Monday, November 27, 2017


Although the Black Canyon has the reputation of being full of loose rock, poison ivy, and scary climbing, there are the occasional gems that avoids all three of those things; Blacksmiths on the Hooker Buttress is one of those routes.
Stoked on the warm sunlight.
I had given up on the idea of climbing at all in the Black in 2017.  Schedules and weather never lined up.  Luckily with the mild and dry fall we've been having the season was extended and we were able to squeak in a route.  I saw some photos of Noah on the route in the end of October and texted Matt immediately.  We hadn't done a Black route in mid November before and I for one was a little worried about the minimal light and cold nights.
We started early, leaving the car with 30 degree temps.  Per usual however, half way down the SOB I was in a t-shirt and sweating.  With a plethora of beta we were able to get to the base of the first pitch at first light.  The route allows a few pitches to warm up on Dry Hard before veering off left over some big roofs. 2 1/2 pitches of traversing puts you at the base of the hard climbing.
Feeling the exposure.
Matt was up and onsighted through the hard climbing, and fell off due to rope drag on the wandering pitch right before the anchor.  I convinced Matt that we should lead in small two pitch blocks since he was rested from belaying and I was pumped from following the last pitch.  He lead up the next crux pitch and gave it a valiant effort but apparently he gets tired too.  Who knew?  I lead the next to pitches and Matt took the last, topping out at 3 with lots of light left for the half hour walk back to the car.
Matt on the first hard pitch.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

24 HHH

This year Ben Griffin and I amazingly got into 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell.  The event has gained a lot of attention over the years and is increasingly difficult to get into. 
In addition to the two of us, Amanda and Katy came to heckle us and climb before and after the competition.
Although our "strategy" of trying to climb the good looking lines didn't really pan out with a win.  We did at least get enough points that we can preregister for 24HHH next year.  Having never been to the area before, I'm pretty happy with how smoothly things went.  With all the energy from the other climbers around getting through the night climbing portion was definitely easier that anticipated.
Before registering for 2018 though, I'll first have to forget how much the skin on my hands hurt near the end and after the event.


Notre Dame
Amanda and I were fortunate enough to be able to take a trip to Paris and Fontainebleau this fall.  I've always heard that Paris is the most beautiful city in the world and I never really believed it until I saw it myself.  It truly is a gorgeous city!  In addition to Amanda and I we were traveling with some fun family, including Gordon, Jean, and Greg.  Amanda was our interpreter and planned/organized most of the trip which was a lot of hard work and definitely added to the experience. We spent the first few days in Paris, taking tours of museums, churches, opera houses; eating amazing food, and enjoying the city.  
Getting some help from the locals.
We rented a car in Paris and drove to Fontainebleau.  Amanda and I stuck to our tried and true method of driving in a foreign country.  Amanda drives and I navigate.  I expected driving in Paris to be crazy but with the help of google maps it went smoother than expected.
Short people climb.
It takes a few problems to get used to the rock, movement and friction.
Tall people reach.

Greg showing us how it's done.

The Font is a classic bouldering area for good reason.  We found so many amazing boulder problems and we barely scratched the surface of what is there.  The circuits are truly unique to the area, in addition to being very fun they are a great way to see the area. 


Cardinal Pinnacle!
Amanda and I were able to get away this summer to the Sierras in the end of July.  Before our trip Amanda wasn't sold on the fact that climbing high sierra granite would be any fun.  For me though she was willing to give it a go. We started out with a jaunt up Cardinal Pinnacle.  A 4 pitch 5.10a just outside of Bishop.  Halfway up the first pitch she was hooting and hollering about how good the climbing was.  Enough so that I thought she was being sarcastic.  Fortunately she was actually having a great time and that stoke continued to the top of the climb!
Amanda on the 3rd pitch of Cardinal Pinnacle.
After the Cardinal Pinnacle warm up we decided to head up to Temple Crag and check out the classic Sun Ribbon Arete.  We hiked up in the afternoon after getting a permit and food shopping.  After a little searching we found a great camping spot near Third Lake.  We had initially thought we'd do the route car to car in a day but were glad we decided to take two in the end.
Amanda heading up to Sun Ribbon Arête.
California had a big snow year so we brought aluminum crampons and an axe for the snow.  We could definitely have gotten by without the crampons but the security of the axe was nice for the descent. 
On top of the Arête about to head down.
We should have known that the route would have more of alpine feel but we expected solid rock which we didn't find.  Although the route is in a beautiful setting the loose blocks and shenanigans required on the route taint the route in my opinion.  On the hike out we saw 5 scorpions on the trail!  I was glad to be wearing close toed shoes.
Geoff and I on top of North Dome.
Next up was meeting up with a longtime friend Geoff Settles.  Amanda and I met Geoff at the New Campus climbing wall in Traverse City Michigan around 1997.  We used to take trips to the Red River Gorge when we were in high school.  Fortunately we've kept in touch with Geoff since moving to Colorado.  Geoff and I had a plan to climb 50 pitches to commemorate his 50th birthday.  We ended up climbing Royal Arches and Crest Jewel Direct into the South Face on North Dome.  Totaling 30ish pitches.  We decided not to continue with our initial plan after baking in the sun all day. Luckily for Geoff and I, Amanda and Jesse were nice enough to hike to the top of North Dome and bring us food and water.  
At the road after Royal Aches, North Dome.
After two rest days Amanda was wanting to get back on the rock and we decided to take it easy and go sport climbing at an area called Clark Canyon near Mammoth.  Unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate and we had to bail after a few routes due to rain.
At the base of Cathedral Peak.
The last objective for our trip was Cathedral Peak.  Although the Peak was packed with people we had a great time.  There are so many route options that we were able to weave back and forth to pass parties.  All in all it was a great trip with an amazing partner in crime!
On top of Cathedral Peak.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Lavender Towers

While climbing in the creek last week, Luke and Tim pointed out a few towers.  So this week I drove back out to check them out.  I ended up climbing the Lavender Towers.  

