I guess I always figured that when I took the leap (or dive) into climbing full-time, after finishing my undergrad, that I would inevitably find myself overwhelmed with free time.. I even said to myself, 'I'm going to have to pick up a new hobby.. like soccer, or knitting, or XBOX or something'..Well, it turns out, that here I am, over a year from my last college class, and the days are cranking by. I could never continue at this pace if I wasn't so passionate about this pursuit, about this community and about taking every opportunity I could.
there's lots of sky over Wyoming
I begin my entry with this, given that it's been a little while since I last updated. I really enjoy writing up my experience, in part to share it, but also to have a moment to relax and appreciate the previous week or so. Needless to say, I've been busy- and it's been awesome.
B Real on 'Rode Hard' 12c at the ICF
So, firstly, the International Climbers Festival in Lander.. This was the first climbers festival type event I'd ever been to, and I was thoroughly impressed with it. It's in it's 17th year, after the late GREAT Todd Skinner started it all and it's still running smoothly and attracting hundreds. There are tons of various events happening everyday, including loads of free meals, slide-shows, film fests, comps, clinics and all that- a KILLER deal and an excess of good times for only $50. Paige and I got a couple days of pocket grabbing in up at the beautiful Wild Iris, before heading into town for the weekend, where we helped serve one of the feasts, check out some movies, and I got sucked into MC'ing the Dyno Comp (which turned out to be a hell of a good time!). I will certainly be visiting more of such events- It's a chance to meet people and talk a lot of sh*t about climbing without actually climbing that much- which is not a bad thing every now and then. However, we did manage to grab some stone as I mentioned, and I was pleased to put down 'Atomic Cow' 13d, 'Copenhagen Angel' 13b and 'Boy' 13a (HARD!) quickly along with flashing 'Last Man Standing' 13b, which more or less wraps up my desire to climb at the Iris- aside from strictly enjoying the wicked setting.
sunset over the Iris
Tuesday I finally got the chance to hook up with fellow Arcteryx Athlete and all-around mega bad ass, Rob Pizem. He'd been bugging me about checking out a high altitude crag he's been working on for years up on Mt. Evans- The Possibilities Wall (aka the P-Wall). He gave me the grand tour, and I had a chance to even help establish a couple new routes during our long day out. Climbing and hanging at this wall reminded me of when I was working on my first 5.14 back in 2007- 'Sarchasm' on Long's Peak (at around 12,500ft). At just around the same elevation, the P-Wall requires some series red-blood cells.. even the 5.11 'warm-up' seemed strenuous.. but my time at the Iris and Wizards Gate did me well in the end- I flashed a absolutely ridiculous, HUGE traditional route called 'It's a Homonym' 12c and onsighted a crazy hanging traverse called 'Vacation from Your Problems' 13b. On the to-do list was also to lay eyes on Pizem's mega-proj, 'Hopeless' which is sure to be the hardest high altitude route in the country when it goes.. with Pizem moving to the western slope, it may be time to get a Mt. Evans pass and dig up some willing belayers.
Pizem, enjoying a 'Vacation from [his] Problems' 13b
For the remainder of the week I made finishing up business around the Wizard's Gate my priority. Day after day I hiked in to a newer zone, dubbed the 'Lighthouse' (although it's been previously known as Crosswinds) to wrap up some bolting efforts I had started there. After days of work and almost 50 hangers, the result is a whole new spot to escape to when the Front Range heat is getting you down. I'm super stoked to be (90%) finished with this cool new spot, and psyched to see some of the Wizard's Gate crowd spill over and have a look.
bolting, 'Grippin' the Cutlass' 12+
I've come to terms with the existence of jugs and ledges. Typically when I first rap down a wall, I'm filled with anxiety about the potential (and seemingly inevitable) existence of rests, jugs, ledges, etc. Naturally I want to discover a cutting edge route- and also something that tests my abilities- but I've become aware, by the crowds of excited individuals arriving at Wizard's Gate (a crag I bolted last summer that features great routes from 5.9 to 5.14), that while finding the next best 14+ would make me ecstatic, it's establishing good climbs that matters most, regardless of the grade. It may take me years of searching to find an awesomely wicked hard rock climb, but along the way, I'll happily clean up, bolt and establish routes all across the board if I believe someone else will enjoy them. That being said, Crosswinds has got a handful of radical 5.12s, and a very nice 13-. So grab your 70m and check it out here.
After a number of days wrapping up bolting at the Crosswinds, Paige and I headed to Rifle. This was my third trip, and I felt like I'd finally got a pretty good grasp on the technique and required skills to climb there. We arrived late Tuesday and warmed up immediately. I enlisted the beta of two of America's greatest female climbing athletes (and the only two women to ever climb 5.14 at Rifle) Emily Harrington and of course, Paige Claassen. They gave me great insight as I took my first burn up the ultra classic, 'Zulu' 14a. I was pleased to quickly unlock the first crux dynamic, and flash the second.. but I stumbled at the top- after 80 feet of hard climbing comes two distinct crux sections that feature unique movement and MANY different options. I took my time to try and create a feasible path to the anchors, but I discovered on my second effort (climbing to the upper crux and failing), that my beta was not good enough. I worked my way through the upper bit, figuring beta and exhausting myself. Before I could even rehearse the very top top, I was empty.. literally. DONE. Dirt, Dinner, Sleep.
the RMP in all it's summer glory
The following morning we awoke to rain, which did sock in some serious moisture, but also dropped temperatures 20 degrees and kept the sun from baking Zulu. I warmed up, stretched out, rehearsed my beta, and fired it! Very, very stoked to do such a mega classic, burly route so quickly. I seem to climb well in humidity (as long as it's cool), and I credit this climactic shift and the encouragement of my friends for my success.. Zulu truly is all it's cracked up to be. Floating after this victory, I decided to spring onto the nearby 'Bride of Frankenstein' 13c/d - an ugly, poorly manufactured route that everyone seemed to love. Mostly consistent and straight forward, thuggy movement takes you to a big roof- which I tried once on my first burn, but lowered to the ground before I reached the chains- assuming the roof was the crux and feeling beat up from Zulu.. after some rest I decided to 'oh what the hell' try it again, and to my surprise, I climbed through the bottom and found myself below the big horizontal roof near the anchors.. 'Crap! I don't know what to do!! whadoido whadoido?!' With no Rifle junkies nearby to spray me down, I took a few deep breaths and cranked into the roof, only to discover that the finish was actually quite tame. Stoked! It's not my favorite route (by a long shot) but, hey- the movement is fun I suppose. I finished off this killer day with a flash of 'Charleston Choss' 13b, next door, which honestly, felt about as hard as the Bride. Maybe it's cause I was WRECKED. It's been a long time since my whole body hurt from a day of climbing like this. The following morning I began, and ended, with some warm ups.. rest day deserved.
money siesta spot- check
In between all this jazz, I put together a little essay with a few pictures for Arcteryx on traveling and climbing- have a look here. Now I'm headed back to Estes to escape the heat and search for more stone.. Cheers!