Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Americana Exotica.

Picture sequence is from Dec 2014, I think.  You can click to enlarge.  I tried this on and off for about 5 years maybe, dedicating a bunch of days in 2013 and it finally went down winter 2014.  

I utilized the different "cheater" beta for the undercling move.  The conventional approach was to cross left hand and use it as an undercling sidepull, but I gastoned with my right hand instead which looks and feels like a shoulder wrecker.  In fact it is shoulder wrecker - so about 5 tries was all i would get before tweaking my shoulder for a week or so.  But it allows you to skip some really hard slopey pinches, which felt impossible for me and probably go at v9/10.  This "cheater" way is probably v8/9, but it's subjective and nigh impossible to grade a one move problem (sorry for the cliche!).  Only saying this b/c I can see the 8/9 grade if I get on my tippy toes and peek over the fence.  But 9/10 is definitely beyond anything i can muster.  As for spotting, thanks to friends Chufftimus Prime and Shia LeChuff.  Sir Chuff-a-lot was taking a nap i think.  

The rock quality is high, and it was condition dependent for me.  It's a relatively unique problem with perfect one-pad underclings that allowed for ample thumb trickery for some pinch-like attacks.  Movement quality is also high and safety is not an issue as the landing over the crux is relatively flat.  

Monday, August 11, 2014


IMG 2264 from Mike on Vimeo.

Borderline 5.13a 
Sent!  My 3rd 13a.  Never thought I'd get to this grade.  However, an insidious pattern has emerged--  
I need at least one no-hands rest to send at this difficulty: 

Straight Outta Compton -- 12d… no-hands kneebar halfway up the route.   
Energizer 5.13a -- Three to four no-hands rests in overhanging cave. 
Corrosion 5.13a -- One double kneebar no-hands rest before the roof crux.   
Borderline 5.13a -- One no-hands kneebar rest at the sloper crux about 1/3 of the way up the route.   

According to this pattern, Warlords 13a and Equalizer 13a will be much more difficult for me because neither of them contain a no hands rest.   

Route 4x4s in the gym seem to be helpful.  Last year, route 4x4 training preceded sends of Urban Decay 12c and Straight Outta Compton.   As soon as I restarted route 4x4s this year, Borderline went down. 

Technological advantages: 
  1. 9.4 ion sterling rope 
  2. Arcteryx harness 
  3. Sportiva futuras 
  4. Hot pink chalkbag from australia.   
  5. 3 kinds of chalk:  Liquid chalk + Bison chalk + Black Diamond White Gold. 
  6. 5.10 kneepad with sticky rubber. 
  7. Gu gel with 40 mg caffeine. 
  8. Coconut water. 
  9. Alkaline water. 
  10. Squid for stick clipping first draw.

Thanks to:
  1. DG for belay
  2. KO for low beta and no hands kneebar suggestion
  3. MB for permadraws and HD video.

Sunday, March 31, 2013


Went to Bishop to boulder at the Buttermilks and sport climb at Owens River Gorge.  Some long-standing bouldering projects finally went down while others continued to thwart my efforts.

Here's a shot by Colby of me sending Flyboy sit V8... it should've been an onsight, but i got it 2nd try.  My onsight attempt got me to the lip, where i blew off and missed all the pads.  The buttermilks gods were kind to me and didn't snap my ankle or right arm, both of which hit the ground.  The right arm tricep was pretty wrecked for the rest of the week.

We stayed at "The Pit" at the Pleasant Valley Campground.  The manager was pretty uptight, and we ended up on his shitlist when people in our didn't pay within 30 minutes of arrival.  For the entire week, he would enter our campsite at 6am and curse loudly muttering things like, "It's two goddamn dollars.  Two dollars!"  "Pay to stay... Goddammit!!"  Of course, we had paid, but his tracking system seemed flawed.  That dude, combined with the wind, made the pit a rather unpleasant experience.  Here's Bill fantasizing about something, not sure what.

It was nice when Pilar and John showed up with the dogs, Othello and Lolita.  They of course did their thing and went on a scavenging rampage.
Othello above.

Lolita.  Below, one of the Beastie Boys gave us a visit...

Colby snapping shots of 7 Spanish Angels...  It took me several goes to send this one.  Even when i stuck the dyno i sort of didn't believe it.

After 7 Spanish, we went to Jedi Mind Tricks, where we all got sun burned and dehydrated.  
Bill attempting Lidija's Mouth v3.

Here's the send list:
Sheepherder v2
East Side Story v3 (highball)
Fly Boy v6
Fly Boy sit v8
Bring the Ruckus/Seven Spanish Angels v6
Jedi Mind Tricks v4 (highball)
Suspended in Silence v5 (highball)
Essential Peabody v0
North Face Direct v2 (highball)
The Knobs v5
Change of Heart v6

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

LRC and HP40

This is some super tardy content from November of last year when i took a few days to go bouldering in Little Rock City and HP40. The entry sticker for LRC...Thanksgiving Weekend conditions were almost perfect.  A little cold in the mornings and warm in the sun.  Some of the crimpy problems in LRC did get greasy though. 

