Season Wrap-Up

It’s summer, guys. And if you live in Bend, OR, summer weather is about as bad for rock climbing as…   as…..

It’s bad.

So instead of trying to force things by waking up at 4am to climb a pitch or two, I plan to get some rest for a couple weeks, and then dive into a gnarly training program for the next few months until the fall season get’s the psych up again. I’m stoked. I am quickly realizing that Bend has a lot to offer during the summer months, and I plan to take advantage of the heat this year. I am sitting in a cool and shaded living room as I write this.

2014 has been a pretty killer year so far. I had some pretty ambitious goals for the spring season, and while I did not achieve all of them, I certainly accomplished more than I had hoped overall. I got after it at Smith nearly every weekend for five straight months while training hard mid-week, and was able to redpoint, flash, and onsight a combined total of 20 new (to me) routes 5.12 or harder. I have ambitious goals for the future, and I hope to eventually be climbing that many 5.13′s and .14′s in a season. Even so, this season was a definite breakthrough for me. I have more clarity than ever before about how I want to train to keep improving, and I can’t wait to see what the fall season brings.

For the past few weeks I decided to put all my eggs in one basket and tackle a route at Equinox, possibly my favorite crag of all time. I made several weekend trips in a row (about 7-8 hours drive each way) to work on the thing, and completely exhausted myself in the process. I made some good links, but in the end decided to let the route sit for the time being rather than continue beating my head against it in vain hope for success. I knew the route would likely be a bit beyond me, but figured I was due to really test myself. Anyway, I am psyched to have it as a reference to come back to after training all summer. Hopefully it feels easier :)

I have continued to suck at pulling out my camera. Here are a few from a wet weekend at Equinox. Snail and pup shots courtesy of Kevin. Enjoy!

 

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Snail.

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Pup.

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Kevin with the selfie.

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Me. A successful hang-dog effort on ‘Fight Club’ – 5.13c

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Homies.

Parting Shot:

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So long, 24.

Welp, I turned 25 last week.

I can honestly say that this was the least interesting birthday I have ever had. I woke up congested with a head cold, went to work for ten hours, came home, ate dinner, had a drink, and went to bed really, really early.

Nailed it.

25 seems like a pretty significant birthday as I think about it, having officially forfeited my claim as a guy in his “early 20′s”, but whatever. My birthday came and went without the nostalgia of days past, apprehension of the years to come, or anxiety about life as it continues to pass by rapidly. It simply came and went; just another Wednesday.

I think that’s a pretty cool sign actually. When you truly know what you want in life, and you are already trudging down the road that leads to it, then turning a year older doesn’t seem all that significant…

24 was a pretty killer year. It was certainly a breakthrough year for me as a climber, but more importantly it was a breakthrough year for my understanding of how to continue pushing myself and growing as a climber. I can’t wait to put what I’ve learned into practice. I plan to train harder than ever, and am stoked to see what the next year brings.

Thank you all for the kind birthday wishes. I am so grateful to have such a rad community of family and friends. I love you guys.

That’s all I’ve got.

So long, 24. So long.

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Pebble Wrestlin’

For the past few months my focus has been sport climbing. This season has found me putting a lot of time in at Smith on the weekends in an effort to ‘catch up’ to the years of experience I have with bouldering. So far this year, I have managed to tick off about a dozen routes in the 5.12 to .13- range, and feel like I have momentum to get me through a few more before the summer heat puts a kibosh on the spring season. Even more exciting has been the community I feel like I’ve developed this season. Smith has a reputation for being tricky and technically demanding, and it’s as if the local climbing community has banded together to combat those fickle and onerous routes. It is a cool thing to be a part of. And it makes climbing there so fun!

Despite my stoke, I decided to take a break from the tuff last weekend and make a trip up to WA for some good ol’ granite pebble wrestlin’ (bouldering). I’ve spent a lot of time in Leavenworth over the years, and it still feels like home to me. I always love going back. I drove up with my roommate Adam, and had an incredible weekend with friends, family, and some near-perfect climbing weather. And I finally pulled out the camera! Here’s a few from the trip:

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Best photo of the weekend. Very fun to finally climb this one after all these years. You need a LOT of pads to do it safely, and we happened to walk by at the perfect time to pool our resources with another crew. What an amazing line!    ‘The Ruminator’ – V6   PHOTO: Adam McKibben

 

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Adam sends ‘Tin Man’ – V6  Nice work man! I get to live with this stud, suckers. This boulder lies off the beaten path, but it is worth seeking out. Good one.

