"Not all those who wander are lost"

Archive for December, 2011

Joyous Christmahanakwanzika and Happy New Year!

The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live.

-George Carlin

 

It’s that time of year again.  The time when the rocks are getting cold on the fingers and the days are so short that it barely warms up.  My trip came to an unpleasant end, but round two of the Red River Gorge and seeing friends from, both new and old, helped to make the last few days fun.  Now I’m a snowmaker at Sunday River.  The honeymoon phase wore off pretty quickly, but things will be getting better now that we can make snow more often instead of just hauling towers and hoses around the mountain.  Things got drastically better this week when I walked into The Big Adventure Center (a Bethel attraction with laser tag, party room, games, and most importantly a climbing wall).  Their wall is about what I expected: mostly top-roping, small, no routes set, few problems set, and overall sub-par.  Sounds like it’s a not good, but I just saw an opportunity and now I climb whenever I want, set whatever I want, and basically get free rein.  My future looks like climbing, snowboarding, and hiking up and down the mountain making snow.  That sums out my recent activities, if you have any suggestions for what I should do or where I should go after this spring (mar-apr) then let me know.

 

But the real reason I’m writing this isn’t just to fill you in on me, but to say thank you.  With as much time as I spent on the road mooching off everyone, it would have been impossible without generous people.  I couldn’t have done it with out you guys.  Thanks to everyone who helped me out on my trip, belayed me, got me a beer, gave me food, and shared  good times with me.  And special thanks to the people who made the continuation of my trip possible when things went wrong: Chis (& Jen) who put me up for over a week when I had my car fiasco, David who got my computer working again, Jack who saved my from sleeping in my car/tent when Flagstaff got almost a foot of snow,  Caitlin (& roommates) who were great to me in more ways than I can count when my life was stolen, and everyone I saw who gave me shoes (thanks Brett), jackets, climbing gear, and a brighter outlook on my return home.  This year I had well over 100 days of climbing, not bad since I didn’t do any for over 3 months when I tore my ankle and haven’t done much for the last two months.  I’ve met so many great people and made so many new friends this year.  I plan to keep it going in 2012, so if you’re in the mood for an adventure, want to climb, or just want to hang out when I go through let me know.  So far possibilities include, but are not limited to, Mexico, New Zealand, Hawaii, Turkey, South/Central America, Europe (not until warmer months), and Southeast Asia.

More climbing, more adventures, more friends, more fun!

 

 

 

(Obviously not my picture since I don’t have that stuff anymore, but my future trees will look similar)

 

(How do you think Santa gets to your house?)


Back in BC

If at first you don’t succeed, buy a new car and try to get to Squamish again!

-Me

 

Nothing helps me get posts out quick like finding one I wrote months ago.  It’s wordy, it’s not proof read, but if you care about that you shouldn’t be here anyway.

 

Friday morning (8/19) I was up early to head up to Squamish, aiming to make it all the way there without and car drama.  After a detour through downtown Vancouver that added well over an hour to my journey I was on BC-99 headed north again.  The scenic road hugged the mountains on the edge of Howe Sound, zigzagging with the coastline.  I made it to the parking lot at the Chief, the main cliff and center of Squamish climbing, by the middle of the day.  I repositioned my “Need Climbing Partners” sign into an obvious position in a back window and began to look around for people getting a late start to climb with.  Spotting a group of three I saw a perfect opportunity to even up the numbers and help everyone out.  They welcomed me to their group, but were bouldering so the even number was irrelevant.  It wasn’t going to be a day filled with classic Squamish cracks, but it was climb.  John, Igor, and I (the other friend, Tyler, headed off to hike since he was injured and could climb) bouldered around the base of the Chief for the rest of the afternoon, meeting up with a couple more of their friends, Josh and Amanda.  With five people and five crash pads we could pad any landing no matter how rocky and took full advantage of our opportunity on several climbs.  With such a lack of climbing in recent times I wasn’t able to finish anything special, but enjoyed getting back on rock.  I even managed to keep my fingertips from getting shredded the entire day.  Night began to fall and I headed off down a nearby forestry road to find a safe place to pull off.  The wide dirt road had over twenty cars in various small pull-offs in the short 2km of road, clearly this level of dirtbagging only happens at climbing destinations.

