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cragging

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“Anyone whose goal is ‘something higher’ must expect someday to suffer vertigo. What is vertigo? Fear of falling? No, Vertigo is something other than fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves.”

– Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being 

Since my last blog post my venturings have taken me to a few of St. George’s finest crag, a brief stint in Yosemite, and now to Smith Rock- arguably the birthplace of American sport climbing. Everywhere I go, though, I am trying to maintain my motivation to try as hard as I can, whether that means pushing a new grade, a new type of climbing or just breaking out of my comfort zone to meet new people and explore incredible places. (really , though, I just want to be like all of the crushers I’ve met and “whip off the proj.”)  While on the pursuit of this goal, I have neglected my blog a wee bit..

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Following my partner on the second pitch “Drifting” (11c) on the Jet Stream Wall in Red Rocks. Photo by Harrison Teuber

 

“The fire had burned to coals and he lay looking up at the stars in their places and the hot belt of matter that ran the chord of the dark vault overhead and he put his hands on the ground at either side of him and pressed them against the earth and in that coldly burning canopy of black he slowly turned dead center to the world, all of it taut and trembling and moving enormous and alive under his hands.”

Cormac McCarthy- All the pretty horses

Over the past three weeks I’ve ran along ridges in the desert, boulder-hopped through pristine canyons and slept under the stars. I’ve been 500 ft up on a clean sandstone face whimpering above some gear and took whippers off of pre-hung draws on limestone. I’ve seen big-horn sheep, had a kestrel fly by me on a hanging belay and have walked through what seemed like endless desert valleys flooded with the yellow hue of wildflowers. Above all, I’ve met excellent, genuine people with whom I’ve adventured, shared dinner and sung around a campfire.

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Balmy summer temperatures and breaks from school brought me back to the Six Rivers National Forest for some climbing at the Trinity Aretes. I had only been to the Aretes once, about a year ago (see the blog post from that trip)  Since then I’ve wanted to go back to try some of the harder routes which I had eyed on my first trip. Luckily, my friend Gabriel was as excited about the trip as I was and was willing to ditch work for a 5 day long climbing trip in one of the most beautiful and simultaneously isolated and accessible sport climbing crags I have ever been to in California.

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In 1941 the city of Los Angeles drained the Owens River in the Eastern Sierras  to divert water to the San Fernando Valley and to provide electricity to homes near L.A. Beginning in 1991 a court ruling allowed for releases from the dam to dewater the drained reach and restore riparian habitat, as well as establish a brown trout sport fishery.  Around the same time, in 1988, the first bolted route in the Gorge was put up and sport climbing in the Gorge was born. I had heard several times that the Owen’s River Gorge was the most concentrated sport climbing crag in California and was filled with quality, five star routes; however, with the Gorge being 5 hours away from Davis, I’ve never found the opportunity to make the trip. So, for my spring break I decided to go with my friend Gabriel, a Colombian climber who recently moved to Davis to do his PhD and who was itching to get out of Davis and see the Sierras. Vamos!

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Racó de Misa, Montsant at sunset
Can you spot the climber?

My trip back to Spain started off in a rather rocky (pun!) way to put it delicately. After a very stressful last week of school that involved studying for final exams, frantically repairing all of my apple products that conveniently decided to break at the same time, and shoving random items into my backpack and calling it “packing” I showed up at SFO , ready to put the stress behind me and start on my epic spanish climbing adventure.. part deux.
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IT IS FALL!!! Finally, the best season of the year has arrived! You know what that means, right? It means biking to campus with the goal of riding over as many leaves as I can, blissfully hearing the “crunch” each one makes and mentally tacking it as a personal  victory for the day. It means escaping schoolwork to go to the arboretum or the greenbelt and basking in the perfect light that emerges at just around 6. It means layering in warm clothing  and finally being able to bust out my beanies ( I love beanies.) It means crisp mornings and perfect days.. really it just means a lot of good things, to put it simply. It also means ROCK CLIMBING A MUERTE! !!! Fall is the BEST season to climb and honestly the best conditions  are just ahead of us.

Road cut crag in Donner Summit.

Road cut crag in Donner Summit.

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“Shit! How the hell am I still on these holds? My feet are literally on nothing! I can’t believe they expect me to use this sloper .. though it is sticking…”

My inner dialogue while climbing on granite for the first time in basically a year went a littttle bit like that… with even more expletives. Outwardly, I was climbing awkwardly. I was gripping down way too tight on some holds that looked terrible but had a bunch of friction.  I was nervous, placing and trusting my feet on small crystals or just smearing them on nothing; in other words, I suck at climbing on granite.

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Star Wall at Donner Summit… instagramed!

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