The spring season is winding down here in Utah, hinting at the hot summer to come, but yet again Joe’s Valley has provided new boulders. . . hell, a new area in fact. We have dubbed this new area in left fork The Damn Boulders due to the fact that it has an irrigation dam crossing for access to the opposite side of the river. The interactive map at the top of this site is marked with parking for access to the area, although parking on the road may be the better idea as this is also a single campsite. In Joe’s Valley boulders hide in plain site, blending into the crowd. Park along the side of the road, stare at the 100’s of boulders on the hillside, and you’ll discover finding a great boulder problem is like playing Where’s Waldo. The thing about Joe’s is that almost all the boulders have been looked at by a dozen people over the last decade and a half, and hell, some of the new problems have surely been climbed before. . . this just happens. . . but the difficulty of developing boulder problems in Joe’s is not in finding boulders but stopping to climb them instead of searching for more. I mean what if, just over there, and over there, and across the canyon, and look at that hillside, holy shit do you see that giant boulder, oh man, that one boulder has to have a 4 star line on it. . . lets go check it out. Wait, what was I saying, oh yeah, the problem I’ve encountered while developing in Joe’s Valley is that I have boulder A.D.D. . . always wanting to check for the next best thing. Our whole game plan these last few seasons has been to just stop and climb what we find.
The Damn Boulders were introduced to us last fall by Anthony Chertudi. Anthony had a super project high on the hillside that he graciously wanted to show stong
man boy Griffin Whiteside. Anthony’s The Last Great One Project was a real beauty. Steep, powerful enduro climbing out a long horizontal roof that climbs some of the best gym sandstone holds around. Perfect rock has been left behind by years of melting water. I watched the snow melt while G Biebs, Joe Meiners and Pete Lowe worked the project early on and as the water trickled down the rock it only touched the good black rock, leaving the white rock completely dry. A few sessions later, in a snow storm I watched Griffyndor nearly slip from the wet lip of the boulder but somehow hold on to establish The Last Great One V13, keeping the project name in respect to Anthony, his vision, and all the work he and his wife did to build an amazing landing. Great job on this one Griffin. Paul Robinson got the second ascent a few weeks ago. See video at bottom for footage of send.
Last fall, when we first walked up to look at The Last Great One Project, I found a line of my own on a nearby boulder. I immediately started cleaning holds and went at fixing the landing a bit. I’ve found and established lines in Joe’s but nothing that has ever taken root in me. This time I was hooked, unable to sleep for days, finally driving down in a snow storm to rap and clean the problem as snow flurried around. Somewhere along the way the problem began to personify my efforts, or thats the way it seemed to feel . . . in reality it was just a rock. Griffin and Joe recognized my renewed motivation and passion, leaving the first ascent for my taking.
I will be 32 in a week so maybe they were just respecting their elder, but I truly appreciate it. It is very difficult to get any first ascents climbing with those young bastards. The experience grew even more personal thereafter, as I spent 4 sessions alone on that hillside unlocking a perception of movement that I was confined to move within. When I finally escaped to the top of the boulder and stood alone with the FA behind and below me I was content. . . as always, the joy was fleeting. Happiness came from the process and experience and my excitement grew again only with the idea of sharing what I believe to be one of the best lines in Joe’s Valley. Video of problem at bottom of post.
Close friend and childhood mentor, author Bruce Holbert, recently wrote a book titled Lonesome Animals (I’d reckon you ought to check it out, especially if you enjoy the styles of Cormac McCarthy, Check it out here: Amazon). It is prefaced with the following John Steinbeck quote:
We are lonesome animals. We spend all our life trying to be less lonesome. One of our ancient methods is to tell a story begging the listener to say — and to feel — ”Yes, that’s the way it is, or at least that’s the way I feel it. You’re not as alone as you thought.”
As is typical with my light hearted personality, I had 3 or 4 funny(to me, stupid to you) names to choose from for naming the problem, but as I sat below the problem for one last time, the Steinbeck quote felt real and befitting. The story was complete but I was alone. . . all that was left was to share it.
After establishing The Last Great One and Lonesome Animals we went to work filling in the gaps and to our surprise, hiding in those gaps were amazing problems of all grades and styles.
As you walk up the hillside the first boulder you will come to is The Guppy Boulder. Here is a great little boulder with an obvious jug start and an anything you can do to get to the top V7 of the same name. Griffin did this first on our way out one day but this is one of those problems that certainly could have been climbed back in the day.
The next boulder you will come to, after a steep hill climb, is the Nerf Wall (aka moon wall). This boulder is tall and uniquely riddled with nerf ball impressions that give it a moonlike texture.
