Summer Sends – News From All Over!

22 09 2008

Lizzy and I had a lazy weekend in Pasadena. With not too much to report on the personal front I can only provide links to the top notch sending spree that has been going on the last couple months.

Sport Climbing, according to some, has a new hardest route! Chris Sharma sent the Clark Mountain Project and dubbed it Jumbo Love. While usually hesitant with grades it seems that this new climb gets a number. At 250 feet long Jumbo Love is rated 5.15b. It will be interesting to see if any of the strong Euro’s such as Adam Ondra or Patxi Usobiaga will come and try it.  After making progress last year it seems likely that Ethan Pringle will go back and work the route again if the weather works out.  Sharma, obviously in top form, also made a 2nd try one day ascent of Joe Kinder’s Golden Direct. While Kinder speculated that the route may be 9a (14d) it will take a few more repeats to be sure.

Rifle has seen a bunch of summer action. There was a big party for the Rifle Clean-Up with Pimpin and Crimping representing in addition to a large community turnout.  Adam Taylor and Jon Cardwell both  resent the Crew after a few holds broke. Joe Kinder dropped in and repeated the Crew and started work on the Bauhaus Project. Dave Graham came by and after some discussion with Andy Raether did the FA of Girl Talk, 14c. Kinder made the 2nd ascent and Daniel Woods, who seems to be climbing routes again, made the 3rd.

Ethan Pringle joined the crew in Rifle and after a full beta spray from Dave and Joe sent Girl Talk in 5 tries. His 8a scorecard has it listed as 8c and I’m sure it must have been easier knowing the beta for every move. Carlo Traversi, who has also been hitting the ropes, just did the 5th ascent of the now classic Girl Talk.  This send comes in fast progression after sending Simply Read, 8b (14a) , and Benign Intervention, 8c (14b), according to .

Dave, Daniel and Joe have also been spending some time at The Fortress in Colorado. Dave made the 4th ascent of Kryptonite and Joe and Daniel are close behind.  I believe Pringle will be joining them and some sending is sure to happen. I am curious about a bit more information on Flex Luthor, Tommy Caldwell’s 15a at the fortress. Kinder seems a bit unimpressed with the rock quality.  It is interesting that these routes are only seeing attention now five or more years after the FA.   (It seems, according to that Graham tried Kryptonite on a visit to the Fortress in 2000) 

Paul Robinson is off in Switzerland looking for new blocks, checking out hard climbs and talking about grades. Beyond the classic hard routes I am interested in what Paul thinks of Daniel Woods’ new problem, In Search of Time Lost. Check the video on MVM to see Daniel do some serious crimping.

Colorado Bouldering has also been hot this summer. Alex Johnson started it off with a quick send of Clear Blue Skies (V12).  Alex Puccio continued by crushing The Marble SDS (V11/12) and Angie Payne finished it off with a send of her 3 year project, European Human Being (V12). These sends complement the esablishment of two new hardlines in the park, Blood Money by Daniel Woods (V13) and Top Notch by Ty Landman (V12).

Here in California Issac Caldario established Chumscrubber, a possible V12, at Way Lake. This newer area is located near Mammoth Lakes, north of bishop. Due to cooler temps it has seen a bunch of action by the Bishop and  Bay Area crews. Once a bit more information comes out I would be excited to take a look. The rock seems a bit different than what is offered in Bishop and it could be a nice change of pace.

In the trad climbing world both Ethan Pringle and Matt Segal sent the Cobra Crack this summer for the 3rd and 4th ascents respectively. Matt had a bit of an epic with squamish weather that delayed his send until the last possible moment.

With the fall temps coming I wish everyone luck on their projects!! Once the J-Tree weather cools down a bit we will be working on Equinox. All of this sport climbing has given me hope that I will have enough endurance for this pumpy crack!




ABS Southwest Regionals

17 01 2008

This past weekend the citizens’ ABS southwest Regionals was hosted at Vertical Heaven in Ventura, CA. I really enjoying going to big comps because you get to see some big name climbers come and crush. It’s really motivational and it makes me think that I am part of the big community.

Chris Danielson was there to set routes along with Paul Dusatko. An interview with Chris can be found on the E-Grips site. Vertical Heaven is the home gym for Halo Holds and they had quite a few amazing features on their routes such as the B.A.H. This giant volcano hold, whose acronym likely means Bad Ass Hold, is perfect for roof climbing and heel toe cams and was featured on the Men’s #4 final problem.

