Saturday, June 23, 2012


Before Elissa showed up here in Ten Sleep, I spent about a week just hiking in search of new rigs. I saw a ton of rock and found some sweet rigs that needed to be manhandled into submission.

Tyler Endicott: "That's Milky. They call him the Milkisattva. He's a modern savage. He's a real searcher."
Johnny Utah: "What's he searching for?"
Tyler Endicott: The ride! The ultimate ride. The guy's even crazier than you, Johnny."

Say hello to my little friend! Tony Montana (12c) climbs up past the tree at the left edge of the face. A full 35 meters up the Wall of Awesome. I went crazy trying to bang off this big flake about halfway up. It succumbed to Billy's 'Southern Steez' rockbar.  

I bolted this not-quite-ultimate ride for E-train. It's really good but is well-bolted and does not require that you pay the ultimate price to experience it. This little rigatoni is up at the Tupac Memorial Buttress. Here she is on the first ascent of "Not too Hood." (11d)

"What does 'Not too Hood' mean to me? I don't know, it's like my hood is the place where I climb and stuff and this is my hood right here. But it's not too hood, you know what I mean? I mean Ten Sleep is hood but there aren't as many Co-ops, yoga studios, and climbing gyms for white people as my real hood which is Boulder, Colorado. That place is straight HOOD!"  

This is looking straight down the "Ghostface Killa" project.

 "Ayo this snow nigga is 14a son! F'real! It gets points for stayin true to its own crackerjack self n shit. But its still a marshmallow ass muthafucka. Ayo its like this nigga made out of baby powder namsayin. This nigga is human baby powder in the flesh son. If you aint under the age of 22 n dont have no vagina you basically aint got no excuses to be climbin' on this soft ass rig."

For those unfamiliar with the wordsmith that partially crafted such legendary quotes as the one above...Ghostface Killah is a member of the Wu Tang Clan and is credited on Wikipedia as being, "critically acclaimed[4][5] for his loud, fast-paced flow,[3] and his emotional stream-of-consciousness narratives containing cryptic slang and non-sequiturs.

Read more of Ghostface's loud, fast-paced flow and emotional narratives, non-sequiturs, etc, at his excellent blog The Big Ghost Chronicles.

This is me gettin' straight nasty on the "Ghostface" project.

A videogaming boy, seemingly doomed to stay at his trailer park hom all his life, finds himself recruited as a gunner for an alien defense force. That young man is known as Billy 'Southern Steeze' Brown...AKA: The Last Starfighter (5.12a/b)

Lilah was there to greet Elissa when she got off the plane.

Equipping the Gold Digger project at Crazy Woman.

Crazy Woman.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Lilah' Suspended until further notice

Lilah will no longer be allowed to make blog posts until I decide she can handle the responsibility again. After the laughs and positive response to her moose chasing post, she thought it must be cool, and acceptable, to kill nature.  

For the third day in a row, we've been hiking up to bolt rigs in the Mecca area of Ten Sleep. The hike is long, about 45 minutes, and winds up through open meadows to the tree line. Right where the meadow meets the trees is usually where the woodland creatures hang out. Lilah was leading the way as usual and, as usual, was just out of my sight up ahead. I heard some shrieking and thought she had jumped a rabbit. But this shriek was peculiar to me and one that I'd not heard before. I knew she was chasing something and there was nothing I could do about it so I tried to shrug it off. This scream though, had a primal urgency to it. The kind of sound that irritates the psyche of the modern man on a visceral level. I imagine it to be the same sound that made primitive man drool in anticipation of a meaty dinner. The repetitive shrieking was made eerier by the airy atmosphere. In the wide open space of Wyoming meadows, the sound has nothing to reflect off of and seems to be absorbed by the silent stillness like a screech in outer space. It was a supernatural sound that reminded me of a child's night terror.