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Kevin ‘Treebeard’ Riley. Killing it.

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Got to see my new friend Jen Mercer climb her first V4! Nice work Jen! Way to do it in good style. ‘The Real Thing’ – V4

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Adam learning the moves on ‘Kobe Tai’ – V8

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Kevin makes quick work of ‘Pimpsqueak’ – V9

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Sent this rig! This boulder problem has always stood out as a great test-piece in my mind. Three pure, hard moves. Finally put some time into it this season and took it down. ‘The Coffee Cup’ – V9 PHOTO: Adam Mckibben

Parting Shot:

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Had to post SOMETHING from Smith. Was lucky to have photographer Dearric Winchester snap this one. Unfortunately it was a bit of a heart-breaker attempt, with me falling from that hold in my right hand (notice that it is literally ABOVE the anchor). But I was able to come back and finish it the next day so it’s all good. Thanks for the photo Dearric! ‘Coleslaw and Chemicals’ – 5.13a

Till next time…

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Spring

I haven’t touched my camera in three months. When you are surrounded by the same scenery week in and week out, you just don’t feel the need to capture it, you know? Anyway, no photos, so no blog posts. I am sure that some of you would read a post now and then if I took the time to write, but I know that most folks nowadays are hungry for images. I mean a picture is worth a thousand words, right? That is, so long as whoever popularized that phrase however many decades back actually knew anything about anything. A thousand words is a lot of words! I’m not sure I have anything to share that is worth that many. How many am I at now? 126 words. Not counting that one. Or those four.  12.6% of a picture. We’ll call it an eighth.

I intend to start pulling out the camera again. I may not feel driven to capture the scenery at home, but I didn’t create this blog to be a journal, I wanted to provide some images of the goings-on in my life to friends and family back home who don’t have any other way to see them. Plus, I figure if I practice more I might actually start capturing the beauty of this place and get you all to move down here. Muahahahaha….

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Sending! I was lucky to have photographer Nate Gerhardt (his videos are worth a look) snap a few photos of this one on Saturday. It is so rare to get a good photo of the actual send go! 100ft of thin, technical face climbing. What an amazing pitch. ‘Darkness at Noon’ 5.13a

I realized for the first time this year that spring is my favorite season. Maybe it is just my NEW favorite now that I live in Bend. I suppose that makes more sense. The days are growing longer, the sun is ever shining, but that winter crispness is still present. The combo makes for some damn good climbing days, that’s for sure. There is a sort of relaxed focus in the air as folks gear up for the new climbing season, and I think this is going to be a really good spring. I had a couple false starts as the season got going, catching the flu, and then a weird cold a few weeks later, but am now healthy, feeling fit, and more motivated than ever. I’ve already managed a few successes here in 2014, and have a long list of hopefuls. We’ll see what happens!

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Round 6! – Bishop, CA

Bishop. Year after year, I make my escape down the 395 just as December rears its ugly head and brings cold winter conditions to the northwest. Every year I return to this same old stomping grounds, and every trip shows me how I’ve progressed as a climber, as well as areas that could use improvement. In addition, I get to do a bunch of awesome climbs that were too difficult for me in the past!

This year was very fun. It felt more like a vacation than ever before, and I came back to Bend refreshed, ready to jump back into the grind, and excited to get to work on some ambitious goals for the coming year.

I’m shooting for the stars in 2014. I feel more focused and motivated than ever, and plan to take a new and pretty different approach to training. We’ll see what happens.

Great weather, great climbs, and a really great crew. Miss you guys already!

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Kevin and Nuk. Favorite.
PHOTO SERIES: Will (Wild Bill) Moore

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Wild Bill!
PHOTO: Kevin Erickson

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One of many many many attempts on Acid Wash – V10
PHOTO: Kevin Erickson

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Nanuk!
PHOTO: Kevin Erickson?

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Marieta!
PHOTO: Kevin Erickson?

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Micah giving a go on Xavier’s Roof – V11.
I think this is the only photo I took the entire trip. This boulder is definitely on the life list. Glad we finally checked it out!

For whatever reason I didn’t feel like picking up the camera very much on this trip. Still, I managed to throw together a video that sums up the trip pretty well. I guess it is more of a video blog than a climbing film, but maybe it’s better that way. Enjoy!

