Bishop, Bishop, Bishop!

10 02 2009

So far 2009 has been a bit ripe with injury. First Lizzy pulled a muscle in her chest and then about a month ago at the gym I heard the dreaded POP in my left pinky. I took some time off, got a new pair of running shoes and kicked into running mode.  Two weeks later my new shoes were causing me foot pain but luckily I was able to return them and ended up with a fancy pair of Adidas.

Running has been going well and Lizzy and I will be competing in the Montana de Oro trail race this weekend. The timing of this race is good since when we went to Bishop two weeks back I made my finger problem first. On the third day I started off with a quick send of The Clapper V5/6 without tape on my left pinky. I felt no pain and had simply forgot to splint the finger to prevent movement. So far all was going well!

Inspired by some comments by the Narc about traverses at the Happies, Lizzy and I went over to check out Sabers of Paradise. There are three tricky traverses on the west rim, Hand to Hand Combat V7, Sabers of Paradise V7+ and Less Poetry Please V8. Previously I had done Hand to Hand going Left to Right which is a bit easier than the reverse and was excited to work on the other two.

Sabers of Paradise starts with a sweet roof with heel toe cams and progresses through thin pockets to a bunch of jug hauling to a final tricky crux. After working through the start I wanted to try the first crux, a powerful three or four move sequence. With a good right hand pocket and way undercut feet you reach left to a shallow pocket, move your feet, bump to a deeper two finger pocket and then cross right hand over to a deep pocket. When I attempted the cross I got a jolt of pain in my hand when I failed to stick the move.

I immediately rested and was worried that I had blown another tendon pulley. I felt all the parts of ring and middle finger but could not find any specific pain. I relaxed for a while and then X taped my fingers. I didn’t want to try the crux again but thought it could be beneficial to work the juggy section. After a while I figured out the moves and we left so Lizzy could climb elsewhere.

Less Poetry Please links up a V6 pocket traverse into the tricky Wills Arete V5. After figuring out the sequences for the initial traverse I spent some time playing around on the Arete without much luck. The crux is a blind throw to a fairly good hold followed by a highball topout. I was getting the setup correctly but couldn’t quite make the reach. Hopefully when I return I can climb both of the sections and work on the link.

Lizzy sent a few hard problems as noted in her blog and Julie had fun exploring the table lands. The weekend was a blast and the first two days at the Buttermilks were quite good. My inability to crimp hard with my left hand was a handicap but I still managed to do the right exit variation of Go Granny Go.  For a photo check out the Julie’s blog for a great Trip Report. Despite only sending two problems I had a great time exploring Bishop and supporting Lizzy. As always I enjoyed taking photos and we got to experiment with the bounce cards my mom got me for Xmas. I returned to San Diego with more pain in my left hand so I have been taking it easy. I will try to stay motivated and finish off a few blogs I have been working on for a while.

Enjoy the Photos,



Lizzy warms up at the Roadside Boulders.


Josh takes advantage of the morning shade to work on the Mandala.


Lizzy enjoying the super techy Pope’s Prow


Julie starts off the Pope’s Prow. (We all had to stack pads to get off the ground)


Luke tries to hold on to the south arete of the Green Wall boulder.


Julie works her way up the Sunshine Boulder.


Lizzy contemplates the first crux on the spicy Good Morning Sunshine


Luke makes due with the tiny crimps of Junior’s Achievement


Lizzy figuring out how to Buttermilk Stem


Luke tries his hand at 7 Spanish Angels AKA the Rukus


Luke is way excited to be in the shade!


Luke feels out the top moves of Get Carter


Dan Kovner crushes Get Carter


Lizzy is happy with the edging prowess of her new Muria VS’s after a send of Bad Parrot


Lizzy contemplates the starting crux of Sad Parrot


Lizzy works her way up the tricky left problem on the Pig Pen slab.


Luke makes quick work of The Clapper


Luke works through some brilliant moves on Sabers of Paradise


Luke sets up for the final crux on Sabers of Paradise


Luke tries to keep the tension and make the reach.


Lizzy takes a casual lap on the classic highball, Heavenly Path

Getting Back in Business!

4 02 2009

It’s been over a month since my injury and I am finally start to feel like I am getting better. My chest still feels tight, but I can breath deeply and run and climb, which makes me so happy. I’ve been really focusing on the training that I could do the past week or two and it really seems to be making a difference. I worked out in the weight room on campus – biceps, triceps, shoulders, and abs for climbing along with working on my calves in (long term) preparation for Sunshine Dihedral and my hamstrings to help prevent my knees from hurting in anticipation of doing more running.

Despite not climbing very much or very hard, I had a pretty successful weekend in Bishop with Luke, Julie, and Josh. Although the Buttermilks are not really my favorite (or most successful) climbing area in Bishop, I had a good time on Friday trying Pope’s Prow (V6) which I definitely hope to spend more time working on, along with the Buttermilk Stem (V1), which I just couldn’t figure out. I think the key is more yoga and stronger shoulders…


Working the initial moves of Pope’s Prow (V6)


Julie makes the most progress on Buttermilk Stem (V1)

On Saturday we went to the Sad Boulders in the afternoon, which was pretty sweet. I headed up to the Sad Parrot Boulder and climbed a couple of fun, tricky problems. I figured out some sweet Lizzy-appropriate beta for Sad Parrot (V3) involving perching on my foot with it next to my hand and reaching into a small pocket/slot. I lacked the strength to make the next move, but it was very cool getting as far as I did and I want to go back next time I’m in Bishop.


