Monday, November 30, 2009

Rib Recap

A cozy little crag pup.

So we thought it'd be a little chilly last Friday. We knew that it was only gonna be around a high of 40, at best, up at Rib. We thought, "We'll be fine...We're tough...ish.".

Wrong. It was f-ing freezing!!!

As we drove up the road going to the parking lot we actually had to drive through two patches of man made snow from the ski area just over the hill. Very entertaining.

After a small run in with the Property Manager we eventually made it into the park and Aaron gave us a mini tour of the main areas. We were gonna try and stay in the sun as much as possible due to the chilly conditions. The high for the day ended up being a balmy 35 degrees.

We warmed up a bit on some really cool moderates that I forgot the names of while Katie and Sara pulled the pads over to No Reservations and some mantle problem just around the corner.

Aaron being awesome.

After a couple of laps on a really nice juggy arete thing Aaron stuck me on a nice eliminate that took off all of the aforementioned jugs and put me at maximum reach.

Close, but not quite there.

I failed to do the problem in a few tries and lost all possible interest. I went around the corner and watched as the group threw themselves at No Reservations. Katie tried it a few times and Aaron followed suit trying to repeat it. Soon after both Josh and Chris started trying. I got my shoes out as Josh taped his right index finger for the crux crimp. After one go he tore through the tape.

Chris had been trying it as well and he confirmed that it was indeed THAT finger and I promptly took my shoes off and stopped obsessively chalking up. I've got bigger goals in mind.

After about a half hour everyone gave up on No Reservations and we moved pads over to the Raptor. I re-warmed up so that I could have a good flash attempt on it. The first move was easy but really painful but I didn't see the key heel toe beta and fell getting my right hand up into the undercling. Oh well. I tried it a couple more times before taking my shoes off. I'd gotten really close, maybe a half inch from the bottom of the only hold on the face but couldn't quite reach it.

I gave Chris a bit of a rundown on the beta hoping that he'd flash it. In the end he did it second go in a really impressive effort. It seemed that the problem was made specifically for him! It was sick to see and I'm glad he did it.

Chris repeating the line for the camera.  Photo: Aaron K.

Sticking the good hold up high.  Photo: Aaron K.

I stepped up after taking a short break and gave it another round of attempts. Sadly the day was only getting colder and I was losing feeling in my heels and it was coming and going from my fingers. I had one really close go where I actually went past the hold and jammed all four of my fingers on the back of the face.

Fingers still throbbing, I gave it one more go. As I came out of the hand jam and into the undercling I could feel two of my calluses rip off. I sucked it up, relaxed and threw for the hold...

Photographic evidence that I had my hand on the hold.


I ended up walking away empty handed and down two calluses on my right ring finger. While the problem is cool enough to make a return trip the pain factor makes it a little less cool. Seth's Sacrifice on the other hand looks really cool and the project left of the Raptor looks pretty fun too. We will return in the spring!

Aaron stepped up to the plate in my absence and repeated the Raptor as well. Here are a couple shots of him playing around.

We messed around on the backside and looked at Seth's Sacrifice. It's too bad it was frozen. Icicles don't make the best footholds. I'm looking forward to making a return trip in the spring as the area definitely deserves a couple more trips. Not a ton of problems but what's there is fun and super concentrated.

Here are some more pics from the day.

Josh came absurdly close to repeating it as well.  I woulda been the lone duck if it weren't for his failure.  Thanks for the company Josh.

Chris not being able to hold back his love for Aaron's rear any longer.

He just can't take his eyes off of it can he?!?

A very cold wife.

Katie on the Mantle Problem.

About a half second before her foot popped and Chris caught her out of mid air.

Me at my absolute best.  Click to see how hot I am in this pic.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


A quick post to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving.

Katie and I are hoping to meet up with Chris, Sarah and Aaron at Rib Mountain on Friday. The weather looks to be a perfect 41 and sunny up there. I just hope it doesn't snow too much the day before!

