16 12 2008

This weekend Lizzy was away in the Field but I got to spend one day at the Riverside Quarry before getting a bad cold. I drove up with Leah who sent her project, Vertigo 13a. We also met up with a fun crew from the LA area. All photos have been post processed and I am interested in opinions of how they look! Based on my terrible originals I have a lot to learn. I just got a bigger memory card and going to start shooting in raw to make post production easier.


Derick beginning a hard section of Vertigo.


Leah works through the lower section of Vertigo.


Leah makes the first hard reach.


Leah sets up for the last move of the crux.


Another version of a previous shot.


The first shot without the blur.






Mental Toughness and a Full Moon in Jtree.

16 09 2008

Life continues to be busy and hectic but I was able to get a bit of climbing in this weekend. Conflicting schedules and a careful decision not to over train meant only one day at the climbing gym this past week. I got in a few nice bike rides to work and started running again. I even was able to push my 5k time down to 20:05. I am not a 5 minute mile runner or a marathoner but I love my 5k. Three miles seems to be a good distance and I can try to go fast the whole way. I am hoping to improve my cardio vascular fitness and finally run a sub 19 minute 5k. Having goals outside of climbing helps keep me motivated to train hard in the gym.

Stein and Leah below Control Freak. Photo by Andre Kiryanov

With a good week of rest and cross-training I was excited to go to the Riverside Quarry on Saturday. Stein and I were climbing by eight and I was happy to try a few new routes as warmups. Leah and her husband Andre were on Original Sin so we started on Exfoliator and worked our way to another 11c near by afterwards. I think it is called Afterburner and since it is a newer route it could use some more traffic to clean off the dirt and loose rock.  After warming up it was Stein’s turn to try hard and he put the draws up on Tattoo. It was his fifth day on the project and he was getting close. A few foot slips and some exciting falls later he made it to the top of the headwall. Confident that recovery would help give him back some power I got a turn.

Leah had just put draws on the first half of Control Freak and I was anxious to see how my fitness was. I hadn’t been to the quarry in a few weeks but I had been doing a bit of bouldering to help with my power. I fell in to mental weakness and grabbed the draw instead of committing to a foot switch. I just was not comfortable with the the move and it got into my head. I did the move a few times and moved on. I stuck the crux deadpoint first time and did the rest of the moves and lowered off. Leah got on the route again and Stein and I spent a bunch of time resting. After Leah took a long fall (see comment after post), the one I was afraid of, she figured out that we could use a double length draw and the clip before doing the first crux.

Luke on the final moves of Control Freak. Photo by Andre Kiryanov

With all the draws in place I set off for a redpoint. I had to reach pretty far to make the pre-crux clip but with the added confidence I committed to the foot switch. I made the cross over and was done with the mental part of the route. I did a few quick shakes and climbed up to the power crux. Clip, shake commit! I stuck the move with a yell. This was my longest link thus far and I needed to keep moving. Shake, crimp, hand foot match and balance up to a good hold. I had made it to the no hands rest! I was so excited but I needed to concentrate on my breathing and relax in order to get back a bit of energy.

Recharged, I climbed smoothly through the steep finale. Making the last jump and yelling again with joy as my feet cut. I mantled over the bulge and clipped the anchors! My first 13 was complete! I was so happy to have made it through and been able to focus and climb the route. Clipping early on the first crux eliminated my fear and I climbed deliberately through the hard moves. The September weather was perfect and everything had come together. Three days of climbing, 10 tries and I had done my hardest route yet!

Luke post-send! Photo by Andre Kiryanov

Inspired by my performance, Stein got back on Tattoo. He made the opening moves look easy and climbed very strong and executed the boulder problem perfectly!! He rested for a while and embarked on the headwall, the second crux. It seemed he must have spent too much time resting and his climbing lacked the flow and focus from lower on the route. He staidly made his way up to the final hard moves but came off. The feet on this section are precarious and you need mental toughness and solid crimp strength. He came down and I gave the route a go on TR.

I struggled just getting to the 3rd bolt with the odd underclings and bad feet. I made my way through boulder problem and onto the headwall. I was too spent for such technical climbing on small holds and gave up. We both tried a few more times and did not make much progress. Tired and happy we headed back to San Diego.

