Sunday, August 29, 2010


Keketuohai is a geologic park in northern China on the border of Mongolia. Climbers have been trying to go here for years. But due to park regulations, no one has officially climbed here. There are allegedly 111 granite domes and the climate looks to be high desert. Since no one has climber here, we really don’t know exactly what we will find. But the pictures look cool, so we are going for it. Bring it on! Can’t wait to see this place!

Sharing the adventures

“I’m not scared, this is totally safe” Fynn whispers to himself over and over, We are nine hundred feet up the dark imposing face. Or at least it must look that way to my partner for today, Fynn Sagar…… who is nine years old. His dad Nick and I had concocted this plan the day before while climbing a three pitch 5.7 called White Whale. It was Fynns first multupitch climb and he wind sprinted up the pitches while my arms filled with lactic acid trying to whip rope through the belay. “We’ve got to get this kid on something bigger.” I said. Nick smiled, we looked across the Estes valley to Hallet Peak and the plan was set. I don’t remember if we even gave Fynn a say in the whole thing.

I love to share the adventure and experience in the mountains with my peers. I see there eyes brighten as they tell the stories of long days, thunderstorms and how the persevered and got to the top. It’s what I know, and maybe also my way of sharing this incredible life. Last week was a great reminder of all those thing.

Between these climbs I made trips up to Cayoss Canyon for bouldering. I bit of trail running with my lovely wife, and the occasional cross fit workout. All that mixed in with the frantic packing and preparing for our trip to china.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


As some of you might know, Tommy and I are heading with a crew to China for a climbing trip. The crew consists of Tommy, Hayden Kennedy, Corey Rich, Marina Rich, Jeremy Collins, Mark Jenkins and myself.  We are SO excited to get our passports stamped and venture into Asia.  We are traveling to Keketuohai Geological National Park, which has an abundance of granite domes that climbers have not had the opportunity to spend much time exploring as far as we know.  We are excited to see what we will find!

The whole team is spread out (Tommy is in Truckee at the Craggin' Classic to do some climbing and give a slideshow), and so some of us will rendezvous in San Francisco and head over the Pacific from there, and I'm actually not sure where we are meeting the rest.  Regardless, we have a great group of friends and I'm looking forward to it!

I've been fortunate enough to fall into the position of assistant photographer to Corey Rich, which I'm so looking forward to observe and learn from one of the masters in adventure photography.  Seeing how Corey prepares for trips and is so organized is inspiring.  He is so on the ball.  Things here at the Caldwell household always manage to work out, but not usually with as much grace and fluidity as I've observed from the Brock and Rich household.  As I've mentioned before, we are learning and working towards these lofty goals!  Another of my roles for the trip is belay slave.  I love the opportunity of being able to be a part of the action, doing rope work and best of all....jugging!!!  :)  Some think I'm crazy, but I love being able to get up walls and into these places I can't necessarily climb, spend time with Tommy in his element, and just racing up the ropes!

In my glory jugging on El Cap in Yosemite National Park this past spring!

I'm not sure what the internet connection situation is going to be while in China.  There is some question as to what the Chinese military is going to let us do in regards to accommodations.  We would prefer to camp or stay in a yurt, but there's a chance we will stay in a hotel outside of the park, which in that case, there may be blog updates.  Otherwise, we will be back September 10th!

Here's a peach marg recipe from the Pioneer Woman that Susan and Patrick and I made up today (Disclaimer:  I am by no means trying to compete with Kelly Cordes and his delicious margs).  Enjoy the rest of the summer!  We are excited to come back to one of our favorite times of the year in Estes!!

Peach Margarita from Pioneer Woman's Blog.


After getting back from Nashville we were looking forward to being home, and we were both lucky to have our great friends come to visit!  Nick and Fynn made the trek from Vail for the weekend and got out on the rock with Tommy.  This was my first time meeting Fynn, and it was great getting to know him.  It was also great to spend some more time with Nick in between his travels and busy schedule!  Nick also brought us fresh eggs from the chicken house at their place in Vail annnnnnd....the best part....HOME BREWED BEER.  Honestly, I think this is maybe some of the best beer I have had.  I am no connoisseur, but Nick knows what he is doing.  

