January Member of the Month • Ron Palustre


What is it about climbing that you love the most?

It’s a multifaceted balancing act between the body and the mind. There’s just so many ways you can grow – all while having fun in the process!

How did you find your way to Mesa Rim?

I broke my ankle in an unfortunate bouldering fall only a couple weeks into the 2014 season, so I needed a place to train while I healed up. I decided to immerse myself into the sport climbing realm since taking ground falls weren’t an option. Mesa had the tallest walls, so it only made sense. The community was welcoming and before long, I knew I found a new home.

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

Videography, playing guitar, & pretending to be a sophisticated chef/food critic.

If you had a theme song what would it be?

Cha Cha Slide – DJ Casper

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

John Muir. He had an inspiring perspective on things.

What is your spirit animal?

Ron Burgundy. Suave & brash with a whole lotta class.

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

The air in Yosemite Valley.

Part I: On The Run in Death Valley by Debbie and Keegan

In December, Mesa Rim Staff Debbie, Keegan, Shannah, Alexis, and Ian set out to conquer Titus Canyon , an epic trail run in Death Valley. No ordinary race, the story couldn’t be told by just one person or one perspective. So, this trip report is a two-part blog post collaboration, and we do hope you enjoy it.

Titus Canyon by Debbie Fischer
Titus Canyon Marathon is a scenic, wilderness trail race, run on a gravel jeep road from Beatty, NV to the finish in Death Valley.  The entire run is in the Death Valley National Park.  I suggested this run to some fellow Mesa Rimmers for a fun weekend getaway.

And so there we were Saturday, December 5th standing outside the Furnace Creek Ranch Saloon at 6:30 am waiting for the buses to whisk us away to our starting lines for the race.  Ian, Keegan and I ran the marathon.  Shannah ran the half marathon.  Alexis had trained for the half marathon, but was recovering from a cold, so she opted to be our driver and moral supporter.

We boarded the buses and after a 45 minute drive arrived at our destinations.  The starting line for the marathon was marked by a row of rocks.  We waited for the race director to give us the starting instructions which were “I will drive up ahead about 50 yards and when you see my brake lights start running!”

The first 14 miles were basically uphill following a dirt road that offered plenty of obstacles in the form of sand and gravel.  There were approximately 120 marathon runners so you spent most of the time alone or with one or two other people.  Keegan and I for the most part ran together or within sight of each other.  Both of us secretly trying to stay in front of the other (well, at least I was).  Ian, we never saw after the start.  He took off and never looked back.  I have been running marathons for the last 20 years and have always trained for the marathon with lots of running and especially the weekend long run of upwards of 20 miles of which I did four long runs before the marathon.  Ian, on the other hand, had a very unconventional training program.  I think it consisted of a few runs with LOTS of rock climbing.  I wasn’t sure he would make the distance and I half expected to see him walking around mile 18.  More on his finish, later.

So, there we were running 14 miles up to Red Pass.  As I looked across the small valley I could see runners on the switchbacks on the other side, small dots of color making their way in a never ending zig zag up the red rocky face. AND, finally, the top!!  The view was amazing!!  The whole canyon opened up in front of us.  I took in the view and began the 13 mile descent to the finish.

The first couple of miles were steeper than I liked to run on, but I did my best to use gravity to my advantage while staying in control.  Keegan had already passed me earlier on the downhill, and I could see him in front of me which also motivated me to keep moving.

After a few quad pounding miles the mountain leveled off slightly and we had truly arrived at the entrance to Titus Canyon.  The sides of the canyon seemed to come straight out of the ground, rising in high vertical walls on both sides.  The canyon walls were striped with multi-colored bands of rock and at some point the floor narrowed to about 10 yards between both sides.  It was not some place I would like to be caught in a thunderstorm.  Some sections of the canyon were quite chilly and it seemed apparent that the sun’s rays could only briefly squeezed down into that crevasse for a short period of time.

Finally Keegan and I had made it to the 20 mile mark and aid station. Still no signs of a struggling Ian.  I was feeling really good.  Thank goodness those 20 mile training runs were helping me to keep moving forward.  By this point I was able to pull ahead of Keegan.  However, I know how he loves running down hills so I had to stay focused and not ease up on the pace.

The last aid station was at mile 24, right at the exit of the canyon.  There is a dramatic change from being in the tight closed in space of the canyon, to the wide open desert, and it happens immediately!  I grabbed a quick drink, took a quick look behind me to see if I could see Keegan thundering down the hills, which, fortunately he was not, and headed off to the finish line, which I could already see, 2.8 miles away. Mercifully, the downhill continued, and the last few miles weren’t too painful.  I even managed to finally pass a couple of runners.