Taylor has come to love the smells of the Quarry and is at home scrambling around the base of the routes. Photo by Andre Kiryanov

Stein and I had met in Escondido and I had arranged to meet a friend, when I returned, to carpool out to Joshua Tree. We were going to the desert to celebrate the full moon and my friend Hartley’s birthday. Lacey, one of Hartley’s friends who I had met many years before at Smith Rocks, lived in Pacific Beach and needed a ride. We quickly made our way to J-Tree with a dinner stop at Crossroads Cafe. It had been months since I had been to Jtree and it was funny to going back with out any trad gear. I was told only to bring my bouldering pad and shoes.

That night after a bit of slacklining (which we found out is illegal in the  park) we wandered the desert by moonlight. It was fun to be scrambling around in the “dark” without needing a headlamp. The weather was cool but not cold and we had a good time. Joshua Tree looked beautful in the white glow of the moon and it was stress free to be there without any plans. No projects or obligations, no climbs that needed to be sent and no agenda for the next day.

In the morning we did a bit of bouldering with a stop at White Rastafarian. We had tried the problem the night before in the dark in sneakers with no success. With only one pad it didn’t seem reasonable to give serious effort to this tall problem. Hartley and I both got to the top of the initial flake without a problem. I was able to get my foot high and could visualize the reach to the top rail. Unfortunately it seemed like a dynamic move and the back breaking rock 10 feet below did not inspire me. We left and drove to Gunsmoke for something a bit closer to the ground. It had gotten quite warm and we were starting to suffer in the heat. I taped my fingers and did a lap on the route. It was quite tricky since I couldn’t feel the crimps and struggled to stuff my fingers in various slots. After Hartley worked various sections we bailed. He had done the route before and neither of us or Lacey were having fun.

Hartley treated us to lunch at crossroads and we headed home. We left Joshua Tree around 3:15 to head back to San Diego. We had left at the same time to come out the previous day so we had a mere 24 hours in the park. It was a blast and hopefully I can steal a bit of Hartley’s time from snowboarding this winter to come out to Jtree with Lizzy and I.

The weekend was a great success and I had even managed a good amount of sleep. To cap things off I went for a run when I got home. Trying to go fast was a bit of mistake since the glorious Grilled Coyote was still in my stomach (A grilled chicken burger with jack cheese, a portobello mushroom and bacon!). It was my last of three weekend away from Lizzy. I can wait to see her on Friday and we are going to an REI scratch and dent sale on Saturday morning.

I may update when I get some photos from Hartley, which would be a nice change from my wordy posts!

Update: Got some sweet photos from Andre! For more of his work check out his site

– Luke

Exploring Possibilities – Trying Harder Projects

26 08 2008

Surprisingly enough, Luke and I seem to be in similar places with our climbing right now. Neither of us is really climbing as hard as we could because we are limiting ourselves by what we think we can do and what we think is safe. Although it can be frustrating to be in this position, it’s good to recognize that our minds and fear are our main limiting factors because we can work on those problems.

This was one of the goals for our climbing last weekend. We headed to the Quarry on Saturday morning to meet up with Stein and Jake. Luke warmed up on Original Sin (5.11b, drilled pockets, which we’ve both sent already), I followed it, and we both toproped a neighboring 5.12, which I was able to get through except for pulling through one powerful move with the magical nylon jug…

Stein heads up Control Freak to put up the draws for Luke.

Then we headed over to Luke’s project, Control Freak (5.13a/b – his first 5.13 project!), which has a tricky mental crux followed by a difficult deadpoint crux that requires a lot of focus. While Luke was working on his project, I had the opportunity to try a potential project for me – Megalomania (5.12a, 12!! bolts) – which I was able to toprope twice in between Jake’s lead efforts on it.

This is the first 5.12 sport climb that I’ve ever considered projecting, which is a big step for me. I’ve already broken into this realm (although not sent anything yet) with several routes in Indian Creek and, of course, The Project itself, Equinox. Megalomania could definitely be a good project for me. It has two definite cruxes, one in the middle and one right at the anchor. The top crux especially is super powerful, involving a really long, powerful reach off an undercling to a sidepull that I really have to lean into to use. The middle of the route has some not as hard, but still interesting and pumpy, climbing on crimps and a no-hands rest that apparently you’re not supposed to use, but since it seems to me very contrived not to use it and chalk marks indicate that pretty much everyone does, I plan on using it. The main problem is that I can’t cheat through the lower crux, so in order to work the route I will have to figure out how to do this part.

