Podcast: The Enormocast by Chris Kalous
Whether it’s around the campfire or in front of a computer, it’s a known fact that climbers love to talk about climbing. But with all the internet forum banter and three-minute video edits, it’s rare to hear an in-depth conversation on climbing issues and stories from an authentic, engaging and approachable perspective. Enter The Enormocast, which is the brainchild of writer and climber Chris Kalous. Kalous has been immersed in the climbing life for a long time and has climbed all over the world and throughout the Intermountain West, spending a lot of time in the Utah desert and Yosemite Valley.
The Enormocast is at its heart an informal discussion of climbing issues with the more interesting movers-and-shakers in the climbing community. The guest list has included some people who need no introduction to climbers, such as Kelly Cordes and Steph Davis, and other more undercover characters such as Sam Lightner Jr. and BJ Sbarra. Although he is certainly an opinionated host, Kalous’ gracious and genuinely funny nature keep the show light and the conversation engaging. Chris manages to navigate complex issues such as the cleaning of the Compressor Route on Cerro Torre or the evolving climate of land access in Southern Utah by both choosing guests who are intimately familiar with the issues (such as Hayden Kennedy and the above-referenced Sam Lightner Jr., respectively) and drawing upon his wealth of experiences as a perceptive and well-traveled climber. The fact that beers are usually being consumed by the host and interviewee goes a long way to bring a conversational tone to issues that could get a bogged down in policy and precedent. And at the end of the day, Chris manages to remember that no matter how much we love it, “It” is just rock climbing. Enormocast.com
— Rob Duncan
Magazines: Ascent 2012
It might seem strange to review a magazine in another magazine, but Ascent 2012 is less of a magazine and more of a literary journal meets coffee table book — the kind of glossy, high-quality publication that, after you’ve read it through, ends up on your bookshelf and not in your recycling bin.
Originally published by the Sierra Club and edited by Allen Steck and Steve Roper (also authors of the legendary “50 Classic Climbs of North America”), Ascent debuted in 1967 as a visionary climbing journal intent on publishing the sport’s best stories and most vivid images. It accomplished its mission, going on to become the longest-running climbing publication ever, but after 14 issues published sporadically over 32 years, Ascent folded in 1999. After a trial comeback in 2011, Rock and Ice magazine acquired Ascent and has since revived it into an annual publication, rife with the stunning images and beautiful stories that its originators intended.
Ascent contains what most of us truly desire in a climbing publication — incredible, inspiring images and large blocks of eloquent, uninterrupted text. From Allen Steck’s detailed account of biking and climbing through post-WWII Europe to Renan Ozturk’s chronicle of recovering from a near-death ski accident to make the first ascent of Peru’s Sharks Fin, the magazine’s stories and photos encapsulate the beautiful diversity of the sport. Ascent’s pages span both generations and disciplines, but the sum is simply a keepsake collection of adventurous, inspiring and often hilarious tales from lives defined by climbing. $12.99, RockandIce.com
Books: “Maple Canyon Rock Climbing,” by Darren Knezek and Christian Knight
A climbing guidebook exists to serve two key functions — to provide essential information about a climbing area and its routes, and to get the reader PSYCHED. “Maple Canyon Rock Climbing,” a new full-color guide to one of Utah’s most-popular areas, fulfills both requirements and beyond.
Tucked into an inconspicuous mountainside in the middle of central Utah farm country, Maple Canyon has grown from an obscure, chossy backwater crag to one of the top summer sport climbing destinations in the West. The cliffs, comprised of thousands and thousands of rounded cobbles glued together with sedimentary rock, makes for some of the most unique climbing around. It’s often hard to tell what kind of hold a cobble will provide until you actually touch it, making the routes there notoriously pumpy and hard to read. The book also covers a host of routes in the surrounding areas outside of the canyon proper for those looking for some added variety. Written by local and active route developers, the book features loads of route information, awesome photos and pertinent area history.
