Friday, October 28, 2011


I'm out in Oregon right now on sales meeting day 5 of 8. I'm exhausted at the moment but figure that I haven't put up a new post in a while so thought I'd give everyone a couple updates.

1 - Esser did Tipping Point Stand a week and a half ago now. It's amazing. Go do it.

2 - Peter figured out really good beta for the terrifying bump move and it's much less scary now. Very little chance that you'll circumsize your finger now.

3 - Just as I was really starting to feel decent again I go on an 8 day non climbing binge.

I think that's it really. It's incredibly exciting to be starting a new segment of my life. I don't even care that I haven't been able to climb. New beginnings are an amazing thing and my luck is insane right now. Just crazy.

I hope everyone is getting out. I'll try and post some pictures next week from Tipping Point.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pemba Serves

All Photos - David Sweeney

For the past 4 years and 8 months I've come to Pemba Serves each day and worked at a job that I love. The people that I've met and the relationships I've been lucky enough to form have changed my life and molded me as a person. It was a job that I sought after for a good 6-8 months before actually getting a real offer.

Many of you don't really know what I do, so maybe I should start there. Pemba Serves is a sales rep agency that specializes in high end outdoor, camping and climbing lines. We represent companies like Petzl, Mountain Hardwear and Atlas Snowshoes, among others. In short, I sell really cool gear to shops like Fontana Sports, Erehwon Mountain Outfitters and Midwest Mountaineering.

I will always count myself as a lucky person to be able to do the things I do to make a living. It's a job I wanted ever since I received my first Marmot clinic 11 years ago from Mark Giacomino. I count myself as incredibly lucky that I met my boss, Brad Werntz, and was given an opportunity that very few actually get. He took a chance on me and it's something I will always be grateful for.

In this industry, with this job, it's so much more about knowing the right person at the right time and having just the right skill set. I was that person in January of 2007. Very lucky.

What's funny is that one of my fondest memories about my first day was when Pete passed me a lime green Hirundos while I was in the middle of learning about our database and completely overwhelmed. I was astounded at how light it was and the simple act of playing with a harness calmed me down and made me feel welcome. I'm 90% sure that Brad had Pete bring that harness up from the warehouse solely for that reason. God knows that Pete doesn't care about harnesses.

It's those types of gestures though that make the outdoor industry so great. It's that type of kindness that makes it incredibly hard to say that today is my last day at Pemba Serves.

What's also great about the outdoor industry is that once you're in, there's a really good chance that you'll get to stay in. Starting tomorrow I'll be the sales rep for Columbia Footwear and Sorel Boots in Wisconsin, Northern Illinois and the Upper Peninsula.

I'll always look back on the years that I've spent at Pemba and think good things. It's a place that I've grown into and I truly enjoyed what I did. The people I've met and the coworkers I've had the pleasure to work with have been incredible. There are so many moments throughout the years that I'll look back on fondly.

In particular I'm going to have a tough time not working with Janice and Pete. Over the course of 4 years the three of us grew a friendship that was completely unexpected, but is something that I'll miss dearly.

Times change though, the opportunity was incredible and the offer I was given was something I simply couldn't turn my back on. It's something that was completely unexpected and is a job description that I couldn't have written better if I tried. Most importantly though, it's going to give me the opportunity to grow once again.

In climbing we constantly look for new challenges. New projects. New boulders. New areas. Having something new is clutch. It's something all of us rely on. I'm incredibly psyched for a whole set of new everything.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Tipping Point

Yesterday was everything that I love about climbing packed into a one day. I needed yesterday pretty badly and the timing couldn't have been better.

We started things off at North Shore and messed around on a bunch of the warmups over there. It's been forever since we'd climbed there and all of us had a great time and climbed a number of classics in the hour or so we were there.

Shortly after that we headed up to Venus Rising so Katie could give it a few tries. She'd apparently gotten really close the prior day but hadn't quite gotten the sloper.

