Friday, July 26, 2013


Two months ago I sat in a room of 25 disinterested young adults in a stuffy classroom. The dazed expressions on their faces meant one thing;Summer class had begun. And today- the first day- this was the part where students took turns describing themselves briefly to the class, as if this exercise would ease the weirdness of sitting in a room of strangers who would rather be in bed at nine in the morning.

Normally during these little activities I find it far too easy to simply call upon climbing as a facet of my identity. I often spend my free time scaling boulders. I find pleasure in bringing myself from the ground to the top by my own means. I think that's unique enough to distinguish me.

This time however I felt a little insincere describing myself as a rock climber. Yes, I still had the shoes, the crash pad, the gym membership, and the chalk bag. But do those things alone define me as a climber? Sure, I had all the accouterments, but I was lacking that one ever-so-important ingredient that makes a kid with equipment into a full fledged climber: psyche.

I hadn't been climbing in a month at that time in my life, and I wouldn't climb for another after that, save a few light bouldering sessions up at Flagstaff and a night or two in the gym. I was a certified bum. Something had to change.

A week ago I received a text from my freshman-year climbing partner, Alex Enright. Alex was back in town, and immediately I realized that this was the opportunity I needed to get back out there. If anyone could rekindle my interest in climbing, it was Alex.

The majestic Hallett Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park
Alex Enright is one incredibly stoked individual, but that psyche is coupled with a stubborn pessimism. I consider myself a fairly positive person, but I'm always intrigued by people like Alex. Our time at the crag is usually spent arguing over the worth of an area, problem, type of rock, or something else completely off topic (usually hip-hop related).

I defend my stance of generous value-giving, and he holds strong to his criticisms. Sometimes we'll settle on some middle ground, a place probably closer to the truth than either of our viewpoints. And I like that.

We went to Chaos Canyon in Rocky Mountain National Park. On the hike up, I could feel my body exhaling my recent apprehensions about climbing with every breath of thin, high-altitude air. The vistas along the trail and the commentary from day-hikers about our crash pads reminded me where I was, what I was doing, and I felt home.

Lake Haiyaha from Upper Chaos
Sometimes a sudden and unexpected change in life can set us vibrating at strange frequencies. Something about a shift from the familiar can feel discouraging, and such discouragement may muddle up our thoughts and decisions. The past few months, I have felt completely out of my element, with no clue as to why. Sitting atop Autobot - V5 staring at the crystal clear and sky blue waters of Lake Haiyaha, it all became so painfully obvious. I had missed this so much. The beauty, the struggle, the freedom. All of it.

While I had been off indulging in whatever distractions the town of Boulder tossed my way, I had forgotten that old friend of mine; the wilderness. Many things in my life lately have been fleeting and impermanent, but the wilderness... the wilderness was always there. Unchanging, constantly waiting to greet me once more into its stands of tall pines and fields of jumbled rock.

It grounded me in a way I have never known.

I may have lost some strength, but my technique is still there, and I have gained something far more important from my absence anyway. Finally, I have my psyche back. It took forgetting- and the joys of rediscovery- but I'm finally back.

- JP

Lake Haiyaha

Stoked to send The Kind - V5 at Emerald Lake

Storms rolling into Hallett Canyon, check out the water droplet on the lens!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Boulder Canyon

Chillin by the Creek
Took a trip out to Boulder Canyon to play around a bit on the Cage Free boulder with Alex Enright after class yesterday. Other than the infamous two-move wonder, this bloc hosts a number of great climbs of all difficulty levels. I was able to shoot some footage with my recently returned D7000 and after getting a bit carried away with the editing process, a night I had planned on spending simply looking through clips turned into uploading  the finished product after four hours of continuous work.

I am so happy to not only have areas like the gorgeous Boulder Canyon with high quality stone within an hours drive from campus, but to be able to document all my adventures in high definition. Editing and processing this short proved incredibly easy and quick, which convinces me that I'll be putting out a LOT of content like this in the upcoming months so GET PSYCHED for more footy yo!!!

Watch it on the Vimeo page for HD

Hiking Around the Backcountry at Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods

Graffiti Under an Overpass

Check out the holds drilled into the concrete!

Pikes Peak

Interesting Rock at Garden of the Gods


Graffiti Falls

Life is great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Decided to post a few shots I took earlier this semester before my camera was stolen. That's right, stolen. But fear not! The kid who stole it decided to pawn it two days after, and didn't consider I might give the cops the serial number, and that they might find the camera and all the kid's information at the pawn shop. Yes, it's true, the police found my baby. Unfortunately, I have yet to have it returned to me, as it is still "evidence".

Food at a  Farmers Market


Some plates.


