Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Go Green Death!!

Too funny not to post here. A girls soccer coach had to resign after he wrote a satirical e-mail to all of the kids parents. A few of my favorite lines:

"Team 7 will be called Green Death. We will only acknowledge “Team 7” for scheduling and disciplinary purposes. "

"Second place trophies are nothing to be proud of as they serve only as a reminder that you missed your goal"

"No junk food. Protein shakes are encouraged, and while blood doping and HGH use is frowned upon, there is no testing policy. And at the risk of stating the obvious, blue slushies are for winners."

Fantastic. The blue slushies line is my favorite. Thanks to Pete for the link.


Henceforth, my left Testarossa will be called Yellow Death and my right Testarossa will be called Red Death. It's only fitting.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Ancient Radness : 45 Degree Boulder

Devil's Lake isn't really known for it's roofs, unfortunately. 90% of the climbing is dead, or just past, vertical and crimpy. There are a couple of notable exceptions though. One of those is the aptly named "45 degree" boulder. It sits atop the West Bluff talus field and is a nice little boulder with a couple of problems on it.

Steve and I worked the middle line of the boulder back in the spring of 06. We had previously done the V4 to the left and wanted to come back and try the V5 next to it. If I remember right there was some funky foot jamming and then some slapping up to a sloper. Fun moves and a somewhat tricky topout over an exciting landing. Not bad, just exciting.

Anyone who has climbed at the lake knows how worthless the slopers can be and it was really fun to play around on one. The problem was dynamic and really cool. Both of the lines have a true sit start and are more dynamic than most problems at the lake. It was a welcome change of pace.

Here are a couple of pictures from the problem.

On another note, this week is the last for me for curling. Yes, I curl. No, I'm not any good. We're in the playdowns(it's the playoffs, but all the cool curlers call it playdowns) for our league and as much fun as it is, I'm glad to be done. More time for climbing. Most of the snow melted yesterday and I'm hoping for good weather this Saturday.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

New Additions

It looks like Travis Melin put up a new hard problem at Dodge right before the snow came in. It's called "Strong Men Also Cry" and the line looks pretty cool. I'm looking forward to heading up there and checking it out soon. Travis put the V8 tag on it and it should be interesting to see how it holds up compared to Sandstone Violence.

This problem now brings the total of V8 or harder problems at Governor Dodge to a whopping 2. I seem to always be surprised that so many people go to Dodge instead of Devils Lake. I guess Dodge is where all the cool kids go. Off the top of my head I can think of 10 problems that are V8 or harder at Devils Lake. Out of those, I think 2 of them are unrepeated and one has sat for the better part of this decade without a repeat. I can also think of 2, or possibly more, projects that are proud and very hard.

Is Devil's Lake just not cool anymore? I mean, I like Sandstone way better than Quartzite, but still. There are all these hard problems at the lake and the last time that anyone, to the best of my knowledge, has repeated any of them was when Kelsen and I did Perfect Medium back in the fall of 2007.

I know that the recent activity has been on the exploring and FA's yet to be done at Dodge, but it seems like almost any interest in repeating hard lines is concentrated at Governor Dodge.

All that said, I'm guilty too. I was only out at Devils Lake once last spring and that was to work on Rubberman. Any thoughts??

Friday, March 27, 2009


Yup. I'm 25 today. Katie kicked butt and got me a new single speed, the Redline 925. I love it and was blown away. Really surprised.

Some of you may have seen my cake from last year...

It was awesome and perfect. This year though, I got a giant cup cake!! I love it!

Yeah, you should all be jealous. At least of the cakes. Not of our weather. It's supposed to be 35 and rainy/snowy tomorrow. not cool.

We are heading down to So Ill in a couple of weeks and hopefully the weather cooperates. Can't wait to try Body Karate again!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Projects, Part Deuce

I know you have all been waiting patiently for me to talk about my new kicks, the Projects. While I haven't gotten a bunch of days in with them, I have gotten enough to get a decent idea of what they are like. I'll have more to come as I use them more. So far I've been able to use them about 4 times. Twice indoors and twice on rock.

As far as fit goes, I like them but don't love them. I like the toe a lot and I like how chiseled it is. It grabs onto small holds really well and that, paired with the sensitivity is really nice. It really lets you pull. I don't like how the arch and midfoot don't suck up around my foot and the heel isn't perfect. It isn't bad though, just a little stiff and bulky feeling.

I don't like how the velcro closure fits my foot though. I wish the metal loop was a little smaller. It hits the top of my foot really weird and feels a lot like the old velcro Dragon and the Jet7's that I've tried on. The velcro strap tends to bunch up to one side of the metal loop anyways so I feel like they could make it a little smaller and it would work much better. In the velcro closure world I think the Solutions have the best closure system by far. Very well thought out and well executed.