 

Saturday morning I was delayed by finding a public park with outlets scattered throughout (don’t know, but love sitting in the park and having computer power) and discovering a farmers market, before I made it back over to the Chief at 10am to meet Bill.  He had left a note on my car in response to my sign and climbing about the same grades.  We headed off to crag around the base of the Chief.  I received a good reminder of why I do, and always should, wear a helmet while belaying Bill on our second climb.  The guy climbing on the route we just made it through the most difficult section but hadn’t placed any gear for 15+ feet.  But once he got to the good holds where it eases up he started looking even shakier and as it went to move a hand higher slid off the rock.  He looked like a cartoon frozen in mid air as he stood with finger on the rock, feet still directly under him as he slid 30 feet down the rock, hitting a ledge near the bottom that flipped him upside down with his head 8 feet off the deck.  My first thought was that I needed to lower Bill and get this guy to a hospital.  Fortunately he started laughing as he hung upside down spread eagle, he wasn’t hurt, not even his fingers which rubbed down the rock or his head, which by all laws of physics looked like it should have smashed against the rock.  My helmet would stay firmly on my head in the future.  We continued cragging, doing many of the classic cracks, for the afternoon.  On my way back from the grocery store I drove past “Live at Squamish” to see what the music festival was all about.  Hearing Girl Talk playing I looked around for a way to sneak in but didn’t think there was much chance.  I almost tried to get someone to give me a ticket as they were leaving since I wasn’t about to pay $110, but decided it wasn’t worth it…later I regretted not trying.

 (Arrowroot [R] and Rutabaga)

(Exasperator)

Sunday bill and I headed off to do Wiretap, a new and supposedly great five pitch 5.10 crack.  On the way up the path to our climb I saw a guy coming down and noticed that he was skinny and jacked, then I noticed it was Alex Honnold.  I guess it wouldn’t be so hard to pull yourself up thousands feet of free soloing if you’re 150lbs, 0% body fat, and ripped.  We found our climb at the top of a pile of dirt, roots, trees, and organic debris: the usual signs of a newly cleaned route at Squamish.  I started off and lead up through the first section of “10a” which turned out to be a bit easy and continued the second short pitch to a belay perched 5 feet up on a stump.  It was the most memorable spot I have ever belayed as I looked out across Howe Sound and the surrounding mountains.  Bill lead the next pitch and linked it with the following one.  When I reached him at the top I saw our “fifth” and final pitch: a very easy, well bolted, short slab.  Most people wouldn’t have even bothered to bolt it.  All the reviews raved that Wiretap was a new classic, but the only thing I thought was classic on it was the belay.  A disappointed by the “five pitch” climb (which we did in two, plus one easy, barely-worth-it last pitch) we headed to Shannon Falls (a huge…tree…just kidding, it’s a waterfall, obviously) to check out a couple classic climbs.  These turned out to be exactly what they promised: a long pitch of perfect splitter crack.  We finished up the two climbs and headed to Skywalker, long five pitch climb notorious for an awkward airy, but easy, 50 foot exposed traverse.  An out of shape guy huffed and puffed as he struggled to make moves 10 feet off the ground.  We knew we would be able to get down before dark, but less confident in the parties ahead we decided not to bother.

 

I awoke in the night to the sound of rain pounding the roof of my car.  The two windows I left down to vent moist air had begun letting in the rain and soaking the foot of my sleepingbag.  I hurriedly crawled up to the front seat and closed the windows before drifting back to sleep.  A few hours later I woke up again.  A steady drip, drip, drip hit me in the forehead.  Somehow my car was leaking in the back hatch and dripping out directly onto me.  I sleepily tried to ignore it, but when the water persisted I dragged myself back to consciousness enough to tape a hummus container under the trip.  When I finally woke up for real it was clear that no climbing would be happening so I spent the day sitting in Starbucks using their internet, swimming and hot tubbing at the local rec center, and finished out at the library until they closed.

