Saved Sandstone Festival

This past weekend the Minnesota Climbers Association hosted the "Saved Sandstone Festival" in Sandstone, MN.  In celebration of the acquisition of the Johnson land that lies across the Kettle River from Robinson park and holds some of the best boulders in the state, climbers from around the country came together to raise money for the organization that put so much effort into making that acquisition happen.  The weekend was full of sends, prizes were given out, pizza and beer were consumed, and most importantly of all the Minnesota climbing community came together to support what matters most to them.  I had a great time climbing a few boulders and seeing everyone get together.  Here are a few photos of the weekend, I hope you enjoy them!  You can also check them out on Flickr I should be adding a few more to that album over the next week.

The Kettle River and the River Boulder

Henry relaxing by the river.

Nic O. showing everyone how it's done on "The Best V5 in MN"

Caius cruising up the Tengo stand start.

The City of Sandstone water tower

Tyler H. making his way up a wall in Robinson Park.

Bryan and Sean of the MCA hand out raffle prizes

The Railroad Bridge over the Kettle River.

Summer Road Trip 2014 - Part 2: Day 1 at Rock Mountain National Park

When I last left off Candice and I were departing from the Badlands to head toward Rapid City. Once in town we paid for a shower at a Flying J truck stop and then we made our way to Mount Rushmore. This was my third time at the national monument, and while once is probably enough, Candice had never been, so we made a visit. I was able to get a few nice photos and the walk around the Presidential Trail was not a bad way to spend the morning.

The next few days were spent celebrating the marriage of Seth and Alana, two of my good friends from high school. After a wonderful wedding on Saturday, Candice and I departed for Colorado Sunday morning, where Candice would unfortunately have to catch a flight back to Minneapolis to go to work on Monday.

Once I had dropped off Candice and sent some emails for work from a Star Bucks I started towards Estes Park, my base camp for the next five days. As I was making my way west the sun was setting over the Rocky Mountains and I maneuvered the winding mountain roads in darkness. The wild species wasted no time in introducing themselves to me as I narrowly missed hitting an Elk that ran across the road.

Once I made it to Rocky Mountain National park I met up with Tyler and we then went to our camp for the night. The air was cool as a breeze came into our camp, and up above the night sky twinkled gloriously as light emanated from the stars onto earth. I laid out my crash pad and sleeping pad, and got into my sleeping bag to fall asleep under the stars.

The next day we would be heading up to Chaos Canyon in the afternoon, but we had a few hours to kill in the morning. When we woke up, Tyler and I went to Kind Coffee to get our caffeine and Wi-Fi fix. This would become a regular hangout spot throughout the week.

Ian and Erin met us at Kind and we made our plan for the day. We would meet up at Bear Lake to head to Upper Chaos Canyon in the early afternoon. I had aspirations to spend Tuesday night camping in the back country of Rocky Mountain National Park, so before we went out bouldering I visited the back country office to arrange my camp site. At the office I discovered that July was a busy time in the back country of the Rockies. All of the most convenient sites were taken, but sites were available at the Boulderfield under Longs Peak. This seemed like a prime opportunity to kill two birds with one stone and do some back country camping and climb my first 14'er. So I made the reservation and got my permits, then met Tyler in the visitor center parking lot to head up to Bear Lake.

It was a busy day up at the Bear Lake parking lot but we were very lucky and found a spot on our first lap! We got our gear out of the car, met up with Erin and Ian, and set off on the trail toward Lake Haihaya. Having been in Estes Park since the beginning of the summer and regularly hiking to the boulders, Tyler’s fitness was high and I did my best to keep pace. The elevation didn't seem to be having too great of an effect on me, but hiking uphill sure did burn. On the way up we went through pine forests and passed over mountain streams and there are great views of Longs Peak along some of the slightly exposed sections of the trail.

The Bear Lake parking lot - in the background, Hallet Peak can be seen on the left and Flattop Mountain on the right.

The view of Longs Peak from the trail

Once reaching Lake Haiyaha the trail narrows and a footpath leads to a section of talus. I hadn't done much boulder hopping previous to this trip, but my sticky approach shoes improved my confidence as we jumped from rock to rock. Looking ahead I could see the tops of Hallet Peak and Flattop Mountain, between which our destination of Upper Chaos Canyon resided. After carefully moving through a small snowfield and some more boulder hoping, we arrived at the Meadow Boulder. 

Ian and Erin moving up a snow field with Lake Haiyaha in the background.

