Archive for April, 2012


Bishop and 3 Movie Reviews

April 11, 2012

It feels great to look at my fingertips and see blood bruises under the new skin; a reminder of the recent flash-trip to Bishop. As the reminders slowly wear away I start downloading some video and writing some insights from this trip.

The trip was broken up into Yin and Yang – a day of focused specialization followed by a day of relaxed expansion – two very distinct days.
The specialization was trying hard on one line.  I came in with good conditioning; I’ve been feeling stronger than ever in the gym, normally only having 2-3 boulders left to work on, while the weekly outdoor sessions at the sharp Mortar Rock have slowly strengthened my skin.  Going into this Bishop trip I felt optimistic despite the forecast of warm/hot conditions.  I didn’t have any goals for this trip but felt that it would be best to give myself some focus so I decided that focus would be on the aesthetic line Twin Cracks – V9 while Max Zolotukhin focused on the V12 sit start A Scanner Darkly.

The forecast was spot on with high temps and a blazing sun.  Twin Cracks was in the cool shade but even there the conditions were noticeably below par.  The climb revolves around compression on sidepulls with bad feet and precision stabbing to small holds; it is the kind of climb I generally do well on, however that day something was off.  Despite feeling strong and having good skin, my body movements felt clumsy and uncoordinated.  I got some good beta from Jeremy and Max and was soon falling on the final hard move, the lunge to a big sharp sidepull jug; despite sticking the jug I couldn’t shake the overall feeling of being a sackful of potatoes and fell before moving the feet into position.
Max’s attempts didn’t shape up either but, on the sunny side of the boulder, baking in the sun, Dan Beall pulled of a flash of a V10 slab.
Shaking off the letdown I left it be behind me and enjoyed the rest of the day filming.  We hiked up to The Ninth — a V7X ball-shriveling highball — and I got good footage of Jeremy Rush and Dan Beall working it and Dan sending this extremely proud majestic line.

The Ninth goes up the arete, not the face… ya!

The second day was even warmer and Jeremy, Dan, Margaux and I decided to circuit the tall easy classic slabs in the Buttermilks.  At some point Dan says what we all were thinking, that these days are oftentimes the best climbing days, enjoying the day, climbing and having fun, no expectations.  So very true.

Now for some Movie Reviews:
I actually paid with my own money for these movies so I’m going to say what I thought of them!

Park Life – $0  FREE! (ok, I didn’t pay for this one)
Video Quality: Excellent
Soundtrack: Excellent
Editing: Excellent
Content: 25minutes

Review: Excellent.  Really well pieced together video, a lot of new climbs, a lot of unseen climbs, many different views of each climb (pans and closeups of holds), well edited together.  There are some good interviews with the athletes, showcasing who they are and how climbing fits into their lives; this piece is, in my view, very important.  Cons: wish it was longer and had more interviewing.

Better Than Chocolate – $15
Video Quality:
Soundtrack: Excellent
Editing: Excellent
Content: One hour plus 15 minutes of additional footage of bouldering footage from the beautiful Switzerland.

Review:  Plenty of obscure boulders that I had not heard of or seen in video as well as the usual lines.  Just like the boulders, the video features several climbers that I had not heard of or seen in video and some nice interviews with them which let us know who they are.  These elements keep it fresh and interesting.   Cons: There were some parts that just got a bit boring; felt a little stretched thin sometimes.

Welcome To The Hood – $11
Video Quality: Excellent
Soundtrack: Excellent
Editing: Good – not many edited shots really, mainly fixed angles on the boulders.
Content: 40minutes (5 of credits)

Review: Excellent footage of the boulders, beautiful images, great work!  Several of new lines as well as several well known lines.  Footage is generally one or two fixed angles.  Cons: There is nothing “hood” about those white kids wearing bandanas.  Living in Oakland, a block from the liquor store is definitely more hood and not something I’ll be writing home about.  Keep it real; no, seriously, best not to fake things.  Or just make it funny.

My Personal Impressions Of The Three:

It is impressive that V13, 14 or 15’s can feel boring to watch nowadays.  There is so much online free content of climbers cruising up these lines that I am clearly feeling bored by just more of the same.  Whereas I could watch the whole of BTC (actually I would skip some parts) and Park Life (I just rewatched it now) I would not have been able to do the same with WTTH if it was any longer (though I will go back to rewatch beautiful lines such as Big Paw, Pamplemousse and Special Edition, such nice lines).  I engaged much more easily with the athlete interviews/shots in Park Life and BTC but could not do the same with WTTH; “The Hood” feels like an empty concept and the clip of Andy Gullsten saying he had no idea what the hood meant clearly reflected this.
The viewer needs some way of connecting to the people in the films in order to feel engaged.  Climbing movies have never been about just sending boulders, even in Rampage the viewer gets a sense of who these kids are.  This is fundamental to why we watch a movie.
And finally, I think it is important to ask why do we pay for content?  What are we paying for?  Are we paying to help support the athlete that is sponsored?  I think their sponsors should pay them so the movies can be free to the public; it is the restaurant that should support their workers, not the tips from the clients.  Let the filmmakers make the for-sale films and the pro climbers climb.

Someday we will see a climbing movie that will open climbing to the public at large, allowing everyone to connect with what we do, why we do it, why we love it.  A climbing movie like this: Gleaming The Cube. 🙂  It may seem silly but if a movie doesn’t manage to engage a viewer emotionally then it has fallen short of it’s potential.  Early skateboarding movies have a lot to teach us.

Article Review:
DeadPoint Magazine’s – Branding The Herb Herd

I think this is a great article on the current situation of sponsoring amongst different sports and comparing them to the situation in climbing.  Climbing will only get significant sponsoring when it can be marketed, meaning that the general public can have a way of understanding what it is.  In the meanwhile, sponsored athletes should do all they can to promote the brand that backs them and to promote climbing itself.  I will venture to say that pro fishermen focus on fishing and making their sponsors look good, they don’t focus on making and selling movies.


Mortar Rock

April 5, 2012

It has been a while since I posted with any regularity on this blog.  Climbing indoors really hasn’t motivated me to film and post with that much enthusiasm.  The indoor climbing/training has been going great, and I’ve considered posting videos of training routines but what really motivates me is outdoors and I’ve been reluctant to switch this spot to a chalky indoor video blog.

A month and a half ago I went on a 3 day trip to Bishop which got me psyched, frustrated and motivated.  Psyched because I feel stronger, frustrated because I felt unaccustomed to climbing on real rock, and motivated for training outdoors.  The Bay Area isn’t known for its outdoor climbing spots but it does have one (or two) randomly placed boulders: Mortar Rock and Indian Rock.  Just Mortar Rock (one boulder) has a hundred (or 180 according to 8a) lines and variants.

Despite Mortar Rock being the opposite of a bouldering Mecca (1 boulder, sharp, painful, and located in the middle of a city) it has been the proving ground for many of the finest climbers of the previous generation; hard climbs have been established here by high-profile names such as: John Sherman, Greg Loh, Randy Puro and Chris Sharma as well as lesser known yet strong local climbers.

Here is a video of Full Fever: