Well. I suppose it's only appropriate that I write this, my last post about my 11 weeks in Europe, strung out from a very long and heinous delayed / missed / re-routed trip back. I unexpectedly made it to Chicago, not without some suffering and I'm still looking forward to another several hours of connections and waiting, but in retrospect it's really nothing. We get pretty worked up when our travel plans take strange or unexpected turns - myself included - but this is a perfect opportunity for me to have some perspective. I've just wrapped up what was without question the best climbing trip of my life and likely one of the best overseas trips, period. Taking full advantage of our modern ability to just 'jump' between continents and jet set the globe on what is truly a meager price. Even just to have the privilege and great fortune to make a trip like the one I just did is incredible and something I'm extremely grateful for. So yeah. I'm tired and over the travel, but mostly I'm stoked and very grateful.
I had no idea how incredible the Dolomites would be.
The last week continued to be exceptional and I fell more and more in love with Switzerland. After some rad time spent at the Bauch and Gimmelwald I followed my tour guide Matthias Trottmann to his next suggestion - a classic Swiss crag - Lehn, just outside of Interlaken. My new friends Christina Holenweg and Danial Hullinger totally hooked me up with great food and warm accommodation in Interlaken for a few days while I checked out Lehn in some less than desirable weather. Lehn strongly reminds me of Little Si in Washington with the rock and movement - and area that many of you know I'm super fond of. I totally got stoked on Lehn. The real prize there is this incredible route called 'Hybris' 14c which takes the king line on the raddest wall there through a low crimpy traverse boulder problem and then a pump run to the anchor with a heart breaking style change at the last bolt - a total sandstone style boulder on slopers even featuring a finger lock. It's a super good route. But one that I was a bit fearful to try knowing that the weather was looking gnarly and I would likely only get two days to do it before leaving.
But, it was clearly the line to try so I went for it on day one. I felt a sense of anxiety and nervousness at the crag after sampling the route and realizing how much I loved it, and suddenly, how much I really wanted to do it. When I left for Europe in April I told myself that if I only clipped the chains on Biographie and nothing else during my almost 12 week trip it would still be by all means, a huge success for me. It's funny how whatever route I'm fired up on - one I've dreamt about for years or one I've just seen for the first time - that route means the world to me. At this point in my trip I had had so much unexpected success that everything else should be simply a bonus but here I was with just 2 climbing days left and I was completely obsessed again, like nothing else mattered. I told myself, 'just this one last route and I don't even care what happens next!!', which should be written on my grave at this point. Shockingly, I finished the route that day. And got up 'Bad Boys' 13c and flashed 'Zentrifuge' 13c as well. I came back the next day in down right horrible conditions and did the Trottmann beauty, 'Amber' 14a/b along with 'No Sika, No Cry' 13d/14a. Barely pulling it off as the crag was surrounded with fog and the upper holds soaked in the strong rain. This would actually be my last climb in Europe.
For the following 6 days I went into full on tourist mode. Driving through Italy and checking in with La Sportiva headquarters, exploring the breathtaking Dolomites. I took a fun day of walking in the cool little city of Innsbruck, Austria and slept in a field close to Liechtenstein. I woke up covered in slugs. I had a super fun and very late night in old town Bern and made a very hung over drive to Nice for one last day on the beach before I jumped on my plane.
my bivy spot in the Dolomites was next level.
beautiful graveyard in Nice.
Hopefully some of my photos do the last few days justice. It was fun to give up climbing for a little while and just enjoy the drives and scenery without worry about skin or rest v climbing days, etc. Like I mentioned I feel very stoked. It was by all means an outstanding trip for me and I want to definitely express my thanks to everyone along the way that gave me a spot to crash or a belay or a great conversation or a high five. Damn, that was awesome! What's this?... just got an email from United... oh cool... my last flight just got delayed another 2 hours...