observations on gear, adventure, and the world

Training

Where my head is pointing.

Over the last four years I’ve had lots of hobbies. Lots of dabbling. I started a company, learned how to build websites, started recording a podcast, a couple blogs, and countless other projects. Then a year and a half ago I started climbing again, then I quit my job, and got into a PhD program and suddenly all I was doing was studying and climbing (working as well still). I realized that just wasn’t bored anymore. Also, I realized that I’d been bored for several years, and that was where all the projects were coming from.

Now math and climbing have my full attention. I’ll be posting at tenlitre.com about the math side of things, but I’ve got a bit to say over here about climbing and other adventures.

THIS has my attention, and trad is the only way it could ever be.

THIS has my attention, and trad is the only way it could ever be.

Now on to the pun in the title. Headpointing. A version of redpointing where the protection for the route (useually a rather short route) is minimal, so the leader reherses the route on toprope until she is ready to send. The saying that “good climbing is the best protection” expands to “good climbing is most of your protection.”

I think this is a great way to find safe, adventurous climbing.

I live in the Wasatch where there is a strong anti/limited bolting ethic. Maybe it’s like this everywhere but folks are always on Mountain project complaining that there are bolts too close to trad lines and that it ruins the experiance.

Now, I’m totally in support of differing ethics for differing places (I grew up in Minnesota climbing at Taylor’s Falls (no bolts), Devil’s Lake (no bolts), Palisade Head (no bolts, no chalk), the WAZ (no climbing), and Barn Bluff (bolts), and I don’t think you should put a bolt ladder next to a crack that takes gear, however in a place like Big Cottonwood Canyon where discontinuous systems of cracks mean you could place offset brass every six inches and rip them all with a fall I’m inspired not to be a purist.

I’m thinking of this because of a couple of routes “Alien”  a 5.10a first climbed by Drew Bedford, Pokey Amory, Jamie Cameron, and Conrad Anker, and “Dirty Rotten Horror” 5.10d. Both are difficult but possible to protect, and both have bolts nearby, and MP comments on both have plenty of bolt bravado.

In both cases the bolts don’t get in my way at all. On Dirty Rotton Horror, which I’ve dialed on top rope, I never even see the nearby bolts and am psyched to try the arete they protect as it’s one of the few other lines at the cliff that looks fun to climb. On Alien I clip the bolts on  lead, and if I’m of the mind I’ll start headpointing to lead up to a trad lead on the route. In the first case the bolts have no impact on the route, in the second case the bolts improve the experiance making it much safer and simpler to work the route.

Here’s the post that got me thinking about this:

New E8 at Kilnsey for Nik Jennings

Exodus (E8 6c) – the failures from nik jennings on Vimeo.

So get out there and clip what you wanna clip and bolt what’s fit to bolt.


Sending Hard

Always psyched to see Adam Ondra climbing hard:

This winter is the winter of working hard at the climbing gym. I may never get another winter where I can climb this much.

I’m trying to keep it simple. I focus on getting a good warm up – flashing easy problems and doing progressively harder repeats until I really start to feel strong and fluid. Then I’ll work on sending problems that I can get in 1-3 tries, as well as repeating really hard problems, and trying starts of all the problems that may be at all realistic. When I find a problem that is just a bit over my head but seems realistic, I’ll give it three good goes often starting further into the problem if I’ve already done the lower moves. After three good tries I move on to another problem, but the next session I’ll come back and pickup where I left off.

The goal is to balance a well rounded workout with getting a lot of climbing done and really focusing on developing good patterns of movement. Also I make sure that I spend some time on the steep problems building strength and power.

I’m sure I could find an insanely hard problem and work on it all alone for a long time and break into some really hard grades, but I’m really motivated to be strong climbing on routes this spring and summer so I’m really interested in being able to move confidently on tough terrain.

 


RSS mess

I’ve not been able to keep up with the really amazing stuff that’s been coming through my RSS feeds lately. So I’m gonna dump it here and now.

First, David Lama is going to blow up alpine climbing. Big time. Here’s a taste of things to come. freeing the compressor route was just the beginning.

