Thursday, October 13, 2011


No, not the Ministry classic...though, I guess these events took place around the same time. I'm talking about a story from back in the day, before crows feet and back hair; and, at the risk of crossing genres: "In the days of my youth, I was told what it means to be a man." This is a tale that tells of youthful exuberance and lessons in humility.

So, thanks to David Crothers and Climberism Magazine for the inspiration to share my story of the old days, back home, where it all began.

Head over to Climberism, subscibe (it's a free, ad-supported online mag - and I promise, spam-free as well), then check out issue 8 for my feature article. I'd also love some feedback, good, bad or indiffernt, so please - fire away!

Monday, July 18, 2011

gettin' down and dirty

...hit The Great One (bridger range) with Chris Ebeling the other day and found super-awesome, amazing-sweet turns in the upper couloir; the lower, not so much.  It looks like the wet spring and lower elevation cleaned things out considerably and devastated some of the forest below - pretty gnar.  Regardless, the upper stretch alone is well worth the trip right now.

Here's a quick shot of the bottom feeding:
oh, and remember, head to vimeo if you're down with the hd...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer Skiing (some are not)

July 9, 2011...We missed the classic 4th of July mark for die-hard, celebratory backcountry skiing, but perhaps with the record snowpack this year, that benchmark should be pushed back; August 4 would likely be a more accurate test of the hardcore's resolve to chase an endless season this time around.

As noted in my previous post, I didn't exactly get around to skiing this past winter season -- like, zero, nadda, nil, zilch days on the boards since wrapping up ten months of consecutive turns in July of 2010.  This has left me not only a little confused, but also pretty hungry for the sensations of glide and exposure (not to mention, a fiendish Need For Speed).  And so it goes...after riding out far too many rainy weeks on the couch and having once more tasted the sweetness of spring corn as the clouds have parted, I've been a solar-powered, Red Bull-fueled, early-rising, creek-crossing, farmer-tanned (red-necked-whitey is more like it) aspect-chasing machine.  I simply can't get enough and my quads are ready to explode.

Here's a quick vid from the other day (watch on Vimeo in HD and full-screen, with volume cranked for maximum viewing enjoyment):

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Great Weather for Ducks

Not much to report, unless you're interested in my rantings of pent-up emotion as a result of staring at the same four walls, watching incessant rain course over window panes and the spring climbing opportunities wash away...  wwmftd?

Despite this being the rainiest season I can remember, I did manage a high-quality outing with good friend and partner Drew Ruderman - damning the rain and Positive Mental Attitude intact, we made a honest effort to bag one of the ephemeral mixed lines on the south face of Beehive Peak, near Big Sky.  The routes can be amazing, but given their elevation and aspect, require pretty specific weather conditions.

This season, the melt/freeze cycle needed to form ice on the typically sunny face became more and more of a melt/melt cycle, so we opted for Plan B and enjoyed record snow on the east ridge of the peak.  Classic and moderate terrain was tempered with copious snow and firm, frozen conditions on the north aspect eased the challenge of 5th class mixed climbing in ski boots, while to the contrary, the boards strapped to my back behaved like the sails of a great ship in strong, shifting, erratic winds, tossing me off balance when least expected.

After simul-climbing from the east col, adrenaline began to pump hard and fast as I clicked into my skis on the summit and felt the enormous exposure circling, spinning 360 degrees of extreme consequence and threatening to pull me into an apprehension-fueled vertigo.  Not having been on skis since July of 2010, these would be my first turns of the year.  I opted for a belay. 

Once in motion, I felt at home and suddenly the summit descent seemed a little anticlimactic.  Off belay and a body length of down-climbing put me at the top of a 300cm-wide gully that ran out to a pocket of snow perched over yet more exposure - a quick hipcheck on my last turn in the pocket, only a few feet from the edge of the world, reminded me that this was indeed still very real terrain. A billy goat traverse linked to the top of a much larger gully and beautiful turns above one last pinch.  A short hike up and over the west col brought us to the top of the Fourth of July Couloir and a cruiser descent on down to the tall boys we'd stashed in the snowbank back at the trailhead.

