Motivating in Laradise

This being my first summer in Laramie there are a lot of things pulling at my motivation right now; new places. and beautiful routes, some can you only find off the beaten path. In no determinate order these are the things in the back of my mind right now, the list seemed to grow with every time I went climbing this last week or two.

  • Wild Iris – It’s a mere 3.5 hours away (that’s a solid 1.5 hours closer than Ten Sleep was to Bozeman and I still made it to Ten Sleep 7 times in one summer!)
    • Throwin’ the Houlihan 5.14a – I have it down to one move, enough said!
  • Pretty Girls With Long Knives 5.12b – a stunner of a layback crack that I need to go back and lead
  • Son of A Wanted Man 5.13c – I tried this with Pat Kingsbury last fall and did all the moves, but it has too wait for some cooler temps of the fall.
  • El Dakota – A rad newish bouldering area, still lots to be cleaned and climbed
    • The Hunter V12 – did all the moves to the lip, except the crux deadpoint, yesterday, this is one of the better looking boulders in a forest of good looking boulders
  • Cumulus V10? – my spring project after returning from Yosemite but it got too hot for these vertical crimps before I could finish it off.
  • Neverland – for those in the know, this place gets a lot of talking up
  • The Green Valley – a hidden Vedauwoo valley supposed to have the best V6 in the voo.
  • Arch Stanton 5.11d – sandbaggery and bolts you can’t reach from the climb??? PK and I looked at it and bailed but it begs to get climbed.
  • Albany, WY – a new new bouldering area in the snowy range, vedauwoo rock for the most part but heavily glaciated.

Throwin’ The Houlihan is at the top of the list right now, what I call the bird beak dyno is the move that is shutting my down when I start from the ground, but when I stick that move, with luck, I’ll be taking it to the top. I’m pretty excited to go back in two weeks and put that down for the first of the grade for me.

My first time to the boulders of El Dakota was yesterday, and I was very impressed, but the hike is such that you need a whole day to really get a good session in. So I may have to wait to go back after I’ve got my fill of the Iris for the year.

Albany is a great after work spot, not too much hiking to the boulders and close enough that you get a good amount of work done in a couple hours. The only drawback right now is the hordes of mosquitoes that have nothing else to feed upon than you.

Pretty Girls With Long Knives maybe my after work project for the time being because the bugs weren’t bad over there and I think I should be able to do this one quickly for a trad climb. I went out on friday and TRed the line with Bart, Robert, and Julian and I only got shut down by the short section of flair that those three all cruised. This has to be one of the longest routes in Vedauwoo i’ve seen, and would be a good one for me to do for my first trad 5.12 in the Voo.

Most everything else on the list needs cooler temps or for some of the other things of higher priority to get finished off. With that being said though its a pretty fluid list. I only tried Pretty Girls on Friday, so who knows what I’ll get excited about next time I go climbing.

Posted in Bouldering, el dakota, Vedauwoo, Wild Iris, Wyoming | Leave a comment

A Year(ish) in Photos

Ha, well the last time I posted anything on here was… oh yeah, January. In the mean time I’ve moved around a bit and landed in Laramie, WY. Maggie and I plan to be here for a bit while she finishes up school. So instead of anything long winded or what have you, I wanted to put up a gallery of some of the adventures I’ve had from last March till now.

Looking at these photos make me realize how incredibly grateful I am to have the opportunity to explore and go on fantastic adventures with so many amazing friends. Thank you to everyone who is featured in the photos above and to the many others not found above that made this year amazing. I can only hope next year is more of the same!

Posted in Bouldering, Family, France, Joe's Valley, Lander, Moab, Red Rocks, Spokane, Tahoe, Touch the Sky, Travel, Utah, Vedauwoo, Wyoming | Leave a comment

Bishop

I hadn’t gone on a solo climbing trip before, but I had just graduated from college and had some free time. I’m not sure when I first wanted to go to Bishop but needless to say it’s been on the bucket list of climbing destinations for a while. So why not?

View from atop the Volcanic Tablelands

View from atop the Volcanic Tablelands

Bishop turned out to be the perfect place to travel to solo. For the week I was there the day I left was the most deserted I’d seen the campground, called the Pit, with at least a dozen groups of climbers staying through the weekend.

I was fortunate that I was able to meet up with Fletcher and Augy the first day of my trip so I could get oriented with people I already knew. I also climbed with Blaine, a guide in Hueco and his friends from Tahoe, a group of college kids from the Bay Area, and many small groups that I met out at the boulders randomly while bouncing between classics.

