Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Spray



First of all, it needs to be said that Cordless was not the first company to sell Crash Pads. That honor goes to the now defunct Kinnaloa back in the early 90's. But what Cordless can take credit for is developing a long-term plan to make bouldering gear viable for everybody involved; the manufacturer, the retailer and the climber.



See, in the mid-90's, no retailer would touch Crash Pads. So I figured the best option was to sell directly to the small but fanatic bouldering community. And at the time, that meant one place: Hueco Tanks. Specifically, Pete's parking lot (R.I.P. Pedro).

Hueco was the one place in the USA where boulderers from all over the country would visit, spent a few months and then go back to their local areas. So the idea was to introduce Cordless like a virus: infect a few and let them spread it. The guys who bought Cordless Pads brought them home, showed their friends, then those guys called up to get their own Pad.

Sounds simple, right? Not really, since Crash Pads were a fairly new idea, the price had to be low enough to entice people. So the first Cordless Pads went for $125 or $99 for the small size, but to make a decent margin, they should have been twice as much (at the time, the Kinnaloa Pads retailed for $210).

So what's with that plan I was talking about? We had a 5-year plan to develop Cordless and it's products that went like this: every year, we would raise the retail price about $10 or $15 as the popularity of Crash Pads increased. That means a retailer would also be making more money and our production would become more efficient.

By about 2001, we had gotten there. Cordless and the other major Pad manufacturer at the time, Metolius, had brought bouldering gear from about zero to a multi-million dollar branch of the climbing industry in less than 5 years.

At that time, Cordless accounted for about 90% of those sales. The entire intent was to continue improving the products, which in turn add more viability and enjoyment to bouldering itself by providing a high quality, safe landing area. But then, certain douche-bags who had never supported the bouldering community saw the potential to benefit from it.

And how did they do that? By repeating their specialty; copying a popular product, making a sub-par knock-off and undercutting the originator by a few dollars. In this case, it wasn't just one item, but our entire line.

But hey, that's life.

Some notes on the new Pads

Hey Everybody,

So if you scroll down this page, you’ll notice that this is the first post we have done in about 30 months! I’m not really on the ball with this whole blog thing, obviously. But since there’s only about 7 or 8 of you who will read this, I don’t have to spread my apologies too far.

Last Sunday was the 18th anniversary of Cordless and it’s spawn/brethren Revolution Climbing. For more info on what happened on September 1st, 1995, you can check out this previous post, because we’re going to talk about something else today.

This post is not about me getting all nostalgic, I’m here to explain something more important: the 2014 line of Revolution Crash Pads. This may be a longer discussion, addressed in a few future blog posts, but we can at least get started here.


In describing these new Crash Pads, the first thing we should start off with is the foam and the fold. Yes, it is possibly the most boring aspect for those of you who are not total nerds about this, like I am. But since a Crash Pad’s main use is for padding and security, it is the most important.

Every Crash Pad has some manner of folding in half...except for those tiny foot-mat Pads or super big-ass gym Pads, of course. No matter what anyone says, the safest Crash Pad fold is the one-piece Taco fold. Period, end-of-story. Yes, the hinged Pads are easier to close, I can’t deny that. But the subject here is safety, not convenience. I don’t care if it’s a hybrid taco/hinge design, or angled foam fold or whatever, if there is a gap anywhere in those foam pieces, then it is a weakness in the landing area. Sorry to put it out there like that, but that’s how it is.

This problem is less evident when a hinged Pad is on perfectly flat ground, but once the Pad is folded or bent at all, the weakness becomes more prevalent. And when was the last time you went bouldering at an area as flat and smooth as a football field?


But that’s not to say that standard Taco-folding or Burrito-folding Pads are perfect. They have some distinct faults, too. Before we address those issues, I would like to suggest that all Crash Pad fold designs should be named after tasty Mexican dishes. We already have the “Taco-fold” and the “Burrito-fold”, I suggest that the “Hybrid-fold” should be called the “Enchilada-fold” from now on.


