"Not all those who wander are lost"

Archive for November, 2012

Fun & Sun in Colorado

Nothing remains as it was.  If you know this, you can begin again, with pure joy in the uprooting.

-Judith Minty

 

I headed to St. Louis meet up with my friend Conor and hang out for the 4th of July.  We headed into town and watched a spectacular show that finished off with a crescendo of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture with the finale.

It was great to catch up with a good friend, but after a nice long 14 hours in St. Louis and I was back in the car for the long haul to Colorado.  After 16 hours of driving I made it to Boulder, only to sit in a parking lot unable to get a hold of either of my friends I’d been talking to in the days leading up to my arrival.  After my standard dinner in a parking lot routine I got a hold of both Nick and Aaron and even got a futon to crash on at Aarons.

On Friday, Aaron and I managed to squeeze in a quick jaunt up The Young and the Rackless in Boulder canyon before the festivities started for his birthday.  I headed over to hang out with Nick and ended up making myself a computer case out of old wetsuit scraps at Green Guru.  I made it back to Aarons in time for dinner and celebrating before we headed out on the town for a fun night of dancing.

The plan to head out to Rifle in the morning was slow coming to fruition so by the time we left there was little chance to do any climbing.  Instead we stopped in Glenwood springs and hung out in a hot spring on the bank of the Colorado River.

I discovered that of the 7 people in our group, most of them were not experienced climbers and most weren’t quite as psyched as me to spend every possible minute on the rock.  Luckily Justin was pretty stoked too so in the morning we headed out to start climbing by the time everyone else was eating breakfast.

It was an interesting day of climbing considering we were in Rifle and had several people who hadn’t done much leading or outdoor climbing.  It’s not exactly the most beginner friendly climbing area, especially with the on and off rain we got all day.  In the end there was a good deal of rope-gunning 10s, but everyone had a good time.

I spent the next couple days hanging out with Nick and Aaron, helping replace spark plugs, and doing some climbing with Aaron and his friend Joyce in Boulder canyon.  Being the true gentlemen we are, Aaron and I decided to hang draws on a 5.8+ then make Joyce lead it for her first lead climb.  She went for it, didn’t flinch at the run-outs, even committed to the last move, took whips like a champ, and powered through until she got the move and clipped the chains.  The learning curve can be steep when training wheels aren’t allowed, but she handled it like a boss.

I spent a day at the Denver Zoo catching up with my friend Arthur who I met back in Moab when we guided on the Colorado.  He has spent the last couple years riding in ambulances around Denver saving lives and, after a trip to Nicaragua with Project C.U.R.E., was planning on heading to the east coast to join Virgnia Task Force 1, a prestigious  domestic and international relief task force.  Basically he’s the guy who makes you feel bad for doing what you enjoy rather than saving the world because he likes to do both…and is good at it all.  Baller.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soon it was time to continue on my way and leave Boulder behind.  I headed up to Cheyenne to hang out with a couple friends, Corey and Justine.  Corey and I spent one day sport climbing at some obscure back crag of Vedauwoo, beer was brewed, homebrew was consumed, and free range disk golf was played.  It was so much fun catching up with so many great friends, but it was time to move on and get more climbing in my life.


Alpine Dreams

Cerro Torre

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.

-Henry David Thoreau

 

If you’ve climbed with me in the past year you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been avoiding crack climbing like it’s the plague.  I’ve always wanted to do some epic ascents, but over the last year my ambitions have strayed away from climbing cracks.  After climbing in Squamish and Yosemite last year I could barely walk for a week because my ankles hurt so much and my mini-epic on the Rostrum was the last straw.  Since that day, I’ve done everything I can to avoid crack climbing.

Now, my thoughts have been pulled back to the epic climbs; the long alpine ascents that people notice.  In short, I’ve spent a year getting stronger and becoming a better climber, but now I want to take those skills into the alpine realm.  I don’t expect to just jump into it and have success.  I should prepare, spend some time climbing crack other places, and hone my skills.

I want to alpine climb so bad that I keep dreaming of Patagonia.  When I say dreaming, I don’t mean just day dreaming about some amazing new line up Fitz Roy or Cerro Torre, although I do plenty of that too, I mean when go to sleep at night I’m really there for a few hours until I wake up.

