Saturday, October 7

Summer '

It's been a busy summer, a freaking rad summer, but damn I can't tell you how happy I am to say that it's over. As I'm sure most of you in the Northern Hemisphere would agree (especially in the American West) I am ready for the fall... ready for cold nights and down jackets and bringing thermos to the crag. I'm ready for a cool breeze and bright red leaves. It seems October is more or less the new September but whatever it is, I am stoked it's here and it seems it brought at least a little autumn with it.

I added a slew of photographs below to take you through my summer, with a little explanation here and there. I hope everyone is enjoying this change in weather, finally!

Ten Sleep: Shaina and I stopped through Ten Sleep for a few days on our way to the Lander ICF. Just enough time to belay my Dad on his hardest send to date, at age 67. I wrote about his climbing life and the experience of his send on the Arcteryx Blog here: 

It was incredible to be a part of this send, and to see him push his own limits, after over 40 years of climbing. Shaina totally fell in love with the climbing here as I expected she might. I'm sure we will be back over the years. It's grown immensely in popularity since I first visited in 2008, but for good reason. Reminds me so much of Siurana at times. It was great to revisit, even though I kind of got my ass kicked. 

After some Ten Sleep action we went up to join the ICF in Lander. This is one of my absolute favorite climbing events, and the longest running event of its kind in the US. I climbed BJ Tilden's epic link up on the Rodeo Wave called 'Mutation' 14d. This hybrid route (two ropes required and actually some brief bouldering in the middle) rides various cruxes for over 80 moves to make a seemingly enormous route out of the ultra short wall. It combines 'Genetic Drifter' 14c with the boulder problem 'Ground from Upside Down' V7 and then a nasty hard section of V8 to eventually finish with 'Single Cell' 13b. In some ways this route was conceived out of BJ's boredom but it was actually quite meaningful to me as I know it was to him. Lander and the Iris will always hold a special place in my heart, from my years of climbing and enjoying the area. I can't wait to go back.. there are still a couple random things I need to polish off! 

I found my summer home in Estes Park for a good chunk of August. The number of tourists has gotten somewhat out of hand over the last several summers but still the beauty of Chaos and the incredible quality of the problems there lures me in. My power was a little slow to come back but I did do a few hard ones like 'Memoirs of an Invisible Climber' V11/12, 'Steve Zissou' V11 (a horrendously hard one for a short climber I thought!), 'The Wheel Direct' V13/14, 'Daytripper' V13, 'Storm Shadow Sit' V12 and 'Whispers of Wisdom' V10 (for me this may have been the hardest of all) among others. It was kind of an ass kicking as Bouldering seems to be always for me, but I'm proud I finished a few things off and as always I absolutely loved my time in the alpine. I left a few things undone, but thankfully I am always looking for a great summer hang and Estes just keeps providing. I wrote about my experience out there and my recommendation to route climbers to switch it up and go bouldering on the La Sportiva Blog here:

I tried my luck on a mega project in the Fins, but the late summer heat was too much for me to handle. Tara Kehrzner was there shooting some video, and I did do all of the moves with some promising links, but this route is so incredibly hard that I really need everything to line up for me and I could tell that with temps in the upper 70s at the cliff it would not be this year. I moved on to Rifle to climb on bigger holds. I climbed 'Lungfish' 14b after several days of kind of intense effort. In total it was the most I've tried any route in Rifle, ever. Something about the slick rock, the nature of the climbing and the conditions (plus it's just hard as hell!) combined to put up quite the fight. It's always hard to release the ego in times like this but I feel so strongly that we have to follow through even if it hurts (inside). Clipping the chains was memorable, especially after I punted above the crux from a foot slip. I also did 'Skull Fuck' 13c after a pretty humbling fight. The most I have tried a 13c in recent memory. It's neighbor 'Cracked Open Sky' 13d felt wildly easier, as did several of the new ones like 'Never Enough' 14a and 'Uncertainty Principle' 14a. I got some much needed beta from my good friend Pawel on 'Gropius' 13d/14a for my hardest flash in Rifle, which I was particularly stoked on. I also climbing 'Colinator' 14a and 'Kuru' 14c among some others. It was rad to be back in the Canyon and with such a great crew. Thanks to Sam and Matt, Dan and Colette and everyone out there for such good time both climbing and otherwise. 

After a super fun weekend in Smith Rock for the AAC Craggin Classic, full of some soloing, some sport routes, a great clinic and some multi pitching with my good buddy Sam Elias, I was ready for the main objective. I planned to finally have a look at the Pop Tire Crag in Western Utah, just on the Border of Nevada. Silver Island, or Wendover Cave as it is also referred to, is an exceptional little zone. Far away from the world, on a remote island of rock in an otherwise desolate and flat landscape, just on the edge of the awe inspiring Bonneville Salt Flats. The camping and the hang there is as good (or perhaps better) that the actual climbing. 

I climbed a lot of great pitches out here. The climbed is mostly stamina based, and the routes are middle height for the most part, between 60 and 100 feet. I'm proud of my time and effort there. I did 'Apex Predator' 14c, 'Drakken' 14b, '40 feet of Grease' 14b and 'Sodom and Gomorrah' 14c all in two tries, although the bizarre and awesome King Line (S and G) was a absolute battle. Thankfully Alton Richardson got that somewhat hilarious fight, and some others, on video for an upcoming Maxim Ropes / Climbing Magazine release. I also did the one-mover 'Old Man High Pants' 14c and grabbed a last day flash on 'Terrordome' 14a which I had been saving. In the middle there I spent two days trying James' Litz 'Peruvian Necktie' 14d/15a. It did not entirely capture my stoke, with uncomfortable holds and awkward movement, but I must say a huge congrats to James on the send - it is certainly one of the hardest routes in the country. Maybe I will find the time to revisit it in the future, but for this first trip I was pretty fired up to sample and get pumped - the joy of exploring a good new-to-me cliff with this much difficulty is something that I rarely get to do in the US anymore. With a trip back to Catalunya on the horizon I saw this as an awesome opportunity to get prepared. I also climbed 'AWOL' 13c, 'Crosstown Traffic' 13c/d, 'Hey Joe' 13b and a few more onsight. In the end I think I at least touched nearly every square foot of climbing in the cave. My overall favorite was probably 'Smoother' 12c. I can't say enough about how rad it was to have Leif there to show me the place, and huge thanks to Alton also for hanging out and grabbing these rad shots. Apparently this cliff used to be popular but I barely saw anyone the whole time I was there. 

One last thing! I did a very lengthy and in-depth interview with Ignacio Sandoval Buron, on the WUGU climbing website:
 it is in Spanish but I think a translation site should do you the favor if needed. Big thank you to those guys and Ignacio, it was fun to dive in a little deeper than usual.

Friday, July 7


Temperatures were definitely warm, sometimes downright hot. Parking can be a pain in the ass. Crowds on the weekend make a line up on the best routes. The rock is often choss, glued, and slippery as hell.     But...
                                          Nights are quiet, dark and cool. The river is crystal clear and perfectly refreshing at the end of a long day. The concentration of fun, hard routes is staggering. The community is warm and motivated. Rifle is a special place. 

I've had an absolute ball climbing there. For the last 4 weeks I've been making the I-70 slog to Rifle Canyon. I took a week off for the heat and a long weekend to Atlanta, but mostly I have been out there climbing. No cell service. Camping with good friends. Killing time by the river. 

It had been six years since I last settled into Rifle - late summer of 2011 was my first long stint in the Canyon. So many good, new hard routes have been added since then, largely thanks to Joe Kinder and Steve Hong. If there were any previous doubts about Rifle having the highest concentration of 5.14 in the country, it is pretty clear to me now.

Mainly I wanted to try Joe Kinder's new rigs in the Wicked Cave. When I was climbing with Matty Hong and Jon Cardwell in Spain this spring they were hyping up the new creations and since then I started planning my return to Rifle. Certainly I was a little apprehensive because I knew June could be hot. It was hot. But it was also fine. Rifle is surprisingly doable in the heat. The only route I would have loved to try more was Jon and Matty's new one 'Stocking Stuffer' but the Bauhaus proved too warm for me. This one is probably the canyon's hardest. Something to come back for. 

I climbed 'Fat Camp' 14c/d, 'Cucaracha' 14b, 'Planet Garbage' 14d, 'Moment Musical' 14a, 'The Club' 14c/d, 'Homunculus' 14a, 'All the Pretty Horses' 14a and 'Nostalgie' 14b - amazingly, these are all new from the last couple years. 

Yesterday was a particularly rad day. I had tried 'Nostalgie' on Tuesday once but even around 11:30am it felt too hot and I wasn't able to quite figure out one movement in the upper crux. I returned yesterday morning early to take a crack at (hopefully) better temps, but it proved super humid and maybe even worse than Tuesday. This was my favorite new route I tried. A straight forward, powerful V9ish boulder starts the route. No rest into some awesome 5.12 climbing on great blue rock. A slightly awkward no-hands rest before an incredible panel of wavy orange, textured rock above. Slopers and amazing sculpted pinches make the red point crux subtle and tricky near the very end of this Wasteland route. It's so good. I sorted out the top crux and let myself rest for an hour or so before a miracle breeze made an ascent possible. This was really the last route I wanted to do, and I was a little worried that the heat and difficulty of this rig wouldn't allow it. Stoked, I went to the Wicked Cave with my buddy Luke Olson. He gave me the beta he remembered from 'Tombraider' 13d and I watched him try 'Magnetar' 13d before I made a flash of both of these awesome routes. I jumped in the creek one last time and hit the road. My last day in Rifle and likely my best. 

Thanks for the good times Rifle and huge thank you to the city for keeping this gem of a canyon beautiful and people like Kinder and Hong busting ass, constantly making sick new hard ones!

Onward to Wyoming!

>>>>> Tim Foote took all the photos above of me and the one of beautiful Shaina. Everything else is from yours truly. 

Monday, July 3


Portugal. I went there in May, and I went climbing. Here is my Portugal story !

Lisbon is a fantastic city. Unique architecture, stunning light and packed with character. Steep little streets and bustling for the most part, the only downside of this place is perhaps it's rampant summer tourism. Food was amazing. People were very cool. The climbing was memorable.

I linked up with my good buddy Andre Neres on day one. I was traveling with my family but my Dad and I were keen to slip away and explore some of the climbing I'd been hearing and reading about. Andre showed us his backyard zone, Meio Mango. This is a fantastic sea-side spot with outstanding rock quality and a sick ocean vibe. Waves slam into the nearby rocky shore all day, sometimes even large enough to splash the cliffs. All of the areas have clean, dry staging areas. I climbed several really great 5.12s there and a bouldery 14a called 'O Senhor das Anilhas' that was awesome. There are tyroleans installed all along the shore to cross from crag to crag. When we were there these were safe and newly replaced. You will want some pretty legit directions to the parking area (a seemingly random dirt circle) and for the decent to the cliffs - expect a 20 min or so approach down a steep ocean-side gully with some easy 5th class down climbing near the end (also possible to rappel the very end). We found the approach itself to be utterly breathtaking. As for the climbing, the conditions are tough to nail. You need the cliff to see sun before or preferably while you're climbing because the walls get humid as hell throughout the night and morning from the crashing water. Thankfully there was a good wind when we were climbing so the sun was fine, albeit hot. Don't expect any fixed draws here, but you can expect state of the art titanium chemical bolts on all of the classics and more. It's about an hour drive south from downtown Lisbon.

The next zone we checked out was Fenda. This is not too far from Mango, but a remarkably different scene. Fenda is just a few hundred yards above a gorgeous beach, but the climbing itself is nestled in a fault like system. Here you park at a random dirt pull off spot along the road and then find a well traveled trail descending into the trees (this is important... well traveled! it will be obvious but we made the mistake of following a number of less traveled trails into nowhere). Information is hard to find but you should get a topo and the parking spot online. The main zone here is pretty damn awesome. Good rock quality and drippy limestone features. Great routes here from 5.11 up to 13d. I climbed 'UHU Stick' 13d in a complete battle to the death in the worst conditions I've experienced outside of Thailand. Probably the hardest I tried all year, no joke. And 'Paparazzi' 13a both of which were great. If we had more time and the weather was better I would have loved to climb here more. It was hard to stay stoked in the oppressive heat though. It definitely would have been a better beach day.

Last zone we checked out was Sagres. This impressive sea-side cliff is located just outside of a town by the same name on the very South-Western most tip of Portugal, about 3 hours south of Lisbon. You'll drive out towards the lighthouse and park somewhere on the left side of the road (again, search the internet for more exact beta). From here you'll have a short walk through fine red sand to the edge of the cliff. The best method for approaching Sagres is to rappel. There are beefy rap anchors with a great little spot to stand and thread the rope. The staging areas here are a little more heads-up. There are fixed lines to clip into but nowhere to really completely chill. The reward however, is stunning rock with the deep blue Atlantic crashing just a few dozen feet under your belay. We climbed a couple awesome 12a routes and I did a super memorable 12c that climbed through a rad tufa. Unfortunately the conditions were really bad and the rock was literally wet (we got there too late - on a cloudy day - again you NEED sun for these sea-side zones). To get out, it is best to follow the fixed lines down near the water (lower than the belays) to the climbers left and around the corner to an easy spot for hiking out. I was confused when Andre encouraged us to rap in and then traverse out, but you'll understand why this is best when you get there. Overall I feel like Sagres could be the best climbing in Portugal but I think considering the vibes and entire area my Dad and I both enjoyed Mango the most.

In summary... Portugal climbing is better than I expected. The rock quality is really great, and the variety is there. Conditions are definitely the hardest part and it can vary so much day-to-day that making a trip for the sole purpose of sending the gnar could be frustrating. If you're in the mood to do some touristing or beach activities in between climbing days this would be awesome for you. These zones are not the most easy to navigate, which is largely what motivated me to write a few things I would have liked to know here on my blog (apparently there is a guide in the works (?) but I don't have details). Hook up with a local if you can, but otherwise search around and screen shot some random beta and you'll make it. Enjoy!