Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Beard vs Angel Dyno

Nalani and I have been joined by our Swedish friend Robert who escaped the Nordic winter for some bouldering in the sun.  His first day in 'merica we took our jet-lagged friend to the Kraft Boulders where he proceed to attack the stone with reckless abandon.  He managed to avoid bleeding but his tips took a beating on the classic Angel Dyno, which almost went down (several times over).
 Robert on the opening moves of the Angel Dyno.  It's hard to see but he is rocking an impressive beard.

Robert so close to holding the big swing.  He did that over and over.

The Angel Dyno.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Grand Junction Bouldering Video

Here's a little video from my time in Grand Junction.  Hopefully it will inspire some folks to get out and develop the "new" area (which is much better than most of the local stuff).  We only got that one half day and I'm psyched to go back if I'm still in the States when the snow clears.

Grand Junction Bouldering from Walker Kearney on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Vegas Baby Vegas

The freezing temperatures in Colorado and Utah chased us to Las Vegas where we've been hanging for a week.  It seems like this happens every year or two and even though I'm not psyched on the climbing in Vegas you can't beat the weather as we've been working on our tans while the highs in St George (just 1.5 hours away) only recently starting creeping above freezing.  

Fortunately it looks like things are starting to warm up at other areas and in a day or two we'll be motoring ourselves toward the giant granite boulders near Bishop, CA.  

Here are a few pictures from Las Vegas. 

This is what we were escaping from.  This is roughly an hour north of Vegas and illustrates one of the great things about the Western United States, if you don't like the weather just drive an hour.  

I've spent a bit too much time in Vegas and I'm so unmotivated that I even went sport climbing one day just to remind myself why I boulder.  At least Hammie thought it was fun.

The biggest selling point of hanging in Vegas has been the presence of family as my sister Prairie and our dad have circled the vans.  Been awesome camping with them.  Here Hammie takes Fart-Fart (aka grandpa) bouldering at the Kraft Boulders.

There are certainly some good problems in Vegas.  Here Prairie climbs Pork-chop, one of the gems that shouldn't be missed.

Jake of All Trades has some of the coolest hold in Vegas.

Prairie got very close on Jake of All Trades but in the end had to pack it up after nearly throwing a wobbler. 

 The Pearl is one of Vegas' best know problems.  This one tends to get bagged on by lots of climbers after their ego gets blasted falling off this polished gem.  Masumi eventually sends after a bit of a struggle.

Joe gets painfully close on the problem left of the Angel Dyno.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Pay Dirt: Grand Bouldering

A couple years ago when I first explored Unaweep Canyon just outside Grand Junction I was impressed with the amount of rock and disappointed with the overall quality.  If only there was a canyon like this that wasn't 90% choss.....  

Well last year I headed south of Gateway on Hwy 141 a mere hour from Grand Junction and noticed the rock type changed from the disappointing Dakota to the much better Wingate sandstone.  Due to time restraints and a sleepy 3 year old I was limited to only a quick inspection of roadside blocks but I saw enough to know I needed to come back.

So this year I was back in the hood and excited about seeing what this area had to offer.  It only took a few hours of running around boulders before I saw enough to last multiple days and I had only scratched the surface.  The rock was good and formed awesome features that make for great lines and climbing.

Super psyched I recruited Matty and I went back for a half day of brushing and further exploring.  We put up two great problems and left 3 sick projects and I became even more excited about the area.  I was even thinking I could spend a couple weeks in Junction developing when the weather gods decide to shit on my plans and make the entire USA a snowy icebox.

It's been a week now since I last climbed (weird to go that long between climbing while on a climbing trip) and while I've left for warmer temps I can't help but wonder why people haven't climbed in that canyon.  The boulders are super obvious with approaches that are laughably close.  Only one hour from Grand Junction I don't see why boulders haven't been flocking there.  I saw almost no signs of climbing and I later learned that what little chalk I did see was attributed to a friend (and kindred spirit) that lives 5 hours away (he was also dumbfounded by the lack of established bouldering).  Seriously, Grand Junction boulders should drive past the choss in Unaweep and get to work.  The rock is way better and there are gems of every grade sitting a stone's throw from the road.

Anyways, if I'm still around when the snow clears I'd love to head back.  And I'd love to hear if anyone else has actually checked this place out.  Amazes me that it is practically untouched.

On a side note, Saint George is covered in snow and it looks like we'll be heading to Vegas as it seems the only place with pleasant temps.  Here are a few pictures from the "new" area.

Matty on the best problem we put up, a striking arete with a technical sequence.  It took some time to work out the subtleties and we called this one Pimps Don't Cry

Matty on Pimps Don't Cry.  It required almost no brushing.

We thought this one would be a moderate but we couldn't do the first two moves and decided to move on.  Deceptively difficult. 

A sweet problem on perfect rock.  Matty got super close to this one.  I called it Plain Sight.  

I was hoping to go back to this one.  Directly behind Plain Sight I wanted to clean the top with a rope before going for it but it's probably under a bunch of snow now.  You can see how far the approach is.

Another roadside block.  I managed to unlock a sequence using improbable holds but daylight ended the session.  Would love to go back.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Medusa's Knees

So I've talked a little trash about the local climbing in Grand Junction but I've also tried to make clear that there is some good stuff to be found.  It might require a little guidance (or a lot of time sifting through choss) but one can actually climb on some pretty sweet problems.  One of these quality problems is found at the Dynamite Shacks and is called Medusa's Knees.  The rock is good (by Junction standards) and the movement is awesome.

Prairie uses the first of two drop knees after climbing the opening steep section.

The crux revolves around two slopey crimps.  Here Matty grabs the first crimp  

Both Matty and I could grab the first crimp without a drop knee but all 3 of climbers had to use one to grab the second crimp

The second drop knee

Prairie does the crux dead-point to a slopey jug.  A pretty sweet problem.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Rocktown Video

Here's another little video from my time in the Southeast.  For the most part I prefer making videos that are more than simply setting a camera on a tripod but that's all had the energy/time to do.  So if you want some beta and to get an overview of some of the classics in Rochtown you might enjoy this.

Rocktown Bouldering: Classics from Walker Kearney on Vimeo.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Grand Junction Bouldering and the Arctic Front

After leaving the Dirty South my little family hopped over to Colorado to spend Thanksgiving in Grand Junction with my family.  I'd been through Grand Junction a couple times over the years and explored a bit of the climbing.  There is tons of local bouldering which is unfortunately mostly choss but if you are willing to explore there is gold in them hills.  Between stuffing my face, hanging with family and tending to a vomiting princess I managed to get out for some quick local sessions and also found a serious gold mine (I'll post more on that later).  Unfortunately any further attempts to climb were shut down as an arctic front moved in, dumped snow and lowered temperatures to below freezing for the foreseeable future.  Dawn the weather gods.

We're planning on escaping the snow and embarking toward St George/Las Vegas in the next day or two as the gold mining in Colorado will have to wait.  Here are a few pictures of some local Grand Junction bouldering.

Grand Junction at first glance looks like a bouldering mecca, until you realize most of the rock is choss.  But it sure is fun hiking around looking for the rare gems.

Amongst all the local choss a handful of decent climbs can be found.  We spent a few hours at one of the local spots called the Dynamite Shacks and not only enjoyed ourselves but found a couple climbs worth doing.  Here Matty on a slopey arete.

Another fun little arete that took more effort than anticipated.  

This slab was actually super cool.  Notice Matty using a mono.

A fun problem with a crux dyno at the end.  Matty tried to use his height to reach but still came up short.

This problem wasn't anything special but still fun to climb on despite the soft rock  The nice thing is that next year it'll be a different problem as the holds are ever so slightly crumbling with every attempt.  Got to find the upside to choss

Monday, December 2, 2013

Little Chris in the Dirty South

While in the South I had the pleasure of having one of my best friend along for most of the trip.  Chris Schaefer (aka Little Chris or Dreamboat) is not only a fantastic friend and climbing partner but is also godfather to Nalani.  Chris is also coming back from injury and it was nice to see his shoulder holding out.  If I have one criticism of Chris it's that he has a poor choice of clothes when it comes to taking climbing pictures.

Chris, like it says on the jacket

The Godfather giving Hammie a ride 

Chris on one of Rocktown's best, Golden Shower

Chris blending in with the rock on Blue in Rocktown

Milking the slopers of Little Bad in Rocktown

Chris finds his own beta 
Who's the man?

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Bouldering with a 4 year old in Rocktown

Most people that have been climbing with me recently knows that 4 years ago my essential climbing gear grew substantially and has been growing every since.  Of course I'm talking about my daughter Nalani (aka Hammie).  Quitting climbing has never been an option for me so when Nalani came into my life it meant packing up that little bundle of joy and heading out to the rocks.  Sure it takes a bit more effort and there are some areas that aren't practical (although I still managed to stuff Hammie in my crashpad and hump it up to Chaos Canyon) but having Nalani along makes life better.  More than a few times a big hug from my little girl has made me let go of some climbing frustrating and just enjoy the day.  Hammie is a pretty amazing crag kid (while nearly perfect she does have her moments) and resentfully has even shown an interest in climbing herself.  We'll see what comes of that but I'm hopefully.

Here is a little video of some bouldering in Rocktown where Hammie made her presence known.

Rocktown: Bouldering with a 4-year old from Walker Kearney on Vimeo.

Friday, November 29, 2013


Rocktown had been my favorite area from my trip to the South 10 years ago but after this trip I'm not sure if I prefer the climbing in Rocktown or LRC.  Both area are roughly the same size but Rocktown is a bit more spread out and the climbing tends to be steeper.  The thing that might give Rocktown the edge is that you can camp there and it is cheaper (there is still a small fee to climb).  It was nice to not need to drive and there were multiple problems I failed on those many years ago that I was excited to finally finish off.  We climbed 3 consecutive days and after making short work of the old projects I ran around ticking as many other classics as I could.

Chris and Hammie hanging in the parking before heading out to the boulders

 Golden Shower is a beautiful problem.  The problem to the right is called Golden Harvest and is one of the problems I'd like to go back for.

Center Croc Block is an awesome highball and should be high on the list for anyone visiting Rocktown.

Aaron on Standard Variation.  The iron bands in the the sandstone served as the grips and make for some awesome aesthetics.

 Aaron on a cool highball.

Brown Eye Left had some awesome shapes and pleasing movement.  This wall was one of several that offered a slew of variations.  We opted to climb the most straight forward lines and skipped the linkups.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Little Rock City

Chattanooga is one of those cities climbers flock to as there is endless rock scattered around.  There is still tons of potential and while most of the areas are small there are a couple that are more substantial, with Little Rock City (aka Stone Fort) being the largest and most popular.

Little Rock City in some ways is a model for access as the boulders are located on a privately owned golf course.  Yes, you have to pay $5 to climb but it beats having the place shutdown and as a added bonus the folks at the club-house (where you park and pay the fee) are super nice.  And of course the climbing is good enough that you'd gladly pay to sample some of the sweet sandstone.

The rock in LRC is generally bullet and the climbing offers something for everyone from beginners to hard-men.   While it is perhaps Chattanooga's largest area it is still pretty small and you could easily see everything in a day (though it will probably take more that a few days to climb everything).  The approach is short and everything is pretty easy to find which is why there was always people climbing there.  Pretty much everything is fun to climb on as the stone has awesome shapes and is skin friendly.  Fortunately for those driven by aesthetics there are also several amazing lines to get worked up about.

We spent 4 of our 8 climbing days in LRC and every day I climbed on awesome problems and met good people.  I just wish the area was a bit larger.  Here are a few pictures and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

Celestial Mechanics was one of my favorite problems from 10 years ago.  It was as good as I remembered.

Super Mario is one of those popular climbs that seems to always have pads under it.  Fun steep climbing with a slew of "choose you own adventure" variations.

Bedwetters is a long steep climb with the crux coming at the end.  This wasn't a problem a was initially drawn to but when you find pads under a problem it can be hard not to partake and I was glad I did.  Here Niko eyeballs the crux hold toward the end of the climb.

Cheech fingering the "good" hold on The White Face.  This rig is a crimp fest and one of the few problems in LRC that will wreck your skin.  After a couple good attempts I decided to save skin for other climbs but I'd like to come back for this one.

Walter gets oh so close on Shiver Me Timbers Direct.  This one is also a little sharp and but is a great line.

This was one of the most beautiful pieces of stone I saw in TN.  Deception is the awesome climb that climbs right up the middle.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Highs and Lows

As my brief time in Tennessee has come to an end I once again begin to reflect on the trip, areas visited and general experiences.  It's also interesting to compare current impressions with those from 10 years ago when a much younger me last visited the area.  Before I get too much into my take on the bouldering I thought I'd list a few highlights and low-lights from the trip.

A few Highlights (in no specific order)

  • Getting hissed at by a opossum.  What a nasty little creature.  Still made my evening to encounter something that is best described as a "giant rat that hangs in a tree".
  • Southern BBQ.  Delicious, what more can I say.
  • Southern Hospitality.  Climbers in general are generous and at times I felt like a bit of a charity case as I surfed coaches, loaned an assortment of gear (tent, stove, pads, guides, sleeping bags, etc...) and hounded folks for beta.  I guess having an adorable 4-year old along tends to soften hearts and we are ever so thankful for all the wonderful folks out there.
  • Southern Accent.  The opportunity to listen to folks talk had me looking forward to even the most mundane encounters.  "Would ya like paper or plastic?"  Oh, I don't know. Can you ask me again?  And even in the rare cases when someone was being condescending it still sounded so sweet that I couldn't even get irritated but would simply respond with a goofy smile.
  • Climbing.  More on that later
A few Low-Lights (also no specific order)

  • Mexican Food.  I knew mexican food in TN would be bad but I didn't know the extent of it.  Maybe I just found the worst restaurant possible but it's safe to say I won't be eating any more tacos until I return to the Southwest.  
  • Weather.  We actually had quite a few good days but no trip to the South is complete without being chased away by rain.
  • Pay to Play.  It seems that many of the areas in the South require a user fee.  Don't get me wrong, I think it is awesome that climbers have good relations with landowners and a small fee can be appropriate but $5 a day starts to add up.  
  • Poison Oak.  For some reason I was under the impression that I didn't need to be on the lookout for poisonous plants this time of year.  Well apparently the don't lose potency after a freeze and it is a hard learned lesson.
  • Vomiting.  Don't think this one needs much clarification as being sick on a climbing trip just sucks.  My girls definitely got the worst of it.  
So that's just a few things that stuck out from the trip and I'll be posting more about the climbing soon.  

Poison Oak sucks.  The spot on my back is the worst but legs arms and stomach weren't spared from itchy torment either.  I've found it hard to sleep with all the burning and itching, but fortunately it should go away in a couple weeks.

Chris knows the importance of hydration.  Maybe that's why he was the only one from our group of 4 to not lose his lunch.

When not hindered by rain or sickness there was a good deal of climbing.  More on that soon