Thursday, December 20, 2007


Just before the hurt begins

Yesterday started out nicely. I warmed up on a couple of nice problems at the Kraft Boulders, among those was the classic "the Pearl". It was classic. Yeah! We then headed over to the Monkey Bar boulder where I flashed the "Monkey Bar Traverse". I was feeling saucey so I decided to try the direct start to the previous problem. On the flash attempt I mistook a thumb-catch for a two finger pocket and when my feet cut I felt an 'electric' shock shoot from the tip of my finger to the middle of my forearm. There was no audible sound, but I knew pretty much instantly that my day/trip was over as far as climbing was concerned. Actually, my main worry was the thought that I might not be able to climb on my up coming Hueco trip. Later that evening I gave my friend Noah a call to consult with him about my injury. Noah is a climber and an MD who loves trauma patients. He assured me that he knew exactly what happened from my discription and that it was not a serious injury in the long run. Basically, if I follow his instructions it will heal 100%. That is good news. Bad news is that I won't be able to climb my hardest in Hueco. I've waited a long time to go there and it is pretty disapointing that my first trip will be handcuffed like this. The rocks aren't going anywhere though so I guess I'll just have to go back when I'm strong as an ox.

In other news...

Peter (ahem... Nancy) and I are now gambling addicts. Nancy likes to bet the ponies and I can't get enough of football. I'm planning on putting all of my savings on Falcons this weekend, its a 'can't miss' game.

Well, for now Peter is going to continue to climb rocks and I'm going to heckle him and stuff my face. I'll probably have more fun. Take that tendon!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Vegas Baby!

Peter on "Underwhere?"

So, yesterday we spent the afternoon bouldering in Moe's Valley in St. George, Utah. It was a pretty cool spot with potential for more. Turtle had a particularly good time running free in the sun.

We decided to continue south in hopes of escaping the incoming storm so we motored down I-15 to Las Vegas, and the vaunted Red Rocks. I've been here a couple of times before, but just to climb routes, I've not yet bouldered here and neither has Peter. Speaking of Peter, he was so caught up in the Vegas experience he asked me if we could have strippers delivered to our campsite. I assured him that that would probably not fly and that we didn't have that kind of money to spend. Maybe if we hit it big at the roulette table tonight...

"The Beast"

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I'm Famous!

Ha ha! yeah right. I am, however, currently featured in a short bouldering video on Momentum Video Magazine's website. Mike Call (MC) was here for a brief visit a few weeks ago and took some footage of me climbing on the "Pine Box". The footage is from the Sunday prior to when I actually sent. Fortunately, through the magic of the movies MC makes it look like I did it then... they'll never know!

Anyway, it costs money to watch but it is totally worth it because you'll get to see me climb in a pair of women's pink pants (which I wore on the real ascent too). A friend gave them to me a few days before on the condition that I rocked them bouldering from time to time. Little did I know how comfortable they are to climb in. In fact, they're easily the most comfortable pants I've ever climbed in so I'll be holding them on reserve for those special occasions when I need a little extra sending power.

Oh, if you're a total cheap ass you can just wait till you see me next and I'll log on to the site so you can watch it then.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Tradition

In all of my climbing life I've had four projects that have taken a hold of me unlike all the others. These projects engaged my attention so completely that all other objectives fell by the wayside. The first three projects were all single pitch routes and I only succeeded in climbing one of those. The most recent is a boulder problem called "Pine Box." Regardless of the outcome, each of these projects have been the most rewarding learning experiences of my climbing life.

I first discovered the "Pine Box" in September 2006 while participating in the Yosemite Climber Association's annual clean-up, the Yosemite Facelift. I volunteered, along with several other chaps, to go up to the south face of Half Dome to carry out nearly 700lbs. of cable and steel pipe that had been dropped from the top by trail crews nearly 20 years ago. From our staging point at the Happy Isles water tank I couldn't help but notice the large boulders surrounding us. I slipped away from the group for a few minutes and stumbled upon what would become the
"Pine Box" and I knew I had to come back. Several months later, when it was a bit colder I returned. My vision from the beginning was that the problem should start from a sitting position, but I couldn't manage the giant spans. I was able to do it from a several stand-starts, but never the full sit. I showed it to a few friends and soon my Swedish friend Oskar made the first ascent. I came frustratingly close last spring, but I was still unable to link it all together.

