Road tripping: Royal Robbins and another Cirque ladies video

We are on the road and traveling in comfort and style in Dudley the Sprinter van. A little different than the story I heard from Royal Robbins when I talked with him last month:

The Al-Can highway was all gravel in those days. We kept blowing tires in Jim McCarthy’s VW bug. We just blew tires like crazy.

Four of them in one VW bug. That sounds a little bit more squashed than our scene.

Check out the video Madaleine and Emily made on the drive up. watch?v=7JZP_UXcJHA

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Goodbye USA! We love you.






It looks like the other posts from my smartphone haven’t been working! Dudley got new legs after much searching.
We’re currently on the border with Alberta Canada and hoping to cross with an illegal amount of wine. overall we are following the rules and certainly not speeding with all our trip weight.
I don’t think we’ll be moving too fast, but its spacious in here after adding upstairs storage to Dudley yesterday. A simple and brilliant solution presented by pat yesterday.  Goodbye loved ones and usa!

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About to leave and feeling thankful

Madaleine and Lorna came to Bozeman to pick me up two days ago. After 48 hours of packing, shopping, incredible food organizing by those two, and racking up in the dark, we are approaching an hour when we will leave.

We balanced the mahem by eating as many leafy greens as we could in the past couple days. Lorna even ate salad for breakfast yesterday.

We’ve received incredible support from friends, family and industry partners in the past couple weeks, and we want to throw out a huge thank you. Thanks, also, to the 1328 Cherry house residents for taking good care of us and for letting us spread out in the basement. Pat and Madaleine gave Dudley earrings, so now we can strap bags to the roof.

We are also thrilled that Scotty Savage and Tom Halicki are planning to help us with weather forecasts.

As we drive north, we plan to blog from Madaleine’s phone. Look out, Canada!

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Cabana setup video

Conrad Anker lent us his awesome three-person A5 Cabana portaledge. I videoed our setup session, cranked it up to 400% speed, and added commentary from Jenni Lowe-Anker and Maddy Pope.

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Mandarin oranges, sleep, and packing

Madaleine and I enjoyed a long day of climbing on Half Dome before she departed the valley.  We did some night climbing, and Madaleine pulled through to lead 5.12 slab in the dark.  Upon descending the cables and skirting down to the base late in the evening we chatted with some keen climbers heading up on the route early the next day.  They offered us food and even better the use of their sleeping bags when they started to climb.  So we got mandarin oranges and a few hours of welcome sleep before the death slab descent.  The bond of climbing in Yosemite exists and despite the scene and spray, people help each other out.

We are all meeting up in Bozeman at Emily’s home in two weeks.  So the packing will begin.  For my part I am packing my belongings up from Yosemite, re-packing and unpacking in Oregon, and finally packing with the gals in Montana.  I will be ready for some rock climbing after all that.

Here’s my big wall gear list I run through before heading on a wall:  *Food*Day food*Water*Sleeping bag*Pad*Bivy sac*Portaledge*Portaledge fly*Clothes*Rain gear*Puffy jacket synthetic*Toothbrush etc.*Day bag with sunscreen, sunglasses, etc.*Cell phone/radio*Headlamps (2)*Personal water bottle*Rack*Pin Rack*QDs*Cordalettes*Lockers*Swivel*Protrax*Plastic rope protector*Extra ladder*Hammer*Ladders*Harness*Pulley*Safety biner with knife, lower outs, ATC, etc.*Topo copies*GriGri*Gloves*Jugs*Ropes*Wag bags, TP, etc.

Four weeks in a remote area means we will be having a lot longer list with all our base camp equipment and food.

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Madaleine sent the Freerider

Last week Madaleine and our dear friend Kate Rutherford free climbed the Freerider (V 5.12+) on El Cap. Awesome stuff, girls!

For Madaleine’s full account and photos, please check out her blog:

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Ladies of Lurking Fear Film

Fun times on the wall bode well for the adventures to come on Mount Proboscis. Check out our film from El Cap and let us know what you think!

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Pitons and patience

I’m on the ground and experiencing a little bit of post-wall blues.  I am keen to be up on a long route, a big wall, a challenging climb.  I feel grounded by responsibility.  Patience is the challenge today.

I have pitons now, as you can see in the photos below.  These are for our trip up north, in case we need them.  We hope to clean aid, if any aiding is required to work a pitch, but a pitch rated A3 means I would like to have some just in case.

This morning I biked over to get some angles sawed.  Werner asked me what I wanted them for, and my reply of the West Buttress, did not invoke enthusiasm.  He joked asking why, and then told me I should look at the Pacific Ocean Wall, after checking that I had climbed the Shield.  The sell was not 100% because he told me that he was scared on a pitch of fixed heads, “timebombs”.  This invoked memories of me threading a cord from my waterbottle through a fixed Rurp last year and then standing on it, after moving off some “bomber” fixed tat.  I get scared, and this was a moment: the deception of telling myself it is fine, just like a bolt, worked in that I continued, but I was aware of reality for better or worse.

