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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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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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IMG_2689Note: 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.

What to do during our last day in Croatia was a topic of considerable debate. Should we go for something big and hard, or would we be too tired to make it safely to the airport early the next morning? Taking it easy posed the risk of squandering what very likely would be out last opportunity to climb in Paklenica. Ah, the tough problems of traveling climbers.

In the end, we decided on a compromise- we would climb a long, classic but easy route. That way we wouldn’t be trashed, could move quickly in order to have the afternoon dedicated to packing and traveling toward Zagreb (where we both had flights out the next morning) but still could feel like we parted with Paklenica in a meaningful way.

On that last day, the weather was beautiful as we made our way for the last time up the cobblestone path toward Anića kuk Kuk. Thirty minutes later we were getting ready below the legendary huge carabiner which marks Paklenica’s most popular route-Mosoraški(6a+, 10c.)

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Photos of Paklenica/Anica Kuk

Debeli Kuk

Generally, I don’t have a big issue taking falls on a (relatively safe) sport route. That is certainly not to say that I have a strong head  all of the time, but I’d say I am most confident and comfortable while on the sharp end of a sport-route. My confidence tends to grow when I find the route inspirational or motivational, so I wasn’t really anticipating too many problems in Paklenica, since I was so excited to climb as much as possible. However, for whatever reason I wasn’t able to muster up the somewhat dismal amount of mental armor I protect myself with while climbing during my first few bouts of sport multi-pitch climbing in Paklenica. Perhaps this is because, prior to Croatia, I associated multi-pitch routes with easy to moderate trad climbing; I never really considered falling on a multi-pitch route, except for the few instances when I lead something hard for me at Lover’s Leap in Tahoe over the summer. Although the systems are essentially the same, having my belayer on the wall versus on the ground got to me; for some reason I had some crazy fear that if I fell, since my partner was anchored to the wall and not firmly standing on the ground, it was more dangerous and something out of a horror story would happen.. AKA  my partner’s anchor would explode and send him tumbling to a tragic death.. Since my principal motivation was to combine my ability to give it my all while sport-climbing with the longer days of multi-pitch climbing, I knew that if I were really going to appreciate this trip I needed to get over this completely irrational hesitance and fear. To do this, I needed to get on something hard.

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Why do I always think I’m training when I run? That’s not it at all. I’m simply easing into my natural state. – Steph Davis

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.

As I laced up my running shoes that Wednesday morning, I reflected that, after today’s classes, I would have only three more weeks left of my undergraduate career. I glanced at my watch – 6:30 AM – and checked the weather. It was already above 60 degrees and the forecast high was well into the upper 90s. Still,  I often managed to drag myself out of bed early to run while the air was still crisp and the sun was not yet too powerful.

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