Sunday, July 28


Jackson --> Ten Sleep ... On the way we did a long day through Yellowstone, one of the world's most amazing, unique and bizarre places. Hope you enjoy a little photo dump from the day...


The primary goal for revisiting the Big Horns was to check out some areas above Ten Sleep-- Crazy Women, TWC and the Borderlands. With shockingly cool temps, staggering potential and a handful of rad crags and routes already established, I have a really good feeling about this zone. I might not have the time to invest up there this year, but I'll definitely be back.

I've gotten to climb on a handful of new and new-to-me routes out here which has been super fun. Day 1 we only had time for the canyon, but we joined some good friends at the Superratic, a classic Wyoming cliff with amazing routes. 'The Incredible Horse Cock' 13d and 'The Canadian Horse Cock' 13b were both good challenges. The Incredible is all about a hard, short boulder problem right near the bottom through poor holds and long moves. The Canadian is a wicked thin, edgy boulder problem to a shared finish. Not sure how I over looked these killer routes in the past. Day 2 we checked out the TWC wall and Borderlands - about 25 miles past the Mondo parking, and a super worthy zone on it's own, in an exceptional setting. I did Milky Williams cool, long and techy .13+ on the TWC called 'Mixed Message' and around the corner at the Borderlands I was keen to try 'Berserker' 14a, a Wilkinson route that Mikey opened last year. After checking out the neighboring 5.11 crack (12a?) I rapped down, hanging the draws on Berserker. Fighting a solid pump, I made it to the top first try. I'd love to claim a flash, but it's definitely murky waters - I saw the route up close, touched a few holds on my way down.. so whatever.. I did it first try and it was a good challenge. I finished the day on a nice, hard 13b to the right, 'Bone Shredder'. Day 3 we were at the amazing Slavery Wall back in the canyon. I had been kind of saving 'Gold Member' 13d for a first try attempt over the years, and although I was on my third day on, I knew this might be my only day at this wall for another year... so I went for it.. and it turned out well. I nailed the onsight on this truly incredible route - one of my favorites in Ten Sleep no doubt. I finished the day with the adjacent, and almost as cool 'Burden of Immortality' 13a. Good climbing all around.

We've got a couple more days here until we're off for Salt Lake City and the trade show. As always, I'm stoked to link up with good friends and connect with new people, not to mention be in a proper city again after 2 months in the wild! If you're at the show on Friday the 1st, swing by the Maxim Ropes booth around 2-3pm for a poster signing! or just to hang out...

Tuesday, July 23

the almighty

After wrapping up Moonshine, I was pretty stoked to move on -- with our work at Wolf Point pretty well sewn up, the temperatures on the rise, and my primary Iris goals finished. I absolutely loved my 7 weeks in Lander, but a few other things in Wyoming were calling my name. Getting to the know that place and spending time with some incredible characters was the highlight of my year thus far. I went back to the Iris for one more day-- I wanted to put in an effort on Moonshine's neighbor, 'Ghost Moon' 13d and also grab some quick b-roll footage for a short piece Mikey Williams is putting together for Deadpoint Mag.

wolf point..... until the fall my friend... 
Next stop was Jackson, Wyoming. A stark contrast to Lander as I spoke about in a previous post - it feels like quite the metropolis... My primary mission for revisiting Jackson was to check out this semi-legendary route in Teton Canyon that remained a burly open project for years until Driggs local and master bread maker Ty Mack finally put it to rest in mid October of 2011. Teton Canyon is essentially Ty's backyard - with the closest gym at an hour drive away, he frequently jets out from work and chucks mini trax laps on the stunning granite. Super humble Ty remains very much under the radar, but his ascent of 'The Almighty' deserves serious praise. On a short list of traditional routes this hard in the country, this is unquestionably one of the best quality.

fresh food from the garden... cool evenings... great people...  loving life in Jackson

