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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Let it Snow......

Snow, snow, snow... get warm, and snow some more.  That is what December is like in the Front Range.  It has been snowing in the mountains, (and sometimes in the valley) followed by a day or two of warm weather.  With all of this snow, I thought it was time to find a winter sport.  From our house in Woodland park, we are surrounded by numerous ski resorts that are 2-2.5 hours away.  I have been fortunate enough to have some friends help me put together some snowboarding gear, and last Friday I tried out snowboarding for the first time.  After the first day I was pretty sore, but definitely had fun.  I think I have found a new winter sport.  Oh yeah, and on the warm days we definitely went climbing.

     Sunrise from Wilkerson Pass heading towards Vail

                 Trevor rapping down amidst a Shelf Road Sunset

Another beautiful sunset at Shelf Road

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Shauna's Basecamp

Over Thanksgiving break I helped Shauna move into her new house in YoWest.  YoWest is a little community located about 15 - 20 mins south of Yosemite Valley.  Some of you may have heard of her landlord, famed speed climber Hans Florine.  The 3-story house is situated in a beautiful location, close to: skiing (Badger Mtn.), climbing (the Rostrum is 8 miles away!), super-secret bouldering, and lets not forget the valley.  It was great to spend Thanksgiving with Shauna in her new house.  I will have to say, it was pretty funny waking up Thanksgiving morning to get a phone call from Hans wishing us "Happy Thanksgiving" (He was actually calling for Shauna, but in her absence I took this one).

We caught this beautiful sunset on a drive up to the house

Monday, November 24, 2008

Santa Cruzin'

For the last 10 days I've been staying in Santa Cruz with my new friend Shauna.  I met Shauna during my stay in Yosemite, and I knew right away there was something special about her.    She has been showing me everything the city of Santa Cruz has to offer: mountain biking, trail running, the best places to eat and drink coffee (plus the occasional desert), and beautiful sunsets by the coast.  I better not forgot the Seymour Center at Long Marine Laboratory (where Shauna works) and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  I was fortunate enough to get the lights turned on for "Old Blue,"  the world's largest whale skeleton!  Upon arrival, the weather was unseasonable warm, which even tempted me to take a dip in the ocean.  Fall has returned (mid 60's), but the weather is still enjoyable.  Perfect temps for cardiovascular sports.  I'm heading back to Yosemite this week and I can't wait!  Hope you enjoy the photos.

"Old Blue"

                                   One of many beautiful sunsets........

                  Monterey Bay Aquarium - Outer Bay Exhibit

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Go Bucks

For all of you Michigan fans........

Thursday, November 13, 2008


In the quest for the ultimate road tripping vehicle, I stumbled across a company that specializes in carbon-fiber composites, a company named Ursa Minor.  The company is owned by like-minded people with a passion for travel and adventure.  Here is a little history of how the company started.  

"Once upon a time there was an ideal vehicle for the wanderer, and it wasn’t a tent or a massive RV. The classic VW Westfalia provided a compact design, perfect for the drive to work or a weekend at the lake. Pull in, pop the top and there was a home away from home, a base camp for swimming, surfing, hiking or biking.  For over 50 years, Volkswagen delivered, but like many products, the VW Westfalia gradually crept up in price and down in availability.  And then it was gone.  Our experience in camping started with a 1965 VW Micro, which after 43 states, 3 countries and 240,000 miles went off to a well deserved R&R (repair & restoration) in Tokyo, Japan of all places.  Afterwards, we voyaged on our small cruising sailboat, paddled kayaks in Baja, and generally looked for a decent replacement Westfalia Synchro.  When that proved unsuccessful, we started doodling on post-it notes until we finally found time to build our own solution!  Of course, like most projects, the first Honda Element camper took longer than needed, cost a little more than expected, but the end result was fantastic and was put to use immediately camping all over southern California and Baja.  From gas stations and grocery stores to remote beaches, more than a few people liked the idea.  It turns out it's hard to camp when people are constantly asking "where the heck did you get that pop up?"

After my new discovery I was on the quest for an Element, and as of last week I'm the new owner of a 2004 Honda Element.  

My new ride

I hope to add the ECamper conversion this coming spring

I thought I would throw in a picture of my other Honda, 2006 919

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Yosemite Montage

I've put together a montage of my recent stay in Yosemite.  It is mostly footage from rope antics we got into (Tyrolean across Lost Arrow Spire, and Rope Swing from the Southeast alcove of El Capitan).  Featured in order of appearance are: Joe Stern, Sean Taff-Morales, Nick McKean, Roxy Kornelsen, and myself.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Campo Quattro y Mas

Yosemite Valley........ a place where breath taking views lurk around every corner.  There is so much to do and see; literally a lifetime of adventures await.  During my 3 week stay in the valley, I was amazed by the intense energy that radiated from the heart beat of climbing, Camp 4.  Camp 4 is like the melting pot of NY.  People travel from all over the world to climb, slack-line, hike, and sight-see.  For me, meeting new people was the highlight of my trip.  People like Mash from Costa Rica, Maria and "Nacho" from Argentina, Nick and Gareth from Australia, Shauna Potocky from Santa Cruz (basically a local), and Sabastian from Switzerland.  The day-to-day life was great.  Every morning was spent making a fantastic breakfast and drinking at least two cups of coffee before doing anything.  My partners in crime on this trip were one of my best friends, Joe Stern, and his friend Sean (who soon became a good friend).  It became apparent to me that this trip wasn't just about climbing, but about renewing my spirit and soul with the positive energy that the atmosphere of Camp 4 provided.  So come next fall, (October) you can be sure to find me in Yosemite again!

