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Category Archives: Andrew Barnes

First Cumbre in Patagonia!

Espera.

Waiting.

Guillaumet in center of photo

I just hoped to climb some granite splitters in this dreamland.

I am not the only one with this wish.

….and this is how it is now.

Waiting!!!

Clay Kennedy and I packed for our second session in the mountains.  A”window” had finally come.

Window has become a joke around these parts….8-20 hours of medium-okay pressure with cold temps and sometimes climbable winds (considering your aspect and tolerance!)

following near top of the Amy Coullior

Waiting in the notch, hiding from the winds

Guillaumet via any route sans congo-line became the objective.  HA!  A snow or ice route was the best option.
Rock climbing?  Not gonna happen for awhile!

We left ourselves open to the Amy or the Guillo, and decided a little later start would be just fine…minimize the waiting at the base or on route.

Luckily, snow conditions stayed great for our later than sunrise start and our plan worked perfectly.

With snow fresh we followed a mild set of boot packed tracks up Paso Guillaumet from our camp at Piedra Negra.  The Amy Coullior was free and clear of people.  Crazy…it wasn´t THAT late!

The bergshrund was a 3 foot step up, maybe 2 feet wide.
No problem!
We continued up the snow a little further up, until Clay reached a set of slings and a piton on the right, here we pulled out the rope and simul-climbed to the lip.
The snow ramp leading up to the notch was in dreamy alpine conditions, “one hitter, quitters!” as Clay called it.  A boulder problem exit over iced in blocks mantled us up onto the ridge.
From there, the wind was ever present.  Climbing on the east side was calm and warm.  Climbing on the west side was screaming barfy nuking winds.

From the notch, the route joins another route via mixed rock, snow and ice climbing on 5.9 or easier terrain.
Still no sign of people.
The cracks were snowy and climbing in mountain boots makes me feel like I have two left feet.  Clumsy and insecure.

I led a pitch to a false summit, first with crampons on, but because it is still a fairly unfamiliar style, I finally took them off and just jammed the snowy crack with my boots.
Thankfully, my belay was protected from the wind.  When Clay arrived, I headed off again, down climbing into another notch.
Here we ran into the first signs of life, a party of 5 from Ecuador and many other voices above and below.

Cumbre, Fitz Roy in the background!

I glanced down the notch to the east, 2 parties of 2 were rappelling.
Around the corner the party of 5 was crawling, fully spread out.

Another party of three was just beginning their descent as well.  Rainbow, Ann, and Jared from the states.  They had summited and cheering us on as we continued our ascent!  Clay, tired of waiting, blasted through the sketchy jumaring antics of the Ecuadorian party (one jumar, not tied into the end of the rope, nothing else attaching to the rope!!!!! YIKES!)

Clay skillfully weaved through the party, catching the leader at the base of the snow slope that leads to the summit.  These last two pitches faced west.  It was quite brutal.  I climbed the snow filled 5.8 layback crack in my mittens.
Upon meeting up with Clay, I passed and headed up the 40 degree snow slope (seems steeper).
We simul-climbed to the top!
Cumbre to ourselves!!!!!!!  Did a little boogie, soaked in the view of Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre, some of the ice cap beyond it all!

A wonderful adventure, amazing views, and just happy to have realized a dream!

Climbing in Patagonia, what a DREAM!!!!!!

Pata-pnemonia

Fitz Roy in early morning from Niponino camp. 
Sunny.  Warm.  Breezy.

Chalten, Argentina.

Still coughing, been a week.  It is not awful but it is not desirable.

Jon Schaffer, Clay Kennedy and I hiked up to Niponino Thursday amidst hanging clouds and snow.  The mountains looked wintery–and they were.  We made pretty good time on the hike with our more than 40 pound packs, dodging the obscene amount of trekkers and only a minor route finding snafu or two along the way (5 and 1/2 hours).

The homestretch across the last rock strewn glacier, I took a digger in a slushy pot hole.  Minor wetness that dropped me onto my knees.  Five minutes later I took another digger, this one almost thigh deep.  Soaking.  I hurried over the last few boulders and plopped down at a sandy bench to change my socks and into my boots.  The boys scouted for a prime campsite.