While projecting I bounce back in fourth between ecstatic enthusiasm and optimism and battles with insomnia, depression and self-doubt. Worse yet, I'm afraid my friends and family felt the brunt of my mood swings. All for something that probably seemed so trivial. Late last spring I came to the conclusion that I needed a break, I was headed down a negative path and I wanted this project to be a positive experience.

Fast forward to Autumn, 2007. After two months of building a base of easier boulder problems I'm finally feeling like my body and the weather is good enough to return to the project. I'm hesitant however. In my previous experiences with sieging a project I've never picked up a project that I'd left undone. Of course, I always intend to go back and in many ways I still do, but for one reason or another I've left those projects behind. I think part of it comes from not wanting to return to that negative state of being. I think another part of my apprehension comes from the fear that the extra time spent working the project will be time wasted. In the end the potential positives out-weighed the negatives and I returned, as my friend Paul would say, "to slay the dragon."

The first day on was just a chance to re-acquaintance myself with the problem. It felt hard, but not out of reach. Optimism is regained. The second day is tough. A bunch of friends have come along and the cameras are rolling. I'm frustrated because I feel stuck at my old crux sequence. I am motivated, however, by watching my good friend Kevin climb the problem. At this point only four people have climbed "Pine Box" all of whom are taller and have longer arms than I do. I don't like making my height an excuse, but for me this problem requires a totally different sequence that is by all accounts much more intense.

On day three I make a go at it alone. Maybe the solitude will help? Alas, it is not to be. I do make some progress, but I haven't even returned to my high point of the previous Spring. I return home in a foul mood. My friends do their best to lift my spirits and it helps some, but not enough. I can feel myself drifting toward that dark place in my mind. I even entertain thoughts of quiting, "I'll give it 1,2,3 days more and then I'm done, that's it." Then I remember, last year on Thanksgiving I sent my hardest problem to date, the "Thong Cave." It was not an all-consuming project, yet it was still a major achievement for me. Perhaps I would have similar luck this Thanksgiving?

I woke up this morning and immediately set into my pre-planned routine.

1. make some tea
2. eat a banana
3. do some yoga while watching bouldering videos
4. make and eat a sandwich with peanut butter, Nutella, and puff (marshmallow spread)
5. get changed and go climbing.

Even my warm-up was more deliberate than usual and thankfully the weather was prime, very cold and very dry. On my first attempt I reached my high point from the previous Spring. My first reaction was one of frustration, but quickly changed to one of optimism. I had improved and it didn't feel that hard. Instead of trying again right away I forced myself to take a walk. I let my mind wander and my focus slowly drifted away from the project to all the new boulders I was seeing. After a while (who knows how long) I decided it was time to try again. From the moment I exhaled as I began the first movements, till the moment I was hanging from the high holds that mark the end of the crux, I was climbing unconscious. It is impossible to describe, but it was amazing. When I realized where I was I took over my body and became very deliberate about my movements and my breathing. Moments later I was screaming at the top. If I wasn't so pumped full of adrenaline I probably would have cried.

This experience, has been so rewarding. I don't think I've fully wrapped my mind around it all, but I've already learned so much. Some people would probably scoff at the process and think that it is ludicrous to invest so much time and energy into climbing a little rock that I could easily walk up from the other side. Those people are the same people that are content living in a pacified society that doesn't often test the fabric of our beings. I'm not one of those people. While I recognise that the significance of this project does not extend beyond my own selfish world, I also know that the experience has made me a stronger person and better able to face those challenges that do have meaning to the rest of the world, my friends, and my family.

Thanks to everyone that encouraged me or suffered from my mood swings, I couldn't have done it without you. Fifteen days of attempts over a years time and it was all worth it.

Happy Thanksgiving-

Friday, November 9, 2007

For Peter

So I was told recently, in no uncertain terms, that I need to update my blog more. Well, I appologize and I'm happy to know that at least one person is deriving some entertainment from my banter.

The drought in postings is due in part to the fact that I've been taking less pictures no that John has setteled into the house. His photos are so much better than mine I end up leaving the picture taking to him, or I pick up his camera and start snapping. Using his toy certainly motivates me to make a little money some day to upgrade. The other reason I've taken less photos is that I've been bouldering a ton lately. Some FA's some established problems, everything is excellant. When I get some pics of the new stuff I'll post on Betabase.

