Owens River Gorge

The Owens Valley, and Owens River Gorge in particular, brings back many memories: Schat’s Bakkery, Matt Stevens eating a scab from his head, climbing with my dad, Eric’s endless attempts and then send of some V4 and his truck lights going out while driving at night, having to put up with Camie’s nonstop Phish, watching Patrick crush some fun boulder problems at the Buttermilks, and on and on. It’s a special place. And for the second time Michy and I get to be here together! Michy had a great day yesterday; she onsighted three 5.10c’s, two 11b’s, and TR onsighted the notoriously pumpy 5.11d, From Chocolate to Morphine.She celebrated her amazing day with a fun long board session down the Gorge Road.

And the day got even better. I onsighted my first 5.13a! It was called Aura and climbed a steep headwall that culminated with a long lunge to a finishing jug. I also got another 13a second try named Yellow Streak. All the routes here are incredibly long too. I don’t think we did any routes shorter than 30m and many were at the limit of our 70m rope!

Thanks Jamie for the great photo!

I’ve set my goal. Actually they are goals: to repeat every route I have done at Smith Rock rated 5.12 or higher. I think it is a good way for me to test my level of fitness and to get in shape for the upcoming trip. (Michy and I still consider our trip to start this coming Sunday, when we officially become two jobless M&Ms living in a van). And just so everyone knows, the job has been long and hard…but we’re pushing through (hmm…). Here are my ticks so far:

-Coleslaw and Chemicals 13a
-Kings of Rap 12d
-Rude Boys 13b
-Karate Wall 12c
-Watts Totts 12b
-Liquid Jade 12b
-Magic Light Extension 12a/b
-Five Easy Pieces 12a


Seattle. Climbing at Exit-32. Michy TR onsiting another 5.12! Me picking up another 5.13 send. Seeing Eric and Camie and Dylan and Jo-Jo. Getting a lot of new music. Listening to Bryan play amazingly at the Owl and Thistle (he’s so talented). Doctors appointments. Michy going back to PDX. A solo ascent of the North Ridge. Sometimes the mountains can cure you. I was in need of curing (not like a meat though). It’s just that, at times, for no apparent reasons, or may be the reasons are apparent but you’re just blind, the clouds linger a bit too long. I left camp to go for a hike across the Stuart Glacier and ended up back at Big Red with the North Ridge, the glacier, the Great Gendarme, and the Cascadian Couloir behind me! And on the descent the sky was blue and the sun was out and I was running…finally, I was back in PDX with Michy and ZooZoo and my family and Marie (and somehow Eric and Camie and Dylan and Jo-Jo). Things come full circle. Things go in a line. Next up is Canada. Oh, and also I got a few hairs cut, but Michy really likes it (even though she protested for three months)!


Good bye Vegas! and hello (really draw it out, like hellllllllooooooooo) Arizona. It’s more fun that way. Anyway, Michy and I left Vegas happy and tired - my brother and sister-in-law visited us; it couldn’t have been more fun hanging out with them, getting drinks at Frankie’s Tiki Bar, eating with Fidel Castro, and walking Fremont. They reminded us of why people get homesick…but we’ve got more places to see and experience. And Flagstaff is one of them. It’s an amazing town, settled high up in a pine forest. It reminds us of Sisters, but larger and with better places to hang out and eat. Our first day here was supposed to be a rest day, but our friend Cal talked us in to checking out the Priest Draw bouldering area. My arms felt like noodles afterwards, but both Michy and I were able to get some good ticks!

We’re so close it hurts to think about. One last day. One tedious, final day of repetition, of lifting, transporting, setting up, and trashing out; of what seems to be an infinite number of desks and chairs; of classroom after classroom. The infamous green worms or alien phallic: we took off four per chair, there were 2,000 chairs. One more day and then we’re free. We’re off to Joshua Tree National Park with money in our pocket. And even though it’s been hard I’ve learned a ton. Not many people get to be with the one they love from sun up to sun down, working a tedious job where your nerves seem to sever from your will and your head swirls with negative thoughts: “this job sucks,” “why the hell did we decide to do this?” And you see, sometimes the frustration spills over. Small stuff. “That’s not the way the cardboard is supposed to be folded,” “why did you lift it that way?” Trifle. Stupid. But you don’t go to bed upset. Ever. You have to talk. Laugh. “It was stupid of me to say that,” or “that was jerky of me.” You find out that it comes down to being tired. And we know it; that after 60 hours a week we’re bound to be tired and let something slip. That after a couple 60 hour work weeks with the one you love you’re bound to grow closer. Did I mention we did a damn good job too? The boss man even took us out to dinner tonight…said he’s looking for a couple of climbing bums living in a red van to come to the next job site. Don’t worry, we turned him down. For now.