Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Ultimate Guide to the Reserve

I've been wanting to do this for a little while but needed to go back up to The Reserve first. For those of you that don't know, The Reserve is one of the major bouldering areas at Devils Lake. It's out of the way and somewhat unique in that it's very concentrated and many of the problems are some of the best at the lake.

For years I tried to get directions to The Reserve and couldn't. I kept on hearing rumors about it, but never anything concrete. This was before any directions were posted on any websites and that info wasn't widely available. I had no real clue where it was and had these big, wild ideas that it was out in the middle of nowhere with a brutal, uphill slog.....both ways.

It was to my surprise, and joy, when Jason asked if I wanted to go out to the Burma Boulders and The Reserve. This was back in 2003 or so and I hadn't been to either one to actually climb, so I was beyond excited. There was so much history with both of the areas and I was so happy to finally climb at both for the first time.

Turns out that when you know where to go and how to get there, the hike isn't too bad. And it's worth every step. The problems are good, the landings are friendly and everything is super concentrated. Pretty much all of the rock is super slick and glassy but it offers a good lesson in precision.

The hike is about 35-45 minutes long depending on how fast you hike and is mostly on level ground that's easy on the legs. The trail itself is faint, at best, and can be tricky to navigate and even harder to actually stay on the trail. Take the trail with a grain of salt and think of it as a basic guideline, rather than a true trail.

To start out, park at the South Shore boat landing parking lot and walk to the right corner of the lot with your back facing the lake. You'll walk a couple hundred feet into the woods and you should see these:

This marks the start of the hike and is where the trail starts up. If you find these you have a better chance of finding the reserve than most do! Walk past both of these slabs of concrete and start looking for a very faint trail. There is a small trick as well, and I need to thank Jason for pointing this out to me during my first hike up there. Keep an eye out on trees for small black or faded orange spraypainted dots. Much like this one:

There are more of these right away and help you up the first hill and make life a little easier. Keep in mind that you more than likely will get lost a couple times. I've been there many times and got lost maybe 3-4 times on the way there and another couple times on the way back. Take it with a grain of salt.

As you go further and further into the woods you'll start to head a little more East(Left) and you'll be more on top of the South Bluff. You'll hopefully keep on seeing the occasional black dot like these:

I find that if I get off trail I normally need to trend left to get back on it. As long as you stay near the top of the bluff you'll end up hitting the Reserve. As you get closer the trail gets a little rockier and you'll start to see some more outcroppings of smaller boulders. After a while you'll come over a small rise and see this!

The Reserve itself is a nice bluff line with maybe the highest quality freestanding boulder in the immediate area. The Lake Boulder is absolutely classic and is worth the hike alone. There are classic problems from VB-VHard. All of them are within about 50 Yards of one another and most have great landings, especially for the lake.

If you end up going too far you'll hit a small talus field that is a couple minutes past the Reserve. You just need to double back and walk around a little.

I often forget how sandbagged that place is and then I go up and get a good thrashing. Same was true when Katie and I went back a few weeks ago. I got on a lunge problem that was apparently a V3 and it shut me down pretty well. The lack of friction and exact nature of the climbing is always interesting to climb on. To be honest, the Cave Traverse at Taylor's Falls felt more doable than this one. It's always humbling.

I hope this helps someone find the place. It's tricky, but well worth the effort.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

New Kicks, Movies and Bunnies

More on the mysterious blue shoes here at Kevin Jorgenson's site. They look cool and I'm definitely curious.

Weather is shaping up to be pretty nice this weekend. Might be able to finish up some projects before summer sets in after all.

Rocky Mountain Highball premiered last night and I'm waiting patiently for any reviews to be put up on the interweb. It seems I don't get as excited as I used to about new climbing flicks. Not sure if my attention span just isn't what it used to be.....or maybe I'm just getting more and more tired of "bro's". Who knows. Either way, I'm very excited to hear more about this one. It's something that's somewhat unique and the topic hasn't been overdone yet. Highballs are always fun to watch.

Katie and I are going climbing tonight and I'm excited. It's fun to be excited about something as simple as going to the gym for a night to hang out with friends. Motivation is always wavering through the long, cold winter and it's so nice to come out the other side with relatively few injuries.

