Photo Essay: Climbing in Kalymnos Greece

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We stepped off the ferry and into a car. Our driver Poppy drove us through the town of Pothia and across the island to our home for almost two weeks—Vasilis Studios. Along the way we dodged scooters and other cars on the narrow winding road. I wasn’t thrilled about renting scooters in the first place, but now the idea of driving scooters around Kalymnos really had me nervous.

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But, the scooters happened.

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 After a few days of squealing and begging Andrew to slow down, I decided they weren’t so bad. We took them all over the island—dodging more goats than cars.

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Another thing I didn’t expect to like was the slab climbing, but by the end of our trip in Kalymnos I actually enjoyed it. The slab was sharp, sticky, and just when you need another hold, a giant pocket would appear.

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When climbing gets vertical and you can’t find your next hold, it’s probably dangling above you in the form of a stalactite–part of it dripping with water, the other part feels like the ridiculous climbing holds you’ve only ever touched at the climbing gym.

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Tufas drip down the wall and make climbing holds vertical. Pinchers, laybacks, stemming, and knee drops—climbing feels more like a dance.

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The best part about the climbing was not just the rock features… DSC_1630

It was the views from the rock…

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the goats and their bells…

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…and the scooter rides.DSC_1669

Photos by Andrew Bradberry

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Photo Essay: Visiting Turkey

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Turkish Airlines for the Win

Three extra days of travel back to the U.S. was worth it, because it meant we got to spend time in Turkey—first stop, Bodrum— second stop,Istanbul.

Going through Turkey also meant we got to fly Turkish Airlines, which must be one of the best airlines to still exist. Remember when flights didn’t charge you for everything? Well, it’s even better than that. Not only are some flight attendants dressed as chefs, and they serve pretty decent airline food, but they also give you: slippers, a pillow, a blanket, socks, ear plugs, toothbrush/paste, and an eye mask. I’m probably forgetting something.

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Bodrum is Beautiful

We spent two nights in Bodrum, Turkey, but only one day seeing the sights. Off-season proved an awesome choice to visit, as the night club scene was nonexistent and the tourists were sparse. Both hotels we stayed in were welcoming and generous. El Vino hotel far exceeded our expectations. They put us in their suite rooms and prepared a special Turkish Breakfast for us in the morning. Having spent almost two weeks being dirty climber kids this kind of treatment was almost overwhelming.

We spent our one day in Bodrum exploring the city—gawking over the giant sailboats, drinking turkish coffee and tea next to the Bodrum castle, and visiting the ruins of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World). The day ended with an hour flight to Istanbul.

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 Pink Hotel Rooms in Istanbul

It wouldn’t be a trip to another country without a few terrifying cab rides. Our van ride from the airport to our strange little hotel was one of those rides. We arrived late to our hotel and spent a short amount of time taking in the strange pink decor in our room, and starring at the Blue Mosque outside our window.

We didn’t mind that the call to prayer, blasting from the speakers of the Mosque, woke us before sunrise. It’s not often that you have that experience. Our day started with a buffet style breakfast with views of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. The first place we went was the Blue Mosque—it’s huge! I’m not sure the word beautiful does the Mosque justice.

Just like most tourist destinations, what you see in photos and the actual experience is quite different. It’s hard not to get caught up watching the strange things folks with cameras will do for a good (sometimes bad) photo, but we all did our best to stop and take in the views of the Mosque.

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 Istanbul is Colorful

I wish I had a week to explore Istanbul. The Arasta Bazaar gave us a glimpse into what the Grand Bazaar most likely looked like. The brightly colored plates, rugs, scarfs, towels, spices, and shoes were hard to resist, but the price tags made it easy.

The city is easy to navigate and the train from the airport will take you straight to the center of it all. Standing in the middle of the courtyard with the Blue Mosque on one side and the Hagia Sophia on the other is breathtaking. The city feels old with a modern twist—16 hours in Istanbul is not enough.

