Mar 30, 2010

Lincphin by Seth Godin, A Review - Part II

Using the model that Seth Godin outlines in Linchpin, I will tackle some current issues in climbing.

Climbing Media

Every month I flip through a couple climbing magazines (I don't have a subscription any more). Their page count is less and less every month. Even the photo issues, which should be the benchmark issue, is a thin volume. Magazines are being replaced with online media. Seth sees a similar pattern in conventional newspapers. He wonders what business are newspapers in. Are newspapers in the business of publishing on actual paper or in the business of serving the community, regardless of medium? Once you answer that question, you can decide which direction to go. If magazines are married to the physical medium then create content that is engaging only in that medium, long narratives and big glossy photos. If they are in the business of serving the climbing community then move in the direction the community is moving. Climbing magazines are trudging along with same type of content for far too long. I don't want to read about sends that happened 3 months ago. I would like to see a photospread from someplace I might actually go. Many years ago, magazines would print mini-guides for developing areas. That is acting like a linchpin by supporting the community. Currently, they are playing it safe and losing.

The fall of climbing magazines can be contrasted with the rise of climbing films. Professional climbing films are doing better than ever, even in the face of a free internet video avalanche. Why are these two different platforms fairing so differently in the current landscape? The answer could be linchpins. When I think climbing films, I think Big Up Productions, Chuck Fryberger, and Uncle Somebody. They are acting like linchpins. Each one of them is pushing the envelope in a different way. Each new production is better than the previous one. On the other hand, magazines are losing their linchpins, e.g. Matt Sament leaving Climbing Magazine.

Climbing Industry

Most of the climbing industry focuses on selling widgets, e.g. cams, carabiners, and shoes. This is in contrast to other sport industries like skateboarding, snowboarding, and surfing. They sell an image or a lifestyle. Climbing industry sells “blend-in clothes.” How many shades of dirt-brown and grass-green do I need in my wardrobe? I think the climbing lifestyle is just as engaging as a skateboarding/snowboarding/surfing lifestyle. Climbing takes place in beautiful natural environment with elements of danger. That is an easy sell. I don't see why approach shoes can't be as popular as skateshoes.

Climbing Grades

There are grading linchpins, e.g. Dave Graham, Daniel Woods, and Nalle Hukkataival. They are artists either by sending new problems or proposing new grades. They take risks and run against The Resistance. Seth talks mostly about The Resistance being an internal force. It can also be external, people who are dominated by their lizard's brain. In this case, anonymous trolls that have never sent (or even touched) the climb in question.

Climbing Gyms

There is a continuing rise in indoor climbing gyms. In the not so recent past, each town had one climbing gym (maybe two). Boulder, CO now has four. Climbing gyms could get by with being dirty, have poor customer service, and greasy, mistaped routes. That won't work in the future. People will seek out the gym with the best routes, the most routes, or the most knowledge staff. Merely being present is no longer a sufficient business model.


Paralleling the rise in indoor climbing, there is a rise in the importance of routesetting. There is no routesetting manual. There can't be one. To be a linchpin setter, each route has to be different. That is the opposite of what a manual does – make everything the same. Setting a ladder, i.e. left, right, left, right..., is factory work.


CrossFit is based on a factory model. The mainsite or an affiliate makes the workout you consume. Everyone gets approximately the same thing, regardless of history or goals. They don't even offer the tools to accomplish your personal goals. For example, they don't have a long-term programming seminar, like Mountain Athlete's Seminar. CrossFit's model keeps you dependent and quiet. People are shot down quickly and vehemently if they ask the wrong questions. Other people are ostracized because they deviate from the party line too much. CrossFit is designed to make people average at everything. Seth argues that the world doesn't reward being average at everything.


I would unequivocally recommend Linchpin to anyone. It is challenging but assessable. It is a manual for a new world. A new world you can create in your own life.

Mar 29, 2010

Lincphin by Seth Godin, A Review - Part I

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, Seth Godin's latest book, changed my worldview and entertained me while it happened. I have to share it.

What does this book have to do with climbing? It is not latest guidebook or crank harder manual. It is a book about philosophy and motivation. It is a way to approach the current changes in the world. There is no doubt the climbing world is changing, e.g. rise in absolute numbers, the role of climbing gyms, and the Internet. What does that mean for sport that places importance on history and lifestyle? Seth Godin has insights that can help make sense of what is happening. First, I will outline Seth Godin's argument. Then show how it applies to climbing.

Seth lays out how the “factory model” worldview is now outdated. In recent history, there was industrialism of the workplace. Society moved from farmers and artisans towards factory work. Factory work can be making widgets, e.g. cars, computers, or carabiners. It can also be providing a service, e.g. plumbing, accounting, or a climbing gym. Factory work depends on people showing up and following orders. It is relatively easy and secure work. However, there is always someone that will do it faster and cheaper. With the advent of the internet, it is easier to find faster and cheaper. He argues in order to thrive in the modern workplace people and businesses have to be linchpins. What is a linchpin? Literally, a linchpin is a fastener that prevents a wheel from coming off an axle. It is inexpensive, but critical if you want to go anywhere. Metaphorically, it is a person or businesses that matter and get things done.

