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Maculated Does Pine Mountain Pulldown Part Deux (ie, 2009)
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Sep 25, 2009, 5:30 PM
Post #1 of 4 (1493 views)

Registered: Dec 22, 2001
Posts: 6179

Maculated Does Pine Mountain Pulldown Part Deux (ie, 2009)
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I can't say I've ever officially climbed at Pine Mountain. And this trip report isn't about that - it's about putting on a climbing comp. Despite it being one of the "local" climbing destinations for my area, it involves a two-hour drive to boulder. Of all forms of climbing, bouldering is my least favorite. This is all kinds of ironic, given that I run, and spent the summer building, a bouldering gym in San Luis Obispo (

When I went the first time, it was on a scouting trip with Yishai Horowitz, the event director for the event. I was a few months out from shoulder surgery, so I hopped on a V0 but wussed out near the top, and trust me, if you've had surgery, you get a wuss pass for at least the first year.

Last year, I didn't even get up to the mountain during the event. This is because I am Yishai's Fixer. Whatever sticky problem arises, I tend to be the one to solve it. This tendency of mine has been cultivated from years of leadership roles, stage management, and the like. It makes me an excellent climbing partner because no matter how much stuff sucks, I don't give up until we're safe and on the road home.

I don't officially work for him. There's no paycheck that comes out of me supporting his events, but he's noticed that my tendency to take on responsibility can be handy when you're running a company that's barely in the black most of the time. (What, climbing events don't make money? Say it ain't so!)

I also kind of like the adventure aspect of it. I've been to Pine Mountain quite a few times this year. We went once to get water from the Pine Mountain Inn to test - when we were done, we go to do some trad at Black Wall and to shoot his tiny little gun at this area just off the road from Pine.

By now, we trip around the Pine Mountain Inn like we own it, thanks to the generosity of its owner, Tom Wolf. There've been significant improvements from last year: the power's hooked up so the light posts actually work, most of the trash piles are gone, and I didn't have to level and rake the campground this year.

Quite possibly my favorite improvement was the stage, which is made out of a tractor trailer with a side cut out of it. Tom painted it a bright white, added an "office" on either side of the interior, and then added faux window trim (bright red) and flower boxes, which he told us he would fill with fake flowers. Awesome. That's the kind of improvement the dusty, abandoned property really needed.

It's Thursday night before the comp and I have a couple jobs: get ice, bring coolers down, secure pint glasses, and secure the kegs for the weekend. At 11 pm, I check the brewery's website to see when it opens and then, DAMN. I totally forgot what the drama was about last year: it's that the brewery doesn't open until 2, and I have to leave no later than noon because of a work obligation.

Initiate full panic mode. I'm not even sure how I'll get 200 pint glasses, three kegs, and three coolers in my truck. My roommate's coming down with the dogs and my personal effects (and while PMPD doesn't officially allow dogs, you cannot begrudge me this - both of us had no place to store the mutts, everyone we knew was going to Pine Mountain).

But the beer? NO!!!!!! I get on the phone, calling people all night until I work out that our friend Derek Seymour, manager of will pick them up after work and drive them down. But beer after work means it won't arrive in Pine Mountain until after 9 that night. Climbers need sustenance much earlier than that. How will we make them happy? So, I buy a pony keg and cross my fingers that it's enough.

Then I go to pick up the pint glasses, which totally have not arrived yet. I have to go pick them up in this dodgy UPS storage facility in the scariest part of the central coast. It's a good thing there were no kegs. 250 pint glasses really take a lot of space up.

And away we go.

On my way out, I stop at the intersection of 33 and 166 to hammer in the chloroplast Pine Mountain Pulldown signs. This is an awesome experience when you're dressed in a skirt and heels. Truckers are especially fond of honking at girls hammering in stakes on the side of the road.

When I arrive, everything seems calm and happy. The portapotties are here! Tom really has filled the planter boxes on the trailer/stage with fake flowers! The All Out folks have set up a compound in the trees that's shady and comfortable and we talk about playing Scrabble (which never happens).

Photo by Randy Stevenson

As the evening grows darker, I walk the line of tiki torches, filling them with citronella to stave off the vile Santa Barbara flies and set up the keg behind our food service stand.

This is my all-time favorite job. In the interim, I've found this ridiculously big hat with bullet holes in it and I've slapped it on my head. My job, along with my friend Chris Bersbach (though it turns into a mishmash of helpers), is to ID folks and dole out beer.

Photo by Randy Stevenson

All's great: I'm insulting people's ID photos (why are all you guys so hell-bent on looking scary?) and stamping hands until Buck Branson in his enthusiasm completely ruins it by breaking the stamp, so I start drawing my trademark sheep on people's hands with a sharpie (also found on some of the problem markers). Our favorite friend, Hiro Nakamura, has also brought up a full keg from Santa Barbara's brewery, so late beer delivery is not a prob.

