Learning How to Relax, Turkey Day in Seattle

25 11 2008

Luke meant to post this on Friday, but he forgot… Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving! ~Lizzy

I am a go-go-go person. I like doing as much as possible. I am happy when I fall asleep instantly at the end of the day due to fatigue. At the same time I like things to be easy. I want to be relaxed while climbing, I want to flow over the rock and be captivated by the movement. I struggle to relax on weekends after sitting at a computer for 40 hours each week. I want nature, I want to push my limits and become a better climber.

Lizzy and I haven’t really taken a full week off since our sweet trip to Indian Creek back in March. Not to say that we haven’t had our share of three or four day weekends and adventures. Due to my job and Lizzy’s busy school schedule we are weekend warriors. Yet in the last 6 months we have visited new areas, made new friends and sent our hardest routes.

This weekend we will be up in Bishop with our friends Hartley, Jamie and Nicole from Santa Barbara. It is nice to get back to the simplicity of bouldering. We will then return to San Diego tuesday morning to fly to Seattle for Turkey Day. It will be nice to get back to Washington, breathe in the clean air and enjoy the green vistas. We won’t be climbing in the Northwest but it will be nice to read some books, see some family and rest up.

Happy Thanksgiving to All!

– Luke


Seeking Balance

18 11 2008

Sometimes, I feel like I am constantly searching for balance in my life. Balance between academics, research, relationships, friendships, rock climbing, ultimate frisbee, family, free time, mental health, and physical fitness.

That’s a lot of things to balance. As a result, everything doesn’t always get its fair share of Lizzy because there’s just not enough to go around. But I just keep trying to squeeze in as much as possible, hoping that at some point, it will all pay off.

I haven’t been climbing as much as I would like recently, but somehow the small steps I’ve taken to eat better and exercise a little more (crunches before bed and commuting to school on my bike) have helped! I have made progress on Equinox the last couple times I’ve climbed it. Although I’m still pretty far from my goal of sending it, this is still pretty sweet. After all, I’m not privileged enough to live the kind of life where climbing gets to be my top priority. It’s comforting to know that I can still be successful without ignoring my other responsibilities.

Now if I could only get into the grad school I want, be lucky enough to win one of the fellowships I’ve applied for, reach some cool conclusions with my research, AND send some sweet routes during the rest of my stint in SoCal, that would be awesome.

But for now, I’m just seeking balance.


The Crack Routine

17 11 2008

Since J-Tree season started I have been thinking about Equinox. A pure line, a hard crack, a test of mental and physical perseverance.

I have been aware of Equinox since Lizzy found out about this crack about 3 years ago. Fresh off sending my first 5.12 sport routes I thought I had a chance when I first attempted to Top Rope this it 2 years ago October. The biting pain, the constant jamming, the non-existent feet was too much for me. I bitched, fell, and was relieved when I finally made it to the anchor cursing this climb. I was far from committed or ready.

Almost every weekend this season I have tried Equinox. This Sunday, on my 6th day of attempts I did it clean on TR. I arrived at the anchors without a pump and free from pain and doubt. I had relaxed, hit all the locks and made my way to the top unclipping the gear that I would use for a lead. I was hoping that it was the day, my day, to lead the route, abet on pre-placed gear. This would be a powerful first step to a future redpoint.

I had finally sequenced the first section and knew every lock, each body lean and powerful move. I knew the exit traverse, the foot holds and the bite of this vertical fissure. While my body was prepared my mind had yet to mature. I was afraid of falling on the gear, I clipped too early and I pumped out after repeatedly missing a clip. I tried again and again tearing much skin from my fingers but to no avail. In truth I was not ready.

The next three weeks I will replay the moves through my head, train hard on the campus board and wait with excitement for our next trip out to J-Tree. While I did not send I am moving in the right direction falling on lead and trying as hard as I could. I need to dispel my mental deamons and relax my next time on lead.

Despite the hot weather Lizzy and I had a blast on our quick day trip. Lizzy onsighted Touch and Go and made progress on her crux of Equinox. The rest of the weekend was spent watching movies. Quantum of Solace was mardignal but we had a great dinner out at Buca di Beppo.



Intersection Rock BBQ, A J-Tree Photo Essay

14 11 2008

This past weekend Lizzy was in the Field studying Geology so I headed out to J-Tree for the 3rd Annual Intersection Rock BBQ. The idea of a BBQ on top of one of the most visable J-Tree features seems like a crazy idea but we had no injuries and no tickets.

Two grills, lots of beer, guitars and burgers were hauled up to the top of the rock and people steaidly made there way up way after the sun went down. At the high point there were at least 40-50 people on top. There was lots of dancing thanks to the two guitarists. 

Many beers were drank, hot wine was consumed, and everyone had a blast.  But what about the climbing? To get the most of out the weekend Shay, Alex and Angelina drove out early Friday morning. We snagged camp sites in prepration for the mass of San Diego climbers coming for the Saturday night BBQ. We then headed out to Geology Tour Road. 


Shay about to start up Knack.

The tick list was Knack and Perpetual Motion and then Equinox.  Angelina and I did Perpetual Motion, which I was able to onsight, while Alex and Shay did Knack. Perpetal Motion started a bit pumpy and then there were some hard moves followed by a super fun hand crack. 


Angelina showing her bloody finger after coming out of the tricky jams of Knack.

Knack was super technical locks. You had to keep your weight on your feet and make sure not to slip out. The cold wind gave perfect temps since the jams were far from locker. After Angelina and Shay lead the route I got on and luckily got a flash. At one point I was slowly slipping out of the crack and was able to pull hard and keep it togeather. 

We headed out to Equinox and I had my best performance yet. After working a few sections on TR I was able to lead it on pre-placed gear in two falls. I had screwed up the gear and that caused my 2nd fall. Everyone top roped the crack and I ended up TRing in the dark with 2 falls. My fitness is increasing and I am hopeing for a send this weekend.

Saturady was a mixed bag of climbing and work and partying. The highlights of the day incude sends of Course and Buggy by both Angelina and Shay. As well Nate CRUSHED left ski track. I followed him clean but could not match his grace. It was very impressive.


On Sunday we woke up to much colder temps and a raging wind storm. We headed to Hot Rocks since it is in the sun.  The crew managed a lot of sends despite the variable weather. 


Ian starts out on his Onsight with a minimal amount of gear beta. 


Starting out the crux. After you get your foot on the crimp its all over.


Ian calmly working through all the hard moves.


Kostas, tights and all, past the crux and about to get into the amazing hand crack.


Nate fingerlocking his way through the crux. 

j-tree-bbq-nov-08-2051Luke working his through the technical finger locks.

It was funny how Hot Rocks went down. Both Nate and I used the crack with different sequences. Kostas, Scotty and Ian used the crimp out right to gain the better holds higher up. I was happy for a 3rd try send. Top roping it twice, with the second time clean, gave me confidence to lead it. 

j-tree-bbq-nov-08-2641Scotty reaching for the Crimp.

We headed over to Sport Challenge rock to work on Leave It To Beaver and Clean and Jerk. I had pumped out on my last try on Clean and Jerk and was happy to get to send it. I climbed the bottom differently than before and the top was a bit easier. Kostas followed me while nate belayed Ian on Leave it to Beaver.

j-tree-bbq-nov-08-279Luke heading up Clean and Jerk, which is on the cover of the new Joshua Tree West.

We all met at the top and Ian had sent! A very proud lead with a very hard crux.  We used both ropes and some of my gear to setup a top rope so we could all try it.  Nate and I both had no problem getting up to the crux. However neither of us could do the move. A long reach to  a jug froma left hand slot with bad feet. I took full advangtage of the TR and cheated through the hard moves and then did the top clean. It was amazing crimping on horizontals for the last 30 feet. 

j-tree-bbq-nov-08-3501Ian, Nate and Kostas 

I was able to figure out the hard move but I started with my feet much higher than I could get on my own. I am anxious to try the route a bit more when I am less tired. 

j-tree-bbq-nov-08-322Lin commiting to the thin crack on Spincter Quits.

We finished the day on the other side of the sport challenge rock with Lin, Scotty and Charles. Too tired to lead Rap Bolters are weak we waited for somone to get to the top and setup a TR for us. In retrospect I should have 4th classed up the decent and setup the rope since by the time we had everything setup everyone was ready to go.

My one try was horrible and made me wonder if holds had fallen off. I had done the route on TR three years earlier without falling. YIKES! After my flailing we packed up and ate some food and made our way back to San Diego. I got a ride back home from Ian and Rick which was pretty uneventful. A great weekend and a ton of fun with the Pullhader crew. 

If you want to see everyone else’s photos be sure to checkout Facebook.




4 11 2008

Today is a big day for our country. I think this Starbucks ad its too true so do your part and go vote! 

This is also our 100th post!! It’s been over a year now and it has be great experience. I think the best thing about blogging is the network of climbers that you can connect with. 

Along that vein checkout this funny post by the ClimbingNarc on the election

Following the Favorites page we have a new Ticklist page. Lizzy and I hit slighly different topics with our lists. Both outline climbs that drive us to get better and climb harder.



Sweet Gear Review: Patagonia R1 Flash Pullover

3 11 2008

Luke and I love gear. Luke’s favorite is probably shoes (he has 5 pairs of Miuras…) And the gear I love the most is outerwear. I’d like to blame it on growing up in the Pacific Northwest, where your most important clothing asset was not your sexy clothing, but your “technical” outerwear. There was a time in my life where I worried that I was not cool because I didn’t own a TNF Denali jacket (you know, to wear with jeans and a hoody underneath). I now realize that I was more cool because I got a custom-made BeyondFleece jacket instead.

But on to the main point of this post.

I first came across the Patagonia R1Flash Pullover on my second summer of youth climbing trips with Northwest Mountain School (run by my friends John and Olivia). My friend Alex had one that seemed like the perfect layer for our adventures, which involved sport climbing in Smith Rock, alpine rock climbing at Washington Pass, and checking out the Smoke Jumper base near Winthrop, WA. Upon returning home, I immediately went to REI and tried on a Women’s XS. I was bitterly disappointed. It did not fit well for base layer, being baggy and strangely shaped.

Lizzy, Alex, and our awesome guide Matt Farmer at Washington Pass. Alex is wearing the coveted R1.

Despite my disappointment, I came back to the R1 after a couple years of cooling off from my disappointment. I spent the summer after my freshman year in college living in John and Olivia’s awesome house in Leavenworth and theoretically working for Northwest Mountain School. As an employee, I got to take advantage of NMS’s sponsorship by Patagonia and ordered one to try out. Women’s XS in green. This time, Patagonia got it right. The fit was perfect and I began using it immediately. In fact, Luke and I think that I may have worn my R1 on every single multipitch climb I’ve done since buying it, which is a real testament to its usefulness and ability to adapt to lots of different environments. I loved it so much, I now have 2 (green and blue). Luke also has one, which he loves, although maybe not as much as me because I am much better at being cold all the time.

squamish-sept-07-040Wearing the trusty R1 on one of my favorite routes, Diedre, in Squamish.

So here’s the story: The R1 Flash pullover is a great base layer. It’s excellent at regulating body heat (which is why it’s part of the “Regulator” series, I suppose) – it keeps me warm when I’m cold and it doesn’t make me sweat when I warm up a little. It has a 1/2 zip on the front that helps me cool down and I can pull the sleeves up to my elbows when I have to do a little crack climbing. It also has a small chest pocket where I can put some Shot Bloks or a topo. It has a soft waffled texture on the inside that feels nice on my skin. I often end up wearing it as my next to skin layer after I’ve gotten my t-shirt a bit wet from sweating on the approach hike. Plus, its fit isn’t too tight that I’m uncomfortable, but easily goes underneath plenty of other layers like fleeces, down jackets, shells, etc. and fits nicely underneath my harness.

yosemite-june-07-265R1s and Peachy-O’s in Tuolumne. I know, we’re pretty cute.

The punchline? Among the many (and yes, it is quite a lot) of jackets that I currently owned (or have ever owned), the R1 Flash Pullover is absolutely the most useful piece of outerwear that I have. Without it, I’d probably do a lot more shivering. The $115 price tag might seem a little much, but in my opinion it’s well worth the years of valuable use that I receive.