Desert Storms

I’ve heard it said in regards to planning a climbing trip that “if you wait for the right weather before you climb, you’ll always be waiting”. This last trip to Cochise Stronghold has proven the wisdom of that saying. As a guide and as a recreational climber I try to pay attention to weather forecasts to avoid dangerous and uncomfortable weather. Professionally and personally I attempt to distinguish the difference between the two. Dangerous weather is life threatening. Obvious examples of this weather would be tornados, lightning storms, blizzards, etc. Uncomfortable weather is entirely dependent on personal preference and clothing/gear available on hand. Common examples are too hot, too cold, or too wet.

On a personal note, having a wife and children have limited the amount of time that I have free to go climbing for myself. For that reason I have altered my personal tolerances for “uncomfortable weather”. I climb in Phoenix, AZ through our triple digit summers not because I find it the most pleasant of weather:) but because it may be the only time that I have. Yet when you consider these temps it begins to create a fine line between “dangerous” and “uncomfortable” weather. To not be adequately prepared for these temps can in fact be life threatening. Being uncomfortable will never kill someone but dehydration can. I prepare meticulously for this by limiting exposure to direct sun ( I climb in the shade), during these temps I carry copious amounts of water (I keep track of my water consumption making certain I don’t run out of water), and I always carry a cell phone, a way to charge it, and stay within range of cell towers.

I bring up this example of the weather in Phoenix, AZ to demonstrate that the lines of dangerous weather and uncomfortable weather can be difficult to distinguish. So when attempting to differentiate between the two don’t forget to consider the worst possible scenarios so that you can pack the equipment essential for survival of not just you, but your partner as well. Also be certain to consider the terrain including, but not limited to, elevation, weather patterns, hazardous road conditions (flooding washes, ice patches, muddy conditions that may make vehicular travel not possible), distance to emergency medical services, cell service, perhaps the need for satellite communication, distance to fresh water sources (even if it is a gas station). This may require a great deal of research on your part but I promise it is not wasted time and it will be a huge benefit to you, your adventure partners, and both of your loved ones.

When planning my most recent adventure to Cochise Stronghold (perhaps my favorite climbing area in the state of AZ) I was considering all those things discussed above and more. I was watching the weather forecast on two different sources and noticed that the night before the chance for rain increased from 50% to 75% on one of my favorite weather resources. I’m personally comfortable  planning a climbing trip when the chances of rain are 50% or less but, I am not psyched when the chances of rain approach 75%. Since the two sources disagreed I was on the fence as to whether or not to cancel the trip altogether. If it rains enough to ruin the climbing then my partner and I would be traveling in the car for 6 hours or more just to get rained on. Well I consulted with my partner and he proved to be as tenacious as my self for adventure saying, “I’m comfortable taking the risk”. We were in good company and traveling down the I-10 in pouring rain leaving Phoenix, AZ heading towards Tuscon. The navigator (me) watching the radars and weather forecasts as we approached our destination. Our hopes were quietly being tested as we drove through solid rain from Phoenix through Tuscon. As the clouds became less thick and the sunrise over the Dragoon Mountains blinded us both, our hopes were slowly being lifted like the wings of a falcon, propelling us closer to the West Side of  Cochise Stronghold.

Once parked at the trailhead, we were enamored with the Sheepshead formation being illuminated in the morning light. We did the ritual racking of the gear, discussing what to bring and what to leave. As soon as our packs were filled our legs carried us up the 1.5 mile approach to the base of the rock and we were staring up at the route “Peace Maker” looming above us. Knowing that the chance of rain was still there, we wasted no time in dividing the gear, flaking the rope, and tying our knots. I started off leading up the glassy granite face; a little discomforted by the fit of my new climbing shoes. I was able to remain balanced on the tiny crystals 130 feet up to the first set of anchors. After the anchor was set, my partner began following the pitch expertly cleaning each anchor that I placed.

I observed the direction of the wind and scanned the horizon looking for any potential rain. I saw two separate rain clouds dropping rain in  the distance but I was uncertain of their path. Once my partner arrived at the belay we both discussed  the worst case scenarios. Because we weren’t certain they would even reach us we decided to proceed up our route.

