|I guess I can say that I guided right to the very end of the season this year!|
I love my job On the Rocks, though I equally love the pure freedom of my off-season from guiding full time. The freedom of the open road, freedom to roam and explore, freedom to eat, sleep, climb, repeat.
Work hard, play hard.
By October, I was feeling totally beat down from a long guiding season here in Ontario. After having a strict work agenda from May-Oct, all I really wanted for the month of November was to have no agenda, no goals, no plan, no stress. So we did what we do, we packed up the truck and trailer and hit the open road... First stop: New River Gorge,West Virginia.
|Back in Wet Virginia, still soaked, I mean stoked, well ya soaked too.|
|Fall colours, New River Gorge, WV... worth the detour|
Our trip to the New was quick, the usually gloomy forecast scared us away pretty quick this year and we drove due west in search of sun and rock. I researched sport climbing spots on Mountain Project while Kyle crushed the drive and we literally just drove to the closest place with a sunny forecast and new rocks to climb....which ended up being Last Chance Canyon, New Mexico.
|Steep thrills in the Solstice Cave, Last Chance Canyon, NM.|
We didn't really have any expectations going there, so when we arrived to sun and free private camping in the desert, we were already stoked. The climbing was decent, short but good quality limestone, a good grade selection and absolutely no crowds. What the rock lacked in height it made up for with steepness in a lot of the Canyon, which was a nice change from the vertical Niagara Escarpment stone. Shade and sun were abundant and the routes were relatively concentrated with an easy approach The Solstice cave offered both shade and sun and crazy steep routes while the Mad Cow Wall offered more technical lines and all day shade. Check it out on Mountain Proj here: https://www.mountainproject.com/v/last-chance-canyon/105920274
|Kyle Thomas jug hauling on Solstice 5.12+|
|Approach into Last Chance Canyon|
Fav part of the trip was being able to push my onsight climbing again. It has been years since I have been able to with finger injury hesitations and having the freedom to give 100% on the rock again was the most incredible feeling. I was right back to taking down 5.12+ on my first try and technically 5.13 too, though I didn't feel that the route was that hard. The camping was peaceful, in a beautiful meadow of dry desert grasses where wild horses and coyotes regularly roam. Kyle was back in action, climbing 5.12 again after being on the bench for years. We were both so blissfully happy to be climbing freely again without hesitations.
|Onsighting Eternal Sunshine 5.12|
|Maury casually takes down another 5.12 on the Mad Cow Wall at LCC|
|First view of Sitting Bull Falls, NM...yum|
Sitting Bull Falls was another nice cliff close to LCC. Great spot with a small wall of fun 5.10-5.11 beside a wall of steep gymnastic 5.12-5.13. Not a ton of stuff but great stone and movement, a pretty location and totally worthwhile stop!
|Milking the double knee bar no-hands on Broken Arrow 5.12d|
|We finished our stay in New Mex on a perfect note. Kyle had his first multiple 5.12 day in years and I made super quick work of a steep dynamic jug haul called Canadian Beef 5.13a, put up by Canadian beef cake Kevin Wilkinson who developed a lot of the steepness in LCC. Our friends Maury and Carrie had some great sends too and we all celebrated this perfect day on the rocks back at camp. Next morning we split LCC with no plan at all and ended up heading straight for Joshua Tree, California for our last couple days of climbing before we flew home.|
|Joshua Tree vistas, chocolate for my soul <3|
|A family climbs the famous Headstone|
It feels like time stands still in JTree and life was just as it was when we left, same vibe, same energy. We were welcomed into the park with perfect weather and a couple of amazing last climbing days of bouldering and sport climbing. I was feeling weightless on the rock and in tune with my self and the stone. I guess putting in 2 months straight last winter + countless previous trips has paid off, and the style is starting to come a little more easily each trip. That and I have absolutely no expectations there any more, grades are meaningless and inspiration is my guide. Its about the climb, and the challenge that motivates you. This frees the mind to relax and be present in the moment and during these last two days I felt more free and in tune than I have in years. I was on a tear over the two days and most memorable was stomping a stellar 5.12d called Prime Real Estate on my second try, it was a rather out of body experience!
|Sunset glow gun show|
|Alligator skin granite on the Illicit Sweetie boulder|
|The rest of November was more of a blurr! In a whirlwind 3 days of travelling from J-Tree to Palm Springs to Toronto to Thornbury and back to Toronto, we eventually ended up in Costa Rica. We spent a crazy 9 days in Puerto Viejo and did nothing but relax, drink, eat, explore and chill on a beach. Every day was like ground hog day, living the true Pura Vida, with some of my most amazing friends. The culture was incredibly refreshing, so happy and relaxed and I doubt that'll be our last time and our last happy hour in Puerto Viejo.|
|Pelicans fish at sunset|
|La Playa Negra - The Black Beach|
|happy hour yeeoo|
|Cool bird we stared at for a while|
|Seconds after I snap this shot, the dude on the tall unicycle nails a car and flies off the thing into a restaurant.|
|Post-happy hour pose|
The flight home was rather terrifying, but we made it back to the ground and to Thornbury safe and sound. Now I've got a little over a month to train up for round 2 and winter goals. Really excited to work with the Power Climbing Company and the training program they custom designed for me. We fly back to Cali on Jan 4, and start our winter road trip Jan 15 after some family visiting. Can't wait to be back on the road...and the rocks :)