Friday, December 27, 2013

Tips, tricks and the shortcomings of winter van living P.1

So I should preface this post with the statement that the following points are in no particular order and all can be equally valid when living in a vehicle during the colder months or might be all equally irrelevant, sometimes it's hard to say.

The van loves snow so much that sometimes it even needs to be pushed into moving. 

#1 Wine and beer do not freeze well. (This is number one because the learning experience was a rather poignant one.) I think this one is fairly self-explanatory, if you freeze them through the bottles will explode and leave you with a wine or beer slushy all over the interior of your vehicle. This will make you sad.

#2 Small scented candles are wonderful. During the winter I have found that I'm less inclined to let the van 'air' out as that's also letting out precious heat. As a result of this the smell of cooking, flatulence and dirty clothes can linger. If you're driving anyone around or spending anytime kicking it in your van/car yourself it can be nice to just sweep that eau d' you under the rug with a scented candle until you get a break in the weather for an air out session. Nice bonus is the heat gained from the candle flame, it's just the right size to warm your hands over in the morning or before climbing into bed.

#3 Water can be a bit tricky for the same reason (though not as messy) as #1. My way around water freezing solid, and thus inaccessible in water bottles or bladders is a little personalized but you may be able to extrapolate or adapt this strategy for yourselves. I will use what ever water I need at night for cooking and hot beverages and the remaining water is divided between my kettle (a standard enameled camping kettle) and my coffee percolator, so that in the morning I am able to reach over to my stove from the security and warmth of my sleeping bag and set those two to boiling, thus minimizing my time spent in the cold air and raising the level of stoke while waiting for a hot cup of coffee. Basically, just store your water in a place where, when it freezes you can easily melt it.

Remember in the winter time if you run out of water and you're in a snowy environment, in a pinch you can always melt snow, though it can be rather time consuming to get a sizable quantity of water this way but if you live in a van, chances are you have the time. Just stay away from snow that's not white...

#4 Layering. If you've spent anytime being active in the cold you understand the importance of layering. If you have not, the idea is as you get warmer you can drop layers and still maintain decent warmth and as you get cold you can add layers to trap warmth. This is true for the winter van dweller also but can be applied to more than just your clothes. I use layering in my sleeping set up as my sleeping bag is not sufficient alone on -20F nights so I have a light cotton liner (this is also for ease of washing), and several blankets and a quilt I can pile on top of my sleeping bag for the coldest nights. On warmer nights I might just sleep with my sleeping bag unzipped and as a blanket.

#5 Just to keep things complicated a super warm puffy is awesome and pretty much a requirement. Mine is one from PHD, you can check out their stuff via the link over >. This is awesome for when you first emerge from your sleeping bag, into your chilly interior or more importantly for when you venture out into the frigid world you are choosing to live in. A puffy just makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, literally and figuratively.

#6 Mess control. I'm still working on this one myself as my messes seem to ebb and flow but basically it's even easier to turn that small living environment into a pig stye during the winter than during the summer because you're wearing more layers that eventually have to be taken off and put somewhere, I, at least, am less inclined to organize in the cold because I'm hesitant to open doors and let out the warm air. Washing dishes is also less appealing because wet hands are cold hands and that sucks in the winter. This can be mitigated by washing dishes at work or friends houses where it's warm or by sucking it up and doing them in warm water and having a quick way to dry your hands, or just by not doing them and eating off dirty dishes.
                                             Argh, the dreaded mess can befall even me.

#7 Drying stuff kind of goes hand-in-hand with #6 in that when you're tromping around in the snow or whatever your clothes will get wet, whether it's from sweat or snow, and if you're like me and enjoy a winter sport or two then you know that ski or ice boots love to collect ice in all their nooks and crannies  and that it is far from the most enjoyable feeling to jam your toasty feet into a frozen liner and wait for your feet to thaw it out and then rewarm them. To avoid this, if possible put them in front of your vents when driving (this is imperfect but helps) or whenever possible bring them inside, this goes for liners as well as layers. I know that I try and wear wet layers in to work to hang and dry while I'm doing my thing.

A sample of a growing mess - note the missing boot liners.

