Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

Last night I couldn't sleep. Sure the cold I'm nursing played a part in it, but there were certainly other things running through my head besides all the snot. I finally fell asleep just after the sun rose around 7:00am. Peace came to me when I resolved that I had realized some profound truth about my life. Of course, as soon as I woke up I couldn't recall a bit of it and quickly set about making some tea.

New Year's Eve usually is a melancholy night for me. I'm not fond of the passage of time . I don't enjoy feeling like I have less of it than I started off with, and the New Year is just a reminder of this. However, I'm not feeling particularly down this year. Maybe its because at this time last year I was demoralized about a badly injured finger and contemplating its potential effects on an up coming trip to Hueco, and now I'm not. Or maybe because last year I was still a bit heart broken and lonely, and now I'm not. Regardless, on this New Year's Eve I'm actually quite optimistic.

In a matter of days I'll be leaving for Hueco Tanks in west Texas. This will be my second trip to the bouldering mecca and my first without any injury induced limitations. This time I'm staying longer too. Following that, I have a brief trip (about a week) with Kevin to visit Robyn in Atlanta, and to boulder in the surrounding area. After the trip to the south I have a little bit of unplanned time. I'd like to get back to 'Dogwood' in Yosemite, if the weather allows, and I'd like to do a short trip to Vegas. I'll probably end up going to Bishop some, and I'll be headed to Arizona for spring training with my Dad and my sister, Brooke. In April I plan on going back to work in Yosemite for around two months and then its off to the Rocklands of South Africa! I've been dreaming about this trip for a few years now and I'm ready to see it into fruition. After what will hopefully be a three month stay in SA, I'll return to the States with the intention of going back to work in Yosemite for the Autumn season. This is a little up in the air now and its not entirely in my hands. Who knows what happens after that? Kalymnos maybe...a little sport climbing...John, Shannon, I love you...

Anyway, I feel extremely blessed right now. I have a lifestyle that I've dreamed about having since I started climbing, I've got an amazing community of like-minded friends and family, and I have my health.

Thank you everyone, you've all contributed to 2008 being a wonderful year for me. I hope 2009 brings just as much joy to each of you and I look forward to our sharing in more wonderful adventures.


Sunday, December 28, 2008

John Gill

The inventor of the one-arm lever.

I just read the book John Gill: Master of Rock by Pat Ament and I really enjoyed it. Like many other climbers I've been exposed to plenty of Gill lore and the occasional written account of his feats, but until now I've never fully appreciated what kind of man he was.

Its rather humorous to me the esteem in which Gill is held by many climbers without knowing much about what he'd done or what he enjoys. In several recently printed bouldering guides a star scale used for rating the quality of individual boulder problems is described. This scale rates problems that have only just enough holds to make a given climb possible over problems that have enough holds to allow for variations or deviations. Gill, in who's footsteps we all follow, felt just the opposite was true. "A good bouldering route is not one where the sequence of holds is perfectly obvious."

Another contrast to the current bouldering scene is evident in his interest in style. "In bouldering you're concerned as much -if not more- with form, style, elegance, and route difficulty as you are with getting to the top." An afternoon spent at any popular bouldering area would quickly convince a doubter that the current generation (myself included) does not afford form, style, or elegance as much concern as did Gill or most other climbers from previous eras. Personally, while I aspire to maintain good form, I'd rather climb an elegant line that has less interesting moves than a lowball traverse with fascinating movement...but certainly there is room for both.

Just a few days ago a friend of mine that happens to be quite strong and is also quite familiar with gymnastics told me it would be nearly impossible for someone his size (6') to do an iron cross. John Gill was 6'2" and could do one with perfect form and on occasion he could do and inverted one as well. Physically, he was a beast and he was self motivated. At age 50 Gill tore his bicep completely. A year later he was still able to do one-arm pull-ups off of a 5/8" edge.

I could recount all of John Gill's various feats and contributions to the sport/lifestyle that I'm so passionate about, but I'm not really sure why I would. I'm not really sure why I'm writing this blog in the first place. I guess its just nice to know that people like John Gill and Fredric Nicole are still out there to keep us all in place.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


I'm in Florida now, visiting my dad. This is the view from the back porch of the guest house. So far it has been about as expected, lots of lounging and eating. We did take "the kids" for a walk today, which was nice.

My dad has lived in Florida since '98 and in all of my visits this is the biggest boulder I've found. I will never live in this state.

An impostor!

I got a couple of really nice shots of this guy. Doesn't it look yummy?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Past Week

I haven't climbed in about a week...I'm ready for the desert.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Monday, December 8, 2008

Falling and Failing in Fall

Here's some video of my most recent attempts at 'Dogwood'. I'm starting to feel guilty dragging spotters out there for all of this falling.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

6 Days

I only have six days off of work before I leave Yosemite for the season. GOD DAMN! I'm not ready to leave, there is so much left to be done. I'm just hoping the weather remains splitter so that I get to climb on the precious few remaing days. I know I'm spoiled and I should be grateful for the time that I'm given, but I'm spoiled and I really want more!