Tommy started to write about their adventures while here and has been so slammed with work and traveling that hopefully soon he will get the chance to update the blog!  (It will be great when he writes though...he is such a talented writer...he puts me to shame.  When he starts writing I'm going to have some work to do to keep people amused.)

Nick's Brew!

While Nick and Fynn were visiting I got to have my bestest, Lyndsay, and her roommate and my friend Katy come for 4 days.  We spent a lot of time in the kitchen while they were here making bread and homemade pizza and salads, etc.  It was Katy's first time, or first time in a long time, to Estes so we had to make sure to give her a great tour!  We started out their time with church Sunday morning followed by breakfast at Meadow Mountain cafe in Allenspark and the hike to Ouzel Falls out of Wild Basin.  While on our hike about halfway to the falls a bear darted across the trail 10 feet ahead of us.  Surprised, we hesitated at first to keep walking forward, but finished the hike standing in the mist of Ouzel Falls.  That night we made 3 DELICIOUS homemade pizzas.  The toppings consisted of:  1. Bacon, pear and arugula  2. Margherita with onion on part of it 3. BBQ chicken with onion.  They were so tasty.  I'd have to say the bacon-pear-arugula was my favorite.  Tommy and I had this for the first time when we were in South Africa and are still trying to replicate it.  This one came close.

My favorite...the bacon-pear-arugula!

We had some leftover pizza dough and so the next morning we experimented by rolling the dough into balls, then covering them with melted butter and cinnamon sugar.  We put 3 balls in each muffin cup of the muffin tin and baked them in the oven.  It was alright for an experiment.  Fynn really liked these.  The rest of their trip here consisted of a great couple of runs with Lyndsay (we are training for a half marathon in Napa at the end of October!!), a drive up Trail Ridge, delicious cinnamon rolls in Glenhaven, a trip to the Estes Park Mountain Shop, downtown shop browsing, Lattes and Americanos at Kind Coffee, and I'm pretty sure the list could go on a bit longer, but my brain is a little frazzled so we'll stop there. 

Our left-over pizza dough concoctions.

It was sad to see them go, but I'm getting really excited to see Lynds again in California for our adventure!!

Lynds and Katy enjoying the nice evening.
Tommy exhausted at the end of the day.
Fynn showing us his stellar yoga moves.  Very impressive for a 9 year old!
Our honey whole wheat bread dough starting to rise.
The finished product.  A little dense.  I need to figure out how to bake at altitude.

Katy and Lynds on Trail Ridge in RMNP.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hike to Grand Lake

Last Thursday, VERY early in the morning, Kaci Yoh and Jodi Roman picked me up to head out for our big hike...and I think my longest hike yet.  Bear Lake to Grand Lake.  Making the trek had been something that the Roman's have talked about before and I had thought "pffff, I don't need to do that," but then recently Kaci brought up the hike.  She proposed it as a "girl's hike", and since I have been training for a half marathon, I thought I was fit enough for the task.  With everyone's busy schedule, we were only able to round up the three of us, but we were going to do it.  This hike sounds intimidating because of the length and we weren't sure what to expect or how the trail markings were going to be.  Kaci made a copy of the topo to keep in her pocket, we were sure to have plenty of food, and convinced Jay and Tommy to run shuttle and drop us off a car at the trail head in Grand Lake so we could spend that night and the next morning there.

My alarm bleeped that annoying jingle that makes me cringe every time I hear it signaling me to get out of bed.  I woke up confused as to what that noise was, and silenced it with a quick motion and as my head hit the pillow again I realized what was going on....I needed to get ready to hike!  Motivated by my determination to be on time, I scooted out of bed threw on the clothes I had set out the night before and moved straight to the kitchen to get my espresso going.  I packed everything the night before because I knew waking up on time isn't my strong suit, so all I needed to do was down the coffee and get some grub in my belly.  Just as I was finishing my egg Kaci and Jodi pulled up to the house.  I let out a little "wooo" in hopes to wake up a little more and we were off to Bear Lake.  We got our headlamps on and started for the trail in the perfect weather.

