Finding My Vertical Limit on Forbidden Peak 🏔

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Last week I set off on another adventure with my son Ryan. He calls these “mom and Ryan adventures.” We have had several of these in the past, not all of them have been, what you might call routine😂 We have had some, let’s go with interesting, escapades.

This one was pretty straightforward. We would drive 3 and 1/2 hours north to a town called Marblemount, where we would obtain a backcountry camping permit. Then hike 4 miles (with 3,000 ft+ elevation gain) to the base of the glacier and make camp. The next day we would hike up the glacier, climb Forbidden Peak (which is a traverse across the top ridge at 8,816 ft) tag the summit, then reverse the climb, rappelling back onto the glacier, hike down back to camp, break down the camp and hike the 4 miles back out.

Simple, right 😳

It all started out as planned. We made it to the ranger station at Marblemount by 6am and obtained the last permit! We made our way to the parking lot and set out on the hike.

The thing about this type of hiking is that you need to carry EVERYTHING with you! That means it’s all on your back, and I had to borrow a pack that, of course, did not fit me quite right. But, that was ok, I can handle a 4 mile hike. On the way up we were treated to some pretty views

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We had several river crossings to complete to get to the campgrounds. Ryan took a few videos of me (slowly) making my way across.

 

Ryan took a moment to point out our climb! He pointed out this ridge as “Forbidden Peak”

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Our route would be to ascend up the gully on the left, then traverse over to the summit under the arrow on the right.

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Ok, so I am fine with that!! It looks fun😍 and we keep hiking. Until Ryan, who is quite far ahead of me, suddenly stops. I figure he is waiting for me, but when I catch up to him, he doesn’t advance. I say “what’s wrong” to which he replies “bear”

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Huh, this is new! We have never run into a bear on our adventures. In fact, I was really hoping to see some mountain goats, this was pretty cool! He wasn’t too interested in us (fortunately!)

Our path went up and around, away from the big critter, so we just kept on going!

We made our way to the campsite, which had gorgeous views! And this creek was our water source.

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We pitched the tent, next to another two climbers. It didnt take too much longer before our buddy, the black bear, wandered into our camp 😂

You can see him behind our green tent.

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The bear crossed between our fellow camper/climber and the other man, who was next to Ryan and myself.

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I took a video of him as he went on his way!

 

With the bear exiting and the excitement abated, Ryan immediately took a nap!

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And I had a cup of instant coffee!

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And went for a look around as Ryan brilliantly snoozed. Looking back I wish I had tried harder to get some sleep, not really knowing how taxing the next day would be! But, instead I went for a walk around.

Check out the composting toilet in the lower corner of this pic. Not much privacy or comfort, but what a view!!

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I got a closer look at the gully we would be approaching early the next morning.

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I had an unflavored snow cone from this snow pack 😋

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When I got back, we ate dinner, watched Meru on Ryan’s phone, and went to sleep. Well, Ryan slept!

The alarm went off at 4:30am, a proper alpine start for our long day. We got up, ate and geared up for the hike and climb. One thing that is significant to this story is that I have never used crampons or climbed a glacier before. This is not a huge glacier but it is very steep! This also meant that we would spend the entire day, hiking and climbing, in 3/4 shank snow boots (not climbing shoes and this was very new to me!!)

The sun began rising as we made our way to the glacier

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Getting up the glacier with crampons and the ice ax, went slowly but overall, not too bad

We were getting closer to the actual rock!!!

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Finally, it was time to start climbing! 🌟

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The next few hours saw Ryan and I simul climbing the route. He did stop a few times to belay me or place some pro, just in case. But overall we moved pretty efficiently!

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We stored our snow gear here for the return trip

 

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Summit selfie and video. It only took 6 hours to hit the summit

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Now, to get down 😲 This is where I struggled!

Check out Ryan working the boulder problem on the turn around

 

Yes, I did this too, but not as gracefully! We had a series of short rope sections as well as several rappels, which were fine with me. It was when we rapped onto the very steep glacier where my world began to disintegrate!!

We landed on the glacier at 3pm, just when the sun had been on it for most of the afternoon, so the snow was too soft for crampons and Ryan showed me how to do a self arrest. This is when you are sliding down the glacier and need to use your ice ax to stop your fall.

Sure enough, I slipped and went hurtling down the steepest section of the glacier. I twisted and dug in my ax but didn’t stop for about 35-40 feet 😳 Ryan was just setting up his save of me, when I finally stopped myself. It was terrifying for me, and of course it happened again, but Ryan grabbed my pack when I went flying by him!

I was going so slow! Trying to kick in my steps so that it wouldn’t happen again! So it took a long time to get back to camp. Once there, we still had to eat something, pack up the camp (back onto our backs) and start the 4 mile hike out!

We started that hike at 7PM, and we really wanted to get across those river crossings before dark. Of course I was getting slower as it grew darker so we didn’t make it to the car until 11PM, and I was shot! EVERYTHING hurt!

We were both exhausted, Ryan slept some while I started the 3 and 1/2 hour drive home. We stopped at a Denny’s around 1am, I needed coffee to stay awake and we both needed some food.

We got to bed around 3am, a full 22 hour day!!😩 talk about exhausted! My feet were thrashed, and it would take a week before I could even put some of my shoes on!

So, did I enjoy this climb? Yes! The climb, not the glacier😤 Even the hiking would have been fine, if we had done this as a three day trip, instead of two.

Tomorrow, I leave for a climbing trip, just climbing!!! No glaciers in site!🗻

 

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Climbing Adventures at Smith Rock State Park

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I am finally sitting down to write up our wonderful trip to Smith Rock State Park 🏔😊

We went as a family, all four of us, two years ago. This is where I did my first outdoor lead, and I was so excited to return with Ryan! This time I went as one of his paid clients. Ryan, and another guide, Simon Swalwell, are both working for Miyar Adventures. The two of them were in charge of myself, Ed Murray and a new outdoor climber, Brandon Harker.

We had five days to fit in as many climbs as possible! Ryan and I left Redmond, WA on a Sunday. It takes about 6 hours to drive to Terrebonne, Oregon

So we packed up my car and started driving

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It was the Sunday of Memorial day weekend, but we were still able to get a great campsite. The Bivouac campground has some really great facilities, including a hot shower and charging station for your electronics. I was rather pleased with that!

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And, you can’t beat the view! It was a long day of driving and we were pretty hungry. So, the first, and let’s be honest, several more stops that week, was at the Terrebonne Depot.

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We met up with Simon and Brandon to discuss logistics for the next day over dinner. And, we filled Ed in later at the campsite. We had a good plan and we were all happy to be there.

Let’s take a moment to meet the group! As I said before, Ryan and Simon are the tireless guides, Ed and I have been to Smith before and Brandon was the greenhorn 😊

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Day1: Our first objective was to climb “Voyage of the Cow Dog” which would put us at the top of Picnic Lunch Wall. This is a 5.9, three pitch climb that is generally straight forward and a great way to start the trip. This was also Brandon’s very first outdoor climb, so we really wanted to ease him into it.

We first had to hike to the base of the route, which was a nice view all on its own,

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Brandon supervised the guides as they organized the gear😂

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Ryan led Ed and I up first

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Then Simon and Brandon came up

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The weather was good and the view, great from the top!

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Brandon totally crushed it!

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This was a gorgeous climb 🌟

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While this was only three pitches, it took the majority of the day. Brandon was definitely thrilled to complete this climb, but he did seem to be rethinking the need to do multi pitches 😂😂😂 We decided to get back to the campsite and head to The Redpoint. This is my new favorite store! The have coffee, beer and gear so, something for everyone!

We regrouped and swapped photos and I had several cups of much needed caffeine ☕️

Day 2 was “Dirty Pinkos” day. Brandon wasn’t feeling well and decided to take the morning climb to recover. So, it was Ryan, Simon, Ed and I on this one.

The four of us hiked over to the Red Wall for this “classic” route. This was my first time up Dirty Pinkos. It’s a four pitch climb, but with a long traverse on pitch 3.

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Getting ready to go

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I am belaying Ryan on the traverse pitch, while Simon is on his way up

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Ryan got all three of us in this shot.

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At the top!

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A video from the top

 

We made our way down the Misery Trail (appropriately named😳) and met up with Brandon, who was not a lot better but still willing to do some single pitch climbing.

We went over to the Dihedrals to climb “Cinnamon Slab”, and a few other routes, including “Wherever I May Roam”. But, I don’t have any pictures 😲

DAY 3 found us all a little tired, so we decided to play it closer to the ground. We made our way back to the Dihedrals for some sport climbs

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I sent a couple lead routes

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Brandon did a great job👊🏼

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In the afternoon, Ryan ran a trad class for a couple of us

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Back up Cinnamon Slab!

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This was the hottest day of the week! I made a water run at one point, and was definitely ready to head back to camp for a cool shower.

On the way back I ran into these cute marmots, which are all over central Oregon

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Day 4 was the morning that we said good-bye to Brandon and Simon, as they were only there for three days.

That meant that Ryan, Ed and I were now on our own! Something that I should mention here is that Ed was my coffee hero!!

Every morning, I would make a pot of coffee on the camp stove

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But it was never enough! Ed would also go to Redpoint in the morning and bring me a delicious Latte!☕️ Thank God for my coffee fairy❤️ because, each day, I was getting sorer and more tired😅 and we still had some serious climbing to do!

Day 4 was “Marsupials Traverse” day! This is a long day, to be sure! It’s quite a hike to get to the wall, and then we had 10 pitches and 3 raps to complete, all before the weather rolled in. Spoiler alert: We made it💕

The view is totally worth it!

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This pitch has a rather unique squeeze!

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I love this picture of Ed!

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This was his first time on this route, and I think he really enjoyed it!

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Ryan is always happy out here 😊

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lunch break, and check out the dark sky!

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Ryan and Ed starting a rappel

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This was an awesome, and long day! This also marked our last night at the camp as we all would be leaving after the climb the next day. So we hit the “town” and had one last dinner together.

Day 5, the final day, and I was tired😳 Had a few blisters on my feet, and the hands were definitely missing some skin 😂

But this was the climb I had been looking forward to the most! Monkey Face. It is hard to get a good pic of the rock when you are on foot, so I grabbed on from the internet

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This is a 350 ft tower, and the depression at the top is a cave, known as the mouth of the monkey. The red line indicates one of the routes, we did a variation.

We went up the Pioneer route which includes an aid climbing route, that was new to me!

Ed has done this climb before, and as a guide, Ryan has done it several times.

I was so excited!! We went up the Misery Trail, which was as fun as it sounds.

