Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Rainbow Walla Walla

"update your grey matter cause one day it may matter"
Partner and breakfast

Somebody said that to me the other day.  I liked it.  There it is.

I have gathered a hint that writing about my personal growth and attempts at stirring conversation (other than climbing) via a blog are not fulfilling certain requirements.

To amend this audacity, here is some illusive move-by-move intensive spray, ensuring your slack-jawed attention....

Rainbow Wall.  The Original Route.  November 10, 2013.

Partner makes coffee while you just begin to notice a world outside your own eyelids.
Frantically search for the park pass (the same one you have used for weeks and just used yesterday) as the sun gradually mantels the horizon.
Warm up the truck, simul-searching for park pass and shoveling delicious eggs into mouth (also prepared by partner)
---Hey, hey, be nice! ... I cook the dinner and make the lunch, he cooks the breakfast.

Begin drive to Red Rocks, with a brief weight load check at port-o-john near entrance to campground.
Prepare and discuss fib for entrance gate worker--as park pass still hasn't shown itself
Get ushered into park with smiles and glitter---FREE PARK DAY! SIcKbirD
Drive entrance loop while rocking out to the LCD SoundSystem.
Park truck, finish packing bags (partner sneaks 2 large coils of cordelette into bag, it has become a personal joke to do this on most outings.
***don't make fun your partner for having so much extra shit on their harness)

Begin hike.
Nail the first part of the approach, but follow a trail up an extra steep slope prematurely (after passing under Cloud Tower) because you figure you need a little more leg work for an upcoming Patagonia trip.
Entering crux on second pitch
Hike down hill through a cat-trail before finally emerging beneath Red Rocks best version of the "death slabs"
Laugh and giggle
Sneak off for a pee (hydration is key)
Kick steps up the seemingly endless sandstone slabs, while ogling at the rad fold that splits Rainbow Mountains North Face right down the middle.
Rack-up, snack-up, bundle up.  (November on a north facing wall....I put on long underwear and still have no regrets about it.)
Partner heads up the first pitch 5.6
Partner slips off 6 feet up the first pitch, his catlike reflexes turn him around 180 degrees.  He lands with one foot on a 3L drom and the other foot on a boulder 1 foot off the ground.  Left hand gently bitch-slapping the wall during the pirouette.


Brief discussion of pain and options.
"You Okay?"
"Don't talk to me just yet."

Climbing crux of second pitch

"Can I see your wrist?"
"I am okay, gonna start again"

Mulligan commences
Sending commences.  Partner links first and second pitch 5.6 to 5.12.  (with a half-twisting-micro-dyno to crimps from an awkward stemming stance in a blank corner).
Wild!  Harder as a shorter person.
Sending continues.  Partner climbs next pitch 11d (wild barely dihedral seam with face holds.  Loud ape noises echoing about.  This pitch is a combo package of gear and bolts),
and next pitch 11b (more wild steep stemming, face climbing, and finger locks) and next pitch super fun 5.10 through a tree to a giant ledge.
Wait, wait, wait.  Don't be so judgemental just yet, we decided to climb this route in blocks.  He leads the first half, I lead the second

Arrive at PartnerSwapLeadTime (huge ledge 6 pitches up).

Simul-climb through blocky ledges with tremendous rope drag, while placing minimal protection.

Partner Headed up Pitch 3
Lead up nearly hold less stem box, excellent climbing 5.12
Grunt while debating on giving up because holds are just beyond reach and another dyno, really?
Grunt more.
Grunt and crimp tiny nothings.
Continue up strenuous lay back with perfect one foot long allotments for protection while partner adds to difficulty by "accidently" yanking on the tag line attached to your back-side 5.12
Grab onto personally placed protection because accidental yank freaks you out.

Gather thoughts, commence mulligan

Pitch finishes with wild face climbing left to anchor.  5.11
Ascend leftward then up *heel hook for bonus points somewhere along this pitch.
Lastly, clamber a 5.10 hand crack through roof, sandy slabby finish.

Top out an actual summit in Red Rocks!!!!!!
Take climbing shoes off, set up video camera for summit dance.
Stub toe
Eat peanut butter sandwich
Sign summit register
Pause for a moment of Gratitude!!!!! (Andrew Barnes)
Partner following upper crux pitch

Search for better rappel anchors
Use slings that are obvious, but aren't the cleanest line.
Commence rappel, moving knot so its easier to pull, repeat 7 more times or so.
Touch down to ground alongside both ropes and happy partner.

