Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wise men say, 'It looks like rain today.'

Hi, my name is Brian Clevenger, and I haven't sent a boulder problem for the past 17 days. 

My most recent ascents came at HP40 of all places.  I had vowed never to go back there after being devastatingly shut down in years past.  Still, I wanted to compete in Star Chasers for the Triple Crown and maybe get a little redemption.  The day started poorly when we missed our exit and arrived rather late for the comp.  Fortunately, we were able to register and try to recover the day from that point.  I think we all had a diffucult time getting our heads in the spirit of competing, because none of us ended up doing very well.  I was slow to start and lost some psych when I saw that none of the labels had star values on them..  I also lost some psych when I realized that V3 is still stupid hard at HP40.  So, obviously I thought I had a better chance at V11.  Tilley was feeling equally unmotivated and accompanied me over to God Module.  I tried it for quite a while that day.  Tilley left to try to do some more new problems, so I tried it by myself with my mini Organic pad, then I was going to leave but Rami and Doug showed up.  I tried it some more and still couldn't do it.  I think I was pretty close to doing the first move, and the rest of it didn't feel that bad, but I just couldn't put it together.  At least I wasn't jumping off of the ground for the start.  Anyway, I quit trying to climb hard and went back to chasing stars.  I did a lot of new climbs, including a sick V5 highball to finish the day.  I was nowhere near placing, but I guess it was a better HP40 experience than I expected.  Except for the part where it was over and I had to drive back to Boone so that I could work the next morning. 

snaked this pic from DPMClimbing.com
Superstar Bitches

Since then, it's been non-stop work, air force (I went to Chapel Hill to take the TBAS test and hopefully did well.  Still haven't gotten my scores back.  While I was there, I went out on the town with Purpur and some of the people that he climbs with.  It was a pretty crazy scene for sure.  Frat Stars, Sorostislewts, Skinny-jean Hipsters, and even Brodie Climbsters.  I saw a lot of interesting things that night.  The girls there are not like the girls in Boone.  It was about 28 degrees, and all of them were walking the streets in their lingerie, all of the bros were wearing their blazers and boat shoes, rounds of 3 dollar PBR bottles were being bought left and right, and somehow we (the climbers) were in the middle of it all.  The last place we went to had nothing to drink for under $4.50.  Thus ended the night.  Still, I had a really fun time and I'd like to go back.  I finally felt like I found a place where I fit in.  Nothin says "Home" like standin on the sidewalk, suckin on a girl's neck while she texts another dude.), rain, and sickness (and a couple days of feeling stupid close on the Concave Proj).  I'm finally starting to feel a little bit better, but it'll take some time to get back to full strength.  Fortunately, everything is wet.

Oh, also some shoutouts (even though everyone who reads my blog probably already knows):
Some peeps killed it last week:
Dalen Gray strengthened his pimp hand and sent Full Throttle
Rami Annab climbs solid V13 and sent Lord of the Dance
Bri Wills did her hardest traverse to date with Stems and Caps
Josh Shepherd doesn't need good climbing shoes to send Preferential Treatment

Friday, October 28, 2011

Chain so big, can't pop my collar

We went down to the Linville Gorge the other day and did a fair bit of climbing with Mike Stam.  This was one of my first times really getting to climb with him.  It's pretty amazing to see all of the work that he puts into developing new boulders down there.  He spent like 4 hours building a landing and cleaning holds for one problem, and then he flashed it.  It's crazy to think of putting that much effort into something that lasts for only a moment.  He called it Naive Melody (V4), but it was pretty hard.

Me on Naive Melody- Rachel Scheffe pic

He got video of the climb, so i'll link it in when/if he posts it.  I did a handful of climbs while i was down there, including Glassy Heel Hook (V4), Stranger Than Friction (V7), The Devil (V6), and a couple more that I don't know the name of.  There is a stupid amount of climbing that I want to do in the Gorge and i'm psyched to get back!! 

Also, i just got a new lens.  The Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8.  I took a few test shots recently and so far i really like it.  There is definitely distortion at 11mm, but the image is still mostly sharp.  Here's a few snapshots that i've taken so far:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Under the twilights, we livin the miller high life

A lot has gone down recently.  To start, it's Triple Crown season and my psych level is super high.  I've been doing the Star Chasers category and it has worked out quite nicely so far.
Hound Ears:
With bad weather in the weeks before the comp, i didn't get to do as much training as i would have liked.  My skin was soft and the only circuit training i had done was in the gym.  Even so, i was looking forward to the challenge of taking on both Tilley and Purp.  Comp day rolled around and it was super cold.  It was also snowy/raining.  As much as i didn't want them to postpone the event, it turned out for the best (mostly).  The only downside was that there was an 'afterparty' that didn't get postponed.  I may have had a bit too much fun, dropped my beer for no apparent reason (beer in a cup, so it really went everywhere (including all over my shirt/pants)), decided Cookout would be an excellent idea, and decided sleeping in my car would be an even better idea.  The upside to sleeping in my car was that I was already at the meeting spot for carpooling.  The downside was that i didn't actually sleep that much due to the frostbite that was surely setting in on my legs and feet.  So, feeling a little sick and quite tired (don't worry, i fixed the 'tired' problem with a couple Monsters (but that only added to the 'sick' problem)), we were off to the comp.  It turned out to be the best conditions Hound Ears has ever seen.  My goal for the day was to win and to do the three four-star problems in the field.  This includes The Crusher (V10), which I have been itching to do for years.  Oh, and also to have a killer good time and climb loads of boulders that i had never done before.  I started off by racking up a decent amount of stars, then went to try The Crusher.  I almost did it first go (closer than i'd ever been before) but it just got worse after that.  I blanked out on all my beta, wasted way too much energy/time, and didn't send.  It was a struggle to finish the day after that (pumping out on v4), but i managed to do a lot of good climbs before time was up.

