Friday, March 21, 2014



A light breeze rustled the small leaves covering the ground and whisked a fresh smell through my body as I glanced this way and that. I smiled and wandered on, in awe of the scene before me. My first day in the famed forest reassured me that I was at the beginning of a VERY exciting trip...

Le Coeur

Laura cruising Beetlejuice
REALLY nice line called Irreversible
Classic tortoise shell top out
Beautiful boulder filled with perfect edges 

La Baleine...perfect problem in every way
Anyone who enjoys bouldering has at least heard rumors and reports about climbing in Fontainebleau. For the past 11 years I had been dreaming of an opportunity to visit the endless stacks of beautiful sandstones. As I scampered up the first problems of my trip, I could barely believe it was actually happening. I was expecting Font to offer some of 'the best' bouldering I'd ever seen...and every day, it always did!

Tigre et Dragon, one of my favorite problems from the trip

Formis Rouge, one of the famed 'Big 5'

I climbed as much as my body and the weather allowed during my 20 day stay. Rainy days would force rest days, but they were almost always welcomed and needed. It ended up being a nice touch having the weather tell us whether or not we were climbing each day. By the end of my trip, I was able to climb 12 different days, visit a good hand full of the countless areas, experienced some fine 'French culture', and topped out 88 boulder problems that were new to me...all of which were enjoyable!

Squeezing up perfect fat guy grips on Controle Technique

2nd Generation dynoing on Rainbow Rocket

I was a slave to the olives in France...


Petit Bois

I can't wait to return...I'm already longing for the energy I found in those forests, for the way that rock feels under my fingers, for the inspiration drawn from just a glance at the beautifully sculpted holds, for the olives, baguettes and French wine...for more of the Fontainebleau experience.  

Monday, February 10, 2014

Team Flash

Trust-fall with Team Flash in Bishop

There's something about staring out the window at the falling rain/snow that brings all the dormant thoughts inside my head to light. Maybe it's because I'm being forced to stay indoors? Perhaps it's the turning of another chapter in my life? I've been here before, staring at a blank page that will soon become the direction of my life. A blank page that I have to somehow fill with my next's a liberating, comfortable, wonderful, yet stressful feeling!

A stormy hike on the East Shore

In October, I started working on a new project. This one was different than the typical, tall, beautiful, pure, boulder problem I often fall in love with...this project involved a job, and a goal with an end result that would hopefully (fingers crossed) resemble the image of a competitive youth climbing team. I was immediately captivated! My heart and my soul plunged head first into the was all I could think about, all I spent my time and energy on, my own climbing pursuits nestled into the back seat without even resisting. Coaching Team Flash was the most enjoyable 'work' I had ever done. Had I found my true calling in life? Was this my dream job? The program quickly expanded as those of us working on 'the proj' scrambled to keep up and learn how to 'coach' a team of blossoming individuals along the way. After four short months as their coach, my life was changed forever. You truly can learn A LOT from the younger generation(s) if you take the time to pay attention. The way they deal with life, solve problems, interact with one another, try hard, view their own progression, handle competition, deal with success, face failure, etc. is usually different than us 'adults' might work through the same's a spectacular thing to be a part of! I was hooked... 

Stefan topping out The Bowling Pin (v6)
A fun, fall day at Soda Springs
'Spicy' Dees keeping it together on her first highball
Brennan sussing the maneuvers on The Solarium (hardest v4 in the Happies?)
Shylee and Molly staying psyched in the Tablelands
Marina on problem #4 at the Divisional Comp in Seattle
'Big B' grappling with some Monzonite in the Buttermilks
Sam jumping toward the summit on The Whale Tail (v9)
Symone giving a free lesson on how to back flag on Fly Boy Left (v5)
Unfortunately, my time with High Altitude Fitness, and therefore Team Flash recently came to a close. It's crazy when something that means so much to you is taken away...I told all my kids on the team that sometimes life throws you unexpected curve balls. How we as individuals deal with and handle the hand that we're dealt is more important than what the pitch itself looks like...

Bishop trip group shot...that was an AMAZING WEEKEND!

