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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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Spring Bouldering

The Bishop season is long gone and the crowds of tourists flooding Yosemite are a sure sign that cool Valley days are winding down. The last month has been a haze of graveyard shifts at the synchrotron and climbing whenever spare time arose. Partly by design to gain more power before old age settles in and partly from a lack of climbing partners, I’ve done more bouldering since arriving in the Bay than ever before. Lately I’ve had a great time getting out with new friends both on the ropes and hauling crash pads between the miniature meccas. Some of my favorite days of the year came bouldering in Yosemite. Like any other season, some lines went down while others remain as motivation to return on the other side of summer. Enjoy some photos from a few spring sessions.

Tricia inching up Once Upon A Time, an amazing, tough and heady Candyland V3

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Chris - I’ve said it before, but I can’t wait to get back to these places. These photos are great Adam, definitely enticing.May 16, 2013 – 7:17 am

Tyler - I’m excited to get out and see some of these spots. Thanks for keeping these coming!May 21, 2013 – 6:35 pm

Sophia - That’s a great shot of Once Upon A Time!May 24, 2013 – 1:10 pm

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The Crack Machine

With the (not so) recent exposure of the Wide Boyz and now Sonnie Trotter throwing in his and highlighting others’ contribution to the field, the proliferation of crack machines and their seemingly infinite design concepts is apparent. In this post, I explore my foray into the design and construction of these modern torture devices.  It should be noted that as an engineer, I often have better ideas than creations and this instance is no exception. I intend to share my experiences, both constructive and cautionary, with the hope that you can use them as a starting point to potentially improve on the design. View full post »

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