The RV Project

"There Are No Wrong Roads to Anywhere"

Archive for the month “May, 2012”

Farley Ledges

Vikki and I spent the weekend in Boston watching Alec graduate and eating way too much food. There’s nothing like a Chinese family celebrating the success of its offspring to stop your diet plans in their tracks (we’ve been striding towards eating only plant-based foods). We did manage to visit Rock Spot Boston and drop off samples for Kevin, the retail manager. While there, we happened to meet Metro Rock gym manager John, who was at Rock Spot because he was avoiding the crowds! Apparently, MR is gigantic, but much more of a “scene.”

After the weekend, we drove out to Farley. Vikki picked up a shift along the way, so we didn’t get there until Wednesday afternoon. A hilarious thing happened while hunting around for a place to stay, but I’ll relate that story later. The denouement is that we didn’t actually make it to climb until Thursday morning. Read more…

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TTFN, Ta Ta For Now

Byron knows how to get people to tell a story. Chris Van Leuven falls victim to the camera.

I tried many clever titles for this post: “Bye-ron,” “Byron Be Balling Back in Bloomington,” “The Glass is 2/3 Full,” and others you probably don’t want to know about. In the end, I chose a simple, easy, and I believe accurate phrase from Winnie the Pooh.

I have an announcement to make.

As some of you already know, Byron will no longer be a part of the RV Project. I’m not going to give you the boilerplate “pursuing other interests” explanation, as there’s way more to it than that. While our on-the-road phase might be over, our friendship is not, and that is why the “For Now” part of the title is important. Please read on.

Read more…

Bloomtown to Beantown

If you have a kayak, this is your approach trail.

Vikki and I have driven a lot of miles lately. From Bloomington, we dropped off the trailer in Edinburgh, IN for repairs and drove all the way to the New River Gorge in the beautiful state of West Virginia. As the primary driver, I have to give Vikki what some refer to as mad props for her navigation skills. She stays awake, she pays attention to the road and can direct me anywhere, and keeps the snacks handy.

Yerba Maté and diesel power.

We only had one day in the New, and let me tell you, it was not enough. Imagine the Red River Gorge, but with a more blocky, bouldery style of climbing on lighter-colored sandstone reminiscent of HP40. We arrived at some ungodly hour, like 3AM, and camped at the free camping below the Summersville Dam. It was our first night without the Pilgrim, and we slept, Bishop-style, on crash pads underneath the stars.

We slept in pretty late, and we didn’t get to the crag until the early afternoon. Unfortunately, Vikki’s stomach was on the fritz again, and she was only able to do a few laps on the best 5.7 sport climb of all time, Hippie Dreams on the Orange Oswald wall, before calling it a day. She stayed and belayed, but wasn’t able to try hard.

The Orange Oswald crag. There probably aren’t many summer crags better than this.

Summersville Lake is amazing. A 15 minute hike leads you to a stream and a waterfall, with a wooden ladder bringing you to the Coliseum, or as I like to call it, the Madness Cave of the New. There you’ll find several 5.13 and 5.14 lines of impeccable splendor. To the left is crag after crag, all accessed by a trail that never veers more than 15 feet from the water’s edge. We warmed up at Orange Oswald, a wall covered in great easy climbs including Hippie Dreams, one of the best 5.7s ever.

A crag dog, with the biggest underbite known to canine. Seriously, that’s a jaw structure only a mother could love.

We worked our way back through the crags to the Coliseum, ticking classics here and there such as Narcissist, Under the Milky Way, and Satisfaction Guaranteed. Every single climb was amazing, especially Under the Milky Way, a powerful and technical arête that forces some amazing movement just before the chains. We finished the day on Reckless Abandon, a famous and fun 5.12a that climbs out above the lake.

Reckless climbs the right side of the white face above the water. Sadly, Deep-Water Soloing at Summersville Lake is not allowed, or at least, not “cliff-jumping.”

We returned to the car to find this note from a pair of climbers we met at the Narcissus cave! They recognized us as the RV Project (we’re famous, no big whoop), which is pretty cool. It was a capper to an incredible day. Well, the capper was battling fatigue and pulling into a Walmart parking lot around 2:30AM on the way to North Carolina.