Touching words from a couple of great friends...
My memory bank is overflowing with amazing moments I've shared with my team! I'm thankful to have had the chance to work with and get to know each and every one of them and I'm already looking forward to the future adventures we will get to experience together outside the walls of High Altitude! If you're reading this Team Flash, I'm extremely proud of you...and I'm honored to be able to call myself your teacher! Keep charging life, working hard, enjoying the moment (even when the moment is rough), and 'sending the proj'!! #beallyoucanbe #tryhard #yolo #teamflashlives
This emotional transition is a big piece of why I'm standing at a fork in the road, again...weighing options, dreaming big, and contemplating the physics behind what goes into the motion of the elusive 'next step'. I depart for France tomorrow! Fontainebleau is a place I've ALWAYS wanted to visit and I can't believe it's actually happening! I seem to be departing at a great time in my life and it will certainly be a magnificent stage to sit on while I contemplate what exactly I'm doing here on this earth. I'm always excited about the opportunities that can be found underneath an uncertain future...this time I feel extra excited for some reason... 

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Last Phantom Spire

The Phantom Spires standing proudly in front of a beautiful sunset

The Tahoe region is beautiful...INCREDIBLY so by my standards. The more days I spend here, the more my impression of it molds into a deeper appreciation and love for everything it has to offer. If you only enjoy road side bouldering, lots of V's behind your objective climb(s), super concentrated areas, or you drive a lowered vehicle, this place will not be your favorite climbing destination. What might we find today? Where are we even going to start? But what about the 'project'...? I usually feel like there's too much to see, explore, attempt and finish around here to make lofty stone-set goals...

You often find something perfect when you're not interested or searching to find it. I believe this can be said about other areas in life outside of climbing as well.

Contemplating my life while enjoying the view

I returned to Tahoe from the Utah desert on May 10th and drove straight to Donner Summit to have a look at a new problem my good friend Joel Zerr had established a few weeks earlier. I could tell it was an amazing problem from the way he had explained it to me over the phone...I had to go check it out ASAP! I smiled ear to ear as I drove along Donner Lake's edge that day admiring the vibrant colors of the Sierras...I missed this place! What I saw as I approached the climb was even better than what Joel had described to me, it was perfect...I stood at the base of the problem for two solid hours staring it down from all sides and walking through the beta over and over again in my head. I couldn't believe this thing even existed; how the hell did this remain unclimbed till now? Every person that has ever parked at the Star Wall or School Rock has seen it!! I finally walked away that night, feeling more inspired and more excited about this climb than anything I had come across on my road trip.

'The Drawing of the Three', v11ish

I strategically rested and warmed up the following few days with hopes of returning to attempt 'The Drawing of the Three' the following week. It was a perfect day. Conditions were grand and my psyche was high...a little too high. I had to fight to keep myself calm all day since I wasn't slated to meet Joel and Jake until 4:00 PM. Having already been awake for over 9 hours, we were finally climbing!! I was nervous but excited. I knew what to do and I could tell this problem was my preferred style. It was an emotional ascent and the problem earned a spot on, and bumped a beautiful climb from the list of my top five favorite climbs. I was elated! I felt certain there was no way I could possibly climb a better problem or even one that was equally grand for a long time...maybe ever?

The Insanity's insane!
A day or two later, I greeted Jon and Dave as they returned from bouldering at an area called 'The Ghosts' and both of them immediately began spouting to me about this beautiful, mega highball project they thought would be possible; they both claimed it had my name on it. I went back with them to check it out the following week and, again, my mind was blown. THIS thing, is INSANE!!!

The Phantom Spires...
Raddest boulder ever?

The Phantom Spires tower out of an alpine wilderness in the Sierra Nevada Mountains on a scenic, stair-stepped-like hilside above highway 50. Warren Harding and John Ohrenschall first climbed the Upper and Lower spires in the mid 1950s before the modern age sport and trad routes that would come throughout the following fifty years. At the crown of the mountain and atop the final stair in the hill, a massive boulder stacks perfectly to the edge of the steep decline that plunges down the hillside toward the Upper Spire. The setting is serene. The view is spectacular. The rock is amazing. The line is unbelievable. The movement, and for that matter the height of the problem, is pure insanity...  

First Session trying the problem
Sunrise from camp above the Spires
Sunset from the same camp spot

I was hooked! My priorities shifted and it was all I could think about and all I wanted to climb on. Motivation was high; I even started training...

Hangin' with the proj and the Kona dog on a non-climbing, training day

Day 3: I fell from the crux move high on the problem. I looked up at the climb as I stumbled to my feet and noticed I had just broken a key hold and it was now significantly worse...'Damn' I it's even more challenging.

