When: November 11th, 2014 thru November 17th (barely enough time)
Who: Drove to meet-up with a crew: Mr Chris Storms + Sasquatch driving in from Oregon, Dirtbag AL: new friend roadtripping all over US and friend of Chris, Teresa: dirtbagging it with AL, and of course Caitlin + Andy driving in from Colorado!
Bouldering Areas Visited:
- Catacombs on the Sherwin Plateau
- Happy Boulders
- One lone boulder in Mammoth Lakes on a cold, windy day
- Side of I-70 at 2am just past Moab turnoff (Where caitlin and I slept due to late departure from Denver)
- Catacombs Bouldering Area = amazing free camping location with beautiful views. Large area to camp in with numerous options.
- Hotsprings Parking Lot
- Forest Service Land just past the Owen River Gorge Sport Climbing Area. Drive as going to 3rd parking lot but continue on dirt roads until you find a suitable dispersed camping spot.
- On way home stopped at Bryce Canyon for a night of camping and a surprise sunrise engagement PROPOSAL!
- Our three vehicle crew all had vehicles we could sleep-in making it easy to set-up camp anywhere, protect us from the constant wind, and be mobile as we explored the numerous unique stops in the area.
View of Mt. Whitney and the Eastside of the Sierra Mountain Range (from Catacomb Boulders):
Bouldering at the Catacombs in Bishop California:
Bishop’s least known climbing area was easily one of our favorites for our crew. Hiding in the shadows of the heavily publicized Buttermilks and Happy/Sad Boulders, this bouldering area would be the crème de la crème in other locations. A short walk from the parking lot (and camping zone) and you encounter dozen of heavily pocketed walls, 15 ft tall, with perfect flat landings. Beautiful lichen covers the walls with an incredible backdrop. This was a great place to get into the mindset of the highball bouldering that was coming and stretch out after 20+ hours of travel.
Caitlin all smiles after hitting the top jug:
Chris working on the moves “I am a Beautiful Man”:
Located a short-drive outside of the town of Bishop, CA it sits high above the Owen River gorge with impressive views of the Sierra Eastside. There was no one else out there but us!! Below is the view from where we were camping:
A few more shots from this great full day of bouldering. We spent 6-hours on the rocks (it helps when the cars/campsite/lunch are no more than a 5 min walk away):
A Day Exploring the Happy Boulders:
After breakfast at the Catacombs and 2nd breakfast at the world famous Schat’s Bakery, we made it to the trailhead of the Happy Boulders. A quick but stout hike in the already warm temps landed-us in a paradise full of mammoth boulders. Walking down the trail and passing hundreds of climbs that are recognized from countless videos, magazines, and website posts, I was very excited to be in the Mecca.
Dirtbag Al and Theresa quickly took off and were ticking every highball moderate they could find.
Caitlin stepping outside of her comfort zone with the highball Duck Soup on the Savannah boulder:
Dirtbag Al with a long reach to stick the crux on Ketron Classic v4:
The last light fades over the Sierra’s as we watch from the rim of the Happy Boulder’s:
A few more photos from the day (hover over for descriptions):
Teresa on the crazy pockets of Sixty Foot Woman:
Hiking out and Dirtbag Al spots one more highball he couldn’t resist and sent it in the dark:
Wild Willy’s Hot Springs:
Dirtbag Al was given some directions to these hot springs and after a hard day of climbing in the Happy Boulder’s, we followed his seemingly random turns in the middle of the valley until we arrived at a sizable parking lot with numerous cars in it. A quick hike down the boardwalk and our crew found ourselves bathing in our own hidden pool while all of the other visitors were in the main, larger pool. The stars were unbelievable that night as we sat for as long as our bodies could stand it, basking in the moonless night.
6:30am Sunrise at Wild Willy’s Hot Springs: while not well publicized the BLM does an great job with the boardwalks and conservation. Also it was getting pretty cold overnight.
Dirtbag Al and Tersea enjoying the 8AM morning dip before heading out for the day:
Of course the local custom is to bath au naturale…which is a great reason to get naked in the wild!! We were pretty beat from the last two crazy days of climbing and the long drives to get there, so we headed-up to the city of Mammoth Falls, relaxed, saw a lot of ducks, found a boulder, and did a little outdoor hiking. That evening we drove down to just outside the Owen River Gorge sport climbing area and camped for the night.
