Tuesday, February 5, 2013

For Emma

My friend Emma lives in Louisiana and knows almost nothing about Climbing. The first time she heard about it was four years ago when I made an ecstatic long distance phone call my senior year of high school to tell her I’d started. We’ve been close since then, but despite my bi-weekly rants to her about it, I’ve always had this lingering feeling that I haven’t fully conveyed something essential to her, one of the simple truths that binds me to climbing, and for that I feel like I’ve failed somehow. So I hereby commit this piece to you, Emma, and I promise to do my best to explain why climbing is never just about climbing.

For the past four years, I’ve called myself a climber. Other people in my life have begun referring to me as a climber. When my parents talk about me to their friends, they say things like Our son goes to school, he writes, he falls in love, and he’s a climber. No, no, he hasn’t done Everest, we’d never let him.

As climbers, we’ve all answered these sorts of questions and we’ve all had to explain to people that Climbing is not really what you see in films like Vertical Limit or Mission Impossible II. We’ve all messed with tourists who ask us questions like, What’s that on your back? Is that your bed? You planning on sleeping up there? Oh you climb, have you ever climbed El Cap?

I won’t get into the sorts of obnoxious answers I’ve given to these not-so-ignorant questions. I think what people are really asking, and what my parents’ friends are really getting at is, Why climbing?

Drew LaPlante and Robert Biale (my dad)
I give my Dad a lot of shit because he watches Glee. He also enjoys So You Think You Can Dance. I remember one night, while I still lived at home, I was watching another episode of Scrubs when my dad came downstairs, wordlessly took the remote, and turned on Glee. Why do you watch such an obviously overrated and ridiculous show, Dad? He gave me an answer immediately, but to be honest, it didn’t matter what he said. My mind was already made up: Glee sucked, and my Dad was a loser for watching it.

The other night, I was over at my friends Kris and Kati Peters’ house watching The Dark Knight Rises after a long training session. When it was over, Kris went to bed and I stayed up with Kati and Alex, and together we started scrolling through the channels. I went to the bathroom and grabbed what was left of the Half Baked ice cream out of their fridge. I was looking for a spoon in the kitchen when I heard it. There was a girl singing Silent Night on the TV, and it was absolutely amazing. Kati promptly changed the channel and landed on Friends. Wait, wait! Go back to that! Who was that? That was beautiful. Kati and Alex both looked at me, looked at each other, then proceeded to laugh uncontrollably. 

Why are you guys laughing? That was really good. More laughs. Dude, go back to that! We’ve already seen this episode of Friends. Alex, more laughs, that was Glee. Silence. Dammit. Why do you want to watch that?

I stood there, pint and spoon in hand, wishing I could take back the last thirty seconds. Then an unusual wave of maturity came over me and I felt compelled to capitalize on it. All my life I’ve been told that I am more like my father than I might like to think, and I’m not just talking about our chiseled facial features. In that moment, standing in front of two people I barely know, I gave the same answer my dad gave me all those years ago:

I appreciate talent.

At first, they continued laughing. I’m not sure if they got it, but I certainly did. It had taken me nearly five years to understand how utterly brilliant my dad was for saying that exact same thing. Apparently, my mom had told him the same thing once when she was watching So You Think You Can Dance and he wanted to change it to watch the news. That’s how he learned his lesson. She’s always been a bit more advanced than us. 

Emma, for as long as we've known each other, you've known me as a hopeless romantic incapable of making any logical decisions, someone who routinely finds some random thing or activity to obsess over, at least for a short while. One of the most valuable things you've ever given me is a new perspective. You live your life very differently than mine, and by that I mean, you make decisions differently. You're not a hopeless romantic by any stretch of the imagination. And I don't want you to be. Instead, I want to convince you that Climbing isn't just about climbing, that this time, I'm not just acting on impulse. 

