Turkey Day in Indian Creek

26 12 2009

Back in March, Lizzy and I decided the next time we went to the Creek we wanted to go with friends. Our trip had been awesome, but there is something about spending time with good company in such a beautiful place like Indian Creek. Over the week of Thanksgiving, we climbed with many people and ran into others multiple times throughout the week. To make logistics possible, I drove out with Konstantin and Lin while Lizzy drove from the bay with Sarah Kate.

The trip went amazingly well for me from the first climb to the last and I am very happy with how far my climbing has come in the last year and a half. I was able to redpoint many of the climbs I had top roped my first trip to Indian creek in 2008 and sent a ton of other four star routes.

Luke is getting quite pumped on Mad Dog. Photo by Andre Kiryanov

Unlike March, where we focused on easy routes and exploring new areas, this trip was about sending projects and pushing ourselves to failure. When toying with the edge of your fitness and mental space, failure can actually be very important. In a trend that I have been working on recently, I fell on gear and kept trying as hard as I could until the end. I saw fitness gains and had my most productive trip thus far. I climbed at least one route that I wanted each day and some day saw two or three exciting sends.

Luke is really excited the crack is finally getting bigger. Photo by Andre Kiryanov

Luke poses under Pit Bull Terror. Photo by Andre Kiryanov

Its interesting to figure out what feels hard especially as you go through the many different sizes. A harder finger crack can be quite powerful but feel much more secure than ringlocks of the same grade. The list below is of all the routes 5.11 and harder I did over this trip. I wanted to write this down and put an order to the climbs to note what felt harder so I can look back upon this in the future.  The grades in IC are totally subjective due to people’s fitness, skill set and the size of their hands. When you break into 5.11 and above the routes will demand odd size jamming and can often be quite continuous which requires good endurance and the ability to recover.

  1. Three Strikes You’re Out 5.11a/b Onsight
  2. Our Piece of the Real Estate 5.11a/b Redpoint
  3. Twitch 5.11b – TR Flash
  4. Mantel Illness 5.11b Flash
  5. Pit Bull Terror 5.11b/c  Redpoint
  6. Sicilian 5.11c Onsight
  7. Bachelor Party 5.11c Onsight
  8. Johnny Cat 5.11c Redpoint
  9. King Cat 5.11c   Two hangs
  10. Coyne Crack 5.11c/d Flash
  11. Mad Dog 5.11c/d Flash
  12. Layaway Plan 5.11d TR Flash
  13. Way Rambo 5.11d/12a Repoint
  14. Annunaki 5.11d/12a Onsight/Flash
  15. Quarter of a Man 5.11d/12a One hang
  16. Swedin-Ringle 5.12a Redpoint
  17. Cat Burglar 5.12a/b Redpoint
  18. Way of the Gun 5.12b/c – TR hangdog
  19. Digital Readout 5.12 b/c Redpoint

Luke gives Pit Bull Terror another burn. Photo by Andre Kiryanov

The two hardest routes were both finger cracks, which is fitting since that is my favorite/strongest size. It is fun to learn more about finger stacks (about a .75 camalot for me) and learn to do thin hands. I ranged from pumped on Coyne Crack, to very pumped on Mad Dog, to terminally pumped on Quarter of a Man.  Most of the trip I was able to manage my pump and really only ran out of juice on Quarter of a Man. Since I did so well I know that I will have to start trying harder cracks in the future. On this trip, Digital Readout seemed much harder than the other routes I tried and the only route I actually felt improvement on. For me the difficulty came from the poor feet and the insecure jams at the end rather than the pump of the climb. I found Cat Burglar to be easier but more pumpy since there is no midway rest. I could have done it first try if not for the pump factor. Digital Readout, on the other hand, required me to really pull hard, trust my feet, and commit.

Luke feels a bit beat up after Pit Bull Terror Photo by Andre Kiryanov

On the mental side of things I had a really good trip. On Johnny Cat I have to gun for the anchors to get through the bad size. There was a moment where I looked down at the cams below my feet and just smiled. I took falls on gear twice, both unexpectedly and the falls were clean. I still need to figure out how to push my self when the climbing is hard or insecure since I was a bit worried about falling before I finally peeled on Quarter of a Man and this lead to much wasted energy.