I launched up pitch two as fast as I could and my partner floated up the technical granite sequences with ease. As he was climbing I could observe the two separate rain storms and notice that one appeared to be headed straight for us. Over two hundred feet off the ground we again considered our options up or down and the risks involved in both. We both opted to continue up.

I engaged the third pitch with the determination of a starving artist craving the life giving nutrients of each climbing movement. My partner sped up following me with the speed and skill of Dale Earnhardt. The two storm systems drew closer. The wind picked up blowing our chalk and caressing our arms giving us an awareness of the rain’s imminent arrival.

With the knowledge that there was a spacious ledge with a two story tall pine tree to provide shelter we made our exchange brief and continued up the 4th pitch. Pausing below a difficult sequence I glanced over my shoulder to see just how much time I had before mother nature blasted me with her fire hose. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the clouds had changed directions parting one to the climbers right and one to the climbers left. Two more had developed in their place  but were much further away giving me the peace of mind to solve the problems that the climbing route was presenting. I made it to a small ledge 50 feet below the large pine tree and was able to breath easy with the knowledge that the rain I could see in the distance would’t be here before my partner arrived at this ledge. As he’d done before my partner cruised up the pitch nabbing the gear and once with in earshot we both exchanged the good news we both knew.

We dodged the bullet that Hurricane Rosa shot our way. Once to the anchor we blasted up to the ledge that had a huge pine tree 200 feet below the summit and waited for the next two rain storms to hit. To our delight these storm systems followed the last and totally missed us!

I’ve been told that those who “Risk big, win big”. Well we won big! The scattered thunderstorms that had between 50%-75% chance of showering us, didn’t. We drank in the views of the rolling clouds and sprawling landscape while we drank our water. The snacks tasted better than snacks normally do because of our beautiful circumstance and good fortune. My partner casted off up the final 200 feet of climbing “on-sight” with the surgical precision of a skilled practitioner.

Once on the summit we celebrated, turning 360 degrees, we were filled with the beauty of the Stronghold!

We were also able to see the black wall of clouds headed straight for us from the opposite direction. It had been obscured by the gigantic granite monolith we had just summited.

Taking time to enjoy the summit and avoid the rattle snake that I had stepped over unaware of it’s presence. It was time to get off of this dome before nature whipped out her super soaker and sprayed us down. Before we knew it our heads were literally in the clouds and the moisture of the cloud moisturized our skin, hair, and gear:) We made our way to the descent gulley sandwiched between the Sheepshead and Muttonhead formations. As soon as we were in the gulley, the mother nature pulled the trigger on her enormous oversized squirt gun and hosed us down! It was so thick and furious it obscured our ability to see the 600 foot granite walls to either side of us. Water falls erupted on the granite faces and turned into streams underneath our feet. It was a humorous dichotomy to be dodging cactus and trying not to slip in the running water:) A desert storm at it’s finest and two adventures smack dab in the middle. The only thing larger than the down pour of water were our smiles!

We made it back to our packs the clouds began to disappear allowing us to see all of the waterfalls on the Sheepshead. We could look up our route and our souls were filled with gratitude that we hadn’t had been climbing during that weather. We were quite aware that we had gotten away with something. We were so soaked we had pruny fingers. The kind you get from staying in the bath tub too long. After being in Stronghold’s hot tub for so long it was pure joy to see the sun part the clouds above and warm our skin. We laid out the gear to dry and as climbers do, got caught up in talking about more climbing.

Everything from the day’s route, to back when the first cavemen started climbing, we discussed it all. Before we knew it the rock was looking dry by about 4:30 in the afternoon. I remembered that the sunset was 6:15 and with the clouds on the horizon perhaps a bit sooner. Well it was too good to resist the idea of getting in one more climb before the end of the day. So, we hustled like a high school football team in the finals. We grabbed all our gear discussed the route all while running towards the next route. We were boogieing up the 600 foot tall “Ewephoria” (as excellent a climbing route as it’s play on words) by 5:00pm.

After completing the last two pitches by the light of our head lamps we were on the same summit for the second time that day by 7:00pm.

If we hadn’t taken the risk of getting rained on or climbing in the dark we wouldn’t have been able to have such a grand adventure by Yvon Chouinard’s definition.

