The big trip to Turkey and Europe made me realize the balance and value of having a ‘home’, and of being stationary. Upon my return, I intended to stay put in Colorado for a bit, to enter into some sort of routine, and to do small trips here and there within the US. I was excited to see close friends that I had been without, and to rely for a time on familiar surroundings and objects. I was excited to climb in Rifle, trying routes that I haven’t done, repeating my favorite routes, and potentially putting up some new routes of my own.
Promptly after returning, my Subaru of many years and many miles died. Apparently the timing belt broke and trashed the engine. The last journey was from Boulder to Glenwood Springs. It almost made it to the destination of Carbondale, only 15 miles away, where I was travelling to see, stay, and climb in Rifle with one of my closest friends Andrew Bisharat. See a funny recount here. I sold it to a Midas grease monkey for $50, Andrew came and we emptied it out, he put a hammer through one of the taillights, and I said my last goodbye. Fuck it.
I began scouring the Internet and classifieds for a new rig. I found many, but since my credit is fucked because I defaulted on an insanely large condo mortgage, no one was going to offer me financing or an auto loan. I paid an overinflated amount at the highest point in the market before the decline, I should’ve listened to my pop on this one…It ultimately resulted in a short sale…for 55% of what I paid for the 400 square foot piece of shit…Oh yeah, and the dude got the $8000 ‘first time home buyer’ tax credit to help ‘boost home sales’ and ‘stimulate the economy.’ Lucky him…like I said, I just got fucked. Anyways, even the wicked (me) get lucky…
Craigslist brought my dream vehicle; The one that I have wanted since before I could drive, an all wheel drive Astro van. I saw the post about it, called the dude up, rallied the roomies, drove to where it was, test drove it, went to an ATM, paid the $1500, got the title, and drove it home all in about and hour. BOOM, DONE! I win. Ha haaaaaaa……
This became ‘home 2’, and I have lived in it all summer long in Rifle canyon with my special lady and climbing partner, Emily Harrington. We’d spend anywhere from a few days to a couple weeks out there in it. After purchasing the van, I outfitted it with a custom futon style bed, table to cook on with drawers for storage, a cooler and food, and all my climbing stuff. In between trips, we would return to Boulder to rest, sleep in a real room and bed, cook in a real kitchen, basically, justify the rent that I pay to have a room (aka ‘home 1’) in that town. This became an enjoyable rhythm that floated us through the remainder of June, and July through September.
As I explained earlier, there were some small side trips that I did to mix things up. June 21-24, I went to Salt Lake City, Utah for Black Diamond’s summer sales meeting. July 7-10, I went to New Orleans, Louisiana to see my family…and might have gotten loose on Bourbon St with my lil bro. August 1-5, I was back in Salt Lake City for Black Diamond’s summer research and design meeting, as well as the Outdoor Retailer summer trade show. Then, August 10-14, I went down to Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa, Mexico to stay with 2 close friends, Chris Grover and Boone Speed, at their home in Truncones.
We did only a few things; Slept, surfed, ate and drank, and chilled/meditated. Oh yeah, and I got some heinous Mexican food or water poisoning to round out the experience…It was worth it. August 30–September 1, Emily and I went to Chicago on behalf of The North Face for an America’s Great Outdoors listening session. I made a quick stop at The Code of Conduct tattoo shop as well. September 21-22, Emily and I attended The Telluride Photo Festival on behalf of The North Face to work with Tim Kemple in his workshop, ‘The Commecial Shoot’.
When I wasn’t in Boulder or on one of the side trips listed above, I was in Rifle. Ooooohhhhhh yes, Rifle. My Rifle canyon; where the crisp, cool, and clean air fills my lungs and makes me feel lighter and stronger, where the canyon walls envelope and comfort me like my favorite blanket, where the wind whispers and makes me believe in magic, possibilities unseen, potential unreached. The canyon was kind to me this season, allowing me success on a number of levels. I was fortunate to complete some of the most difficult routes in the canyon, to establish a few new routes of my own, and to make repeats of other hard new routes. The list is under the photos below with some notes.
The Crew 5.14c
-The hardest route in the canyon. I came painstakingly close last season, one hanging many times and from very low. I was shut down due to cold; on my last day, it was in the 20’s in the shade, and after climbing through the bottom crux to the first rest, my arms went numb to the elbow. I returned in June/July this year with a vendetta that required 5 am tactics for the best conditions, which weren’t really that good…This one was a difficult physical and mental battle for me.
-The most mystical route in the canyon. It embodies everything that is Rifle climbing; hard, cryptic, awkward, and intimidating. I have tried it a couple times a year for 4 years, and it always seemed desperately impossible. This year, on one of my attempts, I had an epiphany in which I discovered a method that worked for me.
Waka Flocka 14b, 2nd ascent
-An abandoned, partially bolted line on the Project Wall that Joe Kinder retro bolted, cleaned, and brought into magnificent existence by sending. A supreme new area test piece.
Rorschach Test 14b, equipped, 1st ascent
-A line that I spied in the Nappy Dugout, and wondered about. I sank the bolts, cleaned it all up dropping a few mini-fridge sized blocks in the process, and began attempting. There was a moment I thought some of the moves might not be possible for me. Speculative grade.
Planet X 14a, 2nd ascent
-A product of Steve Hong’s tireless extended cleaning effort in the Wicked Cave. It is a great new addition. I had a very memorable experience on this one, a true ‘floating in the moment’ event that I won’t forget, and will always try to recreate.
Caddywhompus 14a, 2nd ascent
-Another abandoned, partially bolted line on the Project Wall that Joe Kinder made real through his belief and vision and effort. It is a new gem for the canyon.
Living the Dream 14a, equipped, 2nd ascent
-An open and abandoned bolting permit led me to this; my first route in Rifle. A right finish/extension to the notorious ‘Living in Fear’, which has always been a very special route to me. It was a bit of an emotional roller coaster up through its completion, but well worth it all.
Class Act 14a, 1st ascent
-It is a mega pitch some 45-50 meters long that was only made possible by Chris Weidner’s effort in the creation of the ‘Simply Read’ extension, and openness to me climbing it via a different route. It climbs ‘Present Tense’ to the last bolt and then moves right and climbs to the very top of the Project wall.
Let it Burn 13d, equipped, 1st ascent
-It is a logical and obvious and very quality alternate finish to ‘Sometimes Always’ that climbs into ‘Living the Dream’.
Oh, and…we made this too in Rifle this summer…
And now, my season has come to a close, and these successes are locked in the past. They are cherished tests and creations, but ultimately just pieces of rock that are not so special or unlike any other. What is more important for me to realize and remember is the heart of my experience; who I was in those moments, how I had to conform and adapt to each unique situation, and the parts of myself that I normally don’t get to see.
I have bid adieu to my beloved canyon for a time. It was in a beautiful state on my last day. A hefty frost and subfreezing temps greeted us upon awakening from our slumber, but the sun warmed things up quickly. The trees were in their fall prime, bright golden yellow. The wind had a cold bite to it, and carried random leaves through the air and scattered them on the ground. The day was noticeably shorter, and the sun more orange than hot white, as in the middle of summer. As shade overcame the canyon, we departed. Onward to different places…