Saturday, May 29, 2010

Another Side of Hueco

Wow. I thought it was hot in Vegas. No, it is hot in Vegas, but it feels hotter here. First day of guide training done. Half the day learning about the park, the second half consisting of a scorching afternoon rock art tour. The heat smothers. It's great to see Hueco in the spring; the vegetation is in bloom, and the meadows are a vibrant green, but it's hard to enjoy. Two more days.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

4th Down Punt - Priest Draw Day 11

Today was supposed to be my last day climbing before leaving for Hueco, but after my performance on the rocks this afternoon I have to go back tomorrow morning. I'm not sure if I am still recovering from food poisoning, not using the right beta, weak, making excuses, or all of the above, but I failed miserably today on Carnivore . It makes me wonder. This climb receives the local grade of V8, but I've worked on it now for three days. It's never taken me this long to send that grade. Not even my first V8. I'm not saying that this climb is V9, but it's interesting to think that the type of climbing in Priest Draw is such that when the body gets used to it the problems, and figures out the best methods for sending, they no doubt feel immensely easier. Ah, the power of good beta. I know I do not have it, as I let my feet cut loose three separate times, but it is to late now to change up. Hopefully I can put this climb in the bag tomorrow morning and leave for Hueco with a better taste of Flagstaff in my mouth.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Resting & Dracula - Priest Draw Day 10

Resting today, climbing tomorrow, driving to Hueco the day after that.

On a completely unrelated note, 113 years ago today Bram Stoker's Dracula hit the bookshelves in London. Stoker took over seven years to write this now classic work of fiction. There is a Twilight joke here, but I'd rather not.

The book that everyone pretends they have read.

Sealed with a kiss.

Count Dracula takes a strong stand in the education of our youth.

The delicious side of Dracula.

Patience - Priest Draw Day 9

I went out again to try Carnivore, but to no avail. I still feel weaker than I should. My overall endurance has plummeted, and after two hour session I felt my body giving up. I decided to take a walk through the rest of the Draw. Here are some photos:

Big & Little.

Dead thing.

Don't mess.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Learning and Adjusting - Priest Draw Day 8

I started this blog for one main reason: to post videos. I decided to start making climbing videos to get people psyched. To keep motivation up when stuck in an office forty hours a week. I have planned trips because of videos and I thought that I could further that.

With every video I feel that I learn something. Initially I thought certain things were important that are turning out not to be, and just get in the way of the visuals. Grades for one. Interview-style beta spray is another. These were things I had not seen in videos that I would have liked to see. The best way to find out if it works is to try it on the masses. Looks like it has been left out of videos for a reason. That's fine.

I will continue to learn and make videos for the enjoyment, and I hope that this enjoyment will transfer to the viewer as well. With that said Here are a couple videos using this new philosophy. Enjoy.

Floor Pie, Priest Draw from BLOCHEAD on Vimeo.

Anorexic (Redux), Priest Draw from BLOCHEAD on Vimeo.

Meat Eater, Priest Draw from BLOCHEAD on Vimeo.

As for climbing today I felt okay after two days in bed from the food poisoning, and managed a send of Meat Eater with key links in Carnivore. Both are great climbs, but my energy drained fast and I could not walk away with a send of Carnivore. It felt great to be climbing again. This is such a beautiful place.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Juiced - Priest Draw Day 7

The road to recovery is paved in liquids. For food poisoning. At least the weather is making it easier to rest. High winds and patches of rain. Tomorrow looks good weather wise, let's just hope my body aligns as well. In the mean time here is the second installment of the beta series featuring Anorexic Enjoy.

BETAMAX - Anorexic V7, Priest Draw from BLOCHEAD on Vimeo.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Turning to Stone - Priest Draw Day 6

Food poisoning. Couldn't even keep water down.

Hours later a paramedic sticks an IV in my arm and my body freezes up. I can't open my fingers, can't feel my toes, and my skin stretches against my neck and stomach muscles. I thought I'd never move them again. I felt as if i were turning to stone.

Five minutes (hours) later and I felt the blood creeping back into my paralyzed limbs. I thought of only one thing, then fell into a daze.

