Friday, February 27, 2009

LRC, Instinct

There was one problem I had in mind when we were planning out trip down to Chattanooga. Instinct. I'd seen video and pictures of it and it just looked like such a cool line. Overhanging crimps suited my style really well and the moves all looked fun and interesting.

There's a stand start that goes at about V7, but the whole time my goal was to work out the moves on the sit start. Weighing in at V10, it was, more than anything, something that I wanted to test myself against after a long winter in the gym. The line itself is really really proud with only a couple of drawbacks. Unfortunately one of the holds on the lower section is very badly glued. That was a big disappointment and I lost a decent amount of psych for the problem, but oh well. The flake itself flexes and everybody seems to call it the "epoxy" hold. Coming from an area where everything breaks, Gov. Dodge, I'm just sort of used to adapting to a broken hold. Oh well. Not a huge deal.

We warmed up a little on our first day and messed around on some problems by Super Mario. In hindsight, I probably should have saved my skin for Instinct but it was fun to get on some problems and complete something. We walked over to instinct and I got relatively shut down by the first move. I seem to like doing that. After a few goes I started warming up to the first move and got closer and closer to sticking the long lockoff. I tried a bit harder and stuck the hold with 2 fingers and reeled in the rest. I pawed my way through the next couple of moves and dropped off. I was actually really psyched!!

I definitely didn't expect to get the starting moves so quickly and was pretty happy with myself. A crew of guys showed up from Atlanta shortly after and I was able to work out some beta and try the moves from the stand start too. One of the guys, Jon maybe, did the full sit and I was able to get some cool shots of him on the send. Sounded like it was his first time linking in so everyone was pretty excited.

Before I could finish working out the final moves my skin started to give way to the sharp crimps and I had to call it a day. I was psyched at how doable everything felt and I'm looking forward to going back. It's funny how important progression is for me. Especially after a long winter in the gym I love coming out to real rock and feeling stronger than I did the previous fall. Its such a good feeling.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Professional Climbers

There has been some blog talk lately of whether or not climbing will ever be able to be a "professional" career. Carlo Traversi had a nice, well thought out post about some things that need to change for this to happen. He brings up a few ideas that need to be talked about within the industry.

Carlo is in a pretty unique position right now in that he's right on the cusp of being a pro climber. He's starting to show his all around skills by repeating hard routes pretty quickly and he's been a very strong boulderer for a while now. His latest interest in routes is starting to cement him as an all around talent and it'll be interesting to see if he can join the likes of Sharma, Graham and Andrada in the pro ranks.

Peter Beal also had a nice post, from a different viewpoint. I tend to agree with Peter about all of this. As much as I would like to see climbing grow, I'm also pretty realistic about it. I don't know if I'll ever see professional climbing become a viable proffession in my lifetime. Climbing is a fringe sport, at best, and sponsorships don't give out enough money incentives. That's the price of being a small industry with a smaller user group.

I've been lucky enough to combine climbing with my job and I definitely realize that. There are very few people out there that can make a living doing what they love. This is probably as close as I'm going to come to being "pro" at anything. That'll have to do, I guess.

Monday, February 23, 2009

LRC, Tennessee Thing

On our first day, Katie and I were running around like little kids looking at all the rock when we found a cool little roof with a couple of problems on it. One was directly under the roof and looked awkward and weird, so we passed on that one. The other, though, looked kinda cool and we figured we'd put some work in on it one of the other days we were there.

We came back the second day with Katie feeling less sick and both of us wanting to try it. I gave it a good flash go and fell going to the jug. After trying the move once or twice I was able to link through from the start and then got promptly shut down on the top out. After thrutching my way up the top out I took a quick break and put it all together. Felt good to do and I was pretty happy with myself.

Katie started working on it and pretty quickly put most of the moves together. After about an hour or so she had all the moves dialed except for the topout. I should also add that she did most of the moves static on the send. Much much smarter than yours truly, it seems.

We came back on our last day to try it again. It was early in the morning and the holds felt great. To be totally honest, neither of us were sure if Katie was going to be able to work out the moves on the mantle. She proved us wrong and actually did the mantle in one or two goes. After a quick adjustment with her right hand she sent it and looked completely solid! Such a good way to end the trip! Her tips were done and she wasn't going to have many more goes left if she didn't get it there.

