Thursday, December 24, 2009
James killin' it in Rock Roll Canyon. This was his second day ice climbing ever and he's hooked!
We gotta come up with a good name for this flow. It's short, but really fun and I think there could be a mixed route or two out the cave. How about Mini Me?
A couple helmet cam pics.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
We arrived at the upper lakes just as the sun was dropping behind Sevy Peak and the western skyline. If we wanted to get on the route, we'd better hustle! We dropped our loads and boogied up to the line.
I remembered climbing the first pitch years ago; a wide lichen covered crack that gave access to the upper headwall. I also remembered climbing up to a two piece, magic X anchor built with finger sized gear. Mike (my old roommate) had belayed me up to this partially hanging stance. I looked at the anchor, I looked at Mike. I looked at the anchor again. I didn't like the fact that we had only two pieces in, but our meager rack at that time didn't afford us to beef it up and still have plenty of small gear for the route. Uneasy about putting my full weight on the anchor, I set up and belayed Mike as he eased out into the thin line that split orange stone. Mike was a strong climber, but neither of us were in any sort of shape for what we were getting ourselves into. He wrenched his fingers in the first few locks and tried to wiggle in a stopper. After what seemed like forever, legs began to quiver, his forearms rippling, Mike re-racked the stopper and fiddled in a cam. Then he said "take". We looked at each other, then the anchor, then the cam Mike was weighting... the sentiment was mutual. Let's get the hell outta here! We bailed that day, and I hadn't been back... but I hadn't forgotten either.
In fading light with Q snapping photos and Rachel belaying, I climbed the route ground up, cleaning lichen and few loose holds as I went. I rested a few times on gear at the crux: thin tips and next to nothing for feet for 10 feet or so. Then it was into solid finger locks and jams to the top. The route is two pitches. P1 is probably 5.7 and a little dirty. P2 is probably 5.11-; I'd compare it to the 5.11s on the Perch. I'll have to get back next season to clean it up a bit and send!
Thanks to Mike for spying the line and Q and Rachel for making it a reality!!
Photos by James Q Martin
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
This time I used a bit more tact and went to the sand dunes to scope out a riptide to aid in paddling out.
I scored a DOH+(?), macker. I made the drop, bottom turned into a mid face speed pump underneath a hucking lip. I didnt really have a chance to enjoy the view of the lip 5 feet over my head cuz it was only there for a split second (guess i should have stalled instead of pumped). I made an awkward hack off the top to another bottom turn to a speed pump to kick out. I got around to see where i was and saw the small pack of surfers that I started at, they were really far away, like 2-3 hundred yards. I was really amazed at how fast i went, but i did not want to get stuck back inside again.
I looked back out to sea to see a triple overhead steam roller charging towards me, I noodled my arms as fast as possible towards the biggest submarine beating of my life. A visceral tinkling of my worst nightmares spilled into my conscientiousness as i attempted to will my two lactic acid filled appendages into action.
I am five years old again only this time I am not asleep, the monster bering down on me is not a figment of my imagination. Its right there in front of me, rushing towards me frothing its gaping, roaring mouth.
The only way to escape it is to run towards it and go between its legs, only I cant run. No matter how hard I try I just cannot get my arms to move fast enough.
I began to silence the little boy inside of me and prepared to pay for what she gave me.
Friday, November 27, 2009
the idaho alpine club, based in idaho falls, takes a yearly trip to red rocks, a huge complex of crags near las vegas, nevada. the routes here range from 30 to 2000 feet long. almost seemed to me like a combo of joshua tree and indian creek in a way. lot's of sketchy trad routes, aka my favorite kind of climbing. plus, there was no snow! kinda nice after digging my car out of 2 feet of snow and ice up in montana. plus, with trad climbs, you have to take every route on it's own terms, as 5.8 can be the scariest thing you've ever done, and even though you may cruise 5.10 on a regular basis, you may run into sketchy pro on bad rock and have to bail. the most common accidents tend to be strong 5.12/13 gym climbers fucking up on easy terrain.
(photos courtesy of julie g.)
check out my rad shades! i found these on a rock after crawling through some bushes to the base of the willow springs wall. i kinda got lost... oh, and that's bruce, staring off into the magic that is rock climbing.
there were a pair of sketch fest 5.8 routes here that were really fun. or at least, i thought they were fun. the better of the two is a dead vertical route, with no cracks for the first 30 feet or so. all you get is some big huecos and pods to pull on. i hear you can find a shitty cam placement in these pockets... but the most solid piece i found pulled right away when i tested it... so after thirty feet i found a stopper placement that was pretty bomber, not going anywhere. from here i found 3 more iffy to decent placements to protect the last twenty feet. although the climbing was easy, it was a total mind game dealing with the serious consequences of this route, a game made harder when climbing with a large group watching you. definitely not everyone's cup of tea, but i really enjoy it.
tami-loves belaying at the black corridor. a pretty kick ass little crag in a 8 foot wide corrdor. lots of good easy routes.
