A blog about climbing full time on the road.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Airplane Tickets purchased for abroad part two!

holy crap we just bought a lot of plane tickets!!

Today we booked all our tickets for our second trip abroad. It's going to be a ridiculously good time.
For starters we leave our van with my mom out in Ohio and head to New York City to visit brothers and enjoy the Big Apple. We fly out of JFK on April 11th to go to Bangkok, Thailand arriving there on April 12. We'll spend almost two months in southeast Asia. Right now the plan is to climb in Thailand, and do some exploration in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
On June 2nd, we catch a flight to Cape Town, South Africa for a two month bouldering trip to the world famous Rocklands!
Then, on August 2nd we leave Africa for two days of travel to get to Australia. Matthew always talks about how he hates how quickly you arrive places with plane travel not getting a sense of how far you've really traveled. This 42 hour adventure may change his mind. We will spend two months in Australia to sport climb, boulder and maybe even do some trad :)
October 2nd we head to New Zealand for two months  of bouldering at Castle Hill, a renowned limestone area.
Finally, we fly back to Thailand on Dec 2nd for 2 weeks of rest and relaxation before flying back to New York on December 18th. We'll probably spend a couple of days in the city before heading back to Ohio to spend Christmas with my family.

hopefully we didn't screw up any of our dates and don't accidentally book our trip for longer than our visas allow.

Phewww, this is going to be nuts!

PS here's the summary

Leave the USA for Thailand and Southeast Asia!!! 1.75 months
New York - Bangkok, Thailand - April 11th

Rocklands Africa!!! 2 months
Bangkok, Thailand - Cape Town, South Africa - June 2nd

Australia!!! 2 months
Cape Town, South Africa - Melbourne, Australia August 2nd

New Zealand!!! 2 months
Melbourne, Australia - Auckland, New Zealand October 2nd

Thailand!!! 2 weeks
Auckland, New Zealand - Bangkok, Thailand December 2nd

Bangkok, Thailand - New York City December 18th

What a week!

Well I know all we've been posting about lately is that we keep improving and sending our projects, so I'm sorry to report that this post will be no different than the rest.

Our climbing brush armed snowman. Wish this guy could brush the holds for us.
First, a little background. Cassie and I have been climbing steadily for about 5 years now. We moved to Utah in late 2006 and left for the big trip about 8 months ago. Each year saw us get a little bit stronger and more confident with new grades being achieved and old grades getting easier. We would often go back to old climbs we had done and remark how they felt easier than the last time we had climbed it the previous season. Other times those same climbs still felt very difficult.

I remember going to a bouldering area in Utah called Triassic in early 2007 and having a lot of trouble with v3s, and thinking that v5 was miles away from being possible. About a year later v4s started becoming achievable, and v6 seemed like an elite climbers grade, far beyond the abilities of us mortals. Watching people climb those grades we were in awe and talked about how great it would be to climb a 6 someday. On average we have improved about 1 v-grade a year. The exception to this has been the trip, but only a little so far. To wait a year for a new grade requires a lot of patience and perseverance. Hopefully this helps explain how we can be so happy to say we went from v6 to a v7. It's not just the grade, but also all the work that went into getting there. Sometimes its a long wait and a lot of work.

Cassie has been climbing off and on for about 14 years or so. Only seriously for the last 5. At times she had trouble seeing any improvement in her climbing abilities.  She would remark how she didn't notice any improvement in her climbing, even though everyone else watching her climb saw it. It's amazing how we overlook our own abilities and doubt ourselves even when we improve. It happens to all of us. This is because we plateau. You start seeing change so slowly you don't notice it yourself.

I've always measured my progress in grades a bit more than Cassie, who generally seeks out new climbs more than I and loves climbing an easier grade just as much as a harder grade as long as its fun. There are people in climbing who scoff at those wanting to climb a new grade, saying that they are grade chasers and climb only for ego rather than fun. It's an interesting statement about a sport, and I think it has a lot do do with climbers desiring the ethic of boldness rather than strength. in other sports like the 100m sprint no one would say to a runner "sure you took off 1/100 of a second from your time and have a new world record, but did you have fun running it?", or to a gymnast who gets a perfect score "you're just a grade chaser".
Improvement is measured in many ways, but the easiest to explain is in grades. So, we post about how much fun we are having and that we are improving. The grades only tell part of the story, but are an integral piece of climbing.

