That time we went to Moab on a Monday.

From my leather journal. (With new thoughts sprinkled in while I transcribe.) 

3/20

Note: Please excuse any bumps and inky bruises on this page; I’m driving. Well, Brody is driving. We just turned off the highway at Crescent Junction, on our way to Moab for the week. I don’t think either of us really know why we’re in my car heading south right now, but I’d like to think that part of it is just the magic. Like the purple and the orange glow of the sunset streaming through the haze of this passing dust storm.

View of Castleton Tower in Moab, UT.

3/21

Good morning, Moab.

Right now, I’m sitting on a rock somewhere up Long’s Canyon off Potash Road. My face and ears are covered in tiny little flies. It’s early, and I’m not in a rush. Brody made french toast with berries and maple syrup for Dakota and I when we woke up. My piece is kind of burnt, but I don’t like sweet breakfast anyways so it’s okay. I hardly slept last night. My sleeping pad deflated. I can’t wait to climb.

Brody makes french toast on the first morning of our trip to Moab.

Later.

I didn’t believe we were actually going to Moab until I pulled up to Brody’s downtown apartment with my rig full of gear. A never-gonna-happen whim had turned into an oh-I-should-pack overnight, so we left Salt Lake City on a Monday afternoon and pointed south to the desert–my happiest of places.

We met up with our soon-to-be new friend Dakota (Jones, you might know him if you’re a runner–he’s real fast and a rad human being), at a dimly-lit park just after sundown. On the first and second nights, we slept down Long’s Canyon. We started the trip climbing classics at Wallstreet on Potash Road, then returned to our camp spot for a lazy lunch. Once my belly was full of veggies and tortilla and weird beet dressing, we sailed the Pilot up a bumpy dirt road to Maverick’s Buttress. I had never climbed there before, but I think I’d certainly like to go back.

Climbing at Wallstreet on Potash Road outside of Moab, UT.Gear, everywhere. Okay, Brody pretty much always makes the food. I just eat it.Climbing at Maverick Buttress down Long's Canyon in Moab, UT.

On the last full day, we climbed the classic Kor-Ingall’s route up Castleton Tower. I stood on top of the proper summit first, and took my moment of solitude to soak in the overwhelming feeling of smallness. I’ve never felt so tiny. Unsurprisingly, I cried a little bit at the top before the boys scrambled up. It was one of those moments that just remind you how audacious it is to be alive on this earth.

What a gift that I get to exist on this planet and do things like climb up a sandstone tower on a Wednesday afternoon.

Brody and I somewhere on pitch three of the Kor-Ingalls route up Castleton Tower. Enjoying a peaceful moment at the top of Castleton Tower in Moab, UT.On the summit of Castleton Tower with Dakota Jones and Brody Leven.

[Insert things about love and stealing kisses between pitches and two sleeping bags in the rain. I can’t share every detail from my journal, you know.]

Thursday morning, I awoke during twilight to the sound of rain pattering on the roof of my rig. We slept with the hatch open to catch the breeze, and I jolted up sure that our feet would be soaked from the storm. I patted our sleeping bags, and while a little wet, it wasn’t enough to wake up and shut the door.

Later, I woke back up to sunrise pouring over the La Sals with mist rolling over the mountains and drips of sunshine filling the space between the peaks and my sleepy bones.

(The last three photos, from Castleton Tower, were all taken by Brody. Thanks Brody. I left my phone and camera behind for the climb, and I’m so glad I did.)

Q&A with So iLL founder Daniel Chancellor: Redefining the look of climbing

I’ve been geeking out over So iLL since I started climbing back in 2009. Back in those days, the love affair centered around their killer holds. The first route I ever put up that I was actually proud of was a V4 set with So iLL’s Appendage holds on the lead wall at Tally Rock Gym. Since then, they’ve impressed me with their bold colors, clean aesthetic, commitment to their brand’s style + community–and of course, these kickass leggings.

A few weeks ago, they once again caught my attention by launching a crowdfunding campaign to support a new journey: retro-inspired climbing shoes. Say whaaaaaaat? The goal was to offer the climbing community a shoe that combines functionality with a focus on fashion. The urban outdoorist and the rise of outdoor millennial consumers is a hot topic at my day-job running social for OIA, so I instantly knew it was going to be a success–and it was. So iLL reached 100% funding in only 5 hours.

