Monday, August 29, 2011

Horse Rampart

So Horse Ramparts has been an area I've wanted to develop in ever since RV and I hiked through it a year ago. I'm glad that we're finally making our way back through there. We spent another great day up at the upper area and I finally played around on Bunker Arete which is an amazing problem and worth the trip in and of itself.

Katie and I played on that for a bit till Chris and Sarah came up to join us. Chris quickly climbed Bunker and soon after we moved down to the Jewel. I'd tried it the previous week but in my weak as shit fitness I couldn't do it and took a bad fall to end the day. History repeated itself and I took a terrible fall and almost knocked Chris down the talus field. Luckily I turned into a spotter and saved his ass before anything bad happened.

Chris eventually did the FA of the main traverse and happily named it Muffin Top. That's all I cared about and I'm glad he was able to get the FA on it.

One note about the current landing is that even with 4-5 pads it's a very intimidating line and can end poorly if you're not careful. Within the first two moves you're already a good 12-15 feet above the pit and the problem has a very committing and exposed feel. Be careful and have a spotter for your spotter.

Chris and Sarah had to pack up and as they were leaving Erin, Sam and Ben came up through the talus to join in the fun. Perfect timing. While they started working on Bunker, Katie and I walked down through the talus to check out the potential and we're both pretty excited about this one. While nothing super hard or especially amazing yet, we've seen a ton of cool looking moderates and I've got a feeling this area could be one of the better moderate talus fields once we're done with it.

And to end the day on a terrifying note, some kids came through the talus field and started climbing up one of the exposed slabs underneath bunker and before Erin could get a hand on him he took a really bad fall into the talus. Unbelievably he was unhurt other than a bruise, but it's a fall that I would have been nervous taking with pads, let alone without. Everything turned out alright but it struck us how dangerous the talus can be.

The fall brought back memories of a long thread on Mountain Project discussing news reports and climbing accidents. In the thread the consensus was that a news station could report things as a climbing accident if the person had technical climbing gear on. Both of these kids had harnesses and shoes on and had there been an accident it would have been reported as a climbing accident. Now, had those kids been going through the talus without harnesses and with street shoes, would it have not been a climbing accident, even if the exact same thing happened? Katie and I found it an interesting example of classification.

Finishing up, here's a video of a couple problems at Horse Rampart. I'm looking forward to many more days but if you go up there, be forewarned that the place BAKES in the sun. Bring lots of water.

Also, it's nice to see guys like Ian and Peter B going through and cleaning up things that Remo and I saw in 2009 but were too distracted to do. I remember seeing both First Cube/Undercling Proj and Storm Troopers for the first time the day that Remo and I first did Pete's Pebble and tried what would become Moj. I feel like we were both too A.D.D. that summer to put any extra effort into those lines but it's been funny seeing those same lines unknowingly resurrected with new efforts. Storm Troopers seems pretty cool and I'm psyched to try it once I get back into it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Organic Retro Book Bag

I'm not shy about the fact that I really love Organic Climbing products. The pads, chalk pots, chalk bags and packs are the best on the market, bar none. I like to think that through my constant praise and spray I've convinced at least a few of you to buy a pad. It helps out Josh and you get the best possible product there is.

I was starkly reminded of this when we went up to the lake on Sunday and I was forced to carry my old Revolution 12 Gauge cause Bonamici had my Organic Big Pad. I was blown away with how poorly the first generation Revolution carried and I kept on wishing I had my own cake pad with me instead. Then when we got to the boulders I remembered that the carpet tore years ago and the foam was exposed along one entire side.

Don't get me wrong. I love Revolution and if Josh wasn't doing what he does I'd be climbing on Revolution without a doubt. They've improved vastly over the past 7 years and have a quality lineup of pads currently. Organic is just the best. Even if Josh makes next to nothing on pads.

The reason for today's post is not about pads, but rather something that Josh can hopefully make a little bit of money on. It's about his new Retro Book Bag. I saw this for the first time last summer at OR and wanted one immediately. I don't tend to carry a bunch of shit when I go climbing and the Retro was a perfect size. Josh was nice enough to send me one this spring when he had his first production run and I've been using it since.

Sizewise it's ideal for me as I can carry 3 pair of shoes, chalk pot, chalk bag and water in the main pouch and all the little stuff in the smaller front pocket. It's small enough that it slides into pads easily and takes up very little space while still keeping everything nice and organized.

