Gear: An Ode

Oh, joy of joys! Oh, magical marvel of marvels! What fortune has entered my life! What life has replaced that which I thought to be life before…

My new crampons got here last week, and they sure are pretty rad.

The rope goes on forever, and the party never ends.

Some of you may remember that I left a pair on the painful descent from the Sphinx at the beginning of the season. All things considered, it wasn’t a huge loss; they were broken, anyway – functional yet frustrating – and I was forced from then on to climb in my mountaineering crampons which, in turn, forced me to focus more intently on my footwork. Without a doubt, this has made me a better climber, and I’m grateful for the improvement. Still, it was only a matter of time before my capacity to appreciate the extra challenge gave way to lust, and I made sure to point out the newest, shiniest, baddest vertical ice ‘pons on the market when Michelle inquired about potential Christmas gifts. I think she was a little frightened when I hugged the spiky steel plates like a teddy [Read More]

Rock Warrior

Julia Morton, Warrior Princess. Indian Creek, UT

I was cross country skiing out of Crested Butte the other day when my 30-year-old 3-pin binding pulled out of my 30-year-old Nordic skis. As I fumbled with frozen hands to free my boot from the binding, a comforting thought occurred to me: It’s almost climbing season! And the joy of that helped as I post-hole glided home.

The next day, as if on cue, I got an invite to Red Rock, Nevada, land of sport cragging and 10-pitch moderates. “Rock climbing? March? Oh, yeah, Climbing sounds great,” I said loud, slow and obvious, hoping my Nordic skis – which were in timeout in the corner – would overhear. Now, after the initial jubilation has worn off, I’m bracing for a super sore reentry. The closest thing to training I’ve done this winter is pull ups on the rafters of the bus-stop awning to keep warm while waiting for the free town bus. Crested Butte doesn’t have a climbing gym, I’m not much of an ice climber, and my fattening tele thighs are going to be like kicking, wiggling anchors in the air.

But there’s hope: The Rock Warrior’s Way, a [Read More]

The Other Side of the Fence

Joshua Tree sunset — have to see it to believe it.

In the comment section for my last post, Kevin called me out on my end-of-the-season lamentation. He’s absolutely right, of course; I’m thrilled about the prospect of warm Red Rocks weather and sun-baked crag sessions. This winter has been great – exactly what I was after – and I’m excited to maximize my ice time over the next several weeks; but I sure am looking forward to feeling real rock again and working on my tan. As I’ve written before, there’s always another adventure on the horizon and always more being added to the queue.

You’ll hear people dismiss this desire for new places and new experiences. “Well, the grass is always greener…” they’ll wryly offer, as if that somehow diminishes the possibility that the grass may very well be greener. Of course, relative greenness is rarely the point, anyway. There’s a vital distinction between the quest for something better and the quest for something different. When I leave the stark, snowy beauty of the Bozeman winter, I won’t be in search of a place I prefer; rather, I’ll be in search of yet another example of [Read More]

Time flies when you’re having fun…

The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of activity: bouldering, sport climbing, trad climbing, ice climbing, and ski touring. Ah, the Front Range with its mild climate, sunny crags, Cabernet powder (?), and dripping ice… Oh yeah, sometimes it just all comes together for a brief fleeting momement of multi-sport bliss. But anyways, today it’s bitter cold (though sunny), and that Wyoming wind is rolling through town, rattling windows. I’m hunkered down in a cozy coffee shop, sipping an Americano, savoring a blackberry muffin, and studying up for first quarter exams which are quickly approaching. My thoughts drift to wind, spindrift, and plastic ice. The Park is calling. I haven’t been climbing enough ice… The relatively warm sunny weather was a nice dream of the coming spring, but looking outside I realize it’s early February and that we’re still in the midst of winter. [Read More]

If The Buddha Skied…

Julia, embodying post-fall joy. Note the trucker's hat and aviators. Just 'cause we're in the mountains doesn't mean we can't look good, right?

…He’d ski Red Coon Glades after a long sunny stretch. Because, as wise ski bums say, “Anyone can be happy on a powder day…it takes a real skier to smile in the crud.” And I’ll tell you what; Red Coon after a long sunny stretch is the real crud.

A couple weeks ago Julia and I got a less than early start toward the south-facing Red Coon Glades on Mt. Emmons (aka The Red Lady), which was sub-optimal, seeing as how she had to work at noon and all. But, we figured the Red Lady would be our best bang for the buck: climb straight out of the parking lot, and ski right back, sans approach slog. Plus, I figured the skiing would be mighty fine: last time I was there the snow was so deep I was poling hard to make it down 27-degree slopes, so I hoped that the sunny spell after the storm would firm up the powder and give us some play. Plus, the glades, like the January sun, are so [Read More]

Cameron Pass Conditions Febuary 9th

A couple of friends and I made it up to Cameron Pass on Tuesday and found great conditions. A couple weeks worth of mild weather allowed for the consolidation of the snowpack’s upper layers while the weak storm cycle that came through this past weekend dropped several inches of low density precipitation with little wind. Unfortunately the winds picked up Monday night and began their usual cycle of destruction. By Tuesday morning the face was a blank slate with few tracks from the weekend visible, (though soft sastrugi –like wind runnels were obvious on most exposed slopes). Another party of backcountry enthusiasts were skiing the slopes of South Diamond that slid back on January 10th and it looked like they had triggered a small slide near the summit ridge. Other small pockets of natural activity were visible on the center of the face as well. [Read More]