Friday, December 28, 2007
Sunday, December 9, 2007
New jewel planned in crown of trails: Walk-for-A-Day
November 10, 2007
For years, the City of Austin has quietly acquired thousands of acres of open space in western Travis and northern Hays counties but has offered the public few opportunities to enjoy them. Now, a nonprofit conservation group wants to use a small portion of that land as the foundation of a 34-mile trail from Barton Springs Pool to the city-owned Onion Creek Preserve at FM 150 near Kyle. The exact path and cost have not been determined.
The project is expected to take as long as five years and to be paid for with contributions from numerous public and private entities. The Hill Country Conservancy believes that city land can be used to form all but eight miles of the trail."Because of what the city has already done, it's not a task that seems to me out of reach," said real estate attorney and conservancy President Steve Drenner.Many details concerning funding, construction, maintenance, ownership and permitted activities have yet to be determined, but Austin is supportive of the project, which the conservancy has named Walk-for-a-Day.
See links for more info:
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
“Invisible Slayer” in my opinion is now one of the best 5.11 routes in the Austin area. Around the corner in “The Pit” there are several other routes that would likely top the charts as well. Actually, there are many other, even harder, routes that have yet to be sent, leaving opportunities for a few first ascents (FA).
The area is small and has limited parking, but is an amazing climbing spot with routes that are sure to become Austin classics. When you walk in you are not horrified by a long approach. It’s actually only about 20 yards. You then make your way down a series of steps and ladders (sorry no dogs allowed). At the bottom you find a small canyon reminiscent of the Black Corridor at Red Rocks. The Pit hosts about 10 + routes on either side ranging from 5.8 – 5.12.
On the other side, facing the river, there is a monster traverse with several exit options and a witches stew (ok, that was bad) of routes ranging from 5.7 to 5.13. And yes, I mentioned river. The area is about 20 yards from the Pedernales River, making this a good spot to hit in the summer. Not only for the swimming, but because the temperatures in the canyon appear to be about five degrees cooler.
What? You only boulder? Don’t worry, there are over 20 boulder problems and likely more development to be had. So, if you want to check it out, visit John’s website and set up a visit. It’s private land so you have to check in with him first.
Web site description:
“Monster Rock (MR) is a private rock climbing area near Austin, Texas, currently hosting day-pass climbing for $5 on scheduled weekends announced on Austin Climbers, Climbing Buddies, and Erock Online forums. The day pass also lets you compete for prizes in a laid-back ongoing climbing contest. Soon, access will be available via affordable annual memberships.”
Monday, November 5, 2007
The article introduces Sharma's new film King Lines and does a good job of introducing readers to the sport via Sharma's words.
Check the article out for more...
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Please register now for Monster Rock’s Onsight Contest. Simply email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with:
1. your return email address
2. phone in case you change emails
3. your highest redpoint in the last 12 months. (I’ll confirm this with witnesses when determining the winners.)
The property is small, so I’ll schedule manageable sized groups (16-20) on weekend days 11am-sundown, until everyone’s done. We can exchange emails to coordinate a day when you can come. The cost is $10 on that day.
If you aren’t interested in competing, register anyway to climb recreationally on your scheduled day. This is a cheap way to preview MR to help determine whether a membership will be worth your money.
Forms and Information on the contest are at http://www.freewebs.com/johnhogge/onsightcontest.htm (but the rules are subject to change prior to the comp).
Information on Monster Rock is at www.monsterrock.info
This is a simple, mellow, two-bit back-woods Podunk one-horse-town comp run by 1-2 people to provide an interesting game for previewing MR. It will look pretty simple compared to those big city-slicker productions Limestoner and Gripper; no freebies such as t-shirts, Cliffbars, or discount coupons. No slide show at the end of the day. No bling besides the rock and some intense fun.
Friday, October 26, 2007
I definitely feel like the different styles I climbed and different rock types, ethics, partners, etc. all helped me improve. However, the move from Cali to Texas definitely didn’t help my endurance. I don’t think I have climbed more than a handful of times in the past three months. I don’t even want to talk about my diet.