We found a place to nestle the tent between to boulders and the three of us packed in.  It was warm enough, the winds subsided and the peaks finally revealed themselves.  Cerro Torre staring at us–caked in snow and ice.  Full winter conditions.  El Mocho was our plan, Todo y Nada was the route.  Sounded so good in theory.   Upon approaching the following morning the rock sandwiching the steep snow gully was a blanket of white.  The top of the gully was teased with spindrift.  The 300 feet or so of rounded granite was dripping with ice and water.  Dampening my soul.  We needed to surmount this ‘easy when dry’ obstacle to gain access to the gully.  My eyes widened as I looked up 1000 feet.  My knowledge about climbing drifted into the thin blue air.  Clay and I both hesitated.  Jon remained cool and composed as we discussed ‘bailing.’
Which we did.
The winter conditions had me doubting that I should even be in Patagonia.  I don’t want to be guided up El Mocho, or any other route.  My fears before coming here seem to be true.  Last season and the season prior were a little friendlier, warmer, and drier.
Perhaps this is not my place.  Perhaps just not yet.

Approaching, the Torre Valley.  Cerro Torre strutting her stuff.  

Woes of Failure.

Levitating up Levitation and Eagle Dance

Failure.  

ARG!

I suck with failure!!!


I find sometimes I am avoiding moments where failure is the most likely outcome.  

Following the crux on Cloud Tower

I don’t project rock climbs.  I on-sight.  If I don’t think I can on-sight it I shy the lead away.  

Its not even that I fear falling.  I don’t fully commit to friends, relationships, plans….because what if it doesn’t work out.  It is better to be illusive.  

HA!  I fear failure.  It isn’t really working out any more, this fear of failure thing.  

I turned to Justin Dubois this spring when I was having a little head epic in the Valley.  In one week last April I climbed three big walls in a day in Zion, climbed to Dolt Tower and had my first run up the Regular Route on Half Dome.  All-in-all, 10,000 feet of climbing in 6 days.  Yet, I was frustrated with my progress in mid- May.  My intended objective was pushed out of sight by partner miscommunication and sickness. 
I emailed Justin, “am I a sissy if I bail?”

He sent back something short…probably not knowing that I really needed advice, an outside voice.  

“No, crazy…settle down!”  

This fall again Justin’s words ring around the vast space between my ears.  

Settle down. 

Baxter and Andrew on top of Mt. Wilson–Red Rocks


Ironic as Justin drops me a note today, 
“I think I have your disease…I can’t seem to take a rest day!”

Yup.  It is a disease and it is catching up with me hardcore.  
I feel that I have been battling it, so quickly moving on to the next project…the next adventure that I might not be enjoying the present moment.  





Cory Jammin up the last pitch of Cloud Tower

The pain of my stubby right toe jammed into the one inch crack 600 feet off the deck.  

The grunting exhale that escapes my lips as I shove my left index finger in the space between the parallel sandstone.

The tingling sensation as my hand cranks, forearm burning, pulsing.  Breath labored.
Mind twirling, eyes darting.  ‘

Finding comfort in the uncomfortable.
Taking control or just taking.

Maybe falling.  
Hopefully sending.  
Whatever it may be, pushing because that is what we do it for. 


I backed off a lead today, because my shoulders hurt.  Because my right elbow aches.  Because my shoes are all blown out.  Because I was afraid of not sending.  

Afraid of Failing.
  
My ego hurts as does my body.  I had a great time in Vegas last week.  Trying hard, succeeding.  Clay suggests that I may be too hard on myself.  
It allows me success, but it hinders the smile.  
It fogs the sunset, slogs the movement, mutters the conversations between friends. 

………and this is how it is now.  
Clinging to a pin scar on the first crux of Rainbow Wall.  

