At Boundary there’s nothing we understand more than what it takes to create a passion project. Hard work and dedication are a must, but in the case of Bob Plumb’s community based project “Chasing Uncle Paul” it requires something extra: blood, sweat, and tears. It first began to take shape in 2016 as he rediscovered his love for climbing in Utah’s Uinta Mountain Range and through it, reconnected with his Uncle Paul.
Words by Emma Whitney & Bob Plumb:
Paul Moore, along with his friends Shane Willet and Mark Nakada, were pioneers of developing the area in the late 1990’s. Shane discovered the area, known as ‘Stone Garden’ while driving back from a job in Evanston, Wyoming. He saw the wall high up on the mountainside, so he pulled over the inspect the area; it was a goldmine! He rushed home and called Mark and Paul, to let them know the Uintas was their new home for the climbing season. Mark recalls seeing Stone Garden for the first time; “When I first saw the overhanging partial cave, I thought it looked like a big wave.” Over time, they ended up bolting over fifty routes on the rough quartzite wall. The routes are set along Mirror Lake Highway. September 2018 marks the 20th anniversary of Paul’s passing, which happened when he crashed his car driving down from the mountains he loved so much.
“I always remember that he was very charismatic, free spirited, and cool. You hung out with him and you felt cool.”
Bob re-hashes the origins of his Uncle Paul’s legacy: “Tommy Sutter took me up there for the first time to climb around Ruth Lake. We spent the day hanging out and having fun. The next day he sent me a photo from the Uinta rock guide book with the routes we had climbed. He asked if the routes we climbed were my uncles, there it was, at the bottom of the route description my uncles name; Paul Moore. This project wouldn’t exist without T-guns!”
It started as a desire to climb all the routes developed by his uncle, but evolved into the idea of a documentary. Bob shared the experience with friends, inviting others to climb in the area, asking that they document their time spent up there by posting pictures on instagram and using the hashtag #chasingunclepaul.
“Originally I was thinking the feeling behind it would be funny and light hearted, but the more time I spend up there and think about the stories behind the area I began thinking of it as a more serious style documentary with some light hearted aspects. It deserves a story being told.”
With routes named Tortured Screams, Cries of Impending Doom, and Ceremonial Execution it’s hard not to find the humor in it. It’s easy to picture three grown men alone in the wild woods, hands getting torn up by the rock, acting like kids and being as loud as they could. Listening to Bob talk about his time spent up there and what he’d like to accomplish, we began to feel invested in the project ourselves. Partially because it’s not just a project, it’s also a celebration of life, and of the life of Paul. That’s easy for us to want to be a part of.
“Random people enjoying the routes is what the project should be about, you know? It’s not about being the gnarliest climber on the planet. It’s about getting away from the city and enjoying your time up there. Having others get to enjoy my uncle’s routes…he’d just be so psyched on it.”
“With the routes there’s something for everyone. It’s nothing too serious, and that’s why it’s fun. It’s a good get-away; you forget about your worries for the moment and just enjoy the mountains, climbing, and nature.”
So what does the future hold for Chasing Uncle Paul? Bob is working hard to complete the documentary by fall 2019 and visiting the mountain as often as he can. Only one of the three men from the group of climbers is still alive, and Bob is hopeful that he’ll be able to spend time with him, share a few drinks, and pick his brain over all he and his uncle Paul accomplished in the mountains. In the meantime, we will be daydreaming about packing up and heading into the wilderness with our gear, a couple good beers, and Bob to chase Uncle Paul.