Monday, June 30, 2008

Don't Forget Canada Day

Tomorrow is Canada Day, and we'll be climbing to celebrate. Four years ago we drove into Canada on July 1st to visit Niagara Glen, and we didn't realize it was Canada Day. Then we learned that Canadians in the Niagara Glen area celebrate Canada Day by driving into the United States (?) creating huge backups at the border. We didn't feel like waiting in line for hours to get back into the U.S., so we drove through Canada to Michigan to get out. Niagara Glen is a great area that we highly recommend, but don't visit on Canada Day if you need to get back into the U.S. on Canada Day. Here is a video from Canada Day 04. Enjoy it Eh.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Full Recovery

Ashley's been climbing a lot since the surgery, but today she made it clear that she has her power back. See the video below.

I decided to give up coffee for the Summer. I made it through a week of headaches, and then continued to abstain for two more weeks despite feeling a bit blah. Today, I realized that I gained a couple pounds since the school year ended. I'm blaming the lack of caffeine for the weight gain. The experiment is over. I got an iced Americano on the drive home today, and it felt so good. Like clouds parting, I felt like myself again. See you at Starbucks.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Story of The Best of Horsetooth Reservoir Bouldering Video

The two covers I used for the video.

Back in 2000, I was inspired to make a bouldering video after watching Josh Lowell's film "Big Up: Bouldering in the Gunks." Josh's film was fun, but what actually inspired me about it was how amateur it was. I thought "I can do that." Today Josh makes films that are so professional they discourage me. "I can't do that... I'll never try to sell a bouldering video again." Bouldering was still pretty new to me. I had made a couple trips to Hueco, and felt that Horsetooth bouldering and bouldering in general, hadn't gotten the exposure they deserved. I was still in the stage of bouldering where beta was really important. Now that I've been climbing for many years it's usually pretty easy for me to figure out how a problem can be climbed. At the time I needed beta, and I felt like other people needed it too. To promote bouldering at Horsetooth, and help myself and others get beta I started making the film.

I bought a digital 8 video camera, and Ashley bought a 5 gig Mac Powerbook with the first version of Imovie on it. I wrote down in a notebook what I believed were the 25 best problems at Horsetooth, and began filming. I enjoyed filming the problems. I let friends choose problems from the list that they wanted to climb. When no one else was out there, I filmed Ashley or myself. Sometimes I saw people climbing that I didn't know, and I asked to film them.

As I started editing the film together it began to feel more like work. With only five gigabytes of space on the computer, I had to edit the film in sections. I sent the first half of the film to John Gill, and he agreed to be interviewed. One of the highlights of making the film was meeting John, getting the interview, watching his garage workout, and talking with him about lucid dreaming.

More filming and editing followed. By the time I finished the film, it was hard to be excited about it. Scheduling the last few problems took a long time, and I saw all the footage so many times I could no longer tell if it was good or not. I tried to get rights for the music, but ASCAP didn't have a reasonable process or price to buy music rights for such a small film. I ended up cutting corners at the end. I used music from bands I thought could use some promotion without getting permission. I decided to use photos I already had in my collection for the cover rather than making another trip to Rotary to shoot one. The photos were pictures of me. I was accused of self-promotion for putting myself on the cover. My true motivation was laziness.

The worst part of the film making process was making the tapes, getting them into stores, and getting paid for them. The tapes were recorded in my VCR. I ordered the cases, cut the covers, and glued labels on all the tapes myself. Getting stores to carry the video often took several trips. The stores would buy a few at a time, and tell me I'd get the check in 30 days. Often I didn't get a check in 30 days, and I'd have to make calls to get paid. A lot of wasted time for 10-20 dollars of profit.

Over the next year and a half, I sold about 200 copies. About 130 sold in Ft. Collins and Boulder, about 30 through the website New England Bouldering, and 40 went to a climbing video dealer in Japan. I learned first hand how hard it is to make and distribute a climbing video.

I still enjoy some clips from the film. Here are my two favorite problems. Some of the most inspiring climbing I've ever witnessed.

