Monday, July 19, 2010

There's no place like home...

We said our farewells to Yosemite, California, and headed north with a relaxed agenda of climbing.

On our way to Squamish we stopped in Leavenworth, WA for some bouldering. The drive through the Cascades was impressive and the view of the roadside rock created some anticipation, once again. Once in Leavenworth, we tried out a classic trad line, enjoyed the forested camping and the interesting boulder problems in two of the concentrated boulder fields.

Our hearts were longing for Squamish and to be back in Canada. We stayed in Squamish for only a few days. We played around in the boulders, enjoyed the pool and hot tub at the rec centre, and battled at the tennis courts.

We continued with our bug of travelling and checking out new rock and took the BC ferry to Horne Lake on Vancouver Island.

The camping and scenery at Horne Lake was beautiful, and the climbing was worth the visit. Due to the old and recent shoulder injuries we took in some hiking on the Pacific Rim and views of the beach before cutting our trip on the island and out west short.

Our drive to Ontario was a mission...we drove for 48 hours straight with only a few stops for swims and sights.

Recently, we have been enjoying time with our parents in Ontario and Montreal. We are resting our climbing injuries for the last two weeks and have taken up other activities we enjoy (golf, tennis, swimming).

As our world trip has completed its cycle this will probably be our last post. Thank you for joining us and reading our blog. We will let you know about our next adventure...and hopefully we have inspired you to travel the world and discover new things, even if its in your own backyard.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Going back to Cali

We survived Yosemite Valley once again...and let me tell you, it's no vacation! The traditional lines are stout and most of them involve more than a few pitches of climbing with an aerobic hike on either end of the adventure.
Chris and Mike from Toronto joined Callum, Dave and I for some Yosemite of them was finding a campsite, which was almost impossible, but we did get lucky.

The Valley in Spring is absolutely beautiful with its many raging waterfalls. When the Sierra Nevada Mountain range begins to lose its snow it rages into the valley down the Merced river.
I was looking forward to a few easy classics that we didn't climb last fall, like Snake Dike (Half Dome), Nutcracker, and Free Blast. Dave and Chris were on a mission to climb the Regular Route on Half Dome in a day.

Half Dome's Regular Route climbs the vertical face you can see from the valley floor. The route consists of 23 pitches, over 2000ft of climbing and aid climbing up to 12b. The top of Half Dome sits just over 8000ft in elevation...very impressive! But wait, to get to the base takes over 5 hours of hiking, or 13km with strenuous elevation gain.

During Chris' original 10 day stay, Dave and Chris made two attempts to climb Half Dome. They left our campsite with 50lbs bags to bivy near the route and climb the next day. Both attempts were unsuccessful as a dangerous snow col and cold weather got in their way.

The boys were definitely disappointed getting shot down without even touching the rock on Half Dome. Chris extended his trip and the plan was made for one more attempt with hopes of melted snow and warmer temps. I got to tag along and enjoyed the overnight camping under the stars, and taking photos of their journey and finally their summit.

Dave is still recovering from the battle...cold winds, 14 hours of climbing, and some cuts that tell the tale of their hard work.

We are back in Portland to collect our things we stashed at Callum's and we are on the road again to Washington and Squamish.

We are coming home soon and look forward to seeing family, friends, and home sweet home.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Spain to Smith

We made it back to America! After some long flights we made it to Portland three hours later than scheduled. Our second flight from Brussels was delayed and the plane had to fly in different directions to avoid the ash from the volcano in Iceland. We ended up seeing the volcano out of our plane's windows and captured some photos.
Iceland is not just a clever name for that country!

Once in Portland, back with our buddy Callum, we were anxious to see how our road machine, Sylvia, would handle after being under Callum's care. Well, to our surprise the van is still in great condition...minor repairs got her on the road again to Smith Rocks (where sport climbing all began) and Trout Creek (the west's answer to Indian Creek).

