Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Beyond Southern Oregon: Smith Rock

How many climbers does it take to screw in a light bulb?


You'd think climbing at Smith Rock would be similar... and, well, sometimes it is.

If you've ever been to Smith on a weekend or a holiday, you'll know what I'm talking about. People, dogs, babies, bikes, runners, hikers, old people, fast people, slow people, nubes, veterans, Germans, you name it, they'll be there. Sunday afternoon Smith Rock was the largest and probably, the most profitable climbing gym in Oregon! Fixed draws were hanging on all the classics, and so were all the people! (including me...) The queue on any route easier than 5.9 was longer than the line for the bathroom (probably because there weren't any rocks or bushes to hide behind). I'm surprised I didn't hear any techno music either. However, none of this is really news to most of you... I mean, I'm talking about Smith Rock, the origin of American sport climbing, on a weekend... Of course it's busy! It's always busy!

(How could this place go unclimbed?! Never. Photo by Jen)

We definitely added to the crowd on Sunday. Jen and I stayed with our friends Logan, Aura, and little Ukiah Carr, who all joined us at Smith. And our objective: to use all these brand new cams!     


 (8 shinny new Power and Master Cams! I like shinny things...)

You can probably guess what actually happened though. I mean, as I said earlier, we were at Smith. Sport climbing mecca... with trad gear? Well, let me show you what happened:


 (Hey, is that route bolted? Run-out on Latest Rage (5.12b) Photos by: Jen)

We began our day with the best intentions to use all the trad gear; however, we got suckered in! Smith is just too good! We were out of our element, out of Southern Oregon and on bigger, crazier sport routes. We just couldn't turn them down.

We began the day by warming up on a two-pitch route called Ancylostoma (5.9) that finished on a really fun and mellow second pitch, Bookworm (5.7). This was Jens' first "multi-pitch" route, which offered several good learning experiences.

 (Enjoying the nice summer breeze at the top of Bookworm. Photo by: Logan Carr)

The way down proved to be slightly difficult. From the top, it looked like our ropes were tossed perfectly. From the bottom (had any of us been down there), we would have noticed that the ropes didn't reach the ground, and were, in fact, jammed deeply into a crack, 30 feet off the deck. So we had to take a quick detour at the Anclyostoma anchors to suss out the situation and get our ropes untangled. Finally, back on the ground, as we were bombarded by the weekend warriors, we realized that we had left one of my draws on the route. So, we were now at the mercy of the German couple that was practically right on top of us, pushing us off the route as soon as we hit the ground to retrieve my forgotten draw.

Funny how things work. The Germans had some trouble descending the route as well. Trying to do what requires two ropes to rappel with only one rope; the ends were a bit shy. The German called down to the crowd, "Yas, how faar to ground!?"

The crowd yelled, "10 feet!" "15 feet!" These people were waiting to climb!

After a short pause, the German replied, "Umm... I do not ondurstaand... how faar is dis?"

"Like 10 feet short, Dude!"

The German shouted back, "How faar is dis.... ten feet? What das dat mean?"

I finally ondurstood! Us crazy Americans don't use the metric system. What a bunch of dummy Americans! I yelled, "3 meters!" We heard a laugh from above.

"Shiza!" and up the ropes went for the double rappel that took twice as long and made the crowd wait even longer.

I guess that's how things go when you're climbing at an international climbing destination. World class routes all over the place! Legendary routes and scary run-outs. History and abundance all wrapped in convenience. Ahh... history. Zebra striped spandex. Mustaches. Neon. Geometric shapes. Long hair (on dudes)...

I turned around: Chain Reaction! No queue. Draws hanging. Perfect weather. I was standing 10 feet from it (How faar is dis?!). Three meters. I knew where I was the whole time we were warming up and I knew I had to try Chain eventually. But I was scared. Not of falling or getting hurt or anything like that. I was scared to try because I told Olivier that I would climb it within three tries! Why the hell did I say that?! And once I start, the attempts add up quickly. Three tries...

