Monday, May 31

Canadia Ho

It wouldn't be a complete Seattle experience without a couple days of rain and dreary weather, and in the spirit of soaking (no pun intended) up the local scene we've enjoyed almost a week of it. Something of a unique pattern for this time of year, we've felt rain drops everyday of our of visit. However, it's not to say that we didn't have a ball out here, and thankfully we made do and got some rock climbing done. Our friends and generous hosts Dylan and Jenna Johnson have been bending over backwards to help us find dry stone as well as rainy day activities- it worked! Thanks guys.

Apparently two young climber-types with neon bright colored rain parkas and approach shoes stand out like a traffic cone on the 358 bus to downtown, 'cause we seemed to catch the attention of every strange person in Seattle- and as we delightfully found out, there are quite a few! In full tourist mode over multiple days of downpours, we had a chance to check out some key features of the city like Pike's Market, China Town, the amazing Seattle Public Library, the endearingly classic Feathered Friends retail shop, the always welcoming Whole Foods (x2) and of course the unforgettable Cupcake Royal (x3). Jenna, who is the Marketing Manager of Cascade Design, also gave us a tour of the Cascade headquarters, just south of the city, where your trusty ThermaRest is carefully crafted.

Seattle Public Library
Mid-week we headed back for our second day at Little Si. I was feeling some pressure from the incoming storm system and given the previous days / nights of rain I was a bit skeptical of the conditions we could find up there. Immediately upon arrival, optimism was waning, in large part due to streams of water ripping off the cliff.. but to my surprise, it seemed that among the few routes potentially dry enough to climb were the warm up and 'Extended Evil' 5.14b. Psyched, I rehearsed the cryptic beta a few times in my head and fired for a redpoint. After managing the initial, heinous crimp crux, I found some wet resting underclings but knowing the route wasn't getting any dryer, I kept chugging. I encountered a few more slightly moist grips through the business on my way to the finishing 5.12 slab, but the real difficulty came at the final few moves, where smeary feet and damp slopers induced a healthy pump and a stressful period of resting-contemplating-chalking-resting-contemplating-cursing-etc. Finally, forearms bulging, I fired the final foot smear dynamic to the summit- tarzan scream and all. Stoked. Super Stoked.

We finished off the day with a lap on a super cool 13a called 'Californicator', that adds some interesting fresh climbing between two classic routes. We hiked out, still ever-impressed with the quality at Seattle's home crag, Little Si. The following day I caught up with some friends and got my mini-session on at the Nation's original indoor climbing center, Vertical World. Paige and I have been discussing the history of climbing quite a bit as we tour some of America's oldest crags. It's incredible how much impact indoor climbing has had on our sport and it's progression. It's nothing short of a fact that the existence of indoor climbing and climbing specific training centers in America are directly responsible for the new generation of burl- and it's not hard to grasp. Imagine how difficult it would be to train at an indoor intensity, but only outside (as the previous generation did).. gyms offer a consistent climate, a wide variety of climbing angles, an almost limitless potential for movement and hold types and a density of routes 10x that of your local crag. Gyms have made any dedicated individuals' potential to grow skyrocket- the amount of growth a climber can achieve in one year, indoors, is paramount. Regardless of the advantages of gyms, we've both agreed that it takes way more than plastic to meet your true potential.. but the gym certainly supplements the growth period. Anyways, rant aside, we were eager to get back out cragging a few times before heading north to Canada.

Dylan crushing at Newhalem
Saturday we hooked up with alpine legend Steve Swenson and a few of Dylan's buddies, Patrick and James for a tour of New Halem, which we'd heard would be safe from the rain. After a grueling 2 hour drive (sorry, we're spoiled by the Front Range) we arrived at this tall, roadside, granite crag high in the North Cascades. Much of the development here has been done recently, with new additions going in frequently. It turned out to be miraculously dry and surprisingly fun. It was definitely a bit shocking to sport climb on course, blocky granite after the sheer faces of Smith and Si, but we warmed up to it quickly. We climbed quite a bit, with favorites including 'Cinnamon Groove' 12c, a cool wandering route with a ton of variety, 'Vanhalem' 13b, a stout route with a successive, razor sharp crux and a burly finish, 'The Hurt Locker' 13a, a monster 40+ meter pitch that climbs mostly through jugs but somehow induces a sizable pump and '12c for a Day' 12b that consistently crimps and edges up pretty stone. It was a good day out and we're super thankful for the tour- a worthy little crag for rainy days!