View from the flatirons.
The Royal Arch
This Guy

Much Needed Update

Hello, again. I know it's been quite a while. I also know that in the course of the past year or so, I've started far too many posts with this same apologetic spiel.  I promise this time is different, however. This time I'm writing you not from the soggy Northeast, but the sunny and mild Southwest!

Boulder, Colorado is now the place I call home, and part of me feels that in a lot of ways, it's always been home. I have never before felt as if I am exactly where I'm supposed to be, or perhaps it simply takes a complete uprooting and a massive change in lifestyle to remind us that every situation is indeed what we make of it. Perhaps I had so made up my mind about the Northeast, about leaving, that I had made myself blind to the things I really loved. Now thousands of miles away my perspective has shifted. I miss my friends, I miss my town, I miss my car, I miss the rock gym. But it is all what you make of it, right? Well, what I'm making of Boulder is: college is outlandish, the people of Colorado are so friendly I could puke, and the rock here is incredible.

I've managed to get out a few times with my friend Alex Enright (also a freshman, also from out east), and picked up a membership at The Spot. We've made it to Rocky Mountain National Park to try a few rigs in lower chaos, we've toyed around in Flagstaff, and hiked much further than we ever intended to in Eldorado Canyon. Of these various expeditions, I've collected a number of new projects that I am so excited to spend the year attempting. 

These two are currently in my sights:
Deep Puddle Dynamics - V9 is freaking rad. Little crimps, glassy slopers and a BURLY finish.
Resonated - V9 is beautiful! Situated right next to a stream. Climbs out a thuggish arete.

There is so much rock here! It excites me to think I might never see it all. I guess that's all the more reason to get out and continue living my life. 

Hopefully you guys haven't forgotten about me! I haven't forgotten about you! This blog is still my homepage, a constant reminder of my commitment to write my life as it unfolds, filling the spaces between what I know now and what I'll know then. 

Thanks for sticking around, I'll post a few more things today, mostly pictures with back-story pertaining more to my life out here than climbing.


Monday, June 25, 2012


The expiration date on that carton of Northeast Milk is quickly approaching, and I find myself struggling to understand my motivation to do much of anything. In High School, I believe such a sentiment has been labeled Senioritis, but high school is also contrived and constricting, things that climbing (at least, to rock climbers) is not. But the feeling that comes over me when beginning an essay for my second semester AP English class is all too similar to the feeling I get when trying to make plans to climb. I want to finish the essay, and obviously I want to go climb, but I'm not at all invested in the work I'll do to accomplish the assignment, and similarly, I feel detached from the things that used to motivate me to get up and out on the rock.

In the past, a lingering project or the excitement and freshness of a new area, or the thought of putting my paws on something I hadn't tried before was more than enough to saturate my brain with the type of tenacity necessary to make hiking with structurally inefficient packs and spending a day with smelly climbers and far too many black flies simply to fall, a lot, off of a lot of problems seem like a perfectly reasonable idea.

But six years of climbing here have exhausted a lot of my immediate options. I've completed most of my old projects, and the remaining all feel too difficult to finish before I leave this August. The boulderfields, once ripe with possibilities and new, unexplored blocks and problems hidden behind the next crop of pines are now more familiar than the streets of my hometown.

Interestingly enough, it's only when I exhaust the initial attractions of climbing that I begin to see and appreciate the facets of the sport that I hadn't considered to be as important. I've come a very long way from the my gym-rat days of Electric City Rock Gym, where a bouldering session generally meant four hours of flailing on V2's or chatting it up with the local homeless before they set off to chew on barbie doll heads and/or fling their fecal matter at the nearest roadkill. Now, a gym session consists of flailing on V4s and the homeless problem has been contained.

Seriously though, while grade-chasing has never been a motivation of mine, mapping my strength and measuring my ability is slowly becoming the main reason I get psyched on going to areas like Nine Corners and Great Barrington. Repeating old projects helps me to appreciate where I've been and where I'm at, while simultaneously providing the best kind of training for what's to come.

Lately, I've also made a couple trips up to McKenzie, one of which included a large group of new climbers, a few of which had never been outside. Seeing them really realize what climbing is all about, and watching them humbled by the apparent infinite mystery of a new boulderfield is incredible. I realize, seeing them try at Great Roof of China and Brock Lee Soars and even the mossy, dirty, unnamed slabs, that I have progressed in parts of my being vastly more significant than strength, my place as a climber in the northeast is much different than theirs, and if nothing else, that is enough to get me on the road at eight in the morning on a Saturday with a coffee in the cup holder and a crash pad in the trunk.


