Last Wednesday LA's climbing community came together to check out Stronghold Climbing Gym, the highly anticipated new indoor climbing gym at the Brewery in downtown Los Angeles. Built by climbers for climbers, the new facility boasts 42' climbing walls, bouldering, a full gym, and daily yoga classes all within the walls of the historic Edison Company's #3 Steam Power Plant built in 1904.
Directly after the New Year and our fantastic drive down from Seattle back to our home in Pasadena, I boarded a flight to Utah and the home of our favorite mountain guide Jonathon (see previous post for our thoughts on Jonathon). This trip was going to be something completely new to me and something I have wanted to do fora very long time-Ice Climbing! To me whenever I pictured mountain climbing, and this is before I even thought of trying it, what I pictured was bearded men with backpacks, ice axes in hand and spikes on their feet, so when I did become interested in climbing it was ice climbing that seemed the epitome of the field. It would be a long time til I swung an axe, but that day finally came as I arrived in Utah to great ice conditions and weather and at the foot of a route called "Stairway to Heaven", I was told it was named after some song. Jonathon gave me some tips and we practiced on some very low angle snow and ice. Then we roped up for some top roping.
It was amazing and tiring on my calves. We then did two mini pitches on the bottom of the route to practice for "The Great White Icicle" which is a multi-pitch route Jonathon would lead me on in two days time. We finished with a steeper pitch which had my arms screaming, it was awesome.
The next day we woke up early to attempt Superior Peak, a really aesthetic peak with a jagged ridge leading to it. The people skiing at the Snowbird resort who's helipad and chalet are directly across the street have a great view of it. Jonathon broke trail for us sometimes going deep into the snow past his knee, he is 6' 2' so it got pretty deep on this "low" snow year. We hiked up a couloir to the saddle, took a break and then headed onto the ridge, because of conditions we turned back and did have good fun bounding down thesteep snowy couloir. Since that day ended a little early Jonathon took me to the Black Diamond store located near by. The manufacturing is done right below the store which was pretty cool to think about. We ended the day at a local climber/skier spot called "The Porcupine" with some wings.
Game Day - Woke up at a reasonable hour had some coffee and headed to "The Great White Icicle," a super popular WI3 climb part way up Little Cottonwood Canyon. It had been lightly snowing all morning and the short approach had a true winter wonderland vibe. At the end of the day I would have a lot of firsts under my belt - first multi-pitch route (more than 2 pitches), first time using a 2 rope system, and first hanging belay (off 2 ice screws no less). The ice was great and made me pretty confident. It was strange looking at the route in books and then on site the pitches I was worried about were my favorite and the ones I thought wouldn't be too bad were taxing. I'm still so new to this, but all these firsts I really savored cause you just get one first time. The whole route was super magical, we could hear the water running under us as we climbed and it was snowy and misty giving a very alpine feel even though we could almost see our car from the top. The walk off was through fresh deep snow that was really fun to walk through and think about the day.
Now one thing I have not mentioned is all these great venues are within an hour of downtown Salt Lake City. Utah is the spot for climbing of all kinds within close proximity to one another. Get out there!
So thank you Jonathon and Utah, it was a blast!
This spring we went out to Alabama Hills near the foot of Mt.Whitney and took part in the Sierra Club Rock Checkout, as with all of the Sierra Club LTC (Leadership Training Course) requirements that we have undertaken this year we learned a lot, got to show off our own skills, and met some really cool people. Saveria and I both received our M Rock rating and I got to practice some E Rock skills with great instructors and get some valuable experience. Alabama Hills is a spot you can't miss as it is passed on your way to the Whitney Portal. We passed it ourselves earlier this year on our way to the Mountaineers Route in April. For the first time we got out and played a bit on the rocks saying to each other it would be fun to come back and climb here, a few months later we were back ready to climb.
I got to drive out early with a couple of our mentors, Patrick and Dan, to get an extra climbing day, little did I know a special moment was hours away. There are some fun sports climbs in the Alabama Hills area and we went over to a wall that had a good progression of grades so Patrick and I started climbing and we worked over to a 2 pitch 5.6, Patrick lead up to the first set of anchors and set up a top rope for me. I climbed the fun friction route and I felt pretty strong. When I got down Patrick asked if I wanted to lead it, I looked at him and said yes, yes I do. I gathered my quick draws and Patrick pulled down the rope and I tied in to the Sharp End. I started up and a whole new world opened up, I climbed to the end of the first pitch and clipped the chains. I came down to high fives from some people I really admired which was fantastic I tried to call Bob right away, but he was on another trip. That was the start of the weekend.
The following days were full of a lot of great experiences and great people. Over the two days days we had to show knowledge of a number of climbing related skills and proficiency in using them. Upon demonstrating our ability to perform and use the various skills safely we passed the checkout. We are on our way to our official Sierra Club leader's ratings which feels great!
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The surprise of the weekend was discovering great Chinese food in Lone Pine at Merry- Go-Round! The owners went above and beyond to accommodate our large group without reservations even asking other patrons to switch tables so we could all sit together. The food was tasty and a welcome change to pizza or burgers... the normal Lone Pine options.
As part of our ongoing training for the Forbidden Peak trip we were spending a lot of time in the local mountains. Norman had done so well in Bishop that we took the boy with us on one of our training hikes. He made it all the way to the ski hut on the trail up to Baldy, 2500' of gain in 2.5 miles. We were very proud parents and enjoyed passing a number of very surprised hikers.
Because he is a Bulldog we are limited in what adventures he can partake in due to the risk of him overheating due to his smooshy face. This weekend we enjoyed a Norman paced weekend making sure our couch was still nap worthy and catching up with friends.
[gallery type="rectangular" ids="1059,1051,1050,1060,1048,1049,1058,1057,1056,1055,1054,1053,1047,1052"] Over the 4th of July weekend Saveria and I traveled up to Bishop with a car load of our regular adventure mates to another of our good friends' house. The weekend was filled with most of our favorite things: we did a little climbing at a cool spot our host had found, we headed to higher elevation for some hiking, we managed to find time for some serious relaxing and we all had a great time joined by some new friends and Norman, our bulldog, who did a little bouldering himself.
In the evenings we ate really well, drank some and laughed a lot, we even saw some fireworks on the horizon on the 4th.
Friday we braved the heat and heading to find some a climbing spot. We found a beautiful spot, but triple digit heat made it hard to stay out too long.
On Saturday we decided to go for a quick hike around Rock Creek Lake. After getting some pie at the Pie in the Sky Cafe we hit out on the trail with Norman in tow and we set out around the lake. It was nice and cool at that altitude which was a nice break from the 100 degree weather down in Bishop. We didn't have a plan or a map so our simple little hike turned into a fun mini-adventure. We ended UP above the lake and have to work our way down. Norman worked on his bouldering skills and did a great job.
The next day we set up the slackline for everyone to try and it was a hit. The best part was the group energy of everyone encouraging others to give it a go.
The weekend was great fun and we got to spend time with some of our favorite people and meet some cool new ones. We can't believe that Labor Day is basically here... where has the summer gone???
We headed back up Icehouse Canyon today to venture onto Ontario Peak. On the way up we saw over a dozen people coming down after spending the night to see the Perseid Meteor Shower. Unfortunately it peaks tomorrow night so the campers only saw a couple of meteors. We also met a boy scout troop on the way up to Icehouse Saddle.
TRAIL SHOUT OUT! We want to congratulate Troop #652 for not only getting to Icehouse saddle, but making their way on to Cucamonga Peak! We hope you all had a great day in the mountains.
We then made our way onto Ontario Peak. I was not feeling great so I hung out Kelly Camp and made friend with a tree to nap under while Jason and Paul headed up to the peak. They found a nifty treasure and are starting a new outdoor photo trend in honor of John Muir, "Muiring". We would love to you a pic of you in nature "Muiring" so post them to our FB page if you are so inclined!
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Both guys said the peak was great!
This last month has been non-stop... work, life, family, travel, fun, frustration, relaxation. The AdventurUs took a bit of a back seat in the craziness... working on fixing this. Posts will be coming... may be a little out of order, but hey so is life sometimes! I started this post over a month ago... and back then it started with "It takes a village". I am thankful for my village... I pride myself on being strong, independent, and ready to take on any challenge. The reality is I am only as strong as the people that I surround myself with, I am dependent on the kindness of my loved ones who encourage my independence, while letting me be dependent on them and I am ready for any challenge in my life with the support of my village. Below is the post that I have been trying to finish... it is about someone who is a part of my village.
It Take A Village!
Strength... Maybe it was the big 4-0 or maybe it was the physical challenges of Whitney's Mountaineer Route looming, but no matter the reason I decided I needed some help working on my fitness. There was no question who I would ask for this help... I needed a person who would be fun, patient, and willing to kick my a&&!
Enter Samir. I met Samir 7 years ago when we joined the 24 Hour Fitness in Altadena. When Paul & I joined the gym we each got 3 session with a trainer, I was lucky enough to get Samir as my personal trainer. At the time I did not sign up for additional sessions. To be honest, I have been a spotty gym goer at best, I did not go to the gym at all for months at a time, and yet without fail when I did show up Samir would greet me with a huge smile and "Hi Saveria!" He would ask how I was, ask about Paul, let me know he was happy to see me at the gym again and then go on with his business. It is such a little thing, but his happy genuine kindness speaks volumes about who he is. When I decided to sign up for PT sessions there was no other option for me but him. You can imagine my disappointment when the front desk told me he was booked for months... I needed him now. The next time I saw him I asked if he could recommend another trainer because he was booked. Luckily he had some clients going on vacation, so I started filling in these spots until I could snag a regular time.
Samir keeps every session fun and makes sure they are never the same so I don't get bored. He has me laughing and having a good time even when I am struggling. I watch him greet people as they come into the gym, some are obviously people he knows well and others he has never met, but it doesn't matter. What matters to him is that people feel welcome and you can tell by their smiles they do.
He has been very patient about my work schedule and needing to be flexible. Late night cancellations, needing to find an earlier time slot to accommodate work, whatever I throw at him he catches and makes it work. Not once has he made me feel bad.
Samir has me focused on strength exercises specific to climbing, hiking, mountaineering. - balance, core, stability, and endurance. Since working with Samir, I have become a huge fan of TRX, the Bosu ball and the Dynamax balls which we use for all sorts of core, strength and stability work. The sessions fly by as he kicks my a&& and makes sure I am pushing myself. My Whitney trip was a huge success and I have never felt stronger on a mountaineering trip. I am hoping that I will feel the same for Forbidden Peak!
The one thing he can't help with, that I need to do on my own... is work on my diet and get my butt in gear on the days I don't see him!
Thanks Samir for being you.
Great day hiking to Cucamonga Peak via the Ice House Canyon Trail with our friend Jason. We are all training for upcoming trips. This was just what we needed - 12 miles round trip.... Great weather... Beautiful scenery... Good day! TRAIL SHOUT OUT- thanks to Mike and Mohawk for the great company on the way down from the saddle.