Tuesday, December 8, 2009
This is probably the best sports action video I've ever seen. Four words: Backflip off a tree.
Some great pics from the most recent Creek trip:
Me dialing in the onsight on "The Judge" (5.12-). Photo by some really nice guys on the next route over.
Clayton sussing it out above some mighty small gear, also on "The Judge".
The crew out for a rest day ramble in the Needles district of Canyonlands NP. Highly recommended.
Just to break up the Indian Creek shots, here's one from two winters ago at the Sheepshead, Coshise Stronghold, Southern Arizona. Photo by Zack Durbin.
Dustin placing gear on "Six Star Crack" (5.13-), yours truely at the hanging belay. This is one of the purest splitters I've ever seen. Photo: Brad Gobright.
Me styling the send of Six Star... haha. No really, this route shut me down brutally. Redemption next spring? I need to get fit! Photo, again by Brad Gobright.
Anyone who doesn't appreciate this photo has never crack climbed. Yet again, pic by Brad.
OK, so you have to click on the link for this one, but it's worth it.
This is why they tell you not to throw water on a grease fire!
Video by Brad Gobright
Monday, November 30, 2009
Some people like to spend their Thanksgiving holidays sitting in the red dirt, watching the campfire, and eating turkey with their climbing friends.
Here are some images that anyone that has had the priviledge of belonging to the latter group might appreciate:
The crisp night air is brilliant with stars and moonlight, and the plentiful beer and boxed wine makes it seem positively warm out. The solidly frozen water bottles beg to differ.
The life-giving sun greets the flawless blue sky every morning, and in no time it's warm enough to worm out of the sleeping bag and get the blood flowing. As everyone stumbles out of their respective tents, plans are made, first for breakfast (sausage or bacon? pancakes or potatoes? all of the above?), then for climbing.
Shoulder the big pack, begin the trudge up to the wall. Let's find a good warm-up... nah, screw it, let's get on that! Last night's cold all but forgotten, layers come off, and it's time for climbing!
The day winds down, many good routes were attempted, much radness accomplished. "We'll definitely need to come back to this crag!" Thoughts shift to dinner, every throws out ideas and volunteers ingrediants. Shoulder those packs again, stumble back to the cars. Don't forget to close the gate behind you.
Arriving back at camp, the sun has gone behind the cliffs, and the chill quickly permeates. Grab a few extra layers, get that fire going, and let's start dinner! Everyone pitches in, even though chopping leads to frozen hands; deliciousness is ready in no time.
You should know that, when sitting around a campfire, it is absolutely futile to try and get up to avoid the woodsmoke. Once it is blowing in your direction, it will follow you no matter where you move. Seems that everyone else is sitting still, totally unmolested, while your eyes sting and lungs burn. Might as well sit still; if you ignore it, it'll get bored and leave you alone.
The fire winds down, folks stop throwing more wood on, an unspoken consensus is reached. One by one, friends drift back to their tents, and soon you'll be zippering up that puffy cocoon of down and passing out for the night. It's gonna be a busy day tomorrow...
Thursday, November 19, 2009
"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are"- Theodore Roosevelt
Part of action is dreaming, part is preparing, and part is doing.
The weather has been beautiful and crisp hereabouts, and it's prime time for getting out and experiencing the radness. Highlights from this week: Eldo Tuesday, Roof Routes, got to meet Roger Briggs (Old-School Eldo badass!), and talk about his famous testpiece: Scary Canary (5.12 R). Joe and I were climbing the first pitch, and he had some great recollections from his first ascent way back in 1980. Dude is still cranking, of course, and styled a few heady 5.11 pitches in the on the always tricky Roof wall. Anyways, Joe and I will be back soon to try out the 2nd (crux) pitch. Roger advised bringing a hammer, just in case the crux fixed knifeblade (yes, the piton he placed almost 30 years ago) needs to be tapped back in.
Wednesday saw the season's first trip down to the South Platte, and fantastic and sprawling region in the Rocky Mountain foothills south and west of Denver. The crag of the day was Sunshine wall, part of the Cathedral Spires group. An early, frosty start in Boulder had Tim and I wondering how conditions would be at the wall, over two thousand feet higher in elevation! Though it was still cold at the parking lot, next to the semi forzen Platte river and surrounded by deep snow, we quickly shed layers as we hiked up out of the valley towards the spires. Sunshine Wall fulfilled its promise on that bluebird day, and climbing temps were utterly perfect (bordering on too hot!?!).