Preparing to reach the tiny pocket slot on Sad Parrot (V3)

On Sunday Luke and I headed to the Happy Boulders and visited a bunch of new areas up on the West Rim (avoiding the crowds!). I tried a lot of fun problems and ended up flashing two V2’s – a balancey slab problem and a pocketed traverse. I also climbed a thin, awesome Unnamed V3 in the Hall of Mirrors. It took me several tries, but it was sweet to figure it out – I discovered some key hidden holds, trusted my feet, and innovated a different move at the top instead of giving up when my anticipated sequence didn’t work. I don’t really keep too much track of the boulder problems I do, but I think this might have been my first V3… I also started working on Mr. Witty (V6) which is a very cool thin, balance-y, and tall problem that I really want to do some day. I still need to gain some strength to get through the bottom section, though.


Working the thin moves on the way to my send of Unnamed V3 (photo thanks to Julie and Josh)

Anyways, Luke will have a full rundown of the weekend soon. For now, I am psyched to be gaining back some strength and going full steam ahead as far as motivation is concerned. One last picture for your enjoyment:


HEHE butt shot! (Luke working on Sabres of Paradise, a V7 traverse)


Bishop In the Snow

9 01 2009

Lizzy and I spent our New Years vacation in Bishop and Mammoth. After a series of winter storms we were worried about the weather in Saint George and the consequences of becoming a belay popsicle while sport climbing.  


With plenty of jackets and the strong California sun we thought we could brave the weather in Bishop. To stay motivated we split the time by snowboarding  in Mammoth on our rest days from bouldering. We had many sunny days and our trip was stress free and fun. After visiting Bishop each of the last two months I am more psyched than ever on bouldering. 

After spending Christmas around the DC area we came back to San Diego on the 27th. Lizzy had managed to escaped a snow locked Seattle and we had a great Christmas with my Mom and family.  After repacking we headed up to a chilly night of camping on snow at the Pit in Bishop.


Lizzy warming up on sweet jugs!

The cold night and snowy landscape had us overdressed for our first day at the Buttermilks.  While Christmas had been brutal with a mix of rain and snow the midday time temperatures were quite reasonable. A seemingly cold morning quickly warmed up and although I was brushing snow out of the occasional finishing jug, I was wearing a T-Shirt and Pants. 


Starting up Flyboy (stand)

The friction was excellent and I was happy to do many problems on the Tut Boulder that I had stayed away from due to the heat on previous trips. The highlight of the day was trying Flyboy. I had heard much talk of this classic V6 but had yet to try the problem. Dynoing is far from my style and I was apprehensive about the dynamic last movie. I was able to latch the lip twice but did not believe enough to commit to the massive swing. 


Luke reaches for the last crimp before the jump on Flyboy

Catching the snowy lip was very exciting and really pushed my mental limits. I look forward to going back, controlling my fear, and sending this this problem! We stopped by the Ironman Traverse for a little while before the sun fell behind the mountains. While there was still plenty of light the temperatures quickly started dropping and we were back in the car by 4pm. Plenty tired we spent the rest of the day looking at hotel rooms and got to bed early.


About to fall off Flyboy.

The next morning we drove up to Mammoth and enjoyed a bluebird day. The sun was out and the snow was good. It was pretty warm at the bottom of the lifts but higher on the mountain it was colder.  It was my first time to Mammoth and my first time snowboarding in over three years. Lizzy had been to Mammoth around the same time two years previous. The day was fairly fall free and we got back in the groove of snowboarding. We met up with Dan Beall, from San Diego, who was up in Mammoth skiing with his family and girlfriend

We spent a very warm New Years Eve at the Happy boulders. I was able to finish up a few projects from previous trips and checked out some sweet new climbs. First I dispatched Rave, easy V7, from the sit start. On a previous trip I had done the stand but couldn’t hold onto the crimps of the start. The rest of the day Lizzy and alternated trying problems to stay fresh.  After she worked on Wavy Gravy, a crimpy and sharp V2, we moved on to The Gleaner V6. I had tried this problem breifly but hadn’t made it past the first two crimps. After attempting the  drop knee beta, I figured out that a toe hook was necessary for me. This allowed me to move staticly through the crux to gain a sharp deep pocket. Two tries with the toehook yielded a send and the day was going well.

I had never tried or seen the classic Serengetti V5 and had wanted to give it a good flash go. There weren’t any people near by but a few dudes stop by and I mooched some beta. I had a good first try and fell two moves below the jug. A different method on the 2nd go yielded the top and I was stoked to climb this classic problem so quickly. We moved from the sun into the cold shade of the rim. I was anxious to try Every Color You Are V6 . I had tried the problem a month prior on our pre-Thanksgiving trip and had gotten close to sending. After a few tries I stalled at at similar high point and vowed to return with more energy. We headed back towards the Hulk and after briefly trying Big Chicken, three-star V2, Lizzy was able to flash a fun V1 to the right of Solarium

My last objective of the day was to try out Redrum. This probe is hidden in a cave right next to the Hulk and follows a steep set of pinches to a much easier headwall. My energy was quite low and I no longer had the body tension for the moves. The holds were quite amazing and I am psyched to get back to it. 

