Monday, August 30


I'm settling into a bit of a routine now after having been traveling basically non-stop since late April. Routines can both be empowering and life draining depending on how long they go uninterrupted and what activities (or lack there-of) make up a specific routine. For me, at the moment, this routine is feeling alright- With a lengthy trip now just over a month away, and so much great traveling in my recent past, it'll be good to re-group, make some cheddar and be around good ol B-Town for a minute. I'm setting routes on the regular now, and I will be until I take off in early September.
After hustling through some plastic workouts last week, Paige and I took off to celebrate my Birthday with some friends and one of our favorite dogs (taking care for our good friends) in Rifle. Friday I got stoked to check out Sam's new 'Let it Burn' 13d, which begins on the famed 'Sometimes Always' 13c and finishes the same ending as the 'Living the Dream' extension. I had yet to climb on Sometimes Always, but I heard it was a killer route and it was one to do on the mighty Project wall. I knew the new ending would add some difficulty and so I took off from the deck with little expectation. Paige was happily cheering me (it was my birthday after all) as I squirreled my way through the bottom of Sometimes Always, to find myself at a rest beneath a traverse towards the new extension. I fired through the exciting, bouldery traverse and entered the extension feeling alright.. before I knew it I was at the last great rest, rehearsing the finishing slab I'd only climbed once, over and over in my head- hoping my beta was correct. Thankfully it was, and I shortly there after clipped chains. Very much surprised myself with the first try summit. I then jumped onto Joey Kinder's new rig next door, a beastly route with hard cruxes separated by nice rests- it features a super weird slopping bevel that is tricky to surmount. I couldn't quite find an enjoyable method through it, but the rest of the route felt rad. Good luck to Joe and Sam on that thing!
Zala knows what you're thinking!!

Later that day I gave a go at 'Slice of Life' 13d. In classic rifle style, I found myself stumped at the crux- completely perplexed and not totally certain why some 'holds' where so excessively covered in chalk.. huh. Anyways, I had my cake already (both meaning I sent, and I actually did eat a significant portion of my birthday cake), so I called it a day and finished the night in the company of friends hanging out and shooting the shit. The next morning, after conversing with a few people about Slice, I went back and managed to finish it's twin, 'Piece of Cake' via some more straight forward resistance which I totally thought could carry the 13d grade, but apparently is given the c. I continued on to have a look at 'Huge' 13d as well, thinking that maybe I could squeeze one more route out of my exhaustion.. Betaless, I fumbled my onsight quickly, and went about slowly crawling my way through the crux bolt by bolt to suss beta. This route is AMAZING. It is definitely one of my favorites at Rifle- a bouldery, thuggy crux starts things off, followed by a difficult resistance section, followed by a long pumpy 12+ zone to a finishing crux up top. The route is massive (thus the name) and the rock is bullet- super nice climbing. Tired, I hopelessly tried shortly after my first burn and failed immediately. I brushed a few things and lowered, belaying Paige as she came damn close to doing 'Living in Fear'.

I've been really pleased with myself lately in that I've managed to come through in the last effort of the day, when I'm tired and busted. Just when I know I should probably call it quits, I rally up the energy for a hail mary burn.. There's nothing to loose really- we've all failed before- but success on the final attempt feels incredible. I'm always extra stoked when I can bring down a route in this state, and honestly it's these attempts that really get me motivated. One more burn, one more burn.. and thankfully Saturday was no exception- I managed to put down Huge on my hail mary third try. Nice two days at Rifle, and we were off to get home in time for an epic rest day at the nations largest water park.. best $29 I ever spent!
proper birthday snacks

For now, I think that's a rap for me at Rifle- a great way to go out. I've been climbing there a lot recently, and I think I've finally acquired the skill set I was looking for. While I've learned to like it there, a few aspects of the place still rub me the wrong way. Thankfully I managed to put a handful of rad climbs to rest, and got a thorough introduction to blocky limestone. In the meantime I'll be working often, but also making use of long weekends and working towards my next set of goals.
Sportiva just put up a little beta piece I did for the LIVE site on Eastern Washington's own, Deep Creek with a couple photos- check it here. Speaking of photos, I just got my new DSLR and I couldn't be more stoked to shoot! hope you enjoy a couple of my first pictures with it.

