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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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The Importance of a Road Trip

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The Importance of a Road Trip

I've done a LOT of road trips in the last two and a half years, mainly because of rock climbing. It's a lot cheaper to take my car that can go 400 miles on $20 of gas, than spend $400 to go to Colorado on a plane. As a kid, I would go on road trips with my dad to Kansas city to visit my aunt for the 4th of July every year. I spent my time watching movies on my portable DVD player while the hours passed by. Fast forward 15 years, I take a road trip every week to different climbing destinations across the Southern states. 

everywhere I  drove  in 2016. 

everywhere I drove in 2016. 

Road trips are sort of a special time for me now. I usually have 1 or 2 friends in the car with me and we'll talk from Dallas to Arkansas and not even realize the time that's passed. It's a super important part of the traveling experience for me now. If you sit and think about it, when was the last time you sat and talked to someone for 4 hours.. I know exactly when that was for me, it was last Saturday driving from Austin back home with my friend Frank. A lot of the time we go through life taking a few minutes every hour or so talking to someone and moving on with our day. Even your boy/girlfriend or spouse, I doubt you've spent 4 hours talking to them in a long while. I've discovered friends in people I disliked previously, found a gentle person behind a tough exterior, and all while behind the steering wheel of my Ford Focus. 

Myself on a 5.13b in Austin.

Myself on a 5.13b in Austin.

I also enjoy the road trip time because it helps me appreciate my final destination. Being from the concrete jungle that is Dallas, I don't have any outdoor climbing within 3-4 hours. I spend most of my time training in the gym with my outdoor goals burned into my brain. When I'm on the road to Hueco Tanks, New Mexico, Colorado or Arkansas (they're all 5hr + drives) I know that I've only got my short time in these places and then I've gotta go back home on Sunday. This can be one of the best motivators, knowing that you've got limited time in a place and you've got to make the most of your time there. And this can be broadened into a super deep "We only have a limited time on Earth so make the most of your short trip" analogy that rock climbing is FULL of, but I won't get TOO sappy on ya. Basically my hours in the car make me calm down and think about how fortunate I am to be where I am, and to be able to do the things I do. 

Besides all the warm fuzzy parts of talking with people on road trips, uhh I need people so I can stay awake. Despite what anyone tells you "OH bro I can drive forever at night, don't even worry." everyone gets sleepy driving, and especially at night. If you get in my car for a road trip and you plug in headphones and expect me to chauffeur you to our destination, you're gonna be paying me for it. Unplug from your devises and plug into the people around you, because it's incredibly unique to be able to have someone's attention for hours at a time without having to pay them. 

Road trips are about relationships, learning about your friends and partners, and appreciating your time. I think everyone needs a good road trip in their life to escape the go go go way that most of us live. There's no rushing the trip, we'll get there when we get there, just enjoy the ride. 

Horatio, Mario, Myself, and Denis 

Horatio, Mario, Myself, and Denis 

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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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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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Travel Nostalgia

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Travel Nostalgia

Today somebody asked me, "What was the coolest place you saw when you traveled?" I have never even thought about that before. I had no idea how to answer the question and it made me feel abnormal that I couldn't answer it. I've been on three road trips to the West Coast/Pacific Northwest and one trip to Pittsburg and Philadelphia. When I word it like that it doesn't feel like I've accomplished much as far as exploration. But the sights I've seen and the places I've been in between are unfathomable. Maybe that's why this question was so hard to answer? Or maybe it's because I'm human that this question irks me so much. Our emotions are rampant and beauty is always in the eyes of the beholder. Well maybe one day on my adventures this beholder wasn't feeling so hot and the beauty escaped his grasp. Who's to say this beauty that he missed out on wasn't the coolest place he'd ever been if only he had been more aware? It's impossible to tell the truth, and I hate giving unsure answers. I guess if I had to pick a moment in my life during my travels where I felt the happiest, it would have been holding the person I loved tight in my arms underneath the downpour of Tumalo Falls in Oregon. An incredibly unforgettable moment to say the least, but to the outward eye Tumalo Falls is hardly in the top twenty as far as statuesque destinations go. But I guess love might possibly be the most alluring destination that this world has to offer. Or perhaps not, who knows.

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