Saturday, June 27, 2015

A Great Yosemite Season

Don’t Sneeze I thought as I unclipped some janky tat that skittered back across a slabby face, now out of my reach and gone forever. I was now committed to free solo mode, along on an island of smeary granite. The tat wasn’t long enough to get me to the security of this bomber bolt that was just out of reach. The bolt was only one slab move away and the move was probably no harder then 5.9. I was standing on less then vertical granite and fully trusting the rubber of my shoes. I’ve soloed 5.9 slab plenty of times before, but this time was different. I was two thousand feet off the ground on Half Dome all by myself. I wasn’t truly alone. Some kid in what seemed like another world was looking down at me from on top of the visor waving his hand. Another guy was taking pictures with his smart phone. If only they knew. Why the hell didn’t I just hike up the cables? Why did I choose to be here? WHY DO I DO THIS STUFF! One of two things was going to happen within the next thirty seconds. I’d clip the bolt and be on my way or I’d be in a seven or eight second free fall thinking about who knows what. In that moment though I was thinking about how I shouldn’t have unclipped that tat. Why did this seem so insecure? I took a quick draw off my harness and got it ready in my hand with the gate open and ready to go. I placed my foot on a higher smear, took a deep breath and committed. The rubber held and I clipped the bolt. Safe!

Looking back on the situation I knew I wouldn’t have fallen. I know my abilities and I know my feet don’t slip on easy slab. In that moment though my confidence left and I was forced into that terrifying environment where in mind anything could happen. I made the mistake of not warming up to Half Dome. I had only been in the Valley for a few days and The Valley is a place you really want to warm up to before you throw yourself at the big climbs you came to do. I love Yosemite so much but it has a way of making me super scared sometimes. Maybe that’s part of the reason I like it so much. As my experience in climbing grows I find myself in these situations less and less. My strength and mental focus has grown and I have a good understanding of my abilities. I will always be learning new things as my goals become bigger and greater and Yosemite will always be my tough coach.
As I dangled my feet over the visor of Half Dome I thought again about why I do these things. It was a beautiful day and the views were spectacular. I looked down at Curry Village far below. I was hanging out and drinking coffee down there only five hours ago. I looked at my watch and saw that it was only 1pm. There was still so much time to do more climbing! That’s why I do these things.

Taking it all in on the summit of Half Dome

Making the FFA of The Heart Route a couple weeks later. Mason Earle and I completed this project after a five year effort. Unfortunately I couldn't pull a powerful and height dependent move on pitch 6 but Mason stuck the move and the whole route went free. I went back a week later with Alex Honnold with intentions to free the route in a day. We decided to avoid the cruxy Heart Route start and climb Freeblast instead. This took out three of the nine 5.13 pitches on the route (including pitch 6). Most of the route went super smooth and easy but once the sun hit the wall my body shut down and i couldn't muster the energy to pull the last 5.13 pitch right at the top. Alex crushed the route with only two falls both of which were sent on his second try.    Photo by Ben Ditto

The Golden Desert Pitch photo by Cheyne Lempe

Playing around on The Five Open Books on a rest day. The previous day I had climbed Free Rider in a day for my first El Cap free route. A big thanks to Ryan Evens for belaying me up the whole route! photo by Dan Krauss 

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Brief Account Of 2014

In my last post, a little over a year ago, I had just gotten off a spectacular road trip that went on for almost a year.  Since then I haven’t really taken any long trips. Life has been fun and exciting but I’ve sort of taken a break from the climbing bum life style that I had been living since 2008.  Early 2014 was somewhat boring. I lived in Huntington Beach trying to figure out what I was going to do with myself for the next year. By the end of April I had decided to move back to Boulder which has become somewhat of a home base in the last few years. I had spent two winters there but had never experienced the place in the warmer unfrozen months of summer. It turned out to be a good decision. Every single day I was able to get off work at 4 and go climb in Eldo or Flations until it got dark. And when I say every day I mean it. Obviously the days were warm, but more often than not, scattered afternoon rain clouds would come in and cool things off.  I was living in this rad house up in Boulder Canyon with Scott Bennett. I could literally walk out the door and be at a climbing area in minutes. Almost every day last summer was a day well spent.

