Sunday, October 21, 2012

New Five Ten Post

Not much has been happening recently. I posted my most recent blog update on Five Ten's website.  Here's a link to it for those interested.  Fall is coming!!!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Back to my Routes!

It has been two and a half years since I spent a considerable amount of time on a rope.  When I hung up the rope a couple of years back my intention wasn't to stop sport climbing for this long of a period of time.  My goal was to boulder a solid 6 months in hopes of returning the following season with an increased sense of power and understanding of hard movement.  I hoped that the short amount of time away from a rope would help me succeed on my projects that I had failed to due because of the lack of power.  Well, six months turned into a year, and a year turned into just under two and a half years.  I got kind of sucked into the bouldering game and it has been a nice change of pace.  I have learned a great deal about rock climbing and difficult movement through my bouldering hiatus.  Just recently I was stricken with the urge to start climbing on a rope a little bit more.  Thoughts of routes I had tried and failed on in the past started to brew in my mind and I was hooked.  The first couple of days sport climbing again felt heinous!  Luckily I take to endurance oriented climbing pretty well and I started to feel good again within the week.  That was about a month and a half ago and things have been moving forward quite nicely.  I feel like I have a good base and have been concentrating on power endurance more than anything else. I've been trying to get back up to the Red for some time now but it seems that I either get shut down by the weather or previous obligations.  Last weekend though, I managed to get out of Atlanta long enough to get up to the sport climbing mecca that is the Red River Gorge.

Preston, Jonathan, Sarah, and I met up around 10 p.m. after Preston and I finished coaching for the evening.  We realized that none of us had eaten dinner and that all the quick service restaurants in the area were closed for the night.  Luckily we live in the land of Waffle House so we were able to stop at this fine dining establishment to fill up our hungry bellies in just under 20 minutes. So, we were finally on the road around 11 or so.  A great start to the trip, to be sure.  We didn't care though.  Psych was high!!!

Enter the rain.  We hadn't even reached Chattanooga and the rain started dumping from the sky.  Buckets.  Lots of buckets.  Again, we didn't care.  Psych was high.  Six hours later we arrived in Slade, KY.  Buckets still dumping.  We reached the campground around 5:30 a.m. and we quickly set up our tents and passed out.

Skip ahead 3 hours.  The sun was shining and we had awoken from our long slumber.  Psych was too high to go back to sleep so we started the morning routine of coffee, egg and avocado filled pita, and oatmeal.  The breakfast of champions.

The motherload was our first destination of the trip.  The first climbing destination at least.  The Chocolate Factory, my main motivation for returning to the Red, was too close to not go take a look at.  I had spent a little bit of time at this wall almost three years ago when both The Golden Ticket and Pure Imagination were still projects.  I remember flailing around all over the Ticket in the hot, humid June weather wishing for good conditions.  Unfortunately, conditions were about the same that day as they were three years prior.  Warm and muggy.

After a quick look at the wall we were on our way to the Motherload.  Conditions were less than ideal but we had a good time warming up.  Jonathan, Preston, and my buddy Brad all tried their hand at a couple of routes before we bounced back over to the Chocolate Factory.

The Madness Cave - Sarah Bain Photo

Jonathan on Flour Power 5.13b - Sarah Bain Photo

Like I stated previously, my main motivation for returning to the Red were the routes at the Chocolate Factory.  I had my sights set on The Golden Ticket (5.14d) because I had been on it a couple of times a few years ago and had my ass handed to me.  It was totally beyond me at the time and I thought it would be cool to check it out again after 2 and a half years of bouldering.  My first go up the route went well. I managed to do all the moves on my first or second try and figured out some good beta.  I rested for a while before giving it another go.  My goal was to try to make it past the bottom crux at the 4th or 5th bolt.  The crux revolves around two small edges and a big deadpoint to a good hold.  I surprised myself and somehow managed to make my way through this section and found myself at the next bouldery section which involves huge spans between good holds.   This section gave me a lot of trouble a few years back and I only did the moves one time.  The power I've gained from bouldering translated well to this section and although the moves were still at my full span, I managed to link this section into the final boulder problem. The final boulder problem is a hard one.  A hard gaston move with the left hand into an amazing flake feature leads to a fall in move with the right hand.  After this you make a couple of moves up the flake (at least I do with my short person beta) and make a few more powerful moves on edges before you are at the anchors. At this point I wasn't pumped, just really fatigued.  I stabbed at the flake feature with my left hand, stuck it for a split second, but was too worked to keep it together.  I am really happy with how the route went, especially with nasty conditions and lack of sleep.  I feel like I can do the route really quickly now that I have it figured out and now that I have confidence again in my route climbing ability. This route is easily one of the best routes I've ever been on.  The movement is unique, the holds are all comfortable, and its just really FUN to climb on.  Needless to say, I can't wait to get back to this one.  I've been watching the weather religiously hoping for good weekend conditions.