This weekend I sat down with founder Daniel Chancellor to chat about this ambitious project, his vision for the climbing community, and what So iLL is going to dream up next:

So iLL climbing shoes (photo: So iLL)

*All photos in this post courtesy of So iLL

It’s hard to put a finger on So iLL. You’ve got climbing holds (some of my favorites from my route-setting days), crash pads, bold leggings, chalk, training tools, and now, shoes. What inspired the dream to add climbing footwear to the diverse line-up?

Climbing footwear, along with our clothing, is a direction we have been working on for years.  We aren’t trying to create the next lightest carabiner technical piece of gear.  Instead, we delivery highly designed clothing, footwear and training products.  Things that our crew can use, wear, and be proud of.

Our goal to create products that help our climbing community succeed.  Keeping climbers fashionable, and encouraging them on their journey through media, and well designed products, will be our focus as we look towards the future.

Climbing with So iLL and their new line of retro inspired performance climbing shoes. (Photo: So iLL)

Within the first 10 seconds of your promo video, we hear this: “there needs to be a fashionable alternative for the climbing community.” In the outdoor industry, there’s a growing trend of urban climbers getting outdoors for the first time, but there is also a large pre-existing climber group who simply never had fashion-forward options before–who are you making this shoe for? 

The success of this campaign has put a lot of attention toward the brand. This is great for the project, but this entire creation is not for us.  We created these products for others.  The success is motivating and reinforces us that we made quality decisions during the journey, but in the end, these shoes are for you!

We opened our first flagship retail location and climbing gym in Saint Louis, MO a few years ago.  At Climb So iLL , we are deeply connected with our community there.  We have been able to learn the needs of urban rock climbers, and deliver them both an experience, and products, that make sense.  These climbers eventually move outside (like we did), and the product was designed to transition with them.

Our lifestyle products can be used by all outdoor enthusiasts, but it stars within our niche. Our hearts are with the urban climbers around the country, and the communities in which they exist.  The sport is growing exponentially, but the fire seems to start here.   

So iLL's line of climbing shoes is the first to dye high performance rubber this way. (Photo: So iLL)

Aside from their stellar looks, what makes these shoes a unique addition to an already booming climbing shoe market?

The rubber on our climbing shoes has a special story.  It was developed for the U.S military.  The Navy Seals needed an outsole rubber that was both sticky, and would retain color.  They were building an approach shoe, and were in need of this technology.  When we heard about this new “Dark Matter” rubber, we immediately were drawn towards it’s properties.  Putting color on the outsole of a climbing shoe (with real sticky rubber) has not been done before.  There is a first time for everything, and this is what we are most proud of.

So iLL’s Kickstarter campaign has been a phenomenal success–the original goal was $10k, but you’re currently sitting at well over $100,000 in pledges. What drove the decision to use crowdfunding for this project?

We wanted to accomplish two things with the Kickstarter Platform.  1) We really do believe in these shoes, and wanted to give climbers the opportunity to try them at a discount as early supports.  2) The kickstarter has helped us with production minimums.  Being such a small company, it has been difficult to build 6 models, in so many sizes, with so much inventory to start.  We needed help, and our community delivered.

So iLL founder Daniel Chancellor and his new line of climbing shoes. (Photo: So iLL)

While So iLL has a big digital presence and strong community, it’s still a fairly small operation. How big is the team, and how do you manage to build so much hype and energy while still remaining true to your grassroots values? 

Great question.  I know that we appear massive online!  People think that the company is huge, but we are TINY in the outdoor space.  We have 5 employees in the office, and interns, that’s it.  There is a blog on our site that talks about us just now moving out of my basement (a few months ago).  We finally rented a loft apartment.

We do all of our own sales, we do all of our own marketing, and we do all of our own branding.  Our entire team pulled together on this one and made it happen.  Evan packs boxes in our warehouse and also does all of our product photography.  Ryan answers the phone and does service, but shoots all of our lifestyle photography.  Paul works in house as our marketing guy.  Lisa answers all of our kickstarter questions online and has been working behind the scenes.  It’s really been a team effort.  My friends Daniel Wilson and Tennyson Tanner both helped us with the videos.  They are both local guys.

The team is small, but we are all very proud of what we are doing.  We really actually do the work of 10-15 people, and I”m very proud of what we have accomplished as such a small operation.

