Reel Rock 11 Review, Plus a Conversation with Sender’s Nick Rosen

By | Climbing | No Comments

It’s been a looong time since Top Rope Tough Guys premiered at Reel Rock, back in 2010. A lot of folks said climbing cinema would never get better than that. I certainly didn’t think it could, but I try to keep an open mind, and it was in that spirit that I joined my brother and some friends for the Seattle stop of the Reel Rock 11 Film Tour. Okay, to fully disclose, Reel Rock gave me a few free passes and asked if I might write a review. As a bonus, I got a hold of Nick Rosen on the phone and asked some questions about the films I’d just seen. Nick, for those unaware, is a partner and filmmaker at Sender Films. We have worked and played together in the past, and we make it a point to stop by Sender’s office whenever we’re in Boulder to catch up, and to raid their stash of Clif bars. I chatted with him on the phone about how this year’s films came to be. I took notes but didn’t record the conversation, so the following is mostly paraphrased. ===================== RVP: How did you guys select the 5 films in this year’s program? Nick Rosen: Every year, we sit down and powwow early on about storylines and film ideas. And the REEL ROCK lineup evolves throughout the year. Above all, we want to create a program that’s going to entertain and get people psyched. That’s a really high bar! It can’t…

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I Lost 8 Pounds in Two Days While Eating Whatever I Wanted. Ask Me How!

By | Birthday Challenges, Musings | 3 Comments

I stood on top of Devil’s Castle, overlooking the Alta ski resort and what felt like the rest of the world. The moon was full and the sky was clear, so bright that my headlamp stayed in the pack. Two faint campfires burned below. I’d been dreading this. It was past midnight and I was alone, slowly picking my way along the crumbly, rotten limestone ridge that makes up the “horseshoe” at the head of Little Cottonwood Canyon. I was worried about all manner of unknown misery that nightfall would bring. The truth of the matter is that any misery was my own doing. I knew I wanted to do the WURL as my birthday challenge, and had spent much of the summer preparing for the eventual attempt. I had four potential partners, but one by one they dropped out, because they (respectively): thought it was gonna be too hard; thought it was gonna be too dangerous; were tapering for another big run; didn’t have time to adequately train. I’d heard of some other folks giving it a shot over the weekend, but I had grown tired of all this equivocating and impetuously declared (on Tuesday) that I’d give the WURL a go during the full moon (Wednesday). Snacks and a plan were hastily assembled. I didn’t really have enough time to get anxious. The WURL Report- Wednesday Afternoon Vikki dropped me off at the Ferguson Canyon trailhead, and I began hiking at 11:37am. The climb up Ferguson isn’t too…

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Just an Update, Really

By | Film, Musings | No Comments

Does anyone else have trouble deciding how to spend the minutes in an hour, the hours in a day, the days in a life? Yeah, I know the topic of privilege is a hot one these days, and I know that we are privileged to be able to say that there’s too much to do in too little time (I’m guessing you’re like us, dear reader). In short, I’m complaining about something that shouldn’t be a complaint, although it has been quite difficult to make the choice to sit down and write something. We’ve been in Salt Lake City for over a month now, undertaking the biggest project in RVProj history. We’re here to start the “Steve Edwards Project,” a documentary about the man’s remarkable life as told through interviews with friends and family, photos, various outdated video formats (I’d never even seen an 8mm reel before), and the prolific writings and videos from the Dude himself.  Also, that’s a working title, and will certainly change. Suggestions are welcome. Much has been written by and about Steve before and after his untimely passing, and I suggest reading the following articles that I’ve linked Steve-style, that is, with a block of hyperlinked text: The day I heard the news of Steve Edwards’s passing I thought about having a couple of martinis and a full size bag of pork rinds, or running twenty miles, or climbing 20 routes in honor of his memory. But then I realized Steve would probably do all of these things…

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Another Birthday, Another Challenge