Scott and I have this cool speed climbing rivalry going with these two local dudes: Jason Wells and Stephan Griebel. It proved to be the highlight of the summer. For two years now we’ve been fighting for the fastest bridge to bridge time on The Naked Edge in Eldo. Scott and I have climbed it so many times this summer I lost count, but The Edge is an incredible climb you can do over and over again and it never seems to get old. I feel comfortable soloing the route so I would often get off work and go run a lap or two on it. I would even sprint up and down the approach a few times to get it ingrained into my head. Scott and I are the current record holders with a time of 24 minutes and 57 seconds bridge to bridge. It’s an exhausting challenge but extremely enjoyable. I think our record is safe for the rest of the winter but I’m sure that when spring rolls around Jason and Stephan will retake it and the rivalry will continue. Is a sub 20 minute time possible? Probably not…. But maybe.

After leaving Boulder in November I went to Moab for a bit then drove down to Joshua Tree to take a AMGA rock instructor course. The course was pretty rad. I learned a lot of new ways to climb safely, but efficiently. Hopefully now I’m on my way to becoming a rock guide. I’d like to take the advanced rock course right away but I think I might try and save up money first and then take it next year. Those courses are expensive! The hardcore dirtbag climber inside of me wants to blow everything off and just go on another long climbing trip this next year. Strategizing a plan to living a more sustainable lifestyle has been the crux of this last year. I feel like I might have somewhat of a game plan for this next year and if things go well I’ll be able to make more money but still be able to climb almost full time.

I’ll be spending the winter living in Las Vegas. I’m really excited because I’ll be living with some really awesome friends and we have a place lined up that’s only  fifteen minutes from Red Rocks! I haven’t climbed a whole lot in that area but it seems like there’s endless adventure to be had on all those massive sandstone walls. My Red Rocks ticklist is huge! I want to focus on improving my all day endurance while I’m there so I’ll be ready for the Yosemite spring season.  I haven’t been back to the Valley since getting kicked out during the park closures. My psych for that place is so huge and I’m sure as winter continues it’ll only grow stronger.

I haven’t been posting too much in the last couple years and I realize that my writing is kind of vague and uninteresting.  I think I might try and post more often about specific climbs while the memory of that adventure is fresh in my head. Hopefully these photos will make this post a little less dull. 

After work I would often head out to Eldo and climb out the rest of the day. Some times I would rope up and climb rad linkups with friends. My favorite was probably The Wisdom to Jules Verne to The Naked Edge. I climbed that linkup five times this summer. On other days I would go out by myself and solo a bunch of classic easier routes. This photo was taken by Scott Bennett.

 Exciting run-out climbs became somewhat of a theme this summer and fall. In the photo above I'm climbing the route Back In Black on gear. A couple weeks later Scott Bennett referred me to Hairstyle and Attitudes on the Bastille. He had sent the route a few year prior skipping the bolts and placing all gear. A tipped out #6 Camelot protects the run-out crux! Other exciting sends included To RP Or Not To Be, The Spice Tour, Night, Much Slater and a couple nasty climbs on The Rotwand Wall (for some reason). The photo was taken by the talented Rob Kepley

I managed a few visits up into Rocky Mountain NP in July and August. In this photo I'm climbing Hearts and Arrows on The Diamond with Jesse Huey. 

The day was very cold and a little wet. A few weeks later Jesse and I went out to The Black Canyon and climbed this gnarly route called Shadow Boxing. The climb was similar to our Diamond experience but I think it's safe to say that we got our asses kicked a little harder. Type two fun at it's finest.

Maury Birdwell and I made a fun link-up of The Yellow Wall and D7. The day was mostly warm and beautiful. 

I'm excited for my winter in Vegas but I can't wait for the spring. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Highlights of 2013

I’ve been on the road for about eight months now. It’s been an amazing trip. If I wanted to I could bore you with every detail, but I don’t want to so I’ll keep it brief. Here are the highlights (good and bad/memorable).

