Friday, December 20, 2013

Rock Cricket Economics: The Dirt Bag Path to Wealth and Glory

Ever since moving out into the big bad world when I was nineteen, I have always found ways to survive on what little I had. Whether it be working 70 hour weeks and stealing sandwiches from my employer, or eating moldy bread and scrounging change off the sidewalk for cans of beans, I’ve always made my momma proud by not dying in the gutter… though I’ve come close to that too. The only thing I have never managed to do with a penny, other then eat it out of desperation, is save it.

Now I’m a bit older, and a bit wiser… well, no definitely not wiser, but I have more responsibilities. Such as paying bills and making sure I have enough for beer money when all is said and done. So I got to thinking about where all the money I’ve made has gone since I got my first job at 12 years old. Because, I sure as shit don’t have anything to show for it.

Instead of dwelling on the past though, I decided to move ahead and create a system for myself. A fail-safe way to save money. Sure enough, it turned out to be just about as fucked as anything else I’d ever done. As I expected though, it worked….

Here’s the idea:

First, deal only in cash. The commie teachers at the bank are out to get you, so don’t let them put their grubby little hands on your hard-earned bread. Second, it’s all about the Washingtons. Think back over your life time and ask yourself, “have I really ever bought anything useful with a one dollar bill?” I mean what are you going to buy with that thing in reality? A cup of coffee? A candy bar? Maybe a Brazzers trial membership?

Well I cut all that shit out and instead started chucking all the ones I accumulate throughout the day in a jar when I get home. Hell, I even throw a fiver in there when I’m feeling lucky. Now this may not seem very lucrative, but be patient grasshopper. Soon enough you can be raking in 25-50 bucks a week! You’ve got to be hard on yourself though. Under no circumstances do you touch your singles stash. They are now a sacred currency meant only for the finer things in life…such as climbing gear, Busch 30 racks and road trips.

I had been following this new regimen for about 4 months before moving to Norfolk with Ryan and had never really thought of telling anyone about it. Until one day Ryan walked into my room and saw hundreds of one dollar bills falling out of my dresser drawer. About 350 to be precise. Ryan was taken a back understandably, and I was startled because I hadn’t realized how wealthy I had become.

After explaining my well thought out and precise economic plan for my future, Ryan began to realize how genius it was. We then began to forge our new path towards wealth and glory, cashing in every coldie can and piece of street change we could find on the way.

Be very careful with this knowledge though. It can quickly turn to obsession, huge piles of cash, constant single counting, and high tensions and mistrust between roommates. If you don’t think this system is for you and you hate one-dollar bills, please shoot us an email and we will give you an address where you can send all your unwanted money. We’ll find it a good home.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Tree Hating, Saw Wielding, Blood-Thirsty Monsters

It was sick – perfect rock, gently overhanging, just enough holds.  Only one problem.  Beneath the boulder grew a shrub, an obstacle that would skewer anyone who fell off the crux.  We’ve seen plenty of these plants before, they are everywhere.  The line spoke to us.  Weighing our options we came to the conclusion that perfect climbs are far rarer than these trees.  We cut it down.

A sudden wind picked up – dangling beech leaves rustled in the breeze, a raven croaked, someone honked their horn down on Route 7.

“Is someone burning sage?” We asked each other.

Out of a fissure scampered a bearded man with feathers tied in his hair, donning garb made of plain brown linen (or maybe potato sacks).  He was a self-proclaimed mystic, self-proclaimed keeper of the forest, and could apparently commune with our local flora.

He declared:

"That was not just any shrub!  That was a mountain laurel!  My friend!  A precious being!  Sacred! Once I finish this chai I’m going into town, finding some WiFi, and slandering you on the internet!  Oh, and death threats!  You should die for this.  You are monsters."

He took a hit off his rollie and skipped down the mountain angrily.

Astonished at what just happened, but not distracted from the task at hand, we cleaned up the rock and got to climbing.  It was a classic, a great addition to the region.  Something that maybe hundreds of people will get enjoyment and a sense of accomplishment from, let alone a chance to be outside in nature.  Happy with the day, we descended into town.  Later that night I discovered the Rock Cricket website was flooded with comments:

“How could you cut down that laurel?!  You’re a bunch of fucks!” –Native0584
“That’s the state flower of Connecticut!  You’re going to pay!”  -ENVIROCONCIOUS
“I hope you fall and die!” –PEACE_love_ROCKS

We shrugged it off and drank some beer.

