Back In Action – Summer Simmering

Well, I guess it has been a while since updating the blog at all.    The summer was pretty mellow, with lots of mellow climbing and not pushing things too hard.   Injuries mounting up (separated AC joint, rotator cuff issues, finger pulley issues, high ankle sprains, back issues flaring up, foot funk, etc) in conjunction with it being the “off” season here were mostly to blame.


It started out with a fun long weekend in the Mammoth area to celebrate my birthday with a great crew of friends.  Folks came in from all over and in spite of the weather forecast (and actual weather) being pretty bad, everyone stuck it out and had a great time.  The fact that these people hung out in poor weather, tent-bound (thankfully we had several E-Z Ups) for a good bit of the time is a testament to the character of my friends.  I’m lucky to have them.   Here are a few pics from that weekend:



Optimistic skies ahead while driving through the desert


Track 1:



A few members of the tribe


Ten Cuidado! Brewery visit



Good folks


In between storms


Travis bouldering on the last day



Ben hurling the discos



Weston hurling the discos




A number of strategies were employed.  Travis ready to huck and Shawn looking on



Sam and Weston at Convict Lake


We went on a fun hike, with a detour to a really cool creek


All in all that was a super fun trip with a great crew of close friends.  Definitely was bummed out that a few folks couldn’t make it, but in most cases it was simply “life happens” – hopefully more folks can make it this upcoming year.  All about having a good time!


Travis and I went for a wander a few pitches up the Prince of Footpain (Darkness) at Red Rock



Travis on PoD




A lovely day in Black  Velvet Canyon



Scrub Oak



Some fun sport climbing after, Weston leading


Track 2:


The foot funk issue I had been dealing with for most of the spring finally had subsided, so it was time to hop on some longer stuff.  Unfortunately, just as that cleared, I sprained my ankle running at Mt Charleston, but did see some sweet bristlecone pines



Ankle brace



Cool flower, yo


Trees older than our country



Weston launching into the roof of Grippity Gravity


Seth following Grippity Gravity. 


Seth on his first trad lead, Ragged Edges


Seth leading Bigfoot


Travis and I went up to Bishop to climb in Pine Creek Canyon, taking a lap on one of my favorite routes out there.  The 7 pitch 5.10c John Fischer Memorial Route provides an excellent, user-friendly slab experience and goes very quickly.  The route is super civilized, with each rap requiring a 70 meter rope and having mussy hooks.



Travis following a pitch down low



Travis following the crux pitch


Views from the route didn’t disappoint



More sweet views



Beverages stashed in the creek


Last summer, Mike and I attempted “Only The Good Die Young” in Black Velvet Canyon.  While that was certainly pushing the grade for me at the time, I got my ass handed to me on that route.  I wasn’t fast at all leading and we both agreed we got worked over pretty well.  We topped the second pitch around 1pm and the sun was about to hit us plus Mike had to be back in town to spend some time with his lady.  This year, we returned quite a bit better at face climbing and had a blast romping up the route mid-summer.  For a comparison, we started a bit later and were back at the Black Velvet trailhead before we bailed last go-round.  Progression is super rad!


Mike following P1




Mike following P2



FINALLY got to climb the mega fun third pitch



This pitch has a cool “edge of the universe” feel to it, even though you aren’t far off the deck


Mike following


I didn’t snap any photos on the last two pitches, but a hard traverse leads to easier technical edging and then some interesting easier terrain.  Only The Good Die Young is a super fun climb, and not to be missed.  A fun half day adventure.

Track 3


We did this route in early July, and much of my July was spent on the home front after a late June trip to Portland (super fun).  Another Portland trip idea was launched, to meet up with one of my best friends to go climb in the North Cascades.  The weather, however, did not cooperate but we made the best of it.  A big cold front swept through and made the areas we were hoping to climb quite soaked, so instead a late July trip to Smith Rock (!!!!) was in order.  I had never been, and Aaron knew the area, so off we went.

We arrived in the late afternoon our first day there, so went to the Gorge to climb some basalt.


Aaron on an awesome 5.9 route we did


Weston on some 5.10a, very fun

After leading those routes, there was a super fun 5.12b arete to the left we threw a toprope on.  One of the best pitches I have done anywhere – I do recall the name of that one, I believe it is Catalyst/Child Abuse.  Amazing route.  Unfortunately I had incurred a should injury while toproping it, so the next day we would have to keep things pretty mellow.  This wound up not being the worst thing ever, and we found a route with a cool name (Aaron is a HUGE Metallica fan) that got a lot of stars and decided to do it.  “Wherever I May Roam”


Aaron following down low on “Wherever I May Roam”



Weston leading out on some cool moves near the middle of the route


Weston squinting at a belay in a cool position.   Weird half-sun, half-cloud day.