'Fifth Force' is SILLY hard

Yesterday we made a journey to one of the North-West's most coveted walls, Index. Steve, Dylan and Jenna were stoked to give us the tour of this much-hyped cliff. I had stood below the lower wall last summer on my road trip with Andy Mann, but the record-setting heat wave kept us close to the ground. Unfortunately, this visit to the crag was still not ideal- much of the wall was seeping and wet. However, we did find refuge at the Country Wall and got a couple awesome climbs done before it started raining again. Index is truly incredible- some of the best quality granite I've ever climbed in such a beautiful setting. The routes tend to be bold, engaging and sandbagged- it's not for the weak hearted. I was STOKED to do a 12b there called 'Fifth Force' - and no I did not onsight. Maybe it was the conditions, or being short, or simply that it's sick hard, but this climb felt like 5.13 to me- and hard at that!

After parting ways with our good friends in SeaTown, we hit the road North earlier this morning. Now we're in lovely Squamish, B.C. enjoying the company of buddies Scott Milton and Sandra Studer over some box wine and Chocolate Eclairs with views of towering granite in the background.. wicked.

Sunday, May 23

Smith to SeaTown

We enjoyed a near perfect culmination to a wicked two weeks at Oregon's incredible Smith Rock a few days back.. and it's definitely saddening to move on. Climbing there and getting to know the community was really a memorable experience, and I'm proud to state that Smith Rock is one of my favorite crags on Earth. Despite how many stunning, classic lines are packed into this place, it's not just the climbing that stands out to me.. in large part it's the community.

In a little over two weeks we've gone from being complete strangers to feeling like family with the locals in the Bend / Terrebonne area. Never have I encountered a community so welcoming, hospitable and psyched. We ran into the same stoked individuals at the crag almost everyday, all eager to shoot the shit, share a few laughs or spray us up and down with beta.. it's been great. Hats off to you guys!!

'Dreamin' 12a Andy Mann Photo
After our good friend and photographer Andy Mann arrived last Tuesday the weather made a dramatic change, from being essentially too hot to climb, to dropping into a crazy period of unseasonable low temperatures, followed by perhaps the most dynamic weather patterns I've ever seen (literally shorts / T-shirt / SPF-50 status turns to hail, down jacket / long-johns / thermos gripping within the same hour). After some hot temps, even the erratic cold and cold/hot was a relief, although we did get rained on a number of times.

Paige climbs 'Chain Reaction' 12c. Mann Photo
The intermittent cool weather was exactly the opportunity I needed to give some more effort on 'To Bolt or Not to Be' 14a. Being something of a heinous slab fan, this stunning route has captivated me for years. It possesses all of the characteristics I look for in a climb: interesting history (first 5.14 in America), stunning aesthetics (a massive, intimidatingly blank slab of golden stone) and difficulty (featuring a never-ending crux, literally 70 feet long). To Bolt has over 80 moves on it, is barely climbable on a 70 meter rope with stretch and overhangs zero degrees. The real difficulty of this climb is in the first 10 liberally spaced bolts, where a tiny inaccuracy with footwork can send any potential suitor screaming off. To Bolt is intimidating, beautiful and legendary- simply put, it's incredible.

