Ray Jardine (born in 1944 in Colorado Springs, Colorado) is an American rock climber who, with Bill Price, in May 1979, was the first to free climb the West Face of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. Jardine is also a mountaineer, sea kayaker, sailor, hang glider pilot, sailplane pilot, and small aircraft pilot, skydiver, long distance hiker, bicyclist, motorcyclist, and gear designer.
Jardine is noted for inventing and developing the spring-loaded camming devices called Friends that revolutionized rock climbing in the late 1970s. He is also noted for his contributions to the Ultralight backpacking community through his books and his "make-it-yourself" gear company, Ray-Way Products.
As a youth, Jardine climbed Colorado's Pikes Peak dozens of times, mostly solo, and with the Boy Scouts of America. In 1959, Jardine achieved Eagle Scout (Boy Scouts of America). During his Junior and Senior years (1959-1961) at General William J. Palmer High School in Colorado Springs, Jardine competed in Gymnastics on the Trampoline. He worked part-time after school at his family's plumbing business.
In 1963, at the age of 19, Jardine took a summer job in Yellowstone National Park, and enrolled in his first rock climbing class with instructor Barry Corbet (member of the 1963 Mount Everest expedition), in Grand Teton National Park. In the Fall of that year, Jardine enrolled at Northrop University in Los Angeles, California.
During the three years of his formal education at Northrop, Jardine worked evenings as a draftsman (Drafter) at North American Aviation in Los Angeles, California. In the Spring of 1967 Jardine graduated from Northrop University with a degree in Aerospace Engineering.
Immediately following his graduation from Northrop University in 1967, Jardine was hired by Martin Marietta as a specialist in computer-simulated space-flight mechanics, shaping trajectories for earth satellite and interplanetary missions.
Colorado rock climbing
Yosemite rock climbing
Jardine became active in Yosemite around 1970. During the 1970s he pioneered a number of Yosemite routes harder than had done before, up to the grade of 5.12, including the first ascent of The Phoenix (5.13a) in 1977.
Sailing and SCUBA
Light-weight hiking enthusiast
In 1991 he discussed ideas related to backpacking with the publication of his PCT Hikers Handbook, which described hiking the entire Pacific Crest Trail in a much shorter time, using homemade lightweight gear and techniques including early start times with longer days and more mileage at a slower pace. The book was revised and retitled in 1999 as Beyond Backpacking, and revised and retitled again in 2009 as Trail Life.