Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hiking for naught

Went for a biiiiig long hike today to look for new boulder problems. The place we went was a bit of a drive and a bit of a hike to get to the rock. Then once we got to the rock it was simply amazing.

Amazing in that a mile of talus there wasn't one single worthy boulder problem. There wasn't even really almost boulder problems. We did find one pretty wall but that's it.

At least now we know.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Carriage Road is STILL blowing up...NBT/Boxcar/New Proji

So... it has been a productive month or so for new Carriage Road bouldering.

A couple of weeks ago Margaret and I found an unclimbed line that turned out to be as classic as they come. I worked a little bit on it with Andrew and he snagged the first ascent. I followed suite a few days later with quick repeats by BC and Matt as well. The problem itself is steep and perfectly tall. It starts sitting on a jug. You paste a foot and then heel hook. Move up to a side-pull and cruise through some awesome grippers and after that comes the meat -- a long move to an ok hold followed by high feet high off the ground. Bump to a small intermediate nothing-crimp and pop to an ok hold. Breathe in, and top out. Yum. Here is the vid:

I had also spent a day working on the moves to the Boxcar Arete, (which was the same day Bismark Direct went down) which is a classic Carriage Road v8. I didn't expect much in the way of actually doing it, but the first day I worked on it I made pretty good progress. So, with that in mind, I set out to climb the thing. Yesterday Margaret and I got out for an afternoon session and I fell off the top twice! I went back today and brushed-it-and-crushed-it. Yum.

And finally, in the excitement of new Carriage Road boulder problems, Andy and I went out to look for more. We found one. It's pretty sweet. I went out there today after climbing the Boxcar to put some chalk on it and try some of the moves. First move is a campus. That's all I know...Here's what it looks like:

I think I'm going to try and head back out tomorrow to try it again. It's pretty YUMMY.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

New boulder problems

Found some new boulder problems this week. We put up 7 problems in two sessions and more to come. Photos are of Tesseract (v5) and The Vine Intervention (v5). Woot woot!

UPDATE: The Gunks are great because...Sometimes you think you are doing a new boulder problem. And that's a fun feeling. But then you find out that your new boulder problem was "climbed years ago." The Vine Intervention is one such boulder problem.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Spain -- The Round-up

I went on a climbing trip to Spain with St. Lawrence University. This is what happened.

Grade conversions are about like this: 4/5.7; 5+/5.10a; 6b+/5.11a; 7a+/5.12a

January 1, flight to Spain. Arrive at the Orange House late on January 2. First day of climbing was January 3.

Day One - Sella
  • El torronet - 5+
  • Puntea que no tienes - 6a+
  • Hola Patricio - 6b
  • Ratito de gloria - 6a+, 7a
  • The Wasp Factory - 6a, 6c+
Day Two - Peñón de lFach
  • Costa Blanca (680 ft) - 4th class, 6b, 6b, 6a, 6b+, 6b+, 6c+
Day Three - Castelletes
  • Tjue Sekx - 6a+
Day Four - Grovery shopping/students arrive

Day Five - Echo 1.5
  • Zac-e-than - 5
  • Made in Exmouth 6a+
  • X.M.A.S. - 6a
  • Central - 6b
  • Marian Jones - 6a
Day Six - Gaudelest
  • Neu ne Marc - 5
  • Men isc Mescat - 5
  • Carabassa t'han donat - 5+
  • Sang trait - 6a
  • Contes i Llegendes 6b
  • l'Orgue - 6a+
  • Hores bruixes - 6b
Day Seven - Sierra de Toix
  • Heti - 4+
  • 4 You - 6a
  • Johana - 5
  • Hova - 4, 4+
  • Short and Sweet - 5+
  • Painted Wall - 6b+
Day Eight - Sella
  • Cul de sac - 5
  • Prusik - 5+
  • Cartuhal - 5+
  • Speedy González - 5+
  • El Pixoncet - 6b
  • La vergüenza - 3
  • El torronet - 5+
  • Kashba - 6c+
Day Nine - Peñón de lFach
  • Vía Valencianos/Direct de UBSA (735 ft.) - 4, 5, 5+, 5, 4, 4+, 4th class
Day Ten - Pego
  • Rafelet - 5
  • Plat combinat - 5+
  • Quimera - 6c
  • Muca Muca - 7a (2nd go)
Day Eleven - Alcalalí
  • Stohlwitter - 6a
  • Windle Poons - 6c+
  • Elendigliches - 6a+
  • Heaven Can't Wait - 7b
  • Busaba - 7a
Day Twelve - Gandia
  • Pequeño saltamontes - 5
  • Coral bajilla - 5+
  • Quien Malonda - 7a+
Day Thirteen - Sella
  • Blanco Nato - 6b
  • Two Nights of Love - 5+
  • Acróbata porcino - 7a
Day Fourteen - Rain day

Flew home on January 17 after a total of 64 pitches of climbing.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Rain

It's raining again. I mean seriously what the hell? This has been the wettest ^$%#^%$@#$23!! year and it is really beginning to get tiresome. On average it rains like between 45 and 50 inches every year. This year it has rained at least 70 inches, maybe closer to 80. Absurd. Atrocious. Abhorrent. Contemptible. Offensively repugnant. Rant Rant rant rant rant rant rant rant. Angerzaurus Rex.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Hard climbing

So I've been working a lot recently. Like, a lot a lot. And while that is no excuse for not posting, I'm gonna role with that excuse anyway. That said, I have been climbing a little bit.

Last Wednesday I got out with a guy I recently met who lives in Patagonia. He does first ascents in the Torres del Paine region of Patagonia and is super hard core. He's also fun to climb with. He was up here in the Gunks to give a slide show and do some stuff at home and had a few free days to go rock climbing. And rock climbing we did.

We started out the day with a warmup on Boldville (5.8) and The Winter (5.10d), which are always super fun and super classic. I think The Winter could be one of the best corner climbs in the Gunks (although perhaps Simple Stuff could rival it). The other cool part about doing those climbs on that particular day was that Rich Romano was around doing some routes. It's always fun to watch someone climbing with a harness that is a swami belt made out of 1 inch tubular webbing. It's also fun to see a local legend as well.

After the warmup, I got on Uphill All the Way/The Man Who Fell to Earth (5.12a). I'd never been on it before, but I've been really wanting to give it a try. Since it was right there, I gave it a go. The line follows an arching crack/corner/roof feature. the crack itself is never very big, and consequently the holds aren't that good and the gear is small. After working up the initial 30 feet or so, you move right and do some hard stand up moves. After that pull the roof on some crimps and it's all over. Very much fun. On the onsight attempt I got to the hard standup move and wasn't feeling that psyched on the gear. So I took a hang, found another piece of gear and repositioned a piece, and then climbed to the top after that. Second attempt (with the gear still in), I crushed. Here is the vid:

After that, Andrew gave the Sting (5.11d) a try. I gave him the gear beta, and he got all the way to the last move on his first try. I cleaned it up, and we moved on to the Yellow Wall (5.11c). I'd only been on it once before, and I'd never led the first roof pitch, so I was psyched to get back on it. Boy is it fun. I sussed out the crux once, and came back to a rest, and then fired it after that. Romano was watching from a distance, turns out, and he came over and said "Huh. Left heel hook aye? I've always used a right." To each their own I suppose.

After that we cooled down on Ant's Line (5.9), feeling really quite worked. But all in all it was one of the harder days of climbing I've done in a while. 5.8, 5.10d, 5.12a, 5.11d, 5.11c, 5.9. All after seven days in a row of work!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Rainy day activity

Its been raining here a lot. A lot. A lot. Route 32 is close again, as well as Springtown Rd. I'm more or less trapped here in Rosendale unless I take a most circuitous route (which I will most certainly have to do today to get to work, bah!). So I've been fooling around with iMovie all morning trying to edit my first video. Exciting! First though, some back story is in order.

Kasia is down here for the month, straight chilling. Her obligations include art making, house sitting, dog walking, and rock climbing. After a long first half of the year working, she's now relaxing for a month or so and doing some fun stuff.

Chris has been making it down here this summer with some frequency, which is awesome of course. In fact, I heard that he has been doing more outside climbing in the Gunks than at the Glen, his home crag! (Yeah, Gunks!) We've been hitting up all the cool spots for bouldering, like Lost City, Northeast (when is was still open...thanks a lot moss pullling, tree chopping, roof chippers), and Triple Right.

So anyway, his last visit was during the post-Irene-pre-Lee window of blue bird magnificence. With conditions looking awesome, we bouldered first the first day. The result of which was this video, and these photos:

Before we did Captain Bring Down, I worked on Sex Bomb Roof (v8), giving it a couple of really good attempts. I think I'm close on it, just a few days in a row of effort and I think it could go. Here I am entering the crux section:

Here is a photo of O-dogg (v2/7). This is the hardest easy problem of all time. It looks like a pile of choss when you pass by it, but the climbing on it is awesome:

Kasia did Captain Bring Down from the stand start (v5) and showed us there is a different beta for the top:

That pretty much concluded our day of bouldering. Chris and I tried Didactic Tactics (v8) and Lactic Tactics (v7/8) after that, but our tips were pretty fried and the bugs were starting to get gruesome so we called it a day.