For the longest time, I've struggled to find something worth investing all of me into (besides God, family, friends, and all that good stuff). I'm talking about something more individualized and specific to me. Maybe that's selfish. I don't know. I tried soccer, writing, photography, girls, etc. I tried everything. Nothing was sustainable in the ways I needed it to be. I wanted to find something in this universe capable of adapting with me as I grew and sucked and learned. That's when I found climbing. Sure, I'm choosing to see this activity in very naive terms, but it's a subjective sport so I can do whatever the hell I want with it. I think it's awesome that I can pour every ounce of me into something as unique and endless as rock climbing. On any given day, rock climbing can be a venue for literally anything! That sort of endless variety and compatibility is so valuable to me. 

Climbing forces me to butt heads with myself and look objectively at why I am the way I am. Without honest self-reflection, there is no progress (i.e. growth) in life (climbing).
Climbing is my medium for said growth.   

I choose to climb because it demands more from me than just me. I enjoy climbing the most when I am trying as hard as I can on a beautiful boulder problem. Consequently, the more and more time and effort I put into climbing, the things that appeal to me just keep getting harder and harder. In climbing, growth takes for-fucking-ever. Just because I’m getting physically stronger, does not at all mean that I’m growing. And that’s the best part.

I climb because I am constantly pushed outside my comfort zone into other people’s perspectives, (like the way you force me to look at the bigger picture of things) and that sort of opportunity is really cool. We all need something. For my Dad, it’s making wine and watching Glee with my mom. For Ian, it’s writing short stories and teaching just as much as it is climbing. 

Self-growth perpetuates growth in others, and that’s sort of the point isn’t it?

Everyone needs and desires to grow. It doesn’t matter if it’s working in the Napa Valley making wine or working in Boulder making lattes, it doesn’t even matter if you’re in some talus field that no one’s ever heard of scrambling around piles of rocks trying to find one that appeals to you. As long as you’re developing in the way you need to be, it’s all good.  

These ways in which we decide to approach and embrace ourselves are constantly evolving. As long as we’re brave and open to the process, even when we fail, we’ll be just fine. That being said, for today, and probably tomorrow, I choose climbing. 

Here's a little video I made of some climbs I did in January. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Getting Focused

Team Five Ten Photo by Brennah Rosenthal

These days, routine and structure, things previously foreign to me, actually provide the ability to be consistent. Before deciding to smoosh together all the best parts of my life by moving to Colorado, I had a goal to improve my abilities as a climber, as fast as possible. Since being here, I haven’t had as much time to go outside and climb as I thought. Sure, I get to climb outside more than I did when I was going to school in San Luis Obispo, and the rock I get to climb on is of higher quality, and the problems are more famous, harder, and sometimes more striking. However, after having a discussion with a new friend of mine, I realized that, while climbing V13 is something I want, I’ve been trying to get there too fast, and it’s doing more harm than good.

Kris Peters is a climbing-specific trainer who focuses on equipping athletes with the tools they need to attain their goals. Kris is a great guy and I can honestly say that we’ve become good friends. He understands what inspires me and where I want to go. And I honestly think he knows how to get me there. I’ve been training with him and some other motivated individuals in the Boulder community for the past couple months. By sheer luck, I managed to make it into the “pro” group of climbers. Don’t be fooled, I’m not pro, and neither is everyone in this group. But, everyone in this group is climbing very, very hard, and are all extremely motivated to progress. While I might be the weakest link in the group, I also get the opportunity to climb with some very powerful climbers who push me to keep improving. 

Training with Kris and that specific group of people helped me understand that in order to get to where I want to go (being physically and mentally capable of climbing V13) I need to stop trying to climb V13. At first, I didn’t understand that. Then, I got injured, not severely or anything, but the tendonitis in my elbow came back to haunt me, along with some bicep pain I’ve dealt with in the past. I’ve been training so hard and climbing nearly every day here in Colorado. Whether it’s inside or outside, all of my spare time is spent climbing. This is a dream come true. Although, I haven’t learned to take rest days, and I haven’t learned to try anything unless it’s at my absolute limit. That’s why, until earlier this week, I haven’t actually sent anything since I’ve been here. I’ve only been trying problems that are extremely difficult for me, without climbing on grades I “know” I can do. 