Enjoy the Photos!

– Luke

Sarah Kate onsights Soulfire

Lizzy enjoys some red Camalot hand jams on her redpoint of Soulfire Photo by Andre Kiryanov

Lizzy slots a cam near the finish of Soulfire Photo by Andre Kiryanov

Luke warms up on Long Island Iced Tea. Photo by Andre Kiryanov

Luke makes a few final hard moves on Annunaki Photo by Andre Kiryanov

Luke has the anchors in sight on his flash of Annunaki Photo by Andre Kiryanov

Luke on his way to an terminal pump on Quarter of a Man.

Andre redpointing Mantel Illness

Andre gets ready for some cruxy face climbing on Mantel Illness

Leah finds a pre-crux rest on Mantel Illness

Lizzy starts up Way of the Gun

Lizzy gets ready to pull the roof on Way of the Gun.

Konstantin pulls the roof on King Cat.

Lizzy works through a hard section of green Camalots on Mad Dog.


Bouldering at Joe’s Valley – A Photo Recap

5 10 2009

A bunch of talk of bouldering has gotten me psyched for the upcoming Bishop season. I’ve most likely only bouldered less than five days outside in the last six months. The last serious trip was to Joe’s Valley with a bunch of Bucknell Alumni back in April of 2009. Since we had so many people we got a bunch of sweet photos. If you want a glimpse at Joe’s Valley take a second to look through the photos and check out the links for a brief photo essay from each of the three days we were there:

Joe’s Valley – Day One at the Right Fork

Joe’s Valley – Day Two at New Joe’s

Joe’s Valley – Day Three at the Left Fork

Joe’s Valley – Wills a Fire Videos

Day One:

Luke flashing the Comedian SDS

Lizzy flashing the classic hihgball Michelangelo

Day Two:

Adam sticking Pocket Rocket

Luke on Planet of the Apes

Day Three:

Adam on the Angler

Lizzy on Feels Like Grit

Josh crimping hard on the Jordan boulder.


– Luke

Technical Trickery, A Pine Creek Photo Essay

26 08 2009

I like granite and I like bolts so this past weekend at Pine Creek was a blast. We clipped a ton of bolts on the long well protected routes of the Mustache and Ministry walls before heading to Gotham City at the Owens River Gorge for the final half-day.

The following photo from RC.com was the first time I saw or heard  anything about Pine Creek.  I had either just moved to California or was in the process of doing so and was psyched to see a pretty shot of a “local” area  and it stuck in my mind. During my two years here I have met the climber, Leah, who you have perhaps seen photos of in earlier blogs, the photographer, her husband, and the route developer Louie Andersen.  All of these things secured Pine Creek, in my head, as a possible destination.

Leah on Atomic Gecko (photo by Andre via RC.com)

I read Pine Creek was great in the late summer,  since the walls go into the shade at 10,  and ended up getting some useful beta from friends, John and Shannon prior to our trip. Lizzy and I drove up from Pasadena to meet our friends Jamie and Nikki from Santa Barbara who had arrived the night before.

The weekend was great and I focused on onsighting routes and trying hard. My determination was rewarded with a 5.12 onsight which confirms that my fitness is returning. My other highlight of the weekend was climbing The Megaplex, a sustained three pitch 5.11c. Each pitch had a memorable section and I happily onsighted the 1st and 3rd, with my friend Jamie onsighting the 2nd. It was very cool to do a team free ascent since neither of us fell on our way to the top.

Jamie and I ended the second day with back to back ascents of Flamethrower which featured a techy slab up to a crazy steep roof, very wild for granite. Earlier in the day Lizzy had redpointed Window Shopper for her 6th 11c!  It was very cool to have everyone in the party send this climb and both of the ladies really did well with the technical crimping.

I found the routes on the Mustache wall to be very fun and the granite was nice and sticky. The two routes we did on the Ministry Wall were totally different than the Mustache wall and the hold and rock type dictated a different set of moves. I thought Never Believe was an awful warm-up and  just wasn’t very fun.  Burning Inside, on the other hand, was quite excellent  and featured very cool movement on a variety of holds that always seemed to face the wrong direction.

Enjoy the photos!