Red Rock Routes
Resolution Arete 5.10–11 hours C-T-C
Cloud Tower 5.12a
Rainbow Wall 5.12 
Levitation 29 and Eagle Dance Link-up 7 hours C-T-C
Rock Warrior, Dream of Wild Turkeys and Prince of Darkness link-up
Some cragging at Brass Wall, Gallery, and others
Zion Routes
Moonlight Free Attempt 5.12d (did not complete)
Sheer Lunacy 3 1/2 hours on route
Force Boyle 5.11
Bits and Pieces 5.11
Monkey Finger 5.12
some cragging at Touchstone Base and Kung Fu Theater, and others

Resilience

Base Camp.  Barnes wall right of sunlight.

Greenland was a bittersweet adventure!  I have been home for 8 days.  As I write, I realize that reflection occurs only now, simultaneous with the blinking of my eyes.  

Nestled in our craggy fjord, a Satellite message brought Colorado reality rushing in.  My favorite person-a man I loved dearly– perished in the Black Canyon. 


The mood abroad altered immediately.

My heart moaned, the echo lapped far across the shores in the deep blue water abyss.  The granite walls quivered, as did my soul.  

  
In this piddle of a blog, I find it difficult to give an accurate and passionate detail to our climbing adventure.  
My mind drifts off, contemplating the loss and my love for the outstanding Andrew Barnes.  

When rock climbing, whether it be soloing or establishing new routes on unfamiliar terrain, I feel enlightened with a certain ethereal clarity.  This feeling fulfills my being, is addictive, and gets me through another day, another week, another year.  




On Morning Luxury…looking south…Brazil do you see it?



The handful of long traditional routes we established in the Torsukatak Fjord may or may not be climbed again.
Man, I sure hope they are!!!
“Morning Luxury”–our second big ascent– is a glorious rock climb and an equally amazing summit!!  It flirts a south facing ridge for 8-200 foot pitches.  Stacked with dreamy finger stem-box corners, jaw dropping views, and an adventurous summit block wrestle.  All on high quality granite with a dash of burnt potato chip-like lichen.    

Over time, perhaps, the rock will recover from the minor abrasions of our traffic and it may appear we were never there at all.  


The rock, lichen, and vegetation is resilient.  


: the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress
: an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change


AB and the Grand Canyon. 

I seek this quality for myself.

The death and hard lessons in this year, draw my gaze downward.  I need to remember there is also so much beauty. 

   
With Andrew, though, I don’t want the memories to fade… the vegetative re-growth in the fissures to mask his presence.  
I certainly do not want the world to appear that he was never here at all.  I fear with time these events playing out in all of us.     

These routes we established. The roots we established. 

They are life altering.  
Built from the ground up, first try without hesitation.  Without artificial means of support….intuitively.  With love, with passion and a little try hard.   

We were lucky to have found such compelling and natural lines.  To climb an 1800 foot granite wall first go is surreal.  Yet, we did it and three days later we ascended another in similar fashion.  My two lady friends and I…giggling the entire way–oh yeah and the token male, John Dickey.  (He joined us for all but the first one).  

Morning Luxury ascends the left ridge to summit. 


“Plenty for Everyone” that was our first climb in the Fjord, on an unclimbed wall we named Barnes Wall.  10 rope stretching pitches with a mixed bag of face wandering, waterfalls, loose rock, a #5 off-width dihedral, a finger crack over a roof, splitter hands, and finishing on ridge with a tiny box summit.  

I am lucky to have had such a natural and compelling man in my life as my best friend and love.  Someone who taught me how to compassionately love with no expectations.  To remind me that “nobody is better than anyone else.”  

A man who believed genuinely that there was always plenty for everyone!  
Live like Barnes!!!

Thank you for reading.     

  


  

Beauty

   

The Breakfast Spire.  Morning Luxury ascends middle ridge.

Barnes Wall.  Lizzy leading Pitch 5.

4 Quickies.  John Dickey leading the 1st pitch.  

Pause on Morning Luxury

Morning Luxury


Eternal Fall

Following the first pitch on The Prow

Wow.  I had a busy little October.

Climbed the Nose in a Day again with some friends….”Keeping it casual!”  I was only in the Valley for 3 days.  Man I love that place!

