Weekend Update

Posted on 14. Mar, 2011 by in News

While many climbers from around the world know Colorado as a summer bouldering destination, a number of awesome problems now exist for the winter and I know of no other place in America that has so many good hard problems to try, year-round.
All of these problems attract climbers from around the country. Most impressively, Jimmy Webb, who climbed Phantasia V14 in Feb., has returned and made the first flash ascent of Burnout V12. This is one of the hardest flashes in Colorado, and ranks up there with Nalle Hukkataival’s flash of No More Greener Grasses V12 in 2008. Dave Graham also made a repeat. In the Poudre Canyon Brad Weaver made a quick ascent of Circadian Rhythm V13. Weaver also climbed Dark Waters V12, in Clear Creek Canyon, as did his partner in crime Brion Voges.
Speaking of Dark Waters their are several new variations at the New River Wall (home of Dark Waters), including a few moderates which have been cleaned up to climb the upper walls and are great fun. These are very worth additions to the wall and allow all of the problems to be topped out. The lower (and much harder) variations were, however, unclimbable last year and have been unclimbable for years. Upon my visit today it was clear that at least a foot of dirt has been excavated, either by the river or by a climber, opening up these harder lines. I would hesitate to assume the river piled the ring of dirt into a convenient seat for spectators. Many of the best and most visionary climbers in the world have visited Dark Waters:Paul Robinson, Dave Graham, Daniel Woods, Lucas Menegatti, Ty Landman, Chris Webb-Parsons, David Lama, etc. Did these climbers miss the opportunity to do some new amazing hard climbing? Are these worthy contributions to the Front Range bouldering community? If more amazing climbing could be done on a classic problem like The Spectre, in Bishop, CA, should we encourage FAists to dig the base out deeper? Should ethics differ between areas?
In the end, the river will probably wash all the dirt back. It may be a simple matter of aesthetic preference. Clear Creek lacks many of these qualities, but does that mean we should lower our standards, or our landings? Thoughts?

Untitled from Brian Kimball on Vimeo.

19 Responses to “Weekend Update”

  1. peter beal

    14. Mar, 2011

    Nice one Jamie. new amazing hard climbing indeed

  2. Mojo

    14. Mar, 2011

    Ethics for modifying landings should definitely differ between areas. Whether you approve or not, digging out a landing on a boulder in a river bed, below the high water level, isn’t that big a deal. Like you suggest, it will probably all be washed away and re-deposited in the spring.

    Compare this to your example of Spectre in Bishop . . . the desert ground and plant life are comparatively fragile. That place gets like 6 inches of rain a year. if someone were to dig a foot of dirt around that boulder, it would look like shit, and it would always look like shit. Great care is taken in bishop to stay on climber trails and avoid crushing vegetation and trampling the ground all over the place, cause it would turn into a dustbowl if people aren’t’ careful.

  3. jf

    14. Mar, 2011

    That Kimball video is rad! Nice to see someone really trying hard, not doing everything perfectly, but really climbing at their limit and getting after it. There’s something to be said for the authenticity that level of effort conveys.

  4. peter beal

    14. Mar, 2011

  5. B3

    14. Mar, 2011

    It’s an interesting post. Eldorado is a State Park and Clear Creek is I’m not exactly sure what. Should the ethical approach differ? does it matter?

  6. B3

    14. Mar, 2011

    So Mojo, does this shift in ethics depend upon the land management or the environment?

  7. peter beal

    14. Mar, 2011

    Clear Creek is in Jeffco Open Space and they actually have a fairly reasonable attitude about climbing practices:


    However regarding digging around on public land, a la Echale, maybe less so. From general open space regs:


    C.6. Destruction of Natural/Cultural Resources: It shall be
    unlawful to deface, damage, or in any other way vandalize any vegetation, rock, or any object of archaeological, biological, geological, or historical interest on Open Space lands.

    C.8. Destruction of Wildlife Habitat: It shall be unlawful for
    any person, or any pet under their custody, control, or
    ownership, to alter, damage, destroy, remove or in any other way vandalize wildlife habitat features on Open Space lands, including but not limited to, animal dens, burrows, dwellings, or nests.

    C.28. Unlawful Improvements: It shall be unlawful to
    construct, place or maintain any kind of road, trail, structure, fence, enclosure, communication equipment or other improvements on Open Space lands.

  8. Mojo

    14. Mar, 2011

    I think that the environment should dictate ethics and land management strategies. An area should be used in a manner that ensures it will remain usable by others for the foreseeable future, and that doesn’t ruin another person’s experience.

    In some areas (Like Bishop), digging out a boulder would result in increased erosion and an ugly hole that everyone has to look at. This makes that behavior unacceptable.

