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Spoiled By 5-Stars in Tuolumne

“It’s a whole ‘nuther Yosemite Valley,” I thought as Laughlin and I came around the bend and caught sight of Tuolumne Meadows for the first time. A few hundred feet below, Tenaya Lake glistened grey in the early morning. But we had no time for gawking. Business was at hand.

Laughlin catching a stem on the classic third pitch of Oz (5.10d). The Gram Traverse (5.10d) looms above.

Within the hour we were geared up at the base of one of Tuloumne’s most classic climbs, Oz to the Gram Traverse. An amazing and sustained six pitches awaited and we had the line to ourselves.
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Chels - Adam I’m so excited to see you exploring a new playground. Keep up the posts, so we may all live vicariously!July 11, 2012 – 8:56 am

kris - OZ and Blues Riff look stellar!! I’ll have to see if I can finagle you into a repeat despite all the other 5-star lines that abound. Such a breathtaking environment.July 12, 2012 – 12:00 pm

Andrew Kuklinski - Damn guys. I wish I was out there with you!! There are tons of climbs that I would love to do in Toulumne and the Valley. September is coming. All in good time. All in good time.July 12, 2012 – 12:47 pm

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Back Home on The Front Range

When we left Boulder in January, I got Lizz’s purple PT Cruiser stuck three times in deep snow. The Flatirons were great white shields fissured by frosted pines. When we crossed the border into blustery Wyoming, I thought about all that I was leaving behind – friends, colleagues, Monday night softball, Thursday night soccer and a tick list of climbs that would remain unchecked.

Upon returning, fire and heat roasted the parched landscape like torched ashes. Mixing shade, altitude and water was the only solution. Despite the scorching conditions, we made the best of our time back home on The Front Range and I got busy on the old list. Check out some photos of our climbing in the Boulder area and a couple videos that Tyler put together, including of the Eldo oddball testpiece Your Mother and Tyler’s first 5.12 send.

I tried Your Mother three times when I lived in Boulder, once each in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Each time I felt more able, but with so much time between attempts, didn’t stand much of a chance. With a week in town and the easy approach in the beautiful Eldo setting, I thought the climb would make for the perfect mini project. I needed one attempt to hash out the moves and, somewhat to my surprise, only one more shot to send. The route is well known for the committing crux dyno at the top. If you clip beforehand, forget about sending. If you go for the move and don’t stick it, you’ll be taking a huge (but safe) fall. Awesome route. Go do it.
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Kate - It was great to have you two back- the front range has missed you! Loved the Your Mother video- good job to both of you!July 6, 2012 – 9:26 am

Kris Scheer - Loved the videos….. Glad you had a great visitJuly 6, 2012 – 10:43 pm

Andrew Kuklinski - Its always a pleasure climbing with you guys! Thanks for the good times!July 7, 2012 – 8:11 pm

Tyler - It was great having you guys out, and I’m looking forward to seeing you again soon. Congrats on Your Mother, you made it seem easy.July 8, 2012 – 12:57 pm

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A few from Upper Dream

Summer is in full effect in Boulder, with highs in the upper nineties, grilling out, and chasing shade.  Last week, we had the pleasure of a visit from Adam & Liz.  Adam and I used to climb in Upper Dream all the time- It’s one of those special places- cool in the summer, intense climbs that don’t get easier with time, wild raspberries, an ice cold creek to chill your favorite beverage…

Despite some big whippers & hard climbs, we had a casual day reconnecting.  I’ve known these guys forever, and as things continues to change (usually for the better) it’s nice to have the common experience of climbing to share.  Rock on… ~Eli

Adam Scheer - Thanks for taking (and posting) these photos, Eli. This day is already one of my favorite memories of the trip. Watching you gut out that tough 5.11 was awesome. It’s always inspiring watching you really go for it. More importantly, we had a ton of great laughs that day.

I hadn’t been to Upper Dream in years – getting back was a great idea and reminded me of the many past days we’ve enjoyed there! As you said, it really is a special place.