I have a new camera, D7000, expect more picture posts.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


While some stay put, rooted to the place they sprouted eager and green into the world, never straying from the same and deriving pleasure in making it feel different, others seek out a more turbulent path. To these anxious and capricious wandering souls, the world appears vast and ripe, and to live without experiencing the different contexts and settings one may exist within would be simply unacceptable. Such desires may spawn from a connection with nature, and so it follows that many climbers take the latter path. Zigging and zagging and exploring endlessly, tasting the culture, the scenery, and of course the rock at each stop on their chaotic journey.

This August I will be leaving my home in New York for a dorm in Boulder, Colorado. Things are going to move and change very quickly in the upcoming months, and with any massive change one begins to consider the things they'll leave behind. As a climber, my mind drifted to a number of projects scattered about the Northeast. I started my life as a climbing here six years ago. From those early days in Electric City Rock Gym, I've come quite a ways. I can say I am more than familiar with all of the major and lesser known crags of the area. Contributing when I could, my friends and I even managed to develop a few of our own, an effort that continues daily (check out the new cliff at Pinnacle courtesy of The Verticalife). I guess my point is that although I am ecstatic to begin another chapter in my life, I'm going to miss it here. I'm going to miss all the shitty weather, all the black flies, all the chosspiles. I'm going to miss fall conditions too, and the amazing people I've met.

But now I suppose I've gotten off track a bit from my intentions for this post. This past weekend, Tyler and I arranged to go to McKenzie Pond. Followers of this blog know that McKenzie has always been one of my  favorite Adirondack haunts, and my friends know that I've had a mild obsession with one particular problem there...

The past few years, battling awful Summer temps and a severe mental block, I have been working Flux Capacitor - V8. Excellent weather and a longing to climb on the giant glacial erratics drew me back to the pond, and upon waking quickly and pleasantly at 7:00am, I knew the day would hold great things (I rarely wake pleasantly, especially at seven in the morning).

On the drive up, I spoke with Tyler about the future a bit. Tyler is due for quite a bit of change himself as he is getting married soon, and moving to Massachusetts. Due to the timing of things, Tyler will return to Mass. from his travels just in time for me to depart for Boulder, and that sucks. I suddenly understood that this trip may be one of the last times him and I get to climb together. Silently, we let this notion settle in, not letting it ruin our psyche and instead turning into even more reason to make the day awesome.

And it was. An hour into the day, I found myself sitting on top of Flux Capacitor. I was hot, spent, bleeding from three fingers and experiencing something I hadn't felt yet in climbing. I spent more time projecting Flux than any other boulder problem in my career as a climber, and to finally have the days of hard work behind me... well, it felt good, to say the least. I took it all in for a few minutes on top of that boulder, I thought hard about where my life was going, and what would be happening in the next few months. The notion of being completely displaced is intimidating and jarring, but exciting as well, and I can happily say that I have no idea where I'll go or what will happen.

Here are some pictures from the past few weeks.
Thanks, as always, for reading.

French Canadian friend entering the top, V4 section of Flux Capacitor - V8

JP on the crux move.

Sticking the crimp.

Squeezing on Slobodon - V5

Not the best terrain for a new pair of dragons...

Checking out the battle scars from Flux
 Paid a short visit to Rumney with Jaysen, Ryan and Casey, a new friend from the gym. It was certainly a humbling experience, but I walked away with a better head and understanding of roped climbing, and the confidence to continue trying to build my endurance.

Shaking out on the crux holds of Waimea - 5.10d

Ryan styling the massive layback flake on The Man with a Hueco in his Tights - 5.11b

Jaysen, chillin' hard between burns.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Against All Odds

Sometimes I wonder if nature has it in for us climbers. The conflict between climbers and the forces of nature is an ancient struggle that one cannot avoid becoming uncomfortably familiar with if they invest just a modicum of time into the sport. I mean, we all know the routine: the frantic rifling through mixed and inconsistent weather reports calling for rain, snow, sleet and everything in between until we come across that one website calling for clear skies and a high of forty-five. For most of us, this is enough to warrant a day out at the crag, but even if you never find that golden weather report, it doesn't matter. Come Saturday morning, you'll be three exits deep on your local highway, fueled by the naive hope that some magical combination of wind direction, exposure and foliage kept your project safe from the slow creep of the wet. Such is the blight of the weekend warrior.

Still, sometimes it's worth it.

