Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Santa Barbara Climbing History in Print: V

Note: Recently I've spent some time compiling and scanning as much printed medium that I could find that covers climbing in the Santa Barbara area. Originally intended to be one post, I've broken it up into what will be several, with some [I think] cool stuff that appeared in books, magazines, and newspaper articles over the years.
Part V: 1997-2003
Kings of The Castle - Climbing - November 1997
Wills wrote this short piece in winter 1997 in Climbing's old section that they had highlighting home walls. Ahhhh, the good old days. You know, back when Climbing Magazine was actually worth reading (although on its last legs).

This one brings back fond memories, showing a little slice of life into what The Castle was at that time, which from the picture that they printed (unbelievably) was bordering on unbridled chaos. I recall that the editors wouldn't let Wills print any of the better pictures because no one was 'climbing' in them, so they printed the one that had Arvind the Maniac on the Stairmaster wall, while the Pukester attacked a burning couch (which ended up in the swimming pool) with a pair of garden shears.

Like I've said many times before, it all looks a bit nuts in hindsight, but at the time everything seemed perfectly normal...

Enlightenment Ridge Guide - Reese Martin - Spring 1998
In 1998, prolific Central Coast developer Reese Martin put out a guide to the Enlightenment Ridge Area of Pine Mountain. A little odd, certainly, to put out a guide for an area within an area, but it was where Reese was spending a lot of his time at the time, so that's what it is.

What it also is, is some of the worst mapping I've ever seen. While Steve Edwards' maps to the Brickyard and Lizard's Mouth were, ahem, not good, Reese went one better in confusion out here at Pine Mountain. No doubt Reese definitely had prodigious talents, but cartography was not even close to being one of them.

After Steve put out his Falcon guide in 2000, which had overlooked a lot of Reese's Pine Mountain information and re-named a number of problems, I went back and tried to set the record straight, which was a complete nightmare because of the atrocious maps. After many long hours of walking the area and trying to figure out what Reese had called what and what Steve had called what, I feel fairly confident that I got it [mostly] correct, but Kee-Rist it wasn't easy.

This guide was put out as an extra in the old SoCal mag "Mother Rock", which sort of carried on where Allez had left off and I believe remained in print from 1996 until 1999 or so??

On a side note: Reese Martin, a prolific first ascentionist and tireless worker for the Access Fund and climbing related issues, as well as a charming ladies man and all-around good guy, passed away in a paragliding accident in 2004. Reese, shown below on the far right in black, at
The Players Ball 1997.

(from l-r: Steve "Emmanuel Overdrive" Edwards, unknown dame Edwards picked up at The Agave the night before - "We're having a party tomorrow, you should come.", Shandor "Condor" Madjar, The Bruce, a hidden Reed Bartlett (in (p)leather and (p)ink pants), and Reese Martin)

Pine Mountain Bouldering - Climbing - May 1998
One of the best magazine style mini-guides I've ever seen was this one for Pine Mountain that Wills Young put together when he was living in Ojai and doing very little except for scouting new problems and climbing his ass off.

This thing covered about 7 pages of the May issue encompassing a couple hundred boulder problems, most of the ones that people are still climbing on exclusively today (meaning the plums had been picked by a VERY motivated crew). It's true that there's a lot more bouldering out on Pine Mountain still, but it's also true that you could take this 13 year old mini-guide out there and come away 100% satisfied with what is truly one of my all-time favorite areas.

Another bit of trivia is the notation of Whiplash, which was likely at the time one of the top 5 hardest problems in California. Wills' original rating for the problem was V11, as it was logged in the Edwards guide to Santa Barbara Bouldering. Knowing that this mini-guide was going to see a MUCH larger audience, Wills chose to bump the grade of Whiplash down to V10 in a show of humility. Sadly, these days most climbers would bump their first ascent ratings "up" (probably "way up"), and never "down". After shutting down all takers, including myself for over 5 years, I put Whiplash back to it's original V11 rating when I put out Ocean's 11. And I might add that it has seen VERY few confirmed ascents in the last 13 years.

Rock Climbing Santa Barbara and Ventura
- Steve Edwards - October 2000

I've already expressed my distaste for these hideous Falcon guides. They remind me of some weirdo Communist book publisher where everything looks exactly the same and is homogenized down to the last dot. I hate the way they look on my bookshelf and I hate what climbers have allowed them to do to the climbing guidebook publishing game. A lot of the older climbing guides had a shitload of 'flair' for lack of a btter word. I miss that. I miss it a lot. And then there came these big publisher house sanitized guides with 300 pages of enormous areas of coverage that I can pretty much wipe my ass with. Pffft.

