Reel Rock Tour Update and MomentumVM goes free.

4 09 2008

A bit of fun news in the climbing media world. MomentumVM has just gone free so check it out and sign up for access to all the videos.  

A few weeks ago the Sharp End Trailer was posted online on the Reel Rock Tour site. You can check it out on the films page.  Also on the films page you can see all of the entries for the Reel Rock Tour Contest. With the voting closed it will be interesting to see which amature films are chosen for the tour.  A trailer of all the main Reel Rock films can be found on the Big Up site. Via Andy Mann

Spencer Victory’s short film, “Rediness is All”, that was submitted to the tour, should not be missed. Spencer has made a few movies featuring climbing at the Red River Gorge such as “Red River Ruckus”. The video below of his features No Redemption, 13b, at the Bob Marley crag. What a beautiful line! 




Climbing Community and the Roots of Motivation

1 02 2008

What is it about climbing that is just so inviting? What part of this crazy lifestyle drives us to keep on training? Why do we want to be outside pulling on rocks?

One of the things that I really love about climbing is the community. People all over the world take part in rock climbing. While there are many different crag, types of rock and styles of climbing we all share a certain drive.

Within the climbing community I especially enjoy the common topic of climbing routes and problems. It is very fun to share tales of a route with other people who have also done the same climb Climbing offers such crazy and different experiences but we can some how manage to relate to each other. People are many different heights and have a variety of climbing strengths yet overcome the same climbing challenges. A given problem may be sent with many different sequences inspirited by the past experience of the climber but each climber must eventually reach the summit.

Traveling different places and climbing the classic routes motivates me to climb harder and learn better technique. I don’t want to be specialist, on one rock type or in a single area, I want to be able to relate to lots of different types of climbers and climb a variety of routes. I want to see climbing areas and think of the problems that I have done there. A great part of climbing for me is reliving the memories of climbs and thinking of all the beautiful places climbing has brought me.

A recent post by Jamie Emerson about Horse Pens 40 inspired this nostalgia. I really enjoy climbing at HP40 and it got me thinking about all of the great problems there. I made various trips to HP40 while I was in college. It was worth the 10 hour drive and I sent my first V5, V6 and V7 on the wonderful southern sandstone. It was the first real outdoor bouldering destination that I had ever been to. Until college I had been a route climber, far to week to do any real outdoor bouldering.

College also led me to the Red River Gorge where I quickly fell in love with overhanging sport climbing. The strength gained from bouldering at our gym in college led to my first 11’s and 12’s at the Red. My junior year I took a semester and traveled to Australia to study Computer Science and work on my trad climbing. There I redpointed my first 22 trad route (11b) and struggled with ethics when pinkpointing two other 11b routes. My desire to push my physical limits hit up against the idea of getting hurt by being too bold. My fear was that a fall on improperly placed gear would result in a ground fall. My only solution to leading these hard, yet beautiful, routes was to pre-protect them so that they could be lead more safely.

My trip down under also included some sport climbing with my first flash of a 23/24 (11c) and on a trip to New Zealand my first 24 redpoint (11d). These routes stick in my mind and I can still remember some of the holds and moves from these routes three years later. Motivation and belief as well as fitness led to my success on these routes. I was pushing my limits and keeping my mind open.

As always I have been thinking about how to climb at my limit and this article about Kevin Jorgeson is pretty interesting. While in Hueco he did the first ascent of a V8 and a V10 highball. Besides just being tall these problems both had bad landings where falling was pretty much out of the question. The Duel, V10, was climbed headpoint style so that Kevin could suss out the high crux without bad fall potential. This style of climbing allows for an exchange of ground-up ethics for safety. On his send he climbed very calmly and really crushed the problem. It seemed that he was in full control even though he was climbing a hard problem. This type of control in hard climbing is what I would like to find.

With rain and no really climbing last weekend I am really psyched for this weekend! If the weather holds we will be doing a bit of muilt-pitch sport on Saturday and some crack training at Mt Woodson on Sunday.


– Luke

Projects and Goals

7 12 2007

I dream about rock climbing all the time, the routes I want to do, the places I have been and the people I have climbed with. Climbing is so much more than an extreme sport or a test of physical prowess it really is a lifestyle. My climbing lifestyle is motivated by the places I read about and the routes that I want to go out and climb. I train, go to the gym and work on getting stronger so that I can climb all of these projects. To be able to travel the world and sample the best routes at a given area is my ultimate goal.

