Ruffeling Feathers

Aside

Bird down has been used for centuries as a means of insulation. Russians traded it to the Dutch as far back as the 1600′s so knowledge of its superior warmth is widespread. I’ve certainly owned a few down jackets and can attest to the lofty warmth provided.

There is one thing that bothers me though-
It seems like a huge reason people are buying down jackets is to go camp and climb.

If you like climbing snow-covered mountains up to 8,000 meters, get a down jacket.
If you need an technical midlayer, get a down jacket
Even if you live in the midwest and need a casual looking jacket for the winter, I suggest getting a down jacket.

Every time I go down to Joe’s Valley I see a group of guys, all drinking, hanging out by the campfire, wearing their big puffy jackets often times patched up in ductape.
And every time I ask myself why anyone would spend upwards of $200 to have a jacket that’s going to smell like smoke and have multiple burn holes.

Smoke ruins the DWR coating on outerwear. Once the DWR is worn down, there is very little standing between the moisture and the down plumules inside. And the worst thing is that when down gets wet, it looses its ability to trap heat, not to mention that it takes forever to dry out.
The fabric used for down jackets is incredibly thin too. It’s certainly an amazing scientific achievement, but tell the manufacturers to let me know once it’s fireproof.
Everyone enjoys the sound of a fire crackling, but it really sucks when some of those embers lands on you. When you’re wearing a down jacket, you’re just begging for your jacket to be ruined

BUT WAIT
There are types of jackets that are resistant to fire and blistering cold temperatures. They’ve also been used for centuries- a lot more locally, and in harsher conditions as well.
I’m talking about canvas jackets.

I have a closet full of jackets for every purpose: for wind, rain, hot windy rain, wet snow, dry snow, cold dry snow… the list goes on. None of those jacket though, will do any good next to a fire while I’m out camping. I have a canvas jacket lined with fleece and it’s a godsend. Thick woven cotton is resistant to embers from a fire, as well as abrasions against rock or other sharp surfaces.
When it starts to smell funky, a simple cycle through the washer and drier will get it looking like new.

The expensive space-age jackets, tattered and patched up from years of use, have become a status symbol among outdoorsmen. Memories literally burned into the jacket, “earning” a new patch for every trip. The extra few inches of girth around your chest while you split logs with a hatchet can really make you fell empowered.
Ok, so maybe I’m joking.

In reality, wearing an expensive jacket while sleeping on the ground really goes to show how hipster the climbing scene can be(aka Dirtbag Dichotomy)and a general lack of knowledge of gear. Bouldering does not require you be ultralight. Crash pads are HUGE, so there is no reason you need a jacket that stuffs up the size of a grapefruit.
Give your poor down jacket a break and bust out the canvas jacket when you’re ready to get rugged.

So long, summer, and thanks for all the fish

It feels like the past few months have been spent just trying to beat the heat in Salt Lake. I missed out on the spring season in Maple Canyon to spend a few days in Joe’s Valley. I did also manage to make a few successful trips down to Maple before thee weather got too hot.

I’ve never been much of a sport climber. I think it may be a combination of my fear of heights, taking whippers, and lack of power-endurance. I understand that I should not focus on these things, and simply climb to be outside and enjoy the movement, but it’s been frustrating having to take on a 5.10 when I boulder v5+.
I have been focusing a lot on training this past year and I have been seeing great improvements in my climbing. My head has been in the right place for the past few months and it’s been nice to see the little bits of progression.

When we first went to Maple this year, it was already a little warm. We didn’t want to waste any time so we headed straight to the schoolroom area to get warmed up. After a few routes under our belts it was time to get serious at the Pipeline!

Pipeline is one of my favorite areas for climbing. The routes are all a little harder, but are some incredibly entertaining with safe falls. We started off on Angry Itch 11c. I think we all had to hang at least once, but it was an awesome lead up these huge cobbles.