After a couple tries she got agonizingly close but still ended up on the pads. Resolving to only give it 3 goes, she ponied the hell up on her next try and pulled out the clutch send with confidence. Honestly it was almost anti climactic as she just hiked it and made it look super casual.

This is more than likely the FFA of Venus and a landmark for Katie. Venus is her anti style and she'd made relatively little progress on it until this year when she all of a sudden got psyched for it. Even this spring she wasn't even thinking about doing it so it's great to see a nice little moment of progression.

Personally, it was great to see her finish a project as it's something I've missed this year. I've become accustomed to always being around when she finishes things but my year just hasn't allowed for much time outside so far. I was very happy to be there for this one.

After that Chris and I packed up to go down the hill to the roof and everyone else walked over to Fat Pants.

In short, Chris and I fixed the landing on the roof and figured out all the moves on the stand start project. Most importantly we did so without the aid of the detached boulder it sits on. It's something both of us felt very strongly about and we're very glad the moves go without it.

Towards the end of the day Chris started talking about how absurd it would be to use the boulder and proceeded to get a double no handed kneebar rest without either of his shoes on. I'm ecstatic that the moves go 100% on the roof.

In long form, we had an awesome day and spent a good 2 hours fixing the landing. It's a process that we relish for many reasons and it always makes us proud to know that we spent the time and put out the effort to make future climbing experiences enjoyable. Very few people have the same mindset and it makes me happy to have a friend in Chris that shares the same values as I do in that regard. We truly love the entire process of putting up new boulders and Sunday was an awesome day for both of us as we got to touch on everything we love about establishing new lines.

As for the climbing itself, it's incredible. Once we're done there will be two lines, a stand and a low. The stand is going to start on the undercling crimp for your right and your left hand will be on the main hold on the roof. It's obvious and extremely logical. I was able to do the first move, Chris was able to do the bump move and we were each able to do all the other moves. I think that either Chris or myself will do it next time we go. We'll see.

Now, the low start. Woah. It should start on the far left side of the roof and will go through a couple of incredibly hard moves that eventually links into the stand start position more perfectly than we could have planned. Chris was able to imagine the body positions and hold weight just enough to think it'll go. It will be incredibly hard when it goes but will climb through the entire roof. When done it will be one of the best in the midwest for sure.

I want to take a minute and thank Ian, Peter and Remo. All three of you have said something to us about not trying the roof until both Chris and I have had a chance to play on it a bit. I can't tell you how much it means to both of us and we truly appreciate it. Things like this are what make the Madison community so great. This has never been a closed project and never will be, but the fact that you guys have held off, knowing what it means to Chris and I, is incredibly nice.

That's enough of that.

I'm currently very psyched about pretty much everything. Life. Work. Climbing. Everything is pretty awesome right now. I haven't felt this good, physically and mentally, since I did Moj two years ago. It's a great place to be in and Sunday was a prime example of the best days that we get. Don't take them for granted.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Alpine Club

So not a whole lot to report at the moment. We're set up for a busy weekend once more and there are two weddings happening on Saturday. First off, congrats to Dobbe and Amelia! Gettin hitched. And Kelly and James will also be hitchin it up.

I'm particularly excited cause Kelly and James will be having a Tex Tubbs Teeny Tiny Taco's Burrito Bar and I plan on eating way, way too much food. We had Tex Tubbs at our wedding too and they did a crazy good job.

Climbing wise, Bonamici did Alpine Club last night. Nice work! He used a hand heel match for the first couple moves and then kept the heel for the crux. I know others had done the problem in pieces that way but as far as I know he's the first to link it using that method. Really psyched you did it Peter, as it cleans up the Alpine Club goal. Boom.

Sunday it sounds like we're giving Adam and Peter a tour of the East Bluff so that'll be good. Should be a fun day and I'm psyched to show those guys some of the new stuff.

What's everyone else up to?????

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Katie and I had another nice couple days out this past weekend. Fall is completely in swing and the lake was two scoops of crazy on Saturday. So busy and so many people there that it was incredibly hard to get around. Especially with a pad.

