Monday, February 27, 2012

Mill Creek Teaser (Part One)

We've been busy this week!

Two trips to Mill Creek. One trip to Pluto Caves. And a day at Rattlesnake, where we picked up garbage, built steps, cleared trails, moved rocks, rolled logs... and did other, various "caveman-type" activities. There was snow. Can you believe it? Snow, in February!? The Rattlesnake clean up was a great success, however, all improvements from The Snake, is for another day. In the meantime, I want to share with you the recent happenings up at Mill Creek. Here's a little preview:

(Thanks for clicking this link... please come back to the blog after watching)

Mill Creek was a very magical place or us this last year. As far as climbing goes, it's been amazing, and quite unique. So, I'm gonna say this right away: it's the best bouldering in Oregon. That opinion may be biased, so take it with a grain of salt. However, I have yet to find a pace in Oregon that has what Mill Creek does. Beautiful, class 5 rapids, which rage between two, 100 foot tall, basalt canyon walls, carved through a pristine, Oregon pine forest. Because the boulders lye in the bottom of the canyon, near a river, at an elevation of nearly 2500', the temps are usually cooler than other places, making it perfect for summer bouldering! There is less rain than everywhere up north. The humidity is usually pretty low. There is shade and sun, with water for cooling off in (or ice your forearms). And the best part: it's just under an hour from Medford, making it easy for after-work sessions. The only downfall is that the climbing is tough! 

(Jesse Firestone on The Grey - V8, Mill Creek)

Here's why: For thousands of years, the Rogue River has polished, and wiped clean all texture that used to exist on these rocks. No texture is like climbing on glass. So start building up your contact strength, because anything close to the river will test how hard your fingers can press.

Another reason there are so many hard problems is because all of the vertical or less than vertical boulders, that aren't polished by the river, are covered with moss. Making it difficult to clean and find easier problems. 

(Warm up boulder. A few fun, easier problems... covered in moss)

Luckily, I have been out there, scrubbing holds and moving rocks, trying to establish a good amount of moderate problems... 

(Does anyone know if moss is good to eat?)

It's slow going, and it takes a lot of patience and determination to, literally, scrub rocks for hours. But it's fun too! That's why I do it. Sometimes it feels like Easter... when I move a piece of moss and discover a perfect pocket or a hold, right where I need one. Sometimes it turns into a mad dash! How many holds can I find?! Or, occasionally, I'll find a giant spider or a scorpion (<-- true story). Sometimes it's just smooth, gray rock as far as the hands can reach... but, eventually, we discover that egg we've been looking for.   

(Me on Ghost Ride - V2)

Ghost Ride the Whip uses the sloping rail on the right, to gain the lip. Ghost Ride has a couple of fun mantles with a technical slab section in the middle, eliminating the sloping rail, making it a little harder. There is also a V3 sit start to Ghost Ride, A dynamic, edgy V2 ( further right ) and a fun crimpy V0, with some side-pulls and a mantle to finish on the far left. All around, one of my favorite boulders at Mill Creek. It has excellent landing zones, a fun top-out, and is located in a nice shady area near the House and Shed boulders (You'll know the House boulder when you see it).

Along with the Ghost Ride boulder are dozens of others, waiting to be climbed. Like this one:

(This is Frankenstein... He wants to get climbed!)

The Frankenstein boulder holds 5-6 problems that range from V0-V5. However, I don't really know for sure, because I haven"t climbed any of them yet! But, the rock is really cool looking, with some fun holds and cool looking features. 

Frankenstein and the Ghost Ride boulders are just a small sample of the potential that Mill Creek has to offer. Our goal is to keep cleaning and climbing out there and I want you all to be there too. But, please remember, Mill Creek is a public park, with lot's of visitors. Please show respect to the land, the people, and the rocks. It's easy for people, including climbers, to get out of hand (i.e. Roadside Crag closure at the Red River Gorge). Please follow the leave no trace ethics, or even better, bring someone else's trace out with you! (No, I'm not talking about that kind of trace) 

Eventually, there will be some sort of guide for Mill Creek floating around. In the meantime, explore for yourself, find something new, or ask me if you have any questions. There will be more to come on Mill Creek and specifics on some of the problems. But, until then, I hope to see you all out there!

