Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Out Of Africa

I thought this was just great. Awesome soundtrack. AMAZING punt on Black Shadow. I usually dislike videos like this but for whatever reason I really liked this one.

Friday, December 16, 2011

History Lesson

When I was a younger climber I used to collect guidebooks. I enjoyed the possibility of going to a new area and each time I'd open a new book I'd instinctively flip to the history section.

One of the things that continues to draw me towards climbing is how diverse each area can be. Whether that's a different type of rock or a new set of ethics and style, no one place is the same as the next.

Looking at Devil's Lake in particular, it's incredible the rich history we get to see every time we drive over the last hill or around the next corner and the water comes into view. I'm always struck by the landscape when we bring a person that hasn't been to the area before. Inevitably they're taken aback by how cool of an area it is.

Our climbing history is filled with a similar, awe inspiring nature. Weissner, Zschiesche, Cleveland, Bechler, Groth, Gill. It's amazing when you really start to think about it.

About 5-6 years ago I was working in Fontana and was ringing some dude out. Forgot long ago what he was buying but as I grabbed his card to swipe it I spied the name. Rich Bechler.

I paused for a few seconds before asking him if he was the climber, which he was. We chatted about Huston's recent lead of Acid Rock for a few minutes, before grabbed his bag and walked out the door.

All I remember was being in some sort of awe that I'd actually just met a DL legend.

A year or so later a buddy of mine got a summer job with a t-shirt printing company, I think. A few days into it he went into his bosses office for some reason and saw a climbing picture on the wall that he hadn't noticed before. They struck up a conversation about it and after a few minutes he found out his bosses last name.


A few days ago Katie and I had a nice little night at the gym. It was great. Quiet. Low energy. Good People. We climbed some things, fell off of others. One of the better nights at the gym recently.

About 3/4 of the way through the night a friend of mine walked up and sat down. I hadn't seen him in years and it took me a second to recognize him. We chatted for a while about boulders, hidden areas that he'd long forgotten about and other randomness.

He's a classic, old school dude. Total hippy and it's great. I really enjoyed seeing him again and we made each other promise to climb together next season. I told him we'd show him all the new stuff that's gone up and he seemed psyched.

The whole time we were talking, Pat and Ellen milled around us. Adam, Sam and Blake were all working on various problems. I think Jeremy was at the desk and little Luke may have been around somewhere too. I'm sure none of them knew who I was talking to, nor did anyone realize that he's largely responsible for much of the bouldering at Devil's Lake.

My friend was someone that no one in the gym would have given pause to. I guess that's one of the other reasons I love our history here. It's totally unassuming.

As he got up, said goodbye and got ready to head home for the night Katie looked at me and asked, "Who was that?".

"Oh that was Paul...He found the Reserve."

Monday, December 12, 2011


5 Years Ago:

Perfect Medium was a V9 and hadn't been repeated in 7-8 years. It was considered to be classic and a testpiece for the area. One of the best at the lake.

Keymaker was an unrepeated enigma and no one knew where the holds were above the break. It was rated V11 and intimidated anyone and everyone who looked at it.

Alpine Club had been done 4-5 times at most, and the words "Bump" and "Heel Hook" weren't even considered.

The Reserve was still a very secretive area and directions were best given by saying "Just look for the orange dots on the trees".

Nobody knew where Jenga was. Sadly I was lumped into a sorry group that went to the boulder 3 times without ever seeing Super Slab or Moj. We dismissed the area as "Too far out of the way to be worth anything".

Sandstone Violence was still unrepeated and Group Camp B was the sole bouldering area at Governor Dodge, aside from the Godfather Boulder.

Eliminates were seen as a necessity since the Lake was "Climbed Out".

This was posted on Mountain Project when a new boulder went up in 2006: "I think realistically finding a truly new route near all the climbs on the West, let alone a whole boulder, is incredibly unlikely."

Fast forward to today:

Perfect Medium is an 8 now and has been done about 10 times in 2-3 years time. It's considered a mediocre problem at best and an entire area has been discovered below it, holding one of the hardest projects in the park.

Keymaker has been done 4 times now and rests at "V10.1" according to Nic. The holds are continually chalked and the intimidation factor has dropped considerably. Jeff Sillcox called it "World Class" on his first day at the lake.

Alpine Club has now been done 8 times in the last three years. Twice via the traditional method, three times via the bump and three times in the past month and a half with the new found heel hook. On top of that it's been done twice by women.

Secret areas are rarely an issue any longer and information is freely distributed among nearly all of the boulderers at the lake. Mountain Project has become an immense resource for the newer climber and I love that it's turned into something so useful.

Directions seem to be ever evolving and Jenga, in particular, has turned into a premier area at the lake. There seems to be no limit to what people will hike to solely for the prospect of a new boulder and exploration, while a bit slower this year, is still my sole motivation and the driving force of future potential at the lake.

