South Africa ’19

For me, international travel is always a journey from anguish to redemption. I tend to be a rolling contradiction of enjoying my routine, yet craving adventure and uncertainty. Struggling with the idea of wandering off far away, yet always grateful for the experience during and after.  Lucky also to have an amazing girlfriend to share it with. We created a trip of a lifetime with Jenn and Lane planning the stays, and safaris, and myself planning incredible climbing outings at Waterval Boven. Our plan there was to pick the finest climbs at as many different crags as possible, and enjoy kick ass “rest days” in the wilds. We kinda nailed it.

We did plenty of relaxed time in between, and the last 6 days planned en-route!

Bouncing from place to place, this ended up being our incredible itinerary.

5-4 fly

5-5 fly, sleep

5-6 Drive to Waterval, jet lag, stayed Troutways

5-7 6p to 10d Jenga, Dead Ant, Doom, Snakeskin Suit

5-8 5p to 10c Red Herring, Im Macho

5-9-12.  4 days of safaris, stayed @ Satari, Lower Sabie, Bergendal

5-13 8p to 11d! Women Aint Trouble, Triffids, Dendrophilia, Moondance

5-14 5p to 11a Madiba magic, Electric Ave, ENDLESS SUMMER!!, Who’s your Daddy?

5-15,16 Blydes Canyon, saw: Sudwalla Caves, The Pinnacle, Gods Window, Wonderview, Mac Mac Pools and Falls, stayed Graskopp @Sherries. Echo Caves, Sabie

5-17 5p to 10d Rainman, Ms Doubtfire, Shout at the Devil

5-18 5 p to 10c Temple of Love etc. Jenns Birthday at Lebos!

36 pitches in all! Free pdf of guidebook

5-19,20 Soweto tour, Mandela House, Apartheid Museum, drive around Jo’burg. Fly, fly

Aside from the amazing climbing I was floored by the history, and culture of the country! The past and future struggles gave me hope for humanity, and the idea of moving past racism. Overall inequality is never close to satisfaction in most societies though.  We have far still to go.

Huge thanks to : Jenn, Lane, Dyonne, Brian and Rondelle at Troutways, Gus and Alex at Roc’n Rope, Lebo’s, and the very welcoming country of South Africa.

Photos are in gallery form, click to enlarge

 

 

 

 

 

Squamish 15.3

I am very excited to have gone to Squamish 3 different times this year!! What a great venue for long routes with low commitment. I can see why so many people are flocking there to climb and live. I hope the town and area handle the growing pains ahead.

I just finished 3 weeks off from work and was frustrated by the weather and lack of partners. I was able to get a great trip to Leavenworth, and finally a great trip with Lane to Squamish right at the end of it.

At the top of the list was Life on Earth on the SW Face of Mt Habrich. We took the Sea-to-Sky Tram which takes you just over half way up the mountain. A few easy miles, then long steep up-hill trail, leads to the split heading to the right in the trail, then the base of the route. Look for a red rope heading up to the base of the climb. The first pitch is very fun with cracks and face moves. The rest of the route has an occasional hard face moves with decent rock the whole way. We were surprised to see many parties up there even on a Friday, but we never were slowed down. We teamed up with the party behind us to double up our collective ropes and rappel the route. Much better option than going down the other way in rock shoes. Thanks to Gary and Elise for the option. Great day in the mountains.

Next up on Saturday was the big prize: Milk Road and its legendary 4th pitch endurance corner. It was wet at the start of the route, but still fun going up the 2nd pitch with its arch and face moves.. but before we knew it, I was headed up one of the best pitches in Squamish determined to on-site it. It got to where it seemed silly to do it in the best style because I got very tired, and the lead took a long time. I should have just hung on a piece of gear, but I was not giving in, and got to the top under what was left of my own power.. The rest of the route was pretty forgettable except for the super crazy 8th pitch. What a wild ride it is, with delicate foot mantles and insane exposure. Once again I was determined to get it clean, and thanks to a great climbing season, I did!!

We topped the long weekend off with Bulletheads East, a 4 pitch romp that has great fingers and hands the whole way up on good rock. I am very grateful to have had such good weather and climb 3 long routes as I am headed back to a work project that will last 12 months with no more breaks. (regular) Life goes on.