Despite our cold and rainy weather at times we were still as psyched as ever to explore new crags, rock climb new routes, and to enjoy more of the world's best scenery. I surprisingly enjoyed Smith's off vertical, technical, run out pitches on volcanic rock, and Dave flowed up Trout's burly, sustained, hand/foot torqing trad climbing lines.

After two weeks at Smith and surrounding area we are now earning our keep back in Portland with Callum.
In a few days we are off to Yosemite Valley for a couple of weeks and meeting friends Chris and Mike for some Valley climbs. Dave and Chris are planning Half Dome in a day and Callum and Mike are pushing for El Cap. I think I might enjoy resting and hiking this time.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Rockin' Rodellar

Before our trip back home we drove from Siruana to Rodellar, Spain, another world renown climbing destination in our crazy Space Invaders van. The trip was a twisty three hour drive to the Sierra de Guara National Park and climbing area. Rodellar's climbing sits inside a long gorge on both sides and crossing the cool river was sometimes tricky...thankfully I only got one soaker.
The climbing is much steeper than Siruana and there are many crags to choose from. Each sector has its unique character and climbing style and we sampled routes from most areas. The weather was still unusually cool and although we had some rain it never really stopped us from climbing.

On one of our climbing days we spontaneously took a trip to Riglos, a small town and climbing area most people told us to go to on our trip in Spain. We were told the climb was like "climbing on potatoes", very steep, 250 meters tall, and very pumpy...all of which were true.
From a distance you could see the clean line meander all the way to the top so our approach to the cliff was easy and we ended up climbing it in 5 hours from car to car. I don't think either of us has experienced such forearm pump before...we we're almost "coming off" and almost took some big whippers.

Back in Rodellar we reconnected with some of our friends we met during our travels. We met Miguel, a climber we met in Ceuse, France six years ago; Masha, a girl we met in Kalymnos; Kent, an Aussie bloke we met in Thailand; Jess, an old friend from Toronto who was on her honeymoon with her new hubby John; and we were still climbing and hanging out with the South Affi's whom we met in Siruana.

Our last two weeks in Spain were spent with our Space Invaders van camping in the town parking lot. Life couldn't be much better. "Don't worry about the bylaw signs, the area is there for people to camp in." Rainy evenings were spent with the eclectic mix of world climbers at the Kalendraka Refugee, or in the van playing Cribbage. Erin and I were a bit sad to give back the van but are well over it now that we have Sylvia (our Dodge) back.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Siurana Sunshine

We have been in Siruana, Spain for about two weeks now. Our arrival in Spain sent us a little curve ball with a missing bag...but it arrived late the next afternoon. We picked up our wicked campervan...fully painted and reads "Space Invaders"! The van sticks out like a sore thumb but everyone seems to know who we are...Canada invades again! One afternoon, we were quietly reading our books in the van and we heard a french family talk about the van and take pictures beside it. We eavesdropped on the entire photo shoot and laughed silently. Although an eyesore the van is very comfortable with bed, inside table, kitchen sink, lots of storage, and camping amenities.
Our climbing in Siruana is humbling...after swinging on stalagtites in Kalymnos, crimping and standing on your feet in Spain is challenging. We are quickly improving our finger strength and pain tolerance to send our latest 7b+, which was almost 40m long. The rock reminds us of Lion´s Head, back home, but there is way more of it here. Siruana is beautiful and we are finally getting good weather after days of rain and cloud. The climbing is growing on us and we will stay in the area for at least another week before we try and head to Rodellar...which might be too cold and wet to climb there this time.
It is an international climbing scene once again and we´re meeting great people. We have been playing poker with some Germans, Urig and Yacob, chillin out with three South Africans, Orion, Mickey and Andrew, and meeting new acquaintences at every cliff we visit.
We are doing well and enjoying the easy life.
We miss home and everyone there! Saloo (cheers) until next time.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Kalymnos Countdown...4 days left

We have a week left in Masouri, Kalymnos. Time went way too fast! We
enjoyed the last three weeks chillin in our studio, eating fantastic
Greek cuisine at different restaurants, cruising the town of Pothia
and its little shops of bakeries, cafes, and vegetable stands.
satisfied our "need for speed" on our scooter rides around Kalymnos as
we explored ancient ruins, churches, panoramic views of the island,
islated beaches. and hidden cave systems littered with
stalactites, stalacmites, and gigantic columns (millions of yeard old!)