I'm gonna make this story short. Try one: FAIL!

(Givin 'r gold on my first attempt! Chain Reaction (5.12c) Photo by: Jen)

(Whhaaa Hapin? Ukiah, curious about everything and fun to hang out with!)

Here's what hapin, Ukiah: I fell and Jen got rope burn.

I worked out the sequence and found my balance on the tricky arete. Bump after bump on pockets and pinches and smeary feet! Big move at the top (more on the "big move at the top" later) and I had pieced it together. First try, with a couple hangs, and I found myself at the top. I decided to save my next two attempts for the next day... 

(Good Job!)
(Hey... look at that pretty lady up there!)
I got distracted...

and we moseyed on.

(Moseying toward our trad route)

We made our way to the Cinnamon Slab (5.7), where I was going to put my cams to good use. And here's what happened: I began the route, used all my big pieces of gear at the bottom, I dropped a nut (literally... figuratively? I don't know...), ran out of gear, ran out of draws, and ran out the last 30 feet (9ish meters) to the anchors. What an amazing ascent! So stylish. The only thing that could have made it better would be if I had a mullet.

(Right about where I dropped my nut. Photo by: Jen)

We said our good-byes to the Carr family (Much thanks for your hospitality and the awesome day of climbing!) and we made our way to camp:

(Trippy! Photo by: Jen)

Every time I go camping while I'm sitting next to the fire, I day dream about climbing and bouldering and all the possibilities. I read guide books and visualize my last attempt on a route (or my next attempt). I eat what I think will help me climb better the next day (that includes beer). And I search for boulders, anything to climb, all around camp. And check out what we found!

(12 meters from the road at Skull Hollow camp ground! Photo by: Jen) 

(Look at this monster! Check out that line up the left side! Photo by: Jen)

Those look pretty sick, huh?!

Jen and I found these boulders while we were taking pictures by the fire. I peered up from the Smith Rock Guide, took a sip from my beer, a glanced down and left. I couldn't believe it! There, right next to me, the entire night, were these perfect boulders. The steepness and the angles were amazing! They have solid rock with perfect landings and awesome features! And they are right next to the road! I imagined that I had my shoes and crash pad with me. I sequenced all the moves and the top outs. Double under-cling start to a left hand pinch, big move, cut feet, heel-hook right, left hand to the sloper, match and mantle. I wanted to climb 'em right then!

It's too bad I'm not the size of a lego-man... cause these fire-pit rocks would be so rad! (I apologize for tricking any of you into thinking these were actual, life-sized boulders)

And that's what I do. I visualize myself climbing the rocks around the fire. I look at a tiny rock and I imagine that I am miniature. I sequence problems and climb them in my mind.

I realize this sounds funny; however, I think visualizing and "practicing" climbing like that is important.  Visualizing a climb keeps our climbing brains in tune with sequencing and reading routes. Whether you're actually climbing or just visualizing, our muscles can't tell the difference. They operate and start to twitch and function as if they are actually performing. Ever imagined a climb so vividly that your palms began to sweat? Try it. Pay attention to how your muscles feel. Then try it before you attempt your next project. See if it makes a difference.  

So, when you've sent your project over and over in your mind, it helps to find a new piece of rock to mix things up a little. And that rock can be as big, small, real, or fake as you'd like, as long as you climb it in your mind as accurately as you can. Or, just try it for fun!


(It's not a day dream anymore; it's Monday! Photo by: Jen)

Monday afternoon, the following day, perfect conditions, crisp, 65 degrees, no clouds in the sky, I counted 12 other cars in the parking lot! Where did everybody go? Don't people care about rock climbing?! How are we supposed to send hard when there isn't anyone to yell, "C'MON BRO!"?

Well the funny thing is, aside from Jen climbing her first outdoor lead ever, we didn't send hard... Jen led Five Gallon Buckets (5.8) flawlessly! Couldn't even tell it was her first lead. I fell on Chain Reaction three more times. In the same spot, at "the big move at the top." And when I say "the top," I literally mean the very last hard move. Right here:


(The top is just over that roof! Photo by: Jen)

Jen and I also struggled up Drilling Zona (5.11c) in some gnarly wind. I climbed some 5.8 trad route and found a lizard.