The shoes aren’t even in full production yet, and they’re already a success. What’s next on the horizon for So iLL? 

We are going to continue designing and producing high quality, innovative and fashionable products for rock climbers.  We are going to continue encouraging others to stay positive and to take hold.

Big thank you to So iLL founder Daniel Chancellor for taking the time to sit down with me and do this interview in between a hectic travel schedule, snapchatting the brand’s adventures (follow ’em: soillinc), and trying to change the industry with climbing shoes that look just as great as they perform. You’ve got until Tuesday evening to support the Kickstarter and get your hands on a pair of these shoes at the insane backer rate before the price goes up when they hit the broader market this summer!

Stay tuned for a full review of the shoes when I get my pair of So iLL beauties
and put them to the test in California this summer. 

Climbing in Boulder Canyon with Women’s Wilderness

I’ll be straight up: I don’t typically label myself as a feminist. I sometimes cringe at the words “women’s empowerment” when overused. So when I say that photographing and tagging along on a Women’s Wilderness climbing course was one of the best experiences I’ve had as a woman, it’s a pretty big deal in my book.

I volunteered for Women’s Wilderness a year ago as they were going through a pretty radical revolution at the organization. I helped them liquidate their enormous gear collection and close up their office as they shut down for a few months to reevaluate what the future of Women’s Wilderness would look like. Honestly, I thought it was the end for this organization–which was a shame. Founded in 1998, Women’s Wilderness is all about offering an “unforgettable experience that will increase your wilderness skills, refresh your spirit, and bring you the joy of a wilderness adventure in the company of women.

Women's Wilderness climbing course in Boulder Canyon.

When the next executive director, Emily Isaacs, was announced earlier this year, I squealed with excitement. She’s a real firecracker, unwavering in her dedication to the cause, and I knew that Women’s Wilderness was about to see a rebirth. So I quickly raised my hand and volunteered to join a group of ladies on a climbing course in Boulder Canyon to see if it would live up to my expectations.

Spoiler alert: It did.

I drove out to Boulder Canyon on an unexpectedly blustery morning, totally underdressed but totally stoked. Our group met in a gravel parking lot, exchanging introductions and sorting through gear before hiking across a creek and up into the crag. Our ragtag collection of women was small, with two instructors, three climbers, and myself–and we quickly became friends and made connections through our shared climbing histories.

Women's Wilderness climbing course in Boulder Canyon.

Our instructors, Tess and Becca, were phenomenal. They kept things casual, made the group feel comfortable, and were proficient in their work to educate us about the gear and techniques we were to spend the day practicing. Although I was strictly on photographer duty, the energy in the air was infectious and got me so stoked for the women who were roping up. To watch the ladies pull on the routes, charge through sections they weren’t sure about, fight through tricky moves, and lowering down after moments of victory was, well, empowering. We shared the highs and lows that day, cheering each other on and comforting one another when things got tough.

Women's Wilderness climbing course in Boulder Canyon.Women's Wilderness climbing course in Boulder Canyon.

I was so impressed by the experience, and can’t sing the praises of the Women’s Wilderness programming enough. If you’re in Colorado, I encourage you to check out their course offering, and sign up for a class or community event. Emily has already brought about so much positive direction to the organization since coming on as executive director, and I know her head is teeming with plans and ideas for the future.

I’ll be running an Instagram takeover on my account today to share some of my favorite photos from the day–so be sure to follow my feed and check out the Women’s Wilderness Instagram too. 

Crag Dog Adventures in Utah

Here’s the problem with human companions: They come with too many variables. Ask someone, “Want to go out on an adventure?” and your response will inevitably be a “Yes, but _____.” There’s always something – yes but I have to work, or get my oil changed, or hang out with my boyfriend.

And here’s the thing about dogs: There are no buts. The answer is always “YES!” All it takes is one sniff of your backcountry gear piled by the doorway and they’re ready to hit the road ­– no matter what the adventure is.

Amble spent the first few months of her life traveling in a big yellow van, so she’s been groomed for a life of adventure since she was a pup. Nothing thrills her more than getting her paws dirty and sprinting like a torpedo through the outdoors. And you know, she might just love Utah wilderness as much as I do.IMG_8815IMG_8842

We sought out to hop around eastern Utah for a weekend with lady-friend Alex, with Joe’s Valley and Moab as our two destinations. I packed my climbing gear, Amble brought her freeze dried raw Merrick pet munchies, and we drove off into the mountains.

