Emergency Bouldering

By | Climbing | No Comments

The line to get into Hueco Tanks’ self-guided area was a long one today. Actually, it still is. As I write these words into a notebook (for later transcription), the afternoon drags on, and despite the 35 mph wind gusts, not many folk seem to be leaving the park. So here we sit, myself and 5 other cars. Vikki is in Arizona, shooting a cycling race as a hired gun. So, somewhat sbsurdly, I sit alone in the cab of a big red truck, hoping to get a few climbs in before the gate closes at 6pm. I was hoping the wait wouldn’t be too bad today. The Rock Rodeo is tomorrow, and I’m not expecting to climb because I’m a volunteer photographer. The idea was that folks would be resting today for the competition tomorrow. I guess lots of other people had that idea. To make things extra absurd, the President is trying to tell me there’s a national emergency here in Borderland. Having been in and around El Paso since early December, I can report having had friendly conversations with locals at grocery stores, auto care centers, and the YMCA. As far as I can tell, I’ve had no contact with any invaders, drugs, caravans, or sneaky middle eastern terrorists. Politicians, generically speaking, are lambasted for changing a position. John Kerry flip flopped, and it cost him a very important election. We ought to be unsurprised, then, that a far-from-trivial number of Americans are proud that this President…

Read More

My Friends Were Violently Assaulted by Illegal Drugs and All I Got Was Free Entry Into a National Park

By | Climbing | No Comments

…which helps zero, because A) we already have an annual pass, and B) Hueco Tanks is a Texas State Park. So here we are, just closing out our first full month here at the border crisis Hueco Tanks. Equally famous for bouldering (the art of movement, the “poetry of mountaineering”) and pictographs (the art of the ancient and less-ancient cultures that passed through this place), Hueco Tanks State Historic Park packs a lifetime’s worth of both into a wee little postage stamp section of map roughly a square mile in size. The climbing is unforgiving. If the hold isn’t sharp, it’s slick. If you have glaring holes in your climbing, the boulder problems in Hueco Tanks will expose them. I fucking love this place. More than 6 years have elapsed since our only previous trip here, which was also the very first stop on The RV Project’s Magical Mystery Tour. Virtually everything interesting that’s happened to us since then has stemmed in some way from those three weeks back in Spring 2012. We can trace a lot of our close climbing connections to people we met at the Rock Ranch and in the park. And just like last time, Dan Kovner came for a visit and climbed some famous things with big numbers, only this time the numbers got bigger. Beyond fond memories, our first time in Hueco gave us a few little jumpstarts. We met, for example, a crew of Colorado crack climbing enthusiasts, made a video with them,…

Read More

The Past, Present, and Future of Joe’s Valley and its Bouldering Festival: From the Mouth of Steven Jeffery

By | Bouldering, Climbing, Stuff We're Psyched On, Trip Journal | 2 Comments

Politics. It’s just a word, but these days it’s not a word that is positively associated. Politics have never been pretty, but the 2016 campaign season felt especially traumatic for our country, and no matter how you feel about the outcomes, I think it’s fair to say that the ends (putting a candidate in an office, also known as winning) did not justify the means (amplifying divisions). The seeds of polarization were sown a long, long time ago, but 2016 was when a storm of perverted incentives caused our divisions to shoot skyward and blot out the light. So we reaped.  America the Colosseum, Blue Donkeys vs. Red Elephants, winner take all. No Purple Allowed. One could imagine congressional leaders announcing that “It has become necessary to destroy the US in order to save it.” Polite disagreement and nuanced reasoning were unfashionable. Like stepping into a very loud tavern, my friends and I agreed that sobriety was of no use. If we were going to keep our heads, when all about us were losing theirs, we would need strong drink. A lot of it. A bender, if you will. I do loudly and un-proudly declare that, like many in my cohort, the daily outrages produced and perpetuated by pundits and president alike provided easy excuses for apoplectic paralysis. Hence the aforementioned bender (which, I should mention, is more hyperbolic than alcoholic…don’t try to make me go to rehab. No, no, no!). What to do, then? I’m still drinking (for health…

