Saturday, March 14

in Spain

Landed in Spain. A week later I'm feeling pretty settled in. Jet lag is done. I'm learning my way around the little town of Cornudella de Montsant. I'm picking up a few more phrases, getting to know the crowd of climbers who are here, sussing where to shop and where to park and go on walks and whatnot. It's nice here. The vibe is rural, tranquilo and very climbing focused.

Most people are projecting. Seems like the thing to do here - to pick something burly and beat your head against the wall repeatedly. It's perfect company for me. This is why I came here, to Spain, to Siurana.

Siurana is beautiful. Only a 45 minute drive from the Mediterranean but it's very mountainous. The crag itself is colorful and varied. There are short and steep sectors, there are tall and vertical ones. One characteristic that seems to be consistent throughout is crimps. Crimps and pockets. The style reminds me of... Smith Rock meets Cathedral / Wailing Wall, Utah. It's not so foreign - it's a similar style that I've climbed on many times. People really love the climbing here, there is a strong contingent of stoked travelers and locals alike. Weekends are busy.

I came to Siurana specifically because I want to try and do La Rambla 9a+. It's a hard route, in a tough area. It's tall and involved and old school. It's awesome.

So far I've climbed 5 days and have been making steady progress. On my third day of tries I linked from the ground into the final boulder problem crux. On the fourth day I did the route with one fall. Yesterday (day five) I refined random beta and made some important links through and into the crux. It's coming along. 'Poco a poco', a local said to me a few days ago - this will become my mantra.. ('little by little').

I'm remembering patience. I'm remembering determination and stoke but also doubt and anxiety. Trying hard routes is hard on your body but also your mind. It's a game I've played so so many times in the past but even still I'm learning and applying new methods. It's exciting, and I'm stoked. I think I can climb this route, but whether or not I actually will is only partly in my control. Wish me luck!

Photos to the left are from homegirl Colette McInerney. We are piecing together a video short for EpicTV -- details to follow!

Thursday, February 26

in transit

My winter in Vegas this year seemed especially short. Partially no doubt because it was short - about half the length of my typically residence - but also because I spent the vast majority of my days chugging laps on the campus board or strapping weights to my body and dangling. I would have preferred to be romping about the hills and exploring, but I knew that I would need to prepare if I had any chance at my goals for the next step.

Well.. that next step is creeping right up. Now I'm back in Colorado, buried in snow. I leave for a 90 day journey to Europe in one week. I'm stoked, I'm nervous, I'm curious... all that. It has been another long road of training, gathering stoke, trying new things and beating the shit out of myself. The training definitely works. Which is encouraging, but it's also super hard on my body. Like Adam Ondra mentioned in a recent interview with, pushing yourself just to the brink of injury - but not beyond - is one of the hardest parts about elite level training. I went a little too hard and strained my shoulder a little over a week ago. 

one of few new FAs I did in Vegas in-between training days, 'Generations' at the Sand Box in Red Rock. 

Last weekend I went down to LA, in what was a perfectly timed mission to help Jared Vagy with a huge shotlist of photo content for the second edition of his incredible resource 'The Ultimate Climber: Prevent Injury and Peak Your Performance'. I arrived quite worried about the condition of my shoulder and left with an optimistic diagnosis and furthermore a laundry list of ways to compliment my training with injury prevention. I have a feeling that Jared will become a strong ally for me in the realm of therapy and health as Mike and Mark Anderson have become in the realm of training. I feel lucky to have such rad and knowledgeable people in my corner. 

The other obvious upside to visiting Jared was that I finally had the chance, albeit a quick one, to see and explore LA. Part of me certainly arrived prepared to hate LA. Traffic, pollution, pretentious crowds, cliquey... we've all heard the rumors. The reality... Los Angeles feels like vacation. Beautiful views, ocean air, flowers, fast cars, diverse crowd. I liked it there. It's fringy and classic and American and really everything and anything you would want it to be. The traffic is horrid though, and I'm not sure that I could ever settle in a place with so many other people, but I very much look forward to another visit. 

not bad.
Some other rad stuff:
I reviewed the brand spanking new Sportiva Genius. Click through for some photos and my thoughts. 

I interviewed a good friend and bad ass Canadian crusher Mike Doyle on his recent send of Necessary Evil, his thoughts on grade inflation and coaching Sean McColl, and more. 