Dampness is a huge thing in the winter van living because it is so present. This is a result as I said of bringing in the moisture from the outside as well as the condensation that occurs while sleeping, which is fairly unavoidable. I'm currently trying to experiment with silica and/or rice to absorb some of that moisture and I'll hopefully have results fairly soon to share.

I have spontaneously decided to make this a two part post as this is getting to be longer than anticipated and I am still just a little ways through my list and have not even gotten to some of the juicy stuff (besides boot liners).

So stay tuned for details on potty talk and personal hygiene, cooking, entertainment, heaters and my thoughts on planning. Until then here are a few pictures to keep the psyche high.

A day out climbing in December at the Puoux in Glenwood.

A delightful day in the backcountry with the Pearces. Looking over the Roaring Fork Valley.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Snow is piling up and I'm returning to employment again...

So in the past month I have eased myself back into the working life with a relaxing two weeks on, two weeks of schedule which I could certainly get used to! After the last post I was working and getting trained on the latest and greatest winter good for this season for what seemed to be 12 hours a day 14 days in a row, a slight exaggeration but still exhausting. So when I found out with a little shift swapping I could get nearly two weeks off that coincided with a group of friends going to Joshua Tree I was psyched.

So for the last couple weeks I have been enjoying the often balmy temperatures of southern California in tandem with the granitic pluton, friends and some good ol' rocks climbing. Basically I got spanked by 90% of the climbs there and did not get on anything particularly difficult, I did get plenty of mileage in soloing moderates and rallying up some awesome climbs with a handful of motivated individuals, needless to say it was awesome.

Thanksgiving was spent with many friends at a buddies' house; which was the coolest house I think I have ever been in. Thanksgiving day was spent pouring over dozens of books detailing the climbing history of CA, picture books of climbing around the world, guide books and climbing magazines, as well as chuckin' some hatchets (safely of course), cooking up a feast and marveling at Keanu Reeves acting mastery in Point Break (if you haven't seen it, it might be worth watching).

After thanksgiving we returned to the desert for a few short days of climbing and exploring the desert before returning to Durango and for me Aspen.

I'm now back in Aspen working away and trying to figure out how to stay comfortably warm and ski as much as possible. With a foot of snow on the ground and night time temperatures dropping to -16 F (as of last night) I'm getting back in to the swing of winter van living and taking notes for the next post on tips, tricks and the shortcomings of living in a van in the colder, darker months of the year.

About the photos...I kept telling myself to pull out the camera the whole trip to J-Tree and so I didn't take any pictures but here are a few some friends took. I'll see about getting some for the next post.

Thanksgiving card game (screw the dealer)
 Photo by Taryn Pearce

Figures on a Landscape with Spence
 Photo by Annie Edgecomb

Preparing for the zombie apocalypse
 Photo by Jenna Pearce

Arete slapping
 Photo by Jenna Pearce

Monday, November 4, 2013

Snow is falling and employment begins again.

I now find myself back in Aspen, CO after what seems like a blink of an eye. Though in that moment I think I have racked up over 60 hours of driving, four states, one government shutdown, hundreds of pitches climbed and who knows how many beers consumed. So I guess it wasn't the worst time of my life.

After my last update I worked for about two more weeks before heading down to Durango to hang out for a few days and ready myself for the road tripping that was about to commence. From Durango, I drove out to my seasonal home, Indian Creek. There I spend almost a week getting in as much climbing as possible to get into better climbing shape. In that time I was able to establish one new route and climbed many routes that were new to me ranging from 5.10-5.12.

After that short stint in the desert I drove out to Yosemite with my friend Tyler. On the way we received word that the government might be shutting down and the park as a result would be closing and according to the news we received we had to be in the park by midnight to guarantee our admittance, and so the race was on. After arriving in Camp 4 at 1am and snoozing for a few hours before getting a site I met up with my friend Jack and began hashing out climbing plans for the next week. Yes we knew the park was shutting down and no, we were not letting that rain on our parade. Jack had spent the night with a couple of other friends hauling some bags up to Heart Ledges on El Capitan. The next day we set off climbing the Freeblast, the first 11 pitches of the Salathe Wall and the right number of pitches and rappels brought us to dinner and sleeping bags. We wound up spending 5 days and 4 nights on the wall as we were in no rush to get off as we knew we'd be kicked out upon descending so I was able to enjoy a unique experience sleeping thousands of feet off of the valley floor, watching raptors rocket past, wake up to sunlight peeking around The Nose and of course hauling hundreds of pounds of gear up a vertical face (Thank god for mechanical advantages).

After getting the boot from Yosemite Tyler and I returned to the Indian Creek for more desert escapades and some side trips to Durango for a couple of weeks. Highlights from this time included hanging out with Durango friends on their weekend trips out. Getting to climb with my awesome girlfriend and watching her onsight pitch after pitch one weekend. Catching up with friends from far away places, like Salt Lake City. Meeting/making new friends from the UK and Australia. As well as onsighting and sending a passel of 12's and other routes on my todo list.

In the middle of this time in the desert I was able to spend a weekend with my Grandpa and a whole bunch of family out in the Chicago area. It was pretty rad to hear so many stories from an 89 year old's life and perspective!

For now I will spend my days working, undertaking new projects, recovering from the last week of partying and prepping the van for winter.

Any winter themed topics I ought to address?...Any topics in general you guys want to hear about?

Looking across the valley from El Cap.

Looking up the route

The topo for The Salathe.

Getting ready for the day after a slightly uncomfortable night on the portaledge.

Looking up at the sunrise from El Cap. Spire.

Looking down the route, though my left foot is blocking most of the route.

Made it to the top to enjoy a spectacular sunset.

No parking...unless you're this guy!

Looking down valley from Scarface wall. Photo by David Canova

A fraction of the Durango gang. Photo by David Canova

Ready to Jazzercise for Halloween. Photo by Shelby George

Another Durango gathering. Photo by David Canova.

I think I might have more photos that I took while schralping the gnar and will hopefully post those up later this month. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Pre-funemployment update

Alrighty here goes another update, is this rapid fire overwhelming? If so feel free to pace yourself as who knows when the next update is coming.

So, since my last update back in July I think some things have happened I will regurgitate some of them and have forgotten some of them so take this all with a grain of salt.

July was not super exciting so no worries there, there was occasional mountain bike rides (perhaps 3-4), free days were spent bolting new routes up on Independence Pass or equipping routes at Gold Butte with new hardware courtesy of the ASCA. When I was not doing any of the above I was working at the Ute (gear shop) or at Colorado Mountain College with the Extreme Sports Camp or various other groups that were psyched on getting out on the challenge course. There was very little down time which was something of a double edged sword but certainly made the month go by quickly.

August was marked by a surprise early return of my girlfriend which was needless to say delightful. Then my Grandma Mary passed away which was not so delightful. I was also working, bolting, climbing, mountain biking, tubing and going on other grand adventures before, during and after these other things. I was able to make my second attempt on a fourteener, this time shooting for Capitol with Taryn. Instead of looking at maps, making detailed plans and preparing super thoroughly I chose instead to put on my adventure pants and listen to my heart. As a result we narrowly missed the correct trail head and took another trail that sent us in the wrong direction leading to a ~16 mile scenic hike with great views of Capitol Peak as well as some alpine lakes and the Roaring Fork valley. I was also able to return to Rifle for some sportz climbing for the first time in a few months which was still humbling and awesome.

This month Nathan (my neighbor that I've been developing the new crag with) and I have finished development on the new crag (read: we ran out of bolts) and I have begun preparing for funemployment. Preparations include: picking up extra shifts (not sure why though), day dreaming about not being at work, day dreaming about the desert, stocking up on gear, fine tuning the van and getting my adventure pants ready. Sure I've been getting out mountain biking for some 20-30 mile rides and squeezing some climbing in before going into work so life's not all anguish and misery. Oh ya I said I'd do a little bragging about my mad skillz which is to say that I'm pscyhed to say that I've sent my hardest sport route to date a few weeks ago, which is clocking in at maybe 5.12 something, it's hard to say as it's a first ascent and there have not been many repeats to confirm the grade but maybe hard 5.12 who knows?

Here are a few pictures, I apologize for the lacking number as I seem to forget to take the camera out on all of the adventures I have.
A sunrise that was not fully captured by the camera

One of many fantastic views of Capitol Peak

Looking over the Roaring Fork Valley

The 'Well lets just go up there and turn around' spot.

Anaerobic Nightmare indeed. 