I’ll look forward to catching up with you again in a few short weeks!June 24, 2012 – 11:21 pm

Tyler - Thanks for putting these up, Eli. They’re some of the coolest photos I’ve had taken! This was a really fun day. I’m looking forward to getting out again soon.June 26, 2012 – 1:16 am

Eli - Your welcome guys. Talk to you soon.June 26, 2012 – 7:23 am

WillO - It looks like it was an amazing day of climbing. Can’t beat the rock there! Nice shots Eli! Nice chest Tyler! Nice hair Adam!June 26, 2012 – 10:29 pm

Chris - Dude, your pictures look better everytime I see new ones. Sad I wasn’t there to join you, but it looks like you had a great time. Not that you can go wrong in a place like Upper Dream Canyon!June 29, 2012 – 8:08 am

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The Grotto

Since moving to California, high on my list of places to visit has been The Grotto. Reading descriptions of the massive pit with walls of basalt would give any climber a curiosity that could only be satiated by laying some skin on the rock.

Nick enjoying perfect fingers on Three Fingered Jack (5.10b)

For a tiny area, the pit at the Grotto has an amazing dichotomy of climbing. The Main Wall, shown in the picture above, is fissured by a bunch of splitter cracks from 5.8 to 5.11. The columnar formation is reminiscent of Devil’s Tower. One of the columns sticks out past the rest and sports AC Devil Dog, a wild 5.10. The guidebook calls it a “refrigerator masquerading as rock.” The smearing and dynamic slapping bear hugging high stepping required will test your nerves. But AC Devil Dog is just the beginning.
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emily - Go Lizz and Adam!!! The texture of the rock looks so fun. Thanks for the post.June 6, 2012 – 7:54 am

Chris - Lucas and Patrick once upon a time returned to Omaha with stories of this place. They had nothing but good things to say about, and light of this new information will definitely need to route future Valley travel plans through is area to check it out. Thanks AdamJune 6, 2012 – 9:03 am

Joanne - Truly stunning Nic. I’m sure Brad will want to go there! Also me of course.June 6, 2012 – 7:17 pm

Tyler - I’m saving my money to make a trip happen, so keep these posts up. It’s inspiration for when I really, really want to eat a second bag of ramen, but I know I should just save the pennies and eat a second spoonful of Crisco instead.

Kidding, but these posts do make me want to get out to visit and see both you guys, and this awesome looking rock.June 6, 2012 – 9:03 pm

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Southern Europe: Abridged

On May 7th, 2011, a prime day for a wedding, I, as my godfather would say, made an honest woman out of Nicole Erin Liberty, entwining our paths on this journey of life. Since then, our life has been anything but boring. To say that we lead a busy lifestyle would be a gross understatement. So when it came time to pick a honeymoon, a week lounging on a beach in Cancun didn’t quite seem to be our style. Instead, we chose to cross the big pond for whirlwind two-week tour of southern Europe. In that time, we planned to visit three countries, twice as many cities, climb, sight-see, catch up with friends, decipher public transportation, experience culture, and somewhere in there find time to relax. What we got was a lesson from the international travel school of hard knocks, memories to last a lifetime, and, shall I say, surprises. Some of them were welcome, some we would have happily done without. What follows is the condensed story of those two weeks told with the brevity that embodied the trip itself. Enjoy…

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Adam Scheer - Thanks for sharing this, Chris. Your thoughts toward the end of the piece are a great testament to the awesome person you are and the legacy your dad has left.

I hope to see you soon and revel in our time.May 31, 2012 – 11:03 am

Tyler - Chris, thanks for letting us feel and hear some of your experience. This is a heartbreaking and powerful reminder to cherish our lives and the people around us. You are yourself an example of how great your father was. I’m sorry I didn’t meet him.May 31, 2012 – 6:42 pm

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A Visit From Chris Sharma

What do Chris Sharma and Edward Whymper have in common?

They are both climbers who have pushed boundaries and made ascents previously believed to be “impossible.” In the process they changed our perception of human limitations.

So why have you never heard of Edward Whymper? The easy answer is that his greatest climbing achievement came in 1865, before climbing had its modern roots – or any roots at all to be precise. Almost 150 years ago, Whymper led the first ascent of the Matterhorn. His party, eight strong at the outset, returned with only four survivors. The others died in a horrific fall shortly after summit. Whymper would later become a depressed recluse, never getting beyond the the tragedy. But though they paid dearly, the men on Whymper’s expedition were the first in the world of climbing to defy the “impossible.”

