Wednesday, December 30, 2009


After many years of work, it all clicked!

Video coming soon!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. While I was in Yosemite working on Mescalito with Tommy, all of our updates went to the Black Diamond website. You can check out all the dispatches we sent in here:

After climbing super technical, dead vertical granite for two months, I'm working on getting my steep bouldering power back. After Christmas, I'm going to take at trip out to Bishop to hopefully climb Spectre, a problem I have been trying for YEARS, but haven't finished up. To me, it's a dream line: house sized boulder, the only way up, obvious jug start, interesting and difficult moves on perfect rock, a variety of cruxes and styles, and a tall but not hard finish. I can't wait!

Andy Mann Photo:

Monday, October 5, 2009

Packing for Yosemite.....

Leaving Wednesday. Can't wait to get on the wall. A menacing elbow tendonitis injury seemed to resurface, so I'm hoping that it won't hold me back too much. Talk about bad timing! Let the adventure begin!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Goodbye Colorado, Hello Yosemite

Well, I'm back from 3 weeks spent in Colorado and getting ready to embark on the biggest project of my life: teaming up with Tommy Caldwell on his project of freeing the old aid line, Mescalito, on El Capitan. I've been training as hard as I can for the past two months, trying to prepare for what I can only imagine is some of the most sustained and technically difficult climbing found anywhere. I will be making updates from the wall throughout October and November. Stay tuned for where to find those.

Here's a pic of a climb Carlo and I did a joint (first ?) ascent of up at Lincoln Lake in Mount Evans. It's a fantastic jug haul to a technical finish over a bad, but not too bad, landing. Never did name the rig, but it's super fun. I know that people have been climbing up at this area for a while, so I wouldn't be surprised if this has been done before, despite it's initial dirty condition. No matter what, this line smacks you in the face and says "CLIMB ME" when you are at this area. Good times.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Progression Sneak Peak!

Cooper at Big UP Productions was kind enough to lend me a sneak peek of their upcoming release, Progression, and let me just say, WOW. I got to see a section of Tommy working on Mescalito as well as my section featuring Ambrosia. I took a few screen shots (with Big UP's permission) to show everyone, so check it out....

The mighty El Cap. Mescalito roughly follows the shadow for the first half of the wall before continuing straight up when the shadow cuts right. Can you say, BLANK?

The still undone dyno....

Sick dihedral climbing!

Just a little 5.13 slab....

Tommy and I will be teaming up on Mescalito this fall, so training is in full swing right now. Long days with routes, bouldering, cardio and cross-training leave me wrecked when it's all said and done. My mantra through it all though is, "It's easier than El Cap! Come on!"
It's a bit intimidating thinking about trying to keep up with Tommy on a big wall. No doubt about it. I'm looking forward to getting in the best shape of my life and then spending three months learning from the most experienced big wall free climber around. Psyched!

In November of last year, Matt Segal, Alex Honnold and I all went to England to try our hand on the Grit. Cooper and Bret came out to meet up with us for a week and see what the hype was all about. In this short period of time, they got footage of Alex soloing Gaia and Meshuga, Matt hanging tough through THREE ground falls to finish off Kaluza Klein, and me climbing The Groove.
Matt sticking the last move crux of Kaluza Klein

Me placing the only gear between you and ground for the crux of The Groove

Sticking the one handed slap

Alex doing his thing on Gaia

Alex on Meshuga

There were many funny moments on the Grit that Big UP was there for. I won't give anything more away, but it should be both comedic and scary at the same time.

I was especially happy with how the Bishop section turned out. We spent a week shooting and climbing here in January and all the hard work and great days climbing show in the quality of the footage.

2nd ascent of Luminance, v11

A first ascent of mine from 2007, Flight of the Bumblebee, v9

I was very stoked when Josh took me up on the offer to come out and shoot in Bishop around the time that I thought Ambrosia would go down. For two years I had been dreaming about this line, working up to it both physically and mentally. I knew it would be a step in a new direction for myself and highball bouldering. Seeing that the film was going to be called Progression, it seemed like a good fit. Turns out he thought so too. I grew up watching Josh's films, and one thing I admire in a good film maker, is their ability to do climbs JUSTICE. It's easy to shoot crappy footage of an amazing climb, but it's hard work to shoot AMAZING footage of even and amazing line. With a project that I had spent so much time preparing for, that I knew I would only put myself out there on once, I really wanted to work with someone who could capture that experience. The guys at Big UP did a great job.

The reflection of Ambrosia, the morning of the send

Entering the "No Fall Zone"

Fully committed.

Yikes! I did that?

The last few, thin, terrifying moves

If you haven't checked out yet, be sure to go visit now. Voting on the Film Competition is going on until August 31st and the trailers will be up very soon. You can also find a list of events, so find the one nearest you and mark your calendars! I'll be hosting one here in Santa Rosa, CA on September 23rd, so if you're in the area, come check it out!


PS. What's it feel like to do this?

Like this...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Put Some Bachar Into It

This 30' arete towers over the Roadside Area in Rocklands. It struck me as beautiful from the moment I arrived at Roadside. I ran to check it out before even climbing many of the classic boulder problems the area has to offer. What revealed itself was highly technical arete climbing, some blind hand moves, a 20' valley of trees to land in, and a last move, barndoor crux. Sweet! It had my full attention.

In the thick of it, squeezing between a small crimp sidepull and the arete.

This is the last move. My right foot is on the worst foothold on the climb, a bad smear. To make the foothold work, you really have to keep your heel low, despite your desire to stand up tall to reach the next hold. The solution was a semi-dynamic throw to an accuracy dependet slot. The key is to get your fingers in the hold before your left foot begins to peeeeel away from the rock, bringing you with it. At this point, you are 25' up the climb, but with a good 40' of air under your heels...definitely a no fall situation. With a few solid breaths and a yell, I committed to the move, felt the hold land perfectly under my fingers, and carefully executed the sequential, but easier top out.

It was this evening that I heard the news that John Bachar had fallen to his death. It hit me quite hard, as he always seemed immortal to me in a way, dodging the adage that there are no old, bold climbers. John was an inspirational climber who will never be forgotten. So, I decided to name this climb after John, as you really need to bring your soloing head to it. Thanks for the inspiration John.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

From Rocklands With Love

The coolest flapper I've ever had...

Photos courtesy

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Welcome to Rocklands

After 26 hours of flying and 36 hours of straight travel, I've made it home. What an amazing trip. I don't know where to begin but with the most spectacular view I've encountered at any climbing area I've ever been to:
To say that Rocklands is vast is an understatement. It is literally unquantifiable. "Rocklands" as we know it today consists of the climbing at the northern tip of the Cederberg Wilderness Area, which covers over 360 square miles. Bouldering will continue to be developed as long as people are willing to hike. What makes the development so much work however, is the fact that maybe .5% of the rock out there is the rock you want to climb on. So, more times than not, you will spend a few hours hiking to a new zone only to find a few lines worth climbing. However, new areas are out there, hidden in the valleys, waiting to be found. I'm sure of it.

Early in the trip, the crew went to the Roadcrew area. Psyched to explore, I dropped my pad, put on my small Kompressor pack and started running around. Not more than 100 yards from the super classic v9, Last Day in Paradise, I saw this:
I was attracted to the precarious nature of this boulder, overhanging over a precipice, isolated on top of a cliff, with an amazing view. As you can see from the rope, a fall from anywhere on the line would land you off the cliff. To start, you walk to where the boulder and the cliff meet to grab the start holds. Even a fall from here would be game ending.

Photo: Jamie Emerson

Photo: Jamie Emerson

Photo: Jamie Emerson

Despite the relatively short nature of the climb (maybe 18 feet), the exposure, commitment and the wide open landscape add an exciting element, making you buzz with excitement while on the climb.

