Thursday, April 3

leaving las vegas

Last couple weeks were pretty burly. After success on the Buffalo Wall, I remained pretty fired up for a while. It reminded me of my experience in years past - the bigger the objective, the longer the red point buzz lasts. Walls are so cool because they force you to adopt a strategy for not only climbing so many pitches in a day and avoiding fatigue but also for things like gear, water, approaching and descending. I think in part it's this extra stress that makes an accomplishment more rewarding.

A throw back from the first time I tried Crystal Dawn, a day with Tommy a few years back - Andrew Burr photo of the crux pitch. 
My legs were blown out from the long day but I had plenty left for climbing so I spent the next 2 days training hard - which was likely a mistake in retrospect. Sunday I followed my good friends Seth and Neely up to the Promised Land to finally get a chance at Seth's rad new route, 'Crown of Thorns' 13d. It's seriously an amazing pitch - certainly one of the best of its grade in the Vegas area.

Seth on his route, 'Crown of Thorns'
Monday and Tuesday I was back to Lime Kiln Canyon outside of Mesquite. I hooked up with a good friend and talented photographer / videographer Celin Serbo and worked with him and Dan Gambino, alongside a hovering drone to put together a short piece for Outside TV. I'll let you know when more details emerge. They got clips of me bolting what would become a stunning pitch - a 165 foot mega route that I called 'Voyager One' 13a/b.

On day one, Seth and I climbed the hyper-classic 2 pitch 'Vesper' 5.12 and as we were lowering off I spotted a line of barely there rounded pockets and Verdon-esque edges on the clean wall below. It's moments like this that we route developers straight freak out. We were all set to wrap the day and jet as the sun was low in the sky, but suddenly my mission was to get a static line back up there. I was so shocked by its exceptional quality and the fact that it had not yet been bolted that I seriously think some part of me was worried that someone would come and bolt it that night in the dark. How could people have missed this!?

Seth ran back up Vesper and hung a line for the next day. Tuesday we went out and finished up shooting and afterward I hurriedly jumared up the line and sunk the metal, easily cleaning the entire route with just a brush in under an hour. In a state of extreme fatigue from 6 days on, I threw myself at this beautiful route. It gradually gets thinner and harder as you approach the shared finish with Vesper - and on my first two tries I couldn't quite keep it together til the end. Thin, sloppy and slippery pockets pepper the otherwise blank face. Absolutely bullet stone. I puled the rope knowing that I probably hard energy for just one last try (not that I had energy for the first try) and that with just 5 busy more days left in Vegas I may not get back here.

Keith Ladzinski shot of Whitney Boland crushing 'Vesper' - my route 'Air France' ascends the dotted line below here to share the same finish. 
Somehow I put it together and 'Air France' 14a was born. It's truly one of the highest quality pieces of stone I've ever touched and certainly ever put bolted in. So excited to get it done!

The rest of the week I trained and packed up before doing 2 full days of clinics at the Annual Red Rock Rendezvous, which went very well as usual. I had stoked people in my clinics and despite some other-than-ideal weather we got a bunch of climbing in. Big thanks to Metolius for bringing me out there!

The morning after the event I hit the road. With Vegas once again in my rearview, I was especially saddened to be saying goodbye. It was a particularly great year for me, no doubt thanks to my training efforts beginning in November and also thanks to a great crew of motivated people out there. Every year I return to the desert I find a hundred new rad things to sink my teeth into and I love the place that much more. I'll sincerely miss you Las Vegas! Until next time.

One quick note. If you're in the market for a training resource - this is the single best book out there, and it's just about to be available. Mark and Mike have their science and methods nailed down - and both have seen the process work very well for them. Have a look here.