Ian was apparently guiding which sounded like the worst possible thing to be doing that day. Can't even imagine.

We met up with Peter and Blake at a newish area in between Anchorpoint and the 500 Ft. Field. I'm not sure if it should be a new area officially but it sits in kind of a grey area currently. If you stand in the right spot you can see Recreational Vehicle and Half Dome at the same time.

I ended up posting most of the problems under Anchorpoint but found out later that Remo had done a couple this spring and posted them in the 500 Ft. Field.

Either way, it's a very very cool little area with a handful of fun, safe moderates with good landings and interesting holds. The stand outs are for sure Empty Space and Loompa Land. Loompa Land is a classic, tricky V3 with really cool movement and Empty Space is a great V2 over a nice landing.

Empty Space, also great.

Loompa Land is probably the best in the field.

We also did a couple new ones, the Duke and Dutchess, just up the hill from the other problems. On top of that there is a very hard open project on the opposite side of the Empty Space boulder. I forgot to get a picture of that but I'll post it up sometime soon.

Duke goes up the right face and Dutchess the left.

Eagle Eye goes up the center of the face and Pine Needle arete starts where Katie is.

The chunk of rock that Peter broke. Fatty.

I think my favorite part of this new little field is that it connects one of the last bits of unknown on the South end of the West Bluff. As it stands right now you could have an absolutely killer circuit day starting at Anchorpoint and walking all the way over and down to Dog Walk and Pete's Pebble. You'd never be more than 50 feet from the next problem and nearly all of them have good landings.

Katie hitting Peter....God knows why.

That day in 2005 that Peter, Rhoads and I found Dumpster Diving we walked past a staggering amount of rock and I am BLOWN AWAY that we missed so many boulders. In all we walked within 50-100 feet of these problems:

Empty Space
Loompa Land
Crimp Toehook Proj
Eagle Eye
Pine Needle arete
Half Dome Proj
Snake Dike
Flower Power
Black Sheep
Can We Cane Em?
Moo Stache
Magnum PI
Railroad Spike
Pete's Pebble
Storm Troopers/Right
A View To Kill

Plus, many others that I just didn't list here. It's kind of absurd now that I write that all out. Christ.

On Sunday we went out to Dodge and met up with Sam and Aaron. Sam finished up Split Personality rather quickly but was kind enough to have one last breathtaking dryfire on that last left hand crimp before the lip. After that I did Irrationality after a protracted effort that included far too much bitching and whining. Fun movement on that thing but damn it hurts.

Suck it Jugs.

After Camp B we drove over to Strong Men and went down in the wrong spot. I'll be honest and say that there are some Dr. Seuss style pricker bushes over there. Fucking terrifying. Katie found the correct approach on the way out and it was much less death defying, btw.

Katie made awesome progress on it and figured out some great beta for the rig. I'm expecting she'll do it next trip out there, once things cool off a bit. We finished up at Grounded For Life and called it a day.

I noticed something about Grounded that I hadn't thought about before. It's had start hold creep over the years. Originally it started on the flat crimps in this picture and it's gradually moved down a bit. I'm sure it's part natural progression and possibly also some erosion that's made that a bit more possible. Interesting nonetheless.

See the original start hold towards the left side of this pic

Also, it looks like another flake broke off the start of Out Past Curfew. Here's a video of Sam being awesome.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Changing Over

I'm gonna keep this one short but just wanna say that I'm really happy to see people getting out and climbing as fall approaches. Sounds like Sweaty, Sam, Remo, Ian and Katie had a great day up on the East Bluff yesterday. Katie was able to finish off Fat Pants, which looks really incredible, and Sweaty was able to do Rail Gun.

Sweaty also climbs until he is bleeding it seems. Katie said that he was bleeding on all four fingers and "still looking for other stuff to try". Amazing. I'm glad you were able to get out bud. Sad I couldn't be up there with you though.

