Thursday, August 28

29 years

I'm happiest on the road. Simple living, out of my truck. Zeke sits passenger. We laugh at jokes together and critique music. When I drive out of the city and into the expanse I roll the windows down, sometimes for hours. I absolutely love this life.


Yesterday was my 29th birthday. I felt overwhelmed with gratefulness - for my family, for my friends. I was inundated with joyful messages and stoke from the internet, in texts, in calls. I have a blessed life if only because of the great people in it. 

And yet, it was fitting that I spent my birthday totally alone. I didn't mind at all. In-fact I wanted it that way. I made a 4 hour drive from Sale Lake City to one of my favorite crags in the world - the Fins, Idaho. Mostly I thought about how lucky I am to live the way I do. And how there's really very little I would change about my life. Absolutely no birthday gifts needed, save perhaps the company of good friends. 

Thanks to everyone that reached out to me yesterday. It really did enrich the day.


Before I get too much into the now, I will review the last week. Last week I took off for the first few stops on a mega road trip. I had never been to Independence Pass, Colorado - just outside of Aspen - it was such a rad few days. What an amazingly beautiful area, and the climbing is very high quality as well. My main stoke was to try Mark Anderson's new test-piece route and the hardest on the pass. It's on the Lower Grotto Wall - he called it 'Insurrection' and finished it earlier this year, suggesting 14c. It's pretty short and mostly power-crimping through boulder problems. He describes the route, and his process, in cool detail on his site here. At first I was partnerless so I just stick clipped my way up the route and hung draws, chalked and groped holds. It all seemed there, albeit some hard sections and long moves. Low angle technical climbing has long been not only my favorite style but also one of my strongest. First try I sussed my beta and made small links. It's super consistent, and while I felt no section was harder than v10 or so, they all stack right together.

CELIN SERBO PHOTO

Celin Serbo is a good friend and a great videographer and photographer. He was there rolling and I was ready for another try. The route has several sections where I'm forced to get super stretched out and then violently cut my feet, all of which felt like they could spit me off. Shockingly I clipped bolt after bolt, ending up at the final boulder problem and actually quite hard anchor clip. Breathing heavy at 11k feet I clipped the chains. Pretty surprisingly really. It's a hard route and I really had not been climbing outside more than 2 days in the past 5 or 6 weeks - since Europe. But my injury had forced me to train and stay diligent about sleep and taking care of myself. Regardless, I was very stoked. It felt good to send hard after the injury at Wild Iris. For me, I'd say 14b is accurate. And the pitch is outstanding.

I did the 2 other test piece routes on the wall. An unnamed '13b' that's much more like 13c and Tommy Caldwell's 'Before There Were Nine' an awesome granite sport pitch at 13+. We did another day of shooting for an Epic TV piece to be released later in the year along with my series, and then I was ready to change venues.


Next on my list was a seemingly forgotten route an hour west of Salt Lake. My very good friends Leif and Lindsay Gasch once again graciously hosted my stay and we took day trips out to the Narrows. A really cool, mostly overlooked zone that was developed by the prolific 90s Utah Crew including Boone Speed and Mike Call, Tim Wagner and Jonathan Knight among others. Typical Utah limestone - short, crimping and powerful - this is great little crag. 


'The Big Smile' was bolted by Boone and eventually done by Chris Sharma in 97. How this route avoided limelight I'm not sure. It's one of the best of it's grade in Utah as far as I'm concerned. Caldwell chucked a repeat and perhaps a few others until it broke some years later. In 2004 James Litz made the first post break ascent at 14b and as far as I've gathered it was not climbed since. It took some  sussing to figure the route, and in the end I actually changed my beta on the broken lower section after repeated failure and then was ready to take it down next try. It's really 3 hardly separated boulder problems, featuring pockets and edges and slopers and so many cool features. Something like 3 v8/9 back-to-back-to-back. It's incredible! I did the route and the cliffs 5.13s - all worthy and fun - before again changing venues. 


Like I mentioned, yesterday I migrated North. Now I'm in a random coffee spot in Idaho Falls, immeasurably stoked on the potential that still remains at the Fins. I'll be hanging here, with a great crew of people until I decide to take the ride back into Wyoming...

Lastly, check out the latest release from my Epic TV series 'Nomad'. This one is a simple little video about one of my absolute favorite routes I've ever done... 'Speed Integrale' in Voralpse, Switzerland. Cheers to BearCam for the rad footage, and look out for several more videos from Epic! 


Monday, August 18

back to truck life

For the last month my plans and ambitions have been constantly changing. On my first day back climbing from Europe at the Lander International Climbers Fest I jumped to a pocket and ended up stressing a tendon pretty good. From there my stoke for the Colorado alpine remained high but weeks of wetter than average conditions and the slow healing process kept me mostly in the gym. Although late July and August turned out much different than I had envisioned, I am so excited to say that I feel almost totally recovered now and thus I'll be heading off on the next mission in 2 days.


It's really been a cool chance to relax a little, recover and spend time with good people here. My parents live in South Boulder and they always welcome my visits, long or short. So I've been holding it down in my old stomping grounds, eating well, hanging out with Zeke and keeping on the rehab program pretty hardcore. 

Bob Siegrist


Zeke is ready for the road
I did get a chance to test out my fingers and fitness on a quick stop in Northern California after the Outdoor Retailer show last week. We looked up Trinity Aretes out there, a nice little crag buried in the forests 90 minutes inland from Eureka. It's a small crag but the limestone is drippy and impressive albeit a little dirty. 'If' 13b has some full on tufa climbing on streaked, hard limestone. I also did the pumpy king line, 'Mean Streak' 14a despite my desperate lack of endurance after a month of mostly resting or weight training. Hopefully I can pull it together here for the next 3.5 months on the road. 