Regardless, being back at my hometown crag, where I started climbing, has been great. Not only because I have great local climbing partners and tons of limestone to crawl, but because I get to come back to the rock that I have plateau-ed on so many times with a new skill set and a new, diversified background.
The only bad thing is I think the NY and CA prices followed me back. My once $3 entry fee at the local crag is now a whopping $8. But, it was still worth it.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
A few weeks back I went to Vegas to visit some friends, Jarrett and Crista, and climb some of the area crags. Our first stop was the Roost out at Mt. Charleston.
The area is named after the tourist attraction, Robber’s Roost, which often results in climbing becoming more of a spectator sport. The Roost is one of Vegas’ local summer crags with climbers visiting weekly. The drive is comparatively short as is the approach and many of the routes even have fixed draws to speed up the process, at least when hikers or other climbers haven’t snagged them.
I found a great route, Highway Man, which I thought I might try to flash. This did not happen. I actually didn’t even send it. Best I could guess, I rested too much. The route was long. The crux was at the top. Actually, the top 20 feet out of about 80.
My theory at the time was that I would climb up right below the crux and rest on these two decent crimps. I would shake out for a minute or two, then head half way through the crux before trying to rest again on crimps about half as good for another minute or so trying to get my heart rate and pump down. I hadn’t been climbing much lately and felt my endurance would crumble in the long crux.
This turned out to be my biggest mistake on this route. Although my pump went down slightly and my heart rate leveled out, I still had to finish out about 10 feet of strenuous crimpy climbing. Resting on crimps was not the answer. If the remainder of the route had been steep jugs, resting would have been a good idea, but it wasn’t.
The best thing for me to have done would have been to just bite down and go for it from the bottom up. At the least I should have left that last rest out. I almost always try to get a good shake out before a crux, but that apparently isn’t always the answer. You have to find a balance of resting for endurance yet not resting too much and ruining your power, especially on crimps. Although I didn’t send the route, I definitely walked away with some knowledge.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I recently bought the newest version of BD’s Momentum harness. The new harness has several upgrades and technical improvements that made it worth the buy. What I am most excited about is that they added an elastic Velcro band to prevent you from having to do yoga moves to keep your harness on your waste while strapping in. The material is also finer making it much more comfortable and allows it to glide through the buckles with more ease.
Overall the weight of the harness seems significantly less as well. The fabric seems to be much less rigid and the foam more comfortable. My biggest complaint about their previous version was that the plastic “stays” on the waste belt portion that hold the gear loops into place would dig into your waste if you were hang dogging or if you were belaying someone who was hang dogging. That was one of the most annoying things I had ever experienced about a harness. Luckily, this is not the case with the new version.
Although the new version is much more comfortable than the previous, my first day out I took two really big whippers and had bruises on my waste I had never experienced before that lasted about four days. I am not sure of the harness constricts more or if I am just gaining weight.
Black Diamonds description of the Momentum harness:
“The Momentum is functional across all disciplines. The waistbelt and leg loops are padded with seven millimeter closed-cell foam for comfort and lined with BD-Lux for breathability. The anatomically contoured, bullhorn-shaped waistbelt and Y-style leg loops allow unrestricted movement yet still provide support. An excellent, affordable all-around harness, it is equipped with four molded gear loops and a full-strength haul loop, so it’ll hold enough draws for a bolted endurance fest or enough pro for a gear-eating crack.”
I agree with everything except the last statement. That is actually my only complaint with this harness is that the gear loops are super small and really only hold about 5-6 draws each – not ideal for trad climbing or long multi-pitch routes requiring a lot of gear. Also, the main loops connected by the belay loop is smaller and a little harder to work with. It’s not restrictive, but will take a little getting used to.
