Saturday, October 7

Summer '

It's been a busy summer, a freaking rad summer, but damn I can't tell you how happy I am to say that it's over. As I'm sure most of you in the Northern Hemisphere would agree (especially in the American West) I am ready for the fall... ready for cold nights and down jackets and bringing thermos to the crag. I'm ready for a cool breeze and bright red leaves. It seems October is more or less the new September but whatever it is, I am stoked it's here and it seems it brought at least a little autumn with it.

I added a slew of photographs below to take you through my summer, with a little explanation here and there. I hope everyone is enjoying this change in weather, finally!

Ten Sleep: Shaina and I stopped through Ten Sleep for a few days on our way to the Lander ICF. Just enough time to belay my Dad on his hardest send to date, at age 67. I wrote about his climbing life and the experience of his send on the Arcteryx Blog here: 

It was incredible to be a part of this send, and to see him push his own limits, after over 40 years of climbing. Shaina totally fell in love with the climbing here as I expected she might. I'm sure we will be back over the years. It's grown immensely in popularity since I first visited in 2008, but for good reason. Reminds me so much of Siurana at times. It was great to revisit, even though I kind of got my ass kicked. 

After some Ten Sleep action we went up to join the ICF in Lander. This is one of my absolute favorite climbing events, and the longest running event of its kind in the US. I climbed BJ Tilden's epic link up on the Rodeo Wave called 'Mutation' 14d. This hybrid route (two ropes required and actually some brief bouldering in the middle) rides various cruxes for over 80 moves to make a seemingly enormous route out of the ultra short wall. It combines 'Genetic Drifter' 14c with the boulder problem 'Ground from Upside Down' V7 and then a nasty hard section of V8 to eventually finish with 'Single Cell' 13b. In some ways this route was conceived out of BJ's boredom but it was actually quite meaningful to me as I know it was to him. Lander and the Iris will always hold a special place in my heart, from my years of climbing and enjoying the area. I can't wait to go back.. there are still a couple random things I need to polish off! 

I found my summer home in Estes Park for a good chunk of August. The number of tourists has gotten somewhat out of hand over the last several summers but still the beauty of Chaos and the incredible quality of the problems there lures me in. My power was a little slow to come back but I did do a few hard ones like 'Memoirs of an Invisible Climber' V11/12, 'Steve Zissou' V11 (a horrendously hard one for a short climber I thought!), 'The Wheel Direct' V13/14, 'Daytripper' V13, 'Storm Shadow Sit' V12 and 'Whispers of Wisdom' V10 (for me this may have been the hardest of all) among others. It was kind of an ass kicking as Bouldering seems to be always for me, but I'm proud I finished a few things off and as always I absolutely loved my time in the alpine. I left a few things undone, but thankfully I am always looking for a great summer hang and Estes just keeps providing. I wrote about my experience out there and my recommendation to route climbers to switch it up and go bouldering on the La Sportiva Blog here:

I tried my luck on a mega project in the Fins, but the late summer heat was too much for me to handle. Tara Kehrzner was there shooting some video, and I did do all of the moves with some promising links, but this route is so incredibly hard that I really need everything to line up for me and I could tell that with temps in the upper 70s at the cliff it would not be this year. I moved on to Rifle to climb on bigger holds. I climbed 'Lungfish' 14b after several days of kind of intense effort. In total it was the most I've tried any route in Rifle, ever. Something about the slick rock, the nature of the climbing and the conditions (plus it's just hard as hell!) combined to put up quite the fight. It's always hard to release the ego in times like this but I feel so strongly that we have to follow through even if it hurts (inside). Clipping the chains was memorable, especially after I punted above the crux from a foot slip. I also did 'Skull Fuck' 13c after a pretty humbling fight. The most I have tried a 13c in recent memory. It's neighbor 'Cracked Open Sky' 13d felt wildly easier, as did several of the new ones like 'Never Enough' 14a and 'Uncertainty Principle' 14a. I got some much needed beta from my good friend Pawel on 'Gropius' 13d/14a for my hardest flash in Rifle, which I was particularly stoked on. I also climbing 'Colinator' 14a and 'Kuru' 14c among some others. It was rad to be back in the Canyon and with such a great crew. Thanks to Sam and Matt, Dan and Colette and everyone out there for such good time both climbing and otherwise. 

After a super fun weekend in Smith Rock for the AAC Craggin Classic, full of some soloing, some sport routes, a great clinic and some multi pitching with my good buddy Sam Elias, I was ready for the main objective. I planned to finally have a look at the Pop Tire Crag in Western Utah, just on the Border of Nevada. Silver Island, or Wendover Cave as it is also referred to, is an exceptional little zone. Far away from the world, on a remote island of rock in an otherwise desolate and flat landscape, just on the edge of the awe inspiring Bonneville Salt Flats. The camping and the hang there is as good (or perhaps better) that the actual climbing. 

I climbed a lot of great pitches out here. The climbed is mostly stamina based, and the routes are middle height for the most part, between 60 and 100 feet. I'm proud of my time and effort there. I did 'Apex Predator' 14c, 'Drakken' 14b, '40 feet of Grease' 14b and 'Sodom and Gomorrah' 14c all in two tries, although the bizarre and awesome King Line (S and G) was a absolute battle. Thankfully Alton Richardson got that somewhat hilarious fight, and some others, on video for an upcoming Maxim Ropes / Climbing Magazine release. I also did the one-mover 'Old Man High Pants' 14c and grabbed a last day flash on 'Terrordome' 14a which I had been saving. In the middle there I spent two days trying James' Litz 'Peruvian Necktie' 14d/15a. It did not entirely capture my stoke, with uncomfortable holds and awkward movement, but I must say a huge congrats to James on the send - it is certainly one of the hardest routes in the country. Maybe I will find the time to revisit it in the future, but for this first trip I was pretty fired up to sample and get pumped - the joy of exploring a good new-to-me cliff with this much difficulty is something that I rarely get to do in the US anymore. With a trip back to Catalunya on the horizon I saw this as an awesome opportunity to get prepared. I also climbed 'AWOL' 13c, 'Crosstown Traffic' 13c/d, 'Hey Joe' 13b and a few more onsight. In the end I think I at least touched nearly every square foot of climbing in the cave. My overall favorite was probably 'Smoother' 12c. I can't say enough about how rad it was to have Leif there to show me the place, and huge thanks to Alton also for hanging out and grabbing these rad shots. Apparently this cliff used to be popular but I barely saw anyone the whole time I was there. 

One last thing! I did a very lengthy and in-depth interview with Ignacio Sandoval Buron, on the WUGU climbing website:
 it is in Spanish but I think a translation site should do you the favor if needed. Big thank you to those guys and Ignacio, it was fun to dive in a little deeper than usual.