“It’s not an adventure until something goes wrong.” -Yvon Chouinard

Surprise yourself: Defeating Self Doubt

It has been almost two years since my marriage was forever changed  by piss. My wife urinated on a test strip and we started the challenging route of parenthood. You see, before having a child we used to go on spur of the moment road trips and tall long rock climbing routes. It has been almost two years since we last did that and now we have a 7 month old baby to care for. So for those who can imagine; many stars have to align for us to be able to do any thing like that again. Well it is spring time and love is in the air but more importantly Grandma has the weekend off. So… things are looking pretty good! My birthday is just around the corner so my wife gives me a “hall pass” (different kind of “hall pass” fellas). I get to choose what route and where we climb for this not so spur of the moment climbing trip. Many options enter my mind and of course there are logistical considerations (drive time, climb time, etc.) but, I can’t get “Cloud Tower” in Red Rocks on the west side of Las Vegas, Nevada out of my mind. I do what most men do and make my own choice, I choose the “Cloud Tower”! … then I check with my wife to make certain that it is my choice. I have wanted to climb this route for well over a decade of my unprofessional climbing career. It is approximately 5.5 hours from home and Grandma won’t get to our house until about 9:00pm at night. We will only have her services for 48 hours and we have to make the time count. We may not be in college anymore but our resolve hasn’t aged a day and it has only gotten stronger through the years.

We do a general skills check and we know that the route will be challenging but we are both feeling good about attempting it (even if we fail). The car is packed with climbing gear, camping gear is also loaded, the baby is asleep, and Grandma is here. It is time to start the trip. 10:00pm-ish. Off we go we make it to the only campground in Las Vegas just outside the Red Rocks scenic loop drive at 3:00am. As we both predicted it is full. There are opportunistic campers drinking coffee huddled around their cars waiting for the first campers to leave so that they can nab a camp site. We don’t want to waste time with that so we pull into a grocery store parking lot and set the alarm clock for 5:30 am (sunrise). We get our 2.5 hour cat nap and drive to the park entrance where the line had already started forming. We are third in line, not too bad. There is just enough time to fire up the breast pump so that my wife doesn’t burst on the wall. As the gate opens and each car either flashes their passes or pays the fee we are off, driving one of the most relaxing and scenic drives in existence. The Tower is looming over our left shoulder as we begin the loop. As we continue  driving  the “Cloud Tower” moves over our right shoulder and we are watching it grow in size, along with our excitement as we get closer to the trailhead. The cheap gas station coffee that I am drinking has had little effect on my current state of arousal. However the sound of my climbing pack setting on the ground and the sunrise illuminating the tower has got my insides more excited than high school student going to prom.

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Yet at the same time there is a voice of doubt protesting inside of me quietly saying “You have no business on this route”, “You haven’t climbed anything like this in two years”, ” You think that you are ready for an 800ft. tall traditional climb close to your limit?”, “Your not going to make it”. Even though this is something I have wanted to do for so many years I find another part of me yearning for excuses to not even attempt the route so I would’t fail.

My wife has finished pumping and together we finish off the high calorie cinnamon roll we picked up from the gas station in Kingman, Arizona 5 hours earlier. “Maybe we’ll get food poisoning” the thought quickly enters my head or “Perhaps the weather will close in, Red Rocks does have notorious wind storms you know.” “Of course I know, you are talking to me”. I am conflicted. I truly want to  climb this but I am so afraid of failure at the same time. My wife and I are double checking to make certain that we have both packed all of the gear necessary for the climb. “Are you certain you feel up to this?” I ask her. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to climb it without falling but, I know I can make it to the top” she replies earnestly. Well my attempt to have my wife be my excuse failed me. I am running out of ideas. She asks me “Are you feeling good about it”? “I think I can do it but I am afraid that I will not do a good job”. She replied, “You’ll know best but I think you got this”. Her confidence carried me to the trailhead. Now we were hiking towards the “Tower of self doubt”. Experiencing the beauty of Red Rocks on the way.

