure enjoyment that is exhilarating and liberating. When you walk away with an unexpected on-sight, it is even better.

After São Tomé, what is your next big goal?

Free the Rostrum (5.11c) in Yosemite, CA. It’s about time for me to face my crack/trad climbing inadequacies.

Remy Franklin

Remy is a rock climber, yogi and recently trained life coach based in Santa Cruz, CA as of August 2018. As a coach, Remy supports activists, entrepreneurs, academics, athletes and community leaders so they can lead lives they are proud of and contribute to their communities. Remy started climbing in 2009 as a college student with the Dartmouth Outing Club in New Hampshire, where he was quickly initiated into Rumney’s culture of projecting hard sport climbs. Eight years and one master’s degree in Arizona later, Remy left academia to pursue climbing more seriously. He has redpointed 14a, now trains with coach Steve Bechtel and has a growing passion for big wall free climbing. Some of Remy’s favorite climbs are Technosurfing (Rumney, NH), El Infierno de Dante (El Salto, MX) and The Original Route (Red Rock, NV). When not climbing, Remy is passionate about renewable energy, social justice, climate activism and yoga.

Why did you decide to go to São Tomé?

Sam first told me about Nubivagant in 2016, not long before we met up for a two week sport climbing trip in the mountains above Monterrey, Mexico. We got excited about attempting an FFA of the route, a possibility that became more realistic after we both redpointed our first 14a on that trip to El Salto. I guess the appeal has always been adventure, as well as the possibility of trying something that has never been done before. Mostly, São Tomé was a chance for another great trip making memories and learning new skills and lessons with a close group of friends.

Before flying back to the US, Sam, Mike and I met up with Gaz Leah at a restaurant in downtown Monterrey and discussed our idea. Fresh back from the adventure himself, Gaz gave us his blessing – along with vague beta and stories about basketball-sized spiders – and we started planning logistics.

What are you most excited about for the trip?

Working with a team on a single, formidable objective. I’ve never projected a big wall before, and I’m excited for collaboration and tactics we’ll have to rely on to have a chance of sending.

Most concerned about?

Rock fall.

What is your proudest accomplishment in climbing?

Onsighting The Original Route (12- trad, 1000’, 14 pitches) up Rainbow Wall in Red Rock, NV, leading every pitch. I had a great follower and everything went perfectly. It was an amazing day.

After São Tomé, what is your next big goal?

Fully healing from some lingering injuries, then establishing myself as a 5.14 climber. Then I’d like to free The Nose.

Jacob Kupferman

Jacob Kupferman is a professional sports photographer, covering both organized sports teams and outdoor athletes. He regularly photographs the NFL, NHL, and several NCAA Division I College Football and Basketball teams. He has been published by Sports Illustrated, ESPN, The Wall Street Journal, CBS, NBC, and several other newspapers and media outlets. Examples of his outdoors photography projects include a promotional video for the Dartmouth Outing Club and a short rock climbing film following two climbers in Morocco. He has also filmed professional climbers, such as Kevin Mahoney, and contributed footage for Black Diamond promotional videos. Jacob is currently based in Charlotte, NC and covers the Carolina Panthers, Clemson football, UNC/Duke basketball, and much more. A link to his work can be found here: www.kupfermanphotography.com

Why did you decide to go to São Tomé?

An opportunity to photograph top level climbers in a remote destination has been a dream of mine for a while. Being able to be a part of such a great team of not just climbers, but friends, is something that I knew I couldn’t pass up.

What are you most excited about for the trip?

I’m most excited about being able to document this climb through still images, video, and VR content. I’m hoping that this will give us a wide range of outlets and a broad audience with which to share this adventure.

Most concerned about?

I can’t decide if I’m more nervous about being bitten by a snake or dropping my camera. I think the snakes would keep me up at night, but dropping the camera would probably bother me for longer.

What is your proudest accomplishment in photography?

Getting the cover shot of Sports Illustrated last Fall. It was an honor and a dream come true.

After São Tomé, what is your next big goal?

Editing all the footage from the camera that I didn’t drop. And hoping to find different channels in which we can share the climb with others.

