Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Projects, projects, projects

Nothing too exciting to update, but I thought I'd post a quick run down of what I've been up to over the past few weeks. Mostly, I've been bouldering a lot and starting some new projects.

A few weeks ago, Brock and I headed up to the Satellite Boulders in the Flatirons for a night session and to get on The Turning Point (V8). We warmed up as the temps cooled off a bit and eventually worked out all the moves on this awesome problem. I went back up there on Sunday to see if I could make any more progress on the line. I did all the moves again and put in a very good link, falling two moves from the finish. Unfortunately temps were really warm and the last two moves feel really hard to me, but I'm confident that with one or two more days of refining beta and getting the muscle memory dialed in, I'll top this one out soon.

The Turning Point, V8

Also a couple weeks ago, a huge crew of people went up to the Emerald Lake area in RMNP. Everyone congregated at The Kind to work on this classic V5. I made a halfhearted attempt at warming up on an easy problem to the right, then decided to just hop on The Kind. I managed the flash, feeling pretty solid the whole way, aside from my fingers going numb on the last few holds. I did the problem again and tried the sit start a few times, but decided to save my skin for other things. The rest of the day turned out to be a lot of falling off hard problems, but I'm still happy with my hardest flash to date.

Finally, last Tuesday, Brock, Paul, and I headed up Boulder Canyon to The Citadel boulder. This is a very cool bloc right next to the creek that has a V1, V5/6, V8, V10, V11, and V13, something for everyone. We warmed up a bit and went to work on Standard Overhang, V5/6. After working out the tricky beginning (where are the feet? oh wait, there aren't any.), Brock and I were both able to do this problem. Paul made some progress, but no send and Brock moved on to The Citadel, V8. I made a few poor attempts on The Citadel, but my skin and fingers weren't feeling it. Brock came super close to sending though. We got back up there last night and there was much progress to be had. Paul fell off the top out to Standard Overhang like 3 times at the end of the session (next time for sure), Brock sent The Citadel twice with different beta on each send, and I fell of the last move of the Citadel on my last go of the day (next time for sure). Mad props to Brock on wrapping up his year long goal of climbing a V8 on the last day of his self imposed deadline!

The Citadel, V8

All in all, I'm super happy with how well I've been climbing lately. I got my hardest flash and hardest send this summer, and I've got three different projects that I've linked to within 2 moves of the finish (The Citadel (V8), The Turning Point (V8), and Valhalla (V7)). Since Sendtember is now here and the Front Range is finally cooling off a bit, I'm looking forward to an awesome fall!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Turning Point

One of the best things about the Boulder area is the proximity to good rock. You can easily climb at a huge number of different areas after work and good options exist for single or multipitch trad, bouldering and sport. However, when it's 95 degrees out it's just not fun to go climbing. To get around this, Brock and I headed up to the Satellite Boulders last night. Temps were pretty close to perfect around 11p with low humidity and a great breeze to keep the skin dry. Needless to say, there were no crowds either.

I'd never been up to the Satellites before, but it was a fun area and I look forward to going back in the daylight and being able to see beyond my headlamp once things cool off.

We warmed up on some easy, fun slab problems on the Sputnik Boulder and then a bit more warming up on the A7 boulder before heading up to the BBC boulder and the nights main objective, The Turning Point (V8).

A fun V1 or V2 on the A7 boulder
We both put a good amount of work in to The Turning Point and after quite a while we worked out some good beta for the opening moves and I was eventually able to do all the moves. Eventually I did the problem in 3 overlapping sections. This is a great problem worthy of 3 or 4 stars and is pretty close to the limit of my ability at this point. I was super psyched to do all the moves and can't wait to get back up there and work on linking it up.

