Friday, December 26, 2008

Anna Stoehr

Well the pictures do a pretty good job telling the story here. Maybe I'll just leave it at that.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Innsbruck in December

Coming to Innsbruck in December to film bouldering? Pretty optimistic I know. We're getting bits and pieces however, and the crew in Innsbruck is one of the coolest and most talented groups of climbers anywhere in the world. This is the last trip I'm taking to film for PURE, and it's going well thus far.

Cody made fried cheese today. *Burp* Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Austria Update from Italy

First off, Merry Christmas. I hope everyone is finding a way to do something they enjoy over Christmas. I have spent the last couple weeks in Austria with Cody Roth. Things have been mellow thus far, with more skiing than climbing going on, but it looks like the weather is improving so maybe our attention will return to the rock soon.

Yesterday Cody and a host of other Austrians went to Italy for the day to go sport climbing around Arco. I had visited Arco earlier this year but this was my first chance to climb there. The limestone is very nice overall though it changes quite a lot from one climb to another. Also sadly there is a long tradition of artificial routes at Arco and many of the climbs have chipped holds or even rocks glued onto the face in order to provide handholds through a difficult section.

The routes we climbed on were natural however and quite enjoyable. The first one I did was about .12d / .13a and had a long sustained section of small pockets. I just barely got through the upper section, but the encouragement coming up from below was helping. The other difficult route we tried was a .13b called Dolce Misere, or Sweet Misery. Cody went up it first and sussed some beta, then Much Mayr (one of Codys friends from Austria) stepped up and flashed the route. I thought I was done for the day, having already un-taped my fingers and washed my hands in the spring, but after watching Much I was psyched again. I gave the route a solid flash effort, and managed to find a key hand jam to get me through the upper crux. I topped out the route and barely had the strength left to clip the rope through the rusty carabeeners at the anchor. Cody then rode the send train and the route saw its third ascent in about twenty minutes.

Afterwards, we got some pizza at a nice restaurant. Again, a humbling situation as the only non-German speaker at the table, with everyone trying to keep the conversation in English for my benefit. The pizza was awesome, and we drove back to Innsbruck and I fell asleep immediately.

The short winter days and tricky weather are limiting my filming activities, but I remain optimistic that I can find what I came here for. More on that as it develops.

Again, Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It's coming...

My least favorite topic

So right now is my least favorite part of the video business, when most of the creativity is behind and I start transitioning into the phase best described as 'monetizing the asset' aka 'exploiting the creative work'. This is the phase where I have to negotiate a lot and really look out for the financial side of the project. It's important but quite stressful for someone like me who would prefer to be out in the woods bouldering. I think I'm an OK negotiator but it always stresses me out.

There is more creativity ahead, however. I have another segment to edit after I get back and a trailer to create.

This Friday I leave for Austria to film the last segment for the movie. Cody Roth is getting a producer credit for this segment, and I understand he has quite an agenda planned for the trip. Innsbruck is the first destination, but I imagine we wont be there for long.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Kilian Fischhuber

If you are a boulder problem, this is not what you want to see, cause you're about to get destroyed.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Arco footage

I've finally decided to dig into the arco / magic wood trip footage now that Rocklands is edited. I got all the good footage into the Rocklands segment, and came pretty close to the 15-min time window I allowed myself.

I had forgotten what a huge event the rockmaster is. The footage is pretty cool. It's awesome to watch David Lama jump 6-feet horizontally in order to skip the carefully-set balance moves of Jacky Godoffe. That footage will be in the video for sure.

It's getting down to crunch time for Pure and I'm super stoked with the way the video is looking. Doing 5-minute shorts for the internet is awesome, but there's nothing quite as cool as knowing your work will be viewed in full-screen glory, the way it was meant to be seen.

Have a good one!

