Sunday, April 6, 2014

Asana KJ 2 Signature Crash Pad Review

After 3 plus years of use, I decided to retire my Asana KJ Signature Highball crash pad and get the new Asana KJ 2 crash pad.  What can I say, when I experience great quality I stick with the best of the best!  The KJ 2 comes with all the great stuff from the original KJ crash pad such as:

-1" closed cell foam on top and bottom with 3" of open cell foam in between
-Carpeted corner foot wipe
-Unbreakable metal cam buckles (cinches the pad closed with your gear stashed inside)
-Padded hip and shoulder straps

Cypher v8 highball

The KJ 2 pad also comes with with a very nice carrying system improvement:  the new E-justable Torso System so that you can get a nice fit for your height.  I definitely dig the improved fit of the pad.  The new torso system allows for the pad weight (plus stashed gear) to be placed firmly on my hips and off of my back.  This makes long hikes to the boulders very comfortable.  The weight of the pad at 18 lbs. is almost hard to believe since it feels so light when carrying it, even with stashed gear inside the pad.

Safety is always top priority for me when I head out to the boulder field.  That is why I trust this pad to be there for me whenever I take a fall.  Anyone looking for a high quality crash pad made here in the good ole U.S. of A. need to look no further and check out the Asana Climbing crash pads here on their website:!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Ambassador of Climberism Magazine!

I am very excited to announce that I am now an ambassador of Climberism Magazine!  Climberism Magazine is the go-to source for climbing news in the Northeast!  They are also a great source for buying or trading used gear in their Classifieds section.  Stay on the look-out for great content from them such as climbing news, events, and videos.

If you dig the shirt, they can be bought on the online store at the Climberism website!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Rock Climbing Mistakes: The 'Oh $@!*' Moments

Ahhh the moments where we make a mistake, either on the wall or on a highball boulder problem, will someday find us all and sometimes all too frequently.  I call these the 'Oh $@!*' moments (use your imagination for the expletive!) because usually it is the first phrase that comes to mind or is spoken aloud like a plea for help.  Usually what follows the saying or thinking of this phrase is the onslaught of panic then followed by fast repetitions of the aforementioned phrase.

After your mind races through every possible catastrophic thing that could happen, you come to the realization that you have to make a decision.  Fight or flight, or in climbing I like to call it 'fight the pump or take the whipper'.  I have some beta on what to do when one of these dreaded moments pop up.  The first thing to do is control your breathing.  Inhaling and exhaling like you're trying to blow out a grease fire only makes things worse and makes your muscles tighten or spasm (Elvis leg anyone?) so relax and breathe slowly.  The next thing to do is stay focused.  Fear makes your mind drift into the realm of terrifying premonitions of what could happen if you fall.  It is better to try to focus on being cautious, deliberate, and aware to make calculating the next move easier.

If you have to take a whipper, make sure your leg is not between the wall and the rope.  If it is you will flip upside down and get your bell rung quite harshly (hopefully a helmet is being worn!).  Try to fall legs first and try not to grab the rope.  Grabbing the rope will likely mean socking yourself in the face and giving a black eye or even a bloody lip.  If you're taking a fall from a highball boulder, pray to whatever you believe in, try to keep your feet below you, and crumple once you hit the pads to lessen the impact on your body.

No one ever said rock climbing was a safe sport.  The fact that it is dangerous makes it more appealing to us climbers.  With danger comes the consequences of making a wrong move or mistake, which then leads to an 'Oh $@!*' moment.  To minimize the occurrence of these moments one must climb smart, climb safe, and be aware of the surrounding conditions.  Climb away!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

American Bouldering Series 15, Feb. 21-22, 2014

The American Bouldering Series (ABS) 15 will be airing live this weekend February 21-22, 2014 via the fine folks at Louder Than 11!  Last year was the first live airing for LT11 and they did a superb job. If you tuned in last year, you know it will be another intense showdown!  Beware though, watching will cause hand sweating and a strong desire to climb.

Last years Men's and Women's champs (Woods and Puccio) will look to keep reigning supreme while other tough competitors are looking to make a grab for the top spot.  Here on the East Coast, the open finals will be airing at 9:30 PM (check it out here at where some intense action will be taking place.  I only hope this year's winners will get something to stand on so Pete Ward's (one of last year's stellar commentators!) tallness won't dwarf them.  Check out the trailer below for ABS 15!

Look for Connecticut native Galina Parfenov to make a strong showing this year as she competes in her second year at the national event!

ABS 15 National Championships Trailer • Live February 21st & 22nd 2014 from USA Climbing on Vimeo.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Power Struggle 8 Bouldering Comp at Prime Climb

The Prime Climb Power Struggle was back for its 8th year running and it was another huge success!  The employees and setters spent almost a week planning and strategically placing about 1,000 climbing holds on a blank climbing wall canvas.  It seems that every year this competition gets bigger and better.  There is never a shortage of talent that shows up to this comp.  Climbers from around New England spent 4 hours trying to qualify for a chance to win one of the coveted plywood plaques and a portion of large cash purse!

This year's proceeds ($1,500!!!) from the competition were donated to Paradox Sports.  Paradox Sports is a non-profit charitable organization that provides "inspiration, opportunities and specialized adaptive equipment so that anyone is able to be an active participant in human-powered sports."  It is amazing that climbers can be part of such an amazing event to help out an important communal cause.

The finals portion of the event did not fail to entertain with high lay-backs, small crimps, large pinches, big falls and strong finishes!  After 4 hours of climbing, open competitors still had enough fuel in their tanks to put on a great show, as shown from the footage below.  Results from the comp can be found here: Comp Results.  Congrats to all the winners and competitors who came out to get pumped on some awesome boulder problems! Check out the highlights from the comp below

Power Struggle 8 Bouldering Comp Highlights:

Power Struggle 8 Champions

Men's Power Struggle Open Winners
From right to left: Vasya Vorotnikov, Josh Levin, Charlie Schreiber

Women's Power Struggle Open Winners
From right to left: Galina Parfenov, Jenna Keller, Maddy Grupper (not pictured)

Friday, January 17, 2014

Winter Rock Climbing Tips

My friend Bill and my dog Bailey laying the first tracks in the snow

The winter season can give some of the best conditions for rock climbers.  The rock is very dry and the friction is at its best so you can send your hardest projects.  Winter also has its disadvantages when it comes to climbing outside.  There are a lot of things to take into consideration, mostly with how the body reacts to the cold and gear/clothing choices to make in order to keep warm.

It is very important to keep warm while outside, especially the hands and feet.  Most of the body's energy will be used to keep internal organs warm and will therefore draw blood away from your extremities.  This will increase the risk of hypothermia and frostbite.  There is also a risk of post exercise (climbing) hypothermia since the heat production has decreased and heat loss is still high (Cold Weather Activity).  So how does one stay warm while climbing without piling on too heavy of clothing?

Baselayers, hoodies and beanies: typical bouldering basics in cold weather!

Most people will agree that climbing depends on a strength to weight ratio.  High strength and lower weight is usually key, however in the winter time you have to put on extra clothing, which adds weight, to stay warm while climbing.  By carefully choosing what keeps you warm, you can minimize this added weight.  Start with medium density baselayers.  My choices for a baselayers are the Terramar Sports TXO 2.0 top layer and  the EMS Techwick Crew.  They are lightweight, warm, breathable, and flexible.  Normal rock climbing apparel (t-shirt and rugged pants) are worn over the base layers.  My choice for pants are the Columbia Ultimate ROC pants and the EMS Fencemender Pants.  They are great for climbing and are durable and flexible.  It's also good to bring a high fill down jacket, a pair of down booties for your feet, and some insulating gloves to help stay warm in when taking breaks.  The weight you wear is not the only thing you have to worry about.

Staying warm!

Having extra weight to carry can be just as exhausting as climbing with extra weight.  What should be carried with to the crag or boulder field?  The answer: only the essentials.  The utmost essential is water and plenty of it.  Most people don't realize how much water they lose when outside in the cold.  Every breath you exhale is a small amount of water lost.  At extreme temps (-10 degrees Celsius/ 14 degrees F) water loss through breathing can be as much as 20 mL per hour during non-activities (Study abstract: How Much Water is Lost During Breathing).  Much more water is lost during physical exertions, so bring plenty of water!  Water can be exchanged with something hot as well to keep you warm (tea, hot chocolate, soup broth, etc.).  Try to keep the water close to room temperature (use a thermos) since the more coldness the body has on the inside, the more heat that is lost from the body to the cold water.  Snacks can be kept to a minimum by carrying complex carbohydrate foods (granola, fiber bars, whole wheat items, etc.) that sustain energy levels, while not adding too much weight to carry (Hydration and Nutritional Considerations in Cold Weather).

Climbing in the winter time can be great and lead to a lot of hard ascents. It also must be done with careful consideration of the conditions that will be put upon the body.  Apply the layers, stay warm and hydrated, and climb hard!

Monday, January 13, 2014

2013 Travel Photo Year in Review

Before this year takes off in full swing, I wanted to go through my memory card from my camera and see what exactly shaped my experiences from 2013.  I like to do this because I can gain a sharper perspective on what I want to experience in the current year and what direction I want my life to take.  The directions we choose our lives to take are constantly changing.  This is why I like to see where I have been and what I have done, so that I may adjust the bearings of of the direction of my future.

London, England

London, England

Amsterdam, Netherlands

St. Paul's Cathedral 
London, England

Castle along the Rhine River
near Heidelberg, Germany

Vineyards along the Rhine River

The Dying Lion
Lucerne, Switzerland

Mt. Pilatus
Lucerne, Switzerland

Paris, France

Air Blast (Farley, MA)

Eye Opener (Farley, MA)

Great Barrington, MA

The Prow v10,Bradley (Connecticut)

 Rumney, NH

The Wife at a London Pub