Friday, August 20

OR ETC prt 3

Part three. The final installment. Three back-to-back updates is my way of trying to overcome the shame of not updating for over two weeks! but I will admit, it was a welcome escape to leave my computer at home over the last trip. It's been hectic getting all aspects of my life put together, as it always is when you try and diligently pack every and all responsibilities into your two weekly rest days.. please don't mistake the previous sentence for a complaint however, life is fantastic, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
rest day mini-golfing, like a pro

Moving right along.. After a couple days climbing and hanging in Salt Lake, I made my way for Rifle. Temps are finally starting to cool off a bit around Colorado, but I have to say I've been super impressed (and stoked) with how climbable rifle is in the kind of heat that would make most other burly areas completely miserable. It's not like I'm warming up in direct sun or anything, but still, daytime highs of mid 80s in the canyon, and still feeling capable is pretty cool (no pun intended). Day one I hooked up with my friends Lauren and Nate, and got to check out a few new-to-me walls. I did 'Thieves' 13a at the Wasteland, which I whole heartedly thought was bad ass- a great rock climb on fantastic stone. I also got to check out the Bauhaus, home to most of Rifle's hardest climbs. I decided to have a go at 'Roadside Prophet' 14a, a super cool, ultra long pitch with some thuggery around the bottom and some pumpery towards the top. I was stoked to manage the reachy moves at the bottom, and super excited to finish it that night on my third attempt. The following morning I took a crack at a new extension to 'Living in Fear' 13d that Sam Elias had bolted. This incredible extended pitch stacks some additional difficulty right on top of the last boulder problem in Living.. without rest. Then follows up by finishing up some tech 5.12 climbing to the final crux exit move on 'Sometimes Always'. It's freaking awesome. I was stoked right away, but only got one attempt before I had to take off to see some of my old time best friends over in Winter Park.
a proper night out is not complete without some duck hunting
After a day of hanging out in WP, I returned with the extension on my mind. Sam was now back from his trip to Mexico, and seeing in that he had yet to try it himself, he was obviously stoked as well. We exchanged beta, and when I was warmed up and ready, he offered me a catch. Somewhat to my surprise, I fired through Living feeling great, and continued through the crux and to the rest on the extension. From here I got running beta from Sam and Joey Kinder to finish the pitch (I had yet to climb the last 4 bolts or so). I asked Sam's permission before I clipped the chains. Although I did technically climb this route first, Sam deserves all praise for his efforts, vision and time invested. I'm super grateful to be part of the first ascent team on 'Living the Dream' 14a/b, Rifle's new endurance test piece. Sam dispatched next try.
Sam is 'Living the Dream' - photos thanks to JOEY KINDER

Later that afternoon, I decided it was time to strap on 2 of them dang sticky thigh straps and get my KNEEBAR on. This is a skill that I'm seriously lacking, and it's something I need to perfect if I wish to succeed on future goals. I tried the neighboring route, 'Present Tense' 13d, a very interesting and kneebar intensive power route. First try I hung like a champ, A LOT.. it was cool though, I knew I needed practice. After a solid rest I came back, expecting to rehearse and continue sussing (and hanging), but I remained focused on one move at a time, finding the strange rests and trusting those damn kneepads when I could, I all of a sudden found myself below the final crux- a sequential bulge- where I took a moment to think over the movement and grab a quick rest before carrying on to the summit. Very excited about this accomplishment- kneebars are actually quite tricky and hard to get used to, so I took this route (where I used 11 kneebars) as a proper start to my training on the topic.