So the organizing and packing continues.  Summer has arrived in the Valley, and that means swimming in the river, hiking people down the trail on a litter, and doing some granite rock climbing.  Emily is back in Montana, but Mad is around climbing free and strong.  We are set to meet up in Montana in a few weeks.  So for now it’s time to enjoy and train in sunny California.

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Our Copp-Dash Inspire Award Application

As friends and climbers, Micah and Johnny inspired us. We wanted to share a shortened version of our grant application here, as it has already pushed us to learn new skills and make this trip happen.

Climbing objective:

We’d like to attempt a free climb of the entire Original Route (VI 5.9+ A3) on the Southeast face of Mount Proboscis. This 2000′ wall is in the Cirque of the Unclimbables, Logan Mountains, Canada.

Summarize the significance of your proposed climb by explaining the character of the route, its history, the style in which it will be climbed, the approach required, and your previous experience on the route or in the area:

Our goals for this adventure are to climb well and have a great time together; to test our climbing skills; and to expand our storytelling abilities, fusing them with our trip. We hope sharing our experience will inspire others to follow their own passions.

In 1963, Jim McCarthy, Layton Kor, Dick McCracken and Royal Robbins established the first route on the Southeast face of Mount Proboscis, following a 2000′ crack system up the center of the wall. The free variation, Via Costa Brava, jogs left, splitting from the Original Route two-thirds of the way up. McCarthy says Proboscis was one of the “first remote big walls ever climbed outside of Yosemite.” His team was also supported by an AAC grant.

With partial funding through the AAC Lyman-Spitzer grant, and after hearing McCarthy’s vivid memories of the 1963 ascent, our motivation and psyche for this trip has grown. While we are not proposing a new route, our attempt would be significant for several reasons:

  1. The Original Route is a striking line with historic significance that has not seen a complete free ascent.
  2. The area will be new for all three of us. We believe our trip goals are appropriate for us to continue building successful expedition experience.
  3. We are a dedicated team of three women who love getting high off the ground on big walls and free climbing in remote places.  We hope through sharing our spirit of adventure, we will represent and inspire strength and empowerment for women and climbers alike.

Our approach to Mt. Proboscis will begin in Bozeman, Montana, as we drive Madaleine’s van the 2500 miles to Finlayson Lake in the Yukon Territory of Canada. This decision may afford us further documentation opportunities and exposure to the countryside at a slower pace. To access the peak, which is across the border in the Northwest Territories, we’ll helicopter in to the base with Kluane Air pilot Warren LaFave.

A steep and clean wall, Proboscis is a good objective for our three person team and the often wet weather. We plan to climb “big wall” style: sleep on the wall, replace old bolts and fixed gear, and free climb each pitch as we ascend. “Going straight up [the Original Route] would probably add a 5.12 pitch or two,” said Josh Wharton, who climbed Via Costa Brava in 2001 with Jonny Copp. Mount Proboscis is “one of the most difficult summits in North America,” states area expert George Bell. The easiest free route is 5.12a.

While a team of three is slower than a party of two, we believe it will add a safety margin for us in a remote environment, and will give us a logistical advantage tackling a longer, more involved climb, requiring aiding, cleaning, hauling and freeing.

Describe your desired style of trip/climb documentation and what you would hope to be able to do with the content upon completion.

We are dedicated to merging climbing adventure with storytelling.  We’ve been inspired by people like Jonny and Micah who aspired to do this, and hope to contribute to this continuum. We’d like our documentation elements to include: a complementary fusion of video clips (interview and candid/rehearsed moments of our trip); still photography; audio (narration); journaling and sketching; interviews with first ascentionists including Jim McCarthy and Royal Robbins; and maps and older topos. Upon completion, we will use this content to create a film, give multimedia presentations, and share fresh media with internet-based climbing sites.

Knowing how to document our climbing in a way that doesn’t compromise our style is paramount to the success of this trip. With a strong journalism background, we’d like to focus on learning visual mediums and, prior to departure, we will ask for advice and training from experts in the videography and photography fields. Our team of three will make it more plausible to document our adventure with still and video images.

We believe multimedia storytelling is a great way to inspire others because it can be interactive and accessible to many. By using its non-linear format, which enables a viewer to select part of our story, we can present the story in compelling and visually stimulating way.

Furthermore, Emily plans to pitch a feature article about the adventure to magazines with national circulation.

One thing Micah and Jonny did so well was inspire others to follow their passions. We are excited to take this trip as an opportunity to develop our storytelling abilities.

For more information about the Copp-Dash inspire award, visit:

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Van Input

So my main man/van ‘Dudley’ is going to be transporting us, and our trip’s kit and kaboodle, as far as the roads will take us–Iconnu Lodge (from where we’ll take a helicopter to Mt. Proboscis).  Check out some pics of Dudley.  Also, I’m considering a way to transport diesel on the outside of the vehicle if anyone has any suggestions.  The solution could be done as a custom welding job from Pat (Emily’s boyfriend).  Ideally it would be on the back and be versatile enough for fuel jugs or bikes.

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