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Bouldering in the San Gabriel Mountains

Posted by casey weaver on
Bouldering in the San Gabriel Mountains

Never underestimate the power of a quick trip into nature with a few friends.  A few weeks ago Adam Masters, Mike Dorman and I drove up into the hills above Los Angeles to escape the madness that is a Friday afternoon on the freeways in the LA basin...nature did not disappoint.  Read below to learn about the trip and appreciate the beautiful photos shot by Mike.


Recently we drove up and out of LA and into the San Gabriel Mountains for a quick getaway on a Friday afternoon. The deterrence of traffic in the LA basin on a Friday is a heavy obstacle to cast off, but once the decision is made to go and a sliver of a window of time is identified within the typical traffic flow, all that’s left to do is load up the car with the necessary gear of the day and go.

 Adam, Mike and I had been circulating a group text for about 2 weeks trying to get a local climbing day on the books, and after some hemming and hawing on this particular Friday morning, we finally were able to pull the trigger and make it happen. All three of us have schedules extremely susceptible to change, which also affords us the ability to piss off on a Friday afternoon for a quick recharge in the hills that surround us. On this particular Friday, it was not only traffic and schedules that were making it hard to motivate, on top of that was the fact that I had pretty severely pulled my hamstring a day or two before, making my already questionable bouldering skills that much more tenuous. But with the opportunity to connect with Adam, someone I had not spent time with at all in the few previous years, we collectively decided to make it happen.

Adam is an ex-bike racing buddy. To hear him tell the story, I was actually his initial point of contact on the U-23 team we all raced on however many odd years ago. Honestly, I don’t remember – not due to its lack of significance, just that I have a bad memory for things like that. I remember a lot of races, a lot of crashes, and a lot of good times with a rad group of guys and gals in that time period, but apparently many of the details elude me at this point. I think the coolest thing about that period is to see where a bunch of elite bike racers have ended up, and the hobbies and skills they have picked up since those days. Most find themselves in the outdoors often, most still ride some sort of bike (albeit a lot less fast), and all seem to be just as passionate and just as skilled as they were at bike racing at whatever new activities they have taken up. Adam has since become a hell of a rock climber (this is not to be understated – he’s damn good) – hence my desire to get out there with him and learn some routes and skills first hand. And that we did.

Also joining us on the trip was good buddy and photographer Mike Dorman. Mike is responsible for many of the photographs that have helped bring Field Work to life over the past year and one of my first points of contact when I am planning anything in the outdoors – whether riding, camping, climbing, fishing, hunting, or just pondering life.

And so we went. Within about an hour we were a long way away from the choked out freeways around LA, musing with wonder about how easy it actually is to escape the urban madness IF you are willing to put in even the smallest amount of effort and break out of the typical routine….something we all need help with from time to time.

The outing was a success, even if short lived. Although once up there we had wished we brought our mountain bikes for a quick loop, we made the most out of a handful of boulder piles, Adam showing us routes and pointing out rocks he’d come and spend a solidary night on under the stars at trying times in his life. He humbled us both with his soft spoken ability to scale granite walls, and pointed out hand and foot holds for us to get off the ground.

Before long, the sun was setting, the temperature was dropping, and that distinctive sound of dry mountain wind rushing between swaying pines and over exposed chaparral began to pick up. The climbing transitioned into lounging, drinking a few beers, and an overall appreciation for the fact that we were sitting in the mountains within a hour’s drive of one of the most bustling metropolises in the world, without another person in sight. The fact that we had the fortune to do this was not lost on us and we enjoyed it while we could before having to descend back down the highway into the yellow glow of the city lights.

Mission accomplished. We motivated, evacuated, reconnected and enjoyed just enough time outside to take on the drive home in the waning remnants of a Friday evening rush hour. Though the now freed-up freeways felt that much more tolerable knowing where we had just been and assuming where they other drivers had just been – we had won Friday. Plans are already in the works for a redux…this time with bikes.

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