Wednesday, November 18, 2015



We are nearing the end of November.  And as the year 2015 draws to a close so does, unfortunately, our climbing season.  We were fortunate enough to have an incredibly extended season last year and into this year but the tables have turned this Fall and torrential down pours have greeted us here in the NW at every turn.  I don’t mind so much.  Last year was great but the weather never really presented me with the excuse I needed to truly take some time off to heal, recover, plan, scheme, and get into some other activities. 

Since I’ve been back from the Red I’ve felt this unquenchable need to get out and travel every weekend.  That has manifested itself into driving to Smith to struggle, crimp, cry, celebrate, and remember what the sun looks like (although even now as I write this the sun is shining outside my window illuminating the massive ship’s prows that lay in the Marina staring back at me).  I find myself getting torn between two different emotional states of mind.  One mind state is that psyched, ready to crush, ‘let’s send everything!’ type of mentality that drives me out of bed Saturday morning and keeps me going for the five hours it takes to drive to Smith.  The other mind state usually kicks in when I arrive at the park and feel the warmth of the sun on my neck and realize that I just drove five hours to get my ass kicked at a style I suck at in a place that scares me to death.  So you can see how it’s been kind of a mental struggle for me.  Although, in the end I love it.  I love the fact that I can hop in my car and drive a bit and find sun and dry rock, and a beautiful twisted river running through a valley filled with new challenges.  That’s why I keep coming back.  Smith offers me a different kind of perspective on climbing.  It’s so technical, slow, and calculated.  The holds are engrained in the rock and most of the climbing is so planar.  I can never really tell what holds are what and what the sequence is of anything.  It’s a style (for me) that takes a lot of time to really digest and get used to.  So every weekend I say it’s my last, and then I end up going back the next weekend.  And every time I’m there I complain about the crimps and the pockets, and the crockets (crimp+pockets) and how badly my toes hurt and how inflamed my skin is; yet during the work week all I can do is think about how much I want to feel those sensations again.  It all melts away when you think of the next epic route you want to tackle or how the sequence on the headwall goes, or how cool it is that every move on your project requires some kind of hand foot match or a double finger stack or the use of some miniscule polished slimper.  It’s quite brilliant. 


Fuck.  Training is so much better when your fingers are healed.  I just had my first session on the circuit board where I made up a bunch of four to five move boulder problems utilizing pinches, pockets, and small-ish incut crimps.  My main weakness is finger strength and power so as an introduction to this type of training I set mainly doable problems with focused lock offs and static movements on relatively good holds.  I’m psyched with how it went, being able to try really hard on crimps on a 35 is a good sign with no pain post work out. 

With healed fingers I’ve started to get a little bit more creative with my training schemes and I’m looking forward to bouldering more.  I know how to get endurance now, but I’m kind of lost when it comes to cultivating a raw base of power.  I’m also going to start campus boarding again very soon which I’m totally psyched about.  It’s been almost an entire year since I’ve set tips on a campus board and as a result my power is in the toilet.  My goals for next year dictate that I not only have a strong base of endurance but also a bulging sack of power (great route name BTW). 

Since I’ve been actually training for climbing for the last 13 months I feel as if I should have learned something by now, and I have, but the void of what I don’t know is overwhelmingly large at times. 

What I’ve learned is how to hang board consistently and beneficially.  I’ve also mastered the art of the ARC, so my endurance, recovery, and my strength feel pretty high.  On the down side my finger strength has really suffered due to injuries and not really training crimp or pocket strength.  I have also not been bouldering consistently at all so while I have some power the majority of what I used to have is gone and not being able to campus board, circuit board, limit boulder, or do weighted dead hangs on small holds has noticeably taken its toll. 

I like to re-evaluate what I’ve done at the end of every season to highlight my weaknesses but also to realize what I’ve done right.  I know several people who have plateaued and always question why it is they aren’t simply soaring through the grades anymore.  I also know a few people who refuse to change what they do and end up becoming stagnant and injured.  I want neither of these fates and look to continual improvement and new strategies to accomplish this with an open mind. 

Winding down a long season like the one we just had is always kind of a struggle.  Like these last few Smith trips I wear the desperation of knowing the season is coming to an end like a tree with pale leaves facing a wind storm.  Soon to be disrobed and left bare to face my problems in the oncoming Winters’ cold and rain.  I’m trying to stave off the fact that I will soon only have the gym to climb in, not even a Bishop trip to get all horny about.  But I’m optimistic and somewhat excited about the predicament of being able to focus solely on getting stronger and more intelligent when it comes to my climbing.


