Sweet Gear Review: The Reverso3, The OZ and C3’s

26 02 2009

Wow, its new and shiny, it must be amazing! I am a consumer, I must have it!!


I try to keep thoughts like these at bay when I read through online reviews or the bi-annual OR gear show reports. Unfortunately I can’t help lusting after the latest and greatest in the outdoor industry. In my free time I read a lot of news and often hear about a product way before it comes to market. I remember 2+ years ago seeing an article about a capillary based fuel delivery system. This product, which sounded beyond cool, became the MSR Reactor. A similar story comes to mind about an ultra narrow camming device that would have longitudinal springs, a first in the industry. This information came from a BD rep and it was just a matter of time before the C3’s came to market. Lizzy was a bit skeptical about the super stiff triggers and I was thrown off by the $70 price tag. Could they really be that good? I could find TCU’s on sale for half the price. A year or so passed and I finally bought the three smallest sizes.


C3’s, made by Black Diamond, are a well polished three lobe camming unit. They have a plastic body that protects the springs and allows for each lobe to move independently. The smallest sizes, Grey 000, Purple, 00 and Green 0 fit in unique places and fill out the low end of our rack. The 0 is about the same size as a blue Alien / 0 TCU. I recently placed this piece on the crux pitch of cloud tower and it was bomber. The lobes sat nicely in the crack and the strong springs held it securely in place. Climbing the Vampire a month or so ago I had a stunning placement of the 00. It fit in a tiny crack and despite the small lobes it inspired confidence a rare thing for me when making such small placements.


Since buying these cams back in August they have been my preference for the smaller sizes. I did not buy the finger size ones since they did not seem to provide as much of an advantage. We have finger size aliens and TCU’s that work very well in that range. Also when I used a Yellow #2 C3 in Indian creek it seemed to walk more than the smaller sizes C3’s or a same size Alien.


When the Reverso3 was released this year Lizzy and I were anxious to get our hands on one. The older style reverse wears dangerously (after a few years of use) and the new design was lighter and came in sweet colors. I feel that having an autoblocking belay device is pretty essential for mult-pitching. My Reverso3 got put through the paces with 17 pitches in the first two days of use. I learned quickly that the device was a bit picky with diameter. Trying to use the autoblock with a fuzzy 10.5 rope proved difficult. Lead belaying on the other hand work perfectly regardless of the diameter. So it should be noted that you want to have a sub 10mm rope if you expect to use the autoblock mode with ease.

The Reverso3 really proved its worth when we were rapping cloud tower. The new friction slots allow for the Reverso3 to really grab thinner ropes. We were rapping with our lead line, a 9.5 mm Ion and the beal 8mm trail line and had no problem controlling our speed. The Reverso did a great job on the 8mm and we saw very little slippage a nice change for me from the previous generation. I was even able to do a single strand rap on the 8mm rope without having to redirect the rope to add friction. Also of note the Reverso still rappels well on larger diameter ropes.


The last new toy that has become part of the rack is the Black Diamond OZ. This biner weights 28g or one ounce. It is the same basic shape as the Neutrino but with less metal. As a result the OZ is not as strong at 20Kn versus 24Kn for the Neutrino.  The biner handles well and is noticeably lighter than the Neutrino. Our primary use for the OZ is a racking biner for our cams. They sit well and are ok to clip. This past weekend I doubled them up for use as alpine draws and they helped shave a considerable amout of weight. They are not the lightest on the market, bested by the Camp Nano at 23g, the Mammut Moses at 26g and the Dmm Phantom at 27g, but are still well below the average 40g biner. Overall I enjoy using these biners and time will tell in regards to their durability.





Montana de Oro: Trail Running 101

25 02 2009

Am I a runner? Could I ever be a runner?  What makes you a runner?

I took part in high school cross country and stayed fit playing ultimate frisbee in college but never thought to run just for the sake of running. Running fast or running far takes a lot of effort and putting in that time would detract from my climbing.  In college many of my friends were runners and I often ran because  I saw the health benefits of staying light. During a very focused study abroad in Australia I would often go for 8k to 15K runs around the city before class. These six months in 2005 were most likely my highpoint as far as frequency and duration. In my final years at college I ran at most four times a month and stopped completely after I graduated in 2007.


In September of 2008 I decided that I needed to step up my fitness and start running again. I had stayed fit by climbing and biking to work but knew that I would benefit from more frequent cardiovascular exercise. At first it was just a casual 5k,  my favorite distance,  every week or so. Then, with some gained fitness,  I started doing slower longer runs with some of my co-workers.  I had not run more than five or six miles since Australia and it was a new challenge as we went for eight to ten mile runs. The more I ran the more I wanted to put my effort towards accomplishing a goal. Many of my friends have run a marathon, some more than once, so why couldn’t I?


