The RV Project

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Archive for the tag “bouldering”

How to Climb in Squamish

Marissa Land proving that meat wraps aren't just for dudes.

Marissa Land proving that meat wraps aren’t just for dudes.

When people come to Squamish for summer bouldering (and many, many people do), they often get bouted by climbs that, numerically speaking, are well within their abilities. I experienced it, and I think most people have the same feeling to some extent or another. People blame poor feet, cryptic granite, painful crystals, and humid conditions, but the real story here is that the climbing in Squamish is Yosemite-style technical, and quite varied; it requires a break-in period of several sessions. Read more…


29 Celebrations

[vimeo 70693850 w=700 h=394]

On July 15, I turned 29. I normally do a Birthday Challenge on these occasions, of varying levels of involvement (click to read about years 24 and 26). This year I wasn’t sure what Squamish would be like, and I procrastinated mightily in the planning. But after a few days enjoying the boulders in the magical forest, it seemed that nothing could be better than trying to do 29 of the “Top 100” boulder problems the guidebook has to offer.

Full disclosure: apparently these are the "Top 100 plus", meaning plus the best highballs.

Full disclosure: apparently these are the “Top 100 plus”, meaning plus the best highballs.

Read more…

Recovery Road is a Long One

Until our last day of climbing in Red Rocks, Las Vegas, I hadn’t bouldered since December 21st. That was the day I somehow fell from the pinch on Saigon Direct, missed the pads, and cracked my heel in two. I wanted to use the forced rest period to address another injury of mine, that being chronic tendonitis of the right elbow, or medial epicondylosis if you’re inclined to use specific terms. Nearly 4 months and hours and hours of physical therapy later and I cannot say that it’s gone. I can say, however, that my condition has improved, and I am now back to trying hard.

Except for a couple of days of sport climbing, I didn’t climb in Bishop after the foot injury. Three months later, As a reintegration to movement, Evan Ludmer and I did a little bit of trad climbing in Vegas, ticking the incredible classics Epinephrine and Sour Mash. At this point, my elbow wasn’t really hurting, but still made the crepitus-like noise that it has been making all year. I figured that keeping the climbing to a vertical 5.9/5.10 level would be okay, and it was. I decided to try some easy bouldering.

Evan and I on the top of Sour Mash, and amazing 5.10 route in Black Velvet Canyon

Evan and I on the top of Sour Mash, and amazing 5.10 route in Black Velvet Canyon

For the purposes of this blog post, I’m using grades to discuss relative strength within one person (me). It is not my intention to use grades as ego markers. They are brought up here only to illustrate a point, and in our idiosyncratic sport, grades are the best approximation we have for a standard rubric.

For the first couple of days back on the little rocks, I set my expectations low. V5 was the limit, but I found myself having trouble with V3’s and V2’s, particularly when smaller holds were involved. Day two of bouldering saw myself at the Monkey Bar boulder, perhaps the most traveled little boulder in all the land of Nevada. I had spent so many days watching people climbing on the numerous classic steep climbs that it was hard to resist trying myself. Suddenly, there I was underneath the starting jugs of Monkey Bars (V2). I began to literally monkey around. The sensation was incredible.

Still, I had a long way to go. That day saw failures on Hyperglide (V4/5) and The Pearl (V5). At my peak, I’d flash them both, but I couldn’t even move past the second hold on The Pearl…in fact I barely latched it in the first place. My elbow felt fine, but my finger strength was not up to the task. Not even close.

No worries, I thought. Joe’s Valley, with its friendly holds, “my style” climbing, and soft grades would surely be the springboard. On our first day of bouldering, I went with Will up the Left Fork to Vikki’s project from last season, Big Cheesy (V5). I remember this one being easy-looking when I filmed her. We both managed to do it first try, but I felt, well, weak. The next day, Poseidon (V8) managed to thwart us both. A move that normally would feel easy – a big sloper slap off a gigantic jug – felt very hard, and I stuck it only once. Then, neither of us could do Frosted Flakes (V5), though I know from previous experience that this is a very hard problem for the grade.

I think this is the top of Sour Mash, a fabulous 5.10 route in Black Velvet Canyon.

Climbing things you know neither name or grade of is a great way to keep climbing loose and fun.

A bit later, we met some new friends at the Food Ranch, Katie and Niko of The Morning Fresh. Niko had just done Resident Evil as his first V10, though immediately one could tell that he’s got a lot more double digit rigs in his future. After managing a quick ascent of Bring the Heatwole (V7), we went to Eden and G2-07, awesome problems that go at V10 and V7 respectively. I knew Eden would shut me down, not only as it was much harder than anything I’d climbed in so long, but because the crux revolves around a small, slopey crimp, which is my exact weakness. I didn’t expect G2-07 to be quite so tough though, and though I managed all the moves, linking felt damn-near-impossible.

Still, I was having fun. And I am, even if the numbers don’t show it. When I was at my peak, I could walk up to most Joe’s Valley V7s and give a good flash burn. I did a few V11’s, some V10’s, and many, many climbs in the lower grades. Now I am struggling to do V7 and V8. The other day I got my ass handed to me by a couple of V6’s.

I’m not frustrated. No matter what, it’s climbing, and even if the climb itself is a no-star breaky turdpile, it can still be fun. Furthermore, I want to emphasize that I don’t really care when I get to XX grade. The biggest reason I want to climb harder things is that cooler climbs tend to be harder. Or maybe I should say: I want to climb everything, and the only way to do that is to get strong enough.

And I almost forgot the silver lining!

The best part of recovery is that one improves very quickly. Remember that, two weeks ago, I was unable to do The Pearl…nay, I was unable to even conceive of doing The Pearl! Now I know I could. Strength returns fairly quickly. Also, given that all expectations are thrown out because I frankly have no idea how hard anything is anymore, I have the chance of surprising myself by doing a move that I didn’t think my out-of-shape self could pull off, or better yet, doing climbs I think are too hard.

Basically, I get to throw out all my old expectations, particularly those revolving around grades. Seriously, not many people get this opportunity.