What will 2016 bring?  Who the fuck knows.  I could be training in the gym and blow a shoulder out or tear a tendon and then the best laid plans of mice and men…

But I do have tick lists of course.  Unfortunately I won’t be heading to Spain anymore.  I’m disappointed it didn’t come together but I’m not worried.  When I go I want it to be a really good experience and I want to be ready.  I see a Europe trip on the horizon in some shape or form. 

In the meantime there is so much climbing to be done right here in Washington it boggles the mind.  Some of the crags I wish to visit more frequently or at least once are Deep Creek, Newhalem, Split Rock, and Washington Pass.  A lot of development has gone down in these places over the last few years and some very high quality and difficult sport climbs have been added to the tick list.  I would also like to get out to World Wall 2 and get my power endurance on.  And of course when the Fall rolls around I have another RRG trip planned.  I can see myself going back to the Red every year for quite some time.  I love that place.  But I would also like to mix it up a bit and become a better boulderer.  I haven’t been to Leavenworth in years, and it used to be my usual haunt.  In fact Leavenworth is solely responsible for me falling in love with bouldering and eventually moving to Bishop so I could focus on that discipline (oh yeah and live in a beautiful place blah blah blah).  One of my goals for the next year is to send a V.11 and nab a handful of solid V.10’s.  Mixing bouldering in with my sport climbing I hope will be beneficial to both. 

These are nice goals to think about but the grand daddy goal of them all is of course going to be sending Pornstar.  I will probably dedicate more time to this goal than any other in hopes of coming one step closer to my ultimate goal of sending 5.14. 

My Life

In case anybody is still reading and/or still interested my life has sunken into an unavoidable rut.  I work a dead-end job that I don’t particularly have any interest in.  While at said job I dream of doing meaningful work that also allows me to chase my true love and indulge my selfish need to climb rocks all over the globe.  The financial comfort and the stability of this job has kept me where I am.  Don’t get me wrong either, I am fully aware and grateful for how lucky I am to work in a place that is flexible about my schedule, offers me health insurance, paid time off, and is 10 minutes away from where I live.  But there has to be a way to get all of this AND enjoy what I do. 

On a previous trip to Smith I had a good conversation with a friend of mine who let me in on what he was planning to do in his life.  His situation mirrors mine in several ways and his plan to escape the monotony of it was also a mirror of what I am planning.  He expressed his boredom with his job and his goal of going back to school after a few more years of saving and working.  I’m on the exact same plan and timeframe, the only difference between us is that he’s eight years younger than me.  Sometimes I view my age as a hazard.  But I know that’s a fallacy.  When I was in grad school there were people of all ages in my program, one of which was a woman in her late 50’s who went on to graduate and now writes and runs a very popular blog about honey bees.  The obvious point being that school will always be there, opportunity will always be there.  Will the motivation? 


Monday, November 16, 2015

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Shouting Out an Open Window Between Two Worlds