Two liters of fluid directly into my veins and I start to feel strength returning. My blood pressures still low. Wound up spending over seven hours in the hospital. I hadn't eaten in twenty-two hours.

Tomorrow looks like a recovery day and then we'll see.

Translation: Pain


Friday, May 21, 2010

Starting from Scratch - Priest Draw Day 5

It took one and one half days for my muscles to recover. While eating breakfast and blasting Kanye West two Vegas climbers, Josh and James, drove by. I was psyched to see them and said I'd meet them at the Bat Roof to warm up.

Pulling on my muscles didn't scream. I actually felt good. On to Floor Pie.

I sent first go and recreated some moves for a video I'll most likely cut together next rest day. Feeling loose and gaining some much needed confidence the three of us hiked over to Anorexic. After a couple foot cuts and a campus move I found myself at the sloper over the lip, and though the top-out was not the most stylish, it was done. Again, I isolated some movement for close-ups and decided to try the right exit, Meat Eater, V8. I came pretty close to flashing, thanks to good spots and encouragement from Josh and James, but the crux was enigmatic enough to cause me to hesitate, something I've found the Draw to have little tolerance for, and spat me off.

I worked the moves a bit, figured out a sequence, decided to save it for later, and we marched on to Mars Roof.

I was hoping to stash my pad there for the next session, however upon arriving Carrie said that hers had been stolen from its cave. Disgusting. I hope that whoever swiped the pad is cursed with a long punting streak. Preferably off top-out jugs.

The moves on The Receptionist felt easier today, and that was encouraging. I still have a long way to go, but it's the progress that keeps the motivation afloat.

James cooling down on the famous Cheetos Boulder.

Josh still smiling at the end of the day.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Dissecting the Draw - Priest Draw Day 4

Resting today. Cut together this video of Andrew and Craig putting Magellan to shame with their navigation skills through the pockets of Priest Draw.

Dissecting the Draw from BLOCHEAD on Vimeo.


Consequences of Gluttony - Priest Draw Day 3

I thought that it was just the early morning aches. I thought I could eat breakfast, move around, warm up and climb hard. My body thought otherwise.

Craig and Andrew were psyched to get to Mars Roof as it was their last day to climb. I told them I would catch up and took my time getting out. Everything was stiff. Big muscles. Shoulder stabilizers, obliques, even hamstrings. I had overdone it.

I tried to warm up anyway, ignoring the pain. Once I pulled on Floor Pie I knew it was over though. Everything screamed. I ate a little, took some Ibuprofen, and hiked to Anorexic. With sudden amnesia I thought "Why not?" and again once pulling on my body wailed in protest. It wasn't going to happen. Not to worry though. Sore muscles are muscles recovering, getting stronger, I kept telling myself as I hiked out to meet Andrew and Craig and snap a few photos.

Craig working out the beta.

Andrew decides to take the advice on his shirt give it one more go.

It turned out to be one of those days. The energy of the group was good, and everyone was positive, however no one sent. I prefer that then the inverse however. There was progress afoot, and that's enough sometimes. Craig made huge linkage in his epic battle with the Sam Davis variation into Suplexing Navajos, dubbed Navajo Thunder Pussy, V12. It has not seen a second ascent, but it wouldn't be a stretch to say that Craig will nab it in the near future. Andrew did some more work on Carnivore, but without success.

Even Fisher was beat.

Andrew on the only send of the day. A classic and rare V0 slab climb.

At the end of the day I was bummed to leave them for my empty campsite. I am currently the only person camping in the entire park. I've done solo climbing trips before, however this is different. At least there were people, even strangers when I was in Bishop and Hueco Tanks alone. Here I am forced to be with myself, someone I have a hard time facing. At night the doubts, the worry, and the complete emptiness close in, suffocating my mind and keeping me up until the early hours of the morning. There is something more to this feeling however, something I feel that I can learn from it. What it is I'll have to find out.


Limestoned - Priest Draw Day 2

My closet and a little tribute to my better half.

Minko the Bulgarian crushmaster.

I slept little, woke early, ate breakfast and shot off on a whirlwind tour of the Draw with Minko.

Staying at each zone less than five minutes we managed to make it from the Puzzle Box Roof to Mars Roof in just over an hour, stopping only briefly at Bat Roof to warm up. The roofs were too much for me to take in. Minko sprayed a half-beta for each, and commonly said, "There is a trick, but I forget what it is."

