Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Roadtrip Second Act

Just outside Zion, the high desert is deeply enchanted

At the gates of Zion; Soul brother, Sean Stanley Leary, came to rest in these hills. There's been a lot of loss and hurt in our little climbing world lately, it's always hard to accept and harder still to understand the heavy burden of life and death. Somehow, Trent Reznor's eerie Lyrics help:

I hurt myself today

To see if I still feel

I focus on the pain

The only thing that's real

The needle tears a hole

The old familiar sting

Try to kill it all away

But I remember everything

What have I become

My sweetest friend

Everyone I know goes away

In the end

And you could have it all

My empire of dirt

I will let you down

I will make you hurt

I wear this crown of thorns

Upon my liar's chair

Full of broken thoughts

I cannot repair

Beneath the stains of time

The feelings disappear

You are someone else

I am still right here

Everyone has their moment during this brief performance called life, then, who really knows....

Bridgedale, Springdale, Squamdale, Pleasantdale, Clydesdale, you get the idea

After lots of deep thoughts we got back to some rock pulling in one of the prettiest, most unique climbing venues in North America: Maple Creek Canyon

The Conglomerate here, is as good as the mythical Mallos de Rigolos in Spain, but sadly not as huge in the freestanding tower kind of way.

All the same, the stone is distinctive and a real pleasure to climb on

Someone even practiced pictography here, waaaaaay back when. Is this some kind of sophisticated symbolism or just the work a prehistoric prankster with too much meat in her belly?

Finally, we made it to the epicenter of flying in America, Point of the Mountain, where we met this guy. With a shit eating Cheshire Cat grin he vigorously shook my hand and said: "I'm Lance!" Lance went on to explain that the year I was born, he made the first EVER cross country hang glider flight from the nearby Camels. I congratulated him on still being alive. What a #boss

Lance stepped into the sky with a poetic style that you can only comprehend when in the presence of a true master.

Point works as well as any site I've flown and inspite of the crowds and urban infringement, there is something special about this place.

It was a great trip with fine company and good vibes all around... Thank you America!


On the tail end of Bishop's Highball Craggin' Classic put on by the AAC, I posse'd up with Cody Sims and Luke Neufeld to get in some dusty road trippin'.  We tacked out a few Sierra pitches before leaving, because, como no? Look at that stone!

                                       Look at those vistas under that moon!!!!

Next Stop was Vegas, which in my mind is always synonymous with sleeze.  But the Vegas area does have some soul, as evidenced here by Brette, taking her lickin's on the ruggedly named burlnanza; Monster Skank.

 Just a few miles asunder from the infamous Strip, Marc-Andre hones his kite 'nique, hounded by Seuss, the dog.

Windsports became a theme on this roadie, we are after all, climbers who climb, but the skies whistled their sirenic melodies, tempting us to glisse above the rocks.

                                                           Cody soaring Jean's ridge

Perhaps the best bit of Americana we encountered on our journey, the Pioneer Saloon.  Though the staff were nouveau tatooed and sporting coiffed beards and greasy crop tops, this place had an authenticity to it that has long been buried under the crisp, homogeneity of the nearby Vegas tarmac.

Bring your own moonshine, literally!!!

                                When these barrels get unlocked, it's sure to go off!!!

But I digress... After a skunking at Jean's Ridge we chanced an evening flight in the hills outside Goodsprings.  The valley restitution cranked us hundreds of meters above the launch for one of the funnest flights I've ever had!

 St. George, Utah was next.  The limestone in this zone is hard to hold on to, in part because it's slick from traffic, but also on account of all the fist pumps you throw while climbing.  Luke couldn't resist demonstrating the classic elbow down fist pump entering the crux sequence on this beauty.

                                     More good Americana: Caffeine = Safety.   So true...

Tuesday, 1 August 2017


Telling a good story is hard to do.  So often, humans get "inventive" and find a story where there isn't one.  Digestible, compelling, dramatic, the more bullshit the better...  In my raft guiding days, stories were important; good stories got you good tips and a Welshman by the name of Dirty Tim was our resident master tale slinger.  The more tall tales Tim slung, the more money he made while the rest of us guides kicked dirt beside the river and watched the procession of guests slap another finski into Dirty Tim's dirty palm.  Anyway, I don't love the modern media approach to storytelling and the fact that if you want to share your experiences with people, you need a "story."  In the timeless words of Homer Simpson "It's just a bunch of stuff that happened."  So here is some of the stuff that happened this spring.