A note from the author:
This piece was inspired by the recent uproar related to Joe Kinder cutting down a California juniper in the Tahoe region.  Although I do not condone Joe’s actions, I also will not demonize him.  It’s an ethical issue, and as always, everyone has their own opinions on the matter.  The California juniper (Juniperus californica) is not a listed species, however, this doesn’t excuse cutting down one.  These trees can live for an impressive amount of time and are an important part of their natural communities.  I will not profess to be very knowledgeable about this particular species as I live and work (in the conservation field) in the northeastern United States.  I feel it is important to think about the fact that trees are cut down for a number of reasons related to the outdoor experience.  How do you think trails come to be?  Let alone how many trees are wiped out for infrastructure, residences, shopping malls, etc?  There are far greater issues to quibble over than one climber cutting down a tree.  I also find it very interesting how those “speaking for the trees” and mentioning John Muir are also posting death threats.  We live in a funny and frightening time.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

No Turning Back - My Life Without Reverse

I never had much luck with cars.  My unwillingness to spend more than a thousand dollars for a vehicle might have something to do with it.  Or perhaps because I tend to hastily seize automotive opportunities, usually out of desperation.

My most memorable vehicular experience involved a red 1996 Toyota pickup truck.  I was living in Burlington, Vermont at the time, and had been bumming friends’ cars for far too long.  When an old Tacoma popped up on Craigslist in a nearby town I couldn’t pass it up.  I met the seller that day with seven-hundred dollars in my pocket – he was asking $850.  After a quick inspection and test drive (trying my best not to disclose how little I knew about cars) I made my offer – which was accepted – and I drove back to town, proud and mobilized.

RIP "Kentucky Jed"
Upon arriving home I gave my new ride a more thorough inspection.  The situation seemed a bit less-than-ideal – though I was still certain I received a bargain.  The truck came equipped with bald (but studded) snow tires – it was late April and I figured I could squeeze some more life out of them, hell, maybe another winter.  Two broken door handles, malfunctional locks, and a duct taped plexi-glass rear cab window revealed a bit of the vehicle’s mysterious past.  This combination of defects allowed for an easy way to get into the cab when locked out – something that had clearly come up before (as the shards of safety glass under the seat could attest).  The last noteworthy imperfection was the absence of a tailgate, which was not a big deal as long as I clipped, strapped, or otherwise secured any and all belongings.  As a backup there was a “redneck net” loosely attached in the tailgate’s stead.  Solid enough I suppose.

The truck was not without perks, however.  Included in the deal was a Jeff Gordon keychain and about three bucks worth of change strewn throughout the cab.  A worthy tradeoff for the vehicle’s drawbacks.

After resolving some initial mechanical difficulties everything seemed to be in good working order.  I finished off my time in the Green Mountain State and headed back to Connecticut for a seasonal job at a land trust.  When I arrived home, drinking beer with old friends took precedence over unpacking, so I left my truck and took off for destinations now forgotten.  The next morning, after unloading, I turned the key, popped her into reverse, and started to roll forward down a hill.  Understandably I was alarmed.  Instead of having a friend with his 4x4 tow me out, my father insisted that his old two-wheel-drive work van should be up for the task and proceeded to drag the Tacoma down the road with a manky metal cable tenuously hooked to some hole in his bumper. In the process his own brakes went and he resorted to jamming his transmission into park to slow down – but that’s another story.

Thus was my truck liberated.  Now what?  I still had a vehicle that for some reason didn’t want to back up.  A sensible individual might have concluded that not having reverse would be a debilitating condition for a car and a serious impairment to transportation.  I on the other hand saw it as an exercise in ingenuity.  I quickly learned that getting places was not an issue; the hard part was parking.  Through trial and error I came to the conclusion that, lacking reverse, one has three viable options:
  1.    Pull into a spot in which you are able to pull out of.
  2.   Park on an incline so you can roll backwards in neutral to a position where you can then go forwards.
  3.    Make sure to be in a level enough area that you can push yourself to freedom.

With this quiver of parking techniques I was not once left stranded.  However plenty of unforeseen predicaments did arise.  One memorable instance involved a dirt road, a bridge closure, and me pushing my truck backwards, uphill, in the middle of the night.  Another time I had to ask a girl to give me a hand pushing out of a parking space while on a date – I suspect that was the reason we didn’t go out again.  Finally, after nearly killing my friend’s blind and diabetic Chihuahua-Pug via accidental insulin overdose, I had to conduct a three (or five) point turn sans reverse in the vet’s parking lot.  These were all inconvenient and possibly embarrassing, but relatively manageable.

The lesson to be gleaned from all this is that a car without reverse is more functional than one may originally presume.  You can get around pretty damn well without the luxury of going backwards, but there are some things you cannot forego…

I was driving home after climbing on an ordinary fall evening.  The roads around here are not exactly what you’d call pristine, and sizeable bumps are commonplace.  But when sparks began flying off to my left and a loud scraping sound erupted from below me, I was able to deduce that something was awry.  On the side of the road now, my tire twisted into the wheel well and utterly useless, I learned the obvious – having the full number of functional tires is something you cannot do without.  Luckily for me the officer on duty didn’t notice the baldness of the rubber or the gnarled and out of season metal studs.