Photos: Andrew Bradberry

Outdoor Research AirBrake Gloves Review

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Confession: Outdoor Research sent me the AirBrake gloves in early summer and I’m just now posting a review—eep! I’ll be honest, I just didn’t wear them enough this summer to really get a great feel for them. I’m not used to wearing gloves on both of my hands while I belay. And, most of the time I found myself just wearing one glove on my break hand. However, now that temperatures are cooling down here in Colorado, I’m getting a lot more use out of them.

When lowering someone heavier than me I really appreciate gloves, but it’s never felt necessary. Now that it’s a little cold, I never go climbing without belay gloves. My hands are the first thing to get numb and there’s nothing worse than a long belay with numb hands.

This is my second pair of belay gloves I’ve owned, and compared to my BD Stone gloves, they are a lot more grippy and offer better dexterity. The gel padding on the palm is said to “absorb and dissipate heat caused by the friction…” I hadn’t realized that was the reason behind the gel padding, but it makes sense and certainly helps. I really appreciate the gel padding, and I think it sets the AirBrake gloves apart from other belay gloves. I really found the gel padding handy during tyrolean traverses—especially when crossing a steel cable.

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The AirBrake is easy to slip on and off and felt true to size, if anything they fit a little tight. I appreciate a tight-fitting glove when rappelling and belaying so I didn’t mind. And, although it was a very simple feature, I appreciated the carabiner cut-out for clipping them to my harness during multi-pitch climbs.

Even in the summer, on really warms days, they were breathable. Thanks to a poly-spandex material on the top of the glove and little ventilation holes on the fingertips, my hands never got too sweaty.

I’ve heard plenty of folks recommend going to your local hardware store and picking up a pair of cheap work gloves. I pretty sure those people have never worn the AirBrake glove. Breathable, comfortable, durable, and with climbers in mind, I really appreciated the attention to detail that Outdoor Research put into making these.

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Mini Adventures in Leadville, Colorado

Every time I head to the mountains I find a new adventure. I’ve been to Leadville, Colorado plenty of times, yet it never gets old. This time my friends Jason, Heather, and I left late Friday night and drove to Twin Lakes. The goal—sunrise stand up paddleboarding and pretty views of fall foliage—we found both.

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Early light on Twin Lakes. Photo: Jason Gebauer Photography

There are two things that will get me up before sunrise: alpenglow and a powder day. Maybe, I should now add paddleboarding. Despite the chilly fall temperatures waking up early was well worth it. Quietly paddling across the clear lake with the sunrise in the east and alpenglow and fall colors in the west was stunning. I felt glad that I could catch one last Alpine Sup adventure, with Heather, before it gets too cold.

First light on Twin Lakes. Photo: Jason Gebauer Photography

First light on Twin Lakes. Photo: Jason Gebauer Photography

After a yummy breakfast (thanks Jason) we set our sights on Independence Pass for a little climbing. The temperatures were warm, almost hot, and the fall colors were perfect. We choose an easy multi-pitch climb up Monitor Rock. Some of the climbing was so easy that we didn’t need to rope-up. Even though it was easy and barely 5th class, the exposure made me nervous. The art of staying calm and breathing when things get a bit scary can always be carried over to situations outside of climbing. So, in a way, it felt good to get a little scared.

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Heather and I making our way up Monitor Rock. Photo: Jason Gebauer Photography

We made our way back to the car midday, and rather than turning around we decided on the scenic route, west. Driving a winding mountain road, with yellow aspens on both sides of the road, we headed towards Aspen.

We got home late Saturday night and still had an entire day to spare before heading back to work—Colorado adventures really are the best!

Photos by Jason Gebauer Photography

Outdoor Research Andromeda Capri Review

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The Andromeda Capri from Outdoor Research won me over, but not for the reasons I expected.

The Andromeda is a mix of cotton and spandex which means they’re really comfortable and stretchy. Outdoor Research recommends them for climbing, however I wasn’t totally convinced. After a few outdoor outings, I decided the Andromeda wouldn’t be my climbing capri for my outdoor adventures. Here’s why:

1) I have a booty. Tight spandex + climbing harness + booty = is just not for me. Tights might be in right now, but this girl won’t be jumping on the bandwagon anytime soon.

2) The material. Yes, they’re really comfortable! But, cotton is not a preferred material for outdoor adventures. It doesn’t dry as fast as other materials and it’s just not quite as breathable or light as I prefer on warm summer days. The material is also not as resistant to tears, water, and dirt as I’d prefer.

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So the Andromeda isn’t my go-to capri for climbing outside. I’ll stick to my Outdoor Research Clearview pants for outdoor adventures. That doesn’t mean this capri wasn’t awesome. Here’s what I loved about the Andromeda:

1) The fit.

I’m guilty of spending too much money on a flattering pair of stretchy yoga-like pants and capris. The Andromeda capri material is thicker than some yoga capris I’ve owned and it’s flattering. I’m not exactly sure why, but I also feel like they have a slimming effect. I really love how they fit me! The Andromeda sits a little higher than some of my other capris and that helps them stay in place. They never dipped too low when I was moving or stretching in them.

2) They dry faster than I expected.

Yes, the thicker material got a little warm during outdoor activities and I was constantly worried that I was going to have a sweaty booty. But, it never happened.

3) The zippered pocket.

This is the first pair of capris that I’ve owned with a zippered pocket. Not only do I love a pocket, but I really love a pocket that holds my cell phone.

4) They’re really dang comfortable.

This capri is excellent for travel, yoga, bouldering, running errands, and just lounging. Yes, that list included bouldering. They didn’t make the cut for my outdoor sport climbing adventures, but I wear them just about every time I head to the gym for bouldering.

So, will I take them outside climbing? Probably not. But, I’m certainly finding them useful. The Andromeda capri is surprisingly flattering, the fit is awesome, and best of all they’re affordable. I would definitely recommend them.

 

 

 

SUP Adventures in the Alpine

Heather on Emerald Lake. Photo: Jason Gebauer

Heather on Emerald Lake. Photo: Jason Gebauer (http://www.jasongebauerphotography.com)

As if I needed just one more reason to play in the mountains, I’ve found it.

When Heather from Alpine SUP invited me along to Rocky Mountain National Park to paddle some of the popular lakes in that area, I was beyond excited! I spent a lot of time on the water as a kiddo. I’d take my grandpa’s windsurfing boards out, without the sail, and paddle around on the bay. I figured it would feel similar to do that just add 9,000′ in elevation, a slight change of scenery, and much colder water.

I was hoping that the first time I tried SUP it would be on a pretty mountain lake. This would surpass my expectations. I’m pretty sure Heather has taken the “pretty mountain lake” concept to the next level. She’s hiking close to 50 pounds of SUP gear and hiking/camping gear to high alpine lakes around Colorado.

Heather’s paddle board bag isn’t your typical hiking backpack either. SUPing alpine lakes hasn’t quite taken off, yet. The packs are made to get you from car to the nearest shoreline or lake, not for hiking long distance, especially uphill. Even with the handmade hip belt that Heather sewed on, the pack is still heavy and awkward.

Quick paddle before the storm blows in. Photo: Jason Gebauer (www.jasongebauerphotography.com)

Quick paddle before the storm blows in. Photo: Jason Gebauer (www.jasongebauerphotography.com)

We arrived late afternoon in Rocky Mountain National Park. The park rangers seemed okay with it, but asked us not to go in Bear Lake. We hiked up to the furthest lake first, Emerald Lake. I’ve never seen an alpine lake that wasn’t stunning, and Emerald’s views didn’t disappoint. Pretty quickly we could tell a storm was blowing in. Heather, myself, and their friend Adam took a quick paddle before we heard the first boom of thunder. After quickly deflating the board we hid under an overhanging boulder to wait out the storm.

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Paddling on Nymph Lake. Photo: Jason Gebauer (www.jasongebauerphotography.com)

We passed up Dream Lake (which would be an excellent SUP option) and headed for Nymph Lake. Heather offered the first paddle to me. Without impending storm clouds I got to experience just how relaxing paddle boarding could be. If it weren’t for cost, I’d have bought one the next day!

Alpine SUP appeals to me for the same reason climbing does these days. I want to be in the mountains, I want to see new and beautiful places, and I like the little extra challenge of getting there.

Go follow Heather’s adventures! Alpine SUP is on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.