Climbing the Grand Teton by Jillian Bukoski

In September I had the really cool opportunity to link up with a group called Paradox Sports, a non profit organization based in Boulder, Colorado. Paradox Sports provides opportunities for adaptive athletes to excel in all types of different sports including climbing! They offer trips in many locations from the Red River Gorge to Mt. Rainier. This time I would be joining them and also linking up with Exum Mountain Guides to climb the Grand Teton in Jackson, Wyoming.

The Grand Teton sits at 13,776 feet above sea level along the South and Middle Teton and was first climbed in 1872. Including all the route variations there is about 85 routes leading to the summit of the Grand. The most commonly used being the Upper Exum or Owen-Spalding route.

After a hot summer in San Diego, I was really excited to finally get back into the cool mountain air. Looking at flights you will find yourself taking out a second mortgage on your house to buy a plane ticket directly to Jackson Hole. Since I don’t own a house and my small dog isn’t worth much on Ebay, I chose to fly into Denver, Colorado. A difference in cost of about $600! After getting to Denver I took a bus to Boulder for about $14, which is probably your cheapest option for traveling between the two cities. After spending a quick night in Boulder, I met up with Tim Watts who works for Paradox Sports, and we began our 8 hour trek to Jackson Hole!

Jackson is a very striking town. It is a weird blend of old-school-western-cowboy and mountainous adventures. The main area in downtown Jackson has lots of cool, family owned restaurants, gift shops, galleries, and lots of mountain outfitting stores staffed with knowledgeable locals. Unlike a lot of touristy mountain towns, the people of Jackson are super friendly and welcoming to all travelers. Since we were spending a couple days bumbling around the local crags before setting off for the summit, we ended up spending a lot of time in downtown, which I recommend. Although it seems small, there is a lot to explore in the town itself, and I was happy to spend the time I did walking around and meeting cool Wyoming peeps.

Depending on your budget there are a couple options for lodging. There are some moderate hotels/motels in downtown, some more upscale hotels closer to the mountains, and then for the dirt poor climbers there is the American Alpine Club Ranch. Taking one of the only roads out of downtown, you wind through the valley towards the Teton Range before rolling up on the ranch. Situated below the Grand, the ranch boasts a main office cabin with lodging for the staff and their library, five or six lodging houses for guests, bathroom/shower house, laundry house, a small kitchen, and multiple picnic tables under a wooden canopy.

The lodging is hostel style with three bunk beds per room with a shared bathroom to the other side of the cabin. All in all it can be 12 people sharing one bathroom which can be…fun…and smelly. Luckily you can always choose to walk down the trail to the bathroom house if urgent nature calls. For the price we paid for our beds ($16) I expected to roll into a dirty bunk that reeked of old climbing shoes and wet socks that had been forgotten in the corner. I was really shocked to see that the ranch is comprised of really beautifully kept cabins. Probably the best hostel I will ever see. Even if you can afford to stay in one of Jackson’s five star hotels nothing can beat waking up directly below the mountains. I would recommend for everyone to stay here.

Our climbing group was comprised of four people: myself, my driving partner Tim who has climbed throughout the U.S. and Europe, Jason who is a medically retired veteran, and Matt who is an arm amputee. After meeting our Exum guides we split up into two groups. Since Tim and I both had climbing experience we went with our guide Annica so that we would be able to skip some of the more introductory lessons. Matt and Jason went with their guide who would spend the day giving them the run-down on what climbing was all about. Tim, Annica, and I all headed to Jenny Lake. Once you get to the lake you are able to take the ferry across to get to some climbing areas. If you are taking the ferry with guides there is no fee, but unguided climbers and hikers must pay for their ride. You can also hike your way around the lake, but it is about a six mile walk round trip.

After getting off the ferry, you hike up about fifteen minutes to get into the main area. Here you will see lots of guides with lots of clients learning lots of things. It can be a little overwhelming and seem a little commercialized, but the high density of really easy climbs here will lead to that. The three of us decided to get away from the herd and headed over to a much less used area called Baxter’s Pinnacle. To get there you walk about thirty minutes through the forest, and then walk up a pretty steep scree field to get to the base of the climbing. Hiking up scree is by far the worst thing I can imagine. Sometimes you take one step up and that is that or sometimes you take one step up and slide down six steps. Our guide Annica works for the ski patrol avalanche logistics during the winter, and taught us how to recognize the damage caused by avalanches through tree trunk formations and scree patterns. Once you start looking around you notice how many trees have rocks embedded within the trunks, and you begin to imagine how many avalanches have cruised through these forests.

After a getting a feel for the local climbing it was time to start our ascent. Word of the oncoming blizzard conditions had us wondering about our plan to spend a night on the saddle before summiting the next morning but we decided to stick to the original plan. We started out on a beautiful sunny day.The sky was clear and the temperature was perfect. Our hiking started off quick and painless which gave me a false sense of confidence that this was going to be a breeze. The hike up to the saddle is around eleven miles with six thousand feet of vertical elevation gain, half of which is the last mile or so. There’s plenty of water along the trail so there’s no need to carry a massive camelbak, just make sure to bring some sort of filtration. I opted to use a steri-pen which seemed to work fine.

The hike up to the lower saddle is one of the most beautiful hikes I have done. We made sure to take a long break at the meadows which is the last bit of life you will see before you get into the rocky, grey, alpine environment. From there on out it’s glaciers and gear eating marmots.