Partway up Flattop the sun started to rise with the most intense red colors I have ever seen from the sun illuminating parts of the pine trees. By the time we summited Flattop clouds had rolled in, the temps were dropped, every article of clothing in my pack was adorned, and I couldn't feel my hands.  A little brisker than we expected.  I started charging down the trail so as to get coverage from the trees sooner.

We passed over tranquil streams and vibrant flowers and as we got closer and closer to treeline the temps increased.  There was some light sprinkles of rain, but no signs of lightning so we continued hiking with ease.  Much better than a sweltering day.  The hike went on and so did we, talking about things that girls talk about when guys aren't around.  We passed a few people, occasionally took in the view, but our mission was to complete the hike.  We were all feeling surprisingly great and didn't think the trail was too hard.

As we got closer to the North Inlet Trailhead on the Grand Lake side we asked a couple how much further.  They said about an hour and a half, and I thought, hmm..they were going up hill and didn't look to be in the best shape and set the goal for us to accomplish it in an hour.  The girls nodded in agreement at first I think just to humor me, but as I got more and more motivated to actually do this, and started thinking about time, I figured we could accomplish the hike in 8 hours.  I started walking faster and told Kaci and Jodi that we could do this and there were no doubts.  We were going to do it.  As everyone told us there was about 15 minutes left until the trailhead we picked up speed because there was only 10 minutes left on the clock to accomplish the task.  We started running on the downhill, and pushing it.  With packs and Jodi's knee bothering her we didn't think it was worth an injury, but went hard.  As we saw a clearing in the trees ahead we picked up the pace more and started running.  4 minutes to go. We went for a bit and around the corner we saw the road kept on without a visual of parking lot.  We slowed to a quick walk so as not to burn out.  We went in and out of running, and finally we saw the trail head and went for it.  Finishing time.............8 HOURS AND 1 DARN MINUTE!!  Grr.  I tried to come up with thoughts that maybe we actually didn't start the hike until 5:07am instead of 5:05am, but that was that.  Regardless, we felt great, enjoyed the hike and time together, and exceeded our expectations!  We continued on to Grand Lake for some beers and margs and pizza and a well earned nap.  Good work ladies.

Photos Courtesy of Kaci Yoh!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Great Food and Company!

We got back from Nashville late Tuesday night, and as time is short while we are home these days, this means we need to be efficient about catching up with our family and friends in Estes and everyone else in between.  Krissy Moehl was in town visiting because she is in Colorado running the TransRockies and we wanted to see her so we had her and Kelly Cordes over for dinner Wednesday night.  We had to be sure to be done by 7pm because of the WEC fights on at Josh Wharton's (one of our few friends with TV in Estes).  I decided to flip through my Climb Nashville Cookbook that Carrie made and came upon Quinoa Salad recipe.  Tommy and I decided to make that and a cherry tomato tart that Carrie got from this link and had baked for us while we were in Nashville.  I got cooking on time, we got eating on time, dined outside in the perfect Estes weather, had great conversation about VO2 maxes and lactic acid and the Kreb's cycle and got to Josh's on time for the fights.  This was a miraculous thing (us being on time so much) and can only be attributed to Lance Brock, who taught us in a short week in Nashville how to be on time.  We hope this wasn't a fluke and I am sure our friends and family do as well.  :)  We will see!

Here's the Quinoa Salad recipe from the Climb Nashville cookbook contributed by Matt Royka.

  • 3 T. lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 T. olive oil
  • 3 T. minced cilantro
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 c. fresh corn
  • 1/2 c. quinoa, rinsed well
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 c. cooked black beans
  • 1 med. tomato, diced
  • 3 T. red onion, minced
Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste, set aside.  In a small saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil and add corn.  Reduce heat and let corn simmer until tender.  Drain corn, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid.  Bring cooking liquid to a boil and add quinoa and cumin.  Cover, reducing heat and let simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.  Remove pan from heat and leave undisturbed for 5 minutes.  Fluff quinoa with a fork and allow to cool slightly.  In a bowl, combine cooled quinoa, corn, black beans, tomato and onion.  Pour dressing over salad and toss gently to mix.  Refrigerate salad until ready to serve.

