Jan 31, 2010

Under The Radar

Winter's death grip has finally broke. I have been getting outside more and training less (Remember - The goal is to keep the goal the goal). Its still a little chilly to dangle on a rope but its okay to pebble wrestle. I've been climbing at a semi-secret (and really good) area. I'm not letting the cat out of the bag so I'm under the radar for a little while.

Jan 27, 2010

Disciples of Gill : A Review

It was with short notice on a cold, windy evening in classroom that Disciples of Gill was screened, not the best timing or venue for a climbing film. Pat Ament warmed-up and welcomed the audience with his anecdote about meeting John Gill for the first time, worth the price of admission alone. He is natural story teller which translates to the film.

The film blends several story lines together, effortlessly and with love. The images speak for themselves without the tyranny of narration. Rock climbing, at one level, is merely moving over stone. Pat Ament captures that element perfectly. Even though the film focuses on specific climbers at a specific points in time, it becomes transcendent during the course of the film. Elements of modern dance are undeniable. Gill was ahead of his time both quantitatively, harder grades, and qualitatively, focus on bouldering and dynamic movement. There is something missing in stories and still images. It can only be captured through "Video Evidence."

I'm a disciple of John Gill, exploring natural terrain and human movement. But I'm also a disciple of Royal Robins, intensely competitive and with a desire to test myself, and a disciple of Pat Ament, a combination of precision and artistry. Despite the hype surrounding European climbing culture, I'm still American climber at my core. This film captures some of my roots.

There is a plethora of free videos that motivate me to climb. This film motivates me to be a climber.

Jan 26, 2010

You Can Make Him Like You

Training: 1) Hoover Feet, 15 minutes

2) Dyno Practice, 10 minutes

3) Open Hand, Medium Edge (1-arm w/assistance)
7s, 7s, 10s

4) 1/2 Crimp, Small Rung (1-arm w/assistance)
7s, 7s, 12s+

5) Full Crimp, Small Rung (1-arm w/assistance)
7s, 7s, 10s

6) 1-arm pull-ups
7 singles with each arm

7) Foot Fly Aways (supersetted with prehab)

8) More Prehab & Abs

Proper Hangboarding

Notes: 2nd day on - Trying to productively trash myself. I forgot my stopwatch so I couldn't do Rhythm Intervals, my subconscious works in funny ways. I hit PRs on all grips types, time to increase load. #6 - I wanted to see how many 1-arms I could do in a session. They got easier, greasing-the-groove, and then they got hard.

"The Disciples of Gill" Screening, Jan 27th in Fort Collins

"The Disciples of Gill"
a film by Pat Ament

Wednesday, January 27th, 7pm
Colorado State University, Clark A-wing Building, Room 103

I'm syked about this film, a review.
The screening is 10ft from my office!

Jan 25, 2010

Training Under the Sword of Damocles

Warm-up: 1) Flash, Easy Problems, 20 minutes

2) Mobility Drills

Training: 1) Flash, Hard Problems, 30 minutes

2) Work, Harder Problems, 90 minutes

Notes: Back to the basics, just bouldering. A good volume. with a focus on harder problems.

Jan 23, 2010

Nominative Determinism

Training: 1) Foot Hoover Drill, 15 minutes

2) Dyno Practice, 15 minutes

3) 6 rounds
Flash V6
rest 1:00

4) 2 rounds
Redpoint 11c
rest 30s
Redpoint 11c
rest 5:00

Notes: Trying to get better at dynos to up my outside climbing game (weird). I was pressed for time so I compressed the workout by incorporating the stopwatch. It added a nice mental component. I had to preview during the 1:00 minute rest block, while trying to recover. Things got hard real fast. I was sweaty and beat at the end.