Less can be said about Katie. She has a slight bunny bite on her right ring finger. Augustus got mad and tried to gnaw off her finger a couple nights ago. I'm not sure how something so small, and seemingly adorable, could house so much hatred, vitriol and anger. It's puzzling...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Stealth Paint

Justin has a pretty good post up on Five Ten's new Stealth Paint. Check it out here.

Katie and I have been excited to try the stuff out so it's nice to get another person's perspective on it. I'm expecting similar results to Justin as I was never good at the arts and crafts as a kid. I owned stick figures like no other....

Katie has a new pair of Scarpa's on their way to replace her old, blown out pair. I think we're both wondering if the Stealth Paint stuff will help out their one major weakness, the big toe knuckle. My pair of Boosters and her pair of Rockettes both blew out in the same spot and I've seen many others have the same exact weakness. Hopefully this stuff will work better than the "rubber glue" that we found at Farm and Fleet.

Rain destroyed all hope of climbing rocks this weekend and we were relegated to the gymnasium. I ate too much for breakfast at Tex Tubbs Taco Palace and proceeded to get a wicked flash pump. Then sat around for a solid three hours watching everyone else climb and complained about being pumped. Good times.

Weather is looking more promising for this weekend. Yay.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Weekend/ Reserve Guide

We're hoping to climb this weekend but the weather may have a different plan for us. Lets hope for good luck on that front. There are many, many projects that need to be completed and there is a pretty large, psyched group of people ready to go out to Dodge with us.

I'm also putting together a post about the Reserve and hope that it will be an all encompassing topic on the bouldering there. I want to get rid of all doubts about directions and what the climbing is like there. I know that there are many people who still want to keep it as much of a secret as possible and I disagree. You should see that next week though.

I'll hopefully have some pictures from this weekend should the weather hold up. There is so much I still need to do.....too many projects...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Taylors Falls, The Potholes

After a full day of working the Cave Traverse, Katie and I definitely needed a rest day. We wanted to play "tourist" and walk around the potholes for a little bit. It was fun and we got to mess around for the morning before we drove back down to Devil's Lake.

I will say that the Potholes were really cool and definitely fun to walk through for a while. There is a nice, self guided tour that you can walk yourself through and gives some good history on the area. It was also fun to check out the climbing over on the Minnesota side. It's VERY slick and VERY polished. It's a lot like Devil's Lake in that respect and seems like it'd be fun if we had some more time. Chances are that it'd be pretty frustrating for a while though, until you got used to the friction. Left of Lloyd's looked cool and somewhat my style. I'd be interested in getting up there again to try it out.

One thing that both Katie and I noticed were the multiple signs that explained climbing. I thought that was a nice touch that the park actually see climbers as a user group and makes an effort to educate people.

The best part of the morning might have been the half hour or so that we sat by the river watching a couple of climbers on a nearby wall. There were two climbers teaching another how to multi pitch. Taylors isn't exactly.....well.....huge, and the wall itself was only 40-50 feet tall. In the time we were there one of them scrambled up 10 feet of third class ledges and started building an anchor to bring the other two up. My guess is that they are still on the wall waiting for YOSAR to pick them up....

Here are a couple of shots from the morning.

She woulda fit if she wasn't scared that it was a bottomless pit

Most bomber toprope anchor ever built. This provided many, many laughs

Katie, walking on one of the trails through the potholes

Looking into the biggest known pothole at Taylors Falls....and looking very similar to the lady on the sign.....minus the dress

Katie is either very disapproving of getting her picture taken or trying her best to be a decide

Monday, April 20, 2009

Governor Dodge Radness

Katie, RV and I went out to Governor Dodge on Saturday hoping to clean up a couple of projects and catch the early morning weather window. I was a little worried that it'd be too hot and humid to really climb anything harder than V2. Glad I was wrong.

We drove straight to Deer Cove and went to Grounded For Life. This is another problem Katie had put in a decent amount of work on last fall and had most of the moves figured out. She just didn't have the juice to link it all. We ended the season there, with snow covering the topout on her final attempts.
Katie, last fall, trying to finish up Grounded for Life (V5) through the start of a snowstorm

After a few goes she had most of the moves figured out again and it was nice to see her put things back together rather quickly. She refined her beta and was linking through to the last hard move regularly, but couldn't seem to get it all to click. RV also put some solid work into it and figured out all the moves, save the finishing mantle, on his first go. After a bunch of efforts he sent this really cool problem.

