Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Too much nature

On average the conditions in Rifle Mountain Park have been excellent.  This morning at 7:41 AM it’s a chilling 36 degrees after warming up a bit.  Brrr.  With the anticipated clear sunny skies the high temps will approach the high 70’s.  Campers will experience a 40+ degree or better temperature swing.  On average it will look like the perfect day.   We also had two hail storms and a whole weekend of rain where only the caves were dry.

With the furnace blasting to insulate me from the cold, I have this proposal for Rifle Mountain Park:


And I don’t mean some DIA tent looking structure.  Let’s go for:
  • Retractable roof systems that will all us to experience only the perfect days and shield out the hot and cold extremes.  This is sport climbing right? 
  • Crag specific humidity, temperature and breeze controls.  The hard-core sender on Stock Boy’s Revenge will want super cool temps to make the holds feel as positive as possible.  The recreational climbers require warming climes while redpointing simpler routes at the Funny Face and Bubble Bee walls.  The Project Wall with its moderate .11s on one end and difficult .13s on the other requires multiple HVAC zones to properly accommodate the diverse groups.  Individual route controls are likely cost prohibitive, but should be considered for especially hard routes where the magazine factor is high.
  • High rise parking lot with modified chair transportation system to a) relief parking stress on the park and b) eliminate the arduous hikes—no one is impressed by being able to walk a mile, but park illegally and send 5.14 with an audience…priceless.
  • Granite clad bathrooms with one of those dudes that stand there to hand you a towel; he’ll need to be salary because climbers are on a budget...a tip free zone.
  • Stadium seating at crags for bouncing betties/barts to swoon over bare bulging biceps.
  • Camping improvements—out.  Paris Hilton will design luxury accommodations suitable for the sensitive sport climbers’ needs.
  • Street food vendors peddling sending food like peeled grapes for the weight conscience climber and recovery drinks. 
  • And finally pipe the creek, carpet the park and evict Mother Nature.
These significant improvements will not only benefit the climbing, recreation and picnicking users, but will also increase revenue to the City of Rifle.  The Park’s revenue stream is currently extremely seasonal with the Summer being peak time and Winter with drastically shrunken user days from cold seeking ice climbers and snowmobilers.  The RMP Dome will attract year around users to the park like the Super Dome attracts Super Bowl fans.  Rifle will reap the significant long-term economic benefits of these improvements from their use fees at $5/day/car.  What a deal!

Seriously though.

The summer busy season for sport climbing is upon us.  RMP has limited resources to accommodate all the people (climbers, fishers, campers, picnickers, etc.) that want to benefit from these resources.  It takes effort on the part of likely the largest user group, climbers, to mitigate their impacts on the park.  There are many actions all can take to reduce their footprint on the park.  Below I have listed a few suggestions many are specific to RMP but some are simply parts of being a good citizen.
  • Car pool – not only from home to the crag, but also from your campsite to the crag.
  • Follow all posted rules as well as established social norms for the area.
  • If a parking area is full, move on.  Don’t attempt to park alongside the road, double park, or create an extra space.  Take the time to walk while taking in the setting with friends.
  • Promptly pay any required fees upon arrival.
  • Keep dogs on leash.
  • Leave no trace.
  • Extinguish any remnants of last night’s fire.
  • Enjoy!
 I am not aware of any current discussion to limit climbing access in RMP.  Although, I have been told that closing the park has been discussed. 

The future of climbing at RMP is in the hands and actions of the current climbing generation.  They can choose to 1) enjoy the ride to RMP’s ultimate demise or 2) be good stewards of the resource.  The choices you make and pressure your compatriots to make determine the future.

Battle Royale

There is a high stakes battle for supremacy and territory being waged in Rifle Mountain Park.

In the tall spruce tree behind the host cabin we have a lovely lady weighing in a mere ounces. In the fir tree across the creek we have a young male and across the road is the defending champion. The champ is a fine speciman respendent in sleek colorful feathers. These are three of at least six hummingbirds near the host cabin that vie for a spot at the magic red flowers. From the end of the second rafter hangs a humble feeder complete with a 1:4 sugar solution. This is not the typical refined sugar mix, but rather a 1:4 mix made only with the finest organic turbinado sugar. These creatures are greedy and the defender is willing to expend great amounts of energy chasing all away but his lovely lady.