Jan 22, 2010

The Hatchery & The Bog, Pre-Season Tune-up

Problems Sent:

Hatchery Boulder

#1, V3, Flash (rad, i was all up in the tree)

#2, V5, Flash (best problem of the day, more mellow than it looks)

#3, V1, Flash (not awkward, just press)

#4, V3, Flash (good warm-up)

#5, V3, Flash (from the stand, hard/horrible from the sit)

Bog Boulder

Warmup I, V2, Flash (snow mantle)

Mr Smackmag, V5, Flash, (total bastardization by crimping the slopers and gill start, would be v7 if done proper)

Unknown, V4/5, Flash (between Beachside Face and Slopey Thrutch, head high crimps move right and mantle, the rest was loose, dirty, and scary)

Simple, V6, 3rd go (would've flash but had wet cold shoes - NEGATIVE, pretty good, not great)

Total Points: 32.5 points, good day considering the amount of snow and cold

Problems Tried: Iron Helix, v6, 1 try (i numbed off on the last move, then got the screaming barflies - NEGATIVE)

Remember - Climbing is suppose to be fun.

This ascent was fun, expect for the last couple of moves.

Notes: My first pilgrimage to upper Poudre Canyon. I was blown away by the amount of rock. (I put myself on restriction, only guidebook problems. However, I did scout some potential sport climbing.) There was some amazing problems on quality rock.

I feel that I can flash most V6s, other than today's high suck factor. I'm building a base towards higher flashs. From my experience, you can pick a grade to redpoint but flash/onsight grades need to be built up. I need to climb outside more so I can more productively apply my strength, a good position to be in. I did notice that I was hesitant on dynamic problems. I don't know if it was a lack of a spotter or a self-limiting belief.

Overall, pretty good for a 1/3 day, early in the season. The spring season looks promising, just waiting for the snow to melt and warmer temps.

Jan 20, 2010

"Maintaining a Balance" Really Means Maintaining Mediocrity

Warm-up 1) Momentum Drills, 10 minutes

2) Hoover Foot Drills, 15 minutes

3) Mobility Drills

Training: 1) Open Hand, Hangboard, Medium Edge (1-arm w/assistance)
rest 1:00 between sets

2) Open Hand, Hangboard, Flat Sloper
3 sets of switches

3) 1/2 Crimp, Small Campus Rung (1-arm w/assistance)
rest 1:00 between sets

4) Full Crimp, Small Campus Rung (1-arm w/assistance)
rest 1:00 between sets

5) Pull-ups, 1-Arm
Dynamic Effort

6) Foot Fly Aways

7) Rhythm Intervals, 3 rounds
Level 2, 2, 2

8) Prehab

Foot Fly Aways

Notes: There was only 1 new problem to flash (I crushed it). I substituted some basic drills to warm-up. My open hand strength feels subjective stronger. I started to fade by the time full crimp came around so I cut it short. #5 is more sport specific than front levers. Increasing volume only on Rhythm Intervals. I was shredding during the last one.

I'm taking another cue from Westside by switching up my training. Doing hangs on the campusboard and campusing on the system board. Where they use a variety of bars, I use a variety of climbing apparatus.

Jan 18, 2010

The Pearl is an Oyster's Autobiography

Training: 1) Campus, Ladders, Medium Rungs

2) Campus, Double Medium Rungs

3) Perfect Climbing, Repeat Problems, Adv & Open

It was something like this:

Notes: I felt like I could've hit #1 a couple of days ago but today's outside bouldering took it out of me. Where are my priorities? The doubles went well, I tried to keep things snappy. I could have pushed it more but I'm training to be fast. I repeated problems until I started to fade a little bit. The whole session was under 1 hour.

The River Blocs of Poudre Canyon

Winter's death grip has finally loosen on the Front Range. I enjoyed MLK day by cleaning up the SRR boulders. I started on the lower boulder. What it lacks in height and steepness, it makes up with in rock quality. It sits right on a river and has been caressed by the water to perfection.

South Side of the Lower Boulder
Middle Line, V5 - Sds to perfect slopey edges

East Side of the Lower Boulder
Far Left Line, V5 - Sds on far left arete (better view in pix above)
Far Right Line, V2 - Stand start follow crack

West Side of the Lower Boulder
Middle Line, V1 - Stand start on blocky protrusion
Far Right Line, V1 - Stand start, stay on left side arete, contrived
Traverse, V0 - Traverse the lip, either way, contrived but best warm-up

I moved a little farther upstream to a river block I had my eye on for a long time, waiting for the snow to melt.