I know a lot of people (Jeff) use it as an extra bag to go along with the crag pack cause it isn't quite big enough, but it's perfect to pack full of food and water when you have a bigger day planned. Katie is a pack rat just like Jeff it seems and fills her crag pack to the top each and every trip.

No it doesn't have a laptop sleeve. It doesn't have a billion pockets on the inside. It doesn't have a 3 pen holders or a place for business cards. It doesn't have 18 water bottle pockets, nor does it have a special pocket with a hidden unicorn inside. It might not even help you find a new girlfriend.

It is however TOTALLY bombproof and built like a quality pack should be. It has metal buckles on the shoulder straps and a little key clip on the inside. It's clean, simple and burly.

And for a limited time, while he has stock left, he'll be selling it for $40 in the colors you see up top. Buy one. Help out a dude that used to live in the midwest and get yourself a sweet little pack.

For all my fanboys out there, I have the yellow and black one. It looks just like the bee that stung me last week.

Send a note to if you want one. You do.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Getting Back Into It

So I think i'm better at running right now than I am at climbing. Ugh.

Not a whole lot going on over here right now. Katie, Ian and Cory met up with Zach from the Twin Cities the last couple days and showed him around the lake a bit. He seems to like it, specifically our bouldering community, which I think is pretty cool. A few years ago it was most definitely not like this and it's nice to get a new perspective from an out of town climber.

So thanks Zach.

It seems they've found a couple new boulders in the East Bluff talus and Zach at least did Rampart Roof which sounded somewhat terrifying, according to Katie. Not sure what else went down but it sounded like a good day. Now someone in that crew just needs to post the new boulders to MP.

On a separate note Dobbe is organizing a really cool event on September 10th at Governor Dodge. He'll be throwing together a Triple Crown style bouldering competition at Group Camp B, Barrel Ridge and the Lonely Boulders. At least I think those are the areas. As far as I know all the proceeds are going to the newly formed Wisconsin Climbers Association which will be actively working towards securing access in Wisconsin.

This is something that I know Dobbe and company have put a lot of work into and it's something that was needed around here. The cost is only $30 for a membership so plan on going to this and having a good time.

Here are the details:

Registration 10-11
Climbing 11-5
Awards and Drinks at 6

The format will be cumulative, as in count up your points as you go. No 10 problem minimum or anything like that, just do as many problems as you can. Should be nice and simple.

You're also encouraged to bring a bike to ride around from area to area. It sounds like the plan is to have pads already at many of the boulder problems and I think thats a really cool way to go about it all. So take a close look at the poster above, plan on being in Dodgeville and get ready for what should be an awesome time.

I know already some people from Minneapolis are planning on coming out which is awesome!


Monday, August 15, 2011

Guess What?

I went rock climbing yesterday. The shoulder wasn't great but it was workable and it felt really great to be outside again. Aaron, Katie and I set up a few topropes at the lake which was super fun. My excitement for the topropes at the lake is pretty high right now and I'm looking forward to doing more as we get into fall. I always seem to forget how good the routes are at the lake.

Honestly it was just nice to climb a bit and take it easy. Plus we got to see Aarons yearly dose of technique and pretty climbing on Gill's Nose before he promptly lost it again on Dog Fucker.

And in the best news department we heard that Chris and Sarah got engaged. It's safe to say that this was a long time coming and everyone is obviously very happy for them. I can say that, personally, I'm glad they're going to be around Madison for at least a little while.

Congrats guys.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Inaugural Running Of The First Annual National Badminton World Championships Of The Universe

The view from the toilet for those that were wondering

Words can't explain how successful the Badminton was this past weekend. It surpassed all expectations and will be followed by many many more championships.

My win came at quite the cost though. I'm stupidly sore a full two days after my illustrious victory and I can only imagine the soreness dying off sometime around November. I badminton'd that hard.

I'll let the video do the rest of the talking...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Predictions Recap - Spring Season

So Spring is over and the year has officially stepped over the hill. Here's a recap of where the predictions stand. Doing better this year...

1 - Alpine club will be done 3 times - 2/3 so far. Nic said it'll be done twice. I'm still holding true to the three. I think Aaron will do it and someone else. Jeremy was close as well.

2 - Beautiful Soup will be done 5 times - 3/5 so far. Nic said two times. Suck it. I think we'll hit this rather easily this year. Dobbe??

