|This buck was really intent on watching Beth run. “What is she running from?”|
|Beth, so excited to be running!|
I’ll get around to editing all of my photos from Asia, but right now I’m piecing together through some different shoots I did while there. I don’t shoot with a lot of fashion models, and when I do they’re usually running or doing something active. But when I met Chrissi I knew I had to shoot with her in a little bit more traditional style. Although Chrissi says she’s never modeled, I have a hard time believing her since she was super easy to work with.
I met Chrissi while she was working at the Green Climbers’ Home in Thakhek, Laos (a fantastic climbing area that everyone should make an effort to visit. I’ll have more on GCH later). Originally from Germany, she’s been living and working in SE Asia for a while, working at the resort and getting strong climbing most days in the crazy overhanging limestone cliffs.
The river runs through this cave which provides the climbers with a much needed method of cooling off after getting ridiculously hot climbing in the humid climate. And it sits only about 100 meters from my tent! I shot in this cave the most out of anywhere in Laos.
Chrissi agreed to sit in the cold water and model for me only a few hours before her and I both left GCH. I headed to Cambodia and Chrissi left for Thailand. Enjoy the photos of Chrissi and let me know what you think!
I’m looking forward to this new year; I can’t wait for what new adventures are to come! Hope you’re guys are psyched for 2016 too. Glad I get to share all of this with you!
I did this with my current Accelerant at Madelife , Bryn. I love her excitement for photography and her desire to learn.
Alex Vidal and I finally made a trip out there a few weeks ago. It was great! Perfect weather, great climbs with awesome people.
We pulled into the campsite just before midnight. I slept on a picnic table covered by a small roof, and in the morning I saw a GMC pickup pull up and suspiciously look around. Neil Longfellow found us. He’s been living in his truck wandering around the desert for a few months.
The climbing is similar to, but shorter than, Indian Creek. After spending quite a bit of time struggling up incredibly stout and powerful climbs in Vedauwoo this summer, the desert hand crack style felt so “easy” and precise (for the most part). After a short, but fun warm up we jumped on an offwidth 5.9 called Junk Corner (given one and half stars, but I had so much fun I climbed it twice). I did junk up the skin on my left elbow pretty good.
|Alex squeezes up the chimney on Junk Corner, 5.9|
|Alex prepares to climb TH Crack (5.8) at the Cabin Area|
There’s a lot of vandalism on these walls. People who can’t hit broadside of a barn have to use cliffs as target practice, putting scattered pockets in puzzling locations up the walls. Below TH Crack someone carved a huge “TH”, hence the name. The climb is another awesome warm up.
It was getting hot so we took a break, went back to camp and jumped into the creek. Well, Alex and Neil did. I hate submersing myself in cold water – it was surprisingly cold.
|The evening light from the Interiors area overlooking our camp and a bunch of climbing not listed on Mountain Project.|
|Alex losing his soul.|
One of the best parts of camping in the desert is the incredible star-lit nights. I finally got some photos of the milky way I’m proud of.
|Neil’s homemade rooftop tent silhouetted against the skyline|
We climbed the second day at the Interiors Area again. We warmed up on Unknown I (5.9) which starts out as an overhang roof that you have to pull with offwidth moves, once on top of the roof it goes to extra wide #6 slab crack. Right where it gets desperate you’re able to grab the start of the 5.10+ crack and jump up to a small platform to the bolts.
|Neil Longfellow got this shot of me testing my flexibility. I need to do more yoga. He just missed the really amazingly awkward shot of my head being stuck below the roof.|
From our campsite we were eyeing the Keyhole route, a 5.10a splitter small hands .75 splitter with “keyhole” pods. The movement through the pods is really awesome, and it was really the first indian creek style crack – uses mostly one size cam the majority of the way up – climb I’ve led. Especially in the size that wasn’t just perfect hands the whole way up. Super-tight hands and fingers is all technique, and if you don’t have the technique it’s next to impossible. If you do it can be like climbing a ladder. Dealing with feet on these kinds of routes is probably hardest part. In the crux of this route I was able to lieback through the thinnest section and paste my feet on the slightly uneven crack.
|Alex climbs the brilliant Keyhole route (5.10a) at the Interiors Area|
|The top of the route opens up to perfect hands.|
|Neil Longfellow snapped this photo of me climbing Key Hole.|
The Interiors area is called that because of two routes that are in a cave created by a detached pillar. To get to the routes you pass through Pinball Chimney 5.9+++R. It only has one confirmed send, but didn’t stop Alex from playing around on it.