As I was saying, Taco-folds are great, but they ain’t perfect. The main problem is what happens to the top layer of foam. Since that top layer is the thinner, firmer and more dense layer of foam, it is harder to fold in half because of it’s higher density. And that top layer is on the inside of the fold; it has a smaller area in which it must bend. This is difficult to verbally describe, so let’s just show you a photo.


Because the fabric shell of the Crash Pad constrains the foam and does not allow anywhere for those ends to go, there are two things that happen; the foam ether extends over the ends of the thick piece of foam (like the photo above), or it buckles/ripples in the center of the fold (like the photo below).


So, how can you have the security of a one-piece, Taco folding Crash Pad without the warping of the top layer of foam? It took years of me asking myself this question before it hit me: Put the firm foam on the outside of the fold…. DUH!


That answer is fairly obvious; since the firm sheet of foam is on the outside of the fold, it allows a larger folding radius for that foam, therefore the ends don't stick out beyond the softer foam and there's none of the tight “pinching” areas on the inside. However, there is one problem…

If the firm sheet of foam (the landing side of the Pad) is on the outside of the fold, then the backpack straps would also be on that side of the fold. So now you have a bunch of straps and buckles and stuff where you’ll be landing. And that’s a problem; introducing a bunch of stuff to potentially trip on or tangle up your feet on the landing area.

We were confronted with this dilemma on the first Crash Pad to introduce this “reverse-Taco-fold” design; the 2000 Cordless Evel Pad. It was 5” thick overall and had 1/2 “ of Crosslink PE foam as the top landing layer. Although the “reverse-Taco-fold” was a great idea, I was too dumb (or drunk) to think of how to include the backpack set-up. So the result was just fold-it-in-half-and-carry-it-like-a-giant-purse. Considering that even when folded, the Evel Pad was four and a half feet by three feet, that was a totally bad idea.


Simple? Yes. Inconvenient and cumbersome? Oh Hell Yes. But at least the foam didn’t warp.

For the 2001 Evel Pad, we did the same “reverse-Taco-fold” design AND we included a backpack set-up, but we made the shoulder straps removable, so when you landed you would not be (potentially) tangled up in the straps.

Again, this was not my shining moment in design; to make the straps easily removable, we simply threaded one big strap through some webbing to make the shoulder strap. Since the strap was not attached securely to anything, the whole damn Pad would shift and wobble around on your back. And considering that Pad was 54 inches long, 11 cubic feet total and about 20 lbs. empty, that’s a lot of wobbling.


By the early 2000’s we put the refinements to the “reverse-Taco-fold” on hold, since we had some six-figure problems to deal with instead. But the resurrection of this concept came from one of our old crew.

Remember that dilemma we were talking about five paragraphs ago? Y’know, the one about reverse-Taco-folds being good for the foam, except they expose the pack area on the landing side? Well, Ben Moon and his designers came up with the answer that is so simple and obvious that I wanted to smack myself in the face: Just cover the Pack straps, dumb ass!



(As a side note, I want it to mention that I have no problem acknowledging and giving credit to the design advancements of others. Since I have had so many of my designs and products ripped off by half-assed Wal-Mart companies, I want to give credit to people who are actually trying to take things forward, instead of those companies making retrograde, shitty knock-offs.)

Anyway, the simple genius of the Moon Pads is the introduction of a flap to the “reverse-Taco-fold”. Yes, closure flaps have been around for years, but the Moon flap solved three necessities; covering the Pack area when open, enclosing/covering the bottom gap when closed, and providing a rug to clean off your shoes. You might think that a cleaning rug is not really a necessity, but that means you have obviously never been bouldering in Muddy Olde England.


But in my opinion, one of the faults of having a bottom flap (which converts to cover the pack) is that it almost requires the Backpack straps to be mounted lower than usual, creating a Crash Pad that rides a little too high on your back and throws off it’s center of gravity.

It could also be argued that closing the side is a little more important than the bottom, since it is a larger opening, and therefore more difficult and more important to close or cover, although gravity would naturally pull your stuff out the bottom first, not the side. But we’re getting overly nerdy at this point. They both work well.

