Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving Break is Over

Back to the real world for a few weeks as the semester ends. Over break I ran Mount Sanitas twice and Green Mountain once but virtually no outside climbing. My project at the Spot went down, well up to the lip of the Hueco boulder anyway. Those who frequent the gym may know the crimpy red taped problem on the right side (V9/10?). Rehab continues...

The holds are coming down at CATS and I know because I started on Sunday! By the end of Christmas break, the walls will be stripped, repainted, and reset for a competition in February. The density of holds at CATS is legendary and I estimate between 50 and 75 per square yard for an actual number. I'm looking forward to setting new problems, especially since there will a few new features added to the walls.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Apologies to All re: Trice

Jamie, Andy, Chip, and Justin (and anyone else reading) , my apologies for sounding too critical about the repeats of Trice. Jamie especially deserves credit for his solution to the problem. Perhaps I should have thought of it myself when I was trying it. I agree that it's time to move on and appreciate your comments on my blog. I'll try to be more moderate in my language and opinions from now on and think more carefully about their impact. Thanks for the reminders.


Monday, November 19, 2007

Further Thoughts on Trice

Climbing Magazine has published its account of the repeat of Trice. Dougald MacDonald pointed out that neither Carlo nor Jamie used the sequence that Holloway used but that Holloway's height made that irrelevant. Holloway's height had nothing to do with it. Not to beat a dead horse here but the fact is that the difficulty of the problem resided almost exclusively in staying on the two bad handholds despite a lousy sloping foothold for the left. To use the high left foot, which is small but very positive, is to negate that challenge and create a new totally static variation. For a longer problem, Automator in RMNP, for example, changing beta doesn't particularly matter. For a two or three move problem it creates a different problem altogether.

I applaud Carlo's initiative in choosing to try the old sequence as it was first done. The quibbling about the starting holds is meaningless in the context of the real crux. If Carlo doesn't get it, I nominate Paul R as most likely to actually repeat Trice as Holloway did it.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Do Rocks Have Consciousness?

I'm inclined to say yes and here's a New York Times article that gives some support to the idea. I'll write more on this later. Read the article and let me know what you think.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Real Climbing News--Ben Safdi Wins Big Scholarship

In contrast to the previous post, here's some good news, another item in the "You Can Climb Hard and Succeed in Other Things Too Department". Ben Safdi, who has climbed numerous v13 and up problems has been busy elsewhere, like science labs at CU. I saw a photo in Friday's paper of Ben receiving a $10,000 check from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. According to an article in the Colorado Daily, he has co-authored an article in the journal "Science" which is a really big deal. He is hoping to do graduate work at Cambridge or Princeton in the near future. There isn't space to cover all the areas in which Ben has impressed me as a budding polymath so congratulations will have to suffice.

I hope that other young climbers will emulate this kind of dedication. If any readers hear of similarly inclined climbers, let me know.

Fake Climbing for the Future

There is more to life than ticking the latest test-pieces, especially when they seem to be getting easier(or is it harder?) over time. The last issue of Climbing has Timy Fairfield on the back climbing the Web which is now apparently 13c, according to the photo caption. For more see my entry at It's back to the future for this pioneering sport route. See also comments at regarding Geminis at Rodellar, rated 8c, now 8b/8b+.

The phenomenon of fake climbing marches on with a pretty scary interview with Timy Fairfield at La Sportiva's website. Consider the implications, if you can wade through the jargon, of this statement:

"One of the most profound (disturbing for some) distinctions between the past and the future of climbing as an action sport, is that in the past, the practice itself dictated the way the industry advertised and marketed to sell gear, while in the future, the evolution of how the practice is manifested may be more influenced by the PR value of image-based advertising derived from youth marketing strategies seeking to distribute a codified identity.