Overall I would give it a 9 out of 10. Here’s the breakdown:
Waste belt: 10
Leg belts: 10
Belay loop and connected harness straps: 8
Gear loops: 7
Ease of use: 10
Price: Low at $43
Friday, September 14, 2007
The area referred to as La Bufadora means blowhole in Spanish and is essentially a marine geyser that spouts every time a wave blasts through an area of underwater caves sending a spray of ocean water and a thunderous roar. According to WikiPedia, “folklore describes a baby whale entering the underwater cave over a century ago and becoming stuck. The spout of water is from the whale’s blowhole.”
La Bufadora is located on the
Jen and I headed from LA down to
The crags were deceiving. They looked like perfect climbing spots, but would crumble in your hands as you applied any sort of pressure. The tide pools were amazing though. They were like little underwater gardens spread all along the beaches. Each pool had its own diverse set of sea life.
Although we only saw a few, in the distance we always heard the constant “barking” of sea lions off in the distance. It sounded like there must have been a beach full of them, but we never ventured far enough to find them. We did go fishing one of the days and caught a fish that I have yet to identify. Stay tuned for that.The Sunsets were madness. Each night the sky would explode with color over the ocean and the mountains behind us with all the succulent plants would contrast against the brilliant colors. Some of the best sunsets I have ever witnessed.
On the way back, Jen and I stopped by Porto Nuevo to sample their famous lobster and margaritas. If it wasn’t for the heat we may not have ever left.
Friday, August 31, 2007
Earlier this month my friend Justin and I packed up the truck and headed to Idyllwild to see what all the fuss was about with Tahquitz and Suicide Rock. Right off the bat we were impressed with the 45 degree uphill hike that put a burn in our legs and about drained half of our water supplies. Our first day we hit Suicide Rock and climbed a mellow two-pitch route to get a lay of the land and give me a chance to get my trad feet back under me. It had been almost two years since I was climbing trad regularly out at the Gunks and I had only placed gear once or twice since out at Joshua Tree.
Day two we headed straight to Tahquitz with a very slow start in our day not even reaching the crag until about . We decided to take down an “easy” multi-pitch 5.7 on the north side of the rock. Pitch one was kinda dicey in that I definitely didn’t have enough small pieces to be on that route and had to get creative and run it out at the top. The belay ledge was confusing in that it seemed non-existent, was very uncomfortable and there weren’t great placements to make it a relaxing experience.
Next, I headed off on pitch two where I was about twenty feet from the next belay ledge and about fifteen feet run-out before I realized there were no placements under a #4 cam, which I had none of. Evidently, the guide book stated you need plenty of small pro and up to a #4 cam. Ooops.
At this point I didn’t feel like taking any more chances and getting to a belay ledge where I had no pro that would fit and would be belaying for a beginner who was only on his second day of trad climbing and maybe sixth day of climbing at all. We were also out of water, baking in the sun…the list of excuses goes on and on. Instead of continuing to run it out and top the mysterious route, we decided to bail – submitting to Tahquitz.
Regardless if I got put in my place, we got some great experience out of it and enjoyed the time we had on the rock and in Idyllwild. Overall I highly recommend the area, but would definitely suggest you climb only the starred routes, which this was not one of.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Merrick Ales, a photographer in Austin, Texas, is known for having a picture or two grace the pages of climbing magazines, but this time his shot earned him September's cover of Rock & Ice magazine. The shot of Andrew Oliver soloing a route over the waters of Lake Travis is definitely spectacular.
Water soloing in the area isn't new, but its long been a local secret that rarely made it outside of the Texas borders. The proliferation of water soloing on the lake outside of Austin has grown dramatically as people like Andrew, Merrick, Rick and others have been searching high and low for new rock in the Texas Hill Country.
I highly recommend grabbing your floaties, a pair of old shoes and cooler and hitting the cliffs of Lake Travis.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
In late September Jeff Jackson's new "Texas Limestone Bouldering" guide book should be arriving on the shelves of Whole Earth Provision Company, REI and other Texas outdoor shops. You can also order an e-copy today if you just cannot wait to get your hands on it.
