Friday, November 21, 2008

Come back in Januari

For those who don't know us very well: that wasn't us on the pictures in the last post. We are terrible surfers, so there would have been no point in showing real pictures of us surfing.

We're back in Europe for the moment and will not be updating our blog until Januari... another Patagonia adventure....

Climb on!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Some surfing in Ventura

Picture 1: Sean riding a big wave
After tackling El Capitain, we allowed ourselves a few days off climbing and went to Ventura to visit Patagonia and enjoy the surf.  Here are some pictures of our trip.
The people from Patagonia were really nice and they did a good job introducing us to surfing.

Picture 2: Nico encounters a new friend.

Picture 3: One of the girls working for Patagonia

Saturday, October 18, 2008

New free route on El cap - The secret passage

That's it! The eagle has landed! In a five day free mission on El capitan, we put up a new free route on its right side. It starts off on "Eagles way" and finishes on "bad to the bone" (two aid lines). We found a secret passage to a section we thought to be impossible : an allmost invisble  laser-cut seam barely provided enough holds to bypass the blank section.   

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Bringing the jamming to a new level.

Our band has recently made a big step, commercializing on a broader scale. The success has reaped  its fruits and demand has been overwhelming. From exclusive concerts high up on El Cap to wedding ceremonies.  We've been struggling to find time to climb...

Congratulations to Jon  and Eiko and thanks for a beautiful day.

In search of the Eagles way.

We just spent four days on El Capitan looking for the Eagle. We know where he is but we haven't caught it yet. The eye of the eagle is the key. 
We've been working on trying to free the eagle...  
This is a line just to the right of Zodiac following a steep left leaning dihedral... we're going to need a lot of Belgian fries to power up for this one... 

Monday, September 29, 2008

Yosemite jamming

We have moved our jamming sessions to Yosemite Valley (California)... unfortunately the rangers do not seem to recognize musical talent... But fear not... we will not be broken... We have had some good sessions on El Capitan (more news on that soon).

Last week we Climbed the North West regular route on Half Dome with some friends (Sean on-sighted the free variation) . Amazing climbing... and good fun, cause there was 7 of us on the route moving at the same speed... good atmosphere. 
When we got back down the bear had eaten all our food which we had hung up in a tree... The bear knows the drill... as soon as we were one pitch off the ground he ran up the tree... we yelled but the bear just laughed back at us...
Sean also had a nice morning wake up... "In the middle of the night I could here my backpack next to me moving. I thought it was Nico trying to get something. Then I started imagining that it might be a bear and I wondered what I would do if the bear started eating me. Being inside my sleeping bag I had had no way of defending myself. I turned around and there was a bear right in front of my face! I started shouting as hard as I could thinking my life was over... The bear ran away... Exciting way to wake up I tell ya!"

Monday, September 8, 2008

Look good in Squamish

The 3 golden rules of rock climbing:
1) Look good
2) Be cool
3) Safety third!

We're back in Squamish. Slowly heading south towards Yosemite... 
There's a lot of bouldering going on... the POWER is coming back! TchECkkk!!!
We hope to fit right in when we get to the US with our new look... Remember kids: "look is everything" and "the way you look is the way you climb!"

More exciting news coming soon!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The crown jewel of the Canadian Rockies

Yamnusca: The crown jewel of the canadian rockies. That's what it says on the front cover of the Guidebook.
Our friends Chris, Cody and Ian, showed us around some of the climbing around Canmore. Canadian limestone. Yamnusca: adventurous multi-pitch. We searched the guidebook for the hardest route: " Gestiegenheid" 8 pitches 5.12 c R. The description used words like: loose rock, death block, bad gear and plenty of potential for getting hurt... 
It seemed as good a line as any to try...
While I was climbing the 5.12a R pitch (5th) a little voice kept repeating in my head: "plenty of potential for getting hurt, plenty of potential for getting hurt..." It made the climbing pretty interesting... I was almost disappointed to find quite a few bolts along the way... good thing I skipped a couple. (seems like it might have been rebolted since the guidebook)
However we had our share of excitement when on the second last pitch (5.10+ one of the easiest pitches) a big jug broke (before I had clipped the first bolt) and I went flying over Nico landing about 5m below him... Luckily it was a good place to fall. There were definitely other sections of climbing were it was better not to come off... 
So the Crown Jewel has some pretty adventurous climbing... a fun outing for sure!!

Many thanks to Chris, Cody and Ian we had an awesome time hanging out with you guys!!!

white out in the Bugaboos...

It was still dark in the tent even though it was late morning (almost noon)... We didn't understand what was going on until we opened up the tent and discovered that we were buried in snow! It had snowed 20 cm during the night! It was still snowing hard, and everything was white. Visibility was about 2m. Sean went out to empty his blather and almost got lost trying to get back to the tent! It was like swimming in mashed potatoes. Looks like the Bugaboo season is over early this year. It was time for us to pack up and leave. We had 14 days of food left... so we stuffed ourselves, eat as mush as we could, and started swimming true powder snow over the glacier with big heavy backpacks. Suffering. Crawling. Navigating in the white stuff hoping not to get lost...
We had a couple of short windows and managed to get a small glimpse of the rock faces: everything was plastered... 
Although there were still plenty things we wanted to do up there, the weather decided it is time for us to move along...

