Dec 18, 2013

First Ascents on Martini Bar Boulder at Mammoth Bar near Auburn, CA

Mammoth Bar is a fine area with plenty of potential for new hard bouldering and moderate sport routes.

Check out for more information.

Dec 13, 2013

Recommended: Voodoo Band

You are already stretching and foam rolling (right?). But like all things, your body will adapt and you will enter the land of diminishing returns. Enter Voodoo Band flossing:

After training hard for a couple decades, I've picked up my fair share of injuries and scar tissue.  For example, I have an old meniscus tear from mountain biking that flairs up during long approaches and a current elbow tweak from a lock-off move on a project. Voodoo Band flossing helps maintain the fascia and my supple leopard status.

You can pick up a pair from Rogue Fitness.
 (The dirtbag option is cutting a bicycle inner tube in half.)

Mobility is underrated in climbing. Almost every time someone falls of the top of route they blame their fitness (or even worse, their strength). I rarely hear someone blame their inability to put their body in the right position in space. Lack of mobility is amplified in outdoor climbing, with the increased subtleties of real rock and when often sending comes down to the ability to maximally use rest positions. 

 Extreme mobility is one of Adam Ondra's many attributes that separates him from other climbers

Dec 3, 2013

Bouldering at Auburn Cliffs, CA

Between new routing at Auburn Cliffs, I checked out the bouldering.

There is a very hard line between the lines shown above.

UPDATE: Check out the page. I'm continuing my mission to share my climbing experience with the world. Remember  - More climbing is better!

Nov 29, 2013

Christmas coming early

New equipment for The Climbing Lab

1. Lose weight
2. Increase mobility
3. Increase finger strength

Nov 16, 2013

Saturday Syke

The parallels between Malham Cove and Owl Tor are clear and plentiful.

There are places on Earth that are special. They are playgrounds for a self-selected few to "rise above."

Nov 9, 2013

Pulling a (minor) Caldwell

I broke Rule #1, aka Don't Get Injured. I won't be climbing tomorrow.

I'll be training tomorrow.

Oct 4, 2013

Old, Heavy, & Employed

Those are my excuses.

I still plan to send.

UPDATE: I did. I sent my hardest sport climb to date (also happens to be the best and most fun climb I have climbed to date).

Sep 16, 2013

A clinic on how to kneebar

I practice the dark art of kneebarring. It is difficult to train kneebarring in the gym. Intentional kneebars are often too easy. Unintentional knees are often present but superfluous.

The new generation of kneepads make it more accessible.

They won't make you strong but you will send.

Sep 10, 2013

My biggest training mistakes

Failing to stop doing the thing that caused a chronic injury. Applies to all chronic injuries.

Getting caught in a Monkey Paw Trap (i.e., not letting go of something small to gain a bigger goal). My biggest issue is being too performance-oriented in the gym when my goal is to crank at the cliff. Failing to take complete breaks from climbing and training are also examples.

Not periodizing appropriately. Training cycles that were too short to see gains (typically strength) or too long, leading to in an decrease in performance (typically power endurance). Remember - A novice climber program looks very different from an advanced climber program.

Not realizing what my true climbing limiters are and designing my training to address them. For example, my fear of falling on a rope limits my ability to send and enjoy climbing. I should spend more time practicing falling than hang dogging.

Not drinking more coffee.

Sep 4, 2013

A clinic on how to flash boulders

Sending boulder problems 1st go is a hard (but rewarding) discipline, requiring a combination of strength, technique, and a specific mental disposition.

I know plenty of "strong" climbers who climb nowhere near their limit on their 1st go. They tend to climb too statically with not enough faith in their climbing.

Pro Tip: Learn to let go and trust.

Aug 30, 2013

Wisdom from 2 masters

Expert level performance is hallmarked by a lack of conscious awareness but the development of performance is hallmarked by deliberate, therefore conscious, awareness. That is one of the reasons why the best athletes make the subpar coaches.

The ability to name (e.g., "monkey's tail" and "the softball throw") helps with cognitive load of learning. The language of climbing movement is woefully underdeveloped, given climbing is 4-dimensional on constantly varying terrain using the entire body. Typical climbing conversions focus on static representations of hand holds (e.g., "grab the sidepull"). That is a primary reason I am drawn to video as a better representation of a climbing.

Aug 20, 2013

Longs Boulder #1 of Truckee, CA - Beyond the guidebook

This is ain't John Long's boulders. This is Longs Drugstore's boulders. Buy yourself some meth precursors and head out to the woods behind the store to enjoy some chossy granite.

None of these climbs are listed in Bouldering Lake Tahoe North/West Shore Edition. They will be posted to soon.