Let the games begin!

Getting ready to hike up to Lost Arrow Spire

Tyrolean across Lost Arrow Spire

The "Good Book" Highlighted in red. 5 pitches, 600 ft., 5.10d

Pointing down to Camp 4 atop the 2nd pitch of Good Book

This is how you spend a rest day.  Polky's Pool hotspring outside Mammoth

Joe on-sighting "Leanie Meanie" 5.11b 

Sean entering the crux of "Gripper" 5.10b

Sending fuel and a work of art - Apple Cinnamon Pancake

Hot Sauki

Perching bobcat at Church Bowl Crag

Half Dome amidst a low-light sunset and rising moon (almost full)

Friday, October 3, 2008


It's Rocktober, my favorite month of the year!  Every year I wait for this magical month.  The temperatures start to cool, the leaves begin to change, and outdoor activities are ideal.  Last weekend (26-28th) Trevor and I spent another weekend in Black Canyon.  We climbed two routes new to me: Checkerboard Wall (5.10+) and Maiden Voyage (5.9).  Checkerboard Wall had a super-spicy 3rd pitch (which most climb as the 4th) and allowed me to hone in on my mental, rather than physical abilities.  Maiden Voyage may be one of the best 5.9's I've done anywhere, and a must-do for the Black Canyon aficionado.   On Sunday (Oct. 5th) I head out to Yosemite for 2 weeks, and will be meeting up with by good buddy Joe Stern.  I can hardly wait! From Oct. 5th-20th posting will be non-existent, but I will have some great action from Yosemite coming.

Driving south on Route 92
Driving north on 550, north of Durango

2nd pitch of Checkerboard Wall

3rd pitch Checkerboard Wall, just before the spice.

Sunset shooting through the North Rim Campground

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I haven't had a chance to visit some of the more notable bouldering destinations in Colorado, but Durango has made an impression on me.  There is not a lot of published material on Durango, so that is why it may go unnoticed by most.  Just recently, a guide book for the route climbing around Durango was published, "Durango Sandstone", but a bouldering guide book is still in the works.  I was lucky enough to meet Ian, an employee at Pine Needle Mountaineering, who is working on putting together an extensive bouldering guide for the most popular areas.  He was kind enough to draw me an overview map of the "Sailing Hawks" bouldering area and point out boulder problems of interest.  There are highballs, overhangs, long traverses, and just about everything in between, all located in a beautiful setting.  Given the climbing in Durango and other high quality areas near by (Riffle, Black Canyon, Moab), Durango could be a potential place to settle down.

               Like orangutans, some of the Durango locals dub themselves as "Durangutans."

 Skully var. on the left - V7, Skully on the right V6

The massive Euro boulder, with part of the Sacred Traverse (V10) highlighted

Pocket Change - traverse 4 pockets from left to right and end with a big throw to the arete

Petrified Tree

Petrified Prow - V5

Warm-up boulder

A storm looming in the horizon

Monday, September 15, 2008

Black Canyon, Weekend of 9/6

Since I moved to Colorado, I have been bugging Trevor to take me to Black Canyon (located near Gunnision, CO).  In the spring it was too cold, late spring/early summer I was working, the summer too hot, and now the temps are bearable again.  The Black is host to some of the longest trad. routes in the country, 1500-2000 ft. in length.  Trevor and I climbed Journey Home (5.10) on the North Chasm Wall (9/6/08).  The beginning is approximately 300 ft. of 3rd-to-easy-5th class climbing to a good ledge.  There is a dangerous 1st pitch rated at 5.9 R/X, which I lead, and then sustained 5.9/5.10 for another 1,000 ft. or so.  All said and done, the route covers approximately 1,500 ft. of vertical gain.  It is by far one of the longest routes I have ever done.  Here is a blurb from Mountain Project about the Black,  "All routes here should be considered adventure climbing with challenging rock, rock quality, route finding, runouts, etc.. Assistance, in the event of the unexpected, is difficult to non-existent. Be prepared."

Journey Home highlighted in red

I didn't have time to edit the video.  So, if you have a laptop be prepared to move your screen with the video I took.

Climbers across the canyon on "Astro Dog" (South Chasm Wall)

Trevor rappelling into "Cruise Gully"

Trevor on the 3rd pitch of Journey Home

Painted Wall

Checker Board Wall