• TNB: Climbing's Big Mistake
  • TNB: Trad Dads and Dad Bods
  • TNB: Do the Right Thing
  • TNB: Big Wall Soloing Sustenance – Cookies vs. Bugs
  • TNB: When Your Rope Falls Off—and 5 Ways to Prevent the Nightmare
  • TNB: Before I Die - What Would Climbers Think?
  • TNB: Raphael Slawinski - Firsthand Account of Everest Earthquake
  • TNB: Point Break - Sharma, Andrada on the Big Screen
  • TNB: Muscle Shoals - Rock and Soul
  • TNB: Naked Soloist is Saner Than Me
  • TNB: The Hard Climb to Heaven
  • TNB: Summer Camp
  • TNB: Suicide in Our Sights
  • TNB: Ethan Pringle's 10 Tips for Sending Your Project
  • TNB: Hawaii Rocks - Totally Aloha
  • TNB: PointGate - Why Comp Climbing Is Not The Future
  • TNB: My First Epic
  • TNB: Eight Ways to Avoid Braking Bad - The Art of the Soft Catch
  • TNB: #Dawnwall and The Creation of Alex Honnlove
  • TNB: Vision Quest - Benji Fink and Mexico’s Steepest Big Wall
  • TNB: The New Dawn (Wall) of Climbing
  • TNB: The Top 5 Weekend Whippers of 2014 (Plus the Comments)
  • TNB: 10 Tips for Jolene Kay, Professional Climber (and Hot Actress)
  • TNB: The Story Behind the Craziest of Rescues
  • TNB: The Risk of Climbing
  • TNB: How to Get Stronger by Doing Nothing for 5 Minutes a Day
  • TNB: Eight Ways to Improve Your Footwork
  • TNB: In Praise of the Weekend Warrior
  • TNB: Joe Kinder Visits the World's Hardest Cave
  • TNB: Celebrating Insomnia in Chamonix
  • TNB: Run, Rabbit - Hermann Gollner, 71, Cranks Pump-O-Rama (5.13a)
  • TNB: Five Best Photos of 2014
  • TNB: Clip Like A Pro - 5 Tips from Sasha DiGiulian and Sean McColl
  • TNB: Five Things Every Gym Climber Must Know About Climbing Outside
  • TNB: Still Jeff Lowe
  • TNB: Moving Over Stone With Doug Robinson
  • TNB: Wheels Up—The Top 5 Climbing Rigs
  • TNB: Is K2 The New Everest?
  • TNB: Things—Besides Us, That Is—That Fall
  • TNB: When Homemade Gear Works, Sorta
  • TNB: The Outsiders
  • TNB: R.I.P. Homero Gutierrez Villarreal - The Padrino of El Potrero
  • TNB: A Short Talk with Sierra Blair-Coyle
  • TNB: Ian Dory, Ninja, or The Craziest Thing I Ever Seen
  • TNB: The Best Crag Dogs of All Time
  • TNB: 5 Ways to Make People Love Your Routes
  • TNB: Hudon and Jones, and Don't Forget It!
  • TNB: Climbing's Tribal Rites
  • TNB: Sasha DiGiulian and Alex Johnson On How to Be a Modern Pro
  • TNB: Is Dean Potter A Bad Father?
  • TNB: Silly Places We’ve Slept - Tales of Unplanned Bivies
  • TNB: Forgotten Hero - Frank Sacherer 1940-1978
  • TNB: The World-Class Weekend Warrior – Martin Keller Climbs V15
  • TNB: Everest Sherpas No Longer Willing to “Grin and Bear It”
  • TNB: Hardheaded Helmet Lesson Learned
  • TNB: Six Most Awesome Jobs for Climbers
  • TNB: The Coolest Climbing Deal Breaker
  • TNB: Sharma and Glowacz Send World’s Steepest Rock Climb
  • TNB: An Encounter with a Legend - Patrick Edlinger, Plus A Whipper Vid
  • TNB: Six Things Every Climber Should Do Before They Die
  • TNB: Falling from the Top
  • TNB: Weekend Whipper
  • TNB: Band of Crushers
  • TNB: Charlie Porter, We Hardly Knew You
  • TNB: Climbing's Greatest Route Names
  • TNB: Hot Women Die and Have Sex on Everest
  • TNB: The Great Tragedy at Carderock
  • TNB: Thoughts On Death, and Last Words
  • TNB: Climbing's Next Big Story
  • TNB: Next Level? Honnold Pushes the Game on El Sendero Luminoso
  • TNB: Jeff Lowe Invented the Sport
  • TNB: The Most Popular Weekend Whippers of the Year