That sort of masochistic and obsessive approach to progression and to training has been my game plan since before I moved out here. But after only being here for a short while, I’ve come to understand that it is important to take your time when you’re trying to climb at your limit. I can’t climb V10 or V11 all the time, and I sure as hell can’t climb V12 once a month. 
Getting close on Free Basin (V11)
Photo by Brennah Rosenthal
So, here’s my new approach: Be consistent and climb a lot of boulders. Instead of trying to climb V13 within a year, I’m going to try and become as consistent with a certain grade as I possibly can. My new goal is to be able to climb V10 in a session or two.... or three.  I want to be consistent with V10 like I am with V7. I want to be consistent with 5.13 like I am with 5.12. Yes, I want to climb V13 and 5.14, but that is going to take some serious time and training and experience and PATIENCE. 

Hopefully, if I somehow manage to stay injury-free, I will make it to a point in my life where one day, I stumble upon a V13 that suits me perfectly. Then, when the time is right, I’ll give every ounce of me to climbing that one boulder. And that process will be enough for me to be happy.

Alex and Brennah (BFFs fuh life.. furildoh)

Biale trying some V10 in Wild Basin
Photo By Brennah Rosenthal

Brennah coming SO CLOSE on flashing The Mini Dagger (V5) in Wild Basin
Photo by Elliot Grissom (also my boo)

Elliot gettin WEEEEEEEEEIIIIIIIRD on some really hard boulder in Wild Basin
Photo by Brennah Rosenthal

Alex topping out the Colorado highball classic: Germ Free Adolescence (V5)
Photo by Brennah Rosenthal

Alex and Ben Spannuth "Top-out.. HIGH FIVE BRO!!!!"
Photo by Elliot Grissom

Post Kris Peters fuel with the crew
Photo by Brennah Rosenthal

Got a job at a coffee shop. No big deal.
Photo by Brennah Rosenthal

Rest day activities (Cards Against Humanity)
Photo by Brennah Rosenthal 

Monday, September 10, 2012

To The Girl Reading Gatsby On The Couch By The Window

Every now and then, I branch out of writing for school, Clmbing Magazine, text messages, and I dabble in poetry. My friend David Hernandez suggested I put some of it on my blog, so, here you go! I might start randomly posting bits of poetry. Some of it will be mine and some of it will be the work of others. But since this is MY blog and I like poetry, you just have to suck it up and deal. Here's one I wrote a little while ago.

To The Girl Reading Gatsby On The Couch By The Window

There is an older woman 
making Valentines in the corner by the lamp,
and a man bearded with scars he’d 
rather not talk about playing the piano. 
The woman with scissors and red paper listens 
to his rendition of Billie Holliday’s 
“I’ll Be Seeing You”, and thinks he is playing for her.
No, he is playing for us.
See, you sit by the window 
and I see that we are both drinking cappuccino, 
and I think that says a lot about a person.
I can’t pay for yours 
but I can offer you all the real
estate of my right hand.
You could sip the art off my foam
and read me your favorite lines.
We could sway our heads 
to the piano man’s fingers
and talk about high school versions of our selves.
You could tell me about how God
listens to your heartbeat on his iPod,
how you’ve learned to let it be okay to say,
“I really wanted that to work.”
I could tell you about how I learned
to flinch before I learned to read, 
that I’ve learned to give myself 
permission to be complicated.
Older couples would say,
“You two look good together.”
I would tap you with my elbow,
as if to suggest, I agree.
I’d make you breakfast in the 
morning, run my fingers
down your spine and ask,
“Five more minutes.”

If I could find a way to grind my 
teeth into an “I dare you”,
I’d dare myself to ignore the washing 
machine in my stomach 
and ask you for your name.
See, I missed class the day they
taught us how to be brave,
but I’ve come to understand that 
my insecurities are in all the right places.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Newness: Life in BOULDAHH!!

I live in Boulder, CO. I am the editorial intern at Climbing Magazine. I make coffee. I wander around in the mountains. I hang out with some fucking weird individuals. We drink wine, we talk things we shouldn’t be talking about, and we call it a good time.

Before moving out to Boulder, some friends that previously lived here warned me about the “dangers” of living in the epicenter of US climbing. They explained that a good amount of climbers here have become completely jaded to the fact that they live in one of the most beautiful places for climbing in America, that they get to live two hours from their life-long projects, that they get to climb alongside some of the best climbers in the country, if not the world, and above all, the fact that Boulder, CO has more Whole Foods per person than anywhere else in the U.S. I expected rampant snobbery and elitism here in Boulder, but I can tell you that this is not the case, or at least, not entirely.

Like any climbing community, there are climbers who are stronger than others, and there are climbers who think that because they are stronger than the masses, they are somehow better and more deserving. Boulder is no different. There are climbers who think they walk on water because they climb V-WHATEVER. But what people don’t talk about, are the climbers who climb V-WHATEVER and are dope as fuck (Billy Elliot, I’m talking about you)! The Boulder climbing community is home to some of the most genuine, motivated, and intriguing people I have ever met. I’ve trained, climbed, and drunk with some of Colorado’s strongest climbers since I’ve been living here, and from my perspective, they’re all pretty cool.. weird, but cool. So, MYTH: DEBUNKED!

The reason my friends warned me about moving out here was because they were worried that if I started climbing with these sorts of people, I might lose my love for climbing and be consumed by the gossip and drama of this community. I recently had an enlightening conversation with a friend from back home (Ian) who helped me understand why I won’t get jaded, ever. It’s the same reason I can listen to the same song over and over and over again. It’s the same reason why I don’t struggle with commitment, why I enjoy watching the same movies dozens of times, why I will never stop climbing, why I will always fall in love with new songs and scream, “This is the best song I’ve ever heard!!!”. 

When I was in high school, I took a class called “Man’s Search for Meaning”. Pretty cool right? Right. It was senior year and things were changing: friendships were evolving, hearts were breaking and healing, and I finally found climbing. This class revolved around one underlying principle: “Ancoro Imparo”, or, “Know Thyself”. We learned about world religions, music, art, literature, poetry, love, the kamasutra, all the good shit. In that class, I began to realize that our attitudes (perceptions) towards a certain scenario give us a lot more control over our lives than we might think. This concept might seem elementary, and maybe it is, but it helped me understand something bigger, so keep reading. 

I’m very excited about rock climbing, in every way. I love being up in the mountains with nothing but some rock shoes, a bag of chalk, and a good friend. I cherish the car rides where we occupy our minds with music and dreams and dirty jokes and donuts and inappropriate conversations. I look forward to climbing at the gym with my friends after work, to watching the new Joe Kinder flicks that pop up on my news feed, to reading the sometimes-ignorant and always-amusing comments under certain blog posts, to having short and awkward with my climbing heros out at the boulders. 

See, I used to feel like I had to go climbing, like it was my duty to convey this image of “happy-climber-alex”. But that gets old quickly and takes value away from what climbing really means to me. Being in Boulder has given me the opportunity to reignite this drive to love climbing. As soon as I crossed the state line and began to see mountains, something in me, something long-forgotten, switched back on. 

I forgot how much I love rock climbing! No, not sending, climbing. There’s a difference. For the past eight months I have been so caught up in and preoccupied by sending “hard” boulders, that I forgot how much I LOVE going out to the mountains and JUST CLIMBING!!!! Since I’ve been here, I have not sent anything worth bragging about (at least not by my own hyper-critical-and-arbitrary-as-fuck-standards), but what I have been doing, is trying really hard on some of the coolest moves I’ve done outside. 

During the week, I work at Climbing Magazine (which is the coolest job in the world), and at night, I go climbing. If the weather is good, I/we even do afternoon/evening sessions in RMNP. Those are dope. On the weekends, we drive up to the mountains, AND WE GO CLIMBING! 


With a bottle of Robert Biale Vineyards, some amazing people, and a little creativity, we changed the world with a message in a bottle.
The reason I will never get jaded and I will never stop loving climbing is because, much like a four-year-old, I have the capacity to let things be new. By letting a) the allure of the mountains b) the camaraderie of my friends c) the overwhelming satisfaction of sending a project d) the giddy feeling I get when I see a hero like Tommy Caldwell or Joe Kinder, or even e) that feeling you get when you absolutely crush that ONE move in the gym that you thought would be IMPOSSIBLE, all be just as cool and rewarding as they were the first time I ever felt them, it becomes clear that this love I have for climbing will never cease to make me happy.

