Living it up in Bishop

Erin and I are comfortably residing in Bishop. We’ve been in the area for about three weeks now and we are both getting into the swing of the lifestyle and climbing here.
Erin has started teaching Yoga and we are both exploring various other job opportunities. We’ve been hanging out with a ton of cool people. Old friends and new. Life is good. And of course there is all the climbing going on…
Yesterday I think I managed to put up a pretty fun new problem in the Buttermilks Main Area, Crouching Tiger.

The FA of Crouching TIger.  I called it that because with my method I would get bunched up and have to pounce to the next hold.

The FA of Crouching Tiger. I called it that because with my method I would get bunched up and have to pounce to the next hold.

If you’re familiar with the area, it’s on the Yayoi Boulder and is definitely worth getting on. It’s got a good mixture of power and balance, along with a great landing. I would guess it’s about V8. Here’s a video of it…

I’ve also managed to put down some old and new projects.
Kill On Sight at the Happy Boulders was a thorn in my side left over from a few years back. It’s a steep power endurance compression line that gets a lot of action. It resides somewhere in the V11-12 range depending on who you talk to, and I found it quite hard. It has been unseasonably warm here and that surely added to the difficulty for me. When I fired it, darkness was just about to set in and the rock felt kind of alright. I’m glad the stars aligned.

Kill On Sight.  Thanks for the photo Kerim!

Kill On Sight. Thanks for the photo Kerim!

I also managed to trick my way up the Form Destroyer (V12, possibly easier depending on your tactics) in the Secrets area at the Buttermilks. Myself and “Jeremy” from the bay area randomly ran into each other at the problem and tagged teamed the beta deciphering and managed to grapple our way up it. Jeremy had to go before I did it, which left me questing up the tall slabby top out without any pads underneath me. It was memorable.
With the unseasonably warm weather there have also been benefits..
We have been able to climb up at Rock Creek, a high elevation area north of Bishop, and the conditions are great. I managed to do a problem I had never done before, Blue Ribbon (V11). It surmounts a short roof to a cruxy lip encounter where you really have yank on some small holds. I was psyched to do it with a quickness, especially because a friend of mine, Adam Thomason, put it up back in the good old days.
Erin has been picking her way through the many classics. She has had plenty of success and has no shortage of future projects. She is psyched to say the least.

Erin loves the infamous Iron Man Traverse

Erin loves the infamous Iron Man Traverse

We also made some new friends from Germany, Alex, Daniela and Felix. We’ve gone out climbing with them on several occasions and had a nice evening bowling, even though Daniela sandbagged us and is a master bowler. She put us to shame.
Alex just so happens to be one of the strongest climbers in the world, and every day we went out it was quite the show. I was fortunate enough to witness him climb Lucid Dreaming, a notoriously difficult V15 on the huge Grandpa Peabody boulder. It was a strange morning when he did it too. The boulder was in a cloud and it was lightly misting. The crux holds were dry, and as soon as Alex touched them upon arrival you could see the glint of excitement in his eyes. It felt better than ever. Sure enough, second try (I think?) he fired it. What he didn’t count on though was the 30 foot tall exit slab being wet due to the mist. He kept his composure and dried off the slab as he climbed with his shirt and a chalk bucket, and after a tense five or ten minutes he was on top of the boulder. He said it was his longest project and the hardest thing he has done.

Alex sticks the crux move of Lucid Dreaming.  Ken Etzel photo.

Alex sticks the crux move of Lucid Dreaming. Ken Etzel photo.

Yesterday Erin and I went up to the Bardini boulders with the German crew too, and once again got quite the show. Alex casually flashed Maze of Death (V12, and one of my projects), then he did a rarely repeated V11, Harry’s problem in a few tries. After that a quick ground up ascent of This Side of Paradise followed (V10 and tall as all heck).

Alex flashing Maze of Death.  photo by Erin Ayla

Alex flashing Maze of Death. photo by Erin Ayla

Daniela taking a quick stroll at the Bardini Boulders.  Erin Ayla photo.

Daniela taking a quick stroll at the Bardini Boulders. Erin Ayla photo.

Alex gets into the serious bit of This Side of Paradise, Erin Ayla photo.

Alex gets into the serious bit of This Side of Paradise, Erin Ayla photo.

Yup, life in Bishop is pretty entertaining!
A friend of mine, Ken Etzel is a local photographer in the area and takes great photos. If you want to check out some of his work here is a link to his site. http://www.kenetzel.com/
Hope everyone is well!

