Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Line Obsession

Black September

The Line

Nova Express

All 5-star crack climbs. All 5.9-5.9+.
It's all that i can think about. I constantly molest other climbers for valuable beta I've heard a dozen times before. Just look. You'll salivate too!

    Black September.

Beautiful hand jams up a steep splitter crack with good rests up high right before a powerful roof-like crux out of a chimney. Man, it's sweet.

The Line

A sweet, solid crack that splits the East Wall at Lovers Leap from top to bottom. Three challenging pitches of crack, face and roof-pulling moves. It's wild! I never dreamed of doing the route back last year when I first visited the Leap to climb the East Wall. I hear you get thin protection at the start and the crux (the hardest move) is 15 feet off the deck. I hate some of the sparsely protected starts at the Leap (e.g. Bears Reach).
                                                          Nova Express

When I first visited Donner summit to climb, I tried to find my way up this beautiful crack and failed. Miserably. Little did I realize that my fledgling back then would amount to an all out need to redeem myself from those days. Thanks to the trip to Indian Creek, I've got the skills and the know how to get up this guy just fine. I hope.

These are my big goals for the YEAR.

If I can land em before the snow falls, I'm fairly certain I'll be climbing .10's (or .9's in the Valley) by next year.

P.S. I led Black September last Tuesday, the 19th. Two more to go!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Big Decision


My main squeeze, okay, my only squeeze- Miss Ashley Cray, has had the car woes for as long as I've known her.

When you first meet someone and see their car for the first time, you find out something kind of exciting: does the person match the car they drive???

Let's just say I wasn't too surprised when I saw Ash's car.

The little lady drives (I should say drove)a super fancy GLX V6 Black Volkswagen Jetta. While the car was a beast and pretty ritzy to boot, it kindof has this problem- yeah, it keeps breaking down.

So the weekend starts Friday- John, Ash's stepfather, has tickets for us to see the Le Grand Cirque show at the Silver Legacy.

Le Grand Cirque was the most amazing show I have ever seen live. It's basically a bunch of Jackie Chan, mini-Arnold Schwarzenegger robot-human people that can do insane things using poles, bicycles, curtains(?) and candles. It was unreal what these guys and girls could do! I bet they could onsight 5.14's if their arms weren't so short.

After a great dinner, a fabulous show and a few too many cups of vino, Ash and I made it to the parking garage where we discovered that her car had left us a nice little present: about two gallons of pink coolant on the concrete.

The next day we were driving the beast corolla down to Rocklin, CA to look at a sweet Subaru Impreza that Ash had spotted on her epic search for the right car. Let's face it, the car had an aura about it the second it came into view. It handled like a dream, had a new, neoprenish interior, and only 32,000 MILES!!!!! After some semi tense negotiation, Ash walked off the lot with an awesome car and a more than worthy replacement for the Jetta GLXlemmon.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Another Weekend in the Valley

The Valley may, just may, be the greatest place on Earth.
If you're a hiker.
If you're a backpacker.
If you're a sightseer.
If you're Asian.
If you're a climber.
If you're a climber.
If you're a climber.

You've got to admit, when you come down hwy 120 or 140 or wherever- the sweeping spires of granite, the massive waterfalls, El Cap, Half Dome. Man, I'm gettin' all sorts of excited here.

Regardless, it was another great weekend down in this fabulous place. I had made plans with my buddy from Redding, Shane to meet up at the usual dirtbag climber spot outside the park.

Shane after a healthy fall on Harry Daley
Getting up early, we headed over to the Swan Slabs to warm up stellar crack before nailing other classics throughout the park. As the day wore on and our fingers grew bloodied, I spied a classic line near us on Glacier Point Apron called Harry Daley, a 5.8. A brief walk brought us to finger crack glory and soon we were on top of a climb that deserved every star the supertopo gave it.

Royal Arches

The next day was more trying. We got caught on a climb now rated .10a/b (above my grade- I pulled on gear :-) and Shane rolled his ankle pretty bad on our way to Commitment, a climb that I've had earmarked ever since I first heard about it.

It feels good to push your limits. It's scary as hells sometimes, but if you have the gumption, the strength, and a good belayer to coach or support you through those tough spots, pushing it to the limit can be the most rewarding feeling you may ever experience.

Monday, October 4, 2010

North Peak Ice

So, my first go at the North Couliour of North Peak ended up in a henious scramble up this scree field and boy did I catch hell from my partners at the time whom of which had went on their own little adventures on separate routes that same morning. To my credit, the approach is confusing if you had never done it before and I took an obvious trail that landed me smack dab in the middle of scree hell.

