So it's cold here in Oregon. Damn. None of us came even remotely prepared and it's pretty hilarious to watch. Oh well.
For more reasons than I can elaborate here this meeting has been incredibly inspiring, to say the least. Innovation is the name of the game around here and we're bringing some stuff to the table that has never been done before. Keep an eye out. It's crazy.
All of this plays into the Innovation stuff I've been chattering lately. The outdoor industry has been stagnant for far too long.
On a fun note we got to see an Ueli Steck slideshow tonight which was amazingly badass and so inspiring. Seeing the athletes here is an incredible experience. Each one is a core athlete with such a drive to do amazing things that you can't help but to want to do the same.
They're on such a different level when it comes to commitment and desire. And I'm not talking that they climb V23 or 5.87g. Libecki has done solo big wall FA's on every single continent, including Antarctica. Ueli is just two scoops of crazy and his speed efforts on big alpine walls are absolutely amazing. Everyone talks about onsighting hard rock routes but honestly, that's nothing compared to Ueli onsighting the north face of the Matterhorn for a new speed record. Insane.
We've got more product meetings tomorrow and Friday. Internet sucks here but maybe I'll have something else.
Two things first though...
1 - Come to the boulders comp this saturday. It's always fun. Katie is talking about making
It seems everyone around here has been sick recently and unfortunately my number kinda came up. Not full blown terrible-ness yet, but kind of a crappy week this week. It's always funny to not know why you feel terrible until the sickness comes on full force.
I had a terrible night of climbing on Tuesday and I had no idea why. Then by midday Wednesday my nose was going crazy and it all made sense. Now is as good a time as any to recover and take a bit of rest I guess.
Sadly, it's looking like rain Saturday and Sunday and I leave next Tuesday for the Hardwear Fall 11 sales meeting in beautiful Sun River, Oregon. I get to stay here. Could be worse? Hah.
On a totally different note the Halloween comp is coming up a week from Saturday and that's always a fun time. That said, for the first time since 2003 or so I might actually be competing instead of setting. Should be interesting, to say the least. I'm not exactly the best comp climber out there.
I end up flying out of Bend, Oregon at 5:30AM the Saturday of the comp so I'm sure I'll be nice and chipper when I get back to Madison at 6PM that night. I'll climb real fast boys.
I will say that I'm not going to miss the inevitable injury that I've seemed to generate the last three times I've set for the comp. It's been kind of a pain in the ass the last few years and it's nice to feel healthy going into the fall season. Things seem to be clipping along at a nice pace and we've got goals in mind.
So. Who's gonna come to the comp? I'm still debating dressing up as a hot dog. We'll see...
Katie and I spent two very different days up at the lake this past weekend and both were phenomenal for different reasons.
Day one started by meeting up with Kevin and Brian. Yes. Mr. Runnells himself went boulder climbing. Hot damn.
We warmed up at the Greatest Bluff and talked about how phenomenal Imp Act is. Truly a great boulder problem. Those two had just come over from Massive Vertigo which they described as "awful". Not everyone can like those sharp crimps unfortunately. I'm with them on this one though.
On top of that Kevin had spent a good 4 hours at Boulders the night before. Perfect way to prep for a morning at the lake.
After a brief warmup we set our sights on Greatest Show. My psych was renewed after doing the first move a few weeks back and both of them were ready for it. I'll keep it short and say that all of us got a good case of the smack downs in the hour and a half we were there. Despite the great temps the holds felt unusually smarmy and greasy. More than once I stepped off of the pebble move solely because I could feel my fingers moving around on them. Dry fires were just sitting there waiting to happen.
Eventually towards the end of their time, Kevin started making some great links but got stymied at the crux. He seems psyched though and is eager to come back. Awesome.
In the meantime the rest of our crew was up at the bluff so I wanted to take some pictures and cop a brief rest. Just as I got my stuff gathered up Katie came around the corner and let me know all the boys were warmed up and on their way down to Greatest Show. Dammit.
So, without much of a rest I jumped right back into it. Pat, Aaron, Chris and myself jumped around on the problem for a good two hours or so. Every now and then one of us would make it to the first hueco and there'd be some hurried pad shuffling and excitement and then the inevitable crash back to the pads.
