Friday, February 26, 2010


I was going to do another trip post today but something else came up. Here you go, for what it's worth. I would really appreciate your comments and thoughts on this one.

Access is a very funny thing. I don't think many of us really spend all that much time thinking about it, even though we should. It seems that the only time we think about it is when something goes wrong. When we can't count on it or take it for granted any longer.

The dirty truth is that climbing access is not a "right" but rather a privilege. While this is something that most of us can understand, there are still people out there who don't quite "get it". I prefer to surround myself with the former, rather than the latter but, alas, access is one of those polarizing conversations.

Last night I went back up to my office before leaving for home and found a letter from Rib Mountain State Park on my desk. I waited until I got home to open it as I was somewhat resigned to what was more than likely inside.

Just after Thanksgiving Aaron and Josh took a few of us around the park for a chilly day of bouldering. We had a small run in with the ranger but he eventually let us climb for the day. In the process he let us know that Rock Climbing wasn't actually allowed in the park.

We thanked him and before he left I made sure to get his card. A couple days later I wrote to him and stated the case for access. We had a couple of other correspondences throughout the winter, but nothing of too much importance until yesterday.

I'll spare you of too many details unless you really want to hear them. The basics are this:

1 - From 2003-2005 Rib Mountain State Park underwent a long range planning process.

2 - During that time the main area of the park, where all of the bouldering that we saw was located, was designated a State Natural Area.

3 - Rock Climbing is not permitted in State Natural Areas.

4 - Rib Mountain is working on getting proper signage up informing visitors of the climbing restrictions.

It's not done, but it's certainly not optimistic. I'll be the first to admit that I haven't really contributed anything to the Rib community. Seth, Josh, Dobbe, Aaron and Remo have all invested more time there than I ever will, but it would have been a nice surprise to get a different letter.

The DNR brought up a number of reasons for the closure. In my eyes some were valid and some were a bit off, but that's my opinion and possibly that's why I don't make the rules.

It seems the climbing community is ever growing in the number of climbers but somehow ever shrinking in the number of areas we get to climb at. I can't decide if more people would grow awareness and actually open areas or if it will turn out to be the opposite.

In the relatively tight midwestern community losing open access to an area like this is a big blow. It always scares me that something similar will happen at DL(not too likely) or Dodge(a little more likely). We're amazingly lucky to have these areas so close to us and losing one would be a huge blow.

One of the most precarious things we as climbers tend to do is to take ownership of an area. I know I do it to a certain extent with Devil's Lake and there are many people that do the same with Governor Dodge. We start to think of these areas as our own. As something that we're entitled to or can control. That's when things start to go wrong and we start to lose control.

I'll leave you with a story of two unnamed climbers. Some of you know them, some of you don't. I mean this as no disrespect to either of them but it illustrates what I've been trying to explain better than I ever could.

I came in to Boulders a couple years ago, mid winter, and stumbled upon two climbers pseudo fighting. Obviously I eavesdropped.

We'd just hit a bit of a warm spell and things were just barely climbable. The first unnamed climber, lets call them Sven, drove to Governor Dodge to get on some routes at the Qual Wall. In the process Sven drove around the locked gate that leads to the parking and the climbing. Sven went climbing and upon arriving back at their car Sven found a ticket and some REALLY pissed off rangers.

Apparently climbing on bolts that the rangers don't approve of after driving around a locked gate really got the rangers going. Who knew?

Strike 1.

The second unnamed climber, lets call them Olie, heard about the above story and got rightly pissed. Olie started yelling. In the process Olie yelled something to the effect of "Don't fuck up access for MY crag!!".

What got to me about Olie's comment was two things. First was the ownership idea. Second was that I've known Olie to have climbed a decent amount at Gibraltar since its been closed. Anyone who climbs at an area after its closed only fucks up access that much more.

Strike 2.

So here we have two climbers, Sven and Olie. Sven must have felt some amount of ownership. Instead of walking another 50 yards, Sven drove through the snow, AROUND a locked gate and up an unplowed road. All this to get to some bolts that the park absolutely abhors.

And then we've got Olie who was obviously just looking out for the park. Excuse me, OLIE'S park. Meanwhile Olie was making trips to Gibraltar to climb on closed routes. If Olie ever got caught out at Gibraltar, much like Sven was caught at Dodge, it would all but assure even more permanent closure of the area. I'm not really sure how that area could be anymore closed, but man, that place would get the permanent shutdown so fast we wouldn't know what to do with ourselves.

Strike 3 for both Sven and Olie.

