Rock Adventure Mountain Guide


This website had been restored and archived as required reading form Ryan Burke's Film Studies course: Documentary Production. Dr. Burke is a principal in the Format X, the digital promotion agency best known for their cutting edge viral videos including "Sucking Up" for the robot startup Vacuu, which won the Blue Ribbon for best informative promotional in 2013. TNG/Earthling's Bob Sakayama teamed up with Burke and were awarded a Web Archive Project grant to preserve and restore the site's content. Rev Sale, also from TNG/E, handled research responsibilities. Students can download the full syllabus and reading list from the film department's website.


This was the official website for the film diary of The Rock Adventure Guide.
Content is from the site's 2008-2011 archived pages. There were many posts to choose from. Below is an edited selection of blog posts from 2008 -2011 providing a taste of what this site offered its readers.

Welcome to the film diary of The Rock Adventure Guide!

If the glowing reviews aren’t enough to make you want to read on, I have compiled a list of criteria that might. You should be reading this blog if:

  • You like good stories. And good movies.
  • You don’t know anything about the world of rugged individuals, free spirits, and clever adventurists we are portraying…but sign you up!
  • You know everything from Robert Underhill’s middle name to the FA’s on every El Cap or Flatirons route, as well as the original editors of the Vulgarian Digest. Hell, you could pretty much publish your own guidebook (or already have). Help shape this movie!
  • You just onsighted a 5.13…at the climbing gym. Gym punks, we welcome you too. United is our history, present, and future!
  • You’ve played desert solitaire.
  • You can set for an f8 f11 split.
  • You have a ton of money that you just can’t spend quick enough, and you’d like to find a new “cool, young, sexy” project to be the benefactor of.

Ok, allow me to stop the inside jokes for a minute and give you a proper welcome.

Stay awhile.
Come back soon.

This is a blog that chronicles the journey of a documentary film. The documentary film, BRAVE NEW WILD, chronicles the people who have journeyed up rocks and into mountains. The mountains are the chronicle of time, beckoning those whose live for adventure.

BRAVE NEW WILD is an offbeat chronicle of America's Golden Age of rock climbing before and after the controversial ascent of the Dawn Wall in 1970. Some forty years later, Oakley Anderson-Moore, the daughter of a pioneering climber, stumbles upon her father's old hi8 tapes, and sets out to answer the question: why climb when there's nothing to gain -- and everything to lose? Wry humor and an eclectic original soundtrack punctuate the delinquent antics of the Vulgarians in the 'Gunks, the larger-than-life rivalry of Yosemite's rock gods, and the fruit tramping, freight train hopping hobodom of her dad's climbing life. This film is quintessential viewing for those who long for adventure.

The current website for the film Brave New Wild is found at:

About me…


It’s a shameless excuse for putting up a cute baby picture, I know, but my producer has suggested that I show more skin. Wocka wocka.

The guy in suspenders is my pops, who spent about twenty years of his life rock climbing, hopping freight trains, and picking fruit. He taught me to climb. He also taught me how to tell stories.

The lifelong interest in storytelling led me to film; I recently graduated with the highest distinction in film from UCSD; my honors thesiswas a comic-book western. I’ve also made a documentary (with funds from BP) on alternative energy education. And most recently I received the news from the wonderful, wonderful people at Banff (known for many things like Mountain Film Festival World Tour and Radical Reels) that I had been awarded a grant to pursue a documentary film about mountain culture that I had been thinking about, well, since I was a little kid sitting around a campfire listening to epics.

So, now the dream starts to become a reality. With hard-work, support, and a little elbow grease, the Rock Adventure has begun.


Rock climbing culture was forged on some of the most beautiful rock in the world, and on the backs of free-minded individuals defying the norms of society. Our film follows the parallel stories of the first two generations of "rock climbers" in America, and how they navigated this new world. Through interviews with nearly 50 climbers from the Vulgarians to the Stonemasters, Royal Robbins to Lynn Hill, as well as photographs, writings, and retro footage, we weave together the story. Today more than ever, we are questioning the importance of wild spaces, and how recreation fits into them. Follow us on this time-traveling journey to discover how the world of the rock climber was born, and what’s behind the search for the last wild...anything

Working on the V Dub


dirty camp small climber tv with youtube





Welcome to the film diary of


coney lake

“We give this weblog a resounding two thumbs up!” - Ebert, Steck, and Roper

“This is, by far, the best blog Oakley has ever written.” - Paul Blair

“Cool, young, sexy. ” - TeenBeet, USA

Hot Button Topic

February 8, 2011

The Last Wild Mountain buttons are ready!