The robotic language tries to present as accomplished fact a proposed effort to market climbing to people who aren't climbers. This might be a warning to those who, failing to actually make a career as climbers, might be tempted to try to earn a living in the "industry". At some point you may be asked to swallow the Koolaid about promoting the "rock-climbing industry" instead of promoting climbing. Again:

Eventually, kids won't even need to buy safety tested technical gear to consider themselves "climbers" (or boulderers). Practitioners already prioritize spending their (parents') disposable income on shoes, chalk bags and crashpads. They'll be able to buy videos, posters, clothing and watch our comps on television without ever squeezing a thing other than the joystick on their "super climber agro-dyno" video game. Sad, but it will only cost our industry a mere $4M to develop this game.

A climber who would say such a thing, even for the sake of provocation, should be asked why. Promoting a vision of climbing as a marketed, branded, sedentary virtual video game is a genuine failure of vision. Climbers sponsored by the company or those thinking about using its products should ask Sportiva to explain what it meant by publicizing Fairfield's remarks. I am reminded of a comment by Ron Kauk. He said that there are two types of people in the world; those to whom everything is sacred and those to whom nothing is sacred. We are always forced sooner or later to decide where we stand.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Trice/AHR Repeated

Last night Carlo Traversi and Jamie Emerson repeated Trice, a significant event in bouldering history. However the asterisk factor emerges as both climbers used a foot high and left of the starting holds. If historical specificity is an issue, as Jamie mentions regarding the starting holds, the picture that I posted below shows Holloway tackling the holds straight on and hence the problem has still not been repeated as Holloway did it.

What is interesting to me is the way that the original problem is like a work of art in a particular way. The original really is never repeatable, never really rediscoverable. Any of us who do the problem in 2007 or later are ultimately climbing something else, an idea in our heads, the essence of which vanished on the day that Holloway climbed his problem. I sense the same can be said of all climbs or ascents of climbs, that something is brought into the world that quickly vanishes and which all the cameras in the world can never actually capture. If climbing is a quixotic quest, surely trying to retrace the steps of a boulder problem of 30 years ago is the most extreme example.

There will be a mini-media frenzy about all this I'm sure but it feels to me like the participants are chasing something that disappeared long ago. To paraphrase someone,"Holloway has left the building". Now is the time to find our own legends while respecting those of the past.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Hiatus from Blogging

It's that time of the year when the semester ends and everyone myself included is too busy. Just a few quick notes

1. Climbing has decided to stop printing the F-word and it's about time. A very good sign that other periodicals should emulate. Climbing is not about gangstas, but mostly well-paid white guys hanging onto rocks. This is not the hood.

2. Momentum Video is trying out a pay-to-watch plan for its videos. A quick visit to the site reinforces my belief that the viewers should be paid to watch climbing videos. Every minute spent waiting for a tiny grainy video of a (usually) well-paid white guy hanging onto rocks is time you will never have back. I'm not sensing this business model is going to fly

3. I finally did my Rehab problem at CATS (maybe V9) after a lot of work. Thanks for the encouraging words Paul. This was last night and marked also by my doing a move that Paul did not do on a problem that he will complete long before I even get close. But little victories are worth something. I am a big fan of Paul and will try to interview him for this blog.

4. Cngrats to Olson, 3rd place in Boston!

5. Running Mount Sanitas is hard and not conducive to good climbing the next day

6. CATS will be hosting a comp in February and the holds that have been up for at least five years are coming down. Get your projects done!!!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Lots of Comments about Trice

It's good to see all the comments about Trice. I look forward to seeing it get repeated and maybe one day doing it myself. One thing about babies, they wake up in the middle of the night and take some calming down and then so do mom and dad. And all of a sudden it's 4 am. And so on. Not the ideal training environment but you learn to deal.

I'm going to a little gallery opening this evening in Fort Collins where a couple of my paintings are on display. I must admit that oil painting can be at least as addictive as climbing and far more difficult to do.Here's a video of Sophia moving along and a sample of my work as a painter.