• Posted on April 07, 2014

Marmot’s Lead Now Tour – Stop 8 – Ecuador

Ecuador marks stop #8 of Marmot‘s Lead Now Tour, a global tour to inspire people through rock climbing and raise $10,000 a month for eleven different non-profit organizations.

I spent the month of February exploring the wild diversity of Ecuador.  Paige and I took our piece-of-crap rental car across what felt like every inch of Ecuadorian soil, from the Amazon Jungle to the tops of 4000 meter peaks and all the way down to the Pacific Ocean.  The landscape in Ecuador is about as diverse as it gets and by the end of it all, our heads were spinning from the journey.

Our time spent on the equator was jam packed with rock climbing, road tripping, and working directly with one of our favorite Lead Now Tour non-profit partners, Heifer International.  Heifer works to eradicate poverty and hunger through sustainable, values-based holistic community development and we spent time with a family that raises alpacas and visited a farm that sustainably grows products that are sold in local markets.

I put together a collection of images from our trip that tell the story best so take a look and if you ever get the chance to visit the most bio diverse country on earth, don’t hesitate, you will never forget it.


We started out in Quito, the capital of Ecuador.


The locals loved having their photos taken…


We visited the equator and saw some shrunken heads.


Paige did a slideshow and video night with Tattoo, a local gear shop in South America.


We made a quick stop into the local radio station for a chat and then hit the road in search of world class rocks to climb on.


First thing we saw was this lamb.  Awww.


Then we got to sample some amazing, high quality granite at the entrance to the Amazon Jungle.  La Guerica has lots of problems established already and piles of projects on every wall.  Here, our friend David Gomez works on a nice v10 ish project.


Crux gaston thumb press to slab dyno.


I snagged the 2nd ascent of “Pachinko” (v8) and we hit the road, looking for sport climbing projects.


We met up with our road trip tour guide Christian Medina and he took us straight to a nice limestone mini cliff to work some projects.  Just before any sending went down, the Ecuador mist rolled in and we were soaked.


Paige going for it on the project.


The team made a pit stop at the Tungurahua volcano to watch an eruption and capture some lava on film.


It was as rad as this photo makes it look.  Ground shaking, ash spewing, growling mountain awesomeness.


Next stop was El Acantilado at the base of Chimboraso, the largest active volcano and mountain in Ecuador.  We were blown away by the rock quality, the landscape and the routes!  Here, Christian warms up on one of many classic 5.12s.  The potential here is mind blowing with enough room for hundreds of high quality routes up and down the canyon.


Spectacular colors in the valley.


Paige made quick work of “Cinco Ocho” (5.13b) at nearly 13,000 ft.


We made our way to Cuenca to meet up with friends and check out some more projects at Cajas National Park.  This is the view from our porch and you can see up into Cajas behind the C-Tres climbing gym!


We teamed up with Ecuadorian superstar, Margarita Cardoso to get to work on some projects.  She is seen here working out the moves on what would become “Middle Earth” (5.13+).


Paige went to battle with the Middle Earth project for a few days and pulled off a heroic first ascent.  This route sits right at 4000 meters elevation (13,000 ft).  Technical 5.13 crimping leads to a hard credit card crimp face of 5.13+ with a 40 foot section of gently overhanging 5.13 at the top.  Full value diverse climbing all the way to a powerful v5 exit boulder problem at the chains.


Check the video for all the action!


One of the main reasons we were in Ecuador was to work with Heifer and the farmers who benefit from their support.  This woman shows off her guinea pig mamma, ready to give birth.


Guinea pig, called “cuy” in Ecuador, is a delicacy and we were invited to cook and eat a feast of the little guys.  Paige and Marga cooked with the women and got the full experience.


Paige about to dig into a cuy leg for dinner.


We spent a day filming with a family that raises alpaca for wool which is spun into yarn to make clothing and other products to sell in local markets.


