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Catching Up

So I was at the gym the other day after a couple weeks off, enjoying a surprisingly successful bouldering session when one of the newer climbers asked, “How long have you been climbing?” Now my initial cynical reaction was that he was trying to size me up in some way without asking how hard I climb, but giving him the benefit of doubt and not wanting to be rude, I answered “Around twelve years.” To which he responded with an aloof and haughty tone, “Oh man, I’ve got eight years to go and I’m catching up with you.”

At first, I just chuckled and went on with my session. But the more I revisited the encounter, the more my pride got the better of me and the angrier I became. Catching up to me? Are you serious? You think because you can boulder a couple V5’s in this gym that you’re catching up to me? View full post »

splitter choss - Loved this, thanks for sharing. Ah the youth!February 24, 2014 – 12:15 pm

Ron safarik - Chris- Well written. There is an expression that “youth is wasted on the young”. It is very true. We must make sure that “life is not wasted on us”.

You have taught me much – my first multi-pitch, some of the most enjoyable plastic hold routes ever and an unwavering desire to spread the joy of our sport.February 24, 2014 – 6:56 pm

Doug - Loved it, Chris. Some quickly leave the game and the rest of us play on. After 17 years of climbing, I’m looking forward to the second half…and hopefully overtime.February 24, 2014 – 8:50 pm

Eli - You can only catch up if it’s a race. I’d like to think it’s more of a stroll through the park. Hope to see you soon buddy.- EFebruary 24, 2014 – 9:12 pm

Tyler - Thanks for posting! I spent a summer in Tahoe on the beach patrol, and was swimming before the season started to remember how to move in the water.

I’d swam competitively for 17 years, and chose to get into the less-crowded “fast” lane in the pool. There was one other man in the lane, probably mid-forties, and he felt obligated to stop his workout to tell me “Um… just so you know, this lane is reserved for the fast people, so, y’know, I might be passing you a lot.”

I laughed and told him it’d be alright, then had to fight off the urge to sprint by him to soothe my pricked ego. He wasn’t faster than me (truth be told, he was quite a bit slower than most in the medium-speed lane), and when he figured that out, he left in a huff, slamming his goggles on the deck and glaring at me. His ego got the best of him, and I felt bad, like I’d ruined his workout. I was sad for a bit – nobody likes biting into someone else’s pride. I didn’t think much of it at the time. I probably told Adam about it and moved on, but it’s interesting to think about now.

It’s strange to be so attached to our own prowess, but I think when we devote ourselves to any activity (athletic, intellectual, religious, ect), we begin to identify ourselves by that thing. Any challenge to our place within the things to which we devote ourselves is a challenge to our identities, and those can be fragile things. I like the idea that number grades or years spent, or any other measure like that is a poor distillation of our experience. It divorces our ego from the experience. That’s pretty freeing – and it allows for lots of room for our friends to join us. If your whole reason to climb is to be the best, to get as high on the performance pyramid as possible, then things get lonely pretty fast.February 25, 2014 – 3:31 pm

Chris - Folks, thanks very much for the compliments. Honestly, I’d considered keeping my egotistical moment to myself, but in the end decided that it was a story and lesson worth sharing. I’m glad I did because it gave me yet more perspective that I didn’t have before.

It’s not a race. Divorce yourself from your ego lest you waste your time in pursuit of being the best only to find yourself alone and burned out, without any purpose or desire to carry on with a sport (or whatever this is) that can teach you so much more than how to compare yourself to others.February 26, 2014 – 12:26 pm

Andrew Kuklinski - Thank you for posting this. It makes me smile because I know where you are coming from and can see myself acting and thinking in much the same way. As Tyler said, its lonely at the top unless the top isnt your goal. I climb because of the people I choose to climb with. It could be the best 5.7 mulitpitch ever or a chill day eyeing a project. All depends on the people. Hope to see you this summer climbing the next adventure!! My house and couches are always open!March 2, 2014 – 8:29 pm

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Back to Bishop

Bishop faithful migrate to the area’s world class desert bouldering with metronome winter timing. There groups from LA and the Bay Area mix like old friends in surrealistic weekend reality. Along with the amazing problems, Gabe’s contagious motivation keeps Bishop on my mind despite my permanently scattered bouldering focus.

Latching the first crux of Lawnmower Man (V7) Photo: Sandy Jen

I always love meeting new fast friends and working lines together bouldering. If you want to make friends through climbing, there is no better way than grabbing a crash pad, some whiskey to share and finding the crowd. This time we had a great group with Sandy, Cam and Kei rounding out our crew. We spent a couple days taking in the big beauty of the High Sierra backdrop and the small battles of Bishop’s characteristic sharp crimps.

Storms rolling in over the Eastern Sierras

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Chris - Congrats on Soul Slinger. Such a proud send and not one many get to claim. And nice photos as well. They definately paint Bishop as enticing as it actually is!

Also, saw this today and it reminded me of you. I think you’ll find it…relateable. 10, 2014 – 6:44 pm

Tyler - Nice work! I think you work too hard to be calling yourself a blind squirrel. I think you’ve got to have some skill and power – nobody trips and falls up a 15′ tall V9.February 25, 2014 – 3:36 pm

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The Best of 2013

The four of us had traveled a thousand miles from New Mexico, Colorado, Nebraska and California to climb a thousand feet of Nevada rock. We met at the trailhead, loaded our packs with a flurry, stuffed headlamps in front pockets and started off toward the frowning sliver of setting sun. Soon we were swallowed. Endless Juniper Canyon walls cast silhouette shadows across the pebbled wash while frogs in the basin serenaded our trek through a maze of boulders and stiff Manzanita.

