Showing posts with label climbing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label climbing. Show all posts

Friday, March 17, 2017

Winter Climbing in Cuenca, Spain

Classic arĂȘte climbing on Cabe Esperar (8a) at Sombretivo.
Cuenca is a small city in central Spain, just two hours east of Madrid. The old town is perched on a cliff-lined plateau and is famous for Les Casas Colgadas, hanging houses built into the sheer rock walls that snake around the outer perimeter. Due to its abundance of historical attractions, Cuenca has been declared a UNSECO World Heritage Site and draws countless tourists every year, but the river gorges that surround the city are a major site for rock climbing, one of the most important in this part of Spain. But despite its quality climbing, visits from international climbers remain relatively rare, likely because Cuenca retains an old-school flavour, one where technique often trumps brute strength and tufas are practically non-existent. Regardless, the plentiful sunny aspects piqued our curiosity and we decided to dive in and book a mid-winter trip.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Winter Climbing in Leonidio, Greece

Leonidio, Greece
Leonidio, Greece has recently appeared on the radar of winter climbing hotspots in Europe. This idyllic village lies about 3.5 hours south of Athens and rests on the coast of the Peloponnese, a historic mountainous peninsula with a deeply indented coastline that juts into the Mediterranean Sea. Having already climbed in Kalymnos, we were curious to see what mainland Greece had to offer, and our short, two-week trip in late December allowed many favourable comparisons.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Falling Off the Send Train, Blowing the Red Point and Other Metaphors for Life...

Backyard Project finally sent 5.12d GnR, Upper West Bolton, Vermont
This past year for me has been a rollercoaster of emotions, physical accomplishments, and mental stress.  I have experienced some of my life’s highest highs and close to my lowest lows.  Like a red point in climbing I know what I am supposed to do, I’ve rehearsed the movements, I’ve dreamt and visualized my success and honestly I can taste it, but like what often happens when pushing yourself at the limit, I have taken my fair share of whippers this year. I’ve experienced some of my proudest accomplishments and practiced rolling with failure.  With these failures I adjust, learn and try to grow so next send I’ll be that much more ready.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Mammut North America - a company of climbers, skiers, and mountain athletes.

Our team of mountain climbers on top of the wind scoured summit of Mt Monroe 5372 ft.
 The Mammut Athlete team has been charging ahead with expeditions, rock - ice climbs, ultra trail runs, and ski adventures while quietly back in Vermont the Mammut management, sales, and distribution employees run the core business of this top of the line outdoor company.

This past weekend was the time for an in-house adventure. The Mammut staff came to NH for a ski and mountain climb on Mt Washington in the White Mountains.  MMG Guides Alex, Erik and I met the Mammut team at the AMC Highland Center Lodge on Friday afternoon for an evening of drinks, dinner and social activities.  Saturday morning we all awoke at dawn, ate a healthy breakfast and headed into the wilds of the mountains. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Kalymnos, Take 3

The Greek island of Kalymnos, a stone’s throw from the Turkish coast, is world famous for its limestone rock climbing. My first visit to the island was with my wife in 2005. We enjoyed it so much that we vowed to return, and we did 4 years later with our young daughter in tow. That was 2009 and I just returned from my third visit to Kalymnos. I was pleased to see much has remained the same from my fist trip almost 10 years ago.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Peter Terbush Memorial Outdoor Leadership Summit

Each June I have the opportunity to teach a segment of the "Summit". This program was started at Western State Colorado University in remembrance of Pete Turbush who died in a climbing related rock fall accident in Yosemite back in 1999 ( Pete wanted to become a mountain guide, so his parents set up this foundation to give college students the fundamental technical experience as well as outdoor leadership training necessary to follow in Peter's path.
 I have taught both the mulit-pitch rock segment as well as the single pitch course for the "Summit" over the past several years, and it is always fun to remember what it was like when I was an up-and-coming guide learning these techniques.