High Five!!!!

Hike out in daylight, nailing the de-proach with no extra training errors.
Sip Beer back at truck while chatting with an older gentleman who finds it appropriate to look me up and down while asking,

"Rainbow Wall?  What time did you start?  Today? "

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Caution: emotional share

The below, I wrote somewhere along the long journey home from Greenland this summer.  I have just discovered it, re-read it and decided, although emotional, it is something I desire to share.  To remind myself of love, loving, and that in the big picture some things just don't matter.  

Tell someone you love them everyday--love everyday!

"The futility and emptiness of my existence were symbolized by the simple act of jumping
up from the chair.  Nothing in the everyday habits of a man is ordinarily freighted with
more purposefulness than the business of quitting a chair.  The swift leverage may impel
him on any one of a thousand different errands and opportunities.  But with me it led only
to blank walls."  Alone p. 127

I feel as though I could write and write and words could not fill enough pages to express
to you my true thoughts and emotions.

I haven't slept…really since July 8th.  I didn't know then Andrew had passed or maybe he
was in transit…as I type I don't know time of death or details of the incident.  Some don't
believe in soul connections, to you I am sorry…I wish you would take the time to listen.

You might find in those quite and intuitive moments exist something greater, a breath, a voice, a dream, a heart leaping.

I know that on July 9th during the hours of 7pm and ­3am Greenland time that sleep was
absent and thoughts of Andrew flooded stronger than any day so far (I often waited for
sleep to come with thoughts of him, his last text..our last embrace…)  I also know that during
that day…as I weirdly wandered about the rainy day Fjord, that my thoughts of him were
odd….not solvent.

Andrew was a friend, a love, a soul connection, a climbing partner and an amazing example of a man. We have this wild connection that words can't touch.  We shared dreams of each other that were real events in our lives, even across the many miles that separated us.  We openly discussed our connection through letters, emails, morning tea and evening wine/art hangout times.  We both feared ruining the amazing friendship we had forged, but mutually yearned to explore one another in a different light.
It was decided that our friendship would never fall, regardless and so we danced a new dance. This dance ebbed and flowed through the years, even as Andrew traveled to Europe this April.  His heart was torn and he needed to do some sorting.

On this trip to Greenland, my thoughts and journal were already filled with my own sorting
about Andrew….my romantic fantasy of best friends turned life partners.
I analyzed our emotional dance… ha, he was a fabulous dance partner in every way!!  Now it continues in the most gut­wretching­body­quivering­heart­melting­
I­don't­know­what­to­do­with­myself­sort of way.

I regret that we didn't share enough time this spring, both distracted with various life events and a mutual uncertainty of how love- in the grand scheme- should abide.   I regret my decision not to drive over to met him in Grand Junction before I left for Greenland.  To gaze into those glorious blue eyes or feel the warmth of his larger than life embrace.
Instead our dance continued through letters, email poetry and art.   I became well acquainted with the affairs of the McDonald's neighboring Andrew's old condo…free Internet.  Tales of the odd folks
glutenous eating habits mingled with life details of selling his condo and the exciting move to Paradox Valley.

Digging his soul deeper into the earth.

Andrew has been the only person I can say that I gave my love to without need or expectation of reciprocation.  I have never felt so strongly for someone that I truly, honestly, openly gave my love to….because he deserved it.

So many loved him and he treated everyone with kindness, "My mom always told me, nobody is better than anybody else."   Andrew insisted on giving this love to everyone, "plenty for everyone"…strangers, animals, family, friends, and the earth.

So proud of him for making it happen.

My heart has grown with and for Andrew Barnes in the last 6 years.  Our adventures of
the heart, mind, and earth are the most fond memories and I can't stop replaying them in
my head.  We both disliked too much time between us.

It is overwhelming how time stands between us now.


Annie Rooney.

Good god what a laugh.  A soul connection immediately.  We snorted together, shared a gymnastics ­like passion for certain yoga poses, ran during the lunch hour.  ­
Sprinting and sweating.
We actually spent our :"solo" ­time together, running the 18k to the town of Todos Santos.

