Hunting for Horses

This past weekend I took the boys out into the hills to look for wild horses. We went into Debeque Canyon where there is a ton of BLM land and the resident wild horse population. They have thousands of acres to live on, so it is no guarantee that you will see any when you go. It was around 9 am when we got out of the car and began wandering the hillsides and looking for the horses. By 930 we were eating snacks, throwing rocks and exploring cracks in the ground, the plants changing colors and anything else that was interesting.

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We eventually headed further up the bumpy dirt road in my low clearance car and did a few more side hikes to things that excited the boys. We climbed a mountain side to get into an old coal seam tunnel and also explored an old drilling platform. When I decided that we shouldn’t go any further because I was concerned about my car making it home in one piece was when we finally found the horses. With the little energy that the boys had, I helped them up the steep hill to the plateau where the horses were grazing and we watched them do their thing. It is not that exciting to watch wild horses eat, but it is to watch my sons learn about them and to be persistent even though they were tired.

Nuts and Bolts

I find that being successful at anything involves knowing and understanding the nuts and bolts that go into completing a task. For example, my latest route required a lot in order for me and my partner to be productive in a 2 day time frame. We needed the following:

  • having the fixed lines in the proper places on the wall,
  • having all the bolts and hangers preconnected at home,
  • having a clear plan for our individual wall duties,
  • having a clear goal for each day,
  • enough food, rest, water and rest.

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Next weekend when I get back on the new route, I will have to do the following things:

  • bring 2 brooms/soft brushes for sweeping out the hueco’s,
  • hammer some more loose rock on pitch 3,
  • hand drill 2 more bolts,
  • bring an additional static line,
  • move ropes to a new line after completing the first one.

Moral of the story, make a plan and stick with it!

Death

I try not to address too much of the pop culture within climbing in this blog, it’s not my focus. I try to just share what I have been up to for those who care to peek into my (what I consider normal and boring) life. I teach high school, play with my kids, go camping and climb and train. The past few years have been probably no more deadly than any other (when it comes to climbers passing) but the difference has been that I have known or been friends with many of them. The latest death of Hayden Kennedy and his girl friend Inge adds to the growing and never ending list. I am saddened to hear about Inge being buried in an avalanche and even sadder to hear that Hayden took his own life.

I reflect on their deaths as my children get older and I consider what I like to do in the mountains and on the side of them. Am I putting myself at more risk than the next person? Are my actions or is my passion too selfish? I don’t have the answers to these questions and all the associated ones that come along with them. I hesitate as I head out this coming weekend to go and try to complete another new rock climb hours from home. I second guess leaving my fixed lines on the wall and having to ascend them without knowing their condition. These are things that I have done without pause hundreds of times but now I am reconsidering and second guessing.

I think now more than ever that I will second guess the value of pushing the edge, I will take more time to reassess conditions, weather and rock quality and finally strive to do what keeps me in one piece with my family. Not sure if this rambling means much but it is where I am currently at within my head space.

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Fishing with my boys on the Grand Mesa

You never know when you are going to catch one! The boys and I had a great time walking around a lake on top of the Grand Mesa a few weekends ago. I know that our casting is getting better which each day fishing, but all that I seem to remember is getting fishing lines unstuck from rocks, trees, the bottom and grasses. And oh yeah, the smiles on my sons faces. DSC00584DSC00588DSC00583

New Routing in the Fall

Darren and I went of for an adventure and adventure we had. Zion is a great place to get stuck, bump into an obstacle, feel overwhelmed, feel exposed, bonk, be not sure which way to go, emergency bivy, climb, rappel, talk about everything and get exhausted. This past weekend all of that and more happened to Darren and I. In the end we established a mountaineers route that Darren called: Rob’s Secret Garden 5.ADVENTURE! On the way back down we fixed some lines on the real objective and identified the actual new line that would be established. Sometimes you have to establish a new route in order to establish a new route. Enjoy just a glimpse into our weekend in Zion.

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Back Upside Down

Even though I have been buried by work and coaching baseball this fall, I did sneak out for a Saturday climbing session with my buddy Matt and the Wideboyz (Tom and Pete) from the UK. It had been a while since I had climbed roof cracks and when they showed me their new stash of cutting edge lines I was impressed. They had really stepped up what they knew was possible by finding longer and more intimidating lines across the ceiling. I took my licks on one of their “easier” 5.13 routes and was quickly reminded how nice it is to have the gear preplaced. I burned a lot of energy placing in the new terrain for me. It was challenging because most of the time the gear only fits in one place and due to the fact that you will deck if a piece blows you don’t just run it out unless the floor drops away. So I went a placement or two and then rested and progressed out nearly 100 feet until I decided to head back and back clean to where I started. Sometimes the easiest way to clean one of these routes is to second it and other times it is easier to back clean. Either way I was happy when I got all the gear out of the roof. After that Matt and I headed out to climb Washer Woman during the sunset. It was awesome running up to the base of the tower and climbing swiftly up the varied and straight forward terrain.

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Closure: The Infinity Round 5.13+

Since bolting this climb in 2015 I have been struggling to open it up properly with a first free ascent. I was drawn to the climb because it splits a clean, slightly overhanging white and yellow wall with a vertical to right trending seam. Upon rappelling and inspecting it the first time I knew that the moves were there for a free ascent, but I was unable to do some of them. Even so, I hammered the shallow dihedral free of loose and exfoliating layers of rock and placed the bolts.

With each top rope and eventual lead, I knocked more material off the wall defining what what there for climbing and smearing on and what was not. With each attempt on the route I chalked what was possible to hold onto and brushed the other dead end ticks from the wall. With each attempt I would write down the sequences, body positions and specific fitness that I needed to develop. Then during the off seasons (winter and summer) I would train for the climb. Hanging on open handed slopers, doing lock offs on tiny crimps, developing one arm power and honing my core strength. I named the training regime the Infinity Round in order to build my power endurance and with time that became the name of the route.

I spent time trying the route with different pairs of climbing shoes and at different times during the day in order to determine what conditions and equipment gave me even a small edge on the challenge that was before me. Each time I got close to sending an obstacle presented itself. I was weathered off by the snow one season and only had 2 tries on the route. Another season, I scheduled myself with way too much and I lost the weekends that I needed to send to working out of town. That time I only got on the route 3 times. Another season I got on it once and then was injured with a staph infection and missed 2 months.

Finally, this late summer, I got a precious 4 attempts only after I was trained and ready at dawn and only after being very well rested. The journey went from all out battle cries and feeling out of breath through most of the route to a nearly silent send with poise and deliberate, focused and precise movements and shakes. The fear of falling went away, the fear of failing went away and the joy of climbing energized me.

The route is not the hardest that I have climbed in my life, but at this point is the most significant. Here is why.

  • I am a full time high school teacher.
  • I run the school outdoor program and take at risk high school studnets on outdoor adventures. every other week.
  • I am the head trainer and the Grand Valley Climbing Gym and train many local climbers and athletes a couple times a week.
  • I train climbers remotely and write specific plans for their needs based on their goals, strengths, weaknesses and equipment available.
  • I am married with 2 young boys who are very active.  I coach their soccer and baseball teams each season while they practice gymnastics year round.
  • My wife is a competitive runner and scholar who needs her time for her athletic and academic goals.
  • And lastly, I have my climbing sponsors whom I love to represent well not only through my climbing but through teaching and speaking at climbing events throughout the country.

I am proud of the Infinity Round because it reminded me that I can still manage to get it done even with a pile of excuses available around me. If I can do it, you can too! http://www.Abovealpinephotography.com image.

Infinity Round Sample

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Break Through Day

I feel lame sharing with you my week to week progress with my couple season project that I bolted a few years back. What initially seemed over my head now is within grasp. Even though the temperatures a still lingering in the 90’s here in town (which means that at best they are in the upper 70’s in Unaweep)  I have been making steady progress on getting ready to red point the climb that I call the Infinity Round.

After 5 weeks of training (which now compromises of 2 three a days a week) I am feeling the flow, the fitness, the power and the moves. Today was my breakthrough day. I was on the route after flailing during my warm ups and feeling like it was too hot throughout the morning. I rapped down the 200 ft wall and felt a cool breeze that didn’t exist at the top of the wall. I decided to try the route with a different pair of shoes (the SCARPA Instinct instead of the SCARPA VAPOR V) after slipping a time or two because of the shoe change I felt the rubber stick as it was supposed to and my body finally begin to fall into the proper positions every time through the hardest moves. I eventually went through the crux to the anchors will little effort and was happy with the progress. The climbing up to the crux is not too difficult and should not be an issue when I attempt the climb next week. I am psyched.

I wish to have completed the climb earlier in order for me to move on to other routes that I have established but getting only one chance a week and only one attempt on that day has made me relearn patience. Throwing yourself at a route every day or every other day is a luxury that the folks living in their car have that I (and most every other climber on the planet doesn’t) don’t. One burn, be patient and make the changes during the week so that the next burn shows progress.

Siege mode as some call it, (when you throw yourself at the route and climb it into submission in my opinion is pretty lame) Give yourself enough tries and of course you will climb it without falling. Sheer numbers will always win out. I enjoy fewer tries to 50 tries. There are just too many other climbs to go and climb on!

So, moral of the story as I ramble on a bit here: go out and have fun climbing and make it efficient and be patient as you are on your journey. Be sure to give lots of your time to helping others instead of hanging on a wall, sitting in a cave or chilling under a boulder.

Below: Ronnie Rose photo at City of Rocks, Idaho

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