Monday, December 16, 2013

CrossFIXE Muscle Paste Review

CrossFIXE: for climbers also!

I was fortunate enough to get to try a sample of SKINourishment's CrossFIXE Muscle Paste.  Now, one thing I don't participate in is cross fit.  I am sure I would hurt myself doing some of the things the cross fitters do!  I do, however, boulder and rock climb, which wreak havoc on my entire upper body.  Sometimes I tweak a muscle in my upper back, bicep, or shoulder after an intense day of crushing some stone.  When I am done with the day of climbing I start to think of my next trip out to the rocks.  However, lingering tenseness and tightness in my muscles sometimes hinders the next performance.  Aside from taking anti-inflammatory meds and/or applying topical rubefacient heat rubs (menthol and methyl salicylate containing products that make you smell like a giant cough drop), there is not much else out there for natural organic pain relief.

Bouldering puts amazing amounts of strain in so many muscle groups!

CrossFIXE muscle paste provides a natural organic alternative to soothe muscle pain.  The oil ingredients of the paste provide anti-oxidants and increased circulation to the applied area.  More circulation to the affected area decreases healing time and relieves pain faster.  The scent of the muscle paste was almost like aromatherapy and was very relaxing to use after my training sessions.  I have been using the muscle paste after my climbing sessions and am impressed by another great product from the SKINourishment brand.  While this paste has been great for my tense muscles after climbing, I have yet to try it in situations involving a lot of widespread muscle soreness or pain (thankfully!).  It's always good to know what you are putting on your body and if it is safe.  This is why I am a fan of SKINourishment: their commitment to provide their customers with safe and organic (even edible!) skin care choices.  Check them out, you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Real Challenge of Adventure

My feet move quickly on the trail navigating the rocks as if they have a memory of exactly where each obstacle lies.  My warm breath steams through the sun as I push further onto the trail.  My eyes well slightly as I squint into the sun with the soft sting of the morning cold on my face.  The enjoyment of being outdoors is profound.  It's where I belong.  The excitement for the day's adventure swells the closer I get to the boulder field.  My eyes gaze downward toward the trail and a bright white comes into focus on the ground ahead of my path.  My stomach sinks as I see the fresh non-biodegradable styrofoam coffee cup just lying there carelessly tossed among the leaves.  I pick it up and throw it in a bag I carry for these situations.


Ten feet later down the trail another unsightly piece of litter catches my eye: an energy drink can.  I start to wonder the circumstances of how this trash ended up on a hiking trail.  The people that threw this trash out must have been carrying so much stuff that these almost weightless pieces of garbage had to be left behind because they were too heavy.

The energy drink did not provide enough fuel so that it could be carried out

I have a wish, well more of a hope, that people will someday ask themselves before throwing trash on the ground, "How difficult is it?"  How difficult is it to carry this aluminum can/styrofoam cup, that was carried out on the trail to be enjoyed while enjoying a beautiful scenic hike, to a trash can or recycle bin.  I wonder how many people will want to walk on a trail that is littered with garbage.  The point of walking out in nature is to enjoy and observe the unaffected-by-human aspects of the outdoors.  As climbers, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts we are stewards to our environment first and adventurers second.


Car parts in the woods??

This is one of the main reasons I joined the Access Fund.  Their Adopt-a-Crag and TeamWorks programs give hope to the future of our hiking trails and crags.  I strongly encourage any outdoor rock climber, hiker, trail runner, or anyone who loves the outdoors to join the Access Fund or other conservation group that helps preserve our outdoor playgrounds.  If you are unable to join a conservation group you can always help out by picking up the trash (hopefully none) that you find out on the trail.  If we don't do our part to keep the outdoors clean, soon our trails will look like this...




Conservation Groups/Sites Worth Checking Out or Joining:





Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Climber's Christmas Wishlist

I'm going to be honest.  I am only writing this in hopes that my wife will read it and pick up on my not so subtle hints on what I want for Christmas this year.  However, most other climbers out there will agree that the items on this wish list are pretty damn awesome, and they would want them too.  I am sure there are also other non-climber people out there (wives, husbands, parents, etc.) who don't know what gifts to get for the climbers in their lives.  I decided to take the liberty and compile a list of some of the most awesome gear out there that a climber would love to find in their stocking or under their tree come Christmas morning!  Take a look!





1.) Mammut Neon Gear 45 Pack: This pack has everything needed for a nice trip out to the crag.  It's made to carry on your back but opens in the back for ease of access to the main compartment.  Inside holds all the gear you need, including special compartments for shoes and chalk.  There is also a gear rack to clip your quickdraws onto.  An integrated rope bag can be removed and spread on the ground for rope placement while belaying.  The all around scoop: an awesome pack and I want it!









2.) Black Diamond Magnetron RockLock Carabiner:  I'm not the type who needs fancy carabiners, but I have to admit I really like this locking biner.  I've played with this carabiner every time I hit up an Eastern Mountain Sports or REI.  It has 2 quick release magnetic arms that hold the gate shut.  A quick press with thumb and finger opens the gate making a quick entrance and exit at the belay.  No more screw locks or twist lock gates to mess with.  I wouldn't mind finding this piece of gear hiding at the bottom of my stocking laying next to a Pez dispenser.






3.) Metolius Climbing Tape:  Whether you get a splitter, flapper, or just need a little support for your tendons while pulling some stone, Metolius Climbing tape is probably the best tape to use and chances are your current roll you have now has been used down to the bone of the roll.  Hopefully this climbing necessity makes its way into your stocking hooked onto some candy canes!








4.) La Sportiva Testarossa Climbing Shoes: A personal favorite of mine, the La Sportiva Testarossa packs a mean punch when tackling my projects.  As one of the most durable shoes I've ever climbed in, the extreme downturn of the shoe does not diminish while wearing them for extended periods.  Size 40.5 is my fit if a certain someone is looking to hook me up with a fresh pair..*cough, cough, wink, wink* to the wife!





5.) La Sportiva Boulder X Approach Shoe:  Continuing with the shoe trend from above, a climber must be able to make their way through the rough terrain to get to the crag or boulder field.  A sturdy set of approach shoes is a must have for scrambling up some low angle rock and uneven surfaces.  With a shock absorbent sole and the ever-so-sticky Vibram rubber bottom makes for a pain free hike out to a climber's playground!








6.) Columbia Ultimate ROC Pant:  I have owned two pairs of these pants and they are my favorite pants to climb in when the fall and winter time hit.  The first pair lasted me almost 5 years before they developed too many holes in them.  They are lightweight and they have a zip close security pocket to keep your lint covered gum secure and safe. I could easily use at least two more pairs of these due to how much I climb in the fall and winter.  True to size and great fit!  A must have for fall/winter climbers!







7.)  Marmot Limelight 3-Person Tent (Alpenglow):This 3-person tent is what I would like to have for my next climbing trip.  At 6 lbs. 11 oz. and easy setup, this tent is a must have for minimal weight and extra sleeping room.  The tent also has two vestibules for when you need that extra storage for your backpack and shoes.  Just looking at this tent makes me want to start planning my next adventure!




8.)  ENO DoubleNest Hammock:  What better way to take a break out at the crag or boulder field than to hop up in an easy setup hammock.  They are surprisingly durable and can hold up to 400 lbs.  The hammock also stuffs down into a sack the size of a large softball making it very easy to take along on your next climbing trip.  All of us climbers need a rest at the crag, might as well make it very comfortable!






9.) Terramar Sports Men's TXO 2.0 Baselayer:  I got to try out this base layer from Terramar Sports and was quite impressed.  I wore it out rock climbing in 35 degree weather.  It kept me warm but also dry while hiking and climbing.  I liked it so much that I would definitely want another one or maybe even a pair of the TXO 2.0 pants....









10.)  Petzl Spirit Express Quickdraw:  I got a set of 6 of these things a while back and I really liked them.  I especially liked the snag-free keylock nose.  It makes freeing the draw from protection and cleaning on the way back down from the ascent.  Since I only have 6, it would make a lot of sense to have a "few" more for the longer sport routes in my life.





So ends this year's Climber's Christmas Wishlist.  Hopefully this list brings some insight for people looking to get the perfect gift for the climber in their lives.  I know I would be extremely stoked for any gift on this list appearing under my Christmas tree this year!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Rumney Sport Climbing

It is our adventures in the outdoors that keep us young in both body and mind


Victim of Love 5.8, Upper Darth Vader Crag, Rumney, NH

It is rare to wake up outside with temps in the mid 30s and be psyched and excited for something.  That something for me was sport climbing for the first time at Rumney, NH.  Once daylight broke, my dog and I un-burrowed from the sleeping bag and stepped out of the tent into the brisk, cool air.  We packed up our site after breakfast and headed out to the crags to sport climb on some schist (rock type at Rumney).

We headed up the steep terrain to the Upper Darth Vader crag for some warm-up climbing.  The initial cold air faded away as the sun slowly warmed the area.  After the warm-up we headed over to Waimea crag to get the onsight of the classic 5.10d Waimea.  The rock color was striated with dark and light colored sections.  A well of energy built up inside me that I wanted to pour into the ascent of this beautiful line.  There is something about climbing a route for the first time in a new area that makes you realize what you've been missing.  The newness of an area and experiencing the routes and views give you an incredible high.


Out of the shadows and into the light on Waimea 5.10d


This is one of the greatest things about getting outdoors to a new area.  It restores your sense of adventure.  Everything is new and fresh to your senses and makes you feel more alive.  All of your youthful energy that you thought was fading now seems higher than ever.  You feel almost unstoppable in your pursuits of the day, and you don't desire the end.

Once you get away from adventure and have time to reflect upon it, you start to get an itch for another, and then slowly a plan starts for something else new and exhilarating.  There is a spark inside of us all and once we provide the fuel of adventure, a roaring flame grows that is near impossible to extinguish.  It is important to keep providing ourselves with adventures, to keep exploring new areas, and to push our boundaries, even if they are nearby.  This fuels our fire and provides our amazing life experiences that we will always remember.  Rumney, for me, is one of those experiences that I will always remember and will continue to revisit.

Bottom Feeder 5.13a




Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sending a Project, Finishing a Book


It is hard to describe the feeling after sending a long, hard fought battle with your project.  The only close feeling I can compare it to is when I finish an amazingly written book.  You get to personally know the characters of the story and live within the plot and settings.  Then once you read past the climax of the story and reach the conclusion, you are hopefully satisfied with how it ends.  As for completing a boulder project, your hands and feet get to know the holds and your body learns the contortions.  And after you pull through the crux you hopefully have immense satisfaction upon topping out.  There is often a bittersweet feeling after the completion of a good book.   You don't want it to end because of how emotionally connected you became to the story.  The same goes with the completion of a tough boulder project.  The initial high of the send wears away and a bittersweet feeling blends in because you know the project is over.  It is not unusual for this to happen since you have put so much time, energy and emotion into the project.  You know you will not get the same high again if you repeated that very problem that was once your project.


Jess and Bill spotting me perfectly on The Prow (v10) (photo by Marian)


My project was a highball boulder in central Connecticut called The Prow (v10).  I started this project in the late fall of 2012.  I was unable to complete it before the bouldering conditions soured and it became too hot and humid.  I was, however, able to work the initial moves into muscle memory over the past year but the middle crux (sloper pinch) was just too much due to the humidity.  I could only wait patiently until a perfect fall day arrived.  Low 50's, sunny, slightly breezy, and no humidity: a boulderer's dream conditions.   I had an overwhelming feeling I was finally going to get the send that day.  I felt great, I felt light, I felt good, I got the send.  Chills came about upon the send due to all the adrenaline...what a rush!  After coming back down to the bottom of the problem, I felt a little sadness that it was over, just like the feeling when finishing a good book.  Just like moving on to another good book, I will do the same with another boulder problem that I will hopefully have the same connection.  I couldn't have asked for more from that day.  I had great friends around me that helped push me to get the send and I had great conditions...a perfect day.

Video of the Send:




Wednesday, October 16, 2013

ClimbOn Review: Creme, Original Bar, and Bar for Men


What is climbOn?

ClimbOn is one of the many skin care products made by the SKINourishment company.  Their mission is to provide users of their products the facts about the importance of using natural organic ingredients in cosmetics and skin care. The mission statement and history paint a very colorful and emotional portrait of how climbOn and SKINourishment's other products have grown in popularity among climbers, runners, cross fit-ters, and other athletes and non-athletes.