As I re-­emerge from the icy fjords of Greenland with an already broken heart, I find many emails pertaining to her death.  A drunken driver episode on the Fourth of July!!!
I stared at my computer screen in disbelief.  Lizzy and John sitting next to me thought perhaps I was joking.  I couldn't digest it, sometimes I still feel I haven't.
Annie and I shared every day of our Yoga training together from 6am to 9pm.  She jokingly called it
"yoga-camp," I think alluding to her parents misunderstanding of this 3 week choice of time spent.   Our friendship continued afterward.  Weekly phone calls, almost daily slack-jawed photo messages, talk of running an adventure race together--meeting in Vegas for a bike and a climb.

She is a beautiful woman that I missed almost immediately upon leaving her presence in February and will miss also in the days going forward.  My love her family and friends, I know I am a newer connection to Annie Rooney but it was a darn lovely one to have.  She is amazing!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Woes of Failure.

Levitating up Levitation and Eagle Dance



I suck with failure!!!

I find sometimes I am avoiding moments where failure is the most likely outcome.  

Following the crux on Cloud Tower
I don’t project rock climbs.  I on-sight.  If I don’t think I can on-sight it I shy the lead away.  
Its not even that I fear falling.  I don’t fully commit to friends, relationships, plans....because what if it doesn’t work out.  It is better to be illusive.  

HA!  I fear failure.  It isn’t really working out any more, this fear of failure thing.  

I turned to Justin Dubois this spring when I was having a little head epic in the Valley.  In one week last April I climbed three big walls in a day in Zion, climbed to Dolt Tower and had my first run up the Regular Route on Half Dome.  All-in-all, 10,000 feet of climbing in 6 days.  Yet, I was frustrated with my progress in mid- May.  My intended objective was pushed out of sight by partner miscommunication and sickness. 
I emailed Justin, “am I a sissy if I bail?”

He sent back something short...probably not knowing that I really needed advice, an outside voice.  

“No, crazy...settle down!”  

This fall again Justin’s words ring around the vast space between my ears.  

Settle down. 
Baxter and Andrew on top of Mt. Wilson--Red Rocks

Ironic as Justin drops me a note today, 
“I think I have your disease...I can’t seem to take a rest day!”

Yup.  It is a disease and it is catching up with me hardcore.  
I feel that I have been battling it, so quickly moving on to the next project...the next adventure that I might not be enjoying the present moment.  

Cory Jammin up the last pitch of Cloud Tower
The pain of my stubby right toe jammed into the one inch crack 600 feet off the deck.  

The grunting exhale that escapes my lips as I shove my left index finger in the space between the parallel sandstone.

The tingling sensation as my hand cranks, forearm burning, pulsing.  Breath labored.
Mind twirling, eyes darting.  '

Finding comfort in the uncomfortable.
Taking control or just taking.

Maybe falling.  
Hopefully sending.  
Whatever it may be, pushing because that is what we do it for. 

I backed off a lead today, because my shoulders hurt.  Because my right elbow aches.  Because my shoes are all blown out.  Because I was afraid of not sending.  

Afraid of Failing.
My ego hurts as does my body.  I had a great time in Vegas last week.  Trying hard, succeeding.  Clay suggests that I may be too hard on myself.  
It allows me success, but it hinders the smile.  
It fogs the sunset, slogs the movement, mutters the conversations between friends. 

.........and this is how it is now.  
Clinging to a pin scar on the first crux of Rainbow Wall.  

Red Rock Routes

Resolution Arete 5.10--11 hours C-T-C
Cloud Tower 5.12a
Rainbow Wall 5.12 
Levitation 29 and Eagle Dance Link-up 7 hours C-T-C
Rock Warrior, Dream of Wild Turkeys and Prince of Darkness link-up
Some cragging at Brass Wall, Gallery, and others

Zion Routes

Moonlight Free Attempt 5.12d (did not complete)
Sheer Lunacy 3 1/2 hours on route
Force Boyle 5.11
Bits and Pieces 5.11
Monkey Finger 5.12
some cragging at Touchstone Base and Kung Fu Theater, and others

Thursday, October 24, 2013

October Light

My little town of Estes Park is torn up.  Road closure due to extensive flood damage and the closure of Rocky Mountain National Park from the government shut-down are both proving to be a challenge. 

