Sunday, August 19, 2012

Summer Update

Being a dedicated climber isn't always easy. This past year has been one of my most challenging to date. Unfortunetely, this is not because of the gnarly, vision-quest routes I have been sending. Circumstance and work have kept me off the climbs that I had dreamed of completing this summer.

I came back from the Alaska Range, driven to find what I missed on Denali; a deep, mindblowing adventure. Sure, testing out the high altitude game was fascinating and I really enjoyed the powerful beauty of that high summit, but a nagging dissapointment lingered on the flight home. I immediatly began making plans for the longest and hardest objectives I could find in the Cascades. When I'm not pushing my limits, a void settles in. I become restless. I become obsessive.

Now, a few months later, that fleeting mega-climb still hasn't occurred. I think I'm getting the picture. Sometimes you have to let things go. My desire is intense, so I often force objectives. This summer has taught me to balance my drive with patient waiting for the correct variables. On a hard route everything has to come together perfectly. Also, it's important to remember that one reason for not reaching my goals is that they are extremeley difficult and dependent upon conditions. Even if I do not succeed on any of those missions this summer, I can still rest assured that I shot for the stars.
Jess about to hike some wet and wide 5.10

Although my big objectives have not materielized yet, I have been getting out into the Cascades fairly often. I took a trip up the NE buttress of Johannesburg and climbed the Entiat Ice Fall on Mt. Maude. Besides that, my climbs have been local affairs.
Jess on Acid Baby's second crux pitch

One of my most memorable trips of the season, was a lap up Acid Baby with Jessica Campbell. I've been climbing with Jess for a long time and am totally blown away by her bad-assness. She ropegunned me up AB, handling wet, wide 5.10 with ease. She led her pitches with as much, or more effeciency than most people I get to climb with. It was impressive. Whether it's a double digit boulder problem, 5.12 at the crag, or physical, wet crack climbing in the moutains, Jess moves with a steady confidence.
The weather moved in as Jess traveresed the final knife edge ridge...beautiful!

Our day on Acid Baby was full of wild weather. The clouds and chilly air added to the alpine ambiance and were more welcome than the usual heat of Stuart Range summers.

Psyched on the summit of Acid Baby!

The next adventure took Dave, Ryan, and I up Crystal Lake Tower via an obscure 2,000 foot ridge. This feature is best approached from Ingalls Creek and is invisible from nearly every vantage point. This is a hidden gem that more folks should climb, especially after they've ticked the Full North Ridge Stuart and the Backbone on Dragontail. The climbing was awesome, with great views of the Nightmare Needles and the deserts beyond.
Ryan mid-route on the Crystal Lake Tower
Myself leading on CLT

Finally, I made the first solo ascent of Dragons of Eden on Dragontail Peak. I completed the climb in preperation for a one of my "big" goals of the summer, so it was really just an opportunity to hone in some systems. It was a hard day, made a bit rougher by a stomach ailment I am blaming on a local mexican resteraunt. It wasn't the nausea that provided the greatest challenge though. Carrying all of your gear to the base, climbing each roped pitch twice, making sure to not trundle loose blocks on yourself while climbing/rapping/jugging, and free soloing over mid-fith terrain with a heavy load for 1500 feet added significant spice. I was excited to climb such cool route alone, and I hope I can take what I learned to another ambitious project. I'm not gonna force it, but I might get something done this summer after all!!
Summit shot after soloing Dragons of Eden