Friday, May 25

May 2018

Mid December of last year was more or less when 2018 kind of started for me. Each year I try to force a week to ten days of rest from climbing to let my body relax and also to reset my mental energy for the coming season. I ate delicious food at my parents house. I went on long hikes in Boulder's beautiful backyard with Zeke. I sat in the sauna. I read. I started an account. I was kinda bored.

By all means 2017 was massive for me. I essentially did no training at all, but spent months and months of time on the road and on the rock which was exactly what I needed slot zeus gacor. Any residual sense of burnout from '16 was long behind me once I committed to traveling and exploring. I put faith in the work I'd done years before and tried for an intimidating goal of climbing ten routes 14d or harder, which, proudly, I succeeded at.

I had laid some kind of foundation but for 2018 I really wanted to improve. Ideally that improvement would result in climbing 9b, but honestly more than anything I just wanted to feel like I was making progress. When you've spent years fine tuning your training and inching towards your personal best, massive breakthroughs become less and less realistic. You start to aim for the smallest increments to motivate you.

During my downtime in December I started building a plan. I sat down with the incredibly knowledgable Will Anglin of Tension Climbing and kicked ideas back and forth. I met with my friend and the one who really showed me the light originally; Mark Anderson, co-author of the Rock Prodigy Method. We met in Golden and joked about training and progress. I had several lengthy phone calls with Steve Bechtel from Climb Strong and his training ethos really spoke to me. I built a training program and schedule together with Steve that, aside from a few tweaks and some changes on the fly, I would stick to for the following several months.

I would have about a month for the first 'trimester' of the program. I absolutely love training. I love how much I can escape the world when I'm plugged into music and focused on the next hang or the next boulder problem. I think I might put an even greater level of mental intensity into hitting my training goals than I do climbing outside. But, all of this motivation would never exist for me if there was not a clear objective. I need something on the horizon to help me push through a particularly gnarly session and to give purpose to the monotony and torture of training.

In late January I went to Austin, Texas to see a new place, meet new people and climb at a fresh crag. I thoroughly enjoyed the two week trip, and importantly, it provided a reprieve from the weeks spent in the gym. I felt a bit run down throughout the trip, but I was happy to climb a handful of incredible, hard routes in the Austin area. The climbing there is physical and demanding - more like long boulder problems than sport routes idn poker online. During the early months my training was focused specifically on power, so this area was a perfect compliment. I obsessed over their tacos and met a group of very supportive and stoked climbers in this Texas mecca.

When I returned I buried myself again in the climbing gym. Throughout these cycles I largely decreased my usual focus on finger strength, and used that extra shoulder energy for dynamic movement and heavy strength exercises. 'Jumbo Love' was my ultimate goal, and I knew that finger strength would definitely not be an issue after trying the route in 2016. For me, the difficulties on Jumbo Love are primarily defined my movement, not hold size. The route is very reachy throughout. I can't add length to my body but I can try to make larger moves feel easier - and that was my aim.

After the second 'trimester' was completed I made Joe Kinder's amazing 'Bone Tomahawk' my stepping stone. This route is bouldery, very steep and physical. The holds are generally good idn slot asia. The clips are hard and the movement is hard. Aside from its length (it's really around 40-50 feet of climbing), it would be a perfect test for my training. I did the second ascent of the route but the send was quite a bit harder than I had imagined. For sure some of my time invested was reacquainting myself with climbing outside, but still it felt hard. I also climbed 'Re-Up' some days afterward, which was super motivating because I had tried that link up some years ago and it felt kinda rugged.

I began the third cycle in my training with a few days of pumpy climbing in the Cathedral intermixed. I had planned on a number of training sessions through April but at this point I could feel that things were starting to come together. I felt snappy from the training but my stamina was beginning to extend beyond 10 or 20 moves. I combined boulder problems to make 35 move giants in the climbing gym.

When the weather looked warm enough for me to start trying I cut the cycle off early and started the mission to Clark Mountain. If I've learned anything over the last four years of training it's that everything must be done by feel. Learn what your body needs and when - never be afraid to substitute or lengthen a session. Learn the difference between training stress and pain from injury. It's stated so often that it seems cliche but, listen to your body.

I campaigned at Clark for roughly a month. I think I had around 11 days in total on the route this season but the process to sending really felt like it started with my obsessive planning back in December. Hopefully there is a lesson hiding somewhere in this summation of my process that speaks to you, and maybe it's just what you needed to start planning (...or not!) for your next big mission.

Wednesday, November 22

Ten Routes

Back to the States a few days ago.. 

Many of the same places but always a new experience... The past month we were settled into an awesome little apartment in Cornudella de Montsant. For those that don't know, this is a rad little town just a ten minute drive from Siurana, ten minutes from Montsant and forty minutes from Margalef. With a legit gear shop, several cool cafes and restaurants, countless traveling climbers, this is unquestionably one of the major hubs for sport climbing in Catalunya. You won't necessarily be greeted in English here but the shop owners and bartenders are known for being accommodating and stoked on the climbing community. 

