Thursday, November 25, 2010


For an another fun and safe season of Colorado rock climbing:

First one in, Last one out. My car is often alone in the Eldo parking lot.

 Me on the exciting and super-exposed final pitch of Mellow Yellow (5.12a). Redgarden Wall, Eldo. Photo by Joel Anderson.

Bob Rotert on the famous Naked Edge (5.11)

Forest sunbathes as Blake finishes following the first pitch of Ramblin' Rose (5.10). Wigwam Dome, South Platte.

 Me soloing Positively Fourth Street (5.10a). Photo by Matt Lloyd.

Two climbers on the second pitch of Werk Supp (5.9). The Bastille, Eldo.

Me on a successful booty mission. 
Step one: Solo up Rewritten (5.7). 
Step two: Construct the retrieval device with nut tool and coat hanger. 
Step three: Boooty!

 The Bastille catches late afternoon sun.

The beautiful town of Eldorado Springs.

My friend Weston on a brief visit from Michigan, descending Bear Peak.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New Speed Record on an Eldo Classic

Ruper is one of the most classic long routes in Eldo. It weaves its way up the imposing vertical bulk of the Redgarden wall, finding the path of least resistance on some outrageous terrain, providing six enjoyable pitches of 5.8.

Ruper, with the arrow indicating the East Slabs descent

I've solo-ed Ruper many times, and when I saw a comment on MountainProject about the known speed record, I was intrigued. Mic Fairchild, one of the most prolific Eldo climbers and soloist around, wrote that he once did the route in just 44 minutes round trip from the bridge at the start of the approach trail. That's a mind-boggling time for a route that often takes parties the bulk of a day to complete!

His roundtrip time included: 
-running up the switchbacked trail to the toe of the wall
-scrambling up the long, water-polished 4th class Lower Ramp
-6 pitches of 5.8 climbing, from steep face to OW, interrupted by a long traverse/downclimb on the huge Upper Ramp
-the infamous "East Slabs" descent, mostly 4th class downclimbing to a steep gully trail

So today I found myself in Eldo on a perfect, wind-less, sunny day, and I decided to try the feat.

My total time, roundtrip from the bridge: 32 minutes and 11 seconds. There's a new speed record for this Eldo Classic!

Monday, November 22, 2010


Long ago, perhaps thousands of years in the past, a group of Polynesian islanders drifted their way through the unknown ocean (later named the Pacific), moving north from their previous island homes. We don't really know why they left the tropical paradise they'd lived on for many generations, maybe disease, famine, war, or just the urge to explore. They probably sailed double hulled canoes, packed with dozens of people, as well as food, water, crops, and livestock. 

They had to bring everything they'd need to survive; they did not have a clue where they were going, or how long it would take to get there. The level of uncertainty of this voyage is unthinkable, and literally impossible, in our modern world. We know very little about these people, but we can say this:

Being students of the night sky, as they surely were, they would have noticed, one night, a peculiar star on the horizon. As they drifted North each night, the start rose higher and higher in the sky. While every other star in the sky made it's nightly rotation, this star remained fixed. For sea-borne navigators, with no other immovable navigational landmarks, this probably would have been celebrated. Of course, this star is Polaris, the North Star, and it is only visible from the Northern Hemisphere. 
It is only visible when one crosses the Equator.

Many centuries later, and perhaps to this day, sailors the world over celebrate the crossing of the Equator. Seaman who have not previously crossed would be hazed, beaten, and sometimes tossed overboard to "celebrate" their passage into the world of true ocean-going hardmen.

The Southern Cross

Sometime on the night of January 22nd, 2011, I will lose sight of Polaris and cross into the Southern Hemisphere for the first time in my life, safe in the cabin of a jetliner at cruising altitude. Hopefully I don't get tossed overboard.


This winter, my friend Blake and I will be headed to Argentina. We plan to climb all around Patagonia, that great mountainous region on the southern edge of the Americas. 

I'm glad we don't have to use this map...

Some of the many towers of the Frey, above Bariloche, Argentina. We'll be climbing here at the beginning of the trip, and will hopefully be joined by our friend (and fantastic photographer!) Forest.
Photo by Rolando Garibotti

A few photos of the beautiful mountains above El Chalten, Argentina, including Cerro Torre and Cerro Fitz Roy.
A view of Cerro Pollone from the West, with the Donini-Crouch line marked up the West Pillar, and the summit ridge continuing to the summit. Hopefully, Blake and I will make it out there to attempt the first free ascent of the route, and potentially continue along the ridge to the as-yet-unclimbed Main Summit.

Note: I didn't take any of the photos in this post. All were swiped off the interweb.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

More IC pics

Here's a few shots from Garrett Grove's blog from our recent trip to Indian Creek:

Me onsighting "Slice and Dice" (5.12)

     BJ on Annunaki (5.11+)                              Me on Sinestra (5.11)

   The classic Scarface                          Me, again, on Slice and Dice

The full Creek experience, and the legendary Alf

Thanks Garrett!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Photos from the Desssssssssert

You know how to tell the difference between "desert" and "dessert"? Supposedly you'd only want to visit a desert once, while you'd certainly want dessert (at least) twice.

I'm glad I already know how to spell, because I love the desert!

Specifically, the desert of the Colorado Plateau and Southern Utah. This past week or so, I made yet another seasonal pilgrimage, sampling Indian Creek, Castle Valley, Moab, and Zion. Here's a few pictures:

Looking out the back of my car on the first morning of the trip. Rain, bummer.

We spent the wet morning taking photos.

The weather cleared, though, and we were climbing later that afternoon. The weather the rest of the trip? SPLITTER!

Chance the Crag Dog

Night at camp with a nearly full moon

Blake makes coffee pre-dawn. We're in the Castleton Tower parking lot, preparing for the "Castle Valley Enchainment", which includes summiting five towers: the Convent, Sister Superior, the Priest, the Rectory, and  Castleton. We would only complete three, and still didn't get back to the car til midnight. You can read more on Blake's blog.
Double Self-Portrait from a belay on "Fine Jade", tower #1. It was very cold in the morning.

Blake with the ridge, the Priest, the Rectory, and Castleton.

Back in Indian Creek, a young crack master shows off his tape gloves.

Clayton, an IC vet, also sporting tape gloves

In honor of the rattiest of desert rats, Alf, here's my "Indian Creek Sunset Panoramic". Definitely click on this one to zoom in!

Josh on Moonlight Buttress. We made a quick trip out to Zion canyon to tackle this crack-climbing masterpieces towards the end of my trip. How'd it go? Check back soon for another post with more pics!

Yes, you might notice that there are no photos of actual climbing. I've realized that most of my photos of climbing suck, and it takes a ton of motivation to get into a position to shoot good action shots. That, and talent. My friend Garrett has both, and produces amazing images. He shot some from the trip, and hopefully I'll post some here soon.