Now let the sun shine...

Drew Ruderman amplifying his power and will high on the east ridge - PMA Bob, PMA...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Alpinist TV

Like most of us, I love a good ego stroking -- even if I have to do it myself sometimes (yes, by all means, feel free to read into the innuendo, that's part of the fun in this self-deprecating shtick).  I love the validation I feel when complimented on my abilities as an instructor or when sponsors keep me on year after year...there's some sense of relief I feel (along with the lightness of being that my ballooning ego provides); a sense of relief that perhaps this climbing gig isn't a total farce, a waste of an otherwise (potentially) useful member of the working class.

Imagine my ecstasy when I received email, out of the blue from the crew at, expressing interest in one of my nascent video shorts.  From my first reaction to now, I've run through a gamut of feelings that I can only imagine closely follows suit to those experienced by monkeys you might have seen at the zoo, as they first discover the simplicity and apparant joy found in their public display of pleasuring themselves in the most imaginative of ways.

Disregarding my drivel... I'm sincerely flattered and utterly stoked to be associated with Alpinist TV.  Many thanks to Daniel Starr and Keese Lane for taking note and their continued encouragement.  You guys are awesome.

You can follow the links to check out the featuring of these vids on Alpinist.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I, uhh....sorta fell behind the curve once more.  All the same, happy to report that the Cody Ice Fest was a blast again this year.  Don Foote does an amazing job of putting it all together and really pulls off a great event.  New Belgium Brewing definitely does their part as well (bottomless Ranger IPA's -- dear lord...).  And of course a huge thanks goes out to Black Diamond and Sterling Ropes for their support also.

Confession time: by mid-February I'm usually pretty well sated in terms of my appetite for ice climbing so, while Cody is renowned for it's long, continuous ice lines, word is slipping out on the high-quality bouldering to be had just on the edge of town (shirtless in the winter sun no less), I was quite happy to sneak in an afternoon of pure, sandstone-pullin' joy in good company.

Marko: getting full-value from his Five-Tenies.

LoLo: saving the day with a delicious beverage.

Doug Shepard did a great job of warming the stage for Jack Tackle as team BD provided the entertainment for Friday evening and the beer flowed freely as we all mingled and laid plans for the following morning.

Doug and Jack: covering the finer points, err, pints.

Saturday was a fantastic clinic day for me with a few familiar faces and a couple of new friends, covering lots of material on the super-classic Broken Hearts.  At the end of the day, my best "teachable moment" was backing off the very top of pitch three... I tried left; I tried right; center was missing and replaced with a surging cascade of ice water that revealed just how little of the entire pitch was actually attached to the wall.  So, I stuck to my plan and backed off exactly where I told my students I would.  In discussing the matter and how to decide when to back off in general, I stressd the point (to my group of six dudes) that "I've backed off way easier stuff in front of way hotter chics than you guys."

Broken Hearts, Pitch 1: everybody up!

More Rangers; Majka Burhardt on Ice Climbing and Africa, not in Africa; a massive dinner; the "Tough-Axe Awards" (I took first for easiest pitch backed off) and a drunken pull-up contest rounded out the evening.  Well, that and a few more Rangers...

Given the hangovers and the fallen temps, my partner Marko and I opted for a recovery day before presenting Sunday evening.  I filled in for Jim Shimberg on short notice, which was nice, since I had much less time to stress over getting my show together.  A quick assemblage of still shots with a soundtrack by The Melvins got things going and, much to my relief, everyone seemed to enjoy the collection of climbing vids that I put together.  Needless to say, I was pretty stoked to sit back and see the audience actually watching the show...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Home Field Advantage (talk about milage...)

I've been fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time on a few occasion.  Sometimes luck plays a greater role; other times it's more a matter of, I mean dedication, will and embodiment of pure spirit or some crap like that.  More often than not, nabbing a quality first ascent, particularly on ice or mixed terrain, has everything to do with the timing.

I often used to think that the more prolific first ascentionists had some sort of a deal with the devil thing going else could they keep nabbing all of these fine and ephemeral lines?  I wondered...  With the passage of time, and my own occasional good fortune, I've begun to realize that it is more likely a matter of wisdom or "mountain-sense" that leads to this serendipitous timing.

Scoring the F.A. on Home Field Advantage was the result of more than 10 years of diligent, patient waiting and watching.  It's a line that had caught my eye long ago, yet never really came into condition and more or less fell off my radar, outside of serious consideration.  I never really said much about it to anyone, nor did I hear of it mentioned by others.  All along, Joe Josephson was right there as well, also quietly watching...stalking from the sidelines.

Somewhere in the social network, I caught wind that John Frieh and Bryan Schmidtz would be in town and JoJo's "vague" description of where he thought they should go tipped me off.  I was like a fly to shit...there was no way I would miss the opportunity to catch this line I'd been spying on for an embarrassingly large portion of my adult life.

We ironed out plans and braved sub-zero temps -- our commitment to the project, despite the cold was rewarded with a fantastic day of climbing in the company of good friends; a memorable experience and the satisfaction of perseverance leading to success.

For the last few seasons, since our first ascent, the route has begun to form regularly and fatter than ever.  With this, the popularity of the line has surged and it's now considered a modern classic.  I recently visited Home Field with compatriots Marko Pujic and Craig Pope.  Below is a short video from that day; click away, go to full-screen and crank the volume.

Enjoy -

Also, check out for a little more route history.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A festivous for the rest of us...

Within the week following Jay Beyer's visit, the Bozeman Ice Festival was underway and I was in full swing for the ice season with clinics stacked up for three out of the four festival days (alas, I'm still not instructing for the women's clinic). This year's rig was super-fun to work, with great student to intructor ratios, a co-starring role next to Will Gadd (or is that supporting actor?) and a beautiful day at the Unnamed Wall with a small group of students for the "Full Value Deal" clinic, racking up sweet pitches and covering super-fun material while teaching on traditionally protected mixed routes.

You can view a series of reports on the festival at

Anchor clinic at G1, aka, "Here are a few quick and easy ways to not kill yourself."

Not a lot of protective system instruction happening on The Thrill is Gone.

With no rest for the wicked, festivous spilled over into the following days with more modeling for Black Diamond (read: posing) and a hilariously good time re-connecting with Gadd and Jonathan Thesenga, while getting to know new friends Ben Woodworth and Andrew Burr, who were on assignment from BD to capture action shots of the latest gear being put to the test, just in time to pimp it out at the Winter Outdoor Retailer tradeshow.

While I wasn't there to see it, I'm told that the image below was used in some sort of large-format display for the ice catagory at the BD booth. Thanks Burr!

Be sure to check out his sites as well: and

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Deadfall Gully

A few weeks ago Craig Pope and I were on our way to poke around in Hyalite for the afternoon when this fine little line caught our eyes.  It's short, sweet, and most notable for it's proximity to the Genesis 1 area, only minutes from the car.  I love the fact that you can still find new routes so easily around here...

Keeping with the theme of nearby routes, Willow Gully and Clump Tree Gull, we dubbed it Deadfall Gully, as the line is immediately adjacent to a large fallen tree that hangs from the top of the cliff.

The video is a bit rough, but considering the budget point-and-shoot source (which yeilds seriously blown out white values with little to no image stabilization {read into this as: I'm developing video nerd tendancies}), I see it as good editting practice if nothing else.


Deadfall Gully from Pete Tapley on Vimeo.

Monday, February 14, 2011

then along came winter...