Skin repair

I have been rock climbing in the gym or outside 3 to 4 days per week for the past 5 years.  As I progressed and started climbing harder, my skin was getting more damaged, torn, and destroyed.  I normally take a day off in between climbing days so my skin could heal, but even a day off sometimes isn't enough.  I need my skin to recover in a day or less so that I can keep a tight weekly training/climbing regimen.  I was never a fan of lotions and they didn't help my skin at all.  They made my skin feel oily/greasy and tended to make them peal easily.  I had almost given up hope on finding something to repair my skin quickly until I came across the climbOn Bar.


A Need

I was very skeptical at first and didn't want to try it, until my fingertips became mercilessly destroyed at a Dark Horse Series comp.  The small circular ClimbOn sample can was sitting on my dresser, and my fingers were burning as if they had been raked across a red hot cheese grater.  I opened the can and rubbed each fingertip until a thin layer built up and then slowly rubbed it in.  The next day, the fire and redness were gone from my fingertips and was able to climb the following day with no pain or redness.  I almost couldn't believe that this salve worked.  I decided to pick up the ClimbOn creme and the largest original ClimbOn bar so I would always have it on hand.

Using the bar/creme

I have been using climbOn products for about 8 months now.  I prefer the climbOn Bar for Men because of the aroma of the bar.  Many do not share my same opinion of the scent however, and prefer the scent of the original climbOn Bar.  The original bar has a citrus/lemon aroma and works just as well as the climbOn Bar for Men.  When using either climbOn bar, I have had best results after my hands are thoroughly clean and dry.  Just build up a thin layer on the fingertips and then gently rub in.  Your fingers will feel slightly oily for about 10 minutes but will absorb into skin to leave smooth, dry skin.  I always do this right before bed since your body heals while sleeping and should give healing a boost.  I use the climbOn creme whenever I have dryness on the back of my hands and elbows, since it is easier to apply.

What makes climbOn work?

I checked up on each ingredient in the three climbOn products to find out exactly what made it work.  From the table below you can see what the ingredients are in each product and what benefit is provided (benefit source: http://www.essentialoils.co.za/index.htm).  The makers of climbOn are serious about making a superior product because every oil has some extraordinary property that promotes skin healing.  They also believe that if you can't eat it, you shouldn't put it on your skin.  You could actually eat the climbOn bar, not that I recommend it.  Tried it...not so great, but at least I knew that I could eat it and knew that it wouldn't cause harm.  I have never seen any other skin care products tout it's ability to be edible, mainly because they are not.  It is sometimes difficult to even read the ingredients of most of these other skin care products available to consumers.



It is important that people know what they are putting on their skin and why it is an ingredient in that particular product.  I recommend these products to anyone who climbs or has to use there hands in very tough situations.  If you're a rock climber or outdoors person you can pick up the climbOn bar at Eastern Mountain Sports or REI, otherwise you can order it from their website SKINourishment.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Meet the Moment to Benefit the Access Fund


Photo from www.meetthemoment.com



'Meet the Moment' is a rallying of outdoor adventurers to a call for action.  The goal behind Meet the Moment is to inspire others to discover their 'moment' in the outdoors.  By uploading a photo to the Clif Bar sponsored web program (www.meetthemoment.com), Clif Bar makes a donation ($5) to a non-profit partner that helps protect the places we play.  Along with that donation, visitors to the site can also help out by sharing a photo to a social media platform (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or Pinterest) and Clif Bar will donate $1 to the photo submitter's non-profit partner of their choice (either Access FundInternational Mountain Bicycling AssociationLeave No TraceSurfrider Foundation, or Winter Wildlands Alliance).  The community of Moment meeters will then decide on which photos make the top 25.  A panel of Clif representatives will then decide on the Defining Moment photo that best describes the Meet the Moment campaign.

I have uploaded a moment of my own to this program because I wanted to help out the Access Fund.  The Access Fund is a "national advocacy organization that keeps U.S. climbing areas open and conserves the climbing environment".  I am also a member of this organization so that I can give back to the climbing community that I belong to.  The photo that I have uploaded is a photo from a recent trip to Farley, a sport climbing crag in Massachusetts.  I have a strong connection to this place because it was the first place I learned to sport climb, and I consider it my defining moment in the outdoors.  Farley has benefited from funds provided by the Access Fund that helped pave way access for the area.  The Access Fund has helped open this area up for myself and other fellow climbers and I would like to help out the Access Fund in any way possible.

