Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Chongo in the NYT

Go here for a nicely written story about Chongo Chuck.

Falcon and Horan Continued

Head on over to Falcon Guides and read some fairly awkward defenses of the unfolding saga that is Bouldering Colorado. Bob Horan is maintaining that the attitude of present-day boulderers is the problem:

Well, times have changed and as I continued this ultimate goal of a state wide guide and revisited the areas time and time again, I was often astounded by the growing numbers, and the changing attitudes of those boulderers I encountered. Most seemed very friendly, having fun in the great outdoors, but I also noticed a change, especially within the last decade of a new breed of boulderer, somewhat territorial, and upon further conversation, somewhat disrespectful to, or oblivious to, their predecessors. When recording and cross checking these areas with the present day influx of activity, I would often ask a person or persons what they now call any given boulder. The response, in the more recently popular areas, for example, I would say what do you call this nice piece of apparatus, referring to the boulder being climbed upon, and one would respond that it is called Dale's Boulder, another would say no, it's called Lynn's Block, I then would refer to an online blog, magazine, etc. and it was stated as Boulder D, in my own ancient documentation we called it Ambiguous Block, at that point I had to decipher what it should be named and finalize it for the project.

By the way, I believe in Bouldering Colorado, it is truly a work of art, and is and asset and educational tool that the climbing community should embrace.

Well if by work of art, you mean creativity, then fair enough. However a guidebook should reflect the consensus, not a personal vision at this point. I admit that I am amused by the reference to a "nice piece of apparatus". Such archaic language might explain Horan's relationship to the current scene.

Somewhat more puzzling is Max Phelps' reaction, presumably an editor at Falcon"

I am sorry to see some of the comments about this impressive new guidebook. Sorry for a couple of reasons. First, I can't help but feel a little defensive. This book, after all, represents my company, and the work of some of the best people associated with book publishing, people I am pleased to call friends. But I am also disappointed by some members of the climbing community in Colorado. Surely this book is an important contribution to the body of information about Bouldering in Colorado. How could it be otherwise? Can we improve upon it? Only if we encourage knowledgeable climbers to take it out for a test drive. At Falcon we have always invited suggestions that will improve our books, and that is certainly the case here. Any guidebook that attempts to describe 4000 problems is likely to admit mistakes, and one can expect some to be unearthed in this book. (I use the future tense because the boxes haven't even been unpacked yet.) As with any book we publish, necessary corrections will be made when we reprint. It would be hard to estimate the numbers of hours of work that have been poured into this volume. I for one would like to celebrate this impressive achievement, and I stand by this book and its author. So as a native of Colorado I feel the need to jump in here to defend this guide, Bob Horan and our opportunity to seve the climbing community. If anyone would like to talk with me in person, my direct line here at the Falcon publishing headquarters is 203.458.4551 --Max Phelps

I sense that Falcon is pretty worried here. It seems to me they weren't counting on publishing an idiosyncratic, error-riddled book and the problem of how to "encourage knowledgeable climbers to take it out for a test drive" at 50 dollars a copy is rearing its ugly head. I would certainly encourage readers to call Max Phelps and let him know what the issues are. There is little cause for celebration in this case, especially when the main problems could have been headed off by a simple peer review. If that had happened, the errors would probably have been minimal in both number and scope. The chances of errors being corrected in a reprint are slim as I doubt this will ever see a second edition. I will be calling Max Phelps and proposing he offer to send out free review copies to local climbers to "test drive".

Granted this is not on the scale of recent political and financial developments but a funny kind of parallel is going on. The lack of solid oversight and maintenance of high standards has resulted in an erosion of trust among the public. As I have said before, Falcon needs to admit their responsibility and withdraw the book and start over. That might be the most constructive thing to do at this point.

P.S. Thanks to Jamie for pointing me to the Falcon "blog"

Monday, September 29, 2008

Horsetooth Hang

On Saturday, I went up to Fort Collins and had a great time just belaying for the Horsetooth Hang. I hadn't been to Horsetooth since the early 90s and it was great just to look around and hang out with a good crew of other volunteers. I was stationed (thanks Cam) at two of the most classic Gill problems, Pinch Overhang and Left Eliminator, both major lunge problems where belaying is anything but passive. Really fun to see what these problems are like. Interestingly both have feasible lower starts that don't appear to have been done. No climbing as I have been recuperating from a cold but maybe soon.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Girl Talk, Pad Stashing, Horsetooth Hang

"Girl Talk" is a route that can be found in the Bauhaus at Rifle. It may or may not be 8c+. Without wanting to make too much of a tempest in the teapot (or maybe a container that is less refined) that is the Rifle scene, I would like to add the perspective of Andy Raether whose voice has been conspicuously missing through all this. I talked with him last night at the Spot and without going too much into the conversation which was not "for the record", suffice it to say that 1. Certain climbers had made it clear they would climb the route regardless of Andy's wishes and 2. He is sufficiently upset to write a column on the topic that will be published in the next Rock and Ice.