I started upping my mileage in the thought of doing a half-marathon, a good first step towards doing a marathon in 2010. After doing a couple of ten mile runs I was confident that I could go the distance, 13.1 miles.  My friend Julie, from Bucknell, helped me find a race organized by Pacific Coast Trail Runs that would meet my distance requirement with the added benefit of beautiful scenery. While in my mind running is usually just a means to an end, I was excited to travel to a new part of the California coast and for a chance to push myself. In the month or so before the race I slowly upped my weekly mileage and enjoyed cruising the trails and streets around where I live in San Diego.  The week before the race I rested, tapering to allow my body to recover, and worked out what I would eat and drink during the race.


Logistically I ran my 25k on two GU’s, a Clif Shot, and ~20 oz of water. I had practiced carrying a water bottle and my support crew, Julie, Josh and Lizzy, gave my bottle at the half way point in the race. Julie and Lizzy had already finished the 8k and were waiting with Josh for my resupply. I was able to meet up with them because the 25k was separated into two loops, Valencia and Hazard Peaks with an aid station in the middle at the Start/Finish point. A short version of the first loop, called Valencia Bluffs, was used by those in the 8k, which bypassed the steep run to the Valencia peak. The second loop  was of equal elevation gain ~1600 feet but over a much more moderate grade. The running was scenic and I had a good time despite running out of energy in the last couple of miles. I am sure if i had done base work over 10 miles I would have had more energy. By the end of the race I drank all of my water and wished that I had stopped for a bit more food.


Elevation Profile Courtesy of PC Trail Runs

I had a blast and am interested in running some races in the future of similar distances 18k – 30k. If I run a race with a similar elevation profile (3200 feet over 25k) I will have to do more hill training. Not only was I slow running up the hills but my core was unable to sustain as fast of a pace down the hill as I would have liked. I had to hold back on the extended downhills due to unexpected fatigued.  We will see if I have the time and energy in the future to devote to training for another long race. Hopefully I can keep up with my weekly running routine and start upping my mileage again.



Photos thanks to Julie and Josh!

Great Blogs.

17 02 2009

We have been getting some love from climbing bloggers recently so its time that I finished off this post. Though I subscribe to over 300 different blogs I thought I would highlight some of the ones I really enjoy reading  in no particular order. This is just a small selection of a large community of sweet climbing bloggers. Additionally I am finding new sites all the time. Hopefully I will put out a blog links update sometime in the next few months.


Jamie Emerson’s site is full of eye candy with constant video and photo updates. He also has good insight into the front range climbing scene.


Andy Mann produces great images and its nice to get an almost weekly photo dose. He has been jumping around between websites so it can be hard to track down his latest url.


It seems now a days that those who read about climbing on the internet read the Narc. If something big has happened this guy knows about it.  A must have on any climber’s feed reader.


A bunch of strong Bishop locals post up pretty pictures of the bouldering on the East side of the Sierras. Always good for motivation and funny stories.


Peter Beal has been climbing for a while and has the experience to back up opinions that he is not afraid to express. Its nice to have a older voice in the fairly young crowd of climbing bloggers.


Justin Jaeger or “Sock Hands” is always motivated for bouldering, especially V7. Frequent updates of all kinds keep me coming back to this blog.


These guys who boulder in Kentucky never cease to make me laugh. Philosophy and hilarity are key for this entertaining blog. I wish they would post more photos of their escapades while bouldering around the Red River Gorge.


Tom Markiewicz runs allclimbing and has started other sites such as ThinkClimbing.com and ClimbingVibe.com. He does a great job of bringing his technology experience to climbing bloggers.


Sara, from the Kitsap Peninsula near Seattle, is passionate about climbing and blogging.  Her blogs are fun to read and her upbeat attitude is easy to enjoy.


Kate and Mark Calder are from Colorado and have adventures around the various front range climbing areas. I enjoy the amazing photos and trip reports from these bloggers.


I first read some of James’ stories on supertopo and was excited to find his blog. I enjoy his writing style and look forward to reading about his various adventures.


I found out about this group of strong boulders while going to school at Bucknell. The various members of this blog are responsible for a large number of the hard lines in Pennsylvania.  The blog reminds me of past days climbing on the amazing Triassic Diabase of PA.


Chris Hampton, or Odub, is a climbing rapper. His rhymes are hilarious and he has the confidence to spray about anything. I recently listened to his best of album and enjoy his tales of the southeast.


Kelly Sheridan, author of Central Washington Bouldering, is a Seattlite who is stoked on bouldering. You will often find him with a video camera sending or documenting a sweet granite line.


Michael and BJ are from Colorado and enjoy the adventurous side of climbing, true choss-a-holics. From multi-pitch first ascents to local ice climbing they do it all.



Hayden is all about climbing and has done a bunch of bouldering FA’s around Colorado. Recently he has been roped climbing and I have enjoyed his photos from various travles around Utah and Colorado.


Wills Young hosts a blog about whats happening in Bishop. This blog is seasonal, since summers are too hot for climbing, but is usually first to press with hard sends and new FAs.


P&C is a group of funny climbers living in the Boulder Area who work hard and party harder. With a crew of bloggers they have weekely updates, Whiskey Wednesdays, crag profiles and entertaining interviews.



The blogging world is a big place but there seem to be bubbles created by friends and acquaintances. The following blogs are from or started in the bay area and tell great stories about climbing in Yosemite, Bishop and many other local NorCal crags.  Each blog tells a story and I enjoy reading each episode. From bouldering in Yosemite to the bolt clipping at the Jailhouse and the  Gold wall.








These are some of the better “Pro” blogs I read. These guys and girls crank and give us a bit of insight into their lives. It’s interesting to see what it takes to climb 5.14 and send V12+.









We Survived!

16 02 2009

Julie, Josh, Luke, and I all survived the Montana de Oro trail race on Sunday!

Julie and I both ran the 8k, which had about 800 feet of elevation gain (that means big hills, not little ones…). Julie was awesome and won the 8k and I finished 21st out of 70, which I guess is not bad considering I’ve only been able to run again for about 2 weeks and didn’t train on any hills. Zero.

Luke ran the 25k and finished 7th out of 77 runners, so really awesome for (1) his first trail race (not counting XC in high school) and (2) his first race for this long of a distance. Luke not only went to the top of Valencia Peak (with the 12k runners), but also to the top of Hazard Peak (course for 25k and 50k) for about 3200-ft of total elevation gain.

And Josh was our awesome support crew. He got me my jacket after my race and gave Luke his waterbottle at his halfway point.

We had been really worried about getting poured on by this next storm (which is currently dumping rain outside my window in Pasadena), but ended up with a nice, though windy day and not a drop of rain. The full results are available here and divided by age/gender group here. You can also check out the course map and the elevation profiles of the different distances.

The whole race had a really fun and laid-back atmosphere. Although there were obviously some very good and competitive runners, there were also plenty of people out there just to enjoy the trails and scenery (including a 4-yr old girl who ran the 8k and a 10-yr boy old who passed me on the hill and was running the 12k – I was not that awesome when I was 4… or 10…). This was really nice because I tend to get really nervous and stressed out when it comes to competitions, especially when I don’t feel well prepared. I definitely suffered on the hills (but I think the vast majority of other people did too) and was grinning the whole time I was sprinting down the long downhill, leaping down 3-ft steps, jumping over rocks, passing people who are not so comfortable on rough trails, and feeling happy that I am still 20 years old (at least for another month) and have knees and ankles that still function (except when I play ultimate frisbee). And it made me want to run more so I can suck less. But maybe not today, since it’s raining.

Luke will probably have something to write about his experience, too.

Happy President’s Day


Get Psyched for ABS Nationals

13 02 2009

Once again, my awesome little sister Maddy is headed to ABS Nationals in Boulder this weekend, along with a bunch of other strong climbers. Unlike last year, Luke and I aren’t going this year. Instead, we’re running a trail race (most like in the rain) at the apparently beautiful Montana de Oro State Park. Also, my chest is only just healing and I would be totally not excited to get sick (like I did after volunteering at Nationals last year) again and start coughing again. So get stoked for the falls, the sends, the upsets, the victories, and all the news that will hit the blogs on Monday.

Maddy climbing at the Circuit (I think)


Lizzy’s Birthday Challenge

10 02 2009

So, Luke and I are planning to head to Indian Creek for the 2nd week of March (yay!). And my 21st birthday is coming up soon – March 16th – just a day or two after we will return from IC. I’ve been thinking about doing a Birthday Challenge for a while and this last weekend we came up with a great idea. I was not super stoked about climbing 21 routes in a day at any of our local climbing areas. Let’s face it, there aren’t really 21 routes that I would want to do with reasonable proximity to each other at most of these areas.indian-creek-march-08-062

Working on Digital Readout (5.12)

Instead, I’ll be doing my birthday challenge at Indian Creek! The idea will be to climb 21 routes in a day, probably on our last day. While I hope to lead some of the routes, I will also be following some.


Trying not to get pumped on Scarface (5.11-)

But I need your help! Any suggestions of areas to go that will not be too crowded (we won’t be able to afford to wait to climb a pitch) and have plenty of not-too-hard routes (mostly 5.10-5.11) would be great. Cliffs in the sun would be a bonus, too.


Getting up there on Swedin-Ringle (5.12-)

Also, we could probably use a couple of climbing buddies on the day to help lead routes for me to follow or just cheer me on. So if you’ll be in IC around March 14th and are interested in helping me out, let me know!


Bishop, Bishop, Bishop!

10 02 2009

So far 2009 has been a bit ripe with injury. First Lizzy pulled a muscle in her chest and then about a month ago at the gym I heard the dreaded POP in my left pinky. I took some time off, got a new pair of running shoes and kicked into running mode.  Two weeks later my new shoes were causing me foot pain but luckily I was able to return them and ended up with a fancy pair of Adidas.

Running has been going well and Lizzy and I will be competing in the Montana de Oro trail race this weekend. The timing of this race is good since when we went to Bishop two weeks back I made my finger problem first. On the third day I started off with a quick send of The Clapper V5/6 without tape on my left pinky. I felt no pain and had simply forgot to splint the finger to prevent movement. So far all was going well!

Inspired by some comments by the Narc about traverses at the Happies, Lizzy and I went over to check out Sabers of Paradise. There are three tricky traverses on the west rim, Hand to Hand Combat V7, Sabers of Paradise V7+ and Less Poetry Please V8. Previously I had done Hand to Hand going Left to Right which is a bit easier than the reverse and was excited to work on the other two.

Sabers of Paradise starts with a sweet roof with heel toe cams and progresses through thin pockets to a bunch of jug hauling to a final tricky crux. After working through the start I wanted to try the first crux, a powerful three or four move sequence. With a good right hand pocket and way undercut feet you reach left to a shallow pocket, move your feet, bump to a deeper two finger pocket and then cross right hand over to a deep pocket. When I attempted the cross I got a jolt of pain in my hand when I failed to stick the move.

I immediately rested and was worried that I had blown another tendon pulley. I felt all the parts of ring and middle finger but could not find any specific pain. I relaxed for a while and then X taped my fingers. I didn’t want to try the crux again but thought it could be beneficial to work the juggy section. After a while I figured out the moves and we left so Lizzy could climb elsewhere.

Less Poetry Please links up a V6 pocket traverse into the tricky Wills Arete V5. After figuring out the sequences for the initial traverse I spent some time playing around on the Arete without much luck. The crux is a blind throw to a fairly good hold followed by a highball topout. I was getting the setup correctly but couldn’t quite make the reach. Hopefully when I return I can climb both of the sections and work on the link.

Lizzy sent a few hard problems as noted in her blog and Julie had fun exploring the table lands. The weekend was a blast and the first two days at the Buttermilks were quite good. My inability to crimp hard with my left hand was a handicap but I still managed to do the right exit variation of Go Granny Go.  For a photo check out the Julie’s blog for a great Trip Report. Despite only sending two problems I had a great time exploring Bishop and supporting Lizzy. As always I enjoyed taking photos and we got to experiment with the bounce cards my mom got me for Xmas. I returned to San Diego with more pain in my left hand so I have been taking it easy. I will try to stay motivated and finish off a few blogs I have been working on for a while.

Enjoy the Photos,



Lizzy warms up at the Roadside Boulders.


Josh takes advantage of the morning shade to work on the Mandala.


Lizzy enjoying the super techy Pope’s Prow


Julie starts off the Pope’s Prow. (We all had to stack pads to get off the ground)


Luke tries to hold on to the south arete of the Green Wall boulder.


Julie works her way up the Sunshine Boulder.


Lizzy contemplates the first crux on the spicy Good Morning Sunshine


Luke makes due with the tiny crimps of Junior’s Achievement


Lizzy figuring out how to Buttermilk Stem


Luke tries his hand at 7 Spanish Angels AKA the Rukus


Luke is way excited to be in the shade!


Luke feels out the top moves of Get Carter


Dan Kovner crushes Get Carter


Lizzy is happy with the edging prowess of her new Muria VS’s after a send of Bad Parrot


Lizzy contemplates the starting crux of Sad Parrot


Lizzy works her way up the tricky left problem on the Pig Pen slab.


Luke makes quick work of The Clapper


Luke works through some brilliant moves on Sabers of Paradise


Luke sets up for the final crux on Sabers of Paradise


Luke tries to keep the tension and make the reach.


Lizzy takes a casual lap on the classic highball, Heavenly Path