Presentation

•September 12, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I am honored to have been asked to give a presentation at the tenth annual Yosemite Face lift! I am psyched to see you all there on the evening of the 29th September!

For more information please visit: http://yosemiteclimbing.org/

Mountain

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Focus and determination

•September 6, 2013 • Leave a Comment

No pain, no gain, that’s the theory right?!

I hope that is true, because I have been pushing my body harder than ever before and existing in a state of perma-tiredness… Getting up at 5 or 6am every morning to train in the cool morning hours and make the most of the day… My training cycle has involved grueling circuits, sprint intervals, long hill runs, tread-wall sessions and a LOT of climbing. Completing this cycle has required a huge amount of energy and focus, and I have even been relishing my few rest days more than ever before…

preparing to set another route on the treadwall, with my faithful helper, Thanks Rowan!

Preparing to set another route on the treadwall, with my faithful helper, Thanks Rowan!

I have to thanks Rob Pizem for putting together such an awesome and demanding program for me! I have found myself loving having a plan to stick to and I feel like both my body and mind have thrived on the routine it has created in my relatively random life.  I have always enjoyed pushing my body to its limits… So training has just become another more thorough and structured way of seeing how much my body can handle. Now, after five weeks of training it is exciting to see how well my is responding and the progress I am getting in my climbing, overall fitness and strength. Even when I am exhausted, I have been performing better than ever before! It makes me realize (once again) how much room I still have progress and learn in this sport.

Sampling a new route on the top tier at Redstein, near Carbondale, CO. Photo: Duane Raleigh

Sampling a new route on the top tier at Redstein, near Carbondale, CO.
Photo: Duane Raleigh

Surprisingly, I have actually managed to follow through with this program to the end, and combined it with climbing in as many different places as I can around the Grand Junction region. Attempting onsight as much as possible and do large numbers of pitches in a day, rather than get sucked into working on one route, as I normally would. I climbed in Rifle, the Puoux, played on the alpine granite up on Mt Evans, and locally in Unaweep. And I even made it out to the Black Canyon for a day, but unfortunately it was still a little on the warm side!

Climbing in the Black Canyon with Greg

Climbing (and sweating a lot!) in the Black Canyon with Greg… The river looked so inviting!

In this way I have managed to get a much higher volume of climbing in and kept my focus on training for my goals in Yosemite! It has been great to be based in one place for a month, it has helped me regain my focus and drive. In a few days I am off to Germany to attend the Adidas Rockstars Comp, then to the Valley!

Thanks to everyone here for welcoming me into the community, and all my sponsors for believing in me and helping me follow my dreams! Gnarly Nutrition, Five Ten, Adidas, Petzl, Stirling, Joshua Tree Skin Care and Em’s Power Cookies.

Les Untouchables…

•August 9, 2013 • Leave a Comment

With only a few days left in France, a big storm rolled into Chamonix, leaving all the mountains with a new layer of snow on the mountains and me very frustrated – It took all of my willpower to summon up enough patience (definitely not one of my strengths…) to endure a couple terribly wet days in Chamonix and not to just leave… However, luckily I did stay and was rewarded by an amazing last couple days climbing on the alpine granite!

A quick glimpse of Mt Blanc from across the valley on Mt Brevent

A quick glimpse of Mt Blanc from across the valley on Mt Brevent

The first fine day was still a little snowy to head up onto the Mt Blanc massif, Martina and I chose to go up to Mt Brevent, where we did two very nice routes in a row. The first was a beautiful mixed (bots and trad) four pitch route, then the second was on the same formation, just a little to the right. Three rope-streatching pitches of technical, sustained and quite demanding climbing (7a+, 7b+ and another 7b+). It was a good day of climbing and we were back down in Chamonix by 3.30pm!

Hiking across the glacier with Trident du Tacul in front of us. The summit of Mt Blanc is in the top left of the photo

Hiking across the glacier with Trident du Tacul in front of us. The summit of Mt Blanc is in the top left of the photo

Then the next day Martina and I got an early start, drove through the Mt Blanc tunnel into Italy and took the cable-car up to Helbronner. At about 7am we were at about 3600m, already roped up and hiking across the glacier, headed for a rock spire below the summit of Mt Blanc – Trident du Tacul.

