Friday, July 31, 2009

New Stuff!

Alright, so on to the cool stuff that I saw at OR. It seemed that most manufacturers were pretty quiet and reserved this year, but the stuff that did come out looked way cool and was pretty revolutionary for their product line.

I sadly don't have any pictures right now. Boo.

I'll start out with a quick Jetboil plug cause I really like those guys and think they do an awesome job. Back in June I learned about something that was still in prototype stage that sounded pretty cool and unique. One of the big hangups with canister stoves is not being able to safely recycle the canisters. JB designed a tool that you screw on to an empty, or almost empty, canister that allows all of the excess gas out safely. Then you just press down on another part of the tool and it'll puncture it for you, allowing you to recycle the canister as you would an Aluminum can! Very cool in my eyes. It has an added bonus of a beer opener as well!

On to shoes! Five Ten has sort of stepped it up for Spring 10. Most, if not all, of you know about the "Team Shoe" that they are coming out with. I, for one, am supremely excited about the shoe as it's a well thought out replacement for the now defunct V10. It has nicely cut toe rubber covering the top with a 3.5 mm Mystique outsole. It will have a light midsole in the forefoot and looks to be the same basic last that we all saw on the original velcro Dragon. It does have a redesigned heel cup which is much nicer and a nice velcro strap over the top.

It looks like there is going to be an initial launch of 510 pairs this fall, sometime in September or October it seems. We'll see how that goes. I'm definitely excited to get my hands on a pair after trying on an 8.5 at the show. I'm not sure if I'd go with that or an 8. I really just need to steal Nic's pair and then I'll be all set...

La Sportiva came out with a couple new approach shoes as well as a lace up version of the Katana. While it looks nice I don't see why they got rid of the Barracuda and replaced it with this one. The Speedster is going to be making its long awaited U.S. debut sometime in August it seems and I know a few people who are very excited about that.

Scarpa defied all logic and didn't fix the toe caps on the Booster, Rockette and Stix. It does seem that the Stix is going to go away though for Spring 2010. They've got a new linup of mid range shoes that are designed with edging in mind and a few people are pretty excited about them. I'm still left with a little bit of disappointment though.

There were numerous hold companies dotting the hallways and a few of them had some very cool ideas. Got to chat with the guys from the DRCC and I really like what they've done with some of their holds. The Dual Tex stuff is very impressive, to say the least.

On the hardware side of things DMM's new Dragon Cams made the biggest name for themselves. They are VERY polished, VERY smooth and VERY worthwhile.

Josh at Organic had what looked to be more of a circuit pad in the booth and the few backpacks he had there were really nice. One of his employees made a full mountain landscape on one pack and it was impressive.

I'm sure I'm missing a TON of stuff but that's all I can think of right now. I ended up bailing on the comp at the last minute and went to dinner with friends instead. SOLID choice and very happy I did so. Hanging out with cool people and eating good food trumps watching people climb plastic when it's 102 out. The comp walls were left baking in the sun and I can't even imagine how much it must have sucked to climb in that heat.

Thai food on the other hand was yummy!

I did manage to stumble past the screening of Progression on the third day and in the quick peek I had of Tommy on El Cap and Sharma on Jumbo Love was impressive to say the least. VERY well done and real polished and nice. I'm looking forward to seeing the full flick. Should be good.

Climbing got rained out yesterday and looks like it's gonna get rained out tomorrow too. Damn.

More soon.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


As most of you know I was out in Salt Lake City at Outdoor Retailer last week. I got in Sunday morning and was instantly blown away by the 102 degree temps. It was a rough awakening coming from 65 degrees and cloudy the day before in Wisco. We went to a grocery store to get food and beer and then had a couple of afternoon meetings. It's always fun seeing new product and friends you haven't seen in a while.

I took it easy on Monday and trolled the show floor before it opened on Tuesday. I'm always blown away by how big of an expanse it is and how many vendors are tucked into the far corners of the building. It's impressive how many companies are out there trying to make it in the outdoor industry. It's almost getting to a saturation level that's hard to comprehend. So much crap.