Like a rising tide escorts sea floor to seashore, after hours of approach we found ourselves perched with a panoramic view of black desert ocean. The distant, churning galaxy of Las Vegas lights illuminated the lean underbelly of neon grey clouds circling overhead. Slot machines clamored a vague stranger’s tune, but silence rang our familiar melody and we emptied a flask of whisky, settling in for night.

In a blink sunrise poured crimson down our martian sandstone neighbor and we swapped warm sleeping bags for cold gear, eyes drawn to the newly unmasked monolith that would pose so many riddles that day.
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Tyler - Great photos, once again. I’ve always found that looking back on tough times, I remember the best moments most clearly. Hopefully it’s the same for you, because there were some great adventures this last year.January 17, 2014 – 1:22 pm

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The Rostrum in a Nutshell

The end of August had arrived and as the Summer heat gave way to Fall Yosemite Valley seemed close enough to touch. Then came the massive Rim Fire, the largest wildfire in California history, limiting park access. Three weeks of government shutdown followed, carving out the heart of the Valley climbing season. The shutdown ended just in time for weekend synchrotron shifts to consume my November. And just like that the Yosemite season was almost gone.


There was still time to climb The Rostrum.

Kris launching off on the Rostrum 5.11 finger crack

Over the last several years, I’ve counted on Kris and his botomless craving for Yosemite granite to answer the call for all things Valley climbing. Having a close friend with so many shared experiences – scary runouts, route finding, big whips, insane descents, and inspiring successes – has made us a good team with the confidence to tackle big challenges. Having both completed only parts of the full North Face route, we’ve been plotting a return to the Rostrum and last weekend provided a window of weather worthy of a shot.
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Tyler - Dang, the Rostrum looks amazing, but it sounds pretty spooky getting stuck in there. I’ll have to take that into consideration if I ever attempt it, considering how much more muscle I have than you. God. So much more.

Glad you guys didn’t freeze in Eldo… that was a cold weekend.December 9, 2013 – 12:39 pm

Adam - Indeed you have more muscle. I don’t deny it. I’m wasting away in my old age, getting saggy in very conspicuous spots.

The squeeze where I got stuck is actually on a different line, though The North Face also has a nasty slick chimney to wake you up on the first pitch.December 9, 2013 – 2:38 pm

Chris - Mmmm. The Rostrum. Congrats on a great climb guys. And especially to Kris for getting his revenge! Although it seems the route didn’t go down without a fight.December 11, 2013 – 9:15 am

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Shuteye Ridge

My first trip to Shuteye Ridge ended abruptly when a hail storm flash flooded us back to civilization. Because most access to Shuteye climbing is via legit 4 wheel drive roads or at the minimum high clearance vehicles I’m at the mercy of friends to even consider a trip there. With winter weather approaching and weekend graveyards doing “science” at the synchrotron lurking, I figured my chance to truly experience the beautiful area was done for the year. So when Jonathan put out the call for partners to cruise out in his Xterra crushmobile, I jumped at the opportunity.

Charissa navigating Shangri La, a classic Shuteye Ridge 5.11

Check out a few pics of Charissa putting the crush down on some intricate Shangri La (5.11) sequences and if you have some sunglasses, my farmers tan was on display on the classic Chashmere (5.12b).
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Kris Scheer - Great photos… incredible rock colors!October 23, 2013 – 7:30 pm

Eli - Sweet! I’ve really be loving seeing another part of the country through your photos Adam. Talk to you soon.~EOctober 29, 2013 – 9:05 am

Ted L - Looks like a great crag!December 3, 2013 – 4:04 pm

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Sheep’s Nose

A few weeks ago I got an email from Andrew titled “Adventure?!!!!!!??!?!??!!”. It was an open invitation, and just what I needed to get motivated. We set our sights on a big chunk of rock with a beautiful summit, Sheep’s Nose in Colorado’s South Platte. At 500′ tall, this granite monolith is a sight to see.

Sheep’s Nose, courtesy of Mountain Project, with the typical route in red and our divergences in green

We were up before dawn, driving along a meandering stream with golden meadows draped in frost, sun rays pushing through the pines. We rumbled down a dirt road, hiked up through the boulder field, and prepped our equipment at the base of Lost in Space.

The climbing was about right for my Goldilocks physique, that is to say, it was easy.  Save for the second pitch, which was Andrew’s responsibility.  The second pitch was suppose to be safe and moderately difficulty, but instead turned out to be a frozen finger, razor blade gripping run-out over a rat’s nest of tiny gear.  Since I was on top rope, let me say, it was awesome.  Andrew, out of ear shot, freaked out and running out of gear, had another take on it.  Either way, we got through it without falling, and cruised to the top.

Sheep’s Nose from Climbing House on Vimeo.

We hiked out and drove home in time to cook dinner for the family. Awesome. Damn, I just love getting outside with a close friend. It is one of the best ways to clear my mind, renew friendships, and just have a great time. Thanks to Andrew for the photos & video.~E

Emily Kilmer - Great post! Love you guys!October 16, 2013 – 11:06 am

Adam - Wow. The landscape out there looks rustic. Awesome post.October 24, 2013 – 2:28 pm

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