Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Story of Blue

The month of November brought torrential downpours to Portland, not the typical Northwest mist but a cold, driving rain that blew through the cracks of a jacket and soaked to the skin.  Kristin and I would dart from our car to the door and then inside our warm house to be greeted by our two furry cats.  During the summer, Maximus and Kiku despise the heat and often find a solitary retreat on a cold wood floor or in a basement corner.  But as the temps cool off, they start to spend their nights on our comforter, snuggled into the crook of our knees or nuzzled under our chins.  Slipping into a deep sleep to the sound of a fading purr is one of the great pleasures of life.  A cold November rain makes it even better.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Late Fall Sun at Smith Rock

Smith Rock - December 11, 2011

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we've been locked into a stable high pressure system for the last two weeks. The Thanksgiving weekend usually signals a switch to skis, but in the absence of mountain snow, recent conditions at Smith Rock have been excellent. Mostly clear skies, calm winds, and cool temps add up to great sport climbing conditions.

The last two weekends saw a small but stoked group of mostly local climbers enjoying the sun during a shrinking window of warm daylight hours. This shot is from a Saturday trip with Nate, fresh off more than a month of climbing in the desert, only to find more sunny stone back in Oregon. We had a great day of clipping bolts, but I'm still praying for a powder day!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Ski Stoke

This is some of best ski footage I've ever seen. Check it out. It may be the best 5 minutes of your day.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Wilderness Peak Turkey Hike

Over the holiday weekend, Kristin and I made our annual Thanksgiving pilgrimage to Seattle for a very indulgent and sedentary celebration with my family.  Each year, we dream up cool adventures in the nearby mountains, but we almost always end up falling into a delicious pattern of beer, football and turkey with the family, topped off with the best apply pie EVER (thanks Mom!).  If we're lucky, we manage to sneak in a hike or two to stretch the legs and force some blood through our otherwise clogged arteries.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Magic Ed and his Mexican Blog

Magic Ed's Project Pillar
As if I haven't spent enough time daydreaming about our recent trip to the Potrero, Magic Ed just posted a report from our climb on one of his unfinished projects.  

He was nice enough to offer me the FA (probably .10d/.11a) of a brilliant pitch high up on a narrow pillar of limestone 6-700 ft above the canyon floor.  He's tentatively calling it the Grand Pillar, but there's a still a pitch to be done to the top.  Check it out.     

Saturday, November 5, 2011

El Potrero Chico PSA

Jaime Bohle on the exposed 5th pitch of Snot Girlz, 5.10d, 7 pitches
Hanging out at the base of a limestone crag at Potrero Chico, I look down into the gravel wash, what qualifies as a road in this part of Mexico, and see two pickups with soldiers in the back driving upstream.  A few minutes later, having turned around, I look again and see them driving downstream.  And then they are gone – no flying bullets, no blood-filled gutters, no square groupers.  I look up at the rock, see two other people on the wall, and decide with the crowds and all its time to find some peace and quiet.  In 5 minutes, we’re in the wash – in 10 we’re in the Virgin Canyon with dozens of classic routes all to ourselves.  Over the course of two weeks, that’s the only time we see el ejercito (the army) – but we wake up each morning to solitude, sunny weather, and a candy store filled with the sweets of climbers’ dreams. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Potrero Chico Teaser

Less than 48 hours after returning from my second trip to El Potrero Chico, all I can say is wow!  The first trip was so memorable, I tried to keep my expectations in check, but EPC delivered again.  Here's a teaser - there's more to come.

Jaime Bohle on Death of a Tradman, Mota Wall, El Potrero Chico

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Faces of Occupy Portland - 10.9.11

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Faces of Occupy Portland - 10.8.11

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Faces of Occupy Portland - 10.6.11

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

In the Menagerie Wilderness

Pete Guagliardo on South Rabbit Ear


[muh-naj-uh-ree, -nazh-] 


1. a collection of wild or unusual animals, especially for exhibition

2. a place where they are kept or exhibited

3. an unusual and varied group of people

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Return to Smith Rock!

The Smith Rock Group
When we first learned to climb, Kristin and I would make the trip to Smith Rock just about every weekend, looking for little slices of adventure in different corners of the park.  We'd pack up the car on Friday night, drive up and over Mount Hood and then down into the High Desert, pulling into secret (or not so secret) camp spots in the dark.  Straight through the hottest months of the summer we'd spend every weekend in the desert heat, rotating around the towering cliffs opposite the sun in search of shade and friction.

