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The Indelible Hulk

Like many climbers, I’ve gravitated closer to the ground and now spend more time sport climbing and bouldering than routefinding and fiddling in stoppers from tenuous stances. But scary trad climbing clicks back in like riding a bike and our trip to the Incredible Hulk reacquainted me with the mental space unique to hard alpine gear routes.

The Incredible Hulk (Photo: Vitaliy M.)

Luke and I had an agenda laid out:

  • Friday – hike the 5 mile approach and tick off Sunspot Dihedral (1000 feet, 511b).
  • Saturday – Tradewinds (1000 feet, 5.11d).
  • Sunday – Polish Route (800 feet, 5.10c), hike out, then relive the heroic moments in an epic montage serenaded by Journey’s greatest hits on the drive home.

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Andrew - I think you might be back in August, I would hope. :-) Jelious that you got out to this amazing destination without me. Alas, August is coming!!!!!!June 28, 2013 – 2:11 pm

Emily Kilmer - Take me with you!!!June 28, 2013 – 2:30 pm

Vitaliy - Awesome post! Need to explore your blog..will have a lot of free time for that in Peru, I hope (already here).June 28, 2013 – 9:18 pm

kris - Adam, you da man!June 29, 2013 – 1:02 pm

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Stories to Remember: The Naked Edge and Much More

Life can feel stuck in constant acceleration, each year speeding by faster than the last. I’m older, greyer, fatter, balder, crankier and more haggard by the day. It’s hard to believe I moved from Colorado a year and a half ago and easy to wonder where the time went.

But that perception exposes a choice we control.

It’s worth reminding ourselves to take a breath and enjoy the little moments. Collect them. When we’re old, grey and as wrinkled as discarded paper lunch bags they will reflect the stories behind our eyes more than any mirror.

Many of my favorite stories come climbing with the amazing people I’m privileged to call friends. Those instances occur not just pushing a runout or bearing down at a crux, but in the untied times. Grilling out on summer nights with a cold beer numbing wasted fingers, reliving the day with laughs and astonishment at what the human experience offers those willing to relish it. Brick red dried blood crusted over dirty ankles suggesting the embellished tales just might hold a shred of truth between the lines.

Repeating one of my all-time favorites in Eldo: Aerospace to Aerohead (5.11 R). Bring your toes and your mental game for this 160 foot mixed pitch.

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Ron James Propri - Great post, Adam. What an awesome trip, and it was so good to see you. Looking forward to the next time!June 6, 2013 – 1:19 am

kris - Awesome storytelling, Adam. You kept me entertained and wishing for more.

Also, since you started it… I have to address a certain point to perhaps a few lucky souls. It is my contention that anyone who believes or is sheeple enough to state that they are putting in “110% effort” are doing themselves a disservice. Aside from the fact that it is a mathematical impossibility, as a concept it is a load of BS and insulting. Humble yourself a little and start back at the bottom where you naturally belong. Your reward will come from the realization that there is a theoretically attainable limit (100%) to your performance and that you likely aren’t putting forth the effort to get anywhere close to that point. In doing so I’ll be able to take you seriously and if you do (or don’t) make it anywhere near 100%, then I’ll give you a sincere fist bump.

Ah, pet peeves… 😉June 6, 2013 – 1:08 pm

Adam - Sheeple – ha! That’s a new one for me. Kris, what can I say? The opportunity arose and I had to take advantage – though I’ll admit, my effort in constructing that joke likely only approached 60% or so. I easily had another 40% in the tank and maybe even 50% if I was willing to run on fumes.

By the way, the cumulative inflation during the last century (since 1913) has been 2248.8%. So it seems as though the per cent effort one puts forth is really only relative to an indiscriminate point of comparison. For instance, 2007 Adam would have had to try 213% to even hang dog up the Naked Edge, or to work one of your boulder problems.June 6, 2013 – 6:22 pm

Tyler - I’n gkad that you were aboe to cpme oit fpr the trop. I;m sprry abput my fonger. It dpesn;t seem to be causong me trpble ptherwise, thpugh!June 7, 2013 – 10:49 pm

Jaclyn Ferber - I just had to say what an amazing writer you are! I found your blog searching for the perfect definition of a dirtbag climber. I love reading your stories! Come climb with me in California any time!
Jaclyn Hope FerberJune 24, 2013 – 10:21 pm

Adam - Thanks, Jaclyn!

It’s great to hear that our work has struck a chord. I definitely appreciate the feedback.

Happy climbing!June 25, 2013 – 11:35 am

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Photos of Head Cheese

We took a trip to Shelf last weekend and Tyler caught some great shots of Head Cheese (5.12d). The line is a true gem at Shelf, mixing a couple desperate boulder problems with pumpy 5.11 climbing in between. Unlike most vertical Shelf routes, Head Cheese climbs a severely overhanging prow next to a massive roof that gives the climb an amazing sense of exposure. I’ve always had the line in the back of my head and finally got the chance to see what it’s all about. Tyler’s photos tell the story better than anything I can say.

In the end, I felt close, but one day wasn’t enough to put the line to bed. Now I have some motivation for a return trip to the limestone mecca. Thanks, Tyler for the great photography.