The massive Zion linkup with Scott Bennett that I talked about in my last report.

Doing the Nose in a day with Nik Berry and then deciding to do Half Dome while hanging out in the meadow after getting down. We got lost on Half Dome and topped out in the dark. We then proceeded to get super lost going down the death slabs but somehow survived and got to watch the sunrise as we got back to the car. A 24 hour day.

Trying to climb Mikey Schaefer’s Father Time route on Middle Cathedral with Eric Bissell. What an amazing climb! We slept for two nights in this old crappy portal ledge that sagged in the middle. Probably the worst two nights of sleep I ever had. The climbing was hard and we failed but it was a memorable experience and I’m glad I tried it.

One day I woke up and had a spectacular time  wandering around the Tuolumne High Country soloing stuff.  I climbed On the Lamb, OZ, Hobbit Book, Matthes Crest, Cathedral Peak, Eichorn Pinnacle and the Regular Route on Fairview Dome. It was one of the best days of the trip.

There wasn’t any climb that stood out from the others for the two months I was in Squamish. Doing the Grand Wall at night without headlamps with Drew Marshall was neat. My time in Squamish blurred together into a summer of fun.

All the vertical face climbing at Smith was awesome. If there was anything that really stood out it was probably feeling like a total hero while walking the Monkey Face High Line in pounding rain with gear on my harness and a rope on my back. No one was there to watch it but that kind of made the experience even better.

I was only in Yosemite for a week before getting kicked out but it was such an awesome week. I was trying to figure out what to do one night in Camp 4 when I randomly had the Idea of soloing Half Dome the next day. I thought I would end up bailing on myself, but instead of turning my alarm off and going back to sleep, I found myself getting up and going for it. Like total idiot I went up there in a t-shirt and ended up suffering through brutal cold winds while trying to figure out how to rope solo on Zig Zags. These poor girls who had been on the wall for three days got their bags stuck while trying to get through the Thank God Ledge. Instead of being a manly man and helping them out I quickly climbed past. Sorry girls, too cold.

I snuck back into The Valley a week later and involuntarily paid $175 to climb the Nose with Keenan Waeschle.

Hanging out with Dave Allfrey in Red Rocks for a week. One day I went and soloed Epinephrine and it only took an hour. By far the best moderate climb I’ve ever done.  2000 feet of vertical 5.9!

Climbing Levitation 29 with Taleen Kennedy and  wandering the desert for hours after the climb because we forgot to bring headlamps. Cactus, cactus and more cactus.

Spending a week sport climbing on limestone in St. George and sleeping in Nik Berry’s dad’s office.

The spectacular calm sunsets of Indian Creek.

All the amazing people I got to hang out with!


This concludes my 2013 adventures.

I didn’t get many pictures of my travels but I managed to snap a few in the later part of the trip.
Sport  Climbing at The Cathedral
Great Fall colors at The Creek


The North Six peaks out of the clouds for a moment on a cold foggy morning.

Amir takes the ride on Disco Machine Gun and comes a few feet from decking
Grease fire at Creek Pasture(yeah I know it's sideways)
The last day at the Creek

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A quick update

So it’s been a while since my last blog update I’m glad say that I’ve done a bunch of rad climbing in the past few months. There isn’t much to tell about my Winter and early Spring in Boulder. I had a fun time working for my good buddy Jesse Huey hanging and taking down Christmas lights. I made some good money and worked with good people but I didn’t really do a ton of hard climbing while I was there. There weren’t really any climbs that motivated me like last year. None the less I had a bunch fun days climbing in Eldo and I still trained in the Gym to help keep my fitness. Scott Bennett and I managed to grab the Naked Edge Speed record at 44 minutes bridge to bridge. It wasn’t really a planned thing when we started the day, it kind of just happened. We also had some fun days where we linked a lot of classic routes on the Redgarden wall. My Winter in Boulder wasn’t as successful as the year before but I managed to make more money and I still has some good days on the rock, so there really isn’t much to complain about.
A rad photo of the Naked Edge I found on Mountain Project