Our last day in the area and we headed to the world-renown Buttermilks for some serious ass-kicking. The sendage was extremely low that day on these stout boulders, however the stoke was high being in the presence of monster boulders.
This problem called the Buttermilk Stem being sent by Chris below (and Al Photo #1, #2, #3, #4) is an example of the crazy types of climbing in Bishop. What feels like a impossible start and moves can quickly be sent with the right technique and beta and shows that something rated only a V1 can be a classic for anyone:
The Buttermilks were crowded as it was a beautiful fall Sunday and attracts climbing tourists from around the world. Once early afternoon happened it quickly cleared-out as it seemed most people were driving back to LA. As it calmed down and after we had our fill of attempted sendage, we had an enjoyable stroll through all of the boulder field sightseeing the famous lines (that literally had 20+ people standing around earlier) and watching the hardmen/hardwomen work these massive, beautiful boulders strewn across the hillside. Also standing underneath the famous PeaBody boulders made your sphincter tighten-up with just the thought of climbing something that big.
Sunset happens quick this time of the year when you are this close to the mountain range. By 4:30 the sun had already been gone for nearly an hour as we took one last look at this amazing place:
At the end of the day we all said our goodbyes with Chris heading north towards Oregon with Al and Teresa following and Caitlin and I made a long journey to Bryce Canyon to spend the night. Hint: arriving at 1am in the morning on a freezing cold Sunday night means free entry and front-row parking for the morning spectacle.
Bryce Canyon Surprise on the way home:
Read More Here: http://andylibrande.com/wedding/about/engagement/
Sights on the Drive from Denver to California: Pictures from: 7am, 8am, 10:30am, 11:30am, 3pm, 6pm, Star Trails that night.
Group Photo at the Catacombs:
When: Saturday Night July 12th thru July 13th, 2014
What: Camped at the base of the “The Acres” /Citadel bouldering area on 700L (have climbed here before). Arrived late Sat night and night bouldered until 1AM. Woke up and did trad climbing at the Nautilus all day.
A late Saturday start as we had to work around Caitlin’s new nursing schedule, however it worked out perfectly. We arrived in Vedauwoo right as the sunset started to dip behind the horizon and luckily were able to locate a campsite without issue within walking distance of the Acres Boulders. After quickly establishing our campsite we headed up the trail to the boulders.
Jake about to send this problem under the light of the lantern (please note Caitlin is completely passed out in this photo!):
Rambo sending this large slab problem called “Organic” under the cover of darkness (and I am sure my flashes were only hurting and not helping): (Link for full size)
In the dark I had a mishap taking photos an accidentally broke my lens: LINK HERE
Stars over the Citadel formation where we were climbing. Taken from our campsite:
Next morning we cooked breakfast on the back of the truck and headed over to climb at the Nautilus. We were only relying on the Mountain Project app for directions and none of us had spent any time researching so figuring out where we were was not much fun for this vast area. But eventually we just started climbing some cracks where we had no idea of names/grades:
Tough climbing on beautiful rock:
Then we wandered over to a striking crack on one of the faces. It took Rambo a bit to climb it but it was amazing. We all tried it and it kicked all of our asses with Rambo leading it and Jake sending but the rest of us struggled through the crux. It wasn’t until some other guys wandered over that we realized we were on one of the area classics “Friday the 13th“:
Beautiful quick weekend of climbing!
Camping under the stars
Bouldering on Independence Pass
Hiking to the Base of the Maroon Bells
Disc Golfing at Colorado Mountain College in Carbondale
Caitlin and I packed a lot of activities into just a weekend. Below are the highlights.
We left Denver late and hit Kenosha Pass right during a beautiful sunset:
On the way up we had a delicious late night dinner at Eddyline Brewery.
We were planning on camping in the truck so we drove up FS 390 which has a ton of car-camping options and plenty of others were already out there. It was late on a friday but eventually we found a perfect level spot for the truck.The stars were amazing that night and I spent quite some time photographing them and the Milky Way:
Beaver ponds by our campsite the next morning:
Next morning we got up and drove up and over independence pass stopping at a bouldering area which was perfect for a short session on some easier blocks. After climbing we headed into Snowmass where we met up with the rest of Caitlin’s family.
The next day we had a beautiful hike up in the Maroon Bells area. It was my first time in this specific spot as we normally tend to stay away from the tourist parts of Colorado. Glad we went up there as it was totally worth it.
We hiked all the way to Crater Lake (tons of snow for June 22nd!). Jon and Laura:
Some some moose on the drive in:
Afterwards we went back to the condo and watched the devastating ending to the USA vs. Germany match. Everyone started heading home, however Caitlin and I stopped in Carbondale to sample the Colorado Mountain College Disc Golf course. We are quite glad we did as the views were amazing (courtesy deer in the background):
Lots of fun stuff in a short period of time.
When: Sat November 16th thru Tues November 19th, 2013
Where: Red Rocks Park just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada staying mainly at the Red Rocks Campground
What: A long weekend exploring and climbing in one incredible desert
Day #1: The Kraft Boulders:
An early Saturday morning arrival to Las Vegas had us out to the Kraft Boulders before mid-day and right as everyone else decided to show. Pulling into the parking lot we knew that it was going to be a busy day at the boulders which is understandable considering it’s proximity to the city, convenience of parking, and an simple access trail to the huge boulder field surrounding the base of the mountain. After checking out a few key boulders on our hike in we settled in at a isolated boulder in the Gateway Canyon section where we spent several hours exploring the area’s problems.
As the day quickly progress the shade quickly engulfed our location. We moved back around the bend to the main cluster and played around on many more boulders, met lots of people who were visiting like we were, and had Sasquatch occasionally bark at the roaming packs of pad-people. Additionally we encountered an large amount of an unique flower bush that I was lucky enough to document the many different species observed (link to picture).
Being in the desert this time of the year is a sensory overload. Direct sun with no breeze and it was 100 degrees, 10 mins later as the sun dips behind the peak you have to put on pants and a heavy jacket.
Day #2: Windy Peak Boulders:
Bumping down a dirt road for 20 mins is apparently all we needed to separate ourselves from the hustle and bustle of the previous day. After being around 50-70 climbers the day prior it was a relief to be the lone car parked at the trailhead for the Windy Peak boulders. A simple hike through amazing terrain found us at the Fish Head boulder. This 30 min hike was only slowed-down by the youngest dog in the group, Zion, as not having any idea what was causing all of that prickly pain.
Only a dog with the name of Beans would still be smiling during the process of ripping cactus thorns from his pads:
The Fish Head boulder is one of the most beautiful massive chunks of rock I have seen. Perched high on the hillside, it is easy to see from the parking lot and features a corridor of perfect climbs, perfect landings, and a great spot to hang-out in the sun.
Step inside the Fish Head boulder and one begins to see the true beauty. The climbing is a long wall of progressively taller problems ranging in the moderate grade. Overhanging these climbs is the upper mouth of the Fish head making for an impressive backdrop like none I have ever seen before.
The Starting Hold of Bait and Tackle, a perfect V1 with an incredible backdrop:
Chris sending Mas Mu (v6), a striking problem right in the middle of the corridor:
The winter days are short and we climbed as long and as late as our hunger allowed attempting to spend every possible minute absorbing this boulder-strewn valley.
Moving our way back to the car we stopped at the Sting boulder, moving again as the sun began to fade. We scoped the Le Cheval area for future missions and finished out the session in the moonless dark on the Warm-up boulder.
Hiking out the moon rose and lit the path through the thick and wild lands of the desert:
Day #3: Rest Day + Evening Session at Kraft + the Strip:
Monday morning we woke up pretty sore from the previous 2 full days of climbing, packed-up camp, and headed to a local Disc Golf course for some fun. Great little course that was perfect for stretching the muscles but not overly exerting yourself.
Just as the evening began to come upon us we headed back to the Kraft boulders, passing the crowds as they departed. A brief sunset singled as the last climbers left the area and we began our session. We climbed for 3 hours past sunset in solitude spending time on the Potato Chips boulder, the Warm-up Boulders, and the Barndoor boulder.
The Glow of Las Vegas as Chris sends the dynamic Dusty Coffee (v4) on the Barndoor boulder:
High-Fiving an awesome trip:
Three day’s climbing in the Red Rocks desert has really inspired me to make sure I come back and continue to explore.
Over the course of the year we did a lot of trips that were awesome but not big enough (or unique enough) to warrant a normal in-depth Trip Report. Instead here are those trips where cool photos were taken with a brief write-up. (Most of the links below go to more photos, so click around!)
Annie with Caitlin Spotting:
The next morning was beautiful. Caitlin playing in the Aspen forest:
Nov 21st: Turkey Rocks trad Climbing the Day before Thanksgiving with Rambo (link):
Just a sampling of many fine smaller trips!
Dates: April 27th-29th, 2012
Who: New friends, old friends, and other randoms (~25ppl)
Where: Moab, Utah
The text message from Jon Sexauer, the organizer of one hell of a weekend, simply said: “Drive on the gravel road for 8.6 miles and look for the campsite at the base of the Sandstone features”. Simple enough, well unless you are driving down a dirt-road at 1am in pitch black hoping you are even on the right road; somehow we found them. The campsite Saturday under the last glows of sunset:
In the morning Vinny, Amanda, Jenny and Myself randomly decided to climb Ancient Art in the Fisher Towers. You may recognize this climb from the popular credit card commercial on air lately. We showed up a little late (took 1 hr to get there from our campsite), however our late arrival worked to our advantage as this climb is now super popular and we ended up being the last party up the wall and enjoyed the afternoon by ourselves. We didn’t do the incredible top-out due to some crazy wind that started up as the sun was getting lower in the sky and makes it another reason to come back and do it again. Regardless one awesome chunk of rock.
Group photo after climbing. The top of ancient art is sticking up just over my left shoulder:
Vinny on the Rappel from the party ledge:
On the way out we ran into Slackline Andy (featured in the superbowl with Madonna) as he was planning how to film their crazy slackline set-up that was between two of the towers. Follow this link to see the crazyness!!!
That night we partied hard, somehow cooked dinner on the fire, played on the sandstone rocks, and enjoyed the perfect weather. The next morning all of us were a little slow but we continued the fun in Moab. Here is our campsite in the middle of nowhere on the last morning:
Sunday we did a quick trip of climbing at Wall-street. Here the Three Stooges admiring some climbers:
Vinny crushing the climb Potash Bong Hit:
Overall a quick trip to Moab with perfect weather and a fun crew.
Who: Chris Storms, Hannah Storms, Caitlin, RAMBO, and Myself
When: February 24th-26th, 2012 (amazing winter climbing!)
Where: Big Bend Boulders, Moab, Utah
Weather: 70’s daytime highs, ~35 morning lows, mostly sunny, occasionally windy, always beautiful
Clear black sky with the stars beaming brightly, darkness feeds the soul. Crisp desert skies. Campfire smoke. Distant water sounds. —- Big Bend campground in February:
Chilly winter mornings fought off with the full stomachs. The sun shining bright the boulders beckoned. Time to climb. —- Caitlin on Flat Top Boulder:
RV’s, tourists, and noise was absent at the Big Bend Campground. Four sites taken of the 50+ sites in the area. Anxious climbers rotated through the many lines offered in the area. — Rambo just short (left) and Chris sending it (right):
Late lunch back at camp. Slightly extended downtime. New objectives. Sunset comes quick in February. —- Rambo (left) and Andy (right) figuring out the move’s on Brown Power:
New day. Slow, cold start. Revisiting the prior evening’s objective. Finishing strong. —- Chris sending (left) and Rambo sending (right):
Who: Vinny E., Andrew M., and Myself meeting up with RAMBO
Where: Ouray Colorado
When: Jan 6th-8th, 2012
Last minute Vinny rounded me up and we headed down to Ouray to ice-climb and stay at Rambo’s house who has been living there for the past year doing AmeriCorps for the Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership. We left Denver after work and had a nice night drive all the way to Rambo’s awesome house.
