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Category Archives: Dovetail Mountain Adventures

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.  

Canadian Tour

Pitch 1 on East Colombian Indirect 5.12+, Tom Egan Wall– Snowpatch Spire 
Q.B leading up the Endless Struggle Pitch, Snowpatch Spire

When you type in your Google search bar “genuine, good-spirited, ego-less hard mutherF#^&ing crankers,” I am positive the search will mention or show photos of a Canadian rock climber.

For years I have fallen for their niceness.

This trip sealed the deal.

Gratitude fills me to the brim!!!!

I basically had the raddest 3 week tour in the Bugaboos, Lake Louis, and Canmore.

After our first day’s first ascent, local hard man Chris Brazeau proceeded to shuffle me around the best new free lines in the Bugaboos.  Many of these climbs were old aid lines that Chris and his buddies, Jon Walsh, Jon Simms, Simon Meis, Cody Lank and others opened up with much effort over the last six or seven years.

Sendero Norte was the tour opener.  This 13 pitch route is stacked with pitch after pitch of 5.11 and 5.12 climbing.  Links to Jon Walsh’s blog with topos and a photo of the route line.
http://alpinestyle.ca/sites/default/files/Snowpatch%20topos060.pdf
http://alpinestyle.ca/sites/default/files/Bugs-Snowpatch%20e%20face%20best%20copy%20copy.pdf

Both Chris and I fell on the lower thin seam crux pitch and both had a fall or two on the upper roof crux pitch.  The rest of the route we both climbed clean.  Rappelling down I kept saying, “this was my favorite pitch, no wait THIS was…”  Sendero is one of the highest quality routes I have climbed!

Following the lower seam crux on Sendero Norte

Our next foray on the North Face of Snowpatch Spire had us climbing another new route….
one that will be fully ready for next season!

Dark Prince starts out with a spicy 5.10 corner to a facey run-out.  Pitch 3 continues up a left facing thin and technical seam/stem over a roof.  This is sustained and difficult 5.11 maybe 5.12 pitch.  I led up the next 200 foot pitch—and would recommended splitting this into two pitches.  Climb up a steep wall on your left with dual and pumpy splitter hand cracks, 5.11, bop right to climb under an off-width/dihedral roof to a nice cozy ledge.

This ledge can blast you off two directions.

Hell or High Water.  http://alpinestyle.ca/2012/10/15/recent_favorites  

The Dark Prince or Hell or High Water.  Both stellar lines.  Chris just sent the Dark Prince earlier this season…check out the Canadian Alpine Journal cover!
(You can see the top of Dark Prince in the right-hand corner of photo above).

Leading a 5.11 Pitch 7 on Sendero Norte

This day Chris choose to finish on Hell or High Water.
I followed it clean.

AHH!!! We didn’t make enough time in trip for me to give it a lead go…”never not enough!”

Chris is pretty sure it hasn’t been sent yet….next season, next season!!

Off-width after the bolt ladder or 5.11 slab 

Brazeau also wanted to add a few bolts –anchors and protection on Dark Prince.   As we climbed, he would occasionally rap back down to do a little work.  I entertained myself and everyone near the North Face with my very loud personal renditions of ‘Man in the Mirror’ and ‘Elderly Lady Behind the Counter in a Small Town’ and maybe a few other classics.  đŸ™‚

Next on the tour was the Cooper-Gran, on Bugaboo Spires East Face.   Not a new Chris route, but an old line that has been freed with a sketchy 5.11 slabby rivet bolt ladder mid-route.

Between summits on Bugaboo Spire

A quick summit handstand!

It didn’t seem to have been climbed since its first ascent……either way it had some fun heads-up climbing.

After 8 or so pitches, the route gains the popular 5.8 north ridge of Bugaboo Spire about 300 feet below the North Summit.  We simul-climbed this portion.

An epic storm began her grumble as we tagged the north summit.  With a quick handstand, we nibbled a little chocolate, I spread some of Andrew’s ashes and then we high-tailed down the Kain Route.

