La Esfinge (The Sphinx) – Big-Wall Climbing at 17,000ft

La Esfinge (The Sphinx) – Big-Wall Climbing at 17,000ft

I rest my head on a boulder and struggle to catch my breath. We are about half way up the relatively short approach to base camp and I am feeling weak and debilitated by the high attitude. How are we going to make it up a 2,500ft big wall if I can’t even hike 10 minutes without stopping to rest? After about a month climbing in the Cordillera Blanca, or the Peruvian Andes just outside of Huaraz, Peru, I have become accustomed to the roller coaster ride that is climbing at altitude

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Sunday in March

Sunday in March

I just keep staring at the calendar, as if it’s going to make the days go by faster.  I always longed for winter.  My days were filled with snowboarding and nights ice climbing.  It was my life. Year after year I couldn’t wait until it started to snow in the mountains. Now my life seems to be consumed by rock climbing and my attitude towards snow has taken a complete 180. 

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WA Pass Lemonade: the Direct East Buttress of SEWS- June 2018

WA Pass Lemonade: the Direct East Buttress of SEWS- June 2018

It started with a deer. Or more accurately, it started with the deer sprinting out into my lane, then trampolining off the hood in series of slow motion loops en route to the ditch. And when the body shop messed up the the timing for parts, the plan to drive out to Washington went up like the steam from the smashed radiator.

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The Road to El Cap - three average climbers set their sights on the big stone

The Road to El Cap - three average climbers set their sights on the big stone

Before two months ago, the only things I really knew about El Cap were: the Dawn Wall was over-publicized, Tommy Caldwell is a god, and anyone who climbed the Nose in a day was insane. Yosemite was a place you went to when you had mastered the routes at your local crag and were bored by the lowly grade of 5.12 trad. I didn’t think of it as attainable for my climbing. I didn’t even think about it as a place I was allowed to go.

I had just gotten back from seven months of backpacking in South America when my two best friends told me they had an outlandish goal: to try to climb El Cap in the fall.

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