My personal thoughts on the matter, having adopted a number of old/abandoned projects in Clear Creek and Boulder Canyon, is that if you can't get the equipper's permission you really should back off other people's work and find your own vision. It would be upsetting, I imagine, to see Dave Graham credited as "establishing" and naming a climb that you first saw, obtained permission for, and then went up and cleaned, stabilized, and bolted. I can understand "professional" climbers who seem content avoiding having a real job but I don't understand avoiding actually creating new climbs as well. Repeats don't matter much and jumping on other people's projects is not pushing the envelope. I wish that the likes of MVM and industry sponsors would recognize this.

On a related note, I read with some dismay in Justin Roth's column in Climbing about pad-stashing, that boulderers carrying more than one pad were being confronted by suspicious pad-stashers. Although I am already on the record on this, I again applaud the rangers hauling abandoned pads away. If you can't carry your weight, don't get up in the face of people who can.

On a more positive note, I will be volunteering tomorrow at the Horsetooth Hang and am looking forward to getting a better picture of the bouldering there as it is only a few minutes away from where I work.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Chaos Canyon added to Mountain Project

I remember a few years ago proposing that Mountain Project add Chaos Canyon. I received a lot of flak for it. Now it's been added and not very well done at all. If you boulder there, go to this page and see what you think.

Here's the description for Freshly Squeezed: "Start low and top out"

Is Evans next?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Falcon's Error Sheet

Go to http://www.falcon.com/files/Updates%2009.02.08.pdf and see what you think. Help them out here.

Here's another guidebook author's take.

Here's another forum to speak your mind.

And you can check out Bob's slide show at Neptune Mountaineering on October 2

Late Evening Bouldering

I took a couple of hours to drive up and try Window Shopper again but it was a bit too warm and humid to get much progress. The edges on the lower part are really painful to hold onto and the upper slopers simply won't stay. By the time I left it was pitch dark. Lots of chalk on Butt Slammer--anyone have news?

Go to this link for the NYT's take on Hueco. It's too bad that the writer talks about how boulderers and their ilk pay no attention to the art.

(Additional commentary by me, following sockhands' comments)
The article is very unhelpful in its characterization of climbers and inaccurate as well. For example, I would hate to see it used as fodder by the land managers for further restrictions.

"Hueco Tanks park, well known to rock climbers, attracts thousands of boulderers and their ilk each year, but most concentrate on their journey over the terrain without paying much attention to the pictographs hidden in it."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Back Online

Well after a short battle with Qwest to get a DSL hookup, we are back online. I have been swamped in work between reading and writing for my class and teaching. A little time to try Window Shopper at Flagstaff, an excellent V11 on the east side of Nook's Rock. All the moves go and I am hoping that cooler weather will allow actual linkage attempts. This problem has very sharp crimps low and slopers higher meaning that warm temps equal shredded skin. Good to see Peter Jones out there on Saturday.

As an example of doing the job right with guidebooks, Fred Knapp invited me and other climbers to his house the other evening to review the new edition of Colorado Bouldering. Bob Horan's book was there as well as a telling counterexample of how not to do the job right.

In the climbing world, the news of Alex Honnold's free solo of Half Dome, while anticipated to a certain extent by Dean Potter's mostly free solo a number of years back, is certainly stunning. Speculation abounds about the next step, a solo of El Cap, but I sense a certain unease in the climbing media about encouraging this endeavor. For instance, virtually no print coverage was seen of his solo of Moonlight Buttress in Zion.

Chris Sharma's new route on Mount Clark is in the same larger-than-life category and will possibly never be repeated. A 250 foot 5.15b that is a major expedition just to get to the base is in its own league and impossible to compare with anything else.

Closer to home is the rash of V12 ascents by women, including Angie Payne, Alex Puccio, and Alex Johnson. Having tried all the problems in question I can attest to their difficulty, though I have reservations about Clear Blue Sky at V12 and felt that way well before Alex J did it. That said until I have done it, I will go with the consensus.

Lastly, a flurry of debate about 8a.nu has emerged which in my mind is interesting, especially regarding inflated grades. I think the best thing is to keep posting your problems at the grades you think are accurate and not worry about your ranking either way. Boycotting the site is an option but doesn't really change things much. As I have mentioned before, I believe that focusing on grades in terms of downgrading is ultimately detrimental to your ability to progress. I believe that whatever helps you get motivated to climb better is great, as long as, at the end of the day, you are focusing on climbing and not on other stuff.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Why Boulderers Don't Need to Stash Pads

Carrying multiple pads is possible. Stashing pads is silly. Go to Jamie's site for more mainstream media coverage on the topic.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Illumination V10

Here's another fun linkup at the Jim Hall Boulder. Start matched on a thin edge down and left from the flake on Battaglia's Bottom. Head up and right. Hard last move.

I'm going to the Flag Trash Bash tomorrow night 5-7pm. Maybe see you there!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Subterranean V10 at Flagstaff

This is a good endurance link-up at the Jim Hall Boulder. Ultra-lowball in spots but great moves. This took me a bunch of tries to finish so I am sticking with the V10 grade for now.