After nearly 12 years without an up-to-date guidebook, this cobble-choked canyon’s popular documented crags have become crowded and overrun, while the numerous unpublished walls often see only a handful of climbers on a busy weekend. While a flashy new guidebook can tend to increase traffic to an area, perhaps this one will serve to redistribute climbers around the canyon’s hundreds of fun, challenging and previously unknown routes. $29.95, maplecanyonclimbing.com
See the latest Mountain Media from issue #190!
“Now I’ve got nothing but the whistle and the steam, my baby’s leaving town on the 2:19.”
— Tom Waits
From the time the big iron wheels first started their screech down the tracks, people figured out a way to hitch a ride on trains, creating a distinctive rail culture. During the Great Depression, when money and work were impossibly scarce, kids would jump on the rails to go pick fruit and produce wherever laborers were needed. Music was spontaneously a part of that transient lifestyle for entertainment, communication and camaraderie in clustered gatherings around campfires and boxcars with harmonica, banjo or a little guitar.
Russ Lallier of Gunnison, Colorado, a train hobbyist, historian and videographer of three documentaries about regional rail history (youtube Russy Baby, or russybaby.weebly.com), all of which feature the music of Drew Emmitt (drewemmitt.com), tells that music was always part of train culture.
“When trains were first coming out, there were tons of songs written by the old wagon-train haulers, known as wagoners or freighters, and riverboat sailors on the Erie Canal,” which were the FedEx of the old days, Lallier says.
The rivalry and angst ensued because the newfangled trains were obviously a threat to their livelihoods and so inspired many protest songs.
“Steam was the devil to the canal men and haulers,” according to Lallier.
As trains rumbled through the years, their lore became captured in musical ballads, from spectacular wrecks to affection for the locomotives. To some, trains were merely transportation, but to those singing the blues, the train was rambling down that track carrying somebody’s baby who just done left them on that southbound train.
Fast track on down the line where Casey Jones needs to watch his speed, Johnny Cash is listening to the lonesome whistle blow just outside his accommodations at Folsom Prison, the Marshall Tucker boys are rocking a southbound all the way to Georgia, and you’ll find that modern mountain railroads have discovered the perfect blend of marrying music, splendorous viewscapes and, yes, halleluiah, brews.
The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad has been in continuous operation for over 130 years (durangotrain.com). Teaming up with Durango’s Bluegrass Meltdown event in late April this year, the ride up to Cascade Canyon featured The Freight Hoppers (freighthoppers.com) and Jeff Scroggins & Colorado (jeffscrogginsandcolorado.com) playing in different cars while people strolled through chugging libations. Reaching altitude, they were then treated to a 45-minute layover concert and a blazing fire at the Canyon’s pavilion.
Telluride Blues and Brews Festival also joined up for the three-hour tour and wildly successful second-annual Durango Blues Train on June 2. More powerful than a coal-fired, steam-powered locomotive rhythmically clacking down the tracks was the soulful groove of Erik Boa and the Constrictors, The Sugar Thieves, Robby Overfield, Big Jim Adam and John Stilwagen, Alex Maryol, Donny Morales and Todd and the Fox.
If your tastes run true West, you can hop aboard the Cowboy Poet Train this October 5 and experience the traditional music of cowboys, along with their tall tales as the railway has pardner’d with the Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering taking place that same week.
Jumping tracks over to Alamosa is where the Rio Grande Railroad (riograndescenicrailroad.com) rattles up La Veta Pass to their Summer Mountaintop Concert Series, all of which are powered by wind and solar energy, and which include a lot of regional brews. This month features concerts by Michael Martin Murphey with The Rifters (June 16 and 17), The Rifters with Chuck Pyle (June 22-24), Special Consensus with Anne Hills (June 29-July1) and more top-notch music weekly throughout the summer (check out the website for all the acts, bios, and dates).
Rails and Ales is a perfect hoedown for a good high-altitude buzz with a brew fest of more than 20 regional beer makers, and it cranks out the live music on a boxcar stage in a mountain meadow on June 23.
The symbiosis of song and track is something rail riders and musicians have realized for a long time, whether it’s like a lullaby or a train wreck rock finale. Paul Simon once said, “There’s something about the sound of a train that’s very romantic and nostalgic and hopeful.” Don’t miss the train.
