Rest, Recovery, and the Return

By Staying Healthy, The ExteriorNo Comments

It’s Saturday, February 2nd, and we have been here in Kensington for a bit over two weeks. This brief return trip was for the purposes of R&R, as well as celebrating my father’s 66th birthday, and sending off my little brother Eliot to Miami for his first big-boy job. Congratulations Eliot! It’s been just over 6 weeks since I broke my heel. I think I went through the typical stages (Kübler-Ross) of: Denial- “I think it’s just bruised…” Anger- “Ah shit. I think it’s broken” Bargaining- “It’s okay, I’ll just do lowballs” Depression- When I realized that crutches were becoming a regular, accepted, and even familiar part of my life, I started to get really depressed. Acceptance- This stage should’ve come sooner, but I think it only really came today. I wish I could inspire you with this post. I wish I could tell you that my time off the rock was productive and instructive. I wish I could tell you I trained my weaknesses, learned a foreign language, edited ten videos and had time to campus train. I wish I could write a post about how to stay positive when the main purpose for your trip, indeed, your greatest passion in life is snatched from you in a freakishly mundane accident. For the first few weeks, I weathered the storm pretty well. I drank what must be record volumes of coffee at the Black Sheep. I mastered my crutches. I won $50 playing Blackjack in Las Vegas, and another $50 at the Paiute Palace. I…

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The Tale of the Burning Man Wall

By Stuff We're Psyched OnNo Comments

We are still in the Bay Area. Vikki’s got more work hours this week than most 9-5 people do, and I’m almost to the point of walking without crutches, so we’ll be back on the road soon (Sunday is the new goal). Bishop awaits, and the infamous Byron Wolter will be flying in this weekend for his birthday challenge, which we’ll of course be there to support. In the meantime, the exciting news (besides almost being able to walk again, woohoo!) is that Dead Point published a little article I wrote up about that time we took a climbing wall to Burning Man, in 2011! We even made a video about it. It’s at the bottom of the above article. Click on it. Read. Watch. Also, here’s a link to our blog when we were building that wall. Even now, two years later, it’s fun for us to look back on. In other news, we’re still crunching away at the video of Elliot Faber doing ZAP. It promises to be a good one, just need to get some more B Roll footage when we return to Bishop, and we’ll be all set. TTFN! (Ta Ta For Now!)

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Back When Spenser Had Two Good Heels…

By Bouldering, ClimbingNo Comments

…he sent Xavier’s Roof! A nemesis rig from last year that went down quickly once we arrived back in Bishop late last year. Our friend, Jeramie Hildenbrand, from Project Wingspan did a fantastic edit: You have to watch the entire video, my favorite part is at the end (my best piece of filming work I’ve done to date, hehe). For a quick update, Spenser and I are back in the Bay Area for a bit. Oddly enough, Spenser was getting tired of sitting at Black Sheep all day, every day (and it was his Dad’s birthday on Saturday). Having both caught the flu, we figured we would take a hint and head up to Berkeley for some R&R. We’ve mostly been catching up with friends, enjoying his parents incredible cooking, and ending up pleasantly plump while not climbing. It’s time for me to get my lazy bum to the gym today, actually looking forward to visiting GWPC in Oakland! I bet all of the problems will be brand new to me! 😉 Hopefully back to Bishop this weekend (pending weather) with some renewed vigor to take down High Plains Drifter a la Miss Alison Bagby! AND Spenser should be losing the crutches in the next week or so, yay!