Seth's Sacrifice and the Raptor are high on my list and hopefully I'll do one or both of them! Excited to see the place after 3-4 years of telling Seth that I'd go up there.

Should be good!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Keymaker, Uno

We've been blessed this season with a pretty good spell of nice November weather. This past Saturday was no exception. Although it was a bit humid for this time of year, conditions were very good!

We got up to the lake around 11:30 or so and went to Beautiful Soup. Sweaty and I had been texting all morning and were planning on meeting there to climb for a bit. They were already up at Moj and Jenga but were gonna come down after that. Sadly it wasn't in the cards as we left a mere 10 minutes before they showed their faces at Alpine Club.

Congrats go out to Sweaty for finishing up Alpine Club! Sick work! He figured out different beta for it and used the right hand bump method to get the good crimp. Nicely done!

Anyways, back to Katie and I. I ran up top and threw a rope down as I wanted to try out the moves on Keymaker. Two bomber cams and a big ol' tree made it pretty easy to setup and as I was finishing up I saw Chris and Sarah come up through the talus. We were hoping they'd join us!!

I came down and then jugged my way up with a bit of help from Chris.

The holds are definitely all there. I was excited about that. While the left hand crimp looks horrible from below it's actually an okish 1/4 pad crimp. It's a bit worse than the crimp you use for the jump move but still usable.

I tried to do the move the way Nic did but I don't think I've got the lockoff for that. I was happy to see that there is another, albeit worse, crimp about halfway between the rail and the high right hand edge. I should be able to use that as an intermediate.

I tried the move a couple more times and then moved on to the upper section. I wasn't really sure what to think of it from the ground as the holds look really improbable. Again, it's all there. There aren't any real cruxy moves after you get the good high edge but you're way the hell up there. After about 6 moves you get a really good undercling jug and the climb slabs out on good holds.

It was cool being up there for the first time and seeing the holds. I had a hard time keeping my psych to myself and I kept on jabbering about it to Katie. I'm glad she puts up with it.

After that I took a quick break and Chris warmed up and tried Beautiful Soup again. He tried the throw once but came down and vowed to REALLY try my betas. It took him a couple of tries to get the feeling of standing up right but once he did it came a bit more naturally.

While he rested I started to work on trying Keymaker from the start. It took me a few tries to get the traverse figured out again but I eventually stuck the big move to the start hold on Beautiful Soup. Both Chris and I think it's a V5 traverse but we could be wrong. It's not trivial at least.

The one really big move to link into Beautiful Soup is pretty hard but it felt good to do it again. Pretty soon I'd linked the traverse into Beautiful Soup and grabbed the high right crimp before the throw. My feet were wrong though and I was super stretched out so I just stepped off and quickly figured out beta to get around that. Shouldn't be a problem.

I took my shoes off and Chris stepped up to the plate again. He tried the big move again and stuck it! It looked so easy. Then without warning he just jumped off and asked me what he had to do next!!

Chris sticking the rail for the first time.

After a bit of a beta exchange he got on again and, well, I'll let the pictures talk a little...

First he stuck the throw again...

Got the right foot...

Made a monkey face...

Shook out a bit cuz he's a silly little spurt climber...

Got his foot way out right....

Reached for the crimp....And........


He came so close!!! Next time! Right Chris?? Oh well, he's definitely psyched to finish it up. You could see it when we were packing up and he looked at me and said "So, uh, if you wanna come back with someone to spot you on me.....I'd be down. I'm pretty excited about this one...". It was quality.

We all packed up and drove the cars over to Burma Road. Sarah and Chris had been here once in the past in the heat of summer and written the spot off. Burma is hands down the worst spot in the summer. So bad.

We hiked out there to find some very green, but relatively dry boulders. We screwed around on the front wall with Chris and I repeating the highball warmup that is classic in every sense of the word. I love that problem! After that I dragged Chris over to do Murder Slab with me. While I was doing it I really tried not to let on how sketchy it was that day. Most of the holds were wet or at least partially covered in a beautiful bright green moss. I looked down at one point and noticed a bit of moss on my shoe.