The last mile of hike will definitely make you question your life decisions, but as soon as you arrive at the saddle the views will reassure you that they were good decisions. Despite having good weather the whole day, as soon as we got to the saddle, the sky closed in and we were met with intense, frigid winds. Efforts to secure all of our gear took top priority over resting and eating some food. Twenty minutes later the temperature had a sudden drop and we were met with snow and hail. We all tried to layer up but the risk of things blowing away in the process left most of us seeking shelter from the wind inside the Exum hut where we were organizing all of our gear for the morning. Our plan was to wake up around 3 A.M. and do our summit push so it was pretty imperative to have everything ready to go so you weren’t looking for a sock with one eye open trying to guzzle down summit coffee.

All night the wind absolutely battered the hut which made all of us question the structural integrity of our shelter. Around 10PM the thunder and lightning started. Growing up in the mountains I have seen a lot of storms, but never have I heard anything like this thunder. It was absolutely deafening. Realizing I desperately had to go to the bathroom I started to get myself together to head outside without stepping on everyone in the hut…which was a fail. Without being able to find my headlamp but too tired to look for it I headed outside. The second I opened the door the wind flew the door open, and for the life of me I couldn’t get it closed without the help of the guides. Saying a quick prayer I headed out into the storm. There is something to be said for how absolutely beautiful a storm could be. I was standing at almost 12,000’ in a snow/thunder/lightning/hail/wind/hell storm and it was the most striking thing I have ever witnessed. I noticed a fellow camper had also taken the time to admire it.

Upon making eye contact she told me she was unsure where the bathroom area was since everything was now covered in snow. Without wanting to spend more time than necessary outside we walked as far as we could and then found out how fun it is to pee outside in heavy wind. Running back to the hut, I walked into everyone moving more into the middle to avoid having contact with the steel frame since the lightning had become so bad. As I drifted off to sleep I wondered what the morning would be like.

Some hours later I woke up and looked at my watch to notice that it was 7 AM. Way past our desired leave time. As we all started to stir, our guides started asking about our experience using crampons, ice climbing, etc. We decided myself, Tim, and one of our guides would be the only ones leaving for the summit. As we started to get ready, the hut satellite phone received a call that two boys have been missing for two days somewhere on the Grand. They only registered for a day hike, and their parents had told the park service that they left without any kind of bivy gear or clothing that was meant for the weather conditions we experienced the night before. As soon as the word came in all the guides on the lower saddle quickly went into what I would describe as rescue mode. One had binoculars out looking all over the routes, two others had left with climbing gear, and others began a search while one was on the phone with the local SAR. Any hopes I had of reaching the summit that day were gone as there was now a much more important role for our guides to play.

With no sight of the boys and the weather turning worse we knew we had to start heading down or we were going to be spending another night up here. By the time we were ready to leave the weather had worsened, and you could tell the guides were beginning to get anxious. What had been friendly and light-hearted now became pretty serious. There were about seven guides all together at the lower saddle who wanted to continue searching for the boys so every client was to head down with just one. Our descent was as fast as possible and it all kind of felt like a blur. I was freezing, soaking wet, and honestly pretty scared. I’ve always felt at home in nature, but this was the first time I ever felt truly out of any comfort zone I’ve had.

After getting down we went back to the ranch to relax. We found out the boys had been found covered in severe frostbite, and the outcome would have been much different had they been exposed to the elements much longer. Leading up to this trip, I thought of it as a cool experience to learn a lot, and work my body pretty hard. I never thought I would witness it become a life and death situation for two young kids, and it really hit home the risk you take whenever you venture out on a trip. Thousands of people climb this route per year, and for the most part it is just a breeze, but it doesn’t take much to turn into something you aren’t prepared for. Bringing simple bivy gear or hiring a guide could have made a huge difference for those boys. I’ll never know what ended up happening, but simply imagining it is enough to make an impact on me.

I took a long time before writing this trip report, and debated not writing it at all. This trip became really personal to me for a lot of reasons. I really didn’t want to write another blog about having MS and overcoming challenges and blah blah blah, but in reality that is what my life and relationship with climbing is, and that is okay with me. I left a lot of the good parts out, but if nothing else this trip really did test me a great deal. I think that is what is so amazing about climbing. You get to really find out where your limits are in life. I don’t think a lot of people will ever have that opportunity. I hope I am able to continue spending time in the mountains, and experiencing their beauty. How lucky I am to be a climber.

Jillian Bukoski • Member Outreach Coordinator

November Member of the Month: Trevin Tuovinen

Mesa Rim Member of the Month: Trevin Tuovinen
What is it about climbing that you love the most?
Dynos for sure! Those are the first routes I look for when I see new boulders were set.

How did you find your way to Mesa Rim?
I looked up gyms on google and saw Mesa Rim. The next day I went to Mira Mesa to check it out. Before I even started climbing I knew this was the place for me.

What are 3 things you love to do besides climbing?
Ice and Roller Hockey, Skydiving and Snowboarding

If you had a theme song what would it be?

If you could have dinner with a famous/historical person, who would it be?
Will Ferrell

What is your spirit animal?