Read More

Vote, And I’ll Give You Boulders

By | Ethics, Food for thought, Musings | No Comments

We voted, y’all. If you send me proof that you’ve voted, I will tell you where these boulders are. Seriously. Hit us up @thervproject. November 6th. Extra boulders for you if you can drag a millennial to the polls with you. I spent 90 minutes with my 6 different ballots, reading Balletopedia and Bay Area newspaper op-eds to try to figure out if Yes or No or she or he will improve life for the majority of people I care about. There were some tricky choices. Candidates with similar positions, bills with names that sound like things I like but with provisions that I don’t like, that kind of thing. All in all, though, it was pretty damn painless. I voted in California. I’m a bit jealous of people who have an opportunity to cast a vote against, say, Ted Cruz, or Ron De Santis, or extremely-thinly-veiled-white-nationalist Steve King, or another one of these pathetic, ugly-souled power-suckers with the moral compass of a rabid possum. My most satisfying vote had to do with getting rid of the twice-yearly time shift known as Daylight Savings. It’s not that I want the Democrats to win. I do, but only incidentally. What I’m really hoping for, what we should all hope for, is a strong statement by the American People that we reject the shittiness of the past 2 years. That we stand by the free press, by the minority groups, by the victims of domestic terror. That we give a shit about…

Read More

4th Annual Joe’s Valley Bouldering Festival This Weekend

By | Bouldering, Climbing, Stuff We're Psyched On | No Comments

Last time we checked in with our heroes, they were living in Wild Iris and reminiscing about the time Spenser gained +10 Wisdom Points from a sage, dapper restroom attendant. If you missed it, the lesson was that It Pays To Pay Attention. He also managed to flop his way up a new boulder problem that he called The Dawghouse. Here is a video: Nowadays our heroes (that’s us) are located at Joe’s Valley. It’s early in the season and things are generally pretty quiet, though we are not the only climbers around, not by a long shot. But we’re not just here to chuck laps on sick moderates. We are here to get everything ready for: This year’s kind of a big year, because it will be featured in the next Reel Rock Film Tour. More on that below. Right now we’re putting the finishing touches on the premiere bouldering festival in the western US. Now, on one hand, it should be easy. This is Adriana, Amanda, and Vikki’s 4th go-round with putting on this Fest. We have 3 successful years under our belts, with the JVBF doubling in ticket sales each year. We now have 501(c)3 status. We have sponsors that have been with us since the beginning (Organic and Momentum deserve a special mention here, along with the Emery County Travel Bureau, Emery Telcom, and Rhino Mine). And most importantly, we have the advocacy of Castle Dale’s civic leadership, especially that of mayor Danny Van Wagoner. On the…

Read More

It Pays to Pay Attention

By | Adventure, Food for thought, Musings | One Comment

Wisdom is everywhere, and what we know is exactly what keeps us from being wise. Ain’t that a paradox! If the goal of learning is knowledge, then how can knowledge prevent us from learning?  I don’t know, but here’s a story. I certify that the events contained herein are true and factual, to the best of my recollection. Although, frankly, one should never let the truth get in the way of a good story. The year was 2011, the address was 1015 Folsom in San Francisco, and the time was approaching midnight. Several folk, myself included, had organized a camp for Burning Man called Camp UP, which included a rather large bouldering wall, and we were caught in the grips of a multi-splendored culture of psychic exploration (read that as you wish). Most of the core group of Camp UP was selflessly partying in the name of raising funds for another Burning Man camp, Opulent Temple. Most nightclub veterans know the importance of staying hydrated, particularly on a hot summer’s night. The hard part can be choosing between dancing and the procurement of the necessary element of water. Savvy partiers that we were, Zack and I had gotten plastic water bottles from the bar earlier in the evening, which of course could be filled from the taps in the restrooms. A brief note on nightclub restroom attendants: They’re almost always there, they’re almost always polite but irritating at the beginning of the night, and they’re almost always among your favorite people…

Read More

Acknowledgement…of Rad and Bad

By | Musings, Trip Journal | No Comments

The truck wouldn’t start the other day. I needed to go into town to run errands before picking Vikki up from Riverton. It finally started after a half-hour of coaxing and cursing. The thing about living on the road that you have to watch out for, is that your vehicle is your life. Since we opted for the truck-trailer combo, we do have a little bit of separation, but the truck is still pretty frickin’ important. Thankfully, Bert’s been a rather reliable bloke, and, 6.5 years after the fact, I still marvel at our luck in finding a 7.3l International Powerstroke engine in such good condition. So do most of the mechanics we’ve taken it to. Thing about diesels is, they’ll give you no trouble if you keep them happy, but they do need a little more preventative maintenance than, for example, my old Honda Accord. Diesel engines need to be warmed up before they work properly, so when starting up, there’s a whole system of electronics that heats the engine cylinders before the starter gets them pumping. The glow plugs, as they’re called, aren’t necessary when it’s hot out, but the truck won’t start without them in winter, as Vikki once discovered on a frigid morning in Rocktown, GA. Anyway, the truck had a bad glow plug relay, which is the part that controls the flow of electricity to the plugs themselves. It’s been bad for a while (by the way, I recommend everyone get one of those little…