Instead of a bottom flap, the 2014 Revolution Crash Pads have a side flap that covers the side gap when closed. When the Pad is open and ready for business, the side flap reverses to cover the Pack area and it provides a big shoe-cleaning carpet/rug, covering the width of the Pad. What holds that flap/rug in place? Tough, secure 3 inch wide strips of Velcro, that’s what.


But a side flap/pack cover allows us a larger carpet area and lot more potential on the backpack straps. Both the Mission Pad and the Cannon Pad have height-adjustable shoulder straps, so climbers of all sizes can modify the Pad for a better ride.



We also modified the hip belt this year. We’ve had a padded hip belt on our larger Pads for the last couple years, but we had complaints from the XL and XS peoples. Big guys said that the belt did not cover enough acreage, and the wee lil’ ones could cinch the belt all the way down and still have too much slack.

So instead of a big one-piece padded belt, we have moveable pads on the belt. This way, you can adjust and move the pads back & forth, so it rides right on the hips regardless if you’re some freakish giant or a dainty pixie.



Since we’re on the subject of the Pack set-up, the “reverse-Taco-fold” design also solves another problem that might not be obvious: because the Pack straps are on the landing side, they’re not facing the ground. Which means the Pack area will not get covered with mud, snow, sand, etc. and then transfer all that shit to your back when you put it on.

It also means that there are no straps that can potentially get caught on rocks, stumps, plants, etc. on the ground. This may seem like a minor point compared to the one discussed above, but when you’re trying to move a Pad while spotting someone and the Pad gets caught on something, this minor point becomes a major one.



In fact, have a look at the back side (ground side) of our Pads. What do you see? Nothing? Exactly.

Just a large, uninterrupted piece of burly 1680 d. Ballistic Nylon. No straps to get caught on anything, no seams or stitches to gradually erode, just tough-ass fabric. So in this case, nothing is actually something…. that sounds like something Buddha would say.


So that’s it for now. Yes, that was a long-winded speech/diatribe/rant/tirade about the subtle aspects of Crash Pad design and I’m sure many of you would be more entertained reading the phone book. I think if you’ve made it this far, you deserve some kind of prize.

But as dull as it might seem, this shit is important. Ideas, concepts, improvements and innovations are what keep this industry, this community and most importantly this sport, advancing (is climbing really a sport? Game, pastime, hobby, habit, divertment? Let’s work on that next).

Hexes, Friends, sticky rubber, artificial holds, Crash Pads… these were not only new pieces of gear, they helped, or even forced, climbing itself to evolve and expand.

Thanks to all those people who do that work.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What more can I say?

Yes, I know it's been 5 months since I wrote anything on this blog. I update it with the same frequency as I wash my dishes.

But this time, we have something more important to say than my usual ramblings. It is in regards to a recent advertisement in the latest issue of Deadpoint Magazine.



I've had the idea for this ad rolling around in my head for some time now. For some reason, it's "verboten" in the climbing industry to call bullshit on other companies products, even if they are blatant, low quality knock-offs. But after reading an impassioned Facebook post by my man (and former Cordless sponsored climber) Josh Helke, I figured the time was right.

I called up Josh, told him the idea, and he started buggin out. Like sending me 4 emails in about 5 minutes. I talked to Matt at Deadpoint, expecting some hesitation on his part, but he basically dared me to do it.

So why do this ad now? Let me put it in context...

A few years ago at an OR Show in Salt Lake, I told Walson at Flashed that I was glad he developed and introduced his Air Pad (I forget the name of it). He said they were not getting a lot of sales for it, people are complaining about the price, etc.

I told him what is more important is that you actually did it. Even if you only sold one, at least you have the balls to try something new and innovative. Which is far more than can be said of the largest companies in this industry.

Yes, Flashed is a competitors of ours, so why was I glad that they developed and introduced this product? Because it raises the bar for the rest of us. It means the standards have gone up for companies who actually give a fuck about making quality bouldering gear. It means that new climbers have options other than the Wal-Mart bullshit from Mad Rock or Black Diamond.

