Friday, March 21

a show, a wall and whatnot

Last week for my slideshow in Vegas I presented something a little different than I usually do. Typically my slide-shows are trip focused, or just a slew of geographically focused climbing porn to get people stoked and show off some rad images. On a few occasions I have also done the 'here's how I got into the whole climbing thing' show, which I really like presenting. But after a conversation over drinks and a game a pool with my roommates here in Vegas a month back, they convinced me to try something a little more meaningful. At the time I was expressing to them my nervous / excited energy about my goals, and about preparing and also looking back at failures and successes. Maybe it was the hard cider but they thought that this could become an interesting topic for my upcoming presentation and after several hours of deliberation and collecting images, collecting my thoughts I came up with a slide-show about failure, accomplishment and ambition. I presented it to an awesome crowd last wednesday.

I'm really happy with the way that the show turned out and with the feedback I've received. We raised nearly $2,000 for the Las Vegas Climbers Liaison Council to help fund rebolting among other efforts. My sponsors came through in a great way as they always do. Maxim Ropes, Smith Optics, La Sportiva and Metolius all made sizable contributions to the event and the LVCLC had beer and pizza on the house. My always rad friends at the Access Fund helped promote the event and sent some give-aways as well. It was cool to raise money and try to inspire the community but the main win for me is just to see over a hundred climbers in one place - a rare occasion in Vegas - and share a beer with a passionate group. I wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone that attended and donated and heckled and everything. Thanks. Photos are here. 

Brilliant Andrew Burr photo of an effort I had with Tommy a few years back. 
Otherwise I've been training and climbing and preparing. I went back out to the Cathedral and finished up 'Slaughterhouse Five' 14b/c, I got back out to a rad little spot called the Grail (Lime Kiln) and started bolting an enormous pitch out there. I also got fired up on this incredible wall in Red Rocks - the route is called Crystal Dawn and it's a truly amazing free route on the Buffalo Wall. I tried the route one day a few years back with Tommy Caldwell and loved the experience. It had been in the back of my mind for the last couple years and I'm so happy that I revisited it. All three of the hardest pitches have super reachy sections so it ended up being actually something of a battle to figure out. I spent a day sussing on mini-trax and then came back yesterday with the help of my good friend Seth Lytton to finish the route up. On paper the route breaks down to pitches of 12a, 13a, 13c, 12c, 13a, 11 R, 11, 10 R but I would not hesitate to bump all 3 of the 5.13 pitches in difficulty for my size, most notably the crux, which felt like it could have been 14a honestly. I had such a rad day up there yesterday finally taking this thing down. Thanks so much to Seth for the support and also to homeboy Nik Berry for sharing beta and large cams and whatnot! - Nik did the route a few days back as well. I really love getting into long routes and walls from time to time... always such a cool change and just dealing with logistics and all day fatigue offers such a unique and interesting challenge.

Andrew Burr photo

Seth Lytton turns the corner on the first 5.13 pitch. Sick. 
what rope?

Alright, now I'm off to Ibex! See you in the west desert...

Monday, March 10

march so far

3 weeks left in Las Vegas. It's been an incredible winter for me out here. The weather has held up beautifully, I've had a plethora of psyched and awesome partners, and I nabbed a handful of incredible new and old routes. As you may have gleaned from this blog, I'm something of a list fanatic. I always make a list - of only in my head - before a long climbing trip or season. A few goals, ambitions and otherwise, to keep me stoked. It usually helps motivate me to set intentions or make plans for what's to come. It offers me training stoke and just inspires me to look ahead. Another interesting experience relating to said lists is that I get to reflect on my expectations for a trip as that event is winding down or after it's passed. It's rare - if ever - that I complete the list, but it's still fun to see how I anticipated the trip and how it actually happened.

Shooting Horse at the Black and Tan on a terribly windy day. Great route. James Lucas Photo 

It'll be a busy few weeks left here between my slide-show with LVCLC this wednesday, a few days in Utah's West Desert, a cool film piece that I'm doing for Outside TV and of course the Rendezvous - not to mention friends and maybe I'll even get one or two more things wiped off my list. Oh and then there's training. Got plenty going on.

Speaking of which..  The last few weeks have been busy and great. I revisited the Gorilla Cliffs to have another go at Dave Grahams bouldery test-piece 'Psychedelic'. My first try on it was after a hard training day so I wanted to give it a fresh effort. I did feel much stronger on the holds but I still had a really hard time finding the length (no feet high enough) I needed to properly reach the crux hold. I found an alternate sequence that could work, but by then my motivation was waining. Darn. However, just around the corner my spirits were lifted. 'The Present' 14a was exceptional! Super fun to finally do such a classic route. I finished the day on 'The Realm' AKA 'Connect the F*cking Dots' 13c to the right of the Present.

The short and powerful - and amazing - Present. Misty Murphy Photo

Next up was to check out a crag that I'd heard a lot about over the years but never quite made it out to. The Grail - in Lime Kiln Canyon - is a massive limestone wall just a short drive outside of Mesquite, NV. It's always been really hard to find accurate info about this zone but I pieced together what I could and despite some confusion finding the place and the exact routes I had a killer day. The hang is amazing, the stone is unbelievably high quality and the density of routes is great. The main objective was a Todd Perkins classic, 'Magnum Opus' 14a, that is tall and wicked thin through edges, tough footwork and a few very small pockets. Can't really compare the difficulty to a 14a at the neighboring VRG, so maybe 13+ would be more accurate. Next I did an amazing and quite hard 13b called 'Horse Platitudes' with a rowdy thin finish and lastly, 'Homofaber' 12d/13a was nothing short of amazing. The 12's we did there we incredible as well. Cool crag. Highly recommended if you don't mind climbing on your feet and grabbing bad holds.

The Grail. Much bigger than it looks. The blue rock on the left side is featured and incredible. 
Last week I journeyed back to The Cathedral in the Utah Hills to see if a couple of notoriously wet routes had finally dried out. Even after a pretty intense rain storm the previous weekend I was pleased to find them both dry. On day one I took down the massive cave route 'The Incredible Huck' 14b, featuring a powerful and tensiony finish. Day two I tried my luck at Andy Raether's 'Slaughterhouse 5' 14b/c, essentially a tough bouldery ending to the classic 'Treebeard' 13c. It took me a little while to suss out beta for this powerful route and unfortunately by the time I had it figured out I was quite pooped. Not sure how awesome my beta is but man, there's a few super hard moves up there! Something to get back to.

Hope to see some of you at my slide-show this week! Cheers.