Monday, November 30, 2009


Some people like to spend their Thanksgiving holidays sitting in their warm houses, watching football, and eating turkey with their families.

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

Training, Doing, and Dreaming

[I actually wrote this post the week before Thanksgiving, but failed to post it. Better late than never...]

"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!

Far Reaches

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!