Friday, April 19

All Around

Feel like I've been all over the place the last week or so. Back to the same crags, off to some new ones, projects, repeats.... I'm somewhat directionless because nothing is really luring me in. Which is at least partially informed by the narrowing timeline of my stay in Nevada. I've got about a week left, and in a very familiar fashion -- I'm ready to move on. The next stop, the next adventure... definitely looking ahead at this point.

Since writing last I spent a couple days climbing and hanging with my buddy Cody Roth of New Mexico. He's been keeping the scene alive down there and showing off some ridiculously cool crags! I'm stoked to check it out at some point. After the Rendezvous we got out to the VRG where I onsighted a rad little rig 'Mars' 13b and took down it's big brother 'Mars' 13 b/c first try. I chucked a lap on one of my favorite link ups on the Blasphemy too - I call it F-boy - basically you do the first 2 cruxes of 'F-Dude' 14a and finish on 'Dark Boy' 13b instead of 'Fall of Man' 13b. Locals only link up stuff here people.... ha!

Cody makes a cake. For real.
Speaking of link ups I did return to the Cathedral by popular demand... only to realize that I'm officially over it. Very sick crag, but no matter how sick an area is, sometimes you've had enough. I did 'Super Loaded' 13c, and checked out a new Perkins rig. A few things (what I've got left) remain wet there unfortunately. It's just too easy to find partners for this awesome crag!

On the new crag side of things, I made the 4 hour drive up north to Ely to examine first hand some of the hype. There really is tons of rock in the area, and I imagine that over the next decade or so people will get increasingly stoked on the zone. The Rose Cave area, including the Mondo Cave, is where I hung out. To be downright honest I was underwhelmed - but I also went there with pretty big expectations. There is some potential there, and the Mondo Cave is absolutely enormous, but for now I feel like my time and energy can be better spent elsewhere. The cave has great rock, but it also has a lot of poor rock - logistically it's a little strange. I try to remain somewhat selective with my new-routing,  mostly in the sense that I want to bolt routes that I feel pretty confident will be enjoyed for years to come. I want people to repeat and enjoy my hard work, and the quality of this specific area did not wow me enough to convince that many people will be driving out here anytime soon. Regardless, it's not to say that there isn't good climbing to be had there. And I did bolt a really rad .12c ish rig there to the right of the established .12d and .12b on the sector next to the actual Rose Cave. If you ever find yourself out there definitely do it! It's radical!


The last couple days I checked out an old project that I'd been thinking about since last year's stay in Vegas. It's at a really cool little limestone area above Red Rocks called 'The Promised Land'. The project is basically some fun 5.12 climbing to a beautiful and savage headwall for 30 feet of very bouldery, very hard climbing. Originally I got stoked because I did the majority of the moves and felt like it was possible, but after checking out the route again I'm afraid it's quite a bit harder than I first imagined - which of course is a good thing - but with the little time I have left here (and the encroaching heat), I feel it would be tough to envision finishing this rig, and equally tough to drag belayers up the 45 min slog approach day after day. Anyways, it's a brilliant project and I certainly have it on my short list for next year. I did get to flash the crag classic up there, 'Confrontation' 13b, which is worthy of the hike alone. There are a slew of other 5.13s and 5.12s that are rad too. Don't be afraid of the hike! (really not that bad)

Well, that's it for now. I definitely feel like this has been a rough 2013 for me so far. Been striking out quite frequently -- be it poor conditions, lack of partners, and just falling short of my own expectations in one way or another. I'm aware that things don't always go perfectly, but this has been a longer series of disappointments than perhaps I'm used to. Maybe it's a sign that my life is typically very good, or simply that there will always be ups and downs -- short and long ones. Regardless, I feel so fortunate that I have the mobility and opportunity to just... move on. There's much adventure ahead for me and I'm really looking forward to a long summer on the road. The year is hardly over and I remain very ambitious with the 8 months remaining. Wyoming is covered in snow but it's also calling my name!

Now for the truly interesting stuff: 
Viva La Vie is live - it's a shortened version - but it's still rad and it's free. See below!

Also I did an Enormocast (basically a rad podcast type series by Chris Kalous) and if you have an hour to kill and care to learn more about me, or just be entertained by Chris' humor -- check it out here

Monday, April 8

Rendezvous and Whatnot

April is upon us! Nuts how the year passes on. It was nice to have something of a routine here in Vegas for the winter, but now I'm getting eager to get back in the road and get moving. I learned a lot from my experience projecting this spring on a route which I've been referring to as 'La Lune' project, in Arrow Canyon. But in response to some not favorable conditions and in the end a failed effort, I'm very motivated to get some things done in my last few weeks here in the Las Vegas area and really get my 2013 started. In my experience it's really important to mix up the exhaustion, mentally taxing, filthy work of bolting / projecting with some good old fashion climbing for fun every now and then. I think that it's not only good for your climbing mentally and physically, but it's just downright important to clip chains every now and then.

That's my main focus for the meantime- clipping chains. Playing on some easier terrain, getting my stoke up and looking ahead to an action packed summer. At the same time, there's a few zones that demand at least a touch of attention, and it'll be cool to mix up my schedule with a little bolting and exploration.... all the Ely hype... it may just be true after all.... we'll see... life is good.

Mirsky and I representing the double send. Well done dude! 