Let us begin.
It's quite easy to lose ALL of your finger strength when you go to the Red, if you're not careful that is. 
My two week trip to the Red River Gorge was amazing.  Returning from a trip like that to the usual hum drum of everyday life as a desk-jockey was incredibly difficult.  But I settled back into a routine fairly quickly.  My only regret from the trip was not taking more pictures to highlight exactly what we spent our time doing, but you can already guess we did a lot of climbing.  Out of the thirteen days we were there, we climbed ten of those days.  I was surprised after the first day at how well I felt on the steep jug hauls and the massive sea of holds that spread out before me on every single climb I got on.  I managed to flash and onsight three routes 5.11c – 5.12a on my first day and it was a good indicator to me that this might be a totally different trip from the last season.  And it was. 
Justin on the bouldery start to Banana Hammock (5.12a)
Justin starting up the 100ft face of Banana Hammock (5.12a), first day in the gorge.
The focus of the trip shifted from hard redpoints to enjoyable onsight climbing.  We literally would just have days where we would go to a crag with several 3-5 star lines in the 5.12a-5.12c range and just try to onsight as many as we could.  My training matched up perfectly for this endeavor and I ended up breaking a lot of mental barriers I had around onsight climbing during this trip.  Plus I managed to snag a quick ascent of Spank (5.13a) the only semi-difficult route I tried (the other being 40oz of Justice and let’s just say, I’ll need a little more time for that one). 
Me onsighting Witness the Citrus (5.11c), quite possibly the most fun rock climb I've ever done. 
Another major difference from my first time at the Red was that this trip we rented a cabin to stay in.  It was fantastic and the first couple of days I was just psyched to have a beautiful place to come home to at the end of the climbing day (plus a hot tub, shower, kitchen, bed, and flat screen).  We ended up sampling three of the other cabins they had to offer because the initial cabin they put us up in had a minor wasp infestation.  But we kept our heads up and let them move us around from one five star cabin to the next.  As long as it had a hot tub (and no wasps) we were good to go. 
The savior of our evenings, introducing the Kentucky Hot Tub.
Our first cabin.  Affectionately referred to as 'The Hive'.
The manket (mank blanket) sitting in the valley.
Cooking breakfast and getting ready for a day of climbing.
Trees outside of our fourth and final cabin. 
During this trip I kind of fell in love with the Red.  Or maybe I fell in love with not having to work every day; and instead being able to take my time in the mornings, go climb beautiful things, and just savor the feeling of being truly happy and putting time into something that I love and that makes me feel alive. 
Justin coming down from a stout one hang of The Madness (5.13c)
I came to the RRG with two minor (yet nagging) finger injuries and when I left they were both healed completely.  Sometimes endless jug swimming can be perfect rehab for tweaky fingers.  I think what I’m most psyched about was near the end of the trip I fell into a good groove.  I started to learn how to read the rock better, how to rest, how to anticipate cruxes and how to paddle through the easy yet sustained parts.  I didn’t put up any impressive numbers but I broke through a major mental barrier and got to sample a ton of classic moderates and onsight most of them.  You never feel as if you have enough time at the Red (unless you’re European), and it was no different this time around.  There is simply too much to do and it’s almost all fantastic.  Trips like these highlight an important conundrum for me, which I think every climber must face and that is: do you go for volume?  Or, work a handful of routes to death and try to come away with some hard sends??  I still don’t know the answer to this one. 
View from the deck at 'The Majestic', the second cabin we stayed at.
What I do know is that when I returned from the Red I was exhausted, physically and mentally.  And I was NOT psyched to be back on the work grind.  To make matters worse there was nothing but rain in the forecast.  This made Little si a very un-attractive date, so I drove down to Smith Rocks instead. 
Climbers making the journey back over Asterisk pass after a long day of climbing.
I knew steep jugs were a perfect lead up to crimpy slab climbs so of course I thought I would have the best Smith Trip of my life.  Ha!  WRONG, obviously.  We escaped the threat of rain and pulled into the Smith parking lot to sun and warmth!  Psyched!  Until I realized that I was quite inept to tackle this style of climbing.  Where had my endurance gone??  Sheesh!  It was like learning how to climb all over again.  Where were the endless jug rails and feet galore??  Where was the bad technique and endless resting spots?  UGH.  You mean I actually have to have good footwork?  You mean I actually have to pay attention to the holds I’m putting my feet on?  You’re telling me I have to learn ‘sequences’?? Why are there so many crimps on this route!!!?? YUK! 

The first day at Smith was rough, to say the least.  I actually felt really good on the warm up and then tried some obscure 5.12b and completely failed, hang dogging at the first sequence and then eventually ripping a hold off the wall.  TAKE!  LOWER!!  I was not psyched.  I spent the remainder of Saturday running laps on Cool Ranch flavor with a side bar stint on Churning to remember the beta.  Defeated and deflated we headed to home base (Steven’s new house!) and settled our emotions over beer and conversation.

Gus attempting the iconic arête test piece Chain Reaction (5.12c)
Sunday started out a bit shaky as well with a warm up in the rain and then a blown flash attempt on Flat Earth.  Another somewhat obscure little contrivance next to Heinous Cling, which if you were to look at one and then the other you would surely think someone got drunk again and decided they needed to waste a few bolts in order to sober up.  But don’t get me wrong, Flat Earth is worth a visit but maybe only one.  I was glad to send second try, although a bit shakily and almost coming off at a large over the head cross over move.  It was nice to have something gin the bank even though I wouldn’t have brought this route home to momma.  I wanted to try something beautiful and fun and somewhat challenging and everyone had suggested a route named Vision.  A stunning little arête that beckoned to be climbed.  I had never tried it nor had I ever seen anyone on it so here it was, a chance to nab my first Smith 5.12 onsight.  I was having a crummy trip already so I didn’t have any expectation that the outcome of this endeavor would be any different.  I just climbed and told myself that this time I was going to hang on until the route decided to spit me off and not the other way around. 

My first 'Smith' 5.12 onsight, and what a route to have it on!  Vision (5.12b) is one of the best routes in the park and came highly recommended by nearly everyone I spoke to that day.  Needless to say I was pretty psyched.

