Stem Cell Soup by Tara Kerzhner

It only took 10 hours to undo 3 years of disarray from my hard drive. Complacency that festered into anarchy. Thousands of images seen running nude through dusty backups while duplicate exports lay quivering in silence, praying to the big terabyte in the sky that they won't be deleted. 

The experience has been sobering. Alas, it was a major step forward for my organizational weakness. The highlight was getting to wade through the sea of memories and relive each place, one (categorized by date) folder at a time. 

Which brings me to - Rocklands. 

 One of the files running around without any pants on - A South African Sunrise

One of the files running around without any pants on - A South African Sunrise

We spent the month of June running around like a couple of gazelles in the hot African sun. Greg and I were trying a tasty arete called Tomorrow I'll be Gone. In an effort to get a closer look at the crux high off the ground, I used my 200mm lens. 

 Disappointing was an understatement. 

Disappointing was an understatement. 

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It took the entire trip to come to the realization that Greg's beta was better than my beta, and I relied on a series of pre-dawn wake up calls and partner yahtzee to send.

For Greg, graced with the first cold day of our trip, he finally got to stand on top of Tomorrow I'll be Gone. A climb that he'd begrudgingly spent more days on than any other problem in Rocklands. Great success!

 Greg looking down on Tomorrow I'll be Gone

Greg looking down on Tomorrow I'll be Gone

The next boulder de jour was El Corazon, a heart shaped cube featuring a huge sideways lung to crimp. On warmer days, he'd tried the finishing moves on the safety of a rope.

When he stuck the crux move I was elated, but the rest is kind of history. Greg slipped with his hand on the lip of the boulder, millimeters away from sending. Instead he landed on the single layer of foam, which was enough to shatter his ankle.

 A previous attempt on El Corazon, v13

A previous attempt on El Corazon, v13

After Greg's surgery in Cape Town, we flew home to spent the next few months recovering in Portland. Four months post-op we both knew he was going to need a second surgery. There were still bone floaters, a hole in his Talus, and his Tibia had a serious snaggle tooth scenario that was causing impingement. 

We began the long and horrible process of meeting with various surgeons in the PNW. Every doctor we saw had a different song to sing. We even paid one Seattle doctor $800 to tell us that Greg would never hike again, and his cartilage was ruined. Thankfully, we kept looking with the support and encouragement our friends (Rudy, Logan, Cassie, SJ, Jonathan, Mike).

A couple weeks later Greg was climbing 5.14 again - at Smith Rock no less. Maybe he couldn’t hike, but he could still slab campus. Once a mad rock athlete, always a mad rock athlete.

While we waited to find the right surgeon, we traveled south to the VRG. Greg invested in some top shelf trekking poles and we were off to climb at another crag with a manageable approach. I wanted to try something hard at the VRG to take my mind off of the whirlwind of life stress. So I picked Don't Call Me Dude, a fierce little route with a fuerte boulder problem at the 3rd bolt. When we got there, it was just me and 40 other people trying it, so it was super chill. 

 Looking completely zen and relaxed in the crux. Paige De Kock Photo

Looking completely zen and relaxed in the crux. Paige De Kock Photo

After what Greg claimed was the longest belay of his life, I made it to the anchor having done all the moves. Ten days later, and much to my surprise, I one hung from under the crux at the third bolt to the top. I was confident I could do the route. 

Meanwhile we received a call from The Steadman Clinic - A world renowned sports medicine orthopedic hospital in Vail, CO. Upon meeting with us, the foot and ankle surgeon at Steadman seemed enthusiastic and positive about Greg’s outlook. He accepted our case and we left with surgery booked for February 6th. For the first time since the day Greg fell in Rocklands, there was some light at the end of the tunnel. 

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We returned to the VRG, tried to focus on our projects and watched our friends send literally the whole crag. First Nik Berry, then Sam Elias, and Pincus, then Michaela and Paige and Emily! Greg sent Horse Latitudes and Route of all Evil. Paige sent a rig from her life list, Nessessary Evil and Emily sent Don't Call me Dude. So much try hard from all the Slaydies and Sendlemen at the crag. Honorable mention to Nick and Joel on Fall of man! 

 Getting to work DCMD with Emily was wonderufl and reduced the sting of my post-vail regression when I got to see her slay it for both of us. 