Final Stars:
Me: 107
Tilley: 104 (how crazy close was that!!)
Purp: 83

Also, shout out to some other peeps who killed it that day:
Men Open:
1. Brad Weaver: 13,128
2. Nate Draughn: 12,508

Women Open:
1. Kasia Pietras: 7609
2. Isabelle Faus: 7183
3. Leanna Lockhart: 3539

Advanced Men:
3. Ben Newton: 6999

Intermediate Women:
1. Kat Marek: 3041

Big thanks to Jim Horton and Chad Wykle for doing another amazing job putting together Hound Ears and seriously hooking it up with the prize packages!

And.... On to the Stone Fort.  This year the comp fell on the weekend after Hound Ears.  Fortunately, it was just enough time for most people to recover (not Doug, his hands were... ). 

I drove out to Chatt with Chris Collins and Michael Harrington. Good ol Andrew Miller was nice enough to let us crash at his place.  We arrived a little late for pre-reg, but we chilled for a while and drank some free beer, watching some serious climbsters in action (tanktops, speed climbing and everything) at the Urban Rocks Gym.  Someone stole my Stone Fort shirt and koozie.  What really killed me was listening to everyone talk about the "Hound's Ear comp."  Next day, we got to Montlake way too early, hung out for a while, and eagerly awaited the 80 degree day to come.  Long story short:  The 'easy' climbs that get stars are all slabby and slopey (aka hard as shit), and all i had was a pair of blown solutions and no slab skills to speak of.  At Hound Ears, I fell a handfull of times all day.  At Stone Fort, V2 slabs were kicking me off left and right.  My feet were bleeding by the end of the day (they actually weren't, but they might as well have been).  I got dehydrated on 3 separate occasions and nearly decided to quit each time.  But, I did learn a lot about how to climb and i won some cool stuff anyway.  Some rando beat me at Star Chasing by 8 stars, but i still got second with 121, and i also did the Premium Blend Light Roast the fastest (nobody else did it, but i was still really fast dammit).  Shout out to all the people that killed it again (i'm too tired to list everyone tho).  They also premiered A Fine Line by Andrew Kornylak.  I thought it was badass.  Off to the afterparty (which i though meant free beer and fun).  I had spent all of my cash on water that day, so when i saw that they were charging 3 bucks per beer, i was a bit sad.  Fear not, we'll just hit up a gas station to buy more beer for cheap and have our own party, right?  And we'll just walk to the nearest one, right?  An hour and a half later we made it back with our beer.  And we didn't get stabbed or shot.  Things were really going our way now.  Did you know they have 32oz Miller High Life cans in Chattanooga? 

Yeah, i may move back there this season after all.  When the night was done, I was a little disappointed that I didn't get that ride to Atlanta that I was looking for, but I guess that's ok.  Waffle House for breakfast (awesome) and back to Boone (by way of Asheville....).  Good shit.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Drinkin every night because we drink to my accomplishments

Yeh, joking, of course.  Just a heads up, no pics in this post, so all you people who spend 20-30 seconds on this page for the 'eye candy', go ahead and bail.  The focus of this post is to observe [one of the] personal motivations for climbing.  While there are many reasons to devote our lives to the seemingly insignificant and largely misunderstood action of climbing a rock, some are far more inspiring and less selfish than others.  Those are the ones that tend to get more coverage (like Sharma stuff (being one with 'the nature')), as they portray the sport in a positive light, and provide a positive influence on new climbers.  While i respect all of that to the fullest (and try to live by a personal moral/ethical code that adheres to the highest of standards), let's be honest with ourselves for a minute or two.  People are selfish and have motives that we don't like to share with others (and not just in climbing).  Personally, one (among many (don't judge me)) of the reasons that i became very involved with climbing was to gain the approval of others.  i met a lot of people that i respected and admired and envied, and i decided that these were the people that i would like to be friends with.  i thought that being a good climber would translate to being able to gain the respect of those people.  While i did improve quickly for a while, it was ultimately an effort in futility.  i find that most of the people that i had aspired to be like (the people that i thought that i had formed solid friendships with), have disparate viewpoints.  i feel pretty disappointed when i don't recieve a call from a friend who is visiting town (or whatever; i guess i'd rather not provide copius examples from my personal life).  Anyways, i guess my point is that pushing yourself to gain the approval of others (sponsors, strong peeps, ladies, etc) may lead to rather evanescent and ultimately disappointing results.  Climbing can be the most therapeutic form of recreation, and the most torturous.  Find what works for you, and stick with it!!  Forreal.
*Also, to any gumby out there who may think that climbing is perceived as desireable by an attractive female (or any female, for that matter), just do yourself a solid and quit.  Devote yourself to something like basketball, baseball, football, weight lifting, fraternities, tanning, lots of money, puppies, tanktops, drinking way too much, and being a bit of a douche.  That seems to work wonders.  Cheers

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Gold Diggin

So, the weather is finally beginning to cooperate and the temps are becoming more pleasant.  A step in the right direction anyway.  I've finally started climbing outside again and so far this seems like it will be a pretty killer season.  I've been out to Grandmother a couple times with Zack "Slow Motion" Silberman and Leanna Lockhart to get on Sunday Service.  I have tried this problem in years past with very little success.  I was pretty stoked to find that the moves no longer feel like such a struggle.  And I can finally crimp with my left hand again!!  Either way, I've gone out there 3 or 4 times now with no success.  Zack was able to put it together pretty quickly and did it without sticking the dyno in isolation!  Pretty sick.  We were filming, but Zack's camera loves to run out of memory right before the send.  So, he did the problem second go next time we were out there for the vid.  That kid is sick strong and always fun to climb with.  Leanna and I also seem to be very close to doing this climb, and I'm syked to get back out there soon!!

Zack on The Dyno of Sunday Service (V11)
As much as I want to do Sunday, I think it's good to give it a break for a bit.  Today, I went out into the Backyard with Josh Shepherd and got on some sick climbs!  It has been a while since I've been back there, but I'm officially hooked again.  There is a killer project dubbed the Massive, and it is quite large.  The finish looks like it will be absolutely terrifying, as it is really high, and the landing drops off another 8 feet.  Either way, Josh and I worked this thing for a while and found some sick beta (2 different methods) and we made good progress for the day.  Some of the holds still have some flaking to do before they can be deemed solid, but that just adds to the experience.  Here is a pic of one of Josh's early attempts:

The pic doesn't do it justice.  It's pretty tall.

The feature is reminiscent of Roof of Death, but this is much bigger and more difficult.  It is tough to say at this point, but it could run at about V8/9.  Can't wait to get back out there and give it some more work!!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Early Retirement

I love my free time!  Yesterday I did some tubing down the river for my bro's birthday, and today we went mountain biking at the somewhat new Rocky Knob.  It was killer fun.  This was my first mountain biking experience, and I had a really good time.  The beginner loop is the only one open right now, but it is super fun, and I'm not in any shape to be doing anything more advanced.  Even though it's a pretty short loop, it has some pretty techy spots and a super fun downhill at the end!  I definitely recommend it to anyone who has any interest in biking.  My bro got a GoPro Hero for his bday, so we took some vids and it looks pretty sick!  I'll post it up as soon as he gets it online.  Until then, here is a video of Perspective, as promised.   Thanks to Zack for putting this together so quickly.   And Josh's name is spelled Shepherd.

A New Problem in Boone from Zack Silberman on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


So, I know I said that I would take the send of the Power of Silence proj despite the dab, but I couldn't.  It bothered me.  A lot.  So, we headed out there again today with the slate wiped clean.  Still a project, still no name, etc.  Zack and Josh were nice enough to let me have first go, and I was able to put it together clean this time!  It helped to take a couple rest days.  This time, we got footage (even though it's pretty ghetto), so that should be up soon.  Anyways, Zack took next go and also fired it!  Then Josh was up and he cruised all of the opening moves and almost fired it first go.  Pretty sick improvement over last time.  He'll def get it soon!  Josh suggested the name Perspective, and I really like it.  Simple and appropriate, so it's finally over.  Perspective (v9) is born.  Get out and try this thing, lemme know what you think!

Then we hiked around and looked at / climbed some of the classics.  Our goal was to make it down to the Concave Proj, but of course we got too wrecked.  David put up a right exit to P0wned and I went over to try this little steep project that usually seems to be wet.  It looked soaked, but was quite dry.  We messed with some holds, found a good way to start the problem and after some efforts and very little remaining skin, I sent the rig.  David came in and did it a couple goes later after punting off the topout.  This thing will eat your skin if you aren't careful (or maybe even if you are) but it is still super fun movement, and pretty tough.  I figured it to be a hard 7, but seems harder if yer short.  As 3 new lines went up today, and I'm not one of the young guns any more, I called it Geriatric Hat Trick (7b (to compromise)).  I'm psyched to let my skin heal and get out there again soon.  There really is a lot of fun to be had in the neighborhood!

Sorry no photos, vid will come soon maybe.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Updatin (much needed)

With the recent heat and rainfall, I haven't really been able to commit a lot of time to climbing.  Golf Season!  love it.  Too bad golf is way too expensive.  I went out to Mountain Aire Golf Club to play a round with my dad the other day.  We haven't played there in years, even though it is beautiful and really well-maintained.   The price is just a bit out of my range.  Peak season rates just kicked in and it was $37 on a weekday.  I know it could be worse, but that doesn't change the fact that I can't afford it.  I played really well considering I only get out 2-3 times per year.  83 on a par 72 course.  Gotta work on my putting game! 

And since the only people that read this are climbers, I guess I'll throw in a bit about my recent climbing exploits.  First, I went down into Linville Gorge with Leif, Josh, and Bill a few weeks back.  I had been down there a couple times before, but never did much climbing.  I'm not gonna lie, I never cared for the slick nature of the rock, not knowing names or grades, and climbing in 90 degree heat.  Even so, this latest adventure was different.  It was a fun crew, and I was able adapt to the rock pretty quickly.  With a little change in mindset, I was able to have a hella good time.  I got on some really great lines that I don't know the name of.  I did a fair amount of climbs, but the only one I know the name of was Helter Skelter (full marks for fun and aesthetics).  I even got on some highball that may be a project.  It didn't seem like it could be harder than v4, but it is very committing at the top (so I bailed (multiple times)).  Apparently Joey Henson and Mike Stam have been spending a fair bit of time recently searching and developing new boulders, so I can't wait to get back down there and see what they've found!

Matt Pomfrey Photo

Matt Pomfrey Photo

Matt Pomfrey Photo

Then I trained in the gym for a while.  Went route climbing once (i suck).  Played another round of golf (80 (thank you putter)).  Played at Willow Valley and sucked (but made a hole in one).  Bit of tennis.

Dalen Gray Photo

Dalen Gray Photo

Boom!  Now we're up to date.  While I'm not too interested in going out and doing repeats in 85+ degree weather, I can get psyched on new stuff.  Josh Sheperd and I went out a few days ago and showed the Power of Silence project to Zack Silberman.  We were both pretty worried that he would just walk it, but it turned out that the foot-cut crux was just as challenging for him.  We all got shut down on that move and called it a day.  Yesterday, I was going to the Dump to boulder with my buddy Dylan, but we got rained out and went to the gym to do routes instead.  We met Zack there and learned that he got super stoked and went out that morning for a pre-rain session to try the proj some more.  And he found the beta to get through the crux.  After seeing a video of this, I started to freak a bit and toyed with the idea of an afternoon session.  After a fair amount of consideration, we decided to give it a go.  The new beta is sick!  We were both able to put in some really good efforts, falling just short of the final move.  My skin was getting torn up and my elbow was about to explode, so we called it a day with the knowledge that either one of us may do it first go next session.  After talking to Josh, we all decided to try again the next morning around 8am.  I loaded up on ibuprofen, threw some chapstick on my tips, iced the elbow, and finally managed to fall asleep after visions of sending danced through my mind.  This morning seemed to come too soon, but fotunately it hadn't rained through the night.  I was feeling quite stiff and sluggish at first, and I had a hard time warming up.  We all stopped at Katilfafish for a while and Drexel, David, Zack and Josh all got on it.  It looked awesome, but I knew it would kill my elbow so I resisted.  One more quick warmup and we went over and sprayed Josh down with the beta.  His feet were giving him problems, so after some effort, he told me and Zack to go ahead and have a go.  Zack and I decided to do a coin toss to decide who would climb first, just in case one of us sent first go.  I won the toss and ended up flailing around, desperately trying to get my feet on.  Fail.  Zack's go was better, but still no send.  My next go, I made sure to get every hold as perfect as possible and made it through the crux, made the final move, and barely snagged the jug out of sheer desperation.  After a little hesitation on the topout, it was done.  (note:  there was a spotter wristwatch dab.  it didn't affect the send, so after a group consensus, im allowing it.)  I don't really have a lot to compare this problem to in terms of difficulty.  It has been a while since I've climbed anything at that level outdoors.  I'm tentatively saying V9, and after toying with a handful of names, I think that Delirium's Edge is appropriate.  Oh, and I didn't really bother getting pictures because there was a video camera running.  Until the send when it ran out of memory and wasn't running any more.  So, maybe we'll get some footage when Zack and Josh do this thing.  It's a killer line, very desperate to the very end, loved it!  