We warmed up for a while, trying the various problems on the boulder and making terrible jokes about the problem called “Chad’s Bulge.” Once we had groped the bulge enough we went over to see “Terrorism Arete” and “Riddles in the Park.” Tyler had completed both of these boulders earlier in the summer, so he gave us the spray on the problems. Terrorism Arete is a proud line moving up a ships prow-like boulder. After falling low on the boulder for my first few tries I sussed out the bottom sequence and started making it to the lip of the boulder on my attempts. However, each time I got my left hand on the pinch at the corner of the boulder, and my right hand on a small crimp just over the lip, I couldn't make it to the next hold which seemed a world away being so far off the deck. We moved the pads back and forth between the two problems and I gave a few tries on some of the moves of “Riddles in the Park,” but it was definitely beyond my skill level. I was getting tired from my multiple attempts and wasn't feeling any closer to making the next move on "Terrorism Arete". 

Once everyone was ready to move on we went to check out “Blood Money,” a hard Daniel Woods line Tyler had his eye on. The problem starts with some violent compression moves on a roof, into a heel hook-centric sequence, then the crux gaston moves. Tyler and Ian worked away at the problem while Erin helped with the spotting, and I tried to capture their attempts with my camera. Seeing these two strong, experience climbers figure out the boulder problem was a great lesson in rock climbing. With each attempt the beta was refined, and the two started to make some good progress on the boulder. Tyler was able to work out all the moves and with a little wait to rest and let the temperature drop, began making send attempts.

Ian attempting Blood Money

The day was getting late and the guys were having no luck getting the send, so we packed up; Blood Money would have to go down another day.  As we trekked down the talus it began to grow darker, and not wanting to be caught on the trail in total darkness, Tyler and I ran down to the parking lot.  We eventually got back to the trail head in Roosevelt National Park where we were camping and, it being another beautiful night, I set up my bed under the stars and fell asleep after a great first day in Rocky Mountain National Park!   

Summer Road Trip 2014

I just returned from a great road trip.  I was able to visit Badlands National Park in South Dakota, and Rock Mountain National Park.  I saw many beautiful landscapes, hiked miles of trails, climbed my first 14er(Longs Peak), did some bouldering in Chaos Canyon, and met Tommy Caldwell!  I have a lot of pictures to go through and am hoping to create some gorgeous images to share.  I plan to have a write up of the first part of the trip published in the next few days, stay tuned!

4th of July Weekend - Part1: Barn Bluff

The 4th of July Holiday weekend was a busy time for me!  Now that I've finally got some photos edited I thought it was about time to share some of the fun that was had!

Starting Friday morning I met up with Nick, Wei, and Madeline to drive down to Red Wing, Minnesota to do some sport climbing at Barn Bluff.  Residing along the Mississippi River Valley an hours drive southeast of the Twin Cities, Barn Bluff is comprised of Oneota Dolomite, which offers many a crimpy hold for climbers to attempt to stick to.  This can be especially difficult in the summer months when the sun is beating down on the cliff face.  

Nick about to climb as Wei waits to belay

The day started with a warm-up on Looking For Lust(5.9).  I made my way slowly up this climb. The holds felt a little greasy, possibly sandy, and with each move I was unsure of where to place my feet.  But I stayed relaxed during the ascent and eventually made it to the top without taking a fall.

Nick making his way up!

From here we made our way around to the Cyclops Area.  Nick set up the draws on Work Ethic, and seeing him move up the route reminded me that I had tried this climb 3 years earlier during my first visit to Barn Bluff.  On my first go I fell a few times but eventually made it to the top.  I came back down for a rest and some water, then took a shot at Suicide Squeeze and managed to flash it!   

Brian, Wes and Madeline refueling.

After another rest period and a PB & J I was ready to give Work Ethic another shot.  I made it past the second draw and fell moving through the crux.  At this point I came down to the ground, determined to do the route from the bottom. I gave it another go (okay the two draws were still clipped, but who cares, right? :) This time I moved more confidently through the lower crux with some new beta which included a bump from one right-hand undercling to another slightly higher, before moving to the high left-hand crimp-rail.  Moving up the climb I came to another difficult spot with a right-hand gaston from which you have to move to a high left-hand pocket.  I sat there for what felt like several seconds.  It felt as though my right hand could slip from the gaston at any moment and my feet were not secure either.  But with my fellow climbers yelling encouragement at me from below, I knew I had to make it work.  I shifted the fingers of my right hand and managed to find a slightly more incut part of the hold and found a better left foot.  From this position I was able to step down on my foot, push with my right hand, and reach my left into the high pocket.  After this I moved my right hand up to a good jug and from there it was a cake walk.  The ascent may not have been in perfect style, but getting all the moves down in one go was still very gratifying, and I hope to make it up the wall more smoothly next time!

Ryan on Roof Burner

After clilmbing Work Ethic I was feeling pretty pumped. My climbing endurance is pretty poor considering I'm mostly a boulderer, but we battled on to attempt Living All Over Me.  This was probably my favorite route of the day.  There is some very cool movement in and coming out of the crux gaston move.  I managed to make it to the top hangdogging a few times along the way, but it's always good to have projects!