Fun stuff!

Chris followed after me but in a vain attempt to keep his shoes dry on the downclimb he took a 4th class gully. Instead of just getting his shoes wet, he got all of himself wet. Well done!

We moved some of the pads over the the left sector and messed around on the short but incredibly fun problems there. Katie finished up the reachy problem she'd worked a month ago. After topping out in wet leaves she didn't seem too thrilled about it.

I told Chris that he had to do the dyno. I told him it was a must do moderate dyno but really cool!! He stepped up and did it as a reach problem. Tall bastard.

In passing I mentioned that there was a static way to do that line. He tried with all his might but couldn't figure out a way to do it. It was fun to watch at least.

I booted up and after a couple of rough goes, figured things out and did the problem both ways. We spent the next 15-20 minutes watching Chris flail trying to do this version of the problem. After watching for too long Katie stepped up and almost did the problem on her first go!

Chris got a worried look on his face and stepped his efforts up. Eventually he sacked up and did the problem making it look WAAAAY hard. He easily spent more time on this than he did on Jenga. It was one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time.

Katie stepped up and did the problem a second after Chris. We all laughed.

Days like this are so much fun. Try hard on a couple of projects and then go somewhere and try even harder on stupid, pointless, eliminates, joking around the whole time. It reminds me of how much fun this piddly little sport can be.

I like this life.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Oh yeah. We got a puppy. We think her name is gonna be Bandit but we're not sure. I'm also partial to Talus.

Post up here with your plans for the weekend. I'm still not sure what our plan is. Head up Saturday morning and play it from there I guess!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Rest Days

As I sit here writing this I feel absolutely destroyed. I could barely get out of bed this morning. I'm sore.

I'm curious what everyone else does for rest days? This is both a "What you do" and a "How often" question. Katie and I normally don't go more than 3 days on ever but every now and then we lapse and climb for extended periods of time. Right now we've been in the groove of 2-3 on, 1-2 off. It all depends on when we can get out to some real rock though.

Right now I'm planning to take two off so I can be somewhat fresh for Saturday, which will hopefully be a big one! What do you guys do?? I'm really curious what others do or if you have as many problems taking an actual rest day as we do.

The other part of this is something I'm sure we've all experienced before. The "non-rest" rest day. This happened to us when we moved this past spring and basically took a month off of climbing. The skin on my hands was tore up and my muscles were destroyed. I felt like a train wreck and couldn't even fathom climbing even after multiple weeks off.

Katie had one of these days a couple weeks ago when she decided to rake all the leaves in our yard on a Friday rest day. It started out fine, but then she broke our rake. She's just too damn strong!

The old rake.  She's so strong!

New Rake!

After she bought a replacement rake she started to realize just how many leaves we have in our yard. I think we have 4-5 massive trees covering our backyard right now. She had to get a bedsheet to transport them all to the front for the city to pick up.

Too many leaves....

The worst of it was when she was done and realized that there were another 5-10 sheets worth of leaves still on the ground or in the trees. She was less than excited to climb the next day and was sore for 3-4 days after it.

I want your stories! Out with them!

On the climbing front it looks like we're going to Beautiful Soup in the Morning on Saturday and possibly driving out to Dodge to meet up with Chris and Sarah after that. Should be a fun day. Who's in?? Sweaty?? Eggnuts?? Narc??

The more pads the merrier!

Monday, November 16, 2009


Aaron trying to crush my skull

Oh man, what a good day Saturday was!!! So psyched about it right now. I was vibrating with energy and excitement on Saturday night! I felt like Remo!

We had a nice sized group come together for Saturday with Me, Katie, Ellen, Aaron and Chris Esser. We had a bunch of pads, tons of energy and shit got done!