Habrich Beta Mt. Project.  cc.com report

Milk Road beta

Bulletheads East mt proj

click images to enlarge…

 

Desert Trip 2015

Nearing the end of my time off from work, I wanted to do my annual pilgrimage to the Utah desert. Next to the alpine, I find the desert to be the most visually appealing setting. I made 2 lists this time. The most important list consisted of possible partners to go down there with. Lately, I have struggled with finding a partner for just about any plan, but a road trip partner seemed almost impossible. I advertised on every climbing site I could find. I found the usual” hey lets meet here or there” type, but I had big plans that required a constant and reliable companion. I had almost given up hope when I received a random text about going alpine climbing. Adam was a motivated and flexible candidate that took to the idea of going to the desert if he could get a few days in Indian Creek. With 10 days at our disposal, I could see spending a few of them at the best crack-climbing venue in the world.

At the top of my climbs list was Fine Jade on the Rectory. Beau and I got blown off the start of the route in’10. It was time for revenge. We got it, but I didn’t pull the crux clean on one of the best routes in the state. The next day we did the Honeymoon Chimney on the Priest. What a great route that is, with an amazing, and exposed step-across to 5.11 face. Back to intense planning. How do I get back into the White Rim road with my Prius? Big $$$ will get you anywhere. Renting a jeep seemed logical, but it did not seem possible to get in, and do Standing Rock, and get out in 24 hours. Given 2 days though we could get in and do 2 towers though. We picked Monster Tower as our bonus route, and nearly regretted it. It is a ferocious climb that pushed us both and got our only 70m stuck on the 1st rappel. We barely made it down with the remaining 60m tag line and sections of the stuck rope.

Standing Rock was the one route I had most desired. It is an exciting and memorable route. Seeing it at Joe Puryears slide show in 2009 was the original inspiration for my desert career. We enjoyed the fear and exhilaration of this beautiful tower. 4 days and $700 (rope and jeep) later we were satisfied with our tower bagging for now.

I had had 6 prior days at Indian Creek, but never got to see more than 2 crags. A lapse in seasonal bird closures allowed us to experience Cat and Reservoir Wall. We ended up doing 12(me), and 20+(adam) amazing routes, mostly in the 11+ range. Adam went on a tear, I don’t see where he gets the energy. My favorite was on-siting Dos Hermanos(11+). 3 great days there, and we went for the tower that Adam most wanted: N Face of Castleton. It had eluded us previously due to cold temps, and nearly did again when we succeeded . Try it when it is warm and get an early start. It is justifiably popular as a climb and descent route.

We had perfect weather and the climbs were fantastic. I am grateful for this because I am about to start a 2 year work project that will keep me from doing extended trips. I am happy for the time off and the opportunity to work too. Hopefully I can find interesting things to write about in the meantime, until then, please share your adventures with the busy masses, and know that it is appreciated. Thanks to Adam, Pro Mountain Sports and Canyonlands Adventures for making the trip possible

Click images to enlarge.

 

 

 

Index. Seattle’s amazing home-town crag

1-25-14 Tunnel Vision ,Angora Grotto. GM to Heart of the Country,  LTW Index w. Shaun , crazy fun 4p.

I have been blessed to live in areas that enjoy great climbing venues within a 1-2 hour drive of home.

Portland, Oregon has decent cragging, boasting 4 areas minutes from the city. Beacon was always the prize day out. The scene and route selection can be cumbersome however. On the day-trip/weekend radar , you always have Smith and 50 other crags to enjoy. Viva l’Oregon! Great place to live for sure.

A huge step up at the time for me was moving to Tahoe and having Donner Summit and the lake environs to enjoy solid granite. Sierras were the standard weekend fair, and seldom disappointed.

One could build a great case for moving to The Vancouver/Squamish area…wish I had done that.

Seattle took time to develop, and continues to a dozen years later. I have well-plundered Leavenworth, Vantage, and half of Tieton. I keep finding myself stunned by the routes at Index! You can’t easily find such a collection of sustained and inspiring climbing. The character of the pitches in the 5.10-5.11 routes suit what I like in a route. I enjoy thought-provoking, balancey, sustained, quality, tricky, and insecure movement. You WILL get that here, and it is humbling at times. Some moves feel impossible at first go. Then there is some secret laser beta you get, and then.. oh I get it. Tough place to onsite., hope you like a challenge. I used to avoid Index because of Hwy 2 traffic(it can be an issue), and a reverse snobbiness about the place. Glad I got over it and can get down to business here again! No wonder the parking lot is always full now, Thanks AAC and WCC for the work on that. See you out there! Thanks for reading.

photo

Heart of the Country,10+, courtesy of Evan

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Its fun to compare the areas and the climbs they offer. My nature is to climb everything out, then move to another locale if possible.  Not gonna be easy at Index. I seem to be fairly entrenched in Seattle for a bit, so its great to have new wonders waiting . Looking forward to some time off work now as well!