A year ago to the day I stood on the bridge in downtown Missoula trying to get a good photo of kayakers surfing the standing wave. Now I’m deciphering the best method for getting up on surfboard without the dozens of spectators thinking I’m a joke.
Since it’s National Bike Month, we’re celebrating all month long with our Where’s Your Adventure? Photo Contest. Boating with a bike is pretty adventurous if you ask us, so congrats to this week’s winner, Dean McCollom, who submitted this shot from a trip on the Blackfoot River in Montana. He not only scores a yearlong membership to Adventure Cycling Association, but also a brand spaning new Raptor 6 hydration pack!
Want to enter the contest too? Give us your most adventurous cycling photo; it can be from a gnarly section of single track or bombing down an urban hill on your single speed. Just upload your photo to our Flickr pooland tag it with “adventurecycling.” Every week during the month of May we’ll be picking our favorite to win an ACA membership and a Raptor 6. At the end of the month we’ll leave picking the winner up to you, getting our fans to vote and choose our People’s Choice Winner.
Note: Osprey will retain the right to images for future use in blog posts. And please note that we can ship to U.S. addresses only.
Unlike most autumns, October in Montana remained sunny and warm. In many other years I have been climbing ice during October… Not this one. The autumn of 2010 will go down in my books as one of warmest and sunniest I have ever had. I spent most days climbing near home but did take a one week trip to Utah. The plan was to climb five big routes between Red Rocks and Zion in six days. Like many climbing trips and plans this one was subject to weather, physical well-being and many other fates of the universe.
It had been raining for one week in both areas prior to our arrival. The soft Navajo sandstone face holds are notorious for breaking after such saturating storms, and camming units slide out of cracks with much more ease (especially the smaller sizes). Fortunately we had a back up plan: the severely overhanging limestone routes at the Cathedral crag and its neighboring Wailing Wall. These sport crags lie just outside of St. George, Utah roughly half-way (by road) between Red Rocks and Zion and tend to stay dry due to its geographic location and the steep nature of the rock.
We departed Vegas and drove through the night planning to arrive around 10am. The “old reliable” truck, Earl Grey, decided to stop operating in the midst of the New River Gorge on I-15 right around 10 pm. After being towed we got a new battery at a 24-hour Walmart and replaced the alternator the next day.
The following day we pulled up to the crag and soon realized we were outnumbered 10-1 by gun-toting folks in orange — it was opening weekend for Utah’s short five-day hunting season. I was personally missing out on Montana’s opening weekend, but lucky for me our season lasts nearly a month. We found a spot to throw down and camp and stayed there the following three days waiting for the rain to pass out of Zion. In those three days we climbed many a dazzling steep lines (see photos) on some of the best limestone I have touched.
The skies finally cleared the evening of our second day, but we needed to wait at least 24 hours for the stone to dry in Zion. So we checked out the Black and Tan wall. No where near as good as The Cathedral, but at least we were climbing.
And finally we made our way to Zion, and got right on the route Monkey Finger (5.12 8 pitches). The climbing was going smoothly though the rock was still a bit wet. At the top of the 3rd pitch I put my body in an odd position and suddenly my whole shoulder sublexed (not quite popping out of socket but damn close). It had never happened to me prior to that incident, and I sure as hell didn’t want to become the guy with the chronic shoulder problems. The trip was over. I finished the pitch, then we rappelled.
Unfortunately this particular climbing trip did not quite go as planned. However I did get to pass many a good days with a great old friend. We plan to reunite in the future to carry through with our larger objectives. In the mean time I am back here in Montana diversifying my outdoor life, riding the bike a lot more, hunting, running and just taking it easy on the shoulder and rehabbing until it gets better.
On this very fine day the sun is still shining with temps in the 60′s, I have an elk roast slowly steaming away in a crock pot, and I just finalized some plans to do a rock trip to Spain and Morocco this winter! Injuries do suck, but it forces me to tap in to other outlets and embrace some new creativity.
hast la proxima,
The sun has been shining steadily and the temps have been unbelievably warm here in southwest Montana. I spent the first week back home climbing in the Gallatin canyon, rallying up local bike trails and having pints with friends I had not seen all summer.
It wasn’t too long before we began to scheme on some new route potential in the southern Beartooths. We had been eyeing this spectacular crack system that was defended by a ominous 15-foot roof and it now seemed like the time
to go piece it together. We left the Gallatin Valley in the “Blue Streak”, a 1986 foggy-blue Subaru with a white stripe down its center. Off at a top speed of 65mph we meandered through many a two-lane roads finally arriving at our lengthy dirt access road. This little Suby shines best on the dirt and we quickly navigated with controlled sideway slides to our destination.
The first day we checked out the line making sure it would go, and decided it would need a few bolts to piece the cracks together.
On day two, we began our ascent armed with a double set of cams, may nuts, one 60-meter lead line, a 60-meter tag line and a bolt kit. The first pitch was a slightly dirty 5.10+ that ended in a bat guano filled slot. Pitch 2 got us in to the goods: a 5.11+ flared gaping mouth of a crack that traversed over 20 feet.
Pitch 3, a 5.12-, followed incipient cracks on thin gear for 50 feet to the base of the roof, which we named the route after – “The Traditional Bitch Slap” or TBS, due to the way we felt after pulling through it.
Pitch 4, a 5.11+, started off just above the lip of the roof, right into a tough stem corner. The climbing was sustained stemming with a powerful lay back crux.
Back on the ground, we enjoyed a tasty frothy beverage and loaded back into the Blue Streak. Pressing play on the tape deck and dropping the transmission to four low, we established the Blue Streak’s theme song that weekend, and those fine cuban-rooted-rhythms blared through its one speaker as we climbed up the steep hill to once again to access the two lane roads that would lead us home through a gauntlet of ungulates.
Back from climbing in Cuba and surfing in Costa Rica, I went straight to work in the Tetons of Wyoming and the Beartooth Mountains of Montana for Jackson Hole Mountain Guides. I spent the vast majority of my summer days guiding above 11,000 feet based out of our high camp on The Grand Teton and the Beartooth Plateau of Montana.
I feel fortunate to spend so many days out in the hills for my work, and this summer was a busy one (only 3 days off in August). I saw many a sunrise in the midst of our pre-dawn alpine starts, and many a sunset just as I was climbing into my sleeping bag for an early night’s rest.