10 days later I found myself giving a slideshow on speed climbing the Nose at Metro Rock in Boston, This even was a fund-raiser for Paradox Sports.  The show went well and I thank Trango and Stonewear for providing swag for the give-aways.  Also a big thanks to my brother for organizing and helping to promote the event!

During my short stay in Boston, my brother and I stole away for a day of climbing at Cathedral Ledges.  We climbed The Prow.  A proud line I would like to go back and free.  The route was intimidating and seeping wet, we did a mixed bag of aiding/ climbing two of the soggy pitches but were able to free the rest.

My brother and I….where is the wine bar?

Tuesday Oct. 23, I boarded the plane in Boston at 6 am.  Landed in Denver, 9am.  Hopped a bus to Boulder, grabbed “Randy” (my trusty Subaru Forester), and drove to Estes.  Had a quick bloody mary at Ed’s Cantina with a friend, unpacked, re-packed, then drove to the Black Canyon.

I arrived around midnight, chucked my sleeping bag on the ground next to AB and zonked out.  I had been up for almost 24 hours and was cross-eyed from playing a game of frogger with deer and elk on the road!!!

Rappelling off of Medicine Man

The pink sky poked gently at my eyelids.  Jes quietly rustled through kitchen supplies as Andrew watched the sun do its magic at the rim.  After a dreary stretch, I was soon standing aside the picnic table drinking coffee and catching up with my NIAD partner, her current road trip partner, Bo, and my favorite person, Andrew Barnes.  Jes and Bo had been climbing in the Black for a few days and were leaving, while Andrew and I had just arrived.  After a leisurely breakfast, Andrew and I moseyed into the gneiss abyss and crawled our way out via the Checkerboard Wall.  What a lovely route.  A little heads up but overall a grand time….I even found a guidebook at the base!!

Our plan was to climb Southern Arete the following day–evening putting some names down on the white board—not our real names of course— but snow began to flurry about us at camp.  Colorado National Monument and Medicine Man were on my list, so we departed the Black earlier than desired. Our mission was to chase an eternal fall…snow was not appropriate!

Otto’s Route, Colorado National Monument

Opening the car doors at Sentinal Spire, in Grand Junction, 30 degree temps and a brain freeze wind greeted us.  Wine bars, distillery’s and visiting with Heather, my best girlfriend Prairie’s sister, sounded much more enticing.   Medicine Man was rescheduled for the following day and what a gorgeous day it turned out to be.

Medicine Man

Fifty degree temps, light breeze, southern exposure, splitter hand crack, and a surprise photographer at a view point who emailed photos of us rappelling. Unfortunately the route we climbed is on the opposite side of the tower, but Otto’s Route is in the background!!

We departed the next day for Indian Creek, popping off for a quick visit to friends in Paradox Valley, Colorado.

The car now brimming with potatoes, dill, and laughter we rolled into Indian Creek.  After a quick deciphering of Maren and Adam’s message, we headed up for a half day of cragging at Scarface Wall with the family.

Day 2 the gang piled up at Way Rambo area.  I tried Way Rambo as my first climb of the day, but was unsuccessful.  I am terrible at green Camelot sizes.  Knowing this, I decided to hop on Slice and Dice.  Yet another failed attempt—well I broke it into 5 pitches!  I did finally started feeling a little more confident though.  Green Camelots I will learn to love!!  Andrew crushed Layaway Plan.

Day 3 in Indian Creek was Halloween.  Andrew, Brennan, and I danced to a little “Thriller” from the car as breakfast potatoes simmered.   We racked up for a Vision Quest.  Climbing in costumes that were reminiscent to Saved by the Bell’s,  Zach, Kelly, and Slater…..that swimsuit top thing Kelly was
sporting is not ideal for off-widths!!!

Atop the Bridger Jacks, we could see the cottonwoods twinkling yellow, red sandstone spires and walls reaching up towards a piercing blue sky.  The Vision Quest was being fulfilled. The golden light of fall had found a way to hang on!!

Oh an Eternal Fall

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