Monday, March 26

bolting and training

With my time in Vegas (for now) narrowing, I've been trying to stick to my priorities list and stay motivated as I begin to feel my journey whipping into its next step. At the top of that list is usually my health, which for one reason or another has been suffering a little over the last month or so. Not completely sure of the cause but I've not been feeling 100% for a while. My climbing hasn't suffered too much thankfully, but it's been a little harder to get out of bed in the morning, for sure. I feel like the demons are on their way out, so wish me luck!

Week before last I spent a handful of days hiking up to Mt Potosi. As I mentioned before, this has never really been my favorite crag but solid partners for the area were plentiful and with an unrepeated 9a, I figured why not? I checked out Legrand's 'Bachelor Party' for a few days. It's essentially an extension to a gymnastic and mega steep 14b that I did last year called 'Hold Your Fire'. The upper section involves quite a bit of power out roofs with many 2 and 1 finger pockets. It features some cool movement, although it is literally 95% manufactured. As in, from the ground the the anchor I can count the number of natural holds, on one hand... Regardless, it's a hard rock climb and good training-- I was hoping to get psyched and potentially take it down, but despite some promising links, my motivation for it faded quickly. Perhaps another year when I have more time to play with but for now, I had other things on my mind.
my machete of choice... the corona
I'll be teaching a cairn building clinic this weekend at the Rendezvous if you're interested.

After a little trail work, and lugging the mandatory back breaking backpack for miles, I started bolting a killer route on some limestone far above Vegas. A couple days ago I finished it up, installing anchors always feels so good. It's a rad piece of stone, with drip features up brilliant bullet rock. It still needs some cleaning but it's looking gnarly hard and I can not wait to climb on it... unfortunately I might have to wait... I've got only a little more than a week left and I'm partnerless... ahhhh! something to come back to though I guess.

I did get out for a few days of bouldering recently too. Norah Siller and I semi-epiced among a sea of social trails on our hunt for Juniper canyon. I did one of the hardest V7s ever, a few easier gems and Ethan Pringle's awesome, 'Stand and Deliver' V11. I spent a sandstorm-windy-day in Gateway yesterday, mostly trying to convince Zeke to sit on my crash pad to prevent it from sailing away. He was not cooperative.
Norah on 'The Cubicle', not your average V5

Stand and Deliver
In between I've been spending long hours tucked away in the garage, doing tireless laps on the treadwall and problems on the Moonboard. Trying to stay as fit as possible for my upcoming trip to France is very high on my list of priorities, and thankfully, I feel as though I'm doing alright.

So from here I've got a few more fun nights, some long days climbing and the Red Rock Rendezvous (next weekend!) between me and my departure from Vegas. I'll spend a week or so catching up in Boulder before I leave for France in early April!

Sunday, March 11

grab bag week

I've gotten into what seems like a little bit of everything over the last week. Sunday kicked things off bright and early when I met with honemaster Tommy Caldwell and ace shooter Andrew Burr just inside of the Red Rocks loop at opening. Tommy had tried a burly, 8-pitch Tom Moulin route on the somewhat obscure Buffalo Wall a few days back with our good buddy Chris Weidner and was eager to have another go at it. I happily signed up to take a swing at this rad wall with one of my all time climbing inspirations.

Tommy has wall climbing totally wired. His approach is calculated, he moves quickly and he knows how to try hard 600 feet (or 2,000 for that matter) above the deck. It was rad to share a rope with him and kick it with Burr. I managed to flash the first 5.13 pitch, and almost flash an upper, gnarly anti-gravity slab 5.13 but the crux pitch shut me down pretty hard because of some massive moves. Although I did somehow find a way through it- but it felt a little more like 14a than 13c to me. Regardless, Burr captured some sports action, Tommy sent!, and we all had a long and awesome day on the wall.

Next I put in a proper 6 hour day of training at the local garage. I'm really trying to stay on top of my fitness now, going into my trip to Europe in just under 5 weeks. Wednesday I brought out the crash pad and had a fun day boulder climbing with Chris, Heather and homeboy photographer Celin Serbo. We mostly joked the day away but there was certainly some rad sending and Celin fired off some great shots. We celebrating with a crew round of bowling... not sure why, but it was a damn good time.
Heather Robinson-- not to be messed with at the lanes... 
See any pins standing? didn't think so... 