That said, Steve put out the best Falcon guide I've seen because he somehow managed to get them to allow a little of himself in it (read: a little, had he self-published it would've been WAAAY better).

The other funny thing about this book is that in the 13 years it's been out, I don't think I've ever used it. My copy still looks like the day I got it. By the time this book came out I had done the old Santa Barbara lines I was interested in and had switched to bouldering nearly full time and was already working on my own book.

Climber's Learn A Leg Up - Greg Crouch - SB News Press - Fall 1998?This was just a short newspaper article that I came across in some stuff that I had cut out and couldn't resist revisiting it. Written by Santa Barbara native cum bitchin' outdoor adventure author and badass Patagonia sufferer Greg Crouch, it's your standard puff piece to get the masses psyched on climbing. The genius of this piece is that when Greg went to Goleta Valley Athletic Club to visit their newly built climbing wall, the guy at the desk (who knew very little about climbing and didn't know Greg was friends with Steve) kept telling him that "Steve Edwards runs the climbing program here at GVAC and he is a world renowned climber". The brilliance of this didn't escape Greg, who mentioned it a couple of times in the article, including the photo caption at right. I think at the time, after we all got in some good-natured jabs at Steve "Mr. World Famous", Steve replied, "Well, I guess I know people from all over the world, right?"

Ocean's 11: Bouldering Around Santa Barbara
- Some Jackass Wrote It - April 2003

I'm not going to say much on this one, for obvious reasons. And I'm sure that every critical comment I've given on someone else's project could likely apply to O11.

There are things I'd do different on it now, but overall I am s
till pleased with how this book turned out and I remain quite proud of it. For me, it was mostly a little time-capsule detailing a pretty good few years of climbing history in Santa Barbara. Carrying on the SoCal tradition of "hot chick on not-so good route" on the cover, along with the gratuitous inclusion of the best dog that ever lived on the cover shot with her, and also more photos of a dog inside the book than of any of the humans, how could I go wrong?

The question now is, what's next, and who does it, and how?

I hate to think that physical guidebooks are a thing of the past, but that may be the case. Since I only sell about 5 copies a year, I have enough O11 in stock to last for a while and it's still relevant, but certainly not "up-to-date". Stacks of stuff has been done, new areas have been discovered. Hopefully someone will step up and document their own little time-capsule in some way, because I, for one, would like to read about it.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Santa Barbara Climbing History In Print: IV

Note: Recently I've spent some time compiling and scanning as much printed medium that I could find that covers climbing in the Santa Barbara area. Originally intended to be one post, I've broken it up into what will be several, with some [I think] cool stuff that appeared in books, magazines, and newspaper articles over the years.

Part IV: 1995- 1997

SoCal Bouldering Guide - 2nd Edition - 1995
1995 brought along a revised and much expanded SoCal Bouldering guide from Craig Fry, including topos and select problem listings for Lizard's Mouth, The Brickyard and Painted Cave. Also included was a short write-up with some excellent photos of the The Swimming Hole, which also garnered the coveted cover shot showing SoCal bouldering legend Jeff Johnson on Shock Wave (a photo erroneously identified in the credits as Paul Anderson, although everyone knows Paul never had that much hair). In a mighty coup, Jeff also nabbed the back cover shot of the guide as well, busting out Streetcar in J-Tree.

Another guide dear to my heart, before moving to Santa Barbara this was the book I had in hand when I went bouldering up at The Brickyard for the first time in 1996 (I'd been up to Painted Cave and Lizard's Mouth the year prior on another road trip). While a topo of The Yard was provided in the text, it was, shall we say, not so helpful. Luckily for me, I met two locals bouldering there (Steve Edwards and Chris Leube) which made things a bit easier to find.

One unfortunate part of the book is the photograph of "The Brickyard Technique", where the climber 'clips in' to avoid the consequences of frightening topouts. Particularly offensive to bouldering in general, in that the Brickyard chapter is followed by The Swimming Hole, where pretty much the best landing out there was higher and flatter than anything The Brickyard had to offer for spice. Luckily this "Brickyard Technique" never caught on.

