This page contains quick news items, and gives the most up-to-date information on our whereabouts.
|October 30, 2009||THE END of this trip. Lucie suffered a stroke - completely out of the blue - on the way back from a day of shopping in Moab (as of Dec 20 she is recovering well and has no physical issues at all, only language issues). This marked the official end of the trip... a bit earlier than we thought. We had been planning to spend the winter in Ouray, CO. Now if we can only find the time to get the site completed...|
|October 18, 2009||We just had our first day of climbing in a few years at the Shangri-La of pure crack climbing: Indian Creek, Utah. Every time I come here, I cannot believe the beauty of this place. We hope to spend a month or morehere, before switching to ice.|
|October 13, 2009||Don't know if it's the date (13th) or the difficult drive across the rockies two days ago, but we are experiencing severe clutch issues with the bus again. It refuses to disengage properly, and I can barely get out of gear anymore. Checks and adjustments don't help... we bite the bullet and start calling shops in Grand Junction. Three days and a thick stack of dollars later, we are back on the road with new discs (the dampening springs had been torn out due to a loose pilot bearing).|
|October 11, 2009||After a few days visiting with friends in Boulder, we make the difficult drive to Grand Junction. Winter had found us in Boulder as well, with several days of snow and cold. The drive was long and slow due to the long steep grades, with patches of fog, and frost covering everything, except - fortunately - the pavement.|
|October 4, 2009||
We've been at Devils Tower for about 10 days now. After a couple of warm days, the weather abruptly changed from summer to winter. Yesterday, we took advantage of a brief improvement to climb "El Matador" all the way to the summit. What an amazing route (despite the loose rock on the last pitch)! Today, we're recovering in the bus. Just the tought of stemming revulses me. We're aching all ove r. A snow storm is forecast for later tonight. We had a great summer in Wyoming but it's time to move South to the desert of Utah.
|September 19, 2009||
We're spending a couple of days at Ten Sleep. Sport climbing on limestone is not exactly our cup of tea, but we are pleasantly surprized by the surroundings and the climbing is pretty fun. Pumpy pocket pulling might also make for good training before The Tower.
|September 16, 2009||
Starting the drive to Devils Tower. On our way through Jackson, we take a couple days off from climbing and go mountain biking instead. The aspens are bright yellow and the Tetons have never looked better from the road up Shadow Moutain!
|September 15, 2009||
We've just come back from our last overnight trip of the season. We had planned to do several routes in the Deep Lake area, but the weather was pretty uncooperative: cold and snowy. We had food for 4 days but left after three and just managed to run up "Minor Dihedral" on Haystack, starting late in the day so we would not freeze to death (the route faces west). It definitely feels like the end of the alpine season. Time to go cragging!
|September 10, 2009||
We've done one three-day trip into the Winds so far. We had mixed success on that trip, as we bailed off one of the harder routes we had hoped to climb. Cannot always win! Lucie caught a mild flu a few days ago, so we are taking a break. We're camped in a gorgeous spot on public land not too far from town. We're taking advantage of the downtime to catch up on bus maintenance, taxes, and computer work. We're hoping to take one more (and perhaps the last this season?) overnight trip into the Winds in the coming days. A weak cold front is coming through tonight but the weather is expected to be clear and stable for a few days after that. Indian summer anyone?
|August 30, 2009||We had a great summer season in the Tetons. The weather wasn't as stable as usual this season (and quite a bit colder!), but we managed to pull off a good number of overnight trips, climbing several of the all-time classics of the range, and a good mix of pure rock and mixed alpine routes. The summer is drawing to an end in the mountains. It's time to move to the Wind Rivers if we want a chance to climb at least a couple of lines there. We're off to Pinedale!|
|July 28, 2009||Just back from a great mountain bike ride. We haven't been climbing that much lately. We wasted a great window of perfect weather last week when we went rock climbing on the Snaz and the Guide Wall... don't believe the hype, those routes are not all that great (they're OK, but not spectacular). We should have been on the high peaks. For the last few days, the weather has been quite unstable and unpredictable. It's been frustrating, to say the least. We're trying to make the best of it by going on fun mountain bike rides in the Gros Ventre area. Keeping our fingers crossed for better weather soon!|
|July 12, 2009||
After a quick stop in Lander, WY, which happened to coincide with the International Climbing Festival, we drive to Grand Teton National Park. We've climbed here many years ago but haven't been back since. We'd forgotten how stunning these mountains are!
|July 9-10, 2009||
We've been climbing at Lumpy Ridge for a month now. We (re)climbed most of the best, classic lines. Time to move on to Wyoming for the rest of the summer!
We had to make a few last minute repairs on the bus, so we only make it as far as Laramie, WY. As it happens, we have a whole double set of Aliens we'd like CCH to test for us (since they had these issues with bad brazed joints between the stems and the heads). We get there around 6PM. Weird vibes: the place is completely barricaded and defended by two ferocious looking, barking dogs. We hang around first near the front door, then in the back, before someone (the owner's wife) finally comes out to meet us. She convinces us to leave our full set of Aliens with her overnight, so they can proof test them… we're supposed to come back in the morning (10AM) to pick them up. She also promises we can meet the owner in the morning.