Aaron met us at Boulders with pastries in hand and we went up to the North shore to warm up and wait for Chris and Ellen to meet us. We ended up spending close to an hour and a half warming up on the great moderates there. It's funny but I used to hate that spot for some reason. Now it's easily one of the best places to get nice and warm. The problems are tall with fairly good landings and the holds are absolutely huge on the V0's. It's great.

Aaron on a cool slabby warmup.  Note his extra fast shoes!  

The other Chris E. on one of the best warmups at the lake

Aaron being all 'Gentleman-y' n stuff

Chris having to try a bit on the slabby crimps

After watching Aaron try the worst eliminate at the lake, Welcome to the Lake, we moved on and drove over to the cottages. A quick hike found us at the base of Beautiful Soup. I pointed out beta for everyone and got the pads set.

On Friday Nic was nice enough to send me a little pep talk. In short he told me to sack the hell up and get rid of this mental punt that I've had going on for so long. I think I idolize so many of these problems that I just expect to fail on them. I've seen them for so long and in many cases I first saw them when I was climbing V3 or so. I never actually thought I'd be able to do any of them back then and I've just grown to expect failure.

Beautiful Soup has been just that for me. A mental punt. I've been there so many times and I first saw the problem back in 2004. It was so far out of my league at the time that I never even tried it. Since 2005 I've tried the second move over and over with sporatic efforts and have never come close to latching the rail. It wasn't until this year that it seemed at all possible.

I stepped up to the start holds and the first try went perfect. I latched the rail and just as my feet came into the wall I came off of the crimp. I swore a bit and then, after I calmed down, realized I'd do that move today. A couple of bad goes went by and I got a bit nervous. Then on my 4th or 5th attempt I stepped up and latched the rail with confidence.

It felt easy. Piss.

I matched the holds and felt something I hadn't felt before. I couldn't believe it, I was stunned. I'd tried that move so many times and up until now I'd never seen the top of that hold. It felt foreign and unique. I was so happy! For a second or two I stayed there and relished that moment. I heard the pads moving below me as I wiped my sweaty hands on my pants. I couldn't help but smile a bit.

I took a quick look up to the small crimp on Keymaker and wondered if I should just try and go up instead of right. It just seemed more natural!

I put that thought behind me for the day and started moving right. The holds were greasy and unchalked. I did my best to fix that but it came to no avail. I grabbed the high sidepull but didn't have my right foot on the rail way out to the side. I tried to kick it out but came off in an excited flurry of chalk and pads.

So psyched!!! I've never been that psyched to NOT finish a problem!! Deep down I knew that I could start working Keymaker soon...

Everyone cycled through their own efforts on the problem with Chris ending up very close to the rail. I gave it another three goes before my tips could handle no more. Each time I stuck the move with greater ease and felt more comfortable on the upper holds. I got closer and closer to the finish rail but in the end couldn't quite get enough distance on the huge reach.

Soon. It will go. I'm planning on coming back with a rope to try that move and to also try the upper moves on Keymaker. I've can't remember the last time I was this focused on something. I want Keymaker so bad.

Not wanting to take anymore time at the problem and seeing that my right index finger was starting to bruise rather than split, we packed up and walked to Moj and Jenga.

Both Aaron and Chris put some great burns in on Moj and Chris basically stuck the crux move. Aaron had something happening to his left hand where it'd just slide down the sloper on Moj. It was kind of funny actually. I put on my shoes to try and show everyone "how this thing gets done!". I was a bit more tired than I thought and I only had one good try on it. Kind of sad actually.

Aaron feeling the crux move on Moj

Ellen trying out the move


And Off!!  And Aaron treating me like the Pillsbury Dough Boy. 

I called it quits after my right hand fired off of the start hold and I fell into a pile of self misery and horrible pain. My skin wasn't too happy with me.

At about 4 we walked to Jenga and everyone tried that while I took pictures and spotted. We had an almost perfect landing with all of our pads and everyone was very excited about the problem. Katie had a couple of good efforts between her "all points off dyno" attempts. Aaron and Chris kept on getting closer and closer. Chris took a quick break and then tried hard on his absolute last go and went to the top! Very cool!

