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Archive for the category “Bouldering”

Local Zones 101: Zahnd

Niko looks at the ultra-classic V8 Harvest Moon. This problem is worth the drive itself.

Niko looks at the ultra-classic V8 Harvest Moon. This problem is worth the drive itself.

Zahnd is an area that we had heard of in passing. Normally, when one hears of a place with boulders (assuming that person enjoys climbing on them), it causes an immediate increase in blood pressure. However, when Zahnd was first mentioned, it was during our first week in Chattanooga, and we’d already left projects behind in five other nearby zones. Adding to our list of places to check out didn’t seem like a high priority at the time.

A few days later, we were taking a rest day at Mean Mug Coffeehouse when I overheard the barista say “Zahnd.” Niko and I immediately went up to the register and got the lowdown from a very psyched Sam. That weekend, Niko and I decided to hike around Zahnd and see what all the fuss was about. I’m glad we did.

Read more…

The Highball Video is Here

The crew at No Excuse for Porn Hair

The crew at No Excuse for Porn Hair

Recently I talked about our summer fun in Squamish, and hinted at a Highball Day video. Well, here it is, as promised!  Read more…

My Ache-y Breaky Ass

Walker Kearny climbing some amazing holds that probably won't break. The Brain, V6(?)

Walker Kearny climbing some amazing holds that probably won’t break. The Brain, V6(?)

Eleven months and seven days ago I did something unwise that prevented me from doing what I left “default” life to do. Life in a boot meant time for reflection, and it was fairly easy to assess what went wrong on Saigon Direct that put me on crutches for 6 weeks.

Yesterday I did something that is preventing me from taking advantage of the best conditions we’ve had since we arrived in the south. In fact, the weather is just getting more and more sendy as the days go by, but I’m worried that I won’t be climbing anything for a while.

On Tuesday, Vikki, Niko, Katie, Walker, Hammie, Greg and I all went to the Apartment Boulders so that Niko and I could finish up a cool little compression problem that we’d tried a few days before. Walker was just in town from Sweden, and we hadn’t climbed together in about 6 years. Greg is just another local crusher, the kind you hate because they’re stronger than you and (seemingly) care about half as much. I was psyched. It was cold, the compression thing was going down for sure, and then there was the gorgeous creekside boulder that we were going to finally bring enough pads to try. Read more…

Squamish Wrap-Up and Videos

Another crappy problem in Squamish...

Another crappy problem in Squamish…

Yes, it’s November, and we’re still talking Squamish. I guess we liked the place. [Click “Read More” and scroll to the videos if you want to skip the ramblin’.]

It’s been about six weeks since we uprooted the trailer and left the forest nymphs in our wake, with Bert’s steely grille pointed at the rising sun. A junk-food-fueled drive across three time zones brought us, via the homes of many generous friends, to Boone, NC and now Chattanooga, TN. I’ve got a whole post about the South upcoming, but this is a retrospective. Read more…

Getting Thunderballed, and What To Do About It

"Anyone can cut and run, but it takes a very special person to stay with something that is stupid and harmful." - George Carlin

“Anyone can cut and run, but it takes a very special person to stay with something that is stupid and harmful.” – George Carlin

Bouldering at one’s limit involves suspension of disbelief. At first the holds seem unmanageable, the sequence too cryptic, the moves too big. With enough hubris, confidence, or simple hard work, the climb begins to open up. Suddenly, one has completed a brand new set of moves. One has proven oneself equal to the challenge provided by nature and a first ascentionist. One has earned another tick in the guidebook.

Great climbing literature is based on this titanic struggle of human flesh upon unfeeling, unflinching stone. In The Boulder: A Philosophy for Bouldering, Francis Sanzano correctly states that

…one can learn all one needs to know about another by watching them boulder. We can discern if they are a fighter, if they make good decisions, if they are good under pressure…as if the skirt of consciousness has been lifted and they remain in the act, struggling like death before us.

Boulders are the canvases upon which we may paint moments of greatness. But that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about the opposite. I want to talk about what happens when an easy-looking boulder problem turns you around, yanks your pants down to your knees, and spanks you…or as I like to call it, “getting Thunderballed.” Read more…

How to Climb in Squamish

Marissa Land proving that meat wraps aren't just for dudes.

Marissa Land proving that meat wraps aren’t just for dudes.

When people come to Squamish for summer bouldering (and many, many people do), they often get bouted by climbs that, numerically speaking, are well within their abilities. I experienced it, and I think most people have the same feeling to some extent or another. People blame poor feet, cryptic granite, painful crystals, and humid conditions, but the real story here is that the climbing in Squamish is Yosemite-style technical, and quite varied; it requires a break-in period of several sessions. Read more…

29 Celebrations

[vimeo 70693850 w=700 h=394]

On July 15, I turned 29. I normally do a Birthday Challenge on these occasions, of varying levels of involvement (click to read about years 24 and 26). This year I wasn’t sure what Squamish would be like, and I procrastinated mightily in the planning. But after a few days enjoying the boulders in the magical forest, it seemed that nothing could be better than trying to do 29 of the “Top 100” boulder problems the guidebook has to offer.

