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.

Sunday, January 12, 2014


Yesterday I went to Horsetooth Reservoir with my girlfriend and some of our friends from work. We warmed up with some of the classics on the Mental Block. I did Pinch Overhang for the first time and it was sweet! Such a cool mantle. Anyway… I was psyched to do the sit start to the Moon Arete. The stand start is a classic V10 and the sit was done a few years ago at V12. The first thing I did was repeat the stand to make sure I had the beta right so I wouldn't fall there from the sit. Then I got to work re-familiarizing myself with the sit-start moves. The first 3 moves revolve around tensioning a sharp right toe-hook while pressing into a smear-foot and powering through some cool edges. The 5th move is the crux which requires me to cut my feet for a split second while compressing two poor holds that are narrower than shoulder width, resetting the left foot and powering to the arete and bumping into the start holds of the V10 stand start. I spent HOURS falling on the crux 5th move. Even in isolation. I just couldn't do it. I'd either explode off the left hand (punching myself quite hard), hit the arete and buckle under the force, or I'd lose the foothold mid move and end up on my back. First I blamed my weakness on narrow compression, then I blamed my finger strength, then I blamed my height, then I blamed my skin. Then I took a break, came back, shifted my right hand 1/4in to the left, and did the move EASILY.

Last move on the Moon Arete (stand) V10

I sat down and climbed all the way into the last hard move of the stand. By then I was definitely too tired to actually send. If I hadn't spent all that time and energy making excuses and blindly throwing myself at the boulder for hours, I would have sent it.

Moral of the story:

- Don't waste your time making excuses. It doesn't help you and no one wants to hear you whine.
- Take a break and come back to your project with a fresh mind.
- Sometimes a fraction of an inch makes the impossible, possible.

I'll go back next weekend and send :)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

When is a Weekend a Day?

… When that weekend is super freakin' cold.

Propane heater, Honey Wafers, and my Outdoor Research down jacket.
A rough day for bouldering

Caleb and I left for Joe's Valley on Thursday psyched for a long weekend of bouldering. We knew it was supposed to be cold, but bouldering with a high in the upper 30's wasn't too daunting. We generally pride ourselves in being able to climb in the cold.  We arrived on Thursday with just enough light to get a 45min. session in. We both sent a few warm-ups and I sent a crimpy V9 called "Hooters".

We started Friday back at Hooters, where I tried to do the sit-start, Mass Hysteria (V11). I got close, but figured I had two more days, so I would just come back later…WRONG! But I didn't know that yet. Despite starting off by not-sending, the rest of the day turned out to be one of the better bouldering days I've ever had. In an afternoon I was able to send: Frosted Flakes (V5), Pilot Light (V6), Tubesnake Boogy (V9), The Incredible Hulk (V9), Fiery Furnace (V10), Jitterbug Perfume (V10 2nd try), and Skidmark (V11).

Caleb got some footage of most of the ascents. You can see that HERE because I can't figure out how to embed a Vimeo video on the blog.

The next day it got REALLY cold and it had snowed overnight. I didn't have a thermometer, but the windchill made it feel like 20's. It was impossible to get the fingers warmed up and the wind kept blowing out the propane heater. No bueno. With the next day looking even colder, we decided to bail. Now I am typing this and we are watching kung-fu movies. NICE!

Caleb working "Fiddle" V9

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Strength Comes at a Cost...

I am 3+ weeks into an 8 week strength/power program. I am getting stronger every week. It feels great. Sorta. My fingers feel like they are finally getting back to their pre-pulley tear state. Unfortunately, all the focus on the hangboard and the gym has made me worse at rock climbing. This is familiar territory. Last year Andrew and I did a training program and felt the same effects. We got stronger, but our movement skills and endurance suffered. The good news is, everything returned quickly once we started climbing a lot again. Then we went to Stone Fort and laid the smack down on some boulders. So I am trying to stay motivated and focused through this last half of my training. My performance on the rock is suffering, but i know that if I am patient, stay committed, and listen to my body, the monotony and frustration will be worth it.

I went out today with Terry and Larissa to the Darkwaters cave in Clear Creek Canyon. I really wanted to do Formula 50 (V10 or V11 depending on who you ask), but my beta was wack and I fell on my back a lot. So much so, that I left a crater in the ice, through the crash pad. After getting the wind knocked out of me for an hour I decided to give Formula 50 a break and try Fluid Mechanic (V10). I did Fluid Mechanic in a few tries. Not the coolest boulder, but it felt good to do something. Then I tried the moves on Darkwaters (V12/13). Darkwaters is definitely a cool line and is pretty much my anti-style, horizontal roof thuggery. I am psyched anyway! I'll be spending the next couple weeks on this boulder and I'm ready to lay siege and struggle!

I'm tired. Time to sleep.