A lot of people I've talked to recently have been asking me if I've been climbing a lot of routes lately. This is a perfectly uderstandable question given my current residence, but I feel like I'm letting people down when I say "no". Throughout most of my climbing life I've been most interested in and taken pride in being an all-around climber. I feel like this interest has served me well and has honed my skills more than if I was only focused on either sport climbing, tradional climbing, or bouldering alone. Along the way I've always set personal goals for myself, some lofty, some not so much. In hindsight I've achieved many of my easier goals, but the more ambitious ones have usually elluded me. It is because of this that I've temporarily put my sport and traditional climbing goals on hold to focus on several lofty (for me) bouldering goals. So, while just going bouldering in Yosemite may be blasphamey to some, to me it means the oppritunity to make my dreams a reality. Was that a little cheesey?

Here is a shot John took of me on a problem call "Pommel Horse" at the Ahwahnee Boulders the other night. Usually it finishes right but it was so dark that I couldn't see the holds that way, even with a headlamp, so I went slightly left.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Visitors Like Whoa!

We had a busy weekend here at my home in the ditch, and what better timing could there be? The leaves are yellow and red, the air is cool and crisp, and I had a four day weekend!

There was lots of sending this weekend, which always adds to the already enjoyable experience of hanging with friends, being outside, and bouldering. Most notably, Ethan Pringle made the second ascent of "Sasquatch" in about 20 min. of effort. I believe it took Dean Potter several years of effort before he got the first ascent. Dean climbed it barefoot, Ethan chose to use one left shoe, he also suggested a V11 rating (the problem was previously unrated). Prior to his ascent of Sasquatch Ethan flashed the third ascent of "King Air" and climbed "Dominated," not a bad day for him. The other most notable ascent goes to Paul Barraza, he made the second ascent of "Pine Box" this Sunday.

I got in on the action, albeit at not quite as difficult a level, with ascents of "Flatline" and "Motorcade". Both are lines that I've spent a lot of time daydreaming about, but never got around to trying. Fortunately, there was a motivated team of fellow climbers and spotters and I was lucky enough to climb both within a couple of attempts. John took a lot of photos this weekend so hopefully he'll post up. Check his blog for more (and better) images.

Vicki at the Sentinel boulders

Sunday, October 14, 2007

No News is Good News

I came home to Davis this weekend for my mom's wedding. Not long after I arrived I was informed that one of my friends was particularly worried for my health because I had not posted in a while. I assure you all I'm fine and have just been consumed with work, climbing, and visiting with friends.

While many of you may have already heard that Alex and Thomas Huber have broken the speed record on the Nose by about 3min., most of you were probably unaware of another attempt on this rout that was only interesting because of how it ended. Apparently a couple of gumbies trying their luck on this route could properly attach there "poop tube" (a modified bear canister) to their haul bag properly and launched it from just below the "stove legs" pitch. By the grace of God there had yet to be any fecal matter deposited in said container and fortunately no one was hurt by the falling receptacle. Word on the street is that the two would be ascentionist have not given up yet and may be returning in the spring for a second attempt. Be very afraid.

If you're interested in more bouldering news I've made my first contribution to the Betabase website. Check it out.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Noah's Arc

A busy weekend here in the Valley. First of all, the Yosemite Facelift organized by Ken Yager was in high gear. Ken deserves a lot of credit and one of your beers for all the hard work he's put into this event. Ken personally invested $6,000 of his own dough to make the fourth annual event a reality. This year over 41,000 pounds of trash was collected. The majority of the weight came from abandoned construction materials and even a 1950's era car, but the majority of the garbage included candy bar wrappers, bottles, cans, and everbodys' favorite...used toilet paper.

Here's George at headquaters on Saturdauy. George volunteered everyday of the event.

Here's a picture of Alex Honold climbing the new classic "Atlantis." Alex recently free soloed "Astroman" on Washington Column and the "Direct Northwest Face" of the Rostrum in a day! It makes me quiver just thinking about it.

