Jake and Evan are EVO members. Weekdays you’ll find Evan cross-training upstairs on the bike, peddling as she lifts free weights. Later, Jake joins her for laps on the lead wall. You won’t find them here on the weekends, though. Rain, snow, wind, frigid temps or blue skies, they’re out in the mountains attempting first ascents. We’ll let them tell you more about it:
Jake: This season has been about climbing in the most miserable spots — total type two fun. I get on CalTopo and Google Earth, and we look for big faces and climbs that may or may not go. It’s 50/50 [success-wise]. The past few trips we’ve set new routes in the Front Range, Tenmile Range and in the Collegiate Peaks. It’s pitons and knocking off rocks.
You’re putting in pitons?
J: Yeah, it’s true mixed climbing. For a lot of stuff there’s nothing on Mountain Project, which is nice. Some of it might be in the M5 range. The last line we climbed was at almost 12,000 feet. We skinned in for 5.5 miles, ditched the skis, started boot packing up this nice little spine to a wall and mixed climbed two pitches, hammered in some pitons, and rapped down.
How long have you each been climbing?
J: I’ve climbed off and on for almost my entire life.
Evan: I went to Moab, Utah, and did a guided climb by myself – Jake was in Colorado – and I was like oh, this is fun.
J: I told Evan, I don’t want to rock climb. And she asked, What about ice climbing? Then Valentine’s Day three years ago we went ice climbing in Clear Creek, and it was really fun.
E: Then it was an Alaskan ice climbing trip.
J: And then we went full bore. Within a year I climbed my first trad route, and then we did an 11-pitch 5.9 in Buena Vista.
E: That’s when I fell in love with that type of climbing.
J: We put up our first mixed route in October or November of last year.
How do you get psyched for mountain suffer-fests every weekend?
E: Mondays I’m looking forward to Friday. What I need to prepare myself mentally for is the weather. Jake does all the safety. He trains himself and trains me.
J: I like that stuff. I don’t think about being nervous. Are you going to be safe: yes or no? And if not, is it going to be life threatening? If it’s not life threatening, I can probably push through it. During the work week it’s so hard for me to wake up at 8:30 am, but on the weekends I’ll spring up at 3 am and be so ready to go.
E: Mentally it’s harder for me to come in the gym and lead something that’s out of my comfort zone than to go outside. I’m working on my fear of falling in here. I’m a runner; I think about banging my knee against the wall inside. Right now I’m working up to a 50-mile race on July 8th — the weekend after we get married.
Congratulations! How are you celebrating?
E: Everyone wants to climb, so we’re going to take them for a fun climb in Buena Vista, something right off the road.
J: Our honeymoon is an alpine climbing trip in Chamonix, France.
E: We got engaged in Patagonia, on a climb.
J: We topped out on a tower after two pitches of perfect lightning bolt cracks — it was a beautiful, bluebird day.
How has all of your “miserable” climbing together in the alpine strengthen your relationship versus strained it?
E: Now that we’ve been doing it for years, we know how to manage the arguments and disagreements, but at first it was like we weren’t going to be able to climb together.
J: We just argued our way up mountains.
E: But it’s made everything else easier. Normal arguments at home are nothing now compared to being in the mountains.
Do you find satisfaction in the adventure aspect of the entire alpine experience, or are you more satisfied when you top out a first ascent?
E: At first the goal was to get to the top and back down, but now I’m so much more appreciative of turning back halfway. When you’ve been outside for 8 hours, it’s hard to call that a failure.
J: It frustrates me a little bit, but I’m not going to put Evan or myself in danger for something that, at the end of the day, doesn’t really matter.
Have you ever been sport climbing outside?
J: We have, but we don’t single pitch sport climb outside.
E: We’ve never rock climbed in Boulder Canyon.
J: I love climbing routes when I have no idea how hard they’re going to be. It keeps things entertaining.
Do you ever put any of your routes on Mountain Project?
J: Nope. That’s a rule of mine. I would only tell people who I think could do it and that enjoy that sort of adventurous stuff. Some of those places people need to find.
E: That’s half the fun.
Many thanks to Jake and Evan for sitting down and talking about their rad alpine adventures. Visit Jacob Blick Photography for more photos of Jake and Evan in the mountains. We’re always psyched to hear about what our members are doing outside. Email Liz@EvoRock.com if you have a story you’d like to share with the EVO community or know of other members who do.
Featured image credit: Jacob Blick