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CRAGS BOD Meeting Minutes April 21, 2016

A few members and friends met at Pipeworks for our regular April meeting.

You’re welcome to join us at our next monthly meeting, May 19 at Pipeworks, at 7:00 pm.

Save the dates for these upcoming events during 2016, hosted by CRAGS and friends.

  • Access Fund Conservation Team visit. Mike and Amanda will be in the Tahoe 50 corridor area for a few days leading up to our Adopt a Crag event.
  • Lover’s Leap Adopt a Crag, June 11.
  • Auburn State Recreation Area climbing event, October 15.

We’ve got many other exciting projects brewing, too, including our annual showings of this year’s Reel Rock film festival.

Squirrel! One of Our Favorite Strawbillies.


I sat down with Squirrel this last fall to find out a little bit about our favorite business owner in Strawberry and one
of our favorite Strawbillies. I recorded the convo and was going to transcribe it FullSizeRenderhere, but first I wanted to give a little insight as to why I thought he would be such a great subject for a story.

My family has had a cabin at Fallen Leaf Lake forever. I have been driving up Highway 50 for as long as, well, I can remember. We would from time to time stop at the Strawberry Station to, well, you know that it’s hard for little kids to plan their bathroom breaks. It was super run down. I could also remember looking at the Leap’s face and wondering if people would climb up them. At a young age I was a climbing fool, so before I knew that there was such a thing as climbing as a sport, I would see rock faces and imagine climbing them. Fast forward years later and I was a climber, and Lover’s Leap was one of my favorite places to climb. I eventually ran into Squirrel who had just bought the Strawberry Station. An ex-climbing gym owner/manager had now become owner of a pit-stop for people on their way up to South Lake. He put a little gear shop on the side, and revamped the whole station into a beautiful little store. The Station was finally something befitting such a great climbing location. Squirrel has helped CRAGS in so many ways, from talking us up to newbies looking to get active in the climbing community, selling “Love the Leaps Tees” with a percentage going IMG_0467to CRAGS, donating gear for our raffles, and even hosting us for dinner after our Adopt-A-Crag event in 2014. The more I talked to him the more I was intrigued by his stories and life, so I took the time to sit with him and find out more of what he’s about.

So how did you get the Nickname?                                                                            

“Just been my nickname since I was a tiny little guy, my parents gave it to me when I was five. Mostly just ‘cause I loved climbing trees, and being little, like a little crazy kid.” 

So how did you get into Rock Climbing?

“I just started rock climbing the day after I moved to California, in 1986. I had moved to Davis and met a climber named Larry VonWald, and he took me climbing the second day I was here.”

Here at the Leap?

“Yup, yup. The first climb I ever did was Corrugation Corner. I tied into the end of the rope with a bowline on a coil in my sneakers.”

So your first climb is one of the Top 50 climbs of North America?


Did you get addicted from that point on?

“Yeah, yeah, I just wanted to do stuff, just really wanted to do STUFF. Then I ended up…when the hell was that?  Like 86, 92…like in 1991 we heard about climbing gyms starting to happen in the United States, then in ‘92 we opened the Rocknasium.”

And from the start you were the General Manager of Rocknasium?FullSizeRender (1)

“Myself and my Friend Mark Leffler, we were partners on that.”

I heard from Dierdre Honnold that the first time Alex Honnold ever climbed was at Rocknasium.

‘Yeah, that’s what she told me, I met her here just like a year ago and she told me that story…and I did not recall any of that obviously. But she had a picture of me belaying   him on his first climb.”

So how long were you there?

“Umm…til 2008, I sold it to Mark in 2008.”

Then straight up here?

“Yeah, moved up here in 2008…2009, hey hold on (Proceeds to go help a customer. Yeah, we have been shooting the shit all while the shop is open. Been talking/interviewing for like 15 mins just sitting in the little table he has right by the front door for people to drink their Joe, read the paper, and of course tell stories. He spends the next five minutes catching up his friend/local and getting him a package that was delivered there. In the same building as the Station is the local Post Office. I think to myself at this time, man this guy is living the dream! He comes back after getting himself and my IMG_0323daughter a Chocolate Bar to snack on, and we get back to interview.) “Bought the store 2012, Nov of 2012.”