Rock and Ice - Tar Creek Bouldering by Wills Young - January 1997
Next up, Wills put out this nice mini-guide to The Swimming Hole aka Tar Creek in the winter of '97. Due to some, shall we say, personality conflicts between Wills and another Swimming Hole developer Jeff Johnson, it's not the most complete guide that it could have been. Jeff was generally anti-publicity about The Swimming Hole (he truly didn't either anticipate or welcome the interest that Sherman's book provided to Tar Creek), and since Jeff was the longest running local of the area, he essentially refused to offer information about many things that had/had not been done. Because of that, some names are incorrect, and some problems that had names aren't named, but it's a nice little guide to get you there nonetheless, and Wills did his best to sway the masses with the tales of the epic hike, wild animals, horrific landings, etc.

Santa Barbara Bouldering - Steve Edwards - 1997
Finally, the first "real" bouldering guide
to the area was Steve Edwards' excellent Santa Barbara Bouldering, which covered in detail for the first time, The Lizard's Mouth, Painted Cave, The Brickyard, Red Rock, Westmont College Boulder and Pine Mountain (access issues at the time prevented publication of The Swimming Hole). Most notable of the guide was the cover shot is of a guy who has only bouldered outdoors a handful of times, and I'm not talking about the legendary dog who's standing on the summit (a 2 year old Ratso). The boulderer in question is [a much younger than now] Phil Requist, who on the very few times I have gotten him out bouldering, have seen him dispatch with some damn hard things (I recall him flashing Grotesque Old Woman at The Brickyard). Pretty sure he fired Red Rock's awesome The Seven Year Plan very quickly that day of the photo.

The book itself is another of those kind that I love. Obviously put together on a shoestring budget but with a lot of care and stacks of work put into it. It was also put out at the time when I was so rabid about bouldering and living in Santa Barbara that I did almost nothing else but climb.

As much as I love it though, the maps to the more difficult areas of the Brickyard and The Lizard's Mouth completely blow. Steve is a man of many talents, topography was never one of them. I still have my original copy of this guide, where I was trying to do every single problem in it (came remarkably close), but there's a lot of notations of "Can't find it, doesn't make sense." Of course, then you get Steve out there with you one day and he shows you where stuff is and it makes perfect sense, but that's not really the point of a guidebook, to have the author standing there guiding you. Right?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Santa Barbara Climbing History In Print: III

Note: Recently I've spent some time compiling and scanning as much printed medium that I could find that covers climbing in the Santa Barbara area. Originally intended to be one post, I've broken it up into what will be several, with some [I think] cool stuff that appeared in books, magazines, and newspaper articles over the years.

Part III: 1990-1995

SoCal Bouldering - Craig Fry - First Edition 1990

1990 brought us what was to become the bible of Socal bouldering for many years, Craig Fry's original volume covering areas from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border. A true achievement in good information and number of areas covered, this is a really great book. Regarding Santa Barbara/Ventura in particular, we have the first printed mention of a newly discovered bouldering area called "The Brickyard" along with a note that "the Lizard's Mouth is not that great for bouldering", hmmmm, tell that to folks these days.

Mostly, the Santa Barbara/Ventura chapter is taken up with topos of Painted Cave and a nice photo of a very young and mustachioed Rob Raker busting out the
Old Soft Hsu, padless of course, although sporting a thick 'stache like Rob's is a form of toproping and totally cheating. If Raker were to fein falling off of anything that day, his mustache would have prevented it, and at the very least, caught him. Also of note is the infamous notation on the old Jonny Woodward line left of Static Eliminator, "Flake Broke Doesn't Go". Static Eliminator itself is erroneously noted as Finger Cank (sic) 5.11+, while The Baby's Head is noted as "Static Eliminator 5.10+".

Pine Mountain, although mentioned in Tucker's 1981 guide, is completely overlooked, although I'm guessing that this has more to do with remoteness and a lack of any real information on it. Overall, a great guide.

Climbing! - Stephen Tucker/Kevin Steele - 1994

Thirteen years passed on after Tucker's first "real" Central Coast climbing guide before the next rendition of a comprehensive guidebook for the area appeared in late 1994. This time in the form of another excellent tome by Tucker, with Kevin Steele assisting.

Rock climbing had undoubtedly become much more popular in the time between the first guide in 1981 and this one, so the updated edition arrived with much anticipation and was quickly swept up. In fact, by the time I moved to Santa Barbara in late 1996, the Tucker/Steele book was sold out.

