Friday, May 15

Le Cadre

A few weeks remaining in Europe. Here in Ceuse since early May. I'm planning my final days and even looking ahead to summer plans back in the US. Somehow Ceuse is even more spectacular than I remembered. Many good friends are around and the weather has been great. Climbers are a fun, insightful and diverse group of people. We all hike up the mountain every day and suffer / enjoy projects together. Many different languages at the cliff. Goat cheese. Sunsets. 

Mirage, 7c+ on the Cascade Sector. One of the best pitches at this (or any) grade in the world. Long, featured, incredible stone, beautiful position. A true masterpiece of a climb. I also climbed 'Face de Rat' 8a+ yesterday and was equally blown away. 

I've been battling with this route, 'Le Cadre Nouvelle' 9a since we arrived in Ceuse early in the month. It has a little taste of everything, some sections suited me really well and others were very demanding. A classic power move (just below the one pictured), kept me coming back again and again. I'm not a dynamic or snappy climber - it's one of my glaring weaknesses - but the move was a brilliant challenge. From hanging it became easy, from just a few moves in it often felt impossible. This kind of movement, so low percentage and unpredictable, can resist for weeks. The first time I stuck the move from the ground was on Wednesday and thankfully I punched it to the finish. With my timeline here winding down I felt quite nervous about this climb, especially the more I fell in love with it - the more I wanted it. I'm very excited to have done it, and furthermore to enjoy the last climbing days here. For me this was a hard one and a memorable one. I learned a lot from this route.

Life is great. Enjoy the weekend everyone!! Summer is here. 

Wednesday, May 6

Montserrat and somehow in South France

After 6 weeks in sleepy Cornudella myself and the team were ready for some city life. If Catalunya hadn't already won my heart, ten days between Barcelona and nearby Montserrat finished the process. Barcelona is without a doubt one of my favorite cities in the world. So many places to explore, so many beautiful areas, energetic people, an incredible night life, and all at a shockingly affordable price tag. An amazing crew of climbers and friends assembled for a long weekend between the city and the crags. It was very memorable.

Montserrat is an easy 40 minute drive from the heart of Barcelona. It's a gigantic conglomerate outcropping, speckled with domes and towers of varied rock. Inbetween the old school crags you'll find much older refuges, monasteries and hermit dwellings. Like a maze of rock and trails it's hard to find your way. I looked forward to spectacular landscape, like the pages of a Dr. Sues story, but I had no idea how incredible the climbing would be. It is truly one of the most underrated areas I've ever been to. 

My main stoke was to try 'El Prisonero', the route that broke Spain into the 8b+ range. A true classic, with sequential movement throughout on sloper conglomerate pockets and textured edges. A bold style - long powerful moves - and quite pumpy. Such a pleasure to do this climb. Afterwards, our tour guide Uri pointed out an unrepeated Ramon Julian rig that crosses over El Prisonero, only sharing 3 holds. The defining crux of this route is an explosive move off a horrendously small edge. Well.. after several heart breaking goes on it I broke the edge. Some new beta emerged for me using a even worse sloper, but I was too smoked to try anymore. We came back for more later in the week. I finished the route with my new beta which I was really stoked on. Not sure that this thing even has a name? Kind of a shame as I thought it was a super bad ass route. Ramon said 8c I would agree. 

Nat climbing on a sick 8a+ 'Anillo del Poder' at La Momia. This route and the neighboring 8b 'Julia' are both pumpy, long and unique. Go to Sant Benet and climb these. 

Next day out was a super fun one. We explored Agulla de Senglar. A beautiful wall covered in near perfect routes from 7b to 8b. 'Spirit Final' 8a+, 'Somni Diabolic' 8a, 'Ben Petat' 8a and 'Rush' 7c are some of my favorites I've done on this trip. A stunner of a wall. 

Silfides. All time. Bear Cam Photo. 

Lastly, Cameron, homboy Andre DeFelice and I got very lost looking for the Toxo del Clot del Tambor. An amazing, massive boulder nestled in the Castel zone. When we arrived we were all blown away by 'Silfides' this immaculate 8b on streaks - the line just jumps out to you. But first I was keen to try Ebola 8b+, a bold, traversing route through powerful pocket moves. So amazing. Such pure, bad ass climbing. 

Next up the three of us journeyed to Chamonix for some work with my newest sponsor - Epic TV. This place always shocks me with its beauty. Too bad the weather turned horrible, and actually changed the direction of my last month for this trip... Switzerland was looking grim but Southern France was prime... so here we are... in Ceuse. 

I'm settling into a hard route here and stoked to be back trying a super demanding rig. The views, the people, the vibe.. I'm remembering why I love this place. I had no intensions of ending up here this visit, but hey... I have no complaints. 


Sunday, May 3


I really did not at all intend to stir controversy with my previous post. I was speaking about my experience on Era Vella as though I was chatting with a friend - in retrospect maybe I should have more thoughtfully crafted the post. It's come to my attention now that I've upset some of the climbing community so I really want to make a few things clear.

I did not intend to suggest a downgrade to 8c for Era Vella and foremost I did not mean to take away from anyone of the previous repeater's accomplishments. I genuinely do not think that I am capable of climbing 9a so quickly, especially considering my performances on other routes at neighboring crags within the same few weeks that I did Era Vella. I barely pulled off 'Mr Cheki' 14a on my third try a week before. I invested five days of hard effort to do Chicane 14c during that same time. And just days after I did EV I suffered on 'Victims del Passat' 14c, not even getting close to a send after several days - a route that many people consider 'soft'. I was not writing about my experience on EV to make myself look or feel big. I was only commenting on how grades and styles can feel so different between different crags and climbers. Maybe the route suited me well, or maybe I got really lucky that day.. or maybe the route is light for the grade.

Some areas / routes tend to be more demanding than others, this is observed by all of my peers. If you have never climbed at an area or on route that felt easy or likewise very hard for you, given its associated grade, that's very unique!

To me, what's important about my post is not the details of how hard I felt the route was - and that is why I refrained from sharing the message above, which clearly was a mistake because it lead people to make judgements about what I was attempting to say. What I wanted to share was my excitement about having a memorable experience when I climb. I want to climb awesome routes, classic routes, beautiful routes, and also hard routes. Yes, grades matter because they help us find routes to challenge ourselves and also because they do represent a rough foundation for difficulty. When I claimed that I didn't care about grades what I should have said was - my principle interest is to have a memorable experience... and to be challenged, and to be forced to improve and grow because this is the experience that I value the most and grades certainly help me find this.

I rarely find myself in the forums or amidst controversy, and I much prefer to keep it that way. The only 'statements' I was attempting to make are the ones outlined above. I hope this clears up any confusion and again, I'm sorry that what I wrote disturbed so many people out there - that was definitely not my intend. Hope to see you guys at the crag!!