The note in question…

We awoke early and made it into Durham in the late morning to get some work done at a coffeeshop. We stopped by Vertical Edge Climbing to get in a quick burn, then met some of our friends for drinks. Julie Soic, Vikki’s best friend from high school was kind enough to put us up in a real bed, and we met my good friend Anastasia Schwab for dinner and drinks at Geer Street. She’s in the Physician’s Assistant program at Duke, along with Kate Pocock, a sorority sister of Vikki’s, who also joined us. It was a great night, though we probably stayed up a bit too late given our driving task the next day.

Awaking early the next day, I was unable to keep my eyes open and Vikki took the wheel. She brought us all the way to Rockville, MD, where we had a lunch date with one of my oldest friends Ari Katz. He and Katie Robidart Katz were married last summer, and are now living near our nation’s capitol. He was kind enough to treat us weary travelers to Thai food, and show us around the family house. It was great to catch up with his parents Laura and Stephen, and his sister Mia who was home from Vanderbilt.

Ari Katz and Katie Robidart. Ari’s lookin’ like a boss, because he actually is. He started and runs a successful painting company.

After lunch, we stopped by Earth Treks Rockville to train a little and to drop off samples of Primo Chalk for them to try. They recently expanded, and it’s amazing. The terrain is stupidly cool, with a big orb thing and a long bouldering roof, and a giant prow for sport climbing. The setting is fun too, although I think the sport climbing could be improved with the addition of a few more footchips. I found most of the sport climbs to be fun, but unnecessarily bouldery, and for shorties like Vikki, unnecessarily reachy. Nonetheless, we had a great session and were rewarded with a nice hot shower.

That night, which was Friday night, we departed Rockville and drove to some small town in Pennsylvania, pulling in to a Walmart parking lot around 3:30AM. It doesn’t matter the name of the town, because it has been homogenized by Walmart, which is the same story as for most of the towns we spend our transit nights in. I have to say that even though Walmart parking lots are wonderfully convenient, I would much prefer a small town with a little general store, some local flavor, and a nice park to sleep in.

On Saturday, we woke up earlier than we wanted to and drove to Boston. It was a long drive through Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island to meet up with a gaggle of my relatives for a fancy dinner. The carbon footprint for Alec’s graduation is absolutely outrageous, with Grandpa flying in from Hong Kong and my mom flying in from San Francisco, not to mention Bert’s insatiable engine.

She graduated on Sunday, and now Vikki and I are spending a few days in Boston to visit climbing gyms to promote Primo Chalk, and for Vikki to pick up a couple of organ donation shifts. We’ll climb for a couple of days, and then head to Providence for my little brother Eliot’s graduation. I’m very proud of both Alec and Eliot (of the HP40 episode fame), though I don’t envy them entering the job market these days.

Farley, MA here we come!

TNT: Shadow’s Guaranteed Free Coffee Trick

Today we have a guest post from someone you’ve probably seen somewhere. Shadow spent the last two years in Bishop, CA and is now living at the Red River Gorge for the summer. He lives on the road and has been doing this road-tripping thing for a long time, so we asked him for some advice for our Tips ‘N’ Tidbits section. We are excited to bring you this tip for free coffee!

Dog’s best friend is a man who loves a dog. Shadow and Sumo discuss coffeeshops.

Life on the road can be tough. The freedoms and liberties of being nomadic may come easy, but for how long?

We would all love to ride off into the sunset without a care in the world and do whatever we want for as long as we wish, but without a source of income, the money eventually runs out. The term ‘dirt bag’ didn’t get its name for nothing and climbers have built quite a name for themselves over time. Read more…

Cruise Control Killed My Transmission, or So You’re Thinking Of Towing

Last week Jeline Guiles talked about how to plan a climbing trip. For a weekend, it’s no big deal. Strap pads to the roof of your Honda Accord or throw ’em in the back of the Subaru…a cooler for perishables and beer…sleeping bag. But for something of greater magnitude, like a week-, month-, or year-long trip, you’re going to need a more sustainable way of hauling yourself and your stuff, without having to pitch a tent every night.

