Sunday, October 7, 2012

Yosemite 09/29-10/01/2012

This was the first trip ever out to the valley for Steve and I, it was a blast. The park is a climbers heaven, a surreal experience to say the least. We unfortunately caught it on a bad week. The temps were in the mid 80's and there was a huge volunteer group helping to clean the park-which is awesome-however, they took up a lot of camp space, making it impossible to get a site in the park. The crowds made it difficult to try working any of the classic problems. This forced us to explore some of the lesser popular lines, making the trip all the more adventurous. The rock is so good, it made any problem feel top shelf. We were constantly on the move to different areas working our way further from the masses and somehow feeling closer, more in tune with the park. It was truly a beautiful experience, I can't wait to make my way back out there again this season.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

It's Been A Little Bit

So, after going AWOL for nearly a year inspiration has struck and I decided to breathe a bit o' life back into vertiCALI. Chris has been making some fun videos of our climbing lately, and I thought I would resuscitate this bitch with a neat video of my first 5.12 send, a route called The Drifter at Malibu Creek. Enjoy!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Mithral Dihedral Photos

Here are the images we captured during our big day out, enjoy!

Chris packs up his absurd bag

Sure, he is smiling now but. . .

The turn off

Above Lower Boyscout Lake


Racked up and ready to hike

At Iceberg Lake


Ready for the first lead

Chris is one stoked prairie dog

Mid-route supplementation

Above Lower Boyscout again, on the descent this time

These next few are out of order, but more shots of the climbing action

The meat.

The feet.

Partway up the first pitch

Mithral Dihedral

Well, it's been a while since this here blog has shown any signs of life. A combination of lots of work, climbing, and my general lack of desire to do shit when I get home led to a period of epic inactivity here in Verticali-land, but no more! I is back and to kick things off I'd like to share a bit about an adventure Chris Ramirez and I had on Mithral Dihedral (5.10, III) on Mt. Russell in the Eastern Sierra. So without further ado, here's the shit. . .

Fifteen feet above the relative safety of our rappel ledge I moved cautiously upward attempting to free our rope, which had snagged as we pulled it from our last anchor. I tested the big block, committed, and pulled hard in an effort to get closer to the snag, which was now in sight. Suddenly, the block flipped upwards and I let out a pathetic cry as I found myself balancing with the twenty-pound rock, now uprooted, resting firmly against my chest. I scrambled to find a jam in the too-wide crack just above me and finally, with a reasonable stance, shoved the hunk of granite off into the void. An initial silence was followed by the crack of the rock tumbling down featureless granite walls, casting a trail of sparks with each bounce before it disappeared into the dark void below; then silence.
Two hours before Chris and I had signed the summit register on top of Mt. Russell (14,088 Ft.) and shared the warm embrace of success after hours of hard climbing up the beautiful Mithral Dihedral (5.10, III) in the Whitney zone of California’s Eastern Sierra. This was our first alpine climb, as well as our first trad climb at the 5.10 grade and it had gone off without a hitch; and as the sun set over the distant Western ranges we basked in the powerful feelings of success and accomplishment on a scale much grander than we had known before. We had chased thin cracks of possibility and come out on top.
            We left Los Angeles Tuesday morning, Sept. 20th and arrived in Lone Pine around 12:30 PM, after securing a permit and feasting on pizza and beer we drove up to Whitney Portal, loaded our gear, and began hiking up the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek. Chris’ pack was stuffed to the gills, hauling fifty pounds of gear (this was his first backpacking trip so we’ll forgive him that) including a giant tripod, two sleeping pads, and our entire climbing rack. My pack was a modest thirty-six pounds and I hauled the rope, bear canister, and tent. We moved at a leisurely pace and reached our camp at Upper Boyscout Lake around 7:00 PM. After setting up camp we feasted on some freeze-dried delectables; after thorough feasting and feeling sufficiently carbed-up we turned in for the night.
After a rather fitful night’s sleep we awoke at 6:00 AM to the obnoxious beeping of my watch and rose to rack up and begin the two mile approach to the base of the route. We had planned on starting the hike by 7:00 AM but after a thorough session of dawdling we set off a bit after 8:00 AM. The approach proved more involved than we had anticipated and we found ourselves just above Iceberg Lake at the base of Mt. Whitney at 10:30. After trying unsuccessfully to talk Chris into heading up Whitney’s East Buttress and then crossing a small snowfield we scrambled up to the Whitney-Russell Col and finally, the route was in sight! It looked big. We made our way across the the valley between the two mountains and at 11:30 I was tied into the rope and ready to start up the route. The first two leads were mine and I cinched my shoes tight across my feet and began climbing.
            Mithral’s first two pitches went quickly and efficiently, moderate climbing on well-spaced gear got us up to the base of the dihedral just before 1:00 PM. The weather was fantastic and my Nano Puff stayed clipped to the harness for most of the day, climbing in short-sleeves in the mountains is wonderful! But now we were hanging at the base of the business, nearly three hundred feet of vertical climbing at 13,000+ Ft; this was where the climb became real, so to speak.

After pounding some Shot Blocks Chris racked up and began heading up the dihedral he moved quickly through the lower portion of the dihedral, running it out and saving gear. After bypassing the first crux section, about fifteen feet of unprotectable offwidth that called for some very exposed laybacking, Chris got a good rest and good gear. The rest of the pitch went, slowly but surely and after an hour on lead Chris built a semi-hanging belay and I huffed and puffed up as quickly as the altitude allowed. The next pitch, though much shorter than the previous, contained the technical crux of the climb, a slightly overhung section of layback crack to a wild step-across move. After a bit of encouragement and placing a pair of bomber Metolius Cams, Chris fired through the crux and with a wild whoop found himself on an amazing ledge with the most difficult climbing now over. I followed this pitch quickly and enjoyed every moment, climbing on top-rope sure is nice! We relaxed in the sun, finally secure on the huge ledge, and slurped down the last of our Gu. Reinvigorated we began up the last bit of roped climbing to the summit. Four or five more short, scrambly pitches up a ridge got us to another fine ledge where we unroped and third-classed our way to the summit.
With the sun rapidly descending behind us and a long, exposed third class ridge descent ahead of us we enjoyed the summit for a quick moment then began heading down Mt. Russell’s East Ridge. At this point I unstrapped my climb shoes and switched to my the runners. We descended the ridge quickly but lots of unexpected snow slowed our travel and we were forced off of the third class ledges and onto higher, quite exposed fourth class terrain.

After passing Russell’s West Summit with the last rays of light disappearing and more snow ahead we made an executive decision: to continue on this slick, exposed terrain in the dark seemed dire, particularly given that we only had one headlamp between us, my trusty Black Diamond Gizmo. We had reached a promising looking chute and decided to begin rappelling rather than face more snow in the dark. We quickly slung a rock and began what would turn out to be a journey of many dark, lonely rappels. As I coiled my rope at the bottom of the first rappel the last of the day’s light disappeared and, just after 7:00 PM, I turned on my headlamp. From above it looked as if a single rappel would lead us to walkable terrain, but after walking down another fifty yards we reached a large drop-off with no visible bottom. Our only option at this point was to continue rappelling into the darkness, and hope for viable anchor points along the way. After two or three rappels Chris and I switched places and I began leading the descent. Each rappel into the unknown brought about a sickening feeling, particularly for the second man down, who did not have the headlamp to guide him. Finally, after several harrowing moments including the aforementioned stuck rope a final rappel dropped us on top of a huge scree field. It was now midnight, we had been in motion since early that morning, eaten the last of our food and water at 5:00 PM and we still faced an unknown hike back to camp. Still, with unwavering hope and PMA (positive mental attitude, a climber’s most important tool) we had made it through the unknown.