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La Vie Sans Pied

By Staying HealthyNo Comments

After a quick tour of the bouldering in Vegas, we’re back in our lovely little trailer in the Pit campground in Bishop. I’m getting pretty used to the gimp life. My left heel has been broken for nearly three weeks, and I won’t be able to put any weight on it for another few weeks. Being injured on a climbing trip is not my first choice, but all things considered, I’m not too disappointed. The biggest change is that I’m not climbing. Instead, I’ll crutch out to the boulders and watch Vikki, Steve, Angie, and others trying their projects. I offer beta when possible, take photos, and read. When the urge strikes, I’ll hop around and fondle holds, but I’m being  extra cautious of climbing anything, for two reasons. One, a fall could be disastrous. Two, I’m taking this opportunity to give my elbow tendonitis some time to heal. I had never seen the boulders of Red Rocks before, and it was fun to hobble around and add problems to my mental ticklist. Due to the holidays, we encountered many climbers whom we knew from the Bay Area and elsewhere. However, seeing dozens of people doing what I couldn’t was almost too much to bear. It’s like Vikki hobbling around a non-gluten-free bakery: the torture of temptation. Still, it’s good to remind myself of what awesome climbs are out there. It would be easy to forget about climbing, to feel like my return is so far off that it doesn’t…

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Into the New Year

By Climbing, Staying Healthy, Trip Journal4 Comments

When starting this post, it was only five days into 2013 and I was watching people all around me break their New Year’s resolutions already. I guess that’s expected in Sin City? Vegas can be fun, for a short period of time. And by the 5th of January, I felt like we had outstayed our welcome. The trip started out great, being able to catch up with Miss Alana and getting to know her Portland home-girl, Ashley made the first few days go by quickly (it also didn’t hurt that we had an apartment to crash at, thank you, ladies!!). Although it seemed like most of our group was ready to leave sooner, we ended up extending our trip through last weekend so that I could get my computer fixed (read: I spilled coffee on my laptop back in Bishop, which is the one we use to edit all RV Project photos and videos…everyone should get a plastic keyboard cover, could have saved me almost $400). After New Year’s, we stayed at the Palace Station for a few days: the dredges of the casino-hotels in Las Vegas. We crammed 5 people into a room for 2, and happily paid about $5 each per night for a warm space to sleep. Since the computer was not going to be fixed until Monday, we decided to upgrade to the Flamingo. The room was much larger and included a view of the Strip. The Flamingo is one of the only hotels on the Strip…

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Highballing Success and Failure

By The Interior, Trip Journal13 Comments

The day after the Luminance session, I was standing underneath Grandpa Peabody with a sea of people. Josh, Mark, Max and Steve were all looking into topping out Evilution, myself and a few others were trying to get to the lip, and several people were watching. Elliot, who was with us at Luminance, had been top-roping the old-school Dale Bard solo Transporter Room (5.12ish). Shortly before the sun went down, he stepped up and calmly waltzed up the climb. There is a nice crimp rail at about 20 feet that Elliot got to and stood on, hands-free. Then a couple of dicey slab moves followed. We, the spotters, were somewhat nervous, of course, but he was solid enough to make the entire climb seem almost trivial, as though going through the moves were pure formality. It was inspiring. A few days later, I read confirmation in Wills’ blog that Elliot had succeeded in putting up a new line to the left of Transporter Room, called The Elevator. Elliot told me he was working on yet another new line. I asked if he wanted to get video of his send, and he eagerly agreed to letting me film him. On Friday, December 21st, I jugged up a line and filmed Elliot as he cleaned the holds and worked the moves on toprope. The crux comes at about 20 feet or so, involving some tiny holds and hard-to-see feet that are needed to pull around the bulge and onto a scooped slab. He fell many times attempting the…

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A Visit to an Inhabited Ghost Town

