A Taste of Reality

After 16 weeks of rest, rehab and training, I finally make it back out to real rock.  Sunday I had the day off and decided to go exploring.  I packed up my gear, fill my tank and started driving to the one area that might be warm and dry enough to actually do climbing.  The Idaho desert!  20 miles from my house I pealed off the highway and began drifting down a soupy mess of a ‘dirt’ road.  For the next five miles I drifted back and forth, splashed through a few substantial puddles until I found myself at Magic Reservoir dam.  Just below the dam are a few short cliff that have seen a little development over that last few years, mostly by my good friend Ian Jameson.

Earlier this winter another friend, Steff Carter and Ian went out for a day of climbing and sun baking.  Upon their return Steff told me about a ‘ridiculous’ undone project out there.  Crimps, slaps, tension and zero feet, it sounded amazing!  During my exploration of the area I found the project.  My eyes started to trace the moves between the small hold until the crux near the top.  She was right, there was nothing, either for your hands or your feet.  I had to try it and find out for myself what impossible actually felt like.  I was always under the impression the it is impossible to understand what impossible is, like grasping the concept of infinity, but I digress.  That day I was on my own and left my shoes in town.  It would have to wait for another day.

Instead I began looking for possibilities of new routes.  I walked around the entire area below the dam.  Hiking across the river to a band of short cliff that looked somewhat promising, but were only half decent boulder problems with bad landings.  Back across the river and up the hill side to another cliff band, again I found mediocre boulder highballs, but this time the landings were nearly perfect.  As this was my first time back on out after 16 weeks of recovering from a bouldering accident, bouldering alone with no pad was not a top priority, I kept walking.

A short while later I found myself exactly where I had started, looking up at that short, but oh so blank project.  The funny part about that route was it was on the best looking rock out there.  While many of the routes out there look like fun, they tend to be on less than ideal rock broken up by a ledge or have giant blocks near them that you would want to avoid both climbing up and falling down.  This short cliff band to the right of everything was the only thing that was actually clean and inviting to climb.  Thats when I saw it…

Just to the right was an incredible looking roof, painted with neon green lichen.  Below the roof was a fun easy face that lead directly into the knife edge arete of the roof.  Above was more lichen covered rock that looked as though it would clean up and climb really well.  The only thing left was to get up there and see if the roof’s arete was actually climbable.  8 ft of blank looking climbing lead to a horn at the pinnacle of the roof that would allow access to the upper half.

Later that night my bag was pack with a drill, plenty of bolts and a much needed wire brush.  I had planned to go alone, but my sister sent her boyfriend, Ross, down for the day to help with belays and learn the secret art of route development.  We left early on Monday morning hoping the sloppy road I drove the day before would be frozen from the night before.  As we reached the crag, the sun began to burn through the clouds and slowly warm the day for us.  We slung a few large blocks on top, loaded my harness with hardware and rapped over the edge.  I was greeted with a 3 1/2 wedge anchor sticking out of the rock 3 1/4 inches.  This was left behind by Ian Jameson a year ago when he went in to bolt this line, but forgot his hammer.  As I looked down the line I realized that his anchor placement seemed to be 5 ft the left of where I saw the natural line going.  I swung over and started drilling some anchors.

I have bolted a fair amount of basalt routes, but this one was different, at least for Southern Idaho basalt.  It was clean and solid.  With only one loose block on the entire route, all I had to do was scrub this thing into submission and scrub I did.  This route might not be long or sustained but for where we were, the quality of the rock and pure aesthetics of the roof, it is definitely worthy.

the left line was previously bolted.  I bolted the line on the right, though the roof

the left line was previously bolted. I bolted the line on the right, though the roof

Later that day Ian Jameson received a hall pass from this wife and 3 week old baby girl and came to give the rig a try.  We finished bolting it and threw ourselves at the ridiculous roof crux over and over again.  I found a very unlikely sequence of moves that forces you to palm press the glass smooth roof, hike the feet and make a full span dead point to sloping edge on the far side of the roof.  I was able to stick this move once, but moving out of it to the jug provided another problem in itself.  The section above and below however climb really well and are easy to read.

