• married people

    Minivan Adventures With Married People

    Sep 26 • Uncategorized • 745 Views

    It was a sign of the times, a turning of the page, a shift in aesthetics for these two climbers. No, we weren’t off to the Himalaya or a new route on the edges of civilization – Dave and I were pushing the limits of our 15-year friendship by getting into a minivan together and heading west to Reno – with his wife.

    by Luke Mehall, publisher of the Zine, and author of American Climber

    Dave and I are like peanut butter and jelly; we go well together. His demeanor is calm and cool; I’m often hyper and passionate. We have the ability to not only survive a 2,000-foot wall together and still be friends, but also survive a long car ride. We don’t argue about who smells the worst, what kind of music to play or what fast food restaurant we’ll resort to when the times get tough (In-N-Out Burger).

    Dave’s wife, Brittney, on the other hand, is like me: occupied with an internal restlessness. We were roommates for two years and had more than one heated argument, but I can’t remember what we fought about. We’re good buddies now. This was during the same time period these two fell in love. Dave would couch surf in between guiding gigs and would always surprise me with a newfound interest in five a.m. runs, crunch workouts and green smoothies. I just thought he wanted to be more fit, but what he wanted was Brittney.

    All sorts of my college friends have these stories of how they got together, drawn out over many years of friendship, before finally falling in love. That’s the reason we’re in the minivan on our way to Reno: Brittney’s sister Amber is marrying our good friend Phil, and they asked me to be the officiant. It will be my second time this year doing something I never thought I’d do once. If you would have told me I’d be an ordained minister in the state of Nevada by the end of the year, I would have responded with speechlessness.

    The minivan is from 2004 but it seems futuristic since the newest car I’ve ever owned is a 2000 Subaru Outback. There’s even a DVD player.

    “So, like, we could be driving and watch ‘Seinfeld?’” I asked excitedly.

    I immediately go into a fantasy of buying one so I can sit in there with a special ladyfriend and watch “Seinfeld” or “Dave Chappelle” on a cold night in Indian Creek. That sounds like heaven.

    We start to get into a rhythm after the first In-N-Out Burger, and I realize I’m being used as a card in Dave’s dietary requirements. See, Dave is a voracious carnivore and Brittney is a vegetarian. He likes burgers, she likes kale. With myself, a carnivore as well, in the car, it’s 2 to 1, meat eaters victorious. We get double doubles while Brittney eats milkshakes and fries. And we also eat milkshakes and fries.

    We examine America from the vantage point of a minivan. In interstate traffic we count way too many people texting and driving and question the sanity of five-lane highways. From the land of the Mormons, we cross into the land of sinners – neon lights with promises of … something. I’ve never been sure what.

    Utah’s Mormon dominance and Nevada’s acceptance of sinners have always been an interesting intersection. Both make me a little nauseous and long for the mountains of Colorado. Somewhere on Highway 50, so-called the “loneliest road in America,” is the strangest and saddest part of the West.

    In Nevada, we go into a grocery store and an employee asks me if I’m a Burner.

    “Well, on the weekends,” I reply, and then I realize she’s talking about Burning Man. “No, we’re on our way to a wedding” I tell her and see a hint of disappointment in her eyes. Just a crew of boring people in a minivan.

    Dave puts in a marathon shift of driving. He’s in the zone. I read David Sedaris and imagine, if he can make it, I can make it, too. I DJ up new music that Dave and Brittney have yet to hear: the new Beyoncé. Brittney decides she doesn’t like it. “What happened to the little, innocent, charming Bey? She’s all angry now. Could you imagine the guy who wrote ‘Big Pimpin’ cheated on her?” Dave bobs his head along with the new Chance the Rapper mixtape, and I try to catch him up on all the news that’s happened in the world of hip-hop since we took our last road trip two years ago.

    Once in Reno, we collapse into the pre-wedding insanity of Amber and Phil’s apartment. Dave, ever the genius, suggests we kidnap Phil for a 1,000 foot “bachelor party” climb in the Sierras. Phil hasn’t climbed much in the last decade, but Dave still believes in his future brother-in-law.

    The minivan becomes the manvan, and the three of us explode into its confines. Hard to believe a perfect alpine paradise exists a few hours from Reno, but it does. In-N-Out Burger stop No. 2 starts out this bachelor party climb of “The Hulk,” one of the biggest granite walls in the High Sierra. In addition to the climb, the day included but was not limited to: road sodas; an endorsement of the party from Alex Honnold, whom we ran into on the hike in; me basically crying because it was so cold; drinking from alpine streams; finding a Hulk-themed Pez dispenser in the summit register; getting lost; and finally, at 1 in the morning, In-N-Out Burger stop No. 3. Yes, I’ll have a milkshake, too. Please.

    By the time In-N-Out Burger stop No. 4 happens, we’re homeward bound. We find ourselves contemplating covered-wagon travel, mostly because we stopped for some climbing on Donner Pass. It was here that the Donner Party spent their epic winter, which ultimately led to well … much worse than In-N-Out Burger.

    By now, we are jonesing to be back in Colorado but try not to lament the next day and a half of driving. That would have been a lot of days in a covered wagon. We discover a hot springs near Wells, Nev., which also serves as a sleeping spot. In the morning, we have a quick soak for our weary bones and make the last push to Ridgway – with the grand finale of a Subaru solo adventure over Red Mountain, Molas and Coal Bank into the midnighthour, back home into the arms of a sleepy Durango.

    Please consider subscribing to The Climbing Zine. It’s $17.99 a year for two issues, and this greatly helps us produce free web content like this. Check out the FREE preview

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    About us: The Climbing Zine was started in 2010 by Al Smith III and Luke Mehall. It continues to the day with the mission of representing the true essence of climbing. Our crown jewel is our printed version, but we also do the interweb thing, and Kindle

    We have also published three books: American ClimberThe Great American Dirtbags and Climbing Out of Bed, both written by publisher, Luke Mehall. 

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    American Climber Fall Book Tour

    Sep 21 • Dirtbagging • 338 Views

    Co-founder and publisher of The Climbing Zine, Luke Mehall will be embarking on a fall tour for “American Climber” starting this week in Denver, and going through November to Fayetteville, West Virginia.

    Christopher, dude you're stepping on my rope

    Christopher, dude you’re stepping on my rope

    Here’s a look at the schedule:

    Thursday September 22nd, Rab store in Denver, Colorado. 6:00 p.m. 

    Thursday September 29th, Jagged Edge Mountain Gear in Telluride, Colorado. 7:30 p.m. 

