The Road to June and our Contest Winner!!

5 06 2009

It is June already and Lizzy will graduate in a week and then 8 days later I will fly up to Portland, Oregon for a week at Smith Rocks.  It has been exceptionally busy at work and we have been making the most of our weekends leaving little time to write stories and post photos. Climbing as been going well and I am finally starting to get back the the same levels from six months ago. My various finger injuries have been more bothersome than expected but I have been enjoying “moderate” routes at gym and have been mixing up my workout routine .

Mt Charleston - May 09 002

Lizzy trying to catch up on sleep after our post midnight arrival.

First off we held a little contest for a SuperTopo shirt and despite our efforts its been over two weeks without posting a winner.  Via a random number generator we have a result and I will be sending John M from North Dakota the Shirt!! Congratulations to John and thanks to everyone who left a comment. Hopefully in the future we can give away something desirable to a large audience and perhaps get more then seven responses.

Mt Charleston - May 09 058

All dressed up for Phantom.

As Lizzy already posted on Twitter, back in May, we spent our Anniversary in Las Vegas. We dressed up and went to a show between two days of sport climbing. Phantom was awesome and it was quite impressive to see how many people go to casinos. The show was a ton of fun and it was great to see all of the classic songs performed. Previously Lizzy and I had been through some of the cheaper, dirtier casinos that made me wonder why people gamble. This trip our show was at the Venetian and they had some crazy sights. The photo below was taken inside; needless to say I was impressed.

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A far too realistic scene inside the Venetian Hotel and Casino

We were able to climb before the show on Saturday and all day Sunday. The limestone at Robbers Roost did not disappoint and Lizzy and I checked out a few routes we had yet to try. The climbing varies greatly depending on the angle of the rock and it occasionally seems like you are climbing at different areas. We started on some slab routes with small sharp holds and features caused by drips. After a super fun 5.8 warmup Lizzy and I both lead this exciting 10+.  It was likely bolted on lead and often the climber was doing a cruxy move with a bolt well below their feet. I also tried a hard 5.11 slab which I onsighted until the final bolt. Unfortunately I was quite pumped and did not want to commit to a long fall while pushing into the unknown. I hope to keep a cool head and redpoint the route this weekend.

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Luke uses a double stick clip to put a draw on the third bolt.

After I tried Prince of Thieves, seen above, we moved back to the main area of Robbers Roost. The morning had been quiet and we had not seen very many people. The central section of the crag is in a tall canyon/corridor which really traps sound. We were impressed to see a decent crew of people with the occasional tourist. I had wanted to do the super extension of The Rooster and racked up 20 quickdraws for the 40+ meter pitch. The standard version of the route is 10c with 9 bolts in about 95 feet. It is sharp and a bit scary but a good mental exercise. The 1st extension is 11b and another 3 or 4 bolts. The final extension goes up steeper rock with an additional 5 or so bolts for a total of 17 (which I only figured out after climbing it). It was my first time on the extension and I made it to the 2nd set of anchors onsighting the 11b crux. However I was drained mentally and did not want to commit to the steep upper section and chose to rap off which just barely got me to the ground with our 70m rope.
Mt Charleston - May 09 048

Stick clip magic!!

Lizzy enjoys projecting at Robbers Roost and after sending Los Banditos, her 2nd 11c last season, she turned to Five Finger Discount for this years project. This route is a bit harder and requires more power than endurance to complete its shorter steep crux. I put a set of project draws on the route  stick clipping through the crux to save energy. The 4th clip is fairly hard and having the draws on makes the climb more fun.  I taped the upper gates closed and hopefully the gear will still be there when we return this weekend.

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Lizzy skin is losing the battle against the limestone.

Lizzy made great progress over the two day weekend and relearned the beta she had developed the summer before. There was no send but hopefully this weekend we will have workable weather and Lizzy can nab another 11c.  With the help of some locals I was able to send Highway Man on my third try for my first 12a at Mt Charleston. I also climbed a very fun unknown 11+ route to the right of Five Finger Discount that had a very cool crux involving body tension on slopey holds. I was happy with my weekend results and to be regaining my sport climbing fitness.

