Tijl Smitz on Wind of Dawn (V4)
In the clouds of the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco rests a real bouldering treasure hidden from the climbing community for many years. Oukaimeden is the first bouldering destination in Morocco, and is just a one and a half hour drive from the cultural heart of Marrakech. Bouldering in Oukaimeden combines well with a road trip through Morocco or a city trip to Marrakech and is a cultural and exotic experience.
Odielvan Wijkon on Schwartz Walderkirch (V3)
If you thought pioneering was only something done by pioneers in the twentieth century, you are wrong. At 2000 meters above the imperial city of Marrakech you feel the fresh air of nature and splendid views when you get psyched about a new problem you’re working on. Thousands of potential problems are located in the hills surrounding the little village of Oukaimeden. A true pioneer’s experience of exploring new boulders and sending new problems no one has attempted before you.
Irene Pieper on Lost Hold (V3)
Oukaimeden is best visited in the spring months of March, through May and during the Autumn months of October and November. The summer months June, July and August can be hot and the mountains are, by then, covered with shepherds. The winter months December through February can be perfect for sending hard problems but at the same time can be frustrating with thick layers of snow. Nevertheless, the sun is strong enough to melt the snow from the boulders, even during the winter months, at a fast pace.
Leander Rutten balancing in The Bakery
Currently, Oukaimeden has three main areas where most of the problems are located. The lowest (2300m.) area, and probably the most flat one too, is called The Colony. A small area with a high density of documented boulders from balancy plates to high balls and seriously overhang cave problems. The Colony is a 7 km drive from the village and is located in a hairpin turn and provides spectacular views over the lush Ourika valley.
The most developed areas are The Bakery & Rivers of Babylon located near the small village of Oukaimeden. At the northwest side of the road The Bakery is covered with the most problems ranging from v0 to v6. There are also potential hard highball problems in this area. Rivers of Babylon is at the north east side of the river and is a long stretched area at Atlas crest line. Don’t wait, book your ticket to Marrakech today and go send these tasty problems.
Thank you Fringes Folly. We couldn’t agree more!
Martyn Oosthuizen on Aliance (V0)
The Hillside Dams, once the principle source of Bulawayo’s water supply, are in easy reach of the center of town. Our own climbing and bouldering oasis little more than a hop, skip and a jump away.
Although distinct from the Matopo Hills, this area of broken kopjes and sandy open plains resembles the much larger, better-known World Heritage Site. Yet it lies within the Bulawayo City boundary. Its natural vegetation is still largely intact and it includes a wide range of bird life. It has to be said that there are more species of plants in the park than the whole of England. There are also many small mammals including monkeys, squirrels, rock hyrax and duiker.
Tim Kluckow on Jungle Fresh (V3)
The area has attracted people since the earliest of times. It is not surprising that it was the location of one of King Lobengula Khumalo’s favorite royal villages to which he escaped when the stresses and strains of power at the nearby capital of Bulawayo were too great. In recent history it has catered to generations of Bulawayo residents seeking an accessible place of refuge and winding down. The newly renovated restaurant is becoming more popular and is a great place for a sundowner after a good session of sending.
Dom Stackler on Jungle Fresh (V3)
People have been climbing at Hillside Dams since the 90´s with the likes of Jeff Broome and Haedi Cunningham using the park regularly to keep in shape for the bigger rocks of the Matopo Hills and as a place to introduce those interested to the world of rock climbing. The bouldering potential was never really explored till after 2012. In 2014 Zimbabwe Rock Climbing (ZRC) was formed with the purpose of developing climbing and climbers in Zimbabwe. Hillside Dams with its position within the city and the potential for 300+ boulder problems (not bad for an area of 86 hectares/212 acres, a lot of which is the two dams) was chosen to be the focus of this development. Since the formation of ZRC there has been a frenzy of development including a dozen or so short sport routes and many dozen boulder problems. All of the climbing is easily accessible with most problems less than a 10 minute walk.
Tim Kluckow on Me Jane (5.10d)
The dominant rock is Syenite. This coarse igneous rock is about 2.172 billion years old and is very similar to granite but is deficient in quartz. As far as climbers are concerned it looks like and climbs the same as local granite and is often referred to as granite. Bulawayo´s cool dry winters are the best time for climbing at Hillside Dams, while early mornings and late afternoons/evenings are still great during the warmer months.
Squamish Smoke Bluffs Rock Climbing with The Chief & Howe Sound backdrop.
