Friday, December 18, 2009
Space Together and the Pacific Northwest
I haven't posted much about what I've been climbing lately, because I have been so busy with work, and when I got a free minute, it was raining. Over Thanksgiving, I was able to climb 9 out of 12 days and send a lot of routes that had been on my tick list...for a total of 25 new FA's (mainly lower grades, but a handful of V4's and V5's). Since Thanksgiving, I have only been able to climb sporadically and I tried my best to start winding down the "Fall" climbing season, and rest for a couple of weeks over Christmas to prep for the "Spring" season. Before I left for my yearly west coast swing for Christmas (my wife's family live in Seattle and Portland), I was able to tick off a project I had been working on for a little while, Space Together (named after a feeling many Deadheads had when they had too much too fast and were trying to gather their wits...for example, "I'm trying to get my Space Together before I head into the show."), a weird feeling V4 or V5 out at Little Eastatoee. This is another great addition to the area and is right next to another project, Best Feeling, that is much harder than it looks. Space Together starts with a great rail/slot and an odd compression move under a small overhang, and moves up a weird slab with stretchy delicate moves. I was barely able to stick the moves at the bottom and the top was touch and go during the entire send...it wasn't pretty, but it was sent:) I really need some folks to head out there and repeat it so I can get another opinion on the grade...it may be easier or harder than what I've listed, but it felt like it was at my limits, which right now are around V4/5.
While I'm out here over Christmas, I'm hoping to get some bouldering in, but if you know anything about the Pacific NW, you know that it rains A LOT during the winter months. Being in Seattle, I wanted to hit Leavenworth, but some folks warned me that it was already snowed over and not climbable. We are heading up to Vancouver, BC for a couple of nights and I'm hoping to get a couple of sessions in at Squamish, the Hueco Tanks of the summer months, made a little more famous by the Rampage video and Sharma's sendfest. Above, I posted a sweet Squamish video from some locals for everyone to check out and enjoy. After we leave Vancouver and Seattle, we are heading down to Portland and hopefully some bouldering up in the Columbia River Gorge.
No matter what, the only gym I actually look forward to climbing at is in Portland...The Circuit. Above is an image of the sweet free hanging boulder with another bouldering wall in the background...I'm a big fan of their top out boulder also, feels like you're climbing an actual boulder! This is a bouldering only gym, and actually one of the first boulder only gyms that popped up years ago. The older I get, the more I hate climbing gyms...such an artificial environment for such an organic and nature oriented activity, and it breeds bad ethics and morals into an impressionable group...but this gym is by far my favorite anywhere. They try to guide folks into proper bouldering etiquette, indoors and out, and encourage folks to use the gym as a step towards getting outside and not an end in itself...I mean come on, why climb indoors if you don't want to head outdoors? This gym, along with a couple more in Portland, also has a lease to an outdoor climbing area, Carver Cliffs, and encourages folks to head out there and use good ethics while climbing on real rock. Its good to see a gym taking responsibility for "raising" good climbers, instead of encouraging a free-for-all like most gyms. Stay tuned for some hopeful trip reports on Squamish and the Columbia Rover Gorge...and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
ps...if you haven't been checking out George Evans's blog, you should. He's down in Columbia and is working on some info for a sandstone bouldering area in SC...Peachtree Reserve Heritage Preserve. Hopefully he'll be able to put together a topo and mini-guide to this area to share with everyone. As he mentions, ethics and etiquette are crucial at this spot, so if you visit, please be responsible.