An Interview With Shadow Ayala, and the First Ascent of Banksy

By Bolt Clipping, Road Trip Beta25 Comments

I first met Shadow Ayala at Black Sheep Coffee in Bishop, CA a couple of seasons ago. I would see him occasionally, either working on his computer or climbing on my computer in one of his many Dead Point Magazine videos. I was curious as to what this character’s story might be. At the same time, I was apprehensive due to the fact that he, apparently voluntarily, had removed his eyebrows and replaced them with blue flames. I suspect that my initial reaction to Shadow – a blend of curiosity and judgmental uneasiness– is similar to that of many other people. By the end of our stay in the Red I would learn that, in a beautifully unscripted manner, Shadow wants it that way. As I began to spend more time in Bishop, we would cross paths more often and eventually begin to chat. I learned that he was psyched on first ascents, and rarely bouldered on anything in a guidebook. His Pretty Lights-laced movies catalogue many days spent searching out new stone in the Tablelands, and speak to his drive to explore his world further and deeper than most are willing to go. When I last saw him at Black Sheep, he was showing me photos of gargantuan virgin boulders in the White Mountains, across the Owens River Valley from the more popular Buttermilks. Fast forward to May 2012. Vikki and I run into Shadow on a warm Saturday at Drive-By Crag in the Red River Gorge, KY. He…

Read More

Just Like The Pros- On Set With Bob Scarpelli and Peter Mortimer

By Climbing, Stuff We're Psyched On, Trip Journal10 Comments

[I’m trying something new, posting the photos at the end of the article. Check-m-out.] I’m not going to start this blog post by apologizing for not updating. We’ve been busy with logistics and if you have a problem with that then we can fight to the death by the fires of Colorado. Which is where we are, and where we will be for several weeks. We even moved into a house! The RV (Residential Versatility) Project continues, and despite the record highs in Fort Collins, we couldn’t be happier to be in the epicenter of USA Climbing, which everyone knows is not Capen Park, Missouri. The Front Range is to the climbing scene what Hollywood is for the celebrity rehab scene. Case in point: We dropped the trailer in Brad’s driveway on Saturday. (Remember Brad, the chiseled hand-stand-walking offwidth master with laser-eyes, whom we met in Hueco?) On Sunday morning, we drove an hour north to Vedauwoo, WY to meet Pete, Bob, Nick and Becca. Pete is Peter Mortimer, who, along with Nick Rosen, runs Sender Films. Becca is a Sender employee until the fall semester at USC rolls around. The three Sender folks were filming for this year’s Reel Rock tour, specifically for a segment about off-width climbing. Brad had told them about the RV Project crew, and luckily for us, Sender was happy to have us along. Bob is Bob Scarpelli. We met him in the parking lot. He is 63, and conjures up a shorn version of…

Read More

5.10×10 and Hunter’s Rocks, PA

By Bouldering, Climbing, Trip Journal3 Comments

Watch out Alex Honnold. The new speed-climbing trad-masters are in town, and your reign on top shall not last long. In a remarkable display of endurance, guts, and athleticism, two relatively unknown climbers managed a feat heretofore unimagined at the Shawangunks. “We used to joke about how someday, Wolfgang Gullich’s grandson would be able to climb ten 5.10 routes in a day at the Trapps,” says guidebook author and Gunks veteran Dick Williams. “What these two did will inspire generations of future climbers.” Okay, so Dick Williams didn’t really say that, or at least not in reference to us. Here’s what really happened in our last few days at the Gunks. Also, mega-congratulations to Alex and Hans, for making the old Nose record look foolish. Vikki picked up a shift on Sunday, June 10, so we spent the day working at Bacchus, a pub with internet and hundreds of beers to choose from. While there, I saw on Facebook that Murph had a list of 3-star 5.10s he wanted to tick, and a few messages later we had a plan: Tackle ten 5.10s in the Trapps (the main cliff of the Gunks) the very next day. In contrast to the rain and humidity we’d been having, Monday turned out to be perfect. Temps were in the 60s, a breeze was blowing, the sun was kept at bay by the stratus layer, and it was dry. We met at the Bistro Mountain Store for coffee at 8:45, had breakfast, and headed…