3 - Keymaker will be done 2 times - 1/2 so far. Nic said one time Suck it again. Chris came through HUGE and it was a personal highlight of the season to have been able to work it with him. Runnells, wants to do it and if he stays injury free he will. Dudes strong enough. And assuming I get healthy I'd love to finish it as well. Plus if Jeff every comes back through.

4 - Moj will be done 2 times - KABOOM Done 3 times. Nic was way off saying it'd be done once. Glad this one got worked over this spring.

5 - Greatest Show will be done 4 times - 0/4 Not sure that we'll see this one actually. So much psyche has been concentrated on the West Bluff that this one has been kind of ignored. Chris, Aaron??? I know you're both psyched on it. Nic said 1 or 2 times and I think he's right on that one.

6 - Tunder Tighs will be done 2 times - Um....we were all way off. This was done 7 times and turned into a classic of the lake. Plus the landing is much better now.

7 - Sandstone Violence will be done 4 times - 1/4 as far as I know with Esser getting the only one so far. Curious where this will end up.

8 - 10 new problems V6 or harder will be put up - So this is where Ian gunked the system up a bit. Ian, no offense but I'm only counting a select few of your problems here as too many are just slight variations of otherwise established lines. My count is the following:

Night Grinder
Velvet Hammer
So Dope/Direct - Counting them as one
Hungry Hippos/Hungry Hungry Hippos - Counting them as one
Public Enemy

Am I missing any biggies??? Of note is Martin's FA of Two Women which really does look fantastic but falls in at V5.

9 - Of those 10 problems 4 will be V8 or harder - I think 2-3 of the above fall into this category that will actually hold their grade. On top of that there are many other projects that will fall into this category. Seam, Corner, Half Dome, Kerplunk(once we move the boulder), Smooth Operator Roof, etc. Go get em. They're all prime, independent lines that will be awesome truly hard problems when they get done.

10 - At least 1 new problem will be DOUBLE DIGIT(said in a monster truck announcer echoing voice.) - While Ian rated a few problems V10 I'm not convinced they'll hold their grades. No offense but I'm gonna say this one is still undone.

What does everyone think. Pretty damn good season so far...Minnesota, where you at?????


1 - Jenga will be done 3 times - 1/3 so far. I think this one has potential.

2 - Moj will get its FFA - Not yet but I got faith.

3 - MooStache will be done 4 times - 1/4 right now thanks to Sarah! I was super excited to hear this go for her and it was well deserved and long awaited. It's always good when there are some punts involved. Ladies????? Time to step up.

4 - Magnum PI will be done 4 times - 1/4 currently. I think this will be close.

5 - Massive Vertigo will be done 3 times - 1/3. For sure. Gonna happen no problem.

6 - Anchorpoint will be done 2 times - 1/2. I think Sarah will step up to the plate. Counting Katie's efforts on it cause it broke.

7 - Alpine Club will be done 1 time - Not sure. I guess we'll see.

8 - Venus Rising will be done 1 time - Ellen????????? You know you want to.

9 - A lady will finally put up a problem harder than V4 - Again, I think this will happen.

10 - A lady will find a brand new area - Not sure but Katie's been off exploring a few times this year. Keep the faith.

Overall it's been an awesome spring and I'm hoping for an equally great fall. There are some things brewing that should re-up the psyche around these parts and I can only hope they all fall into place.

On a more personal note I just want to re-emphasize what this spring meant to me. I can't count the number of days and nights where we had people at 4-5 different areas on the West Bluff all working on separate problems and projects. One of the reasons that my favorite moment from this spring was seeing Chris do Keymaker was that when he did it there were 15-20 people up there watching, supporting and spotting him. This was a complete departure from the second ascent when it was Remo, Nic and myself up there.

The single good thing that's come out of this site has been the community that has surrounded us all. It's such a shift for the local scene and I'm looking forward to more good things as the years pass.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Review - Midwest Unknown.

So I don't do many reviews anymore cause, really, I normally don't care enough. A couple of you asked me to do this one and Ian was nice enough to give me a copy so here's my honest take. I want Ian's videos to be even better going forward so this is my true take on the video.

Bottom Line - If you're from the Midwest, go here and buy of copy of Midwest Unknown. It's well worth the 10 bucks you'll spend and you can glean lots of beta from a bunch of different problems encompassing Devil's Lake, Rattlesnake Mound, Taylors Falls and Governor Dodge. You also get the added bonus of seeing climbers you know climbing on problems you want to do.

