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.


'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.

'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..... !