I think the hardest send of the day was Jen and I splitting three giant hamburgers at McMinamin's. I still don't know of anything better than a huge burger after a hard day of climbing.

Next stop, burgers in Bishop! (I'm sure we'll find plenty of "climber bros" down there to yell at us.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Round Two: Mill Creek. Team Rogue

The "Big Burger" at Phil's Frosty wasn't quite big enough... I mean, it did the job, I was fairly full, it tasted great, and I certainly didn't need any more food. However, I listen to what my body says, and after a long day of climbing hard, hauling pads, and scramblin' around at Mill Creek with Team Rogue, my body tells me to eat a big, fat, juicy, protein-packed, old fashioned hamburger. And, apparently, the kids felt the same way!

We were back at Mill Creek again, last weekend, for some more climbin' around. This time, Jen and I took some of the kids from Team Rogue (Cameron, Daisy, and Gabe), and, what can I say? They crushed it! 

First send of the day: Meeting at the gym. 

Once again, the forecast said rain. The trip was a "we'll see what the weather is like in the morning" type. Before we even met up and before I was even awake or had time to look out the window or google the weather, I got a text from, Daisy, asking about the weather and wondering if the trip is still on... and I thought I was dedicated! And then, Gabe... good ol' Gabe. Rode his bike from Ashland to the gym because his ride situation fell through. It made me smile to see him zip into the parking lot, sweating, totally out of breath. I asked him before he left if he really wanted to ride his bike, and his response was, "Anything for Mill Creek!" It's really cool to see the kids take initiative and be so psyched to be climbing outside. I guess that's one of the reasons I'm out there as well: keeping people psyched! 

Second send of the day: The Warm-Up Boulder

(Daisy, powering through the crux on T-Rail (V3) Photo by: Jen)

The warm up boulder is to the right of the main trail, just after descending the stairs to the Avenue of Giant Boulders. It holds several fun, tricky problems that require fairly specific footwork. This boulder is great for warming up because it offers moves that incorporate the entire body, all the holds are "open grip," and it has a nice, flat landing. There are several eliminate problems and some slightly contrived traverses which make the warm up boulder what it is: THE warm up boulder. Since it has been established, I don't think I've been there without climbing it first.  


(Gabe, working the moves of T-Rail (V3) Photo by: Jen)


(Just before Cameron locks off to her waist... so strong!)

Third send: The Soul Slab.

We wanted more. We passed the Heart Slab Boulder and made our way through the Beach Area and up toward the House Boulder and the Soul Slab Boulder. The last post about Mill Creek showcased the Soul Slab, which gives us Ghost Ride (V2) and Ghost Ride the Whip (V1). Flashing both, the girls made easy work of each problem:   

(Daisy, stretching for the top on Ghost Ride (V2) Photo by: Jen)

(Same move? Cameron, stretching for... not the top... yet.)
(Focused, even on the easy stuff. Cameron on Soul Slab (V0) Photo by: Joey)

The kids really got to work on all the new problems, but Jen and I can't let the kids have all the fun! So we threw on our shoes and joined in on the action. Jen climbed around on the Soul Slab, repeating the two, main classics.

(I think I'm standing on Jen's hand hold...)

I hopped on the un-repeated Pale Blue Dot (V10) a couple of times, but had no luck. I need to be more warmed up and I need more psych! The route involves some very steep roof climbing with a powerful heel hook to some even more powerful, bump moves. Very hard. Really classic. Here is a video of Jesse Firestone on the first ascent.... maybe it will get you psyched:

(Anybody try hard lately?)