If you could only smell one thing for an entire day what would you choose?
The Ocean

Euroshevanigans by Jordan Romig

Euroshevanigans: Part I

On July 6th I embarked on an outstandingly unplanned adventure to Europe. I arrived at Gatwick Airport in London with a single task: to find an affordable (aka sketchily cheap) van in which I could travel and live for the coming months. With some trouble, I managed to locate a used van dealership / farm, in the outskirts of London. The dealership bore an uncomfortable resemblance to a junkyard, but I picked the best of the bunch, a right wheel drive 2002 Citroën Relay. I tried to take it for a test drive but my manual driving skills didn’t exist and I couldn’t make it off the lot. Fortunately, the salesman took over to show me how it ran. Despite being a clearly inept driver in the backwards world of England, the man sold me my future home and let me struggle off on my way towards Amsterdam to meet up with Katinka and pick up my travel / climbing partner, Sean Bailey. After some frustrating navigation, engine killing, and an extremely expensive Chunnel passage I pushed my way to Amsterdam. The countryside through France and Belgium was stunning and the chocolate-dipped, hazelnut sprinkled, waffle-on-a-stick in Bruges was to die for.

My time in Amsterdam was spent seeing the city by foot in my Cruzers and by boat through the numerous channels encircling the city. I learned about the origin of flea markets, gorged on Holland-endemic chocolate sprinkles and of course did some climbing. Holland’s elevation varies about as much as that of Nebraska, so Sean and I stuck to plastic for some fitness training to prepare for the coming climbing on real rock. I got to try out and break in my new Luchadors from Evolv that fit like gloves and perform delightfully. After a few days in the Netherlands we moved on to southern France to climb in the Gorge du Loup and Gorge du Verdon.

The old-school style of Gorge du Loup made for a tough first day back outdoors. The wall offered few routes below 8a+ via blatantly drilled lines, but the rock was still full of incredible tufas and nicely overhung. The abrupt re-entry to rock climbing wore us out quickly so an early rest day was a must. We explored the river that winds through the gorge and discovered a few swimming holes accompanied by cliff jumping spots. Check out the videos on Instagram.

In retrospect, spending a rest day soaking our hands in water may not have been the smartest but it was well worth it. Next we drove to the Gorge du Verdon to see what climbing we could find. Turns out, not a lot. If you find yourself in France and wanting to climb in the Verdon, I implore you to do extensive research or find a guide. The guidebooks lack quality topos and are mostly in French, additionally we had to rap into most of the multi-pitch routes from non-obvious paths along a road where every reference point is just Belvedere (differentiating between Belvedere, Belvedere, and Belvedere proved quite difficult). Despite frustrating approaches, I was pleased with the opportunity to get out of my comfort zone by climbing so high above the earth. However, that feeling faded and we dipped out to get to Céüse.

Euroshevanigans: Part II

The van I bought– the one I mentioned was sketchily cheap in my last post– broke down en route to Céüse before we even got out of the Gorge. We believed it was a dead battery but were dismayed to learn the fuel injector was the real problem. Thankfully the garage owner took pity on us and towed the van for free and said he would do the job for as cheap as possible but it was still going to take about a week. Instead of hanging out in Riez, a small and painfully boring village in the Maritime Alps, we hitchhiked to Céüse to pass the time. We arrived at the awe-inspiring cliff with relative ease in a swift manner. The climbing here was impossibly superior to that of our previous destinations. The hike was less intriguing, it’s about an hour up steep terrain and being the well-arranged guys that we are, we did it in flip-flops. At the summit I quickly found a mini project, more of fitness goal really, called Colonnettes. This alluring line is 8a from the ground or 7b+ if you skip the dyno and I sent the shorter variation after some time getting back into shape for lead. I was unable to break a mental barrier with the committing dyno before the third draw for the 8a variation but I am planning on going back for it in September. Sean became enthralled with Chris Sharma’s Biographie (9a+) and bolt-to-bolted it a couple times in our brief trip to Céüse before returning to pick up the van.

After getting the van and a homie hook-up on the price (still a mighty gouge to the wallets), we returned to our happy climbing place. This time around, Sean quickly moved into redpoint goes on Biographie and started working some more moderate Céüse classics. We had the fortune of meeting methodic and raw Sachiama (who is working Jungle Boogie, 9a+) and the Adidas photographer accompanying him, Luka Fonda. We talked to Luka quite a bit and learned he’s one rad dude; Luka is a photographer for Adidas and Red Bull, the Slovenian national coach, and dating former world champion, Mina Markovič. He graciously invited us to stay with him on our way to Croatia and showed us a local crag, primarily bolted by him, but more on that later. In our second round at Céüse I focused on endurance and fitness training, climbing a lot of mid 7’s to easy 8’s and am looking forward to settling on a project when I return later this summer. After another week there we proceeded to Croatia to pick up my sister and climb around in Europe’s Slavic region.

We passed through Slovenia on our way to pick up my sister in Pula, Croatia and stayed at Luka and Mina’s training center for a rare opportunity to shower and enjoy running water. The next day the illustrious Luka took us to his crag near Sežana. This local gem resembled a zen rock sanctuary tucked away in a spacious deciduous forest with a gently sloping amphitheatre beset by petite, moss-wrapped boulders. After a chill afternoon of climbing we departed Luka’s abode for Pula. We didn’t find much in the way of climbing but the Istrian peninsula has magnificent coastal cliffs. We spent a couple days lounging in the sun, bathing in magical shrimp pools, cliff jumping and deep-water soloing in a sublime subsect of Kamenjak National Park, called Rt. Kamenjak. Per suggestion by Luka, we stopped at a cool cavern lake and climbing spot outside Pazin in Croatia on our way back to Western Europe. We didn’t find the climbing but Sean was able to perfect his gainer before moving on to Innsbruck, Austria.

