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A little over a month ago I turned 36… WTF! I don’t feel that old. As a matter of a fact, I feel as young as I was when I first went rock climbing. Aside from the obvious physical changes through the years. My hair has gotten shorter, I’ve gained about 45 lbs (I’d like to believe all muscle), and I began decorating the temple that is my body.Evaluating my next move

 
Evaluating my next move

     It was just under 20 years ago that a dear friend of mine Sean Kenny asked me if I wanted to go rock climbing..? We were chillaxing at school, before chillaxing was even a word, when he and group asked me to join them. I agreed, though truth be told, I was rather nervous of the thought. You see, I grew up with an insanely desperate fear of heights. I wouldn’t even ride a roller coaster until I was in middle school, and even then I was terrified. So this was a BIG commitment on my part. But I’m pretty “the guy”, as I now call him, was stoked. Sean has grown into a world-class climber, making his way across the globe. Seeing beautiful destinations and climbing in spots only most dream of.Me crimping in Mount Charleston on Baby Face 5.12B... I think

 
Me crimping in Mount Charleston on Baby Face 5.12B… I think

     Let me back up and give you some back story. I met Sean in the 1st grade, he is a year older than I, and we grew up 2 houses apart. I was just wee lad walking down the sidewalk when he approached me and asked if I wanted to play G.I. Joes. A friendship was born… Through the years, we played street football, playground basketball, skateboard, camped and climbed together. When we first began, Sean fashioned a woody on his basement wall made from sanded down nubs of wood screwed into the 2×4’s. we traversed that things for hours trying to build strength. His parents were pretty cool, cuz mine would’ve killed me if I did that. He can be a bit intense, and over bearing, but once you get to know him, he’s pretty rad. There’s no one I’d rather climb with, and I trust him as my rope gun above everyone else.Sean looks like a little kid

 
Sean looks like a little kid

     Anyways, my first climbing experience on Pete’s Rock was topping out on #9 & #14. That was the name of the routes as this entire crag is a TR area. Routes are graded #1 easiest, #15 is the hardest. I was quite proud of myself on how successful I was, only 3 people were able to top those out that day and I was the only first timer. My love for climbing had emerged, I had discovered my niche. I finished out the wrestling season at school and decided I wasn’t coming back to that sport. My focus would be solely on climbing, a fine choice considering my career in the WWE would’ve been short lived I’m sure. I even convinced Jeremy and Tommy to come along and they also caught on quickly, and made similar choices. We had our core unit of young climber gaining momentum everyday. We ventured to the rock 4-5 times per week. Our goal was to get strong, stay strong, and push our limits.Bouldering the Black Gate

 
Bouldering the Black Gate

     It was still winter time when we began climbing, but we cared not. We found semi-dry crags that faced south, with ice-cold rock and we started sending. Anything and everything we could try. Within 6 months, we were pushing 5.12’s. just a bunch of punk 17-year-old kids sluffing school to go crush, and dreaming of world-class climbing. We were a group within a group. Best friends and competitors at the same time. These moments still live in my mind of a time when our innocence was unbounded and the future was infinite.That how we roll... Sport climbing in the winter time. Notice my first pair of shoes were La Sportiva

 
That how we roll… Sport climbing in the winter time. Notice my first pair of shoes were La Sportiva

     We climbed at Pete’s, onto BCC, but left LCC alone, as it was mostly trad at the time. You see we were sport climbers, still are. We had no desire to do one long drawn out climb of pitch after pitch. Our hearts dwelled on multiple climbs, 3 a day, 5, or even 8 climbs a day… Every route getting more difficult, pushing ourselves, getting stronger. Setting our sites on redpoints. It wasn’t long before we discovered AF. A sport climber dream. 60-80′ routes of steep, over hung limestone. Wall after wall of climbing potential, with some of the classic sport routes in the US. Our ticklist began. Platinum blonde, License to thrill, Caress of steel, Suicide blonde, Liquid oxygen… The list goes on. There wasn’t enough days in the week or hours in day to satisfy our need. No near death experience could detour is from getting our climbing fix. And every time we drove in Jeremy’s car was a near death moment.Best 5.10C EVER! High Plains Drifter

 
Best 5.10C EVER! High Plains Drifter

     It was a passion that quickly turned into a competition. Thus making climbing not as fun as our intentions were set out to be. We lost site on what originally made our hearts fall in love with this unique sport. And worst of all, we began to take on an arrogance that affected our friendship. That summer, Sean and I went to Wild Iris. Joined by our friend Daniel, we had our hearts set on crushing some new rock. But our bouldering skills were not up to par, and anyone who has climbed Iris knows, it’s a sport area for boulderer’s. it consists of pearl white limestone, smooth as a baby’s bottom. Not many edges or much smearing, just tracking your feet on steep, pure rock. I was immediately humbled… Having to hang-dog 5.10’s. I admit, my fragile ego didn’t handle this well. So I slowed down, lost sight of my goals. And climbing was put on the wayside.My first trip to Wild Iris climbing Poker Face Alice 5.12B

 
My first trip to Wild Iris climbing Poker Face Alice 5.12B

     My senior year of high school began, and winter came faster than expected. I soon discovered gym climbing. We had heard of a new gym that opened in SLC, and had visited it before, but were more focused on the rock. The Wasatch Front Rock Gym, it was the original Front Climbing Club. Owned and operated by Dave Bell. Memberships were cheap, day passes a mere $7, and the owner fraternized with climbers. It was a community of lost souls. Lost in the world of climbing, long before climbing was cool. We had discovered our meaning and people with shared interests. I had only been to this gym once before when I was just beginning and had never belayed on a lead. When Cale Berg asked me to belay him. I dropped him when he was clipping the anchors on a route in the cave. He took a 20′ in the gym and I was dubbed “the shittiest belayer in the world” by Dan one of the gym workers. That stuck with me, and motivated me at the same time. I take responsibility for that awful belay, and thankfully no one was hurt. Cale just laughed. But because of that, I have never been involved in a climbing injury were I was the belayer. And I ‘m quite choosy on who belays me. I took a fall my first summer, a 20’er that ended with my side scraping a boulder and a permanent scar to remind me. Always communicate with your belayer and always pay attention to your climber. Luckily I didn’t deck. But anyways, as kids we set a problem in the gym that only 4 people could send… Sean, Jeremy and I were 3 of them. We were damn proud of ourselves. Even Dan respected me, though I don’t think he remembered calling me “the shittiest belayer in the world”.Sean crushing Leviathon 5.12C

 
Sean crushing Leviathon 5.12C

     I climbed throughout my senior year of high school and went to class just enough to get my diploma. I was done with school, a choice I know regret. I wanted to work enough to climb and had no plans for the future. Except climbing… ALOT. The following winter, everything changed. I met a girl, and she didn’t climb. But I fell in love, and within a year we were engaged, married 6 months later and pregnant with Kemry. I wanted to spend every waking moment with her, and I did. And I fell away from climbing for a time… My life consisted of work and family. No time for climbing. Leaving a giant hole inside of me. I was unhappy, I had given up something I so desired to do, to be, that I grew to resent my entire situation. Sean continued on climbing and I would see him occasionally. Usually consisting of a wave from down the street as he jumped into his new climbing partners jeep. And though I loved my family with all my heart, a jealousy grew in me, making me not an enjoyable person to be around. I couldn’t find a herby balance between work/family/climbing. This was ultimately the downfall to my marriage, leading to divorce and even more unhappiness. These were the darkest years of my life. I was lost completely. Leaning on the only person I had my 1 year old son. This entire process was the most unfair thing my child could ever have placed on his shoulders, and I knew I was responsible. Though his smiles guided me through this time, my soul was forever darkened. I was changed in a way you can not imagine until you’ve been there…Jeremy working Leviathon 5.12C

 
Jeremy working Leviathon 5.12C

     Apart for only a year, my sons mother and I decided to give it another chance. We got back together, had our second son. But realized we were 2 different people. We came from similar walks of life, but were headed in separate directions. We ultimately opted on being apart and chasing the dreams we had in our youth. Though we had our battles, and time certainly changed how we saw each other, we are good friends today. Doing what is right for our 2 wonderful boys. And through this all, my heart still longed to be on the rock. I changed jobs, changed apartments, even changed my style. But one thing never changed, my desire to climb. I finally had a job where overtime wasn’t needed or required. So free time fell into the positive side of life. I rejoined The Front Climbing Club. Now the new Front, in a new location and u see new ownership. I even got Jeremy to sign up with me. We quickly regained strength and were pushing V4/V5 problems in the gym. My heart began to heal. I realized my mistakes and corrected them. Vowing never again to walk away from what I loved.Me working Liquid Oxygen 5.12A in AF

 
Me working Liquid Oxygen 5.12A in AF

     One afternoon, while working problems at The Front a loud, somewhat annoying and intense guy came in and was working the opposite end of the wall. Jeremy and I looked at each other and in unison said “I think Sean just walked in”. When he saw us, he wasn’t the least bit surprised we were there. It had been nearly a decade since I last seriously put climbing to the forefront of my schedule. I think he always knew we would return to the rock… Eventually. Jeremy still having his wife and family as well as a full-time job, didn’t have as much time to focus on climbing. So Sean and I took inning trips to Wild Iris where I sent my first 5.12A at the crisp age of 32. I was climbing stronger than I ever had. We went to 10 sleep, Maple canyon, he showed me Echo canyon and  Sinks canyon near W.I. As I still have a full-time job, and my shared custody of my children, I had to pass on joining Sean in Thailand (twice), Greece and Spain. As I said before, “the guy” is world-class, motivated, and cares most about climbing. My time will come when I am able to experience these destinations… Until then, I remind myself that patience is a virtue.The first 5.12A I sent Limestone Cowboy

 
The first 5.12A I sent Limestone Cowboy

     Through climbing I have met some amazing people. I was introduced to the world of climbing by Sean. But in return, I brought alone Jeremy, Tommy, Dan and Willie. I’ve been on dates with girls where climbing was our first date, in most cases our last. If we can’t share that passion, I’m not sure I can share my life. On twitter I met climbers like Steve, Gina, Kristie, Haley, Jacalyn, Katie and Niko and now recently I met Eileen. At the gym I’ve made great connection with Chris, Chad and Nate from the Front and the great folks at climbOn!  And I’ve even met some adventurers from another walk of life, like Shawn, Erika, Paul, Heather, Jon and Heidi… I love climbing, but most of all I love the outdoors. I find passion in all things adventurous, and I’m motivated by challenge. A little daring, and a bit on the edge, but for my children and my mother’s sake, always safe. The connections I’ve made through out my life are unmeasurable. But I find familiarity we are drawn to. And we always go back where we belong. The core group in which I grew with, the ones who know me as well as my brother. These are the people I find myself picking up with, even when time separates us.Me giving Right Pile 5.11D my best go... This route is my Nemesis

 
Me giving Right Pile 5.11D my best go… This route is my Nemesis

     Though the dream was lost for most of us, Sean was always the original spirit of our group. Driving us all to our potential… He lives that dream to this day, traveling to world-class climbing destinations, still pushing his own limits… My admiration for his abilities and his climbing style is paralleled with no other climber I’ve met (including pro athletes). He is a visionary who knows what he wants and works daily to achieve it. I have learned much from “the guy” who is close enough to be a brother, he is a teacher, supporter and my friend. At times misunderstood, but when it comes to climbing, he is the first person I ask for advice, and my motivation to send. For I know, no one is completely syked like Sean is when I fill him in on my accomplishments. Thanks for everything friend…Sean making his way up Virtual Reality 5.11D

 
Sean making his way up Virtual Reality 5.11D
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My boys playing in the Virgin River in the Narrows

 
My boys playing in the Virgin River in the Narrows

Columbia Omnifreeze Zero keeping me cool in the heat

 
Columbia Omnifreeze Zero keeping me cool in the heat

The crew making our way through The Subway

 
The crew making our way through The Subway

     My boys and I were familiar with Zion, as we had spent time there last year. But I was particularly excited to hike “The Subway” with them this year. If you don’t recognize this hike, it’s has 2-3 miles of the most unusual and beautiful scenery in all of Utah. An absolute MUST DO as far as hikes go. Being that this is mostly a water hike, July is a great month to experience this grand trail. But the permit system for “The Subway” is by lottery only, and they only allow 80 people on the Left Fork trail a day. Most hike from the bottom up and back, but top down is the best route… If you know the route. It could be easy to get turned around up top crossing the slick rock, believe me I know. I recommend going with someone who has hiked it before, at least your first time. That way you can learn the route.

Columbia keeping traction in the Zion Narrows

 
Columbia keeping traction in the Zion Narrows

     I originally had a 12 person permit, but ended up giving away 7 spots because I couldn’t fill them all. Weird that I couldn’t even give them away, apparently I’m not as well liked as I might think. My boys and I arrived in Zion a few days before Jeremy and Erika were coming down, so we thought hiking the first 3 miles up the Narrows would be a good warm up for the 10 mile “Subway” hike. All that did was get me super stoked on my Narrows permit I have for later this month. decked out in my Vibram 5 fingers (my favorite water shoe), my Columbia Sportswear Omnifreeze shirt and Tetonsports day packs, we trekked up the Narrows with a light sprinkle of rain above us. Other than the Neanderthal “jocks” we encountered, who were not only bouncing a football of the slot canyon walls, but tried to sail a 30′ log down the shallow Virgin river, all was right in the world. The beauty of the Narrows is unparalleled, the Grand daddy of slot canyons. If you decide to venture up from bottom on a day hike, take it to the Orderville canyon confluence. Believe me, you will know when you get there.

