Saturday, July 23

Island Life

I'm not gonna lie; when we arrived in Squamish last week we were less than stoked. Grey skies, intermittent rain, wet crags, and little hope. I was stoked however, to check out the Squamish Mountain Festival - five days of clinics, slide-shows, events, and unfortunately, rain (this year at least). Regardless of the less than desirable conditions, festival go-ers made the best of it... events were sold out and well attended, clinics were packed, and smiles wide. I was impressed. Attendees remained psyched and so did I.
chocolate. always psyched.
We missed the photo shoot out on Thursday night, but were able to catch an evening with Nina Caprez and Cory Richards - both great presentations, but the highlight was 'Cold' an amazing short, dark film on Cory's first winter ascent of Gasherbrum 2. Excellent film. I also helped out with a photo clinic on Saturday with Rich Wheater - we got soaking but it was a killer day regardless! Marisa and I managed a couple pitches at Circus wall but climbing seemed doomed so we eagerly bailed to our next destination - Vancouver Island. I had been excited for a few years now to have a look at Horne Lake after seeing photos of tall drip stone and blue streaked cliffs.
morning view
the last view of my cookset, just hours before our campsite was robbed! NOT COOL.
From the time we boarded the ferry until the time we arrived on the Island the weather seemed to miraculously improve. This, in combination with the incredible scenery and the hillside of limestone crags was enough to prompt a serious mood improvement. The climbing features incredible drip stone - full on collenettes, tufas and texture - in addition to some more blocky terrain like you'd find at Rifle. The hard routes are essentially roofs - very steep, and basically all require knee-bars (many are entirely knee-bar dependent). It's not my style... at all. I knew from the get-go that it would offer a solid challenge.
My goal was the king line, 'A.D.A.T.O.' 14b (another day at the office) established by burlmaster Mike Doyle, this big route is dumb steep - overhanging way over 45 degrees it's entire length. I thought I'd benefit from warming up to the style a little, so I began on 'Driven' 14a/b, a stout boulder problem of a route out an intense roof. The movement was thuggy and explosive. I followed it up with a crag classic, 'Dinosaur Highway' 14a - a very cool line with varied movement, great rests and boulder problems... very Rifle-esque.
sometimes you gotta eat the baby with the bath water
A.D.A.T.O. takes the overhanging prow up the gut
My first two burns on A.D.A.T.O. were borderline pathetic... This type of climbing (or crawling) is super specific and I've typically avoided it in part because it's not my favorite, but also because I've never been able to see movement on this terrain in the same way I can otherwise. It's really difficult to think in 3D and utilize blocks and roofs to your advantage. Some climbers are incredible at this style (Joe Kinder, Justin Sjong, Sam Elias, Alex Honnold, Chris Weidner to name a few) but for most of us, climbing upside down is just downright wrong. Yesterday I returned with a renewed excitement for the route after being shut down on day one. I went through the route bolt by bolt, trying to find the most efficient sequences, and the most beneficial rests. I found my 'beta', but I doubted it's effectiveness, preying that someone who could spray me down would approach the crag. Scott Milton got stable hanging on a rope to shoot video at the top of the crag as I strapped in to give 'er another try. I took my time on rests, tried to climb skillfully and continued up the belly of the cave with zero expectation. Suddenly, I was right beneath Scotty and he was desperately unclipping to get out of my way. I hadn't even rehearsed the top because I had absolutely no intentions of getting there. Thankfully Scott was there to literally point out holds for me on my way to the chains. WHAT?! Seriously, I've had a few unexpected sends in my life, but this takes the cake, especially given that it's my complete anti-style. Super psyched! I finished the day exhausted, barely onsighting the cliff classic 'Jesus Save the Pushers' 13a.
We took a bitter cold plunge in Horne Lake last night, and grabbed the ferry back to the mainland this morning. We'll catch up on laundry, groceries and some socializing here in Squamish before we head eastward towards the Canadian Rockies!

Wednesday, July 13


It's hard to believe that we were only in Wyoming for a week - In-fact, I've had to recount the dates a number of times just to make sure. Long climbing days, socializing with old and new friends, clinics, parties, a slide-show, good food, and some sleep when we could find it... it was a killer week, but we're certainly exhausted.

After rolling into Lander Thursday night, my buddy and WY climbing legend B.J. Tilden offered to give us the tour of a new crag he'd helped develop called the Sweatlodge. This totally unique feature is something of a cave - almost as though a piece of the cliff was severed and then tipped backward - creating a super steep wall that remains shaded all day (exactly what Lander locals are fiendin for). It's a small crag (especially with a dozen climbers and 6 dogs) but it has got a variety of climbing styles and grades. I was primarily interested in a 14a that B.J. did called 'Plastic Shaman'. It's a burly little line - a true power endurance test-piece with essentially no place for resting. It's difficulty increases steadily, ending with a series of big moves just below the lip. I was really pleased to put the Shaman down third try - it's a little Wyoming gem for sure. I flashed a really nice 13b called 'Training Wheels' to finish the day.

Lindsay Gasch putting a hurtin on 'Training Wheels' 13b, 'Plastic Shaman' climbs the steep wall to the right

le 'Training Wheels'


We made it back just in time to catch the last half of the Dyno comp and enjoy a beer at the Lander park. Saturday was the first day of my redpointing clinic out at the Iris. I ended up with a rad group of psyched climbers - everyone of them fired up to put in effort and learn something. I stayed out at the crag until the last minute - hurriedly returning to Lander to put some finishing touches on my slide-show presentation that night. Despite suffering a slight and momentary loss of my voice from a long day talking at the crag (nothing a cold beer can't fix), the slide-show went off well and was well attended. It was a pleasure to address this crowd and show off some images and video clips of my last year.