“it exists between the dandelions--the same that falls out of fruit trees and splashes out of puddles” 

My project... Sunseeker V13. This is a picture of Carlo Traversi making the 2nd Ascent. Photo by Andy Mann

Mirror Mask V10. did it!

Mirror Mask V10!!

a picture i thought was sexy

for ian james walters, he knows why



Add caption

Welp, I fell off the last move and hit a tree on the way down. Waiting to heal before I head back for the send... NOT! IM GOING UP THIS WEEKEND TO TAKE THIS BITCH DOWN!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Wine Country Boulder Brawl 2012: Review

I’ve spent the last six days in an overheated climbing gym, moving up and down ladders, breathing in chalk, drinking too much coffee, falling off everything, staying up till 3 a.m., and attempting to throw a grassroots bouldering competition for v13 climbers. Saturday night, both local enthusiasts and visiting professional climbers gathered in Napa, CA to compete for a $2,000 cash purse at the second annual Wine Country Boulder Brawl. My goal for this competition is simple: help climbing grow.
Co-Founder of the WCBB, Alex Biale, falls asleep with the master list of problems.

The idea to host a grassroots climbing competition stemmed from the hearts and minds of two local climbers (Alex Biale and Nolan Kloer) who simply wanted to give back to the community that has given them so much. After last year’s event, my friend/partner and I decided we wanted to morph this local competition into a national event. The West Coast does not have any competition series that draw in climbers like Daniel Woods, Carlo Traversi, Rob D, etc., so why not start one? This year’s WCBB was our attempt at hosting a bouldering competition for top tier athletes in CA. (We figured to start in our own state, then work our way towards Mr. Woods). 
I could write an entire piece on the six days leading up to the event, but it would take me too long to write it and it would take you way too long to read it. I learned more about route setting, event planning, networking, marketing, time management, friendships, insomnia, the positive and negative effects of electronic music, how many bottles of wine it takes for me to be able to do three one-arm pull-ups, and even some business savvy in that one week than I have working on any other event. 
Head Setter, Jake Novotny, replenishes with some Napa Valey goodness after setting V13

Throughout the week, the gym kept getting phone calls from professional climbers asking things like, “Where is the nearest airport?” and “How much money does Men’s 1st Place get?”. Our crew began to step up the levels of difficulty of our setting as soon as we heard that climbers like Michael and Julian Bautista were coming. After hours and hours and hours of setting, forerunning, tweaking, re-setting, drinking red wine, and more forerunning, we were ready.  
On the day of the event, everyone was getting excited, well, I wasn’t. See, a few of my friends from the bay area told me they were coming, and those friends happen to be some of the strongest climbers in the U.S. So, the Wine Country Boulder Brawl did not start, in my eyes, until one of them walked through the doors. Within minutes, Brian Hedrick walked into my climbing gym. Now, if you’re in the know, you’ve probably heard of Brian Hedrick. He’ll hate that I’m bragging about him online, but fuck it. 

