Saturday, May 20, 2017


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-K & G 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

St George Project Mode 2017

It’s almost overwhelming how much climbing the St George area in southwest Utah has to offer.

When we first checked out St George last spring we visited several of the different crags and sampled tons of spectacular routes. We got SO psyched on all the amazing lines and immediately planned a return visit to the awesome limestone crags for this year.

The Canadian van congregation back for more!

The approach we took this year was different than last. We each set our sights on a couple routes that we’d tried in the past but were too hard for us at the time. It is difficult to project on a road trip because time is always a limiting factor. The pressure is so much higher than projecting at your home crag… and there is the looming reality that you just might not send. You have to be ok with that. 

Another challenge with projecting on the road is that you are almost never sending or climbing on new routes. In the one month we spent in St George we both climbed only about a dozen new lines each.

So what did we put our time into instead? Climbing the same warm-ups at the same crags and giving the same attempts on the same projects over and over and over again. 

Graham sunk his energy into one main route: Breakin’ The Law (5.14b) at the Black and Tan crag. He also worked on two “side projects”, All Dressed Up (5.13d) and Super Loaded (5.13c) at the Cathedral in Welcome Springs. 

Graham climbing through the long arch on Super Loaded (5.13c)

I split my time between two routes I had touched last season, Pucker (5.13c) at the Wailing Wall in Welcome Springs, and Sniffing Glue (5.13c) at Black and Tan. 

Working the crux on Sniffing Glue (5.13c). Photo credit: Yannick Neufeld-Cumming

We both had our own unique experiences working these routes. After making quick progress with sorting out the crux sequences on Breakin’ The Law, Graham proceeded to match his high point in the second crux around a dozen times (spread over multiple sessions). Body worn down and sore after several weeks of repeated bearing down on the route, he took 5 days of rest from hard climbing and we went to Moab. A few days after returning he made the decision to forego Super Loaded for another trip, and then proceeded to send All Dressed Up AND Breakin’ The Law on back-to-back climbing days right before we were scheduled to leave! 

Graham moving into the crux on All Dressed Up (5.13d)

Graham on the send of his big project, Breakin' The Law (5.14b)

I surprised myself with a fairly quick send of Pucker on my tenth attempt, less than two weeks after our arrival. I thought I could capitalize on my psych to fuel attempts on Sniffing Glue, but this route put up MUCH more of a fight for me. Then, just three days after finishing Pucker I accidentally hit one of the crux holds on Sniffing Glue as a mono with my left middle finger and proceeded to pull off it anyways. I immediately felt a twang of pain through my finger, hand, and into my wrist. 

I injured a pulley a couple years ago, but this was my first tendon injury. Fortunately it was fairly minor. I took a week off climbing, and then slowly eased back into it. I was basically feeling good to go after two weeks as long as I didn’t use that finger in isolation. 

On our second to last day, I managed to link all 15 moves of the ridiculously hard opening boulder problem on Sniffing Glue and send the route!!! Psyched! It took me nearly three times as many tries as Pucker. 

SUPER psyched to finish off Sniffing Glue (5.13c) before we left!!

It was rad to spend our time in St George with a bunch of our friends who were crushing their projects as well. In photos, a few of these sick ascents…

Nicole busting out the try hard for her send of Bastard Stepchild (5.12d)

Chris looking casual on Infidels (5.13a)

Kye taking down Talking Smack (5.13b)

Dan crushing Solid Gold (5.14c)

Jakob on the send of his first 5.13a, Space Shuttle to Kolob

Kirsten making the most of climbing despite a pulley injury :(

Yannick sent a ton of stuff this trip and we have no photos... but here he is looking cute with Mona!

It was great to hang out with Tim and Kim for a bit too!! Kim on her send of Raising Cain (5.12b)

Jared had to jet back to Canada in late March, but here he is working the moves on Breakin' The Law before leaving

Friday, April 14, 2017

Breakin' the Law!

About a week ago…

I had one goal in mind for our time in St George: A short and bouldery climb at the Black and Tan cliff called Breakin’ the Law. I don’t know what exactly drew me to this climb in particular, but it was all that was on my mind when we discussed our time in southern Utah.