Loosely inspired by historian Joseph Taylor III’s comment that in the late 60s “wearing a carabinier was like being a member of a secret club” this button is the remixed version of that concept.

If you got in on our Kickstarter, you can expect to get one of these in the mail soon.  Want yours?


Archive for January, 2011

Descent into Delinquency

January 30, 2011

Our Kickstarter campaign to raise moolah to finish the film was a great success!  And now, the good news: we no longer need to barrage you with audio visual stimuli bent on persuading you to donate, and can return to the fun stuff.

Remember this mugshot photograph that appeared in our Kickstarter video?  Joe Kelsey, who gave us the photo, revealed the delightful details of it’s ending up in his possession.  Enjoy:

“I believe it was fall 1970, though it might have been 71. It was the fall after the Stoneman Meadow riot, wherein hippies threw stones and bottles at mounted rangers. We returned to the Valley after summer in Wyoming to find hostility between rangers and climbers (and anyone else who looked disrespectful of society’s norms).

The Valley wasn’t as multinational then as later, but there was a colony of Brits, and they gathered nightly around a campfire and sang. Most Yanks thought singing to be not macho, but Claude Suhl and I got into it and learned the songs. One night two rangers appeared and did that bullshit routine of formally stating, three times in quick succession, “You are an unruly mob. You will disperse.”


This was the Vietnam/Civil Rights era, and the Brits were intimidated by American authority in general and the possibility of deportation in particular, so they nervously scattered. However, the rangers cornered a few, and I felt valorous enough (inebriated enough) to come to their rescue. One ranger was unnecessarily bullying them. It being the Vulgarian way to throw curve balls, I calmly, soothingly lectured the rangers, as if they were children, about addressing climbers not confrontationally but politely. The Brits disappeared into the night, and I was requested to produce photo ID. When my New Jersey license failed to provide a photo, I was under arrest.


Claude appeared and was perceived as interfering with an arrest. I took the opportunity of this diversion to explain that my bladder was bursting, the arrests conveniently taking place just outside a bathroom. The kindlier of the rangers told me to go ahead, in fact to get lost, it was Claude they were really after. Claude always looked more like trouble than I did, no matter how hard I tried. The next guy out of the bathroom had my hair and mustache. When I emerged, he had become me and was in custody, and I had to re-introduce myself as the perp.


Claude and I were escorted into a paddy wagon that happened to be the same vehicle used a week before to transport us to an El Cap rescue. We departed Camp 4 serenaded by a mob chanting “Fascist pigs! Fascist pigs! Fookin’ fookin’ fascist pigs!” No sooner had we been booked, fingerprinted, photographed, and incarcerated–after they took our shoelaces so we wouldn’t be tempted to hang ourselves–at the correctional facility (behind Yosemite Village, near the soothing sound of America’s most beloved waterfall), the Fookin’ Pigs chant could be heard outside. Shortly, Rob Wood, a Brit living in Vancouver, was thrust into an adjacent cell. As luck would have it, it was a Fri night, and we were told the wheels of justice would not be turning till Mon. So we were duly astounded when a ranger appeared Sat a.m. to say our lawyer had arranged for our release for the weekend, provided we left the park.

How, you may ask, did the likes of us get legal representation?  It’s certainly what we were asking. It turned out that the accidental impostor who emerged from the bathroom before me had graduated #1 in his class in law school, before deciding to do something less detrimental than practicing law.

The baddest thing I did during this episode I did as we were leaving the correctional facility. The mug shots sat on the corner of a cluttered desk by the door. No one was looking, and I couldn’t resist a unique Yosemite souvenir, classier than a rubber tomahawk.That’s how they became preserved for posterity, or at least for the sort of posterity I’d prefer them to be preserved for.

We and a dozen or so fellow travelers (two VW buses full), including a few chicks who surmised that we were a happening cadre, obeyed neither the letter nor the spirit of our release by going to Tuolumne for the weekend. We didn’t spend the weekend paying our dues to society.

