Tag Archives: rock climbing

A day of fun with 21

“We don’t know who we are until we see what we can do.”
-Martha Grimes

There have been countless climbing challenge ideas thrown around amongst Boone climbers, ranging from the stupid (e.g. “the 24 challenge”) to the silly (e.g. naked climbing), but last weekend Carson decided to celebrate his 21st birthday by laying down the hammer on 21 of his favorite v5 boulder problems around Boone.

Can you name all of these climbs?
Test yourself: Can you name all 21 of these climbs? Click the image and zoom to make it reeeeaalll big so you don’t have to be all squinty-faced while you play the guessing game..

The Bakker boys, two Zachs, and myself set out on this grand undertaking. It was a big dream and we knew it would take the whole day. With a puppy in tow, we set off, unsure of our chances of success, but determined to spend a beautiful day among trees, rocks, and friends.

The final numbers at the end of the day were 21 climbs completed in 11 hours, with ~10 miles total hiked up and down and around virtually every single area of Blowing Rock, 221, and Grandmother. We left around 8am and made it back to Boone a little after 7pm. Carson and Drexel day flashed every single boulder except for two, and each one of them blames the other for bad beta.

I was impressed by Carson’s commitment to staying true to the goal of exactly twenty-one v5s. Besides our initial warm-up, he did not lay a finger on a single other grade. I don’t know how doable this venture would have been if we had picked a higher grade or if Carson had just turned 50 years old instead of 21, but it surprised all of us how easy this was. Okay, maybe not “easy” but it certainly wasn’t as brutal as we had imagined. I only spotted a couple chicken wings and the guys actually cruised through the last few boulders of the day pretty smoothly, versus the dramatic pumping out and screaming and grunting one might expect after a long circuit day.

Highlights of the day, according to Drexel, were Cocaine Highway (a tall, scary rock face that is so unnerving Carson giggled like a little schoolgirl at the top) and finishing the day on the Long Wall classics.

The weather was perfect all day. Fall called and said she had a good time visiting and will be back in a couple weeks for a longer stay. I can’t wait to spend many more weekends in Boone getting my skin and psyche ready for prime climbing season! Don’t forget to register for Hound Ears!

Check out the photos of our day and see if you can name every single one of the climbs. Is there a v5 you think we missed? Let us know in the comments below.

Four Less Traveled Southern V10’s

Me: “Drexel, what would you like to say about your video?”

Drexel: “This is me. I climb’did a rock.”

[pause, he glances at the screen to see what I’ve written]

Drexel: Oh. Please don’t post that.

Me: Okay. [click]

More info, as written by Drexel on vimeo: This year I tried to escape the crowds of the Big 3 (Rocktown, LRC, HP40) and explore some of the smaller satellite areas. What I found blew me away. Although the quantity couldn’t match up to the big 3, the quality of the stone and the climbing kept me coming back again and again. It was extremely rewarding to figure out a few climbs that aren’t done very frequently and showcase them here. The South is a truly magical place and I know I will be back for years to come. Big thanks to Organic Climbing as usual and thanks to everyone I met along the way for the good times.

Featured Climbs:
-Capoeira V10
-Bubba Gump V10
-Chattanooga Powerhouse V10
-Breadloaf Factory Low V10

Dik-diks, Dixon, and Dilly-Dallying

Drexel is still on the road, doing his best to keep the cross country crimpers alive and crushing projects left and right. He claims his fingers are so sore from climbing that he’s unable to write any of his own entries, so here’s a quick list of his latest sends: Osiris V10, Bubba Gump V10, Bread Loaf Factory V10, and the most epic, Western Gold V11.

I mainly know about these sends because I’ll be at work, in my “big kid” job as a therapist, in a session with a client who is yelling or crying or throwing things, when my phone will blow up with ten texts consisting primarily of exclamation points and excited emoji faces. My first thought when I hear the continuous earthquake vibrations of my phone is, “Uh oh, someone else is in crisis!” so I’ll find some excuse to check the screen. Lo and behold, Drexel has triumphed again! “I did it! I did it! I did it!” he texted.