Wild Basin Boulder

On Thursday we went back to "American Roof" at Vedauwoo. We both sent it, and spent the rest of the afternoon climbing on the cobbles at the Acres. Yesterday, we climbed at the Wild Basin Boulder. I think it's one of the best single boulders in the park. Every time we visit we enjoy the day and get a great workout. After weeks at Red Feather and Vedauwoo it felt good to be climbing on tight-grained, solid edges. This boulder has a couple of the hardest V6 problems anywhere.
Ashley climbing the Slot Problem.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

American Roof

A classic Vedauwoo problem with a fun crux at the end. We'll be back to send it as soon as our skin, and core muscles recover.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Photo Assignment at the Poudre

It was a good week of climbing. I spent an early morning session at Hobo Cave on Wednesday, and did the Hobo Cave Traverse. It's a project I didn't want to leave until fall, after coming very close earlier in the year. On Friday we went to the 420's. The weather was perfect, and the mosquitoes weren't bad. We spent the day working Surfin' the Tsunami which still feels hard despite the new crimp where the pinch used to be. Someone did a lot of work up there moving trees off the trail and improving the bridges with notched logs and supports against trees to keep them in place.

I was impressed. My daughters could cross safely without being carried.

Ashley and I are taking a digital photography class, and we had an assignment to take 70 shots framing the photos in certain ways. The following photos from the 420's were taken for the class.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Wildlife of Summer

Summer is here, and my first week of vacation was a lot of fun. I got three good bouldering sessions in. One in the Hobo Cave, and two at Red Feather. On Friday Scott and Jim joined us for a session at the Fat Man in a Little Coat boulder.
Scott warming up.

On the way in we saw two moose right next to the warm-up area. The sight of such large beasts at Red Feather makes the area feel much wilder to me, and compliments the wonderful atmosphere up there.
Here are a couple pictures Scott and I took of them.

After warming up we worked almost every problem on the "Fat Man in a Little Coat" boulder for hours. Scott is a tall man, known for his spotting skills, and he caught a lot of my falls on Friday. Thanks Scott.

With his help I was able to fully commit on "Fat Man in a Little Coat." I found some new beta and made some progress, but it just didn't happen. I felt a little frustrated, but it was still a really good day.

Today was a beautiful day at Red Feather. It was windy, but the temps were nice, and everything was looking very green. We checked out an area called Emily's North. At one point I was working on a traverse problem. I stuck my hand in a shallow horizontal crack, heard a hiss, and felt something soft and squishy. Startled, I fell off the hold and saw a bat inside. Luckily, I didn't get bitten. It had been quite a hike to get to the area, and I thought "It's already awake. I'll just get it to fly away with a stick." Instead of flying away it bared it's needle fangs, and hissed at the stick. Luckily, Ashley and the girls were at another boulder. They might have freaked out if they'd been there. I thought "I could push it out and then it would fly." But it took a fall instead, right onto my pad. It seemed to like the pad. It grabbed into it with it's thumbnail claws.

With a little more prodding it grabbed the stick, and I put it on a nearby rock. Then I thought "I'm a jerk for disturbing it so much." It stayed on the rock for a while then flew away while I was working the problem. A wild start to the Summer.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Northside of Southside

Today Jacob gave us a tour of an area he developed near Red Feather called the Northside of Southside. When Jacob drove up, it looked like his car had grown horns. As he got closer, I saw they were his dogs.

Aaron, Shaun, and Mel came along. As a group we climbed or worked on seven good problems. Here are a few of them.

"George of the Jungle" is a lowball traverse that tops out by climbing a roof. It was a perfect warm-up, pumpy on large holds.
Mel on "George of the Jungle"

"Jungle Jim" begins and ends on "George of the Jungle" but follows a crack at the lip of the roof across the traverse. It's more difficult than "George of the Jungle" and you don't need to worry about foot dabs.
Ashley flashing "Jungle Jim."

After getting a good pump on the "George of the Jungle" boulder we went to "F*&! the Bozos." This very good problem sit starts in the right side of the perfect angled crack. A hand traverse with some tricky heel hooks and powerful crosses leads to a slab top-out.
Ashley flashing F.T.B.

After getting sandbagged on "Bong and the Riddler" we took a short walk to the "Chunky" boulder. A highball on the boulder looked very nice, but my skin was gone, and the holds are sharp. Jacob and Aaron had better skin or pain tolerance than I, and sent it quickly.
Mel on the "Chunky Boulder."

Jacob sending the "Chunky Boulder" highball.

It was a great day, with a fun group, at a new area. After getting shut down on the "Fat Man in a Little Coat" boulder last weekend it was fun to top out on some problems. Northside of Southside is a nice sector that I'll be heading back to. Props to Jacob for finding and cleaning the problems.