Friends like Leah and Scottie DeCapio, Karla and Justin Dubois, Amy and Dave Hammrick, Melissa and Adam Strong, Melissa Martin, and Andy and Cindy Morgan all own businesses and homes in this beautiful mountain town.  A lively-hood based off of tourist traffic.  No roads and no park equals no income.  Yet, these friends of mine- the whole of these small mountain towns- are moving through it all with admirable grace.

We are all coping with life obstacles every minute of every day.  We can choose to mope about it, or we can look at the new opportunities created from the destruction or death!    

I recognize the difficulties in living this way every minute, but it is something we should all be striving towards!  I know the death of Andrew and Dave and Rick and Annie have all had their unique offerings.  

“The ability to shift perspective can be one of the most powerful and effective tools we have to help us cope with life’s daily problem” (The Art Of Happiness, Dalai Lama). 

Climbing, for me, provides and outlet for self-improvement and reflection.  I have written about it before, perhaps its a reminder to myself that life is indeed a gift!  
Climbing is a direct analogy of the importance of balance, breathe and focus.  While acknowledging that control is only in the mind, a crutch perhaps to find calm in this unpredictable life.  

.....and so I end my rant and carry on to another climbing adventure.  Spreading Andrew Barnes' ashes and philosophies of life.  A heart of gratitude, kindness and a toothy smile!!!  

Here is a video from a recent adventure in Southern Utah!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Canadian Tour

Pitch 1 on East Colombian Indirect 5.12+, Tom Egan Wall-- Snowpatch Spire 
Q.B leading up the Endless Struggle Pitch, Snowpatch Spire
When you type in your Google search bar "genuine, good-spirited, ego-less hard mutherF#^&ing crankers," I am positive the search will mention or show photos of a Canadian rock climber.

For years I have fallen for their niceness.

This trip sealed the deal.

Gratitude fills me to the brim!!!!

I basically had the raddest 3 week tour in the Bugaboos, Lake Louis, and Canmore.

After our first day's first ascent, local hard man Chris Brazeau proceeded to shuffle me around the best new free lines in the Bugaboos.  Many of these climbs were old aid lines that Chris and his buddies, Jon Walsh, Jon Simms, Simon Meis, Cody Lank and others opened up with much effort over the last six or seven years.

Sendero Norte was the tour opener.  This 13 pitch route is stacked with pitch after pitch of 5.11 and 5.12 climbing.  Links to Jon Walsh's blog with topos and a photo of the route line.

Both Chris and I fell on the lower thin seam crux pitch and both had a fall or two on the upper roof crux pitch.  The rest of the route we both climbed clean.  Rappelling down I kept saying, "this was my favorite pitch, no wait THIS was..."  Sendero is one of the highest quality routes I have climbed!

Following the lower seam crux on Sendero Norte

Our next foray on the North Face of Snowpatch Spire had us climbing another new route....
one that will be fully ready for next season!

Dark Prince starts out with a spicy 5.10 corner to a facey run-out.  Pitch 3 continues up a left facing thin and technical seam/stem over a roof.  This is sustained and difficult 5.11 maybe 5.12 pitch.  I led up the next 200 foot pitch---and would recommended splitting this into two pitches.  Climb up a steep wall on your left with dual and pumpy splitter hand cracks, 5.11, bop right to climb under an off-width/dihedral roof to a nice cozy ledge.

This ledge can blast you off two directions.

Hell or High Water.  
The Dark Prince or Hell or High Water.  Both stellar lines.  Chris just sent the Dark Prince earlier this season...check out the Canadian Alpine Journal cover!
(You can see the top of Dark Prince in the right-hand corner of photo above).
Leading a 5.11 Pitch 7 on Sendero Norte

This day Chris choose to finish on Hell or High Water.
I followed it clean.

AHH!!! We didn't make enough time in trip for me to give it a lead go..."never not enough!"

Chris is pretty sure it hasn't been sent season, next season!!

Off-width after the bolt ladder or 5.11 slab 

Brazeau also wanted to add a few bolts --anchors and protection on Dark Prince.   As we climbed, he would occasionally rap back down to do a little work.  I entertained myself and everyone near the North Face with my very loud personal renditions of 'Man in the Mirror' and 'Elderly Lady Behind the Counter in a Small Town' and maybe a few other classics.  :)

Next on the tour was the Cooper-Gran, on Bugaboo Spires East Face.   Not a new Chris route, but an old line that has been freed with a sketchy 5.11 slabby rivet bolt ladder mid-route.

