Tuesday, June 4

Touch on Utah

My eyes crack open. Birds are chirping... the repetition of a sprinkler emerges... I can hear a powerful river meandering somewhere in the background. I sit up to discover manicured, vibrant green grass and towering cottonwoods, the sun cuts through wavering leaves and paints the landscape. Did I poach a golf course? Turns out this is, in-fact, still my truck that I'm sleeping in. It's not a country club bivy, it's the Lander City Park. Seriously this has got to be one of the nicest free bivy spots in the west. Not at all a bad place to wake up...

Last week I woke up in a much different spot. After spending a few days getting settled into the Lander scene, I busted ass south to Moab, Utah to hook up with the Smith Optics team and shoot some photos and video promoting the new ChromoPop lens. Smith is my most recent sponsor, and a brand that I've respected and supported for years - so it was really cool to meet some of the faces behind the shades (no pun intended, but sure, I'll take it). We got out climbing, running, exploring.. enjoying the incredible zone that is Moab. We spent a day and a half in Mill Creek - a truly amazing little crag that I hadn't visited for a few years. Paige Claassen is also a new Smith athlete and she was there working on 'The Bleeding' - getting agonizingly close again and again. I checked out some new-to-me routes at the Wicked Crag, flashing the awesome 'Scavenger' 12+, 'Crush the Skull' 13a and 'Jolly Roger' 13a. I pulled together an onsight of 'Mossy Direct' 13c as well as a few repeat laps on the bouldery 'Tiki Man' 13c and of course a barely accomplished repeat of 'Flaming Groovy' 12c (?) - certainly one of the hardest there. Skeptical? Try it, then we'll talk. I love this little crag. Wish there was miles of it....

Lisa Hathaway's photo of me on Mossy Direct
After polishing off 'Born to Run' on audiobook during my 8 hour return I drove straight to upper Sinks Canyon for a killer run. I'm really getting more and more stoked on this running thing. That book is motivating too! I climbed a day at the Killer Cave, revisiting a total nemesis of mine, 'Organic' 14b. This route bouted my efforts back in 2008? and then eventually injured me. It's really not that bad but I can't seem to make it happen! A powerful entrance leads to a super long, accurate dead point at the very end of my reach. I've fallen here countless times. It'll be a nice distraction when the weather allows for a Sinks session.

Speaking of Sinks, I had no idea how incredible the granite up high in the Canyon was. BJ and I took a day to try and finish off a striking arete he had checked out a few days back. Listed as the 'TS Arete Project' in the guidebook, this was the last route that Todd Skinner bolted before heading out to Yosemite Valley in the fall of 2006, shortly before his untimely demise. Todd has been an inspiration of mine for a very long time. A true pioneer during a time when climbing was emerging from the fringe and getting some of its first tastes of the mainstream. Todd traveled the globe, eager for adventure and thirsting for discovery. I've climbed Skinner routes in Wyoming, Yosemite, Hong Kong and China. He left an incredible legacy and its cool to experience even a tiny piece of his story -- BJ fired the first ascent of the 'TS Arete' and I followed right after. A stunner 5.13 arete on impeccable granite.

We decided to stick to the granite even though our mission was accomplished. I did the awesome, pumpy, 'Full Tilt' 13a and stuck the second ascent of BJ's sick technical masterpiece 'Bad Brains' 13+. We finished the day with 'Broken Heroes' 13a. A rad little tour of The Joint. Head up there soon to take advantage of the fresh chalk and brush work!

Back to Wolf Point over the last 2 days... bolting. Cleaning. Fighting off rattlers. Stoked.