    Early October (TBA): Climbing Zine Volume 9 release party hosted by Maria’s Bookshop and Backcountry Experience, Durango, Colorado  

    Wednesday October 12th Bent Gate Mountaineering, Golden, Colorado 6:00 p.m. 

    Tuesday October 18th, Western State Colorado University, Official release of “Graduating From College Me” Mehall’s latest collection of short stories and poetry. Gunnison, Colorado. 6:30 p.m. 

    Thursday November 10th, The Crash Pad, Chattanooga, Tennessee 

    Thursday November 17th, Water Stone Outdoors, Fayetteville, West Virginia

    Read more about American Climber

    Jeck dogg

    Subscribe to The Climbing Zine.

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    Thoughts on the Passing of Scott Adamson, an extraordinary human by Drew Thayer

    Sep 12 • Locations • 515 Views

    Scott Adamson and Kyle Dempster no longer walk among us in this life. They died in Pakistan some time in the last two weeks, attempting to climb one of the great mountaineering challenges of this generation, the north face of the Ogre II. The Ogres are formidable mountains, and even to gain entry to the ‘easier’ routes on that massif one must be numbered amongst the world’s elite. These guys were the real deal: strong, well trained, experienced, and committed. And now they are gone.

    by Drew Thayer, Senior Contributor 

    As always happens in the aftermath of death, many people are left with questions and introspection. Scott and Kyle were well loved and integral members of the Salt Lake City and Utah climbing community. I never met Kyle, however I shared some special times in the desert with Scott and always considered him one of my mentors. I should say I still CONSIDER him my mentor, because today I got my ass out of bed and drove over to the gym and did a workout, with proper integrity, because that’s what Scott would do, and want me to do.

    Scott hucking inverted laps in the Crack House, near Moab, Utah. Photo: Courtesty of Drew Thayer

    Scott hucking inverted laps in the Crack House, near Moab, Utah. Photo: Courtesty of Drew Thayer

    We shared some great adventures in the desert, like the time we were camped at the Creek and it dumped rain all night, one of those intense fall rains. Scott didn’t hesitate to wade out into the swollen river in his skivvies and check the depth, then proceeded to ford it in his truck as muddy water seeped around the doors and up through the floor. Needless to say, 12 hours later his alternator died…sending us on a midnight run through the star-studded desert canyons.

    There was another time on a Zion wall when we arrived at a gaping offwidth that none of our gear would fit. It was my lead so I started up, but quickly got mired in hesitation as I assessed the obvious ledge-fall I would take if I fell. “Gimme the rack,” he said. Scott just took the gear and sent the thing without gear, executing with perfect form.

    Another time that comes to mind is on the infamous ‘Ear’ pitch on Primrose Dihedral on Moses, one of the tallest towers in the desert. Scott fell while transitioning from an awkward sloped undercling to a lieback around the Ear. I expected him to pull back to the bolt. “Man, what is this? Hanging on towers? Lower me!”

    Surprised, I lowered him to the anchor, he pulled the rope without saying a word and then fired the pitch. I heard him hooting from the summit and realized what a guy I was climbing with.  Whenever things got burly, Scott’s answer was “Yarrrr!”

    Scott is a mentor for me not because of his climbing skill, but for the way he WORKED. His talent in the vertical world may have been natural, but his strength and tenacity were hard-earned though sweat and effort. Scott truly believed that he could realize extremely long-shot goals, and make himself a better person in the process, by devoting tremendous energy and heart to the betterment of himself. He trained really hard, and often while working in the construction trade, or as a wildland firefighter. He was a true blue-collar badass, proof that you don’t need a fancy gym, money, or status to be a successful athlete, all you need is tons and tons of heart. He loved it. All of it, from the truck bivies to the daily pain fests to the cold belays and suffering to the satisfaction of sending hard, mentally demanding pitches. And he did it all without apology, refusing to shoulder the burden of other people’s judgment like so many of us do. Beyond his strength and stamina, he had a rock-solid sense of himself, and you could take it or leave it. He didn’t bother bullshitting anybody – he had no need to, because he knew who he was.

    Scott set an example for me by his two main strengths: heart and discipline. He is an example for how hard he was willing to work, and how he refused to let fear cripple him once he committed to seeking the limits of what is possible. He knew as well as anybody that when you really are searching for that limit — the boundary of what a human can do — truly terrifying things can be found. This is what Scott and Kyle were doing in the Karakorum: striving to find the limit of human will that exists somewhere in the sharp horizons of mountains and within the vast and shifting spaces of our minds.

    I fall short of these strengths on a daily basis. I continually fail to believe in my abilities to improve myself; I fail to trust the process of hard work; I fail to find the motivation to engage in work with heart. I forget the successes of my past in the face of fear and pain. I yield to my comfort-seeking mind, again and again. Sometimes, however, I am able to believe, to act with strength, and to trust in forces larger than myself. These are the finer moments of my life, the defining truths that allow me to say: I am a person. I have a will. I am worthy.

    I’m thinking mainly of climbing and athletic feats as I write this (and many of you may identify with this as well), but as I take a mental step back I realize that, of course, this applies to every dimension of life. Whether it’s doing the rehab for my hip surgery with integrity, working on core stability instead of fun climbing so I can avoid injury, finishing grad school, sticking to my budget so I can pay my credit card on time, maintaining oil changes on my rig, keeping up with job applications even though I get denials back, wiring a house well so it will be safe and last for the owner, or continuing to support my fiancé so she knows she is loved and special, these are all struggles that require heart and discipline.

    People like me (and maybe some of you) need people like Scott. We need people who know, down to core, who they are, and let you take it or leave it. We need examples of drive and sacrifice to aspire to.  It can be the smallest thing, like an evening after a long day when I feel overwhelmed and just want to eat cereal and watch a TV show. These are just crutches to assuage my mind, which want to be coddled. Sometimes I think, what would Scott be doing? He’d tell me to eat real nutrition so I can gain strength from the day’s labors, and to do a few planks or physical therapy exercises before I relax, and I’ll relax better after that anyway. I know he’d be right. This is just one small way that Scott will continue to live in my life, and I’m sure he lives in more vibrant ways in a lot of other people’s lives.

    Sadly, whenever young people die and the circumstances involve their own decision (as opposed to be taken out by a drunk driver, etc), there will always be bystanders, particularly on the forum of the internet where courage is not a requisite for speech, who will criticize the dead for being reckless or selfish. I guess I’ve been around long enough now to refrain from reading the comments below articles.