Definitely check out the high quality version of the video below to see women and children far stronger than I make this problem look good. I didn't use the same beta as seen in the video for a single move on the problem, great problem for all heights!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Chaos Canyon, take 3

Looking back on my first post on bouldering in Chaos Canyon, lack of enthusiasm for the area was clearly evident. Well, yesterday I was back up there with a few others and, needless to say, I've warmed up to the area quite a bit. Despite the hour plus drive and decently long hike, this area just draws you in. As with anywhere, it took a little while to get used to the rock, but I think I mostly underestimated myself and the quality of the bouldering.

We left Boulder a bit after 8am, lucked into a great parking spot in the packed Bear Lake lot and demolished the hike up. We warmed up on the Potato Chip Boulder then headed over to the Gobot area to finish up some projects.

Me warming up from Doug Lipinski on Vimeo.

First up was Paul's project of several sessions, Autobot. This is a great V4 or V5, depending on who you ask. It climbs up out of a slot between two boulders. A couple difficult moves lead to a V2 topout with a perfect view of Lake Haiyaha. The problem climbs incredibly well and although it looks like a fall would send you tumbling down into the pit below, you can actually just lean back on the pads behind you. A must do if you're in the area. Congrats on the send Paul!

Paul on Autobot, V4, Lower Chaos from Doug Lipinski on Vimeo.

Next up was Revenge, V6. This problem climbs compression moves out of a cave near Autobot. The problem climbs much better than it looks and if it weren't for the strange topout (head left via a heel hand match) it would be a classic for sure. This was an end of the day problem last weekend and I felt sure it would go down quickly this time. I was able to dispatch it on my first go of the day, followed immediately by Brock with his send. He would have gotten it on his first go too, but got a bit confused on the topout.

Brock on Revenge, V6, Lower Chaos from Doug Lipinski on Vimeo.

Paul and Sarah made some good progress on this problem as well, but it will have to wait for another day for them. We decided to head over to Geeks of the Industry (V7) next. After working this for quite a while last weekend and even falling after slapping the lip on one go I had high hopes, but the problem felt really hard on my first few attempts. Our time at this boulder was very much up and down. It started feeling easier after a few goes and I even worked out some new beta for the last hard move. As soon as I started feeling like the send could be imminent it started raining and hailing. Fortunately that was short lived, but it raised the humidity enough to make the holds feel greasy. Finally, I worked up some motivation to give it my all and fired through the problem, feeling solid the whole way. Just like on Revenge, Brock followed up with the send on his next go too! Nothing like some extra psych to get you up a project.

Me topping out Geeks of the Industry (V7) on the send!
Despite the top out through the pine tree branch and the relatively short height of this boulder, I LOVE this problem. Crimps on a 20 deg. overhang requiring precision and control, a perfect landing (two pads is overkill), many options for different beta, and skin friendly despite the small holds! Get on it!

This is probably the hardest problem I've done and I was super psyched about it, but it really brought home to me (again) how much of this sport is mental. I know I fell numerous times on this problem simply due to lack of focus or effort at key moments. Just a little more precision or a little more use of your core muscles can make all the difference. Sometimes it just takes total commitment to the moment to make it happen. I can't wait for fall conditions to see what more I've got in me!

Many thanks to Paul and Sarah for the great pics and videos from the day! So psyched to spend more great days in the mountains!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Summer in Chaos Canyon

I haven't posted in a while so I just thought I'd upload a few pics from bouldering in Chaos Canyon this past Saturday. The weather was fantastic, if a bit too warm for good friction and we even managed to get a spot in the Bear Lake parking lot right away. We spent the WHOLE day up there, leaving Boulder around 9am and returning at 9pm! I also managed to climb a lot better this time than my last visit up there, managing a pretty easy flash of Autobot (I'd have to say V4, not V5), and coming very close to doing Revenge, V6, and a very fun V7, Geeks of the Industry. Another awesome day in the mountains of Colorado.

And now, some of the first evidence in years that I actually climb. Thanks Sarah and Paul for the pictures!

Geeks of the Industry, V7

Geeks of the Industry, V7

Geeks of the Industry, V7 from Doug Lipinski on Vimeo.