|Neil Longfellow took this great shot of me on The Shaft|
|“Well, that might hold a wet cat”…tipped out with mud on one side. – Alex Vidal. Photo by Neil Longfellow|
I had definitely never led anything like this. I had to fight my way up 20 feet before I could place my first piece, a tipped out #6, the widest cam. I had to worm up, finding body positions that pinned just the right part of a knee or elbow or head or shoulder to keep me from sliding out and landing on the rocks below. The positions where it’s possible to move upward are the positions where it’s possible to fall out. The body positions where you’re locked in to the point of relaxing and taking a breath, I found it all but impossible to move from. Getting in and out of those two main positions I found to be the crux of the route. It’s a full body battle agains the rock to move and keep you in it at the same time. I bumped the #6 higher in the crack till it was finally good enough that it might have held me if I statically took on it, and pulled myself out of the offwidth crack onto a small ledge before the rest of the climb up 5.8 crack and slab. I huge sigh of relief and a proper mount of exhaustion. Now. Now I was ready to go home.
|Dave Roetzel warms up|
|Katie Bono fly’s out the roof in a cookie monster costume.|
|Waldo was found climbing The Lighning. Chris Snobeck|
|Katie took one of the biggest whippers I’ve seen. Huge swing, but she was pscyhed to have come off the wall with both of her tools.|
It was a super fun day and the first annual Vail Veiled. Can’t wait till next year!
Check out more of the photos on Facebook
I first shot it last November after a light snow.
In the last year I’ve seen it just begging to have a photo taken of it, but I’m usually in a hurry when I’m going to or from Golden on CO 93.
I finally stopped again on Saturday.
I will continue to stop and take photos of this tree for a very long time, I think.
We were the only car in the parking lot. I was giddy taking my first gliding steps uphill, the nylon skins gripping the heavy, wet snow. God, I’ve missed this!
Navigating through the rocky trail we made it to the lake to find a beautiful winter wonderland. Needless to say, I’m excited for more of this.
|Eric has had his right hand in a cast all summer with a broken wrist. He’s psyched for the freedom of the brace, but can’t wait till he can fully use his hand again.|
|Eric flips his binding’s risers as we get onto the glacier.|
|It was white out conditions when we got to the top of the glacier.|
|Halfway down our first run Eric swaps out his Dynafit skis for a pair of snow blades.|
|Eric scopes out the slope skier’s right of the glacier.|
Eric really wanted to ski the couloir we skied back in early August. He had broken his skins earlier and was having to boot-pack, so he decided to boot-pack the couloir to see what the conditions were like. I skinned around to the top and waited for him. I loved this tree weighted by the burden of the fresh snow.
The hike out was one of the more unpleasant parts of the trip. We somehow missed the trail and ended up hiking miles around on a 4×4 trail, tripping over loose baby-head sized rocks. We were psyched to get back to the car. I definitely want to get back to Maple to climb more and maybe actually see the sunset hitting the canyon.
We drove around the mountains of the front range, not really finding a ghost town, then we decided to just drive to the 4th of July Trailhead. The fall colors are going off right now. We didn’t actually make it to the trailhead, so we just stopped and decided to explore the woods.
I had my Sony A6000 with the 18-105 F/4 with Optical Steady Shot (Image Stabilization) and I just hand held these shots at 1/15th to get the blurred water shots. IS is pretty amazing. I had my tripod in the car, but that was soo far away.
Happy Fall everyone!
|Alex taking in the sunset at the incredible rock garden on top of Edward’s Crack at Walt’s Wall (Main Area)|
I struggled up Currey’s Diagonal (5.10b+++) as it is an off-angle crimp rail with smeared feet and micro-cam protection instead of the bomber hand jams you’re expecting. Then Alex and I climbed Edward’s Crack up to Hassler’s Hatbox, definitely one of my favorite climbs I’ve done. HH gets only one star and 5.6 in the book, but deserves 4 stars and 5.7+ (Vedauwoo rating, 5.8+ elsewhere). I then gave a strong go at Best of the Blues (5.10b), the first pitch of Lucille’s. Absolutely worth getting on. Fun climbing to a powerful roof bulge move. It protects very well. Then you can stare longingly at Lucille’s.
We checked out Reynold’s Hill the second day. It has a really nice approach, and it’s removed from the noise of the highway quite a bit. We climbed past a dead bird and through the bushes to a very stout but fun route, Cosmic Debris (5.8+++). Needs to get more traffic to clean it up a bit. We then climbed Pooh Corner a few times. Alex cruised this flaring hand crack, but it was a battle for me. I like variation as I’m still not 100% with pure hand jams. The Maiden is a fantastically fun route that would be an ultraclassic if it were 60 feet longer. It’s called 5.6 but would easily be 5.8 anywhere else. Then Alex fought his way up the Matron, a 5.8 squeeze chimney.
