Saturday, April 22

Pacha Video

New one from EpicTV, a little taste of my process on Pachamama through the lens of Tara Kerzhner this last winter. The footage is entirely from my first round of attempts on the route but there's a clip from the actual day I sent as well. Along with frighteningly cute farm animals and my ill advised attempt at a mustache. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 16

Portal

Well here I am again. El Portal. My preferred neighborhood cafe as the staff is friendly and the wi-fi is okay. The coffee is acceptable but nothing outstanding. We came here almost daily during the winter. We would wear our down jackets inside and fight for the seat next to the dull heater. Last time I sat at this restaurant I was freezing and mostly heart broken. I feel quite differently now.

Today, a spring breeze whips through the narrow streets and gives life to the colorful drying laundry of this charming little village. The warmth in the air is so calming and pleasant. It's Easter - a huge holiday in Spain - and the town is bustling. Traffic clogs the main street as vacationers sprint to Andorra and search for picnics necessities at the Sunday market. The sun's rays are intense and white and come from high in the sky.

I feel grateful, I feel accomplished, my heart is full, the sun is shining. Life ebbs and flows doesn't it?



My process with Pachamama has ended. I did the route within a week of my return to Spain. It felt surreal to sit at the anchors, to realize something that for weeks and weeks I was obsessed and overwhelmed with desire to have. The moment I sent was calm. I yelled mostly to tell my belayer, 50 meters below, that I had clipped the anchor but I didn't so much feel the need to yell from relief or excitement. It was a strangely tranquil experience. Almost like, ' huh, well, here I am. This is the moment.' Not to say that I was not or am not excited. It was biggest, most powerful battle of my climbing life - without question. But I guess the finish, while hugely important to me, was also just a small piece of the experience. I imagine I will look back on this for my whole life. Silly... rock climbing.. huh.




Momentum has been a powerful ally to me for years. It's rare that I let a send, no matter how big, completely derail my stoke. I know that I've usually only got five weeks or so to perform at my very best and I don't want to waste it. I immediately moved to the right onto 'Jo Mama' 15a, a power endurance masterpiece with few resting positions and resistant cruxes throughout. Just some days later I had already sent. I never would dream that I could climb this grade so quickly, ever. The conditions suited me perfectly - warmer with wind - and my power endurance is likely at an all time high after the month at Potosi and some hard days on Pachamama. Still it seems unreal. For me there is at least 1 grade of difference between these two routes. Perhaps it just worked out?



As with before I've moved right along. This time to a much different style. 'Chaxi' 15a is bouldery and savage. Some great resting positions but also some very serious boulder problems high on the wall. I have a feeling this one will not let itself go as easily... time to get snappy. Onward!

This week expect a full account of my process on 'Pachamama' that I wrote for the Arcteryx Blog and also look out for the release of my Pachamama film that I made with the awesome Tara Kerzhner to be released on EpicTV.



Tuesday, March 21

Potosi

My first time climbing at Mt Potosi was in 2011. I drove down to Las Vegas in January with my good friend Chris Weidner - my first time to Sin City - and we gratefully crashed on the couch of Heather Robinson. As it seems almost every crag (save the Red) has its moments of popularity and subsequently its moments of obscurity - during this time Potosi was definitely en vogue. Professor Bill Ramsey was battling wet holds, Heather was prime to make her first 13d redpoint, and a grip of other Vegas locals happily enjoyed 'The Beach' (with the winter sun low in the sky, the cave remained in the shadow while the belays were cooking in the sun). I climbed 'Mon Pote Assis', 'Hold Your Fire' and 'Power Windows' among a few others. I enjoyed the scene and the community. While this specific cave did not speak to me in particular, the long days with the crew at this zone helped convince me to radically extend my trip to Vegas that year and eventually call this place a second home.





When I returned to the wall the next winter, I had a different experience. I tried a few different harder routes over a couple days and was utterly shut down. So damn steep, so many drilled pockets. It was not encouraging or motivating. In general, two of my least favorite forms of climbing are roofs, and heavily manufactured routes. While it would be unfair to claim the Clear Light Cave at Mt Potosi is nothing but said forms of climbing, at the very least it exhibits a lot of this. With a bruised ego and trembling biceps I swore off Potosi in search of greener grasses.

Engulfed with a myriad of other surrounding radical limestone areas, I would stay busy and overly stoked for the next five winters. Why I was eventually called back to Mt Potosi, I am not entirely sure, but reflecting on the last month there I am so freakin grateful.

So, why? Why go back to a zone that in many ways I detested? I shit talked Potosi over beers too many times to count. It felt so gratifying to hate this drilled up place that had kicked my ass. It's undeniable that Potosi is heavily manufactured, a detail that made the area famous at the turn of the century and was a central point of argument surrounding the topic. So why did I venture back and furthermore what about this place did I enjoy?




For the last several years, I've either been training my ass off or trying climbs at my limit. While that did produce, unquestionably, the best performances of my life, it also eventually lead to a string of failure - which is inevitable. A difficult year turned into a cold and foggy winter in Spain. I happily returned to my home of Vegas in February, a crew was stoked on Potosi.. sure, why not? Bathed in Nevada sun, I got my ass kicked - trying a style that is classically so hard and foreign to me. After some beat down sessions I gradually came around with a couple harder routes and was encourage to forge on. Then some weeks later I did the first repeat of Francois LeGrand's 'Bachelor Party' 14d and third ascent of 'Annihilator' 14c and 'Atlantis' 14b among many others. These routes may be egregiously drilled but are also an interesting piece of American climbing history and sandbagged like most everything from the 90's. Hard or easy, I climbed a new route almost every day - and it was so refreshing. It felt so damn good to just play, to learn a new style, to enjoy the company of good people, joke around, and to get my ass kicked but also have some success. So much fun. Something like an outdoor gym, but nestled in the quiet of the desert, without a highway or subdivision in sight. I never imagined that Potosi would help me remember why I love climbing so much but I guess it's impossible to predict from where the lessons will come.

Yesterday was my last day at Potosi for this year (dare I say, ever?), as I turn my attention towards my return to Catalunya in just under ten days. It would be a far stretch to call Potosi one of my favorite areas but I'm not gonna lie I will definitely miss my time up there. Best of luck to Vian and Alex and Andy to finish up their projects this season! Just say no to knee-bars!

Lastly - Joe Segretti is putting together a little edit of some of these classics and epic punting from the chains and Zeke dog, so keep your eyes peeled for a vid !