Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Sample Tour

Road trip!

Kyle and I are on the road for the winter and back to living in our 13ft fiberglass Trillium trailer, "Trilly", who is hauled by our trusty truck "Gandalf". Life is perfect and for the first time in years, both Kyle and I are injury free (as one can be) at the same time!! Yip yeeoooo! But as I've been overcoming some major health issues this year, our motto has been "slow and steady" with strong focus on patience as we have all the time in the world, and to ensure I don't have a repeat on last year. Staying positive and slowly finding my flow again though! And for the first time ever, we are on the road all winter long... we have officially achieved the endless summer goal :)

We departed early November and our first stop was Boulder, Colorado....

New routes! New routes! Both Kyle and I had actually never climbed in Colorado before, so we were so stoked for new climbs/rock/places. We set up camp at the Boulder Adventure Lodge and sampled several of the varying rock types/styles and areas that surround Boulder. Colorado was having an incredibly warm November so we learned very quickly that Eldorado Canyon is too hot for such temps unfortunately, so we climbed shady stuff at other areas or sunny spots at higher elevation. We checked out a ton of the different area's in Boulder Canyon and loved the granite sport climbing there, especially the Animal World and Upper Dream Canyon. We also checked out the Flatirons, did some bouldering at Horsetooth Reservoir and sport climbing at Clear Creek Canyon also. It was so great to have a couple weeks of fitness building after a long rest from climbing. We kept an "in a day" rule for our stay in Boulder, no projects, so I was stoked to put down a ton of routes up to 5.12d with my favourite route of our stay being Hands of Destiny, a 5.12d at Boulder Canyon.

Stretching out my legs in Eldorado Canyon, after the 24hr drive to Boulder, Colorado

Classic granite sport climbing at Animal World in Boulder Canyon

Kyle Thomas samples the Horsetooth Reservior bouldering circuit

Hudson Mayhew high off the deck at Horsetooth Reservoir

The Flatirons, Colorado
Kyle soloing the classic 5.0 on the Flatirons.


Perfect hands on this 5.10 trad classic in Eldorado Canyon.

When the temps cooled down we thought it was finally Eldo time but unfortunately camping then got really cold and damp. These two wussy Canadian's can't handle that winter camping shit! So we fled to where locals said it is always warmer/dry in Colorado... Shelf Road. Shelf was a great little spot. Nice BLM camping and a well maintained recreation area with abundant pocketed limestone sport climbing. We stayed here for a few days and enjoyed a nice sampling.

Kush camping at Shelf Road, CO



It wasn't shocking that our next move was the Mojave desert. We made a very quick stop in Zion National Park in Utah; the weather window was too tempting to pass up. Neither Kyle or I had ever climbed here before suprisingly. It was an absolutely perfect day... we rolled in around noon, scooped up one of the last campsites and ran off to do an incredible splitter we found on mountain project called "Smashmouth" 5.11. It is a 4 pitch crack that starts as tight hands and slowly turns to fingers until the crack dies out. I felt rather 'off the couch' on this style so I was stoked to onsight it too. Good start to the trad trip!!

Kyle follows Smashmouth 5.11 in Zion National Park, UT

Smashmouth 5.11

Leading the second pitch of Smashmouth 5.11


Zion vibes :)

Next stop was Red Rocks. I had always wanted to check out the route 'Desert Gold' and wow what a dream line. As much as I wanted to be back on the 'Great Red Roof' after coming very close to sending last year, my wrist was telling me otherwise (undercling crux). Desert Gold was a perfect distraction. I have a huge disadvantage in that roof portion (Desert Reality 5.11d) as it is mostly cupping or tight awkward fists, upside down...absolutely heinous. Though I did every move somehow. I loved the "Desert Crack" portion, which is the first half of the route and goes at 5.12+. To comprehend the entire package was a little overwhelming with the roof being so difficult, but dreamy nonetheless. But as cool as this thing is, Joshua Tree had been whispering in my ear since we hit the road and before we knew it, we were driving through the Mojave en route to my home away from home, JTREEeee

Desert Gold 5.13

Most supportive hubby ever :)

Leading the choss but fun first pitch of Desert Gold 5.13

First time up Desert Gold 5.13.

