Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It's My Party and I'll Cry If I want too......

........because we left Smith Rock.

One of the coolest places I've been climbing. Beautiful Views, Crazy types of climbs and it holds the best route I've ever been on, Moons of Pluto. The sickest, pebble pulling arete climb in the world. Amazing views of the Cascades to the west and the songs and sights of multiple species of birds overhead. Smith is/was insane, and I can't wait to go back.

It's been a while since an update, due to the dirtbagging in Oregon (one of the coolest states eva!). The trip has been pretty relaxed since the last update; beach bouldering, driving through redwoods for hours on end, jumping into crater lake, and Smith Rock.

We now are rounding the trip's half way point, and it is really hard to say what was the best part. Partially because all of it has been astounding, and that we still have yet to see half of this adventure. It really is a mind fuck.

We are now in Portland for a recharge and some city life. (Holy shit, Urban areas!!!!!)

Oh and to celebrate me being a shitty age of 23. Whoopdie Do!

We will most likely update a bit more until we head out of seattle. Then it may be communication breakdown for a bit. But there will be a guest blogger soon.

Who may that be?

Pics for all you that care.......

J-Roc awesome

Greetings again blog readers! John and I are still doing well and still heading North. Last we posted we were bouldering on the Northern coast of California. That was a great time, but we've since left California behind. We drove through redwoods shrouded in fog, down terrible dirt roads and eventually back tracked to the state highway to find a better campsite near Crater Lake. When we woke we drove up to Crater Lake and enjoyed the beautiful views of it's SUPER BLUE waters and snowy peaks in the distance. We eventually hiked down to the water and John took a dip in the cold water. Following that quick stop we pressed on to Bend for food and to pick up the Smith Rock guide book. We pulled into Smith rock later than evening and set up camp.And in case you were wondering, Smith Rock is awesome! John and I were both apprehensive prior to arriving, we just weren't sure it would be all that it was cracked up to be. We were so glad to be proven wrong, and greatly enjoyed the three days we spent climbing there. The rock is super interesting and heavily featured with pebbles, pockets, nubs, ledges, etc. This all made for great and varied climbing. The temps were a bit high, so we chased the shade as best we could, but otherwise had a blast. Also, the local scene is really cool, we met a lot of climbers from the area and all were super nice and full of fun stories, good beta for routes, and dirt-bagging tips to keep trip costs low. Smith rock campground also has free showers (AWESOME! and badly needed).

However, today it was time to move on again, so we packed our things and are now in Portland to celebrate John's birthday with a brewery tour and a night in a real bed.

Couple more things:

1. The lack of photo's here and on facebook is sorta a result of there only being two of us. We are climbing our asses off, but there isn't much evidence of that because well one of us is belaying and the other is climbing. Hopefully the scenery shots will keep the masses at home happy.

2. I did my first run today in about 3 weeks. The tendonitis in one of my toes is still there, but it has been feeling better, and I was to inspired by the trails at Smith to pass it up. So I got up early and put together a 3 mile loop. The loop started by gaining 700 feet up switchbacks, and man did it kick my ass (trail name was "misery ridge"). I gained about 500 feet with about 1/4 mile left of the climb and had to switch to powerhiking the last bit of the climb (also, the first time my ears popped from elevation change during a run! pretty cool). After that initial climb I had a blast, the rest of it was primarily downhill on steep switchbacks with great views, and it eventually eased into winding roller coaster hills. I've never felt "flow" like that before during a run, felt like I was skiing or floating or something, it was pretty awesome. This was certainly the most technical (rocky, rugged, etc.) trail I've ran, and I can't wait to do it again, it was so much fun! Unfortunately, the tendonitis is still there, but doesn't feel any worse, so I'll play it by ear and if I get inspired again later on in this trip I may go for another run.


Friday, June 25, 2010

California 36 Sucks My Ass

It was voted the most pain in the ass road to drive, by me.

Otherwise the fog, redwoods, and the impressionist painting we drove through last night were pretty tight.

Too bad Lassen National Park was snowed in still, cool to look at though. It did smell a bit of farts, but ill blame the volcanic vents for that one.

We are now in Humbolt County (not high), getting ready to hit the beach and do some bouldering. I know I hate our lives too.

Maybe I'll take a dip in the Pacific, once the fog rolls out. Gotta get clean somehow.


The perfect way to start a day...

