Saturday, December 19, 2009

Here's a few more photos of our last couple of days in Red Rocks. The shitty weather cleared out and we had two stunner days of climbing. Lindsay sent her proj. Beyond Reason .13b with style and ease (note her "casual" face below) and we climbed until our fingers bled. Enjoy...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Vegas Baby Yeah!

With winter setting in and the snow piling up on our back deck, we’ve been getting a little antsy to go climbing outside. For almost the last month we’ve been hitting the gym hard, training at the Front to work the raw power, and making regular trips down to Momentum to tie in and get pumped on the lead walls. Between the two facilities it’s quite possible to stay in pretty decent shape. However, it’s still not climbing outside! We’ve been checking the forecast for every climbing destination south of us, all the way down to Hueco. The massive storm that has come through though has deposited cold temps and some precip in every single climbing area across the southwest. Negative.

After short deliberation we came to the conclusion to head south to Las Vegas and the sunny confines of Red Rocks. Lin made a couple of phone calls and was reassured that if the forecast is 45 and rainy in Vegas, it was sunny and warm at a few walls in the park. That was all it took. We called ahead to Bonnie Springs (bring yer six shooters!) and loaded the car up with, well, basically every single thing we own... including the cats. Chevy Chase and the National Lampoon crew has nothing on THIS family vacation.

We had dry roads all the way so we made great time. Naturally, when we hit the VRG I was driving and rubber necking trying to check out the Blasphemy Wall. I felt like a dip shit since it was seven o’clock and blacker than the inside of a cow and obviously couldn’t see a damn thing, but Deadbolts “You Don’t Scare Me” was cranked on the iPod and the psych was high. After a quick stop in Vegas for some staples, we cruised through the Nevadan desert with wild donkey signs and soldier-like Joshua trees splattering the shoulders of the wandering high way. Our digs here in Bonnie Springs are pretty swank by climbers standards. We’re rocking two tele’s, a little kitchenette and a California King bed, not bad. It DID however suck when we got all the food inside and started to cook dinner when we realized that this is the one establishment that comes complete with a kitchenette but no dishes or utensils... shit!

I took one for the team and drove the 30 minutes back to town and purchased a sweet new set of Martha Stewart dishes from Albertsons... at least we have a preferred card.

Thursdsay morning we woke up to clear blue skies and lots of sun! We scarfed down some powdered doughnuts and a bowl of Cheerios and headed for the park. We opted to climb at the sun baked Stratocaster wall, a bit of a hike but not too bad. The dogs did great considering over half of the 30 minute approach is on sandstone slabs. They clawed and pawed and peddled their way up behind us, only requiring a boost once. We pulled up onto the large terrace that makes up the base of the wall and a curious head popped up over a bush in front of us. “Holy shit” I said, “that’s a fricken whippet!” As we walked around the corner to our surprise our friends from SLC Trent and Dawn were climbing there with their 11 month old whippet Epic. The boys were psyched!

The dogs got down to some serious rough housing and we set to sampling the fantastic red and black patina sandstone routes. The warm ups were terrific; one, a pumpy short route with big open handed sloping jugs, and the other, a longer technical crimp fest on a vertical wall of blackened edges. Neither of us has had much experience climbing on this type of sandstone and it definitely took some getting used to. Some holds are terrible hollow sounding (one rib of rock the size of a coffee table I could see daylight behind) but surprisingly strong. As I was gingerly pulling on the seemingly fragile holds, I voiced my concern for the friable holds and Trent reassured me that if his 200 pound frame could tug on them, so could my 185 pound carcass. I was comforted for about ten seconds and then I realized he probably just primed them all and the whole wall was ready to fall over on me... I began thinking very light thoughts, feathers... helium... feathers... helium...

After we felt good and warmed up, we got our game faces on and set off to try the walls test-piece, a .13b called Beyond Reason. WOW! What a perfect climb! This one goes on the list of greats and I’d recommend it to anyone climbing near the grade. Lindsay hung the draws and did a great job of deciphering the upper headwall, a cryptic series of moves through tiny crimps and edges. The bottom half of the route is a full on slug fest. Compression climbing between sidepulls, edges, and sloping crimps. The movement was the first thing I noticed, brilliant throws, lunges, and powerful lock offs between finger buckets and bad edges (one in particular we’ve dubbed “the turd”). We worked the route into the fading sunlight (and warmth). I was able to snatch the redpoint on my third attempt by the skin of my teeth. Having not climbed outside in a while, our endurance is a bit lacking. The gym sessions have definitely helped but they’re still no substitute for the real thing.

Lindsay came dangerously close on her third go as well but fatigue had set in and the cold temps were taking hold. She figured out a couple of better sequences on her next go and we’ve vowed to return again so she can finish the rig, truly a route worth coming back for. The forecast isn’t looking great (as I’m writing this the canyons and big mountains are engulfed in clouds) but we’re optimistic and will try and get in as many days as possible before we leave on Wednesday. It’s a real treat just to be down here and climbing in such a beautiful place.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


So Tuesday night the phone rings and it's our good friend Ty Mack. He was looking for a partner to go to Zion with and try the mega classic route Spaceshot 5.13. Having climbed with Ty in the past I knew I'd enjoy his company even if the climb turned into an epic so I jumped at the opportunity. I packed up as much gear as deemed prudent, threw a bunch of camping gear in the back of the 4-runner, and after a short stint at work Wednesday morning, pointed her south and made haste for Zion National Park! Arriving at what might be THE sandiest campground ever, I pulled in to see Ty talking on the phone with beer in hand. After some big hugs and smiles, we cracked another beer, made some dinner, and got down to the business of catching up and sorting gear for Thursday's climb. Having climbed in Zion on previous trips (and having worked out the crux pitches of Spaceshot earlier via mini-traxion) I knew Ty was going to be a solid partner. We organized gear, went over the topo, filled water, stashed food away in our day packs, and called it a night in preparation for the big day ahead.

