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Traveling, living, loving, exploring and trying to make some semblance of sense out of this crazy world.  


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Eternal Sunshine

Simon Moore, setting out on "Internal Dialogue", a Mike Gray original. To the right, Phee Lafroy gets ready for some top-rope fun on a Ryan Lee Eubank moderate, "A Roll of the Dice", with Lori Wilkins on belay.

Great day out with my beautiful wife and some hard-climbing youngsters.

Pheobes and Lori get in one last order from Dr. Taco.

Simon ends the day on "Fire on the Mountain", as twilight falls over the crag.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Support Climbing Access- Just Say "NO" to the Access Fund

Please take a moment to donate to the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition.

In fact, I recommend that you send them your annual Access Fund dues.

Then, when you get your friendly, annual AF reminder of payment due, just pull out the "NO Postage Required If Mailed in the United States" envelope inside, politely explain in a short note that you have invested in someone who is actually working to preserve access, sign it and drop it in the mailbox.

Just Say "NO" to sell-out, corporate-friendly advocacy.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Access Fund, Where the F*ck are YOU?

Does anyone besides me find it very, very interesting that the Access Fund hasn't sponsored dozens of ads with climbing celebrities in an effort to derail this bill?

In fact, I haven't heard of a single climbing celebrity speaking out on this- nothing from Bobbi Bensman, Beth Rodden, Tommy Caldwell, Robyn Erbesfield, Alison Osius, Mike Pont, Boone Speed, Conrad "Climate Change" Anker, or any of the dozens of other well-known climbers who have put their faces in ads and promotions for the Access Fund, many of whom have also climbed and competed in Queen Creek and the Bouldering Competitions.

Not a peep from the two most powerful names in climbing, Lynn Hill and Chris Sharma.

And yet no one else seems to find this peculiar.  No one is calling the Access Fund out on their silence and absence of action.

I'm calling on Brady Robinson, Joe Sambataro and the rest of the AF-

You have allowed a cretin and his employees to endanger and ruin access here in the Panhandle of WV, letting him remain in place as your Regional Access Coordinator when he has indicated no interest in coordinating anything more complex than a bowel movement, much less sustaining local access.

If you haven't been bought off by Rio Tinto, if your really are more than just a glorified Facebook page and social club for dog owners who climb, then you need to get into the fight in Arizona. Curt is a good man, and Manuel R is another, but they are vastly outgunned and outnumbered, and you know it....

Just as you've known it for the decade you have been handling this fight with kid gloves.

You won't fight to stop the President and Congress from giving away climbing... why are climbers, your members, supposed to believe you will make any further effort on their behalf in any other fight, anywhere else?

Just how much did you get paid?

Prove the truth, one way or another; put up or shut up, and get ready for me to start sharing emails that I know you don't want your members to see, regarding our little situation here in the East.

Your continued silence will be taken as an admission of guilt.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Saving Oak Flat, the Petition

So, now that the Flat and much of Apache Leap and Devils Canyon has been given to foreign miners who supply peaceful nations like Iran with parts for their reactors, we will go hat in hand to the distinguished gentleman on Pennsylvania Avenue, who tried to whitewash (so to speak) his treachery by giving Bristol Bay protection

(after watching Keystone slide right through Congress like a Happy Meal and then personally going to the Hill to whip the Spending Bill through when Democrats reacted to the level of pork and unrelated riders in a defense bill)

who just denied Washington, D.C. voters the legalization they demanded, but de-funded the DEA's ability to raid pharmacies or arrest patients

(Which pretty much continues the war on those folks who are marching outside his windows demanding justice and respect from the police.)

No matter what the advocates tell you is a victory, don't suck up crumbs and call it a feast, kids... that's how we, your older peers, let this whole mess slide too far over the edge in the first place, 'k?

Here, however, is the link to the petition.

Stop the Apache Land Grab

Sign it, share it.

Speak out, even if you don't believe in the system.

Make it known that you stood with the planet and the people, not the corporations and their sell-out politicians.

Monday, December 15, 2014


Does anyone else find it ironic that the first black President proved that he can and will break treaties with the Indians just as well as any of his white predecessors...

... while thousands of his people march in the streets, demanding respect and fair treatment?


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Hats off to John Sherman

I'd like to invite everyone who so admires the poster of John Sherman hanging one-handed from a cliff with beer in hand to remember that he sold out to the people who just stole Apache Leap and Queen Creek, ancestral lands for the local Native American tribes, a summer haven from the heat for the residents of the town of Superior, and a world-class climbing and hiking destination.

I'd like to remind those of you who still worship old John that his capitulation and the collusion of several other prominent climbers was used by Resolution to divide and conquer the climbing community and to misrepresent climbers' support of the land swap and mining practices. 

So: a toast! Hats off to shops that suck up to celebrity without truly knowing the history of those iconic figures- it's great that you make your ignorance so obvious, and clearly define yourselves as putting industry over humans or the environment.

Special recognition to the Arizona climbers who used this opportunity to grind 20-yr-old axes and never once got a single one of themselves arrested or had their pic on the front page of the newspaper for demonstrating, inconveniencing the mine and/or shutting down production in any of the ways we used to- oh, say- end the Viet Nam war, save the rain forests and alter the global perceptions of climate change.

Oh, that's right... you all wrote a check, went to a meeting and signed a petition.  

Your work was obviously done.

Never mind.

So hats off to John Sherman! An idealist who said that sport climbing was neither and then sold out to a foreign-owned mining company with ties to Iran and China for the chance to fund his development of sport climbing. 

A pragmatist, who sold out his fellow climbers and sacrificed a cultural heritage he doesn't share in a state where he did not live to make a dollar.

edited for typo, clarity and post-script:

Climbers, we have surrendered.

Surrendered to bureaucracy and to the bandwagon, to going along to get along.

Surrendered to a credo of rationalization instead of action.

We let the advocates who sell out to corporations convince us that, against all the lessons and examples of history, the best course to change is one without confrontation.  

No calls to peaceful sit-ins or mass acts of non-violent protest from the members of advocacy groups that sell themselves on their strength in numbers but fail to carry out the simplest of rallying activities to support their causes.

(Or did I miss the busloads of climbers being shipped from cities across america to rally for Queen Creek?  Were we too busy preparing for the massive carbon-footprint-in-the-making that is Bozeman and the hypocritical media frenzy of Ouray?)

No posts about either the fight for or the loss of this land on 99% of the climbing websites I've browsed over the last week... including those here in West Virginia, where the mountains to our west are being blasted flat for coal, while conservation groups blockade wind farms and the fracking rigs slowly creep across the Allegheny Front, pushing toward Seneca Rocks, Nelson, Champe, Judy Gap, and Smoke Hole Canyon.

But not a word on the local climbing sites, from the local guides or among regional AF folk.

Denial, anyone?

Yes, I am judgmental and harsh and perhaps a touch vindictive- I don't know how many decades you need to lose your glossy shine of oblivion and start to see that we are losing the war for our own lands? 

For me, the answer was about two... I started fighting this fight when I was in my twenties, paused for a bit into my thirties, discovered the lands we have just lost, fell in love with them as deeply as my own green eastern forests and have been in it one way or another ever since.

If we bury our heads in the sand, if we worship celebrities for who they were, without holding them responsible for the positions they've taken and for the inevitable results of their actions, are we just as guilty?  How do Joe Kinder's gardening of two saplings in a crack look when compared to the global environmental impact of another massive mine, whose wholesale destruction of not only recreational opportunities and historical geography but sacred cultural lands of the Native population has been tacitly accepted by a climbing icon, in return for a paycheck?

Where are the editorials and rallying cries from Rock and Ice, Climbing, DPM, or Alpinist?

If we allow those who should be leading and coordinating to instead blockade progress and create more issues than they solve, if we think only in terms of the Pollyanna dogma pushed on us by the vendors, and blindly obey advocates who have never, truly, had our best interests at heart, we will lose Seneca, and the North Fork, Champe, Judy, Nelson, and much of the Blue Ridge. 

Can't happen?

I heard the same thing when I lived in Arizona, in the late 90s and into the new millennium.

Prophecy is a tricky thing, but the worst case scenario seems to come to fruition far more often than the best possible outcome. What happens when, not if, but when Corridor H opens and Route 33 dies away as routine maintenance and cash-carrying traffic goes over the mountains somewhere else, while Seneca and the gas rigs vanish from the public mind and eye?  

Are you willing to bet that the budget-strapped Department of Agriculture and the impoverished Monongahela National Forest will choose users who create impact while paying nothing to the system over corporations and lobbyists waving around amounts in the millions?

I wouldn't bet the farm on another decade of life as it has always been, in Germany Valley, Smoke Hole, or anywhere in the MNF.

If Congress and the President can give away lands that are layered with history, cornerstones of the local ecology, economy, and Native cultures thousands of years old, what makes you think they cannot and will not crave their way through West Virginia, just as they did with the gas lines, PATH and Corridor H? 

What is to stop them from carving their way into the Blue Ridge, across the Skyline Drive, and on to whatever gas-bearing layers they can find, where ever they may find them?

The time for denial, and for blind obedience or worship, is over.

Time to grow up and join the fight, or admit that you are part of the problem, not the solution.

Thank you to Curt Shannon, Manuel Rangel, and all the other fightin' climbers of this country, inside and out of the Access Fund, who truly did give it their best. You have only failed when you fail to try, and there is no shame for those who fought. 

I know you will never truly surrender.

I only wish I could have done so much more.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Two Weeks in the Life of a Working Class Ronin: a visual tour

It begins here; the slow light of dawn, creeping in through the cold, prying sleep out of your eyes and bringing the need for coffee.

Our mailing division, in temporary quarters while we moved, again.  Miss Cindy, in motion.

Consulting with the Skipper...

This kind of fine craftsmanship with caulk (to cover up the fact that you don't know how to build either a sill or a louver) later inspired the Skipper to the delusion that he was a carpenter and woodworker.

That delusion led him to strap a piece of bookshelf bracketing to either side of the truss, connect it with a turnbuckle, and pronounce that a "center brace".

Proof that Iowans did in fact interbreed with tumbleweeds,
and that a month of painstaking effort by two craftsmen to create a thing of lasting beauty can be undone in a matter of minutes by a clueless hack with a screw gun, a pair of sheet metal cutters, and an IQ of 84.

An example of the Skipper's fine sawyer work.  Note the ripped end grain of the beam above, the one that has no pegs in it. Real professional grade work, there.

Because our clueless leader could not find one of the most common bases on the market, Mike fisher enjoys placing four pads with 16 screws on each beam.
Way to speed production, Skippy.

"Right... ahhh... since you are the carpenters, why shouldn't you clean up the roofer's mess and move the masonry supplies out of the mud to get the crane into place?"

"Whaddaya mean they had two weeks to clean the area... you're here, aren't ya?"

"Look, I brought you almost five dollars worth of crap from McD's as a bribe... like you would a dog you were training."

What do you mean you won't do it cheerfully for a bone tossed your way?  Geesh... workers nowadays aren't thankful enough for their jobs!"

Did someone say "bone"?

Despite the worst efforts of far too many stupid people, the finished product, in place, courtesy of the Punishers.

Belated Congratualtions

After 21 days of effort over the course of three months, Mike Farnsworth finally sent his 5.13+ project at Smoke Hole Canyon's Darkside Wall on the weekend of November 8th, 2014. He called the route Cartography of Spirit.

The line, a second variation ending to The Lightness, climbs the center of the wall, working heel hooks, smears and micro-edges through a series of desperate throws between underclings and marginal side-pulls, past several roofs. 

Farnsworth, who has more than one hideous crankfest to his credit, called it "the best and hardest line I've ever done in my life".

Rumor has it that Matt Behrens is geared up for the second ascent.

Farnsworth, Behrens and a handful of other hard climbers from across the East Coast have all taken shots and and falls on the other suspected 13+ in the area, Reed Creek's Cold Day in Hell. That line was bolted by Ryan Eubank in the winter of 2009.  The crux, a long, no-feet reach between a three-finger hole and a mono never went free, and Eubank  installed ring anchors at mid-height to create the three-bolt 5.12 Napoleon Complex from the bottom of the project.

To date, there has been no first ascent of Cold Day in Hell.

The Renovator, trying to decide whether being able to feel his fingers would be a good or bad thing, on an early TR attempt of Cold Day in Hell.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Along with the Weather

Tomorrow, along with the inclement weather that will cloud most of the eastern seaboard, some of you should receive what we hope will be a ray of sunshine...

Thanks to the diligent efforts of our hard-working mailing department at Owlfeather Productions, the next batch of guides and T-shirts went out on Monday morning, as soon as the post office opened in Petersburg, West Virginia.

Soon, a new generation of explorers will be shredding the crags of Smoke Hole and Reed's Creek, like these folks;

Corey McKenzie above the bouldery start of Reaching Conclusions, Reed's Creek

The Usual Suspects, aka, the Adrenaline Crew.

...the big one on the left end hugged me...

Cindy warming up on Second Rule, with John Riedel 

Michael Fisher, rollin' coal through the first ascent of his steep, technical line La Machina, Reed's Creek

Look for them in the mail beginning tomorrow!