The next day, we're back at 10AM as promised. We ring the bell at the front door and the owner's wife shows up. She is acting furtive, and just goes back inside to grab our gear and hands it to us. She claims her husband is gone to the vet with one of their dogs… weird, weird, weird. Anyway, our Aliens are now stamped with the "Proof Tested" label, and they replaced the trigger wires on one of the green units (for free). I would really have liked a chance to see the test setup and chat about things with the owner. Cannot say that this visit made me feel any better about their cams... I still think they have the best design out there, but why in the world cannot they be more open and professional about things?
|June 14, 2009||
We're back! Just returned from our third day out at Lumpy. We'd climbed here numerous times while we were living in Los Alamos (it's "only" an 8 hour drive, one way!) but hadn't been back in almost three years. Lumpy is one of our all-time favorite crags in the US. It's a gorgeous place with world-class mountain views, the climbing is nothing short of phenomenal, and it is of the more technical and less "brute force" variety we like best. In short: paradise! We had almost forgotten how incredibly good the climbing is here! So many routes are 5-star classics! And after several months of getting sandbagged on the East coast, we are even finding the ratings to be quite reasonable (even though they are known as fairly stiff by western US standards)! On the other hand, after 9 months at sea level and too much casual single-pitch cragging lately, the arduous one-hour approach has been testing us... hopefully it will whip us back to mountain shape soon!
The only difficulty here is camping: Estes Park is the quintessential tourist trap so private camps are outrageously expensive and out of the question for road-trippers. It's also in the Colorado Front Range... so it is so heavily policed that "guerrilla-camping" is very nearly impossible, certainly with a vehicle as large as ours. Fortunately, after one day of searching, we were able to make a deal with a local property owner: we're renting a parking space on his land, right in town, and complete with a great view of Lumpy from our windows!
|June 4, 2009||Made an unplanned stop in Columbia, Missouri, along the way back West. We stopped here totally by chance and were pleasantly surprised to find a lively and pleasant college town. We also learned by accident of a 230 mile bike trail that passes within 8 miles of town and couldn't resist taking a day off the driving to bike a section. We hadn't used our bikes at all for the last several months... we can hardly sit now! We also ran into a friend from Los Alamos who was on a business trip in Columbia! What are the odds?|
|June 2, 2009||Time to leave the New. The last couple of attempts at going climbing turned into sweat-drenched hikes and no climbing... it's getting way too hot and humid here. We've even seen a day when all the cracks were wet from condensation (!) even though it hadn't rained for days! We got back to the bus after one last (failed) attempt at climbing today (feels like the tropics) and decided to head back West. Destination: Estes Park and the phenomenal granite climbing at Lumpy Ridge. This is designed as a training stop on the way to more alpine destinations for the summer, likely in Wyoming. We need to reacclimatize to the altitude, and Lumpy Ridge is the perfect place.|
|May 23, 2009||We're liking the New a lot. The climbing in incredibly diverse: cracks, corners, roofs, faces, slabs, you name it! Trad and sport cohabit harmoniously here. Access is very easy, and the deep gorge provides more exposure and reduces the humidity compared to the Red. We have found luxury accommodations (for us...) on the parking area of a local river running outfitter. They let us use their restrooms and showers, all for a very small fee. They also have a very good restaurant!|
|May 14, 2009||We are now at the New River Gorge. We've been here for a few days. We left the RRG on the 10th, after record-breaking rains and floods made it clear that the few trad lines of interest to us would not be dry for several days. We're liking the "New" much better anyway. It is much more of a trad area (whereas the "Red" is a quintessential sport-climbing area with some dispersed trad), the rock is great, and the routes appear to dry faster than at the Red. The various walls are also closer to one-another, easier to access, and have higher concentrations of great trad routes.|
|May 3-10, 2009||We've been at the Red for almost a week now. It's been raining constantly. We have climbed the few trad lines that remain dry in a downpour (because they are below gigantic roofs) and are running out of options. We're getting tired of driving far to yet another wall (the Red is very spread out), making the approach in the mud, and finding everything dripping wet, except for more clip-ups of the overhanging jug pull variety.|
|May 1-2, 2009||We leave Chattanooga and drive north to eastern Kentucky. After an overnight stop in Richmond near Lexington, we settle in Slade, the little town central to most crags at the Red River Gorge.|
|April 11-30, 2009||Climbing at T-Wall and other crags near Chattanooga, TN. Unfortunately, T-Wall is closed a lot in April for managed turkey hunts and it seems that the weather is favoring the hunters... Still manage to climb 5 days at T-Wall. Amazing climbing here! We also check out other crags in the area, but find nothing comparable to T-Wall.|
|April 6-10, 2009||We're headed south to Chattanooga, TN. Along the way, we stop for a couple days in Blacksburg, VA, the small college town where we met and attended grad school.. Fun trip down memory lane for us... We also go to Grayson Highland State Park, a place we used to visit often as students, and hike to the top of Mt Rogers, the highest summit in Virginia, and one of a very few places on the east coast to experience alpine vegetation and open views.|
