Thursday, August 31, 2017

Risk Reward

And just like that - Poof - September is here.
This summer went especially fast as I was in continuous motion the entire season, rarely stopping to catch my breath. Yet so content with what I was doing that I hardly noticed.

This guiding season with On the Rocks was a little different than years past. Deciding to expand my business meant a huge work load as I made the transition to managing 4 guides. But it all paid off as I was able to escape for both pleasure and work trips throughout most of August. It was hard to leave  the business behind at first, but once I landed in Squamish those feelings floated away and before I knew it I didn't want to leave. We flew out for the Arc'teryx Climbing Academy, which was such a rad event, and stuck around for a couple more weeks after that.

Highlander crag 5.11 goodness

Gary Posey sends his first 5.11 on gear at the Highlander wall

Multi- pitching with Simi!

I went into this trip with no expectations as I hadn't climbed harder than 5.8 for 2 months, while resting my re-tweaked wrist with a full time guiding job. So with no-expections it was very easy to be pleased, especially as it was my first trip to Squamish! The granite is like no other and perhaps the best granite I have ever touched. I hit up so many Top 100 classics, most memorable being a 2nd go send of Sentry Box (Squamish's first 5.12 crack) and on sighting the Grand Wall 5.11. The smoke and extreme heat rolled in for week 2 and things slowed down quite a bit. It inspired us to get out on the paddle boards, and even explore some "off the beaten path" lines, one of which ended up being the most memorable route of my trip. Jimmy Martinello and Trevor MacDonald took us out to some adventurous trad routes that they put up over a death Class 100 waterfall just outside of Whistler. Apparently no person/thing that has fallen into this pool has every been found or recovered. I was absolutely shitting myself while climbing over the pool of death, above tiny funky gear, getting sprayed by the waterfall, feeling as though it was trying to pull me into its black hole and swallow me alive. It was an unforgettable experience! Keep an eye out for Jimmy Martinello's shots of this crazy climb.

Climbing 5.11 trad above the pool of death = WHY I ROCK CLIMB

Naomi and TMac's humble abode, that they graciously shared with us for our entire stay. 

Grand Wall exposure

Mike Makischuk on the Split Pillar!!!

Mike high up on The Grand Wall rope climb pitch. Helariousness.

Gary Posey gets the FA of a long standing project 'Widows Foot Fetish' V7

Kyle Thomas dancing above Chekamus Canyon

Trevor Macdonald gives his project 'River Monster' 5.12+ mixed a solid burn

Fun new TMac routes in Chekamus Canyon

Buddies don't get much better than these buddies: TMac and Naomi.

After flying home from Squamish, I barely had enough time to do my laundry before the next trip. I then flew to Thunder Bay to teach a PCGI certification course to Outdoor Skills and Thrills. Even though it was a "work trip", I still managed to sneak in a few climbs and check out a handful of the T-Bay crags. It helped that I was staying with the Thunder Bay Guide Book author, Aric Fishman. My phone died on this trip so I have no pictures to share except for a couple that Aric took. I was so blown away with the quality of climbing and the amazing climbing community in this totally under appreciated Canadian climbing destination.

Aric Fishman Photo

Aric Fishman Photo

After a week in T-Bay, I had a few more days of guiding to do before I was rewarded with a 5 day vacation up in Lion's Head. It is hard to believe, but Kyle and I hadn't climbed at LH at all this summer. So busy with other things. We rented a cottage on the water and it was dreamy... paddling to the cliff right out of our cabin, on our new bad ass SUP's. I couldn't of even tried to imagine a better few days of climbing in my head.

We started off on day 1 by climbing some new sport routes put up by Dave Zieleniewski and Erin Ford, and repeating some classics. I was pleasantly surprised at my fitness level considering I haven't sport climbed in what feels like forever. I climbed The Fin 5.12b and The Crucible 5.12a on my first try, one right after the other.

We paddled in to the cliff for a couple days, in hopes to climb these cracks jetting out of the water that I had eyed up last year. No better partner to get after some new trad with than Dave Zieleniewski! Kyle, Dave and I paddled out on glass water and climbed 5 trad routes from 5.10- to 5.11+. I climbed each of them ground up, on sight. We did 4 of them on the first afternoon we went out and saved what looked to be the most difficult (or at least the most heady) for the next day. Next day presented less than ideal windy conditions which was great for climbing but made the boat belay logistics a lot more exciting. I think it took me over an hour to summit Safety Meeting 5.11c, while Dave was getting soaked and smashed into the wall on the marathon belay. This heady route offered tricky gear and sequences, especially as my "warm up". I thought about a rappel inspection but I am happy I went for it ground up, what a rush! Upon first appearances, I thought these cracks would range from 5.8 to 5.10, but once you step onto the wall it becomes immediately apparent how steep they are. The gear is incredibly bomber on 4 of the routes, and pretty good on Safety Meeting. Two of the routes you can belay from the shore and the other 3 need a boat for belaying. The climbing is steep, bouldery and requires a variety of jamming techniques. Best part of all, we didn't need to add a single bolt!

