The RV Project

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Archive for the month “June, 2013”

New Bouldering in the Bay??

The Dogpatch!

The Dogpatch!

We love going to popular climbing destinations, but we also love to explore new areas. That’s why I was really psyched to return to the Bay Area and hear about a new crag called Dogpatch. I’ve already checked out most of the climbing that the Bay has to offer, so getting an opportunity to take a look at a new area was too sweet to pass up.

We got some directions from our friend and local climber Lauryn Claassen and headed over to San Francisco. Our other good friend Jeremy Ho, who also makes frequent RV Project appearances, was there to meet us.

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You Can’t Go Home Again

Firstly, sorry for the dearth of climbing updates. We’ve been in the Bay Area now for two weeks, and haven’t touched rock in that time. I’ve been focused on the newest video project, which will hopefully be completed in the next two weeks (I say that, but when has an estimate like that ever been accurate??). I’m also trying my hardest to get strong in the gym. Vikki is still nursing her poor finger, which as of now is still swollen. She hasn’t begun climbing again yet, but will be hopefully working her way back into it before the end of the month.

Running a lap on Heavy Traffic, one of my alltime favorites.

Running a lap on Heavy Traffic, one of my alltime favorites.

Briefly, I’d like to wrap up Santa Barbara, and mention that anyone in California looking for a climbing weekend could do a lot worse than heading to this sandstone paradise. When we were college students (I graduated in 2007), it was our beloved chosspile, and places like Bishop were meccas. Now, I see Santa Barbara as my climbing “home,” where I first experienced “pump” and “flappers” and broken holds. I climbed my first V1-8 there.

The place has changed, though, and I might argue for the better. The first and foremost change is the introduction of a real climbing gym, the Santa Barbara Rock Gym. It’s in the heart of SB, right on State Street, and it finally provides a community space for climbers. Before, we had some poor excuses for climbing walls: The UCSB rec center, Goleta Valley Athletic Club’s outdoor wall, and a smattering of exclusive woodies. The disparate climbing venues actually promoted the formation of insular cliques. Information was hard to come by. But we also didn’t really know any better.

Now, it’s easy to rub shoulders with the guys who are going out and developing new areas. You can walk in to the SB Rock Gym and get the beta for any area, and any new climbs that haven’t even been added to Mountain Project yet. And there is still some fine rock to find! For example, Tyler took me out to Potter’s Point, where I had never been. There are some amazing lines there, both boulder and sport, on some of the better rock I’ve seen in the area. I apologize, but I have no photos. That said, the video below shows a handful of great SB climbs, and the first one, Debra, is found at Potter’s.

I’m pretty psyched with how Santa Barbara’s climbing community is shaping up. Easy access, scenic vistas, good weather year-round, great Mexican food, and nearby surfing make SB a great place to visit, and a great place to live. Also, Ocean’s 11 is my favorite guidebook of all time. If you go, let me know and I can put you in touch with the proper folks.

So Santa Barbara has changed in the last 6 years, and it always will. Wildfires are common; they reshape trails and the temporary barrenness allows for new discovery. Holds break and the climbs change. Areas get discovered and forgotten about. But the magic of an oceanside paradise remains. Santa Barbara is an amazing place, and one that I’ll always think of, in some small way, as home.

Not the best photo, but you get the idea. Sunsets at the boulders are nearly always spectacular.

Not the best photo, but you get the idea. Sunsets at the boulders are nearly always spectacular.

Doing the Impossible

RTG killin' it with the photogs

RTG killin’ it with the photogs

A couple of weeks ago I did the impossible. I sat down at the bottom of the Trojan Arete, pulled on, got to the top, and walked off the back.

You may not have heard of this climb. It’s a V8 (or 5.13b, according to Ocean’s 11, the best bouldering guidebook ever written). It’s at the Painted Cave area in Santa Barbara, which consists of two boulders straddling a windy road. The problem in question was created in part by demolition equipment widening the road so that trucks could pass. The landing is AKA a road, and the pads must be moved when a car drives through.

All this is to say that the climb is not 5 stars. It doesn’t suck, that’s for sure. But it’s not High Plains DrifterEasy in an Easy ChairSee Spot RunSpeed of Life, or another boulder problem good enough that you’d heard of it before you visited. It is, however, one of the harder and prouder problems in Santa Barbara, and therefore it was on my bucket list.

I began my climbing life in Santa Barbara, and Painted Cave is an obvious bouldering spot because of its accessibility. The Trojan Arete was one of those climbs that we looked at and figured we might one day be qualified to try. Still, that day seemed forever away. We worked Heavy Traffic (V3) instead.

One day, a few years ago, Daniel Kovner and I were there while our local legend Bernd Zeugswetter calmly ran a lap on the climb. I think we were able to do a combined total of three of the moves. The top didn’t look easy, either, and I put my own send of Trojan Arete even further into the future, somewhere between “yeah right” and “never.”

When we stopped in Santa Barbara this time around, I called up my buddy R Tyler Gross. He came out to Bishop when Daniel Woods was trying Lucid Dreaming, and is one of the finer photographers I’ve encountered. Our first day in SB, he came up with us to Painted Cave and we worked the bottom section of Trojan Arete. I was able to do the bottom half reasonably solidly, but the top was too daunting. Tyler was able to do a few of the moves for the first time. He’ll send it if he decides to project it (wink wink, buddy).

I was feeling a little scared by the climb, but a few days later I wanted to try it again. Tyler met me again and this time set up his flash and camera. I got on a rope, cleaned the top, felt the holds, and figured out a key piece of beta. I took one practice effort to dial in the bottom section, then took my shoes off and prepared for a serious send go.

The climb itself is amazing. It has an obvious sit-start that leads immediately into 6 powerful yet subtle arete moves, right-left-right-left. At about the height where you want to be done climbing, you have to flip from hard, powerful movements to delicate, balancy climbing for another ten feet. The holds on this final section get better and better, thankfully, and the top out is what Isaac Caldiero might call an “easy mantle.” The hardest part might be avoiding grabbing the bolt at the summit.

After setting up all the pads that we have, I pulled on and executed every move perfectly. Several shouts of celebration ensued. Serendipitously, not a single car came by while I climbed the problem. Here’s what it looked like:

Click here to go to a writeup on R Tyler Gross’ blog, including a video of the send from another angle.

We’ve all got these climbs. It doesn’t matter when you started climbing, or where, or with whom. It doesn’t matter if you started in the gym or outside, aid climbing or bouldering, or if your cruxes are mental or physical. The first few times you ever go climbing, you probably sucked and more importantly, you felt like you sucked. Now, you probably warm up on routes that, to you, seemed impossible not too long ago.

There’s that “impossible” word again. I would say that the best moments in climbing are when we flip the script. And as long as you push yourself just a little bit, then the impossible of yesterday becomes the very very possible of today. This incredibly simple concept is reason enough to keep climbing. It’s also, clearly, a lesson with far-reaching implications. The best way to travel 1000 miles is one step at a time. I applaud whatever shoe company began using the slogan “Impossible is Nothing.” Conversely, nothing is impossible. Except faster-than-light travel. And Blue Suede Shoes.

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