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Traveling, living, loving, exploring and trying to make some semblance of sense out of this crazy world.  


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Eagle Rocks: the unofficial guide

Eagle Rocks

This formation is one of the icons of the canyon, and is located just 2.2 miles from the Route 220 intersection on the south-east end of the canyon.  Opposite the campground entrance is the grave of William Eagle, Revolutionary War hero and local legend.

Eagle Rocks is a cluster of vertical limestone fins jutting from the flanks of Cave Mountain.  The Rocks are blessed with a plethora of cracks, aretes, dihedrals, and faces, vaguely reminiscent of Seneca in much the same way that the Tetons are reminiscent of breasts.  The 10th Mountain Division trained and climbed here, as had God knows how many brave little naked red hunters and local sweethearts; exposed to the elements and subject at any time to any of a number of sudden, perhaps catastrophic geological changes.  

The Rocks are covered with semi-detached flakes, stacks of loose stone, precariously-balanced blocks the size of stoves.  Trees, debris, and indeed entire large portions of the numerous faces can and will fall off without provocation or warning.  Apparently-solid rock can suddenly fracture and plunge earthward, taking you with it and sucking your belayer right through the first quickdraw.  Massive sections of the talus slope below can shift or collapse without warning, including sections which have until then been stable for years, centuries even.  

Trails were established by whitetail deer, black bear, local climbers and other unstable forms of indigenous life, and cannot be counted on not to hurl you to a painful and untimely death or even to get you to the crag and back again without winding up like the Donner party. 

Venomous snakes, stinging insects, biting animals, and vicious plants can and likely will attack you for absolutely no discernible reason, at any time, anywhere.  Being outside is a risky business, and you probably shouldn't do it if you are unwilling or unable to accept those risks as your own responsibility.

Climbing Eagle Rocks is especially dangerous, for the reasons noted above and many, many more.  The face is spotted with old pins and ring angles left behind by soldiers before the Second World War, some of them psychotic killers, many of them unstable young men terrified by the enormous exposure and pushed to the limits of sanity by bad food, homesickness, venereal disease contracted from local girls, abuse from overbearing homophobic drill instructors and the challenge of trying to follow driving instructions from the locals.  Almost all of them arrived and departed equally inexperienced in the placement of protection (thus the venereal diseases).  A few, like Fred Becky, went west and figured it out way up in Leavenworth, WA or out in the Sierras. 

More modern gear like rappel anchors, face bolts, and cold shuts may have been and likely was installed by drug-addled, brain-damaged trad climbers with a pathological resentment of gymbies and newcomers, deeply-seated antisocial issues, no sense of personal safety or respect for the sanctity of human life, and an addiction to Seneca Indian Pale Ale. 

(Of course the author has no personal knowledge of this possibility.)

No anchor, bolt, piton or ring angle should be trusted to save your life.  Of course, removing these items, as well as found biners, gear laying on ledges or left in cracks and pockets or anything else that you didn't bring with you constitutes reckless endangerment, vandalism, destruction of private property, and theft and the landowners as well as the NFS will likely prosecute to the fullest extent of the law. 

Don't steal our stuff.  Not our hardware, not our beta, not our projects, and not our gear.  Lynching is socially embarrassing, and prison is a bad place, worse even than Eagle Rocks, and you don't want to go there.  The coffee is horrible, there's no Net Flix, and room service is something you really don't want.

While Eagle Rocks are private property, the family which owns it is pretty casual about access.  They are also pretty casual about having the aging outhouses pumped or picking up trash or mowing.  Camping is pick your spot and do as you please, fees are collected sporadically, usually late in the morning, by the aging landowner.  Climbing is your call and your liability: you cross the river, you take responsibility for yourself.

There is no real record of who first climbed the trad and aid lines of Eagle Rocks, or indeed much of Smoke Hole.  Every first ascent is a theoretical first ascent in an area so devoid of shared knowledge and so commonly visited by strong climbers in the early days of climbing. What records do exist have rarely been available to anyone except the close personal friends of the Seneca Rocks guiding community, and requests for information are a fine way to waste a rainy morning or fill a gap in the conversations on the front porch. 

(For an example of this need-to-know attitude, ask the guides how they are getting into Champe Rocks.) 

Routes listed are those the author has climbed, names given are for reference and to avoid endlessly calling everything “Unknown #13”.  Route descriptions begin with the West End (the left side of the front, in other words).