One of the things about this book that I've noticed (and liked) is thumbing through the index by looking at star ratings, which shows a dirth of stars practically anywhere, evidence that the authors actually had their heads on straight and weren't trying to lead people to some fucking pile of shit in the hills just by giving it a star. If a route in this guide has a star rating, it likely deserved to be done, the rest of the routes, well, it's Santa Barbara choss, if you dig that sort of thing then, maybe you'll dig the route.

While greatly expanding on the hundreds of new routes put up since the original guide, this one also happened to come out on the cusp of even more development, missing out on a lot of the new bouldering in the area, and roped routes at newly discovered chosspiles like Silly Rock up in north county and The Playground on West Camino Cielo. Overall, an excellent book filled with an excellent local history and a lot of information that is still completely relevant and useful today. On a sentimental note, when I moved to town, this was "the book", and I love it just for that.

Stone Crusade - John Sherman - 1994

When John Sherman did his grand bouldering tour of America in the early 90's for his upcoming book, Stone Crusade, he was unimpressed with the Santa Barbara areas that were seeing more development at the time (The Lizard's Mouth and The Brickyard in particular), however he was more than impressed with what he saw at The Swimming Hole outside of Fillmore in the Sespe wilderness.

Right up Sherman's alley, The Swimming Hole was a maze of a gargantuan boulders climbed by a select few guys with equally gargantuan gonads, and Sherman practically created the legend of The Swimming Hole in his excellent piece written for it, highlighting the two main activists of the area at the time, Jeff Johnson and Paul Anderson. The write-up on The Swimming Hole was my favorite part of the book before I even decided to move to the area and remains one of my favorite climbing write-ups ever. While it created a sort of legendary status to the two climbers featured (Jeff and Paul), and having gotten to climb and know both of them quite well over the past decade, their legendary status in the history of American bouldering is more than deserving. The outstanding photo of Johnson on the epic crux move of Tar Face says it all about our beloved Swimming Hole.

Rock and Ice - Guide to Santa Barbara by Steve Edwards - 1994

Perhaps thinking that the long promised 'new' Tucker guide to Santa Barbara would never come, Steve Edwards, owner of "Just Another @#$%$ Video Shop/Climbing Boutique", jumped into the fray with this nice article in Rock and Ice. It briefly covered several areas with hand drawn topos and selected routes (basically the good ones, or at least ones that he put up).

The best part about the piece isn't the information though. It is the excellent, funny intro that Steve wrote, which, especially looking back, brings back fond memories. I mean, the guy references Carl Jung in a fricking climbing magazine...EPIC. And he also says that if you come there you "can stay at my place". He wasn't joking (I did), and up to this very day he pretty much has the same open invitation.

Another great tidbit in the article is the often forgotten fact that local mutant Phil Requist once climbed at a place that wasn't The Owl Tor. And he climbed at that place, Cold Springs Dome, with the same habitual schedule that he now climbs at the Tor. Steve brings up Bambino's $100 Challenge to follow him for a day at the steep Cold Springs wall, which no one ever collected on, 30 laps being his record (at the time). On another note, the Silly Rock area was discovered and bolted later on in 1994/1995 and I'd be willing to bet that Phil has never been back to Cold Springs since. Click on the photo for the article.

The Swimming Hole - 1994
In the Swimming Hole section of Stone Crusade, Sherman hinted that 'an underground guide is in the works'. Well, that guide actually did happen, but precious few ever saw a copy of it, because it was kept very low profile. And, no, you weren't on the list.

Achieving something of a legendary status because of John Sherman's "Stone Crusade", the Swimming Hole was still largely under the radar, mainly because people were completely scared off by it, and rightly so. Lines at The Swimming Hole were big, hard, and bold and were put up in an era/area where toprope inspection and pad-stacking were decidedly not accepted.

The underground Swimming Hole guide to bouldering is the kind I absolutely love, pure local. Hand scribbled topos, a handful of action shots and short but entertaining route descriptions: The Handicapper B2- R/X "...more than scary", or on the notoriously scary and rarely repeated Paul Anderson testpiece A Touch Too Much, "Touchy."

Put together on a Xerox machine, folded up and handed out to a handful of friends. Just perfect.