    I would say to these people: yes, Scott and Kyle put themselves at risk, tremendous risk. At this high standard of mountaineering, there is some certain probability of no return. Is that unconscionable? Is that selfish? Answer me this: we all have a 100% probability of dying; it is perhaps the one fact that is absolutely certain. What are you doing with the days you have? Are you applying yourself as much as you know you can? Are you living with heart and discipline? Are you doing anything that will grow beyond your self and live in others?

    The death of younger people always starts this conversation about acceptable risk. There’s another conversation that I almost never hear: about the risk of so many choices that people make that don’t seem as ‘risky’ or ‘extreme’ at first glance. Like people that choose to smoke, or drink heavily, or to not take care of their bodies. People who don’t do the work to find and keep motivation. People who don’t honor their word. Depression is very unhealthy; I know this from experience. I guarantee you that all these people (and I may be amongst them) will die earlier than they may have, yet they are usually not called out publicly as being ‘reckless’.

    I’m not going to call out these people either. Who am I to do that? I’m merely going to question our societal norm that we put longevity – the numbers of a person’s life – on such a pedestal above other things. Perhaps we can look at the quality of the life that has been lived, and that can speak for itself.

    I will dearly miss Scott. I am sincerely grateful for his life, what he has given me and what he has given many people. His example for me does not diminish by the fact that he died. It will always burn inside me. How can I repay that gratitude? By living with integrity, believing in the process of work, and taking on my own challenges with heart and discipline. I already know that I’m going to fail at one million of these challenges. But I can perhaps succeed at a few more because I have examples like Scott.

    Someone wrote on Scott’s Facebook page:

    “They didn’t die doing what they loved, they LIVED doing what they loved.”

    Word.

    Or was Scott would say, “NWS”.

    Note:

    There has been an outpouring of love and community support after Scott and Kyle’s disappearance. It’s always good to be reminded that community exists and we are stronger together. Some links:

    A well-written article by Andrew Bisharat at National Geographic, summarizing their climb, the storm, and the rescue effort.

    Memories of Scott for his friends and family. Please share if you have them!

    A tribute from the Alpinist by Derek Franz that expands on the talent, drive, and genuine good nature of Scott and Kyle.

    Drew Thayer is a based out of Denver, Colorado. He cannot contain his fascination for the physical and mental journeys we travel in the vertical world. He explores these pursuits through climbing and writing and remains committed to pursuing type-two fun on objectives that seem a little too big. He records musings and images of his ventures at www.carrotsandpb.blogspot.com.

    Please consider subscribing to The Climbing Zine. It’s $17.99 a year for two issues, and this greatly helps us produce free web content like this. Check out the FREE preview

    zine_cover7 (4)

    About us: The Climbing Zine was started in 2010 by Al Smith III and Luke Mehall. It continues to the day with the mission of representing the true essence of climbing. Our crown jewel is our printed version, but we also do the interweb thing, and Kindle

    We have also published three books: American ClimberThe Great American Dirtbags and Climbing Out of Bed, both written by publisher, Luke Mehall. 

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  • Dave Marinowski in Indian Creek. Photo: Drew Ludwig

    Hope In The Desert (an excerpt from American Climber by Luke Mehall)

    Sep 9 • Locations • 352 Views

    Then, when all seemed like peace had been restored to my existence, 9/11 happened. I was out on a morning jog, something I’d added to my climbing training, and I was listening to the radio on my Walkman. The song on the radio was interrupted: the United States had been attacked, and the first World Trade Center had fallen. I went into the grocery store and ran into a friend. “We’re going to war,” he said.

    by Luke Mehall, an excerpt from his memoir American Climber

    Banner photo of Dave Marcinowski by Drew Ludwig

    I gathered with all the other college kids in the student union. Everyone was shocked, and there was a major sense of confusion. Sadness was all about. I had lunch with a friend at The Firebrand; we talked about how we were going to war. I thought society was going to shut down, and, after lunch, I went to the grocery store and absurdly spent the remaining twenty dollars I had on ramen noodles. At work, we watched the TV coverage, and spoke to one another with the kind of care humans do after this sort of tragedy. That night, I drank beer with friends, and I fell asleep on someone’s floor.

    AmericanClimber_Cover (1)

    September 11th stunned America, and, in our remote mountain refuge of Gunnison, we felt it too. Of course, society did not shut down, and my feeling that it was going to shut down showed me how little I truly knew about the world and how it functioned. Our leader at the time, George W. Bush, didn’t seem to understand the workings of the world either, showing this by his inarticulate language and flexing of the military muscle in regions that had nothing to do with 9/11, while he lied and staked his case for war and set a course that I was saddened and confused by. With all of that going on, I was still determined not to sink into depression and to follow this new path. I’d already set sail on a new journey, and nothing short of death would stop it.

    This world of machinery and war, it’s all too much, isn’t it? If there is a God who created us and is watching over us, God surely did not give us this life to fight so much, right? If I were still in Illinois, I know I would have sunk deeper into a darkness, given the coming war, but I had seen the light already, and the light came from the sun, and, if you were in the right place (nature) at the right time (sunrise or sunset), well, there was a certain beauty to it that made you believe. Believe in what? Hope.

    And where do you find hope? Bob Dylan asked us that a long time ago in his epic poem “Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie.” His answer, his hope, in the poetic way only Dylan can communicate, was in Woody Guthrie, as he lay dying in the Brooklyn State Hospital, and it was in the Grand Canyon at sundown. My hope was in the sunrise at Hartmans, as it awakened me every morning. It was in Yosemite, a place I truly regarded as a Promised Land that could save the lost soul. Hope was also in the red rock desert of the Colorado Plateau. Moab. Hope was in the desert.

    We called it the desert when, in reality, Gunnison and my home at Hartmans was its own desert, a sagebrush-foothills sort of desert, but when you’re talking time and place, the time being the early 2000s and the place being the Moab desert, THE is where the emphasis is, because, when compared to any other desert for climbing, in the United States there is only truly one that stands supreme.

    I’d had my first trip to the desert in 1999 over Thanksgiving. Caleb had invited me there and had given me some basic directions. I spent my first night cold, sleeping in my car at a quiet, frozen campground along the river. In the morning, I drove more into the canyon, and found a small dirt pullout where I would meet Caleb and his friends. When I hiked up to the wall, I noticed a climber seventy feet up a perfect crack, untethered from a rope. Not wanting to break his concentration, I quietly hiked past him. My naïve mind figured that was something normal, free soloing desert cracks.