So maybe you want to do a long, misguided-adventure-filled deal like us, or maybe you want a lifestyle like couple named Ken and Jobi whom we met at the Red River Gorge. They work for a few months, then jump in their van and hit the road for the rest of the year.

Either way, you might be considering a trailer. If you are, let me give you a quick taste of a beginning trailer driver. If you’re considering an RV, please reconsider. Please.

This is our rig. It’s pretty big: 30 foot trailer, and with truck and tongue we’re a combined 52 feet long. Note the slide on the side.

How Big and What Kind?

What’s your tow vehicle? You can pull with anything…Civics and U-hauls, for example. But if you want something you can live in, you’ll likely need something bigger. SUVs and pickups are your go-tos. Pickups will allow you to go with a 5th-wheel, which is advantageous for larger trailers as they reduce the overall length and improve maneuverability. On the other hand, 5th-wheels disallow you to have a camper shell, and reduce your storage for trips to/from the crag or into town.

Check out tent-trailers. They are cheaper, lighter, and compact. The downside is that they are basically a fancy tent on wheels, meaning that you’ll be more comfortable than in a regular tent, but not by much. If it’s cold outside, it’ll be cold inside. The other downside is they provide zero security. You could break in with a nail file.

Another possibility is to look at pop-up trailers. These are sort of an intermediate step. The next is a travel trailer, and they vary in size and amenities immensely. Go to a dealership and just take a look at some of the 35-foot monstrosities, with TV’s and bunk beds and dishwashers, if you want to see how the other half lives.

Our Pilgrim was big enough for three to live in comfortably, enough storage for camera equipment and cranes, and with space for folks to crash with us. It had a big slide in the living room, meaning that the wall slid out about 4 feet when parked and gave us much more floor space. Slides are highly recommended!

Considering a Trailer? Consider This…

Driving a trailer is not very fun. Your acceleration sucks and braking ain’t much better (although you’ll likely have an electronic brake control for your trailer which makes things better). Still, you won’t be breaking any speed records, or speed limits for that matter.

It’s awesome to have your bed in tow, but this can also be a curse. You can’t just pull over and park anywhere. Walmart allows trucks and trailers to park and spend the night (we’ve done so too many times to count), and rest areas are kosher too. Boondocking? Be careful. Neighbors can get nosy. We never had a problem the few times we had to park on the side of the road in the suburbs, but you can’t help but feel like a giant sore thumb.

Driving on the freeway is a mixture of boredom and terror. You’ll feel yourself drifting to the left inexplicably, and right when you notice that a semi truck whizzes by your ear. This is because the air pressure next to a big truck is lower than that on the other side of your trailer, so unless you’re carefully watching your mirrors (which you must!), you’ll suddenly get sucked in. It’s scary. A strong crosswind will have the same, equally undesired effect.

A broken planetary gearset. Yeah, I didn’t know what it was either.

Unlike normal long-haul driving, you can’t just set cruise control and forget about it. For one, you take up more space, and staying between lane lines is much harder. More importantly, setting cruise control is dangerous for your transmission. You might recall that we had to overhaul Bert’s. This, I later realized, is because I had cruise control set to 60. When the road goes slightly uphill, the truck is forced to upshift, and since cruise is set, it does so while revving. This is torture for a tranny. Instead, learn your car and its shifting habits, and when a hill comes, allow the vehicle to slow down a little. If you must upshift, like on a steeper hill, I suggest hitting the O/D OFF button to “manually” upshift with your foot off the accelerator.

Another downside fo a trailer is that you cannot just toot around town running errands. It’s like coming in from the mountains with your big REI 120 liter pack and trying to find a seat in a crowded movie theater. Backing up is quite a pain if you’re unaccustomed to the reverse steering one must employ. Getting gas is a chore, although you do feel in small ways like a kindred spirit with the truckers.