 

Here is Ed, coming up the second pitch

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At the bottom of the third pitch, the aid route

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Ryan led up

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Then it was Ed’s turn

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Then I had to figure it out! Ed took these photos of me, flopping my way up😂

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But we were in the mouth!!

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we were not alone in the mouth! This is Shane, and he was rope soloing this climb!

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Rope soloing means you have the safety of the rope, but no one is belaying, so Shane had to rig a lot of rope on his own

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This was his Tyrollean Traverse set up, so he could get down after his summit

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We made it!! The summit of Monkey Face🐵

 

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All that was left was the 250ft rappel 😉

What a blast this trip was! I was so tired by the end and Ryan and I still had more climbing to do in Colorado (but that is for another post😆)

I am so grateful to Ed, Simon, Brandon and Ryan for making this such a fun trip. If you are looking for some excellent, knowledgable and safe guides, check out Miyar Adventures! They know rocks🏔

 

 

Friends with (Climbing) Benefits: MT Lemmon Style👊🏼

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I am just days away from heading off to yet, another climbing adventure, with the child on top of this rock with me. And, I realized that I have not posted about all the fun we had the first 4 months of this year 😳 I am so behind on my blog!!

One reason I haven’t blogged about this period of time is that I had soooo many pictures to sort through! Much like the trip I made this time last year, with my blog buddies in Montreal. I have been blessed with an abundance of riches 😊 Just like then, I had to sit down and force myself to pick the best moments out of a mountain of happy memories. So, here it goes!

Our first stroke of good fortune was that our son, Ryan, decided to spend the winter months with us in Tucson. He stayed from January to April, which meant I had an outdoor climbing buddy at all times 😆 The second was that our dirtbag pals (a dirtbag is a person who lives in a van, traveling from one climbing area to another for weeks, months or years at a time) made a stop at our place! Joan and Dean are on a mission to climb and visit every national park and climbing area in the US🌟

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Left to right: Dean, Dennis, Joan, Ryan and me

There is no way I could document every time we were out cragging. Often there was some subset of this group out, and with other local folks mixed in, climbing, biking, or at an acro yoga class! This was an intense period of physical activity to be sure! So I will attempt to hit the highlights.

One of the earliest trips up the mountain involved all five of us. We made our way up to Goosehead rock, which has several routes of varying difficulty. This is a mile past Windy Point, as you head up MT Lemmon.

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Dean belaying Dennis

 

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Dennis is on the left, at the top and Ryan is leading a harder route on the right

 

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Joan and Ryan met while working at Vertical World, and have been serious buds ever since!

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Joan on the left, cruising past me on the right 😂

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Yes, Dean is wearing shorts even though there is snow on the ground. That’s just how he rolls👊🏼

As you can see, we had a colder than usual winter in Tucson this year. More snow and rainfall than usual. This meant that we had to get out whenever we could get a weather break. And, sometimes we had to head indoors to get in a climb.

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Dean is patiently waiting for me to figure out this 5.10c lead beta, he looks thrilled! 😂

We did get another chance to make it up to the Windy Point climbing area. Unfortunately Dennis was working and Joan was not feeling well, so it was just Ryan, Dean and myself. I say it was unfortunate because this was, by far, my favorite day of climbing😊 The sun was out and we hit up two of the most picturesque climbing areas on the mountain.

We set our sights on Hitchcock Pinnacle Rock first. I have wanted to get on top of this the moment I laid eyes on it last year 😍

We had the area to ourselves, and made a simple plan. Ryan would go up first, leading the easiest route on the right (5.7) and then belay up me, and then Dean.

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A huge thank you to Dean for these great photos! I will cherish these always❤️

Now it was Dean’s turn!

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Of course, summit selfies at the top of all of us!

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Dean is King of the World! 

 

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I love the reflections in Ryan’s glasses

 

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There is another route, a slightly harder (5.10a) on the left side that we wanted to try. So we rappelled down and went back up! Check out the right side of the tower, see that ledge? near the base? The climber has to pull over that roof.

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After we finished playing here😆 The guys wanted a bigger challenge. We made our way a short distance to the other side so they could climb Steve’s Arete.

This is a gorgeous climb and a 5.11a, not something I wanted to try, so I just took the pics

I believe that Dean went first

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then Ryan

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Both of these guys are strong climbers, and they struggled at times to send it. When Dean said “now it’s DeeDee’s turn”, I said “pass”! Next time😲 maybe.

Of course, they were interested in the harder route on the right, “Green Ripper” is a 5.12b and it took Ryan several tries to send it, but he got it!

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You can see his climb here: on his youtube channel! Its a three minute video.

After this the weather turned cold again, so our next two trips out had to be at lower elevation on the moutain. We made our way to La Milagrosa canyon a couple times, which required passing through some water. Off came the shoes😂

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The first time found us at a crag called “the beach”, mainly because it is always in the sun☀️ Ryan spent a long time working an overhanging 5.12, he came close but didn’t quite send it. It did make for some pretty pics!

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The second time we hit up the “Main Wall” I really liked this area, even managed a few lead climbs myself 👊🏼

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Joan on lead, with Dean belaying

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the belayer does not seem to be paying attention!

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Ryan’s happy to get this 5.12b “Ecstatic Electricity”

The weather shut us down for a few days for climbing. So Joan and I did some partner yoga🧘🏻‍♀️because of course, who wouldn’t!