Aww, some nice flowers in September to greet the end of a rather long ride.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sketchy People

Alright so I think that I ought to preface this post with the statement that none of the following descriptions are enough to pass judgement on individuals, they're merely guidelines and suggestions on characteristics to be wary of.

In my experience the following are red flags that should encourage you from committing to any extreme adventures with the individual:

Brand spankin' new gear. If all of their gear is shiny and not scuffed up watch out. This can include climbing stuff, tents, stoves, paddling gear etc. This is a pretty sure indicator that either they've just won the lottery and have revamped their gear supply (Note: this is not very likely) or they have the money and decided that they're psyched enough to drop X dollars on said activity. These people may initially seem appealing as you get to use and abuse their nice new stuff, they might have massive amounts of stoke. However, you must consider their knowledge base, do they really know what they're doing or are they just name and phrase dropping stuff they got from wikipedia or the online forums? Have they set their stuff up mostly right but have done some quirky stuff that's not quite the norm? Are they taking an unusually long time to set up their tent with questions like 'wait why do I want my head facing up hill?' DANGER!

Dirty/unwashed.  This one is largely dependent on the venue. Exceptions might be considered in Camp 4, the greater Moab area, Colorado and anywhere else that attracts folks that raft, climb, bike, hike or camp in remote and hard to shower areas. However, if you're in an area that is close to or a real urban zone with plentiful showers, Starbucks (read: sink showers) and generous folks and you stumble across someone that isn't returning from a trip that smells like they are or has copious amounts of dirt smeared over them watch out! This individual may not be quite in touch with social norms, they may mooch excessively (particularly from the whiskey), they might not pick up on hints that it's time for a shower or simply time to move on. Have you ever wanted a friend that you despise? If so hang out with folks that fit these descriptions.

Guns. If a recent acquaintance is packing heat and psyched on applying this heat to their immediate surroundings consider this another red flag. This is by no means an complete deal breaker but if this one is in combination with some of these others then it's time to throw caution to the wind and find somewhere else to be quick especially when combined with the next topic.

Casual references to recent jail time. If your new friend starts talking about getting out of the slammer it's cool to ask what put them there. If it's something rad like inciting a riot, depantsing the governor etc. then you need not worry and in fact may consider more quickly befriending that individual. If instead they person responds with aggravated assault, theft, murder etc. then it's time to ask yourself if you really want to be associated with such an individual. Folks in this latter category might also begin issuing death threats or threats of bodily harm to individuals of their past, this is what I like to call a cherry on top that makes the decision to relocate easy. Consider though, before moving on is there a chance that you'll want a violent and seedy individual to get advice from or as a contact for the black market? If you answered yes maybe a loose connection and positive relationship with that person could be helpful. Just sayin'.

Male, Foreign, and traveling alone. Exceptions for this one definitely exist, however by and large these exceptions make the rule. If you want an epic twist in your trip (epic in this context is not a good thing) then get this person's story and a belay. However, if they've been in country for more than a few weeks an have been unable to hold down a consistent friend/partner there could be a reason for that. Feel free to ask me stories on these folks over a beer sometime, there are lots of lessons to be learned I'm just lacking the motivation to write that novel this morning.

When plans don't quite add up. When talking with a recent acquaintance and they being talking about their plans to climb the Nose solo and then start talking about the guy that taught them everything they know at their home gym and that they started climbing 8 months ago. Danger. This one can be especially emphasized by the shiny gear thing. Maybe this person is a natural badass and is capable of succeeding in this seemingly harebrained adventures, but they're probably not.

Well I'll try and do some more posting soon with the rest of the things I mentioned in the last post, but first I need to shower so I don't get lumped into some of the aforementioned categories.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Fear not avid blog readers

I am not dead and have not quite given up on this. This is more of a teaser than a real post as I don't have time between catching flights and finding folks to cover my shifts this weekend.

However, in the next entry you can expect some and maybe all of the following.
-Stories of the cool and unsavory sorts of folks you meet while on the road (and perhaps some tips on how to avoid the latter).
-Life updates (read: excuses for not writing at all this past month)
-Plans for the future with funemployment looming in the not-so-distant future and thriving freeganism in Aspen.
-Pictures that might be cool
-Bragging about my rocks climbing skillz
-More talk of bolting
-And maybe other stuff

In the mean time I suggest putting off work or school stuff and go on some poorly planned adventures.

