Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Julbo USA Visionaries Team Ambassador

Sporting the Julbo Dolgan shades out at Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, NV

It's my privilege to get to announce I get to be an ambassador for Julbo USA, the sickest, baddest performance eye wear makers out there!  I am teaming up with them on their Julbo Visionaries team for 2015.  Luckily for me, I got on board just in time for my trip to Red Rock Canyon in Las Vegas where the sun was abundant and hot.

With all the time I spend outdoors, I need good quality eye wear to protect my eyes.  Being a rock climber tends to have your vantage point always looking upward and sometimes right into direct sunlight.  But sunglasses aren't just about protecting your eyes, they're also about having comfort and style.  And Julbo has some of the best styles I've ever seen!

Stay tuned to The Spray Down to find out what adventures my Julbos embark on with me this season!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Daniel Woods Wins 1st Place at ABS 16...If it Were the 2013 Rules Though

(Screen grab from video on LT11 YouTube channel)

This post is not meant to take any glory away from the champions at ABS 16 National Championships.  It is only an observation made of the scoring rule changes for this year's event.

If anyone was watching the ABS 16 National Championships last night, they might have noticed the rather displeased Daniel Woods.  Yes he was National Champion for the 9th time, but with that designation comes a caveat.  He was the National Champion because Mohammad Jafari Mahmodabadi, who came in first, could not be crowned due to the rules that don't allow foreign nationals to hold the ABS title.

This, however was not what left Mr. Woods peeved.  It was the change in the scoring system.  If this competition had occurred under the USA Climbing Rule Book from 2013 the order of the top three male finishers would look much different (women's podium did not change for either scoring system).  It would have been Woods for 1st place, O'Rourke for 2nd place, and Mahmodabadi coming in 3rd place.  How did I come to this completely different outcome?  Let me break it down for you according to the 2013 rule book.

First you rank by highest number of tops (finishes), in which there was a 3 way tie among Mahmodabadi, O'Rourke, and Woods.  The rule book states that with a tie at total tops then you rank by total number of controlled holds (1.0 point/hold).  According to the chart below: Woods-41 points, O'Rourke-33 points, and Mahmodabadi-31 points.  So, there you have it!  The final order would have been Woods, O'Rourke, then Mahmodabadi....if it were last year of course!  This is not meant to take anything away from Mohammad though, he was absolutely spectacular while competing and it would be great to see more of him in upcoming competitions.  It all comes down to the new scoring system being complex and not easily determined in real time by the competitors or spectators.  Below is the final score determined by the new scoring system:

I can assume that everyone who looked at the final scores couldn't make heads or tails of it without looking at how they calculated it in the rule book.  Here is the link to how it was scored according to the new scoring rules (ABS 16 Scoring Explained).  Get your calculator ready and make sure it has a square root button, you'll be hitting that one often to check the final scores for yourself.  I have no clue why it is calculated this way but I am sure there is a good explanation.  Spectators and viewers of the finals seemed very confused on the scoring as well (ClimbingNarc site) and thought Woods would have been the outright winner.

Regardless of the scoring system, the competitors put on one hell of a show with Alex Puccio and Daniel Woods retaining their titles as Champions for the 9th time.  Also putting on a great show were the production crew at Louder Than 11, and the announcers Pete Ward and Brian Runnels.  Watch the finals round below.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Climbing Shoes Too Tight?

We, as climbers have been told for years that your climbing shoes need to be painfully tight for the perfect fit so that we can be awesome at rock climbing.  A well form fitted climbing shoe may improve one's climbing but a overly tight painful fit can cause problems long term.  This could actually be harming your feet more than you think especially if you have already pre-existing conditions.  Here are some of the conditions that can be caused by wearing too tight of footwear:

Hammertoes: a contraction or bending of the joints on one or multiple toes.  Hammertoes can form if the toes are too long and are forced into a cramped position when a tight shoe is worn.  While hammertoes are flexible and can be treated but if left untreated can lead to a surgical situation.


Bunions: I used to only think old people (no offense!) got these, but they can happen to young and old alike.  A bunion is when your big toe joint becomes enlarged an crowds against your other toes.  The force from your big toe then forces the bone outward as shown in the photo.  A bunion can develops from the pressure on the foot when force into tight narrow pointed shoes, which is basically what climbing shoes do.

