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sport climbing

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Meldicott Dome. “Peace” is visible as the second streak of black granite-to the right of its famous neighbor Bachar-Yerian

Before New Years- frozen in a small cabin in Mexico- I wrote a list of goals for the next year. I split it up into sections – “climbing” , “professional” and “personal.” Of course, because my priorities can be somewhat perplexing, the “climbing” section came first. On the very top of the list I wrote “Touch To Bolt, ” vowing that I would at least try my dream route. In April, I surprised myself by not only trying it but, after 16 days of work, joyously clipping its anchors. Immediately below to bolt, I wrote my second goal- “Peace.”

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Up high on Kings of Rap at Smith Rock State Park. Photo by Micah Humphrey

On my 27th birthday, I woke up buried in my sleeping bag, nestled in my car in the middle of Central Oregon. I poked my head out to see frost building up on every window of my car, yet the sky was clear and the sun was strong. This wasn’t an unfamiliar scene- I had spent many nights this winter and spring in the exact same spot, and I welcomed the cold weather. Cold weather meant more days of climbing. In fact, the forecast for the week looked so good that I organized my work around it at the last minute,  driving down from Seattle by myself to capitalize on what would likely be the last week of crisp conditions that would grace this area for months.

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“Flow- An optimal mental state of functioning in which our skill matches the challenge, action and awareness merge, and we become so engaged in the activity that we have a loss of self-consciousness and time gets distorted. Full stop”

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One year ago today I was embarking on the beginning  of what turned out to be one of the best adventures of my life. I traveled from January through mid June finding myself in climbing destinations in California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon and Canada. I then moved to Tuolumne (in Yosemite National Park) and had an incredible summer, working all over Yosemite  and spending my days off climbing immaculate granite and exploring the wild places of both the Western and Eastern Sierra. In a quite spur of the moment decision, I ended up climbing in Spain for much of December.

Life was good.

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” Already- although she was standing right there- she began to miss this place, she knew she would miss it for the rest of her days ”
– Elizabeth Gilbert, The Signature of all things 

The full moon broke through just in time. Its light pierced through the seemingly impenetrable ceiling of darkness, like a beacon on a lighthouse.  When descending in the dark during a storm, speed is of the utmost importance. Still, I couldn’t help but pause and admire its courage as it shone through the clouds and suddenly illuminated the still waters of a distant lake. A symbol of serenity in an otherwise chaotic situation, my nerves eased.  Hours later, after a demanding, thrilling and downright frightening day on Merriam peak, my partner and I collapsed into our sleeping bags, legs sore but minds content.

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Arrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata) blooming in front of the Monument crags at Smith Rock. By mid April these guys were everywhere.

Note: This is an old post whose content was created for fun, with little to no proof-reading or editing. Please read this post keeping that in mind.

I really thought I botched it. Instead of smoothly locking off to clip the second bolt, I hesitated, used some different hand holds, pasted my feet onto things I had never used before, and then I clipped it. “Shit” I thought. I was right about to embark on the  hardest part of “Darkness at Noon”, Smith Rock’s first 13a, and I was already screwing up. If there was any room for error, that was it. I had to climb the rest of the route flawlessly if I wanted to have a shot at it. The crisp morning had already given way to what would be a warm afternoon, with the temperatures seemingly elevated in the little “solar oven” created by the opposing rock faces on either side of me. “Why the hell am I doing this in the sun?” I thought. Looking up, I saw about 25 more meters of unrelentingly hard technical rock climbing that lay ahead. I shook out on a bad pocket for a moment, refocused and forged onward.

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climbing in lime kiln canyon on Friday March 4, 2016 with Mark Sachs.

The Grail, Lime Kiln Canyon

Note: This is an old post whose content was created for fun, with little to no proof-reading or editing. Please read this post keeping that in mind.

One month down, about two months to go. Two more months of roaming, climbing, exploring and seeking out new adventures of all kinds. While I’m trying to keep a broad “mood” to my trip and not get sucked into any one particular discipline of climbing, I had a hard time resisting the temptation to go spend a week scaling some limestone at Lime Kiln Canyon near Mesquite, NV. Just looking at the guidebook made me giddy- 35-40 meter limestone routes? Slightly overhung with crimps and sloping pockets? Could this be a little Spanish-like mecca of rock nestled in some BLM land along the border between eastern Nevada and northwestern Arizona? I was keen to find out.

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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

Note: This is an old post whose content was created for fun, with little to no proof-reading or editing. Please read this post keeping that in mind.

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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Men come and go, cities rise and fall, whole civilizations appear and disappear- the earth remains, slightly modified. The earth remains, and the heartbreaking beauty where there are no hearts to break. Turning Plato and Hegel on their heads I sometimes choose to hink, no doubt perversely, that man is a dream, thought an illusion, and only rock is real. Rock and sun.

Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

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Note: This is an old post whose content was created for fun, with little to no proof-reading or editing. Please read this post keeping that in mind.

For the past month or so, I’ve been treated to scenes of early dawn light spilling across the San Francisco bay and showering the city skyline in orange hues. I’ve also managed to  catch it set over the Pacific ocean as I pedal my way up the last hill home. This isn’t because my schedule has been changing, but rather because there is just a little bit less sunlight to soak in each day. In one week, we will “fall back” into daylight savings time. The sun will start to set at horrendously early times (though at least morning runs won’t have to be done with a flashlight in tow) and everything may just start to feel…slower.

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Photos in Bishop. Sads.

A typical scene here in the Owen’s Valley; desert scrub, cottonwoods and willows along the Owen’s River and the snow-capped White Mountains only 7 miles away but more than 8,000 feet higher in Elevation.

Note: This is an old post whose content was created for fun, with little to no proof-reading or editing. Please read this post keeping that in mind.

A little less than a year ago, I went on a run.

…I turned around and had to stop to take in the incredible vista that was laid out before me. Instead of the Sierras I saw the sun setting over the white mountains, bathing the boulders littered all over the landscape in a soft golden hue. With my heart pounding and my adrenaline racing I thought to myself this very, very cheesy thought – ” this is it”. I need to be in places like this. And I need to protect places like this. I want to understand places like this; I want to understand the science of the ecosystems that are its foundation, but I also want to be able to interact in them, through running, climbing and hiking so I can tap into the mysterious aspects of these that make me feel good, essentially. And hey- guess what- that’s what I’m doing! I’m studying conservation biology, I am climbing, I am running and I am tapping into the mental game… etc. I ran down the hill grinning from ear to ear.

I wrote that in my blog post Owen’s River Gorge that I published on April 2, 2014.

I am happy to say that less than a year later what I imagined actually came true-pretty literally. In the beginning of November I moved full-time to Bishop, CA after spending the summer traveling and climbing around the Sierra Nevada and in Eastern Europe. What brought me to Bishop was not the spectacular climbing or easy access to a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities (you can basically do everything here except go surfing), but an Americorps position focused on protecting the public lands here in the Eastern Sierra and making stewards out of users. I have been performing a variety of tasks focusing on watershed restoration but also touching on volunteer engagement and outreach. However, I won’t lie; living in Bishop was definitely a big factor in my decision to accept the position. The perks of living on the East Side have indeed been pretty sweet…

P.S.- warning, this is a loooong post. Read More