Monday, December 15, 2014

Mt. Wilson

On August 30th I woke at 3am in the back of my car.  I was parked at the Kilpacker trail head near Telluride, CO.  One of the bonuses of sleeping in your clothes is the ease of getting up in the morning.  All you need to do is throw on your shoes and coat.  A quick snack and I was on the trail around 3:20, hiking fast to stay warm.  I love hiking through the woods by myself in the dark of night.  There is nothing outside of the glow of your singular headlamp, none of the chirping birds that normally fill a daytime hike.  Just silence and darkness.
I met up with Ken at his tent near the bottom of Kilpacker Basin.  He had a cold night and was about to build a fire when I walked up.  Ken and I had climbed Wilson Peak the year before and this year he had his eyes on Mt. Wilson.  We started hiking up the dark basin instead of starting a fire.  With the large ridge to our east, we would be nearly on top before we were in the sunlight.
As we walked up the trail Ken and I chatted about news from the last year.  He caught me up on his family and work and I did the same.  As we went higher we started to notice pieces of neon green duct tape stuck to the occasional rock along the trail.  The higher we went the more there were.  What a genius way to mark the trail! Leave trash along it!  All total we removed 74 pieces of duct tape, and surely missed a few.

Some of our haul.
 Ken hiked fast.  We were on top early and enjoyed the crisp, quiet summit to ourselves.  On the way down we talked about mountains that Ken wanted to climb in the future, and came up with a game plan and time line to climb them.  Hiking down through the scree and talus that makes up Kilpacker Basin always seems to take longer than hiking up.  The loose rock seems to go on forever.  Soon enough though, we were back at Ken's tent packing it up.

Sunday, December 7, 2014


I drove to The Grand Canyon to meet up with Geoff in November.  It had been a while since we'd seen each other. Funny how we climbed more together when I was in Durango and he was in Northern Michigan than we do living 6 hrs apart. We climbed Zoroaster Temple which required 32 miles of hiking and 20,000' of elevation change.  As always the canyon is beautiful, ruthless and rewarding.  

"If the desert made a sound, it would be a snarl." -Geoff Stroud-Settles

Great climbing with you Geoff!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Robitussin Tower

It had been 6 months since I'd been to the desert.  Starting a new job, Amanda starting school in Phoenix and working a local sport project took my attention away from desert time.  And to be honest I need a break to recharge the desert stoke occasionally.  Bill, Matt and I have been eyeing Sam's route 'Ivory Tower' since he was putting it up a few years ago.  Unfortunately we were never able to get out there while he was working on it.  We decide it was time to give it a go.  And while we were up there we might as well get on 'Excommunication' as well. And we might as well camp up there so we didn't have to hike up and down the talus cone twice.  I got off of work in the early morning and drove to Moab to meet Bill and Matt who had already food shopped and were waiting for me.  We carpooled out to Castle Valley and started up.  It was after noon before we started up 'Ivory Tower'.  The climbing is amazing! really fun movement in an incredible setting.  We sat a fair bit, but everyone did all the moves and we got to the top.

Watching the sunset from the ridge is always a treat.
The next morning with sore fingers and stiff bodies we worked our way over to the Priest to another amazing line. 'Excommunication'.  The crux felt a little harder that 'Ivory Tower' but maybe it was just day two.  Really fun arete climbing and some hard calcite climbing gets you through the hard bits.  
Summit register on the Priest

With the whole afternoon left open we decided to head down and check out another "Sam" creation, 'The Scar'.  For how easily accessed, and high quality 'The Scar' is, it's surprising we hadn't climbed there before.  But I guess we usually have our sights set on more phallic features in the area. Bill and Matt headed home and I headed to the mexican restaurant for some fajitas and margaritas.  

Jeff was to join me the next evening so I was solo the whole next day.  I started out climbing 'The Pillbox'.  At 3 pitches of easy free climbing into easy aid, plus straight forward rappels I was looking for my next objective by noon.  Sitting in my car eating chips and salsa I spotted two more towers that Sam put up, 'The Academy' and 'Seminary'.  Some quick research online revealed reasonable grades, so I was off.
On 'Seminary' thinking soloing wet, mossy rock maybe was a bad idea.

Summit of 'The Academy'
I got back to town just in time to grab some equipment that Jeff and I were going to need for the next day.

Jeff arrived and we headed back to the mexican restaurant for more fajitas, margaritas and laughs.  After dinner we drove out to Spring Canyon to camp near our morning objective.  We took half dozen wrong turns and were about to give up when we suddenly were dropping into the canyon on the right road.  After parking and throwing our sleeping bags and pads on the ground, Jeff proceeded to brush his teeth with anti-fungal cream.  Not surprisingly this sent him in to a spitting frenzy which lasted multiple minutes.  When I awoke in the morning literally the first thing I saw as I opened my eyes was a flat tire on Jeff's truck.
Not the best morning wake up.
Handy man Jeff!

Breakfast of champions!
The tower we had our eyes on was something we hoped had never been done.  It's pretty obvious and had been eyed by quite a few climbers but somehow missed out on an ascent.  The first pitch went all free with some fun climbing and the second pitch started out free but eventually required a fair number of bolts to get to the summit.  We sat on top of the knife-edge summit trying to come up with a name for the tower.  Eventually we decided on 'Robitussin Tower' since Jeff had been chugging the stuff the whole day.  

One long rappel and we were on the ground and head home and back to work. As always its hard not to have fun in the desert when you're screwing around with good buddies! 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Western Slope Climbing

Here is a short video of some climbing from the last few months.  Bouldering at Sailing Hawks, Sport climbing at Lemon and Trad climbing in the Black Canyon.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Tim and I just got done with a great trip into Vestal Basin.  We parked on Molas Pass and hiked in from there.  All total we hiked 20 miles, gained 8,000' and climbed Vestal Peak, all in 36 hours!  Great climbing with you Tim!  -BK

Friday, June 13, 2014

Cloak and Dagger

Matt had never been to the Black Canyon before so we decided to get on a route that wasn't heinous. Meaning a route with minimal loose rock, thorny bushes, and poison ivy.  I personally am not a fan of repeating routes.  There is just not enough time in life to screw around on a route you have already done. I'd rather stay home and watch a movie. A movie that I've never seen before obviously.  We settled on a route called 'Cloak and Dagger.'
Bill was in the area so he grabbed us a campsite and waited around to camp with us.  Between the road over Red Mountain pass being closed for most of the day, and me needing to do a bunch of errands we didn't get in till late.  

Hiking past minimal poison ivy got us to the base of the scrambling. We were able to solo the first pitch which was more like 'don't screw up' 4th class than the 5.6 listed on the topo.  After arriving at the base of pitch 2 I took off the pack and discovered that Bill had lovingly placed a fist sized rock in my pack. Luckily I found it before we started the real climbing.

The climbing was excellent. Just to the left of 'Cloak and Dagger' are two high quality classic routes.  'Cloak and Dagger' is on par.
We were in the shade until we toped out which was nice because it was pretty warm out.  I'm not sure if Matt is hooked on 'The Black' yet, but I know he wants to go back. 
All in all a great day out with a good guy!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Beaking in Tongues

Matt and I had been looking at a route in Moab's Fisher Towers called "Beaking in Tongues" for years.  Finally we got to check it out.  Matt picked me up from work in Cortez on Tuesday morning.  We were in a time crunch because he had to be at work on Thursday morning, so we had 48 hours.  A quick stop at a Moab gear shop to grab some more #1 peckers and we were on our way to the Fishers.

To save time we decided to camp at the base so we wouldn't have to hike more then we had to.  The only problem with that was, the loads were heavier, which we decided was well worth it.

It took a while for Matt to figure out the first pecker move but soon he was cautiously inching his way toward the anchor. As I jugged the first pitch he started short fixing the second which was a little easier.

I started out on the third pitch thinking, "this isn't so bad" and moments later with my eyes caked with dirt started thinking swim goggles would have been nice.

It was dark before I started short fixing the forth pitch, but luckily it was short and went pretty quickly.  With 4 of the 7 pitches fixed we called it a night and rappelled to the ground, leaving lines fixed.

The next morning we jugged back up to our high point and Matt nailed his way to the top of pitch 5.

Pitch 6 was the shortest on the route but still took a good long while.  Luckily it put us at the saddle and offered the first ledge of the route.

Matt took off on the last pitch which ended up being a doosy.  He lowered multiple times to clean gear he needed and took a short fall when a cam blew out of the mud.  On top we discovered our ascent was the 5th ascent of "Beaking in Tongues".  We rappelled and were back at the car before dark.

Matt dropped me off in Moab to stay with Amanda, Thad, and Marie and he continued home.  I later found out that he only got 4.5 hours of sleep before he had to get back up to go to work.  Strong work.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Flag Mountain Falls

Last summer I was on a backpacking trip east of Vallecito Reservoir with David Bruce. Near the end of our trip I noticed this big waterfall about 9-10 miles from the trailhead.  As it turns out, Eric Dixon had noticed it as well when he was in the area rock climbing.  So we teamed up and started making plans. After asking around it appeared that the waterfall had never been climbed, which only added to the appeal.  

We decided to ski in on Saturday and climb the route and ski out Sunday.  I didn't have much time, so Eric skied in during the day before me to find a good route and set up camp.  I started in the light and skied the last 3 hours, of the 4 hour approach in the dark.  Luckily all I had to do was follow his tracks which led to the tent.  Sunday morning arrived and we were both having a hard time motivating in the cold so we built a small fire to warm up. It did the trick, with warmth came stoke.  

The route was super fun, with two 300' flows separated by a 5 minute walk.  Eric took the lead on the first flow, linking it with a little simul climbing and an 80 meter rope.  We soloed the first 100' of the second flow to a bench on the right. I led the last 200' to the top. We didn't see any evidence of previous ascents but snow can easily obscure rappel slings on trees.  Whether it was a first ascent or not it was a great adventure. Thanks for the great trip Eric!

Saturday, February 1, 2014