Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Trip of a Lifetime

Well, after 19 days and 226 miles, we survived the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon! That may be a little dramatic, but the trip was not without serious adventure. The whitewater on the Colorado River is big, fast, and cold. All of these rapids went smoothly with one exception: Horn Creek. 

For some reason, this rapid had our number. 3 of our 5 rafts had swimmers on this rapid, and I managed to flip my boat! Whitewater rafting is a lot like climbing. The big rapids have a very specific sequence in order to make it through safely. If you get off line (mess up the sequence), you're in trouble. Entering Horn Creek Rapid, I felt that my position and angles were correct. Unfortunately I was wrong. Very wrong. Instead of pulling wide of a huge hole in river center, we hit it square. I lost my grip on the right oar, which prevented me from correcting our drift toward a huge boulder. I screamed "high side!" as soon as I saw what was going to happen, but it was no use. Over we went into the cold, loud, viscous river. The boat before us had the oarsman fall out and the boat after us had their passenger fall out! We all escaped with some bumps and bruises, but no major damage. Whew!

As a climber, I was particularly interested in the geology at the bottom of the canyon. Depending on where you are, the quality and type of the rock varies dramatically. My favorite features were the Muav Limestone in Marble Canyon, the Redwall Cavern, and the Vishnu Shist. These all provided unique and fun bouldering opportunities, including a little "deep water soloing" right out of the raft! 

I'm now back in Yosemite for my fourth season on the Dawn Wall Project with Tommy Caldwell and new team member Jonathan Siegrist! I'll post an update about this shortly. Until then, enjoy the following photos from the Grand Canyon! 


Monday, October 8, 2012

A Grand Adventure

For more than 20 years, my dad has been on the wait list for a private permit to raft down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. I grew up rafting. Some of my earliest memories are on the river or next to a river. As far back as I can recall these rafting trips, I also remember hearing how some day, we were going to raft the mighty Colorado River. Well, that day is finally here! This is not a commercial trip. We are guiding ourselves, packing our own stuff, and responsible for our own safety. We wouldn't have it any other way!

Here are a few photos on the road to the Grand Canyon:

This appears to be an early attempt at guiding. My brother is the one with no front teeth.

We are clearly a well coordinated team.....

Matt hams it up for the camera while I scout the next rapid....or the boulders on the shoreline....

Pulling hard away from some rock on the South Fork of the American River

Hit it straight! 

Nearly losing Matt! 
Dad (Eric) and Brother (Matt) on a 5 day trip down the Eel River in Northern California 
The master "River Rat" himself, ninja of reading the rapids, efficient systems, and guide mentor, dad 
After a long day on the river, a cold one and talking smack is in order
Now that the trip is finally here, I've been studying up on the river and its rapids like its the Dawn Wall Project. I'll be rowing one of the five 18' rafts we have for the trip. The of the major rapids have their myth, their story, and their promise to dump you and your gear into the cold dark water if you don't run it right. Here's what it looks like to get a little sideways in the infamous "Lava Falls..."

So, for the next 19 days, starting today, I'll be completely off the radar. I'm can hardly wait to be all rigged and on the river! 

Now, it just so happens that our trip is taking place during the entire month of October, which is prime Dawn Wall season. After months of deliberation over whether to just do the Dawn Wall, just do the Canyon, or to hike out of the Canyon after 7 days, I've obviously decided to do the entire river trip. While both trips are incredibly important to me, this trip down the Colorado with family is truly once in a lifetime. 

After talking with Tommy, we have decided to grow the Dawn Wall team and take more of an expedition approach. With more than two team members, we will have more energy, more back up, more talent, and all around good times on the wall. So, we are super happy to have Jonathan Siegrist joining the team! Jonathan is such an awesome guy, with such great talents, Tommy and I couldn't be happier to have him up on the wall with us. If you're not already following Jonathan, be sure to check out his great site:  For the month of October, Tommy and Jonathan will be battling away on the crux pitches. As soon as I get off the river at the end of October, I'll be driving straight to Yosemite to join them! 

One of the most stunning pitches I've ever climbed on....pitch 16
Well, as soon as I click Publish, I'll be putting the finishing touches on packing and driving to Lee's Ferry with the crew to put in on the river! I'll be exploring the vast amount of rock down there as well, so hopefully when I emerge from the canyon, I'll have some stories and photos to share of not just the rapids and camp life, but of some great climbing as well. 