Same thing goes for Josh at Organic. I'll say this right now: even though I am in direct competition with Organic, they do not have a bigger fan. Except for maybe Liz, Josh's wife. But I'm sure even she get sick of his crazy ass. For reals, ask Josh who has brought in more sales in the last year than Yours Truly.

Why? Because ever since Cordless' start in 1995, we have had a much larger goal than just making widgets and earning money. We believe in making the highest quality products we can for the sport we love. We believe in developing bouldering in this manner, same as scrubbing down and sending new blocks.

In that sense, all these companies are doing this for a cause much larger than ourselves. Weather it's me, or Organic or Flashed or some new company that is just getting started, I have a ton of respect for anybody who will not compromise or sell-out.

Unfortunately, that is becoming harder and harder to do these days.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

2011 Mission Crash Pad

First of all, let’s start off with a little spray from our current catalog:

“CRASH PADS

This is our forte. Nobody has developed more innovations to bouldering gear than our team of designers. We have introduced some 60 different Crash Pad models for five companies over the years, more than everyone else combined.

The burrito fold, the taco fold, reverse folds, the hinge/taco combo fold, closure flaps, full suspension pack systems, XXL highball pads, lightweight ‘circuit’ pads, upholstery tops, almost all of the standards, benchmarks and advancements have come from this small, dedicated crew.

That would be enough for us to sit back and rest on our laurels. But we have no intention of doing that. In fact, we have some more design breakthroughs in the works; we’re just sorting out some of the fine points. Just wait and see.”


And with that, we would like to introduce the Revolution 2011 Mission Pad.



This little blog post is mostly writing and a few photos, not as many crude jokes and Photoshoppery as I usually include. I'll throw in a little humor, but please try to stay awake...

For those of you who’ve been keeping up to date on Crash Pad designs over the years (which means almost nobody), you may have noticed that I like to redesign the Revolution line on an annual basis. Those changes usually mean better foam, different closure systems, more versatile carrying systems or maybe just new colors.

But this year, we’re doing a big change to our two most popular Crash Pads, The Mission and The Commando. For anybody who’s been bouldering for a fair amount of time, you probably recognize that the “taco” fold is the safest design for a Crash Pad, as it does not have any built-in weakness, gaps or hinges down the center of the Pad.

But taco folds do have some faults, most of them aesthetic. Since the stiff foam is on the top of the foam layers, it’s on inside of the fold. That makes folding the Pad a little more difficult. Also, the top layer of foam can develop a warp or a slight crease, meaning the Pad never fully lays flat unless you bend it the other way first. And if you’re using a very firm foam on top, it can lead to the corners of the Pad “tweeking” out a little bit when folded.



To keep the landing surface completely clear, the backpack straps are on the outside of the fold. But that means the backpack area will be facing the ground. This is not really a big deal if you’re in dry areas like Bishop or Hueco, but if you’re in a rainy area like England, your back will eventually be covered in mud from carrying the Pad.



And chicks don’t want to hang out with grimy, muddy bastards…. so now you see the problem.

In 1999, I came up with a potential solution to this problem with the Cordless Evel Pad. It had a “reverse taco fold”; meaning the top stiff layer of foam was on the outside of the fold. And the shoulder straps were removable, so there would be no obstructions on the landing area. But it wasn’t perfect.

So for the last few months, I’ve been wanting to work with the “reverse taco” design again, but I couldn’t think up a way to keep the pack area off the ground and still have a landing area that was clean, clear and ready for business.

But somebody else did figure it out. And due to the previously described mud dilemma, it makes sense that the idea came from the UK.

The crew at Moon Climbing came up with a solution to this problem that is so simple and obvious, that I feel like an idiot for not thinking of it first: The bottom flap is the pack area. Duh!

(side note: unlike certain douche-bag companies that are content with only biting other people’s designs and contributing zero to the bouldering world, I prefer to give credit and support where it’s due: Nice one, Ben.)

