Friday, May 13, 2016

Sweden Baby and more

Wow, is it already almost June of 2016?! I must be having fun because it is flying by; it always does. Since my last post I disappeared from the blog for a bit. There’s always too much to write whenever I let things go this long. A quick recap is that I went to Las Vegas for a month to boulder. I had only been there for a very short period before that. I was blown away by how good the sandstone was. In the canyons it might have been the best I’ve ever seen. Definitely at least as good as Rocklands or the Southeast’s best boulders. My only complaint would be the crowds. Kraft seems pretty popular and some of the boulders off the main trails in the park can get a bit hectic on the weekends. Putting that aside, I had a great time. Climbed many classics. My highlight was doing a very good boulder called We Need Ice in the Ice Box canyon. This one had amazing movement with sustained difficulty, perfect rock, and seemed to always be cold and in the shade. It was everything I look for. It did not come too easy for me either, taking me 4 sessions to complete. This one was worth the effort though. It was nice to meet a new project, shake hands, and then beat the crap out of each other so to speak. Besides the bouldering, Vegas can be a pretty fun place to hang out. I definitely went to some great restaurants, Bachi Burger was my favorite, and did some things on the strip too. Being the lazy hermit that I am though, I stuck mostly to the desert life. I had missed those days. Waking up early, being dirty, harassed by police, struggling to find ways to use the bathroom; these things are just the funnest kind of annoying. Here is a video of the send of We Need Ice. A hat tip to Ian Cotter_Brown of Rockwarrior Films for the sweet footage. 

Now after all that, I came back home to a snowy Tahoe. This was cool since I hadn’t seen town like this in a while. I was starting to wonder if it ever snowed here anymore. It still does sometimes which is nice. Upon returning, life kicked back in and I got a few jobs. I had to get to work immediately to recoup finances and all that pleasant stuff that is included in “life”. This month didn’t leave too much room for climbing or training. I don’t work too much but when I do, I frickin’ work! Sometimes things get hectic but that’s how it goes. Somewhere in the middle of all this I started to contemplate meeting some of my Swedish friends in Font, even though I probably “should have” been being a responsible adult and getting my shit together. ;i…..hmmm screw that right! As it turns out, the tickets to Paris on short notice were too rich for me. Oh well, all this was wishful thinking anyways. It usually feels like I'm just seeing if I can go ( but inside my lazy mind I tell myself nahhh, you’re not REALLY gonna go). The psychology of how my brain works is very funny to me. Randomly, my friend suggested I go to check out the boulders in his town in Sweden. Not very globally known at all, off the tourist track, and international radar. I was very interested in doing something different. I checked plane tickets and they were affordable. With the help of my friend, I decided in just a half day that …well fuck it ! I’m going to Sweden. Only after purchasing the tickets, did I suddenly get some work that was timed perfectly for my departure. This work was going to take care of the finances for the trip. What can I say, sometimes things just work out. 

I arrived in Stockholm, jet lagged like a mofo. I missed the train, had to sleep on a wooden bench for 12 hours, got more jet lagged. I’ve noticed that long distance travel on a budget feels a lot like self-inflicted psychological torture. After two full days of planes and trains I showed up in Sundsvall, Sweden with minimal baggage and lots of support from my friends there. The first night it was raining, but from the next day on the area had basically two weeks straight of perfect spring weather; no rain, sun mixed with clouds, light winds, and that perfect temperature that holds the balance between cool and comfortable. I felt lucky to have all these things line up. We took full advantage of this and climbed maybe 9 days out of the 11 I was there. We visited a different area everyday. It was nice to receive the tour from one of the areas main developers Robert Osterholm. He made sure that he took me to the best things they had to offer, even though I can tell you that in that short of time I couldn’t scratch the surface on all the bouldering they had there. The quality was amazing all around. Every area had a different the feel from the previous one. The boulders were everywhere in Sweden. From the main road north of Stockholm all the way to 60 km ( oh yeah! I just went metric on ya) I saw boulders in the woods everywhere. Sweden definitely had quantity and I can tell you that it also had the quality. 

