Thursday, November 5, 2015

Summer/Fall News

It is ironic, but the more time I seem to spend climbing, the fewer posts I seem to make... there was a time when every bowlder huntin' trip would be swiftly followed up by a post, even if it was only read by like 4 people.

Well, as you can therefore infer from the recent post (in)frequency, a lot has happened in the last couple months on multiple fronts.

Where to start? The RV Project would be a good place! The RV Project is (/are) a climbing duo: Spenser and Vikki. They travel the continent looking for the best climbing (mostly bouldering), creating delectable media content along the way, and using their gained wisdom to contribute and leave these areas in a better state than when they found them. I urge you to go read their post on the Conscious Climber Project, in addition to other stories from New Mexico. Also give em a follow on FB or instaG.. they're pretty handy at the old photo/words/video thing, so guaranteed they will entertain you with their adventures, plus you might learn a thing or two. Recently, they've nearly finished making a short movie about Ethan Pringle's historic redpoint of Jumbo Love - an epic piece of climbing for sure.. the film is surprisingly emotive, and gives you insight into what exactly goes into climbing something that difficult. Look out for it in 2016!

Spenser jumping on The Odyssey (V10)

Vikki on Too Good To Be American (V3)

So, back to NM, Spenser and Vikki came here on a quick trip last year, and were particularly enamored with the Ortega quartzite (aren't we all?). They actually reckon it's some of the best stone in the country - a big statement from people who have spent four years just searching for this. I've personally never seen better rock anywhere either, but my experience base is a fair bit narrower (West Coast, Southwest, UK).

What we're saying here, as outsiders to the state, is: New Mexicans - wake up! You have a treasure trove of some of the best stone anywhere, and it's on your doorstep! It's something to be mightily proud about. And I suggest getting out and sampling it* before the area blows up and gets trashed by the masses. Or will it? Interestingly, this has been a conversation that has come up a great deal lately, and nicely summarized by Spenser in his most recent blog post.

When the rock is this good, how can you keep your paws off?

No need for me to go over this ground then - just read the RV Project's posts about our chats with the Access Fund, and the dilemmas we have faced concerning the development of a new area. Its been tough - Leave No Trace doesn't leave much room for discussion. Until you consider real impacts like erosion and personal safety. Bouldering is not a Leave No Trace activity. Hell, hiking isn't either. But we can minimize our impact, and we can encourage others to emulate our recreational use patterns, in order to restrict the extent of the damage on the environment. And what about safety? I am of the opinion that moving a few rocks around to save a few ankles is the right and responsible thing to do.

Night sesh on The Outer Reaches (V11)

OK, this post title is about news, not ethics, so lets move swiftly on! I can't even remember where the last post left off... Orange Is The New Black? OK - we put up a BAD ASS V6 to the right of OITNB, called White Collar Crime. It involves multiple big compressioney throws up a 45 deg overhanging prow that pounds your pectoral muscles.. stellar stuff and its quite amazing it has been left until now to be done.

William on White Collar Crime (V6)

And another mega line at Posos that we've been looking at a while got done, The Golden Path V7. Christ, its good, a crimping masterpiece. Im really not sure it gets much better. Noah Kaufman was lucky enough to swoop that one, on his very first day at the area. Spenser got the 2nd ascent.. I meanwhile made the crux a few times but punted off the final committing big move. Psyched to get back, but now its started snowing, climbing at 9000' is likely to be off the menu til next year.

Noah Kaufman on The Golden Path (V7)

FINALLY got a chance to do some splorin', and search for Jay Foley's mystery "Impeccable Boulder". With a set of instructions much like Indiana Jones had for the Lost Ark, me Spenser and Vikki set off in search of this enigmatic boulder, hidden on the Jarita Mesa. Well, we found it! Pretty easily too. AMAZING rock quality, it lived up to the name. Didn't have chance to climb the crimpy lines on it yet, psyched to do so next season.

The Impeccable Boulder

Amazing multicolor slab

Oh and we also found a world class roof - actually Mr Bissell had mentioned it to me a few years back, so calling it a discovery is a bit disingenuous, but his crappy iPhone pictures made it look 6' tall and totally undermined any true discovery rights he may have had - ok.. I dont like using the trite phrase "world class", because what does it mean?! But I use it here, as it seems appropriate. World class meaning a one in a million line that seems to hover on the delicate line of possible/impossible. Theres a few starts, one exit, perfect big moves with opposed sloped holds and terrible feet. We think it will go - V13? 14? 15? 16..? Im not a world class climber so I have no idea. But it sure is cool to look at.

And... the Los Alamos crew have been busy up at Ortega West, and with the discovery of a new area, Gnosis. More info in a future blog.

What else? Noah Rayburn took a break from climbing wind turbines to nab the FA of a classic hanging arete at Nosos, The Goat Milker Arete V6. The scary bad landing has kept other climbers away until now. And Spenser/Eric Natzke established another bold line, Rolling Thunder V3, a slabby, lazer-cut 20' arete with crux at top.

Anything else happen? Plenty... outta time for this post though! Also... Im like 99% complete on the guidebook. Off to the printers soon! Exciting!

* Email me for beta if you can't find any. I will respond.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Roy / Nosos video

From Keenan and Eric's roadtrip earlier this year. Psyched for the new season to begin! Soon!

The Middle of Somewhere from Keenan Takahashi on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Hocus Posos

So it's been a month since the last post, I guess its time for a few more pics from bowlder land. The Posos circuit keeps expanding, with lots of work from myself, William Penner, Nat Gustafson, Kendo, Neal Wostbrock and a few others lending a hand.

