Wacky Weather Weekends

28 05 2008

The last two weekends we spent time exploring some areas that we had not been to. Our efforts were motivated by the crazy weather systems that have been moving through California and the rest of the country. One week of crazy hot weather was followed by the coldest temps we have had in two months. Traveling between the mountains and the desert we were able to get in a bit of climbing both last weekend and this weekend.

Last weekend were above 90 degrees in the Santa Monica Mountains so drove up to Big Bear Lake, home of the Holcomb Valley Pinnacles. Big Bear, sitting above 7000 feet is also home to a bunch of ski resorts that are very popular among the LA hoards.

With a late start and a long drive we were barely climbing by noon. Luckily the cliff had chosen was going into the shade and was fairly uncrowned. We enjoyed closely bolted sport climbs on well featured granite. The rock had fun holds but the quality was less than desirable. On one of my projects for the day I managed to make the start a bit harder when the hold under my foot flaked off the wall. The good right hand crimp used for the crux start sequence on Road Crew was now half the size. Luckily I was still able to do the move with the smaller hold.

We were able to climb almost all of the routes on the East face of orbit rock and determined that upon a return visit we would need to seek out some of the other crags in hope of better rock quality.

For Memorial Day weekend we had planned on taking a relaxing trip to the Needles. This would fit with the upward trend in the temps and it would nice to escape the crowds and enjoy some remote camping. This was not in the cards for us as the forecast showed plunging temps and possibly snow fall. How could it be 70 in the mountains one weekend and 30 the next? To make matters worse it seemed that the main gate to the road to the Needles was still closed which firmly pushed this plan from our minds. A rainy forecast for most of SoCal on Saturday kept us grounded in San Diego. A few of our brave friends, Jamie and Nikki ventured out to Idyllwild for some bouldering at Black Mountain. You can see in the photo above that they found fresh snow! Despite the wet and cold conditions Jamie reported that they had a great time!
On Sunday we made the short drive and long hike out to El Cajon Mountain. This crag was the crown jewel of San Diego sport climbing before one of the climbers became disgruntled and chopped a good number of the quality routes. He even went so far as to break holds on one route that had been rebolted after he had chopped it. Thanks to some information from some of the more knowledgeable locals we were able to sort out some climbs to do that were still fully bolted.
The day was still quite overcast and we though there were thunder claps on our hike in. Luckily for the resounding bangs were just echoes in the valley from some locals going at it with their rifle. We were the only ones at the main wall on Sunday but were assaulted with noises of gunshots for the first half of the day.
The granite of El Cajon Mountain is very featured and much more solid than what we found on Orbit Rock. There were wonderful patina crimpers and incut flakes studding the walls. We managed 7 pitches between 4 routes before the weather turned to cold to be multipitching. Our timing ended up working very well as we ran into two of the route developers on our way out. They had been climbing near by and were able to give us suggestions on good routes to do.

Monday the weather did not significantly improve so we headed south and east to the desert near the Mexican border. Our sights were set on another granite sport climbing crag called the Valley of the Moon. With the trusty Rav4 we hoped that we could make it in the 4wd road to the crag.
We managed the steep drive up the saddle that lead into the Valley and were just starting down the road when another Jeep came up behind us and suggested we scout the next section of road. This was slightly worrisome since we had just spent the last 10 minutes figuring out how to get the Rav4 through a set of large rocks on the road. The Rav is quite able with AWD but has fairly low clearance for a small SUV which is made worse by the large running boards.
We hopped out of the car so we could preview the “crux” section of the approach. We were greatly saddened to see a steep downhill studded with large ruts and boulders. Our first look revealed that we had no chance and we turned around. Even if we could have made it down without doing too much damage to our car it would be even more difficult to come back up and we were in the middle of no where. On our drive back out we got stopped by Board Patrol who check our car for immigrants. They were courteous and let us go on our way. The road goes practically all the way to the boarder and one of the cliffs is half in the US half in Mexico.

In the hope of salvaging the day and still doing a bit of climbing we went to the McCain valley which was on the way back to San Diego. We did not have a bouldering pad, which is what the valley is mainly known for so we headed to Lowenbrau Pinnacle which is the only leadable rock. With only quickdraws and a rope we managed to only do a bit of climbing. Despite blue skies and sunny weather constant wind made it quite cold expediting our return to San Diego.

I am excited for a bit more regularity in the weather so bring on the summer! All photos are from El Cajon Mountain.

– Luke


Climbing and Outdoor Blog Links!

14 05 2008

Below is the large list of blogs that I subscribe to through google reader.

You can subscribe directly to all of these or through my feed of them.

Many of the links below go directly to the RSS so you can get the feed for the site.

Not all of these blogs are still being updated and a few are redundant.

If you read my blog feel free to leave a comment with your blog info. If anyone has must read climbing and outdoors blogs let me know.