The trailer can end up being this cancerous thing which you wish you could just push into a lake…but when you pull into a rest stop at 1am, your glazed eyes barely able to focus on the dashboard, you thank the stars above and the fiery lake below that you have your very own bed to crawl into.

Feel free to ask anything, because it’s scary and we didn’t know what the hell we were getting ourselves into. If we don’t know the answer we know where to find it.

TNT: A Beginner’s Guide to Planning a Climbing Trip

Today’s post is from Climb On! Sister blog editor-in-chief and fellow Primo Chalk athlete, Jeline Guiles. As a bouldering dynamo and outdoor climbing aficionado, we thought Jeline could give us the lowdown on how to plan a successful climbing trip for all you outdoor virgins, or those who just need a refresher.

Here’s a video from her February trip to Red Rocks in Nevada to get you psyched on getting outside!

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So you’ve talked to some climbing buddies at the gym and are ready to plan your first climbing trip of the season (or first trip…ever), but don’t know where to get started?

Planning your first climbing trip can easily become a daunting task without the right resources. There are a lot of questions you need to ask yourself: what gear do I need to bring? Where do I stay during my trip? What will the weather be like? How will I get around the area without a guide? And the list goes on.

To make the planning process a little easier on you, I’ve created a mini-guide of things you should do/know in order to prepare yourself for your upcoming epic trip.

Jeline concentrating on her target.

The Climbing Area:

Before making a decision on what climbing area you want to travel to, make sure to do some research. Talk to the climbers at your gym about any crags they suggest checking out. You want to choose an area that caters to the type of climbing you’ll be doing and the grades you’re interested in climbing. Let’s face it, you don’t want to be trying 5.14d if you’re barely making it up a 5.7 route. Most areas will have a variety of problems/routes that should cater to all levels of climbing, but again, you’ll want to check into this.

Some great websites for looking into different routes/problems available at a climbing area are:

www.mountainproject.com

www.rockclimbing.com

www.supertopo.com

www.27crags.com

I also suggest going to your local library, bookstore, or REI (or outdoor retailer) and reading through climbing guidebooks of the area. Which brings me to my next tip…

Once you’ve decided on the place, buy a guidebook. Guidebooks will give you information on driving directions, hiking trails, locations of routes/problems, and give you some beta on how to complete the climb. There may be numerous guidebooks for one area, so make sure to research and read reviews on them before purchasing.

Read more…

RV Project Episode 6: Horse Pens 40 Bouldering

The new video is up! The first Horse Pens 40 Bouldering episode features some footage from our time in New Orleans, introduces the Schultz family and Kenny, and finishes with some gorgeous night climbing captured with the crane. We hope you like it, as it’s Vikki and I’s first stab at editing footage on our own. Let us know what you think, either here or on our Facebook page.

Problems in the film: Bum Boy, Centerpede, Millipede, Hammerhead, Orchid, Hercules

The RV Project spent the weekend in Bloomington, IN, the hometown of such RVP characters as the Byronian Yeti, Neal “1-Arm on Whateva” Sipahimalani, Matt “Gimp Stylez” Morse (who just sent Jesus Wept (.12d) with a bum ankle), Pat “Bionic” Lafree, and a whole lot of dogs.

Indeed, the Wolter household is open, friendly, and full of golden cheer. If you ever wondered why Grumpy Golden appears at the start of our vids, wonder no more:

This is Kona. She’s 2 years old, likes ear scratches, and is a happy golden doodle. You wish she was yours.

This is old man Bo. He mostly does this. Massage his paws and he’ll do anything for you as long as it doesn’t involve going very far.

Meet Bear. He is 2 years old, likes running, and competes doggedly for attention with the other two goldens.

Lynn, Byron, and Steve. Between the dogs and the people, not a single dark hair.

Vikki and I will be dropping the trailer off for repairs in Edinburgh, then cruising Eastward towards the New River Gorge, then Duke, DC, New Haven, and finally Boston for my little cousin’s college graduation. Bloomington is a fun little town, and we look forward to returning in a couple of weeks, after all of our social obligations have been fulfilled. We got the Rebel T3i and will bring you photos and such from the long drive. Cheers til next time!