And how did they perform? I like them, actually. The shape of the toe is nice and they toe down really effectively. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about the sensitivity and how soft they were. I like it in certain situations, for sure. While they aren't a workhorse shoe there are definitely going to be times that I'll pull them out of the bag. Having not owned the Mantra's I didn't have a whole lot of experience with midsole-less shoes. It is definitely a different technique and style of climbing.

I do fear that they are going to stretch too much and also that they are going to lose their downturn fairly quickly. Without a midsole they don't have a whole lot of support and won't be able to keep their original shape all that well. While it isn't something I'm too worried about, it is something that I'll be watching. I'm definitely worried that they are going to stretch too much though. The leather is very soft and I definitely couldn't go any smaller with them.

Overall, I like them so far. More time will tell me if they were worth it or not, but right now they are a nice addition. My number one preference is still for the Testarossa and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

It's looking like rain this weekend so it seems like I'll have to wait a little bit for revenge on Chaos. My tips are finally starting to heal up and feel close to normal again. I'm so excited for the spring season!

Monday, March 23, 2009


I'm not sure I can remember the last time I punted so badly. I did not get rad this past Saturday.

Katie and I went out to Rattlesnake Mound again on Saturday and had fantastic weather. It was a little warmer out and everything was nice and pleasant. We warmed up and screwed around for a bit and then went back over to Chaos. I did the last bump move second try just to remind myself that I could and then set to work on linking it.

First go from the start I linked through up until the final bump. Thought I had it in the bag and felt super strong on it. Felt easy. Fell on the bump to the jug. Punt. I ended up linking through to the final move 3 more times, each time falling from the jug. Punt, punt, punt. I took a quick break and then tried just the one move again. Did the bump no problem.

As soon as I started to try the link though it was like "wash, rinse, repeat". Same story over and over. Punt. In the end I had to give up since two of my tips had started to bleed. Would've been a nasty flapper had I kept going. I left blood on one of the holds for whoever tries it next. A little present from me to you!

After that we went over to Beached Whale. It's a short little arete problem that Katie wanted to try again. It was very physical and VERY sandy. We ended up finding more sand in her eyes at 10PM, later that night. In the end she found a sequence that worked for her and sent the short V4. That was after she tried to climb it with her eyes shut....multiple times.

On another note, I tried out my Projects a couple of times in the past week or so. Once at the gym and twice at Rattlesnake. They are definitely very sensitive and seem to work well for what they do. They're going to be a nice addition to my shoe collection. They aren't perfect though. They don't seem to hug my foot or my arch as well as I'd like and the heel cup is a little deep. I'm pretty confident that they are going to lose their downturn after a while, but oh well. I can't tell a difference between any of the rubber that I'm using currently(Stealth HF, Stealth Mystique and Vibram XS Grip). All that said, the Testarossa's are still my shoe of choice. It all comes down to fit.

I'll try to have a full review of them this week though. The more I use them, the more I like them.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Rattlesnake Mound

It's like Where's Waldo, just with Katie...can you find her?

Katie and I took a day off yesterday and went up to Rattlesnake Mound. It's a fairly new area and is pretty cool. A tornado came through a couple years ago and took out most of the trees in the area. Everything felt wide open but it got really windy at times. Made for a cool atmosphere though.

We warmed up on the House Boulder and got warm pretty quick. In the sun it was perfect out and we were down to t-shirts and sweating. After packing up our stuff we went over to Chaos. It is on my list for the year and I wanted to give it a good flash go since it was very much my style. I promptly blew the flash by missing the first hold and went to work on it for real. I was able to get all the moves worked out pretty quickly but my skin was suffering badly from a solid month of not climbing more than once a week.

Chaos is about 6 moves long and is full on power crimping. For me the crux is going to be bumping from the first tiny crimp to the second, bigger, crimp. I couldn't quite put it together yesterday but we may be going back tomorrow for more. It should go down then. The moves are all really fun and it was a good effort by John to put it up last year. Well done sir!!!

After getting completely cold at Chaos we went over to the sunny side of the bluff again to explore a little. We found a nice little boulder with about 5-6 really fun warm ups. There is potential for some more but it's a nice little boulder and has cool exposure to it. The setting is unique and was a great way to cool down after a great day.

I approve!!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ancient Radness : West Bluff Lunge

Back in 2005, right after I moved back to Wisconsin, Peter De Salvo took a bunch of us on a tour of the west bluff at Devil's Lake. We started out at the top of the bluff off of the fire road and went to a bunch of boulders that were all new to me.

