Sunday, June 15, 2014

Potential

The obligatory Equinox post. 

Me flashing Artifact (5.12d), making the crux clip before the last boulder problem.
 
Well, I guess I had to do it, or felt obliged to do it anyway.  I have been spending a lot of my time at this ‘new’ (to me anyways) crag called Equinox.  I know the history surrounding the crag so I won’t go into access details and you will be hard pressed to find any beta on how to get there on this blog.  Instead I’ll just spray mercilessly about how incredibly good it is. 
I was lucky enough to be good friends with some of the locals and thus was introduced to this incredible black/white/grey/green/brown striped overhanging chunk of sport climbing goodness by experienced hands. 
Projecting The Magic Machine (5.12d).  A variation of Green Machinist that climbs the bulk of GM before linking into the last boulder problem on Black Magic.
 
Equinox is a small paradise.  Its a stunning piece of overhanging rock that is absolutely stacked with intermediate to hard lines.  You can get an idea of the crag from this well done video segment documenting Jonathan Siegrist's short crushing FA spree during his time in the PNW.

 
The crag is not just an overhanging bouldery power circuit but it also has quite the variety of climbs, from gently overhanging technical crimp master pieces to varied powerful tech-slabs on highly textured black rock, to aesthetic head walls and arêtes that loom above the popular single pitch routes. 
There is a nice deck to hang out on and belay from below, a perfect viewing/beta spray station that meets the main arena at mid height so you can rehearse the moves on your project or make fun of your friends as they struggle to the top on any number of the 5.13+ extensions. 

Steven climbs through SuperDrMega (5.12b) to give the extension Fight Club (5.13c) a go.
 
Its constantly cool down below where the majority of the routes start and the rock stays pretty dry because of the overhanging nature of the entire crag.  The only downside is all of the stagnant pools of water left over from the rainy season that are also guarded from the sun because they lurk in dark corridors formed by the giant stacked boulders and slabs of rock that form the viewing platform.  These pools of water are perfect mosquito nurseries, so its nice to have a citronella candle at the ready.

Jamie Chong climbs the Green Machinist (5.12c)
 
The climbs are strictly power endurance oriented affairs.  You're hard pressed to find anything easier than 5.12a/b in the main arena of the crag, and all of the 5.12's basically have extensions that all go at 5.13a or above. 
Of course there are other easier routes but I get the impression that they aren't quite as stunning or as classic as the harder lines in the main arena.  However, I have only been four times so far and since there isn't a guide book I can only vouch for the lines that I've been shown or have tried.

Forest climbs the ultra classic crimpy test piece Clip it or Skip it (5.12a).  A magnificent slightly overhung face climb on seams and good crimps.  Bomb proof rock and a very delicate and fun sequence make this a stellar line.
 

Jimmy climbing through the technical boulder problem crux of Black Magic (5.13a).  Blakc Magic has to be one of Equinox's flagship lines.  It's a crazy roller coaster of a route that starts off climbing out of a small cave type of feature on a V.6/7 boulder problem!  It follows a very neat black water streak up and out of an overhang and onto a small vert section before one last overhanging boulder problem.  A must for the grade and area.

Jimmy on an impressive flash of Green Machinist (5.12c).  Right off the deck you have to tackle a V.5 boulder problem with high quality movement, afterwards you get to climb a pumpy 5.11c.  This is such a good line!!


Forest makes a tough clip on SuperDrMega (5.12b)

Me on a difficult rest before climbing the extension to Skip it or Clip it that I decided to name Stick With It (5.12c). 

Shaking out on the last rest before the final crux boulder problem on Stick With It (5.12c).  This extension is one of my favorites, amazingly straightforward climbing on relatively good holds, the pump is manageable and the length of the climb is very attractive. 

Jimmy hanging out before one more boulder on Black Magic.

Will gets his warm up on.

Kevin celebrating his birthday on a good burn of Fight Club (5.13c).


This is Will climbing the very neat crux section boulder problem of Groove Tube (5.12b/13a depending on the variation.)

 







Welcome to Equinox!

The viewing platform and the main arena.

Groove Tube

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello

Pictured above are two of Bishop's finest super locals.  Zach West and Josh Vale.  Zach has been living in Bishop for 7 years now and is one of the most dedicated dudes I've met.  He has sent 90% of the problems in Bishop graded V.10 and below and still manages to find new ones and crank the psyche levels up.  I will miss climbing with this guy.
Josh has been living in or around the city of Bishop for the past eight seasons and has amassed an equally impressive tick list, besides also being a phenomenal skier.  Each season he sets his sights on a handful of hard boulders and does them.  He's also one of the nicest people I've met and one of the easiest people to hang out with and climb with.  I hope he moves to the PNW soon! 
 