Never Stop Trying Hard

Our time at the Red is winding down. Only two more days before we drive to Bloomington to visit Neal, Matt, Byron and the fam, and our new homie Patrick. We’ve been cranking hard on the HP40 videos, which will ultimately be two episodes. Episode one is looking awesome, and we are just waiting to get some solid internet to upload the beast (it’s kinda big…).

Editing video means chopping out A LOT of very good footage. As they say, a museum is only as good as the stuff that isn’t on the walls (to spell it out for you, you must curate). Here’s a quick clip that didn’t fit in the Horse Pens episodes but is good enough for publishing. It’s one of those magic moments that was luckily caught on film (thanks to Kenny). This won’t be on the next Dosage, but it remains one of my favorite clips that we’ve shot.

I wrote a bit last post about how trying hard is pretty much all I would ask of anyone out there climbing. This clip gets me as psyched to climb as any Dave Graham 5.15 FA in rural Switzerland.

How to Not Punt from ByronWolter on Vimeo.

The story behind the video is that we were there in the canyon with lanterns and a whole gaggle of Louisianians, including Hudson, Sawyer, Blair and Ryan Terrill, and several other folks. There was a noob who’s name I can’t recall, but who embodied the spirit of try-hard. It was his first time ever climbing outside, and I believe he was still in his first year or so of climbing. This video is not for gleaning beta or for learning technique, and it’s not glamorous scenery porn. This video is a show of grit and determination in the face of paralyzing fear and dizzying heights. My favorite part is when he says “I’m not taking” in response to Blair’s offer of a hand to safety. And he somehow avoids dabbing on the boulder to the right, which would’ve been an easy escape!

The RV Project salutes you!

TNT: For All Those Confused 20-Somethings

The reasons behind us three 20-somethings going on a road trip across the United States were complicated. We were uncertain about where our lives were headed and we felt suffocated by the constraints of city life. Our conclusion was to go on this road trip because what we did know was we wanted to climb as much as our bodies could handle, discover what the rest of the United States had to offer, and make a difference by being positive forces in the climbing community and beyond through the connections we made in person, or through our blog and videos.

After a little over 2 months of being on the road, we are having difficulty doing everything we wanted. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to write meaningful blog posts, make professional-grade videos, climb until our fingers falls off, meet all of the interesting people around us and then still watch an episode of the Sopranos at the end of it all. We realize the Sopranos are going to have to go (sorry, Tony) but we still feel that we need to reassess our priorities in order to make this trip as successful as it can be. We came on the road because we didn’t know where our lives were heading, but now we we’re not quite sure where this road trip is heading. We each have a lot of thinking to do…what exactly do we each want out of this?

February 15, 2012: the day we picked up Ernie, our trailer. Can’t believe it’s been less than 3 months since that date, feels like we’ve had enough experiences to cover a year!

We’ll get back to you on the conclusions we reach. But while we all mull that over, I wanted to bring up an article that all this internal anxiety reminded me of: What Is It About 20-somethings? from the NY Times Magazine.

This article assuaged my fears that I, along with a few others I had discussed my sentiments with, was alone. It showed me that what I was feeling was quite common and, apparently, a growing phenomenon in our culture.We have many friends asking the same questions, some that keep a public blog of how their search is going (Austin & Emily with Tacos A’Muerte, Steve & Angie with The Stangie Travelogue, Liberty & Max with Tents Are Hard and Blochead) and others who do not (Stephanie Kramer and Tzveta Petrov, just to mention a couple), either way they found traveling as the answer. (By the way, friends, if you have a chance – I would love comments about how your travel experiences have been and why you started your journey in the first place.)

As far as I can tell, this state of uncertainty knows no age limit. For me, this road trip, The RV Project, was the cure for my inner turmoil. Although travel might not be right solution for everyone (and obviously didn’t solve all of mine immediately) I know that it could be the right medicine for at least a few.

Unfortunately, going on a road trip does not just mean leaving your doorstep. Parting with the lives we had made in the Bay Area took a painstaking amount of preparation and a few stars aligning. For those of you who ever dream about going our way, but aren’t sure you can make it a reality, here are our top 5 hurtles that you need to be prepared to cross no matter where you want to go. The sooner you do these, the better.

