A Jumbo Passion Project

By | Bolt Clipping, Climbing, Film, Food for thought | 3 Comments

The climber, facing away from the wall, gingerly peers over his toes to watch his sky-blue T-shirt flutter to the ground. He takes a deep breath, then turns in place on the 4-inch ledge on which he’s been standing. Now facing the wall, he unclips from the anchor and begins a precarious rightward traverse. 15 delicate feet later, he clips the rope into a quickdraw more in line with the rest of the bolts. He draws another deep breath, and pulls into the start of a 110-foot long roof. So begins my absolute favorite segment of climbing footage. It doesn’t evoke the adrenalized, finger-tingling, animalistic urge to grab something overhead and freakin’ pull down like most videos of hard climbers climbing hard. It’s more like a good surf film, in which a fragile human is calm and poised amidst the violence and chaos of forces we can’t comprehend. It’s simultaneously serene and exciting, and I can’t look away. He’s nearly horizontal, but his face is completely relaxed. He doesn’t seem to be climbing so much as gliding between ripples in gravity’s field, now relaxing and taking a breath as the next hold makes its way to his hand. He is a virtuoso and the rock is his sheet music. We don’t listen to the notes, we feel the movement swell. The camera follows the climber, uninterrupted, for about 30 minutes. I’ve watched it countless times, and on every occasion I feel transported by the rapture of a perfected performance. It features a…

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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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Larger Than Life

By | Bolt Clipping, Climbing, Musings | No Comments

The Elephant in the Room The past couple of days have been a bit of a blur. Most likely, if you’re reading this, you’re familiar with rock climbing. From that I’d deduce that you’ve heard the news about Dean Potter and his partner Graham Hunt’s fatal wingsuit flight in Yosemite (edit: read about Graham Hunt here). Many, many stirring tributes have been posted, and I’m sure that many, many useless internet comments will be/have been appended to those. I’ll leave the bulk of the eulogizing to those who knew him better, and I encourage you to spend some time studying Dean’s legacy. Yet even as I write this post, I can’t help but reflect on how influential he was to a younger me. I believe every child feels that he or she is somehow “different,” but parents and teachers and mass media cause us to become a bit smoother around the edges as we grow into adults. On one hand, a society requires a certain allegiance to order, but on the other hand, nothing good ever came from people obeying conventions. I remember hearing of Dean’s controversial 2006 ascent of Delicate Arch, and thinking that he was somewhere between a genius and a total asshole. But I remember thinking, and realizing that simple concepts like Leave No Trace aren’t so simple after all. Remember 1984, and how dull and grey everything was. Dean never lost his color. In a game without rules, Dean further defied convention by inventing entirely new games. Say what you will about selfishness or…

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Everything Real Big

By | Bolt Clipping, Musings, Trip Journal | 7 Comments

For more frequent updates, video clips, and photos, follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Also, there’s a little teaser clip at the bottom of this post. Enjoy! It’s truly hard to believe that we’ve been doing this travel/climb/document thing for over 3 years now. Year 1 was a bit of a dizzying doozy. Year 2 was when we first stepped into the world of semi-professional media. Year 3 was the year of Shit or Get Off The Pot. Year 4 is the year of Love. Jumbo Love. For the past 4 weeks, we’ve been living at Casa Mike in Las Vegas. Ethan, Georgie, Vikki, and myself are here with the main goal of going up to Clark Mountain and filming Ethan on what is arguably the hardest sport route in North America, Jumbo Love 5.15b. Side goals include Georgie sending 1000 Churches 5.13a, and myself sending Jumbo Pumping Hate 5.14a, both at Clark’s 3rd tier. What’s It Like Up There? Everything about Clark is bigger and badder. We are out the door by 8:30. It takes a bit less than an hour to get to the Yates Well exit, and another 30-40 minutes to drive the infamous 4×4 road to the parking lot. The Third Tier (AKA The Monastery, not to be confused with the several other crags with the same name) is less than a mile from the parking lot as the crow flies, but the hike takes about 40 minutes. The first section is an uphill trail of increasing steepness, leading to the…

