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 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. is no longer cool (i guess it never was very good, but it was sufficient for a time). 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.