Air Blast 5.8, Farley

My photo has made it into the top 25 of the Meet the Moment campaign to be decided upon as the possible Defining Moment of the Clif Bar sponsored program.  To check out the photo on the site and give it some love by sharing it, follow this link: http://www.meetthemoment.com/moment/view/2013-mike-b.  All you have to do is share it on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, or Pinterest and Clif Bar will donate $1 to the non-profit organization, the Access Fund.  All help is greatly appreciated!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

La Sportiva Testarossa Shoe Review

Testarossa- Italian translation for "red head"
(stock image from La Sportiva)

I had won a gift certificate for a pair of La Sportiva shoes from a comp and wanted to try something new.  For the last 3 years I have worn only the La Sportiva Miura VS and was convinced no other shoe would take its place as my favorite.  I mean, it was the shoe I was wearing when I sent my first v10, so I had a lot of loyalty to this shoe that was incredibly reliable.  The Miura VS has the aggressive downturn, which is great for smearing and for difficult overhanging routes and problems.  However, I found it difficult to keep the shoes tight enough to my feet and had to repeatedly re-tighten, with limited tightness, the velcro straps while I climbed.

Lightweight and Flexible

As I placed in the Dark Horse Series and won the La Sportiva certificate, I found it to be the perfect opportunity to try a new shoe.  After browsing the many models of shoes La Sportiva had to offer, I decided to settle on the lighter weight (~7.5 oz/shoe) lace up: the Testarossa.  The name Testarossa (Italian for red head) is very fitting for the shoe due to the vibrant color aesthetics.  This shoe contains a non-stretch material called Lorica, which is combined with a stretchable leather (bi-lateral stretch technology) that makes this nice flexible shoe great for edging.  After climbing in them (indoors and outdoors) for 5 months I was able to develop a comprehensive review of the shoe.


Always an awesome feeling opening up a brand new pair of climbing shoes!

Permanent Power Platform (P3) Technology

I have a low arch in my foot, which I thought could be a problem with such an aggressive climbing shoe (Testarossa).  My foot fit perfectly into the shoe!  I wear the same size in the Testarossa as I wore in the Miura VS, which was fortunate because no outdoor stores in Connecticut sell the Testarossa and I couldn't try any on before getting them.  The shoes were not overly tough to get on.   There was no slippage of my foot in the shoe and my heel did not tend to slip out either.  My foot surprisingly fit better in these shoes than the Miura VS.   The Testarossa did not lose its arch even though I have a low arch in my foot.  This is due to the P3 technology (Permanent Power Platform) that keeps the downturned shape of the shoe.  As you can see from picture below, the Miura VS's sole flattened and lost its arch.  Even though they both have the P3 technology, I believe the Testarossa didn't lose its arch due to the independent heel and midsole/toe with the flexible arch area.

Vibram XS Rubber

I was a little apprehensive about the lesser amount of rubber (density of rubber as well) on the heel due to some of my projects involving heel hooks.  The heel was very sensitive and sometimes painful when using the heel hook.  This subsided after a while (heel calloused) and actually turned into an advantage in that I could feel the rock on my heel and could make adjustments as needed.


Miura VS and Testarossa outsole comparison.  I definitely favored the divided midsole and independent heel.

The Testarossa allowed me to tighten the shoe as needed without having to re-tighten in between goes on the problems I was working on.  The 4mm of Vibram XS rubber is as durable and sticky as La Sportiva claims, providing amazing grip on overhanging routes or problems.  I didn't think I would ever be able to find a better shoe than the Miura VS.   It was no surprise that the better shoe was from the same company that made my last favorite shoe.  With 80 years of experience behind them, La Sportiva knows what is necessary to help climbers push their boundaries and achieve their goals.

The Prow, v10 sticking a nice heel after the start


Friday, August 30, 2013

Hiking in Switzerland


On my trip to Europe, while travelling through Switzerland, we were able to hike on one of the lower mountains of the Swiss Alps: Mt. Pilatus (7000 feet).  The mountain had an interesting and familiar sounding name.  According to legend, Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor that presided over the execution of Jesus Christ, was buried in the nearby Lake Lucerne, thereby giving the name to the mountain, Pilatus.  Other legends also tell intriguing stories of dragons and encounters with these legendary creatures.  I always find places more interesting whenever there are legends or fabled stories about the sites I visit almost as if I hope to find one of them true.  After learning of the folklore we set off on our adventure to the summit.

As I sat in the world's steepest cogwheel train travelling slowly up the mountain side I breathed in the cool morning air, closed my eyes for a few seconds, and exhaled all my worries and became consumed in the views.  The steel cogs clinking and hissing beneath me became almost rhythmic and became the background music to the ascent.  The thinner air and reducing pressure pulled at my eardrums giving the crackling popping sounds that occur at higher altitudes.  I felt an energy surging through me that wanted to get out and start hiking around to discover new views and get a glimpse of the greater peaks of the Swiss Alps.




Once the train came to a halt, we still had about 150 feet of elevation to get to the summit.  I immediately started the short hike up.  Almost instantly my body reacted to the thinner air with my heart pounding in my chest and ears.  I didn't care, I kept hiking to get to the top and capturing small elements of the mountain with my camera.  The whistling breezes and the way the clouds slowly slithered across the peaks were surreal.



I call this shot "The Dragon's Breath Upon the Mountain"






Turning the corner to the summit while hypnotized by the stellar view.



               Rolling waves of green.

I had a very hard time pulling myself away from landscapes and rugged terrains.  I tried to snap as many pictures I could out of fear of not being able to remember every aspect of the peak of Pilatus.  I only wish I had more time to hike around the mountain.  There was so much to absorb that one day would not be enough to enjoy it all.  I knew that soon enough I would be back to reality sitting in front of a computer and getting occasional glimpses of freedom outside the office windows, except the views would pale in comparison to this place.  





The higher Swiss Alps in the distance.  These mountains were about 14,000 feet in elevation.





I wouldn't mind enjoying the views from this house on a daily basis.


Swiss national flag hanging in the rafters.


If anyone gets the chance to visit Switzerland in the summer months, Mt. Pilatus would make a great half day or full day adventure for all abilities.  Hikers even have the option of taking a lower elevation trail to reach the summit for a greater challenge.  The visitor center at the top offers detailed history around the mountain along with gift shops and dining that had amazing hot chocolate.  It's not a surprise that the Swiss would have great chocolate though!  The greatest thing I took away from this trip was an even larger appetite for hiking and climbing and a greater thirst for adventure!


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Creating My Travel Stories Through Photos

Eiffel Tower, this one is for you!

When I see past pictures of myself on scenic trips and vacations, it seems most of  the photos only showed me standing upright in the foreground of the scene that was photographed.  I called these the boring mugshot poses.  I find I have a hard time remembering what emotion I was feeling at the time and what was happening in the picture.  In this sense the photographs were only pictures that did not convey or create a story in my or possibly, the viewer's mind.  I had thought about this before I went on my Europe trip and really wanted to get some good photos that would forever tell a dynamic story.  After getting back from the trip and going through the photos, it seemed that I had an easier time recalling the exact events (even some nostalgia) of the "non-standard" pictures.

This shot will be forever memorable due to the number foreigners laughing and taking photos of my "stunt" on Mt. Pilatus in Switzerland.


Yeah..I don't like coffee..or the size of this cup.  I was in Paris and had to try the espresso though.  It had a crimp/pinch for the handle luckily.


I was dared to climb up to touch the address number of the door in Lucerne, Switzerland.  Apparently the folks I was with didn't know exactly how much I like to climb.  

This very steep hill was great for this shot.  Shannon actually thought she was pushing me over the edge, down the mountain side vineyard in Germany.