Euroshevanigans: Part III

We spent a couple days in Innsbruck resting and sightseeing then met up with our friends in Germany. Our German friend, Patrick, and his family provided a real home and delectable dinners for a few days in Munich while we trained at Boulderwelt. Sean was beginning to acclimate to pulling on plastic for worlds in Arco. The strongest boulderers in the world were training at Boulderwelt at this time in preparation for the upcoming Munich World Cup. We trained hard for a few days: laps on ropes, running, campus boards, core and one-arm strength training. This brutal training marathon earned us a rest weekend for Frequency Festival in St. Pölten, Austria. Frequency is one of the largest Austrian music festivals and featured artists like Major Lazer, Kendrick Lamar, Zed’s Dead, Ellie Goulding, Alt-J and many more.

Directly following Frequency, Sean and I made our way to Arco for the IFSC Youth World Championships. This year marked the first year in which all three disciplines of competition (sport, speed, and bouldering) were showcased. The IFSC offered free lunch and dinner for volunteers, so I eagerly accepted the task of hold brushing for competitors. Aside from the free food, brushing was a fantastic opportunity to watch elite boulderers from around the world up close. After bouldering was a day of speed competition and then finally a few days for lead. Sean qualified for semi-finals in 5th place but unfortunately did not advance to the final round. Luckily, Arco is abundant in gelato shops for coping. At €1.00 per scoop, you can afford a lot of coping.

Arco is a beautiful little town near a massive lake in the foothills of the dolomites. It is truly an outdoorsman’s mecca with thousands of sport routes, bouldering, via ferratas, dozens of climbing shops (including the radical E9), and even some multi-pitch. While at the competition, Sean and I were invited to compete at the first Psicobloc Milan with one of America’s strongest boulderers, Nathaniel Coleman. The wall was built on the edge of a barge and anchored out just off shore. The event organizers really take care of the athletes by providing food, drinks, towels, and even a hotel room. I topped the route in qualifiers but I wasn’t fast enough to make the cut for finals. Sean qualification in the seeding round put him against Chris Sharma for an exhilarating and close race, but Sharma pulled ahead at just the last second. Carlo Traversi also competed and stayed in the same hotel as us and we quickly became friends. Psicobloc marked the start of our final two weeks in Europe and Carlo had invited us to join him in Magic Wood. We wanted to finish the trip in the wilderness on real rock, so we set off to Switzerland with Carlo.

Magic Wood may be the most aptly named climbing area in the world. Hundreds of gneiss boulders are scattered across the face of the mountain, running all the way down to the clear, cool river at the bottom. Vibrant shades of green surround you from the trees, bushes, and thick, soft moss that envelops the sporadically strewn rocks and fallen trees. Carlo took us on a tour of the forest the first day and we hopped on a few classics along the way. We were thrilled with the beauty of the wood and getting to finish our trip on such a high note. Alas, the rain came. For six days straight, we were rained out so we left for Ticino in search of dry conditions. Again, misfortune struck and the van broke down, this time for good; the crankshaft was broken. With so little time left, we couldn’t justify (or afford) the repairs and hitchhiked our way back to Magic Wood to stay with friends we made there from the Slovenian and German national climbing teams. The upside was that Magic Wood finally dried out and we were able to get a solid day of climbing in! The high spirits were short-lived though, we needed to find a way to Paris to catch our flights back home. It was surprisingly easy to get back to the van to gather our things and catch a bus to a train to Milan for a flight to Paris.

Paris is one of my favorite cities in the world. I learned a lot about the city through French classes in high school and college so I was pretty familiar with what there is to do and see there when I first visited last summer. I returned over spring break this year for a few days and showed my mom around; by my third time there I felt like a tour guide. I took Sean to the best monuments, neighborhoods, and restaurants that I know on our one day there before finally returning home. After an exhausting day walking through the city we spent our last night in Europe at a hotel by the airport. Sean and I agreed that the best part of our trip was having the freedom to move our home all over the continent to explore Europe’s climbing, beaches, and culture.

– Jordan Romig • Mesa Rim Youth Coach

October Member of the Month: Lindsay Ditmars

Lindsay Ditmars - Mesa Rim Member of the Month


What is it about climbing or yoga that you love the most?
The challenge. Each activity is about overcoming an internal struggle more than anything else. Once you have pushed yourself past your limits, achieving something you didn’t think was really possible, you walk away with a better understanding of yourself.

How did you find your way to Mesa Rim?
Well I moved here for pharmacy school in 2013 when I met a fellow classmate who climbed and I asked him to take me. After one day I was hooked and ever since I have been climbing and taking yoga as much as possible.

How much is climbing or yoga a part of your life?
Besides school, it seems to be my life.

What are 3 things you love to do besides climbing or yoga?
Hiking, traveling, board games

What are 3 words you think that best describe your personality?
Determined, honest, supportive

If you had a theme song what would it be?

If you could have dinner with a famous/historical person, who would it be?
Who ever takes me to the nicest restaurant.

What is your spirit animal?
Odocoileus virginianus

If you could only smell one thing for an entire day. What would you choose?

