A blog about climbing full time on the road.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cassie's first V6

Cassie sent her first V6 at St.George a few weekends ago. We put together a video of that climb as well as some others. The climb was called Underwhelmed.

Click here to watch the video.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

escaping the cold (almost)

Inside the TeePee Boulder

This weekend we made a trip down to Moe's Valley in St. George Utah. We went there a few times earlier this year so you might remember it from previous blogposts. We decided to make the journey after cold weather kept threatening to keep us from going outside to climb. We left Friday morning and were climbing by early afternoon. The weather was warm indeed and the sun on our faces kept spirits high.

Saturday morning the real work began as we headed into the main bouldering area armed with our newly purchased guidebook created by two local climbers. Many more climbs were documented and we were excited to see how much we could do. Unfortunately the weather quickly went from sunny to total cloud cover and the temps became quite cold. In my opinion that's the best climbing weather, but Cassie's big toe which was staying a constant white begged to differ. I guess climbing with numb toes is kind of difficult.

We quickly set about dispatching some warmups and then headed straight to a really cool roof climb called Underwhelmed. Unfortunately I was being totally lame about taking video or pictures and we don't have any shots of that climb. We will be going back next weekend however so I expect to get some shots for the next blogpost. Cassie came very close to sending that problem and is excited to go back and give it another try.

Cassie getting warmed up and loving the sun.
We  then headed to a cave called the Device Ignitor which has 3 quality lines coming out of it. I tried the left variation and sent just as my strength was leaving me. Cassie tried the middle line and found that she was completely exhausted from trying Underwhelmed so many times. Again my apologies for not having any shots of those climbs. I do have some video though and plan to put together some clips after next weekend. We left after 7 hours of near constant climbing. We could have been a geriatric couple if you just listened to all the moaning and complaining about how sore we were. Cassie's back was in pain from an apparent nerve pinch (totally unrelated to climbing). Her abs were sore from climbing basically horizontal (upside down) for most of the day and her fingers were compltely raw from the rock. I was in similiar shape with forearms that could barely squeeze a tube of toothpaste and some missing skin from the sharp rock. Cassie was in bed and asleep by 8:30 and slept till well after 8am.

We woke up and made french toast and lattes then headed back out to see how much we had recovered during the night. The answer was: not much. We tried a few problems and spent most of the time on the ground groaning about different aches and pains. We decided to head up to a boulder called the Spiders Drum which has some really cool flakes that make deep drumlike sounds when pounded on. Now something you have to understand about rock quality is that pounding on rock and listening for a drumlike sound is a good way to find out the solidness of the formation. Any drumlike sound is a definite bad sign. But we climbed anyway with some misgivings about the quality of the stone because the climb looked SO COOL. Definitely one of the best V3s I've ever tried.

Spider's Drum

The holds on Spiders Drum.

After that we went to a climb called Israil (lots of rock climbing route names are play on words). It's a very stout problem but Cassie and I made good progress on it. We were completely wiped by the time we got close to sending and had to leave to come back to SLC. Hopefully we'll get video and pictures of us sending it next weekend.

So, now back to our dayjobs which we are very excited won't be there for much longer. Sorry about the lengthy post, we just don't have very many pictures so I figured I would fill in the details with words.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

winter weekends


Winter has hit the Wasatch a bit early this year with a couple big storms before thanksgiving and it's been snowing like crazy all day today. As much as I love the snow and skiing, I wasn't ready for the abrupt end to the climbing season. Even though conditions may not be ideal for climbing in the wasatch for a little bit, we're still going to try to make the most of our last season of winter bouldering in Utah. Since our last trip to Escalante, we've made a couple trips out to Ibex to crystal peak for some remote and rarely climbed boulders, but beautiful lines and scenery. One weekened we scouted the place out for the climbing club and the next went back with the club. Although only a very few members were brave enough to brave the drive and the cold, it was fun to have a smaller group and there were quality problems for all of us to send and plenty for us to want to come back to as well.