Dawne Belloise is a freelance writer, photographer and vocalist living in Crested Butte and working in Boulder. She just left on the 2:19. email@example.com
Author’s note: Climber/Photographer Dave Montgomery of Morrison, CO, had this to say about his photo, to which there is nothing to add. “I took [the photo] with a piece-of-crap 4 megapixel point and shoot after raping off of Castleton Tower. I looked over at the Rectory and the lighting was just stunning! I guess it doesn’t matter what kind of camera you have, just gotta be in the right place at the right time. To top it off, my buddy had a lukewarm PBR in his pack!”
At least half of the following is God’s honest truth. I have been diligently pursuing the details of this adventure for two years and was finally rewarded after filling one of the participants with my home-brewed lager a few weeks ago. The names of those involved have not been changed to obscure their identities, as they fear no one.
Located just to the north of Moab, the crumbling rock towers of Utah’s Castle Valley stand broken and forlorn, ancient guardians of time itself. The routes up the fantastic sun-blasted sheer ruby shards of sandstone make this a destination for climbers from around the globe. Traveling through the valley is like having a vivid daydream of exploring some forgotten canyon system on the face of Mars.
Located within the dream is a structure known as “The Rectory” (far left in the photo above). It was on top of this floating sky-island in 1990 (am I the only one who looks at this terrain and thinks of the psychedelic mindscapes created by Roger Dean for the albums released by the band “Yes” in the ’70s?), that a production team chose to desecrate, err, utilize for the filming of the music video to the soundtrack for the movie, “Young Guns II”, and Jon Bon Jovi hit single, “Blaze of Glory”. Even non-climbers may recall the scene, a forgotten ’50s-era drive-in movie theater set upon on a patch of floating desert, crooked stands for the PA system scattered amongst the boulders and wrecks of old cars hoisted by helicopter to the top.
Amidst this faded scene of epic Americana stands Jon Bon Jovi with flowing locks, bone necklace over bare chest and leather pants so tight he had no trouble hitting the high notes, bravely belting out his tune to the setting sun. (Can I get a little “hell yeah!” right here?) It was this location that an associate of mine chose for an epic party of his own. Invitations were sent, and along with time and place, instructions were given to each party for supplies that must be brought along, and up, the 400-foot ascent to the top. For the overnight stay, bags of ice, bundles of firewood, a grill, water, fresh food, dogs, a stereo, several kegs of beer and someone’s non-climbing girlfriend had to be accounted for. No means for the delivery of these items was suggested, with their presence simply dictated as ticket to the party. The details of the “hoist”, as it has become known, could fill this volume, so suffice it to say that the mission was accomplished and a large party began, one fit for the heroic nature of the place, and the time.
Recollections vary, but by some accounts, the kegs chosen for the evening may have been filled with several of the following brews. An obvious choice would have been Durango Brewing Co.’s D-Wheat (Durango Wheat). This locals’ favorite is light and refreshing, enjoyable both by the pint and the gallon. Another strong contender, though perhaps not available at the time of the climb several years ago, is Ska Brewing Co.’s Mexican Logger. If you have not tried this, better grab a sixer and kiss the clear-bottled piss from south of the border farewell. All of what you love about a fresh Mexican lager beer is contained in these cans, with none of the foul skunk flavors, nor pretence of being mysterious and “the most interesting beer in the world”. If not this beer, then smart money would rest on the Colorado Kolsch from Steamworks Brewing Co. With the finest labeling of any beer in a can anywhere (the Colorado flag *prominently* adorns the front), Steamworks Kolsch is the perfect substitute for the flavorless cans of macro-filth that one might otherwise choose to waste their money on. But for the coup-de-grace, for a beverage so rare and extraordinary as to match the nature of the revelry described above, one must assume that a barrel of the Celebrated Raspberry Wheat from Carver Brewing Co. would have been called for by name. Pink as the satin panties that your high school girlfriend wore, this nectar of the gods has been known to cause strong men from Texas to burst into spontaneous song, and bring tears of joy to the bravest of women. Yes, my money is on the “pink” for keg #2.
