Earlier this year Katie and I travelled to Greece for some climbing and culture. We were welcomed by our gracious host, enlightened guide, and zealot of all things Greek, Dimitris. Dimitris was our oracle, enlightening us by explaining how extra virgin olive oil was different, how the ancient Athenians were the most YOLO people of all time, and how Cretians essentially won WWII for the allies by losing the Battle of Crete to the Germans. For the following three weeks, tidbits of Dimitris knowledge would float through our heads as we explored the Aegean. After staying with Dimitris for a day in Athens, we travelled to the island of Santorini.
Although they are highly enjoyable, holidays in Italy aren’t really conducive to interesting storytelling. Perhaps this is because every single person’s Italian holiday gush sounds exactly the same. If you’ve ever fallen victim to one of these recountings, you know the glazed over look in the eye as the holidaymaker retreats into their visceral memories of gelato and pizza, the enthusiasm in their voice as they recite the notorious buzz words. . . The Vatican. . . The Colosseum. . . The Pantheon, and the eager hand gestures, channelling the inner Italian spirit with the thumb pressed securely to the index finger.
Like any other country at the moment, Myanmar has mixed feelings about their expats and immigrants; feelings ranging from stewing xenophobic tension to glowing admiration. Myanmar’s current policy towards foreigners on working visas mandates that we leave the country every 70 days. For some this is an annoying inconvenience, for me it’s a regular forced vacation to an exotic location every couple of months. Due to our regular visa runs over the last two years, Katie and I have been running low on Asian countries to visit (it’s a tough life). We decided to stretch our visa run distance and length to hop over to Western Australia for something novel. Continue reading
Summer is here in Myanmar, and summer means Thingyan (the Myanmar new year), and Thingyan means it’s time to go on our second annual 10 day sport climbing trip. Thailand has traditionally been the destination for sport climbing in SE Asia, but the karst wonderland of Thakhek in neighboring Laos is the up and coming new crag on the block. As devout Thingyan climbing pilgrims, Katie and I decided it was time to cut our teeth on Southeast Asia’s newest rock mecca. Continue reading
Mandalay is Myanmar’s royal city, and we are Mandalay’s loyal weekend warriors. The ten-hour night busses that take us to Mandalay and back to Yangon make for grueling transportation experiences. On a typical Mandalay trip we will spend two nights on busses and one night at a hostel. When we arrive back in Yangon early Monday morning, we emerge from the bus in a zombieish haze and essentially head straight to work from the bus station. After more than ten trips like this, Katie and I have the details dialed: Our favorite hostel, number of melatonin tablets to take on the overnight bus, cheapest motorbike rental shop, everything is dialed.
Hong Kong ➢ Macau ➢ Taiwan
Hong Kong is an island/city/quasi-nation box of cramped high rises stuck between the hills of the island and the channel separating it from the mainland. Also, there are a surprising amount of spiders.
When you climb enough you develop an implicit trust in the gear you climb with. When you don’t climb for a while, that trust disappears and everything gets a lot scarier. Casual, safe falls onto a rope become grippingly terrifying. So, when I got back to the States, after working in Bangladesh for six months, Beans and I decided to take a trip to the desert to get scared on Ancient Art.
There are two sport routes that I have projected for longer than a calendar year. The first was Monkey Puzzle at North Table Mountain; a 5.9 vertical route topped by an amazing V4/5 roof boulder problem. After I finally sent Monkey Puzzle, I sent several routes of equal or harder difficulty relatively quickly. It wasn’t only that I had finished the route, it forced me to become a better climber. “Chaos” at Anarchy Wall in Clear Creek Canyon was in the same category. I wanted a route that would force me to bump up against my ceiling. Chaos didn’t disappoint; I attempted the route so many times (somewhere between 200-300 burns). It wasn’t just powerful. Due to the infrequency of ascents, several of the key holds had no chalk on them, making the beta difficult to decipher. It was a tedious process, working on a sequence for a couple of weeks wondering if the sequence would take me through the crux, hitting a dead end, and then wondering if it was bad beta or a lack of strength that was protecting the chains. I was constantly doubting, and also doubting which doubt to doubt about. Is it strength? Is it climbing ability? Is it conditions? Is it beta? Adding to the difficulty, the holds are too small to grip when it is warm outside. The ideal temperature window for Chaos is 35-40 degrees; also known as winter.
In said winter, I was finally getting close to sending the route. However, I also had a Myanmar job contract looming. Only a few weeks remained. I had to do it, or I would leave the country with no firm timeline for returning. I started going to Anarchy Wall at every opportunity: after work, in the dark, on the weekends, early in the morning. Whenever I could get Katie, Jeremy, or Erin to come out to the wall with me, I was on it. I really didn’t want to spend months in Myanmar thinking about how close I had been. . . ☟
Bouldering nonsense: video of friends having a ridiculous time climbing in several front range locations: including Rocky Mountain National Park, Eldorado Canyon, Morrison, and Loch Lomond. Loch Lomond is a new area that some of us (mostly Abner, Julia, and Jeremy) developed over the course of the last year. There are several moderate problems in the V4 to V7 range on Gneiss blocks. The blocks tend to be on the shorter side, but the rock is good quality. The problems are fun, and you cannot beat the alpine setting. Check it out the photos, topos, directions, and other details on the mountain project page here: Loch Lomond.