Full disclosure: apparently these are the "Top 100 plus", meaning plus the best highballs.

Full disclosure: apparently these are the “Top 100 plus”, meaning plus the best highballs.

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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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Midnight Enlightening

If you haven’t heard by now, a friend by the name of James took the drastic step of erasing the lightning bolt on Midnight Lightning. As you can imagine, this caused quite the stir. Facebook comment strings, Reddit threads, and of course the comments on James’ blog post (not to mention on his Facebook wall) indicated, for the most part, that people disagree with what he did. Some were vehement, some were articulate and well-reasoned, and some settled for pithy insults.

After a day to marinate on the event and fallout, I’d like to jot down my thoughts before they are lost, swept away by time like the chalk was brushed away from the Columbia Boulder.

Upon first reading the post, I felt ambivalent towards the action itself. I did feel admiration for someone who would dare to remove such an icon and then claim responsibility. I felt there must have been some strong justification for it, even if it was not well articulated in the blog post. I also enjoyed the photo of Nik Berry climbing ML, but with the caption “Nik Berry on an unknown problem.” James is a witty writer and I’ve always enjoyed his blog.

I want to point out, for those unaware, that James has some cred in the valley. He’s not a nobody, he’s not a misguided gym rat. He earned a Valley nickname and has established big wall routes. I respect the hell out of his climbing life.

Perhaps it was this respect that kept me from immediately and angrily denouncing him on the internet, as so many who don’t know him (and some who do) have. I wanted to understand his motivation.

Left: John Bachar climbs the Lightning. On the right, the naked Columbia Boulder. Photos from jameslucas.blogspot.com

Left: John Bachar climbs the Lightning. On the right, the naked Columbia Boulder. Photos from jameslucas.blogspot.com

Upon further reflection, it seemed as though there was little justification for erasing the bolt. In his blog, James presented the history of the climb and the names of the early ascentionists, then made a brief attempt to convince the reader that the mark had lost its magic because people climb it all the time. It seemed to me that James was more bitter than anything, perhaps jaded from seeing so many climbers in Yosemite.

Justin Alarcon wrote a great defense of the lightning bolt in the comments on James’ blog that I recommend reading. A highlight is this: “Has ‘the chalk transformed into a trademark, another tourist attraction for passing climbers’? Yeah, maybe a little bit, but unless you’re really jaded by the whole climbing scene or caught up trying to be cool in Camp 4 the ‘Bolt’ still has a lot of magic left in it.”

The discussion is an interesting one, but it should have been had before one person decided that they would attempt to delete 30 years of history from the most iconic boulder problem in the world (I say attempt, as the bolt has since been redrawn). The last line of his blog post is “Does climbing need these trademarks?” This is a great question, and it should’ve been asked before the bolt was erased.

I am particularly dismayed by the dismissive attitude some have taken to this incident and the subsequent fallout. I’ve read more than a few comments along the lines of “there are more important things to worry about.” My response to this is, sure, it’s not a big deal. We climb rocks. First world problems. But if we already acknowledge that climbing, though a trivial pursuit in the grand scheme of “bigger things to get pissed about,” is what is important to us, then we all are definitely allowed to hold these symbols sacred.

I suppose it’s kind of a funny dichotomy we climbers exhibit. We trivialize and belittle our own activity even as we design our whole lives around it.

I do not think James deserves some of the hatred directed at him. Armchair critics spit venom and haters gonna hate, but the unavoidable fact is that he sparked a conversation and forced a lot of climbers to deeply examine the aforementioned issues: what climbing means to them, the power of  symbols, and for those who are fortunate enough to have visited to Yosemite, the significance of Midnight Lightning and the history of the Valley.

The Bolt still exists. In fact, the bolt has likely been erased and redrawn many times. From this perspective, no harm no foul. In the end, I think this has been a net benefit for the climbing community. When threatened with the loss of an important piece of history, we snapped out of Ondra-Onsight worship, of gym-climber bashing and making fun of retail store mannequins, and we all had a relatively civil conversation about what a simple chalk drawing meant to us. Only the imminent closure of a popular crag can crystallize us, an otherwise often apathetic group, in such a manner. If nothing else, it is heartening to see others reflecting on the meaning of the bolt.

Maybe, instead of thinking of James as a selfish asshole or a pretentious prick (others’ words, not mine), it would help us all to think of James as having martyred himself for the sake of lighting a fire under our collective asses. For the fact is, the deed was done. Now what are we going to do about it?

Settling Joe’s

Spenser and I have been in a back-and-forth injury competition for months. I guess I have the heads up right now, though this is one competition I want both of us to lose. Currently, Spenser is back in action and gaining strength back rapidly. His progress has been raising my spirits and giving me something to look forward to when my pulley injury fully heals.

Spenser cruising Vendetta.

