Aug 23, 2011

95 degree cold

Before I digress into the meat and potatoes of this post. I'd like to share a video with the 5 of you who read this. (BTW I've got some trivia up on the right side so feel free to make me feel like someone actually reads this and answer the dam trivia question). I made this video a while back to commemorate some great times I had up in AK with the best partner I've had!

The Mantana Expedition from Kevin Volkening on Vimeo.

To all others who define their occupation as "student", I wish you the best of luck at making the most of your last week of freedom. Don't take this precious time for granted, because all too soon you will re enter the world of homework, quizzes, midterms, cramming, sleep deprivation, and an all around feeling like even though you think you control your own time . . . you really don't. Some professor sitting in an office arbitrarily assigning papers, homework sets, research projects, etc is indeed the puppet master controlling nearly how you spend (or at least how you "should" spend) every waking moment of your life.

If I seem to be a bit bitter about the upcoming arrival for school, it is only because my pitiful excuse for an immune system has once again let me down . . . during the worst time it could. The last week before school. Instead of spending the dwindling hours of summer trying to cram in one more pitch, one more day at the crag, or one more guilt free hour climbing; I've been sitting in front of my computer watching people do the very things I'm describing. Dynoing, deadpointing, grunting, sending, scared, and free while I'm sniffling, sneezing, groaning, moaning, and sick.

However, being the self proclaimed optimist that I hope I am, this time of sickened retreat has caused me to do a bit of self reflection in regards to my climbing life. (I chuckle to myself when I use the word climbing life . . . Lets be honest, I don't have a life other than climbing). The result of my introspective state has turned my gaze toward the future of cooler temperatures, sendtember, and rocktober! I hope the following list of desired sends will give me something to report back on in the coming months.
  • The Fugitive: I've tried this climb more this summer than any other. As of last week I was able to two hang her. My most coveted send and the top of my list! Amazing climbing with super crimptastic cruxes . . . this guy would be a 5 star pitch anywhere!
  •  Stranger Than Fiction: Began working this lovely short route last fall and have watched it go from an udder struggle to several one hangs. A great powerful line featuring a gnarly slap to an undercling! Try me try me!
  • Irukandji Syndrome: Again, a carry over project from this spring (or winter). Again, another one hang wonder. Hopefully the Boulder River drops a bit in the next few weeks and I can actually get to the base for the first attempt of the summer. Who says Montana doesn't have beautiful limestone? Incredible rock, incredible climbing, don't let the grade deter you from getting on this one, she's a beaut!
  •  Weapons of Mass Destruction: Got heartbreaking close to sending last winter before I pitched off attempting to make the 5th clip. Thanks to my now wonderful wife, she caught me just shy of the first bolt. This guy will have to wait however until the depths of winter due to the fact that I think there's more friction on a granite counter top than on this climb. Close your eyes and do these moves on some slightly more aesthetic rock and you've got a great climb! 
  • Songline: Had the wonderful opportunity to top rope this gem of route during the summer of 2009. Haven't been back since, but at the time I was able to complete all but one move. I hope this one falls quick as I'm not super keen on the hike up there! Perched high above all other in the canyon on some incredible stone. Setting up the TR is more dangerous than sacking up and leading it . . . so SACK UP!
  • Stigmata: The local list's wild card. Walked by her a million times, but I've never been on her. In my opinion, this is the most beautiful line in the canyon. 
  • If Peterbuilts Could Prance: Very excited about the potential of this line. I've taken several top rope laps and have the moves pretty well dialed. Think the lead attempt is going to be my next go! The safety rating only applies to the easier climbing above the bolts . . . if you can pull the moves down low than you better be able to pull moves up high.
Some Travel Required
  •  Tensleep, WY
    •  I don't want to offend any of the pocket pulling junkies out there . . . but this place just isn't my style. However, looks like climbing club is going to want to make a trip down there this fall. (I'll try to give everyone a fair warning of when this is happening . . .) Think this trip will feature a lot of attempts to onsight some rad pocketed stone!
  • Zion, UT
    • If anyone actually reads this . . . tell Marge she needs to get the weekend off to head down there with me! My big goal for this area is getting my beloved on her first mini-big wall!
    • Moonlight Buttress . . . Free: Mr. Dyess will be returning to the west for Thanksgiving and has planted another crazy idea similar to the B-Y in my head. But hey, at least this one is just C1 if you fall.   
  • Indian Creek, UT
    • So just in case anyone was wondering, Thanksgiving is in 84 days and thus that means the creek is in 84 days! 
      • Fingers in a Light Socket 
      • Sweeden Ringle 
      • Big Baby
      • Quarter of a Man
      • Big Guy 
      • Pente
      • 9 Lives
      • Puma
      • Kool Cat
      • Mad Dog
      • Bad Cat
      • Johnny Cat  

Aug 17, 2011

Married Man

I GOT MARRIED! So, now that life's had a chance to settle after the big day, I'm finally getting back to what I promised in my last post. A more detailed account of this summer's adventures.

My last post more or less described the events and experiences of the summer's first road trip. In case you missed it a quick recap can be found in the following photos. Enjoy . . .

One night spent at a rest stop, one busted tire, and nearly 30 hours of driving finally reviles the first road sign stating "Yosemite"

  A sleepy Captain

The Bronco made it! Washington Column dominates the skyline

Tate on one of the final pitches of "The Prow"

The view on the third morning looking toward our starting point

The final rays of the day striking Half Dome's North Face

Zion and the Streaked Wall . . . lifetime climbing goal

The beautiful sport climbs of Kolob Canyon, Zion National Park, UT
Thanks Conrad!

Since the "big" trip I'd been focusing primarily on getting ready to be married . . . however, I did manage to sneak out for a generous handful of adventures. These included many trips into Gallatin Canyon to work The Fugitive. One notable trip was with a good buddy, Lawrence, who nearly sent in one of the most fluid styles I've seen anywhere.

He heartbreakingly fell only a few feet higher after waling both cruxes . . . next time buddy!

The Sunlight Basin Region near the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone got a new two pitch route when my partner in crime Loren (see his blog and I headed that direction for some summer fun. We were returning for a second go at an established line called Salsa Verde which we had epically failed on weeks earlier. However,  with a Bozeman alpine start and a bit of intimidation from the weather forecast we found ourselves staring at a nice looking unclimed crack system in a nearby drainage. The route can be easily accessed from above from the Sunlight Creek Bridge parking area. The climb is on the upstream side of the bridge. If anyone is interested in the lines exact location give me a shout . . . it awaits a second ascent!

After nearly two hours of hanging, scrubbing, and anchor equipment we finally were able to climb two pitches of wide cracks separated by a dirty but comfortable ledge. Loren had taken the cleaning duties on the first pitch and thus sent his with no problem. This pitch offered extremely varied climbing with skills required from almost every page in the book. I took the lead on the second pitch rewarding our efforts with a long sustained slightly overhanging hand a fist crack.

 Looking at Cameltoe from across the river. Dotted line indicates location of first pitch is obscured by the large tree.

Route topo

Loren beginning to rappel over the first pitch for the route

 Loren sending the offwidth crux pod near the bottom of the first pitch

 Myself high on the second pitch

The condition of the jug line after inspection upon completing the route. Watch your ropes!

Finally, if all this wasn't enough to satisfy the endless need to climb one more pitch, my wonderful fiance turned her head one last time as I sneaked off to Index, WA with two of my best friends for several days. We had originally planned a small expedition into the Cirque of the Towers, WY. The record setting snow pack had other ideas, and 4 feet of snow at he trail head blocked our entry. Thus, we shifted gears and headed toward a new area for all us. Index, WA home of rain, drizzle, vagrants, mist, meth addicts, some more rain, incredible rock which is usually wet from the rain, trains, a little more rain, rocket dogs, Ricco's Pizza, and the Koren BBQ . . .  Despite the weather's refusal to cooperate, we were still able to get in multiple pitches each day as well as one longer route. Check out obviously lower town wall if your there, but don't miss Japanese Gardens, Godzilla, Sagittarius, Iron Horse, and Thin Slice. If your up at the Upper Town Wall make sure to walk to your left and get on Dana's Arch! Also, the local Korean-American couple who runs the general store serves up an incredible deal on their home made Korean BBQ. $4 for more food than you can eat, plus if your really nice it might even come with a free corndog! If camping in the area long term, the large pullout with the "Honey Bucket" has great riverside camping. Any of the sites up the road from the said area are on private property. The local sheriff was patrolling the area while we were there and removing trespassers. 

 Top Rope tough guying it on Dana's Arch (5.11)

 B-Rad on Steel Monkey, this pitch stays dry even while it is actively raining (5.12)

 Todd making some tech nasty moves off the belay on Davis-Holland to Lovin' Arms  (5.11 a/b)

 Myself venturing into the crux on Davis-Holland to Lovin' Arms

 The sleepy town of Index

 B-Rad finishing the crux pitch of DH-LA

 Greg making quick work of the final pith of DH-LA

Finally, the day of the wedding came and passed with ever so much joy! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to everyone who attended, helped, hung lights, put on the catering, played the music, laughed, cried, drank! It was a blast . . . to all of you who are considering it. If she's the right one for ya' then there shouldn't be ANYTHING holding you back. Sadly, I don't have any pictures to share due the the current format of the one's we have in our possession. However, facebook is a plentiful source as well as our photographer's Flikr account.

Last but not least, Marge and I went on a splendid "mini-moon" to the great state of Wyoming, visiting two of the regions premier climbing destinations. Cody and Tensleep . . . We spent our first day lounging around the Antelope Boulder with Marge coming extremely close to sending the Tuk while I got heartbreakingly close to Meat Hooks. However, the day was not all disappointment. The landing to Sir Hugeness has recently been Mworked and is much more attemptable. Sent after a few goes. We then went up to the Sheep Camp area and did more looking the climbing. The following day we spent most of our time exploring the Maze area with considerable time working on a really neat "V3" on the Heuco Simulator boulder.

Off to the land of buttery sickness . . . and into a style of climbing far from anything I've done before! I just keep telling myself Tensleep is a lot like calculus, just because it doesn't come easy doesn't mean you have to hate it. We were able to get on a few of the classics with my personal highlight being spending some quality relaxation time with my beautiful new bride.

Marge on "The Tuk", V3 


Cody night rodeo

Marge on a The Watchtower, a V2 arete on the Fort Boulder

Great sloper problem, Friender Bender, on the Rhombus Boulder (V3)

Marge Crucifying the Serpent on the Serpent Boulder, (V1)

"That was really only V2?" While Lhotse stares at ants in the background

"Dad, look I can hit myself in the head with a stick"



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