Kora doin her thang

The Power of Silence Project aka Delirium's Edge

The first crux

Classic Evil Monkey
More Evil Monkey
Josh's mangled foot

Monday, April 18, 2011

What makes a classic?

The Goal:
3 guys
5 areas
30 V5's
1 day

The Reality:
2 guys
3 areas
10 hours
100 miles
1 ego kept in check (maybe 2, I can't speak for Zack)

I'm sure it's an idea that many people have toyed with, but I have never heard of anyone actually following through (with good reason, as I would find out).  The Idea:  I heard from Dalen Gray and Zack Silberman about a plan to drive around the Boone area and do all of the classic V5 boulder problems (in a day)!  So, I set about compiling a list of all of the V5's in the area and came up with a list of 31.  While maybe not all of these were considered "classic," I liked the idea of 30 problems in a day.  In typical fashion, I whimiscally decided on a Friday and got in touch with Zack and Josh Shepherd.  Of course, it was the only day that Josh couldn't go climbing.  So, with a 30% chance of rain all day, Zack and I set out.  We got a slightly later start than we planned, due to a bank stop, Wal-Mart stop, 2 gas station stops (had to look for a deal on Monster engery drinks), and a dog on a roof. 

Dog on a roof
We finally reached Blowing Rock around 10:00am and started our day at the Mushroom Boulder.  We finished it off quickly and headed down to the lower area.  I had picked Blowing Rock as the first stop because of Roof of Death.  I had only done it once before and felt like I could have died.  I really wanted to knock this one out while fresh.  Fortunately, we both did it first go and moved on.  The plan was to be out of Blowing Rock by 11:30am, but that was wishful thinking.  Even though we did every problem in one or two goes, the hiking, unpacking, and packing took much longer than expected.  So, we set out to The Dump and a couple other random spots on 221. 

Zack on Low Boy.  It was moist.
Zack finishing up Stonehouse.
At the Blowing Rock trail-head.  Come on guys, how does this happen?
We thought we were moving quickly, but apparently not, as we reached Granmother around 4:00pm.  We also thought we were making good progress on our list, but apparently not, as we had only done 11 problems.  Up to this point, Zack had been filming our ventures, but his camera ran out of memory after a couple climbs at G-mom.  This was about the time when desperation set in and we had to change up our plans.  We had planned on going to Lost Cove and the Backyard Boulders, but we didn't really know our way around the Backyard, and it is still a rather obscure spot.  Unfortunately, it has about 7 V5's that we had planned on doing.  Lost Cove only has 2, so we decided to just do as many as possible at Grandmother and go to Lost Cove if time allowed.  Still, I wanted to do a full 30 problems, so I decided to add in a few more climbs to the list.  I obviously wasn't thinking clearly at this point, as most of them were harder than V5.  My body started shutting down at a more rapid pace as we made our way from the top to bottom of G-mom.  A day like this takes its toll both physically and mentally.  I felt sick and hungry and tired and wanted to quit climbing very badly by the end.  Finally, it got too dark to climb any more and we called it a day at about 8:30pm.  It felt so good to be done and driving back home!  In the end, I only did 24 climbs, but they were all so damn good!  That was the most that I've ever been beaten down by climbing, but when it was all done, we were pretty amazed at the day that just taken place.  Totally worth it!

Delays WILL happen.  Plan on it.
Zack on Doug Reed Roof at The Dump.
Me firing 6 Pac For Shur after a foot dab ruined my first go.
Zack wasted his energy campusing through most of Biggie Smalls. 
And a super punt off the last move of Undertoe to cap off the day.  It was wet.
If you'd like to plan a similar adventure, I would recommend the following:
  • Pick a grade that you are comfortable climbing within 1 or 2 tries
  • Compile a list of all the climbs of that grade at major areas using rockclimbing.com and 8a.nu
  • Convince a couple of people that climb at the same level as you to go with you (I wouldn't go on this adventure with more than 2 other people or it will simply take too much time)
  • Plan on an early start!  Or bring a lantern.  You will want more time than you think.
  • Bring a lot of food and water.  Snack food will not cut it for a day like this.
  • Pack light and move quickly.  You will want more time than you think.
  • Have a super fun time experiencing as many of Boone's boulder problems as physically possible!

So, what makes a classic?  Is it the history of the climb, the highball factor, the fun factor, the aesthetics, the level of sandbagging?  Probably.  The best way to find out is to go and climb it yourself.

