Monday, February 18, 2013

Rockstars in Movement

You saw it here first... dropping it to the rest of the internet on tuesday! WOOHOOO! FS700 WOOHOOO!!! DJI Phantom WOOHOO!!!  

Rockstars in the Movement from Cedar Wright on Vimeo.

Winter in Boulder

Here is a fun piece shot by Keith Ladzinski and myself.   In the process of the edit, I realized that I really wanted a Sony FS700 and recently took the plunge and got one.

 Winter in Boulder Colorado, with Cedar Wright and Gus the All Terrain Pug. from BlueWater Ropes on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

China's First Ever Trad Climbing Festival

Liming logo
A couple of months ago I attended China’s first ever Trad-Climbing Festival in the small village of Li Ming with fellow athletes and good friends Matt Segal, and Yuji Hirayama.  Matt had visited Li Ming the year before and established “Air China,” the hardest trad-climb in China, and roped me into the trip.  “Dude you are going to love it their,” he told me.  I’m always game for something new and adventurous, but was skeptical.  As far as I was concerned the only good sandstone crack climbing was in the U.S.
Li Ming is located in a river valley surrounded by wild red and black streaked Sandstone walls and happens to have hundreds of cracks of all sizes splitting through the steep towering walls.   The terrain is reminiscent of Zion, Arches National Park, and Indian Creek, if you mashed them together with the sensibilities of a Buddhist landscape artist, and then dropped the amalgam into a mountainous high altitude jungle.
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I first visited China for climbing about eight years ago to visit Yangshuo, the premiere limestone sport climbing area in China.  I was excited to see a budding Chinese climbing community that was still finding its legs, and “learning the ropes.”   Returning this year I was impressed by how quickly the climbing community has grown and progressed in China.  Not only were are ten times as many competent climbers as my last visit, but many had graduated from sport climbing, to the more technical and committing world of gear protected Trad-Climbing.
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Three years ago there was no climbing in Li Ming to be heard of!  American Mike Dobie was one of the first climbers to realize the epic potential of Li Ming and has spent the last three years leading the charge to develop what may be China’s best Trad-Climbing resource.   Mike, put up countless routes, established trails, and made a guidebook.  With the area opened, word caught on in the Chinese climbing community.  Soon, the Chinese were putting down their quickdraws and putting together racks of Cams for burly crack climb assaults!
Pioneer Mike Dobe

For Mike this years Li Ming Trad-Climbing festival jointly sponsored by The North Face, and Black Diamond was a emotional and cathartic experience.  Over two hundred climbers from around the world showed up to climb on the routes that he had developed.  “Sometimes I wondered if I was crazy to spend so much energy on this project,” he told me one evening, “but seeing everyone enjoying the climbs here makes it feel like it was all worth it!”  Yuji, Matt and I all agreed that Mike’s time was well spent!
Cedar Cranking
I lead two days of intermediate crack climbing clinics, and was impressed by the enthusiasm of my group.  Most of them were sport climbers but they seemed much more open to trying something new than most American sport climbers.  I think because China is a young climbing community there are less preconceived notions of a separation between sport and trad that have developed over time in the U.S.  To them it’s all just climbing. 
Festival Cear and Yuji
I put up several burly offwidth climbs for them to practice on.  Offwidths are considered by many to be the most physically demanding and miserable form of climbing in existence.   I think offwidth climbing takes, heart and grit.  Most American climbers avoid offwidths like the plague, so it was heart warming to see my motley crew of Chinese climbers throwing themselves at this unique type of challenge with boundless enthusiasm. 
Local Climber
Almost all of the good sandstone crack climbing is in the United states, so the fact that China now has what I would consider a world-class crack climbing destination is huge for Chinese climbers, but also for Eastern European climbers who now have a way practice this unique art form much closer to their homes!  And Li Ming is only about twenty percent developed, with many side valleys that have yet to see first ascents, so crack climbing only just beginning in China!
Yuji Hirayama
In America the routes of our climbing history are in trad-climbing and while I believe it’s all just climbing, there is a special place in my hear for trad-climbing.  It requires more expertise, commitment and risk, and therefore I believe yields a deeper and more meaningful reward than sport climbing.  To put it simply, Trad-Climbing is more adventurous.  To put it colloquially, Trad-Climbing is more badass!
Wild Cracks
Because China is still a developing country, especially in terms of climbing, there are literally hundreds of world-class crags waiting for a motivated soul to develop.  In the United States several generations of climbers have left few crags left to pioneer, but in China a country with as much land and variety of terrain as the U.S.A.!   It is truly a climbers frontier of mind boggling proportions. 
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I’m already planning my next trip back to China to travel deeper into the beautiful and in terms of climbing, unexplored country. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Diamond Meditations