For the next five minutes we talk about some gear and the new stuff coming out from DMM. The guy who had picked up his package had now tried on the boots he ordered. A group of 4 heading to State-line comes in as well as a couple of other friends. He helps the travelers and introduces me to his other friend and tells him about CRAGS, and we talk about a couple of people in common we know. I start to realize I have been there for almost an hour. Mia my daughter has been playing outside now for like 20 mins and I am not really interviewing him anymore,  just hanging out. I decide I’ve got to finish this thing and get out of his hair.

So what would you like to see up here at Lover’s Leap? Would you like to see more development of the area, more trails?

“Umm, no…I mean I’m pretty happy with the way everything is here. I think there is some room for a couple more easier routes on Hog Wild as well as a new guide book for the area. I love the climbing community up here and all the people from around the world that come to climb here. It’s pretty fun, I don’t think I would change anything.”

By: Daniel Frederick – CRAGS Executive Director

Upper walls of Auburn Quarry closed temporarily to protect nesting falcons

Falcon Closure Order

Raptor are nesting in the upper canyon of Auburn Quarry this year. Please avoid going uphill to the Wreckage Wall, Twin Towers, or other unnamed walls around them.

All other developed areas are open for climbing!

Access Fund Stewardship

Join the Access Fund-Jeep Conservation Team May 18-21, 2015 for a FREE professional stewardship training program at one of our country’s premiere climbing destinations, in partnership with Yosemite National Park. (more…)

Adopt-a-Crag at Lover’s Leap May 9th

Saturday, May 9, 2015 at 10:00 am is our annual Adopt a Crag event at Lover’s Leap.


Hans Florine to present at Pipeworks May 6th!

Hans Florine Talk Flyer

Professional rock climber, Hans Florine, will be speaking at Sacramento Pipeworks on Wednesday, May 6th at 7pm. Hans is donating his time to Climbing Resource Advocates of Greater Sacramento (CRAGS), and putting on a multimedia show to raise money for ‘Save Donner Climbing’ and Truckee Donner Land Trust (TDLT). TDLT are currently in escrow to purchase Black Wall and save this beautiful climbing area forever.

Hans Florine is world renowned climber and currently holds the speed record for El Capitan with hometown hero, Alex Honnold. Hans will share stories of historic climbs, including his own adventures leading up to the 2012 record-breaking ascent with Alex Honnold, and insights into what it takes to climb fast in Yosemite Valley.

This event is $5 at the door, with all proceeds going to TDLT for the purchase of Black Wall. Yolo Brewery will be pouring some of their Local Craft Beers, and Peet’s Coffee & Tea will be pouring their brews too! National climbing organization, Access Fund Conservation Team, will be there to promote the Adopt-a-Crag event happening at Lover’s Leap on May 9th. The American Alpine Club, Black Diamond, Constant Clothing, and Truckee Donner Land Trust will be there to support the cause.

  • This event is open to the public.
  • All refreshments are included in the price of $5 at the door.
  • We will be raffling off great climbing prizes (Raffle Tickets are $1 each)
  • 100% Proceeds go to Save Donner Climbing and Truckee Donner Land Trust

Pipeworks Climbing Gym
116 N 16th St
Sacramento, CA 95811

For questions call Daniel Frederick Executive Director of CRAGS at 916-844-6151 or email at daniel_frederick@sbcglobal.net.

