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All "climbing" and no Climbing makes Jim a dull boy.

As climbing pop-culture descends into decadence, steeze, and womp “music,” it is often hard to find reminders of why I love it so much – why it has woven itself into the fabric of my waking life and the lofty heights of my dreams – why my own pilgrimages into the mountains are so refreshing to my soul and important to my perspective on life and love and tomorrow. Despite all the hoopla and media, I love climbing for the escape from the irrational, silly madness that usually plagues my centrifugal mind; an escape from the people and responsibility that stand between me and a deep breath of distant air. Desperately clinging to the earth, fighting gravity in the ultimate battle where failure is catastrophic, pushes all other concerns to the back and puts me in a place that is more present and mindful than any other pursuit that I’ve found under the sun or moon.

And the thing that originally drew me to climbing was its counter cultural properties, the fact that it existed on the fringe where what we were doing was unique or at least different than any other sport in the world. And it allowed me to be whatever I wanted, as the wild undertaker judges us not on the merits of our charm and popularity, but on our boldness and durability.

Living in Boulder can really skew all that for me, where it’s so cool to be a climber that the only way to exist on the fringe is to cease climbing and never mention it in conversation. It’s really only when I get away from the egotistical pissing contest that I remember why and how I love the vertical pursuit.

I’m coming back into climbing after about five months off. Taking a step back for the first time since I started climbing five years ago has been very illuminating. I found myself viewing the culture through a professional rather than recreational lens, and felt a profound disconnect between the climbing I pursue on a personal level and the images and sounds and paychecks that I pursue professionally. Not-so-bueno.

So today, again with a temporary lull in deadlines, I’ve gone back through some of my favorite climbing images from the past few years to spark my inspiration and get my ass back on the wall and once again dreaming of high places.

 

 

All “climbing” and no Climbing makes Jim a dull boy.

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High Places

I came to the office today with no agenda and decided to make a gallery of my favorite mountain scenic photos that I’ve taken over the years, wandering in these environments, having distant adventures, and discovering unique corners of the world where some dawn light sneaking over the ridge illuminates distant corners of my self, leaving an impression and making great photographs. Its been a minute since I’ve been out there, working all day long for the images and letting everything else fade to the back. Editing the gallery puts me back in those high places and keeps my spirit elevated when it is feeling stifled.

Locations include Alaska, Nepal, Bishop, Colorado, Hawaii, Mexico, Laos, Wyoming, Nevada, and Utah.

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Urban Fervor with One Eye Closed

 

 

 

 

Yesterday I spent the day running around Denver with Timmy O’Neill and a crew from Petzl America to shoot a short film about the new Pixa headlamp. It was creative, fun, and turned into a sixteen hour day romping around downtown. We shot at the steps of the Capital building, alleyways off of Larimer street, the 16th street mall at sunset, and inside the Colorado Convention Center, which officially constitutes the most time I’ve ever spent in Denver. And I have to say, it’s changed my perception of that city a bit.

There is something about seeing a place through the lens, capturing it with my own eye, which somehow adds color and character to the setting. I feel invested in its angles and contrast, and become aware of its dark corners and interesting characters. I experience an enhanced appreciation for anything after I’ve harnessed it for my art. I suppose it is gratitude for participation and the inside joke that only we can share. I love my job.

 

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TGIFF

On this auspicious Friday morning I am feeling particularly good. In the last week I’ve had two photos published (seen here), scheduled three shoots for next week (two climbing, one commercial), and get nearer every day to the premiere of my first feature climbing film in two years. I’ve had a couple of setbacks this week which couldn’t help but pervade every corner of my waking hours, but today things are starting to feel different.

My roommate got fired from his job this morning and strolled back into the apartment at 9 am with an ironic smile saying “fi-yerd,” which resonated soundly with my recent experience of rejection. Sometimes a good spurning is the best impetus to finally take control of one’s happiness.

After watching “High Fidelity” last night I’ve had “Walking on Sunshine” stuck in my head all night, and quickly threw it on the new stereo system at full volume, which inspired a rousing AM dance party between me, my newly liberated roommate, and my all time favorite house guest who had stirred from the futon only moments before. Sometimes I get so caught up in being hard on myself that I forget all the things I have to celebrate… so that is the goal for this weekend. That, and a shit load of editing 🙂

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Fluid Chaos

“Once you have given up the ghost, everything follows with dead certainty, even in the midst of chaos. From the beginning it was never anything but chaos: it was a fluid which enveloped me, which I breathed in through the gills. In the substrata, where the moon shone steady and opaque, it was smooth and fecundating; above it was a jangle and a discord. In everything I quickly saw the opposite, the contradiction, and between the real and the unreal the irony, the paradox. I was my own worst enemy. There was nothing I wished to do which I could just as well not do. Even as a child, when I lacked for nothing, I wanted to die: I wanted to surrender because I saw no sense in struggling. I felt that nothing would be proved, substantiated, added or subtracted by continuing an existence which i had not asked for. Everybody around me was a failure, or if not a failure, ridiculous. Especially the successful ones. The successful ones bored me to tears.”

With this prescient passage, Henry Miller opens his “Tropic of Capricorn.” I open my own journal from two years ago and find this passage scrawled on the first pages. I’ve always related to this man and found solace in the suffering he experienced in his search for truth, but such an articulate expression of my current state certainly bears repeating… at the moment it is very encouraging to know that my pain is shared. I suppose it makes me less lonely. Even if I am sharing a moment with a dead man… Cheers, Henry.