First thing Monday morning we were outside the courtroom, with our lawyer and perhaps as many as 100 Camp 4 residents. Our lawyer wisely suggested everyone else wait outside while he went in and introduced himself. Shortly he and the judge came to the door. The judge asked if they all witnesses, and our lawyer replied, “They could be, your honor.” So judge and lawyer retired back inside; the judge asked the lawyer to describe the events of Fri night and told our lawyer he suspected such miscarriages of justice were going on, but too many youths were afraid to talk. Our arrests were “expunged,” meaning we were not only found not guilty but even the fact of our arrests was supposed to be eradicated. Which didn’t happen–last I knew I could be pulled over for a taillight out, and the cop, after running my ID, would look at me knowingly and say, “I hear you’ve been disorderly.”

The kindlier ranger was fired; the mean ranger, who turned out to be an ex-Marine officer, became a pianist in the Ahwanee bar. Could I make that up?

Well, thanks for giving me the opportunity to reminisce about the days when life couldn’t have been sweeter!

I only hope that you’re identifying that wayward youth in the mug shots as Fred Beckey.”

- Joe Kelsey

You can find more of Kelsey’s clever writings in such classic and ill-reputed publications as “The Vulgarian Digest” and The Climbing Cartoons of Sheridan Anderson as well as the current & upcoming edition of the Wind Rivers guidebook and possibly, quite possibly, in the narration of The Last Wild Mountain!


10 Good Reasons to Come Through in the 11th Hour

January 13, 2011
It seems like just a few weeks ago we were still at $700, and now we’ve surpassed our goal of $10k and are now heading into uncharted territory ($13,866 and counting).  Amazing!!!

We still have stuff left and 60 hours to go, and every extra penny we raise during these few hours will go a long way.

SO if you think someone you know might be interested in being a part of this Kickstarter, send ‘em a line! You know, really SELL us to them. Tell ‘em the movie will be an Oscar contender. Tell ‘em it’ll pay off somehow. Make up whatever you want!

If you’re stumped, here’s 10 reasons WHY it would be worthwhile to get in on this Kickstarter:
1.  Stewart Green not only let us sleep in his pad, but he headlined our project on This is proof we’re legit.
2. In this video, Patrick Gensel of Camp the Summit says so. Ladies?!
3. Your name could be on IMDB!
(Whoever came up with that figure for our budget is really, really funny.)
4. Outside Magazine said you should:
5. We did a test screening at the AMC in Golden and Rock & Ice deemed it event worthy:
6. Rockgrrl knows what’s what and she suggests supporting one of the underrepresented struggling female adventure filmmakers out there!
7. This video is cute for the first 30 seconds.
8. As John Fairhurst of Powder Keg Green put it in his recent write up, we’re making this film by the skin of our bank accounts!
9. Not to be forgotten, the UK spotted our yellow volkswagen van and crowned us an “eye opener”!
10. Just because.



Philanthropy = not dead.

January 11, 2011

If you got our newsletter last night, then you will already have heard this little bit.

When talking to an unnamed Professor of History recently, we lamented together over the state of the arts and humanities in today’s economy.  “Philanthropy is dead,” he said.  I agreed.


Turns out philanthropy is NOT dead! We met our Kickstarter goal!!!!!!

Last night, I sent out an email about it, and we had raised $12,330 to finish the film.  This morning, I checked again and we were at $13,235 with more than 20 new supporters.

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to everyone who has helped us get this far!!

If you haven’t seen the Kickstarter site yet and were still thinking of getting involved/getting some schwag (there are MORE prizes)/ pre-ordering your copy of the DVD/or supporting…do it now because there’s only 3 DAYS LEFT!

We’ve met our goal, but every extra penny counts.  For example, if we get $1k more, we can even afford live musicians/orchestra for the soundtrack and not just our composer and hey MIDI keyboard!