Sleep did not come easy that night.

I tossed and turned, the anticipation of what was to come gnawing at my semi-conscious mind. Was the exposure going to scare me to death? How well would we handle the belay transitions? Was it going to be too hot? Has anyone ever screamed like a girl when they fell 800 feet off the ground? I awoke early the next morning with a stiff back and wide eyes, Ty had already made the most "diesel" coffee I've ever tasted. It was just the ticket to get me fired up. Six packets of oatmeal later we were in the car headed for the park. We caught the second shuttle at 7:00 a.m. and as mornings first light played on the tops of the pinnacles, we wandered along the river bottom, Ty pointing out classic routes and future projects on the walls above.

The bus driver was kind enough to drop us off at the trail and after a two minute hike we stood at the base of by far the most impressive wall I've ever been under. We shoed up, gave each other a solid high five and a "woot woot!" and cast off up the route. The first three pitches were all easy, 5.6 range with lots of scrambling and negotiating sand bars. We arrived at the base of pitch four, the crux pitch of the route and unfortunately our last ledge stance for a while. Ty took some deep breaths, tightened the laces, and started up one of the most stunner pitches I've ever climbed on. Though wandering, the climbing was phenomenal. Perfect edges meandered up a blank wall, streaked red and black with hints of orange. Little boulder problems separated by good rests led to an awkward sideways traverse, the meat and potatoes of the pitch. The delicate and "balancey" nature of the crux spit Ty off three times, each one was a proud fall. Ty worked it out his fourth try and continued up the pin scarred seam to the belay, contemplating another attempt at the pitch to try and reign in the "free ascent".

After I arrived at the belay, the sun was starting to creep closer and closer down the wall and we made the decision to continue on try to make some headway on the wall since we still had five more long pitches ahead. We lamented the hanging belay we were at and Ty promptly cast off into the next hard pitch, a .12d pin scarred finger crack. Let it be said that Ty Mack is THE man! He strolled up that thing like he was warming up, assuring me the whole time he was gripped and pumped.... I still don't believe him. Needless to say he was solid from that point on for the rest of the day. By the time I climbed up to the belay, the sun had engulfed the wall and we were plenty warm. With the hardest pitches behind us, we looked ahead to a funky, sandy offwidth, and then splitter hands and fingers all the way to Earth Orbit Ledge, the final belay before the summit. The next three pitches were beautiful climbing, gorgeous positioning, and stunning views.

Ty ran a couple of pitches together to make for some fun endurance climbing. Unfortunately by that time, the sun was baking the wall and the hanging belays were starting to take their toll. We were both cramping up a little and my crooked ring finger wasn't cooperating as well as I had hoped in the splitter hand cracks. When I got to the final hanging belay Ty was already shoed up and ready to take off. The last two pitches were significantly more overhung and the fatigue was starting to set in. It was hard not to charge forward though since the exposure was really starting to take hold. The eighth pitch right before the ledge had phenomenal climbing, great hand jams, good feet outside the crack, and fantastic positioning since it arches hard right over the abyss! Once we were on the ledge, we drank the rest of our water, had a bite to eat, and took in the amazing views. A little lizard was quite eager to see us and found great curiosity in Ty's hard boiled egg shells. I tossed him a chunk of Clif-Bar and I'm sure he enjoyed that.

We cast off on the last pitch and certainly the most exposed terrain on the whole route. The 50 feet of ledge traversing was crazy! A flat, sloped ledge ran for probably 30 feet, and at three feet wide the whole route drops away below it. Unprotected, a fall there would land you smack dab in the middle of the abyss with little to no way of getting back up the rope... exciting! After the traverse, a handful of .12- moves lead you to the summit and those moves start off of the apex of the overhang. Pulling onto a block below a dihedral, you can see the whole route drop away below you, all 1200 feet! As exhilarating as it was, fatigue had set in an taken it's toll. Between the cramping and heat, Ty had opted for the bolt ladder and it was strenuous to even haul ourselves up that.

One more scramble pitch led to a small tree casting a bit of shade, a very welcomed sight at that point. I belayed Ty up and when he popped over the edge he said "alright a present"! Over in the dirt where two crusty old used water bottles... filled with H20! Under normal circumstances I wouldn't touch a water bottle like that but at that moment it took three seconds before Ty had the top off and was guzzling the precious fluid. After we finished off one of those he told me the unwritten code that aid climbers will often haul up too much water and it's a friendly gesture to leave extra water for parties who are dry when they reach the top (like us)! We sat and waited for the shade, taking in the spectacular views, talking climbing, route info, and geology. Once we cooled off and felt more hydrated, we set off down the slabs (in bare feet at this point which felt SO good) to the rappels. Four nice long raps set us back down on terra firma. Flip flops and shoes greeted us at our stashed pack and when the shuttle bus came around the bend, we had thumbs stuck out and were ready for beer and food.

All told it was 12 1/2 hours car to car, a solid day climb. I can't praise Ty's ability enough, he led most every pitch and had the wall systems down pat, a very solid partner. We laughed and talked and enjoyed the hell out of a long day that was quite tiring. It's almost two days later and I'm still wrecked, hurting in places I didn't know I have. It was totally worth it though, a fantastic climb and a wonderful experience all around. Unfortunately we didn't bring a camera since it would have added yet another pound or two and that would have been a pound or two too much. You can see some route photos and beta here Spaceshot Topo
I won't need the photos though to remember the amazing climbing and breath taking views. A huge thanks to T-Mack for letting me tag along on a wonderful adventure. Hopefully more Zion trips to come!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Autumn is here!

