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Emaciation Weekend at The Needles

It’s day two at The Needles and the breeze is a godsend, sweeping away the heat of an intense sun. Kris and I have 12 miles of hiking and 1200 feet of tough, tenuous climbing under our belt. Though only two pitches remain to the last summit, our trip is far from over. I’ve placed a red C3 as far as my frame could stretch and am staring up the Atlantis crux, trying to convince myself to launch into a barn door tips layback sprint. The adrenaline acts as pain relief and for the first time all day my feet don’t hurt. Several times I feel out the moves, waiting for that magic moment of stability, but more than anything realizing the commitment I’ll need to muster to pull that second foot off the edge. Kris is just to my left on the belay ledge. He doesn’t say anything. He knows.

Kris nearing the top of the Atlantis crux pitch (5.11c)

Kris nearing the top of the Atlantis crux pitch (5.11c)

The arguments play out in my head but I know the winner the whole time. Finally I core up and pull on for the ride.
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Luke - Bravo! Glad you finally made it out to the Needles! Great photos!June 10, 2014 – 7:42 pm

Chris - Adventure! Sounds like you had a hell of a time. Thanks for giving us a succulent taste.June 12, 2014 – 9:38 am

Tyler - Dang… sounds spectacular. Hopefully I can join you for something similar this fall!June 12, 2014 – 11:45 pm

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Scenes of Shuteye

Think about the elements of a great climbing trip: Good friends both new and old, a spectacular setting, awesome climbing, maybe a couple big falls, if you’re lucky a proud send or two, and music, beer and stories around the campfire. Last weekend at Shuteye Ridge had all of it. If you’re looking for rad climbing photos from Shuteye, check this out. Here I wanted to capture a speck of what makes the rest of Shuteye so memorable.

The Shuteye scene: Shangri La and clouds rolling over The Sierras

Jonathan, Alania, Steven and I spent days visiting High Eagle crag where the Aerie cliff hosts some of the hardest routes in the area as well as Electric Eagle, an incredible 400 foot rainbow-striped monolith.

The flaking stairway scales of Shuteye Rock

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Eli - Sweet!June 1, 2014 – 12:04 pm

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Waterfalls and Whippers

For several years I mainly climbed trad and loved onsighting heady gear routes. The sense of unknown and the challenges of figuring out gear and beta on the fly felt like the most pure form of climbing – the kind that made the end-of-the-day PBR taste most classy. But during the last couple years I’ve bouldered much more, zoned in on bolted projects at Jailhouse and haven’t had as many partners ready or excited about pushing limits on gear. So when a 48 hour break showed up in my crazy April synchrotron schedule I was thrilled that Caroline could take the time and was stoked to dust off the rack for some Valley fun.

Caroline catching a welcome stem on the forever pitch 3 corner of The Good Book

Yosemite waterfalls are in summer form right now and an April Tuesday without a breath of the normal weekend crowds might have been one of the most amazing days I’ve seen in the Valley. Check out some photos of a few incredible Yosemite waterfalls and stories of climbing adventure.

Vernal Falls

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Laughlin - Yea buddy, sounds like a helluva weekend! Reading this made my palms clammy, and my brain look to the Sierra. Hrm…April 14, 2014 – 1:52 pm

kris - Aaaaaaahhh…April 14, 2014 – 7:38 pm

Eli - ‘We decided to live another day’ well put Adam, been there…April 14, 2014 – 8:50 pm

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A New Old Area: Visiting Malibu Creek

The LA climbing crew often makes the trek to Bishop, Joshua Tree or Yosemite. But on a local Saturday with an easy start, Malibu Creek is a gem just outside of town that offers some perfect pocket pulling.

Kris blending in with the local scenery…and sending 5.12.

I recently had a free weekend and was long overdue for a trip to see Kris, Sara, Joi, Asa, Allen and the rest of the LA group. The trip was a perfect chance to experience a new old area.
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Sara Konecky - Great post! You are welcome here whenever you want :)March 28, 2014 – 11:25 am

Tyler - That place looks pretty sweet! Is the rock more friable than Shelf with all the large pockets, or do you think that’s from more water to erode the rock?March 28, 2014 – 12:12 pm

Chris - Looks like a fun little day. And thanks for the Yosemite teaser. Can’t wait to see you guys in just under a month!April 2, 2014 – 7:24 am

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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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