After a night spent folded like origami sleeping in my hatchback, the first stop of our mini-roadtrip was Joe’s Valley – one of my favorite places on earth. After exploring a few of my favorite boulders, the heat became unbearable, so we decided to drive back down country roads to a cluster of boulders we had noticed off a dirt road.IMG_8825IMG_8827

It look less than 30 seconds of peeking around the newfound boulder field to realize that we had just happened upon a sandstone goldmine. Rocks towering 30+ feet in to the air greeted us as we bumped down a very dusty forest road. I wanted to get closer to the field, so I coaxed my little hatchback further and further down the increasingly muddy road ­– and then it happened.

My tires started spinning, mud started flying, and my forward motion quickly ceased.

We were stuck.

Frankly, I was torn between pride and concern. I’ve always loved my little Scion for breaking the mold of adventure vehicles. It’s a city slicker, but my hatchback has traveled across the country a dozen times, navigates dirt roads like a champ, and always keeps me safe. The fact that it even took me to a place where I could get it stuck was a proud moment. And then I realized that didn’t exactly change the fact that I was stuck.

Alex and I quickly gathered as many big, flat stones as we could and wedged them under my tires. She pushed, I gave ‘er gas, and after a few attempts we freed ourselves from the mud. Defeated, we parked at a primitive campsite and walked the rest of the road to the boulders. Amble much preferred the walking over the driving.IMG_8819

I won’t say exactly where we were, because I’m selfish and want to go back there to scrub those dirty boulders until they resemble the beautiful lines they deserve to be. But the point is: these boulders are the real deal. While Amble investigated every inch of dry, cracked mud with her heeler nose, Alex and I set to work inspecting the rock faces and dreaming up boulder problems.DSC_0341 DSC_0326

Drained from the sun and stoked on our discovery, we retreated to the valley for another night crammed in my hatchback as rain pounded the desert outside. Left with soaked boulders, we ditched Joe’s Valley a few hours before sunrise and took off towards Moab.

Big Bend Boulders is one of the most convenient bouldering spots out west, if you ask me. It’s not the biggest, or the boldest – but it’s easy, sunny, and a great place to spend an afternoon. I showed Alex a few of my favorite lines, and we took turns flailing on projects and tossing sticks for Amble to chase.IMG_8861 DSC_0416DSC_0378DSC_0454

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Go from #CouchtoCrush to Save The South!

It’s the second day of spring, and I am feelin’ fresh. Yesterday involved a little core training and a trail running session with Heather from A Colorado Gal, and today I’ve already gotten in some climbing and foam rolling. I’ve been extra motivated in my Couch-to-Crush training lately – and for good reason.

Tally Rock Gym’s 5th annual
Save The South Bouldering Comp is on the 28th!Tallahassee Rock Gym Save The South

I had originally planned on finally competing (always the organizer, never the climber), but since I’m emceeing again, I’ve decided to just climb for fun – but the event has still been a great source of inspiration.

Whether you’re training for Save The South, or just want to finally send a project at your local crag, pick a goal to look forward to. It’ll help keep you motivated, and give you a reason to get up and get movin’ on those mornings when your bed feels particularly cozy.

In honor of my favorite climbing event of all-time, I’ve put together a Save The South training workout. The climbs at Tally Rock Gym really engage your upper body and core, so this circuit focuses on arms and abs. Start your session with 20 minutes of cardio (or 30 minutes of bouldering), then launch into the workout below. Top your day off with some foam rolling and 15 minutes with your rice bucket – and bam, you’re one step closer to crushing.

The Save The South #CouchtoCrush Climbing Training Workout

If you want to kick things up a notch: do crunchy frogs instead of knee-ups, and grab a weighted ball to bounce during each Russian twist rep.

To celebrate the training season, the first #CouchtoCrush giveaway is dedicated to everyone gearing up for Save The South. I’ll be bringing a few prize packages down to the event, including this one:

#CouchtoCrush Giveaway

Wanna get your hands on a gorgeous handmade Kendal Jackson chalkbag, Nature Valley’s new Nut Crisp bars, ClimbOn salve and tape (you know, for all the outdoors crushing you’re about to do)? Share your training + climbing journey with the #CouchtoCrush hashtag! And, for the rest of the training series, anyone who tags #SaveTheSouth in their photos gets an extra entry to the giveaways. I’ll announce the winner of this package at the comp!

