Monday, December 17, 2012

A Milestone Achieved: Pressure Drop v10

The last week I have passed a milestone in my rock climbing (bouldering)!  I have sent my first v10 out at Great Barrington!!  The work effort and training over the past few months have been well worth the struggle I put in on this problem: Pressure Drop (FA by Dan Yagmin Jr.).  The project started out on a frigid Friday morning.  All of my friends had to bail due to work related situations or because the inclement rain/snow/sleet that was forecast for the day pushed their aspirations indoors or to local areas.  I was too stoked to work on this problem to pass up on some Massachusett's bouldering.

Icicle on the rocks!

I started the hike up the steep terrain and started my warm up at the Crystal Methods boulder and then moved quickly over to the Green Goddess boulder to hit up the moderate problems before my way up to Fotowa and Pressure Drop.  I quickly became un-stoked as the sleet started to set in (as one can see from the video) when I got to the Green Goddess boulder.  I hurried through Spak v4, Green Goddess v7, and The Bump v8 and packed up and moved uphill.  Luckily the sleet stopped and the stoke came back to me.  I made quick work of the normal start to Fotowa (v9), which had given me trouble in the past due to the tiny left hand crimp that would shred my finger tips.  As I moved to project Pressure Drop the sleet came back (bummer!).  I started working on the problem anyway in hopes of making progress.

Mid high left hand, razor crimp/pinch (if you can call it that), high right foot, pull in and shoot high right hand.  This went on about a half dozen times before I stuck the high right hand.  After sticking the right hand I had to stick another razor hold sidepull/undercling and shoot up my left hand to a nice crimp.  Unfortunately I was not able to make any further progress as the sleet turned to rain.  But I had no worries, I would be out there the next weekend.

A little freezing rain makes the topouts more interesting!

The next weekend came to and my stoke was 10 times what it was the prior weekend.  We also happened to run into some Southern Adirondack climbers (awesome dudes btw) who were out there to crush their projects as well. The weather was amazing: sunny and low 40s, couldn't get any better than that!  After a dozen attempts and sticking the high right hand, I could not stick the next left hand until I told myself that it was just like a campus rung (1-3) movement.  Once this was in my head everything clicked and the problem went down!!

Now onto new projects in the area...possibly Speed Boulder area, lot of attention directed in that area recently!!  A video of the climbs is available below!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What the Fall Season Means to Some of Us...

The leaves change colors, the air dries, the temperatures drop.  These are the characteristics of a typical fall season...unless you live in New England where you get 2 consecutive years of having a major hurricane followed by a freakish snow storm (which are so big and bad they give names to them!).  But then it goes back to normal and we resume our normal fall activities whether it be hiking, rock climbing/bouldering, or cleaning out your gutters twice a week because you have too many trees living by you.  I prefer the hiking and rock climbing over cleaning the gutters (who wouldn't!).  I have been out hiking and climbing at my local climbing spot and was able to capture some nice outdoor shots and put together some videos of climbing.

The picture above is not a fox or a dingo, but a rare breed of dog that has the capability of convincing you to give her a bite of whatever you're eating.  Well not rare, but this is actually my dog Bailey.  She is an amazing hiking companion and crag dog.

The above picture is my friend Sean.  He has also been out at the crags working on his projects before the winter takes over and ruins everything for us climbers. 

For some people the fall brings an end to the outdside fun that was had in the summer, but for others it ushers in the beginning of their outdoor adventures.  For me, it is the latter.  The woods of Connecticut is the place where I can let go of the stresses of the week and crush it away on some obscure rock in the middle of nowhere.  In the past month I have put together two videos of some of the climbing I have been doing.

Whatever the fall season means to you, make it a good one and try to explore something new in your area.  You might be surprised at what it could offer you.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Climb for Multiple Sclerosis at Prime Climb on Dec. 8th

For the 2nd year in a row, my friend Sean Ewers, with help from Prime Climb (indoor rock climbing gym) is putting together another awesome fundraiser event!  This year's event (Dec. 8th, 2012) beneficiary will be the National Multiple Sclerosis Foundation-Connecticut Chapter.  I was able to talk with Sean to ask him about this year's event.