    When I found Caleb and the crew, I did the thing that I always do—I tied into the rope and tried a climb. Crack climbing is a masochistic art, and I fumbled and fought to learn how to insert my fingers, my hands, and my feet into the crack. Figuring this out was the hardest thing in the world, and, when I looked around at the others who had practiced and mastered this art, I was 100 percent sure I would never reach that level of technique and athleticism.

    Mehall, the chuffer in 1999.

    Mehall, the chuffer in 1999.

    I arrived at the wall with my very basic climbing set up. I wore sweatpants and had a harness, a belay device, climbing shoes, and a fifty-meter rope. The innocence and lack of knowledge about climbing was oozing from my pores, mostly the sweatpants, and the gawking coming from my face. I knew what to do though—offer someone a belay, and later I would have a toprope set up.

    One of the guys in the crew, who was British, wanted a belay; climbing is perhaps the best way to make a genuine connection with someone from another country. So I belayed. The climb was Fingers In A Light Socket, a finger crack, which finished at some desperate face moves, sixty feet up, and it’s one of the only climbs at the buttress you could actually use a fifty-meter rope on. He got to the crux, the difficult face moves, and hung on a cam. Eventually he figured out the moves, and, after a couple more hangs, he set up a toprope.

    It was my turn to climb, but, just before I was about to tie in, the free solo guy emerged out of nowhere. He seemed high on adrenaline and wanted another fix.

    He eyed our climb, and, after confirming we didn’t mind that he tried it, he climbed up, untethered to anything in this life, with only the tips of his fingers in the crack and the tips of rubber from his climbing shoes inserted into the wall.

    Indian Creek is a crazy place, I thought to myself as I watched the madman climb alongside my blue rope, which was barely wavering from side to side in the light breeze.

    He was fine for the first forty feet, and then he started to look shaky. Oh my fucking God, am I going to watch a guy fall to his death during my first hour at Indian Creek? I wondered.

    My new British friend looked at me, not wanting to say anything but gravely concerned. Then, like it’s nothing, he gave up his free solo attempt, grabbed on to my rope, and then climbed down it, back to our perch on the ground. He mumbled something about how hard it was, and then disappeared into the day. Fifteen years later, as I write this, I’ve yet to see another person free solo in Indian Creek.

    That next day there were some climbers, obviously Creek veterans, who were establishing a new route. I didn’t even really notice what was going on until they reached the top of the crack, and there were no anchors. So, they hauled up a power drill and swiftly drilled two holes, and then hammered expansion bolts into the wall. Most of the climbs I’d done had the same anchors, but this was the first time I’d witnessed a new route go up. Whoever said there’s nothing new under the sun was not a climber. For the rest of my life, I know there will always be new routes; you just have to know where to look. In the late 1990s there was more low-hanging fruit out in the Colorado Plateau than there is now, but the fruit is still ripe for the picking.

    Flash forward a couple years, and we were just getting the taste for a desert fix.

    I’d figured out the techniques, the basics, and spent plenty of time paying my dues, jamming every type and size of crack I could find. The adrenaline and endorphins that desert climbing creates is addicting, so much that we found ourselves returning as often as possible, striking while the iron was hot, and the nights were cool.

    Tim was the ropegun, the energy I attached my climbing hopes and dreams to. He was a force to be reckoned with, and he was always the secret weapon we used as we climbed harder and harder.

    Around this time, Tim became Two Tent Timmy. When I moved into a tent in Gunnison, Tim moved into a tent in Crested Butte, the epic mountain town 30 miles north of Gunny, where he was working at the time. Some friends went to visit him at his new home, a piece of real estate on National Forest land that he staked out by setting his tent up. What he did, that everyone thought was so memorable, was he put a tent inside another tent. The larger outer tent was where he kept his cooking supplies and other gear, and the inside tent was where he slept. Once the words Two Tent Timmy were uttered, it was a nickname for life.

    This was perfect because there was another Tim. We worked together, and he was on the mountain rescue team, and he was interested in climbing. We struck a deal: I would join the rescue team and learn from him and his life-saving compadres, and we would teach him some things about climbing.

    So, one day, Two Tent, Tim (the new Tim) and I were at Supercrack Buttress in Indian Creek, talking about what we were going to do the next day. A climber was eavesdropping, listening in to the process. He said, wisely, “You guys should check out the North Six Shooter.”

    North Six Shooter. Photo: Keith Brett

    North Six Shooter. Photo: Keith Brett

    We inquired. Obviously we knew the formation—it was the most striking tower in all of Indian Creek: a slim crimson pistol that stood all alone, shot four hundred feet in the air and hovered there like a beacon.

    We probably muttered some questions, asking about the crux and the gear, but what I remember most is his convincing statement: “It doesn’t get any better than the North Six Shooter.”

    That night at camp, we looked through the guidebook, scribbled out a topo map of the pitches, and tried to hide our nervousness. Two Tent wasn’t nervous though. He lived for this stuff. It was like, at any time, he was ready to face his fears and try his hardest on the rock. I was usually in the opposite realm, unready to face my fear and hopeful that something would come up, so we could give up and get stoned, go back to the comfort zone. Secretly though, deep inside, I wanted to face my fear with confidence like Two Tent did. I wanted to live freely.

    We drove Tim’s truck toward the mighty North Six Shooter. A few clouds hovered off in the distance, a storm brewing for sure. One of us mentioned cancelling the mission for cragging at the Supercrack Buttress again, but Two Tent’s persistence and vision carried us through the drive to park the truck, and we began hiking up. We totally blew the approach, and it took us two hours instead of one, often hiking on ball bearings, the point on a talus cone where the surface is unsteady, unpredictable, and you feel like you’re going to tumble down to certain injury if you slip.

    Sweaty, already tired, confused, and disoriented, I looked up at the tower. There are only two main routes, and they are so obvious that a grandma with cataracts could point them out. Our intended line, the Lightning Bolt Cracks, shot up, and zigged and zagged back and forth, so divine, and perfectly shaped for the human fingers, hands, and feet, it was crazy to think they’d only first been climbed just after we were born. Since the gear, the camming devices necessary to protect cracks like these, was only invented in 1978, nearly every climb in the desert was done first in our lifetimes. (The ones that were done previous to this were mostly easy or dangerous endeavors, completed by pioneers that led the way to a golden age that is currently riding high.)