I really think this is one of my favorite problems at Dodge. It helps that I've got it on lockdown now and I was able to repeat it, as well, to start off the day.

RV and I went up to a short two or three move project above grounded for life and started working on it. I had seen it last fall and was interested enough to give it a few tries. The wall itself is more overhanging that you expect and made everything harder than we expected. After a number of goes I started to make some serious efforts in gaining the second left hand hold. I had one really strong go and busted the left hand crimp off of the wall. Perfect.

I think this was actually the first hand hold I'd broken since I broke a hold off of Secret Agent Man. Oh well. Katie went down to try Grounded for Life again as RV and I searched for the broken hold. A minute or so later I heard Katie from down below. "Help...". She was starting to top out and I hurried down to give her a spot. She finished it up with no problem and ticked off her second "Fall Project" of the season! Well done! It was nice to have a group send of such a classic problem!
Katie, a few goes before the actual send, on Grounded For Life (V5)

After giving up for the day on my project we wanted to try and find Alpine Bouldering Club. Remo put up this line last summer/fall and it looked cool enough to try and find. We got lucky and found it first go! That seems to always be the real crux. I tried to get RV to try the problem first to leach some beta but he's smarter than that. We switched goes back and forth a few times and the problem kept feeling better. After 3 or 4 goes I sacked up and finished it up with a less than graceful topout. Not my finest moment, but I was glad to have done the problem so quickly.

My less than graceful topout on Alpine Bouldering Club (V6)

RV going for the first good crimp on Alpine Bouldering Club (V6)

RV gave some more goes but he was getting tired and I'm sure he'll finish it soon. I also tried the project to the right and while it's somewhat of an eliminate, it's still fun pulling on chickenheads at Dodge that don't just rip out of the wall. I wonder how long those are going to last.

On a separate note, Brian has spotted some super secret shoes from Five Ten. I'm glad to see their return but I am curious to see what they've changed on them. Nic, however, is pretty adamant that these shoes don't exist. I'm curious and want to hear more about them!!! Out with it!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Wisconsin Driving

On the drive up to Taylors Katie and I kept on noticing large animal statues on the side of the road. At each one, Katie would proceed to freak out a tiny bit, get really excited and insist that we stop on the way back to take a picture with said animal statue. After a little prodding I got into it and figured that we'd stop at three exits on the way back to take pictures with the animals. Hell, I figured it'd break up the drive a little bit. I had no clue how many we would actually find. I'm still is some amount of shock about it. Wisconsin is an interesting state, to say the least.

Katie and the Tin Man, just outside of Taylors Falls, at a Junk Yard, I think.

One of my personal favorites. The cul-de-sac with a stop sign. Love it!

Katie feeling up the giant Cowboy Mouse near Tomah. Mind you that this "welcome" sign is two plus hours from ANY Wisconsin border.

And the backside, for anyone who was wondering...

For those of you that don't know, the Cow Pie is a chocolate-y treat.

These next few are all from a furniture store in between Baraboo and the Dells. Yup, that's a bear with a gun.

And a Moose......

Katie isn't quite that small. I actually think this bed may be bigger than our current apartment. Scary.

Another Bear and another Moose just for good measure.

We found this little guy by accident when we got off the highway for a Dairy Queen. No wonder I don't climb any harder than I do.

The Tilt-A-House nearby Portage. Many thanks to Katie for seeing this one at 70 MPH on the highway. Almost missed it!

How could you possibly guess what's coming next?

Yup, a giant Elephant with eyeglasses....

At a Citgo, nonetheless.

And then we took a wrong turn and didn't get back on the highway. What should we find?? A big ol' cow at a cheese haus. Obviously.

Hard sit start on the udders to a brutal topout over the slopey bulge.

And there you have it. Mind you, this is WITHOUT stopping at another exit in Black River Falls that would have gotten us another 3-4 giant animals as well. I wrote down the wrong exit number. Oh well.

We're heading to Governor Dodge tomorrow if the weather holds off. Should be good.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Projects, Part Tres

I've gotten some good time in the Projects, both in the gym and on the real rocks, and they're growing on me. There are still one or two things that I dislike and wish Five Ten would change, but overall I really like them. It seems that each time I take them out I like them more. It's a nice trend.

