From Bishop, I headed down to San Diego for a few days of climbing, surfing, and a Sanuk-sponsored St. Patty's Day celebration at a local bistro.
On March 19th and 20th, a bunch of climbers got together and held a reunion climbing festival at my hometown crag, Mt. Woodson, called the Mt. Woodson Shindig. It wasn't too formal, just a bunch of old-schoolers who used to climb at Woodson back in the 80's and 90's getting together to talk story, drink some beer, and try to pull themselves up some of the classics we all know and love. I did a slideshow for the event on the first night at my old training grounds, the Vertical Hold climbing gym. It was good to see a lot of familiar faces I haven't seen since I've been vagabonding out of San Diego for the past four years or so.
The following day I headed out to the Red Rocks Rendezvous in Las Vegas to present a short video that Evolv and I made a few months ago at Joshua Tree. Sender Films and BigUp Productions sent out a couple of videographers and they threw together a pretty cool throwback video with the legend Kurt Smith and I hanging out and climbing at Joshua Tree. Check it out
The following day I taught an Intro to Sport Climbing clinic for the Rendezvous, then hit the road for Colorado.
A few days later, I volunteered my climbing expertise to a fundraiser for the local Center for the Arts in Crested Butte, near where I live in Gunnison. Along with some professional snowboarders, skiers, and local entertainers, I was auctioned off to the highest bidder for around $400. I was pretty stoked to donate my climbing abilities to help out a good cause in my local community, I've never done that before. I've only volunteered for climbing-related fundraisers like the Access Fund, American Alpine Club, and the HERA Foundation, but I suppose I consider the entire climbing community to be my local community…but you get the point.
Gunnison is home to some of the best fly fishing in the country and I was lucky to score some waders and river boots for my birthday along with a gift certificate for a bunch of flies. As the frozen rivers slowly thawed in April, I was able to get out on the river and give it a whirl. It's fairly frustrating at times, but peacefulness is easily attainable.
In April, the finale of the snowboarding season came to an end, and along with the closing weekend's epic snow dumping, Crested Butte also hosted a pond skimming contest. I've always wanted to see one before, I've only seen them in the ski and snowboarding videos. Everyone dressed up in hilarious outfits, launched off a mini-jump, landed in the pond at full speed trying to ride it out to the other side. There was a lot of mixed success and some cold looking skiers since the air temperature was in the mid-20's along with steady snow flurries. The water even had ice chunks floating in the landing zone. It was basically a super funny display of some extreme goofballs, and I'm glad I was there just taking pictures and not participating myself. I think this is a sign that I'm getting smarter and more mature. The dude in the Superman outfit was my favorite.
Shortly thereafter, I headed out to Denver to visit my brother Shaun and get a few days of gym climbing under my belt before attending the Earth Treks bouldering competition in Baltimore. I haven't competed in a few years, so I was really looking forward to the excitement, the showcase of strong talent, and the excellent route setting that is to be expected of the biggest comps in the U.S.
The first day was the qualifiers round, with a few hundred people climbing all at once over the course of six hours, trying to lock in their hardest six problems. The point values from the qualifying round calculated the top 20 that moved onto the semi-finals the following day. I ended up in 13th after the first day, and then moved up to 8th place after the semi-finals. The top 20 consisted of a seriously strong crew of climbers, so I was pretty psyched to break the top 10. The top six moved onto the finals with an IMPRESSIVE 1st Place showing put on by two of my favorite climbers, Chris Sharma and Alex Puccio. Check out the highlights from the Finals here:
I flew from Baltimore to Guadalajara, Mexico for 10 days of rock climbing after the competition. Vertimania, the leading outdoor retail store chain throughout Mexico (and Evolv's Mexico distributer), invited me to attend Mexico's largest climbing and music festival held at a climbing area about five hours north of Guadalajara called Linares. I put on a short slideshow to the 400+ crowd of climbing campers before the live bands and DJ's rocked the crowd until nearly sunrise.
It's amazing how much people like to party late into the night in Mexico. I think I stayed out past 4am almost half of the 10 days I was there, club hopping and cruising to after parties and after after parties. I think I averaged about four hours of sleep per night! The 24 hour taqueria shops kept me charged along with the excitement of checking out new crags. My first day I checked out a new zone in Ixcatan called the Rio and made the 2nd ascent of Mau Huerta's "Capuccino" route, a super bouldery 14b.
I also scrubbed off a bunch of really nice looking boulders in the same area and added a sweet and scary problem to the La Loma bouldering area. I did a first ascent of a killer mid-range 5.13 on on of the most beautiful fluorescent green colored walls I've seen in Mexico at another area called El Peñon. I finished the trip off with a mileage day at Cuajo which is stacked with killer quality rock in the 5.11-5.12 range. I had visited Guadalajara six years ago, so I was lucky to already know a lot of the local climbers, and they were amped to show us a really good time. Gracias amigos!
The best part of the trip didn't even happen for me, it happened to my buddy Nate, a long-time childhood friend from my hometown of Ramona, CA. He had never been to a foreign country before, so I paid his flight to Mexico so he could come along with me and experience the traveling life in a foreign country. He ended up meeting a stunningly beautiful Mexican climber lady towards the end of the trip and started sleeping at her house instead of the hotel. He "missed" his flight home, and he is still there for another week, maybe longer! He found love!!!! Soooo funny! I wonder if he will ever come back to the U.S.!?!?!
Petzl is hosting a RocTrip down at a massive cave called El Chonta the first week of November. I visited El Chonta six years ago along with a bunch of areas around Mexico City and Guadalajara. I really like climbing in Mexico, I love the climbing community there, and I'm amped to return yet again later this year. Hopefully I'll be traveling with a surfboard next time and hopefully I'll run into Nate again if he's still there!!!