Needless to say the truck is now lying somewhere in a heap of other unlucky vehicles.  I have since then owned and scrapped a Volvo, purchased off of some greasy pizza bastard - a car that routinely turned off on me while driving, and whose hood twice flew up into my windshield. 

I now drive a ’97 Jetta named Cherise.  Five-hundred bucks.


Monday, November 25, 2013

An Update

So, its been a geologic age since we’ve ranted about our sick sends brah doings. The summer and early fall was hot, humid, buggy, beer-filled, and generally not conducive to sending. Nonetheless, braving new mutant strains of black flies which were still biting in mid September, we steadfast rock cricketers began grunting to the top of various pebbles.

Dan on Babies With Rabies V10
In The Corridor Andy established several amazing problems, including Golden Fleece V6, Porcupine Squeeze V5, and managed a very impressive, very drunk, FA of Bota Box, hard V5. In between finger injuries, he also slipped in a quick send of The Danimal Start, aka Survivors Will Be Shot Again V8 at the Estey Boulder. That night he managed to destroy his finger cutting steak with a dull knife.

I began my season by putting up Yewlogy V7 at The Corridor. Yewlogy has a very committing last move over a very poor landing, and I was very happy to finally get it done. I then spent four days falling off the same move on Outer Cockpit V9, up at East Rock. On day five, the first below 60 degrees, it finally went. After that success came a bit easier. During a great day with Dan at Farley, I managed to send Babies With Rabies V10 fourth go and Pterorrdactyl Stand V8. Dan – who recently sent Pterrordactyl SDS V10/11, Pins And Needles V9, and some V11 in southern Connecticut – is very close on Babies and will send any day now.

More recently I sent Dedicated To Aggravation V9/10 up at East Rock, In Plain Sight V8 at The Res, and managed to FA Spitting Pneumonia V7 and The Lottery In Babylon V8, both up at The Barracks. The left start to The Lottery In Babylon (Babylon Revisited, still a project) adds five sick moves into the stand and is amazing. We got footage and hopefully we’ll get it posted soon.

In other news, this happened:


Monday, October 28, 2013

Welcome to the Dojo

This is a short exercise that Steve Potter wrote for a writer's group recently.  Note: Steve has never been to "The El Dojo", the local climbing co-op.  It just happened that "The Dojo" was the perfect name for his fictional climbing gym.  Enjoy.

"Welcome to the Dojo"
by Steve Potter

Welcome to the Dojo. The first thing you should know is that climbing is safer than it looks. There is a system. Once you know the system, you can trust the system. Until you know it, you may horrified. Mistakes may or may not result in someone hitting the ground. If you see someone hit the ground, find Amanda.

This is your harness. There are many harnesses like it but this one is yours. Be sure to put your harness on correctly. Left leg through left loop. Right leg through right loop. Make sure the belay loop is not twisted. Synch waist tight. If you don’t synch tight you may or may not hit the ground. Don’t synch so tight that you’re pouring out over it. That is too tight. No, we don’t have larger sizes.

This is the teaching wall. These are top ropes. Before you climb ensure that your rope is not too worn. What do I mean? I mean you should not be able to see through the sheathing. If you can see the core – this white stuff here – the rope is core shot. Core shot ropes get caught in sharp things and cut. When ropes cut people may or may not hit the ground. If you see a core shot, find Amanda.

This metal device is called a gri-gri. If you climb with a gri-gri on your harness you will look like a noob. A cardinal rule of The Dojo is don’t look like a noob. In a master’s hands a gri-gri will keep the climber off the ground. It is a friction locking system. You feed the rope through – like so – with the end that goes towards the climber – this end – slotted where the little climber is carved on the inside – here. Gri-gri’s are single directional, meaning that they will not compress the rope if the rope is running out in a certain direction. This allows you to bring in slack.  It also means that if you feed the gri-gri backwards your climber will hit the ground.

Belaying is very serious, but not so serious that you shouldn’t try to look casual about it. If you look too serious you look like a noob. If you don’t look serious enough you look like a dick. Try not to look like a dick, but avoid at all costs looking like a noob.

You have undoubtedly noticed certain aesthetic features to the Dojo. Most of these features are people. This is a haven for fitness, and fitness is a thing of beauty. If you look in that mirror there you may or may not see where you’ve gone wrong. That is why we keep a mirror here. It keeps us honest.