According to Sean's site, www.erockonline.com, the book will cover "nearly every" boulder problem in the areas covered (central and north Texas) and includes 1,350 routes with just about any rating known to climbers. The book goes at $24.95 plus shipping and handling unless you pre-order getting it at a cool $12.
Here's the description posted on erockonline, which is also found in the link below:
"Jeff Jackson's magnum opus comes in the form of Texas Limestone Bouldering. This book covers so many areas around Texas that the local and visitor alike will never be without a new project at every destination. Complete with amazing pictures from local Austin photographer Merrick Ales, a forward by Andrew Bisharat from Rock and Ice, and excellent maps and topos, this guidebook is a must have for anyone who has ever carried a pad on their back! Descriptions are included for nearly every problem."
I just ordered mine. Stay tuned for a review later this fall.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Okay, so it wasn’t actually Elvis, but Elvis was invoked by my legs as I found myself run-out on a slab route in the blazing heat at Devil’s Punchbowl, a conglomerate crag outside of Los Angeles.
It was so hot the other day when a climbing partner and I went out to no man’s land to get a change of scenery from the local crag. The sun was beating us down and the dirt was so dry it felt like we were walking in an ash tray, but the climbing was still excellent.
We got our warm ups in and even sent a stiff 5.11 with a slabby crux before heading to the true 5.10 slab routes. We were super dehydrated and worn out from the sun when we decided to test our balance and mental strength. As I cruised through the bottom section, and even through the crux slab section leaving me a little over five foot run-out I was fine. It was when I got about 15 foot run-out when Elvis started playing.
I had made it through all the hard part and was on pretty descent sized holds when I decided to look down and see my rope blowing in the desperate wind leaving me to believe a fall would deliver me about 30 feet down and about 10 feet above the ground (before rope stretch). All of the sudden those big holds didn’t seem good enough. I have to give myself some credit, the rock wasn’t as solid as you would like, but still, I feel like I should have the experience to hold it together and not get the Elvis Leg Syndrome in that situation.
Since then, most of my training has been mental. Went out to Tahquitz and Suicide Rock to run-out some trad routes on easy grades (more on the successes and failures of that trip to come), have been pressing for hard top-outs at the gym and went bouldering today at Horse Flats where there were plenty of high-ball bouldering problems. So far it seems to be helping, but if anyone has any other tips for strengthening your mental…please comment with your beta.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Of course Five.Ten’s Anasazi isn’t a new shoe, but they did make improvements to the heel and slap their new Stealth Onyxx rubber on it for a V2 release. Five.Ten claims the new Onyxx rubber is “25percent more friction and twice the durability of other rubbers.” And, after trying them out for a few weeks, I have no doubts about that. I will chime back in later about the durability claim. My last two Anasazi’s blew out fast.
The heel improvements were supposed to make it more comfortable, but I never had an issue with the original heel from the V1. The new heel also has texture holes on the outside, which has come in handy more than once.
Before switching over to the new Anasazi I went through five pairs of the La Sportiva Cobra (R.I.P.). The rubber on those was just as sticky as the Anasazi only the toe was so precise. If I were to have one complaint about the Anasazi it would be the toe. Although I haven’t had much of an issue, the toe doesn’t seem to be as precise as it was with the Cobra. Also, I think a slight curve at the toe would help with precision. Nothing too severe, but just enough to give you that edge when you’re toeing in on a horizontal foothold and rocking over.
Overall I would give it an 8 out of 10. Here’s the breakdown:
Price: High at $135
Thursday, July 19, 2007
After about two hours of commuting through the smoggy urban sprawl that is the Los Angeles metropolitan area we started our ascent into the San Bernardino Mountains . The drive up until this point is mind numbing with repetitive strip malls, In & Outs, condemned looking buildings, warehouses and what appear to be dumps. Los Angeles can sometimes seem to be a paradise that has been abused for way too long.