Standing above the rest was a lunge problem in the middle of the forest. We bushwhacked our way back to it and in a small corridor there were 5-10 problems. Right in the middle was a striking arete standing over a 2-3 foot tall boulder right in the middle of the landing. We stacked the pads around it and stuck Steve Day on top of the boulder to spot everyone and went to work.

After waiting around, taking pictures and watching bad beta for way too long I stepped up and did the problem second go. Tom, Peter and I think Kelsen followed soon after. The landing, coupled with a fairly committing final throw, made for an extremely satisfying last move.

Here are a couple of pictures from the problem. I'd love to go back up there and make a proper trail around the top of the West Bluff. Thorns are no fun.

Monday, March 16, 2009


At the end of Saturday. Tired enough to put a pot on my head and pose for a picture.

This past weekend our sales agency took four of our brands(Sea To Summit, Jetboil, Petzl and AMK) to the largest paddlesport event in the nation, Canoecopia. Over 25,000 people attend the three day consumer event each year and some travel from around the world for it. I definitely talked to a number of Euro's this weekend about which dry sack they wanted. More than half of the people I talked to weren't even from the Madison area.

For so many the attendees this is the kickoff to their paddling season. Seeing as I don't paddle anything, this event is a bit lukewarm for me. I have fun but by the end of the weekend I'm pretty ready for it to be over. The crowds are massive and can be incredibly intense at times. For about a 6 hour period on Saturday we had well over 50 people in our 20 foot by 30 foot booth at all times.

One thing that strikes me about the paddlesport community is how positive they are. All weekend long everyone there was genuinely happy and didn't want to be anywhere else. Perfect example was Sunday Morning before the doors opened. While I was groggy and half awake, everyone in the entry way, all 1000 of them, started to clap in unison trying to get the doors open sooner. That was the last thing I was expecting.

All in all it's a great event and brings the entire community together for a weekend. It's something that every industry should have.

On that note, it looks like Katie and I may have a day or 2 of climbing this week. Her ankle was doing better until this past weekend and hopefully it can recover enough to feel OK for this week. Unfortunately I have yet to try the Projects out, but will give them a good workout tomorrow I hope.

It's sunny and 60 now. Wish I were outside...

Thursday, March 12, 2009


So I caved and got a pair of the Five Ten Projects. They arrived yesterday and after a little bit of work, and fear that I ordered the wrong size, I was able to get them on.

Initial impressions:

- Fit - They're pretty narrow and kind of baggy on the sides. Very similar, actually, to the original V10's in that respect. The metal loop that the velcro goes through hits the top of my foot a little weird right now but that may change in the future after they break in. The heel fits better than the V10 heel did, but still a little baggy on the outside. I like how the shoe feels, as a whole, more than the Jet7 right now. I don't like to compare across brands too much, but they definitely don't fit me as well as the Testarossa's or Booster's did. Very classic "Five Ten" fit and shape. If the Velcro Dragons fit you well a decade ago, these should too.

- Sensitivity - I haven't climbed in them yet, should be able to sometime in the next couple days, but they definitely feel soft. As they should. Should be interesting to see how they actually climb. Curiosity caught me on this one and I hope I like them.

- Rubber - A bunch of press has been made out of the new rubber but initial thoughts are very "meh". Rubber is rubber. Whether it's C4, HF, Onyx, Mystique or something else, it all comes down to the shape of the shoe. No big surprises here.

- Sizing - Most people I talked to went a size and a half down from their Dragons. While I don't own any Dragons, I'm a pretty standard 8 the times I've tried them on. So I went with a 6.5 in the projects. They should work out well after shoe stretch. They've got pretty soft uppers and should stretch a fair amount.

I'll give another update once I try them out a couple times. Fun fun.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ancient Radness : Jenga(V7)

These shots are from a couple years ago up in the west bluff talus field. A crew of about 9 people and pads made our way through the upper fields and put a ton of work in on some super sketch landings for some massive highball projects. Nothing too hard but stuff with nonexistent landings and bordering on solo height.

We made some time to try a Peter De Salvo classic, Jenga. It climbs up a mini dihedral to some good slopers and a throw for a jug. Hefty made quick work of it and sent on his second go. First go he missed the crux hold and fell trying to bump it up again(see picture number 1). Burly. Definitely a classic and sadly I couldn't finish it up that day.

Jenga is a complete pain to find unless you have the super secret squirrel beta(phrase shamelessly stolen from Katie). I'll be happy to give that out but I give no guarantees you'll be able to find it.

I recently found a whole stash of old pictures from Devil's Lake that I thought I had lost. In all of those are pics of the 45 degree boulder, Smooth Operator/Bud White and a bunch of others too. I'm going to try to do weekly radness postings for your viewing pleasure.