Something ~V3 on the Potato Chip Boulder

Potato Chip Boulder

Potato Chip Boulder

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Longs peak speed ascent

Looking up at Longs Peak (center) from the Jim's
Grove/Battle Mountain junction. Mt Meeker (left)
and Mt Lady Washington (right) are also pictured.
I've been planning on doing a fast ascent of Longs for quite a while and it finally came together last weekend. I ended up staying in Estes Park on Saturday night before getting up at 5am and heading to the trailhead with Dave. We hit the trail right at 6 and made fast progress up through the trees, quickly hitting the Jim's Grove/Battle Mountain junction. We headed left, keeping to the main trail. After a quick picture stop at Chasm Junction, things were mostly uneventful until the Boulder Field.
Showing off my sexy legs at Chasm Junction
Looking back down on the Twin sisters peaks
during the ascent to Granite Pass
I think we both started feeling the altitude here due to our fast pace and poor night of sleep (and less than stellar acclimitization?), but we soon reached the Keyhole and crossed onto the west side of the mountain.
The Boulder Field, I've still never seen a picture that
accurately shows how enormous it is.

It was a lot colder here (in the shade) and we quickly added layers, gloves and hats. The ledges passed quickly due to the relative lack of elevation gain and we soon started the slow slog up the trough. I was really feeling the altitude here (~13,800') and the loose rock combined with the occasional sketchy snow/ice patch didn't help. Our pace slowed significantly, but we eventually reached the top of the trough and transitioned to the narrows. Again, the relatively flat narrows section passed quickly and we were soon sucking wind as we scrambled slowly up the home stretch, avoiding ice and wet rock on the way. We hit the summit (14,259') at about 10:50 and made a short stop before heading back down the mountain.

Me on the summit.
Dave freezing on the summit
 The route to the keyhole passed quickly and soon we were shedding layers back in the boulder field. We felt a few rain drops as we left the boulder field, but nothing substantial and we started running as soon as we hit real trail. From that point on, we ran most of the way back to the parking lot, only walking where the trail was particularly poor. We also took the Jim's Grove cutoff to save a bit of time and distance. We finally arrived back at the parking lot at 12:30pm, 6:30 after starting.

I'm pretty happy with the time and very happy with the day spent on such an awesome mountain. When I consider how miserably slow the top part of the mountain felt I'm actually amazed at the final time.

We only saw significant numbers of other people in the trough and above, but on Monday the last bits of snow melted off the route and it's officially non-technical. For the rest of the summer there will be lots of crowds on weekends. Perfect timing!

I'm thinking about getting in some more acclimitization hiking and giving this another go later in the summer. If I do, I'll wait for a particularly stable weather day and leave around noon. Should be much warmer in the trough that way and I'll get better sleep and better food before starting out.

The stats: 6.5hrs, ~13.5(?) miles, 5000ft vertical

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Chaos Canyon Bouldering

Yesterday I went up to Chaos Canyon with a few people to do some bouldering. I had never been up there before and it turned out to be a pretty good day. It's definitely an awesome setting for a day outside, but unless you climb harder than I do, it's probably not an area you'd want to visit a lot.

Great views of Glacier Gorge and Longs Peak on the hike in.
Lake Haiyaha and Upper Chaos, taken from atop the Gobot Boulder
The strong people were out in force yesterday as well. We saw Chuck Fryberger, Brion Voges, John Gass, John Cardwell, Daniel Woods, Carlo Traversi, Dave Graham and others up there. Carlo was headed up the trail as we headed down and he apparently had a very productive afternoon by himself. Being a V6 climber in Colorado is a bit like running a 5 minute mile at the Olympics, it's pretty good for the average person, but the other participants consider it a warmup.