Red Rocks, Nevada

Time to get schooled in JTREE!!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Good Old Days

Another summer in Ontario coming to an end, and another unforgettable one at that.

It has been an incredibly long time since I've posted on here. In fact so long that you may of wondered if I'd quit blogging. Nope. I am still here, its just that the glorious life exploring stone got put on hold for a little bit. Rewind back to the winter... I wont get into details but I was very sick for months and it has taken me a long time to get back to even thinking about training/climbing hard. I was born with a chronic illness that came out of remission in February and life got put on hold. As much of a bummer as this all was, I am happy it happened as I am now blessed with a totally refreshed outlook on life and appreciation for just being alive.

Life Exploring Stone may of been on pause, but we still enjoyed plenty of nice sunny days this winter in the desert with Trilly (our trailer).

But enough about that. Luckily my health improved just in time for this outstanding summer season. Weather has been so hot everyday, it never rains and the rocks are dryer than I have ever seen. I actually kinda felt like I got an entire summer of climbing and guiding in by the time July started! Like two summers in one! This summer was no different than any other, a constant juggling act between my obssession with scaling rock faces and a full time job guiding and running On the Rocks. Rest days are few and far between, hence why I now finally have time to sit down and write during this far overdue rest period from rock climbing. I'm just limping along right now, nearing the final stretch of my guiding season here in the Beaver Valley. Phew! Love my job so much, and so appreciative of all of the amazing folks I get to work with and that support OTR.

Thornbury sunsets. There's no place like home.
Just another day at "work" teaching Dian Xiang and Egor Larinov how to trad climb
Team Boulderz, always a blast working with this amazing youth team :)

Had a stellar time running some clinics and putting on a slideshow at ARC in Sudbury. What an awesome gym and climbing community :)

Summer kicked off with a bang. Within being home for just a couple weeks I already snagged a first ascent off of Dave Zuly, so what more can you ask for ;) Jokes aside, it was a perfect day out at Metcalfe Rock.... I was guiding the awesome True North Climbing Youth Team all day, while Dave and Kyle Thomas were busy bolting a line that we had all talked about for a while. As they battled it out for the first ascent, I watched and haggled about how they should continue to chalk it up and suss the beta for my FA flash after work. Just as I hiked the kids out from the cliff, Chris Pegelo (another local who had eyed up this route) sprinted in after catching wind that they were bolting the line. As his warm up, Chris came incredible close to flashing it but gassed out. My time had come, and despite their best efforts to pull me off the rock, I flashed "Showered With Gifts" 5.11+ for the FA. What a perfect day with buddies.

Chris Pegelo goes for the FA of 'Showered With Gifts' at Metcalfe Rock
Dave Zieleniewski on an FA attempt of Showered With Gifts 5.11d. Dave and Kyle Thomas equipped the line and put in the real hard work.
Typical gallivanting around town. When Ryan Brown's in town there will surely be an adventure.

A couple weeks later Kyle and I went back up to Lions Head to finish bolting a route we had started the year prior. With access issues being a constant battle at the cliff, we stopped bolting for the time being and had to leave the route unfinished. This year we went back with new eyes and re-routed the climb entirely, turning it into a classic rather than a piece of crap 5.10 with a V11 stopper crux. After days of cleaning, beta sussing and bolting, I sent this beauty of a line end of June, and called it "Arrested Development" 5.13a. Very unique movement for the area, and definitely worth checking out.

Kyle Thomas moving the bolts on Arrested Development

That look you get when you just sent your project :)

Focus for the final moves on the first ascent of 'Arrested Development' 5.13


Strongman Colin Lipowitz leads out 'Lord of the Flies' 5.11c with a loaded pack. Siiick.

Gotta love the epic adventure to be had at Lion's Head. Just trying to keep up with Colin!