Hot Flashes - In the Light of Day - Climbing Magazine, November 1994

Just a short one (albeit with a nice photograph) to note the first ascent of the best route in Santa Maria (still), Phil "Bambino" Requist's awesome Better Than Life at The Owl Tor. Has it really been almost 17 years? Jesus. The best part about this piece in the Hot Flashes section is that it is placed directly next to another short piece, one describing an attempted ascent of Yosemite's notorious Southern Belle, a route which could not possibly be more opposite. Drilled pockets on sport bolted steep choss on one side, while sparsely protected slab/near vertical with death fall potential occupies the other side of the page. Oddly enough, I think these two routes have seen very close to the same number of ascents over the last 17 years. Go figure.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Santa Barbara Climbing History In Print: I & II

Note: Recently I've spent some time compiling and scanning as much printed medium that I could find that covers climbing in the Santa Barbara area. Originally intended to be one post, I've broken it up into what will be several, with some [I think] cool stuff that appeared in books, magazines, and newspaper articles over the years.

PART I: The 70's

It was a magazine article, not a guidebook, that showcased the first published information on Santa Barbara climbing [that I've come across]. Steve Tucker's introductory article, Climbing in the Santa Barbara Area in Summit Magazine (September 1975), gives us a taste of Santa Barbara-area climbing in the 1970's, which primarily was focused on the Gibraltar rock area and the Sespe Gorge. This is not so surprising, since they are two of the most obvious pieces of somewhat decent rock within 100 miles. But the article also touches on neat tidbits of history, such as the discovery of the steep north face of Cold Springs Dome (no completed routes are mentioned), and the recent "first ascent" of the Euell Gibbon route (The Nose) by the legendary vagabond badass from back east, Henry Barber.

The article is short and only has 3 photos, the best of which shows a climber on Any Minute Now at Gibraltar lead climbing with a backpack on as if he's doing some multi-pitch adventure in The Bugaboos, giving an unknowing reader the impression that you aren't 150 feet from a paved road. This brief expose is a terrific step back into a time when adventure climbing in Santa Barbara was much easier to come by than it is these days, when we have to wait for the hillsides to burn to the ground before exploring remote rock.

Since Summit Magazine is long defunct, I don't think I'll run into any copyright issues by posting the article in it's entirety, so here it is: Summit 1975

PART II: The 80's

For what is essentially a crap area for rock climbing (don't try arguing with me, it's true), Santa Barbara/Ventura for some unknown reason has been covered by a few much better than average guidebooks over the course of 30 years. Stellar climbing areas like Yosemite and Joshua Tree have been burdened in the past with guidebooks that have been downright boring, page after page of black and white maps, photos of cliffsides, and drab text (to be fair, I've heard that both of the new J-Tree books are a step up, but have not seen them yet). Sure they may get you to the right place and tell you how long the pitch is, but beyond that, YAWN. I've always loved perusing climbing guides that had a little bit more to say. Early favorites of mine were Alan Watts' Guide to Smith Rocks and what was the the best of the big ones, John Sherman's 1991 tome for Hueco Tanks
, a guidebook that I bought and read cover to cover 5 years before I ever made it to Hueco.

Why was Sherman's book so good?

Mainly, because it made me laugh. From the prologue all the way through the route descriptions, Verm made an effort to lighten things up and keep you reading to see what he might say next. Genius. In comparison, the latest Hueco guide by Matt Wilder might look pretty, but it's nothing special to read. I spun through it in the mountain shop, but unfortunately didn't feel the need to invest.

In general, I tend toward liking the smaller books not handled by some big publishing house (read: Falcon Guides suck ass, and it is entirely possible that at some point in the future I will detail why this statement is fact). Case in point for the small guys, the outstanding original guide to Santa Barbara, Climbing in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties self published in 1981 by Stephen Tucker. This is a true gem of a guidebook, one of the best of small local guides that I've ever come across. It's got legendary Yvon Chouinard on the cover, excellent hand drawn action images and topos, and lots of action shots of the pioneering local SB crew from the 1970s: Steve Tucker, Chuck and Steve Fitch, Kevin Brown, Doug Hsu, Rick Mosher, and Mike Forkash (first ascentionist of Makunaima and interestingly enough, one of the first climbers that I met after showing up in Santa Barbara). The book is pure joy.

Notable also is the first printed reference to "The Nose", previously referred to as the "Euell-Gibbon Route" at 5.10+ , and the first notation of Lizard's Mouth as laying claim to some of "the newer boulder problems in the area", and Pine Mountain as well, including a photo of local bouldering legend Doug Hsu bouldering in what looks to be The Happy Hunting Grounds area.

This spiral-bound guide is hard to find, in fact after a long time searching, I only finally picked one up 2 or 3 years ago. However, with the number of vintage book stores out there online, it's become a bit easier to seek out obscure titles like this one. Definitely worth the search if you're a climbing history/guidebook buff.