Between summits on Bugaboo Spire

A quick summit handstand!
It didn't seem to have been climbed since its first ascent......either way it had some fun heads-up climbing.

After 8 or so pitches, the route gains the popular 5.8 north ridge of Bugaboo Spire about 300 feet below the North Summit.  We simul-climbed this portion.

An epic storm began her grumble as we tagged the north summit.  With a quick handstand, we nibbled a little chocolate, I spread some of Andrew's ashes and then we high-tailed down the Kain Route.

C.B Racking up on Bugaboo Spire

Mmm, what was next.  I believe we had a failed effort on something on the Minaret.  We climbed two soaking wet waterfall pitches while getting totally baked in the sun.

Odd day.

We contemplated (I tried to convince Chris to climb) the Beckey-Chouinard but heard rumours of a line-up 6 or 7 deep (he wasn't totally opposed but has climbed it a few times already).

Q.B heading up a stellar 5.11+ Hands to fingers on East Colombian.
So we bailed and did a walk-about around the Spires through glaciers and snow on our way home.

The last new route of the tour was another Brazeau route.  Stellar stacked pitches called East Colombian Indirect.  This blasts off on the left side of the Tom Egan Wall.  Pitch one starts off heavy but sweet.  A 5.12 (lead bolted) traverse climbs into a lay back flake.  The pitch continues on dicey face moves around a corner and leads up to a small stance.  From there a steep and long hands to fingers second pitch dihedral keeps you fighting.  Pitch 3 is a finger roof pitch.  The crack widens as you gain the lip and continues as a 2 inch crack for a 60 more feet.

Balance and reach through a couple of face moves to gain more moderate terrain.  A short moderate pitch lands you on a sweet lounging ledge.... Hobo's Haven.  We hung out here for minute...spread a few more of Andrew's ashes (seemed a perfectly named place for him to rest...I chuckled with tears!).

I regained my composure and with the nicest of encouragements from Chris, started up the looming pitch, "The Endless Struggle."  This is the last pitch of another wild route called The Power of Lard.  The old guidebook gives it a wicked difficult rating....realistically mid-5.12.
Chris on Pitch 3 of East Colombian

This is a high quality 120 foot overhanging hands to fingers pitch.  Probably one of the best I have ever stepped up to lead!

The crack arches left so one foot jams as the other smears the sheer wall.

Fight the pump through a short finger rail traverse right and a jug over the arete to the north side of Snowpatch Spire.


Another amazing climb, pitch after pitch of clean splitter granite.  

I can't believe I have waited this long to visit the Bugaboos!!  An adventure there next summer is in order as there is much on my tick routes abound and many more scrubbed up routes by the Canadians that need help sending (I need to get stronger stronger)!!!  
Oh Man!  

In addition I got to climb with some rad ladies in Canmore and Lake Louis.  90 Meter over hanging sport routes in Lake Louis with a backdrop that is surreal!!  Canmore much of the same, limestone amphitheather.  Radical! 

Michelle Kadatz and Andrea Eitle were among the few that were kind enough to tour me around, 
hook me up with other partners.  It was sweet to meet and hang with some rad ladies, giggling!!  

Taking the long way home.  Snowpatch Spires south face in the background

Again not quite long enough!  I need to make more time to climb in Canada!!

So beautiful.  Can't wait for next summer!

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Base Camp.  Barnes wall right of sunlight.
Greenland was a bittersweet adventure!  I have been home for 8 days.  As I write, I realize that reflection occurs only now, simultaneous with the blinking of my eyes.  

Nestled in our craggy fjord, a Satellite message brought Colorado reality rushing in.  My favorite person-a man I loved dearly-- perished in the Black Canyon. 

The mood abroad altered immediately.

My heart moaned, the echo lapped far across the shores in the deep blue water abyss.  The granite walls quivered, as did my soul.  

In this piddle of a blog, I find it difficult to give an accurate and passionate detail to our climbing adventure.  
My mind drifts off, contemplating the loss and my love for the outstanding Andrew Barnes.  

