Sunday, March 22, 2009

Home Turf

Well, it's been a while since I made a report, but my reasons are valid. I've been climbing like a maniac since I got back home! Leavenworth is currently offering a variety of climbing conditions that I can't help but sample every moment I am not working. The last 10 days it's been ice for breakfast (the ice is gone now) and rock for lunch. Check it.

Max in the morning:

Max in the afternoon:

I also made a winter solo effort on Outer Space. Even after a few successful climbs this winter, I wasn't suprised to fail...back to normal winter climbing in the Cascades! I did my best in full on conditions and that's what counts. It's always confidence inspiring to bail off an icy, snowy wall. I climbed well and got myself out safely. It was a good day. I wish I could have captured the "white ghost" spindrift avalanches that were pouring off the face (and pounding me!). They were very impressive. In the 2.5 hours I was climbing it snowed four inches. Wow!

Another fun outing was an afterwork mixed climb up Eight Mile Buttress with Max. I would guess we climbed about 1500 feet on ice and rock. The features were cool, the air warm, and the ice wet, but we still had fun. Good to practice climbing in all conditions.

And finally, but most intensley was a new route out near Banks Lake. Jessica and I have been tinkering on a beautiful bluff above the lake, cleaning suprisingly nice cracks and enjoying the great scenery. Jessica climbed an awesome crack she had been cleaning with one of the best topout views ever and I made a lead of a route I am calling Scream. It is a very nice, solid mid 5.11/11+ (grades are hard to pin down) crack and face climb. So why the abrasive name? Well, mostly because I am an idiot. I racked up at the base of the climb but forgot to bring THE KEY piece. With the right gear Scream is a very serious line, definetely in the solid R realm, but when I discovered that I had forgotten the saving piece near the top of the climb, I entered X territory. Now, I like to be scared, control my fear, and climb above my gear, but all of the sudden I was in a very serious situation, a bit too serious perhaps. To make a long story short, I screamed in primal fear as I finished the route's last pumpy moves. So if you want to make a repeat, bring TWO green camelots! I hate to make the route seem like something it is not. It does require a certain boldness, but is certainly managable by those who enjoy heady climbing, just make sure you've got what you need.

The climb:

The self portrait on top (funny face, but I was traumatized!):
And the beautiful sunset that calmed me down:

Thanks for checking in!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Nice Day For A White Wedding

Alright, climbing geeks...sorry to disappoint, but this post has nothing to do with the Smith Rock test piece (White Wedding, 13d/14a). My sister got married this past Saturday, an event that was powerfully punctuated by snow, thunder, and lightning. I had been looking forward to the wedding for a long time and it was every bit as wonderful as I imagined it would be.

I showed up at the rehearsal fresh off the plane, bags in hand, Thursday night. I was looking, well, homeless to be honest. Hair all over the place, a beard, and after a day on the plane, I probably wasn't smelling like flowers either. They let me in the church anyway once I convinced them I actually had a part in this (j/ always, I was welcomed with open arms). The rehearsal went well and by the next day I was involved in my own extreme makeover.

Saturday saw me looking unusually sharp, so I snapped a few pics, just to prove I actually can clean up. The picture above is of my self, my dad, and my brother. Looking decent, huh?

The ceremony was short, concise, and enjoyable. I gotta admit, I was busting every button. My little sister a married woman...hard to believe, but not at all seems like yesterday that we built forts, slept under the Christmas tree, and followed our dad through the Cascades on those early wilderness trips.

After the ceramony we all left for the reception, which was an absolute blast. Great people, lots of energy, food, wine, short, very fun. We enjoyed each other's company, danced, laughed, and celebrated Andy and Annika's new life together.

One highlight of my night was seeing my sister's ring for the first time. It was gorgeous, the stone originally my grandmother's, then my mother's, now Annika's. Very special.

What a great evening. I sincerely wish nothing but joy and happiness for Annika and Andy. You guys are special as individuals...with each other, unstoppable. Enjoy your life together guys!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Well, here I am, back in the NW. My trip south was plagued by weather, but it was nice to be on the rock after an extended break to focus on ice and winter climbing. I feel like I have regained a good bit of my rock fitness and am psyched for dry stone and warm spring sunshine. In the meantime, winter still has a few weeks. If the weather allows I hope to try a winter project or two. Stay tuned.

A few pics from the trip:

Zach, twisting those hips in the Calico Hills.

Train in vain? I think not. Mr. Schmid throwing a lap on the woody.

Zach and Kieth enjoying a nice sunset after a day of mining.

Zach on top of the Black Velvet Wall. Everything looks a little blurry at the end of a big day!

This last photo is actually not from my trip, but I have wanted to post it for some time. Jessica doing a little dance mid climb, reminding us of the fun and freedom that climbing can bring.

Thanks for having a look!

A Matter of Perspective

The echo of my breathing bounces off this cracked, golden plane. The fissure forces my movement, but I curve my hips and torque my jams so gravity won't get me. A ring lock and then a solid thin hand let me reach for a lonely edge. I set the left toe jam, flag hard with my right leg, and come face to face with a hand jam. A quick karate chop puts my hand in the saving slot, but something goes wrong. The usual contraction of muscle that allows a jam to work never initiates and in a timeless moment, I painfully watch my hand, and my hopes of completing this line, slip away.

Spinning at the end of the rope, I feel a sort of nothingness. No anger, no happiness, no excitement. The tall, red walls around me seem unmoved by my effort. I gave it all I had, but today my best needed to be better.

On the ground I pack my gear and watch the tie dye sky . It's so peaceful now, here, in this moment. In this temple I find a sort of clarity. The finishing of a project brings joy, but failure can bring fiery pain. I feel neither and I know why. I am still in the middle of this climb, even though I am not tethered to its walls. I have not failed, but rather, have made another step towards success. This journey may take longer than others, but such is the nature of climbing and life. A content smile cracks my face. I shoulder my pack, take one last look around, and step into the darkening desert.