Also, EpicTV released a fun, rad little piece from homeboy Cameron Maier on our adventures in the Swiss Alps last summer. Have a watch here below.. 

Thursday, January 29

looking ahead

Five years ago when I first checked out Las Vegas I was astonished by how relatively quiet the scene was here. There was clearly a solid, motivated crew of locals, and even more clearly there was a wealth of incredible sport and traditional climbing nearby and a rapidly emerging bouldering contingent. Tom Moulin had just recently released the Southern Nevada Bouldering guide and it seemed like people were starting to see the light. That year I intended to stay in Las Vegas for 2 weeks but ended up here for nearly 3 months. I've been back every winter since.

It's not as though I've been here for two decades and I'm not about to wax poetic about the 'old days' but I must say that I've observed a palpable change in the popularity of the climbing here. Foremost the bouldering scene and especially the Kraft Mountain area. While I will always have mixed feelings about the growth of climbing, especially in regards to the impacts it can have on our most treasured zones, I will say that I love seeing more and more stickered up vans and Subarus, pouring over with crash pads and gear, loitering in the Whole Foods parking lot -- It's fun to have people in town and to vicariously see people discover this rad place like I once did. It's basically unquestionable at this point that Vegas is a bonafide destination for the aspiring winter climber. I totally get it. While I may feel some degree of ownership over the area, I am, after all, an out-of-stater myself.

I generally like climbers. Better put, I generally love climbers. They are my people, my community and my peers. Everyone that I've met traveling through Vegas or the handful that relocate every year - they are seriously all really nice people. This is rad. Let's all keep kicking ass and taking care of our beloved zones and cleaning up other's trash and respecting our fellow climbers and encouraging our friends to try it, and spotting a random stranger and donating to the Access Fund and helping out where and when we can. Hooray for climbing! 

As for what I've been up to... I've put in a few days outside here and there. When I first arrived in Vegas I journeyed back to one of my absolute favorite crags in the country, the Virgin River Gorge. Truly some of the best stone anywhere, it was a pleasure to be back there. In 2011 I campaigned hard for my ascent of 'Necessary Evil', which was by all means a turning point in my climbing career. Despite the fact that I had already climbed a couple 14d's, NE was, in my mind, my first seriously hard route. Along with NE I aimed to finished the other 5.14s at the cliff that year, all of them are hard. I did leave behind the 'Route of All Evil' 14b however. One of Boone Speed's crowning accomplishments and without question a burly and intimidating route even without the direct v-hard start that is Necessary Evil. The story I'd always heard is that Boone actually thought Route was 14b, but when news of visiting french climbers - along with US crusher Jim Karn - came about, the locals sandbagged the guests and suggested that Route was only 14a. The grade stuck, and has thwarted many very accomplished climbers, even many accomplished 14+ climbers have tried and failed on Route / NE. It was fun to revisit this area and properly finish off the Blasphemy wall with an ascent of Route, and a repeat of it's bouldery neighbor, 'F-Dude / Boy'.

Mike Doyle is a route setter, a coach, a damn well accomplished climber and a Canadian. He is 2 years deep into his campaign on Necessary Evil. He will send. 

I next began some effort on Joe Kinder's unrepeated 2009 Wailing Wall link up, 'Re-Up' 14d. It was encouraging to quickly repeat the first half, 'Unforgivable' 14b/c, but much like last year I found some trouble figuring out the best way through the upper boulder problem of 'Slaughterhouse V'. I'm hopeful to return, and also try Joey's new rig 'Maquena Muerte' 14+, but honestly my focus now is looking ahead.

Last year at the base of Ceuse over several glasses of wine, in great company, I proclaimed that it may be a while before I try another route as hard as 'Biographie'. Only minutes later I started planning my return to Europe and soon thereafter I was dreaming about the process again. Well, fast forward to January 2015 and I've got my tickets and rental car booked. This time I'm visiting Spain for my first climbing trip there, and afterwards moving on to France... Switzerland... Austria? Not sure yet. I've got a full 90 days across the pond. The reality of this upcoming trip and my ambitions have totally sunken in. Training is by far my #1 priority and while I may miss out on some fun in the sun here in Las Vegas I will be busting my ass to prepare for what I full heartedly hope will be my best climbing trip ever...