My brotha' from anotha' motha'!  Jaryd Block!!  I was able to stay with Jaryd and RJ for the last few weeks I lived in Bishop and since RJ was suffering from a finger injury the next logical step was to start following Jaryd around all of the super classic trad climbing areas Bishop has to offer.  Here he is at the top of Sheila (5.10c, trad) a historical route, the first 5.10 trad climb in the Sierra's!  And a stout one at that.  It has Everything you could ask for in a trad climb.  Stemming, jamming, lie-backing, offwidths, hands, fingers, shoulders, knees and toes goddamnit!!
 
The beautiful corner section on Sheila.

 
Jaryd utilizing the double crack system on Sheila.

 

The Tungstar Bowls, a popular back country skiing spot for obvious reasons.

So...which line should we do first??

Jackson Adair, this fucking guy...what to say?  Funniest human being...EVER?!  Just checking it off the list bro, just checking it off the list. Sorry dog, almost took your girl.  Ahhh, the inside jokes abound. 
Above Mr. Adair attempts (that's right I said ATTEMPTS) Acid Wash (V.10).  He crushed the start but this low percentage bump move proved to be a little too cheeky for JA.  Miss this guy, look out for him Hollywood!

A random Asian person on Acid Wash Right (V.7)

The stunning East Couloir on Mt. Basin.  I talked and talked and talked about doing this thing for months and never sacked up and did it.  I'm such a punter.  I'll just have to come back (hopefully during a better snow year) and crush it.  Supposed to be one of the most classic ski descents in the entire range.

RJ philosophizing.  I hope I get to see this filthy little monkey again soon.  RJ kind of took over as one of my best climbing partners after the hordes of visitors left.  Not only did we work together but we also worked the same problems together, we lived together, and we had constant conversations about climbing, society, food, music, women, relationships, and friends and family.  Its hard to spend so much time around someone and then have them completely removed from your life.  I definitely miss RJ and I know this won't be the last or only time I get to climb with him.  RJ is a rare person so don't let the chain smoking or overall monkey-ish appearance scare you away, because he is also one of the nicest people you will meet and always willing to tell you the truth. 

The Sheila Proj!!!  Heavy hitters get your asses up here!  Not sure if the stand has been done yet, it felt around V.9ish, but the sit start is going to be quite the ordeal.  From the looks of it it adds a V.10 boulder into the V.9 stand, so maybe V.12??  hard to say, crimpy and dynamic, and very powerful. 

Working the stand to Sheila on a very nice day.

The massive Shock Therapy boulder.  Unknown climber on the boulder's namesake Shock therapy (V.8).

The crux snag of Shock Therapy.

Last day at the Druids.  A little send off couch session as the sun goes down. 

Church of the Lost and Found (V.3), a MUST MUST MUST do!  Laser cut arête, slippery little feet, amazing pinches and crimps, a beautiful line.

The Catacombs, just a crazy random set of corridor cut orange blocs with features that were made to climb on.  The camping is easy and the view is spectacular of course. 

How can you not love this place?  I kind of felt like I was in the middle of a John Steinbeck novel every time I gazed down across the wide expanses of the valleys and basins, hugged by the protruding ranges of light.

Jenny says 'I have to go all the way up THERE?!!'

Hard to put words to this one. 

Daniel on Fall Guy (V.9), he came back and sent and I am soooo jealous!  Fall Guy is one of the most perfect highballs in the Milks.  I was able to do the crux moves but I never had a chance to get back on it after the heat set in (which is a total punter of an excuse).

The Full Moon, anything can happen.  ANY-thing.

Milks sesh done!

Thought I'd throw a pic in there for the ladies.  Your welcome.  Totally photo-shopped.  I did a ton of running while I was in the high Sierra's and to this day remains one of my most favorite places to lose yourself in the rhythm of rubber on sun-baked soil. 
 

RJ climbing up the beautiful orange patina-ed wall of the Sleipnir boulder at the Druids. 
 
 
Fucking Tahoe.  This brilliant boulder is perched on a sandy hillside a half mile or so up from the Tahoe valley.  Pimp Juice (V.9), perfect?  Yes.  Another tough boulder that just got away from me.  Came down to the very last move which, after eight moves, turned out to be pretty damn tough.  Amazing boulder, amazing setting.  Kind of sums up Tahoe. 
 
This dude flew all the way out here from North Carolina just to get on one of the nicest V.7's out there, Wild Pack of Family Dogs (V.7) at the Beaver boulders.