September Member of the Month – Aki Soyode-Johnson

September Member of the Month - Aki

What is it about climbing or yoga that you love the most?
Besides the obvious physical challenge and sense of fulfillment that climbing gives, Id have to say that what I love most about climbing are the people of the climbing community. I love experiencing the world through the eyes of a climber; it has allowed me to meet some of the most genuinely awesome people and experience some great friendships.

How did you find your way to Mesa Rim?
I used to be into parkour and long story short, after I got injured I wandered into Solid Rock Gym thinking climbing would be a similar feel to parkour but was pleasantly incorrect. After climbing there for a while I heard rumors of a new gym with bigger and better facilities. As soon as Mesa Rim opened I switched gyms and have been a member ever since.

How much is climbing or yoga a part of your life?

Climbing for me is a borderline addiction #ClimbOrDie.

What are 3 things you love to do besides climbing or yoga?

Gymnastic movement, sailing, traveling around the world…

What are 3 words you think that best describe your personality?

Uhh I suck at this type of question.

If you had a theme song what would it be?
“Pick up the pieces” by Average White Band – check it out and try not to strut.

If you could have dinner with a famous/historical person, who would it be?

Either Scarlett Johansson or Bruce Lee (because he was the pinnacle of martial arts and philosophy and these are two things I love).

What is your spirit animal?
No Idea.

If you could only smell one thing for an entire day. What would you choose?
Freshly baked brioche.

City of Rocks • The Spire by Nick Burnett

The only things that matter are your breath, balance, and movement; muscles taught, hands sweaty stealing at chalk, the wind strong, abrading the skin.  Again, your breath, fighting to control it as if the more controlled the breathing, the more controlled the body and mind.  The more control, the bigger the foot chips become, the less strained your muscles become.  Then movement controlled, calculated, reaching high, turning your head away to look down toward the ground in an effort to maximize the reach, and the ground…a long way down.  Grasping for the crimp you think is there, contact, then the cold, biting friction of the melting granite.

This is why we are here. The wind blew hot and fast away from the storm as if fleeing.  We had passed through the quaint farm towns, consisting of a few houses and a post office, or something official like that.  Country music twanging slowly in the background…when in Idaho!  The air then grew cooler and it became damp, and in the distance there were dark storm clouds and dark streaks fell from the clouds, the sun, setting now, caught the clouds in flame.  We drove slowly, but finally made our way over a cattle grate and onto to a wet dirt road.

The City of Salt Lake
I woke to ringing bells, gaudy in their abrupt tone. I had arrived in Salt Lake City a few days prior, and wasn’t expecting to go to the City Of Rocks, but I was psyched when I found out. While in Salt Lake I was able to work with some friends on an organic farm which employs mostly high schools students to run it. My friends Hannah and Nico run the farming site and are essentially farming coaches and mentors to the high school aged student workers.  They organize the students into a teams, and each team focuses on different farm tasks, but sometimes they all come together for the bigger tasks.  It was such a great experience and the farm had such a good energy to it, partially just seeing my friends doing something meaningful, and then being able to get to know some of the kids who were working there. It was cool to see both my friends and the students working together on something that they are passionate about. The day’s farming finished early enough to give us time to go out to one of the numerous canyons that line Salt Lake City to climb!

The City of Rocks
As we drove along the wet dirt road it continued to rain, in a gentle way, like the storm had lost its will to fight, and you got the feeling it wouldn’t last much longer.  We bumbled around looking for a campsite in the dark, most were already taken, but eventually we found one. We made dinner, scoped some lines on a nearby damp boulder, and then it was time for bed.  I took shelter under the wooden camp table provided in the campsite.

Talk about luxury!  I grabbed my sleeping bag the borrowed sleeping pad, and nestled into my temporary refuge, nodding off to sleep to the sound of soft, tapping rain.  My butt is cold, was my next thought.  My pad was flat.  Great.  It was raining harder now; apparently I had misjudged the storm’s determination. Additionally, there was a hole in the borrowed sleeping pad…I emerged, beast-like and wet, from my lair, grunting and cursing.  The only viable solution was the truck: I ended up stacking up the climbing gear and backpacks up in the cab of the Tacoma, and then laid my pad over the pile and went into a deep hibernation. The morning had a crisp, fall feeling, even though it was mid-summer and the world seemed clean and refreshed.  I didn’t feel clean or refreshed; the picnic table debacle had left me muddy, and sleeping on climbing gear had left me feeling a bit creaky, but its all part of the experience, “C’est la vie”.

We gathered our gear.  Nico and I were traditionally boulderers, and in the past the thought of using a rope would make us cringe.  In our youthful climber ignorance, we had never dabbled much in the rope business. Bouldering initially drew us in by its rawness. It’s you, some chalk, shoes and a rock.  Getting to the top is up to you.  I loved that about bouldering initially, and I still do.  Additionally, we’d both claim to be experienced climbers, after 7 years of climbing even boulders will find themselves on a rope or two, but we’d never bothered to do any type of multi-pitch climbing.


It seemed we were always pushing our limits on boulders and some stout sport routes, and for a long time those things had taken up the majority of my climbing experience.  So we did a little research. We started out, our field research beginning with Steinfell’s Dome. It’s the most prominent peak seen from the City Of Rocks: seven pitches of pretty cruiser, sloppy slab climbing, then one pitch of 5.8, where you climb and stem up a quartz spine. As I made my way up the spine, I began to hear a slight pshhhhhhh-ing sound. “What the hell is that?” Nico and I asked at the same time, “snake?”