I saw a flash of brown through the intermittent trees and assumed it was a deer. I continued hiking as the shrieks grew further away, occasionally punctuated by Lilah's characteristic 'chase yipping.' In the echoless atmosphere I could tell that they weren't moving away quickly and decided that intervention might be necessary. I dropped my pack and ran in the direction of the shrieks. The frequency of screaming never changed pace and quickly grew closer as I scrambled through boulder fields, talus, and downed pine. I was yelling for Lilah, knowing she wouldn't listen, and covering ground quickly. The shrieks grew nearer but never ceased in their frequency or urgency. I bowled through a thicket of sage to the tree line again and Lilah was standing there staring at me silently. She was covered in blood across her chest, legs, and around her mouth. It was her silence and motionlessness that sent a chill down my spine. It reminds me now of the two little girls standing in the hallway in the movie "The Shining." The complete stillness of the setting and the death cries of the animal being absorbed into the open space were chilling.

I ran to the screams and found a juvenile elk lying on the hillside. It was a female, about 80 pounds in weight to Lilah's 45. Lilah had run her down and the little girl had finally given up and accepted death. The weight of her torso was on the downhill side and her legs faced uphill in a final defensive gesture. She looked awkward and broken; a tangled mess of undeveloped, oversized limbs. She had multiple puncture wounds from Lilah's bites on her shoulder and an unhealthy amount of blood covering her leg. Her tongue arced upward from her mouth and flicked in beat with her screams of terror.

I stood there for a minute saying out loud, "Oh no, Oh no," then took a minute to yell at Lilah for being a total BITCH! "How could she do this," I thought. She probably acted on instinct through the chasing and take down all the way until the blood hit her lips and then thought, "Wait, I'm not really gonna eat this am I?"

I hurried down to the little elk and crouched down next to her. She was in shock and I think had accepted death. She wasn't moving at all, never making any motion to kick at me or defend herself. I ran my hand down her thick neck to her warm, pulsating chest. She was warm, her heart was racing, and she was still screaming but she didn't mind the interaction. Her leg didn't seem to be broken, just bloody. The puncture wounds around her shoulder were deep but despite the present blood, she didn't seem to be bleeding any more. Lilah had received the same kind of wound after getting bitten by a crazy dog in the chest. Her wound was deep but didn't bleed much and this little elk had suffered the same fate. I sat there with the elk, simultaneously stroking it, yelling "bad dog" at Lilah, and looking around for the father elk with the 26 point rack that I assumed was about to end me. Slowly the screams tapered in frequency and the little girl started to catch her breath. She became surprisingly calm and her breathing and heart rate started to slow. I got all Cesar Milan on her and used a quiet voice to tell her it was over and that she'd be fine. She never tried to fight me or move away, only occasionally looking at my face for reassurance that I wasn't a threat.

After a few minutes, I reached my arms around her body, interlocked my fingers, and heaved her onto her feet. She stood there looking at me, kind of wobbly-legged, for a moment, then made a few limping steps. She looked back one more time, then trotted off through the pines. As soon as she was gone I grabbed Lilah by the bloody snout and smashed her face into the ground. Lilah's a smart dog and could tell how upset I was and I believe she knew why.

I spent the rest of the afternoon hanging on my rope, 150 feet up a perfect shield of limestone. I was so absorbed in drilling, hammering, and inspecting every pocket and potential handhold that it wasn't until I saw the disappearing white flecks of snow melt on my pants that I spun around and faced the canyon. Miles of white and gold cliff tapered off into the distance lining both sides of the massive gorge. From high above the trees, I could see all the way down to the town of Ten Sleep and up to the Bighorn Mountains. I stopped long enough notice that my ears were cold and then watched a few more flakes land on my hand and transform into drops of water. Beneath me, I could see Lilah, wishing she was at home on the couch, licking every last drop of elk blood from her coat. She is such a bitch.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Lilah' Moose Tracks

I want all y'all to take a moment and picture me in your mind. Picture me how you normally see me. I'm probably laying on a blanket on the couch, snuggled up next to E-train or something, watching Desperate Housewives and looking all pathetic and cute. You probably think that I'm lying there thinking about dog treats and my next forced piss break. Forget about it. I'm thinking about tearing the throat out of the next woodland creature I see, regardless of its size. I don't give a shit! Honey badger's got nothing on me. I'd take out a cobra too if given the chance.  And I sure as hell wouldn't be afraid to take on something bigger either.
If I could get that desperate housewife in my teeth, I would wreck that.

