Early Bouldering in the Riverside Area
by  Phil Gleason

To the best of my memory bouldering in the Riverside area (namely Big Rock and Mt. Rubidoux) started to become "bouldering" and not just practice, warm-ups for "real climbing" with Lee Harrell.  Lee had climbed with John Harlin in the Alps and Chuck Pratt in the Valley, and he was our mentor into the world of "serious" climbing.  We (Paul Gleason, Keith Leaman, and I) would follow Lee around the largely unvisited rocks of Big Rock while he showed us one problem after another.  Lee's home was also a focal point for young men interested in climbing, and it was through him we met Phil Haney, Jack Schnur and several local climbers.

Certainly other mountaineers and rock climbers had visited these areas first.  The Sierra Club used these rocks for training, as did both the military and the Riverside Mountain Rescue team.  But as far as we could tell, no other group worked the boulders like we did.  Forming a tight little support group we would try and try a boulder problem until one (and then usually the rest of us) would be successful.

Through Lee Harrell we heard about John Gill and the amazing problems he climbed.  Both Paul Gleason and Phil Haney went to Colorado to climb with Gill (although I can't remember who went first).  They both came back with astounding stories and brought a new level of inspiration to the local scene.  Paul in particular had a new attitude about bouldering, a higher level of commitment.  He also had seen the power of the dynamic move and the value of physical training.  At this time Paul was working at Highland Outfitters in Riverside and would boulder at Rubidoux almost every day before work.  It was during this time that Paul met Rob Muir, another amazing climber.  Paul then met, climbed with and inspired John Long, Richard Harrison, and Rick Accomazzo.  The rest is well-known history. Rubidoux developed into a very well known, destination bouldering area; Big Rock was altered (many of the boulders destroyed) to construct a dam and a man-made lake.