The next morning I enjoyed a couple repeat climbs and the company of friends before heading back to Boulder before traffic could hinder my commute. It was no doubt good to arrive home and do 'home' stuff. Boulder is a killer spot to call home. Now I'm on the weekly program while I get into a regular schedule of setting routes more frequently to save some money for a long trip to the South East I have planned for the fall. With every passing day, us obsessive rock climbers can begin to feel the fall breeze slowly edging it's way into our lives, beckoning our hoarded sick days and encouraging our patience for the beloved autumn. SOON!
Da Kine Corner= HARD, Andy Mann image
Lastly.. over at the Climbing Magazine website, there's a slew of kick ass images from our recent trip to the incredible Smith Rock, Oregon. Have a look here.

Thursday, August 19

OR ETC prt 2

After leaving Maple, I made my way back up to Salt Lake despite some sweltering temps to try and get out and grip some limestone. Day one, Lauren Lee, Keith Ladzinski, Randyl Nielson and I got motivated to check out American Fork canyon and try and get some shooting done. The day turned out to be overcast which made the temperatures tolerable albeit not prime. Despite the certain lack of sending temps, we did manage to get some sending done. American Fork is about 40 minutes south of Salt Lake and offers a plethora of diverse limestone crags. Hell and the El Diablo wall are perhaps the best known, for their short, finger intensive boulder problems that have been protected with bolts (joking. although the routes are very short and intense and a number of them have been bouldered out). Regardless, it was a shocking change from the endless horizontal jugs of Maple- and I was feeling kinda stoked on it. I dispatched the super cool, power endurance route, 'Body Count' 13d and flashed the seriously amazing 'Malvado' 13a. Randyl and Keith fired off some impressive photos. Sometime in the middle of the day Jacinda Hunter and her husband Mike arrived to hang out.. J.C. freaking owns AF, and you can tell by her wealth of accomplishments (and beta) in the area. She just recently established a 14b called Fantasy Island in the canyon- all the while having a family (a big one at that). Unfortunately I was unable to check out her new route, but I'd guess I should wait for better temps anyways. They are both awesome individuals and were stoked to see us out pulling at AF regardless of the heat.
Nielson Photos of 'Body Count'

Next day I returned with my hosts and good friends Leif and Lindsey Gasch. I warmed up and got psyched to try the classic burl route, 'Dead Souls' 14a. Leif got stoked next door on the super hard 13b, Inferno. We both suffered.. although he had the excuse of having just taken a month off.. I was excuse-less, so I decided to take it easy and support Lindsey across the river on 'Jug Abuse' 13c. She made rad progress, I hung out with the dogs, and we went home a happy little unit of non-senders.
Leif non-sending. whatever though he fired it the next day!.. 'Little G' 13c
Next morning we returned and I meant business cause I was planning on taking off to rifle the following day. I felt a bit torn up from my three days in Maple and then two at AF with only one day of kinda rest inbetween, but I happily managed to fire Dead Souls first try, and later in the day, put 'San Miguel' 13c to rest with hardly any fuel left. I was actually very excited to have done DS, partially cause it felt so hard at first, but also cause it's a route I had heard about and recognized as a canyon classic. We tore up some super duty Margs and whatnot at the Mexican food spot to celebrate our day at El Diablo.
Ladzinski image. Sickness.

Hanging in Salt Lake for a couple days was rad. I could see myself living there at some point- the people are super cool, the access to climbing is year round and hard to beat (other than Boulder, only cause our climbing is so damn close) and the city has a lot going on. I always enjoy heading there a couple times a year. Maybe if I'm really psyched I can strap some skis on my feet at the 2011 winter OR.

The next day I got in the studio with a photographer and great friend of mine, Dan Morris. His studio photography is truly some of the best I've seen. We knew each other through his brothers guiding business in Northern Thailand, where he's done a bunch of awesome work in and around South East Asia. We shot some randomly inspired studio stuff that turned out pretty damn cool- have a look at a couple here. More images should be up soon.

That night I took off for a couple days in Rifle, an area I'm slowly getting more and more interested in. It was a killer couple days, and some rad stuff went down.. stay tuned for the next installation!

Wednesday, August 18

OR ETC, Prt 1

A whole bunch of life has taken place since I last updated.. firstly- BOOM! new website. But I'll back track a little and get into the happenings of the last two weeks, which, due to current time restraints, will have to be cut into sections- it's like three posts for the price of one!!