Kate - Great pics! Looks like a fantastic route… although your ginormous forearms took up almost the whole damn pic! =)May 30, 2013 – 11:04 pm

emily - I didn’t know gingers could have such stellar forearms. You have motivated me again. I will continue climbing these plastic Nebraska holds with dreams of leading .12s outside…Awesome pictures. Looks like such a crazy route.May 31, 2013 – 8:23 am

Adam - For some, the fat goes straight to the belly. For others it goes right to the hips. For me, it goes to the forearms. I’ve got to lose some weight. No more ice cream for a month!May 31, 2013 – 8:56 am

Eli - Wow, awesome photos. Really cool looking sequence with the hand foot match, etc. Looks hard.May 31, 2013 – 12:28 pm

Tyler - Nice job working that down. Hope you can make it back out before too long to put that one to bed!June 3, 2013 – 8:42 pm

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Bike to Climb

Once a year, for a few hours, Boulder streets are closed off and the town basically shuts down.  This comes courtesy of the Bolder Boulder- a 10K running race that attracts upwards of 50 thousands visitors to the city.  For anyone not racing, the city can feel like an impossible-to-navigate maze. The best way to get around during this time is via bike, and so was born: BIKE TO CLIMBA do-or-die adventure to escape Boulder & climb for the day.

runners overtaking boulder at the bolder boulder
Runners overtaking the city
bike to climb course map
The course weaves a loop through the city.

On the first Bike To Climb adventure, I had the unfortunate luck of living within the race loop. Biking the streets, it seemed there was no way to bypass the course and make it to the mountains. In a last ditch effort, I picked my bike up, hopped a fence and ran across the course, cutting off countless runners in the process.

This year would be different. Armed with the “internet” and having moved a couple blocks north, I was able to circumnavigate the course & meet Andrew at the mouth of the Boulder Canyon.

biking and hiking to climb in boulder canyon

bikes on ground with climbing backpacks

We plowed up the canyon on our bikes (mine a single speed), & arrived at our destination, Dome Rock. But the adventure wasn’t over yet. I made the foolhardy suggestion that we climb the notorious Umph Slot, a painful, awkward gash in the rock- too big for your arms and knees, but too small for your whole body.  Progress up the crack was slow and loud- likely a foot every ten minutes at the hardest part.

climbing in boulder canyon

I arrived at the belay ledge sick to my stomach from excursion. Andrew followed in similar form, then we cruised to the top of the formation.

cooling off in the boulder creek after climbing
After the climb, we cooled off in the creek & coasted back into town (all down hill!).  A great way to kick off the summer climbing season. ~ Eli

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Q & A: Avoiding conflicts while photographing on route

One of my favorite (read: the easiest way) to rig up to photograph a climb is by climbing it first.  You can read more about the method here.  The method is awesome because it’s easy, it gets you climbing, and you can find the coolest position/ crux/ move to photograph.  A reader, John, wrote in to ask:

 Enjoyed your piece here on rigging for climbing photography.  I’ve read a lot about this, and am planning to get out and do some shooting from a rope this summer.  I haven’t seen this issue addressed anywhere:  let’s say I want to fix a rope on the anchors of the climb I am shooting (maybe adjacent climbs are in use, too far away, or otherwise unsuitable), won’t my rope and anchor set up be in the way of the climber when he/she reaches the anchors and needs to clip them?  Do you find this not to be a problem, or do you have any tips or workarounds?

Well, John, I’m glad you asked.  The short answer is: Yeah, it may be in the way a little.  I think this kind of comes with the territory, and most friends/ climbers are cool making some concessions to have bad ass photos.  There are some things you can do to minimize the problem though.  Check out the sketch below:

sketch of rigging set up for climbing photography

Here are the items to note from the sketch:
1. The anchor is often times at a stance or easier part of the climb, so the rigging rope is less of a pain.
2. The photographer can at the very least push the line 3-4 feet, or can set up a directional anchor to move away from the route.  What’s important here is the angle between the rigging rope and the climb: with a larger angle, the distance between the rigging rope and the climb will be larger, i.e. the rope will only be in the way at the very top.
3. The rigging rope should be connected to the anchor in such a way to allow the climber to keep into the anchor like normal.  So if there are chains, don’t clip the rigging anchor into the bottom set of chains, or make a central equalized point everyone can clip to.
4. The photographer is not all up in the climbers business at the anchor because he’s essentially done photographing the coolest spot on the climb.

Hope that helps you in your adventure. Stay safe and have fun. ~Eli

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Canyon Country

Just got back from an amazing trip, deep into the heart of canyon country. Four hours down a 4×4 road, sunburn, sore muscles, and air between my legs. Andrew and I scratched a couple climbs off the to-do list, and I was back for Mother’s Day with Amy and my parents (!). With a young family, these trips are a little harder to pull off, but well worth it. I didn’t drag my fancy camera up the climbs, but here are some landscape/ experience photos, enjoy…

canyonlands landscapetruck full of climbing equipmentwindy road in canyonlands national parkspring storm in canyonlandsPortrait of climber in canyonlandsclose up photo of mustachesunset in canyonlandstowers and canyons in utahdesert towers in canyonlandsstars at castleton tower

FWIW, we climbed Fine Jade & Standing Rock. ~ Eli

Mary ann - Wow! Nice to see your trip photos. I want to go there!May 13, 2013 – 9:46 pm

Chris - I don’t know what’s better about the second picture, the Cass County plates on your 1985 Suburban or the R2D2 in the back seat! This looks like an awesome trip guys, quite the getaway. Nice job on the routes also.May 16, 2013 – 7:15 am

Kate - Awesome pics- captured the beauty of the area (and the moustache) wonderfully! =)May 22, 2013 – 12:08 pm

Eli - Thanks guys. Yeah, it was a blast. Talk to you soon.~EMay 29, 2013 – 8:14 am

Adam - I love the last pic – what a fantastic shot.May 31, 2013 – 9:55 am

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