Read more…

Yes, The Red Is As Good As They Say It Is

My injured top-rope tough gal on To Defy The Laws of Tradition (5.10a)

We have been at Miguel’s at the Red River Gorge for a little over two weeks now. The first thing that comes to mind is that the weather is a little bit like Tony Soprano’s behavior towards Anthony Jr.: totally unpredictable. It’s usually pretty warm, occasionally fair, but it can turn dark and stormy at the drop of a quickdraw. A hot, humid morning may turn into a breezy, cool afternoon. A chilly, dry morning might become a hot, muggy day. Quite often, the sky turns on the smackdown around 11pm, as bolts of lightning rip the clouds open and the rain threatens to drown the grass. Thankfully this is the sport of Sport Climbing, which requires much less by way of “good temps.” On top of that, most of the good lines are steep enough to stay dry during inclement weather.

Somebody tried hard on Buff the Wood (5.12b)

Poor Vikki has been nursing a hurt ribcage due to a fall that I made her take. Though her form was perfect, she ended up falling past a little roof and swinging in, hitting her side against the corner. She’s been climbing minimally, but has been maximally psyched. I gotta say, this girl doesn’t complain much and is really good about having the right attitude about things. If you can, find a travel companion like her.

Reading Tom Robbins and tending the rope.

The rhythm of Miguel’s in early May is interesting, reminiscent of the Hueco Rock Ranch in early March. As in Hueco, we’re a little bit late for the season, so while we don’t get prime conditions, we do get the prime sectors and standout routes all to ourselves. The weekends explode with activity, and moreso here than in Hueco due to the proximity of many major cities to the Red. By Monday, it calms down, and you’re free to explore everything that this incredible region has to offer.

We ran into our friend Shadow Ayala, who had come down from Bishop last week and is spending the summer working for Miguel and climbing here. If you have ever seen his videos over at Dead Point, you know he loves first ascents. In that spirit, we accompanied him to the Gallery a couple of days ago to check out the wall and help him put a bolt in on a new route he’s working on. The climb is way cool, a steep face with good 5.12 climbing leading to a mini-roof and a crux establishing on tiny crimps on a long brown ironrock face. I tried the moves; they’re fantastic through the beginning, and really hard in the middle. It’ll be much harder, probably a hard 5.13, once everything that’s going to break does. The rest of the day was spent on some of the classic moderates of the crag, including Gold Rush, a steep and pumpy (surprise!) 5.11d with a dynamic lunge at the top. Vikki, getting more comfortable on the sharp end, led 27 Years of Climbing, the Red’s best 5.8, and did a one-hang ascent of A Brief History of Climb, a 5.10c with huge moves. Watch out, Sasha DiGiulian…

Matt Morse taking a ride on Harvest (5.12d)

After last weekend, we were psyched to have Matt Morse back in the house for this weekend. We had both given good attempts on Harvest, a phenomenal .12d at the Motherlode, and wanted to get back on it. He came down with some other Bloomingtonians, including Patrick Lafree, another psyched young sport climber who came out with us.

Patrick buffing his wood

We got a somewhat late start since it had rained hard from midnight until about 9am on Saturday morning. We weren’t expecting much, but set off for the Lode anyway. Even though it was a weekend, there were very few people there due to a couple of factors. One is the road, which turns very soupy after lots of rain (but nothing Bert can’t handle with a smirk). The other, bigger factor is that Dario Ventura, the son of Miguel and owner of the land that the Motherlode sits on, was getting married on top of the ‘Lode that day. Thankfully for both climbing and wedding parties, the weather not only cleared up, but stayed cool and mild all afternoon. Sometimes unpredictability works in your favor, I guess.

