Every year I do something fun to celebrate my Birthday. It started with Half Dome cables in 2012 and continued to include backcountry river fording adventure in the Eastern Sierra and an overnight at the top of Royal Arches. This year I co-conspired with the lovely Sadie Skiles to climb 30-costumed pitches in a day for my 30th birthday.
I’ll be the first to admit, this isn’t really that impressive compared to Alex Honnold’s 290 pitches for his Birthday in 2014, but hey. He didn’t wear any costumes.read more …
The prior weekend I spent two hours leading one 100ft sustained 10b off-width. Having to clear cams on lead 3-4 times after they fixed themselves bumping them on Mental Block. Which kinda told me that Lauren and I were not ready for the notorious Steck-Salethe. So why not take on one of the most sandbagged climbs in the valley instead? NE Buttress of Higher Cathedral: an 11 pitch climb cruxing out at 5.9++.read more …
On Memorial Day weekend I had to get creative after having to abandon my Sonora Pass destination due to an abnormally wet Spring. Using my Where To Climb App I was able to find somewhere dry, it was just 6 hrs away. There was a
It. Has. Stopped. Raining!!! For nearly the first weekend since December, it was no longer raining in California so we could get out and climb. It is very snowy in Yosemite Valley, but Down Canyon is warm and mostly dry. Time for some awful off-width and super slacker knobs.read more …
One of the most striking parts I remember about Free Solo, featuring Alex Honnold trying free solo 3000 granite feet of El Cap, was when he was filling out his mental health questionnaire before an MRI to measure his fear tolerance. He was discussing in classic Honnold fashion about how much of a no big deal free soloing is, but then pauses on a question. “Am i depressed… huh…” he contemplates.
Some of the most enjoyable trips I’ve had are pulling into to medium-small climbing areas where I have no expectations and being blown away by the rock and route quality. The availability of camping and access. The lack of crowds. Places like the crystal crusted granite Needles of South Dakota, the steep North Shore cliffs of the Palisade Head in Minnesota and splitter gray cracks of Woodfords Canyon in East Tahoe. On my pilgrimage out to the Great Salt Lake for the Thanksgiving holiday, Sadie and I discovered a new such area in Saint George. Choosing to leave the lines behind at Red Rock for exploring the mysterious 1000+ routes around Saint George just two hours away.
“I could actually die or get seriously injured out here”, plunged into my brain stem at 12,500 ft, six hours into my climb of Temple Crag on Moon Goddess Arete. I had just lifted my foot off a refrigerator sized block that had shifted and nearly tumbled 1000 ft down the mountain. I also didn’t love the single cam in a short horizontal crack laid 30 ft diagonally to my left as the last piece of protection I had placed. This was what the last hour was like as I searched on lead to find a long ‘4th class ledges’ traverse using conflicting information among deteriorating rock quality. Things had changed drastically since my emboldened attitude that we could probably link neighboring Celestial Arete Venusian Blind with a scramble or traverse up Mt. Galey.
The California Needles can be described as alpine cragging. A mix of Lover’s Leap style multi-pitch and Toulumne Meadows dome extrusions with decent approaches. Most climbs are on splitter cracks 5.9 or above. The cracks vary more than Indian Creek or Yosemite, sometimes widening out into slab sections. Fist or wider is not uncommon on a ‘splitter hand crack’ and we used our #4 more often than not. Over the course of three days I was thoroughly tired after climbing a total of 3000+ ft of 5.9+ classic routes. Definitely a place for any 5.9 and especially 5.10 climber to check out.
Shuteye Ridge is a place I love sharing with people. It has crazy interesting granite unlike I’ve seen anywhere else with its dark runnels and plates of knobs. It is also the place I lead sport for the first time, went on my first multi-pitch and placed my first trad gear (all in one trip!). On a Memorial Day weekend when you cannot seem to get away from traffic and people, even one of the most popular areas of Shuteye (Big Sleep) was a respite. Yes, there was a ten car group of 4×4’ers and a few other groups out on the big sleep slab camp area. However, we never waited in line and most of the time were completely on our own or only ‘near’ one other party.
This last year I’ve been trying to break into 5.10- trad. Being the stronger climbing partner of my team, that often meant pushing myself on lead. However, decking from blown gear last August lost a lot of my lead head and confidence to climb, even at the levels I was previously confident. However, I’ve had a resurgence over the last month of not only getting my confidence back but pushing into 5.10 trad. I’m really proud of myself and feel empowered by what I’ve learned.