Lauren Lee - Pro Blog 10


I’ve had a case of the summertime blues. Hanging in Colorado Springs without the Pierre man, my greatest friends, or my most prized mountain bike, makes time stagnant. Not too much seems to have that magical feeling of awe. I feel just like I had as a child stranded in the middle of the summer with all my friends away on vacation, waiting for school to break up the monotony. The best of climbing in the Springs [Colorado Springs] are short days in the garden on the ever-exciting sandstone classics and eleven-mile’s short powerful climbing. Since both are basically afternoon only [climbing], I’ve managed to catch up on rest and some quiet time.

I got a good humbling at eleven-mile. Finding most of the climbs to be rather easy to one gigantic move. I watched my friends run laps on these climbs, but I couldn’t for the life of me do that one move. I lost interest. I quickly moved from one climb to the next. Until I sampled Only Entertainment a climb that was originally rated twelve plus but has since been upgraded to thirteen minus. I wish I could say that I made quick work of it, but I had not. It was a sequence of powerfully thin-moves that made up a sustained crux. Not to mention the slab start was minimally protected, with just enough features to balance your way precariously high above your first bolt with nothing but ledges to uncomfortably break your fall.


With some time and effort I put this climb behind me, and since it wasn’t an onsight… I even managed to get video footage with my friend Nelson Cariyannis. Nelson has his own style of filming and it generally revolves around a lot of effort. The end result justifies this, but I won’t be surprised one day when he complains of chronic hernias. Nelson and Keith being more inspired to skate than climb headed to the park and I of course went along to dabble in something new.

Summer storms allowed us to get out for a short period. We pushed around until we lost interest, which was probably within the timeframe of an hour or so. We grabbed dinner and talked about final cut pro, since Keith had to create an entry for the photo competition at the Squamish mountain festival. He would be going up against some of the most talented photographers of climbing. He wanted to make a strong showing, even though he was more excited to be a spectator.

Not having had much experience with final cut pro Keith asked Nelson to help him. We ended up spending a day in Denver running over ideas, and then Keith went back for a more concentrated day of work. It wasn’t coming together easily, since neither Keith nor Nelson had ever had the task of creating a slideshow in this format. Time was depleting and stress was at an all time high. Keith and Nelson feeling the time crunch went without sleep for the last thirty hours before having to depart for Vancouver, since Keith and I were traveling together I was caught up in the crunch to finish the project and found myself many hours short of my mandatory eight hour standard of rest.


I had an early a.m. flight and Keith’s flight was a couple hours later. There hadn’t been time to preview the burnt slideshow; Keith was distraught but hopeful everything was in order. I boarded my plane and slept for the duration of the short flight. After a couple hours of waiting in the airport Keith arrived. We grabbed our rental car and started navigating through Vancouver enroute to Squamish. This was my first time to the Northwest coast of Canada; I had always heard stories of how magnificent Vancouver was from my Canadian neighbors Brian and Randah. I would have loved to pay homage to the stomping grounds of my good friends, but due to extreme fatigue we didn’t stop to enjoy the sights, culture, or people of the city.

We navigated our way straight to our hotel in Squamish, so that Keith could review his slideshow and put his mind at ease. The burnt dvd was a bust with fatal glitches. The following day would be dominated by re-building the show all over again, but for the time being rest was the most pressing matter. Boone, River, and Nick were around for the shoot out as well, so I contacted them to go climbing. After breakfast I cruised over to Boone’s room and he immediately questioned me where Keith was. I explained Keith’s predicament and Boone having found him-self in similar dilemmas was sympathetic. Boone, Nick, River, and I went to the boulders for a quick session, so that Boone could get back to help Keith with the final cut pro technical challenge of his slideshow.


Those two were successful in finishing the show with enough time to spare for a quick shower and a rushed dinner. In our twilight like state we had seen a sushi restaurant on the drive in, but couldn’t remember where we had seen it. We settled on a Chinese restaurant called the Lotus café, it didn’t end up being that great of an idea. Slow service and mediocre food settled as we went back to the Howe Sound Brewery. All of the photographers were getting the kinks out of the system, while I hung out with River and Nick at a window above the pub. Both boys were extremely disappointed that they were not going to be allowed into the pub for the show, and it would be there fate to wait at the window above the pub to watch from the obscured vantage.


Jordan Wright a local Canadian was the competition opener, Kai another local followed, Andrew Kourner was sandwiched in the middle (who might have been my favorite show with his timelessly classic-imagery and his documentary stylized-show), Boone came up next with his edgy style featuring some of the best athletes of all time, and lastly Keith. The competition was stiff and everyone was bringing out the big finish. Keith watched his show in critical silence. After the shows the judges left the bar to conference, it was going to be a tough call. After much deliberating they returned with the results.


