Monday, 23 June 2014

Bishop, Tuolmene Meadows, South Lake Tahoe And The Beginning Of The End

Tuolmene Meadows

After Cath headed back to Australia to hopefully get more reliable treatment and recovery, I headed to Bishop to meet up with some friends we had made earlier on the trip, Chris and Pam part of the Ontario crew. 
Salt Lake out side of Salt Lake City

The drive to Bishop was long and uneventful but as usual very beautiful. I arrived early in the day in the amazing town of Bishop, which is surrounded by beautiful mountains and an abundance of great climbing. We all met up, including Karin a friend of Chris and Pam’s in a nice little coffee shop on the main strip.

Driving to Bishop

Ancient Bristlecone Pine

The next few days we spent sport climbing in Owens River Gorge 
which is a great local crag with hundreds of climbing, mostly sport but some mixed and trad lines as well on river washed granite. We spent our time mostly doing onsight mileage.
Chris on the mega Classic Sheila 10a at Pine Creek

While on a rest day we went up on to White Mountain and visited the ancient Bristlecone Pines, some of which are over 4700 years old. There were spectacular to see. Looking almost dead except for a small part.

Pam crushing a 5.10d in Pine Cre

Me on the stunning arete of Eclipsed 5.11d

After Owens we headed up into the mountains a little more and spent the next few days at Pine Creek Canyon, which was amazing!

Again it is mostly granite sport climbing, the granite is perfect, the walk in is short and the setting is spectacular and it has beautiful free camping to boot!

Karin crushing a 5.10d in Pine Creek

After Pine Creek we changed things up a bit and spent a day bouldering at the Buttermilk boulders. It was a bit to hot to spend any large amount of time there but it was a must to visit. Pam and I promptly climbed till our fingers were raw and we couldn’t bear to touch the rock any more. The bouldering here is fantastic and we only scratched the surface.

Pam Bouldering with Chris spotting at the Butermilks, Bishop

The day after the Buttermilks was my birthday and although I was missing Cath a lot, Chris and Pam made up for it by taking me climbing at little Egypt, which was a fun little granite trad crag and then on to a natural Hot tub that looked out over the mountains.  They made burgers for dinner and bought me sweet cake for desert. All in all making it a very lovely day.

Birthday Hot Springs Hot Tub

We spent that night at the hot springs and had another hot tub in the morning (saving on showers) before we headed to Tuolumne Meadows

Mono Lake with its crazy stalagmites on the way to Tuolumne

Tuolumne is a magical place located above Yosemite at above 2600m. Cath and I had always wanted to go here together ever since our first visit to the states way back when. It was hard being there with out her, as I knew how much she would love it!
Pam’s neck was unfortunately playing up and therefore took time off from climbing while we were there and went hiking instead.
Chris and I could not contain our selves and headed of climbing on some of the best granite I have ever climbed on.

Chris seconding the amazing stemming pitch
on OZ/Gram traverse
Day 1 we did Oz/Gram Traverse 5.10d on Drug dome, which followed an amazing corner system to an enormous roof that we traversed under and passed on the other side of.
We finished this with time to spare before Pam returned to pick us up and decided to do On the Lamb a massive traverse across Lamb Dome just across the way. Unfortunately we got lost on the climb and climbed to high before traversing right and missed it altogether. We managed to summit however and still had a great time!

Chris points out OZ/Gram Traverse 5.10d a 5 star route! Heads up the big corner system then heads right 
all the way under the big roof to then head up again at the end

Rock ice axes on the approach to Lucky Streak 5.10d.

Day 2 we decide to do another 5 star 5.10d called Lucky Streak on Fairview Dome, which again was stellar climbing on immaculate rock.
Can you spot me on Lucky Streak? I'm leading the crux Pitch.

Unfortunately the camping at Tuolumne Meadows was not open which meant we had to drive up each day, which made for long days and a lot of money on fuel so we made the call to head to South Lake Tahoe/Lovers leap area.

We spend the first couple of days in this area climbing and camping at the Phantom Spires. A series of smaller outcrops with a mix of sport and trad routes.
The climbing is really fun but we soon feel like we want to move on to some other crags in the area particularly Lovers leap.