We got a full demo of spinning techniques from a master…


Our time spent in Ecuador was unforgettable and we made so many new friends that helped us on our journey.  Working with Heifer was really special and it was a great way to connect directly with local families and experience the real side of Ecuador.  To support Lead Now’s $10,000 fundraising goal for Heifer, visit crowdrise.com/leadnowtourecuador

  • Posted on March 05, 2014

Marmot’s Lead Now Tour – Stop 7 – Turkey

Six weeks in Turkey went by faster then expected.  I experienced many “firsts” on this section of Marmot‘s Lead Now Tour and I’m excited to share some photos and video from the voyage.


Paige and I left India with some flower garlands and a giant plate of fruit?!  Pretty great way to say goodbye…


We arrived in Antalya, Turkey only to find that we were there on the off season so the beaches were deserted, the town was empty, and ocean looked sad.


Destroyed buildings and an old shipping channel provided us with little inspiration in a typically busy European hot spot.


But at least we had a pool.  With no water…


The view from our porch was pretty alright but we were one of maybe 2 tenants in the whole place.  It was quiet and erie and the only time we saw our neighbors was when an earthquake shook our top floor apartment and we went running into the hall confused about what to do in an earthquake.  Apparently duck and cover, not run through the halls…


We spent less then a week climbing at a relatively unknown spot called Olympos.  Vertical limestone guarded by this ruined castle.  Pretty cool.  Paige sent a really nice 5.13d called “Gangster” but people don’t seems to care about 5.13 anymore…


We met some new friends at a hill that was on fire…  It’s called Chimaera and there was natural gas fueled fire spitting out from the ground.


I was pretty stoked for the fire mountain.  Beside myself even.


We stayed in a tree house that was VERY cold and small, ate dinner in a common meal hall with the other tourists…  It was pretty nice to escape for a week and not talk to anyone and just climb and eat cheese.


But we didnt come to Turkey for Olympos or the sad town of Antalya.  We were there to climb limestone overhangs and clip bolts.


We met up with our friends Heather Weidner


and Chris Weidner…


and we went to war with some rock climbs in the classic Geyik Bayiri zone of Trebenna.


Here Chris works out the lower moves on a climb he later sent called “Happy Ending” (8b).


Heather worked on the area test piece, “Sarpedon” (8b+), which Chris and Paige sent quickly.


Chris on “Happy Ending”.


Heather on “Sarpedon”, nearing the first crux.


Chris, warming up on a nice 7c at Trebenna.  This route climbs up a pillar, through a hole, and out a stalactite roof.  Pretty rad and pretty typical of Turkish limestone.  Lots of roofs, lots of tufas, lots of 3d climbing.


Paige sent “Sarpedon” like it was her job.  Made it look easy!  Seems like 8b+ is not her limit… or even close. Check the video for the send footage!


Chris working out the beta on the upper mono crux of “Sarpedon”.


Heather sent the ultra classic “Ikarus” (8a/+) right next to “Sarpadon”.


We went rug shopping…


Chris sent a nice 7c+ called “Leon”.


And that was about it.

Honestly I was pretty disappointed that we didn’t get to spend more time climbing at the biggest cliff at Geyikbayiri called Sarkit.  It’s home to some massive sweeping walls with amazing lines all the way to the top, but the unseasonably warm winter and the south facing orientation of the wall kept us chasing shade and climbing at Trebenna.

If you are planning to climb in Turkey at Geyik Bayiri with a group, I highly suggest renting an apartment in Antalya and driving up to the crag each day.  It’s only 20 minutes and the quality of life in Antalya is comfortable and inexpensive.  Camping or renting a cabin at one of the many campgrounds at Geyik Bayiri gets expensive fast, especially when you have to eat at the local restaurants for 8-12 Euro a meal.  If you climb 7c+ to around 8b, there are TONS of great routes to work and more then enough climbing for a months worth of fun.

Turkey turned out to be significantly more progressive then India (the other muslim country I have visited) and was a comfortable place for a winter vacation.  It was very similar to the rest of Europe despite sharing a boarder with Syria.  If you are planning a sport climbing vacation, consider checking out Geyik Bayiyi if you are looking for something other then Spanish and French limestone, it’s a pretty isolated spot and it can be as comfortable as home.

