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Brain Training

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Brain Training

In the world of Rock climbing there are different levels of riskiness when you climb large walls. Top Rope is the safest, being secured for the entire climb, safely protected by a rope at the top of the climb. Next is Sport Climbing, or "Lead" climbing, for this type you take the rope up connected to a harness and clip the rope thru carabiners that are clipped to bolts drilled directly into the wall. Lastly we have "Trad" climbing (Traditional), this is the riskiest type of rope climbing  because you rely strong metal pieces that you place into cracks in the wall. The reason Trad is the riskiest is because it relies on the climber's knowledge of how to place gear correctly. If it's placed incorrectly and you take a fall, there's a chance for it to pull completely out of the wall and send you plummeting to the next piece of gear....or the ground. 

Something I struggled with when I first starting "lead" climbing outside was my mental game. I was pretty spooked on sport climbing anything outside for a while until I forced myself to overcome my fear. Trad climbing is a whole different monster of because the risk is there that the gear you place might come out when you fall. I've had kind of a love / fear relationship with trad climbing, where I really want to be a strong all around climber, but am nervous about taking the plunge into leading on trad. 

Quads were on fire after this one

Quads were on fire after this one

Going into my 8th week of non stop climbing and traveling, I heard about a guy in my training program taking a trip out to the Witchitas for some Trad climbing. He gladly let me tag along for the trip and we headed out early Saturday Morning. We got slightly lost in our search for "The Narrows" and we were lucky enough to tack on some mountaineering training into our Trad day...I choose to stay positive about our 20min detour. 

After arriving to our wall and consuming several Peanut butter blue berry bagels (The official food of a climber who forgot his food) Zach got geared up and ready to rock on our first climb of the day, a 5.6. The climb was a Dihedral crack where the smooth face of the wall meets in a corner of the side of the cliff. Zach cruised up the climb placing gear every 6-10 feet or so, what we refer to as "plugging it up" with gear. 

Zach placing some gear in the crack. 

Zach placing some gear in the crack. 

After Zach finished the climb Amanda "cleaned" the route on Top rope. I had danced around with the idea of doing the route of Top rope first just to get the moves kind of memorized in my head before taking the leap into actually leading the route on Trad. But I remembered my first time sport climbing outside, and how I had wussed off a 5.9 because I was too scared to fall. I knew I had the strength and the climbing knowledge to climb this route, but this would be a test of my mental fortitude. So I racked up and dove in head first. 

The climb is pretty vivid in my mind, as well as my thoughts while climbing, so I'm going to pull the curtain away and show exactly what goes through my head when climbing something that gets me a little spooked. 

I walk up to the first moves of the climb, check my knot on my harness, chalk my hands, grab the first hold and pull myself onto the face. Zach had told me on the ground that I want to be placing gear every 6 feet if I could. He had this kind of look on his face that was like "Well I hope he can do this". I get up to the first ledge about 7 feet high on the wall, and pull my sling from my back to across my chest to see which "Cam" will fit the crack best. After some messing around with it I get in a spot I'm comfortable with. I notice that it takes way longer than clipping some carabiners on sport climbing, and that my right leg is pretty tired already with a hot sensation hanging out in my thigh. I keep going on up, the feet are a little more slanted than I was expecting on a 5.6, and it had me taking some extra time placing my toes on specific spots. I throw my left hand high up on the next ledge and mantle onto the top of it finding a nice spot to place gear from. This was probably 10 feet above my last placement so I made a mental note to try to place a piece about neck level into the crack and another piece a full arm's length above it. I'm feeling slightly spooked at this point so I increase my focus by putting some thought into my breathing, letting everything else fade out with only my exhale filling my ears. I get about 8 feet up from my last Cam placement and get situated in this indentation in the wall. At this point my left foot is secured on a slightly slanted ledge but my right foot is completely smeared against the flat face of the wall. I pause for a moment and look down at my last piece of protection 8 feet below me.

There's a point my mentor Mario talks about when you do large multipitch climbs  he calls "The Point of No Return", meaning you've gone too far up, there's no way to down climb...Going up is the fastest and only way to get down. This realization hit me about 40 feet up this wall, There was no stopping, it was game time and I needed to move quickly and precisely to avoid getting too tired to climb this route. I plugged in a Cam into the crack about belly level and got a higher foot to place another one in a small roof crack above my head. I continued to the right side of the roof crack pulling myself onto the face of the wall. I noticed an "X" had been marked with chalk on a deep jug which means "DONT GRAB ME - I MIGHT COME OFF THIS WALL AT ANY POINT". However this jug...was the best jug of all time.. and the X had been placed weirdly and could've easily been meant to mark rock in the roof. I decided to place my left hand lightly in this jug, while getting a high right foot and grabbing a small ledge with my right hand. Delicately walking both feet onto the face of the wall, I grabbed a cam from my sling and placed it in the crack about eye level. I could see the end of the climb just 30 more feet up this wall I had climbed 60ish feet already.

I traversed over probably 5 feet and mantled onto a small ledge. I stood up carefully on the ledge, glancing over my left shoulder looking at my last piece about 9 feet down and to the left of where I stood. I leaned forward into the wall taking my hands completely off the wall for the first time in 70 feet. Simultaneously thinking, "Man it would suck to fall right here and whip into that roof" and "Is this what Alex Honnold feels like when he was free solo'ing El Capitan". I careful twist my hips to the right and step carefully across this half a foot wide ledge, using nothing but my feet and balance to get me across. I got over to a bulge of rock with a nice side crack in it and placed another piece of protection. My legs were pretty tired at this point and started to shake, or what we call "Elvis Leg". The top was only 15 more feet up this, and very featured with gigantic blocks of stone protruding from the otherwise clean face of this wall. I recognized that this would be the easiest part of the climb and didn't waste a second, feeling a surge of joy that I had only a few feet between me and my first Trad lead, I flew up the last section of the climb. 