Being motived purely by aesthetics lately, this climb was as good as they get for me. Relatively easy physically, allowing you to enjoy the climbing despite the danger, yet totally gorgeous.

I will continue to post more photos as I get them. Until then, I highly recommend you check out Jamie's website,, where he is doing an amazing job chronicling the trip.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

South Africa Update

We have been in Rocklands for 12 days now and this only my third rest day. The weather has been unbelievably good. Nothing but blue skies and a cool breeze each and every day. This makes it hard to rest when the weather is so amazing. There are 8 of us in the Ehran house right now: me, Chuck, Sarah, Flannery, Stephanie, Jamie, Nalle and Nelson.

Everyone seems to be hitting their stride and sending hard. Sarah, Flan and Steph all sent Last Day in Paradise, v9. Jamie has done Oral Office, v12/13 and a slew of other hard stuff. Chuck did Green Mamba, v13, totally static and in about 25 minutes and Nelson crushed Caroline, v9, in between days of hauling Chuck's Red One camera around (which by the way is taking amazing footage of all the action.)

I've been totally overwhelmed with the amount of rock here. It's mind blowing. As far as the eye can see is rock. We are at the northern tip of the Cederberg Wilderness, climbing on, and seeing, only a fraction of a percent of what is out here.

We have been visiting the classic, more established areas so far, and even these still hold first ascent potential. Nalle and I found a new sector the other day and he knows of another new area from last year. The amount of climbing to be done here is only limited by your willingness to hike. And hike we do.

I've been trying to balance my attention between repeating classic problems and seeking out new first ascents. I haven't been doing a very good job. Everywhere I look is another striking line. I just love standing at the base of a labyrinth of rock, picking out the most beautiful line I can see from a mile away, and going to climb it. Below are three projects that I have done so far.

The first is a nice tufa-like feature on a gently overhanging wall. What makes it interesting however is its position. The boulder is perched on top of a 20 foot cliff and overhangs over the edge. To get to the start holds, you walk along the base of the perched boulder until you are where the edge of the cliff and the base of the boulder meet. With 30 feet of air under your heels, you pull on and make a long, committing, crux move before continuing up easier yet engaging terrain. I called this one "Welcome to Rocklands" for its position as part of the landscape.

Next up was a nice orange wall at the Roadcrew Area. What drew me to climb it was the awesome natural thread half way up and the fact that in the glowing evening light, the wall appears to be on fire. I think the reason I am drawn to climbing, especially highballs, is because for an instant, a brief, fleeting moment in time, you can be a part of the amazing landscape in which we recreate. Afterward, all that is left is footprints and chalk, which too will fade with time, leaving the boulders to remain as they were and will continue to be for millions of years.

At the top of my project list was a beautiful, 30 foot ships prow at the top of the Roadside Area. It too is sitting perched between other boulders, suspended. Instantly committing, technical, balance intensive, and with a last move smearing crux, this line is one of the boldest I've taken on in a while. Because of the tree and bush filled gully of a landing, it is impossible to protect with crashpads and certainly a solo. After spending two sessions on a rope learning the blind hand movements on the arete, body tension intense foot movements, and sickeningly scary barndoor-smear last move, I was as ready as I was ever going to be. There is a point where if you rehearse for too long, it gets inside your head to the point where you never commit. I find its best to learn the moves, but to leave your instinct in tact.

Listening to John Coltrane's Love Supreme album at the base, I sat, letting the percussion, piano, and bass wash my anxiety away. When I took my headphones off, the air was somehow more silent than before. As always, when I started climbing my mind grew quiet and my senses hummed with acute awareness. There are times to be relaxed and there are times to be aggressive with certain climbs. This line has both. After the technical arete moves is the final crux. Standing on a bad smear that does not stabilize you from the right hand sidepull, you must land your left hand into a slot before your body peals away from the wall. It was here I remember taking two long breaths before letting out a yell and getting it done. I've decided to call it Put Some Bachar Into It in memory of the legend himself, John Bachar. He was a true legend and inspiration.