There's so much more than just rock climbing at Lion's Head. Epic photographer Colin Field shot some amazing stuff this day.
Paul Ko stretches between perfect pockets on Dandilion Wine 5.11c
Lion's Head Salute.
Once July hit, I found myself in the weeds with work. So stoked with all of the courses I have gotten to teach this summer. Lots of sport courses, multi-pitch, trad and youth team coaching. It's been a blast. I took it down a notch with climbing as I have started to feel pretty beat down but still had some super memorable days out on the rocks. More recently we've been on the "Rejuvenation Tour",  retro bolting old lines and fixing up a few that need repairs too. The sport route to the right of "Homecoming" 5.10d at Devils Glen got a face lift and climbs beautifully. It is given 5.12c in the guidebook, but was very contrived and run out. We added a couple bolts, replaced a bolt, and now it is a fantastic 5.11, worth checking out. We've been calling it "Facial Rejuvenation" 5.11. I also fixed the bolt on Harry's Climb 5.12a at Metcalfe Rock, and Kyle retro bolted "Bob and Brians Bogus Adventure" and "The Gopher has Cratered" at Metcalfe too. While we had the drill out there, we bolted a line I have looked at before that is just left of Harry's Climb. It turned out to be a pretty fun little route and also happens to be the first route that Kyle and I have both bolted and FA'd together. Awww. We named it "Decade" in tribute to our 10 year anniversary this summer and after the Neil Young album. It weighs in around 5.10d/5.11a (if you're short). Fun stuff.

Running a lap on Kyle and I's new route at Metcalfe Rock, 'Decade' 5.10d
Continuing with the 'Rejuvenation Tour', I cleaned up this forgotten trad route 'Zuit Soot' 5.11 and it turned out to be pretty classy.
Zuit Soot 5.11 trad, a Dave Smart classic.

Another fun Dave Smart route I cleaned up on the 'Rejuvenation Tour': 'How Elevators Changed Paris' 5.11 is a historical and incredibly sandbagged 5.11a mixed route at DG. SO classic.

Send of the summer was definitely hearing that Jonathan Shen made the second ascent and first male ascent (FMA) of Above the Clouds, a dauntingly steep 40m 5.13b trad/mixed line at Lions Head. Huge congrats to Jon for inspiring men everywhere that they too can climb as hard as women ;)

Me standing beneath 'Above the Clouds' 5.13, after getting the first ascent back in September 2013. It has taken 3 years for it to finally see a second ascent.

These truly are the days I tell ya. Life is good. And though summer isn't quite over yet, I feel the change of seasons on the horizon and my feet are starting to itch for the road. We just bought a new truck with 4 wheel drive!! YAYAYA. We named it "Gandalf the Grey", it is obviously grey and wizard like.

I hope everyone else is getting after those sweet summer days too!

Dan Sivret onsights another 5.11 at The Swamp

Dan Sivret sends his first 5.12b 'Pump and Dump' at The Swamp

Joe Skopec attempting the heinous looking "Waterfall Project'
5.14 something

Jany Mitges stares down the crux deadpoint on 'Jet' 5.12+ at Devils Glen

At 50 years old, Jany Mitges is such an inspiration, crushing 5.12's and projecting 5.13's at DG.
Matt McCormick casually onsights Bio Terror 5.11d at the Al Qaeda Wall.

Huge thanks to my two newest sponsors, Arc'teryx and The Yoak. I still can't believe that  Arc'teryx asked me to be on their team, I'm in shock and it is truly an honour to work with them. Also really excited about my partnership with The Yoak too. This incredibly versatile training tool has kept me so psyched as I can do a climbing specific after work training session that is easy on the fingers. It has also helped me get closer to my goals of holding a front lever and doing a one arm pull up. The improvements in my lock off strength are huge!

Arc'teryx lovin', feeling pretty fly in the new gear I tell ya

Yoak ladders, my fav :)
 I hope that the next time I post will be a farewell to Ontario as we hit the road for the winter season to climb our faces off in the warm desert sun. Now get out there and seize the last days of summer before they are gone!

SUP'n on Georgian Bay
xo Les