Friday, September 5, 2008

Wide Awake Corn Flake

A lot of snow... The bad weather came in, and we went out for a couple of days... back to Golden to fuel up. We got back up with our buddy Ben Ditto who joined us for a ride, but there was a lot of snow on the peaks. So we opted to try some smaller spires while the bigger ones clean up. We decided to try and free this amazing wide crack climb called "Wide Awake" 8 pitches, 5.10 A2 (400m). With binoculars from the ground, we spotted this huge flake in the shape of a gigantic ear, just to the left of the crux pitch. We decided to go take a look at it. A delicate slab traverse on razor blade crimps and crystals for the feet, brought us to a roof crack followed by a enormous flake (25m) the width of a corn flake... We could see all the way true it! Would have been scary for some! We named our variation "Wide Awake Corn Flake" (5.12). Yeah buddy!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

East creek jamming!

The day after freeing Doubting Millennium we took a rest day. Our friends (Ines, Jon and Chris), on their way to the Becky-Chouinard, joined us for a little morning jam at our home. The Mandolin was on fire!!

The next day, the weather went rotten... we came back down off the mountain to give you more exclusive news...

Chased by lightning

The night was quiet, almost too quiet...We reached the summit of the Minaret via a new direct finish. The sky looked clear... We were psyched to keep going to the summit of South Howser Tower. 

A few hundred meters of simulclimbing brought us from the top of the Minaret to the summit of south Howser, just before midnight. Our psyche turned to fear when we saw what was coming towards us from the other side of the mountain. A big black zeppelin flashing and roaring was approaching fast...We rushed down as fast as we could, and started rappelling down the Minaret.  The storm was faster than we were and all hopes of survival were lost when our ropes got stuck. We decided to sit on a small ledge (500m from the ground) to await our destiny and pray that being electrocuted by lightening would give us mutant powers. Our fear changed to ecstasy, when for the second time today, we noticed that a thunderstorm was passing right next to us. We just sat back and watched in awe as we admired the best lightning show we've ever seen. The lightning struck hard down below in the valley and started a forest fire.  

We climbed back up, got our ropes and continued our rappels. Once on the ground we still had to walk back to base camp... a full 50m away!

 1:30 am, after almost 20h of climbing we were back at east creek base camp ready for a jamming session...


Check out the lightening picture we took from the ledge!!! (picture 1)

Picture 2: Cumbre!

Picture 3: Nico feeling the stress during the rappels.

Picture 4: Sitting ducks on a ledge, waiting to be fried

Doubting the millennium

Black line is Doubting the millennium 5.12 600m
Green line is the variation we climbed last week : Millennium escape 5.12- 600m

One rivet and 3 copperheads to protect the crux... Snowflakes started falling down, a thunder storm was coming in... Maybe it's time to go down?
After having climbed a new free variation of Doubting the Millennium last week, we were psyched to try and free the real line of Doubting the Millennium (an old A3 aid route) which we  knew would be harder, but a more striking line. This time we decided to get an alpine start, to give us more time to tackle the crux. So with the help of the full moon we were on the wall at 5am, and by noon we were in good timing, just below the crux pitch, a thin crack going straight up from a 4 pitch corner leading to a good ledge. Suddenly the weather changed and in no time a big thunderstorm started coming closer while Nico was aiding the pitch.  For fear of being struck by lighting Nico rushed to finish the pitch and started rappelling as fast as possible. Just as we were about to pull the rope we noticed that the storm might just miss us and even though it didn't look very stable we decided to hang around a little longer... There was tension in the air but we decided to go back up... we stressfully worked the crux pitch threatened by strong winds, black clouds and lightening in the distance. Surprisingly the bad weather kept its distance giving us enough time to redpoint the pitch.  Then the sky looked less hostile... or so we thought... We kept moving towards the summit...

Lost Feather Pinnacle

To test Sean's back one last time before trying something long and hard we decided to try to open a new route on a neighbouring spire called  the "lost feather pinnacle". We choose a beautiful dihedral system leading into an intimidating black roof. We were surprised to run in to bolted belays on the first part of the climb, but after the crux pitch we found no trace of human beings. So we don't know wether we finished a new line or freed an existing aid route, but the climbing was exceptional!! 7 pitches of incredible quality! Some of the more memorable moments were when Sean pulled on a big flake which started moving and cracking and Sean nearly shit in his pants. Or when Nico approached the big black roof which was wet and prayed for our only number four camelot to be wide enough for the crack... Luckily it was and we could finish the route fisting and grunting like a grizzly bear in heat. 
A five star route!  

The big dihedral.

Below the black roof.

Summit picture.

Fingerberry jam

Sean woke up one morning and could barely move because of a terrible pain in his back. Carrying heavy backpacks, long days of climbing, hauling, hanging belays, who knows the cause... We ran back down to Golden for a couple of days rest, food, hot shower and the Chiropractor. Feeling a little better we headed back up and fixed the back on a crack named "Fingerberry jam" (5 pitches on the pigeon feathers). Amazing climbing! Thanks to Topher Donehue for this visionary line!