With the day coming to an end and the Wood River YMCA climbing team meeting soon for practice, it was time for me to leave.  We pack up our gear, left Ian to his fishing and started to make our way back to the car through the now blog like muddy ground.  All in all it was a great first day out on rock since my surgery.  Full of good people, great weather and the sound of a power drill, I couldn’t ask for much more.

the projects are on the right

the projects are on the right

In most cases this would be the end, but unfortunately it was not.  On our way out the road had returned to its soupy state and got the best of my truck.  The deep puddles and mud found its way into the internals of my engine and shut us down shortly after reaching the highway.  Turns out that it spoiled a few of my spark plugs and wires.  A tow was required.  As I waited for the tow truck, I watched as time went by.  I missed our climbing teams practice.  After that, I missed one of my best friend’s birthday.  And on top of all of that, the one time I was able to stick the dead point move, I strained my ankle and am now gimping around again.  They say that you have to take the bad to get the good, I just hope that the bad I received yesterday evening is enough to provide me with good all summer.

Advertisements

Winter is coming…

As I slowly walked down the drive way listening to the methodical clicking of my knee brace I pick a piece of long grass and rest it between my lips.  Clouds have begun to move in and are now blocking the sun.  The wind has begun its afternoon journey north through the valley and I can feel it bringing winter with it.  Driving the tractor, moving piles of dirt from point A to point B, I find myself sympathizing with the farmers around the country.  While dating is made easy through a very sophisticated website designed to find the perfect goat roping gal for that hay bailing man, framers do have to deal with day light savings time and the waining hours of lights as winter approaches.  It might seem like a good idea to utilize the morning sun, it means working in colder temperatures and your day ends that much earlier.  Fortunately for myself I was able to finishing moving all my dirt piles before the sun had set.

My foray into the mind of my mid-western counterpart has started my cogs turning.  What does a farmer do during their off season?  Are they the travel agent’s antithesis of the school teacher? Beyond my general curiosity of a farmers personal life, thoughts of what my own winter would be like have begun to fill my mind.  As my knee as begun to heal more every day, finding a job is quickly becoming my number one priority.  For the last few weeks I have felt like the farmer without a crop, looking out over the vast nothingness that fills my days.

I might have exaggerate a little.  My days are not nearly as empty as a december cornfield, though they are not as busy as I am used to.  The Wood River YMCA has morphed into my second home.  While I do not currently hold a job, I have focused a good portion of the day to familiarizing myself with the finger board and free weights.  Winter has always been the time for us climbers to hide inside under plastic holds and colored tape,  but this year I find myself with an actual direction in my training.

With all the restrictions that come with purchase of a new ACL, I have had to explore new exercises and get a little more creative with some old ones.  A side from my physical therapy and knee rehabilitation, I have turn my attention towards upper body fitness with a focus on finger strength and lock off ability.  One thing that has been lacking and somewhat frustrating is my lack of cardio in my workouts, until this last weekend that is.

Every day that goes by signifies one day closer to getting back on that proverbial horse and actually climbing again.  Until that days comes I will spend my time becoming better acquainted with my new friends the stop watch and hang board.   Without focus and direction, training can be more detrimental than not training at all.  For the next few weeks I will be sharing the training program I have designed and slowy refining for myself as well as the one I have created for my young padawan I am coaching for our local climbing comp at the Wood River YMCA on Dec 14.  So while winter is coming, so is the sweat, the pain, and the gains.  Its time to fall in love with plastic all over again!

3 months from anywhere

The sedentary life style is not for everyone.  It takes a special type of person to sit on their couch or in their recliner, day in and day out, watching the sun rise and fall.  They know the change of season as though it were a television show.  Experiencing them only with their eyes as double pain glass maintains life a comfortable 68 degrees.  You must have the dedication to consume as many calories as your body can physically handle while burning as few as possible.  Most importantly you must understand that in the end all those extra calories will be provide you with a layer a cushion and warmth making your activity-less life that much more comfortable.