There are just so many places to climb in the world and so many stunning routes. From simple boulder problems at Bishop to the tall granite walls of Yosemite. Because I want to be able to climb them all the majority of my goals revolve around being a well rounded climber. My list of projects varies in both style of climbing and global location. While there is a clear focus on long hard traditional routes I also enjoy single pitch sport climbing and bouldering.

Motivation is very important for training and a key element in a day to day climbing routine. It can be hard to keep doing those sit ups every week or those hang board sessions when you don’t have some goal to shoot for. I find that medium term goals are very important so that I can stay excited about climbing. Even though a medium term goal may not be your dream route it will keep you positive about climbing. Going all out when training can be problematic since you have to make sure to pay attention to your body and avoid injury. If a climber sets there short or medium term goals too high it can be hard when you can not meet your expectations. It is much better to be honest and set a moderate goal before worrying about finding a really difficult project for a long term goal.

When attempting a new project it can be necessary to gain new skills and fitness in order to succeed. To determine where you need to focus your training energy it can help to break the climb down and compare it to your strengths and weaknesses. One of my project routes is Romantic Warrior 12b. This is an eight pitch route on the Southwest face of the Warlock in the Needles. It includes four hard pitches one 11d, two 12a and one 12b. While I might aspire to onsight this route it will most likely take me multiple visits so I will get a feeling of the climb before I send it. In order to train for this climb I know that I need to elevate my endurance so I can handle leading so many hard trad pitches. As well the 12b and 11d pitches involve tricky stemming and RP’s. This has motivated me to find other routes with similar characteristics of lower grades to provide a ramp up. These medium term routes will help me gauge my fitness and let me know when I am ready to go try to climb Romantic Warrior.

This fall Lizzy and I traveled out to the Red River Gorge for the Petzl Roc Trip. This was a very motivational trip for the both of us and we spent a lot of time doing specific training in preparation. Instead of doing a jumble of bouldering, trad climbing and sport climbing we focused on clipping bolts and training endurance. With all of the work we put in we were really excited for the trip and both climbed very well and pushed our limits. The trip was an excellent motivator and gave us a time line to train and get into the proper shape for hard sport climbing.

Projects and Goals are really important as we come into winter. This weekend looks like all rain and last weekend was a bust as well. The temps are dropping and climbing must be done inside to maintain fitness. Many people don’t enjoy the gym but if you can find a way to make it fun it will greatly help you ability get back on projects in the spring. Training hard all winter has helped many climbers push the grades much harder than if they had just stayed home.

If you have a big list of routes to do it can put a lot of pressure on you since there is so much to do. It is important to remember that there is a lot of time and that you do the best at climbs that you train for. At the Red I excelled on crimpers since that had been what I was training on. When I did a slopey route I had a lot of trouble since I had not been climbing on slopely holds. So take one goal at a time and maximize your skill level for the climb you are focusing on. Pressure while climbing will only distract you and keep you from pushing to the limit. Remember Climbing is FUN!!

Here is a list of climbs that I want to do in my lifetime. I would like to do most them in the next five years or so but its tricky to know where I will be. This list comes from reading climbing magazines, chatting to other climbers and reading guidebooks. Many climbs are area classics or are very aesthetically pleasing. Desire for many climbs has stemmed from a really nice photo of the climb. Enjoy!

– Luke

Grand Wall

The Needles:
Romantic Warrior

Steck – Salathe
The Rostrum

NW face of Half Dome
Nose in a day
Free Rider

Toulumne Meadows:
Bachar – Yerian
Lucky Streaks

Red Rocks:
Cloud Tower
Original Route, Rainbow Wall

The Gift

Smith Rocks:
Astro Monkey
Chain Reaction
Heinous Cling

Joshua Tree:

Indian Creek:
Ruby’s Café
Way Rambo

Red River Gorge:
No Redemption
Table of Colors Direct


Birdman from Alcatraz
Mr. Joshua
The Totem Pole

Red River Gorge Reflection

22 10 2007

This past week, after returning from the RRG, has been super busy without the normal regiment of climbing. Since we got back late Monday I had some hours to make up at work and some sleep to regain. The four days of climbing and travel took a lot out of me so I decided to take some days off from the gym to recover. I didn’t get back to the gym until Thursday and my finger was still nagging me from the trip.