Stein on Control Freak.

Meanwhile, Luke gave Control Freak several tries, but was repeatedly stopped by his mental crux, which was pretty frustrating for him. Stein tried Tattoo, which seemed harder than the 5.13a it’s given in the guidebook, perhaps since a large piece of rock that formed the 5.11 traverse, Feeding Frenzy, fell off the wall within the last year or two.

Sunday we planned on heading to Echo Cliffs to work on some old and new projects and get our pump on. We had a bit of a late start, so we were hiking out in the midday heat around noon, which was quite tiring.

Luke tried to warm up on Restrain This, a 5.11b that we’d never tried before. However, the route had a ridiculously long move that took him a couple tries to get. I followed the route, but was very frustrated by the extremely long move – it was literally longer than my armspan. There were some small, crappy holds that maybe could have allowed one to climb around the long move, but the holds were obviously not intended to be used – they were quite loose and scary. So I used the nylon jug again and sent the pumpy but not too hard climbing above. Not the ideal start to the day, plus I was still tired from approaching in the hotness.

Luke moved on to working on his old project on the Pink Wall, Meager and Weak (5.12c). He spent a while remembering and re-working the beta, then moved on to real redpoint burns. After a couple tries and mastering a mental crux, he finally sent, with much encouragement from his belayer! This was Luke’s first redpoint of the grade and I am SO proud of him! He kept going through the scary bits, even though he was still scared! Luke has been working hard recently, with help from Stein, to get past the plateau he has been experiencing recently and I think all this work is starting to pay off!

Afterwards, we headed back over to the Left Flank and Java Walls, which were in the critical late afternoon shade. I re-warmed up by onsighting a 5.10a on the Left Flank, which was not particularly exciting or hard (funny to think that this grade used to be difficult for me) but had rather spaced-out bolts. We had considered trying one of the many 5.11s on the Java Wall, which would all be good projects for me, but I felt too tired to onsight any of the easier ones, and Luke was too tired to do any of them. So we decided to call it a day and walk back out to the car (in the shade!) and drove to Wahoo’s Fish Taco in Santa Monica for dinner. Mmmmm shrimp taco… sooo good!

It maybe wasn’t the most successful weekend for me (especially compared to our last trip to Charleston), but it was still a great learning experience. Although Luke was disappointed about not sending his project at the Quarry, he did send Meager and Weak, which was still a great accomplishment. A weekend well spent!

Bonus photo #1: Me wearing a flying pig hat at the cute and eccentric Ajax Cafe in Port Hadlock, WA.

Bonus Photo #2: Maddy in her silly Ajax Cafe hat.


Pushing Limits by Projecting

18 08 2008

In the past I have been hesitant to project routes because I would not have the time to return and complete them. However in order to start sending harder routes I believe that I need to try things that are above my current sends. Currently I have been plateauing around 12b. While i have yet to onsight the grade I have send a few 12b’s 2nd go and have onsighted 12a. To make matters worse I haven’t even tried very many routes harder that 12b. I think that I have lead less than 5 routes 12c or harder.

Over our long weekend at Mount Charleston I was trying to allow my fingers time to recover while gaining stamina. A hardcore regiment of bouldering had proved detrimental to my tendons and my fingers had been hurting for two weeks. 11c is a good difficulty for me and one of my favorite grades. While I did my first 11c way back in March of 2005 I am still entertained by the climbing. It is not quite 5.12 so there can be good holds and a 11c in my style can be a good onsight.

Lizzy wanted to go to Robbers Roost and I was happy to do a bit of hard climbing on The Burgler. At 12c I had jumped on it last time because I knew it was good for me since I would need to try hard. But back in June I did not think that I could send it even though it was within my phyical limit. Talking to Felix, one of my friends at the gym, about his send of the route raised my pyche and helped me see that the route was possible. The blocky start had totally shut me down on my previous trip and I got scared on lead and didn’t even finish the route.  This time was different and I was able to find a powerful sequence through the opening holds. Body tension and underclings allowed me to gain the crimpy mid section and finally the upper underclings. More tenuous smears lead to the anchors and I had fallen my way to the top.

