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ABS Nationals 2014

Thanks to Evolv, I was able to spend my entire Saturday watching ABS Nationals in Colorado Springs.  it was awesome.  I did not compete, but I made sure that Evolv was showing some love to whoever was there.  I’ve watched the event online before, but I’ve never been to one in person.  I’ve also been to some pretty big events, the Earth Treks Roc Comp, the UBC tour in Central Park.  But this event had an energy I’ve never quite seen before.

I spent all day Friday at work, with the qualifiers streaming on my iPad beside me.  That’s not a bad way to spend at work.  It was also awesome because I got to see a couple friends compete with the best in the world.  Fellow Evolv athlete Stephen Palermo and Denver Bouldering Club co owner Thomas Betterton.  Neither made it into semi finals, but damn, they climbed hard.  The next day I drove down south to Colorado Springs to kick it in the Evolv booth with Megan Sajbel.  The semi finals were awesome.  The likes of Angie Payne, Alex Puccio, Alex Johnson, D Woods, Paul Robinson, Vasya Vorotnikov battled it out on some killer problems.  The problems all looked awesome for the crowd while at the same time appearing to be fun to climb.  I got to tell you, there is nothing like watching climbers of this caliber in person.  They make the impossible seem possible.  Sweaty hands and inspiration were in full force.

As the semi finals had completed, I headed on over to City Rock to watch Catalyst sports and Paradox sports athletes compete in the paraclimbing competition.  It was amazing.  I had never seen such a crowd of athletes, abled and differently abled, so psyched and so crushing!  The energy was high, the psych was high, and everyone was having a good time.  I got to meet a lot of the athletes, and even made a new friend in Ronnie Dickson. (another Evolv crusher)  Ronnie is a straight up legit dude.  Looking forward to climbing with him in the future.

Before the Finals were to begin, I headed back over to the ABS wall and was able to watch the awesome setters finalize and tweak their problems.  I feel that a lot of the credit of this even going off in a smash needs to go to the setters.  I thought they did a phenomenal job.  In every round they had problems that effectively separated the athletes so that a champion could emerge.  It was truly an art to watch.  After the setters were satisfied, and the LT11 crew had their meetings, it was only a matter of time before the flood of fans arrived.  The doors opened and it was literally a wave of people rushing to get the best seats.

The setters and the athletes did not disappoint.  Evolv was represented in the finals by new team member Alex Johnson, who is wicked cool and took some time to just chat.  Alex crushed it all day, but unfortunately it did not land her on the podium.  Daniel Woods defended his title, and Juliane Wurm edged out ms Puccio this year.  However, Alex still holds the national champion title, since Juliane is not a US citizen.

ABS Nationals will also be moving to a different location next year.  Which is a bummer, since I finally moved closer to it, it is moving away.  At least I got to witness this one.  It was an absolute blast.  Evolv is awesome, and I am always psyched to be representing them.  I got to meet new friends, I got to reconnect with old friends, I got to cheer on friends, and I got to see some kick ass climbing.  The setters did an amazing job and the athletes put on an incredible show.  Until next time.  Thanks Evolv.  Thanks USA Climbing.  It was a blast.

Evolv Pass

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Shaping part II

So I found out that I am an organic shaper.  Things turned out better when I just kind of went with the flow.  The more precise I tried to be, or the sharper the angle or edge I tried to create, just did not work out as well.  If I just went more with what felt good to hold on to, or what was pleasing to my sight and touch, I was happier with what was created.  Here’s my first batch.


The images are a little skewed because of the boundaries of the post, but if you click on them you can get a real feel for the shape.

Now the next step is to try and figure out what to do with them.  Here’s hoping something awesome.

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Alright.  Let’s see what happens.

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Tomorrow will come.

Well, if you fall going for the send, all you can do is stand up and try again.

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For a good while, when I started climbing I was on the lookout for some climbing specific shirts.  You know, something that was for climbers, with some killer design.  I love me some t-shirts.  Then I started seeing ads for Friksn climbing. (frik-shuhn, just like friction)  Specifically, the “Scout” tee.  I was impressed.   I thought it was one of the coolest designs for a climbing shirt that I had ever seen.  I still do.