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Dilemma

So I'm down to the last few minutes of the Rocklands segment, and I have to figure out a way to edit the following into a total of three minutes of video:

Madiba V14
Amandla V14
Moistie Masie V14
Sky V14
Soul-ar Power FA V12
Hole in One FA V10


Thursday, December 4, 2008

I'm gonna need a wider lens

Cody Roth definitely has the spirit for climbing. I'm editing some footage of his exploits in South Africa right now. For instance, he walked up to this boulder and put up a hard problem, ground-up, in about an hour of effort. If he ever gets on anything bigger I'm gonna need a wider lens.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Two tricks

Here we see Nalle Hukkataival performing two of his tricks: Flashing a V11 and opening a beer WITH A BEER. Please comment as to which you find to be the coolest / most important skill. Both of these amazing video clips are now part of the Font chapter in Pure, which features 98 V-points of climbing, several tricks such as opening a beer with a beer, and some of the raddest socks you have ever seen.

The beer in France is remarkably cheap. In fact, Nalle commented that if beer was that cheap in Finland there would be no people left to drink it because they would all be dead.

Have a nice day.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008

Nalle Wins

As an update to the post below... (taken from the Finnish climbing website Slouppi)

Nalle Hukkataival took the anticipated first position at the bouldering Nordic Championships. The competition was climbed yesterday and the venue was Lillehammer, Norway. Also Kuutti Huhtikorpi showed strong performance and was placed third after Magnus Midtbø from Norway.

I met Kuutti in Rocklands this summer and he is a really cool guy as well. Psyched for him to finish so well in the comp.

Here is a youtube video of the walls being constructed:

The competition took place at the Olympics facilities in Lillehammer Norway. Perhaps someday the competitions will take place at the olympic arenas during the olympics... here's hoping.

Nalle Hukkataival in Font

I am starting to work on assembling Pure now. Until this point I have not done much editing... for some reason I like to have a good idea of what to do before I start to make edit decisions. The footage from Font was an exception, as I decided to cut it together right away after returning. I selected a couple cool tracks (one from KRS ONE) and chopped like crazy. I'm really happy with the look I've been developing for Pure. It's not the same as shooting 35mm film, but the system I use basically exposes the picture onto a 35mm frame and then the camera converts the image to HD video immediately. The bad part is that it's like operating a video camera and a telecine machine at the same time, which can make it tricky to film action sports.

Nalle was in good form during the filming, he has spend quite a lot of time in Font lately and has the friction pretty well dialed. He recently repeated a V15 problem called The Island and I was very impressed with the difficulty of the boulder. It's the picture above with Nalle in the red shirt. In order to make the span at the crux of the problem, Nalle has to release his grip slightly on the left hand hold, and then at full extension he can just barely reach the worst part of the right hand. Both holds are sloping, only the right heel hook has any incut at all.

In addition to climbing V15 in Font, Nalle polished off 'The Big Four', a set of classic problem at Cuvier Rampart. Big Boss, Fourmis Rouge, Tristesse, and Big Golden are all about V9 to 10 in difficulty, but completing all of them is tricky as they represent a variety of different technical and physical challenges.

On the last day of filming, Nalle pulled onto the rock (on problems averaging V10) a total of 142 times, judging from my logging report of the video clips. Afterwards he reported that he felt pretty tired. He is on his way to the Nordic Championships at this moment in Norway to compete for his home country Finland and hopefully win some more road-trip fundage.

On my last day in Font I went circuiting with Fred Nicole. He showed me an amazing boulder first opened by Patrick Edlinger (pronounced E-lon-shay) in 1984. The problem is very nice, aesthetically equal to Cedar Spine in South Africa... a tall proud arete, standing alone in the forest. You start the boulder as high as you can reach, and follow the only line of holds and features for about 18 feet to the top. I was able to complete the problem in 3 tries, which is good because each try was a ground-up effort involving quite a lot of moves. If I hadn't done it on try#3 then I doubt I would have completed it.

Fred, when he spots, whispers encouragement so quietly that you cant tell if he said it or if you just thought it yourself.

Today it's cold and there is snow on the ground. I'm looking forward to the next couple months of training in the gym, working on my video, and thinking about goals for next year.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Eat this.

We are just back from Fontainebleu and the weather was great! Cool and mostly dry, we climbed every day. Nalle was in good form and sending problem after problem as usual. Just one more segment to film, and pure will be complete! I'll do some more Europe blog posts later this week after I get back home and copy all my footage over to my big computer. I fly out of Zurich tomorrow morning, and I am looking forward to getting back just in time for Thanksgiving.