AAC Live your Dream grant application deadline is March 1st 2015

The American Alpine Club is currently accepting grant applications for their annual Live Your Dream Grant–the climbing grant for the everyday adventurer looking to expand their skills, dream big, and inspire others. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what your experience level is, or your objective, or your discipline. The AAC is seeking to fund all sorts of mountain adventures–from sport climbing to mountaineering, from big ski descents to new bouldering, from climbing outside for the first time to putting up an FA in Patagonia–so long as it fuels your progression, the AAC will support you! And you don’t even need to be an AAC member to apply. But hurry, the grant cycle closes on March 1, 2015. For more information and to download a copy of the application, visit: http://http://www.americanalpineclub.org/grants/g/17/Live-Your-Dream-Grants

Reel Rock 9 Recap: “The Barn” edition

(By CRAGS board member Daniel Frederick.)  This year was a different REEL Rock (RR). I mean of course they are always different, but this year was way different. Instead of naming off the differences first let’s talk about what was expected.

The September 2014 RR was CRAGS’ sixth year hosting the event. Each year it gets bigger and bigger, and this year was no exception. We grew by 25% this year in attendance, and since we are a non-profit and this event is our single biggest event, it means we grew our small annual budget by about the same. Like years past the attendees were made up of our great community of climbers and outdoor supporters. We had great local beer on tap this year (Bike Dog), and not only the usual popcorn but also pizza. We had 20 different raffle prizes including great gear and gift certificates, but also local guides this year gave away some free trips.  All in all, it was what we have come to expect from the CRAGS RR event, but this year there was more.

The first big difference this year was RR was one film. One full-length film about the history of climbing in Yosemite. It was much more a documentary then the “climbing films” we have grown used to from Sender Films. Also this year we held the event in the west building at Pipeworks, often referred to as the barn. This gave us the space to include the extra 50 people who attended this year. It also gave us a nice space to show the movie, instead of the gym where the set-up is wider with people looking on from the side instead of straight forward. It also meant we could use our new movie screen, which was twice as big as previous years. We cut our cost on rentals for the event too, so we could put more money towards the work we do. The addition of a cooler and Co2 tank for the kegs helped us keep the beer line moving, and thanks to the tips at the table we made an additional $120 from the event. Craig McKinnon from Constant Screen Printing and Clothing (http://www.constantscreenprinting.com/) was there with a great “Rise Up” tee he designed for our event. Black Diamond was there and brought some really cool raffle prizes. The whole event seemed to have more space to talk and hang out before the movie, the feedback we got was all positive. We are in talks now with Vaughn at Pipeworks to do another film there soon!

At the CRAGS board meeting after the event we discussed how the sound could have been better for announcements and the raffle. Other then that the event was what we had hoped, a great success, which is only possible when many people come together to help. We would like to thank everyone who helped to make RR9 the great event it was and will continue to be. CRAGS welcomes all members of the climbing community to get involved by becoming a member or volunteering your time and resources for events like this. We value your feed back, so please feel free to share your experiences of the night. Tell us what you enjoyed, what we could do better, and how you can help.

2014 Adopt-a-CRAG Recap: we rocked!

(By CRAGS Board member Daniel Frederick.)  Volunteering is fun.

This year’s adopt-a-crag on October 16th at Lover’s Leap was fun. If you were there you know, but in case you missed it here is a recap.

This year’s adopt-a-crag really started on the Thursday before the event. CRAGS met up with The Access Funds Conservation Team, Mike and Amanda, at Pipeworks gym to table and tell people about the upcoming event. Mike and Amanda would be spending that night with two of our board members and heading up the next day. I asked them to save CRAGS a campsite.


The next day my climbing partner and I headed to the leap. Mike had saved us a spot, but they were not at their site. They were setting up a hoist system that we would be using the next day. We hung out a little that night and talked to both them about what they have been doing with Access Fund this year, which was a lot! If you want to see just go to their web page:  http://www.accessfund.org/site/c.tmL5KhNWLrH/b.7653393/k.AEEB/Conservation_Team.htm


Saturday was the event, and by 10:30 our group of volunteers was heading up to the upper trail and getting ready to repair the eroding hillside (except Jason who stayed behind and got the campground looking spiffy!). The hoist system that Mike and Amanda set up lifted large rocks from the tallis field and ferried the rocks up to the damaged trail through a pulley system. In about 5 hours we hauled close to 60 big rocks. The volunteers placed the rocks so that they would interlock on one another and by the end of the day 15 feet of trail had be saved and would last for decades.

