Sunday, June 28

The Good, The Bad

Back from the Iris with good and bad news. I'm not one to end on a down note so lets get right to the business... I'm injured. It's not terrible- thankfully I practiced some MEGA restraint and I am already on a road to recovery. Here's the details..

On Friday we woke up to pouring rain and expansive, deeply grey skies. We decided to head to Sinks Canyon and hit the Killer Cave in search of dry rock. The cave was bone dry and the temps were awesome, meanwhile the canyon was getting dumped on- totally magical. My draws were still hanging on the short and wicked 'Organics' 14b from my day of effort last month so I figured I would give it a burn, with low expectations. I climbed really well on it first try, with forgotten beta, so naturally I rested to give it a worthy go. I ended up falling on a final move due to a simple mistake. Lowering off I was stoked, confident that my next burn would be successful, but then... some pain / aching crept into my right palm. It was pretty obvious to me that my right middle finger did not totally agree with the lengthy mono pulling. It was not long before gripping the rope to belay became difficult. Done.
Luckily, I have not experienced many injuries through my life as a climber despite my aggressive training and infrequent rest days, and thus I always tend to treat every little pain and ache with sizable respect. Maybe too much; I'm that dude who lowers off the route with a sore shoulder blabbering, 'Oh dude, THIS is it man, I'm screwed, I'm DONE, it's over for me dude'. Then I stretch out and it's gone.. But this ache in my hand is sticking around. I have talked a bit with personal trainer and therapist Chris Wall, as well as checking out some awesome advice from the man, Dave Macleod. In-fact, as I write single handily, my right hand is soaking in a pot of cold water. I also use a dish glove to keep the water from eating up my skin. I'm hopeful that in two weeks, when I'm heading back north to Lander for the Climbers Fest, I'll be all set to mono my ass off, but we'll see I guess.  

Before the sh*t hit the fan, the trip was going well. It is hard not to be inspired by the incredible landscape at Wild Iris. Snow capped peaks rest seemingly a stones through away. Before you, a giant field of wild flowers emerge in every color imaginable. White cliffs peer through a veil of swaying aspen trees.. No wonder Todd Skinner proclaimed this to be the area he had long been looking for. And it shows. He and many others established a good deal of classic routes in the Iris. Moderates like, 'The Devil Wears Spurs' 10d, or 'Wind and Rattlesnakes' 12a along with test pieces like 'Throwin the Hoolihan' 14a. The climbing at the Iris is good, maybe not amazing, but the setting makes up for it, and then some.

I had a good couple days pre-injury, cleaning up the direct lines on the Rodeo Wave Wall, among others. I was really impressed with 'Rodeo Free Europe' 14a/b, a climb I had been wanting to try for a long time. Cryptic beta and improbable moves characterize this ultra steep test piece. I felt this climb was definitely hard for it's 14a grade, and it seems many others agree. 'Atomic Stetson' 13c was another of my favorites, which boasts some exciting twists between good pockets. I had a few classics left on my list to do, but they will have to wait until I return.

Please feel free to post regarding finger injuries and experiences with recovery, etc. It's way too easy to search the internet for information and find only super-grim stories when you've got one hand sitting in a bath of cold water.. Cheers.

Photos: The Iris from Camp, My dad lowers off the Killer Cave.

Sunday, June 21

to the Iris

Ahhhh.. packing up again- time to escape the heat and sample a plethora of new quality up at Wild Iris! I'm headed out of town monday morning and, weather permitting, I'll be there through the weekend. My luck with weather in the Lander area has been about 50%, so I've got my fingers crossed and my rain parka packed. My dad and I are heading up together, for the father-son send train. He's on top of his game at 59, sending the flatirons classic 'Powerbulge' 12+ just last week. 

Around here I've been trying my best to ride the momentum from a successful few weeks, but it has been a bit grim! The other day when I was greasing off a new area sport climbing classic, a massive beetle fell off a freshly cleaned hold and into my pants- this was quite possibly the most exciting climbing experience I've had since sending Primetime.. It was amazing though!!

I'm only half-kidding. I did get out to my favorite crag, the Monastery, for a nice day with Marisa yesterday. I ran a couple repeats on the amazing 'Quickening' 13c and the not-to-be-missed 'Psychotomic' 12d - two premier Colorado sport climbs. She top-roped the SH*T out of the crag as well- go Marisa! Today I motored up to the Satellite Boulders, dodging and weaving through a massive crowd of fathers day hikers. The heat made 'Turning Point' feel a few numbers harder and the crowds made my psych level plummet, but it's always worth it to get out.

Now I'm flipping through guide books, buying groceries and hoping that a little mono-training will pay off up at the beautiful Iris.. It'll be my first time.