Ocean. I rarely get to enjoy it. Immense, beautiful, terrifying and captivating.



For the next several months I'll be stopping by several of my favorite zones, but mostly checking out new spots which I couldn't be more stoked on. Stay tuned for updates on the adventure, and wish me luck! 

Saturday, July 26

Recovery

Back in the US. Thinking back to an incredible trip. Many good memories, and a lot of motivation for next year...


It's always interesting after spending months in a foreign land, without speaking the language, then to return home and suddenly you hear every conversation around you. I met very few Americans (3?) in Europe during my trip, and while all of my Swiss or French friends spoke outstanding english, I was still excluded from overheard conversations, radio, or all the language that usually populates our ambience. Suddenly I can perfectly understand the chatter around me in the line at the grocery store, or the voice over the loudspeaker, or one half of a strangers phone conversation. It's simple experiences like this that remind me of why travel is so awesome. All the little things that we adapt to, the other little things that we forget matter and the stimulating challenges associated with them. 


Since I got back some great and also, not so great things have happened. Immediately after arriving in Denver well behind schedule and naturally without baggage, I jumped in the truck and took off for the International Climbers Festival in Lander. This has long been one of my favorite events of the year, and the added bonus to link up with all of my good friends from around Wyoming made the long weekend busy and rad. I taught two days of clinics out at the Wild Iris, did a poster signing with La Sportiva and otherwise just enjoyed the place and the good people in-between trying my best to fight jet lag. On the last day, of course at a wall that is well known for ravaging tendons, I tweaked a finger. Something that thankfully, I have very little experience with. Usually I'm super mindful of injury, reserved about things that could take me out, and also certainly lucky as well. Well... not as lucky this day I guess. The stress gradually consolidated in my wrist - but was strongly associated with my ring finger. Despite an extreme urge to climb and train I rested as much as I could handle since then. I've been slowly but surly making my way towards recovery - and along the way I've found a number of things super helpful which I've shared at the end of this post. 


In the meantime I've moved shop up to Estes Park for a while. No doubt a perfect summer hang with a plethora of alpine climbing, the bouldering scene is huge as well, and there is even some sport climbing gems too. Over the years I have spent many months of my life here since well before I started climbing. In many ways it feels like home (or at least one of my homes), I love it up here.

I've been mountain running again which is certainly a rad thing for me. I gave up running back in December to focus my efforts on training for climbing which I think was a good call. As Steve Bechtel says, 'running is about as good for your climbing as climbing is for your running'. A heartbreaking truth for many of us that are passionate about both. Regardless I feel that the running will definitely help with my goals now and it has been super fun to get back into it. On the down side I contracted some pretty gnarly poison ivy, likely from my filthy buddy Zeke. This is another first for me, and let me say that I will never, ever, downplay the suffering involved with poison ivy again. It is heinous!

spending a lot of quality time with this guy
Okay well on the upside I've been acclimating and spending some quality time in the Alpine, getting super motivated for my summer goals and now I'm back to training as well which has been shockingly exciting after some down time. I'll be working with 3 Strings Media once again to put together what will hopefully be a rad piece for Arcteryx. 


If you have not had the chance to check out this video of my climbing on Biographie here it is for your viewing pleasure! And you can expect the second episode of my Epic TV series 'Nomad' to launch very soon as well. This next one features the radical climbing at Voralpse and one of my all time favorite routes, 'Speed Integrale' 9a.


And also, wander over to both my Five Questions page and my Gear Review for some fresh material with legendary French climber Arnuad Petit and a review on the new ultralight Arcteryx Alpha Pack.

------So here is the low down on my injury and also what I've done and not done since, and where I'm at now. Injuries suck, but they are also almost mandatory for us at some point. I feel so so so fortunate that this one is my worst and is still very minor. Anyways, hopefully if you are experiencing something similar this will inspire or inform you or something! I am by no means a health care practitioner or anything these are just ideas! 

The injury was not exactly in my finger, or my hand. It really seems like a tweaked tendon in my wrist - down to about 3 inches from my wrist up my forearm. I did it jumping into a right hand 2 finger pocket and swinging out to my left. I felt a pretty strong 'zing' in my forearm but there was no pop or snap or anything. I felt soreness and limited strength in both of my fingers immediately. I iced, took IB and rested it. After 5 days of no climbing or testing at all, I made a simple test and figured that I could fully load my pointer and middle fingers, so I did some hang boarding with various grip positions on the left hand and the first team 2 finger grip on my right. I found that hang boarding has been much better for recovery than actual climbing because climbing holds and movements are so unpredictable. For the first 10 days or so I was icing 3 times a day and using my ArmAid for massage which I really liked. I was not taking NSAIDs as advised by my one of my trainers. I was using Traumeel on the area twice a day. As I began to notice that my strength was returning I started hang boarding with the entire hand on the right, but removing a lot of weight at first using a pulley system. One of the coolest discoveries for me was to use a bucket of rice for opposition, and also provide some very minimal strength exercises. Here is a link for more info on rice bucket stuff. I have really liked using the rice, and I think that it has greatly helped me heal. Now I am exactly 2 weeks from the day I hurt my wrist / finger and I'm carefully beginning to push towards a standard level of weight for hang boarding - yesterday I was able to dead hang several strenuous grip positions with up to 35 lbs added weight. Although I am noticing a slight pain when I release my closed hand crimp grip. Some grip positions are still bothersome (when trying to climb plastic) and the occasional random grabbing of something (reaching into my backpack to get something has been weird for some reason). I have been taping my wrist when I do any hang boarding which is hugely effective. I am noticing some very slight soreness after training but nothing too far outside of what I would normally expect from a hard training session. 

I hope some of this helps!