Category Archives: Blog

Good Times in the Desert!

Kate and I have been hanging in the Moab/Indian Creek area for a few weeks now keeping plenty busy climbing.  I haven’t been to psyched to hang much in the Creek in the last few years as I don’t really feel like it does much to improve my climbing anymore.  That being said I have had a great time hanging there lately with good friends and good scenery.

The iconic North Six Shooter

The iconic North Six Shooter

I do have a few things in Indian Creek on my tick list.  One of them being Learning To Fly, a short but burly overhanging finger crack.  Originally it was rated 5.13+ by Didier Berthod but it seems the grade has settled to a more realistic 5.13b.  I managed to convince our posse to head up to the Wall to check it out.  Much to my surprise I almost got the onsight.  I fumbled one short section a half move before a rest but pulled right back on and went to the top.  I didn’t give it another try that day as I was scared I could hurt my finger on it.  A week later I rallied another group of friends to head back up to the Wall so I could give it another go.  This time things went perfectly and I cruised it.  Didn’t even get pumped which was pretty cool!

Learning to Fly at the Wall.  Photo by Sinuhe Xavier

Learning to Fly at the Wall. Photo by Sinuhe Xavier

Kate’s dad, Mark, came to visit us for a week allowing us a little rest and relaxation…. sort of…

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Mt. Tiedemann (ED2 1600m 5.11) Waddington Range, BC

Here’s a story Kate wrote for the Sportiva blog on our 2008 trip to the Waddington Range

The weather was perfect. We landed on the glacier and the next morning we made a huge breakfast and packed for four days. We walked out on to the glacier. Mt. Tiedemann, 3838 m (12592 ft) one of the high peaks in British Columbia’s Coast range. This became the object of Julia Niles and my desire a mere six days before standing before it.

Mikey Schaefer and Micah Dash had encouraged us to come, wooing us with tales of Karakorum like rock just 10 hours north of Vancouver. Unable to resist, Julia took time off work, we bought way too much food and we were on a Blue Bell Jet Ranger with expert chopper pilot Mike King.

Julia looking up at the south buttress of Asperity with Tiedemann just behind

Julia looking up at the south buttress of Asperity with Tiedemann just behind

Micah and Mikey had big plans to climb Mt. Combatant via a new route up the huge and gorgeous Incisor. Julia and I thought we might as well climb the mountain next to theirs, Mt. Tiedemann. Julia and I headed up Mt. Tiedemann’s southern buttress, finding awesome unclimbed splitters to the right of the Direct South Buttress route.

Noon the second day found us climbing exposed wide cracks on the skyline ridge. This was our first view of Mt. Combatant and it came with yells from the boys. We answered with hoots and hollers, we were having a blast. After way too much yelling, we came to the conclusion that they were calling for help. Twelve rappels later, a glacier slog to reach the radio and a slog back, we found Micah with a broken heel and a sprained ankle. We carried him on an ice axe throne a few hundred meters to a flat spot, and just like that our rockstar chopper pilot, Mike King came and carried him off to proper medical care. As we made our way back across the glacier, we were gloomy but relieved, now we were a team of only three.

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Northeast Buttress of Angels Landing IV 5.10+, Zion NP

Fun route with a great position.  Had wanted to do this one for awhile and finally got around to it.  Luckily Evan Stevens willingly rope gunned me up it so I could shoot some pics of Jasmin Caton and Kate

A Zion classic just as the new Supertopo guide book says.  Be warned though this isn’t a Zion classic in the Moonlight way.  It’s a zion classic in the alpine sort of way.  Expect some loose rock and a couple run-out sections but nothing to crazy.

The Northeast Buttress is the sun/shade line on the sunlit peak on the right

The Northeast Buttress is the sun/shade line on the sunlit peak on the right

The first few pitches are relatively straight forward.  We used the first two recommended belays and then opted for a full 60m pitch for the third pitch.  In retrospect we should of just belayed at the recommend spot.  The belay for the 4th pitch is two bolts which isn’t noted on the topo.

Jasmin Caton on the 2nd pitch

Jasmin Caton on the 2nd pitch

The 5th pitch is accurately described and pretty straight forward given the guide book beta.  There is a fixed pin and bolt that protects the crux of pitch 5, a #5 is also needed on this pitch.  Really cool pitch!  The belay ends on a huge ledge with great views.  The belay takes smaller cams but can be backed up 30ft to the left by 5 BOLTS!

Kate Rutherford on the 5th pitch 5.10+ crux

Kate Rutherford on the 5th pitch 5.10+ crux

We then did one LONG 60+ meter pitch to a ledge just below what is marked as the top of pitch 8 on the topo.  The belay was a good bush and #4 and #5 camalot, other options probably exist as well.  We then skirted right into a 4th class gully that got progressively easier.

Jasmin on the varied 6th pitch

Jasmin on the varied 6th pitch

We only brought one #4 and thought this was enough.  The topo calls for 2.  A #5 is pretty mandatory and got used numerous times on the route.

Overall a recommend route that is worth doing!

Gentleman’s Agreement IV 5.13b 2nd free ascent??

Kate and I have been hanging in Zion National Park for past week trying to relax and get some climbing in after a hectic travel schedule.  We’ve had some sends and some shutdowns while here.   Now that the new Supertopo guide book is out we’ve have plenty of options as far as routes go.  We checked out a route called Freakshow deep in Zion Canyon that turned to be more of a choss show.  Definitely not the best route in Zion.

Be warned:  Steep cliffs ahead

Be warned: Steep chossy cliffs ahead

We’d heard good things about a route called Golden Years IV 5.12D+ over in Kolob canyon that we also went and checked out.  Route probably hasn’t seen a second free ascent yet, though I came close to pulling off the onsight.  Might go back for this one.   It’s cold up in Kolob so we need some warm weather to make it happen.   Here’s a pic of Rob Pizem on the FFA of it.

After a couple rest days we set our sight on the Gentleman’s Agreement.  We hadn’t heard anything about the route except what is written in the guide book.  We figured it maybe be a little to hard for our motivation levels right now but what the heck we figured.  Our first day on the route was a total recon day as the temps were in the upper 80’s and the route faces south.  After figuring out the approach I french free’d and aided my way up the first pitch which is the crux 13b pitch.  It seamed pretty doable.   I fell once on my first TR burn but cruised it my next go.  Kate had an identical performance.  We were surprised to say the least.

Here's a pic of the Mary's showing Gentlemans Agreement on the left. pic from Supertopo.com

So we left our gear at the base and planned to return the next day.

I had some pretty serious shakes trying to lead the first pitch in the sun first thing in the morning and really doubt I could actually pull of the lead.  I fell on my first attempt just 10ft shy of the anchor but felt like total crap.   But after a long rest and some time to regain my composure I went back up and managed to sketch my way through the pitch and clip the anchors.  After the crux pitch follows four 5.12 pitches that we figured would also give us a run for our money.  Much to our delight they turned out to be pretty easy, that is except for the first one which felt pretty tough in the short down poor of rain.  We also had two 5.11 OW’s up high that could of also proved to be challenging but again they were much much easier than expected.   Overall the route was of outstanding quality and not nearly as hard as it’s graded.  I wish I could say I dispatch of 13b and numerous pitches of 5.12 in a day, but I’d be lying to myself….

24 Hours of Horshoe Hell

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Late last month I was invited to go compete in the 24 Hours of Horsehoe Hell, a 24 hour sport climbing competition in Arkansas.   Previously I’d only been in one climbing competition and that was when I was 17 at a tiny bouldering gym.  It was pretty lame.   I  heard this comp is nothing like the normal comp scene and was sure to be a good time.  I also I figured I may do ok given the nature of the comp, that is climbing for 24 hours, something I’ve got a knack for.  Their were plenty of people I could of chosen as my partner but I knew Colin Haley would be the best choice, as he doesn’t take things to serious and is maybe as good as anyone at climbing a whole lot of vertical in one day.

So we made it happen and actually somehow managed to place 4th!  Not bad for a couple of “Alpinistos Gordos” as Colin called us.

Here’s a post on the Cleanest Line blog about our outing:   http://www.thecleanestline.com/2009/10/twenty-four-and-so-much-more-.html#more

A story and pics from the Arrigetch Peaks

Dirk nudges the throttle forward, on his 1957 Dehavilland Beaver.  The RPM’s race to 8000 creating a cloud of dust covering the gravel bar.  Quickly the historic plane leaps into the air as if it were a simple grasshopper jumping off to it’s next destination.  The dust settles leaving us and our 400lbs of gear on small gravel bar north of the arctic circle on the banks of the Alatna River,  deep in the Brooks Range of Alaska

The noise of the plane is replaced by the ever present dull sound of the arctic river making its way to the ocean, hundreds of miles away.  This is then replaced by the sounds of the wilderness, or the lack there of.  No combustible engines, no sounds of music, no people chatting on mobile phones, no far off motorcycles, or semi-trucks crawling up huge passes.

There are few feelings similar to getting dropped off in the middle of the wilderness. I realize how small I am and how immense the world really is.  Walking to the nearest road, which is over 200 miles away is nearly out of the question.  The scenario quickly races through my head.  I figure if worst came to worst we could fashion some sort of raft out the willows and the bear proof canisters we have with us and make a Lewis and Clark style expedition down river.  Thankfully that is not the plan! Continue reading

Off to the Arrigetch Peaks

We are making a quick turn around and heading farther north to the Brooks Range which lies just north of the Arctic Circle. We will be attempting to climb some off the peaks of the Arrigetch range in the Gates of the Arctic National Park.

Last night we met up with Tobey and Cort (our partners for the trip and new residents of Fairbanks)  and are making last minute preparations for the trip today.  We need to be Coldfoot tomorrow to catch another ride on a Beaver (the classic bush plane of AK)

The weather forecast isn’t looking to promissing at this point but hopefully it will improve and we’ll have at least a few good days of weather to get some climbing in.

Here’s a little beta on where we are going:

Arrigetch Peaks on Wikipedia

Clint Cummins collection of info

Fishing on the Togiak River

We just got back from an 8 day mini expedition on a small tributary on the Togiak River up in the Bristol Bay region of AK.  The trip started out pretty grueling with a knarly portage and bad weather but it quickly improved.  The fishing was amazing as expected as were the other members of the group.  The trip was in conjunction with Paradox Sports and Wild River Guides and was a total sucess.  Here are few quick grabs from the photos.

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