C.B Racking up on Bugaboo Spire

Mmm, what was next.  I believe we had a failed effort on something on the Minaret.  We climbed two soaking wet waterfall pitches while getting totally baked in the sun.

Odd day.

We contemplated (I tried to convince Chris to climb) the Beckey-Chouinard but heard rumours of a line-up 6 or 7 deep (he wasn’t totally opposed but has climbed it a few times already).

Q.B heading up a stellar 5.11+ Hands to fingers on East Colombian.

So we bailed and did a walk-about around the Spires through glaciers and snow on our way home.

The last new route of the tour was another Brazeau route.  Stellar stacked pitches called East Colombian Indirect.  This blasts off on the left side of the Tom Egan Wall.  Pitch one starts off heavy but sweet.  A 5.12 (lead bolted) traverse climbs into a lay back flake.  The pitch continues on dicey face moves around a corner and leads up to a small stance.  From there a steep and long hands to fingers second pitch dihedral keeps you fighting.  Pitch 3 is a finger roof pitch.  The crack widens as you gain the lip and continues as a 2 inch crack for a 60 more feet.

Balance and reach through a couple of face moves to gain more moderate terrain.  A short moderate pitch lands you on a sweet lounging ledge…. Hobo’s Haven.  We hung out here for minute…spread a few more of Andrew’s ashes (seemed a perfectly named place for him to rest…I chuckled with tears!).

I regained my composure and with the nicest of encouragements from Chris, started up the looming pitch, “The Endless Struggle.”  This is the last pitch of another wild route called The Power of Lard.  The old guidebook gives it a wicked difficult rating….realistically mid-5.12.

Chris on Pitch 3 of East Colombian

This is a high quality 120 foot overhanging hands to fingers pitch.  Probably one of the best I have ever stepped up to lead!

The crack arches left so one foot jams as the other smears the sheer wall.

Fight the pump through a short finger rail traverse right and a jug over the arete to the north side of Snowpatch Spire.

WOW!!!!

Another amazing climb, pitch after pitch of clean splitter granite.  

I can’t believe I have waited this long to visit the Bugaboos!!  An adventure there next summer is in order as there is much on my tick list…new routes abound and many more scrubbed up routes by the Canadians that need help sending (I need to get stronger stronger)!!!  
Oh Man!  

In addition I got to climb with some rad ladies in Canmore and Lake Louis.  90 Meter over hanging sport routes in Lake Louis with a backdrop that is surreal!!  Canmore much of the same, limestone amphitheather.  Radical! 

Michelle Kadatz and Andrea Eitle were among the few that were kind enough to tour me around, 
hook me up with other partners.  It was sweet to meet and hang with some rad ladies, giggling!!  

Taking the long way home.  Snowpatch Spires south face in the background

Again not quite long enough!  I need to make more time to climb in Canada!!

So beautiful.  Can’t wait for next summer!

A few high quality Grades.

My climbing partner for the last 2 weeks, Buster Jesik, put together this time break down of our recent adventure in Zion.  We linked Spaceshot, Touchstone and Moonlight.   A little video of our adventure also by Buster….http://vimeo.com/73749360

I added a little bit of narrative.

Start time – 6:10 am, Sunday, April 28th, 2013
Spaceshot Total Time – 3:27:09 (note: this was Buster’s first time up the route!)

2:08:16 – Buster’s lead block on Spaceshot (5 pitches – including our free solo of first 3 pitches) #1 and #2 Ballnutz made the C2 pitch a breeze!