Tyler Rohr

Tyler started climbing after he realized that the waves weren’t so great on the East Coast. Having moved from San Diego to Durham for college, he slowly but surely realized he wasn’t much of a surfer anymore and began to find a new home in the mountains. Over the last seven years since he first tied in to a rope he has progressed from being scared of falling while sport climbing to being scared of falling while trad climbing and still hasn’t learned how to boulder. Since moving to an even less hospitable climate in Boston for graduate school he has grown to love all that climbing in the Northeast has to offer, from the cryptic nonsense at Rumney to the poor man’s alpine atop Cannon to the false hope of the first “warm” day of winter.  He insists that he means that sincerely.

For real life, Tyler anticipates completing his doctorate in Chemical Oceanography at MIT this coming winter. Tyler stumbled into oceanography after he learned it would allow him to reach his life-long dream of joining a research expedition to Antarctica. After returning from the Western Antarctic Peninsula last spring, life-long dream achieved, he has reluctantly decided in might make sense to stick around and finish his PhD. He also loves music but wonders if that shouldn’t be the going assumption for all humans.  

Why did you decide to go to São Tomé?

Climbing, for me, has always been about more than climbing. It has been about all the weighty stuff that pantomimes some semblance of gravity in my day to day life, but it has also been about the incredible friends and extraordinary places that come with it. This is good because I’m not actually very good at climbing.

Once I realized I had the opportunity to join this expedition I literally couldn’t say no. It was everything I looked for in climbing: A first rate sufferfest with great friends and no chance of sending.  Success though, as always, will be defined by our collective will to push through rather adverse conditions and come out the other side of this adventure better for it.

What are you most excited about for the trip?

As a proud member of the B-team, I’d love to see the A-team send the thing.  But mostly, I’m just excited for the adventure, and maybe a margarita or two when it is all said and done.  

Most concerned about?

Snakes. Definitely Snakes. (Just kidding mom)

What is your proudest accomplishment in climbing?

Probably the shear number of times I’ve avoided having to boulder outside.  That or getting up Astroman in relatively good style (with Mike and Remy no less!)

After São Tomé, what is your next big goal?

I’d like to send Beat Junkie, spend a month in Coachamo this January flailing epicly, and maybe try to graduate.  

Michael Swartz

Mike learned to climb on a NOLS trip to Red Rocks in 2007. He was initially hooked by the adventure of long, easy, traditional routes. Shortly after he started at college, where the Dartmouth Mountaineering Club nurtured his climbing addiction and introduced him to an incredible community of fellow addicts and enablers. After graduating Mike worked as a climbing guide in Colorado, with some freelance writing on the side. When he was displaced by the flood of 2013, he hit the road, traveling, climbing and writing his way across Asia and Europe. There he discovered the joy of clipping bolts, that climbing hard routes without fear is way more fun!

Shoulder trashed by Thai tufas and stomach trashed by Nepali curries, Mike limped home and set out to become an ordinary tax-payer. He now lives in Somerville, MA and works as a software developer. Despite the limitations of being employed Mike has continued to push his climbing, redpointing up to 5.13a and traveling regularly to climb, most often with Remy, Tyler, and Sam.

Why did you decide to go to São Tomé?

When I gave up my gig as a vagabond writer / traveling climber in 2015, I promised to myself that it was not going to be the end of adventures for me. I’ve stuck to that promise more than I expected, but the adventure has come more from the climbing and less from the destinations. I’ve veered towards planned and relatively short climbing trips to popular crags, and away from the type of aimless wandering around remote islands that I’d had in mind. While this trip requires an absurd amount of planning and is still relatively short, our planning cannot possibly be thorough enough to forestall the types of unforeseen challenges that make for a truly great adventure, and I can’t imagine a better group with which to wander around a remote island.

What are you most excited about for the trip?

Spending time with the team, entirely focused on the trip, our objective, and each other. And summiting a jungle-topped tower where only a handful of people have been!

Most concerned about?

The weather. This will have been a lot of shenanigans if it rains the whole time.

What is your proudest accomplishment in climbing?

Oddly enough for a proud sport-weenie, climbing the Nose of El Capitan with Remy last year. Definitely the hardest 5.9 I’ve climbed.

After São Tomé, what is your next big goal?

Predator is my home crag of Rumney’s most iconic climb and a life-goal for me. Training for São Tomé has made me feel like it’s finally within reach, whether or not I can climb any of the hard pitches on Nubivagant!