High Energy Cosmologist by training, now a JPL staff scientist doing data analysis for Planck, CloudSat, CDX and HMI. I've been climbing sport for about 5 years and trad about 4, and try to climb outdoors every weekend. I think its good to be versed in all the climbing disciplines, as each has something to offer the other aspects of the sport. For example, sport leading well-bolted routes helps one climb harder trad faster, and trad & crack skills often come in handy on sport routes. Thus, its important to be a well-rounded climber. I confess although this probably includes bouldering, I don't really like it and will only do it when there there is no climbing to be done.
My climbing philosophy is that climbing is about pushing the limits of what human beings can do. John Long said 'climbing is the king of all sports'. To that end, the value in doing a route is how it improves the climber as it pushes the envelope of his or her capabilities. Regardless of one's ability levels, I think one should always be trying to push the envelope - but safely. Safety is key and should always be first priority, because if one dies or is maimed in a climbing accident, the game is over. You can bounce back from bailing off a route, or a failed redpoint/onsight - but death is the penultimate failure.
I think SoCal is really the greatest climbing paradise in the world. Four season trad & sport climbing, mountains (skiing!) and ocean all in one state - what more could one want? Truly the blessed land of milk & honey. Here are some of my favorite climbing locations:
- Joshua Tree - World class trad crags (LOTS), good frictiony granite only 2.5 hrs from Pasadena
- Yosemite - tall, hard, classic trad routes a mere 5hrs from Pasadena
- Tuolumne - shorter routes than Yosemite, but still has some hard classic gems - great in August
- Tahquitz/Suicide Rock - shorter trad routes, good in summer & fall
- Big Bear area - lots of trad & sport crags on granite (similar to JT, but more featured) in the San Bernardinos
- Riverside Quarry - Why God gave us RDOs - A SoCal gem, steep granite - best sport place I've seen anywhere, great place to push it!
- Potrero Chico - tall multipitch sport routes and a nice friendly place in rural Mexico
- Echo Cliffs - best (sport) climbing in the Santa Monicas - tall hard sport routes abound on welded tuff.
Have not been to, but want to visit:
- Indian Creek - pure crack routes !!! plan trips every spring & fall, but damn it, they keep falling through - must pilgrimage there soon
- Paradise Forks - rumor has it this place rivals Indian Creek in cracktasticity
- Squamish - got to get there the summer of 2011
Trad Lead: up to 10d on good pro (though aspire to break into the 11s soon)
Sport Lead: up to 12b (mostly at Riverside Quarry)
Boulder: Flashed a few V3s and worked V4s, but prefer climbing
Ice Climbing: Three days in Ouray showed me I rule WI4, and did not fall on any of the few WI5 I got to try - need to do harder WI to find my limit
Alpine Ascents: Seems interesting, but alot of work for not so much return - done some and may do more some day
Free Solo: are you kidding?