I asked. Then the unmistakable smell. Beer! While Nico had been belaying he had managed to puncture one of the cans of beer and it was now hissing in this bag. We scrambled to get the beer out and drank it at the top of the 6th pitch.  Once atop the Dome, research demanded that we crack some more beers and take in the view: grey granite seemed to sprout from the ground here, and as far as I could see; the farms outside the city patterned the landscape with green patches of corn, mingled with the brown of the wheat fields, with the hard, grey rock formations splattered through the whole scene.  It was a romantic painting. Adding to the painting were the storm clouds swirling to the north.  After being hit by two squalls, we decided to head down.


We climbed as much as we could over the next few days: mostly sport routes, although I was able to jump on a boulder.  It was the hottest day thus far, relief only came when the breeze picked up, or in the sparse shade. Nico and I had planned to do the morning glory spire later that day.  Going at about 250 feet of sustained 5.10 climbing we were pretty psyched, to say the least. But before we did that we decided to go hang out and watch some friends climb. Our friends Danny, Reggie, and Lisa were leading a 5.9 and had gotten stuck about 3 bolts up, so I offered to run up and set a top rope, but Lisa was pretty confident she could do it.  She hadn’t led in over a year, and again I offered to climb it, but she insisted. She made her way up past the first 3 bolts; the point at which the others had been stopped.  I had walked back a bit from the wall to catch some shade, and when I turned around I cringed.

Lisa had made here way into the crux, but where the rope was placed caused me concern. It was taut across her lower legs, but she had already committed to the move. I yelled up, told her to watch the rope behind her legs but it was too late: she was committed and there wasn’t much that could be done.  Her foot slipped, and she slid down the slab, then the rope caught her legs, flipped her over and backward into the rock.  Luckily, she was smart enough to have put on a helmet, and that helmet smacked into the rock.  Nico and I ran back, expecting the worst, but thankfully she was okay and just had a scratch, and mild whiplash.


Nico and I glanced at each other with raised eye brows: this definitely gave us pause. We were experienced climbers, but the sport is inherently very dangerous, and I, at least, had to kind of talk myself through it: why it had happened to her and why that wouldn’t happen to me. Earlier in the trip Nico had asked if he needed a helmet, and I had responded, “you don’t need one till you do.” So after talking over the situation we just witnessed with Lisa, and trying to forget her ugly fall, we turned our focus back to the Morning Glory Spire. After a quick approach to the base, flaking out the rope, and loading up on fruit snacks and water, we made our way up the ‘slabby’ first pitch.  Helmets strapped tight to our skulls. Nico took the first technical pitch. After I followed him up I gathered my mind to focus on the next 5.10d pitch. And although I had tried to put Lisa’s fall from my mind it kept wandering back into it.

There is such a duality to climbing, and I always knew it was there.  It has come more into focus recently.  After putting so much passion into climbing it has morphed into so many different things for me. Take a boulder. A boulder is a boulder to the average person. Not much significance in the big scheme of things but, to some, that boulder is so much more.  For me, at least, there is a draw to interact with that boulder. Some might say to conquer it, as if the boulder is an opponent…which it actually does feel like most of the time. But there’s also the whole aspect of respect. I use strong language to insult boulders… all the time… and I get creative.  Mostly because that boulder is just sitting there smirking like, “Yeah, try me Bro, whatcha got?” But really there is a respect, no matter how much grief is given either way.


There’s that draw to interact with this boulder for the most minute blip of time. When I climb nothing matters; bills, lost friends, rocky relationships, and politics are all suspended from my mind in that brief blip. I’m pushing my body to achieve this mental fix.  As I climb, I feel like I enter a meditative state, where my thoughts just briefly pass by and instinct, muscle memory, grit, and pure drive take over to accomplish the set goal.

In my mind, climbing may seem insane, useless or egotistical, but it is deeply spiritual.  As long as we’re still climbing then “good on us.” That’s something we can smile at, that we can stare at in awe; it’s something your parents and grandparents can shake their heads and then tell you a three hour ‘Well-back-in-my-day’ story…which you should listen to anyway because it’s probably a great story.  But what it really is, is something that causes us to grow in ways we never even considered, and most importantly allows us to cast our light out into the universe and say, “Hey, this blip right here! Yeah, this is me! How you like them apples?” And I like to think that whoever is watching just sees those moments and treats them how we treat shooting stars, that moment of magical wonder, our attention is drawn to the sky and to the stars and it humbles us. In my mind, those moments, those blips, make up the faith, the drive, or the soul inside of me.


That drive is what allowed me to move past the uncertainty I had before the second pitch on the Morning Glory Spire; it allowed me to push the image of Lisa’s fall, earlier in the day, out of my mind to focus on the moment:  to let myself move back to my breath and let my muscles become what’s in control, and to let the thoughts that enter my mind just pass by.


The Descent
We made our way up the Spire without any problems but had no beers with us this time, after taking some pictures from the top, we rapped off the spire and made our way back to the car. The drive back to Salt Lake was quick and we were in high spirits. We pushed ourselves into something new and came out of it successful. Its trips like these that really inspire me. I recently heard someone say, “climbing is for conquerors of the irrelevant.” Does something that teaches you and allows you to master your body and mind irrelevant? Perhaps it is the most important and relevant thing a person can do. So go out there, climb a rock, surf a wave, take a trip, get inspired, and see what happens.