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Relationship Redux

By | Bolt Clipping, Climbing, Trip Journal | No Comments

Spenser and I have been together for almost 6 years and living in a 6×10 foot trailer for the last 3. Spenser carries the heavier things, primarily drives the truck, and snags things that are out of my reach. I do most of the cleaning, organizing, and picking stuff up off the ground. We logically took on these roles, and this seems to happen in every relationship, romantic or otherwise. We all play a specific role in our jobs, our friend circles, our families. Whether you’re the black sheep, the prom queen, or the jokster – you fall into a role, you become an expert, you form habits, and build patterns of behavior – and, even if these habits make you unhappy, they are still hard to break. Like I mentioned last time, you get comfortable and you settle into your part. Some people are happy and fulfilled in this comfort zone, others (like me) are not. I believe that you are meant to play certain roles – for example, Spenser will always be able to reach higher than me, as I’m not willing to wear to 12 inch heels, ever. But, there are other roles that I don’t want to be typecast to, comfort zones I want to get out of. Because of this, when we left for Spain, I had high expectations for myself. I didn’t want to relinquish myself to playing the part of the stereotypical bouldering fanatic who was terrified of sport climbing, and swore off ropes. I thought I had trained diligently and was ready to kick…

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Projects, Projects, Film Projects

By | Bolt Clipping, Climbing, Trip Journal | 2 Comments

The region of Catalunya is like a limestone analog of the US Southwest’s sandstone landscape, with flat-topped mountains guarded by sheer cliffs, a Mediterranean climate, and tall pines in place of diminutive pinyons. The result is a less dramatic but far more intricate topography, made more marvelous by the traces left by myriad cultures throughout the centuries. Wandering the harsh landscape around the Four Corners fills one with a sense of desolation. Driving the pleasant and hospitable countryside of Tarragona fills one with a sense of calm and well-being. Both have ample evidence of ancient human habitation, the former of the Stone age and the latter of every age from prehistory to the present. Above all, the Spanish countryside feels tranquilo. We have fallen into a rhythm here. We wake and make coffee, not too early and not too late. James Lucas, who sleeps on the couch, usually gets out earlier than us. We might do a little work in the morning, we might walk around the corner to the bakery and produce market where our California Spanish facilitates simple transactions and friendly smiles (Catalan is a complete mystery to us). We eat simply and generally healthily. When we feel ready, we pile into a small car and drive on small roads to Siurana, a small distance away. We warm up, we climb. We enjoy the spectrum of color as the sun sets over Cornudella de Montsant, and we pile back into the car to reunite with James. Sometimes we meet friends at one…

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Spain, Day 1- Star-struck, Awe-struck.

By | Bolt Clipping, Climbing, Trip Journal | No Comments

Day 0- Awake at dawn; an empty international terminal at SFO; some hours to Newark; some more to Barcelona. We’re damn good at road tripping, but flying internationally is a whole ‘nother story. Spain, we’re coming for your limestone!!! Eventually!! A video posted by @thervproject on Feb 20, 2015 at 4:06pm PST Somewhere in there we watched Boyhood, which is not to be missed. Bleary-eyed, we got stamps in our passports and stumbled to baggage claim. I had to lie down on the floor, after virtually no sleep and 12 hours in an upright and locked position; some friendly Spanish airport police checked on me to make sure I wasn’t passed out. I suppose we looked haggard. No sooner were we deposited in a foreign land – my California Spanish feeling clumsy in Catalunya – than we run into a Chattanooga foursome in the airport café. Shortly thereafter, we are greeted by Ethan, who’d just dropped off Ben. It was a smooth handoff of Americans. 2 cafés con leche, a trip to the biggest grocery store I’ve ever seen, and a 90-minute drive later, we arrived in Cornudella De Montsant. Keeping our eyes open was difficult. We slept for most of the afternoon, I went for a run, we ate a gigantic bowl of salad, and slept for another 10 hours. Our first full day in Spain was a Sunday. The sun shone, the air was cool and breezy, the oatmeal laden with chia and hemp seeds. James Lucas, who rounds…