I did a lot of bouldering. So many great things to talk about. Two things stick out in my mind. One of Sundsvall’s hardest ticks is Saga 8A ( damn he just went in the Font scale!) Not reachy, not scary and perfect rock. I loved it. Problem was that the 2 sessions I had were either bad conditions or short of time so I was not able to complete it. But damn, I came agonizingly close. Too close to forget about if you know what I mean. If you don’t, what I mean is that it will HAUNT me! I hate letting a great thing slip through my fingers. AHHhHHH, wew…. all right! Ultimately, this is how the game works. Sometimes these things get away from me. I either will go back and take care of it or suck it up and try to learn somethings from it. Saga was a killer climb, but I’ll have to have that glory next time.  The other climb I have to mention was the last one I did before I had to say goodbye to this wonderful area. Robert Osterholm’s tour truly did save the best for last. Even though it was a bit out of the way for one problem, this was a small price to pay for this gem. Hogmassan is an amazing giant chunk off of a random road north of Sundsvall. The compression line is high quality, beautiful, and tall. I don’t usually like tall but I decided to sack up for this one. Upon really inspecting it,  I decided that though high it was gonna be quite safe. After a few hours of needing to find my own method through the big reaches, I made it pass the crux moves, got halfway up the big boulder to a jug and just breathed and shook my way through the easy finish. It was exhilarating. Definitely one of the best rock climbs I’ve done ever. This one gave me a rush I haven’t felt in a while. 

The conclusion is that this trip was all about living outside the box for a bit. I did that by going to this place, which although off the popular grid, was so rewarding. It is a big world out there and there are so many great boulders to climb on. It is important to keep an open mind when traveling and climbing. You can end up like I did going to some place that was never on your bucket list, and then be totally blown away. My impression of Sundvall is obviously expressed in these aforementioned words. In climber terms ( forgive me) it was fucking awesome! Dem Swedes got some great rocks to climb :) This trip left me motivated to be a better climber, train more, and travel more. I’m definitely into going to Europe especially more and more. So much to see and do there. Now since I am wearing my damn fingers out typing this much I’ll put some other fun facts below in list form for more quick recapping of my experience in Sweden. Below that I’ve included some pictures of Hogmassan. And videos of Sundvall bouldering, which includes Saga and some other good climbs and the FA of Hogmassan. My next adventure starts in 3 days when I hike into Desolation for a 7 day backpack/boulder adventure into the snowy Velma lakes. My roommate and I are going for a full on adventure this time. Still encased in heavy snow, this will be another case of my going outside the box. Hopefully it will be great epic and not miserable epic. We are planning to film and make a video but we will be limited on battery power for the camera so we shall see how it goes. Either way, my next post will be about this trip. Thanks for reading this peeps, I leave you with the remainder….

hardest send : Breakdance 7C+ 
best send:    Hogmassan 7C, this means something like "Sunday Church" in Swedish
Swedish women:  most beautiful I’ve ever seen, kinda unbelievable, go see for yourself
tacos:         yes, Swedes really do love tacos
candy:        Bilar, Swedens most sold car, somewhere between gummy bears and marshmallows
other good problems:         Partner in Climb 7A, Stone Hetch 7A, Primal Scream 7B, Express Delivery 7A+
best Swedish beer:          Oppigards ( any of em) just my opinion
most interesting food I had:       Moose tacos ( yes, they were great!)
worst food I had:                   Max burger, supposedly Sweden’s answer to Carl Jr., lets just say things went bad for me :(
funniest moment:                  realizing that Justin Biebier’s “Love Yourself” lyrics really sound better if you replace
                                             “love yourself” with “fuck yourself”., seriously, give it a try
best movie I saw on the trip:     Dead Pool, hold crap that is funny

my special thank you to:           Robert Osterholm, Peter Schibbye, Anna Thorsaeus, Victoria Hesselius, Alex Fallden

                                             Me sending Hogmassan, pics by Robert Osterholm