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Idaho Mountain Festival – Castle Rocks, ID

Last weekend found me volunteering at the Idaho Mountain Festival in Castle Rocks, ID. Lots of driving, loads of new faces, serving breakfasts for over 200 hungry climbers, and a city of granite mounds and boulders. I love Bend, and the weather is perfect right now, but it was refreshing to get out of town for a weekend and see some new terrain. And it felt so good to climb on granite again! This was my first trip to the City, and it was certainly impressive, not to mention beautiful. The area shines in its moderate trad and mixed routes, but there is plenty to do for everybody. The bouldering around Castle Rock really clicked with me and has me excited for a return visit next year. What a fun event! I recommend it friends. Check it out next fall!

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Get it while it’s hot!
PHOTO: Eric WIlliamson

After a unnerving evening and morning of cold wind and rain, the weather cleared up, the rock dried out, and the climbing began! We made it out for a really fun bouldering session in the Castle Rock area on Friday afternoon. There isn’t a ton of developed bouldering around the area, but the quality is incredible. The Green Wall might be one of the coolest boulders in the country. After some fun and goofy warm-ups near the Taco Cave, we made it up to this majestic wall and worked on an incredible V9 link-up that is now one of my all-time favorite boulder problems. Ryan came through with a send out of left field, and Jesse and I were able to put it together on a return visit Sunday morning. I was pretty stoked to finish that one before the drive home.

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Jesse on the crux of the V9.

On Saturday we all decided to take it easy and check out some of the classic moderates in the City. I mostly stuck to easy stuff, but I did end up trying this gnarly .12a that caught my eye. I’ve done quite a few 5.12′s at this point in a variety of styles, but old-school routes like this one still feel pretty humbling. The route climbed this near vertical scoop before easier cimbing up a headwall, and reminded me (harshly) just how technical granite can be. The crux features small directional holds, and TERRIBLE feet. Most people think Smith is technical, but climbing on the tiny knobs and edges at Smith seems pretty straight forward compared to the featureless friction climbing I encountered on this climb. Needless to say it did not succeed on it, and have very little desire to go back and try it ever again. Not when the Green Wall and Taco Cave are only 3 miles away!

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Driving to the City.

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Me on an old-school (hard) .12a at the City.
PHOTO: Scott Strong

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Peak baggin’!
PHOTO: Eric Williamson

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Ryan peak baggin’! Can you find him?

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So much rock…

We got back from the City just in time for a rodeo clipping competition that might have provided the funniest moments of the entire trip. The first round of ‘how many x’s can you clip from in a minute’ resulted in a show-down between Eric and I, basically ensuring that one of us was about to walk away with a new rope and bragging rights. It was a close battle, but in the end Eric scrapped the win with an impressive 6 clips in 2 minutes. Not bad for a guy who hardly ever sport climbs!

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#6 for the win!

Sunday found us back at the Green Wall for a rad session with the Asana crew. Jesse and I both sent our project, Eric and Jesse both made an impressive flash of the V7 on the Green Wall, we got to see Paul Robinson try and incredible line called ‘Green in the Face’ V13, and ended on an inspiring note with Beau Stuart crushing a crazy dyno problem called ‘Golden Chandelier’ V10. Such a fun session! It almost made the 10-hour drive home feel less horrible…

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Asana crew!

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Blurry send photo! Beau Stuart on ‘Golden Chandelier’ V10

Once again, this was a really fun event, and I hope to go again next year. I recommend it!

For more info: http://www.idahomountainfest.com/

Lastly, in case you missed it, I posted a couple videos of The Super Proj on my videos page here. Enjoy!

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‘Pale Horse’

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FA: ‘Pale Horse’ 5.13c
PHOTO: Eric Williamson

The Super Proj went down! I made it out to the Horse Caves this morning for my 12th session on the monster, and after my usual warm up routine, managed to climb the thing first try of the day. I had fallen slapping the finish jug this past Sunday, and was straight nervous as I shook out at the final rest, knowing 7 moves were all that stood between me and victory. Needless to say I felt pretty thrilled as I pulled over the lip.

Huge thanks to Ryan, Troy, and Eric for doing a lot of the grunt work on this thing. I feel very grateful for all the cleaning you guys did, and for the vision you had. SUCH A COOL CLIMB!

Video to come, and hopefully a second ascent by Eric.

WOOOOOOO!

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High point!