I promised a friend that I would make more positive blog posts. This is not one of them.

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Enterprise

The search for balance in my work has led me down many paths, precipitating both extremes of how far I can stretch my sanity. Nothing exceeds like excess. But at the moment I’m working on my first feature film in 2 years at the same time as a new endeavor to create high quality real estate lifestyle videos. I used to think that never the twain shall meet, but feeling very fortunate at the moment to have both projects going on. Each project inspires the other. Creativity begets creativity. If I can take any challenge and make it artful then I am fulfilled, especially when I can see the results so readily.

Below is the first of many premium Real Estate Videos that I’ll be producing this summer. Soon I’ll be posting a trailer for the film I’m working on. Psyched.

[tubepress video=”42660098″]

 

 

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My work featured on Climbing.com

The link below features a piece I produced, shot and edited with Sender Films back in 2009, taken from the Bonus Episode “Desert Rats” in the First Ascent Series Box Set. Fun to see it brought back to life with Hayden’s recent FA of the route, then called “Clutch,” and since renamed “Carbondale Short Bus” by Hayden and Matt Segal. It is believe to be the hardest route in the Creek.

CLICK HERE

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My Slippery Muse

 

“When a true genius appears in the world,

you may know him by this sign, that the dunces

are all in confederacy against him.”

-Jonathan Swift

 

 

 

 

I’m often asked if I like living in Boulder, if I like the work that I do, if I think I’ll stick around or keep moving. My answer is always infused with stalling and stuttering as I attempt to answer that question, for my self and my inquirer. I feel seduced into shipwreck by the beautiful song of our “city,” sinking easily into the comfortable life I have cultivated here, and often forget about the feelings of inspiration and flow of ideas and ambition that I feel in the great beyond. It is only when I leave Boulder that I feel exposed to the more challenging forms and ideas of distant lands and cities and countries, hives of creative progress and institutions of real artistic integrity, and become cognizant of the disparity. Our town is spoiled and gentrified, and for me, stagnant. There are of course many exceptions to this (you know who you are), but I’m generalizing for the sake of my own rumination.

When returning to the comforts of Boulder, the friends and familiar amenities, incessant recreation, and general mind-numbing convenience, I am always reduced back to a lonely and anxious state. I won’t argue that Boulder is an objectively perfect place to live, where the quality of life is shamefully good. But it is found wanting in ways in that more tormented and, dare I say, diverse cities are not. Boulder claims to be so in touch with the rest of humanity, which is a common pitfall of over-privileged places. Our residents enjoy such an elite quality of life that they assume everyone in the world enjoys that same level of happiness and stimulation, thus facilitating their superficial empathy.

Don’t get me wrong, I do love Boulder and its endless opportunity for having fun. But there isn’t much of an iconoclastic “underground” presence with any more substance or value than a Climbing Magazine article, which is how I’ve arrived at this personal stalemate of creativity. It’s only when I leave Boulder that I realize how much more I need to be fulfilled and inspired than perfect weather and vacuous socializing.

In my opinion, true art is bred from conflict, and strife and struggle, and is the manifestation of an attempt to reconcile that pain with the juggernaut of reality that blunders forward without regard for we mere mortals. Art is not the product of “blissing out” or being “psyched,” because there is less to be learned or gained from another person’s boasting about how wonderful their day was or how “enlightened” their worldview. Art is not the product of sunshine and double americano’s, or being healthy, wealthy and white. I wouldn’t argue that one must be oppressed in some way to create true art, but one must at least be in the midst of an existential hurdle that bleeds from the heart onto the canvas, where people like myself can observe and digest and, hopefully, learn something new about ourselves and others and apply that to my own craft.

Art must be contradictory and challenging, and above all subversive, and trying to find anything subversive in Boulder is a fool’s errand. The people here are so concerned with being open minded and worldly that everything is embraced and thus nothing is off-color or edgy. But just because something is created in Boulder, where our humble standards for excellence and originality are based more on the friends we wish to support than our actual opinion of the product, does not necessarily mean that it is a great product or anywhere near the cutting edge. Nepotism is a slippery slope.

I apologize to any readers that take offense from my cynical ventilation. I know that the obvious flaw in my rant is that if I’m not happy with the state of things in the almighty Boulder, then I should either change it with my own contributions of artistry and character, or get the fuck out. Walking a fine line between the former and latter has been a precarious dance indeed for the last 2 years, since I became a “free-lancer,” supposedly capable of pulling art from the proverbial hat, and producing the work I want to be producing with the clients and talent of my choosing.

But alas, it is only upon leaving this utopia that I find my muse…

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Marejada Feliz goes live on DPM Climbing

After two weeks climbing and partying in Puerto Rico this January, I pulled this diamond out of the rough and release it now for your viewing pleasure(s). There is sooo much rock in Puerto Rico that has yet to see development, but this incredible arch goes beyond anything I have seen in the Caribbean. Mouth watering. Deep Water Soloing at its finest. Thus far, it offers only one established line, “Marejada Feliz,” and clocks in at a very doable 5.11c.

I was suffering from the worst bout of traveler’s sickness I’ve ever experienced, and thus wasn’t quite able to do the formation justice, but I’m already putting together a return trip. Please enjoy the video and leave your comments here.

Click here to watch the video on DPMClimbing.com