Read More

Blog Renewal

By | Food for thought, Musings, Stuff We're Psyched On | No Comments

I want to take it back to the old school. Now, this ain’t a paean about the good ol’ days when men were what society said they were and women were their service animals. I’m not calling for some rose-tinted return to a legendary epoch of “grit and toughness” that never existed. I’m thinking only in terms of social media. When I say old school, I’m talking about a handful of years ago, when 8a’s website only a outdated by a decade or so, and the “#” symbol was still just a tic tac toe board. I want to revisit the blogging era. Before Instagram existed, we followed climbers’ blogs. My RSS feed included the blogs of Jimmy Webb, Alex Johnson, Paul Robinson, Woods Family Climbs (yes that Woods), Ethan Pringle, Dave Graham, James Lucas, Angie Payne, and Nalle Hukkadyno. (Does anyone miss Climbing Narc, like I do?) Every few days or so, I’d visit Google Reader and see if any sick sends, inspiring stories, or rad videos had been added. Blogs forced both the author and the reader to engage just a little bit deeper than today’s pic-vid-caption platforms, but were informal enough that typos and poor grammar didn’t detract. Moreover, a blog post is also a webpage. It was easy for the author to include all kinds of links, references, and photos that either added to the story, or added to the author’s personality. The blogging era was a time when people were less afraid to post something…

Read More

This Sunday! The 8B Challenge…

By | Birthday Challenges, Bouldering, Climbing | 2 Comments

Bros (and Babes!) Biking with Beers, Bowties, and Burritos to Boulders in Berkeley That’s 8 B’s. Count ’em. The electricity and plumbing are done. All that remains with the trailer rebuild are some finishing touches and a mini-art project making use of our scrap wood. Barring unforeseen sandbaggery, we should be rolling out of the Bay Area just ahead of the hordes of Memorial Day travelers, albeit far behind our original (and secondary) plans for March (and April) departures. It’s taken all we have to keep chipping away at the trailer project, and training/biking/climbing/running/mobility have all gone out the window. Five years ago this post might’ve been about routes and boulder problems I want to do this summer–and I can think of a few–but we’ve somehow allowed complexity to sneak back into our lives, and we’re still adjusting. Hell, we ain’t hardly seen hide or hair of our homies here. Basically, what I’m getting at is, we love our Bay Area climbing family. We also love my biological family, and the Berkeley boulders that magically dot the hillside. And, eager though we are to get back to RV Projecting, we’re gonna miss ’em. So I came up with a challenge to celebrate. You should come! It’s not gonna be too hard. More of a “Pretty Hard” than a challenge, really. Behold: Berkeley Bouldering (and Buildering!) on Bikes, with Burritos, Beer, and Fritters The Challenge: Begin at Kingpin Donuts with a cinnamon crumb donut (~16oz of heart-racing, innard-lubing goodness). Bicycle to each…

Read More

Renovations

By | Trip Journal | One Comment

When I was in high school, I got my driver’s license in secret. After I passed my driver’s test, I went over to my friend Ari’s house, where we’d often gather to beat each other’s egos senseless at the foosball table. I’ll never forget the joy of being able to smugly suggest that we drive down to 7-11, at which my friends’ faces became a hilarious melange of excitement and indignant frustration that I’d managed to keep a secret for 6 months. The thing about talking too much about plans is, you lose lots of time and energy building a castle in the sky, instead of just building the damn castle. As Reinhold Messner famously* stated, “Every word a castle builder speaks is a brick that could have been laid.” Anyway, remember when products would come to market, instead of half-baked ideas coming to Kickstarter? I’m a little hesitant to talk about our latest mini-proj, the build-out of the new trailer, but I saw something awesome today that I wanted to share in the form of a blog post, and I can’t really give an update without mentioning it. We’re building out the new trailer. If you follow our pictures instead of our blogwords, then you already knew that. 400 amp-hours, y’all! Anyway, the awesome thing I saw was on 8a.nu this morning. A Japanese competition climber, who started climbing on real rocks only a few months ago, just did an 8C/V15 in Japan. He says he trains very intuitively:…

Read More