You might be shocked to hear this? Well let me ask you this... Why do I have an entire basket full of stuffed animals at my disposal? Answer: training. I trained all winter for this trip to Wyoming. I'd walk into the bedroom and carefully select a stuffed toy from the basket. Then I'd carry it into the living room and shake it in my teeth, roll in its faux-bloody carcass, then disembowel it. And every time I'd do it, M-dub would be like, "Oh, isn't that cute.." Then when I do it in real life to a real woodland creature, he gets all pissed and sad. What a pussy. Those critters had it coming to them, rolling up on me like they do.
Here's where we went hiking. We parked by that road down there. Prime habitat for things about to get their lives straight ENDED.

Case in point: the marmot. I was just strolling along and heard some chirping so I go to check it out. Marmot fronts, I chase it down and destroy it. Shook it to death in 3 seconds. No challenge. Now get this... M-dub takes me on a monster hike today looking for new rigs. He saw some sweet rocks but I don't give a shit. I was sniffing around for something beautiful to kill. Overall, the death count was pretty minimal but I must say this was one of my prouder chases. On the hike out we emerged from the trees into this spectacular alpine meadow full of lupine and aspen trees. I didn't notice cause I was sniffing for something to destroy. Then I see M-dub take his camera out which means to me that there is something beautiful nearby that I would like to either A: chase off to prevent his nice picture, or B: kill.
Ah, the majestic moose. So noble and peaceful in your natural habitat. Let me ask you this moose: How's it feel to know you're about to die?

Here I come bitch!

Oh, you're going right? Guess too sucka!

Yer gonna die!

Hahaha...look at it's stupid face! It looks like a dumb ass camel or something!

Your knees look stupid! How you gonna run? How you gonna taste!

This thing corners like a Pontiac! C'mon bitch! Make it a challenge at least!

I'm so happy! I'm just so happy! I love killing nature!

Hahaha...yeah, that was awesome. Highlight of my trip so far. I wish I could make a movie about myself like M-dub does but he seems to have a lockdown on that. What happened next? Hell, I'm not telling you. No way. What happens in Wyoming, stays in Wyoming. That's my motto. Maybe I chased it down, killed it, and ate the whole thing? Maybe it turned on me and smacked me around a little bit? Maybe I just got tired of chasing it and let it go? That's for me to know and you to wonder about. I will give you a clue though. When I came back to the spot where M-dub had been waiting for 20 minutes, I was wet. The nearest water is at least a mile away. I'll leave it at that. Oh, and I threw up in my mouth on the drive home...a lot! Yeah, that happens when I get a good jog in. M-dub went through the motions of scolding me but he knows...When I hear the call of the wild, forget about it. I'm out! 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Life in Reverse

Last fall I was in Ten Sleep, Wyoming. Then I headed to Rifle, Colorado before heading home to West Virginia. Time flew by and I found myself heading back to Rifle. I stayed there for about 2 weeks and then blasted back up here to Ten Sleep. Both places have become second and third homes for me. I feel comfortable in these places, especially Ten Sleep where I am now. I've set up shop outside the Rainey/Wilkinson homestead and settled in with my new roommates Gordon McArthur and David and Christine Sj√∂quist. I'm fortunate to get to hang out in this place with these people. There's something wacky about the vibe in Ten Sleep and the people that are drawn to this place. David's a zany Swede that made a video called 'the Last Cowboy.' We're trying to get it to go viral among climbers. Hook us up and watch it. It has a message that people need to hear.  

Back track the timeline a bit. I rolled in to Casa de Wankster in Denver, Colorado and stayed for a spell. We climbed one day in Clear Creek Canyon which is a place I haven't climbed before. I did a couple cool routes and got to sample the infamous New River wall. I kept telling myself, "Whatever you do, don't forget to unclip the purple draw! Or was it the green draw?...dammit!!!" I survived with ZERO rope drag and the climbing was a lot of fun. I even got to throw down an orange box flizash on a 5.12 dizog which was surprising and a little confidence booster. I thought I was gonna be mega weak but instead I was just marginally weak.

I wanted to stay at Casa de Wankster for a while longer but his girlfriend is this super high-strung Latin chica. She's always like "Buenas dias, ju wanna taco, taco." Taco flavored kisses are great and all but Hennifer lays on the Mexican thing really thick. It's ALWAYS margarita time and my liver was killing me so I blasted to Rifle to meet up with Eddie 'Jumbo Hoss' Avallone and his brand new fiance, Rachel 'Twin Cannons' Melville.

