Wednesday, May 13, 2009

To be Reincarnated as Glue and Sloppy Joes

      As readers of this blog well know, I've always been a bit lame. Whether or not you've openly characterized me as such, you've certainly perceived a certain underlying lameness in me. 'He's, well, kind of lame...' you've no doubt caught yourself thinking. So I guess it will come as no real surprise as I report on the recent manifestations of my latent lameness. I took a spill on Get Over It a week ago, and tore my left ACL, lateral meniscus, and medial meniscus. I'll be limping into the surgical theater on Thursday, and limping for a while thereafter*. 

        So, with one awkward fall, my summer reading list has supplanted my summer project list. It's just as well (painful, forced smile). I rather dislike climbing in the alpine areas of Colorado in the summer (grinding teeth). The rock quality sucks (red face, bulging blood vessels). And it's not as if I really wanted to send anything (visible madness, thinly-veiled hysteria!!!).  I'm sure I'll take up some other fun "hobby" (single tear...). 


* Actually, to be clear, I don't intend to limp anywhere. I intend for Simone to cart me around in a bright red Radio Flyer, while I sip on drinks adorned with little umbrellas and grow smugly corpulent. I will finally realize the full utilitarian component of dog ownership.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Wishful Thinking, 2009

In following the great climbing tradition* of posting projects on blog sites, I've created a wish list of Colorado boulder problems that I'd like to climb this year. My goals are lofty, and I'll be amazed if I climb even half of these problems. Still, the list serves as an outline for my spring, summer, and fall seasons, and it's nice to get a sense of where I'll be expending my effort for the rest of 2009. There's also a certain utility to outlining my projects, as it might get others to join me for a session or two. (Not that I view potential partners in a strictly utilitarian light. I will value your company as long as you carry lots of pads and thoroughly explain the beta. I promise. Oh, and do you have a stick brush? That would really be helpful.)

         In order to give the list focus, and because I don't know exactly where I'll be traveling in the near term, I've only included problems from Colorado. I'll try to make progress reports on a monthly basis, and will include photos and videos in future posts. So, without further ado, here it is. A list I'll call Wishful Thinking, 2009:

Veritas (V11), RMNP:  I spent about four or five days last year on the stand start, which I was finally able to climb. I then put in another ten days trying the sit start. I can link the two sections fairly easily, but lack the energetic where-with-all to top it out. Sadly, a crucial foothold recently broke, which will require some beta modification for me.  It remains to be seen how difficult it will feel now.

Stinkbug (V10/11), RMNP:  I've yet to do the first move. The end is pretty tough for me. I know, that bodes ill. Still, after three days of effort, I'm delusional enough to think that it's possible. 

Get Over It (V10), Big Elk Meadows:  I've probably spent about ten days on this over three years. I have everything but the top-out pretty well wired. I know what you're thinking: 'The top is the crux. If the crux was at the bottom you would have given up long ago, frustrated by the lack of ascension. It's easy to get sucked in when you're able to do a few gateway moves.' Good point. 

Whispers of Wisdom (V10), RMNP:  I've only really tried it once, but it's arguably the best V10 in Colorado, so I'm ready to invest much more time. 

Riddles in the Dark (V10), RMNP:  I've pulled on once or twice, but have never given it an earnest session. However, I like roof climbing, and would love to try this one when the snow bank below it is still high. 

The Aristocrat (V9), RMNP:  While this might not be the most noteworthy problem in the Park, I've found myself on it over three days or so, and have done all the moves. It'll be nice to finish it.

Deep Puddle Dynamics (V9), RMNP:  I spent several days on this several years ago. I'm pretty sure I've done most to the moves. Can't really remember. This is another one I hope to try while there's a snowbank.

Fluid Mechanics (V9), Clear Creek Canyon:  It seems as though this problem would fit my style, yet I've spent three days on it to no avail. I guess I'll just have to try harder.

Real Large (V9), RMNP:  This one's not that inspiring, but it's just across the way from Whispers of Wisdom, and has some enjoyable moves. 

Hollow's Way (V8), Flagstaff Mt.:  This is the most aesthetic line on Flagstaff Mt. I've spent two days on it, but haven't really worked out the final move to the lip yet. 

