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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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Photos of the Chief near Squamish, British Columbia Canada taken in May 2016.

The granite dome dubbed as “The Chief” hides half of its 700m height on a cloudy day in Squamish, BC, Canada.

“Impossible to go on, impossible to descend impossible to stay where he is. […] With cheek and ear pressed against the canyonland bedrock he feels, hears, shares the beating of some massive heart, a heavy murmur buried under mountains old as Mesozoic time. His own heart. A heavy thick remote and subterranean thumping sound. The fear”

-Edward Abbey

The Monkey Wrench Gang

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 year I have been pushing aside and ignoring the subtle yet ever-present and stubborn goal of mine to improve at traditional climbing. My excuses were plentiful; I did not have the time to go out to trad crags to improve, I didn’t have the money to gather up a proper rack, what little trad I have done made me good enough (5.8 leader…) for some basic alpine objectives, and crack climbing hurts. In reality, becoming a competent trad leader is a central and essential skill I knew I would have to learn if I were ever to achieve my larger, long-term and more complex goal of becoming a strong and well-versed rock climbing goddess. (Okay, maybe not a goddess.. but just a half decent all-around climber). I want to be able to ascend a feature using a variety of techniques and skills that could only have been garnered by years of experience on different types of rocks and in different styles. My resumé with sport climbing wasn’t so bad, but was seriously lacking with traditional climbing. The fact of the matter is, trad climbing is the TICKET to the alpine, the ticket to some bigger mountains and objectives, and no truly well-rounded rock climber should lack in the ability to utilize a good hand-jam in a splitter crack. I was scared, though. I was scared to fall on gear, scared to take the leap and hesitant to push my trad grade the way I had my sport grade. As the final month of my trip was approaching, though, I knew I would not be able to call it a success if I didn’t spend a concentrated amount of time exploring and growing in this discipline. So, I got my passport and headed to Canada.

I apologize to any non-climbers who have found this blog, because this is a particularly jargon heavy post.

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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 

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.

Since my last blog post my ventures 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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I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that my spark should burn out
    in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom
    of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time. 

-Jack London

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Unknown climber on “Visions of Impalement (11d)” at the Trinity Aretes

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.

Lately, my ability to squeeze enough satisfaction out of my weekend warrior-ing to keep me content has been waning. Like Jack London, I want to live, though currently I feel as though I am simply existing. Existing between one work day and another, trying to wring out as much pleasure as I can from my brief trips to the mountains as possible.

Perhaps this sounds over-dramatic, but I didn’t always feel like this.  In fact my first month here all I wanted to do was stay in the city and explore my surroundings.  However, those were some strange times while I was battling changes in life that demanded my mental attention. I also was living in Bishop, CA where I was surrounded by endless outdoor recreation possibilities. Now that life has calmed down a little bit and my scenery has changed, the climbing spark has been reignited. I can trace this back, actually, to a series of weekends I spent sport climbing in the Trinity Aretes.

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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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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.

Sarajevo is a city of contrasts, a city marked by both tolerance and neglect.  Tattered buildings still carrying the scars of war sheepishly face modern out of place buildings glowing at night. The call to prayer rings out from minaretes scattered along the city as others enter synagogues or churches. Apartments are kept tidy and neat while trash floods the street. A small limestone crag filled with motivated climbers lies minutes from an ancient bazaar. Sarajevo was my first stop. IMG_2361 Read More

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.

Accidents in the mountains are less common than in the lowlands, and these mountain mansions are decent, delightful, even divine, places to die in, compared with the doleful chambers of civilization. Few places in this world are more dangerous than home. Fear not, therefore, to try the mountain-passes. They will kill care, save you from deadly apathy, set you free, and call forth every faculty into vigorous, enthusiastic action. – John Muir

In Tuolumne Meadows, there are no shortage of routes available to the motivated climber. Three of these routes make up what is known as the “Triple Crown”- Tenaya Peak, Cathedral Peak, and Matthes Crest. All three routes get you above 10,000 ft. for a moderate grade, and all are unique in their own way. The strongest and quickest climbers try to link them up in a day, which is an ambitious task. Emmanuel and I wanted to climb all of them, but honestly thought we would have to pick one or two of them. Well, turns out we didn’t.

Our plan was to head into Tuolumne from Lone Pine, sleep outside of the park and then climb Tenaya on Thursday morning. After Tenaya we planned to try to get a permit to backpack into Echo Lakes on Friday. As Cathedral Peak and Matthes Crest are about 2 miles from another (and both close to Echo Lake), many link the two routes in two days by backpacking to Echo Peaks. This lets you avoid having to hike back and forth and also to sneak in some backpacking in the middle of climbing two classics.

So, in three days we climbed the three most prolific “easy” routes in Tuolume meadows, Here, then, is what happened along the way…

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If I know only one thing, it’s that everything that I see
Of the world outside is so inconceivable often I barely can speak
Yeah I’m tongue-tied and dizzy and I can’t keep it to myself
What good is it to sing helplessness blues, why should I wait for anyone else?
And I know, I know you will keep me on the shelf
I’ll come back to you someday soon myself
Fleet Foxes, Helplessness Blues

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.

The colors are what strike you first when you peer up at Laurel Mountain; a dazzling array of crimson red, slate, brilliant white and dark gray sit in neat horizontal patches like methodically placed paint brush strokes.  At a height of 11,818 feet (3,602 m) Laurel Mountain creeps up above Convict Lake in the High Sierras. The mountain, like any other, is no laughing matter nor is it a walk in the park, but most people come here more for the adventure than for the technical difficulty. There is not a move above 5.2 and most of it is fourth class. However, the route, dubbed “Northeast Gully” asks the climber to contend with nearly 1 mile of vertical gain. Due to its low grade, most people, including us, free-solo this route.

Photo by E. Léger

Photo by E. Léger

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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.

While we had a blast ticking off lots of 3-4 pitch moderates at Lover’s Leap, what Emmanuel and I were really psyched on was going to do long, easy , committing routes that summited substantially tall peaks. Emmanuel already had a bit of experience doing this, but the most intense thing I’d ever done in that category was Cathedral Peak in Tuolumne the prior summer… and I followed the entire thing. So, I had only one way to go- up! (pun intended)

We made a list of routes we thought we might like to try with the help of Peter Croft’s “The Good, the Great and the Awesome” and Supertopo’s second edition of the High Sierra Climbing guidebook.

One of the most classic and easiest routes in the High Sierra is Crystal Crag. Crystal Crag is situated right above the Mammoth Lakes Basin and gets you above 10,000 ft but with very minimal commitment. The approach is way shorter than most in the guidebook (45 min) and there are only three pitches. It can easily be done in half a day. For someone totally new to the whole mountaineering realm, it seemed like a great way for me to get my feet wet.

View of the Mammoth Lakes Basin from the North Summit of Crystal Crag- check out the white  chunk of crystal rock!

View of the Mammoth Lakes Basin from the North Summit of Crystal Crag- check out the white chunk of crystal rock!

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