I was still processing when we reached Mars Roof. The gem of the area this behemoth boasts a sea of pockets, mind numbing sequences, and nothing easier than V10. A true testament to hard bouldering I found myself instantly intimidated, simply staring at the roof as Minko put his shoes on to give his project Suplexing Navajos, V10 a few burns before hitting the road.

Navigation of pockets
Suplexing Navajos, V10

Minko left without a send, and I decided to hike back with him to collect my thoughts and plan out what problems I wanted to try first. I was also anticipating the arrival of a pair from Vegas later that afternoon.

After eating lunch I went out again to try a couple problems on the Floor Pie Roof. I managed to thug my way up Twister, V7 and was messing around on the Egyptian, V11 when a woman and a dog walked up the path below me. When she took off her sunglasses I recognized her, but couldn't put a name to her face. After introductions I learned that she was local strong woman Carrie Cooper, a climber I featured on the blog a few posts ago climbing The Receptionist, Cosmic Tricycle, and Black Hole, all V10!

After hiking Floor Pie, V8 and giving me some key beta, we moved on to the Monster Roof where I managed to send Thin Man, V6. And a little contrivance Carrie pioneered dubbed Carrie's Invalid Salad..

We talked of mutual acquaintances, favorite compression problems, the excitement of naming a new boulder, humming birds, lizards, and how satisfying the curiosity of a three year old like a second undergraduate degree. It's very inspiring to meet strong people like this in the climbing community who have such a positive attitude toward climbing, and lack both ego and entitlement. I had forgotten how great it can be to climb with such people.

After another trip to the Mars Roof I was completely burned out. Carrie helped me to find my way through the pockets of The Receptionist and I surprised myself by doing all the moves and linking through nearly half of it. Meanwhile Carrie spent more time upside down working Suplexing Navajos than resting. Her endurance is amazing.

As the sun slanted off the polished limestone and the Mars Roof glowed orange it was time to head back.

Along the way I spotted the duo from Vegas: Craig Berman and Andrew Spencer. I decided to split with Carrie and tag along with them instead of sitting at the campsite alone.

Andrew made short work of the ultra-classic Anorexic, V7, and sussed the moves on Carnivore, V9 before heading to Mars Roof to stash pads and rediscover beta.

Mars Roof three times in one day. I'd been out in the Draw for over 12 hours. Lips chapped, body aching I ambled back to camp, ate without tasting anything, started a fire for distraction, killed it, and fell asleep.

This photo is for Carrie's daughter Ava (and to some extent Carrie). Thanks again for showing me around!


Roofs and Trees - Priest Draw Day 1

Four and a half hours from Las Vegas to the forest. I drove in as the sun fell and the trees turned to black. Holding only a food stained piece of paper with a scribbled topo in my lap (Big thanks to the folks at the local gym Vertical Relief for the map) I drove into Priest Draw.

Custom map courtesy of Vertical Relief

The thermometer in my car read 46 degrees. Thin air crisp with pine, a sliver of moon, and a Bulgarian in a van greeted me as I stepped out of the car. I asked the stranger in the van if this was the spot, it was. He then saw me dragging my crashpads from the car and sparked up a conversation. We went back and forth, psyching each other up. Minko had done everything in the park, and I hadn't touched or seen a roof yet. He couldn't believe it and assured me that he'd show me the classics in the morning before leaving on a ten-hour drive to Rifle.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Priest Draw to Hueco

Leaving for Priest Draw today. Couldn't be more excited. I found out that a few other people from Vegas are going to be there too, so I might not be climbing solo then entire time after all. After the Draw it's off to Hueco Tanks for guide training. I'm really looking forward to going back. Although it will be too hot to climb I feel a connection to Hueco that I don't feel to other places. I spent a lot of time there, and the feeling is akin to that of going home after a long stretch. It will be good to go back, and even better this coming winter season.

In the meantime here's another video of the Draw.