I've made a couple trips to Moab in the last month as well. The first was a visit from my parents. We were originally planning on going out to Escalante with them, but the weather wasn't cooperating so we decided to head to Moab instead. We camped at Fisher Towers, arriving just before an amazing sunset the first night. We hiked around fisher towers, watched people climb ancient art. Which even though we've done it before, still makes me slightly nauseous looking up at it and thinking about how it felt to do it. Amazing, but terrifying!. This trip was just for hiking though, there's a great trial that goes along the base of the titan and other towers, ending at a ridge overlooking the fisher valley. The next day we hiked out to corona arch which is downriver a few miles from Moab. It's a nice short hike along the slick rock to two amazing arches with the added benefit of being outside of the park, so no fees, no crowds and Mojo could join us.

I went back to Moab for a week for my favorite work conference. The desert fishes council. Yes, fish in the desert, that's what I work with and they are some of the craziest and coolest fish and a great group of people from southern Oregon to Texas and Mexico. You have to be a pretty great person to love the suckers and chubs of the world. One of the highlights of the meeting has to be Phil Piester who is one of the founding members of the group, one of the founders of the endangered species act, and has a great story about holding the entire population of Owen's Valley pupfish in his hands in two 5 gallon buckets. These fish are still alive today because of him. Since the world headquarters of DFC is in Bishop, I plan to contact Phil and other fish folk on our travels next year and hope to see some other fish and habitats outside of Utah as a nice diversion from climbing from time to time. We were supposed to end the conference with a day long float down the Colorado on the daily stretch just outside of Moab. Although the day started out nice, partly cloudy is really beautiful in the desert and cast some great light on the towers, the 70% chance of rain and 40 mph wind forecast soon caught up with us leaving my boat in an eddy, pinned by the wind against a rock and the bank, unable to move for about 15 minutes while we all hunkered down facing upstream to avoid the hail pelting our faces. The wind and weather got so bad that 4 of 5 boats didn't make it to the planned take out instead tying the boats up and hiking out to the road and walking the remaining distance to the vehicles. Probably not the trip everyone thought they had signed up for, but memorable non the less.

This weekend, the weather and me getting over a cold tried to keep us from climbing, but Matt convinced me that 34 and mostly sunny at Triassic really was perfect bouldering temps and would be warm enough. I believed him so we headed over yesterday. The day turned out great. I made progress on my nemesis, "some get two fingers", but ran out of skin before I was able to finish it. Matt was on a sending streak, finishing some get two fingers (he got it years ago, but later realized he started it about 3 moves after it was supposed to start). Matt also finished his longstanding nemesis "thud", which is very short and powerful. He also sent a cool crimper problem called "Ronald McDonald and Me" V6 in just a few tries.

So while there hasn't been much blogging lately, we've been busy. Right now we're just trying to finish up our jobs and are so psyched to leave on our trip and next adventure. Unfortunately no pics from either of the moab trips right now. Our computer died and we don't have any good photo sorting/editing software on this one yet. We should be getting something soon and will add some pictures next week or so. You can find more crystal peak pictures here.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010



Last weekend we took a trip down to Escalante with the climbing club. The goal was Egypt 2 and 3, but the journey there is half the adventure. We took the back roads down through Torrey to Boulder to Escalante since in the van, you can't go 80 on the freeway, so you might as well take the scenic route and enjoy the ride. The road from Torrey to Boulder takes you from the red rock at the entrance to Capitol Reef up boulder mountain through aspen and pine forests with meadows to break things up and give you an amazing view of the ridges and buttes of the Utah desert. They also make for a popular hang out for deer, so there can't be too much daydreaming about the beauty of the trip. Matt got some great shots while I was driving of the Aspens and scenery in the setting sun.


From Boulder, the road gets even crazier. It winds through the slick rock putting you up on a very narrow as in there is no shoulder, no guard rail, no nothing on between you on the road and the valleys and canyons below. Since it was dark by the time we got there, I chose to creep along in the middle of the road to put a little more distance between the van and the void.