Aaron stepped up a minute after that and, in one of the most adrenalized situations I've ever been in, sent the problem to bring up the send train kaboose! So sick!!!

Katie on her first go before realizing that pinching the start hold helps

And again 10 minutes later trying the elusive 'All points off dyno to a sidepull sloper arete pinch'.  It did not work so well.

Aaron sticking the move in isolation a few minutes before the send

Chris also sticking the move in isolation before his send

We hiked out in increasing darkness and Aaron joined us at the Weary for a fantastic dinner. So yummy. I also wiped the floor with Aaron and Katie in scrabble. A rare feat for me as I've only beaten Katie once before.

Katie toying with Aaron up at Moj

Good day!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Not a whole lot went down yesterday. My skin was still a little thin from Beautiful Soup and I didn't want to risk an even worse split so I didn't try it. We warmed up at the North Shore and then hiked straight up to Moj.

I messed around on the project directly left of Moj and got SHUT DOWN! I couldn't even stay on the wall long enough to try a move. It's kinda crazy. All the handholds are good crimps or sidepulls but the feet are f-ing horrible. They're like Perfect Medium style footholds on an overhung wall. It's incredible.

I definitely think that the moves will go but I'm not sure how hard it will be. Barndoor moves on bad feet aren't my specialty and I'd love to work it with some other folks.

In the time that I tried those moves, and failed, I had apparently gotten completely cold. Katie had shoved herself into her jacket and my big puffy while I was hanging out in a t-shirt.

I was kinda frustrated that I couldn't do any of the moves and just wanted to do something! Anything! So I moved the big pad over to Moj and quickly repeated the crux move on Moj two times in a row. It felt good yesterday and both times I actually missed the jug and stuck the sloper edge of the hold instead. I think I've just got that move wired right now.

After that we packed up a left for home. A nice relaxing day.

In other news Remo finally sent Moj! Congrats man! I'm glad you got it done! He also found a bunch of very cool looking projects up in the East Bluff Talus fields. I'm very excited to check those out soon!

This weekend looks like it might be promising if the rain holds off for Saturday. Let's hope!

Monday, November 9, 2009

We Got Lucky

You know, throughout all of my bitching and moaning this fall about weather we've actually been really lucky. We had a nice, fairly cool summer and have had a number of good days this fall to get out.

This past weekend we got another dose of luck. Near record highs in the upper 60's brought a bunch of people out to the boulders. Katie and I planned on going out both days as the weather looked absolutely amazing.

Saturday we found ourselves driving up with our sights set on the West Bluff. Freaney had called me the night before and threatened to join us but that proved to be an idle threat. HAH!

Anyways, after a quick warmup at the North Shore we drove over and schlepped all of our Organic pads up the short approach to Beautiful Soup. I'd gotten psyched out a couple weeks back with only a couple pads and wanted some extra coverage for the crux throw. I did my usual routine of putzing about before I finally started to sack up and really try.

I've been trying harder and harder to actually 'try'. I must say, it's got some advantages.

I've never been this close on Beautiful Soup. Each attempt got better and better and I finally figured out just where I had to latch the sloping rail so I could still reel the swing back in. Each time my feet would get closer and closer to the wall before I exploded off. The problem had never felt so good!

Finally, after 6-7 close calls, I had whittled myself down to an all or nothing attempt. My skin was horrible and I knew I only had one or two more attempts before I split my right index finger. I loaded the holds and hit the rail perfect. On the swing in I felt my feet touch the wall and then I was off. Both hands exploded from the holds and I tumbled to the pads, eventually rolling off of them and into the pit at the base of the problem.

Devastated, I looked at my tip and I was done for.

Katie gave the problem a few attempts while I licked my wounds. Once she started paying attention to her feet she got the first move no problem but she was super stretched out and had some troubles matching her feet.

Then on one go she looked really strong. She was on...

And then she was OFF!!!