Paige and I ripped up I-70 in the WRX after a day in Rifle to explore the Summer Outdoor Retailer Trade Show and hang with some of our good friends in Salt Lake. Despite what many people openly express about OR, I typically have a good time there. Thankfully I've nothing too unbelievably important going on (that's likely the reason why it's fun) and there's always a gaggle of friends around to chat with - frequently too many for just a few days actually. First off, I finally got to meet the super cool and talented Boone Speed during a Sportiva photo shoot and hang with the Sportiva alpinist crew, including my buddy Steve House. We had a bunch of laughs and consumed copious amounts of pizza. Over at the trade show, all of my sponsors exhibited rad new products for 2011.. Arcteryx is releasing the new Phase base layering system which is nothing short of awesome. Metolius has a new line of crash pads featuring some killer graphics and a built in carpet. Sportiva has a couple flashy new running shoes and a new climbing shoe that is a cross between a Solution and a Cobra (I know.. you're stoked) and Sterling has remade the Ion 9.5 (now 9.4) with a better weave and some new colors.

And, if you were wondering, my favorite two dogs ever, Amico and Bodhi (pictured above), well, they're pretty much doing the same old shit for 2011- which brings me to my next topic.. Our good friends Leif and Lindsey put us up and showed us a great time around SLC. Shortly after the show we shot down to Maple Canyon to sample the mind cobbling boggles I have heard so much about.
Ally climbs out the 'Great Feast'
It was our first time there, and given the amount of spray, I think we expected a lot. The camping was top notch, the landscape was totally spectacular, and the climbing was.. alright. I don't think either Paige nor I are super stoked on roof climbing, but we had a killer time none the less. The Pipe Dream is mega. It's an upside down sea of cobbles fixed by a sometimes questionable matrix and a heap of Sika. The climbing is very unique and physical- mostly jugs, close to zero technical ability needed through giant roofs with the occasional knee-bar. It's not my preferred style, or my strength, but it was a shoulder busting, arm swelling good time no doubt. At the end of the first day, my biceps were on fire! It was as though I had lifted crates of heavy bricks for hours (a.k.a. route setting).. thankfully my forearms seemed to be alright so naturally I was prepared for another day of hard work.

We stayed for a total of three days, climbing throughout. Day one I onsighted the classic entry-level burl route, 'Sprout' 13a and nearly flashed the literally more-than-horizontal, 'Millennium' 13d, which I excitedly fired second try. Day two I got through my favorite Maple route - 'Wyoming Sheep Shagger' 13d, second try and then carried on to finish up the T-Rex extension making 'Mutton Bustin' 5.14 a/b (everything at the Pipe Dream has an extension, alternative ending, a link-up or a sissy version- there is no lack of options) I followed up with a lap on 'Toxic Turkey' 13c (?) second try and returned to the campsite with whimpering biceps. Day three we checked out the Compound - a really cool crag up the road from the camping that features more textured cobbles and shorter, more bouldery climbs. I warmed up and did 'Ballocks' 13a before Paige and our friend Ally Dorey had to bail back towards Colorado. Alone, and in search of a proper pump, I wandered up to the Pipe Dream to belay Spencer McCroskey as he killed 'Whole Shot' 13d and his triumph inspired me to do 'Mexican Rodeo' 13d first try. That night I shared drinks and laughs with the always welcoming Seattle crew before taking off for Salt Lake the following morning.
Myself, lost in a sea of cobbles on 'Muttin Bustin'

On my way out I stopped and snapped a few quick photos of the turkey ranch right outside Maple. This was just days after I had started exploring the possibilities of eating meat again (I've been a vegetarian for 4 years).. and being so brutally reminded of the conditions millions of animals suffer to become our food quickly repressed any desire for a burger I had been having. There were probably 2 dozen of these facilities. Yummy!
no really! we're totally comfortable

the second installment will be up shortly.. until then, have a look around the new super fly website! Thanks to Andy Mann for use of his images for the site.