We’ve got exciting news! Coming in Spring 2015, Portland Rock Gym will be expanding and getting a facelift. We can’t wait to share more details with you over the coming months. Get psyched!
Come party with us at the Mountain Shop (1510 NE 37th Ave, Portland, Oregon 97232) before REEL ROCK 9!
September 17, 2014 : 5PM
September 18, 2014 : 5PM
They’ll be serving up Base Camp Brewing Company beer and some light snacks, as well as a heavy helping of stoke! There might even be some prizes given away. (And by might, we of course mean, there absolutely will be prizes!)
After the fun, we’ll walk the two blocks to Hollywood Theater for the main attraction. Be sure to buy your tickets now for REEL ROCK 9!
Mark your Calendar!
September 9th, 5-8PM
Conservation Team BBQ
September 13th, 9AM-2PM
Adopt-A-Crag: Broughton Bluff
Come join the Access Fund Conservation Team and the Mazamas for some trail work at Broughton Bluff. We’ll meet up at 9AM in the Lewis & Clark State Park parking lot off I-84 on Sept. 13th. See more information here.
Written by guest blogger Heather Marsh, PRG Climber
For starters, let me begin by clarifying: I am not hard core.
I always used to assume that climbers and other outdoor enthusiasts were born ready to tackle anything that came their way, and I never thought of myself as that person. I remember visiting Garden of the Gods in Colorado while in college and watching the climbers in awe, thinking how amazing it’d be to be up there, but never for a second did I think I’d be one of them. It just didn’t occur to me.
Back in 2012, my sister and I got a deal on a beginners class at PRG. It was perfect: we could try something new, we could do it together, win-win. So, we took the class. And both of us fell in love. We used every bit of the time that came along with the class, and then bought up longer amounts of time. She took a break for a while, but even without my belay partner I couldn’t stop. I would go and climb the auto belay and talk to random strangers who were doing the same. I ended up climbing with and getting to know a handful of really great people (enthusiastic plug for offering a belay to others who are alone at the gym… I’ve never once regretted it!). They challenged me, encouraged me.
I got better.
Suddenly, those tiny pinch holds that terrified me when I started didn’t seem so bad, and I found myself climbing 5.9s without too much trouble. When I sent my first 5.10, I wanted to take a picture and hang it on my fridge. I didn’t, but I should have.
I spent a lot of time asking questions. By spring of 2013, I knew I wanted to work up to lead, that was my big goal for the year. By fall, I’d taken the course, and was certified for lead in the gym. Since then, I’ve started to lead outside, had my first painful fall, and conquered countless obstacles that I honestly never thought I’d have even attempted.
And today? I’m still not hard core. I don’t climb 5.12s. And sometimes I end up taking more of a break from climbing than I’d like, when life gets in the way. But I miss it like crazy. I always come back to it. I love it. It challenges my brain, my body, my will. It’s introduced me to some amazing people, amazing places.
These days, most recently, I can be found on the bouldering wall, trying to build up my strength and my callouses from a climbing hiatus that lasted far too long. I’m learning to love the short pitches and more puzzling challenges that are involved in bouldering. I’m that person staring at the wall, and trying the same bit over and over, pushing herself a little harder each time, and probably finally conquering it just before she leaves for the day. Or maybe I’ll be there lead climbing with my friends who are far more hard core than I am, who push me to be better, climb harder, be willing to fall more. I still hate falling. Or maybe I’ll be talking to another climber, comparing stories about how climbing really did change my life. Completely. My confidence, my priorities, my muscle tone, even my tan is better since I started climbing (I still wear sunscreen!).
I could throw a million cheesy lines in here to finish this post, but really the moral of my story is pretty simple. Climb. Challenge gravity, your perception of yourself, your body. Look down. See how far you’ve come.
Did you miss us this Summer? We missed you! If you took the Summer off, it’s time to get back to climbing! Our afterschool youth programs are designed to give young climbers between the ages of 6 -17 a chance to learn and improve climbing skills. It’s a cool way to connect with other climbers while staying fit. Enrollment is on a monthly basis and will be at the start of each month. See more information and sign up today!
As climbers, we find ourselves in some pretty outrageous positions and places. And who doesn’t want to come home with cool photos of these experiences. But just like climbing, your photography can only improve with lots and lots of practice. No one comes off the couch climbing 5.14, neither can we expect magazine quality photos right out of the gate. So, first order of business, just like climbing, is to get out there with your camera and try hard!
Along with going out and just shooting, here are a few simple things to consider that can help improve your climbing shots.
Don’t just look at something cool and shoot it. Spend a moment to identify what you’re shooting. What are you trying to capture and convey with this photo? Some ideas to consider: the climber and/or a specific move looks dope, the climber in relation to a beautiful landscape or interesting textured rock, the scene at the base of the climb…
Light is the essence of photography. It takes practice to understand the importance of light in making an extraordinary photo. Start by just noticing how light affects lines, forms and the relationships between objects in a scene. Be sure to not confuse quality of light with quantity of light. Usually the most beautiful light is in the early morning and late evening, especially for a landscape type climbing photos.