West End

The West End of Eagle consists of Little Eagle, a small buttress, adjoining The Chimney Face, a corner of ledges and incredibly featured (and fractured) faces, culminating in a wide, rotten chimney running the entire height of Eagle Rock.  

Undoubtedly, this face has seen many fine epics, ascents, and retreats, but there has been little to no consistent record keeping of these milestones.  The author has rapped, top-roped, and even led portions of this face, and recommends strongly that anyone choosing to set out on the sharp end climb extensively on other Eagle lines or on rock of the same quality and composition before attempting what you think will be a new line.  

A wealth of moderate and horrifying routes alike can be winnowed from the cracks and faces of the corner.  Several long cracks split the right side of the dihedral, with tons of loose and/or low-quality rock, rotten cracks, bee’s nests that stay active year round, poison ivy, and everything else that goes with the term “epic climb”.  

It is also important to remember that, lichen and loose rock aside, few if any “new” trad lines remain to be plucked on such a prominent feature so close to the road. 

Little Eagle**** (5.7PG, natural anchors, pro to 3 inches, 55 feet.  Climb the short, featured river face of the small pillar formation at the far left (downstream) end of Eagle Rocks.  At mid-height, move up right to a vegetated ledge below a face, make a few unprotected moved to easier ground and a fantastic finish.  Rap from boulders or walk off.

To the right (upstream), is the South Face.

South Face
Karma Cracks***** (5.9 R/PG, gear to 6 inches, anchors at belay stations 1 and 3, 285 feet)  (P1) 40’ from the left end of the formation base, up and left of the steps leading up from the old road, climb a short grungy face to a ledge, usually inhabited by poison ivy to some degree or other.  Move up and left to a stance with a two bolt ring anchor.  45‘  (P2) Move up and left into an obvious slot on the face above, which leads into a wide crack snaking up a clean face.  Climb several exciting moves up and right where the wide crack ends to gain another good crack.  Climb this to a stance at a pine tree in a beautiful corner to end on the Original Route, or climb up and left to gain a wide ledge with a beautiful cedar tree and the featured end of the fin.  100‘  (P3 Original Route) Climb the corner to a vegetated ramp/ledge that climbs steeply up and right towards the top of the main formation, ending at a set of rings on a fin of rock above the crack that ends Welcome to Eagle Rocks. 65 feet   (P4 Silhouette Variation) From the ledge with the cedar climb the sweet cracks and face of the West End to the top and traverse the knife edge to anchors.

The Original Route**** (5.6R/PG) - From the road, the corner that leads to the final crack is fairly obvious.  From the ground, it can be harder to find.  Begin in a low angle, left-facing dihedral, which can get pretty vegetated in spring and summer.  Move up into steeper and hopefully cleaner climbing in the long, moderate dihedral, moving right to gain the Welcome mid-face station or belaying from the gear placements and stance of your choice. Gain the ledge below the final crack and follow classic moves to the top.

Welcome to Eagle Rocks***** (5.8 R/PG, gear to 4 inches, rings, 190 feet)-  Near the center of the West Face, about 30 feet right of the steps up from the old road, begin in a right-facing corner formed by a huge flake/ramp.  (P1) Boulder up to access a ledge with a column of freestanding blocks leading to a left-facing dihedral/flake.  Climb classic flake and stemming with slightly runout pro to finally gain a ledge with two trees and a comfortable stance at ring anchors in the middle of the face.  100 feet.  Enjoy a snack, shoot some pictures, or just swap gear and head into (P2) Move left around the loose flakes overhead to gain a corner and flakes.  Climb enjoyable flake and face moves up to a ledge below a slot/crack.  Climb the slot and crack to a stance up and right at ring anchors. 90 feet. 

Patriot Games**** (5.8 R, gear to 4 inches, natural anchors/shared, 190 feet)  From the end of the first pitch of Welcome, climb up and right to gain a series of corners, ledges, and detached flakes.  Climb flakes and corners past old ring pins to gain a stance just below the flag and notch in the face near fading graffiti ED.  Move up thru rattley flakes and ledges to end at a walk off or 4th class around the top to gain the rap anchors above the Notch or (this is actually free-soloing- stay roped up!)  the anchors of Welcome.