A while ago I mentioned that we tacked on a doritos commercial onto the end of the Nature Valley commercial shoot in California.

Okay, Here's the Doritos ad we made for the super bowl competition. Check it out and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Reality in the Alps

This evening I was on my way back from a mellow tourist day spent wandering around and looking at castles and the mountains, when I got on a train to take me up the hill to where François Nicole lives. Also on this train were some other people including a man listening to euro-techno on his i-pod, some school girls, a young woman who stepped onto the train and politely said `bon jour´, and an older woman who was mentally unstable. This woman had the appearance of any homeless person in america, but minus the funny smells. She didnt smell like alcohol or cigarettes... she smelled sort of like detergent.

The train began to climb up the 45 degree incline and everyone on the train did what people normally do... avoid eye contact with each other and wait for the ride to come to an end. The homeless woman walked around the train and seemed to speak to imaginary people, and apparrently the imaginary people held up their end of the conversation and the lady seemed to have a nice and somewhat detailed discourse with them.

At the top of the train we departed and everyone walked up the stairs towards the center of the village. I was following the homeless woman and she was walking quite fast, seeming very intent on where she was going. The air was cold and I was curious to know where this lady was going to sleep tonight. In Denver, I often saw homeless people sleeping under bridges, or near steam pipes that remain warm throughout the night. As we approached the turn to Francois´ house, the lady turned abruptly and entered a building. The sign over the door announced the name of the shelter.

The people in Switzerland bear a huge cost for maintaining such an egalitarian society. Stuff here is expensive. Not just because of the geography of the place, but because the Swiss people insist on excellent public services and are willing to tax themselves and pay higher (some would say 'realistic') prices to achieve this. As I walk around the Swiss towns I often think to myself:

'Man, this stuff is expensive! Things are so much cheaper in Oman, where the wealth is built on the backs of cheap Indian and Pakistani labour... Things are so much cheaper in South Africa, where industry relies on refugee-labor to keep things comfortable for white people... Things are so much cheaper in America, where Mexican immigrants pick our vegetables for $2 per hour.'

Danielle Grangier, the wife of François Nicole, tells me the immigrant labor force in Switzerland makes between 10 and 15 Francs per hour, which is about 10 - 15 dollars per hour, which amounts to a living wage. Even the lowest workers on the ladder are able to support themselves and raise a family.

Fucking Communists.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Switzerland and Fred

Switzerland is an amazing place. I have to say the people here have a very high standard of living. Things are expensive, but everything is clean and tidy and the trains are always on time. I have been filming Fred on some amazing stuff. Today we went to an area and as Fred was climbing there were huge orange leaves blowing across problem. Certainly some of the best video I've ever shot... an amazing athlete in a perfect setting doing incredible things.

Tomorrow I have a ticket to take the train down to meet Fred's brother Francios who is also a very strong climber. He will show me some new boulders he has and I am looking forward to adding another name onto the roster for Pure, especially someone so talented as Francois.

I have started my euro-english accent. Here's some stuff I said today:

"do you know where is the restroom?"
"he seems very sympatic" (french for 'friendly')
"what is the time of which these trains are running?"
"perhaps we first take a coffee and after that we catch the train."

Also part of the Euro-accent is speaking english slowly and more clearly than normal, so you all will have to forgive me when I get back to the US because I may speak to you as though english was your second language. sorry in advance.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Alex De'vaud, the Dreadlocked Swiss Guy

If you have spent any length of time in Hueco then you may have run into this interesting guy.

His name is Alex and I went bouldering with him yesterday at a sandstone cliff about one hour Southwest of Zurich. The area has sensitive access issues so I wont name it here. Alex is a great guy. Very strong, motivated for strange problems like 200-move traverses. If there were a 2000-move traverse, he would probably be on it right now.
His manner is strange but it's easy to tell that he posesses a very unique intelligence. Proof: his lifestyle. He works five months a year as a chemist here in Switzerland, and goofs off and travels and climbs the rest of the time. He spent the first two hours of our visit to the cliff picking up tiny bits of trash left by other climbers. Mostly cigarette butts and pieces of tape.

I dont think he brought any food for the whole day, but when he wanted to have some of my almonds, he said this:

"Do you know me to have some nuts?"

