Skip to main content

7 Years of Joe’s Valley Fest

By Bouldering, Musings, Trip JournalNo Comments

Coming back to Joe’s Valley after a 2 year hiatus felt like we had come home, after what felt like significantly longer than 2 years. I have missed the people and the place like a piece of me was misplaced. This year was the first where I was able to fully step away from my roles as Marketing Manager and Sponsorship Coordinator. Patrick and Katherine are in the drivers’ seats, respectively, and I took on a Master’s in Public Health program. I still don’t have the words to encompass how honored I felt to witness where the Fest is at now. On the drive back to Bishop, Spenser and I looked back to the beginning. How the Joe’s Valley Fest came to be feels like a series of disjointed events: a bunch of boulderers living in the dirt, a town clean-up, and a message from Amanda to the Joe’s Valley Bouldering Facebook page. With this message, Amanda reached Steven Jeffrey and his then-girlfriend, now-wife Adriana Chimaras. I’ve never looked back on these messages until today. I thought this one below is particularly hilarious. Just goes to show how little we knew about event planning at the time… The Fest sure has morphed through the years. From the frigid inaugural Fest in 2015 where we realized this was going to be a lot more work than we imagined, and that Thanksgiving was not a good time for a Festival in central Utah. To the sunny and small one in 2016 when…

Read More

Something Not Terribly Difficult: A Stroll Up Mt. Emerson

By Adventure, ClimbingNo Comments

Mountain scrambling is rad. It’s also dangerous. The objective hazards-loose rock, weather–change the risk equation. By “not terribly difficult,” I’m referring to the experience in a very subjective way. Consider yourself disclaimed. I’ve dabbled in some big stuff before, but don’t consider myself an endurance athlete per se. I just think there are some awesome ways to link up features by traveling quickly in the mountains, like the Tuolumne Tenaya-Matthes-Cathedral day. My brother and I have done a couple of big ol’ hikes in Yosemite, one of which I’d be surprised if anyone else has done it (Curry Village to Mt. Hoffman via Cloud’s Rest, then back to Curry Village via Snow Creek). I proudly claim the slowest known time for a single push on Utah’s infamous WURL. And of course, hiking across the Sierras to go bouldering just sounds cool. I can’t say as I’m interested in endurance racing though. It’s more about sharing a special effort in special places with special people, or, if solo, it’s about the solitude. It’s not about slotting into a ranking of people doing the same thing. (Nothing against FKTs and all that jazz. I think it’s an awesome semi-formal competition that rewards creativity as much as athleticism. Part of the fun for me is not taking the time aspect too seriously.) Anyway, my FKT buddy Ryan Tetz (we did a video last year) and I had been talking during quarantine about getting out to do some mountains. For a Bishop resident, Mt….

Read More

Now & Then

By Stuff We're Psyched On, Trip JournalOne Comment

I guess it’s pretty telling that the last time I was compelled to add to this blog was when COVID first came around, over a year ago. I wrote, “Most of us don’t know it yet, but society will be dramatically different when the crisis is over. I believe, like Spenser, we can all work together to make it an improved one. To me, this feels like a restart, a second-chance – for each community, and our entire globalized world.” And I guess I went all in. 2 months ago, shortly after moving into our new home in Bishop, I started an online Master’s in Public Health program at UC Berkeley. As Spenser mentioned last week, he’d rather have a father than a house, and I would also rather have a father-in-law. But, I am nonetheless grateful for our newfound stability. In preparation for the workload, I’ve left most of my duties at Joe’s Valley Fest (in very capable hands, I might add). I’m still on the Board, but no longer manage Marketing or Sponsorships, this is done by a new guy who works with experts from indexsy. The RV Project is still a production company, and we are still working on editing the now-infamous-to-all-our-family-and-friends Steve Project. The stability has allowed for progress that needs to be appreciated, even though we habitually feel years behind. Years behind what you might ask? Yea, exactly… Photo and video work is evermore important. COVID has amplified how significant the role of misinformation is…

