Getting Thunderballed, and What To Do About It

By | Bouldering, Climbing | No Comments

Bouldering at one’s limit involves suspension of disbelief. At first the holds seem unmanageable, the sequence too cryptic, the moves too big. With enough hubris, confidence, or simple hard work, the climb begins to open up. Suddenly, one has completed a brand new set of moves. One has proven oneself equal to the challenge provided by nature and a first ascentionist. One has earned another tick in the guidebook. Great climbing literature is based on this titanic struggle of human flesh upon unfeeling, unflinching stone. In The Boulder: A Philosophy for Bouldering, Francis Sanzano correctly states that …one can learn all one needs to know about another by watching them boulder. We can discern if they are a fighter, if they make good decisions, if they are good under pressure…as if the skirt of consciousness has been lifted and they remain in the act, struggling like death before us. Boulders are the canvases upon which we may paint moments of greatness. But that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about the opposite. I want to talk about what happens when an easy-looking boulder problem turns you around, yanks your pants down to your knees, and spanks you…or as I like to call it, “getting Thunderballed.”

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The Power of The ‘Book

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

The clouds have parted and a heatwave has now hit Squamish. But, hey, we’ll take that over the rain. We’ve lost a lot of good folks the past week due to the sub-optimal weather conditions and it simply being the “time to go.” There’s a small contingent of us left, but the season for tent villages in the Chief campground is over. I think most of us have stopped checking the weather report- we now understand we are living in a temperate rainforest and the rain gods will do what they please, without warning and for-better-or-worse.

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How to Climb in Squamish

By | Bouldering, Climbing, Local Beta | No Comments

When people come to Squamish for summer bouldering (and many, many people do), they often get bouted by climbs that, numerically speaking, are well within their abilities. I experienced it, and I think most people have the same feeling to some extent or another. People blame poor feet, cryptic granite, painful crystals, and humid conditions, but the real story here is that the climbing in Squamish is Yosemite-style technical, and quite varied; it requires a break-in period of several sessions.

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Summer Lovin’ – Slug Style

By | Local Beta, Trip Journal | No Comments

Last night, as Spenser was walking back from the toilet to our trailer, a pair of inconspicuous slugs caught his eye. As we sat mesmerized, we were not prepared for the other-wordly experience we were in for… This further confirms our supposition that Squamish is undoubtedly a magical forest. Enjoy the weirdness of nature- you just can’t make this sh*t up! 🙂

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29 Celebrations

By | Bouldering, Climbing | 11 Comments

[vimeo w=700 h=394] On July 15, I turned 29. I normally do a Birthday Challenge on these occasions, of varying levels of involvement (click to read about years 24 and 26). This year I wasn’t sure what Squamish would be like, and I procrastinated mightily in the planning. But after a few days enjoying the boulders in the magical forest, it seemed that nothing could be better than trying to do 29 of the “Top 100” boulder problems the guidebook has to offer.

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Totally Squasome

By | Trip Journal | No Comments

I’m in the Chief Stawamus Municipal Campground in Squamish, British Columbia, sitting underneath a large redwood, the thick branches obscuring most of the sky directly above. Thanks to their cover, I’m able to type this blog post outside during a rain shower, while boulderers stream back to the campground for shelter. In front of me is a beautiful mural painted on the side of the trailer, an inquisitive elephant gazing out through a drippy, bright, scribbled jungle of color. Just beyond our trailer I can see the end of Lord Howe Sound, where kiteboarders are zipping about and leaving fleeting white trails of wake. The waters, multicolored from two rivers meeting the ocean, are contained by forested slopes with granite outcrops that peak at thousands of feet, a vaguely fjord-ish juxtaposition that reminds us of the glacial past.

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Tow Truck Confidential

By | Climbing, Staying Healthy, The Interior, Trip Journal | 6 Comments

Damn, it feels good to be back. On the road, that is. I haven’t written in a while, mostly because I’ve been doing my best to keep busy since we arrived back to the Bay Area. If I am doing other stuff, I don’t think about climbing. If I don’t think about climbing, I don’t get sad. Good plan. Right? Meh, it was an okay plan, but it’s the best one I could think of under a looming depression. Well, that sounded depressing. Let’s go with hovering depression. More hovering than looming. Anyway… I show no perceptible signs of injury (albeit a slightly swollen left middle finger). I am also not hindered or unable to do anything else except for climb. The single thing I’ve obsessed over and devoted the majority of my time to this past year. I guess I should mention that I also can’t give people the middle finger with my left hand, but that bothers me slightly less. 😉 Not climbing naturally creates an emptiness that I’ve been desperately trying to fill.