Sigh...back to work.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


I just worked out on the gymnastic rings with Kevin. It has been waaaay too long since I last did this. Like two years maybe? Needless to say I'm spent and I'm eagerly awaiting the salmon that is being cooked for me as I type this. I think I'm going to try and incorporate rings into my training for South Africa....hmmmm...South Africa.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Couple Shots From Yesterday

Here I am absorbing Randy Puro's soul. I will steal your climbing powers too if you are not careful.

Kevin is bashful but he climbs well so here he is climbing "Leroy" yesterday.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Progression is so uplifting. One can easily be overcome with feelings of optimism and bright days ahead. Conversely, regression is possibly one of the biggest downers around. In climbing, it falls second only to serious injury/death as far as downers are concerned. Yesterday I had a serious battle with regression. The night before I'd gone to sleep full of optimism and high expectations of an ascent, but it was not to be. I awoke feeling groggy, my back and neck were tight and those feelings never left. I'll spare you any details of my pathetic climbing (and worse yet, my whining and complaining), but I will share this picture of my thumb.

This wound is courtesy of the amazing thumb catch on the "bone" hold on Dogwood. I loved this just the other day, now I wonder if I'll ever love again?

In other news, my brother just welcomed his second son into the world. Wyatt, I can't wait to meet you! Also, Alan sent a long term proj. yesterday so that's sweet too.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I wish I was posting about a new big send but that's not in the cards tonight. Instead I just want to express my sympathies to two good friends who lost a member of their family on Monday. To non dog owners it may seem silly how invested we are in our 'pets,' but to those of us who know better, it is extremely painful to say goodbye to ones' canine companion. Hearing Tim's voice on the phone was enough to make my eyes water and seeing the pain in Patti's eyes made my heart ache. I know from experience that this kind of grieving does not pass easily, nor should it, but I hope the two of you know that your friends love you and are here if you need us.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I Love Rock Climbing!

Some sending today! We had a little gang bang session on "Cindy." Kevin, Wick, Tim D., and myself all sent the rig today. I think this doubles the number of ascents the problem had ever seen in its many years of existence. Mad props to Randy for doing all of the dirty work. This problem used to be referred to as "Sydnie" but that was a mistake apparently. For more on that check Betabase soon.

Kevin made this problem look incredibly easy. He put two laps on it today and did not look like he was trying very hard.

Afterward, we headed over to 'Dogwood' for a late session. It went incredibly well for me because I was able to latch the "bone" hold twice (a first). This was especially exciting because conditions were a bit moist to say the least.

Going to try 'Drive On' tomorrow, hopefully there will be more good climbing news in the evening.

Friday, November 7, 2008

More Projects

So many projects, so little time. It feels good to climb on some new stuff again. I'm sorry Sock hands, I tried to get people over to "Drive On" but I failed to rally anyone. Soon my friend, soon. Until then, enjoy the prospects presented here.

Close, but needs a little cleaning up top

Did the high start yesterday, "Villain," but the sit will add a lot of difficulty.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New Project?

So how long can the ever restless mind of an obsessed climber go without a focus for that obsession? Not long in my case apparently. Monday was supposed to be a chill day of trying stuff I'd never been on before and for the most part it was. At the end of the day, however, I decided to give Dogwood a few tries because I was there to spot Kevin anyway and because it is a remarkably enticing line. I had tried it once before, last winter to be exact, when it was still a project. I remember thinking that it was one of the coolest lines I had ever tried but that there could be a stopper move (at least for me) on it. Well, I gave it three attempts on Monday and on all three I reached the same high point. The best attempt (most controlled) can be seen below.

I think I'll be spending some time here in the near future.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I'm a Ninja!

When I woke up this morning I was my average self, 5'8" (maybe), 148lbs., near-black mop of hair, needing a shave, and hungry for granite. Before I lay down for sleep tonight I'll tower at 6'6", I'll shake the earth with my brutish mass, women will flock to my side, and best of all I will know that I am a NINJA for I have completed my greatest climbing project to date, the 'Yabo Roof'.

There is so much I want to say about this climb and this experience, but I don't know where to begin. I guess the logical place would be the beginning...

On my first climbing trip my friend Eric Schmidt took me to Bishop in the Fall of '02. We climbed sport routes in the Owens River Gorge and bouldered at the Buttermilks, the Happies, and the Sads. On my first day at the Buttermilks I climbed the 'Cave Problem' on the 'Cave Boulder,' it was rated v6. I was mighty pleased with myself but also quite humbled. Imediately to the right of this problem was Chris Sharma's 'The Buttermilker' v12 (since uprated to v13). I couldn't fathom it. I believe I told Eric at the end of that day, that I could see myself climbing a v10 some day but that I'd never be able to do a v12. He confidently shot me down and stated that he knew, judging by my performance that day I could climb v12. I appreciated the sentiment but quietly dismissed this as pure fantasy.

