The No More Excuses Birthday Challenge

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

People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. – Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth. I live an exceptional life. Every day is different from the previous and the next. I choose to live in a trailer so that I have the option to get outside daily – instead of a walk-in closet or a daily shower. I have done most anything I can think of to avoid being bogged down by the aspects of life that hold you down. Those that, effectively, make you forget that you are alive. I also choose to live in society. I choose to have a smart phone and health insurance. I pay my taxes and take Little Dude to get his rabies vaccination. And, often, all of those have-to-dos pile up, and I can’t avoid feeling weighed down. With freelance work, it’s all up to you – without a syllabus, your success is completely dependent on how much effort you put in. Balance is difficult to achieve, and I always feel behind. There’s the feature-length documentary we’re editing, oh and that non-profit festival that’s a few weeks away. Don’t forget the family and friends that you want to keep…

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The Muddy Waters of Trailer Insurance

By | Food for thought, Trip Journal | No Comments

We haven’t been able to leave Berkeley yet, solely because we don’t have our trailer insured yet. Since we’ve run into significantly more trouble than we imagined trying to get our trailer insured, I figured I’d write down what we’ve learned so other people might avoid the same pitfalls in the future. The details: We now have a converted cargo trailer. The trailer is a 2002 Pace American cargo trailer  (14-feet total in length, including the nose, and 8-feet wide). Although it was already converted into a livable space before we bought it, we completely gutted it to fit our needs. What’s the problem, you ask? AAA: we went to AAA first because we’ve been with them for years. Since we had an itemized spreadsheet of everything we bought for the trailer – they said they could insure it, if it was stationary at our home address for over half the year. Well, that’s not going to happen. Next… Progressive: they are the #1 major RV insurance company, but a converted cargo trailer is a dealbreaker for them. At this point we asked — who should we call next?! Farmer’s Insurance: a quick no – because it’s a converted cargo trailer. The problem, it turns out, is these major companies will happily insure a travel trailer that you have customized – but it has to have started as a travel trailer. The fact that our trailer was a cargo/utility trailer in a previous life does not jive with their policies….

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A New Joe’s Valley: Updates in Emery County, Utah

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

As we began planning for the 4th Annual Joe’s Valley Fest, my first email was to Josh Helke, founder of Organic Climbing. Organic has been the Headline Sponsor the past 2 years, and we were hoping they were game for another round! “COUNT US IN! We love this event and have made so many local friends in the community outside of climbing through it!” HAPPY DANCE!!! Because, back in 2015 when a few of us got together to start the festival, that’s exactly what we were hoping would happen.                 This got me to thinking about all the other awesome changes that have happened around Emery County since the Fest started. Of course, me and the rest of the Joe’s Valley Fest team know it’s not all because of us, we just love being a part of it all. ⇒ Cup of Joe’s. Why yes, there is now a coffee shop in Orangeville! This cozy new addition has become the defacto headquarters of the Fest, because climbers just might love coffee more than they love climbing. Since the welcoming owners, Doug and Camie, were trained a Public Coffeehouse in SLC – the coffee is good, REALLY good (+ they offer lots of non-caffeinated options too!). It’s also a great place to go for climbing needs – they have a copy of the old guidebook you can take photos of, plus they’re the only place in the area you can rent Organic Climbing crash…

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The 8B Challenge Report

By | Birthday Challenges, Climbing | No Comments

This was originally published on June 15, 2018 on the Touchstone Climbing blog. Original post can be found here. People often associate me with Birthday Challenges, which is understandable because I’ve made them a pretty big part of my life. There is endless philosophical musing to be done regarding the process of dreaming up sufferfests to mark the years of one’s life, but really, they’re just fun. They usually take the form of a day (or days) packed with fun activities with friends in beautiful places, and who doesn’t like that? Well, it ain’t my birthday for a little while, but we wanted to celebrate our new home office on wheels by spending a day with good friends enjoying one of the coolest things about Berkeley, which is the surprising amount of climbing one can do in her hills. We hatched a plan, and I called one of my longest climbing buddies, Ryan Moon, to suggest the 8B Challenge. I could tell straightaway that he thought it was a brilliant idea, because he said “that’s brilliant!” The 8B Challenge was less severe than some of the epics of Birthday Challenge lore, but it wasn’t a total gimme either. As detailed on our blog, the 8B part has nothing to do with the French translation of V13. Instead, it stands for Bros and Babes Biking with Beers, Bowties, and Burritos to Boulders in Berkeley. The goal was the following: To climb at least one boulder problem at each of eight Berkeley bouldering…

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Joe’s Valley Bouldering Festival 2016 Recap

By | Bouldering, Climbing, Stuff We're Psyched On, Trip Journal | One Comment

WOW, we got so lucky with weather! Throughout the Fest, I was like a broken record. Memories of last year’s frigid fest were all too vivid. As a festival organizer, there are two hypotheticals that you are terrified of: no one shows up, or the weather is too bad to do any of the events you spent the last year coordinating. And, even though Fall is prime Joe’s Valley season, the desert is still unpredictable. Just the week before the Fest this year, there was a huge rain storm that caused moderate flooding. I imagined what kind of festival that would be… Well, I guess that’s not too far from last year’s fest… HA! Yea, the decision to move the fest to October was an easy one. The weather this year did not disappoint. It was sunny and dry during the day, and crisp and clear at night. Perfect outdoor festival temps. The first festival was so late in the year because the idea didn’t emerge until a few weeks beforehand. We didn’t want to stall the support and momentum we had locally, so we went forward with the festival despite having very little time to plan. It was a test run, and this year looked much more traditionally festival-like, but with a Emery County twist. 😉 Local Flavor So what’s the point of the Joe’s Valley Bouldering Festival? We want to introduce climbers to the towns that surround their beloved Joe’s Valley, and the people that make up Emery County. At the moment, the vast majority of climbers don’t go beyond the Food Ranch…