The backpack set-up of the new Mission Pad consists of 3/8 inch (1cm) thick padded shoulder straps with metal buckles and an adjustable 2 inch (5cm) wide hip belt. The shoulder straps are removable and adjustable for climbers of different height, ranging from torso lengths of 15 inches (37cm) to 23 inches (58cm).

Here’s our male model Johnny showing of the latest in fall fashions with his Zoolander inspired look “Sleepy Magnum”…



See that silver ring and strap behind his head? That’s what pulls in the top and bottom flaps. Just one strap goes from the top flap, through the ring and attaches again to the top flap. The ring acts like a pulley to keep the tension on both flaps. And it’s all hooked together with a single metal buckle.



Since the stiff foam is on the outside of the taco fold, the corner “tweeking” has been eliminated, which means the sides and corners meet with a tighter, cleaner fold.



And if you didn’t notice in the above photo, the flaps are in opposition; the side flap closes on the opposite side of the Pad as the top and bottom flaps.



Big deal, you say? Well, here’s the benefit; with almost all other Crash Pads that are available, the top, bottom and side flaps are all dependent on each other to close up the Pad, that's if they have any closure flaps at all.

Having the flaps close independently from each other means just one buckle can close up the Pad, for a short stroll between boulder problems or a quick approach. It also means you’ll have an easier time stuffing all your gear inside.

So what about the whole “keeping-the-backpack-area-dry-and-clean" or "keeping-the-landing-area-open” situation? Here’s the answer: the top and bottom flaps can hook together on either the top or bottom side of the Pad.

If you don’t mind the backpack laying on the ground, hook it up like this…



… or if you prefer to have it out of the dirt, hook it up on the top side…



… or if you think both of those methods totally suck, there’s a third option. Just roll up the bottom flap/backpack thingy…



… and take the built-in Velcro strip to cinch down the roll (by the way, the Velcro strip is behind the flap/pack, so you won’t even notice it when it’s not in use)…



… and there you go, the whole thing is out of the way and will stay dry and clean. It’s even been suggested that this backpack/bottom flap rig would work great as a clean area for sit-down starts, but that’s up to you.



Yes, I know that this means 1 or 2 extra steps to get your Pad all prepared for a super-kick-ass bouldering session. But trust us, it's worth it.

The 2011 Revolution Mission Pad
is 48" x 41" and 3.5" thick (122cm x 104cm x 9cm), same dimensions we've been rolling with since 1995. The new photos and info will be on the website in the next few days. We're starting production on these rigs in about a week, so feel free to contact us with any questions you might have. And your credit card number.

And for all you guys in the E.U., Norway, Japan and Australia who need to get hooked up with the best bouldering gear in the world, get at these guys:

Friction Walls (Scandinavia)
Crux Co. (Japan)
Big John (Australia)
and our Euro office, Revolution Climbing EU

Thanks Everybody, and say no to drugs!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Quinceañera!!!

For those of you who don't know what a Quinceañera is, it means a 15th birthday party. No, it's not for me, I'm way, way, past 15. But if I were a 15-year-old Mexican girl celebrating my Quinceañera, it would look like this...



Pretty creepy, huh? I promise you will have nightmares about that photo.

Like I was saying, the party wasn't for me, it was for the climbing company that changed everything. September 1st, 2010 was the 15th anniversary of Cordless.



I was going to post this yesterday, but I figured that it could wait until today because:

A - We decided to go climbing instead of banging away at a computer.
B - There's only like 12 people who read this anyway
C - I haven't posted anything in eight and a half months, so what's one more day?

That's right. 15 years ago, I bought a used Husquavarna sewing machine, a few yards of Cordura and about 40 cubic feet of foam. The rest, as they say, is history.



For those of you who know anything about these machines, it's not a walking foot but it can take bonded nylon thread. This little bastard stitched up at least 100 Crash Pads before I stepped up to a true industrial machine.

So with an initial investment of about 300 or 400 bucks in machines, fabric and foam, we built a multi-million dollar, world-wide industry and changed the climbing scene forever. Not bad, huh?