Calluses:  One of the most common toe ailment of climbers and is often referred to as "climber's toe". These calluses are hard small patches of thickened dead skin with a hard center.  These are caused by the rubbing of the skin in a very tight fitted shoe.

Ingrown toenails: These are one of the most gruesome and possibly dangerous of toe problems.  An ingrown toenail can be caused by constant pressure placed on the toenail, which then causes it to dig and cut into the skin.  Many times this can lead to a puss filled infection that can pop like a stepped on Boston Creme doughnut!

The next time you jam your little piggies into your overly tight climbing shoe, remember you can be causing your feet more problems than the number of sends that day.  While wearing your climbing shoes, keep your feet snug, pain free, and give 'em a break between tries.  And for the sake of everyone's nostrils, keep your feet clean and stink free!

Some images used from:

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

On The Rocks: Great Barrington Bouldering

This post is about a brief excerpt of some of Great Barrington's awesome boulder problems.  The winter can be one of the best time for sends or the worst if the temp drops too far below freezing.  In this clip I am able to catch these sends at the perfect temps.  Stay tuned to The Spray Down for more videos coming soon!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Workbag: The Dirtbag Evolved

Cedar Wright's "The Wright Stuff: Death of Dirtbagging" really got me thinking about the dirtbag lifestyle and how it is diminishing.  But one thing that is hanging up in my mind is that dirtbagging isn't dying, it is actually evolving.  Like any species, over a period of time, it can undergo an adaptive change to environmental stressors.  Rock climbing, as well, has also undergone changes in the past century, with most of those changes happening in the past 20 or so years.  So if we are to consider rock climbing as the dirtbag's environment, we must assume that the dirtbag has to evolve as well.  That evolution has lead to the "workbag".

A workbag, by my definition, is a person who works the typical 40 hour work week for the main purpose of getting to the next rock climbing destination.  Workbags understand that they will never be the mega famous rock climbers of the world (ie Chris Sharma) and will have to sacrifice their time at the crag to raise enough dough to support other things in their lives (health/car insurance, fuel, utilities, food, family, travel, etc.).  Wages are not going up as fast as the prices of the aforementioned obligations, so finding a steady career/job is the only way to keep up. 

One of the biggest stressors that caused the evolution to the workbag was probably the rise of social media.  Professional rock climbers such as Cedar Wright, Jimmy Webb, Paul Robinson, Chris Sharma, etc., etc., started discovering and showcasing amazing climbing destinations throughout the world. Climbers had the desire to also visit these places but were limited in mobility due to the high costs of fuel, hotel/camping arrangements/hostels, and not to mention the highest cost of all: CLIMBING GEAR!  Dreams and fantasies of traveling the world to these surreal climbing destinations disappear in a cloud of chalk dust when the total cost to get to these places is revealed.  Not all climbers can be sponsored and given a free ticket to explore the world's hidden crags.  Some have to work more and sacrifice the time that could be spent climbing.

Workbags have become plentiful and are easily spotted.  They can be found training in the gyms on weeknights between the hours of 6 and 9 pm and are usually dressed like your traditional dirtbag.  But on days (or summers if they are a teacher) off they can only be found outside at their nearest crag or boulder field.  If we keep with the theme of biological classification, the genus this species (workbag) can be found under the genus title, Weekend Warriors.

But this doesn't mean these workbags aren't dedicated and passionate climbers.  It only means times have changed and so must the general population of climbers.  So if you're a workbag, or even a dirtbag, it doesn't define your passion for climbing, it only defines your amount of time you have to dedicate to the sport.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Power Struggle Season 9 Promo

The Power Struggle returns at Prime Climb in Wallingford, CT on January 10, 2015 for its 9th season!  This is one of the most challenging and exciting comps that I have ever competed in.  Every year it seems more and more talent rises through the ranks to challenge for one of the coveted plywood plaques to claim domination over the event.  There are tons of awesome sponsors this year that are helping make this one of the most badass comps in New England!  The Spray Down will be back again to film for highlights of this year's event.  Come check it out to compete or even to just stop by and watch an intense finals showdown!  Take a quick look at the promo for this season's event below!