When rock climbing, whether it be soloing or establishing new routes on unfamiliar terrain, I feel enlightened with a certain ethereal clarity.  This feeling fulfills my being, is addictive, and gets me through another day, another week, another year.  

On Morning Luxury...looking south

The handful of long traditional routes we established in the Torsukatak Fjord may or may not be climbed again.
Man, I sure hope they are!!!
"Morning Luxury"--our second big ascent-- is a glorious rock climb and an equally amazing summit!!  It flirts a south facing ridge for 8-200 foot pitches.  Stacked with dreamy finger stem-box corners, jaw dropping views, and an adventurous summit block wrestle.  All on high quality granite with a dash of burnt potato chip-like lichen.    

Over time, perhaps, the rock will recover from the minor abrasions of our traffic and it may appear we were never there at all.  

The rock, lichen, and vegetation is resilient.  

  : the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused          especially by compressive stress
  : an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change

AB and the Grand Canyon. 
I seek this quality for myself.

The death and hard lessons in this year, draw my gaze downward.  I need to remember there is also so much beauty. 

With Andrew, though, I don't want the memories to fade... the vegetative re-growth in the fissures to mask his presence.  
I certainly do not want the world to appear that he was never here at all.  I fear with time these events playing out in all of us.     

These routes we established. The roots we established. 

They are life altering.  
Built from the ground up, first try without hesitation.  Without artificial means of support....intuitively.  With love, with passion and a little try hard.   

We were lucky to have found such compelling and natural lines.  To climb an 1800 foot granite wall first go is surreal.  Yet, we did it and three days later we ascended another in similar fashion.  My two lady friends and I...giggling the entire way--oh yeah and the token male, John Dickey.  (He joined us for all but the first one).  

Morning Luxury ascends the left ridge to summit. 

"Plenty for Everyone" that was our first climb in the Fjord, on an unclimbed wall we named Barnes Wall.  10 rope stretching pitches with a mixed bag of face wandering, waterfalls, loose rock, a #5 off-width dihedral, a finger crack over a roof, splitter hands, and finishing on ridge with a tiny box summit.  

I am lucky to have had such a natural and compelling man in my life as my best friend and love.  Someone who taught me how to compassionately love with no expectations.  To remind me that "nobody is better than anyone else."  

A man who believed genuinely that there was always plenty for everyone!  
Live like Barnes!!!

Thank you for reading.     



The Breakfast Spire.  Morning Luxury ascends middle ridge.

Barnes Wall.  Lizzy leading Pitch 5.

4 Quickies.  John Dickey leading the 1st pitch.  

Pause on Morning Luxury

Morning Luxury

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


A teaser for the moment.   We climbed.  We conquered.  Three new routes in the first 6 days of arriving to Greenland and the Torsukattak Fjord.

Just returning to the U.S, albeit a bit earlier than expecting.  A proper update will be posted as the creative juices slowly ooze between my ears.

Monday, June 17, 2013

This is not my beautiful life...or is it!!!

My good friend Dustin!!
In-between the untimely departure from Yosemite and the ridiculous journey we just embarked on
 --- Greenland --- time made itself available at home here in Colorado.

Recently completed rock climbs.

Psychatomic, Monastery, Estes Park.  5.12d -- 5th try on lead

Undertow, The Slab, Boulder. 5.12b -- 2nd try ever (1st try was the warm-up climb of the day  ---ops, effed on-sighting!)

New Music, Lumpy Ridge. 5.11dR-- Top roped 8 years an Alzheimer's on-sight?  Funky pro, but super good!

I also had a good run at the First Flatiron last week also.

A busy errand day in Boulder-town had me itching for a run up the First Flatiron.  Driving to Chautauqua Park, I was easily side-tracked by my good friend Kelly Cramer.  She just moved into a new place and I hadn't seen it or her in months.  Upon arriving, she offered me a PBR.

I didn't decline.

After a wee bit of chatting, the suns' twinkle off the First Flatiron became too pervasive.  I fled, slightly buzzed.

The run, led by Dustin, began a little more quickly than preferred (but looking back, it set the tone nicely).
I kept up, then moved ahead.  Having only been back to Colorado for 10 days, it was with great surprise I arrived to the base just under 13 minutes.
Still breathing heavily, I strapped on my shoes and let the paddling begin.  Was it the PBR or a month in the Valley?  For some reason the sandstone, this day, felt like the grip tape on my much friction!!!!

