The Desert Beckons
David Fay '13

Hannah Trim ('14) traversing high on Jupiter Cracks. Photo David Fay ('13)

Dirt, sweat and blood. Three elements that run unimpeded in the desert. Blood from battling up off-widths and squeezes reminds me that I still have much to learn. Sweat from the steep approaches and unrelenting sun which I track as it moves across the sky. And dirt. That red dirt is everywhere. The wind carries it and despite tarps and cars and picnic tables, it coats everything. This doesn’t let me forget that I have been to the desert.

But I take my time getting out there. Dwelling in the anticipation of adventure. Holding onto that tranquility before the storm. Because once I arrive in Indian Creek I know that I won’t be able to hold myself back. I won’t leave until the dirt, sweat and blood overcome me and I must leave.

I am jealous of Hannah Trim (’14) and Matt Zia (’14) who can spend a month in the Creek. Not only because they have the time to do it, but also because they have the patience to climb in moderation. That way they don’t burn out. They dig in. They make Indian Creek their home and pace themselves as each day comes and goes.

I woke up Thursday morning five miles outside of The Creek hours after the sun had hit my sleeping bag. I moved leisurely, eating richly and arriving at the message board just after noon. I had not planned very well. But I was ready to climb. Only I stood in dire need of a climbing partner. As happen-chance may have it, JD Merritt (’16), Parker Schiffer (’15), William Rushton (’15), Ibby (’17), and Axel Bjerke (’15) bumbled into the parking lot just as I made this realization. JD’s SUV was packed to the brim with climbing gear, camping equipment and boxed wine nearly falling out of the car as they opened the doors. This marked the beginning of CC’s annual Block Break pilgrimage to the Creek and an opportunity for me to relive my college days as I wrangled up some climbing partners.

And boy was it great to be surrounded by stoked climbers. William led an off-fist crack in the dark by headlamp. Ibby climbed her first cracks. Everyone got to talk smack around the campfire. And JD and I made a run at Liquid Sky. After sending the 11+ off width I contested that my butt was physically too large for the narrow squeeze. My scars and a core shot in the rope prove that I had tried. But we still wanted to summit. Linking the final two pitches of Lightning Bolt cracks to meet Matt, Hannah and Chris Dickson atop the North Six Shooter was nothing short of hero climbing. Amazing position, fluid movements and great company made this day spectacular.

After reliving the glory of a block break in the desert it was time to part ways. As everyone piled into JD’s car to head back to the springs, I stepped into my car. Once again alone, traveling onwards. Leaving the Creek, I pulled over at Wilson’s Arch. The ridgeline had caught my eye years ago. I began climbing. The first move was the hardest, but secure. From there fun and exposed scrambling brought me to the top of the arch. I enjoyed the fleeting solitude juxtaposed to a residential development and a highway. I knew nobody around here would follow me up the arch. I sat down. Once again holding onto that fleeting sense of adventure as the rest of the world spun madly on.

The Tiger Cliff: An Elusive Wall Pioneered in the Heart of the Rockies.
David Fay '13

David Fay on the FA of The Gold Card. Photo Hannah Trim

There is a saying around Leadville that if it weren’t for just one thing each climbing area would be world class. For example if the routes at Granite were longer than 15 ft, it would be mega-classic. Or if the Cecilville Slab was 10° past vertical, instead of 10° less than vertical it would be spectacular. Well this past summer a small band of tigers may just have defeated the paradigm.

With the knowledge and assistance of local developers Justin Talbot and Rob Dillion, Chris Barlow (’05), Becca Shild (’06), Matt Zia (’14) and I set off for what was soon to be dubbed The Tiger Cliff. We rendezvoused at the High Mountain Institute enveloped in clouds, unsure of our decision to continue. After hiking past Timberline Lake in search of the rumored wall, blue skies assured us we had made the right call. Basking in sunlight Chris and Becca found a moderate route to the rim so they could drop in on the king ling—the longest and most improbable line linking incipient cracks between black and tan streaks.

Meanwhile I began picking my way up the obvious left leaning crack splitting the face. Bulletproof rock, bomber gear and wonderful movement brought me to sloping ledge below a clean, blank dihedral. After moving into this dihedral and retreating, I opted to follow the positive features out left. I took my time, enjoying each move and each moment as I climbed upwards through the roof to the top. Matt followed this pitch helping to establish The Gold Card Indirect ground up.