This past weekend I was lucky enough to join Drexel, Carson and Jeff on a lovely outing to Dixon School Boulders. If you’ve never heard of this place, check out this neat video starring Zach and the Bakker boys talking about Dixon and sending some of the classics. As Zach says in the video, it’s definitely worth checking out, spending a day amongst the trees and rocks on a beautiful, quiet mountainside with gorgeous views.

Dixon boulders is a small bouldering area owned by Crowders Mountain State Park near Kings Mountain, NC. It’s maybe 1.5 hrs from Asheville, 2.5 hrs from Boone. It’s a metaconglomerate rock, which might mean nothing to climbers except that the grain size and quality changes drastically from one end of the boulder field to the other. There are maybe 40-50 total climbs, with only 20-25 being high quality and a couple big projects still waiting for a strong climber to give them a name.


We first warmed up at a large chunk of rock containing countless fun v0-v3s and also a tricky barndoor problem courtesy of Ian Rogers called Barnyard Banshees v5. From there we moved up the hill to Classic Overhang v3 and Beelzebub Roof v5. Zach makes this climb look easy in the video and Jeph flashed the pants off of it, but I struggled pretty hard to gain momentum to reach certain holds and still have enough power to clamp down on the pebbles up top. I flailed a bit, grunted, sighed, told the group we could move on, started to pack up, and then had a sudden burst of angry determination that I was able to ride to a final send. WHOOSH. Sometimes there really is power in a “last go, best go” gritty determination.

Image captured from Dixon School Boulder video of Zach on Beelzebub v5.

We tromped our way up and over to one of the best boulders at Dixon, Atlas v7. It starts with a really fun traverse leading up to a tricky face slab. Lil Bakker wistfully projected this boulder back in the day, and now he’s a lean mean climbing machine who eats v7s for breakfast.

Atlas v7
Drexel showing us all how to gently pat-pat-pat a teensy widdle crimp. “There there…. there there….”
Jeph claims he doesn’t do a lot of yoga, but he hand-foot matched like a regular downward dogger and said, “Namaste? Nah, mus’ go!” as he flowed to the top of Atlas v7.


For the record, I have never felt so supported in my entire climbing life as I did on Atlas. After everyone else sent, Carson, Jeph and Drexel became the world’s best support crew. They showered me with compliments and offered wild incentives that tapped into my deepest desires. Here I was on the brink of complete life satisfaction, and…. nothing. This might be my biggest deathbed regret.

Next up was Drexel’s biggest project, the terrifyingly tall Leaning Tower v8.  It’s arguably one of the best lines at the park, but is also extremely tall and intimidating and has a very committing last move. In the end, the fear factor was too much. This is a really good example of how sometimes climbing is more mental than physical – if this move was only a couple feet above the ground, it would be a relatively easy dyno. Take that same dyno and move it 20+ feet off the ground and that’s another story.

Even scrolling through the photo takes a long time!


We ended the day on Venom v5 and Venom Direct v6, completing Jeph’s Dixon circuit experience.  We marched back to the Crowders Mountain State Park parking lot with smiles on our faces. We all agreed that the pebbles hurt, but our skin looked a lot better than it had before. My gym skin definitely needed some good pebbly scraping to get it ready for next weekend’s trip to Rumbling Bald.

Back at home, we had a lovely night with Drexel and Carson’s family, even when arguments got a bit heated. I felt bad, but we even pulled his Nana into the argument. In the end, it was hard to find a clear winner of “What is the cutest baby animal?” We’ve narrowed it down to five top contenders: Dik-Dik, Slow Loris, Wallaby, Wolf, or Panther. Please vote in the poll below so we can figure this out once and for all.


My vote was for Dik-Dik! It’s tiny, it’s awkward, it has oddly tiny ankles, what’s not to like?
I won’t lie. I’m biased. So Dik-dik times TWO!