Alongside all of the crap and gimmicky products, you've got other companies who are doing an amazing job and producing a phenomenal product that actually serves a segment of the market and fills a need. They make quality products and don't inundate the market with useless crap.

People like Josh and Liz at Organic Climbing and everyone at Mission Ranch Packs.

I'm sure most everyone who reads this thing knows about Organic Climbing and is somewhat familiar with them at least. The resounding theme with Organic is that it's all made to last. They don't pump out pads with cheap foam and thin fabrics like most companies do. Everything is hand made in the US with the best foam you can find and ballistic fabrics that will outlast everything else on the market.

The price difference between Organic and all the other companies on the market isn't huge and in many cases they actually come in cheaper than the competitors. Plus you won't bottom out your pad. I've had the joy of bottoming out someone else's brand new Mad Rock Pad and I don't want to relive that again. Quality matters.

One of the things I like the most about Organic is the attention to the very small stuff. Last week all of us starting talking about "made in usa" and what that actually means. In the midst of it all Josh got visibly flustered and said "Do you guys know how hard it is to find 'Made in the USA' tags that are actually MADE IN THE USA?". What shined through was how much he cared about putting out the best possible product that would outperform everything on the market and not break down with a weeks worth of use.

I think it's appreciated by everyone who owns one.

On a different side of the industry is a company called Mystery Ranch. I first learned about them last week after they stopped by the Organic booth while we were all drinking beers at the end of the day. Dana Gleason, formerly of Dana Designs, runs this incredible company out of Bozeman Montana. While I don't know too much about them, what I've learned is pretty cool.

Everything they do is designed with an eye toward lasting forever and being useful. They use ballistic fabrics and beefy zippers that won't break. They also design a TON of military packs customized specifically for military use. Instead of just busting out their standard daypacks in camo they've actually put thought and effort into what they do. Crazy!

I encourage everyone to take a look at their website and check out the packs. In particular take a look at the 3Zip system. Very cool! Look here: Mystery Ranch

I'll have a little more on my time in Salt Lake soon and possibly even some climbing! We'll see if the weather holds though.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Punching Bag

I'm done peddling my wares at OR in Salt Lake now and I'm ready to give everyone the updates. But first we have some climbing to talk about!

The day before I left for SLC we had a nice group head out to the lake. Somehow the weather found a way to drop down to 65 degrees on Saturday and we couldn't waste that weather in July!!!

Katie and I met Gabe, Aaron and RV at boulders and went out to find Anchorpoint.

Well, first things first. I have to reserve a little bit of space for our own little punching bag, RV. He's one of my best friends and takes the punishment better than anyone else I know. Most times it’s not his fault but sometimes he goes above and beyond and gives me material that I couldn’t even try to make up on my own. He went and did it again on Saturday when he gave himself a haircut the night before. Grim.  

It was kind of like a mullet....sorta...

He thankfully shaved it later on Saturday night but the damage has been done. Sorry, RV. I had to.

Alright. Back to climbing. We made our way up to Anchorpoint to find Mr. Eggbert at the boulders having already repeated Anchorpoint. He went on to repeat the problem again to show us his beta and finally a third time to get pictures! Burly! He claims it’s his new favorite at the lake now. Well done! By the time he was done he was bloodied and bruised though.

We warmed up and tried a couple of the problems there with Anchorpoint getting relatively few attempts. Everyone was more focused on the more moderate problems, it seemed. I took a few minutes and cleaned off a phenomenal new traverse that climbs on slopers to a pumpy finish. Very cool and definitely worthwhile. Everyone took some laps on that and we packed up for the next area.

RV on his send go, I believe

Aaron getting oh so rad

Gabe also getting rad

I was able to coerce the group into letting me go up to Alpine Club and try it a few times. I couldn’t have gotten better conditions in July if I’d asked for it! I did remember how finicky the right hand was though and it seemed great on some goes and heinous on others. Towards the end of my time on it though it cooled off about 5 degrees and you could feel it get better out. I gave it three super solid attempts and got closer than I’ve ever gotten to it. I think I was just getting too excited.

