Friday, January 22, 2016

New Mexico Bouldering guidebook available for pre-order!

Finally! One universal truth is that climbing guidebooks take much longer to come into existence (and a hell of a lot more work) than most people expect. Including the authors. I was hoping to have this out by Fall 2015, but the work put in at the final stages has really lifted the quality of the production as a whole so it was worth it.

Please see my new website for all the details on the new book, which is now available for pre-order whilst it is at the printers. I've put a hell of a lot of work into it, and in return for $37 you get a top-notch full-color guide to some pretty damn amazing new bouldering areas.

Photo by Eric Bissell

Friday, January 1, 2016

2015 in review

Wow! What a year. One of the definite highlights that immediately stands out is the dyno project at the summit of Nosos going down - Keenan Takahashi drove to New Mexico from Bishop CA (1000+ mile drive) specifically to do this one-move project! He rocked up after a day-and-a-half of driving, went straight to the top of the hill, no warmup, then got it done on the tenth go! The Odyssey (named in part after his ill-suited "off road" vehicle) is a fitting name for it, quite ironic given that its one move, but it sums up bouldering - a long journey to travel a short distance! With Keenan's left-hand beta, we have already had two repeats of the line so far (Sam Davis, Spenser Tang-Smith). Other Nosos highlights include the stunning Goat Milker Arete (V6) done by Noah Rayburn and Eric Natzke.. maybe the last of the mega classic moderates to be put up at Nosos? The Ripple Wall was essentially done last year, but Eric ripped a hold off the easy topout and got spat off - technically, the problem was completed this year. Certainly a line that would draw a crowd anywhere.

Ryan Silven's The Color (V13) is another spectacular, perfect problem, and quite probably the best in the state for the grade (or tied with Jimmy Webb's Kaiju). It ascends a dramatically hanging blunt arete, sitting in the wash of a relatively obscure drainage in Roy - crushers who want to come out to repeat it will have to work to find it first!

Posos saw a lot of action this summer, and we managed to establish a very nice circuit there, with a number of valuable additions in the V4-7 range, all seconds from the car (seriously, seconds.. maybe minutes if you're dawdling). Fury Road (V4), Digging For Fire (V5), White Collar Crime (V6) and The Golden Path (V7) are my favourites (and happen to be ascending grades... I am sure the poker players amongst you noticed...). Definite classics! I'm personally lucky to have snatched the FA on Digging For Fire.. one of my best first ascents ever I think. But I just happened to be the first person to decide to boot up for it.. it wasn't hard to find, clean, or unlock. Fury Road was another line that I just couldn't believe- basically no cleaning, perfect rock, perfect line.

Ortega West was the big news from last year, and work has continued this year, still at a high pace. The South Spur yielded a great circuit, from a warmup area called Chickie Nobs, down through an amazing overhanging hand crack (Temple Crack V3), a unique roof boulder Animal Action and another cool roof, Lost Children. William Penner and Tom Ellis contributed some excellent work to the downslope section of Centerfold (along with pioneering a new approach to this area). Gary Parker, Eric Heatwole, Craig Copelin and Josh Smith continued to expand the perimeter of known bouldering, with the development of the amazing B7 boulder at the true summit area, and some additional forays into the west outcrop. The Chopping Block zone was cleaned up, and has proven to be a quality destination too now with the addition of a few destination-worthy problems, including the 4 star highball The Long Game (V6).

Gnosis, another "backcountry" Ortega area has some great rock, but smaller, more of a "mini area" than another major destination. More similar to Nosos (hence the name) - generally less featured/fractured than Ortega rock. Knossos and Zosos are other smaller satellite zones. And yeah, I realize how confusing the developers have made it...

Another awesome year for New Mexico bouldering. So many instant classics put up, especially on the quartzite.. special times here right now for sure. And 2016, with the release of my guidebook, should be huge!

Click on the links to see photos/videos of the problems

N.B. Let me know if Ive missed anything you think is worthy.. There's no way I can compile a list like this without the input of NM boulderers.


Eric Bissell on American Flag V8

Fleur-de-lis V0 - Spenser Tang-Smith
The Horribleness Below V1 - Noah Kaufman
Rolling Thunder V3 - Spenser Tang-Smith
Split Pea V5 - Neal Wostbrock
Baby's Butt V5 - Noah Kaufman
Goat Milker Arete V6 - Noah Rayburn
Dream Boat V6 - Noah Kaufman
Hog Heaven V6 - William Penner
Lock the Boat V7 - Keenan Takahashi
M.A.D. (full line) V8 - Keenan Takahashi
Theme Theme No Theme V8 - Keenan Takahashi
American Flag V8 - Keenan Takahashi
Turnip For What V9 - Keenan Takahashi
The Ripple Wall V9 - Eric Bissell
Full Expansion V10 - Noah Kaufman
The Odyssey V10 - Keenan Takahashi


Drew Lefkowith on Fury Road V4
Skeleton Keys V0 - Owen Summerscales
Hips Don't Lie V2 - Owen Summerscales
Fury Road V4 - William Penner
The Glass Coffin V4 - Neal Wostbrock
Chutes and Ladders V5 - Neal Wostbrock
Digging For Fire V5 - Owen Summerscales
Fat of the Land V5 - Owen Summerscales
Dog Day Afternoon V5 - William Penner
Fallen Empire V5 - William Penner
War Boy V6 - William Penner
White Collar Crime V6 - William Penner
Mother Love Bone V7 - Neal Wostbrock
Mr Meeseeks V7 - Neal Wostbrock
Where the Climbers Drink V7 - Spenser Tang-Smith
Orange is the New Black V7 - Owen Summerscales
The Golden Path V7 - Noah Kaufman
The Golden Compass V7/8 - Eric Bissell
Rickety Cricket V8 - Danny Mauz
The Outer Reaches V11 - Keenan Takahashi
Pixelation V11 - Keenan Takahashi

Ortega West

Spenser Tang-Smith on The Long Game V6

Zombeaver V3 - Eric Heatwole
Temple Crack V3 - William Penner
Binocular Vision V3 - William Penner
First World Problem V4 - Gary Parker
Executive Suite V4 - Craig Copelin
Animal Action V4 - Kendo
Oryx V4 - ??
Bat Country V5 - Stephen Gallegos
Servant's Entrance V5 - Eric Heatwole
Balls So Hard V5/6 - Tom Ellis
Bloodbath & Beyond V5 - ?
Uncut Footage V5 - Gary Parker
The Long Game V6 - Spenser Tang-Smith
One Shot One Kill V6 - William Penner
Chance Intruder V6/7 - William Penner
First Impressions V6 - Spenser Tang-Smith
Choose Your Own Adventure V7 - Spenser Tang-Smith
Roundhouse V7 - William Penner
Money Trees V8 - Neal Wostbrock (stand) Keenan Takahashi (sit)

106 Boulders (AKA Noahsos)

Paxy V0 - Jess Dory
Long Roof V1 - Siemay Lee
BWE V1 - Noah Kaufman
Dirty Dancer V2 - Siemay Lee
Megaman V3 - Noah Kaufman
Zunny V3 - Siemay Lee
Mighty Mouse V5 - Noah Kaufman
Stolen Treasure V6 - Noah Kaufman
Brothers V7 - Ian Dory
Black Magic V7 - Noah Kaufman


Josh Smith on Cadaver Handjob V5

Revirginator V3, SDS - Eric Heatwole
Cup of Tea V4/5 - Craig Copelin
Green Lichen Kills V4 - Bob Broilo
Cadaver Handjob  V5 - Gary Parker
Dwarf Toss V5 SDS - Gary Parker
Pommel Horse Slab V5 - Gary Parker
Quartzhole Left V6 - Gary Parker
Cadaverine V6 - Craig Copelin