GetAttachment-3  GetAttachment

The whole event had people working hard and getting to know one another. By the end of the day everyone went back to camp and started to get ready for the meet-and-greet at Strawberry Station. We had fajitas and drinks and just talked to all the new friends all of us had meet that day. After the food Mike from Access Fund ran a slide show of what they had been up to for the year so far. Then Petch (Local guide with Lovers Leap Guides: http://www.loversleap.net/) ran a slide show, with real slides! We raffled off some cool gear and prizes including a guided trip by Petch.


It was a full day, but there was still more! By 9pm most people had retired to their respective campsites. There was a pretty large group at Campsite 3, our communal space. Petch wanted to welcome Mike and Amanda to the Leap the right way so we headed for the bouldering area (Pope Rock) to do some tight squeeze-through without headlamps. We probably got about five other people to join the group on our way to the rock. It was a blast and really just a great example of the fun loving sprit of climbing community.

All in all it was truly a fun experience. It reminded me of the adage the more you put in, the more you get out. We hope you can join us at the Leap in 2015 to finish what we didn’t get to last time.  It is a great volunteer experience. Look for updates about our annual adopt-a-crag on this site and on Facebook.

A Beginners Guide to Climbing in the Sacramento Region, by Shannon Haslinger

Once the cold and rainy season passes, the outdoors begs to be explored. There’s something mystical about being out in the wilderness, whether it’s having a picnic alongside a sandy white river bed, watching the sunrise over mountaintops, or hiking a trail speckled with wildflowers and redwoods. Being outside in the wilderness provides an avenue to mental well-being. In the words of American environmental writer Edward Abbey, “Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread.”

Anyone spending time in nature, even for a short length, has the potential of finding tranquility.
Rock climbing is one avenue of connection to Mother Earth. Climbing is an incentive to explore some of the beautiful places in the world, an avenue to push mental, emotional and physical strength, and a “chance to learn about yourself by venturing beyond the confines of the modern world,” according to the book, Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills.

While rock climbing has inherent risk, CRAGS, or Climbing Resource Advocates for Greater Sacramento’s Vice President Daniel Fredrick points out, “There’s an inherent danger within the sport, no doubt, but if you do it right, you can really minimize that stuff. And the whole point of it is to have a good time.” Besides, CRAGS Board President and Executive Director Angie Clifford adds, “We are blessed to live in one of the best places for rock climbing in the world.”

So once winter has passed, take advantage of the warmer months — the sunshine and blooming scenery. Step outside and experience some of the notable beginner climbs within the greater Sacramento Valley and Tahoe vicinity. Four expert-recommended crags are within an hour-to two-hour drive for beginners wanting to experience nature and learn the basics of four different climbing styles.

Not a beginner? No problem. Every crag mentioned has climbing and bouldering grades ranging from 5.4 to 5.13a and V0 to V9+, so there’s something for every level of climber.
Of course, experts advise, never climb without an experienced climber, always wear a helmet, and stay well hydrated and nourished.

1. Top Rope: Donner Summit

Donner Summit, also known as Donner Pass, is in the Tahoe vicinity, and with a drive time of nearly two hours is the farthest crag on this list. Accessible off the 8o East Soda Springs exit past the ski areas, the stunning sun-drenched view of Donner Lake and the mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe creates a picturesque climbing area that won’t disappoint. Climbers can park their cars at the Donner Lake overview parking area, walk across the street, and hike to the underbelly of the old bridge to the top of the cliff to access these recommended crags.

Peak times to climb Donner Pass are once the snow melts and roads open, around mid-to-late April all the way through early November, so climbing here depends on the weather. With an elevation of 7,000 feet, it is also possible to have a summertime storm, so come prepared.

Donner Pass’ granite surface has some of the most easily accessible top rope climbing for beginners, weather permitting. While Mountain Project (mountainproject.com) shows 34 top rope climbing areas at Donner Pass, first time or entry-level climbers should head to the Green Phantom Rock and the Grouse Slab crags where easier routes can be found.

Green Phantom Rock is a small cliff located near the old arching bridge at the top of the Donner Summit climbing areas, according to Mountain Project. With great views of Donner Lake and six top rope routes — grades 5.4 to 5.10d — this is a crag for beginners and experienced climbers.

The easiest route, a 5.4 called Phantom Crack Far Left, is a lichen-covered slab to the left of the Phantom Staircase climbs, a flat-topped rock underneath the bridge. According to experts, Phantom Crack Far Left is easily accessible and provides, respectively, one of the easiest top rope climbs in the area.

For a more challenging route, try Phantom Staircase Left, found up and to the right of Phantom Crack Far Left. This 5.8+ route is a place for beginners to practice footwork.

For a different climbing area within the vicinity, head to Grouse Slabs, “a fun slab with a mix of everything, and a good place to get away from the crowds,” claims Mountain Project. At Grouse Slabs, beginners can practice crack climbing as well as traditional climbing as the top rope routes are difficult and complex.

2. Lead: Cave Valley Climbing Area

The Cave Valley Climbing Area, known by climbers as the Auburn Cliffs and the Auburn Rock Quarry, is within the boundaries of the Auburn State Recreation Area and is the closet crag from the heart of Sacramento — approximately 30 miles northeast. But climbing at the Auburn Quarry wasn’t always permitted.

Access Fund, a national climbing advocacy organization, highlighted in its August 10, 2012 online Press Release, efforts being taken to lift the California Department of Parks and Recreation April 2003 ban “prohibiting technical rock climbing in the park due to safety and management concerns.” Aware of the unique climbing opportunity in the Auburn Quarry, CRAGS, in conjunction with Access Fund, raised money to re-establish climbing access and provide necessary maintenance. Eighteen days after the press release, Access Fund published online “Auburn Quarry Fundraising Goal Met,” stating that the nine-year climbing ban was lifted: The California Department of Parks and Recreation approved an agreement signed by CRAGS and California’s Auburn State Recreation Area detailing CRAGS’ responsibility to establish and maintain basic services at the Quarry.

With climbing re-established climbers can experience remarkable scenery and history. Situated along the middle fork of the American River, the area boasts a beautiful cave embedded with prehistoric fossils and a culturally rich area from Native Americans through the gold mining era, according to REI Outdoor Programs Sierra Market Manager Jason Flesher. The rock cliffs can be accessed after a flat one-mile hike or bike ride alongside the river and the area itself can’t be missed — limestone walls jet up to about 300 feet tall, and the cliff tops are speckled with trees.
If the leisurely eight-minute bike ride along the American River and massive climbing walls doesn’t seem enticing, consider climbing the unique-to-the-West-Coast horizontal limestone wall.

For beginners, the Auburn Quarry is an excellent area to learn lead climbing. CRAGS and REI’s Jason Flesher recommend the short 50-foot introductory wall on the left — called the Scale Wall — as you immediately approach the area.
“All those climbs are great introductory beginner climbs,” states Flesher. “And the nice thing is the grade progresses from left to right, so you can just keep leap-frogging and moving to your right as you like.”

Though CRAGS re-established access to the crag year-round, be aware of the limestone-generated heat in the summertime, and plan for a morning or late-afternoon climbing adventure. The area gets crowded during the weekends, so a beginner’s best bet is to find time during the weekday to access this crag.

3. Bouldering: Deer Creek Park

This bouldering area, once a granite quarry, is a part of the small community park nestled in the heart of Rocklin. Albeit a small area with roughly 50 problems, granite quarried at Deer Creek was used for the state Capitol building, San Francisco’s city hall and parts of the Central Pacific Railway. In addition to climbing on pieces of history, the 15- to 25-foot high granite rock formations provide an excellent opportunity to learn bouldering.
In fact, Deer Creek is where Sacramento County Park Ranger John Havicon used to teach beginner rock climbing to 10-12 years olds in the County’s former Junior Ranger Program. Havicon says the area “[is] easier to get to, and there are a lot of good granite boulders for some basic bouldering.”

