2011 Year in Review

I am writing this to chronicle my first calendar year in Las Vegas, January through December.   It has been a eventful year for me and this will help me keep track of what happened when.   Like my annual birthday challenges, I want to make this an annual process i.e. review and chronicle each year.  I hope it doesn't come off as too much spraying but this is more for my personal reflections and a record for me and my friends and family than a normal trip report type of blog.  As such, it's all about me, my experiences, and my achievements!!!

Sport Climbing
January brought my sport climbing mentors, Nick Martino, Jenn Fleming, Adam Peters and Caryn Courcier.   I learned more about sport climbing during their stays than all the years before.   It culminated with this:
I later returned and on my third trip to finally sent Yaak Crack clean (5.11c) and was able to send it two more times after that.   I was also treated to Adam and Caryn sending "The Gift", 5.12d on consecutive burns.
Caryn on The Gift.
 Adam on The Gift

I got to watch Nick working and sending 5.13.
Nick on "Beyond Reason" 5.13b

 Nick gave me a full session as a belay slave and taught me how to work a route (I was doing it all wrong).  I was also able to cleanly lead "Marshall Amp" 5.11b, after first being a weenie and top roping it clean.
Nick on Marshall Amp

Jason Roy and Josh McKinnon make a quick visit just to try Yaak Crack (or maybe to get out of the crappy Arkansas winter)

Cochise Stronghold
January also brought my first trip to Cochise Stronghold to climb "Ewephoria"
Nat on the hike to the smooth granite of Cochise Stronghold.
Joe on the final pitch of Ewephoria

I also got to experience hiking in the Superstition Mountains with Natalie.

Whale watching.
Another new experience was to see west coast whales and dolphins and to see San Diego for the first time.

Adventures with Dave (part 1)
When Dave visits, I get to climb some awesome routes that are beyond my current pay grade!   I will lead a pitch here and there but generally, Dave acts as my own personal rope gun on his visits.

Adventure Punks (Adventure Yuppies for us since we skipped the 10d offwidth final pitch)  Below a visiting Brit climbs the awesome hand crack.

Challenger - 5.10d roof.

Texas Hold'em - we stopped before the 5.11c pitch

Rainbow Wall - we only did the first pitch - 5.11c/d  A party of 3 jumped right in and came up to the first pitch belay and actually asked to pass so we bailed.

 Plan B became Nightcrawler - 5.10c (amazing stemming)

Yosemite, Sequoia, San Francisco, San Diego
May brought a long awaited trip to Yosemite and Sequoia NP.
Natalie the tree hugger.

Our first views in Yosemite were pretty wet but amazing.
When the weather cleared we got a tastes of the slick Yosemite granite.  First on El Cap.
Then by Yosemite Falls
The hike up to the top of Yosemite Falls was also unforgettable.

Another new experience on the trip was ocean kayaking into sea caves in San Diego

Maura moves in.
One great addition to my house this year was Maura!!!  She loved Kappy and was my built in dog-sitter when I wanted to take a trip.

Maura and I made a day trip to Crawdad Creek in Veyo Utah in order to do some sport cragging.  The result was my first and only 5.12 redpoint.   Admittedly soft for the grade with a short sequence boulder problem made easier with a tall man's knee bar, it was still listed as a 5.12a

Nat's boys visit.
Natalie's boys visited her in Scottsdale and made a side trip to Red Rock to experience some multi-pitch climbing.  We took them up Johnny Vegas to give them something to remember.
We also had to show them sport climbing so we brought them to the Black Corridor with Kappy.

HCR Via Ferrata
I took a quick trip around the 4th of July back to Kansas City to visit the kids and to see Ashley's new house.  

We also got a chance to get some previewing in at HCR and to experience our first via ferrata.  You climb on rock, rebar rungs, wire bridges, and into caves while attached to a cable next to the route with special leashes.

Ashley's Birthday Trip
One of the best times of the summer was when Ashley came out for her birthday.  We both got to go board surfing in San Diego.  What a great thing to share with her.
We also did some hiking and celebrating.

Mt Charleston (round 1)
Our hike took a bit over 8 hours.   It convinced me that this hike would be a worthy challenge for my birthday.

Birthday Challenge
Next stop: 62 !!   It was time for my annual birthday challenge.  This year it was the full 18+ mile round trip hike/run of Mt Charleston (the highest point in southern Nevada) followed by 62 laps on routes 5.10 or harder at the Red Rock Climbing Center.
On top of Mt Charleson.   Time for up the south trail and down the north: 5 hrs 1 minute 6 seconds.   
I was pretty wasted at the end but knew there was still the climbing session.  Thankfully, it took about and hour to get to the gym so I had some time to recover a bit.  The rules were that I could do up to 5 laps on any 5.10 or 5.11 with the extra 2 laps needed had to be on 5.11.  There were a limited number of routes of this grade in the gym so I had to make do.
One of my repeats on a 5.11.   Just when I thought I was going to cruise, I fell on my 61st route, a 5.11.  I tried again and again fell.  I tried another 5.11 and again failed.  Finally, I picked the easiest one and got in my last two climbs.

Bridge Mountain
It was full on HOT summer time so part of the training was long hikes with Maura.  The best by far was Bridge Mountain, the highest point in Red Rock.   After a long boring hike on a road, you reach the trailhead.   A couple of miles of hiking get you to the overlook where you can finally see your goal.  Bridge Mountain has a huge natural bridge and an awesome, non-trivial scramble to the summit.   The best non-technical summit ever.