Pommel Horse Slab V5


The Broilermaker V3 - Andrew Schmalzer
Mr Smiley V4 - Eric Heatwole


Claim Jumper V3 - Craig Copelin


Keenan Takahashi on Apocalypse Dreams V9
Sands of Time V1 - Mike Freishlag
Test of Time V3 - Mike Freishlag
Mochuelo V9 - Ryan Silven
Force Grip V9 - Ben Hanna
Apocalypse Dreams V9 - Eric Bissell
Sunshowers V10 - Eric Bissell
The Hourglass V10 - Keenan Takahashi
Channel Incision V11 - Eric Bissell
The Color V13 - Ryan Silven

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Summer/Fall News

It is ironic, but the more time I seem to spend climbing, the fewer posts I seem to make... there was a time when every bowlder huntin' trip would be swiftly followed up by a post, even if it was only read by like 4 people.

Well, as you can therefore infer from the recent post (in)frequency, a lot has happened in the last couple months on multiple fronts.

Where to start? The RV Project would be a good place! The RV Project is (/are) a climbing duo: Spenser and Vikki. They travel the continent looking for the best climbing (mostly bouldering), creating delectable media content along the way, and using their gained wisdom to contribute and leave these areas in a better state than when they found them. I urge you to go read their post on the Conscious Climber Project, in addition to other stories from New Mexico. Also give em a follow on FB or instaG.. they're pretty handy at the old photo/words/video thing, so guaranteed they will entertain you with their adventures, plus you might learn a thing or two. Recently, they've nearly finished making a short movie about Ethan Pringle's historic redpoint of Jumbo Love - an epic piece of climbing for sure.. the film is surprisingly emotive, and gives you insight into what exactly goes into climbing something that difficult. Look out for it in 2016!

Spenser jumping on The Odyssey (V10)

Vikki on Too Good To Be American (V3)

So, back to NM, Spenser and Vikki came here on a quick trip last year, and were particularly enamored with the Ortega quartzite (aren't we all?). They actually reckon it's some of the best stone in the country - a big statement from people who have spent four years just searching for this. I've personally never seen better rock anywhere either, but my experience base is a fair bit narrower (West Coast, Southwest, UK).

What we're saying here, as outsiders to the state, is: New Mexicans - wake up! You have a treasure trove of some of the best stone anywhere, and it's on your doorstep! It's something to be mightily proud about. And I suggest getting out and sampling it* before the area blows up and gets trashed by the masses. Or will it? Interestingly, this has been a conversation that has come up a great deal lately, and nicely summarized by Spenser in his most recent blog post.

When the rock is this good, how can you keep your paws off?

No need for me to go over this ground then - just read the RV Project's posts about our chats with the Access Fund, and the dilemmas we have faced concerning the development of a new area. Its been tough - Leave No Trace doesn't leave much room for discussion. Until you consider real impacts like erosion and personal safety. Bouldering is not a Leave No Trace activity. Hell, hiking isn't either. But we can minimize our impact, and we can encourage others to emulate our recreational use patterns, in order to restrict the extent of the damage on the environment. And what about safety? I am of the opinion that moving a few rocks around to save a few ankles is the right and responsible thing to do.

Night sesh on The Outer Reaches (V11)

OK, this post title is about news, not ethics, so lets move swiftly on! I can't even remember where the last post left off... Orange Is The New Black? OK - we put up a BAD ASS V6 to the right of OITNB, called White Collar Crime. It involves multiple big compressioney throws up a 45 deg overhanging prow that pounds your pectoral muscles.. stellar stuff and its quite amazing it has been left until now to be done.

William on White Collar Crime (V6)

And another mega line at Posos that we've been looking at a while got done, The Golden Path V7. Christ, its good, a crimping masterpiece. Im really not sure it gets much better. Noah Kaufman was lucky enough to swoop that one, on his very first day at the area. Spenser got the 2nd ascent.. I meanwhile made the crux a few times but punted off the final committing big move. Psyched to get back, but now its started snowing, climbing at 9000' is likely to be off the menu til next year.

Noah Kaufman on The Golden Path (V7)

FINALLY got a chance to do some splorin', and search for Jay Foley's mystery "Impeccable Boulder". With a set of instructions much like Indiana Jones had for the Lost Ark, me Spenser and Vikki set off in search of this enigmatic boulder, hidden on the Jarita Mesa. Well, we found it! Pretty easily too. AMAZING rock quality, it lived up to the name. Didn't have chance to climb the crimpy lines on it yet, psyched to do so next season.

The Impeccable Boulder

Amazing multicolor slab

Oh and we also found a world class roof - actually Mr Bissell had mentioned it to me a few years back, so calling it a discovery is a bit disingenuous, but his crappy iPhone pictures made it look 6' tall and totally undermined any true discovery rights he may have had - ok.. I dont like using the trite phrase "world class", because what does it mean?! But I use it here, as it seems appropriate. World class meaning a one in a million line that seems to hover on the delicate line of possible/impossible. Theres a few starts, one exit, perfect big moves with opposed sloped holds and terrible feet. We think it will go - V13? 14? 15? 16..? Im not a world class climber so I have no idea. But it sure is cool to look at.

And... the Los Alamos crew have been busy up at Ortega West, and with the discovery of a new area, Gnosis. More info in a future blog.

What else? Noah Rayburn took a break from climbing wind turbines to nab the FA of a classic hanging arete at Nosos, The Goat Milker Arete V6. The scary bad landing has kept other climbers away until now. And Spenser/Eric Natzke established another bold line, Rolling Thunder V3, a slabby, lazer-cut 20' arete with crux at top.

Anything else happen? Plenty... outta time for this post though! Also... Im like 99% complete on the guidebook. Off to the printers soon! Exciting!

* Email me for beta if you can't find any. I will respond.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Roy / Nosos video

From Keenan and Eric's roadtrip earlier this year. Psyched for the new season to begin! Soon!

The Middle of Somewhere from Keenan Takahashi on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Hocus Posos

So it's been a month since the last post, I guess its time for a few more pics from bowlder land. The Posos circuit keeps expanding, with lots of work from myself, William Penner, Nat Gustafson, Kendo, Neal Wostbrock and a few others lending a hand.

Perhaps the most notable discovery was Fury Road (V4). Honestly, this problem was a one in a million - an overhang that is located on top of one of the outcrops, fairly close to the edge of the cliff, with a landing just big enough to be safe. Due to its location, it got missed by us, until I literally just looked up one day and saw the Rocklands-esque nose. Incredibly, the line had holds, and even more incredibly, it climbed really well, with big moves on big holds, heel hooks, heel toe cams, kneebar potential, a crux deadpoint throw and a crucial toe hook compression move. Long too, almost pumpy. Honestly - one of the best of the grade I have ever done anywhere, save perhaps Moonshine Roof. William Penner got the FA, shortly followed by Nat Gustafson and myself.

One other notable send for me was getting the FA of Orange is the New Black (V8). Notable mainly due to the fact that its the hardest FA Ive ever done, a very cool experience to put something up that is close to my limit. Maybe its a 7, but either way, pretty challenging. I dont normally care that much who does what first, but apparently this one did make me feel good about myself. Very cool climbing - a compression line on crimpy sidepulls with a bomber heel hook that allows this improbable line to go.

Fury Road from below. Looks good eh?

Drew on Fury Road (V4). On the fifth/sixth move, lining up to make the crux deadpoint to a sloper crimp.

Hard to photograph the lower section of Fury Road, but heres an attempt.

Scott figuring out beta for his new line, currently unnamed V5/6 on the Mezzanine.

William on a mega new project line going up cream face. 

 Neal showing an impressive amount of commitment to a friction move finish on the FA of this striking arete, Chutes and Ladders V5.

Orange Is the New Black goes up the left-hand side of this overhang, about 40 degrees overhung.

Another new project, this one is very burly.

What's that?....