Santa Barbara Sandstone: Climbing Magazine - August 1987
Note: This one escaped my radar until Steve made note of it, hence the addendum.
Here's a short little expose by Frank Brodarick no doubt inspired by some of the recent goings-on in the area, notably Dave Griffith's ascent of Smooth Arete at the Gibraltar area. Not really a great read, it's more of a mini-guide, but it's got a couple nice photos, one of D-Griff on Makumania (sic - also mis-spelled in the text as Makunamia), and another of the always photogenic T-Crack.
Santa Barbara Sandstone

In 1988 came the first proper SoCal "compilation book" (that I have found), which has a brief few chapters on Painted Cave, Gibraltar Rock, San Ysidro, and The Sespe Gorge Wall. No great photos or or anything too interesting here, just basic information at a time when there was very little. Notable is the author's coverage of some obscure SoCal bouldering areas (not Santa Barbara in particular) that likely would be overlooked in a compilation guide put together today.

More notable though, is the author's choosing to use a cover photo of a crappy but photogenic climbing route with a hot chick on it, inspiring many more SoCal guidebooks of the future.

Where To Go When the Surf's Down - Climbing Magazine - July 1989

At the tail end of the decade Ventura activist Reese Martin posted up a short 1-page piece in Climbing magazine highlighting some of the recent development in Ventura and Ojai. Since the only featured photo is of the graffiti-ed artificial Ventura River Wall, I'm not so sure this one inspired many people to head to the coast to get their crank on. A short topo is provided for The Foot (can't say I've ever been there), and Thacher School bouldering, which is so small I went once about 14 years ago and haven't been back since.
Anyways, here's the article: Ventura-Ojai

Monday, April 11, 2011

Shoe Whore

I own 33 pair of shoes.

I am loathe to admit it, since I have been known to viciously berate my girlfriend about her grossly overstocked closet stacked high with [mostly unworn] pumps, flats, high heels, sandals and sneakers.

"They all have a purpose!", she tells me.

'Purpose' often means that there is exactly one outfit, combination, or unworn dress in the closet that the shoe perfectly matches with, and therefore each pair sits there awaiting the prime opportunity for elegant display to the general public.

I never really thought about my own shoe problem until I added yet another sporting activity to my lifestyle and recently bought cross-country ski boots. And I thought to myself, "Kee-rist, how many freaking pair of 'sports footwear' do I have now?" And I started to count them up, which together with far too many pair of 'non-sports' footwear added up to 33. Shocking, I know, particularly for someone who's been known to only wear flip-flops just about everywhere (I have 3 pair of those). Ski boots, snowboard boots, running shoes (3), approach shoes (2), climbing boots (10 - maybe more) , cycling shoes, surf booties, the list goes on.

Admittedly, part of the problem is that I effectively have two residences and I don't like toting all of my shit from one place to the next. So while I normally would only have one approach shoe, I in fact have two, one here in Santa Barbara and another at the cabin in the Sierra. Same with running shoes and flip flops. For a long time my climbing shoes outnumbered all of my other shoes put together because I pretty much wore flip flops or sneakers and the rest of the time I was rock climbing. But really, why do I need so many pairs of rock boots? Given the amount of time I spend climbing these days (much, much less than it used to be), I certainly don't. But I'm not gonna throw them away. I mean, those 1994 La Sportiva Kendos with a nearly fresh resole are just waiting for the right route. And I've gotta have the Five-Ten Ascents (a pair at each residence) for those endurance bouldering sessions and the Newton's for all that Tuolumne granite that I've been meaning to get back on the last few years...

I guess I see what Deb is saying, they all have a purpose and when you need them, they'll be there, ready and waiting.

Just had a thought.
Do snowshoes count? Ummm, 34.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Allez - Southern California's Crag Mag

In mid-1994, Santa Barbara climbers Steve Edwards, Phil Requist, and Binky Greene got together to produce the short lived SoCal climbing rag,
Allez. The focus of Allez was primarily on hard sport-climbing, competitions, training, and [increasingly] by the 4th issue, varying degrees of oddities often having absolutely nothing to do with climbing (at left, the uber-classic "Sharp Stick Instructions' by Belt Potter).

Encompassing summer 1
994 until fall of 1995 for a total of 5 issues, the first four issues were printed and distributed old school, the fifth and final issue was available exclusively online (pretty visionary back in 1995). Unfortunately, that final issue is gone forever, as it was lost off of a hard drive many hard drives ago. Of the printed copies of Allez (vol. 1-4) there are undoubtedly few of them left in existence (I think Phil is the only one with a complete set) so I took the time to scan them all recently and post them up for download. Enjoy.