Smoke Bluffs Introduction
The Smoke Bluffs is likely one of the most popular and frequented climbing locations in all of Canada. This is primarily due to the hundreds of quality single-pitch climbs found scattered across the hillsides, all within walking distance of Squamish. The crags host an abundance of varied crack and slab climbs, and most of the cliff-tops are easy to access for setting up topropes. Rainstorms will prevent climbing on all the cliffs, but the Bluffs dry very quickly afterward due to afternoon sun exposure, minimal tree cover and frequent winds, which also provide welcome relief in the heat of summer.
Jasmin Caton working on Zombie Roof. 5.12d. Smoke Bluffs, Squamish, British Columbia, Canada
If you’re new to the area, the Smoke Bluffs is a great place to test Squamish granite, get a quick session in after work, or hone your skills for bigger objectives on the Chief.
From downtown Squamish, the Smoke Bluffs appear as a series of granite outcrops lining the hillsides directly to the east. To reach the parking area, follow Highway 99 toward downtown and turn east onto Logger’s Lane opposite the McDonald’s restaurant. Follow the paved road north past the Squamish Adventure Centre and a sign will direct you into the climbers’ parking area a little farther down the road on the right. All crags are approached from this location. The Smoke Bluffs is a municipal park that borders residential neighbourhoods and is frequented by non-climbing locals. Please be a considerate visitor in order to keep relations with the locals as positive as possible.
Roger Strong, Cold Comfort 5.9, Smoke Bluffs, Squamish, BC
The quantity and quality of routes in the Bluffs causes the popular cliffs to get quite congested on most weekends throughout the climbing season. Walking from crag to crag looking for a free climb can be a frustrating experience, but if you consider the following recommendations, a good day with minimal waiting is likely. Try starting early or climbing late if you must join the onslaught of weekend warriors. The bulk of the climbing public will arrive mid-morning and will often quit before dinner, leaving many of the crags deserted in the evening, a wonderful time to get in a few classic pitches.
Placing gear in one of the Smoke Bluffs many sweet cracks.
If you’re having trouble finding open climbs midday, try the out-of-the-way cliffs. As a general rule, the farther you hike the better your odds of finding a quiet spot. Good examples are the crags around Lumberland, High Cliff and Island in the Sky below Burgers and Fries, and the outlying crags on the Loop Trail, such as Funarama, Tunnel Rock, Call it a Day and Skunk Hollow. Finally, don’t write off rain days. Many climbers from Vancouver get spooked if the forecast is threatening, and won’t make the one-hour drive from the city. But if you don’t mind taking a risk, you might luck into a great day in the fast-drying Bluffs. And if it does rain, you can always go hiking, biking or climbing at Chek.
Finding the sweet jams in the Squamish Smoke Bluffs Rock Climbing
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Moab is the name of a son, born of a young woman who tricked her father into having sex with her. It follows that it would become a wild child, run by a humpbacked flute player..the mythical Hopi symbol of fertility, replenishment, music, dance, and mischief. The place is a gypsy camp akin to “Burning Man”. Complete with the warm smell of colitas rising up through the air. Many of the town’s businesses are closed in the winter, when their owners move back to reality. A trip to this bustling recreational sprawl in the spring or fall is a “trip” with Kokopelli, indeed.
kokopelli-Moab Rock Climbing
Moab is a land of extremes. Such is life in a desert town born of a uranium mine. You can set up your tent in someone’s backyard in the middle of town for $10. Use the next door neighbor’s shower for another $5. And hit the cantina for tacos & beer 3 blocks down. You can check yourself into a “hostel” or “cabin commune” for a few bucks more and get a shower and microwave. Patchouli scent will be thrown in for free…whether you want it or not. $150/night is typical for a hotel room in April…if you book it by February. The same room will be available at a moments notice in July for $40/night. More traditional Forest Service campsites surround the town. Some are reservable…four months in advance. The rest are first come / first serve.
Ivan perevozov on Horizontal Mambo Photo By: Michael Loh – Moab Rock Climbing
Moab is a place people travel to for fun. The result is a gregarious party atmosphere of shared resources. Beer, campfires, coolers, drums, jeeps, bikes, ropes, boats, giant cams, bloody legs, bikini tops and cut-off jeans…all covered in a reddish-brown tint. Moab is four wheeling, dirt biking, river running, and rock climbing fun! Moab Rock Climbing is the most comprehensive guidebook to climbing on Wall Street, Moab’s most popular crag. But it also covers the most popular crags on Kane Creek Road and River Road with detailed route descriptions and color photo-topos. Over 150 routes are covered so far. All are within 15 miles of town.
