I got grilled at the border crossing into Canada last week and I didn’t have the right answers to their questions so I had to go inside and talk to a border officer.
“Where are you from?” Um, I’m not sure, my truck says I’m from GA.
“How long will you be in Canada?” I don’t know, a month or two?
“Why do you want to go rock climbing in Squamish for two months?” Because that’s what I do?
They couldn’t understand what I was up to but luckily they let me in!
The weather has been pretty good since I’ve been here. It’s been in the 60′s and hasn’t rained too much. I wasn’t planning to come up here quite so soon but that’s how the journey goes, it’s often unexpected. I’ve been climbing, getting to know the area and some of the locals. I’ve been fortunate to hang out with Tim Clifford who lives in Squamish and works at blurr, one of my amazing sponsors. He’s been educating me on all sorts of things! When I told him I had been climbing for ten years he said, “Oh, so not that long then.” Would you believe he started climbing before I was born?! Just four years ago he established The Singularity, an as yet unrepeated V14 here in Squamish. He is a bit older than the average boulderer but still climbs harder than I do!
View from the Chief
My original plan was to be heading back to Atlanta within the next few weeks to spend time with my family and lock myself in a room to edit my movie! I will probably try to get most of my filming done here in June and hit the long road back East as planned. Alternatively I might try to stick around Squamish for most of the summer. It’s considerably colder here than Hotlanta, plus it’s beautiful and there is an abundance of bouldering! We shall see, I have been itching to actually have a home that doesn’t have four wheels so hopefully I can make that happen soon one way or the other!
My latest video is up on Deadpoint Mag! It was shot in Joe’s Valley in March and features a young lad by the name of Asher who is a delightfully talented and funny 16 year-old from Denver. His sister is the legendary Flannery (aka Flannigans). Please share the video with your friends and be sure to click the “Like” button below the video!
Since my former life with a home and a 9 to 5 job, a lot has happened! I have traveled to a lot of places, met amazing people in each place and I climbed a LOT of boulders! Here are a few stats from the past 1.5 years of my life:
- Miles traveled: 39,500 miles. 30,400 by air and 9,100 by car. For perspective, the circumference of the earth is less than 25,000 miles!
- Continents: 3
- Countries: 6
- States: 19
- Longest flight: 8,400 miles direct from Johannesburg to Atlanta. 16 hours in the air!
- $$ spent: ~$10,000 for the six month trip to Europe and South Africa. Haven’t tallied any US travel expenses yet.
- Boulders climbed: 1,500. Total guess based on 3 days a week climbing and 7 ascents per day (not necessarily new or hard ascents). I think this is the reason I feel a lot more comfortable on rock than when I started. I’m not climbing much harder but I’m more well rounded and technically proficient than when I started the trip!
- Double digit boulders climbed: 55
- Hard boulders climbed during two-month Fontainebleau trip: 1
- Time required to send first hard boulder in Switzerland: 2 hours
- Nights spent in a hotel: 5 (family sponsored!)
- Times stuck in the snow: 2
- Nights spent in the truck: 150
- V9′s flashed: 22
- Favorite part of traveling: the unexpected connections with people that change your course and experience
- Least favorite: not having a home
- Favorite area: Rocklands, South Africa
- Most impressive thing I have done: created 10,000+ hours of entertainment through bouldering videos watched in over 90 countries
- Biggest failure: The Vice V13, Rocklands. Hard compression was a new challenge for me! Projected for 10 or 11 days. Got through the cruxes on one of my last days but couldn’t pull it off!
- Time spent at McDonalds on the internet/editing video: way too much!
- Biggest mistake: renting a 35 year old beetle in South Africa!
- Places visited that I want to live: Bellinzona Switzerland, and Leavenworth Washington
- Favorite rock: South-East sandstone
- Most desperate moment: When some of my belongings ended up in my friends car when they left Rocklands to head home. I was left with no car, no tent, no sleeping bag, and no jacket! I was saved by the rad community of climbers living in Rocklands so it worked out fine but I felt alone for a minute there!
