Friday, November 28, 2008

More Akansas Bouldering

Now that Thanksgiving and Black Friday are almost done; I am officially getting fat. Visiting my family and where I grew up in Memphis is great, but my motivation tends to plummet whenever I return home. The good news is that I'm leaving Monday morning for Chattanooga for a three week visit. I'll get to see an old friend and compete in the third leg of the Triple Crown. Definitely won't win, but it should be fun.

So on the note of visiting places, Arkansas was pleasent as was hoped. I climbed a total of seven out of the eight days I was there with six consecutively at the end. On Saturday, Jason, Ariel, Pierre, and I went to the Ranch. Good times as always. Once again, Ariel came close to sending Dig Dug and almost pulled off the second ascent of a new problem I established that day called B2SB approximately v4. I also established a line next to it called Forgotten But Not Lost. Both climb a blank face on several features to a nice topout.

On Sunday, Cole Fennel, Jason Haas, Brian Stuenkel, Dan Hickstein, Rob, and I went to Invasion. I had the chance to visit for the first time in the heat of this past summer and was astounded by the quality and quantity of boulders and routes. Unfortunately, this time it was bone-chilling cold and I was the only one to send something cleanly. I managed a boulder problem left of the Invasion Wall called Electraraillica. It was a nice mid-grade roof send as a consolation to not sending Her Majesty, which has some extremely tough tension movement. As any trip in that area should, the night finished at Ozark Cafe. Such good food after you've been abusing your body all day.
After a good night's sleep at Chad and Rhonda Watkin's House, everyone returned to Ozark Cafe to get Monday started off right. Sam's Throne was on the agenda for the day, and I was excited since I had never been. The place was amazing! I couldn't believe all the routes, the quality of the stone, the features, and the colors. Everyone more than atoned for thier Sunday performances, climbing route after route on gear. I attempted my first gear route and almost flashed. Too bad I don't really know how to use a crack. However, I did establish three more mid-grade boulder problems in an area called the Patio Boulders. The easiest of the three, Porch Monkey, is by itself, and climbs a face to a prow at ten feet. The next two are on the same wall. How Much is the easier of these two and comes in around v6. It begins on double underclings with a right dropknee above your head. You stab up and right to a rail, make a left hand move to a crimp and mantle. A good problem and possibly done, but Clay Frisbee's current Arkansas guidebook says nothing of it. Four feet to the left of that is a seem for a right hand with thin fingers and a left hand mono stack pinch. Fighting Mentality is around v9 and begins on these holds, stabs for a two finger bucket at the lip, and mantles the lip. This climb is probably unclimbed, but again Arkansas Rock makes no mention of this. The good news is that Cole Fennel is publishing a new guidebook for Arkansas through Jason Haas's company Fixed Pin. IT should be of the highest quality and clear up some gray area in the state as far as climbing is concerned.

Tuesday, I went to Area 74 with Pierre and Rob. I had planned on taking pictures the whole day, but after a running dyno session I had to put on the boots. Everyone climbed well with both Rob and Pierre coming fairly close to sending Ripple Effect and Poppa Dickey. Rob coached me through my first running dyno and I tried to teach him how to mentally complete a climb when you can physically do it. Turns out that Rob is a better teacher/cheerleader. Enjoy the pics.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mark Twight: Kiss or Kill

Last Thursday I departed for a week-long (not to be confused with the "furlong") visit to my parents house in Newark, Delaware or NeDe I suppose it would be called if anyone here had any pride for their place. Prior to my flight my buddy Rob lent me his copy of Mark Twights Kiss or Kill. I knew very little about Mark Twight and held no preconceptions. By the time I was descending into Philadelphia I had finished half of the book. This auto-biography is a unique collection of old and sometimes re-written passages that recounts the most influential climbs of Mark Twight's career.
Twight lead a rather runout lifestyle cutting away from him anyone or anything that got to close and/or prevented him from concentrating on climbing. He was able to disolve relationships faster than snow melts when held under warm rushing water. His passion, or more appropriatly, his obsession for the craggy peaks of the Alps or the illusive summits of the Himalayas smothered the first half if not three-quarters of Kiss or Kill. His journal entries are obsessive, filled with emotion, and at first-thought seem to balance pracariously on the ridge of self-masochism and suicide. However, at a little over half way through the book, there is a subtle change in his writing. Mark's most profound changes occur in his climbing style and his personal life. Ironically, he seems to lighten up a bit. The reader is left to decide whether it is indeed a true change in Twights soul or simply just him giving into the majority. A majority who practice a form of alpinism which Mark claims is lightened by technology and a lack of ethics. Either way you sway, if you are a climber, a boulderer, or an alpinist, his stories are highly inspirational and also get the reader to asses the past, present, and future of their sport.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Tonto and the Lone Ranger

Well, life without my sons has been tough. I enough spending time with my other half in Arkansas, but not too many people act like my sons. They can be overly crude sometimes, but they keep me on my toes and young. Good news is that Rob and I should be climbing together all weekend in the AR. I have never really climbed with him in Arkansas, so it should be a great time. As for my other son, he is preparing to dominate a climbing competition over the Thanksgiving break in Delaware. Maybe there will be good news from that end as well.

So, since I've arrived in Arkansas, all my successful climbing has come on solo missions. I climbed Thursday with a bunch of friends, and was able to take some pictures, but didn't really get anything accomplished as far as climbing is concerned. Ariel Smith and Lauren Anders both managed to complete The Fin at Area 74. Both had been working hard on the problem and benefited from the temps and getting to work the problem with another girl of similar size. Needless to say, we were all excited for them. At the end of the day I tried one of the many projects I brushed while I was out with a finger injury last spring. I thought the project would be in the 10-12 range, but I have a tendency to overlook feet. Unfortunately, this particular project is completely out of my league, but the good news is that it is definitely possible.

Today, I paid the Goat Farm a visit. Though it doesn't have many climbs, it is a wonderful place to visit on a cold afternoon as it is south facing and the Goat Farm is only 12 miles from the University of Arkansas. The Goat Farm holds two note-worthy boulder problems: The Butcher and Crimpit's Tea Room. Both climb crimps on a 15 degree overhanging face and are of extremely high quality. Within 15 minutes the Butcher was completed and I had moved down the wall to Crimpit's. Crimpit's was first climbed by Blake Strickland around Thanksgiving in 2003. Since then, it has only seen two other ascents to my knowledge, so I was quite pleased to be siting on top of the rock after another 45 minutes of effort. It is an amazing feeling to complete climbs that you have always dreamed of doing, and to have been doing them at will since arriving in Arkansas is empowering. Well, tomorrow Jason, Pierre, Ariel, I and others will hopefully meet up with Rob for some climbing at Horseshoe Canyon. 'Til next time.
Lauren on The Fin

Hansel is a wonderful moderate on the right end on the Crimpit's wall.

The Butcher is a two move dyno on the far left of the wall, and Crimpit's climbs between the orange streaks in the foreground.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


"You can't be picky in a bad economy"

Sunday evening was a sad time in Colorado for me, but exciting to be starting the journey. Sunday was spent climbing in Clear Creek with the closest person person to me, second only to Jason. It was a good climbing and better company. That evening, goodbyes were said and ways were parted for the time being. It's sad to put things on hold, but hopefully all the members of my family will have open arms whenever I return. I left at one in the morning and arrived seventeen hours later after two naps and several stops for pictures. I still don't have a usb cord, so no pictures but that will come eventually.
Today was spent at Area 74 cleaning and climbing projects. Hopefully two of the projects that were cleaned for the third time today in the past year will be climbable when I return on Thursday. Another several projects were considered but were determined to be impossibly hard for two days of effort this week. I did, however, manage to make the likely third ascent of Ryan Sewell's Oracle. This is an amazing problem on the main wall, which climbs an blank overhanging face on a pinch, sloper, and terrible crimps with a slight dyno at the end. Unfortunately, like most of the climbs on the main wall, it drops off at a jug after the dyno, but still a spectacular climb. Jason is always asking if I am going to try this climb of if I will attempt it. I don't know why, but he is enamored with this climb. Well, without is enthusiasm I wouldn't have tried it today. The old Bad Girls project was sent. This too is an unbelievable climb. It traverse right to left on a completely vertical face utilizing right hand bumps on small crimps and a hig left heel-hook. The finish is either a dyno or a climb. I saved the dyno for Jason's wishes and did the climb portion, which now goes by The House of Magic for a local gym owner. This man's gym is affectionately referred to as the climb's name, because he sets the hardest traverses and effectively teaches levitation. Anyway, a great climb and maybe both are soft for the grade of V11, but it will be difficult to say since Jason is probably one of the only other people psyched and strong enough to climb something that difficult, and he only has one good clavical.
Well, tomorrow it is off to the Goat Farm for two rarely sent problems with Pierre.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Food Poisoning is Not the Waddage

So, exactly that, the only thing that might be worse than food poisoning are paper cuts from cardboard, and that's only because their intensity is shorter lived.  I managed to cook a meal the night before yesterday for a special someone and Youngmoney.  Well, turns out I was the only one to get sick, which is fine, but the soup came out all wrong from the beginning.  Wrong consistency, missing ingredients, but at least it had love.  Starting yesterday around 4 in the a.m., I could not sleep and couldn't keep anything inside me.  Simply terrible.  I spent the whole day by myself trying to sleep and trying to work on a portfolio, but no such luck on either.  