And there, at the finish line, with a GREAT big smile was Ian.  He finished the race in an amazing time! He said he felt great the whole time.  Keegan, was just a few minutes behind me. Also, at the finish line was Shannah.  She had finished her first half marathon and also had a big smile. And, of course, Alexis.  Who took all the photos of our wonderful weekend and drove us back to the campsite.

We had a great weekend on a spectacular course.  You don’t have to be a runner to visit Titus Canyon. It is accessible by a high clearance vehicle and I highly recommend it when visiting Death Valley.

Inspiration by Keegan Dimmick
Riding in a bus through Death Valley, I began asking myself a question. “Why am I here?” This tends to be one of those existential, metaphysical questions. I was truly wondering why in the world I was on a bus, in Death Valley, about to run a marathon.

Didn’t take long for me to look to my left and see part of my inspiration. Debbie was the instigator for running this race. She created the entire plan. Everything from where we were camping, when we were leaving, handing out training plans, and just being our team captain. The night before the race Debbie was singing us motivating jingles and filling our souls with racing mantras. Her never tiring spirit, whimsical charm, and dedication to fitness made this event one to remember.

As I turned my head even farther to the left I saw Ian. I was super inspired when Ian decided his first marathon was going to be through the mountains of Death Valley. Inspired, but not surprised. Here’s someone I know that puts 200% of himself into anything he takes on. He seemed a little anxious on the bus ride to the starting line, but when we arrived he went into the zone and ran a race time I could only dream of. Never one to gloat, always one to talk trash, I’m pretty sure he’s capable of anything.

The first 5 miles of the race was on a flat, desert road. Without hills, scenery, or anything to keep my mind busy, I began looking for more inspiration. Being surrounded by awesome people made it easy. Alexis was intending on running the half marathon, but was taken down by sickness. Although sick, she still piled in the truck and trekked to Death Valley to cheer us on, and sing us songs around the camp fire. I appreciated the moral support as I was starting to become bored to death running across the barren landscape.

As the miles began to tick off, and my legs became weaker I was in need of some positive thoughts and motivation. I realized I was running the same part of the trail that Shannah had ran during the half marathon. Shannah doesn’t even run, but she had the courage and rare grit to commit to racing through the mountains of Death Valley. Holding onto her commitment and drive, and turning that into forward motion really got me across the finish line.

Seeing all of the people at the finish line, that inspire me every day to be my best self, was the biggest reward of the entire experience. These are people that I am proud to call my friends and colleagues. These are the people that will help me cross many finish lines. This is how I choose to “Live my dream”.

COMING UP – Part II in Death Valley by Shannah and poems and photography by Alexis (oh, and a fantastic run-spiration poem by Debbie!)

One Gratitude Cocktail, On the Rocks – Scratch That, Frozen

Only 3 months a West Coaster, I was (and still am) new to California climbing. I arrived in San Diego this past summer knowing only that I was starting over, and that I wanted to climb. Upon joining the Mesa Rim family, all these culturally significant climbing spots began working their way into my vocabulary and climbing to-do list; Mt. Woodson, Bishop, Yosemite, Taquitz. But there was one spot that was already on that list, waiting to be checked off, before I even knew some of the others existed. “We’ll need to climb at Joshua Tree,” my climbing mentor, Aris, told me a year earlier when my plans to become a Californian were conceived. With no other knowledge or expectations about what leaving my East Coast life and settling down in SoCal would be like, I already knew that I would be in J-Tree for Thanksgiving of 2015.

It was my first climbing getaway since becoming a gainfully employed citizen of CA, but I had spent 2015 practicing the art of travel and relaxation, and being present to all the inherent joys and stresses travel can bring; it’s expensive, it can be socially trying, and unexpected things always happen. See Exhibit A: That time my gps got me lost in South Dakota and I almost ran out of gas in the middle of The Middle of Nowhere. That time Cambodian airline authorities decided not to let me board a plane with my friends without first leading me to a sketchy trailer outside the airport surveilled by armed guards for the purpose of procuring proof of my eventual return to the US. That other time my friends and I decided we could absolutely carry all our luggage like 2 miles to the bus stop in Athens at 3am. A famous sentiment holds that adventure begins when plans go awry, and I had been practicing the appreciation of just that all year long.