Hands on Rabid Wolverine - V9
For three weeks prior, Tyler and I had tried to make plans. But Tyler is a busy guy, and flaky in the most curious way. He's the type of person who will cancel to go fly-fishing in Colorado, or mountain biking in Switzerland. However, I suppress my jealousy of his lifestyle on those rare occasions when he is actually home on a weekend because, quite frankly, climbing with Tyler is awesome. He is consistently psyched on not only climbing, but just about everything, and one of the most genuine people I've come across in my travels. Perhaps the most interesting part of climbing with Tyler is the extreme differences in our technique and style. We both approach the same problem very differently, and because we are often working the same problem, this results in a greater understanding of what is possible. Working a project with Tyler, a sort of mutualism develops between us, increasing both of our chances of success.

Still, success was not on our minds the Friday before we planned to embark to Lost City, as Tyler and I exchanged texts of reluctance regarding climbing conditions. We we're still psyched, but hesitant, and thrown out of sorts by the steady snow falling just outside our windows.

Lost City is a place I have grown strangely fond of. Perhaps it is the seclusion offered in its massive talus field. Situated behind the main ridge and guarded by a one mile hike through old woods, one develops a feeling absent all too often at a Gunks crag. You can stand atop a block facing New Paltz, and be greeted by an expanse of green pine and mountainous terrain, rather than the standard radio-towers and farmland that make-up the vistas at at the Carriage Road.


The morning brought sunny skies and wind which blew in a resurgence of excitement. I had a few lingering projects at Lost City as well, and if the conditions were just right (and my gut told me they were), today had the potential to be epic.

Halfway down I-87, however, the skies turned grey. Dark grey. A light fog developed as we hurtled through  a light flurry of snow. Soon that flurry grew to a white out, snow falling ferociously all around us. Besides the rumble of six cylinders pounding southward, silence fell over the road. The penetrating quiet occupied not only our hearing, but our sight, as every direction offered the same dull shade of whitish grey. I would compare the sensation to sitting in a cloud.

"What is going on?" Tyler questioned incredulously, then followed with "Are we going climbing right now" We could just as easily have been within the bowels of a wormhole, heading towards some mysterious, wintry dimension.

Suddenly, the skies opened once more and sunlight broke through the dissipating fog. Nothing had changed in the wormhole, the road was still a grey expanse of colored lines, the road signs told us we were still on track, yet some uneasy feeling within our souls told us that, for better or worse, something was definitely different now.


The gate was locked, an obstacle Tyler and I hadn't anticipated. Two inches of steel piping separated our car and the road from a parking spot and a way in, but we had come so far, and we weren't about to turn around. We ended up parking at the Upper Trapps parking lot, and hiking a trail to Split Rock, adding 5 minutes onto our hike. Fifteen more minutes and we were breathing heavy under Rabid Wolverine - V9. Disappointment flooded our bodies upon realizing that, after all we had done to get here, to do this, the worst hold on the problem (a half-pad, sloping gaston crimp) was slowly seeping water.

Inspecting the Wet Crimp
After warming up, we quickly got to work on the project, working out our own specific beta. The location of the climb is strange: perched upon a suspended stone platform ten feet in the air, the edge and a brutal fall into rolling talus dangerously close to the landing. Nobody ever falls off, luckily, and yet it still adds some dangerous quality to the line. The climb is also incredibly unique in its style, and centers around a crucial double toe-hook on an arete, which requires you to arrange yourself horizontally on the rock, then control your weight to move vertically. Of course, the key to that control lies in maintaining grip on the gaston-crimp, which continued to seep despite our efforts in aquatic engineering.

Setting up for the Reach.
Despite the less-than-ideal conditions, we were making consistent progress, and each new high-point that Tyler and I reached proved to vital to maintaining our frustrations. Then suddenly it happened, somehow things fell into place and with static fluidity Tyler linked through the moves, arriving at the top surprised, winded, and ecstatic. I followed in his footsteps with my own surprise ascent, nearly falling after the crux and then again on the fun moderate moves before the top-out, making the climb a bit more desperate than I would have liked.

Still it was my first V9, and Tyler's first time approaching and climbing a V9 in one session, which is good.
Just as the unlocking of a new move or the linking of a certain section can help motivate us to continue climbing a route or problem, unlocking a new grade or climbing at a higher level can motivate us to continue training.

Climbing can be very frustrating. When pushing ourselves on something at our limit, we dispense an considerable amount of emotion into the rock. The issue is that rock can only absorb that investment, never reciprocating, never lightening up, never changing except with the weather. Some days, however, as impossible as it sounds, the rock does. Some days it feels like a fleeting moment of perfection when everything falls into place was created just for you, for that time when you were trying your hardest, with snow squalls and locked gates and wet crimps behind you; the rock sees your commitment and for that ephemeral moment, it lets you win.

I never intended to simply record the frothy ego-spray of self-righteous climbers, I meant to document experiences like this, when through climbing you not only improve your abilities on the rock, but your understanding of life as well.


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