Tuesday, September 18

Algorithm Video

Boom. Here it is. Just a little over a week after the send, 3 Strings Media crushes it and releases another rad video - this time of my effort on Algorithm. I want to take a moment to also mention how rad it is that 4 of the awesome companies that I work with have pitched in to support this release. This kind of support is what makes free, professional quality and inspirational content such as this video, happen. So... special thank you first and foremost to Maxim Ropes and Smith Optics, Climb On! and Arc'Teryx. Thanks so much everybody!

And one more time... thanks to everyone for all of the hospitality and kindness out in Idaho.

Hope you enjoy the film... cheers!

Monday, September 17

Enter the Dragon

Wrapping things up in Idaho... it was an incredible trip, and this area ended up producing a handful of amazing new lines for me to explore. Like I've mentioned before, I'll be sure to be back next year. Between the Fins, Chuck Odette's efforts at the Coliseum near Twin Falls and all the little areas in-between, I'm guessing that Southern Idaho has finally found its place on the map as a route climbing destination. 

Not that I wasn't stoked to send Algorithm last weekend, but I only briefly celebrated - I had two remaining projects that I was very eager to complete and only a couple more climbing days to get them done. The first to go was a really cool 13+ rig on the massive Discovery Wall, that I finished bolting and then climbed on Tuesday. It turned out to be a really cool route, with an engaging boulder problem at mid-height and another one guarding the chains. I named it 'Fallout' - in that it sits directly next to EBR-1. I settled on 13c for the grade... climb it!
The last route standing in my way was a particularly intimidating, and incredible one. I alluded to this huge, impressive limestone crack in a post a few weeks back. I added 4 bolts to protect a lower section of face climbing, and then from here this beautiful crack system stretches its way to the very top of the Solstice Wall. I had rehearsed the route a handful of times on mini-trax over the course of my stay - sussing beta, figuring out gear and also cleaning the route where needed. I was actually super nervous on Wednesday morning - I needed to leave for Boulder no later than Friday, and despite my efforts I could not find a partner for Thursday... so this would have to be the day.

As it usually tends to happen, all of my stress, desire, anxiety about sending lifted the moment I started climbing. It was just me and the crack now, but although I had rehearsed the crack on mini-trax, I had yet to link the whole pitch. In the beginning, I figured that the route could be as easy as 13b or c. But after a few trax sessions on it, I realized that this grade would likely describe the cruxes, but not the whole package. Unlike many of the nation's hard, modern traditional pitches, this was not 5.12 to v-hard. This thing was on it from the get-go, with one good rest over the course of ~120 ft and the two obvious v7ish cruxes up high on the rig. It's simply brilliant. 

©Ian Cavanaugh
©Ian Cavanaugh
©Ian Cavanaugh

Thankfully, I sent. Pumped as I clipped the anchor after what seemed like a mile of impeccable limestone crack and face climbing. It's truly one of the most unique climbs I've ever done, and my hardest single pitch trad route at 14a. I'm calling it 'Enter the Dragon', inspired by one of my favorite quotes from the man Bruce Lee - 'The consciousness of self is the greatest hindrance to the proper execution of all physical action'.  The gear on this route is generally good, with a few imagination placements that might hold body weight... not worthy of an R rating, but not straight forward plugging. My buddy Ian Cavanaugh was there, hanging on a rope to capture some rad shots of the F.A.

one last morning at the Fins... 
Perhaps it could seem like I always leave with straight wins, and I'm always sending. But in reality, it's rare that I leave an area or finish a trip having done everything I wanted to or tried to do. In that, this recent trip to Idaho was a real success for me. There are plenty of lines left I'd love to bolt, but I left having done everything I equipped and sought out to do. I'm super, super pleased. Thanks again Idaho, you rock.

And that pretty much wrapped it up. I left the next morning, getting back to Boulder just in time for my good friends Chris Weidner and Heather Robinson to get married. It was a killer wedding and a super fun night, thanks and congrats guys!

Thursday, September 13

Teaser vid...