Photo credits go to "Sweaty" Steve Day.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Climbing Shoe Technologies

I've been wanting to post about this for a little bit now. As many of you know I'm a complete dork when it comes to climbing shoes. They occupy way too much of my time and I over-analyze each little thing about shoes. There have been a couple of new shoes coming out though that have caught my eye.

First up is the Five Ten Project. I'd seen pics of "Nicros Nic" wearing them last year on Justin's blog and was wondering what they were. Come to find out earlier this year that they are the new performance shoe from Five Ten. As of late I haven't been super impressed with Five Ten's offerings but this one is a little different. They've created a new last for this shoe and it has kind of a unique story to go along with it. The Project comes with a 2 millimeter outsole and no midsole. Yep, no midsole at all. By taking out all of the extra material they've made a shoe that is apparently way more sensitive than anything out there. They are also using a new rubber and are touting it as stickier and more durable than Stealth HF.

For the first time since the original V10 I'm excited about Five Ten and I'm actually really interested in getting a pair of these. While I don't think that they'll be a great workhorse, they should make a nice compliment to the quiver. I'm gonna go ahead and guess that they won't edge too well but should excel on steep terrain. Everyone seems to be sizing them down a size and a half from the Dragons to accommodate for stretch.

Next up is the La Sportiva Speedster. Right now it's debuting in Italy/Europe and is set to start shipping here in the states come fall. Sportiva got rid of the Venom for 2009 and is hoping that the Speedster will take the Venoms place. It looks like La Sportiva is making a move for the sensitive shoe market as well with this shoe. Same as the Project it does not have a midsole, but instead of a 2mm outsole the Speedster will have a 3mm outsole. I'm going to guess that durability is going to be a bit better with the Speedsters since it has XS Grip and also has a little bit of a thicker sole.

After loving the Cobra and then being really disappointed with the Venom, I'm curious how this shoe will fare. I have a lot of friends who really loved the Venom but it never seemed to fit my foot that well. It had a tendency to flatten out really quickly and lose its downturn. This is going to happen to any shoe, especially a slipper, but I was never a fan. Also, I may be the only person out there that really likes the green color.

Now on to the funky stuff. I came across this today and couldn't believe it. After formerly working for Vasque I'm pretty intimately acquainted with the BOA lacing system. I think it works pretty well for Snowboard boots and works moderately well for trail runners. I never really thought I'd see it on climbing shoes. I guess someone was bound to do it, right?

Check out the Millet Boa 1st climbing shoe. I'm kinda speechless right now and don't know what to think. I can't think of any reason why you'd add the Boa system as opposed to Velcro or Laces. Rather than making something that's functional and useful, it seems like they made something different, just to be different. It'll be interesting to see if this catches on but I'm guessing this will go the way of the Keen climbing shoes that never made it to production a few years ago.

I'd climb so fast if I had those!!!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tick List

So I realized that I never did a true tick list for the upcoming season. I'm always torn on whether to do a tick list or not. Partially because I always fail miserably(see birthday challenges 1 and 2 for examples) and partially because my interests change fairly radically. It's nice to lay out what you want to do though, so I figured why not.

So here it is, the list of radness. Enjoy...

- Sandstone Violence - V8 - After coming so close on the FA I lost so much interest in it after get hit by a loose block. I've only put one day of half hearted effort into it since Fall of 2006. I really need to just sack up and finish this thing off.

- Battle of the Bulge - V7/8?(unrepeated) - I spent one day on it on one of my first days back last fall and got spanked. I'm in much better shape now and want to get back on this one.

- Highly Executed - V7 - Spent a few days on this last fall and got close. This one isn't really high on the list but would be nice to put down.

- Chaos - V7(unrepeated) - Sweaty put up this line last year and it looks really good and kind of my style. Would love to dispatch this one. The rest of Rattlesnake Mound looks really cool and I'm really looking forward to spending time out there this spring.

- Alpine Club - V9? - I would absolutely love to climb this stupid little problem. 3 days of work with no progress is enough for me. One of the benchmark climbs for me at the lake. NEED to do this one. It's been on my mind for far too long.

- Beautiful Soup(V8)/Keymaker(V10/11) - Having only really spent a day on this problem I'd love to have a couple more this year. Beautiful soup is very doable but I'm not sure about the Keymaker. There is more interest in hard bouldering at the lake this year already and it should be a good season.

- Body Karate - V9 - RV and I had a solid day on this a year and a half ago and it'd be a fun one to finish up. Just need to find time to go back to So Ill.

- Instinct Sit - V10 - I would absolutely love to finish this up. It felt surprisingly doable and the moves were really fun. Another Fall trip to LRC may be in order....

I'd be happy to do any number of these really. Here's to hoping the weather is kind to us this year...