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The Many Faces of Whitney

The sunset shadow of Mount Whitney drapes for miles across grey talus fields that descend into mossy stair step alpine meadows. When moonlight ices over the last traces of warm red hue, Whitney’s massive east face towers in silver above, a frozen slab of vertical granite that shrinks you smaller than a star against the black night sky. Nowhere in the continental United States does a peak rise higher, and nowhere does the brushstroke of the Milky Way stand as bright against the universe’s canvas. Yet, somewhere in the breath, the echo or the vast silence of the place, even a blind man would not mistake that he stood in the presence of a monster.

The sun setting behind Keeler Needle with Mt. Whitney to the right

The sun setting behind Keeler Needle with Mt. Whitney to the right

Our goal was the summit via the historic East Face route, which, astonishingly, was first climbed in 1931. Though not difficult by today’s standards, the route is known for circuitous route finding, breathtaking exposure and, of course, climbing above 14,000 feet.

But before any of that, you have to get to the base.
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kris - Superbly written, Adam. I love that opening paragraph, and it along with the closing one wonderfully describe the attraction and thrill of climbing in the Eastern Sierra alpine. Phew, I needed that.December 17, 2015 – 7:28 pm

Tyler - Awesome! Beautifully written. Congrats on the summit, Adam and David, sounds like you earned it!December 17, 2015 – 8:23 pm

Eli - Really enjoyed reading this, makes me want to get outside!December 20, 2015 – 3:44 pm

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Valhalla to the Shore

To an outsider looking in, California climbing is a caricature of cathartic meccas: Yosemite big walls, Bishop perfection, and Joshua Tree Joshua trees. But to a local, the cliffs between those cathedrals are just as inspiring. With Tahquitz and Suicide Rock, Black Mountain, Tahoe, the endless shoreline, the Sierras and so much more, lifetimes of climbing await the next stranger in search of a familiar home.

Contemplating the last of Cracker Boy

Contemplating the last of Cracker Boy

During the last 12 months, I’ve spent my weekends exploring the monuments that don’t often feature in film tours.
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Andrew - I will go! I have been discussing with Kris some adventures in the Sierras this fall. I need to heal first through, maybe that will be enough time. September or October?July 1, 2015 – 11:09 am

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Rock and Cake

A good friend of mine, Becky Frawley, was getting married in Kansas City and this was an event that I didn’t want to miss.  It was to be a large gathering with a small tribe of long time friends, something I have been looking forward to for some time.  Something I was not looking forward to was the 9 hour drive across Kansas.  It wasn’t so much the scenery that was rubbing me raw but the length of time.  Like Nebraska, Kansas has some beautiful empty spaces, with a clear view of the horizon hundreds of miles in the distance.  I knew I was going to need a break from the butt numbing rumble of the highway so I threw my crash pad on top of my suit and head east.




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Emily - Nice post!!! good video :)June 14, 2015 – 10:17 pm

Doug - Nice.
Since a weekend CO trip didn’t pan out, I was going to make a day trip there yesterday but too much rain ruined those plans also.June 15, 2015 – 7:05 am

Adam - Great post, Andrew! I’d never even seen pictures of that place – those boulders look wild. Perfect eggs. Keep climbing and I hope to see you out west soon!June 23, 2015 – 9:19 am

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Stories of Shelf

Going to college and “growing up” during that time in Lincoln, Nebraska is not an ideal location to learn how to rock climb.  It’s flat, covered in corn, and you get really good at holding your breath while driving past the numerous cattle pens along I-80.  While the people are the nicest and most caring people you will ever run across, the state does not provide for the mountain adventures soul.  During college (early 2000’s) a devout group of flatland gym climbers sought out real rock anywhere they could find it but needed the right avenue to do so.  Jon Cannon and Brian Wandzilak had been climbing at the unknown area of Shelf Road and suggested that it would be the perfect place to teach new climbers, camp, and share a common passion.

Jon and Brian were the experienced climbers of the group and all of us newbies had stars in our eyes when they would talk about their adventures in Rocky Mountain National Park, Shelf Road, and Garden of the Gods.  I felt like I had finally found like minded people to share my deep rooted desire to be outside.  These godfathers of the Nebraska climbing scene organized the first annual Shelf Road Climbing Trip, scheduled for April 2002.  Myself, Jon, Brian, and a handful of other still close friends made our way to Shelf and 14 years later the tradition continues.  Every April, no matter the weather, we converge on The Bank group site and make stories.  Stories of the trek from Nebraska, broken bones, love connections, blizzards, and feats of strength.

This year is no different.  With a modest turnout of 35 people here are the best stories from this year.

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Tyler Scheer - One of my favorite places with my favorite people!May 19, 2015 – 10:28 pm

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Ten Years of Luck

I still remember the first time I climbed. Geared up with my purple rental harness that had the look and feel of a repurposed seat belt, marshmallow rental shoes, and naive overconfidence, I rainbowed up plastic jugs. The route itself wasn’t too physically difficult, but as I got higher off the basketball court at the University of Nebraska, I could feel the exposure. Ten feet from the top I decided I had enough and stammered a request to come down. Jason laughed, insulted my balls, and told me to get to the top. From that point on I was hooked. How could I not be? The 20 routes set in our little corner of the gym provided endless challenge, puzzles and above all, fun. The friends I met waiting around for a rope to open up are still some of my closest today. But the movement and the feeling of improvement are what got me addicted and kept me coming back. Ten years on and well over 100 vertical miles later, here I am, helpless to resist such a compelling sport. I followed my heart and career from the endless Nebraska flatlands, through Moab, to Boulder and now to Yosemite’s shadow in the Bay Area. I’m just as motivated as my younger self and still in awe of the endless riddles nature poses on the rock.

Grace working the wide Jams on the Yosemite classic Reed

Grace working the wide Jams on the Yosemite classic Reed’s Direct.

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Emily - B-A-ootiful. Truly a badass. I better see you in Boulder when you come through and let’s climb!!! Glad your ankle is better, yikes.April 26, 2015 – 10:41 am

Eli - Really enjoyed reading this. Glad you’re doing well, even crushing charder than before. Talk to you soon.April 26, 2015 – 6:49 pm

Andrew - Injuries are not fun, whether they are physical, mental, or health related. Glad you are back and ready to climb in Eldo!! The real question is which route do you want to do.April 27, 2015 – 8:49 pm

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Skiing Uphill

The weekend is coming.  Snow is falling in its silent way and is forecasted to continue through then.  I have to get outside; these four walls are slowly getting closer, smothering the flames within and making it hard to breathe.  An overnight backpacking trip to Rocky has been near the top of the to do list for a while but the lack of interested partners and 7 degree lows make this exciting outing seem less sane.

On the Brainard Lake Trails.

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Adam - You pizzad when you were supposed to french fry. Other than that, looks like a great time. Kind of. Count me out. I’ll be on the couch with a turkey leg and a Hot Toddy.March 18, 2015 – 3:20 pm

Tyler - Really fun day! Next time we’ll get you better skis.March 23, 2015 – 12:14 am

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