I think it was one of the worst unexpected falls she's ever had. As she was matching her feet her right foot popped off and she loaded the right crimp trying to hold it. Her hand quickly popped off and left a good deal of skin up there for her next try. It looked REALLY painful. That crimp can bite back, for sure.

Katie inspecting her own wounds

A little bit after that we packed up, stowed my full pad/half pad combo at Alpine Club and hiked our way up to Moj. Katie wanted to get a feel for the moves before winter set in and I'd been intent on looking at a possible sit start. Well, the sit start isn't great looking. It might just bastardize the line and seems like there is a more natural line instead of trying to work into Moj.

That said, I'm really psyched about the new line!! It should turn out to be a fun, hard problem! The landing still needs to get fixed up a bit but it should be pretty easy to fix. Very psyched!!

Katie tried Moj a couple times with a power spot just to feel out the movement and started to get used to the body position needed for the crux. I'm excited to see her work it some more soon. We're gonna go back on Wednesday and put some more time in on the wall. Should be good!

We hiked ourselves out and got outright terrified on the leafy talus by the Dumpster boulder. SKETCHY!!

On Sunday we were planning on hitting up both the Lake and Dodge.

We went up super early to meet a couple of other people at the North Shore. While we were waiting in the car 4 other vans and trucks pulled up and about 30 people piled out. Eventually a single pad found its way out and onto the ground and Katie and I feared that all of those people would rally around that lone pad. After a flurry of confusion, patagonia fleece and Clif bars everyone but one guy piled back into the cars and took off. That lone boulderer walked over and started warming up.

Funny, to say the least.

Eventually we met the lone climber, Mike, and the rest of our group made the hike up to Monolith. We set up by Bark Biter and and started trying those problems. I quickly sketched my way up the left arete and topped out after almost greasing off the top sloper. Katie had her sights set on doing Bark Biter, knowing it wasn't going to be that physically difficult but instead more of a mental problem.

Bark Biter gets its name from the tree that follows your back the whole way up the problem. A fall would probably not result in a collision with the tree but it's always on your mind. She quickly figured out beta and made her way up to the jugs up top but couldn't muster the courage to roll over. She swore a bit, sketched her way down and jumped off. She vowed to come back when she's feeling a bit more adventurous and confident.

Soon after we moved everything over to Shawn's Slab and started messing around on that. Everyone had a good time on the fun and tricky slab. After about a half hour we had to start packing up to meet Vera and crew at Governor Dodge. Just as we were packing Chris and Sarah came up the trail. We were sad to have to leave them but Katie was jonesing to climb with Vera. Apparently I don't fulfill the "climbing with chicks" need all that well. I do try though...

Katie trying to find a 'head jam' on the blank slab

Katie at the topout

We made the nice drive over to Dodge in about an hour and I was surprised at how enjoyable the drive was. It was a nice break in the day and takes you past a couple of Frank Lloyd Wright homes in the process. Kind of cool.

We were meeting Vera and a gaggle of ladies at Deer Cove. They were already there and Katie was getting visibly excited as we got closer. We arrived and heard the ladies down at Big Jim. Neither of us had tried any of those problems before and they were fun to mess around on.

After about a half hour we moved ourselves up to Grounded For Life. It's one of my favorites in the park and I wish there were more features like it. Katie was set on trying to repeat it and after figuring out her beta she did so rather quickly. She's climbing really strong right now and is super motivated. It's fun to watch and makes me want to try harder just to keep up.

Vera and Lisa also started working it fairly hard and after finally convincing Vera that she had to heel hook she stuck the big horn and mantled through to the slab.

Vera hitting the juggy horn

Starting to mantle...

And done!

I booted up and threw another lap on it as well and was once again reminded of how fun this problem is. Love it!

Katie and I were wiped out and we packed up and left for home. Such a good weekend!

We're heading up tomorrow and are gonna hit Beautiful Soup and Moj again if anyone wants to join us! Looks beautiful!!!!