Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Stuart Range Link

Yesterday Mike Schaefer and I completed the "short" version of a larger project I have been contemplating the last few weeks. Originally, the idea was to climb Dragons of Eden, the West Face of Colchuck Balanced Rock, and Der Sportsman on Prusik Peak. Of course, I wanted to use only hands and feet for upward movement. The sheer volume of the day and a few unknowns led to a decision to scale things back a bit. In retrospect, with a reworking of the approach, Mike and I were totally capable of the master link, but regardless, yesterday was fun and challenging.

The day began at 5:40 AM and right from the start we were pushing ourselves to move quickly. So quickly in fact that we ended up at the base of DOE in 1:50! We hydrated, took out the climbing gear and started charging up the mountain. About 3.5 hours later we were on the summit. A time check back at our packs showed 12:20 PM. Again, we were surprised to have gone base to base in 4:20. Tactics that helped attain this time included Mike crushing, me linking all three head wall pitches, and us soloing the entire upper portion of the route.

After a short break (10 minutes) we slogged up to CBR. Heat in the gully was energy sapping, but we still managed to keep a decent pace. Although we felt ourselves tiring we climbed as efficiently as possible on the West Face and achieved our second free route in a day! To speed things up on CBR we simuled to the base of the corner in one pitch and then swapped the few remaining leads. A boulder problem to the summit and the double link was done.

At this point, we were seriously considering heading to Prusik. A quick inventory revealed extremely inadequate calories for such a mission. We were willing to abandon Mike's van at the Mountaineer's Creek TH, but the hike out through the night on the Snow Lakes trail would be too taxing we decided. The day had been amazing and we were feeling good. Going further would have been proud, but also would have driven us into the deepest of pain caves.

After deciding we were happy with DOE/CBR, we backed the pace off a bit, sitting at the base enjoying the buzz of such a happy day. Once we did shoulder our packs we started charging. A time check in the talus at the far end of Colchuck lake showed 7:30 PM. We certainly had slowed a bit on CBR, but made up for it on the descent, reaching the van at 8:40 PM.

Although the ultimate goal was not realized, this was a day I won't soon forget. For me, those 15 hours gave a glimpse of whats possible and was a great wrap up of the last few years activities. Thanks to Mike for being the perfect partner. It was a hell of a lot of fun out there.

Finally time to drink beer...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Dragons of Eden: Second Free Ascent

Just wanted to congratulate Max Hasson with not only completing the second free ascent of DOE, but nearly flashing the rig! His one fall was quickly corrected and the pitch climbed clean. Belaying Max on this journey was especially fun for me. DOE is one of my favorite routes anywhere and to watch Max experience its goodness had me giddy.

I really hope people keep climbing and cleaning this line. Buff it up and watch it shine. DOE is one of the best routes of its nature on the West Coast (biased opinion of course). Nice work again Max!

Get some!


This life cannot be faced alone. Companionship, support, honesty, and inspiration keep us walking life's trail with a bounce in our step. Most people, including climbers, gravitate towards others with similar passions and ambitions. The energy we receive from our friends fills us up and is passed on, a positive chain reaction that sparks our imaginations, spurs us into motion, and empowers us through the journey of our dreams.

For the past decade I have lived and breathed climbing. I've walked this path with amazing athletes and true friends. Although I've cherished all my experiences, the past few years in Leavenworth have solidified the core of who I am, as a climber and as a person. With clear desires and the positive willingness to get there, my friends and I are living our ambitions and seeing our goals through to the end.

It is difficult not to improve in this environment. Everyone trains hard, pushes above their gear, and finishes their projects. Unless your careful, its easy to fall off the pace. More than ever, I am willing to do whatever it takes to reach the next level. It may sound a bit competitive, and in a healthy sense, it is. Through failure and success we laugh, try hard, and love the mountains. To all my friends, thanks for paving the way and helping me bust my own chains of limitation.

Find community!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Freedom or Death

Cool breezes through deep shade. Edges, smears, and orange creamsicle granite. Ripples, scoops, cracks, and slabs. Pins, bashies, bolts, and cams. A rugged world of peaks stretching out of sight. Lichen clutching the stone.

The second pitch (5.11c)
These thoughts flood me when I think of the East Face of Liberty Bell. On Wednesday, Jessica Campbell and I completed our journey up Freedom or Death/Liberty Crack. After a cold day last week working through numb digits on small smears and edges, we came back for the send. This time it was T-shirt weather all the way.

Footsy climbing on the crux slab (5.12a). Jessica walking the path.
Max and Sol were a high five away at points, working the free version of Thin Red Line. We enjoyed the scene as if it were a day at the boulders...

Max at a belay, myself following the golden slab.

Max pushing onward to TRL's crux pitch.

With the crux 5.12a slab behind us, Jessica and I sketched our way up a beautiful and bold pitch, connecting the Freedom or Death variation with Liberty Crack proper. Sol and Max monkeyed their way right and out of sight, their own crux hanging above.

Connecting the routes...spicy times on pitch 4

Bon voyage amigos...

The moderate finish of Liberty crack was pure joy. Cool, but not cold, engaging, but not difficult. Their was plenty of time to enjoy the views.

Jessica following pitch 5 (5.10a)