 

Monday night proved just as rainy as the previous, but Tuesday morning brought some sun and the slow process of drying the rock.  After waiting until noon Bill and I couldn’t take it and headed off to try to find dry climbing.  Our first attempt was the Murin Pond area.  We got up to the crags and found very little climbing that looked good or was dry but ended up doing a good, but short, 5.9.  After finishing I put a top-rope on a cool looking 11c, but on two attempts couldn’t finish the route.  Hoping for more luck we headed to the Smoke Bluffs.  Our first stop was a letdown, finding two groups waiting on the route we wanted, so we continued on.  From that the day got better as we did several good routes.  The first was a tricky 10(b or c) with poor gear that required me to do a tough, balance move risking a big swing.  Next we got on a tricky 11a finger crack in a corner.  After a couple tries, Bill made it through and I followed.  Once I had figured out the moves I did it again and managed my first trad redpoint.  Excited about the lead I was contented so finishing off the day with three more great routes was icing on the cake.  After such a late start I was happy to have done my hardest trad lead and done 10 pitches of climbing, finishing by headlamp on a wet crack.

 

Wednesday, Bill was stoked to get on the Split pillar.  It’s one of the most highly rated pitches in Squamish, starting 5 pitches up the chief on one of the few lines that leads to the summit.  We started late, allowing more drying time and then ended up starting even later because we realized at the base of the cliff we needed two ropes to rappel off (even though I had hopes of making it through the tough 11a pitches above to make it to the summit), not a great start.  I won rock-paper-scissors so Bill headed back to grab the tag line.  Once we had ourselves organized I started up the chosen route.  I quickly gained a sopping wet, slimy chimney and wedged my body against the sides, wiggling my way up through it with no regards for the black and green slime now covering me.  Thinking I had made it through the hardest, wettest part of the route I pushed on.  To my dismay I found the next section just as wet and significantly more difficult than the chimney.  I worked my way up using fist jams in a shallow and wet crack until the crack was only inches deep and I was forced to lay-back it.  Some combination of wet feet, wet crack, and hard moves finally got the better of me and my hands slipped off sending me backwards away from the crack.  I narrowly avoided a small pillar before the rope caught me.  Frustrated and annoyed with the bad route decision I continued up the route with similar results, occasionally having to pull on gear where the rock was especially wet.  At one point I was jamming in another section of wet crack, with my feet wedged in the crack a meter above my last piece of gear.  My hands slipped out of the crack, but instead of falling I just sat there, slowly tipping away from the rock because my feet were so securely wedged in that I was going to pivot all the way up-side down before they either broke or finally came loose dropping me on my head.  I reached a 45 degree tilt away from the rock before I managed to pull myself back to the rock, basically doing a sit-up from my wedged feet.  This route was really getting annoying, and it continued that way until I finally reached the end of the pitch.  Bill didn’t fare any better on the wet crack but eventually made it through.  For the second pitch we traversed onto another route that had a classic pitch instead of the fourth class scramble above our first pitch.  Finally, it was good climbing through a tricky finger crack and ensuing good hand crack.  At the end of the second pitch was a good ledge and we relaxed for a minute, looking up at what was next.  It was the beginning of a climb called “Mercy Me” and despite, or maybe because of, the soft 5.7 rating it only had 3 bolts in the 40m pitch and no possibility for gear.  Bill successfully led the pitch, avoiding any long fall onto the ledge and I followed in suit.  The next pitch wasn’t much better.  I lead up 25m through only two bolts before the route traversed right across a difficult slab, protected by only one more bolt which promised a huge swing if a foot slipped on one of the tiny sloped edges.  Unnerved by the moves I focused on breathing and trying to avoid getting any water (several water streaks crossed my path) on my shoes and thereby increasing my chance of a foot slipping off.  In, out, in, out.  I reached my right foot as far as I could to the right, carefully placing it on the rounded edge.  In, out, in, out.  I reached out with my right hand, crimping on an edge no thicker than a nickel.  Shifting my weight across I brought my left foot over to meet my right.  After several more moves I reached a large flake, at last something to hold.  At the top of the flake I reached the crux of the pitch: a 5.9 slab section.  Only it was, once again, dripping with water and covered in slime.  As I did the move across without touching the water I realized how ridiculous I must look standing on my right foot on a small edge, left foot extended straight out to the left to push on the flake, right hand straight out right to a small crimp, left hand waving straight above me to balance.  Of course, all of this was about a thousand feet up on a granite wall overlooking the highway and the entire city of Squamish.  My human “+” worked out and I made it across to the anchors.  One more traversing pitch brought us to the split pillar.  Just after Bill started up it another part arrived behind us, but he was already climbing so it was too late to let them pass.  Bill managed the moves through the widening crack from the small layback section and then hand jams, but had trouble with the fist and wider section.  After several attempts he ended up aiding up through it, pulling on cams where he couldn’t hold on.  Finally it was my turn.  With as much info as I could gain from the Californian who was waiting to do the pitch I headed off.  I started off laybacking until I could get a good hand jam into the crack, but as I did I realized how nice it would have been to have taped my hands to give a layer between the soft skin on the back of my hands and the abrasive granite.  Too late now.  The crack widened more and I struggled more.  Eventually my hands slipped and I sailed back through the air until the rope caught me.  Exhausted I rested a second before attacking the rock again, this time making it up, and wedging myself in the chimney above, wriggling until I reached Bill at the anchors.  Within a minute of my arrived at the top the Californian popped up from the chimney.  He had belayed his partner up to the bottom as I started, and then waiting until I had entered the chimney started, and made it up just after me, placing only one cam on the entire 100 feet of the pitch.  Awed by him we gathered our ropes and rappelled off, thoroughly thrashed from our day of climbing.