Brian Hedrick (Cuz) is one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s strongest boulderers. He also happens to be one of the most humble climbers I know. He’s climbed The Swarm (V14), The Mandala SDS (V13), and made the second ascent of Chris Sharma’s infamous The Impossible Traverse (V13) in Berkeley. Right? Sorry Brian. 
And now the name dropping begins...
This past Bishop season, I met Max Zolotukhin on one of my projects, Xavier’s Roof. I had obviously seen videos and read news articles about things he’s done, so when he and his crew walked up to the problem I was trying, I got all kinds of excited. With style, he sent it first go. I remember his girlfriend and my friend, Natasha Barnes, saying, “That was hot.” I met them both a few more times throughout the season, and the same reoccurring trend kept happening, I would fail on my project, Max would send it immediately, and Natasha would say under her breath, “That was hot.”
Natasha and I met a few years ago in Yosemite Valley. I’ve seen her periodically throughout the years at different bouldering locations, and I’ve obviously seen the videos. This girl has been crushing the national comp scene lately, as well as climbing some inspiring lines outside... Drive On (V11) in Yosemite...
If you follow the comp scene, you’ve heard of Michael and Julian Bautista. These brothers come from the L.A. area and are absolute monsters on the wall. These kids walk into a comp and everyone immediately goes, “Well, there goes 1st and 2nd. Maybe I can get 3rd?” I had not met them before the comp, but they both turned out to be some of the most down-to-earth guys I’ve met in this little world of climbing competitions. Humble, positive, and strong as balls. Thanks for coming guys!
Last year’s event was the first time I had ever met Giovanni Traversi. Giovanni (G.), brother to Carlo Traversi, hails from Santa Rosa and is just as impressive as his brother on the rock. Watching G. absolutely destroy the competition last year left the Napa crew with enough psyche to last for the rest of the year. His reserved and soft-spoken nature exists in complete contrast to his ability to take complete ownership of every problem he tries. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen such a powerful climber move with such control. If you’ve seen him climb, you know what I mean. G., you’re a boss. 
The point I am trying to make by listing all these climbers and the few times I’ve met them is this: All it took to rally such a solid crew of strong climbers to a local climbing competition was a little bit of prize money and cashing in on some newly-formed friendships. I am convinced that the climbing community is separated by a mere one degree of separation, because with a few Facebook invites and text messages, I had some of the strongest boulderers in our sport climbing at my comp. 
To all of the athletes who made this year’s Wine Country Boulder Brawl a show for not only myself, but the crowd and the community, thank you.

As for the event itself, it was exactly what I wanted/needed it to be. All the competitors had a great time and continued to compliment the setters on the quality of their problems. This sort of acknowledgment does not go unnoticed. Finals was a blast, especially for the women. Our crew of setters did a perfect job of creating unique problems with showy cruxes for the crowd to enjoy, and their difficulty levels were right where they needed to be. 
My favorite moment was watching Natasha Barnes flash the last women’s problem, Finals #3. When she made it past the move her predecessor fell on, I began screaming, “Flash this! C’mon ‘Tash, FLASH IT!!” I might have gotten a little too excited. Sure enough, she hit the finish hold, maintained control, and swung high above the crowd for the win. When a finalist is able to flash (climb first try) the last problem in the comp for a win, you know you did something right. Good job Natasha.

Female Finalists! 
On the men’s side, things did not work out as well. Don’t get me wrong all the problems in finals were amazing, they were just way too hard. The three main setters for this comp were Jake Novotny, Jonah Ferohn, and myself, Alex Biale. None of us climb above V11, and very rarely do we ever accomplish that grade. I’m currently dealing with the worst finger injury I’ve ever had which disables me from using my left hand. Jake climbs outside more than anyone I know, and doesn’t necessarily climb in the gym a whole lot, and Jonah sets way harder than he climbs. This is to say, we all know how to set quality problems, but there is no way in hell we can climb the stuff these previously mentioned climbers can. 
When I found out that G., Max, Brian, and the Bautista brothers were all coming to our comp, I had a sit-down with the setters. We decided we needed to set boulder problems that were much harder. I’ve seen Brian Hedrick piss all over The Mandala (V12) as a warm up. I’ve seen Max Zolotukhin absolutely destroy The Buttermilker SDS (V13). I know what G. can do and I’ve seen both the Bautistas come agonizingly close to beating Daniel Woods in bouldering comps. THESE GUYS ARE STRONG! Logically, Jake and I thought that if we could do every move on the problems with some decent links, these guys could climb them, and potentially flash them. So, after six days of setting and forerunning, every move on every problem went down, either by Jake or myself, we did them all. Sadly, we underestimated our strength and ended up completely sandbagging the male finalists. SORRY! 

