Monday, November 30, 2015

Slice of life 5.13d/8b, Rifle

Sam Elias, Rifle

Sam Elias, Slice of life 5.13d/8b (Rifle)
Sam Elias cruising Slice of life 5.13d in The Wicked Cave, Rifle.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

To soon to leave

"It's not like you wasted your time" was Said's respons to my complaints over how fast six weeks go by. I guess it's true as time seems to accelerate along with how much I enjoy myself. I can't think of any trip I made where I experienced as much and met so many new friends. Not once have I been bored or felt that I had to come up with something to do. The few times when we sat still for a change, I actually relished, which is rather unusual for being me.

The last couple of days in Boulder were nice and kinda relaxed. We did some climbing in Cleer creak canyon (Primowall is AWESOME) and bouldered in Flagstaff. Most of the time however were spent hanging out with friends, enjoying just being around. 

Christian Griffith "Undercling traverse"
Christian Griffith repeating Undercling traverse at Flagstaff. A problem that he climbed "perhaps about a 1000 times", to use his own words.

Normaly when a trip comes to an end I'm pretty tired and can see some bright sides about being back home. This time is no different in terms of me being tired, but not of travelling, so I could just as well have taken some rest in Boulder and then kept going. But I guess I will have to get used to the thought of climbing in minus degrees around Stockholm for a while, which is also quite nice. Only not as nice as climbing in Rifle or Smith. 


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Back to Boulder

So came the day when it was time to move on from Smith Rock. I would have loved to stay longer, but as we had two weeks of good weather that over our last couple of days in the area turned pretty grim, I felt alright leaving. 

USA 2015 Smith Rock
Said working Scarface, one of many classic Smith testpieces. Seing how much climbing has been moving forward in the last years, it's amazing that Scott Franklin put up this hard route already back in 1987.

In the end I'm quite happy with the techy sandstone-routes I managed to get up. It's by no means anything to brag about, but I think I did close to the best I could considering the shape I'm in. I climbed some of the routes I'd been wanting to get on, including some ultra classics like Chain reaction, Churning in the wake, Kings of rap and Darkness at noon. The perhaps best of them was Darkness at noon. 30 meters sustained, technical climbing up a beautiful vertical to slightly overhanging wall, makes for one of my all time favorites. Smith is packed with quality climbs like that, in varried difficulties. Many of them I would love to get on and I hope to be back soon, as psyched but much stronger.

USA 2015 Smith Rock
Yours truly climbing Churning in the wake. Photo: Said Belhaj.

Since we left Smith on monday night we passed trough Salt lake city to re-visit some friends and then headed to Moab for the second time this trip. Down there we got a bit of climbing in at Potach road and also spent a day squeezing our selfs (litterly spoken) up chimneys to the top of Castleton tower. A very unigue and frightening experience as I have no trust in my own abilties placing gear. 

USA 2015 Smith Rock

As from last night we are back in Boulder where the trip began six weeks ago. I can't believe we only have a few more days before flying home. If I could I would cancel my ticket and stay here climbing until I'd get borred with it, which would probably be never. But every trip comes to an end and to see something good about that, it means I can start planning the next one.

USA 2015 Smith Rock


Friday, November 13, 2015

Said just do(es) it

I really admire Said's drive and motivation. During our time here in Smith he's climbed so many routes. Regardless of the difficulty, he walks up to whatever he finds appealing and most of the times, does it in a couple of goes. He is by no means chasing numbers. In Smith he's rather been chasing classics. A route that he's been talking about ever since we left Sweden some weeks ago, is "Just do it" on The Monkeyface. It might be the best line in Smith and also happens to be that hardest. The route was put up by Jean-Baptiste Tribout back 1992 and has an iconic status among the gems of the area. Over the last almost two weeks, we made the heinous walk over the hill a couple of times for him to try the route. Each time, he dogged up it once. No more. He's been saying that he wants to save his skin for the redpoint attempt. Only to walk back over the hill to climb a couple of "easy" classics. 

Said Belhaj Just do it 5.14c

Today he met up with an old friend that offered to come belay him on the route. I was glad not to have to fill my legs with lactic acid and stay on the route I was working and get my forearms pumped instead. But when Said came back with a smile on his face, I wished I'd went along to witness an amazing achivement!


