congrats, Maddy, on making it to Nationals!

28 01 2008

So my sister, Maddy, competed in the youth ABS regionals in Oregon a couple weeks ago and did well enough to get invited to ABS nationals in Boulder, CO.

Because I’m an awesome sister and love to travel, Luke and I will be joining my parents and one of Maddy’s teammates in Boulder over nationals weekend, Feb 15-17, to cheer, volunteer, compete in the citizen’s comp, and hopefully get lots of free stuff. When I went to nationals last year, I ended up standing on the same chair as Michael Reardon (RIP), so I have high hopes for meeting some more awesome climbers this year.

Anyways, congrats to Maddy and all the others who’ve qualified for youth nationals and we’ll see you there!

btw, here is some footage of team vertical world competing at regionals in Oregon:



Queen Creek Canyon

23 01 2008

For the long MLK weekend we ventured east for warm temps and to visit a new climbing area. Rebecca, one of my friend’s from Bucknell, was visiting Phoenix for work and a climbing trip was born. We picked her up from the airport on Friday night after driving over from San Diego. Highway 8 is pretty desolate and we ran out of gas since the only service station in 80 miles was closed. We almost made it to the next one but ran out of gas just 10 miles short.
A night in Phoneix meant an hour drive in the morning to the crag. When we arrived at the parking lot at 10am it was bitterly cold and windy. The crag could be seen, 200 feet above the road, on the side of the canyon. The cliffs were all south facing and were baking in the sun which was quite a bit warmer than the shady parking lot. We had chosen Queen Creek for this exact reason and it worked out perfectly.
A quick hike up the trail and some 3rd class yielded access to the climbing. We were the fourth group at the crag and that number quickly grew throughout the day. The weather was perfect and you could easily wear T-shirts when you were climbing.
The rock was a type of tuff that is formed out of solidified ash. The climbing was mainly vertical with lots of small pockets and crimps. There was not a lot of chalk on the routes which made finding the next hold a constant challenge.

Kyle, Rebecca, Lizzy and I had a ton of fun on the routes before lunch and had a few routes mostly to ourselves. We went around the corner to some longer routes and found quite the crowd of people. We ate lunch and waited for climbs to become free. Kyle, my climbing partner from SD, did a short climb and established a self belay on a pedestal so that he could take pictures of the nearby routes. The climb in the picture above was the coolest we did all trip. At 11b it had thin technical climbing up a seam to a good rest followed by a bit of easy climbing which led to the technical crux. A zig-zag traverse and then a bit of thin pocket pulling brought one to the anchors. The group climbing this route before us was a talented group of women accompanied by John Sherman. I had no idea that he sport climbed but he floated up this route. He also taught me that Guiness only has 10 calories per ounce, amazing right? Lizzy, enjoying the slabby small hold climbing this route offered, flashed the route which was her second of the grade. Kyle, in the photo above, and I also flashed the route with each of the three of us using different beta for both cruxes. Our second day we went to investigate the Looner crags in the Mine area. The climbs were on worse rock and were sparsely bolted. If you weren’t near a crux there was no bolt. The climbing was still fun even though it was not as cool as the previous day.
In preparation for her upcoming visit to Red Rocks, Rebecca lead a bunch of routes this trip. It was great to see her really push her limits on lead. She was climbing really strong and excelled on the sharp end.
While Queen Creek is not a destination climbing area it was fun to be able to climb in such great weather in the winter time. Perhaps if we are visit phoenix again in the winter we will drop by.


ABS Southwest Regionals

17 01 2008

This past weekend the citizens’ ABS southwest Regionals was hosted at Vertical Heaven in Ventura, CA. I really enjoying going to big comps because you get to see some big name climbers come and crush. It’s really motivational and it makes me think that I am part of the big community.

Chris Danielson was there to set routes along with Paul Dusatko. An interview with Chris can be found on the E-Grips site. Vertical Heaven is the home gym for Halo Holds and they had quite a few amazing features on their routes such as the B.A.H. This giant volcano hold, whose acronym likely means Bad Ass Hold, is perfect for roof climbing and heel toe cams and was featured on the Men’s #4 final problem.

Five Ten had a booth at the comp and I was able to try on a pair of the 5X which were first seen at the Summer OR Market. They fit well and had the new 5.10 heel cup which is matched perfectly with the zipper and Velcro closure. One of my friends got a pair of the new Jet7’s for the comp and really loved them. He said they have super sticky rubber and fit great. The only complaint was that they are sized quite differently and he had to go 1.5 sizes down from what he wears in the new Dragons. This weekend is the Winter OR Market in SLC and I will be interested to see if any new sweet gear is on the horizon.