And I've still got one of those Pads right here in the shop. Technically, this one is Cordless Pad #4, as I sold Pad #3 and the first two were so shitty-looking that I popped the stitches and re-used the foam.

Anyway, yesterday we decided to go out to Little Cottonwood and take part in my two favorite things: a little bouldering session and a half-case of beer.



About a half-dozen of the extended family came out...



... and a few of them thought that crimpy problems in 85 degree heat are fun...



... which is totally stupid. But a good time was had by all, regardless.

So this one's for all of you who have helped contribute to what we have collectively built together since '95: We've taken bouldering from an unrecognized, unappreciated part of the climbing world and turned it into the scene's most popular arena. I want to give all of you my deepest gratitude. What we have accomplished will be appreciated long after we're gone.



On the flip side, I want to give a hearty Fuck You to the companies and people who are diluting the climbing world with low quality knock-offs of Cordless gear and generally treating bouldering not as a genuine, valid and viable activity, but merely as a marketing and branding opportunity. And if you need me to spell it out more clearly: Black Diamond can eat a fat dick.

Instead of getting all weepy and long-winded about who we are, where we've come from and where we're going, the best way for me to sum up the last 15 years is to include the photo and intro speech from our latest catalog...



"Here’s a photo of a shoddy one-car garage at the end of a dirt alley in Bend, Oregon. Big deal, right? To us it is a big deal, because this is where it all started. This was the Cordless shop from 1995 to 1997. And what came out of that sorry-looking hovel built an entire industry.

We didn’t start making bouldering gear because there was a ton of money in it or because there was a huge, international market. Just the opposite was true; back then, bouldering was a raw, fanatic, underground movement and we were initially ridiculed for believing that it would become anything bigger or better than that.

We did it because we saw a much larger potential, something that would take years to develop. We didn’t view the bouldering scene for what it was at the time, but what it could be. Sometimes, you have to look beyond what currently exists and see the larger picture, the massive possibilities.

Fifteen years.

We’ve been making bouldering gear for a decade and a half, longer than anybody else in the game, with more highs and lows than we can remember. But even in the worst of times, one thing has stayed the same: our devotion. Never give up and never sell out.

We don’t want to bore you with one of those “back in the day” stories. We’re all about taking things forward. This year, we are consolidating two exceptional product lines under one roof. Revolution and Pusher are now part of The Cordless Group, a collective that is dedicated to designing and producing the highest quality climbing gear worldwide.

Along with our production in North America, we have developed our European branch, Revolution/Pusher EU, to hook up all you guys on the other side of the Atlantic. We’re franchising like McDonald’s, baby.

Although it’s all too common today, we refuse to dilute the climbing world with shitty knock-offs and mass-produced junk made in some third world sweatshop. All of our products are made locally, if not specifically in-house. Same goes for the Euro crew. Local manufacturing allows us to dramatically lower our carbon footprint, maintain exceptional quality control and quickly introduce new products.

In every little intro speech we’ve written since ‘95, we have finished it with two simple words. We put it down there because we want you to know that the only reason we are still around is because of you. And you are the only reason we got into this gig in the first place. We hope you’ll understand that we sincerely mean this:

Thank You"

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Great Debate

So once again, it's been a month since I've written anything. I'm really starting to screw up this whole Blog thing. But now I'm making up for that lost time by resolving some of the most pressing issues of our time. Read on.....

COKE VS. PEPSI



Coke is better than Pepsi. Always has been. So there, it's settled. Shut the fuck up, Pepsi. Now we can finally end the stupidest debate in human history.

CAKE VS. PIE



This is a very tricky topic, but one who's answer is easy to rationalize: Cake tastes good because it's made with a lot of sugar. Pie tastes good because it's made with a lot of sugar AND a lot of butter. Therefore, Pie is better.

And this is based on a side by side comparison, both being served individually at room temperature. If one were to heat up the Pie and add Ice Cream, the Pie's superiority is magnified by a factor of 50. Whereas, heating up Cake is just plain disgusting and adding Ice Cream to it makes the Cake a sloppy mess.