Monday, November 24, 2014

2014 Climber's Christmas Wishlist

It's that time of year again where people have to really start thinking about what to get their rock climbing addicts for Christmas.  Sure, you could go the easy route and get a gift card OR you could be the Holiday Hero by getting them something really awesome.  That's why I want to make it a little easier for the gift givers and suggest a few items, in no particular order, that I think would be a big hit for Christmas this year.

Outdoor Research Deadpoint Pants

These are an amazing pair of pants to have for some cool weather rock climbing.  Not only are they durable but they are very comfortable as well.  The stretchy fabric allows for ease of movement on technical routes or problem. The lower cuff of the pants only need to be folded once and stay that way to keep you from stepping on your pant leg and losing your focus on your ascent.  Go for comfort and style with these climbing specific pants!

Asana Climbing PRism Bouldering Crash Pad

I've had a lot of experience with Asana Climbing's bouldering crash pads.  They are (IMO) one of the most durable pads on the market.  The foam padding retains the stiffness for years (KJ link) and it's the pad I trust the most.  This new line they have out are based on the bouldering legend Paul Robinson's designs inspired by his trips around the world.  This might not fit under your Christmas tree but it will make a great fit for the boulderer you're shopping for!

Arc'teryx S-220 LT Sport Climbing Harness

I got to try on this new harness from Arc'teryx at the Squamish Mountain Festival earlier this year and I wanted to buy it right then!  The harness is designed for the sport climber with a minimalist attitude.  The two belt loops on the right and left side keeps everything you need for a sport route at close reach.  The leg loops, while thinner than others, are designed to breathable with the Vapor Technology that is used in its construction.  Have a sport climber on your list?  Hook them up with this harness, they won't be disappointed!

Arc'teryx Aperture Chalk Bag

Keeping with the trend of Arc'teryx gear, up next is the Aperture Chalk bag.  The most prominent aspect of this chalk bag is its ability to compact and seal to prevent chalk bomb explosions and spillage inside your pack.  Any climber would be happy to find this under the tree or in their stocking since it can shrink to such a small size!

Trango Rock Prodigy Training Board

This is one of the most revolutionized training hangboards out on the market.  The hangboard design is based on years of experimentation and refinement.  The two halves can be rotated and/or spaced apart at the rock climber's will.  Get them the gift of constant and fast progression.  An added bonus for the Trango training board is that you can make it TWO gifts!

Lapis Boar's Hair Brush

Why the Lapis Boar's hair brush?  Because it's the best one on the market.  The long thin head makes brushing everything from slopers to incut crimps very easy and efficient.  .  This would gift would be great as a stocking stuffer.

Petzl Elios Helmet

What better way to say, "I care about your dome" than with a climbing helmet.  There are a staggering number of climbers these days that don't wear a helmet while climbing.  This is the equivalent of driving a car without a seatbelt!  I've worn this helmet for the past year and it hasn't impeded my climbing ability at all.  Get your climber this helmet and don't let them go to the crag without it!

Sterling Rope Fusion Ion2 9.4 mm Rope

Have you ever heard the saying "This is in"?  Well, it is these days for climbing ropes and Sterling has the reputation for making the best types.  The ideas behind a thinner rope is lighter weight and easier clipping into anchors.  This rope still gives a similar impact rating as well the same number of falls rating.  Help your climber send there sport or trad projects and get them a lighter rope!

Smartwool Hiking Socks

Yeah, I know what you're thinking.  Socks aren't always the best gift to get for Christmas, but these aren't just any ordinary socks.  They're Smartwool.  They are one of the best hiking socks out on the market.  They'll keep your feet warm on the coldest of hikes while not making them sweaty.  I wear these while hiking to the boulder fields during the New England winters.  Nothing compares to a pair of these and your climber will be grateful for socks under the tree this year.

Access Fund Membership

It's the gift that keeps on giving year round.  It's the gift of climbing.  The Access Fund keeps the crags open, clean, and accessible.  Without this advocacy group, we wouldn't be able to have our fun and get our adrenaline fix.  There are also a number of benefits such as discounts on clothing (Prana) and climbing magazine subscriptions (Rock and Ice and Climbing Mag).  Get them the gift that keeps them climbing.  Go for the Access Fund Membership!