On a more personal note, I have made a rather big change personally that I'll be able to reveal officially in the near future. Sorry for the tease but suffice it to say that describing me as happy right now would be a massive understatement. More to come on that.

In the mean time here's a video from our day out at Governor Dodge last Sunday. We had an unexpectedly great time doing moderates none of us had ever tried. It was great.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Greatest Pebble On Earth

Before I start any other conversation I want to say how incredibly cool it was that we got to see the crux move on Greatest Show done 4 times on Saturday. It was an impressive showing by a motivated group of individuals and I'm happy for all three of the guys that stuck it. In particular, Aaron and Chris who have spent many days on the line. It was so nice seeing their hard work rewarded. This is not to say that Jeremy's stick wasn't impressive, it was, but it was great seeing those guys stick the move for many reasons.

I'm incredibly happy for Chris as he was the only one to do the line. He worked hard for it and I'm happy he stuck to his guns and did the direct exit.

Watch the video below please, before commenting any further:

1 - Aaron. What a punt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOW!!!!!! One of the most heartbreaking things I've seen, given what happened 10 minutes later. I truly hope you don't turn into an alcoholic.

2 - The Pebble. Wow.

I think we all knew in the back of our minds that it was gonna break someday but I honestly didn't think it would happen on Saturday. Earlier in the day I insisted, to Jeremy of all people, that it wouldn't break for a long time. I was dead wrong.

Immediately after the pebble broke the conversation came up of whether or not to glue it back in. As of right now Chris has the pebble in his possession and no decision has been made. I want to preface this with the request that we stay as drama free as possible here, if anyone comments at all. I've brought up a number of topics throughout the years and have always appreciated the respectful discussions we've had. The Alpine Club post was a perfect example of having a nice talk with many voices and opinions whether that be Remo, Ian, Runnells, CE, RV and whoever else.

Gluing holds is always a tricky debate and is something that we've largely stayed away from here in the midwest for a number of reasons. Namely that our rock is either too hard(quartzite) or too soft(dodge) to warrant any need. Greatest show is an odd example since it was a quartzite pebble that stuck out of a relatively soft layer of sandstone.

It's a hold that many thought would probably break and this increases the difficulty at the very least 1-2 number grades, which is a substantial jump. Not only was it a key handhold, it was a very key foothold.

On my front, I'm 100% neutral in this. I'm not invested enough in the problem to want to throw anything out there. We have many other local climbers that are much more invested in Greatest Show that should have a greater voice in this than I. That's not to say that I don't have an opinion about glue, but I'm leaving this up to others.

It's easy to come up with a knee jerk, blanket reaction, much like I did on Saturday. I spoke at length with Katie about it on the trip back and I can honestly say that I don't know how I'd feel if a hold broke on a problem that I cared about deeply. Say, Moj. If the right hand juglet broke off I would be pretty crushed and incredibly sad. I can't say what my opinion would be but it's safe to say that I'd be conflicted. That problem means so much to me on a deeper level than anyone will ever know, which would only make the decision harder.

The scary part to me is that it's actually a potential on that problem. Rock directly below that hold has broken twice now and there's a crack in the back of it. Water seeps through there and I can see that happening at some point in the future.

On a lighter note, here are a couple of my favorite quotes from the afternoon:

- "Where's the good hold?!?!?" - Aaron, after sticking the crux a second time, looking for the jug undercling around the corner.

- "You better do it now!!!!!!!!" - Pat, laughing hysterically, after Jeremy stuck the crux and broke the pebble.

- "Too many donuts...." - Jeremy, after breaking the pebble.

- "He's like a Barrel!!!!!" - Katie, after watching Aaron rocket to the ground shortly after exclaiming, "I'm losing it".

- "Keep spotting guys...." - Chris, on the mossy, wet slab after the crux, listening to everyone screaming happily that he'd done the problem. About ten minutes earlier I'd faceplanted on the topout while on rope when my foot slipped on an otherwise dry hunk of rock.

I'm gonna leave this with one thing. Please be courteous to everyone's opinions. There is no right answer and there is no wrong answer.