Thursday, December 3, 2009

End Of A Good Season

Chris trying, and failing, to get a better look at Alpine Club.

Yesterday marked the end of my bouldering season for the year. At the end of October while setting for the comp at Boulders I started to feel a dull pain at the base of my left ring finger. I obviously ignored it and tried to climb through it but it only got worse over the past month. After talking to RV a little bit and looking at the excellent training and injury site on Nicros's website I was able to figure out that it was a partially torn A2 Pulley.

I decided that Wednesday would be my last day for the year and I'm gonna take a month to month and a half off. I want it to heal and I want to come back strong and injury free. Should be interesting to see how I fare.

With all that in mind, I was able to round up a really good crew for Wednesday and we had a fantastic time. Katie decided to sit this one out in fear of actually freezing to a boulder. Early forecasts indicated a high of about 35 degrees and we were ready for the worst. The actual high temps came in at a rather nice 39 degrees and the four of us had a phenomenal day.

After a nice ferry ride up Chris, Dobbe, Remo and I hiked up to Anchorpoint to warm up a little. We lapped the classics there and we each took multiple turns on the Trust Fund slab. I love that wall. We all talked about how lucky we are with the bouldering at the lake and I couldn't agree more. We're spoiled.

Chris on one of his many 'Steve forced me so he could take pictures' laps.

I flailed on Intercourse Arete and got a bit worried for the day. It was a funny moment though as I came off of the topout. Grim start, to say the least.

We hiked down the talus and over to Beautiful Soup. As most of you know, Keymaker was high on my list and I was beyond excited to try it from the start. Setting up the pads I had to actively calm myself down as I was getting too nervous.

Organic shout out.  Might be the best landing ever seen at the lake.  And the most colorful!

We got everything set and brushed and I had no choice but to start off the day. I pulled on and the moves on the traverse felt good. I was happy to make the big move to the start hold on Beautiful Soup first go but as I pulled harder on my left hand I could feel my tweaky tendon fighting back. I grabbed the high crimp but came off in fear of hurting my finger even more. I was worried that my day was done and took a quick break.

Chris and Remo started trying Beautiful Soup and Chris got warmed up to the crux move again. Remo FINALLY tried my beta and came down happy, knowing that it'd work for him.

I chalked up again and worked my way through the traverse and again the long move felt easy. My finger felt good as I moved my feet around and the crimp felt fantastic. I stepped up into the undercling and stuck the jump move first go! Not sure I've ever been this surprised to stick a move I've done before!! I threw up a high right heel and tried to calm myself down. For whatever reason the high right felt super uncomfortable as I tried to go up to the first crimp past the rail.

I tried once, but came back to the rail and chalked up. I tried again but came up short, again coming back to the rail. I could tell I was getting fatigued and gave it one more effort but couldn't hold on when I finally reached it and came crashing to the pads.

SO PSYCHED!!!!!!!!!! I 100% did not expect to link to the rail. So very happy!!!! I took a nice break to calm down and watched Remo and Chris throw themselves at Beautiful Soup. Chris stuck the rail a couple times but each time couldn't figure out what to do at the end.

I chalked up and set for another go at Keymaker. Once more I made it through the traverse but as I was reaching up for the crimp my right foot blew off. I could feel my muscles getting more and more tired and sat down to take a break. One more go was all I had in me from the start and I didn't even make the long move at the end of the traverse.

Needless to say I was disappointed that I couldn't get another chance to try and link Keymaker together but I was still so happy that I had one really good go. The problem is doable and will go next year for sure!

While we were sitting around I mentioned to Remo that we could probably boost each other up to the rail to figure out the moves and he took me up on the offer. The three of us grabbed his ass and pushed him to the rail, laughing the whole time. Hilarious!

The three of us were taking turns getting boosted up to the rail with Chris and Remo trying to figure out Beautiful Soup and me trying to figure out Keymaker. I quickly found out that it was easier for me to just campus the move off of the rail to the first crimp and then get the right heel up. On my last try I campus'd the first move and got two fingers on the second crimp before I came off. PSYCHED!!

Next year.

In that time Remo had figured out amazing V5 beta for the exit move and they started trying it again from the start. I grabbed my camera and watched as Chris gave it a go.

Sticking the rail no problem...

Coming over to the double meathooks...

Matching the lousy crimp no problem...end in sight....

BOOM!  Finished!!!

Right after that last picture was taken Chris rolled over onto the sloping ledge and promptly got scared. He eventually made it down ok but it was funny nonetheless.

Dobbe pushed me in the right direction and told me I should just finish Beautiful Soup and leave Keymaker for another day. Without trying their finish beta I stepped up to give Beautiful Soup some effort. I stuck the rail and even though I stacked my fingers on the hold, the move itself felt somewhat trivial. It felt easy. Like there was no way I couldn't stick it. It was a great feeling to have.

I traversed the rail but instead of meathooking like Remo and Chris I crossed on it. This put me in a worse position and after I matched the high crimp I had issues setting my feet correctly. I shifted my weight and rolled over for the finish jug and just as I had my hand on it, down I came.

All I remember was screaming 'PUNT!' as loud as I could. I could not believe it!! Dobbe calmed me down nicely and after a minute or so I stepped up again, determined not to come down this time.

Each move felt perfect. Almost too good. It felt like I'd done it a million times before. We all have those moments every now and then when things just feel easy. It's a phenomenon for me and I still don't understand it. I saw Beautiful Soup for the first time in 2004 on Todd's Birthday Challenge and I tried it for the first time in the fall of 2005. I fully expected to do it that fall. There was no doubt in my mind. I'd do it and then move on to bigger and better challenges.