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New Bouldering in the Bay??

By | Bouldering, Gym Climbing, Local Beta | No Comments

We love going to popular climbing destinations, but we also love to explore new areas. That’s why I was really psyched to return to the Bay Area and hear about a new crag called Dogpatch. I’ve already checked out most of the climbing that the Bay has to offer, so getting an opportunity to take a look at a new area was too sweet to pass up. We got some directions from our friend and local climber Lauryn Claassen and headed over to San Francisco. Our other good friend Jeremy Ho, who also makes frequent RV Project appearances, was there to meet us.

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You Can’t Go Home Again

By | Climbing, Local Beta | No Comments

Firstly, sorry for the dearth of climbing updates. We’ve been in the Bay Area now for two weeks, and haven’t touched rock in that time. I’ve been focused on the newest video project, which will hopefully be completed in the next two weeks (I say that, but when has an estimate like that ever been accurate??). I’m also trying my hardest to get strong in the gym. Vikki is still nursing her poor finger, which as of now is still swollen. She hasn’t begun climbing again yet, but will be hopefully working her way back into it before the end of the month. Briefly, I’d like to wrap up Santa Barbara, and mention that anyone in California looking for a climbing weekend could do a lot worse than heading to this sandstone paradise. When we were college students (I graduated in 2007), it was our beloved chosspile, and places like Bishop were meccas. Now, I see Santa Barbara as my climbing “home,” where I first experienced “pump” and “flappers” and broken holds. I climbed my first V1-8 there. The place has changed, though, and I might argue for the better. The first and foremost change is the introduction of a real climbing gym, the Santa Barbara Rock Gym. It’s in the heart of SB, right on State Street, and it finally provides a community space for climbers. Before, we had some poor excuses for climbing walls: The UCSB rec center, Goleta Valley Athletic Club’s outdoor wall, and a smattering of…

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Doing the Impossible

By | Climbing, Trip Journal | No Comments

A couple of weeks ago I did the impossible. I sat down at the bottom of the Trojan Arete, pulled on, got to the top, and walked off the back. You may not have heard of this climb. It’s a V8 (or 5.13b, according to Ocean’s 11, the best bouldering guidebook ever written). It’s at the Painted Cave area in Santa Barbara, which consists of two boulders straddling a windy road. The problem in question was created in part by demolition equipment widening the road so that trucks could pass. The landing is AKA a road, and the pads must be moved when a car drives through. All this is to say that the climb is not 5 stars. It doesn’t suck, that’s for sure. But it’s not High Plains Drifter, Easy in an Easy Chair, See Spot Run, Speed of Life, or another boulder problem good enough that you’d heard of it before you visited. It is, however, one of the harder and prouder problems in Santa Barbara, and therefore it was on my bucket list. I began my climbing life in Santa Barbara, and Painted Cave is an obvious bouldering spot because of its accessibility. The Trojan Arete was one of those climbs that we looked at and figured we might one day be qualified to try. Still, that day seemed forever away. We worked Heavy Traffic (V3) instead. One day, a few years ago, Daniel Kovner and I were there while our local legend Bernd Zeugswetter calmly ran a lap on the climb. I think…

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Full Circle

By | Climbing, The Interior, Trip Journal | No Comments

We are back in Santa Barbara (actually, we’re back in Berkeley now, but I began this post in sunny Santa Barbara). We woke up early enough to catch sunrise in Zion National Park before charging through Arizona and Nevada. California, especially Santa Barbara, was a sight for sore eyes. The cool breeze tinged with sea salt wafted through our rolled down windows. We were definitely ready to be back, which is always refreshing on a road trip. Often you leave a place before you feel ready and that’s always a bit unsettling. It felt really good and really right to be back. After 1 year, 2 months, and 17 days, our road trip had come full circle- our first stop when hitting the road last year was Santa Barbara. I was incredibly happy that Spenser agreed to go back to Arches and Canyonlands. It was definitely a bit out of our way from Joe’s Valley to Santa Barbara, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity! I can assume that I will be by these places again later in life, but what if I’m not. Better to not assume, I think. 🙂 Over a year ago when we started this road trip, we had different goals. I think a year ago, we would have argued to pass up these sights just to get to the next climbing destination. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when our road trip mentality changed, but it was likely when both Spenser and I began to ride…