Getting to work DCMD with Emily was wonderufl and reduced the sting of my post-vail regression when I got to see her slay it for both of us. 

On February 4th I drove to Vail knowing that this could be the end of the ankle saga. All the stress and uncertainty leading up to this appointment started to fade, and being with Greg throughout this process proved to be the only thing that really mattered to me. 

After the operation our surgeon enthusiastically explained that Greg's cartilage had looked better than expected (F-you Seattle doctor), and the surgery was a success. A stem cell, bone marrow soup was poured into the (smaller than expected) hole in his Talus, and left to marinate at 350 degrees for 6 weeks. Considering Greg’s age and health, he’s expected to be at the high end of the spectrum for recovery. Yay!

Again, the first and only good news we’ve received this entire time. I can't even explain in words the relief we feel. Thank you to all of our supportive friends and family. This process has been very difficult, and it really helped knowing all of you were there for us.

We’re currently in Boulder where we’ll stay until Greg is recovered. He's going to be non-weight bearing for 6 weeks, and full weight bearing by 10 weeks. I have some work trips planned for March, and maybe I’ll squeeze in a return trip to the VRG for my unfinished business on Don't Call me Dude.  

 Photo by Arjan De Kock

Photo by Arjan De Kock

Australia. But most importantly, Koalas. by Tara Kerzhner

Koalas. Those square shaped prince and princesses of the eucalyptus forest. Those fluffy grey balls of joy. So wise, perched high in their rent controlled eucalyptus condos. Likely tired from a long night of filing their taxes, or wistfully dreaming of their upcoming vacation to Barbados. A real highlight of the visit has been these adorable tree-kitties. 

Then of course you have your Kangaroos. The creeps of the Australian Outback. Making direct eye contact for just long enough to make you both uncomfortable. This is usually followed by a breaking point in which they bound away, mocking you with their gazelle-like agility and grace, and zig zagging into oncoming traffic while laughing hysterically. 

The Emu. We're all embarrassed about the way you look. 

As for the climbing. We came here with one intention, The Taipan wall. The wooly worm shaped orange wall that one could only dream to visit. Perfect stone, so far away. 

I think it's always a challenge to set goals on these short trips. You don't want to leave empty handed, but you want to challenge yourself. Thankfully the lines we both wanted to do, were both striking and too perfect to pass up. Greg set his sights on Groove Train, probably one of the most beautiful routes I've ever seen. It starts with a heinous looking 13a that Greg joked to be the crux of the entire route, 14b. 

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Greg flashing Groovy, the first pitch of Groove Train. He flashed it, then he un-flashed it, then he sent it again, then he sent the whole route in 8 tries. 

Greg doing what he does best. Splitting all of his tips.

Here's Mike on the full span crux of Groovy. 

And here's Mike sticking the last hard move of Groove Train. 

Leslye working her way up the ultra-classic Mr. Joshua. So cordial that Mr. Joshua. Monocle and all. 

 

Leslye lowers after a working burn on Mr. Joshua. 

On rest days we hiked, hunted for Koalas, and went and watched the madness that is Arapiles.

Here, a young peter pan attempts a barefoot free solo before down climbing back to safety. What you can't see is his headlamp. Always prepare for darkness at 11am. Always.

#baewatch

We already knew this, but Australians are really nice. Here's Stu taking the king of all whippers on Snakes on a Train, a 14a link up that links a 12c first pitch with the upper headwall on Groove Train. 

Just have a seat why don't you.

My goal for the Taipan wall was Serpentine, 13b. Probably one of the most famous routes of it's grade in the world. The only problem, was that I was scared like a little tiny kitten inside of a tiny teacup. Scared for no real reason at all actually...and I almost convinced myself not to try it at all. 

Thankfully, I got the fuck over it and went up the route, quickly one-hanging and finally sending. Here's Greg jumaring up to belay me. So nice this one. 

The last 20 feet of Serpentine is incredible. You finish at the top of cliff, and if you're me, you pull the lip and just sit there for a second...shaming yourself for ever doubting the chance to climb this route in the first place. Then you jump off, since there's no anchor... Thanks Vikki and Colette for the beta and encouragement <3

Projects finished, Greg and I sampled some other routes before heading east on a whim to check out the Blue Mountains. Here's the amazing Venom, 13a. (photo by Greg) So. Good that wooly worm. 