Photo: B Real climbs Psychotomic 


Monday, June 15


Despite a desperate weather forecast, Ben Randolph, Paige Claassen and I headed to the Primo yesterday to get after it. I knew it was game on when I found a used pack of strawberry flavored Primetime mini cigars on the walk in.. I was fresh off of doing 'Shine' just two days before and fired up to try hard on the mega-link 'Primetime to Shine' 14b that combines the hardest (and best) sections of both 'Primeval' and 'Shine'. I'm normally not one to be too stoked about link-ups, but this is thing is legit, in that it combines the best quality, hardest moves on the wall. Daniel Woods cleaned this thing up a few years back, and to my knowledge only Joey Kinder and Jon Cardwell had repeated it. (Here is a video of Jon sending it last year, put together by Chad Greedy).

Tying in after warming up, my goal was just to try and make it through the bottom of 'Primeval'- mainly hoping to remember my beta and climb smoothly. To my surprise, I fired through the crux of 'Primeval', reaching a mid-way rest with quite a bit of energy remaining. I started into the link-up having not touched the holds between the two routes, but intuition lead me through this relatively mellow bit without excessive effort. Suddenly I found myself in the business on 'Shine', with the movement fresh in my mind I was clipping the chains before I had a chance to get too excited. Wicked!!

We left Primo in a hurry after pouring rain soaked the crag in literally 3 minutes. I was midway up a lap on 'Squeeze Play' when I reached into a soaking chalk-bag and noticed the running water streaming off the finish.. time to go.. DAMN! Ben and Paige were just about to crush 'Public Solitude'. I'd be happy to offer a catch when you want to head back. Otherwise, I'm happy to say that the Primo is all cleaned up for myself. 

I definitely did not think that 'Primetime to Shine' would go on my first effort, but I have been surprising myself quite a bit lately. All those long hours in the BRC over the winter are paying off! Now I just need to keep this momentum until I arrive in Wyoming for a week stay next monday.. and I just got word that Matt Samet (the man himself) has got something special for me to take a peek at- stay tuned. 

P.S> There is a fund-raiser at The Spot tomorrow night for the search and rescue efforts in China for Micah Dash, Jonny Copp and Wade Johnson. It's a silent auction with a slew of rad gear and guided trips going to the highest bidder. Check it out.. 

and Congrats to Paige for sending her project in Rifle, 'Zulu' and for her 19th revolution around the sun! 

Saturday, June 13

Out of the Dark

It seems like nearly everyone I've spoke with experienced some darkness over the last couple weeks or so. In addition to the losses I have explained on previous posts, I've been fighting a hell of a cold and was quite out of it all week. 

Happily, I'm emerging, and so is the illusive sunshine here in the front range. I've been busy climbing and also working, putting into use the typical 'JSTAR carries on with life regardless of heavy symptoms' attitude for which my girlfriend is very critical. It's hard for me to slow down and rest, even when I feel sick. My Dad even said the other day that he thinks my body purposefully allows sickness here and there so that I am forced to rest. Is it such a bad thing that I love the sensation of trying hard! and the momentum I've gathered recently in climbing feels empowering, albeit fragile, as always..

I did nudge my momentum a bit recently also. I spent some more time down at the Primo Wall, which over the last month has evolved from a cliff I would previously raise my noise to, to now being my summer hang out spot. Not for long though. It seems all good cliffs finally get climbed out, and I'm just about there. Recently I did a link up called 'Grim Aura' 13d. Normally I am not inspired by link ups, but I heard this one was worthy of effort... Lets just say that I'm super glad I sent second go because, in my opinion, the line does not merit much more action than a couple burns. Not to mention that if you're short (or even if not) this climb will have you calling the massage therapist for deep shoulder repair faster than you can say 'grim shoulder pain'. 

Climbing this route did inspire me to take a burn on 'Shine' 14a, however. Shine does share some of the grim shoulder pain, but then goes straight up the wall into an incredibly thin and improbable series of crimps and holds that don't really exist. On my first burn I tried to find some sneaky short person beta, but eventually took the advice of my buddy Scott Hahn and just stuck to what works. I gave my friend Ben two belays on his project, 'River Run' (shit yeah Ben! way to clean it up), and took some time to rest and review the many moves on Shine. Second burn I laced up my Solutions, ran through the cruxes once more in my head and gave 'er hell. Literally. It was not pretty, my beta was all over the place, I was yelling, grabbing the wrong holds here and there.. BUT!! I sent!! shit show and all. 

If the temps remain mellow I will probably head back and attempt the proud, 'Primetime to Shine' 14b link up, which would combine my favorite sections of each climb. Otherwise I would like to change focus to some new-routing and maybe some boulder-climbing too. 

Next week will be a lot of work for me seeing that we are beginning the BRC remodel. This will be some good cross training before I head back to the wild country (Wyoming) with my Dad and good friends for a week.. with high hopes of success..

I hope everyone else is finding some light after a dark few weeks as well. Stay tuned.. 
photo: Mia Rosingana at the amazing Monestary. 

