Category Archives: rock climbing

Video: Drew Ruana Establishes 14d at Smith Rock

On February 13, 2016, Drew Ruana made the first ascent of “Assassin” (14d). “Assassin” toppled the classic “Just Do It” (14c) and the unrepeated “Shock and Awe” (14c) as the toughest route at Smith Rock. The first ascent of the Aggro Gully linkup pushed Smith Rock’s highest grade upward for the first time in 13 years (the FA of “Shock and Awe” – still unrepeated).

Drew Ruana on the First Ascent of Assassin

Drew Ruana on the first ascent of Assassin (14d), Smith Rock’s hardest route.

Here’s a quick route synopsis and send footage from Drew:

Alex Johnson on Projecting, Sending, and Lessons Learned

So much of climbing, especially projecting, is puzzle piecing. It isn’t whether or not you’re strong enough to do the climb, or do each individual move on the climb, but figuring out how to do each move, and configuring the most efficient way to combine multiple moves in a row while expending the least amount of energy. I think “projecting” is “perfecting.” Working something so much you get it so dialed that it almost produces imminent, consistent success.

Alex Johnson Red Rock

Alex Johnson Sending Monster Skank. Photo: Ray Davalos

That’s how it was for me working Wet Dream Right (V11/8A Red Rock, NV). When I first started trying, I could do a couple moves, but some were so inconsistent, I couldn’t link sections of the boulder in a row. By the time I wrapped it up, I had perfected the climb’s movements. I was able to do every move on its own 100% of the time, and so efficiently, that I even when I linked them, I expended very little energy by the time I got to the final hard move.

Sometimes after I send things, I feel weird. Like I don’t know why they take so long to finish… During the process, you forget where you started. By the time you send something you’ve been working for a long period of time, it’s hard to recall how difficult the climb in its entirety felt at the beginning. This is how I felt about Monster Skank.

Alex Johnson Projecting

Alex on Day 1 of the Monster Skank Project. Photo: Kati Hetrick

You spend a few days, weeks, months on something, and then when you finally do it, you could feel so inexpressibly victorious you almost cry… or you might feel unsatisfied. Like, “Hm. I wasn’t fighting tooth and nail for every move of this climb. Maybe it really isn’t that hard. Why couldn’t I just do this last season?” When in fact, it could be that you’ve so perfected each sequence, that when you eventually finish the climb, all you really had to do was execute, in exactly the way you know how—because you’ve been doing the same moves for months.

There’s also the typical cliched opinion that the more time you spend on something, the sweeter it feels to finish, and of course that’s true. But often for me, it’s the opposite, the previously stated lack of satisfaction, almost disappointment in myself for not completing the climb faster, sooner.

Alex Johnson Day 1 Monster Skank

Day 1 Try-Hard Face

And then all these other questions race through your mind (or mine, at least) like, are the temps better today? Am I stronger? Fitter? Climbing better? Is my breathing more controlled? Am I less afraid of falling?

What was it? What was the determining factor in today’s success, versus all the other days of failure?

I heard on a (non-climbing related) podcast recently, that there’s no such thing as a failed relationship, no matter the result, how shitty it may have been, or how epic it seemed in the end. The entire time you were in that relationship you were learning; about yourself, about how you deal with conflict, emotions, etc. You were growing.

I think I want to start applying that to working projects more. I mean, I know every time I try something I learn something new, even if I don’t send it… But I get pretty in my head about things sometimes, especially when I “can’t” do something. I hate not being able to do something. It’s probably the most frustrating personal issue in my climbing life; being shut down. I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

Alex Johnson Monster Skank send

Controlled Movement on the Send. Photo: Ray Davalos

And I’m not saying that by needing to project something I’m “being shut down” on it. I’m just saying that sometimes I lose track of the amazing process in my race to success with myself. Being able to climb awesome things is a gift, and if they’re difficult they require more time and commitment. Sometimes I need a little reminder that the process can be just as fun and exciting, if not more, as the end result.

Send Footage: Ethan Pringle on La Reina Mora (14d)

After a month-long battle of hope, frustration, failure, emotion, and eventual success, Ethan Pringle sent the Spanish test-piece, La Reina Mora (14d).

Ethan Pringle Spain from Facebook


“Well, I really couldn’t have imagined a better last day in Siurana. For the first time in over a week I felt only love instead of frustration and anger. With a wide open heart full of excitement and happiness, though not really caring how I did, I finally climbed to the top of La Reina Mora and clipped the anchor in a swell of emotion. It’s been a wild ride, and the process of projecting this climb and putting everything I had into it taught me more about life and compassion (especially for myself) than I could have thought possible…” – Ethan Pringle post-send

Ethan Pringle and La Reina Mora (5.14d) from The RV Project on Vimeo.

After sending La Reina Mora, Ethan went on to polish off his long-standing project and North America’s hardest sport route, Jumbo Love (15b).

Spain Part 2: Cobblestones & Milestones at Montserrat


Montserrat climbing


Barcelona! What an incredible city full of life, people, culture, food, history and so much more. It has to be one of my new favorite cities of all time and we just scratched the surface. We will get into Barcelona highlights in a future post, right now I want to focus on climbing.