Kimmel’s Corner**** (5.8, gear to 4 inches, 80 feet) - Instead of starting on the Welcome column and corner, move right 20 feet and climb the long flake and face to eventually gain the mid-face belay ledge.  Beware loose blocks just before you reach the belay. 

William’s Way**** (5.5 R/PG, gear to 4 inches, 300 feet) - Climb the first pitch of Obvious Direct.  At the mid-face belay, wander up and right, across mainly 4th class ledges, to gain the Notch and more 4th class terrain.  Switchback, free solo and scramble up through the Notch to the top.

Local stories hold that a Native American local used to climb this route every year on the 4th of July, to commemorate William Eagle’s ascent of the rock in search of an eagle’s nest and a lost lamb.

The Notch and Eastern Buttress
At the center of the formation, a large Notch divides the South Face from the Eastern Buttress.  At the base of this feature, a crack/dihedral accesses the 4th class terrain and faces above. 

Notch Direct*** (5.8+ PG, gear to 4 inches, natural anchors, 100 feet) - Climb the crack through a small overhang, then follow cracks and corners up and right.  Chase 4th class ledges back and forth to the top or climb the surprisingly challenging faces at the center of the Notch.  Exit via rap anchors on the back of the fin to the right (east) of the Notch.

This entire section of the cliff is a drain for the face and ridge above.  It can get pretty tangled with fallen branches and leaves, and stay wet for long after the other faces have dried.  Beware of snakes and bees.

Notch Indirect** (5.7PG, gear to 4 inches, natural anchors, 100 feet) Boulder/scramble up left from the base of the crack, through easier to climb but harder to protect terrain, until you reach a vegetated ledge.  Move right back into the original corner.

Just left of the Notch is a surprisingly flat, high-angle slab face.  A line of bolts ascends this face to a set of ring anchors.  This is the Begoon-Hensley Route.

Begoon-Hensley**** (5.11, 6 bolts, ring anchors, 65 feet) Thirty feet right of the Notch, a clean greenish face sports a single line of bolts.  Follow ripples and grooves past 6 bolts to reach the anchors.  While this is a bolted route, it is NOT a sport line.  The anchor was installed by the author after the tree originally used fell off in a storm.

Orange Dihedral**** (5.9PG, gear to 4 inches, natural anchors, 135 feet) To the right of the Begoon-Hensley route, the face ends in an overhanging cave-like formation, leading into a left-facing dihedral.  Climb the dihedral to a small slab ledge with a tree, and belay there (no bolted anchors), or run it on up to the summit and rappel with two ropes from trees, or from the anchors on the back of the fin about 50 feet west or downstream.  You can also walk about 75 feet east (upstream, towards Cave Mountain) and come around the end of the entire formation to scramble down through deep leaves and forest back to the base.  This line often has poison ivy growing in the middle of the long first pitch.

There are numerous small faces to the left (south) of the Orange Dihedral that can be set up as top ropes or leads.  Beware all the usual hazards: poisonous and thorny vegetation, loose rock, snakes and bees, and sketchy protection.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Reason Lies Far From Home

"Seriously ill persons who need marihuana to treat their symptoms are forced to choose between their health and their liberty. If they choose their health, they must go to significant lengths to obtain the marihuana they need, including lengthy trips to purchase the drug, resort to the black market, and living with the constant stress that at any time they could be subject to criminal prosecution.

These already sick individuals must further cope with the added stress of the stigma and social rejection of friends, family and members of the public who see them as criminals.

This is not to mention the real fear of losing one's doctor simply by inquiring about the drug and damage to the patient-doctor relationship."

While our Supreme Court refuses to even entertain evidence to change the scheduling of cannabis, Ontario's Supreme Court struck down all that province's medical marijuana laws until such time as the government sees fit to create a functioning structure instead of an obstacle course.  The Court put the Government on 30-day notice to resolve the issue before the law took effect.

Hey, Mister Obama, assorted Justices... Why don't we "create a path" for citizens to get their meds, like Ontario, before we worry about giving away any more jobs or spending money instead of making it?


Doc Goodwack- WV 's Unknown Hardman

There's this guy I know, have known for what seems like half of forever.  A few inches past 6 feet tall, he has a wide smile, an open manner and a straightforward delivery, in an unmistakable Southern accent, gesturing eloquently and making eye contact with every listener when he gives directions or beta or relates some hilarious construction tale or heinous epic in one of WV's many lost corners.

He's pretty quiet, keeps to himself, mostly, although at the crags he's usually noteworthy for the fact that he's one of the only people you will see actually working on the trail or replacing worn-out hardware at the routes, without Access Fund banners, a free T-shirt, or a horde of networking Facebook friend participants and their dogs.  You might also note that his is one of the few rides pumping serious metal as it rolls in or out of the crag... no Dave Matthews here, ladies. If it ain't metal, it's crap.

He is a master home builder and expert carpenter who has done more work for poor people for little or nothing than most Habitat for Humanity offices.  He is also an expert on the Shaw Brothers' kung fu films, and an ardent fan of science fiction and action movies, good cooking, beautiful women, motocross and the Colt AR-15.

He is a patriot in a country that has almost forgotten the real meaning of that word; a man who has stood by his ideals and what he calls The System; the way things should be done when putting up new routes, building trail, or traveling in the outside world.

This is my friend Mike Fisher, aka Doc Goodwack, the creator of some of Franklin Gorge's classic pumpfests; Two Blind Mice, A Moment of Clarity, Persephone, the fun Jump Start and the thuggish Davy Jones' Locker, as well as Pendelton County five star lines like Hunter's Moon, Shaolin Mantis, Apophus, Slight of Hand and Defenders of the Faith.  He's the man who introduced me to the key principles of the Fisher Manuals, inking them inside the front cover of my "Rockingham County Climber's Guide":

1.  Eat meat every day.
2.  Drink good wine or ale every day.
3. Work hard, play hard, go to bed hard and wake up hard.
4.  Accept NO STUDENTS!

Together, we've built miles of trail and put up somewhere in the neighborhood of 45 routes, sport and trad, many of them ground-up in bitter conditions on occasionally horrifying rock.  There are harder climbers in the region, but they don't build much trail or take the time to carefully craft high-quality routes anywhere outside "The Scene", and since most of them make a paycheck from climbing, one could view their involvement as just a trifle self-serving.

In sharp contrast to 95% of the climbers in the world, Mike Fisher has always tried to give as much to climbing as he has gotten from climbing.  He has raised the bar and never compromised his integrity to simply slap in another poorly cleaned/bolted 5.12 or impress anyone.

The Master at work: Mike Fisher focusing his chi on the first ascent of La Machina

And because I know that that few others have, it's high time I said, publicly,

Thank you, Mister Fisher.

Climbing in our little corner of WV wouldn't be what it is today if it weren't for you. Trails at the crags, especially Franklin and Reed's, would long ago have faded back into the landslides they were when we started.  God knows, it wasn't until they saw us working on those trails that the Access Fund had ANY interest in West Virginia, outside New River and Seneca, and they're still incapable of matching, as an organization with hundreds of members, the work two of us have done with little or no support or fanfare.

Most of the best and/or hardest routes I know of have your name on them, and few of mine would exist without your input, belays, and constant encouragement to never stop trying.

I have been and will ever be your friend and student, my master.

Climb on.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Year In Motion, and Counting...

This post will continue to evolve as I add up different totals of materials used and think of tips for travelers.

On March 9, 2012, with my wife Cindy riding shotgun, co-pilot and navigator, I left behind a fantastic job with the Flagstaff Family Food Center in the northern Arizona city of Flagstaff and, with it, all the comforts of indoor living.  

We ate a fine dinner from the Food Center, then headed south through Jerome and Prescott as the moon rose, finally joining I-17 to reach Phoenix and make the run for Devils Canyon before sunrise.

This was not our first rodeo.

We left our longtime home in West Virginia on the July 4th holiday weekend of the previous year, camping our way across the west through most of the spring and summer of 2011.   After getting married in the tiny Chapel of the Holy Dove outside Flagstaff in August, we had spent the fall and winter months living indoors; moving into an apartment in September and starting two jobs in the same week; as a line cook for San Felipe's and a Bobcat operator for Flagstaff Snow Removal.

After five months in the furious rush of San Felipe's, I had applied for and landed the job of Operations Assistant at the Food Center; picking up donations, directing community service workers and volunteers, assisting the cooks, preparing and doing clean up in the facility before and after preparing meals for up to three hundred and fifty people.  With my lovely new bride, I'd weathered some tough times in those six months; crackhead neighbors, black mold, bedbugs, trying to find my way back into a young man's labor market on the verge of my 50th birthday and handling flare-ups of my wife's Multiple Sclerosis.