IMG_1211

Ive always said that I would try anything once, so I set out to see what all the craze was about.  I decided to try and understand why so many Americans chose to stay inside, in front of an LCD screen telling them about all the incredible things outside their front door.  For three days thats what I did, or I guess more appropriately what I did not do.  I was amazed by how difficult it is to do nothing.  My back became incredibly sore.  I slept more in those three days than I had in the last month.  I could feel my muscles shutting down as atrophy takes affect, turning my muscle mass into a layer a dense adipose tissue.  It is incredible how fast our bodies can adapt to a given environment.

IMG_1204

Little bruising

IMG_1198

Look at all those holes!

I feel as though I should say that this life style was not one that was chosen, but rather bestowed upon me.  On tuesday morning at 7:30 am I was graciously gift a new patellar ligament from someone that has passed before there time.  Since then my level of activity has declined to the point of trying to get my right leg to go straight, bend past 90 degrees and force my quadricep to fire.  It has been a drastic change from what I have been doing all year up to this point.  A few days ago someone special told me that if I had asked her three months ago if she thought she would be where she is now, she would have laughed at the very thought of it.  Three months ago I was planning on being back in Colorado enjoying the warm days with good friends, exploring a landscape new to me.  If I was told that in three months I would be in Idaho recovering from a surgery I would have laughed at the thought as well.  But I cannot say I don’t appreciate where I am, in fact I am starting to rather enjoy this twist of fate.

Only feet from the lip of the Cave

Only feet from the lip of the Cave

Yesterday I decided I had enough of my sedentary experiment.  It seemed as though I was going nowhere, so I got behind the wheel of my truck for the first time in almost a week and drove out to the middle of the Idaho desert.  A few months ago a couple friends put a plan into affect to give an old area a new look.  With a little promotion and a lot of support from the local community they were able to raise enough money to replace all of the old tattered slings and draws with perma draws, chains and steel biners.  The only thing left to do was put them up, which with over a hundred to replace and being a giant cave, this was no easy task.

Idaho's underground climbing club.

Idaho’s underground climbing club.

new hardware awaiting their paint while Joe works on replacing the old tat

new hardware awaiting their paint while Joe works on replacing the old tat

Peter's kids having a little too much fun!

Peter’s kids having a little too much fun!

 

Looking good

Looking good

While I could not offer much help as far as actually replacing the hardware goes, I was able to offer a my assistances in painting, moral support and comic relief.  Out of the five people that were able to come help, over 80 draws were replaces and a new life was given to these old routes.  Some of the largest contributors had never even been to this places yet they dedicated their time and money to helping out our small community.

Tom Smart takes a short break to test the new hardware.  This is his first time ever at the Cave.

Tom Smart takes a short break to test the new hardware. This is his first time ever at the Cave.

Peter working his way up as his son admires the skillful stick clip.

Peter working his way up as his son admires the skillful stick clip.

Tom watches as John show off the good rest.

Tom watches as John show off the good rest.

John working his way out of the abyss as Tom gather beta.

John working his way out of the abyss as Tom gather beta.

A wise man once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”  I could not agree more with Ferris Bueller.  This last years has been a bit crazy but the last three months have been everything but what I expected.  The funny thing is, Im stoked about the mess that it has been.  It is incredible what can transpire in single day.  A crag can receive a complete face life, a knee can fall apart or be completely rebuild, plans to move to a different town, state or country can fall apart or be born.  Anything is possible, only question is where will you be three months from now?

It was a good day.  You can't beat that desert beauty.

It was a good day. You can’t beat that desert beauty.

Time to stop getting so high for a while…

A short while ago I decided that I should do the rest of the world a favor and create a blog!  I know what you are all thinking, “OMG!! Now I can keep up with all the amazing things that Ian Cavanaugh is doing without constantly stalking him on ‘The Book’ or constantly asking everyone around me if they have heard the latest news on what Ian just sent!!”  Unfortunately life once again intervened and I stepped away from my computer, again dawning my harness and rack and set off for the rocks.  By doing so I left you all in the dark, not allowing you to live vicariously through me, I am sorry.  Lucky for all of you I am now forced to take a little time off and fill you in on what my life has been like up to this point, or at least the year.

Sunset over desert towers

Sunset over desert towers

In the middle of December 2012 I packed my car and made the terrifying journey east from Idaho, through the Mad Max dream world of Wyoming and planted myself in the Middle Earth of ‘Merica, better known as Boulder, Colorado.  Knowing only a few people it took some time to find a decent selection of climbing partners, but I eventually did and was able to get out pretty often.  I was immediately captivated with the thought provoking climbing in Eldorado Canyon and spent as much time as possible there.  I slowly started ticking off some of the classics such as Dubb-Griffith, The Naked Edge, Mellow Fellow, Mellow Yellow, Rincon and the Wisdom.  While these routes were amazing and continually draw me back there were a few lines that stand out in my mind as phenomenal routes and will stay with my forever.  These routes are To RP or Not To Be .12aX, The Evictor .12+R and Je’Taime .12c.  To me these routes encompassed everything a great line should be.  Thought provoking, powerful yet delicate as well as mentally and physically testing.

Third pitch of Doub-Griffith

Third pitch of Doub-Griffith

Living on the 'Edge' with Steff Carter

Living on the ‘Edge’ with Steff Carter

The Spring time could be summed up very simply in two words, Indian Creek!  While we were only there for a short amount of time, this was by far my favorite time I have taken to the desert.  Rest days were filled with a little swimming, exploring some of the other parks, a few days of amazing mountain biking and some much needed laughter filled relaxing with some of the best people the planet has to offer.  While I didn’t amass any great tick list while I was down there I did get on some classics and finally felt as though I was able to actually climb desert cracks.  My friend Lucas Hill and I were able to send Less Than Zero with a little work and just before heading home I finally made my own contribution to the Creek with a route I named Beer Run.  I could not have asked for a better 10 days.

Cody Scarpella in disbelief of how solid that fine desert mud can be

Cody Scarpella in disbelief of how solid that fine desert mud can be

Late Spring and early Summer was filled of days spent in BoCan and Clear Creek Canyon, running around repeating some classics and a few not so classics.  I had a few good sends including Maestro .12d in CCC and the incredible West Overhang in the Flatirons.  Still I left many projects undone as the temperature rose and friction fell.  In mid-June Artley Goodhart and myself headed west to meet Max Bechdel in the Beartooth mountains to try and complete a line Max and myself attempted 3 year prior.  With 70-80lbs packed, we trudged in and prepared for 4-5 days on the West Face of the Lower Dublet.  On our third day on the wall we reached the summit of one of the most captivating alpine walls I have had the pleasure to touch.  After several rappels we spend the night enjoying a bottle of whiskey, a can of Chef Boyardee and laughing about everything we had just been through.  The next morning, after a little convincing and a promise of a beer at the Grizzly, Max agreed to lead one of the crux pitches for some photographs.  My hope was to capture some amazing images on this incredible face and hopefully convince someone to one day repeat this phenomenal route.  After three years, 8 trips and enough rain to dub ourselves the ‘Soggy Bottom Boys’, Max Bechdel, Artley Goodhart and myself completed the first ascent of the west face of the Lower Dublet via our The Line of Constant Sorrow V 5.12- A1 11 pitches.  I plan on returning next summer to go for the full free ascent.

One of many quick snow storms that came through on our first day on the Lower Doublet

One of many quick snow storms that came through on our first day on the Lower Doublet

humping loads, the Doublets' loam above

humping loads, the Doublets’ loam above

humping loads, the Doublets' loam above

humping loads, the Doublets’ loam above

Artley Goodhart on pitch 1

Artley Goodhart on pitch 1

Artley Goodhart on Pitch 1

Artley Goodhart on Pitch 1

Artley Goodhart on pitch 4, the 'Slab-lantic' pitch.  40m of traversing on the edge of a hanging slab

Artley Goodhart on pitch 4, the ‘Slab-lantic’ pitch. 40m of traversing on the edge of a hanging slab

Falling from the crux 5th pitch.

