Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Pika Art

Having ACL surgery this winter forced me to try new activities besides climbing and skiing.  This winter I took up painting after a 8 year hiatus.  I painted in water color, a medium I struggled with, but it has really been enjoyable and has honestly helped tremendously with being cooped up on the couch all winter.  Many paintings I did while sitting below the formations in cold winter as the water froze on the paper.  All paintings (so far) pertain to the greater Beartooth region.  

As a plus I have had many offers to sell prints and put the art on hats/shirts.  I am happy to make prints and select art has been printed on trucker hats so far.  These hats are sold by e-mailing me directly ( or by visiting Beartooth Mountain Guides store front shop in Red lodge, Montana (look for the climbing wall out front).

To see prints visit Pika Art, the simple website I created to show case the goods.

Thanks and Cheers, 


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

From the East to the West - Cannon cliff and the City of Rocks

Wicked Splittah! Bridget leading Reppy's Crack - Cannon Cliff

The past month has been a whirl wind of teaching, traveling, and trying to balance all things life.  Bridget and I have had the chance to climb in Idaho and New Hampshire in a one moth period.   

The stunning Cannon Cliff

Bridget leading on the perfect splitter of Reppys crack while dodging falling ice from the cliff above

Bridget topping out Reppy's crack

Bridget on the second pitch of the Whitney - Gilman ridge on Cannon Cliff

Bridget on p3 of the Whitney -Gilman

Bridget topping out the Whitney- Gilman

leaf peeping

The city of rocks with Bridget and Leslie climbing on the anteater spire (right one)

Leslie climbing deep in the city

Leslie and Bridget navigating

The city

Cheers, Loren

Monday, August 24, 2015

From Washington pass to the Black hills

Austin Hart on a limestone palisade near Red Lodge 

Despite the ACL deficiency in my left knee I had a very enjoyable summer (stupidity is bliss?) climbing rocks, peaks, and boulders from Washington to South Dakota.  Here is a summer spent climbing with an injury.

Liberty Bell group from Washington pass.  Bridget and I climbed the right most tower (the liberty bell) via the NW face (right arete).

Bridget climbing on Liberty Bell

Liberty bell

Bridget on the summit of Liberty Bell

Chris Ebeling and I climbed 3 of the Tatoosh peaks in Rainier National park (Plummer, Pinnacle, and The Castle) - very fun scrambling on loose 4th class

Chris on the Pinnacle

Chris on the Castle

Rainier from the Tatoosh Range

Bridget and I also discovered surfing 

Bridget being a dirt bag

Austin Hart leading on C point - Beartooths

C point - no summit but we climbed the small pinnacle to the left - and found old webbing on top!

Austin Hart leading on the Tower of Innocence

Tower of Innocence

Tower of Innocence

Austin on the summit of the Tower of Innocence

And finally wrapping the summer up with a trip to the Black Hills.  I visited with my Mom and ran into some older (and awesome) local climbers who let me lead the classic Tricouni nail spire - the classic simul-rappel off the summit was worth it alone!

Cheers, Loren

Sunday, August 16, 2015

A Climber-Centric View of ACL Surgery (and other first world problems) Part 1

Skiing the Japanese Couloir on Mount Barrill in a storm, Ruth Gorge, AK

Well it finally happened.  I have been skiing since I was two years old- in high school I could ski better than I could walk.  I have skied serious lines in the mountains of Montana, Wyoming,  and the Ruth Gorge/Kahiltna Glacier in Alaska.  I finally hurt myself after a 30 year run of no ski injuries and I did it on the school ski trip, in the terrain park, while wearing a one piece Carhart suit.  Stay gaper my friends.

I blew my ACL out (completely) in my left knee.  The past 10 years I have been more of a climber than a skier, I ski for fun, I climb to sustain my sanity in a strange world- so I view this injury as a hindrance to climbing, not skiing (I could never ski again and be fine with it as long as I could climb).  While searching the great cyber world for information pertaining to climbing and ACL replacement I had to wade through a lot of junk indicative of the internet tubes.  The best resource I found was Steph Davis's blog about her ACRr.