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Did I mention that Joan is crazy!! I guess I am too 🤪

Our last climb was back at Windy Point, but Hawk Rock this time

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Dean in space

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While the guys worked on a couple routes, Joan and I climbed up the back way to watch from the top. We also wanted to take a look at a slack line that was set up on a nearby peak.

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It was such a windy day, we never saw anyone try to cross this!

 

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Dean topping out

 

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I’m just goofing around here, but the rock was a little sharp 😉

After a few other climbs, here and there, Joan and Dean departed for Red Rocks in Vegas. They would be meeting up with Ryan while he worked his way northward. It was sad to see them go, but we are all planning on climbing again next winter.

It was time for our daughter, Alex, to visit for the weekend. Alex, Ryan and I went to “Crags Against Humanity” which is low on the mountain and very easy to get to from the car. We went so Alex could get in a few climbs, and to help Ryan train for a rock rescue drill that he needed to perform at his AMGA rock guide II course that he would be taking at Red Rocks.

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Alex’s first lead at MT Lemmon

 

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My turn to lead

 

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Ryan “rescuing” me, I am supposed to be unconscious! 

 

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And I am saved!!

So now I am caught up!! Until Monday (three days from now) when Ryan and I start climbing at Smith Rock State Park. We went as a family two years ago! I wrote a post about it but I haven’t been back, until now.

So excited, and lucky, to get to climb with my kids💕

If you want to learn more about Joan and Dean’s adventures, you can find them on Instagram @love2dirtbag

Ryan is on IG @rtillson_  and he posts climbing videos at youtube: Ryan Tilley

OR click here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6kqvEAyZZHVkIjfLCRo0Yw

 

 

 

 

Climbing and Hiking in Red Rock Canyon, Vegas Baby! 🧗‍♀️❤️

Meet the climbers😊

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Climbing trips are a fluid affair. So many factors have to come together to make these happen. Weather changes, people pop in and out, skin rips and muscle aches can get in the way…. You get the idea.

I tried to remember all this, and temper my excitement for this adventure. But how can you not get excited? Look at the beauty of this place! 😊

The genesis for this trip began months earlier, when our son, Ryan, told us he would be joining us in Tucson for the winter months. Of course, we would be climbing in Arizona, but what else could we do? Ryan had the answer to that! Red Rock Canyon is only a six-hour drive away, and just outside of Las Vegas, so plenty of campsites, hotels and restaurants in the nearby area. So, the planning began…..

 

While Dennis and I drove from Redmond, WA to the Rose bowl in Pasadena, Ryan and his buddy, Elle, would head directly to Arizona (with our cat in their car 😼), and we would all meet up at our house, in Tucson.

Ryan and Elle spent a couple of days at our house, recuperating from the 22+ hour, marathon drive, with Monti. By the way, the cat did great in the car 😲. We were all shocked by that! Which gave the three of us an opportunity to do a little climbing at MT Lemmon.

The following day, Ryan and Elle set out for Red Rocks. Dennis and I would not leave for another couple of days, this gave Ryan and Elle an opportunity to climb without us slowing them down! They are both very strong, and fast climbers!

Finally, we packed our car and set out, I was getting very excited🤩

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We arrived later in the day, as the sun was beginning to lower. Ryan wanted to send his project, a route called “Yin and Yang“, which turned out to be a 5.11a trad, crack climb found in Gateway Canyon.

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Look at this monster!

The hike to get there was rather steep, but Dennis and I welcomed the chance to move around, after the 6 hour drive. But, when we saw this….😳 gulp!  Ryan asked me to film his attempt.

The hike into Gateway Canyon was quite pretty.

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And Dennis found a great spot to watch Ryan climb

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As the light was fading, it was time for his best shot 🤞

 

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Ryan preparing to climb

Here are a few shots of him sending this!

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And the full video, which is 4 minutes long

The rest of us hiked to the top to check out the anchor Ryan had to build.

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That’s my foot at the top, looking back down to the start of the climb

Pretty cool, huh?! This will never be me 😂 We all hiked out and had a good dinner!

The next day, it was our turn to lay hands on the sandstone, for the first time! We went to Cannibal Crag in the Calico Basin area. The route I am on is “A Man in Every Pot”. It is only a 5.8, but my first lead on this rock. I would eventually repeat this climb again on the last day of the trip, and was much more efficient on it 😊

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I set the rope for Dennis so he could top rope it.

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Elle took a turn on one of the nearby 5.11 routes

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Dennis and I climbed another of the lower rated routes

Then we went around the corner, to the sunny side of the rock-it was a cool day with plenty of wind.😬

These routes on this side were harder, so Ryan and Elle had projects to work on.

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This was also Elle’s last day 😔 Ryan took her to the airport while Dennis and I played around on Caustic, a 5.11b route that we could top rope. We gave it a couple tries but did not send it. Next time!!

Since Dennis and I were on our own for the afternoon, we went back for lunch and then decided some hiking would be in order.

You do not have to be into climbing to enjoy this park. There are tons of hikes, from very easy to quite difficult, to give you an amazing experience😄

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As you can see by the clouds building up behind us, weather in the Las Vegas area was preparing to change. We would stay dry through this hike, but forecasters were calling for rain, pretty much any day now.

We made our way to the visitor center, which was basically empty at this time of week and day. We did get our first wild burro sighting!

We toured around the visitor center, but got bored, fast!

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We needed to get out and hike!

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panoramic shot from the visitor’s center

We chose, what we would later come to understand, as the least attractive hike from the visior center. Still, not too shabby!

The next day was “arrival day”, Andy Nelson would be joining us in the afternoon. Since we needed to pick him up from the airport, and the threat of rain was in the air, we opted for another hike, which is faster than a day of climbing. We did a few miles in Pine Creek Canyon.

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We split up here. Ryan and Andy went out to climb for the second half of the day, Dennis and I decided to give them some space. We did want to climb however, so we went to a nearby, indoor gym.

Red Rocks Climbing Center

This is an old school gym, taped routes, but lots of them! We concentrated on bouldering and treated it as a training day. We met up with Andy and Ryan for dinner and said good-bye to Dennis, as he was driving home, to Tucson, early the next day😔.

The following morning, I was on my own. Andy and Ryan were off to do a long, multi pitch route, and I would meet them later in the afternoon to climb (if the weather held out 🤞). I went for a run, which turned out to be a good cross training moment!

After a late lunch, the three of us returned to Cannibal Crag for some sport climbing.

I really only had time for one lead climb, but I was happy to get out there!

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I was surprised by this run out at the top! The route, “Caliban”, had three bolts and then quite a bit of unprotected climbing to the anchor. It was only a 5.8,  but still. A fall here would have been a decent drop, and a fair pendulum swing 😲, but I sent it.

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Ryan pretty much took the rest of the daylight working on his project, “Fear This Sport”, a 5.12b/c climb. Andy was there for him!

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Ryan did not get this one. And, we were running out of daylight!

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It was actually quite dark, and cold at this point

We hiked out with head lamps and crashed early that night.😂

The following, and last full day, was difficult as the weather was really unpredictable and we were all feeling a little sore from all the activity of the last few days. We started out with a multi pitch in mind, but then aborted when we saw the massive drainage ditches that would control any flash flooding that may occur.

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Andy checking out our options!

This ended up being another hike, but with full gear😬

Off to another, safer area, at least from a weather perspective! Dog Wall had several, not simple routes. Andy started off looking for something easy, but we never found it😂

Then Ryan dove in!

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As did Andy!

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I was just a cold belay bitch at this point!!😂😂😂

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And photographer,

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This is nearby, Circus Wall. I would like to come back to this one!

We ate lunch and went back to Cannibal Crag for a few last pitches, just as the rain drops began falling.

That’s when the rain hit, hard! Ryan and I decided to end our trip early because sandstone requires a full 24 hours to dry out before you can resume climbing. And, the forecast was for several days of rain.

We had one last half day, so Andy, Ryan and I went back to Red Rocks Climbing Center for the rainy morning.

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While the guys lead, I bouldered and traversed. Another good training session for me😊

Even though it rained, we did get a special treat! Alex Honnold and Brad Gobright were both there, training!!! 🤩 So cool to see climbing celebrities. And, no I did not get pictures of them, I would never bother them that way. I guess you will just have to believe me💕

Our last official order of business, before driving away, was to have lunch at one of Andy’s favorite restaurants.

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Momofuku is a Japanese restaurant in The Cosmopolitan Casino, located on the strip. It was my first time eating authentic ramen. Wow, pretty good stuff 😋

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We all ordered the same dish! I really liked it, and would definitely go again😄

Same with Red Rocks! There are so many climbs, and so little time! Thank you Ryan, Dennis, Elle and Andy, for sharing this adventure with me! Love you all❤️

Learning From a Pro: Food Photography & Food Styling Workshop 📸

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I was blessed to have such an amazing summer! So many wonderful trips and fantastic experiences 😊. Here we are in November, about a week from Thanksgiving, and I am still playing catchup with my blog!!😳

This food photography workshop, which I attended in early October,  is just one of those amazing experiences. I first learned of Clare Barboza from a friend in Seattle.  Leslie, my friend of many years, knew about my passion for baking and had seen many of my photos on Instagram. Probably why she recommended Clare’s workshop to me 🤣😂🤣! I’m kidding! Leslie has always been very supportive of my crazy Insta adventures.

When I first began researching this opportunity, Clare was splitting her time between her two studios, one in downtown Seattle and the other in Vermont. She has since chosen to focus her business at the Vermont location, which better supports her family. I instantly fell in love with her photography style and decided, rather quickly, that I wanted to attend her weekend workshop where she would educate us on lighting, composition, and use of props in food styling. I had never been to Vermont, and it would be in the fall when everyone says it is gorgeous, so I signed up!

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Brattelboro is a cute, little town that I really did not explore 😔 I did not leave myself enough time to poke around! I flew in late Friday and out early Monday, leaving two full days to absorb as much photography knowledge as possible (and hit a local climbing gym 😉, priorities you know).

Clare’s studio is beautiful, bright and full of fantastic props for her photography.

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The left side of the studio is all windows, allowing the natural light to stream in during a large portion of the day.

Clare prefers natural light and the large set of windows allows her to alter the directionality as the day progresses.

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It helps to have a fully functional kitchen when specializing in food photography

Clare’s husband helped her remodel the kitchen area, which is airy and bright. Pretty handy guy to have around!! And, check out the view from the kitchen window.🌳

She wanted to divide this large space, and used these vintage window frames. I loved the look of these, and had to snap a pic.