John Irvine the MC of the festival delivered the podium standings: Tai third place, Andrew Kourner second place and Keith topping the podium in first. They were all rewarded with oversized checks and the admiration of many climbers/outdoor enthusiasts applause. The pressures of the trip were behind us, we would be able to enjoy all of the athletes that had come to present slideshows and speak.

We attended Dave Macleod’s inspiring show of head pointing. If I didn’t have the opportunity to kick it with the Scottish fellow (After Dave’s show he was coerced over to my friends house to have his portrait shot, where he was placed in gore-tex and showered with the garden house) I would have thought he was just absolutely out of his mind, but I found him to be very sound of mind and genuinely interesting. My heart raced as I watched him in his video soloing 14b, filming some nuts stuff for the BBC, raging in the alpine, and mixing it all together in one test piece that would demand all aspects that Dave had mastered. If you get a chance to attend his show in the future you won’t be disappointed. Expect sweaty palms…


Reuniting with good friend Steve Townsend always manages to be memorable. Steve is one of the most motivated guys I know. Luckily his job was rather flexible and he was able to climb most of the time I was visiting. We spent a day at Checkimus canyon and I immediately found that the climbing resonated the same style I preferred, steep with a specific crux and quality climbing in-between. I found Division Bell a 5.13+ right up my alley. I wasn’t sure that I would be able to get through the iron cross move, but I was determined to try. It went better than expected, I was thrilled by the climbing and I was looking forward to projecting this route. Unfortunately or fortunate Steve talked me into doing a dyno competition. Both Steve and I won, but not without it beating the shit out of me. Not having been possessed to dyno since the last dyno competition (probably the PBB in 2005), my muscles weren’t ready for the strain.

It is fairly common for me to be a little tired after a competition, but this one with its erratic-movements had given me knots and all kinds of pain throughout my neck and back. Recovery from these abnormal pains had been slow and my inspiration to climb dwindled. Once I started feeling better we went back to Chek. I had to head back to division bell, even if it would be a pathetic attempt. Sometimes it ends up that I spend time climbing something I love and never succeed, sometimes this is just the name of the game. I generally call these my training days. Luckily we had plenty to do and see when we weren’t able to climb. We were fortunate enough to visit with my ceramist friend Candace, where we were able to check out her and Vincent Massey’s freshest pieces from the kiln.


While everyone was recovering from the first night of the Pemberton festival we were putting in some face time at the 69 crack a 5.13b/c. Steve and I both top-roped it and it was coming together quickly. I had gotten it down to a hang in the crux and one botched sequence, and Steve was ready to lead it after having checked out the placements thoroughly. Usually extremely cavalier, but after having had my thunder squashed the other day by dyer news that my gear placements weren’t up to par I opted to be a top rope hero. Steve on the other hand was calling down nervously explaining to me how each piece of his would hold or blow. Mostly for the benefit of calming his nerves, but also preparing me for the worst-case scenario. Luckily we didn’t have to test any of the pieces, Steve sent.

After hearing a little about the infamous 69 crack Keith was persistent that we had enough time to shoot it on our way to the airport. We woke up early and raced to grab a coffee while Steve was setting up a line. We hustled. Steve in his weary five-day climbing streak was fatigued and lethargically pulled through the bottom crux where he struggled into the crux proper. His physical strength was maxing out and he was placing gear; communicating in a half-panic that some pieces weren’t good. I knew that some airtime would be inevitable; I just didn’t know how it all would unfold. I was preparing myself for the worst.


Keith sensing the stress in Steve’s voice and knowing all to well about poorly placed gear, he persisted, “We don’t have to get these shots man”. Steve is very rarely willing to back off and this occasion wasn’t any different. He placed his yellow alien leading up to the crux. The next piece was a small nut. Unfortunately Steve hadn’t racked the right piece, he was going to have to forge ahead without this placement on a healthy run out. Not having much fear of falling on gear he pushed on in his weak state. Now at least eight feet over his last piece he struggles into the crux. Not having the gumption and the right feet in place he pitches into the air squelching (which is somewhere between the squeal of a pubescent teen and a small animal in the talons of a bird of prey) when I came taut on the other end.

I’m not a fan of wickedly falling out of control; it is upsetting to take these falls and equally rattling to catch. Somehow, Steve ended up taking the fall numerous times. Steve managed to blow out the yellow alien on the first fall. Witnessing gear blow wasn’t as shocking as I would have imagined. Despite it all I’m still looking forward to pushing my boundaries on gear.