It always feels good to achieve a goal, especially one that you know will be a great challenge. After popping a tendon in my left ring finger while climbing at Wild Iris in Wyoming I needed a little motivation to get back on the horse.

Moments before the tendon injury that would drastically change the path of our trip. Tomahawk Slam (5.12a) – Wild Iris, WY

An injury smack in the middle of our trip was deflating after working so hard to regain our strength following two shortened climbing seasons in Alaska. A new goal to focus my efforts for the remainder of the season was exactly the motivation I needed. Attempting to climb twenty 5.12 routes before the end of the year was an idea I adopted from our friend Dana. It seemed to me like great motivation to try harder climbs as well as build up a solid 5.12 base. Previously 2010 was my most prolific 5.12 climbing season during which I climbed ten 5.12 routes before moving to Alaska in June. I knew doubling my 2010 count wouldn’t be easy but it proposed an exciting challenge.

Flashing Zoaster Toaster (5.11d) at Maple Canyon, UT. The Minimum Crag at Maple is line after line of steep, pumpy cobble. Nearly all of these lines are 4 and 5 star classics.

Walking back to the bus after our last day at Maple Canyon, UT. Later that evening Robyn would walk up the road to get cell service and return with the news that she had an interview the next day. This was the first step in our move to Hailey, ID.

Just under a month after my tendon injury Robyn and I were back at Maple Canyon to regain our endurance. During our stay I was able to redpoint the mega classic 49 as well as an overlooked but really cool line called The Neversweat. Although my finger wasn’t 100% these sends were a real boost! The remainder of our climbing season has been spent at the local crags here near Hailey where we spent considerable time at The Fins (2.5 hours away), Dierkes Lake (1.5 hours away) and The City of Rocks (3.5 hours away). It’s hard to imagine three crags that differ from each other in climbing styles, and rock type more than these three.

The climbing at The City can be as intimidating as it is beautiful. This is a special place, steeped in climbing lore and mystique while retaining an old school style.

The dramatic landscape and incredible formations of The Fins make this a worthwhile destination – climbing or not.

Ben working the small pockets of the stellar Ghost in a Shell (5.12b) at The Fins, ID.

Pat, Robyn and I headed down to Dierkes Lake Saturday in high spirits looking to spend another day at our local choss pile. I say this with every ounce of respect for the place, as the climbing is actually super fun and challenging. Better yet it offers a protected south-facing cliff that gets a lot of sun which means we get to climb off-and-on all winter!

Blackthing (5.11c) starts up some good holds to a left hand pinch before a stab to a layback crack. After the crux, the angle increases steadily until you find yourself ballooning around on an overhanging jug haul.

Robyn high-up on the exposed bit of Sanitary Landfill (5.10b)

We started things off with a great link up off Ziplock called Black Thing (5.11c). Another tough climb that increases the pump (and hold size) the entire way. After I hung the draws, we left the rope up and moved to Sanitary Landfill (5.10b) where our buddy Pat got on the sharp end. Pat missed Robyn and I at the University of Idaho by only a year, but befriended several of our friends from Moscow. Come to find out he lives here in town, is a rad dude, and is stoked to climb! Unfortunately for all of us, however, Pat blew a pulley on his first lead while moving to a pocket with his left hand and readjusting his feet. What really struck me in the whole event though was how positive and upbeat he remained after he new he would be sidelined for up to 6 weeks or more. His attitude remained genuinely positive, and we finished the day in good spirits. It was certainly a good testament to his character and I really respected the way he handled it.

Pat testing out his new gear on Sanitary Landfill (5.10b)

After Robyn cleaned up Sanitary Landfill, we shifted to my project Soloflex (5.12c). Soloflex presents two stout cruxes separated by a good rest on a pigeon poo pedestal. The first crux involves a mandatory foot-cut on edges along with a tough body tension move to a pocket hidden over a bulge. My first go spit me off at the lip of the roof and left me wondering if I would have the strength for a second go.

Prepping for the first roof of Soloflex (5.12c)

Moving into the lower crux on Soloflex (5.12c)

This is where I was having trouble pulling the lip of the first roof. Directly over my head at the top of the photo is the overhanging finger crack crux guarding the chains.

The second go went much smoother and I sailed through to check in at the avian-shat hotel. Checking out and entering the redpoint crux was a bit nerve racking. A steep 15ft section of finger crack guarded me from victory, and I was only sticking the exiting crux moves about half the time. The bottom of the crack has a undercling good for a painful knee-bar before launching into a lefthand finger-lock. Toe hooking the initial undercling, I was feeling remarkably good and stacked my right hand over my left reaching for the safety of the final horizontal. Traversing out the horizontal, dangerously runout diagonally from my last bolt I had one last nervous mantel before the chains. Rather than prolonging the exposure, I went for it, mantled, and SENT! Soloflex was certainly a capstone climb for me so far this season. The beta was involved and the climbing was challenging physically and trying mentally.

 Twenty 5.12’s Tick List!

2012-11-17  Red Point 5.12c Soloflex
2012-11-04  Red Point 5.12a Gemini
2012-10-21  Onsight 5.12d Gurlymon a.k.a. Burlygirl
2012-10-20  Onsight 5.12a Magma
2012-10-14  Red Point 5.12b Wings for Mary
2012-10-13  Red Point 5.12b Ghost in a Shell
2012-10-10  Red Point 5.12a Red Arete
2012-10-06  Red Point 5.12a Smoke Signals
2012-09-02  Red Point 5.12a Degals Direct
2012-09-01  Red Point 5.12a Avatar
2012-09-01  Flash 5.12a Martini
2012-08-25  Red Point 5.12c Dinner Roll
2012-08-24  Flash 5.12a Shaken Not Stirred
2012-08-16  Red Point 5.12b The Neversweat
2012-08-14  Red Point 5.12a 49
2012-07-17  Red Point 5.12a Tomahawk Slam
2012-07-14  Red Point 5.12b Stop That Terrain
2012-06-14  Red Point 5.12b Dirty Dancing
2012-05-22  Red Point 5.12b Liquid Jade
2012-05-01  Red Point 5.12a Smokey and the bandits

Always wanted to try this one. After being treated to some Lefty’s and dropping Pat off back in Ketchum we headed home to crack open some celebration beers!

The prize. Double-wide IPA from Boulevard Brewing Company.

And now we feast! Wednesday will have us sipping Barely Brown’s growlers in Pendleton, Thursday will be spent with family in Portland, and Friday will be spent at a Blazer game witnessing Brandon Roy’s first game back at the Rose Garden! Lots of love and well wishes from us here in Hailey!

Drive safe, share time with family and friends, eat great food and don’t drink anything you can see through. Cheers!