By Trip JournalNo Comments

  The view from the cabin at Mono Lake. Needless to say, it was difficult to leave. As Spenser mentioned, we took a much-needed break from climbing for some R&R at a friend’s cabin at Mono Lake. The cabin is on Cottonwood Canyon Drive, the same road that leads to the ghost town of Bodie. Given the opportunity, we could not ignore our curiosity to visit this old town. After a bit of research, we took a break from editing our latest video (finished product below) to look for an adventure. A ghost town always equals adventure, right? It was a sunny yet crisp winter morning, so we bundled up and started the drive down the windy snow-covered road. Abruptly we hit a roadblock indicating we could drive no further. Sadly, the road to Bodie was closed for the winter. We could walk the 10 miles there and back if we wanted… Spenser looked at me and said, “I’m down if you are.” I nodded, and we trundled across some rocks to the left of the roadblock. We saw tire marks where we left ours, so we knew we weren’t the only ones to have ignored the roadblock. Thoughts of us getting stuck in the mud a la Massachusetts popped into my head, but I quickly suppressed them. We were looking for an adventure, weren’t we? As we continued the drive down the road, you could sense we were both pleased with ourselves but nervous nonetheless. The kind of unsure satisfaction that…

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Supreme Badassery

By ClimbingNo Comments

During the past few days, our own climbing has taken a little bit of a backseat to other goals. We spent a little bit of time in Mono Lake relaxing and also doing some soul-searching. The primary question is “What is the RV Project?”, or more accurately, “What the F&¢% are we doing?” Filming and taking photos takes a toll on your concentration, and with only two of us, capturing our own sends is, quite frankly, very difficult. We have no desire to film ourselves on problems we can easily do. We have no desire to just film everything that other people do either…that’s no fun for us and not worth the time and energy required. We have no desire to just climb for ourselves. That’s fun, but I feel it shortchanges our opportunity.  Long story short, we decided to focus on our own climbing. We’re in the best climbing area in the US with ample opportunity to train our weaknesses. We have a whole new grade-range of projects to try. We have climbing partners. Life is good. And if one of us is about to do something at our limit, we’ll film it. That said, since we have so much time here and since it is the season, we are also keeping our eyes open and ears to the ground. Hang out around the Peabodys and some strong ass people will show up and they will more likely than not be trying something amazing. If there’s a good story…

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Bishop Times

By Bouldering, Trip Journal3 Comments

Vikki and I are now nearly three weeks into our Bishop stay. It has changed since I first came in 2004. Weekends now consistently see 100-car days in the Buttermilks. The Loco Frijole (aka Terrible Taqueria) is now Holy Smoke, a tasty Texas BBQ joint. There’s a taco truck at Barlow and 395. There are piles of feces to be found all over. Some petroglyphs were stolen. Black Sheep just moved down the street. Much remains the same. All of the land around Bishop is spoken for by various government agencies, so the town will remain quaint. Schat’s is still making people fat, Looney Bean is still run by adorable underage girls, and the Pizza Factory still has the best arcade in town. The sun still casts hyper-saturated colors on the clouds when it dips behind Mt. Tom, and deer are still a common sight around Buttermilk Mountain. Every Bishop trip prior to this one, was marked by the same longing for more time. It felt like home, yet it never could be. We always had to return to our cities. Now we have planted our temporary roots to join the “seasonals,” a loose network of obsessed boulderers hoping to unlock the secrets of strength and badassery. Now we live here. We’ve been climbing mostly with our friends Steve and Angie. Our abilities and psyche match up quite well. There are also our Canadian friends in the Pit, whom we also climbed with in Joe’s Valley; there are many long-term Pit-dwellers;…

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The More You Have

By Climbing, Road Trip Beta, Trip Journal2 Comments

Now that we’re back on the road, it’s very clear that Spenser and I are both happier living life in our little trailer – dubbed Oscar the Grouch (to stay with the Sesame Street theme). I’ve been thinking about why we’re in such better spirits away from the creature comforts we used readily in Colorado. The most comprehensive answer I have come up with is the more you have…the more you want. If I have a shower across the hall, I apparently will use it every day. If I have a big kitchen, I will eagerly choose to ignore it whenever the opportunity to go out to eat arises. These and other characteristics that I disliked about myself when living in San Francisco came back in full force this summer. Living in Fort Collins, just like living in San Francisco, had many positive aspects. It was easy-as-pie to do my physical therapy exercises. Heck, I was even able to find an awesome physical therapist in the first place! There was a gym in the garage of Brad’s apartment. There was gluten-free food on every street corner. Spenser was able to do the construction for the truck and trailer with ease since Brad had every necessary tool imaginable. Middle-of-nowhere Utah, or even Bishop, does not offer these amenities. We needed Colorado to be able to regroup after Byron’s departure. And then we needed to leave. Leaving was difficult because we had created a home for ourselves in our Colorado. We especially…