Fresh on the heels of our new route on the north face of Mount Helen, I had two days to do some laundry, load the truck and shift gears back into sport mode.  Well, actually, before sport mode came road mode and three days of driving to reach the Red River Gorge, then two weeks of the best sport climbing I have ever seen - just pure fun.

Returning west was no easy task; leaving warm sandstone and easy living in trade for cold air and short days just didn't seem like a winning proposal, especially since I'd already gotten a fix for my mixed climbing jones in the Wind River Range just a few weeks prior.

Inevitably, I found my way back to Montana and started gearing up for the ice season.  Shortly thereafter, I got an email from my good friend and ace photog Jay Beyer -- he too was gearing up for the season and laying plans for a weekend in Hyalite to do some shooting for Black Diamond and Patagonia. 

Below are a couple of samples from our pose-fest on Home Field Advantage.  Be sure to check out his work and follow his blog at

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

More slack than spray...

I have a confession to make -- of late, I have begun to question my resolve to spray. It seems that each post begins apologetically with regard to the infrequency of my blogging. Perhaps I am not quite the spraylord that I want to be...perhaps renewed dedication is required...perhaps the sidetrack of Facebooking my spray has stolen away from the blog before it even had a chance to pick up momentum. In the end, it's hard sayin' not knowin'...

For the moment, I will adopt a shotgun-style approach to catch up on some back-spray.

The summer season wrapped up nicely after a couple months of touch-and-go weather. I finally made my way back to a favorite hideaway, quasi-secret crag and put an unfinished project to bed. Sticking with the all-things-spooky theme, the latest addition to the Bat Cave is Morticia, checking in at 5.13. It's a short, bouldery affair that's all about power-thrutching and pain management with a climax of fantastic footloose swinging from one side of the cave's apex to the other -- love it.


So what better way to followup a fine, extended sport climbing season then with a shift to some alpine climbing and an early jump on winter conditions? The second week of October found me heading south to the Wind River Range with Craig Pope and gunning for a long-sought after line on the north face of Mount Helen.

The trip was a grand success and the beginning of an excellent partnership. You see, Craig and I had never actually roped up together before tying in half-way up the face. We had crossed paths many times over at the crags in Hyalite Canyon the winter before and had a couple of beers together at various festivals and backyard barbecues, but had never actually gone out as a team prior to this. Needless to say, there's some shared excitement for climbing new routes.

Our new line on Helen gains a little over 3,000' in total with the top 1,200' taking a fairly direct path up the center of the peak's north face. We simul-climbed most of the terrain through 55-60 degree black ice, snow and several m4-5 steps, then belayed a couple of cruxes that stretched the rope out and checked in at m6 and 5.9R.

To both of us, the real beauty in our ascent was relishing how casually we managed to pull it off: leaving camp around noon time and ambling slowly on the approach to shoot video clips, we set off with the intent to acclimate, scout and establish a bootpack on the initial slopes, taking an active rest day in preparation for an early start the following morning. With perfect weather and a fire inside, momentum built...before long we were soloing high on the face and quickly approaching the steep ground above.  The excitement continued to grow, as did our speed, and we road a slingshot of enthusiasm all the way to the top, just in time to catch the sun setting behind the Grand Tetons, as a perfect crescent moon rose in the southeast.

Wrapping up our time in Wyoming with a visit to the Wind River Brewery in Pinedale (highly recommended btw) for some well-earned burgers and beers, we suffered the classic postpartum effect of leaving the experience in the past. While there was much to revel in, our success came too easily and left a bittersweet taste of both joy and disappointment. Fortunately, the two of us are easily excited and the lubricating effects of strong microbrews only aided our stoke as a solution became clear -- this would be our first annual Wind River micro-expedition. Rest assured, we filed away many, many new route possibilities for the future.

Look for the short film La Mirada del la Gitana at in the near future for a full and entertaining account of the adventure.