Trident du Tacul - Les Untouchables takes a series of cracks just left of the main buttress

Trident du Tacul – Les Untouchables takes a series of cracks just left of the main buttress

Then the next day Martina and I got an early start, drove through the Mt Blanc tunnel into Italy and took the cable-car up to Helbronner. At about 7am we were at about 3600m, already roped up and hiking across the glacier, headed for a rock spire below the summit of Mt Blanc – Trident du Tacul. Our objective was an eight pitch route called “Les Untouchables”… A beautiful route on steep clean granite, with many pitches in the mid 7’s and very diverse climbing – From steep splitter cracks to super technical slabs with invisible holds…

The parallel cracks of the crux - Martina and I climbed the left one

The parallel cracks of the crux – Martina and I climbed the left one

The crux pitch was at the top of the route, and had two variations – two cracks running parallel to each other up a steep blank face, either 7b+ or 7c+. Naturally, we choose to try the harder variant, which turned out to be predominantly purple and green camalots… The worst size for both Martina and I. I was glad of the ring-locking practice I had over winter on the sandstone in Indian Creek, and it obviously helped – I came very close to flashing the pitch, but unfortunately a foot blew and sent me flying…. However, I was still very happy to send on my second attempt! Leaving us plenty of time to rappel the route and be back at the cable car to catch the last lift down!

Happy to be in the mountains and on granite again!

Happy to be in the mountains and on granite again!

This was a fantastic day! Thank you Martina for being my guide and showing me a diverse selection of what Chamonix has to offer… I am super psyched to come back for more next Summer!

Martina having a quick snack before heading down to catch the cable car

Martina having a quick snack before heading down to catch the cable car

The cable car down into Italy

The cable car down into Italy

Now, after a few lovely relaxed days with my family in Germany, I find myself back in Colorado. Where I have launched straight into a brutal training regime to prepare for Yosemite – Thanks Rob!!! Everything hurts already, after only a few days here and I can see that pain is going to become my best friend again. But I know my body will adjust quickly and I am excited to give it my all and see what I can achieve.

Thanks to all my friends and sponsors who are giving me the means to follow my dreams!

Euro Summer

•July 29, 2013 • Leave a Comment

After a wet and very unsettled Spring/Summer, with a little too much flitting around the world, it has been a welcome change to be living out of my van again, in the full blown heat of Summer… Being able to focusing purely on climbing again and getting super fit for my season in Yosemite this Autumn.

After three days at the Outdoor Trade show in Germany, Ben and I escaped to the peaceful and beautiful Ceuse – It is still one of my most favorite places in the world! Even in the midsummer rush when there are people everywhere and often queues for the popular routes, this place seems to maintain its serene atmosphere. While being up at the crag, I feel like I am removed from everyday life, looking down at the rest of the world… A little like being in the mountains.

Sunrise at Ceuse

Sunrise at Ceuse

The first few days were brutal… I felt like I was just getting destroyed by everything I tried, from 7a’s to 8a’s, they all felt absolutely desperate. For me, this was hard to handle, because the last time I had been there (in 2009) I was fit, used to the style and crushing everything. However, it only took a few days or my muscles to remember how to climb at Ceuse, and the last few days were amazing.

A rest day hike/run up Mt Brevant...

A rest day hike/run up Mt Brevant…

Mt Blanc from Brevant, while going for a rest day hike/run...

Mt Blanc from Brevant

However, before I managed to get really accustomed to the style (and hour long hike to the cliff) at Ceuse, I decided to move on. I headed for Chamonix, offering bigger mountains, higher altitudes, longer routes and even granite cracks… Well, I was hoping to get on the granite, but unfortunately the weather has not quite been cooperating. I have managed  to climb many pitches and cover a large amount vertical meters in the last week, which is actually exactly what I was wanting!

Sunrise on the Fitz

Sunrise on Pointe d’Averes

The last adventure was climbing “Dret dans l’Pentu” a fairly sustained 8 pitch route (crux 7b+) on Fiz (Pointe d’Ayeres), with Martina – A beautiful limestone peak just down the valley from Chamonix. It was a big day, starting with a two hour hike up the mountainside, of which the last half-hour was a scramble over horrifyingly loose scree slopes above decent sized cliffs – Where any wrong move would have ended very badly…

Martina seconding the devious 7b pitch near the top of the route

Martina seconding the devious 7b pitch near the top of Dret dans l’Pentu

However, we survived and the route itself was incredible, diverse and engaging, with beautiful views of Mt Blanc and the surrounding valley. Now I have a few more days in Chamonix, before heading back to Germany and then back to Colorado, for some more climbing at altitude… The Diamond!