As of writing this there are 5 lines on the Nerf Wall. I will list them from left to right. On the far left is a sit start problem that climbs up and right to a femur bone jug then to top. This is Nerf or Nothing (V4). Wax or Wane (V4) starts sitting on a little boulder with a Euro start of any holds you can reach. Just to the right of this at standing height is Dark Side of the Moon (V5) (probable FA by Chad Parkinson a few years ago). This is an amazing problem and possibly the best of the grade in Joe’s Valley. Perfect holds lead to a sequential committing crux 3/4 the way up the wall. Thankfully, this problem also has the easiest mantle of them all.
To the right of Dark Side of the Moon is the start of First Impressions (V7). After Kyle O’meara’s appetizer send of Dark Side of the Moon he had to have more of this wall, and who could blame him. . . and so, he added the beautiful First Impressions up the center of the wall that eventually shares the same top out as Dark Side of the Moon.
There is also a travers that starts on the far left line Nerf or Nothing and links into Dark Side of the Moon called Ballogy (V7) (O’Meara FA). This problem is a great excuse to use more of the best hold set in Joe’s Valley.
Point Break (V8) sits right next to the Nerf Wall and is a techy slab climb to a dyno? or big static reach? FA Griffin Whiteside, 2nd Paul Robinson. Very cool climb. Utah! Get me two!!!!
Directly above Point Break is a smaller boulder with a sit start V7 called Male Pattern Baldness (V7) (FA Chad Parkinson). Looks like crap, climbs surprisingly well. . . wait, am I talking about me and my hairline or the boulder problem. . . you can decide.
Continue up and to the right of MPB boulder to find the Wrecking Ball Dyno (V8) and Pommel Horse (V4) (FA Steven Jeffery). Wow, these are two amazing boulder problems. Pommel Horse is quite possibly my favorite V4 in J’s Valley.
The best dyno in Joe’s Valley was found as a joke, by me. Disclaimer: I dont dyno, in fact, I’ve never done a two hand dyno in my life, no kidding, my nickname has always been Fat Kid Dynos b/c I look like you’d imagine Chunk from the goonies would look if he tried to dyno. Anyway, I jokingly showed this to Chad, Griffin, Joe, Kyle and Steven Jeffrey. . . b/c there was a jug and then nothing but the top of the boulder arching behind you. It seemed improbable to them and impossible to me. . . but the team got to work on a landing and two hours later we were literally throwing ourselves at the finish hold. The video below shows it best, this dyno is about absolute commitment or you could be a wrecking ball.
Last fall, when we first checked the Damn Boulders out, I put up a line adjacent the hillside from the Nerf Wall and just down canyon. See map at top. This line is Pleasant Valley V7(retro upgrade) and climbs a short powerful roof. Video and information on this climb can be found in an early post I wrote: http://climbingcollective.com/2012/12/31/tall/
Griffin completed another old project in the area. Just up canyon from the Lonesome Animals boulder was the Two Move Project which is now Bareskin (V10). This sombitch is tough and a classic example of how
strong stupid Griffin is, in fact, he originally called it V9 but I think that’s because he can’t count. Someone that pretty can’t be good with numbers can they? What, he is an accounting major!? Balls, nevermind. You’ve all been sandbagged. Enjoy. To the right of BareSkin is another Kyle O’meara FA called The Happy Spaniel (V6). This is beauty of a line and a nice conciliation prize after getting your dick punched on BareSkin.
Lets see whats a good segue away from BareSkin. That’s a hard one. How about on to the The Trojan Boulder. Griffin cleaned a few really fun lines on a boulder named after condoms. Grow up Griffin, oh wait, you are actually growing up right now. Nevermind. The Trojan Boulder has 3 good sandstone climbs that think they are granite climbs. All problems start on the same low jug in the middle of the wall. For Her Pleasure (V5) climbs right on cool slopers and pinches. . . and that’s just the tip, same start and stright up is Thintensity (V5). The most difficult problem to climax on is Ultra Ribbed (V10), same start then left to the arete and up through some crazy climbing. FU Griffin, I don’t think I could ever do this one. . . you might be young, smart, strong, and good looking but are you old, balding and washed up? That’s right, I didn’t think so. I win.
Portia Menlove added a fun little problem that begs to be climbed simply because of how cool it looks. Rodeo Queen V2
Well that’s about it for now. Although, there are still projects to be had up there. Just around the corner from Lonesome Animals is an obvious project that starts on a jug. There is also a short black wall straight uphill from Pleasant Valley that I already cleaned for you with a possible hard line on the left side. This area stays cool on hot days and provides enough problems for a days worth of fun. I’m headed to Leavenworth for a few weeks but will be back to play here for the rest of May.
Thanks to all those that have helped contribute to this area: matt pincus, steven jeffery, kyle o’meara, joe meiners, chad parkinson, adriana chimaras, serkan ercan, diana jenson, hayden jamieson, anthony chertudi, portia menlove and many more.
I will also be adding a WikiBoulder guide today that can be accessed at the link at the bottom of the post.