Ray Jardine (born 1944) 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 noted for inventing and developing the spring-loaded camming devices called Friends that revolutionized rock climbing in the late 1970s. He began his climbing career in 1963 in the Tetons, climbed in Eldorado Canyon State Park near Boulder, Colorado during the 1960s, and 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.
In 1996 he discussed ideas related to backpacking with the publication of his Pacific Crest Trail Hikers Handbook, which advocated 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.
His techniques were initially considered radical and risky by mainstream commentators. At the core of his philosophy was a primary focus on limiting the weight carried by a hiker. He advocated replacing one's tent with a tarpaulin, sleeping bag with a blanket, and using the post office to carry gear not needed for a trail segment. He recommended that a hiker make most of his or her own gear.
More recently, lightweight backpacking techniques with less than 25 pounds of gear (before consumables such as food, water and fuel) are becoming increasingly popular, and ultralight backpacking (less than 12 pounds base weight) is gaining acceptance by many. These techniques are often criticized for the lack of durability of some equipment or for being unsafe, but experienced users find the same practicality with less material. A smaller yet notable market for super-ultralight techniques (less than 5 pounds base weight) is also gaining popularity, but not used by a majority of hikers.
- Messenger, Alex (September 2011). "The Story Of The First Wild Country Friend". ukclimbing.com. Retrieved 11 September 2014.