A cooler day approached and I couldn't take my mind off this climb. After warming up I went up the climb again to rehearse my beta and try to just remember the dozens of moves and numerous cruxes. Feeling prepared to redpoint, Andy Mann ascended a static line and got in position to shoot some photos. At one of the lower crux sections, I rushed a sequence and barn doored off- tearing open another one of my tips in the process. Frustrated, I linked the section again, ticked a few more feet and wrapped my tip with tape. Back on Earth, I contemplated the poor condition of my skin, the mindf*ck that this incredible route induced and the fast approaching end to my time in Smith. I couldn't imagine myself leaving Smith without finishing this line, but I knew it would not be a give away.. recklessly inspired, I tied in and chugged for the anchors. Andy fired away as I passed through crux after crux with 3 taped tips and eyes red with determination. I really wanted this climb and thankfully I succeeded.. cause my skin could not have handled another burn. It goes without saying, but this send is no-doubt one of my favorites and most cherished, ever.

the legendary 'To Bolt'. Mann Photo
In the following days we changed our pace considerably. Paige and I were both feeling beat-up and Andy was ambitious to shoot lots of photos. Super content with my two weeks at Smith, I decided to take it easy and get some work done. I did dispatch the hardest 5.12c on the planet 'Da Kine Corner' (Brooke Sandahl is a sandbagger!!) and 'Time's Up' 13a/b both onsight while Andy fired photos. Paige hammered out an inspirational flash of 'Kings of Rap' 12d as well. The next day at Smith would be our last, and I knew I needed to climb some classics I had yet to try before our departure. Top of the list was 'Dreamin' 12a, a recognizable line of chalk up the right side of the Christian Brothers that ascends a nearly perfect slab after a powerful pocketed start-it's top quality. Next I moved onto 'Vision' 12b, a choice, thuggish arete nearby. I also did 'Latest Rage' 12b, a killer sharp arete that features one of Smith's boldest run-outs and is worthy of all praise. I finished off the day with laps on 'Vomit Launch' 11b and 'Churning Sky' 13a.

'stop pulling on my leg Paige!!'
After one last evening bullshitting with Steve and Jeanne at the ranch, we found ourselves headed North towards Seattle. I'm super pleased with my experience at Smith as it was nothing short of radical.. and while I did manage to summit a healthy number of awesome, difficult routes, I will surely find myself back there soon.. in-fact I miss it already. Smith reminded me of the true value of community and the world of climbing. No matter where we go, if there's rock, there are likely individuals that share our passion and more often than not they're kick ass people too.

-write your own caption contest-
On that very same note, I'm now sheltered from the Seattle rain thanks to the generosity of our new friends Dylan and Jenna Johnson. We arrived here yesterday after a day of driving and an afternoon exploring Portland (totally underrated city IMO). Today we awoke psyched and made our way to one of my favorite bite sized crags, Little Si, despite a grim forecast. The day turned out to be alright though, and local crag-master Bret Johnston joined us in the mist for a solid Si session. Paige impressed as usual with a 2nd go send of the classic testpiece, 'Chronic' 13b on her first day at the Si. I took a crack at a killer extension to 'Dr. Evil' 14a, called 'Extended Evil' 14b that takes a long, pumpy journey through crimps and edges- I had a pretty decent second try on it before the humidity set in proper and shut me down.. I'm STOKED on this route however and hopefully the heinous forecast will allow an alright sending day soon.

if you're gonna smile, make it a GOOD ONE
Little Si!!
Depending on weather, we'll be hanging in Seattle for a little while, soaking up the big city after a couple weeks out in the country. Enjoy some Andy Mann shots from last week in the meantime and keep your fingers crossed for some dryness!!

Wednesday, May 19

Life on the Ranch

The saga continues at Smith Rocks.. Everyday as we cross back over the Crooked River and grunt our way out towards the car, we can't help but reflect on how special this place is. Between the quantity and quality of climbs here, the scenery and the extremely well maintained condition of the Park, there's little to complain about. Crashing at Steve House and Jeanne Young's place has been a serious lifestyle upgrade as well, with views of Smith Rocks off the back porch, indispensable wifi and a soft bed to rest in (thanks a TON Steve and Jeanne!). Now, with the recent addition of our good friend and photog superstar Andy Mann, we're stoked to make the last couple days at Smith count..