Oh well. For once the problem feels very doable for me. Can’t wait for temps!!!

RV looks very unimpressed at my failures

Yup.  We're awesome.

A cloudy day at the DL

After that we drove over to the North Shore parking lots and hiked up to Venus Rising. I was planning on sitting out that part of the day but got sucked back in after RV FINALLY re-sent Venus Rising. He’s looking strong right now and it’s probably good that he’s going to India for a month so I can build up a sizable advantage upon his return.

A few minutes before the eventual send

Gabe, Katie and Aaron continued to siege the boulder and got closer and closer as they went along. Gabe made great progress on it and was close to getting ready to throw for the dish. Aaron seemingly should have finished the problem 8 or 9 times by now but somehow landed on the pads each time.

Aaron looking just absurdly close on Venus Rising

Katie, not believing that he didn't get it

Katie’s got some weird finger issues going on right now from Anchorpoint and seems to have the bottom of Venus Rising figured out. The long reach to the double crimps is testing her right now but I think she’ll be in good shape once she gets there since the high feet won’t be quite as high as they are for everyone else.

I got on and gave it some really solid efforts and somehow got all four of my fingers into the topout dish. Sadly my fingers forgot how to grab and I fell off pretty quickly. I felt as good as I’ve ever been on it though and it’s definitely added onto the Birthday Challenge.

A nice little sequence of one of my many failures.  Thanks RV.

I still can’t believe how good the weather has been this summer for climbing! 65 in JULY!!!!! Absurd.

Here are some more pictures for you to peruse.

Aaron being awesome

RV covered up his haircut with Katie's cute.

Katie thought this was hilarious.  Packing at the north shore.


Aaron looking all sultry and stuff

Chris's hands after Anchorpoint

RV trying to imitate Aaron

An old soup can below Anchorpoint

Katie and Gabe taking a nap at Alpine Club

Sorry RV, I had to.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Revisitation Period

In the Fall of 2005 Peter De Salvo took 8 of us on a tour of the West Bluff. We were gonna start on the top at the fire road and just go from there. We had 9 pads, tons of spotters and all day to mess around. We climbed a bunch of classic moderates on the fire road and then did the problems on the 45 degree boulder.

I'd always heard of these boulders but had never been so I couldn't have been happier to be there. After the 45 we walked down the giant talus field, with much trepidation, and finally made it to the problem that would eventually become Anchorpoint.

It had been a project that Peter had worked on a little bit before so we were all psyched to try it! We chalked up some slopers and some crimps and went to work. After about a half hour of getting nowhere Kelsen stepped up to the plate and figured out the key piece of beta that was missing. Maybe 10 minutes later Peter pulled through for the first ascent. He called it Anchorpoint after the beta that eventually helped him send.

I followed up quickly after that with the second ascent and was happy to have gotten through it. We eventually moved on to see Alpine Club which began another long winded saga as well but I'll leave that for another day. A few days after that we all came back and Kelsen pulled out the third ascent. That was the last time anyone had been on the problem. Until yesterday.

Remo, RV and Dobbe all went up to the area with some directions I put up on Mountain Project and they sessioned the area. They all came back super positive about all the problems they got on but they were wondering about Anchorpoint. Was the detached block on? Was it actually that good? Was it that hard?

I couldn't wait to get back up there just so I could answer those questions for myself. I was really hoping that Anchorpoint would hold up its status. I had always remembered it as super fun and classic and I was really scared, for some reason, that it'd turn out to be a one star choss pile.

4 of us went up to check it out last night, including RV again, and I'm glad we went. As soon as we got there we tossed the pads under it and started giving some effort. RV had tried it a little bit earlier in the day without the block and thought he'd figured out some new beta. I tried it once my way and both RV and Katie had the "Oooooohhhhhhhhhh" reaction that we all had when Kelsen did the move back in 2005.

