The Free Soloist

Joshua Tree California

No lo permitiremos para quedar, I tell my climbing partner, Jose. We’re not going to let him stay.   

He nods, voices his assent in Spanish as we pull up to our site in Hidden Valley Campground, in Joshua Tree National Park. Hidden Valley Campground is the center of the Joshua Tree climbing scene, and on a Friday night, the place is swamped with after-work weekend warriors heading out from Los Angeles and San Diego.

Twenty-four million people live in Southern California. The 42 camping sites in Hidden Valley aren’t nearly enough to handle the demand. Luckily, Jose and I had arrived early and staked our claim.

Still, when we returned from town, we found a minivan parked in our campsite. The campsite could accommodate two vehicles, and we had only one. Graciously, the interloper had left space for us to park. Still, I wasn’t in the mood for company. We’re not going to let him stay, I told Jose.

Immediately after we’d parked, a young man walked up to the driver’s side window, and started to plead his case. Before he had time to get two sentences out, Jose interrupted him: “Yeah man, you can stay.”

Awesome! he said. Thanks guys. I’m gonna run off and try this boulder!

And he was gone.

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Climbing Hidden Valley Campground in Joshua Tree National Park

Hey all, I just got back from a pair of trips: a climbing trip to Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California; and a long-weekend of ice climbing in Ouray, Colorado.

Words are forthcoming about both ventures, but for now, I just wanted to share some photos my climbing partner Jose took while we were in J-Tree.

I brought all the climbing toys, and Jose brought his photography toys. Let me tell you — it pays to adventure with a professional photographer! It makes a biiiiig difference to have someone who knows what they’re doing along! (and someone who has all the expensive lenses, hehe).

Check out some of his best shots of Hidden Valley Campground, below.

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Escalada de Colorado, USA

[English here / ingles aca]

Este fin de semana, fuimos por una escalada grande en Eldorado Canyon, un parque estatal de Colorado, muy cerca de mi ciudad, Boulder.

Eldo es un lugar muy especial para mi. Es el hogar de muchos recuerdos buenos, y la escalada de una forma para olvidar recuerdos malos y cosas malas o dificiles. A este momento, tengo dificultades en mi vida y en mi corazon (ya te lo sabes si has leyido mis entradas de ‘Keeping it Light‘). Cuando aquellos problemas aparacen en la vida… La cuerda siempre te esperará.  Tuvé una dia buenisimo en el cañon. Me gustaría decir que pasaba el dia solamente pensando de la escalada… pero este no es la verdad.

Paso a paso.

Nosotros escalamos una ruta se llama “Ruper”, con un grado de 5b+ (5.8+). Es una clasica grande, alguna de las rutas mas populares en Eldo. Tiene seis largas (pitches) en dos secciones distintias — mitad abajo, y mitad arriba, con una rampa grande en pendiente hacia abajo en el medio.

La ruta sube el “Redgarden Wall” (pared jardin roja) a la cima. Redgarden es enorme — contiene miles de rutas, la gran mayoridad de tres o mas largas. Es un lugar espectacular para subir, con posiciones increyible y colores vivantes de rojos, verdes, y amarillos.

El clima de Colorado es muy agradable, con mucho soledad en todas las temporadas. Dicen que recibamos 300 dias del sol cada año — y yo lo creo. A la causa de eso, es possible escalar roca afuera en el invierno, incluso al disnivel alto en las montañas. Tuvimos 15 grados y un cielo mayoramente nublado. Usabamos chaquetas de plumas para estar calento en las largas arribas, pero estaba mas o menos, totalmente comodo.

Que buen forma de pasar un dia de invierno, no?

Colorado: Un paraíso. (No le digas a nadie, okay?)

Fotos de la escalada abajo.

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Last Words

“You said you saw something in my eyes that day in Lisbon that scared you. What was it?”

I am sitting in London Gatwick airport. C is on the other end of the phone. This is first time I have heard her voice in a month. It has been an excruciating five weeks in London.

Every time I leave Europe, I fly out of Gatwick. It’s reliably cheap. Today, for the first time in my life, I’ve missed my flight. I’ll have to wait there in Gatwick, overnight, for the next flight home to New York.

On the phone, there’s a long pause.

Finally, C says: “It was hurt. I saw hurt in your eyes.”

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Why I Chose to #OptOutside this Black Friday

When I’m traveling and people find out I’m American, one of the first things they usually say is: “Oh, America: Black Friday!”

I’m not sure why this event has managed to attach itself to the American identity, but I’ve had enough foreigners ask me about it that it clearly has. The rest of the world sees us as capitalism-crazed lemmings; people who will jump out of bed at 5 a.m. for anything, as long as the discount’s high enough.

And maybe that’s true, for some segment of my countrymen. But that’s not MY America. The same way the extreme Islamic clerics don’t represent Nouman’s Morocco, the homophobes in the streets don’t represent Iuri’s Brazil, and the Brexiteers don’t represent Sean’s England. Black Friday shoppers don’t represent MY America.

You can’t (successfully) stereotype people of any country — but the US, even less so. As I tell people when they ask about my home: there are many Americas.

And in my America, we #OptOutside.

While everyone else got up at 5 a.m. to snag #dealz, we got up at 5 a.m. to go snag some early-season ice climbing at Hidden Falls, in Rocky Mountain National Park. Find a different side of America, below the jump.

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