Monday, July 29, 2013


So for this installment of the van life tips and insights (I think that's what these are) I thought I'd touch on a near and dear subject that my cousin has labeled 'freeganism'. Basically, freeganism is a compulsion or motivation to accept and collect free things in order to better or maintain one's standard of living. This can range from a pair of shoes found alongside the interstate, a meal offered by friends, family or strangers, a hand out from work etc.

I'm sure you can all think back fondly on a time when you got a sweet hand-me-down sweater or found a soda in a vending machine that you snagged. This does not make you a freegan. If, however, those both happened in the last week and you have also chosen a profession you know you'll get free samples from, you visit Costco specifically when you're hungry, you choose to use library internet rather than getting your own or, the thought of a new pair of shoes for free makes you giddy and giggly...then you may indeed be a freegan.

This is a perfectly acceptable way to cut down on costs while continuing to do what you like to do. However, I'm afraid that there is a dark side to freeganism that I only recently became aware of. It is possible to become addicted and blind to the fact that you can collect too much stuff. Eight pairs of free shoes may be too many, a full wardrobe of shirts that you didn't pay for but received fairly, daily trips to the supermarket dumpster for expired veggies and cookies may all be indicators of a freegan overload.

The good news is there is a quick and easy fix! You now have the power to enable and encourage other freegans with your excess. Feel free to gift on some of those things you don't really need. Donate to a local thrift shop (not quite a freegan move but close enough for me to allow it). Ask among your friends to see if any of them are freegans or know one and earn some of those good karma points. A sweet side effect of giving your excess (but usable) stuff away is the awesome feeling of doing good while streamlining your life. Those of you that have done this know what I'm talking about. Those that don't well hop on board and give it a go.
Hat, Free. Vest, Free. Shoes, Free. Pure joy, Free. 

A likely bunch of candidates for freeganism.

You can have fun with free stuff and what better way to not waste a 5lb bag of spinach than with a spinach eating contest.

Photos by Kayla Watson.

Friday, July 5, 2013

New Craggin'

So this will be a brief update as my life continues to be largely dominated by work.

However, when I have had time off of work or before going in to work I've spent much of it on Independence Pass, a mountain pass just outside of Aspen, CO that is stacked with alpine granite. I was lucky enough to be tipped off on an untouched chuck of rock that is/was prime for development by a local sales rep. Over the past month I have established several slab climbs, a sport climb and a half (that still need to be finished/climbed) and a few trad climbs with the help of several of my co-workers. Yesterday was one of the most productive days up there as I got to climb with a friend and we established two new trad climbs (one of which being his first first ascent) and got to top rope a number of the slabs and I got to work on the finished sport climb that I think will clock in in the 5.12 range. Needless to say stoke is high.

If any of you reading this are climbers and are psyched to donate hardware or a Bosch cordless hammer drill you're welcome to get in contact!

If anyone has any route name suggestions or crag names feel free to give me a shout as I have not yet decided on anything.

Here are a couple of pictures of the crag and various phases of it being developed.
The upper crag

5 minutes to drill a hole and place a bolt.

5.9+ hand crack.

1 hour to drill a hole and place a bolt haha.

5.8 wide crack

Friday, June 21, 2013

Climbing diction and an update making for a new and old kind of post.

So I have had a request for a quick run down on climbing terminology as it can certainly sound like a foreign language to the uninitiated. I would suggest buying Matt Samet's Climbing Dictionary. I haven't read it but it seems pretty comprehensive with 650+ words. Obviously I will not be going in to that level of detail.

So basically there are a few different types of climbing and this seems like a good place to begin.

Aid-This is more or less how climbing took off and is usually seen as a means to an end. Aid climbers use removable and fixed hardware in combination with nylon ladders to climb up the wall. This approach requires a bigger bankroll, more patience and less fitness (usually).
Free climbing- Free climbing includes the following categories and is simply where a climber relies on their own skillz and strength to climb using only natural features on the rock.
Trad (traditional)- Trad climbing is the style I most prefer where one takes removable protection (Pro) with them up the wall and placing the various types in cracks or pockets.
Sport- Sport climbing is another practice of free climbing however it requires that there be pre placed bolts that define a route and also protect it, this is generally perceived to be a bit safer than trad climbing and is also the style of climbing that has allowed for the hardest routes to be established.
Bouldering- a.k.a. pebble wrasslin' is pulling really hard on really small hold on (usually) boulders that may range in size from a dog kennel to a house.
Free Soloing- is what Alex Honnold does, no ropes or jingly things, just rock climbing with out the option of falling. The vast majority of climbers do not free solo as the potential consequences are not thought to be worth the risk.

