Sunday, August 28

Birthday in the Park

I always seem to end up hanging in Estes Park for my birthday - which is yet to let me down. Yesterday (my *gasp* 26th birthday) was a pretty kick ass day no doubt. After sharing breakfast with my family I hiked up to the Wizards Gate for a few laps at one of my favorite training crags - that night I shared beers with a bunch of friends and family, giving a slide-show just before an inspirational presentation by one of my foremost role models, Tommy Caldwell.
growing up in the mountains
Thanks to the Colorado Mountain School, and of course all of the event attendees and volunteers, the Rocky Mountain Rendezvous went of really well - people were psyched and the turn out was great. I showed slides from my beginnings as a climber, and highlighted a few of my breakthroughs over the years. Tommy presented a little bit of the same theme, finishing of course with his on going battle for the Dawn Wall on El Cap. It was an honor to present with Tommy, and it was an empowering process to look over my accomplishments throughout the years.
I rarely take the time to recognize and reflect on my success - always obsessing about the next goal - but when I do I mostly feel gratitude for all of my supportive family and peers, and these incredible places we get to climb. I'm proud of what I've accomplished, but listening to Tommy really helps me put my experience as a climber in perspective. I'm still very much a rookie, I have much room to grow and I have many more (hopefully) fruitful years as an athlete. Psyched for the next step... and the next step.... and the next step.... and so on.
Nick puts down Weeping Willow

Back when I was 25 (Friday), my buddy Nick Duttle convinced me to check out this cool sport route on the Hallet Boulder, and maybe even try some boulder problems as well. I happily agreed, making it my second day ever bouldering in the Park (RMNP). Despite a pretty rainy day, we managed to get some great climbing done. I did a nice little power endurance traverse 'Keepin it Rail' v11, a short and punchy 'Fireball' v10, and a really cool and long 'Weeping Willow' v10. I even brought my harness along and flashed 'The End of the Beginning' 5.13, a really steep, kick ass sport climb on the tall side of the Hallet Boulder. The day got me pretty fired up to do some more bouldering in the Park and elsewhere - I'm even toying with the idea of making a bouldering only trip in my future!
Now I'm off to the western slope, where I'll be spending most of the next month and a half hanging out, bolting new routes and trying some old ones. With September just days away, fall is right there... let's get psyched people!!!

Monday, August 15


Back in Boulder - back to hammering in the gym and busting ass on plastic to avoid the heat and start training for the much anticipated arrival of fall. It feels great to clean out the truck, catch my breath between traveling and spend time with friends and family. Life in Boulder will always be predictably great.... alluring, but not quite satisfying - at least for now. I'll never regret spending a handful of days here, but I remain content as a nomad for the time being. Psyched to head west!
checked out a very cool exhibit at Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art
I'm planning to spend a healthy chunk of time hanging around the western slope of Colorado until Kentucky comes into season. There are a few important routes out west I'm ambitious to check out and I've also been really looking forward to doing some route development in that area as well. I spent a few days last week bushwhacking and exploring a newer zone and even sunk a handful of bolts. The stone on the western slope is definitely a mixed bag, but huge amounts of potential exist. It'll be fun to further explore this area and many others in the coming months. Time to get myself some Sika and a machete!
new cliffs
I bought my Tacoma in late May and I've already clocked 10,000 miles on it... needless to say, I've been spending plenty of time behind the wheel and living out of the truck, which has been seriously empowering and shockingly comfortable. I hooked up with Vince Mazzuca over at Yakima during the OR show and he helped me realize one final frontier in the quest to make my rig livable... more space. This new rocketbox has already dramatically improved my quality of life in the truck - big thanks to Yakima!
I'm honored to be presenting a slide-show this upcoming Saturday, August 27th (my birthday!) along with fellow Sportiva athlete and legend Tommy Caldwell at this year's Rocky Mountain Rendezvous up in Estes Park. The event lasts all weekend (Aug 26-28) and features the Lumpy Ridge trail day, clinics, parties, climbing and slide-shows. It seems like the perfect setting for me to present slides and stories about my beginnings as a climber and my experience climbing and obsessing about Colorado - I'm super excited to be involved. Please come up, have a drink on us and enjoy some slides if you're in the area!