By | Birthday Challenges, Stuff We're Psyched On, Trip Journal | 7 Comments

On July 15th, the earth will be in roughly the same place with respect to the sun as it was when I was born almost 32 years ago. I’m not sure why it felt necessary to say “I’m turning 32” in such a roundabout fashion. It’s not a good habit; the world is complex enough as it is without obfuscating writing about banal topics. It’s time for another Birthday Challenge. My introductory paragraph shows a glimpse of the inner turmoil of a mind clouded with complex thoughts. This morass of often incompatible ideas is not easy to wade through, and a desire for clarity is why I chose this challenge, and why I chose such a bloody simple one compared to the logistical and exhaustive clusterfuck I undertook when I turned 30. I’m going to attempt the WURL, and I hope to complete it in less than 32 hours. The WURL stands for “Wasatch Ultimate Ridge Linkup,” and in my own words, is a ridiculously cool but very long objective just outside of Salt Lake City, UT. It’s about 36 miles, and more or less follows a ridge all the way around Little Cottonwood Canyon, gaining about 18,000 feet as it passes through a couple of dozen peaks, many of them above 11,000 feet. As far as I can tell, the fastest time is Jared Campbell with an absurdly quick run of 16:44. Our friend Stacey, with partners Matt and Alexis, managed it in 26:25. Stacey, you may recall, kept…

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10 Lessons from 10 Days on the Road with the Rock Project

By | Climbing, Conscious Climber Project | No Comments

We’re working on some big things this year and I would like to get on the phone with you guys and see if we could partner up for some content projects. We got this email in January from Tyler Willcutt. Tyler and I hung out a year ago at Laurel Falls in TN. At the time, he was a humble route developer and 5.14 climber, passionate about rebolting but who had never been outside of the US, or even to California. Suddenly, he was working for Black Diamond, tasked with planning the ROCK Project 2016 tour. He wanted us along to document two weekends of clinics and stewardship, with a week of roadtripping in between. He didn’t have to work hard to sell us on the trip…not only would we be embedded with a bunch of badass athletes, but we’d be working on spreading the good word about the ROCK Project movement, an initiative with goals we share. Very cool. And so it was that the members of The RV Project met up with Daila Ojeda, Joe Kinder, Chris Schulte, Kate Rutherford, Hazel Findlay, Sam Elias, Colette McInerney, and the aforementioned Tyler in Las Vegas, drove minivans to Bishop, and then on to Sender One and Malibu Creek State Park in the LA area. The intro to this post ought to serve as a full disclosure about our relationship with Black Diamond Equipment, Inc. (you may know them as The Company Formerly Known As Chouinard, or as NASDAQ: BDE). They paid us…

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Just Chasing Our Tails

By | Musings | One Comment

Have you ever watched a dog chase its own tail? I’m guessing you have. Have you ever thought about what that means about us? Dig this… We were sitting around one night a few weeks ago, me and Vikki and some buddies and my brother Eliot, having adult beverages and shooting the poop. We got to talking about my brother’s dog Walnut, and how he’s kinda dumb sometimes. Among other things, he chases his tail. What can’t be denied, though, is Walnut’s athleticism and agility. They did a test, and it turns out the mutt’s got a lot of fast in his past. I took a sip of whisky and made the point to my companions that a dog at the crag might chase his tail, and we might laugh and feel intellectually superior to the dizzy canine. Then we might cram our feet into little shoes and try to get up a piece of geology the hardest way possible, while that same dog might walk up the backside and greet us on top. That dog might think itself the one of superior intelligence. I took another sip of whisky and stood up. I was about to be on a roll. I could feel it. “You guys, think about it,” I said. “We climb rocks not for the glory of that rock, but because it’s an arbitrary goal that forces us to better ourselves mentally and physically in a way that’s engaging and fun.” As often happens when I get…

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Ethan Pringle and La Reina Mora – The Full Story

By | Bolt Clipping, Film, Trip Journal | 3 Comments

“I’m so over it.” I told James Lucas at our small dinning room table in our dimly lit communal area on the night before my last day in Cataluña.  “Like, no part of me wants to go try it. I just want to go climbing and have fun tomorrow for a change.” I could feel my pulse in my hands, almost imperceptibly. My fingers throbbed with blood trying to repair the tissue around the gobies I’d repeatedly torn open in the pockets at the red-point crux of my project. The blood circulated harder still from the inflammatory Spanish foods I’d consumed that day (the peppered sausage, the salty bocadillo) and from the inflammatory thoughts and emotions that had plagued my being. I was midway through the nightly process of applying Neosporin and Band-Aids to the wounds. Wax paper scraps from the bandages, and an assortment of other random items lay scattered across the table. For the last month I’d been doing battle with La Reina Mora (meaning “The Moor Queen”), a stunning 40-meter long 5.14+ test-piece in the famous El Pati sector of the Spanish mega-crag Siurana. It had become glaringly obvious to me and everyone watching that what was holding me back was no sort of physical limitation – it was in my head. Ten days earlier I had a breakthrough attempt on which I stuck the red-point crux from the ground, but pumped off above the last bolt of the route, one moderately difficult move away from success. My…

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My Own Little Odyssey

By | Bouldering, Climbing, Conscious Climber Project | No Comments

Either skip to the bottom or click here for the video. Cover image courtesy of Owen Summerscales. On top of Nosos sits the Manhattan Project boulder, home to a few moderate classics, one project likely in the V13-14 range, and a one-move wonder. It was this single move that Eric Bissell and I spent most of an afternoon trying, back in spring 2014. It was a more innocent time: ISIS had yet to dominate our nightmares, you hadn’t heard of Donald-Trump-the-politician, and this one move had yet to be completed. Natural Perfection I was ecstatic to find something like this. Even Eric Bissell, a Yosemite levitator who doesn’t much care for dynos, lost sleep on account of this boulder problem. Yosemite maestro Keenan Takahashi trained specifically for this move, and in Spring of 2015 drove his Honda Odyssey all the way from California to Nosos in a straight shot, and after a handful of attempts was able to set it free. While everyone had been attempting to grab the slot right-handed, Keenan launched with his left and caught the jug. He waltzed up the V0 glory moves to the summit of the boulder and named the problem The Odyssey, after the minivan. This move embodies everything I love about the Ortega quartzite. Two parallel seams run about 4 feet apart, slanting upward to the right ever so slightly. The bottom seam is hardly even a fissure, except for one 8” wide portion where the bottom lip protrudes, creating a 1/2…

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Why The Fuck?

By | Birthday Challenges | 4 Comments

Ten years and one month ago, I lost a friend. Her name was Kendra Payne, and we met through the adventure program at UCSB. We shared classes, homework, and the occasional excursion to the outdoors…I remember her pulling off a palm-down mantel 60 feet off the deck on her first toprope. She inspired me to commit to a semester abroad in Australia. Two weeks before I was to fly across the Pacific, she was killed in a cycling accident. We had planned to meet for coffee that day, but I never got a phone call from her. Last night I slipped into muscle memory again, and, mind idle, I flipped to Facebook. The first story on my feed informed me that I had just lost another friend. It felt like waking up in the middle of an avalanche. Steve Edwards. Stainless. The strong, silent type. No recounting of his employment, no listing of physical achievements would do any service to his legacy. I suspect he’d hate me for saying something like this, but Steve was more than a friend, he was a life-idol. There aren’t a whole lot of people out there like that, people who inspire you to just be a better human being. And there aren’t a whole lot of people that strong, that kind, that awesome, who can do nothing but be themselves and still make the people around them better. I met Steve way too late. We were getting our first big break, a series with EpicTV about Birthday Challenges….

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From Visitors to Guests

By | Climbing, Conscious Climber Project, Trip Journal | 2 Comments

“Throughout the fall season, we will be releasing a series of videos, photos, and blog posts that will present some of the common issues that bouldering areas have, and how developers and early visitors can ensure the sustainability of these playgrounds.” – The RV Project And so, as 2015 draws to a close, we look back on our previous promise and note, with chagrin, that we have not kept it. The quote attributed to Lew A Wallace proved prescient, for indeed, our season in New Mexico did not go according to any plan whatsoever. It started with a bang, quite literally. We then spent a while trying to figure out a place to put our trailer where it would be safe from bandits but accessible in inclement weather. Previous experience had told us it would not be a difficult task. Now we know what to expect from that type of planning. We expected to hit the ground running. Instead, we arrived largely ignorant of any of the peculiarities that give this place its enchanted, and sometimes haunted, feel. Instead of a daily routine of developing boulder problems, filming, and editing/writing/publishing, we realized we needed to step back and understand what this place is really about. Ty Tyler from the Access Fund came by for a visit, and we were able to learn a great deal about how to think about developing a new area. Yet this locale is much more than just an un-trampled hillside in danger of trampling. It’s a…

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