But maybe it was a blessing in disguise, as I think back to the glory days more than a year ago when 5.9's were supposedly easy and gym climbing was much harder than our toprope-hero shenanigans up at Donner.

That, and the fact that the couloir was in a steep snow slog condition back then, according to an old roommate of mine.

Regardless, when I suggested the idea to my buddy Travis last week, he was excited to get out of town and that Friday, the two of us loaded up and trucked it on down to Yosemite for a weekend of rock and ice.

Things were off to a bad start when we rolled into Tuloumne Meadows only to find it socked in with these ominous dark clouds- clouds that seemed bent on zapping the life out of over-motivated climbers trying their luck atop the awesome granite domes and spires of the Meadows.

With this being the case, Trav and I decided against climbing the classic West Crack of Daff Dome and instead opted for the less committing Northwest Books route on Lembert Dome.
This turned out to be a wise choice as the rolling storm at last found us during the slabby descent of the granite monolith. With Rain and lightning threatening to shut the whole trip down, Travis and I searched the beautiful stretch of HWY 120 for somewhere dry to toprope. Eventually, we found a henious offwidth that my old roomie had referred me to called Gailyns Crack.

After successfully climbing the beast, Trav and I retreated to the Saddlebag Trailhead parking lot to ready ourselves for the North Couloir of North Peak the next day.

Being the ultralight guy that I fancy myself as, all I had brought to sleep in was my bivy sack, sleeping bag and tarp. This proved to be a bummer as we were pounded by a cold October rain at the trailhead. I managed to stay dry however and despite the feeling of being shot by a million airsoft guns while being wrapped in cellophane, I slept rather well.

The next morning, early as hell, Travis and I found ourselves making good time up the trail to the North Face of North Peak and, despite some initial route finding trouble (again), we were soon at the base of a fabulous ice climb, ready for battle.

The ice was in great condition, making it easy to fire in ice screws and avoid dinner plating (pulling out huge dish-shaped chunks of ice) while making swift vertical progress. Because this was my first multipitch ice climb, it was a bit harrowing trusting my full weight to belay anchors made of ice screws. However, because it was so darned uncomfortable standing on relatively low angle ice, I soon was able to relax and trust the screws to do their job.

After 4 pitches of great climbing, Travis and I finally topped out of the couloir- only to find that same persnickety storm system had again found us atop a mountain. Keeping a careful eye on the slowly approaching system, Trav and I enjoyed a well deserved snack while coiling the ropes when BAM! Lightning had struck so close, I jumped and nearly, nearly dropped my ciabatta sandwich! Without words, Travis and I swiftly packed all of our gear and raced down the side of the mountain, hail and rain motivating us to run faster and faster across the landscape that suddenly seemed so familiar to me (it was the same scree slope I had discovered a year ago).

In no time, we were off the mountain and in the relative safety of the lake system that was supported by the Conness Glacier. With such pristine alpine lakes about us, it was hard to snap a bad picture.

Soon enough, we were back at the car. Though drenched, we were excited to have knocked off a classic Sierra alpine ice climb, although the weather in Yosemite was only getting worse and worse it seemed.

A quick dive down to the Mobile Mart (and thus internet access) revealed that the weather both in Tuolumne and the Valley was indeed socked in with rain and electricity. Boo! Three short hours later, we were rolling back into Reno, bummed that we couldn't stay longer in the famed land of granite.

Despite the weather letdown, I was in good spirits as I had plans to meet my lovely girlfriend at the Wal (a local bar near the university) to watch the UNR vs UNLV football game. After unloading all of my wet gear, I was off to spend the rest of my fabulous weekend with Ashley. Truly the best of both worlds.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Let there be no doubt, two is greater than one.

I learned, not that long ago, that doing things on your own is only going to get you so far in life. I have found that the fulfillment of going it solo for any number of ventures is compounded sevenfold when you have someone to share the moment of accomplishment with.

But that's not all.

Partner's serve a purpose. They aid you through the mental crux of a problem. They shoulder invaluable weight (both literal and figurative) needed to get even close to where your objective lies. A partner will tell you to turn back when things get shitty. They will be the one to pay you out rope when you're victoriously clipping the chains at the top of a route. They will celebrate victory by your side and they will share the sourness of defeat when you turn back.

Each person is unique, as is their abilities. Two strong people could make terrible partners together, much like an all-star football team. Look at the Huber Brothers- the crazy Germans who put up the speed record on El Capitan. It's no secret that Alex is the stronger climber, yet there would be no speed records were it not for Thomas' lightning fast jugging ability or his competence in sending weaker pitches as Alex rests.


The team dynamic is second only to the weather with regards to what makes or breaks a successful summit/outing. I wouldn't want to be out on Denali for 28 days with someone who's humor is as dry as a fish bone nor would I want to be with someone who would rather sit on their hands and laugh when there's work to be done.

A Fine Balance

What are you trying to do?

A fine climber can be a horrid backpacker.
The best of hikers may be a terrible traveling companion.
Awesome cyclists could care less about ice climbing.
A person great at everything outdoors can have the humor of a sloth.

Look at your destination!

A partner with an innate knowledge can show you where the best guiness is served
...But the adventure is lost.

The most popular route to the top is a great way to get there
...If you wanna top out with 56 and 1/2 other people.

A tour guide can tell you all about the big things
...But it's the little things that you may find the most rewarding.

What's the Plan?

Some people are logistical experts, namely my girlfriend, Ashley and my roommate, Weston. These are the people to go to before things can even get off the ground and their dedication, combined with a touch of resource gathering expertise, may prove invaluable when looking at the big picture of an outing.

We're here, now what?

Leadership is pivotal. Two type 1-A personalities battling it out for the sharp end pitch after pitch will never complete a route. Two persons fighting over which knot to use will never build and anchor and a group divided on what to eat for dinner will waste much time before a decision is made. What many people do not realize is that leadership isn't static. Rather, it changes over the course of a trip based on the needs of the team. I think this is why my girl and I travel so well together- each of our talents complements the other.

En Fin

Partner's can make or break a trip out there. I guess all that's left to say is that in order to get the right partner, it's up to you to make yourself a good partner and maximize whatever talents you possess while learning and getting better at the things you may not be so talented in. When it comes time to help, help. When your buddy is down, cheer em' up. When the lead needs rope, feed em it best you can.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


It's pretty unnerving when you drive up 10 and a half hours only to find that you're one of 500 people taking the same exact test for only 7, maybe 10 positions.

7/500... That's what, a 1.4% chance that you'll be in that upcoming police academy?

How do you tilt the numbers in your favor?

Rise to the occasion: COMPETITION.

1200 BC: The epic pissing contest for Helen of Troy. 8th century, BC: The beginning of the Olympics. 610 AD: Islam is distinguished from Christianity. 1607 AD: the formation of the 13 colonies 1865 AD: The Red Queen declares war on the White Queen in Charles Dodgson's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. 2010 AD: 10.4% national unemployment percentage and 500 likeminded individuals shuffling nervously for a meager 7 positions...

We all have it in us. That desire to compete. That slight edge of envy when you see someone else getting ahead. That desperate moment when you realize someone has caught up to you down the home stretch and you're less than willing to surrender it all away.

Some people are happy just to compete. Others strive to be competitive. No matter where you stand, so long as you stand, you will be made a better person by allowing a little competitive spirit motivate your actions.

Competition can be ugly. It can divide the closest of friends and bring out the worst in people. It can poison an office and it can blind even the most competent of players. I've seen it. I've played the part.

Competition can be beautiful. It can take your performance to the next level. It can motivate you on your darkest of days and transcend your life to a point that you will always remember and always strive towards reliving. I've seen it. I've played the part.

See you at the top.

Rant Fin.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Altitude Sickness

I groan as I break over the pass shrouding an alpine gem known as Iceberg Lake. I look back at my partner, Ian just down the hill from me making his way up in a steady manner. We're breathing hard despite what little hiking we've done so far this morning. Slowly, we plod to a rock to escape a frozen breeze sweeping the snow-covered lake. It's a moment before we speak to one another; our minds in that oxygen-starved doldrum between focus and blasé concern. Motivation and logic are hard to come by here, movement is sluggish and weak at times. We wearily look at the looming face of Whitney with hypoxic awe as my partner announces he has forgotten his helmet back at camp...  

It took only 3 and a quarter hours last night to get to our high camp at 12,300. When you come from Reno at 4400 feet and make it up that high, that fast... You're gunna feel it. Usually.

No one knows exactly what causes altitude-related illnesses such as AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema) or HACE (High Altitude Cerebral Edema) but it's no joke. Look at the death earlier this month on Mount Shasta: accomplished climber, vibrant, young and healthy. Falls over while he's putting on his crampons (traction spikes for your boots) and remains unresponsive. Found a couple days later dead, stuffed in a snow cave.