    The other line, Liquid Sky, was a brutal overhanging squeeze chimney, even more obvious than the Lightning Bolt Cracks. I’d read about the climb in a magazine, and it had such a daunting reputation that a thousand people look at it, for every one that tries it. The major rumor was that you could become stuck in it, and, if you fell, you would fall so deeply into it, you could die, and they would never be able to retrieve your body. Rumors are rumors though. But I’ve yet to climb that thing, so I can’t confirm or deny.

    Two Tent racked up with our meager selection of gear, though growing by the day. That’s something about climbing—your gear, especially if you’re a dirtbag, is the most expensive of your possessions. When you embark on a climb, you pool up all your gear, and it becomes one communal thing. Two Tent went up with everything and navigated his way through the first crack system, eventually pulling through an overhanging off-width squeeze. Then he slowed down.

    Two Tent was rarely slowed down, and Tim and I noted the rope coming to a halt. We looked at each other and whispered what we were thinking. I was belaying and kept my focus on being ready for Two Tent to fall, and Tim had his eyes on the weather; the clouds were building and building, and he mentioned that a thunderstorm was inevitable.

    It was, and, just as Tim suggested it, thunder started.

    Exposure is a big concept in climbing. Sometimes exposure means two thousand feet of air beneath your climbing shoes; at this particular moment, we were exposed to lightning. The instinct is to get the hell out of there, but I was tethered to Two Tent, holding the rope for his belay, and he was facing a thin, blank section, trying to wiggle in gear, but nothing fit. We yelled back and forth, and he decided to down climb to a chockstone, wedged into the wide crack he’d just passed. The chockstone had some webbing around it, and he clipped a biner to it and lowered down to our perch. Thunder clapped all around, and, finally, it was time to book it.

    We scurried off the hill, slipping and sliding, but making it swiftly back to the truck, while thunder and lightning erupted all around us. Just when we got back to the truck, it really let loose. The heavens were purple, with a hundred flashes of lightning going off at a time, thunder erupting so often, you couldn’t tell what lightning was connected with what thunder. As we drove away, we couldn’t have been happier to be in the truck, and the majestic desert was soon in the rear view mirror as we headed back to Gunnison.

    This piece is an excerpt from Mehall’s memoir, American Climber, available in print and on Kindle. 

    Screen shot 2016-03-23 at 10.01.54 PM

    Please consider subscribing to The Climbing Zine. It’s $17.99 a year for two issues, and this greatly helps us produce free web content like this. Check out the FREE preview

    zine_cover7 (4)

    About us: The Climbing Zine was started in 2010 by Al Smith III and Luke Mehall. It continues to the day with the mission of representing the true essence of climbing. Our crown jewel is our printed version, but we also do the interweb thing, and Kindle

    We have also published three books: American ClimberThe Great American Dirtbags and Climbing Out of Bed, both written by publisher, Luke Mehall. 

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    Time Continuum of Desert Road Tripping by Kevin Volkening

    Sep 1 • Climbing Culture • 446 Views

    The Pinnacle of Technology, as we called her drifted through the endless space, the time continuum that is road tripping. Flakes of snow silently hurtled themselves at the windshield and accumulated on the invisible roadway beyond our high beams, as if the stars of hyperspace were falling out of solution.

    by Kevin “K-Bone” Volkening (note this piece was originally published in Volume 6)

    Kevin with his wife, Marge. Sadly Kevin died in a climbing accident in 2013. We love you and miss you K-Bone!!!

    Kevin with his wife, Marge. Sadly Kevin died in a climbing accident in 2013. We love you and miss you K-Bone!!!

    Banner photo by Mike “The Mayor” Shaw

    The interior of our interstate vessel was a jumbled mess of rushed packing. Canned food, coolers, and cams crowded the cockpit of our Indian Creek destined container. The pungent aroma, unmistakable when one first entered our ship, had faded out of consciousness, leaving only the occasional flicker of light to remind us of its presence. The approaching Thanksgiving fueled my idle brain’s imagination with a grandiose epic analogous to the heartfelt tale of Columbus. However, in my fabrication I was one of four men on board an interstellar ship destined not for The New World, but for a desert world where sheer faces of Wingate sandstone rise hundreds of feet into the air. The fantasy was broken by the approaching flashing hazard lights of a jacked knife semi-truck, just barely visible through the stars falling from solution.

    Seconds combined with hours, which melted into minutes, all the while Pandora continuously provided the soundtrack for our adventure. Somewhere in the fray I had been asked to take the helm but declined due to my current inability to remain awake. Perfectly uncomfortable in the cargo hold, sleep gripped me instantaneously, until the sudden deceleration of the transport on the final approach vector towards Moab stirred me from my dreams.

    We had wasted the previous day in Salt Lake City between an Indian café, a failed trip to The Front, a few hours at a bar waiting for Pat to arrive, and a marathon of “The Office”. By the third episode chronicling idiotic displays of mismanagement by Michael Scott, it was already dark. Life in the darkened world continued without the natural pause of sleep to package the events into a “day” in one’s mind. Thus, by the time our headlights shone onto the natural spring outside of Moab, I don’t think any of us really knew who we were.

    After eternity had come and gone, morning sun illuminated the gargantuan walls of sandstone lining the road, heading south from Moab. The coming day surprised and startled me, as if I believed our vessel had indeed landed on foreign world, devoid of sun. Our southbound trajectory shifted via the magical junction of Canyonlands National Park. As we descended through layers of time, space, and environment our final elevation settled at the base of the Wingate formation. A culmination of geologic process, unknown and remarkable to my naïve brain, created a continuum of laser cut vertical lines.

    Initially these lines were an exciting, occasional site, however as we pressed further toward the Beef Basin Road, the lines became common. Rounding the corner dominated by the most classic line of lines, Supercrack, the excitement that perpetually draws me toward the vertical world returned with vengeance.

    A fraction of a moment later we stood in reverence at the glory that is Indian Creek; a long forgotten land far from the perpetual stress that defines modern life. Hallowed ground, dismissed as a dusty, dirty, deteriorating destination by the dismissive eye, but delightfully defined as a diminutive piece of our planet dominating many lives. The Creek is beyond the realm of elucidation, hovering somewhere between reality and fiction. A fantasy land bound by thousands upon thousands of adventures, more than enough for a thousand lifetimes. And, this mystic land would be our home for the next nine days, before The Pinnacle of Technology would set a northward navigation through the endless space-time continuum that is road tripping.

    Kevin Volkening was a passionate man who had an endless hunger for climbing and adventure. He was killed in a climbing accident in Clark’s Fork, Wyoming in the summer of 2013. This piece was republished from his blog, www.verticallifehorizontalworld.blogspot.com with the blessing of his wife, Marge Volkening. We love you and miss you Kevin.

