Fall Photos

I just returned from Indian Creek and the Castle Valley, fortunate enough to witness those two spots after the season's first snow on the peaks above. The week before, I hosted my friend Forest for a few days, and most of the shots here are Forest's, from our trip to the South Platte's Wigwam Dome.

This  week Scott and I met our friend Garrett in Indian Creek, where we climbed for a day at Way Rambo wall (Scott's ringlock skills earned points for onsighting the crag's hardest route, Slice and Dice, while I earned a solitary point for the subsequent TR flash). We all then headed to the Scarface wall, where I lead some fun routes I hadn't tried before, onsighting The Cleaner and Desert Vuarnet (more points) and Garrett got revenge on the classic 'Scarface'. Scott worked 'Death of a Cowboy' (or vice versa) and Garrett made good on his promise to tackle the sustained wideness of Big Guy.

Following this, Scott and I headed to the Castle Valley, where we hoped to link up Castleton Tower, The Rectory, The Priest, Sister Superior, and The Convent in one day. We wanted to start on the North side of the ridge, and walk/climb our way South. The second plan was to start on the South and work North. However, without being able to bring bicycles (I rode the Amtrak home) and without meeting any climbers to help out in a car shuttle, we resorted to starting and ending at one spot and traversing the whole ridge twice.
The Convent (L) and Sister Superior, from beneath The Priest

By 7am we found ourselves atop the ridge, and I began the first pitch of Fine Jade as the sun's rays first hit the Rectory. Temperatures in the parking lot (1000' lower and much less windy) had been well below freezing at night, and my hands were instantly numb. After barely making it through the first pitch without feeling below the wrists, I had the worst episode of screaming barfies that I can remember. I was shouting so much that Scott thought something was seriously wrong with me (well... something new) and he offered to self-belay the pitch if I'd fix the rope.

The instant and seemingly-irrepressible urge to vomit my instant oatmeal/instant coffee breakfast all over the cliff did slowly pass, and I brought Scott up so that he too could have a bout of the 'barfies'.

Garrett on Way Rambo... not the Convent
We quickly finished off the last two pitches on the Rectory, rapped down, and began hiking North. Two or three tedious hours of running/sliding/falling/scrambling along the ridge past Sister Superior Tower had brought us to The Convent, but we only had a vague idea about the location of our intended route, the Power of Audacity. We eventually ID'ed the climb, with Scott this time leading the first and third pitch, while I got the mellower p2. The route was good, but not great, with a tough 5.11+++ first pitch roof flare. The final "5.8 chimney" reminded me of the last pitch of the West Face of Colchuck Balanced Rock, in that 5.8 chimneying was a euphemism for something far more sinister.

After 3 rappels (only one of them off a legit anchor), we high-tailed it back to Sister Superior, where we found that our remaining water, jacket, long-sleeve shirt, and camera tripod had been taken, presumably by a group who day-tripped to this one tower and didn't know we were heading back to it. Crestfallen and tired, we had quick tour up Jah Man before we again found ourselves trudging along the crest's constantly-eroding terrain.

With every footstep slide out from beneath us, it felt as though we were being chased by gravity, and only through continuous forward movement would be prevent being pulled down the hill in either direction. The trick was to sprint between 'islands of security', which could have taken the form of plants, large rocks, or any other rare object that offered temporary stability.

Scott and I seriously contemplated the no-water and no-windbreaker headlamp-ed attempts of The Priest and Castleton, but eventually decided to head down the ridge to camp and re-hydration.


Red Rock Retrospective

I spent about 2 weeks in Red Rock Nevada during this Spring, enjoying the gracious hospitality of my friends Julie and Viren Perumal, and climbing obscure routes in the park with some friends and photographer Garrett Grove.

Check out our article in the November 2010 issue or Rock&Ice Magazine, or read an extended rough draft below. And see some shots at the bottom of the page for an upcoming article we hope to do as well.



My friend Scott made a great little video about our climb of Astro Dog, the first time we'd been to the South Rim of the Gunnison River Canyon.


Brought to you by...

Coke, Office Depot and the U.S. Army... how could I ever drive cars without you?

Lots of folks who write various personal climbing blogs put small logos and ads on the side of their blog, as a way to publicize the companies that give them gear. That might make sense for Chris Sharma and Sterling (AKA the 'Right Rope for Chris!) because Sharma's well-enough known to the new climbers of the world that some of those climbers really might think he sends 5.15 only because his new 9.4 is a Sterling, and not a Mammut or Beal or whatever. However, for lesser known climbers, and less climbing-relating products, the efficacy of such ads is far more questionable.

Does it really make sense to buy sunglasses from Julbo, or Native, because someone with an online climbing blog, even a fairly decent boulderer, gets these sunglasses free and wears them? Does the average climber know the first thing about sunglasses, lenses, UV light, or anything else that would legitimize their endorsement of a given brand of shades? I don't think so. If you collect sponsorships like action figures, then you've obviously got to fit some company into the "eyewear" logo slot on your blog, but I don't think it makes sense for the companies' return on investment. My assumption is that wholesale on sunglasses must be incredibly cheap, otherwise these companies wouldn't keep giving them out without much in return. And if you're advertising for sunglasses on your climbing blog because you really think that it is going to bring customers to that company, I'd hope you are mistaken as well.

But in homage to these less-than-ideal sponsorship situations, I was inspired to compose a summary of 3 sponsorships that are important to me:

The free Wendy's burger boasts an enviable amount of food value.

  1. Wendy's - On the back of every single Wendy's receipt is a form in which one can phone into the 1-800 number, take a short automated survey, and get a 5-digit alpha-numeric code for a free $3.50 burger. It's easy to collect a handful of receipts upon visiting a single Wendy's, these places are ubiquitous, most of the time when I ask they let me get other menu items that total less than $3.50, and the creative among us may realize that there is no way for the Wendy's employee to validate that one's code wasn't made up 30 seconds earlier in the parking lot.
  2. Chase Bank - Chase is always offering all kinds of great things like $150 for opening a no-fees account, and 25,000 miles (AKA free round trip ticket) for starting a new checking account. With no closing fees, it's pretty darn easy to take a free climbing trip once a year by repeating this simple process each 12 months. "...thanks to Chase bank for supporting this expedition."
  3.  US Mint - There are many credit cards that offer a certain small percentage back, in cash, on all purchases. These usually don't amount to very much, especially for the thrifty low spenders. However, the US Mint sells money! You can buy dollar coins, for $1 each, in boxes of $250. Buy a few of these, take them to the bank on your way to go climbing, and you've just made $50 or $60 bucks for a day on the rock, just by swinging into the bank and paying back your credit card purchase -- with the very thing you purchased! Let's see Native Eyewear try to match that.
And to prove I occasionally do real work for money,  you can read an article I wrote about Jens Holsten in the current (Autumn 2010) issue of Alpinist Magazine, and an additional short piece on my experiences working with the magazine.