The Final List:
(*=classic to me)
  1. *Low Boy V5
  2. The Fin SDS V5
  3. *Stems and Caps V5
  4. *Roof of Death V5
  5. *Raw Terror V5/6
  6. *Right Maddox V5
  7. Left 45 V5
  8. *Stonehouse V5
  9. *Doug Reed Roof V5
  10. *Undercling Undercling V5
  11. Sign of the Times V5
  12. *Darkman V5
  13. *Have Guns, Will Travel V7
  14. *Mighty Mouse V5
  15. 6 Pac For Shur V6
  16. Biggie Smalls V3
  17. *Throttle V5
  18. *Nitrous Oxide V5
  19. Big Guns V5
  20. Scottish Arete V5
  21. *Shinister V6
  22. *Zen Master V8
  23. *Crimping Nickels V5
  24. *Joey's Arete V5
If we forgot any 5's or simply weren't able to get to them, lemme know!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Boulderin the backyard

Boone was back in prime condition yesterday, so I couldn't resist getting out to play.  I went out to the Backyard Boulders to climb a little bit with Purpur, Leif, and Shepherd.   I've been to their boulders a few times but never actually got to climb.  Most things were dry, so I got on a couple classics: Evil Monkey (V6) and Quagmire Arete (V4).  There was also a new one: Do The Damn Thing (V4).  I was able to flash all of them, but they all felt about the same difficulty: hard.   Then I convinced Josh to check out Comfort Arete with me.  He gave me the rundown on beta for how Nate and Jimmy did it, then showed me how he had been working it.  I didn't much care for the Jimmy beta due to the tweaky tendon, so Josh and I set to work on his method.  After trying a lot of different ideas, it started to come together.  Finally, we figured out some crazy shiz that ended up working with a nice flow.  It went first go after figuring it out, so I'm not really sure of the grade.  I took V9, but I could agree with V8, especially for the Backyard.  Purp, Tilley, and Josh all have to do that thing and come to a consensus grade.  And congrats to Tilley for doing AHR, that thing is impossible.  And Taylor, massive punt.  He did Black Crack.  And then fell.  Next time for real. 

Promise to have some photos next post.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Boone Party

I got back into Boone a few days back in order to work as much as possible and rebuild my bank account.  And of course climb some rocks.  I went out to Blowing Rock yesterday to try some moderates that I had never done before.  It was really warm, and difficult to find the motivation to get started.  I warmed up a bit at 5.10 wall and then headed down to Roof of Death with Ben Newton and Zack Silberman.  We gave it a few efforts and then started the send train.  Zack did it, then me, then Ben.  We all got pretty epic on the top, but I think I was the most sketchy.  It felt so greasy!  Then everyone else in Boone showed up, including Sam Dospoy, Nate & Holly, and Charlie Long.  We had enough pads to cover from Roof of Death to Harvester of Sorrows.  We hopped on Raw Terror, and after figuring out some topout beta, ran another train on it.  I feel like both climbs were hard V5's, but I'm sure they feel better in colder weather.  It was seriously hot and we all went through our water very quickly.  Still, that's no reason to stop climbing.  I went ahead and did a repeat of Desperate Bitch and Harvester as well.  All of the lines on this boulder are so good!  Sam styled through Raw Terror after finally committing to the first crux.  Charlie did Bitch (V6), cruising the first section multiple times before finally figuring out the top.  Also, Holly made quick work of Harvester of Sorrows (V4), using the OG beta.  From there, we went over to the 45 wall.  After seeing Zack's beta for Left Start Center 45 (V7), I was able to do it in a go.  Zack was playing on Flagyl, but it was just way too hot to get serious.  Charlie also laid down some crushing on Stonehouse (V5).  We thought he was going to come off the top, but Holly rushed some chalk to him and he was fine.  Seriously hot and greasy yesterday.  Finally, I tried my old nemesis, AHR.  I didn't do it.  I'm as close today as I was four years ago!  I'm not sure I'll ever be able to finish that problem.  Oh well.  It was a good crew and really fun to just hang out with so many people.  We even saw Travis Mathews and Jay Tilley on their way in for the evening temps (still probably 70 degrees).  But, back to work now.  I've gotta make as much money as possible if I'm going to make it to Colorado!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Just a thought

Happy St. Patty's Day.

I was thinking, and 'sexy' is a strange word.  I don't really understand it.  It seems to stems from 'sex' which is synonymous with 'coitus,' but, one couldn't very well say, "Damn, girl, you lookin coitusy tonight!"  Right?

Oh, and fresh V5 update:  Erich Purpur has really stepped up his game this week to try and finish off Jay Tilley.  He did 5 in a day a few days ago, and did 5 yesterday, and 2 more today!  Tilley, you may have to do some sneaking around to fire off a few more in the next couple days (and congrats on y-crack!). 
EP: 97  JT: 91

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Final days

My time in Chattanooga has nearly run out.  It has been a great few months, and I have done about as many boulder problems as I could hope to do.  In 3.5 months, I have done 60+ new problems (which is 2x as many as I usually do in a 12 month period)!  That is a lot for me, but there is still so much to come back to.  I am most excited to get back to Laurel Snow and finish off some old projects (and hopefully some new ones as well).  Maybe next year! 

Some of the Boone crew peeps made another trip here for spring break.  It was a pretty fun time, with lots of climbing and beer.  The race to 100 V5s is entering the final stretch, with Jay Tilley taking a slight lead.  Erich Purpur has to step up his game in the next 2 weeks if he wants a shot at the title.  Fortunately, he has about 30 problems stowed away to choose from.  I believe the official count is in at JT: 90  EP: 85.
Early in the week, Erich and I took Tilley and Dalen out to Cumberland to check out the hottness.  It was pretty sick!  Erich and I both knocked out our projects.  He did Salo's Roof (V9) (he gave it v8) quickly and easily.  I tried Slurpee (V10) for a while and finally stuck that first move, made it to the second big move and stuck it too, then fell....  Considering the fact that I only stick the first move 1 out of every 40 tries, I didn't have high hopes for doing the problem.  Did it next go (see video)!  Then we went to LRC to play around.  There was a Boone climber reunion at the Super Mario Bros. boulder (seriously like 15 of us)!  That was pretty fun to see everyone again.  Later, I tried The Shield a little bit.  I had never been on it before, but I really liked trying to climb such an amazing feature.  Very physched to get back out there next year!  I have been making it a goal to try problems that I would normally avoid.  Throughout the week, I tried The Shield,  Psychosomatic, Interplanetary Escape, Dugout Traverse, an unknown highball (see video), The Brain, Osiris, and several easier problems as well.  Normally I wouldn't try them because they look scary or easy or hard or slabby or strange or chossy.  They were all really fun though.