I should also note that this was her first V7 and while we all know that numbers suck, it's still fun to see progression and to have these "firsts". I couldn't be happier for Katie and I love seeing her work out beta. It's so much fun to see someone go all out on a project and actually get it. So much of our time climbing is spent sitting on a dinky little pad in frustration. Its nice to see it all come together.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Little Rock City, The Wave

I want to start off our trip report by giving praise to Montlake Golf Course and all of their staff. I can't say enough good about them and the fact that they allow climbers on their golf course. It's pretty amazing, and somewhat mindblowing, that they allow any access at all. We found ourselves continually saying that to each other. For those of you who aren't familiar with they system, here's the quick run down. There is a cap of 35 people and 20 cars per day. Registration starts at 5 AM and everything is on a first come first serve basis. I personally love it and Katie and I had no problems at all getting registered each day.

One of the problems that I wanted to get back on, and one that was on Katie's list to try, was the Wave. The Wave comes in at about V6 and climbs a prominent "Crashing Wave" type of arete. A couple of slaps up the arete and a somewhat delicate smear lead to a thought provoking match and rock over onto a slab. The climbing is absolutely classic and should be on anyone's short list for climbs to do at LRC.

I was somewhat surprised how quickly I was able to do it again. I was planning on climbing up the arete a few moves and then dropping off, mainly just to get some pictures. The entire thing felt surprisingly good and flowed really well. When I got to the match everything felt bigger and better than I had remembered. I topped out with a smile and walked off the back side.

Katie gave it some really good goes on her first day when she had her own little version of the plague. When we finally made it back three days later she had no tips at all and was ready to bleed. A couple of goes sliding her hand up coarse sandstone was enough to call it quits for the day. I'm sure when we come back fresh again she'll send it in short order.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

October 3, 2009

Katie and I picked a date! We're going to get married on October 3, 2009!!!

It's gonna be a good year!!!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Injuries suck. Plain and simple. Katie was both lucky and unlucky last night. It was our first night back in the gym after going to Chattanooga for 5 days and we were just cooling down at the end of the night. Katie climbed near the top of one of our warm ups and then just jumped off. Sadly she hit the corner of one of the pads underneath her and turned her ankle.

In the morning Katie went to a doctor to get it X-Rayed and turns out that it was a really bad sprain. Hopefully she'll be climbing again soon. We're looking at about 2 weeks right now and maybe having her on a rope instead of bouldering. Luckily she avoided the boot of doom, but she'll be walking around with a softball sized ankle for a while. Thankfully, though, she avoided any broken bones.

A couple things hit me as I wrote this though. First, I've been really lucky in terms of injuries with climbing. With only one major injury in almost a decade of climbing I have very little to complain about on the injury front. Katie has been climbing a fair number of years less than me but seems to already have a broken bone and a pretty serious sprain added to her list.

One of the unluckiest souls that I know when it comes to injuries though is Brian. I'm not sure I've met someone who's had more injuries than him and he always seems to come back really strong. His wife seems to have fallen into the "injured by association" trap and has had the Boot of Doom twice in the last couple of years.

It's hard to be rad when you can't walk, so no more injuries are allowed this year. We've maxed out our quota already and I have way too many climbs on the tick list to get injured.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Shoe Obsessions

I'll admit it, I have a shoe problem. At one point a couple years ago I had 12 pair of climbing shoes. Somehow I had a justification for all of them. I'm not sure how I managed that, but I did. Since then I've made an active effort to cut down on my gear. Currently I'm climbing in 2 pair of shoes.

I'm lucky enough to be a gear rep for a bunch of cool companies like Petzl and Mountain Hardwear. This tends to feed my ridiculous "need" for everything new and I'm trying to be better about not geeking out about the new hotness at the start of each season. It rarely works.

Joe Kinder recently had a really nice post about shoes. For those that don't know him, Joe is, and has been for a decade or so, a sponsored climber. For that matter, he's been with most major shoe companies at one time or another. I give him a lot of credit for acknowledging that the Scarpa Mago was one of his favorite shoes ever. It's something most sponsored climbers wouldn't do.

5 years ago I purchased my first pair of Testarossas and fell in love. They were my perfect shoe and I loved every single aspect of them. When I put them on something clicked in me and I just tried harder. With that in mind, they eventually blew up and I wanted to try out some other styles. After a bunch of other shoes I've come back to the Testarossas again and I'm very happy I did. It's like coming back home after a trip that lasted too long and had too many bad choices. I couldn't be happier.

For those that are interested I've listed all the shoes that I tried between my first pair of Testarossas and my newest pair. For reference I personally wear a size 9 or a Euro 42 in street shoe. I wear a 37.5 Testarossa.

Sportiva Venoms - 36.5 - Sizing on these was way off and I could have gone another half size down if I wanted to. Seems like these either fit your foot or didn't. I did appreciate the toe rubber a lot and still think it's the best toe hooking rubber out there. Sportiva has since discontinued these and will have a new aggressive slipper called the Speedster coming out this fall.

5.10 V10(no toe rubber) - 8 - I had idolized these shoes, for what reasons I'm not sure, for a long time and they were a nice, sensitive option for me. After repeated use they became a great all around option and smeared really well, actually. I wore these until my big toe was coming out of the front of the shoes. It was a sad day when I threw them out.

5.10 V10(with toe rubber) - 8 - I hated these shoes. 5.10 did a horrible job and wrecked the shoe, in my opinion. Even after repeated sanding with a dremel tool they were some of the worst shoes I owned. Oh well. Lesson learned. I eventually gave these away.

Sportiva Katana - 38 - I kind of liked these shoes. They were flatter than I was used to but were good all around shoes. They edged really well and were relatively comfy. All that said, they never excelled at anything and in the end were fairly disappointing.

5.10 Velcro Dragon - 8.5 - I had a pair of these for a little bit right before I got my Testarossas and loved them. I found them on ebay and tried them out for a second time. I'm not sure I ever appreciated my Testarossas more. Very underwhelming shoe the second time around.

Sportiva Solutions - 38 - I bought into the hype. Unfortunately these were just too big for me. I should have gotten them about a full size smaller. My toes moved around in them and they just didn't hug my foot. I love the closure and I like the idea. I do wish they'd make the heel a little narrower as it's hard to get into tight spaces.

5.10 V10(no toe rubber) - 8 - Yes, they made the list again. Ebay is a wonderful tool. This time around I should have gone smaller as they do stretch a lot. What struck me with this, though, was that 5.10 has been using the identical last for their performance shoe for almost a decade now. Velcro Dragons, V10, V10 version II, Lace up Dragons and the Jet 7's. Interesting.

Scarpa Boosters - 38 - Loved these shoes. They have a great fit and are fairly downturned. Not the most sensitive shoes I've ever owned but I would definitely get these again. The only issue I have is that ALL Boosters wear out faster over the big toe knuckle. They need to put a patch of rubber there to prevent it. Definitely a recommendation to all other climbers.

That's all of them. I'm a total dork when it comes to climbing shoes and definitely think about it waaaay too much. There are a couple pair that are on my radar right now for the spring. Both the Scarpa Feroce and the 5.10 Project seem like nice compliments to the Testarossa. We'll see what I end up going with though. I've been continually unimpressed with 5.10 lately. I'm way too excited for the spring season to start.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Teaching the world how to be totally radical

My name is Steve and I'm a blogger...

Turns out that the first post is a hard one(that's what she said). I have no idea what this is going to turn into, but both Katie and I thought it'd be fun to share pics and stories from our trips. It'll also have some up to date info on our upcoming wedding(!!!!!!!) and our lives in general. Thoughts and opinions on anything and everything.

For the most part, though, it'll hopefully serve as a forum for me to teach everyone out there how to be totally rad. How to get sicky gnar gnar on all of your projects and maybe even get some tips on how to tick your sick pink/red proj on the steep wall of cave 2. Out of all the blogs I read I didn't see anything that encompassed the true "Bro" essence of climbing.

Hopefully this will fill that void. So sit down, grab a Red Bull(cause sometimes you just gotta ride the bull), and get ready to get totally sicky gnar gnar.......brah.