Five Ten had a booth at the comp and I was able to try on a pair of the 5X which were first seen at the Summer OR Market. They fit well and had the new 5.10 heel cup which is matched perfectly with the zipper and Velcro closure. One of my friends got a pair of the new Jet7’s for the comp and really loved them. He said they have super sticky rubber and fit great. The only complaint was that they are sized quite differently and he had to go 1.5 sizes down from what he wears in the new Dragons. This weekend is the Winter OR Market in SLC and I will be interested to see if any new sweet gear is on the horizon.

There were a lot of top athletes at this comp including Lisa Rands and Alex Puccio. It was amazing to see Lisa climb and I had got to chat with her husband, Wills Young, who was really chill. Ethan Pringle showed up at the comp and climbed a few problems but didn’t really compete. He was there to sign posters since he was still recovering from a fall from the Mandala. In December he had been working the Sit Start and landed badly on his heel putting him in crutches.

Carlo Traversi was also at this comp hailing all the way from Colorado. It was pretty cool to see him climb after reading his blog. Recently he has been sending hard with the 2nd ascent of Thrice. His ascent of the climb likely sparked new interest in this Holloway test piece since it is now up to its 6th repeat after sends by Jamie Emerson, James Pearson, Daniel Woods and Dave Graham. Carlo won the ABS 9 regionals with a few flashes and a strong showing on Men’s #4 which stumped all other competitors. He was able to make it to the 2nd to last hold which was 2 holds further than any other climber. After the comp ended he got back on the climb and sent the problem!

Woods has also been busy with the 2nd ascent of Ty Landman’s Midnight Express. You can see a video of the FA here courtesy of the MoonClimbing. The video of Daniel’s ascent can be found on As well Daniel established Epochalypse which according to Chip Phillips from “links Reverse UCT (RUCT) -> Trice or 10+ moves of ~7C/7C+ traversing into 8A+”.

After sending Trice on January 10th Dave Graham went to work on Midnight Express. On his fifth day of effort he managed the third ascent in freezing conditions. So far snow and ice seem like routine conditions for those working on this boulder. These two sends put Dave back in the lead of the combined 8a global ranking. This spot, which he has held on and off for the last 6 years, was momentarily stolen by Ethan Pringle.



Vacation is over, back to work!

7 01 2008

Lizzy and I are now back at school and work respectively. We had a good time learning and exploring Arizona. Cochise Stronghold was quite the experience and has made me really think about traditional climbing ethics. In many ways it was a wake up call to how climbing used to be. It was a lot of fun and I will be posting a long trip report at some point this week.

Now that vacation is over it is time to get back in a routine and start training for the spring. I hope to keep better track of my climbing so I can figure out what works and what is a waste of time. One of my New Years’ resolutions was to start a training log. I think this will help me and give me a nice think to look back upon in the years to come.

On the horizon for next weekend is the ABS regional for the Southwest. Even though I was never serious enough to compete at the regional’s out east I became familiar with a good number of the comp climbers. It will be interesting to see all of the people that show up. The comp will be held at Vertical Heaven on January 12th. I don’t expect to do well since this winter has been quite light on training and comp climbing but I hope to take some photos and cheer on my friends. For sure it will be a good time and I have heard great things about the host gym.

Over the last year Lynn Hill has been writing quite a lot of blogs for Sadly her stay is over and she will now only be blogging for Patagonia. I really enjoyed all of her writing and the various subjects and I hope she keeps it up over at Cleanest Line. Writing is a powerful tool and it has been a great motivator to be able to read thoughts from such a talented climber, thanks to Lynn!

In other news US climbers have been tearing it up. As reported by Climbing Narc and many others Paul Robinson flashed Nagual, V13 and did the 2nd Ascent of Terremer V15. Additionally Dave Graham has been on a sending spree at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch (HCR). He repeated many hard climbs including Sharma’s King Lion V12/13 and has established four climbs V12 or harder.

Grades, Grades, Grades…

30 10 2007

As I have been attempting more “hard” routes recently I have been mulling over the concept of grades. Within a given number, whether 5.9 or 5.13, the variability of perceived difficulty can be quite vast. Rock type can vary between crags as can the grading ethics and the style of climbing. How can we relate a 5.9 on Yosemite granite to a 5.9 at the Red River Gorge?

At one point our grading system rated a climb based on its hardest move, but now we try to rate the overall effort required for a climb. Sustained 5.9 moves yield a rating of 5.10a at certain crags despite the lack of a 10a move. These ideas are not set in stone nor are they agreed upon throughout the world, yet people all over base so much on these simple numbers. Is this because we need an expectation for the route we are going to climb? Do we need compare climbs to each other and to our past climbs? What do we need from these grades?

