Climbing, My Thoughts, My Writing, Things I Do

Vibrant Life

Finding beauty in a city of half a million seemed difficult at first. With all of the extra traffic, city politics, and the universal challenges that humanity creates in tight living conditions, some days just aren’t as bright as the sunrise. But humanity is designed in duality: where there is evil there is good, and where there is sad there is happy. Even in the dirtiest dreariest places, it is possible to find vibrant life.

A city is not beautiful naturally, so we tend to hire structural playwrights: architects, designers, and artists to help offset the drab of the drive. Their job, besides functionality, is essentially to design a practical piece of art that appeals to the masses, does the city proud, and brings life to an otherwise bereft area. Obviously this is not an easy task.

As was the case with the prominent art structure pictured here, which was built to pacify rush hour traffic along I25 into downtown Denver

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Climbing, My Writing

Road Trip Reminisce

The following article was published a few years back in Urban Climber Magazine. I am posting it now to foreshadow a bit of a road trip i’ll be taking…

Road Trip Reminisce


*Reads easier if you watch these classics first.

My last road trip took me to 8 different climbing areas in 7 days, up 30 different three star problems, and ended with a very sun burnt left arm. It was an amazing ride that reminded me there is nothing more that I like to do than put my car into park at a new climbing area…And so, when under the thumb of work, my second choice is watching someone else doing just that.

The ‘road trip’ video is certainly the classic climbing film genre, encompassing the climbing bum standards of cheap food, little sleep, and lots of action. By the very nature of cities not typically being covered with rocks, the sport of climbing has always revolved around the road trip. These factors have given us the plethora of ‘road trip’ style videos we relish today. But to really get a feel for what makes a good road trip or even a good video, we need to look a few of the classics: Rampage, The Real Thing, and Frequent Flyers all embody the qualities of a classic bouldering trip.

Who wouldn’t want a one-way ticket around the world or an RV full of psyched climbers to explore the North American west coast with? I mean really, Ben Moon and Jerry Moffat are my heroes! These videos characterize the ideals of the perfect road trip. When Chris Sharma had his challenging day at the Tramway, overcoming his “ripped” shoes, he perseveres to continue climbing for the sake of passion. When Boone Speed classifies his past few days of travel with a recount of what time it is in each country they climbed at during their whirlwind trip, he reminds us sleep is secondary to the amazing limestone boulders of Castle Hill. And finally, When Ben and Jerry take their renowned rest day in the snowy never-never-land of Fontainebleau, they remind us that if you are not having fun, then you may as well go home!

If these videos have taught us anything, it’s that you will not send everything you want to, unless you’re Ben Moon or Chris Sharma, but mostly, it is that the strongest memories of a trip are the fun times spent with friends at the climbing area. Jerry Moffat, reaching for the stars with his arms and exclaiming, “Streeeaatch,” followed by an enjoyable string of climbing cuts on perfect forested sandstone and hilarious improvised fighting scenes between the crew. Boone Speed proclaiming, “I just didn’t want to fall off,” as he grits his teeth and power slabs his way up a New Zealand test piece to join his buddies on top. Obe Carrion remarking about the unheard of strength of Garth Miller, ”How much can you know reading a magazine, you know, but he is naaasty strong!” and the unrivaled smiles of the Japanese climbers, “They’re all just laughing and giggling, and just having such a rad time.” But my favorite quote of any road trip video is from the king himself making sure he gets to climb on everything he sees: “What happens if we see some rad looking boulders on the side of the road…we’re gonna stop…and go climb on ‘em.”

About Me, Climbing

SCC Interview

Southeastern Climbers CoalitionInterview of Lee Payne for Southeastern Climbers Coalition
Originally posted on Friday, November 26, 2004
by Brad McLeod

Lee Payne is known in the deep south for many things… most notably his website (with partner in crime, Hunter) and for sending really sick boulder problems by the truck load. The Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC) gets an opportunity to speak with Lee about what he is up to these days and where the best place to eat sushi is in Boulder.

Lee Payne Carter Lake boulderingSCC: When and where did you start climbing?
Lee: I started climbing 5 years ago at the Palisades Park in Alabama. Hank McCann took Hunter Jones and me out for some top-roping. We had so much fun we would ride up with him every weekend after that.

SCC: Who were your early influences in climbing?
Lee: After about 6 months of weeknights at the hole in the wall gym at Alabama Outdoors, I ran into Adam Henry at the Shades Crest Boulder Field. He told me what kind of shoes to go buy, as well as, which shoe to put on first to guarantee a send. Adam taught me that climbing was just a game, and that other things should come first. Not long after, I met Brian Capps and he showed me the importance of motivation in climbing, and that if you aren’t, then you should try something else for a while.