8a.nu – News GLOBAL

A Purposeful Life – Jay Knower
A Year in the Life of a Climber: James Pearson
Adam Lincoln’s Blog
Adrian Berry’s Blog
Adventure 16 Blog
All Climbing Blog
Alpinist Mountain Standards
Alpinist Newswires
American Alpine Institute
Anatomy of Restlessness
As The Crow Flies

Backcountry Blog
Backcountry.com: The Goat
Barefoot Among Czechs – The North Face Expedition
Being With Yoga
Beth Rodden
big UP blog
Bishop Bouldering Blog
Blackcore – Tim Kettering
Born to Breathe – Neil Berget
BS Productions Blog – Brian Solano
BS Productions – Old Blog

Climb Life – Matt Maddaloni
Climbing Bum – Carlo Traversi
Climbing Narcissist
Climbing Videos
Climbing Hold Review
Coletteloc.com – Collete McInery
Coppworks Blog – Jonny Copp
Creative Climbers Coalition
Crimped Climbing
CruxPhoto – Nate Young Photography

Dani Andrada
Dave MacLeod Climbing
Denver Bouldering
Do the move – Jason Pinto
Dream In Vertical – Our Blog
Drew’s Adventures
Dropknee – Andy Mann

East Side Bouldering – Jeff Sillcox
Enlightened Chuffer
Eric Horst’s Climbing and Training Blog
Ethan Pringle
Everything You Want To See – Scotty Gross

Gabor Szekely / Climber
Getoutdoors.com Outdoor Blog
Girl vs. Wild
Gravsports – Will Gadd

Happiegrrrl Climbing
HARDCLIMBS – Chad Greedy
Hardwear Sessions – Mountain Hardwear
Hayden’s Bouldering
High Places – Steph Davis
Hot Aches Productions

It Came from the Garage

Katie’s blog – Katie Brown

La Sportiva Media Coverage
Lithic Loafing
Lord Caffeine
Los Angeles Bouldering
Lynn Hill

Metolius Media
Mike Doyle’s Rants& Raves
Minnesotan Skin
Monkey Business
Moonclimbing.com / Moonblog

Mountain Climbing News
Mountains and Water – Peter Beal
Mount Everest The British Story
Movementfilms.com – Mike Call
Moving Mountains Magazine

Nicola Martinez – Rock Monkey
Nicolas Favresse
North East Climbing
Northwest Mountain School – John and Olivia

Once in a lifetime
Online Climbing Coach – Dave MacLeod
Outdoor Gear – Apeqs
Outside Blog

Petzl Team

RAZA: The Blog
REI-OUTLET.com: Deal of the Day
Rich Wheater
Rock and Ice Online News
Rock Climber Girl
Rock Climbing Topics – The New York Times
Rock Monkey Art – Renan Ozturk
Rocks are the skin of the earth – Kelly Mcbride
Roxanna Brock

Schmoubouldering’s Weblog
Sender Films’ Blog
Steepearth.com photo blog
Straight into yer face lam
Straight outta bedlam – Justin Jaegar

T h e R a n g e L i f e
The Adventures of Paul Robinson
The Cleanest Line – Patagonia
The Climbing Works Blog – UK
The diary of a [newbie] rock climber
The Gear Junkie
The Kind Chronicles – Joe Kinder
The Liminal Line Blog – Majka Burhardt
The Mountain Culture – Cloudveil
The Mountain World – Dougald MacDonald
The Thought – Alan Moore
Tidbits of Joy
Tim Kemple Photo

Vegas Bouldering
Vertical World – Rich Johnson
VooDoo Climbing Holds & Bouldering Gear

Wadedavid.com Blog
Western Colorado Climbing
What’s happening – Chris Lindner
Where the Wild Things Are
WiredNut – Mid-Atlantic Climbing News

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!


April Madness – A Brief Recap

5 05 2008

The past month has flown by and I barely know what happened. It seems that just the other day was tax day. Our last post reflects this lost time as the weeks and weekends have passed so quickly.

So far the spring has been a bit strange out here in California. A week of perfect weather has been followed by a scorching weekend, causing us to retreat to the shade and higher altitudes. Two weeks back it was over 100 in LA County and a few fires have flared up.

April featured a trip to Bishop with some east coast friends that flew out to enjoy our spring weather. The temps in Bishop were perfect but on the second day of the trip the Buttermilks and Pollen Grains were getting 40 + MPH gusts. Not only did this bring a chill but it was hard to climb and scary to do anything tall since you could be blown off. We accidently did a bit of pad surfing as the crash pads went airborne even with people sitting on top of them.

The weekend after returning from Bishop we went to Black Mountain to avoid the heat and to continue with our bouldering bug. While the temps were nice and the setting was pristine I was not a fan of the problems. My skin was still tender from Bishop and most of the problems were lacking in either hand holds or foot holds. I enjoyed taking photos of my friends climbing and trying to learn how to deal with harsh light. My favorite problem was the Green Meanie slab which I had to start from atop my crash pad and a two foot pile of snow.

At the Boulder Basin camp ground area we were able to find a hand full of fun problems to finish off the day. These were more concentrated and easier to find since we did not have to fight through thick brush and trees. Due to the longer drive and spread out nature of majority of the problems I think that Tramway a better area. Tram now has an excellent guidebook, that Black Mountain lacks, and will stay cooler longer into the summer.

While I was psyched to get into a bouldering mindset for a little while but I am happy that we were able to go sport climbing this weekend. A short trip to Malibu Creek helped me put my fitness into perspective. Climbing routes in the gym has helped keep me in shape and my endurance was adequate for the short routes. Since I haven’t lead anything hard outside in months I had to push to keep climbing while redpointing Urban Struggle. I kept it together and was happy to lead my first 5.12 since October.

I hope that this will be a good start to my sport climbing season and I am excited to go to Clark Mountain and Mt Charleston this summer! After a taste of limestone near Vegas in February I am excited to try some harder and steeper routes.

All photos are from Black Mountain.