I’m so excited about Save The South next weekend. It’s an incredible fundraiser for the Southeastern Climbers Coalition, and the road trip down to Florida is going to be the perfect way to welcome spring. Big love to all the sponsors who are supporting Save The South – y’all rock:

Moja Gear, So iLL, The Crash PadKendal Jackson Bags,
Dirtbag ClimbersRock Candy HoldsMad Rock ClimbingGrassLands Brewing Company,
Teknik Handholds IncEvolvAlternative Baking Company, Momo’s PizzaSurepaw Dog Gear, and more!

PS: If you’re a southeastern climber, or just looking for an excuse to visit the greatest rock gym ever built, register for Save The South ASAP! You can stop by TRG in person, or pre-register on the phone, or sign up the morning of the event. I can’t wait to see everyone there for a weekend of Tallahassee Rock Gym southern lovin’. Pass me the corn nuggets!

Ricebuckets + Foamrolling

Part of training is falling in love with the way you feel when your body is active. You should also really enjoy the activities you engage it during your workouts (and recovery). We all play favorites, and for me, the best part of my daily routine is spending some quality time with my rice bucket and foam roller. Bonus points if you add accu-pressure rings to your daily routine too!

The #CouchtoCrush climbing training guide to foamrolling and rice bucket workouts.

RICEBUCKETS

It’s admittedly a bit messy, but I’ll swear by it. Foam rolling helps you strengthen all those extensor muscles in your forearms, and creates balance in your body strength. Arms and hands are pretty damn important to climbers, you know. DeadPoint Magazine offers great descriptions of all the ricebucket movements and outline of a great workout to accompany this classic video by Steve Edwards:

I find that rice bucket sessions can be incredibly relaxing and almost meditative. I’ll just dig my hands into the rice whenever I’m sitting around binging on Netflix, chatting wtih my housemates, or watching climbing videos. I start going through the motions, direct my gaze elsewhere, and bam! before I know it 20 minutes have passed and I’m pleasantly pumped. My favorite moves include:

  • The Swirl: Submerge your fists deep in the bucket, and roll your wrists while churning the rice and engaging your shoulders.
  • Side-to-Sides: Again with fists buried in the rice, move your wrists from left to right for one minute, then forward and backwards for one minute.
  • Make A Fist: Grab a big fistful of rice, and squeeze it as hard as you can.
  • Fists-Up Dig: With your fists facing palms-up, dig deep into the edge of the bucket closest to you, and really engage your arms/biceps as you pull upwards towards the opposite side of the bucket before digging back in again.

For additional viewing, check out this rice bucket forearm workout video (specifically for baseball players, but still good). If you really want to get weird, there’s a video called “Dirty Rice” for power lifters.

Fair warning: If you have a dog, your dog might end up eating a lot of rice when you aren’t looking – which means pooping a lot of rice. Or, if you have mice living in your house, they’ll totally poop in your rice bucket. I may or may not know all of this from unpleasant personal experience. Consider keeping a lid over your bucket when not in use.

FOAM ROLLING

Just ask Vikki from The RV Project, who will readily profess her undying love for foam rollers; this seemingly weird tool works wonders for your body. The first time you foam roll while sore, you might actually shed a few tears – and then you’ll wake up the next day feeling brand new. Foam rolling invigorates blood flow and helps your body bring nutrients to your muscles.

For a basic guide to the various areas you can target using a roam roller, this post from The Clymb is a great place to start. You can obviously work your back, but the foam roller is also a great tool for your hamstrings, lats, quadriceps, and more. Climb On Sister offers a more in-depth look at foam rolling, which is accompanied by this excellent video:

Before you go out and buy a foam roller, learn about the different options you have and what you should look for. This informative post by Sarah Groman that delves into considerations like areas of the body to target, intensity, and product quality. Her preference is the Thera-Roll, which features ridges for “deeper tissue pressure.” Personally, I’m a fan of smooth foam rollers for every day use, but I haven’t spent enough time testing my options. Check to see if your local rock gym has foam rollers for use, and test theirs out before purchasing your own.