Sean Ewers (left) and Prime Climb owner Brien Roscetti

Several people close to Sean have been affected by MS, which has given him reason to find a way to help and give back through his passion: climbing.  With the success of last year's "Hera Rocks" fundraiser at Prime Climb, which raised about $1500 for ovarian cancer research, Sean hopes to have a repeat of the fun and excitement that went on last year. The "Climb for MS" event will have free admission from 1-8pm, a dyno competition, crate stacking comp., and slack lining.  There will also be a raffle with rad prizes from Friksn, Organic Climbing, Evolv, Mad Rock, So Ill Holds, Julbo Sunglasses, Sanuk, New England Ropes, 5.10 climbing shoes, Pusher, Revolution Climbing, Detroit Rock Climbing Company, and Motivation Volumes.  A bake sale will also be on hand to keep all the climbers energized for the day!

If you're not a climber, who cares!  Stop by anyway and try it out and support a great cause!

All proceeds from bake sale, raffle, and donations will go to the National Multiple Sclerosis Foundation.  Information about date, time and location of event can be found on the event Facebook page here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Training for Rock Climbing

The bouldering (rock climbing) in Connecticut is known to be one of the hardest places in New England to climb. In order to keep progressing and pushing into harder routes and problems, you have to have a tough training regimen.

I have been looking through training videos and articles for the past couple of months on how to get stronger and push your boundaries.  After going through seemingly endless lists of videos on Youtube and articles from such websites as and, I was able to find some helpful training regimens.  The videos were the most helpful in finding exercises to try due to the complexities of some of the routines if they were only in written form.  So my lazy-not-wanting-to-read-all-these-damn-training-articles self decided to focus on the videos and find some good climb training routines.

After going through and looking at all the videos (and trying some of the performable routines), I categorized them into 3 types of training videos:

Type 1:  These videos were the ones that had tasks that could be performed on a home hangboard or at the gym.  These also had routines that could be performed at all climbing levels and was adjustable to a climbers particular skill level.

Type 2:  These videos were mostly done by elite athletes and they had routines that were not realistic for the average climber training.  While they were awesome to watch and very motivating, performing the routines would more than likely snap a tendon like a guitar string!  However, I came across a few routines that could be modified for your own skill level.

Type 3:  These videos had incomplete routines, had routines that could not be easily performed, or could not tell what the trainer was doing.  You could easily filter through these routines usually in the first 30 seconds or so.

Below you can see a list I made of my top training videos that I have found to be most helpful (Type 1 videos):

1.)  Sean McColl training video.

An elite climber (one of the best in the world!!) Sean McColl has shown his style of training he does.  The great thing about this video is that it can be tailored to your skill level.  I have tried a lot of the training in this video and I feel it has helped me out tons!

2.) Galina Parfenov training video.

Yes, girls can climb hard!!  Galina is actually a climber at my local gym.  She has developed a training routine that can be done at the gym or on a home hangboard that any climber can try.  This training video is a must see!

3.)  Sonnie Trotter Campus Rungs

I really like this video because I am hooked on using campus rungs for training.  Some of the exercises are unrealistic for the average climber but they can be tailored to fit your skill level.  However I don't recommend using these type of exercises until more you become a more advanced climber.

4.) Metolius Project Board-10 minute workout

I like this video because I have the project board and the workout felt great.  It was great for the entire body and had some interesting exercises.  This video is great for all skill levels!

5.)  There is not a video here but more of a directive to get better at rock climbing.  In order to improve your rock climbing skills you have to be doing actual climbing at a gym or outside.  One cannot be good at rock climbing without climbing any rocks!  Being on the wall engages your entire body and mind to balance itself and pull at different angles that cannot be achieved on any training board or system board.  So get to the gym or get outside and climb!