In my most recent dream I had managed to exchange my flight from Athens to New York, the one I really have to go home for the holidays, with a flight from Athens to Patagonia.  I was even psyched that it didn’t cost extra.  I arrived, got the bus into El Chaltén, found place to stay, and even started finding climbing partners before I woke up.

I’m sure that all of the details of El Chaltén were completely inaccurate; I’ve never been there.  The eerily realistic parts were my spontaneity and drive to complete this dream.  For this trip to Kalymnos alone, the opportunity arose one evening, I booked my ticket the next, and got on a plane the third day.  After this trip, changing my ticket home seemed pretty realistic.

Waking up from that dream was a bit sad.  Realizing that I wasn’t there, that I might not be there any time soon, and the possibility that I never make it there was a downer, even though I’m in Kalymnos, one of the most amazing places in the world.

To top it all off, I have talked to several friends about going to Patagonia this week.  It’s a possibility this season.  Now I have a constant internal debate: do I try to scrape together enough money to make it there this year and just throw myself into it all or do I wait, train, get a job, and hopefully make it there next year, but risk a turn in my life that stops me.

I’m ready for cold nights and bad weather.  I’m ready for gobies, blood, and sore ankles.  I’m ready to suffer.  I want to be an alpine climber!


Chasing the Dream

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You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

-Wayne Gretzky

 

I made this video as part of an application to become a gear tester.  It’s not the highest quality, but it’s what I came up with in a few hours so I could make the deadline…which I then found out was extended.  Either way, it was entertaining to make.

 

 


On The Road Again

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I love both the idea of home as in being with my family and friends, and also the idea of exploration.

-Yo Yo Ma

 

Once the car was packed I headed straight for the New River Gorge.  I had a friend there already so I jumped in and started climbing.  The only problem was the weather wasn’t much better than Maine.  We got rain for most of my first three days.  Despite the potential for climbing in the rain ambition was rock bottom.

Soon they left I was scrambling for partners.  I surfed around the campgrounds, but without Roger’s, the recently closed climber campground and meeting spot, I was just grasping at straws.  I met three other guys, Matt, Tom, and Chris, at Cantrel’s and climbed with them for a couple days.  They had come from Colorado for the summer and as far as they could tell were the only long term dirtbags around.

After a couple days they headed for the Red and I headed up to Morgantown to pick up my new computer.  I spent a couple days hanging out and a day bouldering at Cooper’s Rock, but soon it was itching to rope up again.

The plan was to head back to the New, but with partners so difficult to find and weather so bad I decided it wasn’t worth it.  I didn’t get a chance to get on my projects from the year before or even do much of anything in my four days of climbing.  The amazing place that I loved the summer before was all thanks to the people and without them it just wasn’t the same.

I headed for the Red with hopes that it would be better than the New.  I met up with Matt, Tom, and Chris again and had a few good days of climbing at Fantasia and Drive-By.  After a month of not climbing the endurance needed for success at the Red was nowhere to be found, but I managed to have a great time taking whips when I got so pumped I couldn’t hang on.

I managed to tick the notoriously soft ‘Wild, Yet Tasty’ (5.12a) but only put serious effort into one route at the Red, ‘Hippocrite.’  I met up with my friend Mark and we decided to try it.  It’s not a truly hard rig; I could pull all the moves without taking much time to figure them out.  It’s basically some moves down low that get you pumped before you get to a long, powerful move off two underclings.  That turned out to be the show stopper for me.  Four tries and I was just too worked to do much climbing of any type, let alone sending.

That weekend the heat peaked at 106ºF and I would guess around 70-80% humidity.  It was time to leave.  Not before I got another crack at ‘Hippocrite’ though. I managed to convince Simon, another guy I met at Miguel’s, to head up to belay me before I hit the road.  I ate half my breakfast as I drove to The Zoo and by 8:30 was pulling on my shoes.  My two attempts fell short, still unable to pull the long move on point.  We headed back to Miguel’s where I dropped off Simon then pulled onto the highway to head west.