I was obviously wrong and spent some amount of time on it each of the subsequent years. Every time I made the hike up there I came down empty handed, wondering if I'd ever finish it off. Doubting myself and my abilities. Even after I finally stuck the jump move earlier this month I had to walk down the talus thinking about how I failed to finish it, yet again.

This problem meant so much to me and I invested so much of myself into doing it and thinking about it that I didn't know what to do with myself when I matched the crimp for the second time yesterday. I brought my left hand up and it felt like a jug. It was a perfect moment. I leaned over and grabbed the finish jug and let out a yell. It's a moment I won't soon forget.

I came down and couldn't take the smile off of my face. It was totally unexpected and a highlight of my season. I don't think I could have ended my season any better.

We walked down and threw some pads under Alpine Club. Dobbe had been saving himself in hopes of doing that thing. He'd tried it once in the summer but was really hoping the cooler temps would make it feel a bit better.

Sadly, it seems that cooler temps don't really help that miserable sloper. Dobbe had multiple very close attempts and the picture below has him basically on the hold. I'm not really sure how he didn't do it then.

Starting Alpine Club.

Dobbe nearly sticking the crux.  So close!!!

Chris tried it a couple times and wants to come back to try it some more. I'm excited to work it next year with renewed enthusiasm.

After that we took a quick trip over to Massive Vertigo. Everyone was keen on trying out the new Knee Pad beta that Nic and Jeff made so popular.

First up was Dobbe. On his first go he fell going to the juggy sloper at the end! So close to a flash! He tried some weird beta on his second try and then satched it up on his third go. Quick work!


He passed the knee pad to Chris who promptly flashed the rig. He made it look easy. I was getting inspired!!


Remo stepped up next and did it on his first go! So much easier than the heel hook!!!


Well, I was all excited to try it out again and finish this thing up. I mean I didn't want to be the only punter, did I??? I chalked up and did the first two moves. They felt good but the right hand felt a little greasy. I kept telling myself, just get the next hold and it'll be over. Then, out of nowhere, as I was getting my heel up my right hand dry fired off of the first crimp.

You know, the sharp incut one. What the fuck?

"I'm done."

I laid there for a few minutes in a pile of numb fingers and self pity. Thanks to Remo for grabbing my puffy and putting it over me. At least I think it was Remo. Not sure as I had my eyes shut.

Just before I came off.

Note the middle finger.  They were making fun of me.

I don't know if I've felt pain like that in a long long time. My fingers were still tingling later that night and I've got two bruises/blood blisters on my right hand. Hands down the worst dry fire I've ever had.

And that was it! We packed up our things and hiked down looking at projects the whole way. The potential of this place struck me one last time and I can't wait for next year.

Yesterday was such a perfect way to end the year. Perfect temps, a good crew and lots of sending. Things got done.

As I sit here snow is falling in Madison and while some people will still be able to get out again I'm pretty happy with how things went this year. I never thought I'd see this much interest in bouldering at the lake. It makes me so happy to see.

I'll leave you with two pictures. Remo, guys should know better by now...


  1. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Knee pad. Where does one acquire a knee pad? Tho sweaty will never speak to me again. Hmm. Could be worth it. Have to think about that one. NICE SEND STEVE and you too Remo and Dobbe. ce

  2. A great season indeed! Great work out there and congrats to all of you on your day. As for me I'm going to find warmer pastures 44 and sunny in So Ill on Saturday. Day and a half trip it is for me. Have fun with the snow sucka's!!!

    p.s. I think Dobbe should try my beta for Alpine Club. He's burly and I'm certain he could do it my way easy!

  3. Chris got his knee pad from somewhere in colorado. not sure where. If he remembers i'll let you know. It definitely makes that move way easier. by a lot. You can also make one pretty easily too.

    HAve fun down in so ill sweaty!! hope the weather plays nice. I think dobbe tried your beta once or twice but it never felt really good for him.

  4. word. It's a body positioning thing you have to focus on leaning left as you go so you make that sidepull really good. I will try my best to do the crushing.

    You working on getting that whole current comment thing going on your home page? You have plenty of time now since you're not climbing :-)


  5. Great day out there Steve. Glad you finished up Beautiful Soup to finish off the season. Now we can train hard this winter and send the rest of the projects come spring.

    Sweaty- have a good time in SO ILL, keep us posted on how the trip goes.

    Cheers everyone to a fun 09' season. If sunday is at all warm the Lake, it would be fun to get out. I will keep in touch.


  6. I can make a knee pad for 50$ just e-mail me.


  7. Remo did you get out? Sadly I pretty much couldn't, or wouldn't, so cold what with the Boy also and all... Hope you did tho. Left something at the gym for ya. Or at least I gave it to the kid who looks like Ozzy's son (wild hair). ce

  8. Hmm, $50 sounds ok, but then to raise Sweaty's ire and also to pretty much flat-out admit that I really am a boulderer. Lemme think about it Nic. ce

  9. Or you can order a knee pad from Rock and Resole in Boulder for like $25.

  10. Now that's more like it. I can get one for each knee for $50. Do they make head pads? Every once in a while it's nice to get a head jam. ce

  11. Oh and nice Nic, TWO photos in this month's Climbing. Better that than the FBIs most wanted though they say any press is good press. ce