The Wheel of Life was not just a hard rock climb nor was it just a big number, for me the Wheel of Life was an experience. It took me from one side of the world and back again. When I got on to my flight leaving LA I had no clue I would send such a majestic piece of rock. Climbing for me hasn’t been about how hard or how bad ass, but for me climbing has been an addiction and a passion. My motivation was created from the beauty, the people and the movement that climbing encompasses. A mind game mixed up with strength, muscle resistance, power, and an un-relentless battle with your body.
On my first trip to Australia I had the chance to watch James Kassay work the Wheel of Life. This was my first taste of the Wheel and one of many days spent at the Hollow Mt. Cave. James’s effort was inspiring to watch and he successfully climbed the Wheel during that trip. He worked this climb for ten years which seems like a massive epic, but it shows dedication that many people could never understand.
To be honest I felt confident on my second trip to Australia because I knew I had improved as a climber and as a person. Dave, Nalle, and I wasted no time and started working the Wheel as soon as we got to Australia. Each of us made good links on the boulder after only a few days of effort, which gave me the confidence I needed to top out the Wheel. It was not until Dave and I spent a day working the last section of the boulder when we unlock a system that made the moves more about resistance and less about power. I want to say that Dave Graham was a massive help to me when I was working the sections of the boulder. We spent hours together climbing and critiquing the movement so that the final product was as efficient as possible. Those days were the most memorable and I will never forget how much fun we had in the process.
When I sent the Wheel of Life it was one of those days when you go climbing with your friends, you try hard, have fun, and don’t put any pressure on yourself. The energy that day is something that I wish I could recreate every climbing day. June 17, 2012 is one for the record books and for me a personal best day of climbing. When I think I can’t do something I will always think of that day and the way I felt before I sent and after.
Special thanks to: Jes, Remi, Dave, Nalle, Dad, Eddie
Internet has been far and few between here in the Grampians. So, posts will be up once the trip comes to an end. Until then take a look at the link listed below for my number one highlight of the trip. Thank you Eddie for capturing my moment.
the ultimate playground
The day I sent The Wheel of Life was such a memorable day for me. I'm not sure how I can capture in words the feelings I felt during my sending of The Wheel of Life. This climb caught my attention on our trip last year (2011) and from the first moment I set eyes on the line, I knew I wanted to someday top out that boulder. It took all the effort from this years trip and last years to get all the moves down sequentially and fluidly. It was not until Dave Graham and I, together, unlocked a very efficient method did I feel I had a chance to top out this amazing line. (I would however like to note that I spent hours working the line's moves and it was not a give me rock climb.)
And as for the grade, which personally I think all grades are subjective, I would say it is a 9a+.
My experience here in Australia has been epic, climbing on some of the best rock in the world, hanging out with my friends, and putting up world class new climbs (which I hope others will someday get to experience.) This trip has been two months of non-stop movement and I personally have been climbing has often and as hard as my body will allow me to go. Every day has been a new day of exploring and developing, we have no time to waste and after each day spent energetically over 100% we can hardly make dinner when we get back to the cabin. Every time we think we are finally going to rest it turns into an epic exploring and bashing through the bush day, which I'd like to say is not restful.
Australia is an unimaginable mecca of climbing and I know when people take the time to make trails, it will only be a matter of time before the attention to visiting the Grampians will skyrocket.
This week is the last week for me here, in the stunning Grampians, and I will be returning back home to Colorado to my fiancé and back to school. I cannot wait until we return again to Australia, it has become a favorite location of mine and to those who love to explore and develop it is the ultimate playground for just that.
After attending my first semester of college at Front Range Fort Collins I was more than ready to head down to Arkansas to climb with friends. My spring break was a jumbled mess from the start, all my friends had different spring break schedules and I was left alone to find someone to drive down to Arkansas with. Finally, I found my partner Kona (Jes & my dog) she seemed psyched so we hit the road and I finished setting at Miramont. Thanks to some books and psych we made it close to Witichata, KS by 1am. We crashed in the car for a few hours and then hit the road early. Kona and I made it to Cole’s house by 3pm and then joined by my friend Kyle McCabe, from NH. Having just driven many hours we were all content to just do some nice warm ups which included some good 5.10s and 5.12s. This was a great warm-up for the projects we were to try later.