What prevents people and businesses from becoming linchpins? Fear. Seth Godin's calls it the “lizard brain.” It is the prehistoric part of our brain that wants to be comfortable. It only cares about safety, food, and sex. He contrasts that with the “Daemon.” It is the phylogenetically newer part of our brain that is creative and solves problems. He argues these two parts of us are frequently at odds. The lizard brain prevents us from "shipping", completing projects, by listing excuses. He calls those lists of excuses "The Resistance." The resistance prevents ideas from becoming reality. Sometimes it even prevents ideas. It is the “Shadow” of T.S. Eliot's Hollow Men. Schools and most jobs encourage the lizard brain, but in order to be successful now, we need to quiet the lizard brain.

Part II will discuss how this book is useful as a paradigm for the current state of climbing.

Mar 21, 2010

New Climbing Wall at Colorado State University

Colorado State University's new climbing wall is opening this week.
They are kicking it off with "Rock the Rec!"events from March 22-26.

The wall in progress:

Mar 19, 2010

A Scheduled Rest Period

I take planned, extended breaks from climbing, which keeps me syked and injury free.

This week happens to be one.

Mar 14, 2010

Roadtrip Questions

Lately, I have spent quite a bit of time driving. The wide open spaces got my mind going. These questions were bouncing around in my head.

Is a first ascent for the first ascentist or the community?

Who decides where a line goes?

Does better beta include different start holds?

How many starts can a line have?

Why does the climbing community accept the grade of a first ascent before its repeated?

Why doesn't climbing companies put clauses in their contacts that require community service, i.e. developing areas, for their pro climbers?

Do you have answers?

Do you have questions?

Mar 13, 2010

Saturday Syke Video

Always Classic

Poudre Canyon, The Blog

Fresh Tracks by Car

Fresh Tracks by Foot

Signs of Spring

Problems Sent:
Shoeless trippin' in the Poudre, V9/10, Redpoint (less than hour, rad kneebar, fun climbing)
Sparkle, V8, Flash (Could be my 1st V8 flash, the tale of the tape and time will tell)
Green Monster, V7, Flash (WOW!!!)
Shambo Overhang, V6, Redpoint (cool dynamic beta, dirty topout)
?, V6, Redpoint (boulder next to Simple, interesting movement)
Arete #19, V5, Flash (good)
Orange Arete, V4, 2nd go (dry fired on flash, shirt off on ice = rad)

Total Points: 45.5

Problems Tried: Iron Helix, 3 tries (pre-psyching myself out about the snowy topout)

Notes: After yesterday's epics, I was happy to climb anything. I surprised myself by flashing another V7, flashing my 1st V8, and putting down a 9/10 with quickness. I feel that I'm still in the process of translating my training to outside climbing.

Mar 12, 2010

New Feature - Poudre Canyon Conditions

I wanted to go climbing today. It didn't happen. Instead, I spent most of today postholing around and looking at wet rock. I'm sharing my knowledge so you can avoid similar days.

Click on the tab "Poudre Canyon Conditions"
near the top of page before heading out next time.

Mar 11, 2010

The Best Free Training Advice Ever

I just found this jewel on the interweb -

"Dear God! There is some really bad advice in this thread.

I might as well add to it:

Why don't you just enjoy climbing for another couple years. You have your whole life to systematically, slowly, and painfully, but certainly suck out every golden drop of innocent joy that the sport ever offered you....

Get back to me when you find yourself camped out at the base of some shitty road-cut chosspile throwing F-bomb infused woblers every time your foot pops off that polished, over-chalked smear at the crux of your super-sick new linkup/eliminate of "Warmup Problem" and "Center Problem Direct" (the good crimper is off) with a downclimb of "Middle-Left-Right-Left-Down Problem".

I mean, get back to me when you hate climbing."

Mar 8, 2010

Poudre Canyon, 420s


Tree Tumors & Circadian Rhythm

Scuba Steve
One of New My All Time Favorites

Lame Tickmark

Problems Sent:
Stickman Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, V8, 4 tries (guide stays technical, i say TRY HARD)
Rasta Font Trainer, V7, Flash (my first V7 flash!!!)
Scuba Steve, V7, 3rd try (first try with right sequence, really fun)
Scarface, V6, Flash (my stylee, felt easy)
Short Chubby Demon, V6, Flash (the fun way)
Johnny & Hodgey, V5, Flash (contrived, you could climb on the left, on the right, or gill start)
Mr. Harry, V4, 2nd go (i freaked myself out by previewing the top out, not that bad)
Moderate, V4, Flash (Balance Boulder)
The Mace, V3, Flash (good dirty stuff)
Southwest Arete, V3, Flash (not the best rock)
South Face, V3, Flash (warm-up boulder, the sidepull is brilliant)
Angle Dangle, V3, Flash (went right, quality)
Unnamed Moderate, V3, Flash (Hank's Boulder, didn't get impaled!!!)
Warm Me, V3, Flash (really really good)
Moderate on Left Face, V2, Flash (The Mace Boulder, down flash)
Middle Up, V2, Flash (can I climb anything without my feet cutting?)

