Friday, April 27, 2012

Smooth Moves With The Gentleman: Advice For The New Climber

After a long hiatus that I can only assume is due to an overwhelming need to focus on ignoring any semblance of good footwork, The Gentleman has returned to the fray.  This time, instead of dating advice we're blessed with a staggering amount of premium advice for the budding climber.  I encourage everyone reading this to add their own advice in the comments in the hope that this will turn into the seminal piece of writing on the subject and a must read for any and all new climbers. 

So grab your coffee, a bit of bourbon and a fine Swiss chocolate to make sure you can thoroughly enjoy this edition of Smooth Moves With The Gentleman.

A Few Words from the Gentleman…

As mother nature decided to skip spring this year and jump straight into a hot sweaty summer, I’ve been climbing in the gym lately. I’ve noticed a lot of new people. And by a lot, I mean, a “what the F- happened why are so many people here” amount of new people.  Money. Yeah!  Great news for Boulders, actual, paper monies, that they can fold and put into their wallets… or to buy new toilets with fancy buttons to push.  This does lead to one thing, new people doing new people things which can be generally terrible for everyone that’s not a new climber.

Everyone starts somewhere, me, I started in a Chinese monastery where I was trained to kill with my bare hands (or in Wausau, whatever you want to believe). Being the naturally-helpful person that I am I would like to charitably offer some advice…

This comes first. Nothing is more important.  Ever. Before you even think about climbing, think about how awesome you’ll look while climbing.  Some people think less is more. I agree. Yes, spandex Victoria Secret boy shorts are both comfortable to wear and provide maximum range of motion… unless you’re a dude, then no.  If you’re more of loud wacky unique rebel kind of person, may I recommend cheetah print pajama pants? Comfy? Check. Loud? Check. Stretchy? Check.  How can you go wrong with Cheetah print or leopard print or maybe tiger stripe??? That’s a trick question. You can’t.  Also gloves make sense, right? I mean, you want that extra grippi-ness while still looking like a bada—weight lifter.  I definitely recommend fingerless gloves, you know, like the kind Patrick Swayze wore in the 80s… God I miss Swayze.  

Mesh tee-shirt you say?  How about I one up you and go right over the top?  MESH-HALF-JERSEY. Show off the peck and the abs, bro. 

This is a gym, Boulders Climbing Gym, see says it in the name. You’re here to exercise and people will be standing near you and probably looking at you and definitely judging you. I recommend perfume (for guys and girls) and lots of it. Smell pretty climb pretty we always say.  And if you don’t we have bathrooms so I’d say just go bird bath it in the bathroom.  

Speaking of bathrooms, did I mention the magic push button toilet of the future? Yeah, that’s right it’s the Toilet of the Future. Just try and break. Maybe go eat some blazing wings and unload that fiery, vengeful wrath of god pouring out your bottom into our new porcelain spaceship. We’re all rooting for you. P.S. Feel free not to wash your hands before returning to climbing. 

Is everything… well, everything that your outfit doesn’t let people already know, which is that you’re a Baller (capital B). Look, just act like you know everything and it’ll be all good. I recommend doing whatever you think is awesome.  You know what’s awesome? Hand stands. Lots of handstands.  Word on the street is that weird stretching is also pretty hot right now, like yoga style, got to make sure that groin stays loose, am-i-rite?  So downward dog it up. Where ever is good. 

Also, people love hearing your opinion on things so I would suggest telling it to them whenever possible. Especially the staff. So here’s the plan, find someone and just un-load.  Whatever is on your mind. 

Climbing is all about skillz. Gotta have’em.  Sweet skills like no feet skills, or bare foot skills or upside down skills, or run up and jump to a hold skills. These are important. Work on them.  Upside down barefoot skills are probably the most useful thing in climbing. I know I need to get better at them. Some people argue with me about this. They’re stupid.  

Something new I’m working on is my no hands skillz. Because if you’re good without your hands, image how good you’ll climb with your hands. I know, right? Makes sense. It’s cause I’m smart. 

Bring it all together, into one tight, awesome package, some would say the “total package”. Be the total package. 

Yours truly, 

The Gentleman.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


This past weekend was maybe one of the most tiring.  Thanks to a large contingent of climbers from Duluth and Minneapolis that came down, we were busy pretty much the whole time.