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On Dreams and Family

By | Road Trip Beta, Trip Journal | 5 Comments

This past weekend, Vikki flew to Phoenix for the weekend to help her college friend Anna celebrate graduation from medical school. I drove her to the airport in Salt Lake City, and rather than drive 2.5 hours back to Joe’s Valley, I stayed until she flew back on Monday. During her absence, I was graciously put up by our friends Max and Emmy, whom we met in Las Vegas through Alana, whom we met in Colorado. Max and Emmy are about my age, married, and living in a home they own in Salt Lake City. They have a dog named Sampson and five ducks in the backyard. They have a circle of friends, they have people over for BBQs, they go bouldering on the weekends, and they make long-term plans. They “have their shit together.”  Visiting and talking to people like this used to make me uncomfortable. The twenties has been called The Defining Decade, the period when you’re supposed to achieve all sorts of lifetime milestones like settling into a career, settling into a house, and intentionally building toward some grand future. We are not really doing any of those things. Vikki’s friend is now Dr. Ward. My best childhood friend just earned his Master’s. I ran away from academia 6 years ago. Vikki let her GMAT scores expire. I don’t have to tell you that things are changing from the white-picket-fence dreams of the past, that our generation is more capricious than any previous one. The New York…

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Commitment

By | Climbing, Trip Journal | 2 Comments

Today I fly out to Phoenix to reunite with some of my closest friends from college, all of them my sorority sisters. In college, I was in a sorority. I also used to have long hair. I think that’s it for the confessions for today. Let’s just safely assume that I was a different person before I began climbing. Scratch that, less a different person, more that I had different interests. Our mutual friend, Anna, is graduating from medical school this weekend. Medical School. She’s going to be a doctor. I’m living in a trailer. The only reason that this actually affects me is that Anna and I used to be on the same path. Anna was the first person I met in college. We met in line waiting for our dorm room assignments, ended up living across the hall from each other and even joining the same sorority. We have been good friends since that very first day that we met, when I was wearing a bright pink Juicy Couture jumpsuit. Okay, that was seriously the last confession. You should definitely Google my outfit choice if you’re not sure what I was wearing. Nevermind, I’ll just post a picture below to give you an idea. So where/when did Anna and I diverge?  We can go into all the differences that we have, starting with the fact that I’m a brunette and she’s a blonde, but the only difference that matters is commitment. 9 years ago, Anna committed to becoming…

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Midnight Enlightening

By | Bouldering, Climbing | 2 Comments

If you haven’t heard by now, a friend by the name of James took the drastic step of erasing the lightning bolt on Midnight Lightning. As you can imagine, this caused quite the stir. Facebook comment strings, Reddit threads, and of course the comments on James’ blog post (not to mention on his Facebook wall) indicated, for the most part, that people disagree with what he did. Some were vehement, some were articulate and well-reasoned, and some settled for pithy insults. After a day to marinate on the event and fallout, I’d like to jot down my thoughts before they are lost, swept away by time like the chalk was brushed away from the Columbia Boulder. Upon first reading the post, I felt ambivalent towards the action itself. I did feel admiration for someone who would dare to remove such an icon and then claim responsibility. I felt there must have been some strong justification for it, even if it was not well articulated in the blog post. I also enjoyed the photo of Nik Berry climbing ML, but with the caption “Nik Berry on an unknown problem.” James is a witty writer and I’ve always enjoyed his blog. I want to point out, for those unaware, that James has some cred in the valley. He’s not a nobody, he’s not a misguided gym rat. He earned a Valley nickname and has established big wall routes. I respect the hell out of his climbing life. Perhaps it was this respect…

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Settling Joe’s

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

Spenser and I have been in a back-and-forth injury competition for months. I guess I have the heads up right now, though this is one competition I want both of us to lose. Currently, Spenser is back in action and gaining strength back rapidly. His progress has been raising my spirits and giving me something to look forward to when my pulley injury fully heals. It’s been exactly two weeks since the pop and my finger is feeling much better, although not close to 100% yet. I just received my Acupressure Massage Rings in the mail yesterday, so I’m hoping a daily rub-down with these babies will speed up the healing process. If you are a climber (or someone who works with their hands frequently), these rings are a must! The rings range from giving you gentle to greater pressure, depending on your needs and finger size. I ended up buying a pack of 3 from Amazon since I wasn’t sure what I would prefer (I think I like them all, depending on my mood for massage). From my research, it seems like you can use them as frequently as you would like to increase circulation while breaking up scar tissue. You won’t believe how good your tired fingers will feel… I tried climbing for the first time a couple days ago. Sadly, my finger is not ready to hold onto anything except for a sloper (no jugs, no crimps, no flat edges). I taped my finger for support while…

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Recovery Road is a Long One

By | The Interior, Training, Trip Journal | One Comment

Until our last day of climbing in Red Rocks, Las Vegas, I hadn’t bouldered since December 21st. That was the day I somehow fell from the pinch on Saigon Direct, missed the pads, and cracked my heel in two. I wanted to use the forced rest period to address another injury of mine, that being chronic tendonitis of the right elbow, or medial epicondylosis if you’re inclined to use specific terms. Nearly 4 months and hours and hours of physical therapy later and I cannot say that it’s gone. I can say, however, that my condition has improved, and I am now back to trying hard. Except for a couple of days of sport climbing, I didn’t climb in Bishop after the foot injury. Three months later, As a reintegration to movement, Evan Ludmer and I did a little bit of trad climbing in Vegas, ticking the incredible classics Epinephrine and Sour Mash. At this point, my elbow wasn’t really hurting, but still made the crepitus-like noise that it has been making all year. I figured that keeping the climbing to a vertical 5.9/5.10 level would be okay, and it was. I decided to try some easy bouldering. For the purposes of this blog post, I’m using grades to discuss relative strength within one person (me). It is not my intention to use grades as ego markers. They are brought up here only to illustrate a point, and in our idiosyncratic sport, grades are the best approximation we have for a standard rubric. For the first couple…

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Blogpost Challenge: Go Outside

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

As soon as I walked into the Food Ranch this morning, I realized I had made a mistake. Since popping a pulley, I’m keeping my hands off the boulders for the next couple weeks. I tagged along yesterday and snapped some photos while the gang went bouldering, so I thought I would go do some work on the computer today. Now, I’m alone upstairs at the Food Ranch and it’s really depressing. I should be outside. Why am I not outside? I made that mistake again. When given the choice between hanging indoors versus outdoors for the day, I chose indoors. Oof, what a fool. So today, I challenge everyone to learn from my mistake. If you have the chance to be outside, take it. If you don’t think you have the time, make it!! I’ll leave you with the lovely musings of John Pels from Timothy  McSweeney’s Internet Tendency (click on the link to be able to read it a bit easier on the site). Spenser just called and is coming to save me from my Food Ranch prison! Yes, going outside! …Might tweet about it 😉

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In Celebration

By | Bouldering, Climbing, The Exterior, Training, Trip Journal | 4 Comments

Last week, we met Katie and Niko at the local Joe’s Valley watering hole, The Food Ranch. The similarities were pretty conspicuous from the get-go: another couple on a year-long road trip, blogging and videoing their way through the experience. The main difference is that they are 2 months in, while we’re on year 2. We immediately got along great and became fast climbing partners and even (gasp) friends. As the amiable couple left to Moab for the week, Spenser and I mulled over a large realization they had brought to our attention: we’ve been on the road for almost 14 months! This awareness was a bit shocking to both Spenser and I. The year-mark came and went, without the least bit of recognition. It was an organic occurrence for us, it didn’t mean nothing to us, but it didn’t exactly mean anything either. Why didn’t we celebrate? Wait, celebrate what? “Congratulations on living your life,” seems very silly to me. I should mention I’m also not much for celebrating birthdays. Celebrating a year of being on the road is along the same vein. At least now I know why Spenser and I have been having such a difficult time answering people when they keep asking us how much longer we’ll be on the road for. The short answer is, we don’t know. We can’t really think about it. This is our life. We’re happy, much happier than we were in the Bay Area. We still enjoy gong back to…

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