It began when we first arrived and we tackled cleaning the host cabin and surrounding area. In the wood box I discovered two hummingbird feeders. One was beyond getting clean, but the other I was able to apply lots of hot water and vinegar to clean and sanitize. Like I mentioned above, it is humble as it only contains two cups of nectar. I had noticed the defending champ cruising the area making loud humming noises as he buzzed by. Before I could get a safe distance for the feeder upon the first deployment, the champ buzzed in. He has a glorious red throat and gives displays of dominance that scare all but the bravest of birds.

They swoop, dive, chase and buzz around at great speeds. The battle for the finest nectar in the canyon begins at dawn. We awake to the sound of buzzing as they streak in from their respective trees to slurp at the magic red flowers. They will challenge each other and do stand off buzzes around the feeder until one gives chase and the loser zips away with the victor in hot pursuit. However this can backfire as the loser can sneak around and get back to the feed before the chaser. This results in more stand off buzzing, head fakes and dancing. Late in the evening, there appears to be a truce drawn as five or six birds belly up to the magic red flowers and slurp. Oh, but wait, the champ wants no part of the truce and no one is allowed to fill for the night. Well, that is except his lady. He will come madly buzzing in at break neck speeds and charge the feeder causing a great scattering. All the while, his lady continues to slurp.

At nightfall, they retire to the trees to begin the battle again at first gray morning light.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Dime Bag Marketing 101

While many have been bashing BP for the tragic Deepwater Horizon oil spill, I have been digging deep into their lesser known motives.  The research has uncovered a shocking long-term market expansion strategy.  BP extends the seminal new market development research pioneered by prime-before-their-time thought leaders of Exxon through the research vessel Valdez

Currently humans are the only species that are hooked on petroleum products.  The industrial innovation surrounding oil permeates of our energy supply, clothing, food, drugs and most every other aspect of daily human life.  Petroleum has become so ubiquitous to mankind that revenue growth potential to this market has become severely limited. 

Where are the market expansion opportunities?  Why not bring these societal metamorphosizing petroleum products to marine species of the planet?  Any other action would be purely cruel—like the wizards of Harry Potter’s world keeping wands from the Goblins. 
Humans only occupy the minority of Earth’s land masses.  BP brings oil to the other 75% of the planet’s surface, don’t vilify them and worse yet don’t miss the boat in this emerging market! 

The Deepwater Horizon spill is the dime bag approach to market expansion.   BP supplies the first bit of change catalyst crude oil to the fish, coral, sea birds, etc for free; they become hooked like humans then bring on the HUGE new markets and the elusive revenue expansion. 

Coral reefs seem to be a high probability initial target for this strategy.  Reefs have:
  • A fixed location that is great for building fish friendly refineries, factories, and strip malls for the subsurface industrial and consumer revolution.  Potential abounds to build multiple use-cases for the nascent market with far reaching social impact—think lobster unions, Parrot fish robber barons, homeless sea urchin throngs and much much more.
  • Large populations of innovative diverse occupants to pioneer novel uses of the new found black gold.  Maybe they can figure out the solution to global climate change. 
  • Transportation--why swim when you can take the sub? 
  • Clothing.  Have you noticed that all these species are naked?  Massive market here.  Humans could likely start educating the fishes in our university system in clothing and jewelry design.  Better yet use the desperate fashion needs as a beach head for constructing a media empire by recruiting the most promising marine life for aquatic episodes of Design Star.
  • Construction – no more need for moray eel holes when condos can be built with the Caterpillar equipment powered by oil.
The opportunities are endless.  I don’t know about you, but I’ll be glued to the TV getting business ideas from Sponge Bob Square Pants. 

All this brought to you by the marketing innovation of corner drug dealers and the creative minds out on the sticky part of the envelope’s edge at Exxon & BP.

You might want to watch out for the whale mob protecting its turf…

Monday, June 14, 2010

Slow Rainy Day

Just before dawn today June 12, the skies opened, the wind whipped, the lightening flashed and the thunder rolled. What a way to awaken! We scrambled to cover our solar panels (paranoid???) to protect them from the hail. We then brewed some coffee and toured the campground to make sure no one was flooded. After some sunshine false pretenses, the clouds closed in and it rained. This meant there would not be any picnickers and only the committed climbers in the canyon.

