Thursday, February 26, 2009

My Morning Glory

The tires hiss and screech as I come to an abrupt halt, I scavenge the car looking for my binoculars. A small floss of ice flows off a rock face in the distance and I catch a glimpse of it thru the clouds. Its almost like I can sense the new forming ice like Spiderman’s Spider-sense……well maybe not but that would be pretty cool.

In the distance I can see just a fine line of ice and no visual of the bottom to see if it’s actually touching.

Two days later Matt, Hillary and Photo-man Dan Miller and I head up with high hopes that its still there and that we can get to it thru a maze of private land and roads.

We eventually make it to a trailhead and are super psyched that it looks to be about a 30-minute approach. Contrary to what some people might say not all of my adventures are Mulkey Death Marches (Joel Anderson Quote).

I couldn’t believe how great it looked and the trail went right by the route. With temperatures forecasted at near 50 degrees we knew we had a limited amount of time that the ice would be climbable before cratering to the base of the cliffs.

I was climbing by eight o'clock or so, knowing that this was a must do early morning route. When we got to the base it was already dripping pretty good and it wasnt exactly cold.

Moments before the right half of the pillar fell....

Lucky to still have a tool in my hand as the entire hanging pillar falls to the ground

The pillar got a little lighter but the foot placements got better!

The last pitch was super steep and gear and placements were like digging in a sand box for something solid. This pitch was ice climbing at its best, like bouldering you had to figure out the sequence thru the crux...

Getting out of this corner was exciting, the entire front section of the ice in front of me and below is a small detached pillar that was ready to rip to the ground and behind was chandelier city

We lucked out on the weather, just as I finished the first pitch clouds rolled in and dampened the sun.

I must say I loved this climb all of the movement was exciting and fifty percent of the time your feet were on the rock which provided secure foot placements on protruding boulders in the volcanic kitty litter.

360 feet later we found ourselves at the top of one of the best routes I have ever done.
Thanks to Dan, Hillary and Matt for taking photos and making the route successful


Monday, February 23, 2009

Too Much Excitement.......

Im pretty psyched about Cody's newest route, stay tuned in for the full story!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hells Angel

If we could capture the feeling of success in a pill it would be the next big drug to spread through society. Each and everyone one of us strive to achieve success in many different ways but as Joel, Hillary and I walked out of Hells Angel our success brought the ultimate high.

Hillary and I take breather to take in views on our journey to Hells Angel

Hmmmm next project.....

Joel remembering the long apporach

I choose to take a new path in this time trying to stay out of the depths of snow in the bottom of the canyon, im not sure if it was shorter or better.

Joel is questioning my new approach

Something about post holing thru talus fields just wasnt exciting for any of us, our shins were all sore.

I think an hour and half of the approach was side hilling....sucked

After almost three hours we reached the climb and were all psyched to get it done. Hillary took lead on the first pitch and did it in style.

I stood only 15 feet off the ground staring up the pillar that reminded me of sitting at my parents dinning room table at the age of eight pondering my eyes up at the massive chandelier that dangled over my head like an umbrella. It always reminded of ice back then and its funny that the memory sticks in my head considering I never had a meal at that table. It was like my mom was waiting for some special moment or person to show up to use this table but it never happened.

I stood below Hells Angel in the same place 2 years prior and it looked a hell of a lot better then, but I was forced to back off when my tools failed me. Here I was again and it was right in my face staring me down trying to find my weakness. I wanted this thing and not just for me but for Joel and Hillary also, I figured I felt good now and my feet are solid, so why not continue until feet, gear and tool placements were exhausted. When I reached the bottom I sized it up like it was my opponent in battle looking for its weakness and where it would allow me to place gear and gain resting points. It looked like I was going to be fishing my way up the entire climb trying to hook good placements with each swing.

My arms pleaded for a break as I swung my tools for the last few times gaining the top of the climb. At the base of the climb my tools felt like jugs and now they suddenly felt like greasy toothpicks as my hands clinched on to secure a grip.

As we postholed back down the canyon darkness fell on us and it reminded me how much I love hiking out of the mountains during the sunset and especially after a successful day of climbing.

I was psyched to get this under my belt and it is the last climb I wanted to get done before telling everyone where this area is and I can tell you it hosts some of the best grade 5 climbing I have ever done. I want to thank Joel Anderson for taking the photos and Hillary for blindly following us on a "Mulkey Death March" as Joel would call it.

Monday, February 16, 2009

In the news.....

Im days away from photos and a story about this great chunk of ice, but for now you can read the short news brief on it by clicking HERE

Monday, February 2, 2009

Battle Of My Worlds

Like ants they are all moving with a purpose, going in all directions only a slight glance of the eye is given to passers. None of them no where the other is going and what there purpose is, Time is the essence and they move as fast as possible with a destination in mind. The suns light reaches into the depths of my skin warming my body wishing I were outside this world of windows.

As Kenny and myself drove up the South Fork Valley I knew the next week was going to be a battle and a blessing in an abstrusely way. I would be heading to many destinations by Ice Climbing, Flying, Rock Climbing, Buses, Foot and Cars. It would be a war of my worlds.

