vrijdag 24 juni 2011

Smith Rock basalt fest!

After our last car adventure the car showed some good behavior and didn’t let us down anymore! We’ve been climbing in Smith Rock for three days now. It’s an amazing place. After Yosemite it looks small but it isn’t, it’s still 6 times bigger as Freyr.
When we arrived we were immediately invited to a BBQ of a friend of Ryan. We walked around in Bend and had a nice and easy afternoon.

In Smith Rock State Park you can do a little bit of everything; sport climbing, trad-climbing, bouldering and even multi-pitch trad or mixed. The Park is not only for climbers, there is also a lot of tourist walking around. Mostly they walk around where most of the sport climbing is, if you go to the upper and lower gorges to do some trad-climbing you’ll be alone!

Sport Climbing

Our first day climbing was really easy and we discovered the area a little bit. We also had to get used to the heat. After Yosemite we arrived here in a heat of 90°F ( 32°C).
We did some sport climbing the first day. Really funny to do that again, it is hard to get used to it again. Definitely here in Smith Rock where the grades are really hard and the holds small. The climbing style is really special. It is all vertical or slightly overhanging walls with small crimps. The rock type is basalt but way different of the basalt in Jailhouse. In this basalt there are a lot of little rocks of another kind sticking out, a little like conglomerate. So you’re climbing on small pockets or on small crimps! No jugs, that doesn’t exists here.

Because of the old age of the sport climbing here the grading system is pretty hard and tough! Also the first 8c+ of the US you can find here. Some of you probably heard of it, it’s called ‘Just Do It’. It’s an amazingly hard line on the Monkey face, a big loose pillar that looks like a monkey face! Can you see it?


The second day we went to the Lower Gorge. This is one of the two big Gorges in Smith Rock. Without much planning we walked into the gorge and saw that the side we were on was completely in the sun still. So we decided to cross the (high) river, which was not an easy job! After trying to cross that river for an hour we gave up because the other side was also slightly getting in the sun. We chilled in the river for an hour more and waited until our side of the river got in the sun.

The basalt in this canyon is again completely different than the sport climbing in Smith or Jailhouse. The crack’s are all between big columns/pillars 1 meter from each other. The climbing is really technically with lots of face holds and stemming between the pillars. I’ve put some pictures for you to get a better view of it! I did two 11a’s (6b+) who where both crazy technical and scary above small nuts! I tried one 11b (6c) but fell on the end, it was really hard to place gear and the moves were incredibly technical. I’ve never climbed on a rock where you need so much technique. If you thing Freyr is hard, this is 3 times as difficult and technical. Crazy that I’m talking about 6’s instead of grades around 8a/b. I’m getting lots of respect for the older generations!


Yesterday we did some single pitches sport first. After that we went up the monkey face. We did the line called ‘Monkey Space’ It’s only 3 pitches but it’s exposed and in a beautiful surrounding! On top of the Monkey Face we hanged out a little and enjoyed the exposure and the incredible view!

Today we did some necessary rest day activities like changing tires of my van and laundry. I hope to get some good second hands tires!
This evening we’re going towards ‘Trout Creek’ to do two more days of trad-climbing, again on basalt splitters!
On top of Monkey face! Oeh! Oeh!

Me fighting with a baby ratlle snake! The most dangerous! No joke!

Flo = Tourist and photographer of all! Me = loosing my head in the chevy engine while replacing the radiator hose!

Friendly old man number 2 and I!

Yeah Flo, thanks a lot for all your pictures!

dinsdag 21 juni 2011

Car adventures and playing around on El Cap!

The big and tiring days weren’t ending last week. After our Astroman ascent we took a nice and easy rest day. The two days after that we did some cragging and hiked up the Yosemite Falls trail to enjoy the view as you can see on the pictures. We ran down the Yosemite falls trail in one hour! Tell me if you can do better!
The next day we took another rest day because we felt really weak. That rest day we planned our next goal for the next day. We prepared our self to do ‘West Face’ of El Cap in one day! That rest day we went to Sonora to do some groceries and to do an oil change. Groceries went perfect; the oil change was another story!

