Monday, 12 December 2016

De gustibus non disputandum

Preferences vary wildly for more than just food, but when it comes to sampling earthly delights, it's hard not to be a glutton.

First up on this fall's flavor of the month was the coarse ground stone of Joshua Tree.  I took advantage of a friend's nearby wedding to sample a few dozen pitches at this most delectable desert buffet.

Climbing without a guidebook or partner had some drawbacks but the bite of crusty granite is always worth a nosh.

I met some new friends that complimented the cosmic vibe of this forlorn outlier of suburban LA

Next stop Bali: an organic fruity delight!

It was great to catch up with friends and loved ones in this far flung tropical sweathouse

                                                    The Sky Surfing was scrumptious!

Bukit has the most amazing winds, consistent enough to fly for hours - strong enough to make the top landings a spectator sport.

                              Ganesha! Balinese people love this happy Elephant man, me too!

                                             Helen on the lookout in Nusa Lembongan

                              Random street man with a spiritual snack wrapped in Banana Leaf

Snorkeling with the Manta Rays at this beautiful rock arch - just a bit on the razory side for climbing

 Next stop Thailand!!!  This place has some of the most exotique flavor profiles on the planet.    The climbing is ok too.

Thais make the yummiest food. What's there not to like about rotting fish or pork with paper?

                                             There are a lot of unexplainable rules though.

                            This one is not open to debate: perfect orange slopers and pockets

                                                                      Mouthwatering, no?

 Ao Nang Tower with Robin and John.   John proving just how polyvalent his Alpha pack is.  A maritime, multipitch, Camera bag


                                One of my favorite partners bringing in the catch of the day

                                      Tony earning his Curry on the Heart of Darkness

                                                  You have to earn this dish

                                                    The not unprecedented Stalactite stem

                                                                Steepness guaranteed!

                                 Trina joining us in the cave through the Thaiwand Wall

                     We emerged to Phra Nang Beach and got some knee deep Noodles!

                                                                           A slice of Psicobloc

There are only a few areas on the planet that provide abundant sea towers and tepid waters for climbers to practice Deep Water Soloing.   South Thailand rules this category, holding the densest clutch of these Karst formations found anywhere on earth.   Sadly not all the Towers are open to climbing:  Valuable Swallows nests used to make the infamous Birds Nest Soup are fiercely guarded by Machine gun wielding security guards.  This stew, literally made from mucous that binds the nest together,  is meant to improve potency but maybe some things are best left for the birds.

                                                        The Phalus Temple at Phra Nang - it's really a thing!

                        The Tiger Cave Temple was breathtaking!  Nature plus Religion.

                              Robin on one of the best pitches ever! Pitch 3 Lord of the Thais

                After a day of Climbing few places are better for après than Freedom Bar

Thank you Thailand!

Wednesday, 14 September 2016


After a summer of an immersion in the joys of Squamlandia I loaded up the duffels and hightailed it to one of my favorite parts of the Planet: The Arctic Circle.  Landing in Iceland our posse assembled to take in the flavor of the place.

                                                  Paolo, is always all in...

                                               Vicky: funner than a drunken Monk

                                                    Matt is always ready for more

                                                       Ange is a rabble rouser

                                     Cool as a cucumber, Julian keeps it tight behind the lense

We dined at a traditional Icelandic Restaurant and opened our hearts to embrace this strange new culture.

It wasn't long before Vikki got us kicked out of this building, not all Icelanders are as friendly as Bjørk.
Except maybe this guy: Rasmuss (though he's actually Swedish), First Mate on our passage to Greenland.

And his boss, the stern but psyched Vidar; captain of the good ship Aurora

Sailing across the Denmark Straight took 3 days and it was not only nauseating but moved me to tears when we finally saw land.  As I found out there's no "TAKE" in sailing.

 When we finally got down to the climbing it was really good!  The rock was a mixed bag of quality and the views were so so as well.

Here's Paolo tacking out a 5.11 pitch on the First Ascent of the South West Buttress of Hidden Peak.

Vikki on the proudest lead of the day, somewhere around pitch 12.  Does that crimper, gaston, highstep combo high above a glacial fjord strike you as a gentle romp in the hills?

Anyway, Vikki is badass, but on the second rappele (out of 17) her left rock shoe slipped off like that time Cinderella was in a hurry to leave the Ball.  Needless to say, the route named itself.  Note the sock/athletic tape setup Vicky rocked for 16 more raps plus 300 meters of down-scambling.

Paolo gunning for advanced basecamp which we reached well into the Arctic night.

 Next stop, the unclimbed, unnamed peak in the center of the photo.  Highest summit of the Mythics Cirque at a whopping 1450m above the sea.  We took the obvious ridge left of the hanging pocket glacier.

Getting established on this feature proved tricky but the rest of the ridge was dreamy...

Ange getting after it!

                                                                     Summi slopes

A lot of people could care less if the're first, I care alot, it's my thing.   I don't care so much about being first to the top, but rather, being the first to consider, to try, to see if it's possible. 

The walk off after a bivi on route, day two.  Plenty to do here still...

After the "real" climbing, we managed a few pitches right out of the Fjord.  This spicy number is named "Camperella" after a new Italian word Paolo taught me.       Vikki Weldon Photo

                                         Fun, engaging climbing and good stone.     Vikki Weldon Photo

We departed from the Fjord (named Kangerttitivastiaq - no kidding) after about ten days of sessioning and cruised south 100km to the village of Tasilaq.  The Bergs were a highlight.

The village was a sight for sore eyes and the village people were very sweet.

This guy invited us into his house for coffee, sweets and Whale blubber.  The blubber was as you might expect chewy but nourishing.  It's always nice to see how other humans do it!

One of the highlights of the trip for me was a flight I snuck in about an hour outside Tasilaq.  You can see my wing's shadow at bottom left and our ship, the Aurora, is a speck just left of the mountain shadow at the head of the bay.   The air was magic and I soared out over the Yacht and landed in a meadow just 20 meters from shore.

                Greenland is stacked with potential, I can't wait for another visit!  Thanks team!