As I previously noted we spent Memorial day weekend in Zion and had a blast. I think that my body is now recovered from our day on Sheer Lunacy and am excited for the summer season in the Sierra’s. The short and medium term effects of a very long hard day of climbing are curious and I am still learning how best to prepare and recover. We learned the hard way that it is best to budget for more water than you expect to drink even if it is heavy.

This past weekend Lizzy and I had initially planned to go to Idyllwild with some of our friends from Santa Barbara but a last minute cancellation left us with some free time. We decided to skip the trad climbing and clip bolts on granite at Keller Peak. Josh and Julie met up with us mid day and showed us some of the different crags. Julie took a few photos and I expect they will be on her blog at some point.  We decided to go exploring at lunch and somehow got caught in a impromptu rainstorm. This is pretty strange since Keller Peak is only about an hour or so east of Pasadena but I suppose that once above 7000 feet one can be subject to different weather.

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Plenty of tourists visit Robbers Roost full of misinformation from this sign.

We decided to bail since all the rocks were wet but while driving down the mountain the rain mysteriously stopped. In fact the road was bone dry meaning the the rain had somehow been stuck higher up. After reconsidering options we choose adventure and went to the Dinosaur Wall. This crag does not have a guidebook and we were a bit unsure of the approach. However we could see the rock from the road and made our way their safely despite an encounter with a sleepy rattlesnake.

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Lizzy cross the road to start the killer 5 minute approach to Robbers Roost.

The Lower Dinosaur wall had a few bolted routes and I was feeling good and jumped on the middle line with no idea of the grade. I was able to onsight the route and it was quite fun and easy until the last two moves which allow one to clip the anchors. I swung right and put a TR on a harder route that Josh had attempted in the past. This gave us two TR’s which was nice way to relax after escaping the rain. After a short nap the ladies did the left route while Josh and I worked the right route with a cruxy arete boulder problem start. I was able to do all of the moves and after getting to the top I re-tried the bottom crux and got ready for the lead. The bolts are a bit oddly space but I was confident since I had yet to fall on the moves.

On my lead attempt I must have been holding back a bit and my body was so tight that I could not reach a hold necessary for the tricky mantel. After a few tries I changed my sequence completly and managed to mantel using different feet  and make it through the crux. I found my self on the half way no hands rest much more pumped then on TR and was happy to hold on through the crimpy finish  trying not to pull the wrong way on a very low quality sidepull while clipping the anchors.

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Lizzy objecting to my morning enthusiasm at Mt Charleston.

We did one more route the front of the Dinosaur wall and moved to a corridor on the inside with a plethora of newly bolted routes. It was very nice to be in the shade and despite a previous to the area  trip Josh had not climbed any of these routes. We were both excited to have our choice of routes and I chose an easy looking line with two bolts to a flaring hand crack. I grabbed an assortment of cams from Josh and led up the grainy chossy rock. After making my way into the crack we could tell how new these routes were as lichen and rock cascaded down onto Josh’s head. I was not excited with the gear and ended up placing 3 pieces from the stance as Josh laughed at me from below. I moved up, adjusted one of the cams, and started face climbing now that the crack had vanished. While there were no more bolts but the climbing was easy and I made it to the top.

Mt Charleston - May 09 008The summer air is cool at the high altitude Hilltop Campground

By the time Lizzy and Julie arrived in the corridor Josh was half way up the 50 ft “pitch” and we were both laughing uncontrollable. The rock was  not the best and Josh now saw why I had been a bit sketched out and placed so many pieces. When Josh had tugged on 2 of my cams the lobes had just continued to open in the soft granite. Not the best sight. Josh and I finished the day with a few more TR’s and are excited to go back with some pads to try and headpoint one of the TR’s that had not been bolted. It looked like the climb could be protected with a couple of cams in a horizontal that would keep you off the deck for the crux follow by some unprotected crimping before a final crack and mantel top out. Hopefully I will have time to go back before it gets too hot.

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Lizzy doing a final bit of relaxing before we went climbing at Robbers Roost.

We are taking Lizzy’s final weekend before graduation to do a last minute sport climbing tune up at Mt Charleston. If all goes well Lizzy will send her project and I will send the slab route and perhaps the Rooster super extension.  Lizzy is working on a blog with thoughts from Zion and I have a ton of photos to post in the next few weeks.




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