Problems at this crag range from V0 to V8+ making it ideal for the beginner, intermediate and advanced climbers. While the traffic from the street can be noisy, the shade cover at Deer Creek is what draws climbers to the area; it makes climbing possible even during warmer days. Beginners should head to the front of the park, facing Pacific Street, and try the problems on the shaded 15-foot high boulder called Pacific Street Wall. Most notable are the VOs Inch and a Half Crack, The Warm Up, and Crack Face. According to Havicon, there are also beginner top rope opportunities that are great for learning basic climbing and rappelling.

To get there, take I-80 East for about 30 minutes and exit Rocklin Road. Then head west for about a mile, turning left on Pacific Street. Go down about ¼ of a mile, and the park will be on the right. While there’s no street parking, employees of the neighboring Goodyear Tire store occasionally allow climbers to park their cars in back. If not, take the first right on Farron where ample parking can be found. Bring a crash pad and a spotter/experienced climber for safety at this crag.

4. Traditional: Lover’s Leap

Head east on Highway 50 towards Placerville to the town of Strawberry, Calif., for this last crag — Lover’s Leap. Once in the town of Kyburz, Mountain Project suggests turning off the freeway onto the small route on the right that parallels the highway on the far side of the Strawberry Lodge. If only one day is spent at the crag, climbers can park at the end of the Strawberry Lodge parking lot loop. Climbers staying more than a day can camp at a developed first-come-first-served campground not far from the Lodge.

Lover’s Leap’s 250- to nearly 600-feet high vertical granite walls contains hundreds of cracks and horizontal dikes, according to Mountain Project. The website contends, “These dikes are key to reducing what would otherwise be very steep and difficult traditional routes, into routes with good rests and abundant holds, resulting in an area with relatively moderate grades.”
With over 250 climbing routes that range in technique and difficulty, experts agree that Lover’s Leap is a great area to climb.
According to Kenny Williams, Climbing Wall & Group Facilitation Coordinator at the WELL, Sacramento State University’s wellness facility, the crag is “a famous classic place that even experts climb … and there’s some great routes to do your first trad climb on as well.”

So for beginners, the easier routes at Lover’s Leap makes the complex and increasingly technical traditional or “trad” climbing more manageable.
CRAGS Board President and Executive Director Angie Clifford recommends Hogs Back when learning trad climbing because “they’re shorter climbs and the grades go as low as 5.5.” According to Mountain Project, the two beginner 5.5 routes at Hogs Back are Manic Depressive Direct and Knapsack Crack.

Beginners wanting to learn how to safely and property learn trad climbing should know that Lover’s Leap boasts “the highest concentration and numbers of routes in close proximity to each other than any other crag in California,” states to Mountain Project. This means climbing can be crowded in certain areas and especially in the summertime, so be prepared to wait. But the wildlife surrounding these crags beckons to be explored.

Here’s a final expert-given tip: “As a beginner, just climb. Keep climbing and your learning curve will be really fast … climbing is your best training. As far as your skills, you know, it’s great to have a gym to go to where you can form relationships and also learn the very basics of what our language is, and from there just don’t be afraid to ask questions.” Williams is right. Beginners looking to make connections with climbers of all levels and experience indoor climbing should check out Sacramento’s top-rated climbing gym, Pipeworks.

Shannon Haslinger
Shannon Haslinger is a freelance writer and former editorial intern for Comstock’s. While working in higher education, she returned to her first love — the written word. As a cultural historian and outdoor aficionado, she writes on a broad range of topics.