Super Proj Update:

I got out to the caves last night for what turned out to be a really fun evening session with a great crew. Huge progress was made all around, and Eric and I both have the thing in two overlapping sections. It’s looking like another session or two might just bring ‘er down!

We have plans to get back out Wednesday morning, and I’ve got a pretty good feeling about it. Cooler temps, better light, stoked. Wish us luck!

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‘The Super Proj.’

It’s hot. With highs hovering around 95 degrees, the THOUGHT of climbing at Smith is enough to make your palms sweat and your toes burn. It’s time to hunker down and take a long break from the never-ending list of projects on the tuff. Looking back at the past few months of climbing at Smith, I redpointed approximately 70 new routes, with 20 in the 5.12 range. Not a bad first season!

Despite the heat, we are still climbing. We’re always climbing. Instead of cooking in the sun on small pockets and edges, the past few weeks have found us hanging out in a dirty cave, roof climbing on jugs and incuts. I managed to make relatively quick work of the few classics at The Horse Caves, ranging from V6 to V9, and am loving the rad power-endurance style. These lines are steep, powerful, and LONG! 20+ move boulder problems are the norm out here, and make for a pretty great training option, if you can brave the bat poo, broken glass, and gonorr-herpe-syphilitis infested condoms littering the place.

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Eric graciously cleaning up broken glass in The Horse Caves.

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Brent checks out the crux of ‘The Front Seven’.

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Konrad flashing ‘The Front Seven’.

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‘The Back Nine’.

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Eric makes a good link on ‘The Super Proj.’

After I sent ‘The Back Nine’ a few weeks ago, Eric invited me to join him in tackling an incredible line dubbed, ‘The Super Proj.’  This is truly the king line of the caves. With 40+ moves in total, and sustained power climbing the whole way, this thing is becoming quite an endeavor. I’ve had six sessions on the rig so far, including two days working the V7 that it links into and finishes on, and have it in three separate chunks. The link is going to be the result of MANY more tries. It’s difficult to hypothesize a grade for this thing as it kind of bridges the gap between bouldering and route climbing. V11? 5.13+? Who knows. All I can say at this point is that it is HARD. This thing is definitely the most involved project I’ve ever invested in, and a huge opportunity for growth. I get more stoked about it every time out! I will be sure to post updates on our progress in the coming weeks.

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Ron. My faithful companion…

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…with new Oregon plates! Lookin’ good buddy.

Last weekend I made it up to Bellingham to check out and represent EP at the grand opening of a new bouldering gym! With sick walls, fun routes, and 24-hour access, this place is Bellingham’s dream come true. I’m stoked for all my Bham buddies! You guys are gonna get STRONG! Thanks for an awesome weekend.

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Repin’ EP!

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Will pullin’ hard!

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Tuckered.

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Job well done, Vital. Way to step in and do it right. Cheers!

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Punks and Their Birds

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Friends. What would I do without them. I got the chance to see these punks a couple weekends ago and it just warmed my heart. It was great to show them around my new home here in Bend, and sad to realize that, with dear friends and family spread all over the northwest, no one place may ever make me feel completely at home.

Until you all move to Bend!  ;)

Great to see you guys. I’m already looking forward to our next meeting.

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Punks and their shades…

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Punks and their phones…

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Punks and their secrets…

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Punks and a bird…

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Punks and a bunch of birds!

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Love these punks.

As always, climbing is rad, and has been keeping me busy. I am still cranking through short-term projects at Smith, most recently ticking off a few of the classic .12c’s, and starting to look toward some of the harder stuff. I have also been trying to change things up a little more lately to keep things fun and fresh, and have joined some of my Bend Rock Gym buddies for evening boulder sessions at some of the small crags near town. I’ve finished off a few of the local classic V5′s and V7′s, and have to admit that the rim-rock bouldering of central Oregon, while not necessarily inspiring or aesthetic, is pretty darn fun. I’m excited to continue exploring for those hidden gems I keep hearing the guys rave about, and dodge some of the blistering heat more common at Smith.

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Punks and their smokes…

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Haven’t tied that knot in a while!
Gearing up to climb the 5-pitch ‘Wherever I May Roam’ with Abbi.

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Punks and their smiling faces…

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I don’t have much else to say today. Just wanted to share a few photos of some pretty great things. I love you my friends. I am glad to have seen some of you recently, and hope to see the rest of you soon! Take care.

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