Kraig, who I'd known from my last job, came down Friday night with a bunch of people.  We ended up meeting them at the North Shore where I was pleasantly surprised that the bugs weren't too bad.

After a couple of nice warmups the day started to go a touch south.  Pete from Duluth nearly topped out Big Bud but got a bit sketched and jumped off.  Unfortunately he hit the edge of a pad and broke his ankle in a terrible way.

Katie was instantly on the phone with 911 and reasonably soon he was off to the Baraboo Hospital.  I've never really seen anything like it and multiple people almost threw up.  Later in the day we morbidly joked around that Pete had a "Putter Foot" and that his foot was incorrectly facing "Northwest".  

I really hope he heals up well and can come back at some point in the future.  Maybe next time he can get 2 tries in before crippling himself.

After awhile Kraig left to join Pete at the hospital and the rest of us went over to Anchorpoint so that everyone could get on some nice, short problems.

Once we had our fill there we trekked up to Jenga just so everyone could live the joy of the false summit when you come through the trees and realize you're only halfway there.  Levi and Sean both finished that one up reasonably quickly and Katie gave a good amount of tries on Hippos, coming very close on that one once again.

The only other highlight up there was when I insisted over and over that Seam Project was completely safe and that the boulder didn't need a pad.  Then, in a daring show of irony, I promptly stepped up to show them how safe it was, tried the move, fell on my ass and hit my head on the tree.  How that happened I don't know, but my ass is just starting to not hurt.

We ended the day over at Massive Vertigo, Hipsters and Tunder Tighs where Andrew punted multiple times off the top of Tunder Tighs, Kraig hit his ass on a sharp pointy rock and everyone accused Massive of being some elaborate joke for visiting climbers.

On Sunday we took it a bit easier and spent the day at Burma.  Aaron and Dobbe met us out there and we had an extremely good time.  I always forget that Burma is a favorite of mine and it was a perfect spot for the group.

Everyone got on a bunch of stuff while Dobbe, Aaron, Katie, Kraig and myself tried a project in the cave, just to the left of Pinball.  We dubbed it the White Elephant Project.

While it may not be the most classic thing at Burma, it was fun to try new moves and the project is a startlingly accurate portrayal of traditional DL climbing.  At first the feet feel impossible and it feels crazy hard.  Then, as you get used to the moves it all kind of clicks in and things start to feel more comfortable.

I actually really enjoy climbing on this style of problem as it's not a strength of most people, myself included, so it's always a fun, low stress time.  Sunday was no exception.

None of us did the line but both Dobbe and Katie did the second move with Aaron, Kraig and I not quite able to latch it.

What was kind of great about it was that all of us were using completely different beta, yet getting to the same place.  There are a bunch of options with a ton of similarly poor feet.  Should be a decent little addition to the area once it's done but I fear that it'll suffer the same mossy fate as Pinball does since it requires a Greatest Show style of consistent cleaning.

Either way, it's always fun to try something new!

Here's some random pictures:

Here's a quick video of the idiocy from the past weekend.  Enjoy.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Light Days

Recently I've felt "light". The longer I climb the more I realize that those days are few and far between. As injuries have racked up they've become far fewer in number.

When it does happen though, as fleeting as it may be, it's so nice. Everything feels effortless and previously unenjoyable workouts become fun and easy.

Case in point. I'm a terrible runner. I'm slow, I plod, I shuffle. Anyone who knows me understands that I'm not built for endurance sports.

Since my shoulder injury I've become a consistent but slow runner. I'm good with that. Through the past year though I haven't been able to do both running and climbing at the same time. Whether it's been injuries, job or lack of interest things just haven't lined up until the past month or so.

Over the last few weeks I've been able to get into a routine of sorts. Running and core one day and Hangboard and Climbing the next. It's felt good to be training a bit but up until this past Monday it felt rather terrible. Then on Monday it clicked in. I had a great Hangboard workout on the Moon Board and then felt fantastic climbing that night. Light, snappy, powerful. Something I haven't felt in a long time.

Then the next day I had a great run. Keep in mind that I haven't run longer than 4 miles in a couple of months now, and even then the longest I've ever run was 6.5 last August or September. I started out and figured I'd run a couple miles on the shore of Lake Monona and then turn back. I made it a mini goal to run around the Lake at some point this year.

It felt great though so I just kept going. At a certain point I hit the mindset of feeling like I'd run far enough that it'd be a long ways either way so I finished up and ran around the lake. All 11 miles of it. 4.5 miles further than I've ever ran.

Totally random. Totally unexpected. Oddly fun.

Weeks like this aren't often for me but they're a nice reminder of how good things can be. Motivation and strength come in waves but here's to hoping that everyone is feeling good as spring looks to wrap up.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Belated Weekend

So Saturday turned out to be pretty fantastic. Katie and I were rather stunned with how few people were up at the lake, not even counting climbers. The place was just dead.

First Katie and I got on Tipping Point. I had rather little forward progress this time but Katie made some headway on the first move. She can't quite reach the toe hooks so she has to get a left hand/heel match which is absolutely absurd. It's stunning how close she got to sticking it too. Really impressive showing by her and I think she'll do the move soon. She described it as the absolute hardest move she'd ever tried.

Then we made the short walk over to the Money Pit project. Another find from last year that I hadn't had time to try. Despite it looking rather simple, it turns out that it's quite hard! Towards the end it felt a little better but I'm excited to get Chris up there since he's got a bit more size and some stronger fingers.

For anyone that wants to try it, it's all chalked up and ready. The landing is fairly good (I'd feel comfortable trying it with a big pad and a half pad) and it has a reasonably obvious start with two sloping crimps just above head height. Plus it'll stay cool in hot weather since it's in a cave/pit thing. Easiest way to get to it is to go directly under brototype. It'll be right there.

After we got back we found out that Ian had done the Pit Problem at Burma after Peter, Blake and Sam had cleaned it. Not sure if any of them also did it but I'm really glad that one is gonna be resurrected. Back in 2006 or so Kelsen and I went out and tried it for a half hour or so. Between the both of us we did all the moves but couldn't put it together and never went back. The first move looks impossibly long and has terrible feet but I remember begin stunned that we both did the move first try.

I'd be very interested to head back out that way and see how it looks all cleaned up. Would be fun to finish that one up. The holds on the face, if I remember right, were incredibly cool crimps and the line is incredible. I'm sad that it gets so dirty so fast but great effort to those that helped clean it off.

On a camera note, I started using my flash again and quickly remembered how fun it can be! I haven't used my flash in commander mode since RV, Katie and I tried Strong Men Also Cry maybe 3 years ago. We got a couple nice shots in though.

In general I've never been a fan of the over the top flash/strobe look. It just looks too fake to me. Too staged. A couple of my personal favorites are the pictures below.

Anyone that's been to Split Personality knows that it's kind of a dank, dark, musty hole. It rarely gets any light, it's almost always wet or damp and it's incredibly hard to take a good picture of it.

On the day I took these I got very lucky. I had the flash below Katie and a bit to the right. I snapped them as she stuck the crux move for the first time, on the send and for whatever reason the light was perfect. If you didn't know better there's no way you could tell that there was artificial light in play.

I've actually tried to replicate this multiple times with varying degrees of success. None of which turned out as well as the above pictures.

For some reason though, I really enjoyed how the pictures above turned out. Again, Tipping Point is a tough one to take pictures of. It gets zero light and the problem almost forces you to blow out the picture to make it look decent. I almost like the "staged" feeling of these. It fits the problem.

Oh, one last thing. Chri$ sent me this video yesterday. Worth a watch as there are some big whips in it. I even think I spied Chris Esser a handful of times. Look for him a bit later in the video making some sad whimpering sounds as he takes a couple of giant whippers.

Friday, April 13, 2012


When Remo and I were driving back to the lake a couple weeks ago we went through and came up with some benchmarks for the lake. I thought it was actually pretty cool to think about and wanted to post it here at some point. I'd be curious to hear what others think of it too.

V0 - Super Slab

V1 - Tall Boy

V2 - Big Bud

V3 - Slope Of Dadaism

V4 - Flatiron, Smooth Operator, Double Elephant

V5 - Wrestling the Bear, The Hipsters (open to suggestions on these. V5 and V1 were by far the hardest to figure out)

V6 - Starfish, Jenga

V7 - Fat Pants, Tunder Tighs, Bulbous(??)

V8 - Beautiful Soup, Sex and Chocolate With A Cherry On Top (I think we had others but can't remember right now. Remo??)

V9 - Alpine Club

V10 - Keymaker

What do you guys think? Either way, that's a damn fine list of problems to do at the lake.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


This past weekend was a weekend of failing, flailing and falling. Except for Ian. He did some new moves linking into Shaking Hands With God at Burma.

First Chri$ failed on Bulbous, coming incredibly close in the process though.

Then Chri$ hurt his hand on Rubik's Cubicle. Thanks Tony. We're blaming this on you since you put that thing up.

Then Katie and I flailed on the El Parasol project.

On Sunday I went up and watched Esser do the first move of El Parasol and come close on the third. He tooted the first time he stuck the first move though so that was pretty funny.

Then after Chris and Sarah left I went up and failed on some stupid arete by the Tilted Boulder.

Once it started raining I ran down the hill to the Cheddarmilker and failed some more.

And that's about it I think! John and Paul did some new/old stuff over on the east bluff but other than that I'm not sure who else got out. The weather looks grim for this weekend but hopefully it turns out ok. Here's a couple pictures.

Katie and Chri$ at Bulbous

Katie on El Parasol

Chris, breaking holds

Friday, April 6, 2012


A little bit of knowledge is proving to be a dangerous thing. Katie and I went back up to the Cheddarmilker project yesterday evening for an hour or two. In short, nothing noteworthy happened. I adjusted my right hand a bit and it feels less tweaky and more solid now but I still couldn't do the big bump move. I was able to get some contact on the hold and I think the move is doable.

That said, it's a far ways off as of now. I need to get much better as a climber, not just stronger, to be able to do this one. When my progress is measured in how much skin I lose each try it becomes clear I should try some other things for a bit.

After we were done freezing our asses off in the air conditioned cave we went for a search. Katie found a number of boulders that may have something and we also finally saw that giant slab that looms over the north end of the talus fields. Sadly it's a death landing but it is absolutely incredible. Maybe we can fill in the pit a bit...

Then on the way back we stopped by and looked at the boulder that Tony found. It is very cool and is a great find by Tony. I'm excited to go back and try it. He gave it some effort and came away thinking it might be possible, but very hard. I can only imagine it's hard as Tony is a strong one. Also looks like there's a pretty cool warmup or two over that way.

New boulders!

I think we're gonna try to get out tomorrow morning before the rain hits. We'll see!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Spring Gems

Here's what happened this weekend:

1 - Nic came down and did a Five Ten shoe demo on Friday. It went really well and a bunch of people tried out some awesome shoes.

2 - After pledging to drink 14 beers Friday night we combined to drink 8 and then promptly passed out.

3 - Nic ran an awesome setting clinic Saturday morning and afternoon. He did a fantastic job and I know that personally I learned some valuable things. Not sure about anyone else but I appreciated that he took everyone, myself included, a bit out of their comfort zones and forced people to try things a little bit differently. Too often we get stuck in what we're 'good' at and it's nice to get a reminder that there are other ways to do things.

4 - Nic, Remo and I went up to the lake on Saturday evening for a quick session. Nic almost rear ended me. I hit myself in the balls with a 4 foot pry bar taking my pad out of the car. We got lost. Found new talus fields. Nic and Remo put up a sick new compression line called Lost In The Wood. Found more boulders. Found the Monolith trail a solid 40 feet from said new boulders. Nic tried Sex and Chocolate With A Cherry On Top. Nic failed at climbing Sex and Chocolate With A Cherry On Top. Remo did a lap on Sex and Chocolate. Nic did Tipping Point. We had an epic pad golf game that ended in near pitch black in the parking lot. Nic hit me with his pad in the parking lot. I hit him in the balls.

5 - Katie did Hipsters on Sunday. Fast.

6 - Katie tried Tunder Tighs and Remo ran another lap on it. That problem will be fucking hard for Katie. Christ.

7 - Remo and Esser did Bud White. Aaron jumped off after getting to the topout.

8 - Chris, Remo, Aaron and I tried the Smooth Op Roof Project. All of us were able to pull off the ground and get established and Chris and I were able to slap the left hand on the first move. Remo was able to hold the position for the second move after we power spotted him on it.

9 - Chris hung on the juglet and the juglet exploded into many, many pieces. Personally, I think the problem is better for it.

10 - Aaron renamed the project. First he called it the Cheesemaker. Then he called it the Cheddarmaker. Then we all settled on calling it the Cheddarmilker project. I like it.

11 - Sarah finally did Magnum! She was absurdly close to doing it late last season and I can only assume that she did it rather quickly. Nice work.

12 - I edited this video together. Enjoy.