 (The Flake on the left and the Split Pillar high next to the tree just right of center)

 

After a rest day I was back looking for action Friday.  Bill had already left so I wandered the campground and parking lots until I eventually found someone looking to climb.  Drew was interested in doing St. Vitus, a multipitch 5.9 crack on the apron so it was just what I was looking for.  We racked up and headed off.  The route started with some moderate climbing, pulling on tree routes, easy cracks, and lots of dirt.  I began to wonder how the route would really be.  Instead of the regular second pitch we decided to do the “St. Vitus Extra” pitch of 10a finger crack.  I started to lead and noticed that this crack wasn’t very dry either.  I placed some fairly sketchy nuts and cams in the tiny crack where it widened enough to fit anything in.  I continued as the angle became more vertical, the finger slots became smaller and farther apart, and the crack became wetter.  I made it to the top of the crack, hanging by the two smallest fingers on my right hand and smearing my feet against granite.  Unsure I would make my next move I desperately stuffed a small link-cam into the crack hoping against the odds it would hold if I fell.  I made the big reach out to the left to what I hoped was a good hold, only to find it was a sloped puddle.  Never the less, I grabbed, pulled, and managed to make it up and finish the last few moves.  The next two pitches yielded excellent cracks that thankfully were dry.  Switching leads we made it to the top where it became easy slab climbing.  To be safe we belayed up the slab (although only one piece of gear was used on the “pitch” and I did it barefoot).  Instead of taking the 4th class gully to walk off we added “Karen’s Math” which turned out to be a great layback flake up to an awkward and unprotected traverse.  The whole pitch took less time than it took me to get out a hex that got wedged into a tight slot.  Overall the most tiring part of the entire climb were feeding out slack on the easy slab and hanging from my hand jam to get out the hex.  We hiked down the 4th class scramble to the bottom of the crag barefoot and made our way back to the parking lot.

 

Saturday I found another person, Derek, to climb with and headed off to do Birds of Prey (5.10b).  I drove back and parked where I had spent the night and we headed up to the cliff.  To our chagrin we found two parties ahead of us on the climb and debated doing another climb but decided to wait instead.  Derek headed up the first easy pitch planning to go all the way to the top of the second pitch since we had my 70m rope.  He maxed out the rope and still wasn’t quite at the anchors so we began to simul-climb, neither of us belaying each other but connected to the rock through the pieces he had placed.  After 50ft he made it to the anchors and put me on belay for the rest of the pitch.  The next pitch was the most difficult, a dihedral with a crack that widened from small finger-locks to fist jams.  I struggled, grunted, cursed a bit, and managed to make my way to the top of it.  The pitch wasn’t quite over though.  Next I had to traverse left with no protection and make my way up some more easy cracks to the anchor.  The easy climbing seemed drastically harder when faced with the potential 20+ft swing into the dihedral I just climbed.  A short belayed scramble led to a vertical and at times slightly overhanging broken crack system.  It turned out to be quite the adventurous pitch, requiring bear-hugging a ridge of rock and lots of other indescribably awkward moves.  It seemed to be the standard trend, but once again I had completed a 5 pitch route in 3 pitches, some simul-climbing, and one short scramble.  I descended barefoot to the car with Derek and we went our own ways.