The next morning we went to the Trapps to do some climbing. We did Airy Aria (5.8), and then top roped Scary Area (5.11) after that. Then we did The Sting (5.11d), which is still one of my favorites. Chris ended up flashing it on top rope! Way to go Chris! Here is a picture of me, half way up:
And to finish the day, we decided to do Directissima (5.9) into High Exposure (5.6). Chris had never done either before, so I figured, why not, it'll be fun. High E is the most classic Gunks climb, after all. After we got to the top, I found out that it was Chris' first ever multi-pitch. Yay!

Chris toping out High E. Yeah, he's psyched.
...So psyched, that he had to tag my wrist.
Kas and Chris looking tough. 'Cause they are.

And now let's think dry weather. We don't need no more rain no more (triple negative, it's cool.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Becoming Certified

For more than two years now I have been slowly moving toward becoming a climbing guide. "Do what you love to do," has been what I've heard for a long time and now I'm putting that into action. And that action is building momentum.

Two years ago I signed up for an AMGA SPI course through Alpine Endeavors. (On a side note, people love acronyms, but for the most part I think they are rather annoying.) Who the heck knows what AMGA or SPI is? The American Mountain Guides Association is the industry standard for education and certification in the climbing world for guides in the US. They have been making efforts to create professionalism in the guided climbing world, which in turn legitimizes the industry. If someone is AMGA certified, a client can know that this guide has taken courses, learned skills, and passed rigorous exams.

The AMGA has different levels of guides. It starts with Single Pitch Instructor (SPI) which is a three day course and two day exam. It then moves to Rock Instructor followed by Rock Guide, each of which are 10 day courses and six day exams. And these courses ain't cheap either. The SPI course and exam would run you $800 and then the Rock Instructor and Rock Guide course and exam are each $3,600, for a grand total of $8,000.

Anyway, back in 2009 I signed up for the SPI course, but then didn't really pursue anything more with it. I think this was partially due to the fact that we were moving to the Adirondacks soon, and the focus was going to be Silver Lake. But, now, back in the Gunks, guiding can be at least somewhat lucrative, and it is something that I love. Earlier this summer I signed up for a refresher course with Alpine Endeavors, and then right after that I took and passed the SPI exam. I am officially an American Mountain Guides Association certified Single Pitch Instructor.

Well, actually, I wasn't completely certified when I passed. This is due to the fact that AMGA requires all its guides to have CPR and basic first aide certifications as well. This past week I have been taking care of that. I went back to New Hampshire, but this time not to play. This time I was going to become a certified Wilderness First Responder (WFR).

One of, if not THE pioneer in wilderness medicine is SOLO, or Stonehearth Open Learning Opportunities. SOLO has been teaching wilderness medicine since the 1970s, and their international headquarters happens to be in Conway, not too far from Cathedral and Whitehorse. So I zipped up their last week and took the 80 hour WFR course.

It's a pretty cool course. You learn basics like CPR, the heimlich maneuver, and how to use an AED device (and become certified to do all three). You also learn how to build splints, stop bleeds, treat shock, build litters and shelters and a lot of other really cool stuff. And doing it at the SOLO headquarters was awesome because the practice scenarios were sweet. Many times our instructor, Josh, would come in and say, "Oh, no, something really bad happened." We would gather all our gear, walk out of our classroom and up a trail, only to find one of classmates with a bone sticking out of their leg, or blood being spit out of their mouth. From wax to fake blood to makeup, the scenarios were super effective at teaching you how to rescue someone in the back country.

Only one more thing to do, and I am a legitimate guide. New York State needs a slice of the action, of course, so I have to take a "test" and pay them $150. After that, I'm good to go. The process started over two years ago, but this summer I have made concerted effort to make this thing a reality. Who wants to pay me to take them climbing? Anyone?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

New Hampshire: Whitehorse, Cathedral, Cannon, Rumney

Road trips. Ahhh, there ain't nothin' like 'em. Waking up early and making french press coffee. Going to sleep early with achey hands and feet. Camp food, food bars and water (and beer). Climbing. That's about all there is too it. This past week Matt and I road tripped out New Hampshire way and hit up some awesome climbing. Nyssa and Rich where there for a day of climbing too and we even got to celebrate birthdays.

Matt got done working on Monday at 4:30. We jumped in the truck and headed Northeast. By midnight we found ourselves at Rich's aunt's house, just over the Maine border, 20 minutes from North Conway. There was disgusting rain for most of the drive up, so we were not really expecting to climb on Tuesday, but we went out, with minimal gear, to check out Whitehorse. (The minimal gear thing ended up being a bummer later, as the whole cliff was bone dry.)

