Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Spires

Success, I climbed higher and lower cathedral spires today with the australian bloke Juliani. It wasn't spectacular climbing, but climbing and topping out the two features was pretty cool. As you can see in the picture, the rock quality isn't nearly as good as its neighbor across the valley, the captan. 

Photo by Morley

Juliani pitch 4 on higher spire

topping out higher spire

found this little guy on higher spire

party!! 5 people on a belay station on higher spire. yay for memorial day weekend

rapping lower spire

I feel like every day my feet hurt more and more in my climbing shoes. By the end of the day it's terrible. I keep kicking myself for getting a half a size too small in my tc pro's. bummer. 

I don't feel like writing anymore. OUT! 

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dirty water

Week 3. My loss of momentum and motivation has crept up on me. Just like everything else in life, certain things lose interest for no apparent reason. Colors are bland. Happiness isn't normal. Food doesn't taste as good. I look forward to rest days more than the climbing.
I struggle with small waves of depression that come in and out every few months. As hard as I'm trying to fight it, the tide has risen. I recognize what I can't control, and I accept it. It's unbearably frustrating that this is happening on the most incredible climbing trip ever.
I now dread when it's my turn to lead, but still enjoy it when I do. Normally I am begging for every pitch.
I'm mentally and physically stronger than I have ever been, and force myself to go climbing day after day so I don't lose what I've worked so hard to gain. I've got plans to climb lower and higher cathedral spire with this australian guy Juliani. I'm not looking forward to it, but I know it's something I need to do.

I am still psyched on NIAD (nose in a day) and climbing salathe on el cap. Maybe getting on a wall will help. I hope so.

I've climbed through this crux before, and I'll do it again; but this time I know it will be harder.

anonymous photo

Friday, May 28, 2010

Red Rocks

Glad to get out of the gloomy weather in the valley, our first stop: in-n-out. Two double double hamburgers and fries, soo good. Around 8 hours later, our next stop: wal mart. It was nice to buy food at half the price of the grocery store in yosemite village. Starving, we decided to make dinner right there in the parking lot. I guess because I had been camping for two weeks already, for some reason I didn't really think it would be a big deal. Many laughed and stared as I boiled pasta on my whisperlite stove. Just as we were done eating, the wal mart managers came out and told us that we couldn't barbeque in the parking lot.. because a car might back into us and it was a liability issue... right.

We pulled into the group campground just outside of vegas around midnight. We thought we might be able to get away without paying. As I cooked banana pancakes the next morning, to start the day off right, the campground hosts drove up. The lady was probably the meanest person I've ever talked to.. no joke. She was trying to make us pay $40 for staying in the site. We were able to get away with only paying $15, which was the price of a normal site. We finished eating, packed up, and then headed for oak creek canyon to climb black orpheus. We cruised up it, but the hike was pretty long. It takes about an hour and a half to get there, and two to get back.

We saw this guy on the road, so we moved it so no one would run it over.

For the next day, we planned to climb levitation 29, a classic ten pitch 5.11c. I was nervous because I was going to lead the steep crux on pitch 5. I've never climbed that hard, that high off the deck. I sent it, and then decided to link the next 5.11 pitch. I was super pumped, but thought that I'd rather fall linking the two pitches, than onsight both pitches with a rest between them to belay Colin up. Colin was also pretty pumped after following the long pitch. It was his turn to lead, but he graciously gave me the next 5.10d pitch. I was psyched, I got it all onsight. 

The grading at red rocks is easier than most places, especially yosemite. There are plenty of 5.9 climbs here in the valley that I am not good enough to lead, yet in red rocks I can climb most of the 5.9 in my approach shoes. But still though, on mountain project the consensus is that that route is still 5.11b/c. For some reason all of my pictures didn't get uploaded so I lost some of them, and only got this one below. All the new bolts this route, and black orpheus were super close together. It was almost unreasonable. Sometimes the belays would have up to 5 or 6 bolts.......hmm 

Colin on the first crux on levitation 29.

