Tuesday, February 24, 2009


This past Friday I had the pleasure of viewing the world premiere of Chuck Fryberger's new film Pure.  I must say I was very impressed with the film as a whole.  Very pretty looking.  I was especially psyched to see some of my home (Sonoma County) rocks in the film looking particularly brilliant.  

Following the film I was faced with the predicament of leaving that night for the Fortress or the next morning.  At one point I was considering bailing entirely.  But something was pulling me to that place beyond normal rationale.  Seems to always be the case these days.  So here's how my weekend played out.

Saturday morning, 1 am, I finally get my ass out of Boulder and on my way to the Western Slope.  I had my good friend, and photographer, Greg Mionske in tow and he claimed he was psyched as ever.  Hard to believe after it took 4 calls to wake him up for our ridiculous "alpine" departure time.  Our plan was to at least make it past Vail so we could miss all the morning ski traffic.  After a 30 minute detour through Denver due to an accident on 93 and another 3 hours of driving we arrived in the Walmart parking lot in Eagle with Dr. Dre bumping from my sub-par sound system.  That shit is pretty much the only music that can keep me awake on late-night drives.  We found a dark corner of the lot and prepared our beds.  I can just manage to sleep in my car, but Greg, at 6' 5'' brought along a tent that he pitched next to the car.  Urban camping at it's finest.

After a decent night of sleep we awoke at 9:30 am and hopped back on I-70.  Following a bit of breakfast and some more driving we found ourselves in the muddy parking lot below the cliff.  The hike definitely has a reputation and I was interested to see how I would fare after a winter of barely any physical activity outside the climbing gym.  It ended up taking us about an hour to get to the cliff.  We got a bit lost near the end and I ate shit in the talus/shale that covers the hillside below the cliff quite a few times.  However, psych was high.  The Fortress is gorgeous.  Blue and white streaked walls for days.  Intimidating to say the least.  At the cliff, we met up with some folks from Rifle, Andy and Mark, who were kind enough to show us around and tell us where to warm up.  I ended up hopping on The Daily Planet 5.13d right off the bat and dispatched it on my second burn.  Busted out the "rose" move and a mono for the send.  I've never really been forced to do any of those moves on outdoor rock.  After I belayed Greg on the 5.12 opening section of the climb, I decided to hop right on Kyptonite 5.14d.  Climbing a route such as this is on my lifetime goals list.  140 feet long, overhung, proud, with a complex and amazing crux.  Definitely something that will challenge me properly.  I went bolt to bolt through the first 40 feet of choss, and continued through the next 5.13 section dispaching most of the moves on my first attempt.  I'm thankful that I'm not any shorter because some of the lower moves would be downright impossible.  Simply amazing moves none-the-less.  After a stout left hand drive-by to a tufa pinch and a few pocket jugs I found myself at the base of the crux.  It was easy to distinguish this section because I couldn't see any holds ahead that would be good enough to clip from for as far as I could see.  But it looked perfectly my style.  Compression on slopers and pinches.  After pondering the sequence or a bit I decided to just gun for it, hoping to reach some sort of decent hold relatively quickly.  About 10 significantly difficult moves later, after skipping two draw-less bolts, I pitched off for a nice 40 foot ride.  Not really pumped, just not really sure where to go.  I did the same thing about 2-3 more times not quite able to find where the end of the crux was.  I lowered off and we hiked back down the trail, tired and hungry.  I was psyched on the route, but perturbed that I didn't take it to the top.  I would need to figure out the upper section better before proper redpoint burns could commence.

Probably can't see me.  I'm  a small red dot a bit higher than dead center.  You can see Greg belaying just above the tree in the foreground.  The route ends near the top of the frame.  I'm on one of the first moves of the crux.

