There are often unintended consequences when one starts a blog. Boulder climber Peter Beal’s was that his is accessible via smartphone from virtually every bouldering haunt on Flagstaff Mountain.
A friend told him he’d used his Web site as a guidebook at the crag.
“He said, ‘My partner and I are always downloading these videos — onto their iPhone, so they can check what they’re doing against what they see on the Web.'”
“That would’ve never even crossed anyone’s mind five years ago.”
Beal’s blog, mountainsandwater.com, is one of several local blogs that cater to the desire of many boulderers for more specific information — from finding a new or obscure boulder or route to figuring out the sequence for climbing it.
Inspired by other local climbers who had started blogs, Beal started his three years ago. It seemed like a good way to write what he wanted and bypass the climbing magazines, he said.
But then he started posting videos, too — not high-production videos with pumping music or special effects, but a simple video taken with a Flip camera that shows how he executed a particular problem.
As of Tuesday, Mountains and Water had 28 such videos of Beal climbing nearby boulder problems.
Jon Glassberg, another prolific blogging boulderer, said blogs, not guidebooks, have become the best way to get local info.
“There’s been a serious lack of a guidebook for a long time now,” he said.
(Heidi Knapp at Sharp End Publishing said Sharp End plans to have two new bouldering guidebooks for the Front Range out by the end of the year.)
Glassberg follows Beal’s blog and posts plenty of his own at jonglassberg.louderthan11.com.
“I post a lot of directions on how to find stuff and a lot of video that, basically, is an instructional video,” Glassberg said. He added that he watches videos of other people climbing problems he wants to work on.
“It’s kind of weird, the way that blogging has become the resource for finding that hard to find info around here,” he said.
“Because I’m always finding new problems or figuring out relatively difficult ones, having that information out there is very important to me,” Beal said. “Because a lot of bouldering guidebooks are really vague.”
“A regular guidebook might say follow a corner for 60 feet. But with a boulder problem, it might mean start on a particular set of holds, finish at a certain point. It’s much more specific.”
Beal posts info on all kinds of problems, from the obscure to the most popular, new and old.
“If I’m at Flagstaff, and it’s not a hard problem, but it might be useful for people to have a reference to a well-known V4 or V5, I’ll do it so they have it as a reference,” he said.
“There are a number of old-school climbers who probably think that’s ruining the sport, but I try to keep a more open mind,” Beal said. “This is information that, it isn’t just helpful, it adds another dimension to the sport.”
Glassberg said Boulder is “the center of the universe for bouldering.”
“There’s so many people here, this is the Mecca for strong climbers. It’s great to have so many people here who are strong and want to write about it and be public about their sending.”