Giant Awesome Climbing gym

September 2, 2013

Giant Awesome Climbing gym

Enormous climbing gym in Watertown near Boston, called Central Rock.


Rock Climbing in Southern Illinois – Jackson Falls

April 27, 2012

True Adventures trip to Southern Illinois last weekend.  Eight people’s worth of fun and awesomeness. Miranda led the trip and did a fabulous job as always.  It’s maybe six hours south of Chicago, and totally worth the drive.  Hundreds of sport climbs and trad climbs.  All in a gorgeous canyon, terrific hiking, a pretty waterfall, and free camping.  Which is very cool.  Make sure you bring your own water for camping as there isn’t any there, aside from the little creek if you’d like to filter your own.  They’ve recently put up some more signs to make it much easier to find the camping.  Climbs range from 5.6 to 5.13.  So happy.  Such a great, relaxing, excellent climbing spot and place to experience nature.  Have any questions about where are the best spots to climb?  Feel free to email me.  I can give some pointers on how to get into the canyon and where to go once you’re in.


Joe rocks his first lead, a 5.9 no less. Near Munchkin.


Why'd I skip the first bolt I wonder? Or did it come unclipped...


The westy performs flawlessly, what a machine.


High Points trip including SC, KY, and GA, attempt at NC

January 11, 2010

Lisa and I took a five day “engagement-moon” road trip to the south over New Year’s 2010. One of my projects is to summit the highest point in all 50 states, and a few continents and countries as well. We stayed with some good friends in Indianapolis the first night, then the second day drove to Asheville, NC where we stayed again with friends up in the mountains – celebrating New Years by lighting off a bunch of firecrackers with their five year old and playing dino board games, much fun and laughter had by all. Turns out that in the winter most of these southern state high points are closed to vehicle traffic, and most being drive-ups, this complicated our task.  Read the rest of this entry »

Random Clips

September 10, 2009

I haven’t posted in a while and have a hadful of random things to talk about that have occurred the last month or so.

First is this video of my friend Tadd Maudlin, cruising on his sailboat off the coast of Belize, doing a dance that I used to do in college and most likely still do called “the Trimmer”.  I’m very jealous of him – bought a boat and is cruising on it indefinitely with his girlfriend, they are now in the Carribbean off Belize – follow them on their blog at 

Speaking of boats, mine was broken for two long weeks – the motor went out while we were sailing, so we had to sail her into the can with pretty much no wind – super fun and challenging.  Then I tried a zillion differnet things to fix her, all to no avail and making it worse over about ten days.  Called a boat mechanic named Doug Pietz recommended by my boat neighbor.  He met me out on the boat and proceeded to tear into the motor fearlessly – fixing three problems, each of which could have been a major issue on its own, all in the span of under two hours.  A true professional and it was really amazing to watch him work.  I was very impressed with his skill and his pricing and efficiency and fun attitude.  If you need boat engine work done certainly call him at 847 533 9030, he is spectacular.

This past weekend I went to another lake house, also in Michigan and on the shore of Lake Michigan and its spectacular giant sand beaches – they are truly stunning if you have a chance to check out the west coast of the lower peninsula definitely do, they seriously rival many of the great beaches around the world in my opinion in the summer, and also very cool to experience in the wintertime.  Stretches a couple hundred miles up the coast.  Here’s a view from the kitchen:

 View of Lake Michigan from the west coast of Michigan

Took different crew sailing each day of the air and water show including Friday – very fun and gorgeous days.  Check the picture of the enormous American flag on a sailboat we saw. 

At the Air and Water Show in Chicago 2009

At the Air and Water Show in Chicago 2009

Went to Devil’s Lake one Sunday a couple weeks back to rock climb with some climbing friends, great time had by all.  Gorgeous, perfect day and terrific group of climbers. Devil's Lake near Upper Diagonal

This weekend we head to Lake Superior to kayak the Apostle Islands for five days, should be a great trip, sevn of us are going, really looking forward to it.

Went to a Purdue football game last Saturday, very fun to see all my old buddies and wander by my old apartment.   In college I managed to jump a car over the embankment shown below, they seem to have put up posts to stop this in the future.