I grabbed the top of the wall and clipped my "PAS" (Personal anchor system) to the bolts at the top of the climb and yelled "OK I'M ON ANCHOR" down to Zach. Something I try to keep in mind whenever I'm climbing is that you're not done until you're back on the ground. A lot of climbing mistakes happen because people get hyped up at the end of a route and forget that it's still dangerous until you're on the ground. I lock my carabiner, untie & feed the rope thru the chains. When I'm safely back on the ground I'm ecstatic. The feeling of being scared and overcoming it while you're in the moment is like no other. 

I've done a lot of sport climbing in the two years I've been climbing, and even done a second ascent on a 5.12, but I don't think anything I've done can compare with my 5.6 Trad lead. Something about being nervous about something and the laser focus you get because of it just makes it mean more. I meant to put a GoPro on my head before I went up, but completely forgot, and I didn't get any pictures of me climbing it because I think everyone just wanted to watch how it went haha. I almost like that a little more than having photos or video, because I'll always remember my first time trad climbing on a cold, windy, day in Oklahoma. 

The view from the top

The view from the top

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What 7 Weeks of Travel Looks & Feels Like

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What 7 Weeks of Travel Looks & Feels Like

The beginning of my year has been amazing so far. I've gone on 7 consecutive trips to climbing destinations across Texas and the southern United States. It can be tiring to constantly go go go, but I take my opportunities when they arise because I never know if they'll show themselves again. Because of this I plan on being gone every weekend usually, and I tell people I'm not free from Friday - Sunday night, simply because I delegate that time for myself. Something new this year is the importance i've put on photography and using it to help tell my stories in a way that people can appreciate from a quick glance, and I'm loving it so far. 

Denis and our guide checking out a "Hueco" (an indentation in the rock) 

Denis and our guide checking out a "Hueco" (an indentation in the rock) 

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Traveling at the beginning of the year usually means grabbing your lowest degree sleeping bag but this year the south has seemingly skipped our winter haha. It's made my travels to Oklahoma, New Mexico, and El Paso (All more cold than my native Dallas) not so bad temperature wise. Last year this time I was freezing my toes off in a 40 degree bag in Horseshoe canyon ranch with temps as low as 22 degrees...AND it rained on us! Needless to say God has smiled on the south this year and the coldest I've endured so far has been low 40s and maybe some high 30s at night. 

"Trent, don't you ever get tired??" something my friend Mo said to me while we were hiking through the massive boulder field on the side of upper Mt. Scott. I replied like Bruce Banner (The Hulk in Avengers) "That's my secret Mo....I'm always tired" as I turned into the incredible human hiking machine. All jokes aside, yes I do feel fatigue hahah.. It can be exhausting to hike to a climb, climb all day, and then hike back up the mountain to the camp site, like we did in New Mexico. The key is to not let it consume you, a lot of the time before I leave on a trip, I'm feeling exhausted from the week at work and school. I'll attribute making myself push thru usually to already having solid plans in place, but also to the fact that I keep my psych level HIGH!!!! I'm always hyped to get outside. 

Feeling a little tired after a 70 foot 5.12b at Sitting Bull Falls, NM

Feeling a little tired after a 70 foot 5.12b at Sitting Bull Falls, NM

Partially what I look forward to on these trips is the connections that are made. On the way to New Mexico, Doland, mentioned that he was interested in Rope Access work, and Denis just happened to know a guy who owned a company who need Rope Access workers. I kid you not, Doland called the guy as we shopped for food in a Carlsbad, NM Walmart and got hired on the spot. Later on in the trip when we went to Hueco Tanks, Doland and I would find ourselves sat around a campfire with two other guys. We sat and talked about the "soul of rock climbing" and a bunch of other hippie stuff haha. As we talked with the guys we found out that our plan to "walk on" to Hueco Tanks wouldn't work because all the spots would be filled before we could talk to the rangers. As luck would have it one of the guys we were talking to was a certified guide for Hueco Tanks, and would end up being our guide the next day. The guy was super awesome, and actually knew Denis from Baltimore when Denis worked at the climbing gym there. It was really cool to see how we're all connected in ways we don't even know, unless we connect with others.

Doland (Left) Denis (Center) and our Guide, looking at a few warm up routes in Hueco Tanks.

Doland (Left) Denis (Center) and our Guide, looking at a few warm up routes in Hueco Tanks.

Alec feeling good after a full day on the wall.

Alec feeling good after a full day on the wall.

The whole purpose of this website and me writing is to inspire people to get outside and be bold. I want to inspire adventure, because I've seen what it does for me and how rewarding it is. So far i've taken 4 people out this year who have never climbed outside before, and we had a blast. You don't need to be on my climbing level to enjoy climbing outside with me, or for anyone for that matter. A good attitude, willingness to learn, and persistence is all it takes to enjoy climbing or doing anything really. 

I love the life I live. I love sharing my passion with others through my writing and photos. If you ever want to learn how to climb, go camping, take cool photos, plan a trip, or just talk, we have a "Contact Us" page or you can just message us on Facebook!

Onto the next adventure!

Onto the next adventure!

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Establishing Boulders in Oklahoma

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Establishing Boulders in Oklahoma

Hueco Tanks, TX is the world standard for bouldering grading. AKA a V5 at hueco is how difficult a V5 everywhere should be. 

Hueco Tanks, TX is the world standard for bouldering grading. AKA a V5 at hueco is how difficult a V5 everywhere should be. 

The past 5 weekends (6 with Oklahoma) I've been off living the dream climbing around the southern United states and taking pics as I go of myself and friends crushing rocks. I had planned to go to Oklahoma with Evan, Jack, and Moe the weekend after I came back from Hueco Tanks to possibly establish some new boulders on Mount Scott. Myself having the most experience with outdoor climbing and having visited the Standard for bouldering (Hueco Tanks) the previous weekend, I had a pretty good idea on how the routes should be graded. 