– Luke

Pine Creek - Aug 09 - 009

Jamie takes a warm-up lap on The Becky Route, 10a

Pine Creek - Aug 09 - 021

Jamie figuring out the no hands standup sequence on a fun 11a, Mr. Ridiculous

Pine Creek - Aug 09 - 027

Jamie figures out a technical sequence on Window Shopper

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Lizzy starting up Window Shopper on her 1st lead go.

Pine Creek - Aug 09 - 079

Lizzy works her way though small crimps and tricky foot sequences.

Pine Creek - Aug 09 - 091

Lizzy pulls through one of several fun mantles on the upper part of Window Shopper.

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Nicole on the way to her first 5.11 redpoint!

Pine Creek - Aug 09 - 107

Nicole tries not to get too excited about crushing small crimps.


Luke on his way to to a 12a onsight!


Luke manages not to fall off the crux of Stone Cold Fusion.

Day 2:


Lizzy starts up Never Believe the on the Ministry wall.


Jamie enjoying his flash of Burning Inside at the Ministry Wall.


Jamie sets off on the second pitch of The Megaplex

Pine Creek - Aug 09 - 135

Jamie works his way up the fun slab of Flame Thrower


Luke checks out the intimidating roof on Flame Thrower.


Luke pulls the lip on his onsight of Flame Thrower.

Pie and Slide Night – Australia 2005

11 05 2009

Along the lines of Kate’s Post about the past I thought it would be fun to put some old photos online from my semester abroad in Australia.

While I was studying at the University of Melbourne I was a member of the Melbourne Uni Mountaineering Club and through this club I was able to find climbing partners, arrange rides, and get outside the majority of the weekends I was in Australia. One of the annual events was a Pie and Slide night at a local pub and thinking highly of my self I entered photos in many categories.

Looking back these are not top notch photos but at the time with my Sony point and shoot I was happy to be recording memories. There are so many beautiful places in Australia and the rock is absolutely stunning. As I dig through old photos I hope to get some more posts about my travels down under.


– Luke




Matty on Cricket Bats in a Box at Mt Araplies



Simon clips on the holdless Elephant Slide at the Grampians.



Mattie enjoys some killer sandstone at the Elephant’s Hide.


Australian Flora and Fauna
Daintree Strangler Fig

A strangler fig in the Daintree Forest north of Cairns



A creek on the all sand Fraser Island, Queensland



A pretty waterfall in the Grampians, Victoria


Australian Landscape


The “seven” apostles from the Great Ocean Road


Norman Island

A dissapearing spit of beach in the beautiful Whitsunday Islands.



A cozy inlet along the Great Ocean Road.

“Abroad” Scenery


A fuzzy Capitan from my frist trip to the valley.



In 2005  Hartley and I climb the Prow on the Washington Column seen on right side above.



Looking down at the valley from the top of Half Dome.


People In Wilderness

Simon and Shawn getting lost in the lichen at Teneriffe, Victoria



Scott on Flight of a Gumby, New River Gorge, WV



Having a great time group multipitching on the Watchtower faces , Mt Arapiles 


Spring Bouldering In Bishop

20 04 2009

We had planned on a Limestone excursion to Saint George but the weather gods decided that was not in the cards. After some searching on NOAA.gov we thought Bishop would be a workable alternative. Bouldering is a good way for us to have a relaxing weekend with the hassle of ropes and Bishop is fairly close to Pasadena.  It was a rainy Friday (last week)  in both LA and San Diego and our drive up towards the sierras was much the same.  When it wasn’t raining on the 395 we could at see the clouds dumping snow in the mountains in the distance on either side of the road. The rain lessened as we approached the town of Bishop and when we pulled into the Pit, a local campground, the ground was completely dry.  

By chance on the drive up I had called Jamie and he was headed up to Bishop that night with two friends, Daniel and Megan, from Santa Barbara. We reserved them a site and were happy to share breakfast the following morning after their midnight arrival.  Jamie and crew spent Saturday at Dale’s Camp and the Buttermilks and we went to the Sads. Lizzy prefers Volcanic Tablelands and wanted to work on one of her projects from last trip, Sad Parrot. My fingers are still not in top shape so I focused on flashing easier problems and climbing on slopers. We were quite successful on Saturday since Lizzy sent her project and I flashed my first V5 and did another in three tries.  Daniel took a bad fall off Evilution and hurt his ankle so Jamie and Megan decided to join us on Sunday at the Happies. This left Daniel to spend Easter morning at the local Casino before the SB crew returned home.

