Monday 28 May 2018

The New Year

It's almost June but the year feels like it's just begining...

In January I journeyed to Cuba for some of the climbing... All my apprehensions about travelling to this place were completly unfounded.  Though finding Gummi Bears or good cheese is next to impossible outside the all inclusives, the vibe in this houldout from a bygone era was as positive as a Jimmy Cliff show.   Cuba is special indeed, the countryside and the countryfolk were accommodating, ingratiating and beautiful.

 Tufas and wild exposure defined the climbing, which, contrary to popular belief, is not illegal.

Traveling to Cuba was a clinic in gratitude, the pace of life here can often stand still...

    Lots of standing in line to get bread, or any other necessities we take for granted.

          It's a bit tougher in these parts...

                                                                Muy Rustico!

                                                But how about that rockstone!

                                                                   Or this cave!

                                               The skies were righteous too

Everywhere you go, people love Che.  His effigy is ubiquitous, whereas, Fidel's is notably absent.  What kind of a dictator forbids his image from being plastered all over the place like some cult leader?  Castro, that's who.  It's hard to deny the stunted socio/political dénoument of the last half century, but Cuba's sultry soul still seems to permeate daily life and imbue this land with a touch of magic found nowhere else I've been.

As if on Pavlovian cue, Colombia was on again, unfinished business is a real buzzkill.   When I hear "failure is the first try" or "failing is part of the process," I cringe.  Failing at climbing stems from a lack of preparedness or unjustifiably hazardous conditions.  Either way, returning to finish the job seems the best option.   Armed with new recruit, Dave Alfrey, Kieran and I returned to the Cerros de Mavecure to get 'er done.

 The climbing was as fun as we remembered.  Big runouts and 50 degree heat proved to be the crux.

                                   This was the result - Jungle mania, both physical and spiritual.

This was also the result, a mad new line up Cerro Pajarito completed in the wake of last years' defeat.

Soonafter our return from the Jungle, we got the news that Marc-André was missing in the Mendenhal Towers so we punched it up there only to be greeted by snow and more snow.  Eventually, we got out and spoted the location where Marc and Ryan paused for the final time...

                              The sadness of loosing such a precious human is a heavy as it gets...

                      Marc, you were the sweetest of spirits and fierce like an Alpine Ninja Cat

                                             Do not go gentle into that good night my friends

Wednesday 20 December 2017

Viva Mexico Cabrones!

Not a lot of places bring the Buena Vibras like Mexico.  With a glaring lack of regulations, this still developing nation has plenty to teach us about good living and having fun, even if it's only Tuesday.

Portrero Chico is gifted with an abundance of quality limestone which developers have bristled into submission allowing for a true placer experience.  Don't be fooled, loose rocks, infantile climbers and tepid decision making could have you involved in a near miss or worse, faster than you can say Andale!

                                                   Kirk and Stef enjoying Yankee Clipper

Stocking up with my truck,  note the fixed Rosary on the rearview.  Guaranteed to prevent speeding tickets and rollovers.

Johnathan from La Belle Province sampling stupendous stone on the Outrage Wall

I took to solo climbing with a rope on the well equipped multipitch routes, it's always nice to learn something new.

                                               Good positions, mediocre company

Sadly, climbing alone caused a mild case of Selfie-itis...

                                                        Look at me! I'm rockclimbing!

                                                           Spot the tiny climbers up left

It wasn't all lonesome days in the Portrero, I got to session with some sweet folks, old friends and new.

                                       With Kirk at the Fitness Cave

                                         Simon amidst mystic conditions

                                          Clipping chains at the Surf Bowl

Look very carefully for Sunny and Paul abing off Time Wave Zero

                           Few days would end without a stern talking to from El Cabrito.

                                                      Or Rico Tacos!

Elotes! Imagine taking a perfectly good char grilled corn cob, then brushing on some of that orange liquid cheese you find at 7-11.  Next, you mount the unsuspecting Maiz with Mayo, chilies and crumbled goat's cheese. Enjoy!

 Folks live a bit more ruggedly than we do in Squamish.  But happiness in these parts seems contagious.

                                           Fixed taco trailer with satellite dish, check.  Rubber.... nah.

These Mexican Pitons were a real highlight!  Much like the Cathedral Spires in Yosemite, Mexican pioneers climbed the Agujas well before the big walls.  These relics are from a 1962 ascent of this lovely tower.

                              Paul, a pioneer in his own right, keeps it new school


                                                      Cynthia dancing in the light

                                                  A wee bit of potential nearby

                                                     Muy Amable Mexico!

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!