Colombia:  Coffee anyone?  Locals brew coffee more like tea and imbibe this Tinto all day long.

Climbing on the Mesa de los Santos.  Thanks to Netflix, we expected a stressful Cartel style experience but the vibe could not have been more tranquillo.

We went to the opposite side of the Mesa and flew into Canyon de Chicamocha, the Earth's second largest Canyon.

     Next up, the mysterious Mavecure Hills.  Cosmique, barely begins to describe this place.

                              You could really feel the Buena Onda from the hill people.

                                                          Petroglyphs are my favorite!!!

                                      Flying from mythical domes is a close second...

                             Climbing onto giant a waffle iron from the jungle ranks third.

I've never loved fishing, but I love to eat the fish.  This Barracuda-type thing, literally jumped into our canoe and to defend myself (?!) I delivered a fatal blow with my paddle.  Sorry buddy... I never got to taste this little guy, he was in the soup and down the hatch before we got home.  Fishing, is likely how story telling began.

Or was it from mountain climbing?

                              Colombia is quite a place:  Bogota street art is next level!

                          After Colombia was South Africa.  This photo tells the whole story.

 Climbing with my European friends was not like being on a holiday, rest day activities included: packing for the next mish, ferrying a load to the base of the wall or more commonly, climbing.

                              The crew halfway up the wall at a commodious bivi

                        We opened a new route on a big cliff made of Quartzite, the stone of Kings.

Rock quality, check!  After sending this pitch, Seppi yelled down:  "Paul, I feel naa-sing"  Slighlty confused, I though my friend had morphed into the achetypal German nihilist.  What he really was trying to convey was that he got threshold pumped.

This is Hilton Davies, he's the nicest man in Capetown, a South African climbing pioneer with more psyche than I had at 18, and more good stories than most will accrue in a lifetime.

                  Most of this country is made of Quartzite but at Paarl Rocks it's pure Granite.

This zone has never been in vogue compared to say, Rocklands, but no instagram = no worries, you'll have this enchanted place to yourself.   As you enjoy the incredible freeclimbing here, remember, Nelson Mandela served several years of his 27 year prison term in the nearby village, just for being a brother.  Slightly tougher than the Dawn Wall I imagine.

                  Never miss a chance to fly from a granite dome...Thank you Mama Africa!

Thursday, 23 February 2017


Jas Ammerlaan and Seba De La Rosa making the FA of the Spirit Bear icewall

There is nothing so pleasant as ice climbing at sea level, so it comes as no surprise that my backyard is where I enjoy winter climbing  the most.   Thirty years have passed since a true Icepocalypse thwarted the village of Squamish.  Back then, it was straight shafts, leather boots and bearded men only.  These days at least some of the sisters have joined in on the fun.

                                  Katia Voyeur making the second ascent of "Depends -a- lot falls"

There were First Ascents o' plenty:  Jia makes the signature move on the ephemeral and somewhat inappropriate "Gropper"

"Squamish Groomjob" pumpy as can be!

This beauty pillar, "Eagle Eyes" was spotted by Jia during one of many highway 99 scope missions

I didn't have to go far to spy this Squamish uber classic, visible from my deck, "Two minutes for hooking" is more fun than Hockey Night in Canada and delivers excitement until the buzzer sounds.

I jerseyed up with Tony Mac and Willy Stan for a repeat of this Boyd/Flett gem before the Coastal Zamboni finished it off two days later.  The final pitch went down with the sun and I heard a few rare grunts from the lungs of Tony as he battled up the final steep Medusa of Ice.

      We avoided the penalty box and enjoyed the superbe finish as the alpenglow kissed us goodnight (Will Stanhope Photo)

      Visible outside Tony Richardson's living room window, this line on the Chief beckoned like a yodeler from the Krummholz

        Jason K like a thief in the night, sneaking off Broadway ledge via some thin dribbles.

           Pitch 1 of the Ultimate Ultimate Everything: Perfect neve and sticks (Tony Richardson Photo)

                              Jason seconding the Chamonix caliber goulottes (Jia Condon Photo)

                                        Tony STOKED on the crux pitch (Jia Condon Photo)

It's always a gift when your heroes become your partners.  After all these years Jia still wants some.

Hard to beat this position above the Fjord

Thank you Squamish and thank you my friends!  What a season!!!