Saturday, January 31, 2009

Helldorado Brings . . . the Pain

Yet another beautiful January day for some outdoor climbing. I'm starting to feel spoiled! Anticipating at least a semi-muddy day after our recent accumulation of precipitation, I was surprised to find, after a drive to Eldo in clear-blue skys, that dry conditions prevailed. On the way to meet David and Ashley, driving south on I-25 with John, I couldn't help but think about the upcoming season and the treasures that lie in wait while whizzing past signs pointing to Rocky Mountain National Park (if I can give my body adequate time to heal!).

The often heard, and rarely seen Climbqwatchly

With intentions on at least touching "Elegant Universe" and running late, as usual, I was content to see Ashley, David, Autumn, and Sierra next to the Keg Boulders. Having never been to Eldo, I was excited and ready to climb anything (I hadn't yet taken a gander at the Gill Boulder). Unfortunately, David and Ashley's plans weren't spoiled due to a "flexible" schedule, but because on their initial hike up, Autumn tripped and bumped her head pretty hard on a rock, creating a fairly deep gash.

A couple of stitches and another hike, and this is what Autumn looked like. Ah, the resiliency of children. I only wish my tips could withstand pain like Autumn's forehead!

David and Ashley were busy working on the Keg Traverse, while John and I fooled around on some of the "easier" lines, eager to eat our skin. David was diligently putting his time into the "V5" while Ashley wasn't at all intimidated by David's suggestion that "because she had done every other line on the Keg Boulders, Ashley should lap the Keg Traverse." Sandbagging is harder to take when you're the one being sandbagged.

David, working the Keg Traverse
Giving it the evil eye
Ashley "floating" through her laps.

Mid break, David pointed out a Bald Eagle that was taking advantage of the strong winds flowing through the valley, reminding me of my fascination with birds of prey dating all the way back to 3rd grade. While I've seen a lot of wildlife in the 25 years I've lived in Colorado, this is perhaps only the second time I have been granted the opportunity to watch a wild Bald Eagle in flight. In fact, the only other time I can think of seeing a Bald Eagle in the wild was . . . climbing in Red Feather! What wonderful opportunities this activity bestows its participants.

We finished out the day on Chip's Arete with a fun/committing top out.
John working it out.
Having managed to climb a few of the problems, John and I packed up as the wind attempted to usher in our departure. Hiking out, looking forward to dipping our sore hands in the cold water of the stream, John's keen eye picked out this little "gem" of a rock.

I wonder if this could truly be the Volcom stone?

I'll definitely be heading down to Eldo again in the future, though I may be unable to parade past the Gill Boulder, which I had to check out prior to our return to Fort Collins. Some beautiful lines are waiting for my skin upon my return.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Carter Era, Revisited

So, I snapped video of Mark on the highball, Dough Boy, but hadn't had a chance to edit/upload it yet. Here it is for all to gander.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Welcome Black Carter Pt. Deuce

A Classic Kahuna Sunset

What an amazing day. What started as the usual, chaotic, planned trip to climb ended in pure euphoria after experiencing an amazing experience. While it is no mystery that the activity in which I, and many of you who are/should be reading this participate in, is not one of glamor, glitz, or fame, but rather an activity of self-indulgent progression, it was a refreshing reminder to be reminded of that fact today.
Mark, inspecting a next-generation climb.

As I mentioned in my last post, I wanted the Front Range Classic, Kahuna Roof . . . bad. Very bad. I hadn't put a full effort into the problem until my last session, with David Lloyd, but after that day I had been dying to get back to Carter . . . dying. I had attempted to make several plans to get down to Carter since my last visit, all to no avail. Planning on meeting up with my buddy Jordan after several failed attempts, I managed to get a hold of a few friends on the way out of town and the carpool was underway . . . until Mark got a hold of me.
Mark, post proud send.

Dropped off at my car, I quickly described the sketchy directions to Carter for a first-timer (Matt made it!) and went to pick up Mark. Running late, as usual, the journey was finally underway. Not able to get Kahuna out of my head, my quick conversation with Jordan left little hope for a consistent spot on his project as my aspirations for a send were high.
Matt, Tim, and Oscar finishing the day.

Hiking in from the South lot, I was surprised (and winded) when, upon reaching the Kahuna Boulder, I came across around ten climbers. Moments (literally seconds) later, several more people showed up. The debauchery that followed is best described in the photo below. With Ken Gibson, Jamie Emmerson, Andre Di Felice, Sean Drolet, Brian Capps, and several other strong climbers showing up, the action was on!Kahuna Chaos

Back to progression. Perspective is all about relative conceptions. From my own perspective, I worked my ass off to do a problem I saw several people send without hesitation, reluctance, or any percievable effort. Litterally (I'm talking about the ass part). As I sit here writing this, contemplating a tip-devistating day at Arthur's Rock, my muscles cry for me to consider otherwise. But, before I digress to far, I made progress. I worked for a send that, for others may have not been worth the bat of an eyelid, but for me was a collection of swears, sweat, and smiles. To me, this is what climbing is all about; pushing it to the next level, even if it is just your level.
Andre Di Felice pushing progression.