But remember, you can always reform your wardrobe. Athletic shorts? A noob heresy – you yourself are proof of how heinous they look under a harness. Next time try jeans – they do everyone a favor and show that you aren’t trying too hard. Women: try yoga pants. If you’ve got it to flaunt, flaunt it here. Who knows, you might win a serious climber out of the deal. Look at Vince there – there. Oh yes, his back is very strong. That’s why he’s not wearing a shirt, he’s afraid he’d rip it.

Vince is a very serious climber. Vince thinks he should be a pro climber but he doesn’t have the full package. The secret is in the fingers, not the back. Vince does not appreciate this. Vince also does not appreciate having to pay to climb. He believes he graces us with his presence. Graces aside, Vince does have to pay. If you see him slink passed the front desk early in the month, find Amanda.

And there she is. There – Amanda is that ravishing creature over there. Wave to her. Note the curvature of the hips. Oh, buck up girl, there’s always hope. When Amanda came to us for the first time two years ago, she looked much like you actually. No, really, its true. We tacked the pictures on the wall of the staff room, just to remind her.  

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Rejuvenation of Sorts

So it's been another month or so between posts - no surprise there.  Rest assured more coldies have gone down than projects, but not all is stagnant in the realm of the Rock Cricket.  Much is in the works actually - lots of activity in "The Corridor".  The total is up to something like 45 established problems/variations and 15 projects on the rock we've seen, some dozen boulders not even touched, and certainly much more to be found.  The grade range is currently V0-V8 with a good blend of everything, all styles - heights, quality..definitely a gem for those in the locale.

Lots to be done heading towards the fall - projects in the works:

  1. Climbing "Festival"/Comp./Party
  2. Full length climbing film
  3. Stewardship Projects
  4. Topos
  5. And obviously more bantering/ranting/pontificating
I just wanted to write something so it didn't seem so damn blank up here.  Stuff is happening it's just hard to put the fingers to the keys so to speak.  Also..

Please don't leave beer cans and various climbing paraphanelia at the crag, let alone at one where there have been access issues (I won't name the area, but it's in Litchfield County and right off a road - vague I know).  The beer cans alone could be thought of anyone's trash, a careful observer might realize the brush meant climbers were the culprits.

It was an interesting day when I found these - while hiking around I came accross relics from two eras:

  1. A piece of sun-worn webbing with two seized up locking biners atop a large slab
  2. The above pictured trash
One is acceptable, though dated and unsafe // one is just plain littering - both were picked up.
Don't get me wrong, I like throwing some back during a good bouldering session, but let's try to be stewards of the land and keep our privileges intact.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Slackin' Big Time Buddy

We've been slackin' to say the least.  No posts in three months is pretty lame so we're gonna pick things back up. Not much to say really..we've been climbing some, scouring some, finding stuff, etc.  Here's a recap of a few of our adventures/finds/forays:

The Corridor - Development has recently continued at my new favorite area.  There is a good concentration of amazing gneiss with plenty of problems to be put up and projects to get worked up about.  I'd say that there is easily 100 potential lines on the rock we have found so far.  What's more daunting is that there could be a few times more yet to be discovered.  Most recently Andy and I put up some lines on a couple of untouched boulders - a total of 6 easy problems and 2 projects..all in about two hours.  From that alone you can tell that 1.) the boulders need little cleaning 2.) there are plenty of features 3.) this place is awesome.  A little while back there was a bunch of action as well: Steve Potter snagged the second ascent of Andy's classic Shangri La V8..he flashed it, crazy bastard.  Steve went on a rampage finding/cleaning/sending the Midden Arete V8, nabbing the FA of the powerful Lost Horizon V8 to the left of Shangri La, and the FA of Cibola V7 - another sweet problem in that sector.

Ramp City - Another location we were previously checking out.  Lots of developed routes..well lots of anchors anyway.  Some of them look unprotectable.  The boulders remain untapped.  Nothing much has gone on except a little cleaning here and there.  Some amazing hard problems  are there for the plucking, but I still think roping up is where you'll find the most bang for your buck.  Andy and I went on a thorough exploration of the top of the mountain and it's pretty rad up there..even some more short cliffs when you think the ledges end, as well as some boulders.

Rattlesnake Gap - We headed over our eastern border in search of some schist..well we found it. There's a whole realm of steep slopes to be combed over.  We spent our time on one mountain in particular, and definitely didn't see near all of it.  Originally the plan was to find a promising cliff band, but due to mountain laurel jungles we only managed to stumble upon a shitload of sweet boulders that lie beneath the ledges.  Can't wait to get back up in that area when it's not 90 degrees and I can see my feet while bushwhacking.

Bear Mt. - The tallest peak in CT has a 200+ foot slab on its shoulder.  There's a few easier trad lines that run up the main slab but I found two sport routes lurking in the dark gully on the cliff's southern side.  Andy and I hiked out with intentions of scouting/climbing the big routes but ended up getting on the better of the two shorter lines.  Andy onsighted it, probably somewhere around 5.10+.  There's 3 bolts to the anchors (w/sketchy sharp coldshuts, I clipped some ovals up there to rap off instead).  It was a pretty good slightly overhanging face climb.  The other route is a chossy looking dihedral to a slab..4 or 5 bolts, and one is missing a hanger.  The anchors also have the same shitty rings on it.  There might be some potential new routing on both the main face and gully wall..but it's a bit of a trip to get out there.

Gemstones - I came across a lead for some boulders near where I work.  Andy and I decided to go and see if there was anything out there.  Turns out there was a ton of rock, but we only found a handful of boulders worth going back for - two of which are amazing.  The cream of the crop was a dumptruck sized boulder with a variety of features and very clean.  There's still a lot to explore out there with promise for more worthy stones.

Tyler's Woods - An old friend was back in town and I spent a weekend of schwilling hard cider (way too sweet, but sweet enough ( it was free) not to stop).  During a morning of recuperation I recalled some rocks in the forest behind his house.  While on a hazy stumble into the woods I came across a few cool looking chunks of rock. Surely there's a little bit more out there, and it's definitely worth going back for what was found.  I'll be back..I left my water bottle.

Well that's it.  Gettin' tired.  The best summary I could do.  Fuck.  We'll just keep on top of our shit.  Yeah right.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Weekly Choss III

3: 3/18-3/24

Well, heres to the end of another week here in choss town. Currently Ryan and I reside in the Cricket Manor watching the Eiger Sanction and shwilling some cheap beverages. If you don't know the Eiger Sanction is a film featuring Clint Eastwood climbing, killing, and sweet talking "ethnics". Basically, it doesn't get much better. 

With the weather lately there wasn't a whole lot of sending going on, but there were a few prime problems that went down. 

Steve had a great week putting away Pressure Drop V10, the sloper test piece Twisted Stihl V7, and a incredible overlooked problem on one of the most climbed on boulders at the Res. Just to right of Spack Attack, this nameless gem is unlikely looking and easy to miss....until it has chalk on it. It revolves around hard moves on very bad slopers, but the movement is great. Steve dispatched it quickly saying it felt somewhere around a V9. I can attest, Scott and i both flailed on it with no luck. 

Ryan and I didn't get a whole lot of climbing in this week, but I did send the Shangri La project. This block is one of the most aesthetic climbs around, on some of the best rock around. After three hefty sessions it feels like one of the hardest problems i've done. Steep, crimpy, slopey and tensiony. No idea about a grade for it, there will be a consensus once it see's more sends.

Ryan was on his usual rampage of scouring, and cleaning this week. His finger is finally starting to feel better also, which is good news for the hidden gems of our new homestead. Its shaping up to be a great spring.

Clint is now on his third women, climbing towers in the desert, and a creep with a dog named "faggot" is trying to kill him. Its begging for my attention. 

I'll leave you with a nice video of the Shangri La project going down. Mostly just me flexing with my shirt off. 

Until next week! send hard! Drink beers! hope for good weather!


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Weekly Choss II

2: 3/11 - 3/17

I'm pretty tired so this one's going to be short.  In last week's choss I forgot to mention that my friend Steve from up at UVM has recently moved down to Ashley Falls, MA.  Lately he's been crushing The Res.  Last week alone he flashed Trainspotting V6 and sent Dog Brains SDS V8, The Echo V9, and Fotowa SDS V11 along with a bunch of other stuff.

Alex has been out at Joshua Tree for a while now.  He might still be there.  Dawson and Kyle just got back from Rocktown and I don't know what happened.  Probably some fucked up shit.

Andy and I have been settling in (covering our place with beer cans and peanut shells) while working on developing a "new" area in the Litchfield Hills.  When I say new I don't mean to imply that climbers haven't been here.  They definitely have, as the short cliff band nearby has been climbed.  Though, the boulders seemed to be overlooked.  Until now.

About 15 problems/variations/projects have been cleaned and/or sent this week.  All in all I speculate there being anywhere from 50-100 problems once the bones are picked.  Pretty good for the solid access, short hike, and close proximity to home.  Highlights for this week were Andy's The Iron Sheik V5 on the Roadside Boulder and Ryan's Shady Grove V3 and Drainpipe SDS V3.  Lund is also close to sending the Shangri La Project.  Looks like we'll be pretty busy with this area and another one close by.  As development continues I'll be creating a primitive topo that might become available later on.

In this week's photo section the first two are from the area mentioned above.  Photos 3-5 are from The Res (Steve didn't send Filter, but he's real close).  Enjoy.