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Our Way to Salt Lake

By | Musings, Road Trip Beta, Trip Journal | 2 Comments

It is 6:30 in the morning and too hot to sleep anymore. We start driving towards the middle of Nevada in search of food and coffee, when we suddenly realize it is the 4th of July. Everything that might be open in middle-of-nowhere Nevada is sure to be closed. And the most nutrient-dense part of our dinner last night was potato chips (possibly because we chose to climb a multi-pitch in Toulumne late in the day, so all the eateries were closed by the time we finished). A couple hours later, our stomachs grumbling audibly, we pull into Tonopah – the only place that can be called a town for hundreds of miles. Tonopah was a bustling mining town…in the early 1900s. As we drive through, shuttered blind after closed door welcome us. Then, there was the Mizpah Hotel. It looks open, and they must have a restaurant. Right? We park the truck across the street and walk over. “Did you guys miss the Starbucks?” laughs a middle-aged lady as she leads two small dogs up the stairs of the Mizpah. “We’re just looking for some food and coffee,” I laugh nervously. My usual reaction when I don’t know how to react. “Well, you’ve come to the right place. We ate here this morning,” she opens the door and tells us where to find the Pittman Cafe. Hot coffee and a hot (and very American) breakfast followed. The Mizpah Hotel was originally opened in 1907, then after the mining boom left Tonopah, it slowly died. In 2011, it was re-opened by Fred…

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Getting to the Climb: How to Keep it Sustainable

By | Climbing, Conscious Climber Project, Ethics, Trip Journal | No Comments

There’s so much rock in our neighborhood in Northern New Mexico that it can be hard for us to focus our attention on the areas that have already been developed. Often Spenser and I choose to run around exploring a new area, rather than going back and “working on” an established zone. Even though we might want to just run around and hunt for new boulders, we do realize that more people will come. Maybe 5, maybe 10…maybe more. And those people are going to want to get around this beautiful boulder field. As we found out from Ty Tyler’s visit,  it’s illegal to construct unapproved trails on National Forest Service land, but if we can prevent climbers from getting lost and bushwacking, we can limit the impacts and erosion that trigger access threats. So, what do we do? When we visit an area, we establish use patterns, which will eventually become the “social trails” that future visitors will end up following naturally. In Nosos (AKA La Madera), we decided to use cairns (stacks of rocks) to flag these routes or paths and keep other climbers on the “right” ones. We also blocked entries to old paths that we want to prevent people from using, and made preferred routes easier to navigate. These paths are indicated in the newly released New Mexico Bouldering Guidebook, but marking the paths clearly is especially important for climbers without a book. We tried to make sure that the “correct” path was also the path of least resistance, so that people would instinctively tend to…

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The Inaugural Joe’s Valley Bouldering Festival

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

We over here at RV Project HQ (currently: Spenser’s Parents House, Berkeley, CA) are still beaming after an amazing weekend at the inaugural Joe’s Valley Bouldering Festival. It’s been a crazy couple weeks since the Fest, but now that we’ve got fast internet and cell phone reception, it’s time for a recap. I feel like there’s so much to talk about that it’s hard to figure out where to start. To me, the primary goal of this festival was said best by Steven Jeffery,   Even with the crappy audio, you can probably understand that we wanted to get climbers and local community members together, to just hang out together. And maybe we’d understand each other a bit better because, let’s be honest, us climbers don’t have much contact with the people of Orangeville or Castle Dale (except for the brief stops for sustenance – donuts & coffee – at the Food Ranch). The festival was based around bringing together bouldering, history, and community to highlight what makes Joe’s Valley such a special destination for climbers. Why in the heck do we love climbing those little rocks so much?! In the days leading up to the festival, the excitement from the local community felt pervasive. Firewood was delivered directly to our campsites, the Food Ranch made stickers specially for the event – the whole town seemed to be talking about this festival. This is primarily a photo essay of what made the Fest special for me – to check out the schedule in its entirety…

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Lizzy Asher’s Highball Birthday Challenge

By | Birthday Challenges, Bouldering, Climbing, Guest Post | No Comments

A big thanks to our badass friend Lizzy for crushing this challenge, and then writing this great post about it! Missing out on Squamish this summer didn’t feel quite so bad after getting to relive one of our favorite days. Last summer I decided to do my first climbing birthday challenge at age 28.  The goal: to complete four famous highball boulder problems which I had never before climbed in a single day: Ride the Lightning (V8), Teenage Lobotomy (V7), Funeral Arrangements (V6), and Black Slabbath (V7). As my move to San Francisco and the final “writing stage” of my PhD in climate science and oceanography approached, I sought to prepare for the social and intellectual challenges that I would face with a physical challenge requiring mental fortitude and discipline.  I also wanted to say good-bye to Squamish, with its familiar forest and boulders, where I had logged hundreds of hours becoming acquainted with the subtleties of granite climbing.  Finally, I had spent the previous winter working for the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO with little time for anything but work and training with a core group of climbing friends, and I came to I relish my hours at the various Boulder climbing gyms.  When summer arrived, I was eager to see if my gym-wrought fitness gains could help me reach new climbing heights. After some deliberation, I settled on this particular group of boulder problems for their aesthetic climbing movements, my previous yearnings to climb each one…

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