A smidgen over 11 minutes later I stood on the top!! Stoked, best rip yet!


I had a few great solo adventures on Lumpy ridge.  One day in particular included; Magical Chrome Plated Semi-Automatic Enema Syringe, Tennis Shoe Tango, The Great Dihedral, The Dog, White Whale, Osiris, and Pear Buttress.  While wandering back to the base of The Book, a walking error caused a wicked ankle sprain.  Adrenaline was still pumping, so I started up Pear Buttress.  Pain washed over me near the top.  I paused to enjoy the summit and hobbled back to the base, yet again.  My day wasn't over.  Bronson was coming to belay me for a lead go on El Camino,  5.12c.
It went with a few hangs.  The ankle hurt but not enough to use it as a non-send excuse.

I hoped to return before Greenland madness but he walk out from Lumpy was difficult, therefore making another pilgrimage back to the cliff undesirable.


Sunday, June 2, 2013

On Equilibrium!

DNB.  Sun is in your eyes as per guidebook warning
 (one among many warnings)

Chris B. and I making light of the lack of light!     

While I didn't achieve all my climbing goals on this two month endeavor over western lands, I did have a ridiculously good time.  The valley still stands!     

I attempted and successfully climbed many big walls, some even a few times over.  In a two week span I climbed Half Dome, Middle Cathedral, El Capitan, Spaceshot, Touchstone Wall, Moonlight Buttress, Shunes Buttress, and a few other pitches at smaller crags.  I am uncertain if another female has done a link-up of 3 big walls in Zion? 
Pondering the certainty of uncertainty after an unplanned bivy.  

Overall, my time was filled with amazing people from all walks of life.  I learned how to juggle (well at least the motions of juggling), I exponentially increased my slack-lining skills, I taught a few yoga sessions, and I got my ass handed to me in cribbage--kind of a bid deal--skunked two times in a row!!  

People and travel are a continuous reminder of how simple life can be (yet how unnecessarily complex we sometimes make it).  
The smiles and memories in the mere simplicity of a kind gesture, a smile shared between one another--even, say, an unplanned shiver bivy on the Direct North Buttress of Middle Cathedral.  
Simplicity really counts in those moments!  What more do you need when you have a climbing rope as your mattress, climbing shoes and harnesses for a pillow, and a bullet pack for a blanket?  Oh, lets not forget a climbing partner who entertains with ridiculous stories to distract you from the full body quiver compounded by inadequate clothing and a persistent wind.
Pondering the certainty of uncertainty after an unplanned bivy.  

Yes, we were finally "those" headlamps atop Middle Cathedral wandering around looking for the Kat Walk in our narrow beam of light.  We crawled through fire ant infested trees and stomped over the largest black millipedes you have ever seen!!  An awesome time, I would certainly climb the route again!  

On the mornings before climbing these big walls or the unplanned bivies, I found myself elbow deep in few good books.  
As you can imagine, my attention span for books is like my attention span for other things in my life....generally not a laser beam of focus. 

One of the notable reads I was passed was On Equilibrium.  "It is an intelligent, persuasive and controversial exploration of the essential qualities of humanity and how they can be used to achieve equilibrium for the self and to foster an ethical society."  

A morning ritual of bits and pieces read aloud over breakfast tea made this book more accessible.  The morning excerpts mingled into my daily Yosemite Valley adventures.  Trying to find something certain in my endeavors as an athlete, a woman, a romantic,  a fear-filled lost soul.  

Imagining the ultimate sweet spot----feeding my passion for rock climbing while successfully striving for a more benevolent lifestyle.   

“Imagination isn’t really a means of distraction. Nor is it an unquantifiable wild card which needs to be saved from itself by responsible organizers. This is the quality which most naturally draws all of our other qualities together. But it does so in a...prolonged swirling uncertainty. It is that uncertainty which makes progress possible. Imagination protects us from the temptation of premature conclusions.... What’s more, it seems to draw us forward by using this prolonged uncertainty to alternately leap ahead and then enfold our other qualities - our other means of perception - into a new, inclusive vision of the whole. Then, just as we think we understand, it leaps ahead again into more uncertainty." (Saul, pp.115-29)


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A few high quality Grades.

