Love, Loss... Life by Mayan Smith-Gobat

In the most difficult times the beauty of the the world, life and people becomes most apparent. Watching death of a loved one is terrible an very sad, but has also made me appreciate simple, small things again, things that most of the time we all take for granted...

It forced me to stop, take good long look around me and see how much I have in this world. It has made me aware of all the wonderful supportive friends I have spread around the world and how wonderful this gift of life is. 

 A beautiful, tear-filled sunrise...

A beautiful, tear-filled sunrise...

The pain does not disappear, it lurks under the surface awaiting any moment of weakness when it can then take hold of my entire being. Through this vail of sorrow I can still see the light, the positive things that have come out of this situation and know that if she had to go, this was a relatively good way for it to happen... But it seems so unfair, so brutal, so abrupt. Why her, why one of the best most gentile kind and loving people I know.

 Dagmar, my dear mother in Yosemite - Loving life!

Dagmar, my dear mother in Yosemite - Loving life!

Yet, she lived a full life and now, I can only be thankful for having had her as my mother, for everything she gave me, for the appreciation of nature and life that she instilled in me from before I was born, for the wonderful experiences she shared with me and for the free spirited approach to life that she taught me. She was an amazing strong and loving mother... Though every sad to see her go, I am extremely thankful to have had the chance to be with her till the very end, to be able to feel her last breath, to give back a little piece of the love and caring she gave me, to be able to say goodbye to my dear mother and be able to let her go rather than have her taken from me without any warning.

 New beginnings... 

New beginnings... 

Letting go of someone so important to me, is a huge step - a terrifing leap into the gaping void... Yet this ending also brings a beginning. In the midst of the darkness there is always light and new opportunities, if one is open to seeing them. Slowly emerging from the void, I am discovering many parts of life which I had been neglected and appreciate all the things I take for granted. Thank you my dearest mother for believe in me and supporting my crazy ideas. You will live on in my heart forever...

And thank you to my family and friends for all of your support and love!

"In the end only three things matter...
How much you loved,
How gently you lived,
And how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you."

Buddha 


Place of Happiness by Mayan Smith-Gobat

In April Ben Rueck and I embarked on an amazing trip through Brazil to climb Stefan Glowacz's route "The Place of Happiness" on Pedra Riscada, an 850 meter granite dome. 

"Fear surged through my veins, my muscles tense as coiled springs, ready to explode at the slightest touch, yet relaxing was vital - I desperately fought to slow my breathing and calm my mind. Tenuously clinging to the dead vertical face, like one of the many small succulents which covered the wall, obscuring the holds. I was six hundred meters above the ground, with the last bolt out of sight, at least ten meters below my feet, and still unable see anything above. Scenarios flashed through my mind - We had just heard that a member of the only other party to repeat this route had broken his leg during a fall.

I kept climbing, yet there was still no trace of the next bolt and I was nearly out of rope..."

Ben and I were a perfect team, working together to crush a stunning route in a surreal landscape - seven hundred meters of rock stretching out below us, cactuses growing on the vertical wall all around and countless domes rising up far below. These were moments of true happiness.

On our second attempt at climbing this route in a single day push we made to the black low angle slab at the very top of the route, before getting lost in the dark. We were both extremely happy with our day, having climbed every pitch in the best style possible and did not want to ruin this or risk potential injury or death by trying to force our way to the anchor. Even though we had not clipped the chains, we felt content that we had climbed the route, finding flow and happiness in the process.

Here is a small glimpse into our journey:


Thanks to everyone who made this trip possible, especially my sponsors for their support, Frank, Hans and Franz (film crew) and Ben for being a amazing partner!

Times of Change by KEVIN JORGESON

The last two months have slipped past incredibly quickly… I have been enjoying having a house and the structure of a training program for a bit. It is amazingly nice to add a touch of routine to my otherwise transient and unpredictable life. Winter in the desert has been amazing this year, with beautiful sun-filled days and perfect temperatures for climbing in the sun. A nice change from hiding in the shade, as we climbers generally do to get good conditions for most of the year.