I found this quote about Dave Graham’s feelings on grades quite interesting. It was originally posted here.

“Do we comprehend as a community a system of grading? As a community, are we confident in our current theories about the complex abstraction of high-end grades?

I think the media did a lot more consolidating of grades than we ever did as a community of climbers. For generations it has happened. Capitalism, money, “fame”,…these factors of our world are real, and they have a serious influence.

Grades will never be the most inspiring abstraction donated by climbing. They rank low in overall importance. From an artistic point of view, the possible inspiration one can attain from a grade (it being an after-the-fact interpretation of something special) can never compete with the inspiration donated by the actual experience of climbing.

I changed a lot of my ideas about grades throughout my experiences climbing. I learned a lot about how to compare personal experiences and deduce their relativity. I think its amazing, as a community, how everyone involved, can appreciate the attempt to articulate (with a little number) how challenging something felt, or how one experience compared to another.”
— Dave Graham, 2004 —

I completely agree that climbing is too complex to be expressed by “a little number”. As a community we should work together to push the limits of climbing and make sure not to be confined by grades.

This article really sheds some light on the John Gill B scale. It is cool to see that a younger climber, Klem Loskot, agrees with Gill and his explanation of how to grade difficult problems is insightful. It is especially important how he says that grades should really just be a personal reflection of the difficulty of a climb. Also that sometimes the best way to look at the difficulty of a problem can be its relation to other climbs you have done.

Personally I use grades as a measure of performance and a way to gauge progress. I target grade ranges when I travel to crags so that I will push my self climbing. In the past I have been too concerned with sending given grades at the sacrifice of other parts of climbing. I would climb 11as instead 10ds since they are the next number grade up and thus more important even thought both grades be quite similar in difficulty.

While I do think the grades do characterize different types of movement I can still be surprised by the effort required to do 5.9 versus 5.12. Just because a climb is graded harder doesn’t always mean it is more difficult. Difficulty is so abstract, especially in climbing, because there is a varied mix of mental and physical effort. A climb can seem more difficult if the moves are harder to unlock compared to a climb with simple pulling. Technique or the lack there of can make a huge difference especially when one climbs outside versus in the gym.

Overall I think that the most important thing is to keep climbing and trying different styles of routes. A person’s body can learn so much from a variety of challenges. After many years of climbing cruxes will make more sense and perhaps grades will seem less important. The key is to challenge yourself and have fun doing it.
– Luke

Circular Patterns and Onsight Climbing

2 10 2007

It’s always funny how we learn things. Some times we go out and search for answer and other times we stumble upon them.

Something like this can often happen in climbing. The crux beta may be given to us or perhaps it is obvious and it just works. Other times we must work through sequences to find the way that works for our own body.

Training will help give you more time and more possible sequences on the rock when trying to onsight a climb. Recently I have been falling off onsight attempts because I am too pumped and either unable to climb the required sequence or unable to figure it out in the time I have.

In the past month I have been out to Echo Cliffs, in the Santa Monica Mountains, twice. I have been trying to push my onsight limit and have been getting really tired on my onsight go. The next try however, after having hung the draws and found all the holds has gone quite well. I am able to milk the rest more on my second try and reach the anchors without the bulging forearms I encountered on the onsight go.

I think that since I am getting really tired on my onsights I either need to be committing faster or need to keep training endurance. On my first hard onsight attempt I committed to the wrong sequence of holds and found my self with nowhere to go. The second time I could not figure out the sequence and I couldn’t last on the holds I was on. It was particularly interesting because this sequence took me a while to figure out and then on my redpoint it worked so well. It still felt a bit awkward but the movement linked together perfectly.

I learned a bunch about commitment this weekend and that you need to keep pushing since you can do amazing things if you want them enough. I thought I was going to fall at the 1st crux on my onsight but I made it through even though I had to try two different sequences before it worked.

The start of this post was about learning and how we learn funny things at different times. I was reading this article about saber tooth tigers and it mentions “coup de grace“. This is the name of a Dave Graham route in Switzerland. I had wondered what it meant and I now had the opportunity to find out. Coup De Grace is the blow of death (or death blow) and seems suitable for a yet unrepeated 9a.

Dave seems to have lots of cool names for climbs that sound good even if you don’t know what the mean. A recent FA he did in Rodellar is called Los Borrachos Del Mascun which translates to The Drunkards of the Mascun. You can see a video of the FA on

That’s really all for now but ill be writing more about training later this week.

– Luke