Category Archives: climbing


Red Rock Point

Randy ascending fixed line

My commute

Yet another last minute run to Arkansas for a few days of shooting. I just happened to be talking to Jeremy on a Monday morning when in passing he says “Hey I’m going to Arkansas to climb tomorrow, wanna come” to which I reply “who’s going” to which he replys “I hate when people ask that – why does it matter”. While a good point, I still like to ask it just to annoy him. In the end he offered up that Corbin Brady and Jim Lasseter would be going as well…two great guys that would no doubt be great to hang with.

Now the thought of getting up at 4:00 am and driving 5-hours didn’t seem all that appealing but Jer dangled the possibility of heading to Red Rock Point for a day of climbing – which certainly made it more appealing. By reputation this place is touted as some of the best/tallest climbing in Arkansas. However, access is somewhat in question as it requires passing through private property to get to the cliffs. Thankfully Jeremy is plugged into the local scene and served as our ambassador.

We made it to the “secret” parking spot and unloaded our gear…now being that we are on private property extreme disgression is in order – so me sounding the alarm on the Sequoia when I stuffed my keys in my pack was not one of my better moves.  I fully expected a pack of dogs to jump out of all the rusted out cars and chase up the nearby trees. Fortunatly this did not happen and we quickly started the approach up to the base of the cliffs.

The approach proved to be a nice warmup and it quickly became obvious that we would be bushwacking through the downed trees from a recent ice storm.  After lots of scrambling up slick leafy slopes we were at the base of the cliff.  The sun was out and the skys were blue.  Jer then proceeded to lead us to the most impressive wall of sandstaone I have ever seen in Arkansas.

I won’t bore you with the details of my first time jugging a line, but suffice it to say it was not pretty and resulted and a few bloody knuckles.  The first day ended with some great shots of Corbin leading “Batso’s Revenge” (5.9).  We all decided we wanted to come back the next day so we stashed out gear under some rocks and made it back to the car by sundown and made our way to the Eagles Nest Cafe in Mt. Judea for some good ol’ homestyle food.

The next day we woke to cloudy cold skies and were regretting having left our gear back at RRP. Magically as we finished our approach to the base of the cliffs the clouds burned off and we were rewarded with another glorious day – which again ended on a high note with Jer sending “Skysaw” (5.12b).

A few images from the trip:  Red Rock Point Climbing Images

Corbin Brady taking a break

Cold Ramen

…with a side of cold oatmeal

I can’t believe it has been over a year since I last posted to this Blog.  Surely I have been on an Adventure since last year…

Well if I haven’t, this little quicky trip with Jesse sure help me make up for lost time. The alarm erupted at 3:00 AM Friday morning – hit the snooze one time then it was up and out the door to meet Jesse for our 4-hour drive south to Sam’s Throne, Arkansas – but not before stopping at QT for a large coffee and glazed donut. Halfway there we were finally greeted by a warm sunrise, leaving behind what would be a cold rainy day in KC.

We arrived just as some other local KC climbers were about to leave camp and head off for a day of climbing.  Jesse and I quickly grabbed our gear and headed off.  The plan for today was to hit some of the classic moderates and enjoy the day to it’s fullest. Jesse announced that my goal for the day was 10-routes – a lofty goal I thought since I hadn’t climbed since May of this year. In the end I think I did something like 8 routes, but not without alot of grunting and groaning.

To my surprise, there was still alot of color in the trees and the early morning light was igniting the color even more. This was too good to pass up so I pulled out the camera and spent the next hour shooting the gang.

After that the rest of the crew headed over to HCR to finish out their weekend. Jesse and I now had Sam’s Throne to ourselves and he proceded to take me to six climbs I had never done before. We ended the day with the forever classic “Poison Ivy”, then headed back to set-up camp just as the sun was leaving the sky.

We succeeded in making the most of the day!

Hungry and tired we quickly pulled out our food and my stove.  (It is important to note that prior to thre trip we agreed I would be the one to bring the stove to share.)  I was going to dine on Ramen Noodles and tuna and Jesse would be consuming some sort of Indian dish.  I was just 3 short minutes from boiling water and a hot meal.  However it was at this point I realized that while I had matches I didn’t have anything to strike them on.  HMMM…we proceeded to “Macgyver” our way through possible solutions which included stones and various metal objects, a battery and some foil – just anything that would give us enough spark to ignite the stove. In the end I surrendered and opted to soak the ramen in cold water for a while and call it good.  Funny thing when you are hungry and outside camping, just about anything taste good.

It was just after 7:oo and we each retreated to our tents. Just as I zipped the sleeping bag I heard the pitter patter of rain drops on the tent – PERFECT timing!

I woke up Saturday morning around 7:00 having gotten a good 11-hours of sleep.  I peered out the tent – the rain had stopped, however it was cold and the clouds still hung low in the sky.  Not to worry as I will soon be eating COLD oatmeal for breakfast and will have to forego my much needed coffee in the morning.

We quickly broke camp and headed down the road to a climbing area that Jesse had been telling me about for awhile called Stack Rock.  We arrived at the bluffs by 9:30 and had 4-hours to knock out what we could before heading back to KC.  Stack Rock did not disappoint and Jesse once agian did a stellar job of showing me some of the classic climbs. We were on the road by 2:30 and by 8:30 I was at a friends house enjoying a steak, a glass of wine and the company of good friends.

Can’t wait to do it again – now I’m off to put a LIGHTER with my cook stove.

Knob Creek

Just got back from a long weekend at HCR.  Got a chance to catch up with good friends who for the most part I hadn’t seen in awhile.  Rick moved to Dallas, Mike jetted off to Prague for 5-weeks, Daron and Lori, like me and my wife, are consumed with parenthood and work and Lorne -well there is no good reason why I haven’t seen him or his wife Angela.

The weather ended up being a little colder than predicted so most mornings were spent eating breakfast playin’ music and taking hikes around the ranch.  We did actually climb a little Saturday afternoon.

Saturday night was the highlight of the entire weekend.  After dinner we spent the entire night sitting by the fire in the lodge listening to Grateful Dead, playing the mandolin and guitar, drinkin’ Scotch and Bourbon (this is starting to sound like the lyrics from a George Thorogood song I know) and watching Lorne parade around in a Cowboy hat.  Eric and Keith if you are out there – you were definitely in my thoughts and you were sorely missed.

It was great catching up and talking about all the challenges life happened to be throwing at us all. And while we all live separate lives, our challenges are not all that different…till next time.

Here are some pics from the weekend.







Daron, Lori & Andrew

Daron, Lori & Andrew

Cooler Temps

Cooler temps can only mean one thing…sleeping in a tent is just around the corner.  Living in the Midwest, the wife and I pretty much avoid any type of camping in Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas between the months of June – August.  However as September rolls around we begin to put a plan together for where we will be heading for our weekend getaways.

I intend to get a head-start on the rest of the fam and will be heading to Salem, MO next week for 4-days of off-road fun.  After that we will be taking Christopher on his first camping adventure and will most likely end up at Indian Cave State Park in Nebraska.  I will be ending October with another wheelin’ trip to Manhattan, KS.

Somewhere in all of this we will no doubt make a run to Arkansas with the boys for some camping and climbing.  So fear not my one lonely reader – I will have more adventure stories to come.

KC Climbing Club trip to Arkansas

Prior to getting the call to head to Russia, I had already committed to heading to Arkansas for the KC Climbing Club trip to Sam’s Throne and HCR.  So once back in the states I frantically re-adjusted my mental state and threw everything I could think of into the back of the Sequoia.

The weather was looking pretty iffy for the weekend – but it was worth a shot.  I drove down with Rick Friday night and met Mike at our campsite.  He already had a roaring fire waiting for us along with some tasty home brew.  It had been over a year since Rick had been out climbing with us and it was really great catching up with him and hearing about his first year at being a father. Once the sun had set, the Scotch and Cigars found their way to the campfire and the rest of the night was spent talking about nothing in particular, but I’m sure at some point in time we touched on work, life, Mike’s dating situation, marriage and other topics not appropriate to be typed in ANY public forum.

by the fire

Slowly I began to close my eyes, but wait, why do I feel like I’m spinning.  CRAP! I only had two cigars and one scotch – surely that isn’t enough to give me the spins.  They soon passed as I frantically inhaled the cold air to clear my head.  We all eventually made our way to our tents to get some rest.

The next morning I got up early and headed down to the bluffs to take some pictures.  The light was perfect!

tree on bluff

flower on bluff

Sam’s Throne is a pretty special place for a lot of Kansas City Climbers, me included.  It was the first “real” place that I climbed outside.  And prior to HCR becoming a reality it is really the only place I climbed for the first 5-years.  It was good to be back and standing on the bluff looking out over the valley.

After breakfast we headed to one of our favorite spots to climb at Sam’s.  I wanted to get some practice hanging from a rope and taking pictures of people climbing.  Mike “the talent” in this case agreed to let me shoot him while he lead a climb.  I can tell already, I’m going to need a lot of practice.  While I’m happy with a couple images, shooting while above a climber produces some very funky composition.  Sometimes I lost track of which way was up.

mike on poohs

We then moved on to the “throne”.  Back in the day when Mike & I first started going to Sam’s there was this climb that we would always try but could never finish.  It’s called “Tandem Slide – aka Last Waltz (5.9)”…we decided to set up a toprope and see if perhaps over the years we have improved enough to actually climb the route.  The first 1/3 of the route is fairly easy on good holds, after that it pitches back past vertical and really only offers you fingertip edges the rest of the way.  Needless to say for both Mike and I this is a very sustained pumpy climb.  In the end we both found our way to top with only having to hang once from the rope about 10-feet from the top.  Not complete success but we know with a little more conditioning in the gym we should be able to climb it by fall.

 Rick on Rock


Friday night the Club grilled up some burgers with all the fixin’s.  It was really great to see so many new people out on this trip. A BIG thanks to Natalie, Jesse and all those that helped make this happen.

Sunday morning we packed up our stuff and headed over to HCR for a little sport climbing.  We noticed by the time we got there the temps had dropped.  Oh well! We grabbed our rope and a set of draws and hiked up to the north forty.  Even with cold temps you can always find good “juggy” routes to climb…or so we thought.  As we walked along the bluff we noticed most of the routes had water on them.  Oh yeah – Arkansas has been getting alot of ran lately.  We eventually found a route that we hadn’t been on.  I roped up and about halfway up I noticed a few flakes landing on my shoulder – not rock flakes but SNOW flakes. CRAP! By the time we each had our turn on the route we were cold and were ready to eat some Mexican food – so we packed up and headed home.

Cabin Fever

Dashed off to Arkansas this past weekend with the family. I had been traveling a lot lately and was in need of quality time with Alex and Caroline. Our friends Daron and Lori would be joining us on Friday along with their sons Duncan and Andrew.

We arrived late on Thursday night and spent most of Friday hiking near the Buffalo River. We made it back to HCR just in time to get a climb in before the sun went down. After that we hit our favorite spot in Jasper for dinner and then it was back to the cabin to meet up with some friends.

Saturday was a beautiful day, but not without its challenges…mainly with Alex having a bad day and not wanting to listen. Nothing like being at the crux of a climb only to hear your son screaming at the top of his lungs because he is not getting his way. In hindsight it really wasn’t that bad…can’t fault the kid for wanting to climb all the boulders in sight…at least I can’t.

We really only had one mishap when Alex fell off a small boulder onto his back. While this might seem cruel of me to say, I’m sorta glad he fell. We had been telling him all morning that he needed to tell an adult when he was going to climb and they needed to spot him, otherwise he could fall and hurt himself. (I should note he was wearing his helmet and the boulder was only three feet tall) Anyway, I think this fall got his attention and he was much better about making sure someone spotted him.

While my original intent was to take some climbing photos this weekend it just didn’t work out. I did however take some time to shoot some landscapes as well as family and friends enjoying the weekend. It feels great to get back to something that I enjoy so much. I have great memories from when I was taking photography classes in college. It offered a great balance to the course work in business school.

To see more images go here…

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch

First Encounter…

I happened upon HCR several years back. A friend and I were climbing at nearby Sam’s Throne and he said to me “Ranski, there is a place over by Jasper, Arkansas we need to go check out…I have been in touch with the owner and he might hook us up with a cabin for the night.” Not sure if Jer was telling the truth or lying to me just to get me to go with him. I after all was the one with the vehicle. If I recall the previous night had been a little on the wet side, so the thought of sleeping in a dry cabin certainly was appealing. On top of that the Arkansas Climbers Rendezvous was being held there that weekend – an event that is typically held at Sam’s Throne – and one that always has a great gear raffle. So after spending most of Saturday climbing at Sam’s we packed up our things and headed to HCR.

It was dark when we arrived, we had no idea as we descended into the canyon on the gravel road that we were surrounded by miles of sandstone bluffs. Our task at hand was to find the “barn” – hopefully in time to purchase some raffle tickets and win a sleeping bag or rope or even just a frisbee. After that Jer needed to track down Barry (the owner – affectionately referred to as “Wild Berry” by his kids) in order to negotiate a cabin for the night. My recollection is that Jer had gotten a small write-up on HCR in one of the climbing mags and was hoping this would be enough currency to get us in a comfy dry cabin for the night…as it turns out it was.

It wasn’t until the next morning when we walked out onto the porch that we fully realized how special this place was. There was a blanket of fog hanging just above the ground, but slowly the sun lit up the bluffs and the fog lifted revealing a grassy valley divided by a small stream, with boulders scattered everywhere. Horses and cattle ran free – it is after all a dude ranch. But more importantly we were surrounded on all sides by beautifully colored sandstone bluffs. Jer was like a puppy dog dancing around in the cabin tossing his cams in the air and chewing on on his draws eager to get outside and play…

For me the timing of the opening of HCR was perfect. I had just started to lead, mostly trad at Sam’s Throne. I’m a self proclaimed wuss when it comes to venturing too far past my last piece of pro and HCR now offered bolted routes, that some may say are too conservative in their spacing, but for me they are PERFECT.

Since that first trip I have lost count how many times I have been to HCR, but I can only imagine I will be going there for along time. It is a great place to bring family and friends – even those that aren’t interested in climbing find it to be a great place to relax, go for a hike or just read a book on the porch.