Lastly, I just added a short interview that I did with Salt Lake based photographer and rad dude Dan Morris - have a look here.
Dan Morris
Rush hour in Saigon - Dan Morris

Thursday, August 11


I've been in and out of Salt Lake enough in the recent years that it's starting to feel pretty dang familiar. I've got my own little favorite coffee shops, grocery stores and parks... hell, I could maybe even give the occasional (poor) directions. I've really come to enjoy a few days in Salt Lake here and there and this most recent visit was no exception.
In addition to having a productive and enjoyable time at OR, I also got to spend some time with my old Thailand crew. Josh Morris and his lovely wife Kat of Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventures made the trip over to the states for the show and as always, it was a pleasure to catch up. I also got the chance to sit down with his brother and a good friend of mine, Dan Morris and ask him a few questions about his lengthy career as a photographer - I'll be featuring this, and many more interviews with interesting and psyched individuals throughout my travels on my new Five Questions page - stay tuned!
Ladzinski knows what's up
Steady kickin' it at the Maxim booth
Marshal Balick raises some hell at the Industry Jam
As for the show itself, I stayed busy with friends across the industry and was very much impressed with all of the new gear for 2012. Arcteryx is re-releasing one of their staple alpine packs and one of my favorites, the No-Zone, along with a slew of new active wear, especially for women (check it out!). They are also releasing the world's first hybrid Pro-Shell / Pac-Lite Gore jackets, somehow, once again finding a way to dramatically improve an already stellar line of parkas. I'm SUPER excited about Maxim Rope's release of the incredible Airliner 9.1 - a new and improved version of the Apogee. I'll be writing up a thorough review on this cord soon - it's skinny, and shockingly burly. Metolius has redesigned their awesome Safe Tech Helmet, and have a couple rad new crash pads as well. Keep an eye out for their special run Access Fund chalk bags with very cool graphics. I'm still a huge fan of the simple, lightweight and sturdy Inferno Quickdraws, which are now shipping with rubber JIGS installed. Sportiva has seriously upped their game once again on the approach / running shoe front. The re-designed Exum will have a more aggressive toe box, combining the benefits of the Ganda with the versatility of the Exum (...the best approach shoe ever created). Their featherweight Vertical K running shoe will be an awesome summit/wall shoe as well... sick.

I tried to break up hours at the Show with a gym session here and there, but really I was just fiendin' to get back to the Hoop - an area just a few hours from Salt Lake that I had visited briefly with Andy Mann back in 09. This time around I went out with homeboys Leif Gasch, Scott Milton and Brian Goldstone, shooting some video for an Arc'teryx project set to release next spring.
It was fun to see their jaws drop when we looked up at this impressive cliff the first morning. I was eager to try this somewhat mystical route called 'Mousse Lick' that I'd eyed on my previous visit. It's hard to gather any info about this cliff at all, let alone specific info about this route - but from what I've pieced together this route (the direct version) and an alternative start were both F.A.ed by Chris Sharma a number of years back, and the direct version had since been potentially repeated by Eric Decaria and Tommy Caldwell (?). The route features very difficult, technical movement between sometimes downright horrible grips. It took some serious brain power, and skin, to simply piece the moves together on this beast. I made a great link on my third burn but was bouted by *slightly* warmer temps - this thing is seriously fickle. With bruised skin and not much time I was fearful that I might not clip chains on this awesome route... so I started planning my return, 'how can I convince Leif to come back next weekend...??'
'Mousse Lick' - Brian Goldstone / Arcteryx
I waited out for a breeze or a cloud, hoping that I could get one more good burn in (knowing that day three on this thing would likely be useless). Thankfully, my fourth try proved successful! I'm very excited about this pitch - it's savage, delicate and powerful all at once. I'll cast my vote as solid 14b for this rig (I think my buddy Ethan would agree). It was one of my favorite routes of the trip no doubt.
The following day we did a little more video stuff and I punched out a very exciting 13b called 'Out of the Blue', before I hit the road back towards Colorado. It was a ball to hang out with these guys and get some great climbing in. Props to hommie Leif for crushing 'Blue' 13a++ like a champion! Now I'm in Boulder briefly, to unwind before heading to the Western Slope of Colorado for a while. Life is good.