A few more trys and I linked through the bottom crux and was at the no hands rest. Keeping my motivation high i worked my way up to my second crux. A tricky right hand gaston led to a full exenstion left hand stab into an undercling. With a grunt I was still going but my arms were turing into putty. Motivation sapped I lost my steam and gave up only two bolts before the anchor. Even without the send I was happy. I had pushed hard through the bottom crux and had made it higher than I ever expected. The end moves are still physical and I need to add some endurance before I try again.

While Lizzy was getting cooked up in the Squamish heat this past weekend I had a nice morning at the Riverside Quarry. While it was supposed to hit 92 in Riverside a 6am start and shade until 1pm allowed for a lot of climbing. It was a bit muggy in the morning but with a nice breeze friction was great by noon.

I met up with Stein and Leah at Vertical Hold and we made our way to the quarry. We were climbing around 8am on the classic warm up, Original Sin. It felt much less pumpy this time and after everyone lead it we put a rope on the first part of Sky Pliot to the right. It was my first time on this route so I watched for beta. It was fun and despite mis-sequencing and falling it was a good time. Leah and I then top roped Sins of the Flesh 12d/13a to warm up our fingers for crimps. It was very fun and I climed it clean until the crux. A long lockoff from a good edge followed by some super small holds and then a powerful sequence on opposing side pulls to a jug. Stein skipped this one mentally preparing for his project, Control Freak 13a/b.

On his first try, this visit, Stein came close to sticking the crux deadpoint and then came down to conserve energy. The movement on the route was pretty straightforward but finding all the holds was tricky. A few easy moves lead off the ground to a tricky left traverse at the third bolt. After gaining the first ledge I got a good shake and then crimped up to a hidden left hand hold. This allowed passage to the fifth bolt and the best rest on two large jugs with good feet. Proper recovery was key because the technical first crux was next!

After manteling these two jugs you got a small right hand crimp and slapped out left to a poor sloper. Slapping up again gained a better sloper and allowed a crucial foot switch. Now well above the last bolt a high left foot allowed a cross off the sloper to a good crimp. It was easy to barn door off this move which would send you flying on lead. From the crimp you reached high to a good hold and the next clip. On this high left hand you recover best possible to get ready for the main crux. Directional crimps lead to the next clip and the crux deadpoint. From a good left crimp and a poor right sidepull you lunge for a diagonal edge just above the bolt. I was able to stick this move a few times but need to get it more dialed for the redpoint.

Once you stick the move you have to bring your feet up high on a bad right hand hold and do a dynamic left hand bump to a good edge before the next bolt. This leads to much easier climbing including a fun jump to a jug above the last bolt. A few quick moves on jugs and you are at the anchor.

We top roped this route a bunch of times and I lead it once with a bunch of falls. I was able to do all moves on lead and need to work on relaxing enough to link from the ground into the crux deadpoint. It was super exciting to be working on a hard route that was more in my style. Both Seduction and Sins of the Flesh had very small holds and I struggled to do many of the moves. With some more work I feel that Control Freak could be quite doable and hopefully I can try it again this weekend.

Even with falls it was very motivating to lead my first 13. The focus necessary for the first crux allowed me to move past my fear of being above the bolt. I was completely in the moment and had my cleanest link of the first crux on lead. I have been trying to get past my fears of falling and Stein has been very supportive. It was also helpful to watch him fall from the first and second cruxes without consequence.  Mentally this weekend was a big step and even though I don’t feel any stronger and didn’t send anything. As Stein has told me many times the key is to be relaxed. I agree and by letting go of my fear and just climbing I was able to perform much better.

– Luke

My Hardest Redpoint Yet!

5 08 2008

It was a short (the 2-day version), but successful weekend. Luke came to Pasadena on Friday night and we awoke early on Saturday morning to pick up Lukasz and Eli and head out to the Quarry. We arrived about the same time as Stein and the San Diego crew from Vertical Hold, although we ended up climbing at different areas.