As for the party? Apparently, the “amount of firewood needed” calculation had been low, so in a fit of recycling hubris, vast quantities of the timbers (aka, garbage) that had been left behind from the filming of the video in 1990 were added to the flames, in whose blaze of glory the climbers howled and danced under the bright desert light of the full moon.
Erich Hennig lives in Durango, CO, and would love to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org
Savage Basin, Imogene Pass 1979
When I was in junior high, I once walked from Manitou Springs to the top of Pikes Peak, non-stop, by way of the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, and returned by the same route, after a couple of hours of hypothermic fits and altitude sickness, and swore I would never do it again. As far as mountain climbing was concerned, this would have to be it. There would be no more.
I slept for two days after that, waking only to wolf down a T-bone steak and collapse into bed again. Lactic acid froze my body into a contorted position, from which I could not rise, and it was several days before I could walk correctly. Sir John Hunt would have to do without me.
The change in altitude had been extreme; from a summer of sailing in Minnesota at, say, 800 feet to 6,000 feet for two days, and then to 14,000 feet. Acclimatize if you can; it was Mountain Baptism.
So, when Lito proposed skiing to Ouray from Telluride, I naturally jumped at the chance. What is a poor boy from the plains to do?
Karen insisted on hiking in low-cut cross-country boots, and only later did I surmise that it was because of her congenitally mangled feet. Alone, and kicking her own steps, she resolutely soldiers on. The Inch-Worm Technique, Lito insists, will always get you there.
Senior correspondent Bob Chamberlain lives with his dog at 8,000 feet in Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley.
Film: “A Story For Tomorrow,” by Gnarly Bay Productions
“A Story for Tomorrow” has 400,000 views on Vimeo because it taps into something: It captures the feeling of a trip that could be your trip. It is a 5½-minute video that is the perfect answer to the question “How was your trip?” And you wish instead of telling people, “Oh, we had a great time,” that you could make something like “A Story for Tomorrow” and show it to them instead. As soon as it stops at 5 minutes, 36 seconds, you find yourself starting to research plane tickets, maybe, but not necessarily to Chile, where Dana Saint shot the footage for the film (including Patagonia and the Atacama Desert). Narrated by Argentine actor Castulo Guerra, the film is more than vacation shots — the voice-over gives it a fairy-tale feel, and you can’t help be inspired to do something other than sit at your desk when he asks, “Did you enjoy your story?” vimeo.com/36519586
Kindle: “The Climbing Zine,” by Luke Mehall
For Volume III of The Climbing Zine, writer, climber and all-around swell guy/dirtbag Luke Mehall decided to make the digital leap and bring his publication from its grassroots in southwest Colorado and make it available on Amazon.com’s Kindle Reader. Mehall, whose work has appeared in Climbing, the MG, Rock and Ice and Patagonia’s The Cleanest Line blog, has made the hard-copy ’zine available at locations in Durango, Crested Butte and Gunnison or by mail since its inception, a homegrown publication true to the DIY/tradition of ’zines. Luke’s homespun tales make up the majority of the content, and he’s been living the life long enough, and climbed so extensively, that you feel his well of stories might never run out — and could power the ’zine for decades. I don’t own a Kindle, but I love the Kindle iPhone app, and I love the idea of taking the The Climbing Zine with me on my phone in a tent, dentist office waiting room, airport security line and you know, public restroom. $4, amazon.com, climbingzine.com
Books: “Mountain Heroes: Portraits of Adventure,” by Huw Lewis-Jones
How awesome could a book of portraits of mountaineers and climbers be? Pretty awesome. “Mountain Heroes” is an encyclopedia of legendary figures spanning the 20th century: Sir Chris Bonington, Yvon Chouinard, Lynn Hill, George Lowe, Tom Hornbein, Reinhold Messner, Don Whillians, Steph Davis, Galen Rowell, Sir Edmund Hillary, Dean Potter, Apa Sherpa, Ines Papert, Maurice Herzog, Warren Harding, Royal Robbins, Tenzing Norgay, Steve House, Fred Beckey, George Mallory — to name just a few of the characters profiled. Each portrait is accompanied by the climber’s bio, making this a CliffsNotes of the who’s who in the history of mountain climbing. It’s paperback, but coffee table material — full-color photos, and easy to pick up and flip through for a couple minutes, and then an hour.