Once you've survived the driving excitement and 16 miles of the most washboarded road you can imagine, the canyons have built themselves up to be pretty spectacular. Matt decided not to do the canyon trip since his knee has still been bothering him since our Nebo trip. It's much better, but didn't think it was worth the risk of re-injuring it.

the rappel into Egypt

We had a group of about 20 people going down the canyon. We started at the top of Egypt 2 which starts with a 250 foot rappel off of the back of Doug's Toyota. In spite of all of the jokes of hope the parking brake is on, it was a very secure set up. After the rappel, Egypt 2 was a fun canyon with a few water holes, short but a little bit tricky down climbs, lots of mud (which does not help your sticky rubber shoes stick very well), and lots of moqui balls which are those little round knobs in the sandstone which look really cool but start to be really painful while you're scraping your way along the sides of a narrow canyon.

Stemming in Egypt 2

We hiked out of Egypt 2 and back down into Egypt 3. Egypt 3 was amazing!! This canyon had it all. It had amazing scoops and turns in the rock, and at it's narrowest point is only about 10 inches wide! At 10 inches wide, you take off your pack, walk side ways and can not turn your head. It's pretty dark at this point and the sky is just a little slit way up above. Fortunately you could still get through the canyon if you are wider than 10 inches, you just had to stem your way up higher where it got a bit wider. There was also one more water hole -- even though I'd already gotten wet in the earlier pot holes, everyone was bridging themselves over this one which means your feet on one side, your hands on the other and you are the bridge. People before me were making this look pretty easy, but they were also all taller than me. I was pretty sure I was going to be taking a nice belly flop into the water, but had to give it a try and luckily made it! We were also going up this canyon rather than down. To get out of it there were a number of short pour overs that we had to climb up. These were tricky since sandstone that has had water running over it is very smooth, but with help in a couple spots from a hand above or a little assist from below, everyone made it through no problem.
squeezing through

We got back to camp after a long day with a great treat of fresh baked bread by Matt from the sun oven and finished the day off sitting around the campfire with friends.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Our Trip Map

Okay so my mom asked me for a better idea of where we might be on our trip and when we might be there. Now understand that all of this is subject to change. We have an idea of what we might want to do, but we don't know how well any of this will work. Weather, climbing conditions, and a host of other factors may change this, and we have absolutely not committed to this route. That being said it seems like reasonable route and one that could make sense.

So here's what I did. We have a few static pages we can create on our blog. I've create a new one called "our trip map". It's a page with a google map embedded in it. I can change the google map and the page automatically changes when you reload it. Pretty cool really. I've put one of our trip ideas out there for people to see. You can click on the placemarks to see what area we are interested in visiting and a month that we might be there. As we actually go on the trip we'll update this page so you can see where we've been, get to blogposts for those areas, and see where we might be in the future.

Click here to get to the Trip Map Page. 

Mud and Stars

Cassie went to Oregon last weekend to watch her dad run in a marathon. Leo trained for months to get ready and we were all really proud and impressed that he finished! He even did the marathon in the rain which makes it even more amazing. So, congrats to Leo for such a great accomplishment.

I stayed in Utah for the weekend and went climbing by myself. It had rained a lot during the week and the rock was wet and everything was quite muddy. Not a ton of pictures were taken so bear with me. Basically I took some pictures of a big mud puddle and tried some night shots of stars. Yeah I know it's a weird combination.

Rainclouds over the mountains. 

The Milky Way and the cliffs at Joe's.

Mojo loving the muddy water. He would have played in it all day if I had let him.

Weeds and muddy water.