The list of projects and areas to explore remains long, but at the top of the list now is The Airstar Project. Easily the most athletic, unique, and gymnastic climbs ever, this will be a true gem when completed. It features a gigantic pogo move to cover a huge distance between holds on a beautiful overhanging wall at the Roadside Area. I've put four days into it already and its hard to tell if success is close or not with such a unique move. I am certain it will get done this season, but by who? We will see!

On the next rest day I will try to get some climbing photos up from the projects.

Until next time,

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Leavin on a jet plane...

...bound for South Africa! I will update here when I get the opportunities, but I have no idea how often that will be. Adios!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Eldo Revisited

I had to pull this image off the site last month when Andy Mann told me Urban Climber wanted to run it in their 2009 Photo Annual. Well, now it's out so I can freely share it once more. The picture is of the boulder problem Germ Free Adolescence in Eldorado Canyon. The man "spotting" is none other than the first ascensionist himself, John Sherman. Verm put up this problem in 1980, with no pads,  and stands below as I go for it in the same style, onsight. Just my way of giving a nod to the man who has contributed so much to the sport. And Verm, well....I'm going to interpret his body language as approval because if he wasn't standing can bet your ass I would have had a pad for that dicey top out!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

RMH Update

Doors to the theatre open at 7 PM. Show starts at 7:30 PM.
Tickets will be available starting tomorrow at the box office and can be purchased the night of the event as well. $10.

See you there!

Calling ALL Bay Area Climbers!

Next Thursday, June 4th, Scott Neel (the director) and I will be hosting the CA Premiere of Rocky Mountain Highball at the Rialto Theatre in Berkeley. This event is presented by Vertex Climbing Center, Marmot, and the Berkeley Marmot Mountain Works retailer. Tickets are $10 and available at the door.

“Rocky Mountain Highball” is a new climbing film that presents an in depth look into why some climbers push themselves to boulder at the vertical limit. The film documents the many facets of bouldering by interweaving numerous classic climbs in Colorado with interview footage from the leading figures of the climbing world.

Director/Filmmaker Scott Neel, and Yama Studio have brought in a huge cast of world renowned climbers, like Paul Robinson, Mark Wilford, Kevin Jorgeson, Lynn Hill, Daniel Woods, John Sherman, John Gill, Steve Mammen, and Jason Kehl. Having filmed more than 70 climbs with more than 35 athletes, this film proves to be an exciting journey through the world of highball bouldering.

Please visit for more info, to view and download the official trailer, and check out the interactive cast line-up. 

This film will not be out on DVD for a month or more, so take advantage of the opportunity to see it now and join us, next Thursday at the Rialto in Berkeley. 

For theatre info, visit
Click here for a map or to get directions: map/directions
See you there!

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Kumite is, from what I understand, sparring ones adversary. A great name for a great problem. Check out the video here: Kumite



Five Ten Cup

I've made it back from Japan. What a trip! Simply awesome. The Five Ten Cup was a blast to compete in. I've cut together a quick video the comp:

The day after the competition, at B-PUMP2 (a gym outside Tokyo), we had a really fun "customer interaction" type day. 

Basically, we got there around lunch time and set boulder problems for 3 hours around the gym. We set one section of the gym with all beginner climbs, one section with some intermediate climbs, and one section with harder ones. Then we (me and NoBu) spent 30 or 40 minutes in each section of the gym giving beta and having a good time with the members. After this, NoBu and I had an informal competition/session where we made up problems for each other and hucked HUGE dynos out of the main cave. Totally fun. It turns out, NoBu is one of the best dyno-ers in the country, so now I don't feel so bad for not sticking the final dyno...
On Monday and Tuesday, we got to get outside. What an amazing countryside. The forests outside of Tokyo are like none I have ever seen before. We went to Mizukai where I had the chance to repeat Jason Kehl's impeccable problem, Kumite. 

I'm putting the video together of the days climbing outside, so check back soon for those.