After getting back from Ibex last week I turned right around and went into the hills - up to the Cathedral. It had been a while since I climbed in the cave there and I was stoked to check out a older rig called 'The Incredible Huck' 8c, which revolves around a pumpy intro to a couple great rests, and then a bouldery exit - long moves between pockets and mini-jugs high in the cave. Unfortunately a critical undercling pocket is still soaking, so it would have to wait. Instead I decided to link up the bottom of Huck with the impeccable finish on Golden. Joey did this connection last year, called 'Hucking for Gold' 8c. It does add a few tough moves between the routes but mainly it's a local's only link up. Regardless, it was good to revisit the crux on Golden and to get some fitness in. I put down a couple cool 13a's on the side as well, 'Free Bird' and 'Spring Loaded' both worth a run if you're out of classics. On a rushed day before heading to Vegas for the start of the Rendezvous I also managed to take down 'All Dressed Up With Nowhere to Go' 13d/14a (....) which required some creative thinking for sure. It's one of the more reachy climbs I've been on, but there is a method for shorter climbers that works, adding 6 moves - it's just quite a bit harder - bouldery and actually pretty cool! I'll take 14a, sure.

So then the Red Rock Rendezvous happened. It went super well. I had stoked groups, both fired up on climbing and the weather was great - which is huge considering the last few years at this event. My sponsors La Sportiva and Metolius were both there holding it down and with all the rad food, people, clinics and whatnot, I'd say it was a huge success for everyone involved. Not to mention that my homeboy Steve French aka Dirt Monkey put down an awesome set for the Saturday night dance party. Nice work everybody! Until next year...

saw 3 baby diamondbacks!

Tuesday, April 2


Last week I visited a crag that I'd not been to for many years. Seven years in-fact. My earlier trip there was one of my first climbing trips, period. It was really cool to revisit, and it gave me a fresh perspective on the place. 

Ibex. So rad. So remote, so unreal - the landscape, the rock, the setting. I remember it being a sweet place, but after this recent trip it's definitely galvanized a special place in my heart. Where else can you climb on killer sport or traditional routes, run up a rad multipitch, and boulder on some of the countries best problems, all in a day's work? (okay fine maybe Eldo? RMNP?) regardless, the landscape alone sets Ibex apart, and for that it's worth a visit. 

AAR goes up the steep grey rock the right side of this Buttress.
Sam and the Hippo dog
some gnarly v10 pitch problem! bouldering! 
Zeke is stoked
I was mostly keen to try Chris Lindner's 'All Around Routine', ever since Kemple's photo made the cover of climbing magazine, and Mike Call produced a cool short film about the ascent. First off, big props to these guys for their vision and hard work. I bolted a route while in Ibex and it's no question the hardest rock I've ever sunk metal into - which provides it's own set of difficulties. 

Ethan Pringle repeated the AAR a number of years back, and claimed it as one of the best 5.14s in the nation. If that's not enough to get you stoked, then, well, you're crazy. It has been in the back of my mind for many years - waiting for the opportunity to head out there and give it a try. The route is freaking sick. Amazing holds, rad position, pumpy, bouldery, with an incredible variety of climbing, all on BULLET stone. The finishing boulder problem is the majority of the difficulty, although the climbing leading up to it is not easy, and quite airy (read: run-out, exposed {awesome}). The boulder problem involves a huge move to a hand jam, a rad compression sequence, small pockets and a balancey, pumpy finish over the lip. On my second try I climbed into the boulder problem from the ground, and on my second day I one-hung the route. There were several places in the crux that were super reachy, but thankfully I was able to find some intermediates and alternate beta. On my third day I was looking forward to success, but bad skin / taped skin screwed me, and I failed twice in the compression section - my crux for sure. Damn! I really wanted this one, and although I let my skin heal as much as possible overnight, I was not sure if I would be able to take it down without more proper rest... 

The fourth morning it was warm, but the AAR never sees the sun, and the rock stays quite cool. I warmed up on the boulders and ran up the 5.10 approach pitches (AAR is a 2nd / 3rd pitch* see below for more on this). I made quick work of the intro climbing, moving through incredible sculpted holds with velcro like texture, to the not-as-rad-as-you-really-want knee bar rest below the business. I nailed the handjam, did my crazy tick-tack beta through the huge moves and found myself death gripping the final bulge (which I had stupidly only rehearsed once), thankfully pulling off the airy mantle top-out and clipping the chains. Hooray! Now, having done it, I can confidently say that it is in-fact one of the best 5.14s around, no doubt. In an effort to hopefully inspire more ascents, I added some much needed beta to mountain project - check it out if you ever plan to climb this rig. Much like Ethan's comments, I think this route is hard. I had to do some gnarly shit to get through the otherwise reachy crux moves, and for me it felt like very upper end 8c - but who knows, everyone is different. Regardless, it felt great to have success on such a rad and unique route.

Blue Flowers, super classic. v7/8
everybody bleeds
Aside from working this beast, my partner Sam and I got some other rad climbing in. I did a handful of killer sport pitches around the crag, bouldered some really cool boulders in the v6 - v11 range, bolted a cool new route and did a couple sweet multi-pitch rigs including the crag classic 'Nose Shadow' .12c III, which was super enjoyable - a must do! 

It was exactly what I needed - a trip out of the heat, a new place, new psych. At this point, the heat in the Vegas area is fully settling in, and any additional attempts on my Arrow project would be futile. Unfortunately, timing did not work out for me this go 'round. By the time I had sussed the route, made links and felt confident to send, the weather was already too hot. I had one excellent go, with killer conditions that should have been success (fell off the final hard move due to stupid mistake), but in hotter temps I couldn't make it happen. I just repeatedly thrashed my skin and wore out my stoke. I will have to return for this one, which is hard, but that's life. You win some, you loose some. Especially with new routes - we never know if they are even climbable - and sometimes it takes extra long to believe. By the time I believed it was too hot for me to put it down. Damn. Until next year I suppose... 

For the next little while, I've got my eyes on something else.... 

And I'm doing the event thing! Hope to see some of you guys at my Red Rock Rendezvous clinics this next weekend!