|March 31st-April 5, 2009||We're climbing at Seneca Rocks. We're staying at the Princess Snowbird/Indian Village campground and have a great view of the cliff. It's raining a lot, but we manage a few climbing days anyway. Nice pointy summit and excellent climbing. The grades seem really sandbagged though, but we're also way out of shape, not having touched rock in 4 and 1/2 months... not to mention eating way too much baguette, cheese, and pâté while in Québec!|
|March 27-30, 2009||We travel from Québec city to Seneca Rocks. We leave Québec late after trying to reorganize our gear at least in part, and refilling on water in the morning. A snow storm arrived overnight… just our luck! There is 4cm of new snow on the ground, and more still coming down. Fortunately, it's not that cold, so it's melting on the roads. We follow the south bank past Montreal and into the US. No problem at the border. We take care of a few chores along the way: restocking on groceries, doing a little maintenance on the bus, getting new tires for the jeep, buying a digital converter box for the TV, and reorganizing our rock climbing gear. It's amazing how quickly temperatures start rising as we get into the Dacks! Sunny and almost warm in places! Feels good after such a long winter!|
|March 26, 2009||We're back in Québec city after our short trip to Gaspésie. We go straight to the storage lot to get the bus out. It is sitting in about 4 inches of solid ice... The owner of the lot kindly put some salt around the wheels this morning at my request, but it hardly made a dent in the ice… I doubt very much that I can get out of this on my own. Fortunately, the owner has a huge front loader and he said he would pull us out if necessary. I get the generator and block heater going, we get things ready, and a half hour later, I start the engine without any difficulty. I let it warm up, then give it a try: completely hopeless; the wheels spin in place whatever I do. Next try 15 minutes later with the front loader pulling us with a chain. No go! The gigantic wheels of the front loader are spinning on the ice too! He tries everything, including pulling the front of the bus up with the chain (scary!), but we're not moving an inch! He almost gives up, then gives it one more try from a different angle, hoping to get better traction. And it works! Pheww!|
|March 24-25, 2009||We're climbing the last ice of the season in Haute Gaspésie, our last stop in Québec. To finish off the ice season, we climb the classic Corneille and Les Montagnes Russes. Both have a short approach and unbeatable views of the sea. It's clearly the end of the season. If north-facing climbs are still in OK shape, anything that gets a bit of sun is on its way out, if not gone already.|
|March 23rd, 2009||We're leaving our cozy apartment in Québec city today. It was a hectic morning: finishing the cleanup, and driving another load to the bus. Eventually, at about 12:30, we are done and drive from Québec to Haute Gaspésie. Longer drive than expected: about 7 hours, plus stops. A bit boring of a drive, too, at least up to Sainte-Anne-des-Monts. Beyond Sainte-Anne, the coast becomes much prettier, with the road squeezed between cliffs and the sea. Every few kilometers, a small village is nestled in a small bay. It is getting dark, but we mange to get a glimpse of several ice flows along the way, including the imposing Corneille. We make it to the Gîte de l'Anse Pleureuse at about 8PM.|
|March 18-22nd, 2009||Stayed in the city. Feeling a down after The Pomme d'Or ordeal. Spring is clearly coming. The streets are clearing of snow, and the ice skating rink just closed for the season.|
|March 14-17, 2009||Pomme d'Or fiasco. Days of preparation, hundreds of dollars for snowmobile drop-offs, three nights of frigid camping... all gone to waste after one of Eric's picks (BD Lasers) broke 1 1/2" from the tip on p2! Borrowed Lucie's right tool hoping she would be able to follow with the broken pick but it was simply too steep for that. Forced to retreat... feeling miserable for several days after that. F$%#@&g BD picks! It's the usual fatigue failure BD picks are now famous for...|
|March 7-12, 2009||Finally recovered from the flu. Took a trip to the Côte-Nord and are in Sept-Iles for a few days. Climbed the classic Pilier Simon-Proulx. One of the high points of the season for sure. Beautiful line tucked away in a steep cliff band overlooking the Sainte-Marguerite river. Had planned to spend a couple of days climbing at the "Mur du 51" along the Nipissis River, but had to cancel the trip due to "inclement" weather (-23C with a wind-chill factor of -32C).|
|March 1st, 2009||We just came back from a 3-day trip to the Saguenay area. Beautiful scenery but not-so-classic ice climbing unfortunately. Most of the routes are short or not consistent at the grade. Back in Québec, we were getting ready to leave for the Côte-Nord for a few days (it's a 9-hour drive) when we were both struck with the flu... so we had some time to work on the site!|
|February 23, 2009||Since our first day back on the ice on the 9th, we've been working hard to get back in good climbing shape. We've been to Momo three times (so conveniently located only 6 miles from our apartment in Québec city), spent one day training on the steep columns at Pont-Rouge, and climbed two all-time classics of the area: Topaze, a 600ft flow of golden ice in Mauricie, and Maineline, a feathery steep (WI5+, we're getting there!) route across the border in Maine.|