I also happened to run into some old Fayetteville buddies, John and Laura, for an impromptu WV reunion. With the WV crew around around we got some good climbing days in. I got to do some classics in Rifle I hadn't done before like Anti-Phil and Squeel to Stihl. Really good.
From left: John and Lilah, Laura and Evy, Rachel, Eddie and Apollo.
After they left, I was on my own and had some solo time on my hands. Dave Pegg showed me his top-secret new crag that he is telling everyone about and desperately trying to get them to come to. Hogwarts is pretty rad. I bolted and sent a nice new rig at the top of the hill called Death Eaters (5.13b). I don't know anything about Harry Potter, which is the theme of the crag, so Dave had to help me with the name. It's a pretty damn cool route. It starts with a little 5.12b section down low and some moderate face climbing to gain a chossy scoop where it breaks right off of Dave's route, Order of the Phoenix (5.12+). After the scoop it stays on you for about 6 or 7 bolts of dynamic, powerful movement on perfect rock. I was pretty stoked to get to add a new route to this cliff. In the future, the area might have 100 routes and may even be slightly popular? It'll never be Rifle but in my opinion the climbing is better...maybe not better but different, which is nice if you're burned out on blocky thuggery.  
Master P finishing up the equipping of Order of the Phoenix 5.12+ (left line). The right line is Death Eaters 5.13b. Both routes are about 35 meters and about 1/3rd of the length is below the bottom of the photo.

Dave hooked me up with a bunch of bolts and hangers and I was all set to keep bolting at Hogwizzles but it started getting hot. Heat is my arch enemy. It is stronger and more powerful than I will ever be. I will always run rather than fight it.

Blammo, here I am in Ten Sleep. It's still cool enough here to climb in the cave and I'm getting the workout  I was hoping to get from Rifle. I am wrecked up! It's possible that the cave is even more physical and tiring than Rifle which would make it the most body-wrecking crag I've ever been to. One pitch feels like going three rounds in the UFC...without the head trauma. Soon enough though it will be heating up here as well and we'll head further up into the mountains to climb at Ten Sleezy proper.

Coal train will be here in about 10 days! I'm psyched to see the wife-piece! So is bebe chien who made her first kill the other day. She chased down a big marmot and grabbed it in her jaws and shook it to death in like 3 seconds. It was an amazing display of dog prowess. So proud of my little hunter.
Beware woodland creatures. She is a ferocious hunter.
Congrats to Eddie 'Jumbo Hoss' Avallone for picking the more attractive of these two crushers to be his bride.

Life Gives You Lemons

Note: written back in April sometime. I'm playing catch up.

There’s a saying that I’m sure you’ve heard: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” They fail to mention that lemonade tastes like crap.
It's the sugar that makes it taste good. The saying is not, "Sometimes life gives you sugar."

I’ve haven’t written anything here for months mostly because I’ve had the feeling that I don’t have anything to write about. Last summer and fall marked a high point for me in my climbing. I felt great at Ten Sleep and most importantly, I fired off my ‘mega-proj’ at my home crag here at the New. After that I just kind of lost motivation for climbing. I had no more projects to stay excited about. It was winter time and harder than usual to muster the proverbial ‘psyche.’

But more than anything I just felt off. I was waking up every day just feeling old and I made a point of telling Elissa this daily which I’m sure she appreciated. I couldn’t bring myself to climb or train at home. I felt down and out and chalked it up to either, 1: The send of the project. Or 2: My body needing rest. Maybe that’s a cop out but when I look back, I haven’t been ‘not sore’ for like 10 years. I don’t think I’ve taken more than a week off of climbing for a decade so I figured maybe my body was telling me to rest. Training coaches and top climbers all talk about the importance of rest and many of them suggest taking off a full month per year. Well, maybe I overdid it by barely climbing for 4 months!

About 6 weeks ago I started feeling some odd pain in my lower back and figured I tweaked something climbing. It got worse and soon enough I knew it wasn’t a muscle related injury. I started checking online and diagnosed myself with a kidney stone which is odd because I’m relatively healthy by modern American standards. But kidneys stones are a mystery and appear for different reasons in random people. So the internet advised me to eat lemons which I attacked at a rate of three per day. Maybe it helped but probably not.