Pam leading on the Phantom spires
Me climbing the basket ball sized nobs
on the Phantom Spires

We took a rest day and head over to lovers leap, where my good friend from Oz, Mark Kendrick who was over attending a conference arrived to join us for the weekend.

Mark either angry at the sand bagging
or yelling for joy/relief after Traveler Butters,
Lovers Leap 
Me struggling on the Mega classic
Space Walk 5.11c, Eagle Lake.

We head up to climb at lovers leap, planning on some multi pitches that looked good. However I had forgotten that I have been climbing for nearly 9 months straight and completely sandbag Mark from the get go. We did manage to have a good day regardless and climb the excellent Travellers route on the main wall of Lovers leap and summit in good time.

The next day we head to the spectacular Eagle Lake Creek climbing area which is just stunning with a load of high quality single pitch trad routes right above Eagle Lake.

Eagle Lake

That night Mark headed back to his conference and the next morning Chris and Pam started their long drive home to Ontario. I headed to San Francisco to start the process of selling the Love Boat and prepare for the journey home.

Our amazing adventure is coming to an end.

For mor photos visit

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Moab, Utah. The ups and downs and a Hard Decision

Caselton Valley- Left to Right, The Covent, Sister Superior, The Priest The Rectory, Caselton Tower and Pariott Mesa(front right) at sunset

Cath and my time in Utah has definitely been a time of ups and downs.
Unfortunately Cath did not completely recover from her surgery earlier in the trip, as expected, and continues to be unwell with something that the doctors here don’t seem to be able to resolve, This has resulted in only a few days climbing for her over this time and the eventual very hard decision for both of us.
Cath headed home a few days ago to recover properly and see doctors in a familiar environment.
I am already missing her on this adventure we planned for so long together, but we are still hopeful she will be able to return in the not to distant future to resume our adventures.
As usual we have again been fortunate to be with amazing friends while in Utah, Eric and Dre who guided us around when we first got to Moab and the Steven and Carrie who let us stay with them making Cath’s time there much easier.
And Michael for hanging out with us and dragging me up some super sandbagged routes.

But not all things were bad in Utah we saw some amazing scenery and Cath and I got to climb the amazing Fine Jade 5.11a 5 pitches on the Rectory in Caselton Valley. Plus catching up with old and new friend is always awesome.

Here are some photo highlights from our time in Moab. 

Cath at Island in the Sky

Double Arch from below - Arches National Park
Carrie and Steven our savours
Michael doing what he does best - 5.13 oftwidth

Indian Creek at sunset

Get well Soon my Love!

Cath and I on Fine Jade 5.11a

For more photos see here: 

Monday, 28 April 2014

A Roller Coaster of a Ride in Vegas and Mesquite - Good Friends Save the day

Ever since we arrived in Vegas it has been a roller coaster ride, with many ups and downs.  We have had further car trouble and Cath has had to have an emergency appendectomy.
Despite this the one thing that has kept us on top has been the amazing people that have helped us through these times, good and bad.
Cath crushing before she get sick!
Shortly after arriving in Vegas we met back up with some of our favourite Canadian’s, Kyle and Leslie. We also met some of their friends from Ontario, Dave and Erin, who were kind enough to invite us to stay at their rental house in Vegas for the next week. This offer was too good to refuse, given there was a pool and a hot tub, to boot! We had a fun week hanging with these awesome people and sampling the fun bolted routes of the Red Rock Canyon.
The day of our last night in the house, Leslie and Dave get benighted on a big route on Mount Wilson. See story her here....

After enjoying the hot tub house with the awesome Ontarians, we found ourselves homeless.  We tried to find a free camp site a little way out of Vegas, unfortunately the area we found was riddled with gun shots, bullet casings and trees full of broken bottles and cans. We made a hasty retreat back to the paid campsite to find it full and in a last ditch effort to find a cheap option we ended up in a what appeared to be a SUPER dodgy motel. We arrived to find a prostitute out the front arguing with what we assumed were customers in their cars and a bunch of probably very nice but somewhat suspect guys hanging around the front entrance. We almost drove away, but had pre paid for the room and so sucked it up. Luckily we did because it was actually pretty luxurious!

