is a big wall climber
Big wall climbing is a type of rock climbing in which a long multi-pitch route, so sustained that an ascent normally requires more than a single day, is climbed. Big wall routes require the climbing team to live on the route often using portaledges and hauling equipment...
and inventor of climbing equipment.
In the 1980s, he climbed the hardest walls of Yosemite (including El Capitan
El Capitan is a vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park, located on the north side of Yosemite Valley, near its western end. The granite monolith extends about from base to summit along its tallest face, and is one of the world's favorite challenges for rock climbers.The formation was...
and Half Dome
Half Dome is a granite dome in Yosemite National Park, located in northeastern Mariposa County, California, at the eastern end of Yosemite Valley — possibly Yosemite's most familiar rock formation. The granite crest rises more than above the valley floor....
), and in 1992 he climbed the largest rock wall in the world, Great Trango Tower
Great Trango new route
He achieved worldwide recognition in the climbing world in 1992 when he climbed the East Face of Great Trango Tower (6286 m a.s.l.) in Karakoram
The Karakoram, or Karakorum , is a large mountain range spanning the borders between Pakistan, India and China, located in the regions of Gilgit-Baltistan , Ladakh , and Xinjiang region,...
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...
, with Xaver Bongard. As a lightweight, two man team, they were the first to climb about 5000-feet vertical rock face of Great Trango to the summit (in fact, to the lower, East Summit of Great Trango, 6231 m) and make it down alive. (The East Face of Great Trango was climbed in 1984 via neighbor route, Norwegian Pillar
, by the team of best Norwegian climbers, but the summiters died on the descent; next two ascents of this route not reached the true top of the wall, the East Summit of Great Trango.)
The Grand Voyage
, 4400 feet high, along with the slightly higher Norwegian Pillar
on the same face, have been noted as "perhaps the hardest big-wall climbs in the world" (see Trango Towers). The 1992 new route required 15 days and nights to climb and three days to descend, using portaledge
A portaledge is a deployable hanging tent system designed for rock climbers who spend multiple days and nights on a big wall climb. An assembled portaledge is a fabric-covered platform surrounded by a metal frame that hangs from a single point and has adjustable suspension straps...
s designed and constructed by Middendorf in his outdoor equipment company (A5 Adventures, Inc.)