commence Operation Don’t Suck

I’m back from a one week trip to Henderson, Nevada for my bi-yearly commitment to bettering myself professionally, namely the CCIE written exam, and I’m fully focused now on the coming summer’s climbing goals, that is: don’t suck. This weekend saw a refreshingly populous crew of Santa Barbara locals for the season’s third day at Owl Tor. We included Justin, Andy, Skip, and myself. Micah, Elhanan, and Phil were noticeably absent. They each cited respective excuses – Micah’s benched with shoulder issues, Phil was in Vegas, Elhanan is fat – like the Tor cares. The Tor remembers these indiscretions with the intention of jarring our memories in December, as the monsoon season steals any opportunities for progress, so that we may realize why we’ve failed on our projects. She reminds us we have indeed failed and who we may blame for that. Surprise, Tor: we’re already failing and it’s only April. I’m too old for this. I’m going to push hard for a redpoint on Strictly Ballroom this spring. One of us is going to lose here. Either I’ll clip chains despite Owl Tor’s best attempts to maim me, or I’ll flail pitifully for 7 months at Central California’s answer to Mordor. Whichever the outcome, I’m ramping up for an entertaining go of it, and so is everyone else. Justin redpointed Auto Magic on his second day of work this season, his second season climbing; Andy did 11 laps; and Skip is squeezing blood from mud. I had one good burn on BTL then flailed the rest of the day.

da routes:

  1. Power of Eating (5.11d) – redpoint
  2. When the Sea Doesn’t Want You (5.12a) – redpoint
  3. Chips Ahoy (5.12d) – redpoint
  4. Better Than Life (5.13c) – ground to the sidepull after the 3-finger after the fifth bolt
  5. Shatter Hand (5.12d) – fell at the last draw, worked out the top
  6. White Cougar (5.12b) – falls at the top
  7. Auto Magic (5.12a) – redpoint
  8. Anchor Punch (5.12a) – 1 fall
  9. When the Sea Doesn’t Want You (5.12a) – 1 fall

off to a good start

Day 2 of Owl Tor season was also my second day of the year on Better Than Life. I basically did what I wanted to, which was climb from the ground to the hueco at the fifth bolt. I’ve got my eye on Strictly Ballroom this season and I know no amount of training will be too much. This is the time to push hard on routes selected to prepare me for the work ahead.

da routes:

  1. Power of Eating (5.11d) – redpoint
  2. When the Sea Doesn’t Want You (5.12a) – redpoint
  3. Chips Ahoy (5.12d) – redpoint
  4. Better Than Life (5.13c) – 1 fall after clipping the fifth bolt at the hueco
  5. Shatter Hand (5.12d) – fell right after the last clip, then worked out the top moves; not my favorite route
  6. White Cougar (5.12b) – fell at the long move after the last clip, then worked around at the top; this route is not brilliant (I’m sorry, Steve – don’t hate me cuz you’re beautiful)
  7. Anchor Punch (5.12a) – redpoint
  8. When the Sea Doesn’t Want You – redpoint


Did a bunch of routes at the Tor this weekend. Two days after my fifth monthly recognition of my graduation from Cottage Hospital’s advanced pneumonia program I had my most productive day at Owl Tor: 8 routes, 8 redpoints. The previous day I re-set my dynamic no-fin apnea record at the UCSB pool: 50 yd, short course. Twice. It’s been several years and a couple liters of lungs since that last happened for me. I’m not saying it yet, but I’m becoming suspicious that this, my 30th year in existence, may be my most bodacious yet.

da routes:

  1. Power of Eating (5.11d)
  2. Auto Magic (5.12a)
  3. The Natural (5.12c)
  4. No Skill (5.12c)
  5. Better Than Chips (5.12d)
  6. Hell of the Upside Down Sinners (5.12b)
  7. Anchor Punch (5.12a)
  8. When the Sea Doesn’t Want You (5.12a)

All redpoints.

wish every day could be Saturday?

I don’t. That would mean I throw myself on Tor routes 7 days a week. One day is enough. Especially when it’s a volume day. Last Saturday was such a day. 5 redpoints. 8 laps.
da routes

  • Power of Eating (5.11d) – redpoint
  • Auto Magic (5.12a) – redpoint
  • The Natural (5.12c) – redpoint
  • No Skill (5.12c) – redpoint
  • Better Than Chips (5.12d) – redpoint
  • Hell of the Upside Down Sinners (5.12b) – 1 fall
    • I grabbed the chains. Yep.
  • Anchor Punch (5.12a) – 1 fall
    • At this point I’m just pissed. So, I didn’t really care. Waited about 10 minutes after Hell before starting up this gem.
  • When the Sea Doesn’t Want You (5.12a) – 2 falls
    • 2 falls. Not caring at all at this point. Waited 10 minutes, tops, between Anchor Punch and this. Obviously, I still had tons of energy. Unstoppable, really.

you don’t have to wonder what the worst route in Santa Maria is

It’s called The Natural. It’s super short, has a super awkward one-move crux, and it sucks. And it shut me down on Saturday. Four times. Micah and Elhanan went to the Tor with me. That made things cool. If not for them, had I been left alone to epically flail on stupid Natural, I would not have had a good day. Micah sent Auto Magic with ease, first go of the day, his first redpoint of this route and maybe of this grade. That’s kind of amazing since he boulders stupid hard. Elhanan just looked good.

my numbers:

  • Power of Eating (5.11d) – redpoint
  • Auto Magic (5.12a) – redpoint
  • 4 x The Natural (5.12c) – falls at the crux
  • Better Than Chips (5.12d) – clipped the last draw and took
  • Anchor Punch (5.12a) – redpoint
  • When the Sea Doesn’t Want You (5.12a) – redpoint

also on Saturday: rodeo clipping (watch your ladies)

welcome back, failure

Fresh on the heels of last weeks redpoint extravaganza, was this weeks’s typically grim Saturday Tor session. In my defense, it was hot and I got on some new routes (new to my volume training routine anyway), The Natural and Hell of the Upside Down Sinners. Jud witnessed Owl Tor, in all her glory, for his first time. No doubt, the pleasure is all his. Marcela made a defiant appearance despite the Tor’s attempt on her life 2 weeks earlier. Continuing his recent trend of substantial weekly progress, Justin linked large sections of Power of Eating and dialed in the bottom of When the Sea Doesn’t Want You. Phil too looked leagues better this Saturday compared to last, this his second day back.
my routine:

  • Power of Eating (5.11d) – redpoint
  • Auto Magic (5.12a) – redpoint
  • The Natural (5.12c) – fell at the crux
    • I remember now why this is commonly known as Santa Maria’s worst route. Truly ridiculous.
  • Hell of the Upside Down Sinners (5.12b) – redpoint
    • Good burn. I haven’t been on this in a couple months and haven’t redpointed it this year. It was a bit of a fight.
  • Better Than Chips (5.12d) – fell at the crimp after the jugs
    • After mysteriously falling right after leaving the Chips jugs I decided to give up on the BTL finish for a new sequence in to Pro Skill. It’s hard. And weird.
  • Anchor Punch (5.12a) – 1 fall at the crux


Saturday proved to be one of those rare rad days at Owl Tor. This marks the opening of redpoint season in Santa Maria. Stuff was getting sent left and right – Micah on The Sea and me on the 6 routes of my planned routine. Not to mention Phil’s triumphant return, an Elhanan appearance and Andy’s siege of Anchor Punch.
Eclipsing all of this climbing nonsense though, was the mad crankenstein respekt dealt at Tonic later. On a night when getting in to one of Santa Barbara’s smoovest watering holes would have been an epic sans hook up, I bypassed the swollen door crowd and cover simply by representing crankenstein. Big up to the biggest bouncer I’ve seen all week – Ryan’s dealing out crankenluv by the armloads and getting my nomination for mayor of RadBouncersville. I’m not saying this will work at every seething club, but dropping the crankenstein name could, as it did me, get you hooked the F up (you’re welcome, Mom).

da routine:

  • Power of Eating (5.11d) – redpoint
  • Auto Magic (5.12a) – redpoint
  • No Skill (5.12c) – redpoint
  • Better Than Chips (5.12d) – redpoint
  • Anchor Punch (5.12a) – redpoint
  • When the Sea Doesn’t Want You (5.12a) – redpoint

Saturday again

The Tor, again. Micah, Justin, Hawk, Marcela and I gave the Tor our best on Saturday. And again, it wasn’t good enough. Micah had big plans for The Sea – didn’t happen. Marcela and Hawk had planned on crushing Power – way didn’t happen. I thought I might take down No Skill – ridiculously did not happen. I don’t know what Justin’s plans were but I’m sure he got shut down as well. For the 37 thousandth time this god-forsaken season I fell on that hell-pile 12c variation. And that was after I redpointed Better Than Chips, which is way harder. I don’t understand it. In my defense, things did feel slick. Marcela had one of the gnastiests falls I’ve ever seen when she skated off the first move of The Sea, nailing her back on a rock at the base. So, something was clearly going on here. Add to that the mass Tuesday-thinking delirium we all shared and you have a recipe for disaster at Owl Tor.

da routes:

  • Power of Eating (5.11d) – Redpoint
  • Auto-Magic (5.12a) – Redpoint
  • Better Than Chips (5.12d) – Took at the jugs, lowered.
    • Yeah, I took here cuz I forgot an extra draw. But not before 4 attempts at catching one thrown from the ground. Shredding.
  • Better Than Chips (5.12d) – Redpoint
    • Good. Ran it out a little. Good burn.
  • Power of Eating – Ran up to the third to last draw to get photos of Micah, then lowered.
  • No Skill (5.12c) – Fell right after the jugs, lowered.
  • The Natural (5.12b) – Took at the crux.
    • Here I was trying to work out a new sequence. Gave up. It sucks.

like Disney Land for climbers

The Tor gained a new fan today. Nicholas, whom I had not met before, was way psyched on the routes at Owl Tor. And I was way psyched to see him psyched. One of us, one of us, one of us… 
I am actually declaring Nicholas today’s Lord of the Forest for his rad comment, that almost sneaked past my attention through his Chilean accent, upon first experiencing the cliff, “this is like Disney Land for climbers”. My thought exactly. Everyone seemed psyched in fact. Andy cranked, especially considering he’s not been spreading his love at the Tor for a couple months, redpointing The Sea most impressively. Justin continued his trend of virtually doubling in strength upon every visit, working things out once again on Power.

my routine

  • Power of Eating (5.11d) – redpoint
  • When the Sea Doesn’t Want You (5.12a) – redpoint
  • No Skill (5.12c) – 1 fall at the long crimp after the Chips jugs
    • I don’t want to talk about it.
  • Better Than Chips (5.12d) – grabbed the draw at the last clip on Better Than Life
    • Felt good, made the long move out to the jug on BTL. Put the draw on the last hanger but could not will myself to pull up rope for that clip. That’s not an inspiring fall. And I’m a wuss.
  • Hell of the Upside Down Sinners (5.12b) – fell after the last clip
  • Anchor Punch (5.12a) – 1 fall at the crux pinch
  • Anchor Punch (5.12a) – 1 fall at the crux pinch

I would like to see more redpoints out of me. Note to self: 1-falls are not redpoints. Not even close.
It was 90 degrees today, approaching oppressive. Micah, Justin, Nicholas, Nicholas’s wife Cota and me comprised the posse.