After enjoying the classic "Standard Route" (11a, 4 pitches), I focused on the proj de jour: Far Reaches (12c). This splitter seam is thin, thin, thin, and just under vertical. After some recon on top rope, I went for the lead. With the very thin and specific rack preselected on my harness (#4 RP, draw for fixed pin, #5 stopper, #2 camalot(yes!), #3 RP, 000 C3...), I was optimistic, but I botched the crux sequence, ended up losing my feet while my left hand was still in a fingerlock, and then peeling off anyways. I finished the lead, nursing a tweaked and bloody left ring finger. The bad finger, combined with the fading light, conspired to call it a day, and we headed home. Far Reaches: I'll be back for you!
Today (Thursday) I was back at the office (Eldo). Climbing with Lisa, a strong and bold Front Range newcomer, I was psyched to show her some classic routes. Our route, recommended by Eldo veteran Bob as "the Astroman of Eldo", is a linkup of Super-Arete (11a, 1 pitch), the Doub-Griffith (11c, 2 pitches), and Mellow Yellow (11d, 3 pitches). After barely missing the onsights on both Super-Arete and pitch one of Doub-Griffith, Lisa got it right on the crux second pitch of D-G and scored a sweet onsight. I led the crux first pitch of Mellow Yellow, and for the third time got shut down by the burly roof (hardest 11d in the canyon?).
Aside from regular trips to the local crags, I have plans for this winter season. Preparing for next spring (more on this below) both physically and financially. Financially being able to support another rad round of climbing bumming, and physically to be able to crush it while I'm out there!
[Photos to come of training on the basement woody]
Dreaming: Yosemite, Spring 2010, See y'all there!
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Now that I'm somewhat settled, let me fill you in on what's been going on:
Super-sweet housing situation! Rejoining society after a big roadtrip can be tough, and since I was looking for cheap housing in Boulder (oxymoron), I figured I'd end up in some rat hole apartment. Not the case! For cheaper that any crappy place in Boulder, I moved into a room in an amazing house in Superior, CO. Boulder is just 15-20 minutes away, and Eldo, my home away from home, is just 10 minutes from my doorstep. Brendon, who owns the house, is a rad dude and also a climber, and Sam and Andrew, my other two roommates, are adventurous and agreeable dudes.
Getting back into the flow of things here in Colorado can be harder than crawling out of this hole on Red Dihedral (10, CA Sierras) Photo: Christopher Maher.
Fall Indian Creek trip! I can't get enough of the dirtbag lifestyle, so I made my fall pilgramage to the "Center of the Universe": da Creek! Many fine folks, old friends and new, were in attendance, and with fine weather much radness was accomplished.
Enjoying the sweet, sweet Wingate sandstone on Family Home Night (12)
No hands! on Big Baby (11+)
Clayton, Josie, and Fred wrapping things up after a great day at Broken Tooth wall.
Ongoing action at the local crags! With Eldo back as my homebase, and tons of motivated locals to get out with, this winter should be a fine one on the Front Range. Notable Eldo action so far: The Wisdom (12a), Hands in the Clouds (12a), Onsight of "Brand New Cadillac (11R), Mellow Fellow (11c), Scary Canary (Just P1 so far, 11d R), and a sub 2 hour roundtrip on The Naked Edge (with Rob K, who has been the partner for much of this season's sending). Hopes are high for some harder projects, possibly Huck Off (12b), Practice Climb 101 (12c), Superfly (12d R), 2nd Pitch of Scary Canary (12 R), the Evictor (12d), and probably others.
Pulling into the business on "Jolt Cola" (12a, Boulder Canyon) en route to a flash. Photo: Clayton Laramie.
Karate kick! Photo: Clayton Laramie.
I can climb this with my eyes closed... Photo: Joe Crotty
Bearing down for a redpoint of "Hands in the Clouds" (12a, Eldo). Photo: Joe Crotty
Friday, September 11, 2009
I finally started using a rope in the Tetons, and found some great partners, including Aaron, a local and guidebook author who took me out to climb "Sunshine Daydream", a beautiful 4 pitch 5.11 in Death Canyon.
After quitting Jackson, I rolled south to Green River, where I met up with a college friend, also named Aaron. We had a great weekend getting rowdy in rural Wyoming (redundant?) with his roommates Zack and Brian. All of Saturday was spent at a sports bar soaking in COLLEGE FOOTBALL. My Spartans proved victorious, as did Aaron's Wolverines, and a good time was had by all. The following day we punished ourselves with a 30+ (?) mile day-hike in the Wind River Mountains, which was masochistically fun. The full Wyoming experience was rounded out with a trip to the Flaming Gorge and some rad cliff diving with some drunk locals.
Finally, I've migrated back to my adopted home of Colorado, and am currently in the process of re-entering mainstream life (job, apartment, library card, etc...). A big thanks to my friend Zack, and his super-nice girlfriend Anna, for putting me up for the last few days. You guys rock!
The Boulder Skyline. They're numbered right to left, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.
