Archive for November, 2011

Bliss at The Homestead

Arrived at The Homestead yesterday morning, and we tried 2 times to get Misty the Magic MPV up the dirt road with no success. Fortunately we met Kim, Craig and Tom with a good truck, and they gave us a ride up to the crag.

Limestone cliffs all over the place, and I tied in at the Welcome Wall. Onsight of a 5.7, 2 5.8’s and a 5.10b. Felt pretty damn good. One hang one one 5.10 and a fall on another means I have to come back and clean them up, but got through all the moves so that should be part of a good warm up before we head to another cliff to get Nigel on some 11’s.

Nigel did all the routes I did, plus another 10a and another 10b. Both where way to overhanging and crimpy for me, and I burned myself out completely trying to get through the crux of the 10b and skipped the last 10a entirely. But Nigel crushed!

It made me so damn happy to be able to push on at the limit of my ability on 3 of the routes I got on. And pulling awesome moves on this solid limestone. Super stoked. Rain last night and a low cloud cover made us roll out to Phoenix where we will catch a NHL hockey game tonight. Nigel is super stoked to see his Canucks play the Coyotes for only 21 bucks. In Vancouver tickets are around 200 dollars, so this is a treat we could not pass up.

Hopefully the weather around Globe will improve and we can work on getting Misty up to the crag and spend a few days ticking off all the moderates around, and get Nigel on something that will really challenge him. And who knows, maybe there are some more 10 onsights for me as well.

Things sure are looking up!


Globe, AZ

Sitting in a motel room in Globe, Arizona, and I can’t wait for the morning to come. The decision was made to head down to a place called The Homestead for some limestone sportsclimbing. We got a little topo pamphlet at the Arizona Hiking Shack in Phoenix, and if it is as good as people say on the interwebz, it should be absolutely stellar. Routes from 5.7 to the 14’s. Hopefully we will be able to puch into the 10’s and have tons to work on.

It is a little bit out of the way, so there might not be another update until we head out again. We also got topos for a place in Mount Lemon, and one other place whose name escapes me at the moment. But they all sounds good, so Arizona should have a lot to offer. And the temps are so much better here than in Joshua Tree so far.

And just maybe there is  a NHL game for us on friday. The Phoenix Coyotes are playing Nigels Vancouver Canucks and tickets are only 21 bucks. We just might have to do it in spite of the 2+ hour drive from The Homestead to Glendale.

But man it feels good to be stoked again. I can’t wipe the smile off my face today!

I’m over it

Joshua Tree has been hard on me. Or maybe it isn’t Joshua Tree, but I don’t want to think too much about that just yet.

A couple of days where I have led a few routes, a 5.7, a 5.6 and a 5.4 slab sport, a 5.2, 5.3 an 2 5.4 trad routes have left me tired and a little sad. The lines that look good inspire me mostly with fear, and the routes that don’t have been pretty indifferent. It feels like I want to climb brilliant lines, but not be challenged. Not likely to happen much, and so The Bong (5.4) has been the only good lead of the trip.

I am tired of feeling bad for not enjoying my leads, and for not mustering up the stoke or courage for harder leads. I am tired of being blue and letting Nigel down. I have been a pretty crappy partner for our time in Joshua Tree, and for that I am sorry.

So like our good friend Matt would have said: Joshua Tree, I’m over it.

Tomorrow we’re headed out. Not sure where yet, but probably Arizona, or Red Rocks. And if our next destination doesn’t do it, I’m going to call it. Fingers crossed.

Joshua Tree Blues and breakthroughs

It’s been a while since my last update, and in the meantime I have gone from down in the dumps to a freakish high.

I spent a good day out bouldering with Nigel and Matt. I did 2 V1 problems and a few V0 problems. And I failed on one V0. One problem was a thin slab with the insecure crux move up towards the top. Scared the socks off me, particularly because there was a highstep that I had trouble getting high enough, and with only faint slopers for hands, it felt like I could pop off at any moment. My hands got sweaty too. Funny how that works. Good day though, and I got to send. And that felt good too.

The day after I put in a few hours exploring a formation in the Outback. A lot of chimneying got me almost to the top of the formation. I did so much of it that I actually feel a lot better about chimneys now. They feel secure. So a little breakthrough in that respect.

Then there was a day spent lounging around in the desert heat, before the big breakthrough.

Nigel and I went out to Hall of Horrors. The name alone scares me. Nigel led a 5.7, and I went up as second. And I felt scared even on TR. Makes no sense, and I don’t understand exactly what it is that scares me. But it can’t be falling. Maybe it is the thought of leading these routes that feel really insecure at times. But at least I got on it and got up it.

Next was a 5.8 sport route. Nigel led it, and I went on TR. Guess what? I didn’t feel scared at all. So to recap, I am scared TRing trad routes, but not sport routes. It makes just about no sense at all, and is a frustrating thing to deal with. Anyways, I messed up a sequence, took a hang then finished it in style. Really cool, super thin slabby section at the top.

