Joe’s Valley Bouldering Festival 2016 Recap

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

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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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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The Inaugural Joe’s Valley Bouldering Festival

By | Bouldering, Climbing, Stuff We're Psyched On, Trip Journal | No 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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Introducing the Conscious Climber Project

By | Bouldering, Climbing, Conscious Climber Project, Stuff We're Psyched On | 4 Comments

“Every calculation based on previous experience fails in New Mexico” – Lew A. Wallace, Governer of the New Mexican Territory (1878-1881) Exotic Locales, No Passport Required The days continue to march inexorably forward, like the thousands of Barbie dolls marching into an oven that are on display annually at Burning Man. Time might fly when you’re having fun, but it flies even faster if you simply let it slide. “Not much” or “nothing” is never the correct answer to “what’s going on?” Pausing often to reflect on things is the simplest way I’ve found to stretch out my time. Like a rubber band with an intricate drawing, I can only enjoy the rich tapestry of events, and feelings, and relationships that make up my life if I pull the ends apart and dive into the details. I’m suggesting that being aware and conscious is the secret to prolonging life. New Mexico is nicknamed The Land of Enchantment, and climbers may be familiar with a particular tower that fell under the spell. But aside from the remote and mysterious Enchanted Tower, and the fact that one must pass through during the annual Hueco migration, New Mexico is almost entirely off the itinerant climbers’ collective radar. Put simply, New Mexico is not on “the circuit.” That’s about to change. Roy and Not Roy Folks, if you’ve been down with The Proj for a long time, you may recall a post from Spring 2014 excitedly showing pictures from Roy and La Madera. In fact, if you…

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Real Shit in New Mexico

By | Bouldering, Climbing, Conscious Climber Project, Trip Journal | 5 Comments

A brief note, here, to warn you that this post gets mildly graphic. There are no gruesome photos, but I do talk about some serious stuff. Read on, but be prepared. I nearly died the other day. We’re in New Mexico, and it’s a few days into our fall season here. A cornucopia of nascent bouldering attracted us here, while anticipation caused our plans to grow in scope until they eventually snowballed into what we’re calling The Conscious Climber Project. Much, much more on that in the next post. It was at one of these nascent boulderfields, called Posos, that we intended to spend the weekend getting a tour from William. William is an energetic and wide-ranging explorer of boulders, having more or less discovered most of the modern, high-end boulders in northern New Mexico. A seemingly interminable drive up a dirt road, first smooth and later rocky, led us onto an undulating mesa decorated by a stunning patchwork of pine forest, grassy meadow, and rocky outcrops. Posos hovers around 9000 feet above sea level, making it a reasonable bouldering destination for summer. Our trailer made it to the primitive campground, but slowly. And barely. In the morning, we were treated to a pair of quartzite formations straddling our campground. Both contained must-do boulder problems on some of the coolest rock I could ever imagine. William, along with Kendo, gave a quick introduction to the area. After lunch, the three of us jumped into William’s truck to go hunt for…

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Crunch Goes the Ankle

By | Bouldering, Climbing, Musings | One Comment

A huge thanks to Kati for being such a good sport throughout this whole ordeal. Above: The aftermath of what’s described below. Responsibility and Obligation The thing about life is that shit happens. We take reasonable precautions, but shit still happens. It’s an old trope trotted out often in the comments section whenever rock climbing finds its way into the mainstream news outlets, but it’s always good to keep in mind that we ought to live maximally, lest we get caught in a freak tornado filled with sharks while playing it safe on the couch. I’d much rather be killed or maimed in a climbing accident than a car accident. Highballs play for keeps. It’s part of what makes them so fun. The climber can achieve momentary mastery, being in control in an objectively dangerous situation. It feels good in an entirely personal way that must be experienced to be understood. It’s kind of a personal spiritual thing, although I’d be lying if I denied that a portion of my joy comes from getting away with something my parents wouldn’t really approve of if they knew what was going on out there in the woods. I’ve sort of fallen in love with the Rockshop, a many-acre expanse of granite formations a mere 45 minutes from Lander. The chaotic jumbles contain endless hidden projects, their surfaces weathered by icy winter winds into a fine patina with brilliant texture. As with many locations, the most beautiful lines are a bit taller and more dangerous….