I'm writing this with the heater kickin, the coffee is HOT, and the sun is just starting to poke out and warm up our chilly 38 degree morning...Fall is here! This week we've finally been blessed with some moisture and cooler temps, no more high 80's folks. Dipping into the 30's at night and only reaching the high 60's during the day, climbing, working, just things in general have a better feel to them. We're gearing up for another weekend of climbing and video watching, hoping the precip. levels don't exceed our grip capacity.

We kicked off this week with our friends Jenny and Collin swinging through town to visit us on their way home to Portland. With Little Cottonwood Canyon finally coming into early season, we headed upstream to check out some of the most solid granite I've ever touched. It wasn't the most successful day as it was still in the 80's but we had so much fun! We did manage to tick off some classics like Twisted, Dan's Problem a.k.a The Double Dyno, and The Dean Problem. After showering and babying our tips with Climb-On and beer, we cleaned up and headed to the Salt Lake premier of the The Reel Rock Tour. One word...amazing! Some of the best climbing films I've seen in a long time. Mostly due to the fact that there isn't much footage of climbers "getting rad" and showing how bad ass they are. Sender Films two installments were super grounded and the footage of Alex Honnold soloing Moonlight Buttress and Half Dome is absolutely jaw dropping. Big Up Productions didn't disappoint either with they're new film Progression. As always they're footage is top notch and the vid covers the broad spectrum from the top Euro comp circuit to gritstone death routes. All in all, one of the best climb video nights in a long time.
Today we head back to American Fork to try our projects. Lindsay is dangerously close on White Noise (an old Mike Call route, an epic battle up micro crimps, unrelenting to the anchors), and I have moved on to the mega classic Body Count. Both routes requiring sub 70 degree temps due to the slopey and crimpy nature of they're respective holds. Good luck to everyone this weekend on all "redpoint" endeavors, both climbing related and non-climbing related...Fall is HERE!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Takin' Em' Down!

Today, team 307 (at least the Salt Lake portion) killed it at the Cannabis Crag in American Fork. With a light drizzle last night bringing the air temp down, we rolled out of bed to a fatty breakfast of blueberry pancakes and BACON! I capitalized the word bacon because we now know conclusively that it IS the secret weapon in the fight against gravity. After feeling fueled up and ready to go we made our way down south and laid siege on the smooth overhanging wall that is the Cannabis.
Our first goes were certainly our strongest. I fell right at the top of Jug Abuse, taking the good whip and screaming on the way down. Drat. Lindsay found her high point on Teardrop only to realize her beta was slightly flawed and found the pump too much to bear. Feeling like today had to be the day, we each sidled back up to the wall and promptly crushed! It felt good to dial the routes in and then dispatch. With temperatures starting to cool off and stay in the 70's, it's turning into A.F. season. We haven't been back to Hell in a few weeks but we haven't forgotten about our respective projects there. I have to finish off High Water and Lindsay needs to get White Noise done.
We'll stay on the right side of the wall for a bit and try and move on to Body Count and Cop Killer, the harder routes in that sector. Being in a place where there's so many motivated climbers, climbing hard consistently, it's becoming easier and easier to try hard each time we're out. Hopefully the hard sends will continue!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Yeah Yeah Yeah!

This weekend was a BLAST! We started off on Friday climbing at the Cannabis Wall in American Fork. Facing due north and just a few feet off the river, the crag features slightly overhanging, clean walls that maintain a cooler temperature on the hot days. We were climbing on two routes, Teardrop .13a and Jug Abuse .13c. Both routes feature dynamic moves, similar climbing styles, and are hard on the skin and on the ego. Lindsay put in numerous attempts on Teardrop and came painfully close each time, falling right at the very top. With some key beta from a buddy, she figured out a different sequence but lacked the energy and time to give it another go. I started giving serious beta sessions on Jug Abuse and found the route living up to its name. There's a legend around SLC saying that the route is notoriously sandbagged and I would concur! When it was first put up, it was given .13a/b. Now after numerous ascents, it is consensus .13c/d. Beautiful moves on micro crimpers and jugs lead to a series of very low-percentage moves guarding the anchors. A worthwhile route to come back to and project!

Aside from trying till we bled on Friday, we tended the garden a bit and have come to the conclusion that our squash plants yield about two squash per week that are as big or bigger than the one in the following picture. We are SO SICK of squash, we've sautéed it, fried it, grilled it, baked it, etc. etc. You can really only eat so much squash before you just want to start throwing them at people who drive by too fast on the street. If only our sweet corn would grow this fast and big...?

We also just got home tonight from one of the best concerts ever! We had the privilege of seeing the Yeah Yeah Yeah's at a great intimate venue downtown. We've been listening to the YYY's for a few years now and their studio work is terrific. After reading local reviews this concert had been hyped up for a while due to the last performance in 2006. Tonight was no disappointment, to say the least it was a barn-burner! They absolutely rocked the show, Karen O, the lead singer was so captivating and the crowd played right into it! If you have the ability to see them live anywhere, anytime, DO IT! They love to play a small venue and damn do they know how to work it, great time! Enjoy the pics.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

City Livin...