I tried a project at Joe's and got really close but didn't send it. I did another climb called Runt (V7) that I tried super hard on in June but failed. This time I found the right sequence and sent it easily. Possibly I used holds that you aren't supposed to use because it was so easy that I repeated it immediately without even resting so that I could get video of me doing it. Alas watching the video it doesn't even look that good because I make it look super easy. One of the tricks when shooting good video is being able to show how hard the moves are, and usually a good way to do that is to really struggle on the climb. That seems to help make it look interesting, but when you just cruise it it doesn't make it look very impressive, especially when it's a short climb. In this case the whole climb was packed into 5 or 6 hand moves in only about 8 feet. So, I probably won't post the video because it's really not very exciting. Funny how that works sometimes something that is so rewarding to us (I felt completely elated when I finished it) just doesn't visually make that great of a story. I suppose that's because all the effort put into it is really what the story is about, not just getting the climb. So, trying to convey that effort is probably what I should really focus on in the video. Build up the story of the climb so that when I show the climber getting it the audience also feels that sense of accomplishment. Ah well, i'm just an amateur and often I just don't have the video. Most of the time I'd just rather climb than shoot video.

During the weekend I also installed our newly modified tent. Previously our tent just had canvas sides, so when you roll over you just see brown canvas. We found a custom tent repair shop in Salt Lake that would install new windows with bug nets. Over the weekend I installed it. It was great to be able to see the stars as I was falling asleep!

Before Tent was installed. 

Finally installed and ready to sleep in. The new window is behind the light.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mo' Joes Valley

Cassie on The Angler V1

Well you can probably guess from the title that we went back to Joe's again last weekend. It was a really great weekend of bouldering and some lines went down that we were very happy about. It was also the first weekend where we got to try our new propane setup, and our new espresso setup. Both were fantastic experiments and we're certainly going to keep them on for the trip.

The propane setup was debated between Cassie and I for quite some time. We had decided to go with an old school coleman stove because we calculated the price of using those little green propane cylinders vs using liquid white gas and it ended up being dramatically cheaper to use liquid fuel. So, we purchased a liquid fuel stove and lantern only to be immediately reminded why we don't really like them. First, they almost always leak fuel when you try to fill them, and second they need pumped. That's not a deal breaker for a weekend trip. But when you figure you're going to be camping for almost 2 years straight it seems pretty unappealing. So, we did a little bit more research and found that we could get a smaller propane cylinder (about half the size of a normal bbq grill propane tank). This would allow us to continue to use propane, and after crunching the numbers we were astonished. did you know that a gallon of coleman white gas goes for about $12? and that propane runs (here in utah) at about 2.35 a gallon when gasoline is 2.85? that's about a no brainer to convince us to make the switch back to propane. I think over a year we'll save about 300 just in fuel and no messy spills or pumping!


The espresso maker was our other success. Some of you might know that I really don't drink coffee, but thanks to Bruce getting us a latte maker for our wedding present we started drinking lattes on the weekends. After cleaning out the french press a couple of times this year we started thinking that an espresso maker might be tastier and less messy. I'm not sure that it has proven itself on the less messy side, but the tasty has won us out. We also decided to get a conical burr grinder to allow us to hand grind our coffee. This means fresh espresso's everyday. It worked really well as you can tell from the pictures. Basically you just grind the espresso, put it in the espresso pot and put it on the stove while at the same time putting some milk in another container and heat it on the stove as well. When the milk is hot you simply use this plunger type thing which creates some of the creamist foam i've ever had. the espresso is usually done by then and you just pour it out. Yummm!!




We also had a great time climbing this weekend. We did a bunch of easier problems on Friday, and then went on to try Bowling Ball V4 which was excellent, and topped it off with Frosted Flakes V4 which was an excellent harder problem. The next day we went down to riverside and since the water was so low we could finally protect The Angler which is a very easy, but very high line right next to the water. The pictures were shot by our friend Lauren who did a great job. Cassie then went on to send Kelly's Arete which is a super fun V5. I was terribly impressed since it's a pretty high topout and the business of topping out isn't easy. Cassie is truly getting better about doing hard moves even when she is high off the deck. After that we went across the river to Low Tide V6 which I did in a few tries after figuring out some fairly tricky beta. We then headed up the hill to try some other V6s (Moby Dick, and Black and Blue) which both shut us down) We'll be back to try those again sometime soon.
On Sunday we warmed up at riverside and headed up to Big Joe. The previous weekend I had tried it but it didn't feel doable probably because of the warm temperatures, but even though it was out third day of straight climbing it just fell into place and I sent it. I'm very happy because I had put a goal out there for me to do a V7 before the end of the year and I made my goal early. Sorry, no pictures of that one, I didn't really think I'd send it so we didn't even bring the camera or video.

I think i might have mentioned in our last post that we've been climbing with some new friends that are staying at Joe's Valley for a while. Lauren is a recent college grad from Seattle who is on a lengthy college graduation present vacation and George is from Austria. George works at a ski shop during the winter and travels the remainder of the year. Cassie and I are both very envious of such a sweet setup. George climbs quite hard and is constantly pushing us to try harder in a super encouraging way. I daresay his positive attitude has helped us climb these harder problems.

Matthew on Low Tide V6

Ah well a great weekend it was indeed. Here's hoping with temps finally dropping back into the reasonable digits we can keep climbing hard. We also had enough video footage that we decided to put anther climbing vide together. This one is a lot more climbing that the usual one's. Hope you enjoy it!


Monday, September 27, 2010

Joes Valley

Okay so we're really psyched on bouldering. No really, we are really, really, psyched on it. I've pretty much always loved it, but Cassie is getting the bug as well. We haven't really done much roped climbing this year. We're definitely going to get back on a rope soon, but right now we're just enjoying this type of climbing.

Cassie sending Pimpin' Jeans V4

Cassie on Pimpin' Jeans V4

Since I hurt my knee before our backpacking trip I didn't get to take that time off of work, which means with only a few months left in the year I have a bunch of vacation to use, and Cassie doesn't (since she went on the trip). So what to do? Cassie gets Fridays off anyway since she works four ten-hour days. With that in mind we've decided to go on three day weekends pretty much every weekend until the end of the year.

Matthew on Maxipad V6.

The destination last weekend was Joe's Valley. Since it's only a 2.5 hour drive from our house, and since it's a world famous bouldering destination it's a good choice. "World famous" you say? Yes, as in the guy we met this weekend was from Austria and was spending a good bit of his 6 month road trip in Joe's. So, that's how I qualify it as world famous. When people have that much time off of work, and they choose to spend it in the middle of the utah, with basically nothing around, it just goes to show how amazing it is (or how crazy climbers can be).

We got on a little bit of everything this weekend. Cassie sent 2 projects (a V4 called pimpin' jeans, and a V3 hueco problem), as well as a bunch of other climbs. I managed to finish Pocket Rocket V5, Maxipad V6 (sorry that's really the name), and flashed Kellys Arete V5. All in all we were pretty happy with the climbing, though no matter how well we do there is always a bit of saying "i wish I could have gotten x,y,z" but that's part of the game. If we were always content with what we did there wouldn't be much incentive to do it again. Sometimes I think dissatisfaction is the cornerstone of the human race.

Matthew on Maxipad V6.

video of cassie on some recent climbs. teaser for the next video. 

Well next weekend we are going out there to do it again, so new posts and a video will be on their way. I have some pretty sweet video from last weekend, but I need a bit more to make it worth watching. Cassie took these awesome pictures of me sending Maxipad. She's got a great creative eye. Hopefully with her getting more into being artistic you'll see even more pictures of me climbing :)

More pictures from the weekend on our flickr page. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Solar Cooking!

Recently we decided that on The Trip we would like to be able to bake. That was an interesting dilemma as baking and roadtripping doesn't really go together (or so we thought). After doing some research online about solar ovens we decided to go ahead and purchase one. It cost about $250 (with shipping) We bought the most widely used oven available and one that had the most positive reviews. Supposedly this oven could get over 350+ degrees and would cook without burning. We figured it was worth a try. This week the oven arrived completely assembled, and all we had to do to use it the first time was to remove the protective film from the reflectors.