For two hours we hiked through scree, talus, and over boulder fields until finally my headlamp caught the reflective glow of our tent. Overcome, we filled our bottles in Upper Boyscout and simply lay on the ground outside our tent for an hour, smoking cigarettes. Finally, at 3:00 AM we crawled into our sleeping bags and everything went blank.

We rose four hours later, packed up camp, and began the five mile hike back down to the Whitney Portal. We had not eaten for a while and were eager to get to Lone Pine and gorge ourselves on whatever fatty offerings the town had available. After descending the North Fork we were back at the Portal before noon and enjoying the best beers and French fries of our lives. We continued the feast in Lone Pine and then, after a huge coffee, began the drive back to Los Angeles. The haze of our experience was slow to dissipate, but as the Sierra disappeared behind us we found ourselves flipping through our guidebook, planning the next adventure. We had tip-toed our way across the razor-sharp ridge of possibility and could not wait for more. . .

Due to the pain-in-the-ass factor of uploading text and pictures, the pictures of this trip are featured in a subsequent post.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Just Ropes

YO! New apartment finally has some internet so I'm back in action! With unseasonably cool weather round here I've climbed a bunch, and had a blast. If you're not already, get out there!
Today I wanted to tell ya'll about the homies at and there new site, These guys are awesome, and their sites, justropes in particular, are amongst the most comprehensive I've seen. Seriously, they have any rope in any size, color, etc. you could want, single, twin, and half; also, the search options make it simple to find a specific type of product from a range of brands.
So when you start shopping for a new rope or pack check these guys first, great selection, good sales, and since you were so kind as to read about them here, here is a code for a 15% off discount on any purchase you make: XAN2011 Just punch it in when you check out and save a little dough!

So from all your friends here at Verticali, stay crackin' and keep the mind state Golden, peace!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Five Ten Quantum Review

Oh, rock shoes; how I love thee and all your various derivations, from down-turned sickness to board-lasted stiffness, there is one of you for every conceivable application. This spring saw the introduction of tons of sick new shoes from nearly every manufacturer, and Five Ten is at the front of the pack with rad new ish in every category, from the wild looking Anasazi high top to the gnarly Hornet. I recently got my hands on a pair of their new sticky icky purple, the Quantum, and while I have only had ‘em for a month or so, initial impression is that they kill!
The Quantum is a pretty low volume down-turned lace-up shoe featuring Stealth Onyxx rubber; it is essentially a down-turned Anasazi lace. The fit on these things is spectacular, particularly the heel, which cups the heel far better than the dragon, despite being lower volume. The shoe appears quite down-turned out of the box but they flatten out with the foot inside, and smearing is excellent. The toe is super precise, finding and sticking to any little pocket you like. So far, I have primarily climbed ‘em on pocketed Breccia, and they excel in this regard. I have taken them on a couple edge-intensive climbs and here they are money as well, the down-turn provides enough stiffness for frontpointing without sacrificing sensitivity.
So far, I love these shoes, they are comfortable, precise, and seem durable, though I will check back in with that info after a few more months of climbing. Also, call me shallow, but I kinda care about how my shoes look, and I am a big fan of purple shoes; I am stoked that I’ll no longer get the sideways stares when I have to ask to try a pair of Elektra’s (also a solid shoe, incidentally). Kudos to Five Ten for coming out with such badass kicks, I am stoked to continue climbing ‘em and will let ya’ll know how they hold up over the months. Keep the mind state Golden, Peace!
Pro’s: Purple like my drank homie, surgeon-like precision, fit-wise and on the rock, versatile, comfortable.
Con’s: Not sure yet, synthetic so maybe they’ll get stinky? Perhaps more after a few months
Got specific questions? Drop 'em in the comment box and I'll do my best to give ya what yer lookin' for

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Partners in Crime

VertiCali is excited to announce a new partnership with as well as their new offshoot

More details soon to follow. . .