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We arrived at the base of the climb and encountered two climbers starting the route we were planning on. Perhaps this could be my excuse I thought. I could see myself explaining to people as the asked about our weekend “Oh, well we would have gotten to climb it but, we were turned around by this incredibly slow climbing party” and they would express their understanding by replying “ughhh…” with an empathetic face. We weren’t there very long and it was obvious that excuse wouldn’t work with these climbers. They were young fast and efficient. We geared up, flaked the ropes, used the bathroom, and stashed our climbing packs to discourage the critters from digging in our bags. I inhaled deep swallowed my spit and looked up at the route above. Instinctively I asked, “On belay”? “You are on belay when you clip” she responded.

I grabbed the rock and let my body do the rest. The first two hundred feet of the route were a nice way to get the muscles warm. The climbing wasn’t too difficult or tricky but very enjoyable. The end of this first section (pitch) of climbing deposited me on a spacious ledge. The following steep sections of climbing were visible from this ledge. As I anchored in and started holding the rope (belaying) my wife I looked up about 150ft. and could see the climbers above us entering into the most difficult pitch of climbing. I could hear his rhythmic breathing and sporadic grunts as he was at the most difficult part of that pitch, the rock acted as a sounding board carrying their sounds across the canyon. “Woohoo!” one of the climbers exclaimed “nice job, you sent it!” the other climber answered. I could hear their whole conversation about how difficult it was and how there is no way he thought he was going to be able to do this climb with out falling or weighting the rope (on-sight).

Now my thoughts of self doubt get even louder. There is no way I am going to be able to climb that pitch on-sight like that climber did. We are climbing so close to them they are going to watch me as I fail on that pitch. It is going to be so embarrassing. You should turn around now while you still can. I know that I can turn around and retreat from this ledge easily. But if I climb off of this ledge, retreating the route will be arduous and I don’t want to put my wife through that. I am wrestling with these thoughts as my wife climbs the section below. As she arrives at the ledge I still struggle with this self doubt.

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She had a blast on the first 200ft. of climbing and we reminisced about climbing we just did. “That was so much fun!”, she exclaims as she pulls the final moves to get to the ledge. “Right! I thought that climbing was really fun too.” I responded. “I was thinking that part of the climb was going to be unpleasant or grungy but it was really fun.”, she explained through a smile. “Me too, what a pleasant surprise.”

I prepared for the next pitch of climbing by reflex. Sorting the gear and reorganizing the rope to remove any tangles. Simultaneously I explained how those climbers above me “crushed it” on the crux pitch and how I doubt that I’d be able to do the same. “You’ve been climbing so well. I think you can do it”, she stated calmly. She sounded so matter of fact it helped me hear the other much quieter voice of confidence in side of me. It was telling me to go for it. It can’t be that hard, that’s why everyone down grades the difficulty of the route. I began thinking that I might be able to do this route after all.

The gear was sorted the rope was ready and I was off climbing the next pitch of the route. I found each hand jam and foot placement to be pure joy. I moved with confidence closer to the crux pitch of the climb. Even though the difficulty loomed over me I was saturated with the enjoyment of my current state…climbing. I wasn’t overcome by fear because my focus was is in the current moment. I arrived at the anchors separating me from the crux pitch, put my wife on belay and enjoyed the view of the canyon. At the same time marveling at her graceful dance up the rock face.IMG_9685IMG_9838IMG_9743