Snake Slab (5.8) Moab Rock Climbing
Moab is Chinle, Cutler, Entrada, Kayenta, Moenave, Moenkopi, Navajo, Tuft, Vaqueros and Wingate. In the language of scientists and climbers alike. This “type locality” is the way we describe the ever-present sandstones in and around Moab, and that which covers the clothing, skin and hair of every person the moment they exit the vehicle that brought them here. Most cracks are parallel-sided, demanding mastery of jamming techniques. The surface of desert rock is like fine sandpaper. The dry air and porous rock will suck the sweat right out of your hands. If you’ve honed your friction skills on glacier-polished granite slabs you are in for some excitement on Navajo sandstone. Its a whole ‘nutherworld here. You may have heard horror stories about crazy old bolts and teetering loose blocks in the desert. They are all true. Ha! But this Moab Rock Climbing guidebook helps you navigate through the mix of good and bad protection and loose terrain with solid, up-to-date information and historic anecdotes.
Flakes of Wrath Photo By: Adam Winters – Moab Rock Climbing
Moab! The word makes the back of my hands tingle with the remembrance of pain, fear, and enthusiasm. Don’t worry if that’s not your kink. Its not all hand-jamming and teetering towers of mud here. This guidebook comes with equal parts crack, slab and vertical face. Nearly half the routes are actually sport climbs. And if you’re hankering for a road trip to a town with locals who actually welcome climbers, you might find a slice of heaven here.
New York is not the City!.. every climber knows that.
Heralded by sport, trad, and even gym climbers as one of North America’s premier climbing venues… this place is loved by all.
Climbers on the uniquely shaped Chicken Rock – City of Rocks Climbing
The bizarre shapes of every rock beg to be named… “It’s a chicken.” “No. It’s a Scottish Terrier. See the snout and tail?” This place could have been the backdrop to a Dr. Seuss book. The more time you spend in the City, the more confusing the names become. There are 2 or 3 names for most rocks here.
Unique climbing hold shapes in City of Rocks
It took over 100 years and the government stepping in to finally settle on a name for the whole place. Silent City, Circle City, Ancient City, Rock City, Goblin City, City of Castles, City of Rocks, Valley of Rocks, Rock Basin, Chapel Rocks, Monumental Rocks, and Pyramid Circle were among the many names commonly used by everyone. In the end the government decided on the most generic sounding one of the bunch. But “Silent City” was actually the most widely used by visitors. One starry night here and you will know why.
A trip to the City is more than just a climbing trip. It is a camping trip. And any veteran will tell you how delightful the camping is here. It is convenient car-camping among the very rocks you came here to climb on. You won’t be crammed like a sardine in a noisy, paved loop. Most sites are relatively private and have nearby toilets.
Tracy’s General Store Built Circa 1900 – City of Rocks Climbing
A trip here is a step back in time… geologically, culturally, and technologically. The fenceposts are tree limbs. The road is dirt. The signs are wood. The water comes from a well. And cell phone coverage is spotty. Good thing your rakkup guidebook app doesn’t need it.
The California Trail runs straight through the middle of the Reserve. If you think this place is bustling now, you should have seen it in 1852 when over 52,000 people pushed handcarts and 1,000,000 animals pulled wagons through here. You can still see the wagon wheel ruts and grease signatures they left behind.
Wagon Train through City of Rocks circa 1855 – City of Rocks Climbing
Indian and emigrant legends mix with the tales of legendary climbers. Tony Yaniro climbed the still-unrepeated test-piece crack, “The Boogieman”. Greg Lowe tested the first spring-loaded cams in City cracks. And the City’s “Infinite” was widely regarded as the most difficult climb in the world at a time when difficulty was not measured solely by movement, but by the mental fortitude it took to lead a climb with little protection and no rehearsal.
The history of climbing in Idaho’s City of Rocks goes back to the early 1950s. It has been said the first thing to attract climbers here was the beautiful women. There is more than a grain of truth in that. Back then, in an effort to promote tourism, beauty contests were held on a stage set up on the west side of “Bathtub” Rock. Without a doubt some early first ascents were fueled by the angst of those pageants.
Beauty Contest at Bath Rock circa 1950 – City of Rocks Climbing
That may have been the initial impetus that brought strong men here. But beauty pageants are a thing of the past. Climbers of both sexes come here in droves now. Clamoring for holds they can wrap every digit around. The wildly gymnastic moves on the handlebar holds of routes like Colossus (5.10) take center stage on the back side of Bath Rock now. The shape of these holds defies everything our minds consider when we think of granite. No glacier polish. No featureless cracks. No oceans of holdless slab.
Big climbing holds at City of Rocks
Tony’s new City of Rocks rakkup guidebook describes 200+ more routes than any other guide ever has. Nearly 1,000 routes in all and more updates are on their way.