The Golden Ticket 5.14d - Preston Alexander Photo

The Golden Ticket 5.14d - Preston Alexander Photo

The next day we decided to head to Drive By, a crag that I haven't really spent that much time at in the past.  I had my sights set on Supercharger (5.13d) and was able to hook it up with the quickness.  Preston and Jonathan tried their hands at the striking Kaleidoscope (5.13c) and both came close to doing it.  They also tried Dirty Smelly Hippie (5.13b) and Spank (5.13a) coming close to success on both.

Kaleidoscope 5.13c - Sarah Bain Photo

We woke up Sunday and realized that it had rained all night and that climbing was probably not going to work out.  After some deliberation we decided the best thing to do was to hit up Kathy's for breakfast and head home.

In addition to climbing routes outside, I've been spending a lot of time in the gym preparing for SCS Nationals next weekend in Boulder, CO.  I've never competed in a competition like this before so it'll be interesting to see what happens.  I feel like I'm in pretty good shape at the moment so I'm excited to see how the event turns out!

I'm heading back to the Red early tomorrow morning.  Sarah and I plan on waking up at 6 and driving straight to the Chocolate Factory.  Hopefully the weather cooperates and we are able to climb in decent conditions.  Psyched to get back! 

Sunday, January 1, 2012


The past month has been kind of a blur.  I haven't been keeping up with the blog because of lack motivation and because of a lack of material in which to update with.  I finished school for good in December and I now have more time to concentrate on climbing.  This is a long awaited moment for me because I've focused on school for the past couple years and have neglected climbing in some ways.  I'm excited to be able to focus on climbing  and am excited for it to be my main priority once again.

I'm in Hueco now with a great crew and I couldn't be more psyched.  I am enjoying a break from climbing in the gym constantly and am happy to be out of Atlanta for a minute.  I don't feel like I'm in the greatest shape ever and I certainly don't feel that prepared to climb on hard boulders but I'm making it my goal to try as many hard boulders as I can on this trip.  One of my biggest weaknesses in climbing is my lack of confidence on hard climbs and I feel like gaining experience on difficult boulders will help me in the long run. 

After three climbing days I feel like I'm starting to get into my groove and I finally managed to do a problem yesterday in the East Spur called Coeur de Leon, V12.  Below are some pics that John Gass snapped...

Coeur de Leon V12 - John Gass photo

Coeur de Leon V12 - John Gass photo

We are resting again today and are going to get up early tomorrow so we can try to get onto North.  Four more climbing days!  Gotta try and make them count!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


It's been a long while since I last posted.  Mostly because not much has been happening on the climbing front.  After returning from Colorado in June I was busy resetting the gym after youth nationals and studying hard for my last semester.  Since then I've been climbing in the gym a bunch and focusing on getting the semester over with.

This last weekend was the first leg of the Triple Crown bouldering series in Boone, NC.  Last year I swore it'd be my last year competing but I somehow managed to talk myself into competing again this year.  Lucky for me my friends Brion and Jimmy both decided to sit out of the Hound Ears comp which made things a little easier.

Competitors awoke Saturday morning to terrible conditions.  The roads were wet, rain was intermitent, and it was cold.  The judges decided to call the event and wait until Sunday in hopes of better conditions.  A group of us decided it was best to go into town and grab breakfast and then try to head somewhere other than Hound Ears to climb.  We settled on going to Lost Cove and when we arrived at the parking spot we were greeted by sunny skies and a crisp breeze.  It was amazing to find such great conditions only 15 minutes away from Hound Ears and we had a pleasant day climbing in the hills of North Carolina.

Sunday was the perfect day for a Hound Ears comp.  Temps were cold and the wind was blowing.  The day was really enjoyable.  I was able to climb with my friend Nate Draughn the entire day which was quite nice considering we don't get to climb together all that much.  After it was all said and done I managed to win my first Triple Crown event and Nate ended up taking 2nd.  It seemed like everybody was climbing strong and having a great time. Check out Brion Voges' video below for some climbing in Boone...

Last Saturday was the Stone Fort portion of Triple Crown.  It was a little odd competing in two events on back to back weekends but it turned out to be great.   The conditions were completely opposite from Hound Ears the weekend before.  It was sunny and humid with temps in the mid 70s.  Again, I was able to climb the entire day with my buddy Nate Draughn and we were able to come out in 1st and 2nd place again at this comp.  For now its back to the gym and back to school work.  I have 2 months left before I graduate and I am looking forward to never picking up a textbook again.  This weekend is going to be low key but I'm hoping to get out to Boone before the end of October.  I'm psyched on a bunch of problems in the south right now and can't wait until December to make it back to Hueco!   

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Back to the South

Well our time here in Colorado is coming to a close.  On Sunday John, Preston, and I went back down to Lincoln Lake for a final session in the area.  It was quite warm but I managed to make a flash ascent of the INCREDIBLE Honey Badger V10 and I was also able to hook up Unshackled Sit V10 with the quickness.  I have to say that Honey Badger is amazing and if you are ever at Lincoln Lake you need to at least look at this problem. 

