Monday, June 29, 2009

Back In P-Town!

It feels so nice to be home!! Alaska was a major success for Max and I. The only reason we are home early is because we felt that we had our fill of not to get to greedy in the hills. On our trip we were able to make the first free ascent and fourth ascent of Burkett Needle, the first ascent of a mountain we called Silly Wizard Peak (3500' 5.7, 50 deg.), the first ascent (in bad weather) of the west ridge of Mt. Suzanne (named after my mother) (3500' m4, 5.8, 65 deg), and the fifth ascent of Mt. Burkett via the biggest route of our lives, a line we call The National Public Ridge (7000' 5.10, AI3, 70 deg). Although we had major success it was far from the easy trip. In the next few days I will attach stories to each of these climbs. Adventures include large falls while simul climbing, a broken helmet, forcing routes through bad weather, pushing on with little food, sitting out major storms in precarious positions, and tapping reserves of strength that only the good energy of freinds and family can provide. Thanks to all for the incredible support, whether it was gear, prayers, or positive thoughts...a lot went down out there, can't wait to share it with you all. Check back soon!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Spring In The Stuart Range

The last week has been quite a busy one. In addition to packing for the Alaska gig and finishing work at the winery, I have stood on top of a four peaks in the Stuart Range. It's so nice to live a few minutes from the trailhead...the Stuart Range is a great training tool to have in the backyard and I love every minute I spend up there.

After an ascent of Stuart (see previous blog), I worked a few days at the winery before embarking on a Monkey mission to Colchuck Peak. I had always wanted to climb the NE Buttress of Colchuck, a climb that had recieved mixed reviews over the years, but had always caught my eye. To my suprise, this route struck me as one of the best easy routes above the lake. The route finding seemed straightfoward (go the Kearney way!), the rock was incredible, and the feel on the ridge wonderfully alpine. Ryan Paulsness, Max Hasson, and I used Monkey style to send this one...we carried one 45 meter half rope, a single set to a gold camelot, and a few slings. The three of us simul climbed on the one rope together for the majority of the route. In true Monkey fashion we kept it simple, relying on our skills rather than our our opinion, the best way to climb. Perhaps the most special aspect of this ascent
was our time spent on the windless, warm summit. We had brought a bottle of Icicle Ridge wine to the top of the peak. Without a doubt, it was one of the best bottles I have ever had. Icicle Ridge Winery (my employer) in Peshastin, WA, has allowed me to pursue my dreams as a climber and as a human. They are passionate people and I am honored to be a part of their business and to call them friends. To show our appreciation for their support, we put together a video of our ascent which can be found at

Thanks again Icicle Ridge!
After a day spent gathering supplies for the trip north, I headed back up to Colchuck Lake with Sol Werkin. We began the day with a trip up Acid Baby, a nice 5.10 route up Jaberwocky Tower. Although this line does not recieve many ascents, it certainly deserves more. Without a doubt, one of the best quality rock routes for the grade in Washington's mountains. I had done the line a few years ago on a cold, stormy day with Max Hasson (Patagonia training), but this time experienced perfect conditions. What an awesome route. After topping out Enchantment Peak we rambled through firm-enough snow to the base of Prusik Peak where we planned a trip up the fabled Solid Gold. Now, I just gotta say. Why are more people not repeating these routes on Prusik (Der Sportsman, Solid Gold, and anything else on the south face for that matter)? They are truly some of the finest rock climbs in the state. Get out and enjoy these routes guys...they are world class. Anyway, Solid Gold lived up to it's name and I enjoyed every move on this incredible route. The final pitch to the West Ridge is surely one of the best in the beautiful. Sol and I wrapped up a great day with a magical descent back to the car under a setting sun and a rising moon. As always when climbing with Sol, this day was positive, fun, and successful. Thanks Sol!

self portrait at the bus stop in P-town...I work the early shift

Sol dancing through the physical climbing of Acid Baby, pitch two

Sol enjoying solid patina jugs in a spectacular postion

A rope, a rack, and the shirt on your back...Sol on his way to Prusik

Solid Gold, pitch one

The magical descent
So there you have it. Some fun stuff for sure. Max and I embark early Tuesday morning for AK, so no more blogs for a month or so. Hopefully, I will have some great content to share with you when I return. Take care friends!!