Sunday, September 20, 2009


Yesterday morning I left for Vedauwoo with a friend. We arrived around 11 and met up with 14 other friends psyched and prepared, or so they thought, to crush. Let me say that Vedauwoo is a terrible place if you have little or no technique, or if you cannot cope with losing chunks of skin on the occasional problem. That said, for everyone else it is fantastic. A lifetime of rock to be climbed 15 mintues from the University of Wyoming and gorgeous scenery, especially in the fall.

Fall was a week away from being in full effect yesterday, but it was almost perfect nonetheless. I was unable to try any of the projects I had made note of when I visited two weeks ago, but myself and quite a few others came up with some nice sends. Climbing with such a large group of people is interesting. Taking quality pictures is almost impossible, which is a shame since there are some many people to photograph. On the upside, there are tons of people giving support and a rediculous amount of crash pads. I really enjoy climbing with all of these people and I wish it could happen once every weekend. Everyone always seems to get a lot accomplished on the days when we have a massive squad of people. Employee of the day was up for grabs as Anne Tedesco did the Gill Problem, which no one else could do, and Said Parirohk, who gave around 20 attempts on the Information Super Highway dyno and eventually stuck it! Dan Michels got viedo of me doing this dyno, so hopefully you can see how it goes.


This Wednesday I'll be leaving with my friend Lauren for the Tulsa airport. We're going to Arkansas again! This time it is for Horshoe Hell. Should be a great competition for her and the rest of my friends that will be there. As usual, I will not be climbing more than 15 moves and will not be using a rope. I'm really excited to see my brother again and get some great climbing time together. I have several smaller goals while I am there, but two main ones: Chunck up the Deuce and Loved by Few Hated by Many. Both are in the V12/13 range and it would be nice to use the high motivation and the week to get the two. Others on the list are Fred's Roof, 52 to 1 Carddeck, Jeff's Prow, and Shadow Jumper. Here is video of some of them.

Chunk up the Deuce
Chunk and Loved by Few
Jeff's Prow and Fred's Roof

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Going on the recent trend, I will talk about motivation today. This next line isn't an exact quote, but it's appropriate nonetheless.

"Motivation; what is dat all about?" - Ali G

While having proper equipment, training your muscles, and eating the right food is important, none of those come close to the mental aspect of climbing. Plain and simple, mental game gets it done. Motivation can make a climb feel effortless and impossible without it. Of all the things to train, this should be at the top of everyone's list. Prime examples of world class climbing minds would be people pushing the limits... Fred Nicole, Chris Sharma, Adam Ondra, and Kevin Jorgeson.

Several years ago I was studying architecture in Rome, Italy, and I was in the middle of climbing withdrawals. I had just taken my first trip to Horsepens 40 as opposed to going ice climbing In Ouray, CO. Dying to climb and having nothing but my shoes and a small bag of chalk drove me crazy. I was always thinking about it; grabbing everything as if I were in the middle of a climb. The first visit to a gym there took 2 hours by train and foot. I was utterly lost, but have never been more found once I arrived. Ecole Verticale was a glorious place; however, I only visited twice more. The next gym turned out to be my svaing grace and ultimately one of the major reasons my climbing turned from a hobby to a career.

Jollypower as it was called, was dirty and lacked class even though it was at a sport club. What it lacked in class and technology, it made up for it with motivated people. I climbed once a week with at least 12 men and several girls who could all comfortably complete v8s. Some of these men were nearly 60. I have never before or since met so many people that were so motivated. The ring leader of this place was a man by the name of Alesandro Lamberti, affectionately called Jollypower. At 24 he climbed his first 13.d. At 30 his first 14.b. At 37 his first 14.d. He was 44 when I met him and he is still the stongest and most graceful climber I have ever seen. This is not a man who was blessed for climbing, though he had been climbing for almost 35 years when I met him. Here was a man who trained 'til he was blue in the face, until his muscle failure was so evident that he could not move another inch. I bought his book, thanked him, and still hope I will see him again.

His book is my Bible for training, but it is unfortunately in Italian. Among other things, over 40 pages of the book is dedicated to the metal aspect of the sport of climbing. There are lots of quotes from Bruce Lee, Confuscious, and Shakespeare. One of the Bruce Lee quotes goes as follows, "the mind is the primary obstacle in any physical action." Basically, if you believe you can do it, wether you actually can, it will place the verdict solely in the physical realm. Your mind will either allow you to do the climb or you will not. If you consider all the climbers in the world past and present, you would easily see the strongest minds a top the list and a gradual drop of in acuity as the level of the climber decreased. A great example is Fred Nicole. He has always been about 10 years ahead of his time. He put up the world's first v13 and v14 when people believed Midnight Lightning to be a serious standard and v10 was an extremely high level professional. The fact that he believed and believes that almost no stretch of rock can stop him is dumbfounding. His mind is by far his most impressive asset, and let us not forget his fingers and overall physcial fitness are "special abilities," as he has been seen doing one-arm pullups on a single pinky finger. So next time you think about climbing something remember what Bruce says and keep your mind as open, as smart, and as strong as Fred Nicole's.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


So yesterday was a post on training, and since I have read so much on it and think about it so frequently I wanted to expand on it a bit more. First, all people and bodies are different. Everyone responds differently to stimulus and recovers at verying rates. Therefore, one person should never be doing anyone else's training regimen. This also applies to dieting. The exception might theoretically be twins or two individuals who were almost identical in tests such as metabolic rate, cell reproduction, existing physical conditions, and their needs for training. General recommendations can be made for the masses, but these should always always be tailored.