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Smith Rock

Since a bit more than a week, we are in Smith Rock, Oregon. So far we've managed to climb six full days, which is just about as much as my skin has been able to take, perhaps a bit to much acually. The rock here is sharp, but a side from that this place is incredible in many ways. The area is beautiful, the climbing is awesome and so far, weather has been good pretty much the whole time (except for at one point when a halestorm came in just as I was doing a burn on a route a was trying).

Smith Rocks

It's hard to know where to start with so many good routes to try. I would love to spend some time on some (for me) slightly harder climbs, at the same time as there are tons of moderate stuff that I also want to do. I was hoping that I would be able to do a bit better here than I have in the areas we been to before on this trip, seing how the style of climbing here should suite me really well. But the last year of injuries, laziness and being undisciplined seems to haunt me here also. Still, it's good to travel as it gives me even more motivation than I had before we went on this trip, to keep climbing and get back to (and beyond) where I was a couple of years ago. 

Smith Rocks
Said on his way to the rocks.
Smith Rocks 
If weather stays good we'll be sticking around for another week, which should be enough time for me to take down at least a couple of more routes. Which ones to go for I have not decided, but it really doesn't matter that much as all of them are good and fun to climb.


Monday, November 2, 2015

Trick or treat

After a couple of days climbing in Maple Canyon on the most funky rock I've ever seen, we moved on to Salt Lake City on Thursday night. Our plan was to only stay during our restday and then move on towards Smith Rocks. But when we where invited to spend Halloween with Sam Ellias and friends, plans changed.

It was fun to be parts of this holiday in its cradle. During the day we went bouldering in Little Cottonwood Canyon (LCC) with Ronnie Jenkins and Lauren Callaway. They gave us the grand tour of the area and pointed us towards all the best climb. As sun set over SLC we drove back down from the mountains and headed to Sam's place for burgers and off course, Halloween candy. The house was filled with people and we ate, drank and talked all night. 

Yesterday morning we jumped back in our very small rental car, perhaps the smallest thing on four wheels in the entire US, and continued west. On the way we did a quick stop in Idaho city of rocks. It was nice to break up the long drive with some climbing and to see yet another great crag.

While Said has been driving I've been scanning the Smith Rocks guidebook and I can already say that the two weeks we are planning to stay wont be enough.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The eighth day

Last weekend on our first trip to Rifle, we went over to check out the "Project wall". A large overhanging sector hosting numerous hard routes. To the right of the wall there is an orange face which is divided by a beautiful grey streak. A route called The eighth day comes out of an overhang to the right, traverses on to the grey streak and follows it to the top of the wall. 45 meters of perfect limestone. Immediately when I saw it I thought, "thats a climb I would love to do before moving on from here". At that time not knowing what it was, I turned to the person closest to me and asked - "I haven't climbed it my self, but people say it's a real adventure" said Jen, as in Jen and Andrew Bisharat who was kind enough to host us at their home while we where in Rifle.

I started trying The eighth day this past Saturday, a week after having spotted it and with only two more days to climb in Rifle this trip. I would have liked to do some more milage before getting on such a long route, but with the amount of time we had left before moving on west, I had no choice if I wanted to give myself a proper shot at doing it. So I spent that afternoon hangdogging it a couple of times and also gave it one burn from the ground. But after working the route I was totally emptied out, or "helt blank" as my travelling partner Said would have said. I did not even pass the lower crux.

USA 2015

After a good night sleep I returned on Sunday morning. Along with doing a couple of easier routes, I warmed up by dogging the route past the upper crux once more. I felt much better than the day before, but still doubted I would be able to keep it together all the way. Half an hour later it was time for my first real readpoint attempt. I passed the lower crux which I had thought of as perhaps being the main obstacle for me. Standing at the rest after having climbed out the overhang and traversed on to the streak, the nervousity I felt all morning was blown away. As I set off, laybacking my way towards the upper crux, I enjoyed every move. Without really thinking about it, I found myself at the rest past the crux. However, the route was not finished there. I still had another 15 meters of climbing a head of me, which I had only done once yesterday and by now forgotten how to climb, putting all my focus on the moves leading up to there. It's such a different experience to climb routes that are this long compared to bouldering which I've been mostly doing in the past. Physically off course, but mentally as well. To become better at it I have to practice my abilities to switch between relaxing at resting points and moving without hesitating.