Thursday I strapped on my boots and explored the march to a crag I had heard a lot about. The promised land is a limestone cave situated well behind the sandstone of Red Rocks. It's a pretty impressive little zone, covered in drip stone features and surrounded with streaks of blue. There is some definite rad climbing here, including a few forgotten projects. Not sure exactly what my stoke will be for in the next month, but returning to this rad little crag could likely be on the list.
pretty rad little crag

Lastly, Friday I joined in with the popular crowd and spent the day at Potosi. This massive limestone cave is covered with hard routes. It's never been my favorite crag, especially considering how heavily manufactured the routes are, but it might offer a good training experience and it certainly has plenty of 5.14s to play on. I climbed a little bit but mostly spent the day laying in the sun-- totally beat from a busy week. Now I'm on rest day number two and I'm thinking pretty seriously about taking a third... it's been a while since I sat around and I can't seem to sleep enough-- so perhaps it's time.

much bigger than it looks....

I did a quick review of these brand new kicks from Sportiva. Have a look here.

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Saturday, March 3


After finally seeing Le RĂªve to completion, I've been stoked to branch out and enjoy some of the other cliffs in the area and have some fun. As many of you surely know, projecting is a stressful process, and one that typically ends with outstanding relief (or perhaps overwhelming despair, depending on the outcome). It's very taxing mentally to project a route for a long time and when it's over I sometimes look for a slightly lower degree of challenge to bring some more reliable success into the picture for a little while.

I returned to Arrow one final day last week to take some photos with my buddy and photographer Jorge Visser and say goodbye to what was my cragging home over the last month or so. I flashed a nice 13b in the Swamp Cave that I'd been wanting to try, and packed up my things- moving on to whatever's next.

I spent one nice and sunny day climbing at Mt Charleston for the first time. This high altitude zone sits thousands of feet above the desert floor and feels like a complete environmental change from Vegas. It's rich with history and still features a shocking amount of hard routes (~20 5.14's?!), many years after its heyday. I did some of the few warm ups at the Hood and then checked out 'Screaming Target' 13c and its extension 'Direct Hit' 14a. I got through Screaming and one hung the entire rig but didn't quite get this hard pitch done. It's amazing how much the 6k feet of altitude gain can effect your climbing- felt like Colorado! I'd be stoked to go back, of course for Direct Hit, but also to potentially check out some American classics like 'Hasta La Vista' 14c, 'Gutbuster' 14c and 'Ghetto Booty' 14d. We'll see where the next month takes me.

What was really next on my list was this forgotten route at the VRG. Not on some obscure cliff off in the distance, but right on the Blasphemy Wall... directly next to Necessary Evil. From what I gathered this route was equipped a number of years back, and then pretty severely chipped, and then the chipped holds were filled in with glue, and the routes bolts were stripped. I heard a rumor that hardman Jason Campbell had top roped this line some years after and had done every move. Yet a good two decades after the VRG was developed this amazing line remained without bolts and unclimbed. I went out solo early in the week and rappelled the line, finding holds the entire way up a clean, incredible chunk of stone. Within 2 hours I had brand new hardware in the route and it was ready for climbing.

Ben Ditto working the notoriously hard Route of All Evil

The route features a cool opening boulder problem composed of primarily long moves on small edges. There are easier sections, but the route never really eases up, ever. Much unlike some of the other testpiece routes at the VRG, this rig is not too bouldery but very sustained. I kept the bolt spacing in proper ethics along with VRG standards (ie: it's kinda thrilling!), and I found the climbing to be downright awesome. I climbed on the route this last Thursday, opening up the sequences and chalking holds. On Friday I returned and finished it up, clipping the chains with swollen fingers from 90 feet of gnarly crimping.
I'm very psyched-- it's not everyday that you can open a new route at such a classic existing area, let alone one of such high quality. It's a shame that this route was originally chipped, but in its current form, it climbs beautifully, using only naturally existing holds. The glued over grips are little more than a slight eye sore, but the climbing certainly makes up for it. Sticking with the Blasphemy Wall theme, and in reference to this routes long history I'm calling it Atonement. As for the grade, this was a tough one. I've always thought of the VRG as perhaps the hardest area in the nation, and 5.14 is anything but a give away here. At most zones I think Atonement could certainly be 14b, but so long as Boone Speeds 'Route of All Evil' is still referred to as 14a (read: HARD, seeing potentially fewer repeats than even Necessary Evil), I don't quite have the balls to call this new rig 14b. So 14a it is, at least for the meantime.
Tomorrow I'm off to join up with Tommy Caldwell on a burly 8 pitch 5.13 in Red Rocks... wish me luck! I'll let you know how it goes...