We decided to take a rest day the next day, and then head back to the yosemite. Colin knew of some hot springs in arizona that weren't too far away (arizona is really close to vegas). Though hot springs didn't sound too appealing because the temperature was in the 80's and I was sunburned, I still wanted to check it out. We had to cross the hoover dam to get there, so that was pretty cool. 

We had to hike 3 miles to get there, it was funny how we passed people with there hiking boots and trekking poles wearing nothing but flip flops and shorts. 

Wild stallions

On our way back to the valley, stopping at in-n-out of coarse, I drove most of the way, and then got too tired about 30 miles from yosemite. We stopped the car and slept for a little while. It was raining, but when we woke up there was 2 inches of snow. Colin's civic equipped with summer tires made driving pretty difficult. Living in colorado for most of my life, I'm more used to driving in snow. I would have kept going, but it's his car, so I agreed to stop and wait until the roads got plowed. Instead of sleeping sitting up in his car, I figured it would be more comfortable to sleep outside in my bivy sack. I slept in a puddle, but I stayed dry. 5 AM I got woken up by a ranger, you're only allowed to sleep in designated camp sites, on walls, or if you have a backpacking permit. Sleeping next to the car didn't fulfill any of those requirements. I explained that we had to pull over because the roads were too bad to drive, and the ranger was totally understanding. The roads looked pretty good, so we drove the rest of the way in.  

Every day I am so amazed at how beautiful this place is. 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Leaving yosemite for a week

The weather hasn't been great. The cold and rain has forced too many rest days. The weather isn't constant or reliable enough to get on a wall. I've also heard that memorial weekend here isn't the best time to be here because of the million tourons. Colin and I are off to vegas baby. The forecast for the next week is clear with a temperature in the 80's. I'm definitely looking forward to stopping at in and out once we leave yosemite.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Project NIAD

I woke up this morning and asked Colin what we should go climb today. He jokingly said that nose, and then I said ok let's do it. We both laughed.. then got our rack together to go climb. Our plan was to get as high as we could, and then come back down when we got too tired.. our if the forecasted rain came in. No the weather didn't look good at all before we even started, but whatever, we were both psyched to start working on our project. Colin and I want to climb the nose in a day.

We got to sickle ledge (4 pitches up) at least twice as fast as we had done it the first time. We were both definitely more confident and efficient. It's cool to see how much I have progressed from when I climbed el cap a few months ago. We decided that it would be a good idea not to go any further because the storm that had been holding out finally looked like it was coming for us. Another party had fixed there ropes down to the ground from there, so it was really easy to rap down. I had to pass a knot, and I had never done that before, so I yelled up to Colin and asked him how to do it. He had to send me down a sling to tie a prussic, but then said to leave it because he didn't have any more. Hmmmm I thought to myself.. that's weird, I thought he was supposed to carry the rack.. He forgot it on the ledge, so he had to jug back up and get it. Oops. After getting on the ground I dealt with the tourist's questions, and then we headed to curry village for warmth and food.

Photos by Toni S

Friday, May 21, 2010

Aid solo South Face of Washington Column

South Face, Washington Column, May 19-20

So I thought it would be cool to solo a big wall. What that means is I feed myself the rope through a device that will stop a fall, instead of having a partner that feeds out the rope for you. This also means that you have to lead every single pitch, rappel down, clean the pitch (taking the gear out that I placed when leading), and then haul your bag up (this climb would take two days, so I had to bring up food, water, and stuff to sleep in). In learning how to solo climb, it was going to teach me how to short fix (a simul climbing method for speed climbing) for one of our upcoming goals: to climb the nose in 24 hours. 

I had never aid soloed, but had talked to a few people who had done it and had a picture in my mind of how to technically do it. The day before I headed up I went over to swan slab and practiced on the climb called aid route, an old aid climb that people used to practice on. I couldn't even figure out how to get off the ground to the first bolt. With the 50 pounds of gear I had on, I miraculously made the friction move in my approach shoes to clip the first bolt. Not having any cam hooks, offset cams, or offset nuts mad the  entire climb very difficult. I moved off of my first few pieces of gear, and then I bounce tested a cam to see if it would hold my weight. When aid climbing, you use your body weight to test a piece of gear to see if it will hold a fall. PING the cam popped and I fell about 5 feet on to my daisy chain that was still hooked into a piece of gear below. It hurt, but I was alright. I slowly climbed the rest of the route and then felt that I had enough experience to solo a big wall.. keep in mind that nobody really ever practices aid soloing once and then goes and solos a wall.. whatever, I was psyched. 

I hiked hiked up 4 liters of water, my harness, rack, and a rope to the base of the climb so the next morning I wouldn't have to carry up so much stuff. When I got there I saw a guy that I had met in indian creek, UT a year ago. I talked to him for a while, and he was going to go up a slightly different route then me. 

I decided that it would be a good idea to solo this route for my first wall because of how many people would be on it. It's one of yosemite's most popular routes, so if something went wrong, I wouldn't be completely alone. I made it up to dinner ledge (three pitches up) without much difficultly, and then had to wait around for an hour or two for other people before I could start climbing up the kor roof, the crux pitch. I lead up, and then rapped down so I could clean it. I realized that I had not fixed the lead line into the ancho, and had only tied in the haul line. So I had to jug (using devices that allow you to climb up a rope) back up the haul line, and then realized that the lead line was actually tied in.. so I just wasted some time and energy.. this is part of the difficult part of climbing by yourself. I lead up the next short pitch, and then fixed a line back down to dinner ledge. These two guys came up behind me, and bailed because they found out that there was a 60% chance of rain and snow. 

dinner ledge on pitch 3, sweet bivy!!

I was bummed though, this was one of the most popular big wall climbs here, and I was all alone for the night. I ate my canned ravioli and peaches, and then had nothing better to do than go to bed. I got woken up by these two colombian guys that had done the route and were rapping back down in the dark. After a short conversation, I was back asleep. 

I am definitely not as motivated when I'm by myself. I even contemplated bailing. I thought about what Colin and Chris would say if I came back and I told them I bailed because I didn't feel like climbing... haha. That was enough to keep me going. 

The next day was a bit easier, and I definitely was enjoying my slow pace of solo aid climbing. When I was cleaning one of the traversing pitches, I left one of my cams. That's pretty devastating, it wasn't even stuck. Because of all that I have to think about while soloing, I just forgot to grab it.. bummer. 

I was nervous about the 5.8 awkward chimney pitch. It was a little awkward, but it wasn't too bad. At one point I had to take my chest harness (where I racked all my gear) and and all of my gear off my harness and threw it into the chimney so I could squeeze my body into it. I made it all the way to pitch 10, sweet. This is where most people stop, the rock quality gets worse, and it puts people below you in danger if you climb it. 

I began rapping down the route, and on the third rap I thought I got a rope stuck. That is one of the most terrifying things ever.. i don't know what I would have done if it actually was stuck and I was all alone. I would have been alright, but it would be a while before anyone came up to get me off the rock. I used all of my body weight to pull on the rope and then it let loose. Then I missed one of the rap stations by about 60 feet. Sweet. I had to swing about 50 feet to my left to get to 2 pitons. I carefully anchored myself in, and then pulled my rope. I finally got back down to dinner ledge and was relieved. Only 3 more rappels to go. The next rappel I was almost sure that It would make it to the next anchor with one rope. it was about 2 feet too far. I had to flip upside down to be able to clip the haul bag into the anchor. I clipped my daisy chains in, and then could down climb the few feet. 2 more raps and I was so relieved to be on the ground again. I slowly and painfully hiked my heavy haul bag back to my car. When I got there I threw my bag on the ground and sat on it. Then something miraculous happened. A guy got out of his truck and said "hey, you look tired, want a cold beer?". That was awesome. I did it. 