Nate and I went out to a cool spot yesterday to try The Brain, Down Payment, and Osiris.  He did The Brain (V5) second go and we headed to Down Payment (or is it called Eviction Notice?)  We couldn't do it.  That thing is hard!  I think I have projected that more than anything else since I've been here.  Oh well, maybe next time.  Off to Osiris.  This boulder is amazing.  It is a cool overhanging face that is full of compression moves and a tall topout.  We built up a landing over the river that was flowing at the base of it, and went up to clean the topout.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to try it or not until I checked out the top.  I decided not to try it.  Way too scary for my taste.  Nate got on it and did it first go of the day!  It looked like it climbed so well that I decided to try.  I gave it some good efforts and took some good falls before I finally reached the topout.  Then I fell again.  That is the only place on the boulder that you really don't want to fall.  I landed pretty hard, almost overshooting the pad.  Thanks to Nate for preventing that! I had to lay there for a few minutes to let my heart slow down. That is easily the biggest/worst fall that I have ever taken.  I checked myself for injuries and found my shoulder to be a little off.  It hurt to lift my arm past a certain point, but I couldn't tell how bad it really was.  I decided not to try again, but then I figured that I wouldn't get another shot at it if my shoulder turned out to be injured.  With all of the adrenaline, I figured I could get another good go.  I got to the crux and my foot blew.  I quickly got back on and made it up to the topout again.  This time I had an idea of what to expect, so I had better body positioning.  I still had to grovel, but I pressed through it!  Climbing on Osiris (V10) is definitely the most epic (and sketchy and terrified) that I have ever been on a boulder.  I'm really proud of myself for trying this one and not giving up!

I'm going to take some time off from climbing to see what happens with the shoulder.  Hopefully I'm just being paranoid.  Here's a video of some stuff (I just learned that the unknown highball at the start is called Golden Throttle):

Monday, March 7, 2011

In response

Well, this is certainly a record number of responses to my blog (more than every other post combined).  Whether the responses were simply to improve my spirits, or because you felt the need to express your views on the philosophy of climbing, it is good to know that people care.  I have read some thought provoking insights in each response, and feel that I can relate key points from each to my life.  I also love the variation in messages and posts that I received.  Though interpretations of my writing may have differed slightly from person to person, I feel that most of the variation was due to differences in the tenets and mentalities of the individuals responding.  No two responses stated the same idea, and I found that to be quite refreshing.  It shows that there is no ‘correct’ method for approaching a solution to a dilemma.  Each individual’s experiences and circumstances are so diverse that it only makes sense to expect such discrepant responses.  This is also why I'm sure that everyone understands that perhaps their advice is not applicable to other people (though as I mentioned earlier, with a collective pool of ideas, it is easier to pick out the key points that are relevant to one's life).  Personally, I admit that I probably spend too much time analyzing the lives of others and base my own expectations from what I find.  It is very easy for me to see the good in the lives of my friends, but I don’t see it so well in myself.  I’m sure that this is the case with many people.   Though it is almost incomprehensible to consider making such a significant change, I do need to stop juxtaposing my life to the lives of those around me.  I almost feel like that goes against human nature and natural evolution, but maybe it would be worth trying.
I have been climbing a few times now since I 'quit' and it has been quite nice.  I feel more like the old me, with fewer expectations and a more detached attitude.  While I still care, I don't get frustrated with failure, but instead try to be more surprised by success.  It brings back some of the old levels of excitement.
In conclusion, for something that I was so hesitant to post, I am pleased to see the expression and opinion of others.  Thanks to everyone out there who loves the sport and refuses to give up!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Still here

Business first:  i had a photo selected for the Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition finals and voting just opened for the People's Choice award.  If you like my photo and want to show your support, please go to www.appmtnphotocomp.org and click on the 'vote now' link and sign up to vote.  It doesn't take long, and you can see some really great shots from the High Country.  My photo is in the Flora and Fauna category: Flight of the Butterfly.  Big thanks to those who have already voted!

Yeah, i know that i haven't posted in like a week.  Honestly, there hasn't been that much going on in my life.  Climbing has been a bit of a disappointment to me recently and i had to quit.  i have had so many thoughts running through my head about intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivations, grading, and the overall modern climbing scene.

When i started climbing, everything was pretty simple.  Even then, my reasons for climbing were varied and shifting.  i didn't really enjoy the process of climbing that much.  i was the weakest climber that i've ever seen and i couldn't top out anything due to a serious fear of heights.  While part of me simply wanted to rise to the challenge and overcome my limitations, another part of me wanted to get strong enough to climb as well as my friends. 

After training in a truly terrible gym for the entirety of my first year of college, i moved back to Boone and tested my new abilities.  It was a satisfying jump to a new level, and i was constantly excited by the features and holds on the stone that i could now use (even though i still couldn't figure out what to do with a sloper).  At that point, motivations shifted again.  Climbing was the best stress release throughout college.  i would go to the gym if i was pissed off, and i would go climb outside if i just needed to relax and be distracted.  Another motivator was becoming part of the climbing social scene at ASU.  i found some new friends to climb with, and i wanted to become strong enough to be able to keep up with them.  At this point, i made another jump and improved by a few grades very quickly.  This was the turning point for what it meant to be a climber for me. 