The feeling of ownership can be a very powerful thing if it's used correctly. Taking care of an area because you care about it is a perfect example. Urging others to do the same is another. Unfortunately that's not how most people think. To most people ownership just gives them free reign. That kinda scares me.

I'm done.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Southerly Way - Dayton Pocket Day 1

After a nice little rest day hanging out in Chattanooga we were all ready to get out again. RV especially, after blowing a bit of money at Rock/Creek on some new kicks and a new jacket. It was like speed spending.

After getting a tip from Nic we decided to go out to Dayton Pocket for the day. We printed off some directions and went out.

We surprisingly found ourselves in the parking lot without a hitch. This may have been a first. We got everything packed up and started out down the old mining road. The absolute beauty of the place was amazing! All of the mist from the river was freezing in the air and the resulting flurries combined with the bright sun made for an almost magical feel all day long. We kept on catching ourselves talking about how incredible the area was.

RV on the foot bridge. We were a bit too wide with the big pads

I was enamored with these things in the river

Some random ninja found us and tried to kill us with an icicle. It broke.

After an hour or so of messing around and exploring, we made our way to the first objective, River Dance. The problem sits directly next to the river and has an almost perfect line. A cool series of compression moves takes you to the crux slap and then to some awesome jugs!

We warmed up on said jugs for a little while before setting our sights on the problem. Unfortunately the snow and ice from the previous day was melting onto our landing. On top of that the mist from the river was soaking everything and we were having a rough time keeping our shoes dry.

I figured out the first couple of moves relatively quickly and set my sights on the big slap move. What an crazy move!! After a high right heel you just slap up to a flat wall and then bump to the jugs.

The water was higher than I expected it to be and I kept on waiting for my left hand to dry fire. We kept on awkwardly joking about us falling in the water, knowing all the while that it was an actual possibility. Funnier now.

After some more serious effort I was getting closer to sticking the crux move but couldn't quite muster the core to hold it. On top of that, I wanted to save some skin for the roof.

Katie also gave it some good effort but had some troubles with the cold, wet heel hooks. We walked back towards the roof, or where we thought the roof would be. Once more we found everything without a hitch! Not sure what was up but we were pretty excited when we saw this:

Pretty incredible. The roof was amazing and there are holds everywhere on it! Minds were blown.

After a bit of awe and running around like idiots, we all started to warm up once more. We picked out the V5, I can't remember the name sadly. Maybe Recollections? I watched and took pictures as Katie worked out the moves. RV hopped on and did it second or third go as a nice warm up while Katie got really close before deciding that it hurt too much.

A really cool archway just below the roof

Katie and RV hanging out for a bit at the makeshift campsite

RV Sending Recollections

On the big move

And Again...

I hopped on for a flash go and got nice and lucky. It all felt good and before I knew it I was dropping off of the jug with numb fingers.

Katie then set her sights on Torpedo and RV and I tried in vain to locate the start of Honeycomb. Still not totally sure where it starts. We ended up starting at a gigantic flat jug and moved into a cool double undercling. We were able to figure out all of the moves but one and eventually gave up until we knew what the line actually was.

Katie, meanwhile, had been giving some great goes on Torpedo, a neighboring 7. Torpedo climbs out of the roof on a cool "torpedo" like feature. All the while you climb out on little crimpy slots before turning 90 degrees, matching and making a big move to a jug.

She did a great job with the beta and pretty soon was just being stymied by the long move to the jug. She made some GREAT links and looked supremely close.

Moving to the jug

Into the last slot before the big move

Trying really hard to get motivated...And failing.

With a possibility of three more days of climbing she wanted to save her skin a little bit and stopped for the day.

RV hemmed and hawed about whether he wanted to give it a try. Once we convinced him to we had to convince him to try and flash it. Maybe 10 minutes later he was putting his shoes on for a flash go. He made it further than he thought he would and came off just before the big move to the jug.

A smile on his face, he worked out some of the other moves and vowed to come back. I had since been done so we packed up and went back to the hot tub for the night!

Huge thanks to Nic for the great beta. Such a very cool place and I'd highly recommend it to anyone in the area.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Southerly Way - Horse Pens Day 3

We'd been checking the weather forecast regularly while at Horse Pens and things were looking up for Day 3. It kept saying mid 40's and partly sunny. Perfect.

Well, they were closer at least. As opposed to saying 45 and sunny and it being 36 and snowy, things were much more optimistic come morning. For one, there were actually some blue skies and a bit of sun! Fantastic.

RV warming his shoes by the fire

The sheriff says its GO TIME

We started off the day by warming up near Slush Puppy and had a great time running from problem to problem in the sun. It was nice to get some unfrozen climbing time in and just relax for a little bit.