And it worked!  I felt pretty goddamned dialed on the entire route.  There was never a moment where I hesitated or felt scared, I just kind of used my frustration to empty my mind and hang on.  I also realized that to climb well at Smith you really only need to do two things: 1) Have strong fingers, for sure.  2) TRUST YOUR FEET!!.  The big difference on Vision, and ultimately what lead to me clipping the chains on the onsight, was that I just made up my mind to trust my feet no matter how shitty or rubber stained they were.  Lowering down I was as happy as a pig in the mud with a bowl of soggy cheerios.  Nobody ever wants to get smacked down on a route, or humbled by an entire crag but it makes the victories taste so much more sweet.

Driving five hours to escape the rain and pulling up to this was complete validation.
Afterwards we had little time left and we kind of milled about morning glory wall trying to decide what to end the trip on.  Our decision was made for us when every single line was suddenly taken and I suggested we try this route called Time for Power, a majestic and mega looking line that you can see from the trail.  It starts on a crumbly 5.10a jug haul that terminates immediately at some of the most bomb-proof red rock I have ever climbed on.  The red rock portion is a heinous slab with some of the most hateful  hand holds I personally have ever had to use.  I’ve used better FOOT holds on 5.12c before.  I managed to onsight the slab which I was EXTREMELY pleased with but it was definitely sketchy and scary.  I got a good no hands shake at the top of the slab and then the angle starts to kick back and the climb goes from heinous slab to overhanging monkey climbing.  I pulled a few moves into the overhanging headwall and latched a big jug rail.  At this point I thought surely the cruxes were over and I would just have to do some resistance climbing on big holds to the top.  No problem!  Well, except for one thing.  The last crux.  I shook out for what seemed like ages on this jug rail going back and forth and trying to figure out beta for the next section of the climb.  There were obvious holds but they were so scattered it was like putting a puzzle back together after someone had used dynamite to disassemble it.  I felt like a tiger in the zoo pacing ominously back and forth trying to reach into the depths of my mind to figure out a gory escape from my man-made prison.  I finally gave one last shake, decided on a plan, and went for it.  Holy fuck, it’s working!!  I was almost there, almost had my first 5.12c onsight in the bag!!  I made a big move out to a left hand gaston crimp.  Staggered my feet up to the jug rail and reached slowly out to what I was banking on to be a good pinch.  I grabbed the pinch statically and the first thing that ran down my spine was shock and terror.  The pinch that was supposed to signal the end of this crux was god awful. Slopey and greasy I panicked.  My eyes darted all over the chalkboard for the answer.  I spotted a small incut crimp above and moved my right hand to snag it before I could…barn…door…and I’m off.  Fuck me.  One more move and I would have been in a monster pocket jug.  I pulled through the crux and did some extremely fun hero jug pulling to the top.  What a climb.  What a fucking great climb!  I was disappointed not to get it on the first go, especially since I have to do that horrendous slab again, but I can’t be disappointed to end the trip on such an epic rig. 

God bless you Smith. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Moment

Okay then. I guess it’s time to go to the Red.  I tried to prepare myself for the massively overhanging jug hauls, the endless rests, the terror of pumping out on jugs, the 30 minute paddlefests, the ab-busting boink-fests, falling into the abyss, gritty sandstone, spectral colors, and Miguels pizza. 

See you all in two weeks.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Wasps, Bats, Spiders, Snakes, and Ladybugs

The lunar eclipse.

Okay, so the title of this entry is a little misleading, technically there were no snakes involved. 

The wildlife at Little si has been exploding, and I’m not just talking about the strange creatures that resemble humans you tend to see waddling up the ‘trail’.  The wall is teeming with arthropodian action as an orgiastic winged and multi-legged circus of life and death parades around the various cracks and crevices of the great white behemoth that is world wall.  Hordes of wasps looking to breed and feast in order to proliferate into the future and survive the Winter are buzzing about the sunny side of the cliff, while hungry female spiders have been planting finely tuned traps to capture the last gasp of buzzing fury from the tepid pools of September rain water.  Ladybugs numbering in the hundreds coat the upper walls, beetling about, pausing to gesticulate here and there, wandering about the chaotic pheromone trails that will eventually lead to nothing or a six legged lover in a dotted suit of armor.  Roosting bats disturbed before their nocturnal exuberances release a hiss that sounds like the gas escaping from a pressurized cylinder, baring teeth at any wayward fingers that might come poking into their lairs. 