Adult Slow Loris look like Pokemon.
SEE!?!?!? POKEMON!!!!
Willaby wallaby woo, an elephant sat on you!
Peekaboo, peekaroooooo!
TIL: Even black panthers have spots.




Melise Edwards Hits the South

Drexel here, I just finished up this video of my good friend and fellow crusher Melise, climbing in Boone and Tennessee. Enjoy!

After finishing school, Evolv athlete Melise Edwards hit the road with the intention of climbing in all the best areas the South East has to offer. After a very successful stint in Boone, NC, Melise visited some Tennessee sandstone at LRC, Dayton Pocket, and Rocktown. She had a blast and looks forward to the next opportunity to explore more fantastic bouldering spots. In this video she climbs Klamper V8, Changing Lanes V9, and Portobello V9, in Boone, NC. She also quickly puts together River Dance V9, one of the most beautiful and classic boulder problems the South has to offer.

Keep up with Melise on her blog: itsajurg.blogspot.com/

Rocks for Research


Last week we volunteered with Rocks for Research at the Inner Peaks Climbing Center in Charlotte, NC.

Rocks For Research is an amazingly fun and interesting rock climbing festival put on to raise money for the Type I diabetes through the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Last year, the event raised $10,000 for diabetes research! (YAY!)

The volunteering day started out by casually eating lunch right next to Jimmy Webb and Daniel Woods (yeah, no big deal…). Once we were assigned to a volunteering shift, we were free to explore the event and climb to our heart’s content (again, alongside folks like the above mentioned, and also Lisa Rands, Kai, Matt Bosley, Courtney Woods… maybe you’ve heard of them?).

I pretended
I pretended to take photos of Alexa climbing, but really I just wanted a shot of Drexel joking around with Nate, Jimmy and Daniel. Sneaky sneaky!
Thumbs up for working hard!
Thumbs up for working hard! (Or hardly working?)

Alexa, Rose and I were are scheduled to help belay in the “Try Climbing” area for first-timers. Most attendees of this event were experienced climbers, so we spent a good portion of our time improving our headstands, but there were a handful of kids who were really psyched on scaling the wall! I’m not usually a softie for these kinds of things, but I definitely felt my heart clench when one boy looked up at me with these big brown eyes and told me proudly that he had Type I diabetes and how excited he was to be at this event with his friends.

On her way to greatness/straightness.

Alexa got a good work-out from belaying one boy who inexhaustibly begged to climb “just one more time” over twenty times! Seriously. I guess kids don’t build up lactic acid(?) or something, because he was INSANELY PSYCHED.

Alexa became pro at helping this boy into his harness 20+ times.
Having so much FUN!

At one point I brought this group of boys to the Evolv table, where Melise and Carter were super helpful sorting through their demo shoes to find pairs small enough for the boys to try on. I could tell the boys were really excited to wear “real climbing shoes” instead of the sneakers and crocs they had on.

Finally came the moment we had all been waiting for: the Climbing Showcase. All the pro climbers and a group of local climbers (“Pros and Joes”) teamed up to see who could get the most points by completing the hardest climbs. It was so incredible to be able to see our climbing heroes working out boulder problems right in front of our eyes. It was interesting noticing that all these strong climbers had distinctly different methods and styles for sending a problem. Jimmy and Daniel are very different sizes, so Daniel was more dynamic and had to rely more on finger strength, while Jimmy had “more raw power than anyone I’ve ever seen” (says Drexel). And I would have no idea that Kai, climbing alongside these guys and crushing a v10, was only 14 years old.

Kai showing remarkable beta-savviness as he works a v11.

When the climbing was over, there were some raffle prizes handed out, goodies were thrown into our awaiting hands (we all got some new Giddy chapsticks!), silent auction winners were finalized, and then we all settled in to watch each of the pro climbers give a presentation that included some never-before-seen video footage and a short interview with a local radio personality (who had clearly never heard of rock climbing, but he got an A for effort). I especially loved the documentary about Kai’s life and the entertaining slideshow narration by Lisa Rands.