James Pullum photo.. THE IRIS!!

Sunday my redpoint clinic finished up awesome, with a number of the group having breakthrough sends, even after a long weekend. I tied in myself as well, and bang'd out a dozen pitches in preparation for a long day on the road... gotta love the Iris. Short, powerful, fingery... straight up cowboy crag.

Now I'm back in Seattle.. just a few weeks but thousands of miles later. I bought my pickup truck at the end of May, and I've put over 6,000 miles on it already - glad I got a Toyota. We managed to hammer out a few evening pitches at Little Si last night on our way in. I jumped on Ben Gilkison's 2010 'Wide World of Fitness' out of curiosity and surprised myself when I clipped the chains, fighting a pretty severe pump towards the finish. Ben suggested 14c for this line that shares the majority of 'New World Order' but replaces the 14b beginning with a pumpy 13a. This is certainly a worthy, and massive route, but I think in comparison I must respectfully suggest solid 14b. Regardless - great effort Ben, this route is HUGE!

STOKED for the Arcteryx Squamish Mtn Festival, fingers crossed for some good weather as we take off for Canada tomorrow. YES.

Thursday, July 7

WYO Love

Wyoming is bad-ass. Undoubtably my second favorite state (due to my outstanding degree of Colorado pride), this vast and varied place is home to some of the country's greatest climbing and retains a palpable wild west feel that beckons even the squarest of city folk to sport a 10 gallon hat and tip back a red-white-and-blue Budweiser. I love it up here.
I could think of no better venue to celebrate the birthday of our great U.S. of A. than Tensleep, Wyoming. Joined by a slew of national (read: mostly Colorado) climbers and hundreds of hard working Wyomingans, this quite mountain town lights up for the 4th of July, in a multi-day celebration including a Rodeo, parade, fire-works, music and food. Amongst a majority crowd of blue-jeans, belt buckles and tough attitudes you'll find a handful of chalked hands and worn approach shoes. I'd heard plenty of wild stories about this amazing festival over the years, and maybe it's just the American lager talking, but it's everything they claimed it is.... we had a great time.... Monday proved to be a painful rest day, but thankfully we were back at it on Tuesday, excited to get some climbing in.
Wildflowers in FULL effect
Quite a bit of development all across the range of difficulty has sprouted up in the last few years at Tensleep, and I was egger to sink my teeth into a few of the fresh, pocketed test-pieces. The Sector D'or et Bleu had caught my eye years before when I first visited this canyon, and thanks to the recent efforts of locals Alli Rainey, Kevin Wilkinson and visiting James Litz and Joey Kinder, this wall is home to a number of new hard routes. After warming up on the incredible 5.12 offerings of the Shinto wall, I shuffled over beneath the business. My buddy Mike Williams had been tearing up the canyon, and fresh after sending 'Doomsday' 14a, he urged me to give it an honest onsight attempt.

I left the ground with a handful of draws and little expectation. It begins with a brutal, shouldery boulder problem before transitioning into some more resistance crimp and pocket pulling. A healthy rest stands between you and the finishing crux on barely-there pockets to the chains. After emerging through the heinous start, I tried to climb with accuracy through the midsection, leaving energy for some harder movement - which eventually came just below the chains. I am very pleased with my onsight to say the least, and although I must admit that Doomsday definitely felt soft for 14a - it still stands as my hardest onsight to date. Next I moved my attention to a new route that Litz established - a gnarly boulder problem through monos and edges.... weary of such small grips I decided to try it's little brother, 'Halfenheimer' 14a, which begins with the awesome boulder problem featured on 'Sky-Pilot' 13+, and exits shortly after for a bunch of new climbing. After rehearsing the bottom and hanging draws, I tied in and fought to the top - fingers exhausted from the day. Very psyched!
Sector D'or Et Bleu, Doomsday is just left of the hanging rope
Wednesday we went to the incredible Superratic wall, which houses some of Tensleep's most impressive, and hardest climbs. I had heard that 'F'd in the A' 14a was one of the best outings in the canyon, and was hoping to give it a solid flash attempt. Thankfully Alli and Kevin were there and no strangers to the route. They sprayed me down thoroughly as I warmed up. The route is generally consistent throughout, highlighted by hard moves between better than average holds. Some movement is balancey, other is simply powerful. This climb suited me best of the three I tried - more power endurance than bouldery - with few rests and not so tweeky holds. I tried to climb skillfully, and combine Kevin's powerful beta with Alli's short person beta. Thankfully I succeeded in flashing this killer route - super excited! Alli took some butt-shot video of my flash that should show up on her awesome blog in the next few days. I finished the day on 'Kyberspace' 13a/b and 'Tatonka' 13a.
It was tough to leave behind such a rad crew of folks, and an emerging potential of new routes, but something tells me I'll be back. Now we've made it to Lander, Wy, one of my long time favorite hang-outs. We're tucked into homeboy BJ Tilden's place with some rad friends and psyched for the International Climbers Festival! I'll be doing a slide-show including slides from the last year (the Red, Vegas, Smith and the North-West, etc.) this Saturday, 7pm at the High-school here in Lander. I'll also be teaching a redpoint clinic on Saturday and Sunday up at the amazing Wild Iris. Hopefully somewhere in-between I'll have a chance to get out climbing too!