Learning lowering techniques at Taylor Canyon

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Bouldering Nationals

I know it's ski season and all... but I'm going to throw some rock scaling in here anyhow.  Last month was my first ABS Nationals as a US citizen and I managed to get 3rd in a highly competitive field, which places me on a USA bouldering team.  I'm psyched to share this news as I'm getting ready for sport climbing nationals coming up in just a few weeks!  In the meantime, enjoy the men's and women's highlights provided by the LT11 crew!

If interested, check out my (longer) blog post!

-Vasya Vorotnikov

Monday, January 21, 2013

Widow's Tears

First off, I need to introduce myself.  I'm Doug Shepherd, a new addition to the Mammut team.  I live in northern New Mexico, where I was born, and am now working as a scientist.  On any given weekend I might be playing in our local mountains or attempting big, cold, icy climbs in some remote mountain range.  My friends occasionally stage interventions on my behalf, particularly when it's rock climbing weather and I'm packing for yet another try on some frozen/mixed horror show on a remote peak instead of enjoying the perfect basalt climbing right by my house.

Recently, I've been attempting these climbs on short trips (less than a week) from home because of my family and work responsibilities.  Some people have termed this kind of climbing "smash and grab", but I prefer "ninja alpinism" and have a great story to share from this past weekend that definitely qualifies as a sneak ascent...

Widow's Tears, ~1200 ft of continuous ice, in Yosemite National Park
I was in southern California for work when my friend Greg Loniewski let me know he had climbed Widow's Tears, a rarely forming 1200 ft ice climb in Yosemite National Park, on January 3rd.  It had seen three other ascents after his and was holding up decently.  This route has been a dream route for me since I started climbing, one of those climbs that is more rumor than truth and many people had attempted but never succeeded on.

Unfortunately, I was stuck in meetings until Thursday, January 18th, and the temperatures were warming up.  Florian Dörfler, a climbing partner of mine who lives in Santa Barbara, was game for a crazy mission.  He picked me up around 10PM on Thursday night and we drove straight to Yosemite, stopping at a massive 24-hour grocery store in Fresno for supplies and at Greg's house to pick up ice screws and a hand-drawn map of the approach and descent.  This climb would not have happened without Greg's map, which gave us just enough information to find the route and the descent, leaving the spirit of adventure alive on the route itself.

Just a small part of WinCo, the largest grocery store I've ever been in.  We lost time on the drive just because we wandered around forever looking at all the different food!
One of our better finds at WinCo, fresh cinnamon rolls at 1AM
We arrived at the parking lot around 4:30AM on Friday and quickly repacked, pounding as many cinnamon rolls that our stomachs could take.  We were soon off, following Greg's map that laid out the general direction to go.  Despite his excellent directions, we still managed to get lost in our sleep deprived state, eventually making it to the base of the climb as it started to get light.

Florian starting the approach after no sleep and driving all night
Florian soloing up the approach ice and snow before Widow's Tears
The first two pitches had started to delaminate in the heat, but we managed to find just enough gear and bonded ice to make them go.  From the third pitch on, the ice quality continually improved until we were climbing hero ice at the top.  As I started up the third pitch, we both remarked that it didn't seem that far to the rim.  How wrong we were, as we were at least 200m from the top.  We kept a good pace, feasting on the variety of snacks we had bought in Fresno and marveling at the position and quality of the climb.  At one point we simul-climbed a long pitch hoping to reach the top, only to be stopped 50m short because I ran out of gear and had to bring Florian up.  This is a huge route!