New Years yielded perfect conditions at Mammoth and before noon the lines were super short. I think we managed more runs between 9am and 11am than we had in twice the time a few days previous. The afternoon was a bit crowded but we still had a bunch of fun. Our final day snowboarding was quite the different experience with wind, mixed ice/snow and low visibility. Because the mountain was so windy the upper lifts were closed concentrating the crowds on the lower areas. We stubbornly braved the conditions and the first few hours were quite good. 

On the morning of the 3rd we moved camp back to the Pit and got ready for our final day of bouldering. As Lizzy mentioned she pulled a muscle while coughing and was unable to boulder on the last day. Being a trooper she still agreed to hike up to the Druid Stones since we had never been. The hike was long and icey up a steep hill but it was quite worthwhile. There were no other climbers, aside from a guy hiking around with a guide book. In an effort to keep the day short I did not bring a pad but still brought my shoes. This turned worth while as the area was quite beautiful and the problems interesting. Inspired by a photo of Tiffany Cambell in the guide book, who evidently developed some of  problems in the area, I hopped on The Greatest Imperfection. This V6 looked pretty fun and the crux was close to the ground. I was able to work out the moves with a series of knee bars to a final dead point. After sticking this sequence I jumped off to err on the side of safety. While patina jugs lead to the top the final moves were a grovely series of slopers. The guidebook warned of these awkward and scary moves and I did not want to risk it.

We moved on to the Thunder Wall where I quickly worked through the moves of the classic ThunderV3  and Kredulf V4. It will be fun to go back with a pad and top out these problems! Prostrate to the Higher Mind, a short V5 lies on the right side of the wall on much different holds than the main patina covered face. Small sharp crimps stick out of the steep wall. This problem finished on jugs and after a few tries I was able to top it out. For a non climbing day I was doing well! The harder lines on this boulder warranted padding so I only fooled around for a short while before moving on to the Skye Stone. 

The Skye Stone was another amazing piece of rock and our final stop so we didn’t spend too much time on these tall problems. The routes all look spectacular and have a nice position overlooking Bishop. Despite the long hike it was well worth it. The setting and solitude alone make it a worthy detour from the more popular areas of Bishop. If all goes well Lizzy and I will return one of the next few weekends with pads and I will get to complete some of these classic problems.

Our six days in the Sierras left me yearning for more climbing. The snowboarding was fun and a good distraction but no where near as cool as playing on the amazing holds of Bishop. The bouldering is like no other granite I have climbed on. There are so many more crimps and features that allow for spectacular movement on boulders in a spectacular setting.

Happy New Year,


Welcome to 2009…

5 01 2009

My first “class” (only kind of a class since it’s an interesting seminar with free dinner) is tomorrow and will signal the end of my winter break. I’m definitely excited to jump into the new year – the last 2 terms at Caltech, hopefully a grad school acceptance letter, and lots of new adventures.

I’d been thinking about writing a “goals for 2009″ post, but I’ve decided against it because, as I’ve already been shown, life is full of unexpected turns and challenges and I don’t want to be frustrated by having a fixed agenda. Suffice it to say that I’d like to climb a bit more, run a bit more, go on more cooking adventures, and be less stressed. Those sound general enough, right?

My break has been pretty fantastic – restful, lots of visiting, a bit of climbing, and a bit of snowboarding. Marred only by being sick for almost the entire month of December. In fact, I managed to strain one of my intercostal muscles on Jan. 3rd from coughing too hard. Surpisingly to me, this muscle is involved in a lot of things – breathing, coughing, sneezing, laughing, laying on my side, using my abs, picking things up, etc… Although ibuprofen and rest seem to be helping a bit, my 2009 training will have to wait a few days. But I’m addressing one of my other goals by not worrying about it.

Luke sent some projects at Bishop (I’ll let him blog about that) and we managed to do a bunch of snowboarding without getting too bruised in the process. On our last day we checked out the Druid Stones, which we definitely want to return to next time (this was the first day of my intercostal strain, so hiking up the hill with my crashpad and then bouldering seemed out of the equation for me).

Happy 2009,


Bishop In Photos.

2 12 2008


Lizzy Boulders!

Last time I tried to post a bunch of photos I ended up talking too much. I’ll try to keep this simple.  The weekend before Thanksgiving we met up with some of my high school friends, Jamie and Hartley, in Bishop. We did a bunch of bouldering and had a blast before going to Seattle for turkey! We spent Day 1 at the Sads, Day 2 at various out-lying  Buttermilk areas and Day 3 at the Happys. Lizzy really stepped it up this trip and took some amazing photos! Enjoy!


Jamie gets some cuddle time with Belmont after re-sending Molly V5 and Strenght in Numbers V5


Jamie making quick work of Pow Pow V7/8


Jamie with the Send face on.


Hartley cruising the Edge of Reason.


Belmont surveys his Buttermilk Kingdom.


Hartley attempting Rose V5


Luke on Slashface of the Buttermilks V5



Spencer working the full Painted Cave V6


Sunset from our campsite at the Buttermilks.


Jamie on Atari V6+


Jamie making his way to the top of Atari


Spencer sending Atari


Sending  Atari is quite the experience and Jamie and Spencer are happy to have made it.


Lizzy flashing her first V4, Hard Crack


Lizzy topping out at the Tablelands.


Luke finger stacks his way through Hard Crack.


Hartley on his way to a send of Hard Crack. Due to different hand sizes we each used unique beta.


Spence continues his sending spree on Action Figure V6. Earlier that day he did Rave Sit V6/7, Atari V6+, Gleaner V7, Disco Diva V8, and The Hulk V6. 


Lizzy works on Action Figure


Byron on Action Figure


Jamie figuring out the beta for Cholos V9


Jamie trying hard on Cholos


Jamie reaches!

Our time in Bishop was very fun. My fitness was a bit lower than I would have liked due to lots of endurance training. While I didn’t send anything hard I experineced a bunch of new problems and gained motivation to start bouldering more. 

- Luke

5 Reasons I Love the Pacific Northwest

1 12 2008

I really like visiting Seattle and the surrounding region. Here’s why:

  1. Moist air – great for the skin
  2. Trees – they’re green and they make the air smell nice
  3. Clouds – I miss them here in SoCal
  4. Friends and family – it’s nice to catch up with everyone
  5. Rock climbing – just being closer to Index, Squamish, and Smith Rock makes me happier

But, alas, we are now back in the hot dryness of SoCal. At least I only have one week of class left and not much in terms of finals. I’ve only got one school application and 2 fellowship applications to go. And in a week and a half I will be out in the field working on my project. Which is awesome because fieldwork is much more fun and exciting than homework.

Hopefully everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Luke and I had fun in Bishop before heading to Seattle. I even flashed my first “V4″ – Hard Crack at the Happy Boulders. It probably wasn’t V4. But it was awesome and the fall would have been scary, had I taken it. A longer TR with lots of photos to come soon.


Alone in Tuolumne.

10 09 2008

This past Friday was my day off so I drove up to Bishop to see Lizzy. She was in town for a resupply and we were able to have lunch and chat before she had to return to her field work. It was great to see her and sad when she got back in the CalTech Geology truck and drove off. We crunched lots of talking and hugging into our 4 hours together which was not close to enough. It was defiantly worth the drive to see the smile on her face when I pulled up.

With Lizzy quickly back to work I had decided to take some alone time. A partner hadn’t worked out but I hadn’t really tried that hard. I was looking forward to some personal reflection and a bit more exploration of Bishop and Tuolumne. I had brought along my bouldering pad so I could do a bit of pebble wrestling when I tired of hiking and driving. The 90+ degree forecast (in bishop) was not ideal but I managed two night sessions at Rock Creek.

Rock Creek is located near Tom’s Place about 25 miles north of Bishop on the Sherwin Plateau. Rock Creek is appeal since it is more than a thousand feet higher in elevation than the Buttermilks and is surrounded by shady trees. The boulders are located in canyon cut by the water so they receive shade a bit earlier than else where.

Before heading to Rock Creek on Friday night I drove up to Owens River Gorge and hiked down to see the climbs. I had never been to the gorge before and had been curious about the volcanic rock and feel of the area. There is climbing on both sides of the gorge and there is a road down the middle that provides access to the various power plants in the gorge (Only service vehicles are allowed in). I had a good time running around and checking out the climbs and am anxious to get back with a partner and rope. The climbs are long and vertical and mostly bolt protected. Since the river goes down the middle of the gorge you sometimes have to cross mini bridges to get between areas.

As the light was fading I was making my way around Rock Creek. The guide book showed a few boulders and I was looking for something hard with a nice landing. After exploring the Campground boulder I made my way to the talus boulder. I warmed up on a V2 and started trying One Move Blunder V4. The granite was rough and had some funky knobs. After gaining the crimp rail, on this V4, you were supposed to launch for the top of a huge (3 feet wide by 2 feet tall) feature. This “knob” unfortunately did not stick out much and was directly over a bad rocky landing. I oped for the bail out left option since dynoing without a spotter would not be a good way to start my trip. The Blunder Bus V6 is the bail right option that I did next.  The guide book said move right immediately after reaching the crimp rail. This seemed a bit contrived so I matched the crimp rail, which made the move longer but allowed me to use my feet, and then went right.

Next up was Clearcut a fun looking V7 on the arete that had very directional holds and bad feet. The crux was a standup move into a sharp V-slot with your left hand using a bad right hand crimp. I slowly figured out the beta and was able to do all the moves. I fell many times trying to link from the start and my skin was toast. It was about 8pm and quite dark so I called it a night. Tired from my 6am departure I made my way to my bivy in Tuolumne and ate a bit of dinner before passing out.

The next morning i got up before sunrise so that I could get out to the rocks quickly. I packed up and drove into Yosemite National Park, via the 120, and parked near Tenaya Lake. I was the first car in the parking lot and that meant I would be the first up Tenaya peak. The approach was easy with my small pack of water and climbing shoes. Most importantly I was able to find my way up the assorted Deer Trails and didn’t lose time getting lost. I did get a little confused about where I was supposed to start since there is no base to the southwest face. There are slabs that you are hiking up and at some point you decided you should start “climbing”. Not wanting to find my self in the middle of a tricky slab in my approach shoes I put on my Muiras and got out my chalk bag.

As I steadily went up more 4th class terrain I was worried that I was off route since it was so easy. I wanted to climb, but instead my calves were burning and I was breathing heavy from the altitude. A large band of dikes across the face that matched my topo, I was on the right track! Even though I was excited I couldn’t really pick up the pace since my lungs were suffering, I am not used to being above 9000 feet. The climbing was constantly easy and did not really necessitate a rope. Lizzy had pitched out the climb in her approach shoes and I was happy to be moving quickly.