Warming up on a cool little mantle

Eventually I moved up to the one move wonder that RV was working on the previous day. I wanted to boot up and give it a good flash go so I set everything up, tried hard and failed miserably. I just couldn't get the distance no matter what I tried. I got close to the sloper but could never reel it in. Oh well.

On the first move




RV and I switched spots hoping for better results but he came up empty handed as well. No dice for us so we moved back down the corridor to finish up Slush Puppy. RV wanted to try and finish it up and Katie was excited about trying it.

RV was fighting through the pain in his fingertips and Katie was working on re-warming up. RV made it back to his high point but was having a hard time finding motivation until Katie started walking up the lower moves with ease. We joked a lot on this trip about the "Well if SHE can do it" type of reaction that Katie and I see, mostly in the gym. It happens regularly and it's always entertaining and at the same time, a bit sad. It always speaks volumes about the power of an ego.

Pretty soon both of them were getting close to the left gaston and RV had latched it once but came down. After a quick shoe switch to a bit of a stiffer left boot in the Testarossa he went up and sent the problem. I threw a quick lap on it and reaffirmed how much I enjoy it.

The Sheriff and her shoe baby

iRVine on Slush Puppy

Katie prepping her 'spottin booties'

'Spottin booties' in action

Katie was having a tougher time reaching the high gaston though. I was wondering if it was going to be an issue with her short stature. She was able to reach a worse gaston a bit lower but was having a really hard time getting that extra half inch. She came down announcing that it was her last go. After getting back to her high point once more, she bounced her thumb up and caught the lower part of the gaston and somehow pulled her body back in. She quickly got the rest of her fingers into the hold and reeled it in. After stepping up on the good right foot she stood up and swore a little bit after seeing that she couldn't reach the jug, like everyone else can! She pulled a couple of tough moves and then rolled over the topout with a smile.

Rampant sex appeal was everywhere

Katie on the second move...

Starting the big move...

Big ol reach

Katie came down happy and asked me what she did to get up there. She really had no clue.

We took a break and went to have some soup back at camp. Upon coming back I was supremely psyched on trying to do Supa Coola, a fun but short sloper problem around the corner from Bum Boy. I'd tried it years ago and gotten royally shut down. Couldn't even pull off the ground. Sad really.

I came back this year and before I even tried the move I knew it could go. It just felt better. RV and I started trying it and pretty quickly I was starting to get good distance on the tricky first move. The crux is pulling up on a bad sloper and a slopey crimp and then firing to a good open handed edge. After that it's not too bad, just kinda odd. I started to get close and after a REALLY painful dry fire, I hit the good edge and went to the top.

At the start...


Starting to get all awkward 'n' stuff...


I was really happy to have done the problem so quickly and it was nice to finish it off. Super fun problem!

With that success behind me we moved the pads over to Five-O just next door. RV had been interested in it earlier in the day and after climbing on Supa Coola I got in the mood too. We quickly figured out the opening moves and moved on to the crux squeeze sequence. Every time that I thought I'd figured out the move something just didn't quite work. It looked relatively straight forward but neither of us could figure out the one link move to get up into the slopers.

My extremely successful flash go

Such good slopers

At the start of the crux

Massive Failure

RV trying his voodoo magic

Trying all sorts of stuff

Didn't quite work

RV on the big move before the crux


With energy and skin draining from us we each gave it a couple more all out goes but came up empty handed. RV though came up bloody handed.

Who's blood is that??

Ahh, yes...that's it.

With us being done and the sun shining again Katie decided that she wanted to try some more stuff to finish up the day. She channeled Aaron(you woulda been proud) and gave several problems repeated efforts, one after the other. Here's a quick montage of her efforts. Might want to put 'Eye of the Tiger' on in the background. It was an impressive amount of effort on a bunch of problems.

On Hammerhead...

Gunning for the pocket

Who's that sexy man??  Me.


On the traverse

More traversity goodness

Setting up for the BIG move on Mulletino

Thinking of how rad the Thief is

Getting ready to deal with some pain

On the lowdown

Looking all sultry n stuff

Little brusher boy

Copa Cabana, Uno

Copa Cabana, Dos

Copa Cabana, Tres!!

Katie ended up finishing the day on Copa Cabana, a really cool V3 that climbs up a blunt arete. She came really close to flashing it and then gave it 5 or 6 more goes to finish it. We both agreed that he best go was the flash attempt and that her energy waned after that. Funny how that works.

We packed up our stuff and left HP 40 in our rear view mirrors, hoping for better weather in Chatty. More soon...