How does it work? It works GREAT! Our burnoff test revealed that the oven could get to boiling in under 10 minutes, over 300 in 20 minutes, and over 365 degrees in 40 minutes! That's definitely hot enough to bake. So, today we threw together a simple no-yeast maple-oatmeal whole wheat bread. After preheating the sun oven we threw the bread mix in and sat back and watched. It cooked in almost the same time the recipe said it would because the recipe called for 350 degrees and that's almost exactly what the oven got to. Homemade bread baked by the sun in about an hour? Yeah!

One of the best benefits of solar ovens is that they can be used in cold weather. A clear cold day is better than a humid hot day because of the light intensity which is the most important part. That means you can cook even below freezing in the winter! Your cooking window is much shorter because of the shorter days, so that just means you need to use your sun time better.

Our hope is that on the trip we will be able to cook our own granola, cookies, bread, and snack bars. We figure not only will it taste better and be better for us than store bought items, but will give us a much different perspective on cooking and eating our own food. In addition to baking the oven can also cook anything else you want. We're going to try slow roasting pork, making rice, and boiling water for coffee. It'll be a cool experience.


Here are some pictures from our first baking.

The recipe.

The oven with reflectors folded up.

Starting temp

25 minutes into preheat.

around 40 minutes of baking.

Crust starting to get golden brown, and smelling great!

Bread in oven.

Checking the bread. Perfectly cooked and ready to come out.

The final product. Check out that crust!!!

So good. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mike's visit to Utah


Last weekend our good friend Mike Loh came into town. We were originally supposed to meet him in Idaho at City of Rocks for a weekend of stellar granite climbing, but alas the van figured that it would rather sit in the shop for the weekend. Just as we were leaving SLC the engine temperature alarm came on and we decided to get it towed back to our great mechanic Wayne's VW. Fortunately we found out today that it was just the thermostat which goes bad eventually and it was pretty inexpensive to repair, also good news was that we got the gas lines replaced which will resolve some of our leaky fuel issues when filling up the tank completely, unfortunately that one wasn't so cheap to do.

After bailing on City we left Mike a message that we wouldn't be able to make it and that he should come down to Sandy for some Utah climbing. After some missed connections we finally got in touch with Mike, gave him directions to our place and were planning our Saturday of climbing. We were all in agreement that cool temps were the primary concern as the Wasatch Range was supposed to be baking around 96 degrees. With that in mind we opted to go back to the Uintas. The Uintas are a great high mountain range that runs East West across Utah and at 13,000 ft has the highest peak in Utah. The crag we chose is called Ruth Lake and is the easiest to access (only a half mile hike in) and boasts some of the best lines for sport climbers (which we arguably are). We hiked into the wall and promptly onsighted or flashed everything we hopped on up to and including 5.10d. I mention the grade specifically because I'm pretty sure that is Cassie's hardest flash to date and was done after a good deal of time not climbing on ropes at all so our endurance for anything over 20 ft is pretty much shot.

Cassie clipping the bolt before the hard section.
Scalp Fest 5.10d

Mike in a comfortable hand jam. 
Sweat Lodge 5.10b


Near the end of our climbing day I went down to Ruth Lake with Mojo to let him have some fun running around while Cassie and Mike finished climbing. The wildflowers were outstanding and so was the light. I'm really happy with the way some of the pictures came out, and it's all thanks to that evening low light that makes everything look surreal.

After climbing we went into Kamas and had dinner. We left not realizing that both Mike and I had left our credit cards in the bills. The next morning while trying to pay for breakfast the truth was shown and Cassie had a good laugh at our incompetence.

With such a stellar weeekend spent among friends we all agreed that we should really get together and do that type of thing more often, and so tentative plans have begun for a trip in the future. Can't wait!

Click here for the full set of pictures from the weekend.