Our day ended long after the sun had gone down. It was a full and wonderful day. We can’t wait to volunteer again next year and hope to see all of your beautiful shining faces!

Values vs. Goals

Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb. -Greg Child

image credit: lidijamarkovic.com

Have you ever been climbing outside when a group of tourists hike by and say, “You know, there’s an easier way up that rock around the back?”

While you might shake your head at their silly ignorance, those folks raise a really good point: Why are you sweating and grunting your way up a rock using the most difficult route possible, when your eventual goal is to get to the top?

Here’s where it might be important to take a minute to contemplate your goals and values of rock climbing.

A goal is something that can be achieved, finished, completed. If your goal is to eat an 8 oz. chocolate bar, then you can buy one and stuff the whole thing in your mouth. Tada, done.

Values are never completely accomplished. If you value consuming sugar, it’s not like you can cross this off your list after you demolish an ice cream sundae or snack on a snickers. After you finish your goal of a chocolate bar, there will always be more sugar to consume.

So as you might be coming to understand, values are a direction, not a destination, and therefore are always available to you. At any point in your life, like right NOW, you can stop and answer the question “Am I headed in my valued direction?” even if you are not yet at your final destination.

Take a moment to consider: What ARE your values when it comes to climbing? To be physically fit? To connect with friends? To seek inner peace? To be out in nature? There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to values.

Goals, unlike values, frequently involve planning and waiting. Let’s talk about Fred. While Fred’s value might be to be physically fit, his goal might be to climb a certain v10. Within this goal, there might be several steps such as working out each individual move or designating specific days of the week to working on the problem or drinking two full Nalgenes of water every morning. Several steps (or goals) might take place before the larger goal is met. However, all these goals are driven by the same value: physical fitness, which is a continuous direction. Every day that Fred reached for a goal, whether or not he reached it, he was living his values.

I think this concept is important to gain perspective in climbing. I see people getting lost in their goals without ever finding a sense of accomplishment. Frustration builds up until the joy of climbing has worn thin or actions begin to run contrary to initial underlying values. (e.g. The person who climbs to find inner peace is freaking out about falling off a seemingly easy move or because they tweaked a pulley or didn’t place well in a competition.)

So returning to the earlier example of people asking why you’re trying to climb a rock when there’s an easy hike around the back —  If the goal was to get to the top of the rock, why would any of us climb? Although one is working to get to the top of the rock, the goal in climbing must be about the experience of climbing: feeling the wind in your face, laughing with friends, noticing the pleasurable strength of your body as you use it, and being in touch with the rock.

If being a climber is what you care about and it’s about that very experience—falling off a climb and throwing a wobbler or finally sending a big project after months of hard work, then embrace the process. All of it, the good and the bad.  As most of us know from experience, larger goals may not actually occur right away. All kinds of things can get in the way. The point is, by walking through the different steps along the way, you are participating in “value-driven” behavior, even if the “outcome” is not what we thought it would be.

While participating in value-driven behavior does not guarantee outcomes, you are much more likely to reach your goals when behaving in valued ways. If I continue climbing for fun, I will probably eventually get closer to my goal of sending such-and-such a problem. Also, by engaging in various value-driven actions you can learn more about what you want in a valued domain. The ultimate question becomes, “What do you want your life to be about?”

image credit: survivalnewsonline.com

Feel free to share your values and goals in the comment section below.


The many faces of climbing

There is no such thing as a “typical climber.” People are drawn to rock climbing for various reasons and develop unique relationships with this sport.  Stay tuned to this page as we interview climbers from a variety of backgrounds and life experience. Click a climber below to learn more.