Another thing to consider is the special events or occasions these two desserts are served at: Cake is usually served at birthdays or weddings, events about "me". Pie on the other hand is served at Thanksgiving and family picnics, events about "us". So Cake is a narcissistic jerk.



Finally, I have to give credit where it's due: this topic was started by my man Josh Helke at Organic. He even dedicated a T-Shirt to this grand query. Evidently, he has a lot of spare time.



FONTAINEBLEAU VS. HUECO TANKS



Ooooooooh, something about climbing. I know that this is an old-school debate, since better bouldering areas have been found in South Africa and New Zealand. But who wants to sit on an airplane for 37 hours to find out how much more bitchen' those places are? Not me. I'm containing this argument to Font v. Hueco.

Much of this depends on what style of climbing you prefer. Super-steep, powerful moves on little edges or more vert-angled, technical climbing on massive slopers.

And both areas have obvious drawbacks; Would you prefer to sit around and wait for the rare occasion when it stops raining (Fontainebleau) or would you rather pay a guide and get treated like a fucking 10-year-old on a field trip to the local Zoo (Hueco Tanks)?

But there is one thing that these two areas have in common: Although they are both populated by climbers I want to hang out with, they are both surrounded by people that annoy the shit out of me: Texans and French people.

TEXANS VS. FRENCH PEOPLE



I know that putting a picture of Bush next to De Gaulle is going to piss off a lot of French people, like putting a picture of Stalin next to the Dalai Lama. By the way, what would Stalin vs. Lama look like?



The Lama is a nice guy and all, but Stalin had the kick-ass Burt Reynolds moustache, so The Bandit wins.



But this whole "Texans vs. French People" debate is a little too complex. So let's simplify this debate even more...

COWBOY HATS VS. BERETS



One hat says: "I'm an ignorant dip-shit who voted for Dubya, twice". The other hat says: "I'm a pretentious douche-bag who reads his own poetry out loud".

By the way, did you know that "douche" means "shower" in French? Something to think about...

But I think that we can find some middle ground on this, if one were to find combination of these two annoying hats into one hat that nobody likes: Police Hats.



Taaaaa-Daaaaa! (or as the French say: Viola')

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Some old stuff...

I've been going through some old stuff on my computer, and I found this Article I wrote for Urban Climber Magazine a few years back. This is the unedited version, the mag didn't want me to use the "F-Word". Read on...

Imagination and independent thought are not highly regarded these days. We are generally expected to shut up, stand in line and follow the rules. Six years of Republican administrations will do that to you. There’s not a lot of free fun any more. Oh, you wanna have fun, do ya? Then buy a ticket, get on the ride and pay $4 a gallon to find some fun, chump. Fun is now a commodity, unless you can find it for yourself. But with the right eyes, you won’t have to look too far.

When I was a little grom, skipping school to climb at Smith Rock, I walked past a woman strolling down the river trail who gave me, from her perspective, a valuable piece of information: “Why are you going to climb that, don’t you know there’s a trail that goes to the top?” Being a wise-ass, I probably responded with “Wow, thanks for the info, old lady” and kept walking. For some reason, I’ve never forgotten the example of her shortsightedness, but it does bring up a good point; Climbing as we practice it today is an abstraction. If getting to “the top” of something were the only goal, then you could take a mellow 3-hour hike to the summit of El Cap instead of spending 3 days banging away at the wall. The top of Midnight Lightning can be attained via tree, so why waste time on a boulder problem?

Climbing is more like an art form than a sport. It’s one of those rare things that are completely open to your own interpretation and practice. It’s different than other sports-like-activities in that there are no distinct measurements of achievement. There are no rebounds, RBIs or rushing yards. There are no assigned positions like halfback, point guard or pitcher. There are no set playing fields, time limits or regulation goal heights.

Some people focus on the difficulty aspect of climbing, others aim towards boldness or speed and some people just climb for fun. Some climbers spend months in the Himalayas and others spend months on a two-move boulder problem. Whatever it is, do your thing. Don’t let anybody dictate what “real climbing” is.