When serious news came back from the east, we were ready to break away, first heading to Joshua Tree, California for a week of high desert plateau sun and fantastic granite climbing, then camping on the rim of Northern Devil's Canyon, just outside Superior, Arizona, for another week of pulling down some serious desert dacite before being chased south and east by a two-foot snowfall.  

We spent the next two days outrunning microbursts and hailstorms while driving 2400 miles back to the east coast, there to deal with too many heartbreaks to list here.  We gratefully looked forward to our rendezvous with the annual migration of the Lyndon State College Outdoor Adventure Program, in Smoke Hole Canyon, a lost corner of heaven in West Virginia.  Jamie Struck was once again leading a group of enthusiastic students to the hills of the Allegheny to work on trails, climb our stellar stone, puzzle out our cruxes, explore our mountains and take something of God's country back north with them. 

The least we could do was meet up with them.

We spent five weeks building trail, taking photographs, climbing, visiting with family and friends, and polishing some of the details of the guidebook I'm writing and trying to publish.  We met a new class of Lionhearts, some of Lyndon State's finest young souls, saw our daughter Rebecca graduate from nursing school, and visited with Cindy's family in Ohio after her father's heart surgery.

On May 7th, we bid farewell, once again, to the green valleys and rolling mountains of the east, making the passage from Logan, Ohio to Colorado Springs in just over 72 hours (not bad for a couple of geezers in a thirteen-year-old S10 pickup truck full of gear).

After a bit of rest and recovery at the well-appointed home of our friend and brother, The Tall Man, we headed out to see more of this place called Colorado.

We camped and climbed and gaped our way through our allotted fourteen days in Boulder Canyon, clipped bolts and slung gear and in general loved every minute of Eleven Mile, then  hung out on for a week or three, working a handyman job and exploring the nearby hiking and climbing on BLM land surrounding the tiny pro-cannabis industry town of Nederland, Colorado.  

We lived at 10,500 feet amid moose and marmots at Brainard Lake Rec Area in the Front Range of the Rockies, jammed the splitters of Turkey Tail in the Platte and pulled on the crumbly granite of Buena Vista, Colorado. 

When we arrived at the entrance of the state park outside Gallup, New Mexico just seven minutes after closing time, we found the gates locked and no way to contact the host aside from waiting out the night, sleeping in our truck. Consequently, we finished the drive from Colorado Springs to Superior, Arizona in a single thirteen hour, eight hundred mile push. 

We've served as National Forest hosts and volunteers, line cooks and wait staff, restaurant management and janitors, dishwashers and landscapers, vagabonds and dumpster divers. We've dealt with divas and trophy wives, bureaucrats, boy scouts, high rollers and low riders, gangstas, cougars and crackheads.  We've eaten out of delicatessans, dumpsters and soup kitchens, enjoyed a midwinter bumper crop of desert produce and citrus from new friends and reveled in the simple luxury of a six-pack of brews or a CiCi's Pizza Buffet.

Most of our meals have been prepared on a single burner propane stove, requiring seventy fuel canisters over the last twelve months.  The stove, fuel cannister, steel 1 liter bottle for olive oil, french press, dish detergent, canola cooking spray, spatula, can opener, nesting pots and two bowls fit into cylindrical 4 gallon Igloo water cooler.  

Stove tip: an old metal bucket with the bottom rusted out makes a great windscreen for a Coleman single burner.  Raise on rocks for added venting or improved windscreening.  A rolled up ground pad will work, as well, but you will have to take care not to melt a hole in your sleeping arrangements.

We've brewed at least eighteen pounds of coffee, mixed it with about ten pounds of sugar and chocolate and creamer, brewed six pounds of assorted tea, eaten over twenty pounds of pasta, with ten gallons of sauce, gone through at least three gallons of olive oil, used roughly twenty pounds each of beans and rice, eight pounds of cheese, ten pounds of butter, filled about five hundred tortillas with everything from chili to peanut butter and honey, spread or spooned ten gallons of peanut butter, nearly as much honey and maple syrup, mixed about twelve pounds of pancake and biscuit mix, opened about eighty cans of chicken and tuna, and cooked over six cases of ramen noodles, as well as boiling about ten pounds of oatmeal with four pounds of raisins and three pounds of figs.  We learned to use solar energy to make tea, rice, pasta, and ramen noodles, saving on propane.