Pick a man that can spell your name, is what my mother always said. 

Blue Mountains. Not pretty.

Greg thinking skinny for his project at Eliphinstone. 

So here we are, Blue Mountains till the end of the week. Then we shall leave these adorable, Koala filled lands. 

Thanks for the socks, mom. 

 

 

 

Distractions from the South East by Tara Kerzhner

I know I know, these aren't #moonboard photos. You're probably feeling confused by this. Maybe you're sitting down, reading this on your laptop while clutching your iPhone in an attempt to study that benchmark v9 you failed on last night.

Alas, all I have for you is photos of outside rock climbing. A simple distraction from the daily realization that the sky is falling, and behind the ceiling of broken clouds, is a giant manchild who looks like an expired cheeto. 

So here you have some photos from nature, in the South Eastern United States. The best bouldering this side of the Mississippi. 

 Jonathan on The Shield&nbsp;

Jonathan on The Shield 

 Greg primps his project. Mani Pedi.&nbsp;

Greg primps his project. Mani Pedi. 

 The old 'attempt to take photos while spotting' trick

The old 'attempt to take photos while spotting' trick

 The SE has the prettiest features in all the land. If you don't like it, you probably don't like rock climbing.&nbsp;

The SE has the prettiest features in all the land. If you don't like it, you probably don't like rock climbing. 

 And it was a lovely day of dancing with shadows. Isn't that nice?&nbsp;

And it was a lovely day of dancing with shadows. Isn't that nice? 

 Mikey!

Mikey!

 I'm just going to put this iphone picture of Kim here. Because...well because I heart her. I wish I could put her in my pocket and take her everywhere.&nbsp;

I'm just going to put this iphone picture of Kim here. Because...well because I heart her. I wish I could put her in my pocket and take her everywhere. 

 Risking my life

Risking my life

 Matt Ginley with the green hat beta on a v10 traverse across the Deception Boulder

Matt Ginley with the green hat beta on a v10 traverse across the Deception Boulder

 Me on Super Mario. Polaroid by Jessa&nbsp;

Me on Super Mario. Polaroid by Jessa 

 The cold day routine with Edwin and Ali

The cold day routine with Edwin and Ali

 Jessa on Red House #dryrockwetpussies

Jessa on Red House #dryrockwetpussies

 Julie exhibiting her strength on an attempt at repeat glory. She's so strong and niceeeee.&nbsp;

Julie exhibiting her strength on an attempt at repeat glory. She's so strong and niceeeee. 

 Don't forget to breath, Edwin.

Don't forget to breath, Edwin.

 Julie on Red House

Julie on Red House

 Me on Deception. Photo by Greg.&nbsp;

Me on Deception. Photo by Greg. 

 Mandi crushing slopers

Mandi crushing slopers

 Greg taking the whip on The Shield&nbsp;

Greg taking the whip on The Shield 

 A young man with a man bun.&nbsp;

A young man with a man bun. 

Mallorca in photos. Mostly. by Tara Kerzhner

 Greg warms up on Surfer Dead, 11b. Amazing pockets with a committing crux that comes in the last moves.

Greg warms up on Surfer Dead, 11b. Amazing pockets with a committing crux that comes in the last moves.

 Wide view of The Diablo Wall. Greg climbing through the juggy pockets on Surfer Dead on the left side of the cave.&nbsp;

Wide view of The Diablo Wall. Greg climbing through the juggy pockets on Surfer Dead on the left side of the cave. 

 To get out of Diablo wall, you either send your project or climb out soaking wet on the 10d pictured here.&nbsp;

To get out of Diablo wall, you either send your project or climb out soaking wet on the 10d pictured here. 

 Warming up on Surfer Dead

Warming up on Surfer Dead

 Greg doing a little route finding

Greg doing a little route finding

 Didn't find the route.

Didn't find the route.

 Pretty Things

Pretty Things

 The famous dyno on loskot and two smoking barrels.

The famous dyno on loskot and two smoking barrels.

 Friend.&nbsp;

Friend. 