Not every climber is the same caliber as Steph so I will relay my injury as yet another anecdotal story that may help others get information, comfort, or psych about this injury.

Here is my story:

March 31, 2015.  Last run of the day I decide to go through the terrain park in my onesie Carhart suit. As a high school kid I was a park rat and I still know my way around the park.  This time was different though.  I went off a small kicker, nothing cool - straight air - and landed hard in super slushy snow.  My left ski must have stuck in the heavy snow for a second longer and I felt a grinding in my left knee as it hyper-extended.  No popping sound, no ejection from the ski, no wreck, nothing special really.  Right away I knew I was hurt though.  I stood up and my knee hurt in a way it has never hurt before.  I leaned on my poles for a minute then skied down.  My knee buckled 2 or 3 times on the way down and that hurt really bad.  I went into the patrol shack at the base area and Anne looked at my knee then sent me to the E.R.  The doctor there pulled on my knee and twisted it feeling for instability or looseness.  He found nothing and sent me home with a brace and crutches, it swelled up a day later.  I was on crutches for 2 weeks and started trail running and top rope climbing as soon as I could. I took it really easy though.  

My knee the day after the injury

I knew something was up with my knee after a month of it still not quite being normal (hard to explain the feeling - cramping of small muscles deep in your knee you never knew you had, afraid to walk hard on it on uneven terrain due to fear of hyper-extension).  It also hurt between the tibial plateau and femur when I bent down, so I couldn't (and still can't) crouch down all the way or sit cross legged. The next doctor I went to pulled on my knee once and chuckled then stated "Your ACL is out".  I got an MRI and the results showed a complete tear and a medial meniscus tear.  sweet.  The meniscus tear is what hurts when I try and bend my knee to sharply.  The ACL doesn't hurt at all, just feels different, it is very stable (I could go skiing on it no problem), yet not 100% and I have been coping.  

MRI of my knee.  The ACL should be dark black (like the PCL near the back of my tibia).  This picture shows a grey, stringy thing between my tibia and femur - that is the remains of my ACL.

Okay, what now?  

The first question I had was "Is surgery necessary for me?"  I have no instability, I can still lead 5.12 trad, I feel totally comfortable on boulder fields, I have surfed, I trail run, I boulder and fall on my knee all the time.  For some people they can't put any weight on their knee following an ACL tear, I don't fall into this category thus this question is harder for me to answer.


I have turned down trips to the Wind River Mountains, The Enchantments, and other amazing places this summer because I can't carry heavy loads on uneven terrain.  This combo makes my knee feel like it could hyper-extend suddenly and then I would really be screwed, especially if I were back in the mountains.  With out fixing my knee I can live a pretty good life (as I have these past 5 months) and I basically do what I always did before the accident, the only exception is I have to never go in the mountains for the rest of my life.  No more trips to Alaska, Nepal, South America, or even the mountains in Montana.  That is the single most important deciding factor for me to get my knee fixed.  If you are questioning if you should get surgery sincerely ask yourself if you are ready to give up whatever you have to give up, there are limitations - address them logically.

The doctor stated that the risk of osteoarthritis increases without getting surgery as there is low level instability that over the years will reduce your meniscus to nothing.  I don't know if I buy this yet as other studies contradict this statement and the cohort sizes are seriously (alarmingly) small for any ACLr studies I have read - I almost trust anecdotal evidence more at the moment (remember I teach science).  Regardless, listen to your body and be honest in the quality of life you will have if you get surgery vs. no surgery.

The second question I had was what type of graft to get.  There are 3 main types, cadaver, hamstring, and patellar grafts.  