Olivia Cecil
Knoxville, TN
Alexa Zakula
Boone, NC
Patti Wohner
Chattanooga, TN
Carson Bakker
Carson Bakker
Boone, NC
Melise Edwards
Boone, NC
PaulPaul Winkler
Albuquerque, NM
Flannery Shay NemirowFlannery Shay Nemirow
Incline Village, NV
Coming Soon
Andrew Matsumoto
Andrew Matsumoto
Boone, NC
Coming Soon


[Contact us if you’d like to be a featured climber.]

Bishop and onward

We departed Bishop Sunday afternoon with mixed feelings. No one can deny how uniquely gorgeous this area is, with giant rock eggs scattered across a desert landscape, majestic snowy peaks poking up in the distance wherever you might rest your gaze…

Not your everyday warm-up.
Not your everyday warm-up.


…And yet, let it be said that Bishop is not really a place for first-timers to pop in for a quick weekend of awesome climbing. Expect a couple hours of pleasure followed by days of pain. The sharp grittiness feels like “putting my hands in a blender made of shark teeth” (says Drexel), and I would have to concur. After months of sandstone, I hadn’t realized how baby soft our skin had become. We left with our tails between our legs. All I had sent was a v2 warm-up, and even that, barely, because it was so high off the ground that I locked off and cried little babygirl tears until Drexel sent a rescue helicopter to take me down. (Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration… the helicopter bit…)

Our first day in the Buttermilks was fun, but humbling. Drexel hopped on Soul Slinger V9 and gave it a good whooping, but took a whooping at the same time. We serendipitously bumped into a couple folks we had met in Joe’s Valley and ended up climbing with Jen (another short strong female!) and her bf Mel, spending a little too much time grating up our skin on Seven Spanish Angels V6.

Drexel throwing himself into Soul Slinger V9
Jen working out some pretty legit short-person beta on Seven Spanish Angels V6.
Mel hitting the final juggy hold at the top of Seven Spanish Angels.
One of my favorite “parking lots” ever.

That night, a demon entered my body. I woke up with an icy wave of nausea, threw myself out of the van, and proceeded to lose my entire dinner. We don’t know why, although my bet would be placed on expired cheese. But one would think that, ridding my body of whatever maleficent creature was haunting me, I would be fine. Not so. Five days later and I still can’t eat anything substantial, and I won’t go into details about the exorcisms I’ve witnessed. I’m a bit peeved that I haven’t felt up to climbing, right when we’re at the end of our climbing road trip, but even doing a single pull-up feels like a really big deal to my body.

Anyways, that’s not super interesting, and probably a bit gross. Drexel has actually been living life, but since  he is not an eager blogger (as you may have noticed by the lack of his posts), I will transcribe for him his latest climbing adventures:

Saturday in Bishop, Drexel tagged along with Jen and Mel to get on Fly Boy V8. The stupid sharp crimps were not much of a good warm-up and he said some dirty words and decided not to try it anymore. Mel got stupid close. He swung off the dyno at the top which was kind of scary, but he’s fine. After that, they went over to Iron Fly V9, which Drexel had tried briefly the day before, and he was thankfully able to do it first try since it’s wretchedly sharp (surprise!).

Then they went over to check out Xavier’s Roof V11 and Zen Flute V10, which was at the top of one of the worst roads in Bishop. Mel and Drexel tried it a bit, but were too fried to give either of them productive efforts, and soon called it a day.

While Drexel climbed, I mainly napped or lay in the minivan groaning pitifully, but at one point I forced myself to head out on a quick hike just to absorb as much of the surrounding beauty as possible.

plant life Bishop
I don’t know what this is, but it’s adorable.
rocks in Bishop
A little stonehengey, eh?
bishop ca
More rocks and sky


The next morning, we headed back to Lake Tahoe. Our game plan is to stick around Incline Village for a few more days, and then head back across the country to Chattanooga/Boone in time to see our friends graduate. Along the way, we’ll try to see as much scenery as possible, but if this stomach bug persists, we might just zipline straight across. Always open to ideas of places to check out (not just climbing related)!

Skunk harbor's hidden beach.
Skunk Harbor’s hidden beach was just ours for an afternoon. Life is hard…