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The other half of the studio was full of props! I was so jealous😂. I had a ball picking out surfaces of various colors and textures.

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Clare’s husband made these boards, again, a handy dude!

She also had vinyl surfaces of various colors and textures to choose from for backgrounds.

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Her collection of place settings!! Anything you could think of was available to enhance our scenes. Dishes, cups, silverware, bowls ….. I was in heaven💕

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This is only a portion of the full collection

We would begin each day with a short lecture/discussion about a certain topic. If you have ever attended a photography class, you will have heard of many of these same themes.

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The class getting ready to learn

Clare mixes concepts with actual hands on practice. I loved this! We had many opportunities to hone our skills. We began with a discussion on light and how to redirect it when needed. We also talked about composition, leading lines and depth of field. Many of these are topics covered in any photography class, but Clare gave us tips and ideas specific to food. And, she shared many of her gorgeous pictures and how she set them up.

Throughout the two days, we would be given five assignments. We could take as many pictures as we wanted, but had to choose one or two, from each task, for a critique on the last day. This was harder than it sounded! Sometimes I had many pictures I liked and others I couldn’t find one😲!

Our first assignment was to shoot a drink with backlighting. She provided us with different colored drink mixes, garnishes and sent us to work! At first I was not very comfortable just grabbing her supplies, and I was overwhelmed by so many options to choose from! I took over a hundred pictures and kept only 10! A theme that I would repeat many times over the course of the weekend.

I tried to challenge myself to create two different looks with this assignment.

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This was a backlit, fresh and airy feel

 

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Here I used the same drink but went for a more holiday, evening look.

Our next assignment was to photograph a charcuterie display. Clare set out a huge array of meats, cheeses, crackers and assorted goodies. This is my heaven!🥖🧀🍎

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She demonstrated her thought process, how she would approach this shoot.

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She told us the mood, or feel she was trying to create

She arranged, and then rearranged the components until she liked the composition.

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She added props to tell the story.

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And took test shots at various angles.

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Now it was our turn, yikes!

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This is just one of my many attempts

 

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I decided to add some height by rolling the salami and placing it upright.

I don’t know if I succeeded in this assignment, but I was full, as we were encouraged to eat the cheeses 😋

Lunch was included in the price of the workshop, and I thought it was the charcuterie ingredients, but Clare made us a delicious, and much healthier option. Her soup was wonderful, and really topped me off! She also offered us a tasty dessert, chocolate!🍫

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Our afternoon assignment was pasta! Clare provided us with the makings of an excellent pasta bar: several different shapes of noodles, two different sauces (red, and white), several garnishes, even bread for the pictures.

Our task was to put together an attractive dish and shoot it from above and at a 3/4 angle. Again, I took so many shots, and chose these three for the critique.

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It was so fun to see what the class came up with! We were all very different from one another.

Day 1 had come to a close, and I know I was kinda beat. Being creative on demand is mentally taxing for this science based person 😊. We had also been rather passive all day and I was in desperate need of some physical activity!

I had researched climbing gyms nearby and found one in Hadley Massachusetts, only and hour away😳 Central Rock Climbing Gym was just what I needed that night!

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Unfortunately they did not have auto belays, so I only bouldered. But I did send an inverted V4 😁 Very happy about that!

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I will definitely spend more time here, if I get the chance!

The next day was to be the “tough” day. I didn’t really know what Clare meant by that, but found out fast! She meant that we would be photographing food that is notoriously hard to make pretty.

This second day highlighted the food styling portion of the class. We discussed choosing a mood or vibe, and how to select props that enhance, but not overshadow the food.

And, we went over the dreaded color wheel 😫 I say dreaded because I just struggle with that thing!

Our first assignment was salad photography and I decided to face my color wheel issue head on! That meant trying to figure out the complementary color thing. I have seen many green salads paired with blue backgrounds, and everyone else loves it.

So…

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And I hate it! A number of other students liked this. I did like the choice I made with the linen, as it has the red stripe that I liked with the strawberries, but the rest…. oh well, I will keep working with the wheel.

The last assignment for the workshop, Clare called “the canned soup challenge”. And this was tough! We were to take a can of soup and make it look appealing, somehow.  If you have not opened a can of soup lately, give it a go, it may shock you how horrible it looks! All the “green” vegetables (like peas and beans) are a mucky shade of brown/green 🤢 One of the students chose a lentil soup and, I am not joking, it looked like dog food!

One advantage here is that I do make a lot of soups and stews and have photographed them for this blog. So I have practiced a bit already. Still, this was a tough one!

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We were allowed to use some fresh garnishes like herbs or sour cream. I tied a bundle of peppers together to add some color too and chose a monochromatic palette in the hopes that the colors would appear more vibrant. At least I liked it more than my salad🤣

The last portion of the class was a group critique of the photos we selected. This is always helpful! It is also tough because it is so subjective, one person will like what another finds distasteful. My goal is to take it all in and improve as best I can💕

With that, the workshop came to an end! I loved it and would happily join another of Clare’s classes!! I learned so much and had fun. Her teaching style is so approachable, there was nothing you couldn’t ask her😊

I finally had some time to look at that legendary Vermont Fall Foliage that everyone raves about! I went for a quick walk in the town.

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And another shot in downtown

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I met up with two of the ladies from the class for one final dinner together.

