Tuesday, February 25


Alright, I'm just going to get right into it. It's been a pretty rad week or so since I last updated. Several years back when I was passing through Smith Rock, climbing 'Just Do It', I met a dude named Brian Mosbaugh. While we were hiking back to the Monkey for the enormous routes he was hiking back there for the high-line potential. He's since moved to Moab and linked up with the Moab Monkeys and furthermore gotten into all the gnarly stuff they get into - BASE, etc.

Anyways, he and the Monkeys were here last week and they were cooking up some next level shit. I was lucky enough to tag along when Andy Lewis (better known as Sketchy Andy) made a world's first - thrilling BASE-Line traverse between two hot air balloons above 3,000 feet as Jona-Marie Price hung upside down from the neighboring balloon and then shortly after a gaggle of wingsuiters made a within-a-few-feet fly by. I really had no idea what I was getting into but it was a really unique and bad ass experience. I think this photo basically sums it up.

Andy is a rad guy. Surprisingly cool headed for how gnarly he gets, and a strong leader for such a stoked emerging community. I think for me the coolest part of the day was just feeling how stoked these people were and momentarily peering into their world. Cool stuff.

Anyways. After the adrenaline dissolved from my veins I was back on the program. Part of my aim right now is of course to climb routes and enjoy the sun, but I'm also trying to think ahead and keep my eyes on the prize. I started training in late November and despite all the temptation to get outside every day in beautiful weather I'm really trying to stick to my program and continue my efforts inside, in anticipation of an extended stay in France - I leave in just under 2 months.

I did manage to get a coupe days outside however. I went to check out the Black and Tan. A stout little (very little) crag in the Utah Hills. I had spent a brief afternoon there a few years back but was lacking motivation for the tiny crag. This time around I was stoked - thinking of the routes as simply boulders and psyched to change up the style a little bit. The rock here is nothing short of fantastic, and several routes are easily reminiscent of Verdon or Ceuse quality - just hundreds of feet shorter... The main goal was to do 'Breakin' The Law' 14b and 'Old World Lullaby' 14a/b. BTL is a very short power climb. With a difficult section exiting a dihedral and gaining a slab above it. It definitely boils down to an extended reach around a corner, difficult feet and then a strange press up off a poor right hand undercling crimp / pinch. It has become something of a test piece for the passing climbers, especially in the sense that it's very low commitment and also caters to the boulderer quite well. I did this one on the first day and saved OWL for day two. Old World is slightly longer, and the crux is primarily a powerful, crimpy leftward traverse. It's a perfect power endurance route, that climbs stunning rock. I really liked this one. After doing OWL, I finished the day with Sniffing Glue .13d and Talking Smack .13c, both of which were awesome although certainly quite easy for their respective grades.

Yesterday I went to check out another Utah Hills short climbing mecca - the Gorilla Cliffs. Here the main objective is to try and do Dave Grahams 'Psychedelic' 14+. It's essentially a really hard boulder problem at the 15 foot mark to a 13a finish. Not at all the type of route I would usually seek out. But this one is stunningly beautiful - near perfect rock - and I figured it would be a great trainer for me. After one try yesterday I'm pretty concerned that I might not fit the specifications well enough to send (too short for conventional beta), but I'm going to give it another try this week and see if I make any progress. I did the crag classics 'Nintendo' 13c and 'Gorilla' 13b instead, both outstanding, albeit very short lived.

Revisiting my ascent of 'The Sacred and Profane' a few weeks back... As I mentioned before I've spent most of the year so far climbing on my own projects, with little room for comparison to established grades. While I don't necessarily feel like Breakin The Law or Old World are gold standards for their grade (both probably in the very hard 14a realm I'd say), it was good perspective to climb on them. This experience, along with my good friend Seth (who has been trying S&P) recently trying the Cathedral test piece 'Golden' 14b and offering his insight, leads me to believe that The Sacred and Profane is probably better suited at .14c. So yeah... that's my official suggestion for now!

Okay lastly, here's some other rad stuff going on. My very good friend and current room-mate Neely Quinn sat down and did an interview with me for my 5 Questions Page, and she got into some details about her new endeavor - TrainingBeta.com - which is a rad new way to get specific training plans from a variety of kick ass climbing specific trainers, all in one place. Plus it's got podcasts, videos, and all that jazz so read Neely's interview and check out Training Beta!

And also... I'm doing a slide-show here in Las Vegas (technically in Blue Diamond) to help benefit the Las Vegas Climbers Liaison Council and if last year was any indication this should be a rad community night! Please come out and heckle me, donate some money, drink free beer and eat free pizza and hang with the crew. It'll be a blast!