Day 2.  Slept poorly in the Target parking lot in Glenwood Springs.  We must have looked like bums when we stumbled in the coffee shop nearby.  We arrived at the cliff earlier than the day before.  Nobody else in sight.  Truly in Solitude.  I warmed up on Kryptonite.  Mid-crux I was somehow able to basically dyno a draw into the bolt and clip it up so I could work out the easiest sequence.  I accomplished every move of the 15-move resistance crux with ease (thanks to the now clipped bolts) and made it to the resting jug and then through the last few bolts of 5.13 to the anchors.  I figured out that if I could get to the crux without being pumped in the slightest, I could definitely finish the route.  I lowered off and chilled for a few hours (it was quite warm mid-day).  In the late afternoon the sun tucked itself behind some clouds and it cooled down significantly.  I was ready to give it a burn.  Four bolts in and my hands were numb.  Not warmed up anymore.  I managed to climb into the crux from the bottom without being pumped, but I dry fired due to lack of feeling in the skin.  As the temps continued to get colder, I belayed Greg a few times on Phonebooth 5.13a, and then we headed back to the car.

3 realizations:

1. The route will go.
2. I should get in better shape.
3. Damn, The Fortress is amazing and I'm psyched to spend more time up there and Kryptonite is by far the BEST route climb I've ever tried regardless of grade.  Superb quality stone, amazing moves.

In regards to the pictures.  They were taken by Greg.  He set up the camera on a tripod and had it automatically take a photo every few seconds the whole time I was on the wall.  These are the low-res versions.  I've decided to blow up a high res. version and put it on my wall for motivation.  You gotta do whatever you can to make sure that you get shit done.  Word.

On Thursday this week I leave for Hueco with a motley crew to do some tanning in the Texas sun.  And this amazing event:

So get down to Hueco for some climbing in the sun!

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Fortress Of Solitude

I am excited to say that after an intense search for an equally psyched individual (Greg Mionske) I have succeeded in planning my first "adventure" up to The Fortress of Solitude this weekend.  My main goal is Kryptonite, but I would also like to check out Flex Luthor and scope the potential for some new lines.  I cannot express how motivated I am to find and bolt new lines.  And the Fortress seems like a perfect place to start.  200+ feet of overhanging limestone.  Now I just need a drill...

Also, If anybody has any info on the place and is psyched to share, please do.  Beta on where to warm-up and any other helpful info is much appreciated.  I will be taking lots of photos and there will definitely be updates to come.     

Saturday, February 14, 2009

ABS Nationals 2009

Qualifiers went better than expected for me and I'm tied for 5th Place going into finals tonight.  I felt like the problems were significantly easier this year than any other comp I've competed in, hopefully finals will step it up a notch.  If you are in Boulder right now, I urge everyone to come watch the show tonight.  Even if you can't find a ticket, find a way in!!!  It's going to be off the hook! 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Future...Revisited

I have gotten A LOT more responses to my previous blog entry than I expected.  Mostly good responses though.  One thing that I wanted to formally revisit was Point #6.  I feel like I was a bit harsh with this point and it definitely generated a response that I wasn't too psyched on.  So i will clarify.  Climbing companies make very good products and manage to stay afloat purely because they make very good products.  With the little money that comes into the industry, this only makes sense.  Very little room for bad products.  So I feel I was wrong in this regard.  Also, I wanted to make it known that I know very little about marketing.  I hope to learn more in the future.  I do know that in a lot of ways that the a lot of the marketing currently being done by climbing companies hasn't yet lived up to its potential.  If it had we would all be doing better financially.  I know that I have a lot of ideas that I think could really work in the way of marketing climbing, but I haven't had the time recently to sit down and put them into a structured concept.  All I can say is that they would be much different than what we are seeing now.  Maybe they would work, maybe they wouldn't.  Such is the game.

I would also like to thank my current sponsors Five Ten and Verve.  They have been amazing to me and my posts are not meant to reflect badly on them in any way.  I represent them because we have similar goals and I feel that they both make excellent products.

The Future

It has been quite a while since I have updated with significant information about what's been going on in my life.  It is safe to say that I have reached some what of a turning point.  Upon returning from a successful extended U.S. roadtrip this past fall, I have been forced to start looking at things in some what of a new light.  Following a successful, yet disappointing, winter tradeshow I have managed to put together a rough list of some of my recent "realizations".