julie g. steppin it up and placin' pro! leading a 5.4 at the moderate mecca crag. I hear this route was pretty sketch.
the route directly left was one of the scariest slabs ever, with horrid mank being passed off as bolts (as in a steel bar that had been bent into a hook and riveted to the rock, and there was maybe 3 pieces of protection in 80 feet), loose flakes for footholds, and required creative use of stoppers to add some sense of safety.
dunno what route this is, but the climber is one matt L. who is a total bad ass.
later in the trip, matt and i climbed a route at willow springs called "ragged edges", which is superb. no photos as we were the only two there. i took an alternate start on the first pitch that upped the grade from 5.7 to 5.9+, and it was brilliant, best climbing of the whole extended weekend. anyways, at the top of this pitch, after the finger sized crack died out, is a ridiculously smooth ramp that slants down to the right to join the main crack and the second pitch. not gonna lie, it was pretty tough. matt's limit is somewhere around 5.9 or 5.10, and i was belaying him, standing above on the good holds he was gunning for. he totally pulled it! then he went on to lead the offwidth second pitch, which was really just run out face climbing with a few huge cams plugged in the crack.
jesus, hardest thing ever! i have no idea what this route is called or rated (5.10?), but it was hard. it's an off-hands roof crack, that is, it's too big for solid hand jams, and too small for fist jams, requiring some awkward finagling to find something to pull on. at the lip, you throw a heel over, find a left arm bar, and try to mantle up over until you hit a good hold. pretty burly. the last 70 feet or so is super easy, and due to rope drag created by climbing a roof into a slab, i pretty much soloed the rest of the climb.
but yeah, i also saw the strip for the first time. so outrageous. i've been all over to big cities(mostly in europe), and even with all the pomp and circumstance of those places, nothing is like the strip. crazy taxi drivers that can't do math, huge water cannons in front of the belagio, a courtyard inside the venetian that looks like it's outside... so ridiculous. plus i got to see cirque du soleil preform "LOVE" which is all about the beatles. it was pretty rad, but i think if you were to spend that much on beatles' music from itunes you'd get more enjoyment. still though, it was bad ass. tami-loves even beat vegas on the slots at our hotel, 'the orleans'. she totally won two dollars! WOOT!
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
“I can believe that I'm a wizard, that I can do everything with my mind, and I'll be strong as all hell... I just need to be confident.” -Dave Graham
At some point things just click. Specific focus isn’t needed; things just happen. Confidence, weakness, focus, whatever, the brain begins to recognize sequences of movement faster and more efficiently, always looking ahead. When to bear down on that razor edge, reel in, and lunge for that next hold. Pace --rhythmic breathing, anticipation-- comes together, speeding up when the moves are difficult, slowing when they let up, always looking ahead. All parts of the body do exactly what they need to be, “PSAAHT!!!” The difficulties are over, the puzzle deciphered. One last move. Then the mind realizes what is going on. Other thoughts begin to drift in, excitement from climbing through this heinous problem, anxiety thinking that this may just be the day that you send, fear from being so high off the ground... all this swirling round and round, killing your focus, disrupting your breathing, and then, a small error leads to a foot popping off, throwing everything out of balance... you try to correct, but a split second later, you crash into the pads, roll down the hill, and lie huddled in the dirt. Defeat.
This failure is all too common in climbing. Falling is part of the process. If you never fall, you aren’t trying hard enough. Like any orchestration, it’s nearly impossible to play the notes right on the first go. The process of projecting a climb, working it over and over to figure it out, can be the most frustrating yet rewarding experience for a climber. You see, when you do figure out the individual pieces, when you figure out the very best way to do something, when you can finally sustain sound focus, strength doesn't seem to matter as much.
The notes are there for all eternity, and the musician has to unlock them perfectly to make music. There is a path in your mind that shows the sequence, the moves, and what to do to adapt to each movement. When things move perfectly in motion there is brilliance to it. Climbing is a strange game of body positions. A game of engrams, of muscle memory. It’s a game of occupying space, keeping everything together, feet, hands, fingers, core, whatever... you need it all together. There is a kind of fluency, and the climbing language develops. With dissonance gone, harmony follows. It takes a strong body to pull the moves, and a stronger mind to ultimately realize success.