For the last few weeks one of my old tendon injuries has been acting up. It doesn’t really hurt when I climb but afterwards the flesh below my knuckle is quite tender to the touch. This weekend became a rest weekend and I had some additional time to recover. I hope to write a blog later this week about injures referencing some of Lynn Hill’s recent blogs.

The lack of climbing and the recent RRG trip have given me food for thought about “hard” climbing. During our stay at Miguel’s I saw more talented climbers than I have ever seen before. It was almost like Dosage 5 or something. I have been to some bigger comps and have seen many of the stronger boulders before but this was something new and inspirational. After seeing all the climbers and reading about their many ascents at the Red I began to wonder about my personal climbing.

The beauty of having all of these talented climbs was that they were sending routes that I was familiar with. Climbs I had stood below in awe of the beauty and difficulty of the line. Not climbs I had sent or even tried but climbs that I dream about getting on. These were climbs not far away on the gorgeous cliffs of Ceuse but here in the USA in the RED!

This trip really taught me a lot about motivation, hesitation and mind set. Of the nine hard routes that I attempted I was able to send five of them. Compared to past trips to the Red I was thrilled with my level of fitness and the climbs I did. More important though were the climbs that I “failed” to lead cleanly. Even the attempts on the climbs I did send taught me a lot about what I need to be working on.

The biggest thing I learned from trying all of these hard routes was the effect of hesitation on the outcome of the climb. In simpler terms when I failed to commit to a move or sequence on a climb I would waste time. There were times when I could have done a move had I tried it first go but I was un-willing to commit. These decisions made me doubt my self and prevented me from giving the 100% needed for the climb.

While my fitness has been improving I think that figuring out how to commit and how to suppress negative thoughts will be a bigger contribution to my climbing. Climbing more routes, as opposed to boulder problems, has really shown me this weakness in my climbing.I think working on this will help me be in better touch with my self and allow me to climb harder.

Petzl Roc Trip Recap

17 10 2007

This past weekend Lizzy and I journeyed east to meet up with friends and enjoy the rock at the Red River Gorge. Friends from all over converged by plane and car to meet up relax and enjoy the wondrous sandstone. Good people along with an amazing film and the most stacked campground scene rounded out this fun trip.

A Wednesday night red eye from California got us into Tennessee the next morning. A 3.5 hour drive awaited us but that was the price for cheap tickets. With perfect temps we spent the afternoon at Roadside crag sampling the RRG classics before the crowds showed up.

Friday our crew had doubled and we spent the day between Left Flank and Military Wall. Climbing at the gorgeous table of colors wall was the highlight of the trip for me. Amazing colors and unique holds coupled with steep athletic climbing. Near by was the balancy test piece Hen-ry which played to Lizzy’s strengths. I got to climb Mercy the Huff which had excellent moves on sweet holds separated by fairly decent rests. No knee bars or ledges but good holds.

Saturday we saw maximum capacity with seven people by the end of the day. We had a perfect weather day at Drive-By crag which hosts some of the most fun climbing ever. It seemed each route had just as interesting holds as the last. I took my longest fall to date on a flash attempt on Primus Noctum. I cruised the route to the last bolt and rest spot but I had no beta for the crux which led to the anchor. With many grunts and desperation I slapped my way up getting one hold from the end; I missed the crucial knob and plummeted twenty or more feet through the air. On the way down I screamed with desperation but after flying through a tree and knocking loose some leaves I knew it was all right. Still falling I let out a yipp of pleasure and was gently caught by my belayer.

Sunday was our slow day as pizza and beer from the night before delayed our morning departure. We fought the crowds in Muir valley and climbed on some new routes. These routes, only having been established in the last few years, were still dirty and needed more traffic. I got a chance to lead a very atypical RRG line that I managed to redpoint on my second go. This line, so new it wasn’t in the guide book, was full of slopers and balancy moves. The end, with pumped forearms, required sequential crimping that thwarted my flash attempt. It was amazing how many lines are still left to be bolted and how much rock is still unclimbed. I was lucky enough to meet the equipper of this route and brave enough to climb it.

The trip was quite the success and full of fun memories. My mind is still buzzing with crux sequences and foot placements. I can still see the holds on Jersey Connection and Tic-Tac-Toe, feel the sharp jugs from Mercy the Huff and taste the scream from Primus Noctum. I love the Red and will always be excited to go back, no matter how far way it may be.