Aaron and Weston atop “Wherever I May Roam” at Smith Rock


“Wherever I May Roam” was super fun and Smith Rock is such a cool zone….Bend was way cool as well.  After a cruise back to Portland, I was on a flight back to baking Las Vegas.  While I had a blast in Portland, after a few days back in Vegas I felt sort of trapped in the urban environment.  The heat was oppressive, escaping it seemed difficult, and I had yet to get my annual Tuolumne Meadows fix.  I got in touch with Jeff and we quickly decided to run up Cathedral and do some other clamberin’ while we were in the Meadows.


There is something about driving alone with late summer light across the high desert that just puts me into a happy place.  The ability to reflect in a solitary fashion away from work, away from home, away from everything just really allows me to be at peace.  I suppose the views likely assist in this:






Come to find out Seth was in Tuolumne as well, so we met up and bouldered a bit the first morning we were there



Weston bouldering in the Meadows



Seth bouldering in the Meadows

Following a short bouldering session with Seth, Jeff and I went up the first three or four pitches of the American Wet Dream route in Tuolumne.  Neither one of us found It particularly fun and decided beers and a bag of chips next to the river sounded like more fun.


Jeff at the base of P2?



Jeff on route somewhere



Views weren’t half bad





Down we went….to de RIVA, mon!



Proper finish to the day! Jeff enjoying the end of the day by the river.


Jeff had never done Cathedral Peak before, and I love that route (might be my all-time favorite of all-time), so we decided the next day that a Cathedral romp would be in order.  A casual start saw us doing the beautiful hike up to the Cathedral to get some religion:


Track 4:



Jeff simuling along



Views that never get old


High Country Best Country


Glorious Granite, Jeff following and enjoying near the finish of the route (summit block notwithstanding)


Jeff Jamming


Jeff on the Summit


Weston on the summit


We hung out on the summit for a minute, then booked it down to a more sheltered spot to eat lunch.  While eating lunch, we got a bit of a show as some highliners were working a line from Eichorn Pinnacle to the saddle of Cathedral Peak.  Pretty neat to watch



Highliners on Cathedral-Eichorn


Once we got done with the route we were down the hill and back in Lee Vining in no time enjoying Mono-Ritos as the Mono Market and having a laugh about the fun times shared in the high country.  I have said it before and will say it again, while the climbing can be world class, the company is even more world class.  Climbing isn’t always about doing rad things in the hills, although that’s a part of it.  Climbing to me, or backcountry skiing or mountain biking or running or any activity outdoors really, is about the moments at the end of the ride, the end of the climb, where high fives are exchanged, you watch a sunset with your closest of friends and maybe enjoy an adult beverage or two, or a meal, and everyone is just elated because what you did was so fun.

The drive home provided me a wonderful opportunity to come down from Cloud 11 and kind of re-focus.  As psyched as I was, it was still 110+ degrees in Las Vegas and rather rugged out.  Sam and I decided that a fun day trip would be to head to Zion and do a fun hike in the Kolob and then one in the main canyon and then go back home.  We did the Middle Fork of Taylor hike to the Double Arches and then the upper Emerald Pools Trail.














Didn’t take too many pics on the Emerald Pools hike, as there were about 9,000,000 tourists.  A sharp contrast from the more pleasant temps and human conditions over in the Kolob.


Shortly after getting home, my back started to flare back up and I had climbing plans the next day.  Ratcheting the difficulty down a bit and boosting the “adventure route” status up a bit, Matt and I hopped on Stilgar’s Wild Ride for an afternoon stroll.  The route parallels Tunnel Vision and shares a few short sections with it, including the start.

Track 5:


Matt coming up to the shared belay point with Tunnel Vision



Matt leading.  The “Tunnel” for Tunnel Vision is to the climber’s left of this shot







Matt following the final pitch



Views on the hike out, past the wall


A few days later, Travis and I came to the Angel Food Wall to climb a route that is another purported classic.  This one, Group Therapy, lived up to the billing.  A very fun after work romp!



Weston leading P1




Travis following P2 (?)



Travis enjoying the therapeutic nature of the route


Travis coming up to a belay higher on the route




All smiles after Group Therapy for Travis



Sunset and the feeling that Fall is on its way


These routes sort of rounded out my summer, with many great experiences had.  It’s incredible how it can feel as though you had done nothing, yet after writing up a summer’s worth of climbing, you realize you actually did do a fair bit of climbing.  I wanted to do some High Sierra routes, which didn’t happen, but that’s okay.  There’s always next summer to rage.


Thank you for taking the time to read this!