– Nick Burnett • Mesa Rim Front Desk Team

Hunter and Parker Take Outdoor Retailer & Psicobloc!

Outdoor Retailer & Psicobloc Masters 2015 – Salt Lake City, UT by Hunter Moffitt

I had no idea what to expect as Parker and I got off the plane in Utah: neither of us had ever been to Salt Lake City, we didn’t know how to use UBER (our only form of transportation), it was our first time representing Mesa Rim at Outdoor Retailer, and our Hotel was overbooked. The psych however, stayed high!

Day 1:
With over 1,500 vendor booths and 25,000 visitors it was easy to get distracted and even easier to get lost. Aside from a few comfy looking hammocks and fancy ergonomic camping chairs Parker and I managed to stay on track and worked our way through the tents, booths, and mini-compounds within The Salt Palace. We spent most of the morning learning the floor plan, searching for the ‘climbing’ specific booths, and geo-tagging bathrooms and food stands on my phone (nature calls). Our first meeting was at the La Sportiva booth where we checked out the newest lines of approach/climbing shoes and activewear. I have always been a huge fan of La Sportiva and was excited by the chance to discuss the newest trends in shoes and finally get my hands on their ‘No-Edge’ technology (Genius/Futura). For lunch we swung by the Five Ten booth and met with our rep Kevin. Sushi was on the menu and we walked across the street to ‘Naked Fish: Japanese Bistro’ where Kevin somehow got us a table (no reservations during OR!?). Thanks to the miracle worker, we ate like kings and I left full and happy. After lunch Parker and I continued to make our rounds and stopped by several booths including Friction Labs, Petzl, 8B+ (best chalk-bags ever), So iLL, Kingdom Holds, Slackline Industries and many more. By the end of the day, nothing could keep me from the cloud like Tempur-Pedic waiting at the hotel.


Day 2:
Our second day at OR was a little less intense than the first and we were able to take some time and enjoy more of the show. After meeting with reps from Mammut, Black Diamond and Liberty Mountain Parker and I were able to check out Scarpa, Arcteryx, Organic, Evolv, Trango, PrAna and countless other booths before finally heading back to the hotel. Despite a less than stellar weather report (60-70% chance of rain and thunderstorms) we decided to make the trip to Park City for the Psicobloc Masters 2015. Showing my true San Diego colors, I neglected to bring a jacket…Let it rain! Although short lived, the Psicobloc Masters was incredible. Watching some of the strongest climbers in the world solo ~50ft above a pool in the middle of a true Utah thunderstorm was a once in a lifetime experience. The amount of support and psych for the event, despite the weather, was a clear indication of how far climbing has come. OR was a truly massive event and throughout the week we got a first hand look at exactly how large our industry has grown.


Gym to Crag:
The newest trends will soon become old news, innovative products will be developed and new companies created. The goal however, remains universal: Creating lifelong climbers through the recent boom in climbing gyms. Focus has largely shifted away from the practice of new climbers having a ‘climbing mentor’ or learning outside and towards the process of learning/climbing mainly, sometimes only, in indoor climbing gyms. The sport is growing rapidly and I believe it is our responsibility as industry professionals, and members of the climbing community, to ensure that new climbers are embraced wholly, educated properly and informed of any and all risks associated with climbing both indoors and outside.

-Hunter Moffitt – Front Desk Supervisor • Mira Mesa

August Members of the Month – Bryan Davis and Laura Muehl

Members of the Month: Bryan Davis and Laura Muehl

What is it about climbing/yoga that you love the most?
Laura: Because it makes my arms look good.
Bryan: Yes it does.


1) getting to travel around the world and have something interesting to do once you get there besides eating and looking at buildings
2) trying to solve a tricky physics problem in your head, then hopping on the wall and doing your best to not think about anything at all
3) meeting wonderful, sometimes crazy, but always inspiring people who help you to be a better climber and human being
4) Laura has informed me that 3 is enough.

How did you find your way to Mesa Rim?
We first climbed here years before we moved to San Diego, shortly after you opened. No idea how we first heard about it, but so glad we did!

How much is climbing/yoga a part of your life?
We met while climbing almost exactly 9 years ago, and it has been a significant part of our life ever since. In that time we’ve spent about 1 year, cumulatively, on climbing trips around the U.S., Australia, Mexico, Spain, and France. I don’t even want to know how much time we’ve spent in climbing gyms in the last decade, but it has definitely kept us (relatively) sane during some crazy times, most recently medical school.

What are 3 things you love to do besides climbing/yoga?
Eating ice cream (Bryan) or drinking IPAs (Laura), trail running, and swimming, though usually not all at the same time.

What’s your spirit animal?
Laura: Bottlenose dolphin
Bryan: Whatever animal David Attenborough is narrating.

If you could have dinner with a famous/historical person, who would it be?
At the risk of feeling even dumber than usual and possibly dying of laughter: Richard Feynman and Stephen Colbert

Coming Soon – Mesa CoWorking Campus

In celebration of Coworking Week 2015, Mesa Rim is excited to announce the Mesa CoWorking Campus! On September 15, 2015 the office space adjacent to the Mesa Rim Climbing Training Center will be available to rent for coworking! Part of Mesa Rim’s larger vision is to improve the quality of life of our community and we believe that the Mesa CoWorking Campus is an avenue through which we can make a positive impact. An inspiring energy is created when motivated and passionate people come together. It is our goal to facilitate that connection through the Mesa CoWorking Campus and provide an intentional workspace where local and like-minded small businesses and freelancers will thrive.