Trivia Question: What is the significance of the website name "King-Dino". I'll buy a beer for the first one to get the correct answer.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Video Review - The Wildest Dream

The Wildest Dream *

Did Mallory summit Everest first in 1924? That’s the question that this film asks after American alpinist maestro Conrad Anker became rather disturbingly obsessed after finding George Mallory’s frozen corpse in 1999. The answer to the question remains the same as it has always been, no one fucking knows. And I’m of the opinion that, who fucking cares? Ed Viesturs always had the most poignant comment on the issue of Mallory summiting, which was something like, “So what? That’s like swimming to the middle of the ocean.” Adventure is a round-trip. Being the first to do something and then dying in the middle of it, well, it negates whatever accomplishment you thought you’d made. Accolades from accomplishment are the rights of those that exit them on the living side. Dying on the way to or from something means only one thing…you died trying.

Anyways, Conrad, who is beyond dull as a camera presence, attempts the mountain with Leo Houlding, who is far less dull and garners far less camera time. What this movie needed was a whole lot less Conrad Anker and way more Leo Houlding, preferably slot-eyed and speaking his mind freely about the experience of mountain climbing and film making after exhaling a big fat bowl. That alone would’ve made the movie that much less of a bore, which unfortunately, I found it to be. In short, they wore some vintage rags for all of about 2 pitches, freed the 2nd step (in ultra-modern equipment), claimed it was totally feasible for Mallory to have freed it (although from the looks of it, incredibly unlikely), summited, and went down.

This movie reminded me of a notable slide-show event at one of the OR shows several years ago (well, I think it was at OR). Some old alpine guy (Greg Child or Jeff Lowe maybe?) gave some epic slide show with tons of big-mountain pics and the audience fell the fuck asleep while whoever it was yammered on like a robot (“Ummm, this photo is the col on Lhotse, there was a big avalanche here…”). This show was followed by a young Leo Houlding, who had a grand total of something like three slides and kept the audience riveted and in side-splitting laughter for the entire time he had the stage.

So, The Wildest Dream is not the most exciting or inspiring climbing flick I’ve ever seen. Sections of photography were kind of nice, but not even close to the standards of the IMAX Everest flick, and like a said, a little more Leo would’ve gone a long way.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sunday Bouldering

Crawled out of my hole and headed up to hills Sunday evening to meet up with some friends. First off was a quick session at The Brickyard. Picked up a bunch of cigarette butts and fingertape (dickheads). Met up with my friend Kelsey who quickly hiked Yeti and then moved over to work on Smooth Criminal. I had to leave so I don't know if she sent, but I managed a couple decent photos of her on the initial moves, which was the only part giving her trouble. It's hard to take a bad picture of Smooth Criminal, such a great line on a great piece of stone.

Next, I headed over to The Lizard's Mouth to check out what local strongmen Andy Patterson and Bernd Zeugswetter were up to. When I got there they were up to some shenanigans on the Lord of The Flies boulder, proving that with a little imagination there's always adventure left to be had, even at places like The Mouth. They found an improbable looking nice new line to the left of Lord of the Flies. Both sent it, not sure of a name or a rating, but it's very nice looking, finishing up LOTF at the jug.



Saturday, February 5, 2011

Video Review - 180 Degrees South

180 Degrees South

In a nutshell: Narcissistic trust-funder with connections at Patagonia (the business, certainly not the place) wants to make a movie about himself modeled after a long ago trip that a couple of as-yet-to-be multi-millionaires took in a Dodge van in 1968 to climb a mountain and surf (reference: Mountain of Storms). Dude hitches a ride on an expensive boat because it’s far more glamorous than a shitty Dodge van, surfs a little, finds a chick to bone, strokes his beard and waxes rhapsodic. When he finally gets to the mountain he is told in not so many words that he knows fuck-all about mountain climbing, fails in what can only be described as ridiculous fashion and goes home. Beautiful cinematography is interspersed with interviews of bitter, incredibly wealthy old men whose primary interest in life now seems to be telling other people how to live theirs.

**I've had shitloads of people ask me about the Jeff Johnson in this movie. I don't know him. I'm sure he's a nice guy with good intentions, but the Jeff Johnson I know is a better mountaineer, better sailor, better surfer and I'm sure spends far less time looking at himself in the mirror than the Jeff Johnson in this movie.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


note: original date of this rant was 8.27.10

“People suck, and that’s my contention.