In that vein, you only need to look at Skateboarding for a progressive, innovative mentality towards a sport to truly realize it’s potential. In the 80’s, it was all about riding pools and half-pipes, structures designed or adapted specifically for skateboarding, until the evolution of street-style-skating. At that moment, the whole world became a skate park; everything could be ridden.

In the early 90’s, a group of Skateboarders in Portland started one of the most ambitious do-it-yourself projects in recent history. Looking for a dry and harassment-free place to skate in rainy PDX, this crew rounded up some concrete and shovels and made their way underneath a downtown bridge. Those first few banks and ramps were the foundation of what is now the Burnside Skate Park, a massive selection of terrain that is known world-wide, immensely respected within the skating community and built entirely by volunteers with their own money.

Most of us have saved up cash to visit some super-bitchin’ climbing area hundreds of miles away. Plenty of us have built little torture chambers out of plywood and plastic to stay fit. But you only need to look around you to see that we are surrounded by rock, a man-made rock called concrete.

When people talk about recycling, they use terms like “pre or post-consumer waste”, meaning the creative use of what most people throw away. Buildering is possibly the best use of massive consumer waste for the purpose of fun. By definition, it is recycling; by turning a huge, bland, soul-less piece industrial stone into an object of entertainment, challenge, diversion or whatever you want. It’s creating a use and a destination from dead space.

To borrow from a famous boulder problem in the Gunks, have a look at these man-made crags with “A New Pair of Glasses” to see what could be possible: The steep angles underneath bridges, parking lot ramps and stairs, the massive rounded bulges on freeway supports and the ubiquitous, clean-cut 90 degree arêtes on the corners of every building…the same cool features we look for at climbing areas.

This wide world of concrete is a blank canvas for climbers. But “blank” is not a good thing when you’re trying to climb. And so just as an artist steps to a canvas with his paints, the chemical gods have granted us with our own medium: epoxy.

Say you’ve found a steep angled wall that’s devoid of anything to hang onto. Any glued-on little nugget, edge, chunk, blob or pebble can potentially be used to turn a grey, lifeless, overhanging slab into a burly array of routes. The most barren arête, boring vertical wall or lame corner can become a masterpiece of technical moves, all thanks to our friends in the industrial adhesive business.

The potential of what could be done is nuts. Think about it. A handful of rocks, a $3 tube of epoxy and a wall of concrete is all you need. Every shitty industrial part of every town could have it’s own bouldering area. Places that are devoid of rock could become destinations. Lincoln, Nebraska could be the next Bishop, California. OK, that’s a big stretch of the imagination, but you get the idea.

The good news is the best potential places for such a project are located in areas that attract the least amount of attention. Chances are, the spaces around giant retaining walls and huge bridge pillars are not the best pieces of real estate in town, so your presence would be less conspicuous than trying to press out a mantel on top of the neighborhood 7-11.

So what’s the main obstacle to creating something like this? To sum it up in one word, it would have to be: Validation. If you’ve read this far and you have some comprehension of what we’re discussing, you probably have figured out that this is not entirely acceptable or 100% legal, as far as the larger community is concerned. There will be people who consider it vandalism, trespassing, etc. There will be people who have no interest or understanding of climbing, and even less of a willingness to try and understand and appreciate it. There is no easy answer to dealing with these people. The best method is to treat them with gentle respect and pity, because these sad fucks are already dead inside.

But finding validation within the climbing community itself could be an obstacle. Every new aspect of climbing is invariably met with some kind of resistance. This is the same mentality that derided John Bachar for bolting on hooks, slandered Alan Watts for working out moves by hang-dogging and thought that John Gill was wasting his talents by just bouldering. This myopic view of what climbing is and where climbing should be has rarely created anything of progress, so why bother with seeking their acceptance?

What we do is hard to describe and even harder to contain into a singular interpretation of climbing. It grows and evolves without eliminating any of preceding forms of climbing. There is a massive amount of potential that is all around us, if you know how to find it.