Welcome to an experimental piece shot over a few days camped out at the Diamond on Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park. I composed the song with this piece in mind. Big thanks to Joe Mills my climbing partner for this three days in the mountains, who is always psyched for adventure.

  Most of the on climb footage was shot on my Iphone 4s, and the on ground footage and timelapses were shot on a 5d mark iii.

Poetry in Order of Reading
The Mountain, by Emily Dickinson
On Beauty, by Kahil Gibran
Excerpt from Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu
Alone Looking At The Mountain, by Li Po
This Is How Your Mind Is, by Foyan

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Props to the Homies!!!

So I checked again, and I'm still one of the luckiest guys in the world!  Not only am I now a married man, but I've got a bride who thinks it's it imperative that I continue to live my dreams and travel.  I thought I'd feature some videos put together by my friends featuring yours truly!  Below is a video put together by John Dickey for Black Diamond that gives you a peak into my world!   

Below is a video put together by a local Chilean filmmaker that features some pretty cool bouldering footage of myself Yuji, Honnold, and some local rock stars crushing! Stay tuned for a film I am working on that shows some of the other wild adventures that Honnold and I shared while down South. 

Friday, April 27, 2012


All of these photos are screen shots from a short film I am working on called “High Contrast” that chronicles my adventures last march in Chile with Alex Honnold.  This will be a pretty experimental piece that juxtaposes the city against the countryside and weaves together mine and Alex’s thoughts on human consumption and our impact on the environment.  Not that I don’t love editing together climbing porn, but I’m excited to be working on something a little more original.
I had just gotten off the phone with Alex Honnold. I knew Alex before he was the most famous climber in the universe, and I think he finds it grounding to connect with some of his buddies from those pre-rockstar days. Alex was a little lost and depressed when I talked to him. He had just broken up with his girlfriend, and was wondering what direction his life should take...with his overarching goal being CLIMB CLIMB CLIMB.