SCC: You live and go to school in Colorado now. Can you tell us about that?
Lee: It’s awesome out here – There are so many climbers, there is always someone psyched to go somewhere. Colorado has an awesome climate and so much rock that you can climb hard just about any day of the year.

SCC: What are the differences in climbing out there as far as attitude?
It’s very diverse. In general people are more serious about their climbing out here. But at the same time there are plenty of people just looking to have fun in the sun.

Lee Payne Eldorado Canyon boulderingSCC: Where do you normally climb when you’re in Boulder?
Lee: Recently I have been climbing at Mt. Evans a lot, but as the season starts to change, I’ll probably go the Poudre Canyon a lot this fall. Then when winter comes the local Front Range areas start to get good.

SCC: So what is Modump? What compelled you to start a project like that?
Lee: I am a boulderer, I think that says that at some level I am a geek. I can never get enough. When I started climbing I would always go online and look for any information or media on bouldering that I could find. I decided to start Modump as a way to give people a place they can come for quality media.

SCC: What does the future hold for Modump?
Lee: I am psyched about the future of Modump. I love putting stuff out there, for the same reason I love finding new media. Modump is here to stay, and that is thanks to all the great contributors – Dean, Wes, Wade, Dan, Brian, and Cooper.

SCC: It is interesting that there has been such a draw towards climbing media online. First with Climbxmedia and then sites like Modump, No Rope, etc. What do you attribute that to?
Lee: The climbers of now grew up on this technology, and it was only a matter of time before they decided to start putting it out there. Media has always been around; this is just the modern version, and it rocks!

SCC: You and the Modump crew have traveled a lot these past two summers. Can you tell us more about that?
Lee: There is so much bouldering in this country. I have been blessed to see a lot of what is out there, but constantly new places are being discovered and developed. I love finding the freedom to keep exploring.

SCC: You played a part in the movie “Sessions” by Cooper Roberts. What was it like filming and helping out with that movie?
Lee: That was awesome, because it was just us going out and having fun. I love that video because it chronicles a great year in my life. Cooper is great at what he does, and that he put that together for the community of climbers is a great thing.

SCC: Do you have any hard projects you’re putting an eye on right now?
Lee: I have been really busy with school, Modump, and my real job, so committing to something I want to push my limits on is intimidating. So in other words I’ve been taking it easy on that front and getting things done elsewhere. I haven’t lost that desire though – it never goes away – and when I find the time, there are few things I’ve had my eye on e.g. No More Greener Grasses and Black Lung.

Lee Payne Boulder Canyon boulderingSCC: Any road trips planned?
Lee: I am sitting outside a Maverick gas station in Castle Dale right now – Joe’s Valley, Utah. Everything is wet, but hopefully it’ll dry up tomorrow. This is a funny place – cause at some point while writing this interview everyone in the high school in this town has come by and wondered what I was doing. The Maverick is the place to be seen in Castle Dale.

SCC: What’s Hunter up to these days?
Lee: Hunter just got back from New Zealand – he was hanging out with Cooper there this summer. Now he is back in Boulder trying to get’er done with school. But its Hunter, you know he’s having fun too!

SCC: Do you ever see Coop?
Lee: Online – I miss the guy. I can’t wait till he gets back. He has been on a life changing trip I’m sure.

SCC: Did you climb any with James Litz when he was out in Colorado? (if so..) What kinds of sick problems was he pulling on?
Lee: James in Colorado is ridiculous. It is a gold mine for him – because a couple years before he was here, Dave Graham camped out and put up a ton of great hard lines. James just got to go around and play on everything. When he was here, he also took some stuff to the next level, making second ascents of long standing testpeices, as well as putting up some new hard stuff – including Freaks of the Industry, surely one of Colorado’s hardest lines.

SCC: Favorite restaurant in Boulder?
Lee: There is this new sushi place – and everyone knows, if you live in Boulder that is automatically your favorite spot to be seen.

SCC: Favorite climbing area? Favorite area in the southeast?
Lee: My favorite kind of bouldering is Alpine or adventure bouldering, so my favorite areas are Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Teton national Park, and Mt. Evans. But at the same time, I want my ashes spread at Horse Pens 40, because I am not sure if there is any other place as fun in the Country.

SCC: Thanks for the interview, Lee!
Lee: Of course, have a good day.

Climbing, My Writing, Things I Do

Long and Snowy Peak

Snow can be a lonely expanse, but in a time of need, snow possesses the guiding potential to expose a motivating path. For me, the daunting snowfields on the backside of Longs Peak tempted my will to succeed.

About once every full moon I am compelled to challenge myself. This insatiable drive for adventure is fueled by my quest to hopefully experience new levels of strength that I didn’t previously know I had. The inspiration, instinctively embedded in my mind, is to pick a goal that will force me to focus both mentally and physically at an intensity level which tests my stamina, but through inexhaustible perseverance, permits me to bathe in the realization that my eyes are not yet bigger than my heart.

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