I don't normally talk about grades on this page because I feel like they receive too much attention in the lion's share of climbing media. I'm not some pretentious prick that insists that grades are worthless or some such nonsense. On the contrary, I think grades are valuable tools for measuring one's development as a climber, goal setting, and for the practical reason of informing the climber of an expected level of difficulty. Certainly they are not the end all be all of climbing, but there is value.

This all leads back to the 'Yabo Roof'. Last year I set the goal for myself to climb a v12. Not just any v12 mind you but something worth the effort. I wanted a 'Mandala', a 'No More Greener Grass', or a 'Yabo Roof'. Classics, that would be classics anywhere. This summer I found myself poised to start working on later of these problems. I had oodles of time, relatively cool night time temperatures and boat loads of enthusiasm. The process was a rewarding roller coaster affair as projecting tends to be and I'm glad it ended the way it did. On my two previous projects this past year, Pine Box and Narcissus, I sent them alone with the squirrels and the trees as my only companions. It was appropriate for those times and possibly necessary for my success. This time however I was surrounded by friends. Some of you, whom have supported me so much over the years, could not be there, but I assure you that you were there in spirit lighting my way through the dark, from hold to hold, onto the summit.

Tonight I walk on water, the star burn brighter, and the air is that much cleaner. Tomorrow it will be someone else's turn and I wouldn't have it any other way. I hope all of you can feel as good as I do right now, even if its just for a few hours.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Hi Alan!

I was going to title this post 'Yummy' or 'Look What I Found' but my good pal Alan cried because I neglected to mention his visit in my last post. Hopefully this cheers you up buddy.

I found 'Two Face' the other night while working. Apparently the day prior he was caught in the excess webbing of a slackline near the Boystown housing area near Curry Village. Details are a little unclear but either while he was tangled or shortly after being released Bambi was killed by a pack of coyotes. When I found him he was being feasted upon by a very large bear, one whom happens to have an official name, Barcelona. We don't name bears anymore but they used to and this guy got his name during the Olympics in Spain. Anyway, the carcass was too close to places that people like to hang out so I had to move it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I Got Served

Shawn on 'Flatline'

On Sunday I received a thorough beat down at able hands (so to speak) of the Yosemite boulders.

The weather was not supposed to provide ideal sending conditions so I decided to forgo a session on 'Yabo' in favor of spending more time actually climbing with my friends. First on the list was Paul's new problem 'Plurality'. I haven't been spanked like this since I paid for it in Denmark (don't worry I've only been to Italy). Time after time I would try beta preferred by the less flexible fools in our posse and the first ascentionist. Finally, I listened to the suggestion of Mr. Newman and tried some previously untested beta. It worked first go. Humble pie tastes soooo good.

Next, several of the more foolish of our group decided to tape up and try the roof crack 'Ceder Crack'. Three attempts and a lot of skin loss later I was out of breath, had road rash on my back and forearms, and lay crumpled in the dirt not on top of the boulder. Tail firmly tucked between my legs at this point.

Finally, we headed up to Candyland so people could have a crack at the perfect corner problem 'Once Upon A Time'. I've done this many times before so my confidence wasn't boosted much when I did the problem without much effort. After everyone had had their turn I decided to try 'Happily Ever After', a tall arete just to the right of the corner. I've tried this problem on a number of occations but never had any success doing the jump move to the pocket. Apparently the boulders decided to take pity on me and I stuck the move second try, and without my feet cutting!

So, any lessons learned? Maybe, hopefully, probably not. I'm a stubborn bastard afterall.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Food Obsessed

Somehow my dog, Turtle, managed to open a previously unopened jar of pasta sauce and eat it clean without leaving any kind of mess. The only evidence (aside from the fact that she was the only one home at the time) is a small dent in the lid and some dog hair stuck to the jar. Normally I would have been pretty upset about this, but I have to admit I'm impressed and more than a little proud of my girl. I've seen video of an octopus doing something like this before but I wouldn't imagine a dog being able to pull it off without breaking the glass or something. Proud.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Here hem...Peter, pulls it out of the bag and finally sends the Chocolate Bunny. Congrats. He also sent his project over at Bridalveil too, which I believe may have been his hardest to day (if you go by the numbers at least).

I had a good/bad day on my project. I got a new highpoint, which is totally awesome because that means I stuck the crux from the ground for the first time. What was totally not awesome was having my foot pop off for no apparent reason shortly thereafter. I'm also concerned because my right bicep is starting to scream at me following each burn so I think I need some rest and to renew my opposition training.

Lastly, I'm concerned about my little superstition about wearing pink on sending days. It began innocently enough but now I'm receiving gifts from friends. My concern is that if I send wearing this stuff I may start to really believe that there is something to the superstition and who knows where that could lead? Pink nail polish? Women's undergarments? Yikes, I would not be very attractive in drag.

Lastly part 2: Here is a video of Kevin who is visiting right now.

Friday, October 10, 2008

It Snowed!

Today it snowed. It was wonderful. I think today's high temperature was 47 degrees. Also, friends glorious friends are arriving in mass this weekend. Shawn, Dave, and Beth all hung out today. John, Shannon, Raza, Lynn, Tim, Patti, Randy, Mandi, Peter, and Gus should all be arriving some time tonight with Kevin due tomorrow morning.

I had a good day on "Yabo" despite a right bicep that is starting to feel the effects of a lot of right arm intensive climbing. I have now done all of the moves and I think its just a matter of time. So psyched!!

On a totally unrelated note, I got my official ballot in the mail today and I'm very excited to mail in my Obama vote. I was just reading some quotes from McCain/Palin town hall meetings and rallies in Wisconsin and Minnesota. I'm can't express enough how afraid I am of voters the likes of which, were in attendance. For example, "I don't trust Obama. I have read about him and he's an Arab." Um, seriously? This it the train of thought that determines our future? Oh lord, we're in trouble.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


I was going to go bouldering today but we ended up trapping a bear last night so I worked till 5am and did not have the energy for it when I woke up. Its probably 80 degrees right now anyway so maybe its a good thing. I'm planning on going out after work (it should be in the 40's by then) so hopefully that goes well.

I'm extremely antsy to be climbing. I miss it right now even though I went out on Monday. I think it has just been too long since I've been able to throw myself at it and not feel the constraints of work, family, friends, relationships, and weather. This coming weekend will be the first that I've spent here in the valley in over a month and a half! It couldn't happen at a better time.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

First Fall Session

These are from my first session in Yosemite during daylight hours in a really long time. It was especially nice because of the company I had. The problem is called "Barrel O' Laughs" and was first done by Noah Kaufman last spring. I would not recommend his method of topping out though.




I have a wedding this coming weekend but after that I'll be spending most of my free time bouldering again. Psyched!

Monday, September 22, 2008


For my birthday (I'm 46 if you haven't heard) I decided to do something I had not done in over 10 years, I went to Disneyland. I had the perfect excuse of course, to visit my beautiful girlfriend who recently moved to San Diego for school.

Oh the possibilities. I understand that they used to pay people to climb up and down this thin in traditional Swiss attire to compliment the ambiance. That would be a sweet gig.

The swing is inside a giant orange at California Adventure. I'd never been here before because it was not open the last time I visited Disney.

I was hoping to get picture with a "Disney Princess" for the blog but I would have had to wait in line for over an hour!

Taking care of business at the designated location.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Mr. Toad's Wild Secret

Mr. Toad has some 'splainging to do.

Low and behold the really dark secret behind "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride," it is not some creepy cut-out illuminated with black lights inside the ride. No, if fact it lurks behind his awe shucks gaze and fancy dress.

One might ask, 'but what could good 'ole Mr. Toad possibly have to hide?' Well, if you look closely you'll see the pinched between his index and thumb is something even a little more green than his skin. It's a spliff! No wonder Mr. Toad has such a crazy ride he's high as kite.

Monday, September 8, 2008

More Way Lake

Beth on some traversing atrocity dubbed "Princess Peach"

I went to Way Lake again on Saturday. The highlights for me were the grilling at the end of the day in the parking lot and a highball FA I called "Sacrificial Sherpa". The name stemmed from Jeff's sacrificing his eye to protect Randy's fall on an early attempt and a nod to the potential for injury to happen upon the poor spotter that volunteers to guard the terrible landing. I also got really excited about the roof project Jeff has been working on. I figured out some wild beta the involves a 360 and feet first climbing through the roof. Its really neato.

Right now I'm at my godfather's house in San Anselmo, in the north bay. My dad came out for a few days and we caught a Giants game tonight. I'll also be heading to Disneyland on Sunday to meet up with Sarah and the Seven Dwarves. If I haven't climbed between now and then, one can expect even odds on the chances of my being arrested for trying to climb the Matterhorn. I'm actually a bit curious about how long it would take them to catch me...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Last Sunday Morning

The sunrise just before I went to sleep in the back of my car at Lake Mary near Mammoth Lakes, CA.

Friday, August 29, 2008


Taking a break from "Yabo" to let sore muscles have a few nights off. I will be heading up to Way Lake on Sunday to climb with the east bay crew though, that'll be fun. I'd like to try the roof project Jeff showed me last time. Not sure if its even a project anymore. Anyway, enjoy these pictures of some of my new friends.