I took a break on a ledge about half way up and ate some food and took off my climbing shoes. The view was spectacular and I had the whole place to myself! I summited a little over two hours after I left my car. The climbing took a bit more than the approach but it was very mellow. The top section required a bit more attention since the rock got a bit steeper. I got pretty lost on the decent and was more gripped going down loose gullies than climbing the route. It was about 3.5 hours car to car so I still had a full day ahead of me.

I ate lunch and relaxed at Tenaya Lake and gave a ride to a hiker from Murrieta named Bruce who had been in the area for the last few days enjoying the trails with his family. I wandered around Tuolumne and hiked to Drug dome and checked out OZ. I met a nice guy named Dennis who had been out photographing a pair of British climbers on the route. OZ looks spectacular with difficult face climbing followed by a 100+ foot long corner. After watching the couple go up the route I made my way over to Lamb Dome. Lizzy and I are interesting in doing On the Lamb, which traverses the dome, and I wanted to get my bearings. After finding the trails I made my way to the base and found a spectacular wall of knobs.

I went back to the car and grabbed my shoes and returned for a bit of traversing. I figured it would be good training to get used to the Tuolumne crimps and knobs and a fun way to spend my afternoon. I hopped on the wall and made my way most of the way across but was stopped by a reachy crux in the middle. It seemed that climbing higher might be the solution but since I was still along I decided to wait for another day. Exhausting my supertopo book for new places to go I stopped by the store and bought the Falcon guide. Tired of hiking I grabbed a vanilla soft serve and got back on the road. I needed to leave early enough to stop by Bridgeport, about 30 mins north of Tioga Pass, before going back to Rock Creek.

While I was unable to contact the ranger station, since their phone line is bad (according to the main office), I thought it was worth the trip to try and receive my rope. I made good time and luckily the station was still open and they had my rope! Sadly there was a pretty nasty core shot just beyond the middle mark on the rope. It was great that the two guys from Colorado hiked it out and I can still use the pieces once I cut it up.

I arrived at Rock Creek on Saturday night to cooler temperatures than the night before. As well I ran into a Swedish couple at the talus boulder. They were trying an improbable sit start that was not in the guide book. I had looked at it the night before but the holds seemed too poor. After warming up I spent a few minutes brushing the holds on Clearcut. I had found a tooth brush in my car and was very happy to have cleaner holds, better friction! I breathed in, pulled on, and sent first try! I was able to relax in the crux and get my weight over my left foot which allowed me to go statically to the sharp slot. After sending I did a standing jump variation of a V9 to the right. With a bad foot and two bad crimps you lunge to the top. This move was hard from a standing position and I couldn’t figure out how to do it from the sit (for the full points).

To finish off the last bit of daylight I went over to the Boy Named Sue boulder and climbed the Groove Arete, V4. By the time I had worked out the moves it was dark and I was using my headlamp. After I topped out I realized I was very alone and in the dark with no down climb. The climbs, on this boulder, range from V4 to V10 and evidently there is a V2 on one of the aretes. I couldn’t see the moves of the V2 and it did not seem logical to downclimb from 15 feet on an unknown problem with no pad. I tested a few of the near by trees and grabbed the biggest one and shimmeyed down. I bear hugged that tree like no other, palming my way down the smooth bark wishing there were branches. That was by far the scariest part of my weekend, worse than 1000 feet of climbing, harder than V7, down climbing the tree, alone, in the dark pushed my limits.

With my weekend project sent I drove back to Bishop and camped near the Buttermilks and had dinner. I slept like a log with a full day of walking and a bit of climbing behind me. On my way back to Bishop I tried to find the Catacombs where I was planning a morning session. Instead of going over the Dam I took a wrong turn and went 1.3 on a different dirt road. It was pitch black and when I got to the correct distance there was a fork like I expected. Unfortunately the fork was complete overgrown and I did not feel like exploring anymore so I bailed.

The next morning came quickly since I slept quite well but my skin and muscles were pretty trashed. I packed up the tent and headed back to San Diego content with my exploration and bouldering. It was pretty strange to be alone all weekend and I did get a bit used to the solitude. I listened to my Ipod and thought about how much I missed Lizzy. It was a good time for sure but I wont be making a habit of it.

In more exciting news Alex Honnold just Free-Soloed the Regular Route on Half Dome. Via Supertopo The big question in a lot of peoples minds is a free solo of El Cap. In an old supertopo thread there is a bunch of discussion about how many difficult parts of FreeRider are insecure and dangerous. I am glad to see Alex pushing the limits but I want to see him around for many years to come. Hopefully he can put his energy into freeing a new route on El Cap instead of risking death by free soloing it.



A Local Climbing Weekend

28 07 2008

After traveling for 4 straight weekends (Charleston, Needles twice, New England) and Luke’s busy weekend of routesetting (I’ll let him blog about that), we were up for a little break from travel this weekend.

I baked a carrot cake and headed down to San Diego on Wednesday so we could have an extra-long “weekend”, even though Luke still had to work on Thursday. So I hung out at Luke’s house on Thursday and we headed to Vertical Hold for an evening climbing session, which was somewhat marred by my left shoulder being really incredibly sore from a silly bouldering fall at the ARC on Tuesday (playing around and falling/landing on my shoulder sans crashpad… oops).