The next morning we geared-up, checked out the Ice Festival and then headed to the New Funtier area. The Ice Festival was way cooler then we were expecting as they have a bunch of free gear demos and clinics; I demo’d a new harness since mine is getting old. Andrew leading the first route of the day:
Lots of people were out that day and with the Ice in the river not being very solid we saw a lot of people punch through. At one point Rambo had to pull some foreigner out of the river (nipples deep) and convince him that he needed to go back down the valley. Vinny leading another one:
The snow picked up quite a bit towards the end of the day. Here is just one of the many climbers in the area that day:
That night we cooked dinner, hit up the hot springs and were hanging out when a huge snowstorm blew through town dumping 6-8 inches in less then two hours. So naturally we decided to tie a rope to a car and pull each other through the side-roads of Ouray at midnight. Rambo’s shit-eating grin just gives an idea of how awesome this was:
Next morning was glorious!
We climbed right at the main competition area the next day right below the main (upper) bridge. Lots of people from all over the place.
Mt Sherman on the drive out:
Always a good time in Ouray!
Just like that we went from blazing hot to the cool temps of fall. I experienced this during a little landscape project that started in late August and went up to mid-Sept (essentially going from dripping sweat to just normal sweat). That little landscape project turned into a much bigger project somehow miraculously finishing moments before the start of the Backyard Bouldering Competition.
The cool temps lead to an active fall of many short-outings experiencing the intense fall colors. Below is just a photographic taste from the short adventures that took place during the extended fall season
Kenosha Pass (and all surrounding areas) were absolutely breath-taking on Oct 1st-2nd, 2011:
Once finished with the climbing comp I was able to get out again (had no real adventures since Independence Pass in early August). Here we are at Mt Sanitas in Boulder doing some bouldering, September 17th, 2011:
Andrew relaxing on the top-out:
Aspen’s just starting to get really colorful on Squaw Pass Road near Evergreen on September 25th, 2011:
A trip to Crested Butte with RAMBO happened on Oct 1st-2nd. Potentially the most colorful weekend in my life. More will be posted on this adventure, however here is a teaser:
My sister flew in from Austin, TX and we checked out Rocky Mountain National Park on a snowy day in the park. October 9th, 2011:
There were also a lot of elk out that day and we had fun watching them in their rut:
Friday afterwork session in Castlewood Canyon with Caitlin at the 9 Lives Boulder, October 14th, 2011:
Fall more or less wrapped-up in Colorado for me on a beautiful, brisk day in Castlewood Canyon doing some bouldering with Jake and Ben. November 11th, 2012:
Full Post here: http://andylibrande.com/news/2012/02/quick-moments-of-fall/
When: August 5th-7th, 2011
Where: Independence Pass, Colorado
Caitlin and I took off after work on a Friday to head-up to Independence Pass between Aspen and Leadville. The idea was to check out the bouldering that is all over the area, enjoy the sights, and escape the heat of Denver. We rolled in after dark and after taking Caitlin’s volvo for a little 4-wheelin’ action :-), somehow found free camping up Lincoln Creek road.
After sleeping like logs in the crisp night air (the denver heat was not making sleep easy), we awoke to a beautiful day. Amazingly our friend Terra happened to drive by our campsite as we were getting ready to leave for the day…small world.
Saturday we hit up the James Brown Boulders which we had a little difficulty locating as we were one pull-off too soon. Once we found these great boulders in the shade it was a nice day of trying a number of problems and enjoying the crisp air.
Caitlin working one of the tricky easier problems near the James Brown Boulder (notice the grassy top-out):
Me on the James Brown Boulder (awesome block):
We headed-up to the pass for some sunset viewage. Here is Caitlin showing-off:
Beautiful last chunks of light:
Small pond right next to the road right as the sun disappeared:
The craziest thing happened when we were back at camp and done cooking dinner. We were just sitting there pondering the night sky when a huge tree came crashing down in the forest behind us…scared the living crap out of us and it was pitch black and impossible to investigate. No idea why or how it fell but it was a crazy event that was a little unnerving.
Sunday morning cooking some breakfast:
Playing in the Grottoes:
Cool waterfall formation:
It was 100 degrees when we rolled back in Denver…nice to enjoy some cool weather and experience an awesome place!
Link to blog posting: http://andylibrande.com/news/2011/09/independence-pass-bouldering-and-camping/