Tuesday, April 26


It was not easy to leave Las Vegas.. I totally fell in love with the place - the community is welcoming, psyched and playful. The climbing in every direction is diverse, difficult and interesting. The lifestyle is fast and energetic and of course, the nightlife is unparalleled. Maybe it's the pace of life there, but I feel like I lived a lot of life in just two and a half months. I'll never forgot my time there, and I'll definitely be back.
The last week has been full throttle as I tried to wrap up my trip in Vegas alongside working long days for Eldorado Walls setting routes at a new Lifetime Fitness facility just a few miles from Red Rock Canyon. With the help of a rad Eldo Walls crew and some towering lifts, myself and fellow BRC route setter Brent (NG) set over 40 routes in a couple days on 35-50ft walls. It was intense labor but it provided a much needed money making opportunity and as always, I love setting routes and dig the reward of climbing your own creation.

I wish I'd had more time to climb but I was only able to manage two days out in the final week of my Vegas vacation. The first day Marisa and I checked out the burly and thrilling 'Rock Warrior' 5.10 R/X on the Black Velvet wall in Red Rock. I'm kind of into runouts, but after some difficult route finding on pitch one I found myself in the no-fall zone on some 5.11, dozens of feet above a lone bolt.. the route eased off (after we were actually on the route), but the mega run outs continued as we crept up this immaculate slab of sandstone. It was awesome!

I also got one last day out sport climbing, and it ended up being a repeat day at the Secret 13 wall due to time constraints. I fired repeats on 'Go 100' 13b, 'You Are What You Is' 13b, 'Where is My Mind' 13c and I also re-opened 'Yoshimi Battles' 13d: after sending the route earlier in the month, I went back to shoot photos with Andy Mann and unfortunately broke off the best and biggest hold right in the crux of the route. I didn't have time to try it again that day, but last week I made use of a rattly finger lock instead of the broken mini-jug and fired the repeat. Originally I thought it may make the route 5.14, but I think I'll stick with hard 13d. Regardless, it's free again, and rad!
Now I'm back in Boulder, enjoying the awesome food, access to these amazing mountains, friends and family that will always draw me back to this place. I'll be hanging around here for a month or so setting routes at the BRC and training before hitting the road again. My trip to Vegas was super inspirational in that it really helped me get a handle on what I want to do with my life and these opportunities that lay before me. I'm cooking up some big plans and preparing for some serious change... stay tuned.

Thursday, April 14

countdown to CO

With only a week left here in Sin City, it's hard to imagine packing in half of what I'm hopeful to get done. While firing off a few more quality climbs is high on that laundry list, so is saying goodbye to the brilliant nightlife and all of my newly made friends in the area. It's been a wicked trip - and one that I foresee myself repeating for years to come when the winters get harsh in Colorado. Next time I'll bring a drill....
Arrow Canyon - an amazing place..
The last week I had to fight some crappy weather that came with a major storm system. I took a little extra rest and even made my way into the gym for a session (first time grabbing plastic in a WHILE). I did, however, get to have a look at the incredible Arrow Canyon. A truly interesting place, packed with some high quality stone. You approach through a limestone slot canyon, with petroglyph inscribed, water polished stone walls towering hundreds of feet above you. You follow a series of bends to find a rad little cave, lined with nice long routes. Some of the more moderate climbs feature amazing quality of stone - like blasphemy wall but with more texture. The cave routes are on much worse stone, but still offer up a fun, steep challenge. I liked the thuggy 'Swamp Thing' 13c, 'Brown Sugar' 12d, the technical 'Heart of Glass' 13a and the super cool 'Tangled Up in Blue' 12a. It was a rad day, and nice to check out a new spot - I can imagine some seriously bad ass, hard, technical routes going up in this canyon..
Swamp Thing - Hayden Eatchel photo
Pawel on Tangled up in Blue
I made my way back to the Cathedral for a couple days as well, eager to check out some of the steep routes on the right side of the wailing wall and fire off a few classics I'd yet to have a go at. I managed the powerful 'Treebeard' 13c, but was uninspired by Joey's 'Unforgivable' 14 b/c and unfortunately Andy Raether's 'Slaughterhouse Five' 14 b/c is still pretty dang wet... hmm bummer. Instead, I made my way up the interesting and unique 'Half Baked Half Broken' 13d, and fired the bouldery and tricky 'Pucker' 13c. I finished the day checking out 'Sonic Boom' 13d, a monster line that goes out the Cathedral adjacent 'Golden'. I sussed my beta and ticked a few holds, eager to return the following day.
Melissa Kelly puts down her first 5.13.. 'Holbytla'
I warmed up and decided to jump on an alternative start to Sonic Boom - a bouldery and dynamic 13b called 'Latter Day Sinners'. After managing a flash, I decided to just continue into Sonic Boom (technically a link up called 'Trunk Monkey') and surprised myself by making the summit on this towering and super cool 14a. I finished the day flashing a seeping 'Space Shuttle to Kolob' 13a and a powerful, hard 13b on the right side called 'Indulgence'.
drinks at the Mandarin Bar.. Andy Mann image
No better way to cap a climbing day like this than to return to Vegas and hit the strip - we had a truly killer night and now, with under 3 hours of sleep behind me, I'm busy resting and getting psyched to check out a multi-pitch route deep in Red Rock Canyon tomorrow!