Read more about it here:

Another good example regarding the ghastly reaches of altitude sickness takes us back to 1953 as a group of visionary mountaineers found themselves in a desperate situation at 25,500 feet (makes my altitude threshold look pathetic) on the infamous mountain: K2. Storm-bound, mountaineer Art Gilkey developed clots in his legs (easy to do in thick, oxygen-depleted blood) and required immediate assistance in descending the mountain. Incapacitated, the team wrapped him in a sleeping bag and together, slowly belayed him down the savage mountain. Suddenly, the lead downclimber lost his footing, ripping each person above him off their feet.
Death was certain. Bound by rope, all of the team raced down the impossibly steep South Face- save for one man, Pete Schoening, who was able to arrest the fate of the entire team through sheer strength and skill via an ice axe-hip belay. 

This is known in mountaineering history as "The Belay."

Gilkey was swept away by an avalanche moments after the heroic save. He was discovered in 1993 as the Godwin-Austin Glacier was melting out. 

The next morning, after deciding against a late start on the route, I wake up coughing. Blood and pink frothy crap make my spit colourful enough to warrant a longer stay in the tent. Ian rushed up to our gear cache at the toe of the buttress (the guy's carved out of steel, or some lightweight carbon-fiber material I swear) as I shivered out my affliction within the relative safety of my floorless tent. When he returns, I know that I am deteriorating and that i must descend. I am also thankful to have a strong partner as his willingness and ability to retrieve the gear means that the ropes and protection amounting to my life savings is secured. 
As we head down, I am overcome with waves of nauseousness that test the reserves of my digestive system. I am weak and I slip several times trying to negotiate the wind-packed snow.
 We stop at a lower alpine lake about 2,500 feet lower and I am finally hungry and thirsty enough to pull out a GU packet from my pocket. There is an enormous igloo that someone made near us, blue ice cascades off the North Wall of the pass we just descended. The lake, called Lower Boy Scout, is exposed from the snow and placid waters fracture beautifully underneath the gray skies that loom overhead. My hunger broods as Ian produces some fresh jack cheese he's been carrying and offers to share. We share laughs, destroy cheese and talk about how unused food (particularly heavy food items like cheese) carries "potential energy."

A thousand feet lower and my coughing fits have ceased, save for the occasional bad joke or wag-bag comment. My nausea is no more and I am thankful to be on dirt again, moving fast through the glacially-fed forest. 
We give rides to two hikers who couldn't make it up the access road because of an avalanche slide and are again thankful to return to civilization- at least for the time being.

I spoke with my mom the next day- today, actually, between shifts at work. After a hefty scolding, I tell her that I am 23, 6 feet tall and bulletproof. She dismantles me quickly however, and reminds me that I am not in fact 23, but 22.. That I am not quite six feet tall but 5'11". This leaves the "bulletproof" sections about as suspect as two college students eating salads out on a Winco bench at Northtowne. 

Picking up where Chile left off.


The dust has settled after returning from a rather cold, yet refreshingly epic country known as Chile.

2010 and I am now a graduate from the University of Nevada, Reno. I am one of many, many people looking for real work in a recovering economical mudslide.

"My dad never went to college, so it was real important that I go.

So I graduate, I call him up long distance, I say "Dad, now what?" He says, "Get a job."

Now I'm 25, make my yearly call again. I say Dad, "Now what?" He says, "I don't know, get married."

...I can't get married, I'm a 30 year old boy."

-Tyler Durden, Fight Club

It's kind of funny. Coming from a smaller town, the general consensus was that going to college pretty much guaranteed you a job whenever/however you finished. Sure, you're not gunna be a doctor or a lawyer fresh out with a 4-year, but you know, it'll get ya something that'll afford you the things you're supposed to have when you're truly "grown up."


Clean Car




What a joke. Free will dictates that we have the ability to make decisions and act out in accordance to our own wishes, free of influence. This definition, for better or for worse, is a far cry from actual "free will." The vast spectral campus of free will both you and I experience is cropped to fit the picture of conformity: Laws limit expression. Rules keep us within dictated parameters. But maybe I'm being another self-entitled Generation 'Y' graduate- bitter without a job- bitter without insurance.

I digress.

Thing is, the blog is back. Couldn't tell you where it's gunna go or what it's going to say, but it's the truth. It's the garbage that circulates through my head and it's the law that governs my behavior.

I dig adventure. I dig ranting.

You'll see.