Incorporating rice buckets and foam rolling into your Couch-to-Crush training plan is a great way to provide your body with a stimulating way to recover and refresh yourself. Once you get started with training and figure out a good daily groove for yourself, it gets easier and easier to keep up with fitness elements like these in your routine. Get after it!

Don’t forget to share your training + climbing photos on Instagram + Twitter with the #couchtocrush hashtag – you could win gear like ClimbOn! skin salve, handcrafted Kendal Jackson Bags chalkbags, and more!

Love Joe’s Valley? Speak up about it!

It’s no secret that Joe’s Valley is one of my favorite places on the planet. I could fill a book professing my love for the desert valleys, sharp sandstone boulders, cozy campsites, lazy river, and even the deer that love to jump out in front of cars at dusk. This spot is one of the greatest things to ever happen to bouldering – and now Joe’s Valley needs our help.

The Access Fund and SLCA are working with the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service to address some of the impending big issues with the area (hello, poop in the river washes). There’s a lot of work to be done, but the first thing you can do to get involved is to write a letter to the BLM making your voice heard about the issues. Access Fund has a super simple letter writing tool to help you, but comments are due by March 1st!

Show your support for Joe’s Valley bouldering here.

Photo: Andy Wickstrom

Photo: Andy Wickstrom

I wrote a letter, which you can read below. It isn’t perfect, and it only took me about five minutes to write – but every voice matters here. It would break my heart to see Joe’s Valley turn into an overdeveloped, over-regulated area where I have to pay $20 to pitch my tent, and the only way to prevent that is to get involved.

First, thank you for taking the time to take the climbing community’s comment into consideration while assessing the land use at Joe’s Valley. I first visited the area during a yearlong climbing trip – and out of the many places I visited from coast to coast, Joe’s Valley remained my favorite. It is one of the most incredible places on the planet, and deserves to be treated as such.

While you are assessing the area, there are a few key issues that need to be addressed to ensure the valley’s longevity as a recreational hub:

The trails, camping areas, etc. need proper establishment/maintenance to reduce erosion and overuse of the surrounding areas (clear trails = less brush crushing!). However, while I fully support proper trail establishment and infrastructure improvements, I believe it is absolutely vital to the spirit of Joe’s to prevent overdevelopment. Human waste is a major issue in the valley, and proper waste facilities are crucial – but turning camping areas into expensive sites with running water and paved driveways would be a travesty to the wild attitude of this destination.

In the event that fees are collected for camping areas (which I believe is unnecessary pending the commitment of the climbing community to take full responsibility for the area and work to keep it sustainable), I believe that all fees collected should directly support the resources for which they are collected.

I have spent a lot of time in Orangeville and the surrounding towns, and truly believe that the climbing community drawn to Joe’s Valley makes positive economic contributions to the county. During a city clean-up day I volunteered at a few years ago, I was able to really connect with some of the locals and was moved by their great perspective on the climbers who frequent their small slice of Utah. Climbers have an indescribable connection to Joe’s Valley, the sandstone boulders, the dry landscape, the freshly baked donuts in town, and every moment spent out in the wilderness.

While I realize my comments may not directly lead to any actions, I want to express my interest in continuing to be a part of the conversation about Joe’s Valley. There is much work to be done to protect the future of this climbing area, but there is a strong force of climbers willing to stand behind Joe’s and make an impact.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Katie Boué

Being a climber is about more than just clawing your way up rocks – living this lifestyle also comes with a responsibility to the places where you play. As climbing gets bigger and bigger, it’s on our community to make sure we’re doing things right.

Getting older, getting weak, getting strong again – My Birthday Challenge Recap

Sometimes, the passage of time is a good thing – you become wiser, you get your shi*t together, and you figure yourself out. Sometimes, it’s not such a great thing – like when six months fly by and you can barely still call yourself a climber.

After falling out of love with climbing at the end of my yearlong road trip, I shifted my priorities around for a few months. Climbing took a backseat to other life “things” like moving to Colorado, freelancing, and hiking.

Before I knew it, my 26th birthday was approaching. I had been slowly dabbling back in my love affair with climbing, but with less than two weeks before my birthday, I decided to attempt whipping myself into shape for a proper birthday challenge with the lovely duo from The RV Project – who are going to turn this challenge in a kick-ass video for their birthday challenge series with EpicTV.

Making my return to Joe's Valley!

The challenge was to climb 26 v-points in each of the main areas at Joe’s Valley (78 v-points total) within 26 hours. After picking up two new pairs of Five Ten shoes at the Food Ranch, I started the challenge at 5:45 PM on Wednesday, October 15th.

After warming up at the Mine Cart area, I started getting into my challenge at the Riverside Boulders in the Left Fork. Confession: I had never climbed one of the most iconic lines at Joe’s Valley – The Angler (V2). It’s a little tall, and I always wussed out last year when I spent the season there. Oops.

I somehow managed to send The Angler first go, and immediately felt confident about my challenge. Maybe all that trad Jason Gebauer has been making me climb helped my mental game for bouldering!

Photo: The RV Project

Photo: The RV Project

The next morning, we got off to a fairly slow start (which will later come back to haunt me). I started the day on The Small Boulder, which was a goldmine of short, easy problems. After warming up and ticking off a large portion of my Right Fork points, we hiked over to a funky V5 called Blue Eyed. [Read more…]

#CouchToCrush: My 26th Birthday Climbing Challenge

My alarm was set for 6:00 AM, but by 5:43 I knew there was no point in trying to sleep any longer. I got dressed in the dark, caught a glimpse of my unwelcomed mouse roommate scurrying under my door, made a thermos of tea, and tossed my climbing gear into my hatchback before driving out to Denver Bouldering Club for a morning solo session.

You see, I’m in training mode. Big time.My new home sweet home, the Denver Bouldering Club.

Last year while I was living on the road, my dear friends Vikki and Spenser teamed up with EpicTV to start a climbing birthday challenge video project. So far, they’ve featured Alex Johnson and Carlo Traversi, with birthday videos from Alex Honnold, Steve Edwards, and Spenser’s own 30-day birthday challenge in the pipeline too.

So much in my life has changed since the day they sealed the deal and returned to our dirtbag camp declaring “We’re going to do your birthday challenge next October!” – but the promise of a radical week reuniting in Joe’s Valley to film me making a fool of myself on some boulders has brought it all full circle. I may not have my van anymore, but dammit, I’ll always have Joe’s!

So, what’s my birthday challenge?My 26th Birthday Challenge in Joe's Valley with The RV Project.

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8 Reasons You Need to Watch Reel Rock 9’s Valley Uprising

While doing the rounds at Outdoor Retailer last week, I bumped into one of my favorite people on the planet, Billy Brown, who just so happened to have an extra pass to the Reel Rock film tour‘s advance screening of the new Valley Uprising documentary. The upcoming film release hadn’t even crossed my mind, so I was stoked to get to catch a sneak peek at it. I was expecting to just get a brief taste of the documentary, but we ended up being treated to the full (though not fully edited yet) film.

(Oh and I met Hans Florine – my opening line to him was “I can totally hold your cheese if you want!” Yeah. He didn’t let me hold it.)

Photo by: Katrin Bell (check out her blog and Facebook page too!)

The short story is: I left with sweaty palms, a full heart, and the immediate need to buy another van and go shred my hands on granite in Yosemite National Park. It was phenomenal. The long story is these eight reasons why you should absolutely attend a screening (or host your own):

1. Lynn Hill kicking ass.

I honestly don’t feel much of a need to elaborate on this one. If you’re a climber, you know who Lynn Hill is – and if you don’t you need to go hang your head in shame for a very, very long time. This documentary takes a look back at her roots, her historic accomplishments, and her crusade as the most influential woman in climbing.

The official Valley Uprising Poster from Reel Rock Film Tour.2. Remember that time a plane full of weed from South America crashed in the Yosemite backcountry and climber’s salvaged all the reefer wreckage? Yeah. There’s that.

3. Get a little history lesson.

The number one problem with the new generation of climbers is that we don’t know enough about where “our people” came from. When you start climbing in a gym, you miss out on the tall tales and historical legends you hear out at the crag – and kids these days need a good dose of the past to fully be able to respect the future of climbing.

4. Learn some respect for your elders.

We had a purpose: only through climbing can you find yourself
– and bullshit like that.

Playing off the history lesson, Valley Uprising will make you realize how lame you really are compared to the real dirtbags who pioneered Yosemite. These folks were real bandits, evading the law and surviving off sustenance that would make your canned beans and rice look like classy cuisine.

5. Dean Potter saying things like “Climbing will always be an outlaw pursuit.

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