Max Sending The Egyptian (V11) from Bruno Ferreira on Vimeo.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Master(s) of None

I found out today that a climb I thought I put up a couple days ago had already been done. Whoops. That's embarrassing. Especially after posting to Dead Point Magazine. It happens. The first ascent actually belongs to now local strong man Pete Lowe. Obviously I was not trying to steal Pete's glory. I'm happy the line has been found. All I have been doing in my time back in Vegas is trying to explore and get the word out about the potential so more Pete Lowe's will come put up more fun rock climbs, like Master of None.

The funny thing is that he dubbed it the exact same name I did. Considering that the name is pretty logical, completing the proverb 'Jack of all trades, master of none,' it's not as suprising, but still. He could have chosen anything. I could have chosen anything. It makes me wonder.

How many first ascentionists go unsung? How many climbs in hyper-developed places like Hueco, Bishop, or Fontainebleu have been done years ago, but never spoken of? With the advent of websites like and the rise of the climber/videographer these mistakes are lessened, but next time you develop what you think is a new line take a minute to wonder if you were really up there first.

Here is the revised video.

Master of None V8, Red Rocks from Max Moore on Vimeo.


Kraft in a Day

Yesterday might have been my last time climbing at Kraft for the season. The temperatures are only getting hotter, and I can feel the moisture in my fingertips mid climb. Time to look toward the higher altitudes. Colorado? Arizona? We'll see. It's going to be an amazing summer either way.

As for yesterday I had the opportunity to give a couple friends from Chicago the whirlwind tour of the area. It felt great to be with people that had never seen the area. I forget how much I take for granted. I get so focused on a project that I manage to develop tunnel vision in such a beautiful place.

I think it did me some good to have a relaxing day with these two, and served as a good cap to the season. We spanned nearly the entire guidebook, from Potato Chips to Jack of All Trades, making the essential stops at the Pearl and the Monkey Bar boulder.

I didn't get on anything terribly hard, climbing on whatever those guys were excited about. Other than repeats of Monkey Bar Direct, The Pearl, and Jack of All Trades, I didn't climb much. Peter made quick work of the best V2's in the field, flashing Potato Chips and knocking off Monkey Left in two burns. At the end of the day I gave a few lame duck attempts at the Muscle and Blood project, but fell on link going to the horrible sloper. Might as well let that boulder bake all summer and hope that somehow it feels easier by Christmas.

Peter on the opening moves of Jack of All Trades, V4

Getting stretchy on The Missing Link, V5

Tongue is out, must be trying hard.

Sums up the feel of the day.

As we hiked out the sun had just fallen over the ridge, and the whole boulder field glowed red. The air hot, no wind. It's been a good season.


Saturday, May 15, 2010


After a week off the itch is strong and the motivation is high. Today I'm heading out to show a buddy from Chicago some of the new problems in the wash and hopefully working on Tailpipe for a bit, as it's too hot to touch the sloper project. Tomorrow's high of 93 degrees calls for a plastic session, then off to Priest Draw on Monday! I have never climbed in Arizona, but have been looking forward to this mini road trip for a while. It's a good way to break up the 12 hour drive to Hueco for guide training.

Inevitably I've started amassing an ambitious list of problems for the two week jaunt:

Anorexic, V6
The Receptionist,V10
Carnivore Direct,V9
Wife Beater,V8
Cosmic Tricycle,V10
Cosmic Bicycle,V8
The Girl, V11
Suplexing Navajos,V10

Here are a couple inspiring videos of Carrie Cooper crushing a few ticks on the list. Enjoy.

The Receptionist v10 from Carrie Cooper on Vimeo.

The Spree from Carrie Cooper on Vimeo.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Masters of Plastic

I was wondering when someone would turn the camera to gym climbing. Other than Progression's coverage of Patxi Usobiaga's monomaniac training regiment building up to the World Cup final I haven't seen much plastic on film. I think there is a reason for that.

Gyms are great. They are leveling the playing field across the country and giving people from places like Florida and Iowa somewhere to crush. I started climbing in Chicago, where not only was there no rock, there were barely any gyms. Fortunately one of the best bouldering gyms that I have ever trained in, Hidden Peak, calls Chicago home. Gyms are not bad places to spend your time, but they are bad places for a camera.