We started boosting each other through the first moves and up to the huecos and wow, we need to drop another rope down. Those holds felt terrible!! They need a good scrubbing before the fall season. Next time!
After enough punishment and a few awesome dry fires from Aaron, we all packed up and moved on to the Dog Walk boulder.
It's been a long time since I've been out with a bunch of people. Really, since Peter and I put up Anchorpoint. Often we shy away from big groups. Saturday afternoon was really really fun. Roll call goes as such: Katie, Myself, Ellen, Ben, Aaron, Isobel, Chris, Sarah, Pat and Kelly. So many people!
While the 9 of them situated the 8 or so pads I just sat on the rock behind the boulder and watched the insanity. Normally when you set up a landing one person takes charge and just does it. Literally 9 different people were moving pads at once and it was HILARIOUS to watch. It was the worst landing I'd ever seen there which was so funny. Pads were lying everywhere, stacked on top of each other and people were trying every line all at once. So good!
At one point there were 6 or so pads under the right line, one half pad under the center line and the remainder on the left line. In a matter of a few minutes Isobel dry fired and missed a pad on the left line. Someone else fell off the center and hit the dirt and every single person on the right line was dabbing each and every go. Full on gym atmosphere. It was great.
Eventually it all got sorted out and radness did ensue. The left line got seiged by nearly everyone. Center line was done by at least Esser, Pat and Ellen and possibly others. The right line stymied all attacks other than Chris and Pat.
Chris topping out railroad spike.
Aaron trying to finish up Moostache.
Kelly on Railroad Spike
Ellen finishing P.Stachio...and Chris thinking I'm taking a pic of him...
After a couple of hours action was dying down and people were giving their last efforts. Katie finally figured out some redonkulous beta on the right line and out of nowhere she was on the top out. I ran down to give her a spot thinking that a send was imminent.
Punt! She came off the topout twice on Saturday and dry fires shut her down on the rest of her tries. Sadly she had to leave it for another day.
Everyone else had left for the day and as we were on our way out I coaxed Katie up to Alpine Club. I re-warmed up on the moves and after 15 minutes or so I hit a break in the humidity and had three of my best attempts ever on it. For a moment on the third try I thought I had it. My body hit apex and everything paused.....before absolutely exploding off the wall.
I was as psyched as ever and thought it was in the bag. I took a quick break and hopped back on. Well. Humidity went up and I dry fired 2-3 times in a row, mid move. Fuck.
I was done. Over it. It'll be there another day and once more it feels close. I will say that it's nice enjoying the process once more. Day 29 HO!!
Sunday was a much calmer experience. Katie's skin was totally fucked from Saturday and she wasn't sure if she'd be able to give any sort of real effort on her project, Moostache. I was just excited to go up to the East Bluffs later in the day and the weather was perfect.
Four of us, Jeremy and Geoff joined in, made it to the Dog Walk/Stache around 11. Katie set the pads for the right line and I was busy explaining the three lines to our comrades when I noticed that Katie was warming up on the right. Without a pause she'd stuck the crux on her first try and hit the topout jugs! She quickly went up and left and was done for the day! Psyched!
No warmup. No skin. Just radness.
When I say she was done for the day, that's no joke either. She literally gave one effort on the problem, did it, and stopped for the day. Nice work!
After some good, serious effort both Jeremy and Geoff finished it up as well and we moved on. Pretty quiet session there.
Quick stop at Pete's Pebble...
We made the trek up to Horse Ramparts and I was pretty much beyond psyched. This area epitomizes what I see as potential for the lake. Rad boulders above workable landings with huge features. It's pretty sick up there and we keep finding more stuff each time. It's so good.
We didn't have a ton of time so I showed them around and put up a warmup named 'The Deserter' just right of the Jewel boulder. It's fun. It starts on a couple of really cool pinches and goes up on phenomenal jugs. I like jugs.
After we ran laps on that we moved the pads just right to another line I'd eyed up the first time we went up there. It sit starts on two good holds and goes through one big move to a jug and then tops out high on more good holds. Jeremy did it first and named it Spit Spot Spit I believe. Goes around a 3 maybe and is pretty damn good. Perfect start holds and everything is super comfy. I like that one a lot.