Back in early June, my buddy and bad ass all arounder, Brendon O'Neil provoked me to consider this route tucked away in Teton Canyon when Lander got too hot. It stayed on my radar, but another good friend, Colby Frontiero (who'd put in effort on the route) warned me that Ty's beta would never work for me (Ty stands well above 6 foot). Regardless, I was intrigued and stoked to see if I couldn't find a way up it. Once I finally saw the route in person, I knew I needed to climb it. It's nothing short of stunning... I spent 3 days working out the route, rehearsing gear placements and wrapping my mind around how to redpoint this beast. Ty established the route with pre-placed gear through the bottom half and then finished on a logical and awesome, hard, bolted 13a called 'Super G' to the top. I was really ambitious to place all of my gear on lead, and thankfully my beta just barely allowed for safe(ish) placement on the go. 

sussing gear at the bottom of the crux - my rack for the route ended up as follows:: orange Metolius TCU, grey (00) Metolius Mastercam, blue Metolius Mastercam, small DMM(?) offset nut, Metolius #3 astronut, fixed nut, bolts... 
There are 2 main pieces that protect the longboulder problem on The Almighty -- the first one is a sinker offset nut, that requires perfect placement- which is a little tricky because it's completely blind. This nut literally keeps you off the deck if you fall from the middle of the crux, and although it is bomber, I rehearsed this placement tirelessly because you never actually see on the go if you've nailed the placement or not - it's all by feel. The climbing up to here is probably 11+ or so, but it quickly gains difficulty. A strange boulder problem and rock over move bring you to a stance above that nut. Above here it turns up even more. The crux for me is shoulder intensive and punchy with horrible feet. The next, extremely crucial piece is very stressful and hard to place. I hang off a 3 finger sloper in the crack and I used a tiny #3 Metolius Astronut which was absolutely perfect. Body tension and high feet bring you above this placement and to a fixed nut just before you join 'Super G' and start clipping bolts.

on TR
Yesterday I successfully top roped the route, faux-placing gear on the way. This was hugely inspiring for me, but I knew that on the sharp end it would be an entirely different animal.

Ty was keen to come out to the crag today, and it was awesome to have him there on the belay. I stacked a couple crash pads at the base, in the spirit of safety... When sport climbing I have essentially no fear - partly because of my experience but also because I feel that there's very little rational reasoning for being afraid. However, on hard trad leads, I, like most everyone, definitely fight with anxiety, fear and always try to remember to ask myself - is it worth it? Because here, to me, there is inherent danger that is unique to hard headpoints.... so the rationality part of it goes out the window. You're afraid because you actually are in danger. Skillfully limiting that danger is the best we can do I guess.

I warmed up with a lap on Super G, brushed the holds and reviewed my gear placements again quick as I lowered down the Almighty. I started off feeling strong, climbing well, nailing the first placement and firing into the mid-crux. When I stuck the hold for placing the #3 I felt pretty strong but for some reason I was slipping. With feet well above my last nut, and adrenaline racing I pealed off. Zooming to within a body length of the crash pads, I instantly celebrated the offset for keeping me on the rope and off the ground. Whoa. Okay so the good news was I can blow it from way up there and not die, the bad news was that now I had a kinda severe adrenaline hangover. I took my time cooling off as Emily and Ty lightened the mode with jokes and playful chatter.

My second go I started off well and found myself entering the mid-crux again, this time with fire in my eyes. I nailed the tenuous #3 placement and carried on towards the fixed wire. I let out a scream as I threw into the final finger lock, soon thereafter finding a nice rest and clipping a bolt. It was a relieving moment, but I knew I needed to keep it together. The boulder problem just below the chains was a formidable one. Here, Ty, does one go-go-gadget long arm crux move, where I do 9 moves to reach the same hold - smearing my feet and rocking over right and back left. It's a fun sequence but certainly was stressful on the go. I lurched for the last rail and clipped the anchor, elated.

This is one of my favorite ascents to date - I feel that it is my hardest trad lead and it was a really cool process to get there. Ty suggested .14a for The Almighty and I think personally I would suggest .14b for the short person method through the lower and upper cruxes. Because of size we really did climb the route entirely different. Ty's effort here is really sick, and I want to make a point to congratulate him again for his efforts opening The Almighty -- there really is nothing else like it!

Just to make sure this wall got maximum action, I did the awesome crimp route 'Freerider' 13a and Ty finished the day with a headpoint lead of 'Off With Your Hands' 13a. Wicked day in Teton Canyon!