Falling from the crux 5th pitch.

Max on pitch 6.  One of the best crack pitches I have ever climbed.

Max on pitch 6. One of the best crack pitches I have ever climbed.

Max Bechdel Pitch 5

Max Bechdel Pitch 5

Max Bechdel Pitch 5

Max Bechdel Pitch 5

Second morning on The Line of Constant Sorrow

Second morning on The Line of Constant Sorrow

Summit with Upper Doublet behind us.

Summit with Upper Doublet behind us.

The next month was spent just going out and having fun as well as working a lot.  the majority of my climbing was done in the early morning in order to escape the heat.  My friend Lucas Hill convinced me to head to the Black Wall on Mt Evans to attempt the second free ascent of a new route that was freed in 2012.  He didnt have to work very hard to convince me.  I had heard of this wall and this route inparticular from several people.  With Lucas heading to Central America the next day, we only had one chance at this.  We got an early start, anticipating the afternoon showers and arrived at the base of the wall around 8:30am.  The Black Wall is a mythical creature as far as alpine walls are concerned.  600+ ft tall, a 20min approach, tops out at nearly 13,000ft elevation and you rappel to the base! Once you climb the last pitch, you are done!  Alpine climbing does not get any more comfortable or convenient.  On the crux second pitch I fought with everything I had but was unable to hold on.  I saw a hidden crimp to late and didnt have enough left in me to stick the move.  Lucas followed the pitch clean and we carried onto the top without any more trouble.  We topped out around noon and enjoyed a snack on the rim looking down through the valley as the clouds rolled in over our heads.  We were 1 move away from an onsite of Undertow.  While I was a little frustrated at the time, it was an incredible day.  Plus it gives us a reason to go back to that amazing place and once again climb that incredible route.

Following the first pitch on 'Undertow'

Following the first pitch on ‘Undertow’

Starting the Crux pitch of 'Undertow'

Starting the Crux pitch of ‘Undertow’

Lukas Hill and myself on top of the Black Wall

Lukas Hill and myself on top of the Black Wall

I know what your thinking right now, “My fingers tips are sweating and my butt is sore from sitting on the edge of my seat while reading about all these amazing things!” But dont worry, I am almost to end of this enthralling post.

Base camp atop pitch 6, Line of Constant Sorrow

Base camp atop pitch 6, Line of Constant Sorrow

In the end of July I was lucky enough to get on a plane with my family for an amazing trip through Eastern Europe.  Starting in Sarajevo, Bosnia we worked our way west to the the coast of Croatia where we enjoyed some sun, swimming and a little sport climbing.  From there we ventured north along the coast on our way to visit some distant cousins in Slovenia.  After a day visiting the place my Grandfather was born and raised we spent the evening telling each other of our lives in our different countries over some home made wine.  With the night turning to early morning it was time for us to leave and for me to once again pack my bag with climbing gear and head to the mountains.  Two year earlier during my first visit to Yosemite I shared a campsite with a Slovenian by the name of Domen Kastelic.  Though our only day climbing together was a failed attempt at NIAD we decided to keep in contact and hopefully once again share a rope.  At 4:30am Doman picked me up outside my hotel and drove us to the Julian Alps while I slept, attempting to recover from the night before.  When we parked our car I still had very little idea on our plan for the day.  A short while down the trail Domen stopped and pointed.  “This is what we are climbing.”  In front of us was the 1000m face of Triglav, the highest peak in Slovenia.  His plan was to take us up the classic route of Helba and then link it into the upper headwall route of Srp.  I had never before climbed in the Alps let alone on any limestone as lose or angry as this 3000ft wall we were delicately dancing our way up.  Just shy of 9 hrs we topped out.  As I stood on the rim of the wall I peered down into the valley aptly name Vrata, “the Door”.  Never before have I seen such an amazing view.  With limestone walls rocketing out of the ground thousands of feet into the air, this was a place a dreams.  Vrata makes Mordor look like a vacation resort.  After a short drive home, back to Ljubljana, Domen took me out for some celebratory drinks in an artist district converted from an old prison.  By our second beer we were already planning the next time we would share a rope.  While it may not be for a while, it promises to be another grand adventure.