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A Review of Liquid Grip, The New Liquid Chalk

By Road Trip Beta, The Exterior2 Comments

Like every climber ever to grace this earth, I suffer from non-optimal skin. It sweats too much, it’s too thin, it’s cracked, it’s split, it just hurts. I’ve tried damn near every chalk there is. So far, the best I’ve been able to figure is Antihydral about once a week and plain old block chalk before every go. Recently I was reading Dave Macleod’s Online Climbing Coach blog and saw a review for Liquid Grip. I’ve tried Liquid Chalk and I like it, but it requires reapplication and is otherwise a pain in the butt for me. Liquid Grip is supposed to be an “apply and forget” sort of product, which would solve my main complaint with liquid chalk, so I figured it was worth a try. The company gives the somewhat dubious claim that the product adheres to the amino acids in your skin and will not transfer to other surfaces. Of course I perked up when Dave gave it a positive review, but I grimaced when I read that “there is a small amount of Rosin (less than 5%) in the product and they reassure that there is no transference to surfaces although didn’t say how this was tested.” I sent away to Liquid Grip for a few samples. On one hand, LG could very well be a manna for los manos. On the other, I’m very concerned about rosin being used on rock, because over time it forms a slick coating to the rock and destroys the friction…

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The Essential Guide to Joe’s Valley Living

By Local Beta6 Comments

Updates (as of 12/2/2017): There are TWO new & permanent pit toilets! Locations are shown below in the Pooping section 🙂 Food & Showering options have also been updated below. PLEASE do not just camp anywhere! Joe’s Valley has far surpassed its carrying capacity for primitive camping, and creating “new” campsites is a huge threat to access. Please camp in demarcated sites only! Thanks! If you’ve been to Joe’s before, you’ll notice some changes in where you can camp. Erosion and water contamination via human waste are the biggest issues we face – read more about it via the Access Fund. The Access Fund conservation team was working on trails this past October & November – hooray!  Another must-read about how bouldering has changed Joe’s is this piece from Climbing Magazine. And…what about that new guidebook?! Follow us on Instagram / Facebook, or join our mailing list for the latest updates. Estimated release is Spring 2018. I apologize for not being able to respond to each message about the guidebook individually, but rest assured all updates will be shared via social media and the email list. Click here for the PDF guide to some of the newer boulders in Joe’s Valley – The Flu, Hidden Dragon & The Rastafarian. Having spent quite a few months in Joe’s Valley over the past 5 years, and by helping to organize the Joe’s Valley Bouldering Festival the past 3, we’ve gained insight above and beyond the Insightful Guide. If you are planning your…

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Back in Bishop

By ClimbingNo Comments

The past week has been a blur. We left Joe’s Valley last Tuesday afternoon and Spenser drove us straight to Bishop. Leaving our amazing campsite at Joe’s was the most difficult part – we will likely never find a better fire pit, but it will be there waiting for us when we return! After an 13-hour drive with a quick stop at a barbeque joint, we were back in the Pit. As we drove in around 3am on Wednesday morning, as suspected, the Pit was FULL. Since we were the first of our group to arrive, we grabbed one of the only open campsites we could find and passed out. Thankfully by the time we had woken up, there were multiple open campsites. As we waffled about saving site #15 for our friends (a prime spot with tons of flat real estate for cars & tents), Spenser ran into Jenn Zecchin, who we know from the Bay. Jenn was on her own this Thanksgiving and was driving around the Pit looking for a campsite. Perfect timing as she was able to park in site 15 and save it for the rest of our group. A benefit to all since we didn’t have to feel guilty about saving a site with just our crash pads, as we know many groups in Bishop are in the same boat. Wednesday was a rest and get ready for the gang to arrive day. While I’ve only been to Bishop a handful of times and…

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Get Ready for BishGNAR!

