Tuesday, July 14, 2015

New problems at Posos

Back to Posos, our summer refuge in the Ortegas. Hitting it hard, and amazingly it has been yielding. In fact by my count we have tripled the number of "must do" problems at the main Where The Cows Drink sector. And still rollin...

Posos is so nice in the summer.. we've even been climbing in temps of 60s when albuquerque and the rest of NM has been roasting. Seen baby elk and baby coyotes on the drive up too... such an awesome spot.

Here are some shots of the "instant classics" we cleaned and established in the last month.

Posos/Where The Cows Drink north outcrop

A photo posted by William Penner (@melvinmills) on

Me on a very nice vertical crimping problem, Fallen Empire V5. Pretty much perfect for its style.

On the same block (Contraband) the opposite face is even taller. This is William on his new mega line, "War Boy" V6. A really stunner of a highball, cruxy start with compression moves then great moves between incuts leading to a rest on a ledge and a seriously committing high step, all on magnificent rock.

Mother Love Bone (V6/7) on the Aspen Overhang. Probably the single best feature at Posos. The line is interesting in the fact that it can be done many different ways - some would say this detracts a little, but just go with whatever appeals. The holds and the line are both amazing. The sit looks desperate but might go too.

Molly just chillin on a random spot of grass under a bright orange roof on "The Veranda"

New pup's in town

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Tahoe Bouldering Guides: Outlying Areas (including Loon Lake!) is out now

Well I've waited a long time to write this post. 4 years ago I wrote a guide to Loon Lake, my beloved bouldering area in Tahoe which I helped develop. 350 problems, give or take.. not too shabby. Dave Hatchett - the man! - took my notes and photos and incorporated it into his amazing Tahoe Bouldering Guides, and it got put in the "Outlying Areas" volume, which has been the last to be completed. Dave also visited Loon a few times, and managed to improve the landing of the incredible Chasing Rainbows project, and sent the stand (v5) and sit (v7). 4 star line, maybe the best in Loon (as I predicted). Can't wait to re-visit and climb the line that always taunted me. And there are still some incredible projects - the perky arete (pic1 pic2) and the vader boulder compression line to name two.

I think the website hasn't quite been updated yet, but go here for the book page or check out the FB page for more info.

Loon Lake is a BEAUTIFUL place. Different from much of the rest of Tahoe in that the boulders are out in the open, on incredible Tuolumne Meadows-esque glacially-carved slabs and bowls. Some of the rock is as good as Bishop (the Outer Loonies). Perhaps the main negatives are the long winding drive through the crystal basin from Hwy-50, and the fact that its so sunny and hot out there half the time it isnt covered in snow. But notwithstanding these detractions, I urge the Californians amongst you (are there any who are still reading this blog?!) to use the new guide and get out there! I have many fond memories of camping by the lake, with either the party atmosphere of the summertime with the 4wheelers, or in the Fall, a completely lonely, remote feeling destination.

Ok, so throwback time. Here are a few of my favourite lines out there, that I have photos of. Some of them I even managed to snag the FAs!

Silk Cut V6 (FA Liam Vance). Short - like 2 moves really!! - but such a clean, pure compression line

Shipwrecked V4 (FA Dave Nunley). An atypical Tahoe problem - beautiful steep jug haul on really good welded tuff

Point Counterpoint V1 (FA Owen Summerscales). Super clean friction slab by the water front. Like Bishop, but without the polish.

Big Whitey V1!!! (FA Owen Summerscales) Oh my.. one of my all time favourites at Loon. So freaking GOOD!! Pretty damn highball, dihedral, rounded textured comfy jug layback, clean rock... just get on this and try to resist the urge to climb all the way to the top...

Nautilus Roof V3 (FA Owen Summerscales). An awesome high foot slab move to get established, then just super fun moves over the top. Sloper jugs!!

Discworld V6 (FA Owen Summerscales).  Yes its a traverse, but its a damn good one, featuring a heel-toe cam, and slopers that are really hard to hang off, enabled by just one single foot chip, and a pumpy finish. I give this all the stars.

Maybe Its Maybelline V2 (FA Owen Summerscales).  Not as long as I'd like it to be, but very nice problem for its 8' or so of climbing. Great holds and heel hooks.

Sunday, June 7, 2015


Xq? Why, yes, I am talking about the paleoproterozoic rock type.

Xq Ortega Quartzite – Coarse-grained, gray vitreous cross-bedded quartzite consisting mostly of quartz with minor amounts of muscovite, kyanite, and layers of hematite. A viridine-bearing member recognized as unit Xqv in the Ojo Caliente quadrangle constitutes the base of this quartzite and is aregionally continuous marker horizon.

X stands for "Archean", or Precambrian, i.e. its age - very frikkin old, the last on the list of geologic time periods. Q for quartzite. Or just Xtreme Quality.

Really that should tell you all you need to know. But maybe I would add to that - it's the best rock in the state, and some of the best rock I've ever seen anywhere. And there's more in northern NM than you can shake a cleaning brush at!

Up at Ortega West we got a chance to go back to our new roof boulder - dubbed Animal Action. It's great! We sent a pumpy traverse, a dyno and a short but fierce straight-up, all hitting the v4-6 range. Another moderate remains to be done, plus two very hard lines. One is a completely horitzontal roof with kneebars and toehook trickery (the "cornhole" project), the other is a committing highball face that starts with compression and will end in a very committing mantel move using thin seams and a big foot ledge (the "animal house" project).

Found another couple of steep problems immediately downhill of there, dubbed the one overhang "Lost Children", though need to get back to actually climb it. Looks like a lorra fun... compression leading into a hand jam then a succession of longish diagonal moves out of a roof.

The seasons been going pretty well so far up there. More areas are also being developed on the east side of the summit. So much to go back to ...

The Animal Action traverse (v5?)

Bear Pause

The Animal House project

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Back to Business

Alright time to resume business. More photos of unclimbed rocks! wahey. This time Ortega West:

Views from Ortega West

Arete/dihedral projects, with Molly for scale

Perfect clean open book

Manos del fuego V7/8

New warmup area - Chicky Nobs

New roof boulder, Animal Action.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Shoe gazing

Ok time for one of those self-conscious, self-aggrandizing posts, the type which almost always appear after the 3rd or 4th year of keeping a blog. What is this blog anyway? Where did it start? Where did it go? Who am I? I strongly recommend you skip this and wait for the next post if you just want to see pics of cool new boulders.

This blog has always been about the very esoteric activity of discovering and developing new rock climbs - specifically, boulders - seen through my eyes, a weekend warrior, an aspirational but decidedly average climber. Usually the areas I have developed have been more for pragmatic reasons than any - convenient locations that offer high quality but also good accessibility for quick trips out. And also I have an obsession with cleaning and documenting things, particularly rocky things.

Along the way we have discovered some real gems, and that certainly has been part of the thrill of development. But since living in NM the development game has changed a bit - we've been re-discovering areas that pioneers before us have established (namely, William Penner, Tom Ellis and company), but are off the radar, and some of these areas - Roy, Ortegas - are pretty damn amazing. The blog has veered from personal project discovery towards spotlighting the treasures of middle-of-nowhere NM destinations. And along the way become more of a news site too. My interests in the face of all this unclimbed/unknown rock have switched more to documentation - I am in the very final stages of writing a guidebook to New Mexico bouldering. Will be wrapped up by early summer and headed off to the printers.

I am as psyched as ever for finding the perfect unclimbed line - but now we find ourselves finding "mega projects" almost every time we head out. Roy and the Ortegas just keep delivering - I am still as excited as ever but dont necessarily post about it anymore. Instagram seems to be a better medium for that kind of thing anyway - check out #roybouldering, #lamaderabouldering, #pososbouldering, #ortegabouldering.

Ok hopefully a couple new posts about Roy and Posos will be following shortly!