More articles, essays and stories

I’ve been going back through my archives of written material and it’s surprising how much stuff I have but haven’t published.  In reopening these files I’m discovering that, in some cases, these pieces are decent enough to put online – or need some more editing, first. In either case, I’m taking the opportunity to add some additional material.  

I will continue to add these to the essays and stories menu until things get to a point that I need to begin categorizing them better in which case I will add some additional sub-menus.  

Also, I am venturing more into the freelance writing world so if you know of good resources out there for writing articles and blog posts, please send them my way. Thanks, A

A bit about the origins of bouldering

For those of you who think bouldering is a recent occurrence in climbing history, think again. 

Info credit to John Gill and photo credit to British Mountaineering by Claude E. Benson, 1909

There are documented accounts of bouldering that go back at least as far as the 1870s, according to John Gill.

It’s equally enlightening to see that “practice climbing,” training on man-made climbing wall structures, even in the US was coming of age in the 1930s in places like Washington.

Shurman Rock – photo credit Seattle Parks


Photo Reflection: The Thunderhead Boulder

It’s been a while now – perhaps we could call it a generation ago? – that we I had a boulder in my backyard. Built this thing from scratch with some help from friends and family. It’s since been deconstructed but it lives on in images and memories…


Picture 1 of 16


New Old Stuff – The return of content and the NBC

I was going through some computer files the other day and was surprised to find multiple folders from various iterations of the Fusion 47 website dating back to the late 1990s. As I started looking I realized that there was a bunch of content that I’d taken offline. There were stories, articles, photos…all kinds of stuff that may be useful, or at least entertaining to read. Of these items I found a section featuring a different climb each month. These are climbs I’ve done and generally considered classics, in one way or another.

I also dug up a page that had all of the information about the boulder I built in my backyard years ago. The boulder has since been torn down but all the pics and documentation remain.

But what I was really excited to find was a page about the history of the Norman Bouldering Competition from the first event in 1998 up through the last one in 2004. I am super excited to be re-launching the Norman Bouldering Competition (#7!) at our new gym, Climb UP! The event is Saturday, February 21, 2015. If you would like to register for this year’s NBC you can go here.


Charons Gardens Wilderness Area in WMWR Temporarily Closed – Excessive Heat and Dangerous Conditions


Due to the extreme heat conditions in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, the Refuge has decided to temporarily close the Charons Gardens Wilderness Area until further notice. Recently, there has been a number of heat-related incidents due to hikers and other day users that have resulted in Refuge personnel having to perform rescues. Rescues in this heat put a significant toll on the Rangers as they have to subject themselves to the heat in order to perform these rescues.

For the safety of the public and Refuge personnel we ask that everyone please respect the temporary closure during this excessive period of high temperatures.

If visiting other areas of the Refuge please take extra caution to ensure that you are prepared for the heat; plan your day, spend plenty of time in the shade, bring plenty of water, sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat. Know how to recognize the sign and symptoms of heat-related illnesses ( and treatment.

Adidas Rock Stars Event at Area 47

Adidas is jumping feet first into the bouldering competition world with the Adidas Rock Stars event at Area 47 in Austria. This event drew my attention for several reasons – first because it looks like it will be a high profile event with some serious climbing talent. Adidas is sponsoring it which means some good financial backing and very professional. The venue, called “Area 47” is at the entrance of Tirol’s famous Oetztal valley – and features a number of outdoor recreational sports besides climbing. It looks like a giant playground to do all kinds of crazy stuff.

Again, just another way of climbing becoming a little more recognizable to some heavy hitter brands. And it’s events like this that help sustain our sport, allow others to appreciate it, and make it possible for more people to support themselves through climbing.

Adidas Rock Stars Event

The event will also feature live music during the event.









Climbing closer to being in Olympics

It was recently announced that climbing made the short list of 8 sports to be included in the 2020 Olympic games.

You can read more about it here.

This is the closest that climbing has ever been to becoming an Olympic sport. Given the number of recent World Cup competitions in the USA it’s no surprise that climbing is finally being looked at as a significant contender. In the past three years we’ve hosted a World Cup bouldering competition in Vail, CO and this year we’ll see the first World Cup sport climbing competition since the 1980s!

Competitive climbing (bouldering, speed and sport) has positioned itself as a growing youth sport – which makes it that much more attractive to the Olympic committee.