I have to apologize to the climber on Saigon in the photos (it’s not me). I climbed with him for almost three days, but I can’t remember his name anymore. I want to say it was Chris??? Sorry.

By far and away the best part about Bishop, in my opinion, was the sunrises. Everyday, without fail, I would awake to the mountains set afire by the alpine glow cast on the Eastern Sierra by the rising sun. Not a bad way to wake up if you ask me.

IMG_20140110_070933_939

I was only in Bishop for eight days, with two pads, which limited me a heck of a lot more than you would think. Even with the unbelievably warm temps, I felt a little held back by the lack of padding and most importantly someones hands covering my ass in case of a gnarly fall. Next time I’m bringing more pads, and a spotter.

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Beginning Anew

In the last year I’ve let this blog suffer. And now it needs a new name, I’m currently in the process of moving from Bozeman, MT to Salt Lake City, UT by way of Bishop, CA. The last few months have been rough to say the least. So to try and span a large amount of time in a short space here are some photos from the last few months.

Its really nice to look back and see all the happy moments in life.

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The Fins

I spent all but two weekends over the summer in Bozeman. Normally I try and get out of town as much as possible over the summer making trips to Ten Sleep or Lander mostly. So when my friend Ian Cavanaugh suggested I come check out the Fins outside of Arco, ID last month I jumped at it. Ethan Edwards, Pat Dyess, and I on  Friday evening and took a leisurely 5 hour drive to Eightmile Canyon at the base of the Lost River Mountians in Idaho (it’s a little less driving than going to Ten Sleep, WY from Bozeman).

Tabaco roots_signed_small

pat in reflections_smallWe had been warned that the road would require 4 wheel drive so we had taken Pat’s CRV. The road itself is not that bad in terms of big rocks and water runnels, but being more or less a graded seasonal stream bed it had it was loose and STEEP! We got to the lower “parking lot” (one truck or van could take up all the room) and then started going up the next obvious steep section. We didn’t get more than a third of the way up what we could see before the car stopped. We tried calling Ian but reception was poor, so we backed down to the “parking lot” and started pulling off just as Ian comes careening down the road in his F-150, nearly plowing right into us. We got Pat’s car out of the road and packed everything in his truck and hauled ass up the hill, waiting for something to bounce out of the back the whole time.

Fins pano small_signed

We were all so psyched to be there that we took a midnight exploration of the closest cliff bathed in moonlight. Needless to say we got up early, made a huge breakfast and walked down to the cliff well before it got into the shade. Everyone did a ton of pitches that day taking a tour of the classics at the Discovery Wall. Ethan and I had particularly good days. Ethan flashed a 5.12a and did another 2nd go for his best day on rock ever. He also did very well when we forced him to get on a 5.13a each day of the trip. Ian worked on a nasty 5.13b with thuggy undercling moves. Pat onsighted a 25m 5.12c and worked on a really good 5.13a called Son of Discovery. I flashed a 5.12c and a 5.13a, and got another softer 5.13a second go. Exhausted we returned to the campsite got a fire going and lived it up. The next day we all moved a bit slower and after the wind picked up essentially just took down our project quickdraws but not before Ian and Pat both sent Hapachulo 5.13a.

pat_happachulo_signed_small

Pat Trashing (TR-Flash) Happachulo 5.13a

Ian on bushido low_signed_small

Ian on the start of Bushido 5.13b

ian swimming in limestone_signed_small

Ian_bushido_1_signed_small

crazy crux move on Bushido

Ethan chicken wing_signed_small

Ethan on Martini 5.12a while Sam hangs draws for me on Make it a Double 5.13a

Ethan_glory hole_signed_small ethan martini_1_signed_small cold pat_signed_small

Even though it was a short trip it was exactly what I needed. I got out of Bozeman, got to hang out with a great group of guys, and explore a new area I haven’t been to. Finally comp season is coming back around so more weekend trips are in my future!

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Kevin “K-Bone” Volkening

ten sleep belay crop


papop mc 2012
Kevin, the Master of Ceremonies, for the annual bouldering competition the Prince and Princess of Plastic that he started in 2010.

papop 2012Kevin proudly wearing the unflattering v-necks he ordered for the 2012 Prince and Princess of Plastic competition.

ten sleep cowsI don’t think Kevin ever liked this series of photographs. He never admitted it until months later, but he once told me that he started shaving his head because he didn’t like looking at his bald spot in these photos.

bald spotThe Blonde Bald Spot making an appearance while climbing Dances With Cows 5.13a.

Whiskey gulch

popes

lolo and kbone

Kevin always had a sense of humor for any situation even after 50 hours of work setting for the Prince and Princess of Plastic 2011.