Either way, I finally went to the doctor to make sure I didn’t have some damn kidney cancer or something. I got a CT scan, MRI, and blood work and there was no sign of the stone. But I knew something was wrong and there was something inside me. I named him Lee Harvey because when he strikes it’s like getting shot from a far off grassy knoll and not hearing the report. He is a sneaky bastard willing to shoot me in my sleep, at my desk chair, or in the middle of a 5.12X rated run-out (which of course I’ve avoided ONLY because of Lee Harvey).
They start off small and harmless. Then they try to kill you.

During my last Dr. visit, Lee Harvey struck with a hollow point bullet and I immediately turned as white as a Grand Wizard and almost lost my lunch. I broke out in August rapist sweat and by the third shot to the back I saw the world spin and almost went face down and passed out. The last thing I remember was seeing the crux of the mega-proj flash before my eyes and then St. Peter’s gates appeared. Right before I went face down, I sacked up thinking, “Keep it together man! Don’t die now! Someday you might be get sponsored and be on Youtube!”

I’m kidding, but honestly it’s scary when your body lets you down and it makes you realize just how fragile we really are. Looking at those CT scans changes your perspective on life for a minute. We are actually just a bag of guts. A bag of thousands of nasty guts that all have a purpose and if even one of them lets you down, it’s curtains. It makes climbing completely meaningless and just general life seem somehow a little more important. I’m not delusional, trying to be all inspirational like, “Oh, I’m a cancer survivor” or some garbage like that. I’m just saying, it sucks when your body lets you down. When I get sick, I get pissed and usually swear off being around people ever!

Anyway, I’m not entirely sure ‘cause I have felt a few little dying kicks from Lee Harvey, but I think that bastard plopped into my bladder. Drown in my piss pool you son of a bitch! I haven’t seen him come flying out of my pee hole yet but if I do I’ll be sure to post his picture on Facebook or something.

Hopefully it’s over and if general feeling is any indication I think it is. For the first day in 4 months I looked at my training wall today and felt ready to get back at it. It was depressing. Nothing showcases your physical state like the benchmark of the home wall. I used to be able to do many sets of 100+ laps on the hit strips, now I’m at 60. 20mm edge pull ups used to be somewhere around 20, now I’m at 7. Balls….Oh well, gotta start somewhere. And honestly, I probably did need the rest.

This is not to say that I have been completely unproductive. We cranked out another issue of DPM. I’ve been trying my best to post more quality than quantity online which I think I’ve accomplished a bit. And I got some climbing in. Overall, I got about three weeks in at the Red and it was really fun. Got to hang out with my boy Suburban Wankster and talk shit all day. Elissa was there for spring break for about ten days which was awesome. Honestly, the best part about it was not really caring about climbing. I looked back at my pictures and found that over the past few months I took more pictures of little things than anything else. I wasn’t invested in heavy projecting or hard climbing. I literally stopped to smell the flowers and it was nice. But there is a time and a place for acting like a bitch and now is not that time! Back to ROCK CLIMBING!!!
Elissa on Stain (5.12c) at the Red.

We’ve got a wicked summer trip planned. I’m blasting out of here in a week or so and heading to Rifle to get back in shape. That place does it for me. A little climbing on the front range. Elissa flies into Denver mid-June then we head north. Back to Ten Sleep for a quick visit and then on to Canada. I got my Bow Valley guidebook in the mail today and it looks sick up there. Limestone and grizzly bears. Bring it.   
We had a killer day at Long Point. I got to climb The Ginger Assassin, Levi's sick new 12d trad route out the crack in the roof.

Hanging out at the cliffs with Steve Hedgecock. Dude keeps it real.

 The wildflowers at the Red were poppin'. Trillium.
Elissa lookin' diesel on Harvest (5.12d).
Nice try Red River Gorge. Nice try... Chinese Red Buds and the ironic sign you see on the way to Miguel's.
 Pat Goodman starting out 'the General' project. This 40-foot roof crack at the Meadow is much, much, harder than it looks. And it looks pretty hard.
Still photos can't potray my cries of pain. I lasted about 5 minutes on this torture test.