Web: Nature Valley Trail View
If you understand Google Street View, the technology that enabled Google to let you look at a 360-degree photo of any neighborhood on your computer screen, you will understand Nature Valley Trail View, which shows you 300 miles of trails in three national parks. Which is pretty rad. I’ll just go out on a limb and say that a 360-degree view from the Grandview Trail in the Grand Canyon is better than almost anything on Google Street View. A team used a backpack camera to capture footage of trails in the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Great Smoky Mountains national parks (a good bet since those three are the perennial top-three-visited national parks in America). The application, which launched in March, is free to view on the web at
Tuning in … Greg Pettys wails a solo song in a house full of soul and bread.
Just when you thought we were safely out of the ’60s, along comes another generation glomming onto some of the love, peace and music concepts idealistically developed back in our various decade-long delusional altered states.
Although it wasn’t the hippies that conceptualized communal living with all-night jam sessions. Sharing space, women and food was advocated in recorded 5th-century Persia, where Zoroastrianism was the dominant religion, with doctrines encouraging its followers to take delight in life’s pleasures — eating, drinking, friendship, love without domination, no war or bloodshed and an open-home policy for all who needed shelter from the storm.
Persian reformer Mazdak carried the “share-the-wealth” ideology into the 6th century and professed that vegetarianism and free love was the way. Fast forward to late-19th century Germany, where Der Wandervogel (translated as rambling, hiking or wandering bird … yes, the original Freebird) emphasized amateur music and singing, unorthodox clothes and getting back to nature and was probably most influential to the ’60s hippie movement.
The ’60s band houses were a communal concept, where musicians ate, slept, worked and played together to maximize the creativity and share the joy of an uninhibited life. But the reality was usually quite different, especially if you had to have a day job and you’d come home to find your food stash in the refrigerator consumed by the guitarist who strummed all day and smoked all your weed. However, all trespasses were later forgiven through music and endless passing of the peace pipe.
Many of the neo-hippie musicians today are the spawn of their grandparents’ culture. Dreadheaded, long-haired, organic bio-musicians living in peace and harmonies under the same roof and sharing a healthier lifestyle through drumming circles, dance, yoga and musical dedication. In a rambling drafty house that was once a mountain bar from the old mining days in Crested Butte, a clan of seven mostly musicians live with Walter the dog. And recently, Eli the Kundalini yoga instructor, who was friend of a friend of a friend, moved in behind the still-intact original bar at the far end of the living room. They are referred to as the bread mafia, since most of the household members also help run their business, Mountain Oven (mountainoven.com), whose mission is “ … to bake delicious and wholesome goods for our community with creativity and love.” A package deal of soul food, music and a sense of extended family.
Lizzy Plotkin, mandolin player, fiddler and vocalist, says they’re all in about four bands (one of which is The Wild), in addition to the live-in ongoing jams. They’re melding music. Housemate Greg Pettys, who wails on horn and guitar, explains the incestuous nature of the commune. “We share each other lovingly. We have to, it’s a small town.” He also acknowledges that the love of learning to play multiple instruments is born of necessity. If they need a bass player, someone will pick up a bass and learn it. They all sing. “Like the Jack of all trades you have to be to live here in this town, it’s survival,” he claims. “We moved into this house as musicians, but we didn’t play together until recently.” Greg says the musical clan was initiated to relive stress. “We’re always working, living and loving together and the music is nice therapy. Everyone gets along when we start playing music.”
Another member of the Mountain Oven household is Jonathan Brown, who has seen four winters in Crested Butte. “I’m teaching myself keys so I can be in a loud dirty band with a friend,” he says, adding that he’s encouraged and inspired by his housemates. “All struggle is creative and an impetus for new art and intentional living. It’s a single house but it spreads to multiple houses.” Brown notes there are two other music houses on their street. “Everyone pooling energy, food, talents and skills to raise the bar. It makes it easier, providing more free time to allow people to devote themselves to whatever inspires them and feeds their soul.”