Monday, June 8

In loving memory

Along with so many other hopeful members of the community, family and friends, I have been checking the updated status of our lost friends in China on nearly every hour. It deeply saddens me to read that at this point, both Wade Johnson and Jonny Copp have been positively identified in what seems to be the path of a devastating avalanche. The search continues for Micah Dash as Nick Martino and Eric Decaria have now arrived in the region. 

This event has inspired yet another contemplation on death after I had just experiencing my Grandfather's funeral 10 days ago and mourned the death of my Aunt just weeks before that. This event is different in that these people were young, very strong and their passing was all but expected. TS Eliot wrote that 'Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go'. I hope that climbing mountains has brought immeasurable insight and joy into the lives of these three men. For more intimate words on these guys and their journey visit

The global climbing community, along with countless friends and family have suffered the loss of some really amazing and influential people. I pass on my best wishes to everyone who feels this loss.

Saturday, June 6

As many of you surly are already aware, a team of skilled Colorado climbers have been late returning home from an expedition in China. The team consists of the burly and seasoned duo of Jonny Copp and Micah Dash as well as film maker Wade Johnson. After a period without communication, these three missed there scheduled return flight to the United States. 

The community immediately organized a search and rescue effort from multiple fronts; both here in Boulder and also in China. Last night, local strongmen Nick Martino and Eric Decaria boarded a jet to China with Steve Su and Pete Takeda close behind- planning to leave tomorrow. Search efforts have already begun in the area, however the Asian rescue team has met difficulties that they are not experienced enough to surmount. Nick and Eric have been granted express visa's and will be rushing to the mountains to begin a more technical search. 

Copp and Dash had planned to climb a new route on E Gongga or Mt Edgar, a 6,618 meter monster in the Western Sichuan Provence of China. Most recent news has revealed that an unidentified body had been found on the mountain. It is believed that this death is a result of an avalanche, no further information has been made available yet. 

I am hoping for the best and sending strength and good energy to both the lost team and the hurried rescuers. I hope that there efforts to quickly make way to the mountain are smooth, and that the weather holds for a full scale search and rescue. The community here in Boulder is definitely effected and has quickly rallied finances and energy to fund this effort. If you wish to donate you can do so at Adventurefilms. I do not personally know Wade, but I know Micah and Jonny as two very happy, enthusiastic, and extremely successful climbers and pioneers of the sport. I am hopeful. 

Thursday, June 4


I laced up my Sportiva Lynx and got me some 10K on Memorial Day. I was telling myself all year that I would train and get aggressive about running this annual short race in Boulder (the Bolder Boulder), but climbing took precedence and I ended up doing my first and only 'training' run on Saturday the 23rd. It all ended up alright though, aside from some expected pains here and there I ran a good time, and had a good time at the event, finishing in just under 42 minutes. 
I found out later that day that my 90 year old Grandfather had passed away just shortly after I finished the race. He had suffered a crippling stroke a few days before and as a result of his own wishes his feeding was stopped over the weekend. The Siegrist family is close, and my Grandfather was loved by all. I immediately headed back to visit my extended family, celebrate the great and long life of my Grandfather and pay my respects. A lot took place in just a few days, and I returned home inspired although of course still a bit saddened. I send my best wishes to my Grandmother, and the rest of the family during this time of mourning. 

I flew back on Saturday night and early Sunday morning I was packing my Subaru to take a quick trip up to Wyoming. My buddy Ben and I arrived late at night and crashed at the awesome, free and convenient camping in downtown Lander. Our plans were to explore a cliff I had heard so much about called Baldwin Creek. Unfortunately the mid-May road opening was apparently pushed back and we found ourselves locked out early on Monday morning. So we decided to crag at Sinks, which has become a favorite spot of mine (as you all know by now), plus Ben had not yet seen the cave. This ended up being the spot to be because mid-afternoon storms rolled in and we were sparred from soaking by the steepness of the Killer Cave. Ben sampled a bunch of the classics and I took a couple burns on an incredibly desperate, short and powerful BJ Tilden route called, 'Organics' 14b. Upon doing every move (there are very few) my motivation for really trying on this heinous pocket route improved and I ended up leaving some draws hanging. I chucked a few laps on some pumpy Killer classics before we wandered into the pouring rain and heading back to camp. 

Little did we know that the rain would not stop. No, in-fact it would continue, and then continue some more, and then some. It RAINED. We left. Crap. But, I suppose one day is better than nothing right? And living in the west we really should worship the rain. As for now, I am tired of moving around, and excited to get some days of route setting in and maybe watch a couple movies, get out to the farmers market and ride my mountain bike. A little home time should be great. I'll be keeping my eye on Wyoming weather and plotting another trip soon. In the mean time I will pull out that short list of front range climbs I want to get after... Stay tuned.

-P.s. Ever wonder how big people can go in a Kayak? DUDE. Watch this