 

Sunday I woke up early to run up the Chief without having crowds of tourists destroying the serenity.  It was a great workout and I reached the top right at sunrise.  I sat on the bald top of the mountain overlooking Squamish and Howe Sound enjoying the morning before heading back down.  Tourists looked on with confusion and awe when they saw me running near full tilt down the steep trail.  The combination of so much crack climbing and running destroyed my toe.  Too sensitive to want to shove it in anymore cracks I decided to head out bouldering.  For the first few hours I hung out with some people who I had chatted with several times while in the parking lot, but eventually they went to work on their V7 to V10 projects so I decided it was a good time for me to split.  I wandered around working on various problems and generally got shut down by everything.  With raw fingers that didn’t want to touch any more rock I called it quits and began the drive back to the states.


Peeps in Portland & Catastrophe in Canada

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

-MLK

 

I made it to Boise before the rays of sun had dropped to find that Aunt Sue out.  I slipped in and looked around, spotting a few familiar pictures, and relaxed until Sue arrived.  We spent the evening catching up on the last 15 or so years in which we hadn’t seen each other.  Thursday (8/4) I relaxed it Boise and got a bit of a tour around town.  Shortly after getting back there was a light knock on the door.  The sub three foot guest was Mia, Sue’s grand-kid (what do you call your aunts grand-kid?).  Along with her older brother, Kai, I spent the rest of the afternoon playing soccer, basketball, and anything else the endless energy sources could think of.

 

Friday I continued west, but after ten minutes Sue called me to say that I had forgot all of my laundry in the dryer.  Forty minutes later I headed out again.  The drive was unspectacular, but fairly nice passing along the Columbia river and seeing the hundreds of people kitesurfing.  After a few missed turns I made it to my destination:  a house owned by my friend Nicks Uncle, James, which was currently was holding the four roommates, Nick and Chelsea in a sun room, and a tent for each Andy, Gary, and another cyclist they had met on the road.  I added my tent to the yard and joined in festivities, catching up, and the usual.

 

We slept until late morning before eventually rousing to head to the farmers market.  Nick, Chelsea, and I got our bikes and rode into town.  It turned out that this particular Saturday was not only a farmer’s market but also a Porche convention and some Iraq volunteer reunion.  Throngs of people crowded the streets inspecting and indulging in the treats, fruits, and fresh brewed coffee (brewed on the back of a custom tricycle that doubles as a coffee cart).  After loading up on food we headed back to the house.  We stopped at the ‘Not So’ Safeway on the way back (as I recall someone was shot there and it’s one of the easiest places to find a gun) to get a few more things before returning to the house.  Fresh pies from berries at the farmers market, floating in the knee deep pool, and hanging out took up the rest of the afternoon.  Needless to say, it was a stressful and difficult day.

 

Sunday the hardships continued when we went to the famous Voodoo Donuts for breakfast.  We continued our standard hooliganism biking around Portland, napping in a park, and eating lunch (& a bit more of course) at the Hopworks.  Eventually we decided that a movie at a local theater would be a good idea.  Not because we especially wanted to watch any of the movies, but the movie was cheap and novelty of have a couple beers in the theater was irresistible.  X-men First Class was marginal, but it was fun.  After the movie we headed back toward the house and ended up making it back over 12 hours after we left.

 

In the morning everyone devoted themselves to packing the bikes into bike boxes, mailing excess items, and getting ready to leave.  Already having nearly all my stuff packed into my car I alternated between helping them pack and laughing at them trying to fit all of their stuff into a bursting bike box.  I helped drive them to the airport and then headed out in the morning bound for Squamish.