Small Axe (V8), Poudre Canyon:  I've only seen photos and video of this, but it looks absolutely classic. I suppose I need to find out how to get there before I try it. Little help? 

The Nothing (V8), Mt. Evans:  I've never even been to Area D, where this line resides, but it looks stunning. And, of course, the setting is overwhelmingly beautiful. 

Seurat (V8), Mt. Evans:  I've only really spotted others on this climb. It's not really of my style, but I suppose that's all the more reason to give it a go. Plus, it's a singular and gorgeous line. 

Tilt (V8), Poudre Canyon:  Again, never tried it, but have always wanted to. 

The White Man's Burden Project (V7ish), Isabelle Lake:  This is a relatively small boulder problem on beautiful rock, three miles back in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Its location, added to the fact that the crux involves a puny little dyno to a nice crimp, led to my tongue-in-cheek name for the project. There is very little else to climb on here, except for a problem I put up a couple of years ago which I named Manifest Destiny (V5). However, it's close to Isabelle Lake and Isabelle Glacier, which makes for a fetching setting. Plus, if you time it right, you can return from an outing with pounds of tasty mushrooms.  

Against Humanity (V7), Poudre Canyon:  I tried this one day, and arrogantly thought I would snatch it up quickly. After several hours of frustration, there is still a move I haven't even figured out how to do. Humbling, to be sure.

Immortality (V7), Redcliff:  I should have done this a couple of years ago, but simply got too scared at the top.   

Simple (V6), Poudre Canyon:  I've never even been to this, but have seen video. It looks fun. Would somebody mind telling me how to get there?

Germ-Free Adolescence (V5), Eldorado Canyon:  It's hard to believe that I've lived in Boulder as long as I have without climbing this John Sherman testpiece. Admittedly, viewing through my new-school lenses, I'd really like to do the low start, which weighs in at V7, and the low-right entry, which is called Here Comes Sickness (V8).  


* By tradition, I mean in the fickle, myopic, media-crazed sense. The truest sense, that is. 

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Joe's Valley Post as a Pretext for an Apology

I know, I know. I haven't posted anything in quite some time. I'm terribly sorry. Although nobody has actually formally complained (or really mentioned it at all, for that matter), I know that you are secretly hurt. When I've given unprompted apologies for my lack of blogging activity, you've feigned indifference and, at times, relief. But I'm keenly aware that if I were to scratch through your stolid veneer, I would find a deeply despondent human being. You may comport yourself with a stiff upper lip, but I know you harbor an insatiable craving for my marginally serviceable climbing media. You want to hear about the V6s I've climbed. You need to see photos of Simone lying in the dirt. You must return to Lithic Loafing daily.

Well, fret not, all ye faithful. Spring is here. I have a new pair of climbing shoes. I'm drinking more wine than ever (it's a part of my formal education now). Everything is in place for low-budget spray and self-aggrandizing bullshit. I promise to deliver. 

In the meantime, enjoy these shots that I recently took of some tough kids in Joe's Valley, Utah. I said ENJOY, damn you! 

Sander Pick on Trent's Mom.

Kevin Cuckovich on Beyond Life.

Jamie Emerson on Black Lung.

Kevin on Planet of the Apes.

Sander on Anti-Future Plan.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


For me, bouldering is about going out and convening with nature. It's about energetic sessions with friends. It's about a goal-oriented sort of physical training. It's about puzzle-solving, and mind games. It's about reduction and expansion, deconstruction and reconstruction. It's about sex, booze, and cash-money...

Sometimes, for me, bouldering is also about success -- the feeling of unqualified achievement that's all too rare. And luckily, two days ago, I was able to bask in the momentary glory of success by climbing my ultimate project, Slider.  It's truly a rock climbing masterpiece, with classic moves on impeccable stone. I've been incessantly daydreaming about it since first examining it last year, and I am SO HAPPY to add it to my tick list. 