As for the healthier lifestyle, they all claim to save the acid for Vinotok, the local pagan autumnal festival. It’s just nice to know that the culture of love, peace, music and homemade bread is still alive and cookin’. Carry on.
Dawne Belloise is a freelance writer, photographer and vocalist who has lived communally in many hippie band houses throughout cosmos. She is currently hitting the open road with her guitar, 20 lb cat and a bird named Spike. Email email@example.com
Dusty Lanci rides the Owyhee River (OR) in style. Photo by Sarah Lanci.
The newest member of the mountain-brewing fraternity is Elevation Beer Co., a start-up taking root in Poncha Springs. If you find yourself wondering, where in the hell is Poncha Springs, don’t feel bad. Half the Chaffee County locals interviewed couldn’t place it. Head north, and you’re in Buena Vista. Head east to nearby Salida. Head west and you’ll be on Monarch Pass. Head south for the Poncha Pass and the metropolis of Saguache.
If this sounds like a remote location for a brewery, it is. But for their business plan, Poncha is centrally located. Elevation intends to brew for a different market than many microbreweries. Rather than going after taps and brewing for volume, Elevation plans three product lines for production. Based on the rating scheme for ski trails, their Blue Square brews will be easier-drinking beers, and distributed locally on tap.
The other two lines, dubbed Black Diamond and Double Black, will feature bigger, bolder expressions of beer style with the first releases to be a Belgian Quadruple made with caramelized honey and a Farmhouse Ale aged in chardonnay barrels. These will be distributed “corked & caged” in 750ml champagne bottles throughout Colorado and are aimed at the beer aficionado market. Look for Elevation where you buy beer by press time, and stop in for their grand opening to be held at the brewery on May 19th.
Since we last checked in with the Eddyline Brewery, located in the South Main area of Buena Vista (MG #179), things seem to have been going well. A new facility and canning line is complete and operational, and distribution in 16-ounce cans has taken off with a newly inked deal that should put their beer on shelves across the High Country of Colorado this summer. To celebrate, Eddyline is co-sponsoring the Colorado Kayak Supply (CKS) Paddlefest on May 25-27th and will have a special release, Paddlefest Pilsner a.k.a Boater Beer, on hand for the event. This beer is a craft-brewed American Lager, perfect for hot summer days on the river. With back-to-back “Best of the Fest” awards from the Telluride Blues n’ Brews festival to their name, Eddyline is on a roll heading into summer 2012.
According to head brewer Mike LaCroix, Amicas Microbrewery in Salida will be featuring several seasonal releases, as well as a few new brews this spring. In addition to the Ute Trail Pale Ale, look for the next in their series of single-hop IPAs to be released, with this version featuring the Australian grown “Galaxy” hop. Single-hop IPAs take a simple base beer and then bitter it with one variety of hop, rather than mixing several to generate a more complex hop profile. The idea is to provide a clean base on which to showcase the flavors of the hop variety without distraction. Mike has also been exploring the craft of barrel-aging beer, and will be releasing an Imperial Brown Honey Ale, aged in a bourbon barrel for several months. It should come in around 12% abv, and will only be available on tap starting in mid-April.
Also in Salida, Moonlight Pizza has begun brewing beer. Billed as “beer for the worker bees,” the brewing operation was started to complement the existing pizza business. All indications are that this is a groovy place worthy of a stop, as they say, after running a marathon, leading your first 5.10b or swimming a rapid.
Erich Hennig is an avid homebrewer and lives in Durango, CO.
Ashes on the Colorado Utah • 1979
It’s not the River Ganges; these are only campfire ashes they’re spreading on the waters, and these guys are not really panning for souls, either. However, the ashes of a couple of close relatives would eventually be committed to these
My mother in this way hoped to meet up with my father again, even though he was given to the sea off-shore of Monterey Bay.
I released Karen at the same spot on the Roaring Fork River, near its confluence with MacFarlane Creek, east of Aspen. It always was a matter of catch-and-release with her, anyway. It’s Gold Medal Waters. ‘Nuff said.
Senior correspondent Bob Chamberlain lives with his dog at 8,000 feet in Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley.