Desert Weekend + Ancient Art

1015-indiancreek-0004 My girlfriend had never been to the desert near Moab, a mecca of crack climbing. So, along with Vincent, we make the 7 hour drive on a Friday night to get to Indian Creek. We drive in under a clear night sky filled with an almost full moon and a multitude of crisp, bright stars, arriving just before 1am. We find our campsite, and get some sleep. I’m excited to get up early to get as much climbing as we can in.

I wake up to see the alpenglow on the Bridger Jacks and the Six Shooters. Sometimes, it’s hard to get out of my tent early enough to catch these things, but when I do I’m always glad that I did.

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We go to check out Pistol Whipped, an area I’d never been to, down Beef Basin Road. A pretty quick approach gets us to the base of the climbs with only a few other climbers at the crag. We “warm up” on the 5.10 Cowgirls Like ’em Big. One hell of a warm up! I forgot that #5’s are perfect butterflies and teacups, and I wished that I’d had two #6’s for the top.

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Melissa channeling her inner Pippy Longstocking

We then climbed Wounded Knee (5.10+) and Coyne Crack Simulator (5.11-). I forgot to use the left crack and fell in the .75 size crux of Wounded Knee. After you find #1’s and #2’s, you find yourself in a super weird wide pod that’s best protected with a #5 (which I didn’t have). I don’t know that there is a smooth way to do that section, but I definitely understand why it’s named Wounded Knee.

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Vincent sending Wounded Knee the hard way, without the left crack. 

Coyne Crack Simulator starts with a .5 and .75 lieback to progressively bigger, perfect hands, with a short finish. I was excited to on-sight this one, and it was the only thing I sent all day.

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Vincent making the lieback look easy

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The fall colors were on point that weekend. The desert is always beautiful, but this is extra special

Vincent really wanted to climb a tower while we were out there. I was resistant, I wanted more crack cragging, but time-wise it made sense. We drove in the morning into Moab, got breakfast and slowly made our way to Fisher Towers. After a 4×4 detour down Onion Creek, we made it to the parking lot, left the crowds behind, and found ourselves at the base of Ancient Art (5.10)

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View of Ancient Art, the corkscrew tower on the right. 

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There was only one party ahead of us, which I think is rare. Another party arrived a few minutes after we did. Since Vincent had led all the pitches on another trip, I led pitch 1-3. Pitch one starts with an easy scramble to a 4 bolt bolt-ladder that goes free at 5.10 (hard). It’s incredibly balancy and tenious and requires good footwork.

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Melissa climbing the crux of pitch 1

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Melissa belaying Vincent up with the Titan in the background

Pitch two was an incredibly fun section with several roofs and decent gear up to a chimney. I probably could have protected the chimney, but by the time I realized I was pretty far above my last piece the options were pretty slim. I ran it out till just before the anchor ledge.

Pitch 3 is a super short, stout 5.10 (or 3 bolt bolt-ladder) that you climb pinching tiny pebbles. The exposure starts to get to you here.1016-indiancreek-04121016-indiancreek-0432

Melissa and Vincent preparing to climb the money pitch! 

I made Vincent lead the money pitch again because I wanted a photo of him on it. Definitely worth it.

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Vincent attempting to show how windy it was…it was windy! 

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The run across the spine is pretty intimidating, with a several hundred foot drop on either side. You have to jump across one section before coming to the awkward diving board.

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A 30+ stitched image panorama of Vincent topping out. This image is HUGE!  

1016-indiancreek-0636Vincent missed my jump, but got the awkward, manditory hump of the diving board. 

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Now watch Vincent Whip…right before he Nay Nays.

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Melissa takes in the view on our double rope simul-rap from the top of pitch 2

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What she’s looking at

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The whole time we were on the route there was a team climbing the Titan. Was pretty cool watching their progress. When we got down, I realized that in the confusion of trying to get Melissa onto the simul-rap and sharing an anchor with another team, I left all of my cams attached to the anchor. So, we got to wait. It wasn’t all bad, though. We got to watch an incredible sunset.

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Melissa finds a boulder to play on

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The view of Castle Valley at twilight from the Fishers Tower parking lot. 

The desert will always hold a part of my heart. It is such an incredibly beautiful place! I just wish it wasn’t a six or seven hour drive. Can’t wait to go back!