What to do?
1) vacuum
2) spot clean the carpet
3) mop the vinyl floors
4) start a kiefer culture
5) yoga
6) show the community house to next's week reservation
7) cruise the canyon - makes it look like we're working
8) download bike rides from the Garmin onto the computer
9) debate whether to make sugar cookies and test the oven
10) run the generator for a couple hours to charge the batteries since the sun won't be out
11) read a book
12) can't really do any campground improvements since it is so wet
13) have a cup of tea
14) cruise the campground - why? not sure, but again it makes us look occupied
15) sharpen the kitchen knives
16) challenge the iPhone to a game of solitaire and lose
17) break down and make sugar cookies with great success
18) play MarioKart on the Nintendo DS
19) watch 2 movies
20) drive 10 miles to get cell phone reception so we can check the weather

Eviction Notice

A 30 year old 10 foot trailer that looked on the verge of collapse was pulled by an older Nissan Pathfinder. This getup was followed by an equally old and beat up Toyota sedan. They had just been permanently removed from BLM land and were looking for a place to land. They chose campsite number 5 in RMP in mid-summer of 2009. In the spring of 2010 they had moved a couple times and were in campsite number 9 in late May. The posted limit for camping is 14 days so they moved to site 29 after 14 days in site 9. This was the agreement reached between them and the parks director.

The campsite they occupied was an eyesore. There were about a dozen 2 liter bottles of brewing homemade dandelion wine neatly lined in back of the trailer. Next to the door was a small barrel dressed in overalls that served as their trash can. And 7 cats roamed the site. The Toyota sedan had to be parked on a slope so they could push start the car. Egg cartons of seed starts lined the picnic table. A large stack of wood was heaped next to the fire ring. While friendly and harmless, they had worn out their welcome in the park.

Within the first week of being camp hosts at RMP we received feedback from four different parties. No one complained outright, but some expressed annoyance and others expressed discomfort at their presence. They would arrive in a campsite of weekenders and not leave making for an awkward situation. On our first visit with the parks director we asked what the policy was for the 14 day limit and provided our 3rd hand information on their behavior.

During our second conversation with the parks director and a police officer we obtained a copy of the park regulations. Within the regulations it clearly states that the camping is for recreational purposes only and that camping is only for 14 days within a 30 day period. Bingo. We had ammunition to ask the residents in site 29 to leave the park and were given the go ahead.

We dreaded the conversation as they regularly enjoyed their homemade brew and could be a bit belligerent. On our first attempt they had a friend visiting in an adjoining site and we did not want to have the conversation with an audience. We waited another day and a half and caught them at the site in the morning. It was an easy conversation and they took it very well. We provided them with a copy of the regulations in support of our request for them to leave. At 2:30 the next day we watched them drive out of the park leaving behind a clean camp site. As with any user, they are welcome back to camp for another 14 days, but cannot return until July. We believe there is about a 50/50 chance they will return.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


I just finished listening to an older episode of Dick Gordon’s The Story.  The segment was titled B.U.M.S. – Brotherhood of Unemployed Men’s Society.   The group had two founders.  Each chronicled his woe-is-me story of how he had become unemployed, and then continued to be unable to find work of varying long periods of time.  Each had attended multiple other networking groups, which failed to produced qualified job leads or enhance their professional networks. 

They decided to change networking through BUMS.  The plan was to / is to meet at a bar, do some networking, and then hang out to play pool and have a beer.  The perception is that the value of the connections enhances via social interaction.  All this sounds great -- change coffee for beer, mornings for afternoons, conference rooms for bars, etc.  Not surprisingly they have created a new networking group where they are more comfortable, but failed to change their situations. 

These guys are not unemployed ditch diggers with no education, no applicable skills and outsourced jobs.  One had significant database experience in the insurance industry and the other was a former city manager.  How long do these guys (and other long-term unemployed) continue the job searching process that has failed to produce results: send resume, network, rinse repeat.  Rinse & repeat works for morning shampooing but mostly fails to change economic situations. 