The 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell would be special since Maura, Nat, Kappy and I were going to make the road trip in Maura's van then Maura was going to team up with Humberto to experience 24HHH for the first time.  We went whole hog with hair cuts, costumes, arm wrestling, and a bit of ROCK CLIMBING.
The western contingent in the super van
Chin strap haircut
Getting the game hair right

Nat on Crimp Scampi

Crimp from above!  Hey, where did my hair go?

Natalie won first in Advanced Women, Maura won third in Intermediate Women, and I won the Social Security division (as if there was one).   Nat really stepped up her game this year with 95 routes - 35 5.10's, (2 10d, 6 10c, 13 10b, and 14 10a).  My results were 94 routes, 37 5.10's, 1 5.11, 34 5.9's.  Nat redpointed Cracked Rib during the comp and I redpointed Port Side.  Those sends were highlights for us both.   But my most memorable experience was a long, drawn-out arm wrestling match with Brent Perkins (the overall winner of the comp).  I didn't know who I was matched with until later but this old man was able to eek out the win.   I was wondering why so many people were going nuts in the audience.  Alas, the next round brought on the non-climbers and soon all the big footballer types rolled over the skinny climber guys.  Our little van of westerners came back with quite a haul from the swag table since they gave swag for haircuts (me), anyone that had done the 24 all 6 years (Nat and me), arm wresting (Nat got second female) and, of course, placing in your division (Nat and Maura).  

Time to slooowwww down and semi-relax for a bit.  As much as it would be nice to take advantage of the fitness from the 24 training, it was time to ease off a bit and recharge the batteries.  Maura moved back to San Francisco when we got back to Vegas (was it something I said?)  so I no longer had a live-in climbing partner.   But, then the high-light of the year came with Natalie moving from Phoenix to casa Dower (now casa Dower/Neal)  

Dave and Callie - round 2
The food chain, Kappy, Pente, Biner

Power Failure

Leading the scary first pitch of Unimpeachable Groping (long way to the first bolt).

Shut down on the off-width part of Out of Control (one hang)

Thanksgiving - we host 20 people, most of whom we don't know, for a great feast but also were able to treat Jim Davila (Nat's former Phoenix climbing partner) to his first multi-pitch trad climb, Birdland.

Jeremy finally visits.
Jeremy Collins, his wife Tricia, Rob O'Blennis and his wife Lori came in town for the Rock n Roll 1/2 marathon and a bit of climbing and Vegas fun at the beginning of December.   The weather didn't cooperate so big plans became short windows of opportunity.

Jer rope guns on Ying Yang - I hung but found out I need to work on my crack skills.

Great evening at "O" with Natalie, Jer, Trisha, Kurt Smith, and Elaina

Race night was cold but I ran 1:41.43 for the best time for anyone over 55 from Las Vegas.  8th for 60 and over male.  Averaged 7:46 per mile.  A bit disappointed in the time but considering my lack of training mileage I really can't complain.

Bridge Mountain round 2
It was not Nat-friendly weather but she was willing to do the Bridge Mountain hike even with cold and snow.  We didn't summit because of the ice but she got to see our hiking goal for the spring.

I got an early trip to KC for Christmas with the kids.

 And Ashley's boyfriend, Brian.

One really fun time was to get Ashley to go to Ibex and try climbing again.  This was the first time since she was about 10 and she was able to look good on 5.7's.

When I got back to Vegas, we got a short, pre-xmas visit from some of our favorites, Kurt, Ryan, and Maura.  Weather wasn't great but we got in some sport climbing, some multi-pitch, and some gift exchanging.

T-shirt weather at The Gallery

Early X-mas

Maura and Nat teamed up for Rawlpindi and Kurt and I teamed with Ryan for his first muti-pitch trad climb, Birdland.

Nat and Maura on the left with Ryan leading Birdland on the right.

Nat steps up her game leading the runout Rawlpindi with Maura.

So, what more excitement could crop up as 2011 comes to an end?   I had done sport climbing with Nick, trad climbing with Dave and Jeremy.  all I needed was to add to my climbing repertoire with get some bouldering tips.   Not to disappoint, Paul Robinson and Alex arrive just as 2011 ended.  Kappy got to go on a session to Kraft Boulders.

On New Years Eve I got to witness the way boulders attack their projects.  Paul sent an existing project for a first ascent (estimated V11).  

Nice way to end the year.  Paul is staying at casa Dowre/Neal for most of January so I should be able to pick up a pointer or two.

There were many other climbs during the year, such as Crimson with Joe and again with Maura, Frogland with Nat, Group Therapy with Nat, Varnishing Point with Maura and Nat, Topless Twins with Nat, Purblind Pillar, 1st pitch of Plan F (5.10a trad),  and some tough on-sights of sport climbs at the Second Pullout - Burros Don't Gamble 5.10c, Burros Don't Fly 5.10b, Foe 5.11a, Nightmare on Crude Street 5.10d, The Runaway 5.10b, American Sportsman 5.10c, April Fools 5.10b

Athletic highlights for me for 2011:
  Yaak Crack (the Gallery) three times 5.11c
  Marshall Amp (Stratocaster wall) 5.11b
  Homeropolis (Crawdad Creek) 5.12a
  Mt Charleston loop (18+ miles) 5 hrs 1 min 6 seconds.
  62 top rope laps in the gym 5.10 or above 
     22 5.11's and 40 5.10's - 4 hrs 10 min - after Charleston 
  3.8 mile training run sub 7 minute miles.
  Camelback Mountain Cholla Side: 24:54
  24HHH - 14th in Advanced - 38 leads of 5.10a or greater
       Nat and I had the 8th team out of 30 Advanced Teams and 43 Intermediate Teams.

Time to bring on 2012.  It will be hard to top 2011.