However, often we find ourselves climbing in the middle of the day when the sun is harsh. In this case, shoot in the shade. The shade can enrich colors and remove the conflict of shadows in a scene. Be aware of any direct light when shooting in the shade. The contrast can be very confusing to the viewer.
3) Get in Position
Think about the best place to be to obtain the image you composed in your head. On a rope — pick a section of the climb you want to shoot and position your self there—is it directly above the climber, to the side, or maybe it is a few routes away. It could also be from a distance—from another cliff, from the ground, through bushes—think drama.
4) Basic Climbing Photo ‘Rules’
(And remember, all rules are meant to be broken…)
a) Position self to get all 4 limbs of the climber AND the face—capture the climber’s expression and especially the EYES!
b) Look for interesting, dynamic movements and have the climber repeat if necessary (and they are game).
c) Notice the geometry of rock, compelling lines and shapes, the line of the rope- all of these things can help lead your eye to the climber.
d) Try to get separation of climber and rock—many times the color of a climber can get lost in the color of the rock. Look at what is ‘behind’ the climber when you’re shooting. Positioning the climber’s body against the sky or a dramatically different colored rock is an example of this.
e) Keep things simple- the more you leave out the more compelling a photo usually becomes. The more clutter in a photo, the more confusion for the viewer.
5) Tell a Story
Remember it’s not ALL about the climbing. Tell the visual story of your adventure. Capture the scene, the gear, the people, the smiles, the tears, the approach, the interaction of folks….
6) “Steal like an artist.” –Austin Kleon
Study your favorite climbing photographers and pick your favorite images. Analyze how they got that image and use that as a starting point. No one can make a perfect copy, so by trying to copy how someone got a great image, you will inevitably instill your own style and eventually, with lots and lots of practice, you will come out with something uniquely your own. Just remember to credit your inspiration.
Now you just need to get out there, get after it and try hard!!!
Blog written by Photographer Christine Bailey Speed. Christine frequently teams up with hubby Boone Speed on photography projects!Find out more about Christine and Boone’s work:
Did you miss your chance to get outside with PRG in June and July? Well, don’t you fret, because our August Outdoor Clinics are here. Make sure to conquer all the skills you set out to this season with the help of our great instructors!
So you’ve found yourself the ultimate project and are dedicated to whatever it takes to send it. Days, weeks, months pass by, and you’re still putting in attempt after attempt to show that rock who’s boss. Meanwhile, memories of your soft bed, hot shower, and full kitchen creep in and out of your mind while refueling on Nutella and stale bagels.
Now, if you’re one of those climbers with a pimped out RV or van, fine, you might still have those luxuries tucked away in the parking lot waiting for your return, but for those of us still rocking the old Chevy Cavalier our parents hooked us up with on our 16th birthdays, you might be ready to pack it in and find the closest motel when the going gets rough.
However, there is one way to ensure you maintain your sanity while choosing to kick it Huckleberry Finn style, and that is building the perfect shantytown (aka long term camping set-up) from day one. Here are the most important things to keep in mind when crafting your home away from home:
Location! Location! Location!
Finding the most beneficial location is the key to any successful shantytown. Once everything is set up, you are definitely going to be irked to discover that rain drains straight into your tent. Just like architects dedicate large efforts to their blueprints, you need to pre-plan and think through the setup of your shantytown. Every mistake will cost you in the long run.
Things to look for when scouting out your location:
- Trees: Trees are great for acting as anchor points for your structure. They also provide amazing shelter from the elements. However, try to avoid setting up under old ones that might drop branches and such on you, as well as ones with tons of birds roosting in them (for obvious reasons). You want your trees to be strong and sturdy. Endangered, fragile trees could greatly suffer from your structure, so respect the environment and choose trees that can handle it.
- Land: As mentioned above, you don’t want to end up sleeping in a swamp, so surveying the lay of the land is essential in choosing your location. Pick a spot that slopes at a slight angle and set up near the high point. Also, you might want to take into account where you are in relation to the sun. If you don’t appreciate waking up at sunrise, try to place your tent somewhere that remains shady until a decent hour of the day. On the flip side, if you’re in a cold location, be sure to keep your tent in the sun as long as you can.
- Sound: Are you the loud and rowdy group who stays up late laughing around the campfire until 2am? Are you the eager beaver group who heads to sleep early and is first to the crag at sunrise? Are you the family with two young children who get night terrors? All of these are awesome, but know which one you are and embrace it. Don’t set up next to a family if you plan to party all night. Don’t set up next to a site that has empty beer bottles everywhere if you want to go to sleep at sunset.
- Proximity: Take into account your surroundings and needs. Are there bathrooms available at your location? If so, consider how important it is to you to be close to them. How far are you from the crag? Do you want to be in isolation or closer to a town? Sometimes you don’t have very many options, but if you do, think about what will make your long term stay the most enjoyable.
Construction Zone. Go Slow!
So, you’ve found the perfect location after much back and forth with your fellow shantytown inhabitants. Now it’s time to begin crafting your framework and structure.
Things to remember when building your structure:
- Equipment: Maybe you are an experienced architect and brought all the bells and whistles for erecting a shantytown mansion, but most of us usually show up with some rope and a couple cheap tarps. Don’t get overzealous when constructing your new home. Even if you’re drooling over your neighbor’s masterpiece, remember that you can only go as big and bold as your equipment allows. If you’re not in the middle of nowhere, a trip to Wally World can often assist in your endeavors.
- Rope Framework: Stringing up your ropes is the first step to success. You want to decide on your anchor points and ensure the rope is tied tightly and securely. Before you even hang a single tarp, you must get your rope framework properly tensioned. The more tension the better. Your structure must withstand wind and rain, and water is heavier than you think. Also, don’t forget that you have to walk under this structure, so unless you are abnormally short or enjoy adding to the climber hunchback you already have, make sure you tie off your ropes high enough to make for a comfortable setting. (A bit of acrobatic or tree-climbing skill may be required.)
- Vehicles: If you have multiple cars in the group and can sacrifice one for the shantytown, awesome. Vehicles are great to use as an extra wall to your home. They help protect against the wind (if properly placed) and provide a lockable, waterproof space for your valuables. Cars also give you the added benefit of a built-in radio and power source. Just don’t forget to start the car frequently, so you don’t kill the battery. And, remember to point the exhaust away from your site or others.
- Tarpology: There is definitely a science to hanging your tarps, and if you’ve never studied tarpology, be sure to get some assistance from someone who has. Even a beginner tarpist knows the golden rule: you need to have a high point and a low point. Whether you’re going for an A-frame, a single slope, or something more advanced, the key to setting up your tarps is to think like Mother Nature. Really tap into the minds of the wind and rain. If you don’t want to wake up every hour during a torrential downpour to empty out the heavy pool of water forming over your kitchen, be sure to follow the golden rule. Securely fasten your tarp to your rope framework using twine or something sturdy. Zip ties can be especially handy if you have them. The more points you can fasten to the main ropes, the better.
- Bonus Tip: If one or more of your tarp corner eyelets have been ripped out by past battles with Mother Nature, don’t fret. Find a smooth, golf ball or baseball sized rock and cover it with the corner of the tarp. You can then wrap the twine around the bottom of the rock and tie that to the rope.
Home Sweet Home
The time has finally come to unpack and settle in. This involves setting up four key areas of your shantytown: the kitchen, living room, fireplace, and bedrooms.
Things to consider when organizing your home:
- Kitchen: If you don’t have your car or food tent incorporated, you will need a place to store all your food and cooking gear. Bringing a foldable table is always beneficial, but you can usually snag a picnic table from somewhere as well. A table of some sort will make your life a LOT easier and enjoyable when living in a shantytown. You then have a permanent place to keep your camp stove, cut up your vegetables, and gather for a good ol’fashioned family meal. Be sure to have a trash and recycling bin nearby and empty them regularly. If you are camping in a bear/wildlife area, you will need to be careful with your food and scraps.
- Living Room: Everyone wants a comfortable place to chill out at the end of a hard day of climbing or to spend a quiet rest day. Foldable camping chairs and hammocks are an absolute necessity when it comes to shantytown living. Keep the slackline nearby as well. Adding special touches to this area can make it feel homier and easily identifiable for when you invite guests over. Pick up a welcome mat or flag. Maybe create some artwork to hang on a tree. If you can, include a lantern in your set up to avoid getting smashed in the eyes with bright headlamps every five seconds.
- Fireplace: If you are lucky enough to be in an area that allows fires, make sure to incorporate your fire pit placement into your whole design. You want the fire to be outside of the tarp, so you don’t fill up your living space with smoke or accidentally set the roof on fire. If you are relying on your fire for warmth, place the bedrooms nearby. If you are relying on your fire for cooking, place the kitchen nearby. If it’s just there to get drunk and tell ghost stories around, place the bedrooms faraway.
- Bedrooms (aka tents): When choosing where to set up your tent, be sure to take into account the other people in your group. Is there a young buck looking for lots of love? Is there an overly affectionate couple? You know what I’m getting at here… Think about your own needs when placing your tent. Keep away from the kitchen if there are animals in the area. If not, set up close to kitchen and wake up to the smell of bacon each morning (if you’re lucky).
With these helpful suggestions, you are bound to stay comfy and cozy while spending months at your favorite crag sending your ultimate project. If followed correctly, you will probably even make lots of new friends in the process. Everyone loves a friend with an epic shantytown. Happy building!
Blog by guest writer Sara Schneider. See more of her writing here.
With Gym to Crag, climbers will head to a local crag from three hours and climb with a PRG, AMGA SPI guide. It’s a great way for beginning climbers to get some outdoor climbing experience. Gym to Crag is just getting started for 2014! Find out more now.