Jesse gives us a perfect example of what it's like to really try hard (I could add another "really" or two before try hard... if you can't tell from the video). And I want to point out that this problem was climbed the day after the Moksha concert at the Rogue Rock gym. In other words, we had a less-than-ideal amount of sleep (3-4 hours), we were fairly dehydrated (apparently, not all liquids are hydrating...), and we were both dealing with lingering injuries (back and shoulder problems for Jesse and knee and heel problems for me). Beer and injuries... that's what makes us boulderers!

Now, I'm not bringing this up to make the ascent of Pale Blue Dot more "amazing" or more "bad ass." I want to point out that with adverse condition (whether they are natural or self-inflicted) some of the most amazing sends can be made, and some truly inspiring feats can be accomplished. Often, adversity increases the potential for setting personal records and climbing harder than ever before. I believe adversity can create the "underdog" effect. In other words, perfect conditions (a sunny, 50 degree day, 9 hours of sleep, no humidity, no injuries, and a bowl of Wheaties for breakfast) can cause people to climb nervous, because it's a rare opportunity and a climber might feel like he/she needs to take advantage of the "perfect" sending conditions. Whereas, if it's a little warmer than you'd like, your finger is bothering you, you need to take a dump, or things aren't exactly as you imagined, the pressures off! No worries! You're not "supposed" to send anyway... and when there is no pressure, you can really cut loose, climb relaxed, and possibly send harder than you've ever sent before!

(Cameron, relaxed and focused while sending Mr. Macho Man (V4) photo by: Jen)

Moments like that usually creep up, without notice, and fly by. Obviously, we can't know that we're climbing our best until the climb is over. And the moment you think you're climbing your best is the moment you will lose focus, drift out of "the zone," and take a fall. So I guess what matters most is to try hard, every route, all the time, because you never know what will happen. You might surprise yourself...
(Gabe, trying hard and sending on Low-Low Stand-Start (V5) Photo by: Jen )

We had a few suprises of our own after we moved down to the Beach Area and hopped on the Low-Low boulder. Gabe re-climbed one of his favorite routes: Low-Low Stand-Start (V5), which happens to be one of the first and one of the best problems at Mill Creek. It starts on two good crimps (which happen to be the last good holds on the problem as well), where a high foot and a mantle-ish move lead to a small, half-pad mono on a slab, which requires a lot of trusty footwork to a commiting finish above a flat, sandy landing. So good!

(Daisy, working the start moves of Low-Low)

(Getting brave off the deck! Photo by: Jen)

The cool thing about the Low-Low boulder is all the different starts. There is a sit start, with the right hand high and the left hand really low, which goes at around (V7). There is also a low-low start to Low-Low which start with both hands matched on the starting foot-jug from the stand start (Does that makes sense to anyone?), which goes at V7-V8+ (I have no idea, really). Well, here's a video so you can see for yourself!  
(Cool problem... Thanks for the encouragement, Gabe!)

The next project on that boulder is to go straight up, skip the stand start, and go up the hold-less slab!

(Crimp on the new project.. hhmmm, I have wrinkly knuckles...)

Final send of the day: Phil's Frosty Big Burger!

Sitting at Phil's Frosty, hangin out with the kids and Jen was pretty rewarding. You can't beat a summer day in March. It was nice to spend a day with Jen and some of the team kids, outside, gettin' dirty! We worked hard, had fun, and got a little better at climbing things. Which is kind of funny to me... "climbing things." But, you know, some people golf, some people play basketball, some people watch TV, and some people don't do a whole lot of anything... We climb stuff. And I think it's the best thing in the world.

See you out there.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Pluto's Cave

It's early. It's dark.

The alarm goes off again.

It's too early.

We look outside and the forecast was correct. It's raining.

I make coffee while Jen makes lunch.

I can't see the sun as I pack the car.

It's still raining.

I forget to brush my teeth. Too excited.

Hand warmers.. (check)

I remind myself of what a friend once told me: "No one wants to go skiing at 6:00am. That's why you have to decide to go the night before."

It's still too early

and we don't ski...

We rock climb:

(A short clip of a classic problem. Thanks Kevin!)