For me this past trip was not as singularly focused as some of my trips in the past. I mostly prepared by climbing outside and supplemented with a little strength training just about a week before departure. My aim was to have a crack at a few Siurana classics I had skipped over before, and if time allowed to jump around to a few other cliffs. Furthermore my aim was to support my girlfriend Shaina on her mission to climb 5.13. She had been preparing for this trip for months, born from a lofty goal to climb 5.13 this year after having just done her first 5.12 in February (!!!). 

The first week we arrived was quite hot and crowds were something of an issue, but as the days passed the temps gradually lowered until we exchanged tank tops for down jackets and even found ourselves suffering from cold in the shade. Altogether the weather cooperated damn near as well as one could ask for. I skipped one day of climbing because of crippling arctic wind, but otherwise our 2 days on, one day off schedule persisted throughout. 

In addition to delicious olives, countless Estrellas, brilliant sunsets and even a beach day, we both finished the trip contempt with our climbing. Shaina proudly climbed her first 5.13, 'L'escarmala' - a Siurana classic requiring huge dynamic movement, finger power and technical footwork alike. She did a second 13a just a week after. 

I completed a major objective for 2017, to climb 10 routes 14d or harder, with sends of the resistance test piece 'La Reina Mora' and the ultra bouldery '20 Anos Despues'. I remember a few years ago reading an interview with the incredible Japanese climber Sachi Amma, when he mentioned that it was a goal of his to climb 10 grade 9 (14d or harder) routes in a year and distinctly remembering that seeming so beyond possible (for me - I believe Sachi eventually succeeded). Early this year I did the first repeat of 'Bachelor Party' 9a and shortly after had the best climbing of my life, finishing 'Pachamama' 9a+/b, 'Joe Mama' 9a+ and 'Chaxi' 9a+ in a couple weeks. From here I reflected on that interview with Sachi and planned to just go to the death climbing outside and pursuing 9a for the rest of 2017. I was never quite sure it would come together (both logistically and also physically) but it did a few weeks ago. After climbing '20 anos' I was pretty blown out. A long year of grinding, projecting, traveling, living in my truck and flying across the globe. In between the 9a's I also climbed 50 5.14s. I was pretty smoked. I took the level down in Spain after that, doing some utterly amazing pitches like 'Pal Este' 14b, 'Toni Kaneloni' 13c and 'Los Ultimos Vampiros Hippies' 14b among others - like some not nearly as amazing, but hard non-the-less routes like 'Directa Jabali' 14b, 'Leche Caliente' 14a and 'Afrodita' 14b/c. 

At this point I've got one more nemesis route in the Boulder area to hopefully finish off and then I will be taking some time to rest, chill and prepare for 2018's goals during December. I'm so proud of my climbing this year - especially because I took a giant step back from training and focused on being outside and with my friends and dog - and it worked (to my surprise to be honest). Now I want to try and get a fresh start, diving back into systematic training as I pursue the next objective. But first, some Pumpkin Pie. 

Saturday, October 7

Summer '

It's been a busy summer, a freaking rad summer, but damn I can't tell you how happy I am to say that it's over. As I'm sure most of you in the Northern Hemisphere would agree (especially in the American West) I am ready for the fall... ready for cold nights and down jackets and bringing thermos to the crag. I'm ready for a cool breeze and bright red leaves. It seems October is more or less the new September but whatever it is, I am stoked it's here and it seems it brought at least a little autumn with it.

I added a slew of photographs below to take you through my summer, with a little explanation here and there. I hope everyone is enjoying this change in weather, finally!

Ten Sleep: Shaina and I stopped through Ten Sleep for a few days on our way to the Lander ICF. Just enough time to belay my Dad on his hardest send to date, at age 67. I wrote about his climbing life and the experience of his send on the Arcteryx Blog here: 

It was incredible to be a part of this send, and to see him push his own limits, after over 40 years of climbing. Shaina totally fell in love with the climbing here as I expected she might. I'm sure we will be back over the years. It's grown immensely in popularity since I first visited in 2008, but for good reason. Reminds me so much of Siurana at times. It was great to revisit, even though I kind of got my ass kicked. 

After some Ten Sleep action we went up to join the ICF in Lander. This is one of my absolute favorite climbing events, and the longest running event of its kind in the US. I climbed BJ Tilden's epic link up on the Rodeo Wave called 'Mutation' 14d. This hybrid route (two ropes required and actually some brief bouldering in the middle) rides various cruxes for over 80 moves to make a seemingly enormous route out of the ultra short wall. It combines 'Genetic Drifter' 14c with the boulder problem 'Ground from Upside Down' V7 and then a nasty hard section of V8 to eventually finish with 'Single Cell' 13b. In some ways this route was conceived out of BJ's boredom but it was actually quite meaningful to me as I know it was to him. Lander and the Iris will always hold a special place in my heart, from my years of climbing and enjoying the area. I can't wait to go back.. there are still a couple random things I need to polish off! 