Sun rising on the Smith Rock Group.
Due to some hotter weather, we've had to be selective with our route choices and employ some alpine start techniques to stay cool. Waking up as early as 4am was not even enough to get a good effort on the mega-classic technical masterpiece, 'To Bolt or Not to Be' 14a.. this thing heats up instantly, catching the sun the moment it rises- it's actually quite amazing how quickly this vertical sidewalk becomes unclimbable. However, despite To Bolt being temporarily out, we've been staying busy on the front side early in the morning, long before the bustling crowds pour in. I checked out an alternative finish to the super-arete climb 'Slit Your Wrist' 13b, called 'Mr. Yuck' 14a. This route climbs through the crux of Slit Your Wrist and then breaks right, up an impressive wave wall, through holds few and far between with waning feet. For me this route came down to a series of moves that require precision footwork and trustfully applying pressure to tiny feet, just far enough away that pushing into them is tricky. I found this climb very fickle-subtlety was everything. After attempting Mr. Yuck in some ridiculous heat, I decided to return early the next morningand in better temps I finished the rig. Later that day I also dispatched a cool Aggro Gully route onsight called 'Disposable Heros' 5.13c (wicked soft..), that climbs a series of lay-backs and long moves through somewhat crumbly, albeit decent, rock. Paige skillfully took down the classic, 'Churning in the Wake' 13a, also... killer day.

home on the ranch...
Amongst our classic burl-fest sport climbing tour of Smith, we'd been eying an awesome multi-pitch route that hangs high above the Morning Glory wall.. 'Zebra/Zion' 10a, was on our list, a perfect option for a scorching day. We began with an 11d corner called 'Zebra Seam' that got our blood flowing proper before a couple long, brilliant pitches above, culminating with perhaps the best 5.9 pitch I've ever touched, a juggy arching flake WAY off the deck to the summit. Other than some hair raising lightning (literally hair raising, it was intense) and a lost #7 Metolius cam... (calling all dirtbags- potential booty on the third pitch!!) we had a ball.

Paige follows a pitch, high on 'Zebra/Zion'
Speaking of Metolius cams.. we had a chance to tour the factory, right here in Bend on our last rest day. Metolius and Smith Rock go together like spaghetti and meatballs- in many ways they evolved together. I've been a Metolius ambassador for almost two years now, and seeing the headquarters for the first time reflected the company exactly as I expected it would- classic, friendly, with attention to safety and a very homegrown atmosphere. Brooke Sandahl, an old-school Smith Rock honemaster and long time Metolius team member gave us the thorough tour- taking us through the entire birthing process of Metolius cams. It was shocking to see the amount of work and inspection that goes into a single cam. Rest assured loyal Metolius users, your safe lobbing on these puppies!

Brooke displaying the goods..
'I'd take a whipper on this thing!'
Yesterday we got back to the crag early and I got after a vicious route I'd randomly tried once or twice over the trip (in the sun, like an idiot!). Now, the awesome aretes on 'Vicious Fish' 13d, were finally in the shade and I gave it some proper effort. This incredible route is no doubt one of my favorites at Smith. Movement and holds vary from pockets, to pebbles, to compression, to technical, airy arete climbing. It's brilliant, runout and hard! I was stoked to send. I also dispatched a flash on a cool, overlooked 13a/b route called 'Oxygen', just around the corner from Vicious Fish.

Andy Mann photo of myself on 'Darkness at Noon'

Sportiva Miura is CHOICE for Smith
After picking up Andy Mann from the nearby Redmond airport, we went back to the crag for an evening session. I hung a line and chucked a repeat on the amazing 'Darkness at Noon' 13a for some photos before turning my attention to one of the last standing routes on my must-do list at Smith. 'To Bolt or Not to Be', America's first 5.14, was finally in the shade and our buddy IanYurden was ready for a solid effort. After his killer burn, and unfortunately super heinous upside-down fall, I was (...scared?) ready to give it a try. Simply put, this climb is insane- brilliantly technical and like nothing I've ever experienced. It could be one of the better, more interesting and uniquely difficult climbs I've ever been on. I'm stoked on my initial effort and can't wait to try it again... now the weather just has to cooperate!