Dave Zuly on Gone Fisting 5.11a

Gone Fisting 5.11a

Stoke is high after topping out Gone Fisting 5.11

Victory Torch 5.10a

Racking up :)

Sea Legs at Golden Hour

Dave works his bicep curls while I pull the roof on Sea Legs 5.10a

Looks like Dave did one too many bicep curls! A near water deck after falling off the opening move of Sea Legs

Here's the beta if you're going to get after it!

The Safety Meeting Cracks

This area is on the same cliff formation as You've Been Hibbed 5.11. Most of the cliff requires a boat for belaying. The two right most routes can be belayed from the shore. The cracks are short but clean, steep and require a variety of jamming techniques. The gear placements are quite good and creative trad anchors can be built on the top for top-belays/lower/rappel. You can walk off the formation to climbers right. The routes were all done, ground up and it is safe to do so. Climbs are described from right to left.

#1 Risk Reward 5.10b 
Start on the right most crack, on the shore. Boulder up the initial steep crack to a rest. Then enjoy varied cracks to the top. Belay off trad anchor, walk off. Standard rack. Optional #5
FFA: Leslie Timms Dave Zieleniewski

#2 Gone Fisting 5.11a 
Just left of Risk Reward is a left leaning crack. Traverse left ward (walk the plank) using thin hand jams to a rest. Head up towards the roof, build a safety nest and crush the crux. The name blows your on sight. Build trad anchor and walk off/lower. Standard rack to #3 BD
FA: Leslie Timms Dave Zieleniewski

#3 Safety Meeting 5.11c 
The centerpiece of the wall. Follows angling cracks and seams to a large cedar tree at the top. Requires a boat for belaying. Standard thin rack.
FA: Leslie Timms

#4 Victory Torch 5.10a 
The first crack left of You've Been Hibbed. Requires a boat for belaying. Enjoy steep jams the entire way. Finish on anchor of You've Been Hibbed, clean and lower back to boat. Standard rack.
FFA: Leslie Timms and Dave Zieleniewski

#5 Sea Legs 5.9+
Follow the finger crack to a roof just left of Victory Torch. Pull the roof and follow crack to top. Trad anchor.  Requires a boat for belaying.
FFA: Leslie Timms

Hoping to not deck on the kayak on Safety Meeting 5.11c

Safety Meeting 5.11c

A little video peak about our last couple days at LH on 'The Safety Meeting Cracks'-

These routes are great bonus points to future SENDS OF ANARCHY prospects.

Here is the complete list for the SENDS OF ANARCHY- Lion's Head Chapter.
I noticed that one was missing on the list I posted years ago (whoops). And we have added these awesome cracks as bonus routes. Why wouldn't you do ther Get after it prospects!

Above the Clouds 5.13
Gargamel and Azrael 5.12
Fully Erect 5.12
Banshee 5.12
North Country Club Crack 5.11
Glass Bottom Boat 5.11
North Shore 5.11
Global Warming 5.10+
Sculpted Cow 5.10
Storm Warning into Thunderball 5.10
The Lighthouse Pitch 5.10+
The Safety Meeting Cracks 5.10- to 5.11+ (bonus routes)

Speaking of prospects! Pete Hoang is attacking this list right now and impressively crushed Above the Clouds 5.13 the other  day! And flashed Fully Erect 5.12. SICK. Definitely our top prospect at the moment.

One more month of guiding to go and then we head to Indian Creek and Zion for fall. Cant. Hardly. Wait!!! I hope everyone else is having an amazing summer season. Thanks for reading :)

Monday, June 5, 2017

Winter Turns Into Spring

Fall turns into winter which turns into spring, and now soon to be summer. Just like that, this past winter is long behind us and I find myself back at home and preparing for the upcoming fall again. This winter was the first one in which I felt like I actually lived in the southwest, rather than moving freely around it as a vagabond in a van. The ever familiar roadways and climbing areas feel like a second home to me now and with friends and family scattered throughout, it was easy to settle in like we never left.  This was also the first year in which climbing wasn't the only focus of our trip. We were just simply living somewhere warmer, and sunnier than our homeland. And of course we would choose to live close to rocks. But I chose to not focus in too hard on climbing after the health scare I had the year prior. Instead, I wanted to focus on finding balance, and family/friends.

Desert vistas

Zuly and Fordizzle fondling the 'Atman' 5.10

Red Rock radiance
What I neglected to write in my previous post, in hopes that it was going to heal soon and be forgotten, was that Kyle had torn his bicep tendon in Joshua Tree. Right before I sent The Acid Crack actually. After I squeaked in that send, I refrained from letting Kyle belay me for the rest of the trip as it only seemed to irritate his arm more. He was completely out of commission from everything. Bummer. This of course changed trip goals, the path, and pace of my climbing. But I took it as a sign from the universe to slow down.

The one you just gotta go do, 'Yin and Yang' 5.10d Arc'teryx

Moon glow while approaching 'The Challenger' 5.10d PG13

Sunrise approaches
But it's all good. We were both in good spirits as it also timed in with when a whole bunch of our friends from the Collingwood area arrived out west. We took over a block at the Red Rock Canyon Campground and I linked up with whoever I could to get out climbing. This resulted in a few awesome multi-pitch days, and lots of moderate trad mileage.