TELL ANYONE YOU KNOW WHO MIGHT BE INTERESTED! Or tell anyone you know who might not be interested. Say, “This is definitely NOT something you want to be involved in!” just as long as you use this link:



The Last Wild Mountain: Portrait of the American Climber

Archive for January, 2010


Interlude in Salt Lake City

January 29, 2010 -

Salt Lake City.  Land of Polygamy Porter, beehives, and big, lovely rocks.  We spent a very exhausting but productive week in SLC at the Winter Outdoor Retailer.  It only took us a petty 14 HOURS to get there - arrival time 5am, first meeting of the day, 10am.  (Blame the apocalyptic floods as we tried to drive out of California….)

rainy snowy traffic jam for about 4 hours

cold case of this might help…if only it weren’t a measly 3% alcohol…

It’s a funny circus, but this time (my second time at the show) I think I had a better handle on everything. 

If you weren’t around last time, Outdoor Retailer is a huge industry trade show where all the outdoor industry meets to do business.  I actually kind of like the Outdoor Industry (you can read what I think about it in my YouthNoise post if you care).

Alex and I came very prepared, and we’ve come a long way since we first showed up here two years ago. We scuffled around from meeting to meeting with out laptop and handshakes, trying to explain just how worthwhile this project is, and how it deserves to get finished. 

Alex sampling the free magazines…

Ironically enough, when we stopped for gas somewhere in Nevada on the stretch back from Utah to California, I was approached by a dude in a hoodie asking if I’d like him to wash my windshield for some change.  It’s ironic, because I was approached exactly two years ago by this same man on the way back from the same trade show.  It seemed as though his situation hadn’t changed much; I wonder if he thought the same thing about me.  For both our sakes, I hope my luck is about to turn. Otherwise, I may have to go back to school for something more practical…like Windshield Washing.


Part IV: Colorado, land of hoopsticks, famous people, and snow

January 26, 2010

As we’re now doing everything out of order, I figured I’d go ahead and explain Colorado.   I thought I’d give you illiterate subscribers a break and do a photo montage:

Cam burns and family with the legendary hoopstick…

tommy caldwell was out climbing and lost track of time (go figure)

what our interviews look like…(sort of)

the lovely miss Andrea Sutherland (of the Climbing Wall Assoc.) lets us crash at her pad in Boulder where we interview Lynn Hill

home. (for the night).

Alex’s traveling office outside Josh Wharton’s crib in the part of Rifle across the train tracks…
a few hours before stormy weather in Estes Park…

At last we have food!  Chef Louie prepares our gourmet just-add-water food courtesy Backpacker’s Pantry that we picked up in Vegas…

my crew…the scrappiest lot I’ve ever known.  Big love.

pit stop, USA!

Colorado was lovely.  We interviewed Cam Burns, Josh Wharton, Jim Erickson, Lynn Hill, Tommy Caldwell to name a few.

“What interview so far has been the absolute craziest?” asked Cam Burns in his basement/climbing gym.

I reply, “This one is ranking pretty high so far…”


Part III: Yosemite (Land of Mosquitos and Ron Kauk)

January 18, 2010



Lunch just outside Yosemite Nat’l Park

By the time we got to Yosemite, we had already had an amazing interview with Allen Steck and Tom Frost (who took us out to Mexican for dinner, by the way – woopee!). We arrived at the park to find (not to our surprise) that all campsites were taken. We just weren’t getting any lucky breaks in the golden state! There were too many of us to crash Camp4, so we went to plan B – get a hold of our camp Curry employee friends and see what we could do.

We ended up driving the van into camp curry employee parking (after being stopped by a police car in the park when we attempted a failed u-turn…OF COURSE.) Signs everywhere read “employee parking only” and “not sleeping in cars” and finally “no food in cars.” I had seen the damage to my friend Thanh’s jeep only some months early (he had left a can of food, and the bear broke through his passenger side window for it.) So, I knew that we were basically breaking every rule the park (rightfully) had. But, that’s how it goes! We didn’t want to attract too much attention to ourselves *sleeping in the van* in employee parking, so we didn’t raise the pop top the whole way. Nick and Alex (who had the top bunk) hoisted it only an inch above their face, and used the camera tripod to prop it up. A long, cold night of precipitation touching their noses ensued. Down below, with me and Corene in the bottom bunk, a long night thinking every bump was most certainly a bear trying to break in to our honey-laden van occurred.

Our view from the camp curry parking lot…where’s da bears?

Crew quarters.  Amazed that my crew put up with this for 30+ days.