Scene of trouble back in the day

Scene of trouble back in the day

Rippin it up in So Ill on the Sandstone

June 24, 2009
Alan rapping off Cranial Implosion (12a) at Jackson Falls, So Ill

Alan rapping off Cranial Implosion (12a) at Jackson Falls, So Ill

Went to Southern Illinois over the weekend to rock climb at Jackson Falls with my friend from the gym, Alan. We had a great time and got on some good routes including some 5.8s to warm up on the east side of the canyon and Cranial Implosion, a 5.12a I’d really like to get at some point. I worked out the crux sequence which I haven’t been able to do before, so that was encouraging. Also got on Lovely Arete again, but it was soaking wet so much more difficult and scarier to do as it was slippery, so no dice. It’s an 11a. Read the rest of this entry »

22 Climbers to Jackson falls, So Ill

June 8, 2009

And no injuries!  And all had a great time!  Very fun weekend with True Adventures.  We had seven cars, three of which went early.  Of those three, only one was able to decipher the last bit of directions .2 miles is quite different from 2 miles.  No worries, we caravanned at the end and managed to pick them all up – cell phones are fabulous.  We also all managed to stay in the same campsite.  I love Jackson Falls as there are no rules, and even better no cost, camping is free, and the area is beautiful.  We arrived late Friday night and everybody managed to get their tents up and sleep.  Read the rest of this entry »

Climbing Panic Story and Barn Bluff, Red Wing Again

May 21, 2009

We were going to go climbing in Southern Illinois from Chicago but again it was predicted to rain and the weather looked perfect in Minnesota, so off we went to Barn Bluff.  Six of us this time, mostly friends and friends of friends from the gym, all climbers and into it, but mostly indoors climbers looking to get outside.  They were all really pumped, some of them their first time climbing outdoors, ever.  Two of them had never lead before, which in rock climbing is a major deal, really taking you to the next level mentally, physically, and I’d say emotionally.  It can be really scary when you are ten feet above your last bolt and your arms are burning and the fall isn’t clean and you’re having a hard time hanging on to the rock, desperately trying to clip in to the next protection that’s just out of your reach so you put the draw back on your harness quickly, fumbling a little in your haste.  You start to breathe faster, your leg begins to go into minor spasms as the fear grips it.  Feeling around blindly on the rock over your head, running your hand back and forth across the rock feeling for a good hold.  Finally you feel a tiny crimper that MUST hold, you crank down on it with your right fingers, and ahhhh – it’s a little better than it felt.  The bolt is off to your right though so you grab a draw with your left hand and awkwardly reach over your head as you feel your right arm burning from the exertion, you swear you can only hold on another second…. barely get the draw clipped to the bolt, and brief relief.  You then reach down and grab the rope, panic rising in your chest and taking over your brain, pull the rope up, your belayer pays you out a bunch of slack and your hand is right by the carabiener, about to get it to go in YOUR RIGHT HAND SLIPS AND YOU FALL!  “FALLING!!!!” you yell and then the rock quickly becomes a blur in front of you and your mind goes blank, and you’re falling, then you feel the rope rapidly come tight, twenty feet later you swing into the wall hard but not painfully, heart pounding in your chest.  Breathing hard and deep for the first time in three minutes.   Look down at your belayer thirty feet below, say “Whoa!” with a grin slowly lighting up your face and then you begin to laugh, relief and joy washing over you as you feel the adrenaline begin to drain out of you.  After a moment you grab the rope and say – “I’m batmanning back up!” and horse yourself back up the rope to the last clip you had bolted to give it another go.

Good stuff! 

Below are some pics – three great guys and three great girls, was a really fun trip with a great vibe amongst us and a high level of excitement as we were all pumped to be on real rock, outside the plastic of the gym.

Intense Focus at Barn Bluff

Intense Focus at Barn Bluff

Drove up 380 miles from Chicago Friday night, stayed at the Best Western in town, then in the morning had the free continental breakfast there and headed to the crag, only five minutes from the hotel.  There we proceeded to get shut down by a 5.8 which was crazy as we were easily able to do 5.10s and gave an 11 a solid shot.  I swear the 8’s and 9’s were sometimes harder, maybe it was just me.  Got on probably 7 or 8 great climbs, got the girls leading for the first time, and generally had a blast as the weather was perfect for climbing, cool yet warm.  Then headed back that night, home at around 2 am after a nice dinner at a ratty bar – nice in terms of time together, not nice in terms of fancy food.

One minor yet major plus about Barn Bluff is there are carabieners or clips at the top of every climb – so at the top, you simply clip the rope in and zip down, it’s so convenient and saves so much time from clipping in at the top, going in direct with two draws, untying the rope, feeding it through, retying, and then belaying or even rapelling down.

Meredith heading up the rock on her first lead

Meredith heading up the rock on her first lead. Barn Bluff, Red Wing, MN


Alan and I climbing near "Into the Sun" at Barn Bluff

Alan and I climbing near "Into the Sun" at Barn Bluff