Cheers everybody. And thank you all for the birthday wishes! 


Saturday, March 31, 2012

Photos from PCI Clinic in San Diego

This past weekend, I was at Mesa Rim Climbing and Fitness Center in San Diego, CA for the PCI Clinic with Daniel Woods, Ethan Pringle and Angie Payne. What a roster! The participants were PSYCHED and the community showed tremendous support and energy. Daniel, Angie and Ethan did an amazing job instructing, once again demonstrating that the world's best climbers can also be world class instructors. "I was really impressed with all the instructors ability to articulate advanced forms of movement, complex movements, in a way that’s very assessable to different levels of climbing" said Ian McIntosh, general manager and co-owner of Mesa Rim.

We worked with climbers of all ages and abilities over the weekend. I was really impressed with all the participants. It takes humility to accept that we can learn from another climber. Climbers are a stubborn bunch, by nature. It should be noted that the athletes who teach PCI Clinics bring the same amount of humility.

"I’ve been climbing now for 17 years and I continue to learn. I learned a lot at this clinic and one of the beauties of our sport is the learning progression we all go through" said Daniel after the clinic was over. Angie shared a similar sentiment. "I’ve always known that I can continue to learn, but this just reminds me. It’s really humbling. Even after climbing for 15 years, I’m still learning every single day. Every group that came through I learned more and more."

Here are a few video stills we shot over the weekend. Keep an eye out for a few videos we hope to have edited in the coming week or so. In the meantime, enjoy the photos and a big thank you goes out to our amazing Partner gym, Mesa Rim.

Daniel Woods taught The Plumb Line and Deadpoint Station over the course of the weekend.

Here Angie Payne works with John Raber, one of our many participants during our sold out Sunday Clinic.

Daniel explains Deadpoints to a group of young, eager, and talented kids.

Ilia Talalai, a Mesa Rim staff member who took the clinic to improve his setting and teaching skills, sticks a massive Pogo.

Mesa Rim General Manager and co-owner Ian McIntosh compares and contrasts the back step with the pogo at the Pogo Station with Angie and I. Hint: when the foot hold is too low to generate momentum and lift on a long move, a pogo is the way to go.

Ethan taught the very popular Dyno Station over the weekend, which resulted in equal parts of smiles and flappers.

Dana Andersen won the award for most psyche and most flappers. "I got 10 and half flappers from this clinic. They were totally worth every single one of them." Based on that face, I believe him.

I think it's fair to say that Nekaia Sanders is PSYCHED to get her special edition PCI posters signed by Daniel, Angie and Ethan.

Each day begins with a short discussion about the structure and approach to the clinic. If you haven't been to a PCI Clinic before, we split groups of 24 into equal groups of 8, based on ability. These three groups then rotate between three stations that each athlete teaches throughout the day. Participants spend 45 minutes with each station, get to climb and learn from all three athletes, and there are 6 stations total.

Nekaia got a proper flapper on the Dyno Station with Ethan. We taped it up quick and she was back on the wall, impressing everyone in the building with her talent.

The Pogo is a unique and relatively new-school technique. Here I explain the importance of the leg kick to generate the momentum necessary to cover large distances between holds.

Here we are getting ready to transition from station to the next.

Here, the king of flappers himself, Dana, executes perfect form on the Plumb Line Station with Daniel. Note the straight right arm, arched back, left foot back step, and smeared trailing leg. Well done!

Angie was great at correcting form while teaching the Wave of Extension Station. Here, Nekaia get's into position.

Instant video analysis is a great learning and teaching tool we employ at PCI Clinics. Here Angie and Faith observe her last attempt at the Wave of Extension Station before trying again.

Daniel was great at explaining how the position of the foothold, relative to the Plumb Line, effects your body position on the wall.

Monday, March 12, 2012

San Diego Special Event!

Hey Everyone!
I'm happy to say that on March 23, 24, and 25, I will be at Mesa Rim Climbing and Fitness Center with Angie Payne, Daniel Woods, and Ethan Pringle! Aside from being great friends, this is a class act gathering of athletes who are all super stoked to work and climb with the community in Southern California.

On Friday night, we will be helping out with a fundraiser for Outdoor Outreach. On Saturday, from 10am-4pm, we will be running a Youth Clinic. On Sunday, from 10am-4pm, we will be running an Adult Clinic. This is a great opportunity to make friends with and learn from these athletes, all of whom placed either 1st or 2nd at ABS Nationals this month!