I'm not sure when I'll be heading back up to that area. Definitely a spectacular setting and well worth the visit, but if I really want to climb a lot I need an area with more moderates.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bear Peak run/hike

View fom the summit of Bear Peak
Yesterday (6/23) I did a quick run/hike up Bear Peak via Fern Canyon. This is a standard (and excellent) hike in Boulder and is certainly the steepest trail in the area, climbing about 2800' over just 2.8 miles (1000 ft/mile or averaging a 19% grade!!!). It was a beautiful day out, but a bit hot so I waited until 6:40 to hit the trail and I still overheated quite a bit in the beginning of the hike. I felt like crap most of my way up the canyon until I got up higher and started cooling off a bit. I'm feeling pretty strong these days and this was actually a pretty good time despite the miserable ascent. Great day and a great hike with a lot of bang for your buck.

The stats: 5.6 miles, ~3000 ft elevation gain, 1hr 56min

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Longs Peak to the Keyhole

The Diamond, Longs Peak (photo from August '08)
Yesterday was a beautiful day out, the finish to a week of awesome weather on the Front Range. After spending the morning doing some work inside I decided it was too nice outside to miss out on. I quickly stuffed some extra clothes in my pack, grabbed some water and drove up to the Longs Peak trail head in RMNP. The goal for the day was to get well above treeline and spend several hours at altitude in one of the most beautiful places on earth. I didn't bring a camera so the photos here are from a previous trip in August, 2008.

Due to the outstanding weather and lack of threatening clouds over the mountains I decided to head up the Longs Peak trail even though I left the trail head around 2:30pm. The trail was in pretty good shape with a bit of water in places and without the horse crap I experienced last time. There was no snow until I was above the trees and in the krummholz. Even then, there were only a few short snow fields before Chasm Junction and the trail passed quickly. There were quite a few people headed down the trail, but once I reached Chasm Junction I only saw a few people for the rest of the day.

Views at Chasm Junction were awesome. Peacock Pool is free of ice and there were clouds blowing over the Loft from the south and swirling in front of the Diamond. After a short break to eat a granola bar and empty the sand from my shoes I headed up trail toward Granite Pass. There were two longer snowfields on a fairly steep side slope here, but no real issues. I soon rounded Granite pass (windy here) and headed up to the Boulder Field. There was no more snow until just below the Keyhole and I made my way up to the area of the Boulder Field campsites.

The top half of the Diamond as seen from the Boulder Field.
The Boulder Field is ENORMOUS! There are people at bottom right.

The Boulder Field had been my intended destination, but when I got there I still felt good, the weather was fine and the Keyhole, with its promise of views into Glacier Gorge, seemed to be beckoning. I sat and soaked in the scenery for 20 minutes or so while I tried to gauge the time, my watch, cell phone and camera had all been left behind. I finally decided to push for the Keyhole and soak in some more solitude and spectacular views. I had a headlamp anyway so it was no big deal if I ended up hiking down in the dark.

The Keyhole, Agnes Vaille Shelter is just below/left of the keyhole.

I headed left and then switched back to the right between the snowfields lingering in the Boulder Field and scrambled up to the Keyhole without setting foot on snow. The view into Glacier Gorge was well worth it. I just stood there in the wind and sun for ten minutes or so, enjoying the solitude and the incredible scenery spread before and behind me. Mills Lake and Jewel Lake were free of ice, Black Lake was partially melted and the higher lakes were still frozen. I could also pick out Hallett and Otis Peaks near the Divide to the west. There's something about Longs Peak that really appeals to me. Maybe it's the fact that it towers above the Front Range like no other peak does, but I love nearly everything (aside from the usual crowds) that comes with hiking on this mountain. The solitude of the late afternoon was really incredible. For me, there's no better feeling than being alone in the mountains on a gorgeous day. Feeling strong and confident and without a single other person for miles around.

Eventually I headed down, across the alien landscape that is the Boulder Field and down the switchbacks to Granite Pass. From here I decided to take the Jims Grove shortcut to save some time and distance on the descent, and also to explore a new trail. To find this trail while coming down, continue a short distance below Granite Pass and look for two prominent rocks on the left, just a few yards off the trail. There is also an old, broken wooden post sticking out of the ground. You should see a faint trail and some wooden timbers which form steps leading down to the left of the main trail. This trail saves quite a bit of time and distance compared to the long arc out to Chasm Junction. It drops you back at the main trail at the sign which points to Battle Mountain.