Far Right Line, V5 - Sds, big moves between okay holds, great line
Middle Line, V3 - Stand start to mantle

There are a couple of lines to the left, but there were still too wet to try. I spent time on the sds to the middle line. It is hard, the scarce holds face the wrong directions coupled with bad feet. If I wanted a super project, this is a contender.

Amazing Stick & Amazing Rock

Spring is right around the corner. The rivers will rise, temporarily blocking access to the rocks. Maybe permanently altering the problems. I'm thankful for this window of opportunity.

Jan 16, 2010

Getting There is 1/100th of the Fun

Training: 1) Flash, All New Problems, 20 minutes

2) Open Hand, Hangboard
Medium Edge, 1-arm with assistance

3) 1/2 Crimp, Systemboard
#1+2lbs, Pull Through

4) Pull-up, 1-arm
Left +8 lbs (fail), Right +5 lbs (fail)

5) Rhythm Intervals, 2 rounds
Level 2, Level 2.5

6) Various core & prehab

Notes: Outside is the d'oeuvre for the entree of training. Back to the usual, i.e. flashing everything. Stepping it up on #2 & #3. I can hang the medium edge on the Metolius Simulator 1-armed (w/o assistance) for a short bit. I add assistance, grabbing a light band with my other hand, to extend the time to ~7s. 2lbs is not much but still progress. I tried for a PR on 1-arm pull-ups. I only got halfway there.

Back to power endurance training. It sucks.
Rhythm Intervals (5 rounds!! I just puked a little in my mouth) are the best thing I have found for Short Duration Power Endurance. I feel good, physically strong and mentally tough.

HGT Boulders, "VOs don't usually start with a drop-knee"

Alex's first trundle (supposedly)

Alex joined me at the HGT Boulders. It was fun playing a sandbagging guide. Hence the "VOs don't usually start with a drop-knee" quote. While we were fooling around, I sent a rad compression sit down start, about V3, to the Black Line. I linked all the moves from the stand to the lip on the "easy project", about V6. It blanks out at the lip, around 12 ft, before 15 ft of "victory slab." It is not the hardest line but engaging and proud. Alex did a bit of housekeeping by cleaning up a conventional descent. In the past, it was faster and easier to use a fixed rope. The crag is looking downright civilized.

Jan 15, 2010

Wanna Be Gunslinger, Trying the Todd Skinner Workout

Date: 11/14/10
Location: The Spot Bouldering Gym, Boulder, CO
Training: Power Oriented Bouldering

Date: 11/15/10
Location: Movement Climbing + Fitness, Boulder, CO
Training: Endurance Oriented Routes

Notes: I'm floating in the ether, programming wise. I've made a solid short run at linear strength gains. I need to switch gears to prepare for the spring sport climbing season. I decided to try the Todd Skinner Workout during this transition period. I'm a sucker for trying different workouts. I scaled down the first day by skipping the dips and finger rolls. I did large volume of 11s and 12s on the second day, until I "hit the wall."

The hardest part of the program is a lack of facilities (it is hard to complain compared to Todd Skinner's time). The Spot doesn't have power orientated bouldering. I only did the first 5-10 moves (out of 15-20 complete moves). Movement was great for having lots of hard "trainers", consistent power endurance routes. I could follow this program in Boulder but I usually don't spend time in Boulder. I just happened to be there for work. I give the workout one of the biggest compliments I can- I felt productively trashed.

Jan 13, 2010

The Sessions, #4, Another Good Day in the Lab.

It has been a little while since my last Session because life got in the way. It was great to be back at it.