Remember, these videos were made by well trained athletes and all caution should be taken before performing any of these routines.  Listen to your body, if an exercise hurts, don't do it!  Most importantly, stay safe and have fun with your training!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Fall Friction..

The fall is in full swing and the friction is great!  Finally a break in the humidity and high temps!  I have been waiting ever so patiently for this weather to get here.  Temps broke into the 50's which signaled the start of bouldering season.  My friends and I grabbed our crash pads and headed out to our local crag to get our climb on!

Our climbing day consisted of cruising some classic problems to get warmed up and psyched to work on our projects.  Our old projects from a year ago were going down pretty easy which means next time we go out we have to put a lot more work in for success.  Here is a short video from our weekend:

More videos to come so check back again or follow my posts!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Prime Climb gets an Upgrade!

As much as I hated to see parts of the Prime Climb gym being demolished and removed, I am stoked for their current upgrade!  Prime Climb has enlisted the crew from Rockwerx to build a 3 dimensional, wrap-around lead climbing wall inspired by the design ideas from Dan Yagmin, Jr. 

Prime Climb is already known for its awesome setting where the likes of Ty Landman and Phil Schaal go to train.  Adding any improvement to an already stellar gym will only bring more fun and better training for when you hit up the crag!  Fortunately for us climbers and boulderers, Prime Climb stayed open during the building stages of the wall.  It was pretty amazing to watch the wall "grow" from bolts, steel beams, some arc welding, some nail guns, and mud-crete(mud or concrete, don't actually know what they used here!) for the wall texture.  After the wall was painted by the amazingly skilled artist, Dan Yagmin, Jr., the route setters harnessed up and got to work setting some routes!  The pictures below show the evolution of Prime Climb:

The pictures here are the front room and back room (in order).  The front part of the wall had a nice steep climbing section and the back wall was the slab wall (lot of skinned knees on this section)!

The demo only took 3 days surprisingly!  Those guys from Rockwerx don't mess around!

 A little bit of arc welding for the support structure!

The inner skeleton of a climbing wall!

 An awesome paint job!

Finally the finished product with some lead routes!

The wall addition adds an open feeling to the gym that it didn't have before.  It creates a vibe in the gym that only makes you want to climb and train harder!  The ventilation is great now that all the chalk isn't confined to the back room bouldering area (mainly caused by us boulderers...oops didn't mean to kick over your gallon of chalk everywhere)!  The only thing left to do is to put on a harness and start crushing the routes the awesome Prime Climb setters put up!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Getting Back to the Boulders

Temps are starting to drop here in New England.  We're now getting away from the scorching heat and sticky humidity and getting back to what we boulderers like: some dry cool weather.  My friends and I hauled our crash pads out to our local crag in Southington to remember what it was like to boulder again.  It had only been 2 months since the last time we bouldered, but it had felt as if it were 2 years.

We got to the boulder field and did the usual season starting of cleaning off the gathered spiderwebs and dead bugs out of the crevices of our most frequented boulders.

Getting warmed up was like starting a car in the dead of winter.  It's amazing how different your muscles behave when bouldering as opposed to rope climbing.  Climbing ropes gives you the endurance but I feel it erodes away the power that your muscles carried during a peak bouldering season.  This is why we want to get out early in the season, even though it's still warm.

After the usual warm-up, we headed to some more classic problems at the boulder field, namely Junkyard dog (v6).  This problem is my favorite v6 I have ever climbed.  It's climbtastic and the problem just flows so well that I have to climb it almost every time I am out there!  Below is picture of my buddy Sean workin' hard on Junkyard.

Bill spotting Sean with the Pro Spotter Pad

Other than this problem we only brushed off a few others and went over to a slopey overhanging problem call Underground Vibes (v8).  On the way we ran into a pretty creepy snake that hissed, shook its tail like a rattler, and then almost attacked my dog!  Lucky we had our friend Bill with us to use his pad to block the snake while we walked safely around it.

