Pigmy Cliff Pterodactyls, Part II: Red Rocks Gallery

Despite the false starts and missed connections, Veteran’s day at Red Rocks was full of good times and fluorescent clothing…

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Back to our regularly scheduled programming…

Directions were omitted from the first edition of the Trout Creek guide book. This left would-be crack climbers to scour central Oregon’s endless mesas – most capped with loose, misaligned basalt – for the one rumored to flaunt solid stone and dreamy splitters. The old-timers tell grand tales, some renting boats to run the Deschutes with binoculars, others embarking on three-day hiking missions – though most found the crag through word of mouth, which limited its frequenters to a close-knit few.

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A Gateway Mountain

I have a dirty secret, something that I rarely talk about anymore. The truth is, long before I could cam my toes into a hand crack or self-arrest with an ice axe, long before I had processed the mechanics of a traditional multi-pitch climb, I took college groups on organized weekend adventures. That’s right, that was me monopolizing popular cliffs with a gaggle of wreck-balling top-ropers in matching helmets.  It was a messy process, but I loved it.

Fast forward six years and now my weekends are my own: streamlined escapades where I have one, sometimes two partners and I can languish in my own agenda. The miles go quickly and the summits come easy….

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The Ugly Sister

Bend is a town where the soccer moms run a casual six-minute mile before picking up their national ski team-sons and sponsored sport climber-daughters. Bend is where you can stand in line for coffee with ultra-marathoners, ironmen and world class mountaineers. Much like Boulder, Central Oregon represents that ideal romance of sun, snowfall and geology that has conceived many an extreme endurance athlete.

This is a personality type that has trouble sitting still. Especially when multiple ten thousand foot volcanoes sit on the horizon batting their snowy eyelashes. And so it is that the hard-men of Bend have devised a backyard test piece that they call the Three Sisters Marathon, a traverse of three peaks encompassing 18 miles of scree-infested, glaciated terrain and over nine thousand feet of elevation gain.

Sisters from Terrebonne. South, Middle and North from left to right

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Better Science through Running?

Over labor day I ran my first half marathon. With my mom. And at the risk of alienating my most loyal readership, here we go…  The most challenging part? Not the distance, not the terrain, but getting the maternal unit to say something – anything – positive. There were too many runners to pass, too many potholes, too much sun, too many runners passing us, too much pain in her knee, too much gravel… and always, too many more miles to go.

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Places that are not Smith Rocks

I had long thought that in climbing I had found the ultimate insurance policy against unhappiness; that if everything in my life were to somehow go pear shaped, I could always buy a pickup, adopt a dog, and drive to Moab – that in this, I would be assured a certain degree of peace – not to mention sprinter-vans full of scruffy, eccentric companions

East face of The Matterhorn

Climbing gives you community, and so long as you try hard and give back, it’s generally a very accepting community.  I‘ve come to rely on this, especially on days when I manage to drop all of my experimental samples on the floor or otherwise ruin months worth of lab work.

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Well on my way to becoming a crusty mountaineer…

If mountains have personalities, Mt Adams surely showed its vindictive side last Sunday.

I’ve always thought of this twelve-thousand foot monolith as the most neglected of the cascade volcanoes. Only an hour and a half from Portland, Adams has no Timberline lodge, no U.S. ski team to dot its large and plentiful glaciers during the summer months, no claim to the Portland skyline. Rather, Adams is tucked behind a curtain of foothills that frame the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge, barely visible from anywhere in the state of Oregon. Instead of the thriving hotels, brewpubs and ski shops that flank Hood’s south slopes, Adams is guarded by a dusty outpost called Trout Lake, which offers visitors a general store, a gas pump and a ranger station – buildings that make you feel as though you should be hitching your horse in front rather than parking your Subaru.

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