Concepts behind climbing.
Leading - This is how one gets the rope to the top. It requires the leader to climb and place gear or clip bolts to prevent a fall that would end on the ground, once at the top of a climb or unable to continue their belayer/climbing partner lowers them to the ground in hopefully a controlled manner.
Toproping- Is where the rope is running through an already established anchor at the top of a climb, this method allows climbers to focus on the movement of a climb with out the distraction of a potential fall.
Following- Following is much like top roping but is where a person follows the leader to the top of the climb and both return to the ground together or on a longer climb continue up together.

Random stuff
Pitch- A pitch is the length of a segment of a climb, not usually more than 1 rope length.
Grading- The system consists of five classes indicating the technical difficulty of the hardest section. Class 1 is the easiest and consists of walking on even terrain. Class 5 is climbing on vertical or near vertical rock, and requires skill and a rope to proceed safely. Un-roped falls would result in severe injury or death (wikipedia). The grade of 5.- goes from 5.0 to 5.15(currently) there is also the option of adding on a + or - or letter a-d to indicate if the clime is difficult or easy for the respective grade.

If you have anymore questions on the terminology I've used let me know and I'll try and clear it up!

Update time. 

Basically most of my times since the last post has been occupied by work with a few trips to Rifle for some sport climbing. The biggest development has been the start of the bolting process for a new climbing area with a buddy. It looks right now like the cliff will hopefully have a range of climbs from 5.6-5.14(?) sport and trad which will be pretty exciting I think. Now it's time to order some more bolts and go crazy. 

                               The new crag.

Unfortunately it seems that work and the new crag are the only things on the schedule for the time being!

The first anchor bolt!

Occupying my free time with some cooking, chicken cordon bleu pictured.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The End of Funemployment

With my last update I was planning on heading to the Black Canyon for the weekend which wound up coming to fruition; needless to say I was psyched!

I ended up meeting my friend J on Thursday night and we came up with a game plan to ease me back in to the swing of things so the next day we rallied down the Cruise gully after a nice leisurely breakfast and couple of cups of coffee to do The Diagonal (5.12) a route new to the both of us. We were able to solo and simul a bit more than half the climb which certainly helped the 2000' day go by a lot faster. After hundreds of feet of some grand old choss wrangling (for the uninitiated the Black has a reputation for lots of loose rock among other things, The Diagonal more than lived up to this reputation) I got to lead the only clean, and in my opinion the best pitch of the route a 11+/12- technical dihedral protected with a couple of bolts. It felt like I was back in Rifle doing some good ol' sportz clippin' actioneering....almost. With a bit more groveling and some run out chimneying we were sippin' on suds on the North Chasm View it was grand!

Some big old hole in the ground.
The next day after being turned away from our original objectives by SAR we decided to do The Scenic Cruise (5.10+), a clean classic that I'd not done only to discover a desperately slow party of three on it. Luckily we were able to do a different start (The Cruise 5.10+) and after thrashing my way up the wide pitch we passed the party of three and blasted through the last pitches with a couple of linkups for a fairly early day. We found out the next day that the party we passed ended up spending an unplanned night on the wall, needless to say we were doubly psyched to have passed them in hindsight.

J finishing the traverse pitch

After the Black adventures I had my first day of work at CMC doing more challenge course facilitation, which was a blast despite the constant rain all that day. Since then I was hired on at Ute Mountaineering, a gear shop in Aspen for a full time job which, needless to say has occupied much of my time between training, gear clinics and actually working. I have gotten out to Independence pass with a new friend Nathan to do a little before work climbing and checking out some sweet potential projects for the summer. I'm pretty stoked to see where this second job leads as it seems to potentially be opening doors for local crag development and also for anchor replacement stuff for the desert.