I've definitely become accustomed to the sensitivity of the shoe and it's changed how I climb a little bit. For starters, I tend to switch between shoes more than I have in the past. I've always done that a little bit, but with the Projects it has taken on a new level. The amount of sensitivity that you get with the shoes is somewhat astounding and allows you to feel absolutely everything. It takes a while to get used to, for sure. They are definitely becoming a "go to" shoe for me in many cases. They are pretty perfectly suited next to the Testarossas and they complement each other very, very well.

As for the rubber, which a couple people have asked about, I'm not sure I see a ton of difference between any of the high performance rubbers. So much of how a shoe works is dependent on the shape and stiffness of a shoe. It would be interesting to get the Projects resoled in 2mm XS Grip and see what the difference would be. From what I've seen though, there isn't a huge difference between Mystique and other rubbers I've used. However, the Projects do seem to stick to mediocre footholds better than many other shoes I've used. I believe this is due to the sensitivity of the shoe, though, rather than the rubber.

So, what don't I like?? Well, they have a very narrow last for starters. The toe box is extremely low volume and I can see this shoe not fitting many people with wide feet. They feel better as they've stretched but I do think that they could widen the shoe to make it a more universal fit. They fit me fairly well so I don't seem to mind too much, really. I also don't like that the tongue of the shoe is really short. Minor complaint but it just sort of fits odd. Feels like a ballet slipper.....not that I'd know what one felt like, but I can assume.

The main problem that I have with the Projects is the Velcro system they've used. Velcro is a pretty basic thing and I'm not sure how they managed to not get it right. What happens on both of my shoes, and maybe this is an anomaly, is that the velcro straps bunch up and move to one end of the metal "D" ring. As a result the metal ring moves around and hits the top of my foot weird. Maybe I'm the only one that has this happen but it's something that's easily fixed. Just use a similar system as the Anasazi Velcro and it'd be a non issue.

And thanks to Katie for sending me a picture from our trip that tells the story better than I could

Both the fit and the tongue are minor issues and I don't really care about them. I feel pretty strongly that the Velcro could be greatly improved and the shoe would be better for it.

I'll be sure to post up a couple more of these reviews as durability starts to come into play. I've noticed normal wear and tear so far and nothing bad except that some of the rand has started to delaminate a little bit. Not a big deal though.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Taylors Falls, Pharoah Boulder

After lunch we tossed all of our stuff down to the base of the Pharoah Boulder. The Pharoah Boulder actually makes up the landing for the Cave Boulder so it was really easy to just drop everything over the edge and walk down to a nice landing. I found this very entertaining. Maybe too much, actually.

Katie set to work on Pharoah Right and figured out the top moves really quickly. I always like watching Katie work through beta. She rarely gets to use the "standard" beta because she is 5 feet and 1/2 inches tall with a minus two ape index. She's really good at figuring out her own way of working through things and doesn't use the short excuse as much as many other taller people do. If I were any smaller than I am right now I'd be doling out the short excuse as much as I possibly could. I like excuses though.

Both of the Pharoah problems share the same start holds and first move. It's kind of a weird rockover into a gaston. After you match that hold, you start to get into better and better holds the whole way through. Katie was able to do the first move after finding some sort of motivation and topped out one or two goes after that. My send was MUCH less graceful and involved some awkward, dead vertical campusing with the always useful "chest smear". Not my finest moment of the day.

I also put in a few uninspired tries on Pharoah's Arete. It's basically a one move wonder to get your butt off the ground and into the juggier holds up top. It's too bad because the stand start is actually really fun climbing on huge holds. The one hard move down low just kinda ruins the fun. Oh well.

Stay tuned for more.....

Monday, April 13, 2009

Taylors Falls, Cave Traverse

And the verdict is.....pretty cool.

With the weather looking more and more horrible, Katie and I drove up to Taylors Falls last Thursday. We'd gotten some good beta from Nic and also some from Mountain Project.

Brian had gone up to Taylors last fall and seemed to be particularly excited about the Cave Boulder. It looked really cool in pictures and video and we went to check it out at the end of the first day. We were tired and didn't try anything Thursday night, just touched holds and tried to figure out as much beta as we could.