Friday, February 14

Sacred and Profane

The variety of weather conditions out here in the winter still amazes me. Just last week we made the arduous hour hike to the Promised Land - filled with somewhat hopeless optimism - only to find that what we feared was true. It was freezing, pretty brutal actually. Then yesterday, only days later, without breeze and full on Nevada desert sun - it was gnarly hot - too hot to climb until quite late in the day. In contrast to most of the nation, the winter out in Vegas has been crazy warm. Warmest I've experienced in my four months here. It's been perfect for our most recent objectives though, and I'm pumped to say that those objectives are now mostly finished. 

Last week my good friend Seth Lytton opened up a sick addition to the crag - an extension to a rad, existing 13b called 'Day One'. From here the route follows a series of huge moves through mostly good grips. Underclings, some amazing tufa pinching and interesting movement get you to the summit on this power endurance masterpiece he called 'Crown of Thorns' 13d. 

Andy Mann photo of Seth on the take down. 'Crown of Thorns'
I also had some success up there. Yesterday I finished off the last remaining project at the crag. A proud line that takes the middle of the cave to the very top. This was a cool process in that myself, homeboy Joe Kinder and Seth all put in effort cleaning and sussing moves on this forgotten project - a cool group effort. The first half of the route is sustained tension climbing through edges and pinches to a breaking point half way with a not-so-awesome knee scum rest. To here the route is somewhere around .13d and then you fire into the crux (around v10/11 itself) on a line of arching pockets, finishing with an enormous move off a terrible undercling into beautiful rock. The last 2 bolts are mellow, fun climbing on near perfect stone to the tip-top. It's a rad route. I'm calling it 'The Sacred and Profane' and as for the grade I'm going to just suggest mid 5.14. All of the hard climbing that I've done so far this year has been on projects - without grades - and thus it's tricky to make suggestions without a recent confirmed route to use as a standard. I'll get back to this one after I wander into the Utah Hills and elsewhere over the next few weeks... but I suspect at the very least it is upper end 8c. 

Another Mann photo. This time Seth is working out beta for what yesterday became 'The Sacred and Profane'
I also spent a day at the crag last week shooting a short promo piece for my sponsor Smith Optics with 3 Strings Productions. This turned out to be a really cool piece, something very different and I think it really represents a new level of quality from 3 Strings and Andy Mann. Look forward to the release soon! 

okay... onward

Monday, February 3

spectrum and beyond

'Spectrum' 14c. This was an incredible project at a crag just outside of Las Vegas called the Promised Land. The day of I warmed up on the bottom as I had been on days before -- a unique slab on drippy, cake white and smooth limestone into a pumpy series of movement through better holds which lands you at the routes main rest just below the crux. Previously my best link was from the ground and falling off exiting the first major crux -- a very tension intensive sequence on bad edges and small tufa pinches (rad!), maybe in the V11 range. On my first try this day I fell here again, but made an inspiring link from below this crux to essentially the last hard move way up high. It was an exciting feeling but I was also thinking to myself that a redpoint could be still several days away. It felt hard. The last 4 bolts are power endurance crimping with a couple pockets thrown in. No rests up there. In-fact, there are barely clipping holds. The finish is certainly solid 13d and maybe even 14a in itself.

Seth Lytton Photos
I let myself rest and tried again. Getting through the crux I sucked air at this high elevation crag and prepared for the long, pumpy crimp finish. I let my skin have it, crying out as I grabbed holds and sacrificing my tips; lunging upward again and again. I was nearly off a few times, even in the easier terrain near the very top, but kept screaming as I narrowed in on a win. It was surprising, and also very fun. I love this feeling - trying at your limit, surprising yourself with each additional movement. Nearing victory, with every next move testing you. With a few more sessions I think I could have made the route feel easier - working out subtle beta and simply getting more fit and efficient for links - but I'm so glad that I had this experience of trying hard and pushing forward. I love this kind of thing. This feeling is largely what I climb for. Sure, numbers and styles and holds and all these things may get us stoked and motivate us, but this feeling - of pouring all your body's energy, your heart and your soul into a few moments - this is what projecting is all about for me. I will remember that feeling far more clearly than I will remember a crux hold or a certain difficulty or even a route's name.

Seth, narrowing in on another project..
Since this day I've been exploring a few other options and staying busy as the temperatures have plummeted around Vegas - we even saw some rain! Shooting some photos with my good friend Jorge Visser in Arrow Canyon, training indoors and shooting some catalogue stuff with Brian Goldstone of Arc'Teryx. Now the temps are starting to rise and we're going to head back to the Promised Land and give it a shot tomorrow.

I feel like I can't say enough how fortunate I feel for my life, for the support I receive from my sponsors and also of course from the community. Just wanted to take a quick moment and say thanks to everyone for all the continued support over the years - your stoke and enthusiasm for my passion and what I'm doing makes my life possible and for this I feel so, so grateful!

Lastly, mark your calendars and keep a look out on my events page for a Slide-Show in the Vegas area on March 12 and also for the upcoming Red Rock Rendezvous....