We climbed on a very hard problem for the whole day. I was told the problem was about V14 / V15, with only one repeat since Fred. Fred's beta looked interesting but I didn't even bother trying it because I find it slightly challenging to suspend my body weight on one finger with my feet pasted onto slippery pebbles. Alex gave me perfect beta but of course I tried my own way first and it didn't work, so his way was the best. On my best try I linked past the crux and then fell on the V6 drop-knee move. My hands were frozen and my forearms were completely dead. Darkness began falling and it was time for beer. I left empty-handed but it felt great to come so close to a hard problem. This was the first hard bouldering I have done since Rocklands this summer, and it felt good to pull hard again without too much pain.

I may have the opportunity to meet Fred's brother Francois who is also an amazing climber. Stay tuned for that. There is much happening here, especially when it comes to Fred's climbing. I wont discuss it here but maybe do a nice long post at the end of my trip. Long story short... Fred is the man. By the way, the above-mentioned V14/15 was first done by fred in 1994.

Pass the Humble Pie please.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


I hope everyone is having a great day!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Not your normal evening

So at the end of the Nature Valley shoot we were all feeling pretty good, because we had shot some great material. We decided to work on a ad for Doritos that we will enter into the doritos super bowl ad competition. The odds of winning are low, of course, but it's worth a shot. And honestly, the shoot was so fun it was worth it no matter what.

Basically we found a bar called the Buckhorn and they have (not surprisingly) a deer head mounted on the wall. Darren and the rest of the team wrote some dialogue that basically set up the situation that the main character, Nelson, was in fact the hunter who shot the deer, and the whole situation is an awkward reunion. Nelson offers the deer some Doritos.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Today was day number two on the Nature Valley shoot. We worked very hard on the 'penultimate' nature valley shot, where our talent eats a granola bar and then we do some camera movement to reveal the landscape that they are looking at. It took quite a few tries to get the shot, but I think we were able to come up with some good material. Who ever edits the piece will have lots of options. It's a bit strange to be shooting a piece that will be edited by someone else. I'm very accustomed to shooting for my own edit needs and style, but not knowing what exactly the editor on this piece is looking for prompts us to be more thourough and make sure we have good coverage of all the various elements needed for the commercial.

Nelson has been in good form, lightening up the workload on me, and keeping things on the set light-hearted, which is very good to cut the stress inherent in the power-struggle that seems to be a constant source of frustration whenever producers and directors get together.

One interesting thing to note: during the interview portion of the shoot today, we had the athlete against a background of a high alpine lake. During the interview, with cameras rolling, a bald eagle dove to the surface of the water and took a trout from the lake. The actual take appears in the left portion of the video frame. Quite a coincidence... and very good luck.

Tomorrow we're working on a slightly different project. Details on that later.....

Friday, November 7, 2008

Nature valley Mountain Biking

Today was day number one on the Downieville Nature Valley shoot. I am in California at the moment with a small crew and we are working on a commercial for the granola bar brand Nature Valley. Today was a 14-hour day (and it's not over yet) and we were out shooting from sun-up to sun-down. Right now the director is copying the video files over to their hard drive and previewing the take from the day.

This shoot is probably the biggest shoot I've DP'd (Director of Photography). Today there were as many as 6 people watching my work and offering advice and criticism and suggestions and opinions and questions etc etc etc. These gigs are stressful. My assistant Nelson did a great job of keeping us ahead of the tide of requests.

I have to say it's extremely nerve-wracking to have your work instantly reviewed by a gang of talented people. On the set today was:

Bret, the director
Derrell, the production company producer
Drew, our talent for the commercial
Wayne-O, the guide/ driver
Joe, the producer from the agency
Nelson, my assistant

Tomorrow looks like more of the same, but it's exciting to be at the focal point of a mainstream advertising shoot.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I learned this in Kindergarten

There are people out there who are not nice,
and if you make something, they will try to tear it down.
But you should not be pulled to their level.
After all, they're the ones on the sideline.

I've noticed that most people are much meaner when they hide behind the mask of the internet. Is this because people are meaner than we think? Or are they just mean when they know the other side can't or chooses not to respond?