Whitehorse is a cool cliff. On the far right side, there is a nice Chapel-pond-esque slab. And then as you work left it gets steeper and steeper. The rock itself reminds me a bit of Poke-O-Moonshine with slabs, dikes and some faces and roofs. We ended up getting on Future Shock (5.11a), Ethereal Crack (5.10c), Seventh Seal (5.10a), and then we simul-climbed the slabs at the end of the day.

Me hanging the draws on Future Shock. What a wild route! (Rich got a fish-eye lens for his birthday -- cool huh?!)

Coming down the slabs.

The gang from Cathedral, looking over to the Whitehorse slabs.

Rich and Nyssa had to work the next day, but Matt and I didn't have to work. So, instead, we decided to get on the Prow (5.11d) at Cathedral. This is by far, the hardest undertaking Matt and I have ever attempted. It's a six-pitch climb that breaks down like this: 5.10a, 5.11d, 5.10a, 5.11d, 5.11d, 5.10a. It is a superbly awesome climb from bottom to top. It's also really hard. I got one of the 5.11d pitches cleanly on lead. But the other two didn't quite go as well. That said, our effort was better than expected and we got up the thing in the end with out too much "nylon jug pulling."

Me on pitch one. Slab slab slab. The route goes up through the triangle roof up high. Off to the left you can see the last pitch of the uber-classic Recompense (5.9).

Matt hanging out on pitch three.

A demonstration on how cams work, half way up the prow.

Matt coming up the beautiful 5.11 finger crack after the crux of pitch four.

The top of pitch four.

Matt coming up the last pitch.

The last moves of the last pitch.

The top.

When we got down to the truck again, we noticed there was another party climbing The Prow. We wondered to ourselves, "How often does this thing get climbed twice in a day?" Here they are on the third pitch. Up and to the left of The Prow party you can see a climber on Recompense.

Our next objective was at Cannon Cliff. A little thing called VMC Direct Direct IV (5.10+). Of course, we had been on it once before but had weather issues and was only able to scope it out. And as fate would have it, we ran into the first ascensionist, Steve Arsenault in the parking lot after climbing The Prow. He said he tries to climb VMC Direct Direct at least once a year. We chated with him a bit more and headed off to Cannon. This time around we were psyched to crush. We rolled in at night, set up "truck camp" and called it a night. The stars were out and the cliff looked great.

We got to the start of the climb after some heinous talus scrambling, and started up. Things were going fine to start, we climbed to the top of the second pitch with no problems. But that third pitch is a doozy. After some hard underclinging in a tips crack and smearing on a blank granite face on the second pitch, the third pitch comes at you on all fronts. It's technical and pumpy and it's sustained, both mentally and physically. As fate would have it, Matt and I both fell. But at least we got to try climbing it this time! We climbed one more great pitch, and then rapped, having gotten to our previous high point again -- the top of the fourth pitch.

The day was not lost though. We got to the ground, packed up our stuff and moved to the right a little bit to Moby Grape III (5.8). This climb is close to 1,000 feet long, and it climbs some pretty fantastic features, starting with a splitter, Yosemite style hand crack and ending with a huge fin shaped boulder called the Finger of Fate. We scurried up as fast as we could, knowing that we already spent half the day on VMC. Just around dark we arrived back at the car. Amazing climbing, nasty decent. All in all an excellent alpine climbing day -- 11 pitches and 1500 feet. After pounding some food we called it a night.

Cannon Cliff at sunrise.

Matt at a rest on pitch three of VMC Direct Direct.

Top of the fourth pitch on VMC Direct Direct with the historic Whitney-Gilman ridge in the background.

Me approaching the Finger of Fate on Moby Grape.

The top, with the White Mountains in all their glory.

We anticipated one more half day of climbing at Cannon, but the weather was not on our side. We had stashed a second rope at the base of Vertigo (5.9 R) the day prior, and just as Matt was getting to the belay at the end of pitch two, it started to rain a bit. So we bailed. We did end up at Rumney to do a couple of short sport climbs before heading all the way home. We did a fun steep corner at the Bonsai Wall called Peer Pressure (5.10d) and we also checked out Waimea (5.10d) at the Waimea Wall. Both classics. Both awesome.

I think the final tally was somewhere near 30 pitches and 2,500 feet of climbing. Not bad for a little four day road trip. This should be a good jump start for 20, 5.10 pitches in a day?!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Silver Lake made it into issue #7 of Climberism's online magazine, which you can (and should!) check out here. You do have to "sign up" for it, but it's free and easy to deal with. Plus you get to check out climbing news about the northeast! Do it, you won't.