1:18:53 – Q’s lead block to the top of Spaceshot  (3 pitches + solo to top)
1:53:15 – descent of Spaceshot, re-rack, and approach to Touchstone Wall – (EPIC*)  
*We fixed our full tag line to the Pitch 7 anchor and fixed our lead rope on Earth Orbit.  Rappelling the route wasn’t that bad, things were going swimmingly!  One tug- movement, two tugs- movement, three tugs–eh, three tugs–eh, shit!  I could barely see the tail ends sticking up from the knot and the sandstone groove the knot was jammed in.  Buster yarded on the other end while I flicked the rope.  Being almost 50 meters down and diagonally left, our efforts were futile.  I cursed as I put the jumars back on the rope.  I re-jugged the whole rope line, adjusted the knot below the lip and rappelled again.  We finally pulled free and clear.    The rappel back to the top of Pitch 5 was a strenuous leftward swing.  A wonderful learning experiment, not awful, but just as time consuming as the standard decent.  
Touchstone Wall –  2:20:35 –
1:10:47 – Buster’s lead block on Touchstone Wall (3.5 pitches) 
03:48 – transition on Touchstone Wall
1:06:50 – Q’s lead block to the top of Touchstone (4 pitches + solo to top) 
Touchstone Wall felt cruiser.  We passed one party of nice gentleman without a hitch.  Thank you gentleman!  
1:21:17 – descent of Touchstone, refuel and river crossing/approach to Moonlight 
Quinn on the upper pitches of Moonlight 
Buster soakin it up!

Moonlight Buttress – 3:19.56
2:09:27 – Buster’s lead block on Moonlight Buttress (5 pitches) 

1:10:29 – Q’s lead block on Moonlight Buttress (4 pitches) 
Moonlight also felt pretty good, I did not climb as quickly (our previous go I climbed the top 5 pitches in an hour.  I was one pitch less this go around and 10 minutes more– and so it goes).   
Start of Spaceshot to top of Moonlight – 12:23:02 
32:47 – summit dance and decent of angles landing trail
12:55:49 – Total car to car time from start of Spaceshot to valley floor 
36:46 – Wait for bus and approach to Monkeyfinger –
37:46 – Time spent climbing on Monkeyfinger – (climbed first 2 1/2 pitches**)
** In November I hit the ledge and ricochet past my belayer.  I was injured for a few weeks, so it was with hesitation I started our 4th wall of the day.
It was still light out and would be for at least another hour or so.   We soloed up to the base of the pillar and I led the 5.11 without a hitch.  “Line fixed!!” I yelled to Buster and glanced down to the base.  I saw a pool of red in the sand while Buster mumbled up, “I have another bloody nose and this one is worse.”  He had gotten one on Moonlight earlier in the day but just dealt.  I was unaware of his predicament until we both stood atop Moonlight and I noticed blood smeared on his face.    

Buster in predicament #2

This time, I waited and watched from my perch.  He fumbled his helmet off and I watched his glasses tumbled down a ledge a little further.  “We aren’t stopping on account of my bloody nose.”
I must admit I was still a little put off by this climb and this was solidifying my angst,   “alright dude.”  I turned around and started going up.  I placed my first piece and leaned over onto the aider, no problem.  I placed my second piece high, unclipped my aider from the anchor and leaned over onto it, bingo.  Just as I was reaching for a third piece, I was off.  Just as quickly I was standing upright back on the ledge.  My right leg took the brunt of the impact and there was a small twinge in my back.  I luckily had the exact right distance in my daisy land on the ledge but not to full impact.  
“That’s it dude!!  Three walls are plenty.  This is the second time I have hit this ledge, I am out!”  I called it.  I am a little disappointed but with the recent tragedies in my life I am glad we are both safe! 
With that we were off, back to the car and drinking a beer with the last inches of light.  

Tips to Hips

Lobotomy

On the road. 
One new adorable nephew, Henry.  Congrats to my brother and sister-in-law.  
One lost wallet scare…luckily just called the restaurant in Sedona where I left it.   
One snowy bivy near Flagstaff and 
Tons of amazing company and adventures packed into this week already!!!

I left the front range April 2nd with Randy the Forester,  packed for 2 months of adventure.  First stop, Indian Creek in a snowy push.  Great friends, some unexpectedly, were in the area.  I spent one joyous day elbow deep in the beautiful sandstone.  Our posse took over the Cliffs of Insanity.  I warmed up on MC’s Hammer, followed by a quick and lovely lap on an unnamed 5.11 just to the left.  I googled at Broken Brain as Clay and I clumsily meandered our way to his climb of choice, Lobotomy.  