Rocks ROCKs rocKs

Coolest approach slab ever. Solid 4.13a. Fun times with Chris Pegelo

Blissful smiles on 'The Challenger' 5.10d, a truly stellar trad multi-pitch
La Sportiva
Our stay in the Red Rocks also aligned with the Red Rock Rendezvous. Arc'teryx invited me to come out and teach some clinics for it, it was also the perfect chance to get to know the Arc' crew who were of course awesome!

'Fall Safe Clinic' at Red Rock Rendezvous with Arc'teryx

Taking Dan Sivret on his first multi-pitches, we crushed some super rad trad

'Saddle Up' 5.9 into 'Armatron' 5.9, a classic ride
When our 2 week limit in the campground was up, our good friends Dave and Erin arrived in Vegas, family in tow, and they invited us to live with them in a sweet house they rented. More good times followed while linking up with these awesome peeps.

Summit Lovin' Sunski
Red Rock Canyon, Nevada
High class living with the Zuly's in Vegas
We then had a little over a week to kill before we had to make the trek north to Whistler, BC. I really wanted to go back to Zion National Park after such a teaser stop over in the fall. This magestic place calls to me. Kyle at this point had had a lot of rest and physio on his bicep and I pretty much begged him to belay me a few days. I promised I wouldn't fall, as it was less wear on him. So we did a couple day trips up to Zion, it was glorious. I had never really had this kind of exposure to such splitter cracks and the learning curve was so inspiring and motivating.

Finding flow in desert splitters, Zion National Park

I found some incredible flow on a variety of single pitch cracks, consistently on sighting 5.11+ to 5.12-. I haven't been this inspired in years! We are already planning our fall return to this sandstone paradise.

Dreamy battle for the onsight of 'Reggaetone' 5.12 to finish the trip Sterling Rope
And then began the northward migration, en route to Squamish, BC. I was invited to speak at Multiplicity, an event put on by Mountain Life Magazine. The format for the event was 8 guest speakers, each have 9 minutes to talk about whatever they want, in front of over 1200 people! I had never done anything like this before, I was incredibly nervous but incredibly excited and up for the challenge. It was such an amazing night. 

BC vibes Arc'teryx

Left speechless from these speeches. So cool to be a part of Multiplicity by Mountain Life
Then we had a few days to kill out there, which were unfortunately dampened by crap weather. But we did get a couple sunny afternoons to explore the area. Our good buddy Trevor Macdonald and Arc'teryx athlete manager Justin Sweeny, showed us an awesome time out there.

SUP tour of Squamish, BC
Rained our entire stay but at least got in this half day
First time on top of The Chief! Though it was dark and rainy, T-Mac made our short visit stellar xo
And then before I knew it, I was home and back into the full swing of things with On the Rocks! This year is extra exciting as I have decided to expand my business to the Milton region and I've also hired  two new awesome guides to help run the show! I was quite nervous about this endeavour as I had to drop thousands of dollars into gear/advertising, but it is proving to be worth it! My good friend Steve Andrew is running the show in Milton, and he is trying to turn his dream of becoming a full time climbing guide into a reality, and I am super stoked to help him achieve it because he totally rocks.

Back On the Rocks at Metcalfe Rock :D
Every summer I try so hard to juggle climbing on the escarpment for fun, with guiding on the escarpment. It never really works out that well for me as I inevitably get burnt out and frustrated, or injured. Too much cliff time! So this year things are changing. I have dreams, big dreams, and I have decided to train my ass off for them. So begins my training cycle in preparation for 2 peaks... 1-Squamish July 19-Aug 9th for the Arc'teryx Climbing Academy and 2- Zion, this fall. In preparation for my crack goals, we have started to build a crack training facility in The Pump House, appropriately deemed 'The Crack House'.

Hard to put the rack down

Building "The Crack House"

Cracks on the brain, time to train
Training at the local gym, Old Baldy Petzl 
This decision to train all summer rather than climb for fun, was a good one. I can tell already. It's got me so charged up, so motivated, so focused. Life list lines are going down!!! I am at that point in my climbing where I feel like my technique and bag of tricks is pretty solid, I just need to get stronger. And that takes me to now, sitting here in Thornbury, Ontario. I just finished 4 weeks of strength training and now on to power. I am already seeing gains, slowly and painfully. It is hard, I feel tired all the time, but the other day I got out to the cliff and absolutely hiked the heady 'Elixir' 5.12b on my first go, and followed with an immediate run up 'Labor Pains' 5.12b. YES. Motivation to continue forward with this.

Just want to say a big giant massive huge thank you to all of my sponsors for hanging in with me through it all. Your belief in me and continued support inspire me to continue to follow my dreams. I wouldn't be where I am today without you all. Arc'teryx, Sterling Rope, La Sportiva, Flashed, Sun Ski, Sanuk, The Yoak