New blog post! A few word from the road and El Paso!
Check it out on the flashed site
New blog post! A few word from the road and El Paso!
Check it out on the flashed site
Does every climbing community have that group of people that just want to indirectly “ruin it for the rest of us”?
In my recent travels and in my current location i have been exposed to such groups of people, somehow they see that their way is the best way and use the term “ethics” to disguise what’s really going on … that there is some distain for people that don’t necessarily fit into “their groups”.
A little vague, I know, but without naming names and areas I feel like I have something to say. I haven’t been climbing long, but what I feel about the sport is that we are all connected. Plastic climbers, boulderers, sport climbers, trad climbers, alpine climbers, mixed climbers, ice climbers etc… We all share a love / passion / dedication to the sport in our sub-disciplines. And, you know what, I have no beef’s with climbers in sub-disciplines that I don’t partake in. I truly think it’ll take the entire community to move the sport forward and that we all work together to contribute to that happening.
I’ve seen a tremendous coming-together in Canada over the sport of climbing, there are lots of events, there are competitive teams, and there are awards and scholarships given out to outstanding individuals who have the dedication to make their climbing dreams come to life. This is a whole community. No one group should be able to take it upon themselves to stop others from doing the sport they love
As our season is coming in, all the best to those excited to get out and climb some rock!!
Or should i say, Yuma, San Diego and Mexico!!
I took 10 days away from Hueco, to spend Christmas with my Mom in Yuma, do some shopping in San Diego and visit some old friends in Mexico.
My friends Geoff and Deanna Bray recently had their frst baby and i was super excited to meet him!!
Meet Eddie, the cutest baby around!!
Sadly i don’t have any pics of Mamma and Eddie :(
My mom and i traveled to Mexico to spend a couple days relaxing on the ranch visiting with Geoff and Dee, it was super nice to see them and meet Eddie …. we planned their next climbing trip to Bishop to come meet us in the new year!!!
Mom and i spent some time shopping in San Diego and chilling in Yuma before we both drove back to El Paso. Mom was going to spend two days there with us (Josh, Alex and myself) .. one day we would all go to Carlsbad caverns and the next she would come climbing (watching) with us. We soon realized that there would be no way in hell she would get into North so we ditch part two of our plan …
Here’s a couple pics from Carlsbad caverns! Very cool rest day activity!!
Jan 1 2012 in the evening we picked up the first of two guests joining us in Hueco, Zak McGurk!!
This leads to part III of Hueco ….
Since my last blog post I read a comment posted by a good friend that went something like “ please bloggers rather than outlining your daily itinerary please post something useful and insightful in your blogs”. So, I will take this advice and start this post off with a section I’m going to call “logistics”. So if you are familiar with Hueco logistics just skip this section :)
It’s actually fitting to describe some of the logistics surrounding our time in hueco, and I hope it can shed some light for those who plan to go.
El paso is a relatively large city, no I take that back, it’s a huge city with relatively little to do … no hard feelings I hope ;) It’s got everything you need, coffee (starbucks), Walmart and groceries. Actually, the Vista Mercado grocery store is pretty badass, you can get fresh tortillas, pastries and a total random assortment of good food (I say random because for 4 months I had been endlessly searching for Spitz brand pumpkin seeds and I found them at the Vista!). You can grab a pretty good burger and pint at Torro Burger on Zaragoza (warning: service is slow here, but beer selection is good and so is the food so it’s worth it). If you need something closer you can grab some burritos at the local confectionary / restaurant behind the Vista. It’s cheap and they have cane sugar coke!
But if you are a total hard-core, you really don’t have to go into town if you don’t want to. There is internet available at the park and the vista is just out of town (close to the park).