N 39 19.153
W 120 12.925

Aug 14, 2013

Comparing top-level climbing movement

(Pro tip: Turn off the sound.)

I am obsessed with climbing movement, especially relative climbing movement. This video allows for direct comparison between 2 top sport climbers. Notice the difference in pacing and micro-adjustments on hand holds.

Update: Also look at the difference in flexibility and how that effects body position and movement.

Aug 5, 2013

"His training was beyond good and evil."

This might be the raddest video ever made.
(I'm off to look for someone to yell at me in German while I train.)

Jul 27, 2013

Summit Lake, CA

I spent 2 days around Summit Lake, CA. It was an amazing "alpine lite" experience. Granite boulders at altitude, chased with cocktails at a cabin.

I cleaned up and sent many problems, even one listed as a project in the new guidebook. If you are interesting checking them out, head over to

Jul 17, 2013

A couple of problems from North Lake Tahoe, CA

Following my bliss of cleaning rocks and sharing them with the world. 
Details can be be found

Jun 1, 2013

A clear & concise approach to training for climbing periodization

There are many ways to approach training for climbing. Each one works (for about 6 weeks). However if you are looking for long-term, consistent gains, you need a plan of action that matches that goal.

Systematic, structured climbing that oscillates with the seasons is the best plan I have found.

May 28, 2013

Bouldering near Potomac Overlook parking at Sugarloaf Mountain, MD

Selected problems near Potomac Overlook parking at Sugarloaf Mountain, Maryland

It is a pleasant area with ~8 problems (all moderates). The guide is coming soon but don’t wait for it. Enjoy now!

Potomac Overlook parking on Sugarloaf Mountain, Maryland

Walk ~500ft through the woods shadowing the road in the direction of car travel.

N 36 15.562
W 77 23.696

May 20, 2013

Summer training video jam

   This video should be on loop at every training facility.

Apr 22, 2013

Another classic from Great Falls National Park, MD

This is one of my favorite problems in The Park.

You can find it here:
N 38 58.929
W 77 14.420

Apr 8, 2013

Checkout the guide to High Ridge Park, MD

It is over at MD Guides.

I have enjoyed climbing there:

I hope many others enjoy the climbing there, too!

Apr 4, 2013

Sugarloaf Mountain, MD bouldering

I have been busy killin' lichen, takin' photos, and drawin' topos.

Guide coming soon ...

Mar 12, 2013

It's The Season: Get Some!

I went to Sugarloaf Mountain, Maryland looking for potential projects and managed a free ascent of the Spiderman Route (aka The Prow), graded A5. A quick Internet search turned up the route has been free climbed before, and the free climbing version is uncreatively called Mikl's Route.

It is classic bouldering on a rope.

If climbing is lifting weights in the woods, this route is a Clean & Jerk.

Mar 10, 2013

A Mini-guide to Great Falls National Park: "Dam Boulder"

I am proud to present my latest guide: A Guide to the "Dam Boulder" of Great Falls National Park (Maryland Side). You can pick up a copy here.

Preface: Climbing in the National Parks of the United States of America is a sublime privilege. Great Falls National Park, both sides of the river, is no exception. Great Falls National Park is a sanctuary of natural beauty and outdoor recreation playground just outside of Washington D. C. metro area. Kayakers and roped climbers have known this for decades. Boulders are late coming to the Great Falls party. This guide is an effort to proselytize the "small amazing things" of the park.

Needless to say, the rock quality of Great Fall National Park varies. Closer to the Potomac River is generally better. The "Dam Boulder" (my nickname) is close enough to the Potomac River to yield a mighty fine climbing opportunity. The rock is highly textured but without the over-abundance of features, typical of Mid-Atlantic climbing. Enjoy! (Remember to treat the area with the respect a National Park deserves.)

Approach: Park in the parking lot across from the Old Angler's Inn in Potomac, MD (N 38 58.911 W 77 13.653). From the parking lot, walk right/upstream on the Tow Path to where the canal widens, becoming lake-like. Before crossing a bridge, turn left onto a well-established path. Follow this path for ~50 yards. Then turn right onto another well-established path. The boulders (N 38 58.986 W 77 14.275) are located to the left immediately after walking across on old dam, hence the nickname. You can see a Tow Path bridge from the boulder.

Jan 29, 2013


YMMV is shorthand to express the breadth of the human experience.

I propose YGMV - "Your Grading May Vary." Grades, a poor proxy for difficulty, change based on weather, beta, personal strengths, and size of pre-climb meals.

Let's acknowledge that YGMV and move onto more interesting problems (figuratively & literally).