When i started climbing harder grades, i began to get caught up in the whirlwind of bullshit that comes with trying to "make it as a climber."  Given my age, i knew my chances were very slim of being able to improve enough (quickly enough) to actually get sponsored, but deep down that's what i wanted.  Making it to the next grade was the new prominent motivator for me (let me clarify:  it wasn't really the grade that interested me, but the strength and ability to climb at higher grades).  i don't think that grade-chasers should be looked down on as much as they are (unless they're on a serious ego trip), because it probably can't be helped.  It isn't like it's a 'bad reason for climbing,' but i think it is unfortunate to have this as a motivator.  The old satisfaction of climbing becomes more ephemeral, and a near manic-depression replaces it.  Rockclimbing.com is no longer cool (i guess it never was very good, but it was sufficient for a time).  8a.nu scorecards replace the hand-written tick lists.  Now it's all about who you know, who you like and who you hate (and in my opinion, there is a lot more hating and negativity than support and positivity) (or maybe not more, but still too much).

i finally gave up on climbing and decided to change my life's priorities.  i was about to enter the real world to try and make some money, but i decided that i wanted one more season of climbing.  Now i'm in Chattanooga and had the best season of climbing that i could imagine.  Still, it wasn't enough.  i'm still not good enough to get a sponsor, and i am struggling to find a sense of why i climb any more.  i was hoping that something amazing would happen to me while i was here and give me some direction.  i don't even know what i was expecting, but it didn't happen.  i don't have a job or money.  i don't know what i'm doing and i feel pretty much alone. 

Even though this is how i feel now, it goes back to what i referred to earlier with the pseudo manic-depressive attitude.  i may feel this way tomorrow, or i may feel completely fine and look back at everything i've written with mild shock and bemusement.

i know that i don't really want to give up on climbing.  Maybe another change of scenery is all i need to raise my spirits.  Chattanooga certainly did the trick for me for a while, but i feel like i have to get out of here now.  i'm still not sure if i can commit to a real job yet.  Improving as a climber gives me the most satisfaction, and i'm not sure if i would be able to improve if i had a career.  Damn i'm getting old!

i've gone out climbing a few times since i quit, and had a pretty good time.  i did my first slab climbs in about 5 years, and a few other climbs that weren't on my list!  Here are a few pictures, and i may even post a video soon.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Nothin else to do

Well, I wasn't really sure what to do with the footage of Damn Yankees.  It isn't really exciting angles or anything, so I was thinking about just slapping it onto another vid at some point.  Unfortunately, I took a mostly rest day today and didn't have much to do.  I made a video of it pretty much just for fun, but I guess I'll share.

Back by popular demand (1 guy wants it, but I figure that's like 20% of my readers),  Ramen Recipe of the Day!

Tomato-Bacon Ramen Soup:

1 package Ramen soup (any flavor)
2 cups water
1 can tomato soup
and Bacon!

First, go ahead and fry up some bacon
Make ramen and crumble up the bacon into small pieces
When the ramen is done, pour can of tomato soup into pan and add the bacon
Simmer for 5 minutes

Since I have to take a rest day tomorrow, I'll try to catch up on beer reviews!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A quickie

Today I went climbing and did two new problems.  I did the stand start to Hand on the Axe (7a+) and then did Damn Yankees (7c)(I got some footage that I'll post up at some point).  Both went pretty quick and it was really fun.  As promised, here is a picture (sorry it sucks, I only took 3 pics today):

Nate on Damn Yankees. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Crunch time for sendin days

Although the weather has been beautiful lately, it is becoming considerably warmer very quickly.  I am also sad to say that I only have 1 month remaining to climb in Chattanooga.  Now is definitely the time to step up the game and get some sends while I still can.  I have so many on my list that it is difficult to pick only a few.  On the bright side, I have been feeling pretty strong lately and I think I'll be able to tick away several of my projects, as well as many moderate classics.

Today I decided to keep the media devices at home and commit to a solid day of bouldering without the distractions.  Looking back, I kind of wish I had gotten some pics and vids, but thems the brakes.  I went out to Rocktown with Holly and her friend, Allen.  I didn't really have any climbs weighing on my soul, so I just tagged along and got on things that they wanted to do.  This turned out to be a good tactic, as I did many more climbs than usual (5).  After a laughable warm-up session, we went to Bermuda Triangle (7b+) and I was able to flash it!  I definitely feel like I made it as difficult as possible, though.  I managed to cut feet and catch a crimp with 2 fingers, reeling it in to a full crimp as I iron crossed in the air like a fool (lifelong goal: achieved).  Then we rolled over to the Bad boulders.  I was able to flash Little Bad (V5) and Holly made quick work of it as well.  Definitely an amazing climb!  The I tried Big Bad (7a+) and flashed it!  It's also a really cool climb.  Big Bad Right (7b+) took a bit more work to figure out the beta, but with a group effort, I did it as well.  Finally, we headed over to Sherman Roof so that I could try to do Brown Hole (7b+) and finish off that wall.  With some effort and Holly beta input, I sent that one too.  That is about 5x as many climbs as I usually do in a day, so I was really psyched!  On a side note, Allen is a punting champion!  I don't think I've ever seen someone almost send so many problems (multiple times)!  I believe he has the potential to be a strong contender for Punt of the Week.  One more thing, Holly tried Litz Roof (7c+) and almost did one or two moves on it!  (It was actually New Sheriff In Town (V5) but we didn't have the heart to tell her, bless her simple little mind).

I promise to have something to look at on the next post.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tryin to find the motivation

As I'm sure many climbers do, I constantly struggle to find a significant reason for why I climb.  It seems that the reasons I climb are always changing, and the satisfaction is more and more temporary.  Sometimes when I have a bad day, I feel like quitting climbing and committing to a "real life" with a good job and a social life.  Considering the way I live now (no job or anything else), I can't even imagine trying to balance between seriously climbing and the "real world."  I really love progressing as a climber, but when I no longer have the time to put towards training and getting out, then I can't progress and the satisfaction will be gone.  It makes me sad to think it, but at some point I'm going to have to give up climbing and move on with my life. 