Most people train indoors in order to be strong when they take weekend, month-long, or quit-your-job-fuck-it road trips to amazing places they have seen in capacities ranging from word of mouth and photos to Big Up and Sender Films quality coverage. This does not work the other way around. I don't care how sick the plastic route may be to climb on. From a visual stand point it becomes monotonous to see colorful plastic holds on a brown background. Yes, the movement may be awesome and slow motion dynos can help as well, but no gym can convey the vastness of an area, the sheer exposure of a face, or the complex colors and features of an area that make it a destination.

That said, here is a short from Big Up that posted this morning showcasing some of the strongest kids in the gym game right now, including the much debated 8-year-old girl that sent Power of Silence. They make a good argument for pulling plastic.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Loose Ends

Looks like we're caught up to speed. It's getting hot here in Vegas. I'm taking this week off to rest and entertain a buddy from out of town. After that I'll be here for a bit before heading off to Priest Draw for a week or so on the way to Hueco Tanks for guide training. There are always loose ends at the end of a season or road trip, so true to form here are a few lines that I'm psyched on for the future.

Ode to the Modern Mayor, V10
Desert Rain, V10
Tailpipe, V9
Muscle and Blood Project, V11?

Desert Rain, V10
Photo: Liberty Herring

Huge boulder!

Photo: Liberty Herring

Ode to the Modern Mayor, V10
Photo: Liberty Herring

Project Photo: Liberty Herring

Red Rocks 2010 from Becky Trafecanty on Vimeo.

Good video showcasing Caliman, V7 and Tailpipe, V9



About a week ago I got some footage of a couple classics in Kraft to try an experiment. When I watch a bouldering video, or any climbing video for that matter, it's usually to glean beta and decipher the crux, landing, top out, or otherwise. In a DECENT climbing vid you may get some helpful close-ups, but even if you have that it can be tough to determine micro beta, foot trickery, or otherwise. I decided to make a series of videos where I talk about the problem in full detail, with full visual coverage of the climb.


Some people hate this. Bouldering is about figuring it out yourself. What's with the lame spray? That's cheating! Etc. Okay. Maybe you're on to something. Maybe that's what bouldering is to you, and I even tend to agree, but as someone who does a lot of solo trips and isolated bouldering I like to know some basic information before I get on a climb. It's no different than if I were on a huge trip with ten people, getting ten different eyes and ideas in order to distill the best beta of a problem.

Most importantly...

This video project has the advertisement of boulder problems as its priority. I wanted to show these lines off as classic problems that are fun to climb, so without further ado here is the pilot video in the series.

BETAMAX - Monkey Bar Direct V8 & Direct Right V9, Red Rocks from Max Moore on Vimeo.


Master of None V8

Most recently I went out in the morning to try the Muscle and Blood project on the Diesel and Gremlin boulder. I thought that I might be able to beat the sun before it crested over the eastern rim of the wash. I was wrong. So wrong. The boulder was still cool from the night before, however the climb was in direct sunlight. Eight in the morning and I'm out in the wash with no project. Great.

Hoping to try Tailpipe before the sun rose too high, I hiked past Jack of All Trades, a V4 I had walked by a few times but never done.

After sending the line I noticed what I thought was a line heading up the featureless arete on the right side of the boulder. After working out the beta I tried a few times from the bottom, but the slopers were heating up fast and I had to give it up.

Later that day after the sun fell behind the western edge of the wash the itch was too strong and I made the hike back to the boulder to finish it up second try.

The name of the problem finishes up the proverb. Jack of all trades, master of none. Enjoy.

UPDATE: I did not get the first ascent of this problem. I recently found out that Pete Lowe did it first and coincidentally gave it the same name. He rated it V7, however I think it is closer to V8. Thanks to Bill for the info, saving me at least a little embarrassment.

Master of None V8, Red Rocks from Max Moore on Vimeo.


Diesel and Gremlin V7

Right in the middle of the wash! How was this overlooked? Very interesting boulder with a standing start. Bust a semi-campus move, throw a heel parallel to your head and launch! I originally spotted the line to the left, stretching your body out to a terrible sloper, but as it turns out this line will probably fall in the V11 range. Psyched! It feels good to discover a line that hard. I feel like my line spotting chops are up and am only more excited to keep exploring. The only downer is the temps. In fact, the line may have to wait until next winter if the heat keeps up. Either way it's something to look forward to.

