August 27, 2009

A Gentlemans Agreement

Early in 2009, I made the first free ascent of an aid line in Zion called Gentlemans Agreement. This is the crux pitch, it goes at 5.13 something. I was lucky to have Keith Ladzinski take some cool photos (check out his site Yes this is a tips finger crack dihedral. I actually pulled my back out liebacking this section!

August 25, 2009

You did what? Part 2

Jason in the "Batcracker".
Nelson in a tube dropping off into the abyss below.

Jason happy to exit the "Rectangle".

Jason and Nelson not thrilled at the wait to get into the cave.
The punchbowl wall at Lime creek. A mixture of choss and good rock.

So after the river fun we decided that it was time to head out (although I felt that I could remain at Steamboat Rock all weekend). The drive was long and the time was passed with Nelson providing us with many stories of his past years on the road. One of my favorites was the one about him nearly being pronounced dead in a car (he was just sleeping but wasn't waking when some folks were trying).
We arrived at Lime Creek climbing area near Eagle, Colorado late and crashed in another beautiful alpine setting. I didn't rest too well because of the mouse that was scurrying around the back of my truck with me. Unfortunately, he won and I was out on the ground after about an hour of hearing him scramble back and forth along the floor. The next morning we all felt a bit haggard from all the swimming and hiking at Dinoasaur National Monument. It was hot and it took a great deal more energy from us than we expected. I hadn't visited Lime Creek in many years and knew that it was a nice place to check out every once in a while. It's no Ceuse, France, but at least it's not the same old front range climbing. We clipped bolts on some of the steeper routes and got pumped early on and finished with some of the technical vertical slab climbs. The day ended early as the temperatures got hot really fast. In order not to waste time I decided to take the boys on a tour of the Fulford Cave which was just down the road.
The cave stays about 45 degrees year round and was going to be a great alternative to the heat of the day. I prepped my partners for the possibility of some other folks in the cave and as we arrived after the hike, there were about 40 people exiting the cave. By the time we entered, Nelson and Jason were kinda bitter about the experience (they changed their attitude once we started down the pipe though). The three of us cruised through the caves many twisting and muddy tunnels, crawling and croutching and walking and squirming. After they were good and muddy we moved into the Rectangle and I was happily suprised how they greased the tight squeeze barely wider than your hips and shoulders.
After signing the log book and cursing the Boy Scouts who made them wait, we moved through the rest of the cave. The only thing that was a bummer was when we exited the cave. We had left our full water bottles outside the entrance and when we got there someone had taken them. What doesn't make sense to me is why someone would take a full bottle of water from the outside of the cave when they knew that people were still in there. Oh well, chalk that up to ignorance I guess. Those boy scouts still have a lot to learn.

August 24, 2009

Shallow Water Bouldering

This is the first footage of this kind ever recorded. Nelson is about to tackle the rock at the base of Steamboat Rock in Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado. Notice the perfect spot by Jason.

You did what?

Some shallow water bouldering! Jason tearing it up.
Jason and Nelson getting ready to tango on the sandbar.

Me aiding the first pitch.

Carrying some gear from the boat to the route.

Our pile of goodies.

Nelson and Jason filling up the kayak, with Steamboat rock in the background.

Our tent site along the river.
Well this weekend was a busy one that wore me out!

It began with driving nearly 7 hours after work to the upper left hand corner of Colorado to a place called Dinosaur National Monument. We were heading to Steamboat Rock which lies at the confluence of the Yampa and Green rivers and stands a few hundred foot tall. Layton Kor climbed the plum line up the sandstone wall and I was out to free the first aid pitch (hope to free at least). I traveled with Nelson and Jason, both of whom were up for an adventure.

One of the difficulties was the fact that we had to cross the river without getting our gear wet, so we borrowed an infaltable kayak and paddled across. Since none of us are very expereinced on the river it was nice to see that all the water was flat and there were no rapids downstream to wreck our day.

So we arrived late at night and slept in a traquil site along the river under some huge trees. There was a light breeze and thousands of stars in view. As we faded into our slumber, it was easy to count the shooting stars burning up in the atmosphere above because every August is a great time to see space junk getting caught in Earth's gravity.