Friday, September 2, 2011

More on the Suffering

The Cleanest Line just posted an evocative piece by Kelly Cordes on the noble attraction of suffering, which has preoccupied my mind since returning from Gunsight.  Check it out.
Nate Tack mid-suffer  Photo by Jaime Bohle

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Reflections on the Gunsight Range

Climbing trips often take on new meaning a few days or weeks after the return to civilization.  Sometimes the most successful trips paradoxically elicit a bout of depression, a casting about in the drudgery of every day life.  On the other hand, the failures, and even the semi-successes, if coupled with the right amount of sheer suffering, can somehow seem in retrospect like a good time – maybe even a good idea!  A few days and a few hundred miles can change the perceptions of an intense experience. 

So it is with my recent trip into the Gunsight Range of the North Cascades, a remote ridge of granite in a wild and committing setting.  36 hours after getting back to Portland, I pulled off my socks in a hotel room in Detroit on the 45th floor of the Marriot Renaissance.  I looked down and saw swollen ankles bulging over the tops of my shoes.  As I peeled away my black dress socks, I revealed track marks in my skin, where my legs had swelled around the confining mesh of the material.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mt. Adams - SW Chutes

The best medicine for withdrawal is a quick fix.  After returning from 10 days of climbing in California, I was still jonesing for more mountain time, knowing that the deep Pacific NW snowpack was making for some amazing summer ski conditions. 

Jaime had planted a seed a few weeks ago, suggesting the SW Chutes on Mt. Adams for the weekend after my CA trip.   Zach jumped on board, and by Saturday evening, we were driving through Trout Lake on the way to Mt. Adams. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Lover's Leap

Lover's Leap
After a few days in the backcountry, we decided to spend the rest of the our week in the friendly confines of Lover's Leap near South Lake Tahoe.  With beautiful camping, impeccable rock and 4-600' routes, we could take the foot off the gas pedal a bit and still enjoy some fun, airy climbing.

The days were hot, but we still managed to climb - mostly in the morning and the evening with a brief siesta in between - the luxury of camping a mere minutes from the base of the wall.  I'll let the pictures do the rest of the talking.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Anniversary on the Moongoddess Arete

Moments of uncertainty - miles from the trailhead.  High up on a route with the mountain all to ourselves.  Casting about in loose, vertical terrain looking for the supposed 3rd-4th class ledges.  A striking alpine arete, towers of granite, wildness - the John Muir Wilderness.  What better way to celebrate our 7th Anniversary?  The Moongoddess Arete.  

Each year, by the end of the Spring, I start to daydream about long, alpine routes on granite peaks - remote objectives offering solitude, altitude, and vertical terrain.  I'll lie in bed, rifling through guidebooks looking for promising route descriptions.  Ideas get passed back and forth with friends.  Prior failures push back into my consciousness, tempting me with redemption.  Motivation.  Anticipation. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Desert Days

With more rain in the forecast, Jaime and I escaped over the Cascade crest to the desert of eastern Oregon.  The drive paid off with sun, perfect temperatures and a seldom visited crag lined with splitter cracks.  Another excellent day of climbing!

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Tieton Valley

Onie on The Western Front, Tieton River Valley

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lane Peak - The Zipper Ski Descent

Improvisation . . . on the fly.  A washed out climb/ski of Mt. Rainier turned into a soggy descent of Lane Peak in the Tatoosh.

The original plan had Jaime and I climbing in Tieton on Saturday, meeting Doug and Alex in the parking lot of Paradise on Saturday night, and then climbing/skiing Rainier on Sunday.  Things didn't exactly go as planned.  On Saturday, we got in one pitch of climbing at the Bend before getting rained on and retreating to the car.

Eastern Sierra Ski Junket

Torrential winter rains in the lowlands pay off with a deep spring snowpack in the mountains. I've been holed up with my head down for a few months, but I recently lucked out with a fantastic weekend of spring skiing in the Sierras.

I've been messing around with video recently, so instead of the usual photos I'll offer up this amateur hack job. You gotta start somewhere.

Easter Sierra Corn Fest from Chris Winter on Vimeo.
Amateur nostalgia from a memorable spring ski trip to the Eastern Sierras.