That's what was going through my head yesterday as I sat under the Seven Eleven roof at Cumberland for the hundredth time, trying to do the first move.  Erich and I took Ben out there to show him a new area and try to finish off some of our projects.  Erich got on Salo's Roof again and after putting in a good effort and figuring out some new beta, he had the punt of his life.  The video below shows his second punt of the day (not even his high point!)  Ben, in classic Ben fashion, went around and did a bunch of good moderate lines before returning home to Asheville, NC.  I sat under the roof trying Slurpee until my head couldn't take it any more.  I had to take a break and relax before reluctantly deciding to try Gross's Roof (8a).  I'm really glad I decided to try it, though.  I felt really strong on it, sticking the first move every time.  I also figured out some new beta for the second move and did it in a few tries!  Here is another Awesome video, courtesy of the Flip Cam:

And, here is a picture of Erich on Salo's Roof:

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Makin the most of a wet day

Yesterday, we decided to take Ben out to Rocktown.  He had only been there once, several years ago.  We were shocked when we rolled up and there were only two or three other cars in the parking lot.  We were also shocked when we hiked out to the boulders and 94% of them were soaking wet.  The ground was completely dry, so the mountain must have been in a cloud for the previous 12 hours or something.  It was very disappointing.  Apparently Rami had also driven out there and left at some point. Despite conditions, we made the most of the day and climbed a couple random dry problems, as well as a couple classics.  The energy level was very low, so we headed back to the car and chilled for almost an hour before finally leaving.  Here is a new vid of the day's exciting events:

A couple of angsty photos as well:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Expandin the media game

I have to apologize.  I started this blog because I felt a rare inspiration (and boredom) that kept things at least mildly interesting.  Since the first few posts, I haven't had that inspiration and my posts have become the makings of the generic monotone climber's blog.  "Today I went climbing with my friends and sent a hard problem.  It was really fun."  So, sorry about that.  I can't really do much about it, so thanks for continuing to check out my posts!

Taking things back a couple of days, Valentines Day continues to be the worst.  I won't get into it, but I never have a good time.  I decided to pull a solo day out at Cumberland to try to finish off Gross' Roof while fresh.  It was nearly 70 degrees and my whole body shut down.  I felt shaky, heavy, and really weak.  I left after 45 minutes and went to Beverage World to make myself feel better (I know, it's against my rules).  I bought a couple of nice beers (reviews to come) and got kicked in the face!  Not literally, but I got drunk very quickly and unexpectedly.  I don't know what happened, but I had to go to bed at 9:30.  I still felt pretty weak the next day, so I rested again.

Yesterday, I went out to LRC with Rami and Carl.  Carl couldn't meet us there until around 3:00, so Rami and I went around the field for a tour of classics.  We started on I Think I Can (7c).  This thing is so hard!  We tried it for like 2 hours and wrecked our skin.  I barely sent, and Rami barely didn't send.  Then we went over to Bosley Traverse (7b+).  I almost flashed it, but Rami didn't point out the jug right next to my hand at the end (purposeful sabotage!).  Rami and I both sent it quickly and moved on to the next gem.  White Chili (7b+) has to be one of the proudest lines at LRC (I know sarcasm doesn't come across well in type, but that's what that was).  It was pretty hard compression, but the concept behind that climb and how it moves was mildly ridiculous.  I got it second go, and Rami did it shortly after.  He almost laughed himself off the topout.  It was a day full of hating on climbs, but I really had a lot of fun!  It's nice to take a break from your projects and just have some fun on more obscure lines.  To celebrate, we went to Tremont Tavern for Free Beer Wednesday.  They were featuring Yuengling Bock Beer (did they get bought out by Budweiser??).  It wasn't very good, but it was free.  Personally, I thought it tasted like metal.  Overall Score:  2/10

Finally, today I was resting, but I went out to Zahnd with my friends.  It was fun.  (haha, get it?)  Seriously though, Ben Newton came into town and this was his first time at Zahnd.  He had an impressive day, sending lots of stuff.  Purp also did a handful of new problems.  Nate did a hard climb despite being sick.  Props to everyone!  Purp also got a pocket-size Flip video camera.  I insisted we bring it, and I shot some sick footage (sarcasm again)!  I also snapped a couple shots, but they weren't very good (truth).  So, with a free editing program and all of the processing power my PC could muster (really not enough), I present my first vid!  I know it's not great, but I hope you like it anyway. 

And here are some snapshots I took at Zahnd and a few from the other day at Lord of the Dance:

Nate Drolet photo

I get to wear 2 kinds of shoes because I'm not sponsored!  Yeah!
Nate Drolet photo

I didn't do it that go, but one move away! 
Nate Drolet photo

Nate Drolet sending Capoeira (7c+)

For all the Ben Newton fans out there, print this one and stick it to your fridge!

Erich Purpur on a highball arete at Zahnd
Holly McMullen climbing on rocks

Words cannot express how glad I am to be done with this post.  Damn my lack of RAM and AT&T!!!!!  It is 3:23am and I'm going to Rocktown tomorrow.  Goodnight, all.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Finishin off some old ones

A few years back, I went to LRC and did Cleopatra (7b) but couldn't do Cinderella (7a+).  People don't really get it, but the thing is hard!  This year I did Behind the Eye (7a+) but I've been avoiding Cinderella (still scared of it).  Yesterday I went out there with Carl so that he could finish off Behind the Eye (he'll get it next time).  Some people were on Cinderella and I decided that today was the day to finish off that little area.  I did it second go (but it still felt way hard)!  For a minute I celebrated being done with the boulder and the horde of people that always accumulate there.  Of course, someone had to point out that there was still the Cleopatra-Cinderella Traverse (7c).  I worked out the moves in a couple goes and was able to fire it in a couple more.  The crux was still just doing Cinderella.  I personally had to take 7b+ for that one, but that's just like my opinion, man. 
In keeping with my new system, Carl and I split a 6-pack of Yazoo Hop Project.  This was my second time drinking this beer since I moved here, and it is quite good!
Gen. Info.:  This beer is classified as an India Pale Ale, but it is very unique!  Each batch is brewed using a different blend of spicy and aromatic hops.  They never use the same blend twice!  If you feel the need to know what you're drinking, you can check the bottled on date and go to their blog to try and decode the hop blend. 
The Experience:  This is where the review is going to suck!  We drank these at Carl's house, from the bottle...  So I don't have much to say about the color, smell or how it pours.  I also couldn't take notes and I'm not sure which batch # this was.  Fail.  So, the quick and dirty:  This beer is hoppy!  Even so, it was very well blended and lacked excessive bitterness.  It had a surprisingly smooth finish and very easy drinkability.  So far, this is one of my favorite IPAs.  Price: 8.49 per 6-pack.  Rating: 8.5/10