In the morning, we filled up the boat and crossed the easy flowing 200 ft wide river. Jason and I crossed with the gear and I went back to get Nelson and the camera gear.

On this climb I began aiding up the thin and sometimes nonexistant crack with my rock hammer, pins and knife blades. Each placement getting me a bit higher on the route. It was the first time that I had ever led a hammering pitch and it was kinda cool. I eventually reached the top of the pitch and set a top rope in order to practice the free movements of the route. Unfortunately, Jason and I had good success at the bottom of the pitch, but found that there was not enough features in the sandy dihedral to free climb to the top. I knew that there was a chance that the route would be impossible and I hoped that it wouldn't be but not ever climbing trip is perfect. It was successful in that I learned how to keep gear dry on the river and perform river crossings and that I enjoyed the experience. I look forward to my next river/climbing trip in September in Utah.

After we retreived our gear from the route it was time to swim and have some fun in the river because we were getting crushed by the heat of the sun.

August 18, 2009


Bring It On

Fjordland means bridges over deep glacier carved vallies. This is one of the many huge bridges that we crossed as we headed deeping into the island country of Lofoton. The water is clear and there is a ton of vegetation on the shoreline.
One of the many spectacular waterfalls that we passed while in Norway and Sweden. These things freeze up in the winter and become amazing ice climbing routes just a few minutes hike from the road!

Sunset on saturday at the Cherry Creek State Park outside Denver. I was going to post a nice shot of Jane not wearing too much while laying out, but I figured I shouldn't. But she looked NICE! : )

Her she comes as the thunderstorm builds off to the east of the park. I took this one while roller blading.

Jane and I at breakfast saturday morning. Tasty blueberry pancakes and delicious green chili's on the eggs! I was having a bad hair day!

The past few days have been great. This weekend I was able to climb a bit, go on a long 7-8 mile rollerblade training skate. Even got to good old Costco and saw the world of huge everything. I always wondered where people found those giant bags of flower or gallons of pasta sauce. They did have a wicked meat department though and we bought a bunch of avacodo's mmmm. : )
Jane ran a ton of miles and humored me by biking next to me as we visited the Cherry Creek State park just outside of Denver. We went all the way around the reseviour, past the shooting range, the campground, the radio controlled plane zone, a swamp of two and the marina. Once we actually found the good bike path that was smooth we were cruising and enjoying the afternoon sun. At the end after the big hills, I was very fatigued because I had to push Jane up all the hills on her cruiser. For some reason she didn't mind them at all!

August 15, 2009

jane in training

One of the first pieces of art we saw this year (2009) at the Sweden/Norway border. Unfortunately it was made of styrofoam so we couldnt complete a free ascent!
Jane icing after after a 16 mile run. She really isn't cold, she is just pretending... NOT! And, yes she is wearing her bathing suit. : ) Notice the Ice cubes in the tub.

This is the reindeer that we nearly collided with head on shortly after we got into the rental van in northern Sweden. I kept looking for Santa Claus to tell him that his animals were trippin. Flat to rolling terrain and lots of water equalled the most perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes! We were a bit nervous about not seeing any giant rock walls but that worry was soon taken care of. (more photos and stories to come)

August 14, 2009

Theme nights

What better way to get psyched about doing what you love then by getting those that you enjoy hanging out with together for an evening of fun. This week my wife Jane and I hosted a "back to school" themed movie night celebrating a lucky school related movie for our friends to enjoy. The movie was even better knowing that while watching we were able to snack on everyones favorite school snacks that they brought to share. We enjoyed snack packs, fruit roll ups, chips, home-made cakes, sandwiches, pizza and more. We all left the house with a slight stomach ache, but it was worth it to hear the laughs and see the smiles on our friends faces. Thanks everyone for coming. Now its time to go rock climbing!

August 10, 2009

Fast Times

Andy Burr and I somewhere on the Steitend, Norway!
Mike on "good evans", Mt Evans

Mike crying for his mommy at Mt. Evans.