Second, I love training myself and coaching others. I wish I could do this as a full time job. Everyone who let me observe them and then train them would eventually become whatever their heart's desired. Anyway, I wish I coached people. Maybe I should write a book or something instead.

Lastly and mostly what I wanted to delve further into is the subject of special abilities of a physical nature or assets as it relates to climbing. This is referring to a strength that is so far above average that it is unique or would be desired by anyone who knew of it. Several examples would be the open hand strength of Jimmy Webb or Dave Graham, the timing of Tyler Landman, the total muscular fitness of Alex Puccio, the lock-offs of Iker Pou, the close-handed talents of James Litz, or Dave Graham's understanding of compression climbing. These people possess unmatched abilities. Perhaps they began with more of this than everyone else, but more likely they have always been pushing something that comes naturally or something preferred. These are just a few examples, but having such a highly developed ability can make one a world class climber. Some people will never be close to such an ability, while others like Dave Graham, Fred Nicole, or Chris Sharma may have multiple ones. However, anyone can train for such a goal, and with the right choices can vastly and quickly improve whatever is desired. Obviously the most arduous would be improving upon weaknesses. One must be committed in making their weakness of paramount importance almost to the point of obsession. This type of training is the least fun and takes the longest, but will yield the most return. For example, what is Tommy Caldwell's weakness? While he has no special climbing talent that would be higher than the 90th percentile, he has virtually no weaknesses other than missin a portion of a digit, which can be argued as a special ability in disguise. Well, that's enough with the training for one post.


Today, no intro I'm just going to dive in. The past year beginning at the start of this October has been a complete rollercoaster for my climbing. I quit my job last November to travel and climb. It was the best thing I have done for my climbing other than moving to Colorado. I bought my first camera, which has turned out well also. I climbed my first v11 and 12 on the trip, but I've also had some real set backs. I tore my right lat on Easter day (3 months for full recovery), broke my left ankle and tore ligaments in early June (3 months recovery and still not 100%), strained my right middle finger A2 pulley at the beginning of August (still not recovered). Someone said something stupid once to my brother when he broke his collar bone in 2 places and climbed his first v10 4 months later. "It l ooks like it was a blessing in disguise." Turns out maybe that's not such crazy talk. Maybe it let the desire and motivation build so that he would be able to mentally achieve a new level. I've been thinking a lot lately about what if I wasn't injured so much, but then again I would not have developed my weaknesses.

For the past month I have been training at Movement. Here's how it goes. The routes are great, but I don't have a partner. I climb on the auto belay and do 10 routes in 30 minutes anywhere from 5.8-5.12. Dumb, but it gets up the endurance. The boulder problems are absolutely terrible. Poor setting, climbing that doesn't translate outside, and always awkward. So none of that really. The system board is alright, but too many good holds. I train powerful square climbing on this board. Also a lot of sloper training and always with lockoffs on everything. I also spend a lot of time using feet that don't feel the best. Not necessarily bad feet, just 6 inches from where I would like. The training also consists of tons of stretching because of my inflexibility and lots of lifting to develop world class assets and improve upon weak areas. Finally, cardio whenever possible. Training is everyday between 2-5 hours sometimes twice a day. Movement is clean and the people are friendly, not to mention a well designed space from Jim Logan (the architect). This keeps the morale high. Not unlike a friend who I spent part of this last year, I have decided not to seriously climb in the gym more than 2 or 3 times a month, only training. I'm always looking for answers and this could be one.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Random Tidbits

Here are a few quick blurbs about recent news...

My brother is claiming to be the most motivated climber in Arkansas. I would've never guessed this for him, but breaking a collar bone and tearing a meniscus within the span of six months can change a person's mindset. I was informed last weekend that he nearly sent Fred's Roof v11 in his first session. Having done every move, he is in the agonizing world of trying to finish the climb from the beginning. Well, maybe there will be good news soon.

As a new and very likely the most frequently attending member of Movement Climbing Gym in Boulder, I had the privilege of watching the gym put up a rope testpiece. Mike Moelter claimed it was somewhere in the 14.c/d range after some of the moves were "watered down a bit." Originally, Somewhere near 15.a/b, I watched a v12 boulderer and a competent route climber struggle to do more than two consecutive movements. Nasty to say the least. At 42' the wall isn't that tall, but 30 degrees overhung and every move being from v8-12 with virtually no rests, it packs a mean punch.

Lastly, my portfolio came in the mail. Misprinted because of the company's web layout and several color mishaps will have me printing another 40 dollar copy. Still, I was quite pleased and thought it was pretty sweet to be able to quantify so much work and time spent over the last 6 years.