After touching back down I found out that Chris had put in three bolts just to the right of The Gold Card. Becca and Chris had rehearsed the moves on this route and were moving on to try the moves on the king line (later to be dubbed Amba after the great African tigers). Liking rock climbing how I do, I was jonesing and couldn’t sit still. I wanted to be the first person to lead something else. After pressuring Chris he let me get on the mixed line he had bolted. I flowed through the lower sections only to fall on the last hard move. I offered Chris a belay—out of generosity and so that I could be on the first ascent team. He tied in and climbed through the lower crux moving on to place some tricky gear in overhanging terrain. After resting at the jugs, Chris committed to the redpoint crux, moving smoothly up to the anchor.

On the hike out, our small band of tigers began brainstorming CC related route names. ‘8th Block’ would have to be real easy. ‘Block Break’ would describe a precarious rock on the route. ‘8th Block Break’ would be pure fun, lifestyle edition. Chris came up with a good one—and the name of his route—‘Respect Your Elders’.

Combining stunning scenery, a range of difficulties and consistent quality, Tiger Cliff stands against the Leadville paradigm as a premier Colorado climbing area.

The Gold Card Indirect 5.11- FA David Fay
The Gold Card Direct 5.12- FA David Fay
Amba 5.12 FA Chris Barlow
Respect Your Elders 5.12- FA Chris Barlow

A Tribute to Cole Kennedy: Ptarmigan Ridge
This story was written by John Collis (’13) for the 2013 edition of the Colorado College Alpine Journal

Cole Kennedy on Mt. Rainier's Ptarmigan Ridge

There it was again. That sound. That sickening whistle. Like a fighter jet careening into a tailspin. An explosion of dust swelled below us.

Holy Shit! Did you see the size of those rocks? Volleyballs!”

Cole and I locked eyes and exchanged knowing glances. Sixteen hours into the climb, and 7500’ up Mount Rainier’s Ptarmigan Ridge, retreat seemed unthinkable.

The day before, we made a high camp at 10,000’ after crossing what we thought would be the most dangerous section of the route: a knife-edge ridge of blocks so chossy that a stiff breeze would send a few tumbling a thousand feet into the crevasses below. This morning, in the long, frigid hours before dawn, we had made a hurried traverse beneath the massive and very active seracs of the Ptarmigan ice cliff. We were committed. Up was the only way.

We moved quickly, adopting a rhythm. Climb fast, swing our tools, kick our crampons into the brittle, grey ice and breath heavy until we were safe beneath some lofty overhang. Then we’d rest awhile, wait for a lull in the barrage, and repeat. We were advancing into enemy territory, moving from foxhole to foxhole, the mountain defending its ground with heavy, lithified artillery.

Then, halfway out from one of our bunkers—no man’s land—I felt it while staring up the broad, icy slopes. The sound came first, that familiar stomach-dropping squeal. Then, a sharp pain in my cheek: the sting of an icy-hard hornet.

After belting out a few loud expletives, Cole and I regrouped within the cover of our next alcove and inspected the damage. The golf ball-sized hunk had left its mark, but it was nothing more than a tender spot below my left eye and a bit of dried blood. No broken bones, no loss of consciousness. I’d be fine. I counted myself lucky not to have tangled with one of the wall’s larger projectiles.

We continued climbing with a subtle uneasiness. The route was spectacular. We looked up at the solid blue-grey alpine ice that cascaded down moderate 40-60° slopes for 2500’. Above, the ice gave way to some easy fifth-class rock followed by the upper snow slopes of the Liberty Cap Glacier. Even rockfall eased as we moved above the more rotten bands. Cole and I found the best conditions we could have hoped for on such a sunny July day.

After one snow bridge crossing, about a thousand kicks through the infamous Rainier snow pinnacles, and a billion steps up what seemed like endless, but easy swaths of snow, we arrived at the peak’s main summit, Columbia Crest, right at sundown. With our lungs and muscles fried and light fading fast, we snapped a quick summit photo and decided to abandon our original plan of descending to Camp Sherman, instead opting for a breezy, tentless night out along the edge of the frozen summit crater.

