It has been quite a while and I haven’t been very communicative. My last blog entry was made almost a month ago now. I imagine that you’re wondering what I’ve been up to. Well, after Vang Vieng I spent a few days in Luang Prabang, a gem in the heart of undeveloped Laos, wet on the shores of the Mekong. Then came a 24-hour bus ride to Kunming, China. I spent a week there relaxing and reacquainting myself with the developed world. I’ve since settled back into a regular climbing schedule in Yangshuo. Recent days haven’t been terribly productive, due to rain, but there are certainly worse places to be stuck indoors. Yangshuo boasts good food, decent coffee, and lots of wifi.

Despite all the down time I haven’t had much of an opportunity to write. I’ve been working on a secret project since I left Bangkok and my involvement with it has peaked in recent weeks. A few months back I wrote about the insolubility of my motivations, of the way that sometimes certain ideas take hold and begin to compel. Well, I am definitely hooked! I’ll explain:

If you’ve been following along, you probably know that I came first to India back in July. There I was met by a group of climbers and a big red truck. I spent six months with HotRock, traveling from India to Pakistan, China, and Vietnam. The experience was overwhelming. The climbing, the people, and the destinations were all unforgettable. I cannot say enough about HotRock as an organization and a community. They were my ambassadors to the Third World, enabling me to have the experience I wanted when I set out from home. For that I am grateful. Thanks, guys!

Somewhere in China it occurred to me that someone should try do the same thing for climbers who want to visit the States. At home, I can go to a different world-class crag each week and not run out of destinations for more than a year. Most foreign climbers will only ever see a small fraction of them, though, because of their inaccessibility. Places like Red River Gorge and Joe’s Valley are in the middle of nowhere, far from any public transportation. The only way to get out to them is to drive, long-term car rental is prohibitively expensive, and purchase is risky.

You can probably guess where this is going.

What would the ultimate American cragging trip look like? East Coast in the fall, South in the winter, desert in the spring, mountains in the summer. Which crags? Somewhere in Vietnam I started putting a list together. What would you need? A passenger van, a trailer, and some camp equipment. Pretty soon I was running numbers, estimating expenses, and setting a budget. Then I started building a website, writing code. It just kinda snow-balled. I’m one of those if-I-talk-about-it-enough-I-have-to-do-it people. Well, folks got tired of hearing me talk about it. A big German-American kid finally convinced me to follow through.

So the secret project has a name now, a mission, a Facebook profile, and a website. If we can get our acts together we’ll be driving a van full of international climbers around the US starting in September. I’m pretty excited about it. What do you think?