Read More

Something Pretty Hard: Hiking Across the Sierras for Bouldering

By Adventure, Bouldering, Climbing9 Comments

As seems to be typical, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything here. Frankly, it’s been a while since I wrote anything more consequential than an email. There are reasons I haven’t been writing. Most of them don’t really matter for our purposes here. The main reason is I hadn’t done much that I wanted to write about, and so the things I would write about would be stuff I haven’t done. And as I speed toward the milestone marking the end of my 37th year as a breathing, eating, shitting clump of cells, I find less and less satisfaction in knowing my pockets are full of mumbles (such are promises). So, the big news is, The RV Project is now headquartered in Bishop, CA. From 30’ monstrosity to 10’ wooden box to 12’ metal box to, finally, a 1972 A-frame with 2 bedrooms (go to tv bed store to buy a bed for yourself as if you were at the hotel) and 2 bathrooms. The trailer is now parked in our own driveway which recently was refinished with a driveway sealer, and there’s a garage for our stuff. Home improvement projects outnumber climbing projects 10:1 right now. Overall, we’re incredibly happy with the place, and with the concept of home ownership in general, but it’s bittersweet. We could afford this in part because my dad died, and I’m getting some inheritance. But I’d rather have a dad than a house. And it sucks that he doesn’t get to…

Read More

Choppers, Choss, and Chaparral

By Musings, Trip JournalNo Comments

The last time we caught up was before Halloween 2020. Aye, it’s been about 4 months, in fact. Jeez. The RV Project has been regrouping. The past 12 months have been hard and weird for everyone, and the 10 months before that were pretty fucked up for us too. As far as I am aware, I’ve never had a proper concussion, but if I understand the symptoms correctly, then it would be fair to say that we’re recovering from something of a Traumatic Brain Period. We’re a little disoriented, we’re a little more irritable and quick-tempered, and we fatigue easily. Sensitive to bright light, too. After spending the better part of 2 years helping my parents navigate Life With Cancer (and a few months helping my mom embark on Life as a Widow), we now find ourselves in sunny San Diego, La Jolla to be precise. We’ve rented an apartment a few blocks from Vikki’s parents for a few months, so that we can help them navigate Life As Lonely Immigrants. Let me tell you something: Fuck La Jolla. Yeah, it’s expensive, but it’s not that. It’s the way people scoop up their dogs when they see Little Dude, because they don’t actually have dogs, they have Urban Accessories, and accessories don’t need to socialize. It’s the way that store clerks, especially California Bicycles in La Jolla, size up your wallet with a glance and decide if you’re worth a smile or not. It’s the straight-faced existence of businesses like…

Read More

Fuck Cancer. I Miss My Dad.

By MusingsNo Comments

My dad never taught me how to ride a bike. At about 12 years old, I learned how to ride a bike that my parents had gotten for my little brother’s 6th birthday. Riding bikes became a big part of my life fairly quickly, and if it weren’t for the fact that climbing has my heart, I’d probably be either a spandex-wearing slick-tire racer, or putting together epic bikepacking journeys. As it is, I recently picked up a more aggressive, full-suspension rig off of Craigslist, and mountain biking is beginning to compete for my time in a very serious way. My dad never taught me how to ride a bike because he didn’t know how to ride a bike. His parents wouldn’t allow him to learn. I ended up teaching him in 2011, because my friends and I had organized a Burning Man camp and invited the family along, and without a bike my dad would’ve been severely limited on the playa. Lately I’ve been lingering on the little idiosyncrasies that made my dad who he was, both as an individual and as a pater familias. I had always enjoyed saying “I taught my dad how to ride a bike,” because it’s a reversal of a common sentiment (ie fathers teaching sons how to do basic childhood things) that feels almost like wordplay. Nowadays, it reminds me of how toxic and oppressive my dad’s mother was, and how unpleasant it was to visit the grandparents, and how little it seemed…

Read More

A New Video! Norman’s 13

By Adventure, Climbing, Stuff We're Psyched OnOne Comment

It’s been about 4 months since we last updated the blog. The pandemic was in its infancy, and Bishop was starting to get unpleasantly warm. Now it’s August, in this foul year of our Lord 2020, and trying to summarize the past quarter feels like a hopeless task. It’s also hard to concentrate on much of anything right now, thanks to the unbreathable atmosphere hanging over California. Times like these make you grateful for your friends, and at this moment in particular, I’m thankful my buddy Ryan Tetz for an excuse to update this space with some words and images that have nothing to do whatsoever with Covid19, the election, mass protests, or any of the other crap I’ve been dwelling on lately. Y’all might remember me talking about Ryan Tetz in the past. He’s an ER nurse, and was working at the ER in Bishop when I went in for a broken foot way back in ’12. We’ve been friends ever since. The last time I wrote about him here, he’d just pioneered a bike route across California (it took him about 27 1/2 hours to go from the ocean to Nevada). Since then, he’s bettered his record on the human-powered Badwater to Whitney (13 hours 16 minutes), done the first known triple-Sierra-crossing on a bike, set the record for all California 14ers human-powered, and a host of other very absurd challenges. Go check out his blog, where he introduces himself thusly: When I was 9 years old we…

Read More

What I Love About COVID-19

By Climbing2 Comments

Kinda nothing, but at least I appreciate the novelty of this whole lockdown thing. We are the caged birds, finding our singing voices. We are training as if it’s only a matter of time before we’re either back on the rocks, or dead from Coronavirus, and we are going to be either fit as fuck, or dead but beautiful. Fifty (50) 3/8” bolts should arrive today, and the sun’s out. Escapism: it’s never been more important. This morning’s toilet reading included a few articles from the National Review, because I wished to know what the poly-syllabic conservative punditry thought about things. In an all-too-familiar manner, the Andrew McCarthy’s of the world are lashing out at the prognosticators. The push right now is to discredit (and direct vitriol toward) the IHME, because they had the temerity to attempt to model the outcomes of this pandemic, and because they have now twice revised the model’s results to predict fewer American deaths. Back in my science days, the battle between those attempting to sound the alarm over climate change and those attempting to discredit the entire concept of science was at its ugliest. There were hacked emails and snowballs in Congress, and all the while we kept destroying coral reefs and driving to work. If we just grow the economy, the Right said, then technology that we haven’t even dreamed of will rescue us…besides, they said, clutching their pearls on behalf of the poor, it would be unfair and even racist to try…

Read More

How About a Climbing Update?

By Climbing, MusingsNo Comments

Ain’t no climbing! F’reals. The gyms are closed, Owens River Gorge is closed, the Happies and Sads are closed, and the Buttermilks are about to be. As I’ve said before, I’m on Team It-Don’t-Matter, since I’m also still on Team Rehab. I would never wish for good people to be prevented from climbing, but I am definitely benefiting from the absence of envy. I may not be doing Soulslinger this season, but neither will anyone else, haha! Talking to my parents, who are in quarantine in the Bay Area, it sounds like the public there is quite panicked, and very wary of each other. My mom tells me that people aren’t smiling at each other in the grocery store anymore; her observation is that those who choose to appear friendly these days are almost exclusively ethnic minorities. I can’t really comment on that aspect; around Bishop, people seem to be pretty friendly while keeping their distance. In the first 2 weeks of March, barely anything had changed at all in terms of folks’ behavior. The last 2 weeks we saw checkout queues with zones taped on the floor 6’ from one another, and Main Street has hardly any pedestrians at all. So, here in RV Project world, we are climbing on the trailer-woodie waaay more often than we ever thought we would. The weather this week is warm and sunny, and when there’s no wind, we can lower the wall without losing all of our important documents. In fact, when…

Read More

Contrast

By Climbing, Food for thoughtNo Comments

The first time I picked up a camera, it wasn’t called a “phone.” It had weird numbers all over it, and when you got near the end of a roll of film, you were never sure if you’d get a free extra shot or two before having to rewind the roll and get it developed. Now we’ve all got cameras in our pockets, and software on those cameras for image editing. Photographs can be awesomely powerful. Indeed, they can change history. The Vietnam War is, to me, an incredible example of how a few images can tell a deeper, more visceral story than the finest wordsmiths. There are plenty of other examples throughout history. Another that leaps to mind is the work of Dorothea Lange in Manzanar. What are the first sliders you tweak when editing an image? We all have our own workflows, but it’s likely that “Contrast” comes to mind. What a concept, eh? The farther apart we pull the luminance values of highlights and shadows, the more distinction we get between objects in an image. Conversely, an image with very high contrast (how about that photo of Tommy jugging on El Cap during golden hour, while Kevin sits on the portaledge scrolling Pornhub Instagram?) grabs the attention a certain way, and only after some time spent with the image can the viewer begin to integrate the light and dark portions into an interconnected scene. There has been much contrast in the world lately. Contrast is good, because…

Read More