For Mother's Day Taryn and I cruised down to Grand Junction to do Otto's Route (5.9-) on Independence Monument for her first desert tower and to visit her grandma and the rest of her family. While it was a touch warm we couldn't have asked for a nicer day to climb such an unusual route.
I also had my wisdom teeth out which was far less eventful than I anticipated as I didn't have any significant swelling, pain or complications with down time lasting about 24 hours before a bike ride and a day back in Rifle.
My current kitchen

The new backyard

Sunday, May 19, 2013

It's all about who you know, not what you know

I feel like networking has been a huge part of my so far short but sweet adult life. My mom has been harping on the importance and benefits of networking for longer than I can remember and certainly she's something of a master so I can safely say this post is all about what my mom has taught me and how it has made my lifestyle feasible.

Basically, I think that networking comes down to a few key components, being outgoing, following through and making a positive impression.

Obviously if you are not meeting people you're definitely not going to meet the right folks. A lot of the time that I've met folks that later turned in to great network assets it was completely by chance, running in to them at a campground, sitting next to them on a flight etc. While context can help with finding folks to network with eg work, climbing (read: your favored outdoor activity), the local gym etc. So ya, meet new people, which seems to be a good idea even outside of the concept of networking.

Follow through is clutch, if/when people make offers it's hard to take them up on those offers if you fail to stay in touch or feel like you're imposing too much. That being said it's certainly important not to impose or push too hard since that can turn people off, develop a bad rep (which could certainly inhibit future networking opportunities) and expose you for a dirtbag or something similar. This is pretty much a line you have to draw for yourself and may require some trial and error but I've found it is easier to err on the side of caution and be polite and try and cut visits shorter rather than longer.

Positive impression is good but the other two suggestions should be more of a priority with this being something you just do. Being nice hopefully isn't too strenuous as well as being considerate of folk's different backgrounds and being sensitive to those. That being said some people are just better at this than others, so be aware of what you can improve on.

A last tip that isn't required but I'd definitely suggest is simply pay it forward, if you help folks out they're more inclined to help you or introduce you to networks that can help you. To be cliche and redundant relationships are a two way street or rather that's what I've heard successful relationships are.

Any other tips and tricks you guys have found to be helpful?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Indian Creek, Rifle and the Black Canyon...sounds like an Enormocast episode

Since I last updated I have moved on from the Creek after spending about six weeks (read not enough time) there after getting snowed out and having work commitments in Carbondale.

Before I left

As I left (looking up canyon)

Also as I left (looking down canyon)

Basically my last few weeks at the Creek I ticked fewer than anticipated climbs off of my to-do list as a result of establishing and finishing more new routes. The most recent and greatest of which was the Battle of Wits that I did with Dan Hughes, (which still needs a little work) but the pitch by pitch break down goes something like this: P1: ledgy climbing to a bit of 5.11-R which takes to to an alright belay stance. P2: Climb past some protection bolts and a slightly expanding flake into a flare and pull on fingers through a roof to a gently overhanging off fingers and .75 splitter (5.12). P3: Do a V4/5 boulder problem off the belay to gain a tips crack to easy and varied climbing to the belay ledge(5.12).P4: The best finger crack I have ever done, go through a few crack changes up a slightly overhanging headwall that ends in some thank god stemming and chimneying that leads to the rim(5.12). This thing is

When not climbing my friend Jack and I honed in our hatchet throwing skillz. Note the mulch at the base of the post.

Hatchet throwing highlights included a five rotation throw that was maybe 30-40ft back. and Cutting the underwear in half and pinning them to the post.

Since I've set up camp in Glenwood I have been feasting on humble pie while sport climbing with Kevin, Liesel, my uncle Mike, Taryn and a few other folks. Basically, sport climbing vs. trad climbing(what I normally do) is climbing routes with bolts, used for protection and usually safer than placing gear as you go. Most people climb harder while sport climbing than trad climbing, but not this guy so I'm working hard to improve and balance out the two. I've been climbing so far just at a local crag called the Puoux and in Rifle Mountain Park where I've climbed up to 5.11+.

Tomorrow I'm looking forward to meeting my friend J in the Black to do some longer routes and do a little adventuring. Hopefully this works out better than the last Black trip I tried, could be dicey as we got some snow last night but I'm optimistic.

Waking up at CMC to Mt. Sopris after a delightful nights rest.