    Please consider subscribing to The Climbing Zine. It’s $17.99 a year for two issues, and this greatly helps us produce free web content like this. Check out the FREE preview

    zine_cover7 (4)

    About us: The Climbing Zine was started in 2010 by Al Smith III and Luke Mehall. It continues to the day with the mission of representing the true essence of climbing. Our crown jewel is our printed version, but we also do the interweb thing, and Kindle

    We have also published three books: American ClimberThe Great American Dirtbags and Climbing Out of Bed, both written by publisher, Luke Mehall. 

     

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  • jerid humping

    A Tribute To The Gumby

    Aug 31 • Locations • 462 Views

    We sometimes treat them like the lowest of the low — like a new recruit in boot camp in the Army or something — but sometimes “The Gumby” aka a new climber can teach us the most important lessons in climbing.

    by Luke Mehall, publisher of The Climbing Zine 

    It happened to me the other day — I was at a crowded crag in California and getting a little bummed out. I’m one of those spoiled Western Slope of Colorado climbers, where we have so much rock and comparatively so little climbers that we never really have to deal with crowds if we don’t want to, thus I’m not accustomed to it.

    So there I was, bummed that every crack climb had someone on it, or a line, and people are queuing up all over the place and ropes are everywhere and “off-belays, on-belays” and I finally find a climb without someone on it so I rack up.

    And then here he comes: the new climber. I could see the smile from a hundred yards and hear the hexes from two miles away. Of course he had hexes, and sixty foot long pieces of webbing, and six daisy chains and twelve belay devices and two way radios, all not needed, but you know what this guy had the STOKE! And I needed some.

    I’m nearly two decades away from my Gumby days. But I was the same, so overcome by wonder and psyche that something in this world as cool as climbing existed. So in need of some direction.

    We start talking to this guy and his partner, and you know what he brought me back to life. He started asking climbing questions, about the Western Slope of Colorado and was ridiculously psyched on my description of the places I climb, and the fact that we have so much rock and on and on.

    And then, my mood started to change. He literally boosted me back up, back to where I wanted to be, and always want to be: that childlike excitement for climbing, the feeling that brought each and everyone of us who love climbing to where we are today.

    So there he went on his hour long lead of a 5.6 corner, talking excitedly the entire way. And up I went, excited again, psyched and stoked (stiked?!) to be on the rock, learning something from the beginner, the Gumby, the person who is appreciating each and every moment of this beautiful thing we call climbing.

    Luke Mehall is the publisher of The Climbing Zine, and author of American Climber, The Great American Dirtbags and Climbing Out of Bed. 

    Please consider subscribing to The Climbing Zine. It’s $17.99 a year for two issues, and this greatly helps us produce free web content like this. Check out the FREE preview

    zine_cover8 (5)About us: The Climbing Zine was started in 2010 by Al Smith III and Luke Mehall. It continues to the day with the mission of representing the true essence of climbing. Our crown jewel is our printed version, but we also do the interweb thing, and Kindle

    We have also published three books: American ClimberThe Great American Dirtbags and Climbing Out of Bed, written by publisher, Luke Mehall. 

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    The Eleventh Hour of Half Dome by Jason Haas

    Aug 15 • Locations • 356 Views

    Climbing with a pack on is the worst. It’s heavy, it’s awkward, and you don’t even use half its contents in the end anyway. I was stuck, by all accounts of the word. I couldn’t go up; I couldn’t go down; I couldn’t go sideways. I was stuck. And it was all because of this damn pack. I was going to die an embarrassing death. YOSAR was going to have to come do a body recovery of my emaciated, died-of-dehydration, stuck body. The only reason I wasn’t afraid of never living it down was because I’d be dead. Embarrassingly dead. Oh, why did that great-looking dihedral have to be wet? It looks way more fun to climb than this stupid squeeze chimney. But let’s be honest, it wasn’t the chimney that was the problem, it was the exit hole at the end of it. I had tried to worm through and almost made it. But not quite.

    by Jason Haas (note: this piece is an excerpt from Volume 8)

    Banner photo by Tristan Greszko

    I thought about just leaving the pack behind. We hadn’t eaten anything yet, or drank much water for that matter, but we had all the extra clothes on all ready. The phone-slash-camera was already in my pocket so who cares about the pack? Do we really need the topo? Looks like we just sort of “go up” from here anyway. Ugh. Did I say I hate carrying the pack? I wish I were leading every pitch, even the scary ones, if only so that Dan would have to wrestle this beast instead of me.

    We were halfway up the wall, and the sun had barely started to rise. We began way too early by my account, but there was nothing to be done about that. We arrived in Yosemite Valley the day before, climbed Astroman as a warm up, then set about packing for the Regular Route on Half Dome. We had two objectives while we were here—quite simple on paper: free Half Dome, free El Capitan. Six words, two rock climbs, one monumental dream, and a career’s worth of experience and training leading up to it. So we thought, why delay any longer—let’s just head up to the “easier” of the two objectives and get reacquainted with the stone, as it had been several years since either of us had been in the valley.

    After lazily spending the day pruning the rack, prepping the food, and paring down clothes, we eventually made our way to the trail. We strolled along the beaten path only to bop up the Death Slabs at an even more leisurely pace. It was a quiet, beautiful day with no one around and spirits were high. But when we got to the base, the cacophony of clanking gear and the clambering of climbers jockeying for position was overwhelming and quickly shattered the peaceful beginnings to our adventure.

    Five parties congregated at the base, collectively learning and discussing how to fix ropes, jug lines, and overall strategy. It was basically the worst-case scenario for us to come upon. Then there were the parties already on the wall—four or so below the halfway point. It was a good ol’-fashioned clusterfuck.

    The climbers at the base were initially cordial, but the mood quickly tensed as we were met with an onslaught of rapid-fire questioning. “Have you guys done the route before? How hard do you climb? How many routes have you aid climbed? Ever a grade VI? How many hours do you plan to climb it in? Are you going to fix ropes? Free climb it?! Really?” They kept coming, but it didn’t matter; our answer was always the same: “We will work around you guys; just let us know what plan you’ve sorted out, and we’ll work ourselves in somehow.”

    That wasn’t good enough for them. It’s the valley, bro—everyone sizes everyone else up. You gotta know the pecking order and where you fit in. “Are you pros? Well Chad here met Alex Honnold once, so we got that going for us.”