At the same time, though, I am somewhat concerned. I am old. Earlier this trip, I turned 28. I am no longer a dirtbagging college kid whose spare time went to climbing and whose spare money went to gas, bagels and the $2 per night camping fee. I can no longer eat terribly and feel no ill effects. I can no longer drink hard, sleep little, and still climb hard(ish) in the morning. And when I get hurt, I can no longer think of it as something that will, with just a little bit of time, fix itself. Now, there is no guarantee that I will return stronger than before. Is this a bad thing? Sure, if all I cared about was sending V2^4. But few are the little boys whose dreams of greatness aren’t eventually crushed, and by now I have no illusions of being the world’s best in the little world of climbing (especially after watching Daniel Woods not climb Lucid Dreaming). Instead, I have dreams of once again feeling strong and confident in the moves that I can do, and of climbing as many new, interesting, and beautiful climbs as possible.

And who knows. If I take care of this issue now and start training hard, I just might see myself at the top of some lifetime projects. The Shield: I’m looking at you.

In Celebration

Last week, we met Katie and Niko at the local Joe’s Valley watering hole, The Food Ranch. The similarities were pretty conspicuous from the get-go: another couple on a year-long road trip, blogging and videoing their way through the experience. The main difference is that they are 2 months in, while we’re on year 2. We immediately got along great and became fast climbing partners and even (gasp) friends. As the amiable couple left to Moab for the week, Spenser and I mulled over a large realization they had brought to our attention: we’ve been on the road for almost 14 months!

Nothing as romantic as watching some bouldering on a sunny afternoon, right? Katie & Niko admire.

Nothing as romantic as watching some bouldering on a sunny afternoon, right? Katie & Niko admire.

This awareness was a bit shocking to both Spenser and I. The year-mark came and went, without the least bit of recognition.

It was an organic occurrence for us, it didn’t mean nothing to us, but it didn’t exactly mean anything either. Why didn’t we celebrate? Wait, celebrate what? “Congratulations on living your life,” seems very silly to me. I should mention I’m also not much for celebrating birthdays. Celebrating a year of being on the road is along the same vein.

At least now I know why Spenser and I have been having such a difficult time answering people when they keep asking us how much longer we’ll be on the road for. The short answer is, we don’t know. We can’t really think about it. This is our life. We’re happy, much happier than we were in the Bay Area. We still enjoy gong back to the other ‘real world’ for once in a while, but always end up wanting to leave. It’s not our world, it’s theirs.

…Now I’m just going to get philosophical on y’all for one second. At the ripe age of 26, I think I’m finally starting to understand how individual each person’s reality truly is. The way every single moment is perceived is particular to the individual, even with Spenser and I who spend almost every moment together. How we experience each step of this road trip is is a completely separate reality. Neither of our experiences is more or less real, but it certainly helps to be cognizant of how differently we can comprehent the same moment [this tactic is particularly useful in assuaging variances in opinion that occur…daily ;)].

Disparate experiences aside, life on the road is our current reality and neither Spenser nor I want it to change. Spending time with Katie and Niko, remembering how we felt when we started this crazy trip, reinvigorated us and reaffirmed that this is the life we want.

Katie using the thumb mono on Feels Like Grit.

Katie using the thumb mono on Feels Like Grit.

Niko locking off on Eden.

Niko locking off on Eden.

Katie trying hard on Kelly's Arete. We both need to go back and finish this one.

Katie trying hard on Kelly’s Arete. We both need to go back and finish this one!

This post was supposed to be about a fresh start for our second year. It still will be, just not in the way I’ve been brewing it up in my head the past couple days while we’ve been out of internet contact at the campsite.

I was planning on writing about The RV Project’s new training plan. Since Spenser is just getting back into the bouldering game after a long siesta, we have been projecting many of the same lines (a silver lining to having Spenser injured). Wanting to milk what’s left of the cool temps, we came up with a training plan for the rest of our time in Joe’s; a two-day on, one-day off routine: a try-hard day, followed by a conditioning day, and then a rest day.

Lindsey "Hat Hottie" Tjian smoothly cruising Kelly's Arete.

Lindsey “Hottie in a Hat” Tjian smoothly cruising Kelly’s Arete.

At the top!

At the top!

Looking calm, even on the slopey top-out.

Looking calm, even on the slopey top-out.

Yesterday was a try-hard day and I decided to get back on an old nemesis rig from our last trip to Joe’s, Kill by Numbers. I was inspired by Katie’s ambitious send of the climb about a week ago. Kill by Numbers has been especially frustrating for me, being the only climb that I’ve worked on repeatedly and am still trying to refine my beta on. I was feeling good at the end of the day as we hiked up the small hill that leads to the Kill by Numbers cave. I’ll admit, I didn’t feel strong on the moves, but I thought I could push through. The problem is right-hand sloper intensive (not my strong suit) and my right hand was getting pumped quickly. After my second-to-last go, I felt a slight pain in my left middle finger, but ignored it and pressed on. I pulled hard on the left-hand roof crimp and then pop.

Although this has never happened to me, I knew exactly what just occurred: I’ve read this story many times before. So, that’s that. My original training plan is out the window. We’ll see how the finger feels in the coming days, but for now…no climbing. Making the most of the lousy situation, Spenser and I went on our first icing date last night at the river- I held my hand in the ice-cold water, while he his elbow. Cute, right? 😉

Spenser sending his first V7 of 2013, Bring the Heatwole.

Spenser sending his first V7 of 2013, Bring the Heatwole.

Don't trust your children with her! ;)

Don’t trust your children with her! 😉

Will was with us in Joe's for about a week before jetting back to start his Chapter 11 in the Bay Area. Guess the problem he's pinching hard on!

Will was with us in Joe’s for about a week before jetting back to start his Chapter 11 in the Bay Area. Guess the problem he’s pinching hard on!

Will offering a different perspective on Bring the Heatwole.

Will offering a different perspective on Bring the Heatwole.

Our second year is not starting off how I imagined it. The single most important thing I’ve learned on this road trip still rings true: plans change [see: our very first blog post]. Nonetheless, this second year I’m really excited about. Before year 1,  I was incredibly nervous. Not anymore. We’re pros. We’ve got this. I mean we still have stuff to learn, always. What were pros at is rolling with the punches.

Although you won’t see a video of me sending Kill by Numbers anytime soon, here’s a vid that Katie & Niko’s friend Angus made of his trip here. It includes Katie sending the rig!

Bishop Times

Vikki and I are now nearly three weeks into our Bishop stay. It has changed since I first came in 2004. Weekends now consistently see 100-car days in the Buttermilks. The Loco Frijole (aka Terrible Taqueria) is now Holy Smoke, a tasty Texas BBQ joint. There’s a taco truck at Barlow and 395. There are piles of feces to be found all over. Some petroglyphs were stolen. Black Sheep just moved down the street.

Don't panic! They've just reopened at 232 North Main Street.

Don’t panic! They’ve just reopened at 232 North Main Street.

Much remains the same. All of the land around Bishop is spoken for by various government agencies, so the town will remain quaint. Schat’s is still making people fat, Looney Bean is still run by adorable underage girls, and the Pizza Factory still has the best arcade in town. The sun still casts hyper-saturated colors on the clouds when it dips behind Mt. Tom, and deer are still a common sight around Buttermilk Mountain.

Every Bishop trip prior to this one, was marked by the same longing for more time. It felt like home, yet it never could be. We always had to return to our cities.

Now we have planted our temporary roots to join the “seasonals,” a loose network of obsessed boulderers hoping to unlock the secrets of strength and badassery. Now we live here.

Vikki celebrates after putting down Fly Boy Arete, her long-term project

Vikki celebrates after putting down Fly Boy Arete, her long-term project

We’ve been climbing mostly with our friends Steve and Angie. Our abilities and psyche match up quite well. There are also our Canadian friends in the Pit, whom we also climbed with in Joe’s Valley; there are many long-term Pit-dwellers; and of course, every weekend brings dozens of Bay Area climbers.

Grabbing the gritty pinch on Fly Boy Arete (V5)

Grabbing the gritty pinch on Fly Boy Arete (V5)

Vikki making the last big span on Fly Boy Arete (V5)

Vikki making the last big span on Fly Boy Arete (V5)

Climbing-wise, it’s been a bit bi-polar. Vikki totally destroyed her long-term goal, Fly Boy Arete (which, by the way, is one of my favorite V5s in all of Bishopdom). She crushed it so convincingly that it was anti-climactic. She’s now tackling some loftier rigs, such as Fly Boy Sit, Green Wall Center and the perennial favorite High Plains Drifter. She’s also nearly sent Serengeti, which will be great for her to do so she never has to do it again.

Angie Bradshaw convincingly crushes Fly Boy Arete (V5)

Angie Bradshaw convincingly crushes Fly Boy Arete (V5)

Flannery Shaw-Nemirow sticks the lip of Fly Boy (V8). She's house-sitting our trailer while we're gone.

Flannery Shaw-Nemirow sticks the lip of Fly Boy (V8). She’s house-sitting our trailer while we’re gone.

I made it my goal here to get good at crimping, come hell or blown tendon. So far I haven’t hurt fingers, but I still feel awful on small holds. I must remember that strength is a long-term, cumulative thing.

I have managed to do a couple of cool things, though. Xavier’s Roof went down fairly easily for Steve and I (and the homie Jeremy Ho is stupidly close). We both managed to send Beefcake, which for me was one of the most frustrating projects ever. Two distinct cruxes with a terrible, awkward, dabby topout meant I was consistently getting reasonably close but feeling like it was miles away. The Beef cave is now a friend, and we will be using it for training. We also did Slunk, a rather attractive line above the Sads upper parking lot.

Steve Bradshaw works the moves of The Mystery (V11/12).

Steve Bradshaw works the moves of The Mystery (V11/12).

Steve surfing up the clean arete of Slunk (V9)

Steve surfing up the clean arete of Slunk (V9)

While we have succeeded on many projects, others continue to elude. Haroun and the Sea of Stories will not go down easy, nor will The Mystery. Yet both require crimping, hence I shall throw myself at them until my elbow shatters.

Speaking of which, we are crunchy. Vikki’s had a hard time doing her physical therapy, and I have been less than diligent as well. My elbow now makes a sound like penguins dancing in a bed of pea gravel. Vikki’s left shoulder is tightening up. We try to adhere to a day on/day off schedule, but even in this modest task we often fail. When I split a tip the other day, we decided it was time for a break.

So now we’re in Mono Lake, staying at a friend’s cabin. The week will be spent doing rehab, organizing and editing footage, and relaxing. We’re even taking a break from caffeine.

The ghost town of Bodie.

We took an off-season visit to the ghost town of Bodie.

We’ll be back in Bishop for the weekend, when many friends descend upon the boulders and we all climb hard. I can’t wait to climb with our renewed psyche and refreshed muscles! It was starting to feel like we were forcing ourselves a little bit…the balance was out of wack.

Oh, and keep an eye out for some videos! Here are some more photos for your enjoyment:

Jho gives the Xavier's Roof finishing jug a tickle

Jho gives the Xavier’s Roof finishing jug a tickle

Chewing on my knees

Chewing on my knees

Rob demonstrates why they call it Fly Boy.

Rob demonstrates why they call it Fly Boy.

Flannery and Angie talk beta.

Flannery and Angie talk beta.

Clouds blowing in over the Sierras

Clouds blowing in over the Sierras

Crash Pads- A Review of What We Have

I’ve been bouldering for about 8 years now. Shortly after starting to explore the Santa Barbara mountains with Chris Yorks and Dan Kovner, I invested in my first crashpad, a Franklin Dropzone. Since then I’ve had a multitude of foam, nearly all of which we’ve somehow brought along on the RV Project. We’ve got a good variety, and in going through them I see there are plusses and minuses to each. If you’re thinking of buying a new pad (or searching for a used one), think first about what you’ll mostly be using it for and what you might already have.

Mammut Soho

The goods

  • 120 x 100 x 9 (cm) or about 48″ x 39″ x 3.5″
  • It’s blue
  • Three hooking metal buckles…weird closure system

I got this one as a freebie from a then-road-tripping Alex Johnson who didn’t have space in her car for this one. I can understand why. It has two taco folds instead of the usual one, and it folds into a triangle. This makes it, as far as I’m aware, the only crash pad that gets bigger when folded up. Two straps keep the sides together, and then a big diaper flap comes up from the bottom and attaches to the top, making for a big storage pouch. The flap also can be used to protect the shoulder straps from the dirt when the pad is in use.

The unique bi-fold design has major advantages. As a backpack, it’s easy: you just fold it up and toss everything in, and the flap keeps it there. The profile is narrow, making hiking through forest or the corridors of Hueco Tanks much easier. Also, because the two folds are at 60° instead of being folded all the way over, the foam will last a bit longer in the hinge region.

As far as I can see the main disadvantage is the car storage issue. In addition, the stitching on the diaper flap is a little weak, with the result that my flap is now far less bombproof in terms of holding stuff.

The carrying system could use a hip belt, but it has a chest buckle which helps. Otherwise, the shoulder straps are a little narrow and could use more padding. When you fill the pad with a gallon of water, shoes, lunch, and extra clothes and then hike for an hour, you feel it in the upper traps.

One last note on this one: Many other boulderers have watched me put the pad together and remarked that the closure system is dumb, or looks hard to manage. I used to think that too, but once you get the system down it’s no worse and maybe even a bit better than the standard system you see on Organics, Mad Rocks, etc. I think it’s just non-standard and funny looking, which frightens most people. Though I won’t deny that the diaper flap is a little goofy.

Organic Full Pad

The goods

  • 3′ x 4′ x 4″
  • Pretty purple colors
  • Big flap for help with closure

One thing I’ll give Organic is simplicity and quality. They use some of the best foam out there, and I know people with some old-ass Organics that still save ankles. They also have a sweet hybrid hinge that’s part taco, part hinge, which does well to mitigate the tendency for pads to rapidly fold in half when landed upon.

Vikki found hers on Craigslist, and of all the pads she’s tried, this is the only one she can comfortably carry. Perhaps it’s time for pad manufacturers to think about a female-specific carrying system. Guys would buy these for their girlfriends in a heartbeat…for me it would’ve meant that Vikki could carry more to Upper Chaos. The shoulder straps are pretty comfy, and it has both waist and chest buckles for tight fitting.

One minor peeve with Organic that I have is that I don’t like the hook/strap closures. They are kinda tough to loosen and not that easy to tighten. I also don’t think the flap is necessary. In theory you can put your wallet/keys/guidebook in there for safekeeping, but the chances are good that you’ll put your phone in there, forget about it, and land on it. The flap does help, though, because its length allows you to strap one pad to another and carry two of ’em.

All in all, this pad is a very solid pad. And it’s all made in the USA. Pick your pattern and be a standout, just like a Scion driver!

Asana KJ Highball 2

The goods

  • 60″ x 44″ x 5″
  • Cam strap closure

This is the biggest pad we have. It’s also the most expensive, but we got a discount for helping Asana with a photo shoot. Designed by highball hero Kevin Jorgeson, it features 3″ of open cell (soft) foam sandwiched between two 1″ layers of closed-cell foam. This means that it can effectively be used upside-down, and handy thing for draping over boulders in the LZ. I have jumped from high up and this is the pad to land on.

The closure system is so simple it should be standard all over the place everywhere. It’s just some 1″ straps that you feed through camming buckles. Cinching is a cinch and loosening is as easy as hitting the button. There is no flap, and I was initially worried that things would tend to fall out the corners, but even when I have a bunch of loose small stuff in there it’s possible to keep it all in by tightening the straps a lot. (I try to avoid this, as it places lots of stress on the seams.)

Carrying this pad is a dream. The padded hip belt and contoured shoulder straps are what I wish I had when I was hopping talus in Colorado, but they work equally well for scrambling up loose hillsides on the “longer” approaches in Joe’s Valley.

This is just a well-made pad. The hybrid hinge works well of course, though they took out the anti-taco straps from the first KJ pad that would keep the pad stiff if you tightened them. I think they are planning on a KJ 3, and they’ll put the straps back on. There’s a little carpet corner for cleaning your shoes (which is clutch), and the handles are tubular webbing with a little plastic tube to give it shape. Little details like these make it a joy to bring the pad out.

Franklin/Black Diamond Dropzone

The goods

  • 3′ x 4′ x 4″
  • Blue was your only choice…now you have a few, I think
  • Hooking metal buckles for closure

For an all-round beginner pad, it doesn’t get much better than this. The closure system (there are two, but they’re similar) is fairly simple and does a good job to insure that even the small stuff, like a guidebook, won’t fall out when you pack it up for the hike. It’s a taco-style (solid foam folded in half, instead of cut and hinged), which I generally prefer as it is less likely to fold in half and slam you in the face if you fall in the middle of an uneven landing.

I’ve had three of these, and the one main complaint is that the closure system is the first to fail on all of them, rendering them useless as backpacks. I’ve since used them as secondary pads, or as an extra in case a friend without a pad wants to join up.

A major bonus is that two of these makes just about a perfect bed. We’ve got them in the truck for that purpose.

Franklin Hipster Pad

The goods

  • Little
  • Only a shoulder strap

This little guy landed in our lap a while ago. I don’t know what it’s really called, as Franklin was bought by Black Diamond long ago, but since you can only carry it over one shoulder, the Hipster pad seems apropos. This one is worthwhile as a solo-circuiting pad, a little sit-starter, folded up as a hole-stuffer, or as a couch to sit on between burns. If you’re on a road trip, it’s a useful little guy to have, as you can strap it to your primary pad and give yourself a little more coverage. Even with Vikki and I, you’d be surprised at the difference between two pads and two and a half pads.

Some general comments about crash pads

Firstly, if you’re going to be hiking much more than 15 minutes or so, you’re going to want a hip belt. After climbing all day and hiking 2 hours out of Mt. Evans Area A, my traps were so sore with the Mammut pad. A couple of times my neck actually spasmed and I couldn’t climb for a few days afterward. Hip straps. Very good things.

Pads that don’t have flaps are prone to dropping stuff (especially guidebooks, due to their slim profile), but I personally would rather have all the design focus on making the pad simple and easy. If you pack smart, you don’t have to worry about it.

In this mesh bag you’ll find: 4 pairs of shoes, a 1st aid kit, a chalk bag, a chalk pot, and a set of rain gear. When we unpack at the boulders, the entire list becomes one item.

Packing a crash pad is sort of an art. Firstly, you want to stick your puffy jacket and extra clothes in the bottom and around the edges. Water bottles and the like go in next, and finally your guidebook (or whatever else is relatively fragile). We got ourselves a large mesh bag that we just toss all our shoes, chalk bags, and rain gear into. This guarantees that nothing can fall out, and when you get to the project, unpacking just means two or three items instead of a garage sale of shoes and such.

To summarize: Hip belts and mesh bags.

Also, if you go for a mega-big pad, like a Mondo or that giant Metolius, beware. Everyone loves having a friend with a Mondo…nobody wants to carry the Mondo. My friend Bryan got an Edelrid Crux, which, if you want to go big, might be the way to go. Check out his review here. The Crux seems to toe the line nicely between size and cumbersomeness.

Lastly, adding a smaller “butler” pad to your arsenal is strongly advised. They slide in to your regular pad, are perfect for lowballing, and can also be used to patch holes in your pad setup. Asana and Black Diamond both make some pretty good ones.

Anyway, these are just my opinions after spending a few months bouldering around the USA and seeing different kinds of pads and pad systems. Of course everything comes down to personal preference, but hopefully this’ll give you something to think about if you’re currently hunting for a pad.

What’s your favorite pad? What pad features do you love? What pad features do you hate? Leave a note!

Are Piercings Worth the Price?

As Spenser said in the last post, we have arrived to sandstone heaven. I could not be happier. Colorado has beautiful stone and a multitude of great climbs, but Joe’s Valley is just easy. Especially after a summer consisting of driving an hour and a half, hiking another hour a half, climbing, hiking over talus for a half hour, climbing, and repeating. Free camping, boulders everywhere, and a town with everything you need just a short ride away. It’s been effortless getting used to life at Joe’s.

But I’m getting carried away. The point of this post is to talk about piercings! Let’s go back to where my curiosity with this began. Towards the end of our first climbing day at Left Fork, we met Mina Leslie-Wujastyk and David Mason. Mina and I started talking about physical therapy and the recurrent shoulder/neck injury she used to struggle with.

Spenser working the moves to They Call Him Jordan. This starts and finishes on one of my big projects at Joe’s Valley: Wills a Fire.

Mina’s shoulder would act up, especially during training, much like my injury (similar neck pain with numbness down the arm). She went to a chiropractor in Britain that was more on the alternative side of things and he told her that her piercings could be hindering her recovery. Piercings? Really?

Her chiropractor explained that because of the repetitive stress on her body from traveling, climbing hard, training, and so on, her immune system was already working overtime. To add the piercings on top of all that was possibly the straw that broke the camel’s back, in a way. Since her immune system was constantly working to fight foreign bodies (her piercings), it was unable to properly heal her shoulder.

They followed up this discussion with proprioceptive muscle strength tests – measuring how strong her arms were at opposing force with or without the specific piercings. Apparently, the difference was striking – especially for the tongue ring (Mina said she had a tongue, nose, and earlobe piercings at the time) initially. Then, after a relapse, it looked as if her nose stud was also a problem. One by one, all the piercings were gone. Since then (around the beginning of February), she was finally able to take her training to the next level and the rest is girl crushing history – I’m sure many of you have seen Mina’s recent sends of Tetris and Mecca.

Tetris V12 in Wild Basin, RMNP. from mina leslie-wujastyk on Vimeo.

So I know this is all sounds like “airy-fairy stuff,” as Mina’s boyfriend, David, likes to say. But can there be some truth to it? I decided to get on the laptop at the good ol’ Food Ranch and do a bit of my own research.

I did a bit of online scouring prior to getting my tongue pierced. At that time, my research led me to the conclusion that the worst I could really end up with was a chipped tooth or lisp. I was willing to take those chances. As most of you already know, the exact words that you Google make a huge difference.  When I started researching piercings and the effect they can have on the immune system, I was given a completely different world of information.

What Mina’s chiropractor was saying apparently makes complete sense. Piercings stress out your body and cause increased cortisol (the stress hormone) production. Pumping out cortisol is your body’s natural reaction to a threat, but sadly our body’s flight-or-fight response can’t differentiate between a real threat (a bear attack) versus a perceived threat (a really bad day at work or a piercing). Too much cortisol in the body is linked to weight gain, depression, and high blood pressure. Sure, I’m not worried about weight gain, depression, or high blood pressure necessarily, but continuously elevated cortisol levels inhibits the immune system while also leading to an overall cortisol depletion in your body. Low levels of cortisol can lead to low energy. A lowered immune system AND low energy?! Now this is very bad for climbing. Especially for a climbing road trip. This just skims the surface of what elevated cortisol levels do to your body, for more check out the Wikipedia page on it.

I then did a little more digging into tongue and navel piercings specifically, since those are the two that I am attached to, or that are attached to me, I guess. This is where we get into the more “airy-fairy stuff.” In acupuncture and related practices, such as acupressure, the tongue and navel are high-energy zones and metals (body piercings) are supposed to be avoided because they impede energy flow. What acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine refer to as “energy balance” can be related to the balance of our body’s endocrine system, for those of us who do not like to use words like “energy” and “flow.”

Acupuncture regulates our body’s Qi (pronounced chi) by improving energy flow through 14 meridians, channels that carry the Qi to various organs to keep our energy fields in balance. Before many of you start to dismiss this altogether, let me remind you that acupuncture is now recognized by NIH, the World Health Organization, and most medical doctors as an effective health therapy for certain medical issues.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the belly button is located in the middle of a primary energy line, the Conception Vessel Meridian. This is a forbidden acupuncture point known as CV8 and, in theory, can lead to core energy burn-out and cause fertility issues in women. While the tongue is divided into 5 parts: stomach, lungs, heart, gallbladder, and liver. The middle of the tongue (what is traditionally pierced) involves the spleen and stomach points, related to chronic digestion problems. Of course, we’re getting into theories at this point, but I found this all quite interesting. Anyone with piercings experience these types of issues?

The parts of the tongue according to Traditional Chinese Medicine.

I’m still figuring out what to make of all this. So far, my conclusion is the same as it has been for a while: every part of our body is connected, a disturbance in one part will inevitably effect the rest of the body in one form or another. I think the point that resonated most with me after all my reading was that a piercing will undoubtedly cause extra stress on the body. This, in addition with other common stressors, such as training, not getting enough sleep, and improper diet, will add up and the piercing could make the difference between your body healing properly versus the issue becoming chronic.

This clicked with me. I have an overactive immune system and continuing digestive problems due to Celiac Disease. Anything that could be getting in the way of me having an awesome climbing day and enjoying every day of this road trip needs to go. I took out my tongue and belly button piercings a few days ago. I figure it’ll be a fun little experiment (of course there are too many other variables, but a test nonetheless).  I have grown quite attached to my piercings (I’ve had my belly button ring for 10 years now), especially the reaction my tongue ring gets from certain people, but I don’t need it.

A quick update, it’s been about a week since my tongue ring and a few days since I took out my belly button ring. My shoulder has really been doing well in spite of the heavy climbing load. I’ve even been sleeping on my left side (which I have not been able to do comfortably for months). This is also great since I’ve haven’t been able to do my physical therapy exercises consistently at Joe’s. Nevertheless, no shoulder pain. I know this does not prove anything, but I think it’s extremely fascinating and hopefully helpful to somehow else out there! Even if it’s just the placebo effect, who really cares? What I do know is I’m done with piercings for the moment.

Up The Poudre

Last Tuesday, our good friends Will and Courtney dropped by on their way from the Pacific Northwest to the Red River Gorge. It’s quite a journey, as we can attest, so they took advantage of our proximity to I-80 to snag a shower, some groceries, some friend time, and to get in one last boulder sesh before roping up for the foreseeable future.

Will Wolcott trying hard on the cruxy opening of Gandalf V7. More photos on our Facebook page.

The weather was still early-fall-warm, but due to time constraints we didn’t want to hoof it all the way in to the Park. We decided instead on the long-ish drive up Poudre Canyon and the negligible approaches that the canyon areas provide. In particular, we wanted to check out Gandalf V7, which I’ve been told is one of the best, if not the best boulder problem in the canyon.

The drive is always longer than you think. Leaving Fort Collins and turning onto the windy road doesn’t take long, but then you must settle in for 40-some miles of windy beauty, marred by fire damage (beautiful in its own way). After an hour of twists and turns, you arrive at your parking area. For us, it’s a lovely little picnic pullout.

The last time we tried to check out Gandalf, the water was too high and we bouldered at the 420s instead. This time, the water was very low, making crossing quite easy. Well, Will got his pants a little wet, but no big deal.

Right in front of the river is a boulder with Crimes V9 and Against HumanityV7, both classics. To the right is the warmup boulder, with V1, 2 V4’s, and a sweet V6 up the middle.

Will trying hard on Against Humanity V7

After warming up, we went to go look for Gandalf. A warning to those with the new Front Range Bouldering Guidebook: It says to go right and uphill from Against Humanity. Go Left. Took us a little while to figure it out, but it’s really quite close.

Gandalf is high, real high, and I don’t think it gets done much…there was barely chalk on any of the holds. We tried it, and I think I can understand why…it’s old-school V7. The feet are tiny at the start and the first moves are tenuous and tension-y. Then you launch into the second half, with huge moves, an awkward toss, and a highball topout that’s hard to scope. I was able to get to the semi-jug right before the lip, but was pumped and scared and I backed off. A dollar in the punt jar, and we moved on to Against Humanity.

Courtney dialing in the shorty beta on Against Humanity V7. The tree provides a helpful spot.

I highly recommend this one. Big blocky features lead to a big jump at the top, and there are many ways to do it so shorties can’t complain too much. Will had an epic session on it and did all the moves, but couldn’t quite link it. Courtney nearly did all the moves, and Vikki unfortunately had fallen and bruised her hand earlier in the day, so she ate food.

We had looked at some other stuff in the talus field. Some of the harder problems looked awesome, but we stayed by the river. It appears there is still potential up there, as the book only lists a half-dozen or so problems. This means you can get your fill of terrible landings without hauling all your crap up to Upper Upper Upper Upper Chaos!

We crossed back over the Cache La Poudre river (which means “hiding place for powder”…I assume gunpowder?) and, in fine California fashion, drove to our favorite taqueria for dinner. Then Vikki and I stayed up late and tried to knock out a significant portion of the new video, but, well, there’s still much to do. sigh…

Lastly, a brief update on Vikki’s back: it’s getting better (and to track her progress we’ve started taking a photo a day of her back), but because her muscles that were originally tight are now loose, they are also weaker. She managed to crush the V4 arete on the warm-up boulder second try, but serious training and pulling is a no-go for her until her back is fixed. No word yet on how long until then.

No Pain, No Gain…No, Really.

Again, I’ve made the mistake of ignoring the nagging feeling in the back of my mind, that feeling that something is just not right with my body. The first time was when I ended up getting diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Not sure why I didn’t learn my lesson the first time…

I was in physical therapy before leaving on this road trip for recurring shoulder pain. I made some minimal changes, but overall I didn’t trust my physical therapist. I thought she was full of it. Ok, just partially full of it. She assigned a few back exercises and stretches and sternly told me that I needed to climb less frequently for a while. Whenever I asked for an explanation, she gave me a half-ass response. Whenever I asked a follow-up question, she dismissed me. She was scatterbrained and always in a rush and I didn’t like that about her mode of therapy.

So I only half listened to her. I was so busy with work and leaving my life in SF (renting out my apartment, packing up, etc.) that I barely had time to climb anyway – I was focused on getting out of the Bay Area and on the road. I changed up my daily habits a bit, things that were obvious to me, such as not holding the phone between my shoulder and head while typing and carrying an ergonomic backpack during my daily walks to/form the BART station. My shoulder pain went away without me doing any of the exercises that she has prescribed. 8 months later, I realize that she and I had both missed the big picture. I’ll get back to that a little bit later…

At the end of February, we finally left for the trip. With everything else going on (getting used to being on the road, building up the blog, and trying to shoot/edit video), I was focused on climbing as much as possible and easily ignored the intermittent shoulder pain that had come back. Since it was also summer, we weren’t trying that hard on anything…our main goal was just to stay as cool and dry as possible until we got to Colorado. It’s difficult to motivate when the rock is as greasy as a Big Mac.

It’s easy to forget about shoulder pain when this is your backdrop for climbing.

Fast forward to Colorado. We had been on the road for 4 months when we arrived in Fort Collins. I had definitely seen strength gains, but not as great as I would have liked. I was climbing in the gym a couple times per week (at most) in the Bay Area, now I was climbing ALL THE TIME, in the gym and outside. Still, I wasn’t really sending. And it wasn’t even the non-sending that was bothering me, but the fact that I didn’t feel stronger. I felt like something was holding me back. Maybe it was too much climbing and not enough training?

As I previously mentioned, we currently have a gym a stone’s throw away in Brad’s garage. When we moved in at the beginning of August, we began training on our rest days. I began to actually enjoy training, but my shoulder kept acting up. An action as simple as opening the truck door would set it off and then I was unable to do even a push-up without pain. That, combined with the gut feeling that the hunch in my back and excessive winging in my shoulder blades was not normal, sealed the deal. Something was wrong. I knew it and it was time to stop ignoring it.

Spenser getting some antagonistic training in at Summit Strength Training. Wall Angels, a great exercise featured in The One Workout Every Climber Should Do.

Enter Jeff Giddings of Adams & Giddings Physical Therapy. I was tipped off to his therapeutic ways by a couple long-term climbers – Paul Nadler, who had seen him for  recurring shoulder issue, and then Tim Rose, who went to see him for a lat issue while he was staying with Brad, Spenser, and I in Fort Collins. What instantly attracted me to this particular physical therapist was both Paul and Tim said that Giddings himself was a climber and that he did not prescribe eliminating climbing. SCORE!

Damn…this guy’s a busy! I guess that’s a good sign? Made an appointment. Had to wait 2 weeks, but finally got in! Jeff Giddings is a soft-spoken man, who is not afraid to tell it how it is. He even brought out his spine and shoulder models to teach me about the muscle imbalances happening in my body. I know, what a concept. I could immediately tell from the worry in his eyes that what is going on with me is serious. Thankfully, it’s not too serious yet. No surgery, no MRI, no tear, nothing permanent. Operative word: YET.

My hunching, excessive winging, and shoulder pain are all related. Like many climbers, I have overdeveloped lats. No surprise there. But, for whatever reason, when I began climbing I didn’t use my back muscles (specifically the ones between the shoulder blades) and overused my lats and teres major. Now, these muscles don’t want to let go. Here’s what I learned: the lat (aka latisimus dorsi) actually wraps all the way up the front of your shoulder. My lat has a firm hold on my shoulder and is pulling it forward, causing it to twist. Twisting is bad, unless you’re doing ab exercises. Jeff made is clear that if I didn’t fix the issues, things were going to get worse, fast. I was on the road to surgery.

Here’s a pic of the right lat muscle. This image is the best I could find to show how the lat muscle actually wraps around the front of the shoulder – its insertion point of attachment is on the front side top of the Humerus (upper arm bone), specifically the bicipital groove, which is achieved by its tendons wrapping around the underside of the Humerus.

Here’s the teres major. Again, Jeff’s description of my muscle imbalances make sense. You can see that the teres major connects to the front of the Humerus. If it’s tight (oh man, is it tight), it is going to pull my shoulders down.

Other issues include incredibly weak upper back muscles (those ones I don’t use while climbing) and curving of my thoracic spine (mid-back), but we needed to deal with the tightness first – my lats had to be forced to let go. So, the mobilizing and needling began. That first office visit, Jeff focused on my left side, since that is where the pain occurs. He needled my lat and teres major, those were the main pressure points. I know that he is not full of it because when he found those trigger points, man, did they  hurt – even causing inadvertent twitching of one leg or the other! Pressure points, indeed.

For those of you who are saying, needling…WTF? Needling is short for Trigger Point Dry Needling, or TDN. A very fine acupuncture needle is used to relax, or shut down, painful or knotted areas in your muscles. Most of are walking around with knots, that hard ball that won’t go away, in certain muscles. If you don’t address these knots with massage therapy, they can harden further and be extremely difficult to release. Most of the time, you can still choose to do aggressive massage therapy over needling, needling is just a faster solution. If you have never heard of needling, you either have never needed it or likely live in one of the 4 states that prohibit physical therapists from practicing it…California included.

I was nervous and weirdly excited. Tim had been needled while he was in town because his lat injury forced him to almost give up the climbing during his climbing trip to Colorado. After one session with Jeff, he was back to crushing. Since they use acupuncture needles, they do not hurt entering the skin. Then, the fun begins. As Jeff hit my trigger points, the muscle went crazy in spasm. It’s an incredibly strange feeling, but painful is not a term I would use to describe it. Your legs twitch, your eyes tear up, and then it’s all over in a flash. Deep breaths help.

Get it done where I can. Foam rolling at Chautauqua Park after Peter Mortimer showed us around the bouldering at The Ghetto.

Starting the first week, I was supposed to stretch out on a foam roller twice PER DAY. My exercises included laying on the foam roller length-wise and putting my arms out to the side while holding a 1-pound weight in each hand. Hold for a minute, or until my arms have lost feeling, rest and repeat for 4 reps total (shown in the picture above). Then, still laying lengthwise with the 1-pound weights, I needed to do 10-20 reps of bringing opposite arms up and down and 10 reps of flys, making sure my hands touch the ground each time. Lastly, we needed to start to deal with the curvature in my thoracic spine AKA hunching. This involves laying with the foam roller cross-wise right at the bottom of my scapula (shoulder blades) with my hips on the ground and forcing, yes, forcing, my thoracic spine back for at least minute. To deal with the winging, I needed to do modified plange push-ups (shown below) – 20 reps, 3 sets, 3 times per week. I am currently not allowed to do a full push-up, so my modification for the plange is to start on my knees in a push-up position and then push my chest in towards my spine and hunch my back, as shown below, then come back down to the start of a push-up for each rep.

What you should look like at the top of a plange push-up. I am doing a modified plange push-up on my knees for the moment, but the main goal is the same. This pic is taken from the awesome article that everyone should read: The One Workout Every Climber Should Do by Steve Edwards.

I took my tasks seriously and did the exercises religiously. When I came in for my next appointment, Jeff was psyched at the improvement. This, in turn, made me psyched. Now my right side was more tight than my left…funny that. Apparently, both sides were almost equally imbalanced. According to Jeff, it was pretty much a crap-shoot for which shoulder started experiencing pain first. Alright, more mobilization of the shoulder cap and more needling. This time, more extensive needling on both sides, including both my lats, teres major, muscles over each scapula and upper traps. I could barely drive home I was so sore. The soreness was rough for the rest of the day, but felt much better by the evening and even better the next morning.

Since I was succeeding in stretching myself out in the right direction, it was time to add a few back strengthening exercises to balance out my over-developed lats. Ys, Ts, and Ws (you can see an example of how to do each of these in this cheesy 2008 video). Back extensions on an exercise ball and seated rows with a green Theraband (videos of how to do them here and here, respectively). 3 sets of 10 reps for each of these. Do these as much as possible, basically any day that I am not climbing outside, in addition to the foam roller exercises I still need do to twice per day.

The plange Y exercise as shown as from the same article, The One Workout Every Climber Should Do. The DPM article also has a link to a video showing each exercise, check it out! This exercise can be done laying down on the floor (with a towel roll under your head), on a bench, or the stability ball. The choice is yours!

I will say, there is one sucky side effect…I felt weaker than ever climbing. Jeff explanation made sense: my previously tight back muscles were now becoming more slack, which means that they had less power. Hopefully in a few weeks they will adjust and, in theory, I’ll be climbing harder than ever. AND using the correct muscles to climb. What a concept!

Last Tuesday, I went back to see Jeff again. More improvement, more needling and we added one more exercise. The rotator cuff muscles need to become stronger in order to help pull my shoulders back, so I am now doing side lying rotator cuff external rotations with a 2-pound weight (I also place a towel roll under the working arm). 2 sets of 10-15 reps on each side. I was so much less sore from the needling therapy this time, I was even able to do my back exercises that evening!

I won’t see Jeff for another 2 weeks, now it’s up to me to take my exercises seriously. We’ve also extended our stay in Colorado…again. It’s hard to leave and it also doesn’t make sense to leave until we’re ready. My back/shoulders are not ready yet, so it looks like we’re staying around Fort Collins until the middle of October. Spenser just came home with the Joe’s Valley Bouldering guidebook, we’ll be happily making our tick-lists and finishing the lastest RV Project episode in the meantime.

Anyone else out there having shoulder or back issues from climbing? Anyone else as imbalanced as I am? I would love to hear what other people have done to rid themselves of any sort of chronic pain. Misery loves company. 🙂

I am actually a little giddy to see Jeff in 2 weeks. I’m incredibly thankful to have finally found someone who is knowledgable and not scared to explain why each exercise is important. I know I’ll be keeping up with my exercises, no matter how mind-numbingly mundane they are. Remembering to keep things in perspective and look at the big picture: I understand this is a long-term therapy and I also understand that I have to do this if I want to be climbing long-term. I want to stay as far away from surgery as possible and right now, I’m too close for comfort. Jeff and I are looking to have me “crushing” (words from his own mouth) by the time The RV Project pulls into The Pit for another Bishop Thanksgiving. I cannot be more excited.

Long drives, no matter how beautiful, can take a toll on your back. I know sitting in the truck for hours on end hasn’t helped the hunch…


EDIT: forgot to embed the video! My bad…see below.

Oh man, it’s the end of September. We’ve been living in Fort Collins for nearly three months. Here’s a quick recap, and a look forward to the last ~2 weeks of our stay, before we chase the sunset toward the good ol’ Sierras.

Vikki putting down Upperbot for her first V5

When we first got here, hiking sucked. Now it is awesome. I chalk this up to conditioning. Did we mention we’re staying with Brad, who has a gym in his house and a fitness company? Through that, we’ve both improved our fitness remarkably, benefitting from various passers-thru. A few weeks ago Tim Rose, Fernando Jimenez, Travis Gault, and Jen Burger stopped by for a couple of weeks to pull down on the RMNP gneiss and Mt. Evans granite. They are all personal trainers, gym managers, and/or super strong climbers. The restiest rest day involved a hike and some light bouldering in the front country. Other days were spent sharing training tips, putting each other through hard workouts, and eating healthy food.

Of course we had an unreasonable number of goals for Colorado before we came, and of course many of those have been more or less forgotten. These wayside goals include a lot of filming (we’ve gotten into photography a bit more), climbing in Wyoming more than thrice, climbing the Diamond, and visiting all the Boulder gyms. Oh, and getting famous. That hasn’t been realized either, though we did get to hang out with Alex Honnold that one time.

But the main goals have been achieved, namely, sell the big mother-trailer, buy a MUCH smaller one, and get the truck in shape for winter. And get psyched on the climbing here. More on that in the next paragraph.

The climbing: I remember our first day climbing outside in CO, when Paul and Emily took us to Wild Basin, home of hella DG V-hella-hards. We poked around, I flashed Mini-Dagger (V7), and flailed on Garfield and Odie (V8 and V6 respectively), finally nailing Odie on like the hella-dozenth attempt. Garfield still eludes me. Too much lasagna?

I should warn you that, though the climbing is really fun, Wild Basin is a chosspile. Some V6 had a huge block, like cubist-watermelon huge, break. Whoever broke it probably yarded it onto their own crotch, and I for one feel terribly for him or her. A massive foot broke off a V9 called Real Hero, or Greatest American Hero or whatever. It’s still V9, but the point is you can’t trust anyone, or any problem.

Fernando on Wild Basin. Sadly, no video of the send.

Then it was back to the Basin last weekend, and, shocker, I managed to pull off Free Basin (V11)! It was on that project list we posted a lil’ while back. Garfield still spat me off.

This is a common story now, pulling climbs out of our butts that we didn’t think we could pull. Our first trip to Upper Chaos, my favorite area, was a shut-down fest of sucktastic proportions. I tried Right El Jorge, and couldn’t do the second move. Left El Jorge seemed leagues away. Far Left El Jorge looked plain dumbsauce. Then, a month later, I cranked Right first go, and a month later I did all the moves to Left. I’m pretty confident I’ll be able to pull it off next trip, ‘specially now that it’s cold up there. Far Left now is quite enjoyable, and I plan to do it in a frenzy of Jorge sending.

Triple left hand bumps are required for ascending the Left El Jorge challenge.

For her part, Vikki was a little Russian dumpling full of BBQ and creamed meat and covered in weaksauce when we arrived. She was hiketarded, and was still bouldering in Mythos. After about 6 weeks, she cranked Upperbot for her first V5, and she nailed another at Emerald Lake two weeks ago. In some twisted manner, she managed to get up her first V6 shortly after we got here, weeks before doing a V5. See the vid?

She’s getting stronger, fitter, and much better at climbing than even she realizes. If I had to pinpoint her biggest weakness, it’s confidence in her ability to do moves. Once she believes, she’ll be doing some really hard things.

More importantly, she’s finally making headway dealing with her chronic injuries (more on this in Vikki’s next post). She has shoulder blades that look like vestigial angel wings, and has been instructed not to do pushups or pullups until her body can figure out which muscles to use. This is promising, because her technique has actually improved quite a bit, and she just needs to start some serious strength training and she’ll be like, I dunno, Sharma’s sister. Or something.

We’ve also made some awesome friends and climbing partners. You know who you are. (Also I don’t think they read the blog, so no point mentioning them by name anyway) But it’s cool to know that we have many people to visit and places to stay next time we roll through town.

But there’s still much to do. Free Basin and Upperbot may be off the list, but many projects remain. There are still some preparations to be made for leaving, like figuring out where we’re going. The idea now is to meander our way to Joe’s Valley, possibly by way of Independence Pass/Rifle, or by way of Wyoming’s awesome limestone sport climbing. Will advise.

And finally: we are nearly done with our newest video. Whoa…

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