This area holds a ton of potential and I'm way beyond psyched to get back there and put up a bunch more. Lots of goodness.
Looks like we're gonna have a couple good days coming up. I'm pretty excited. Looks like Stache/Dogwalk and Greatest Show on Sunday. Saturday might have a trip up to Jenga in the works and hopefully some exploration on the east bluff.
Word on the street is that Mr. Climbing Narc himself might be up there to join in the fun. Seems about time for him to make his yearly pilgrimage to the lake to get injured. Oh Brian....what are we gonna do with you?
Either way it should be fun. We've got a psyched crew and decent conditions it looks like. I'm very ready to be back at the lake. Very ready.
Cannot believe I forgot about this one. It was so good.
So there we were. At the Cave Traverse. RV got psyched, put his shoes on and gave a fucking strong effort. He stuck the drop move and while I was taking pictures with his camera he set up for the next move. Bam. Stuck it. Done. He was looking so so strong on it and I thought there was no way he'd fall now.
Then, out of nowhere I saw a bit of hesitation as he tried to find the toe hook. I thought to myself, this is it. This is the punt of the month. Rad.
Within a matter of seconds he was on the ground in a pile of pads. He never did find that 'dough hook'.
So here you go RV. You're a punter. A fucking punter. I thought you were over that phase.
On top of that he moved. Away from us. Life punt, dude. Life punt.
I hope you're happy RV.
Clicky the pic to ensure you'll pee your pants you laughed so hard.
"Holy shit I need a new crag!! Where did everyone come from???!!! First the Red and now Jackson!" - Rhoads
Could not believe how many people showed up Friday night. We went to sleep and woke up the next morning to 2 new tents in our site and 3 more in the dry creekbed. Amazing.
Wanting to get away from the crowds we figured we'd try and find the Roost on Saturday. The Fit was all sorts of Go and eventually we made it past a ton of full campgrounds to the parking pullout.
After hearing a horror story from Kevin Romanski we were kind of worried we'd get sandbagged. Kevin, I'm not sure what your malfunction was but we found the place without a hitch.
Now. About the Roost. Maybe we were expecting too much. Maybe we were too excited to see it. Maybe it was too hot and buggy out. Maybe we were hoping too much for another Holy Boulders. Whatever it was I'm not sure. All I can say is that we were not psyched on the Roost.
I'm not sure what it was but it seemed like it was just an ok area. Out of everything we saw there the only thing I was interested in getting on was Chuck Norris. That boulder did look cool. The rest though just didn't live up to the expectations. It all looked good, but not as good as much of the other stuff in So Ill.
I think a big big part of it is that we drove 7 hours to get on really good rock and really fun problems. We had high expectations and I can confidently say that I like Jackson Falls and the Holies more than the Roost.
Now, if I found the Roost at DL or Dodge I'd be fucking psyched! But it's not something I would ever drive 7 plus hours for. I'm spoiled, I know.
So, we chose to drive back to Jackson and spend the rest of the morning there. Just standing around the Roost we were pouring sweat.
I'll spare you the details and just say that we were really tired at that point and we only played around on a few things. It was hot, crowded and kinda miserable. Oh well.
Sunday was...well, it was more interesting at least.
I punted. Again. Twice. Same Spot.
My shoulder was cooked after a few tries and I gave up on it. Oh well. Katie also tried Berlier a bit more but just didn't have the gas to link past the last hard move.
Thinking that all was well we went up to our car and noticed that our back tire had gotten even flatter in the few hours from the morning. We've had a slow leak for a few weeks and thought nothing of it. Well now it got a bit epic.
We packed everything up and slowly drove out of the falls. Everything seemed like it was holding up fine. Great. We thought we'd just stop at the general store, get some air and be all set.
Nope. They didn't have air.
So we plugged gas stations into our GPS and saw one a few miles down the road. Awesome. We pulled up after a few gingerly driven miles and saw an air hose. HALLELUJAH!!
Nope. They were closed for Sundays. And the air was turned off.
So we went to the Decider once more and saw a gas station just off 24 that we'd bought wood from. They seemed civilized enough to have air.
Nope. She gave us the craziest look too. "Why would we have air??", she must have thought, "there's all sorts of air outside!! Those fools.".
