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California!!!!!!!!!!!

Well I have been in Cali for about 3 weeks already and dang it has been packed full of like 80 different experiences.  Being solo and traveling alone is a total riot as you get into the most random situations and people seem to just take you under their wing.  I like it.  I have always trusted and loved my climbers in the community and I guess this stint in Cali has confirmed that even more.  Thanks so much for everyone thus far that has taken such good care of me and shown your graciousness and friendship.

 

This whole trip started out with the Sender One gym opening.  My primary motives were to go and support Chris, as he is my boy and I am super proud of him and his business decisions.  He is an inspiration to us all as a climber, but as a person he is even more-so for me.  The gym opening was HUGE… it was my first time in So Cal and I was amazed with all of the culture, fashion, style, and eclectic crowds of people, art, stoked climbers, and rad food.  It was a sure sign that I hang out in caves way too much and need that sort of exposure for inspiration and stimulation.  Tattoos, crazy style, different ethnicities, the whole nine… I think Cali is pretty bad-ass and the Sender One opening was JAM PACKED full of folks.  Chris was all over the place the whole weekend as was everyone else.  The turn out was mind blowing.

 

There was the comp (that I somehow got roped into), the media, and the whole party action.  The comp was a totally new format for any climbing comp.  It was team based.  Yeah.. they grouped us into three teams of 5 people.  I had SHARMA, ASHIMA, MEGAN and KYLE on my team.  I was SURE we would kill it… only I was the weak link… I mean… I NEVER climb inside… hehehehe…. It was actually a relaxed sort of format, but that stuff still stresses me out… climbing in front of everyone screaming and trying not to suck.  HA!  It’s not exactly my bag.  This was my first fish out of water experience and there has been a lot lately.  Comp/gym climbing, trad climbing, crack climbing, alpine adventures, cold lake water, multi-pitch’s, bigger climbing shoes, Korean food, climbing in 90 degree weather… All this stuff is new to me and healthy.

I decided to kill some time and hang out in LA to go to Disney Land with a crew of friends which was HILARIOUS!!!  (Check out my Vines if you are into that because I made some pretty funny vid jams.)   I got lucky and  got offered a day at the Tramway with some friends.  HELL yes I wanted to go.  After seeing those boulder problems in the ever famous Rampage I had to at least go and climb a little bit even if it was 100 degrees in town.  It’s a great area stacked with super good granite and lots of hard problems.  Ashima was a beast, taking down everything in the V8-9 range and was a ton of fun to climb with that little ninja.  She has quite a future ahead of her no doubt.

Heinous LA traffic.

 

After the So Cal experience I met up with my buddy Adam (Brams) Long to climb the Incredible Hulk… Check out the whole experience here on Gregorygoesthere.com.  It was wild, exhilarating, rad, and f**king heady.  Give it a read and please don’t make fun of me too much… dang.

We met up in Toulumne and banged out a 5.9 in the night which was super cool.  It was a smart and clever way of connecting as climbing partners before our big endeavor.

 

The Hulk cut my teeth for sure… I learned a lot of things, gained a bit of experience (only a tiny bit however as I am a total baby with the whole trad endeavor), and even upsized my climbing shoes so I can jam my feet in the cracks.  PROGRESS in a major way.  Trust me.  Using the tightest shoes you can get on your feet do not work well with climbing cracks… it works against you.  This whole trad climbing experience has been pretty cool, but super frustrating at the same time.  I mean I can KILL 5.11s man… half the time I don’t even take that sort of grade seriously… but with climbing cracks it is another world of difficulty.  It’s kinda pathetic, but in some odd-ball way really cool to be so humbled.  The grade thing is completely thrown out the window as granite and cracks are such a unique style of climbing.  So unique that it’s like learning to climb all over again and I think that is why I am enjoying it so much.

The place I was most stoked to climb at was the Needles.  The Needles are famous for the super exposed routes, green-lichen-painted walls, and airy-fresh-ambiance.  The place is way out in the middle of nowhere and requires an hour hike each day.  We saw rattlesnakes daily so be careful to all of you interested in going this summer.  I had seen photos in the magazines and known of this place as a must visit California spot.  I had to make this happen and rallied a partner.   My buddy Spencer McCrowskey of Las Vegas was available and had been there before so it was perfect.  He was on the same page as me (looking for a partner) so we met up in Mammoth and drove the 6 hours down.  Our style was relaxed and we were there just to have a good time and climb.  It’s been nice like that this summer… dropping the expectations of climbing hard and almost resting in a sense.  I am usually trying hard projects all of the time so doing something totally different with a mellow pace feels awesome.

breaking in my new joints on the drive.