As part of my reintroduction to Front Range life, I've kept a strict schedule of evening Flatiron hikes/climbs. Yesterday's Third Flatiron jaunt was bizarrely fun: after reading about some local speed records, I pushed myself on the approach, speed hiking (not running, that's just uncivilized) up the rocky trail in 19minutes. The climb, a 7-8 pitch 5.4, took 9 minutes. So far, so good. Somehow, though, the downclimb took 19 minutes, and the hike down 23?! That's right, going down was slower than going up.
Hypothesis one: gravity inversion. Possible. Hypothesis two: I got lost repeatedly in the dark. Probable.
Sidenote: Apparently working batteries are an essential part of the whole "headlamp producing light" process.
The actual speed record, car-to-car, is 33 minutes. That leaves some room for improvement off my 1:10 time, but maybe next time I'll try it with some light.
Anyways, I'll try to keep updating as I settle, and hopefully soon I'll have some rad pictures of Eldo cranking action!
Monday, August 31, 2009
"Why I love Rock Climbing"
Saturday morning, 4am, my cell phone alarm goes off, and I don't know why. For about 5 seconds. Then I remember, today is the big day: the Grand Traverse.
The Traverse. Parts where the red line disappears you traverse on the far side of the ridge. Photo credit: John Ross.
Summit of peak #1, Teewinot. The North Ridge of the Grand follows the right side of the face in the background.
These pictures are for my Mom. I hope you don't get too stressed out reading this.
George Lowe (below) and Jack Tackle negotiating some snow between Teewinot and Owen.
#2, Mt. Owen
Looking west to Iceberg Lake and upper Cascade Canyon
Peak #4, Middle Teton. Note the building clouds, which would distract me from taking summit pic #5, South Teton, as I ran for cover.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Wednesday dawned clear and chilly, perfect for my first day in the Tetons. I had a small pack of water, food, and a jacket; it would be a solo mission. Destination: the biggest, Grand-est peak around. Leaving the trailhead just after sun's rise, I was psyched to be bathed in its first warming rays. The easy trail quickly gained elevation, and in no time I had covered the first four miles and entered the beautiful Garnet Canyon, where wildflowers and waterfalls abound. After a long summer of climbing in Yosemite and the Sierra, I was grateful to have been living at such high altitudes, and both my lungs and legs felt great.
The view from the Saddle looking West. Dad- (and other Teton Crest Trail veterans), can you spot Hurricane Pass and Schoolroom Glacier?
Dutch Oven cooking in camp. The Exum ridge is the left-side skyline of the the Grand, the highest peak visible.
A Grand summit photo.
Irene's take the central prow for six quality pitches of 5.7-5.9
After an easy descent, I was back at the base of the route, and I was getting hungry. The gentle trail made for a fast hike back to the trailhead, and I was back at camp making burritos by 6pm. All in all, it had been an unforgettable day in the mountains, and I knew my knees would be feeling the 8000 feet of vertical gain (and another 8000' of descent) and 12+ miles of hiking. I love the Tetons!
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
The spectacular ridge of Matthes Crest
A panorama taken from summit #16, Cathedral Peak. We went from right to left across most of the peaks visible.
sidenote: No, I'm not an Oakland A's fan, I just found the hat and liked the colors. Go Tigers!
In slightly more recent news: Emily (of the Toulumne SAR team) and I had an interesting "Successful Failure" High Sierra mission. The plan was to depart Toulumne on Thursday afternoon and roll down to Mt. Whitney, spend the night there and climb Whitney and Russell on Friday. That part of the plan was dissolved when, through patchy cell reception, we were able to ascertain that there were no permits available to camp at Whitney. Bummer.
In most recent news, I have finally left California! Indeed, the state that has held me captive since May 19th has released me from its pleasant grip, and I'm currently in the Washoe Country Public Library in Reno, Nevada. The current destination: Jackson, Wyoming, and the Grand Tetons, and the Grand Traverse!
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Me on Sunspot Dihedral
John, in full native regalia, topping out on the Incredible Hulk
Anyways, of course there are plenty more photos, but alas I don't have my camera with me (duh...). Look forward to some pics from the Cathedral Traverse, an amazing 16 summit outing Graham and I enjoyed a week or so back, and some pics of Brad's near onsight of Half Dome.
I can't really say it enough how fantastic the summer here has been. This week was typical: it started with a chilled-out weekend of hanging around Toulumne, bouldering, swimming, soloing Lembert dome every evening to watch the sunset.
Come Monday, I'm spurred into action. Many on the SAR crew have been interesting in a semi-remote mountain in the Cathedral Range here in the park. It is visible from several other popular mountain climbs in the area, and features a striking steep West face with several large rock towers. We get some beta from Jesse and Eric, two of the climbing rangers here, and apparently they have put one route up here (the mountain is called "Peak 11,357'"). So, late Sunday night, around some beers at the campfire, Ben (on of the SAR crew) and I decide that it's time to check this peak out.
The next morning, once the sun gets high enough to warm our camp (we're not that hardcore), we start to rally and pack some gear up. After various errand to procure wilderness permits, etc, we finally roll out of camp around 11. Ben's friend Tom, who is visiting Yosemite, decide to hike out with us and camp for the night. The hike goes well, and Ben knows pretty well which passes to cross and which ridges to walk. Theres no trail back to this peak, but we eventually find our way and sight the peak around 2pm. After some heady gully descents and meadow bushwacking, we arrive at the base.
We have a topo map of the route, drawn by the climbing rangers, but it still takes some intuition to figure out where on this 1/4 mile wide wall the route might go. We just try to imagine which line we would take for a first ascent, and it turns out to lead us to the right place.
Finally, around 4pm, we're on rope and leading; I'm in my element. The first pitch throws all sorts of wierdness at me, and it's fairly hard (5.11), so by the time I get to the first belay I'm hesitantly looking at the lower and lower angle of the sun behind us, and beginning to think about bailing.
Fortunately, Ben would have none of this, and when he arrives at the belay, simply asks for the gear and quickly leads out. The first pitch turns out to have been the crux, and the next five pitches go relatively smoothly. The evening sun is gorgeous on the west facing wall, if I relax enough to enjoy it. The route (the Rangers named it "Boss Man", 5.11) turns out to be stellar, and I onsight it for its second ascent. The highlight of the day comes as we're descending, and the sun properly goes down. In the darkened valley below, we spot the lake where we're supposed to meet Tom, and we can just make out a roaring campfire along the shore! Rallying to the fire, Ben and I find his camp and set about gorging on a dinner of freshly caught trout!
Anyways, I said this week was typical, and that was adventure enough for about 2 days. The next day, Tuesday, I hike back out to Toulumne, hitchhike down to the Valley, meet up with my friend Brad for dinner at the pizza deck, and then we hike up (again in that nerve-wrackingly beautiful late-evening light) to the base of Half Dome. Yes, I can't seem to get enough of that route, the Reg NW Face, and Brad is stoked on it. Brad, who's never done a bigwall, is going to try to onsight the route free, a rare accomplishment, and one of which I think he is capable. I volunteer, in exchange for some pizza and beer, to belay him and let him lead every pitch.
The hike up the "Death slabs" seems unusually brutal, probably because of my extending hikes the previous few days, and the fact that we do most of it by headlamp. We do make it up, though, and get a good night's rest. The position of the bivy spot, tucked right up against the base of the steep 2000' wall, is outrageous. Brad compares the wall, in the daylight, to a wave about to crest on top of us, and at night, to a giant black hole consuming half of the sky.
Bright and early the next morning (Wednesday, yesterday) we rope up. The first crux of the route comes early, and with it, Brad's onsight bid disappears. He unfortunately takes an unexpected fall on the "Higbee-Hedral", a short "boulder problem" section requiring extreme levitation properties. Oh well, he quickly hops back down to the belay ledge, and then fires through the tricky section, looking very smooth second try. The next 12 pitches go quickly, with nothing harder than 5.10, and tons easier. We simul-climb big chunks of it, and we make it up to Big Sandy ledge (pitch 17) by 1pm. Here the climbing gets hard again, and the wall steepens in it's last few hundred feet. The next 3 pitches are called the "Zig Zags", and they're all hard (12a, 11, 12a). Brad gives a valiant go on the first Zig Zag before falling at the crux. After lowering to a ledge, he fires back up it, discovering the intricate sequence and declaring that the moves are "easy". Linking through the 2nd pitch brings us to the base of the third Zag. The climbing here is straightforward, but very strenuous, and Brad onsights this pitch in great style. The final hard pitch is an 11d slab, which I found to be very tricky last time I tried it (with Graham back in July). Brad again puts on a good show, and onsights this pitch. We top out around 5pm, just as the last few tourists are taking their pictures, and begin the grueling descent. Many hours later, the Pizza deck delivers its delicious promise, and we are satisfied.
So today is Thursday, as soon as I publich this post, I'll head back up to Toulumne, meet up with some of the SAR crew, and hopefully roll south to Mt. Whitney for some great climbing tomorrow. Stay tuned!
Monday, August 10, 2009
The North Face of the Rostrum, 5.11c, or 12b with Alien Finish (just left of the red line through the final roof)
Brad working on the Alien finish in an earlier photo. None of our pics from the route turned out due to low light.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Our first view of the Hulk, about 4 miles into the approach
The Hulk at sunset
The Crew getting going in the morning