Monday, May 11, 2009

Thoughts on Quality, Vedauwoo, and Mother's Day

Josh Helke. Owner of Organic Climbing. Corporate Headquarters in background.

I had a great bouldering session on Saturday up at Vedauwoo. We met up with Josh Helke who runs Organic. Josh is a rare breed. A small business owner who employs local folks to make high quality products that last a long time and perform well. Quality is a hard sell to the general public though, when there is so much to gain by impersonating quality with custom-designed materials and techniques that mimic good design like a climbing-shop chameleon. Josh is extremely knowledgable about the supply chain for his materials. I was surprised to learn that a lot of clothing manufacturers have been victimized by off-shore manufacturers who hang genuine YKK zipper pull-tabs on generic zipper chains to cut costs. Or textile suppliers who weave their cordura with a thicker texture in an effort to impersonate the ballistic nylon that Josh and other quality-focused companies source for their products. Has your zipper pull-tab failed recently? It may be the only component on your $400 down jacket that wasn't swapped out for a look-alike.

The R&D team, hard at work.

Sarah and I were ready to go climb, but Josh was busy finishing the stitches on a new shoulder strap. It took about five minutes and Josh had in his hands a fully-functional new shoulder-strap prototype for Sarah to test during the day. Sarah and I both watched as Josh threaded it into a new crash pad, also recently sewn. We both just stared and then at the exact same time said "WHOA..... YOU JUST MADE THAT."

Josh Helke, getting ready to go CLIMB!!!!

We went out to Vedauwoo and I was able to establish one new problem, a very nice compression boulder that climbs out a large feature for about 15 feet. Unlike a lot of the bouldering at Vedauwoo you could actually climb on this problem all day without ripping holes in your skin. I climbed the compression line and called it Donald Trump because I think it's doing pretty well. I tried a very difficult variation that starts under the lip and climbs directly out the roof, but I didn't have the guns to pull into a massive undercling. I'd love to go back and have another crack at this line.

Donald Trump. Climbs from a sit out the prow to an obvious top-out up the aligator-back feature.

Josh showed us a new problem called The Perfect which starts with an awesome jump to an open-handed sloper. It's so good I had to do it twice.

The Perfect

Sunday was mothers day and this photo pretty much sums that action up:

1 comment:

Andrew Burr Photography said...

vedauwoo = route climbing not bouldering...