The next morning began early. We had our first encounter with another party since leaving the Wonderland trail two days prior. It allowed us plenty of time to make our final bumble of the trip when, in our exhausted and disoriented states, we followed another party down the heavily wanded Disappointment Cleaver route instead of making our intended descent down the Emmons Glacier. For those unfamiliar, Rainier is a very broad mountain. Ptarmigan Ridge ascends the northwest aspect; the Emmons Glacier route ascends the northeast aspect; and the DC route ascends the southeast aspect, meaning that after hiking down past the hundreds of people being guided up the DC, Cole and I found ourselves exactly on the other side of the mountain from where we had begun, about thirty miles further along the highway. However, because we had planned on hitchhiking, this changed our options drastically.

Though we had thought ourselves to be past Rainier’s greater difficulties, forty-five minutes spent thumbing at cars leaving the Paradise parking lot had us thinking differently. After an hour, we fortunately managed to stop a middle-aged hiker named Linda driving a Prius. She laughed at our destination, probably thinking us a bit crazy to try to hitch a ride around the whole mountain. Nevertheless, she told us she could drive us west. After a second ride from Tacoma to Seattle, then an hour-and-a half drive back to our car in the Mowich parking lot the next day, we knew the mountain had not been finished with us at the summit.

A Tribute to Cole Kennedy: The Hubris Brothers and the Colorado Triple Crown
This story was written by Leland Krych ('13) for the 2012 Colorado College Alpine Journal

Leland Krych (13') leading through Pervertical Sanctuary's crux pitch.

The Diamond on Long’s Peak is without a doubt one of the most aesthetically gratifying walls in North America. Since the beginning of my climbing career I had been dreaming of floating up its lofty ramparts. This summer I was determined to fulfill this ambition, but, how to siege the mighty wall? My partner-in-climb, Cole Kennedy(’13), and I did what most climbing nerds want to do when planning a big objective. We consulted the great oracle— Mountain Project. Cole and I both agreed that the cattle route would be an improper introduction to the Diamond so we zeroed in on the next most feasible line, Pervertical Sanctuary. Before we knew it, we had started planning more trips before we had even left for the Diamond. “Dude, we need to check out the Edge once we’ve finished the Diamond! Holy Christmas man, look at that picture of Wunsch’s!”

The psyche was profuse that day and before we knew it, we had concocted a long weekend of objectives (Pervertical Sanctuary, The Naked Edge, and Wunsch’s Dihedral) that if completed would (we thought) imbue us with everlasting climbing glory and renown. Thus begins the Adventures of the Hubris Brothers and the Colorado Triple Crown.

So with a bravado and excitement that’s not uncommon when planning a climbing trip, we began to feverishly sort gear and ramble off lingo:
“Okay, okay… let me see we need a double rack, eight alpines, a number four…”
“Cole, I don’t want to use your manky-ass four.”
“Yeah, I don’t either. I bet that Hanson and Erik have one we can borrow”
“Good Thinking… Wait, How am I going to get off work tomorrow? Also what’s the weather report?”

Needless to say, everything proceeded dandily and Cole and I set off the next day in the late afternoon for what was going to be a long twenty-four hours. We arrived at the trailhead at 11 pm, bellies full of burritos. Due to an unforeseen mass of campers, Cole and I had to perform an un-planned and non-illegal parking lot bivy at the trailhead. We woke up at 2 am to a group of be-lamped French people who had walked into our secluded section of asphalt. They must have thought our commandeered space denoted the trailhead. Je suis désolé monsieurs! Anyhow, Cole and I emerged from our sleeping bags to a scene straight out of The Fellowship of the Ring. Long lines of light were bobbing through the forest. “It’s the elves Sam!” Sadly the lights were not elves, but an extreme infestation of turons.

