Ice Climb Takes Shape at Rocktown

Check out the article they did on myself and Rocktown Climbing Gym – it’s about the ice climb we’ve created on the front of the building the past couple of years.

The ice should be good for at least one more day so there will be people there banging it up. We have arranged some special climbing session classes for those new and wanting to try it. Give the gym a call at 405-319-1400 if you are interested.

Issue: Arkansas – Fixed chains on bolted climbs

The link below is to Tony Mayse’s discussion on fixed chain draws in Arkansas. I’m adding my continuation to the discussion…

Fixed chains on bolted climbs. | fixeddraws.

Over the past few years there’s been a growing movement by some route developers to put fixed chain draws on routes in Arkansas.

I remember during my earliest years climbing in Arkansas – the early 90s – which isn’t that far back – Arkansas was approached by climbers as The Natural State. Efforts were made to first attempt the lines using natural gear, and certain areas were strictly off-limits for bolting. In other words, bolting was not the first resort. If a route were to be bolted, every effort was made to camouflage the bolt hangers, so as not to draw attention to the route. If a route had ample gear in a particular spot, that section was not bolted – bolts were only added where necessary for safety. Still, discretion was left up to the developer, with the understanding that the practical aspects of visual impact, continuity, bolt placement, hardware, and overall route quality were taken into consideration.

With the introduction of more climbers to the area via Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, the re-discovery and retro-development of known crags, and the discovery of a few new areas – the approach to climbing in Arkansas appears to have shifted. That shift has resulted in areas with an abundance of fixed chain draws hanging from routes, among other things.

The part of this that concerns me the most is that those who are developing these routes and affixing numerous chain draws seemed to think they are developing in a positive manner and perhaps even doing others a favor.

In fact, the overuse of chain draws have the long-term effect of doing a dis-service to climbers for the following reasons:
1) They draw unnecessary attention to sections of rock which would otherwise go noticed. A single bolt hanger is obviously much less visually intrusive than a chain draw. The long-term ramifications of being less-than-low-profile could result in access issues, restrictions, and ill-will among other user groups like hikers, birders, hunters, etc.
2) They add additional permanent equipment that risks deterioration and must be monitored for safety over time. Types of chain varies, types of quicklinks vary, and the carabiners used on these draws are most often not new to begin with. Check this Black Diamond article for a discussion on over-worn carabiners which appear on fixed draws.
3) They dumb-down the ratings of climbs – everything becomes a pinkpoint rather than a redpoint. When Flying Elvis (a 5.12 at Cave Creek) had chains placed on it, the consensus is that it was clearly easier – perhaps a grade easier – than having to place your own quckdraws and clip them.
4) Coupled with #3, you lose the experience of clipping your own quickdraws to a bolt. For some, this is part of the fun of climbing and clipping chains takes away from that experience.
5) Chain draws will begin to appear on routes of lower and lower grades. Other areas that utilize chain/fixed draws often have them reserved for the top 1-2% of the most difficult routes. Already, in Arkansas we are seeing chain draws appear on moderate routes – routes that have been climbed regularly for well over a decade without the use of chains! Does a 5.12 required fixed draws? What about a 5.11? Why not a 5.10? Is it not true that for those climbing at the grade, they shouldn’t have a problem putting up their own draws? In no location that I have seen, do we have walls like, say Maple Canyon in Utah, where fixed draws are prevalent on 5.13 cave routes. Let’s be realistic, and consider the terrain.

I think the arguments for chains are that it makes it easier to bail at any point on a route (i.e. makes it less committing), it makes it easier to clean (i.e. less work), and it makes it easier than having to clip draws on bolts (i.e. makes it easier). Well, I am arguing in favor of making climbing more committing, more work, and less easy. And, to add some more, less impactful to other users, more conscientious of others, and safer in the long run.

I think the problem wouldn’t garner such attention if there were a measured approach to the use of chains. In other words, if say, the steepest section of a route had a single fixed cable draw (UIAA approved with stainless equipment) that allowed for ease in cleaning, that would be a more balanced approach. Rather, what we see going on, is the use of painted chain with used aluminum biners bound with bailing wire on every single bolt hanger on routes that in most cases do not need any fixed equipment.

