Even extremely busy I feel guilty for not checking in for a bit...While these blogs and connecting with our community are always great, life on the road and climbing often occupy all of our time. Stories are always worth telling, I just need to make it more a priority. Regardless, here I am, back in Colorado for some time before the next circuit of climbing begins. I started in Colorado some months ago when I traveled to Portland for the annual PBR. I didn't know what to expect at first, especially since I was nursing a moderately wounded shoulder (thankfully, my attention to being safe seems to be paying off and I feel little to no pain these days). Regardless, safety was a priority. Portland was a great time, I got to session with good friends and competition legends like Carlo Traversi, Paul Robinson, Matty Hong and Jimmy Webb. We battled fiercely but the competition was friendly, which was actually refreshing for a bouldering event. Everyone climbed well and I think the show was proud, especially for the spectators. In the end I managed to place on the podium and Mr. Webb took home the gold. The competition was a success and in a large part it was because the organizers and spectators were awesome.
Love the Experience - Jon Cardwell
After flying home, I felt the urge to switch things up, especially since I was able to prove my shoulder recovery in a competition. I needed to get back outside and feel the rocks. The weather this season has been close to perfect, making the mountains prime for daily visits. I began working on a few projects here and there, specifically focusing on Elkland in Estes Park. I spent a couple days trying Memory is Parallax V14. Thanks to Cameron and Paul for those first days of support...they were rugged for sure! After a couple days on the problem I was unable to link it together...the problem is notoriously technical, with long spans between small edges and dodgy feet - additionally I needed to restock my shoes. With a brand new pair of Dragons in the mail, I decided to take a break and focus on other climbs to prepare for a trip to Canada and road trip back down to Colorado via Joe's Valley.
I worked through a few climbs around Elkland and set off at the end of October to Canada. I met up with my girlfriend who has been coaching a climbing academy in Victoria. Their program is extremely progressive, and I think its a great way to expand our sport. Hats off to the Boulders and I suggest a visit to this new facility which hosted a youth world championships this summer. I worked for a few days helping the setting crew re-set a number of commercial and training routes. Once we were finished working Chelsea and I decided to check out Squamish as there seemed to be a break in the rain. I've only been to Squamish once before this summer and loved it. The granite is close to perfection and the valley in which it sits in is majestic. We spent a couple cold days climbing around the forest and headed back to Victoria once the rain started again. It was time to travel home. We road tripped through Washington, Oregon and Utah until we finally made it to Joe's Valley.
Joe's Valley, in stark contrast to the famous Squamish is also majestic. While the scene may be slightly inferior to the incredible mountains of BC, the rock in Joe's could be the best I've climbed on. Joe's Valley is stacked with some of the most interesting formations sandstone can offer.
We spent the first couple days climbing on many problems to get adjusted to the area. I scoped out a few projects including the difficult Insurgency V14. I climbed the stand start, called Skeleton Key and a few other problems. After a rest day we were back at it, Chelsea finished the powerful Playmate of the Year V9 and I climbed a number of problems that I checked out the days before like Slasher V13, Gentelmans Project V11 flash, Battle Toads V10 flash, and finished off with one of the coolest problems I've been on in a while, The Masterpiece V13. Our experience was excellent and a much needed break from working hard. We decided, on account of our thin skin and sore muscles that it was time to head home.
Immediately upon arriving back in Colorado, the weather proved to be exceptionally nice. We took advantage and returned to the rocks of Elkland. After a couple days in the mountains we were able to finish off some nice climbs. Chelsea battled it out and completed the Desperate House Boys, a classic V10 which is sort of the staple climb in Estes now days. I battled again with Memory for a day, but only to result in once again another round of finger wounds...for me, its been a rugged experience climbing on this problem. The technical nature of the climb and my uncharacteristic 'tall man' beta seem to constantly end sessions in a blood bath. This is the process sometimes, and it's always important to embrace it, even if you're frustrated. I took a break and decided to climb on something else until my fingers healed. I met up with DG to scope an old problem which we both tried a number of years ago, Fantasia V13. Dave initiated the process on developing this boulder in the past, which is often the case, but like myself had yet to finish it. We decided, with our wounded skin (Dave had been trying Hypnotized Minds V15) that Fantasia would be the perfect way to mix things up and recuperate our syke. The weather was cold but we battled and after a few close attempts I managed to make an ascent. Finally! Fantasia has thwarted my attempts for some time and it felt great to finish it up. Dave came agonizingly close but strategically called it a day early to save skin and energy for the bigger goal, Hypnotized. Dave is methodical with his climbing and has been in the game long enough to know when to strike. Sometimes the process involves patience and other times, you must seize the moments when you're feeling good and gamble a bit with your energy and skin. The later is how I felt, so I knew it was time to head back up to Memory after the small success. Dave and I split ways after a great session, and like in life climbers choose their own path. Its admirable and I'm sure Dave will finish Hypnotized soon.
The day started out a bit stressful, I was tired and warming up felt difficult. I became worried that my push to climb more was only breaking my body down. Success felt far away but I decided to push forward regardless. The weather was nice, and I knew it was ridiculous to judge my outcome before giving myself a chance. I started from the bottom and everything flowed, right up until leaving the crux...my foot slipped where it never had before! I was aggravated. I thought there was nothing I could have done better and still, I fell. Chelsea urged me to rest and try again. I reminded myself, in climbing, there's always something you can do better. In my case, I needed to simply rest and try again. Moments later I was on top of Memory is Parallax, a small success in my lifeline as a climber but I couldn't have been happier. Climbing can be a complicated and sometimes a stressful endeavor, but for most of us, like this blog summarizes we never stop. Climbers are a special breed and I'm always excited to share my stories with others. I hope you enjoy, and until the next update, love the experience!