Jon and I hiked 10+ pads down to the proj between the two of us on four separate visits...even bouldering can be high commitment and can feel like a big objective!
Day 5: I knew I was going to do it some day...I HAD to! Over three weeks had passed since I first saw and tried the proj and my last two sessions on the problem were, so far, less productive than my first three. I broke through my slump and got to my high point that day, falling from the final crux move on one of my last attempts. Each day that I left the problem without success added to my excitement and psyche. I began to almost enjoy failing because that meant I got to keep thinking about it, wanting it and working toward it.

Day 6: Seth, Jon and I were amazed by the conditions. A nice breeze was swishing around us, the air temp was roughly 60 degrees and the sun blazed overhead in a cloudless sky. Had I let go of the overpowering desire to finish the problem enough to free my mind and allow my body to relax and just climb? My mental and physical limits teamed up with the weather that day and I found the head space I had been waiting for...I topped out the mountain that day, holding back tears of joy cause boys, as you know, don't cry.

Holding the crux foot release
I named the problem 'Crown Jewel' and it truly is a dream climb for me! By my standards, the journey to complete it composed the best experience that climbing can offer. I know I will find another project that produces similar feelings and requires as much commitment someday, but for now, I'm certain it's THE best problem I've ever seen anywhere. (My friend Jon Thompson was there with me all six days rolling the cameras...some day there will be a video to share).

The view from the top of the 'Crown Jewel'...felt like topping out the world!

It has been extra special for me to return 'home' from such a long stint on the road where I visited some of the most famed bouldering areas in the country to find two separate problems that topped the charts and surpassed (by my snobby standards) any rock I saw on my journey. To me it speaks loudly about the quality of the bouldering that can be found in the Tahoe region. It's been an honor to have been adopted into the Tahoe culture and gifted a spot among the true locals. I hope that Dave Hatchett's new Tahoe Bouldering Guidebook series will allow for everyone else in the climbing community to enjoy Tahoe as much as I do! 

Thanks for taking the time to read...I hope you're all enjoying some summer fun and I hope to see you out at the rocks!    

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The good, the bad and 'the bay'

The thought of paying a visit to my former 'hometown' had me shuffling through pages filled with mixed feelings...most of them being excited ones. My experience living in the Bay Area had been a memorable one. I always love the chance to re-visit someplace that I am fond of so it didn't take much to convince me to make the trek out of the mountains and into a seriously civilized and hip society. I went straight to work, visiting some key players in my life's script and rushing around to some of my favorite places I had grown to love throughout the eighteen months that I spent living in that crazy place. The people (lots of them), the setting, the beauty, the familiarity of it all even while squinting to see past the layer of culture shock...I gasped for air through the perception of my senses while attempting to take it all in; oddly enough it was extraordinarily enjoyable. I spent time hanging on the Marin coast, in classy coffee shops, running around ring mountain, tasted some California rain, saw countless beautiful women, fancy cars, rad hangs, had to pay to cross bridges, went shopping, wandered and ran down endless trails, and even dared to go climb in a gym. The fun to be found is endless if you have enough time and money to go look for it...

My mornings in Tahoe 
My mornings in 'the bay'
En route to the big city...see the psyche in those eyes?!?

Turtle Rock, in a field, atop Ring Mountain

Kinda pretty

What a foreign place for having resided within its walls for so long. It felt as if I were a tourist with a dulled and more relaxed impression of the places I felt I knew. I'm in awe of cities like these, and smile at the thought that they are frequently, even by myself, lumped together and referred to as one place...'the bay'.

Artwork at the Presidio
Beach time in the city
Tourist-ing about
Coffee is good for the heart and the soul

Had a blast paying a visit to and climbing at the brand new Dogpatch Bouldering Gym!

The gym is HUGE with towering 17' walls, every angle imaginable, and lots of top out boulders...HIGHBALL

Breaking the rules and heel-hooking in the gym
So many situations and events have added up and left me knowing and loving two very different styles of California life...After all, that IS life right? It's interesting to observe and reflect on how and why people choose, and/or live such drastically different realities with such drastically differing ambitions. The fire for life seems to be ignited and kindled in countless ways depending on an unending list of factors that fit in to each individual's background and personality. I'm happy to be alive and in it, watching, learning, refining, and in search of what's next. What good clean fun taking time to explore the adventure and uncertainty found inside this life continues to be. Now, back to the rocks!!