Facing forward while looking back.

11 12 2008

This past Sunday on my 4th try of the day, after a nice nap, I lead Equinox without falls. In the same fashion as my previous attempts I preplace gear from TR and then clipped all the cams on lead placing one final cam before topping out. In the way that I climbed the route on top rope 3 weeks ago it flowed and felt perfect. My foot slipped once but I hit all the jams and made all the clips. Earlier in the day I refined my sequence and the new way worked! I reached the top a bit tired but not too pumped. Back on the ground I joked about doing it again since I felt so good. 


What a perfect splitter!

This route has been a big deal for me, a pure hard crack and a test of my endurance.  Sending this climb has been a big priority for 2008 but even though I sent I can’t stop thinking about it. I want to keep working on it even though, for now, I am done. It is a mental struggle to want something and invest all your time and energy. Training for the moves on Equinox, spending each weekend driving out to and working on it, visualizing the sequence and replaying all the moves. I am ready for a break from that routine, happy to have no definitive objectives, yet I still desire the redpoint.  I don’t want to have to make excuses about pre placing the gear to bring the climb down to my level. I want to have the mental and phsyical ability for a proper redpoint.  But I know with time fitness will come and I can wait until Lizzy starts leading Equinox before I start working on it again.


Back in November working on the Equinox.

The next few weeks should be interesting as success from a long term project sinks in. Dave Macleod has talked about an emptyness following a long term investment. I wonder if projecting Equinox was the way to fill a hole after I sent Control Freak back in September.  Will our trip to the Virgin River Gorge fill the hole that Equinox will leave?

No matter it has been an excellent season. After the summer season sport climbing we had an awesome fall in Joshua Tree.  The weather is far from cold but the day light hours sure cut into the weekend. I was up by 6:30 both Saturday and Sunday!

On Saturday morning I attened the Riverside Quarry Cleanup and saw many of the San Diego climbers from the gym. We made a big dent in the trash with multiple truck loads going to the dump. While I have only been climbing at the quarry for the last 18 months Stein tells me there has been a huge reduction of garbage. It was also fun to help build trails for a new area at the far right of the quarry called Schoolhouse rock. 

This new area, with freshly built trails, has slabby routes from 5.0 to 5.10+. This addition by Chris Miller and Louie Anderson gives a place for budding leaders to climb in a predomintantly 5.11+ crag. The routes range between a week old to just over a month old so they are still cleaning up. Be careful of loose rock since they not seen many ascents. 

Lizzy is out in the field so I am bouncing between partners for the weekend. Hopefully the weather will stay warm enough and I’ll get in some climbing. 




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.



Letting the Fall Fly By

20 10 2008

The fall has quickly come and its gaining momentum faster that we can imagine. The stacks of three day climbing weekends have been amazing and this blog has surely been neglected. I have to pack all my work in to a four day week and then we are off on some crazy adventure every weekend. 

Wild Clouds in Idyllwild on Friday

I got a email from one of my cousins a few weeks back so we meet them out in Joshua Tree for some camping. While Lizzy and I were nervous for desert heat we experienced quite the opposite. All of California got hit with a cold front and it was beyond chilly. At the Owens River Gorge, the week before, I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt climbing in the shade. In Joshua Tree we were wearing down jackets in the sun and were still quite cold. This storm signaled the start of the Santa Ana winds which were blowing hard on my drive down to San Diego the following Monday. We saw some crazy clouds in Idyllwild on Friday and were chilled by the wind on Saturday and Sunday in Joshua Tree. Our friends Julie and Josh even got some snow in Bishop. Returning to our cities has not provided much respite. San Diego is a bit chilly and parts of the LA area are on fire, fueled by the wind. 

Lizzy getting to belay me on Insomnia Crack

Lizzy did a good job summing it up and I will add some of my perspective. The following is a quick rundown of our weekend two weeks ago. My vacation hours had been burning a hole in my pocket so I decided to take Friday off to enjoy some of the fall weather. This started with a viewing of the Reel Rock tour in Riverside. This showing, at the Threshold Gym, was a bit unconventional and only featured part of the tour. Even though we were looking forward to seeing more films we still got to see the Sharp End and the Big UP dose from South Africa. I was impressed by the number of young people in attendance at the showing. It seems that Threshold, which is located close to UC Riverside, is able to draw a much different crowd than Vertical Hold. At Vertical Hold there seems to be a lack of college age students which is odd since UCSD is nearby. Perhaps they go to the smaller climbing wall at the university or the nearby Solid Rock gym. Before the movie started I had a nice chat with Louie Anderson who was in attendance and got some route beta for our upcoming Red Rocks trip which ended up being helpful.

The Sharp End was fun and it was great to see everyone putting it on the line. Like others have mentioned there was a lot of non-climbing footage and I would have liked to see more climbing action. Seeing Ammon on El Cap was nice but short and the section of climbing in the Czeck Republic really stood out. Overall it was a great collection of stories and I want to watch it again to see more of the details in regards to the specific climbs. 

Lizzy on the super thin crack of The Pirate 12c/d at Sucide

As previously mentioned the weekend at Jtree was cold. We did a frigid ascent of the Left Ski Track which was quite hard and a bit awkward. We hung out with my cousin, her husband and their two daughters and we spent a bunch of time out at Equinox.  I worked Equinox on TR and found a bit of an easier way to do my crux. I was able to re-sequence and do a series of smaller moves which should be easier when fatigued. Lizzy had a go and unlocked a bit more beta, finding a finger stack to get her through the wider top section. After doing the top section clean a few times I was able to do the whole route on TR with one fall, removing the gear as I went up. Since it was my third try my fingers were quite torn up and I was happy with my progress.

Luke and Cousins in J-Tree

My cousins departed after breakfast on Sunday to continue their road trip to Scottsdale, AZ so Lizzy and I relaxed, waiting for Equinox to come into the sun. We were a bit unsure of the correct time so we decided to hike out and see how cold it was. For reference the route came into the sun slightly after 2pm. The wind had picked up from the day before and it was really cold at the base of the route. Stubbornly I scrambled to the top and had Lizzy lower me over to work the moves and place all the gear for a lead attempt. While I was not quite ready to redpoint the route I thought that climbing it on pre placed gear would be a good first lead attempt. Lizzy suffered in the cold as she patiently waited for me to work out the moves.

Putting in some gear on Equinox.

After heating up in sun for a while we pulled the rope and I tied in. I had my best link on the first section and it felt great. I hit all the jams and in no time I was right before the crux. I was a bit intimidated so I hung and shook out to get the energy back. It took me a few tries to get through the middle section and I had to hang on gear to work through the moves. Eventually I made it to the last section but half way across the final traverse I ran out of confidence and hung again. Next try I committed to the moves, placed a few more cams and topped out. I felt good with the first and last sections but was pretty worried about the middle. Hopefully I can get a bit more confident by working more on the moves and try it again next weekend.

This past weekend we hit up Red Rocks for a few hard multi-pitch routes. We were afraid of cold weather but it ended up being perfect. We climbed in the shade in pants and had no wind. On Friday after our drive out we did Only The Good Die Young, 11c – 5 short pitches. On Saturday we had a long day on Cloud Tower, 11d 7 long pitches that ended in darkness and a stuck rope. Sunday we did a bunch of easy sport climbs in the Black Corridor. I was trying to work some endurance so I ended up doing 9 routes 10d or easier. It was a crazy gym like environment but the routes were quite fun.

We had a great weekend despite a bit of silly traffic on our drive back. Lizzy or I will have a formal trip report in a few days. 



An Equinox Day in Photos

16 10 2008

Some Excuses for my Slacking

16 10 2008

If you are one of the few who actually follows our blog, you may have noticed that there has been a slowdown in posting recently, especially on my part. It’s not that we haven’t been climbing (we have, this coming weekend will be our 3rd 3-day climbing weekend in a row) but that somehow life has become ridiculously hectic.

Even though my class schedule isn’t that bad, I am also a TA this term and I now have less than 3 weeks until my first two fellowship applications are due (the NSF and the NPSC), which is kind of scary. So in addition to my homework and reading The Self-Coached Climber and trying to train for Equinox, I also have grading labs and writing three of the more important essays that I’ve had to write in my life.

Hence a little less blogging…

But meanwhile, a brief update of what we’ve been up to (other than trying not to stress out too much):

Last weekend we headed to Idyllwild on Friday so Luke could try to send Insomnia. He got it on his second try, but not a true redpoint because our rope was too short to clean all the gear from the first try (long story…). Then we toproped the Pirate (5.12c/d) which was AWESOME and really fun. Then we went out to Joshua Tree to camp with Luke’s cousin and her family and do some more climbing. Luke lead Left Ski Track (5.11a) which I found to be extremely unenjoyable, despite it’s “classic” status. Then we headed out to Equinox, which Luke TRed 3 times and I TRed 1.8 times. It was January temperatures in October – really cold. We woke up feeling like we had been run over by several trains on Sunday morning, so we had massages, relaxed, then packed up camp and headed back to Equinox. I felt really physically exhausted, so decided not to waste my time trying it when I couldn’t give enough effort. Luke placed gear while I lowered him from the top and went for a pre-placed gear lead attempt. He did pretty good and linked up through the crux. It was even colder today. I was wearing 2 down jackets, a fleece, and an R1 and was still cold. Brrr. We rewarded ourselves with sandwiches at Crossroads and a visit to Nomad before heading home.

This weekend we’re headed to Red Rocks to hopefully send Cloud Tower among other routes.



Welcome Back to the Grind

30 09 2008

The wonderful thing that is summer vacation has now officially ended for me. Yesterday was the first day of class of my senior (wahoo!!!) year at the California Institute of Technology. I couldn’t be more excited for it to be my last year, even though I’m also a bit stressed out about doing everything right and hopefully getting into my grad school of choice.

Getting back into the climbing thing after almost a full month off has been a little rough. My endurance went down the drain, as did quite a bit of my newly earned confidence from all my sport climbing successes. Hopefully this coming weekend at the Owens River Gorge will help bring some of that back.

However, I’m trying hard to get back into shape (mentally and physically) because one of our major objectives for the fall/winter season is the crown jewel of J-Tree, my long lusted after objective, Equinox. This is very exciting.

In other news, Luke onsighted the Vampire at Tahquitz last weekend! (And I flailed up after him – holy crap the Bat Crack was kind of hard…) We should have a post about that soon, after I stop being too stressed out about school to actually get anything done…