Total Points: 69 (50 Flash)

Problems Tried:
Tsunami Traverse, V8, 2 tries (at the end of the day - stupid, poor movement)
Puffing Stone, V5, 3 tries (couldn't figure out a method that didn't involve dabbing, LAME)
Hank's Arete, V5, 1 try (wet)
Sloper Jumpstart, V1, 3 tries (Hank's Boulder, Hard, WTF?)

Notes: I was very syked to get out after being cooped up at work. I head up the 420s for the first time. It was a blustery day, perfect for cranking on the rad, featured granite. This was my best day ever, as far as putting problems in the snatch. I knocked off my 1st V7 flash!! A V8 flash is coming, once I build a bigger base at that grade. I'm contemplating a 100 point flash day. Spring is here and time to use the training.

Mar 7, 2010

Mar 4, 2010

Boulder Canyon, Pre-Work Work-Out

Location: Boulder Canyon, Nip & Tuck Crag

Routes Sent: Doc's Route, 7, Onsight (felt like Sierra 4th class)
Arete, 10b, Onsight (fun arete, contrived mess at the top)

Routes Tried: Antagonism, 12a/b, 1 hang (onsighted to upper crux, no chalk = fall, "foot deadpoint" = send beta)

Do Work Before Work

Boulder Canyon Rock

Notes: Someone flipped the Spring switch, its time to climb outside all the time. Alex and I got a little pre-work work-out in Boulder Canyon. I suck at placing micronuts so I bouldered/soloed up to the high first bolt on Doc's Route. One of the those bold routes that is more for the first ascentists than the community. The arete was fun but a contrived mess. The bolts follow the right side of the arete, not the natural line of holds.

Antagonism is rad, engaging, less-than-vertical granite climbing, good trainer for Where's the Beef? in Poudre Canyon. The top had no chalk, most people escape left or right before the actual 12 climbing. I didn't want to ruin the onsight experience with too much information, but I soothed my ego after with a Mountain Project discussion about Antagonism's ability to be onsighted.

Mar 3, 2010

Morrison/Evergreen, Not That Bad/Actually Good

Location: Morrison

Problems Sent: ZERO (Right up there with Owl Tor and Indian Creek)

Problems Tried: Cytpogrinder, V8, all the moves (couldn't get syked for the link, flesh eating epoxy)
CMJD, V8, all the moves (couldn't get syked for the link, no spotters/1 pad)
Pop Goes the Weasel, V9 (couldn't get established on the start underclings, but did the rest of the problem)

Location: Evergreen

Problems Sent: 2 V0s (pretty good)

Problem Tried: Zero (Everything was wet)

Quintessential Urban Bouldering

"Hidden Fawn Trail" delivers on its name

The nice, but wet, rock of Evergreen

Notes: I had work in Denver so I used the opportunity to check out the famous, or infamous, Morrison scene. I warmed-up on some traverse where I couldn't tell whether I was dabbing or on "approved" footholds. I quickly moved to the Black Hole, where a couple of locals showed me some problems. It was in the direct sun and in the mid 50s which made the chipped, greasy holds feel horrible. The all time low was when a piece of epoxy (WTF?) dug a hole in my finger. Like I have said in the past, "If you are going to chip a climb, at least make it fun." Someone should bust out the Dremel and make the climb more enjoyable. The upside to the trip is it pointed out a glaring weakness - underclings. I don't understand undercling movement outside.

I quickly changed venues and went to Three Sister's Park in Evergreen. It was much more my speed, more deer than cars. I was only able to find a couple of the boulders, thanks to Bob Horan's travesty of a guidebook. What I saw was good, scatter granite blocs in peaceful forest. The rock leads itself to crimping and hard top outs, fun and engaging. It is still under too much snow to get on anything of significance, but I will be back later in the spring.

Mar 2, 2010

The Sessions #5, Abusing My Strength

The Sessions have a definitive positive effect on my climbing. I'm climbing harder but more importantly I'm enjoying climbing more. "Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable." Justen shares so many important nuggets during the training. I remember 2, push with my legs when I'm tired and ... Damn! I forgot another one.

I'm at home on vertical climbing, especially toproping. I fall apart on continuously steep climbing, especially when leading. The roots are mental limiters that range from slightly draining to debilitating. At least now, I have a plan of attack.

I abuse my strength. If things aren't going my way, I make sure they do. Once my strength to gives out, I lose confidence. I need to learn to trust my technically skills and save the power for when I need it.

I was by beat the end, physically and mentally. A good day of climbing. A good day of training.