I practice the concept of “make the warm-up a workout”. It is excellent time to practice perfect climbing. It takes me about 20 minutes to warm-up. Multiplying that by 3-4 times a week, it adds up to hours of technique work in a year. In addition, it makes the warm-up more engaging. It is not merely something to endure but requires my complete presence. Lately I have been using it as opportunity for fall practice (Dave McLeod’s suggestion). I don’t mind falling, but I’m still a little freaked out taking intention falls.

While my fear of falling is manageable, I have debilitating fearing of “blowing a clip.” About 5 years ago, I decked after I blew a clip (my belayer was an idiot). I wasn’t seriously hurt but shaken to my core. I was pushing myself hard during today’s training and blew a clip. It wasn’t that not bad, all that happened is I took a medium size fall. I got back on the route and still cranked hard. I don’t want to practice “blowing a clip” but I’m glad I got a chance to recondition myself.

I hate sucking. I’m sucking hard at Sessions. Most of the training is Medium Length Power Endurance, PE. I’m training Short Length PE at a maintenance level and not training the other time domains. There are tangible mental improvements for pursuing this training, but none of my current goals have a significant PE component. My ego wants to include a PE to my training so I’m better prepared for Session, training for training. Overall, it feeling a lot like Oly training. For every 3 steps forward, there is 1 step backward. I’m getting better at the certain aspects but not 100% consistent.

I can’t rave enough about Movement routesetting. I have been a route setter for 5 years (mildly obsessed with sequences), and they still fool me. Even if I onsight a route successfully, I want to come back to a route because there is more to learn. That might one of the best compliments I can give to a routesetter’s route.

There are downsides. Midweek evenings are a zoo, making optimal training not possible. There was a queue for most climbs. There was idle speculation that Boulder couldn’t support 4 gyms. That is not true. It is hard to describe the omnipresent climbing culture in the Front Range. For my lifestyle, there is no better place in America.

Jan 11, 2010

Yoga Butt

Training: 1) Flash, New Problems, 20 minutes

2) Campus, Ladders, Large Rungs

3) Campus, Ladders, Medium Rungs

4) Flash, New Problems, 30 minutes

5) Open Hand, Hangboard
Flat Sloper, Switches

6) 1/2 Crimp, Systemboard
#1, Pull Through

7) Full Crimp *

Notes: I was looking forward to campusing, but my body thought otherwise. During the warm up set, the inside of my right elbow started to hurt. I was feeling very strong so I ignored it. I realized I was being an idiot and went back to bouldering. I think the injury's root is from getting gripped during a sketchy top-out early in the day. It felt better as the session went on.

I did 2x the number of laps on #6 than my usual. For the full crimp, I hung 1-arm on the smallest campus rung (with one finger on the other hand on the lowest rung for assistance). Ran out of time for assistance work and prehab.

SRR Boulders, I Wasn't Looking For More Projects (REALLY)

I had the best intentions of repeating problems in an established area today. My plan is to oscillate between more established and less established areas. But I got sandbagged by 3'' of snow on the top of the boulder (There was 2'' of dirt under the snow. NEGATIVE!!). Some of the problems were contrived. I couldn't find the holds on the other problems. My syke dropped to nil. This place is so bad I'm not even going to mention its name. I starting looking for problems in my style, steep with actual holds.

This is what I found:

Short problems with a punch.
On the right, I climbed the line that follows the crack. RAD.
On the left, I ripped a giant crimp plate off, fell on my crashed, and started tobogganing upside-down head-first down a snow slope. NOT RAD.

This is one of the best boulders I have ever seen.

Close-up of the steep wall behind the "prow"
Am I strong enough?

Jan 10, 2010

HGT Boulders, Operation Warm-up Complete

Another gorgeous winter day. Lucky enough to get out and climb with a shirt off. Cleaned up and sent some lines. I work on the "easy project" on the backside. The full line will be hard.