 

Woe.  Misfortune.  Disaster!  CATASTROPHE!  I made it into Canada, just south of Vancouver when my car began overheating and died on the side of the highway.  An hour of letting it cool and limping it off the highway brought me to a mechanics where it was quickly diagnosed as a blown head gasket when fluids erupted out of the radiator when I tried to start it.  His estimate was 1 week and $1000.  I saw my trip crashing down around me, but I wasn’t ready to end it yet.  I spent every waking minute for the rest of the day and the next sitting in Starbucks across the street scouring the internet for a new car and riding my bike over 50 mi in every which way to look at them.  I found one that I was ready to buy, but soon found out that it’s not so simple to import cars from Canada, especially if they have a metric-only gauge cluster.  I canned the idea of a Canadian car and decided it was time to backtrack to the US and see what I could do.  Luckily for me, my friend Chris from RIT was now working for Boeing just north of Seattle.  Even luckier is that he’s very nice and said he could come help me, but there was still one problem; he doesn’t have a passport.  Eventually we came up with the plan:  he would drive up to the boarder where I would ride down to meet him (~30mi), get his car, then go back up to my car, get all my stuff, and pick him up along the way back to Seattle.  Before this happened I decided, out of one last shred of hope and desperation, to try to start my car.  If I couldn’t get it to the US my situation would be much easier.  It turned out to be even better.  I managed to drive my car all the way back to Chris’ place and Thursday (8/11) I was happier to be back in the US than I ever had been before.  I spent the next four nights at Chris’ while I scrambled to find a new car, which turned out to be much easier in the US.  When I wasn’t stalking craigslist I managed to explore the city a little, watch a free big screen showing of Inception, and cruised around on my bike.  The new difficulty came in selling my car in Washington since it didn’t have a title (not required in Maine for that year).  I bought a 92 Honda Accord wagon and the only thing left to do to sell the civic was wait for the signed paperwork in the mail (since it had been in my dad’s name).  Finally, I was able to get away and I headed to Index Town Wall, a climbing spot about an hour away.

 

I found some other climbers hanging around a fire and joined.  I found out they all had partners and plans for climbing the next day.  I went back to my new car and slept lying in the back.  Morning came and I still had no partner, but while making my usual oatmeal for breakfast next to my car a guy rode by.  It turned out he was looking for partners too.  Brad and I walked the couple hundred yards over the railroad tracks and began to climb.  I was already rusty, but didn’t hesitate to warm up by leading the first pitch of Japanese Gardens (5.10b trad) then TR both pitches (stiff 11c) together.  From there the day continued, climbing mostly routes that were sandbagged 5.12 including the two classics Numba Ten and Fifth Force.  Fifth force was a spectacular climb that combined every kind of move into a continuous difficult climb.  Numba Ten was a different story.  It was brutally difficult moves using primarily friction in a small dihedral which included a section of double knee-bars (picture someone sitting in a chair…now picture that person in the same position, only horizontal, 40ft up, being held by nothing but the opposing force between feet and knees).  I didn’t do much sending, but it felt great to be back on the rocks again.  I spent another night in my car hoping to climb in the morning.  In the morning I began packing up my gear when I realized that I was missing 5 trad draws.  Uncertain where it could be I found Brad’s van down the road, but he hadn’t seen them either.  I ran back up to the crag and found them hidden in the grass near Numba Ten.  Relieved to find my five missing draws I headed back to my car (quite ironic I see now, but for those who don’t know the story you’ll have to wait until I get to the AZ portion of my treck).

 

I headed back to Chris’ place, received the paperwork for my car, and was finally able to sell it.  By then it was too late to bother leaving so I hung out for one final night.  We watched the movie Frozen, about three kids who got stuck on a chair lift at a ski resort.  It was bad, so horrible that it was hilarious.  I learned that jumping off a lift from about 20 feet will result in 6in of bone sticking out your shins and that large packs of wolves like to frequent resorts, eating all people who happen to be there.  I went to bed with dreams of continuing my trip in the morning…Squamish here I come!


Wyoming

We all got pieces of crazy in us, some bigger pieces than others.