'To Bolt or Not to Be'. Andy Mann Photo

Friday, May 14

Bakin' n Snakin'

Smith Rock continues to impress and inspire us. The landscape is phenomenal, the climbing is fantastic and the locals are simply rad. At Smith Rock the local community is tight- everyone seems to know everyone, and you'll generally find the same smiling faces at the crag throughout the week. We've gotten to know many of them (definitely thanks to the Spring Thing crag clean up event last weekend) and Paige and I agree they are some of the most hospitable locals we've run into.

Paige LOVES snakes

Amid heinous tales of mid-May snow storms and sub-freezing weather back in Boulder, things have been unfortunately heating up here a bit. However, we did manage to get out and have some success since our last rainy rest day. On Tuesday, we sampled a few classic sunny warmups including a mega 2 pitch (single rope length) route called 'Magic Light' 12b- jugs for days followed by some technical crack/face climbing that's sure to warm even the toughest of hardfolk up. After Paige cranked an awesome one-hang effort on 'White Wedding' 13d, we quickly retreated to shade at a crag we had yet to visit, the Christian Brothers-home to the turbo-classic test-piece, 'Scarface' 14a. Our buddy Darren had been working this killer looking line for a few days, and when we arrived he was just tying in. I watched closely as he made a heartbreaking attempt, falling at the end of the business.

'Scarface' 14a takes the left edge of this beautiful wall
With him and local hardman Ian Caldwell both spraying me down, I jumped on this killer route and sussed out the huge lock-offs between pockets and cryptic body position necessities of the first 5.14 established by an American- way back in '87. I barely lowered off this monster pitch with a 70m rope, and couldn't wait to take another crack at it.. I took a quick rest, reviewed my beta and eagerly jumped back on. This route is 50 feet of burl- big moves between pretty good pockets, followed by a tricky exiting move involving a strange hip scum and then a huge finishing tech-slab that seems to never end. The finishing slab may only be 5.11, but until then there are no rests (at least that I could figure out). With beta fresh in my mind and my stoke level high, I managed to finish off Scarface on my 2nd attempt.

Shortly after, Darren jumped on and road the send train.. meanwhile I cranked an onsight of the neighboring classic, 'Rude Boys' 13b/c, a thuggish route with thin pockets, rose moves and dynamics- again finishing with a tech-slab. Awesome.

'Aggro Monkey' 13b
'Bad Man'

The next day we headed straight for the Aggro Gully to catch the best temps for Paige. With no hesitation, she warmed up and took down 'White Wedding'- showcasing her wicked finger strength and fitness. It was super inspiring to watch. We hung around in the heat for a bit before some locals recommended that I check out a bouldery route way up the gully called 'Burl Master' 13c. This shorter grunt fest features big, dynamic movement in and out of good and bad holds, which are unfortunately disappearing rapidly due to breakage. Despite it's down right poor rock quality, this route offers a much different style than most at Smith. I was stoked to succeed at an onsight of this thing- partially because a second effort might have fewer holds!

Paige Crushes. Nuff Said
Next we headed back to the Christian Brothers to check out a recommended Scott Milton (yeah boy!) route, 'Chemical Ali' 14a. This climb ascends a very different rock type than what we were used to at Smith.. few pockets, poor, undefined edges and big features. The climbing would have been unique at any crag, but was especially so at Smith. My first burn proved to be a bit ambitious given the rock still held heat from the early sun, but I was able to figure out beta and get a feel for it. We hung out for a while, looking over the park as the sun fell closer to the horizon (this place kicks ass). After the route had a chance to cool off a little, I fired to the chains! Stoked. Back to the campsite for some box wine, burritos and well deserved sleep.

Ben Moon special edition funny whipper shots!
Yesterday we hauled big packs around to the back side of Smith in anticipation for a warm day. We'd been told that the backside was the place to be in the heat. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of not checking the aspect of the face I was stoked on, and we found it baking in the sun when we arrived early in the morning. Dang. None-the-less, the Monkey Face is seriously impressive- a really special feature. Seeing 'Just Do It' 14b/c for the first time is something of a dream- this mythical route has no doubt fascinated the likes of many for nearly 20 years.. and remains a test-piece to this day. Too stoked to just sit around, I tied in and took to the brutally hot climb with quickdraws in hand, sans warm up (mistake #1 and #2). It was HOT and the bottom is legit (read: difficult). So I made my way up, thrashing my skin but remaining stoked.. until I got too hot and desperately fled back to earth and into shade. After an hour or so the climb finally peeled into the shade and I gave another effort, finding the route considerably nicer, although still quite warm. I did get to the chains and was able to do all the moves. However, I will admit that while it may have been the hot conditions, this route felt super super hard. A lateral span move towards the top is at the limit of my reach and the long lock-offs before and after it require me to use poor foot options. Regardless, I'm stoked, my draws are hanging and I'm adamant to give it some serious effort.. as soon as the temps cool off.

Looking onto the Three Sisters from the summit
Thankfully we've got plenty of time and our new friends Jeanne Young and Steve House have generously offered up their nearby place for us to crash- definitely an upgrade! With some cooler temps in our near future and a plethora of remaining psych, we're both ambitious to get some stuff done in our last week at Smith!

Bring props to BEN MOON for hooking up some sweet photos.

Monday, May 10

Oregon Rocks

..Enter life on the road.. we left Boulder last Thursday, bright and early, with eyes wide and psych level high. Our goal was to hammer out the long drive all the way to Bend, Oregon in a day. Unfortunately, Idaho proved disturbingly huge and we wore out a few hours short.. Prairie City to be exact, somewhere along the historic Oregon Trail. We poached a random campsite and enjoyed a wholesome country style breakfast with the locals in the morning before polishing off the drive to Smith.

on the road. North West status.
making my contribution to this random tree full of shoes (!?)
Smith Rocks is classic, bold, beautiful and wildly impressive. I've wanted to check out this world class destination for quite some time and despite how much I'd studied guidebooks, videos and photography, I was still blown away when I first caught a glimpse of the State Park.

Smith Rock
We hurriedly tossed shoes and gear in our packs, bought a year pass, and made our way to the climbing. We headed straight for the Dihedrals, a stunning series of massive corners covered in incredible routes. While the frequently climbed areas are all generally in close proximity, the sheer size and amount of rock at Smith is staggering- there is literally towering stone in every direction. Standing beneath the Dihedrals for the first time is a rad experience; they are completely blank- you need only to tilt your head and engage a touch of imagination to picture parking your car on these seemingly featureless mega-slabs.

After sampling one of the few 5.11s, Paige got right down to business, dispatching the entire 120 dead-vertical feet of 'Heinous Cling' 12c onsight. I followed suit and then continued on by managing an onsight on it's next door neighbor and the first 5.13 at Smith Rock, 'Darkness at Noon' 13a- a beautifully challenging route that demands techy footwork for days. Paige immediately followed with an impressive flash. We were both so stoked on the quality of this test-piece that we thought it would only be right to carry on to the next mega-classic 13a, 'Churning in the Wake'. A truly world-class route, Churning climbs an amazing seam that runs between light and dark stone through just about every character of hold you could imagine from crimps, to finger locks, to slopers to pinches, finishing with a dynamic lunge to a finishing jug. I onsighted to the chains and couldn't get enough, so I carried on with Churnings big brother extension, 'Churning in the Ozone' 13b for the full value. Paige followed by falling off the finishing jug on her flash.. wicked effort.