This week two two major hurdles have been overcome. Cassie found a v7 called "acid wash right jug start" (can someone please rename this climb? What a boring name!) she spent two days working on it. It's a very body-tension specific route and is her first v7 in the US. She got a pizza dinner and beer for that one. Now the bar has been raised and she will need to do a v8 to get another pizza.
Cassie about to do the crux on Acid Wash right v7

For Cassie finding a climb that suits her can be difficult. Often moves are done by guys that are near 6ft tall, so completely different sequences must be used by Cassie who is 5ft 4inches to climb the route. Given these obstacles she can often feel miles away from a climb because of her reach. It was this way with The Hulk v6, which at first appears to favor the taller climber. She sent yesterday and I think it really opened our eyes to how though she might be smaller than some, she is still capable of climbing routes like this. No pictures of this one because I was busy spotting. The crux move involves a reach behind move that puts you at risk of falling on your back from about 6 feet up. Needless to say a spot is a good idea on this one.

My projects included a couple of v9s that I tried over a few days. I really really really never expected that I would make it to v9 having always said that if someday I could do a single v8 I would be happy. Well, v8 went in November and a second went in January so the logical thing to do was try a 9.
Last Dance was the climb that felt most possible to me so I spent 3 days working on it. I sent just as I was starting to get tired. So psyched!
Sticking the big throw on Low Dance - v9

We are both riding on a streak of good climbing lately so the only thing to do is to keep pushing ourselves. Who knows what we might send? Today I write this long post from the comfort of the van and look outside to see the six inches of snow that was dumped on us last night. No climbing today, but I figure we deserve the rest.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bishop update

Our second week at Bishop has seen much success. We've really found our groove here and the temperatures dropped enough to help with the friction. Last night's low of around 10 degrees was a bit much though.
doing the dishes
view from the Happies
looking at The Hulk and Solarium from the west rim
The Happie's wonderful honeycombed pockets. Some of these are Sharp!!!

We went back to Rio's crack at the Sad boulders for a third day of effort. This time everything just clicked. I sent in a few tries and then Cassie, not to be outdone, sent immediately after. Rio's is a difficult line, but well worth the effort. Unfortunately the video camera batteries died just before we sent. Cassie's send was absolutely amazing. Her heal popped off the crack and she managed to get her feet back on but on terrible holds, and still managed to make the really hard cross over move. Everyone's jaws were on the ground when she pulled off the send. So far this was our favorite problem at the Sads, and one of the best v6s we've ever done.
Cassie crushing Rio's Crack v6

We got on a heap of new problems at the Happies. Serengeti was a great v5. This week I started focusing on getting some projects and it paid off just a couple of days ago. Rave v7 and Disco Diva v8 both went down, as well as Redrum v7, and Action Figure v6. Many climbs we don't have photos of, but have been diligently taking video. We're promised to ourselves to start taking more pictures.
finally sticking the crux on Rave v7
Cassie working Action Figure - v6

We've taken a page for our British friend's (Ruth and Innes) playbook and have started rewarding our hard sends with discount day old pastries from Schatt's bakery, so we got chocolate pastries for Rio's, and jelly filled doughnuts for Disco Diva. If either Cassie sends a v7 or I send a v9 we will go out and get a pizza and beer :)

Cassie began working a fantastic climb called Every Color You Are v6 and was making good progress, but stressed a tendon in her right hand, so she is taking it a bit easy. I'm starting to focus on some more projects, and Cassie's hand continues to improve, but still needs some rest.