It is twice now that I have yet to fully complete my warm up due to the number of wasps comingling on the upper holds of Technorigine.  Several people have been stung already this early Fall season and one of my friends has even taken a spider bite.  I was skeptical of his story until the other day when I literally saw enormous black and grey banded spiders that resembled she-lob from LOTR raining from the sky.  I suffered a severe nip of shock when I felt a small pinch on my exposed side and looked down to see one of these hideously stupendous creatures clinging to me.  I did the calm and manly patient pantomiming of a Chinese cartoon character on fire and after ridding my bodice of the arachnid proceeded to turn a shade of pale that any virginal bride would be envious of.  It’s one thing to be in awe of the mechanical mysticism's of the insectoid world, quite another to have that spiny world molest your love handles unexpectedly. 

North Bend


It has become almost a daily occurrence now to hear the screeching of disturbed bats emanating from the deep fissures of the hardened rhino rock.  Like the screams of small furry near-sighted mental patients in some kind of granitic prison their shrieks of displeasure can be quite unsettling, especially when one is on the sharp end and the rock appears to hissing at you for no apparent reason.  The less traveled extensions are a popular haunt for these small rabies ridden creatures.  Austin, working his way up Extendorigine literally came face to face while searching for a hold amidst the scattered mini-roofs of this line with a very displeased bat.  It screetched at him to stay away and while that didn’t work it started to bare its teeth at him (I’m sure all the while foaming at the mouth and whipping up a frenzy of rabies concentrated hate). 

All of this to say, be careful out there. 

Here is the weekly ledge-life run down.  Saturday: was a shit show.  There were A LOT of people on the ledge and it was cold, wet, and overcast.  We were basically climbing in a cloud of mank all day.  Mank is a term we use to describe greasy/humid/unfavorable conditions, not something you can usually see visually with your eyeballs, however on this day you could actually observe the mank wafting through the valley and saturating our space with its moist affect.  With that being said the rock was real cold and the mank did not stay, it merely danced and swayed around us, kissing us from time to time, and then left.  It was pretty hard to keep the fingers warm.  I sat around and waited for quite some time between each burn to get on my desired climb.  While frustrating it was also kind of nice to have some forced rests between burns.  I think it did me some good, one hanging Extended Illness never felt so easy and getting a new high point on Pornstar (and then blowing the one hang by centimeters!!) was very exciting.  It was slightly depressing to see how wet the crag had become after a small downpour the night before.  There was almost no place to sit that would accommodate a dry bum, and a lot of the shoulder routes were wet and some of the harder main lines threatened to seep.  As the evening progressed the clouds cleared and a brilliant dark blue ascended promising a drier following day.

The rest,

Man I sure do loves me some good resting.

This hold is lovingly referred to as 'the butterdish'.

The last boulder on this rig is delicate, powerful, technical, and quite brilliant.

Sunday: was gorgeous.  The crowds had scattered leaving the wall free and clear, the sun shone bright, and the air temps were quite nice.  Much easier to keep the fingers warm between burns.  Being scared off the last few moves of Techno by our hymenopteran friends I lowered and immediately got on Psycho to continue warming up.  I made it to the top of Softliner camera in tow and snapped a few shots of Justin on Enigma.



Getting into the nasty compression sequence on crimps and sidepulls.  This route looks brilliant!!

I gave Extended my obligatory send burn of the day and actually came closer than I have before.  I keep getting spit off by pump and small foot holds.  Every time I try to get my feet high to set up for a big bump to a small crimp I get all bunched up and my bulging forearms just can’t keep me from peeling off this small incut sidepull.  But I garnered the one hang again (grumble grumble)

I managed to talk Justin into taking some photos of me trying Pornstar.  I don’t really have any photos of me climbing at World Wall so it was nice to be in the other side of the camera for a change.  I’m also incredibly narcissistic so I really just wanted to know if I look like as a big of a chuff puff as I feel.  You can judge for yourself.