Myself leading our 3rd pitch, where the ice quality dramatically improved

We thought we could reach the rim on our 5th pitch, but had to stop and belay for one last pitch after simul-climbing for a bit
Florian finishing our 5th pitch, thankful for the protection of his Tripod 2 helmet!
Looking down at Florian on my way to the top of the climb
The view of El Capitan across the valley when we topped out
Florian starting the descent through the woods
The route took us about 6.5 hours from the base to the top and we lounged in the sun for a bit because we had gotten soaked on the last few pitches from the water pouring down the sun-lit ice and snow above the climb.  We knew the descent was roughly four miles through the trees, crossing a few ridges and then finally picking up the trail leading down to the Wawona tunnel parking lot.  Thankfully, a few teams had already been that way, providing us with a foot track to follow through the woods.  Both Florian and I were starting to slow down at this point, the effects of not sleeping the night before catching up with us.  We slowly stumbled our way back to the car, arriving shortly after the sun had set.  We drove back to Greg's house to drop off his gear, where he surprised us with cold beer, fresh pasta, and a place to crash.  The next morning, after sleeping in and eating a huge breakfast, we rallied over to Reed's Pinnacle and climbed classic granite cracks in the warm sun.  A huge ice route one day and perfect rock the next day made the long drives totally worth it!  Huge thanks goes out to Greg for his hospitality and sharing his hard-won beta.

Florian about to receive a Yosemite education in hand-stacking
Stayed tuned for stories from a quick two week trip to Patagonia, including an ascent of Cerro Torre!  I'm really excited to be part of the team and honored to share this space with so many friends and awesome athletes.

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

Friday, April 20, 2012

Hanging up the Spurs in Ten Sleep

If I'm honest, the last year has been a rough one - and hopefully the final chapter in a three-year nomadic spree.

The past three+ years have involved dozens and dozens of flights and numerous trips across the ocean, all kinds of people and places, so many types of rock... and a lot of good luck and good weather.
However, the most recent year has proven to be, by far, the most difficult. Despite finally having a lot of freelance writing work and a regular climbing partner - and despite a full year without any major new injuries (my first ever!) - I've found myself constantly frustrated.

I know with certainty that this has been a direct result of bad weather, and therefore road-weariness. It has everything to do with living in a two-person tent in the rain, not having a car for months on end, bumming rides to the grocery store, gross showers, and unstable weather that never clears... all the while paying apartment-rate rent for camping, scraping together a living with underpaid writing gigs, not having a proper place to work, cooking in the rain/ wind/ snow, and not having a place to train.

On the road and abroad, I've run into many pro climbers again and again - logical, as these are the only other climbers consistently travelling year in, year out. I've often wondered how they do this: how they manage to travel all the time, pushed around by the weather and visa restrictions, nevertheless staying strong and apparently happy... It's only recently occurred to me that these people, through sponsorship or personal funds, have enough money to not only fly to Spain (or France or...), but to rent a house and car once there.

As I was saying, in my/our three-year road stint, last year was certainly the roughest. The negative feelings, for the first time, outweighed the good. Bad weather collided with a growing desire to hunker down into a stable life - a feeling that's been growing in me/us for a while. However, my Swedish "boyfriend-husband" and I have, as the law would have it, been playing the visa game: trying to optimize cheap living, decent climbing weather, and affordable plane tickets all around the world - all the while being sure to never overstay a visa... and meanwhile trying to generate some type of income. And though we're making plans to settle down together, these hoops take a LONG TIME to jump through.

As of a year ago, both of us would have much preferred to pick a home and adapt to the climbing and life there. But again, David's legal time in the US drew to a close, and off we went again! First to Sweden, (back to the US for me, then) France, then Spain... then Sweden... then Montana, then California. Doesn't sound bad, right? And it really isn't, so we shouldn't complain. But if you've ever grown tired of this lifestyle, then you'll understand what I'm saying:

We ended up overreaching our budget to stay in a crowded and cold gite in Fontainebleau, got utterly doused and chased around by rain in Catalonia (for weeks and weeks with a broken, two-person tent and no car), and landed in Sweden in November. David worked nearly every day in December. I flew home. He followed. I got sick. He got sick. I got sick again. In January we went to Bishop - and camped in the Buttermilks. I had a great time climbing, but David's fingertips cracked like a desert floor - despite all skin treatments possible and multiple long rest periods - so he essentially didn't climb at all for an entire month. We slept in 0-degree weather, cooked in the blowing wind, and lived (two people and one dog) in a passenger car for a month. This isn't fun if only one person is climbing, and the other is benched by a totally inexplicable skin problem.

You can imagine that if you're trying to stay strong and watch your weight, then this particular situation would not be too productive. After all, we're doing this all for climbing, right?

I think that, though it should prove fruitful in the long-run, a new-found appreciation for training has added to the frustration. Despite my ever-growing and -focusing interest and belief in training, and the results its given me (an injury-free year at the very least!), my inability to follow/ implement these new ideas has just deepened my cynicism about my lack of stability and resulting lack of fitness... and has made me feel bitter about the need to constantly get in shape (again) for climbing.


Fast forward a few months and many states. Here we are in Ten Sleep, Wyoming. Trying to get back into shape. I just have to shake my head about it and the feelings of futility I have. But I am seriously motivated to push through it - now that I'm finally on the cusp of achieving a stable life with a life- and climbing partner. The thing that drives me to go through the process again is knowing that we'll be here at least four months. Hopefully more - possibly a lot more. And knowing that David will soon have permanent residency, and we'll be able to coexist within the same borders (without sprinting away at the end of a visa), and both work in the same country. And we'll be set for a bit... at least until we start working on my residency in Sweden!

So though I'm bitter and pissed-off about my seeming self-inflicted helplessness and lack of fitness, I'm hoping that this is really the final chapter in a generally amazing, but utterly expired, portion of my life.

We're now living with kind, supportive, and extremely motivated friends in an amazing place... rife with excellent climbing and good weather... and even a home climbing and fitness gym to boot! We're getting in shape for sport climbing... yes, AGAIN... and are trying to do so happily.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Joe's Valley

We just got back from another short trip to Joe's Valley. This time it was my turn for "sucking in Joe's" and I definitely learned a few lessons about patience and resting during bouldering.

Anyway- here is a short video David made about the trip.

Sucking in Joe's 2 from David Sjoquist on Vimeo.

More next time!

-Christine Balaz

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Finally - A Break in the Rain in Utah!

If the old saying, "April showers bring May flowers" is true, then Utah is going to look like this next month:
... because the weather has been looking like this:

In any case, I had a four-day weekend last week that was almost completely squandered with indoor activities. We'd been hoping to take a climbing trip-- but the forecast from Idaho to Las Vegas, Rifle, and Ibex was rain.

But on Sunday, the sun came out for just a little bit. We checked the forecast and the webcams and decided to sprint to Joe's Valley for the last 1.5 days of this long weekend.

David made a video about some of the climbs from the short trip. You'll have to excuse the title and the poor footage quality. Not all climbing movies have to be cool. But it's a fun video to watch anyway!

-Christine Balaz

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Kane Springs Canyon + Indian Creek

This weekend my friend, Zac Robinson, and I headed down to Kane Springs Canyon (near Moab) and Indian Creek. On the first day we climbed the Predator Tower, a muddy little spire on the edge of Kane Springs Canyon. After that, we went to The Creek, but I'm not going to post any photos of that, because all you'd see is toproping and crying.

Kane Springs Canyon as it opens into a proper valley.
Zac Robinson Photo
Predator Tower is barely visible, viewer's right.

Zac Robinson Photo

Zac Robinson Photo
Wide-angle lenses aren't flattering for anyone up close.

Zac Robinson Photo
Belay station

Zac Robinson Photo
Topping out feels scary

Looking down

Calling the dog (black dot, bottom left)

Zac Robinson Photo

Zac Robinson Photo

Zac Robinson Photo
Freaking BRRRRR

Zac Robinson Photo

Zac Robinson Photo

Crossing the pokey riverbed

Zac Robinson Photo
Checking out the Devil's Golf Ball

-Christine Balaz