We went to a wal-mart to change the oil because there was no other place available that day. I’m not a fan of wal-mart but the oil change had to be done. After 1.5 hours they were finally done (it takes normally 10 minutes). I go inside, pay the bill, get my keys and go to my car. When I tried to start that old piece of driving metal it just didn’t do anything, no reaction, no life. I was alone because Flo was still surfing pretty hard on the internet. So I said to myself: ‘Fuck, those wal-mart shit holes fuck up my car!’ I went back inside and asked for some more information. I even talked to the manager and tried not to be the most annoying customer! When the manager finally moved his obese ass he told me his workers are no mechanics and only change the oil and check tires and the battery. I taught it was suspicious because they recommended me to buy a new battery. So after some discussion I got sick of them and tried to cal another garage or mechanic nearby. It was already 4:30pm so everything was closing soon. With some stress I called around but with no success. Then suddenly an older man who lived in Sonora saw we were foreigners and asked what was going on. I explained our problem, he was willing to help us out of that chit we walked into an hour before. He was with the triple A (AAA) and was willing to give us one of the four AAA services he had in a year! After he called them, a big truck was coming to pick up my van. The triple A looked at the problem first and found out what was wrong. A metal cable in the starter was broken and he told us it was easy to fix. The helpful guy, John, bought the supply’s to repair the car. After the triple A guy started the car we drove to John’s house where we first were served with a nice and cold beer. While drinking we crawled all under the car and fixed the starter! At 7:30pm we could finally leave Sonora. We want to thank John a lot! It’s so nice as a foreigner to be helped if you’re having problems in another country. We wanted to go back to the valley to do West Face the next day. So this was again a car adventure that belongs to my trip.
West Face is one of the more popular 5.11 free-climb’s in the valley. It’s also a shorter Big Wall on El Capitan. With his 18 pitches you can do it on one day and climb everything free. That day we woke up at 4:30am to get ready for West Face. After a long and steep hike we left the base of the route at 7:30am. The first two pitches, the 6th and 7th are the crux pitches, after that it’s all 5.10 or less. The first pitches we lead very well without any problems. I fell once in the 6th pitch, my foot slipped off, didn’t saw the right hands. The quality of the rock was way different compared to the rock quality of the nose. It was slicker because of the water who runs down there more often.

We arrived at the summit in the dark at 9pm with a full moon shining in our tired faces! The descent of El Cap is hard if you don’t know it and even harder in the dark. We enjoyed the summit for a while. With the amazing full moon we could see a lot and tried the descent for about an hour until we decided it was way too dangerous to continue. We went back up to the summit where we decided to sleep underneath a tree in an amazing open rock land space. We weren’t prepared to sleep at the summit so didn’t have much up there. We both slept on our rope spread out with long pants, T-shirt and a sweater. We had one down jacked for both of us!
A little away from our sleeping tree we found some snow we used to drink a little! It wasn’t a first class night, but it was a beautiful full moon night on top of El Capitan we’ll both remember for a long time.We slept about 3 hours (or less) when we woke up because of the sunrise. We couldn’t wait until the sun arrived to give us some warmth. This was one of the most amazing mornings in my life. We were both super tired but it was too beautiful to be sleeping. That morning it took us 3 hours to go down. Back at Camp 4 we ate for about 3 hours before we chilled out in the hammock or tent. After sleeping and hanging out the whole day I got prepared for the next goal. I was going to climb up to El Cap Spire in the famous route ‘Freerider’ with Niels the rescue guy. Flo was taking an easy day of climbing and did a couple of pitches with a German climber, Andreas.

So Niels and I played around for about 16 hours in Freerider! This amazing day started at 3:30am, after making a good porridge and cutting an apple with a machete we left Camp 4. At 5am we left the base of the climb with just enough light! We cruised the first ten pitches really fast up to the Mammoth ledges. The rhythm we had was really good and fast. It’s nice when things go efficient and fast. Most of the time you lose time at the belay stations. But with a good system you can go more efficient. After the mammoth ledges you make a small rappel and traverse a little. From then on all the ‘wide’ stuff is coming. Big offwidth’s and unprotected chimneys at 200 meter high are waiting for you. Niels (offwidth master) lead the Hollow Flake and I followed. Scary and not much protection, there are pitches you just don’t want to fall or you’re in bad shit! The pitch after the Hollow Flake is an almost unprotected chimney with an easy grade of 5.7! Crazy…, in sport climbing I warm up in 5.12’s. Here I was almost crying in a 5.7! ‘Falling is no option!’
Two pitches after the chimney, Niels lead ‘The Ear’, another chimney but even more exposed! In this one I found a BD # 4.5 (same size as the new BD #5). Awesome!
After this pitch the real deal was coming! The ‘Monster Offwidth’ was ready to eat our body parts! This is the most impressive line I’ve seen in my whole life. A huge crack straight up for about 60 meters with on both sides just a smooth face without any structures or holds! And all this really exposed 400 meters of the ground! Perfect and intimidating line. Not much people are fan of this kind of climbing but I like it. I still think it is the most physical climbing that exists! Respect for the good offwidth climbers! (Niels!)

Me at the end of the 'Monster Offwidth'
After chilling out on El Cap spire we raped down the whole route. At 9pm we arrived at the ground and were both completely done climbing and really tired. I wasn’t really on earth anymore and felt more like a ghost! Everything was hurting and falling of my feet was possible. Never felt like that.The next day only eating and sleeping was accepted. I didn’t move from my crashpad and slept with my head in the bear box! I was lucky to have a Flo next to me who could feed me a little! Thanks man.