1.  I am not a professional climber.  Meaning that currently I am nowhere near being able to support myself by just rock climbing.
2.  I want to be a professional rock climber.  And with that I need to find out how to properly become one and also what kind of "pro" climber I want to be.
3.  Being a professional rock climber currently has very little to do with how hard you rock climb.
4.  In fact, most pro climbers don't climb as hard as you might think.
5.  Some of the strongest climbers in the world are complete unknowns.  No 8a, no press, no nothing.  Completely unknown.
6.  At this point in time, VERY few climbing companies have any clue what they are doing beyond making a decent product that sells enough to keep them afloat.  I believe that much of this is due to BAD marketing techniques and BLATANT misuse of key athletes on their climbing teams.  Hint to climbing companies-stop doing the marketing by yourself and hire someone that knows whats up.
7.  The growth of climbing is vital for progression.
8.  More climbers=more people buying climbing shit=climbing companies making more $$$=more climbers climbing full time=progression.
9.  Their are 3 types of professional climbers.
I. Bad Climbers-Great Representatives
II.  Great Climbers-Bad Representatives
III. Great Climbers-Great Representatives
10.  Climber I typically misrepresents their abilities, but generally makes up for it by working hard for their sponsors. 
11.  Climber II typically thinks he's just too damn good to work hard for their sponsors.  "I get money and free shit because I climb harder than you".
12.  Climber III is a rare breed these days.  Climbs hard (Not just grades, but standard setting accomplishments) and works hard.  These type of people need to be rewarded more in the industry.  Many are not.  These people also need to be better utilized by their sponsors.
13.  I aspire to be Climber III and will not settle for being either Climber I or II because these people devalue what it means to be Climber III.
14.  Hopefully, in the future, ALL sponsored climbers will fall into category III because that is the best for the future of the industry.  
15.  Climbing competitions in the US are poorly executed and poorly advertised.
16.  Climbing is a selfish pursuit.
17.  Their are ways to make it less selfish by giving back to the community.
18.  I need to find more ways to give back.
19.  Most people do nothing to give back and it only hurts progression.
20.  We need to start working together better, as members of the WORLDWIDE climbing community, to progress the sport.  This means better recongnition as a sport by the general public.  Climbing in the Olympics.  We need athletes that are recognized by the general non-climbing public.

I know that a lot of these points isolate the things that are wrong with the climbing industry and I have stated very few ways to fix the problems.  Personally, I don't know how to fix a lot of them.  Maybe some of them aren't even problems.  But hopefully by pointing some of these things out more people will start to think.  If you have anything to add to the topic please comment.  I am not professing these beliefs as absolute truth.  All I know is that things aren't great for pro climbers these days and I would like to improve that.  And maybe you just don't give a shit about any of this and so be it.  But climbing is currently my life and I will do whatever I can to improve it.

Aside from that stuff here's what I've been up too.  In January I competed in the SCS Nationals in SLC during the tradeshow and managed to take 1st Place!  I trained a bit for the comp, but not nearly as hard as I could have trained.  I was very suprised that I basically made it through the comp without getting pumped.  Rope climbing is beginning to look like a facet of climbing that I could get very good at, and I am excited to pursue this side of the sport for the remainder of 2009.  My personal goal is to establish myself as a solid 9a climber and then start searching out new lines.  Following ABS Nationals and a possible short trip to Hueco, I will be spending a lot of time at The Fortress of Solitude (for Kryptonite), and the Southern Utah crags.  As well as Rifle in the spring and maybe the RRG.  Petzl has been so kind to hook me up with some great gear for my endeavors and I look forward to representing them PROPERLY in the coming months.

SCS Nationals

ABS Nationals is this weekend.  I have been training boulders in the gym.  Almost feeling strong. Almost.  We'll see how it goes.  Routes to boulders.  Hard to transition.  I've been climbing with P-Rob a lot and I must say I'm extremely impressed with how hard he is climbing following his ankle break in the fall.  He is definitely one of the top contenders for the title this year.  I guess more of us need to lock ourselves in the garage with a campus "bored" for a few months.

I have been entertaining the purchase of an HD video camera for the past few weeks.  MomentumVM has been for the most part a complete let-down lately and it would be nice to see more large format, HD quality, high-production value climbing shorts on the web these days.  It looks like I might get the opportunity to try my hand at it pretty soon.

Also,  BIG props to my little brother Giovanni or "G" for his somewhat recent ascents of Haroun and the Sea of Stories V12 and the 2nd Ground-Up Ascent of Evilution V12.  The latter achievement is very inspiring considering G used to be afraid to climb a 25 foot slab on a top rope.  You can view his ascent of Haroun here.