Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Float Like a Butterfly...

The Columbia boulder is the ever present campground host of historic Camp 4 in Yosemite Valley. The massive boulder sits and watches over tourists and climbers alike as they mill about the roughshod campground cooking, sleeping, drinking, and climbing. The boulder is graced with United States' most iconic boulder problem, Midnight Lightning, which was established by Ron Kauk in 1978. The last first ascent on this boulder, 'Don't Make Me Kick Your Ass'(DMKYA), was climbed by Greg Loh and named by Chris Sharma about 12 or 13 years ago. This boulder is surely one of the most visited boulders in the world and yet it still holds a few secrets.

Last spring, at the end of a long day, the group was winding down and getting ready for the drive home. As we walked by the Columbia boulder I pointed out a few holds just a few paces to the left of DMKYA and mentioned that I thought a line could be climbed there. After brushing off a dirty sloper Paul, Randy and I began trying what would become 'Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee.'

Our initial attempts revolved around making a very hard (as yet uncompleted) move up and right to a bad sloper. Jumping off the ground one can catch this hold without too much trouble, but pulling off the ground and doing the move is another challenge all together. After a few days trying the problem Randy got fed up and started to trying a new method involving a dyno back and left to the rail that marks the start of an unnamed V0 jumpstart. This method proved to be very difficult as well, and Randy's motivation began to wane. On the day of the ascent Randy was initially just playing cheerleader, but after watching for a while he couldn't resist. The video below shows what happened next.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fall Update

At the end of September I took a rejuvenating, but all too brief trip to Colorado to climb and hang out with my old climbing partner Kevin. I didn't take many pictures and I took even less video, but here it is, the only evidence that I made a trip to the Rockies. I'll warn you now, the video isn't very exciting.

Since my trip to Colorado I've been more or less consumed with taking full advantage of the fall Yosemite season. Over the past several years I've been kept away from my beloved stomping ground for most of the peak climbing seasons for one reason or another, but this fall will be different damnit!

So far I've wrapped up my one project from last fall (and last spring), which I've named 'Ursa Major'. This line is special to me for a lot of reasons and I have to say that topping it out was one of the most satisfying things I've done climbing for a long while. Here's a crappy picture of it.

Ursa Major

I made another first ascent last Friday that I think could end up being pretty popular (if anyone every visited the area). This one is called 'Snickerdoodle' and its next door neighbors with the awesome problem Merganser and it is probably about the same grade too. Here is the video of that one...

Anyhoo, hopefully I'll stay healthy and the weather will cooperate and I'll end up with some more cool shit to share. If not, fuck it, nobody reads this drivel anymore anyway.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Gold Bar Video

Lyn and Paul just got back from their trip to Leavenworth and Gold Bar, which reminded me that I hadn't finished the second video from our trip back in June. Well, here it is.

Monday, June 27, 2011

We're Back

Becky and I arrived home late last Thursday from our trip and I think we would both like to head back out on the road as soon as possible. Unfortunately, that won't be happening. We're moving into our new place in Berkeley at the end of the week and Becky starts her new J.O.B. on Tuesday so we're pretty much going to be weekend warriors for a while.

As promised, here is the video that covers the first part of our trip in Leavenworth. There will be a second part coming along shortly after that will cover the couple of days we spent in Gold Bar, WA at the end of our trip. More on that later...

All in all, Leavenworth was bitchin'. The climbing style was fun, the rock quality varied from 'just okay' to amazing, the 'hang' in the canyons is phenomenal, and even though the Bavarian themed town gets old real quick it offers all the visiting vagabond needs in a nice tight package just a few miles from the climbing. Basically, don't go there and ruin it for everyone else!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Leavenworth Report

Becky and I are currently vacationing in Leavenworth, WA. It is a little post graduation/pre-new job trip for my lady. Becky just graduated from UCSF as a nurse practitioner and begins her new job at Life Long Medical Clinic in Berkeley at the end of this month.

So Far we've been blessed with unseasonably cool temps, which has allowed me to climb a fair amount of cool rock climbs. Becky has been getting herself reacquainted with outdoor rock climbing after a year spent mostly in the classroom, clinics, and occasionally the gym. Some things that have presented a challenge to her include: landings that are not flat, blue and carpeted, holds that are round, and top-outs. There aren't many top-outs in our climbing gyms. Still, she has done a number of very classic and tall problems as she slowly gets more comfortable. I know big things are in her future.

Personally, I've been really happy to climb a number of challenging problems of various styles. From the slopey 'Premium Coffee' to the dynamic 'The Shield'. I'm really stoked though to do a problem first ascended by my friend Herm Feissner, called 'The Practitioner'. I briefly worked out the moves on this sweet compression problem in the sun on our first day. I knew right away that I wouldn't be able to climb the whole line in those conditions with sweating fingers and warm to-the-touch rock, but I felt like with some decent conditions it might go quickly.