We warmed up on Injured Reserve, and Patrick gave Buff the Wood (.12b) a few good burns. Then it was time for Harvest. I tied in and cursed my decision to wear shorts, as there are two kneebars that help you recover. I did the opening boulder problem and got to the first kneebar, feeling strong. I nearly pumped off the next section but held it together long enough to get to the second kneebar, which I couldn’t use due to sharp rock and bare skin. Thankfully the jug is good enough to obviate the need for knee-funk, and after resting a good long while I launched into the final sprint for the chains. I got insanely pumped, but managed to keep it together long enough to get the rope into the biner at the top. This climb, with its unique rib feature and stellar movement, comes highly recommended by me, so go do it if you know what’s good for you.

The spice of the route, like many in the area, is that the distance between the last bolt and the chains is abnormally large, like 17 feet or so, and what’s more is the top is where the holds get small. When projecting things near your limit at the Motherlode, be prepared to take a few rides. Thankfully, it’s one of those fall-into-space things, and all you can do is enjoy the swing and try not to grab the rope. I’m still working on the latter.

Did someone say spice? Behold: The breakfast of stonecrushers

Matt shoed up next and made it look easy through the bottom, but pumped out midway up. He worked the moves some, and then lowered off and untied. On the way back to the other end of the cliff where Buff the Wood stands, we hear an extremely loud thump followed by a bone-chilling string of curse words, uttered by someone not just in pain, but panicked. Matt had turned his ankle on a rock, had heard it pop, and was on his hands and knees in pain. We rushed back to help, but there wasn’t much to do.

Matt is a champ. Not only did he insist on staying out for the day so we could continue climbing, but he was positive the whole time (possibly assisted by the painkillers I had given him). He grabbed a stick and hopped his way up the rocky trail, a distance of several hundred yards, back to Buff the Wood. We spent the rest of the afternoon there, Patrick projected and I checked out the moves on an awesome .12c called Heart-Shaped Box. (On a side note, I find that whenever I try a climb named after a song, I can’t stop repeating the song in my head as I climb.)

Matt’s ankle post-twist.

After climbing, we headed back to the beer trailer and then to Rockhouse Café for grub. I had a BBQ pork burger, which is a cheeseburger with pulled pork on top of it. I don’t know if I’ll ever eat a burger without pulled pork again. It was a near-religious experience.

A lovely little newt at the Motherlode…yeah, it’s atmospherically moist.

It was an awesome day, and on top of all that we could hear the celebrations and the bluegrass music of the wedding taking place above us, though we never saw it. It lent a festive atmosphere to a lovely day in the woods. The only bummers of the day were Matt’s ankle and Vikki’s inability to climb. Oh, and a particular person hangdogging in the Madness cave.

She was a boulderer, and was screaming at her belayer that she hates “this endurance shit” and never should’ve tried the route and this isn’t her thing. The belayer patiently encouraged her to keep trying, and the climber kept throwing tantrums. It should be noted that the Madness cave has a tendency to amplify sound, meaning we had front row seats despite being 8 routes to the right. Having been to many climbing areas and observed many climbers, I can say that the only thing that bugs me about this typically chill and friendly community is when people don’t try hard and make excuses instead. I don’t care if you send, just don’t complain about it. A bad day of climbing is better than not being outside by a gorgeous cliff. I gain motivation from someone like Matt, who long ago mastered the fear of falling, and who never lets go. Last weekend he said he was feeling weak because he was battling MRSA and was on antibiotics. He still tried his project relentlessly.

I find myself awkwardly averting my eyes when people just quit, when they complain about routes not being their style, complain about their skin, or throw a fit when they fall. It’s just climbing. Even the pros don’t get rich doing this. Since we’re out pursuing our own passions instead of volunteering our time to help others, the least we can do is have a positive impact on those around us while we dance around on rocks like the misfits we are.

So now it’s Monday, and things have calmed down again. Also, so far this Monday is a lot better than the last one!. We’re leaving the Red on Friday to visit Bloomington, and then Vikki and I drive off into the sunrise (a clever way of saying east?). We’ll be stopping by the New River Gorge on the way to see some friends at Duke, and then up to New England for a couple of college graduations, my cousin Alec’s and my brother Eliot’s. We’ll be documenting things with our brand new Rebel T3i, so never fear, the RV Project will live on through this brief climbing break!

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