The hike below treeline was uneventful, but for the first time didn't seem endless. I finally arrived back at the car at 7pm, much earlier than I would have guessed it was. All in all it was a great hike and I met all my goals for the day. I planned on taking it easy, but I wasn't able to help running some of the flatter spots on the way down. I think I probably ran less than a mile of the whole trail and I took lots of breaks to just sit and soak in the scenery. Even so, I made pretty good time and I felt really good when I got back down. I think I brought just enough food and I finished the water in my 72oz. Camelbak on the drive back to Boulder.

Also, as I mentioned briefly, I didn't bring a camera. In some ways this was liberating since I didn't even think about taking pictures. Anyway, I certainly enjoyed the views and the pictures would never do it justice. However, that means no one else gets to see the sights in this post, just pics from a couple years ago. Too bad for you!

Once the top of the mountain melts out (the trough was still a full on snow climb) I'll be back to do a fast ascent. Looking forward to more great days in the alpine tundra!

My best guess at the stats: ~12 miles, ~3800' of vertical, ~13100' high point, 4hrs 30min

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Green and Bear it

Green Mountain and Bear Peak are the two most prominent peaks immediately west of Boulder and home to the Flatirons. I decided to take advantage of the gorgeous weather yesterday and head out for a long hike after work. I headed up to NCAR after leaving the CU campus and hit the trail at 5:25 with the intention of summitting Green Mountain, Bear Peak, and South Boulder Peak in one long hike. I set out with a goal of finishing in 3 hours and running as much as I could manage.

Yesterday's beautiful weather, Bear Peak on the far left and Green Mtn in the center

The jog from NCAR to Bear Canyon went quickly and I headed up Bear Canyon to the Green-Bear trail junction. The three days of rain we got last weekend had turned the usually small stream in the canyon into a raging torrent slightly larger stream which sounded a lot bigger than it was. Also, I never noticed how much most of this trail looks like a recently wet stream bed until I got to the part which was a currently wet stream bed. As you climb higher up the canyon the trail starts to wind through some small aspen groves and crosses back and forth over the stream several times. I was able to rock hop over all these crossings except for one without trouble. The one crossing I couldn't make on dry rocks resulted in a wet right foot and a new found disappointment in the water draining efficacy of my trail runners.

My Route

I finally hit the Green-Bear trail junction and headed north up the hill towards the west ridge of Green Mountain. There's a fairly significant amount of vertical gain here (nearly 1000ft) and the thought of losing all that altitude on my way back toward Bear Peak was a bit depressing. After what felt like a long time, I hit the west ridge trail, stopped to eat some Gu and finished the last bit to the summit by 6:45 (3.8 miles). At this point I thought I still had a chance to hit my goal of 3 hours if I could make it to S Boulder Peak in an hour and get back down to NCAR in 40 minutes. After taking a few minutes to empty the sand/pebbles from my shoes delay the inevitable descent, I headed back down the Green-Bear trail and then up toward Bear Peak. This is definitely my favorite stretch of trail in the Boulder area and I didn't see a single person after leaving the Green Mtn summit until I was on the saddle between Bear and S Boulder Peaks, about 3 miles of perfect trails. The last push toward the summit of Bear Peak gets really steap, but it's an easy jog over to S Boulder peak from there. I hit the S Boulder Peak summit at 7:55 (7.1 miles), ate some more Gu and decided I wasn't going to make the 3 hour goal since I was pretty exhausted, 3.5 miles from NCAR and only 1/2 hour to go.