This line is dedicated to the two strongest cats coming out of Chicago. Isabelle Faus ( and MIchaela Kiersch.

Diesel and Gremlin V7 First Ascent, Red Rocks from Max Moore on Vimeo.


Americana Exotica V10

This is by far the best line I have done in Vegas to date. I was instantly attracted to the strange character of this wall, located just above Rain or Shine and Life Without Liberty. This line is a perfect example of the amount of potential that the Kraft wash still holds. After six days of work on this intensely physical six-move beast I finally reached the thank god jug at the top.

Brush it for luck!

Curls for the girls.

The last hard move. Left hand to a wide, accurate pinch.

Thank God for Thank God jugs.

Photos by Liberty Herring

My buddy Isaac also has some cool photos of this climb here:


Rain of Shine V3

Here's another line right around the corner from Life Without Liberty. So far this new area, dubbed Big Blocs, has turned out to be the most concentrated new zone hosting Americana Exotica V10, Centerfold V8, Life Without Liberty V6, The Missing Link V5, and now this V3. Also notable are two heinous V12's Lethal Design and Book of Nightmares.

Rain or Shine V3 First Ascent, Red Rocks from Max Moore on Vimeo.


Life Without Liberty V6

I was surprised to find that this three-move power arete hadn't been done. If only it was longer. Named after another short powerhouse I happen to know. The video doesn't do the crimps on the left side justice. They are miserable. Fun last move.

Life Without Liberty V6 First Ascent, Red Rocks from Max Moore on Vimeo.


War and Peace V7

Very excited to find this line. Well rediscover this line. The stand has apparently been done since the late nineties, but a tough first move from the sit adds a lot of value to an easier compression ending using atypical holds. Here is a video of the FA. Unfortunately had to shoot it alone. The war is down low, then negotiate a peaceful topout.

War and Peace V7 First Ascent, Red Rocks from Max Moore on Vimeo.


Fight Night V5

The first new problem I found this season in Vegas. Also my first FA! Somewhat lowball with great movement. You can see this nose-like feature on the ridge of the hill from the Red Springs parking lot. Hasn't seen a second ascent, tentatively rated V5.

Had free tickets for the Jones Vs. Hopkins fight later that night. That's where the name comes from.

Fight Night V5 First Ascent, Red Rocks from Max Moore on Vimeo.


Drunken Monkey V8

The first new problem I was introduced to since my return to Vegas. Thanks to Cory Taylor. This beautiful overhanging arete is most definitely worth the hour hike. Located off the Oak Creek pullout (last stop on the Red Rocks scenic loop) it is the gem of an area primed for an explosion of development. Powerful moves on solid rock. Originally graded V9 it seems to be easier with some trick beta. Shout out to Bill on the FA.

Sticking the last hard move.

Cory Taylor cruises the opening moves


New Vegas

It's been a great winter. After a two month road trip I feel stronger than ever coming back to Vegas. Since I've been back home I've been doing nothing but exploring. With the help of a few locals I've been introduced to a plethora of new boulders all over the area and even managed to put up a few new lines myself. Here are some new Vegas highlights:

Kraft Wash

Americana Exotica, V10 -6th Ascent.
Centerfold, V8 -2nd Ascent. FA Andrew Spencer.
War and Peace, V7 FA.
Diesel and Gremlin, V7 FA.
Life Without Liberty, V6 FA.
The Missing Link, V5 2nd Ascent. FA Andrew Spencer.

West of the Cube

Welcome to Detroit, V5 FA.

Red Springs

Fight Night V5 FA.

Oak Creek

Drunken Monkey V8.

The astonishing thing is how many of these lines took little to no bushwhacking to find. The amount of potential in this area immense. Photos and video to come.



BLOCHEAD started out of a need for more. More areas being developed. More videos to get psyched on. More coverage on who's warming up on your projects and sending your dreams. More photos that make you realize why Rock & Ice didn't call you back about all those butt shots you submitted.

As a BLOCHEAD myself, I scour the internet daily looking for these things and felt that it was only natural to start giving back in one way or another. Here it is. With some personal narrative, some news, some interesting and some unrelated, hopefully you'll get your fix.

Hope you enjoy.