This post is LONG overdue and I apologize, I've been diverting my attention to Youtube and Facebook, I'm a slacker I know. Well as you all know it's September now, wow, where did 2009 go?! Salt Lake is still treating us very well, we've figured out the cool little hangs for food, like Lonestar Taqueria, Salt Lakes #1 destination for fish tacos and all victuals from south of the border. We still like Mazza, a swanky little middle-eastern restaurant with Armenian beer and wines from Iraq, Iran and all the dishes to accompany them. Upon moving here we knew that there were a lot of destination climbing areas like Maple, A.F., Logan, LCC. What nobody told us was that there a TON of smaller areas that are just as good like Blacksmith Fork, City Creek, Santaquin, Echo, Ferguson, Chadbourne, and a host of others. Needless to say we've been up to our ears in climbing trips to different crags all the time. It's like Utopia with 3.2 beer! So far we've really just been working and climbing in our free time. It's been pretty nice to have a steady work schedule and just kind of fall into that sort of routine. We don't really foresee any major trips coming up in the near future as we're trying to buffer out our bank account post "honeymoon". Luckily we've got southern Utah as a destination this winter. Only four hours away, St. George will be an admirable base to launch climbing attacks from, it'll be an easy weekend trip with a slew of different areas to choose from.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Home Sweet Home

SO! Yeah yeah I know I haven't kept this posting up but holy schmidt have we been busy! We're all moved in down here in Salt Lake, it's been a rough move to say the least. I came down with a wicked case of the stomach flu that's still lingering. That made the drive and lifting heavy boxes less than fun. Our place is pretty darn cute, good little spaces and nice lighting make it very cozy. On the down side our toilet started bubbling and the shower filled back up with gray water, the first day we moved in....curious? After a week plus of plumbers, roto-rooters, crawling in the dank and nasty crawl space, we've come to determine that the sewer was installed at the wrong grade and the gravity flow pulls our waste water back to the house. It's a shitty deal (pun very much intended).
There's a crew of guys working on cleaning everything out right now but it's hard to say what the final outcome will be. Hopefully we can do a load of laundry and flush the toilet in the same day, that'd be super! Aside from that we've been moving stuff in, cleaning, arranging, organizing, and marveling at all the cool stuff we totally forgot we had. We've been to the climbing gym once, it's an amazing facility, state of the art as far as gyms go. Climbing outside has had to take the back seat due to rain every day since we got here. Not just little Rocky Mountain thunder showers either, I'm talking like 40 days and 40 nights kind of biblical rain. We had dinner at our friends house up at the base of Big Cottonwood Canyon last night and as we were driving on the interstate, people were pulling over the rain was coming down so hard. The wipers couldn't keep up and people were hydroplaning on the freeway, scary business.
So tonight we're going out for Lindsays birthday, just a romantic evening for the two of us, then it's more job hunting and interviews.
So feel free to swing by if you're in the neighborhood, we've got the spare bedroom up and running, and from the sounds of it the plumbing is starting to shape up as we speak. If it ever stops raining, we'll get outside and take some pics of our new home crags. Until then....

Monday, May 11, 2009

Wii, Weather, & Whining

The title says it all!  Since we've arrived in Lander, home of 300+ sun-days a year, we've numbed out ever time at the crag.  Technically it's spring time here, but it's a Wyoming spring which means it can still snow sideways even when the sun is out.  To remedy this ongoing problem, we've been playing a lot of golf and Wii.  Wii Golf to be exact.  Let it be known that Lindsay and I ARE the Tiger Woods of the Wii!  This is all fun and good and helps us pass the time, but it does NOT make us stronger and help us send hard routes.  
Lindsay is upsettingly close on her route The Successor .13b, all she needs is a warm day to not numb out and she's in there.  I've been piecing together an old project of mine, Busload of Faith .14a and it's coming together nicely, again it'd be nice to have feeling while climbing it.  We're heading up there again today to meet an old friend and take some pictures.  If things do not go well, we will sell all our climbing and golf gear and take up cod fishing in the north Atlantic because I bet that's less frustrating.  I hope.
We're here for two more weeks and then it's SLC all the way baby!  We have to make a trip up to Cody and see my pops, reclaim my vehicle from the clutches of storage, and make sure the old man's hot tub is still in working order.  Let's all just hope the weather improves and then you can read a blog where it's sunshine and roses and happy things!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Roundtrip Yo!

This post comes hot off the press from Folklore coffee in downtown Lander WY.  We signed a lease on a great little place near Liberty Park in SLC.  We move in June 1st and I speak for us both when I say it was a huge sigh of relief to find a place we really like so quickly.  One less thing to worry about!  The weather here in Landiego isn't amazing, winter is lingering and spring is having a tough time punching through.  We hung draws on our projects and they felt good, really good.  With any luck we'll have a few days of great weather coming up and we can finish off those dragons! 
We'll have to make at least one trip to SLC yet within the month before we move down to interview for our new jobs!  I'm courting a climbing hold company called ETCH.  They make great holds and it's the kind of job I'd be really psyched on, working with my hands making climbing gear, does it get any better?  Lindsay has two very hot irons in the fire, one at a teaching hospital and the other at a regional hospital north of the city.  One is more or less a for sure deal and the other is coming along nicely.  Needless to say we're dangerously close to checking off another box on the "moving" to do list. 
If you scroll down and check out the videos in the right hand column, the second one down from the top (should be labeled The Dude Ranch) is the video we shot this winter down in Hueco.  Sorry about the potty language but this sport evokes some serious emotions sometimes, plus we were trying hard!  So put it on your calendars, June 1 in Salt Lake.  We'll have a spare room for any passers by.  All are welcome.  

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Dizziness in the City...

Driving around Salt Lake looking for houses has made Lin and myself perpetually nauseous.  We drive as slow as we can without impeding traffic too much, and whip our heads from left to right looking for the little red "For Rent" signs posted in yards and windows.  Two days of this nonsense has led us to sore necks and queasy tummies.  Yesterday we found a KILLER place in the area known as Liberty Park.  It's got a great back yard for the boys, two car garage and lots of off street parking, enough space for the two of us as well as a quaint little upstairs for guests.  We filled out the application in the rain and gave it right back to the guy!  If any of you know Dan the owner (he's a school teacher who's moving to Seattle with his wife and his Prius), tell him to rent to us because we're good looking and our dogs are faster than most senior drivers :).

Now being smart adults, we're still looking for a sweet little casa to call our own but with any luck, we'll be able to procure this place and that will be that.  To back up just a bit, we left St. George on Friday morning after a month of great times.  True, we struggled with the weather but hell, it's not like that's anything new on this trip.  In fact, if we had good weather at any point I'd be pretty damned shocked.  We had some good days though, especially towards the end of our time there.  BJ came down a few weeks ago and we raged at the Cathedral for the most part.  Each of us sending at least one route of notable "project" grade.  Lindsay shown through as usual sending most likely her hardest route to date.  Resurrection .13b is STIFF in the grade and through many cold days and numb fingers she persevered each day gaining a new high point until success.  Pure Poetry.  BJ while making very speedy progress on Joe Kinders new 5.14 Unforgivable made a quick, second go ascent of The Cross .13c.  Strong.  Myself, I tried to stay under the radar but managed to struggle through a mean little power endurance number called Treebeard .13c.  

We golfed quite a few days towards the end due to the 90 degree temps.  We all shot some of the best golf of our lives at the swanky little municipal courses in and around St. George.  We can't be sure but it may seriously affect our climbing game.  I highly recommend the southern Utah region to anyone wanting warm weather and beautiful scenery.  It's not hard to climb and golf well when you're in an amazing setting, like Hollywood trucked in a sweet backdrop for whatever you're doing!  I must mention, after nearly ten years of searching and near misses, I got to ride go carts on a rest day!  Ever since watching Three Weeks and a Day (climbing film) I wanted to spend a rest day zipping around a 30 foot long track in a gas powered beast named Flashy Fun #27.  It was bliss.  Our good friends Vance and Jen came down to visit some family and we were able to hang out for a day go-carting and laser tagging.  My hands are sweating just thinking about it.  

Next stop, Lander WY.  We'll see if these past seven months have made us any stronger for our long standing projects at home.  Enjoy the new pics.  Adios.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Can I Get Some Sunshine!

It's cloudy out right now, I'm bummed. We had a great day yesterday at the Wailing Wall with BJ. He drove down on Sunday night and will be with us for the next two weeks or so. Team Wyoming crushed at the crag, Lindsay fell at the very tippy top of her project, any closer and it's in the bag! BJ with some spray from Joey K figured out all the moves on the new 5.14 Unforgivable which came as a nice surprise (since his finger is still a little sore). With some nudging from Joe and BJ I jumped on Treebeard, 13+, and one hung it my second go so that was a nifty gift. We're headed back that way today because the weather is supposed to crap out on us again and only get up to the mid 50's with rain tomorrow...WTF! Isn't it mid April? Aren't we in the desert southwest? I thought it's supposed to be hot, dry and sunny down here!

Dewey has been tutoring me on photo techniques and it's been a lot of fun trying some newer more advanced tricks and tips. I took 140 pictures yesterday, not a damn one turned out! We sat down and he explained what I was doing wrong and hopefully today will yield some better results. As a personal highlight, I finally got to ride go-carts on a road trip. Ever since I saw Three Weeks & a Day, I desperately wanted to ride some go-carts Daryl Waltrip style. Our good friends Vance and Jen came down last week to visit some family and we got to spend a rest day with them at Fiesta Fun, THE establishment in Three Weeks the crew rides THEIR go-carts at. I spent all my money on those goofy things! I am such a geek.

Let's all just pray for some good weather and stronger muscles, all that any bi-pedal hominid would wish for~

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Same Old New Feelings

Sorry, no photos today. It's just been Lindsay and myself lately and as many of you know, it's more important to keep a hand on the rope vs. the camera. The past handful of days has been not too shabby. We got our new Mac and it's been a contest of brick chewing trying to move various files over from the Dell. We're making progress but for every transfer that goes the way it's supposed to, two more require that we run back to Laurie and Dewey's computer and do a quick Internet tutorial on "how to's". I can say that the ole Mac Book Pro is WAY more user friendly than our PC. I'm liking the multimedia "manipulation" programs that come standard.
Lin's finger is feeling better, she climbed on a .13b yesterday called Resurrection. Not only do I think that route is heinous (since the holds are small, tweaky, and barely there), it's certifiably HARD. The consensus around the campfire is that it's big in the grade (meaning it's difficult for the grade it's given). She went up once, had a strong burn (or try), came down and professed that she had used up all her juice and was gassed out. She then made two more attempts, each one stronger than the previous. The last go, she bobbled her feet, bobbled her hands, and still made a clip that has proven quite difficult in past tries. Encouraging.
I tried a .13b also called Indulgence. With our friend Kyle spraying me down (giving me suggestions on what to do) I flashed all the way to the top, four feet from the anchors. Flaming out, I faltered and had to hang. AAAAARRRRGGGGHHHH! It definitely would have been one of my strongest efforts climbing ever! Recomposing myself, I tried to figure out the very cryptic ending sequence. I pitched off right at the chains, taking a funky little fall. Due to the nature of the rock and the bolt placement, I swung into the wall kinda hard and jammed my big toe, bad. We knew it wasn't broken but it was really sore for the rest of our time at the crag. I tried putting on my climbing shoe but it was a no-go. Way to painful to stand in the tiny little pockets at the top of the route. Poop.
The weather is crapping out on us again, cold and windy. It has to be a minimum of 70 degrees in town before we can conceivably climb at the Cathedral crag (the area we're most excited about) and it's been in the low sixties for the past two weeks. Hopefully it'll warm up this next week and we can get some good days in. We're scheduled to golf on Sunday with Laurie and Dewey, we're pretty excited about that. Our good friends Vance and Jenn are coming down from Lander this week also to visit her parents. We're making plans to get out and climb with them which will be WAY fun.
Nothing too new on the Salt Lake front unfortunately. We're still job hunting, the question still remains, "what do we want to do, and how often"? It's hard to think about going back to forty plus hours a week when we see all the people around us working part time and playing just as much as us. Sure, we're struggling with the age old question of balance. Luckily, we have really good looking dogs and camper named "Gwendoline, The Ivory Palace" so I think we'll probably be just fine!

