2015 Reflection

I will now do my best to put you momentarily in another person’s shoes. Imagine, standing in a village made up of mud buildings with wooden awnings, each adorned with various produce and merchandise. You are carrying a tall, wooden staff in your right hand, and in your left a rope leashing two fluffy, gray sheep to yourself. These sheep mindlessly much on bits of dried grass as they look about the crowded centre with impersonal, uncaring eyes. The ringing of a dangling cowbell on some large steer crossing the road in front of you chimes to the sound of hoofbeats, interrupting the random and constant nonsense of multiple conversations taking place simultaneously amongst the nameless, dirt-covered faces. You see a longtime friend, one whom you haven’t seen in quite some time. You approach him with a huge smile, noticing that he is wearing a very similar thick brown robe to fend off the winter chill to you. Your tattered leather boots slop through the muddy road as you approach your smiling friend, whose right arm is stretched forth in preparation for an embrace. You hug, and the conversation begins as they do. After some time, and after much has been said, comes forth a simple, yet common question asked by the people at that time, “Can you believe that it’s already been TWO years since we’ve started keeping track of what year it is??”  

Now that over 2,000 years have transpired since this quick little story, you’d think that we as humans would have gotten used to the fact that time never stops.  Nope.  Every year we are just as amazed as the year before that it’s “Already January 1st!?” and what once felt like a brand new year is already behind us.  Gone  Never to return.  Time to move on, and start anew.  Why a single day would provoke such profound feelings to better oneself, I don’t know.   But I think it might have something to do with the other holidays associated with this time of year; which already seem like a lifetime ago.  

At the time, it’s easy to miss the importance of moments, and the strides we have made as individuals in terms of the things we set our minds to. Climbing-wise, I knew I was crossing new boundaries with each new climb I found myself chalking up my hands for, and it’s impossible to ignore the sensations associated with stepping up and giving your all on something which at one time was an undeniable impossibility.  I found myself in locations in 2015 that I had before then only been seen in dreams and covers of climbing magazines.  Many times I found myself stupefied and humbled by the power of some of these moments which sprinkled my year.  Each just as powerful as the one prior.

When 2015 came around, I had no real idea what it is that I wanted to be doing, or what direction I should go.  Being unemployed offered me the chance to climb almost daily in between looking for jobs and working on my resume.  The lack of snow offered me the chance to climb basically all winter, frequently going to Dinosaur Rock, the Pie Shop, and Sugarloaf with Patrick.  When my Aunt Elizabeth and Uncle Bob Rowen offered me the chance to live in their cottage in South Lake, I took the opportunity to relocate and reset.  Little did I know how much of an impact this would have on me.  South Lake Tahoe turned out to be exactly where I needed to be at that time, and quickly became my new home.  Thanks to this choice, I met many, many people who will forever be part of my life, people whose friendship has taught me countless things about myself.  It’s hard to believe that even now, I have known a lot of people who have become family for less than a year.  Lis Cordner being one of them.

The months that followed found me in Yosemite Valley for a month, followed by an absolutely outrageous and wild summer in South Lake where a wild group of climbers pushed me to try things I never would have done under my own influence, and a group of ropes course guides shared many sunrises on the beach with me. This wild crew of devoted and passionate climbers quickly became some of my closest and best friends, the kind of people you feel stoked to have you on belay and share a PBR with.  Thank you guys for sharing these countless experiences with me last year, you all know who you are.

Another absolutely epic season in Yosemite in the Fall returned me to society with a girlfriend, Lis, and a renewed motivation to seek new challenges and give my absolute beset at everything I do.  I don’t think I have ever been as motivated as I am at this time, it’s amazing.  

This year, I was able to climb Half Dome, El Cap, The Rostrum, Mt Whitney, and all over Lake Tahoe.  By the end of the summer I tallied up some 5.12s, 5.11s, and a whole bunch of 10s. My confidence has grown to levels never before seen at any point in my life. After starting the year with only a handful of 5.10 onsights, it blows me away to think of how far I’ve come since waking up on my friend Jeff’s couch on New Year’s Day 2015.

As long as this trend continues, 2016 will promise to be one hell of a wild year. It’s exciting and scary at the same time to think about the endless possibilities which could take place this year. Who knows what I will be typing when I find myself at this junction once again next year.  Health and happiness to each and every one of my dear friends and family this year, and may your homes be always filled with love. Make this year the year, there is no reason why it can’t be one of the best years of your life. The choice truly is yours.

I captured this shot dangling from above the alcove, cleaning a pitch for my buddy Shaid Ottis as he prepared to take a shot at South Seas on El Cap.  This could be my favorite shot from last year.  April.
RIMG0922 (1)
Tito Krull in El Cap Meadow with Shayd Ottis in the background.  This was the same morning we bailed off the Nose due to traffic.  May.


Committing to the Porch Swing was easily the most terrifying thing I have ever done.  Only once in my life have I ever seriously asked myself “Christian, what the hell are you doing?” and that was this very same day, just moments before rappelling off the end of a rope, 3,000 feet above the ground.  I highly recommend doing this.  April.


We were somewhat hesitant when Phatty Patty first approached us and asked if she could come with us the Column, but something about her eyes told me that she was hungry for adventure.  For being her first wall, she crushed it.  Never complaining once.  However, she ended up deciding just after Pitch 5 that she weren’t ready to climb a wall, and bailed without warning.  I saw her momentarily from the corner of my eye as she quietly floated off in the breeze.  To our amazement, she was patiently waiting for us when we returned to the ground after experiencing an infuriating mini-epic.  April.
Connor Britts loving the Double Cracks pitch way the heck up on Half Dome on my 26th birthday.  This climb changed my life.  May.
The South Lake Crew demonstrating all sorts of emotions at Lost in Space Boulder.  This was the same day I met the crew.  First day bouldering with the bunch and they convince me to give this V6 a shot, Ender’s Game.  I didn’t get very far, but I knew I found some strong climbers when Jack Williams showed us how it’s done.  Blake Herbold, Eric Hansen and Greg Collard demonstrate the proper stoke needed from your spotters.  February.
Lis Cordner stoked to be belaying once again after a very memorable first aid pitch, which also happened to be somewhere around 1,000 feet above the Valley Floor.  Less than an hour before this picture was taken, Lis agreed to be my girlfriend.  She is a very brave girl.  September.
Another random encounter in South Lake that proved to be one hell of an ally.  Chris Prevell shared many an adventure with me this last year, and was always incredibly reliable to keep stoke high.  Looking stoked on Traveller’s Buttress,  Lover’s Leap.  May or June.
Easily one of my proudest achievements I have been awarded thus far in my life was this climb, where myself, Craig Muderlak, Nick Sullens, and Enoch Glidden shared an incredibly empowering experience on Astroman.  Enoch, seen here sitting below the Enduro Corner in the yellow helmet, was born with Spina Bifida, causing him to lack any feeling in his legs since birth.  Yes, that is a paraplegic man sitting in the Enduro Corner.  Thank you, Enoch!  October.
Autumn was an incredibly empowering Valley season.  Before September, I had yet to try any 5.11 in Yosemite.  So, one day, Taleen Kennedy, Rett English, and Zack (I dunno your last name, dude!) and I decided to give the Moratorium a shot.  Turned out to be one hell of a fun day raging with these guys on such a stellar and beautiful line.  Rett, giving the fingertip 5.11b crux his all.  October.
Every year I keep telling myself to spend more time in the mountains.  2015 had a focus on walls and the likes.  However, the power and inspiration gathered from this trip to Whitney with Ceasar Medina triggered my imagination.  Upper Boy Scout Lake.  August.
Greg Collard the moment of popping off while trying to clip a bolt, sending him for the whipper of the year.  Space Invaders, 5.12a.  June or July.
I don’t really have a caption for this one.  I snapped it really quick last April as we left the Alcove one rainy day.  The purple color of the Lupin kind of reminds me of rope, kind of like a royal color.  It suits the Captain well.  April.
Nothing beats two dirtbags living in a van together, climbing every day.  The Mystery Machine made a fine home for that wild month.  April.
Jesse Ray and I on top of the Rostrum!  October.
No amount of powdered donuts or hangover will keep this guy, Alex Germain, off the rocks.  This dude has a serious appetite for sweets.  July or August.
Adam Selby, whom Lis and I met on Dinner Ledge, being stoked on where we were at the moment.  September.
Connor Britts on our approach to Half Dome with Astroman and the top of El Cap staring back at us.  May.
14,497 feet above sea level, Ceasar Medina enjoys a snack and the view of Mount Russell.  August.
Evelyn Cordner, Lis’ sister, came to join us in the Valley, so we decided to take her up her first climb, Snake Dike.  Here she is crushing it on the wild second pitch.  September.
Another shot of Enoch on Astroman.  No, he’s not updating his Facebook status, he was texting his emergency contact to let them know our status.  We may have been the first party in decades to attack Astroman wall style.  October.
Tito Krull, me, and Connor Britts after topping out Connor’s and my own first El Cap route, Tangerine Trip.  Five days on the wall and we styled it!  I could not have asked for a more perfect first El Cap adventure.  October.
Dustin Webinger, another random stranger who turned out to have an impact on me.  This guy loves climbing as much as I do, and can always be counted on to keep stoke high.  Here we are on Sickle Ledge after a spur-of-the-moment Sickle Ledge run.  December.
Chris Prevell admiring the ridgeline he and I would be traversing only a few hours after this picture was taken.  In total, we did about twenty miles this day, and walked every inch of the aged ridgeline in this picture.  Lake Aloha, Desolation Wilderness.  June or July.
Bruce (no idea what your last name is) on top of an adventurous and wild trip up Wild Country 5.10a at Lover’s Leap.  July.
Lis loving every minute of topping out Commitment 5.9, on a hot day in September.
Just another day in Yosemite.  Connor peers back at El Cap, as if it said his name, while Tito leads the march and Shayd mosies between the two.  April.
Day 2 on Tangerine Trip.  This shot does a good job of showing how steep the wall here really is.  If you notice, the haul bags below Tito are hanging freely into space.  The very bottom of the red portaledge must be around 2 feet from the wall.  This steepness continued for four days as we made our way up the wall.  October.
Ceasar has been my best friend for a large portion of my life, and climbing in the Sierra has been on our minds for a long, long time.  Here we are looking stoked to tackle the face of Mount Whitney.  August.
This one pretty much sums up our one-day adventure on Washington Column, culminating in a puke emergency and stuck ropes.  April.
Lis learning how to jump on Pine Line.  The following day, her and I took off for a three day adventure on Washington Column.  September.
Connor Britts getting steep and exposed on El Cap in October.



2 thoughts on “2015 Reflection

  1. Solid recap. I’ve just stumbled upon your blog a fews weeks ago and have really been enjoying your posts, climbing these routes vicariously through each one 🙂


    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! Sorry about the late reply, but this is all something new for me so it’s all surprising to receive such positive feedback! I look forward to continuing to fill this site with adventures to inspire those who can’t be out there getting after it! Cheers, dude!!

      Liked by 1 person

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