A trip back to the car to get my sports shoes and we hit another sport route, a 5.9 this time. Nigel did a great job on lead, through a pretty thin traverse, and some awesome moves off crimpers. I sent it clean on TR. But I must admit, I didn’t really feel like leading it. The 5.6 next to it went down quickly on TR as well, and I was starting to feel a more comfortable. But I will say this. Joshua Tree grades are stout.

Hustled back to camp and racked up to go get my first lead. The Bong, a 5.4 crack on the Blob formation right behind the campground. We ran up the slabs to the base of the route, and I racked up. Before I had too much time to think about it, I jumped on it. And cruised it. It is 5.4 and feels like 5.4. 3 pieces of gear was all I put in as well. Nigel felt one was mank, so I guess that left 2. Then it is the interesting and exposed down climb. Sandbagged 3rd class for sure. With an awkward chimney at the end. But I floated down. And I felt alive. It was a great feeling.

So we went to the Joshua Tree Saloon for burgers and I got drunk on cheap whiskey. A day of nursing a hangover, and I am ready to lead some more stuff today. Just waiting for Nigel to pick me up.

I feel a 5.5 lead in my future… 😉

Some odd mental thing

Don’t know what happened, but a few days ago I went out with Nigel and Connor to do some climbing. We went to Hemingway and Nigel got on a route called Dung Fu. I think it is rated 5.7.

After a bit of a cold wait in the shade, I got on to follow. Trailing a rope for Connor. The first part was easy enough, but for some  reason I was not having fun. Then my foot got stuck in a crack and I had to work pretty hard to get it out. Then there was a steep, tight chimney. And I struggled, and wriggled, and flailed, and sent. But I wasn’t happy. In the end the route gave me no joy. And I have sent much worse and been happy about it.

We abandoned the shade and went to climb something in the sun behind the Hidden Valley Campground. The choice was made (not by me) to get on a route called Hobbit Roof. A 10d slab part followed by a 10a roof crack. Connor took one fall on the slab, then sent the route. Nigel sent it first go. Then it was my turn on TR.

I was trying to work the slab, but something inside me made me give up before I even touched the rock. And I just let go. Two or three times. Then I said fuck it, I’ll just try the roof crack. But the same happened up there. I tried to pull, but could not muster the resolve to give it my all, and I gave up without even giving it a good try.

Depressed. Confused. This is what I am here to do. Why am I not loving the challenge of a hard route on awesome rock in the coolest desert, in perfect conditions? I could not tell.

So I called it and went back to camp. Read for a while until it got dark, then I climbed a boulder (a walk up) and sat on top of it looking at the sunset, the desert, the shapes and eventually the stars. Wondering what to do. Wondering what had happened. Wondering what had changed.

There were no easy answers. And my first impulse was to pack up and go home. If I’m not loving this, I might as well head home. But I mulled it over, and over, and over again. And it dawned on me that I needed a vacation from my vacation. Some time of solitude. Because I am a solitary man at heart, and people take energy. And I have been surrounded by people for months now. The cure, a couple of nights, alone, in a motel room, to reset and regain the “people energy” and the climbing stoke.

Nigel drove me to get some supplies and dropped me off at the High Desert Motel, where some famous guy died back in the day. And now I sit here in the morning after 2 days of absolute solitude and isolation. Looking forward to going back to camp. Seeing people again, and most important of all, my elbows seem fine and I want to climb something. That feels pretty damn good.

Now we’ll see if I was right, or if it is something else. Maybe try some bouldering today, that would be a good test of my climbing stoke…

Too much snow and cold in Utah…

So we headed south to Joshua Tree instead. Got in last night, and shared a site with some cool folks. They even fed us in the morning with Gulasj and pastries as they were leaving. After that we got a site in Hidden Valley Campgrund, and got in one pitch before the rain got too much for us. Nigel led a route called Minotaur. A selection of cracks turning into a chimney with big horns on each side. I was happy not to be leading. But I might feel different when it is not raining, and my hands are not freezing.

Tomorrow is another day. Hopefully better weather. Fingers crossed.


Oh yeah, the granite here is almost the same texture as the one in Lofoten. Pretty cool.

Bishop and The way to Indian Creek

Getting out of Yosemite before Tioga closed was our goal, and we scored. Arrived in Bishop after dark, and could not find the free bivvy with hot spring in the dark and ended up in the Pit. Which is fine for 2 bucks a night.

The following day we went to the Sad boulders where Nigel worked some problems. My elbows did not feel up to it,and everything worth doing seemed hellishly overhung. So I watched some good bouldering, and meditated. Getting stoked for the Creek.

The most memorable things though was a trip to the gear exchange. The devil made that place, and I was lucky to leave with my soul. And 2 pairs of pants and a virtually brand spanking new Arcteryx softshell. And then there was the wind at night. I had to get out in the dark when the wind and the tent threatened to go all tumbleweedy. But I tied the tent to the picnic table and rammed down a huge tent peg, and put my pad on the side of the tent that was threatening to levitate. And I spent the rest of the night wondering when the cord would break… Gonna be good to get a good nights sleep tonight.

Morning we headed on our way to Indian Creek because I am just too stoked about it to do anything else. Gotta get spanked and get it out of my system. So we headed over the mountains.

A few pics from the road…