Cheers to more Adventure

Welcome 2015! I gladly greet you and your possibilities. You are welcome to create, inspire, lead, challenge, push, motivate and even disappoint at times. I promise to greet your whims with joy, and accept any failures with gratitude for the experience. Thank you for coming, now bring it! 

This past November I had the chance to visit a stunning crag in the Santa Monica Mountains. Rich with beauty and a natural fresh sea charm, this range is well known for the hiking. Rolling steeps hills with views a plenty leave you breathless from the grade and the sights. I was prepared well for the hike. My husband and partner in grime, Louie, packed in most of our gear, gave me plenty of water, and told me to expect a long haul. About a half hour in I began to lag behind the crew, wondering if it is indeed true that all things that go up must come down.  

Winding roads and spectacular sights.

Towards the beginning of the hike, full of psych!

The hiking does get better, a solid half way into the expedition. The trail begins by spiraling around a few large formations, with switch backs and a few long vegetation tunnels. Any moderate discomfort is quietly dismissed once you reach your first of many plateaus. Before you lies a bed of mounds, plunging and peaking until falling into the sea. Trails flirt here and there, beginning with an inviting tease and then ending with obscurity behind another formation. All around you the sun shines in spots, peaking between the clouds to illuminate the countryside and million dollar homes. I enjoyed the uplifting heights. They refreshed me before I plummeted back down into a short valley and onward to my destination, Boney Bluff. 
More hiking ahead, but a fantastic place to stop and rest where many trails merge.

I think my reward outweighs the work of the hike!

Louie and I came for the climbing. As one of the earlier founders he was asked to write an article for the magazine California Climber. Our friend Anthony Lapomardo shot the photos for the piece, and I waited impatiently until mid December when the paper edition finally arrived from print. That day we climbed was absolutely perfect. The clouds and sun competed for power. The weather threatened us all day, but we gladly accepted the challenge to race the rain. Gorgeously enough, you can’t have rain with out rainbows. 

Kicking back, enjoying the view and my Merrell hikers.

Once we had finally reached the crag the long hike behind me fell away to the awe of the views. It’s hard to complain about being wedge between an ocean and a vastly spread mountain range. The cliff strutted up above the other formations and was surprisingly steep. So many options lined up before me. Sections of the wall are riddled with hand and foot holds. The true sport is finding the most efficient path through the field of options. A variety of sequences makes this wall fun for all types of climbers. We dropped our gear and Anthony began warming up his camera. 


I played on a 5.11b, Joyride. The beginning nearly ruined my endurance for the end, where the rock relented and turned a welcoming vertical. Large pockets charmed me into touching them, but I soon found the smaller crisp ones easier to to manage and use, often being deeper and having more friction. Louie dabbled on a 12 that looked much too hard for my gripped self. I decided today would be about having fun and not psyching myself out. 

Kicking it in my Mad Rock Lyra shoesies!
Hanging because it’s hard and humbling.

Tucked underneath the roomy shelf we stood on, below the main wall, is a swiftly cut in cave. To get the shot of Riptide 5.12c that Anthony desired I belayed Louie from the far corner of the cave, with an anchor pulling me from behind. The near horizontal nature of the cave made belaying my husband, a good 65 pounds heavier, a little challenging. But it’s all for the art. A low traverse, a favorite kind of bouldering for this little chicken, stretched out behind me. After Louie was done I had an opportunity to play on this particular V7, named Cave Dweller. So many options and opportunities for some of my favorite types of moves: drop knees, flags, toe and heel hooks. This problem was too hard for me, that day anyway. 

Louie pulling from the front, my anchor pulling from the back. A Valarie sandwich.

Checking the grip on this steep cave climb.

We climbed a few more routes for a few more priceless shots, then we packed up as the drips started falling. It was a brief sprinkle, barely worth mentioning, except that I love to be out in the rain. We scampered back down the trail, and I wondered again where all the down was for all that up we had walked earlier. Rolling hills are beautiful, but can be exhausting to hike. Beat, muddy, and accomplished we left the crag and the mountains behind as we wiggled our way through the switch backs driving slow to make the view last. 

Traditional selfie.

Below is a view of the magazine spread. All photos above are mine, and this amazing shot along with the others in the article belong to Anthony Lapomardo. Visit the website via the link for previous issues and additional photos. Sorry the winter 2014 issue is not posted to the sight yet. Stay tuned and ‘like’ California Climber on Facebook for updates. 


Yesterday Louie and I spent the day mapping out our 2015 adventures on the calendar. I look forward to another year enjoying the outdoors and sharing with those following me. Expect Utah, more California, and Europe! 

Stay Adventurous,
Valarie Tes 

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