After a nice and amusing evening at YOSAR (Yosemite Search and Rescue) Camp we left the Valley yesterday. Now we are on our way to Smith Rock, Oregon, for some crimpy sport climbing!

Yesterday we didn’t do much of the route because we had again some car troubles. When suddenly the car reacted strange we pulled out at a rest area. When I stopped the car the whole engine was smoking like shit! A little stress came up but we both stayed calm and reacted well. By now we know we have a good karma around us and optimism works the best. When we led the engine cool down, again, a nice American man saw we had some problems and was willing to spend some time with us to fix the car. He found out there was an obvious hole in the hose of the radiator, that’s why all the water escaped and the engine overheated! The friendly American gave me some tools from in his car and told me what to do. I’ve disconnected the hose and cut where the hole was. After that I’ve connected the shorter hose again. After that the engine worked perfect again. But because I didn’t want to drive around with so much tension on the hose we went to an Auto parts store and bought a new hose. After I’ve put the new hose on, the car drove perfect and we continued our journey!

Now we are sitting in some grass at a coffee shop in Bend, a city at Oregon. Tonight we’ll sleep at Rian Palo’s place that lives here in Bend. I know Rian from Rifle on my last trip through the states. I know Bend is a beautiful little town. We’ll probably walk a little bit around here before we go climbing tomorrow.

So this was quite a story but I hope you enjoyed reading it!

zondag 12 juni 2011

From roof crack to mega offwidth!

Sitting in a chair at El Cap meadow looking at El Capitan, searching for our next projects. We’re completely worked, I feel every body part screaming for some rest and telling me to never do an offwidth again! But I will!
This is how we’re sitting here right now! Florian sais like he always does: On est bien là!

So why are we so tired today? We had three perfect and beautiful days of trad-climbing! When we got back in The Valley we did some cragging (single pitches) at the Cookie Clif. We tried some harder typical technical Yosemite routes. Perfect preparation for on a multi-pitch.

Our third day we had an easy but a mythic day! We went to the most famous single pitch in The Valley: ‘Separate Reality!’ The approach is funny because you need to rappel down from the top of the climb. First we rappelled down a slab, so we had no idea how the climb would look like. Suddenly the slab ends and you’re hanging in a high open space! Like you can see on the picture below! Before we could climb we had to wait a little because some Japanese climbers where just before us. I tried this mythic line when the Japo’s where done! First you start in a wide crack size #2 – 3 BD Camalot. It was still a little wet but that first part is not too hard. After that the roof starts immediately. The first part of the roof crack is size # 2 – 1 BD Camalot. Perfect hands in a nice roof splitter! What do you want more? …………… The crux at the end!!!
At the end the splitter gets thinner to size #.75. From there you make a big move to a jug and swing your feet over and place a toe hook at the lip of the roof! This move is amazing! In that position you place gear than you reach the lip with your hands next to your foot.

I succeeded doing this line in my first try! I did it flash because I had some Japanese gear-beta: #3 - # 2 – Sushi - #1 - #.75 - …

We also had some time to make a little movie of Separate Reality! Check it out! Definitely watch the last 10 seconds of the movie, the real end!

Yesterday the big and tiring day! Flo and I did ‘Astroman’, 5.11c! This is a perfect line of 12 pitches on ‘The Washington Column’. This is one of the most popular multi-pitch routes next to ‘The Nose’ in Yosemite! It is the free-climb test-piece in the valley, famous for ‘The Enduro Corner’ (4th pitch) , ‘Harding Slot’ (7th pitch) and ‘Changing Corners’ (9th pich). We prepared everything the day before sending! We woke up at 5:45am, ate some bananas and eggs and took off of Camp 4 to realize our goal. The approach took us longer as expected, at 8:30am we found the base of the climb. At 9:00am we left the ground!
Here are all the pitches. I lead most of the harder pitches because of the jamming style that goes well for the moment.

1. 5.7 Lead: Flo
2. 5.10a Lead: Flo
3. 5.11c ‘Boulder Problem’ Lead:Sieb
This short pitch is just two hard moves in a tiny corner crack.
4. 5.11c ‘The Enduro Corner’ Lead:Sieb
This one is a really famous pitch of ‘Astroman’, a long right facing corner that seems to never end.
5. 5.9 Lead: Flo
6. 5.10c Lead:Sieb
7. 5.11b ‘The Harding Slot’ Lead:Sieb
This pitch is by far the hardest pitch of the whole route. It’s an offwidth/ chimney through a roof. Every body part is necessary to send this monster!
8. 5.10c Lead:Flo
9. 5.11a ‘Changing Corners’ Lead:Sieb
The Changing Corners aren’t so hard if you have a sport climbing background! Really technical slabs combined with a thin crack on the right!
10. 5.10a Lead:Sieb
11. 5.7 Lead:Flo
12. 5.10d Lead:Sieb

I on sighted the whole route free without falling or pulling on gear! This is by far my proudest free (on sight) ascent on multi-pitch trad!
The Harding Slot was for me by far the hardest line! It’s a crazy offwidth, really exposed and without any little horizontal holds! I took my helmet off twice because my head was just stuck in this wide crack. I think it took me 40 minutes to climb this bitch!
After I did this line without falling I knew I could send the whole route! I was psyched!

Thanks to Flo for the fast following and for leading some pitches after the physical ones. It’s also really nice to have a fix climbing partner I know. We could move fast and efficient!
At 8:10pm we arrived at the top! The descent we did in the dark, this was still quite an adventure. Hiking down scary slabs at 300 meters high, in the dark. I’m glad nothing happened and we found our way to the Chevy Van!

The harding Slot in Astroman!

Find me deep in there!
On our way down we had good luck we past a small mountain water fall where we could drink some water, because we ran out of water at the summit of the climb. We're not sick now so the water wasn't poisoned.

The first thing we did when we came down at 10:30pm wasn’t eating. We bought our self a doctor pepper and took a 45 minute long shower! Perfect!

Today we take it really easy and are going to make some new plans!

Enjoy the pictures and the movie!

woensdag 8 juni 2011

Gypsie power all around!

Salut tout le monde – Hello everybody!
It’s like this in my head and in conversations since Florian arrived. Switching languages all the time! But it is a good thing because my French wasn’t as good anymore.

After that last rainy day we made an attempt to do ‘Moratorium’, 4 pitches 5.11b. We ended up doing only the 2 first pitches and I tried to lead the third pitch but the crux of this pitch - and also the crux of the whole route – was wet and dripping in my face! So we decided to bail and do something else the rest of the day. We did ‘Serenity Crack’, 3 pitches 5.10d. I already did this route on my second day in the valley but it is such a beautiful line that I didn’t mind doing it again. Flo lead the first and third pitch, so he could feel how it is to lead a perfect and pure crack. He still had to get used to the pure crack climbing but I’m sure it will come soon!

The day after we gave ‘Freeblast’, the first 10 pitches of ‘Salathé Wall’ (=32 pitches on El Cap) a go. We only did the first 6 pitches because we were quite tired. Those where the best pitches of Freeblast. I lead all the first pitches when Flo followed. The third roof pitch I said take, really stupid, but I did the crux in the thin roof first go! After that there was one pitch in a corner with some scary stemming and technical moves! The fifth pitch was first 5.10d scary in a tiny crack with offset nuts as large as my pinky nail. After this section in pitch five the beautiful slab is coming at you! It’s a 5.11c slab and it’s all bolted. So it’s less scary but still pretty hard I fell twice in this section! But I’m sure that I can do it next time!

Those days we didn’t do big stuff but still we both were worked and ready for a rest day! The next day it rained really hard so we couldn’t climb. We saw at the weather forecast that it was going to rain for about 4 days so we pieced out of that bitch-hole! Flo and I left the valley joined by my dear German friend Fabi! We didn’t climb that day but we went to Jailhouse, 1,5 hour out of the valley. Jailhouse is a small overhanging climbing area who stays very dry when it rains!

We slept at a nice and quiet place near Jailhouse on some BLM-land (Bureau of Land Management). The next day we all really enjoyed the sport climbing! It feels good to do a little of sport climbing to let your head relax a little after being high above small gear all the time! I did a couple of 7’s (5.12+/5.13’s) and was surprised that the physical sport climbing went so well. The next day we dropped Fabi off in Stockton where he took the train to San Diego where he is going to study one more year! Crazy that German!
So that day we didn’t climb much, just 4 hours I think!

Jailhouse is a little local crack with big overhang, there are just two 6c’s I thing and all the other lines are harder. It’s definitely a really nice spot to do sport climbing when its wet weather because of the big overhang and it never seeps! The rock is basalt and really nice and sticky to climb on. It’s comparable with Rifle, Colorado, but the rock is stickier and the moves are less complicated. I had to take out my kneepads again to some technical knee bars in the big overhang! This is a really nice training wall if you’re living close to it. It is definitely worth it to visit is to for a couple of climbing days!

Today we took a rest day because the rock in Yoyo-mite will be dry from tomorrow! I also showed Flo how to drive my big Chevy cow! It was so funny to see someone ells having trouble with the wideness and the lose steering wheel of the car!

Tomorrow morning we will go to Yosemite and do some cragging, single pitches all day. One of the single pitch projects is ‘Separated reality’, a nice hands/roof crack! Famous one!

Here a little movie of my Slovenian friends and I in Hueco Tanks and Joshua Tree.

Desert fox from Gašper Bratina on Vimeo.

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