As a general rule, I dont engage in bad-mouthing anyone except republicans. It's hard to adhere to this philosophy all the time but I'm doing my best.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I wish I could afford the Biltmore.

Thank goodness, my worst fears proved to be false. I was worried that when Barack came out to speak last night to his supporters in Chicago, he was going to rip his face off to reveal George Bush, who would scream "HA!!! I got'cha A-Gin ya sunza bishes! THREE MORE YEARZ! er.... TWO MORE YEARZ!....

I don't really have too much to offer in the way of analysis of the election results, but I will offer this observation:

Obama's election party was in a public park in Chicago.
McCain's election party was at the Biltmore Hotel in Arizona.

I am happy with how the election turned out last night, and proud of my home state of Colorado for finally transitioning from red to blue. If I had to come up with a definition of the word Republican I might try this...

Republicans: A small group of intelligent, wealthy white men who use moral issues and patriotic rhetoric to leverage control over backwards-thinking rural simpletons, thereby reaching their true goal: getting people to fiscally fuck themselves with their own vote.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

BJ Tilden

BJ Tilden has recently completed a very hard sport climb near Lander. I was lucky enough to get some footage of the route, called Orange for Anguish. BJ is a very talented climber and a good all-round guy. He was extremely hospitable and helped me get all the video I needed to make a cool video. If you would like to view the video at Momentum, follow this link:

BJ Tilden

This week I'm preparing for a commercial shoot in California and then I'm back to Colorado for ONE DAY before leaving for two weeks in Switzerland with my man Fred Nicole. Cant wait to chill with Fred again as he is a big influence in my understanding of the sport.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Some Ink

Skyler Weekes got some ink recently in Denver Magazine. They also ran a video grab from Pure. Skyler and I are going out tomorrow to check out some new stuff around Boulder. Stay tuned.


Some day I will be this awesome:

Monday, October 27, 2008

No Effing Way

On my last trip back from Switzerland, United Airlines managed to lose one of my bags. Today, I received a check from United in the amount of 857.70, which is the majority of the amount I had claimed. United is not liable for loss of certain materials, so that meant they paid slightly less than I claimed, but I'm overally quite satisfied with their response.
I had basically written all that stuff off as gone, but now I'm back in business. I'm going back to Switzerland on the 12th of November. The cost of that ticket? $842.50. No Effing Way.

Trip to Utah

On Friday morning, Sarah's brother Bill and sister-in-law Angie came by and picked us up for a weekend in the Utah desert. We drove to Green River and checked out the local melons which look very delicious. We then had some mexican food.
On saturday we hiked down a slot canyon called Little Blue John. This connects with Blue John canyon, and we hiked down this dry streambed as it connected with other drainages. At the bottom of the drainage, there is another slot called The Narrows, made famous by Aaron Ralston because this is the place where he pinned his hand under a small rock and had to cut off his lower arm to escape.
The Narrows ends with a dramatic rappel into the top of Horseshoe Canyon, and from there we hiked about 9 miles down the canyon to where we had staged a car. At this point it was well after dark and we were quite excited about not having to hike through loose river sand any more.
I had heard about Aaron Ralston's epic with subsequent TV appearances and book deals and I have to say that after visiting the site of the accident I am a little disappointed about the obviously over-hyped nature of his accident. Once he freed himself he was only about 5 minutes from the rappel and then after that he just had to walk on a gentle down-hill for a couple hours where he met up with some tourists who gave him water and helped him get out of the canyon. I'm not sure how you could get a book out of the ordeal because it could easily be summed up in a few pages.
The highlight of the day was visiting the Great Gallery, a mysterious collection of very large pictographs. Some of them resemble the Talaloc (sp?) men in Hueco Tanks, which are part of the Jornada-Mogillon culture. I'm not sure if there was any cross-pollenation between these areas but the paintings definitely seemed similar. One of the paintings had the color green, which I understand is quite rare in pictographs.

There was another collection of pictographs that was even more grand than the Great Gallery, but it was submerged when Lake Powell was filled. This is so depressing on so many levels I don't even want to think about it. Just imagine these symbols of an ancient culture slowly peeling off the walls of the rock, even as the bottom of the lake fills with silt and discarded beer bottles from houseboats full of bloated tourists.