We couldn’t have scripted a better ending for our trip than the spindly little spires surrounding Custer State Park, also known as the Needles. The tiny, airy summits provided more than enough reward and motivation for 4 (and a half…) climbers to get off the ground one more day. And the long runouts over moderate terrain was ideal at the end of the week when lead heads were secure but our bodies were tired. The word that best sums up the climbing at the Needles is FUN! For me, it was an experience with a distinctive child-like quality to it.…Read the rest of this entry →
Category Archives: Sport Climbing
Dear Ten Sleep Canyon,Thanks for the amazing time. Were it not for geography I would definitely make cheating on the New River Gorge a regular occurrence with you. But the long-distance thing is gonna be hard, so we’re gonna have to settle for a rendezvous every year or two. Love you long time,Cragmama Over the top? Not really. This place was that good – a summer sport climbing paradise I tell ya. First of all, the canyon was ridiculously impressive, making Spearfish look like nothing more than a small trench in the foothills. The approaches were long but rewarded…Read the rest of this entry →
As most of you already know, our family just got back from a whirlwind climbing trip to South Dakota and Wyoming. To say that the trip was a success would be an understatement – we had a fabulous time, and as I look outside at my droopy, hot backyard as I type this, my only regret is that we’d had more time to spend out there! This trip was a far cry from our usual weekend excursions, and in a lot of ways, it was somewhat of a “luxury trip” (for us anyway…though it probably doesn’t fit most people’s definition…Read the rest of this entry →
So after spending the past two (unseasonably mild) weekends catching up around the house and enjoying time with family, the heat was back in full force this weekend. Our original plan was for the New River Gorge, but with temps hovering at 100 and humidity almost as high, no one was psyched on sleeping in a tent in a pool of sweat. We instead opted for a day trip to a shady little crag off the beaten path in the western part of the state – Little Wilson. This was actually our first time going there. We actually attempted to…Read the rest of this entry →
But I do. And it sucks. Not sure why, but this weekend made me feel old. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I twisted my ankle (the one that I used to consider my “bad” ankle until I broke the other one…) just hiking into the crag on Day 1. Thankfully it seems to be nothing more than a minor inconvenience, along with an annoying, rainbow-colored reminder that my Earth-Suit ain’t what it used to be. Or it could possibly be related to the fact that I realized that not one but several of my climbing…Read the rest of this entry →
There’s a small collection of bolted lines right off highway 221 coming out of Blowing Rock in Western North Carolina. It goes by several other names besides The Dump, but regardless of what you call it, conditions were darn near perfect for it this past Saturday. Most of the climbing there hovers just less than vertical and features very technical and sequential moves on itty bitty holds. Although the cliff sees sun for the majority of the day, the elevation generally puts it a good 10 degrees cooler than us down here in Charlotte, making for a sweet escape from…Read the rest of this entry →
If that were the question, then the answer would most definitively be YES to both, which is great since our plans almost got squashed before we even left the house because of a poor, sick Cragbaby. Thankfully though he started feeling better just in time (when we asked him if he wanted to get in Mommy’s car and go sleep in in a tent he started jumping up and down shouting, “TENT! TENT!”). Despite a later-than-planned start, we made it to Tennessee only slightly worse for the wear. This trip was an interesting balance of both success and failure…Read the rest of this entry →
The build-up to this weekend at the New was admittedly a bit chaotic. But despite last-minute partner bailing, a forgotten ankle brace, and a moody weather forecast, this Mother’s Day ended up being the best yet! I had two goals in mind – to send as many hard .11′s as I could, and to get redemption on a 5.12 project from last summer… Day 1 Routes (Butcher’s Branch and Seven-Eleven Wall): The Greenpiece (5.10b): I’d only been to Butcher’s Branch one other time, and it was almost exactly 4 years ago. I remember having an epic almost-onsight of this route…Read the rest of this entry →
I mentioned in my last post that I’d be separating the weekend out into two posts, since each day was so different from the other. I thought it would be fun to change things up a bit, so rather than the typical play-by-play trip report, I thought I’d focus on “projects.” For those non-climbers out there, the term ”projecting” is used to describe the process that one goes through to successfully redpoint a route near or at their limit. A route is considered “sent” (aka redpointed) when the climber is able to lead the route from bottom to top (bringing the rope up with them…Read the rest of this entry →
So it’s springtime in Colorado, and the weather has been more inconsistent than an adolescent romance (I’m an educator, so the analogy is apropos). In between the storms and heat waves (a reference to the weather, not adolescent romance), we’ve managed to get out and climb some fun stuff around Durango. I always love this time of year as the days get longer, the weather warmer, and the rock dry enough to climb. I kind of feel like a bear coming out of a long winter of hibernation in a dusty climbing gym and finally getting to stretch out the rope in the great outdoors.
This spring has been particularly satisfying as I have finally gotten some lingering finger injuries to a manageable level. Since last August I’ve had three separate finger injuries. While none of them have been the full finger blow out (a technical medical diagnosis), they’ve all seriously limited my climbing. I’ve learned enough about injuries that they take a long time to heal, even if they feel strong, and so I’m still taking a lot of preventative measures. That said, in the last few weeks I’ve been able to really start trying hard again, which just feels so darn good.
All of my recent enthusiasm has been directed at a specific new line here in Durango. The line is obvious, one that I noticed on my very first visit to East Animas nearly two years ago. It begins up the classic Punta Magna then cuts right across a magnificent steep, streaked wall. Someone aided it many years ago leaving a fixed bashie and some old studs along the right trending rail. About a month ago, my friend Marcus Garcia went up the line on aid to investigate the free climbing possibilities. I joined him on the second day to finish cleaning and bolting the line, and then we started working out the moves. We both immediately became obsessed. The climbing was clean and aesthetic, and we quickly realized that this route could possibly be a new level of difficulty in the area.
After several more days and attempts, I managed to stick the precise yet dynamic crux on sidepulls and crimpers to redpoint the route, a deeply satisfying accomplishment for me after a long winter and battle with injury. I’ve tentatively named the route “The Corrections,” which just so happens to be the book I’m reading right now. I like the name for several reasons. First, the route is something of a “correction,” taking an obscure aid line and bringing it to high quality free climb status. Second, I love the book, which is reason enough. I think there’s a further connection between the themes of the book and the route, or at least my experience with it. The book traces the paths of five members of an average American family through the boredom, longing, disappointment, desperation, and rare moments of satisfaction that each person’s seemingly normal yet extraordinary and often messed up life presents. The word “corrections” comes up frequently in the book in reference to how each person subtly refines their life in some way, sometimes in reference to taking drugs and others simply in terms of seeking satisfaction where they can. In a similar way, climbing has felt like a lot of work and tedium recently: lots of rehab, patience, training, and climbing with much restraint in between the even greater struggle of balancing that with other life responsibilities. In my case, the “correction” was finding an inspiring line to try hard on. This is something I’ve slowly come to learn about climbing: The exhilaration of success tends to come in short bursts connected through the process and the pursuit of goals. Ultimately, satisfaction comes from appreciating what we can get out of both of these.
Here’s a short video I put together of Marcus and I working the route. Andrea Sokolowski shot the footage, and I really appreciate her help. The disclaimer for this video is that it was our first time out shooting video, and this is my first attempt at real video editing, so it is admittedly rough. Still, the aesthetic qualities (or lack there of) aside, I think it captures the story of the first ascent of “The Corrections” pretty well.