It just so happened that Friksn had a booth set up at the Earth Treks Roc Comp that I attended a little time later.  I started talking with the owner, Justin, and he gave me the scoop.  In a nutshell, Friksn tees are designed for climbers.  %100 double knit turkish cotton, wicked comfortable, with a “climbers cut” and narrower sleeves.  The “climber’s cut” allows for the shirts to fit comfortably under a harness without bunching on the waist.  The narrower sleeves help so that the climber doesn’t have that annoying twisting from bigger sleeves when they are sweaty or moving around a lot.  I am a giant fan of these shirts.  Except for a couple of my decade old t-shirts that I just love, these are the most comfortable shirts I have ever worn.  They are specifically made for the climber’s build and you couldn’t really ask for more in a tee.


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Lessons Learned

Hopefully my words on this lesson learned can help, provoke thought, be interesting, or just be.

Today, was not my best day of climbing.  I hit up Bradley with friends.  I’m always psyched on Bradley because it is very close to where I live, plus I have a handful of awesome projects.  Today, however, as stoked as I was when I started, my attitude did not remain the same.  Today was a day that my ego did not stand very strong.  The lesson I learned today, again, is that climbing is an individual quest hopefully surrounded by a solid support system.  I got within my own head today.  I stopped myself from remembering that climbing is what I put into it.  It is solely on me.  Yes it helps when I have good friends around me to help me climb better and get psyched, but it is what I choose to do with that encouragement that decides what it does.  If I know that I am climbing with stronger climbers, sometimes I get it in my head that I should be that good.  And when I do that, I do not give myself enough, or sometimes any, credit for what I have achieved as a climber.  I think that I should be that good, or why should I even try, or I just watched you do it easily why would I want to continue to struggle on it.  I did that today.  I got in my own head.  I got in my own way.  I did not allow myself to fully accept that who I am as a climber is enough because I have worked hard on getting there. 

I think often that I have learned and accepted this lesson; that climbing is an individual quest, it is not a competition.  But I find that I have to relearn it more than I would ever like.  I have a great passion for climbing and I have worked hard on my path.  It is my hard work that has gotten me here.  It is my friends that I have chosen to surround myself that have helped raise me up to get here.  It is me.  I do not need to be as good as anyone else, I do not need to look to others to see where I stand.  I need only to look to myself and my heart to remind myself that I am a damned good climber and I deserve my best effort despite what anyone else does or says.

Climbing is my journey.

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Power Struggle 6

Last weekend, Saturday to be more exact, the 11th to be even more exact was the Power struggle 6, held at my local gym Prime Climb.  I’ve been to a good number of bouldering competitions, and this one is definately my favorite.  I am probably biases since it is my home gym and I have a lot of friends there and a home of sorts.  But, it’s still my favorite.  And this one, again, did not dissappoint.  Now due to work, I have not been climbing barely at all in the last couple of months.  Even in the gym.  So I knew that my strength would not be up to par.  I got my hardest problems out of the way  first, then just tried to fill my card with what my diminishing strength could muster.  Overall, I was happy with my performance.  I knew that it wasn’t what I could have achieved had I been able to climb at all in the weeks leading up to it, but I was happy.

All of the problems at this competition were solid.  I feel like the grades were right on the money.  For CT at least.   That’s alright, CT breeds strong climbers.  (Especially with Prime Climb’s upcoming training wall, updates soon)  Every problem I tried, I was happy on.  I was even happy when they threw me off because that just meant I had more to try later.  I got my five on my score card and was satisfied.  My fingers weren’t.  But that’s nothing a good after-comp beer can’t help.  Mad props to all of the setters for this one.  Their A games definitely showed. 

The finals keep improving at this comp.  The climbers were strong and they made a good showing.  The women’s winners were 1-3, Molly (who I haven’t seen before, Galina Parfenov, and Christine Fontanella.  The Men rounded off with first place going to Ty Landman, followed by Josh Larson and Shane Messer. 

I think that my favorite part about this competition is just how laid back it feels.  There is no incredible crazy drive to beat everyone else, it’s just a good time where everybody comes with their A-game, to hang out, cheer on friends, and have fun. 

Over the past year I’ve been working on some projects with Prime Climb.  This past summer I remodeled their bouldering cave and I’ve also buitl two volumes for the gym.  All three of these projects of mine were in use for this comp.  This was the first time that the cave has been used for competition problems and both of my volumes were up on the walls for everybody to see and climb on.  It was a pretty cool feeling.

This is my buddy Mike Bowhser attacking the very first volume I ever made.  I am a carpenter by trade and I thought I could make a volume, so I tried.  And lo and behold, it worked.  The angles on this one were a little hard.  I strongly dislike compound angles and this one was full of them.  I can’t draft, so I was really just making this up on the fly.  It turned out awesome, it’s solid, and climbers seeem to really dig it. 

This is third place winner Shane Messer after he breezed by my most recent volume.  This one has a three foot by three foot base and sticks out from the wall about two feet.  This one, although bigger, was a little easier to construct.  I had already established how to make the structure and attachment with the first one.  So this one went a good bit quicker to make.  It has almost 60 t-nuts in it plus a little run of grip tape.  I was really pleased with how this one turned out.  It seemed that crowd and friend approval was high as well.  I think the next one I make will be a little smaller.  Maybe one that only takes one person to carry.

The pictures are courtesy of my friend Jeremy Marcantonio. 

My free days on the weekend as of late have been taken up by working on Prime Climb’s new training wall.  One half will be a system wall, the other half will be wall of campus rungs and the like.  There will be updates on that, so check back.  Even on my weekends I have not been getting to climb much.  On the bright side, we’re starting on our downhill path at work, so evenings and weekends will be starting to open up a bit more.  Which is good, cause I need to climb.

Category:  Projects     

Junkyard Dog. Sent.

So it’s one of those projects, when you’re first introduced to it, you can touch it, maybe make a couple moves, but that’s about it.  A few years ago, a friend introduced me to Junkyard dog.  A really nice looking rock with with an incredible line right up the middle.  When you’re sitting at the base, it does not look too intimidating, but when you see the rock from a distance, it’s almost hard to believe it’s got quite an overhang to it.  Over the past seasons, the sequence was getting unlocked, the moves easier, and the problem doable.  At the end of last spring, I had dialed down every move up to the crux.  A big move up left to a really decent angled bulge/ledge.  For whatever reason, I could not land it.

I hit it once, solid, surprised.  Fell off going for the next right sidepull.  Damn.

Then work took over.  I wasn’t able to get back out to it until later this fall.  Conditions were near perfect, no crowding at the rocks, and just a day to throw myself at it.  I spent a good chunk of a saturday just getting myself refamiliarized with it.  Still getting stuck at the crux.  Time to move on to other problems.  I return the next saturday with with a purpose and a calm.  Again, I work it to the crux.  Still not connecting.  But the throw is getting consistent.  I know that I can land it.  I’ve landed that move a hundred times before elswhere, so i know that this will go down.  But for whatever reason, I just can’t connect.  My hands are getting torn, my shoulder is already bad.  I give it one more go, and “slap”, it sticks.  I move through it like it was a warmup.  I move through it like I was expecting it.  The finish takes a little bit because it is entirely new territory, but it finishes pretty easily.  I get to the top of the rock, and I am psyched!  But at the same time, I’m feeling “ok, what’s next”.  I think every climber has experienced it.  You succeed in your mission, you finally finish in minutes, what it’s taken hours, weeks, months, to accomplish.  And your mind goes to the next one, already.  It’s a weird feeling.  My mind is completely excited, but at the same time wants to move on to more, harder, the next one.  And believe me, I have plenty of next ones on my mind.


Looking at the video, yes I dabbed.  But who cares?  I don’t have an 8a.nu scorecard.  I don’t have a whole climbing community looking to see what I send next.  I have me and my friends.  I have my personal challenges and travels and failures and triumphs.  Junkyard dog, on this day, was a Triumph!  I was out at one of my favorite places to climb, with a couple really good friends, (big ups to Mike Bowsher and Bill Koenig), with perfect weather, and a perfect line.

This day, I was happy.  This day, I am able to rack my mind over the next problem.  This day, was good.

Category:  Everyday ,Projects     

Fall season and Dark Horse kicks off

I sprained my left thumb earlier this past week.  Needless to say, I’m not climbing for awhile.  And as I type this, I’m stuck not climbing on probably the most beautiful climbing day this fall has had to offer.  The past few months my job has provided me many hectic hours and many extra weekend work days.  So my fall season hasn’t even started yet.  Which sucks!  I’ve been able to get outside once to the little boulder field next to my apartment, but that’s been it. 

With my crazy work schedule, this weekend has been the first where I’ve had both Saturday and Sunday off in probably two months.  I was completely psyched to compete at the first of the Dark Horse Series, yesterday, put on by Metrorock.  And then I sprained my thumb.  So I went anyway and cheered on my buddy Mike Bowsher.  He ended up placing third in advanced.  Pretty sweet.  Even though I couldn’t climb, I still had a good time.  Metrorock, once again, put on a killer comp with awesome problems and a lot of hard, strong climbers. 

The problems all looked sick, all looked solid.  And the finals were no dissappointment.  The first Women’s and Men’s were something like I’ve never seen.  Women’s number one kicked off by getting on top of one of “The Boobs”, then with a series of overhead slopers, had to create tension to slowly, one by one, get their body far enough over to straddle between a solid foot ledge and the other “Boob”.  Then, they were tasked by getting upright on that next Boob, jumping to a Dyno on a small jug, and finishing of in “The Cipher”.  Real sweet. 

The Men’s first final problem didn’t even looked finished.  It started with an upside down “the Boss” where they had to push themselves up onto one of “The Boobs”.  From there, they literally had to fall forward and catch themselves on the other “Boob”.  Utilize a bubbly foot hold, get themselves upright on the “Boob” and from there, Dyno straight up to the “Cipher”.  With a dyno that I can only compare to a dunk in basketball.  With an empty problem on the wall, it didn’t look possible.  But I believe all but one male finished it.  It was a show worth watching. 

Rob D’Anastasio, I think was the show stopper, by reaching underneath his high left arm to secure a two finger pocket with his right hand, releasing the left hand, and completely controlling his downward motion by catching the grip taped volume on the opposite side of the pocket.  Men’s final number 4.  The only climber to complete the problem, and that crux. 

All in all, a kick ass competition.  Now I know that I have to do the smart thing and take care of my thumb, so that I can be healthy enough to finally hit the outside on my Thanksgiving break.  And to bring my A-game to crush at the 2nd stop on this year’s Dark Horse Series.  Dec 3rd.  Till then, I’m going to ice my thumb.

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Pumpkin Patch, FA

So I have this little boulder field about a 5 minute walk away from my apartment.  There’s maybe 20-25 small to medium sized boulders there, and maybe 4 of them have climbable stuff on them.  And so far I have found only 2 of those to have worthwhile lines.  I’ve been to them off and on over the past 2 1/2 years.  It’s not top shelf climbing, but its fun, its rock, and its close.  There is this one particular line that I’ve been eyeing everytime I’ve been.  I always hopped on and gave it a go, but I could never find anything positive enough through the crux to continue.  After all the tries, and seasons, and getting stronger – today, the move stuck.  As soon as that right hand landed in that little two finger dish, I knew it was good.  It took me a couple of go’s  to figure out the remaining, but it went!  I called it Pumpkin Patch.  I’m giving it V6 really because of the crux. 

It sent, it was awesome, and it felt good.  I sat on top of that rock for a little while, sunny sky, perfect breeze, and the colors of the woods changing around me.  It was pretty perfect.  It probably won’t be a classic.  It’s definately not going to be a destination spot.  But it was an awesome problem, that I found, worked, unlocked, and conquered.

Category:  Projects