RV trying out his own beta before he abandoned that

I came off at the crux pull but felt good about it. I wanted to try some other beta though. RV was using a hold we hadn't and had some fancy foot switches that he was working on. Katie figured out her own beta entirely and looked strong in doing so, even if she denies it.

While RV's beta seemed to work I still wanted to do it the original way. I don't like switching my feet that much. I guess I'm just too lazy. One more go with the original beta and I almost had it! Next go for sure. I pulled on, grabbed the crux crimp, started to lock off and slapped for the sloper! Done!! I sketched my way to the top and came down.

I can't tell you how good it felt to climb Anchorpoint again. Still one of my favorites at the lake! RV and Katie worked it back and forth for another half hour or so and RV was getting super close to doing it! Eventually he gave it two goes with my beta and came insanely close to slapping the sloper but needed a break. I went off and did both of the corner routes again, both super fun, and then we moved the pads back to Anchorpoint.

RV pulled on first go and looked as solid as we'd seen him but he didn't get the crimp good. He came down, brushed the holds and gave it one last go. He hit every hold perfect, pulled up and hit the sloper! Done!!! He topped out and came down with a smile. It was so good to see him top something out finally!!!!! Well done!!!!!

We both agreed it was classic and last night really cemented how good the problem is in my head. I won't share the beta on here because I don't want to ruin anyone's climbing but if you want to know what it is just send me a note or talk to me in person. I'd be happy to share it that way.

We're going to try to take advantage of a nice cold snap tomorrow and head back up to the west bluff area in the morning. I'll try to get some posts up next week but I'm going to be in Salt Lake at the OR show. Hopefully I'll be at the comp on Tuesday. The walls look sick!!!!

Waiting for the ferry driver to get back from the bathroom...and a pig on our door lock

Katie and RV on the ferry on our way back home

'Nuff said

Thursday, July 16, 2009


On Sunday the three of us made the trip up to the lake again to try and finish off Venus Rising. After the hike up I gave it one go without a warm up and quickly limped my way over to Shawn's Slab to climb a couple things first.

While I was topping out I heard Katie yelling at RV for a couple seconds and then the tell tale silence after a fall. Apparently RV hiked his foot way the hell up and was centimeters from doing the problem again! As we found out through the rest of the night RV gave his best go right away. Sad. He should do it next time, but he always seems to find new ways to surprise me.

Katie gave it some more goes and ended up finding a weird toe cam for the first couple of moves. We were all pretty tired though and were climbing somewhat half heartedly.

After a bit we packed up and hiked over to Sex and Chocolate. I'd split the top of my finger somehow during the previous day and it only took one go before I knew it wasn't going to happen that night. RV also gave two or three goes and we packed up and headed back to the car in the dark.

While it was fun to get out again it was still a little demoralizing considering how tired we all were. My flash was being difficult so I didn't take too many pictures. Here are a few from the day before though!

It looks like we're gonna head up to Anchorpoint later on this afternoon. I'll try to take a bunch of pictures!

Gives some perspective to the climb.  The direct is a project still.

Katie looking strong on the first move

Chris, right before he sent

Sorry RV, I had to...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Slow and Steady Climbs the Rock

After we were sufficiently frustrated on Bark Biter we packed up our things and walked over to Sex and Chocolate. I was particularly interested because it'd been so long since I'd been on it. For those of you that don't know, S & C climbs up a blunt arete on really bad slopers and crimps. With a height of maybe 15 feet to the big break it's still only about 4-5 moves depending how you do it. A really big dyno or a long, drawn out mantle are the only ways around the final big move.

We layed our pads down, booted up and promptly got shut down. I made it to my last high point with relative ease and soon we were working on the big move again. A couple times I was able to stack my middle finger onto my index finger and start to tenuously ease my way up but each time my ass would pull me back down.

RV, Katie and I sat there confused, wondering if there was any other way. We just couldn't see the movement. It was just how I remembered it from a couple years ago.

A few minutes later though a good friend of ours came around the corner. Chris was gonna save the day for sure! He put his shoes on and promptly got to the same spot as us. He did seem to have his foot a little better than either RV or I though. It seemed like every go he got a little closer to standing up and pretty soon he was starting to throw a little. Chris got close a couple of times but needed a break.