    That sort of thing. Hours from the car, humans, and cell service, we had stumbled upon The Scene. Four of the parties were college-aged climbers who were here to do their first big wall and for, really, their first aid climb. The other party was a pair in their mid- to late forties who had done some bigger stuff back in the day but nothing recently. Our original plan? Get up with the sun (no alarm really) and just go. The new plan? Well the first pair was going to leave at midnight, the next party at 3:00 a.m., then 3:30, then 4:00, then so on until we were going to be behind an unsurpassable number of people.

    Jason and buddy on Half Dome

    Dan (left) and Jason. Photo: Jason Haas collection

    Each group became preoccupied with their own preparations and futile attempts at sleeping, so Dan and I kept to ourselves and agreed, we’d leave at 2:00 a.m., roughly six ours earlier than planned but before the majority of teams set off. We were concerned about freeing the Higbee Hedral in the dark, but figured if nothing else, this could be a “beta burn” on the route. We ate dinner—a can of fruit and some cold pizza we got from Curry Village—then laid down for a power nap. As darkness overcame the wall, you could feel the tenseness swell up inside each of the other groups. Unsure whispers and the erratic movement of headlamps kept us up as the others checked and rechecked their packs and the topo. The clanging of gear higher on the wall and awkward yells of “Off belay!” “What?!” “What?!” “Are you off belay?” “Climb on!” “Are you off belay?!” and so on played on repeat like some dubbed YouTube music video sensation gone viral.

    The team that planned to leave at midnight had come up to the base without down jackets or sleeping bags and were now getting restless from the cold, so at 10:00 p.m., they set off. As I lay in the dirt with one eye open, the pair, only fifteen feet from my head, clumsily tried to learn how to jug a fixed rope, in the dark, with a pack and gear, et cetera. I had spent four hours trying to sleep. When you concentrate really hard on falling asleep because you know how important it is for you to go to sleep right that instant, it never happens. Just after midnight, I came close to nodding off though. But that’s when two climbers came down the descent trail and nearly kicked Dan and me in the head as they stumbled back to their packs.

    Enough. Dan sat up. “Let’s just go,” I whispered. We scarfed another can of fruit and the last cold slice of pizza and headed up around 1:00 a.m. It was surprisingly warm near the base, and the climbing was quite casual, even by headlamp. Dan and I had both done plenty of alpine climbing, big walls, and 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell competitions to feel comfortable with the night. And honestly, it felt good to be moving since sleep wasn’t going to happen.

    Stillness returned to the night, and I was once again blanketed in peacefulness. We quickly dispatched pitch after pitch until catching the 10:00 p.m. party as the sun began to rise. They were kind enough to let us pass, and we scurried on by as quickly as possible. We linked some pitches to gain extra distance, but now we were losing that lead as I sat wedged in the top of the chimney, like a cork in a wine bottle. I prided myself on wide climbing skills too, I thought. Hmm, only all that much more embarrassing when YOSAR shows up, I supposed.

    Photo of Half Dome by Tristan Greszko.

    Photo of Half Dome by Tristan Greszko.

    Dan and I had traded the pack just as we had swapped leads all through the night. The chimney pitch was Dan’s. Lucky bastard. I comfortably sat at the base of the chimney, all sprawled out atop a picnic-table-sized block wedged in the bottom of it. The route had surprised me—there were currently at least twenty people on this wall right now, and that was just today. How many ascents does this route see each year? Hundreds? Thousands? So why all the loose blocks? Microwaves precariously perched, waiting to go. The route had a very “mountaineering” feel to it, as if the blocks were simply waiting for the mountain to shudder from the cold and slough off all the loose debris. At least it had nice belay ledges. And lots of them! Nearly every belay was on a comfy ledge, and this chimney was no exception. A bit cool from the cavernous air, but comfy nonetheless. Man, what a giant chimney too! At the start, it’s wider than two outstretched arms. While it slowly pinches down to a squeeze chimney, there was a striking dihedral with a thin crack in it off to the left just before the real groveling began. Dan should be transitioning into the corner now—but why isn’t he? “Get out of that chimney—go for the 5.11 variation. It looks way better.”

    “It’s wet.” Dang it. And I have the pack. When going through a chimney with a pack on, the best strategy is to put the pack on a long sling between your legs and let it swing around as an off-balancing and erratic metronome. But the start to this chimney traversed a bunch and had too many loose blocks in it for a pack to swing freely. It had to be tamed. So on the shoulders it went. Until the end, when I was forced to nearly heel-toe. I lowered the pack off my shoulder and clipped it to my harness. I could see the light through the small opening and wiggled up to it. The pack was stuck. Of course it was stuck. It always gets stuck. Thrutching, cursing, wriggling. Ugh. The pack is stuck, and now I’m stuck. I wouldn’t be stuck if I were leading. Stupid pack. I became the awkward kind of cold too, the kind you get ice climbing or from sitting on a chair lift after bombing a blue groomer. I was cold from the crisp morning air and yet sweating from exertion, trying to free the bane of my existence. I couldn’t win. Finally, I squirted out of the hole and stared down a thousand feet of air to the base of Half Dome. The route is ledgy and largely shielded from exposure on the lower half, which we had climbed in the dark, and so this was the first moment of full-blown, unadulterated, wind-beneath-my-wings kind of exposure.

    Two thoughts came to my mind. First was, “Hey, glad we started at 1:00 a.m. as there are the four other parties, all crammed together only three pitches up.” And as I turned my attention to the pack, legs doing a full-leg press against the wall, back straining and forearms burning as I pulled outward from the wall with all my weight to free the pack, ass hanging three feet out from the wall, I thought, “If this pack comes rifling out of this hole, and I go sailing off this thing, does that blow my onsight?” It’s funny, I know, but I was seriously concerned about having to redo the pitch just because of this damn pack. I changed my stance, locked my leg into the chasm, and continued to pull. The stitches strained, some threads popped, and then the pack did the same. “Whoa-ho-ho!”

    With arms reeling, Dan pulled in some slack, and I regained my balance. Okay, then. I shouldered the pack and climbed the last fifteen-foot finger crack up to the belay.

    I set off on the next pitch in search of another perfectly comfortable belay ledge. Consistently feeling disappointed and as if I could be picky based on the ledges on the lower half of the route, I linked three pitches into one. Since I had long since been out of view, Dan drifted in and out of daydreams and boredom by watching the party below, who were now about to gain the picnic-table chockstone at the base of the chimney I had gotten stuck in. I had gone off belay and was starting to pull up rope as Dan started to follow when I heard a blood-curdling “aaaaaaaah!”