Once we get close enough the mountains start to appear through the haze. Next thing you know we're at over 7,000 feet elevation and what appears to be 100s of miles from LA. The Holcomb Valley Pinnacles are hidden in the San Bernardino Mountains outside of Big Bear Lake. The free camping, remote location and amazing climbing make for an excellent escape from the local sweltering crags and bustling city. Although still quite hot during the day in the sun, you can still find plenty of shade and sticky granite to cling to.
To get to the crag you end up driving for about 30-45 minutes down a 4x4 trail that seems to be made only for dirt bikes or horses. But, once you arrive, you are parked within 10 meters of the nearest climbs and can set up camp wherever you please. As my friend Hong likes to put it: You could literally roll out of your tent and grab the first hold on the route.
The climbing is excellent with ratings ranging from 5.fun to 5.12c(ish). Although mostly bolted, there are also many opportunities to whip out the gear and make your way up cracks or chimneys. The routes offer slab, flakes, roofs, mantles, jugs and just about anything else you could imagine. And, not only is the area aesthetic, but the routes often feel exposed (well, exposed for single pitch routes) yet are well protected. Most of the routes are 5.10, but there are plenty harder ones to keep you busy for a weekend.
Justin rapping in fine form. SoCal Ladies: If you're impressed with this stud call 281-300-8392 for rapp lessons.
After two days of hand numbing cranking we begrudgingly made our descent back down under the cloud of haze and eight lane highways leading to five days of commuting to work before getting back out to do it all over again. Who knows, maybe I'll finally get up to Yosemite this weekend…if it's not too hot.
Friday, July 13, 2007
Although primarily arid, it’s starting to get quite hot here in SoCal. Most of the climbing areas either have long approaches with no shade or no relief at the crag – in the LA area at least. Most people are heading for high altitude areas around Big Bear and Idyllwild. In a sense it’s good because it forces you to venture away from the local crags. I was really hoping it would give me an excuse to get out to
On the east coast it seemed to be the other way around. It was impossible to climb during the winter and the best times to get out were all throughout the summer months. I guess some folks would venture up into the
I was in central
I hate to make it sound like I am complaining…I mainly wanted to point out this change in seasons which forces us to venture to new or at least different crags. It naturally influences us to change up our climbing routine and keeps us from developing a comfort zone and resorting to the same ol’ same ol’. Use it as an excuse and get another road trip under your belt.
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
I have to catch myself and make it happen sometimes before I go completely insane. I find that if I have had a hard day at work or if other things are getting me down, climbing will always bring back to a good balance and put a smile on my face. It's sometimes hard to explain to people, not everyone gets it unless they have an obsession as well.
Climbing isn't the easiest passion to have. It often takes your entire day to get out to the parking spot, hike to the crag and get a few routes in. It also can often wear you out for the night – killing your social life. Also, to keep from getting bored you need to change it up on occasion by taking a road trip or if you're lucky going to some climbing spot overseas. It's not as easy as picking up a guitar for a few hours or taking paint to a canvas in your garage (not to discount any of those passions).
Climbing can be high maintenance, but it worth every minute and ounce of energy...we just need to convince our significant others of that.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
And, lately I have been working 60 hour weeks and couldn't possibly have the time to climb outside during the week. It's great to train during the weekdays at the gym then go outside on the weekends and be able to see a clear difference in performance in just one week.
So, don't sell your self short...stay motivated and strong.
Friday, June 22, 2007
There are great multi-pitch routes, cracks and trad routes, challenging boulder problems and tons of pumpy, technical or slabby sport routes. Really, the only thing I would change about it is the camping. The camping at 13-Mile campground is not great, but it’s enough. Beyond that, you can always find a good deal at one of the casinos. Your flight would typically be cheaper if you booked the two together anyway. Just fight the temptation to play craps all night or you’ll be napping at the crag rather than performing at your peak level.
Friday, June 1, 2007
Jen and I just got back from an amazing trip to Guatemala. We weren’t 100 percent sure what to expect when we got there, but as always, things fell into place.
We started our trip by taking a shuttle directly from the Guatemala City airport to Antigua about 45 minutes away. Antigua is a city in the central mountains of Guatemala that is famous for its baroque architecture, church ruins and flowing volcano. We ended up having a mellow day exploring the market, cobblestone streets and a bit of the nightlife before moving on.
The next morning we took a bus to Chichicastenango (Chichi), known for its indigenous market that caters partly to tourism, but also provides much of the goods and services for locals. You can get anything from chicken feet or textiles to machetes there. After about four hours of haggling vendors, Jen and I headed straight to Panajachel (Pana) on Lago Atitlan (Lake Atitlan).
After getting a feel for Pana we decided to go on to one of the more low-key lake villages about a 30 minute boat ride away. The village of San Marcos ended up being our home for the next two nights and was one of the most amazing places we went. For the most part there weren’t any streets or automobiles. There were just cobblestone or dirt paths that traversed the bay. You could easily get from one end of the village to the other in 15 minutes. Many people visit the area for its yoga and meditation retreats, but several travelers were just there to soak up the tranquility like us.
The entire lake was surrounded by volcanoes that peaked at over 10,000 feet. It was a sort of highland jungle and the water was clear green and warm. The lake was surrounded by limestone crags, yet most of the rock looked loose and chosy. There were however several cliffs breaching the water that looked quality.
Regardless, San Marcos was a mellow place that had low cost accommodations and food. You can also load up on plenty of Gallo (local beer) with an amazing view for next to nothing. I highly recommend it.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
I just got back from a long weekend in
The crags in
Many of the climbers are active in ensuring access and developing climbing areas as well. Just recently, the future of climbing in Reimer’s Ranch was solidified with help by the Central Texas Mountaineers and the Access Fund who assisted the county in purchasing the land rather than it going to a private developer. Additionally, the county bought up another area next to Reimer’s that holds the promise to nearly double the amount of routes in the area.
In my opinion
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
This week I have received several “calls to action” by fellow climbers and the Access Fund aimed at reestablishing access for climbers in one of LA’s most popular crags that had been shut down years ago for conservation reasons. I invite you to assist us in regaining access to the crag.
The below Action Alert was sent to me by the Access Fund:
Forest Service Proposes Williamson Rock Trail to Reopen Climbing Opportunities in the Angeles National Forest at Williamson Rock, CA
Your Comments needed by June 6th
The information can be found at: www.fs.fed.us/r5/angeles/news/2007/news-2007-05-10-comments-on-williamson-rock-access.shtml and www.fs.fed.us/r5/angeles/documents/final-williamson-rock-scoping-ltr.pdf
Positive comments from the climbing community are URGENTLY NEEDED in the form of a written letter (preferred over e-mail).
Quantity is CRITICAL we need a lot of climbers to write in, so forward this to your climbing partners!
Here are some points you may wish to include in your comments:
1. State why climbing at Williamson is important to you.
2. The climbing resources at Williamson Rock are very valuable to climbers locally and around the world.
3. Due to its high elevation and proximity to the Los Angeles basin, the High Desert region, San Bernardino, and even San Diego, Williamson Rock is the most heavily used and most important resource available to climbers that live in or are visiting the Southern California region in the summer.
4. The MYLF and climbing can co-exist.
5. Climbers respect the wilderness and are committed to access and conservation.
6. Climbers are willing to help with monitoring and to work with the USFS and other agencies to mitigate the problem.
7. Contact info (include name and email)
Your comments may be sent through the mail to the following address:
John F. Capell, District Ranger
Attn. Jonathan Schwartz
Santa Clara/Mojave Rivers Ranger District
30800 Bouquet Canyon Road
Saugus, CA 91390
or preferably via email to:
Background: The Williamson Rock area is a well-known recreation site used predominately for rock climbing. It has been used by climbers since the 1960's and is widely regarded as a unique rock climbing resource for the entire
The Williamson Rock area has been temporarily closed since December 2005 to protect a frog, which is an endangered species listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Populations of the frog are known to exist within the closure area. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated approximately 615 acres along Little Rock Creek within the closure area as critical habitat for the MYLF in October 2006.