Yesterday, at the end of a long and productive climbing day, I decided to head over to 'The Practitioner' at about 8pm. Becky and I quickly hiked up from the parking lot, threw our two pads down, I practiced the last move twice, and then climbed it from the beginning first try!

Anyway, today is a rest day so we might drive up the road to check out the boulders around Gold Bar and Index. We've taken a fair amount of video too, so we should have a video prepared shortly after we get back to the Bay.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

New Problem

Here is a new problem from Monday evening. I first scoped this line out in 2007, but I couldn't figure out the top section, I thought it would be pretty hard. I ended up doing an easier variation that bailed out to the left on a good edge around the corner. I called this line 'Lost Shepherd,' it was fun but seemed like a cop-out. I went back on Monday and re-cleaned the top so that I could check out the moves again. Low and behold I was able to figure a sequence out that wasn't even that hard after all, so I sat down and climbed the full line. Yippee!

Here's the video. 'Slope Hand Pope Hand'

Sunday, April 24, 2011

From the Archives: Part 2

Here are a couple more problems from South Africa. Featuring my friend and boss Lyn Verinsky.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

From the Archives: Part 1

Here's some video of my friend Collin Horvat that was "lost" until recently. Becky originally shot this over the summer of 2009 while we were climbing at Rocklands.

More of these to come.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Home Again

The view of Larchant from a hilltop

I'm back in California now, and aside from visiting some loved ones I haven't done much today. The last week in France was great albeit a bit frustrating on several levels. Of course my shoulder bothered me and there were times when watching everyone climb on things I longed to try was a bit too much to handle. Also, I somehow managed to destroy a bathroom counter top by simply leaning on it and we ended up getting fleeced by the gite owner (who more than covered his expenses with his replacement fee). Of course events in Japan and Libya remind me that these concerns are relatively trivial, although still damn frustrating. I did manage to do a bit of climbing before leaving. Mostly slabs and easy stuff, but it all felt great considering I wasn't sure if I'd be able to climb at all just a week ago.


Scott on 'Irreversible'

Social hour in Bas Cuvier

A few of us wandered into Paris last week as well. Checked out a terrific art museum, had a nice lunch, visited the Eiffel Tower, and walked around a bunch, it was a nice break and I'd like to go back. I think next time I may arrange for a few nights stay in the city and explore a little bit more.

Van Gogh at Musée d'Orsay



The final few days saw the arrival of a few more friends in the forest. Ethan and Matt were supposed to be in Switzerland but the weather was crap so they joined us in Fontainebleau. Paul had already left font for the Swiss gneiss but ended up returning for the same reason.

Paul on 'Big Dragon'

Matt enjoying St. Patrick's day

I'm a bit wiped right now and don't have a lot of energy for reflection at the moment, but perhaps I'll post a wrap up or something in the near future. Maybe when I finish my little video...

Friday, March 11, 2011

One More Week

There is about a week left in my Font trip and I may have climbed my last boulder problem.

Yesterday began with a lot of optimism. I had just rested for two agonizing days with the hope that my skin condition would improve to the point of allowing me to climb some difficult boulders. Our warm up at Elephant went well enough, the weather even seemed a little better than the forecast predicted. We then headed over to Rocher Greau so that Nora could try Conquistador and I might try Megalithe or possibly Tiger et Dragon. Nora's efforts on Conquistador were inspiring as she quickly made progress and reached her new high point three or four times. My efforts on Megalithe left me with two freshly split finger tips and no ascent to ease the pain.


Next we moved over to Roche aux Oiseaux were things brightened up a bit for me. There is an old classic problem at Oiseaux that was once featured in the French bouldering film Bleau, the problem is called Le Mandarin and is notable for it's unique movement and interesting holds. For once this trip, despite the tape on my fingertips, I managed to do a somewhat difficult problem relatively quickly. I felt relieved, in a way, and rejuvenated. I wanted to move on to the next objective, Magneton. Magneton was the first hard problem I tried on the trip and I wanted a second go in better conditions. Ingar offered to spot so we headed over for quick session in the last light of the day.

Initially I could tell the problem felt much better in dry conditions and so after briefly warming up on a few moves I started trying from the beginning. After two attempts falling at the crux I knew I'd have to dig down a little harder to hang on to the terrible left hand sloper, the tape on my left index finger was definitely hindering my ability to hang onto the crux hold. On my last attempt I stuck the crux but my foot popped off it's foothold and I shock loaded my shoulder. I managed to hang on for another move fell off right after. Right away I knew something was wrong as my rotator cuff started to seize up and I started feeling some pain as I dug around in my climbing bag.

After talking with the on-call doctors of the trip, Noah and Siemay, I'm pretty sure I have torn or sprained one of my rotator cuff muscles and I probably have a small labarum tear as well. This effectively ends climbing for me on this trip and maybe for some time after. As Noah said, there is a chance it all feel much better by next week and I may be able to do a few easy classics or some slabs, but this is not all that comforting to hear.

If I were traveling alone I'd probably leave Font and just go see some more of France but that not really an option, nor financially responsible for me to do. So that's it, it was a good trip and I'm sure I'll still enjoy myself but I'd be lying if I said I'm not a bit devastated by this injury, especially following so closely on the heels of my finger injury.

At least Nora and Ingar made me dinner last night. It was delicious!

Friday, March 4, 2011


the road to P'tit Paradis

Inspired. That about sums it up right now.

The past few days have been simply blissful. I've climbed in the company of good friends, I've climbed alone, I've climbed amazing classics, I've climbed little known obscurities, and I've also just sat around and let my friends' climbing inspire me.

The weather here has officially improved as well! They've been the kind of cool crisp breezy conditions climbers dream of.

There is really nothing more to say....

....oh, I did loose my American Express somehow over that few days. I guess that little hiccup just goes to prove that I'm not dreaming and all this goodness is real.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Topping Out

Kevin on de la Terra a la Lune

The beginning of week two...

Our routine is becoming much more comfortable. Everyone seems to be sleeping well, and everyone has become accustomed to imperfect weather. We have also continued the trend of visiting new areas just about every day. At 95.2 several of us enjoyed ascents of the classic l'Ange Naif utilizing various methods, while others played on Retour aux Sources. Gorge aux Chats provided the perfect location to wrap up one afternoon. There, several people tried the beautiful face of Rubis sur l'Ongle, many of our crew scampered around on named and unnamed moderates, all the while Ingar, Randy and I tried the powerful compression problem Magneton.

Scott on l'Ange Naif

Nora on Retour aux Sources

Yesterday we all started out at a leisurely pace in a quiet sector called Canche aux Merciers. There are two standout characteristics of this place, in my opinion, that make this sector one worth visiting. First, the outstanding circuits provide something for everyone. For the uninitiated, these circuits are a series of numbered climbs that are intended to be climbed in ascending order beginning with the first. These circuits are color coded and these colors refer to their relative difficulty. Orange, I believe, is the easy mountaineers circuit for example. Canche aux Merciers has an orange, red, and blue circuit of high quality. The second stand-out attraction is a very unique tunnel right through the heart of one of the boulders. Long story short, Noah, Monica and I tried to make it through but ultimately I was the only one to fit through the tight squeeze. I'd give it a 7C+ tunneling grade. Hopefully Randy will provide some photos or video so that it can be fully appreciated because words simply will not do it justice.

Yesterday afternoon we headed back to Cuvier Rempart. The highlight of my session there was managing to maneuver my way up the classic top-out problem Baisers Voles. The top out problem is something to behold. Whereas when a climber describes a mantle problem, pocket problem, sloper problem, roof climb, or slab it is fairly easy for most experience climbers to understand or even imagine the type of climbing involved on said climb. I would venture to guess that most climbers would not be able to fully grasp the nuances and unique qualities that define 'top-out' problems unless those climbers had every visited Fontainebleau. Yes, this type of problem occurs elsewhere but with nowhere near the regularity or quality of here in Font. Now that I'm aware of this type, I know that is a style I would love to master because at the moment it feels soooo desperate!

Today was a rest day for myself, but Monica, Scott, and Randy all headed out to the rocks. I tagged along and can report the Monica is progressing on her project at Apremont, Scott made a fast ascent of de la Terre a la Lune at Gorge du Houx, and Randy made some progress on his project Tajine, also at Gorge du Houx. At the end of the day Randy joined the local boys Gregoire, Kevin, and Moon whilst they through themselves at the stunning highball Londinium. It was difficult to keep my shoes in my pack today I can tell you that, but I'm optimistic that the rest will pay off for me tomorrow.

Until the next report,

A revoir!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Quick Update

Markus of Austria on "Big Jim"

Sitting here in the gite waiting for rocks to dry. Scott and I have already been out once to get pastries and we may go again soon.

The last two days have been a mix of climbing and resting. We went into the town of Fontainebleau proper and had a walk around the Chateau's gardens. Afterward we headed over to Franchard Cuisinaire where the rest of the team was climbing. My head spun at all the rock.

Scott happy with baked goods.

Fontain at the chateau

Yesterday we had a nice afternoon at Petite Bois. I managed a few classics and everyone seemed to enjoy the nice conditions before the rain came at 4:30.

More to come.

Edit: Evening update. Today became a rest day. Below is a picture of the highlight of my day.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Welcome to Fontainebleau

I'm here and I'm happy

I awoke on Friday morning at 6:40AM after Becky's alarm went off. I of course did not wake up to my own alarm, which I set for 6:30....PM We'll call that the first bullet dodged.