Last night, I decided to give up early and go to bed.  The one person I wanted to see could not be found, but such is life.  To quote Jason, "they can't do it like you," sums up why I wanted that help above all the others.  So, another sleepless night, which is why this post has such a crazy timestamp.  It was one of those where you think you are sleeping and surely it must be almost daybreak, but in actuality it's 1:45 and the eternity you spent in the half and half land was only 3 hours.  If this is what hell is like, I hope I'm not damned with such a fate.

On a brighter note, Youngmoney, Mr. Delaware, a fellow named Jordan, two girls (one of which is the special one), myself, and probably some other unknown gentlemen are going to the desert this weekend for a little climbing.  I've always thought if you can't like trad climbing in Indian Creek, then you can't like it.  We'll see if that holds true.  Also, if everything goes well, I should have a new camera by then, and hopefully Mr. Delaware will give me some tutorials on howda use dat new camera.  

Goodnight moon. 

Monday, November 3, 2008

Every New Beginning Comes from Some Other Beginning's End

I am going to start off by saying that the last post is what it is.  No apologies, but that could very well be a typical post from Rob.  Jason thought it would be a good idea to have several people administrate this blog and give others the opportunity to share their lives as guest authors in the starting lineup.  Should be a refreshing mix of stories and styles.

As Rob said, yesterday he, Greg, and I went to Eldo for "church."  They went for the more appropriate reason (trad climbing) and I for bouldering.  The purpose of the trip was exploration on my part and for the boys to get and take photos for Steve Lavin's upcoming Eldorado Canyon guide Book.  Should be a good one, but only if the boys make the front cover.  Also, as Rob said, "church" lasted a long time yesterday which gave me time call the parental units, have my phone die, and get up a roadside piece of rock known as the Milton Boulder.  Fairly classic boulder I suppose, but I certainly got on better problems earlier in the day (Elegant Universe, Lost, and Blade Runner).  In a half hour I had gone from considering doing a climb to standing on top of the rock listening to hikers cheer for what they had just witnessed.  Never Say Never was the climb.  I'm not sure, but I don't think it has been climbed by many people but that's mostly because the boulders come from the walls, so why not climb hundreds of feet instead of fifteen.  Cool problem at the end of it all, and exciting to have done it.

Today marks the last week that I will be a shoe salesman at Clarks (  The past two and a half months have had their highs and lows, and I will miss the job.  Not so much the sixty hours a week and only getting paid for forty of it, but the people who come through the door.  Clarks made me realize that I love making people happy, not as a people pleaser but through random acts of kindness, sincerity, and a smile on my face.  Learning to serve others in a selfless fashion is completely humbling and rewarding without parallel.  The job was just that, a job, and I'm looking for something a little more fulfilling.  So this last week of work marks a new beginning and the end of another.  In a few weeks I will leave Boulder for a climbing trip until the summer comes or my funds get to a predetermined limit.  I have never taken a journey like this, so it should be a wonderful exploration of countryside and self.  Hopefully I can post words and pictures along the way.  Arrevederci.

skimp tities

Dem tits are skimp.  Mah gran'mamy don told mah dat if yo ass don't catch da firs bus deres always anotha one.  Mah pops tol' mah dat you gosta test drive da whip befo' you cop it.  Flagscrap is aight, but Eldo is like tits on glass, DYNAMITE.  Curmudgeon went down yesterday, javid sandbagged me with some wrong beta, but once i got the proper shit down it went real quick.  bouldering is the shit, i miss bouldering quite a bit.  sometimes i axe myself why don't i boulder more often, but then i realize that i like climbing more that 8 feet.  Church was in session today at eldo, we were about 5 minutes late, but thats alright we had to get breakfast.  The congregation was still opening with the introductory song:  (Praise to the god in the highest).  So we roll in the parking lot and my main damie, da choir boi, Jason scoops us with his craghound and we embark to get reall religious on some climbing.  Blowin past boties on the approach, we needed jesus to forgive us of our sins.  After being forgivin fo' our trespasses, we start on some stemming shit to a tips crack, continue to another dihedral with some stemming then holler at some Land of Ra.  Ra was a saint who died in a car crash a few years back, true story.  You know some bodies only stay in church for an hour, but my family likes to stay all day, you know bible study, shoot the shit with the priest, confession, baptizisms, yea dats spelt right, confirmations, choir practice.  Climbing is not just a sport or a lifestyle but a religion.  

Copyright 11/2/08 


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Starting is Always the Hardest

For the past week in Arkansas the conditions have been getting really good. Temperatures have been around a high of 60 and a low of 25. It seems as though the season is coming a lot faster this year than in years past, but still the best temps are a ways away.

Several weeks ago my brother and I adventured out to Invasion to see what it was about. The Invasion is a very majestic place with quite a few routes, all of high quality, and many undeveloped boulders. After less than 30 minutes of hiking we came across a beautiful boulder with a line from left to right on a rail system. After talking to several locals we found out that the boulder had not been sent, but was known as Her Majesty and thought to go at V10. The boulder is quite amazing and I can't wait to give it some efforts.

Her Majesty