High in the Alps somewhere

High in the Alps somewhere

Following Domen on an adventure

Following Domen on an adventure

unknown pitch, too many

unknown pitch, too many

Summit of Triglav's North Face

Summit of Triglav’s North Face

Heading home for a could Lasko

Heading home for a cold Lasko

Two weeks later I returned to Sun Valley, Idaho only to find the valley on fire.  For two weeks we watched as it burned the mountains surrounding the towns of Hailey and Ketchum, forcing more than half of the Valley to evacuate.  More that 1500 fire crew member gave everything they had and saved that those great towns.  After Europe I no longer had work or place to live in Boulder, I decided to stay in Idaho for a little while.  Excited to get back into some serious climbing after only two day out in the last 6 weeks, I started to train.  Jonathan Seigrist came back to finish up what he started at the Fins last years, helping to motivate me to get out and get strong again.  After a fun day pulling on limestone pockets and laughing around a campfire, I awoke to heartbreaking news.  A friend from Bozeman, Montana had tragically passed away in a terrible climbing accident in Wyoming.  Kevin Volkening was an incredible person.  He inspired everyone that knew him.  He had an infectious personality that kept everyone smiling and laughing even when he was not around.  His memory will live on through his incredible wife Marge, his family and friends.  While your time on this earth was short, you made this world a better place.  We love you Kevin, rest in peace my friend.

Kevin Volkening letting out his monkey/wolf howl

Kevin Volkening letting out his monkey/wolf howl

Working Bushido at the Fins.  Photo Kevin Macartney

Working Bushido at the Fins. Photo Kevin Macartney

A few weeks later I was again back at the Fins, but this time with a few of my best friends from Montana.  It was one of the best weekends of the years.  We climbed hard and laughed harder.  Kevin McCartney made quick work of a few .13s, Ethan James flashed his first .12 and Pat Dyess and myself both clipped the chains on a short but fun .13a call Hapachulo.  But with the Fall coming quick, climbing at the Fins was coming to an end.  It was time to shift focus to the granite blobs of the City of Rocks and Castle Rock.  With one route on my mind I set off early one morning to clean and run a few mini-trax laps on a route described in Dave Bingham’s guide book as “the most badass lead in the City of Rocks.”  In 1986 Stan Caldwell and Dan Sperlock set off up this intimidating line not know what they were getting in to.  Nearly 30 years later this route may have never seen a repeat.  With the gear and beta dialed, I was ready.  I just needed a belayer I trusted and perhaps someone as stoked as I to repeat it with me.  After a little work I was able to acquire Stan’s phone number and find out the true story about this mysterious route.  It turns out that Stan and Dan had traverse into the upper difficulties, avoiding the first 40-50 feet of nearly unprotectable climbing.

On the first ascent of the direct start to 'Ghetto Blaster'

On the first ascent of the direct start to ‘Ghetto Blaster’  Photo Jonathan Siegrist

Idaho Mountain Festival!!  This is perhaps my favorite climbing event I have ever been to and this year was shaping up to the be even better than last.  My best friend since middle school drove down from Denver with his girl friend, Jonathan Seigrist was going to be there crushing as usual, as well as most of my friends from Sun Valley.  With poor weather friday morning, Ghetto Blaster was not looking like it was going to be an option.  We soon, however, received word from a ranger that the City was receiving better weather.  Too excited to wait I told Jonathan where to meet me and jump in my truck.  I picked up Cody and Dana on my way and headed straight the project.  Shortly after we arrived the weather cleared and it was time.  I ran one more quick TR to remember my sequence and gear.  With Cody on the other end of my rope and Jonathan with the camera, I set off.  While the direct start is not as difficult as the upper crux, it is insecure, balance oriented and able to spit you off in a second.  The gear as well is less than inspiring and somewhat difficult to place.  But before I knew it I was at the rest and had rejoined the main route, now I just had to keep it together to the top.  Once I reached the upper .10 ‘dessert’ hand crack I couldnt stop yelling!  I lowered back to the ground to find Jonathan was stoked.  He grabbed the rack off my harness and set off.  In 30 minutes this route has seen more action than it had in nearly 30 years, and received a new direct start.  We dubbed it ‘Straight out of the Ghetto’ .12+R.  Two days later Cody Scarpella went up for its third ascent of the weekend!