Pornstar felt incredible, even though I was a bit tired.  I fought my way to the usual stopping point and then managed to move into a rest at the start of the penultimate crux, copping a heel hook and striking into new ground.  Another highpoint!  But my heel ripped off unexpectedly and I fell before being able to make the first moves of the last crux.  Happy and bummed at the same time I pulled back on and knew the one hang was in the bag but messed up the crux sequence and fell.  Oh well, the two hang is still a colossal step forward.  I did the crux sequence and it felt pretty damn good to latch that victory jug.  This route is perfect in every way and I’m increasingly optimistic that it could go soon.  If the weather stays nice it could go this weekend (maybe overly optimistic??).  But it doesn’t look like the weather cards are being dealt favorably to our corner.  Every 7 day forecast I look at for North Bend has large amounts of precip in the forecast.  And usually the long range forecasts move up a bit as time passes.  For instance, I’m looking at the forecast today (Monday), and it says North Bend will get close to an inch on Saturday.  However, in my experience , what this really means, is that by this Wednesday the forecast will probably look more like Rain on Thursday and continuing until forever.  The price of being a weekend warrior is usually paid in frustration and bitter resentment towards the weather gods.  And while the Red beckons with a long slender finger from a dark candle-lit room, these projects at Little si are just starting to click!  Oh the conundrum!!  I’m sure as soon as I return from my trip everything at Little si (save Chronic) will be dripping wet and seeping like an emotionally shallow teenage girl at the end of The Notebook. 
I'm sure I'm being dramatic here, but this will probably be the last 'good' day at World Wall.  We'll just have to see what November brings.  In any event, it has been a crazy, magical, emotional, laughter-filled year at this crag.  I've met some incredibly intelligent, sincere, strong, and genuine people over the last 14 months.  I've climbed Chronic a total of 26 times now, went through countless bags of 'dead hamsters'(aka cookies), drank the equivalent of what a small Bavarian town goes through in a night's worth of beer, thrown wobblers, screamed with joy, overcame crippling fears of failure, made the impossible possible, and reinforced time and time again my undying, unyielding, unwavering devotion to climbing rock. 
“The use only of our bodies for work or love or pleasure, or even for combat, sets us free again in the wilderness, and we exult” –W. Berry

Monday, September 28, 2015

Open Season

In the fading light of yet another day we walked down the drying dirt path, surrounded by transforming green.  Moss drenched limbs of big leaf maples cracked and weaved through the panoply of our view and the vanilla cream of the baby blue sky now turned a rosy hue as it died behind the curtain of the horizon.  The weight of my pack was unnoticeable as I gazed over my shoulder at the disappearing memory of the day’s events.  The air was crisp and clean, and it made me feel buoyant in a way, energized, renewed.  It breathes life into an otherwise humid and decomposing environment.  This season, Autumnal in all of its glory, is my favorite.  It is both simultaneously inviting and repelling.  It awakens and sedates.  The burst of cold clarity that comes with the shadows of this time of year is also met with a kind of warmth that is different from the heavy dragging heat of the summer. 

This past weekend was really the first true weekend of the Fall.  Climbing temps could not be any better.  While we were bundled up on the ledge, waiting our turn, the climbers who were engaged in battle were shedding layers quickly and commenting on how good everything felt.  This is the time of year we spend all summer forgetting about and secretly training for.  When it finally arrives crazy unexpected breakthroughs happen, and projects get sent.  It was no different this past weekend, a sort of opening weekend in a sense.  I declare an open season on projects at World Wall.  I haven’t seen Californicator, Propaganda, and Technorigine get gang banged so hard, probably ever.  Nothing super hard to report, but a lot of breakthroughs. 

For me personally, I made a highpoint on my project Pornstar, and then in the same burn, after a couple of hangs, I sent the crux which I have never been able to do.  Sending temps indeed.  I have now completed all of the moves on Pornstar.  So psyched!  It will take a while before it’s primed for good sending burns (or rather I’m primed) but I’ve got nothing but time.  Enigma is also getting worked over pretty hard.  Justin and Kevin have been putting the screws to this masterpiece and just yesterday Kevin completed about 65-70% of the route on link falling just short of the ‘enigma’ move.  When he came down from his burn I turned to him and said, “This past year has been all about breaking through barriers and tearing down walls.  Things that have classically been deemed ‘too hard to try’ or ‘out of our pay grade’ have now been put on the project list, and some serious links have been made.”  Kevin is blazing some pretty impactful trails lately, he also stuck one of the crux moves on the Whore of Babylon, has been repeating Flatliner consistently and easily and also working Lost Horizons and has also done all of the moves on Pornstar and has made significant links on that route as well.  He’s basically opened four projects from .13d to .14b for himself.  Not bad.  Not a weekend has gone by lately where I haven’t seen someone sending their project, whether it’s been Techno, Californicator, Propaganda, or Psychosomatic (the Quartet as I call it).  And just the other day we saw some old Spanish dude fall just short of onsighting Technorigine after questing super hard through it’s powerful and technical cruxes.  Very inspiring. 

As the sun dances its way up the black and tan rhino rock the hordes of wasps (the fallout from a particularly bad winter) chase its warmth higher and higher until it disappears entirely and they retreat to their enclaves.  I warmed up on Techno, it was gloriously bathed in sunlight, and as I approached the final sequence I glanced up and noticed 7-8 wasps darting in out of the cracks and crevices that make up the final holds.  As they swirled around my head and legs I opted out of a WWE-esque smackdown with the hymenopteran horde and plunged into the shade escaping any kind of venomous retribution. 