We set up camp after the quick 3ish hour drive to the Wichita Wildlife preserve camp area, and messed around climbing on some trees lit by head-lamps. The psych was high, none of us had ever gotten an "FA" (First Ascent) on any rock climb, so we didn't really know what to expect. Basically the basics of establishing an outdoor boulder are: 

  • Clean off the route: Remove any branches or other foliage and brush off dirt and loose rock
  • Climb every move of the route from start to finish and "Top Out" the boulder meaning stand on top of it when finished 
  • Name & Grade the route: The person who gets FA on a route also gets the privilege to name it. Then hopefully he has friends around to also climb it, and they all agree on a "V Scale" grade such as V3
  • Lastly you take pictures of the boulder and GPS mark it for when you put it's location on "Mountain Project" (a website of all the climbing routes that exist). 

With this knowledge in hand and pop-tarts in our bellies we set off up the road to Upper Mt. Scott. We pulled over at the first possible area for cars to pull off on, and take a gander up towards the top of the mountain. We notice several large boulders on the hill and set off on some recon to see if there was anything climbable on the lower section. Having been bouldering outside a few times I knew what to look for; Boulder height, hand holds, loose rock, fall zone, even foot holds are important to identifying if a boulder is possible to be climbed. 

We found 3 boulders after about 10 minutes of hiking up that would eventually yield 4 actual rock climbs. We decided as a group we wanted to find 4 actual boulders before heading back down to the car and grabbing the crash pads and gear, so we headed further up the mountain towards some larger rocks. We found what we would later call "The Rook" boulder, and that single boulder would yield 3 rock climbs. With our 4 boulders located we grabbed our gear and headed back to the first boulder. 

This Boulder had a very unique ledge like feature that came up to about the nipple area on us (We're all roughly 5'11"). Because of the high ledge it meant we would have to "Mantle", meaning use very upper body heavy move to get on top of the ledge. Jack hit it first and got it with no issue. The mantle is quite easy, followed up by some high hands to a crimp towards the top, some high feet follow that and you hug the top of the boulder while walking your feet up the side eventually leading to the top out. Jack got the "FA" and named it "Mantle to Greatness", and we all decided it would be a V2 in difficulty. Made a great warm up route. 

The next boulder is located directly behind the "Mantle to Greatness" climb on a small, long, boulder behind a large tree/bush thing. It caught my eye when we were scouting around because of the very defined top of the boulder that had a very nice edge. It would prove very good while climbing as we threw heel & toe hooks on it as we traversed it's 7-10 foot length to a semi-hard, small, mantle at the end. Evan got the FA on the route and named it "College", since he felt it mimic'd the College experience (Easy until the end, when it gets real). We rated the route at V3.

Jack throwing a heel hook at the finish of "College" V3

Jack throwing a heel hook at the finish of "College" V3

Jack getting ready for the final move off the sketchy foot jib. 

Jack getting ready for the final move off the sketchy foot jib. 

Satisfied with our first two climbs of the day we folded up the crash pads and headed up to our next boulder, "The Rook". Moe named the actual boulder since it was very square he felt it resembled the chess piece. We determined from the initial recon that these routes would be fairly easy based off very obvious hand holds. Moe, not wanting to miss the chance on getting an easy FA, laced his shoes up and hopped on the first one. The route rides the "arete" (corner of the boulder) starting on two side pulls, working it's way up to another nice side pull with the finish being EXTRA committing with 1 horrible foot to push yourself to the top of the boulder. Needless to say pushing off 1 sub-optimal foot with the consequence of slipping off being "Cheese Grating" down the 5 feet of boulder below you is never ideal! Like the boss he is Moe reaches to the finish with no fear, Aptly naming the route "The Pawn" rated V1. 

The next route would be on "The Rook" boulder again. This one on the left side of the face staring sitting low on a side pull and firing up to a right hand crimp. You work your way towards the left of the route grabbing a sub-optimal side pull and smearing feet on nothing and doing a quick but precise power move to the top. Jack got the FA on this one too naming it "Footloose" based off the lack of feet the further up the route you went. We rated it V1 as well. 

Jack sits on top and watches as Evan sets his eyes on the next move of "Footloose" V1

Jack sits on top and watches as Evan sets his eyes on the next move of "Footloose" V1

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The third Climb on "The Rook" boulder is on the backside in relation to the first two, distinguishable by the pronounced low ledge. The climb starts sitting on low smear feet and hands on a sloper-crimp left hand up high and a right on a lower crimp. You work your left hand out further onto the downward sloping ledge, matching it while throwing a high heel hook, then throw your right hand up to a pretty decent side pull, finishing with a left hand at the top of the climb. Jack would get the FA on this one as well and named it "Ladybug Central" based off of the insane amount of lady bugs living behind a gigantic flake we pulled off. The climb went at V3. 

At this point we had realized we miscalculated the amount of water we would need for 4 people and accidentally consumed all of it... This compounded with the fact we had not eaten yet the dudes were leaning towards heading back down the hill. Sadly for Jack, Moe, and Evan, I had my eyes on these two protruding boulders a few hundred feet up the Mountain all day, and I was going to climb them damnit! So I forced us further up the Mountain side, luckily it would pay off with the best climb of the day. 

We get to the area I had dragged us to, and we see a green speckled flat face that I think spoke to Evan and I from the distance, whispering "Climb me"... in a non creepy way.

We set up our pads under it and get working on the beta for this climb. The climb starts hanging low on some decent sloper hands, followed by bumping a right hand up and bringing your feet up to the start holds. You do a fairly large reach to a left hand side pull located in the middle of the boulder and walk your feet down to the bottom of the boulder. This part would be our first "Crux" as we couldn't figure out a way to go past the left hand side pull as there was nowhere to put our right hand on the face of the boulder. We tried matching the side pull, throwing an insanely low undercling, even toe hooking the start of the climb in an attempt to gently place a right hand on a garbage crimp. Luckily for us in all our attempts to figure the route out, we broke off a decent sized flake and it made exactly what we needed...a right hand crimp side pull. It wasn't much but it was all we needed, We grabbed the left hand side pull and brought the right hand down to a crimp about shoulder level. Then we entered into the 2nd Crux zone.. the GIGANTIC right hand cross to a sloper. Unlike the last issue, we weren't struggling with lack of holds, rather a lack in technique that required us to get smarter in order to complete the problem. We walked both feet further over left following a low crack and bumped our left hand to a sloper side pull, setting up for the crux. Bumping right hand into a "Gaston" on the originally left hand side pull and then throwing for the far right hand sloper. After about 5-10 attempts each we finally all nailed the move and topped out the boulder easily. Super rewarding to discover a beautiful boulder, figure out that it has a climb on it, and then project it into submission. Evan got the FA and named it "Life Force" and we decided to rate it V5-V6 since it was right on the edge. 