Photo by Logan Fessler

“Living My Dream?” Guest Article by Alex’s Mom

Living my Dream?

by Dierdre Wolownick
aka Alex’s mom

Each time I tried to suck in the thin air at ten thousand feet, I felt as if I were drowning. My thighs burned from the grueling, talus-strewn approach, but not as badly as my lungs. I spend my days, my weeks, my years, at a desk or in front of a classroom. The hardest work my lungs ever do is to ensure that the kid in the back corner can hear me.

What was left of my air supply was being whipped away by the fierce wind that tried to topple us each time we reached another notch on the seven-mile hike in.

IMG_0509Mt. Conness looms large at 12,000 feet — much larger than it seemed in any photos. It was a monster I wasn’t prepared for. But this was my idea, my climb. Each year since I started climbing five years ago, my son, Alex Honnold, has guided me up something spectacular (to me; he never puts on his climbing shoes when we go together). I dream about it, choose it as a goal, and he makes it happen.

The west ridge of Conness, about 12 pitches, 1,500 feet of 5.6 climbing, is breath-takingly exposed. Photos don’t do that justice, either. Alex tied in and headed up the tilted, knife-edge ridge like a mountain goat, skipping from edge to edge. My friend Andrew tied in about 25 feet above me, and I tied in at the end. Knowing that Mom is slow, Alex usually simul-climbs with me — none of that pesky, time-consuming anchor building or belay-station gear exchange.

from belowBy about the 5th pitch, I heard the first rumblings of thunder. Climb faster. More thunder, a bit closer. Climb faster. No food. No stopping for water, or anything. When Alex and Andrew moved, I moved.

On a ridge like Conness, climbers are completely exposed. Even if we lay down against the rock, we’d be taller than anything around us. No shelter, no competition for the lightning strikes. Climb faster. I knew in my soul that if any of us did get zapped, it would be because I was slowing them down. Climb faster.

When we were in sight of the summit, the lightning started in earnest. Far, but regular. Closer to each thunder roll. For years I’d dreamed of signing the summit register, but when we got there we were moving so fast, so urgently, that I didn’t care about that. My only concern was to not get anyone killed by forcing them to be out there when the lightning struck our little piece of rock.

As we headed down, the hail began bouncing hard off our hoods — noisy, pelting hail making everything slippery. As we passed through one of the notches, we headed down into a thick cloud. Inside it, the little visibility was lit up now and then by lightning.

Then the hail became incessant, driving rain, which got colder and more insistent until we arrived, hours later, at Alex’s van.
Sound like fun yet?

still smilingDreams are like that. Sometimes they’re fun, sometimes they’re nightmares — but you can learn a lot from both. I would do Conness again in a heartbeat! It’s an exhilarating climb, accessible in terms of climbing skills, a challenge in terms of headspace and endurance. Especially endurance!
I’ve explored climbing dreams with the Access Fund in the northeast (NY and NH), and stretched my beginning skills and my acceptance and tolerance of risk and exposure there, in France, and with my son in the Sierra Nevada. Mt. Conness was a dream I’d had for years, ever since I first saw it on line. It has come true, but in a scenario not even remotely like the one I’d imagined! Someday I’ll imagine it again, and make it real in a different, sunnier, friendlier way. Maybe with Alex, maybe not.

The main ingredient in that plan, though, is to keep dreaming. If you can dream it, you can do it. I’ve proved that many times, with my son and with friends, and hope to go on proving it.

Live your dream — the best advice.


Coming Soon – Reel Rock 9: Valley Uprising

“In its ninth year, the REEL ROCK Film Tour features a special presentation of the highly-anticipated feature-length film “Valley Uprising.”

The greatest untold story of American counterculture is that of the Yosemite Valley rock climbers. For the past fifty years, Yosemite’s massive cliffs have drawn explorers and madmen to leave materialism behind and venture onto the high, lonesome granite. The larger-than-life characters of Yosemite carved out an “extreme bohemian” lifestyle in the Valley, living on red wine and boiled potatoes, clashing with National Park authorities, and pioneering the boldest climbs on Earth. The torch has been passed down across three generations of climbers; through rivalries, tragedies and triumphs, the art of Yosemite climbing has advanced beyond anyone’s imagination. Valley Uprising is the riveting, unforgettable tale of this bold tradition: half a century of struggle against the laws of gravity – and the laws of the land.