Toward the end of March I decided it was time for me to get back on the road. The temperature in the Moab area look great so I packed up the civic, said good bye to my Colorado friends and headed west. I ended up spending over a week at Indian Creek. It had been a while since I did any hard single pitch trad climbing so I only managed to send one pitch of 5.13 while I was there. I did a few really cool 5.12’s I hadn’t done before. The Desert Shield at Scarface really stood out as a rad climb. I also repeated some of the classic routes I had already climbed before, mostly just to get reused to the sandstone. After leaving Moab I headed further west to check out Zion, a place I hadn’t climbed at before. The plan was to meet up with Madaleine Sorkin so we could try free climbing the classic Lunar Ecstasy, a popular aid climb that first got freed a couple years ago by our friend Nik Berry. It hadn’t yet seen a second free assent so we figured it would be a good challenge. The climbing proved to be super splitter but it was of course extremely challenging. We spent a couple days raping in from the top to try some of the crux pitches and it became clear that we would need more time then what we had to free the route. There was a boulder problem crux down low that became a bit harder after I broke a hold. I believe the pitch could still go free but it would demand some insane finger strength. I’m tempted to go back next season to try it again but it would involve a lot of training on the boulders and I haven’t been to psyched on bouldering in the past year, especially after my numerous injuries. After throwing in the towel on Lunar X, Madaleine and I had an awesome day linking Sheer Lunacy into the super mega classic Moonlight Buttress. I can say without any hesitation that Moonlight is the best free climb I’ve ever done. I love finger cracks and Moonlight is basically 900 feet of solid finger locks. I don’t think I could ever head east or west on the I 15 without stopping by Zion to climb that route.
 Moving through the crux on Desert Shield
Michael Pang photo
Making a fun repeat of Death of a Cowboy
Michael Pang photo

On of those steep pitches on Sheer Lunacy in Zion

Zion is a super good place to do long linkups, so after Madaline had to leave I called Scott Bennett to see if he could fly out from Colorado to meet me so we could try a mega linkup of some of the classic routes. Scotts super psyched on big days but I didn’t think he’d be able make the flight with such late notice, however Scott doesn’t let anything get in his way when it comes to climbing. The next day Scott was in Zion and we were ready to rage. After some brief discussion we decided to try a linkup of Sheer Lunacy, Moonlight Buttress, Monkeyfinger and Shunes Buttress. It was a super exhausting eighteen hour day but it was extremely fun and we managed to do all four routes. Shunes buttress was climbed completely at night but we got it done. I had planned to climb in Red Rocks after leaving Zion but I didn’t feel all the way rested when I got there so I decided to head home to visit my parents for a week to rest up before heading to Yosemite. I’ve been in the Valley for about a month now and I’ve done a lot of good climbing since ive been here but I won’t write about it until my next blog post that I’ll try and write in a couple weeks. I hope you’re all having a good spring season and I hope to see you out on the Rock!


Sunday, January 20, 2013


Just thought I’d check in with the whole blog thing since it’s been a while. The mega road trip I had planned all last year ended up being not so mega as I’d hoped. The Hulk was great and I spent a month in Squamish that turned out so so. I sent a sick trad line called Lake of Fire that I’m super proud of, but after that the weather got kind of bad and I had trouble finding people to climb with. I ended up doing a lot of soloing and bouldering while I was waiting for more friends to show up. I went out bouldering one day toward the end of July and missed the pad on this high ball called Teenage Lobotomy. My foot immediately swelled to the size of a foot ball. It hurt like hell and I knew without question that it was broken. It was clear that this bouldering injury was a bit more serious than the one the previous year on Midnight Lightning. The road trip was over. I would have to spend the next few months recovering back in Socal. A big thanks to my sister Jill for flying up to Vancouver to pick me up and drive me all the way back home to Cali.  I don’t think she was psyched about two and a half days of driving across the whole western U.S in the middle of summer in a small 94 civic without air conditioning. Neither was I for that matter. Also a big thanks to my parents for giving me a place to live for three months while I was in a cast healing.
 A video of someone sending Teenage Lobotomy...