Piz at the top of the wall before the rappells.

Mike in full pose down looking into the abyss below.

Finally the weather has been a bit more stable around the Denver area.
I was able to get out and climb on the Black Wall on Mt Evans at 13500ft.
"Denver" Mike (as I refer to him) met at 5am to get an early start on his first time on the alpine rock climbing wall. Not really a big wall because it only yields 3 pitch routes, but a real alpine experience none-the-less. When we exited the truck at about 6am the winds were blowing as the sun was barely rising above the eastern ridges. We waited a few minutes because Mike forgot to bring warm clothing. When we began, the wind was ripping. Our first steps were easy as the terrain to the climb is flat, but a few minutes later we were quickly gaining altitude and feeling the affects of less oxygen. Thirty minutes later, we stood at the edge of the wall and were getting ready to rap into the route. It's nice because the hike will make you breath hard but not actually wear your out. Typically alpine route approaches will destroy you before you even get to climb, not at Mt Evans.

On Sunday, I took the time to check out a sport climbing area that I hadn't ever visited called the Monestary. It lies just west of Loveland, Colorado at about 8500ft in elevation.

The schist and granite that makes up the area climbs like the Black Hills in South Dakota and like super smooth and crimpy, blank granite slabs. While attempting to onsight routes you get to enjoy the view of Colorado's most famous climbing 14er Longs Peak. By the end of the day, I had climbed a great variety of routes from steep overhanging pumpfests to crimpy crystal pinching routes. I barely had any skin left on my fingertips and was already looking forward to next weekends adventures.

Enjoy the pictures!

August 7, 2009


the last moves of the crux of Arcturus 5.13+ Half Dome, Yosemite National Park (summer 2007)
trying to stay dry at the beginning of my new route Walking on Water 5.12+ Zion Narrows, Springdale, Utah (march 2009)

This week has been a good one. I got to work with a former student before he headed off to the military. A caving trip was all he wanted before he completed his enlistment and that is where we went. The fault cave in Golden, CO isn't much of a cave but it allows first timers to crawl around, explore dark corners and feel what its like to be in total darkness. Those more adventurous take the extra time to seek out new places and the unknown and those getting their feet wet, enjoy the safety of being near the guide. I have traveled through many caves and have been to Fault many many times and its always a great feeling to bring someone there who has that thrill and excitement pulsing through their mind. Each time that I go through the tight slots and scary drop offs I refill my need to be underground.

I also learned a lot about the lives of the students that I teach at my high school. Each have very different lives and perspectives on how things work. Some have expereinced all that is good and some are still scraping by cause things are out of control. I know how it was when I went to school and either most kids had it pretty good or all that is said and shared today was just swept under the rug. Each day I stand up in front of my students I know that I may be the only thing that is consistant in their life, the only thing they care about, the one thing that they hate most or any other number of influences. But the important thing is that I am here and that they keep on showing up. As long as we both keep trying, things will get better even if they are already great. I am impressed by the stories of those students who step up when their family is in need and offer to pay for food, clothing, rent and car parts. Its examples of caring and love like that help me believe that no matter how things look in the real world and no matter how the youth or adults of the world seem to make poor decisions that things can and will get better.

August 3, 2009

Crested Butte

This is a wall I was scouting at the Black Canyon for new route potential (its about 2000ft tall)
"How you doing?"

Wild flowers at Crested Butte.

Getting my corn on the cob fix.

Great weekend with mywife, brother-in-laws and friends in Crested Butte, Colorado.
We spent the time running, climbing, mountain biking, and watching the duck race during the art festival.

I have some pictures to share. The video is from Long Lake where I did some ealy morning swimming off the rope swing. The climbing is from Cement creek (with Dave and Ali) and the biking from the 401 trail near Gothic.
Its nice to go away for the weekend and forget about life for a while. Crested Butte is the perfect place to find happiness in the mountains and is an easy place to say yes to visit.

For me the whole expereince is what I cherish, the driving, the scenery, filling up the gas tank, sleeping in a new place, and of course the people.