We had been told that 'Kings of Rap' 12d, was a must do by a few worthy sources and after my successes on some 13s I figured it might come easy. Well! I've got news for you (Leif Gasch), this route is BRUTAL! I had to get aggro on this pitch in order to manage the OS- killer route, but come on! 12d? serious? dang dude. Surprisingly (being so run down after the epic on Kings), I managed to onsight 'Taco Chip' 13a, to finish off our first day. We returned to the parking lot beat-up, smiles ear to ear, eager for more. Smith Rock is legit, end of story.

getting to know the locals
The following day we got out early to lend a helping hand for the annual Spring Thing, a climber organized clean up and maintenance day. With sunny weather on our side, a whole bunch of us carried boulders, moved earth, cleaned up and hung out for the betterment of this amazing park. Paige and I were stoked to help out and it gave us a great chance to meet some of the rad local folk and get to know the place better. We even had enough time to squeeze in a few pitches in the afternoon and have our first taste of the Aggro Gully. This deep running cleft offers some relief from the heat of the Dihedrals (which are south-east facing) and also features the highest concentration of burly routes at Smith. We warmed up on the ego-reducing 5.11 'Toxic' and I took a run up 'The Quickening' 12+ before focusing our attention on the business at the Aggro. I missed a super crucial side-pull on the awesome 'Aggro Monkey' 13b and junked my onsight, but managed to hammer off this lock-off fest second try. Despite some creeping sun and a morning of lifting huge rocks, three local dudes nailed their respective projects in the Aggro Gully on Saturday.. super inspirational. So I decided I needed to at least attempt something hard-hard.

J.B. Tribout was once called a bad man for some unapproved first ascents at Smith Rock back in the early 90s. Particularly of his ascent of the route 'Bad Man' 14a, at the Aggro. I'd heard of this notorious route being extremely difficult for short folk, which oddly often seems to grab my attention.. being 5'5, I'm not totally sure why, but I love / hate reachy routes. After taking a sample run on Bad Man I knew right away why it had such a reputation.. two huge undercling dead-points offer some unique and extreme difficulties for the shorter types, but I was inspired by the line and it's history none-the-less. After a good albeit tired second burn, I figured I would toss in the towel and return the next day for a proper effort. That night we shared some delicious food and a killer slide-show by the man himself, Alan Watts, with the other volunteers at the Spring Thing. Rad crew, great vibes.. much thanks people!!

Sunday we went straight to the Aggro and after warming up I jumped back on Bad Man, but unfortunately had a less than inspiring burn.. definitely feeling my third day on and some rising levels of heat. Paige fired The Quickening though and got me all psyched up again.. so I switched to some stiff boots- for an extra half inch of reach!- and managed to clip some chains on Bad Man. Very, very stoked..

Paige took a couple promising burns on 'White Wedding' 13d and offered me some beta on this incredible power endurance route that climbs through unique sequences and holds for its entire length- pockets, pebbles, edges, etc. I took a sample burn and although I was hugely psyched on the route, I was almost certain that my skin was literally speaking aloud to me in pain, something like, 'Dude, are you for real? The thumbs and all eight of us hate you right now!' Knowing that a rest day was on the horizon I convinced myself that another burn was in order.. and thankfully my skin cooperated for a send. Stoked! Absolutely no shortage of high quality routes in Smith, and after just a few days, Paige and I agree that the park is all it's cracked up to be- world class.

shockingly organized..
Now we're in Bend, relaxing at a book store downtown after a sauna and a shower, dreaming about our next day out at Smith.. Despite a well-timed rainy day today, the next week looks rad.

Stay tuned for some killer sports action pics from Ben Moon in the coming days!

Thursday, May 6

Zero seconds to Launch!

... and so it is. Countdown clock is at zero, and despite a long period of excited planning, (of course) the past few hours have felt hurried and even stressful. We're off on a much anticipated adventure around the North-Western U.S. and through Canada, with no set end date. After months of tireless effort, I can proudly say I'm in peak condition and my motivation is at a joyous high.

First stop is beautiful Smith Rocks, a history laden spot I've dreamed of visiting for ages. We've got video and photographic capabilities and we'll be doing our best, along with Sportiva LIVE to bring frequent updates and stories from the road!

During stressful moments before a long trip, I'm always comforted by the far more stressful moments in the past.. Nothing could be more complicated than when we packed this taxi full of crash pads in Cambodia.. at least we had plenty of help! Josh Morris Photo.

The Subaru is packed, our iPhones are charged and our spirits are high.. See you guys n gals out on the open pavement! Cheers..