Sunday, July 14, 2013

Park Season

With daily temperatures in the Front Range consistently exceeding 90 degrees, I've been finding myself up at higher elevations quite a bit this year. In terms of fitness, I feel better than I have in at least three years. There are two key reasons for this: 

1. Climbing at CATS - I can't understate what effect climbing at CATS consistently has had on my climbing. Body tension used to be my biggest weakness in climbing and I am now able to rely on it regularly when climbing outside. I have also been a lot more motivated in my climbing because at CATS I regularly session with my good friends.

2. Losing weight - It's really a simple concept: if you weigh less it's easier to pull yourself up a rock. I have dropped 10 pounds in the last 5 months and I have only seen positive effects from this.

Lately I have spent some of my time outside trying to send two four star Colorado classics: Dark Horse at Guanella Pass and Whispers of Wisdom in RMNP. I don't care too much to argue about the grade of either climb, I will just simply say both climbs are powerful, tall, aesthetic, and scary. I managed to piece both of them together, Dark Horse in June and Whispers this month.

I also realized everything I posted about (besides Whispers) in my last post is out of season right now. For now I'm going to focus on Gobot v11 and Bushpilot v11, plus maybe something at Lincoln. Hopefully my friend Bob will continue his weekend flights from Baltimore to Denver to help me send.

Whispers of Wisdom v10

Topping out Whispers

Monday, May 13, 2013

What's Next

Ever since sending Bambi a month ago, I've been searching Colorado for my next project. I've put some work into a few climbs in the Front Range and I'd like to try to send them by the end of the year:

Whispers of Wisdom v10 (RMNP)

Yesterday I hiked up to Whispers of Wisdom for an early season session and was psyched to find it mostly dry and climbable. During a quick session with Bob and Tiffany, I was able to work out good beta for the second half of the climb. Unfortunately the second hold was wet and I was unable to try the climb from the start. I'm definitely excited to go finish this climb, as it's one of the best in the state.

Triton v11/12 (Arthur's Rock)

I hiked up to Triton last weekend and got to try the climb in amazing conditions. I managed every move individually and think I can probably put it together with a few more days of work. Unfortunately it's getting really hot everywhere outside of the alpine, so this one might have to wait until fall.

Desperate Houseboys Traverse v10 (Elkland)

Another cool climb up by Estes. The climb revolves around a difficult traverse on slopers into a committing topout. I did all the moves quickly and am psyched to head back up there soon to finish it. 

Added Planet v10 (Arthur's Rock)

I put some tries into this one in less than ideal conditions, but it's a good line with fun movement. I still need to stick the big move (pictured below), but I'll be going to Arthur's a lot and should be able to piece this one together.

It's pretty amazing to live in a place with so much rock and such pretty scenery. I feel fortunate to be so close to all this rock, and I definitely am not going to waste my chances for sends this year. By January 1st I hope to have all of these climbs sent.

Dream Lake- May 12, 2013

Friday, January 25, 2013

A week in Hueco Tanks

There isn't much to say about Hueco that hasn't been said before.The bouldering is amazing, the concentration of climbs is virtually unbeatable, and it never rains. Maybe I'm getting soft in my old age, but the strict regulations are growing on me. As long as you get your shit together and make reservations, you're able to climb on some of the most amazing boulders on the planet with virtually no one around.

I've spent more time in Hueco than in any other bouldering area, and I feel pretty good about my climbing there. This week I was able to add two more v11's to my Hueco ticklist:

Climb Grade Year
Diaphanous Sea V12 2007
A. Intruder V11 2010
Dark Age V11 2013
El Techo de los Tres B V11 2013
Power of Landjager V11 2009
Black Mamba V10 2007
Free Willy V10 2007
Full Service V10 2008
Loaded with Power V10 2007
Mojo V10 2007
Power of Silence V10 2009
The Wonder Dyno V9 2007
Dirty Martini on the Rocks V9 2007

Dark Age is a power endurance boulder that starts low and finishes on the classic V6, See Spot Run. This is one I tried for two days in early 2011, figuring out beta that changed the crux from 4 or 5 annoying tick-tack moves to one hard dyno off a miserable crimp. After falling on the V6 topout two years ago, it felt good to put it away quickly this year on my first day.

El Techo de los tres B has been a serious battle for me. Although I did all the moves on a previous trip, I had never felt close to a send. This year was very different. I got through the crux move to the fingerlock a few times, only to struggle with the come in move. After making a change in my beta, I rested and then sent on my next go. It felt really good to send a climb that had always felt so hard in the past. However, even better was the feeling of figuring out each move, staying calm, and then putting it together.

Bloody Flapper v4
Bob on Dean's Journey
I left a few climbs still undone, most notably Scream (close) and Barefoot on Sacred Ground (not so close). Tiffany was also super close to both Dark Age and Free Willy, so we will definitely be back soon. Stay tuned for a longer video with climbing from me, Tiff, Bob, James, and Patrick!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A weekend in Vegas

I'm guessing most people don't fly to Vegas for a weekend and then abstain from drinking and gambling and wake up every morning at 6:30 AM. I'm also guessing most people who go to Vegas have no idea how beautiful the climbing, hiking, and scenery is 20 miles outside the city at Red Rocks.

In 3 short days, Red Rocks quickly became one of my favorite areas. The crazy thing is we barely saw much of it at all. We spent all three days at the Kraft boulders and Bob, Tiff, and I methodically ticked off the area classics. We also each managed to send a v10- Bob and I sending "Stake your Claim" and Tiffany ticking off "Scare Tactics" (second go!).

Tiffany sticking the crux on Scare Tactics v10

Me with Tiffany's newest Crimp Chimps chalk bag

In a month and a half the three of us are heading down to Hueco Tanks. I'm feeling fit in the gym and I am excited to go on a week-long trip. 2012 was a down year for me in terms of hard sends outside, so you can pretty well guess what my new year's resolution will be. More updates to come.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

14,000 feet in the air

So, I'm not really sure who reads this, but as some of you might know I am starting a new job at Mapquest on Monday. I'm really excited about this, as I think it's going to be a great opportunity for my life and my career. The job is in Denver, and I am anticipating having a lot less free time due to the job and the (1 hour each way?) commute.

I had some time off in between jobs and was trying to decide what to do with my free time. Because I live in Colorado, doing something outside seemed like a natural (ha) choice. I don't hike enough, and when I have in the past it's been mostly walking around a boulder field miserably with a giant crash pad on my back.

Looking for boulders at Rocky Mountain with James back in 2008

So I got the idea to try and do a fourteener. For those of you who aren't familiar here are some cool facts that I totally did not just steal from Wikipedia:

1. A fourteener is a mountain whose summit exceeds 14,000 ft. above sea level. 
2. Only peaks with over 300 ft of prominence are considered in this qualification
3. There are 88 of these mountains in the United States, of which 53 are in Colorado.

Here is a graph illustrating how awesome Colorado is compared to the rest of the United States:

On Saturday 9/8 and then again on Saturday 9/15, Tiffany and I went out with hopes of conquering two of these mountains. Most (all?) of the fourteeners in the state have established trails, and due to differences in starting elevation, terrain, weather conditions, and distance, the degree of difficulty can vary greatly.

The two we chose to do were Longs Peak near Estes Park, CO and Mt. Bierstadt near Georgetown, CO. What was interesting is that while Mt. Bierstadt is widely considered one of the easiest fourteeners, Longs Peak is widely considered one of the hardest. Here are some stats:

Hike Elevation Gain Distance (Miles) Class 3 Terrain Avg. Deaths per Year Time
Bierstadt 2,850 ft. 7 0.25 miles 0 4 hours
Longs Peak 5,100 ft. 15 1.6 miles 2 10 hours
We did Longs Peak first, and with proper planning we managed a very successful hike. 

About 2 miles from the summit

We woke up at 4:45 AM and began the hike at 6:18 AM. With the difficulty of the top section, it's very important to summit before likely afternoon thunderstorms arrive. We were feeling great at around 9:30 AM with about 1.6 miles left in the hike and I foolishly drank most of my water, not knowing how difficult the last section would be. The last 1.6 miles took nearly as long as the first 6 miles, and we reached the top around 12:10 PM. At the top we overhead a man saying it was his 70th birthday. I found this to be absolutely incredible. While I'm not an experienced hiker by any stretch, I am a fairly accomplished and sponsored climber who has been very active in the last 14 years of my life. On top of this I am only 28 years old, and I can say without a doubt that this was the most difficult hike of my life.

Tiffany posing as we begin our descent

We made it back to the car starving and exhausted, but by next Saturday we were ready to try another one. It was a pretty interesting experience to follow one of the most difficult fourteeners with possibly the easiest, but Mt. Bierstadt was a beautiful and still challenging hike (plus dogs were allowed!).

For this one the planning was quite different. We woke up around 8:45 AM and began the hike bright and early around 11:00 AM. There were people, dogs, little kids, and even overweight people, but the hike was still great. Doing it in 4 hours round trip was not that easy, as the hike is more gradual than Longs Peak and still features some Class 3 scrambling near the top. 

If a Westie can do it, so can you!

Anyway, I loved doing these hikes, and felt that my timing of starting work Monday could not be better. I feel refreshed and focused, not to mention I have a new goal of 5 more fourteeners in 2013!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Père Lachaise Cemetery

Here are some photos I took at the Père Lachaise Cemetery:


Today is my last day here, and I'm skipping a return to the bouldering at Fontainbleau to catch up on more sights that I haven't seen in the city. I've been seeing a lot of art in the past few days, and I'll likely do another post tonight or tomorrow.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The World Mind Sports Games

I just returned from Lille, where I competed in the 2nd World Mind Sports Games on the US Team for the game of Go.

The venue
The event was very intense, with participants forming 30 teams from around the world. The way it works is each team has three players, and each round consists of games between two teams. The team with two or three wins is the winner of the round.

The tournament room

As usual, the Asian countries were dominant at the event, going 1-2-3 and sweeping the medals. Our first round opponent was eventual gold medal winning team China Taipei 1.

In general, when playing a much stronger opponent, I try to complicate the game and play chaotically. The idea is to entice the opponent into overplaying and starting a fight where the result is unclear. In contrast, I think that playing simply against a stronger opponent is more difficult.

I tried this against China Taipei and made a game out of it, but eventually was forced to resign. My teammates also lost so we lost 3-0.

Round 2 we played Italy, and this time my opponent was much weaker (around 1D AGA). He made a mistake on the top and I captured a large group, but he played well on the bottom and made the game playable. In the end I won by over twenty points and round 2 became a 3-0 win.

Round 3 was against Thailand, and I played well early despite a joseki mistake and captured some stones on the right side. My opponent was very strong, probably around 6D AGA. The game was very intense and close throughout, and I estimated myself behind by 1 - 3 points late. Unfortunately, I made a mistake in the endgame and became down about 8 - 10 points. At this point in the game I couldn't find a way to overcome the deficit and I resigned. My teammates were both losing as well, but on board 1, Thailand made a careless mistake late and lost 15 stones. He was forced to resign, but as a team we lost 1-2.

Round 4 was against Romania, and I played very poorly. My opponent was around my level (European 2D being about AGA 4D), and it was a game I needed to win. I made a terrible mistake early on and spent the rest of the game trying to come back, but in the end I lost by 1.5. My teammates both won, however, so we won the round 2-1.

Round 5 was against Hong Kong, another strong team from China. Despite my opponent's strength (AGA 6d or 7d), I played a very good game, one of my best in the tournament. I found a nice tesuji late that made the game very complicated, and after I failed to kill his stones I resigned. However, he remarked after that I should have continued playing, and this may have been the case. In the end we lost the round 3-0.

Overall, we finished 2-3, and the other USA team finished 2-3 as well. It was an exciting event, and I hope to be able to go to another one in the future. I'm happy to have had the opportunity to represent the US, and to increase exposure to the game of GO worldwide!

Gold medalists China Taipei (not sure why they gave kids champagne)