Scott McLeod on To Air is Human (5.10+), Gate Buttress, Photographer: Andrew Burr
Little Cottonwood rock climbing is northern Utah’s premier climbing venue, located within the Wasatch-Cache National Forest along the eastern border of the Salt Lake Valley where the Rocky Mountains meet the Great Basin, 15 miles from downtown Salt Lake City.
You won’t be doing the same move over and over again here. Low angle, high angle, overhangs, pockets, slabs and giant chimneys. Finger, hand and off-width cracks. Even the protection varies. Lube up the sliding nuts and 4” cams. Your micronuts and tube chocks will be shiny no more. This granite will eat them all up. Put your quickdraws on the same rack. There are over 200 sport routes here. Mostly limestone and quartzite. The list of 800, mostly granite, traditional routes is growing with constant updates to the app. The app includes closeup pitch by pitch photos of over 300 multi-pitch routes as high as 1,500 feet long. Over 1,000 routes in total, from 5.3 to 5.13. Check your ego at the trailhead. Little Cottonwood difficulty grades have a deserved reputation for being “full value”.
Zac Robinson on Cashmere Crack (5.11+), Lizard Head, Photographer: Andrew Burr
Plans to quickly bump your way up through the numbers will promptly be thwarted. But an apprenticeship here will hone every skill at every level. Hand jamming, stemming, smearing, edging, mantling, lay-backing and high-stepping.
Luke Kretschmar on Disco Duck (5.10), The Waterfront, Photographer: Andrew Burr
Mastery of classic, so-called “beginner” routes will earn you the solid status of a true all-around rock climber.
Schoolroom (5.6) will prepare you for every size crack. Perhaps (5.7) will beat your lay-backing skills into submission. Crescent Crack (5.7) will teach you respect for chimneys. The lost art of nut placement will be within your grasp after a no cam redpoint of Pentapitch (5.8). The S-Direct (5.9) will test your mettle and give you pause to call yourself a 5.9 climber. Anyone who has climbed The Dorsal Fin (5.10+) comes away with a different perspective on the accomplishments of climbers throughout the ages.
Breahnna Carrol on Fleeting Glimpse (5.9), Lisa Falls
These routes won’t just just force you to think. They constantly require you to re-think the way you climb. Routes are not simply sand-bagged. They just can’t be easily categorized by a number. The climbing is truly complex and frequently sustained at their grade. So-called “trick” maneuvers are commonplace. You won’t remember these routes by the number next to them. You will remember them by your experience. You will remember them by name.
Joshua Tree NP, photo by Robert Miramontes
This week we are launching the rakkup digital version of Joshua Tree Rock Climbs by Robert Miramontes, from our partners Wolverine Publishing. This release is an emotional one for us on several levels and we thought it might be interesting to share the story of how it came to be. With a sense of great pride and accomplishment, gratitude for partners who helped us and believed in us, and sadness at a recent loss, we bring you this book and hope it is your companion for some great climbing days this Winter.
The good folks at Wolverine have been our most important partners for the last couple of years, and it all started with a visit to the Western Slope. We admired Wolverine as an early leader in smartphone versions of digital guidebooks, and we had recently seen the news that they were discontinuing the first generation of apps they had released because they proved to be difficult to update. Excitedly, we drove from Boulder to the Rifle area to pitch our platform. There we not only received the warm hospitality of Dave Pegg and his wife Fiona, but also the gift of their faith in us. After our meeting and a super home-cooked meal, they decided to entrust us to release digital versions of their books at a time when our catalog consisted of about two titles.
Some of you may have heard of the tragic loss of Dave Pegg last weekend. He was a great business partner but more than that. We counted him as a friend and admired his energy, business smarts, integrity, and pure love for the people and places of climbing. Several other authors told us his books set the standard in North America for detail, readability, and appearance, and we agree. Our last email from Dave was the “green light” to release the Joshua Tree guidebook we built together, and after we conferred with Robert Miramontes (its meticulous author), we agreed that Dave would want to see this go forward. Therefore we see this as something of a tribute to the beautiful books he made and the community of people he brought together to do it.
When you pick up the book, you are immediately struck by its beauty. The layout is clean and readable, the depth of the descriptions is amazing, the photos are simply among the most stunning of any guidebook (but also perfectly framed to help find your route), and the heft and thoroughness is mind-blowing. Turning this into a digital guidebook was a daunting task, but from the very first day that we prototyped rakkup’s turn-by-turn navigation we talked about Joshua Tree as “nirvana”, the ultimate place where it was really needed. We had already checked that GPS signal was accurate way out in the park beyond cell phone service.
It turns out, it took a team of four people and nearly six months from the time we started to pull it all together, and this book pushed our platform and our technologies to new heights. Todd was responsible for processing the original book files and using our automated import tool to parse all the sector, wall, boulder, and route descriptions and data. We structure the text and put it in a database so that climbers can quickly, sort, filter, and find routes. Our friend Tom Moulin helped with the enormous task of processing all the photos, preparing and labeling them to look great on mobile displays. (Tom is also a professional photographer, and author of the superb Southern Nevada Bouldering guidebook in his own right.) Robert, the author, used our web-based map building tool to draw a map of all the roads and trails that connect the 3,057 climbs and boulder problems with 201 miles of roads and trails. It boggles our minds to think of the time and knowledge required to put this together, and we feel sure every rakkup user is going to appreciate Robert’s setting this all down in a way we can benefit from when we climb. Watching Robert work forced us to make our tools better. I regret that some of the improvements will come too late to help this Herculean task, but I know all future map builders will benefit.
For my part, I found this guidebook was on such a daunting scale that I had to rewrite both the iPhone and Android versions of rakkup to give a better experience with it. First, we added smart downloads that let you open the guidebook and use it within about 15 seconds of your purchase, and seamlessly download nearly 600 photos in the background and as you need them. Once they are cached the entire guidebook works offline so you can use it anywhere in the park. Next up, I did a rewrite of the map drawing code to handle the complexity of the map, which includes over 5,300 sections of road and trail, 3 or 4 times as much as our next most complicated map. Both iOS and Android offer a way to break the drawing up into small units of work so you can zoom, pan, and tap and feel a responsive app even as we show you where all the climbs are. This requires us to do all the math of converting GPS coordinates into pixels, so it was a fun challenge.
Finally, I had to address the speed of route calculation. In our other guidebooks it felt nearly instantaneous to calculate the route from where you are to the route you seek, but it took a few seconds at J Tree on the iPhone app, and the Android app was just overwhelmed. Our algorithm was already pretty good, but I added a caching strategy to pre-calculate some things, and now we are back to instant response and reliable routing on both platforms. Along the way we used some new quality-control tools to validate the map and fix a few errors that crept into the map data, too.
This book was really what we had in mind three years ago when we labored to create rakkup. I love ability to filter a huge database of routes and see just the ones you want in a list or laid out on the map (by morning shade or afternoon sun, 3 or 4 stars, trad or sport or bouldering, just the right range of grades, and more). I can’t even imagine visiting Josh again without relying on rakkup navigation, as one who has been lost plenty and seen the labyrinth of stone in the park. And Robert’s beta, opinions, and ratings clearly seem to reflect more climbing experience there than I and my friends could ever hope to amass.
We loved being part of a team that came together to make a piece of work cooler than any of us could have done on our own. We got Wolverine’s permission to bring it to you at an amazing price. And we think that since we all rallied together around an effort started by Dave Pegg, it is a fitting tribute to how much he gave to the climbing community. You’ll be missed, Dave, and we will work hard to keep the level of quality you would have wanted, and to get out and climb as often as we can, as you certainly did.
-Rob, November 2014
Todd and I woke up to the sad news of the passing of Dave Pegg this morning. We still don’t know much but we’re saddened and took time to share memories with each other today.
Dave was the energy and the soul of Wolverine Publishing, and probably did more to raise the standard for North American climbing guidebooks than anyone in memory. The work he did helped thousands of climbers have happier climbing days and influenced many other authors who told us straight up that Wolverine’s work set the bar for them.
Todd and I met Dave and Fiona less than two years ago at their home near Rifle, when rakkup was in its infancy. They were among the very first to believe in us and put their trust in us, and Dave was a great partner to work with. He was honest and conducted his work with integrity, and he did what he said he would do. This is a rarer quality than some might think, and we valued it. He had vision for the future but tempered with the practicality he needed to make the present work.
But beyond that, we had a great admiration for Dave because he made time to do the things he loved, most especially climbing, and always seemed to be in the places and around the people he loved most, with a smile on his face. He worked hard and played just as hard.
Wolverine was pretty much the first to have apps for their guidebooks, way ahead of their time. We jumped at the chance to meet and earn the opportunity to build on the incredible library Wolverine had accumulated. Todd and I drove across the state of Colorado for a meeting and in the process got to enjoy hospitality and make new friends. On a later visit, we got to visit Dave’s new somewhat secret new crag and watch him work on his project of the day. He was clearly in his element and it was a beautiful thing to watch.
We will miss him and share condolences with all who feel this loss. If there’s anything we can to do preserve and build on the legacy that Dave created, we will give it our all as he would have.
-Todd and Rob