Friday, 30 March 2012

The long overdue update...part two

Looming there on the horizon was my 40th birthday (at the end of Jan).   So, we headed back to party central – Las Vegas to celebrate in style!  

The Hoover Dam, Nevada
Just when you thought you'd seen enough sunsets.  This one was a stunner!  Taken from the Red Rocks campground, Las Vegas, Nevada
Speaking of stunners...NOT!
Getting absolutely no love from my spotter!  Red Rocks, Nevada
On my 40th birthday, Las Vegas, Nevada

Although the hangover slowly subsided…..the fog of turning 40 did not.  Well, at least we got to catch up with our friends Matt & Cassie at Red Rocks.  We spent a week together bouldering at Kraft Mountain.  I thought it was a pretty decent field.  I was also lucky to get a new digital SLR camera for my birthday - pity we didn’t get that at the start of the trip! 
Much happier with my spotter (Cassie)! 

Cassie on The Pearl (V5) - Red Rocks, Nevada
Matt on The Pearl (V5)
Thats me crushing "Bucks Muscle World" 5.9, Red Rocks, Nevada
Cassie on Yaak Crack 11.b - Red Rocks, Nevada

It was there at Red Rocks that we decided it was time to go L.  No matter what we did for Mars’ shoulder, it just did not improve.  Massage, excessive drinking, rain dances, positive vibes…nothing worked.  We headed back to J-Tree to say hi and bye to Chris and Alyssa before we left to go sell our van.  Tears flowed there also….
A rare sighting of "The Snowman" Joshua Tree, California

By the time we actually sold the van we were both so over it that we just wanted to get home.  But we had five days to kill before we left.  Hearing that the coast road between LA and San Fran was pretty special, we decided to hit the beach….and there we were in bathers on a glorious 80 degree  winters day.  We got as far north as Monterrey.  It’s a pretty coast, but I think that the Great Ocean Road is better.  I’m biased. 
Pacific Coast Highway No 1, California
Pismo Beach, California
Stormy weather, just up from Pebble Beach, California
The Santa Monica Pier, our last day in the US
The end of the road...
Speaking of biased – how good is the climbing at Mt Arapiles?  It’s so nice to rediscover the mount and to be as vertically challenged as ever.
Much love to you all and look forward to catching up either in the city or Natimuk. 

The long overdue update...part one

It was fun watching the odometer on our van tick over 110,000 miles. 

We’ve travelled over 13,000 miles on this trip.  It made me think back over some of the awesome places we’d been to and the great people we’d met over the last nine months.  Such wonderful memories!  I don’t really know what I was thinking, but for some reason, I just didn’t think this trip would ever end.  But as they say in the classics, “all good things come to an end”.  I don’t care much for this saying...

Mars’ shoulder wasn’t improving and therefore very little climbing was done in the last few months.  So we made the decision to end our trip earlier than expected L.  At that moment of realisation, I cried a lot!  Never mind that it was actually Mars who was in pain.  I was never happier than when we were tucked up in our van after a big day out climbing, cracking dumb jokes, laughing and drinking cheap wine out of a tin cup.   But, the upside is coming home and seeing family and friends.  We are currently staying in Natimuk and can still be contacted via the usual email addresses etc.  We’ve pretty much settled into Nati for the time being, so come & see us!  I couldn’t think of a better way to keep the trip alive.

So, I’ll do my best to wrap up the final months of our trip together (with pics)…..

After we left Vegas in December, the plan was to climb in Joshua Tree National Park.  I say ‘plan’ because we turned up there in an absolute hurricane with snow-flakes floating all around us.  We lasted one night there in the freezing cold and decided to head straight down to Mt Lemmon, Tucson, Arizona.  The weather was a little better there.  There was quite a lot of snow on Mt Lemmon, so we were very limited to climbing on the lower mountain (The Hairpin, Ruins, etc).  The climbing was OK, but not great.  I assume the good stuff was higher up where we couldn’t get to. 
Tucson, Arizona

The last (disabled) Titan Misile - Tucson, Arizona

So after a Christmas of Mariachi & Margaritas in Tucson, we headed back up to J-Tree in California where the weather was really improving.  It was just stunning winter climbing!  We climbed in singlets and it was even warm enough to do campground yoga again.  The town of J-Tree seemed to come alive in winter  with a whole new range of cool little cafes and vintage shops opening up.  This was peak time for J-Tree climbing.
We celebrated New Years J-Tree style – bbq, campfire (which burnt out by 9pm), wine, etc etc etc.  The fire brigade and police turned up at about 2am to put out a fire at someone else’s campsite, which was the most excitement we’d had since midnight. 
Sunset at Joshua Tree (winter) - hard to believe that it was only 5pm
Ha - not so vertically challenged now!
Gnarly cracks at Joshua Tree
Conans Corridor, Joshua Tree - thats Mars waaaay back there!
We could just it through the corridor with packs on
The beautiful sunset at Joshua Tree - New Years Eve 2011 
Cairn art - Joshua Tree

We then did some touristy stuff at Sedona and the Grand Canyon before heading back to Tucson with the plan to head across to Hueco Tanks, Texas for some bouldering.  I didn’t anticipate the 3 week wait before we could get a reservation at Hueco.  That put a bit of a spanner into the works.  So, we just ended up staying out of town at a place called Tucson Mountain Park.  I was looking for some bouldering and managed to find one “good” bouldering area at Gates Pass, which kept me entertained for about 30 minutes.  But the weather was warm and we had a cheap campsite – with electricity! 
Bouldering at Gates Pass, Tucson
Sunsets just seem to get more stunning - Gates Pass, Tucson
Our van!  I miss him....
A cool art installation (permanent) in Tuscon
Skiing at the top of Mt Lemmon
Beautiful Sedona, Arizona
Between a vortex and a hard place
More Sedona
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon, Arizona
To be continued....

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Previously shared pics from Squamish to Yosemite, Sept 2011

The sun sets on our visit to Squamish. Its now back to the US - home of cheap food, climbing gear & petrol!

Having a blast at Mt St Helens on the drive back down to San Fran. 

Hug a really big tree!  The Redwoods in California.

Back into the Sierras in California waiting for the weather to improve.  Mars catching dinner at Lake Sabrina.

Sunrise over our free camping in The Buttermilks.

Bouldering at The Buttermilks, Bishop, California.

Climbing at Daff Dome (Tuolumne Meadows, California) before the afternoon storms roll back in.

Fairview Dome, Tuolumne Meadows.  Check out the smoooooth slabs in the foreground and the storm clouds in the background.  The last place you want to be is on top of one of these domes in a storm!  But how amazing are these formations?

Tuolumne Meadows, California.

In Yosemite!  This is the truely breathtaking "El Capitan" 3000ft wall.
The crew enjoying a good old Aussie barbie in Yosemite.

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