First, I want to tell you about a real gem, Montserrat. From a distance, Montserrat looks like a multi-peaked jagged saw tooth mountain, which lends to its intricate rocky maze.  As you approach and drive up the windy road, you can see that hundreds of rounded, cobblestone towers, domes and cliffs create this beauty of a climbing destination. Besides the climbing, Montserrat is also a very popular tourist stop and once you reach the parking lot at the end of the road, you’re ripped from your dream-like state of amazement. The touristy stuff is pretty obnoxious and it seems to go on for a mile full of cars, huge buses, people and souvenir stands. Don’t let this deter you. Press on past the tourist stops, and you will be rewarded just as we were!

We were aiming for the sunny tower in the middle of this photo.

We were aiming for the sunny tower in the middle of this photo.

The reason for the tourists; nestled on the hillside about 1000 feet up from the base but beneath the towers is an old Benedictine Abbey, Santa Maria de Montserrat. Our goal, however, was to sample some of the moderate multi-pitch climbing that it is world-renowned for. We only had a few hours of day light so we had to move quickly, hiking up the narrow valley past the abbey. The hike to the base of the route was literally one stair case after another winding up between these towers. It was absolutely beautiful and provided wonderful views of the surrounding area. We were aiming for one of the more prominent summits, Gorro Frigi, and the Stromberg route seemed like a good choice. At the base of the route, we quickly geared up while admiring the colorful cobbles we were about to climb. The rock was gorgeous, and we were eager to test out these cobbles. Mike took the lead while I took out the camera.




lots of stairs!


The stairs eventually turned to trail as we neared the base


Pitch one up the sea of cobbles


Trango was representing in Spain!



Mike starting the second pitch. The Monastery is in view nestled in the rocky canyon below.

Sport climbers remembering their rope management at the belay


Pretty amazing view of the abbey


Final pitch


Janelle taking in the summit views.


Mike next to the summit cross

The climb was very casual, super fun and the views were tremendous. I loved the Catalonian conglomerate cobbles and definitely want to go back! Doing a mutli-pitch climb as a couple is very rare these days, and not something we do with kids in tow (well, not yet anyways).


Hazy air on the way down made for a cool photo highlighting the pillar we had climbed

We finished before dark and headed straight into Barcelona during rush hour. This was a completely fun and terrifying experience on it’s own. However, with Mike’s defensive, confident driving and maneuvering, we made it to the hotel in one piece. It was time to  head to the Sports Engineering conference in Barcelona, but I don’t want to waste any time getting to the most exciting climbing day of our entire trip! Therefore, we’ll describe Barcelona and the conference in more detail in our next post.  Instead, here’s the exciting conclusion to our Montserrat climbing….

After our first taste of Montserrat, we knew we would need to go back during this trip. The relatively easy one hour drive was perfect for an early morning out on the rock. We left Barcelona before dawn one morning and were rewarded with an incredible sunrise on tall towers above us. Mike had a spring in his step while I hobbled along on my bum ankle. I could tell he was psyched! Today was going to be a great day!!



Gorgeous view in the first morning light

I want you to hear it straight from Mike…this not only was a great day, it was one for the Anderson history books!! Here’s Mike to tell about his incredible experience, and reaching a goal he has had for years and years!

I came to sector Guilleumes at the recommendation of Jonathan Siegrist aka JStar. It wasn’t covered in our guidebook, so we got some sketchy beta at a local shop in Barcelona and hoped we’d be able to find it. On the way to the crag, I had a wave of psych come over me as I watched alpine glow on the cliffs above and just thought about how awesome it was to be here in Spain.


More morning light making the cliffs glow. Check out that cool thumb rock too…the Caval Bernat. There’s a long multi-pitch climb on that tower we wanted to do, but the hike was too much for Janelle’s hurt ankle. Next time!

When I reached the cliff, I was instantly impressed because it reminded me of my favorite home crag, Smith Rock, but with slightly steeper walls full of pockets and edges. It was extremely inspiring. I did a warm-up (Catximba – “Bong”, 11c) and got on what I thought was another 12a (Diedru – “pipe”). After a little climbing, it was clearly a little more than I bargained for. I realized I was on an 8a (Bolita Moruna), not a 12a (7a+) so I decided I would save it for an onsight. I kept going until the climb got a little too hard then I climbed down.


La Catximba (“bong”), 6c+ (11c – though the polish made it feel WAY harder 🙂 ). A nice warmup, covered with cool flowstone.


Higher on Catximba.

After belaying Janelle, I got on the 8a (Bolita Moruna) again, gunning for the on-sight. I felt very smooth and strong, the climbing came naturally to me as I cruised from pocket to pocket. I had trained for this a long time. I reached the crux section, shook out and thought about the moves. I figured out a sequence and went for it. I had to trust some pretty polished feet but I did it and stuck the moves. From there, it was just  managing the pump through some small but positive pockets. A short tufa took me to the chains and I was very psyched to get another 8a onsight!


At the chains of Bolita Moruna, 8a (13b) after nabbing my second 8a onsight of the trip!


Mike celebrating his on-sight of a “Grade 8” route at Montserrat.

Now, I had to decide go for another 8a or push myself and try for an 8a+ (one was located just to the right.) Though I have come close a couple times, I have never on-sighted an 8a+ (13c) before, and it has been a goal of mine for years. It was one of my goals for this trip, but there is always the risk that you blow it and wreck the remainder of your climbing day. I took a moment and decided that “I would only live once” and this was my opportunity, so I went for the 8a+. The route looked really cool, following a solitary gray streak from top to bottom with small pockets reminiscent of France. This was what we came to Europe for!


Rastafari, 8a+ (13c) follows the prominent gray streak up the center of the photo, then up over the roofs to the left.

The route had no draws, and little chalk, so this would be the real deal…no crutches…I didn’t even have a guidebook description (not that Spanish guidebooks have descriptions anyway 🙂 ). What I would have given for a Smith Rock/Alan Watts-esque  play-by-play run-down with accompanying crux-by-crux topo map? In retrospect, this was the perfect situation. No info, and no preconceptions!

The pocket sequence at the start was much harder than I anticipated, and I had to really go for it on some small but positive pockets, making long reaches . I also thought I would be able to get many rests in the opening sections but I was wrong. I had to manage the pump, stay relaxed and pace myself. At the end of the long grey streak, I reached a roof at about  the 2/3 height and was able to shake. To my horror, this is where the real business began! Over the roof I was instantly slapped in the face with hard moves. Long lockoffs to small pockets with bad feet and over-hanging. I had to do a hard mono move with my right hand to reach a good pocket. I stuck it though (yeah hangboard training!), then I got a horizontal crack that I thought would be a great rest, but it turned out to be very slopey. I milked it as best I could for a long time. This climb was taking forever! (maybe an hour to send it?) I was starting to worry I would flame out, but I tried to remain calm and optimistic.

I climbed above the poor ledge and was instantly in panic mode. The holds were too small and I could not see them because there was no chalk. I climbed into a sequence that I was certain I would not be able to do, and thought I would certainly fall . However, I was able to down climb enough to get a good heel/toe cam in the horizontal crack that allowed me to shake enough to recover. I had been here in Spain long enough that I was FINALLY able to recover at rests.  I shook again for probably ANOTHER 10 minutes. I had enough back and had stared at the wall long enough that I had an idea of what to do.  I pulled up on some good pockets with bad feet.  Above me, but a long way away, was a tufa under cling. I reached far, as far as my tired little toes would let me, and I was able to grab it! I was thrilled! I pulled up my feet and locked into the under cling.  I clipped, and was able to shake a little. I moved on, did a couple slopey crimps and slabby moves with decent feet. I was able to reach a sinker pocket…finally something GOOD to hang on to! The angle was rolling back now, so I knew I had it in the bag at this point, but I kept my wits about me. I climbed deliberately to the next bolt where the angle eased significantly. From there it was cruising to the chains. I let out a whoop, clipped the anchors and was totally stoked! My first 8a+ onsight while hanging the draws and with no chalk to boot!


Whoot! He did it!!! He really did it!

Two climbers from Spain showed up right after Mike topped out. We needed photos of this climb and luckily, they agreed to belay so I could take a few photos.


Mike “re-enacting” the final moments of his on-sight of “Rastafari” 8a+ (13c). A new milestone for him.


Another action shot of Mike “re-enacting” his on-sight of “Rastafari” 8a+ (13c).

This day was one for the record books! After Mike’s onsight of the 8a+, he went on to onsight another 8a, “Xilum” making the grand total 3 – 8a’s in one day!!!!!!! Probably his best sport climbing day yet. There was something in that Spanish air of Montserrat…maybe a little magic? It was very magical it was the years of dedication to training, focusing on his weaknesses and setting goals that sealed this deal!


A local climber, Guilleme, trying “Xilum” 8a (13b). This is the third 8a Mike did that day. Doesn’t this remind you of Moonshine Dihedral at Smith Rock?



Super psyched…what a day!

Coming soon…details of our travels in Barcelona, and the Sports Engineering Conference, complete with VIDEO of Mike’s presentation on hangboard training with the Rock Prodigy Method and RP Training Center. For now, enjoy these teaser photos….



Scooters and motorcycles dominate downtown and seem to be the preferred mode of transportation. Watch out pedestrians!


Local school


Downtown soccer field


Mediterranean Sea with beautiful toasty brown beaches


Tight streets


Incredible buildings like the Cathedral of Barcelona

IMG_9841 IMG_9845 IMG_9847 IMG_9849 IMG_9852



Mercat La Boqueria


So, Spanish eggs don’t need refrigeration 😉


The not so “secret” secret Iberico jamon was EVERYWHERE!


Cool exotic fruits


Seafood and sea-critters I didn’t know one could eat




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



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

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.

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.  

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.  🙂

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.


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!


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.     





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

Tips to Hips


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…

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.

The vision for the Trango athlete team is to find climbers who embody our brand’s values and support them in their climbing endeavors. We focus on the character of the climber, their passion for the sport, and their desire to contribute to the community.

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