    I pulled in a handful of slack and braced for Dan’s full weight. But the rope never came tight. I tugged on the rope, but it didn’t move. It didn’t go taught or slack. The rope didn’t move for a long time, but he hadn’t fallen. I just sat on my ledge in silence until the rope began to slowly move again. Dan inched his way up to me. When he popped over the final bulge he had the total you-are-not-going-to-believe-this! face Chunk from the Goonies had. “Dude, you know that block you belayed from at the base of the chimney?”

    “Yeah?”

    “So that guy in blue below us was beach whaled on top of it. He was on his knees and about to stand up, with his head down and butt up like downward dog in yoga, when the block literally dropped two feet deeper into the chimney! He totally surfed that thing down until it rewedged deeper in the chimney! It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen—that block is huge!”

    “Whoa—crazy. Must have been from all that He-man-style leg pressing I was doing trying to get that pack out,” I wisecracked. And then we simply forgot about it as we turned our focus to the real obstacle of the route—the upper zigzag pitches. We caught another party that was on the wall from the day before, ate some lunch, and wrestled with the upper headwall. We topped out by midday, never to see the party below us again. It then rained for eight straight days in the valley, so we left after the first few to seek drier weather in the Needles before heading back home to Colorado.

    I had made a deal with my wife that I would drive to Yosemite with Dan and climb while she and the kids would fly to Minnesota and get a head start on a family vacation with her parents. I would then drive back to Colorado with Dan, then on to Minnesota by myself. Dan knew I’d be bored on the drive to the Midwest, but he isn’t known as a prankster. That’s more my role in our relationship. So it surprised me when he sent a text message—“You remember that chimney on Half Dome? It fell down!”

    What was he talking about? I knew I was out of it from the cross-country drive, half of it on my own, but what was he talking about? “For real. Check SuperTopo.” I lost service as I rolled into eastern Nebraska, home of the dreaded dead zone. Two hours of no service was more than enough to make my curiosity nearly kill me. I rolled into a gas station in Lincoln and trolled the website as I gassed up. Sure enough, there was a photo of the whole chimney cleaved clean off. It almost looked Photoshopped. I still didn’t believe it, so I read on, page after page of comments. Sure enough, the chimney had finally succumbed to gravity. The thing was huge too! It must have been as thick as a house and a full pitch tall. The Park Service’s geologist blamed it on a torrential downpour that happened over Fourth of July weekend and the loosening of soil and all that, but the crazy part is, when you stood at the base of it, you thought, wow, this is a big chimney that’s a part of this massive rock face.

    It’s interesting to think about the event after it happened. It never really crossed my mind that the chimney could have fallen off while we were on it—it was too big, and I assumed that the block shifted, not that the chimney widened. That never happens, especially on the human timeline compared to a geological one. Plus, the route has been done thousands of times—it’s in the 50 Classic Climbs of North America book after all. Which is an interesting note—many of the routes in that book are kind of piles. They often aren’t even the best routes on the respective formation. But still, I never thought, jeez, this flake is hardly attached to the wall—I hope I don’t leg press it off as I chimney behind it. My mother would say, “Be more careful,” or something to that effect, while Layton Kor would have said, “Good thing you climbed it while you still could.”

    Months later, I still don’t know how I really feel about being one of the last to do the route—on one hand, I love tick lists and was glad to check this one off. I feel lucky that after having two kids, I finally made this a priority and was able to sneak it in at the eleventh hour. Yet on the other hand, the fact that the chimney fell down only reinforces the notion that since my time is so limited with children, a business, life, et cetera, I need to stick to more contemporary classics such as those in 50 Favorite Climbs of North America—now there’s a book for you! Time will tell if the significance of it all will sink in, but after doing this for the better part of my adult life, I think ten years from, now I’ll cherish the same thing I do from all these kinds of trips—how much I enjoyed hanging out with my partner and how I wish I had shared more memories with him.

    Jason Haas runs Fixed Pin Publishing and lives in Boulder, Colorado, with his wife and two children, Corbin and Adele. However, they are now thinking about moving since he has busted all the doorframes from leg pressing them just like he did that chimney.

    Please consider subscribing to The Climbing Zine. It’s $17.99 a year for two issues, and this greatly helps us produce free web content like this. Check out the FREE preview

    zine_cover8 (5)About us: The Climbing Zine was started in 2010 by Al Smith III and Luke Mehall. It continues to the day with the mission of representing the true essence of climbing. Our crown jewel is our printed version, but we also do the interweb thing, and Kindle

    We have also published three books: American ClimberThe Great American Dirtbags and Climbing Out of Bed, written by publisher, Luke Mehall. 

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  • Last Thoughts On The Dirtbag from Cairns Film on Vimeo.

    Last Thoughts on The Dirtbag, A Short Film

    Aug 10 • Locations • 777 Views

    Two years ago I pitched an idea about a film I really had nothing more than a spark of an idea for to Greg Cairns. I’d seen Cedar Wright and James Lucas’s “The Last Dirtbag” and felt compelled to offer something of my own to this “conversation” about dirtbags and whether or not any real ones exist anymore.

    by Luke Mehall

    Of course the question is bullshit, people still live in the dirt, out of bags, we have just entered a new era, one where technology can take away a lot of the mystery of climbing, and it is getting harder and harder to make extended stays on public land.

    In the end the question did not matter. What mattered was how I felt about my time as a dirtbag. I ended up structuring the piece I wrote to go with the film similarly to how Bob Dylan structured “Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie“. Climbing and the characters I’ve met along the way mean everything.

    In the end I don’t care about the word dirtbag, it’s just a word. And our film, it’s just a film, but we labored over it in love, and I have a lot of love for our community. And I wrote this piece from the heart, and as a writer that is all I can aim for. I hope you enjoy it, as much as we enjoyed making it.

    Luke Mehall is the publisher of The Climbing Zine, and author of American Climber, The Great American Dirtbags and Climbing Out of Bed. 

    Please consider subscribing to The Climbing Zine. It’s $17.99 a year for two issues, and this greatly helps us produce free web content like this. Check out the FREE preview

    zine_cover8 (5)About us: The Climbing Zine was started in 2010 by Al Smith III and Luke Mehall. It continues to the day with the mission of representing the true essence of climbing. Our crown jewel is our printed version, but we also do the interweb thing, and Kindle

    We have also published three books: American ClimberThe Great American Dirtbags and Climbing Out of Bed, written by publisher, Luke Mehall. 

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