The development we are seeing is irresponsible, inconsiderate, and frankly, and selfish approach to the sustainability of climbing on US Forest Land in Arkansas. If we don’t make some changes within our own community we risk bigger problems. It’s something we can change now, and we should.

Fixed chains on bolted climbs. | fixeddraws.

A Day at Stanage Edge – Super 8 Film

I’ve completed and uploaded another video from the trip to England. This one is of a day spent climbing and exploring Stanage Edge; a world famous gritstone area in the heart of The Peak District.

Unfortunately, we only had a day to experience the wealth of climbing in the area, and this was only enough to leave us wanting for more grit. So I’m hopeful that there will be a return trip in the not-so-distant future which will allow for several days of climbing and an opportunity to truly experience all that gritstone climbing has to offer.

This film was shot on a single roll of Tri-X Super 8 film using a Zeiss Ikon Movieflex S8 camera. The film was developed and transferred at Yale Film and Video in Burbank, CA.  Post processing was all done in Final Cut Pro. The black and white (and grey) turned out pretty well on its own but I wanted to alter the image a bit in FCP. In this case I felt the use of a pink filter, upping the contrast and brightness (in some cases) added to the picture. Editing wise, I just did a little trimming here and there – I like to keep the sequence and the duration of the original film as much as possible.

With a film like this (meaning Super 8 ) I think it’s good to keep the home-movie feel. In fact, I would argue that it captures the experience more realistically – almost more documentary style.

The music is from a band/artist named Part Timer and the song is called Unwritten Letter no.9.

More Super 8 Film Stuff

Bolex 155 - Super 8 Camera

Lately I’ve found some really great stuff on eBay that I have simply been unable to avoid purchasing, it’s kind of a problem. I’m talking about Super 8 film stuff. In particular, I picked up a Bolex 155 Super 8 film camera, it looks like something out of some sci-fi fantasy movie. No telling what kind of looks I’m going to get walking around pointing this at people. And I’m sure I’d get the new TSA pat-down procedure if I even got near one of their airport checkpoints. So I’ll stick to shooting around town for now and see how the camera works out.

But that’s not all…

I’ve been on the hunt for Super 8 films; features, shorts, home movies. I found Star Wars on Super 8 film and got that. Then I got Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho on Super 8 film! I can’t wait to see these. I also found a couple of 100 ft reels of Russian home movies – got each of these for 0.99 cents, of course the shipping was $12 bucks. I’m hoping that there’s actually something on them and that they’re not just washed out crap. We’ll see.

Another piece of equipment I recently purchased which is not Super 8 but is 8 mm video cassette, is a Video 8 VCR. Finally I have a way to transfer all my old 8mm video tapes to a hard drive. There’s a lot of old climbing footage on there – old, like early and mid-90s old – not that old. I was just watching some footage from my second trip to Mexico. Myself and 4 other friends were piled into an Isuzu Trooper and driving through the interior of Mexico…at night…and the car broke down. It’s pretty crazy – should be fun to post when I get it all captured.

In addition to the old 8mm videos, I have a couple of Super 8 films that I am working on as well – shorts. Nothing that long. One is a “walkabout” film I shot while in Cambridge, England earlier this year. I’m hoping to have it or another film ready before the next film festival deadline.

In the meantime I’ll leave you with this ad for the camera I just bought.

Halloween 2010 – Photos

It was another great Halloween night. Started out the evening with some trick-or-treating then spent the evening in our haunted house; The Madhouse. We had a great crew of people – all friends from Rocktown! Billy, Morgan, Brent, and Natasha all showed up to play a part and they all did an awesome job.

Four of us were psycho-orderlies; myself, Brent, Billy, and Natasha. Lisa was a zombie-looking nurse, and Morgan played the part of the mad psychiatrist locked in an isolation chamber. Then my mom managed the front and the entrance door. We had between 100-200 kids and parents walk through the scenes and almost everyone appeared to be scared.

This year I think we must have set a record for crying kids. Not so much on purpose, but I think it was scarier than years past.

The idea of having a room with three closed doors and apparently no way out was both good and bad. It certainly had the effect on people of not knowing where to go. Most people head only in the direction they are looking without the thought of looking behind them. In fact, the door was right behind them. On first appearance the exit door would be open but then during the scene it would open. Many people had to be directed towards the exit. And some, who were too busy holding their face in their hands so they didn’t have to look up, would have to be coaxed or lightly “guided” towards the door.

The funniest and oddest moment during the night came when a girl wearing an aquarium costume – complete with swimming fish inside – walked into the main scene. Her costume was this huge box that she was inside of and the front appeared to be glass. So I reached out – as a crazy person – reaching for the fish inside the aquarium tank and instead broke through the “glass,” which was really just clear plastic film. I think I instinctively broke character and said, “I’m sorry.” She was screaming and squealing trying to leave the room but her box-shaped costume wouldn’t fit through the exit! She kept banging into the door way, like trying to fit an over-sized piece of furniture through a small door-frame. I grabbed the top of the box and turned her 90 degrees so she fit through the door sideways, and gave a push, promptly expelling her from the room.

As with every year, we’re left with a garage filled with black plastic and plywood. Once again I have to break it all down, figure out how to pack it all up and stash it all away. Until next year.

Halloween 2010

The Madhouse
The Madhouse haunted house. Gibson Residence. Halloween 2010.

Once again we have created a haunted house in our garage – this is the 5th year running, and each year we seem to step it up a little bit more. This year we are calling it The Madhouse. The idea is an abandoned psych ward where the patients have escaped and locked the staff – the doctors, the nurses, and the orderlies – inside. Now they are the ones that have gone crazy and have been experimenting on themselves.

Part of what makes a really good scene is the sound – and I’ve found the perfect soundtrack for this year. It’s the soundtrack from the film Session 9 – in my view, one of the best “asylum” pictures to date. And the soundtrack is fantastic. Just listening to it creeps me out.

I’ve been working in and on haunted houses since I was a kid and have always enjoyed it. And since we began building one at our house the neighborhood kids love it and look forward to it every year. For me it’s just another opportunity to do something fun and creative.

We’ll have some practice runs tonight and then the real deal is tomorrow. We’ll take pics and I’ll post them.

Happy Halloween.

Renegade Picture Show (#19), Super 8 Film Night – Saturday, October 16

So this Saturday we’re putting on our 19th Renegade Picture Show. This time it’s something very close to my heart – SUPER 8 FILM! There’s just something about Super 8 that intrigues me. As with all Renegades, this is a free show. (Of course donations are much appreciated.) Unlike all the previous shows, this one will take place indoors, inside Silo Art Space at Rocktown. This will provide a more intimate viewing area and allow me to try out a dual-projector system which I’ve been excited to experiment with.

Some of the films shown were winners of the Best-of-Fest awards at the 2010 Cambridge International Super 8 Film Festival in Cambridge, England. Other films are simply ones I’ve found online that I really enjoy and want to share.

There is currently a Facebook event page which you can visit if you wish to attend. And the Renegade Picture Show has its own website as well.

The show begins at 8:30 pm. Hope to see you there.

Update of site – in progress – finally

I’ve spent the past few years working on everyone else’s sites. That, and spending the majority of my time working at (or for) Rocktown.

In my “free time” I’ve had the opportunity to accomplish several of my dreams: make a film (like, a real film), write some screenplays, help out some friends, enjoy time with my family, take a climbing trip here or there.

All good things.

Yet, I get hassled – by you – for not updating this website. I understand. And I can respect that. And I appreciate your concern, if indeed, it is concern from which you speak. If not, that’s cool too. It’s out of love, I know, you hate to see this site go stagnant. Just because I’m not doing daily….or monthly…or….(yearly? really, yearly posts?) Man, this is getting ridiculous….

So here I am, folks. Keep in mind, I’ve been working hard. Real hard. Which is why I haven’t been HERE. Here, posting updates. Visiting my own forum (which, by the way, I am delighted that many other climbers enjoy). Keeping tabs on this site, and what everyone is up to.

Excuses. Excuses. I know.

But now! Now it’s all going to be different (isn’t it?). Well, I’m not making any promises, but I’ll give it a try.

So here’s to you, dedicated visitors of this, tried and (somewhat) true website! I congratulate you for sticking it out, for coming back here time and time again to find the same OLD crap – and nothing – absolutely NOTHING new.

But again, this lull, this time apart will be rewarded – for, I have stuff to share. Time spent offline means more stories, more videos, more postings later.