Saturday, March 21, 2009


This post is long overdue! We've been a lot of places and met a lot of people since March seventh. As you can surmise from the weather bulletin above, we're in St. George Utah and loving every minute of it. We left Hueco almost two weeks ago, it was time. We said goodbye to the Dude Ranch, our little refuge in the desert for almost two months and headed east to Carlsbad New Mexico. We packed the Scamp as tight as we could, filled up the water tank, and waved Adios to Dr. Foo, Short Bus, T-Bag, and the rest of the desert rats that took up the torch in the march against gravity.
Our first day out of Texas found us at the silent oasis of Sitting Bull Falls, outside of Carlsbad. If you are EVER in the area, it is a must see even if you're not climbing. The geology there has slowly created a series of blue green pools of clear mountain water cascading down a large formation known (and coveted by climbers) as Tufa. Tufa's are the slow depositing of plant material in the calcium rich water and it forms stalactites, stalagmites, and really funky worm like features that make climbing sort of like an episode of a Dr. Seuss story. Day one was perfect, we attacked the rock with reckless abandon trying every climb we saw (staying away from the killer bee nest though). Day two was different.

With a northern exposure the wall never sees sun and the ambient didn't get above 56 that day. It was cold as hell! BJ and I saddled up, lying to each other about how tough we were, and we got a couple of pitches in before we ran back to the camper for Gin and cribbage. Upon realizing the weather wasn't going to improve, BJ headed home to the wife and job, while Lin and I braved the cold and made some phone calls to our friends in Midland Texas. John and Carol pleaded with us to stay for just a few more days, and check out Last Chance Canyon. A small river bed lined with cliffs on either side, Last Chance was fuzzy in my mind. Having visited there years before, I recalled a couple of neat looking walls and some potential, but nothing more tangible than some vertical routes with sharp holds. Thank God we don't always listen to my memory! We became hopelessly lost our first attempt to locate the climbing. It's a long story but let's just say that we found some beautiful country, some cat tracks, and a bizarre tree with no bark and a reddish hue. The joys of travelling.

When we met up with John and Carol, we were ecstatic! Last Chance is a gem among gems. Don't ask me how to get there, I couldn't even begin to recall the maze of dirt roads and miles of barbwire that lead to the tiny little parking lot. We set up shop at the KOA in Carlsbad and laid siege on the canyon for two well fought days. Climbing better than we hoped we would, we sampled a little bit of everything the tiny gorge had to offer. Steep caves with 14 fixed draws like little soldiers marching upside down, dead vertical test pieces with bullet holes for grips, and sweeping waves rising above the mesquite and cactus patches. After a week in Carlsbad (which is a long time in that little hole of a town) we packed it up and headed north to St. George with some stops at the Caverns, the Grand Canyon, and the International UFO Museum.

Today finds us enjoying some well deserved Internet, coffee, and hot showers with couches and lounging laying in waiting. St. George is the final destination on this little excursion in paradise. We'll be here until we make the move to Salt Lake for jobs and "real life" We stopped by the Cathedral and Wailing wall yesterday, two amazing areas south of here. I can already see spending a good chunk of our time there. With better access to the inter-web, we'll be better about posting and updating our trip. If you're on Facebook, check out the video entitled The Dude Ranch 2009. It's rated R for language but portrays our time in Hueco rather accurately. Adios

Saturday, March 7, 2009

So tired....

I know it's been a while since I last posted but we've been decreasing our trips into town and Internet is scarce out in the desert. We've been climbing more and more consistent, harder problems every day we go out. Lindsay has continued to crush out hard test pieces like Shroom V9 within a handful of goes. True to form though, Hueco has punished us more than it's built us up. This place is harder to climb at than any other on the face of the planet I swear to God! Our tips are like little cement nubs on the ends of our fingers, our muscles are bulging with pain and swelling, and our egos are battered from days of failure on what seems like doable boulder problems. Our time here has been amazing to say the least. Every night we watch flawless sunsets and each day we get to climb in one of the most magical places on earth.
We've had the pleasure of climbing with some great new friends, Paul Jung and Ronnie Jenkins, both from back east. Paul's subtle and dry wit is always catching us off guard and Ronnie is so off the wall that you never know what he's going to do next just to get a good laugh out of everyone. Our tours have been those not of hard climbing, but fun climbing. Running around the park looking for the mega-classic V0 and V1's we've always skipped over. Just finding these gems proves to be an exciting day. Alas and alack, our time here has drawn to an end. We've got a day or two more, Trevor is dead set on finishing a video project and yours truly is the only one who has no video time. A day or two on north and then we're heading north, maybe to New Mexico for a few days and then to southern Utah to the limestone areas of St. George and the Arizona strip. I would love to post some pics but we don't have any since Trevor has confiscated our camera to shoot his masterpiece video. If it's finished any time soon, I'll post it, just don't let the kids watch (Trevor's music may not fall under the "family listening" category).