As you wait for the shows, read more about Valley Uprising in one of these articles:

Valley Uprising Nostalgic

“Valley Uprising” tells Yosemite climbers’ classical-versus-punk tale

Valley Uprising Tells the Tale of Climbing’s Rogue Heroes — and its Conflicts

CRAGS will be putting on two shows:

Sacramento Pipeworks – Saturday, September 20th.
116 North 16th Street – Sacramento, CA 95811
Doors at 7 pm, tickets $15. All proceeds will benefit local Access Fund affiliate, CRAGS. Pre-sale tickets will NOT be available at the gym, but can be purchased at the door or go to:


Davis Senior High School
Brunelle Performance Hall – Friday, October 17th.
315 W. 14th Street – Davis, CA 95616
Doors at 7 pm, showtime at 7:30.
Tickets are $12 – available for purchase at Rocknasium, by phone at 530.757.2902
OR online at Eventbrite!


See you there!!




Auburn Quarry Now Open 7 Days a Week!

Thanks to the efforts of our fantastic volunteers, we’ve passed the probationary period and now the Quarry has been opened indefinitely; Auburn will now be open seven days a week to climbing!  We have worked so hard to open and maintain Auburn, it is time to celebrate the fruits of our labor with climbing and festivities!

We held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 5th this year
Thanks to Jerry Dodrill for his awesome photos!

CRAGS – Auburn Quarry Open Ceremony from Red Rascal Films on Vimeo.

In April, we filmed the opening ceremony at the Auburn Quarry for an outdoor non-profit organization called CRAGS (Climbing Resource Advocates for Greater Sacramento). The local organization was founded in 2008 by a group of determined climbers who share a passion for rock climbing outdoors and protecting the places that have available climbing. They're affiliated with both local and national organizations such as Rocknasium Climbing Gym, Pipeworks, Constant Clothing, Access Fund, and The American Alpine Club, which are all equal advocates for preserving these places for climbers.

We were very honored to film a highlight video for the organization. Everyone was very appreciative of the effort put in by all parties, and it was impressive to see everyone come together to make this climbing spot available to the public. After years of determination and working with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the quarry's Cave Valley climbing area is now open. (The approach isn't far at all!) There seems to be routes for all climbing levels too.

Families from young to old were going up the limestone walls with a smile. We even met Alex Honnold's mom!

This year also marks 150 years of celebrating national parks, and it is good to see the work for access to outdoor areas paying off in the enjoyment of so many people.

If you would like to learn more about CRAGS or become a member today, please visit their website www.norcalcrags.com.

Music licensed by SongFreedom.
Mikey Wax – "Counting on You"

“Climb for CRAGS” Fundraiser a Success!

Recently, local Sacramento State students Clint Vannasing and Nou Yang hosted a fundraiser called “Climb for CRAGS” at Sacramento Pipeworks Climbing & Fitness. The event was a success and raised $469.50 for our organization. HUGE THANKS to everyone that participated!

Here is a list of people that were involved with the event and its sponsors:


Cassie Churchill
Lor Vang
Bao Vue
Bundy Wilde
Pearon Tep
Amy Voong
Debbie Xiong
Chong Xiong
Jeremy Bruder
Yana Razumovksy

Climbing Sponsorship (In order by most amount)

Trevor Wagner
Jimmy Leedom
Meredith Budlong & Chris Zanardi
Dennis Ho
Daniel Chia Vang Foundation
Valarie Regner
Kenny Williams

Donations (In order by most amount)

Lauren Gan
Lyle Clint Susa
Julius Fiscus
Kao Sean Saevang
Kia Yang

Gift Donations

Trader Joe’s
RMA (Recreation Majors Association)
Blue Diamond