 

Out of 6 days climbing we climbed SIX… Our first day we did a 5.11s and tried the famous Pyromania 13 a or b depending on who you ask.  Pyromania was my main goal as it was utterly beautiful and inspired me a lot more than any of the trench cracks.  Crack climbing is cool, but can suck if you aren’t used to the pain, techniques of groveling and the full body work-out you get.  Pyromania appeared to be a simple form of climbing that I know how to do! HA!  It had holds, boulder problems, and a big underclinging flake to hustle at the end.  I LIKED IT IMMEDIATELY.  We top-ropped it a few times that day, learned the moves and even tried to climb it on TR.  The style is two boulder problems with really good stopping spots and then the technical and sequential flake to the end. This was the part that gave me the most trouble.  Tiny feet and everytime we would fall it was a foot popping or the sequence would get all screwed up and we would climb it differently every time.  I am a sport climber by nature and know how to figure out beta pretty damn well.  I look for the easiest way through and fastest.  These skills helped a ton.

taken from monsteroffwidth.com

The next day we did another 5.11 4 pitcher and I tried some heinous and terrifying 12d that I think Randy Leavitt put up.  Talk about terrifying.  The route was grovely, had super odd gear, and nutty chimney moves.  I had no idea what the hell I was doing.  I dogged up it and then got to the real crux which was some seriously small holds on Buttermilks rock to the anchor, which was runnout as all hell and terrifying.  No thanks man.  I would have to rehearse the ending 80 times to feel confident and go for it on lead and felt like Pyromania was way more worth my time so I cleaned my gear n stuck with that.

goofy photo I destroyed by putting my head on this dude. Thanks monsteroffwidth.com

Spencer and I sorted the gear out and started trying to redpoint Pyro.  We fell in every position and thoroughly tested the gear.  I was really specific as to how I placed each piece before I tried to bang out each section.  I would use my extra strength to get the pieces in and feel confident in it.  After 4 tries throughout the day my shoes were pretty worn out and weren’t working very well on the tiny footholds.  I figured the next day might be better as I had a pair of Katana Laceups in my van that would dominate on that route.  I gave it one last go before the sun was setting and we had to battle the fear of rattlesnakes in the twilight.  I climbed fluid, relaxed and executed the bottom sections with no sweat.  The top is a super pumpy section on the undercling flake and was where I had to take it seriously.  This is where I fell two times already due to losing track of my hand order or something.

I shook it out and just said “fu*k it”… I went as precise as possible and relaxed as much as I could on the fingertip underclings and tiny feet.  Things worked out and I got through!!!  I was STOKED!!! Stoked I didn’t take that last runnout fall again and just straight up happy to be in a new place and secure.  I romped my way to the top of the wall and it felt AWESOME!!!  I just did my first harder trad redpoint!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  5.13!!!!  It might not sound so bad-ass on paper, but trust me… 5.11’s are heinous in this game… like HEINOUS and I would relate them to 5.13 onsights sometimes.  I am learning and nothing is easy at first right?

thanks monsteroffwidth.com

 

After 6 days in the Needles Spencer and I parted ways and I headed up to Tahoe where I am now.  I am visiting my friend Emily Harrington in her crib  where she and her boyfriend Adrian Ballinger live.  This is such a great town and stacked with lots of granite to climb.  Tim Kemple came out the other day and he and I will be cyphering around until Sunday.  Toulumne, Donner Summit, some new crags… Summer time here feels great.  You have the lake to swim in, the cliffs 15 minutes drive, and some really great people.  After traveling solo for the past few weeks it feels great to be with my good friends that I consider Family.

Emily on Pump Lust 13b/9a

 

Andy Bardon

 

Emily Harrington… ALWAYS FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Me on Pump Lust… HOT hands going for it… summer time sport routes… holy cow.

 

We are climbing trad routes, sport routes, multipitch and even boulders!!  This is a new summer for me ya’ll… I love it!

Hope you are all having a great summer and are staying cool in this heatwave.  DANG it’s warm out there.

Thanks for checking in and be safe.

-Joe

 

  • Sean Ferrell - great post! i felt like i was there in needles climbing while reading your descriptions. as someone who climbs a number grade (or two) below on trad, i can relate. and great photos, as always.
    -Sean

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