Black, V1 - possible harder sds
Red, V2 - start on LH pinch & RH Crimp, follow triangle holds up
Green, V1- start on obvious jug to less obvious jugs

Visitors to the Boulder

Small Trundle

Bonus: Maintenance Bouldering, 1 hour (~30 moves outside is not enough climbing for me)

Jan 9, 2010

Flagstaff, C0, Not As Bad As I Had Heard

Problems Sent: Monkey Traverse, V4, Flash (felt easy, didn't get pumped)
Crystal Corner, V7, Redpoint (sds, 1 long session, I'm taking all the points)

Notes: I made my first trip to Flagstaff. I have been avoiding the place because of the rumors of sharpish pebbbly rock, eliminates, and a day fee. The rock is not that bad, less pebbly than Crater Lake. There are eliminates, not everything. I avoided the day fee by hitching a ride with a Boulder County resident.

It was interesting scene, everyone from grandparents to screaming babies. I ran into a couple of people I hadn't seen in years. Climbing is still a small tribe. It was nice climbing in the sun without a shirt.

Onto the sends. It was still very snowy and/or wet, limiting the problems to about 4 (with no warm-ups). I failed on some piles to warm-up. Then got down to business on Crystal Corner/Gill Swing. I'm super confused about the rules/grades for this cluster pile, mutiple guidebooks and 20+ locals did not help. I climbed something that started on obvious sit start to undercling to fat pinch to a crystal (somewhere there was a kneebar). It felt like a soft V7. Monkey Traverse is okay. Lots of beginners on it (not a good beginner climb).

Saturday Syke Video

Spring Season is Coming
Are You Ready?

Jan 7, 2010


Training: 1) Work Hard Problems, 30 minutes

2) Open Hand, System Board
Upper Left, Pull Through

3) 1/2 Crimp, System Board
#1, Pull Through

4) Open Hand, Hangboard
Flat Slopers, Switches

5) Pull-ups, 1-arm (w/assistance)

6) Front Lever, Straddle

Notes: Other life stressors reduced performance during this session, but I still got to the gym. I had to work the new problems, instead of my usual flashing. I found a movement weakness during this session and the last time outdoors. Traverses around outside corners. I don't have the proper schema. That will be an interesting one to train.

The rest of the session was basic climbing strength training. I can't wait for my homewall so I get more scientific with my training. I'm not great at 1-arms, simple exposure should improve my ability.

Jan 6, 2010

If you don't have it, Don't hit it

Training: 1) Flash, All Hard Routes, 30 minutes

2) Campus, Ladders, Large Rungs

3) Campus, Throws, Small Rungs
1-4-1 x 3
1-4-1 x 3

4) Perfect Climbing, Adv & Open Problems, 20 minutes

Angle of the Dangle

Notes: I have just enough power endurance for gym climbing. Once I leave CO, aka Hoth, I will have a rude awakening. I felt really strong and it showed with 2 training PRs. I was building towards 1-4-7 for a couple of months. I didn't want to hit it unless I had it. 1-4-1 x 3 was a rep PR, but a PR none the less. Keeping expectations high while raising intensity.

Jan 4, 2010

Semper Ubi Sub Ubi

Training: 1) Flash, All New Problems

2) Open Hand, System Board,
Upper Left, Pull Through

rest 1 hour (work meeting)

3) Flash, Routes, about 6

4) 1/2 Crimp, System Board
#1, Pull Through

5) Full Crimp, System Board
#0, Pull Through

Still Winter

Notes: Focused on relaxing and climbing well, not just getting to the top, during the flashes. The strength numbers are the same as previous sessions, but I'm increasing the volume (per session and number of sessions). I modulate either volume or intensity but not both. That minimizes the chance of overtraining. In addition, you won't know what is working or not working.

Jan 3, 2010


Training: 1) Maintenance, Roped, 2 hours

2) Threshold Bouldering, 20 minutes

3) Open Hand, 1-arm hang, Large Sloper Rungs

4) Pull-up, 1-arm

Post Holiday Massacre

Notes: Winter retightened its grip on the Front Range, forcing me back inside. Maintenance climbing is what typical climbers do. It is medium intensity with medium length rests while climbing routes/problems that are interesting, i.e. play to your strengths. I usually avoid this type of climbing indoors because you don't improve doing it. However, it is fun.

Threshold Bouldering was interesting because I had Alex "set" problems for me. Good to get outside of my comfort zone. It was 3:1 ratio of weaknesses to strengths, in both movement and grip type. Basic climbing strength training to finish the day.

Jan 1, 2010

I Brake For Tailgaters

Training: 1) Campus, Doubles, Large Rungs
1-5 (fail)
1-5 (fail)

2) Campus, Doubles, Medium Rungs
1-4 (fail)
1-4 (fail)

3) Campus, Ladder, Large Rungs

1) Campus, Doubles, Large Rungs

Notes: Outside was a good warm-up for campusing. Still can't hit 1-5 double. A nice PR on 1-4, double, medium rungs. Building capacity, #3 & #4.

Horsetooth, Piano Boulders, Happy New Year

Location: Horsetooth Reservoir, Piano Boulders

Problems Sent:
North Arete(Unknown Roof), V1, Flash (cool)
North Arete(Bootie Slab), V1, Flash
Bootie, V1, Flash
Roof Crack, V2, Flash (steepness)
Unknown (#5, Piano Boulder), V2, Flash (1 move wonder)
Unknown (#3, Piano Boulder), V3, Flash (soft, crimps)
Unknown (#4, Piano Boulder), V3, Flash (hard, slopes)
Sloper Traverse (aka Baby Grand), V5, Flash (felt easy)
Piano Traverse, V5, Flash (felt hard, climbed ugly)

Thanks Access Fund
I'm a member. Are you?

Notes: Rad winter day. I flashed everything in the area, thanks to the new NOCO Climbing Guide.

Goals for 2010

I’m publicly announcing my 2010 goals, a key step for success. I made a quick look at my ability to accomplish my goals for 2009. I did okay, even though 2009 took a different turn than I expected. One thing I didn’t count on was getting bite by the developing bug. Another pleasant surprise is that I learned more about training for climbing during the last year than during the previous 6 years combined. Most of the learning took place through this blog. Additionally the books I have read, Espresso Lessons & 9 out of 10 climbers make the same mistakes (reviews in preparation). The invaluable conversations I have had with Rob Shaul, Timy Fairfield, Steve Bechtel, and Justin Sjong. Each one of them a guru of training for climbing in their own way. I’m planning some modest improvements for the blog, primarily a physical manifestation of The Climbing Lab.

Here is the official list:

- Travel. Visit 10 new (to me) climbing areas. That goal is attainable in one month on the Front Range.

- Finish Projects. I have a long list of unfinished projects that I have bolted. I want to finish them so other people can enjoy them.

- Attempt Over-My-Head Projects. The new NOCO Poudre Canyon Routes just came out. I want to attempt, not necessarily send, all 8 of the projects listed. (I have already redpointed one of the projects listed. More on that soon.)

- Develop More. I bolted and redpointed 10 climbs in 2009. I want to bolt (and redpoint) 15 new climbs in 2010.

- Redpoint Something I'm proud of. My goal for 2009 was to complete a redpoint pyramid, 10 redpoints. I redpointed 1 climb, Imaginary Fans in Sinks Canyon to the 3rd anchor. I’m dialing that goal way back. I want to redpoint one rad climb and don’t care what the grade is.

- Body Composition. I’m slowing transforming my body from CrossFit/Olympic Weightlifting optimal to climbing optimal. The primarily method has been through nutrition. I follow a paleo diet, super geeky paleo podcast. The secondary method is refraining from non-climbing training (hard for me). I’m not syked on the relatively subjective nature of this goal.

- Campus 1-5-8. That is the most I can do with the campusboard I have readily available. Currently, I can do 1-4-7 and 1-5-6. I’m steadily improving (without injury).

Bonus – I haven’t decided on a birthday challenge yet. I need to decide soon so I get an 8 month training run towards the goal. The current contenders are 31lb 1-arm pull-up (maybe 1 finger), 31 1-arm pull-ups, and a clapping handstand push-up. Suggestions are always welcome.