Aris and I had planned, and we were prepared. We made a gangsta grocery list of everything that we could ever need for our campsite Turkey Day meal. We had all the gear. We saw that the weather heralded conditions just shy of ideal climbing weather, and tried to pack all the right clothes. I even borrowed warmer clothes (Thanks, Bill!) for the chilly nights predicted to be in the 30s. We had our lead and multi-pitch routes all chosen and marked in the guide book. We arrived Tuesday night, found our booked campsite at Black Rock outside the park, and caught up for hours around the fire. We talked about the home I had left months before, and all the things about my new home that were necessary to catch up on, and then woke up after a good night’s rest to a beautiful sunny sky over that otherworldly landscape that was worlds away from both homes. I was flooded with the awe that comes when you realize first hand that this is the only place in the world like this, and no photo image could ever measure up to the experience of being in it.

Still experiencing my first impression of J-Tree on the commute into Hidden Valley, I was feeling exuberant and positive as we slow-drove past all the occupied campsites to inquire whether anyone was leaving that day so that we could take over their more convenient and climber-experience-friendly campsites. Nobody was leaving, but a family who was van camping invited us to set up our tent in their barely-used site, and thus we became the tagalong campers. Our home for the next three nights secured, we geared up and set out to warm up in Hidden Valley. This, our first day on the rocks, was chilly and windy. We were down to sweaters for a single pitch in the sun on the Bong (which we were fairly stoked upon), but were back to puffies for an intuitive two-pitcher up Mike’s Books on Intersection, which we finished sending to a full moonrise before pausing to appreciate from the top. The landscape was so radiant in the light of the ascending moon that it looked like a strange daytime. We downclimbed and headed back to camp, where I soon noticed the glowing eyes of a coyote skulking about outside the bounds of the site. We would stroll around with our headlamps and the glare would periodically catch his gaze; he was never far. Our first cold night camping taught us that we would need more firewood than we had initially thought. After bedtime, coyotes could be heard singing to each other into the night, one quite close, the others farther off.

Thanksgiving Day took us to Saddle Rock, to attempt a 3-pitch slab and crack combo that sits in the shade all day. The actual temperature was about 10 degrees colder than originally planned for, and the combined efforts of an unpleasant breeze, the arrival of some uninvited cloud cover, and the previously stated fact that our selected climb sits in the shade for most of the day made it unreasonably cold, just over the qualifying line for not being able to accurately feel your fingers and toes on holds, leaving a climber to rely only on his visual assessment of being “on” before cranking up on them. When this uncertainty abounded on a run-out section of slab on pitch one, my climbing partner tumbled, sustaining a grand flapper on one hand, and a shaken-up confidence for leading on the other. We abandoned the plan for Saddle and sought out the sunny face of Intersection Rock instead. Teaming up with some fellow frozen climbers, we set up some top rope on a few easy climbs there, then retired early to start Thanksgiving dinner, which consisted of (get this): pineapple glazed cornish game hens, some delicious palak paneer and rice, fresh broccoli, and pumpkin pie, all cooked over the campfire. As the hens sizzled and we literally burned through our firewood stock, it began to flurry, and the clouds overhead held hands with the rock formations in Hidden Valley, framing a waning almost-full moon rising again. The prayer flags we’d picked up at Coyote Corner and attached to our tent scattered positive tidings through our campsite and beyond on the colder-than-expected winter wind.

On the morning of our final day in Joshua Tree, we’d already spent each day hoping the next would offer better weather for crushing, and were no less disappointed to be wrong when we glimpsed the dark clouds on their way to blanket the park and hide us from the necessary sunshine. We had grand plans for trad-ical practice, but our morale was low when we ventured over to check out Thin Wall. After one single pitch, 40 frozen digits, and several raunchy jokes shared with fellow climber comrades we met there, we bailed. We opted for hot cocoa and sink baths at Crossroads Cafe before driving home to spend the remainder of Thanksgiving weekend safe, warm, and climbing indoors in SD.

