Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Hi Friends!

Just wanted to give a small update on my travels. I am currently in Sevilla, Spain dealing with the culture shock of big city hustle and bustle versus the High Atlas (beautiful mountain range in Morocco) lifestyle I have been enjoying the past week or so. I am safe and psyched and have a ton of great blog material (writing, video, and pictures) coming your way next week when I arrive home. The highlight of my trip has been new friendships made with Berber friends (Morocco´s original inhabitants, many of whom live a nomadic lifestyle in the deserts and mountains of their beautiful country). I am already salivating at the thought of a trip next winter to connect with them and climb on the gigantic, dusty red walls of their homeland. The climbing has been great of course, both in Spain and Morocco. I have enjoyed focusing on sport climbing, a style I literally never practice these days. Five years as a Cascade Slogger (a label introduced by my Cali rock crushing friends) didn´t help me send 8a, but I did manage to onsight 5.12 fairly consistently, proving to myself that I am reaching my goal of being a well rounded alpinist.

Now, Jessica, Rigel, and I are spending a few days sightseeing and relaxing (we should be on the beaches of Portugal tomorrow) before our flight to the States April 8. Can´t wait to get home and back into the mountains...alpine ice anyone? See ya soon!

Winter of Discontent

Being an athlete is not always easy. The pressure, the restlessness, and the drive (all self imposed) constantly spur us towards future goals. At times this cycle is gratifying, our success building confidence and leading to more inspiring endevours. But there are also the dry times, when we fall short of our expectations and no matter how bad we want it, we don't send.
2009 was one of the best years I've ever had climbing until a cold night out froze Cole's toes and sent me into personal crisis. I felt lost in my ambition, charging into the mountains only to be gripped with fear. Even though 2009 was a year for sending, it was also spicy. A flake of rock fell off Dragons Of Eden, shattering into dozens of granite missles that obliterated our lead line and nearly did the same to my head. A fifty foot fall below the Burkett Needle threatened my life within hours of arriving in Alaska. And then there was Cole's frostbite.

Raymond Cole Allen, for those of you who don't know him, defines the word beast. His strength seems super human due to endless positive phsych and a deep love for the mountains no matter what they're serving up. It also doesn't hurt that he's 200 pounds of pure muscle.

In the past few years I've done some wonderful climbs with Cole, summits that may not have been reached without him. Since the eighth grade we have shared friendship and intense passion for all mediums of climbing. If anyone understands what I feel when I look towards the mountains Cole does. Niether of us has ever fought that magnetic pull, unwavering devotion to the sport defining our lives. One joy we shared the last few years is the discovery of winter climbing. Frigid temps, short days, and hard climbing demand intense motivation. We have grown to love this style, our endless psyche funnled into upward movement in an icy, beautiful world. The anciness that we feel at the crags or boulders has no place here. We never have to wait our turn and we love moving in the mountains for hours on end. When Cole's toes blackened with cold injury our dreams for 2010 were shattered.

Although I still managed over forty pitches of ice and four summits this past winter, it was not with the desired confidence and joy. I felt scared and unfocused, always struggling to live in the moment. I tried my projects, but with little heart, bailing after the approach each time.
Now, as winter shifts to spring, new feelings are breaking the ground of cold memories, reaching towards the brightness of future. My head is clear and my heart is thankful for life and lessons learned. Exciting adventures are on the horizon and Cole's toes are getting better each day. In a life of climbing there are bound to be tough times. I'm glad to have this particular rough patch behind me.