It’s hard to imagine a situation more conducive to becoming a talented rock climber than being raised by a climbing legend in the iconic Yosemite Valley.
For Lonnie Kauk, son of Ron Kauk and Yosemite Valley native, this is his reality. Known for his hard sends, limit-pushing free solos, and passionate attitude, Lonnie has followed in his father’s footsteps and established himself as one of the world’s most respected climbers. Lonnie is very inspired by his father’s legacy and feels that his heritage has impacted his life tremendously, but also says that he was never pressured to be a climber.
It’s funny because I wasn’t pushed to do this by him or anything. It’s just so much in my blood, I guess it kind of came out naturally.
-Lonnie via xgames.com
Although he has sent many 5.14s and double-digit boulder problems, Lonnie really sets himself apart from other climbers with his free solos. In 2013, Lonnie shocked the climbing world when he bagged the second ascent of Honnold’s highball/free solo Too Big To Flail (V10) in Bishop, CA.
Just a month after sending Too Big and other Buttermilks highballs like Ambrosia (V11), Lonnie made the first solo ascent of Looney Binge (5.12c) in Owen’s River Gorge.
Watch him free solo Looney Binge:
Aside from being the son of a legend, Lonnie is also a direct descendant of the Chief Tenaya of the Ahwahneechee Tribe in Yosemite. In a recent interview, he talks about how this aspect of his heritage has greatly influenced his climbing career:
I’m so honored to be a descendant from one of Yosemite’s great chiefs. I for sure feel the spirit guiding me through. Many times I stand on top of mountains thinking of my people living in this amazing place. I know the same blood runs through my heart, so when I climb these mountains I gave all my thanks. I represent all the good from my ancestors.
Lonnie’s talents don’t stop at high-level rock climbing and free soloing—he is also a professional snowboarder. He claims to love both sports equally, and chooses which passion to focus on depending on his psych and the season.
Hear a bit more from Lonnie himself:
Lonnie now lives in Mammoth Lakes, CA, where he has the option to either climb or snowboard almost every day of the year. No matter the sport, Lonnie always goes big and follows his passion. Thanks for all of the psych Lonnie! Best of luck in 2015!