We had a nice, relaxing Friday – Luke made french toast for late breakfast and we headed to Verizon to get him a new phone (Chocolate 3, pretty sweet!), only to be told that his mom had to call them to get him a password or something. So we got some smoothies for “lunch” and headed home for a bike ride (I brought my road bike down with me). We went along some hilly roads and then along a bike route along the 15 in a big loop. It was a bit hard on the legs (not really many hills in Pasadena) but I know it was good for me.

We got up early on Saturday to meet Stein and Chase in Escondido to head up to Riverside Quarry for some sport climbing. Everyone warmed up on Original Sin, an 11b with drilled pockets. (Brief aside on these drilled pockets: in case you don’t know, the quarry is kind of a special place when it comes to ethics – there wouldn’t be rock here at all without people messing around with it and most routes have to be thoroughly cleaned or glued before they’re climbable, so although I wouldn’t ordinarily endorse manufacturing holds, I think it can be a reasonable thing here.) I toproped it clean first try, so I decided to go for the lead after a rest. Meanwhile, the boys all climbed Violator, a many-starred 11c just to the right of Original Sin. Then they started projecting Seduction, a cool-looking (I can only say how it looked, since I didn’t try it) 12d/13a in the same area.

Chase on the beginning of Seduction (5.12d)

Although I was nervous about leading Original Sin (I always am nervous when about to do something that’s not easy), the lead went great. I had the sequence down from my toprope ascent, the pockets were awesome, and I made all the long reaches just fine. This was great for me because I’m looking to start pushing my limits more when sport climbing (I just made a route pyramid, but more on that in another post).

Stein carrying the dog over scary rocks.

I’m sure Luke would love to tell you about Seduction. All I was able to take from the discussion of it was that it had some long-ish moves off very small holds, but also some cool sections. At the end of the climbing session, Stein managed to redpoint it, which was cool to watch.

Luke and I finished the day back in San Diego with dinner at an Indian restaurant, which had excellent vegetable samosas and mango mousse, but disappointing meat in the main dishes. Then we went to see the X-Files movie, which was good, but maybe not quite as exciting as I was hoping for.

On Sunday, we planned to meet up with Lukasz and Eli for some crack bouldering/toproping at Mt. Woodson at around noon. They had never been to Woodson before, so we planned to give them a little tour of the classics. So we went to Robbins Crack (5.10a), Baby Robbins (5.9), Jaws (5.11-), Girls’ Climb (5.10d), California Nights (“5.11b”), Blackfinger (5.10a), and Hear My Train a’Comin (5.12-). We mostly toproped everything since we only brought one crashpad (on purpose). It was fun to try a new route (Girls’ Climb) and a couple older ones (Jaws, California Nights, Train). I was able to use a sequence of fingerstacks (at least 3 in a row) on Jaws that felt totally solid, which was pretty cool. California Nights felt hard and the rock was especially abrasive. Although it’s a classic, it’s definitely not one I’m interested in projecting. Train, as always, was hard, but Luke was able to boulder up the jug (i.e. do the crux) and I was making my highpoint without too much trouble. It was a great day, although next time I think we’ll try to go try some new climbs instead of doing the same circuit over and over again.

Lukasz soloing Baby Robbins (5.9)

Me toproping Jaws (5.11-)… fingerstacks!

So overall, a great weekend with a nice mix of climbing and relaxing. Next weekend will probably be another low-key one before we take a long weekend trip to Charleston so I can send my project (!!!) and we can try out a bunch of other areas.



Climbing at Horse Flats and the Riverside Quarry

17 06 2008

Summer is here and we have been banished to the shade and the mountains. The sun quickly heats the rock and friction becomes non-existent. We spent Friday night camped out at REI to attend one of their Scratch and Dent sales. Despite arriving at 10pm there were 10 people ahead of us in line. Some arrived as early as 4pm. We managed to get a bit of sleep despite the random urban setting of Arcadia. The sale was fun but not very eventful. One of my friends, Hartley, from Santa Barbara was supposed to come down for the sale and an afternoon of bouldering at Stoney Point. A case of food poisoning kept him grounded in SB.

With my schedule free I decided to tag along with Lizzy and Julie who had been invited to go on a Mad Rock catalog shoot. One of the local climbers recruited these girls and was planning on a day of bouldering to get some shoe photos.

We headed up to Horse Flats which is in the Angeles forest in the hills just north of Pasadena. Windy roads and pretty scenery brought us up a few thousand feet to a granite boulder field. My last experience on granite had been less than fun and I was a bit skeptical of what this area had to offer. Fortunately the rock was highly featured metamorphosed granite. It has lots of crystals and despite being a bit flakey offered fun problems.

Josh Wagner, from the Arcadia Rock Gym, and I bouldered while the ladies played with new shoes and took photos. Josh gave me a tour of a few classics and showed me some problems that were not in the guidebook. After taking a look at a super-project we tackled a possibly unclimbed block. Crystals were still falling off at the base and showed no evidence of previous ascents. There was a steep holdless fin and that formed the right side of a dihedral. The angle and lack of holds prevented us from the obvious stemming solution.

Starting from a good right hand you could gain a small sharp two finger crystal with your left hand. Then you had to make a full span to a decent right hand pinch. The remaining moves to the top were less obvious. After reaching the pinch I could make not make any further progress. I shifted my focus to the arête on the left side of the dihedral. A span start and some tenuous smears on the arête allowed you to gain the same crystal as a gaston with the right hand. Using this to bump my left hand up the arête I was able to stand on a high crystal, bump to another sharp gaston and finally bump my left hand to a good hold around the top of the arête. Possibly a FA but most likely done by Wills Young back in the day. I needed a break after the send and went and check on Lizzy who had flashed a crimpy problem and was spotting while the other two girls tried it. Upon my return Josh had solved the right variation and was sitting on top of the boulder. A possible FA each within an hour, pretty good work :-D

My elbow, which has been hurting, needed a rest so I followed the girls around helping light the problems by holding a bounce card. The two bounce cards did an amazing job of adding directional light to the photos. I was super impressed and hopefully can get some in the next six months. I only saw a few of the photos but they looked pretty good and can be found on facebook! When we got back to Pasadena we crashed early with a serious lack of sleep and full day in the sun.

Sunday we got up early for some shady sport climbing at the Riverside Quarry. We had not been to the quarry in six months and it was fun to clip lots of bolts. Stein, my climbing partner from San Diego, met us with one of his friends for our early session. Stein is quite the quarry master and was excited to clip some bolts outside for a change. We have spent many more hours training on plastic than actually climbing routes. Stein helped me to get in a hard climbing mindset and put draws on a bunch of climbs for me.

After Lizzy and I warmed up we got on Salutations a nice 11c that Stein and George had just finished. The quarry is filled with boulder problems separated by good holds and hand free rests. This visit I embraced this style and had much more success. I flashed/onsighted (I saw a bit of beta) the first route and set up a TR for Lizzy. She cruised the starting moves but had to spend a bit of time figuring out the reachy crux. After finding a powerful sequence she pulled through the small holds and gained a good jug. After some slopey holds she finished off the route. The crux was definitely challenging. Focusing on the jug allowed me to commit to the 3 or 4 hard moves on the small crimps.

Stein had finished an impressive onsight of the neighboring Balrog 12b and I got to watch George as the top roped it. I got a sense of where some of the good holds were and what sections would prove difficult. There was an obvious high crux that I would need to save my energy for if I was to send. The first two bolts were simple with a fun mantle onto the slab seen in the first photo. The slopey holds in the second photo blew my confidence and I was insecure and overgripping. I made the third clip from a bad hold and was happy when I got the next hold which happened to be a jug. The next few bolts were easy until a tricky clip. Following this clip were more slopey holds and bad feet. I figured out a heel hook sequence that worked well but I was getting tired. I now was one bolt below the crux and was quite pumped and being unsure of the sequence I gave up. I figured out a way to set up for the clip below the crux but it was quite powerful and zapped my energy for the crux. I hung again and tried to figure out a good way to do the crux. A few more takes and I was through the crux and at the anchors.

Stein had enjoyed the route so much he ran another lap to get some mileage. I watched closely on the parts I had struggled on and figured out a better way to setup for the crux clip. After some rest I went up again making sure to stay relaxed and to flow through the moves. The crux was a tricky gaston cross over sequence right after a powerful clip. I got up to the clip and was able to make it but the next sequence Stein had used proved a bit too reachy and I could not get the same heel hook he had. Hands out of sequence I committed to a higher heal hook that I was able to perch on. This enabled me to rest a little and switch my hands to prepare for the crux. I got my high left foot and right gaston but it felt much worse than my last go. I grunted and fired left hand across to the next good hold. I stuck it and quickly move my feet up to the good holds on the right. A few more moves gave way to an ok rest. A few shakes and I set up for the final tricky move to a crack below the anchor. I trusted my smear and shot my right hand to the undercling crack. Two more adjustments and I was clipping the anchor! I was tired and my climbing was still a bit sloppy but I had committed at the crux and this was important mental progress!

Photos thanks to Lizzy!

- Luke

Bishop Bouldering! April Edition

5 05 2008

In the middle of April a few of my friends from the East Coast flew out to LA to go sample the amazing bouldering of Bishop. Jackie, who I went to college at Bucknell, as well as her friends Joe and Bree from DC flew in on Thursday night so that we could have four days climbing before returning to LA on Monday night. Our group was joined my long time friend Jamie and his girl Nicole from Santa Barbara. Below Joe enjoys the view of the Buttermilks and the drifter boulder.
With all flights arriving more or less on time Lizzy and I packed up and met the east coast crew with their rental car at LAX. Leaving for bishop at 9pm is not really ideal but at least we missed traffic making it to the Pit just before 1:30 am. Jamie had reserved us a campsite so we quickly set up camp and passed out. The east coast crew woke us up early excited to go climbing and unable to sleep due to the time difference. Day one was to be at the buttermilks so we rolled out.
Above Lizzy warms up on the green wall. After paying our respects to the Mandala and we went to the Hunk and started warming up. The high boulder was a bit mental for a first climb so we hit up the beautiful but slick green wall. I quickly repeated green wall center and figured I was warm enough to start on my project for the day, High Plains Drifter.
I switched to taking photos and rested so I would be fresh for High Plains. Above Joe works on green wall center. The green wall is so glassy that it is nice place to warm up since it doesn’t hurt your skin. The only disadvantage is that it is really hard to make your feet to stick to anything. Excited to get back on High Plains I was nervous that my fitness had not increased enough for a send. The temps were pretty good and on my second attempt the top sloper felt perfect and I knew the send was going to be soon. Photo below is of me working on the start of High Plains Drifter.
The next try I hit the sloper and adjusted my feet and fired for the right knob. I had two spotters and a few more pads that allowed me to relax and commit. After the drifter move I set up and lunged right to the knob. Next I quickly got my feet back on the wall and fired left hand to the good knob. It was over and I climbed the positive crimps to the top of the boulder, relaxed now this classic was under my belt.
On the last trip I had run out of skin and energy before getting on Soul Slinger. Everyone seems to love this problem so I was eager to try it. Jamie had sent it on his previous trip and so I thought it was possible. I was able to sort an efficient sequence to get to the first bad pinch and was able to get to that high point a few times. Unfortunately the sun was beating down on the top holds and I was unable to move from them. Next time! (Photo below)