Read More

HP40 II!! and Getting Traditional in the Gunks

By Climbing2 Comments

Finally! It’s up! Please enjoy, like, share, etc. etc. etc. Also, we finally did it. The social media trifecta has been completed, and we now have a Twitter account. Follow us at @thervproject, or else… Looking down the list of posts, it’s been a while since we updated you on the whats and wheres of our trip. In the spirit of keeping an online, public diary, let’s lightning-round our way through the past two weeks. Vikki and I departed Farley and drove to Providence. We met my parents, my grandfather and his wife, and my brother on Friday afternoon for the first in a series of massive, delicious meals. Throughout the weekend I indulged in many mortal sins, including gluttony, lust (college campus, nuff said), and envy. This was the second graduation in two weeks for us. We are a few years out of the college scene, and it was interesting to think back on my own college years and imagine the sense of infinite potential, of a whole world ahead that was dark and mysterious, like the part of the Starcraft map you haven’t explored yet. We saw students excited about the future, nervous about the future, and students who totally deny that the future even exists. I can relate: I never ever wanted to leave college, and I will probably go back to school when this road trip ends!

Read More

TNT: 6 Essential Rules of the Road

By Road Trip Beta3 Comments

Being able to climb across the United States has already been an experience we will never forget. Getting from California to Texas to Alabama (…and so on…) has also been memorable, but more of a memorable headache. The logistics of planning a road trip from state to state can get overwhelming. We’re hoping to ease this pain with the tips and helpful websites we’ve accumulated on our travels. We’ll continue to update this post as new tips ‘n’ tidbits come up! 1. Get a smart phone. To be more specific, get a Verizon smart phone. In our experience, Verizon has the best service across the United States. This is important because if you don’t have service, you won’t have access to the internet so your smart phone is essentially useless (except for possibly chucking at your travel partner when you get into a tiff). This will cost you about $50 more per month than a regular phone, depending on what type of data plan you go with, but it’s worth it. My Samsung Galaxy has been our lifeline. You can certainly go without it, but this allows us to plan as little as possible. UPDATE: I wrote this post before we arrived in New Paltz, NY. Verizon and New Paltz do not get along. Apparently, Sprint and AT&T are the carriers to have here. Everywhere else though, Verizon. I swear. This brings up a very important point: do not EVER plan on relying solely on your cell phone. Even in…

Read More

Farley Ledges

By Climbing, Local Beta7 Comments

Vikki and I spent the weekend in Boston watching Alec graduate and eating way too much food. There’s nothing like a Chinese family celebrating the success of its offspring to stop your diet plans in their tracks (we’ve been striding towards eating only plant-based foods). We did manage to visit Rock Spot Boston and drop off samples for Kevin, the retail manager. While there, we happened to meet Metro Rock gym manager John, who was at Rock Spot because he was avoiding the crowds! Apparently, MR is gigantic, but much more of a “scene.” After the weekend, we drove out to Farley. Vikki picked up a shift along the way, so we didn’t get there until Wednesday afternoon. A hilarious thing happened while hunting around for a place to stay, but I’ll relate that story later. The denouement is that we didn’t actually make it to climb until Thursday morning.

Read More

TTFN, Ta Ta For Now

By Trip Journal3 Comments

I tried many clever titles for this post: “Bye-ron,” “Byron Be Balling Back in Bloomington,” “The Glass is 2/3 Full,” and others you probably don’t want to know about. In the end, I chose a simple, easy, and I believe accurate phrase from Winnie the Pooh. I have an announcement to make. As some of you already know, Byron will no longer be a part of the RV Project. I’m not going to give you the boilerplate “pursuing other interests” explanation, as there’s way more to it than that. While our on-the-road phase might be over, our friendship is not, and that is why the “For Now” part of the title is important. Please read on.

Read More

Bloomtown to Beantown

By Trip Journal2 Comments

Vikki and I have driven a lot of miles lately. From Bloomington, we dropped off the trailer in Edinburgh, IN for repairs and drove all the way to the New River Gorge in the beautiful state of West Virginia. As the primary driver, I have to give Vikki what some refer to as mad props for her navigation skills. She stays awake, she pays attention to the road and can direct me anywhere, and keeps the snacks handy. We only had one day in the New, and let me tell you, it was not enough. Imagine the Red River Gorge, but with a more blocky, bouldery style of climbing on lighter-colored sandstone reminiscent of HP40. We arrived at some ungodly hour, like 3AM, and camped at the free camping below the Summersville Dam. It was our first night without the Pilgrim, and we slept, Bishop-style, on crash pads underneath the stars. We slept in pretty late, and we didn’t get to the crag until the early afternoon. Unfortunately, Vikki’s stomach was on the fritz again, and she was only able to do a few laps on the best 5.7 sport climb of all time, Hippie Dreams on the Orange Oswald wall, before calling it a day. She stayed and belayed, but wasn’t able to try hard. Summersville Lake is amazing. A 15 minute hike leads you to a stream and a waterfall, with a wooden ladder bringing you to the Coliseum, or as I like to call it, the Madness Cave of…