We went out to dinner the other night with a couple of Cassie's cousins. It was great Thai food and really enjoyable company. The next day Theresa and her friend Yvonne took us out to see some local native american sites, there was an old village marked by rock circles and grinding areas, plus petroglyphs including feet pointing towards water. Very cool and beautiful.

rock art

We went to the buttermilks today and enjoyed buttermilk stem, and a couple of v5s on the bachar boulder. 
buttermilk stem sit start v4

Friday, January 6, 2012

Bishop week 1

We left Oregon just before the bad weather hit two days after Christmas. It took two full days to drive down to Bishop. The van performed admirably considering we hadn't driven it in over 3 months. We arrived at the Pleasant Valley climbers campground (called "The Pit"). It's a cheap little campground that has no water, and pit toilets but is only $2 a night per car. There is plenty of free camping at the Buttermilks which is significantly more scenic, but the vibe here is positive and the concentration of sites helps limit the impact from having so many campers. From here to the climbing areas it's only about 4 miles to the Happies, 5 to the Sads, and about 20 to the Buttermilks and only 25 miles to five natural hot springs!

We spent our first week here climbing as many classic lines as possible. It was a very productive week. Cassie has had a nemesis climb here for over a decade that is supposedly only a v2 called "Big Chicken" at the Happies. It's a very stout line that is steep and tricky. We've seen many a climber fail on this climb that we would normally consider a warmup. She got it her first try which was very good and shows she has improved a great deal. We tried Solarium which is a v3 in the old guidebook but is now v4 in the new guide. It's a techy but powerful problem that took me a few goes to figure out the correct beta to get the good sloper at the top. Quite a picturesque problem. We both hopped on a super-classic line called "The Hulk" which goes at v6. I sent in a couple of tries. Cassie did quite well on it also, though the crux move is a long reach. It definitely seems like she could finish it soon. Cassie also sent Ketron Classic (v4), I climbed Sucker Punch The Happies are great volcanic tuff climbing that has generally quite positive holds. There are patina edges that make some problems super fun to climb at even the easiest grades. We've spent a few days there already and have a ton of projects to finish such as The Gleaner v6, Disco Diva v8, Rave v7, as well as many others we haven't had time to even hop on yet.
The perfectly formed - Solarium v4

Matt wishing the slopers were better on Rave v7
The Gleaner - v6

We've also been to the Sad boulders. Some of the volcanic climbing is scoffed at by people who really enjoy the Buttermilks, but we've found all three areas to be equally good climbing for different reasons. The Sads have some beautiful cave problems that stay cool all day, plus some great v5/v6 problems. I finished Molly (v5) yesterday as well as Anti-Hero (v5) and we both worked Rio's Crack (v6+) with our new friends Inus and Ruth. They are from the UK and are both very good climbers. It's great to continue meeting such wonderful people om the trip. We've climbed with them a good deal and really enjoy their company.
Cassie trying Rio's crack - v6

The Buttermilks are certainly positioned in a very beautiful setting and are incredibly striking lines on granite egg shaped boulders. It's home to some of the hardest boulder problems in the world. Cassie and I have sent a climb that shut us down on a previous trip here 4 years ago. It's called Iron Man Traverse (v4) and is a wonderful traverse (that's saying something since most of the time I hate traverses). We also climbed Birtday Direct/Center (v3) which is a tricky problem up a vertical face. Quite techy that one. Then Cassie stepped it up a few notches and sent Green Wall Center v6 in only 3 or 4 goes. Very impressive to climb that grade in such a small number of tries. That makes her hardest granite send to date!
Cassie on Birthday Center v3
warming up on the Hero Roof
Ruth on Sheepherder v2

We're climbing a ton so don't have a huge number of pictures, but we've shot a ton of video that should help us put together a good bishop video sometime in february.

Today is a rest/shower/blog day. We're doing a bunch of research on plane tickets for the next segment of our abroad trip which should start in early-April.

Europe Video

We put together a video of our trip to Europe. Hope you enjoy it! You can watch it in HD if your connection is fast enough. Simply change the "360p" or "480p" to "720p" or "1080p". It looks excellent in high def!