To descend, I hiked back over to Bear Peak and went down Fern Canyon. It's been about a year since I was on this trail and I had forgotten just how steep it is. It's by far the steepest trail in the Boulder area and my ears were popping the whole way down. On the way down I caught my toe on a rock and nearly took a face plant three separate times. I guess that's what happens when you start getting really exhausted and loose focus. I ran a lot of the downhill where it wasn't too steep, but finally ran out of gas and had to walk the last mile back to NCAR. I arrived at 8:53, totally exhausted, but still feeling better than after my last long hike. I ate enough and drank plenty of water (almost 72 oz.), but my legs just ran out of fuel near the end. Nothing some food, a couple beers and a dip in the hot tub wouldn't fix.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with the hike. Great views, perfect temps near 70 deg., no crowds and a nice evening in the mountains. This route has a pretty punishing amount of vertical and I'm happy with my time even though I didn't make the 3 hour goal. The stats: 3h 28min, 10.6 miles, ~4600ft elevation gain.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

New wall at The Spot

I finally got over to The Spot yesterday to check out their new wall, The Beach, and I thought I'd share my first impressions. This is the wall that was used for the Battle in the Bubble at the Boulder Reservoir and later reassembled in The Spot

The new Beach wall at The Spot, photo from The Spot Route Setting Blog
First of all, wall designs have obviously come a long way since people started building climbing walls with plywood and 2x4's and this is obviously a very cool wall. The colors add a nice effect, the texture is great and the prefabricated (fiberglass?) panels line up seamlessly and create some very cool shapes.

For now, I think just the novelty of the new wall makes it a lot of fun to climb on. Also, it's super tall, but the padding system is great and a fall from the top is no problem at all. However, I've always found that the best walls for training have simple shapes with consistent angles. It's also a lot easier (for me at least) to set fun, consistent problems on simple walls. The Spot probably has some of best setters in the country and they've done a great job of setting on this wall, but I'd be really interested to hear their opinions on setting on the new wall with its complex shapes.

La Sportiva Testarossa
On a related note, I was also able to try out my Testarossas for the first time after a resole. I've got to say, the guys at Rock and Resole really did a great job with these and I'd recommend them 100%. The down turned toe is back in full effect (much better than before the resole) and they seem almost as good as new. What's more, I had a two day turn around for the resole, dropped off Monday afternoon and picked up Wednesday afternoon. These are the original Testarossas from summer of 2003 (7 years!) and this is the first time I've had to resole them. I figure since I didn't climb much at all during some of that time and much more heavily at other times I may have averaged around 1 climbing session per week. That's well over 300 climbing sessions with only one other pair of shoes to use! Needless to say, either I have incredibly precise footwork (well, decently precise) or these shoes are seriously built to last (undeniably). Definitely the best pair I've ever climbed in.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Quick Update

The weather in Boulder has definitely been warming up as we've had several days of near 90 degree temps over the past couple weeks. As the temps go up, my motivation for climbing typically goes down. On the other hand, I'm pretty psyched on hiking and trail running right now.

My route (traced in black)
So far this year I've only been out hiking a few times, but I got out for a nice long hike/run last Sunday. Parked at NCAR and headed up the trail at 12:03 with the intention of hitting Bear Peak and South Boulder Peak. The shortest route to Bear Peak is about 2.8 miles and ~2800 vertical feet via Fern Canyon. I opted for the Bear Canyon trail which loops around the peak to the west ridge and adds quite a bit of distance. The trail up the canyon was pleasant and surprisingly vacant. The stream which often runs along the path adds a nice soundtrack to the hike and the trail would be almost completely runnable for someone in better shape (maybe later in the season for me). Near the top of Bear Canyon, the Green-Bear trail branches off toward Green Mtn and I thought about hitting up Green Mtn too, but passed on that. This would turn out to be a good choice. Eventually I hit the crowded summit of Bear Peak and then headed the .7 miles over to the less crowded S Boulder Pk. You have three different descent options from S Boulder peak to get back to NCAR: down Fern Canyon (3.5 miles), down Bear Canyon (5.4 miles) or down Shadow Canyon and north on the Mesa trail (5.0 miles). I opted for Shadow Canyon to make a nice loop.