So we sulked back to the car, past the man sunbathing shirtless in the gas station grass with his two dogs. I love southern.
Then it all got even better. We saw a Citgo on the decider's screen. 3 miles away. Perfect. It's a Citgo! How can the NOT have air???
Well. We pulled up and it was some dudes 3 car garage with his house just up the hill. What the hell?? We figure it must have been a Citgo years ago since there were hours posted on the door.
Fine. Lets pull off the flat and put the donut on. First two lugnuts come off fine. Aces. Second two? Nada. We tried and tried to no avail. Nothing.
So there we sat. Unable to fill our tire. Unable to put the silly looking donut on. Just as we were getting ready to call Triple A a woman came down the hill and asked us if everything was ok.
She brought her husband down since "He's got lots of tools 'n' stuff". He smiled at us nicely in the 90 degree heat and opened up the garage door and pulled out......yep...........you guessed it......a 30 foot hose attached to a massive air compressor.
We find the one dude in So Ill that's got an air compressor in his garage??? Awesome. Just awesome.
He filled up our tire and his wife grabbed us two bottles of water from their fridge. Amazing. I really do love the midwest solely for little experiences like this. Just nice people that are there when you need them. I love it here.
We made a quick stop at Walmart to get some Fix A Flat and an air pump, which promptly broke. Katie's just too strong for her own good.
With a bit of nerves we made it home 10 and a half hours after we left the falls. Fun.
Katie and I talked a lot about So Ill and what kind of a destination it is for us. Being a 7 hour drive from Madison we find it really really hard to commit the time to go there. A big part of that is there just isn't that much to do there. If I went down once more and finished up Zig Zag and Jungle Book, I'd be happy and content not making many more trips down that way.
For every single amazing problem down there I can more than likely name another problem up here that is JUST as classic, if not better. I truly think So Ill is an exceptionally good local area that got blown up as if it was this amazing, world class spot.
This is obviously just talking bouldering, not sport. I would DEFINITELY go down that way for sport. For sure.
But I have a real hard time making the trip down there when we've got such good local areas here. Dodge and DL are rather amazing for what they are. They're really really good. By no means are they world class but you could put any of these problems at other areas and they'd be must do's.
Sandstone Violence Hangman Picasso Grounded For Life The Godfather All in the Family Big Bud Arete Slope of Dadaism Greatest Show Imp Act The Zipper The Flatiron Burma Warmup Beautiful Soup Keymaker Alpine Club Jenga Moj Super Slab Smooth Operator Tunder Tighs
And I'm sure there are more. I'm sure of it! We are so incredibly lucky to have the areas we do and for years they went unnoticed and unclimbed. Back in 2005/2006 if you had told Kelsen, Huston, Steve Day and I that at the end of 2010 there would be over 500 boulder problems established at Dodge and DL we'd have laughed. We'd have laughed hard.
What's scary is the potential. There are at least 20-30 more problems to be done on the West Bluff Fire Road, if not many more. There are at least 20-30 more to do up at Horse Ramparts on the East Bluff. On top of that there seems to always be more stuff on the South Shore and giant sections of the East Bluff are yet to be searched. It's absolutely insane to me.
What's even more fun to me is that a boulder like the Stache/Dog Walk went untouched during the huge explosion we had last year. How many people walked within 50 yards of that boulder? A ton. I know I walked right past it probably 20-30 times. It's amazing that even now we're finding amazing boulders 2-3 minutes off the trail.
I always hear people rip on our local areas. They talk about how they want to be somewhere else. They miss Colorado or insist that there's nothing to do here. It's absurd to me. We have it so good here!!! So good!
More than anything I hope this rant serves as a little motivator for the upcoming season. Temps are getting good. Projects need to be completed. Entire areas need to be established.
There are ALWAYS boulder problems to be climbed here. No one has done them all. Git on it.
Well we're back from So Ill now after a slight epic getting home yesterday. More on that tomorrow but all I can say is that a bit of luck is ALWAYS appreciated.
Katie and I got down to the falls on Thursday afternoon and after admiring that the creek was totally dried up we headed down. We'd been a bit worried that it was going to be abnormally hot and sweaty down there but actually got rather lucky. Even with temps in the 80's all weekend the humidity was low and early morning sessions seemed to pan out well.
First thing we did was run over to Hypoglycemia though since Katie was excited to finish that one up. She'd been wanting to try it since spending a day on it back in late January. After warming up on the top out a few times and refining her beta just a bit she was having some good links on it. She hopped on for one final "last go of the day" efforts and it just clicked. Pretty soon she was rolling over the time into bird poop with a smile on her face.
She was very psyched and also very surprised at how quickly it all went down. She'd been fully expecting to spend much of the weekend there and seemed pleased that she could move on to other things. Nice work!
We went over to Zig Zag for a few minutes but I wasn't feeling it and wanted to save myself for the next day. I just couldn't seem to get the right gaston to click just right. Instead we went over to Reefer Madness and played around on some of the moderates there. Katie did Ghetto life once more and we played on a dyno I did years ago. It took me the better part of two days to do it the first time around. Katie did it first try. I really love going back to stuff that used to be hard for me.
We also went over to the reindeer and ran a couple laps on it. Katie was nice enough to pose for some night pics. Note that these were all taken without an off camera flash. I gots me some powerful headlamps!!
On Friday we made it down to the falls rather early and warmed up on the problems by Spleef Peak. Love those ones. A friendly local named Bryan played around with us in the perfect conditions. After warming up the three of us went to a short V6 power problem called "Berlier Problem" or something like that.
I picked out some decent looking beta and scrubbed the holds hoping for a flash. Sadly I came off on the last move as my foot picked. I was able to suck it up and did it on my second go. Aces. Bryan was also able to finish it up using some nice tall man beta.
Katie always seems to impress me. She never uses height as an excuse. It's always funny to joke about but she's really good about it. Bryan did this problem in two moves, not counting the mantle. I did it in roughly 4 moves and was pretty stretched out on it. Katie figured out beta that worked for her that amounted to 8 moves. In that span she matched 3 times and used 3 different heel hooks. Impressive.
Sadly, stringing together those 8 moves proved a bit too much on Friday and she had to wait for another day after falling on the last hard move multiple times.
Katie on Berlier Problem
Bryan started talking about Praying Mantle and seemed psyched so we joined him over there. Let me start this by saying Praying Mantle is more than likely a problem I will never, ever do. It's absolutely heinous. Jesus christ.
Bryan setting up for the crux of Praying Mantle
Bryan had some good effort on it but the time over there ended when he knee'd his chin at speed trying to get his foot up by his hands. Terrible, terrible problem.
I coerced the group over to Zig Zag for another round of efforts. Within a few minutes it was starting to feel better and better. I'd found a little lip inside the right gaston and was getting closer. Then the body position just clicked and I dropped into the left hand pocket with a bit of gusto. Surprised to be there I quickly jumped to what I'd hoped was a jug. It was. I went up left hand to the sloper and got my right heel high above me and immediately realized that I was plain fucked. I felt totally secure but had nowhere to put my right hand and sadly dropped to the pads as soon as I tried to match.
I rested for a bit and then quickly got back up to the sloper. Once more I fell off in full on punt mode.
By that point my shoulder was feeling like it was about one try away from being completely jacked from the repeated gastons and I ended up giving up. It'd wait for another day. Progress is always good and I was excited about getting up to the slopers.
We stopped for the day as we were totally wrecked at that point and had some errands to run. I also took Katie out to check out the Holies since she'd never seen em. Aside from it being completely socked in and heinously humid, Katie was excited to come back to try some of the problems on another trip.
I was quickly reminded that Jungle Book might be one of the coolest problems I've ever seen. It also might have the greatest start holds ever. My God those holds are perfect. Amazing. I'm psyched for that one.
More on the insanity of Saturday and Sunday tomorrow!
Oh Sunday. Where to start. Well we all met at the North Shore but instead of warming up there we hiked it up to the Greatest Bluff problems. It'd been forever since I'd been on them and I was excited to head back there. We threw pads under the classic arete and went to town.
I can honestly say that this might be my favorite warmup in the park. On top of being a phenomenal line it has super comfy holds, amazing features, a perfect landing and a great topout. Plus it's easy and I like easy boulder climbs.
We all ran a bunch of laps on it and then played around on a few of the other easy lines. You could tell from the dust that no one had played on these in a while. Always fun.
