Thursday, December 25, 2008

Meadow Moods: Reflections on a High Sierra Lifestyle

Firelight on golden granite greets sleepy eyes. A calm lake stands its ground in
the shadows, awaiting a touch of sun. Monkeys rise from frosty bivy sacks, grind the bean, and start to wake up.

The ride into the park never gets old. Excited voices discuss the day’s plans while motivation buzzes through the cab. A frozen trail crackles under boots as eyes scan a looming dome. Corners, cracks, and knobs follow each other in harmonic order. Every route is perfect.

Strength, balance, experience, and passion push the ground away. Two shapes
move across an ocean of stone, dancing feet and centered minds keeping them afloat. The sun casts end time color as the monkeys mantle onto the summit. Wild eyes take in the airy scene until the first diamonds in the sky appear. Down slabs and runnels, into the forest, and finally a shoe on asphalt. The descent is done.

Flames lick at icy air as the day’s tales spill from mouths full of burrito and beer.
Experiences come to life in fevered story telling. The jams, the smears, the edges, the runouts…everyone relives the moments between earth and sky. A crescent moon slices at the black night, eyes grow heavy, and monkeys, one by one, fade into the darkness. Soon, all is silent and dreams of high places slip through the night until the return of the firelight.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Darkness slowly washes away the beautiful, rugged sunset. We linger on the summit, staring into stacks of black, cutter ridges. Here, in this moment, I feel like my climbing truly means something. I glance over at Cole and sense that he is navigating through similar thoughts. The memories start to flood my mind... Epic journies on city buses and bikes to reach the local sport crag. Falling off chossy problems onto homemade crash pads. Cheering each other on at junior competitions. Early road trips to Smith Rock. Sharing the buzz of seeing El Cap for the first time. Endless wandering through Washington's deserts in search of anything worth climbing. Tears and laughter. Tough times and brilliant moments...the list goes on. For twelve years we have fed off each other's motivation and passion. We've never bailed, decided to take it easy, or hit snooze on the alarm. Never. On this day we punched out three amazing alpine towers. Our movement was continuous and methodical. We tiptoed across run out slabs, dangled wildly from bombay chimneys, peeled back cuticles jamming thin cracks, and fought the pump on a difficult boulder problem late in the day. For us, free climbing these three spires had been a long time goal. Now, at the end of our mission, "free and in a day" seems a silly way to measure success. Our lasting friendship is what amazes me most and as we descend a sharp ridge suspended among the stars, I quietly wonder what adventures are to come.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Dragontail Madness

The cold outside my sleeping bag is piercing; almost scary. It keeps me from sleeping much, which gives me plenty of unwanted time to think about what I'm doing up here. My alarm goes off before my frozen brain connects the dots and the question goes unanswered. I hop out of my bag, lace my boots, stuff my pack with some gear, and move through dark, slippery talus. Before I know it I am kicking steps towards the base of the route. Dawn lights up my objective, an unrepeated route which tackles a terrifying 2,000 feet of climbing. I seek the shelter of a large boulder, turn my back on the mountain and stare west. Bathed in the pink of the rising sun, the gentler peaks in my view almost help me forget what lies behind. Even though I'm scared, I feel enough comfort to begin. Very carefully I climb over stone and ice, focused on what is directly before me. The climbing is tedious, but I'm making progress; one move at a time. 700 feet up the face I find myself stemmed between frozen blocks. The situation seems quite precarious and I am jostled from my focused mind state. All of the sudden I feel the overwhelming hugeness of the wall. I look around around and suddenly feel very, very small. It is only a minute before I take the rope from my pack and start the single rope raps that will take me to saftey. I want out. Now. The rappels go suprisingly smooth and soon I'm on the ground sipping icy water. I sit there for a bit and let the adrenaline subside. I notice the beauty of my surroundings and feel blessed to have been part of this landscape for a day. Walking out my knees hurt, but my heart is light. In climbing terms I failed, but I'm happy to have faced my fears, given the mountain my best, and kept the climb in perspective. Later in the evening, after a warm shower and a beer, I have the opportunity to hang out with some people I hold very dear. I conciously recognize the beauty of life. Exciting climbing and close friends. What a perfet day.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Always Upwards

Hi everyone. After years of reticence, I have decided it is time to share my experiances as a climber and mountain lover. Adventures big and small are a daily occurance for me and I hope to share these with family, freinds, and anyone who finds inspiration in high places. Thanks for taking a look and check back soon!