In the aftermath of his breakup he went on a soloing binge in Zion and onsight soloed Shune's Buttress, and topped out in a snowstorm. Part of the reason that Alex is such a great soloist is because he has such a high thresh hold for what he considers a "BIG DEAL." In fact after climbing quite a bit in the Czech Republic, with alex, I had nicknamed him "No Big Deal" because he had a way of downplaying all accomplishments, dangers, and close calls, yours or his. I knew that Shunes had been balls to the wall because he made it sound like a bit of a big deal. He topped out in a snow storm and then soloed a thousand feet of fifth class slabs covered in snow... at one point he found himself sliding down a gropple coated face, but stuck a grassy ledge.
Fame is a funny thing, and has a way of making life easier and more difficult at the same time, and over the last couple years I've watched Alex adjust to and even enjoy the deserved attention, and I have to say compared some, he's handling his celebrity pretty well.  “Dude, you I was wondering if I could take out and advertisement for on your left shoulder… you’de give me a bro deal right,” I joked with him.  In spite of the attention, Alex still pretty much the hyper-intellectual, knucklehead I'd come to love, and be annoyed by.  When he said he had a few free weeks in March to climb, I jumped on the chance. Climbing with Alex is equal parts assbeater, inspiring and fun, so I began throwing ideas out for an adventure.
I had just met a bunch of the folks from TNF South America, and they had invited me down to their Bouldering Competition, and I threw the idea out to Honnold.  I figured it would cover our airfare, and we could show up early and link up with my old Chilean friend Andres,  Aka, “CHILE DOG!”  I sent Alex some links for Cochamo which many call the “Yosemite of South America” and Alex was psyched.  We’re both suckers for beautiful granite big walls.
A few weeks later, Alex and I met Andres in the airport in Santiago.  Alex is one of the most singularly obsessed climbers I have ever met, and so by that evening we had hatched a plan to get on an unfreed line established by Andres that involved a thousand feet of ultra-technical 5.12 and 5.13 slab climbing.  We got up at 4am of our first full day in Chile and drove up to San Gabriel, a scrappy but surprisingly quality bigwall.   Honnold proved why he is one of the best climbers in the world, by establishing the first free ascent of the route pulling the rope only a few times on the harder 5.13 slab pitches.  I managed to free most of the moves on this route, but JESUS!  This would set the tone for the rest of the trip.   I think we rested fived days total, in a three-week period!  Seven days of sport climbing, five days of bouldering, and four days of bigwalling... what a blur.
For sure for me the highlight of the trip was Cochamo, where we were lucky enough to have marginally good weather for two days in a row, and managed to climb two cool 11+ big wall free climbs back to back, which if you know Cochamo meant A LOT OF HIKING.  In two days we went up and down about 10,000 feet of terrain.  My knees are still recovering!
For sure the most memorable part of the trip was competing in the bouldering comp.  Two other TNF climbers the legendary Yuji Hirayama and top competitive boulder Alex Johnson came down for the competition, and all four of us competed.  Lets just say I didn’t qualify, and am not and never will be a competitive climber, but I do have newfound respect for how mentally tasking competing is.  Yuji who is now well into his fourties got second place in the Comp, as did Alex Johnson for the women.   Honnold nearly made it to finals, but was just one spot away.  I have to say that for as bad ass as Honnold is, Yuji is a LEGEND!
So in three weeks I got a whirlwind tour of Chile thanks to Andres who let us into his home and gave us an awesome tour.  We got to hang tough with his beautiful wife Kirpal, and his adorable daughter Saire and our Spanish got a lot better because they just rattled off to us constantly in in Spanish.
Looking back, what stuck with me most, is the warm, open Chilean Culture.  You great people with enthusiasm and human touch in Chile.  If you meet a woman, you kiss her on the cheek.  You meet a guy, you give him a big handshake and a hug.  We’d arrive at a crag, and be inundated with good energy, handshakes and hugs!  I have to say that Americans are pretty cold, and reserved and we could learn something about warmth, kindness and human touch from our brothers in South America.
The other last impact of the trip has to do with Honnold, who was halfway through a reading binge of Environmental literature addressing the negative impact of man on our earth.  He had just finished “The End of Oil” by Paul Roberts, and he passed it on to me.  I knew that we as Americans use vastly more than our share of the earth’s resources, from coal, to oil to gas to electricity, but this book really nails it home, and I couldn’t help but feel quite conflicted.  It’s a conundrum that I’m still working through.  All of this world travel is not exactly earth friendly.  I looked in to it, and if you are concerned about decreasing your fossil fuel use driving across America has a smaller carbon footprint that flying across it, which means that flying all over the world is pretty wasteful.

In the end, I guess that I am at piece with my lifestyle, and will look at ways to decrease my impact where I can.  I’m not going to stop traveling, but I’d like to look at how I can be a better steward of the earth. 
Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this blog.  I know it was pretty rambling, but hopefully it captures some of the energy of our experience.  Chile was an awesome trip, and I feel super fortunate to get to climb with the top climbers in the world from time to time, and to somehow be making a living doing what I love.  Big hugs and highfives!!