Saturday, June 21, 2014

Two Dayz


I was able to get out and climb two days in a row this week. Which is about two days more than I've been able to get out recently.

Geoff and I started out Tuesday morning with a trip to Guanella Pass where I was able to send Mind Matters and Darkhorse.

Mind Matters has broken twice in the past few years. The first break made it a lot easier, while the most recent break has restored the boulder to its original state. While the line has been traditionally called V12, I think V11 is a more realistic grade. If you were a seriously short person (like really short), I could see how it would be harder, but whatever. It isn't the prettiest line, but it climbs really well (this seems to be a trend in Colorado).

Darkhorse (V10) is a big steep arete, with a very manageable 90sec approach off the road. This problem is the opposite of Mind Matters in that it is a beautiful line, that doesn't climb as good as it looks. Geoff was really close to the send, falling off the last move twice!

After Darkhorse I worked on Double Dutchez, a short and powerful V12 crimp problem courtesy Dave Graham. I did all the moves and almost sent, but my fingers couldn't handle anymore brutalization. This boulder is WAY harder than Mind Matters and feels like spot on V12. This is the main reason I don't think Mind Matters is V12.

EDIT: I went back today (Wed. 6/25) and did Double Dutchez in 2 tries after switching my foot beta. It didn't feel that hard, but nothing does when you send. I still think it is solid for the grade.

Playing with some fun beta after sending Stinkbug

We rolled back to Golden, I went to the dentist, and then we headed straight for RMNP. After camping at Moraine Park we unnecessarily bushwhacked our way to the Stinkbug boulder. I flashed Finite Endeavors (V9), did Stinkbug (V10) in a few tries, and then Stinkbug Variation (V9) first try (not a flash because it shares the first 3 moves with Stinkbug). I worked Power of Ten (V12), but couldn't put the brutal first 3 moves together. I am psyched to come back with some cooler weather!

Geoff on Finite Endeavors

I can't wait to go bouldering again!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Bury Them Bones

I finally made it back to Gunnison to start mopping up the bouldering projects I left when I graduated a few years ago. First on the list was the Nameless Project at the Graveyard Boulders in Taylor Canyon. Caleb Justice and I had checked this line out when we first started developing the Graveyard, but it was too hard back then, so we wrote it off and set to work on the other surrounding blocs. 

Mike getting to work on the project

Two years ago Caleb, Ben Spannuth, and I gave the project another look and the moves finally started coming together. Caleb and Ben figured out some creative toe-hook beta and finally, all the moves were done. Yesterday, Mike Kelliher unlocked some crucial micro-beta at the last minute, and I was able to squeak out a send of the boulder. I named it Bury Them Bones and I think it is probably V11.


The gaston move

The problem starts on a nice flat rail, then powers straight into a hard high-heel gaston match. This sequence leads right into the crux move, a big toss with the right hand to an okay pinch on a slopey rail. After bumping further right to a sharp intricate sloper, the problem transitions from power to tension. Unique bicycle and toe-hook beta allows for a match on the rail and then a blind move around the arete. After turning the arete, an easy slab over a bad landing takes it to the top.

Sticking the crux toss

This is the second double digit addition to the Graveyard Boulders and there are more to be had. As long as you don't mind the river crossing!

I definitely want to give a shout-out again to Caleb, Mike, Ben, and all the others who helped this boulder go down!

Also... I got engaged to Chelsea on Saturday! Hooray!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Lull

     Like most things, climbing involves ups and downs. Last month I had a great trip to Joe’s Valley, and then a good session at RMNP where I sent Low Left Veritas (V12). Recently though I have been experiencing a lack of motivation. This normally happens to me when I start coming down off of a “peak” from my last training cycle. These lulls are just as much a part of my climbing as anything else, and how I treat these lulls has changed over the years. I used to just force myself to be psyched and kept pressing on. More often than not I would just end up getting injured somehow and I never really climbed that well. More recently however, I have learned to accept these lulls and take them as a message from my body that I need more rest and that maybe it is time to switch gears. While it is hard to accept, nobody can operate at their peak constantly. We all have peaks and lulls. The cool thing is that as our peaks get higher and higher, so do our lulls!