Sunday started for me with a Flash of the super fun Slap Happy and Pirate Booty. Slap Happy is very simple and has fun moves on large slopers that requires commitment and body tension. Lizzy worked on Mr. Witty and Jamie and I both sent Will’s Arete, which I had tried on a previous trip.  Jamie sent first and I had a surprise send when I took Jamie’s advice and really pushed with my feet to stick the crux throw.  This problem is meaningful for me since I tried it on my first trip to Bishop in November of 2007 and it seemed impossible despite being V5. I appreciate each piece of progression as I am able to work through my weaknesses.

Lizzy ran a few laps on, Heavenly Path, and Megan, despite being fairly new to climbing, topped out this heady highball. Near the end of the day I got on my other main project, Every Color You Are V6. On the last three trips I had fallen off the second to last move before finally seeing an essential bit of beta. I had yet to try the  high right heel hook, but was convinced since I had seen it work. I fell off a few times trying to figure out how to throw up my heel before some other climbers stopped by. A strong dude from Portland sent Every Color first try using the heel hook and I was impressed.  On my next try I got up to the second to last hold and unable to figure out the proper technique threw my lower body to the right. My feet cut, legs making a big arc and all of a sudden my heel was in the right place! I bumped up my left hand, like I had just seen, but stalled not knowing if I should go left or right to the final jug. I was barely holding on using both hands and my spotters were encouraging me loudly to go for it, but how! I bumped my right hand and my fingers wrapped around the elusive jug. I was ecstatic but shaking from the extended effort and carefully moved my feet up through the final easy moves to top out! Sunday was one of my best climbing days in months with my fingers fairly pain free and  two projects sent. I carried my excitement and cooled down on a few more climbs before heading to The Loony Bean for a celebratory Chai.

It seems this will be our last trip to Bishop for the season and I was happy to put a few of my projects to rest. Next season I hope to recover my crimp strength and get on Los Locs and The Checkerboard which have been in my mind for the last year or so.  Lizzy has been doing awesome bouldering and is working her way up through the grades. She even has a few projects and is excited to get back on Mr. Witty and Action Figure.

Enjoy the photos!

– Luke


Lizzy sizes up the shady warmup.



Lizzy makes the warmup look good!



Lizzy works out some sweet mantel beta for a fun problem on the Reward and Treason Boulders. 



Lizzy enjoyes the stress free bouldering lifestyle.



Using Lizzy’s beta Luke flashes the  Space Suit.



Luke plays around on an fun unknown problem.



Lizzy sizes up the next move to the small chalked gaston on Sad Parrot



The crux finger pocket of Sad Parrot



Luke starts up Pirate Booty



Jamie makes quick work of Pirate Booty



Luke gets ready to throw for a sloper on Slap Happy. 



Lizzy pulls off the ground on Mr. Witty


bishop-april-09-146Lizzy pushes left into the tricky rockover start of Mr. Witty



Megan works her way up the fun V1 right of Solarium



Jamie figures out some beta for Solarium


bishop-april-09-176Jamie tops out the sandbagged Solarium



Winter… in Red Rocks!

15 01 2009

This past weekend the weather was perfect and we had an amazing couple of days in Red Rocks. There were a staggering eight of the San Diego crew out at the Gallery on Saturday so Lizzy and I were able to take a bunch of Photos. Sunday Lizzy and I opted for some solitude and had a fun time at the Stone wall. While the rock is a bit soft the routes are longer and we enjoyed being alone while we were there.


Sonia on the super crimpy Minstral in the Gallery. 



Felix starting across the Sissy Traverse



Konstantine on Where the Down Boys Go



Felix making good progress on his project, the Sissy Traverse



Konstantine high up on Where The Down Boys Go


red-rocks-jan-09-060Leah on the opening moves of Nothing Shocking



Leah making progress on Nothing Shocking



Sonia on Fear and Loathing



Sonia gets ready for some hard clips on Fear and Loathing



Luke on the beginning moves of Fear and Loathing



Luke working through the left variation of the crux of Fear and Loathing