The Good - My favorite parts of the video were by far seeing local climbers on the true classic problems at the lake. In no particular order:

Aaron on Smooth Operator - AWESOME. Love seeing someone who can climb 8's with relative ease have to try hard on a classic old school V4 with a terrifying problem. One of my personal favorites and a great moment from the spring.

Katie on Anchorpoint 2.0 - Knowing the history of that problem with Katie and knowing that it broke, making the topout even harder and reachier for her made this one fun personally.

Chris on Keymaker - I was truly heartbroken when I realized that my camera hadn't worked when Chris did Keymaker so it was especially nice to see that one on here. Chris had, in my eyes, the highlight of the year so far for doing The Keymaker and it was great seeing it and reliving it once more. Personally I wish that this was the ending problem of the video as it meant a lot to Chris that he finished it off this spring.

Remo on Sex And Chocolate - Just awesome. Whenever anyone thinks of this problem they'll think of Remo even if they decide not to go to the top. It's really, truly his problem.

Nic on Alpine Club - Really nice seeing this on video as Nic demystified this problem for a lot of people when he came through and did it in a couple days quite easily. I also enjoy seeing this wall with only one line on it and being reminded of what attracted me to the problem initially.

Ian on Tunder Tighs - Very glad to see this one on there as its turned into a neo-classic and is a must do for the grade. Absolute classic.

Remo on Slope of Dadaism - HE DOES THE CRAWL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How can you not love that?????

Cory on The Godfather - Cool seeing one of the lesser known climbers get that one done.

Ian on Perfect Medium - Nice to see this one on video. In reality it really is a cool line with mostly nice holds and one of the coolest slopers at the lake.

Katie on Hangman - I was really sad that I missed out on seeing her do this problem in person. I've been up there with her maybe 10-15 times over the last two years and the one time I can't go she does it. That's one of the things I've missed the most this summer is seeing her work and finish off projects.

Ian on Chaos - A sick problem and I was glad to see it in the video. Even if he does take a left exit on it. Looks like it may be a more logical/easier exit too. I know I sure didn't see it when I was working it and fell of MANY times bumping to the final edge in the crack. Sweaty?

Ian on Flatiron - Just a cool classic problem and one that needed to be on there.

The Not So Good - So reviews that are glowing and never say anything negative always kinda tear at me. Nothing is perfect so get over it and offer some constructive criticisms. Ian, don't hate me.

1 - The Up-rates - I know ratings don't matter that much and that we need to find our inner peace to truly find out why we do what we do but I HAVE to give Ian shit for upgrading problems.

Bulbous, Massive Vertigo, Perfect Medium, So Dope, Like A Boss, Battleship, Tunder Tighs and Chaos all either got an added rating, slash grade or a friendly little '+' after them. Don't get me wrong, I actually like slash grades. Plusses not so much but whatever. The funny part about a couple of these is that they got uprated from their already confirmed grades.

Bulbous cracked me up the most. I think it's the first time i've ever seen a 9 placed on it and Huston has repeatedly called it a 6. It's always tough, especially with new problems like Battleship and Like a Boss which have each had new beta figured out that significantly changed their difficulty. But with the more classic, standard problems it made me laugh a bit.

2 - The Editing - I think we need to have an intervention with Ian. Who's in? gotta tone down the editing. The overall feel of the video was just too chopped up for my taste and it seemed like different edits were thrown in at random. Use fades on the music to transition things a bit better and pull back on the fast forward button. I watched it for a second time yesterday and was fast forwarding through a bit and when I pushed play again I had to click the button 4-5 times before I realized that the video was just edited that way and was moving faster than normal.

Another thing is the moving camera deal and as a result the Super Slab bit is annoyingly unwatchable. Instead of moving the camera around a bunch find a few other angles to show the problem and movement a bit better. It'll allow you to not use the fast forward as much and will also give the viewer a better feel for the problem.

I'll be very honest and say that I don't watch climbing videos for the ground breaking edits. I watch them for the climbing and that should be the sole focus.

3 - Problem Selection - I think a big majority of the movie was awesome. The problems were great and there were local climbers used whenever possible. That's awesome. Loved those parts. There were however some problems that just didn't fit in. It made me sad that problems like Jenga, Hungry Hungry Hippos, Beautiful Soup, Bark Biter and Group Leader weren't in there while others like So Dope Direct, Battleship, Like A Boss and The Rapture were all included. Knowing that there are so many classic lines that were left out kind of took away from the video for me.