- Favorite boulder problem: Tie between Splash of Red V10 in Rocklands and Wet Dream V12 in Red Rocks Nevada
- Scariest send: Kill List V11, Joe’s Valley Utah. Sent 3rd try ground up and was not expecting it! Should have at least looked at the top on top-rope first! My fingers were going numb and I started to have an asthma attack topping out! ahh!
- Most epic send: Vecchio Leone V13. Sent with a hurt back, couldn’t stand up afterwards and went to the hospital the next morning! Honorable mention goes to Green in the Face V13 which was a huge mental battle to climb it by myself.
- Girls impressed by climbing V13: 0
When I started climbing I NEVER would have imagined my climbing would have progressed the way it has and I never would have imagined climbing would take me to such amazing places and given me so many great experiences. The reason I say that is to encourage everyone that you can do it too. If you want to climb V10 or grade X, put in the time and energy and I bet you can make it happen. I think the people that progress the quickest aren’t necessarily the most talented, they are the most motivated. If you climb a lot and you try HARD every time you pull on the rock then you’re on your way to your goal, whatever that may be. I would also encourage everyone to focus on more than a number goal. Numbers are a good indication of strength but don’t say much about technique or style which are at least as important as strength. I’m more impressed by someone that is well rounded and can climb consistently and look good doing it than someone who can occasionally bust off a harder climb. If you live in a place like Fontainebleau this will come easily due to the nature of the rock but if you mostly climb in the gym or in steep areas then you may have to go out of your way to get on a slab or techy climb.
The same applies for travel. Sometimes people get in the habit of dismissing a goal or dream because it seems unrealistic for them. If you want to go to Fontainebleau or South Africa, then make it happen! I’m not the most motivated person in the world, so if I can do it, so can you! Save up some money, make sacrifices if you have to. I’ve met a LOT of climbers that don’t make much money but they will live out of their van or truck during the year just so they can take that big trip to South Africa or Europe. Lots have been doing it year after year. They may not be the wealthiest people you know but they love to climb and travel so that’s what they do! Not everyone is willing to live out of their car but there is always a way to reach a goal.
Ok that’s enough advice for one blog post! Go climb! Go travel!
I haven’t updated in a while! I blame the North-West for that, it seems I have picked up some of the characteristics of the locals including being off the grid and not spending much time on climber blogs or news sites. The North-West climbing scene is a bit secluded; much like the South-East, it has it’s own culture with little influence from the national climbing scene.
I’ve been living in Leavenworth Washington for the better part of six weeks filming for Western Gold. The climbing here is fantastic and the people are even better. Leavenworth is a proper climbers’ town with an awesome community who call it their home. It didn’t take long to make friends here and I’ve been tempted to live here myself.
A few things I have noticed during my stay in Leavenworth:
- Everyone has proper technical climbing skills, it’s part of the nature of the climbing here. Much like Fontainebleau there are lots of slabs and vertical climbs that require more than strength for success.
- Grades aren’t much of a concern here.
- The locals always wear a chalkbag.
- A “slick foot” is a climb you can do in your tennies.
Leavenworth and the surrounding area has everything to offer from bouldering, sport & trad climbing, to skiiing, snowboarding, hiking, alpine climbing, mountain biking, and more. It’s an adventurous community, everyone is into at least one outdoor sport.
Enjoy a few stills from the movie!
Rob Lewis climbing 'Was'
My two rest days over the weekend were wholly uneventful, Sunday especially so. The only place to sit inside with wifi was closed and being 35 degrees and windy meant I spent most of the day in my truck reading and playing angry birds. Actually one thing did happen, I managed to run the battery in my truck dead since I was listening to music all day. I had enlist the help of Friendly Idahoan #2 to give me a jump.
Monday finally came and I had a slow morning waiting for it to warm up a bit before I started my hike out. After warming up I hiked up to the green wall.