Spenser cruising Vendetta.

It’s been exactly two weeks since the pop and my finger is feeling much better, although not close to 100% yet. I just received my Acupressure Massage Rings in the mail yesterday, so I’m hoping a daily rub-down with these babies will speed up the healing process. If you are a climber (or someone who works with their hands frequently), these rings are a must! The rings range from giving you gentle to greater pressure, depending on your needs and finger size. I ended up buying a pack of 3 from Amazon since I wasn’t sure what I would prefer (I think I like them all, depending on my mood for massage). From my research, it seems like you can use them as frequently as you would like to increase circulation while breaking up scar tissue. You won’t believe how good your tired fingers will feel…

Trio of rings. Gold provides the most relaxed massage, while Black is the most tightest & most intense.

Trio of rings. Gold provides the most relaxed massage, while Black is the most intense. They can also be worn as a fashion statement.

Me playing around with the new macro lens on my Android phone.

Me playing around with the new macro lens on my phone.

I tried climbing for the first time a couple days ago. Sadly, my finger is not ready to hold onto anything except for a sloper (no jugs, no crimps, no flat edges). I taped my finger for support while climbing and it was throbbing when I took the tape off afterwards. I decided to take a couple days off again and will try to climb this evening. Just saw the problem Electric Fence for the first time last night and I can’t wait to go back and try it – all left hand slopers! Time to retrain my fingers (and mind) to enjoy open-handed holds! ::Wish me luck::

Other than my finger, life in Joe’s is really good. We’ve settled in with an amazing semi-permanent crew and have had a multitude of friends coming in and out over the past couple weeks to distract me from not climbing. Last night, we wrapped filming for our newest video project with Flannery Shay-Nemirow and Shannon Joslin. I won’t say much about it yet, except that I’ve posted a couple screenshots on Instragram and there will be more to come (#fivetenvslasportiva)! Also, the video was a blast to shoot – the ladies were just plain fun to work with. Yep, are now on Instragram, username thervproject. I’m trying hard to keep up with all the social media (a HUGE thanks to Katie from The Morning Fresh for being my social media mentor)!

Meagan on Worst Case Scenario.

Meagan Martin on Worst Case Scenario.

Flannery Shay-Nemirow sizing up Trent's Mom.

Flannery Shay-Nemirow sizing up Trent’s Mom.

Katie Peters crimping down.

Kati Peters reaching out to the crimps on Worst Case with Alex Johnson spotting (why does she look so terrified?!)

Philia, Shannon's dog, waiting patiently for us to wrap up filming.

Philia, Shannon’s dog, waiting patiently for us to wrap up filming.

28-inch pizza. 'Nuff said. Oh, and nice photobomb, Spenser.

28-inch pizza. ‘Nuff said. Oh, and nice photobomb, Spenser.

I’ve also started a yoga challenge for myself. Yoga everyday for 30 days. I’m been feeling crappy since I can’t climb, so this is my solution. I know that if I don’t create a challenge for myself, I won’t actually do yoga as frequently as I need to. Today was day #5! Only 25 to go… I’ve also just recruited Adriana Chimaras, a friend we met in Bishop this winter, to join in! It’s much nicer having someone there huffing and puffing next to you.

Adriana and her boyfriend, Steven Jeffrey, are in Joe’s Valley for the next foreseeable future working on a new bouldering guide for the area (YES YES YES YES!!!). They are not only writing the book, but also creating and fixing up trails while opening communication with the locals here so that we can keep Joe’s Valley open forever and improve amenities in the area. I can attest to all the work they have been putting it, it’s been a full time job for them and I am incredibly impressed with how seriously they are taking it. The current Joe’s guide gets you to the boulders, but is a disappointment in almost every other aspect. This new guide will not disappoint! Cannot wait– look out for it this Fall, if everything goes as planned. 🙂

Last Saturday, Spenser, Katie, Niko and I joined Steven and Adriana for the Orangeville City Cleanup. The positive response we received from the locals for participating put a huge smile on all our faces. They sent us home with hand-made Prairie Diamonds [see pics below] and more homemade food than we could eat! I would say the most memorable moment for me was when we arrived in the morning: I asked a local volunteer what the plan was and her response was, “What! You’re here to help?!” The shock was worth waking up at 7am for, no doubt. This also gave us the opportunity (especially for Steven and Adriana) to speak to a couple city council members about the upcoming guidebook. Hopefully this will give us climbers a bit of an “in” with the local community!

The Sprinter you can't miss, helping hold our clean-up tools.

The Sprinter you can’t miss, helping to hold work tools.

The boys helping get mess of the road.

Steven and Spenser helping to scoop dirt out of the road.

Our reward for helping.

Our reward for helping. Prairie Diamonds for all!

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I’ll be in Phoenix this weekend and it looks like Spenser might be joining Katie & Niko at Indian Creek during that time. While I celebrate with a college friend’s graduation from medical school, Spenser will be climbing cracks. There has to a joke in there somewhere…

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