We all sat on the rock hoping he'd pull it together and step it up for the group. We were ALL about the group send at that point. We totally helped.....but only if he did it.

He pulled on, placed his foot and with seemingly no effort at all mantled past the balance point and just stood there for a second completely extended. Then he just sort of reached up and grabbed the finishing jug. Rather anticlimactic if you ask me. He made it look like it was V1!

He came down and I gave him some quick history on the problem and let him know that he is probably the only person in the last 5 years or so to have done it. There have been some VERY strong climbers that have gotten royally shut down on this problem and I was so happy to have seen it completed.

All in all this past Saturday was one of the better days we've had climbing this summer. The wind was blowing through really nicely and it felt like fall out there. On top of that, it was beyond cool to see three separate groups make their way up to the area to boulder! I think that might have been the best part of the day for me! As many of you know I've been trying really hard to inject some life into the bouldering at the lake because I really do think it's just so so good! I'm glad to see more people out there climbing! I love it!!!

Sunday night Katie said something about how nice it was that she was marrying the bouldering guidebook for the lake. I dunno about that but it made me laugh.

More to come tomorrow and hopefully with pictures this time!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

After hiking up to the Monolith Area this past Thursday, Katie really wanted to head back and try some of the problems up there. We picked up RV at Boulders and made our way up to the Merrimac Ferry. I've grown to really love taking the ferry and we haven't gotten completely sandbagged yet. Plus, there's Ice Cream on the way back.

We got to the Lake and were surprised at how few people were up there at 10:00 on a Saturday morning. Surprising to say the least. There was a really nice breeze coming off the lake and we were hopeful that it'd make it's way up to the boulders. After a nice slow hike up to the area(Remo, you hike much too fast for our tastes) we dropped our pads at the warm up boulder and couldn't have been happier that there was a strong breeze coming through the entire area.

After waiting for a stick bug to pass we warmed up a little bit. Our wind was blowing away all of the bugs and it was surprisingly pleasant out. No bug juice, no swatting and more importantly, very little sweating.

A tough to see stick bug.  Katie liked it a lot.

We found our way over to Venus Rising and Bark Biter, moved the pads around a bit and I got ready to take a few pictures. RV decided that he wanted to run up the slab to the right of Bark Biter quick. With surprising quickness RV botched the sequence and started sweating a bit. Katie, somewhat jokingly, pulled a half pad over to cushion him should he fall. He ended up eventually sketching his way up the thing but along the way I snapped this shot of him looking very confused.

With that absurdity out of the way we got down to bidness! Kind of. I'd heard rumors that my key foothold of radness had broken off and I was expecting to try and figure out different beta. Well, it was still there but I ended up doing the moves in a completely new manner. I will say, though, that when that little left foot does eventually break off we are ALL massively screwed and the problem will be so much harder!!!

Katie started working out the moves and made reasonably quick progress on it, figuring out the first couple moves very fast. Instead of using the firs left hand pinch as a, well, pinch she's using it as some crazy sidepull "lobstah craw" grip. Weird, but it works for her. She has now gotten stupidly close to sticking the crimp multiple times and she should be at the same spot as RV and I soon. I'm predicting a First Female Ascent sometime later this summer or fall.

Katie using the "Craw" technique.  Super effective.

Katie and I were both blown away by how obscenely wired RV has the moves on this thing wired. Well.....all but one that is. He makes the climbing up into the crimp look like V0. It's very impressive to watch, to say the least. We're both having troubles with the last move though. I think that we've both figured out our own beta that will work. I'm hoping to get this one figured out again and toss it on to the final Birthday Challenge list.

RV getting about as close as possible on Venus Rising.

None of us actually sent the problem but I had forgotten how good Venus Rising really is. It really reminded me how good the climbing is at the lake. Such good problems and it's always nice to climb and not have anything break under you. We'll have our second installment of "Slow and Steady Wins the Race" tomorrow. Just a teaser but the problem below gets sent by someone....