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The Inertia

You may not have known something about super-famous photographer Chris Burkard: he is obsessed with climbing offwidth cracks. Offwidth cracks, for those not in the know, are an awkward conundrum for climbers—too big to jam a finger or fist in, but too small to get your body in for a chimney climb. For the climbers who love them, though, that difficulty is what makes them so wonderful.

“I think anyone who exclusively offwidth climbs knows that they’ve got a something a little weird going on,” says Alex Honnold. “Imagine wrestling with someone who’s got a cheese grater. Every time they get you in a lock, they cheese grate you as hard as they can. Offwidth climbing sucks.”

Burkard, however, couldn’t disagree more. “If I could build an offwidth in my bed,” he says, “I probably would somehow.” Given his penchant for self-inflicted punishment, Burkard found himself on a forum for like-minded individuals. He found the Yosemite Offwidth Hardman Circuit, which is a list of “all the most badass offwidths listed out by grade.”

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So, like all good obsessives, Burkard headed to Yosemite to give it a crack—pun intended. He knows his love affair with one of the most torturous forms of climbing is a little strange, but he knows why he loves it so much “This is purely elective suffering,” he laughs. “There’s nobody forcing you to do it. That’s the rad part about it.”

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