Aid soloing is a ton of work. I did the amount of work that it would take to climb something double in length. It was a good learning experience though, every mistake I made was my fault, and I had to figure out how to fix it. Being able to accomplish something like this by myself was awesome. 

Fingers too buttery on butterballs

Chris and I wanted to head up head up to the cookie cliff and give a shot at butterballs (5.11c). To get to butterballs, you have to either climb chimneys up beverly's tower, or waverly wafer. We chose the chimneys instead because there was an off width section (where the crack widens and becomes more difficult) on waverly wafer that neither of us wanted to climb. Chris climbed the first chimney, and I climbed the second harder one. I wasn't graceful, but still got up it. I've got blood to prove it.

Then there was a 20 foot section of bolted face climbing to get to the base of butterballs. While I belayed chris up, it appeared to not look very difficult, 5.9 or 5.10. Chris got past the first bolt, and was stopped by one of the moves. I thought I'd give it a shot, it was much harder than it looked. I couldn't even make some of the friction moves. I had to pull on some of the bolts, and even doing that was very very hard. Both Chris and I climb harder sport than trad, but neither of us could send it.

We finally got to he belay at the base of butterballs. Two other guys came up a different route to also do the same climb. I had met one of the guys my first day in yosemite when he was going to pick up one of his ropes at the base of tangerine trip on el cap, who he climbed with Steve Schneider.

I got fifteen feet off the belay before my foot slipped and I fell. I fell about four more times before I made it to the anchor. This was my hardest trad lead yet, and was also my first time climbing a finger crack. I need to go back and send it!

Sorry I didn't get any pictures of the actual climb.. I brought the camera all the way up there, and forgot to use it.

Another rainy day.

It's rainy today. Colin drove in last night, and we had plans to go climb serenity crack and sons of yesterday. I woke up this morning to the sound of rain on our tent fly, bummer. Colin was still psyched to go climb though. We got there, and the route looked pretty dry. The third pitch of serenity crack was the 5.10d crux, before we got there I already knew that Colin was going to make me lead that. I cruised up the huge pin scars on the first pitch with not much protection, and then followed the second pitch. I think I was so nervous about the crux on the third, that it actually felt easier than the rest of the climb. It started raining while Colin finished the last pitch, so we rapped down before we got to climb sons of yesterday.

the first pitch

Me following the second pitch

The weather wasn't looking good for the rest of the day, so we went to go check out the alcove swing at the base of el capitan. Colin gave Chris and I a quick run through of how not to get stuck out in space after swinging. Chris got stuck, so we had to go grab a rope and pull him back in.

Dinner with Becca Skinner and Ron Kauk

My friend Becca just happened to be in yosemite at the same time as me. We keep trying to hang out back home, but it never ends up working out. It was great getting to hang out with her. Becca's friend Ann made us great food, and I got to eat next to Ron Kauk. He is a climbing legend known for his groundbreaking ascents in yosemite and climbed along with other climbing heroes like John Bachar.  It was so inspiring to listen to him because of how passionate he is about life. I also met Becca's friends Zach and Mark, hopefully I'll get to do a wall with them sometime soon.

Photo by Becca Skinner

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Week 1 in the valley.

Picture with my Mom right before I left.

Custom, bummer you can't sleep in your car in yosemite 

Lots of driving. 

Wow, I have already had such an incredible experience here. I think my body is finally getting used to sleeping on the ground, and my back doesn't hurt as much as it did earlier this week. Camping in camp 4 is sweet! I had a site with four strong climbers from new zealand. Yesterday one of them was one move away from freeing leaning tower (5.12d I don't remember which route..) and the other two went and climbed to pitch 16 on the nose and rapped down.