Full Circle

Erin and I are now living in Bishop, California. For me it feels as if life has come full circle at the moment.
While I did start climbing at Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin, once I moved out to the Bishop Area after high school I became immersed in a new world; and one that would drive my life. I had no idea what I was in for at the time.
Now I sit here, in Bishop once again, 13 years after I initially moved here, writing this.
When I first came here I was a V2 boulderer. I had a very poor home made crash pad at the time, and while I started working through the ranks of the classics I frequently found myself in scary “no fall” situations. I didn’t know any better at the time, but now as I am re-climbing these problems I did more than a dozen years ago above my pathetic “pad” I am thinking I may have had some very poor judgement at the time! I find it pretty entertaining to think about.
Things are different now. I am really enjoying showing Erin this area that I love so much and reconnecting with the many awesome friends and people I would frequently hang out with or run into on a regular basis. It is an incredible feeling to be trying to climb the problems I used to look at and think, “one day, maybe just one day..” It will be interesting to see what happens here..
Besides that I did manage to do an adventurous new first ascent on the famous Bowling Pin Boulder. I dubbed it King Pin and it was a pretty heady and very long V8, on sometimes questionable rock. It’s an awesome feeling to know that there are still lines to be put up in such world reknown places as the Buttermilks.. Here is a video..  

Here’s another video of a friend of mine, Spencer Tang Smith putting up another sick line… There is still potential out there!  

Besides that here are some photos. Hope everyone is doing well!
And of course, huge props to Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson for firing of their near impossible mega project, The Dawn Wall. What an amazing and inspiring adventure!

The Buttermilks.  Lots of inspiration..

The Buttermilks. Lots of inspiration..

Erin crushing the classic "Fang" at the Sads.

Erin crushing the classic “Fang” at the Sads.

A typical first climb of day at the Buttermilks on the Sunshine Slab

A typical first climb of day at the Buttermilks on the Sunshine Slab

Erin rocking the Bowling Pin

Erin rocking the Bowling Pin

One of my many hard projects that could go any day now (hopefully:).. Maze of Death.

One of my many hard projects that could go any day now (hopefully:).. Maze of Death.

Erin waltzing up "Heavenly Path" for her first climb ever at the Happy Boulders.

Erin waltzing up “Heavenly Path” for her first climb ever at the Happy Boulders.

Whirlwind.. and Happy New Years!

The last month has been eventful.
After climbing at the Holy’s we went down to Alabama and met up with some old friends of mine, Jesse Bonin and Kenyon Smith. We stayed in a cabin in Mentone, Alabama, thanks to the graciousness of Jesse’s parents, who own it. Mentone is very close to a couple smaller satellite areas and not too far from Rocktown, The Hospital Boulders, or Horse Pens 40…

The forests are beautiful.. Erin Ayla Photo

The forests are beautiful.. Erin Ayla Photo

Most of the time Erin and I would go to the same area as those two, though sometimes we would branch off. Throughout the trip the weather mainly cooperated, though I gotta say more times than not the friction was not that great, which is too be expected down there. The south can be a fickle place to climb sometimes as a lot of the problems can be very friction dependent, and it rains frequently and many days are very humid.
We ended up mainly going to Rocktown, as we both had fun things to do there. Erin was psyched on the Orb and Golden Harvest and put some time in on both. I was psyched just to clean up shop and do stuff I hadn’t done. I was pretty darn successful, though a couple problems did elude me..

Iron Claw Sit (V9/10) at Rocktown was one of my favorites of the trip.

Iron Claw Sit (V9/10) at Rocktown was one of my favorites of the trip.

Erin didn’t get the Orb or Golden Harvest and had to settle with some fun and easier classics instead.. We definitely have some things to go back for at Rocktown.
I put a couple sessions into a cool climb at the small area very close to the cabin, Zahnd, called The Wave. The second day I tried it with an old friend from Bishop that now lives in Chattanooga, Wills Young. The Wave is a pretty one, and maybe one of the better harder lines in the south? It starts on a perfect jug the climbs up and across a striking and overhanging wall on crimps. It has a few hardish moves in a row, with the last hard move being the hardest. After that the top out eases. We both did all the moves quickly, then repeatedly pulled through the first two hard moves only to fall on the last one.. After a few good goes from the start something weird happened with conditions and all the holds started feeling like garbage and we began sliding on them. Soon after we called it a day. I never returned to the Wave, so next time..

The Wave.. maybe next time.

The Wave

We did manage to get down to Horse Pens for a day. Erin had never climbed there and mainly got used to the style. I had a heck of a day. My first good send was a V10, Great Dane. It has a very powerful move utilizing a mono-ish pocket. I was psyched to do it and psyched not to blow out a finger. Next I did the Litz Pocket Problem (V8), which was pretty fun. From there we went over to an elusive and beautiful mantle problem, Stingray (V9). I had tried it every time I’d been to Horsepens and always walked away empty handed. Today was different and after a handful of tries I found myself on top of the boulder. After that I did one more V8 I hadn’t been on before, Hugs and Kisses, then we called it a day.
I made a video of some of the things I climbed in the south..

After that day the weather collapsed and we bailed back up towards Wisconsin. We stopped in Southern Illinois for a couple days, but it had just rained heavily and there wasn’t much dry rock. We did do an amazing highball at Jackson Falls though, Yosemite Slab. I think it’s a V2, and the way we did it the crux was right at the top. It’s a beautiful and huge boulder!

Erin walks up Yosemite Slab

Erin walks up Yosemite Slab

Now I write this from Bishop, California where we will at least be spending the rest of the winter. Exciting times! Happy new year everybody!

The cross country drive had it's moments.

The cross country drive had it’s moments.