Mesa Rim is committed to fostering a healthy, collaborative, and productive work environment. Many in our community work independently but often in isolation because the overhead of leasing an office isn’t practical. The Mesa CoWorking Campus is an opportunity to bring freelancers and small business owners who value active lifestyles together to share knowledge, learn from one another, and work in an intentional and energized workspace. The Mesa CoWorking Campus will offer a variety of workspace styles and sizes and each workspace rental will include membership to Mesa Rim Climbing, Yoga, and Fitness Centers. Now you can operate your business at a collaborative office within a very short walk of your favorite place to climb, practice yoga, workout, and meet friends. Climbing before work and yoga on your lunch break? Yes, please!

Full pricing will be available by August 15th.  Interested renters are encouraged to email for information on the application process.

What IS CoWorking?

Workspace Details

Quantity Workspace Style and Size
7 Individual offices ranging from 110 – 360 sqft
8 Individual work-nooks in common area (6’ x 6’)
12 Individual open desk spaces in common area
1 Up to 2000 sqft of additional office space available for a single tenant.

* Pricing available August 15

Mesa CoWorking Campus Amenities and Highlights

• Mesa Rim Membership including full access to both Mira Mesa and Mission Valley Climbing, Yoga, and Fitness Centers
• Conference room access
• Free parking
• Printing
• Internet
• Mailbox
• Coffee and Tea
• Collaborative common areas
• Discounted access to Mesa Rim event space, team building, and corporate events
• Access to monthly Mesa CoWorking Campus social and networking events
• Access to quarterly workshops on a selected business topic


Why would I want to rent a shared space?
Watch the video above to learn more about coworking space. There are many articles that discuss the value of coworking and renting a shared space. Read why coworking will give your business a huge edge.

What do I get with my membership to Mesa CoWorking Campus?
To start, enjoy membership to Mesa Rim’s Climbing, Yoga, and Fitness Centers and an inspiring workspace! Check out the comprehensive list of amenities above.

Can I host events?
Campus Members will have access to a conference room and are invited to participate in our monthly networking events and quarterly workshops. Beyond that? Probably! Let’s chat about the details! Email:

Want more information now?

July Member of the Month – Leen Schafer


What is it about climbing that you love the most?
I love solving puzzles and climbing is essentially solving a mathematical and mechanical puzzle. It’s simultaneously physically and mentally challenging; sometimes it can be meditative when you are trying to pull a series of movement together. To me, there is no other activity that has this much to offer. I love it!

Yoga changed my life in the best way possible. Similar to climbing, yoga can be a very difficult moving meditation if you want it to be. Not only is it good for the body and soul, but it also teaches self-patience, making peace with suffering and being present in the moment. And now I cannot live without it!
I dream of being beastly.

How did you find your way to Mesa Rim?
Back in 2004, I scrambled up to the summit of Mt Washington in New Hampshire taking the Huntington Ravine trail. It was pretty gnarly. The last 1000 feet of the trail was a headwall that you ascend ropeless. I definitely encountered some technical sections and I really didn’t know about climbing back then. Hugging a ledge, I looked over and saw some climbers trad’ing up the Mechanic’s Route off the trail. In awe, I asked my partner what they were doing. I immediately knew I wanted to climb. I never really got the opportunity to integrate climbing into my life until I came to SD for grad school. I figured climbing would be a good balance to the insanity of science. I love Mesa for so many reasons – yeah the climbing and the yoga are the best, but I’ve met so many of my friends and continue to meet new people and make more friends here. The culture is fantastic. I even met my husband at Mesa back when I first started climbing regularly Christmas Eve 2012. We were the only two people in the bouldering area and the rest is history. :)

How much is climbing a part of your life?
My life: eat, sleep, science, yoga, climb, run, pump iron and repeat in varying orders. Climbing/yoga is just as important as eating and sleeping. Sometimes science happens with no sleep. If climbing and yoga isn’t in the mix then there is an excess of madness. Madness is only good in small doses, hence we have to stick to the above formula for Leen to operate at an optimal level.

What are 3 things you love to do besides climbing?
Trail running and hiking with my husband and my dog Ron Burgundy. I don’t know how to put this but he’s kind of a big deal. He’s a very important dog; people know him. No really, when we go outside to climbing areas all these people know him and not us. He force cuddles strangers but keeps it classy.

I really love eating fresh fruit off of trees and taking naps in the forest. When I’m not climbing or yoga’ing, I’m always training and trying new things to figure out how I can be buff one day. Pump – you – up!

What are 3 words you think that best describe your personality?
Tenacious, Motivated, Fervent

If you had a theme song what would it be?
“Strangeness and Charm” by Florence and the Machine

If you could have dinner with a famous/historical person, who would it be?
I don’t think that famous or historic people are really any different from regular people. By this logic, having dinner with a total stranger would be kind of weird. I guess I’d want to know that we’d have some fun and light conversation. So maybe Milla Jovovich? We can talk about multi-passes and how to kill mutant zombies.

If you could only smell one thing for an entire day. What would you choose?
I chose a smell combination: Lavender flowers growing under pine trees and wet dirt.