Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Another Year of Adventure

Andy Reger and I on the top of Half Dome in Yosemite Valley.

Another year has passed and it appears I haven't updated the blog since June... My apologies to any of you who (once) regularly checked for updates of the latest adventure shenanigans.  I am happy so say there have been a good amount of these adventures in the last six months and the stories have been steeping in my brain like a deep roast accumulating delicilousness in my french press every morning.  Each day goes on and the inspiration to explore still comes from many angles.  Over the summer and fall I had a lot of opportunities to climb, work, travel, and explore new realms of interest.   This post won't really represent them in any cohesive manner, but at least it may touch on a few.

To start the summer off Andy Reger and I went to Yosemite National Park in California.  This mecca for climbing should be visited by all, climbers or not.  The history is rich in many realms, but to many is considered the birth place of modern climbing. To some it up the place is just radical.  Recently the film Valley Uprising was created to help share some of the highlights of climbing in Yosemite Vally of the last half a century or so. Its a pretty entertaining watch for anyone who is looking to gain some inspiration for those who climbed before us. 

Matt Kuehl leading a steep aid pitch on Leaning Tower West Face 5.7 C2.
Yosemite Valley, California. 

When Andy and I packed up my van and headed towards the valley it was a pretty exciting moment, one that I anticipated for quite some time. I have always been inspired by John Long stories of first ascents, epic failures, and having no choice but to poop it someones kitchen, etc. Ha! There is so much to say, but it's hard to quickly describe the years of mental preparation that went into this trip for me. I guess it just takes a while to gather the skills to confidently walk up the base of a massive granite feature and start climbing without reserve. I get pretty fired up I guess!  On this trip we got to climb Snake Dike 5.7R on Half Dome, The Steck-Salathe 5.10 on the Sentinel, the West Face of the Leaning Tower 5.7 C2, and then one day in Tuolumne climbing the Regular Route 5.9 on Fairview Dome. Some of the routes went easier than others, but we very pleased with our trip.  We did each route in a day and it felt good to keeping moving on such impressive features.  This trip really inspired me and I'm planning another trip this summer.  Goals are focused on El Capitan this time around, and I'm hoping for a route or two during the trip.  Thinking Lurking Fear 5.7 C2 and The Salathe Wall 5.9 C2... but it's still open for change. 

Andy Hansen looks up at our objective on Isaac in Zion National Park.

Recently I headed to Zion with old friend and fellow swillbilly Andy Hansen.  We had our sights on Tricks of the Trade on Issac 5.10+ C2+.  It's a long route, up a pretty impressive sandstone feature with a distinct headwall split but some amazing looking cracks.  We hadn't had to much time to catch up of our wall team work since we live in different areas, but we figured what the hell and went for it anyway.  Climbing anything in Zion is an adventure, so when you have your sights on something you pretty much go for it, expecting unforeseen difficulties, sandy everything, and occasional crappy gear.   We planned to the route in two days in hopes of being able to enjoy our time a little more by spreading the climbing out.  I knew this would add some additional work having to haul extra gear and water halfway up the wall, but was not afraid of the little blue-collar work up there.   The opening 5-6 pitches are adventurous offwidths and chimneys, which is pretty awesome, it just takes a lot more time because the climbing is generally slower.  Not to mention hauling a large bag through a continuous chimney... not excellent but I guess we knew this ahead of time.  We stopped a little short of out anticipated high point for the day, but still set up our bivy and watched the sun go down over the beautiful canyon.  In the morning most of our mental energy was used up, and we were slow to get moving and the thought of a dwindling water supply was also taken into account.  After a little bit of climbing we realized that we had well lost our steam.  We didn't tackle our goal this time, but we did have a great time in the process of not succeeding. 

Looking up at Tatanka 5.10, A2 on the Buffalo Wall, Red Rocks, NV. 

The Buffalo Wall is another wall that has thwarted us.  This is one of Red Rock's most remote walls, and has only 4 routes on it to my knowledge.  Majority of the routes are (or were) established as aid routes, put up in a big wall style, hauling and bringing all gear along in tow.  I only included this photos because I would like to go up there again soon.  As it turns out my aid climbing interests are not fading, but rather still growing. Perhaps this is just the beginning. Getting psyched up for hard(er) aid this year... Big Wall dreams will hopefully be realized with a little help from of those who have been up there before and can "mentor" me on a route or two. I've found it a little daunting to make the transition from "clean" aid to traditional aiding involving nailing pins, beaks, etc. A whole new level of expertise and blue-collar craftsmanship I hope to acquire. More on that as the year progresses...

Tales of the Scorpion 5.10a, A3+. Zion National Park, Utah. 

"Come and get me you bastards!" Zion National Park, Utah.

Kevin Jorgeson in Red Rocks, NV. 
On another note on Big Wall about Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell up on El Cap's Dawn Wall!?  Impressive efforts up there and it looks like they are going to finally pay off with a successful free ascent.  What's equally impressive is how much media attention it's receiving.  Usually the sport of climbing is pretty isolated from the mainstream, probably because there are just too many words and other lingo that just don't translate to the brain of a none-climber.  As an example... trying to explain what "free climbing" is to your average person...  Either way this type of climbing news only occasionally crosses over into the mainstream, despite how massively impressive the efforts are.  It's been funny to read the good, the bad, and the totally inaccurate reports from major media bosses on their efforts.  Did you know they are just hikers? Ha!  Either way... above is portrait of Kevin that I shot in Red Rocks a while back. Ironically none of the portraits I shot of Kevin got selected by the magazine who requested them.  Guess none of them fit the bill.. Perhaps it's more relevant to post one now. 

Andy Reger and I starting off the new year with some high jumps. Windy Peak, Red Rocks, NV.

The rest of this post are just a few images from trips, fun days, good times etc.  Wanted to share a few to share but no need to talk about every moment too long!  I was excited to hit the slopes skiing in Brian Head for the first time in maybe 8 years?   Before that during the summer I was able to head out to Southern California to do some video work.  It was great to get more familiar with the area, spend time on the ocean, and get get my first attempts at surfing during good swell.  It was very summer-like, and I got very sun burnt. 

Winter sky skiing/snowboarding up at Brain Head, Utah. 

Documenting some serious dance moves in Southern California. 
Andy Reger and I getting in on some "surfing" action. Mostly swimming. 

A collection of old Pitons. 

One last note... If you haven't checked out John Long and Peter Croft's "Trad Climber's Bible" make sure you do.  It's a great read and there are good selection of photos from the Matt Kuehl Collection.  It's an honor to be a part of the book, and if you see one on the shelves make sure the page through it at the very least.  Climb on!

Take a look in this for photos of some of my past adventures! 

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