You let the warmth and light of the sun wake you in the morning. Crawl out of your sleeping bag and slip out of the tent, walk through short dry grass and yellow wild flowers to a gently flowing river of crystal clear water. Kick off your flip-flops and loosen your shoulders, then practice yoga as you feel the sun on your back, and the smooth gravel sand shifting between your toes and fingers. Then, when your yoga session is finished, strip down and jump into the cold clear water for a refreshing bath (don't worry, no one is around to see you). Scrub the smell of woodsmoke from your skin and hair. When you're limbs are shaking from the cold, come ashore and dry out in the warmth of the sun. Go back to camp, make and eat your breakfast, wash your bowl, greet the day.


p.s. We left Tahoe and passed through Lassen National Park yesterday, we didn't do much there because the road was closed due to snow, but man was it pretty. Today we are on the coast, in Eureka, California. Beach bouldering and Redwood wandering are the order of the day. We may strike out for Oregon tonight.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Holy Shit, Another Post.

Now we bid Tahoe farewell, but it will not be the last time we will be here. This Place is insane. However we now start our trek up north to pick up Carter. This will be fun, exhausting at times but pretty beautiful the entire way. But the big thing at the moment, pictures


P.S. Tony and I have both agreed that we smell horrible, so we will leave the other patrons of Starbucks so their noses may not be struck with the shit that we smell like.

-Johnny the Monkey

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Range of Lights

That's what John Muir called the Sierra Nevada mountains, and for good reason, The snowy peaks and towering granite cliffs cause light to shine brightly, reflecting off the crystals of the granite walls and changing from brilliant white to burnt oranges and heavy purples during sunset. Here at last, here at last, we are finally here at last.
Our initial posts on this blog came from Bishop, and we were still on the foothills of the Sierra's then. We've since been traveling and sleeping in their heart, and despite our best efforts we haven't been able to update this until now, from Lake Tahoe. But let me back up before I talk about Tahoe.

We left Bishop and drove through the snowy and steep Tioga Pass to Yosemite Valley, our plan was to stay in Camp 4. That of course did not work out immediately, as we arrived to late to secure a spot. Feeling discouraged we decided to shrug it off and get up on the granite walls. We set our sites on the "regular route" of the sunny-side wall which is near Yosemite Falls. A few ugly gully scrambles and a bit of funky 4th class climbing later we reached a point on the route where vegetation had taken over. The crack system we were following was filled with gunk, making it hard to protect, so we tried a variation that did not work out well either. So, we rapped off.

That mini-fiasco started was the beginning of a pretty bad day. We walked to Curry Village with intents of bouldering and getting an El Cap Burger. Turns out they don't make those any more and the area with the boulders is closed due to a rock fall that happened in 2008. Eventually we relented and passed out along the Merced for a nice nap. That night we drove out of the park and camped in a pull-out along the road with all the others that couldn't get a spot in Camp 4.
Things started looking better after that, we woke up at 4:30 and parked ourselves in the Camp 4 line by 5:30. We managed to get a spot and eventually set up our camp. We then wanted to boulder in Camp 4. Turns out the Camp 4 boulders are ridiculously hard, everything is polished from the huge amount of traffic they see, and it wound up not being very fun.

So we pulled out the ropes and harnesses again for the next few days. We climbed lots of single pitch stuff at the Swan Slabs for a day. We also met some new friends in our camp site named Justin and Karl. They are pretty cool dudes from California and we went up this sweet 2 pitch climb with them called Munginella, which offered a great view of the valley and half-dome from the top
The next day we got on route called Nutcracker. It is a 5 pitch climb that rises 600 feet up from the valley floor on a buttress between El Cap and the Three Brothers cliffs. It was first established by Royal Robbins who led it with only nuts to champion the cause of clean climbing in a time when pitons ruled. That is the thing about the valley, there is a tremendous weight of history around, everything you get on has some story behind it, and it was pretty cool to climb a route that was so important to the development of modern climbing. Also the views from Nutcracker were incredible, it was such a different way to see the valley, dangling from a belay, hundreds of feet up a wall. A cold wind howling around us and competing against the hot sun that was beating down from above (and reflecting off the granite into your face).

