the diary of a [newbie] rock climber

i've recently discovered the intoxication that is rock climbing. what follows is a collection of random thoughts, experiences and images related to my newbie rock climbing adventures. note: climbing is a dangerous activity. these are only my opinions and shouldn't be substituted for good sense and education. climb safely and at your own risk.

10.01.2008

so i'm taking an indefinite break

just in case that hadn't become apparent. keep climbing on!

my best regards,

david

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8.07.2008

gay, uhm blind, rock climber conquers mt. everest

this makes me giggle.


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8.03.2008

crack climbing


randomly came across this nude climbing photograph. the image is part of a 2008 calendar project by washington photographer pete saloutos.

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7.23.2008

these photos have nothing to do with climbing at the new river gorge


i ventured out to the new river gorge back in may. for most of my five days there it rained. a lot. i didn't climb much.

when it rains at this east coast mecca, some overhanging areas do stay relatively dry. crowds will abound though.

you can view a slideshow of my mostly non-climbing photos here:

http://newclimber.com/gallery/newrivergorge

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7.17.2008

momentum video magazine gets set to go gratis & a "perfecto" movie review


i hit up the boulder theater on wednesday to catch the last stop on mvm's premiere tour of perfecto: rock climbing over the sea.

the film was introduced by director mike call kevin bradburn where he also broke the news that momentum video magazine or mvm will move away from its website's paid subscription model. come september 2008, two and half years of climbing video content will be free. this is good news if you're a broke consumer. bad news if you're a film maker trying to eat.

before the film began we were treated to two shorts. the first short featured james litz. the second highlighted alex honnold doing his thing in indian creek, utah. honnald tackled belly full of bad berries (5.13a) patient lingering - the hardest off-width at the creek - and worked his way through two super entertaining rounds on from switzerland with love belly full of bad berries (5.13a). honnold's upside down climbing work was both immediate and intimate. at one point alex mutters, "i'm stuck." the audience was right there stuck with him. very good stuff.

on to perfecto.

perfecto focuses on the beautiful spanish island of mallorca and all its amazing orange and yellow limestone. the film doesn't focus on any one rock star - although ethan pringle gets somewhat close. there are no super crazy 5.14s featured here either. the film is mostly interested in deep water soloing and the beautiful cliffs of palma de mallorca.

visually, perfecto sticks to basic and classic cinematography. there are no heavy special effects and the editing is simple and restrained. you get to actually see climbs play out. the water and the cliffs are enough really. there's something complete and fantasic about watching and hearing climbers getting sucked in by the watery earth. the filmmaking, climbing and environment approach simple poetry at times.

so what to look out for? a stand out scene presents ethan pringle revisiting es pontas, which chris sharma made famous in the film king lines. "i guess you don't have to do the dyno," pringle concludes. another good scene shows jay holowach hilariously warming up by lifting some awkward cliff rocks. chuck fryberger's effort on weatherman (5.13c) was raw and accessible. the final winner was ethan pringle inverting himself on la hostia (5.13c).

perfecto wasn't perfect, however. the pace and subjects got a bit monotonous at times. it could have been shorter maybe. i also wish i had seen some exposure to mallorca as a place - there was basically no spanish and little if any interaction with the locals in the movie. my other and usual peeve was that there was very little story. i wanted more interaction between climbers off the cliff face. i wanted to see more about where they were sleeping, what they were talking (or fighting?) about, and what they were eating. i still don't get why climbing filmmakers are seemingly afraid to bring audiences closer to the humanity of their subjects and this sport.

overall, perfecto is a pretty great summer climbing movie. as temperatures peak this july, this film will make you wish you were out there squeezing the ocean out of your chalk bag and shoes.

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7.11.2008

rock jumping: "we make from this some kind of sport"


interesting story and five minute video in the nyt today about the crazy czech sport of rock or tower jumping.

not for folks who like their ankles much.

the story also features u.s. climber cedar wright.

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7.10.2008

confidence is ... using a hungry bear as a crash pad

this mig investment ad is funny and odd.




via: copyranter. thanks andy.

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6.23.2008

something new to try at the climbing gym

getting bored of your usual gym routine?

here's something to try. you get a seven second head start. be sure your rope is nice and tight.



via: american gladiator / nbc

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6.22.2008

buildings and mountains - the republic tigers

we've been waiting all our lives
for things we've always had
but have no eyes to see

all these buildings and mountains
slowly they'll arise
before our eyes



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6.05.2008

world movie premiere: dosage vol. 5


hot off the virtual presses. i just got out of the world movie premiere of dosage vol.5, big up productions' fifth installment in the dosage film climbing series. according to co-director josh lowell, he had finished his final edit just hours ago.

as is typical in this crazy climbing colorado town, the premiere tonight at the boulder theater was packed. the lowell brothers, josh and brett, introduced the film by calling to the stage a cluster of some of the world's most elite climbers. the nobodies included: chris sharma, beth rodden, paul robinson, jason kehl and daila ojeda. (a funny aside. before i realized who she was, i tried to take beth rodden's chair. good thing tommy caldwell wasn't there.)

josh lowell continued his introduction by expressing that his guiding principle in making and editing dosage vol. 5 was "no bullshit." i haven't watched big up's other volumes, but i kept thinking this guiding principle was code for "no story line."

from my perspective, one of the limitations with a lot of these climbing films is that they don't venture into any kind of cohesive narrative(s). all you experience as a viewer are short "physical" vignettes set to hip-hop music. maybe that's enough for most viewers. for me, it all gets to be a little mind-numbing.

in addition to the lack of a story, or even stories, there were other problems with the film.

for one, the film editing was often heavy-handed. instead of letting a good sequence play out, the filmmakers would cut scenes to match the tempo of whatever sound track was selected. while this approach usually works with music videos, it doesn't always work with climbing. i felt cheated at times; especially when watching some of the first ascents. the staccato edits did work however when showing sequences of climbers trying and failing with particular moves.

another problem with the film is that it seems to cover way too much terrain and way too many climbers. china, spain, arkansas, yosemite, colorado, and ny. we also see at least thirteen elite climbers. more isn't always better. i wanted to get to know these folks a bit more intimately.

in general, the film's visual styling was inconsistent. i think young film makers need to learn restraint when using all the fast and accessible digital editing tools that are out there. it's great to experiment; just do it with rhyme/reason.

i also want to briefly comment on a specific cinematographic technique that was used a few times. the approach consists of a slow clinical camera pan. while this worked with some of the climbing problems, like randy puro on drive on (v11), it often made me feel too detached from the climbing environments. during a lot of those camera sequences i felt like i was watching an odd pbs nature special on the deliberate movements of iguanas.

oh, one final thing. the female voicing over the "dose 1, 2, 3... " intersticials was a little too sexy techno club mtv for me. i didn't get it.

you might be surprised to know that there were things i actually did like about the film. sometimes really liked.

in the film section titled, "dose 2," there were some great scenes in the yangshuo area of china. there's a good long whipper under some limestone towers that was almost worth the price of admission. seeing the locals react was great too.

my favorite part of the move was "dose 4" in catalunia, spain. one of the things that was great? no music. instead, we're treated to the awesome motivational chants of spaniards saying "venga, venga, venga.." (come on, come on, come on ...) and climbers viscerally grunting. this is climbing film making at its most pure and most authentic. in this section we also see the awesomely futuristic sport/bouldering problem known as ali hulk (9c). and finally, chris sharma does his magic here by climbing us through estado critico (9a), neanderthal project, and golpe estado project.

the final dose in the film shows beth roden tackling some beautiful 5.13 one-pitch yosemite cracks. her ascent of meltdown (14c) shows why she's such a climbing rock star.

some final thoughts. dosage vol. 5 excels when it doesn't try too hard. it also shows some flashes of brilliance when it experiments visually. this is an ambitious film and i applaud the lowell brothers for going big. maybe with vol. 6 they will go deep as well.

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