We made it through the night, and in fact, through Yosemite. We interviewed Ron Kauk and Ken Yager before moving on to our last California destination of Mammoth Lakes/Bishop.

When we interviewed Ron in his backyard right outside the park, there was an insurgency of mosquitos. Ron is not into mosquito spray – and at first I tried to go along with it. But, damn, after about 5 minutes of itchy swelling swatting, I couldn’t help myself. Ron remained steadfast, and continued the entire interview au natural. There were mosquitos visibly landing and feasting on Ron while he interviewew. “Why didn’t you tell me I had a mosquito right in the middle of my forehead?!” he said. Well, I tried. I really did. I told him the first few times, and then I tried motioning. But he didn’t seem to mind, and they sure didn’t want to relent, so I continued the interview amidst a cloud of mosquitos landing intermittently on Ron Kauk’s face. “Don’t worry, we’ll cgi those out.”


Part II: Hot Volkswagen Love on the Central Coast

January 18, 2010 -


They say you can tell a person’s true character by how they react to an old Volkswagen van. And by “they say” I mean “I say.” Some people will come up to you and your van with a warm look in their eye, and “Oh gee I used to have one of those old vans.” Or, “I grew up in something like that…” Some people will even come up to you in a parking lot and offer you a beer, because they know you are Good People. All across America, people honked their horns in support, waved, gave us the universal fist in the air of support.  These people fill my heart with love.  In the climbing world, an old VW is almost a statement in itself. “I am a Dirtbag climber, hear me roar.” There’s some more to it, but you already get the gist.

Others people, the less worthwhile ones, will ride your bumper, shaking fists that they got stuck behind you. They’ll honk if you take too long to turn into a gas station. Others might sneer and make a point of coming by to tell you that you are parked wrong or you need to make sure you pay for your campsite before you leave, you dirty hippies. These people fill your heart with…oh, what’s the word.

“Approaching destination on the right. You have arrived.” Our GPS sounded off the alarm that we had indeed arrived at our destination – camping for the night. However, looking outside the window we found we were in the middle of downtown Oakland. Somehow, we had ended up in the seediest part of the urban jungle with the erroneous idea there was camping here. It was still early in the evening, and we laughed heartily at our circumstances. Tomorrow we would interview Allen Steck, and then Tom Frost.  We got back on the freeway and headed towards a camping sign we had seen some 15 minutes back, enjoying simple cheese sandwiches and tape recordings of our conversations played back in slow motion.

As we drove up a narrow, winding road, slowed to about 25mph in the dark, the laughter subsided as we grew sleepy and hoped to see this ‘campground’ where we could bunker down for the night. After an eternity, we finally arrived at the campground. “Shit!” Campground curfew was 11pm, and it was sometime after midnight. The gate was closed. We sat for a moment thinking, and suddenly, up the same winding road, comes a giant tow truck that drives up to the gate and opens it. We rush behind him, and I hop out.  To my surprise, the tow truck driver was a nervous, unpleasant fellow. He took one look at me coming out of the VW towards him and started shaking his head. “Yeah, park’s closed. I’m going in to meet a police officer, the campgrounds closed.” “But we’ve already set up our tent inside there, we just got back late,” I say. He says he doesn’t know what to tell me. “Who do I call? Should I call the ranger or something? All our stuff is inside there.” The tow truck guy looked pained, and after a few more words, was fed up. “It’s not my problem.” 

So he sped off down the road into the camp, and we slowly followed suit. For a brief moment, I wondered about this “police officer” and as we turned the corner, there in flashing red and blue lights was our doom.  What ensued was a scene straight out of Super Troopers, complete with power hungry cop from nowheresville going on and on about our damned “civil liberties.” The cop had evidently arrested a man in the park (unpaid parking tickets, probably) and was having the culprit’s car towed. The tow truck driver, that cowardly louse, had radio’d ahead to the cop telling him we were on our way in.

There’s nothing like a cop yelling in your face when you’re really tired and just drove a VW all the way up somewhere to get a good night’s sleep. A good nights sleep, is that so delinquent of a request?