In bouldering news, there was a genuine posse of boulders in the Valley this weekend. Paul, Lyn, and Tim from Berkeley, Ian, Wills, and Lisa from Bishop, Dave and Lana from Sacramento, and Ryan and Peter from Davis were all motivated to trash themselves on new and old problems alike. First to go down was "That's How Murder Happens." I believe Wills was first to send but Noah was equally responsible for making the line possible, it is a phenomenal boulder problem. I was lucky enough to get in on the action and do an amazing first ascent this weekend. Noah Kaufman first cleaned the line and was really psyched about trying to send. I had scoped it out previously, but had dismissed it as either too hard or too reachy. Noah's enthusiasm was infectious however so I had to give it a try. Unfortunately, Peter and Ryan had to head home and I wanted to accompany them back to my house. I asked for them to wait so I could try it just once, "I'm sure... only one try" was Ryan's sceptical response knowing full well that I'd probably get really excited and want to work on the problem until I sent or was bleeding from my fingertips. I assured him that I would only give it one try from the time I made it to the starting holds (the problem required me to jump awkwardly off of another small bloc to reach the starting holds). Sure enough, after a few false starts, I stuck the starting hold and continued up to the top. I called it "Noah's Arc" because without Noah's influence I wouldn't have done it and because of the dramatic arc created by one's body when they latch the starting hold. Unfortunately there are no pictures because it all happened so fast. It'll just have to wait until Noah returns to send for himself. Here instead is a Picture of Lyn trying almost as hard as her spotter Paul on "That's How Murder Happens."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Que Sappy Love Song

Is that not the cutest face you've ever seen? I'm talking about the bear cub of course not my goofy mug. This big baby weighed a whopping 63 pounds! That's a ton for a bear less than a year old. I thought about stealing him and trying to teach him to fetch the newspaper and such. I'd have named him Bunny and given him a blue collar. Seriously, this was way cooler than going climbing today. Everyone loves a baby bear, but this one is mine.

By the way, the Yosemite Facelift is off and running again so get out there and pick up some garbage. If you can't make it here go somewhere locally and do your part...Unless you're Alan Moore and locally means the Riverside Quarry. Then, if you're Alan Moore, go find an abandoned 1986 Honda Civic that has been reincarnated as a homeless shelter in its second life and tow it the crag so that it can be with all of it's relatives.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Its raining, which is nice for the scenery but not for the climbing. Still, I did two new problems today, both on the same boulder as "Merit." "Atom Smasher" in particular is excellent. Pictures will have to wait until some more of my friends with normal jobs or my lazy unemployed friends get up here to pose like Madonna for me and my picture taking machine. Sorry.

Here is a picture of Fire instead. Cool eh?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Birfday Visit

I had some visitors this weekend. Vicki (see above), Peter (seen below on "Battle of the Bulge", which he sent), and my dog Turtle. We went bouldering and had a super time. I have to recommend a problem that I had previously been more or less unaware of. "Hammerhead" in Camp 4 is a super-awesome-mega-classic not to be missed by the highball connoisseur.

You know what the best part about my birthday was, aside from seeing my dog? Treats. I was buried in yummy treats by my friends. Tammy Lynn made cheesecake, Vicki made lemon poppy seed, and my mom sent a poppy seed cake as well.

In a bit of climbing news Tommy Caldwell has made the possible second ascent of Chris Sharma's boulder problem "Thunderbird" in Toulumne Meadows. He also made a rare repeat of Ron Kauk's "Peace". Expect more exciting sends from him and Beth later this fall.

It is cooling down here, which means it is time to get serious and send some hard stuff. If you haven't heard yet there is a ton of climbing to be done in the Valley, don't miss out.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Late Nights

"Seat of the Pants"

After several long nights working as late as 6:00am, I have a couple of days off. Yesterday I went bouldering in Camp 4. I met a nice Austrian dude by the name of Deiter? He told me to just call him "D" so I did. He has been travelling the world for a while and is planning on staying in the states for several months. Recently D has been in Peru and and Brazil. His stories of Brazil were quite intriguing and made all the mo' betta by promises of fantastic beachside and inland climbing.

D on "Baby Bear"

"Team America"

Today I took my housemate, Tammy Lynn, on her first mountain climbing adventure. We went to the Glacier Point Apron and climbed "The Grack," a perfect introduction to Yosemite climbing. Here are some pictures of her making her first "summit" and first rappel. Way to go Fucker!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


I established a new boulder problem recently that required a bit of vision and tenacity. Not to climb, of course, but to clean up. This problem raised the question that every first ascentor faces, "is it worth it?" Of course what makes one climb worth while or not is different for everybody but I have a few specific questions I ask myself before scrubbing. Is the environmental impact of cleaning a particular line going to be egregious? Is the problem going to be worth doing? Is anyone besides myself going to enjoy it? How long will it take to clean? and vice-versa, how long will it take to recover if it is never again to be climbed?