After spending some time down in the cave and at Ranger Rock we moved up to the Stained Glass area. Jamie and Nicole had met up with our crew and Jamie was excited to try Stained Glass. He was able to get the first move but I was unable to get off the ground. Around the corner was a super fun V1 that all of the girls flashed.
Jackie sending above and Nicole climbing below.
After almost everyone did this climb we headed over to the Ironman Traverse to finish off the day. There were many good efforts but no one sent. With tired arms and much less skin we all returned to the Pit for some burritos. (Joe sends below)
The next day Jamie and I were psyched to go out and work on Checkerboard which is supposed to be a classic and great for the grade. The boulder is all alone on a hill and does not offer any good problems to warm up on. The temps had dropped a little and it had become quite windy. My fingers were quite sore from the previous day and warming up on the steep crimps was painful.
Checkerboard offers a low start over an exciting landing that adds three or so moves making it a soft V8. The direct start, which goes at V7, avoids the bad landing but still goes through the same high crux. A difficult match on a gaston leads right to a small crimp and then a final hard stand up move to a high rail of crimps.
Jamie and I worked through the moves and I got shutdown by the match. My fingers were on fire and my feet seemed to be working against me. Jamie however was climbing very strong and after his second time matching the gaston he made the big move and topped it out.
Below Jamie presses out the move on Checkerboard!
After his send I gave it a few more tries but my fingers were done and Nicole and Lizzy had yet to climb. We met up with Jackie, Bree and Joe and headed over to the Pollen Grains. The wind had been picking up but the worst was yet to come. In the picture below Jamie is trying to show how windy it really was. We estimated that the gust were at least 40 MPH. Though evidently it was worse in the main buttermilk area.
We headed out to the Lidija Boulder and got blown around and worked by the problems. My tips were still quite sore and it was so windy that we had to tie down the pads and hold them while people would try to climb. Lizzy even started getting blown away while trying to keep the pad on the ground.
Above Nicole works on her project, Cindy Swank on the Honey Boulder. This problem was just her style and involved short throws between quite small holds. Jamie had sent this on his last trip and thought it was quite doable for Nicole and me. While Nicole was linking large sections of the problem I was struggling to get off the ground. The holds were very small and required precise body position. I was able to figure out some weird toe hook beta and was able to get through to the top crux. Both Nicole and I were unable to unlock the sequence through the top out slopers and went home without sending.
We spent the next day at the Happy boulders in an attempt to escape the wind. After falling off Toxic Avenger, Jamie made an impressive flash of Mr. Witty. I struggled with the small holds and was still unable to make the last move to the lip. Jamie and Nicole had to go back to SB so we bid them farewell and eventually made our way to Heavenly Path. This is one of the classic easy high balls at the Happy Boulders.
I was able to repeat the line and I convinced Lizzy that she had to try it. Evidently this was a good climb for Lizzy to push her limit and she calmly sent it first try! This was the first of a few easy highballs that Lizzy sent this trip. Notice the confidence below as she gets a no hands rest.
After a few more climbs and a bit of exploring we called it a day and headed back to camp to recover. The previous night had been so windy that Joe and Jackie’s tents had blown away. Luckily some people had piled rocks on them to keep them from any further damage. We were anxious to return and were greeted by all of our tents still standing.

Jackie gets airborne after sending one of the mantle problems on the flying disc.

The next day we went to the Sad Boulders which I had never been to. The canyon at first seemed quite similar to the happies but lacked a central flat region. The sads were a jumble of stacked blocks and caves that made for exciting climbing over less than ideal landings. After a short warm-up we went to Rio’s Crack, which Lizzy is trying in the photo below.

After struggling with the sequence for the first few moves I was able to find some workable beta and was able to stick to the bad feet and send. It was nice to have a bit more skin and energy and this was quite a fun problem.

Next we made our way through some caves and found Los Locos, which I had spotted on the way in. This problem is very pretty and has big moves on crazy features. The start is down in a cave which kept the holds nice and cool and it traverses left to exit over an exciting landing. The start sequence was technical and involved sweet body positions while using fairly big holds. We were struggling to unlock a sequence and I wasted a lot of energy going the wrong way.
After finding a way through the start of the problem I was unable to keep my tension and popped off. I was unable to regain my high point and we moved on to Molly. After a few tries each on Molly, Jackie Lizzy and I had to head back to LA so Jackie could make her flight back to DC. Joe and Bree spent a few more days in bishop with other friends before heading back home. It was an amazing trip and I am motivated to get a bit stronger and go back to the Sads to send Los Locos!



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