One of the things I love about climbing in the Southeast is that -- in a wonderful union of geological and biological morphology -- many of the boulder problems here fit me. Slider is just one case in point. To be sure, this region holds a high concentration of problems between V5 and V10, which helps. There's a lot for me to choose from. But beyond grades, I find the holds and moves on many problems here to be especially accommodating to my style. I seem to have fewer of the pitched battles that characterize my time in Colorado, and I actually get to the top every now and again. Climbing here is the height of hedonism in an already self-indulgent activity. It's been a great trip. I will miss this place sorely.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, here is my ascent of Slider (V9) at Horse Pens 40, Alabama. After having read the rhapsodic prose about my experience on southeastern sandstone, you might be surprised to see such an ungainly oaf clambering his way to the top of this gem. However, I assure you that this has nothing to do with my climbing style and everything to do with the cinematographic quality of the clip. Enjoy! 

UPDATE: For much better footage of Slider, as well as a few other SE sandstone classics, see Scotty Gross' blog.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Rumbling Bald

I left Colorado over two weeks ago with the intention of climbing in the Southeast for a month. So far, I've only logged in six days of climbing, and have spent the rest of the time schmoozing with friends and family. Now that I'm finally regaining my curmudgeonly composure and swearing off all social interactions that aren't directly related to climbing, I find myself beset by bad weather. Karma? Nonsense. Go to hell.*

Anyway, here are some photos that I snapped on the East Side of Rumbling Bald.  


Anthony on Pit BBQ

Anthony on Brackish Water

Danielle on the Uplifter

A couple of moves through Panhandler

Finishing out the day on the North Carolinian

*You all know that I'm joking, right? Please call. I'm ever so lonely...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My despair knows many names...

And today it hails as "Kansas." The mind-numbing traverse across this government-subsidized expanse of land is not fun. Quite the antithesis of fun, actually. If only the scenery was as sweet as the high-fructose corn syrup that has its provenance in the petrochemical laden soils here. If only the views were as rich as the feedlot beef that are tenderly fattened on the delectable edibles (read: raw materials) reaped from these monocultural acres. Then Kansas would be a sight to behold -- a veritable paradise. Instead, it's a big, gray eye-sore, through which I reluctantly trudge. In fact, the only two factors allowing me to persevere, rather than abort my mission, are: 1) I know that great Southern sandstone and motivated partners lie on the other side, and 2) I have been assured by knowledgeable Kansans (via billboard) that abortion will lead to my inexorable damnation. So I choose life instead.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Joe's Valley

Last week, I spent four days climbing in Joe's Valley, where I was reminded -- as if I could ever forget -- how much I like sandstone. I was also reminded that static climbing has its limitations, and if I'm ever to be a more versatile boulderer, I must overcome my aversion to dynamic movement. Indeed, nearly every classic line that I attempted in Joe's involves a difficult throw or deadpoint. This style of climbing is not within my skill-set, but I wish it was. So I'll be heading back to Joe's in two weeks, with hopes of learning a thing or two about the biomechanics of huck (or, failing that, I'll find out where all the static, lock-off problems reside).  

Justin warming up on the Angler.

Big Joe

They Call Him Jordan. They call me a goddamn chump who couldn't jump if his life depended on it. And one day it might. Who knows?

Simone is an honest dog, who doesn't feign motivation when tired. Instead, she rests her ragged paws and worn muscles, and laughs at the cavalier conceits of her human companions who refuse to do the same.

Justin executing "the move" on Maxipad.

Team Effort

See? Team Effort.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Last Friday, Justin and I found ourselves at Mt. Evans again, on what was so far the chilliest morning of the season.  On previous trips, Justin was charitable enough to allow me to climb on Bierstadt early in the day, with favorable conditions.  By the time we would walk over to his project, Seurat, it would be baking in the sun, slick as marble. This day, however, we headed straight for the merciless crack, with the sun still sequestered to nether regions of the horizon.  After just a few attempts, Justin climbed Seurat, executing with style and grace (and animated facial expressions, as illustrated below). Well done, sir. Well done.

Justin explores the interface between anguish and euphoria on Seurat.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


SENT!!! YES!!!

*All-caps and exclamation points are useful in conveying the full thrust of my excitement, wouldn't you say? Oh, and I nearly forget:  SO PSYCHED!!!