Monday, February 16, 2009

My Bionic Wife

We have arrived. Okay, our strength has arrived. Alright alright, Lindsay's strength has arrived. We've been getting out regularly, day on day off, and Lin has been slowly destroying everything she gets on. Everything she's tried she's done in a day, ten goes or less. Yesterday she did her first confirmed V9 with a quick tick of Kim with a Bathtub in her head. She fell on the last move of the flash attempt at Ultramega V8 (doing it quickly on her second go). And as a quick warm up she flashed Hector in a blender V7. A standout day to be sure!
It feels good to finally have good skin and strong muscles. It looks like we'll be here through the first bit of March as the weather further north is just not that warm yet. We're excited at the prospect of having more time to project harder climbs. We've also decided on Salt Lake as our destination for relocation. It boils down to job opportunities, housing opportunities, and a centralized location to lots of climbing. In the meantime, I've been playing around with our movie maker program and the new video is my first attempt at a future career in Hollywood. Enjoy.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Still Hard

So Hueco Tanks is still the most punishing area on the planet. I have yet to go anywhere that requires so much skin, so many muscles, and so much tenacity to complete projects. We're sitting in the sun right now nursing sore/injured fingers. It was really nasty yesterday and it made for some tired bodies and digits. Lindsay absolutely CRUSHED with an ascent of Better Eat Your Wheaties V9. It's worth mentioning that she did it in four tries. Very few people, male or female can claim such an achievement.

If our bodies can continue on our regiment of punishment, I think good things will happen within the next few weeks. The weather is looking less gorgeous and more Feb. for the next few weeks but c'est la vie. We're contemplating going to Bishop CA in early March, otherwise we'll head north to southern Utah. Pieces are falling into place as far as the move goes also, with a promising job prospect in Salt Lake for myself at a climbing gear distributor. Lindsay's studying at a hurried pace as always and continues to further her ongoing education. I don't know how she's so damned smart and so damned strong at the same time (I try like hell to do one or the other and even then I struggle)!

Oh yeah, the in-climate weather has given us some lovely sunsets.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Unfamiliar Faces...

We've been enduring winds here in western Texas. The difference between the wind here and the wind in most every other place we've visited is that the zephyrs here carry the desert with them. It's much like a scene from the move Twister, you'll see Wal-mart bags flying through the air regularly, sometimes with stuff still in them. Lots of trash illegally crossing the Mexican border, tumbleweeds the size of Geo Metros, and sand. Lots and lots of sand. The Starbucks at the corner of Joe Battle and Montwood has become our "windy day" haven.

Trevor has been taking us to lots of newly developed problems all over the park. It's been a lot of fun for me since I've already seen the majority of Hueco Tanks. Two days ago he took us to a boulder I've walked pass a hundred times and there were two amazing problems, in one of the most densely climbed out areas. Who knew? In seeing all these new faces, we've felt obligated to climb everything since we may not get back to it (as long as Trevor has his way). In doing so, we've started to get strong a lot quicker than we thought. Thanks to these serendipitous colds we've been resting a lot and forcing us to be smart in our training. We climb until we feel like our souls are bleeding, we come home, eat, drink a lot of emergen-c and then go to bed. We think it's helping anyway. Let's face it, America's strongest climbers are here right now, it's a lot to measure yourself against. Though it's been said that "greatness breeds greatness" so maybe we'll leave stronger than when we arrived. That is the idea I suppose. Enjoy the last few days worth of shots. Adios.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Skin, Ping Pong, & The West Texas Desert

"Ouch." We say this word in hundreds of different ways each day we go out here in Hueco. Sometimes there are adult expletives attached before and after the word. Sometimes we scream it so loud that the resident Javelinas run in all directions. Sometimes we whisper it as we clutch our finger tips and shake with frustration and pain. "Ouch." "Oooouuuuucccchhhh!" "Oooowwwweeeeyyyy!" The syanite here is unlike anything I've seen anywhere else. It can be as hard as steel or as sandy as a crumbling old brick. Mostly though the darker, deep hued red rock dubbed "bubbly iron rock" lives up to it's name. Forming features like that of some prehistoric dinosaur skin. We are noticing that our strength is returning and our skin is slowly turning hard. With any luck, within the next two weeks our finger tips will look like those of a seasoned mason.

When we're not touring the fairytale land of Hueco Tanks, discovering new problems and dispatching those just barely within our grasp, we play Ping Pong. Let me rephrase, we play a SHIT load of ping pong. I would say on a climbing day we play 24 games or so, and on rest days it's double that. We're not ready for the Chinese national team yet but we have two distinct modes. We either have "Forrest" moments where we miss the table completely with the ball, miss the ball all together, or just plain screw up royally. OR we have "Gump" moments where we dive backwards, blindly, left handed and return the serve with shocking speed and dangerous accuracy. There's no rhyme or reason to it but damn is it fun. The handful of moments we're not playing, I'm building furniture for Trevors house, Lindsay's shouting for Bodhi and Amico who LOVE chasing the jack rabbits, or we're resting, rubbing hand salve anywhere we dub and "ouch" zone.