All in all we had an excellent day bouldering, better than I think we all expected. There are zero boulders established on Mt. Scott itself meaning everything we climbing was a legitimate First Ascent. The community usually expects super strong crushers to go out and establish routes but they forget about the lower end routes that get established by regular dudes. Jack, Evan, and I all climb roughly V7-V8 in the gym, by no means "expert" or insanely strong at bouldering. I encourage anyone who wants to go out and try out our boulders to do so, message me if you feel like you need a better idea of where they're located and I'll give you some good directions on how to hike up to them. 

The crew feeling tired and satisfied after the full day of bouldering. 

The crew feeling tired and satisfied after the full day of bouldering. 

Evan also made a pretty great video of our short trip and you should check it out! 

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How we did a 3 day 1,200 mile trip

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How we did a 3 day 1,200 mile trip

I cannot overstate how much I LOVE last minute plans, the thrill and excitement added with the challenge of planning a dope trip with limited time really gets me pumped. My buddy and Coach Denis and I had been talking about getting outside for a few weeks and had thrown around the idea of Oklahoma or Arkansas for some sport climbing and bouldering. We got a weekend pinned down that worked for Arkansas but the weather was looking like it was going to rain, and I'd rather not drive 6-7hrs to sit in a tent for a weekend haha.. 

On the Tuesday before the planned trip Denis texts me this: 

"Yo bro, lets do frikkin New Mexico. Climb at Last Chance & Sitting Bull Falls" 

and I'm all for getting on world class sport climbing so I was all in, but I remember that Hueco Tanks is only 2.5hrs from Sitting Bull Falls so I added:

"Dude lets do Hueco Tanks too and make it a really great trip" 

He was all for it so we prepped to leave on that Thursday night to drive to Carlsbad, NM thru the night. 

This weekend would fall on what I call a "Low Personal Funds Weekend" or "LPFW" (acronym made up) meaning I had gotten paid the week before and was running low on personal cash (I had roughly $100 left). Right off the bat I'm thinking about costs of the trip: Gas, Food, Guiding, Emergency. 

We would take my 2014 Ford Focus Hatchback that gets roughly 30-35MPG highway so I would get about 300-370 miles per tank and it's 600 miles to New Mexico with about $20ish to fill up my tank. We would have to make food 2 nights of the trip and we would buy food while driving. I also knew we might need a guide for Hueco Tanks which is $25 a person. We ended up with 3 climbers on the trip; Denis, Doland, and Myself so the fuel costs would be split 3 ways which made things way cheaper for all of us. So Roughly my individual costs were these:

  • $60 in Gas
  • $25 in Guiding
  • $10-$15 in food

Being the outdoors manly men that we are, we camped the whole time as well, which saves about $75-$100 a night. That's SUPER cheap, but don't be fooled, we ate good for the first two days but the third day our only food till about 10pm was Granola, Chex Mix, and water (Denis I think just drank water..)

I knew this trip would be a 'tight' trip based on how I usually travel but I was able to swing a 1,200 mile trip for roughly $100-$150 per person which I think is awesome. 

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2017 Personal Goals

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2017 Personal Goals

I'm a little late for a New Years Resolution, and I don't really like doing things the ordinary way either, but I'm going to list my personal goals for myself in the year of 2017. 


Climb a 5.13. I got my first 5.12a in late 2016 on my mentor's route, It only took me about 7 or 8 attempts. I've only projected one 5.13 so far and it's the incredible roof route at Reimer's Ranch called "Pay the Pump" and goes at 5.13b (see video here). But other than that I've not even touched another 5.13, so I'd like to send one this year. 

Become a better Videographer/Photographer. I really enjoy taking pictures of people and making videos with cool songs to them, however I am not very good haha. Pretty frustrating when you see an awesome scene and you just can't get the camera to relate what your eyes see in front of you. 

Climb in either Utah or Yosemite. Zion National Park is absolutely gorgeous, and is a fantastic climbing destination, and obviously Yosemite is world class climbing. Either would be a dream come true for me. 

Be able to consistently Project V8 in gym (v6-7 outdoors would be cool too). I can safely say that I am an experienced sport climber and a fairly strong one at that, however when it comes to bouldering I'm not very powerful. I've been training specifically on bouldering for about a month now trying to push my grades past V7, it's tough and frustrating but I think I can push up to V8 this year.

Pay off my debt. I got a credit card, despite me saying I never wanted one, 2 years ago now and it  was cool for about 15min and then I max'd it out and I have $3,000 in debt. Pretty horrible stuff but with what I currently make at my job it shouldn't be too hard to pay it off in a year if not sooner. 

Plan for a major "expedition" type climbing trip to an "alpine environment". I love testing and proving myself, and an Alpine expedition has always stood out in my mind as one of the ultimate test of skill and willpower. Maybe Mt. Whitney or something like that would be cool. 


 

That's all I can think of at the moment. I'll let you guys know if something changes and I'll write stories about these things as they happen of course!

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Following Mario Thru New Mexico

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Following Mario Thru New Mexico

Mario and I went to Hueco Tanks last January, and our eagerness for climbing got us kicked out on our second day at the park (Parked in a handicap spot). Luckily for us, Mario had heard about this cool climbing spot near Carlsbad, New Mexico. We packed all the gear up in the van and set off on the 2-3 hr drive. If you're not very familiar with Texas geography, Hueco Tanks is pretty much El Paso, which is a border town to Mexico. The state has check points and highway patrolmen that try and spot suspicious activity coming from El Paso, and Mario and I were in a bright Yellow van. The van is important because it is the IDEAL vehicle for transporting people and narcotics thru the border. 