Said has an admireable approach towards climbing. One that you don't see very often and that I believe many climbers could learn from. My main goal on the rest of this trip is to work on my attitude to why I go climbing and what is important. I think one of the reasons why I made it to the anchors of The Eighth day are some of the talks Said and I had in the past days. I owe him for that, as well as for his patience with me while trying this route. Thank's buddy, on to the next one(s)!


Friday, October 23, 2015

Moving on

After hanging out in Boulder for a couple of days, we drove back to Rifle on wednesday morning. Weather here has not been great so far, but we still climbed loads. I guess one of the upsides with travelling with a person like Said, is that there is almost nothing that can keep him from going climbing. That attitude makes it easier for me to stay motivated. Even on days like yesterday, when rain was pooring down pretty much all day, we kept climbing from early morning until dark. Today however, we are both pretty beat up and will use this rainy day to recover so that we are hopefully fit when good weather rolls in tomorrow.

USA 2015 - Weekend in Rifle
Said contemplaing what tea to take for the road.


Monday, October 19, 2015

A learning experience

Time flies here in the US. Tomorrow it has already been a week since we arrived and each day has so far been an adventure. The first couple of days we where hanging out around Boulder, climbing in Cleer creak canyon and Eldorado canyon. It was good to get the body going a bit and shake some of the jetlag.

USA 2015 - First week in Boulder 
Said catching up with Christian Griffith on a walk between the Verve office and Christians house in Eldorado canyon.

Said has been introducing me to many interesting people. Supermotivated climbers who are dedicating their whole lifes to the rocks. For some, this devotion has turned them in to legends as they have been part of making the sport (or whatever it is) what it is today. Meeting these guy's and being at the crags around here, is definetely giving me some perspective of things. Seing how strong people are is mindblowing to say the least. It's also really fun to watch Said climb. I'm sorry to say that I believe the Swedish climbing community is not aware of what an incredible athlete we got in this man. 

USA 2015 - Weekend in Rifle

USA 2015 - Weekend in Rifle
Sam Elias climbing Slice of life 5.13d/8b (Rifle) on his second attempt.

Over the weekend we payed our first visit to Rifle. A hotspot for sportclimbing in the US. The two days climbing there was humbling for sure. I'd heard a lot about this place, about the very tricky style of climbing which makes it close to impossible to climb well without beta. Due to this I off course tried to lower my expectations, but I guess no matter how hard you try not to put preasure on your self, you will still allways have some hopes on doing well. These hopes of mine however, was brutaly crushed within the first day. I'm not sure if me climbing poorly had much to do with the climbing being harder than in any other crag I've visited for the first time. It allways takes some time to get in to climbing at a new spot and I am really looking forward to returning as I feel this is a place where I can develop a lot as a climber. We'll be going back in a day or two, after having enjoyed some much needed rest back here in Boulder.

USA 2015 - Weekend in Rifle
Said redpointing Vision thing 5.13b/8a (Rifle).


Wednesday, October 14, 2015


After many years of dreaming about climbing in the states, I'm finally here! Not sure how to put down in words how excited I am. Psyched on the climbing off course, but also on exploring the country, meeting new people, picking up tips and tricks from master Said, eating burritos, camping, spotting bears and moutain lions and much, much more.

We arrived here in Boulder CO last night and will be hanging out around here for about one and a half weeks, before driving west through Utah, Idaho and Oregon. I will try to post as much as I can from along the way, but since we'll be spending quite a lot of time living in a tent out in the desert, our internet access will be limited. A part of the trip I'm actually looking forward to quite a bit...


Friday, October 9, 2015

Christian, Max & Ruby

Västervik September weekend 2015
Christian Merlau working Max & Ruby 7A at Mommehål 2 in Västervik.


Friday, September 25, 2015

Västervik weekend

Visiting Västervik is allways a pleasure. Not only is there lot's of good climbing, but the suroundings are so nice that just being in the beautiful nature could be worth the trip alone. Over the last weekend I left Stockholm to hang out with my German friends who rented a cabin just south of Västervik. The stay turned out great and I got to spend more time on rock than I've done in total in the last year. As you might understand I was pretty keen and ended up destroying myself already on the first day, repeating old climbs on Fruberget. Apart from that we ended up climbing only in sectors where I had no been. It was interesting to explore some new parts of the area and spot problems that I would like to come back and try when I'm finally recovered from injuries.

Västervik September weekend 2015

Västervik September weekend 2015

Västervik September weekend 

Västervik September weekend 2015

Västervik September weekend 2015

Västervik September weekend 2015