We came back the second day and warmed up on the jugs on the left side of the boulder. It's an interesting combination of fairly low friction and overhanging holds. All of the warm ups were basically just jumping around on really big, fun holds. I liked it. Move by move Katie and I started to figure out the opening sequence. Katie definitely did better than I did on this and figured out beta for herself pretty quickly. I was scared of the super sharp heel hook and figured out a way around that! Crafty!!
Katie cruising the opening moves on the Cave Traverse (V8)

I had expected the crux to be the "drop down" move and was planning on taking a lot of time to work that one out. It was a nice surprise when I stuck that move on the third try or so! I actually spent more time figuring out a sequence through the final section of cruxy moves. It took some gusto and one crafty toe hook but I had all of the moves figured out by mornings end.

We took a break to eat a little bit and to try some problems on a boulder just down the hill. All of the problems were fun and it was nice to climb a little bit. It's always nice to complete stuff. More to come on that later, though.

We came back up to try the traverse when it came into the sun a little. I was still a little nervous about any sort of links that I was going to try. I felt pretty insecure about the first half of the traverse as it all felt pretty desperate in the morning. It was to my surprise that the links went pretty well. I was able to link through to the last, truly hard move for me on the second or third effort and got really close the next time too. Each time I was able to link into, and through, the drop move and the moves were even more fun in sequence.

It's always a nice surprise when this happens. In the end, though, I didn't send. Both of us are excited to come back and try to finish it either this summer or next fall. I'll have more on the trip later this week. It was so nice to get out of Madison for a while. So nice.

Friday, April 10, 2009


We're at Taylors now and climbed a little bit yesterday. Spent some time on Mike's Left and tried to spend some time on Mike's right but we were apparently too far right and not on the problem. Who knew?

We're heading out to the Cave Boulder today and looking forward to it. We walked over to take a look at it yesterday after we were done for the day. It's definitely cool and we're more excited about it than Mike's Boulder. Someone was climbing when we got there. Scott I think. He gave us some good beta on which lines were what and there are a bunch of things we both want to get on.

Should be fun. I hope I don't lose Katie in a pothole.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Weather Sucks

So the weather in So Ill looks heinous this weekend. We're looking for other options right now and I need beta for Taylors Falls and Duluth.

Are either of these places good options for a few days of bouldering??

Are they any good??

Which is better and can we get a tour maybe???

Most importantly, what should we get on????


Monday, April 6, 2009

First Time 'Round

We made our way out to Governor Dodge on Saturday. Both Katie and I had great days and it was nice to get back out there. We started off on Hangman and Highly Executed. We both spent many days on these last fall while we were getting back into shape so we were kind of curious what they'd feel like after a winter full of training.

Things felt good! It was a nice surprise.

It helped that conditions were the best I'd seen in a long, long time. Friction was top and temps were perfect. Katie figured out her beta for Hangman pretty quickly and was getting closer with each attempt. It was fun to watch her re-work through the beta that she had absolutely dialed in last fall. Her confidence and comfort are at a different level than before and it's fun to have watched that change take place. She's much more comfortable making the somewhat awkward throw up to the finish jug on Hangman and got really close with her tips just barely touching the lip.

She didn't quite send that day but will do it very very soon. Mark my words. It will be rad.

While Katie was working Hangman I spent some time throwing myself at Highly Executed. Last Fall I had gotten shut down rather properly on the "meathook match" move. I reworked the feet a little bit and after a bit of work and a number of falls, started to try the move again. To my surprise I did the move first or second go. Figured out the rest of the moves shortly after that and started to link it. True to my agenda for this season, I got to the last move 3 times and fell each time. Oh well. Like always, it'll go next time....right?

With our skin thoroughly thrashed we went over to one of the sharpest problems at Dodge, Split Personality. This was another problem that Katie had used to get back in shape while spending multiple days on it refining her beta. In about 8 goes on saturday she dispatched of it rather quickly. Well done! Progression is always welcome.

We're heading down to So Ill on thursday of this week and I can't wait. Body Karate is going to get a workout and I'm very psyched.

On a totally different note, I used my projects on Saturday and was very, VERY surprised by how well they worked. More to come on that later....