The downhill went quickly and I ran most of the flat sections of the Mesa trail to be back at the car at 3:35. I was pretty exhausted by that point and the last 1/2 mile or so was painful and slow, but all in all this is one of my favorite routes to hike in the Flatirons area. I'll definitely do this again once I'm in better shape. Stats: 10.5 miles, ~3500' (?) of climbing, 3 hours 32 minutes.

Alpine trails should be coming into season soon and I can wait to get up high and do some runs up in The Park. I particularly want to do Flattop, Hallett and Owens Peak plus a run/fast hike to the boulder field of Longs Peak. I also want to do a fast ascent of Longs Peak a bit later in the season (August maybe). Can't wait.

Nothing really new on the climbing front. I've pretty much decided to get some new shoes since I haven't bought new climbing shoes in 7 (!) years. It's just hard to cough up the $100-$150 for it. I'm planning on going with the La Sportiva Solutions since the fit is excellent. I'm a little concerned about the durability of the velcro and straps so if anyone has comments on that I'd love to hear them.

Finally, there's a bouldering World Cup event this weekend in Vail. Unfortunately I'll be at my brother's wedding so I won't be able to attend. I'm sure it will be a great event though. Good luck to all the USA climbers!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Favorite Photos

I decided it would be cool to post a bunch of my favorite pictures I've taken over the past ~6 years. Nothing too spectacular, and all taken with my Canon Digital ELPH, but I'm definitely proud of some of them and they're all good shots. FYI, clicking on the images will bring up a larger image (necessary for the panoramas).

The first image is from Rib Mountain State Park in Wisconsin. I spent a Fall day in 2003 bouldering there (before bouldering was banned, effective this year due to State Natural Area designation). The climbing was pretty good and a lot of fun, but the fall colors were spectacular. The following shot was take from the top of the observation tower and stitched together from two different exposures (1 for the sky and 1 for the land) to create the relatively high dynamic range.

This image was taken in the fall of 2005 near Vilas Park in Madison, WI. Believe it or not, I did NO editing on this photo other than cropping. The colors and light are all natural. I really like the density of leaves and consistency of the leaves' color.

The next two photos are from an evening at the Memorial Union Terrace in Madison, WI. The terrace is at the UW Memorial Union right on lake Mendota and is a great place to spend a summer evening. They often have live music or free movies on a projection screen. Plus it's one of the only (if not the only) student unions to serve beer (union members only). If you ever visit Madison, check it out. The second pic is definitely one of my favorites. It would be hard to take a bad photo of that sunset, but the scene brings back a lot of good memories too.

Next up is a panorama of the Monona Terrace, a neat Frank Lloyd Wright designed convention center in Madison. The shot was stitched together from about 6 individual shots.

Next: Camp Randall Stadium. Badger football game. Stiched together from 8 or 9 photos.

The next two are from the backyard of the house on Orchard St. I lived in for 2 years in Madison. It may be an overused effect, but I think the shallow depth of field in these two is really cool. The caterpillar came out especially nicely.

Taken while camping at Green Valley near Devils Lake State Park, WI. I was guiding a family for a weekend of climbing at Devils Lake (for the gym I started climbing at, Adventure Rock) and was treated to this awesome sunset after the first day.

Storm clouds over Madison near sunset

The final two pics from Madison are longer exposures from a rainy evening. Both were taken along University avenue and I really like the play of the lights on the wet pavement and rain drops in the second photo. I think the it really captures the feeling of walking home in the cool, post rain night after a very long day on campus.

The final 3 images are from CO. I decided not to delve too far into the Colorado pictures I have since I probably have about 50 equally good shots of mountains and scenery. Not that that's bad, but here's what you get. First, some summer alpine flowers blooming in the tundra above treeline in RMNP.

A great view of Longs Peak and Mt. Meeker from the Longs Peak trail. Where have you seen this shot before?

