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.