Monday, August 31

Rest stop

Recently my definition of rest days has become increasingly blurry. I've found that my enthusiasm for new-routing has lead me to leave unpredictably arduous laboring for my 'rest days' (a.k.a. those days I don't rock climb). I figure, 'Well, I'll rest from climbing tomorrow, but I can still clean this new route and install some anchors.. right?' After a few weeks, this grey area has finally taken it's toll. Yesterday my muscles made it very clear to me that they were considering a body wide strike if I did not take an actual day of sit-on-your-ass-and-do-nothing rest. I reluctantly surrendered.. and here I am, sitting on my ass and doing nothing!

Enter the full time rock climber's rest day... For myself, the rest day is like a bookmark in my week. I consistently shove everything non-climbing relating into this narrow window; things like laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning, emails, errands, bathing, shaving, etc. By the time I have sorted through the days activities I have a rejuvenated ambition to get out and climb along with a closet of clean clothes, a fridge over-flowith and a triple blade smooth shave. I often have my next few days (until the following rest day) already planned and sussed out.
Before this grey area I spoke of, I'd been resting more frequently, and it has been amazing. I used to rest once a week, or sometimes less. I'd hammer myself in the gym and then outside on my mountain bike for the entire winter with so few rest days over a month I could count them on one hand. It was this past spring, after I had trained hard for my first competition, SCS Nationals, that I found myself burnt out on plastic climbing. I decided that I was going to limit my time spent indoors, despite the still frigid conditions outside. Thus, I ended up resting more and by the time spring was in full swing, I was crushing it. My 6 days a week training program had shifted back to 4 or maybe 5 days of climbing per week. I feel strongly that it was a proper combination of hard, persistent training, followed by allowing myself more rest that lead to my successes over the spring and early summer.

As with the last few years in general, during the summer I am not concerned with training. I am concerned with rock climbing. There is too much sunshine and great stone around for me to torture myself inside the BRC, although the occasional season always feels great.

On this glorious rest day I created some new graphics for the site, I'm doing the grocery thing (one of my favorite activities by the way), emailing the sponsors and sharing some tea with friends.. all the while I'm gathering excitement about the climbing days to come.

Thanks to everyone who came out and enjoyed my birthday with me, be it at the crag, the cabin or out drinking and dancing in Boulder. #24 was a memorable one for sure. Cheers!

Photo: Jstar photo- Steph Carter is not only resting, she is straight chillin'.

Friday, August 28

JSTAR @ 24

I successfully completed my 24th revolution around the sun yesterday! And it was a killer birthday up here in Estes, with a gaggle of old and new friends sampling some of the routes I've worked to establish at the Wizard's Gate over the past couple weeks. A brand spanking new line that I bolted on Wednesday during rolling thunder storms and occasional rain went down yesterday. It's a mega-pitch that extends the former 5.11 called 'Guillotine' into a mind bending 30+ meter climb that tackles a beautiful panel of near featureless granite and a number of interesting mini-roofs. Somewhere in the 12+/13- range, the beast is called 'Afterlife' and saw three ascents yesterday by myself, Tommy Caldwell and Kelly Cordes.
Andy Mann was there dangling on a rope and learning new static line ascending techniques that made hilarious entertainment for Kevin Jorgeson and myself- sorry Andy, shit was really funny though. BUT! as to be expected he captured some incredible photos of myself on my climb 'Cloak and Dagger' 13c (stay tuned for a preview). This climb also saw some additional traffic throughout the day, although it still awaits a repeat (which my guess will go down ASAP when Kevin acclimates or when Tommy returns from the mid-west).
Throughout the day, I received great positive feedback all around on the routes and the crag itself, which is music to my ears after spending many days of work and hundreds of dollars on the area- which has all been very well worth it. Stoked that people are enjoying it!

I'm still ambitious to to establish a couple more routes, 2 being fully trad lines and perhaps another moderate sport route here and there to fill some grade gaps. For the meantime, I'm going to put the drill away and just climb for a few days, as well as celebrate my birthday.

-On that note.. If you are in the Boulder area, make sure to check out DIRT MONKEY vs. NICK at the b.side lounge tonight (aug 28 @ 9pm- close) and give me a high five while you're at it cause I'll be there!

-the Incredible artist Janet Guenther is having an art opening at the b.side on Tuesday sept 1st @ 7pm, followed with beats by Dirt Monkey. Her work is AMAZING.

-Also.. The film series REEL ROCK FILM TOUR is opening in Boulder soon (sept 10 @ 7pm) featuring amazing footage of my friends Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson along with a slew of others. Not to be missed. Seriously.

Sunday, August 23

Wizard's Gate

Aight.. It's time to reveal my little secret. I have been putting in WORK up at a beautiful crag here in Estes Park that has turned out wonderfully. I can not wait to share it with the community and get feedback, angry phone calls and free beers alike! In honesty, I am super proud of the area and very confident that these climbs kick serious ass. I bolted climbs ranging from 5.9 to 5.14 and many more still await bolts, cleaning, trad gear, or all three. I want to extend a sincere thank you to my Dad and my friends Ben Randolph, Ron and Kat Lenz, Al and Peg Czecholinski and Kurt Krueger for all the pack loads, friendly visits, top roping and healthy feedback. My work is not yet done, but enough climbing exists that I am prepared to recommend a visit. Click Here to see the area in detail on Mountain Project. Let's go f*$kin craggin'!!

Thursday, August 20

Magic Carpet Ride

Life remains busy and plenty exciting. Between spending long hours dangling from cliffs and free climbing some incredible creations of my very own, I've been down in Boulder socializing, organizing and riding my mountain bike non-stop. I've got an action packed couple months ahead of me and I predict a lot of personal growth to come with it.

Starting from the top.. Andy Mann and I am putting together a feature article for Urban Climber Mag about our fantastic road trip which is gonna knock dem little socks off- look for it out next month. On a similar note, we are putting on a wicked slide-show at the Boulder Rock Club focusing on Colorado burl, on Wednesday October 7- details will be posted as it approaches, but expect beer, a dope raffle / give away and some awesome stories of hard sends and behind the lens laboring.

I am proud to say that I will be coaching beginning next month, both for the BRC Junior Team and for Robyn Ebersfield's amazing ABC kids. This is super exciting news for me. When this rock climbing thing fizzles out I am planning on seeking a career as an educator. Needless to say, I really love being around kids- especially kids with such talent as these. I'm sure I will learn tons from the experience.

I've also been put together a flyer and a poster for a special student event we are hosting at the BRC on Sept 4th. We are reaching out to the college crowd by offering kick ass membership rates for students, a $5 entry coupon and having a $5 open-til-midnight student night with live D.J.'s and the whole shibang. Should be a back-to-school good time.

Now for some juice! I bolted some new shit!! I have established a route or a boulder here and there before, but never before have I put this much consistent time, energy and $$$ into new-routing. I am HOOKED. I can hardly fall asleep some nights, thinking of good route names, potential lines and who I can convince to haul a giant pack of hardware for me. I am making up a killer topo and plan to create titillating route descriptions on Mountain Project, but in the meantime you will have to write me a note or call my cell to get approach beta. My most notable lines are 'Cloak and Dagger' an AMAZING, varied, super long and steep 5.13 b/c that commands respect.. and a brand new (today) climb called 'Magic Carpet Ride' 5.13+ that requires bold power endurance, toe hooks and drop knees up an immaculate wave of stone. Sickening.. just sickeningly good. I will post additional beta as soon as possible, but I'm steady bolting and trad climbing new routes for the next couple days at least. So stoked to share these routes with the community!

Tuesday, August 11

Sky-hooks dude!

Sky-hooks... freakin amazing. No, not the Kareem Abdul Jabbar kind of sky-hook. The little-hook-of-metal-that-could kind of sky-hook. It's like robo-climbing! Free climbing sucks man, you can get up anything with the right tools, no training required! Alright, alright.. thanks for the laugh. I have been dangling on a rope recently, desperately tossing my tools at tiny impurities, hoping that something sticks before that other thing breaks loose and I'm sent into a airy, relentless, spinning shit-show. It's called aiding kids! and damn am I stoked that we discovered free climbing. I'm also bitter cause I have no idea what I'm doing.
But it's the name of the game when it comes time to clean and bolt routes, and I'm actually enjoying the learning process.. kind of. Apparently some people go out just to aid, and then they are done, no sticky rubber needed, and they wear gloves!

Okay enough jokes. Needless to say, I've been stoked on route development. I was inspired to see the awesome local crags around Seattle and the plethora of crags near Salt Lake. We have WAY more stone than those two places combined in the Front Range, and yet route development has slowed considerably in the last 15 years. Partially due to numerous bolting bans, access issues and so on. However, I am convinced it is also due in large part to lack of interest by locals. Maybe the copious amounts of established climbing around here holds people back from taking more interest in creating new climbs. I know this is true for myself. I worked my way through a lengthy to-do list before I had the proper motivation to create something new. Well, in the spirit of the Flatirons rebirth (happening at this very moment!) I am hopeful to bolt some classics, and ambitious to find some new difficulty. I'll let you know how it goes!

Friday, August 7

Weddings on Rest Days - road trip part 3

I made some amazing friends was I was young. We spent incredibly long hours with one another skating, jumping on trampolines, playing mario kart and vandalizing. A group of about 15 of us managed to bond in such a way that I doubt I will ever experience again. Being an only child, these dudes really are my siblings and I think nothing less of them.

On Sunday, August 2nd, the first of us got married, and the rest of us showed with reckless abandon that we were still capable of tearing the house down. Ridiculous.. absolutely ridiculous.. we proved to our good friends extended family (including the family of his now-wife) that we do not hold back whilst cutting thy rug.
Needless to say, it was an embarrassingly good time. On Monday, we hooked up with our local friends Bret Johnston and Marshal Ballick, and drove over an hour north of the city to a somewhat secret crag called Equinox. After a pleasant hike, you drop down into a cavern of sorts to find large, fractured boulders and dense trees protecting a sizable cliff. It is beautiful here, and the climbs inspire. The warm-ups were some of the best climbs we did on the whole trip, featuring incredible, lazer cut edges on smooth black walls. Bret pointed me in the direction of the crag classic, a Ben Gilkinson route called 'Fight Club' 13d. After a few agonizingly close on-sights at or around this grade I wanted to take my time on this test-piece and really give a solid effort. Slow movement and relaxed breathing helped me claim the O-Box on this endurance-to-boulder-crux-bad-boy, however, I would have to dispute the grade was definitely too large for this awesome route. I also did a rad climb just to its left called 'Baby on Board' 13c and continued with the classic 'Groove Tube' 13a. A tried to sample or complete most all of the routes there, while respecting the many red-tagged projects. There will be lots more to play on when those things finally get done. As with most days, we arrived back in Seattle super late. Andy and I crashed, and before we knew it, we were changing lanes on I-90 heading east. 18.5 hours and a night camped at a rest stop later, we were home.
I've tried to spray a little about how rad the locals and these crags are, but for the complete story, some wicked tales not included here, and of course, Andy Mann's A list, amazing full size photographs you will have to wait until the next issue of Urban Climber Magazine comes out! Pick it up, get a subscription now, don't miss this issue, it's gonna be DOPE.

In the meantime, check out Sterling Ropes brand spanking new website and have a look at a couple Andy Mann photos featured there on my bio. There is also talk of a slide show potentially in September here around Boulder - I'll let you know.

Sunday, August 2

North Westin' (road trip part 2)

August has arrived, and with it comes great relief in the North-West. The worst of the 2009 mega heat-wave has passed, although temperatures remain above yearly average. We have been grittin' our teeth and just going for it, despite the tropical climate. Extreme laziness characterized by loathing in air conditioned places and dangerously early happy hours ALMOST overtook us, but NO! On Thursday we got all pumped and sweaty over at the historic Vertical World- Americas first commercial indoor climbing gym (second was the mighty BRC in boulder). This facility may show a little history, but the great angles, unique features and solid course setting at this classic gym definitely still inspire. Adam (manager), was super inviting and and offered us some free passes- he even waived the mandatory shirt policy on this 95 degree day. If ever I'm through Seattle during record breaking temperatures again, I will be quick to stop in Vert World.

After our session we were invited to hook up with our friends Keith Ladzinski and Lauren Lee over at the on-going Lee family reunion. We were greeted with some truly awesome hospitality that continued through the evening. Nothing like a little home cooking and some 'Apples to Apples' to refresh a couple of traveling rock climbers.

By Friday, the heat had subsided enough to inspire a trip to Exit 32, aka Little Si. After taking a spin through the guidebook I was thoroughly stoked to take a crack at this cliff. A nice, mellow 25 min. hike through overgrown forests in the heat.. and we were there, before a beast of a wall, all shaded. Stoked. Andy Mann and Keith Ladzinski were quick to ascend some fixed lines and Lauren and I eagerly started tying in. Little Si is the shit.. enough said.
Everything I climbed at Little Si was wicked and I found myself continually impressed with the quality of this crag. Most of the wall is broken into 2 or 3 pitches (it's giant), which can be run together with a 70m to create MEGA climbs. The upper section of this wall kicks back to a healthy steepness and is just featured enough to allow passage. Many of the classic pump-fests are a full 70m rope length, including stretch. The rock type is different than anything I've climbed on, although it shares many attributes of limestone and sometimes even granite. The wall features climbs from 5.9 (Andy Mann insists that it is the best 5.9 sport climb he has ever done), through 5.11 and right up to the business. Needless to say, we returned to Little Si for a second helping on Saturday. Bret Johnston happily pointed me in the direction of the classics and was nothing but stoked about his local training cliff (who wouldn't be).
I made some memorable ticks, including a stupidly close onsight attempt on 'Porn Star' (13d), falling from the final 5 feet on this humongous pitch - such a stunning climb packed with cruxes - it didn't feel much easier second try, so I was excited to finish it up. I did succeed on a flash of the powerfully delicate classic, 'Chronic' (13b) that day however, which I'm really stoked to hear is potentially the second ever flash (behind the great Lynn Hill). Saturday I did another amazing 70m rope stretcher called 'Black Ice' 13b/c that climbs through an amazing 12+ called 'Propaganda' before firing into a steep, sloppy and powerful head wall. I also nearly flashed 'Flat Liner' 13c, catching some serious air time off of the final move - the falls on this wall are unreal! I had to dig a little bit to finish this climb 2nd try- time for a rest day...

After three days climbing hard in the heat we are back to our favorite Seattle coffee shop, Verite, straight chillin. Today is the culmination of our trip in some ways - my good friend from high school is getting married. I'll be there to make fart noises during the ceremony and Andy is there to shoot amazing photos. This should be interesting.

Tomorrow we are hoping to get out for our last day in the North West before trending back towards the front range. Brett has offered to show us around, as has our friend Marshal - Seattle locals are bad ass.

Photos: Compliments of ANDY MANN - I'm gunning for the O-Box on Porn Star, Keith Ladzinski fires some photos from 35 meters..