By the end of September I was slowly starting to climb again. I decided to leave California in October and head to Indian Creek to finish up the rest of my trip. There’s not much to tell as far as hard sending goes but the three weeks I spent in the Moab dessert was just what I needed. My ankle still hurt to walk on and jamming my foot in cracks was anything but comfortable, but it’s impossible to be depressed in the calm aesthetic atmosphere of that place. By the end of October I left Utah and headed to Boulder CO. Since then I’ve been working for my buddy Jesse Huey hanging Christmas lights in all the suburbs around Boulder and Denver. My ankle has healed to about 90% and I’m just now starting to climb harder more serious stuff. It wasn’t too much effort regaining my physical strength. I’m almost at the fitness I was at before the injury. However, getting my mental strength back up is proving to be rather challenging. I’m not nearly as bold and sure of myself as I was this time last year. Hopefully by the time May rolls around I’ll have eliminated all the irrational fear I’m currently experiencing on the rock.

The past month has been extremely cold on the Front Range and I haven’t gotten outside climbing too much.  Ian Cavanaugh and I have gotten out a couple times to try the famous Eldo testpiece To RP or Not to Be. An X rated Derek Hersey face route. The climbing is spectacular and the rock is just about perfect. However, there’s only a few spots for thin wires that I don’t think would hold a fall. If it were bolted it would be one of the most traveled 12a face routes in all of Eldo. I cant say for sure but I think the route has only seen two repeats since the first assent back in 87.  Neither Ian or I have yet summoned the courage to lead it yet. I think I’ll be well on my way back to mental recovery after I’ve head pointed the route.

I plan to stay in Boulder for another three months to train and save up money. Then I hope to start a new road trip. I’d like to go back to the Black Canyon for a day or two and then head out to Yosemite Valley to spend the rest of the Spring. I’m not totally sure what I want to do with the summer. I’d like to go back to Canada and then maybe check out the climbing up in the Sawtooths in Idaho. In any case the main climbing goal for this next road trip is to….Stay uninjured!!!

Have a good Spring! Here’s an interesting video of Legendary Johnny Dawes and John Redhead considering the lead on the famous E9 testpiece, Indian Face. It gets me psyched for my personal inevitable future headpoint…

Friday, June 29, 2012

Leaving Boulder

I’m back to living life on the road. Since leaving Colorado I’ve been doing a ton of driving. On my way back to California I took a quick stop in Rifle for two days, where I actually climbed alright. I always imagined rifle would totally kick my ass if I ever went, and it kind of did, but I feel like I fared ok and got a few fun climbs done in the short amount of time I was there. I would have stayed longer but I had very important things to do in Socal such as eating junk food and sleeping in a bed.  I got back to Cali toward the end of May and spent over a week at my parents place where I ate a ton of food and gained ten pounds. I didn’t really care much however as I knew I’d lose the wait really quick again when I went back to Yosemite.

For the second season in a row I didn’t really get anything done while I was in the Valley. I spent a month there and nothing really happened. My Yosemite tick list is pretty much limited to elcap, and finding motivated partners for such a big task is a little hard. It’s also difficult to muster the motivation in myself. The more time I spend on the Valley floor the harder it gets to put forth the energy required to complete an elcap project.  I get sucked into this vortex of laziness. In the last few days I was there, Eliot Carlsen and I hiked to the top and played around on the Salathe Headwall. The position in amazing and the crack is one of the best rock climbs anywhere. The moves came together really quick but the difficulty lies in its sustained nature. It’s about 200 feet long and about half of it is slightly overhanging. Endurance is a must. I thought it would take a lot of work to actually get through it without resting on the rope, but surprisingly I managed to get a TR send of the whole thing on my fourth try. The Salathe might be in the game plan for next fall! I just have to stay out of that vortex! After jugging back to the top I was tempted to drop in on the Nose to try my luck on the Changing Corners pitch but by that point in the day it was simply just too hot. I looked across the Valley past Half Dome and saw the snowy mountains and rounded Tuolumne Domes in the distance. Immediately I knew I’d be leaving the Valley to seek to cooler temps of the High Country.

A neat video of Mayan Smith Gobat climbing the Salathe Headwall

The next day I met my buddy Nik Berry in Tuolumne Meadows where we spent the day soloing some of the classics. We started off by climbing West Crack where we passed Alex Honnold and his mom on pitch two. He recommended a no hands knee bar over the roof. I declined. It was then off to go solo OZ, a route that had been high on my solo tick list for a while. Its maybe the best 5.10 anywhere. There’s a unbelievable corner on pitch three that’s absolutely perfect. Its steep and splitter and it looks like 5.13 from a distance. The positive footholds and bomber finger locks however make it casual. There’s a 10+ face pitch down lower that I remember feeling really easy even when I did it three four years ago. Without a rope and semi blown out shoes however it felt a bit above casual. The bolts became painful monos as I converted the pitch into a 5.9. Nik hiked the pitch in much better style. After OZ we went on to enjoy the beautiful climbing on Hobbit Book. On hike down we confirmed plans to go climb at the Incredible Hulk the next day.

 Some climbers on OZ

The Incredible Hulk!

Nik is one of the best granite climbers I know, and if theres someone to do a big granite linkup with its him. His fitness is insane, and I don’t think he’s ever been scared. We decided to try and link two amazing routes of the Incredible Hulk in a day. First Airstream the hardest route on the cliff at 5.13 and then Venturi Effect a stunning 12+ I’d done with Scott Bennett a few years back. The hike up was beautiful and went really quick. We got to base camp and set our alarm for 5am. It was amazing watching the last golden rays of light hit the white sheer granite of the hulk. If all went well the next day, we’d be climbing the Venturi  Effect’s splitter headwall in a golden bath of granite. We started climbing Airstream at 6:30 the next morning. All went smooth until the first 5.12 pitch, an almost featureless corner that I had a lot of trouble trying to figure out. I thought it felt miles harder than the 12+ corner pitch of the Venturi. I kept falling at the end and would have to lower down the pitch to start it over, so as to get the true red point. I ended up climbing it completely sideways with both my hands palmed out on the right wall and both feet walking up the left wall. Definitely not the beta but whatever works I guess. Nik used his superior footwork skills to send the pitch a bit quicker and with less effort. The next was even harder but we both managed to send with Nik leading and myself fallowing. We were soon at the top having redpointed all the pitches. The day was only half over and it was clear that we would have enough time for the Venturi Effect.
A topo of Airstream

The climbing on the Venturi went pretty smooth for the first half but I was quickly feeling fatigue set in from so many hard pitches. My toes especially hurt from all the tecky granite stemming. I began to climb inefficiently and stared to plug in gear in unnecessary spots. Nik appeared to be a little tired but this didn’t seemed to hinder his climbing. He still made everything look easy and was running everything out as usual. Like a total boss he would end up onsighting the route!). On the last crux pitch I kinda shut down and ended up taking on the rope a few times. Nik fallowed it clean as if it were 5.10. He then lead the last long pitch by head lamp and belayed me up. We rapped down the route in the dark and made our way back to camp to make dinner. The day was long and stressful but extremely rewarding. Those kind of hard days in the mountains are some of the best I’ve had. They make life so worth living!

 Climbing the Venturi  few years back

I’m now in Squamish were I plan to hopefully spend the summer. The climbing here is amazing and it’s a perfect place to have fun but still build fitness. It’s raining like crazy right now but hopefully it stops soon so I can get to work on all the countless projects I have here.  Hope you have a great summer! If you get board come to Squamish so we can climb!

Here’s a hilarious website I often entertain myself with when I get board. Enjoy…

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Out of the Blue and into the Black

My time in Boulder has come to an end. I’ve more or less lived the last six months as a normal human would. I made money and spent money. I’m a litttle scared and very excited to leave this comfortable monotony behind. The cold winter is gone and the time for sending in here. I’m not only going to challenge myself to difficult rock climbs but I’m going to live like less of a dirt bag on this next trip. If it means less time on the road then so be it. My days of penny pinching are over. I want to find a way to use my talents to make money. Not a ton but just enough to make my life on the road more comfortable. The first major destination on my tip will be Yosemite Valley. My life goals lie on the 3000 foot chunk of rock known as El Capitan. I feel like I’m finely at the stage in my life where I’m ready to test myself to these goals. I’m going to spend as few days as possible on the Valley Floor, away from the Rangers who are so eager to hand out tickets and the hordes of tourists who just make me want to leave Yosemite.

My final week in Colorado has been both amazing and awful. I made some bad decisions in my eagerness and stress to leave boulder. What should have been a happy time for me has turned stressful and problematic. None the less I feel I learned a thing or two that will hopefully influence me to improve my future lifestyle. All in all however I’m proud of the time I spent here. I met my financial goals in an extremely difficult job and still found the time to do some amazing rock climbs. On top of that I made some awesome new friends who share my passion for the sport.

After clocking out and saying good bye to my fellow co-workers at the West End Tavern I headed down to the Black Canyon with Madaleine Sorkin, one of CO’s most accomplished trad climbers. Our goal was to free the 2000 foot Hallucinogen Wall 5.13R VI. I checked out the climb a few weeks prior with my good buddy Cody Scarpella and the climbing on the route seemed within my ability. The numerous R rated pitches had me a little worried but in a way in kind of made the climb more desirable. When Madaleine and I showed up to the North Rim it was clear that the wall would be backing in the sun all day with temperatures in the 80’s. Those sustained runout face climbing pitches where going to be no joke. Our plan was to spend a day stashing food, water, sleeping bags and a portaledge on top of pitch 12 just before the pitch 13 crux. We would spend the first day on the wall climbing up to our stuff on pitch 12 then spend the night. The next day we would climb the remaining four pitches to the top. That night I set my alarm for 5:30 am and tired to go to sleep thinking about how all those scary pitches would feel in the heat.

I feel like I had just closed my eyes when the alarm went off on my phone. I got up and made a hasty breakfast in the dark. I met Madaleine at her van and we thrashed down the poison ivy cover gully. It was a bit scary to see the dark towering walls rise above me as we descended lower down the gully towards the roaring river. Was I really doing this? Was I ready for such a challenging scary climb? This was the first time I ever climbed here. Was it such a good idea to be going for the hardest route? This climb had only seen two ascents  by truly badass climbers. Who was I to think I was in the same leauge as Hansj√∂rg Auer and Joe Mills. The Hallucinogen seemed to scowl down at me as we racked up at the base. I could see our stuff hanging on pitch 12, fifteen hundred feet up. “You’ll never get to me” it seemed to say. “Screw it” I thought. This is why I love rock climbing; The Adventure and the unknown. It’s time to put my skills to the test. Up we went with good progress. Yes it was scary, the rock was loose, the protection was far apart and the climbing was challenging. By the time I got up to the harder more serious pitches, the wall was fully backing in the sun. I fell once on a tricky 5.12 move on pitch seven that proved to be real reachy and hard to protect. The remaining five pitches to our portalledge went smoothly and quick. There were many times where I felt like I was going to come off but I managed to hold on and not take any savage whippers. After a restless night on the poralledge we were ready to go to the top. We had both sent all the pitches up to that point. It was time to gear up and lead the crux. I was so sore and tired but I wanted to send this climb so bad. I felt like I was going to come off on almost every move on the pitch but I held on and managed to send the entire thing on my first go of the day. The route was in the bag! Like a champ Madaleine followed the pitch clean. She would be the first female to send the route free! Three more pitches of scary loose climbing brought us to the top where we high fived in the baking sun. The third and fourth free ascent of The Hallucinogen Wall had just been made!

This climb was a great achievement for me and a perfect finish to my stay in Colorado. It was an excellent adventure that was both challenging and enjoyable (in an odd sort of way). With Colorado behind me, I look forward to the inevitable challenges and adventures of the next six months. I’ll keep you informed. Peace!