Riding the Monarch Crest Trail

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Sunrise on Mt Silverheels

A couple weekends ago I woke up well before sunrise and drove my friend Vincent into the mountains. We were supposed to meet up with some other friends in Crested Butte, but when we got to Buena Vista, the other side of the mountains looked completely socked in. We checked the weather and CB was supposed to have rain and snow all day. BV had a better outlook so we looked for some mountain bike trails nearby. We found the Monarch Crest Trail was the highest rated ride in the area so we decided to check it out. We met the Valley High Shuttle in Poncha Springs and were delivered to Monarch Pass. The pass was covered in an inch or so of snow, with no breaks in the clouds in sight. We started up the trail, leap frogging with most of the group from the shuttle all the way to Marshall Pass, 8 miles of uphill. Once the downhill starts the group fans out and we’re mostly on our own. The snow definitely added a bit to the riding, making me stay on my disk brakes a little too much.

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But, it was beyond beautiful.

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Once we dropped into the trees, the snow went away and the leaves littered the trail.

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The trail continues for 30 miles, joining the Colorado Trail for portions of it. You climb for close to 2,000 feet for 8 miles from the pass, then get to descend 6,000 feet over the next 22 miles. The trail varies quite a bit, from flowing single track to incredible rock gardens. There are several cut offs if you need to bail, they take you down forest service roads back to the highway. We stuck it out and took the last bit of trail, Rainbow Trail, my favorite part. Most of the people turned off before this section, but it’s not to be missed. After you descend the steep last 1/2 mile down to the road you get to cruise 5 miles down US285, which brings you right back to your car.

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Beautiful spot on the Arkansas River next to our campsite north of Buena Vista

I just started mountain biking last summer. It’s been fun learning a new sport, but it also a steep learning curve. The Monarch Crest Trail is definitely my favorite trail that I’ve done. Can’t wait to explore more of the trails around the central Colorado mountains.

A Boulder for Travelers

I often get stuck in a mental state with my photography where I rarely capture the place that I live. It’s been a bit different with Boulder, because beauty is all around me, but I still haven’t looked at Boulder like a tourist might. I recently received a prompt to shoot Boulder for a higher end travel magazine. It was interesting trying to see it in a different light. Where are your favorite places in Boulder?

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Boulder Public Library

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St Julien Hotel

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0916-boulder-0031Alpine Modern

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0921-boulder-0025 0922-boulder-0106The Flatirons on a moody morning.

The Road to Wild Iris

Over Labor Day weekend, I went with a group of friends to climb limestone pockets in Wild Iris, Wyoming. It was great fun…and I didn’t take any photos of climbing. But I did shoot the Landscapes leading to and surrounding the climbing area. Needless to say, it was beautiful!

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The sunset outside of Frederick, CO was pretty awesome

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I took this with a $30 lens. I’m continually impressed by the Fotasy 35mm f1.7. (If you have a sony, you should probably buy it)

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These two were also shot with the Fotasy 35mm F1.7. This was our campsite in Wild Iris, with the Wind River Range in the background.

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Danielle not modeling, just doing Danielle things.

Danielle and Tyler had the better tent spot for photos. My tent had a more treed backdrop.

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That night had one of the brightest Milky Ways I’ve ever seen. And there were some meteors that night too. Much better show than during the “climax” of the Perseid Meteor Shower.

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I found another solo tree that I love.

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Can you guess what this canyon is called? It’s Red Canyon. Because it’s red.

 

Product Shoot with Beal Rope

A couple weeks ago I bought a new 70m climbing rope, a Beal Stinger 9.4mm Unicore, and I decided to do a product shoot with it…because. I had an idea of what I wanted to create, and it came out pretty solidly like I was imagining, with the help of a friend flipping the rope while I shot.

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I’ve been using the rope now for a bit and I’m loving it. I was nervous getting such a narrow gauge rope, but my anxiousness has passed. It’s definitely not a beginner’s rope; it takes more care when you’re belaying and rappelling. But what it offers is a rope that offers little drag when climbing trad routes that dance all over a face, smooth belaying and rappelling, a strong middle marker, and 70m length to get you back to the ground in fewer rappels, all in a lightweight, robust package. I’m a fan.

Last Stop: New York City

My final stop on my month long trip to Southeast Asia was to see friends in New York City. Somehow, even after living in Boulder for 4 years, I feel like I almost have more friends in NYC than anywhere else. It’s always great to visit (though, for the first time, it really made me quite sure I never wanted to live there).

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My good friend and photographer, Luis Carducci

I stayed with my best friend from college, Melissa, and her husband Jeremiah, who also studied photography at my university, Indiana Wesleyan University. He’s a fashion photographer in the city and it’s always inspiring to see his work (check it out. Jeremiah Wilson). It’s also entertaining to watch him skateboard in style.

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Jeremiah just bought a new Hasselblad 50C 50mp back that attaches to his antique Hasselblad body. So we went on a photo walk around Astoria.

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After a month of travel, I was excited to be back in Boulder. I love that live in a place I’m excited to return to. Wouldn’t have it any other way.