I had tried this climb last year and had been unable to link the first crux sequence, hadn’t done a single move in the second crux, and was struggling to consistently link the ‘easy’ slab crux near the top.

My old beta in the first crux. Photo credit: Yannick Neufeld-Cumming

Exploding off of the first crux. Photo credit: Yannick Neufeld-Cumming

This year, with the help of Jared’s excellent beta, I started to consistently do the first crux. Shortly after that, I figured out a sequence that worked for me for the second crux and slowly began to get that part consistently as well. The slab crux wasn’t proving to be a problem either.

New crux sequence using toe hook beta that Jared found

Perfect, I thought, this should go quickly! This has not been the case. The difficulty for me revolves around getting perched on a glassy smear with my body in just the right spot to take enough weight off my left hand to move it to a good crimp – what I feel is the last hard move in the second crux. In my mind, if I stick this, I should send.

Trying really really really hard on the smear

However, each attempt seems to go as follows:

Climb through the first crux, grab the two holds at the start of the second crux, tell myself ‘I know I can do this’, grab a small undercling, get my right foot on the glassy smear, rock over the foot….and be unable to find the perfect body position. Thrutch for the crimp, miss, fall, rage. Pull back on at the start of the second crux and climb all the way to the top. Rinse; repeat.

Grabbing that last hold in the second crux

I have done this over a dozen times now…one move away from completing the final crux. Each time I feel like I learn something, which is definitely positive. Still, it is hard to stay psyched as I ask myself how much more I need to learn before I can make the move feel like it does in isolation.

Almost every day we have been in St George (about 4 weeks) at least one of my friends has sent a project of theirs. In that same time, I have completed a grand total of 5 new climbs; all of them were used as warm ups. When we got here, I had decided that I wanted to climb this one route, which would be my hardest ever, instead of doing more climbs of lesser difficulty. Completing this climb, of course, would be a huge step forward in my climbing and would complete my goal I had for this year: climb five 5.14s, one of which is 5.14b. 

What I didn’t expect was the frustration and sadness (for lack of better word) that I would feel seeing everyone else successfully redpointing their projects and having done none of my own. Instead of thriving off the psych of everyone else’s successes, I am constantly asking myself ‘why can’t I send as well?’ I find myself wanting to walk away from Breakin’ the Law and climb something else just so I can have that feeling of success. Is that the right decision? Or is that just the selfish thought of me wanting to show my friends ‘hey I can send something too!’?

Would those little successes of climbing something well below my limit equate to the same feeling as sending my hardest climb ever? Unlikely. I need to remember that the relationship I have been forming with this climb is like any other relationship – it takes work. I need to keep focused and devoted during those low times in order to have the high times. I know I can climb this and I know I am getting close. It will just be a matter of time…

April 13 update…

Three days after pouring my thoughts onto this page I had my best go on Breakin’ the Law. I snagged the final hold of the crux, the decent left hand crimp, only to have my right foot pop off the smear resulting in yet another fall. I hit my knee hard on the lip of the roof on the fall and tore off a massive scab I had healing there, resulting in a bloody mess and some anxiety about repeating the same thing over again.


Another three days after that attempt I successfully redpointed Breakin’ the Law (5.14b), my hardest climb to date.

Sending! Pulling the first crux

Sending! Pulling the first crux

The head wall slab

Friday, April 7, 2017

Southern Utah Sandstone

After hanging off the limestone cliffs of south western Utah for a couple weeks we felt the calling of high desert sandstone. In need of a break for our bodies and minds, we set off to tour the National Parks and watch the sun set over the red-orange towers and cliffs of the Moab area. 

The first park on our list was Zion, which we visited with my parents at the end of March. The weather was a bit dodgy but it made for beautiful skies, and we did a couple short hikes to enjoy the views. 

Short hike to the Emerald Pools

Then, in early April, we set off to Bryce Canyon for the first time. We arrived in the evening and hiked through the hoodoos in the last light of the day. The air was cool and there was snow on the hills, which was added to the following morning. 