My climbing partner for the last 2 weeks, Buster Jesik, put together this time break down of our recent adventure in Zion.  We linked Spaceshot, Touchstone and Moonlight.   A little video of our adventure also by Buster....

I added a little bit of narrative.

Start time - 6:10 am, Sunday, April 28th, 2013

Spaceshot Total Time3:27:09 (note: this was Buster's first time up the route!)

2:08:16 - Buster's lead block on Spaceshot (5 pitches - including our free solo of first 3 pitches) #1 and #2 Ballnutz made the C2 pitch a breeze!
1:18:53 - Q's lead block to the top of Spaceshot  (3 pitches + solo to top)
1:53:15 - descent of Spaceshot, re-rack, and approach to Touchstone Wall - (EPIC*)  
*We fixed our full tag line to the Pitch 7 anchor and fixed our lead rope on Earth Orbit.  Rappelling the route wasn't that bad, things were going swimmingly!  One tug- movement, two tugs- movement, three tugs--eh, three tugs--eh, shit!  I could barely see the tail ends sticking up from the knot and the sandstone groove the knot was jammed in.  Buster yarded on the other end while I flicked the rope.  Being almost 50 meters down and diagonally left, our efforts were futile.  I cursed as I put the jumars back on the rope.  I re-jugged the whole rope line, adjusted the knot below the lip and rappelled again.  We finally pulled free and clear.    The rappel back to the top of Pitch 5 was a strenuous leftward swing.  A wonderful learning experiment, not awful, but just as time consuming as the standard decent.  

Touchstone Wall -  2:20:35 -
1:10:47 - Buster's lead block on Touchstone Wall (3.5 pitches) 
03:48 - transition on Touchstone Wall
1:06:50 - Q's lead block to the top of Touchstone (4 pitches + solo to top) 
Touchstone Wall felt cruiser.  We passed one party of nice gentleman without a hitch.  Thank you gentleman!  

1:21:17 - descent of Touchstone, refuel and river crossing/approach to Moonlight 

Quinn on the upper pitches of Moonlight 
Buster soakin it up!
Moonlight Buttress3:19.56
2:09:27 - Buster's lead block on Moonlight Buttress (5 pitches) 
1:10:29 - Q's lead block on Moonlight Buttress (4 pitches) 
Moonlight also felt pretty good, I did not climb as quickly (our previous go I climbed the top 5 pitches in an hour.  I was one pitch less this go around and 10 minutes more-- and so it goes).   

Start of Spaceshot to top of Moonlight - 12:23:02 
32:47 - summit dance and decent of angles landing trail
12:55:49 - Total car to car time from start of Spaceshot to valley floor 

36:46 - Wait for bus and approach to Monkeyfinger -
37:46 - Time spent climbing on Monkeyfinger - (climbed first 2 1/2 pitches**)
** In November I hit the ledge and ricochet past my belayer.  I was injured for a few weeks, so it was with hesitation I started our 4th wall of the day.
It was still light out and would be for at least another hour or so.   We soloed up to the base of the pillar and I led the 5.11 without a hitch.  "Line fixed!!" I yelled to Buster and glanced down to the base.  I saw a pool of red in the sand while Buster mumbled up, "I have another bloody nose and this one is worse."  He had gotten one on Moonlight earlier in the day but just dealt.  I was unaware of his predicament until we both stood atop Moonlight and I noticed blood smeared on his face.    

Buster in predicament #2
This time, I waited and watched from my perch.  He fumbled his helmet off and I watched his glasses tumbled down a ledge a little further.  "We aren't stopping on account of my bloody nose."
I must admit I was still a little put off by this climb and this was solidifying my angst,   "alright dude."  I turned around and started going up.  I placed my first piece and leaned over onto the aider, no problem.  I placed my second piece high, unclipped my aider from the anchor and leaned over onto it, bingo.  Just as I was reaching for a third piece, I was off.  Just as quickly I was standing upright back on the ledge.  My right leg took the brunt of the impact and there was a small twinge in my back.  I luckily had the exact right distance in my daisy land on the ledge but not to full impact.  
"That's it dude!!  Three walls are plenty.  This is the second time I have hit this ledge, I am out!"  I called it.  I am a little disappointed but with the recent tragedies in my life I am glad we are both safe! 
With that we were off, back to the car and drinking a beer with the last inches of light.