You can lock in a $50 savings by signing up BEFORE THIS FRIDAY at!

The 6-hour clinic is all about technique and movement, using PCI's own "Station" teaching method. Not only do participants get the experience of getting to know the athletes in a small group setting, but you get to genuinely improve your climbing. We have worked long and hard to analyze our climbing styles, and to develop an effective teaching curriculum. We are proud of the product and believe you will be impressed by the results as well.

Me and Alex Johnson teaching The Plumb Line and Heel Hooking at Planet Granite in San Francisco.

The PCI Mantle Station - Midnight Lightning here you come!

This is only a small sampling of the Clinic Stations we teach at each clinic. Regardless of your climbing ability, I can personally guarantee that you will learn something that improves your climbing. We have had v0 climbers and youth national champions climbing side by side at a clinic, with both climbers taking away huge amounts of useful insight into technique and movement. Pretty cool and very rewarding for us as athletes.

"I feel like my son learned more in one day than in an entire year of weekly lessons. From the organization of checking in, to the wrap up session and autograph signing, the entire event went flawlessly!"
- Andrew Halford, SF Clinic

You can find more information and sign up by visiting

I hope to see you all there! If you have any question, feel free to hit me up at!


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Special Offer for PCI Clinic

The next 6 people to sign up for the PCI Clinic or Semi-Private Lessons in San Francisco will receive 30% off their entire next order of Asana Climbing gear! Been wanting a new crash pad? This could save you $100 bucks!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Hey Bay Area Climbers!

Hey Bay Area Climbers!

There are only a few spots left for Saturday's Youth Clinic and Adult Semi-Private lessons. Sunday is already SOLD OUT.

This time, we will be having Steven Jeffery, Carlo Traversi, Beth Rodden and myself present to teach a 6-hour Youth Clinic and a 2-hour Adult Semi-Private lesson. All the details are below, but the short and sweet of it is:

- The youth clinic is going to focus on competition preparation and strategy. With ABS Nationals right around the corner, this is the opportunity to improve your competition game just in time for the big event. SIGN UP HERE:

- The adult semi-private lesson is going to focus on the art of the Pogo, the intricacies of Flagging, and how these both apply to boulder problems at your limit. Carlo Traversi calls the pogo "by far the most essential technique in my climbing." You can see a video of a pogo here:

There are only a few spots left for both the Youth Clinic and the Adult Semi-Private Lessons. Sign up now while you can!

Youth Clinic:
Semi-Private Lessons:

Hope to see you there!


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Injury Update

A little over a week ago, I sustained a season ending ankle injury while climbing on pitch 15 of the Dawn Wall project on El Cap. There's not much more to say than that. I'm extremely disappointed to not be on the wall right now, pursuing this dream project and supporting Tommy.

The injury occurred while attempting the 8 foot sideways dyno on pitch 15. On my first attempt of the season, I threw with everything I had, hoping to stick the move with the muscle memory from last year. I made good contact with the hold and began to hold the swing. Usually, the left foot slides down the wall, stopping when it hits the corner and halting the swing. Instead of sliding, my foot stuck upon first contact, and rolled. It then continued to slide down the wall until it hit the corner and rolled again. I instantly knew something was wrong, but a combination of shock and denial clouded the pain enough for me to try a few more times, until I stuck the dyno.

Upon lowering to the belay, I knew something was terribly wrong. I called my amazing physio Vicki Chung from the wall and made an appointment for the next day. Less than 24 hours later, I was in her office getting checked out. An X-Ray revealed that it wasn't broken. Three appointments later, the swelling had gone down and we were able to get a good assessment of the damage: bruised bones and a combination of stretched and compressed ligaments. I should recover fully with time, but for now, any kind of inversion or eversion of the ankle is still painful with the joint itself feeling quite unstable thanks to the stretched ligaments. 4 weeks of no climbing.

Seeing Tommy's updates from the wall is surreal. I feel out of place without the exposure under my toes, chalk on my hands, the sounds of gear being clipped, the pain of those sharp holds under my fingers, and the monumental task at hand that we've been working for so long. Tommy of course is charging ahead, now with the support of his amazing wife Becca. Since October 2009, this has been a team effort. To be a member of a team is to act with selflessness in the name of success. If Tommy sends without me, I will be happy to have helped push this project to completion. If not, we will be back.

Go get it Tommy. Eye of the Tiger!

- KJ aka Hector