Since the last post, We have continued our
climbing spree and flashed both of our first 12d's.

The climb named "picolous" was at least 35m of steep roof climbing using pockets,
sidepulls, tufas and stalagtites of all shapes and sizes.

The route weaved to and fro, had one definate crux, and it was necessary to
manage some serious
pump, and to manipulate the stalagtites; to get in behind them, on top
of them or smeged inbetween them to get the most of rests offered along
the way. I
It climbed out of the famous "Grande Grotto" of Kalymnian

The patio season at our studio is getting better by the day.
The sun is warm
and sets right before our eyes.
We changed the clocks ahead one hour
so we're looking forward to more sunlight during the "Golden Hour", the
most beautiful time to climb for pictures and sending.

Our buddy, Kyle, Leslie's hubby has joined us a few days ago. He
brought some more energy to the crew and more night life, which Dave
is enjoying way too much.

We have enjoyed our stay in Masouri and have met some fantastic people.
Andonis is an amazing Mini Market owner with a genuine heart and
great at conversation. Dimitrius is another great Kalymnian local
who rents us our scooters and tells us stories of his travels to
India and Thailand. Jose, from Spain and now from Germany joined our
crew of three when we first arrived. He is a true gentleman and very
kind. He enjoys our Canadian antics and we enjoy his Spanish ways...
accent, attempts at English, jokes, and his cooking. He has made
some amazing meals that we have never tried before. In the dish tonight
he is using garlic, onion, zuccini, carrots, potatoes, eggplant, eggs,
cheese in various creative concoctions.

We have a few more days of climbing and one more rest day.
We have set plans to visit Athens during the Easter weekend and we hope
that the city will be open for at least a few days.
Our next destination is Spain and we have rented a Wicked Camper van,
complete with sleeping and cooking quarters. The van also comes with
a crazy paint job that we'll show you later!

Adeio=Goodbye in Greek

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Krazy in Kalymnos

"Yea su" is hello in Greek. We made it to a little island
named Kalymnos, population 15,000. Their motto here is "everything for the climbers". Everyone including our taxi driver to the mini mart owner, Adonas, will do backflips to make us feel welcome.

We are staying in the very small town of Masouri, home of studios and motorbikes to rent, friendly
restaurants and mini marts, and the strip is all overlooked by the huge
cliff above.
Leslie, our buddy from home has met us and We have
rented a spacious studio overlooking the Aegean Sea.
Our landlords, Adonis and Poppy, are extremely friendly and have
cooked us some excellent Greek cuisine from the heart.
We all do our best to communicate with this lovely, traditional couple.

We have been steadily climbing with a rest day between two climbing days.
The routes are long, steep, pumpy, and filled with adventurous movements
over tufas and stalagtites of all sizes! We are climbing well, onsighting
and flashing upto 12b.

Canada is definately making a statement here with
climbing skills and friendliness...we are neighbours and climbing
companions with other Canadians from Canmore, Michelle and Don...ironically
enough Leslie met this couple in Joshua Tree last year.

The weather is chilly with Spring like temps but it's great for climbing.
The season is just starting here so we will
have a few quiet weeks at the crag before the crowds of climbers come to
rage in Kalymnos.

On our rest days we have already explored the island on speedy motorbikes,
and have explored the major town of Porthia, the Port of the island.
Today we are not enjoying the rain too much but Les and I did enjoy
winning in Euchre against Dave and a new friend from Spain, Jose.

Right now we hear Canada is enjoying warmer weather Greece, so don't be too jealous.