Once again we ventured down to Pluto's Cave. Our friend, Eric Stetner, joined us on this trip across the boarder, into California, where we drove out of the rain, past the fruit guards, and into the beautiful Shasta Basin. Mt. Shasta, rising 14,162 feet above the sea is our backdrop as we hike across the rocky, sage-brush plain, before we drop underground, into the lava tubes.

(Mt. Shasta, photo by: Olcay Caf)

(Down in the tubes! Photo by: Eric Stetner)

Legend says, there is a race of ancient people, living beneath the mountain. Here, the Lemurian Connection describes them:

          "The Lemurians living underground, beneath the mountain, are commonly described as graceful and tall – seven feet and up – with long, flowing hair. They dress in white robes and sandals, but they have also been seen in very colorful clothing. They are said to have long, slender necks and bodies, which they adorn with beautiful decorative collars made of beads or precious stones. They have evolved their sixth-sense, which enables them to communicate among themselves by extra-sensory perception. They can also teleport and make themselves invisible at will. Their mother tongue is the Lemurian language, called Solara Maru."

And my favorite part, "They also speak an impeccable English with a slight British accent."

Click HERE to find out more about our Lemurian friends

Seriously, it's pretty funny.

But, I can't say that I've seen anything quite that strange in Pluto's Cave. The weirdest thing, and probably the closest thing to a Lemurian that anyone will ever see in those caves are people wearing giant, 2ft x 4ft rectangle shaped backpacks, scrubbing rocks with a tooth brush, staring at the white skin on their hands, yelling at their feet, making strange white marking on the walls. They call the white marks "ticks." And then they actually climb the walls... upside-down. Weird.

We thought we would partake in similar rituals on our half day at the caves. But, before I talk about our recent trip, I want to go back a ways and tell a little about some of the previous problems that have and are still being climbed.

Last year, Jesse Firestone and I worked out a couple of problems in the main cave that, as far as we know, hadn't been climbed and still haven't been repeated. So, both are looking for a second ascent! The first is called Sexual Being (V7), put up by Jesse. It involves a few dynamic compression moves, toe hooks, a toe cams, and some other fun, interesting moves. I can tell you, it's highly sequential and will probably, never be flashed. The second, Cryptic People (V9), was put up by me and was named after our friends... you guessed it! The Lemurians. It climbs for 25 feet, directly out the center of the cave, requiring a high amount of power-endurance and lots of trickery. The next film shows both first ascents, filmed and produced by our friend, Kevin Curran. Check it out: 

DPM Video from Kevin Curran on Vimeo.

Click HERE to see more on the process of cleaning and working Cryptic People. It was a fun time with a fun group of people!

On our most recent trip to Pluto's Cave, we hung around the main cave tried some of the classics. There are several great warm ups on steep, juggy holds. Here's Jen on The "V3" (V4):

(Photo by: Eric Stetner)

Moving out of the main cave, you will find the arch! The arch rises 20' off the deck and holds one of the toughest and scariest problems at Pluto's Cave. If the height doesn't get to you, maybe the horrible landing or the chossy top-out will. Also, even though I managed to pry several, precarious blocks off the arch... there might be one or two more yet to come off. Yikes! Here is Eric, working the moves on the first V6 boulder problem of the long arch problem: 

(Crimppppp! Photo by: Jennifer Ross)

After the first section, the tricky roof section begins. More knee bars, heel hooks, and toe hooks with my back 12-15 feet off the ground, until I gain the "Bail Jug." The Bail Jug is the last point on the route where bailing is a safe option. In other words, if someone were to fall after the Bail Jug, they might end up with a high-ankle sprain on their right ankle, from landing on one of the many awkward and uneven boulders, putting them out of climbing for months, causing them lots of pain that still lingers to this day. Just sayin. That could happen...

Well, a year has gone by and I'm back on the horse!

(Re-figuring the first section of The Cosmic Game (V9) Photo by: Jennifer Ross)

It's been over a year of trying and failing. It's been almost a dozen trips to Pluto's Cave, in the snow, rain, and the hot summer sun. We're under ground, in outer space, hangin' with Lemurians. Climbing the arch is the cosmic game. It makes me nervous. It tests my ability to focus. It calms me down and it freaks me out. Let me show you: 

(Start to Bail Jug, Filmed by: Camera sitting on Rock)

I am going to climb the arch and I can not wait! I am going to climb from the dusty, cave floor, up and over and out, onto the sage-covered Shasta Basin. It will be warm up there. The sun will be out and my eyes won't be fully adjusted to the light. Mt. Shasta, off in the distance, will be brighter than ever. I will be out of breath and feel the endorphins pumping through my veins as I crawl to top. I will be dirty. My hands will bleed and my mouth will be dry. My whole body will pulse with life.

(From the pit to blue sky!)

The end of this boulder problem is not a small perch atop an island of rock, where I will soon have to search and scoot and crawl my way back down to flat ground. This problem ends on flat ground, surface level, with a mountain staring down at me, saying, "climb me next."

Not gonna happen. I don't climb mountains... So, let's just say my mountain is in a cave, underground.

Although, we didn't finish a whole lot of problems, it was great to be outside, climbing with friends, and working on the next big project. Jen and Eric will get theirs eventually ("The V3"). I can tell. As for me, I need a little more time, a few more pads, and a couple more spotters! Then, hopefully, I can move to another cave.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Rattlesnake Cleanup

I want to take a small break from Mill Creek and, as I said before, tell a bit about the happenings at the Rattlesnake Cleanup. It was cold; it was wet; it was muddy. But it made us all feel nice and warm inside! And now, we have a fully operational sport crag! Trees, were moved (well, dead trees.. I guess those are considered logs), steps were built, rocks were crushed, metal was bent (with bare hands!). A lot was improved. I can only show you some of it and tell you slightly more, so, you'll just have to go out there for yourself to really see it all. And while you're there, you won't even have to watch your step anymore... unless there's a rattlesnake.

But first, I would like to say thanks to Willie Long for organizing this clean up. Without Willie, we would still be saying things like, "we really need to fix that trail," or, "that log is going to kill someone, one of these days." We all really appreciate your effort and your initiative for making it happen and not allowing any trees to hurt anyone. 

Also, a huge thanks to all the volunteers we had out there! Everyone was excited and working hard! And finally, a big thanks to, Greg Orton, for providing most of the pictures from the cleanup, and for driving from Roseburg, with a big trailer, and hauling out all the garbage that we gathered. You guys all rocked! Thank you all, very much!

Now, I want to talk about trash and garbage. Most of the trash was found along the gravel road, up to the trailhead. And I'm not talking about candy wrappers and cigarette butts. People, over the years, have dumped TV's, mattresses, car parts, cars, tires, cans, glass bottles, you name its, whatchamacalits, schloppity-schlopp, and gluppity-glupp (see Dr. Seuss for definitions)... Anyway, just like you might call up a friend and say, "Yo, bro, let's go crush at the 'snake tomorrow," I envision this similar interaction:

Hubert: "Hey, Rupert..."
Rupert: "Yeah?"
Hubert: "You 'member dat ol', beat up, broke-down, wash machine yous got out back, der? (points out front)
Rupert: "Yeah."
Hubert: "Whadayousay, we bring dat thang up in dem hills, above da Cove, and shoot da hell outta dat somabitch?!"
Rupert: "Grab yur shotgun! Let's kill us a wash machine!" 

You can imagine what happens next.

Garbage is a big problem and will continue to be one. Not only garbage from random locals, but, garbage from, yes, climbers. Apparently, climbers like to drink beer. And, apparently, when people drink, they stop caring about things. I also know that some people are lazy and/or don't care to pick up beer cans/bottles. Sometimes, people even stab holes into cans, pull the tab, shotgun the entire beer, smash the can on their forehead, yell something like "I am all that is MAN," then throw the can out and away from the fire-pit, never to be seen again. And I'll be honest, I've had a water bottle slip out of my hands and fall down the 100' slope/cliff, into the abyss. And I have probably left garbage, unnoticed. Basically, people leave an impact. Which is why we have to organize cleanups, and why organizations like Access Fund exist:

Access Fund helps climbers in all sorts of ways, from securing access to climbing areas in danger of being shut down, to sponsoring local crag cleanups, to offering legal consulting for groups and organizations trying to begin or remain climbing at crags across the country. Access Fund was a sponsor for this event, by putting the Rattlesnake Cleanup on their scheduled events calendar, and by donating some prizes for a raffle (I won a beanie!)

Other sponsors for the Rattlesnake Cleanup were:


I apologize if I forgot any other sponsors. I know there were more, but I don't recall who they were.

Now, enough about garbage, it's time for trail maintenance! 

As some of you know, Forest Capital (the logging company which partly owns Rattlesnake) harvested a bit of their crop - who says money doesn't grow on trees? As you might have guessed, they left a mess of our approach trail, destroying approximately 100 yards of it. Our crew moved logs out of the way, carved a path, and re-established the approach trail.

(New trail, awesome crew! Photo by: Greg Orton)

In the mean time, Greg made his way from the bottom of the road to the start of the trail, picking up garbage and trash along the way. Looked like a full, 15+ foot long trailer, packed with garbage. They say, one mans trash is another mans treasure.... 

(The garbage... along with the garbage crew! photo by: Greg Orton) 

While all that ^ was going on, Don, Haley, and I drove to the top of Aurora Buttress and hiked down with power tools, wood, hammers and saws, and fixed some key portions of trail. We focused, first, on the blown-out section of trail below the Orange Wall. A support log had broken or fallen, leaving a 10ft gap between the trail, with pieces of re-bar sticking out, on less than level ground, above a 40ft drop. Kinda sketch, especially if your climbing with kids, drunk people, or decided to invite Hubert or Rupert. We replaced the log, secured it with re-bar, placed new rock and dirt to make a nice, level, and flat portion of trail again (I'd sleep on it).

Next, past the Cathedral, below the Dominator Wall, we pried one of the recently fallen trees out of our way and re-established the main path. Here's the crew, putting in stone steps, up the steep slope where the tree used to be:

(Woop Woop! Photo by: Greg Orton)

Our final project was rebuilding the steps past the Dominator Wall. You know, the one with the missing step and the rusty nails sticking out everywhere. It was a tricky job. Not because the nails were hard to remove, or because most of the wood was rotten, but because I brought the wrong kind of screws.... oopsies! Who woulda thought they make screws that aren't Phillips Head or Flat Head? However, we managed to work our way around that problem and put in a brand new side and a couple new steps. They are definitely more sturdy and should last another 10 years at least... Southern Oregon will just have to wait to find out!

(Lisa Stutey, smiling at Greg taking a picture of her. Photo by: Greg Orton)

(Stairway to heaven? Photo by: Greg Orton)

And that is the extent of our Rattlesnake Cleanup. I know I spent a lot of time talking about garbage and beer cans and trash and gluppity-glupp, but I have to say, Rattlesnake is one of the most beautiful places to climb in Southern Oregon. It has some amazing features (The Cathedral, Rainy Day Cave, and the Dominator Wall) and some amazing climbing to go along with. 

(All the volunteers in the Cathedral. Photo by: Greg Orton)

It's been months since I've climbed at Rattlesnake. And being there, fixing all the things that I've always wanted to fix I look back on my experiences out at Rattlesnake, and I realize that they are some of the best climbing experiences I've ever had. Not because it's the most scenic, most foreign, or the best quality routes. It's because Rattlesnake is our local sport crag. It's a place were climbers can be comfortable pushing their limits, learning how to lead, trying a new grade, or climbing outside for the first time ever. Try to remember the first time you were there. Did you climb Split Decision? Arabesque? The Great Bear? Did you finish the route? Was the sun out? Were you with your friends? And if you haven't been there, I hope you get the chance to experience a day at Rattlesnake