That's about it. Aside from the magical outfits that Sam and Katie were wearing in the Battleship clip(each one of them switched tops multiple times....they're so talented!) the video was really good and as I said above, well worth the ten bucks that he's charging. In reality it's a couple of cups of coffee that will support a local climber putting out videos. Do your duty and download it. If nothing else it'll keep the psych going during the middle of summer.

I look forward to more videos in the future.

Monday, August 1, 2011


I bought my D70 back in late 2004 while I was living in Mammoth. With it I got two kit lenses, four filters (two were identical), a cheap bag and a 1MB memory card. The strap on the bag broke within a week.

This was the first picture I ever took....

And this was the second...I'm still proud of this one...

Since then I've managed to use and abuse that camera to the best of my ability. I've dropped it in piles of snow, left it outside overnight, and in my brightest moment I dropped it (inside its bag) 20 feet off of a boulder in the West Bluff Talus. It now has two cracks running up the right side and another on the base. Those could possibly be from the hundreds of times I've bashed it accidentally on some random boulder at the lake. No guarantees though.

The memory card reader randomly decides not to work and I've lost hundreds of photos because of it. I've since figured out that I can treat my formerly $700 camera body like a Nintendo by blowing into the reader. It works most times.

About 4 years ago I bought a wireless remote and the first time I used it my camera shut off and an error message came up on the screen. I had to send it back to Nikon to get serviced. Cost me about $300 and I still have no idea why. The remote cost 10 bucks or something. Money well spent and I've been terrified to use it since. It's still sitting in my bag, collecting dust.

Then, a couple years ago the built in flash stopped working while I was using it with an off camera flash. I've made due since then and have been far too lazy to take it somewhere to get looked at. Despite finding detailed instructions on the internet to fix the issue I've yet to try and go 'under the hood'. Obviously I'm afraid of breaking my poor camera even more.

Through all of this my camera has treated me abnormally well. Really, truly, oddly well.

I've been lucky to get a few nice photos over the years. I've been even luckier to do that without photoshop or any sort of editing software. Frankly, I'm far too lazy to spend any amount of time "processing" my photos, though I do appreciate the effort people go through while spending hours editing their pictures. Everything I've learned is self taught and there are MANY reasons I'll never throw a watermark or signature on my photos.

What you see is what you get, imperfections and all. I find that charming to a certain extent as photos are rarely perfect and if they are, chances are they've been photoshopped a fair amount. All too often they're edited to the point of not resembling the original in the slightest. I like putting pictures out there that are true, natural moments. Whether the light was shitty or the sun wasn't sparkling just right, they're real snapshots of time. I enjoy pictures that aren't perfect in every imaginable way.

When it comes down to it, I'm a V3 photographer and I like it that way. It keeps things fun, light and Katie and I get to have the enjoyment of going home after a day of bouldering and uploading the photos onto my etch-a-sketch of a computer. I love that that's the extent of my "photo processing".

So here you go, a few of my favorites of the last 6 years. I'm very proud to say that there isn't a bit of editing in the bunch.

On a totally unrelated subject, this is my 300th post. It's incredibly mind blowing to me that this site has lasted as long as it has through the past 2 and a half years. We've seen huge, incredible changes in the landscape of midwestern bouldering and I'm happy to know that everyone here has been a large part of that.

I do want to thank the 'regulars' that have been showing up since the start. Sweaty, Eggnuts, RV, Remo, Nic, Runnells. I would have stopped this piece long ago if it weren't for you and I love that I can always count on you guys to carry on conversations in the comments.

One thing that constantly blows me away though is the random readership. I'm always surprised anyone outside of the people I just mentioned reads anything I write. I want everyone to know that I really appreciate it though. Whether it's someone from Texas that checks in every now and then or if it's people like McB and Em that comment once or twice. I really appreciate it and want to thank everyone for that.

When we were up at Nic's wedding Jeff said something about injuries making for funny blog posts and it stuck with me. I really had no clue that he read this collection of absurdity and I was caught off guard. I still find it so odd that people outside of the midwest read what has very much turned into a 'local blog' as Runnells puts it. I'm glad that this site is entertaining though.

Finally, the support that everyone showed me last week was incredibly nice and made me smile. Thanks for that pick me up.

And just so we don't end on a lovey lovey note, suck.