Hike up wash until you encounter a ridge line that heads straight to the base of the towers. 40 min to base with a heavy pack. The approach pitches start right of the towers and ascend the gulley behind the towers.  Cairn marks the start.

Pitch 1- 
Climb up and right on loose blocks and ledges then left into a chimney to its top. Walk down the slope to the gulley.  100ish feet, gear belay, 5.easy.  

Pitch 2- 
Climb up a crack system to under a giant chockstone. Traverse right on the face then up to on top of the chock stone.   Hike up slope to a shrub/tree belay. 60ish feet, 5.7. (The route on West Lavender starts in the notch and climbs the north face).
Pitch 3- 
Climb loose terrain up the gulley to the next lower angle terrain. Belay at tree/shrubs. 60' 5.7.
Pitch 4- 
Climb up the shallow rotten corner that starts out wide. Continue up to the two giant chock stones. Move right and mantel onto the right side of the first. Traverse up and left across the chockstone. Step left onto the small arête and climb up to the notch on friable rock. Climb North Lavender first so the rope pulls clean on the way down.  Scramble across the loose notch and climb the south face of North Lavender passing two protection bolts on the way.  Belay at 2 bolts.  The summit is a 15' scramble away.  5.9+ C1.  Enjoy the view and scope out South Lavender. 
Rappel 50' to notch and build a gear anchor.
Pitch 5- 
Once back at the notch aid up the thin north facing crack on South Lavender.  The crack gradually widens to #1 and is capped with blocks. Mantel up and right on to ledge avoiding the blocks. Move right across the ledge 10' and climb the short wide crack to a small ledge. Carefully traverse left around to the NE face. Place gear in a horizontal crack and face climb to the top of the tower. Belay at two bolts on the NW side.  5.9 C1
Rappel 200' to the top of pitch 2. 
Pitch 6- 
Climb up to notch then onto a spaced out bolt ladder on the north face of West Lavender. Belay is two bolts. (One of which is the last bolt in the bolt ladder.  An additional bolt on the summit would be a nice addition.)  
Rappel 100' to the ground, landing 100' left of where you started.

Double set of cams from .1-3 camalot, single 4 & 6, single set of stoppers, runners, two 60m ropes.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Plan G......and F

Jeff and I met Trevor and Emily while getting permits to climb the Incredible Hulk last summer.  Since we were both climbing the hulk twice we were able to hang out around camp for a few evenings and talk about our shared love of desert towers.
Then in January Emily joined Amanda and I for a few days of Limestone sport climbing at the Homestead.  Trevor unfortunately was unable to join us on that trip.
Finally after some failed attempts our schedules meshed and Amanda, Trevor, Emily and I were able to plan a trip to Moab.  We decided on Horsethief Tower which is on the wrong side of the Green River.  Luckily Trevor had a raft from his dad.
Happy times pumping up the raft with Horsethief in the background!

Sad times moments later when the raft exploded.
 The weather was cold enough that a swim across the river was out so we took some time to brainstorm our options.
Amanda and Emily.
After looking at many other options, both in person and in the guidebook we settled on Thracian Mare and The Ark.  Not surprisingly Eric's description for the 'North Face' route on Thracian Mare wasn't exactly spot on.  We kept moving and climbed the Ark, which went smoothly with Trevor and Emily leading.  We were going to call it a day and head back to the truck but last minute decided to check out the "North Face" route.  After 100' of climbing I yelled down to Trevor that the pitch 1 anchor was only 20' away.  He promptly responded that I had only used half the rope.  Damn.  That was logic I couldn't argue with.  So, wanting to be a good partner I pushed on past the anchor and linked both pitches.
Starting up Thracian Mare
We made it back to camp but only after the sun had set and the wind and rain had gotten nasty.  We decided to pack up camp and head to town for some well deserved food.  Can't wait for the next adventure with this crew!
L to R Aphrodite, Zeus, Ark, Moses, Thracian Mare.
Oh yeah and some people in the foreground.

El Protrero Chico

Protrero is a classic climbing area that I had been hearing about for years.  It had always been on the list of places to check out but things never worked out.  So last fall when our longtime friends told us they were going to make a trip Amanda and I promptly invited ourselves.  
Geoff and Janice drove down from Los Alamos with their two dogs and camper, while we flew.  Amanda had tweaked her finger before the trip but fortunately the angle of many of the routes in Potrero puts most of your weight on your feet.   Super fun to hang with good friends and check out a world class climbing destination!
Amanda following 'Pancho Villa Rides Again'.

Hiking up past the 'Outrage Wall' to the 'Surf Bowl'.

Geoff climbing up the cleared highway on 'Space Boyz'. 

Janice high on 'Space Boyz'.


Amanda crushing on 'Don Quixote'.

Still can't figure out why Amanda insists on calling climbing trips "vacations".