Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Moderates at Chaos

Here are some photos of moderate problems at Chaos. Maybe they already have names and grades so my names are only suggestions.

New Human Being. A classic V1 or 2 behind European Human Being--It looks nondescript but has cool moves, perfect rock.

The green 75 slab. Just behind the tree are two maybe three fairly high and thin slab problems, still undone? This boulder is just south of EHB.

This I would describe as a V3 or V4 traverse "Lakside Amusement". Start low on the jug on the right and go straight left to the topout. Classic moderate warmup on the backside of the Green 75 boulder, facing the lake. A number of straight-up problems go through the overhang but the landings are bad.

A little climbing at the Spot

I took a week off and decided to try some easy climbing. First I went to CATS but unfortunately it was far too crowded. The Spot was much more mellow and I did 15 or 20 problems up to 4-spot in difficulty with no real issues which was nice. Caolan and Sophia had a good time as well. The Spot is very popular with couples who have babies because you can easily switch off child care.

I visited a website called which is all about British climbing and brought back some memories of time spent in Sheffield in the mid-80s. I'll write more on this soon...

Monday, August 27, 2007

New Video

She who must be obeyed telling it like it is.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Running Green Mountain

Still trying to rehab my shoulder from whatever rotator-cuff mess I induced at the Spot about a month ago, and made worse last week. Memo to everyone--do not push it with a shoulder injury; the joint is flimsy enough as it is. So basic exercises, maintaining range of motion, icing and rest for a week or more.

I ran Green Mountain via Gregory Canyon and the Ranger trail this Saturday and saw a fair number of people on the trail. I was running with Willa, our dog who is about to turn 11. She kept up just fine up and down though she was tired later. Amazing

Trail running has become very popular of late and I have noticed more people out on the local hills. For me there is a style element involved which means you never walk or "power hike", even if there is no speed advantage to running. The game is to maintain running momentum and stance even in hard terrain. So the challenge is one of strength and continuity. I'm hoping to run Audubon before the snow starts but we'll see.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Frontrange Climbing News and prediction

In the instant feedback environment of climbing today, news of Paul Robinson's ascent of Jade a supposed V15 in Upper Chaos spread fast. With it of course speculation about the grade of difficulty and Jamie Emerson has called it correctly in my opinion. What will be the next super project? I think for a problem to really hold its top level status today, it's going to have to be quite a bit more sustained and way less straightforward than Jade. The model for the future is a problem like Circadian Rhythm in the Poudre but longer and more abstract. The image below is from Climbing Magazine

Pulling on little crimpers, while I'm fond of it, is too straightforward a technique of climbing, almost like ice climbing so that the difficulty resides solely in angle, distance between holds, and their size, which for Paul or Daniel is almost irrelevant. The interesting question may be whether the trend is heading back towards routes, where linking sections of V13 or 14 between clips points to the future of hard climbing. After seeing Paul or Daniel easily flash V11 and 12 crimp ladders in the gym, it's clear that the search for difficulty has to take a different direction than thin crimps on a steep wall.

Monday, August 20, 2007

First day of school

First day of school so no more play clothes on weekdays for a while. We all went up to RMNP to go for a walk and take Sophia up into the mountains. We had a little rain but the sun soon came out and we had beautiful weather up to Emerald Lake. Sophia had a great time riding in her carrier so maybe Chaos Canyon next trip. The shoulder is feeling better so maybe some progress for fall? The NE face on Hallet's is amazing but I have to get my trad skills in order for a route of that magnitude.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Pad Stashing Controversy

Overheard at the Spot: "I don't know what the big deal is about, everyone should just stash their pads way off the trail." I didn't chime in,"Because it's lazy and it's disrespectful of the park and the environment". since I didn't want to get in a fight, not while holding my daughter anyway. But it's incredible that there is any controversy over a basic requirement in climbing--pack it in, pack it out. If you can't handle that, leave the sport and the area to someone who can. For more perspective visit this forum regarding a pad clean-up at Mount Evans and Chaos Canyon.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Is summer already over?

I'm starting teaching again and my mindset is already changing. I can only guess how often I'll be climbing besides the gym but we'll see. MOre later

Friday, August 10, 2007

Back to the Park

Another early morning drive up to RMNP. Very breezy, almost cool weather at first. A long warmup doing problems around the EHB boulder. I did an excellent traverse on the back of the Green Slab boulder, just south. Maybe V3/4 20+ feet long. Also a brilliant V1 on the backside of the EHB boulder itself. Sadly my shoulder is not getting better as I'd hoped so the project was going nowhere. I'll post pictures of the problems I found soon. Nonetheless a beautiful day--hints of fall in the air

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Barry Bonds, Age and Improvement

Barry Bonds reached 756 and many, myself included feel, that something is amiss. Yet one of the criticisms is that he began to improve in his mid-30s. My hardest routes/problems were done in that timespan and I feel there is considerable room for improvement yet, after 30-odd years of climbing. Is there something to be said for longevity in a sport? I think so.

The steroid/doping scandals in the news this summer seem to speak to a dissatisfaction with how we reward the "winners" in our society. What do they really deserve? In climbing there are no real rewards for winners--free shoes anyone?--so the attitude towards cheaters is generally very scornful but no one's going to trial or answering questions from ESPN.