With all our jingles a janglin’ on our harnesses we preceded to blow past forty haggard hikers up the approach to the Diamond. We arrived at the base of Chasm Lake as a faint glow started to appear on the horizon. Six headlamps were visible further up the trail. There was no way we wanted to be at the bottom of the predictably sketchy North Chimney as these climbers were nearing the top so we started booking it up the boulder field. We reached the base just as the sun started to rise, along with it arose Cole’s burrito from last night. He was in bad shape, but with the usual fortitude of a Hubris Brother he proclaimed that he was going to do this climb even if it killed him. We chopped steps up a small snowfield and joined the conga line of climbers up the fabulously loose and wet chimney. Thirty minutes of hairy soloing and grassy holds brought us to Broadway Ledge. To our dismay, a party of climbers had beaten us to the punch and was already starting the first pitch. We heaved a sigh of discontent and made our way to the base to assume our spot in the queue. Just to add insult to injury, a party to our right had decided to climb Ariana, the line crisscrossed ours, so we proceeded to wait in line as the sun rose steadily from the plains.

After a long wait it was our turn to climb the fantastically exposed pitches of Pervertical Sancturary. Cole linked the first two 5.9 pitches into a mega rope-stretcher and set me up nicely for the sandbagged pitch of sustained 5.9+ that followed.  The crux pitch was next and upon making it to my belay I could see that Cole was in no shape to lead the splitter that overhung slightly above our heads. I sucked it up and thrashed up the thin-hands crack, only to be confronted with its continuation. The next pitch was a rope-stretching off-width that sucked every last calorie from my body. After plenty of cursing I flopped onto the belay ledge. One more pitch to go. Cole was feeling better so he took the last pitch— a fun and facey 5.9 that brought us to the shoulder of Long’s peak. To our horror a large cumulus cloud had trundled over from the west and was about to engulf the peak. After downing a Clif Bar, the two of us ran up to the summit and then started feverishly down-climbing the cables route. Hail pelted us as we jumped and jogged our way down the scree. Luckily the cloud did not see any reason to connect electrically with the planet earth. We escaped, unscathed, and proceeded the seven miles down to the car. We made it back to ol’ subey around 7 pm. Seventeen hours car door to car door. We then headed back to Colorado Springs for some rest and recuperation.

After a much needed rest day the Hubris Brothers set off for their next mission— Wunsch’s Dihedral. We left early Sunday morning to be greeted by the Cathedral Spires with bluebird skies and the joyful bubbling of the South Platte River. High above us loomed the mighty spire, and I remember cursing profusely when I realized that the only footwear I had brought for the hike were my Chaco’s. Up the steep and loose granite approach trail we went. Temperatures had to be over 95 degrees that day in August, and our decision to try Breashear’s, was cut short when our sweat-lubed fingers slipped easily out of the first finger locks. Disheartened we scampered up the original 5.9 pitch which planted us right below the amazing overhanging hand crack second pitch. We cruised up this baby (savoring every pigeon-shitty jam [let me just say that even the bird feces cannot detract from the splendor of this pitch]) to the cave-ish overhang that denotes the start of the 3rd pitch. Oh baby, the third pitch. My mouth waters just thinking about it. The third pitch of Wunsch’s starts off horizontally. A seven-foot number four roof with deep hand jams sends you into a grueling, overhanging, fingers dihedral. I couldn’t see this of course because I was hanging out in the cave, but I could hear Cole grunting his way up the thing. When I got to follow I realized that this was honestly the best pitch that I’ve ever climbed in the Platte. After sixty feet of funky stemming and finger lay backing the crack widens to accept hands. This left me with the sport climb that takes the rock climb to the summit. Let me just say that this is not 5.12 and I ended up aiding this ridiculous line of sweaty nubbins.Whoo summit!

Cole and I made it to the summit just as a large cumulus cloud was peeking its anvil-like head over the mountains to the northwest. We quickly scribbled in an ascent by the Hubris brothers and started to plan our descent. Okay, so the descent is a sixty-meter rap off the backside right? No, this information is egregiously wrong (damn it mountain project, how could you forsake your children?). Cole and I ended up forty feet off the deck at the end of our rope and had to set up a make shift anchor off of nuts to get to the bramble infested gorge that is the backside of the Cynical Pinnacle. Every hostile plant in the world has its own microclimate in that hellish canyon. After an hour of bushwhacking in the sprinkling rain we came to a crossroads. Cole wanted to move out right and try to wrap around the tower, I thought his plan was hopeless and thought we should continue down into the gravelly brush-land. Luckily I let Cole scout his inclination and we saved three hours of hiking from our descent. Salvation! Two down, one more to go. At least that’s what we thought until we started the long hike down.