All in all it was a great day out, hopefully the weather starts dropping further along with the humidity so the crushing can really begin!  Until then, training at the local gym will ramp up (minus the closing of the gym for demolition and addition of a Rockwerx lead wall..Hell YEAH!!) so the projects can be sent!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pro Spotter Pad is Here!

A few weeks ago, I received my Pro Spotter Pad from Asana (the best crash pad makers out there, in case you've never heard of them!).  Conveniently, I got it just in time for my bouldering/camping trip up to the Adirondacks.

At first glance the pro spotter pad seems to be  a simple sit start pad with a shoulder strap running alongside and two handles that allow it to be used as a (spotting) shield, hence the name.  Upon closer inspection, however, you can see a zipper that reveals a pad inside.  This inside pad folds out to a huge 3/4 in. thick mat that covers 2 large full pads.  It will definitely save one from falling between pads, spraining an ankle, and being dubbed Gumby by an online climbing magazine (long story..).

That's not all this bad boy does though!  Unfolded, it makes a fantastic sleeping pad, which I used every night at the Dacks.  Comfort-wise, it is about equivalent to sleeping in a five-star hotel (well, almost).  Who would've thought a small pad could do so much!

I also took my Spotter to Ireland for some bouldering.  This pad was great for the trip as I just stuffed it in my suitcase and checked it into the baggage counter.

Warning: Asana contents inside!

Once in Ireland, I grabbed the pad and headed to the Gap of Dunloe to take a break from all the drink- I mean sight-seeing for a little bouldering.  The pad worked great for everything from sit starts to ass landings, and was firm enough to absorb the impact from falling 10-15 feet up (maybe more but I'll leave that to someone else to test).

Anyone looking for a utility pad to go along with their crash pad should definitely check out the Pro Spotter Pad, you won't be disappointed!

Ed. GParf

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


On Monday I decided to take a break from the daily grind of work and head out bouldering with some friends at the Gunks.  My plan was to try and project some problems in the v8 to v10 range for the day so I could have a new area to head to if I got frustrated or bored with my usual spots (Bradley, Great Barrington, etc.).  I found out quickly after warming up that it would not be day for projecting due to the heat and humidity (mid upper 80's and 70% humidity).  Instead I figured I would get on the classic problems on Carriage Road and just have a fun day.

 Carriage Road View

I started off on a problem called Baby Hole (v3), which I quickly discovered was probably the hardest v3 I've every been on, but nevertheless fun.  After Baby Hole, we went to a problem called The Lorax (v4) which is an overhanging technical problem between 2 close trees with a fun topout.  After this problem we stopped at Andrew's Roof (v4) for some heel and toe scumming intensive action and a nice feet cutting swing that leads to an interesting topout.  After taking a lunch break and lazing for a few minutes on my gigantic Asana pad like it was my bed, enjoying the shade, we moved on back toward the entrance to a slopey problem called the Black Boulder (v5).  With the heat and humidity at high, it was difficult to stick the slopey top left hand hold with a feet cut, but it went down after a couple tries and some skin shaving.  The final climb was a highball problem called New Pair of Sunglasses (v7).  This was a problem that definitely engaged the core with in-cut crimps and pinches that led to a very mellow and satisfying topout.  After climbing all of these problems we ended the day at an awesome swimming hole that will be frequently visited if I go back this summer.

Gunks Swimming Hole

I realized this time out that it's not always about going out and working on your projects and trying to push yourself past your current limits.  Sometimes you have to go out and have fun on the classic problems that have been established in an area so you don't become too frustrated on hot, humid days.  I hate to say that I can't wait for summer to be over, but I am craving the cool dryness of the fall and winter.  But until then I will break out the rope and quickdraws and head north for some camping and sport climbing.

Video from Gunks: