Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Closing up shop?

My apologies for the lack of posts since the summer. After I returned to Arizona in August, I've had a hard time getting motivated to climb out here. It certainly hasn't helped that the heat only finally dissipated a few weeks ago, which meant that for the past four months one had to either drive 5 hours to Flagstaff to climb or stick to climbing at the summit of Mt. Lemmon, which is fun from time to time but not so great that I'm inclined to spend every weekend up there. (By the way, anyone who tells you they've made the drive to Flagstaff from Tucson in under 5 hours is exaggerating considerably or got lucky once with no traffic in Phoenix and no highway construction nor accidents on I-10 or I-17). In any case, there hasn't been much to write about recently and I don't expect there to be, at least until the spring, when I have some trips planned which will take me out of the Tucson area and into some more interesting (climbing-wise) environs. I may revive this blog around then to post photos and so on. Until then...

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Away for awhile

I won't be posting here for a little while, as I'm spending June and July as far away from the searing heat of the southwest as possible, and there's no good reason to write about southwestern climbing when you're not doing it. See you again in August...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Interesting Article - Pearls Before Breakfast

This article is not directly related to climbing, but I found it fascinating and wanted to share it.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Some photos from Red Rocks

Well once again things have slowed down on the climbing front. This weekend ended up being spent relearning the basics of Banach and Hilbert spaces, a topic I haven't really thought about in detail since I passed my comprehensive exams at UNH way back in 2002, but one that I need to know by the summer. Needless to say, not much time was left for climbing. So instead, here are a few of my favorite photos from Laura's & my trip to Red Rock last November with Pat & Madeline. I'll be adding to this slideshow as I go through and organize the photos. Click on the slideshow to go to the album and see the full-size versions.


Monday, April 21, 2008

A Slow Return

Things are slowly returning to normal now that the wedding has passed. (A slideshow of the ceremony can be found here - check it out! ) That means that Laura and I have been able to climb a little bit again. We've mostly been sport climbing at Milagrosa and trying to get back in shape, but we did spend a couple days bouldering at the summit of Mt. Lemmon. We put together a short video of a couple problems we tried up there - Laura got a first ascent and I almost sent a line that was done years ago, but seldom gets any attention due to its location. Nevertheless, it's one of the best boulder problems on the mountain. The line follows a rising seam up an overhung face until the seam peters out and you've got to make a big move to a jug at the lip of the boulder. One of those problems where each move is just a tad harder than the last, until you're done. I wasn't able to track down the name of the first ascensionist, though I'd wager it was Bob Murray - he's seems to be credited with the FA of most of the hard boulder problems on the mountain. I was able to find a grade of B1+ for the problem, though, which I guess dates it pretty well. Enjoy...

Monday, March 24, 2008


I just returned from honeymooning in the mountains of North Carolina, and while I didn't do any climbing while honeymooning, I did hike around and investigate Whitesides, one of the largest and certainly one of the most intimidating cliffs on the east side of the country. The rock that I saw was almost Rumney-esque in texture and friction, but certainly not in features - much of the wall is slabby to vertical, with very few weaknesses into which gear or hands might fit. I guess this is why most of the routes here are so difficult and so bold - N. Carolina is a pretty traditional-minded state, and on the biggest, baddest cliff in N. Carolina you're expected to come prepared with technique and a cool head. Just to give an idea, the first pitch of the Original Route is a 140 ft. long 5.7 slab with just one bolt, according to Mountainproject (descriptions at the cliff itself said no bolts; I don't know which is accurate). The route then goes free at 5.11, although you can french-free the crux moves to bring it down into the 10 range. Pretty inspiring stuff.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Blog Update

I'm trying to restrict this blog mostly to climbing, which means that unfortunately there's not much to write about over these past two weeks - with everything going on in the other aspects of my life (wedding, car problems, etc) climbing has unfortunately had to take a backseat. That should all change by the end of this month, so look for some hopefully more interesting posts here around that time.


Friday, February 29, 2008

Big Aretes

So I went bouldering in Cochise Stronghold last weekend. For the unfamiliar, Cochise is the biggest & best climbing in Southeastern Arizona - high quality golden granite towers in the Dragoon Mountains. Cochise is also very backcountry and remote, with long, stairmaster-type approaches, tricky descents, and so on. Despite being out here for 7 months and visiting 3 or 4 times, I've only actually climbed a single route there - the other trips have turned into bouldering trips, which is fine by me because the bouldering is great, unlimited, and there's no one else in sight.

Just like the routes, though, much of the bouldering feels committing. The problems tend to be on the larger side, often without the best landings. This past weekend I went with the intention of climbing two big overhanging aretes I'd looked at before, one of which I tried a little but couldn't commit to with only two pads and one spotter. This time I had both James & Laura to spot, and a third pad , which boosted my confidence plenty - both got sent! The first one was close though. It overhangs about 45 degrees, and though the holds are good, they're directional slopers and there aren't really any feet. You just sort of slap up with a heel hook and a couple smears. As I hit the lip of the boulder, both my feet cut and I swung waaay out over the yucca plant that makes up the landing from that point - not a comfy place to fall. I stuck on though, and groveled my way over the top.

The other big arete felt much easier after this one - it's a perfect razor cut left arete, overhung about 30 degrees, with a single sloping edge just out of reach in the middle of the face and a massive jug way at the top of the boulder on the right. When you hit the jug, your left hand is on a little bump on the arete, and you can't heel hook anymore - you've got to cut and throw your foot up above your head onto the jug before you match up and pull over the top using a several-ton detached block conveniently perched up there.

These problems are in a wash that does actually have a guide (apparently a bouldering comp was held there awhile ago, at a 'beanfest'). I'm not sure if these problems are in it - I'd be surprised if they hadn't already been climbed. In any case, the bouldering guide doesn't appear to cover much compared to the possibilities out there in Cochise though. If the temps will just calm down for a little bit longer (it was 85 degrees out today!) maybe there'll be a chance to venture beyond the realm of the guide...