It was quiet, it was a long-weekend after all. We brooded on the way down. I had some important laboratory work to do for my thesis, and I was leaving for my trip to the Bugaboos later that week. In other words I had a lot of shit to get done. Cole was leaving for Jackson in two days and had to start packing for that adventure. Once we got to the car, we had come to a wordless agreement. So, the Colorado Triple crown is still out there for any audacious CC climbers who want a good adventure. The Hubris brothers thus retreated to the haven of Colorado Springs, they still reside there now; nursing their egos and preparing for more impudent adventures.

The Diamond, Rocky Mountain National Park
Pervertical Sanctuary, IV 5.11-
The Cynical Pinnacle, Cathedral Spires, CO
Wunsch’s Dihedral, II 5.11

The Anaconda Challenge: An Homage to the Garden
Luke Rasmussen ('14)

Julian Kraus-Polk (‘15), Luke Rasmussen ('14) and Hanson Smith (‘14) atop North Gateway Rock in Garden of the Gods after climbing Anaconda.


It was starting to get dark and I began to get worried. The daylight faded fast and I was not looking forward to the many strenuous and awkward moves that lay before me. It looked like I was in for a few more hours of grunting and cursing before I would finally reach my goal, but I had to do it. I couldn’t bail now. There was no retreat. I was going rock climbing the next day and I really needed to finish fixing my car that night. I was epic-ing. Damnit. Not on a rock climb, however, but in trying to coax my wheels into rekindling the relationship they once had with my steering wheel. But, like I said, the next day I was going rock climbing, and the psyche factor was high.

Miraculously, the next afternoon, I was successful in using my steering wheel to direct my car and pick up Julian Kraus-Polk (‘15) and Hanson Smith (‘14). They tossed their packs into the back of my old Land Cruiser, a.k.a. The Cruiser, with the familiar sound of clinking cams, and we set off in search of the finest desert sandstone that the west had to offer. There was only one caveat: I hadn’t quite put my steering wheel back together. There were still a few missing nuts and bolts, but that was alright because we were running on pure psyche.

It was an absolutely gorgeous sight to behold. The sandstone formations stood erect before us, glowing in the afternoon light. It was almost as if we had entered a garden fit for the gods. That’s right, we weren’t climbing the internationally renowned cracks of Indian Creek nor were we standing at the base of one of those proud sandstone monoliths of the desert. We were at a place best known as “The Garden.” While it may be the bane of many CC climbers, I see it as my life-source. But as much as it should be revered, it should also be feared.

The first pitch of Anaconda rises up beautiful sandstone and immaculate cracks. The second pitch, however, does not. To quote mountain project, “The second pitch looks heinous, a pigeon-shit encrusted slot.” Having climbed this pitch twice before with the illustrious Hannah Trim (’14), I could safely say that this was a serious understatement. Sure, the encrusted pigeon shit makes some of the jams a little insecure, as it has about the same friction coefficient as lubricated polytetrafluoroethylene, but really it’s the fresh pigeon shit that oozes between your fingers with every poorly placed hand jam that makes this pitch a true classic. Even more exciting are the rotting pigeon carcasses of birds that spent their last moments of life wedged securely within the cracks. Knowing all this, I offered to take the first lead and leave the rest up to Hanson and Julian.

I led the first pitch on gear only, ignoring the drilled pins, and enjoyed myself quite thoroughly on this classic pitch to the first set of anchors. Above this, the climbing gets a bit spicier. I placed a couple cams while I rested and then started up. Soon I realized that it would be pointless to fiddle around with gear, so I ran it out, finger-locking and heel-hooking my way to glory. I was happy not to test how good the gear really was in Garden sandstone. As I brought up Julian and Hanson, I looked up at the pitch to come. It looked every bit as heinous as I remembered, but nonetheless the psyche factor was still high.

All situated, I happily handed Hanson Smith the sharp end. He started up, leaving behind the chalked holds of the classic first pitch and entering the super-mega-classic terrain of the second pitch; this is where the adventure climbing begins. Having already paid my dues, I got to sit back and relax as I watched Hanson squirm his way into the slot above. This task is not easily accomplished, but after many expletives and various “techniques” he finally managed it. The pitch was far over, though, and as he pulled a roof into a bomber fist-crack I heard him yell down to us, “This is fucking bullshit.” Pigeon matter began raining down onto us. From then on, I kept my mouth firmly shut. Hanson trudged on, and, soon, it was my turn to climb through the pigeon graveyard. Quickly enough, I finished climbing the worst of it, or—depending on how you look at it—finished climbing the most classic pitch in The Garden. We handed off the sharp end to Julian and he romped up the last pitch, bringing us to the summit of the Tower of Babel.

As we sat there, high on our perch, we looked down on a view of The Garden with the sun setting behind Pikes. I’m sure the hundreds of tourists who had watched our ascent would kill to photograph it with their iPhones. Personally, it was my third time seeing this view and the reason was soon clear as I further explored the summit, checking potholes to see what treats they might hold. Sure enough, there it was, in the very place I had left a prize waiting the year before. We toasted another great afternoon in The Garden before rapping off an unidentifiable metal object pounded into a pothole and a manky pin.

Climbing in The Garden can easily fill your lust for adventure despite the paved sidewalks and the hordes of tourists gawking at you. There’s no reason to drive nine hours to the desert when you can drive ten minutes and have the same experience. To quote Tim Gibson (‘10) in an video posted by Noah Gostout (‘10), “The Tower of Babel is the reason I’m never going back to the desert.” So, go do it. If you’re still at CC you can be climbing Anaconda at the very latest by tomorrow, if not right now. If not, come back and relive the experience that is Garden climbing. Besides, you never know what type of prize you might find on the summit.

“So that’s the challenge! Battle pigeon infested crack. Retrieve 40’s, or perhaps whiskey. Achieve veneration!”


Garden of the Gods, CO

Anaconda, 5.11c

Crack of Noon
Tim Gibson ('10)

Into the Abyss. Jon Schaffer approaching East Creek Basin with Pigeon Spire in the background. With four grade V or longer first ascents, their 2012 trip to the Bugaboos contends to be one of the most successful of all time. Tim Gibson (’10)

Jon Schaffer and I had an incredible trip in the Bugaboos this summer. We spent a total of five days shuttling gear and enjoyed generally favorable conditions. Our trip was characterized by many crack-of-noon starts, abundant slimy groveling, blisters on both of our palms from jamming, and the discovery of many immaculate, unclimbed features in the range.

Our first major endeavor began at noon as we wandered across the Crescent Glacier to check out a new line on the north face of Snowpatch Spire. However, we could not deny the draw of the east face basking in sunlight, so we began climbing in the vicinity of the Beckey-Mather (V 5.8 A2). Our route, Cherchez La Femme (V 5.12 A0), branches right at the second pitch of Labyrinth (V 5.12), and follows enduro, overhanging hand cracks, bouldery, pin-protected compression climbing, powerful ring-locks and mucho wide, scary climbing to the top of the Tom Egan Wall.

After moving to our intended base camp in East Creek Basin during a total whiteout, we climbed what we thought was the FA of the northwest face of Crossed Fish Peak via Red Fish, Blue Fish (IV+ 5.11 C2, followed free at 5.12-). Though this route will, and should, never be a classic—nor was it the FA of the face—it afforded us a grand adventure, taking all that we could muster to summit and descend.

Eventually Jon and I found ourselves to be the only residents of East Creek Basin. With no source for weather reports, we were blessed with a relatively stable atmosphere and decided to attack the central west face of North Howser Tower—the main objective of our expedition. Reaching the base of the wall at 5:30 a.m., we climbed ten very long pitches through the lower corner system of Shooting Gallery into the Seventh Rifle gully, then following the face between Real Mescalito and Young Men on Fire to complete Doogie Howser (VI 5.11+) in 12 hours. A surprisingly mellow descent brought us back to basecamp in time for dinner as a
thunderstorm rolled in.