Read More

Cruise Control Killed My Transmission, or So You’re Thinking Of Towing

By Road Trip Beta2 Comments

Last week Jeline Guiles talked about how to plan a climbing trip. For a weekend, it’s no big deal. Strap pads to the roof of your Honda Accord or throw ’em in the back of the Subaru…a cooler for perishables and beer…sleeping bag. But for something of greater magnitude, like a week-, month-, or year-long trip, you’re going to need a more sustainable way of hauling yourself and your stuff, without having to pitch a tent every night. So maybe you want to do a long, misguided-adventure-filled deal like us, or maybe you want a lifestyle like couple named Ken and Jobi whom we met at the Red River Gorge. They work for a few months, then jump in their van and hit the road for the rest of the year. Either way, you might be considering a trailer. If you are, let me give you a quick taste of a beginning trailer driver. If you’re considering an RV, please reconsider. Please. How Big and What Kind? What’s your tow vehicle? You can pull with anything…Civics and U-hauls, for example. But if you want something you can live in, you’ll likely need something bigger. SUVs and pickups are your go-tos. Pickups will allow you to go with a 5th-wheel, which is advantageous for larger trailers as they reduce the overall length and improve maneuverability. On the other hand, 5th-wheels disallow you to have a camper shell, and reduce your storage for trips to/from the crag or into town. Check out tent-trailers….

Read More

TNT: A Beginner’s Guide to Planning a Climbing Trip

By Climbing8 Comments

Today’s post is from Climb On! Sister blog editor-in-chief and fellow Primo Chalk athlete, Jeline Guiles. As a bouldering dynamo and outdoor climbing aficionado, we thought Jeline could give us the lowdown on how to plan a successful climbing trip for all you outdoor virgins, or those who just need a refresher. Here’s a video from her February trip to Red Rocks in Nevada to get you psyched on getting outside! ________________________________________________________________________ So you’ve talked to some climbing buddies at the gym and are ready to plan your first climbing trip of the season (or first trip…ever), but don’t know where to get started? Planning your first climbing trip can easily become a daunting task without the right resources. There are a lot of questions you need to ask yourself: what gear do I need to bring? Where do I stay during my trip? What will the weather be like? How will I get around the area without a guide? And the list goes on. To make the planning process a little easier on you, I’ve created a mini-guide of things you should do/know in order to prepare yourself for your upcoming epic trip. The Climbing Area: Before making a decision on what climbing area you want to travel to, make sure to do some research. Talk to the climbers at your gym about any crags they suggest checking out. You want to choose an area that caters to the type of climbing you’ll be doing and the grades you’re…

Read More

RV Project Episode 6: Horse Pens 40 Bouldering

By BoulderingNo Comments

The new video is up! The first Horse Pens 40 Bouldering episode features some footage from our time in New Orleans, introduces the Schultz family and Kenny, and finishes with some gorgeous night climbing captured with the crane. We hope you like it, as it’s Vikki and I’s first stab at editing footage on our own. Let us know what you think, either here or on our Facebook page. Problems in the film: Bum Boy, Centerpede, Millipede, Hammerhead, Orchid, Hercules The RV Project spent the weekend in Bloomington, IN, the hometown of such RVP characters as the Byronian Yeti, Neal “1-Arm on Whateva” Sipahimalani, Matt “Gimp Stylez” Morse (who just sent Jesus Wept (.12d) with a bum ankle), Pat “Bionic” Lafree, and a whole lot of dogs. Indeed, the Wolter household is open, friendly, and full of golden cheer. If you ever wondered why Grumpy Golden appears at the start of our vids, wonder no more: Vikki and I will be dropping the trailer off for repairs in Edinburgh, then cruising Eastward towards the New River Gorge, then Duke, DC, New Haven, and finally Boston for my little cousin’s college graduation. Bloomington is a fun little town, and we look forward to returning in a couple of weeks, after all of our social obligations have been fulfilled. We got the Rebel T3i and will bring you photos and such from the long drive. Cheers til next time!