People are happy, they're mostly sober, they've watched a sweet set of videos (thanks to the Reel Rock Tour -- man, that sixteen year old kid is going to blow us all away in a few years, I know it) and we're stoked for the next day. Yishai and I stay up late into the night sorting out prizes and such . . .

Photo by Randy Stevenson

And the sun rises over the Pine Mountain Inn. The buses arrive on time, and nobody is drunk/hungover. In fact, they're wearing ties. Talk about class! After that set leaves, my roommate and I head up to the mountain, following Yishai and our MC, Chris Stehula, up to the competition area. We drop off some goods at the rendezvous point and then drive up to the main area to mark off some final boulders with tape to keep people on established trails.

As we pass, people are hiking up the paved road . . . and boulderers never seem stoked about that extra little warm up, but people weren't complaining about being stiff when they got to their destination. The hiking became a necessity because it was hard for buses to turn around higher up. Besides, boulderers, you're in good shape (or should be), suck it up!

When we got done marking routes, we spent most of the afternoon walking amongst the competitors.

Photo by Randy Stevenson

There were some pros and team climbers (sorry, no good at naming names unless they are always on the cover of climbing rags), but my all time favorites to watch were the kids. Grace Kane, a nine year-old (who was here last year), schooled many of the advanced climbers, and at one point she met up with Charlie (I have no idea how old he is? Eleven, twelve?) and they worked together. I have a major crush on climber kids now. That's a pure sport, man . . . little girls do better than you.

We got down to the venue and realized that despite our best efforts, both caterers were not there on time. Awesome. Having been through this last year, the plan was exacted: I would drive to Ojai and make the world's best burrito bar. And that's what I did, with the Native rep, Mike, as my co-pilot. A few hours later, I was back, and well-staffed with volunteers who were cooking up a storm. Being pretty attuned to peoples' dietary needs, I kept the fish and the chicken from ever touching implements or anything used with vegetables or fish. You could be vegan or the most avid meatitarian, you were good. Barking orders left and right, we got it done. Sadly, it was so popular, those of us who made the food never got to taste it, but happily the second caterer finally showed. Delicious vegan cuisine all around.

Lesson learned: screw caterers. We're cooking burritos next year.

After everyone got their bellies full, prizes were handed out (for results:, and then it was time for fun!


Photo by Randy Stevenson
Painted funkily in the dark and featuring a SLO Op logo (which will become our systems board).

And then there was fire dancing and Still Time finished us out with infectious dancing music. The fun went into the night thanks to vendor-supplied shenanigans, but yours truly was in bed by midnight for the next day's workload.

In the morning I rose with the sun, fired up the stove, and some of us got to cooking pancakes for our hungry guests as others rolled out and headed home in a hungover/post-competition haze.

Everyone was so cool, folks had a good time, thanks to everyone who helped out and attended, and we'll see you round these parts next year.

For photos, check this link: They're good ones!

Here's a link to a really good write up by Piper of Gramicci with more fun photos:

(This post was edited by maculated on Sep 25, 2009, 5:39 PM)


Sep 25, 2009, 6:28 PM
Post #2 of 4 (1460 views)

Registered: Oct 6, 2003
Posts: 1348

Re: [maculated] Maculated Does Pine Mountain Pulldown Part Deux (ie, 2009) [In reply to]
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This was my first year attending the Pull Down and I didn't even compete. I was fortunate enough to help out as one of the photographers and was pleased to see how well the whole event went down. Kristin, my compliments to you, Yishai, and everyone else who helped put the event on. You guys did a great job.

Since this was my first time to the area I spent a good portion of the day shooting around my friends Piper and Spencer who were competing and kind enough to give me the grand tour while crushing some of those boulder problems. Thanks for helping me get some great shots you guys.

A link to my photos can be found on the photo page that was posted above but for those of you too lazy to use the clicky buttons here are some of my favorites from the event.

Gracie Kane

Piper Michelle Yi

Charlie Andrews

Fire dancing

The band, Still Time

The celebration!

More stuff on my website for those interested, looking forward to what next year has in store.

Jason Refuerzo

(This post was edited by chanceboarder on Sep 25, 2009, 6:29 PM)


Sep 25, 2009, 6:33 PM
Post #3 of 4 (1452 views)

Registered: Dec 22, 2001
Posts: 6179

Re: [chanceboarder] Maculated Does Pine Mountain Pulldown Part Deux (ie, 2009) [In reply to]
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Jason, awesome photos. Thank you.


Sep 26, 2009, 11:58 AM
Post #4 of 4 (1405 views)

Registered: Dec 30, 2004
Posts: 1208

Re: [maculated] Maculated Does Pine Mountain Pulldown Part Deux (ie, 2009) [In reply to]
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Nice write-up, Kristen. I like the straw cowboy hat -- reminds me of my favorite photo of you on this site (you exiting a chimney, I think, wearing a similar hat). Whatever happened to that picture? I can't find it.


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