Male Finalists!
I had an amazing time watching them thrash on our boulder problems, but not one of the male finalists were able to complete any of the three men’s finals problems. This is not what a head setter wants, and neither does the crowd. It was cool for Jake and I to watch strong climbers like Max climb to the same spot as us on the problems, but it was disappointing knowing that we set them too hard, and that no one was topping out on the guy’s side. Oh well, we learned a lesson.
After the comp was over, I made a point to talk with each of the top male finalists and ask questions about ways to improve for next year, ways to make finals more enjoyable and more exciting. To my surprise, they all stuck around and offered friendly advice that will help make next year’s event even better. So, once again, thanks guys.
The Bay Area couple, Max Zolotukhin and Natasha Barnes, ended up walking away in first place for men and women respectively, both earning $700 in cash. For the full results, visit The Wine Country Boulder Brawl on Facebook.

Natasha Barnes and Max Zolotukhin, winners of the 2012 Wine Country Boulder Brawl. Thanks guys!

That was all a very long and drawn out way of saying thank you to our local heros and role models. While they might be friends and fellow climbers, they’re also at the forefront of our sport, which means the rest of us get to look up to them.
The Wine Country Boulder Brawl started off as a way of saying thank you to a man and community who helped two kids fall in love with climbing. Over the past couple years, our simple thank you has transformed into a dream of one day hosting a bouldering competition/festival that will inspire and rally the climbing community on a national level. Keep an eye out for next year’s event, I promise you, it will be worth the plane ticket.

This event would not have been possible without the support of a small but core group of like-minded individuals. Thank you to our sponsors:

Andrew McDermott, Dwayne Robertson, Robert Biale Vineyards, Prana, Raw Revolution Energy Bars, Evolv

Thank you to all the volunteer staff. Without you, I'd still be stuck on setting Men's #3:

Jake Novotny, Jonah Farhion, Craig Cooledge, Ryan Cooledge, Mrs. Cooledge, Mr. & Mrs. Kloer, Andrew Zaslove.

Nolan, word. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Wine Country Boulder Brawl

A year ago, I organized the first annual Wine Country Boulder Brawl with my good friend Nolan Kloer. The WCBB is a bouldering competition that showcases top California climbers at Napa’s premier climbing gym, Rockzilla. The WCBB was our attempt at giving back to the climbing community that has given us so much. Dwayne Robertson, the owner of Rockzilla (also the man that instilled within me the idea that downgrading a climb is always better than upgrading one), is one of the biggest reasons climbing is what it is for me today. I’ve only been climbing for a little over four years, but Dwaye has been an integral part of each step I’ve taken in my climbing life along the way. Without getting too sentimental, this man is like a second father to me. Organizing this competition to show off his gym was my way of saying ‘Thank you’ to the man that taught me how to downgrade.

Last year’s event was a much greater success than we had anticipated. Climbers from all over the state showed up and kept the room filled with that sort of late-night-gym-session sort of psyche. The highlight (for me at least) was when Five Ten Athlete, Giovanni Traversi, walked through the doors. G. climbs at a gym not too far from Rockzilla, and came to Napa to put on a show. And that he did. Watching G. absolutely CRUSH in Finals was the most gratifying thing in the world to me. We did it. We got people psyched, we gave back to Dwanye, and we drank a lot of beer.
This year, we’re going hard: On-sight Finals, FREE beer, High Tech Burritos (for purchase), DJ, raffles, Giovanni Traversi, and wine, lots and lots of wine (courtesy of Robert Biale Vineyards). 
The WCBB began as a simple way of showing a great man that we care, and has evolved into something more applicable to the climbing community as a whole. What I intend to do with this event is draw in some of the best boulderers from the state, and eventually the country, in order to bring to the spotlight all the things we here at Rockzilla love about climbing. Spreading our love for climbing with the community is at the forefront of the WCBB’s mission. Every year we throw this event, we’ll grow and we’ll bring in new climbers. In order to do so, we need cash prize. However, if climbers like Giovanni Traversi, Dan Beall, Max Zolotukhin, Natasha Barnes, and Brian Hedrick decide to show up this year, the prize money will come. 
If you don’t already have something booked and you’re interested in climbing with some very happy and very psyched individuals, please come to Rockzilla’s 2nd Annual Wine Country Boulder Brawl on Saturday July 21st. Comp starts at 5. Beer will obviously be there. Oh yeah, one more thing, THE COMP IS FREE.
Joe Ramos (master of all things ‘video’) put together a promo vid. Check it.