I don't know yet.  I am getting surgery this December so I have some time to think about it.  I do know that I don't want a patellar graft.  I have talked to to many people I admire who now have extreme tendinitis from their ACL repaired with their patellar ligaments, they can't ride bikes, jog, etc..  Basically their quality of life is diminished from that graft.  My doctor agrees.  So it's cadaver (which has a higher % of failure, tissue rejection, and is creepy, but heals faster, and doesn't compromise other parts of your body) or hamstring (where they steal part of your hamstring to replace your ACL, longer recovery, reduced strength in leg for life, constant cramping, stronger graft).  Both have limitations but I must choose one.  Keep you posted on which one I choose and why**.

**The next part of this story may be a year from now.  This isn't twitter, I'm not going to have a minute-to-minute play of how everything feels.  I am going to try and provide good, reflective, and sound advise on how my experience with ACLr went via the methods I choose with a climber-centric mindset.

Cheers, Loren

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Chugwater spires

Rick on "Little Fin".  "Middle fin" is the big one to the right.

Found some excellent choss spires.  I recruited the corn fed dark horse, Rick Dvorak, to climb a few of them with me.  A taste of Utah right here in the WyMont. The nice part about these towers is that they went free, although loose and scary.  Classic tower experiences. We put anchors on the top to belay from but be ready to tandem rappel.

Myself hiking into the spires (I guess I haven't had an ACL in my left knee for 2 months now - doesn't seem to affect me...?)

Myself heading up "Middle fin" on the F.A.

Myself on the 5.8+ hand crack of "Middle fin"

Rick on top of "Middle Fin" - these things are skinny!

Rick on the sporty F.A. lead of "little fin" 5.8+?

Rick on the top of 'Little Fin"

Wilson dog

Cheers, Loren

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A few "new" ice/ mixed lines

Austin Hart in go mode - priming the tucker cat

This winter was pretty bleak in terms of Beartooth ice climbing - the warm Chinook winds blew constantly this winter and we spent more days carrying our ice packs around than climbing.  With that said we did nab a few "new" climbs.  

Austin scoped this beautiful line and nabbed the probably first ascent on this ephemeral pillar- thus "Foxy Lady" was born.  I feel luck to have held the rope for Austin on this one.

Austin getting in deep with "Foxy Lady"

Rock creek falls was pretty anemic this winter and the left set of rappel anchors were off to the side far from the ice.  I decided to mix climb to them.  Go half way up the ice the venture out left on the white rock vein to the anchors - M3 - bring small gear and pins.

I retro bolted (with permission) a line just to the left of Hellroaring falls.  "1/4 mile Lyle" M5/6        10 clips on pumpy and techy rock.

Cheers, Loren

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Pryor Climbing Club Story

We had a story written up about the climbing club in Pryor I helped start; click the link to read

Cheers, Loren

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Rock Creek Falls Ski

rock creek falls

On the first day of 2015 I decided to try a backyard multi-sport day.  I have always wanted to check out the gully above rock creek falls in Red Lodge.  This historic ice climb is a classic of the area and is arguably the first ice climb in the U.S.A. that was climbed using the modern front pointing technique.

I skinned up the approach on skis, alone, in an extremely quiet forest covered in bobcat tracks.  When I got to the ice, put the crampons on, and soloed up the falls in ski boots.  I rigged an anchor on top and hauled the skis up on a munter hitch.  It worked great.

Once on top I stashed the climbing gear and clicked back into my skis.  The gully above was a consistent 25-30 degree slope to the plateau 1,000 feet above.  I was not expecting such a mellow (and fun) descent, the skiing was blue square terrain all the way back to the ice climb with 2 inches of fresh snow on a crust I was staying on top of.  

When I reached the ice I rappelled it, clicked back into my skis and skied the entire approach back to the car.  I was back home 4 hours after leaving it that morning.  I am excited about this ice/ski and will do it again this year; I highly recommend it.

looking down the ice

Hauling the skis

the gully above the ice

my tracks heading down the mid section of the couloir

The skiing below the falls was a wee-bit bony

Cheers, Loren