From that energy, we've pruned, built or repaired hundreds of yards of trail, shot sixty-four hundred plus photos and about nineteen hours of video, hiked over one hundred miles in exploration and climbed two hundred and six routes in four states, reuniting with old climbing partners Rich LeMal and Marty Karabin to create several new lines in the Pancake House of Upper Devils over the Thanksgiving holiday, as well as putting up four new sport lines (one bolted ground up) in five weekends over the 2012-13 Christmas and New Year's holidays, while revisiting and repeating a dozen of my old areas and lines in Northern Devil's Canyon.

Marty, Rich, and Cindy prepare Thanksgiving Dinner, Upper Devils Canyon, AZ

We've been through three tents, two from Coleman and one from Ozark Trails, and retired a Mountain Hardwear 2-man for anything except emergencies. 

Tip for tents:  standing room is nice, but a smaller tent means less wind resistance and fewer broken poles when those gales try to tumble your camp across the plateau no matter how much weight you put in it.  

Regular washings using a spray bottle and a wiping cloth will save the zippers from wearing out due to dust build-up, and a $20 tarp will save your $150 dollar rain fly from UV, falling twigs, hail, and ice.

We use an MSR water filter ($89 at Peace Surplus in Flagstaff, 'cuz we LOVE Local Businesses!), which field strips and cleans simply and quickly, and has pumped hundreds of liters of water without problems.  

A lot of folks have spoken in envy of their opinion that we are "living the dream."

Perhaps we are... if your dreams include hunger, arctic cold, gale force winds, ice and snow storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, baking heat, insect swarms, humidity, rats and/or mice gnawing the wiring of your vehicle and foodstores, wet feet, weeks between showers while living in the same clothes, or the reality check of dividing the number of packs of ramen noodles by the number of days til payday and coming up with a fraction.  

If you being dream of being looked down on and treated as a second-class citizen throughout your day, even in the "outdoor community",  and getting constant attention from police and Forest Service Law Enforcement (except, of course, when you need it, like when someone is shooting up your campground in the middle of the night), this is your dream.  

If you long to work for the cream of humanity, doing shit jobs for low pay just to make ends meet, worrying on a more or less constant basis about someone breaking into your truck or raiding your camp and leaving your destitute while you are doing this incredibly rewarding work, this is the life for you.

If you feel no sense of despair, realizing the distance between ethics and action, between conviction and commitment, or wondering why all the folks who will spend a weekend pub crawling or soaking up "the Scene" at a "destination crag" even bother with the mealy mouth protestations about "wanting to get out to the new crags", when they obviously have little or no interest in pushing the boundaries or exploring new ground without an entourage, you were born to live like us. 

In the end, among many other lessons we've learned on the road, my wife and I have realized that all the people who sound so envious are the same people who never seem to have time to come out for even a day or two to live a little of "The Dream" for themselves.  Reality is a potent remedy for delusion, and most folks cherish those delusions far too much to so simply cast them aside in favor of hard decisions and uncomfortable facts.

Maybe it takes some of the same discipline of spirit, the same deviant orientation and stubborn individualism that keeps us out here, despite all the inherent epics and suffering, to consistently seek out and develop new climbs and climbing areas.  

Maybe that's why there's never been a crowd at the cutting edge.  For all of its hardships, though, this is a life with many rich rewards, treasures beyond price for those who will find the lessons in hardship and adversity, and look for the beauty in even the most desolate of landscapes or desperate of existences.  

I have not always been able, but I have tried.

As of yesterday, March 9th, 2013, the POWER (Poor Old White Economic Refugee) Couple has lived on that edge, on the road, out of a truck and a series of tents, tarps, and shelters, in campgrounds and climber ghettos, on BLM, NFS and state trust land, from Joshua Tree, CA to Albemarle County, VA, for exactly one year. 

No "roughing it" with a brand-new pickup and sixteen-foot-long RV, no international corporate sponsors, no Access Fund, American Alpine or Sierra Club grants, no donations, no viral Go-Pro video, no Twitter account or fan base, no book signings... just putting up new lines, building and repairing trails, seeing all the places America has forgotten in the rush to the next big thing; keepin' it real, and livin' on love and a prayer.