Posted in Bouldering, Competitions, MSU, Ten Sleep, Travel, Whiskey Gulch | 2 Comments

May 19th

In the two months since my last post a lot has happened. School kept me very busy till the end like usual and then I got a month off from work so I went on a climbing road trip with a bunch of people: Joey, Chris, Jared, and James, among others. I’m super grateful  that everything lined up the way it did and I got to do some awesome climbing by the end of the trip.

Today is May 19th; I’m sitting at the base of a tree, on a ledge, 400 feet off the deck looking out over a sea of trees with a small town below me. I blink and think to myself how exactly did I get here?

May 2nd; I got in a car with my friend Joey Wyckoff and drove 12 hours down to Moab, UT. We met up with my old roommate Chris Ebeling who was down on an extended trip climbing, biking, and living the desert life. After an “adventurous” trip to Mill Creek Canyon in the La Sal Mountains with Joey all of us headed south to Indian Creek for the weekend. Cracks were climbed… albeit slowly and painfully. Joey found out first hand why people use tape gloves before they get gobies.

Having stuffed our hands in splitters until they felt like pieces of tenderized meat we returned to town. Some new friends we had met the day before ran into us and asked what we were going to do while it rained. “Shit… rain?!” We debated over Maple, Joe’s, Ten Sleep, even Rifle was considered. Finally Joey and I decided to go to Lander, WY meanwhile Chris would stay and wait out the rain for his girlfriend to show up. It’s May 5th and we drive through the night to arrive in Lander at 8 am May 6th.

May 7th; We find out there is a contingent* from Bozeman camped up in Sinks Canyon. We climb in the Killer Cave first, Joey’s never climbed at the main wall before. Turns out the routes are still hard in Lander, but some small victories are had. We camped with Jarred, Cory, Fletcher, Alex, Mike, and Dylan that night. We sit around the campfire and drink beers and enjoyed the revelry out in the woods. A day later we were joined by Abbey, Kylee, and Scott. The weather cleared out, and projects fell only just before having to bid farewell to Lander and return to Bozeman.

May 11th; A few hours of hanging with roommates and saying goodbye to Norah’s puppies, I hopped on a plane for New Hampshire. Staying with my parents catching up and talking about plans for the future. I purposely run into my old climbing friends at Joe Kinder’s presentation at Vertical Dreams, followed by the now traditional Tuesday night at the Strange Brew for $2 drafts. I look around, two people are the last remnants of the group I grew up with. 3 or 4 I’ve met in the intervening years while visiting, the remaining 6 or 8 I’ve never met before. Lots of new faces and friends mixed with sadness of old friends who’ve moved on. I’ll be following them soon.

May 15th; James Otey finally has a day off from work at the new climbing gym, Evolution Rock and Fitness in Concord, so we’re heading up to Rumney for the day. James throws himself back on his project, Cold War, for the first time in months. With Otey’s ~40 flawless laps to guide me, I try to flash Suburban, but come up just short falling on the last move of the crux… only to send just as the afternoon storm front moves in. Undefeated, we hike over to Orange Crush and send Flying Monkeys before punting off flash attempts on Tin Monkeys. We make loose plans to get out later in the next two weeks…

May 18th; Instead of driving all the way to the Adirondacks to try Pat Dyess’s Mud Pond Project we meet up at Cannon Cliff to go on a real adventure the route Benedictus. Endless pitches of slab climbing kills the calves but simply beautiful pitches keep psyche high as we raise up out of the notch*. We get lost about halfway up just after our first “fall” on the route. Pat wanders around for a long time before finally finding the lost anchor station. Soon we get to a 3 knifeblade anchor that has to be older than both of us combined! From here either we take a 5.10R/X of the bolted 5.??? as the last pitch before rolling over to the top. Mental fortitude having been used up on the pitches below we opt for something we know better: vertical bolts. Wanting more to top out than to send at this point we both french free the crux, but not without pondering the moves for a moment.

Back at the car we ponder Round two: simul romp up Moby Grape? Nah… I don’t want to hike down that again. I return home stoked and ready to go again the next day and make plans to go to Conway the next afternoon.

May 19th; I roll up to the climbers parking lot below Whitehorse Ledge*. I pick up Jared  Heath who just finished a climb on Whitehorse, he hops in and we drive over to cathedral and make a plan on the way. Camber via anything that isn’t busy from the bottom. There is a group on Turner’s Flake, Freedom, and an AMGA single pitch instructor certification taking over the Standard Route, Toe Crack, and Repulsion. Thin Air it is. Jared runs up literally linking 3 pitches with one full traverse in one mega pitch, but it is 5.6 and we need to get out of people’s way. I run up, simuling the first 20 feet and then take most of the rack and rocket up linking two more pitches to the ledge at the bottom of Airation Buttress.

Jared joins me and we reassess. The buttresses namesake, Airation, is right above us. I rerack and start-up. I’m halfway up, thankful we went to the creek, because this feels sooooo much easier with constrictions stopping my fingers now instead of parallel sided cracks for the fingers to slide down uselessly. I clip the “anchor” two rap rings attached to a tree.

I lean against the tree and look at my options. Jared said the top was easier and this would be a crappy belay, I’ll go for [the top]. There are black dirty looking sloping ledges, no pro? and it’s dirty… or this? A clean crack split the head wall above Airation. That looks better, I’ll go that way, 5.10 at worst.

The crack is thinner than I thought and the footholds are slopy… Crap! Well I gotta get through this, then it’ll be done. I placed a small nut having used up all my small cams in the single run we had on Airation and move them up to the front where its easy to get to. I climb up to a horizontal and place another nut hastily and grab an incut gaston. Looking around I see a good flake above my left hand (on the gaston). All I need is a good foot… I can use the horizontal I just need to put my foot inside of my hand. 

I suck up into the gaston and lift my foot. Shit, I’m too tired, maybe on the other side of my hand will work. I fight and get my foot up. Shit that won’t work, this isn’t good enough. I decide down climbing is my best option so I can reassess if this is the best way to go. I move my feet down and my left hand but I find I can’t down climb the move to the horizontal. Panic hits the primal side of my brain as I listen to Jared converse with someone else on the ledge. I yell down “Jared watch me here, I’m down climbing.” “OK, I got you.” “Take, I’m going onto you.”

I hop/jump off, the normal let go of the rock… somethings wrong.

I’m facing out away from the cliff and can see the ground.

I feel my glasses with accompanying croakies pull off my head.

Tree branches whir by in a blur past me…

The Rope pulls taught and I swing hard back through the tree and impact the ledge with an audible thud. I immediately scramble up to the tree, clip in and sit down

Today is May 19th, I’m sitting at the base of a tree on a ledge 400 feet off the deck. All around me is green trees and a town. There’s a guy I don’t know on the ledge talking to me. I blink and think to myself how did I get here? The guy is just there it seems like he was always there and always will be.

Slowly it comes back to me, little by little. The town is Conway, NH, I’m on Cathedral. You’re sitting under a tree… there is a nut on a quickdraw in your lap… you were just climbing, THE FALL; it all flashes through my head again, and not for the last time.

Jared ran down to get the car, I told him where the keys were hidden in the bumper before the shock hit me and knocked out my awareness momentarily. The guy I’ve never met before hooks me up to a jumar when I’ve come back around. Triple backed up, I walk a fixed line under my own power off the ledge followed by his partner and one other. Jared speeds up the road picks me up and makes plans for the guy to grab our gear still on the climb. We drive straight for the Hospital, I’m still wearing my climbing shoe’s when I check in.

Jared cracks a couple of jokes to keep the air lite as we wait. I have some pretty bad road rash from my shoulder to the small of my back. Both heals are bruised. Part of my fingernail is hanging on by a thread of skin, with a pebble jammed in its place, and my pinky is wrecked. But beyond it all my elbow hurts. It hurts a lot. When the doctor palates my elbow I almost hop out of the gurney and into the next bay from the searing pain.

The good news: no broken bones, but I’ll need a couple of stitches. I haven’t had anything to eat in about 8 hours and despite the litter of IV fluid in me, I’m very dehydrated. Jared’s worried, I’d be too in his position. We talk so he can keep me awake ’till we get to my parent’s place around midnight, just in case. Jeff picks up Jared so they can drive back up to Lincoln to retrieve Jared’s car. I’m indebted to them both.

Finally I can fall sleep, if only my body would let me.

*I guess Bozeman is becoming famous for traveling in packs now…

* Westerners should think of a “Notch” as the east coast version of a “Pass”

*historically many cliffs in New England are called “Ledges” for some reason

Post script:

I stopped all climbing for the next three weeks, on week 4, post injury, I was forced to climb for my job guiding. I went to physical therapy and 3 weeks later (as of this post) my elbow is 95% back to the way it was. I’ve started climbing again, though I’m taking it “easy” by comparison to the last three months and doing a lot of injury prevention training to get healthy for the fall.

Posted in Injury, Lander, Moab, Travel, Utah | 1 Comment