*I doubled the recipe and we ate this as a main dish.  The four of us all had seconds and there was a small container of left overs!  Next time I promise to take pictures!

In lack of a photo for the Quinoa Salad, here is a photo to illustrate our intellectual dinner conversation.  Ask Kelly Cordes if you have questions! (I hope pasting this picture isn't's not mine):


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Figuring out how to blog...

We are taking the plunge and have decided to set up a blog.  I never paid any attention to blogs until Tommy told me about our friend Carrie's blog.  And then it seemed blogs of people we knew started to pop up all over the place.  It's fun to read and get a glimpse into others' lives and people are always wondering what Tommy is up to, and with the upcoming travels we thought this would be a good way to keep everyone updated.  The thought of journaling and keeping track of life in a documented manner was always romantic, but honestly, the follow through was not consistent.  It's amazing how when there are people to hold you accountable how much gets done.  So, here is our attempt to journal, update, and maybe even amuse some.

Currently we are finishing up a week long visit to the Brock's in Nashville, TN.  It was great spending some time eating good ol' Southern food, crushing at Climb Nashville (Lance and Carrie and their business partner, Drew's gym), tickling and reading books to the adorable Brock children, catching up on sleep and catching up with (for me getting to know) Lance and Carrie.  We will miss the South and the Southern accents and look forward to coming back ya'll...although next time we will try to avoid the high 90's weather and show up in the fall or spring!!  Now that time to part is approaching, we are getting excited to get home to beautiful Estes Park and the mountains!

Nashville Highlights:

  • Sweating
  • Climb Nashville Bouldering Comp
  • Tommy's Slideshow and Surprise Birthday Party and Grill out
  • Checking out Nashville double-date style with Lance and Carrie
  • "peep" and "poop" KB's words for going to the bathroom
  • Wrestling matches with Ethan
  • Reading hundreds of books to the kids
  • "TommyBecca"
  • Naps
  • Fried Green Tomatoes
  • Women's night talking about cooking (if you go to Nashville you MUST do this)  :)
  • Crossfit workouts with Lance
  • Swimming holes at the Obed
  • The singing at Otter Creek Church  

Home time has been less and less as fall is approaching.  Fall is prime season for Tommy to get out and climb, and trips have been popping up left and right.  We have figured out that we are going to be away from home all but 25 days from now until the beginning of January...YIKES!  We are super excited as our travels are going to include China, Jackson Hole, Yosemite National Park, Brazil, and Argentina!  Many people have commented how great and exciting this will be and how lucky we are, which don't get me wrong...we are SO blessed to be able to travel this much and see these amazing places, but there is still something wonderful and comfortable about home.  Tommy has traveled a bunch, but this much in this length of time is still more than the norm for him and I have never been on the road this much, so I think this will be a time to get to know each other real well and grow together!  I know occasionally I can get a little crabby and have been known to wake up in the middle of the night completely confused as to where I am when switching beds so much, so we will see how this goes.  Luckily, Tommy is amazing with traveling (as long as I am keeping track of the passports and plane tickets) and doesn't get freaked out when I bolt upright in bed in a panic.

We will be home for 10 days filled with people visiting (Lyndsay, Katy F., Katie W., Nick, Fynn and I'm sure there's more) and outings to soak up Estes in August (I am hiking to Grand Lake  with Kaci and Jodi from Flattop, and Tommy will be heading up the Diamond on Long's, and training like a madman).  We can't wait to spend some time with our loving roommates, Patrick and Colorado (the dog), and fit in some R&R before getting on a plane to China!

By the way...if anyone has suggestions on comfortable ways to fall asleep on long plane rides send them my way!  Neck pillow?  No neck pillow?  Inflatable neck pillow? Melatonin?  Wine?