We stayed at the Hueco Tanks state park campground, which I highly recommend. The sites are huge and the picnic tables are covered. There was shelter from the wind with the big rocks around, and the best part, the washrooms are super-heated and the shower is amazing!! Some logistics about this place …
You will like buy a year park pass which was ~$80.00. It gets you into the park daily to climbing for free and it also gets you some discounts on nights of camping. Each night was $16.00 but that got us water and electricity and since there were four of us staying there is really broke down to be pretty cheap. Another logistic is the curfew. You have to be back in the park by 6pm. So, no late night burritos. We really didn’t mind this part of it honestly we were pretty much ready for bed just after 6 ;)
You can also stay at the Rock Ranch located just outside the park. Camping was $7 per person and showers are at a minimum but it seemed like a nice chill place to hang out. There’s a big barn to hang out in and there’s internet and also a lot of climbers staying there. The only down side is during busy season if you don’t have reservations to climb you can’t even come past the park gate, you line up in your car until the park officer gets word that he can let some in … some people would be waiting all day. Some would never get in. Some would park outside the gate and sleep on their crash pads in the ditch so that they would be the first in line the next day!
There are also some relatively close motels and hotels at a decent price.
Reservations / climbing
I’m sure everyone knows that you need reservations to climb at hueco. Some people complain about this, but really it’s to protect the area and I didn’t feel at all like I was restricted in any way by the rules of the park; if you can’t deal with rules, don’t go. Bscially they reserve 60 spots on North Mountain and let 10 extra people in a day. Those staying in the park campground have first dibs on those 10 spots.
In early October we called the park to make reservations and we only got two climbing days out of a month and a half (from Dec 4 – Jan 15th) we accepted that fact and decided to wing-it with climbing, ie. We would stand in line early in the morning to try and get in. We did however get camping reservations for the entire time we were there, but, one person can only reserve for three days, so Alex would book three days then Josh would book three days then Alex again then Josh and so on for a month and a half. And yes, you do have to go check in every three days but you should be able to keep the same site, at least we did. What I would recommend is to try calling back for climbing reservations. Some friends of ours said they called the park every couple days and each time another day would open up for climbing (someone had cancelled) and they ended up booking a month straight! So be persistent and you should be able to get resos :)
If you don’t have resos (like us) then you have a couple options ….
In early December when it’s not super busy you should be able to go to the park office and get in relatively easy before 9-10 am. If you did end up on the waiting list what happens is those that had reservations if they don’t show up then they will give their spots away to those waiting. So if you have resos you need to show up before 10am! When it did start to get busy (around Christmas break) we were getting up at 6am and going directly to the park office to “get in line”. It’s really an honor system thing, first car that gets there gets first dibs. You can’t just send one person to sign up for the group, each member has to be there, plus the park people need to see everyone’s cards. This brings me to the certification thing. You have to watch a 15 min vid to go into Hueco tanks park; no one can even pass the office without seeing the video; we learnt this the hard way when we had someone fly in late and we brought them back to the campsite that night and the next morning they were not psyched that he was there at all! They said he should have stayed outside the park that night.
There are three other mountains that make up the park, east spur, west and east. To visit these other three mountains you need to go on a guided tour. There are two types of tours, volunteer and paid. There are pros and cons to both. Paid tours cost money, but you can book a guide and have them take you to exactly where you want to go. We never went on a paid tour but I never heard anything bad about them save for the fact that they do cost ~$10 – 20 per person / day. The volunteer tours are done by guides who are volunteering their time to take you out climbing, very cool! How this worked in our experience is that we knew a volunteer tour guide. We would plan with him to go out on a certain day and then he would call the park office and book a tour in our names. He would put me +4 and Josh +4 to equal 10 total (the max number of people on a tour). Josh and I then could bring anyone we wanted to a max of ten people, and even if it was just the two of us that would be ok (more on this point later). Because Josh and I had our names down that meant we were the ‘primaries’ and we decided where we wanted to go (and the group would have to go along with us weather they wanted to get on those climbs or not) and the group can not break up, it has to stay together. This is a non issue if you are a group of friends who want to go check out the same things, but it can be suckie if you get on a volunteer tour that goes to a V14 for the entire day and that’s it! If you don’t get into the park on a regular climbing day you can sometime get in on a volunteer tour (if there are open spots the office might fill them with random people waiting to go out). This is fine, but this is also where you run into maybe not getting out to the places you want. We had an awesome experience with our friend / volunteer guide, he was super accommodating and psyched to be out at the rocks. Volunteer guides are not allowed to climb or give beta and two groups can’t be at the same boulder at the same time. I definitely appreciate Antonio for taking his time to take us out!!