Did you know that women and girls make up 70% of the world’s 1 billion poorest people? Or that a child born to a literate mother is 50% more likely to survive past the age of 5? These are statistics from CARE, a Lead Now supported organization that helps the poorest communities in the world unleash their full potential. Help Lead Now support CARE by donating online at www.crowdrise.com/leadnowtourturkey. Contribute $27 or more for a chance to win a Marmot 2 person tent!

  • Posted on February 24, 2014

Dr. Heather Weidner – Life in Reverse

Every now and then I get a good idea for an athlete profile piece and every now and then the athlete I work with is equally motivated to help me create the best possible story.  When you have a cool concept for a film and a character that will go to the end of the earth to help you pull it off, thats when the magic happens.


I met prAna ambassador Heather Weidner for the first time in Antalya, Turkey.  We had a few conversations before our trip to get organized but it was in Turkey that we became friends and I was able to help tell her story.  Heather has taken a slightly backwards approach to climbing full time.  Instead of dirt bagging it through high school and college, living out of a van and eating stale pop-tarts for breakfast, she dove right into her education with 100% commitment.  Only after getting her veterinary degree and practicing for 4 years did she stop to reevaluate her life.  Rather then keep the 9-5 with good pay in a rewarding job, she decided to take a break from her busy life and focus on her true passion, rock climbing.

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 3.23.22 PM

With rock superstar husband Chris Weidner in tow, they hit the road on a 5 month round the world tour to climb every day like it was their last.  As a result, Heather has been living a life in reverse.

“Life is short and fragile, go out and get it now.”

Music by – VVV


  • Posted on January 26, 2014

Marmot’s Lead Now Tour – Stop 6 – India

India marks stop #6 of Marmot‘s Lead Now Tour, a global tour to inspire people through rock climbing and raise $10,000 a month for twelve different non-profit organizations.

6 months deep into our trip, we found a new rhythm in India during the month of December. With 5am daily wakeup calls to work India’s hardest sport climb before sunrise, Paige Claassen and 2 of India’s strongest climbers – Tuhin Satarkar and Sandeep Kumar Maity – navigate not only heat but the cultural barriers of a country deeply rooted in tradition. In a culture where women are expected to keep the home, dress conservatively, and live under the guidance of men, a woman climbing Ganesh (5.14a/8b+) is an unexpected event. Follow the Lead Now team deeper into the struggles of women in India as Ruchira Gupta, Emmy winning founder of Apne Aap Women Worldwide, describes her work to end sex trafficking and forced prostitution in India, and encourage the hope, empowerment, and shared courage of women around the world.

To support Lead Now’s $10,000 fundraising goal for the Apne Aap Women Worldwide, visit www.crowdrise.com/leadnowtourindia

I put together a collection of my favorite shots from our time in India along with some descriptions of our experiences there.  Have a look:


We arrived in Delhi, India to work directly with Apne Aap Women’s Worldwide.  We toured the city and got to see some sites like this old tomb.


We also checked out the world famous Humayun’s Tomb in downtown Delhi.



Delhi is covered with intricate power line chaos.


Rush hour rickshaw ride!




We arrived in our home for the next 2 weeks, Badami.  The kids in this town were absolutely beautiful.  Always smiling, playing, and willing to have their pictures taken.


The view from the Badami Caves.


Celebration lassis in Badami, post Ganesh send!



We encountered a terrifying bees nest.  We heard that these bees cover your body and enter into your eyes, ears, nose and mouth and suffocate you.  We also heard that there was a nest this size on Ganesh a few years ago.  Glad we didn’t encounter that on our trip!


Paige working on a nice line called “Badami Killer”.


Laundry day in an algae filled lake.















This downtown Badami market was the place to be on Tuesday evenings!


Hundreds of dogs roamed the streets here.  Most were branded like this one.






Our India crew.  Sandeep, Tuhin, and Paige.



Paige ticking India’s hardest route, Ganesh (8b+).





  • Posted on January 15, 2014


Louder Than Eleven is proud to present our 2013 reel. We tell stories about people doing what they love no matter what it takes and sharing our passion for the outdoors through our movies. Whether it’s producing live events, documenting world travel, or creating editorial video for the outdoor industry, Louder Than Eleven wants you to come away inspired. We hope you enjoy!

Music – Morris Cowan “The Grove”