 

We drank, we ate and we talked about how ugly canned soup looks!!😂😂😂

A big thank you to Clare Barboza for all the great lessons learned! 📸🥗😉

Climbing in Squamish BC 🏔🧗‍♀️⛺️ Mom’s Take Away!

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One of the best perks, for me, as a mature climber, is that I get to climb with my adult children 😊 Both our daughter and son are excellent climbers. Our daughter, Alex, began just two years ago, but as a former, nationally ranked gymnast, it did not take long for her to pass her parents in both ability and passion for the sport. Ryan, our son, began as a little boy. He joined the climbing team for a few years, and now is working on his AMGA Rock Guide certifications.

What this means is that I have this amazing situation where my son guides the family on all the best routes, in a variety of beautiful climbing areas. Smith Rocks in Oregon, Mazama in Washington, and The Cochise Stronghold in Arizona, are just a few of the sites we have climbed together.

But my favorite, from this season, was the weekend we spent in Squamish, B.C. The plan was simple. Ryan and I drove up from Washington, on Friday and secured a campsite at the Squamish Municipal Campground. Alex and her boyfriend were driving separately to meet up with us. What can I say about this campsite? It was definitely cheap, but far from quiet!! The reality is that we did not sleep much those two nights, thanks to some extremely rude campers😩 However, the nearby showers made it a favorite choice for Alex and I. Seems the guys didn’t care too much about that 😂. Next time, mom needs a hotel😉!

Ryan and I had some daylight left that Friday evening, and didn’t want to squander a minute of climbing time! We set out to climb Star Chek

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Ryan gearing up on the first pitch of Star Chek

This is a pretty easy, straight forward climb. And the views of the Cheakamus gorge are phenomenal! Another unique feature of this climb is that you first descend into the gorge to find the base of the route. It is steep, but there are fixed ropes to help, we did not find it too difficult.

This first pitch (5.8) is 4 bolts leading out to the arete. Pitch 2 (5.7) is longer with 8 bolts and follows the arete to an excellent ledge. Definitely a picture moment📸

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Pitch 3 (5.9) is 4 bolts, which takes you to the top

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Ryan took some pictures and video of me on the way up! You can really hear the roar of the river in the video 🌊

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As I said in the video “I love this climb”! We need to return so that hubby and Alex can send it as well. Just beautiful! And, the rock quality is excellent. 😊

Now that we were back at the top, we walked over to the road, and our car. Just enough time to get dinner in downtown Squamish, which has many dining options! This is one camping trip where we did not need to pack a ton of food, or a cooler. It was easier to make the short trip into town. Lots of Tim Horton’s to choose from, because you know, I had to have my coffee ☕️😳!

The next morning, now that Alex and Joe (boyfriend) had arrived, we all set out for the Thighmaster bouldering area. I should mention that Alex and Joe prefer bouldering where Ryan favors multi-pitch climbing. As a result, I get to do both!

We made our way (very short approach) to the Black Mark boulder

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The route you see here is Black Mark (V4, 10 ft) and beyond my abilities at this time! But not a problem for Alex!

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She crushed it! Ryan and I were still warming up.

Then it was my turn 😬 I set my sites on Adam’s Apple (V1, 8ft). My history with bouldering is that I tend to get a move, or two, from the mantle and then struggle.  This route is on the same rock, to the left in the picture above.

With the kids cheering me on, here I go!

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Getting to the lip was fairly easy

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I head right looking for a place to throw the heel, nothing here😳

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Head back to the left, and starting to get tired

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I throw it left, and the fight begins!! I have no idea how long I spent trying to haul over this mantel

The view from above was so sweet!💕

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The boys seem bored😊

And, only minor scrapings to show for it😂

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This was my last send for the that day, I was ready for more coffee☕️. Apparently Ryan was done too, so we went to downtown to shop for gear while Alex and Joe went onto harder climbs 🧗‍♀️

After lunch, and some retail therapy, Ryan and I decided to do a little hiking. Squamish has plenty to do for the non climbers in your party as well! We found a trail that lead out of the downtown area and paralleled the estuary. The Oceanfront Interpretive Trail lead out from Cleveland Street in downtown and ended at the Howe Sound.

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I do recommend this easy hike/walk, as the view really is beautiful. Unfortunately, Ryan and I had to turn back to meet Alex and Joe for dinner. Next time, we will make it to the beach!

After another fine meal, and zero sleep 🤬 we decided on how best to spend the last few hours in this beautiful place. I did some campground yoga, while the kids poured over the climbing books.

It was decided that Alex and Joe would head over to another bouldering area, while Ryan and I set out to do some trad climbing on the apron, located on “the chief“.  Officially known as the Stawamas Chief, it is a giant (over 700m) granite dome. It’s just gorgeous🏔

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We settled on two routes that would get us to the top of the apron (red arrow). This was a slab climbing day, to be sure!

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We started out on Rambles, a 5.8- with 4 pitches. The approach was very short from the parking lot (love that!😊) The pitches can be easily combined to 2 total. We did do the 10b variation on pitch 4.

Great view at the top of rambles!

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Rambles will get you to base of several other climbs. We chose Banana Peel, (5.7, 8 pitches). The first three pitches were pretty straightforward, pitch 4 had an interesting finger crack traverse, but quite easy. The rest of the route was just a lot of smearing along  various flake lines.

I don’t have a lot of pictures as we were moving pretty quickly. We still had a decent drive after this! Ryan had told me we would walk off, but I didn’t realize this meant we would walk off down the front of the apron! 😬 I thought we would hike down the back, like most walk offs. He enjoyed videotaping me while I mentaling worked through this!

Obviously, we made it back to the car just fine! I can’t say that it was as easy crossing the border back into Washington 😜 such long delays!!

So, what did I learn on this trip?

  1. My kids are awesome, I am constantly in awe of their abilities and I am lucky they let me tag along 💕
  2. Squamish is gorgeous! And the climbing there is magnificent🏔
  3. Campgrounds⛺️ are still awful, I need a bed, shower and a good night’s sleep. Hotel next time for sure😊
  4. Tim Horton’s makes pretty good coffee☕️👍🏻
  5. There are many more climbs here that I want to send in the future, and I am strong enough to do some harder grades
  6. I want to learn to place trad gear 🧗‍♀️
  7. I want to do more leading, if Ryan will let me!😉
  8. Crossing the Blaine border in the summer sucks! Nexus card perhaps?

Let me know your thoughts on this amazing, beautiful climbing area!

A Family Vacation/Adventure to Remember 🚣‍♀️ ⛺️ 🌊

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I have finally, finally sorted through these pictures from our OARS trip in August😳!

If you happen to have seen the OARS trip that my hubby and I went on back in July, then you already now what fans we are of this organization.

It has taken me this long for a couple of reasons. 1. I have been fortunate enough to be extra busy this summer. I have been traveling and playing with my kids😊 And, 2. mine was the only camera on this trip, which meant that my other family members would grab my phone and took far more pictures than my capacity to sort through!

I have lots of this:

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And this, to deal with!

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So….You can see part of why this took so long!

This was a true family vacation. My hubby, our two kids, one boyfriend, hubby’s parents and me, set out for Moab, Utah. Our plan was to visit both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, for the first couple days, then meet our OARS guides for a 5 day, 4 night white water adventure.

We flew from Seattle to Salt Lake city and rented two cars to transport the seven of us, and our gear, to Moab (a four hour drive). After stocking up our VRBO and getting a good night sleep, we all piled into one car for the 30 minute ride to Arches. To accomplish this task, two of us had to ride in the back of the van. The smallest ones got that honor!

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Yes, I have a coffee mug with me! This was not the highlight of the day, to be sure 🤢. But is was worth it to see this gorgeous park!

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Of course, you can’t take climbers to the rocks and expect them to stay on the ground.

 

We had a blast climbing and scrambling up the formations!

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Even Grandpa could not resist doing some climbing!

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That evening, the kids and I decided to hike to the iconic Delicate Arch, to view it at sunset. My son set a rapid pace, so we got there in plenty of time!

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We hiked back in the dark and got ready for Canyonlands the next day.

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Canyonlands is beautiful, no doubt! But I have to say, for me, Arches was a little better! Of course the kids found plenty to occupy themselves😊

Alex loves to boulder, so she had to work her way over the top of this ledge.

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And Ryan couldn’t pass up this crack climbing opportunity. I am sure that we received some odd looks from the other visitors 😬

Finally, it was time to meet our guides and start our trip down the Colorado River. Our path would take us through Canyonlands once again, but at the water level. We began with a couple days of motoring down the river. We had a lot of ground to cover before finding the rapids.

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We were treated to amazing views!

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And then the skies opened up and it poured ⛈ 💨 🌊 I am talking biblical proportions here! We all grabbed our rain gear and huddled, under what little cover there was available. But we had to keep motoring down river to make it to our first camp site.

Very wet!

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And, look at the color of the water! It was full of sediment streaming down the red rocks. The guides, who spend every week in this area, said they had never seen the water so red.

 

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Nevertheless, they set up camp and made us dinner😊

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OARS trips are known for their amazing food preparations, even in the middle of nowhere! We had delicious dinners and breakfast (my favorite meal of the day) was perfect, every time😋

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Our first night was wet, but fun!

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The next day was cooler than most, nice if you are in the desert, in August. We did appreciate the cooler temps.

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We did dock along the way and take some time for hiking around. Our guides were very knowledgeable about the local geology and the former indigenous tribes. We saw glyphs and old ruins that were the way of life thousands of years ago.

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The weather dried out and the hot temps returned showing us amazing sunsets and abundant wildlife. I especially loved the bats at twilight.

 

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While the guides made dinner, we would pitch our tents and play games. My son is throwing a horseshoe in the picture below, That is some follow through 💕

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One night, I was taking some panoramic shots when the kids got involved.

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Each night we were treated to spectacular sunsets and moon risings.

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Our last day was rapids day! Sadly, I was too busy trying to survive to take any pictures of us actually navigating the white water. It took all day, and I swallowed a lot of the Colorado in the process 😆. Absolutely the best day of the trip! We did not flip, which is great, but we did go vertical a few times🌊

All great trips have an ending! We motored to the extraction point.

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And loaded up into two, very small planes!

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Ryan jumped into the copilot’s seat.

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Our final view of Canyonlands came from above, making our trip complete!

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This is the “confluence”, where the Colorado meets the Green River. We were treated to a view that is unique due to that thunderstorm from three days prior! Really amazing😃

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If you have hung on this far, then thank you! I do hope I have not driven you crazy with my wacko family adventures! If you get the opportunity to travel with OARS, you will not be disappointed. 😊💕