Evening sunlight on the hoodoos
Sunshine and snow
Wildlife along the Queens/Navajo Combination Loop
We awoke to morning snow! For camping tips:

Next up was Arches National Park just outside of Moab, in southeastern Utah. One of the things we really wanted to do while in the Moab area was climb some desert towers, so we decided that climbing is how we would experience the park. As we had never climbed a desert tower before, and we hadn’t climbed on gear in sandstone in over three years, we picked an entry-level tower as our first. The one-pitch 5.8 crack on the west side of Owl Rock was perfect. 

Graham getting set to lead
Summit selfie :D
Owl Rock: Our first desert tower <3
One of Arches' arches

While pondering what to do next our friend Michael Pang invited us out to join his campsite in Indian Creek. We hadn’t planned on driving down to the Creek but in the end we changed our minds. We are so glad we did. 

Sun rising in Creek Pasture campground, Indian Creek

The following morning we climbed the South Face (5.6) of the South Six Shooter – a big step up from Owl Rock in terms of adventure and a much more impressive feature. The North and South Six Shooters are just outside of Canyonlands National Park. They are huge, stand-alone towers in the middle of an expansive landscape. The one hour hike to the base of the climb was one of the most beautiful approaches we have ever done. The climbing itself on the South Face was mediocre at best, but the position and summit were amazing. We also took the opportunity to swap leads on the route, making it the first time we teamed up together for a multipitch on gear. 

The South (left) and North (right) Six Shooter towers
Views along the approach. You can JUST see our tiny van
We're gonna climb that thing!!!!!!!
Summit selfies again

In the afternoon we hiked up to meet Michael, Nina, and some of their friends at Cat Wall. We didn’t bring our rack, rather opting for the opportunity to spectate and be inspired. It worked – we are inspired, and can’t wait to come back and learn. 

Washing dishes instead of climbing.... Cat Wall in the background
Is Michael Pang teaching us to ring lock or showing us how to make shadow puppets?
Nina Caprez on her onsight of Cattle Call (5.12-)

Finally, we wrapped up our sandstone tour with a drive and small walk through the southeast corner of Canyonlands. 

Quick jaunt around Canyonlands NP

Now we are back in St George to continue to pull down on those tiny limestone edges with renewed psyche for our projects. 

Just before sunset in Indian Creek

Monday, March 13, 2017

Bishop 2017

We love this place. Bishop, California: land of snow-peaked Sierra mountains, rich-smelling desert sage, local donuts, baked breads, cheesy bagels and frozen yogurt. And beautiful, beautiful boulders.

We drove four long days from Mexico to California, to spend the first 10 days of March in Bishop. We were rushing to make it in time for the 2nd Annual Flash Foxy Women’s Climbing Festival. We met Shelma Jun, founder of Flash Foxy, last season. After volunteering in the successful, inaugural year we knew we had to make it back for round two. The event this year was a blast yet again, with more than two hundred women descending upon the small mountain town. Thinking you may want to attend next year? Click here for a quick recap that captures the vibe of the festival.

We traveled to Bishop with Chris, and met up with several friends including Paul and Janelle, Lea and Katie, and Rich and Senja, in addition to many new and old friends in town.

Lea and Katie - girls trip!

Some goofballs we hang out with :p

In climbing, we immediately felt the burn in our bodies that comes from a lack of power when one returns to bouldering following a hiatus, but that burn was a welcome change. 

Hard moves are harrrrrrrrd

By the end of our seven climbing days we were putting down classics and wishlist items. It was a fantastic short stint, and we (as always) can’t wait for our next visit.

Kim cranking over the bulge on Erotic Terrorist (V6)

Graham finessing his way up Hands-Off Slab (V0)

Graham = captain of the toe hooks on Captain Hook (V5)

Katie cranking moves over a sea of pads on Mr Happy (V5)

Kim tests some precarious heel hook beta on The Clapper (V6)

Graham climbing up from the depths on his send of Los Locos (V7)

Photo shoot of a photo shoot? Making moves on Paper Crane (V8)

Now we are off to Utah for the next two and a half months for a mixture of sport climbing, bouldering, trad climbing, and desert towers!