When you make a climbing trip, your climber friends all know about it. “How was J-Tree?” everyone will ask upon your return home. And honestly, the climbing had its moments, but it wasn’t great. And there wasn’t enough of it. But being asked about our trip to Joshua Tree, my first trip to Joshua Tree, was the point when climbing became secondary to the Joshua Tree experience. We weren’t warm, and we hadn’t made any riveting climbing gains on any of the days. But I had another phenomenal climber mecca ticked off in my send journal. And I had shared an element of home not only with new climber friends, but with my dear friend that was such a gracious guest, I felt like he’d hosted me when I dropped him off at the airport. Being in the sky with the full moon on Thanksgiving Eve atop Intersection Rock was nothing short of magical. “It was AWESOME,” I told people when they asked about my trip, and this attitude was met with an immense internal gratitude for the connections experienced, the moonrise, the mischievous coyote spirits haunting our campground, and our Thanksgiving Himalayan snow flurries. Being a climber teaches you about yourself in so many ways, and it’s not just about the climbs. It’s about the experiences of the hallowed places we congregate in, and sharing these experiences with each other, whether we’re friends or family, mentors or students, or near-strangers. The appreciation we take away from these is a gift that will last as long as the memories do.

– Lindsey Andress • Mesa Rim Team Member

Interview with Ian McIntosh – Championship Bouldering Intensive

Get psyched to try hard! Read exclusive interview with Nationals Chief Routesetter, Ian McIntosh, about vital components of success for youth athletes looking to move forward and do better in competition. Ian is one of the lead instructors in the upcoming Championship Bouldering Intensive December 30th-30st at San Diego’s Mesa Rim Climbing Training Center.

After setting the last five Youth Bouldering Championships I am confident saying that mental errors far outweigh lack of ability or fitness for most competitors. – Ian McIntosh

What are the biggest mistakes you see youth athletes make at Nationals?

“Mistake” is a severe word, however, many athletes fail to execute at their full potential under the stresses and pressures at the National Championship level. After setting the last five Youth Bouldering Championships I am confident saying that mental errors far outweigh lack of ability or fitness for most competitors. At the National Championship level, almost anyone at the event stands a chance to make finals based on physical ability alone, but those who consistently actually do make finals, are those who have trained their mental focus with same discipline as their fitness training.

What is your overall goal at a National level competition as chief route setter?

As Chief Setter for the Youth Bouldering Nationals the last two years and again this season, our goal is to create rounds of problems with movement that tests for the most well rounded and smartest climber. Simply the strongest climber winning comps on straightforward power problems is a thing of the past. Competition movement for both adults and youth has continued to become more complex and technically demanding.

Particularly for the youth, which now tend to make up about half of the open finalist categories as well, have forced setting in a more technical direction. The kids don’t climb like kids anymore! The top of the field climb like seasoned athletes that are highly technically proficient and disciplined in their comp strategy. Consequently, to perform well at the Bouldering National Championship, a competitor must maintain a high degree of mental composure, focus, and strategy.

How will the Mesa Rim Bouldering Intensive help prepare athletes for Championship events?

The Mesa Rim Bouldering Intensive is a one time event that will give competitors an opportunity to learn, practice, and analyze their competition strategy in a simulated National Championship environment. We will be running participants through multiple rounds of onsite competition with direct coaching from pro coaches and pro athletes who understand the pressures and stresses (internal and external) that competitors endure. Rarely do competitors actually get to practice Championship onsite competition. The Mesa Rim Training Center is a perfect venue to host this type of simulation, from the comp walls that previously hosted the IFSC Bouldering World Cup to the athletes that have been there in a finals round and setters who have crafted the National Championship problems.

What advice do you have for youth athletes competing at Championship level events?

Compete in the moment. Once your four minutes starts, the only thing that matters is the attempt you are about to give. You are very talented and have trained all year for this event. Do not get tunnel visioned and revert to bad habits under the pressure of the event or stress of a poor previous attempt. Stay composed, focused, and give 100% effort on the only attempt that matters, which is the one you are about to give.

– Ian McIntosh

Learn more about the Championship Bouldering Intensive on Mesa Rim’s website.

Championship Bouldering Intensive at Mesa Rim Climbing Training Center
When: Wed, Dec 30th-Thu, Dec 31st from 9am-4pm
(optional pre-clinic Dec 29th at 6pm)
Where: Mesa Rim Climbing Training Center
10070 Mesa Rim Rd. San Diego, CA, 92121
Cost: $475
Special pricing for Team Mesa Rim – inquire with Head Coach rosie@mesarim.com
Ages: 7-19

This two-day clinic will be instructed by hand-picked pro climbers, coaches, and setters:
Garrett Gregor – Team ABC Coach / ABS Nationals Finalist
Angie Payne – Pro Climber / ABS Nationals Finalist / IFSC World Cup Finalist
Ronnie Dickson – Pro ParaClimber / IFSC World Cup Finalist
Enrico Baistrocchi – Pro Climber / Mesa Rim Coach / Italian Federation Coach
Rosie Bates – Head Coach of Team Mesa Rim
Ian McIntosh – USAC Chief Setter for Youth Bouldering National Championships in 2014, 2015, and 2016

The Championship Bouldering Intensive will be very similar in format to the 2015 USA Climbing Bouldering Team Training Camp earlier this year in Colorado. Watch the video below:

Member of the Month: Jessica Peterson

Jessica PetersonCongrats to December’s Member of the Month: Jessica Peterson

What is it about climbing that you love the most?
I definitely love the challenge. While I work on getting back into shape I work on tackling harder climbs as often as I can. As soon as I top a project I’m always looking for the next one, even if it takes me a few days to succeeded.

