Saturday, June 15

Early Summer

This is Lander at its best. Warm days, cool nights, stunningly beautiful flowers, green earth and blue sky. A hint of snow still caps the Wind Rivers. Enormous hillsides are smothered in brilliant yellow, as purple and reds emerge. While the temperatures dip up and down nearly every crag is in season and the crowds are still quite mellow. Life is great, and there's a lot to be excited about. 

I've been switching my time between Wild Iris and Wolf Point - my two main objectives - as the temps move up and down. My Dad made the quick drive up from Boulder to spend a few days at the Point - we've been climbing partners for years but it had been a while since we got outside together so it was really nice to share a few belays with him and show off the new cliff. I finished an amazing new 5.13 at Wolf Point --- 30 meters, technical, powerful and varied. I'm calling it 'Snake Shot' and I'm super proud of how it turned out. I've got a couple other ones in the process. One is a huge pitch - nearing the 40 meter mark, that climbs a sustained and amazing section of solid 14a before a good rest and a really unique and bouldery finish around 100 feet up, on pockets and mega thin edges. I made some promising links yesterday!

Actually a shot from last year. After my clinic with the ICF, I jumped on the Drifter once to check it out... 
Over at the Iris I had been trying a mega rig that links the entire Rodeo Wave wall. Usually I'm not much for link-ups, but this is the line. It's one of my favorite routes in recent memory and a savage one as well. I'd wanted to try 'Genetic Drifter' .14c for many years, since I first did 'Rodeo Free Europe' (the beginning to Genetic) back in 2009, belayed by my Dad, it was one of my earlier 5.14s. Well unfortunately my Dad was not here to belay me this time, but I did take down the Drifter this last Wednesday! Such a killer route.... 

always windy... 

Thursday it was time to take my draws back to the Erratic and have a look at BJ Tilden's masterpiece - Moonshine 14d. Packing 9a into only 30 feet of climbing is not exactly my style, but it's a spectacular line and I figured it would be good for me to work on a weakness (this is essentially bouldering). I hung my draws on the route, and with BJ's guidance I sampled the movement - a lot of hard climbing condensed into a few bolts. I got away having done all the moves and linking some up, which was my primary objective. I'm super stoked to get back to it, but for now I've got projects out at Wolf Point crowning my priority list. Thankfully I've got until August out here! 

Speaking of which.... get STOKED for the International Climbers Festival, here in Lander, just a month away! I'll be there, teaching a clinic and hanging around with the LaSportiva crew. Get your tickets, make your plans, this event is rad!

Lastly, looks like I'll be checking out the OuterLocal Games in Jackson, Wy too.... see you there! 

Tuesday, June 4

Touch on Utah

My eyes crack open. Birds are chirping... the repetition of a sprinkler emerges... I can hear a powerful river meandering somewhere in the background. I sit up to discover manicured, vibrant green grass and towering cottonwoods, the sun cuts through wavering leaves and paints the landscape. Did I poach a golf course? Turns out this is, in-fact, still my truck that I'm sleeping in. It's not a country club bivy, it's the Lander City Park. Seriously this has got to be one of the nicest free bivy spots in the west. Not at all a bad place to wake up...

Last week I woke up in a much different spot. After spending a few days getting settled into the Lander scene, I busted ass south to Moab, Utah to hook up with the Smith Optics team and shoot some photos and video promoting the new ChromoPop lens. Smith is my most recent sponsor, and a brand that I've respected and supported for years - so it was really cool to meet some of the faces behind the shades (no pun intended, but sure, I'll take it). We got out climbing, running, exploring.. enjoying the incredible zone that is Moab. We spent a day and a half in Mill Creek - a truly amazing little crag that I hadn't visited for a few years. Paige Claassen is also a new Smith athlete and she was there working on 'The Bleeding' - getting agonizingly close again and again. I checked out some new-to-me routes at the Wicked Crag, flashing the awesome 'Scavenger' 12+, 'Crush the Skull' 13a and 'Jolly Roger' 13a. I pulled together an onsight of 'Mossy Direct' 13c as well as a few repeat laps on the bouldery 'Tiki Man' 13c and of course a barely accomplished repeat of 'Flaming Groovy' 12c (?) - certainly one of the hardest there. Skeptical? Try it, then we'll talk. I love this little crag. Wish there was miles of it....

Lisa Hathaway's photo of me on Mossy Direct
After polishing off 'Born to Run' on audiobook during my 8 hour return I drove straight to upper Sinks Canyon for a killer run. I'm really getting more and more stoked on this running thing. That book is motivating too! I climbed a day at the Killer Cave, revisiting a total nemesis of mine, 'Organic' 14b. This route bouted my efforts back in 2008? and then eventually injured me. It's really not that bad but I can't seem to make it happen! A powerful entrance leads to a super long, accurate dead point at the very end of my reach. I've fallen here countless times. It'll be a nice distraction when the weather allows for a Sinks session.

Speaking of Sinks, I had no idea how incredible the granite up high in the Canyon was. BJ and I took a day to try and finish off a striking arete he had checked out a few days back. Listed as the 'TS Arete Project' in the guidebook, this was the last route that Todd Skinner bolted before heading out to Yosemite Valley in the fall of 2006, shortly before his untimely demise. Todd has been an inspiration of mine for a very long time. A true pioneer during a time when climbing was emerging from the fringe and getting some of its first tastes of the mainstream. Todd traveled the globe, eager for adventure and thirsting for discovery. I've climbed Skinner routes in Wyoming, Yosemite, Hong Kong and China. He left an incredible legacy and its cool to experience even a tiny piece of his story -- BJ fired the first ascent of the 'TS Arete' and I followed right after. A stunner 5.13 arete on impeccable granite.

We decided to stick to the granite even though our mission was accomplished. I did the awesome, pumpy, 'Full Tilt' 13a and stuck the second ascent of BJ's sick technical masterpiece 'Bad Brains' 13+. We finished the day with 'Broken Heroes' 13a. A rad little tour of The Joint. Head up there soon to take advantage of the fresh chalk and brush work!

Back to Wolf Point over the last 2 days... bolting. Cleaning. Fighting off rattlers. Stoked.