We had previously been stormed off of a route on Wide Awake Tower in the Pigeon Feathers and decided to return to finish it off. Once again, starting after noon, we climbed a wild stem-box with splitter cracks through a roof just right of Wild Fire (V 5.11+). After joining this route for a pitch- and-a-half, we cut hard right via a boulder problem that led us to a hanging dihedral near the main arête of the tower, pro- viding some of the most amazing and difficult climbing we encountered in the Bugaboos. After a final, wildly exposed moonlit summit pitch we finished Midnight Marauders (V 5.12 A1), returning to camp the same time as we had departed for North Howser a few mornings prior.

With our psych and stamina waning, and no amount of tape able to prevent our hands or fingers from bleeding, we each had one good fight left in us. We ended up climbing what Marc Piche says “Has long been talked about as the last obvious
line on the South Howser,” and which Jon had spotted on the cover of the guidebook before arriving. Our route, Compassion Club (V 5.11+) follows the chimney system on the northwest face of South Howser Tower that leads directly to the summit. The climbing ranges from immaculate corners to sopping chimneys full of microbial mat communities and couldn’t have been a better end to our trip.

We placed a total of six pins, a couple of lengths of cordelette, and no bolts on our new routes.

We would like to thank the following organizations, people, and varmints: The American Alpine Club’s Mountaineering Fellowship Award for helping fund our expedition; the team that bravely endured five days on the Beckey-Chouinard; all the nice folks that provided us with food, cooking shelter, ropes, booty cams, reading material, and company while in the mountains; and, finally, the poor snafflehound that met his maker in the East Creek shit barrel—no animal should have to endure what you did.

Bugaboo Provincial Park and East Creek Basin,
BC Crack of Noon, III 5.10-, new variation, East Peak
Two Birds One Stone, III 5.12+ A0, FA, Owl Tower, Pigeon Feathers
Tam Tam Boom Boom Pili Pili into Beckey-Rowell, IV 5.10+, Snowpatch Spire
The Beach, IV 5.11-, FFA, Snowpatch Spire
Red Fish, Blue Fish, IV+ 5.11+ C2 followed free at 5.12-, FA, Crossed Fish Peak
Cherchez La Femme, V 5.12 A0, FA, Snowpatch Spire
Midnight Marauders, V 5.12 A1, FA, Wide Awake Tower, Pigeon Feathers
Compassion Club, V 5.11+, FA, South Howser Tower
Doogie Howser, VI 5.11+, FA, North Howser Tower

Welcome to the Desert
Hannah Trim ('14)

A typical block break scene. Hannah Trim (’14) and company wake up to two stunning desert towers: Washerwoman and Monster Tower. Erik Rieger ('12)

We turned onto 211 late. We followed two familiar CC cars—both riding low from the weight of people and gear. Soon, John Collis (‘13) and company came whipping around the corner, splitting through a herd of cows.

We call it the desert. It has this sort of mystical quality to it. Rusted, drilled angles, and star-drives remind us to respect our elders. On our way down from Washer Woman last year, I watched in horror as Erik Rieger (’12) rappelled off two old pins and a flexing star drive, all held together, of course, with sun-bleached tat. That was a pretty safe rappel.

Every trip to the desert acquires a theme song. This time, “Got that off-black Cadillac, midnight drive, got that gas pedal, leaning back, taking my time. I’m blowin’ that roof off, letting in sky, I shine, the city never looked so bright…” The freshman walk the long roads; others load up on bumpers before driving into towers and walls of all shapes and sizes. It’s all kind of legendary.

It beckons us. We make the drive because we can’t help it; we’re obsessed. We romanticize it. We discuss tape glove tans and our clothes stained dirt red. And we talk: about the scariest climb, the hardest climb, the sketchiest gear, the biggest whipper, the lack of whippers, the lack of preparation, and the epics.

We go to the desert because we need it. It’s where we push ourselves, where we go to get scared. It’s where new climbers first taste an epic. We climb over our heads. We climb into the dark. We get really, really cold. It’s where we go to set the bar. It’s where we eat sardines, melons, drink beers, and strip our clothes on needle-like summits.

It’s never simple. We laugh, we grow, and sometimes we get really, really hurt.

The desert is the place that humbles us.

Upcoming Events

Just Finished! Paper copies will be in the mail soon. Email with your address if you’d like a copy. Download a digital version with the “Inside the Journal” tab.

I love bad pitches, that’s my problem

- Niels

The desert beckons.

- Hanson