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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.

Almost.

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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Immoral Disapproval

Editors Note: This is a joint post, an alternating narrative, between Patrick and Chris. Patrick is standard font, Chris is in italics. We hope you enjoy the story told simultaneously from two perspectives.

The sandstone towers of the southwest US captured my imagination from the moment I first saw them in second-hand climbing magazines. Splitter cracks, demanding specific technique and gear to match, intimidated and intrigued me. The desert, serene yet severe, seemed like an alien world, so unlike the cornfields, prairies and urban sprawls of the Midwest: a wilderness playground from another planet. I now live out West, and I have found Albuquerque to be an excellent location for home base. A multitude of world class climbing destinations beckon from within a half-days drive. One of the few privileges of graduate school is the flexibility to determine my own schedule, so I have no problem planning to disappear from the lab when Chris calls to let me know he is going to be in the neighborhood.

As of late I have been faced with a double whammy of obstacles to climbing. First, as always, I am based in the Midwest, a condition that I no longer lament but embrace as part of my persona as a climber. Second, I am a father, a responsibility and privilege I cherish for its rewards. But for all of the positivity these bring to my life, they stand headlong in the way of my passion. So in a situation where climbing trips are infrequent, you capitalize on opportunities to mix in climbing days among “normal” vacations. This leads us to a trip to Gateway, CO with a goal to climb the Palisade by a relatively new and seldom-repeated route, Immoral Disproval. It will be a difficult climb for me, the hardest lead on gear I’ve attempted and begs the question: Is this another foolishly optimistic goal or a recipe for success and reward?

Route Marker

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Sara Konecky - I had fun reading this :)October 15, 2013 – 4:25 am

Ted B - I approve, awesome write up. Sounds like an awesome day! Stay rad.October 17, 2013 – 5:27 pm

Tyler - Nice job guys! Sounds like a great, ballsy kind of day. Great writing from both of you, thanks!October 25, 2013 – 10:39 am

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Thoughts on Why Yosemite is Off Tomorrow’s Map

*Editor’s Note: Climbers tend to stay out of politics. We rely on the Access Fund to do our dirty work to keep the areas we love open and climbing permitted. Yet right now all the national parks and the climbing and adventures they offer are off limits; the impasse representing one of the largest access denials in memory. Park closures are just one consequence of the government shutdown. As climbers we pride ourselves on being involved and informed. We look out for safety, teach Leave No Trace ethics and value our natural resources. So when something like the shutdown rolls around, how should we think about it? What should we do or say? The answers aren’t necessarily straightforward, but having the facts and understanding history are a good place to start. Here is my take on the politics of the current shutdown and how we got here. If you agree, disagree or just think I’m ugly, feel free to treat this as an open forum and leave a comment.

Politics has always been messy. But only rarely has the threat of a government shutdown been used as leverage and only during the last few years has the debt limit been considered a bargaining tool.

Why?

Because until recently virtually everyone has agreed that shutting down the government and defaulting on our debts is bad for the country. More importantly, it hurts individuals in little and big ways.

Right now my brother is in California and we had planned a trip to Yosemite. Because the national parks are casualties of the government shutdown we can forget about it. Last week, I talked to a close friend who is a postdoctoral researcher working for the National Institute of Standards and Technology. He’s been furloughed since Tuesday. Many others are now, suddenly, out of work. These are real people with families who live paycheck to paycheck. There isn’t a single politician in the country who would tell you these are good things.

You are not allowed to go here tomorrow.

And yet here we are with both sides refusing to budge and negotiations on hold indefinitely. But these aren’t ordinary negotiations.

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Sara Konecky - Nice post, Adam!October 8, 2013 – 1:59 am

Kate - Well said! I agree– the one liner I always hear, that ‘the government is bad and inefficient,’ is a gross oversimplification. A one line response to a complicated question is dogma, not critical thinking. Thanks for your insight- always enjoy it!October 8, 2013 – 8:36 pm

John Scheer - I agree, Adam. Boehner’s bluster leads me to believe he’s not a very bright bulb. It would almost be funny if it wasn’t so dangerous. News story: 90% of EPA employees were furloughed. Fox Not the News interpretation: Only 1 in 10 EPA employees are necessary. Wow! Hope you and Tyler get some climbing in.October 9, 2013 – 9:21 am

Don Schuller - Adam, Very well written!! You hit the nail on the head. It does my heart good to hear a young man see so clearly this countries problem and be able to put it into words. Please run for President!! :-)October 9, 2013 – 9:08 pm

Tyler - Nice article. It’s so frustrating to see the ripple effects of the ACA hitting across the country, especially knowing that the act was passed, then deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court. This rule by the minority is awful.October 11, 2013 – 11:59 am

Tyler - *I should say, the ripple effects of the republican opposition to the ACA, not Obamacare itself.October 11, 2013 – 12:01 pm

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