From another perspective, I had the humbling pleasure of watching some of the Front Range's best climbers push their own levels of progression on a project, right next to the climb I was attempting. Sure, it wasn't anywhere near the grade that I had been working, but the progression was there. A climb has existed, a mere 5 feet away from a 20+ year established Front Range classic, that has been simply waiting for the right breed of progression, and still is.
Jamie Emmerson on the project.

We all have our limits. Unfortunately, in a world in which our successess and triumphs are measured agains those of other individuals, it can sometimes be difficult to remind ourselves that life is not a competition to get ahead of the rest of the pack but a challenge to constently progress ourselves; mentally, spritually, physically. Steven Hawking and Albert Einstein probably couldn't hold a conversation with me. Ghandi, Jesus, Buddah, Confuscious, and Mother Teresa, all have evaded me spiritually. And I couldn't even begin to compare my climbing skills with an entire group of people, now extinct, the Anasazi.
Sean Drolet, hanging out.

But, to me, today, it doesn't matter. I progressed myself mentally. Eventhough I was the only one still working on my "project" I stayed dedicated and commited to finishing the problem eventhough mentally I had my doubts (Thanks for the reassuring "just go for it!" Ken!). Physically, I pushed myself and commited to moves that, just a year prior, felt impossible. Spiritually, well, the sunset was simply breathtaking and I couldn't crack the euphoric smile I had plastered across my face.
Mark, enjoying the last moments of sunlight.

Mark had an amazing, proud send as well. Dough Boy (video to come!) What a proud line! Nice send Mark!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Welcome Black Carter

David, dancing with his shadow.

Ashley, David and I had plans to make it to Carter Sunday, though we awoke to "less than favorable" weather. Before Ashley could finish informing me that their plans had changed and that she and David were heading to the gym for a session, my head had already nestled back into my pile of feathers; the faint hollers and yells from a Momentum video providing soothing white noise.Dragged from my return to slumber, Ashley was on the other line informing me that David needed a spot on the Carter highball, Dough Boy. There was a little emphasis on needed. Reluctantly (why, I'll never know) I decided to meet David and together we headed south to Carter Lake. What had started as a dreary, overcast, cold day had turned into perfect climbing conditions. Perfect for a send.
With a sblue skies above us and a breeze against our face, we immediately set up at the Dough Boy boulder. While David clearly had his sights set on Dough Boy, my longtime project, The Kahuna Roof, seemed to be calling to me from a mere 10 yards away. After a couple of attempts on Dough Boy, David and I headed down to Kahuna.Unfortunately, this was the last picture I got of David on Dough Boy . . . before he snagged the send!
After David finished his project, we headed back down to Kahuna, to appease me. For me, Kahuna Roof has been a problem that has eluded my climbing abilities on several occasions. Kahuna Roof seems to be one of the only problems that I seem to consistently forget/relearn beta to.While I have not previously spent a significant amount of time at Kahuna working out the moves, I feel that I've done the dyno enough to at least remember where my feet placements are! After several goes, I started to work out the moves as the temperature quickly dropped. Unable to snag the send, I'm already looking forward to my next trip to Carter to work out this Northern Colorado classic.Me moving to the sloper.
Drop-knee beta to get the side pull.
It was a beautiful day.

Friday, January 9, 2009


HAPPY 2009!
It's a new year. With 2008 ending, much like a tragic comedy, I will be the first to admit that I'm quite optimistic about the idea of "starting anew" and turning over a new leaf in 2009. I currently do not have a single broken bone, my meniscus has mended well, and I'm single, quite a different perspective when compared with the start of 2008. With a patent in the works, a 90% healthy body, and an open mind, I'm looking forward to . . . climbing, of course. While I unfortunately didn't make it out on the 1st day of 2009, I did make it out on the 2nd. Subsequent days this January have been optimal for climbing with the mild winter we've been having in Northern Colorado. Here are some pics from these local outdoor adventures.

One of the locals, Rob, getting it done on the ultra-classic (ok, minus the jump start), Right Eliminator Left.
Me on another Horsetooth Classic, the Right Eliminator Prow. One of my favorite lines at Rotary.
Ben Scott making smooth work of the Mental Block variation.
Ben Scott finishing a climb off the most famous sandstone hold in N. America, Pinch Overhang.