Training has been pretty exhausting, however, I have been climbing as much as possible. Mainly on the beautiful and abundant sandstone around here, trying to finally become comfortable on these splitter cracks…  I spent a fair bit of time out at Escalante, Indian Creek and even a weekend in Zion! Achieving a small degree of success - climbing has been going well, I am managing to on-sight some mid-twelves and even climbed a few of Rob’s harder trad routes. But I am still far from really feeling comfortable on this terrain.

After almost two years of completing a couple six to eight week cycles of training throughout the year, I am staring to feel my body morphing and becoming much stronger. My core no longer sags, shoulders feel strong and even my dynamic movement is much better! This time I feel ready for another stint on the road… Travel is an integral part of my lifestyle, and I love to see new places, meet new friends and climbing on a huge variety of rock! However, being on the road constantly quickly becomes tiring and I often find myself dreaming of a home, with a garden, maybe a dog and horse – a place which I never have to leave…

Ah Yeah! Those are dreams for later… Right now this is where I want to be, and I really do love my life! I feel extremely lucky to be supported by such amazing companies and have great friends all over the world.

Change promotes growth and is often very positive, however, it can also be very difficult. The last month has been one of these times for me – I was presented with an offer to join the Black Diamond team, and after much thought, I accepted. As a climber I am moving more in the traditional, big-wall direction, therefore I feel that Black Diamond is a better fit for me. BD aligns much better with my goals as a climber and I believe that I will be able to represent them more completely. This said, I am still very sorry to part ways with Petzl, I really appreciate everything they have done for me and am very thankful for their support over the time I have been with them. However, though sad to leave Petzl, I am very excited for this new opportunity and happy to be part of the Black Diamond team. Bring on the adventures!

Stories from Down Under by KEVIN JORGESON

All my faithful followers! Sorry about my long absence from my blog… This year has been off to a flying start, somehow it is already a week into February and I do not know where the time has gone… At this rate the year will be over before I know it!

The last week in the Grampians was a whirlwind, unsettled weather, far too many projects to finish and a photo-mog (Andrew Burr) to keep happy made for a hectic and ridiculously fun week! Because of the terrible weather, it came to the last few days in the Grampians and we still had not managed to make it out to the infamous Passport to Insanity, one of our main objectives. The weather did not improve and finally on our very last day we decided to hike out, despite not being able to even see the cliff because of low cloud. After a long wet hike through foggy rain, we arrived under the imposing Fortress – We could still barely see the roof through the clouds.

Andrew, Ben and I huddled, wearing every piece of clothing, vainly attempting to stay warm and hoping that the sun would burn through the clouds at some point. Finally, late in the afternoon the clouds began to disperse and I headed up the first pitch. Luck was with us, and as I climbed through the roof the setting sun popped out below the clouds – I beautiful finale to our time in the Grampians!

The next morning we were on a plane to Tasmania, to climb sea stacks! Our main objective was the Totem Pole, yet we also wanted to spend some time exploring other towers on the beautiful Tasmanian coast. Again, we were plagued  by consistently unsettled weather. It was cold, windy and not a single day passed without rain of some sort. However, we managed to make the most of it and climb nearly every day. The Tote did not disappoint! Fantastic climbing on a stunning feature in a wild and incredibly beautiful location, though only two pitches it feels very exposed!

Keep an eye out for the next Adidas Outdoor Magazine/Catalog for a more in depth account of Ben and I’s adventures!

For Ben and I the fun did not stop there though, after a week in Tasmania we headed to my NZ. Where I proceeded to give Ben a whirlwind tour of the best climbing areas my home land has to offer. We drove straight out to Castle Hill, where we were meet by a film crew from TVNZ and proceeded to get destroyed on the round featureless boulders for the next few days. The climbing here is weird and involves more pushing and footwork than pulling – Stay posted for the TVNZ morning feature!

After a few days, we somehow managed to fit my dear mother, Ben and I into my tiny 3 door Mazda and headed South – Darrans bound! On our way down we stopped in Wanaka, where I lived just after high school and learnt my first real lessons in climbing. In the last ten years, since I had lived there, a huge amount of new crags have been discovered and developed, so Ben and I spent a few days exploring these and waiting for a storm to pass through from the West.