I've seen the final cut for a wicked video short that Andy Mann and I made about climbing at the VRG and my time here in Vegas.. It should be out soon.. stay tuned!!

My summer plans are solidifying, and I'm already getting excited about the next trip.. soon after I clock some hours route setting, training, hanging with family and relaxing in Boulder for a little while. Recognizing my desire for freedom, my taste for adventure and my future goals, I'm convinced that it's time for me to fully commit - and in such a spirit I'm planning on moving out of my place and into a truck.. no fixed address...hitting the road - FOREVER!

Thursday, April 7


I've been making my way up north frequently to continue my efforts at the Cathedral / Wailing Wall zone - a very cool hang above an inspiring landscape. My efforts have been focused on a Joe Kinder route he called 'Golden Direct' 14d.

Golden Direct takes the dramatic center line out of the Cathedral. It begins with a pleasant 11+ and a decent shake before firing immediately into a bouldery and run-out 13b, which meets with 'Golden' at a poor rest. From here the route enters a long power endurance section, highlighted by big, sequential moves and another thrilling run-out. This section finishes with a difficult seeping undercling clip and another poor rest. From here the rock quality improves to near perfection as you enter a stout boulder problem on tufas and bullet grey limestone featuring small pitches and pockets - ending with a desperate slap to a awkward ledge. Another crappy rest here before a final boulder problem finishing with an awesome and dramatic lunge for the summit of the cave. The route is truly incredible! It's exhausting to climb and brilliant to look at.

a mammoth of a pitch

My first couple days on Golden Direct were barely linking bolt to bolt - sussing beta but also enduring serious fatigue on this mega steep pitch. This past weekend, in crap conditions, I could barely grab draws as I crawled my way up the route to figure out the tricky finishing boulder problems. With zero expectation I surprised myself on Tuesday by falling off a tufa pinch move close to the end of the route, and finishing the day with a solid one hang. Yesterday I returned ambitious but again without expectation.. in some nearly perfect conditions I made my way to the finishing boulder problems, muscling my way through a dicey clip off a seeping undercling. With beta countlessly recited in my head I entered the crux prepared to use full effort and move after move later I was jumping for the lip of the cave and clipping chains.. pumped and psyched! The route took me 9 or 10 tries total. I finished the day with a flash on 'The Cross' 13c, a killer climb on the Wailing Wall.

My experience on this route could not differ more from my recent experience on 'Necessary Evil'. Necessary was a complete mind game for me that never felt remotely guaranteed. The fickle conditions, precise and subtle movement made redpointing mentally exhausting and at times super frustrating... eventually I had to abandon all expectation and accept the fact that I would (hopefully) send at some point so I just needed to keep trying until I did. As for Golden Direct, my success came before I ever had an opportunity to get stressed or anxious about it. It was more physically exhausting, but mentally it came as something of a gift... and I'll happily take it after how hard I worked to succeed at the VRG. It's a golden truth (no pun intended) that sometimes victory is almost handed to us, and other times we have battle for it... ahhhh don't you just LOVE rock climbing!? (seriously though, it's freaking awesome isn't it?!) I fought hard on my redpoint for this beast but I'd still have to say that in my limited experience, it definitely sits at the soft side of 9a. Huge thanks to Joey Kinder for all his hard work establishing routes out here. Much respect!! I'm SUPER excited about this send and stoked to make the best of my remaining time in Vegas!

Friday, April 1


Somebody once told me that this city was hot... and at 92 degrees on the first of April, I believe 'em. Luckily I'm on a rest day and comfortably leaning back in the far corner of the air conditioned Sahara West Library. I need a little break from the sun after an eventful week of climbing and exploring..

Before this intensive heat set in, I thankfully managed to get a little more low elevation climbing finished. End of last week I finally got a chance to get a taste of the Trophy Wall at Red Rock. In some unpleasant wind, we got out for a good day and I went home smiling after polishing off the wall. It features some area classics like the namesake and super steep 'Trophy' 5.12, the RRG reminiscent 'Pet Shop Boys' 12d, 'Twilight of a Champion' 13a and the wicked hard three move 'Shark Walk' 13a, among others. I also got to finish off the Secret 13 with 'Where is My Mind' 13c - this varied, bouldery and beautiful line takes the cake as my favorite route at Red Rock.

Joel Love enjoys a 'sandwich eating ledge' rest on Trophy

brilliant 12a on Trophy. MANN PHOTO

Rad climbing on Bill Ramsy's 'Where is My Mind' MANN PHOTO

Last weekend I finally got back to the VRG to revisit the incredible 'Horse Latitudes' 14a. This was the final route that I set out to climb at the VRG, and much like the rest of my experience climbing there, it was not easy. Sunday I put this Randy Leavitt test-piece to rest, and followed with the obscure, but awesome 'Deliverance' 13a and lapped 'Joe's Six Pack' 13a and 'F-Dude' 14a one more time for good measure... saying my goodbyes to the VRG.

Horse Latitudes. Awesome. MANN PHOTO

...Above all it was a challenge for me to climb there, and I felt like every route required effort, in a way that I hadn't encountered at any other cliff. Nothing was given to me: every flash or onsight attempt ended just feet from the anchors, every redpoint required more attempts than I would normally expect and nearly every climbing day was highlighted with some degree of frustration. I LOVE the VRG.. seriously... it's one of my favorite crags, and likely some of the best limestone in America - but I will always remember my time there as something of a struggle - something that every climber encounters from time to time. It's times like this that we grow as not only athletes, but as people. Stoked to be done!

This week I made my way to the Mesquite area, ambitious to get into some higher altitude and climb on new cliffs. I revisited the Cathedral / Wailing wall for the first time in 3 years - still taken aback by it's quality. I hung my draws on the massive 'Golden Direct' 14+ and started sussing beta and making some good links. The line takes the center of the Cathedral, and climbs through thuggy, powerful terrain for it's entirety. It'll be a good challenge for me and I'm psyched to get back! I've got my fingers crossed that a seeping key hold dries out soon...

the MAN. the RIG.

I was joined by fellow Arcteryx athlete and climbing legend Scott Milton for the last couple days to try and capture some video clips around the area. We made the mistake of trekking out to the magnificent Phalanx of Will in some heinous heat - it's not in the shade if you were wondering. I had always wanted to have a look at this unique and remote feature though, and I was stoked to get a few pitches in. Highlights were a stellar 5.11 crack on it's South-East face, and the thrilling 'Fossil of a Man' 13c arete. It's a really cool feature that's worth a day - but I would highly recommend going with a friend who knows the way.


We also had a look at the Blank Wall, or Sunset Alley - home to Joe Kinder's brand new 'Tiger Blood'. I enjoyed some long 5.12 warm ups, and thoroughly enjoyed onsighting the amazing 'Movin On Up' 5.13c - featuring a super bizarre overhanging chert ladder. I onsighted a rad 13b called 'Pig Face' on some rifle-esc white limestone, and finished the day epicing on a short and heinous little 13a.. name unknown? I also jumped on 'Tiger Blood' to get a taste. It begins with a tough little 12a, to a mega rest, and then fires abruptly into a savage boulder problem on gnarly little holds.. there is a shake in the middle, and the top exhibits more bullet rock and a few more burly moves. It'll be worth some effort if I have time to get back to it. Nice job Joey!!

Good luck to everyone in SCS Nationals today! I would not want to be competing with the women's field.. some crazy strong ladies are psyched and fit to dominate.