Martina and I on the summit of

Martina and I on the summit of Fiz

 

Roctrip – Gorge du Tarn

•June 25, 2013 • Leave a Comment

My life seems to continue to make me run like crazy just to try to keep up with myself… This hectic lifestyle is normal right now, but I still find myself struggling to adjust quick enough to maximize each new situation…

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Saint Rome De Dolan, over looking Gorge Du Tarn

Within a couple days of arriving back in France, I found myself driving to Gorge du Tarn for the 2013 Roctrip, with the Petzl team – always a fun and crazy time. In comparison to the last couple years, this years Roctrip was relatively low key… It was a pleasant change to go to an established area in France, rather than in the middle of nowhere, and just have a really fun few days climbing and hanging with Team Petzl. 

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On Moules Frites 7c+

We all stayed in “Saint Rome De Dolan”, a tiny village (if you can even call it a village), on the upper rim of the gorge – A stunningly beautiful location looking out over the Tarn. And spent each long summers day climbing till nightfall, enjoying everything from short steep power test-pieces, to epic adventures of over 60m. I spent most of my time on these long routes, making the most of having 200m ropes and fixed quickdraws – I rediscovered how much I love long resistance routes, where it is not uncommon to spend an hour on each attempt. We even started referring to the 40m routes as “short”! Unfortunately the three days I had to climb were not nearly enough. However, it is always inspirational and humbling climbing with these incredible climbers… Watching Clement onsight a 70m 8b+, and Chis, Dani many others literally run up 8a’s (onsight) like they were nothing! 

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Dani trying a project at L’Oasif

This was the third Rocktrip I have been to, I am beginning to know the team a little better and really enjoy the time I get to spend with this incredibly talented and fun loving team. Flashback… A few years back, while still based in NZ, I remember watching Petzl movies about roctrips and dreaming about one day attending one of these events! Now, this seems like an entire lifetime ago… This year I struggled to fit in a few days at the Roctrip in between China (Adidas Rockstars) and Colorado, where I am now headed for the Rock & Ice Photocamp! 

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The Petzl base at Saint Rome De Dolan

Ahhh, how quickly life and your entire perception can change, it really is an intense… I am so busy, flitting between incredibly different experiences, that I have to really focus on enjoying the moment. It is easy to get caught up in constantly thinking about the next step and not fully enjoying the now, let alone reflecting on the past. Yet, I believe this is the key to enjoying life – There is no point to living if you cannot appreciate where you are right now! I am also realizing how good it is to take a few moments to reflect on the past, every now and then… and be amazed by life!

Thanks Petzl for welcoming me onto the team and for a really fun Roctrip at the Tarn… I am inspired to return!  

Adidas Basecamp to China Rockstars

•June 19, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I am extremely happy to have had the opportunity to participate in the first (and hopefully not the last) ever Adidas Outdoor athlete meeting… Focused on the climbers, Basecamp, was held in the heart of the Frankenjura – One of the birthplaces for Sport climbing and Wolfgang Güllichs stomping ground.

Visiting a stunning cave on our first evening at Basecamp.

Visiting a stunning cave on our first evening at Basecamp.

True to their slogan…. Adidas “was all in” and created an amazing event for their athletes. For three days we all stayed in an ancient Castle (now converted into a very nice hotel) built on top of a limestone cliff, which is now a small, but very nice climbing area.  It was an informative, fun trip and a great chance to get to know the Adidas Outdoor family a little better.

A formal meeting in the weapons room!

A formal meeting in the weapons room!

After Basecamp Ben and I had 10 days of time to climb… We had all sorts of plans, but were thwarted by the horrendously wet spring that Europe had been having. After much debate, we decided to bite the bullet and go where we had the best chances of getting some sun – South France! So, one and a half days later, after an epic drive, we found ourselves at St. Leger. A beautiful crag located above a small river and surrounded by ancient French villages, vineyards and olive groves. It was definitely far from summer weather, we were still wearing down jackets most days, but it was great to have some time to just climb, swim in the freezing cold river, visit markets and simply enjoy France.