Cody on 'Straight out of the Ghetto' .12+R

Cody on ‘Straight out of the Ghetto’ .12+R

Jonathan Siegrist on first ascent of Chumming .13a

Jonathan Siegrist on first ascent of Chumming .13a

Working Chumming.  I sent 1 week after this was taken

Working Chumming. I sent 1 week after this was taken

That same weekend I began to work a route a friend had bolted several years prior and was still awaiting a first ascent.  The first ascent fell quickly to Jonathan, inspiring both Cody and myself to get on this short but beautiful line.  After Cody’s send on Sunday we headed straight to ‘Chumming’.  I gave it everything I had but headed home with sore fingers and only a one-hang to show.  I was close but still felt miles away.  I returned the following weekend with that route as my only goal.  A few attempts on Sunday left me feeling weaker than I had the previous weekend.  My skin was thin and I was convinced I had no chance at it.  Monday I promised that I would take my friend Conrad over to try it and give it one more attempt.  After Conrad made quick work of the beta, I tied in and set off.  I some how made it through the crux for the first time from the ground.  I had one more move to a good hold and a semi rest when my fingers gave up and spit me off.  That was it, it was over.  30 minutes later with temperatures dropping Conrad gave it another try.  He moved quickly to the crux, but fell on the same move that had stopped me several times before.  He came down and gave the sharp end to me.  Tired, thrashed and skin free I didnt expect to even make it to the crux.  I was in shock when I stuck the crux.  I was back to my original high point when all the sudden my right hand exploded off a sloping crimp.  Without thinking, my hand rocketed back to the hold as quickly as it exploded off, somehow catching myself from falling.  My finger tips had split open on the crux razor crimps and the blood was oozing out on the every hold I touched.  At the rest I was able to relax enough, I focused and fought my way to the chains.  With the sun well below the mountains, behind the Comp Wall, it was time to go home.  Elated and exhausted, I could be more ready to make that 3 hour drive back to Sun Valley.

The Vrata Valley and Mt. Triglav, Slovenia

The Vrata Valley and Mt. Triglav, Slovenia

As I sit here and type out this 9 month journey I realized what an amazing year I had.  I have all of that to thank for all of the incredible people I climbed with, met and shared these amazing experiences with.  Last weekend some of the most amazing people in Idaho all gathered in the nothing land of Twin Falls for a simple, underground-esque bouldering competition.  A fun event focused more around the cleaning of an area and the community rather than the climbing.  During the actual climbing portion, I fell and exploded my ACL.  While I was disappointed with the idea of what I was going to be dealing with for the next few months, I turned my focus back to the event and gave all the support I could to my amazing friend Beau Stuart.  I did all I could to help him move his pad, tally his points and give him all the support I could to push him to his limits.  By the end of the event my selfish thoughts about my failure at the comp, the surgery and rehabilitation i would have to deal with all vanished.  I was reminded why we are all out there, why we are all climbing in general.  While my climbing season has come to an end, the world hasnt stopped.  The granite, the limestone, sandstone, basalt, it will all be there when I am again healthy and able to climb.

Stoked after a great day, even if I just blew out my ACL

Stoked after a great day, even if I just blew out my ACL

So here I sit waiting for surgery, planning my rehab program/training program that I will be able to do while my knee is recovering.  I know that the next few months will feel like an eternity but in a strange way I am looking forward to it.  Stepping away from something that you have been so fully intwined with allows us to gain perspective.  It gives us a chance to look at what is truly important, what we love and hate about what we are doing.  I look forward to discovering how I feel and what I really find to be important in this mess that I call a life.

All thats left to do is sit back and enjoy a cup of coffee and let the healing begin

All thats left to do is sit back and enjoy a cup of coffee and let the healing begin