After getting loosened up for some harder routes, I started putting down burns on Pipeline, an amazing 11d. I had never been on this route previously, but it is a striking line up great cobbles in the middle of the wall. My onsight effort was solid, but I had to hang at the crux and figure out the sequence. I worked through the route a couple more times, trying to commit the moves to memory and soon enough, I was drained. My arms were pumped solid and still no send. We went back to the campsite for some well deserved beer and rest.
We still had half of the following day to climb until we had to head back to Salt Lake. Again, we fired off some warm-up laps at the Schoolroom before heading down to Pipeline again.
This time, there was a couple working the route already, so we found the only decent 5.10 in the area to work on first. We finished up on the 10b and decided to wait in line for Pipeline and to provide some extra encouragement. Unfortunately the climber was not able to make the ascent and was lowered to the ground. They had left gear up on the wall, and asked if I wanted t clean the route for them.
I was a little tired from the past few days of climbing, but I wasn’t going to turn down a red point attempt. I started up the climb. I really tried to focus on my breathing, and controlled movement up the route. The holds are all really great and were mostly hand sized cobbles, so almost every move should be to and from a comfortable jug.
Before I knew it, I was facing the crux. It wasn’t so much that the crux required strength, but the sequence had to be done correctly to save energy for the rest of the route. I had memorized just about every move of the route from the day before, so after some deep breathes, I pushed forward. I could hardly believe it when I got to the anchors.

After my recent trips up to Maple I have been getting the itch for sport climbing. It’s been fun taking safe falls into clean space. Pipeline is only one of a handful of climbs that I’ve been able to send without hanging, and it’s most certainly my hardest route at 11d. I’m excited to see where that takes me, as I’m going to start trying to climb a few more sport routes now on.

The biggest news would be that Jacey and I have somewhat recently come back from a 2.5 week vacation down in Brazil! Usually my trips down to Brazil are to see family, but this time I had the pleasure of taking some time to go climb!

brazil 4

I love Brazil. It’s one of the coolest places I’ve ever traveled to, and I’ll be sure to keep going back as often as I can.
One of the nice things about going to Brazil in July, is that we get to escape the ridiculous Utah heat.
This is the first time that I’ve been able to climb outside in Brazil. We scheduled a little trip to Ubatuba, and after the grueling drive through Brazillian traffic to the beach, we were greeted with a spectacular beach breeze and the hypnotic sound of the waves breaking. Unfortunately it was already night and there was no time for bouldering.
The next morning after a filling breakfast of tropical fruits, we headed off to the bouldering area.

After we exited the rain forest on our approach, we were blown away by the setting of the boulders. The rocks sat on a little peninsula surrounded by a brilliant blue ocean. There were sea turtles and tropical fishes of all kinds- truly a spectacular place to climb.
Right away we saw some proud lines going up tall slabs, but what caught our eyes was the stunning Van der Waals route. It’s rated v3, though for shorter people there’s a super reachy cross move(Daniel Woods gave the problem a v5). This uber classic line easily gets a spot on my top 10 boulder problems.

brazil 2

We had only brought my Black Diamond Impact pad, so we tried to limit ourselves to problems with a safe landing zone. None the less, we were able to get on some really fun routes. I’m curious at what the weather is like during the rest of the year. It felt super hot, even in the middle of their “winter”, so I wonder if there’s ever a cooler, drier season to go climb. There’s a few other places in Brazil that I’d like to checkout too… but that’ll have to wait for a while I’m sure.

Getting Warmer

It seems like it’s been a while since my last post here…
It’s the middle of April finally and I’ve been able to get my hands on a little more rock since our last trip to Red Rocks.
Upper Area of Ogden's boulder field
So far we’ve made trips to Joes Valley and Ogden a few times which have been great.

Our trip to Joe’s Valley a few weeks ago was great too. It was our first climbing trip of the spring and I was really eager to see how I measured up on some new routes I wanted to project.
Unfortunately it was during spring break and Joe’s was pretty crowded. We tried climbing in a few areas that we hadn’t been to before to see if we can avoid the crowd.
We played around in the Mine Cart area up Left Fork and did a really fantastic problem in the v3 range called The Wave

We’ve done a bit of bouldering here in Little Cottonwood as well, though the south side of the canyon is still covered in snow. Hopefully within the next few weeks things will start to dry up so I can get back to working some projects.
I really dig the boulders on the other side of the river in the canyon. The rocks aren’t right off the side of the road, so they don’t see half of the traffic some of the other areas get. The boulders aren’t drilled or chipped in any way either, so the problems are mostly made of up desperate slopers and committing high-balls.

I’m looking forward to a fairly tall v3 that I haven’t tried yet in an area called The Swamp. The boulder sits right next to a beat up building that was once probably a little picnic area(now it’s covered with graffiti and trash)
The line itself is really beautiful though and follows an obvious weakness up the center of the rock and consists of a series of flat ledges and technical movement.

My other favorite spot on that side of the river is called the Hidden Forrest. While the river is raging during the spring it’s a bit of a hike to get to, but the seclusion is totally worth it. Some of the few videos I have of Jacey and myself climbing were shot there(see my “Viddy” section…)

I must say that it’s been hard to stay focused purely on climbing so far this spring. The weather seems to be having a hard time making up its mind about what season it wants to be, and while it’s sunny 70+ weather one day, you’ll have rain for the next three, and 12 inches of new snow in the mountains. Thankfully Brighton hasn’t closed for the season yet, so we’re able to get in some really fantastic morning sessions in up there before the snow starts to warm up.
Hopefully within the next few weeks I’ll have been able to get a few more climbs in. The sport climbing areas are starting to get into season so I’m sure another trip to Maple Canyon will be in order soon.

In other news, Jacey and I have both picked up some 5.10 Hornets from Backcountry.com. It seems like this is the last season they’re making them, so we snagged some of the last few pairs for an awesome deal.

Jacey climbing up one of my favorite slabs in the canyon

Jacey climbing up one of my favorite slabs in the canyon


Planet of the Apes in Joe's Valley

Planet of the Apes in Joe’s Valley

Stoking the Fire

Everyone can start to feel it. The cold winter weather is subsiding, lifting the blankets of snow off our spring-time projects. This winter has been a little disappointing so far here in Salt Lake, and I’m starting to get psyched about climbing season.
We’ve been trying to hit the gym a little more often, and I’m starting to feel strong again, so I can’t wait until I can get back on the rock again!
The talk of going to Moab next month has come up a few times, so hopefully Jacey and I will be taking a little vacation down south soon.

Something that always seems to help is watching some sick climbing videos!
I present to you a few of my favorite videos around the web-

Tomorrow I Will Be Gone from Outcrop Films on Vimeo.

ABYSS – North America’s Highest Bouldering from Louder Than Eleven on Vimeo.

The Swiss Account ~ Feature Length from Louder Than Eleven on Vimeo.

Red Rocks, NV

To kick the new year off right, we only figured a trip to Vegas would suffice. Good thing we have a connection too, because spending time in LV really adds up!
We had about 5 days of time off, so we hurried down south to escape the brutal pollution that plagues Salt Lake City(Smog Lake City?)  as fast as we could.

a breath of fresh air

a breath of fresh air

We had never climbed in Vegas before, so we were super eager to see what it was all about. Unfortunately, we’re never able to leave as early as we plan, and our first night in Vegas was spent drinking in the room, followed by a brisk walk down The Strip.

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After a strong cup of coffee, we rushed off to pick up a guidebook and crush some boulders! We were greeted by majestically striped and spotted rock ranging in colors from red to yellow, to white, and the beautiful dark sandstone varnish.

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We spent a lot of time exploring all the different canyons and seeing what Red Rocks has to offer. After a lot of walking around, we settled down and got our game faces on. I spotted a beautiful traverse on a sloping lip named The Alexisizer. It goes at a moderate v6 and has some really amazing movement and powerful moves.

Mid crux on The Alexisizer

Beginning of the crux on The Alexisizer

Jacey sending Potato Chips

Jacey sending Potato Chips

Due to some really gnarly wind and a bit of rain, we were cut short on our climbing. Pretty big bummer since most of the time we were checking out future problems.
Regardless of the climbing done, we had a super awesome time checking out a new climbing area that’s so close by. We’ll surely be stopping back at Red Rocks soon.

A family of burros wishing us farewell
 

Getting cold out…

Not much new in life for the past month. The occasional snow fall has put a damper on the outdoor climbing here in SLC, so we’ve been waiting for a good opportunity to head down to the desert again.

In other news, both Jacey and I bought some new climbing shoes! We’re both super excited. Jacey got herself a pair of La Sportiva Pythons, and I picked up a pair of 5.10 Dragons.
We’ve only had one morning at the gym so far to try them out and we’re just itching to get out and try them where it counts!

So far, the Dragons have performed up to my every expectation. The aggressive camber of the shoe really drives your toes into the foothold and give you incredible power. And naturally, due to the downturn of the shoe, it lacks the ability to smear well, but that’s no problem since it’s something to expect.
With the shoes I was already able to reach new high-points on my projects at the gym, so I’m hoping that translates well to the outdoors.

We have a trip to Joe’s Valley again coming up this week on Thursday or Friday. The weather looks good and we’re hoping to get a real solid weekend of bouldering in before it’s time to break out the snowboards!

Embracing the Fall

The cooler temperatures are starting to really bring out the fall colors here in Utah. It also means that climbing season is almost into full swing.
This past weekend, we took a quick day trip to Maple Canyon that left me with a bitter sweet feeling.

Sport climbing isn’t really my thing, but I’m trying to open my mind a little bit and start clipping some bolts. After a few successful days sport climbing here in SLC up Big Cottonwood Canyon, we decided it was time to take a little trip down south to see what we could accomplish.
Maple Canyon is known for its steep and long jug hauls up cobbles. The cobbles are smooth and really friendly on your skin, and there’s sick looking overhanging routes everywhere.
We started with some insanely long warmup routes that pumped me out quick(not such a great warmup) but after my forearms settled down, we moved on to an awesome wall called Pipeline. The routes here were all about 40-50 ft long and it was shaped like a huge wave turning over.
Jacey and I had our eyes set on some hard 5.11′s. I almost got the onsight of the first 11c we hopped on, but I fell before clipping the last bolt. I banged my knee on the short fall and ended up giving myself a charlie horse and got lowered back down. UNFORTUNATELY, after a quick run to the bathroom, I came back to the route only to find the rope pulled and draws taken off. Huge bummer, but I think I will be able to get it next time we head down.

After we pulled the rope, the rest of the climbing party wanted to move on. Our next destination was the Zen Wall.
We just did a short 10a called Buddha Belly here to keep ourselves warm. Short and sweet, and lit a little fuse that made me want to return to the Pipeline to give its namesake route, an 11d, an attempt.
It was getting dark, so I knew we needed to hurry. Everything started really good, and I cruised passed the 4th bolt until I was staring at the crux, right before the last bolt, and right before my hardest onsight(and hardest sport climb I’ve ever done)
The crux is a hard move around a bulge right before the climbing gets easier and you can stand up to the chains. I reached as far as I could, but to no success. I was pumped and took the fall.  After being lowered down to rest, I cursed myself for not going for it a little harder. Failure is part of life, and I need to embrace the falls if I want to get any further in sport climbing.

In the end, I was pleased with the fact that I got so far on both onsight attempts on some hard and steep 5.11. I got to enjoy some incredible fall colors, and climbing on some of the coolest routes I’ve been on.
I look forward to my next trip down to Maple Canyon.

Back To The Old Stomping Grouds

This past weekend, Jacey and I were able to take a quick trip back to Casper, WY to visit some family from out of town and get some climbing in!
One of my favorite places to sport climb is Fremont Canyon(much more known for its crack climbing). I don’t know why… I never really want to go sport climbing unless I’m in Fremont. One of the coolest little finger canyons named the Love Shack hosts some s few really great sport climbs, including a route I’m still working on- The Stinger 11c/d.

Packing for the trip

It was great seeing friends and rolling out to the bars to get a little weird. One of my favorite things about being from a small town is that everywhere you go you seem to run into people you know, especially on a Saturday night at a bar. It was a old co-workers 21st, and I had an awesome time chatting with old friends.

Amazingly, the next day we were still feeling down to climb, and despite having to drive 6 hours back to Salt Lake, we decided to head to Fremont Canyon to clip some bolts.
We got to the Love Shack with about an hour and a half of climbing time, so we decided to hop on an old favorite of mine, Hasta La Vista, a 10b

Chris sending it on TR

It was a “Sendtember” confidence booster. Jacey is usually the one to want to go sport climbing instead of bouldering, so I’m totally out of endurance, but I still managed to climb it clean without any resting. Not too hard at all, feels like a tall V1 boulder problem with maybe a 2 move V2 sequence halfway through before a nice jug haul to the anchors.
Hopefully I’ll be able to get back out to Casper in the next month or two to catch some more prime conditions to send a few of the harder routes.

the bad part about road trips…