    In other areas, like a river bed in CO, erosion might not be such an issue. As far as the hole just looking bad, I haven’t climbed in CO, but I can imagine that there are dumpy little boulders out in the woods somewhere that could be dug out without anyone really caring.

    Simply put, some areas can handle behavior that others can’t. Hopefully people can arrive at a consensus on what is ok and what isn’t, so that people can enjoy these areas in the same state for the foreseeable future.

  9. Jack Dixon

    15. Mar, 2011

    My word,, here we go,, some grass is getting trampled! Oh no! F’n grass gets trampled for thousands of miles all over the whole country by hikers! Heaven forbid a little grass get trampled! I mean climbers should be careful of their impact, no butts, no tape, no trash of course, and excevations should be seriously considered for access jeopardy, but, stop the presses! We “hiked” to a boulder or around it few times and wore a “trail” or path… Close it down!! sheesh. I for one, in the light of Hueco, am just sick of it!!

  10. Josh Bahr

    15. Mar, 2011

    @Jack Dixon:

    Your post is one of monumental ignorance. Many ecosystems can handle the effects of hundreds or thousands of people bushwacking through the wilderness without significant detrimental effects. But there are MANY that can not, particularly desert habitats. These ecosystems are incredibly fragile, and the simple act of hiking through a previously un-traveled area can do massive amounts of damage to the immediate microhabitat. Plants grow very slowly in these systems, and can take years to grow to any appreciable size. Additionally, the weight of a human body can damage beneficial organisms such as fungi and bacteria that are essential components in a healthy and thriving ecosystem. You’re comments clearly express a misunderstanding of the types of issues that can come from allowing thousands of people into a fragile ecosystem. I think it’s a tragedy the Hueco is managed, but I think the real tragedy lies in the lack of understanding amongst the general public of the potential environmental impacts of their actions.

    On the actual topic of the post, I am pretty strongly against impacting the environment in significant way in order to do a climb. These problems are provided by nature. The rocks are formed by millions of years of geological activity, shaped by wind and water, and in the end, we are lucky enough to climb on them. How is digging out a boulder any way different from chipping it? In my point of view, they’re the same exact thing. The beauty of bouldering is the ability to head outside with a crash pad, and discover ways to creatively ascend these naturally formed rocks. If you’re digging out landings, you may as well just be climbing in the gym.

  11. Jack Dixon

    15. Mar, 2011

    @ Josh- you’re wrong! I do understand that some ecosystems are fragile! You can stuff your “monumental ignorance” comment up your ass!! You don’t know me! Now, are you really trying to say that destruction of systems around the few popular boulders is “macro” significant?? What about the ever prevalent hundreds if not thousands of untraveled/ no climbing value boulders, usually present around most said areas? We are not really talking about wholesale destruction of anything! The actual destruction is more like 1/100,000th (or even much less) of the total ecosystem in question!! What,, are we just supposed to not climb anywhere outdoors? I suppose you have “NEVER” laid your crashpad on even a blade of grass?! Yeah, right!! I suggest you learn to keep your immature insults to yourself!!

  12. Josh Bahr

    15. Mar, 2011

    Re-read my post, the VERY FIRST SENTENCE.
    “Many ecosystems can handle the effects of hundreds or thousands of people bushwacking through the wilderness without significant detrimental effects.”

    There are ecosystems, that very seriously, can not, particularly desert ecosystems. Hence, one of the reasons (although perhaps not as great as the anthropological artifacts within the area) that Hueco is no longer open to everyone and has a maximum capacity.

    I said that you were ignorant and misunderstood the profound ecological impact a boulderer can potentially have, a far cry from “immature insults”. I stand by my statements. Your original comment shows that clearly you do not understand the negative impacts that can accrue from thousands of boulderers, and unfortunately some with no regards for keeping nature pristine, enter a fragile system. Rather, you chose to generalize across many different scenarios and don’t recognize the reasons why regulations to protect habitats are in place.

    I’m not saying that people should never boulder, hike or camp. All activities have the potential to damage ecosystems. Instead, I think education should be promoted in order to maximize enjoyment while minimizing ecological impacts.

  13. colin

    16. Mar, 2011

    If there are so many good hard problems to try in colorado year round, why bother digging out some dumpy low-ball, butt dragging sit start? Go find an aesthetic line to climb.

    *wipes hands together*

    Moral quandary solved.

  14. Jack Dixon

    16. Mar, 2011

    Well, here again, you’re wrong! I do understand those things that YOU call “negative”! I just don’t find them as significant as you! I say let the “seed bank” erode/wash downstream for all I care! The whole world is going to shit and I can’t climb somewhere because some preservationist says I shouldn’t? Don’t you have some rain forests or somethin’ to worry about?


    16. Mar, 2011

    interesting that the uprate of elegant infinite seems to be repeatedly agreed with even while other blocks get the downrate.

    this leads me to the conclusion that i am always right about grades all of the time and forever.

    this post does not require any response, as it is a mere recital of god’s honest truth and stands alone, regardless of the opinions of mere mortals(sinners).

  16. Brian Kimball

    18. Mar, 2011

    Those are all great questions Jamie. I have always respected your FA’s and hard work as a developer. A lot of people forget how much work goes into developing, cleaning brushing etc.
    I remember watching people at Wolvo last summer running around the boulder field picking up the biggest lichen covered rocks they could carry. Then hurling them under the landing zones, smashing rocks into pieces under all of all your new problems. Both raising-smoothing out landings and lowering landings; all of this taking place in a access sensitive Wilderness Area.
    I respect you and others developers decisions. I know how valuable of a resource places like Wolvo are to you and that as a guidebook author that you have ‘the areas’ as well as the peoples best interest at heart.
    I might not agree with moving 400lbs of rocks in under an hour in a Wilderness Area BUT then again I obviously felt the need to take a plastic bowl and bucket down to remove a foot of washed up river sand from under what I consider to be one of the funnest sit starts a World Class problem like Dark Waters could have.
    Did the World Class climbers you mention “miss something” by not moving a few inches of river sand to add a cool Super Sit? No, not in the least bit. They can obviously afford to travel the globe climbing the very best non-contrived lines we all dream of. Are these new link ups and Super Sits “worthy contributions to the FR community” well that is up to each climber to decide for themselves, most people highly approve and are grateful for this new addition.
    Even though it saddens me to hear through the grapevine of all the slander and disrespect you speak of me and my name…..I still will show you respect. I like your website and appreciate who you are in the community and respect your opinions.
    Do I think you should add my Formulated Green Herbs Super Sit V13 FA to your list of “Colorado’s Hardest Blocks” NOPE not at all…these link ups are just that. They are 10minutes from my house and simply a way for me to have fun training for my real projects.
    I thought long and hard about the impacts of removing the river sand from the bed, talking with at least 20 or more people about the situation before opening the problem. I was able to hold the swing without dabbing and without removing any sand at all but after discussing it with many people we all decided that it was not very enjoyable and that very few other people would be able to keep there big asses of the dirt.
    So community consensus all agreed 100% that it was a worthy addition and not going to impact the environment in an ever eroding river bed in Clear Creek Canyon.
    I was far from the only person working on moving some of the bigger rocks from the new landings of the new moderates at the cave. There were a minimum of 15 various people who have had a hand in helping out in developing the new lines. We are all glad that you like the brushing of the jugs and new highball moderates.
    The link ups well SERIOUSLY they are BIG JOKE and simple a way for me to not have to drive an hour to climb at a gym. I am sorry if you disagree with the removal of the sand.
    Digging, gluing, tree removal such as WhispersOW, trail work, bolting, brushing of lichen and ALL of these actions must ALWAYS be taken into VERY careful decision. As a general rule of thumb I think digging should never be glorified or encouraged. We all knew that a guy like you might criticize my actions in the case of Super Sit but I have to say I find these criticisms all a bit hypocritical, NO?
    It is maybe a shame that we can not seem to disagree and yet remain friends or at the very least not resort to slander each others names at the rock gym ;o)
    Whatever I still have lots of love and respect for you Jamie :o)

  17. B3

    19. Mar, 2011

    Kimball, I appreciate your response, and have written you a private message. We have had many fun days climbing together. I have said that I don’t approve of the digging and I wish you hadn’t done it. It would be unfortunate if I agreed with all of my friends on every ethical issue, and I will not hesitate to question things. I will say publicly, again, that any perceived hypocrisy on my part is irrelevant and does not change my argument, although I really didn’t make an argument and mostly just asked questions about something that is admittedly a very grey area. That being said, filling in dangerous holes to make climbing safer in a dangerous area with dangerous landings like Wolvo is, in my eyes, a service to the community. I see this as much different than digging something out. If it is the gym you are interested in climbing in, then go to the gym. If it is too far aways or costs too much, that doesn’t give you the right to do what you please to bring that outside. I still have respect for you too Kimball, of course. That should go with out saying. I am only one person, asking questions. I appreciate your thoughtful response and would be more than happy to talk in person.

  18. Mike

    21. Mar, 2011

    “That being said, filling in dangerous holes to make climbing safer in a dangerous area with dangerous landings like Wolvo is, in my eyes, a service to the community. I see this as much different than digging something out.” JE

    Going up = good, going down = bad?! Holy Hypocrite Batman! MS

  19. B3

    21. Mar, 2011

    Again, for the 1,000th time, my perceived hypocrisy does not invalidate my argument.

Leave a Reply