 Me on Ejector Seat.&nbsp;  Picking a deep water solo project in Mallorca came with a lot hesitation on my part. Cuz, shit is so scary to me. In fact, one of the reasons I picked Ejector Seat was because I was 100% certain I'd never do it. &nbsp;It didn't feel as safe as the vertical stemming project I had at Summersville Lake, WV and it took Greg more than 2 tries (see-impossible for me). It was steep, and committing with huge move followed by huge move.  It's obvious to me that deep water soloing can't be just about climbing such and such grade, like much of climbing tends to be focused on. It's more about the balance of fear and effort. Trying hard moves while embracing fear rather than trying to rationalize it. So when the stars aligned and I wasn't crippled with fear, I felt elated. I felt all the feels. People kind of lose their shit when they go to Mallorca, and I think I might be one of those people now.   I sent on our last day of the short two week trip, topping out the Diablo Cave with all of our crazy euro friends in the cave, screaming below.  I think that moment might be one of the most memorable moments in climbing I've ever had.&nbsp;

Me on Ejector Seat. 

Picking a deep water solo project in Mallorca came with a lot hesitation on my part. Cuz, shit is so scary to me. In fact, one of the reasons I picked Ejector Seat was because I was 100% certain I'd never do it.  It didn't feel as safe as the vertical stemming project I had at Summersville Lake, WV and it took Greg more than 2 tries (see-impossible for me). It was steep, and committing with huge move followed by huge move.

It's obvious to me that deep water soloing can't be just about climbing such and such grade, like much of climbing tends to be focused on. It's more about the balance of fear and effort. Trying hard moves while embracing fear rather than trying to rationalize it. So when the stars aligned and I wasn't crippled with fear, I felt elated. I felt all the feels. People kind of lose their shit when they go to Mallorca, and I think I might be one of those people now.

I sent on our last day of the short two week trip, topping out the Diablo Cave with all of our crazy euro friends in the cave, screaming below. I think that moment might be one of the most memorable moments in climbing I've ever had. 

 The #shamecave at Diablo Wall. I always felt like that cat on the "hang in there" poster when I was trying to claw my way up that rope ladder, and get back into the cave. You know that poster. You know the one.&nbsp;

The #shamecave at Diablo Wall. I always felt like that cat on the "hang in there" poster when I was trying to claw my way up that rope ladder, and get back into the cave. You know that poster. You know the one. 

 Greg on the send of an 8b on the left side of the Diablo Wall.&nbsp;

Greg on the send of an 8b on the left side of the Diablo Wall. 

 Greg in his happy place.&nbsp;

Greg in his happy place. 

 The ever-so important feet shot, while trying not to think about the sharp limestone threaders that my rope is attached to.

The ever-so important feet shot, while trying not to think about the sharp limestone threaders that my rope is attached to.

 Till next year.&nbsp;

Till next year. 

In Transit by Tara Kerzhner

 Last Light in Mallorca, Spain

Last Light in Mallorca, Spain

 The view from the Diablo wall in Mallorca

The view from the Diablo wall in Mallorca

 The way out.&nbsp;

The way out. 

 Taking the bus into Reykjavík, Iceland at 6:00am

Taking the bus into Reykjavík, Iceland at 6:00am

 Reykjavík tourist things.

Reykjavík tourist things.

 Reflections in a Reykjavík Coffee Shop

Reflections in a Reykjavík Coffee Shop

 Attempting to shoot landscape photos while inside the moving tour bus.&nbsp;

Attempting to shoot landscape photos while inside the moving tour bus. 

 In motion.&nbsp;

In motion. 

 Downtown Reykjavík

Downtown Reykjavík

 Greg and his dad, Ilya in Baltimore

Greg and his dad, Ilya in Baltimore

 Ilya Kerzhner

Ilya Kerzhner

 The production Crew for the Summersville Lake DWS comp go for a group climb.&nbsp;

The production Crew for the Summersville Lake DWS comp go for a group climb. 

 Scouting Day.

Scouting Day.

 If you know Zak Roper, caption need not apply.&nbsp;

If you know Zak Roper, caption need not apply. 

Here's our highlight reel from the comp. I edited this with Kevin Riley, and am currently working on the longer short film. Yay. 

 Tom is a goofball. This is for another video short for ClimbTech coming out later this year.&nbsp;

Tom is a goofball. This is for another video short for ClimbTech coming out later this year.