Feeling Behind, but Getting Ahead… I think.

IMG_1436 IMG_1441 IMG_1432 My first day in Escalante in about a year. I wanted to get on my project from last year, but it was seeping from the recent rains. That allowed my partner (in the photo above) and I to wander and climb some routes that we had never tried. The 5 inch crack was great fun and really allowed us to practice our hand fist stacking. It was nice because there was another crack next to it that had fingers and tight hands out some small roofs. It was just a matter of dusting off some of the sand before we were able to let the good times roll.

Nearby there was a great little thin fingers and tips crack. After some work, the sequence was unlocked and with just the right amount of try hard the route was sent. Love the unknown and love being outside. Couldn’t ask for a better climbing day.

Collateral Damage

I had a great conversation about what it meant to climb hard while having a family and friends. What came to mind was the expression “collateral damage”. Here are the ways that I saw climbing hard as a family man/woman could cause collateral damage.

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  1. Time. The time you spend training and away climbing can be destructive to you and your family (husband’s/wife’s and kid’s).
  2. Travel Cost. The money that you dump into climbing from gas, to gear, to automobile upkeep, to gym memberships is not cheap and certainly cuts into your financial security.
  3. Obsession. This certainly creeps into your work life and creates situations where you may slip at doing your best in areas outside climbing.
  4. Perceived Happiness. This describes how you will feel once completing your objective. Unfortunately, it quickly fades literally seconds after you complete your project and are dreaming of what is next.
  5. Other. This list is not complete and I am sure that you can add a few other things that get the short end of the stick when it comes to climbing.

Moral of the story. Balance out things so you create the least amount of collateral damage in your life because as much as we like to think that climbing is the greatest thing, our families are much, much, more important!

The Grind… but it’s all Good.

Lately, I have spent more time training than climbing on real rocks. Sometimes when that happens I get down and sometimes I am in the middle of a training cycle and am just waiting to pounce on my current goal. Right now I happen to be getting close to the end of a training cycle and I am ready to pounce!

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My current goal (which I began last fall) is actually the climb on the front page of my blog. I am calling it Milk is for Babies and I am attempting to get the first free ascent. The name comes from my buddy Justin who was talking about Arnold Schwarzenegger and one of his early films Pumping Iron 1977. The line comes from the film and as Justin was imitating Arnold from the movie, I began to laugh uncontrollably. That was all it took to name it when I first began working on the route.

Anyway, as this route is particularly challenging to me I have had to design a specific training plan in order to develop my weaknesses. I began with a power phase where I worked on increasing my short and quick bursts of explosive movements. That lasted about 5 weeks. After a short rest, (1 week) I moved into a strength phase where I am doing many exercises related to adding weight to my body as I perform climbing movements. Success on this route will come from contact strength (since movements are dynamic), power (since moves are dynamic) core strength (since the route is on a 45 degree overhanging wall), finger strength (since it is a finger crack) and lock off strength.

The route is really about 12-15 moves and is like a long and high boulder problem. I will let a boulderer climb it without a rope after I complete it. For me it’s a roped route that is for sure! I can’t even work the upper moves without being on lead because the low moves are so challenging for me. If I were to work it as a boulderer I would rarely get to try the upper moves cause the start is very low percentage for me. I am hoping that the additional power will create a higher percentage for my success rate. When that happens, I will be confident in linking the route in one go!

I will let you know how it goes : )

Get outside and have an adventure!

Once I

What’s the Goal? One-Discipline or Multi-Discipline.

Where do you stand on this issue?

I like to feel like a specialist, but I love to be excellent as an all a rounder. Over the years I would like to say that I spent time becoming a specialist, but my purpose was to move toward becoming a big wall climber. I knew that I had to practice my skills for all types of rock and all kinds of movements, be it technical, overhung, slab, crack or off-widths. I think that the biggest area that I have left out over the years was the one that I was always afraid to commit to. Power. I always have been able to get around doing hard moves by using technique or climbing dynamically through the crux. Sometimes you can’t just jump through moves and you have to have the finger strength and raw explosive power for the moves. So for now it’s time to focus on one discipline while I keep my eye on the prize, a great all a rounder.

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Finally a Wall I haven’t Climbed at!

I went to a place in Ouray that I have always meant to climb at this past weekend. It’s called the Technicolor Wall. A cool start in the fall was followed by a perfect breezy and partly cloudy day allowing us to climb on the sunny southern exposed wall. It has a great variety of climbs that are super technical or juggy with awkward movements. I had a blast while trying to onsight routes with my partner and even more fun supporting his attempts to not fall before getting to the top of the climbs.

What I really like about onsighting is that I have to read new terrain, but also manage my pump, identify where and when to shake out and overcome that nasty fear of taking a big fall. When you climb on a particular type of rock for a long time you tend to know what type and size of holds are coming up even though you can’t see them. But when you are at a new wall you don’t have that luxury and it forces you to make sure you are confident in your movements. It is really fun and exciting to have all those unknowns to deal with on one climb.

So this past weekend, I got to go for it, get pumped out of my mind and read new sequences all while having the time of my life with my partner. I climbed, what I felt is one of the greatest routes at the grade in the US and there was no chalk and no lines and no beta being shared. That was a good time. Even though I blew the onsight by a mere foot slip on easy terrain at the end of the pitch, I can look back at the movement, the discovery of the rests, the questing into the unknown and the confidence that I gained from the experience. Have I mentioned that I love rock climbing!

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taking a big fall

Wow and Thanks!

The last few months I have been honored and thankful.