We headed up to the Right of the Roof area with Lukasz and Eli, hoping to find some good 5.11s for me to work on. Luke started out by leading Ground Zero, which is 5.11b in the guidebook and called 5.10d by some locals. I decided to jump right into it and try to flash the route. I got to the crux, which involved a weird move in a little dihedral that was really difficult because I couldn’t reach the good part on one of the holds. After several tries, I fell and lowered, wanting to save my energy for something more doable and less frustrating.

Before the crux on Ground Zero

We moved a couple routes over to Redrum, a fairly short, bouldery 5.11c. Luke onsighted the route to put the draws on for me and I tried it out on toprope since my confidence was a little down after struggling on the “10d”. Although the moves were powerful, I was able to figure them out with a little helpful beta from Luke. The crux section involved a dyno to a tooth from a sloper, a difficult match on the tooth (because the place I caught it was the slopey part), a powerful transition to a sidepull, and then a balancey reach to a good jug, which led into fun 5.10ish climbing to the top. On my first lead attempt, I managed to figure out a way to statically do the dyno by using a small, hidden sidepull, but I fell trying to do the balancey reach.

Meanwhile, Lukasz was trying to do somewhat of a one-move wonder 5.12a, which was hard for him because it necessitated a lot of crimp strength. He finally made it to the top and Luke decided to toprope the route instead of leading something else so I would have time for another go on Redrum before the sun came.

Lukasz before the crux on his 12a

Then, it was go time. I calmed my pre-lead nerves and headed up the powerful moves, confident that I knew the correct beta and movement. I stuck the dyno move statically, transitioned over to the sidepull, used a hidden crimp another climber had told me about to balance myself and relax before focusing on the last reach. I hit it just right and pulled up to the no-hands rest, where I relaxed a little before heading off on the last bit of the climb. I knew all the holds to the top and redpointed the route! My first 5.11c redpoint!

Then we headed to the grand opening of the new Hangar 18 in Riverside, which was very cool. The free-standing boulder had tons of terrain and cool angles, as well as top-out problems and the surrounding walls of the gym had tons of area of lead and toprope routes. If only it wasn’t in Riverside… I bouldered a little and definitely noticed a difference in grading between this gym and the ARC – things in the ARC can be pretty stiff – V4 usually doesn’t seem so doable.

On Sunday, we decided to sleep in and relax. The Quarry is great, but sometimes it’s hard to climb from 8am-noon, that’s not exactly the least tired time of the day. We ended up in Santa Monica, first to Adventure 16 and then to a store called Lululemon Athletica that Eli had recommended. I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of clothing items that one could wear rock climbing, but I ended up choosing an awesome pair of shorts in a lightweight, stretchy fabric and a length that should work well with my harness. I’m very excited to try them out in Charleston this coming weekend!


A Local Climbing Weekend

28 07 2008

After traveling for 4 straight weekends (Charleston, Needles twice, New England) and Luke’s busy weekend of routesetting (I’ll let him blog about that), we were up for a little break from travel this weekend.

I baked a carrot cake and headed down to San Diego on Wednesday so we could have an extra-long “weekend”, even though Luke still had to work on Thursday. So I hung out at Luke’s house on Thursday and we headed to Vertical Hold for an evening climbing session, which was somewhat marred by my left shoulder being really incredibly sore from a silly bouldering fall at the ARC on Tuesday (playing around and falling/landing on my shoulder sans crashpad… oops).

We had a nice, relaxing Friday – Luke made french toast for late breakfast and we headed to Verizon to get him a new phone (Chocolate 3, pretty sweet!), only to be told that his mom had to call them to get him a password or something. So we got some smoothies for “lunch” and headed home for a bike ride (I brought my road bike down with me). We went along some hilly roads and then along a bike route along the 15 in a big loop. It was a bit hard on the legs (not really many hills in Pasadena) but I know it was good for me.

We got up early on Saturday to meet Stein and Chase in Escondido to head up to Riverside Quarry for some sport climbing. Everyone warmed up on Original Sin, an 11b with drilled pockets. (Brief aside on these drilled pockets: in case you don’t know, the quarry is kind of a special place when it comes to ethics – there wouldn’t be rock here at all without people messing around with it and most routes have to be thoroughly cleaned or glued before they’re climbable, so although I wouldn’t ordinarily endorse manufacturing holds, I think it can be a reasonable thing here.) I toproped it clean first try, so I decided to go for the lead after a rest. Meanwhile, the boys all climbed Violator, a many-starred 11c just to the right of Original Sin. Then they started projecting Seduction, a cool-looking (I can only say how it looked, since I didn’t try it) 12d/13a in the same area.

Chase on the beginning of Seduction (5.12d)

Although I was nervous about leading Original Sin (I always am nervous when about to do something that’s not easy), the lead went great. I had the sequence down from my toprope ascent, the pockets were awesome, and I made all the long reaches just fine. This was great for me because I’m looking to start pushing my limits more when sport climbing (I just made a route pyramid, but more on that in another post).

Stein carrying the dog over scary rocks.

I’m sure Luke would love to tell you about Seduction. All I was able to take from the discussion of it was that it had some long-ish moves off very small holds, but also some cool sections. At the end of the climbing session, Stein managed to redpoint it, which was cool to watch.

Luke and I finished the day back in San Diego with dinner at an Indian restaurant, which had excellent vegetable samosas and mango mousse, but disappointing meat in the main dishes. Then we went to see the X-Files movie, which was good, but maybe not quite as exciting as I was hoping for.

On Sunday, we planned to meet up with Lukasz and Eli for some crack bouldering/toproping at Mt. Woodson at around noon. They had never been to Woodson before, so we planned to give them a little tour of the classics. So we went to Robbins Crack (5.10a), Baby Robbins (5.9), Jaws (5.11-), Girls’ Climb (5.10d), California Nights (“5.11b”), Blackfinger (5.10a), and Hear My Train a’Comin (5.12-). We mostly toproped everything since we only brought one crashpad (on purpose). It was fun to try a new route (Girls’ Climb) and a couple older ones (Jaws, California Nights, Train). I was able to use a sequence of fingerstacks (at least 3 in a row) on Jaws that felt totally solid, which was pretty cool. California Nights felt hard and the rock was especially abrasive. Although it’s a classic, it’s definitely not one I’m interested in projecting. Train, as always, was hard, but Luke was able to boulder up the jug (i.e. do the crux) and I was making my highpoint without too much trouble. It was a great day, although next time I think we’ll try to go try some new climbs instead of doing the same circuit over and over again.

Lukasz soloing Baby Robbins (5.9)

Me toproping Jaws (5.11-)… fingerstacks!

So overall, a great weekend with a nice mix of climbing and relaxing. Next weekend will probably be another low-key one before we take a long weekend trip to Charleston so I can send my project (!!!) and we can try out a bunch of other areas.



Climbing at Horse Flats and the Riverside Quarry

17 06 2008

Summer is here and we have been banished to the shade and the mountains. The sun quickly heats the rock and friction becomes non-existent. We spent Friday night camped out at REI to attend one of their Scratch and Dent sales. Despite arriving at 10pm there were 10 people ahead of us in line. Some arrived as early as 4pm. We managed to get a bit of sleep despite the random urban setting of Arcadia. The sale was fun but not very eventful. One of my friends, Hartley, from Santa Barbara was supposed to come down for the sale and an afternoon of bouldering at Stoney Point. A case of food poisoning kept him grounded in SB.

With my schedule free I decided to tag along with Lizzy and Julie who had been invited to go on a Mad Rock catalog shoot. One of the local climbers recruited these girls and was planning on a day of bouldering to get some shoe photos.

We headed up to Horse Flats which is in the Angeles forest in the hills just north of Pasadena. Windy roads and pretty scenery brought us up a few thousand feet to a granite boulder field. My last experience on granite had been less than fun and I was a bit skeptical of what this area had to offer. Fortunately the rock was highly featured metamorphosed granite. It has lots of crystals and despite being a bit flakey offered fun problems.

Josh Wagner, from the Arcadia Rock Gym, and I bouldered while the ladies played with new shoes and took photos. Josh gave me a tour of a few classics and showed me some problems that were not in the guidebook. After taking a look at a super-project we tackled a possibly unclimbed block. Crystals were still falling off at the base and showed no evidence of previous ascents. There was a steep holdless fin and that formed the right side of a dihedral. The angle and lack of holds prevented us from the obvious stemming solution.

Starting from a good right hand you could gain a small sharp two finger crystal with your left hand. Then you had to make a full span to a decent right hand pinch. The remaining moves to the top were less obvious. After reaching the pinch I could make not make any further progress. I shifted my focus to the arête on the left side of the dihedral. A span start and some tenuous smears on the arête allowed you to gain the same crystal as a gaston with the right hand. Using this to bump my left hand up the arête I was able to stand on a high crystal, bump to another sharp gaston and finally bump my left hand to a good hold around the top of the arête. Possibly a FA but most likely done by Wills Young back in the day. I needed a break after the send and went and check on Lizzy who had flashed a crimpy problem and was spotting while the other two girls tried it. Upon my return Josh had solved the right variation and was sitting on top of the boulder. A possible FA each within an hour, pretty good work 😀

My elbow, which has been hurting, needed a rest so I followed the girls around helping light the problems by holding a bounce card. The two bounce cards did an amazing job of adding directional light to the photos. I was super impressed and hopefully can get some in the next six months. I only saw a few of the photos but they looked pretty good and can be found on facebook! When we got back to Pasadena we crashed early with a serious lack of sleep and full day in the sun.

Sunday we got up early for some shady sport climbing at the Riverside Quarry. We had not been to the quarry in six months and it was fun to clip lots of bolts. Stein, my climbing partner from San Diego, met us with one of his friends for our early session. Stein is quite the quarry master and was excited to clip some bolts outside for a change. We have spent many more hours training on plastic than actually climbing routes. Stein helped me to get in a hard climbing mindset and put draws on a bunch of climbs for me.

After Lizzy and I warmed up we got on Salutations a nice 11c that Stein and George had just finished. The quarry is filled with boulder problems separated by good holds and hand free rests. This visit I embraced this style and had much more success. I flashed/onsighted (I saw a bit of beta) the first route and set up a TR for Lizzy. She cruised the starting moves but had to spend a bit of time figuring out the reachy crux. After finding a powerful sequence she pulled through the small holds and gained a good jug. After some slopey holds she finished off the route. The crux was definitely challenging. Focusing on the jug allowed me to commit to the 3 or 4 hard moves on the small crimps.

Stein had finished an impressive onsight of the neighboring Balrog 12b and I got to watch George as the top roped it. I got a sense of where some of the good holds were and what sections would prove difficult. There was an obvious high crux that I would need to save my energy for if I was to send. The first two bolts were simple with a fun mantle onto the slab seen in the first photo. The slopey holds in the second photo blew my confidence and I was insecure and overgripping. I made the third clip from a bad hold and was happy when I got the next hold which happened to be a jug. The next few bolts were easy until a tricky clip. Following this clip were more slopey holds and bad feet. I figured out a heel hook sequence that worked well but I was getting tired. I now was one bolt below the crux and was quite pumped and being unsure of the sequence I gave up. I figured out a way to set up for the clip below the crux but it was quite powerful and zapped my energy for the crux. I hung again and tried to figure out a good way to do the crux. A few more takes and I was through the crux and at the anchors.

Stein had enjoyed the route so much he ran another lap to get some mileage. I watched closely on the parts I had struggled on and figured out a better way to setup for the crux clip. After some rest I went up again making sure to stay relaxed and to flow through the moves. The crux was a tricky gaston cross over sequence right after a powerful clip. I got up to the clip and was able to make it but the next sequence Stein had used proved a bit too reachy and I could not get the same heel hook he had. Hands out of sequence I committed to a higher heal hook that I was able to perch on. This enabled me to rest a little and switch my hands to prepare for the crux. I got my high left foot and right gaston but it felt much worse than my last go. I grunted and fired left hand across to the next good hold. I stuck it and quickly move my feet up to the good holds on the right. A few more moves gave way to an ok rest. A few shakes and I set up for the final tricky move to a crack below the anchor. I trusted my smear and shot my right hand to the undercling crack. Two more adjustments and I was clipping the anchor! I was tired and my climbing was still a bit sloppy but I had committed at the crux and this was important mental progress!

Photos thanks to Lizzy!

– Luke