Finally, a shot of Cody from his visit to CO a couple summers ago. Cool sun glint off his lens. I can't decide if this shot would be better or worse if it were just pure blue sky without the clouds.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think. It's hard to choose a favorite, but I think I like the second sunset pic from the Union Terrace and the second rainy night in Madison pic best. Which is your favorite?

Monday, May 24, 2010

New Blog Layout

I finally decided to update my blog layout (as you can see if you're reading this). Blogger has some (relatively) new templates available if you log in via so I picked one of those that looked pretty good and then added my own images for the banner and background and made a few other tweeks to the html/css. I think it looks pretty good, especially compared to the old layout:

Old blog layout

If anyone is having trouble viewing the new layout (eg. stuff doesn't look right) let me know what browser you're using and what the issue is and I'll try to get it fixed.

Not much else is new here. I've been really busy the past week or so and I haven't had much of a chance to get outside for anything exciting. Just a short hike/run up Mt. Sanitas last week which turned into taking cover from a hail storm. I think I'm going to put together a post with some of my favorite photographs I've taken over the last six or seven years so that should be up sometime in the next couple days.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sport climbing at Shelf Road

Last weekend I had planned to head up to the 420 Boulders in Poudre Canyon for a couple days of bouldering, but 18" of snow in the canyon forced a change of plans. I suggested we head south for some sport climbing at Shelf Road (one of Colorado's warmest and sunniest climbing destinations). In short order we had a crew of four rounded up. Unfortunately that means I didn't take any climbing action shots since I was either climbing or belaying 90% of the time.

With a destination in place, we thought about heading down on Friday evening, but some strong storms in the area pushed the departure back to Saturday morning. We rolled in around 10:30am, set up camp and headed up to Cactus Cliff.

Cactus Cliff

Cactus Cliff

Despite patchy rain clouds for most of the day, we had great temperatures and only about 20 minutes of light rain. I got on 6 routes from 5.10b to 5.11b and had great day of climbing. Since the area is in the high desert, it's pretty amazing how much the temperature swings between the sun and the shade. Every time the sun went behind a cloud it felt at least a 20 degrees cooler.

Rain over the Dark Side

I think the last route we got on that day was my favorite (Funkdamental, 5.11a/b). Easy climbing on comfortable (and awesome) holds leads to long reaches on good holds and a few crimps near the top. If it wasn't for the indirect and less fun start this would be a four star line. We were one of the last groups to hike out as the sun set.

Brock climbing Funkdamental (5.11b), pic from Matt's camera phone

Campfire and the crescent moon

A few beers, a campfire and a massive amount of pasta was a perfect way to end the day. The clouds even cleared out and we were treated to an incredible view of the stars.

Sunday dawned clear and warm. With the promise of good weather, but hot temperatures we headed back to Cactus Cliff to catch the morning shade. Eventually things moved into the sun and it got too hot to climb (although the masses were still trying). The limestone may as well be a giant solar oven and I felt like I was on the menu.

The Dark Side with the Sangre de Cristo range as a backdrop.
Some tents are visible in The Bank campground which sits atop the cliff

The Sangre de Cristo range in the distance

We quickly decided to head around the corner to The Gym for some more routes and afternoon shade. It's amazing what a difference that made. I soon had a long sleeve shirt on and then my jacket over that. Probably 80-85 in the sun and around 60 in the shade. The rock quality at the gym was very good on the routes we climbed and I wish we had spent more time there. I climbed a stellar 5.9+ called "Ga-stoned Again" which was a lot of fun with easy pulls on big holds up a slightly overhanging wall.

The view as you round the bend toward The Gym, not bad

All in all, it was a great weekend and a lot of fun. There are so many quality routes there and I'd love to go back and get on some harder stuff too. I wouldn't compare this to a world class area like the Red River Gorge, but it's definitely worth a visit. The access is easy, the camping is $4/night, the views are stellar and there's a lot of good rock out there.

The final hike out