-Unknown

 

Some people say no excuses, I say I have plenty.  A blown head gasket, a Fulbright application, a non-working computer, stolen car, and lost ambition have all had dreadful impact on my writing.  All of those stories and many more will be unveiled in due time (hopefully a lot less due time than it has taken to get this one up) presuming I choose to continue writing and don’t forsake the internet for the slopes every waking minute this winter.  The lack of a computer was liberating and made me question why I bother to write so I want to ask:  is there anyone out there who actually cares about, enjoys, or actually reads this blog?  If you do, send me an email or leave me a comment and let me know that this isn’t all futile.  If I don’t hear anything, well, I do have an unlimited season pass at 3 mountains…

 

For now, I give you: Wyoming! (Well, if I really had it to give, I would probably keep it.  Sorry, it’s awesome and I’m selfish, but you could use it whenever you want)

 

After not getting to sleep until after 2am, Corey and I were up at 5am Thursday (7/28) morning to head to Vedauwoo.  We picked up a friend of his and made our way through the desolate grass plains that stretch north from Fort Collins into Wyoming.  Driving through endless flats I wondered where and when this renowned climbing location was going to appear.  After a couple hours in the car small rocks and boulders began jutting up through the grass giving hope that we were closing in on climbing.  Our first climb of the day was the classic 5.7, Edwards Crack.  The friend started off leading, but half way up the long pitch he said he wasn’t feeling well and built an anchor.  I cruised up to him, but before I could lower him down he began retching next to the crack, leaving a purple and blue pile.  He conjectured it was from the wild berries he ate on the way up, but we had all had some.  When he had finished I lowered him back to the bottom.  I finished leading the climb with Corey following.  We took it easy for the day, only doing a couple more moderate climbs, even though one was an offwidth.  When we decided to move to another area we got separated and I ended up running around for what felt like an hour looking for them.  Eventually we met back up and headed back to CO.  Back in town we hung out for a bit before heading to a late movie.  Corey knew the manager so got in, got popcorn and sodas all for free.  It was pretty sweet to just walk in and drop a name and get whatever you want.

 

(Edwards Crack)

 

 

Friday I headed to Boulder, picked up my shoes then drove for the entire day heading to Ten Sleep.  When I called it a night I was somewhere in the middle of Wyoming miles from anyone or anything so I pulled off a ranch road and slept under the stars.

 

 

Saturday (7/30) I made it to Ten Sleep in the morning.  After aimlessly driving around for a while I found someone who was just leaving who gave me the quick rundown on the free camping and where people go.  I cruised down the road, set up camp, and looked for partners but of the hand full of tents and cars scattered down the road not one of them showed signs of life.  With no partner and no idea where to climb I was relegated to slacklining and relaxing in my hammock for the day.  When swarms of mosquitos came out I began the battle that would last until I left Ten Sleep.  Making fire, standing in smoke, and bug spray all failed so I ended up sitting in my car to eat dinner.

 

 

I was up in the morning and finally went climbing with two Canadians I met the night before.  We headed up hill through cow pasture to The Ark.  With only a few detours on our hike we reached the climbing.  The rock was great, the routes were hard, and I discovered that I take such long breaks in sport climbing if I want to keep up my strength.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday I had decided I need to get to Jackson to do a couple days in the Tetons before I blaze through to Portland to meet up with three friends from RIT who were cycling cross country.  My morning attempt to find partners came up fruitless after a bike ride all the way down and back up the hill.  I had read a bit of the guide book and decided to do some rope soloing.  In the end I didn’t quite do what I hoped because I couldn’t find the area, but I did a bit of climbing by the river and headed off to Jackson.  I got there only to find that I had to kill a couple hours until my Scott (a friend I met in Yosemite last year) got out of work.  After wasting as much time as I could I ended up finding a parking lot and sleeping until he called.

 

 

 

 

 

 

He worked Tuesday so I was partnerless again.  The Tetons were tempting, but alone and with afternoon thunderstorms predicted I decided to head to a local crag to rope solo instead.  The Hoback Shield turned out to be a bit disappointing, but I got some pitches in and entertained myself.

 

 

Wednesday (8/3) Scott had some time so we did some cragging at another local spot.  It was far from a destination, but had some fun climbing and a spectacular view of the Grand Teton across from us.  We got in a decent amount of climbing before it was time to keep moving.  Again I got in my car and continued westward.  This time my destination was Boise and the household comforts I had not seen in months provided by my Aunt Sue.