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Yearning For The Simple Life

By | Bouldering, Photo, Trip Journal | One Comment

It’s been a little while since we rapped at ya, like in the familiar. I recently read through some of the older posts on this blog, and got hit with a wave of nostalgia for the flippantly written trip diaries of the yesteryears. Truth be told we’ve had a bit of a wacky time of it lately, from leaving the Bay Area on Wednesday June 17th along a circuitous path to Salt Lake City. Another trip journal entry seems in order. If all goes well, the older me will thank me for leaving this little easter egg for him to discover when he’s digging through the archives. Old Stomping Grounds, New Beginnings First stop was Pine Mountain. It’s all of the following: beautiful; one of the first places I went bouldering outside of Santa Barbara; where Vikki climbed her first boulder problem; a remote cluster of sandstone with a view to the Channel Islands; a place we hadn’t visited in 6 years. It was in the upper 80s, so no mega-sending went down, but it was relaxing. We slept like people are supposed to, deeply and long and under the stars. We spent one day at Pine, and on Friday drove down to San Diego for a visit to Vikki’s mad scientist parents. Saturday, we had the pleasure of watching Ben and Zhuojin celebrate their marriage (conveniently, not far from Vikki’s parents’ home). Ben is one of my oldest climbing buddies, and they are extremely appreciated members of the People Who Have…

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Who’s Your Daddy? The Life of a Climbing Father

By | Bouldering, Climbing, Guest Post | No Comments

Hi, I’m Andy White. I’ll pause for a second while you ask yourself, “who the hell is Andy White?” Well, in the broad scheme of the climbing world, I’m not really someone who’s all that important or well known. Yeah, I’ve penned guidebooks and magazine articles, have been part of a few bouldering film projects, have put up hundreds of boulder problems in our region, manage our local bouldering blog, created and organize our local, annual bouldering festival, act as head routesetter at our gym and get the opportunity to serve as an ambassador for some terrific climbing companies – all while performing my “real job” as a full-time teacher. Still, I know there are many other people out there who have done much of the same, while also crushing harder than I do. I guess what gives me something to talk about is the fact that I sometimes manage to do these things, with varying degrees of success, while also playing the all-important, and at times, climbing-antagonistic role of father. This madness all started a few years back, when upon our return from yet another carefree and blissful trip to Bishop, Staci and I found out our little family would be growing by one. After all the initial excitement and happiness, I have to admit, I started to think about how this would affect climbing… yes I have a problem. I’d seen many friends and strong climbers take a step back from climbing after having kids, and I was…

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Fighting the Fear, Part Deux

By | Bouldering, Climbing, Staying Healthy, The Interior, Trip Journal | No Comments

I have so many emotions when it comes to Bishop. It was one of the first places I ever climbed outdoors and it hooked me. I had been climbing for less than a year and Bishop made me truly fall in love with bouldering. The boulders are tall and scary, but the landings are flat and the approaches short. And the backdrop. It’s just an incredible atmosphere out there. It can also be chossy and grainy and sharp – and I love all of it. After climbing mostly indoors for the past couple months and setting some new standards for myself, I was ridiculously excited for our Bishop trip this past week. It was going to be as crowded as a Justin Beiber concert because of President’s Day, but we were going with a good crew and planned on just accepting the masses, or running away and climbing in more obscure locations. Before leaving for Bishop, I knew a few problems I wanted to get on, but nearly any problem in Bishop forces me to face my fear of falling. Spenser had mentioned that I should try the namesake problem on the Bowling Pin boulder. To be honest, I didn’t really take him seriously. I had a clear recollection of feeling like I was eons away from doing it last time I tried. It was decently steep, crimpy, and tall. Oh, and the nice slab finish. Ya right I did, however, realize that this was a perfect problem for me to project. It is within a doable grade range with…

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