I Don’t Write Enough for Myself And I Bet You Don’t Either

By | Adventure, Film, Musings, Trip Journal | No Comments

One of the RV Project’s favorite people, Flannery Shay-Nemirow, had a blog called Recounted Experience, and she used the following quote from Jean-Paul Sartre as a tagline: “For an occurrence to become an adventure, it is necessary and sufficient for one to recount it.” I liked that quote, although I didn’t think about it much. It just sounded good. The quote reminds me of the famous declaration, attributed to Socrates, that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” This is another series of words that sounds like a truism, though, again, I don’t think I ever knew exactly why it struck a chord. The following quote from an article in The New Philosopher addresses the extreme position Socrates is taking: In a world of abiding uncertainty and complexity one can recognize a certain attraction in not examining too much, for too long in life. Thus the allure of those who offer to provide clear answers, simple directions, precise instructions (whatever) so that you may set aside examination and merely comply, or unthinkingly follow custom and practice – perhaps living a conventionally moral life rather than an examined ethical life. One can easily imagine how pleasant an unexamined life might be. And it is for this reason that I think Socrates makes his claim so uncompromising. Flannery doesn’t update her blog anymore, sadly, but the aforementioned quote often pops into my mind when I feel the need to process some happenings, and recount them properly. Recounting 4 years ago, I put painful abrasions in my armpits by…

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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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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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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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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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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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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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A Visit From The Access Fund’s Ty Tyler

By | Conscious Climber Project, Ethics, Trip Journal | 5 Comments

Ty Tyler. Now there’s a name. Technically, it’s a nickname, but whatever you want to call him, Ty is the National Stewardship Director for the Access Fund. It’s his job to ensure long-term sustainability and stewardship of our climbing areas throughout the US. He travels more than we do. Ty worked a trip to La Madera into his schedule, and schooled us a bit about how to think about developing. Potential The first big question to answer is, “what’s the potential for this place to really blow up? How many people are going to be coming here?” We identified a few key attributes to look at that can help answer this question. Access- Is it close to the road? Is the road a good one? How long is the hike in? Number of climbs, particularly moderates- Is there enough to keep people interested? Will the concentration of climbs attract a broad spectrum of climbers? Is it only high end climbing? Camping- This one’s pretty self-evident. Climbers are often campers. Is it easy? Quality of climbing- Also self-evident. Distance- Is it close to large populations of climbers? Of course, there is no set formula to apply, but looking at examples of existing areas is always a nice model. Chaos Canyon, for example, is a million-mile hike into the stratosphere. But, it has good rock and tons of climbing, and it’s closer to the Front Range population centers than any other summer climbing destination, not to mention the scenery. Joe’s Valley isn’t…

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Real Shit in New Mexico

By | Bouldering, Climbing, Conscious Climber Project, Trip Journal | 6 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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