“How many people are in this van?” he asked. After threatening to give everyone in the van fines, he told us we better reverse up the hill and get the hell out of his way. At that moment, Alex had the unfortunate task of telling him that this was impossible. On a one-way downhill incline, we could not back-up. “We actually can’t go in reverse.”  Well, Officer didn’t like that very much at all. We would have to drive to the bottom of the hill, and make an unsupervised u-turn (as he needed to stay with the alleged criminal in his backseat.)

And so we headed back down the hill into the night with a bitter taste, not knowing what to do next. At this point no one was laughing, and the joy of driving was gone. In fact, the simple joy of eating cheese sandwiches was long gone too. So gone, that Alex (still driving) was beginning to feel the after effects of the two days unrefrigerated cheese, mayo, pickle sandwiches in a very bad way. “I have to go to the bathroom.”


We drove around a small seedy town looking aimlessly for a place to sleep. No luck. Alex, meanwhile, searched earnestly for a place to go to the bathroom. No luck. (Every gas station that night seemed to have an out-of-order bathroom or a strictly no-people-inside-after-11pm schtick). Alex was starting to look…pekid. Finally some dude gave us a tip to go park the van “down by the marina”. As we drove off in the generally direction the guy pointed at, the van suddenly came to an abrupt halt. “A porta-potty,” said Alex. Everyone else looked warily out the window. “We’re probably pretty close to the Marina if you want to wai…” But Alex was off, headed towards a dark portapotty in a dark construction lot. It was a very funny situation, but we weren’t laughing.


We didn’t end up finding the Marina that night. We became so desperate that we just untied the plastic trees and popped the top on the side of a street. A police car rolled by, and we held very still (as if this would prevent us from being seen). Luckily, he kept going and we got some sleep. That cop could have hassled us, but he didn’t. Perhaps while he slowed and drove past


Archive for January, 2009


Year of the Rock

January 20, 2009

It’s a new year, a new day, a new president, a new moon.

I went out to Joshua Tree National Park for the first time since Fall; it had finally warmed up - in fact it was so balmy and warm it felt like an Indian Summer.  My friend/line producer Nick and I walked back to our campsite in the dark with our ropes and gear strung about us after a full day of climbing.  The moon was out and it was full and milky white, beaming down on us.  Everything else was a beautiful blue.  We were tired but happy and full of peace.  We just walked in silence, looking at our moonshadows, not saying a word.  A coyote trotted past us heading the opposite way.  A falling star shot through the sky.

It really is a new year, and it’s going to be a great year.


2008 had been an eventful year for the Rock Adventure.  We’d gone to Salt Lake City for Outdoor Retailer, gone to the Climber’s Museum opening in Yosemite, been in Colorado for the Craggin Classic, made a million phone calls and a million emails, been to New York for the ‘Gunks Reunion; crashed a car, slept on the ground, slept in the van, not slept at all, partied with International climbers, met a ton of new people, been to Yosemite for the 50th Year Reunion of the First Ascent of the Nose; lost some crew, gained some crew; interviewed, in order: John Gill, Majka Burhard, Matt Samet, Alison Osius, Bob D’Antonio, Jim Donini, Katie Brown, Rob Pizem, Bob Culp, Rich Goldstone, Ajax Greene, Burt Angrist, Jim McCarthy, Dick Williams, Elaine Matthews, Al DeMaria, and Rich Romano.  This was just the beginning.


We have a new mac book pro.  We have fresh faces on crew.  We’re on twitter.  We have a garageful of our favorite Duraflame logs for the storytelling sessions by the campfire.  We will be interviewing: Royal Robbins, Tom Frost, Henry Barber, John Bragg, Joe Herbst, Ed Webster, Paul Piana, John Long, Ron Kauk, Michael Kennedy, Doug Robinson, Scott Cosgrove, Sybille Hechtel, Don Lauria, Tom Higgins to name a few.   In a few months, we will be traveling to Yosemite, the Red Rocks, Colorado, Wyoming, New Hampshire to name some.  We want to meet you.  It’s a great beginning…



Archive for March, 2008


The Magic of Campfires

March 31, 2008

As I was unpacking my bag this morning from a week-long climbing trip to Yosemite, all of my stuff seemed to permeate the smells of dirt, food, the spring air and sweat. But amongst all that, there was that one overpowering familiar smell on all my clothes: campfire.