There are climbers from all over the world staying in camp 4. So far, I have met people from new zealand, germany, alaska, canada, israel, and all over the US. It's so awesome to be surrounded by people that are so psyched on climbing.

Thursday I went and climbed the 1100 foot east buttress of middle cathedral rock. We started right after a slow party of 3, so that was unfortunate. They were going to take a different variation after pitch 5, and it was a perfect chance to pass them. This is when the fun started. It was my turn to lead, and I was going to link the two 5.7 flaring squeeze chimney pitches. That was one of the hardest pitches I have every climbed in my life, it was terrible! It was honestly harder than any 5.12, I guess I'm just not used to that type of climbing. I was glad it was over, and then we quickly climbed the pitch after, and then ended right behind the slow party of 3 again.. bummer. I then figured out that I had talked to the three guys in the parking lot a few days before before. They were going to try and climb the nose with a party of 5 people, I wished them good luck....haha. Two bailed a few pitches up, and the other three bailed once they got up 10 pitches out of 31.

Thursday night, my friend Chris from boulder drove in. I gave him a little tour around the valley, and then made plans for climbing the next day. We went and climbed nutcracker on the manure pile. It's a long easy classic, we decided to climb the appealing 5.9 variation to start the climb. I let him lead the first pitch. Because of how much traffic it gets, the crack was super greasy and that made it very difficult to climb. We got stuck behind some more slow climbers, but we expected that.

I promise I'm happier than I look. Pitch 3 ledge on nutcracker.

You have to keep you food in a bear box at the base of the rock. When we went back to pick up our food that we had left there, there was a bag full of cooking supplies and other food with a note. BEST DAY EVER. So I got 4 eggs, a half a loaf of bread, paper towels, aluminum foil, 2 potatoes, sugar, and matches. 

After a quick stop at the mountain shop in curry village, we headed over to the cookie cliff. I was anxious to see how I would do on more difficult climbs here, and this was a perfect opportunity to test myself. I ate a magic sandwich (two slices of bread with nothing in the middle) and started leading up catchy (5.10d). I felt really good the whole way up, and caught the hold on the crux. Sweet, I just climbed a valley 10d onsight. Chris lowered me down, and I pulled all the gear. I handed the gear off to him, and he also got the onsight. Then we went over to climb outer limits (5.11a). So sick! Hand a fist jamming for 100 feet. We both got the onsight.

Chris at the base of catchy

I was really glad with how well I had done on these climbs. New to crack climbing, I wasn't really sure how hard I could crack climb. It's difficult climbing here for me.. dying on 5.7 chimney, very close to falling on a 5.9 on top rope, but also being able to lead much harder than those. I always conclude that all climbing is just plain difficult.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

My Summer, getting ready

I finished my last final last night, and moved out of my dorm room today. I'm going to be back home only long enough to move everything back into my parent's house, and pack up my summer house on wheels ('97 jeep cherokee). I feel that nervous excitement right now. It's similar to that feeling you get when you go on a first date, except ten times better. I'm going to spend my summer in yosemite.

I have never been camping for more than a week, and it's difficult to figure out how to pack everything I'll need for a two month trip. Trying not to bring everything I don't absolutely need, yet not bringing too little. I've got all of my climbing gear spread out across my living room floor (sorry Mom and Dad), and my clothes almost packed. All I need to do is make a quick stop at rei and wal mart tomorrow for a few necessary things, and I'll be ready to go.

It seems surreal in a way because I have spent so much time day dreaming about this trip, and now it's finally here. My first trip to yosemite on spring break only made made my excitement and distraction from school worse! It's going to be incredible.. waking up every day doing whatever I want.. unless I'm on a wall, then I will be 'forced' to climb.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

First night on a portaledge

So I decided that it would be a good idea to borrow Colin's portaledge and try it out for a night. A portaledge is basically a cot suspended by pieces of adjustable webbing. You use one of these on a multi day climb when there are no natural rock ledges to sleep on. When when I climbed el capitan there were tons of natural ledges so we didn't have to bring one of these up with us. I figured that I should find out how to set it up in my dorm room first instead of fiddling with it hanging off the side of a cliff.