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My BDC- Long Term Beatdown

By | Birthday Challenges, Bolt Clipping, Bouldering | 2 Comments

“Just so you know, Georgie, I’ll be sprinting this one as fast as I can, since I’m training and all that.” “No worries, you can go ahead of me.” And so I sprinted up the first set of stairs on the trail that eventually gains 700 meters of elevation, bound for the 3rd Peak. About 150 stairs later, I was cooked. My legs felt like molten slag, and the air I was sucking didn’t seem to contain any oxygen, despite being at sea level. What began as running quickly turned into plodding. “I think you’re hosing yourself by not warming up” No shit. And so Georgie and I huffed our way up to the pinnacle of the 2nd Peak, arriving exactly 36 minutes after we began the hike. There is a trail, you see, that goes directly to the 3rd Peak, but it is vicious. Roots and rocks. The type of terrain that eats inferior ankles for breakfast. There is no moving quickly over that kind of trail. I think that, physically, the single hardest part of my birthday challenge will be this run, 36 minutes or less to the 3rd Peak. So why did we go to the 2nd? To see if the trail was faster, if longer. And it was. Despite lingering on the top of the 2nd Peak for a few minutes and dawdling over to the 3rd, we made it to the 3rd Peak in 51 minutes. That’s 1 minute faster than when I did the 3rd peak trail…

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Birthday Challenge Episode 1: Alex Johnson

By | Birthday Challenges, Bolt Clipping, Bouldering, Film | 2 Comments

EpicTV’s newest series, Birthday Challenge, went live today! Episode one follows Alex Johnson as she hits the quarter-century milestone with grace, humor, and optimism. She also manages to climb 25 routes and enough boulder problems to amass 25 stars in Las Vegas’ incredible Red Rock Canyon. Check it out below, and share with your friends, because we want as many people doing birthday challenges as possible this year! (Speaking of which, if you have done, or are going to do a birthday challenge, let us know! Also, there’s a BDC group on Facebook you should probably join.) We mentioned earlier that this year was going to be quite an adventure…all of a sudden we are making films…professionally! We dove into this one. Drove across the country to one of our least favorite cities (Las Vegas), and spent a couple of days filming Alex, interviewing her and her awesome mom Trish, and gathering some ridiculously cute footage of Fritz. When it came time to edit, we wanted to tell a story. We wanted to inspire. We wanted to give you Alex in the raw. Several long nights yielded a great 8-minute film we were proud of, and better still, that Alex was psyched on. We sent it off to EpicTV. EpicTV responded that they wanted something a bit more “action-packed.” So it was back to the editing station to chop it up again. The result is a totally awesome 4 minute video showing some of the gorgeous sport climbing in Red Rock, classic boulder problems from…

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Top Rope Tough Girl

By | Bolt Clipping, Climbing, Staying Healthy, The Interior, Trip Journal | 5 Comments

Who can forget this amazing climbing classic?! I have a confession to make. I’ve been toproping. Frequently. I feel as though I’m cheating on bouldering. It’s been my obsession for years- unfortunately, my bouldering confidence wanes at times. One day I feel like I can climb to the top of anything I set my mind to. The next day, I can’t seem to shake the feeling that I totally suck. How well you climb is directly linked to your confidence level. There’s no way around it. Just like with any other discipline, knowing that you can do it is a vital to success. I’m very aware that everyone has bad days, but I’ve come to the conclusion that my mental (and physical) struggle is not based on probability: it’s my lack of endurance. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve been living on the road, rock climbing, for over 2 years and have gained little endurance. I am certainly much stronger than when we began the road trip, but I still get the feeling that one, or both, of my hands will spontaneously open up if I’m on the wall for over 30 seconds [not an experimentally acquired measurement, but a good estimate]. I also do not have a good gauge as to how long I can hold on once that inevitable pump sets in. I’ve never committed to climbing past it. Yep, I’m a sucker for letting go. This is further detrimental to my climbing since I am predominately a static climber who…

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