She arrived at the belay and it was time. All of the feelings of self doubt were over shadowed by the excitement of the task at hand. Another pitch I needed to prepare for. I sorted the ropes and the equipment. I took only the gear I anticipated using on this section of the climb so that I wouldn’t have to climb with any unnecessary weight. I scoped the crack and started to plan how I might climb it. What anchors would I use first. The crack appears to be thinner at the base and gradually widen the farther up it goes. I finished arranging my gear then chalked my sweat soaked palms. I lifted my eyes to take a look at the route above. I had so many different feelings at the same time excitement, fear, anticipation, doubt, joy, nervousness, yet I had a peace and calm as I intentionally focused on the puzzle before me. I accepted the possibility of failure and  at the same time the possibility of success. I asked “on belay?” You are on belay”, she answered. “Climbing”, I stated. “Climb on”, she responded. I took my first steps above the anchor station. “You got this!” she emphatically stated and I was off. Each movement with efficient precision up the easy climbing before the angle of the rock got steeper. There I was at the base of the crack, the most difficult section was upon me, staring me in the face. I inserted the tinniest anchors I brought into the crack. My fat fingers unable to enter the crack forced me to trust my climbing shoes and rely on even smaller features in the rock on which to stand. Using holds outside the crack I found a series of tenuous moves forcing me to brace my body on the rock. Through a series of technical climbing maneuvers I found myself making upward progress and I was able to get half of the first pad of my fingers in the thin crack. It was too small to jam my fingers and create a wedge but it gave just enough purchase to continue adjust my feet and climb higher. I found a good rest and placed another anchor in the crack. Finally I can get the first knuckle of my fingers in the crack in a specific pod but now the foot holds are smaller. I climb up another couple moves. My breathing is loud and rhythmic. I place another anchor in crack and I can still only fit my first knuckle in the crack. I am approximately ten feet away from the part of of the crack where I will be able to fit up to my second knuckle in the crack which will finally provide me with a secure handhold.  The problem is my last anchor is below my feet and I know I will have to climb another 10ft. up and I am on the last foot hold I can see. If I don’t get an anchor in now and proceed upward I won’t have a solid stance to place another anchor. I would be looking at a fall greater than 30ft. The fear of taking that fall is the only thing separating me from secure handhold. I look down at my harness to see if I can find anchor that will fit the size of crack that I am in. I am out of that size of anchor. I lean in and look intently at the crack above and below the reach of my hand. Above I spot a taper in the crack that just may take an anchor size that I do have. My rapid breathing is audible across the rocks as the gentle breeze carries it away from me 400ft. above the canyon floor. The noise of the chattering carabiners makes the only other sound I fumble the next anchor off of my harness. I lean in to the stone and with the precision of a surgeon place the anchor in the only place it would fit. It fit perfect! Now I am only looking at a 20ft. fall if I screw up the next sequence. I place my fingers in the only pods of the crack that they’ll fit. Still only one knuckle deep I paste my feet on the featureless sandstone and start pulling. I am barely holding on and I have managed to make it 10ft. above my last anchor. I have a foot to the left of the crack a foot to the right and I have tips of my fingers wrenched in the crack providing just enough friction to hold my body weight. I can see the crack above widen to the finger size that I need but the footless stone is making it hard to move high enough to get that finger lock. I am calculating if I can make the move or not and my right foot slips! But, I am still clinging to the rock by my wrenched fingers. I quickly paste my feet back on to the smooth sandstone and give a long exhale. Aware of my muscle fatigue and the long fall I am about take, I’ll only have one attempt. I know I have to be precise. I breathe deep and pull in to the rock with my finger tips and and push upward with feet I let go of the crack with my right hand and reach high aiming for the perfect finger lock…

My fingers slot in the crack with the security of deadbolt and I fill with surprise! I finally have a secure handhold but no defined features for my feet to allow me to rest. I can feel my fingers wanting to let go. I am 15ft. above my last anchor; if I don’t place another soon I am looking at a huge fall. Not allowing my body to be distracted by success, I pressed on continuing to work my way up the crack searching for a defined foothold to distribute the weight of my body so that my fingers could finally rest and so I can place another anchor. That foot hold came only 5ft. higher. I placed my anchor. I started shaking out my right hand and then alternating to my left to allow blood flow to my deprived digits. I still couldn’t see the anchors and I didn’t want to get cocky so I remained silent. My belayer sharing the same sentiment didn’t say anything either. Yet I could feel the grin on my face as I started into the final moves of the pitch. When I saw the anchors my smile widened all the way to the back of my head. I made the anchor and called down to my belayer “off belay!”, “your belay is off” she called up the rock. “I can’t believe I did it!” I exclaimed. ” YOU DID IT! That was awesome!” she screamed back.

As I organized the station I found a comfortable rest on the rock and was able to stare at the surrounding cliff faces. I continued to hold the rope safely so my wife could climb the pitch I had just finished. I peered down and now I towered over the feature in the stone that had been looming over me only minutes earlier. I marveled at the angle and the colors it had. It was truly beautiful. My wife graced stone with exquisite technique gave it a well deserved compliment. I was in a state of awe at the beauty I was able to experience. I began to ponder all of the events leading up to the moment that I now found myself at present. The doubt, trepidation, anxiousness, and fear that I had experienced before we had even left our home was no where to be found. It had all become a memory, a story that I am now telling. Sometimes we lie to ourselves, sometimes we surprise ourselves. I continue to climb because I learn through many mental battles who I am and bit by bit remove the seeds of self doubt and question from my mind changing me into a better, more self aware person.

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A new kind of bachelor party!

When most people think of a  Bachelor Party their minds fill with scenes from the movie “Hangover” or of a night filled with drunken debauchery and strippers. Many would call those parties extreme! Some may even call those epic! We would call those parties neither extreme nor epic and would interject our very own recipe of a truly Epic & Extreme Bachelor Party!  IMG_4232

Start with 3 cups of “surprise”. We decided to inform the bachelor of the general activities of the Bachelor Party. The trip would last at least 5 days but would have time for any unforeseen obstacles or circumstances. It will involve at least three extreme sports that he needed to arrive prepared for… rock climbing, mountain biking, and ice climbing. We will be camping bring your own sleeping gear.

Day1

Mix in your first cup of “Extreme Fun”. Leaving Phoenix Arizona at Midnight we arrived in the world famous Indian Creek (“the Creek”) Utah. The incredible splitter sand stone cracks required many cams and tape to protect the bachelors hands.

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We began the day climbing SuperCrack! aka “Luxury Liner”. This was the first splitter sandstone crack climbed by Earl Wiggins changing the limits of what was impossible.

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Then we moved over to  the “Incredible Hand Crack” ! And yes it was, truly INCREDIBLE!

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Day 2

Now it is time to add a gallon of “uncomfortable epic” to the bachelor recipe. This should be something you know will test the comfort zone of the bachelor. A quick drive through Moab then along the river road over to Fisher Towers. It’s time to climb “Ancient Art” with perhaps one of the most exposed summits on the planet. It is certain to be scary for not only the bachelor but his companions as well:)

On top of the second pitch after 200′ of chimney!

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Only 30′ of interesting climbing between us and the “sidewalk” 🙂

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The “sidewalk is a thin sliver of rock with a vertical drop between you and the ground. Then you must walk across to reach the “Ancient Art”.

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… Yes, we have to climb that!

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Victorious! We stood on the skinniest pinnacle of our lives in the middle of the Utah desert. We can look back up and smile at that odd pinnacle that we conquered. Yet we remind the bachelor that “marriage” is far more extreme than that summit.

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Day 3

After testing the bachelor to his discomfort it is time to stir in a “fun test” with that which he is more comfortable. Believe it or not our bachelor is far more comfortable with ice climbing! We have to drive over through Durango, CO to a lesser known town of Eureka, CO. It is there we will take him to the Whorehouse… You knew it was coming but it isn’t the Whorehouse you’d think. It is actually a 600′ ice climb named “the Whorehouse Hoses”.

The very last pitch is a 200′  WI 3  rope stretcher. It would be the longest pitch of ice that the bachelor would have to lead climb. He completed this task with style.

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A beautiful way to leave the mountains!

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Day 4

Miles and miles of mountain biking through the “Canyon of the Ancients”. Located just outside of Cortez, CO this rip roaring desert single track was quite enjoyable and we were even able to ride within a ‘stone’s throw’ of some ancient ruins.

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A quick drive back to Moab, Utah and through Arches National Park.

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A round the day off with a ride through the “Slick Rock Practice Loop”.

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quick video!

Day 5

We gave the bachelor a choice, would you like to go rockclimbing or more mountain biking? As we patiently waited for the bachelor to make his decision we were informed from a local that a severe weather storm was closing in. It was going to be dumping inches in Moab and feet in Monticello the town through which we would have to exit overnight. Wanting to not get snowed in, we decided to round our trip off by mountain biking in Sedona Arizona. An excellent choice!

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It was truly Extreme and Epic! If you don’t make your bachelor party like this; we at StoneMan recommend that you plan your life like this:) Live life to the fullest!

From Water to Ice!

This Thanksgiving I had the time to reflect on things that I am thankful for. Family was first in mind as we surfed in the ocean and feasted on the San Onofre beach 40 minutes or so north of San Diego California.

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The addition on new members to the family.

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(engagement)

The young eyes exploring the west coast for their first time.

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The next I was thankful for was coffee. My first experience camping with our 2 month old son required coffee each morning. I had to get it before he woke up:)

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Once awake you never know when he’ll be happy.

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I learned perhaps as much as he explored! Those relationships with family I am most Thankful for! With more time to reflect next to the crashing waves I became very Thankful for being alive at this point in history. To be on the beach surfing, enjoying a family holiday this weekend and the next to be ice climbing in Hyalite Canyon just outside of Bozeman Montana the next! What other time in history did we have the ability to travel so rapidly and at the same time have the technology to have cutting edge gear to subdue nature with?

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I am thankful for being alive!

From Forest to Desert!

This weekend I had the honor of climbing with clients from out of the country. While Canada may not seem far away the difference in landscape and environment is vast! @carlodinardo with his wife and friend came to experience the difference first hand by climbing the local granite gained some passive income. We met at the Tom’s Thumb trailhead and sampled the unique weathered granite of the McDowell Mountains in Scottsdale, AZ. I don’t want to make you jealous by telling you exactly how awesome our time was… I’d rather show you:)

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Tis the season to go climbing!

Only 24 Hours ! ?

When I was a young child (last year) I would complain to my father “I need more time! There aren’t enough hours in the day!” to which he would reply “That’s not true, if we needed more than 24 hours a day the day would be longer than 24 hours. 24 hours is the exact amount of time we need to accomplish what we need to.”

Having a just a couple of hours may be all the time we’ll get to make sure we can climb in our 24 hour day. Found a babysitter spur of the moment, packed water in our climbing packs (they were already packed with enough gear to do anything in Phoenix, AZ), threw the bikes on the bike rack, and drove out to the Tom’s Thumb trailhead. We were sure to double check that we had batteries in our head lamps and bike lights and coasted the 1/2 mile down hill to approach trail to Sven Slab a collections of bolted face climbs. We stashed our bikes under a prominent mesquite tree then charged up hill and let our shoes lead the way. Made it to the base and danced up our favorite climbs. We were rewarded with quite a view. (To truly appreciate this view be sure to click on the picture!)

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I am glad we rushed and were stressed because it made this review so much sweeter!

BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE MCDOWELL MOUNTAINS

Today was an incredible day in the McDowell Mountains in Arizona. I was incredibly priviledged to climb with four new climbers. They sure did excellent for their first time. I was envious of their natural climbing intuition and I felt fortunate to be there. It reminded me of when I first started climbing and the unique lessons that the rock taught me.

Among the most important to me personally is the lesson that my feelings can lie. After tying into the rope there is a moment as you look at the route you are about to climb and thoughts begin to fly through your mind faster than time itself. Such as “you can’t do it” or “it is way to tall” or ” there is nothing to grab a hold of”. These thoughts are accompanied by feelings of anxiety and or fear. With this you begin to slowly grab the rock and climb.  Feelings and discouraging thoughts continue and you are forced to reason through them. This conversation continues with every single movement. Before you know it you have arrived at the top of the route and those feelings and thoughts dissolve away and reveal a breathe taking view that is normally reserved for birds and airplanes. Now you know without a doubt those feelings and thoughts lied to you. If they lie to you outside on something as frivolous as a rock climb, perhaps there are other circumstances in your life in which your feelings continue to deceive. Climbing taught me to press on and know that the truth will be revealed the more that those false feelings and lies are discarded.

CLIMB AND SURF SAN DIEGO

Went climbing and surfing in San Diego recently. It was so much fun. For those unaccustomed with surfing there is an unusual phenomenon that takes place at sunset. It is as short-lived and specific as the location where a surfer must be on a wave to actually surf. When the sun sets there is a moment when the water takes on the color of the sky, and the actual sunset itself. It is a surreal moment to be paddling in the vibrant colors of the sunset spotify promotion that was once dark water. It feels as though you have entered a living painting and are moving upon the very surface of art. It is so special that even if the waves disappear you won’t notice because in this moment it doesn’t matter, you have become a piece of the larger picture and stuck in the middle of an experience.