There were a lot of top athletes at this comp including Lisa Rands and Alex Puccio. It was amazing to see Lisa climb and I had got to chat with her husband, Wills Young, who was really chill. Ethan Pringle showed up at the comp and climbed a few problems but didn’t really compete. He was there to sign posters since he was still recovering from a fall from the Mandala. In December he had been working the Sit Start and landed badly on his heel putting him in crutches.

Carlo Traversi was also at this comp hailing all the way from Colorado. It was pretty cool to see him climb after reading his blog. Recently he has been sending hard with the 2nd ascent of Thrice. His ascent of the climb likely sparked new interest in this Holloway test piece since it is now up to its 6th repeat after sends by Jamie Emerson, James Pearson, Daniel Woods and Dave Graham. Carlo won the ABS 9 regionals with a few flashes and a strong showing on Men’s #4 which stumped all other competitors. He was able to make it to the 2nd to last hold which was 2 holds further than any other climber. After the comp ended he got back on the climb and sent the problem!

Woods has also been busy with the 2nd ascent of Ty Landman’s Midnight Express. You can see a video of the FA here courtesy of the MoonClimbing. The video of Daniel’s ascent can be found on As well Daniel established Epochalypse which according to Chip Phillips from “links Reverse UCT (RUCT) -> Trice or 10+ moves of ~7C/7C+ traversing into 8A+”.

After sending Trice on January 10th Dave Graham went to work on Midnight Express. On his fifth day of effort he managed the third ascent in freezing conditions. So far snow and ice seem like routine conditions for those working on this boulder. These two sends put Dave back in the lead of the combined 8a global ranking. This spot, which he has held on and off for the last 6 years, was momentarily stolen by Ethan Pringle.



Plastic and Cracks!

14 01 2008

The past weekend saw a lot of rock climbing and even more sore muscles.

After fueling with pasta and cheesecake in Pasadena on Friday night, we headed up to Ventura on Saturday morning to compete in the citizen’s ABS Regionals comp at Vertical Heaven. When we arrived in Ventura and got out of the car, the air smelled disgusting – I was concerned about having to breath it all day, but amazingly I either got accustomed to it or it smelled better inside the gym. We checked in and got some free stuff in a Mad Rock bag and sweet T-shirts.

The comp itself was 3 hours long, with 60 problems, 15 each in Rec, Intermediate, Advanced, and Open categories. It being my 2nd comp ever, I struggled a bit. I tried basically all of the the intermediate problems, flashing 2 and making good progress on a lot of others, although I didn’t end up sending them. Luke was climbing in the Advanced category and did pretty awesome, winning 2nd (a free headlamp). We were able to garner some more free stuff – lots of t-shirts, stickers, and a chalkbag via a raffle and them randomly throwing free stuff to the crowd before the finals.

We were a little surprised at how few really good climbers were there, but apparently the comp didn’t really matter for people who wanted to go to Nationals. Lisa Rands and Alex Puccio were the strong women, placing 1st and 2nd in the women’s open category. It was really cool to see Lisa climb AND she put her bag next to my bag on the floor so I ran into her a lot. There were some pretty crazy problems, too – including one involving a jumpstart to campus moves to a bat hang to an upside down dyno… a little ridiculous but a crowd pleaser for sure.

We had dinner with Hartley, Jamie, and Nicole, and headed back down to San Diego, sore but stoked for a day at Woodson on Sunday.

It was a great day for climbing – sunny and warm (although a bit chilly in the wind atop Robbins boulder). We climbed Robbins Crack first – I soloed it for the 2nd time and felt a lot less freaked out than the first time, which was good. Then after doing some easier cracks that our companions could actually climb, we managed to find California Night for the first time! Luke sent this and I was making pretty good progress, but wanted to save some energy for my nemesis, Jaws. I also made the stupid mistake of running a track workout in too-small shoes last week and my big toe has been painful and oozing a little blood since, so I couldn’t fit my right foot into my smaller shoes.

Then the boys enjoyed some time climbing steeper routes in a cool cave area before we headed to Jaws to finish the day. Luke and I soloed Baby Robbins and relaxed in the afternoon sun on the top – by this time we were both pretty worked from all the climbing we’d done this weekend. Luke’s left arm was really hurting and my tips were worn down practically to bleeding!

Then it was time to throw ourselves at Jaws. Luke sent it first try, which was pretty awesome. I got pretty close to the top on my first try, but fell as one of my off-jams slipped out. But it felt pretty good. The next couple tries felt awkward for me and I never made it as high as my first go… maybe next time when I’m less tired it’ll happen. Then I just have to keep sending it to get ready for IC…

I’m pretty sore still today, but luckily its a rest day for me – just classes and homework, so hopefully I can recover before this coming weekend. I’m also feeling pretty motivated to work hard at my Tuesday/Thursday ARC bouldering sessions so that I can climb better at the next comp we go to, whenever that may be.