All in all we're getting stronger, day by day, minute by minute. We know we're getting stronger because we climb a bit harder each day and in the meantime we hurt like hell! Sound logic I think. The dogs are getting a bath today at Petsmart so Lin and I are headed to the dollar theater for some sweet old movies. We may even take in an ice cream before we head back out into the desert. I'll have a large, not because I'm hungry but because I think I can probably fit both my hands into a large bowl. Mint chocolate chip too, for when we pull our tips out and like them!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Hueco Tanks

So we are in Hueco Tanks near El Paso Texas. The good Lord finally decided that we were good kids and has blessed us with sunny skies, 70 degree weather, and lots of open spots in the park. We've set up shop at our good buddy Trevor's, and we are currently the caretakers of his humble abode (I stress the humble part). As in the past, it's hard to get any kind of cell service there and Internet is a no go but luckily we're going to be coming into town at least once every few days for fresh tortilla's and water. The drive from Georgia was awful. 1438 miles to be exact, that's two days no matter how you cut it. We made it without incident but we've felt very road weary since we got here. Unfortunately we're both sick now. I've had a bit of a relapse in my cold, and Lin has caught the funky heebee geebees too. On a serendipitous note, climbing here forces an equal number of rest days to climbing days and we're in day one of two off.

Our skin is on fire (this place is harder on your finger tips than anywhere else in the world) but we're excited about the prospects of future climbs here. It's changed a LOT since I was here three years ago but it's a fun vibe now. All of our old friends have properties and little adobe pit toilets, and the once chaotic system of entering into the park seems trivial and easy now. We're here until the end of Feb and then who knows, most likely starting to look for that elusive new home! I feel like a big pile of poopy right now so that's it for this installment, but I promise the next one will be full of more pictures and details. For now, know that we are in Hueco, we're happy, healthy (sort of), and having a ball! We miss you all and look forward to the stories we can share in the future. Adios!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Pura Vida

Pura Vida. This is the motto of Costa Rica, it's everywhere you look. On water bottles, billboards, tee shirts, cheap surf boards. Literally it means "pure life", it's a perfect slogan for a country that seemingly has no sense of urgency about anything. We would call it..."laid back". With no standing army since 1948, the locals or Tico's are a very non-confrontational people. Our trip took us to the southern most region of the country near a duty free zone called Golfito. The journey began here in Milwaukee with a lengthy bus ride down to Chicago where we spent the night due to the early nature of our flight the next morning. We took it as a good omen when we checked into our hotel which was SUPER swanky but only $89 bucks online- go figure?

With an impending storm, we flew out the next morning (only to find out later that we were one of the last planes out and then they closed O'Hare) and arrived in Houston to a voicemail that the entire rest of the gang were delayed in Denver and couldn't make the connection to San Jose (the capital of Costa Rica). We continued on south, arriving in San Jose at dusk. Kelly the travel master had arranged a shuttle for us to a great little gated hotel complex in Escazu, a region above San Jose. We listened to gunfire and fire works as the Christmas holiday approached. The rest of the family arrived that night via a different airline and flights.

The next morning we loaded into a sweet little Toyota van that puts most American cars to shame. As a side note, ALL their cars put ours to shame. We rode in a Toyota Hilux while we were there and when we asked our driver what kind of mileage it got, his response was "I can't count that high". Matt and I did the math, roughly 50 miles to the gallon. But back to our trip down, our driver Antonio would prove to be one of the highlights of the trip. His Tico knowledge of the country was invaluable. From the coffee highlands to the coastal regions he gave us the brief history of Costa Rica and explained all of her idiosyncrasies to us. The ride down took 10 hours, five of which were on a two lane dirt road. Brutal to say the least. When we arrived in Zancudo we flipped out. It is truly at the end of the earth and there are a significant lack of amenities to prove it.

We dropped our bags, put on our suits, and RAN into the ocean like lemmings to the sea! Pura Gringos I think. When we got back to our cabinas we realized just how remote we really were. No phone, no TV, no radio, no Internet, no communication with the outside world at all. There was a small "convenience store" two minutes walk away with surfboards, beer, and pink marsh mellows. Other than that, we could bust open any of the coconuts outside our door and the restaurant at the "resort" served us most of what we needed. I say "resort" because it was comprised of four buildings, the restaurant, the owners house, two cabinas, and the surf shop. Oh yeah, none of the buildings had insulation, glass, or hot water. Screened windows, hardwood floors, and fans, lots of fans.

The next week is a blur. I can tell you we swam, surfed, walked the beach, took pictures, drank Imperial beer, and pretty much just lazed around the black sand beaches in the sun. We took a tour through a wildlife refuge, THAT was COOL! A few highlights were the dolphins swimming next to our little skiff boat, snorkeling a coral reef (waiting on the underwater camera to be developed) and the spider monkey showing Matt where it wanted to be scratched...funny as hell! We ultimately got the surfing thing down, what a blast! It took us all a day though to realize why you need a rash guard. We thought it was for the water...negative ghost rider! My abs, knees, and inner ankles all still bare the wounds of wax rash where I lay on the board to paddle out through the surf. We walked to the "center" of Zancudo which was nothing more that the police station and school, the best part of which was as we were walking back along the beach, we were adopted by a beagle named Magio. The owner of the Coloso Del Mar informed us that "we were his now and not to try and shake him." Magio was great, he was our personal body guard for four days.

Our journey home took us along the Panamanian border and through many police checkpoints where when asked about our travels the policia would look at us with confusion when we told them we had been in Zancudo. Barely making all our connecting flights back, we came back to Milwaukee two nights ago, weary from two days of travel, and fighting some nasty head colds. We'll continue to add to this post with new photos when everyone sends them out, here are a few to tide you over. In summation, the trip was amazing. We saw way more country than we thought we would, met some great people, and enjoyed the Pura Vida. We wouldn't recommend this trip to just anyone, there's a reason it's at the end of the earth. It takes a long time to get there and at times it's not the most comfortable trip but in the end, it was totally worth it. Adios
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