Layton Kor was driven, energetic, bold, and had a superb eye for new lines. He was also possessed of a beguiling, kindly innocence and charm. He and Harvey Carter were sometimes rivals, sometimes partners, both strong, both keen to lead, and both hungry for first ascents. Kor was based in Boulder, Carter in Colorado Springs. Each had his own climbing partners and friends.

Kor was attracted to big, tall desert towers with striking geometry and alluring crack lines—the steeper the better. The Navajo Reservation, particularly around Monument Valley, fit the bill, so that’s where he went over and over. He cared about speed, style, about placing as few bolts as possible and leaving a route with as few bolts as possible, as a challenge to future climbers. He would climb by the fastest means: free, aid, whatever worked. Carter by contrast would move slowly, carefully, and as free as possible. Carter and Kor stood out from most of their desert contemporaries, who were often more concerned with just getting to the top by the easiest, safest means. At the time there were towers aplenty and room for everyone and every style.

Kor dropped out of climbing in the late 1960s. In later life, the one area he did keep returning to was his beloved Colorado Plateau desert. His book, Beyond the Vertical, now rare, expensive, and much sought after, captures something of the care-free, go-go world of the 1960s and Kor’s place, in its heart.