I made it home late Sunday evening.  As I drove west on I-90 I noticed several groups of people standing on the overpasses that lace through the streamlined interstate.  They were all looking east and as I drove home in a somewhat sedated fashion I thought nothing of it.  I pulled up to my house and stepped out of the car, approaching the front door with my arms full and my backpack sagging off one shoulder.  I heard the voice of my roommate, his room located on the second story, his window just above the front stoop of our house.  “Hey man, check out the moon.”  I swiveled and swirled in the middle of the street straining to see something amazing.  “Look east.” He said.  I turned my gaze east, and faintly, just barely there, I could make out the outline of a dim shadow of where the moon should be.  It was as if a strong merlot had been dumped on the satin surface of the moon and it now sported a darkening black eye of liquid red amber.  Later that night, deep in sleep, I had a dream within a dream.  My first dream was a stressful ordeal, I had been awakened by something other than my alarm but to my total disbelief it was already 10:00 in the morning and well past when I usually get to the office.  I remember a feeling of overwhelming discontent and unease.  I eventually snapped awake, but inside of another dream.  I was in my old house in Colorado where I had lived as a pre-teen and teen.  I don’t remember the details very well but I eventually sat in a stairwell, my knees up to my chest and my arms hugging them, and started to cry.  Uncontrollably, a great oppressive feeling of sadness permeated this dream.  I did eventually wake up, in real time.  My alarm had not gone off for some reason even though my phone was telling me that I had set it.  Bizarrely, I had woken up one minute after it was supposed to go off. 


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Ant That Ate the Elephant

I just wanted to say, I’ve really been enjoying rock climbing lately.  I had a really amazing day out just over a week ago and it was one of those days that filled me with excitement, motivation, and intrigue.  For some reason, I was just filled with energy.  I didn’t manage to send anything on my tick list but it didn’t matter.  It was one of those days where even in failure there was some feeling of success.  I think this happens when you know you have given yourself over completely to the climb and you managed to leave it all on the table in terms of effort.  Which I did.  I love days like these, because it fills me with that passion and reminds me why I love the art of climbing.  Grades, quandaries, ego; they all melt away and what you’re left with is this intense focus; climbing becomes an outlet for your unique way of interpreting life.  Climbing has constantly instilled me with a sense of wonder as well.  Nothing could have been clearer to me as I waded through the adventure climbing on Extendorigine.  It made me realize that for one, I haven’t been on new terrain in a LONG time, and two, there is nothing more exhilarating, nothing more bubbling over with life than launching headlong into the abyss of the unknown. 

 Last week was the one year anniversary of my first 5.13 send.  I didn’t really dwell on it very much, but it is a neat feeling to now be dissecting and envisioning a new challenge.  Something that I really never thought would be a reality for me.  I’ve started working a route called Pornstar.  It, in my humble opinion, represents the standard of hard climbing at Little si, and quite possibly Washington (and yes I know there are WAY harder routes here).  I’m certainly not close to sending, but I’m also not flailing.  I deserve to be on this route which is a very exciting feeling, but I also have a long way to go before all the pieces are aligned for a send.  For now, my goal is to just start making high points and to take down the crux at the top which I have not done yet. 

Lisa Chulich on 'Hang It Out To Dry'(5.12b)
 The route basically consists of four boulder problems.  The first is the techno crux, and I won’t go into detail here because I’m sure the majority of you reading this have actually done it or warm up on it. 

 The meat of the climb begins off a massive sidepull jug.  This is the second boulder problem.  You traverse left using an undercling and a sloper making a big move first to a sidepull slot and then to a good crimp rail  You match the crimp rail and reach to a good LH pinch sidepull.  From this sidepull you make a massive span up and right to a good texture less slot.  You then make a hand heel match with some footwork trickery and lock off to a good LH incut sidepull.  You bump the right hand up the crack/seam a bit more and then stab for a monster jug.  This second boulder problem is roughly V.5 and is easily my favorite bit of climbing on this wall so far.

Bishop 2010
The third boulder problem (and the shorter people do this section WAY different than I do) begins when you leave the jug and come out to some good crimps, you set up for a massive (almost a dyno) move to a LH sloper sidepull, which you have to lock off and bring the RH to a palm down open gaston, then the LH goes to a good undercling sloper.  You clip off of this and move out right to a good crimp and a good blocky sloper.  This boulder is probably V.4, it’s not a lot of moves but the moves it does have are powerful and punchy. 