Ben, lost in a market in South France

Ben, lost in a market in South France

Beautiful little fishing village on the Mediterranean

Beautiful little fishing village on the Mediterranean

However, the week few by and soon I found myself back at the airport – Headed for China, for the Adidas Rocstars comp in Shanghai! It was a hectic week, including two over 20 hour flights, hundreds of signatures, countless photos and many translated interviews… I will never know whether what I said was what they heard or vise versa. It is always interesting being in China.

The semi final of the first Adidas Rocstars event in China

The semi final of the first Adidas Rocstars event in China

Adidas put on an amazing outdoor event in the middle of the most popular and busy shopping street in Shanghai. It was incredible to see climbing (a very small sport in China) exposed to the general public like this, and welcomed with such a positive attitude by everyone. I was there with Dean Potter and Thomas Huber, and once again the Chinese looked after us like royalty. We had a personal guide “Marco” who accompanied us everywhere and made sure we had everything we might possibly need. In the mornings when we were not at the event he showed us the highlights of Shanghai, and took us to the tastiest restaurants.

Axel, Thomas, Dean and I in Shanghai

Axel, Thomas, Dean and I in Shanghai

It was great to have a few days with Axel, Dean and Thomas. Thanks Adidas for inviting me to come to this event!

Back in Europe

•May 31, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I do not know where to start… So much has happened, there is also so much to tell and there has been so little time to write! I find it hard to remember yesterday morning, let alone a few weeks ago. Sometimes it all feels hard to handle, but I really feel very lucky to live the life that I am leading.

My home at Smith Rocks... Thanks 5.10! Photgrapher: Tyler Roemer

Because of various different obligations, my 3 week trip up at Smith Rocks was reduced to 10 days – Just enough time to actually relearn to climb rather than just pulling my way through the moves! I had big goals to try two historic routes Just do It and/To Bolt, but I quickly decided to spend my time climbing the Smith Rock classics, rather than working on a project. I spent most of my time in the Dihedrals, climbing Chain Reaction, Darkness and many others…

On Rude Boys, Smith Rocks. Photographer: Tyler Roemer

It great fun but the trip was over far too quickly and then it was back to Colorado – A place which has (in some sense) become a home for me. After one hectic week of packing up my life, I boarded a plane to Germany – my other home! This place is very near to my heart and the only place which has stayed the same throughout my life. Hence, it was very nice to spend a week there , chilling with my Aunt (second mum) and cousins (almost siblings).

Of course the week flew by, and before I knew it, I was joined by Ben and driving down to Italy… Where I was presenting a slideshow for Stile Alpino! With a touch of luck and a bit of stress, we just made it in time, even though traffic jams and getting lost were working against me. Fabio and the rest of Stile Alpino team made us feel very welcome, showed us some of the local climbing and even invited Ben and I to join their annual fish dinner. This was an unexpected treat and we were honored to meet many of the most famous Italian climbers.

Arco! Photographer: Ben Rueck

Unfortunately the next week was spent trying to find dry rock in an epicly wet May. First stop was Arco, where we had a few beautiful days climbing and enjoying the craziness of the Italian lifestyle. However, just when we were starting to adjust to the climbing style a torrential rainstorm hit and we fled northwards… Toward the Frankenjura.

Ben hiking to Voraplsee

We stopped off for a day at the stunningly beautiful Swiss mountain crag – Voralpsee, the home to Speed (one of the first 8c+’s) an extremely sustained and crazily technical climb. I was hoping to get a few days climbing here, however, once again we woke to rain and freezing temperatures. Part of my motivation to go here was to try Speed, but I am starting to realize that finding motivation to climb hard routes is kind of like finding love… If you are actively looking for it, you will never find it… Yet, when least expected it finds you.

A nice quote from Cafe Kraft

Next stop was Frankenjura, one of the most historic sport climbing areas, located deep in the woods of Bayern. This is a place I am keen to spend some time climbing climb at, but this time I was there for the first ever Adidas “Basecamp”. Stay posted for more on this soon! But in the meantime… Thanks to Adidas for inviting us all and organizing an amazing athlete meeting!

The Adidas team! Photographer: Ben Rueck