I found my summer home in Estes Park for a good chunk of August. The number of tourists has gotten somewhat out of hand over the last several summers but still the beauty of Chaos and the incredible quality of the problems there lures me in. My power was a little slow to come back but I did do a few hard ones like 'Memoirs of an Invisible Climber' V11/12, 'Steve Zissou' V11 (a horrendously hard one for a short climber I thought!), 'The Wheel Direct' V13/14, 'Daytripper' V13, 'Storm Shadow Sit' V12 and 'Whispers of Wisdom' V10 (for me this may have been the hardest of all) among others. It was kind of an ass kicking as Bouldering seems to be always for me, but I'm proud I finished a few things off and as always I absolutely loved my time in the alpine. I left a few things undone, but thankfully I am always looking for a great summer hang and Estes just keeps providing. I wrote about my experience out there and my recommendation to route climbers to switch it up and go bouldering on the La Sportiva Blog here:

I tried my luck on a mega project in the Fins, but the late summer heat was too much for me to handle. Tara Kehrzner was there shooting some video, and I did do all of the moves with some promising links, but this route is so incredibly hard that I really need everything to line up for me and I could tell that with temps in the upper 70s at the cliff it would not be this year. I moved on to Rifle to climb on bigger holds. I climbed 'Lungfish' 14b after several days of kind of intense effort. In total it was the most I've tried any route in Rifle, ever. Something about the slick rock, the nature of the climbing and the conditions (plus it's just hard as hell!) combined to put up quite the fight. It's always hard to release the ego in times like this but I feel so strongly that we have to follow through even if it hurts (inside). Clipping the chains was memorable, especially after I punted above the crux from a foot slip. I also did 'Skull Fuck' 13c after a pretty humbling fight. The most I have tried a 13c in recent memory. It's neighbor 'Cracked Open Sky' 13d felt wildly easier, as did several of the new ones like 'Never Enough' 14a and 'Uncertainty Principle' 14a. I got some much needed beta from my good friend Pawel on 'Gropius' 13d/14a for my hardest flash in Rifle, which I was particularly stoked on. I also climbing 'Colinator' 14a and 'Kuru' 14c among some others. It was rad to be back in the Canyon and with such a great crew. Thanks to Sam and Matt, Dan and Colette and everyone out there for such good time both climbing and otherwise. 

After a super fun weekend in Smith Rock for the AAC Craggin Classic, full of some soloing, some sport routes, a great clinic and some multi pitching with my good buddy Sam Elias, I was ready for the main objective. I planned to finally have a look at the Pop Tire Crag in Western Utah, just on the Border of Nevada. Silver Island, or Wendover Cave as it is also referred to, is an exceptional little zone. Far away from the world, on a remote island of rock in an otherwise desolate and flat landscape, just on the edge of the awe inspiring Bonneville Salt Flats. The camping and the hang there is as good (or perhaps better) that the actual climbing. 

I climbed a lot of great pitches out here. The climbed is mostly stamina based, and the routes are middle height for the most part, between 60 and 100 feet. I'm proud of my time and effort there. I did 'Apex Predator' 14c, 'Drakken' 14b, '40 feet of Grease' 14b and 'Sodom and Gomorrah' 14c all in two tries, although the bizarre and awesome King Line (S and G) was a absolute battle. Thankfully Alton Richardson got that somewhat hilarious fight, and some others, on video for an upcoming Maxim Ropes / Climbing Magazine release. I also did the one-mover 'Old Man High Pants' 14c and grabbed a last day flash on 'Terrordome' 14a which I had been saving. In the middle there I spent two days trying James' Litz 'Peruvian Necktie' 14d/15a. It did not entirely capture my stoke, with uncomfortable holds and awkward movement, but I must say a huge congrats to James on the send - it is certainly one of the hardest routes in the country. Maybe I will find the time to revisit it in the future, but for this first trip I was pretty fired up to sample and get pumped - the joy of exploring a good new-to-me cliff with this much difficulty is something that I rarely get to do in the US anymore. With a trip back to Catalunya on the horizon I saw this as an awesome opportunity to get prepared. I also climbed 'AWOL' 13c, 'Crosstown Traffic' 13c/d, 'Hey Joe' 13b and a few more onsight. In the end I think I at least touched nearly every square foot of climbing in the cave. My overall favorite was probably 'Smoother' 12c. I can't say enough about how rad it was to have Leif there to show me the place, and huge thanks to Alton also for hanging out and grabbing these rad shots. Apparently this cliff used to be popular but I barely saw anyone the whole time I was there. 

One last thing! I did a very lengthy and in-depth interview with Ignacio Sandoval Buron, on the WUGU climbing website:
 it is in Spanish but I think a translation site should do you the favor if needed. Big thank you to those guys and Ignacio, it was fun to dive in a little deeper than usual.