Monday, October 21, 2013


Katie and I crashed Morgan and Tara's anniversary trip to Leavenworth. It was fun to show some Leavenworth newbie's around the familiar boulders, and see their excitement for bouldering grow.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

There's no place like home

I just got back from a trip back to Scotland. I forgot what a beautiful country I come from. I brought my shoes and got out bouldering one day at Muchals. The climbing wasn't too amazing but the setting sure was.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Newhalem for a day

Last weekend I had an awesome long day trip up to Newhalem with Kevin, Austin, Jordin and Jimmy. Newhalem is a fun granite sport crag in the North Cascades National Park. The routes are typically pretty long and often very crimpy and intense on rough rock. My tips got shredded pretty quick from trying harder routes, but my that was my goal. I ended up not sending the harder routes I tried, but I got a couple of fun 5.11's. Kevin put down a sweet 12b that we were all trying, and Jimmy made short work of a powerful 13b, very impressive! It was quite a drive for a day trip, but I'd happily do it again with this crew. 
Kevin on 12c for a day

Great rock

Kevin on a crimpy start

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Darrington Day Trip

I had a really fun day out climbing at Darrington a couple of days ago. Darrington is a place I had heard about and wanted to visit for a while. I got out there with a new climbing partner Tom, he's a WRG regular and a parent of one of my students. Every parent conference and soccer game we would talk about getting out together so it was great to finally make it happen.
Tom leads the first pitch. The route goes all the way up for 800ft or so, into the trees. It is a lot longer than it looks from the bottom.
Tom had climbed there a couple if times before, but it was my first time. So we opted for the route Silent Running a moderate 7 pitch mixed route. It's a real slab route, by that I mean a lot of pure friction padding on featureless granite. The rock is really high quality and has a surprising amount of texture for granite so the smears feel solid. We swung leads and made good time. On my first pitch I was sweating it climbing above the bolts on 5.8 friction moves, but the higher I got the more confidence I had in the smears. The hard parts are pretty well protected with a bolt about every 10 feet, but where the difficulty  eases you are looking at 40ft+ run outs. Tom who is very experienced on this type of climbing was solid or at least he looked it. I on the other hand struggled a bit more. But by the end I was able to cruise the 5.9+ friction moves. 
A lot of the climbing was pure friction, which takes some getting used to.
The final pitch is the hardest at 10b. It has a more gear placements than most pitches but the crux is a very delicate smearing slab. It was Tom's lead and he cruised up it, with the exception of one grab of the draw on an really thin section. By the time we rappelled back down, we had been on the rock for 7 hours, we figured we better get back for the three hour drive back to Olympia. I can't wait to get back there, there is another route nearby, Total Soul, which is slightly harder and longer, that I really want to get on next!
There were pretty long run outs when the climbing was easy.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Summer Climbs

I feel that my summer has been surprisingly busy for a teacher. In between working science camps, studying for the GRE's, and putting together new curriculum for the fall I've been able to get out climbing a bit. Recently I climbed a "V7" on the She Bear, that Austin and I felt was more like a V5. Took some students out to the far side for a taste of outdoor climbing. Last week I climbed after work with Sierra, Justin and Sara and did a handful of surprisingly good routes on deception wall. And this last weekend I had an amazing weekend in Tieton with Kevin, Austin and his friend Rob.
Butterfly's everywhere
I have been thinking of Astral Wall since climbing there last summer. It's like nothing I've ever climbed on before, and despite talking the wall up the whole drive there, the guys were not disappointed when we arrived. I guess word is getting out on this crag, because we found ourselves amongst a dozen climbers sharing astral wall. Or maybe it was the fact that while it was 90 degrees down below in the valley, it was cool shaded and breezy up on the wall.
Austin on Whitewashed, the hardest established route on the wall.
I did the longest route on the wall, Astral Cloud all the way to the top. What an incredible route! It is the longest single pitch sport route I have ever done. It climbs for over 50 meters (170ft) up a vertical to slightly over hanging wall with jug after jug. Its so hard to grade a route like this since there are so many amazing rests, but it falls somewhere in the 5.11- range.

Austin about halfway up the wall.
We camped at a sweet spot up there and got on a few more routes on Sunday morning, before heading to Honeycomb Buttress to get on the hard line there. I had last been on it almost 4 years ago, but it had stuck in my head and I was even able to remember a lot of the moves. I'd heard it had been done by a local and given 13c, I was skeptical of the grade, but after getting back on it I realized the moves by the fourth bolt are actually very hard. It was really fun taking turns with Austin and Kevin and sharing beta. Kevin made good progress on some of the really hard moves that I just can't do, but even if I can't send it, it's the type of route that you just want to get on and work. I'm sure I haven't seen the last of that route.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Inland Northwest Spring Break

Last week I had a really nice climbing getaway to a part of the state I hadn't explored before. Austin and I drove out to Deep Creek in Spokane, then checked out the limestone crags of Marcus and Metaline Falls a couple of hours north near the Canadian border. I ended up completing just a handful of routes, but I pretty much wore out my skin and can still feel the tenseness in my forearms of 4 days straight climbing. First at Deep Creek I was keen to try something a little harder than what I got on when I was last there a few years ago. Together we worked a really powerful 12b called Dump Truck, but we couldn't pull the bouldery start and the endurancy headwall together. It was a similar story the following day at Marcus where we got shut down on a 5.12, then at Metaline Falls I set my sights a little lower and sent and 11d second go. I can definitely feel my lack of route stamina from not climbing much over the winter, but I feel like I had just as much fun working and sending 11's that were close to my limit as I would have 12's.

Being out in the rolling forested hills of NE Washington was easily the best part. Sunbathing in the heat of the day, the views of the lakes and hills from the crags were amazing, and spending some great nights in solitude camped out under stars is something I really miss. Since it was just the two of us, we didn't get many photos, but here are a few taken from our phones.

Eagles circling me as I work my way up a classic 11b at Marcus

Gives you an idea of the steepness
I am a proponent of writing the route name on the rock. So much easier for visitors to deserted crags.

Austin and Little Si are in no rush.

Not a bad view from the crag.

We only climbed the tip of the iceberg of available rock.

Sunset means its time to get the fire going.

So many routes, so little skin.

Fourth day on, ready to go home.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Year, New Beginning

What a fantastic year 2012 was. I made some great climbing memories last year. Some that stand out were Red Rocks with Austin and Kevin, 22 routes in a day with Chris, Leavenworth with Tony, Smith with Austin, and Tieton, Vantage, and Banks Lake group trips, I could go on. What really made these trips so much fun was the great company. I'm realizing my motivation for climbing is changing. I used to be very focused on grades and numbers, sometimes to the detriment of my enjoyment. But what I really value are the experiences, sharing amazing times with good friends. I want that to be the goal of my climbing in 2013. I don't know how hard I am going to climb but I'm really excited about just sharing time outside with friends and climbing whatever looks fun. My perspective has changed a lot in the last couple of months. I have become a Christian and with it I feel a sense of fulfillment that I could never achieve through climbing. I love climbing, but in the past it had become an unhealthy focus. I now feel I have much more to look forward to. I am really excited about where I will go in climbing with this new perspective. I am already planning my spring break trip, thinking about summer climbing plans and beyond, and weekend trips to Vantage are just a couple months away. Bring on 2013!