After Nutcracker we pulled out the crash pads again, on our last day in the valley, and went bouldering with Karl. We checked out two areas and there were loads more fun than the Camp 4 stuff. John and I both sent two very cool problems one was a v3 dihedral with sloping holds and stemming on tiny feet. The other was a huge v4 arete directly across from the Ahwahnee hotel. It went quickly for both of us, but the top out was pretty scary as you transition onto moss covered slab with bad crimps for hands, oh yeah, and your about 20 feet off the deck at this point (and I thought I got scared by Bishop's high-balls). But I pulled it together and forged my way through.

Now it sounds like we did a lot in Yosemite, but keep in mind we were there for a week, and in between climbs there was copious amounts of chilling, drinking beer around the fire with other climbers who were drawn to the valley, eating canned food, watching the raging water come off of Yosemite falls. One day we walked and scrambled to the base of the falls and got blasted by the water in a sort of wild baptism, huge smiles and laughter coming over us as we got drenched.

Oh yeah, bears, thankfully Vanna made it through unscathed, but a girl we met named Brook did not have as much luck, a blackbear broke her back window. The bears were ravaging Camp 4 for a few nights while we were there. Dozens of Camp 4 residents chasing them off with hollered calls of "Git outta here Bear!!!" sounding all through the night. The bears jogging off into the darkness of the woods and letting the squirrels and Steller's Jay's take over the hunt for food in the morning.

The valley is magical, I will miss it as always, but I was also ready to leave by the end of the week. It was time to move on, and now we are in Tahoe. We arrived last night and settled into a quiet camp ground. Today we sport climbed at Luther Spire's and it was easily the most beautiful place I've ever clipped bolts (it was also great to lead again after following on all the trad lines in the valley). The spires are towering chunks of granite rising out of the top of a ridge, how they formed I have no idea. The views from the spires was incredible, you look out over mile after mile of pine forest and snow capped peaks. The routes too were incredible, really interesting and heavily featured granite (a contrast to the smooth granite of Yosemite) that had resulted in excellent, flowing, movement up the climbs.

A couple weeks in and it is still hard to fathom how epic this trip is, Tahoe is really a tiny stop along the way and it was incredible. I'm settling in to the rhythm of the road, sleeping in the dirt, waking to bird call and warm sunshine, the smell of pine. Doing things cheaply and simply, and enjoying every second.


p.s. photo dump at!/album.php?aid=2224706&id=31107199

The Double Down

It has been challenged. I don't know if it, or I will come out victorious. But the KFC Double Down was in fact, put down.

Besides that point we are alive, and now have an endless amount of internetting thanks to Starbucks. Well 2 hours a day but if we go over that we have other problems on our hands.

We need to get down to other business though, explaining our absence. It's been a while since the Looney Bean in Bishop. A lot has happened in that time, and for the most part it was phenomenal. Lets list the things that we had done.

1. Drove to Yosemite and the day of failures.

2. Spent five full days in The Valley.

3. Ate at a gourmet gas station.

4. Drove to Lake Tahoe

5. Climbed at Luther Spires

6. Ate a Double Down

Okay, now lets break that down one at a time.

1. Our day of failures. It sucked, it was miserable but in the end it was still enjoyable. We got to Yosemite around 9 in the morning to secure a site at Camp 4, the Valleys only walk in campground (that means its crowded). We thought 9 was early enough, it wasn't so we were left wondering what we would do for camping that night.

We put that behind us and decided to climb a really easy 3 pitch 5.4. Well that was a shithole gully, that ended with us rapping off bushes to get back to the ground. We weren't as pissed as we thought we would be because of the view we had of the valley during that shit climb. So on to our next failure.

Actually it was a Yosemite Fail. They stopped making the El Cap Combo burger. Fuckers. So we ate pizza that gave us the runs.

We wanted to go boulder, but Curry Village was closed off at points due to the rock fall a few years ago. So we ended up passing out buy the merced on our crashpads for two hours.

With some rest behind us we ventured to find a spot to sleep for the night. It turned out it was easier than we thought. We put some beers down and discussed how early we would get up to get a spot in Camp 4.

4:30 a.m.

The rush of a life time. We packed everything so damn fast the tent didn't even make it in its bag. Partially hallucinating and worried we got in the line positive we would get a site. We were right.

2. Valley residents, for a week.

That deserves a blog entry entirely. But to put it plain and simple. We chilled out, hard. Did some bouldering, single pitch, a 3 pitch climb and a 5 pitch climb named Nutcracker. Met some new friends, drank a jug of Carlo Rossi, and had a blast. I even chased out a few bears during our stay. I may do an entry solely on the time in the valley, lots to write at the moment.