Clay digging deep!























So proud!!!  


He styled the lengthy off-width section quickly.  The 150 foot splitter quickly diminishes near the finish to fingers.  I top roped this climb, working on both my double fisting technique and a good grunt.  


My plan was to then attempt Broken Brain.  The first half of the climb starts as a not-easy finger crack before getting into a series of hand cracks through pods.  This puts you at the base of an awesome head wall, and one of the steepest splitters at the Creek. Go from good hands, to thin hands, to ring locks, to hard finger stacks, all a bit offset!!  I was exhausted from Lobotomy and honestly thankful that we didn’t have the necessary 70 meter available.  Lazily, I hopped on another short unnamed 5.11, finishing just as the sun began its habitual bedtime ritual…tucking behind the North Six Shooter.  Returning this weekend to give it more than just a good look!  


The Pond, running for once!  

We all hiked out in darkness, lounged on the tailgate sipping the beer we had buried in the cool earth.  A quick bite and I was off to Durango.  

Chris with a big smile and blue duffel bag piled into Randy Friday afternoon.  We landed at my parents house in East Mesa shortly after sunset.  Saturday I woke early, excited to hit one of my favorite 4 mile runs.  This run has become a “gage of fitness” trail run for me over the years.  Surprisingly, I ran a personal best!!!

Afterward, we escaped the valley heat by climbing in Queens Creek at the Pond area.  Shade chasing was the name of the game at this sporty volcanic climbing area.  We climbed many pitches of 5.10, a few 5.11’s and I hopped on a Desert Devil a 5.13a.  This climb is super steep with good edges and sadly some cemented holds.  I put together the lower moves quickly but was stymied after the 4th bolt or so.  Big move with right hand up then cross to a pocket with your left….not sure if that right hand hold was still there?  Fun to try anyway.  Video shows the moves…http://vimeo.com/35871188
   

Weaver’s Needle from Fremont Saddle.  















Sunday, Chris and I adventured into the depths of the Superstition Wilderness area for a solo of Weavers Needle.  The 8 mile hike with about ~2800 total elevation change took us 4 hours CTC.  The class 5 climbing was very mellow, albeit typical Superstition chossy conglomerate.  We on-sighted the bushy approach, did no running and soloed both up and down.    

Anvil Boulders, Sedona






Monday the west was blanketed with bad weather.  We both tinkered away the morning inter-webbing and sipping bailey’s and coffee.  As the clouds persisted, we settled on a lovely boulder session at the Anvil Boulders.  We scurried about the unique sandstone boulders, some splitter cracks, intermingling push-ups between problems.
In the afternoon I went on two rainy runs.  

Soloing Anvil Rocks



The first run followed a great single track trail for 5 miles around Courthouse Butte, outside the Village of Oak Creek.  The second run, feeling like I didn’t get enough in, took me on a short loop and summit of Sugarloaf in West Sedona.  This town has some amazing trail systems I could get lost in!!! 

Wednesday the clouds finally broke and the sandstone was dry.  Through much discussion we settled on climbing the Mace.  A great choice!  Moderate climbing and fantastic summit.  The 3 dimensional chimney/off-width on the 4th pitch was really enjoyable!!  

Thursday we were back in Durango for a little work.  Breakfast was a 2000 meter swim, lunch was a fantastic yoga class on main street, and happy hour was climbing at East Animas,  6 pitches (and jugging two more).  

Paradox Sports

Twenty-three and a half hours!  I think that is when all three of us finally stood atop El Capitan.  It was October 3rd, 2012, another bluebird California fall day preceding a warm star filled evening.  The last time I had climbed The Nose it was June 9, 2012…Jes and I climbed our fastest NIAD time.  This, ironically, was my slowest NIAD time, barely squeaking it under a day!