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

The past few days at Joe’s have been a whirlwind of falls, sends, laughs, and campfires. Thankfully, no tears. Our final days were rounded out with my send of Big Cheesy and Spenser crushing many of his projects: Worm Turns, Ghost King, Playmate of the Year, and Lactation Station! Still, we are leaving with many projects left unticked, but are incredibly happy to reunite with our Bishop crew for another Thanksgiving. This year, Thanksgiving will be different. This year, BishGNAR is coming to town. First things first, if you haven’t seen the original G.N.A.R., get on it. You can watch the trailer below, or the entire movie (highly recommended) here. We are bringing the competition to Bishop. It will take place on the Friday or Saturday after Thanksgiving, the exact date is TBD as of now. We have the list of rules (climbing related, if you haven’t caught on yet) and they are going to knock your socks off, literally. If you want in, let us know! The more the merrier. We will have the rules printed out by Thanksgiving Day, so come find us if you want to prepare ahead of time. We’ll either be climbing at the Buttermilks or camped in the Pit. Just look for the big red truck. Want the title (trophy included) of GNARliest dude or dudette in Bishop? Then it’s time to sack up and prove it! Love, The RV Project

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Cast Iron Chaos and the Lessons Learned

By Road Trip Beta, Trip Journal8 Comments

When we were preparing for The RV Project part deux, Spenser and I decided to downsize. Goodbye 30 foot trailer, hello little just-big-enough-for-two 10 footer. Going from a house to a bedroom meant downsizing everything, including our cookware. We decided we only needed one pan to cook with and, more significantly, we were going to be all hippy about it and forgo the Teflon. You really want something non-stick when on the road, so cast iron seemed like the best choice. I did some minimal research about how to season a cast iron pan (make it non-stick) and, at a quick glance, it seemed pretty simple. Neither of us had owned cast iron cookware before, but how hard could it be? Boy, was I wrong. Spenser came home with a brand-new Lodge Logic cast iron pan from Jax Outdoor Gear, very reasonably priced at around $25. It came pre-seasoned per the label, but the saleslady at Jax told Spenser to at least season it once more before using it. The saleslady had instructed Spenser to rub the pan down with oil and then run it through the ‘clean’ cycle on the oven. Naturally, the clean function did not work on Brad’s oven, so I sat down to do my own research on how to season the pan. Down the Google bunny hole I went. Apparently, everyone on the internet has an opinion on the best way to season a cast iron pan. There’s this guy: He thinks he’s got the answer, but…

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Surprise Surprise

By Trip JournalNo Comments

We saw our families. On Thursday, November 8, Vikki’s father turned 60 years old, and we flew back to the Bay Area to pop in and surprise him. Vikki and her mom conspired very cleverly, and when we showed up on Thursday morning he was utterly shocked. We spent the day eating gluten-free pizza, then driving to San Francisco for a fancy dinner. On Friday, November 9, our good friend and CEO of Groopt Patrick Allen turned 27. We went over to the Groopt house to surprise him. We spent the night partying with our favorite entrepreneurs, sharing stories of triumph, and sake-bombing. The rest of the weekend was a relaxing break from constant dust and cold nights, as we spent time with our families and friends. Since we’ll be spending Thanksgiving in Bishop this year (as per the usual), it was a perfect opportunity to get some quality family time in before we revel in turkey with our other family, the climbing family. We hung out and ate good food with Zack and Dan, whom you might recall from previous episodes, as well as our friends Chris, Sofie, Wendy, Drew, and Glenn. As I type this, I’m squished into a seat on Southwest flight 868 en route to Salt Lake City. Our friend Scott was nice enough to drive us to the airport, and we left Bert sitting outside of his house. We’ll reunite with Bert, and spend the next week hopefully wrapping up some projects in Joe’s Valley….