|February 9, 2009||At last! Eric's hand is healed enough that we can try climbing again! Went to the Chutes Momo, only 15 minutes from our apartment in Québec City. It's a great place, really: access is trivial (5 minute walk), the roar of the awesome falls is ever-present, and there is a selection of about 9 routes from WI2 to 4+, about 80m (260ft) tall. Eric's hand performed flawlessly, and we got 4 pitches in, up to WI4+! What a blast!!|
|January 25, 2009||We're turning into city slickers! Lucie goes to yoga constantly (good for her!), while I walk around and waste time on the web... and try to work on the site too. It's been very cold (down to -32C one night). My hand has improved, but climbing in clearly not an option yet. We're trying to finish another update for the site. Perhaps in the next day or two?|
|January 11, 2009||We went out today, hoping to climb Small is Beautiful, a smaller classic in the "Vallée du Bras du Nord". Not exactly a lucky day... First, we got lost on the approach, while following snowshoe tracks to nowhere. Ended up on 30° slopes in the woods, in snowshoes, with big boulders and bulges everywhere. Extreme snowshoeing! When it became obvious we weren't in the right place, we turned around, took the snowshoes off for the steepest section (going down steep stuff in snowshoes is very nearly impossible), and slid, punched, and grabbed our way down... then it happened: my right leg punched into a deep hole (waist deep). My right hand landed on a branch; four fingers went on one side of the branch, but my pinky went to the other side... and got pulled sideways out of its joint... it was clear immediately that it was badly hurt. Shit! We didn't even touch the ice in Québec and now I'm out for what's likely to be a few weeks of recovery! At least we're in a lively city, so there should be plenty to keep entertained...|
|January 9, 2009||We made it. The drive wasn't fun (very snowy roads), but we are now in Québec City. We are staying in a lovely small appartment we are subleasing in the old town, inside the fortifications. The bus is in storage in the outskirts, 15 minutes away. The city looks pretty fun, and the people seem incredibly friendly. All the necessities of life (great bread, good cheese, and a supermarket) are within easy walking distance of our place.|
|Januray 7, 2009||
Lake Willoughby has the best ice climbing on the US east coast, period (perhaps even in the entire US). The more we go there, the more we are convinced of this. We finished our stay in NH with three consecutive trips there (it's in VT, but only an hour from Franconia). The ice has not suffered too badly from the warm weather, and it has been cold again for a few days. These abrupt changes in temperature have made the ice particularly funky (hard and brittle), but we had good fun anyway.
Today, we are packing to leave with the bus for Québec, where we will spend the remaining of the ice season. We are in the middle of a massive snow storm, which doesn't make us feel too confident about the drive there tomorrow... we'll see. If necessary, we'll leave the bus behind and come back for it in a few days.
|January 1st, 2009||Happy new year! No climbing at all since the Black Dike. A huge warm front came in on the 27th. Most of the ice in the NE has melted away...|
|December 26, 2008||We finally climbed something worthwhile, which made us feel much better: The Black Dike, on Cannon mountain. Really fun day! The ice was also in much better shape than anywhere else so far, probably because this climb gets a lot of traffic.|
|December 15, 2008||The weather is driving us nuts. One day it's below zero (Fahrenheit), windy, and too cold to climb, the next it is 55F and raining cats and dogs. We haven't had enough steady cold weather for decent ice to form. In the three weeks we've spent here so far, we have climbed a total of 7 pitches... we climb more than that is a single weekend in South-Western Colorado! Not sure if it's climate change or what, but you need to be more patient than a buddhist monk to climb ice around here. We've stopped counting how many times we've packed our gear, driven to one ice area or another, found unclimbable conditions, drove back, and unpacked again. Fortunately, we found a nice indoor gym not too far from here (20 miles), where we spend much time cranking stationary bikes and lifting weights in an attempt to stay in some kind of shape. It doesn't help that we skipped the entire winter season last year (NZ and Australia), so we haven't climbed ice in two years. Hope things get better soon. At least, we have a comfortable place to stay, and a fireplace!|
|November 20, 2008||We're camped at a barely open campground in Twin Mountain, NH. Last night was so cold that even with the heat on in the bus, we managed to get one of our water pipes frozen. We have to find a place to live and winterize the bus for the season. We spend all day asking around, and luckily find a room for rent in a beautiful, large house in Franconia, NH. We'll share the place with three roommates (non-climbers). We're moving in tomorrow. The house is on 88 (!) acres of land, so we'll park the bus right there as well! Most convenient. The location is good too: 20 miles from Frankenstein cliffs and a bit less than an hour's drive to Lake Willoughby.|
|November 18, 2008||
That's it, we're leaving. After much rain, it is now really getting too cold to climb. Time to move on. We're heading back to NH. Let's hope for an early ice season!
Lucie goes to town for one last yoga class, while Eric gets the bus ready to go. When she returns, we get going... for about 10 feet, before the wheels start spinning hopelessly in the mud! S$%#! We spend a couple hours trying everything in the book but the bus is just too heavy and the rain-saturated meadow too soft... we're only getting deeper and deeper into the mud. Eventually, we see no choice but to get towed out. Works like a charm, of course, but you don't want to know how much it cost!!
Anyway, we're on the road. With our late start, we only make it to Northhampton, MA. Another cold front moves in that night. Temperatures drop to well below freezing.
|November 15, 2008||Had a few more decent days of climbing but the weather is starting to look pretty bad. It's been raining almost continuously for three days now. The meadow we are parked in with the bus is starting to get very soft and muddy...|
|November 7, 2008||We've had several good days of climbing at the Gunks, and are hoping to stay for a while. The weather is a weird succession of chilly cold fronts with clear skies, and strangely warm cloudy or rainy days. It doesn't look like there will be any ice to climb in NH for another month or so, so we hope we can continue rock climbing here on better days. We're in the middle of a wet spell right now, so we're taking the time to finally finish our next website update.|
|November 4, 2008||
We were stressed all day about the elections... but wow, this country is finally out of the hands of warmongering religious extremists! We drank to that!
The other good news is that we finally found a place for the bus on a private lot near the cliffs, at least for the next several days. You know who you are: thank you so very much!! There are some friendly people in the Northeast after all...
|October 31, 2008||We spent the largest part of the last few days looking for a place to park the bus. We asked land managers, many of the locals, and some landowners in the area... no luck. All private campgrounds in the area are closing at the end of the month, and charge an arm and a leg in any case. We're getting tired of being kicked out by the cops everywhere we go. Welcome to the East coast!|
|October 27, 2008||
Did our first day of climbing at the Gunks. We had our doubts about the place based on the descriptions we had read, but I must say that we really enjoyed it! The rock on the better routes is very clean due to the intense traffic, unfortunately even highly polished on some. Access is extremely convenient, from a level carriage road along the base of the entire area. 99% of the climbing is trad, which is probably why we like it. There's a mix of pure face climbs on horizontal features, and some cracks and dihedrals as well. Most of the routes are quite steep, and many go through wild ceilings, for which the area is reknown. Most of the ratings are extreme sandbags when compared to most other areas in the country. Another unusual feature is the large number of older climbers here. In most other areas, we feel like we are almost always the oldest... not so here! I wonder why that is?
Two issues though: the Mohonk Preserve, the private owner of the cliffs, charges an exhorbitant amount of money to access the climbs. As of 2008, count on paying $15/person/day (!!), or $135 for an annual pass for a team of two! They don't offer passes for less than a year... a real bummer for visiting road-trippers. And don't count on using your bike on rest days... that's an additional $30 for two people! The other issue is camping. Even after paying these high fees and talking to several of their employees, the preserve categorically refused to let us park overnight on any of their parking areas, even though the season is essentially over, and none of the lots fill up anymore, even on weekends.
|October 24, 2008||We stopped for a couple of days at Rumney, the East coast's most popular sport area. I must say we didn't like it at all. It's quintessential sport climbing and very crowded. The climbing style is really not our cup of tea: overhanging jugs for the most part.|
|October 21, 2008||It's getting too cold in the Whites to climb. After two last days of climbing at Whitehorse and Cannon, and an exploration hike on Mt Washington, we leave the area, heading South toward the Gunks, where it is usually a few degrees warmer.|
|October 15, 2008||We're still in North Conway. Enjoyed good weather the last few days, and climbed 7 of the last 10 days! We even managed one day at Cannon. Much colder weather and some rain are coming tomorrow. We need a rest anyway, and some time to finish this update.|
|October 9, 2008||For the first time in a long while, we climbed three days in a row on Cathedral Ledge. Good rock! We need a day or two to recuperate and are trying to put them to good use by preparing another update.|
|September 30, 2008||We stayed a few more days at Acadia Nat'l Park. Did a long bike ride, and went climbing at the Precipice (limited, but quite good!). Time now to move to the White Mountains of NH to sample the climbing at Cathedral, Whitehorse, and Cannon.|
|September 28, 2008||Lucie's Mom must have packed the good weather with her! We just endured the remains of hurricane Kyle, which made landfall right over us... rain, rain, rain!|
|September 26, 2008||Lucie's Mom is flying out today. We've had a great time together. We spent the last several days in Acadia National Park. Unusual scenery. We did some hiking, some biking, saw 7 whales, and - of course - had lobster for Eric's BD!|
|September 14, 2008||We're leaving the Dacks. We got to do some more routes in the last few days, but also lost some time to bad weather and a cold. Tonight, we're going to pick up Lucie's Mom at the airport in Burlington, VT. She's visiting us for a couple of weeks. We won't be doing much - if any - climbing for a while, but it will be nice to have company!|
|September 7, 2008||A couple days of rain gave us a chance to finish some new pages (mostly about Tahquitz and Suicide Rocks, in California) and post an update. We also took the time to give the bus a thorough, long overdue clean-up!|
September 5, 2008
We've been cragging in the Adirondacks the last few days. We're happy to be back on the rocks after all that driving! The rock can be vegetated once you stray away from the most popular lines, but there are some good routes.
August 20-29, 2008
Drive, drive and drive. The crossing is - predictably - very very flat, and very boring. More surprizing: the road (a two-lane road most of the way) is in pretty bad shape. The speed limit is also 90km/hr (55mph)... it's gonna take a while! To make things worse, we have terrible weather the first three days. It's rainining cats and dogs! We were hoping to climb a bit near Thunder Bay but we could not find any guidebooks of the area (we found one later in Ottawa, but it was too late by then). Highlights of the crossings include an overnight stop by Lake Superior (and a coOold swim) and a short stay in Ottawa. The town is kind of fun but we have the worst mussels ever at Coasters near the market. Don't go there - tourist trap! After an uneventful border crossing, we pull into Lake Placid on August 29 (it took us 9 days, including the stops).
August 20, 2008
Starting the long West-East crossing of Southern Canada. After two rest days in Canmore, mostly spent doing chores and yoga, we drive to Banff in the morning. This town really sucks! Really not sure why we came? We're considering climbing the Grassi Ridge on Wiwaxi and ask about lake O'Hara access: no first-come first-served seats on the bus anymore... Our only real option is to walk in. We'd consider this (about a 2hr walk) but are wondering about the weather. With the minimum temps forecast in the valleys, we should expect somewhere around -7°C at the base of Wiwaxy on Friday and Saturday mornings. Too cold to rock climb, at least if you want to have any fun. A late start on Saturday could be doable, but that's a weekend… we don't want to get stuck behind a slow party… Eventually, we just decide to let this one go. The great crossing of Canada is likely to take several days anyway, and Lucie has a list of climbs to do in the Daks before her Mom comes to visit us mid-September. Decision made. We're leaving. We get the bus ready, dump and refill, get some last minute groceries, fill up on Diesel, and off we go.
August 15-17, 2008
|Just arrived in Canmore in a rush, to take advantage of a three-day weather window to climb the North Ridge of Mt Assiniboine. Great weather, gorgeous mountain, beautiful scenery, and horrendous loose scrambling!|
August 13, 2008
|We're driving to Revelstoke. We got to put the bus on a ferry... for free. The ride takes around 20 minutes. Beautiful weather; we take a million pics.|
August 12, 2008
|After waiting for a couple of days for the rain to stop, we climb the South Ridge of Gimli. A striking line! Good climbing on very good granite. Probably the best alpine rock route we've done in Canada, except for the Bugaboos.|
August 8, 2008
|We spent a few days in Leavenworth. Our primary objective was the West Face of Colchuck Balanced Rock, which we climbed (all free!) on Monday, August 4. We had several chores to take care of (including filing our tax returns... fun!) before leaving town. We're hoping to hit the road today, destination: British Columbia.|
|July 29, 2008||We just spent a week at Index. For once, the weather was quite good (on previous visits, we never stayed more than a few hours, before hopeless rain started pouring). The rock quality here continues to amaze us, but it's too bad that you cannot really see most of the lines (hidden behind trees). The camping is also quite an experience...|
|July 18, 2008||Just posted another update. We are spending a few days in Portland, visiting with friends. It's a fun diversion from climbing.|
|July 7-12, 2008||Spent 5 days at Tuolumne Meadows. Time to move on now. We're leaving for Portland today.|
|June 27-July 4, 2008||We've been having a ton of fun cragging along the eastern Sierras. We climbed at Pratt's Crack Buttress, Cardinal Pinnacle, the Gong Show, and Patricia Bowl. Fourth of July week-end is over and we can now move to Tuolumne Meadows, for a quick stop before heading North again.|
|June 26, 2008||Just arrived in Bishop; took advantage of our first opportunity in many days to update the site again.|
|June 25, 2008||
Reluctantly left the Needles after finally climbing White Punks on Dope, on Voodoo Dome (quite good). We're making our way North (slowly... we kind of like CA granite!) along the Eastern Sierras. We've decided to focus on the multipitch cragging this time (we did several of the classic alpine routes on previous trips many years ago). First stop: Whitney Portal.
|June 14, 2008||Just arrived at the Needles. We were here 6 years ago on the inaugural trip with our bus. Magical place!|
|June 9, 2008||Perfect weather, white granite, what's not to like? Maybe we're liking this place too much... We'll probably be here (Tahquitz and Suicide Rocks) until the end of the week before we move on to the Needles. Just posted another update.|
|June 2, 2008||Still at Tahquitz. We found a great place to camp nearby (for free of course). After a couple of days in the 80's, temperatures dropped to the 40's, and it snowed! This kept us from climbing for a few days (but gave us time to finally work on this website). We're climbing again now, in gorgeous sunny and cool weather.|
|Since May 17, 2008||The last few days at RR were really hot. Summer is coming already. We decided to move on. The plan is to visit several areas in California (Tahquitz, Needles, various crags in the Eastern Sierras, Tuolumne Meadows), before heading North for the summer. We arrived at Tahquitz today. Might stay a week or two, depending on weather.|
|April 19 - May 15, 2008||We're living in the bus again and are climbing at Red Rocks. Doing more obscure routes, some recently published ones, and repeating some old classics. The desert is so beautiful this time of the year. All the cacti and flowers are in bloom. We had amazing weather for a full month, with only a few days with strong winds.|
|April 16, 2008||Flying back to the US from Melbourne, Australia. Anxious to get back to our bus...|
|February 13 - April 16, 2008||We spend 2 months in South-Eastern Australia, starting in Sydney and ending in Melbourne. This time we rent a van (buying is more difficult for visitors in Australia, particularly if you have to sell in a different province on your way out). We climb in the Blue Mountains, Mt Buffalo, the Grampians and Arapiles. We also visit Sydney and Melbourne for a couple of days each. The weather is rainy in the Blueys, then really hot in the Grampians when we first arrive. We take a break from climbing (and the hot weather) by driving the Great Ocean Road and visiting Mt Eccles National Park to see koalas.|
|February 13, 2008||Flying to Sydney, Australia.|
|September 20, 2007- February 12, 2008||
We spend 5 months in New Zealand, climbing but also touring the North and South islands. We start with the North Island. After a couple of days in Auckland buying a suitable campervan, we head North at the end of September, visiting Northland, the Coromandel, and the Bay of Islands. We also hit two cragging spots near Wharepapa South (Froggatt Edge and Waipapa), before driving to Lake Taupo for more cragging at Kinloch, Kawakawa Bay and Whanganui Bay. By then, it's the beginning of Spring, time to hit the mountains! We start with the volcanoes in the North Island: climb the North island highest point, Mt Ruapehu, and minor volcanoes (Ngauruhoe and Tongariro) in Tongariro National Park, and Taranaki, another volcano near New Plymouth. We then take the ferry to the South island and make our way to the Southern Alps, hitting a few other crags along the way (Paynes Ford, Poahara and Charleston). We also sea kayak for the first time near Abel Tasman National Park. Arthur's Pass is our next stop. Mt Rolleston provides a good conditioning climb and we see our first keas (wild alpine parrots) while hiking up the steep slopes of Avalanche Peak. We keep going south to Wanaka. After a failed attempt on Mt Barff, we climb the Southwest ridge of Mt Aspiring, a striking line up the most beautiful mountains in the Southern Alps. Waiting out some bad weather, we go cragging at Mt Somers over New Year. Later, we climb the classic ice arete of Mt Tasman (North Shoulder) from Pioneer Hut, and Moonshine Buttress, a classic NZ alpine rock route. We also climb in the Darrans (Moir's Mate and the North Face of Saber) before heading back to Christchurch for more cragging.
|September 19, 2007||
Crossed the international date line… so this day never happened!
|September 18, 2007||
Flying to Auckland, NZ. We drive the bus and the jeep to the storage where they will stay for the next seven months. We then drive to the airport and fortunately get there very early. Somehow, a glitch between Air NZ and United had prevented our tickets from being confirmed on United's computer system. Don't ask. It takes 3 hours to get us checked in! It gets done at the last minute, we almost miss our flight to LA. Ah the joy of air travel! Quick one to Los Angeles, then a 12 hour "hop" to NZ. Very good seats fortunately, and good on-demand, in-flight entertainment made things go quickly.
|September 15-17, 2007||
We move to a small, pleasant RV park to ease the preparations for NZ. Spend a full day pulling all the gear out, selecting, spreading and checking, then weighing the end result. Looks like we're within 5lb of our airline allocation. A bit of elimination should get us there...
|September 10, 2007||
Starting the long drive to Las Vegas. We arrive in Parhump three days later after making a few stops at climbing shops along the way. We just realized we need to buy new crampons...
|September 7-9, 2007||
Continuing our journey South, we stop for a couple of days at Tieton River for some cragging. We climb Ride the Lightning, a multipitch 5.9 on Goose Egg Mountain. The upper pitches are really loose and of dubious quality... not recommended. Just do the first two pitches if you must! We also start packing for our upcoming trip to New Zeland and Australia.
|September 1-5, 2007||
Heading South. We are scheduled to fly to New Zealand from Las Vegas on September 21 and we have a zillion things to do, including finding a place to store the bus and the jeep while we are gone. Anyway, after our last alpine trip, we just about had it with alpine climbing! At least for a while. We spend a couple of days in Winthrop mountain biking. We also climb Restless Native (5.11c, 10 pitches), another good one of Burdo's route on the Goat Wall.
|August 26-28, 2007||Good stable weather has finally arrived...We'd like to get one more long climb in before heading south to fly to New Zealand. We decide to give Early Morning Spire a try. Unfortunately, we opt for the Eldorado Creek to Triad col approach... big mistake. We don't make it to the base of the spire on the first day and decide to give up on the climb. Instead, we climb the East Ridge of Eldorado as a consolation prize.|
|August 22-24, 2007||With only a two day weather window, we decide to go check out a relatively new route near Darrington. Mostly a slab, Center Stage ascends a line on the Roan Wall and is tucked away in a beautiful alpine cirque. We wanted to do the linkup on the Salish Wall above, end up rapping after the 9th pitch of Center Stage, as the route is south facing and it is brutally hot. Late spring might work best if you want to do the link-up...|
|August 16-18, 2007||
The weather is still unsettled. We are spending a couple of days cragging at Index while waiting for the next weather window.
|August 7-13, 2007||We're back at Washington Pass for some mellower (we hope) alpine climbing. It's reaaally cold. Feels like fall already; some of the nights have been frigid. We climb the Southwest Rib of SEWS on August 9. Two days later, we make a failed attempt at the NW Face of SEWS. We bail after a pitch and a half with frozen fingers and bruised egos. Tough route... Milder temperatures return a couple of days later and we climb Burgundy Spire using the Paisano Pinnacle/North Face link-up.|
|August 3-6, 2007||After a full-on alpine adventure in the Pickets, we spend a couple days recovering in Seattle with our friends Clay and Donna. Airshow, Sea-fair, and lots of good food (and coffee). Our knees are aching. We don't even feel like doing much walking in the city's steep streets.|
|July 30-August 2nd, 2007||The high pressure system is here to stay, so we head to the Southern Pickets, one of the most remote ranges in the Cascades, to climb the East Ridge of Inspiration Peak.|
|July 24-27, 2007||The forecast is finally showing a couple of days of stable weather. We leave the bus at the Cutthroat Trailhead and head to the backountry to climb two WA Pass area classics: Clean Break and Rebel Yell. From a camp in Silver Star basin, below the east side of the Wine Spires, we climb Clean Break, a good ~18-pitch climb on Juno Tower and Rebel Yell, a great 6-pitch climb on Chianti Spire. Great fun, despite the horrendous mosquitoes!|
|July 19-21, 2007||The weather is not improving, so we drive down to Mazama in search of better weather. We climb two good clip-ups on Goat Wall: Prime Rib and Sisyphus.|
|July 18, 2007||
We've been at Washinton Pass for about a week now. The weather has been pretty good, although today it is raining hard and it doesn't look like it's gonna get good again for a few days. So far we've done the Northwest Corner of NEWS (again), the East Face of Lexington Tower, and the East Face of Minuteman Tower.
|July 9, 2007||I think we've given up on snow and ice for now. It's just too warm. We're headed for WA Pass for some rock!|
|June 24, 2007||Moving North to the vicinity of Shuksan, which we haven't climbed yet. We were initially hoping to do the NF, but the approach issues (bushwhacking...) and the very warm weather cooled our enthusiasm a bit. After another easy conditioning climb on Ruth Mountain (amazing views of Shuksan!), we figured we would ski the Sulphide Glacier instead. This was terrific fun, including good skiing! After that we climbed the West Ridge of North Twin Sister, a minor route in the same area. The fun part of that climb is the mountain bike approach (or, actually, going back down!).|
|June 21, 2007||Questionable weather... we just moved to WA Pass to go find another conditioning climb on snow with a good chance of decent weather. Picked the Silverstar Glacier. Phew! That trail to Burgundy col is steeeep!|
|June 19, 2007||We finally had a day of great weather. Climbed the East Wilmans Spire, near the ghost town of Monte Cristo, on the Mountain loop road. Long day! Damage to the road to Monte Cristo forced us to carry our bikes in sections. Lots of snow, starting just below Glacier Basin. Good step-kicking conditions.|
|June 15-17, 2007||With weather too ugly to climb and a forecast that does not give us much hope either, we spent the weekend in Seattle, visiting with friends. It was the Solstice Parade in Fremont; lots of fun.|
|Since June 11, 2007||We've been stationed in Darrington for several days now. The weather has been really awful, with the exception of one day, when the sun pierced through the thick clouds long enough to allow us to climb at 3 O' Clock Rock. We're really here to try and get on some mountains, but the weather is simply not cooperating so far.|
|June 3-10, 2007||Cragging at Tieton River. Excellent 1 to 2 pitch climbs on basalt columns. All grades (5.3 to 5.11), with lots of climbs in the 5.10 range. Best cragging in Washington in our opinion.|
|June 2nd, 2007||Arrived at Tieton River after a stop in Yakima for groceries. Parked the bus on a pull-out just below the Royal Columns. The weather is really, really hot! Hope we'll be able to climb!|
|June 1st , 2007||After stopping at Western Truck Equipment for an oil change (for the bus), we drive to Baker City, OR to spend the night. Baker City is an old mining town with a couple of buildings worth seeing if you are in the area.|
|May 31, 2007||Heading to the Cascades for the summer - the cragging area near the Tieton River will be our first stop. We make it to Twin Falls that evening, just in time for a movie at the Orpheum Theatre, one of our favorite old movie theatres!|
|May 23-30, 2007||We're kicking off the trip with a week of cragging at Little Cottonwood Canyon. We're just trying to get back to some sort of climbing shape. Lucie is still recovering from carpal-tunnel-related problems and has not been climbing since last summer. Deprived of my climbing parter, I have not been doing much either... We spend a week enjoying easy and moderate climbs on the superb LC granite. We also bike the Union Pacific Trail from Echo Lake to Park City and hike around Big Cottonwood Canyon.|
|May 22, 2007||
Finally made it to Big Cottonwood Canyon near Salt Lake City, UT, late afternoon. We took our time driving and didn't do much along the way, except for checking out a couple of gear shops in Durango and Moab and sleeping like marmots - still recovering from last week's craziness (it took a lot of effort to move out of our appartment and into the bus and put all the stuff we left behind into storage).
|May 20, 2007||The 2007-2009 bus trip has begun! Left Los Alamos at 1:30 PM. Made it to our habitual spot in Durango (the Wal-Mart parking lot...) around 6 PM.|