Keep Crankin!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

We Love All Rocks

We are two Southern Oregon climbers (Joey and Jen), and we want to share our climbing adventures and stories with you! Our goal is to get you all psyched on climbing, especially in the Southern Oregon area. We clean, climb, and document the development of new (and long forgotten) climbing areas in the region.

Along with all the new area development and climbing, we will share about all the other, exciting things happening in our climbing lives. I've been busy making climbing holds, coaching little climbers, making a bouldering guide, setting routes, starting a guide business. Jen has been right there with me, snapping shots of everything (most of the photos in this blog will be from her), planning new trips, going to competitions, and has, basically, been the brains behind all the creativity that we have.

Of course, along with all the new events keeping us busy and the trips to our local climbing areas, we will definitely venture to other states, countries, and even planets to expand on our small climbing areas.

For a small taste of what's to come, check out this planet:

(The Arch Project at Pluto Caves, California)
Well, Pluto is still a planet to me!

This amazing 25 foot arch is part of the Pluto Caves, which consists of a series of lava tubes (some of the oldest lava tubes around), which stretch for approximately 1 mile, underground, near Mt. Shasta. The caves consist of moderate to hard boulder problems, with plenty of unclimbed problems to be explored.

(The main cave at Pluto Caves, California)
(The winter sky above Pluto Caves, California)

These caves kind of remind me of one of those cheesy alien movies... you know, where a group of kids are up to no good, stealing and vandalizing. They ride their bikes into a field, the ground collapses, they fall into some old, underground cave, inhabited by aliens, and then the kids get their brains sucked out by the aliens... Karma is a bitch. True story. My point is, there may be aliens at the pluto caves. It's that crazy. So, make sure to bring a crash pad, and a tin-foil hat if you're going to climb there.. both could come in handy. 

However, the Pluto Cave is just one of the many, unique climbing destination in our area. We are also very lucky to have Lost Rocks, Rattlesnake, Green Springs, Callahans, and two new additions to our local climbing areas: The Illinois River (a work in progress) and Mill Creek Falls (also a work in progress). Not to mention, all the other less travelled, but equally special climbing destinations. These places all have something amazing to offer, and all are worth checking out. That's why we're here, to show you why!

(Mill Creek Falls in Prospect, Oregon)

(Store Gulch cliff on the Illinois River near Selma, Oregon)

.... and BAM! After seeing all this, everyone loves rocks! Right?

Actually, I'm not gonna lie... I love all rocks, and tons of other people also love rocks, but surely, not everyone can love all rocks! Let me explain.

Maybe you're all about a nice, flat landing. Maybe you only climb granite or 8AM is too early. That's great. Seriously, I hate waking up early. But, I will wake up early to climb. I love granite, but we don't really have any. And, don't get me wrong, I love a nice, perfect, sunny, 65 degree, day of climbing. Those are the best! But, we live in Southern Oregon... 

My point is, a lot of people only climb when the conditions are near perfect. I, however, enjoy all rocks, all the time, in all conditions. I work with rocks, talk about rocks, read about rocks, and you will often find me in the woods, petting rocks. See:

(Basalt feels so good! And look, I'm wearing a lama sweater. Mill Creek Falls)  

We are not here to tell you when you should climb, or what's ideal for you. Our goal is to inspire you to love climbing a little more, and to be out there with us, rain or shine. If not, no worries. You can read all about our adventures from a warm, cozy couch, and let us do the exploring for you. 

Yes, Southern Oregon has it rough when it comes to climbing. However, hopefully you can ignore the spray painted caves and the lack of granite, the changing sand levels and the chossy orange rock. It rains a lot, the summers get hot, and the poison oak runs wild. But we love every bit of it! 

So, here's to Southern Oregon Cimbing! Enjoy.