Monday, July 15

the 'Shine

I've spent quite a bit of time in Lander, Wyoming over the years. During college I did frequent weekend trips from Boulder for a good pump in the Killer Cave and I've found myself enjoying the burly, bouldery style at the Wild Iris for many-a-July's. 'Rodeo Free Europe' and 'Busload of Faith' were two of my earliest 5.14s. Always celebrating at the Lander Bar, I remember eying the posters of Skinner and admiring the evidence of a long standing climbing community in this sleepy town.
In 2011 I presented as the keynote speaker for the Lander International Climbers Fest, and this year was my 4th straight year attending this incredible event. Every big climbing event has it's own flavor, but over the years I've especially enjoyed the ICF. The national (and international) climbing community converges on Lander for a long weekend. For a few days, climbing sticker clad Subaru's and Toyota's nearly rival the numbers of full sized trucks and dually's. The City Park is crankin', Wild Iris Mountain Sports is overflowing with eager climbers and the Lander Bar is packed.

Ethan Pringle on the first try take down of 'Young Girl' ...
I HEART JSTAR shirts at the Sportiva tent opening party... awesome. ©Sniezek

It's especially cool to see the town transform, now knowing what the scene is typically like here. It's quite a change from the pace of Lander on a random weekend in May for instance.... for about 72 hours  the climbing portion of this little Wyoming town is bustling... it's pretty rad. 

I taught a clinic on Friday, which turned out really well - with a good group of stoked individuals and very skilled climbers. We shared a few good laughs and hopefully they learned a few things! Thursday night was the opening party - hosted by LaSportiva and the Lander Bar, which is always a rad hang out. A slew of good people, contests, give aways and beer. Earlier in the night was the film fest, featuring Kyle Duba's awesome story telling in Wind & Rattlesnakes, about the history of climbing in Lander and the key characters involved. Friday was a day long trade fair, 307 Bouldering Dyno Comp and live music to end the night. Lastly, Saturday included the Wild Iris race, more clinics and the evening was the keynote speakers and afterparty at the LB. Needless to say, we all stayed very busy.

It was cool to see a number of good friends come up for the weekend. Tommy and his lovely wife Becca (and baby boy Fitz) were here, homeboy Ethan Pringle made it out, Audrey Sniezek, Nick Duttle, Emily Harrington, Cedar Wright and Nelissa, Jen Flemming and Nick, Asa, Kevin and Alli... the list goes on... it was a great crew.

Emily Troisi sending just before the festival ©jstar
Amongst the madness some climbing took place. My good friend Leif Gasch heroically took down Todd Skinner's incredible 'Strawberry Roan' 13d for it's long awaited first ascent on Saturday. We greeted him with cheers and beers at the Coalter Loft upon his arrival. This was a legendary route and a rad hail marry effort by Leif at the end of his trip. Stay tuned for some footage of his FA. Also the Horst Family made it, and both of the boys crushed as usual.

Aside from a few rad days at random crags like the Sweatlodge, North Country (don't miss 'One Eyed Fiona' 13b and if you're into roof climbs, 'The Last Frontiero' and 'Nothing but Sky' 13a are both worth doing) and even one last day at Wolf Point (BJ added an incredible 13c, 'Gangbusters' that is one of my favorites on the wall!), I've been steadily hiking around the backside of the Iris to the Erratic.

It's been something of a long process for me on BJ Tilden's testpiece, 'Moonshine' 14d. Over the course of 4 days (or 5?) I struggled to find the proper beta for my strengths and height. Although I could stick the crux throw a number of different ways, nothing was proving any level of consistency. It seems I was just barely too short (or too weak) to make anything really work. After doing a long, strenuous and consistent intro, this crux left hand move needs to feel very solid to even imagine success. Last week, on a mission with BJ, in perfect (miraculous) temps, I still couldn't find my method. I was definitely considering defeat. I had already spent a heartbreaking month+ failing this spring in Vegas and with such sketchy beta I could easily envision repeated falls without a send on this thing. Thankfully, with BJ's encouragement I left my draws up and tried again. A tiny foot emerged, and with a good body position I could seemingly stick the move. Then, in the next few days I started handily doing the move from the hang and one hanging the route on every burn. I knew it was just a matter of time, but I've learned over the years to never count your eggs before they hatch. I've been within inches of sending, and then gone home empty handed enough times now to know this. I figured I'd just keep trying until it happened.

photos courtesy Mike Anderson
In the end it was this rad community that got me through it. My homie Colby came through with the necessary moonshine, replenishing the resident jar that lives beneath the route, BJ was there to bless me with his belay, and a crowd of good friends - old and new - were at the crag to cheer me on. I'm glad that this tiny little sport route toyed with my emotions a little - I got a condensed version of what BJ experienced over the years - and it made topping out the Erratic that much sweeter. Thanks guys, yesterday was a kick ass day.

Saturday, July 6

Here's a quick photo dump (not mine) to give you guys a feel for the recent OuterLocal Summer Games in Jackson, Wyoming. As I mentioned in my last update, it's a killer event and one not to miss if you're around the area next year. Thanks again to La Sportiva, 307 Bouldering and OuterLocal for bringing me out! 

Tuesday, July 2

Heat is on

--- More work at Wolf Point. Unfortunately the summer has arrived and the remaining sending will have to wait until cooler temperatures later in the summer. Which is fine. It's nice to have laid the ground work - clean routes, beta sussed, draws hanging. There are plenty of projects to keep us stoked, we just need the highs to go back into the high 70s - or better yet high 60's - to not feel severely handicapped on these 40 meter monster rigs. We're heading back out tomorrow for one last day of effort and close it down for a couple months. It would have been awesome to get a couple more new routes opened but sometimes when you're in the zone it's a better use of your effort to keep bolting, cleaning and preparing. Last week I finally snapped and had enough rock dust in my eyes and ears and hair. I've had enough jugging and hooking and cleaning and brushing. But to show for it I've got a handful of new routes bolted and 3 killer projects waiting... should be a good late summer! 

In between I've been staying busy at the Wild Iris, and advancing my efforts on B.J.s incredible power route 'Moonshine' 14d. This is essentially the antithesis of my style - 9a difficulty and precision packed into basically 3 bolts. The whole thing is maybe 35 feet? With 2 bolts of fluff intro and a bolt of exit fluff. It's savage bouldering, pockets, power. It will be a great project for me I can tell. This is about as close to bouldering as my climbing gets so it's rad to be challenged in a different way. For me it's all about mastering the subtlety and making the movement as efficient as possible. Every go I'm getting the crux move more and more sussed but at my height and reach it's a bastard of a move. One that will be heinous to pull off after all the hard climbing below. Super motivating! 

 so hard for me!

Climbed at this rad little feature yesterday. My second day out at the Sweatlodge. I first checked out this gem back in 2001. Some really great routes here in an unlikely spot tucked away by the little Popo Agie. Yesterday I did 'White Devil' 13d and 'Ghost Dance' 13c, both powerful and rad. 
This last weekend I was off west in the comfort of Jackson, Wy. Such a dramatic change to Lander... Both certainly have their merits. Lander is quiet, it's easy to stay climbing focused, there's really one coffee spot, one breakfast spot, one dinner spot, one bar. Early bed times, long days, mellow - it's a very simple life here no doubt. Nobody gives a shit if there's a crew of deer alongside the highway. 

Jackson is tourist filled, overflowing with good food, events, people. Downright bustling for a mountain town. Dozens of T-shirt shops, big money homes. The sight of a chipmunk stops traffic for miles. Definitely a different scene. 

waking up in Jackson. 
I could go without all the tourism and thousands of Jackson Hole sweatshirts but the upside is that there's a big younger crowd, huge summer events, and tons of active, stoked people. I really enjoy Jackson, and if there was Lander quality climbing there I think I would have found a future home... But I wasn't there just for the glam, I was specifically there for the OuterLocal Summer games, which I can say is definitely one of the best events I've been to. One long day of action packed races and comps, all starting and ending at the same location. As one comp or race is ending another one is just about to begin. Great people and cool venue all in a rad town and to cap it off a huge outdoor concert to end it. I will definitely return to this event - make sure to remember it next year! 

Set some killer boulder problems with the 307 dudes for the climbing comp at the OuterLocal games. Good times for sure, despite staggering heat. Rad crew! Thanks fellas. 
We're all gearing up for the 4th of July and the upcoming Climbers Fest here in Lander... it's an exciting couple weeks. Who's gonna make it out???