Friday, June 22


Thanks for all the good times, France... it was an eye-opening, bad ass trip for sure. I returned home last week with a surplus of stoke. I think for many reasons it was really important for me to see the cliffs, see the scene and meet some key characters in European climbing. I feel motivated - maybe more than ever - to develop new routes and crags here in the states. No doubt it was mind-blowing to experience crags of such exceptional quality such as Ceuse, but at the same time it helped me realize that what we've got going on over here... it really aint that bad. Ceuse is, without question, one of the best (if not the best) sport climbing venues I've ever visited. Having such a baseline for comparison is hugely important and in large part, if anything, it assured me that while we ('Merica) were perhaps not blessed with quite the same spectacular limestone, we do have some rad shit going on.... and sport climbing in the US of A is on the rise again!
Wrapping up the trip in France... was a heavy mix of emotions for sure. After a brief, but awesome stay in Chamonix with our good friend and legendary bad ass Liv Sansoz, we returned to Ceuse with just a couple days left and storms threatening. I managed another day of one-hangs on the incredible pitch, Lulu, but didn't quite make the send. We were rained out for the following day, and on our final day I found a crucial rest just before the finishing crux (which kind of explains why Lama could have possible called this beastly route 8c+). Literally climbing in a cloud, ran pouring on and off, I climbed the giant pitch only to fall with my hand wrapped around the finishing jug. I lowered off bloody and tired. There was no way I could have another go, plus we needed to start our journey towards Marseille and our imminent flight home. I was bummed for sure, to leave without one last win, especially being this confident that it would have gone down... but hey, that's life. I won't let a bad taste in the end ruin what was a killer trip. Plus I'm pretty dang sure I'll be back-- probably soon. 
View from Liv's place... ummm... SICK.
Dinner on the glacier courtesy of Arcteryx Europe.. you guys rock! 

Back in the states I've been catching up with all the usual domestic type things... getting my truck in order, getting gear together for the summer, organizing my schedule and putting in a few hours of training. I broke out of the heinous heat in the Front Range earlier this week and took a short trip over to the heinous heat on the western slope. It was rad to be back in Rifle again, but the heat was a bit overwhelming. I did a handful of new pitches, one I really liked was called 'Waiting for 21' 13c a cool alternate finish to a classic 13a, 'Beer Run'. One of the main goals for the quick visit was to re-approach my route 'Shadowboxing' and check out the breakage (a hold in the crux broke at the end of the season last year). I was stoked to find that as soon as I recalled my beta (quite tricky), the move felt only slightly harder-- so this mega pitch most definitely still goes and having done a pretty solid link through the broken section, I feel that it's only perhaps a sliver harder than before. Cardwell tried the route a little so I suspect a repeat will be in order soon... Stoked!

Right now, I'm enjoying a few weeks in the Boulder area, before I pack up and drive north to Wyoming and potentially Idaho for the month of July. There's some really cool potential in these parts and I'm ready with a surplus of hardware to get to it. In addition, two really cool events are on my horizon-- the International Climbers Festival in Lander is always a blast, and I'll be hanging out there on  behalf of Sportiva. Right around the same time I'll be premiering the incredible film that we made in the Verdon at the Squamish Mountain Festival, presented by Arc'Teryx. We'll be doing a showing around the Front Range later in the year for sure, so keep an eye out. 

The Verdon film... 'Bon Vivant' is coming to a screen near you! if you're in B.C. or the Front Range.. 

Lastly, Arc'Teryx just released the final video short from the filming that we did last summer and fall. This episode highlights some clips from the Vader Project in the Red that I battled with. You'll see some of the story pan out in the video but overall it was a good learning experience about new routes, difficulty and avoiding contrivance. I think it's rad that Arcteryx decided to make this footage into a piece. Failure is a massive part of our process as athletes and yet is rarely showcased or even talked about. Usually all you see are our wins, but behind every success there are countless 'failures,' and the more I grow up and the more I learn about climbing the more I can appreciate this fact. 

Can't wait to get back to the Red this fall and get after this rig, and a handful of burly routes that I bolted. Hope you enjoy the vid! and check out my video page if you missed the other 2 episodes from this series.

Thursday, June 7

Coraux de la Vie

When the weather has allowed me, I've been trying this stunning open project up the gut of the Berlin Wall. This incredible wall is home to some of the most sought after test-piece routes at Ceuse, and as I mentioned in the previous post, is likely one of the best sections of limestone anywhere. The open project was the last logical line up the wall, and as a Gap local (whose name I've unfortunately missed, although I'm searching for it) lowered off of neighboring 'Rat Man' 8a+ last year, he was certain there could be another route. 

At the end of last week, a few days of blistering sunshine was enough to finally dry out a crucial pocket in the bottom boulder problem, and I had my weather window… I could feel the pressure, it had been well over a week since I tried the route, but now it was bone dry-- another storm was brewing over the weekend, my trip is winding down, skin was wearing super thin and to boot, Adam Ondra shows up at the crag. I had to get at least one good go in before he onsight F.A.ed my project!!
bottom boulder problem... this is the frequently wet pocket.. 
First go I fell up high, at the route's red-point crux-- a very precarious stab to a one pad mono pinch, followed by (personal beta) a ridiculously high foot and a long rock-over lock-off to a two finger gaston. From here the remaining 20 meters of dead vertical heinousness just keeps coming. You don't find rest or easy terrain until the last bolt, and the runouts keep you on your toes. It's a killer headwall!

Next go I sent, brutalizing my skin the entire way, leaving blood stains behind. I knew this effort was going to cost me, but I was determined to finish off this wicked route. I feel super super fortunate to have the opportunity to be part of the Ceuse community and be the first to climb such a rad route at one of the Earth's best cliffs.... on that note-- 

New routes, open projects, F.A.s are kind of a different game here in France. Where most times at home my ascent feels like something that I own, here it feels more like my ascent is just my way of being a part of the community-- it's rad. Others had worked the route alongside me, like badasses Arnaud Petit, Michael Fuselier and a strong climber from Grenoble, Quentin. The bolter was more than stoked his route was getting action (he's a great guy), and had no reservations about us climbing on it. In the end, I climbed the route first, but it felt a little more like a group effort than a stand alone victory. There's a new, test-piece route, named 'Coraux de la Vie' at the Berlin for everyone to enjoy, stoked that I could be a part of it. As for the grade, I would say that it warrants 8c+. The route has a lot of hard climbing and essentially nowhere to hide. It feels a step ahead of the 8c's I've sampled at Ceuse, and I also recognize that this route suits my climbing preferences quite well. 

Now I've got less than a week left here in France. Over the weekend I started checking out a very cool climb on the Berlin, just a few routes down from 'Coraux de la Vie'. It was bolted by Dave Graham a while back, and eventually sent by David Lama in 2010. He suggested 8c+, but it seems like consensus has landed closer to 9a for this unrepeated monster of a route. I really, really like this climb-- it's extremely resistant, long, thrilling and beautiful. Yesterday I one hung the rig… really hopeful that the weather cooperates, and I can manage to get it done… fingers crossed! 

Now we're off to check out Chamonix and the Arc'ademy event for a couple days. Speaking of Arc'Teryx, they just released another short in their 'Chasing Jstar' series that I really liked. It features a very cool route in remote Utah called 'Moose Licks', the cliff has not had much media over the years but it's an incredible spot- reminds me a lot of a tiny little Ceuse actually! The route is brilliant, and I was very excited to do it, I'm glad the footage turned out so well.. check it out.