...just got back to Colorado minutes ago and I had to post this - I also watched the rough cut of the full version, and I'm really excited about it, 3 Strings Media has no doubt done it again! Full video should release sometime early next week! Check out the teaser in the meantime:

Tuesday, September 11

the rhythm

After 3 weeks of bolting, exploring, cleaning, sussing and climbing at the Fins, I'm thankfully beginning to wrap things up as the end of this trip is just around the corner. I didn't at all plan to be here for this long, but I was quickly sucked in. This past weekend was a great culmination to a few weeks here in Idaho-- and a significant couple of days for the Fins.

The vast majority of my time at this cliff has been in pretty extreme solitude, or with a few friends. I was in awe to see a legitimate 'crowd' at the cliffs on Saturday and Sunday. In a way it was really cool. It's hard not to have a good time out here - the sparse landscape, the incredible routes, brilliant sunsets - and this weekend we all shared it. 

Pawel nabbing the second ascent of my route, 'Make it a Double' 13a 
I came into Saturday with a day of rest behind me, but my skin was still struggling. The Fins, and this rig specifically, have been taking a heinous beating on my tips. 3 Strings Media - my good buddies Andy Mann and Keith Ladzinski - showed up after a long drive on Friday, ready to capture some sports action knowing that this could be the weekend I sent. Earlier last week I put down one of my projects-- an amazing, technical and thrilling route I called, 'The Catalyst' ... it's the first 5.14 for the Fins. Long time coming. I suggested 14b for this wicked climb, and shortly after I made a breakthrough one-hang on the mega-route next door.

The Catalyst - and myself, pretty stoked after the send... 

With less than a week remaining, I was gung ho on the mega route, my main objective. The climb begins with a pumpy and cool 13a called 'Son of Discovery', before breaking dramatically right as the grips gradually decline to a sequential, powerful and very low percentage mid-height crux. One specific move in this crux thwarted me repeatedly. Pure difficulty was certainly an issue, but mainly it is characterized by an off balance, super accurate and long move. At best I was doing this move 1 of every 3 or 4 times from the hang. Linking it from the ground was going to be a heinous task. A few hard exit moves take you into easier terrain and the main rest. Above the rest, an ultra thin, beautiful headwall, 60 feet or more in length remains. The meat of this section is 2 well spaced bolts long, and requires finger strength, creative thinking and a surprising amount of power. The final bolt is crimpy 12+/13- terrain to the top... pulling up over 40 meters of rope to clip.

The crag felt very crowded on Saturday - especially after being out there so many days alone. Usually I'm not too stoked on crowds when I'm climbing, plus Andy and Keith were in position, dangling above me shooting video. Add to that my dwindling time - I felt pressure. I had climbed through the bottom so many times that by now it was essentially auto-pilot. I woke up when I surprisingly stuck the low crux... suddenly... 'Andy, Keith - dudes, get the f*ck out of my way!' I had no intentions of sticking this move, but now it was on. I knew that this had to be the send. I needed to do it - the bottom was so unpredictable for me that I honestly wasn't sure that I'd ever get through it. 

I had one-hung to the top before from the low crux but it wasn't easy, in-fact it was gnarly. I rested well at the mid-way point and launched into the upper crux with fire in my eyes. I could not fall. I think by the end I was screaming at every move - more nervous than tired - but definitely tired. I clipped the chains with swollen forearms and bleeding tips. 'Algorithm' 14d was born. Idaho's hardest pitch, and one of the proudest F.A.s of my career. Stoked... super stoked!!

It's really important to me that I mention how hospitable Idaho has been to me. Big thanks to all the developers and climbers in the area, who were stoked to show me around and support my vision. It's not always the case that locals want to share such a cool, low-key crag as bad ass as the Fins. I predict that this amazing area will continue to grow over the years, and if you do travel here please respect the place and show love to the locals as they have to me.

Keep your eyes open for a 3 Strings Media short film featuring the Fins and my send on Algorithm proudly released in the coming few weeks by my rope sponsor - Maxim Ropes !!!!

Now I'm off.. I've got 2 more incredible projects to try and wrap up in the next few days... wish me luck!