Even the biggest bah-humbug city dweller can’t deny that there is something magical about campfires, about they way they bring people together on a cold night, the way they blanket everyone in beautiful orange light.

My Yosemite trip was completed by the nightly campfire in our site at Camp 4 with guitars and mandolin that brought people from around the camp to sing and play stuff like some particularly awful renditions of Bob Dylan songs (think ‘Mr. Bojangles’ done in rounds, uninentionally) and ad lib blues songs about off-width cracks.

In the morning, some people would stop by again around propane stoves, and as I would drink coffee and eat my eggs, they’d spell out what they planned to climb, exchanging some tips, occasionally signin on to somebody elses route, and be off until the end of the day, when we’d meet again at the campfire. The Camp 4 appeal, after fifty years, is still around.

From Thanh, practically a Camp 4 resident with his stories of rattlesnake bites and epics and remarkable memory for visualizing climbs, to Trevor & Javier from Idaho improving their trad technique, to Anna from SB just takin in the air, to Max, the wildlife biologist with an abnormal attraction to off-width cracks, I found myself surprisingly sad this morning when I woke up and didn’t hear them cooking outside my tent, but instead heard my alarm telling me I had to go to work.

At any rate, it’s this quality of the campfire that made me decide at the beginning of the brainstorming for this documentary that all the interviews with climbers should be done by campfire light or lantern light.

A huge portion of The Rock Adventure Guide consists of interviews with different people (rock climbers, outdoors enthusiasts from the 50s onward) who tell stories about life in the outdoors and on the rock. What better setting than at the side of a campfire?

Not only because it fits with the setting of the film and these characters, but also because of the aesthetic quality. Unlike bright lighting in an office or traditional interview setup (like with a swirly blue background reminiscent of your 3rd grade school pictures), a campfire provides for more a cinematic effect. A subjects face is partly lit and partly obscured in the same way that their legends are partly fact and partly myth.  You wouldn’t film Paul Bunyon or Johhny Appleseed in a studio with three point lighting, imagine how dissapointed you would be!  The same is true of the figures we plan to interview for this documentary.


Meet Beasty…

March 24, 2008 -


Beasty is more than just a 1976 Volkswagen van. She is what we call our Home Operations Traveling Resource of Destiny (H.O.T.R.O.D.)

In other words, this is our mobile crew unit that we’ll be traveling in over 5,000 miles from California to New York and back. We will be driving, cooking, sleeping, drinking, reading, filming, logging, and capturing all from the van.

Volkswagens like ours have plenty of history with the outdoors, free spirits and climbing communities alike, so we think its pretty fitting. Like John ‘the Verm’ Sherman puts it in his naughty book “Sherman Exposed“:

V: The van’s paid for. People see me traveling around climbing all the time, not punching a time clock and they think I must have married a Rockefeller. Not true. Living in a van is dirt cheap and simple. No rent. No bills. No phone. No boss. One-third food, one-third gas, one-third beer. Every once in a while splurge for a dollar movie or a box of chalk. Like Eric Beck said, “at either end of the social spectrum lies a leisure class.”

So there you go. That’s more or less our philosophy. (BTW If you have any good VW stories or pictures, send them to me and I’ll put em up here).

Our course depends on where we will need to go to meet our interviewees, but as you can imagine, it seems like many of the climbers we want to talk to are located near big climbing epicenters. Which works out great for us, since we couldn’t do without footage of all these places for the film.


I based a loose estimate of where we’ll be headed based on Don Mellor’s neat book American Rock, Region, and Culture of which I’ll try to get a pic of soon so you can get an idea of where we’ll be heading ( so that…you could maybe suggest a pitstop!).


Despite the skepticism about the lack of a radiator, I feel pretty confident about Beasty. The engine has been rebuilt, and I’m currently working on getting a solar panel operating off the top to run/charge our film equipment. (If you have some particular knowledge on solar panels and controllers in VW buses, throw some advice our way! I’ve got the panel, but not the know-how).

And if problems arise, in AIRS we trust (Aircooled Interstate Rescue Squad). What other automobile can claim this kind of support!

This is our basic basic basic production plan, but right about now you may actually want to know what kind of film we are making or what its specifically going to cover…so that’s coming in the next post. In the meantime, our website has some basic over-edited info for you to peruse…

Thanks for readin!