Wow, that pretty much sums up the logistics … I’m sure there are things that I’m forgetting but most of it is here as a resource for those wanting to travel to Hueco.
Alex, Stacey, Josh and I arrive in hueco full of psyche!!
We started climbing two days on, one day off but soon realized we needed to climb day on day off as we were feeling spent! The rock was really different from what we had been climbing. At first it felt like there was no texture, but within a couple days, after getting a feel for the rock, it really started to feel good! The movement was gymnastic and we were really feeling the burn in the core!
Early on we were all hitting personal bests! I had climbed my first V8 (Mc. Bain) on the second day. Josh was crushing double-digit problems like it was his job and Stacey had done Fern roof (V9).
Here’s the link to a vid of our time there!
In the first couple weeks there the park was very quiet. Some friends from Calgary were also there, Krystal Chin, Mark Fraser and Sam Fischer. We spent a lot of time climbing with them. It was also on the cool side (not good for me as I am a fair weather climber). Us girls would hang out in the washroom in the am drinking our coffee, visiting and keeping warm. We spent most of our time on North Mountain. We didn’t want to get too tied into things (projects) on the other mountains so we pretty much stayed on North and for the first part of the trip didn’t have any troubles getting in. Days consisted of wandering around north hitting the classics or projects or resting in town at the starbucks, Vista or Torro :) The four of us had an amazing, fun time in Hueco! We all loved it and were super motivated to climb :)Here are some pics of some of the classics.
Sadly, Team noon-to-four’s time was coming to an end near Christmas. Stacey was heading back to Calgary :( I was about to take 10 days to go see my mom in Yuma. And, the boys, they were left alone at the tanks.
Part II coming up soon!!!
Little rock city, horse pens 40 and horseshoe canyon ranch!
You’ll have to catch this part of the story on the flashed web site!
We spent almost two months in the Red River Gorge, KY. We climbed a ton, met up with a bunch of friends from back home and had an amazing time. The climbing in the gorge was / is phenomenal! I’ll try and tell the stories of this leg of the journey with a lot of photos :)
The whole idea of this trip started with going to the Red, everything else just fell into place around it. I had been there before in 2009, but Josh had never been. And on this leg of our trip we were going to meet up with two friends from Calgary, Stacey Weldon and Alex Quiring.
Josh and I arrived early October with a few climbing days to spare before heading to Rock Town (bouldering destination near Chattanooga TN). We had one amazing and long day in Rock Town shooting (taking photos) with Tomas Donoso for Outdoor Research. Such a fun day!! Ronnie Jenkins, Josh and I climbed our hearts out … we spent ~15 hours up there!! We finished the day off at The Terminal for some home brew and probably the most delicious burger I have ever had!!! Thanks Tomas and Teresa for a great day!!!
We were sort of rushed in Rock Town, we may have stayed if we didn’t have to get back to the Red to participate in Rocktoberfest, an outdoor climbing event. I was to teach a clinic, intro to sport climbing :) The day of the clinic was so much fun!! I had a range of people, some had climbed before, some had only climbed inside before and some had never climbed at all. It was great to help them learn the basics of sport climbing and even watching some clip draws on lead for their first time! I would happily come back to rocktoberfest and do it all again! The event was so well planned and organized!! Thanks to all who participated and the RRGCC (Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition) for putting it all together!!