So they used ice tools on their ascent and Will Gadd knows a thing or two about holding and swinging them tools. Here’s a post with a very clear title: How to hold an ice tool.

Kelly Cordes, rumored to climb ice, approves of David Lama (he said so on Facebook so it must be true) and Maurice Sendak.

The best thing I’ve ever read on climbing injuries, because it quotes all the other best things I’ve read on climbing injuries. Get well soon Dave MacLeod!

Boots don’t fit? Lace’em gooder!

Five things. A Cold Thistle guest post.

Soloing is cool if you’re good at it.

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Belay Jackets and Warming Up

Even though those topics sound related they aren’t really.

Dane from Cold Thistle has put together a rather exhaustive post on the belay jacket for alpine climbing.

He argues that synthetics are the way to go, and I’ll agree for the use case he’s talking about. But for a winter trip to the desert I’m going to say that down is better. Your pack is already pretty full right? And maybe you’re a bit warm on the walk to the wall, but then you want all the warmth you can get while you’re chilling between burns.

Since we’re already talking about climbing and staying warm, it makes sense to talk about climbing and getting warm.

The power company climbing blog, one of the better training resources out there has a great piece on warming up to send your project (route). This makes me curious about warm ups for bouldering. Sometimes, specifically when I’ve worked a problem to the point that I just need to come back fresh and send it, I’ve been surprised that after about three problems of increasing difficulty I’m ready to send. This may only work for me because I ride my bike about 20 minutes to get to the gym and do lots of hand and arm warm-up exercises between burns.


Break on through.

I was working out at the Front Climbing Club last night, and I realized it’s time. Time to break through.

I’ve been working hard all spring, summer, and fall to get better at redpointing, trad, and all of the skills and mentalities that are essential to climbing outside. Now it’s cold. Too cold to spend a ton of time climbing outside (I do want to get out on some LCC granite before the next storm though). It’s time to bring the focus back to the gym and become a solid 5.12 climber.

Dave

Sonnie

And here’s something inspiring – The video is called Punks in the Gym, but as impressive as that route is I’m really inspired by China Doll. The speaks to my obsession with cracks.

I agree about the well rounded climber! I think it’s more fun if you can climb more stuff.

I’m applying for PhD programs and taking the GMAT over the next five weeks, but I’m going to put together a training program so that by the spring I’m ready for a trip to the Creek, Big in Japan, Goodrow’s Wall, and everything else I can find! I’d like to raise my on site level to hard 10 from easy 10. WE’ll see.


What to do and what to bring.

Between getting in some great climbing, and working on getting into grad school I’ve had a lot of gear show up at ampersand HQ that I haven’t been able to write about.

But I’ve come across some great stuff in my RSS miasma that I thought I’d share.

An entertaining and very useful post from Blake Herrington: General Dirtbaggery: Saving time, wasting time and explaining climbing on the Internet. Great common sense answers to common questions, for example:

Q: Is climbing safe?

A: No. But you can make it safer by worrying about the things that actually cause the most accidents, such as falling while unroped on exposed, “easy” terrain, rappel-rigging mistakes and communication errors.
Great! Simple and focused on what matters.
Since it’s nuking in the Wasatch right now here are some Backcountry Ski Pack lists:
From Ski Theory, What’s in My Pack and Why. Alex packs a lot of stuff, but he knows why he’s carrying it. Give it a read,
From Get Stronger Go Longer, Grand Teton Speed Project: Weight Matters. Brian brings less, but has reasons for that too. Also some ideas to consider.
Then, maybe somewhere in between (I know these aren’t apples to apples) from Camp’s Go Light Go Fast Blog: ELK MOUNTAIN GRAND TRAVERSE – TEAM CRESTED BUTTE GEAR RECOMMENDATIONS.
I like Brian’s thinking to help me not bring anything superfluous, I’ll be glad I didn’t skimp too much because of reading Alex’s post when things go sideways, and I really like to TCB post because it’s for a longer adventure but with Brian’s mentality.

First Female V14

The gender gap is shrinking!