So instead of going to party with my friends, I packed up my haul bag and drove up to castle rock in boulder canyon. It had been raining on and off that day, and of coarse, it was raining pretty hard when I got there. I almost turned back around, but since I had already driven all the way up there, I might as well do it. I would have liked to solo aid climb up country club crack, but since everything was wet, and the light was fading fast, I just decided to climb the easy approach up the backside to get to the top.

I rappelled down, jugged up, and hauled up the pig (haul bag) and portaledge. It took about an hour of trying to set everything up, leveling out the ledge, and getting the rain fly on. Finally I was ready to get inside of my bed in the sky.

Normally after a full day of wall climbing, you're so exhausted that it's not hard to sleep. Because I didn't do anything that day, and normally have trouble falling asleep. I didn't get as much rest as I had hoped. I never got the portaledge leveled out quite rite, so I kept sliding down towards my feet. Whatever, it was still cool to be sleeping up there. 

I woke up about 100 times throughout the night, and finally got woken up to two guys that were going to climb the crack that I was sleeping on top of. I didn't want to be in there way, so I quickly got all my stuff packed up, and was back on the ground. I met these two really cool guys Rob and Tommy. They were going to aid country club crack to get ready for climbing the nose. Sweet! I said, I did the same thing. I talked with them for a while about my experience with the nose, and gave them some beta, etc.. They will be in yosemite the same time I am, so hopefully I'll see them there.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

No class, going solo

I don't have classes thursday, and decided to go solo climbing in Eldorado Canyon. I got to wake up at 8:30, an hour later then my normal schedule, ate a quick breakfast, and I was ready for a beautiful day of climbing. I hopped on my fixed gear bike, and was on my way. For those of you that don't know what a fixed gear bike is, it's a bike with one gear that is constantly spinning and doesn't allow you to coast. There are no brakes, so you slow yourself down by creating resistance with your legs against the spinning pedals. It's around 7 miles from the CU campus to eldo.

I warmed up by soloing wind Ridge (5.8) on the wind tower. The temps were perfect, and I was feeling really solid. The whole time I was thinking about how much longer it takes to do the climb with ropes, even if you are leading quickly not placing much gear. People started gearing up for various climbs and I figured I should get out of there way. A party graciously let me climb up calypso (5.6) just before they were about to climb it. I'm going to have to disagree with those ratings... I definitely feel like wind ridge is much easier than calypso. I then down climbed half of tigger, and then down the rest of recon.

My ultimate goal of the day was to solo the bastille crack, an ultra classic 350 foot climb. I was going to see how I felt after soloing the previous routes, and let that determine if I was going to do it or not. I felt super solid, and was psyched. I made it through traversing from the flake into the greasy crack with ease, which was one of the parts that I have felt insecure the previous times I climbed the route. I was still a little nervous about the 3rd pitch where it gets steeper, this was the crux for me. I made the moves flawlessly and ran up the rest of the route.

That was so cool! I started up just before a party of two started climbing the same route, and by the time I had climbed the entire thing and got back to the base of the rock, they were still only half way up the first pitch.. And by the first pitch, I mean the anchor that nobody belays at 60 feet off the deck. I've only seen people link the first two pitches, which still is only 150 feet.

I was done with all the climbs I had planned on doing, and it only took me an hour.. taking my time. I then decided to ride my bike back up to chautauqua park and solo the direct route on the first flatiron. I have climbed the first flatiron 30 times so it wasn't any big deal. It's still awesome every time! Even though it's not as exciting as it used to be.

So, it totaled up to be 20 pitches by the guide book, including the down climbs, and 15 miles riding my bike. I got back to my dorm early afternoon, and had plenty of time for my passion other than climbing.. homework.