Arkansas is really growing on my and the endless undeveloped crags and boulders keep astonishing me. The days were hot during this trip and most of the walls hit the shade later in the day. Which no one complained about since we could sleep in a bit, but we did climb every day until dark, a muerte.
On this trip I got the chance to put up some amazing climbs
bouldering and finally taking an FA a sweet route.
***** FA 13c, Private land in Arkansas.
Cole Fennel took me this area that had a beautiful wall filled with sport climbs. I was given the privilege to climb on what is said to be the best of Arkansas sport climbing. Thank you to Cole Fennel and the Owner of this private property for giving me this opportunity.
The beginning section of this climb had been done, but the extension was still a project and I was psyched to see what I could do on this amazing line. The route was brilliant with sand stone streaking from orange to black. Each move was fun and challenging. After giving it a really good flash attempt, and falling during the crux I rested 20 min then bagged the climb. The lower crux involves a hard flip to an under cling and dead point to a crimp. You do get a decent rest and then gear up for the next crux. Moving off a left hand crimp and an ok right foot you fire out to a gaston you wish is better than it actually is. Left foot needs to power off of a slopper. Stay calm and bring first your right foot and then your left as you set
up for a hard match. Move your hand and stand tall for the red point crux and with all your might stab into a good crimp and set your heel for a dynamic jump to a jug (relief!!!) Once you give it good shake cruise up the 12a section and clip or jump for victory.
Tatiana Arête v12
Near the Sex Boulder (which has the climb Abb-lounge v9 or 10- we
climbed quickly) there is an arête that Cole showed us which has been a long standing project. After some brushing I knew that the line would go and was psyched to spend time figuring out the beta with Kyle and Cole. After an hour or longer of beta, configuration, and a day to let it all soak in I climbed the boulder. I called it Tatiana Arête v12. Tatiana, being my fiancé's (Jes D'Emilio)middle name.
The climb itself is amazing and I can’t say that I have done many of that nature. You start under this roof and move out on good holds with power. You match the underling and get a massive toe hook above your head as you move your right hand to the lip. Then you mach toe hooks and heel next to your right hand. With you left hand still in the underling you bump to a crimp and set your left foot on a bad hold and go big to a right hand side pull on the lip of the arête. Don’t breath as you mach your toe next to your left hand in the underling, then bringing your body and left hand to the arête. Stabilize as you release your left foot and launch to the lip
with one last burst of power.
photos of Tatiana Arête
many projects to come.
There are still many projects that I can’t wait to tap into on my
next visit. Thanks Cole for taking the time to show me around for six days straight and the hospitality you’ve shown Kona and I. Next time, lets plan for at least one rest day involving many Sapporos!
Ever since I watched videos of Dave, Jon and other friends climbing in Arkansas making a trip down to check out the amazing sandstone was on the list. Nalle and I were both engaged and psyched with the idea of climbing, developing and getting to know the southeast. After a brief stop in Hueco Tanks, TX we were all motivated to climb on the friendly sandstone of Arkansas. After speaking with our contact Cole Fennel about some of the new bouldering areas that needed development, we knew that Arkansas was going to be A-MAZING.
We arrived at the Horseshoe Canyon Ranch pretty late because pulling a camper can take time plus some. The camp grounds at night were pretty tricky to maneuver a van and trailer. I proceeded to spend the next half hour in drive and reverse going up and down gravel hills trying to figure out where, the hell I should park my trailer. Frustrating to say the least! Finally after running into one of the ranch guides I got “good” beta to the camp sites. I then had to commit to drive my camper up a very steep bumpy dirt road which I ended up being wrong. Forcing me to back down a very narrow steep dirt road and to top everything off I now began to attract a crowd of people who stood on their balconies to stair and watch… I thought that world cup competition was presser.
As v7’s go this is one of the better ones I have ever climbed, this climb is the epitome of a beautiful line. The problem starts on good crimps high off the ground, you might need to stack some pads to start this one, then it moves across a perfect rail makes it way up and left with comfortable holds. It involves technical foot work, the colors scheme is stunning finishing with a tall top out. This is a must do and is definitely worth telling mom about especially if she’s into high ball boulders.
This is a compact fun boulder but, even more fun if you like pulling on monos. It starts close to the ground on small awkward holds and might take someone a few tries to figure out the first move, unless you can power your way into the balance point. After the crux first move you grab a good left hand you lock down, and grab a good crimp at arms reach. Next, bring your foot up and grab another crimp with the left hand. Find your “zen” as you stick your finger in the mono for a last showy move to a sloper and top out. If you’re going to try Grand Dragon you might as well do this climb they’re both area classics.
Lost In The Hood
Lost In The Hood was great and I was really happy with how fast I could tick this problem, a personal best for me. V14 in a couple hours! Lost in the Hood fit my style and with Nalle Hukkataival to bring in more energy it’s not hard to believe that we took it down. This is a short powerful line with the first move being the crux. You have a jug for your right hand and a really small crimp for your left hand. You place your foot almost next to your hand and do a hard power move to a crimp. You next make a blind foot move and stand to a small, but good crimp. Then make a full extension move to a left hand crimp, do another hard blind foot move, drop you right hand down and reach a key foot placements. You then make a hard match and go big for the finish hold! Top out on an un-cleaned high ball finish. A stunning line and a great boulder!
Being one of my better flashes in the dark I have to say that it was great to have good friends there to shed some light on the problem, literary. With some love I think that this boulder could top out and I wish I had more time to spend in this cave. Definitely classic worth doing!
Jes and I flew home for the holidays, it was a quick needed rest and always great to spend time with our families.
While being shown some of the bouldering areas around Arkansas, Cole Fennel pointed out this project located at the Heaven Boulders. At first glance you think that it’s a hard sharp crimp move and not much fun but, after giving the move one go we decided that the boulder would be best climbed as a dyno. Not many boulders have an all points off dyno like this one. You think it’s just about jumping but, no it’s actually a hard dead point move that takes some practice. Both holds you go to are crimp jugs but kind of separated from one another. You have to grab one and just hope your other hand finds the mark. I can’t wait to see this on the video.
Better Babies Club
Watching talented climbers make moves look super easy is amazing it makes you feel as if you too can easily make that move, very deceiving. This boulder is located on the HCR by the Idaho boulders, the tall arête has to be one of the more obvious fetchers in the area. Tall and scary, this boulder is more technical then anything and if your feet can’t stay on then you can’t. We first found the boulder while taking a day for Jes and Amy to enjoy some of the better moderates. The boulder is tall and scary with some awkward moves high off the ground which adds some fear factor but, if you can suer come that it’s a great climb.
Another great accent Nalle and I put up back to back, in the dark, while others held headlamps for us to climb is located at the Heaven Boulders. this line is a few crimp moves out a roof to a big jump off a sharp slot. The crux is holding the swing after a dynamic move. You top out on less then clean sloppers but, we can see this being an area classic soon enough. Thanks again Cole for showing us this area!
Illusion of Safety
This was the big one and the king line of our trip. Taking a few hours of cleaning and vision this amazing problem unfolded after working a difficult project next to it. A tall beautiful arête with a hard committing lock off at the end gives you goose bumps to just looking at it. Requiring many pads and a rope to rig them in the right spot this climb is not for the faint of heart. The hard crux is at the start but, you get pumped as you move up the twenty five foot boulder and top out on less than perfect protection. The starting holds are obvious and amazing. Each move is unique involving power and technical movement. I was more than psyched to have completed this boulder after our first cleaning session we thing the grade is around v13.
Off the Rails
What a line complete with great movement! This is one of the best boulders in the country and is one of the highlights of our trip. Amazingly obvious starting holds leading you along incredibly fluid movement to a technical mantle. It is an area classic and was a pleasure to climb.
While spending time with Cole bouldering we checked out what he called the Daniel Woods Boulder. This boulder had two lines on it, Trackman and Stackin Paper both Nalle and I flashed Trackman back to back and never tried the other. A really good climb with some hard compression and a cool hand jam if you can find it. This boulder is all by itself and, worth checking out if you’re in the area.
Last day with only hours before we packed up the camper Nalle and I headed out for one last session on the sandstone. With almost no beta, less psych, and even less skin. It was going to take some seriously good music to get this day going. Never the less we rallied and both sent after a few epic goes and probably the worst possible conditions you could think of. No water, every hold in the sun and not knowing that one of the key holds had broken off in the past, topping our was heaven like. We could not believe we actually pulled it off.
Tember and Fancy Pants
During a portion of the filming with Chuck Fryberger Films I got the chance to work with one of the ranches horses Fancy Pants. He was trained by Tember Hursh, one of the guides at the ranch. It was awesome getting to get to know Tember and Fancy Pants during our trip and was one of the ultimate highlights, especially since she gave me the chance to canter and gallop, so sick! I am definitely looking forward to going back and hanging out with Fancy Pants some time soon. Fancy Pants was pro and did everything we ask without question. Never once did he get spooked that I had a crash pad on my back, cranes swinging around, and a crowd of people watching. Thanks again Fancy Pants and Tember for the life experience! Jes and I keep thinking about getting a horse now, some day.
I feel very lucky to have friends like Nalle and Amy who flew across the world to climb around the country with Jes and I. Our trip started in Utah and ended in Arkansas where I got the chance to film with Chuck Freburger films. We worked with Nellson and Ben for a part in the upcoming film called The Network look for it this summer! We filmed the new boulders we put up and had a great time just messing around when we created a skits and filmed the Horseshoe Canyon Ranch madness. I want to say a special thanks to Morgan McNeil for getting us set up with four-wheeler’s and guns on our days off of climbing. I can’t wait to get back and throw down on some more projects and blast off some assault-rifles with friends.
Camping and Climbing at the Horseshoe Canyon Ranch was sweet joy and I have nothing but good things to say about the guides and facilities at the ranch. It was nice to hang out in the barn and get to know the crew that makes the ranch what it is. Thanks again for the hospitality and making our trip so great.
Fixing the Camper
With October on the farm being so busy and life’s demands increase it’s a hard time to fit in little things like fixing a destroyed 1963 camper from the mob of teenage boys who have been “chilling” in it while I was away on my last trip. So Jes & I had to kick it into high gear to prep for the up coming road trip with our friends Amy Langemore from Australia and Nalle Hukkataival from Finland. Ripping the back end of the camper off, replacing all the rotten wood, adding new insulation, and revamping the interior what seemed to be a ‘simple project’ began feeling like we opened a box of worms.
Creating a watertight, wind resistant home base camper the ultimate goal, and with my “rough” carpentry skills I can only hope that two bottles of silicon can help me achieve rain protection. It only took a few trips to the store and about a week of work to achieve the decked-out camper complete with chalk board paint, new flooring, and a now water proof back frame.
After my last climbing trip with Nalle to Australia where we were developing and exploring the Northern Grampians with Dave Graham, we now are taking another trip around the south western part of the country bouldering at some of my favorite crags & stepping foot in a new one. We started in Joes Valley where we were exploring for new projects and cleaning up some unsent futuristic classics. It’s always great to climb with good friends but with so little time Nalle, Jes, Amy and I are trying to focus on what lines inspire us most! Even with the outstanding rock quality in Joe’s Valley it’s been hard to tell whether some of the amazing lines we‘ve found are even possible. After discovering, envisioning and cleaning line after line its always a bit of a bummer when you find out that the moves we’ve previously thought possible were way harder than predicted.