Chris Sharma taking questions from the audience in Emeryville

Last weekend, we had the pleasure of attending a slide show by the present day standard bearer, Chris Sharma. He has pushed the realm of possibility into 5.15 and shows no sign of slowing. He made a trip back to the Bay Area to hold a fundraiser for Castle Rock State Park, a destination I’ve written about a couple times here on ClimbingHouse lately.
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Kimberly - great post Adam! really enjoyed reading itMay 28, 2012 – 2:37 pm

kris - Awesome read!May 29, 2012 – 9:27 pm

Mike - I’d like to hear why you think Honnold is among the top in the world. Awesome climber sure, lots of media, definitely. As a free soloist, he’s very impressive, but is he pushing the limits of the sport as are the other guys? Are dangerous (solo) repeats a progressive thing for the sport, in line with the accomplishments of the other climbers listed?

You leave out Tommy Caldwell, why? I think his efforts on El Cap are much more impressive and notable than slowly moving through the grades on single pitch sport climbs or boulders. Can you identify a better all around climber?May 30, 2012 – 8:13 am

Adam Scheer - Mike, thanks for the comment.

Leaving out Tommy Caldwell was a mistake for sure! I’ve edited the post to put his name on the list as well. I felt like I was forgetting someone. I agree that he is the best all-around climber in the world. Obviously, his trad climbing efforts are top notch and I lived in Boulder long enough to see a ton of today’s best climbers get whooped by Caldwell’s sport routes, both an area and realm that fall under the radar of some of his best accomplishments.

As far as Honnold goes, your critique seems to be centered more on the type of climbing he does. It goes without saying that one can’t push the grades while free soloing. But I view his free solos as a reflection of how good of a pure climber he actually is. One doesn’t solo the Phoenix (5.13 finger crack, Yosemite), Astroman, etc. without having a significantly higher physical ceiling. Honnold’s impressive climbing feats are also often of the endurance variety. Within the last few weeks, Honnold actually teamed up with Caldwell to free climb Free Rider on El Capitan, (37 pitches; 5.12d) The Regular Northwest Face of Half Dome (24 pitches; 5.12b) and the south face of Mount Watkins (19 pitches; 5.13a). Supo Topo lists average times for any one of those routes between 2-5 DAYS and they free climbed the circuit in less than 22 hours. (It’s worth mention that Caldwell fell a few times while Honnold got every single move of the 70 pitches clean.) That is just a very recent example of something only the best enduro climbers in the world would even attempt.

Finally, I’d say that soloing involves the mental side of the sport infinitely more than sport climbing or bouldering. Honnold is indisputably the best free soloist in the world and that alone puts him on that list. To exclude him from the best climbers in the world would be to neglect the importance of the mental aspects of climbing that have been so fundamental to pushing limits for more than a century.

I think it’s harder to make a case for Woods than Honnold. Call it a hunch, but I think with Wood’s recent forays into roped climbing, he will soon be making even more truly fierce ascents!May 30, 2012 – 10:06 am

Mike - Hey Adam-

Thought I owed you a reply– to be honest, even after your well thought out response, I still wasn’t sold on Honnold. Again, not knocking his skills, just hadn’t seen accomplishments that really solidified his place among the others on your “list”. With regards to the speed climbing, he and Tommy Caldwell had both done the Yosemite triple crown together, but Caldwell’s other accomplishments kept him a step above in my book. Dean Potter, also unmentioned, has remarkable accomplishments in the fields of soloing and speed climbing (speed record on the Nose is no minor feat).

All that was until this week — Honnold’s solo-speed-banging of the Yosemite trio is unfathomable to me, and completely solidifies his place as someone at the top of the game.

So props to you for your foresight, he is indeed the man. I’ll maintain that the others are more inspirational to me, in that I might actually try to repeat some of their accomplishments if I was ever strong enough.

Happy crushing.June 8, 2012 – 6:08 pm

Adam Scheer - Thanks for the comments, Mike – much appreciated!

I think we can all agree that these top-end climbers are inspirational – or at the very least entertaining!June 9, 2012 – 11:34 am

Dave - Great read Adam! I agree that Honnold is one of the best and his recent capture of the Nose record with Hans just solidifies that. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sharma puts up a route that is never repeated.August 2, 2012 – 2:20 pm

Kate - Just busy procrastinating and stumbled upon this old post- great read! What a great experience to get to listen to Sharma. I appreciated this post- its a good reminder that those who reach great heights have to work their asses off to get there!September 24, 2012 – 10:23 am

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