I look back on these photos and I can remember the feeling and get the nostalgia that I was looking for.  With touristy areas that we traveled to, I got a lot of looks and raised eyebrows from the pictures that were taken of me.  I didn't mind because making a great memory was way more important!  I don't recommend everyone take pictures like this.  What I do recommend is when taking a photograph, try to remember that your trying to capture a memory not just a picture.  In that sense, you will always remember your emotions and feelings when you see the picture again and hopefully get the nostalgia that I get when I look back on my photos.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Psicobloc Masters Series: A Deep Water Solo Success


Paving the way for the future of climbing comps was August 2nd's deep water solo (DWS) event: Psicobloc Master's Series.  It was the first time a comp like this was held in the U.S. and it was intense!  A 55 foot wall situated over a corner of a pool used for summer downhill ski jumps, was the main staging area for this vertical contest.  Big name competitors (Sharma, Kinder, Traversi, Woods, Digiulian, Payne, Johnson, and many more) were there to test their skill on a 5.13c (women's route)/5.14b (men's route) rated free solo route.  An added element to this comp was that it was head-to-head in bracket style competition.  First to get to the top or highest point advanced to the next round.  The competitors had to come up with a careful strategy (climb for speed, endurance, or a mix of the two) since they would have to climb the same route over if they advanced to further rounds.  Total cash purse at stake was $20,000!


Let the show begin!
(photo from www.prana.com twitter feed)

The comp was broadcast live over the internet via the climbing media artists at Louder Than 11.  Once again showcasing their talents on broadcasting live competitions, LT11 captured a successful start of DWS comps here in the U.S.  Out of all the stellar, big name competitors Sasha Digiulian and Jimmy Webb took home the wins at the Psicobloc Masters Series and became the first winners of a comp that made a huge splash among climbing fans.  I'm not a gambler, but I would bet a million dollars there will be another DWS comp in the future.  Words alone can't explain the awesomeness of this event.  The entire pre-recorded feed from the comp can be found at LT11.tv.  Enjoy this amazingly sick highlight footage from Park City TV, you will probably want to try it after watching!


  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Excuses for Why You Didn't Send



I was climbing at my local gym a couple weeks back and I couldn't repeat some problems that I have already done.  Without hesitation I blamed it on something that would have an immeasurable effect on my failure because there is "no way I shouldn't be able to climb that problem again!"  The next day I was able to repeat the problems.  This, of course, can be explained if enough thought was given into why certain problems are easier on one day and impossible on another.  But this is not the issue!  It's the excuses I or others have made for why they did not send a problem/route either outside or in the gym.

Fell due to "the sun being in my eyes" (photo by Tommy Durant)

We've ALL had those days where we're climbing below our limit but for some reason just can't quite finish that problem that should go down with ease.  What causes this?  It could be from a number of reasons but for the most part, we don't know!  But what we do know are the number of excuses, whether real or fake, that are tossed around right after we take the fall.  Here is a list of the excuses that I've heard and/or guilty of using:

-Too humid/grimy

-Not enough skin on my tips

-hold is all greasy

-It's a high gravity day (sometimes the world just wants to keep you down!)

-Shoe rubber is bad (on this day/climb only though)

-Rock is too warm/cold

-Not really my style of climbing (say what??)

-I would've but I wanted to save my energy for something else

-I didn't drink enough water

-I drank too much water

-too much chalk on my hands

-I got it before so it doesn't matter (sureeee)

-Not enough chalk on my hands

-My foot doesn't want to stay on

-I climbed the day before (even though you didn't!)

-I'm not focused (very legitimate excuse though)

-I'm hungover (drank 1 light American beer 2 days ago!)

-I'm just not feeling it today (usually after multiple attempts and embarrassingly awkward falls)

-I was super sketched on that move (that was 3 feet off the ground)

-I got chalk in my eye!





The list above is only a sample of the excuses that are tossed around like chalk bags in the gym or outside.  Whatever the excuse is that you have for not sending your problem, it doesn't matter.  We all know that you'll get it again when the chalk on your hands is just perfect, when you are perfectly hydrated, and when the earth lowers its gravitational pull upon you. Our egos keep the excuses flowing upon failure to send.  Sometimes our bodies just aren't in climbing mode that day and some of us refuse to accept the possibility of being weak, even if it's temporary.  The excuses are great to hear, and at times very humorous, so keep trying hard and eventually you will get your repeat/send!







Thursday, June 20, 2013

Asana KJ Signature Highball Crash Pad Review: Two Years of Use


It has been just about 2 years since I got my Asana KJ Signature highball crash pad.  Over those 2 years I have used the KJ pad well over 100 times.  It is always the biggest pad out in the boulder field when I am out, so naturally it gets the most use.  By "use", I mean being fallen upon.  Out on a normal day bouldering, the pad probably takes at least 50 falls (average height of ~6-10 ft) upon it, with the average weight of the falling person being 150 lbs.  So, imagine taking a 150 lb. weight and dropping it over 5000 times (this being a conservative guess) on the pad.  That's a ton of abuse for any one object to take, especially since most of the time the pad is laying on rough, uneven and often wet and muddy terrain.

How the Padding Holds up

The dimensions of the KJ Signature pad are as follows (unfolded): 66 x 44 x 5 inches.  The inside of the pad is what I really like.  It has 1 inch of industrial grade closed cell (stiffer foam) foam followed by 3 inches of high density open cell foam (firm and spongy), topped off with another layer of 1 inch industrial closed cell foam (Foam Types-for more details on mentioned types of foam).  This makes the pad landing system ultra durable and ultra impact friendly.  So after 2 years of use, does the padding hold up?  Has the firmness diminished?  Has the pad lost any depth (compacted)?

A clean pad for the picture(had to vacuum it to show it was still one color)!

The firmness of the pad has seemed to hold up very well.  Since the bulk of the landings occur in the "primary landing zone", I used a level and tape measure to determine how much the padding had been compacted by all of the falls.  Other pads I have had in the past either lose their firmness or have major compacting of the internal padding.  Measuring the Asana pad showed a minimal loss of the depth of the pad (as shown below).  I used a level to make sure I had the depth of the primary landing zone and measured on the non-shoulder strap side on all three sides (3 different spots per side).  All measurements were at or about 4.5 inches in depth.



A loss of only half an inch over 2 years of throwing this beast of a pad down on some rough terrain and then repeatedly falling on it is actually quite amazing.  Not to mention the stiffness of the padding still feels as if I just bought the pad yesterday.

Straps and Buckles


The KJ Asana pad has 3 metal cam buckles (unbreakable) that hold the pad together along with padded shoulder straps and hip strap (both adjustable) for carrying.  Carrying the pad around on longer more strenuous hikes is not too taxing due to the comfortable shoulder straps and hip carrying system.  I figured when I got the pad that the cam system that held the straps tight to keep the pad closed would, in time, destroy or fray the strap.  This has not occurred and appears to be not having an effect at all on the strap (as shown below).

Notice the buckles and straps are all intact with no fraying or tearing after 2 years!

I have trusted my life and legs to this pad for 2 solid years and have been completely satisfied with the way the padding, straps, buckles and fabric has held up to all of the abuse (including the rough New England weather conditions).  I am also able to put things inside the pad to carry (Asana Pro Spotter, camera tripod, etc.).  The only downside to such a large pad is the extra weight (which is still not that much, but it's a trade-off for the extra protection and peace of mind knowing there is a high quality pad below waiting to catch my fall.

My pup Bailey and me taking a break on the KJ pad

*All views expressed above are my opinions and based on my personal experience.  Bouldering is dangerous and there is no guarantee you will not get hurt even if using a crash pad!  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Power Struggle 7 Bouldering Comp Highlights

Another stellar show was put on at Prime Climb's Power Struggle 7!  It was a great showing for a comp that was previously cancelled due to a snow storm.  The Prime Climb setters went back to work for the third time this year stripping down the bouldering wall to make a blank canvas on which to craft some tricky problems for the competitors to pull on.  Click on the video below to check out the highlights from the competition!



 Setters hard at work, preparing for the comp!

Ty Landman eyeing up the 3rd final's problem...right before he cruised through it to become the champ yet again!

Women's Finalists: (L to R) Adelia Wong, Molly Gaynor, Isabelle Faus

Men's Finalists: (L to R): Bryce Viola, Ty Landman, Augie Cohn

If you are a competitive climber and didn't make it to this year's competition, I highly recommend making it to next year's.  These comps are NEVER a disappointment when it comes to the qualifying round and the finals showdown.  Also, there were some great prizes for top finishers in designated categories and raffle prizes (shown below).

(photo courtesy of Prime Climb's Facebook page)

Be sure to go check out the Prime Climb Gym sometime soon to climb on the problems that were shown in the video!