Thursday, November 25, 2010

Petzl Roc Trip Mexico

Liv Sansoz - Jilotepec, Mexico

“¿Dónde está el baño?”

I don’t remember much from my Spanish classes in Junior High (sorry, Miss Rush), but I am pretty sure this means, “Petzl Roc Trip Mexico is the best Roc Trip ever!” I heard so many people go up to the event organizers to say this with conviction that it couldn’t possibly mean anything else.

Petzl Roc Trip has been all over the world - Kalymnos, Greece; Squamish, British Columbia; Zillertal, Austria; Red River Gorge, Kentucky; Millau, France - just to name a few. This year the Petzl team visited a couple towns and crags in Mexico. The first stop was a beautiful old colonial town called Taxco.

Taxco, Mexico at sunset

About a 20-minute drive and a 30-minute hike from Taxco resides a cave lovingly referred to by the locals as “El Chonta.” The cave itself is massive. It is riddled with hanging stalactites and tufas making the area look like something out of science fiction.

It was inspiring to see the athletes approach this new area and get psyched about the routes and the climbing. These people travel all over the world to climb yet they still get excited about seeing something new and the challenge of working out new problems on the rock. These are the best climbers in the world and you could see it as they put down route after route in this intimidating arena.

Whitney Bolland works through pinch after pinch in El Chonta

After a couple of days climbing in El Chonta, we moved on to a small town just north of Mexico City called Jilotepec. The Las Peñas cliffs loom over you no matter where you are in this town. The climbing is quite different from what we had just seen in El Chonta. The main wall in Jilotepec seemed like a ginormous egg that sat in the middle of the canyon. It was far more technical climbing with bouldery starts, crimpy moves, and long finishes.

Liv Sansoz shows what it means to "pull down"

This is where some of the athletes really started to shine. On just the second day here, Steve McClure sent the new hardest route in Mexico – a 14c called Cruz Diablo. He was one of the first athletes to the crag everyday and kept relatively quiet while climbing harder than anyone else. Not to be outdone, Mickaël Fuselier and Jérôme Pouvreau sent Las Chicas Superpoderosas our last day at Jilo, which was said to be “a little bit harder than Cruz Diablo.” Watching professional athletes performing at this level was inspiring. Linking their motivation and skill on the rock together made many of them virtually unstoppable.

Said Belhaj rests halfway up this 120’ route

All of this combined with a visit to ancient pyramids, a traditional Temascal sweat lodge, cultural presentations, uber-friendly locals, etc., I can definitively say that this was the best Roc Trip ever. Therefore, I must agree with what was said by so many others during these ten days:

“¿Dónde está el baño?

“¿Dónde está el baño?” indeed.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hammers Inc Art Festival 2010 - Artist Bio - Adam Barker

There will be a lot of talented people at this year's Hammers Inc Art Festival.  Beyond that I, too, will be exhibiting some work.  Among the featured artists will be Adam Barker.  Adam is one of the premier landscape and action photographers in Utah.  It was a privilege to go up to Heber with he and Garrett Smith last weekend to shoot this little bio video.

Artist Profile: Adam Barker from HIP VISUAL ARTS on Vimeo.

Be sure to put the Hammers Inc Art Festival on your calendar.  It is December 3rd at the corner of 100 S and Main St. in downtown SLC.  Garrett and Molly (his sweet wife) have also worked hard to have it featured as part of the monthly SLC gallery stroll.  The event will be a fundraiser for the Access Fund, an organization that protects climbing areas across the US.  Come on by and show your support, see some great art, spend a little money (if you feel so inclined), and enjoy yourselves.