Orderville Canyon confluence

 
Orderville Canyon confluence

Hiking into The Subway Photo by: Erika Wiggins

 
Hiking into The Subway
Photo by: Erika Wiggins

     Later that evening, Jeremy and Erika arrived at camp, and we began making plans for the “Subway” route the next morning. We set out around 9am, letting the other groups pass us, as we wanted the distance from separate hikers so we could enjoy the canyons beauty. Though the water in the “Subway” was really murky, and pretty much stained my brand new Columbia Omnifreezezero shirt, it was still another amazing experience. And even more memorable than hiking it the previous year, because I was able to share these moments with my 2 best buddies. My boys did great, no complaining, no whining, and even powered through the last mile with only 1 rest in the middle. High 5’s handed out all around, and smiles accompanied the beers back at camp last that evening. Couldn’t of asked for a better group to join me on this Epic hike.

Caelan swimming through the murky waters in The Subway

 
Caelan swimming through the murky waters in The Subway

The Dudes exiting The Subway

 
The Dudes exiting The Subway

     The following morning, we said goodbye to Jeremy and Erika. Packed up camp and began the long drive to RMNP. I opted on taking the scenic route driving past Bryce Canyon, through Escalante, and Capitol Reef NP. This route took a an hour or so longer, but mileage wise, was shorter and much more majestic. We managed to break up the monotony of driving with a brief layover in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. A quaint little town, that other than my hotel being a POS, I rather enjoyed. The margarita I had with dinner had just the right kick and my waffle the next morning was amazing. We got back on the road by 9am, eager to reach RMNP and set up camp. I had extremely high expectations for this NP.

skipping rocks in RMNP

 
skipping rocks in RMNP

     The first evening after camp was set up, we took a swim in the 40° Colorado river, and I spent some time teaching my boys to skip rocks. It was a father-son moment I will never forget. Amazingly, we were allowed camp fires in RMNP, so we went old school and roasted some weenies over the fire, followed by the ever classic s’mores. Early to rise, we took the drive over the Trail Ridge road, spotting a number of elk, deer and mountain goats. Taking the shuttle up the to Bear Lake and hiking around this awesome lake with mirror images. We opted to hike further up to Nymph Lake which turned out to be the high light of RMNP for me. The water was astounding, and covered with water-lilies, a sight I have never seen previously. Caelan even fell in at one point, “claiming” it to be an accident..? Very suspicious. We carried on to Dream Lake, after all how can you pass on visiting a place called Dream Lake? The vista was amazing, exactly what the name suggests… A Dream. The crystal clear lake settle directly below Hallet Peak, a sheer rock face that can be summited via climbing, or hiking. But you want to start that expedition early as late afternoon weather can quickly become a factor in your safety.

Nymph Lake

 
Nymph Lake

Dream Lake & Hallet Peak

 
Dream Lake & Hallet Peak

     At this point, I was over impressed with RMNP, quickly realizing why Boulder, Colorado was such a sought after destination to live. It beauty for high altitude hikes is amazing. Then I saw to 2 boulderers descending the trail, packing their crash pads. My excitement began to build further. I stopped to talk with the next group of boulderers I encountered. They informed my RMNP was “world-class” bouldering, a top 10 destination apparently. My mind was made up, I would return to this breathtaking park. Crash pad and all. What more could you ask for..? Crisp, cool summer temps, gorgeous mountain and lake views, and world-class bouldering. Colorado, you have won me over. I forgive you for your sports teams, your landscape is wondrously stunning.

Reppin' some TETONsports gear

 
Reppin’ some TETONsports gear

   Model looks on this kid

 
Model looks on this kid

     We exited the park via the east entrance, due to the fact the west entrance was closed for road construction. A bit irritated that the previous evening there was no signs letting people know this would be the case. But it turned out for the best. We got to see the astonishing Colorado sunrise from the Trail Ridge road. The highest continuous paved road in the USA, reaching 12,183 ft in elevation. And we also got to travel through the lovely town of Estes Park, a place I could definitely hang my hat for a while… Though it’s probably extremely expensive these days.  I admit, my thought and views of Colorado were a bit swayed by my Utah roots. Strange because everyone I’ve met from this awesome state is extremely warm-hearted and wonderful. Finding now that the 2 are not much different. Aside from the marijuana laws in CO, and the predominant LDS population in UT. The states have more in common than most might think. The elevations of our major cities are both near a mile high. We share a love for skiing, climbing and MTB. The southern portion of our brother states are covered in red rocks, while the northern is mountains, lakes, quakies and pines. Even the liquor laws are fairly close (look them up). Colorado, I salute you!

Sunrise from the Trail Ridge Road

 
Sunrise from the Trail Ridge Road

     Thanks to the awesome company TETONsports for their great support in all my adventures, these guys are amazing. Thanks for reading. Have you ever visited a place you had a preconceived notion about, and were proven wrong? I’d love to hear about it…