Alan and Kate at Camp

Finally we made the move to the official campsite and shared a site with Alan and Kate, which was much more relaxed.
Climbing highlights during these times were Cath and I doing the mega classic Epinephrine, an amazing long route with 3 crux chimney pitches and a 3.5 hr walk off. Well worth it, although we certainly needed a rest day after it.
Craig and Ruth (again, from JTree) were also around and Craig and I did Drifting a 5 pitch 11c and Cath and Ruth went climbing each leading a couple of scary 5.10+ trad routes.

Porter and Cath  
Mexican Cartel Styl

We also meet up and climb with Porter Jarrod who I had met in the New River Gorge some years back.
After climbing we go for Mexican.  During dinner the “cartel” baseball team seem to be arguing in the back of the restaurant and we all wait for them to draw there guns eeek! Great little place and an interesting/fun night! 

Atop Cloud Tower 5.11d, 9 pitches
Our next adventure was Cloud Tower - again another mega classic. I managed to onsight both crux pitches!! 5.11d and 5.11c and get the rest of them clean.  Cath led her first 10d trad pitch of the trip.
After this good day our luck again changed and the Love Boat died a slow death on the way back to the campsite (after a week of increasingly loud putting)  and we barely limped into our camp L

Very fortunately for us our savior arrives back in town in the form of Steve Harry, down from Canada for the long weekend.
Super Steve
While the car was at the mechanic, Steve was amazing and picked us up from our camp site and ferried us around. And with the Help of Kyle and Leslie we have a great time till our van is ready to be picked up.
The ever smiling "no problem" Kyle

Finally we pick LB up and less than 10 mins later the brakes seize, and we manage to just get car back to mechanic and get them fixed. Steve and Kyle are back on taxi duty again for the next few days– thanks guys!

That night is Cath’s birthday and we feel a little lost with out the Love Boat. However Kyle and Leslie, Steve, Craig and Ruth, Brendan, and Porter rally and we go to BJ’s for amazing burgers and cocktails and then on to the red rock casino for bowling to make a great night of festivities for Cath’s birthday.

Finally the Love Boat is ready to hit the road again, and we spend one last day in Red Rocks climbing with Steve. Cath starts to feel sick, which is the start of the next saga……

Bocce at camp Team Weakness
The crew (now nicknamed Team Weakness due to our various array of injuries and illnesses) have moved onto Mesquite for some limestone sport climbing and we meet them there to strengthen up before getting spanked on the cracks at Indian Creek.
Unfortunately while in Mesquite Cath gets really sick, and after 3 visits to emergency in mesquite hospital we still don’t know what is wrong? We are both a bit stressed.
Again Kyle and Leslie, Craig and Ruth and Brendan and Eric are an amazing support during while we are there.
Cath recovering with a popsicle after an appendectomy

After the 3 visits to Mesquite we decide to go to the bigger hospital in St George about an hour away. Finally Cath sees a surgeon that is determined to work out what is going on, and eventually discovers appendicitis and Cath has an emergency appendectomy. Team Weakness visit the hospital bringing an assortment of gifts including a giant stuffed sheep who is now the team mascot.
The sliver lining of the getting surgery in the states is that our insurance paid for a suite in the best casino in town for 6 nights!!!!

Finally Cath is well enough to leave the hotel we spend one last night camping in Mesquite be fore heading to Moab.

On all trips, the people you meet and spend time with can really make the trip, and that has been especially true during this part of the trip. We have been privileged to meet some truly amazing people on this trip
A big thankyou to all the amazing people that we have met and have helped us out…. You have made our trip!!!!

Climbing News

We were lucky enough to be around when Leslie does her first 5.14a (32) Magnum Opus at the Grail. See pictures here Leslie 14a

I manage to Red point Voyager One a new 50m 5.13a (28) at the Grail on my 3rd shot and 1st of the day.

The same day I also Onsight Homo Faber 5.12d(27) which is my second at this grade!

For more photos click here: