Thursday, September 18

WY, SD and Eastward

Trying out a new style of post. More photos, fewer words. Tell me how you like it. I'm on a brief stop over, visiting friends and family in the Milwaukee and Chicago areas on my way towards Ontario... Hope you enjoy my images from the last 10 days in Wyoming and South Dakota.

Jackson is still one of my favorite places anywhere, and the fall there is exceptionally beautiful. I ripped through there for an afternoon on my way from Idaho to Lander. 
Wolf Point. A pretty surreal place. It was awesome to return.
Rob Phares on 'The Beholder' 13a
Tilden lowers off his new 13c link up, 'House of Hell'. I was primarily back at Wolf to attempt a pretty incredible project there that opened up more recently. It turned out that the crux was a little too physical for my still recovering injury. It will have to wait until next spring I think... trying to be smart about it. In the meantime I stayed stoked for a few days, cleaning up 'Romulus' 13c 'The Wolfsquatch' 13c, 'Full Moon' 13b, 'House of Bricks' 13b, 'House of Hell' 13c, 'Bebolder' 13b and Kyle Vasso's amazing 'Big Bad Wolf' 14a. All rad routes. 
'House of Sticks' 12d/13a
house.
Victoria Canyon, South Dakota is a stunning little zone. Just 20 min outside of Rapid City, it's a small crag but packs an unprecedented quality of climbing. The rock is phenomenal, and after 2 volume days I left with a smile ear-to-ear. Every route I did, save one, were outstanding. 
Robin Maslowski on 'Mogo Chaji', one of the best 12a's anywhere. I went for pure volume while there. Some of my favorites were: 'Steep and Cheap' 13a 'Ninja Please' 13b, 'Ho Chi Minh Rail' 13b, 'Bluce Lee' 12c, 'Map of Japan' 12b, 'Girivic' 13c, 'Thin Red Line' 13b/c, 'Huck Norris' 13a, 'Secret Asian Man' 13a, 'Me So Horny' 12c, 'Cream of Sumyunguy' 13c and 'Foot Fist Way' 13a. Honestly, I was blown away by how rad it is... just too small.. 

On my way towards the unknown... So stoked to be climbing in Ontario and the American North East for the remainder of the year... new-to-me crags are so much fun. It's a treat that I rarely get to indulge in as of late. Stoke is very high. 

Monday, September 8

ten days in Idaho

Most of my time out here is spent alone. I consider myself a very social person. Spending time with my friends and family is hugely important and satisfying to me. That being said, I feel comfortable alone. Something that I've always partially attributed to growing up an only child, but also I think that the last 3 years of constant travel and road life has strengthened this quality.



Being at the Fins, in Eastern Idaho, invokes a pretty special feeling of loneliness. I often refer to the zone simply as; the expanse. There's no doubt that the Fins is gaining popularity, as it should, but during mid week you can still wake up to utter stillness. Enormous sky. A vantage that begs for gazing. It really came home, how special this area is - even after several years of time spent here - I see now more than ever how incredible of a crag it is.






Somewhat to my surprise I managed to have a really rewarding and fruitful campaign at the Fins this year. I remember leaving last season with the general thought that, mostly the best climbing was bolted and that a few B-grade lines may still exist. I did have a few things swirling in my head that were worthy of a trip back however, and thankfully my stoke drew me into a handful of new, hard, impressive routes. Every day that I wasn't climbing I was bolting or cleaning or exploring... or resting I suppose, but hardly. I'm so grateful for all the friends who came out, and once again for the Idaho climbing community for hosting me in such a rad way. I added 5 new routes this year:

'Mind Your Manors' emerged on the Solstice wall, up hill from the banner Discovery sector. The crux is engaging and really 5 bolts long. It's a series of reachy moves between edges. At times it feels impossibly thin. The movement is consistent and dynamic on a slightly overhanging wall. It's truly an outstanding route and one that is quite unique at this venue. Power-endurance dynamic crimping. I suggest low 14b for it.

IAN CAVANAUGH IMAGE

'A Date with She-Ra' is the Discovery Wall extension to a Peter Heeken original 12+ named 'Skeletor'. The extension adds a couple bolts of sustained hard 5.12 climbing, including the second crux of 'Bushido' 13a, and then without pause fires into a very tenuous, balancy crux between super shallow pockets and features a heinous textured pinch that is just enough to hold you over your feet. Non other than Peter Heeken was there to belay my send. 14a.

'Year of the Ox' is the main challenge that brought me back to the Fins. I had spied a series of limestone cracks that neighbors my 2012 route 'Enter the Dragon'. The Ox is a climb much in the same vein. Three bolts lead through some 5.13- climbing down low and then for another 80 or 90 feet the pitch is all gear. A few shallow, somewhat questionable purple TCUs guard a long run out and a certain ground fall at mid-hieght, which I thought warrants an 'R'. Although this climbing is quite easy comparatively. The 3 different cruxes are all unique. The finishing crux is a long run-out to the chains with big, insecure moves on rounded feet. It's really an outstanding climb, and one that I'm particularly proud of, along with it's neighbor, the Dragon. I rappelled and cleaned it on my birthday. 13d R.

IAN CAVANAUGH IMAGEs
'The Antidote' is a huge extension that tops out the massive Yellowcake Wall down the hill from the Discovery zone. Off the anchor of 'Separation of Church of Skate' you first climb through a tricky slight corner until you reach the first crux moving through a series of beautiful 1 and 2 finger pockets to a decent rest. The final, committing crux moves through amazing underclings and smeary feet, with mega exposure near the top of the tower. It's around 38 meters and also 13d.

'Off To Be the Wizard' was my final endeavor. It more than doubles the length of a rad and popular 13c that I bottled last year called 'Yellow Brick Road'. Above the first anchor is excellent compression climbing and insecure footwork. Some tiny edges and slopers lead to a good left hand pocket below a wild crux. A full-on left hand pinky mono and a horrible gaston sloping crimp is all you get to lunge your body sideways and into a sinker one hand pocket jug. It's one of the craziest single moves I've ever done in my climbing and took me dozens of efforts to put together. From here a series of dull rails offer horrible feet with holds well spaced out to a left-ward gaston red-point crux and a juggy ending. I sent on what was my last attempt of my last day with a great crew cheering my efforts, pinky sore as hell. I had only stuck the crux lunge twice from the dog. It was a serious treat to finish it. 14c.

Yes. Another memorable year out in Idaho. Many good people from Salt Lake, Ketchum, Eastern Idaho and Jackson were there throughout to share in the sending and good times. I'm really really pleased with my new routes there. And now... onward to another one of my favorites... Wolf Point.


best of luck to everyone out there.... autumn is knocking..... !



Thursday, August 28

29 years

I'm happiest on the road. Simple living, out of my truck. Zeke sits passenger. We laugh at jokes together and critique music. When I drive out of the city and into the expanse I roll the windows down, sometimes for hours. I absolutely love this life.


Yesterday was my 29th birthday. I felt overwhelmed with gratefulness - for my family, for my friends. I was inundated with joyful messages and stoke from the internet, in texts, in calls. I have a blessed life if only because of the great people in it. 

And yet, it was fitting that I spent my birthday totally alone. I didn't mind at all. In-fact I wanted it that way. I made a 4 hour drive from Sale Lake City to one of my favorite crags in the world - the Fins, Idaho. Mostly I thought about how lucky I am to live the way I do. And how there's really very little I would change about my life. Absolutely no birthday gifts needed, save perhaps the company of good friends. 

Thanks to everyone that reached out to me yesterday. It really did enrich the day.


Before I get too much into the now, I will review the last week. Last week I took off for the first few stops on a mega road trip. I had never been to Independence Pass, Colorado - just outside of Aspen - it was such a rad few days. What an amazingly beautiful area, and the climbing is very high quality as well. My main stoke was to try Mark Anderson's new test-piece route and the hardest on the pass. It's on the Lower Grotto Wall - he called it 'Insurrection' and finished it earlier this year, suggesting 14c. It's pretty short and mostly power-crimping through boulder problems. He describes the route, and his process, in cool detail on his site here. At first I was partnerless so I just stick clipped my way up the route and hung draws, chalked and groped holds. It all seemed there, albeit some hard sections and long moves. Low angle technical climbing has long been not only my favorite style but also one of my strongest. First try I sussed my beta and made small links. It's super consistent, and while I felt no section was harder than v10 or so, they all stack right together.

CELIN SERBO PHOTO

Celin Serbo is a good friend and a great videographer and photographer. He was there rolling and I was ready for another try. The route has several sections where I'm forced to get super stretched out and then violently cut my feet, all of which felt like they could spit me off. Shockingly I clipped bolt after bolt, ending up at the final boulder problem and actually quite hard anchor clip. Breathing heavy at 11k feet I clipped the chains. Pretty surprisingly really. It's a hard route and I really had not been climbing outside more than 2 days in the past 5 or 6 weeks - since Europe. But my injury had forced me to train and stay diligent about sleep and taking care of myself. Regardless, I was very stoked. It felt good to send hard after the injury at Wild Iris. For me, I'd say 14b is accurate. And the pitch is outstanding.

I did the 2 other test piece routes on the wall. An unnamed '13b' that's much more like 13c and Tommy Caldwell's 'Before There Were Nine' an awesome granite sport pitch at 13+. We did another day of shooting for an Epic TV piece to be released later in the year along with my series, and then I was ready to change venues.


Next on my list was a seemingly forgotten route an hour west of Salt Lake. My very good friends Leif and Lindsay Gasch once again graciously hosted my stay and we took day trips out to the Narrows. A really cool, mostly overlooked zone that was developed by the prolific 90s Utah Crew including Boone Speed and Mike Call, Tim Wagner and Jonathan Knight among others. Typical Utah limestone - short, crimping and powerful - this is great little crag. 


'The Big Smile' was bolted by Boone and eventually done by Chris Sharma in 97. How this route avoided limelight I'm not sure. It's one of the best of it's grade in Utah as far as I'm concerned. Caldwell chucked a repeat and perhaps a few others until it broke some years later. In 2004 James Litz made the first post break ascent at 14b and as far as I've gathered it was not climbed since. It took some  sussing to figure the route, and in the end I actually changed my beta on the broken lower section after repeated failure and then was ready to take it down next try. It's really 3 hardly separated boulder problems, featuring pockets and edges and slopers and so many cool features. Something like 3 v8/9 back-to-back-to-back. It's incredible! I did the route and the cliffs 5.13s - all worthy and fun - before again changing venues. 


Like I mentioned, yesterday I migrated North. Now I'm in a random coffee spot in Idaho Falls, immeasurably stoked on the potential that still remains at the Fins. I'll be hanging here, with a great crew of people until I decide to take the ride back into Wyoming...

Lastly, check out the latest release from my Epic TV series 'Nomad'. This one is a simple little video about one of my absolute favorite routes I've ever done... 'Speed Integrale' in Voralpse, Switzerland. Cheers to BearCam for the rad footage, and look out for several more videos from Epic!