There was a brief vogue with creatine in the 90s in climbing but that seems to have faded along with reports of 6th ascents of 14as. In climbing at least performance-enhancing drugs seem superfluous, given how quickly the pack catches up with the leaders. And the leaders, well read below...

Adam Ondra, 14 of the Czech Republic, managed a likely 14d in three tries one week and then, next week, in a day redpointed Silbergeier, a six pitch 14a in Austria. This is a route with serious runouts in an alpine setting, requiring a cool head and real rock sense. Amazing. Silbergeier has seen relatively few ascents while the previous ascent of Abysse, the 9a, took over two weeks of tries, both done by solid, respected names in the sport.

Is there any other sport that sees young athletes reach such an incredible peak so quickly? Women's gymnastics is the only contender I can think of and seems much more subjective in nature. Anyone can try a hard route and see for themselves what's involved physically but we can never revisit a gymnastics meet or second-guess the judges. So what is the factor that allows climbers to move forward so quickly? Or even "old climbers" to climb levels/routes thought impossible when they started?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Another Visit to RMNP

Drove up to "the Park", this morning to have another go at European Human Being. Cool and cloudy, definitely humid. I was feeling very creaky--still in recovery from a really bad cold and tweaking my shoulder Sunday. I spent a lot of time creating easy boulder problems on the slabby walls in the vicinity of EHB. There's a beautiful green wall with prime V2(?) highball potential just around the corner. A slow warm-up but eventually I got on the problem. No real progress but no surprise there. I was able to move on the holds but not connect moves much.

But enough about the project... Consider the spider web hanging just right of the problem. Fragile evanescence suspended between massive boulders. Yet their silk is supposed to be stronger than steel by weight.Or the lush ferns and grasses at the base. Clouds billowed above Longs as the sky lowered and darkened. I had enough and was beginning to feel achy and stuffed up so I packed up and headed out as the rain began. Pausing along the way, I saw the sun glinting off streaming slabs in the cirque northwest of Longs, a moment passing in time.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Monday--Cloudy and Humid

Feeling very sore after a short session at the Spot yesterday. I've been recovering from a nasty cold which has knocked me out for about 4 days so far. Did a five-spot (maybe V7) and a few fours and then ran out of energy completely. Running this morning was still low-energy and a sore right shoulder didn't help. Maybe tomorrow will be better...

Tyler Landman repeated Daniel Woods' problem "Jade" recently. This is a beautiful problem, rated at V15. Will it hold its status? RMNP has had a number of top-end problems make the news and then slide into oft-repeated status in recent years. Nuthin but Sunshine and Freaks of the Industry are two classic examples. Circadian Rhythm in Poudre Canyon appears to be in this group. How does this happen? As someone who has generally seen his FAs get upgraded, I wonder why climbers are so quick to propose the higher grade without outside input. In the case of Dave Graham's problems, perhaps he was so far ahead of the curve that it took a while for the pack to get the skills to accurately assess them. In the end the problems and the routes remain after the crowd moves on to another place.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

End of Summer

I've been thinking about other things than climbing and blogging for most of the summer, mostly about art and history. Also a fair amount of trail running. But I thought I should add something anyway. Climbing-wise, I've been mostly indoors, at the Spot and CATS. A couple of trips to RMNP, one to scope out upper Chaos Canyon and another to work on European Human Being, a well-known and very difficult V12. (Beta photo attached) The second trip was nice because I went up in the morning and didn't see another climber the whole morning.

Chaos Canyon is a very beautiful spot but most afternoons resembles an open-air climbing gym. Do any of the climbers who come here just stop for a second and think, "What an amazing situation--maybe I should just sit and admire it for awhile and think about what really matters". This is the problem with the group mentality of bouldering--you can't just stop and think and watch the world go by.

Perhaps it's a symptom of age... At 43, most climbers are not seeking digital immolation on a short crimpy problem. However I want to reconcile the meditative and thoughtful side of climbing with the physical side and see where that leads. The energy of youth is wonderful but too one-dimensional at this point. The interesting struggle begins when things turn less in your favor. Do you have the fortitude to continue when the point of climbing can seem lost? When physical strength seems to be harder to maintain? When you simply have far less time? Ratings become meaningless in the face of these questions yet the quest for some sense of excellence in the sport never ends. You have to rely on yourself for answers not on others, most of whom are far too young to understand.

Art presents the same set of problems albeit in a less physical way. In painting, what is it you're trying to say? Can you say it? Do you have time to say it? Will it matter to anyone else? And as in climbing, you have many examples of excellence to admire, emulate, and compare oneself with. And time does wear on...

So if anyone reads this and is wondering what I mean, look at the clouds drifting by. It could be over Long's Peak or it could be your backyard. What part of you is more substantial than those clouds? How much of what you think is real is simply made up, a bunch of symbols to signify something you can never truly express or grasp? And as you climb, consider which is more substantial--you or the shadow cast by a passing whisp of vapor? Maybe too many questions but after 30 years of climbing, they cannot be avoided. But while playing on the rocks or painting, I consider them, if only for a while.