Our flight was delayed about 40 minutes because of poor visibility, our layover in Charlotte was only an hour...they held our flight because 22 other passengers were trying to make the same connection.

As we were boarding in San Francisco Monica noticed Scott's crash pad on the tarmac after they had finished loading all of the other luggage...I finally convinced a US Airways employee that the bag DID indeed belong to us and we would like it on the plane.

Aside from these near misses our travel was pretty seamless. Scott, Monica and I arrived in Paris to grey skies and a bit of rain about 30 minutes ahead of schedule at 9:45am Saturday morning. We quickly gathered our bags and claimed our rental car (a brand new Picasso) and headed south to Larchant. Our quaint little gite is just a stones throw away from the beautiful ruins of the town's Basilica and it will be a perfect little home form our month long stay. After dropping off our belongings we wasted no time walking around the corner to the nearest boulangerie where we indulged our starved stomachs in pan au chocolate and a fresh bagette.


We would have loved to climb this day but the weather forced us to remain patient. We took the opportunity to walk around a couple of the local boulders though, and I wasn't disappointed. At Petit Bois we had a look at Big Jim, Big Dragon, L'Oeuf and La Baleine among a very nice circuit of moderates. All of these looked incredible. Just down the road from there is a small mound called Rocher Greau. Rocher Greau is perhaps a little less dense with

problems but it holds a few stunning gems. Both Megalithe and Tigre et Dragon were high on my "to do" list before I'd arrived and seeing them in person only reinforced that desire. Actually, upon viewing Tigre et Dragon I sorta lost my shit, here is one of the problems I'd daydreamed about for the better part of about two years and it looked even better than I'd imagined. This boulder which I'd used as a motivational tool to get me through countless training sessions and even more monotonous days behind the desk and here is sits in front of me begging to be climbed...except it was wet. Oh well, after not sleeping for 26 hours I probably wouldn't have faired too well anyway.

Tiger et Dragon

On Sunday I awoke at about 5am with bright eyes and hungry for boulders. I knew I had to be patient though because the sky was still overcast and it had rained the day before. Eventually though, we ventured out to Apremont where Scott thought we'd have a good chance at finding dry rock. Upon our arrival I doubted our chances. Every boulder felt damp if not soaked but we kept walking and eventually found some a small cluster of less wet boulders. At first I just planned on climbing a beautiful low angle slab 'just to get it out of my system' but that led to another slab, which led to a little overhang, which soon enough led me into a pretty decent warm up. At this time we were joined for the first time by Beth and Randy and shortly after by Gregoire and Kevin, two locals that Randy has know for many years. Lastly we were joined by a very slight breeze which started to blow though making more climbs increasingly possible.

By the end of the afternoon we'd all managed to get our fix. The highlights included several ascents of Motus Vivaldi and the classic Onde de Choc as well as both Beth and Monica topping out a beautiful highball called Anglomaniaque.

Nightfall could not subdue my enthusiasm and so I followed Randy out to the Cul de Chien for a headlamp session on the amazing roof of that area. I was able to do all of the moves on the classic Eclipse but was ultimately thwarted by fatigue and wet holds, Randy however was able to hang on for a quick repeat despite the dampness.

After a less than ideal night of sleep (I woke up at 3AM) I'm now eager anticipating today's action. I think we may go to Cuvier but really it doesn't matter. The feeling in the forest is magical, the vibe around the gite peaceful, and I am extremely content.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Just a Week Away

Between my last post and now not much has happened. I've festered, I've moaned, I've worked and I've climbed a little in the gym. Outdoor rock climbing has been extremely infrequent. One brief trip to Mammoth/Bishop for Becky's family reunion with a little climbing mixed in and a day at Castle Rock, that's it.

The light at the end of this dark tunnel is that a week from now I'll be on a plane to Paris where I'll spend a month in the mythical forest of Fontainebleau. Eat. Sleep. Climb. That's it for a month, I couldn't be more excited.

My finger, and my grip strength, are not yet 100% but both have significantly improved over the last 3 months. I've been able to train a bit, albeit not to the extent that I'd like, but I'm optimistic that I'll be able to grapple my way to the top of a few boulders.

Honestly though I'm really excited to just forget about life for a while, and just do what I love. I'm going to try and blog regularly while I'm there for those of you that care. I know that when I'm unable to get out I really appreciate reading about other like-minded individuals that are. So I'll do my best to contribute to the psyche-building world of climbing blogs and try to steer away from the self-indulgent sprayfests that many blogs devolve into.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Man Date

Early in December my friend, and coworker, Ryan Moon decided it was time we climbed together so he scheduled us a "Man Date" going so far as to write it into the staff calendar at Ironworks. Here is the video from our "date" at the boulders of Colombia College in Sonora, CA.

Man Date from Princess on Vimeo.