  • TNB: If Ondra Isn't The Best Climber In The World, Who Is?
  • TNB: Storm Years or Typhoon? The Biggest Issue in Climbing
  • TNB: Jim Bridwell Speaks
  • TNB: Honnold's Biggest Solo
  • TNB: Death on Forbidden Peak - Was the NPS Complicit?
  • TNB: Ice Climbing Goes to Sochi Olympics
  • TNB: When Gear Attacks
  • TNB: 8a.nu: The Best Climber in the World is the One with the Most Points
  • TNB: Shutdown: Illegal Climbers in Yosemite—Ninjas or Criminals?
  • TNB: Who is the Best Climber in the World?
  • TNB: The New Courage in a Rucksack
  • TNB: Unsolved Mystery - The Ten Sleep Shooting
  • TNB: The Pad Problem - Honnold, Kehl on Headpoints and Highballs
  • TNB: Travels with Delaney Miller - National Champ Turns to Rock
  • TNB: Jail Food and Booty
  • TNB: Love on the Road
  • TNB: Is Pakistan Safe for Climbers?
  • TNB: Flash Floods, Climbers and How to Get Out of the Way
  • TNB: Climbing's Next Level
  • TNB: Best in Show - Brand New Gear from the Outdoor Retailer Show
  • TNB: Adam Ondra Ties the Knot
  • TNB: Under Pressure - Trotter and Honnold On How Bets Can Help You Send
  • TNB: The Tragedy of Tito Traversa
  • TNB: DR's Crazy Brain Puzzle. Get It Correct or Else.
  • TNB: What Happened To Climbing Films?
  • TNB: Cry of the Colorado Fussy Snivel
  • TNB: Mystery Solved!
  • TNB: The Mystery of Moses Tower - Help Answer a 25-Year-Old Question
  • TNB: No Such Luck
  • TNB: Erasing Midnight Lightning
  • TNB: Mayhem - Crawling, Balling & Brawling on the Evere$t Soap Opera
  • TNB: Watching the Boston Marathon
  • TNB: Chasing the Devil's Snort
  • TNB: Born-Again Gumby
  • TNB: Super Unknown - Austin Dark Horse Establishes 5.14d in Random Texas Cave
  • TNB: Fearless?
  • TNB: The Big Freaking Deal, Ain't Bouldering
  • TNB: Honnold's Achilles' Heel
  • TNB: He's Either Crazy or a Poet
  • TNB: The Fish Cheat and the Prince of Climbing
  • TNB: A Letter from Santa... I mean Sharma
  • TNB: Traveler's Advisory - El Potrero Chico, Mexico
  • TNB: A Year Ago - Athol
  • TNB: Gun Control
  • TNB: What's the Problem?
  • TNB: Derek Hersey's Magic Carpet
  • TNB: The Apprentices
  • TNB: The Jungle
  • TNB: Klem Loskot is Back Climbing V15 and 5.15
  • TNB: Eliminated
  • TNB: The Hurt Locker
  • TNB: The Perils of Sport Climbing
  • TNB: Baddest Climb of the Year
  • TNB: Crossfit Misfit
  • TNB: Eating People and the Real Seventh Summit
  • TNB: Bring It On, Bitch!
  • TNB: What Would Warren Harding Do?
  • TNB: The Curse Of The Bandit
  • TNB: Reality Pro
  • TNB: Chris Sharma and The Art of Jeep Maintenance
  • TNB: American Dirtbag
  • TNB: How Not To Climb 5.12
  • TNB: Project FAIL
  • TNB: The Backwards Future of Climbing
  • TNB: The Death of Progress
  • TNB: The Da Vinci CO
  • TNB: The Philosopher King
  • TNB: Spam Alert
  • TNB: Bad Genes - The Different Types of Gumbies
  • TNB: Mouth Wide Shut
  • TNB: Outside Reality
  • TNB: The Day I Saved Jésus
  • TNB: My Pad, Your Problem
  • TNB: House Rules
  • TNB: Five Things I Don't Hate About Climbing
  • TNB: Metro-Pointing
  • TNB: Beast in the East
  • TNB: Artificial Intelligence
  • TNB: To Boldly Go Sprad Climbing
  • TNB: Self-Destruction
  • TNB: Soul Sport
  • TNB: Nine Pitches
  • Video Spotlight
    Northern Soul - Ice climbing in Québec
    Northern Soul - Ice climbing in Québec
    Whipper of the Month
    Weekend Whipper: Alastair McDowell's Los Indignados (M7) Screamer
    Weekend Whipper: Alastair McDowell's Los Indignados (M7) Screamer