During the event our friend Alex Quiring showed up in the Red!! We were super psyched to see him; he was going to be with us now until mid January! Shortly thereafter Stacey Weldon showed up from Kingston Ontario and Pete Woods came down for a visit from Calgary! Let the climbing begin!!!
The five of us had such a blast down there together! In the mornings we drank a lot of coffee, prepped for the day and were off by mid-morning (this is how we got the nick-name “team noon to four”) The days were filled with climbing, of course. We visited many different areas, almost something new each day. We had great temps and sweet sends :)
Every morning as we drove out of the campsite Pete would yell, “Pumped up Kicks, Pumped up kicks” and so we’d listen to it daily on the drives. We’d be home around 5pm in time for Alex to play his ukulele and Pete to serenade (free style bluegrass) Simon, Jamie, Tanya, Danny and Eva back from the cliff… they loved it! We called them team hardcore because they would leave the site way before us and get back way after us … somehow I think we still got more laps in ;)
We also spent a lot of time with our friends Alli Rainey and Kevin Wilkinson. It’s very inspiring to watch those two climb! Kevin was a bolting machine, and Alli a projecting machine! Can’t wait to see them (and Jedi) again!
It’s hard to write about our time in the red … we really didn’t do much other than climb, eat, sleep and rest :) Here are some photos of the amazing place and people we spent our time with.
Here’s a link to a video Josh and I made for Verticulture, a community page on the Outdoor Research site.
Next up… Pebble wrestling …..
Thunder Bay – Toronto
Josh’s sister Nicole was getting married early September so we made sure to be in Toronto for the week of the wedding. Nicole and her husband Jeff are incredibly welcoming, fun, enthusiastic people. Their wedding was so beautiful and so much fun! They were even partaking in a reality TV show called four weddings, where the brides judge each others weddings … you would think that may add a touch of stress to the situation, but not for those two, they ate it up and everyone had a blast!!
We had heard so many great things about Lion’s Head we had to go check it out (since we had the time). We drove out there to meet Mark Smith and friends and spent an awesome day out there with them climbing. What a beautiful place!! The logistics are something to be desired, but I would definitely suggest going if you’ve never been, even if it’s just to spend some time in the quaint little town.
Toronto – Ottawa
Well we stopped in Toronto for some family time, so why not Ottawa too (not that we didn’t want to). Actually, it was good timing since my dad had heart surgery early Sept. He’d be home recovering. My younger brother even came down for the week we were there. We ate a lot of dinners out, spent some couch time with my Dad and visited with the Kennedy and Motsi families. It was great to see them and show off our new “home” before our long trip :)
USA here we come!
Ottawa – Rumney
We really didn’t know what to expect of the border crossing “how long will you be gone”, “at least 6 months” we reply, “do you have jobs” they ask … “nope” we reply. And so they look through the van, but there’s nothing to hide and they let us through!
First US stop, Rumney NH. We didn’t have a lot of time but we had heard a lot of good things of this classic sport climbing area, so why not stay for a few days. It didn’t disappoint! And as it stands, this would probably be the first place we’d go back to if we have the chance!! Phenomenal routes, a variety of climbing styles, and good sessions with old friends. Thanks for a great day out there Anne Skidmore Russell!
Rumney was not the easiest place for us to “camp”: it’s our fault really for putting zero effort into looking for camping. We stayed in the Walmart parking lot for 6 nights. This would be the first of many many nights at Walmart (insert glamorous lifestyle here). At least most of the US locations are open 24hours and we can therefore have access to the facilities ;) Nonetheless, Plymouth NH was a great little town to spend time in; we would definitely do it again!
We did pop out of NH to VT overnight to see some east coast Canadian friends compete in the Nor Easter event in Burlington VT. What a beautiful city! Too bad the rain put a damper (literally) on semifinals … however it was cool to see everyone advance and compete in a super final!
Next stop, the Red River Gorge (to be continued…)