In June, Jes Meiris and I were climbing for speed.  This Octobers adventure was a fundraiser for Paradox Sports– based out of Boulder, Colorado.  Paradox strives to create a world where “people of all backgrounds and abilities can pursue a life of excellence through human-powered outdoor sports, regardless of physical disability.  Timmy O’Neill (Paradox Sports Founder),  Mikey Ray (a new climber, but accomplished athlete), and myself.  The three of us climbed, jugged, and laughed our way up The Nose –Timmy even took a business call around Pitch 22– to raise money for this fantastic non-profit.
This time lapse video was taken by Tim McCanus in the Meadow.  Our headlamps climb through the rising full moon off Dolt Tower thru El Cap Tower, and end doing the King Swing.

Shavasana

It is a new year, time for new goals.

Last year at this time, I had committed to climbing the Nose with careful preparation as days turned from January to late May.  I began slowly with my training regimen — easing on the ice cream, alcohol, and exercising too.  If you know me, you know that I am sort of non-stop.  This was an endurance training, so non-stop was great, but I didn’t want to wear too quickly.

After the Nose in June, I cancelled a massage appointment and to this day haven’t made time to reschedule….


It has been an awesome year, but I have realized that I need to rest.  I want to have another rad year!!!
A little nap in the midst of the already full year of events– 2013 has a full schedule of trips, expeditions, retreats, training and more training, work, growth, and hopefully laughter and health.

I have athletic ambitions, as well as, work commitments.  Dovetail Mountain will take another leap….for the best I can only hope!!!

To start this year, I have moved to the beach for a month of yoga, surfing, running, napping, and handstands.   I felt strong before I left Colorado–forearms full of endurance— but the earth was also full of freezing cold temperatures.  Rock climbing season was in hibernation.

This is my mini-hibernation.

I do worry about loosing my endurance or mental strength, but am also aware of this much needed break.  It is a new year.  Time for new beginning.

Re-set, let go, start from a base that is even better than the year past.

Looking, standing, breathing again!  

The Raptor!

I am not an ice climber….well, I have now gone, liked it, and I will most certainly go again!

My first experience was years ago with an acquaintance.  I wasn’t quite sure what he was looking for, but we hiked around a lot up the Lawn Lake Trail.  I never took my tools off the pack, even to this day I have no idea what moderate ice we might have been looking for.  Oh well.

All Mixed Up, Thatchtop Mt., RMNP

My second experience, was this November a few weeks after my whipper in Zion.  My experienced friend was very patient while I gimped up the trail, and even more caring when we stopped at the base of All Mixed Up to gear up and my feet were already frozen.  After attempting to warm them, feed me, hydrate me, dance around, we ended up turning around.

What a sissy!

I am from Minnesota, I used to tolerate the cold so well.  Wow, too many winters chasing eternal fall!

My third experience was just after Thanksgiving and it went swimmingly.  Granted I borrowed warmer, more appropriate, boots.

The three of us, 2 non-experienced ice climbers and a third who had previously climbed at our desired destination, Hidden Falls.  We had a leisurely breakfast, drove to Wild Basin in Rocky Mountain National Park, strapped on the packs, and wandered down the road, now winter trail, west.

Then we wandered down the road east, back tracking.  We wandered a short trail parallel to the road for awhile.  Then we wandered about another pull-out and trail.  Finally, we wandered further west definitively.  Our third, “leader”, didn’t quite remember how far to wander the road, where Hidden Falls might be hidden, and surely didn’t even know what day it was.

All in good fun.  We arrived, just as another pair of climbers was hiking out.

Perfect.  Place to ourselves.

I just top-roped, but messed around with dry-tooling (which I had done before last winter in the Cascades), but I also got to climb a few pitches of just ice.

I was enjoying my new ice tools, and the boys were also enjoying my new ice tools.  The Trango Raptors saw 8-10 pitches on their first day out.  These nice tools have an aggressive pick, are quite light, and have an excellent grip.  I really enjoyed the grip set up, allowing me to switch hands comfortably, gripping above the standard grip location was equally as comfortable and easy.

Get your new pair at http://www.trango.com/ice_gear/Raptor  

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