Discovery Park WFR class
 From these two holds you have to generate some sort of a rest because here is where the fourth and final boulder problem awaits.  Reaching out left you grab what is affectionately referred to as the ‘butter dish’, because it is small and slopey and usually greasy and has zero texture.  Walking your feet through to the left you make a hard snatch up right to a full pad side pull.  Using some heinous compression strength you have to squeeze really hard and get your RF up to the blocky sloper you were just resting on, turn your RH sidepull into an undercling, match feet, and then slowly and strenuously stand up and bring the LH all the way across the body and up into a sort of pocket crimp undercling.  This undercling isn’t any good at first, but once you twist your body to the right and drop your hip in you start to stand up into the undercling.  Grabbing a shitty slimper with the RH you adjust on the undercling, and then make one more powerful, life-draining stab to the holy shit victory jug at the top.  Route over!  The last crux is somewhere in the V.6/7 range (the shorties say 7 while a lanky French dude said 6).  I still have not been able to execute this last sequence but I haven’t really sieged it yet either. 

Infinite Bliss
 My highpoint so far is falling just short of the final crux sequence.  I know, it doesn’t sound promising now, but the route is starting to feel easier and easier at the beginning.  It’s a process, an undertaking, a decision.  A colony of ants has to eat the dead elephant carcass one bite at a time, even though there are millions of them, and one of him.  The route is my elephant carcass because it’s stationary, static, unchanging, a concrete obstacle.  But my brain is like the millions of members of a hungry ant colony; all moving autonomously, but making uniformed decisions, adapting, slowly pecking away at this challenge until I gain the knowledge, muscle memory, and confidence to put it down. 

 All I know is that so far, every time I try the route I feel good.  I feel like trying hard, I feel like it brings who I truly am out of me, out of some kind of ether that floats around me at all times but I don’t quite utilize to its full potential.  And I think, I hope, that’s why we all want to climb hard routes or boulders.  We all try to look for ourselves inside of these routes, these stationary paradigms, these eternal alters of the mind. 

 Mt. Adams

 Camp Muir


What’s on the horizon for me?  Well, the good news is that my finger injury has nearly run its course, hallelujah!!  Every training session, rehab session, outdoor climbing session, it has felt better and better.  I just had my first ‘real’ power endurance training session yesterday and it went quite well.  I’m constantly impressed by the setting at Stone Gardens.  The problems there are of such high caliber in my opinion.  I don’t think you can find a better set of technical, powerful, thought provoking, aesthetically pleasing boulders anywhere in this state.  Really psyched to have this place to train at.  They recently re-set the 45 and stacked it with powerful V.5’s one right next to the other.  SO, for my PE cycle I have been trying to link all of the V.5’s on this wall into each other.  YIKES!  It’s hard, really hard.  But, it’s also a mesmerizing challenge and one that intimidates and motivates me.  As far as my goals for the next month, well, they boild down to trying to get insanely good at overhaning jug hauls in preparation for the Red, and sending a project I’ve been working off and on for the last eight months.  Extended Illness represents the last of the attainable 5.13’s at Little si (besides the three I have left to do, Black Is All We Feel, Hadley’s Roof, and Oval Orifice).  It’s been a very persnickety process.  I’ve failed at finding the correct way of using the monster no hands kneebar rest just before the crux so instead I’ve opted to just climb my way through the rests and try to send the crux on link.  I get a few good shakes in the underclings but for the most part it’s just coming down to raw fitness.  I’ve one hung this rig several times but everytime I go for the link on point I just completely lose it in the crux.  It will come down to sheer determination and a lot of good breathing. 



Mt. Rainier

Sitka Sound


*On a side note: as for the whole perma-draw situation; I would just like to note that Luke has changed out the draws on Psychowussy, from the ‘franken-draws’ to some really nice looking grey banded steeltecs that clip well and look very streamlined.  This whole discussion about what to equip, when to equip it, and why has given me some good perspective, new and old.  For this crag, seeing as how there are so many extensions off both Abo and Psycho it makes sense to have these two bottom lines equipped as well, especially when it’s done properly and the equipment used is minimal and aesthetic.  I would like to thank everybody who has put time and money into making (and maintaining) World Wall One a safer and more enjoyable crag.  Justin has glued the creaking horn on Chronic, a few rusty and sketchy looking bolts have been replaced on Chronic and Abo, a few climbers have gone up Extendorigine and done some cleaning.  Erich Sachs has been working feverishly to connect the dots between psychosomatic and pornstar as well as placing a new bolt to link black ice into the top portion of lost horizons; adding a couple of new challenges and hard linkups.  It seems as if everyone is making a concerted effort to keep World Wall up to date and open for new developments. *