 I’ve added more rest days into my schedule and am shifting from mostly finger strength training to strength endurance training. Maybe I’ll even sport climb for a few weeks! Crazy! Of course, I’d rather keep bouldering hard, but I know that giving it a rest for a while will allow my psych to return and give my body time to heal before my next training cycle.

    Next time you start feeling weaker and unmotivated, instead of training harder, try resting a little more and switching up your routine. Your body probably needs it.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Joe's Valley Rampage


I just had the most successful bouldering trip of my life!

Final tally for 5 days of climbing:

- Slasher (V13)
- Black Lung (V13)
- Blackout (V13)
- Lonesome Animals (V11/12)
- Ghost of War (V11)
- Man From The Past (V11)
- Gentleman's Project (V11)
- Trent's Mom (V11)
- Finger Hut (V10)
- Renaissance  Man (V9 in the book, but probably just scary V7/8)

I went into this trip with the goal of sending Black Lung, a historic V13 by Ben Moon. I had done many of the classic boulders at Joe's so I was planning on buckling down and working Black Lung into submission, even if it took the whole trip.

I showed up on Saturday and it was a little hot, so I wasn't really planning on trying anything hard. However, about 30min into warming up on some easy boulders, I was feeling strangely light. A light breeze picked up, the rock felt tacky and I figured I'd go try to figure out at least the first two moves on Black Lung. When I showed up to the boulder there was a German guy (who's name I forget) absolutely crushing the first two moves, but falling on the third. I was pretty intimidated considering 2yrs ago I had never even been able to stick the first move and I had never climbed a boulder this hard. I thought back to my most recent trip to Rocktown where I was so focused on sending Golden Harvest that I stopped having fun, stopped climbing well, and almost didn't send. I decided to just let it go, have fun, and play.

The first time I pulled on I did the first move easily (which blew my mind and started to boost my confidence). A couple more tries and I figured out the second move. All of a sudden I had done the first 3 moves in a row, all that remained was an easy move to a jug and an easy top out. Unfortunately I hadn't expected to get that far and didn't scope where the jug was, I got flustered and fell. I laughed it off, ticked the jug and then sent.

Black Lung send footage:

Blackout send footage:

Sending Black Lung

After sending my project for the trip in the first hour, I was psyched to push as hard as I could and see what would happen. What ensued was a rediculous string of climbing days where the only thing I tried more than 5-10 times was Slasher, and the only thing I tried and didn't send was Masterpiece.

Amazing movement on Masterpiece

The boulder that took the most effort was Slasher. Such a cool problem! Only 3 moves, but all revolving around this crazy right hand block. After the first session I almost didn't come back because I felt like I was going to explode the pulleys in my right hand. I was lured back in for a second session though and my hand started to get more used to the grip position, but I still couldn't stick the second move. I went back on my last day to give it a last ditch effort.

Ben working the crazy right hand grip on Slasher

I split one of my tips but the psyche was still high. While waiting to give it another go a giant golden eagle flew through the canyon so close to us that I could look it right in the eye. With some crazy spirit animal power I pulled on and stuck the second move, but fell going for the lip. Next try though, I hit the second hold even better, fired for the lip, held a crazy, 3 points off, full horizontal swing with 3 fingers, topped out, and lost my mind.

Amazing rock on Slasher

Working the jump move during session number 2

We ran over to Trent's Mom to finish off the trip with another classic and then headed back to Colorado.

Morals of the story: Training works. Don't be too serious. Have fun. Try hard.

I can't wait to climb more boulders!

Lots of foam for tall/scary/committing top out of Masterpiece. I'll be back for that one!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Quick Trip to Rocktown

After feeling a little down for a few weeks I made a trip to Georgia with my good friends and coworkers from back in Maryland. I got on a plane early on Thursday the 20th and by 2am the next day I was sleeping on the floor of Ward's van outside of Rocktown. It was a whirlwind trip to say the least.

We climbed all day every day for four days straight. Every time we tried to take a rest day, we ended up climbing a ton of boulder problems. It is hard to hold back when every boulder you look at is amazing. We climbed tons of classic boulders of all grades, heights, and styles. The rock in the south is unparalleled, offering some of the sickest features and holds in the country.

The highlight of the trip for me was that everyone sent the boulder they were projecting. Ward epic-ed on The Orb (V8), climbing into the last 4 moves multiple times over 3 days, and then sent on the second to last day. Jordan crushed Burst of Joy (V8) after multiple bouts of falling off the last tenuous deadpoint. Charlie and I sent Golden Harvest (V10) on our second day of tries after exploring about a million different ways to NOT send the boulder. Overall, an AMAZING trip.

The process of sending Golden Harvest was a roller coaster for me. I kept changing my beta and kept getting more an more frustrated. I was convinced I was "too tall" for this certain crux foothold and I kept trying what turned out to be bad beta over and over. All I wanted to do was just send the boulder... That turned out to be the wrong mindset. I took a long break while Ward and Jordan headed back to Burst of Joy (thats when Jordan ended up sending). It was just Charlie and I at the boulder. I put my shoes back on and decided that if I wasn't going to send the boulder I should at least enjoy it. That change in my mindset opened me up again to the "too high" foot beta that Charlie used to send about an hour before. After deciding to use the right foot beta and deciding to just enjoy the awesomeness of the boulder and the environment around me, I sent on the second try, and it felt easy.

I feel like I keep learning this lesson over and over: Just have fun, enjoy it, and you'll perform better.

A big shout out to Ward Byrum, Charlie Garcia, and Jordan Forney. Thanks for the awesome trip!

Check out this link for a video of some of our sends, including Ward on The Orb, Jordan on Burst of Joy, and Charlie and I on Golden Harvest.


Sunday, January 26, 2014


We had an awesome crew out in Boulder Canyon yesterday. We spent the day at Castle Rock on some cool boulders. Most of the time was spent falling off of the dyno problem Cage Free (V11). If you know me, you know one of my biggest weaknesses is dynos. That makes me want to do it even more. It's been 2 sessions now and I can get my hand on the lip, but haven't been able to stick it yet. Nemesis project! SOOOOON!

Close isn't good enough on Cage Free [Photo P. Danko]

Then Kerrek and I checked out this line called Things Done Changed (V12). While it isn't much to look at, the movement and holds are amazing and I am super psyched on it. I did all the moves quickly, but the crimps are really sharp so I'll have to grow some skin back and try it again on Thursday if the weather holds out. New project!

Bearing down on Things Done Changed [Photo P. Danko]

Lastly, we checked out Koyananisquatsi and the low start Powaqquatsi. I sent Koy 3rd try with some great beta from Phillip London, then chilled for about 2 minutes and sent Pow first try. The given grades on these starts are V11 and V12 respectively, though Phil and I thought the high start was more like V10. The low start adds a short V5 boulder into the high start, which is certainly not V12, but could maybe be V11. The rock was good though and the moves were fun, so it is definitely a worthy boulder regardless of the grade.

Anyway, I am excited to get out and boulder more. I love having so many rocks close by.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Weekend Update 1/19/14

I went bouldering this weekend! Hooray!

I love bouldering.

On Saturday Keith and I went to the Poudre Canyon to climb on the Against Humanity boulder. Poudre is AMAZING. The rock is very high quality and climbs very well. We both flashed the classic V7, Against Humanity. I was able to also send Crime (V9) and Dump Truck (V10). Both Crime and Dump Truck end with a brutal undercling match and subsequent huck around a corner to an okay hold. I struggled super hard on this section for both climbs. I don't know if it is my biceps or body positioning (I'm pretty sure it is the latter), but dang, powerful underclings are not my jam. Definitely something I am going to be working on now.

Keith Dickey working through the undercling crux on Crime (V9)

Today I went over to The Darkside in Morrison for the first time with Kyle, his new wife Sierra, and my buddy Mike. We started off at Rupture, an awesome V6/7 with a scary landing. I flashed it and both Kyle and Mike made ascents. Then Mike and I wasted some time climbing a terrible, lame, and awkward 1-move V6 problem that is certainly a "first ascent" because no one in their right mind would ever think to climb something so lowball and nonsensical. We then headed over to the main objective. The sit start to the Arrowhead Arete (V10). The Arrowhead Arete is probably the best line in Morrison. It is tall and aesthetic, the rock is high quality, the top-out is technical and committing, every move is consistently hard on cool holds, and the landing is nice. I was able to send fairly quickly, though I had to do a lot of beta tweaking in order to have enough gas at the end to handle the lip encounter. Mike got some great footage of the send, which you can see HERE.