Shangri La

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Weekly Choss I

1: Before - Now (3/10/13)

After wrestling the computer with a buzz on for what has seemed to be hours I finally figured out how to set up a gallery of images as thumbnails so that you, the viewer, may click at your fancy and have them magically enlarge, scroll, etc.

Anyway..this is the first installment of a new department we're calling "Weekly Choss", kinda keeping up with the choss theme (Notes From The Choss Pile).  Except here, instead of spewing about various subjects, we'll just let you know what's happening in our neck of the woods.  Along the lines of our previous "Weekly Sends" piece, we'll talk about noteworthy sends, FA's, scours, discoveries and the like.  As this is the first one, we'll reflect back to a little more than a week..two weeks.

Shangri La

We've been busy.  Well Andy and I anyway.  Alex, Dawson, and Kyle are only on climbing trips (J-Tree, Bishop, Rocktown..who needs 'em).  Back home us injured bums have been "scouring the hills", not expecting to find anything new though, cause it's all been found.

In the last two weeks the two of us combined have been to a dozen areas within northwestern Connecticut and the southern Berkshires.  All of which have seen some level of development but are still producing new lines, some areas with more potential than others.  The above images are a sample of only two locations.  Both of which have been pretty thoroughly combed over as far as "roped climbing" goes (though I could see a line or two more).  The boulders however are virtually far as we can tell.  Psyche is high.  Expect to see numerous updates about the status of work being put in at these spots.

As for the other areas, some of the visits were merely just hikes to reacquaint ourselves with the rock.  Some were first time encounters.  About half a dozen or so of these areas have been somewhat lost to obscurity despite their quality.  They need a good cleaning since they have hardly been touched in six or seven years.  Good thing we're motivated.

1. Get beer.
2. Get brushes.
3. Get to work.

The snow has been brutal on our scour missions.  Post holing up to your nipples is not the funnest thing in the world.  Especially when your leg is plunging into holes formed by mounded boulders, a little dicey to say the least. We're still waiting to wake up a bear with all the poking around we've been doing in caves.  The snow is good for one thing though - wiping your ass in times of drastic measures caused by some shrimp tacos the night before. It's warming up though - the peregrines know what time of year it is, we've already seen a pair at one crag.  Melt.

In other news Andy and I have moved into an apartment in Norfolk, CT - Rock Cricket Manor.  Lets see if we can squeeze out some more rock in the area.  I'm feeling good about it.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Notes From The Choss Pile

Ethics: Keep the Chipsters In Brooklyn

One of my goals recently has been to keep Rock Cricket current.  And what's more current than a bunch of people sitting on computers bashing some asshole who got caught chipping holds in the Gunks?  NOTHING!

The Shawangunk Mountains - a place of natural beauty, miles of quartzite conglomerate cliffline and boulderfields, a bastion for traditional climbing ethics and history..oh, and really close to New York City and those gremlins in Jersey.  I digress..

It has been brought to the attention of the climbing community via an article and video posted on DPM earlier yesterday that someone has been chipping holds in the region.  Through various bits of evidence..
  1. Video footage of the individual's face
  2. Photos of the individual wearing the same clothing
  3. Previous suspicions/confirmations that said individual chips holds
..presented in forums on DeadPoint, Mountain Project, and SuperTopo, it has been determined (in my opinion, without a doubt), that this individual is none other than Ivan Greene - professional climber, musician, and guidebook author.  This whole scenario is fucked, all around.

Let's start with the difference between "cleaning" and "chipping" - CLEANING is something that every climber does to an extent.  This task can range from taking a wire brush to a lichenous new problem, to scrubbing off excess chalk on a starting hold.  Basically, you are removing some kind of grime from the rock that may inhibit you from climbing a certain line.  CHIPPING is when you deliberately bang away at the rock to form a hold that you will be able to use (whether it be crimp or jug).  Now the TRICKY GREY AREA is classifying the removal of loose holds.  I believe that if you are removing a lose flake that may pop off in your face or your belayer/partners, you are cleaning.  That is, if you are doing so with the sole intention of making the climb safe, and not hoping there's some magic crux-unlocking edge under that crusty old chunk of stone.  Some folks over on the message boards want to give old Ivan the benefit of the doubt, saying that he may have just been removing loose flakes under the the video, you decide.  (I have, he's manufacturing holds so he can send his proj.)

Next lets talk about other forms of defacing rock that may be deemed "just as bad"..HAMMER-PLACED AID GEAR - back in the day folks used to gain ground by pounding various metal devices into cracks, thus deforming the rock. Defacing nature?  Yes.  As bad as chipping?  Probably not.  It is unfortunate that by hammering up routes has permanently changed the climbs, but now we have free climbs like Serenity Crack - I know, hypocritical (maybe Ivan's new route is super classic..).  But wait, hear me out.  In the case of nailing up a route, they were doing so to pull on their gear (or as protection).  Not to deliberately alter holds so that they may be free climbed, these were the days of aid climbing boys, just make it to the top!  Also, "dirty" aid climbing was the well accepted practice of the time.  Chipping holds on a boulder so you can send, by todays standards, is light years away from being in the same league of public opinion.  Still, a very debatable subject for sure.

What about DRILLING HOLES FOR BOLTS?  Defacing nature?  Yes.  As bad as chipping? Definitely not.  Bolts are generally placed on climbs to safely (most of the time) protect a leader from injury. This certain type of climbing aid (in a free climb) is not meant to grab onto so as to advance up the rock, but to make sure you don't die.  Now is it worth digging holes in the rock and then pounding a metal scrap into said hole just so you can lead a climb? Debatable.  After all you could just toprope the route or sack up and solo it.  BUT, the free climbing challenge is still there, the rock holds are left as nature designed them. Not pocked by the marks of some hack with a chisel. To equate someone who bolts climbs, or even just clips draws is on par with a hold chipper, is ludicrous.

Now how does this whole chipping nonsense really effect us?  It looks bad for one.  It robs future climbers of potential natural lines  Most noteworthy, in my opinion, is the effect it can have on access.  This particular event was taking place on public land, but has probably taken place on Mohonk Preserve (private) land as well.  Neither is acceptable.  Land managers and climbers tend to not have the best of relationships in some areas (this is improving thanks to organizations like the Access Fund).  To add this kind of shenanigans into the mix could really screw things up.  One person's desire to climb a line should in no way be placed over the rights of other climbers to use an area.

Now what can be done?  Some of the tough guys on various forums kept proclaiming that the filmers should have confronted him during the act.  I would have liked for that to happen as well, but I don't blame them for not wanting to risk a physical altercation with a RedBull fueled midget with a hammer. Supposedly, said individuals have previously talked with Ivan about the subject.  He has apparently not changed his ways.  However, I think it was a good thing putting the video on the web.  The rabble got out their torches and pitchforks and went to town - very entertaining to say the least.  After the pages started adding up Rock & Ice even picked up the story.  Some productive posters even got together and emailed Edelrid (a sponsor of Ivan's), asking that they drop him.  THEY DID!  And with haste.  They claimed he had not been on the team for about a year as it were but took down his bio and photos all the same, as well as issued a statement.  The angry townspeople did some good! They were foaming at the mouth while doing so, but some good was done.  Let's see if any of this makes him change his ways.  Or at least keep others from following suit.

One last thing..

After reading a post about someone wondering if the guidebook (I always thought it was a pretty shoddy one) he coauthored had any section on ethics, I decided to check it out (since I had the book in the same room).  Here's what Ivan and Marc Russo have to say concerning "Ethics and Understandings" in their book Bouldering in the Shawangunks (2nd edition):

"Keep it simple.  Leave the rocks the way they are.  No chipping, filling, sculpting, etc. of anything on the boulders.."

Practice what you preach.
He's not the first to chip holds.  But he's for sure an asshole.




Climbing Narc picked up the story now too.  Damn.  Another comments section is certainly blowing up as I type this hahahaha.

Climberism mentioned it as well in their "Here and There" post.

Outside Magazine has lead their coverage about the subject with a link to our post!  Super psyched that such a prestigious outfit took our write up into account.  I'm glad to see the support rallied upon the topic of altering rock.  It seems that the community as a whole has taken a stance on the subject.

Jamie Emerson's B3 Bouldering blog has a nice little writeup on the chipping news.  I like how he asks more questions than states facts or opinions - probably the way to take the subject from here.  Rather than fuel the fire (which our post may have), try to start a conversation about ethics in a rational manner.  Props to Jamie for this.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Photopost: Return to Rocktown

Rocktown, GARocktown, GARocktown, GARocktown, GARocktown, GARocktown, GA
Rocktown, GARocktown, GARocktown, GARocktown, GARocktown, GARocktown, GA
Rocktown, GARocktown, GARocktown, GA

At the end of last month Alex, Cal and I headed down south for a weeklong trip to Rocktown, GA.  I'll just say that during this adventure I was a lot less drunk, a lot less warm, and a lot less dry than the last time I was climbing in the southeast.  Despite all that, it was a great trip.

We arrived on Friday, a wash out.  There was a strange noise that seemed to be coming from a little past our site.  Picking up various implements of destruction we trudged off towards the strange moaning.  It was unsettling that the noise was in the direction of an area on the mountain called the "Rape Gap", not making that up, there are signs.  We concluded that the noise was coming from cows down in the valley (not a bear, or cries for help that our imaginations lead us to believe).  After the trip Alex did a little Google Earth re-con and confirmed the fact that there were indeed some bovine herds bellow the ridge.

The next few days were full of climbing, campfires, and eating excessive amounts of saltines (three failed attempts at the challenge over the duration of the trip - Cal, that bastard, told us it was SEVEN crackers).  On Monday night we drove down the mountain into LaFayette to sample one of their fine eateries..Los Gurrero's.  Super cheap, huge servings, some kind of velveeta cheese that scared Cal, awesome menu illustrations, FREE tortilla chips with homemade salsa, etc. etc.  BUT if you were planning on schwilling margs (which we were), it's a no go - no booze.  Other than that, two thumbs up if you're cheap and hungry.

Tuesday brought a mist that shrouded Pigeon Mountain in an eerie fog, as well as soaking the boulders.  To pass the time we sat around the fire trying to create things out of wood and flame.  Cal made a club. Alex was making some sort of device.  I got pissed off and probably started eating saltines.  Alex took off that night and the wind snapped one of my tent poles in half.  UP SIDE!  I came upon the important realization that I can fit my Organic Big Pad in my tent.  Just so you ladies out there know, I now have a luxury suite.

Cal and I headed to Chattanooga, TN on Wednesday to wait out the rain.  The next two days were prime.  We befriended a couple of guys during the week - Ben from Florida and Jeremy from Ohio. We knew it was time to wake up and climb when we heard Ben fire up his car - a gutted Honda Civic that he sleeps in that we dubbed the "Green Machine".  They were both crushers and all around nice dudes.  It happened that they even knew my good friend Eleanor from climbing at The Red.  I hope to one day run into "Psychadelic Ben" and "Captain Trips" again (they are unaware of these nicknames and I hope they do not take offense if they ever read this, we really liked them, I just can't help myself with creating stupid names for people/things).

Saturday looked like another rainy one so Cal and I packed up our things and headed north.  One last stop at Huddle House and we were out of Georgia.  The southeast has really captivated me in the last couple of months and I am seriously considering moving down to Chattanooga.  Who can hook me up with a job in the environmental sector?  Till next time.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Brief Hiatus

It's been a while - holidays, work, life's distractions, and of course climbing, have gotten in the way of keeping this thing somewhat current.  Not too much has been happening in our little bubble - perhaps another reason for the lack of posts.  This jump back into the swing of things may just be a mechanism to satiate my compulsive tendencies - so bear with me..

Upon returning from our foray down South, Lund and I headed out to a ridgeline tucked away in the Northwest Hills of Connecticut.  Climbable rock was sparse but we did manage to uncover some hidden gems that may hold a choice line or two..

A week or so after this we headed out again to an area just north of the aforementioned spot.  In a sizeable jumble of blocks we located a beautiful overhanging arete.  Alas, someone beat us to the punch.  We found a built landing and scrubbed/chalked holds..

Our search wasn't in vain - next to the arete was a large, gently overhanging wall with the possibility for some quality lines.  We shall see..

Back at the Bouldering Barn there has been a revival of route setting and climbing since the snow has moved in.  In an effort to pump heat upstairs on a particularly chilly night, the diesel furnace started puffing out clouds of noxious black smoke.  We quickly relocated to the bar rather than chance death by carbon monoxide.  We're working on fixing the kinks in that system..

More noteworthy was a Rhode Island day trip to visit Shane and sample the granite of Lincoln Woods.  The speedometer on my car shit the bed 20 minutes in.  Being that the odometer is dependent on this device, and that my fuel gauge is also shot, I had no reliable way to know how much gas I had other than taking notes on where I drove - a not so welcome task.

We made it there no worse for the wear, spent the night, and headed to Lincoln in the morning.  The climbing there isn't my favorite (eliminates, graffiti, trash, etc.), but for an urban bouldering area it's pretty impressive as far as the amount of problems go.  Not to mention the weather was perfect - 50 degrees, sunny, light the middle of January.

Andy on Straight Razor V6

The only send worth mentioning was Andy's go on Straight Razor V6.  Also, haunting us the entire day was the stench of Garlic Man - a mythical creature that emerges when an excessive amount of garlic stench hybridizes with a substantial chug-a-lug of cheap beer.  Watch out.  A good visit overall.

I am currently writing this from the Stone Cup Cafe in Chattanooga, TN.  Cal and I are down here on a trip to Rocktown - details to follow.

Also, I'm entertaining the idea of adopting a crag cat - anyone have leads on a stray that may be proficient in guarding food at camp, providing a solid spot, and will work for sardine scraps?