How did you find your way to Mesa Rim?
I found Mesa Rim through my high school climbing club. I’m an alumni and when I moved back to the city my teacher told me to meet her here and I never looked back!

What are 3 things you love to do besides climbing?
I’ve recently picked up fishing off the pier in Oceanside and try to go every week (I caught a sting ray!) I’m actually enrolled in culinary school and spend vast portions of time baking these days. And most importantly I love bubble baths! Hot bubble baths help you feel and smell better for that next trip to the gym🙂

If you had a theme song what would it be?
“I’m So Excited” as in “I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it, I’m about to lose control and I think I like it whoa yeah!”

If you could have dinner with a famous/historical person, who would it be?
(Assuming they don’t actually have to still be alive?) Steve Irwin. He was one of my idols growing up, and seriously, how could you not enjoy dinner with the Crocodile Hunter?

What is your spirit animal?
My spirit animal is probably the bear. I can be a big snuggly monster. All teeth claws and growling if I don’t want you around, but downright soft-hearted when it comes to people close to me.

If you could only smell one thing for an entire day what would you choose?
If I could only smell one thing for the day it would be the ocean. It’s refreshing, it’s beautiful, I was born in San Diego, the ocean never gets boring!

Open Season by Joseph Legotte

As September fades into October one cannot help but incessantly check the weather reports in constant hope of numbers in the 50’s or 60’s. Regardless of how many times a week you type Buttermilks into climbingweather.com, the knowledge that Halloween weekend will likely be the first trip of the season is the ever present thought. The training that was or was supposed to be completed over summer looms as the thought of hard sends and completed projects form in the mind. Doubts and uncertainties about strength and fitness weigh down as a childlike eagerness fights against it. The rock awaits, and for those like me who unfortunately forget to climb outdoors over summer, the anticipation is insurmountable.

The first trip of the season reinvigorates a state of mind which surpasses even the simplicity nestled within the physical side of climbing. This mindset began creeping back into me during the drive up to Bishop as we neared the town of Lone Pine on the 395. The Eastern Sierras had finally revealed their paramount magnificence and the mileage signs with Bishop in reflective white plastered on neon green kept decreasing at a seemingly accelerated rate. In less than an hour I knew I would be driving past the golf course on the outskirts of town, past the local haunts of many a visiting climber: Schats, Black Sheep, Great Basin, Gear Exchange, and around the gentle left bend in the road that turns and heads straight towards the mountains. I had returned. It was all happening again and soon I was to be graced with all the grandeur that the Eastern Sierras offered.

I must say, the climbing part of the trip was fantastic (as it usually is). I felt stronger than ever on the rock, and pushed high points on many of my projects. However, rather than dive into specifics and countless boring details regarding the elemental purity of the climbing in which I was engaged, I want to delve into that overall state of mind that undoubtedly accompanies us every time we embark on our climbing excursions. There are a multitude of contributing factors that synergistically enable climbing as an activity to provide much more to us than the superficial movement. If climbing was done solely for the physicality it would not hold such sway with us. Oftentimes in a gym setting it is easy to forget that through climbing we can burrow into a deeper understanding and appreciation of the universe and the forces at play. Those who engage the geologic rock, in contrast to polyurethane substitutes however, will discover much more than a mere physical or mental challenge. Aspects such as whereabouts, sleeping arrangements, food, and travel companions may seem fringe at best, but I would make the argument that it is precisely this accumulation of minor elements, events, and remembrances that coalesce to construct what is to be experienced as an enlightened joviality.

One cannot help but loathe, outwardly or secretly, the short hike up into the Happies. Nonetheless, it was the first place Rick and I arrived at after six hours in the car and a quick stop at Giggle Springs for water. Giggle Springs is a local gas station in Bishop. Stopping there to fill up for water even promotes an element of comfort. I cannot help but note the startling power of the hand pump as it overflows my water bottles within seconds, the last rush waning slowly even after disengaging the pump, and the satisfaction in finally learning when to shut it off so as not to waste a drop. Each minute act seamlessly flowed into the next. It was like the beginning of weaving or crocheting a familiar pattern, a slow accumulation that appeared and felt more and more intimate with each move. Our next move was pulling onto Chalk Bluff Road which leads into the Volcanic Tablelands. Taking that first turn onto it can only be described as instant happiness. Winding down the bumpy dirt road fills one with anticipation, as each bend invigorates a desire to see the lone porta potty with cars lined past it. Pads are thrown out of the cars, limbs stretched, and gear is subsequently crammed into the pads which are then hoisted onto backs. The gritty sand slides between your sandals and feet as each step takes you a tiny bit further towards the cluster of volcanic boulders awaiting. Enough visits warrants recognition of familiar turns in the path and the procession of boulders leading up and into the long, gently North West curving canyon. It was time, I was finally resuming the life I had longed for all summer, the life as a climber in Bishop.

The solitary, circular beam of my headlamp illuminates a path across the campground at night, flirting back and forth with the gentle bobbing of my head, disappearing occasionally for stolen glances at the Milky Way stretching and bending across the horizons, soon to be outshone by the rising moon to the East. Orion, one of my most beloved friends and bearer of the Fall climbing season stands stately above, another twenty three seemingly solitary beams of light amalgamating into form and myth. Camping is realistically one of the only times people are okay with donning a head lamp intent on traipsing to a potentially potent pit toilet in the ever enveloping darkness. I cannot reiterate how intensely I realized in that first nighttime trip to what I can only assume to be the namesake of the campground, that it was precisely my head lamp’s circularity upon the dusty, trodden ground that produced a distinct vitality and enthusiasm to be back in Bishop. It sparked a stream of thoughts on which I dwelled for the rest of the trip. This resulted in my making note of the recurrent experiences I was having while concurrently engaging in a cognizant perception of my surrounds and the otherwise forgotten minutia that littered the trip.

Suddenly I could not but help loving every single aspect of my time there, because it was not only a tribute to past trips, but to future ones as well. Almost missing the green church on the way to the hot springs felt so appropriate. Running into coworkers and Mesa climbers alike was a new yet significant feeling in the Buttermilks. It all contributed something wonderful; whether it was sitting around the campfire as friends jammed on instruments, sleeping on my not yet broken in crash pads, sharing food and eating in a voracious and slightly unhealthy manner, lounging in the delicate warmth of natural hot springs with the mountains and skies gleaming from overhead, or allowing myself to be lured into a night session in the Sads after an already full day of climbing on four hours of sleep and six hours of driving, I welcomed it all with ever widening arms. It astonishes me each trip just how much can be accomplished. A surprising amount of excitement and pleasure can be packed into three days and two nights in Bishop, as long as you are prepared to take full advantage of it.

Our penultimate stop on the way out was Burger Barn. Nothing in Bishop feels more deserved after a day or weekend of climbing than a great burger, fries and shake. It is unbeatable in my opinion when it comes to relatively inexpensive food in Bishop. It was there that I finally saw the other front desker out there that weekend, Kim, with her giant group of friends all packed into a rented 15 person van. Much in similarity to the Pit or Blacksheep, Burger Barn is one of those communal meeting places, where fellow climbers congregate after a day of hard climbing to relax, reflect, and relive. I tend to find equanimity when surrounded by friends new and old at the end of a climbing trip while waiting in line to order. Burger Barn was one of the final reminders of everything that makes Bishop my favorite place to climb. It is all that I could want in a small town eatery, the dingy feel of the walk-up window, the cheerfulness of the crew working there, satisfying food in appreciable quantities, and a medley of mismatched tables and seating arrangements strewn about the grounds. I can recall vividly the bright neon, purplish glow of the open sign, espied far down the road at night driving back from the Milks. It’s shine radiates a warmth signaling a return to something civilized and comfortable. The simplicity of that neon sign functions as a beacon for all, gesticulating what the Bishop area holds not just in terms of climbing, but opportunities for worthwhile experiences beyond the rapacious sensuality with which we approach the rock. That neon light, the other solitary headlamps scattered about the nights, the lustrousness of the celestial bodies thusly more accessible in the mountains, and the lights that are illuminated as the passions we each harbor as climbers, become intermingled and woven into the makings of what is and always will be, the finest climbing trips.

Joseph Legotte – Mesa Rim Front Desk Team

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.