I can prove it with scratch paper and a pencil.”

~ Bill Hicks

I went up to The Brickyard today for the first time in a long while. I don’t climb much anymore and while there was a time when I was at The Yard sometimes 4 days a week, I’ll bet I've been there less than 10 times in the last 5 years. And I got angry.

I hate to pull the “old guy” routine, but in the mid to late 90s, when I was up there all the time, there was no trash. Because I took it out. And if there was any trash that showed up, it would only be there long enough for me to see it. And I’d pick it up and take it out with me.


It seems that no one else gives a shit anymore, because the place is littered with trash. Let’s go on a tour of the boulders I visited today.

Starting at The Ant Boulder, I found a piece of 1 inch webbing slung around a limb of the downclimb tree. The downclimb tree that a 5 year old could go up and down endlessly. The downclimb tree that I and others have safely descended countless times. To the dumbass that put this here: If you can’t make it down this tree to get off the boulder, just how in the FUCK did you get to the summit? And what the fuck were you doing with a 6 foot piece of webbing at a bouldering area anyway? Ok, I’ll try to understand: You took a bunch of 9 year old Girl Scouts climbing, somehow one of them got to the top of The Ant Boulder and was afraid to get down that nasty old tree. And you got into your trad kit and the light went off, “Tree anchor! It’ll be just like Yosemite!! Whee!!” Take your schwag home with you, asshole.

At the base of the downclimb tree was a pair of socks and a couple cigarette butts. SOCKS. I can picture it now: After sending his latest Ant Boulder Project and anxiously awaiting when he can get online to add the tick to 8a.doosh, dude takes a huge bong hit and with smoke billowing out of his lungs, “Fuck, that was killer!”, puts his shoes on sans socks and stumbles out of the Yard.

Wrapping around The Ant Boulder I came across a bag of dogshit sitting there. That’s right, someone was kind enough to pick up their dog’s excrement, but fucking stupid enough to leave the bag sitting on the ground. So let’s see, you think you did your duty by picking it up and bagging it? What fucking good is a BAG of dogshit on the trail??? I have a dog, two in fact. I was lucky enough that Ratso was one of the more human dogs one would ever meet and he never liked anyone watching when he was dumping, so he’d always go off into the bushes where he couldn’t be seen. Almost never saw him crap, it was terrific. Of course these days, Ratso’s pushing 16 years and he pretty much takes a dump wherever he happens to be at the time, which is usually in the living room. Luckily, converted garages with concrete floors make that not such a big deal. My puppy Nanook, however, doesn’t have quite the smarts that Ratso did and has no problem at all pushing out a heater in front of Jehovah and everyone else. In fact he did it today, right on the trail into The Yard. And you know what I did? I took a fucking stick and flicked each steaming log 20 feet into the thick bushes and chaparral where no man will set foot until this place burns to the ground [again]. No bag necessary to forget, you fucking idiot.

Carrying on past the Yeti Boulder, I came across what……another bag of dogshit sitting next to a tree. I’m shaking my head. This can’t be happening. No one is this fucking lame. But yes. People are this fucking lame. Picked up a couple more cigarette butts.

And then I hit the Soot Patrol Cave, which has always been a popular hangout spot because of the mass of shade it provides. Fingertape. Cigarette butts. A ripped out tag from a Boreal pair of shoes (size 9).

And back at The Dancing Outlaw auditorium. More cigarette butts. More fingertape.

It’s fucking depressing and nothing will ever make me understand it. And it’s one thing for the shitheads who unthinkingly leave their garbage, but it’s yet another thing for the people who go there and ignore that there’s garbage surrounding them. This attitude that sees it yet says, “It’s not mine. I’m not picking it up.” Fuck that attitude, and FUCK YOU if that’s your attitude.

My request to people out there is: CARE

It's not just about The Brickyard. It's about everywhere.

I know that only about 5 people look at this little site that I update about 3 times a year, but if people tell people who tell people who tell people, then just maybe 1 person out of a group of six will watch their buddy throw a cigarette butt on the ground next time and say, "Unless you want a Marlboro catheter bitch, pick that motherfucker up and put it in your pocket."

And to everyone who's trash I picked up today, SUCK A DICK, FUCKTARDS.

If you want your trash back (webbing, socks, ciggy butts, fingertape or dogshit - I've got plenty) get in contact with me here. I'd love to chat with you fucking idiots.