A few days later, in the driving rain, we drove the long windy road further south, to the Darrans – My favorite place to climb in NZ. It is always exciting driving back into those wild remote mountains, stacked with huge imposing granite walls. This time we only had a couple days of once again unsettled weather, so we spent them sport climbing on the most classic lines!

The time passed very quickly and soon it was Christmas eve and I dropped Ben off at the airport to head home. After which I had another few weeks in NZ, enjoying some relaxed time with my family and old friends. Though it was difficult, I actually managed to survive an entire week without climbing at all. A well deserved and necessary break from climbing!

Now, I am finally back in Grand Junction, settling into the winter and the amazing brutality of another training cycle with Rob Pizem! Thanks Rob for helping me prepare for another year packed full of incredible adventures! And thanks once again to all my sponsors for helping me achieve my dreams and adventures!

Happy New Year from Down Under! by Mayan Smith-Gobat

Hope you all had a great Christmas and wish you all the best for 2014! Can believe another year has past already… Sorry I have kind of dropped off the radar for the last while… Internet access  and time to use it do seem to be super easy to come by down here!

Ben and I have spent the last 6 weeks in Australia, Tasmania and most recently a whirlwind tour of NZ. Before heading out of the USA, I spent a couple weeks in Colorado training and trying to get my body to remember how to hold onto small edges and pull again… This took a little while, after weeks of jamming my hands kind of forget how to hold downward pulling holds. My focus was on keeping on going for hours at a time, not doing hard individual movements. But our bodies are amazing, it always surprises me how little strength I actually loose and how quickly everything comes back!

However, two weeks sped by, and soon Ben and I found ourselves driving over Vail Pass in a heavy snow storm, with cars and trucks sliding all over the road – terrifying! But, we made it to Denver airport in time to catch our flight to LA… Then after a couple days, a sales meeting, some fun times with the US Adidas crew and an afternoon on Manhattan beach with my dear friend Ronny, we found ourselves back on a plane with a ridiculous amount of gear – Headed back down under…

Australia is a strange, flat land of Kangaroos, every possible poisonous creature and yet amidst the barren plains there is incredible climbing to be found. I had previously spent very little time in the Grampians, so Ben and I spent most of our time there… generally getting crushed on the spectacular, yet very unforgiving Taipan wall! It took a while to get used to the climbing down here – At best, the bolts are spaced, at worst ridiculously runout – It took some adjustment before being able to relax enough while a long way above a bolt to climb anywhere near our potential…

I focused on the classics of the wall – The Invisible Fist, Snake Flake and Serpentine, then moved onto the crazy cool weirdness of Tourniquet 30 (5.13c) – Powerful climbing on sideways slopers up the side of a huge runnel. My initial idea for coming down here was to attempt something harder on Taipan wall, however on arriving here I realized that I wanted to just climb and enjoy without constantly focusing on one goal… It has been a lot of fun, there is some amazing climbing down here!

After a couple weeks on Taipan wall, Ben and I decided it was time to go on an adventure… Our goal was to find HB’s epic roof route – Welcome to Barbados, 50 meters of near horizontal climbing through a cave, grade 29 and all on traditional protection! After an hour of bush-bashing through a crazy burnt out forest we arrived at the cave, and it really was everything people said… EPIC!!!

I was super intimidated – Heading up a hard trad route is nothing new for me, but heading up a horizontal roof with only pockets, where you never have any idea where the next piece might be, let alone where the actual route goes, was a whole new experience… I was terrified! The climbing was super committing, with big runout sections between most of the pieces of protection and no prior information about the route. However, I finally made it to the end and experienced an amazing sense of satisfaction and achievement when I struggled out through the hole at the end of the route!

I rested for a bit then desperately managed to fight my way through the entire cave – Sending it second attempt! The day was then topped off by Ben’s successful send – first go! Thanks Malcom for establishing an amazing visionary route… Keep cranking!

That’s enough for this year… Stay posted for more updates on our Australian adventures! Happy New year!

Moving on... by Mayan Smith-Gobat

I love having so many amazing opportunities in my life… But sometimes it can also be a little frustrating not having as flexible a schedule as I used to have! If anything it is just a good motivation to get better though…

As I mentioned previously, my trip to Yosemite Valley was rudely interrupted by the US government - What was meant to be five week trip turned into just over two weeks. My time in the Valley was super productive, but I had to leave and returned just as the Park was reopened to the public. Unfortunately, this did not leave me with enough time to achieve my goals and still be prepared and ready for my next trip… In a few days I head off to Australia! So, rather than try to fit everything in and not really have enough time for any of my goals, I chose to spend a couple days enjoying Yosemite in it’s quiet Fall beauty, then move on to preparing myself for the next challenge… Sport climbing in the Grampians!

On my way out of Yosemite I spent a day in Tuolumne Meadows, enjoying the silence and stunning beauty of this place. There was still banks of snow from a storm a few weeks ago, yet it was a beautiful sunny day. I hiked through the alpine meadows, played on boulders, ran up the smooth granite domes and even went for an icy dip in the crystal clear river. Sometimes I forget how nice it is to just relax and enjoy life without trying to achieve any particular goal or push my body to it’s limits…

Now I have had a couple weeks back in Colorado, training and trying to get fit for sport climbing again. I love all the different aspects of climbing, but it can be hard to switch back and forth in between sport and trad… For the first while my fingers simply hurt when I tried to hold small crimpers again and my body was shocked by having to actually pull hard moves again – In Yosemite most of what I did was long endurance climbing, where none of the moves were anywhere near my limit!

However, it all came back super quickly… It turns out that I have not lost any strength or power, just forgotten how to recruit it! So, now I am off to spend five weeks climbing in the Grampians and Tasmania – Two places I have been wanting to spend time at for a very long time!

I intend to return to Yosemite in May/June next year to attempt to complete my goals. Once again I would like to thank my sponsors, friends and Sport NZ for supporting me and helping me achieve my wildest dreams!

Government Shutdown?! by Mayan Smith-Gobat

“What the… ?!? The government can’t actually do that, can they…”

But it turns out they can… And they have!

The first I heard about the National Parks (including Yosemite) being shutdown was from some fellow climbers on the Nose, while Sean and I were simul-climbing past them… And this was just a  several second snippet of conversation – I just laughed and definitely did not believe would ever happen. However, we passed 11 other parties of climbers on the Nose that day – Way more that either of us had ever seen on one route ever before! Everyone had heard the rumor of Yosemite closing and scrambled to at least climb one last big wall before they had to leave…  And when we got back down to the Valley floor several hours later, the rumors were confirmed – The park was going to be closed due to a government shutdown!

I still laughed it off and did not believe it would actually happen, until 48 hours had passed… On the 3rd October suddenly there were rangers stationed at the entrance and exit points of the Yosemite stopping anyone who was not a resident or employee in Yosemite entering. By that evening the park was very quiet and empty… I managed to stay for a couple of extra days as I was visiting a friend who actually lived permanently  in the Park. So my birthday present this year was experiencing Yosemite Valley with no one else around. It was incredible to see the legendary Camp 4 deserted, all the facilities closed, parking lots empty, no cars on the road and most of all no constant sound of people…

However, this has also meant that my time in Yosemite has been cut short/or at least postponed, as recreating in the Park is currently not allowed. This is very disappointing and I am finding it difficult to know what to do, as no one knows when the park is likely to open again…

Yet, I am still very happy to have managed to have a couple of fantastic weeks of climbing on El Capitan – In the space of a week I climbed the Nose four times! Setting a new female record of 5.39 hours with Libby Sauter, and a male/female record of 3.30 hours with Sean Leary!

A spur of the moment decision on my part has landed me back in Colorado for a week or so, visiting friends, training with the crew here in Grand Junction, climbing and hoping that the government comes to an agreement soon! On a positive note – It is really nice to see my friends here, training a little, relax and rebuild my motivation again!