Showing posts with label Chris Thomas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chris Thomas. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

New River Gorge

by Chris Thomas

Less than 72 hours after getting home from three weeks in Europe, I repacked my bags and headed to Arkansas for the 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell event.  What a great time!  And a complete and total body thrashing…    After 109 pitches, a thunderstrom with pounding rain, and some serious sleep deprivation the skin on my hands felt like it was on fire and I couldn’t even tie my shoes without flinching.  But…since I was on the East coast anyways I figured it was a prime opportunity to go back to one of my most favorite climbing areas on the planet – the New River Gorge.  A posse of friends and I rented a house within walking distance of the famous Endless Wall.  After a couple of recovery days the southern sandstone tour continued:
Meadow River Gorge:  The Greatest Show on Earth.  This is probably the prettiest hard trad route I've eve laid eyes on.  The boulder problem roof took more core strength than I had to throw at it!  I'll defintiely be back...
 Will Mayo pulling down on the classic Toxic Hueco
 Trying, and failing, to onsight slopey 5.13 in the 90+% humidity.  Great route none the less! 
Martin Leska, copper roof extraordinaire, and one of the best all-around climbers I’ve ever known
 Quinsana Plus

It's not a trip to WV without a few days of pouring rain.  But fortunately the Cirque’s mega steep walls stayed nice and dry.  Cold temps finally arrived and the friction was perfect!  Glenn Ritter, author of numerousl NRG classic sport routes, back in his old stomping ground.

Sunset on Beauty Mountain.  Great finish to the trip.

Chris Thomas

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Europe part 2

by Chris Thomas

It was hard to leave the paradise of Switzerland, but with so many places to see and types of climbing to check out it was time to move on.  We decided on the Finale Ligure/Oltre Finale region of the Italian Riviera.  It felt like we won the lottery!
Oltre Finale is all about the tufas.  This makes for steep, gymnastic climbing on features that you just don't get in the US.  So much fun!
 Standing below my first 5.13 onsight since coming back from injury earlier in the year
 Beautiful arch bridge leading to one of the climbing areas

Yucca, a mini-project for the week we were there.  Short bouldery routes have always been my weakness, so it felt great to tick this one off

The Vilalge of Colletta.  Ancient buildings, top-notch Italian food, incredible views, and walking distance to world class tufa climbing.  What more could you ask for?

I can't wait to go back!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Back At It - Europe Part 1

by Chris Thomas

Sarah and I had a great climbing trip to Europe this fall.  Although I was fresh off the injured list (, I was chomping at the bit to get back in shape and climb as much as possible!

 Approaching Hintisberg through the cow pasture. 
 Looking across the valley at the North Face of the Eiger!
 Picturesque Murren. 

Before the trip I was skeptical about via ferrata.  Sarah was super excited about it, but to me  It seemed like a contrived substitute for real climbing.  How wrong I was!  We used the via ferrata in Murren to approach the climbing a Gimmelwald and had a blast!  So much fun and so much exposure!
Making it even cooler was the base jumping event going on.  We watched dozens of wing suiters take off just a few feet away from us.

 Thanks for contributing to the construction Mammut!

 Gimmelwald.  Perhaps the most scenic sport climbing area I've ever been to

Our week in Switzerland flew by.  There's so much to do - it's like paradise for a climber.  I'll defintiely be back soon.
Next stop - Italy!
Chris Thomas

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Blood, Guts, and Gore!

by Chris Thomas

Blood, guts, and gore!  While climbing at The Hoop, UT I slipped on some dirty rock and took a whipper on the slab warm up.   I wasn’t in any pain, but when I looked at my elbow I couldn’t believe it!
20 minute hike, 3 hour drive, and three different hospitals later, I finally ended up getting same day surgery in the ER in Salt Lake City.  My extensor tendon was cut, but not completely severed, and I went through the fascia and into muscle.  The biggest risk is infection from the pile of dirt, lichen, and other debris that were lodged inside the wound. 

The funny thing is I have absolutely no idea what cut me.  A razor sharp blade of Utah limestone?  A bolt hanger?
Be careful out there, even slabby moderate sport routes can snap at you when you’re not paying attention.

Chris Thomas

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Best Of Both Worlds, by Chris Thomas

I was truly torn on what to do for the weekend.  On the one hand I had just been to a stellar limestone crag in NE Utah for the first time and was desperate to go back and finish up a couple of routes I had tried.  One the other hand it was mid-august, 100 degrees in Salt Lake, and the idea of going ice climbing at 12,000 feet in the Tetons seemed super worthy as well.

I think that’s one of the reasons climbing has captivated me for some many years now.  Ice climbing in the mountains and sport climbing at the crag are worlds apart in terms of the experience they offer and the skills required.  I would most certainly be better at one or the other if I could just focus and commit myself to one discipline.  But the variety and unique but related challenges of doing both are just too much fun.

  After talking with my friend JT, it was decided.  We’d drive to the Hoop and hopefully send our sport projects.  After that we’d pack up, drive to the Tetons, catch a few hours of rest and then start hiking.  I was set on soloing the Black Ice Couloir, JT had his sights on Middle Teton’s NW Ice couloir.

Conditions at the Hoop were perfect!  At over 9,000 feet and shady, it’s streaked and pocketed limestone walls offer a perfect summer retreat while the rest of Utah is blazing hot.


The rock at the Hoop is razor sharp – you only get a couple of tries before you’re bleeding from your fingertips.  By mid-afternoon we had finished up and hiked back to the car.

Next up was the 5 hour drive to the Tetons.  We got some dinner in Moose and waited till dark so we could grab a couple hours of sleep.  The trick is to time your start so you arrive at the base of the climb at first light.  I left at midnight, JT decided to sleep in until about 3AM.

The approach to the lower saddle went quickly.  As I navigated the Valhalla Traverse via headlamp I started getting really excited – the Black Ice Couloir has been on my to do list since the year I started climbing.

I guess I got up a little too early – it was still pitch black when I got to the base of the route.  I waited in the dark for about an hour.  At first twilight I started up the rock pitch, and by the time I got to the ice in the couloir I could put my headlamp away.

The climbing was easy and low angle, but the ice was bullet hard!  Front pointing up a few thousand feet of gully ice is a hell of a calf work out!

After topping out on the lower saddle I jogged back to the car.  Running down the steep trail is hard on the knees, but I was ready for tacos and beer.  JT met me in the parking lot – despite his later start he had crushed his objective and was already relaxing and taking in the views.

All in all a great weekend.  Variety is the spice of life!

Chris Thomas