Mario's narcotic's van.

Glamorous "Van Life"

Glamorous "Van Life"

So as Mario and I drive into New Mexico the speed limit changes from 75 to 70, and we just keep on cruisin' at 75 since 5 miles over the limit isn't usually an issue. About 10 minutes later the red and blue lights go up in the rear view mirror, and our smuggling empire would be found out (Smuggling quickdraws, ropes, and smelly climbing shoes).

Now this isn't supposed to be important to the story but Mario is black and I am white and I also look like i'm a young teenager despite being 20 at the time. The officer walks up to the window and asks Mario to step out of the van and put his hands on the side. Already i'm thinking "wtf he can't do that, what were we possibly doing wrong". After talking with Mario for about 5 min, he walked over to my side and asked me if what we were doing, where we were going, where we came from, and if we had any drugs in the car. "Rock Climbing, New Mexico, Hueco Tanks, and half a pound of Chalk" luckily the guy had a sense of humor. After it became apparent that the officer wasn't going to arrest us, he started asking us about rock climbing in general. One of the cool parts of being a climber is people usually can't imagine going up on high cliffs with a thin rope and your finger tips to keep you from falling. Mario told him about climbing gyms and the Climb Fit program he runs, was actually a pretty chill conversation after all the business had been taken care of. The officer sent us on our way and we went off to Sitting Bull Falls, New Mexico. 

Mario has a unique way of pushing me to be great, basically he goes and climbs something that is incredibly hard even for him, and then leaves his gear all over it and then goes "Hey, you gotta climb this route because all our gear is on the route..." and I get roped (no pun intended) into climbing a 5.13b after climbing 5-10 routes at my max already. So here I am on this 5.13b that is INCREDIBLY overhung, the climb is basically a very large cave or how a huge wave would look.

Mario, about 3/4 of the way up this 5.13b. If you can trace the thin black line back to where it meets the wall, that's about where I fell at.. 

Mario, about 3/4 of the way up this 5.13b. If you can trace the thin black line back to where it meets the wall, that's about where I fell at.. 

Blood is just finger tears. 

Blood is just finger tears. 

Basically this means that since I am "cleaning" the route (Meaning getting all of our gear off it) that If I fall I'm going to swing out into open space and not be able to get back to the wall. I get to about the 4-5th clip on the wall (20-30 feet up the climb) and I can't grip the rock anymore and I swing into the air. So to dumb it down, I am swinging about 10 feet away from the wall dangling from my next quickdraw which is about 10 feet above me. We tried "Boinking" (me trying to pull my weight up the rope.) for a little while to get me up to the next clip, but it didn't work. We basically rigged up an "ascender" with 2 prussic auto-blocker loops and a long webbing for a foot push. I think this might have been the only time in two years I've been legitimately mad at Mario haha. Here I am at 6pm inching my way up a rope to my next quickdraw, tired, hungry, and bleeding from most of my fingers hahah. 

Obviously I made it to the the next piece of gear and retrieved it and we went home, and the anger went away as soon as my feet touched the ground. I like this story because I can remember knowing the way to fix my problem with previous knowledge and gear on my harness, it just felt really cool. 

I'm going to try and write small stories about things on my trips once a week, I hope you enjoy :)

 

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Trent's California Trip

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Trent's California Trip

It's a crazy coincidence that Chris and I are both in California within 2 weeks of each other. I’ve been to California before when I was younger to San Francisco and Santa Cruz, but this was long before I started Climbing. I don’t know how it is for other climbers, but California is like my dream location for climbing. It’s really my ideal place for everything, You can Snowboard in the winter, Surf and Climbing in the summer...it’s my dream land. Anyways We flew into San Diego around 4pm and grabbed dinner at this cool little Asian place called East Village Asian Diner. On the walk in I see Thunder Cat action figures in the window and they had Anime playing on the TV, so I already knew the place would be awesome. Something always amazing about leaving Texas is the temperature difference compared to literally ANYWHERE else. It’s a cool 70 degrees when the sun sets and I have to wear a jacket since I'm used to a climate similar to Hell. We walked down the street and the city of Del Mar had a vintage car meet. Super cool way to end the first night for sure. 

One of my dad’s friends is a Navy Chaplain and stationed on the Coronado Naval base, and he gets access to the entire base, Including the Navy SEAL section. So we met up with him at Panera in Coronado and he goes over what we’re doing for the day. We start on the larger of the bases and go past 2 Gigantic air craft carriers, 1 of which is under refitting and covered in white plastic. Drove past tons of black hawk helicopters and gigantic cargo planes.

After that we head to the way smaller SEAL training base. It’s pretty much an entry gate, a gate to the beach/ocean, and a big green field where we saw about 50ish young men in their 4th week in SEAL Training..Lets rewind a little bit, as a climber I have a fairly decent upper body strength since I pull my body weight up large walls for a hobby, so I can do a decent amount of pull ups as a result of that. So I was thinking about challenging these men to a pull up competition...Fast forward again, we’re driving by the field where all the guys are training and I quickly realize that these dudes' job is literally to work out ALL day while under extreme stress, most of them my age. Made me super appreciative to our United States armed forces for the amount of training and stress that these guys go through so they can protect us against any harm that would come our way. Also I spotted the group of them who were on pull-ups and it’s about 1pm at this point and I also realized that they’ve probably been working out since 6am and they were not doing these pull-ups slowly. So I reconsidered my challenge pretty quickly....Also they don’t really appreciate you interrupting the Navy SEALs. Over all SUPER cool day, saw some really cool stuff and got some cool Navy gear. 

 

Saturday I got a pretty late start; left the Hotel at 10ish and got some breakfast at a local place, and headed into San Diego to check out the Mesa Rim climbing gym. I’ve only climbed at a few gyms (Dallas, Tx & Durango, CO). Dallas, being my home gym, we are 4 hours from the nearest outdoor rock, so our setting is DRASTICALLY different from climbing gyms that are less than an hour from real rock. That being said Mesa Rim is incredible, 50-70 foot walls, excellent routes, and an overall great gym. I’ll go into real quick what I consider a great route; I like on a 5.11 to have a little bit of difficulty but not impossible, I like it to have technical moves with high feet, rather than huge reach moves with really no skill involved. I prefer technique to sheer brute strength. I didn’t walk in with a climb partner but the gym called overhead “If anyone needs a belay partner please come to the front desk” within like 10 minutes of me being there (probably one of the cooler features i’ve seen in a gym). The guy was super cool, and was even from Lubbock, Texas. We warmed up on a 5.8, hopped on a few 5.11s, two 5.12s and even got on a 5.13 that was super awesome. It was also awesome training for my 12 hour comp on the 27th since the walls are 70ft tall, the pump was real! Got a sick Nalgene from the gym too. 

 

I woke up on Sunday and started packing my bag for Joshua Tree; 70m rope, harness, quick draws, runners, chalk bag, and I grab for my shoes in the bottom of the bag and they’re not in there. A quick panic sesh led to realizing that I had left my only pair of climbing shoes at the climbing gym from Saturday. This is also happening at 6am because we were leaving early to J-Tree so we could get there early, so that plan was out the window. Luckily for me the gym still had them so we scooped them at around 9am and headed to Joshua Tree. If you have no previous knowledge about Joshua Tree, it’s basically a trad climbing paradise (Traditional Climbing). Sadly I only own sport climbing gear, and the ratio of Trad to Sport climbs in Joshua tree is about 10 to 1. A few days before I bought the Joshua Tree guide book at REI and I thought that would be sufficient, but I really didn’t grasp how large the entire park is. If you’ve ever been to Hueco Tanks in Texas it’s basically that park but 10 times bigger. All the rocks look the same, they’re these big bulbous brown rolling mountains, and the only way I was able to distinguish the areas that we went to was where the mountain in the background was. The guide book I purchased was less than amazing, and made it super hard to figure out where climbs were located and even finding a Sport route in the book was difficult. Made for a very stressful time, being surrounded by amazing trad climbs, but looking for small silver bolts in a sea of brown rock. The climbs I actually got on seemed like someone was bored and threw up random bolts into a climb.. some didn’t even have anchors and I had to rappel off the bolt. Regardless of how stressful it was to find climbs, I was with my family, in a beautiful place, on a vacation in California..my life isn’t bad. At the end of the day I learned the meaning of “Sometimes you win, Sometimes you learn.” I know next time I’m in Joshua Tree it’ll be with a gigantic trad rack slung across my chest, blazing routes all day. 

 

I think my favorite part of the trip has been the general attitude of California. Things just don’t seem so rushed here. Stuff just gets done, people enjoy life, and it’s just generally stress free. I spent Monday sitting in a Starbucks writing this post and watching the cars and bikers go by. It’s nice to just sit and do nothing sometimes and just watch people go about their days. It was a nice break from the constant training i’ve been doing for the last 2 months (Though I did train in the gym here, in case my climb partner reads this). I can’t wait for the next time i’m in California, I hope it’s not too long.

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How Much Does Rock Climbing Cost

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How Much Does Rock Climbing Cost

How much does Rock Climbing cost?

 

Other than finger skin, sore limbs, and ruined toes, Rock climbing costs DOLLARS..yes it is very much not a free sport. So I thought I’d list out all the gear I current own and how much each piece cost with links to amazon where you can also purchase the gear!

So here we go: 

My first pieces of gear were my harness and shoes: 

I have a Mammut Ophir 3 Slide Harness - $54.95

http://www.backcountry.com/mammut-ophir-3-slide-harness-mens

I’ve never had a different harness, so I can’t really compare to other ones..But it works, It gets a little uncomfortable when I’m belaying for a long time or hanging on a route for a while, but besides that, it’s light, stream lined, and makes me feel safe. 


 

I have only ever owned La Sportiva climbing shoes, and I have to say I’ve tried on other shoes and I love me some La Sportiva. I’ve owned 5 Pairs of La Sportivas, 2 of which were the same model (La Sportiva Testarossa) 

La Sportiva Testarossa - $175.00

https://www.amazon.com/Sportiva-Testarossa-Vibram-Climbing-Yellow/dp/B0002XLE46/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1471381127&sr=8-1&keywords=la+sportiva+testarossa

The shoes are VERY tight, as they should be, and have amazing toe grip. Though I went thru 2 pairs of these shoes in about a year, I climb a lot outside and a lot just in general, so I feel like it was just natural wear, not that the shoes were bad. 


La Sportiva Tarantulace - $80.00

https://www.amazon.com/Sportiva-Tarantulace-Climbing-Shoe-Kiwi/dp/B005DLQBA4/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1471381266&sr=8-2&keywords=la+sportiva+tarantulace

These were my first pair of climbing shoes, they’re just slightly too big for my foot so these were not my climbing shoes for very long...However they’re extremely comfy as far as climbing shoes go, and the lace up allows you to synch these things down


La Sportiva Miura - $175.00

https://www.amazon.com/Sportiva-Miura-VS-Shoe-Yellow/dp/B0012RCZC6/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1471381388&sr=8-2&keywords=la+sportiva+miura

These are my current climbing shoes and my favorite BY FAR. They have a slight downturn, but not as tight as the Testarossa, they’re a little wider than the testarossa as well which makes them more comfortable to wear for longer periods. Outdoors wise I can stay in them longer, which allows me to climb for longer. Overall I love these shoes. 


When you make the jump from gym climbing to outdoor climbing two pieces of gear allow you do climb at almost 60-70% of all climbing outdoors: Rope and Quick Draws.

70m Mammut Serenity Dry rope - $240.00

I have a 70m Mammut Serenity Dry rope. I opted for the 70 meter because my whole “mantra” with rock climbing outside is that I want to climb anything I think is cool looking..wether it be 20 feet or 2000 feet. 

https://www.amazon.com/Mammut-Serenity-Dry-Climbing-Rope/dp/B00SAHFTPQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1471381781&sr=8-1&keywords=Mammut+Serenity+Dry+Climbing+Rope


Black Diamond Positron Quickdraw - 12cm - $101.70

I have two sets of quick draws, both black diamond..I try to stick to known brands that are universally trusted and Black Diamond is pretty universally trusted in the industry. 

I just recently got these..Mainly because they look pretty awesome (Black and Gold) They work like all quick draws and I haven’t had any issues with the gates or runners for the year I’ve owned them. 

https://www.amazon.com/Black-Diamond-Positron-Quickdraw-12cm/dp/B019NULQ8W/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1471381927&sr=8-5&keywords=BLACK+DIAMOND+POSITRON+QUICKDRAW


Black Diamond PosiWire Quickpack, 12cm, Ink Blue/Positron - $65.00

These were my first pair of quick draws, they’re a little loose on the runner (Not sure if it’s just because of how much i’ve used them or not). The gates are in fine condition after about 2 years, no problems so far. 

https://www.amazon.com/Black-Diamond-PosiWire-Quickpack-Positron/dp/B00LU18J6A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1471381927&sr=8-1&keywords=BLACK+DIAMOND+POSITRON+QUICKDRAW


 

So all in all, I have spent about $891.65 in a span of two years..Now in one big purchase of all the gear it can seem like a lot..but If you bought 1 piece of gear a week that’s roughly $8.60 a week. This is the bare minimum of all the gear I currently own for rock climbing, and it's MAINLY all you will need to climb at a majority of areas. I'll prob do a full gear list later on in the year as Fall comes around.

We split up big purchases for gear into a piece a week usually (Like a quick draw, a runner, or trad piece) which can really minimize the blow from buying it all at once. I will admit I have not done the weekly plan yet, because I space out my purchases with several months in between. Luckily a lot of climbing gear holds your life it it’s hands, so the companies who make it try and make the gear last as long as physically possible. Long story short, you won’t be spending much money on replacing gear.

Mario "Racking Up" for some Trad at Hueco Tanks. A small fraction of Mario's gear in a heap on the ground.

Mario "Racking Up" for some Trad at Hueco Tanks. A small fraction of Mario's gear in a heap on the ground.

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Jared Leto "Great Wide Open"

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Jared Leto "Great Wide Open"

Recently Jared Leto directed a sort of documentary on the adventurous lifestyle and I saw a little trailer for it on Renan Ozturk’s instagram page the other day. The project is called “Great Wide Open” and only two episodes out so far, I think it might be my favorite adventure doc i’ve seen. Initially I didn’t expect much from it, being from Jared Leto, and not an actual profession climber or major company, but it is amazing so far. It’s such a unique thing to see someone who you can identify with as a beginner climber and seeing all the fears, triumphs, and insights that you felt but in 3rd person and portrayed from a “Celebrity” but isn't acting or playing a role. All I can say is that I’m hooked and I’ll put the two vids below here with a link to Jared’s Youtube page and I can’t wait for the rest of the series!

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SunRiser Colorado Trip

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SunRiser Colorado Trip

Driving somewhere in New Mexico. 

Driving somewhere in New Mexico. 

The SunRiser crew went to Colorado last week! I had been planning this trip for a while so It was really nice to finally get out on the road. Chris and I left on Thursday (June 30th) at about 11pm and we arrived in Durango, Colorado, which is the town where we’d be doing most of our climbing/hiking near, at about 12pm. It was cloudy and semi rainy when we pulled up to the cabin and about 50 degrees which was INCREDIBLY nice compared to the 100+ temps we had just came from in Texas. We got settled in and Denis and Krista came back from town and we all talked about the drive and plans for the week. We decided for that night since it was raining and cloudy to just go check out the climbing gym in Durango. It was a super unique climbing gym, 3 stories, and they had some really amazing rope routes. 

Krista and Denis feelin' the altitude

Krista and Denis feelin' the altitude

Being from Texas, we were expecting the bouldering in the gym to be a lot softer than ours in the south..it was not, and the altitude made it very cardio intensive hahah. I hopped on a few V5s, they had a super awesome cave/roof climbing section that was awesome to climb in. I also hopped on a lot of rope routes which were more like outdoor climbing than anything i’ve felt in the south. 5.11s and 12s were super realist, tough, and technical climbs. Probably has something to do with the fact that the gym is about 15 min away from an actual rock climbing wall, where as in Dallas we have a 4 hour drive to some good rock. After, we headed back to the cabin, cook dinner and pass out for the night.

Saturday Morning we wake up and decide to go to “Sailing Hawks” Bouldering area in Durango. I’ve only bouldered at Hueco Tanks in Texas so I really didn’t know what to expect from bouldering in a different state. We start up a mild hike following the description of the “Warm Up Boulder” on The Mountain Project app. We would never find this “Warm Up Boulder” but the day would turn out to be just stumbling on one amazing boulder after another. Just great climbs, everything from V0 - V11 and the field just goes and goes and goes. 

We run into a guy we had seen at the gym the night before and he hung with us for a while and turned into our guide showing us a few cool boulders. 

He told us a little history of the area and that most the routes at Sailing Hawks were V1 - V3 and also that most of the routes were way harder than their grade since the guys who set the area up were some real hard climbers. 

The clouds started to roll in around 1pm so we packed up out crash pads and headed back down the hill to the truck. Ended up putting all the gear up and closing the doors right as the clouds started dumping rain. Content with our climbing for the day we headed into town and ate at a pizza place off Main Street in Durango. 

Back at the Cabin, Chris and I decided to hike to the small water fall down the hill and go explore a little bit up the mountain for a while. 

Sunday we woke up and decided to head to Crater lake near Silverton. Some back story on Crater Lake, My mother a friend and I went to “Crater Lake” when I was younger and I remember it being a short hike with a nice lake at the top that we swam in. So we set off on the drive to Crater Lake, and as we go Krista decides to google the hike before we get there. She says that it’s a 6 hour hike.. 11 miles total, which seems longer than I remember but I’m sure that I did Crater Lake as a kid, so we press on. We get to the trail head and set off on our journey at about 11am. The hike is absolutely gorgeous, I highly recommend it to anyone who has 6hrs to kill and a lot of endurance.

Waterfalls, streams, trees everywhere, amazing landscapes, words can’t even describe how beautiful it is. About half way up to the lake, none of the hike is jogging my memory of the hike as a kid, so I text my mom asking her if she remembers it being as long. Turns out my mother and I went to SPUD LAKE when I was a kid, which is only an hour hike and right next to the cabin that we’re staying at.. At this point I start laughing historically with Chris because the hike was way more than we had bargained for. We continued on to the lake and it was so worth it, it truly is spectacular in person.

We spend about 30 minutes at the top and then start the hike back down. Denis had decided to do the hike in Chacos, which turned out to not be the ideal shoe to do an 11 mile hike in, especially when it’s muddy. So as soon as we get the bottom of the mountain pretty much all of our crew strips our feet of their shoe oppressors and go barefoot on the walk back to the car 

Chris and Denis walking barefoot back to the truck.

Chris and Denis walking barefoot back to the truck.

Incredibly tired the group decided that we all deserved burgers after the 11 mile hike, so we headed to a burger joint in downtown Durango. Denis gets into a small war with the establishment over a missing milk shake which we end up “winning” leaving in hand with a $5 milkshake which was more milk than shake..leading to many inside jokes for the rest of the trip. We head back to the cabin, our legs dead, and our hearts full.

I wake up on Monday and find it very hard to put weight on my right leg, feeling a lot of pain right below my knee cap. Which puts a dampener on my morning, but regardless we head up into Durango to go do some rope climbing at Golf Wall. After a little trouble finding the parking for the wall, we head to the “Girl Scout” area which hosts the largest grouping of 5.9s and 10s. It’s a short 5 minute walk to the wall, where we picked the hardest possible scramble to get to up to the wall, later finding that there are stairs just 10 feet further. We get all the gear and ropes to the top and decide to start on the 5.10 kind of on the center left of the wall. It had a super cowboy start requiring a lot of upper body, which was not what I was expecting for our first route of the day, but got through the bottom half and the route opened up into this super nice climb. Every hold was pretty well chalked up so it was super easy to read the route. the Crux was a horizontal crack sequence which had you walk your body along the crack about a foot then grab a nice juggy horn about an arms length up. The wall we were on would prove to have kind of muscular hard bottom sections followed by kind of slabby, technical top sequences that made the routes super rewarding.

Got a good amount of climbs in and felt content with the day at about 1pm and decided since it was pretty warm outside to take our sweaty selves to Baker Bridge in Durango.

Panoramic from Bakers Bridge.

Panoramic from Bakers Bridge.

We got to Baker Bridge and I can remember going there as a kid and the water being extremely cold. This childhood memory definitely lived up to expectation as the water was reaaaally cold. However Krista felt the urge to jump off the famous Baker Bridge, which is about a 50 foot drop to the frigid river below.

She was braver than Denis, Chris and myself.. We only worked up the courage to get about waist deep in the water. The river was successful in cooling us all down, and helped my leg not hurt so bad. Since this would be the last day Denis and Krista would be in Durango, we headed back to the cabin to pack up their stuff before the firework show in town. 

We all met up in town at a little Bar & Restaurant with a good view of the show and sat back and watched the fireworks. Since I was a kid fireworks have always been a big part of the 4th of July for me. We used to go every year to Kansas City and be with my Aunt on the 4th. We’d have huge Firework shows and it’s made that day very special to me. I’m very glad I got to spend it with some of the best friends a guy could ask for.

The Show ended and Chris and I say goodbye to Denis and Krista and head back to the cabin. 

Tuesday Chris and I wake up and decide to head to the skate park in town. It’s a gorgeous, sunny day and just perfect for hanging out and skating. Sadly I had not brought any shoes to skate in, I only had boots and Chacos..So I became possibly the first Chaco skater of Durango. 

I got a lot of “How do you skate in those” throughout the day. We met a dude actually from Dallas at the park and chatted with him for a while. All of the people we met in Durango were incredibly nice, which worked out well for us since a lot of the time we were kind of just going with the flow. 

After skating, we headed up to my Grandparents house to take showers and rest for a bit. A fun fact about the Cabin that we were staying in is that most of appliances are powered thru propane and thus have “Pilot Lights”... Since I was born in a time where pilot lights are not common in houses, neither Chris nor myself had a clue what they were or the protocol of what to NOT do with them. Earlier in the day we had cleaned the entire cabin, and while cleaning we stumbled onto these little flames under the stove top. Being in a cleaning mood we decided that we didn’t need to use the stove anymore the rest of the trip. So we blew them out, which turned out to be a big no no. When you blow out these little flames underneath stove tops the gas keeps pumping through it, which will fill your cabin with gas, potentially becoming explosive if a spark or a flame occur. 

After telling my grandpa of what we had done, he informed us of how pilot lights work, and we hastily headed back to the cabin to open all the doors and windows. Luckily for us the cabin had not exploded when we returned and we promptly aired it out, avoiding a potentially awkward situation of having to explain to our family that the cabin that has been in the family since 1985 had exploded. 

The front of the Cabin.

The front of the Cabin.

We met up with my grandparents, Uncle, Aunt, and cousins at the best restaurant in Hesperus called “Kennebeck” and had an amazing dinner with the family. We said our goodbyes and hugged the family and headed back to the Cabin for our last night in Durango. Chris and I discovered some Vodka that Denis had left in the fridge and decided to indulge. The small amount we had hit us way harder than we expected and turned us into laughing fools in no time. A good way to end the trip (Thank you Denis). 

This trip was incredible, I couldn’t have asked for better people to live in a cell reception-less, dark, sometimes cold Cabin. It’s a trip I won’t forget any time soon!

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