I found it a lot easier to face the other way, but then again I was on top rope.
|Unknown girl climbing Pooh Corner at ssunset|
|View of Reynold’s Hill from the approach|
Every time I’ve gone to the Voo it has thunderstormed all around me, but it’s never rained or thunderstormed on me. That night the milkyway was out in force and the lightning storm was creating quite the light show. I’m still working on really capturing the milky way well. I also forgot my tripod, so I was balancing my camera on rocks.
|Shot with the Canon 55-220 FD at 55mm, the only focal length that wasn’t absurdly blurry|
|Shot with Canon 50mm 1.8 FD at f/1.8 – for some reason the only aperture I could get to work despite the manual aperture ring.|
|The damaged goods|
I didn’t have my Sony A6000 for 4 months because Sony outsources their repairs to a terrible company called Precision Camera. Absolutely the worst. But I’m psyched to have my camera back, and I’ve been using it way more than my Canon’s. I’ve struggled to find good lenses for this camera though. The kit 16-50 is unreliable and lacks sharpness at anything below f/8. I tried the 16mm f/2.8 and it was not any better. I bought the Rokinon 12mm f/2 E-Mount and absolutely love it. It’s been my only usable lens since January.
I love that Eric is always trying to get me out, but when Eric hit me up to hike to Isabelle Glacier in the Indian Peaks I tried to find something else to do. A full day of hiking with my skis on my back is not my favorite activity. But when I didn’t have anything else to do I said what the hell.
Eric Poore and his roommate Steve picked me up at 6am to head to the Brainard Lake Recreation Area, and by the time we get to the trailhead the parking lot is overflowing. We finally find a spot an additional mile away from the trailhead and start booting it past Lost Lake and towards the Isabelle Glacier.
|Steve and Eric greet the sun with skis. Note Eric’s broken wrist.|
|Lake Isabelle looking pretty low|
|Steve and I took the riverbed instead of the meandering trail. I have a condition where I hate meandering trails and try to go in the straightest line possible.|
|Eric and Steve try to decide what they want to ski and how many times. We ended up skiing the small ribbon between the two glaciers.|
|A small alpine lake, Eric debated “pond skimming” it.|
|Higher alpine pond. If it were a few feet fuller I think it would be a pretty incredible infinite pond.|
|Shoshoni Peak’s South Buttress over Isabelle Glacier. There are several 5.10 trad routes up there that would be cool to do|
It was a long 4.5 mile hike in. There’s a lot of almost flat walking interrupted by steep shelves that gain you elevation. Once we reached the boulder field it was scrambling over surprisingly loose boulders that kept attempting to dump you into dark pits and crush you.
Eric and Steve pull out glacier crampons from their packs…I didn’t even consider that as an option. So instead of try to toe point in my ski boots, I elected to keep my approach shoes on and climb the granite slab to the top of the couloir.
|Eric climbing with only one functioning hand.|
|The couloir kept going up and to the right pretty far beyond what I could see from here.|
After shooting Eric from a perch where I thought would be a great vantage to see them skiing down, Eric informed me that there was a lot more couloir and I should get higher. I climbed further up the slab until it cliffed out. I had a few different options for how to climb the cliff, but only one looked doable with skis on my back. The rock on the slab had been bomber granite, but the cliff disintegrated into a band of molting rock. Every move I did I pulled off several loose rocks before committing to it. I climbed up the constriction a couple different ways and kept down climbing because I didn’t feel good about the moves and the prospect of falling. Finally, after again trying to downclimb another way I figured out a stemming move that allowed my skis to fit under the roof and put me in a good position to pull up a flake to top out. At the time this crux felt like alpine 5.7/5.8 to me, but it was probably enhanced by the fact that I couldn’t do a lot of movement with the skis on my back. I was psyched to be out of that constriction and to the top of the couloir where I could see Steve and Eric getting ready to ski.
|Steve skiing in style|
|Eric running it out with Lake Isabelle in the background. The mountains were incredibly hazy, filled with smoke from all of the wildfires around the west that week.|
I downclimbed a loose band of the cliff to get down to the snow, put my boots and skis on, made several glorious turns in the sun softened snow which might have taken me 60 seconds to descend, pulled up next to Eric and Steve to celebrate the awesomeness we just partook, and quickly took my boots off. I think I might have been in my ski boots for a total of 120 seconds, probably my quickest record yet! We then ‘skied’ down the scree field in our approach shoes and made the 4.5 mile hike out, our A-Frame skies hitting the back of our calves the entire way out (seriously, there’s got to be a better way!).
|Eric descends through a field of alpine tundra flora|
As always with these kinds of trips, mostly type 2 fun, we were psyched to get back to the car. But also, as always, we can’t wait until our next adventure. It will probably be to ski the glacier behind Eric in the above photo.
|With only a 3/4 mile approach, whether or not there was actually snow to ski, it was little effort to get to the base.|
|Ian and Eric bootpack to the top of the glacier (to something like 11,200ft)|
|Ian watches Eric make some epic turns on the top of the glacier|
|Even with a broken wrist, Eric was super excited to be back on skis!|
|He couldn’t contain himself.|
|Eric makes a slash above St Mary’s Lake|
|There was a steep couloir to the south of the main glacier that still had snowback, so we decided to ski it as well.|
|Eric bootpacks the slope for a second run|
|Eric had to get 3rd run in…good laps for August|
|Ian modeling his Prana shorts|
It was great to be back on skis and to get out again with Eric. Can’t wait for more adventures this fall!