Governor Dodge went from having roughly 50 boulder problems at a couple of areas to having close to 250 problems at a number of areas. Sweaty, Dobbe, Remo, Travis and Eggy were largely responsible for this and none of them get the credit they deserve for this. It was a huge effort and Dodge seems to fall behind Devil's Lake in many respects. We should all feel incredibly lucky to have an area like that so close to home.

Eliminates and variations are currently a thing of the past and pretty much everyone that boulders at the lake looks for the prime lines that abound throughout the park. The sheer amount of rock seems to lend itself to beautiful, solitary lines with obvious moves. Oddly enough, people seem to see the potential for slight variations of classic boulders, but instead of going for it they decide that their time would be better spent looking for a new boulder.

Some things never change I guess. HAH!

In all honesty, I feel privileged to have been a small part of the renaissance that we've experienced over the past 2-3 years. There isn't a single person who's responsible for what's happened around here, but the fact that it's been driven by a core group of excited people has made it so much better.

5 years ago very few people were bouldering at the lake. There were just over 100 problems established, many of which were eliminates. As it stands we have over 400 problems posted on Mountain Project. Granted, there are lots of variations and a handful of eliminates posted but I can guarantee that there are well over 300 high quality boulder problems established at the lake at the moment.

On top of that, much of the East Bluff has yet to be developed and the Fire Road is still one of the few areas at the lake that holds immense potential. As time goes on people will change and faces will come and go. I hope that the one constant is continual development of high quality problems.

I wrote a post back in September that I intended to be my last. I was fed up with a number of things and tired of the drama that seemed to always creep up. I didn't finish it but it was always in the back of my mind. Then, when the drama popped up again last month I finished the post, planning on posting it once the season was done.

I told Katie and had her read it. In turn she told Vera, Chris and Sarah. All of them were visibly mad that I'd stop the blog and it made me feel like some people still care what I write about.

After an anonymous commenter brought up the "clique", I was so happy with the support that came from so many different voices. It was unexpected and made me feel great.

I do want to apologize if I've ever made anyone feel unwelcome here. I started this site a few years ago with the hope of growing the community and creating some excitement for the amazing bouldering at Devil's Lake. I feel like I've succeeded in that.

All that said, I have friends that I enjoy climbing with and there are people that I don't enjoy climbing with. As my climbing days continue to dwindle I feel less and less compelled to climb with anyone but my closest of friends.

I guess I'll leave it up to everyone that reads as to how long I keep the gnar updated and going. Not sure how long it will last but we'll see, right? I'll leave you with the last little bit of that other post. Thanks for another great season at the lake.

If I had to leave with one thought for everyone at the lake out there it'd be this.

Don't settle.

There are incredible, amazing lines being found each year. Dog Walk, Muffin Top and Tipping Point are perfect examples. All three were 50 yards from established classics AND trails. Two of those were found by complete accident. Walk around that final corner. Go up the bluff you know in your gut has already been explored. Turn over every rock and find the PRIME lines. Don't settle for something that isn't amazing.

Devil's Lake is host to some incredible, undone boulder problems. It's just a matter of finding them!

Thursday, December 1, 2011


So I bought "A Fine Line" the other day. I'd watched it at Nic's and liked it enough to download a copy too. It's a good flick and I can honestly say it's one of the better climbing videos I've seen.

That said, it still left me without something. Don't get me wrong, the cinematography was amazing and the composition of many of the shots was absolutely beautiful. On top of that, my expectations may have been a bit bloated because it's received an incredible amount of press for being a step better than anything else out there, past or present.

At its core though, it's still just a climbing video. It still follows that same script that we all know. Boy finds a friend. Friends climb very hard. Friends go on trip. Friends climb very hard on trip. Friends get homesick and come back home. Friends find new area. Chick climbs for a bit. Friends climb amazing looking, perfect line. Roll credits.

How they ended the movie was PERFECT. Beyond perfect, really. Peter Beal was great and was a perfect voice to lay over everything else. Jimmy and Brion came across on video wonderfully and I absolutely loved the scenery and setting shots.

What I did like about it was that it was more than just another video. There were set shots that were perfectly composed. All of the textures in the film came out amazingly and I really enjoyed the extra clips that made it stand out among its peers.

More than anything, it has "re-watch" value.

At its core though, climbing is years behind other sports in terms of the quality of our videos/movies/films.

I don't like skiing. I don't like to watch it. I don't like to do it. It's just always seemed clunky to me and I haven't been on ski's in 15 years. I've gravitated towards snowboarding ever since I tried it years ago and it's always seemed more "fluid". More natural. I enjoy watching and doing it more than I ever enjoyed skiing Personal preference.

This morning though, Huston posted an absolutely amazing clip from a ski film called All.I.Can.

Words won't come close to giving it the justice it deserves so I won't speak to the clip too much. Click the little HD button. Let it load. Watch it on full screen. In my eyes the Ueli segment from the Eiger is the only thing that even comes remotely close to this in terms of quality, and that one is a long ways off from this.

I hope climbing can produce this type of quality at some point in the future.


JP Auclair Street Segment (from All.I.Can.) from Sherpas Cinema on Vimeo.