I just had to climb at Lover's Leap.  Doing Bear's Reach (5.7, trad, 3p) was a sublime experience.  Meagan follows me up the first pitch of this super classic hand swallowing flake system.  The second pitch was absolutely the best pitch and as I started the ascent of the third a torrential down pour hit with conviction.  Soaking wet, scared, and cold (wearing nothing but a Super Sonics jersey) I shakily pulled over the tough mantle top out.  That's what I call a 'rest day'. 
 
RJ coming so close to destroying Red Vines (V.9) on his first go at the Freak Boulders.
 
Dave O embracing his quiet side on Pistachio Eater Low (V.9).  The one that got away!  The problem, not the guy.  PE Low is for lack of a better word, SICK.  Making powerful pulls out of a horizontal roof onto an overhanging bulge with small ticky tacky crimps is the embodiement of the climb.  I put it together with some key heel hook beta from Dave but kept powering out at the very last move!!  This was truly heartbreaking especially because I didn't know when I would be back again.  But, that's life sometimes.  At least I have some more incentive to return. 
 
 
The view from the start of the third pitch of the West Face of Cardinal Pinnacle (5.10a, trad, 3p).

The Cardinal Pinnacle.  Home of perfect granite, badass Peter Croft lines, amazing views, and a deliciously good time.

Jaryd rounds the bend at the end of the second pitch.  I had the pleasure of leading the second pitch of the West Face and it was quite the pitch.  Starting with some intense hands I finally came to a nice slab finger crack and then the crux, a big move out of a short overhang to a sweet highstep mantle around a corner.  Exposed and powerful, it was a great pitch.

Jaryd starts the third pitch which I thought was nails hard!  Heinous little finger crack with painful jams but the real treat was getting out of the finger crack and stepping into a lovely splitter hand crack that was just a joy to climb. 

Perfect day.

That's it.  That's all.
 
I’ve been back in Washington for a month now.  Thank god the weather has been nice.  If it had just been raining this entire time I think I would be suffering from some form of weather induced transitional PTSD.  I’m actually looking outside my window right now and the sun is out; it’s a comforting sight. 
I’m trying to think about how to approach writing about my last few months in Bishop.  I would like to write something profound and life changing for the people who waste their time reading this blog but I’m constantly doubting myself and wondering whether or not it’s worth it.  Providing you with a list of my accomplishments and extrapolating on the excuses behind my failures seems like a colossal waste of time for both of us. 
In the end, I look back on my time spent in Bishop this past season as one of the highlights of my life so far.  It was filled with disappointment, precariousness, and questionable choices; on the other hand it was also filled with beauty, laughter, and a concentrated intensity focused on living in the here and now that I have not felt for quite some time if ever.  I also had a very interesting realization about my love for climbing.  It’s got me, I don’t think I will ever stop and I have noticed that I make a lot of decisions from a climbing based approach.  It’s definitely a strange addiction; or rather a relationship. 
I initially moved to Bishop to get my life in order.  The job I accepted seemed to pay well and it looked like a good opportunity to save some money AND live in a place I love.  I was coming straight off of a very emotional situation in Alaska that only compounded and intensified itself when I had to leave a very special person in Seattle to move to Bishop.  My head was spinning.  I spent a lot of time (time that seemed to present itself in very odd ways over the course of the season) really focusing on what it is I want to do.  What can I be proud of?  What really matters to me in my life?  So in a sense I prioritized my life while I was in Bishop, but I don’t think I can say fully and honestly that I believe I have my shit together. 
I passed on some very attractive offers to guide in Alaska and in Africa in order to move back to Seattle.  For once I made a choice that is not completely selfish. 
While I would love to make a living this way it doesn’t seem plausible given the amount of things I would need to sacrifice in order to fully engage in and pursue this lifestyle.  Things I’m not willing to sacrifice.  I’m very happy and satisfied with my decision to move back ‘home’.  I have a little nephew and niece whose lives I really need to be a part of (hello, can you say future World Cup Climbing champions?? lead and bouldering of course), as well as a brother and a mother who I love endlessly.  I have no doubt that I could have made a career out of guiding but it would have meant cutting a large chunk of my family out of my life and I’m not willing to do that.  Besides, there are plenty of adventures to be had right here in my own backyard as well as a lot of traveling still to come. 
For now I’m searching feverishly for a job in Seattle (me and like five million other people).  My hope is to find a solid ‘well-paying’ job and to set up a home base in Seattle before eventually returning to school to pursue a degree in Nursing or to become a PA.  Just writing these things down gives me the willies.  I usually don’t like to proclaim my hopes and ambitions for the future, especially in writing.  It seems to me a tad arrogant, and at the same time opens a door for those things to fail.  However, lately, all I have to say about that is, fuck it.  I’ve got nothing to lose.