    TNB: Muscle Shoals - Rock and Soul

    By Chris Parker

    Chris Parker recording at Nutthouse studios, Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Photo by Robert Rausch.There is a theory, which states that when Christopher Columbus sailed toward the Caribbean Islands, the Native Americans on the islands couldn’t see his ships approaching. This legend, popularized in the film “What the Bleep Do We Know,” postulates that humans are reality-creating beings … and when something exists beyond the scope of our known reality, it might as well not exist.

    I can relate. For example the first time my best friend Justin explained “bouldering” to me, I couldn’t grasp the concept. He had traveled to Colorado one summer, discovered climbing, and was back in the flatlands of the Mississippi Delta explaining that I had to sit on my ass, and pull myself off the ground with my fingertips and onto a house-size rock. I thought he was joking. For me—a kid who had never seen stones bigger than the gravel in the driveway—climbing, or whatever Justin was talking about, simply didn’t exist.

    But through a twisted turn of events, climbing and living in the Colorado mountains eventually became my reality. In fact, for the last 10 years, I haven’t really thought of doing anything else.

    Recently, I journeyed back to the South for the first time in a decade. Following the spinning laces of another one of life’s curve balls, I left Colorado for Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The “Shoals” as it’s known, are in northwest Alabama and three and a half hours from my hometown. Needless to say, it’s not known as a climbing destination. Muscle Shoals is a mecca for Southern soul music, and that’s what I was in search of.

    I spent the last two weeks making a record with Norbert Putnam, a Muscle Shoals native who cut his teeth as Elvis Presley’s bassist before producing Jimmy Buffett, Joan Baez, Dan Folgelberg and a 100 other records throughout the 1970s and 80s. I met Norbert when I was a 16-year-old punk with five original songs and a lot of bad habits. But Norbert dug the tunes and recorded me, encouraged me to read James Joyce and Somerset Maugham, and keep writing music. Although after I moved to Colorado I wound up writing mostly about climbing, I continued penning songs and that’s what brought Norbert and me back together last week.

    As I drove my rental car through the rural south, however, I couldn’t help but notice sandstone everywhere. Crossing the bridge over the Tennessee River—the source of the soul music—from Florence, Alabama, to Muscle Shoals, large bluffs of what looked like climbable rock girded the river.

    Parker, Norbert and Jimmy Nutt in the studio, Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Photo by Robert Rausch.One morning, to calm my nerves before recording, I decided I needed to go for a run. Google brought up a nearby, privately owned nature preserve called Cane Creek, so I drove through the hills of Tuscumbia—a small rural town next to Muscle Shoals—and found a dirt road marked with a small sign leading into the preserve.

    The landowner greeted me at the Cane Creek parking area, which was his front lawn, and handed me a trail map.

    “I think it might be a little too tough to run,” he said, smiling. He peered over the glasses riding on the edge of his nose, looking down at me from his vantage point of well-over 6 feet.

    “But we had a couple from Nepal who hiked the trails and told me, ‘flat land,’ so with you being from Colorado, you’ll be fine,” he added in a thick southern accent.

    He was partially right. The first trail I found wasn’t the best for running. It wound down steeply, with the sharp relief of a spiral staircase, into a southern forest of oak and pine. The patch ended at the preserve’s namesake creek fed by a cascading waterfall rolling off the top of a 80-foot bluff.

    I let my eyes adjust to the light, marveling at the falls, but as I looked around, rocks began to appear. Camouflaged by a canopy of moss and trees, sandstone boulders, some honeycombed with pockets, others cut clean with sharp arêtes, stood from the foliage like ships’ prows from a green ocean.

    The rest of that morning, I ran and walked through the forest, spotting well over 50 beautifully sculpted boulders. Some were so enticing I would bushwack to the base and grip the holds putting up imaginary first ascents.

    When I returned to my car, the landowner asked if I had a good time.

    “This place is gorgeous,” I said. “Have you ever heard of or seen anyone rock climbing out here?”

    He cracked a smile.

    “Well, there are a lot of rocks out there,” he said slowly. Then he added, “I imagine that if you can see it, you can probably climb it.”


    Visit Chris Parker's Facebook page to follow his music.

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