Pimp Mode Project:
Grateful I’ve gotten the opportunity to experience years of climbing in Joes Valley I was ready to begin adding great lines here. I always wanted to check out some of the “harder” projects and with Nalle in town it seemed like a good time to test the limits. With so much talk about what is supposedly one of the best projects in the US I was really psyched to see what Nalle had to say about this black wall beauty.
Taking us a few hours of cleaning and building a landing the time finally came when we could give what we call the Pimp Mode Project a try. Many falls later we definitely think that this climb goes! it’s just a matter of time investment and not getting injured on the super small crimps.
Black 45 Project
After working every climb on our long list of projects and repeatedly getting shut down we were losing faith that Joes had projects that we could send before our time was up. When shopping at the classy Food Ranch we ran into an old friend who told us about this amazing overhanging wall that he had found close to the river. Naturally, it sparked our interest and set out on the hunt the following day. It took us a sometime to find, but when we finally found it we were psyched. A beautiful 45 degree wall black with solid heinous hold. Every move seemed possible. With only one day left of our trip to invest in this new climb it’s still hard to say what the grade is or even the beta is. Never the less when the climb becomes established its going to be hands down one of the hardest lines in the canyon and will not likely see quick repeats.
Who the f*** is Trent Project
Trent’s Mom is one of the best & well-known boulders in Joe’s Valley. It can only be described as amazing. Personally I never realized what a brilliant project was right next Trent’s Mom. After cleaning we started working it. This project stood out the most to me because I found the colors, holds, and powerful movement fun and fitting to my style. This climb is definitely easier if you have a larger span and involves a massive lock off to a gaston. Someone would say that your hips would take a beating while working this boulder but worth it.
Every climb is time and energy, so unfortunately sometimes our precious skin is put towards what could only be described as almost cool. This is how climbs like Down Jacket are born. I’d say it’s not the worst climb ever but not one worth writing home about. We first heard about the boulder during one of our warm up sessions when a climber walked over and pointed it out to us. It’s located across the river from the Angler Boulder and right of Low Tide check it out if you have the time.
Life of Fritz
During the Thanksgiving break a few of my friends came out from Boulder to get some climbing in during their school break. Matty Hong and his crew drove all through the night and got to our camp site only hours before the snow and wind picked up. Luckily the intense weather stopped and all was good in the hood when the sun finally showed its face. I gave him & his crew as extensive of a tour that I thought was possible considering the limited time given.
Warming up on Brain Damage, a high ball v6, seemed like a great way to start their trip. Shortly after that we added a very nice first accent to the area (right of Brain Damage) that we called Life of Fritz. Inspiration taken from this little tea cup Chihuahua we know. This boulder starts in an already “established” v8 but then works along a very nice head wall to a few hard moves around a roof. We gave this problem a v9 grade. If you’re in the area test it out and let us know what you think.
Sometimes its hard to find new “moderate” boulder problems in an established area like Joes but, Nalle and I got lucky enough to find an amazing line which climbs at about v8/9. Located above the Beyond Life boulder it is one of the sweetest-longer climbs in the canyon. I can see this boulder becoming very popular and a great addition to the classics in the area. The boulder is over 20 moves long and a perfect landing that allows climbers to falls and be safe (thanks to our intense efforts during a windstorm that gave us the inspiration for this name.) I am very much looking forward to seeing what feedback people give us about this stunning line.
I want to bring up this line because I think that the boulder is one of the most beautiful blocks around, with its super strong holds and its stunning solid back wall it is one of the better harder line’s in the area. Each move is not super difficult on its own but when put together the boulder requires balance, power and foot work which is why I agree with grade 8b. Definitely worth writing home about so get your guns out and give it a try before you leave the area.
After having a great day of climbing and sticking a few new climbs like Playmate of the Year and Battle Toads, Nalle and I decided to give a few tries on this traverse project located on the back of the Death Scream boulder. We felt the holds and decided to put on our own climb shoes and test it out. The moves are pretty technical and dynamic move. Nalle sent quickly after the climb was clean and ready to go but, It took me a few minutes of effort. We thought the grade stands around v9/10.
More to come from Hueco