The sun falls behind the mountains, the rock cools down, and you’re back, walking the trail you know so very well. That boulder is still there; this time, it’s revenge. The breathing pattern begins, steadying on the inhale, executing on the exhale.You reach for that tiny quartz crystal. Then the physical disappears. You grab the sharp grainy hold, set your feet, move your hips, slap the pinch, bump your hand again, inhale, then “PSAAHT!!! AHHHAAAH!” Keep it together! pull the lip, and bam! you’re sitting on top just as the last light fades and stars appear. The cadence dies down, the number fades. Victory.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
I've been spending too much time looking at photos, topo maps, and geologic maps of the Pioneer mountains. I put this image together to identify several possible ridge routes up the north faces of Hyndman and Old Hyndman Peaks. I know Dean Lords has spent some time climbing these peaks in winter. I also know the north side of Hyndman peak has been climbed by at least two parties. I am curious if anyone reading this knows more about the climbing history of these peaks and or this basin. You can answer here or contact me off-blog at (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The photo was taken from what I am calling Arrowhead Arete, the west facing 1000' ridge climbing out of Arrowhead Lake. It is a fabulous class 3 to 4 route that we did in a 7 mile loop up Wildhorse Cr., up the Arrowhead arete and down onto "Tilly Lake" and out the Left Fork of Wildhorse Creek.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Today, I lie on the couch, watch Fuel TV, surf the internet and began rehabilitation. I've got a handful of exercises to do and have been keeping that silly mantra "Pain is Weakness Leaving the Body" close at hand! I'm also reading "Endurance", Lansing's epic tale of Ernest Shackelton's survival in the antarctic, which seems fitting.
My phone has been steadily ringing. Thanks to all my friends and family for their overwhelming support! It's a great feeling knowing that people care! Now it's up to you to carry the torch on this blog. Let's hear about your mountain adventures. Otherwise, I will continue to post boring entrees about how I road the bike in rehab or how much bend I got in my knee today! Let's hear it!
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I had a varied and exciting weekend, filled with highs and lows. Things started off Friday evening with the premier of the new TGR flick. We went to the local burger and brew joint, Grumpy's, where we ran into friend Jason Haase and his American Mammal crew (I'm not sure what that's all about). These folks were participating in Edward Schooner Hands, where they had 32 oz schooners taped to each hand and were required to finish them before removing the tape and schooner.
I did not participate in ESH, but felt like I had the following morning! We got up early (barely) and made the trip to Twin Falls (barely) to have the Subaru serviced and do some shopping. We met Ian and Lindsey in Twin and afterwards drove to Murtaugh to check out the crack climbing. I hadn't climbed in Murtaugh before and was keen to check it out. In the last few years the place has been somewhat rediscovered and several new anchors had been added to crack lines in addition to some bolted face routes. We had fun climbing in the afternoon light. The routes are bit short and somewhat broken, but it's the only crack cragging that we have near home. I'd really like to find some columnar basalt thats a little cleaner and taller, more along the lines of Trout Creek in Oregon.
The Dark Corner.
On Sunday I headed down to the Channel with Ian, Joe and Angry. We were surprised to see a number of cars in the parking lot. Turns out there was a good sized group there from Boise and another from Twin Falls. By far the most people I have ever seen at the Channel! Ted Thompson was there and had just injured his ankle before we arrived. He was hobbling around and giving support to his crew. (Get well Ted!) There was lots of talk of injuries, from ankles to wrists to knees. I felt good and fired the "Angry Inch" second try. Next we moved to the North Shore area and began dutifully cleaning the problems that hadn't seen any action this season. I was pretty fired up to get on a problem I'd tried two years ago before breaking my wrist. It has a cool hand foot match in a pocket that requires you to hold it as a mono to make room for your toes. The problem has a pretty bad landing, but we were able to pad it well. After cleaning the top out, I fired the problem third try and called it "5 to 1", as in 5 toes to 1 finger. I did the problem a second time and then we began focussing on the "Dark Corner", a classic steep, hard finger crack. Like "5 to 1", I had worked this problem two years previously and was pretty close before winter came. (For video footage of the "Dark Corner" and the "Angry Inch" watch The Channel Project!) After sorting out the opening moves I was suprized to find myself high up on the problem groping dirty holds and not sure what to do next. As I bailed off, I was concerned about my left fingers, which were buried in the crack. I focused on getting my fingers clear of the crack and not the landing... the ground was further away then I anticipated, and I came down on a straight right leg and hyperextended my knee. I felt a pop... not good.
I spent yesterday at the Dr's office and on the phone with my insurance company. The good news is that nothings broken and my ligaments are intact. The ACL has been slightly stretched, but the Dr is almost certain that wont be a problem. The bad news is that I have a torn Lateral Meniscus. I've decided to have the surgery and get it taken care of now while there's no snow and no guiding. The Dr thinks I should be on skis in about 3 months... It's a bummer, and not exactly what I had in mind on Sunday, but sh*t happens! I just want to get it taken care of and start the recovery process.
I'd like to thank everybody for their condolences and Ian, Joe, Angry and Nat for their help on Sunday!
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Cedar Creek... it's interesting that the Lost River Mountains have so many "cedar creeks", but yet no cedars! Really, they are junipers. Regardless, the new crag has really taken shape this past season. At some point I'll do a guide on here, but for now the Elephant's Perch in Ketchum has a hand written explanation of the routes. We've got about 25 routes up so far and room for another 10-15 more. It's a nice 45 minute hike in, with the option of camping near the routes. The grades range from 5.7 - 5.13, with most in the 5.10 -5.11 range. The rock is of very good quality and features jugs, crimps, edges and the occasional pocket. Stay tuned for information on the area.
Toby, on his project, "Last Tango in Potash" 5.11+. A mixed route with tricky sequences... next time Toby!