Unshackled Sit V10 - Photo: Allen Chaney

Honey Badger V10 - Photo: Preston Alexander

Our last climbing day was Monday and we went back out to Area A to try and finish up some unfinished business. Long story short, none of us were able to pull anything off!  Oh well!  NEXT YEAR! Although I would have liked to finish off Ode, failing to do it gives me the the extra drive to get back to the gym to train harder in order to accomplish future goals. I am psyched to get back into Stone Summit and train for the remainder of the summer with goals and projects in mind for the fall and winter season.  I've seen huge gains from our training sessions at the gym and I truly believe that this is the best gym I've ever been to! 

Today we will be spending our time packing, sitting by the pool, and eating more ice cream.  Tomorrow we make the long 23 hour journey back to Atlanta.  Thanks to everybody for the encouragement while I've been out here.  Much appreciated!  That means YOU, Jonathan Brandt!

Ladies and gentlemen, Jonathan Brandt.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Area A

After 2 days of rest we decided to head out to Area A in Mt. Evans.  The snow situation in the park is keeping us from heading up there and a break was needed from Lincoln Lake.

My goal for the day was to try and do No More Greener Grasses V12 on the Dali boulder.  After a quick warmup I scoped the holds and laid pads down underneath NMGG.  I knew if I made it through the hard second move that I had a really good chance at flashing the boulder.  After the hard second move there are only a few more crimp moves and a committing jump to the lip before you top out.  I pulled off the ground, got the right hand just right and was able to snag the good left hand edge.  Once I hit the next good right hand edge I prepared to give 100% on the big move to the lip.  Luckily, I was able to snag the lip and was able to top out first try!  SO psyched to be able to do this boulder quickly.  I've wanted to try it for the longest time and flashing it was a dream come true.

No More Greener Grasses V12 - Photo: Nathan Drolet

No More Greener Grasses V12 - Photo: Nathan Drolet

No More Greener Grasses V12 - Photo: Nathan Drolet

Another goal of mine for the day was to try and work out the moves on Ode to the Modern Man V14.  I surprised myself by falling off the jump move to the sloper on my third try.  This happened a couple more times before I put a hole in my finger and was forced to tape up.  Things didn't go quite so well after the tape went on and I only made the difficult match move a couple more times before calling it a day.  I'm really psyched to get back out to this one and hopefully we can catch some cooler temps in the morning sometime next week. 

Ode to the Modern Man V14 - Photo: Nathan Drolet

Ode to the Modern Man V14 - Photo: Nathan Drolet

Ode to the Modern Man V14 - Photo: Nathan Drolet

Ode to the Modern Man V14 - Photo: Nathan Drolet

Ode to the Modern Man V14 - Photo: Nathan Drolet

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Lincoln Lake Update #2

Thursday was another great day at Lincoln Lake in Mt Evans.  After a quick warmup Preston, Nate Draughn, and I went over to The Great War for Civilisation V13 to try and finish it off.  It was Nate's first day on the problem and he was able to make some nice links and work out some good beta.  I'm sure he'll be back for this one!

On Preston's second go of the day he managed to do the boulder!  So sick.  He fell off the last move again on his first go and absolutely killed it on his second try.  Impressive!  It took me a while but I also managed to put the boulder together and topped out with a cheer.

I spent the next couple hours hanging out spotting and enjoying the scenery of Lincoln Lake.  Near the end of the day I met up with Brion at Little House on the Prairie V12.  After figuring out some nice beta I was able to do this one as well!  I really enjoyed Little House and I don't think I could find a boulder problem that suited me better.

Little House on the Prairie V12 - Photo: Nate Drolet

Friday John Gass, Preston, Voges, and I went out to Lincoln again.  We had the craziest weather I've ever seen.  Sun, wind, rain, sun, snow, sun, wind, rainbows, sun, more snow, etc.  It made it quite a challenge to climb because by the time the holds had dried out and you had pads down and your shoes on it would start to rain or snow again.  We had one or two goes each between storms so we had to make every effort count.

Rainbow over Lincoln Lake

Storm moving in

Terrible conditions

Voges and I were psyched to try the slopey, technical  The Mote in God's Eye V13.  We arrived with shovels and were prepared to dig out the boulder.  Luckily it didn't take too long to uncover this gem and within about an hour pads were down and we starting working. We were able to figure out a good method and we both topped out relatively quickly.

Voges digging out The Mote in God's Eye

The Mote in God's Eye V13 - Photo: Brion Voges

We hiked out to encounter a crazy wind storm at the top of the hill and we decided that we deserved some delicious Beau Jo's pizza and Little Man ice cream for our efforts...
Little Man Ice Cream

Beau Jo's!

Unfortunately, I went back to John's spot that night and watched the video of Dave Graham doing the first ascent and realized that we had started with our left hand on the wrong start hold.  We were planning on resting yesterday but when we woke up in the morning and looked at the weather we saw it was going to be kinda sketchy the next couple of days so we made the quick decision to head back out to repeat the boulder with the original start method.  We were both able to repeat it with the original start and Voges was also able to make a quick ascent of Stuntin' Season V12.  

The Mote in God's Eye V13 - Photo: Brion Voges

Since the weather is going to be bad for the next couple of days we will be resting, playing Mario, and eating ice cream.  On Tuesday the plan is to head up to RMNP to see what conditions are like and hopefully do some climbing on the green 45.  PSYCHED!