Why do you quit beating your head on a concrete wall?  Because it feels good to stop…

The change catalyst is entrepreneurship not eternally networking for someone else to give a paycheck and specific duties.  Are all the problems solved for insurance and city management where they have specific experience?  Why not attempt to create an enterprise out of BUMS? 

Create your own opportunity. 

The unemployed must stop monomaniacally seeking the next job and start allocating time to creating their own opportunities.  Bill Gates didn’t send his resume to Microsoft asking for a sweet programming gig.  Instead he jumped in with both feet to solve a problem for an emerging industry. 

If BUMS really wants to change networking they must stop the networking cycle (12-step program opportunity here).  Rather than enabling men to feeling like they are accomplishing sometime productive with their time by networking, put the skills of group to work now solving a problem and seek the pay later.

Change networking from looking to creating.

Sport Poachers

One of our duties of camp hosting is to collect user fees.  Rifle Mountain Park user fees are mostly a self-pay honor system.  Each user pays for the services (camping or day use) when they enter the park…in theory anyway. 

There appear to be three groups of park users:
  • Pay-as-planned;
  • Pay-when-asked; and
  • Sport Poacher.
The vast majority of people are Pay-as-planned who pay for their fees when entering the park.  Although this is my favorite group, I rarely get to meet them in my camp hosting duties.  If more people were in this group, we could spend more time enhancing the park and less time enforcing rules.

The Pay-when-asked group is interesting.  They know there is a use fee, but are gamblers.  They play the odds of being caught then paying, not being caught and not paying, and being caught by the police and paying a fine as well as the fee.  Excuses abound from this group:
  • "This isn’t a State Park?”
  • “I didn’t know there was a fee.”
  • “Sorry”
  • “We were lazy.”
There is rarely if ever any resistance to paying the user fees when asked, but they never voluntarily pay.
Sport Poacher may really be a sub-class of the Pay-when-asked gambling group as they face the same consequences, but the motivations are truly different.  Sport Poachers have a strategy to avoid fees:
  • In the campgrounds
    • Occupy an empty site late in the evening and then blast out early in the morning
    • Pull up next to the cars that belong to a paid site and “blend-in”…camouflaged style
  • In the day use area
    • Obtain park pass envelope, not pay the place an apparently valid date pass on the dash
    • Use camping pass from a valid paid pass as their day use pass
    • Transfer an annual pass from car to car

The list could go on and on, but you get the point.  They want to avoid payment and will resort to lying and fraud to achieve their goal. 

My question to these last two groups, “Is it worth $5, $7 or $12 to avoid being thought of as a thief?”

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Rifle Mountain Park, Rifle, Colorado

When we decided to go on the road, it wasn't a hard decision to spend our first summer climbing in Rifle Mountain Park. We have been climbing here since about 1998 and have always wanted to spend the summer in the park. As time to leave got close we investigated the possibility of becoming the camp hosts for Rifle Mountain Park. Since we will be spending our summer here and mentioning it I thought it a good idea to educate the non-climbers on what we call 'Rifle;.

Rifle Mountain Park is 434 acres of forested canyon with limestone cliff walls and a creek that is managed by city of Rifle. The land was a grant given to the city of Rifle in 1921. Only about 70 acres are utilized for rock climbing, picnicking and camping while the rest remains untamed forest. RMP is a world class rock climbing destination that saw it's heyday in the 1990s but it is still an active and popular climbing destination. There are 31 primitive camping sites with table, fire pit and BBQ Grill. There is not any electricity or water. Bathroom facilities are porta johns and one vault toilet. The camping is dispersed across 3 camping areas and are best suited for tents even though the use of travel trailers or truck campers are becoming increasingly popular.

Rifle Creek runs through the canyon and is home to trout and beavers. The fishing in the creek is more for sport as the fish are all small and the creek flows fairly rapid. Picnickers can enjoy lunch right on the creek in several places in the canyon. During the hot summer months it is not uncommon to see children playing in the water.

Until recently all the rock climbing routes were for advanced climbers only with very little for the novice to enjoy. Due to recent bolting agreements with the city of Rifle, easy routes have been bolted. The route grades range from 5.7 to 5.14 with the best quality climbing beginning at 5.12. The rock varies from gray limestone slab to overhanging blocky limestone caves. It is our goal to climb these recently bolted easy routes so that we can provide details on them to visiting climbers.