That day Kenny and I climbed Too Cold To Fire it was fat considering the near 50-degree temps when we left the car. As I reached the top of the climb I had forgotten the golden rule of Too Cold To Fire….ALWAYS place a piece of gear before toping out its like a relationship, the now is good but the end is unknown…prepare for the worse…lol or maybe that’s just in my life.

As I topped out looking for fat ice and great sticky placements I found fat sheets of ice ready to take my head off like a Guillotine. Suddenly I was in sticky situation instead of sticky placements I focused my eyes below my feet searching to remember or mark my last placement of gear. Twenty plus feet below my feet I spot my last piece of gear. I look for another piece of gear at my waist but everything hits rock…s#*t. I stand on my toes; front points digging in to the ice as I try to see over the lip of ice for hope of a better visual then my last. I’m overcome with a vision of me flying off the top of the climb on a giant ice disc. As a kid I loved the snow disc and had no fear, I would huck myself off anything without thinking about if it would hurt or not, now suddenly im faced with the thought of the repercussions of my decisions. It sucks growing up….

The sun is beating down and sweat is dripping into my eyes
“What the hell is going on up there” Kenny yells…
Without thought I respond
“fuck off “
Kenny stares up from the bottom like staring into the barrel of a loaded gun, waiting for me to pull the trigger of my fate.

I can see thicker ice to my left and rock to my right, which made my decision easy to traverse left and try to get a good piece of gear there and then proceed to the inescapable fate above me. Twelve feet over I find a good rest and shake out while placing a medium size screw that hits rock just as it fully cranks in.

“Its good….um .. I hope”

I step up and over only glancing down for a moment to secure my feet as my eye catch’s the abyss between the ice (which my feet our securely on) and the rock which is separated for as far as my eyes can see. This is one of those moments my psychologist talked about where I would have to take control. I wish she could be in my crampons now.

I throw one tool into the sun bleached Styrofoam ice only to hear its echoes of vibration ring thru the canyon. With a decent screw below my feet the real Wyoming rodeo was about to start. Like a riding bull out of the shoots I was ready for whatever the next 15 feet were gonna give. Each pick and foot placement was delicate and precise as I tip toed my way up. As I reached the top the ice got thinner as it gave way to the current of water rushing over the black kitty litter rock. Eventually I found the anchor and a nice little perch at the top to rest my heart rate and soak in some Wyoming rays.

Kenny and I sat and soaked up the gorgeous day we had been given and as the sun gently faded away thru the frosted peaks above us I realized the experience of ice climbing is like no other.

Quickly rushing home I got cleaned up and rushed to the airport to meet two members of my climbing team and one of their dads who happened to own his a plane. Our plan was to drive to lander, Wyoming for the 2nd stop of the 307 Wyoming Bouldering Series (WBS) but with 60 degree temps and clear skies getting in a pair of wings sounded better. I love flying in small airplanes, there is something invigorating about sailing over the mountaintops and Deserts of Wyoming. With so few areas being inhabited by humans there are times the landscape resembles the surface of mars.

Landing in Lander 45 minutes later we began our trek to the climbing competition at the Elemental climbing gym, which was only a 25-minute walk from the airport. As usual the 307 competitions are awesome and as far as I know the only state wide climbing series in the nation. Micah Ruch Has done a great job keeping the Wyoming climbing community close and connected. 307 is the area code for all of Wyoming and it made sense for him to name us the 307 family. Like no other competitions in the U.S. the WBS provided a fun and supportive environment to compete and meet others in our beautiful state. Our team competed extremely well and their hard workouts and training was beginning to show its effects.

After the comp we headed out of lander under a blanket of stars and snow lit mountains below us. For 45 minutes my world came to a halt and as the stress of my life fell away so did the stars from the sky like fireworks.

The next morning brought warm temps and sunny skies to the valley for a second day in a row. I got the opportunity to meet a great guy from Colorado named Steve Berwanger and he and I hooked up to climb Miami Ice. It was a great day out and super warm, we contemplated taking naps on the mountain.

Nothing like heading out of the valley after a great day of ice climbing and the sun roof pulled back with 60 degree temps...

The next morning I boarded a plane for Texas for work and then off to Mississippi to see my kids which I hadn’t seen in almost a month (which is a whole other story). I knew the next week would be hard being in meetings for most of the week and then seeing my kids. For anybody that knows me my kids are my world and thru the last couple years of my life when I felt like I was drowning my kids were always there to pull me out. Being away from my kids has proved to be the hardest test piece in my life thus far.

I know where I have been, but where am I going? I feel like my worlds are colliding like the lives of the people in this airport. I wonder if all these people question their world as I question mine. There is a never ending journey in all of our lives and the experiences along the way are priceless. Take what you can of each experience and cherish those moments you have been given and focus on those as you take each step forward in life. I sit here waiting to board a plane after seeing my kids for only 2 days and know the only thing constant in my life is my love for my kids and their love for me and for now that is the only world I truly understand and everything else is just a side trail shaping me along the way.