Thursday, August 4

Canadian Rock(ies)

Pack your life full of enough adventure and suddenly time seems to bend. Stick to a routine and you may experience months evaporating (I definitely have... school), but spend a month on the road and you'll be working hard to remember every detail. This is certainly, at least in part, reason why I'm so passionate about traveling; I feel as though I've lived a few years of life already in 2011.... and it's only August. It's dawning on me that making the decision to essentially live on the road may just be the best thing I've ever done for myself.
Bow Valley Panoramic
night sky above Canmore - a killer, albeit expensive, place to hang
Since leaving Vancouver Island six weeks ago, or.... wait, no, sorry, (..check the calendar..) 10 days ago, quite a bit of life passed. After cursing the B.C. rain and overcast on a daily basis, we suffered a sweltering, sunny repayment high on The Chief as we battled with the quintessential 'Grand Wall' 5.11. It was a absolutely brilliant climb, offering a little bit of everything from hard face climbing to dream-like dihedral lay backing. Parched from a day of direct and uninterrupted sun, we had one last pint at the Howe Sound Brewery before taking off for the Canadian Rockies the following day.
view from belly good ledge, off the Chief

After a pleasant drive, we were seriously impressed with the beauty of this range. The Bow Valley is nothing short of spectacular - with snow crested limestone peaks in every direction, crystal clear glacial water and amazing plant life. We tried to sample a little bit of everything, spending time at a number of cliffs including Planet X, Acephale and Lake Louise. We even geared up for 'Sisyphus Summits' a 10d, 21 pitch sport climb up Ha Ling Peak, but unfortunately we decided to bail after a very slow party ahead of us refused to let us pass... it was a pretty serious let-down. We were also rained out of Acephale on our first attempt, but regardless of some set backs we had a great time.
camping in the Rockies is seriously cruxy - the cheapest actual sites are $23/night so we moved between parking lots and side-o-the-road spots until locals hooked us up with this beta.... here is a morning photo from our site.
Planet X is this beautiful, huge limestone crag about 1.5 hour hike out ofCanmore. As I turned the corner and first laid eyes on the cliff, I immediately thought 'YES. This is the spot I've been waiting for', but soon after I was a bit let down by the climbing - the movement is mostly strange, making use of odd angular features. There is very little flow to the climbing there - you find yourself slow moving or standing, puzzled and uncomfortable quite a bit. However, I did enjoy a couple of the routes I did, like 'Kurrgo' 14a with a powerful compression crux, 'Shooting Packer' 13b a really nice combination that ends with awesome flow stone endurance section and the 5.11 warm up (name?) is great too. 'Sticky Buns' 13a had a great lower section and a pretty cool puzzling finish as well.

planet X
one of many (~20?) river crossings on the way to X
Acephale is a pretty grueling 1 hour hike through awesome forest, past a rad waterfall. This is commonly regarded as one of Canada's finest, and certainly burliest crags. After trying a few of the routes I can totally understand why - it's short and burl. My primary goal was Scott Milton's 1996 test-piece 'Existence Mundane' 14b, but unfortunately it's crux move depends almost solely on a left foot heel-toe that perfectly aggravated a knee injury I encountered back in April at the Cathedral that thankfully has not given me too much trouble so I was quick to move on. I put in some effort climbing on the beautiful right side of the wall, onsighting the excellent '39 Steps' 12d/13a before putting down the truly awesome 'Army Ants' 13c and sneaking away with a success on the bouldery, rad 'Unknown Stuntman' hard 13d with a killer no-hold slab finish move that punted me once. We only got to spend one day up there, but it'd be worth a trip back at some point.
Lake Louise
Scotty is making movies
We got to visit Lake Louise for an afternoon on our way out of town. As you've likely heard, the scenery here is fantastic - worth a visit in and of itself. The climbing is equally kick ass - quartzite bands with crimps and rails for days. Tall walls and killer views. We did a number of brilliant 5.11s, with 'Dew Line' 11c being absolutely 5 star mega classic. I did a great new route on the same wall called 'Tsar Bomba' 13+, a very cool edging route with great movement and cool holds before we jumped in the car for SLC.
life in a truck
Now I'm showered (finally) and full of delicious food sitting here in Salt Lake City. It feels great to be back in the States. I'll be attending the Summer OR Trade Show over the next few days before heading out to the Hoop to do some more filming with Arcteryx. We are putting together a short video series to be released sometime next year (it'll be a while so don't get too psyched yet), but it should be action packed and awesome. In the near future however, you can expect to see video of my route 'New World Order' by Andy Mann very soon - It'll be up here as soon as it's released.