Sunday, April 24, 2011

National Geographic

The May issue of National Geographic is on news stands and it features a great article on Yosemite climbing by Mark Jenkins with photography by Jimmy Chin. This past fall, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk of Camp4Collective joined Tommy and I up on the wall for a week. The product of their talent and hard work is featured on the pages of Nat Geo and in several amazing videos available on the Nat Geo website.

If you don't have a physical copy, you can view scan of it thanks to Black Diamond via this link:

At the National Geographic website, you can see some exclusive videos, view the enlarged photos from the article, and read the full article (more easily than in the scan) via this link:


Friday, April 8, 2011

As part of PCI's newly launched event booking service, I am happy to announce that I will be traveling to Dallas, TX from May 7-9th for three days of private lessons and a slideshow! We will be raffling off some great prizes, including a pair of Five Ten shoes and some apparel, so if you are in the area, come check this event out.

The slideshow I'm going to give is titled "If at first you don't succeed..." and is about something all climbers can relate to: failure. Progression cannot happen without failure. For over two years, Tommy Caldwell and I have battled bad weather, hard climbing and big wall logistics in our effort to free climb the hardest route on El Capitan, and one of the hardest in the world, The Dawn Wall. I'll be sharing what its like to dedicate years to a project and remain committed in the face of failure (and potential success!). With never before seen images from the upcoming issue of National Geographic, a teaser from Big UP Productions shoot of the Fall 2010 attempt, and awe inspiring photos from climbing's best photographers, you are guaranteed to be inspired.

When I'm not climbing, another one of my passions is teaching. I have been teaching technique and movement for the past 5 years and have worked with over 200 climbers of all abilities. My teaching style is one of efficiency and mechanics over strength and power. As both a veteran competitor and rock climber, I bring 14 years of experience to each and every lesson I teach. I love watching a climber's progression over the course of two hours. There's little more satisfying than sharing your experience with another person in a way that influences them in a positive way. VERY rewarding. If you're interested in taking a private lesson at Dallas Rocks between May 7 - 9th, go to the front desk for more information. I hope to see you all there!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Transporter Room 2nd Ascent

It is a well known fact that the Buttermilks of Bishop, CA are known for their highballs. It only takes one visit, or one glance at a photograph, to realize how big the granite boulders are and how unique the geology is. However, had it not been for the events of the mid to late 1980's, and a climb called Transporter Room, the Buttermilks may be known for the country's shortest sport climbs instead.

From the history update to the latest edition of the Bishop Bouldering guidebook, Wills Young describes the scene at Buttermilks in the late 1980's and early 1990's:

"The Grandpa Peabody is a massive boulder by any standards and its east face is its most unrelenting. Sure, there are bigger free standing boulders in the world...but not many. The well-featured, steadily overhanging east face of this monster was once a top-rope project that Tom (formerly Tommy) Herbert had been working back in the early 1990's. Recognizing its beauty, he even named the line Ambrosia, food of the immortals, fitting with the Buttermilk theme. Herbert wrestled with the idea of bolting the face, knowing it would make a fine sport route. However, he had already set a precedent for the area: he had removed bolts once placed on the neighboring Transporter Room (5.12), as a point of protest against the sport-bolting of Buttermilk climbs. Bolting was not an option. Moreover, the Buttermilks was a lonely, surreal backwater at the time. No place to be seen. Or unseen. Consequently, Herbert moved on to cliffs elsewhere. He left the spectacular wall chalked but unclimbed. In a sense then, we have Herbert to thank for steering the Buttermilks to its current path, one that left the great unclimbed lines for future generations, sparing these climbs the humiliation of a one-way trip to rap-bolted obscurity. "

Dale Bard first explored Transporter Room as a boulder problem by bouldering up to an obvious flake at the 20 foot height before down climbing. In 19878/88, having never fully climbed Transporter Room, Dale bolted the climb for his girlfriend at the time, Bobbi Bensman (PS thanks for this background info/history Bobbi!). While Dale was sinking 5, 3/8" bolts in, there were two kids in the parking lot watching. When Dale got down, they started to give Dale a hard time, saying they were "going to tell Tommy (Tommy Herbert)," who was a staunch opponent to rap bolting. After listening to all this, Dale walked back up the hill, booted up, and soloed the first ascent of Transporter Room. Back at the parking lot, Dale apparently tells the kids, "There! Now it's a boulder problem!" and walked away. A few days later, Tommy chopped it and Transporter Room sunk into Buttermilks history as the first mega-highball of the area.

In 2007, I first rappelled off the top of Grandpa Peabody looking for Transporter Room. I was keen to see this piece of Buttermilk history and try my hand at it. Unknowingly, I rapped off the wrong anchors and down the face of what would become, a few years later, Ambrosia:

Photo by Jim Thornburg.
By the way, if you have not seen his book, Stone Mountains, you are missing out:

Fast forward to last week, I'm at the Buttermilks and wondering what to try. I remember Transporter Room and, knowing the correct line this time, rappel off to check it out. After a good scrub on rappel to wipe off almost 25 years of neglect, I was psyched to follow in Dale's footsteps.

The climbing is straightforward, yet interesting. After 20 feet of fun 5.12, you get to two BIG sloping hueco's in the middle of the wall. These features mark the edge of the steep climbing and the friction slab. After a balancy and finger intensive sequence, you are standing in the two hueco's and are able to look up at 30 feet of 5.10 granite friction! In the photo below, I am finishing the mantle off of the flake that Dale (presumably) down climbed from before deciding to bolt the climb.

Second Ascent of Transporter Room, 5.12/v5 X

In classic Buttermilk style, the climbing at the top is not terribly difficult, but demanding of your composure and footwork. Over 5 minutes after leaving the ground, I was elated to have made the second ascent of the original Buttermilks highball.

Honestly, I'm a little ashamed it's taken me this long to repeat Transporter Room! I don't mean that in a pretentious way either. I'm honestly disappointed in myself! It is a right of passage to complete the testpieces of the past...a nod of the hat if you will to the visionaries before us. Every time we (climbers under 30) start to think we are the shit, let us not forget: we stand (humbly and gratefully) on the shoulders of the climbers before us. Without their vision and balls, we would be nowhere near where we are today.