I have been featured in Climbing Magazine, Rock and Ice Magazine(online) and have had numerous photos and write ups in issue after issue within the climbing media.

I can honestly say that I never had plans for something like this to occur. I just love to go climbing and share those experiences with others. It is crazy how doing what you love can transition into so many opportunities.

I am heading out shortly to join Erik Weihenmayer on his quest to climb a bigwall in northern Italy and again I am honored and humbled by the chance to participate in such a huge undertaking. I have always wanted to help others achieve their goals and this time I get to live it with them! Most other times I have supported athletes it has been through a training program, but this time I will be along for the ride to experience the highs and lows and provide the needed encouragement that we all sometimes need. Keep checking for updates in a couple weeks as to how it all turned out! Until then, get outside and have an adventure!

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First’s

The other day I took out an accomplished climber who had climbed so much in the gym and on boulders that he became very powerful and strong. His route climbing was still coming along too. It was his multipitch climbing that he had overlooked over his first few years as a climber.

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I took him out to climb on the second pitch of a new route that I was working on and immediately had flashbacks of other times that I had provided a first multipitch climbing experience.

Here is a list of a few things that I remember that about those times that I took new climbers out to experience the big wall.

  • I am very used to the exposure and others are not (I have seen many a person get completely freaked out at the top of a bigwall. A film maker a student , other self proclaimed “experienced” climbers, the works. It is amazing what 500 foot of overhanging terrain does to ones self confidence. I have found that being off the deck is a complete equalizer for most climbers.
  • It is easy to not trust everything that you know. (Every single time that I have taken someone out with me that has been new to being way up there, they have questioned everything about climbing. Their harness, their knot, the rope, the bolts/hangers or trad gear, the belay device, the rock and even themselves.
  •  People forget what they know. Like how to climb.
  • Really, you forgot how to walk? Often times just standing at the top of a wall is so intimidating that partners have nearly stumbled off. I have to make sure that I take extra care with those folks.
  • White knuckling becomes a way a life for some. Literally every hold, draw, hanger, rope and everything else that you can cling too becomes a life line.
  • I take for granted how good my main partners are . These folks have a total understanding and comfort level on the wall and that can not be understated. Not everyone feels like they are on the ground while on the wall.
  • Dropping things becomes normal. I have seen pretty much everything fall from someone’s hands while on the wall during their first time up. Glasses, clothing, shoes, backpacks, food, water, quick draws, cams, nuts and slings.
  • Did you really forget how to breath and belay and rappel too? Yes, there was once a time where someone rapped themselves stuck into a fixed line and I literally had to pull them out from where they were stuck. Their muscle seized and they couldn’t even move. It was quite the learning experience for me and rescuing someone from something that I didn’t ever thing needed rescuing.
  • Could you forget how to climb that much? Yes, they can. I had a 5.15 pro not be able to make it up a 5.12- pitch. It was insane!
  • And finally, lasts. Often time the experience of their first time on a big wall, lasts in their minds forever. It is always good taking someone out for the first time cause you know that it will be with them forever. Not everyday that you go climbing is like that and that is cool.

So let me know if you are looking to get out on something big for the first time. We can have a good time of it and learn some things to!

Summer Recap

I was fortunate to have two mini climbing trips squeezed into my brief summer holiday. My school year in Grand Junction just keeps getting shorter and shorter every year. Soon I bet we will be working year round which will change things up a bit I am sure. But anyway I first headed to the New River Gorge to play on the rocks that I began climbing on over 20 years ago. Needless to say, I was very excited.

My climbing and training partner and one of my best friends Ben joined me for the trip. One week and the goal was to just climb 3-5 star routes first go. That means we wanted to onsight as many different routes that we could each day. It was extremely challenging to do that because neither of us had been climbing too much at that time and we certainly didn’t know the ebb and flow of the sandstone features of the New. Many of the routes that we chose were established by the two most prolific first ascensionists of the New River Gorge. Doug Reed and Porter Jared. I remember reading their names in the guidebook when I was just learning to climb and wondered what it would be like to establish a new rock climb. Now over twenty years later I had the chance to try many of their test pieces and truly enjoy their hard work!

We arrived in the rain and I was not even phased. I new there was overhung terrain with classic routes to try so we immediately went there the day that we stepped off the plane in Charleston, WV. As the rain poured down, we climbed pitch after pitch and enjoyed finding a painted turtle at the base of the wall. We also heard one of the loudest thunder from the storm overhead. The rest of the week was filled with a chance of rain on partly cloudy days. High heat and high psyched destroyed my fingertips so I had to do my best to try classic climbs that didn’t have tiny grips. Ben and I had a great time overcoming the sun, rain, finger pain (from worn out skin) and the complex sequences of the New River Gorge.

Coming back to hang with the locals after each day on the rocks was always fun and even depressing at times. Its always fun getting to know new people but hearing about all the other amazing routes that we should try in the Gorge just make me sick to my stomach. I just wanted to try them all and eventually send them and the fact that I was there in the middle of summer for just 7 days made me bummed out. Needless to say when I woke up each next morning, I knew that it was my chance to tick some a few more of the classics off the enormous list. Anyway, the list is still long and I learned a lot about onsighting when I was tired.

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This photo isn’t from the trip cause I can’t to locate them. I think that when I had to return my laptop, I lost the trip photos. Bummed.

I love Zion!

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There is one place that I never have to think twice about going climbing at and that is Zion National Park.

Above are some photos are from myself and Jeremiah Watt. I can’t wait to play there in 2015!