Bucket List Climbs

Checking off my Climber's Bucket List: After spending almost a year writing No Barriers, this fall was a time for me to renew my commitment to climbing. For years, I’ve  wanted to attempt several classic routes across the U.S. I started my new No Barriers journey in Yosemite Valley, the epicenter of climbing. Along with Charley Mace, Timmy O’Neill, Geoff Tabin, and the “King of El Cap,” Hans Florine, I completed what National Geographic Online described as “the first one-day Blind Ascent of El Cap," a little misleading since I’m the only blind person to attempt it.

Photo Credit: Connor Koch

The next adventure awaited deep in the heart of the Utah desert: Moses, a prominent desert tower overlooking the twisting trenches of Canyonlands National Park. Following a bumpy ride in with fellow Scarpa athlete Rob Pizem, desert rat and ski-shop-owner Mike Brumbaugh, and my young teammate Connor Koch, we ascended 7 pitches of perfect sandstone. After wedging myself into cracks, pulling small, nearly frictionless holds, and a few no-hands rests in the infamous "Ear of Moses," we topped out on the sheer spire and enjoyed the vista by listening to the echo of our voices reverberate off the canyon walls.

Photo Credit: Connor Koch

With winter looming, I decided on one more long route, here in my home state of Colorado. Timmy O’Neill, Mike Brumbaugh and I headed south to climb the Scenic Cruise, a 13-pitch monster in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. We camped on the rim and, in the chill of dawn, descended deep into the trench, scrambling down loose rock and over crumbly ledges. For the climb, Mike and Timmy traded leads on the unending traverses, smooth cracks, and tricky sequences of the Precambrian rock. My favorite part: we topped out on the rim and plopped right into our campsite for beers and guacamole - no scary, ADA-violating descent; we’d already taken care of that in the morning.

Keep Climbing,

Erik