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Crash Pads- A Review of What We Have

By Bouldering, Climbing, Road Trip Beta4 Comments

I’ve been bouldering for about 8 years now. Shortly after starting to explore the Santa Barbara mountains with Chris Yorks and Dan Kovner, I invested in my first crashpad, a Franklin Dropzone. Since then I’ve had a multitude of foam, nearly all of which we’ve somehow brought along on the RV Project. We’ve got a good variety, and in going through them I see there are plusses and minuses to each. If you’re thinking of buying a new pad (or searching for a used one), think first about what you’ll mostly be using it for and what you might already have. Mammut Soho The goods 120 x 100 x 9 (cm) or about 48″ x 39″ x 3.5″ It’s blue Three hooking metal buckles…weird closure system I got this one as a freebie from a then-road-tripping Alex Johnson who didn’t have space in her car for this one. I can understand why. It has two taco folds instead of the usual one, and it folds into a triangle. This makes it, as far as I’m aware, the only crash pad that gets bigger when folded up. Two straps keep the sides together, and then a big diaper flap comes up from the bottom and attaches to the top, making for a big storage pouch. The flap also can be used to protect the shoulder straps from the dirt when the pad is in use. The unique bi-fold design has major advantages. As a backpack, it’s easy: you just fold it up…

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Are Piercings Worth the Price?

By Climbing, Staying Healthy, The Exterior, The Interior, Training, Trip Journal8 Comments

As Spenser said in the last post, we have arrived to sandstone heaven. I could not be happier. Colorado has beautiful stone and a multitude of great climbs, but Joe’s Valley is just easy. Especially after a summer consisting of driving an hour and a half, hiking another hour a half, climbing, hiking over talus for a half hour, climbing, and repeating. Free camping, boulders everywhere, and a town with everything you need just a short ride away. It’s been effortless getting used to life at Joe’s. But I’m getting carried away. The point of this post is to talk about piercings! Let’s go back to where my curiosity with this began. Towards the end of our first climbing day at Left Fork, we met Mina Leslie-Wujastyk and David Mason. Mina and I started talking about physical therapy and the recurrent shoulder/neck injury she used to struggle with. Mina’s shoulder would act up, especially during training, much like my injury (similar neck pain with numbness down the arm). She went to a chiropractor in Britain that was more on the alternative side of things and he told her that her piercings could be hindering her recovery. Piercings? Really? Her chiropractor explained that because of the repetitive stress on her body from traveling, climbing hard, training, and so on, her immune system was already working overtime. To add the piercings on top of all that was possibly the straw that broke the camel’s back, in a way. Since her immune system…

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Back to the Desert

By Bouldering, Trip Journal4 Comments

The last post was October 10th? It’s October 30th? I know dudes in the Arctic Ocean who post more regularly. Is this okay? Let’s ask Will Smith: So real quick-like with the ketchup… Since we finished the last video, I spent much time running back and forth to Home Depot and similar stores, picking up building supplies and batteries and solar panels and all kinds of other goodies to get us ready for life in a trailer (again). A video tour of our little trailer setup will be up shortly. Combine a large amount of work with a limited amount of experience, and you have a big pot of this-project-took-way-longer-than-I-thought stew. We finally left Brad’s house on Wednesday (October 17) and camped in the mountains near the sport crag known as The Monastery. The next morning we met Kyle and Reiko at Bear Lake for one last run up to Emerald Lake to try our projects. The day was clear and sunny, but the wind was so strong that staying warm was impossible and we retreated after taking a couple of burns on Whispers of Wisdom and The Kind. Sadly, no sends, but I did reach a highpoint on Whispers. We spent the next two nights in Denver, parked outside of Rachel and Jered’s, tying up some last loose ends, fixing the bookshelf that I’d under-built, and seeing Vikki’s sister. On Saturday morning we gassed up one last time at King Sooper’s and on Saturday night we were sleeping in Joe’s…

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