I named this problem in light of this internal conflict, I thought it was worth it.

"Merit" (V3)

Oh, and if you were wondering why you are supposed to clip those carabiners on the dumpsters in Yosemite, or any bear habitat for that matter, this is what happens if you don't.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A salveged day.

Today I had made plans to climb a couple of pitches of the Rostrum with climbing ranger extraordinaire Jesse McGayhee. Just about the time I was starting to expect his arrival I got a call from my boss, Tori, asking if I'd help "work up" a bear that had been trapped the night before. Fortunately, Jesse is an understanding fellow and took this opportunity to spend a few hours taking care of domestic duties.

Here you can see me give "Blue 1" the old reach around. Just trying to make him comfortable.

The best part about living and working in Yosemite, from a climber's perspective, is that after work you can easily get in a fulfilling climbing fix. That is exactly what we did today. Jesse and I headed over to Lower Cathedral Rock for some cragging and I made amends by helping Jesse with his job. First we recovered a fixed line that had been left on a project for about three years. It took a while but I owed him. We climbed a couple of really nice routes there as well. In particular a 5.11d (I don't know the names of any of these routes), which I was able to onsight just barely. The rock quality was spectacular, the movement was varied, and the view was second to none...unfortunately, I left the camera at home.

As a consolation prize here is a picture of my friend, Jesse Burkhart bouldering a problem called "Circuit Breaker." I highly recommend this problem if you like crack boulder problems.

For perspective, here is a shot of me on the same problem.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Back in the Ditch

This is the view from my new front porch. Whatcha think?

I'm back at the center of the climbing universe (at least that's what they tell you in Camp 4) and I'm psyched to climb and chase some bears. It's a bit hot for the really hard stuff but its still good enough conditions to go cragging. Still, I couldn't resist exploring for new projects yesterday and of course, Yosemite never fails, I was rewarded with some promising looking lines.

This one looks really hard.
I was very disappointed in the amount of garbage I saw in the stream bed yesterday. I would like to say I was surprised but that would be a lie. I know that there will always be some incidental litter wherever there are people but I would like to think that in a National Park people would be a little more careful with their garbage. Unfortunately, the Disneyland mentality prevades and people assume that because it's a Park they will be cleaned up after.

This rubber duck has seen better days. I gave him a proper burial in a dumpster.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Bishop in August?

Ryan finishing the "Iron Man Traverse"
Ryan West and I decided to make a short bouldering trip to Bishop the other night. It was actually well worth the effort. We arrived at the Buttermilks around 10pm and were welcomed by sixty degree weather and we were the only ones there. Can't remember the last time that happened, probably sometime between '00 or '01. Truth be told, the session we had Thursday night was probably the most fun I've had in the Buttermilks in a long time. There was no moon out while we were climbing that meant that our only light was from our two Coleman lanterns. It was like climbing on little orange globes in a sea of blackness. It was romantic for sure, I only wish Ryan would have been more willing to snuggle. Before calling it quits for the night I wanted to do one last problem on the Birthday Boulders, the aptly named "Birthday Direct". Just as I was about to pull on with my right hand I noticed this little guy.

He's facing down on a vertical wall of patina, just showing off.

The next day we chilled out at Lake Sabrina before heading up to Rock Creek for a short session. We were fatigued from the previous night but laying around and bouldering a little amongst quaking aspens and a gurgling stream is really good for the soul and we had a good time just hanging out.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

The begining of the end

We begin with a Dragonfly.

Well, I've gone and done it now. Another blog begins, more inane ramblings intended for a grand audience yet destined for the obscurity of close friends and relatives. Let's all hope for the best because this blog is a slippery slope towards a fine line between uncharted waters and cliche. Hmmm.

I make no promises as to the nature of this blog's content, quality, nor it's frequency or grammatical standards. I am also willing to acknowledge that this may be a doomed experiment destined to survive only a single post.

Are you on the edge of your seat yet?