Perhaps the most notable discovery was Fury Road (V4). Honestly, this problem was a one in a million - an overhang that is located on top of one of the outcrops, fairly close to the edge of the cliff, with a landing just big enough to be safe. Due to its location, it got missed by us, until I literally just looked up one day and saw the Rocklands-esque nose. Incredibly, the line had holds, and even more incredibly, it climbed really well, with big moves on big holds, heel hooks, heel toe cams, kneebar potential, a crux deadpoint throw and a crucial toe hook compression move. Long too, almost pumpy. Honestly - one of the best of the grade I have ever done anywhere, save perhaps Moonshine Roof. William Penner got the FA, shortly followed by Nat Gustafson and myself.

One other notable send for me was getting the FA of Orange is the New Black (V8). Notable mainly due to the fact that its the hardest FA Ive ever done, a very cool experience to put something up that is close to my limit. Maybe its a 7, but either way, pretty challenging. I dont normally care that much who does what first, but apparently this one did make me feel good about myself. Very cool climbing - a compression line on crimpy sidepulls with a bomber heel hook that allows this improbable line to go.

Fury Road from below. Looks good eh?

Drew on Fury Road (V4). On the fifth/sixth move, lining up to make the crux deadpoint to a sloper crimp.

Hard to photograph the lower section of Fury Road, but heres an attempt.

Scott figuring out beta for his new line, currently unnamed V5/6 on the Mezzanine.

William on a mega new project line going up cream face. 

 Neal showing an impressive amount of commitment to a friction move finish on the FA of this striking arete, Chutes and Ladders V5.

Orange Is the New Black goes up the left-hand side of this overhang, about 40 degrees overhung.

Another new project, this one is very burly.

What's that?....

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

New problems at Posos

Back to Posos, our summer refuge in the Ortegas. Hitting it hard, and amazingly it has been yielding. In fact by my count we have tripled the number of "must do" problems at the main Where The Cows Drink sector. And still rollin...

Posos is so nice in the summer.. we've even been climbing in temps of 60s when albuquerque and the rest of NM has been roasting. Seen baby elk and baby coyotes on the drive up too... such an awesome spot.

Here are some shots of the "instant classics" we cleaned and established in the last month.

Posos/Where The Cows Drink north outcrop

A photo posted by William Penner (@melvinmills) on

Me on a very nice vertical crimping problem, Fallen Empire V5. Pretty much perfect for its style.

On the same block (Contraband) the opposite face is even taller. This is William on his new mega line, "War Boy" V6. A really stunner of a highball, cruxy start with compression moves then great moves between incuts leading to a rest on a ledge and a seriously committing high step, all on magnificent rock.

Mother Love Bone (V6/7) on the Aspen Overhang. Probably the single best feature at Posos. The line is interesting in the fact that it can be done many different ways - some would say this detracts a little, but just go with whatever appeals. The holds and the line are both amazing. The sit looks desperate but might go too.

Molly just chillin on a random spot of grass under a bright orange roof on "The Veranda"

New pup's in town

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Tahoe Bouldering Guides: Outlying Areas (including Loon Lake!) is out now

Well I've waited a long time to write this post. 4 years ago I wrote a guide to Loon Lake, my beloved bouldering area in Tahoe which I helped develop. 350 problems, give or take.. not too shabby. Dave Hatchett - the man! - took my notes and photos and incorporated it into his amazing Tahoe Bouldering Guides, and it got put in the "Outlying Areas" volume, which has been the last to be completed. Dave also visited Loon a few times, and managed to improve the landing of the incredible Chasing Rainbows project, and sent the stand (v5) and sit (v7). 4 star line, maybe the best in Loon (as I predicted). Can't wait to re-visit and climb the line that always taunted me. And there are still some incredible projects - the perky arete (pic1 pic2) and the vader boulder compression line to name two.

I think the website hasn't quite been updated yet, but go here for the book page or check out the FB page for more info.

Loon Lake is a BEAUTIFUL place. Different from much of the rest of Tahoe in that the boulders are out in the open, on incredible Tuolumne Meadows-esque glacially-carved slabs and bowls. Some of the rock is as good as Bishop (the Outer Loonies). Perhaps the main negatives are the long winding drive through the crystal basin from Hwy-50, and the fact that its so sunny and hot out there half the time it isnt covered in snow. But notwithstanding these detractions, I urge the Californians amongst you (are there any who are still reading this blog?!) to use the new guide and get out there! I have many fond memories of camping by the lake, with either the party atmosphere of the summertime with the 4wheelers, or in the Fall, a completely lonely, remote feeling destination.

Ok, so throwback time. Here are a few of my favourite lines out there, that I have photos of. Some of them I even managed to snag the FAs!

Silk Cut V6 (FA Liam Vance). Short - like 2 moves really!! - but such a clean, pure compression line

Shipwrecked V4 (FA Dave Nunley). An atypical Tahoe problem - beautiful steep jug haul on really good welded tuff

Point Counterpoint V1 (FA Owen Summerscales). Super clean friction slab by the water front. Like Bishop, but without the polish.

Big Whitey V1!!! (FA Owen Summerscales) Oh my.. one of my all time favourites at Loon. So freaking GOOD!! Pretty damn highball, dihedral, rounded textured comfy jug layback, clean rock... just get on this and try to resist the urge to climb all the way to the top...

Nautilus Roof V3 (FA Owen Summerscales). An awesome high foot slab move to get established, then just super fun moves over the top. Sloper jugs!!

Discworld V6 (FA Owen Summerscales).  Yes its a traverse, but its a damn good one, featuring a heel-toe cam, and slopers that are really hard to hang off, enabled by just one single foot chip, and a pumpy finish. I give this all the stars.

Maybe Its Maybelline V2 (FA Owen Summerscales).  Not as long as I'd like it to be, but very nice problem for its 8' or so of climbing. Great holds and heel hooks.