Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fred Nicole Video from the 90s

While doing research for my book, I came across this video produced by the indefatigable Udo Neumann. Neumann is co-author of the essential book on training, Performance Rock Climbing and has created numerous useful and interesting videos. I think most of his books are available only in German, sadly.

The video of Radja, the first V14 in the world, comes near the end but all of it is worth a view. Nicole has been such a major influence on the sport of bouldering that any opportunity to see him climb is worth the time.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Beta Series Continues

The Beta - Branch Bacardi from Andrew Kornylak on Vimeo.

If you want to see climbing video done right, Andrew K can show you. Funny monologue, beautiful filming, good soundtrack. Speaking of video, make sure to check out "Enter the Wolvo" from the Island. Maybe more on this video later.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Alpine Season is Over

After a few hints that the end was near, the snow came down hard in the mountains over the last few days, shutting down what had been a nice extended season. I have been very busy these days, barely able to do much besides work on the book and my classes, hence the lack of posts. Here's a video of a problem at Flagstaff to indicate the kind of locales I am likely to be spending my time for the near future.

Southern Sun V7/8 Flagstaff Mountain from peter beal on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Inching Closer

On Saturday, after visiting Flagstaff to do a bouldering tour (nobody wanted one) and talking with OSMP Ranger Rick Hatfield, I headed home to regroup and head off to RMNP. The Park was looking gorgeous with the high peaks, dusted with snow, glistening in the sun. The Bear Lake parking is still touch-and-go on these nice weekend days,sadly the only time I can make it. A pleasant hike up to Lower followed and I settled in for another session on the project. After a fun warmup on the many moderate problems in the immediate vicinity, I started working European again in earnest. At this point I am consistently hitting the second crimp on link and sticking the undercling move almost every time I try it. I also easily did the last move.

It's hard to say what the deciding factors will be. Certainly Saturday was by far the best conditions for trying the boulder that I have ever experienced. I suppose having a partner would be helpful but my schedule hemmed in by work and family is much too irregular for the typical Chaos visitor. The main thing is ultimately constantly building finger strength and hoping the season extends just a wee bit longer. Otherwise, I'll be there in May digging it out!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Flagstaff Bouldering Tour This Saturday

For anyone who wants beta on bouldering at Flagstaff Mountain, now that the fall/winter season is in progress, please join me for a tour starting at First Overhang and continuing down the mountain from there. Rick Hatfield from OSMP will be there as well.

We will be meeting up at 10:30 on October 16th at the First Overhang Parking Area. Here's the OSMP official announcement:

Bouldering on Flagstaff – Get the Beta!
Sat Oct 16, 10:30 am – noon
Fall is finally here and Flagstaff Mountain’s prime season is just beginning. Join local climber/OSMP trail guide Peter Beal and ranger-naturalist Rick Hatfield for an introductory program about bouldering on Flagstaff Mountain, one of the most important urban bouldering areas in the country. Get the beta from Peter on Flagstaff's major formations, dozens of problems, and information on environmentally sound bouldering practices. Rick will answer questions about park resources and policies.  The tour will not provide technical instruction or safety advice related to bouldering or climbing.
Meet at the First Overhang Parking Area, located at the last hairpin turn before the entrance to the summit area, approximately 1.7 miles from the Panorama Point kiosk. Due to limited parking, OSMP encourages tour participants to carpool, hike or bike to the meeting point.

Monday, October 11, 2010

It May Be Over

Snow and Wind, Lake Haiyaha October 2010
On Saturday, despite the RMNP webcam showing high winds and snow, I, and as it turned out a surprising number of others, decided to give the Park a try. Even though it was obviously not great weather above 10,000 feet, the parking lot at Bear Lake was almost totally full. I met up with Ryan Young on the trail and we set a fairly brisk pace up to the Autobot Boulder. A stiff breeze was blowing across the boulders, accompanied by regular snow showers, which made warming up considerably difficult. After a few cursory turns on the easier problems there, I decided to get out of the wind and see if European Human Being was at all feasible to try. Amazingly the problem was tucked away sufficiently from the relentless wind, and though it was cold, I was able to get warmed up reasonably well. While I would have liked to have been able to report a successful send of this problem, the humidity level alone was prohibitive and in fact not long after I started packing up, water started running down the wall. I was however able to hit the second crimp from the start and complete the other moves quickly. While I am not necessarily the hardest of the hardcore when it comes to climbing in bad conditions, this session was certainly one of the toughest I have had recently. I am still remaining optimistic for one more good session on it.