I somehow convinced Jeff to do Slippery Seam and after some concerted effort he topped out with relative ease and we made the short trip down to Greatest Show. Ian was psyched cause he didn't think he'd get another crack at it this trip and Jeff was just plain excited.
He stepped on for a good flash go and came off at the crux. Ian hopped back on and made it back to his highpoint. Then for the next hour or two everyone traded efforts without being able to figure out the crux move.
Ian convinced me to come down and try out the first move again. I did just that and after a few tries I was able to get the first move figured out. Psyched! That was the one move on the rig I hadn't been able to do. Progress is good. I'm excited about that one again.
Even though Jeff was getting his hand on the loaf he couldn't quite stick it. Eventually we moved on to Alpine Club and Keymaker.
I want to preface this next bit by saying that Jeff told Kelly earlier in the day that she'd more than likely do really well on Alpine Club. He called it. Babe Ruth style.
Kelly did Alpine Club in roughly an hours work for it's First Female Ascent. As far as I know it's the fastest ascent to date.
It was badass! She made it look like absolute piss and it was one of the most impressive things I've seen in a long long time. As soon as she topped out we all started clapping for her cause apparently that's what happens in Font. Who knew?
Jeff and Kelly are so creative.
Before the send.
All the while Jeff, Ian and I kept on throwing ourselves at it. What I love about Alpine Club is that someone who's strong can probably do it the bump way. If you try it the other way though, strength doesn't play as big of a role. Jeff put it well when he said this, "You keep wanting to tell yourself to try harder on this thing but it doesn't work that way. You can't 'try hard' your way through it. You just have to be a better climber.".
A lot of people talk about the bump beta and yeah, I kinda bag on it too. The truth, is that I want to do Alpine Club a certain way because for ME, it's my greatest measuring stick. As I get closer and closer on the move I can feel myself understanding that particular movement better and better. It's not a "I gotta get sick strong" type of thing. It's a matter of just being a better climber and my desire to be able to someday be a talented enough climber to do that move.
Kelly is an exceptionally gifted climber and it was amazingly fun watching her climb on Alpine Club. I'll reiterate that it was one of the most impressive showings I've ever seen. I'm glad I was there to see it.
Moving uphill as light started to fade we came to Jeff's main objective. The Keymaker. Jeff spent one lonely afternoon on it almost a year ago when he came through with Nic and all Sunday he couldn't stop talking about it. Waiting for it. Getting excited for it. So here we were.
We set the pads up and Ian cringed as he looked at the crimp he'd christened "the little fucker". Kelly made sure to ask, "How do I grab the little fucker, Ian?". Awesome.
Jeff very quickly worked out some great beta for the traverse that I'm planning on leeching from him. Within 10 minutes or so he was starting to give concerted efforts and was looking incredibly strong for being the end of the day and also jet-lagged. Without a whole lot of effort he was making it to the rail each time and seemed to fall off one move higher every try.
Two things of note happened here.
1 - Jeff does the move to the rail with both his feet staying on. Fucking absurd. So strong.
2 - Jeff had maybe the best dry fire of the weekend when he came off of the two miserable crimps after the rail. Both hands came off at the same time and he hit the pads with force! He came up with a smile though.
As light started to fade a bit more Jeff knew he was getting down to the wire on this one. His energy was leaving him and he was on his last try. As always he floated everything up to the rail, hit the two crimps and made one last thrutch to the next hold.
Down to the pads he came. We poked and prodded and got him to try Beautiful Soup once but he came off on the last move, just totally out of juice.
As we packed up and went down the hill Jeff started talking about having to fly back for this one. Excited for that.
I love when new people come into town, if even for a small amount of time. The lake holds a spot near and dear to my heart and I love sharing it with friends. For some reason I'm still surprised that people tell me that they want to come back for more. Ian is talking about coming back with a crew next time and is already planning it out for good conditions. Jeff and Kelly want to come back for another dose and it was cool to see Jeff get kinda sad when we just plain ran out of time to go up to Jenga and Moj.
We seem to live in a little bubble and it's easy to not realize how good we have it here. While our areas aren't world class, they're pretty damn good.
Kelly and Jeff are totally better than a stick brush...