That’s it for now,


New Years at Cochise Stronghold

10 01 2008

This New Years we decided to go on a mini road trip and check out the climbing in Arizona. The predicted weather for the Tucson area was temps in the 60’s and sunny. This seemed perfect and neither Lizzy nor I had climbed in AZ before.

So off we went to the Cochise Stronghold for a few quick days of climbing. Hope you enjoy the Trip Report; I tried to offset all the talk with some pictures from our trip since I usually write too much and leave out the pictures.

The steep approach combined with the warm sun allowed us to wear t-shirts even though we had to hike over ice. It was quite amazing to be so warm in the last week of December!
For our first climb we chose to do the classic What’s My Line. For some added mileage and a bit harder grade we did the direct start. We set off up the steep canyon to locate Cochise dome so that we could climb What’s My Line. I guess the direct start rarely gets climbed because we found a cam, a nut, a belay device and a biner on our way to the stance below the first pitch.

I was able to link the two pitches of the direct start and ended my lead at the first set of anchors of the regular route. Lizzy, happy to be climbing after the windy belay, zoomed up to my stance and got ready to lead the next pitches. She also linked pitches brining us to a tree belay just below the summit.



The climbing was quite fun and the weather was great despite being a bit windy. In the photo on the right you can see a sea of chicken heads that served as both hand holds and protection.
With most of the gear already on my harness I lead the last 30 feet to the rappel anchors. 

A team that we had caught up to allowed us to rappel on their rope which helped us quicken the decent and get back to the campground before dark. On the decent we stashed our gear for the next day so that we would not have to do the steep approach again with our ropes and rack.






The next day we headed back up the canyon but this time to the Rockafeller Group. We were hoping to do a few climbs on the south side of the end pinnacle. With light packs filled only with food and water we made great time getting back up the steep approach. We got to our climb early and it was still all in the shade. Based on the orientation of the two climbs we wanted to do we chose Days of Future Passed as our first route. While this route ended up being much more serious than we expected it was a good choice.

After three serious pitches of run out climbing we made it to a spacious sunny ledge. This was a most welcome change from the past two hanging belays. The climbing on the first two pitches followed a large crack system that had a numerous chickeheads along the way. when the crack ended there was one pitch of exciting run out face climbing.

After a bit of food we chose the easier path to the summit and I climbed past around ten bolts to the summit. This was more than three times as many bolts as the previous pitch which was of comparable length. After reaching the summit we snapped some photos and made our way over to the rap station. Three crazy rappels through a chimney and a crawl through a hole beneath a chockstone lead us to the ground.

After packing up all of our gear we determined that we were far to tired and it was much too late for another climb. We hiked all our gear back to the camp site and made a tasty dinner in celebration of New Years Eve.

This trip was a lot of fun and it taught me a bunch about traditional ethics and run out climbing. Why do you need gear when you will not fall? Bolts are not the immediate solution but the last resort. The climbing was scary and physical and expanded my mind. Most of all it really makes me appreciate all of the climbers of the last generation. While they may be a bunch of old die hard traddies they really have a lot of balls.


– Luke

Vacation is over, back to work!

7 01 2008

Lizzy and I are now back at school and work respectively. We had a good time learning and exploring Arizona. Cochise Stronghold was quite the experience and has made me really think about traditional climbing ethics. In many ways it was a wake up call to how climbing used to be. It was a lot of fun and I will be posting a long trip report at some point this week.

Now that vacation is over it is time to get back in a routine and start training for the spring. I hope to keep better track of my climbing so I can figure out what works and what is a waste of time. One of my New Years’ resolutions was to start a training log. I think this will help me and give me a nice think to look back upon in the years to come.

On the horizon for next weekend is the ABS regional for the Southwest. Even though I was never serious enough to compete at the regional’s out east I became familiar with a good number of the comp climbers. It will be interesting to see all of the people that show up. The comp will be held at Vertical Heaven on January 12th. I don’t expect to do well since this winter has been quite light on training and comp climbing but I hope to take some photos and cheer on my friends. For sure it will be a good time and I have heard great things about the host gym.

Over the last year Lynn Hill has been writing quite a lot of blogs for Sadly her stay is over and she will now only be blogging for Patagonia. I really enjoyed all of her writing and the various subjects and I hope she keeps it up over at Cleanest Line. Writing is a powerful tool and it has been a great motivator to be able to read thoughts from such a talented climber, thanks to Lynn!

In other news US climbers have been tearing it up. As reported by Climbing Narc and many others Paul Robinson flashed Nagual, V13 and did the 2nd Ascent of Terremer V15. Additionally Dave Graham has been on a sending spree at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch (HCR). He repeated many hard climbs including Sharma’s King Lion V12/13 and has established four climbs V12 or harder.