3. Gourmet food in a gas station.

Yes, its true. Delicious fish tacos at a Mobil in Lee Vining, CA. Just outside of yosemite. Fucking Awesome. I didn't even get a sticker to throw on my roadtrip water bottle, bah.

4. The drive to Tahoe

Tony almost fell asleep at the wheel in broad daylight. We switched driving then. Tahoe is beautiful, even the KFC looked classy, thats what sucked us in for the double down today. We set up camp at Lovers Leap and relaxed. The Jack Daniels bottle was finally killed.

5. Climbing at Luther Spires.

Finally some sport climbing. And boy was it phenomenal, with a view to boot. The hike up, and the roaming the spires was sort of a bitch. Other than that, probably the best sport cliff i've been to. Super aesthetic climbs, on short to medium size spires with amazing views of the sierras. Amazing day.

6. The Double Down

Its what you expect, America in a nutshell. Fuck bread, use chicken as the buns. It was tasty, but wreaked havoc on me 20 minutes later. But I took care of that. In the middle of writing this entry in fact!

Which brings us to the end of my entry. Tony is writing one that is probably the exact same thing, but I got mine up first. HAHAHAHAHHA.

Sorry the entry got pretty to the point with out telling a story, but I'm tired so screw you.

Now I have to go put some pictures so you can all see the shit we are. Toodles.

- Johnny the Monkey

Monday, June 14, 2010

Oh Yea, This.

Good on ya boys.

It Has Begun!

We left Wednesday night after the Hawks big Stanley Cup win. We didn't much past the Iowa border before grabbing 40 winks at a truck stop. A few hours later I jumped behind the wheel and pressed on as dawn's rosy fingers played in the rear view. We talked, laughed, and nearly lost our minds getting through Nebraska before a much needed rest and refuel (Wahoo's Tacos) in Denver. We plowed through the mountains with the sun setting and camped along a river outside of Grand Junction. Woke to a Robin feeding her young in the tree we pitched our tent under. Packed down some strawberries and yogurt and threaded our way through Utah.

We took the Scenic route 12, I reminisced, John slept. I stopped in Escalante long enough to dip my toes in the river and cringe at the Russian Olives. We camped that night outside of Bryce Canyon, woke to Coyote singing. Hiked around Bryce, enjoyed the Hoodoos and mountain blue birds all around. Zion was a bust, massive thunderstorms, so we go to Vegas early.

I survived Vegas with some sanity left, that place is what fucking space stations on Mars are going to look like, all fake clouds on the ceiling, fake waterways, fake people, etc. But my friend PBR got me through it well enough. Finally arrived in Bishop, CA yesterday and touched rock for the first time on this trip. The blocks are massive and absolutely everywhere, it is really inspiring, if not a bit scary. Next update should come from Yosemite


It Begins

So Tony and I have crossed the country, Thank Jebus.

The drive, although long, went nightmarishly well. Unless of course you count the odd conversations/role playing we did through out Nebraska. Waiting for us in Denver was the muse that is Wahoo's, which gave us the extra gas to push us over the Continental Divide and on to our first campsite......

The roaring stream behind the site made us worried but we left unscathed to fend for ourselves in Utah: Land of Hannah's People.

This was my first time driving through and actually "touring" Utah. I have to say I wasn't dissapointed. Apart from Obama's Rebuilding America, which is still putting a damper on the speeds at which we can get from destination to destination (more on that later).

Tony got to show me the fantastic land in which he worked last summer. BEAUTIFUL. Easy way to describe it right there. Pushing through and past Escalante we pitched our 2nd camp near Bryce Canyon and cracked open some Blue Ribbons had a roaring fire then passed out, only to view this the next morning......
Stay sexy Bryce Canyon.

After our first of many National Parks of the trip, we thought we were headed to the second. Only to find out "Hardness" had hit Zion, in the form of an intense storm. So we cut our losses realized we still saw a good amount that morning and headed to Vegas.

So the next morning we left Vegas with sights of a little town on the eastern side of the Sierras to host us for the next few nights, Bishop.

And that brings us here, to the Looney Bean Coffee Shop, on Bishop's Main Street. We have climbed, although not so hard. Our hands are still soft from all that driving and this volcanic tuff is hell on the hands.

It has only begun, July 17th is a long way away. Good.