Read More

Never Stop Trying Hard

By Climbing8 Comments

Our time at the Red is winding down. Only two more days before we drive to Bloomington to visit Neal, Matt, Byron and the fam, and our new homie Patrick. We’ve been cranking hard on the HP40 videos, which will ultimately be two episodes. Episode one is looking awesome, and we are just waiting to get some solid internet to upload the beast (it’s kinda big…). Editing video means chopping out A LOT of very good footage. As they say, a museum is only as good as the stuff that isn’t on the walls (to spell it out for you, you must curate). Here’s a quick clip that didn’t fit in the Horse Pens episodes but is good enough for publishing. It’s one of those magic moments that was luckily caught on film (thanks to Kenny). This won’t be on the next Dosage, but it remains one of my favorite clips that we’ve shot. I wrote a bit last post about how trying hard is pretty much all I would ask of anyone out there climbing. This clip gets me as psyched to climb as any Dave Graham 5.15 FA in rural Switzerland. The story behind the video is that we were there in the canyon with lanterns and a whole gaggle of Louisianians, including Hudson, Sawyer, Blair and Ryan Terrill, and several other folks. There was a noob who’s name I can’t recall, but who embodied the spirit of try-hard. It was his first time ever climbing outside, and I…

Read More

TNT: For All Those Confused 20-Somethings

By Road Trip BetaNo Comments

The reasons behind us three 20-somethings going on a road trip across the United States were complicated. We were uncertain about where our lives were headed and we felt suffocated by the constraints of city life. Our conclusion was to go on this road trip because what we did know was we wanted to climb as much as our bodies could handle, discover what the rest of the United States had to offer, and make a difference by being positive forces in the climbing community and beyond through the connections we made in person, or through our blog and videos. After a little over 2 months of being on the road, we are having difficulty doing everything we wanted. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to write meaningful blog posts, make professional-grade videos, climb until our fingers falls off, meet all of the interesting people around us and then still watch an episode of the Sopranos at the end of it all. We realize the Sopranos are going to have to go (sorry, Tony) but we still feel that we need to reassess our priorities in order to make this trip as successful as it can be. We came on the road because we didn’t know where our lives were heading, but now we we’re not quite sure where this road trip is heading. We each have a lot of thinking to do…what exactly do we each want out of this? We’ll get back to you on the…

Read More

Yes, The Red Is As Good As They Say It Is

By ClimbingNo Comments

We have been at Miguel’s at the Red River Gorge for a little over two weeks now. The first thing that comes to mind is that the weather is a little bit like Tony Soprano’s behavior towards Anthony Jr.: totally unpredictable. It’s usually pretty warm, occasionally fair, but it can turn dark and stormy at the drop of a quickdraw. A hot, humid morning may turn into a breezy, cool afternoon. A chilly, dry morning might become a hot, muggy day. Quite often, the sky turns on the smackdown around 11pm, as bolts of lightning rip the clouds open and the rain threatens to drown the grass. Thankfully this is the sport of Sport Climbing, which requires much less by way of “good temps.” On top of that, most of the good lines are steep enough to stay dry during inclement weather. Poor Vikki has been nursing a hurt ribcage due to a fall that I made her take. Though her form was perfect, she ended up falling past a little roof and swinging in, hitting her side against the corner. She’s been climbing minimally, but has been maximally psyched. I gotta say, this girl doesn’t complain much and is really good about having the right attitude about things. If you can, find a travel companion like her. The rhythm of Miguel’s in early May is interesting, reminiscent of the Hueco Rock Ranch in early March. As in Hueco, we’re a little bit late for the season, so while we…

Read More

Ups and Downs: A Case of the Mondays

By Bolt Clipping, Musings, Trip JournalNo Comments

Sunday was awesome. After abnormally minimal debauchery on Saturday night, we all arrived at the Purgatory wall. Matt Morse and a French guy named Thierry had trundled off early to the Motherlode region, while fellow Primo Chalk athlete Neal Sipahimalani and his girlfriend Chelsea Sommer came with us in Bert to Purgatory with the main goal of ticking Lucifer, a heinously thin 5.14c that Neal’s been working on for a long time. After a warm-up, we watched Adam Taylor run a casual lap on Neal’s project. It was badass. Neal was unpsyched due to the heat but I think watching Adam got his heart racing, and he tied his 115-pound frame into the sharp end and climbed easily through the bottom section, falling two hard moves from the good rest in the middle. So close! Byron took off with his parents to spend some time at home in Bloomington, and we had to drop Neal and Chelsea off at the Motherlode parking lot so they could go home with Thierry and Matt. Since it was still early and I still had more juice in my forearms, I dragged Vikki up to the ‘Lode to check out this supposed insanity. I should mention that Vikki is currently in non-climbing mode because of a bruised rib. (I made her take a lead fall to get rid of the heebie-jeebies, and she got injured by irony, and a ledge.)

Read More

From Pebbles to Cliffs- AL to KY

By Bouldering, Trip JournalNo Comments

On Saturday, April 14, we unplugged our trailer, disconnected the water hose, wound up the jacks and hitched the Pilgrim up to Bert. We said our goodbyes to Anthony (who had chosen to take the day off of manual labor), Jeremy (who was dutifully tending the store, as usual), and of course, the ubiquitous Kenny (Kinny). The sun was shining as we slowly pulled out of Horse Pens 40 and eased down the curves of Chandler Mountain. After a quick detour to Mi Casita in the dinky town of Henagar, AL, we drove up to Chester Frost campground just north of Chattanooga, TN. Here were more hookups, which allowed us to get some editing done on the Alban video and relax with always-flowing water. Our neighbors were many and festive, par for the course on a Saturday night in a trailer park in the South. Weary were we, and anxious to check out the fabled Stone Fort AKA Little Rock City, so we headed to bed after the requisite Sopranos mini-marathon. We are addicted to the show and may require an intervention. (“Whatsa matta wi’you?”)

Read More

What Do Horse Pens 40 and The Force Have In Common?

By Bouldering, Film, Trip Journal11 Comments

This post is much delayed. I’ve sat down four times now to try and capture in words what our time in Horse Pens was like. So far, my words have failed me. I’m taking a stab at it, and please forgive the length of this post. And please enjoy our newest video! It’s of our last day in Hueco Tanks, where we climbed a bunch for ourselves. I got my hardest send, and Vikki cruised Orifice Affair. Also note the kung-fu yeti firing Smooth Move (V8). Then keep reading. Looking back now, a week since our departure, Horse Pens 40 feels like a pleasant dinner with the Soprano family. Laughter, some great people, and good food, but just under the surface is some dark matter that doesn’t reveal itself until you’re more involved. Like anything in life – climbing, love, Mafia dramas, the Force – there’s a light side and a dark side. The best way to detect both is to let the guards down and let go of our San Francisco sensibilities. After all, we’re guests on this land.

Read More

Anatomy of a Punt

By Bouldering, Musings, The InteriorNo Comments

What causes a climber to punt? What leads to the sudden and drastic failure of someone for whom success had seemed assured? The RV Project science team has just returned from the laboratory having analyzed, scanned, measured and weighed several punt samples. The following series of photos is a dissection of a recent punt, and should shed some light on this tragic disease that affects us all.

Read More

Alban the Annihilator and How We Found Our Groove

By Bouldering, Film, Trip JournalNo Comments

We’re in the city lovingly referred to as Chatty, our final leg of the “True South” bouldering exploration. We had our first day of climbing at Stone Fort yesterday and it, yet again, lived up to all the hype. Met some locals, fell a lot, and even sent a little (highlighted by Byron’s first V6 of the trip, The Wave); we are incredibly psyched to get back on the gritty sandstone tomorrow (as long as the rain subsides). More on Chattanooga soon, but first…Episode 4 is ready for your viewing! Our newest video is based on a conclusion we came to after leaving Hueco Tanks, Texas: every day in Hueco Tanks, someone you’ve never heard of does something impressive. There’s also usually someone hyper famous doing something along the same caliber, but that’s basic Hueco knowledge. This video is about Alban Besnier, mostly because he climbs strong, has a great attitude, and generally impressed us. The first day we climbed with Alban and his travel companion, Caroline, we went on a tour to East Mountain and he sent Liane, Sunshine, and Mojo – all in his signature shorts. He sent almost everything he touched that day, which was awesome to see, but what impacted the three of us the most was his spotting. Even though he climbed more than the rest of the climbers in the tour group combined, he was still an attentive and good spotter to each of us. That commitment blew us away and we each changed our…

Read More

The HP40 Way

By Bouldering, Climbing, Local Beta, Trip JournalNo Comments

Hey ya’ll! That’s right, we’re in the south now. ‘Bama. Steele, Alabama. Got lots to talk about but right now you need to be watching this little piece we put together about a crew of crazy crack climbers from Colorado. Underneath that, there’s a little piece I wrote about the climbing here in Horse Pens. Kinda blows Castle Rock, CA out of the water, but that’s not what this piece is about. It’s about humility. Enjoyment. Triumph and tragedy. And bouldering. Enjoy! I fell into the trap. At Hueco Tanks, the climbing is gymnastic. Straight-forward moves, steep terrain, rubber-smeared flakes and jibs and crimps and damn, if I could just crimp a little harder I would’ve cranked my first V-who-gives-a-shit.

Read More