Autobot V4 Ryan Young October 9 2010

While there may in fact be a few days left for the truly dedicated, for most it may be time to declare the season over, especially above treeline. Jamie Emerson gives the official wrap-up for Lincoln Lake while Chad Greedy's more impressionistic version is here. While the consensus about Lincoln is still settling, there is no doubt that this summer represents one of the most active seasons in Colorado bouldering since the first wave of bouldering in RMNP roughly 10 years ago.

For the Park, it was a relatively uneventful season, consisting primarily of repeats,such as Dan Beall, Jimmy Webb, et. al. on Jade. The interesting new developments have come from Jon Glassberg and Co. heading up to Upper Upper Chaos and really digging around to find new problems. I am confident that Upper and Super Chaos have many possibilities remaining. Sadly the hike is far more epic than Lincoln, which will keep many away.

For me it has been an education in many ways, encountering the weather, trying to be persistent in the face of time pressures, working on hard problems, often solo, usually getting frustrated, yet always enjoying the incredible sense of freedom that comes from hiking and climbing up in the high mountains of Colorado.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Climbing and Art: A Debate that Needs to be Re-opened?

As a companion to a new essay (with accompanying paintings) that has just been published in Alpinist 32, an online feature I wrote titled "Climbing and Art" was added. In the online essay, I argue that it is time for a new vision of climbing:

"In other words, the outer frontier in any objective sense is now closed in climbing. It's my view that only within inner frontiers does the art of climbing have any future. We have yet to see very many contemporary portrayals of the inner vision of the climber that compare with examples from the 1960s and '70s."

In the essay I argue that a long time ago, writers in major journals took these questions seriously with a view toward maintaining some vision of integrity in the sport. I cite Harold Drasdo's important 1974 essay, "Climbing as Art" as one important example.

I am definitely concerned that with the newly emerged category of the "professional" climber and the emphasis on exploiting the commercial potential of the sport, important and creative voices are being buried. Especially worrying is the thought that climbing continues to be a reflection of a leisure class with seemingly endless amounts of time and money to burn, a class that is overwhelmingly white, prosperous, and self-satisfied with its view of the world. While I recognize that this has always been the case, any real innovation in the sport, and of course in society as a whole, comes from those outside the system. Trends in the society as a whole, not to mention the Great Recession, are working against diversity of voices and views, a situation that is unhealthy for both climbing and the broader social picture.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Threading the Needle-A Great Vimeo Movie

Threading The Needle from Craig Muderlak on Vimeo.

Every once in a while, a really good lo-fi homemade film comes along. This is a great example. Kudos to its makers for sharing it with the climbing community.

Craig's blog is at

Friday, October 1, 2010

Stone Fort Guidebook

A few weeks ago, Andrew Wellman sent me an advance copy of his new guidebook to one of the more popular areas around Chattanooga, typically known by boulderers as Little Rock City but called by its owner "the Stone Fort." This is not a climbing area I have ever visited before but it certainly looks excellent going by the photos in the book. Lots of gorgeous gray and tan sandstone boulders, beautiful features and holds, mostly flat landings, and low to zero approach times are what await the visitor.

The excellence of the visuals in this book is certainly a major attraction and the layout, maps, and descriptions appear to be very clear user-friendly and accurate. But perhaps the most interesting aspect of the guide is its extensive collection of interviews and essays, digging up the stories of past visitors from decades ago. The feel is one of a close community and having met some of the locals from this area over the summer, I can see why that might be the case.

There is a good pre-order deal and extra motivation in the form of donations to help the medical bills of Lee Means so visit the Greener Grass website to find out more. If I ever make it to the South for bouldering, this book will be in my luggage.