So what can WE do to promote climbing and get it in the Olympics? Well, USA Climbing Executive Director, Keith Ferguson said that first and foremost we can attend the World Cup events hosted here in the USA, and if we are unable to attend, we should log-in, whenever possible, to watch the live feeds of climbing competitions. This can be done through the USA Climbing site and through the IFSC website. The number of viewers or hits that a live or recorded feed is used to show popularity. And those numbers are part of the equation to demonstrate how many viewers climbing can generate.

It’s going to be important to start a buzz about climbing becoming an Olympic sport. We need to support our local USA Climbing teams – like the Oklahoma Climbing Team – and those organizations that support competitive climbing – like USA Climbing.

It’s also worth mentioning, on a local level, that Rocktown Climbing Gym is positioning itself to becoming the location of a world-class venue suitable for Olympic level events and an Olympic training facility. More on this in future postings.

For the time being, let’s keep focused on elevating climbing to the level it deserves – let’s push for seeing it in the Olympics – wherever that may be – in 2020.

Gym Projects

I’ve been working for the past few weeks on a few projects at the gym (, and while this update might be better suited for the Rocktown blog, this is more about the personal work experienced, so it’s being posted here.

The initial project began months ago. The plan was to design a climb from scratch that would consist of a number of major “features” which would be built and attached to the walls. In addition, the silo walls would need to be cleaned, all holes hammer drilled, drop-ins placed, anchors attached, etc. etc. – the usual amount of work for a typical route at Rocktown PLUS the added work of building at least three large features, attaching them, and then setting the route. The problem is that I typically attack a project as if I can do it in a week or so. In other words, I often underestimate the amount of work that I’ve taken on. The other issue I have is that once started, I find it an obligation to complete a project no mater what. This results in weeks (or months) of work – highs and lows – frustrations and solutions. But it works for me. With this initial project, creating three individual and unique features – all at least 6 feet in height – would be quite a chore. The first feature was an enormous triangle feature measuring about 8 feet tall and 4 feet wide. This thing was a monster. The biggest chore was hauling it up the wall 60 feet and attaching it. If I think too long about all the things that could have gone wrong with lifting this thing that high using ropes, pulleys and brute strength, my heart skips a beat.

The second feature was the most reasonable of the three – a low profile diamond shaped feature that was about 6 feet by 3 feet. This feature was much easier to place – likely because it was lower on the wall so there was less lifting/pulling involved.

The final feature was the most complicated. The feature itself was actually constructed by making three identical pieces and fitting them together. This final feature measure 12 feet in length and 4 feet wide and had the shape of an airplane wing! It has a large concave curve and angles down into the wall. There’s nothing but texture on it and it’s attached in such a manner that you must press into it and smear your way up it. it is by far the most impressive thing I’ve ever constructed and one of the more difficult things too.

Each of these features were attached to the wall and the route was built through them. In total, it took me about 6 weeks of work – this is the longest I’ve spent building a single artificial climbing route. The name of the route is “The Feature Presentation.”

The second major project I began and have (almost) finished, is becoming known as the Training Room. This room, also a brand new room, contains a campus board, hangboard system, Roman chair for leg lifts and dips, and will soon contain a peg board. The room has a drop ceiling and a padded floor like what you might find at a gymnastics gym.

The third project which was just finished took about a week. We stripped all the holds from the bouldering room, filled some cracks and imperfections, re-painted the walls, and replaced the holds. This gave a nice face-lift to one of our most popular rooms at the gym.

I’m at a brief stopping point before I decide what the next series of projects is going to be.

Today I officially started a new film/video project

It’s not official unless I posted it somewhere, right? So if I post it here then it means I have started it and therefore must continue it. That’s just the way it goes.

So what is the project? Over the course of the next few months I will be interviewing Oklahoma climbers about their experiences with climbing in Oklahoma. Most notably will be those who established Oklahoma climbing for what it is today. This is going to be sort of an historical look at the development of climbing in the state but more than that it is meant to examine the people, the personalities, and their stories.

This is not a “climbing video,” this is a documentary. Of course, I want to feature the places, the routes, and the people together, but the point is more about the people and the unique community of climbers that has developed here.

At this time it’s too early to call this documentary anything other than an Oklahoma Climbers/Climbing documentary – but I’m sure I’ll come up with something over time.

I did my first interview (profile) today – with Russell Hooper – that’s what kicked it off. I look forward to many more interviews and a rewarding learning experience.