Takako on Pocket Pool v4.

My lunch. Jam with Justin's chocolate hazelnut butter. Probably better than creatine monohydrate.

Yusuke doing super mario v8 from the sit start.

Me attempting Mortal Kombat at HP40. Super classic v4. like everything else at hp, it was pretty challenging for the grade.

Some food in Gadsden Alabama. Note that golden deep fried hue. It cloaks 95% of the food served in that region of the country.

Me on Bumboy v3. One of the hardest V3s i've ever tried.

Much thanks to Yusuke and Takako for allowing me to tag along and crash in their hotel. Also for taking some fabulous photos.

Day 1 (Thu)  NOv 15
V6 The Wave - Flash
V5 Genghis Khan - 3 tries
V4 - Mystery Groove? don't remember name but the one with tree and cool fin feature.
V3 Two Can Sam horiz jug crack to tiny fist crack
V6 Kingpin? hop slab
V6 Super Mario extension

Day 2 (Fri) nov 16
V3 - Sternum mantle
V5 - Sternum
V1 - area outside dragon area
V4 - Tri Star
V5 - Crack of Doom

Day 3 (Sat)  Nov 17
V1 - Dragon Tail - flash
V4 - Dragon Lady - flash
V7 Midway - flash
V7 A Face in the crowd - flash
V4 Pocket pulling - flash
V5 Diesel Power - rp also called "Whaley of the bell" and sometimes v6
V2 Pancake Mantle - flash

Day 4 (Sun)  Nov 18
dyno v5
random v3

Day 5 (Mon) HP40  Nov 19
bumboy v3
centerpede v4

Day 6 (Tues) HP 40  Nov 20
Popeye v5
Hammerhead v5

Wed Nov 21
Yusuke / Takako drive me from Gadsden to Oxford.  I rent passat with no cruise control drive from oxford to birmingham and then north to nashville.  Big mistake.. should have flown out of Atlanta, where i arrived.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Klondike Bar.

What would a climber do for a klondike bar?  Campus 11d naked? Sure!
Cannabis Crag behind Kraft Mountain.  The route is Synapse Collapse.  Glad I was not the belayer.  
What will a climber do for a klondike bar? Campus 11d naked. from Hotel Sierra on Vimeo.

Monday, February 25, 2013

F* this sport. 5.12b.

I last tried this route 1,380 days ago back in 2009.  At that time, i couldn't even pull the opening crux.  Alas, about one ton of beer later, (averaging two 12 oz. bottle per day), the deed is done.  My pathetic attempt from 4 years ago can be found here. Thanks to Dan L for the super belay and John D for the video. 

F*** this Sport 5.12b from Hotel Sierra on Vimeo.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


1October 2012... Bloodline 12b (7b) … only did the first pitch at 12b. I normally can't climb this hard, but the route suited me in several ways: tricky slab crux to no hands rest, then to relatively easier pockets. If you were to reverse that sequence, I'd have to work twice as hard. Cruxes at the top are more beautiful, but man they kick my ass. Since I have no endurance, if I can get the crux out of the way and then run for the chains, I can usually get it. The key at the top was not futzing around on little toes and instead using hand foot matches to boost yourself to the next good pocket. That seems to be the going wisdom at The Hood… hand foot match on the jug/pocket your hand is in and stand… the bigger the move the better so you eliminate heinous tiny intermediates. Rope running behind your leg is a bad habit that automatically marks you as a gumby, so don't do it!
Demonstration of an active belay. Of course, if I fall at this point, I deserve a little air.
Hanging out in Soul Cave.
Thanks to P for the belay and A for the photos!

Monday, June 25, 2012

A nymph and a prophet.

There was nothing worth posting since I injured my hand and then my ankle over the last year.  I stopped climbing.  This left me with no counterweight to the monotonous dirge of soul crushing spreadsheets and endless emails.  I was forced to rely on alcohol and guitar to keep my sanity.  I discovered that a defiled spirit spawns morphological offspring: I became fat and weak like my fellow denizens of the fluorescent office kingdom.   It was time to return to the only thing that's fun and keeps you looking good in the mirror...

Triassic Sands.  Paul McCartney look alike peeks over the ledge.
Bouldering in the forest with T and Y.  The lighting through the canopy reminded me of the greek nymphs that inhabit forests.

 Here's a strong fella onsighting Straight Shot (11d) in First Creek.  A nice photo by D rapping on Gin Ricky or Rob Roy at the moment his chalkbag flew off his harness at the crux.  I think the ascensionist is named after the founder of a north american religion.  

Monday, June 13, 2011

Epinephrine. 2,000 ft. 5.9.

5.9 trad was putting Ryan to sleep, so he inserted a dyno to spice things up.  We decided to do this route several weeks ago.  Stashed gear the day before, and did the uber early start (wake up at 2:30am).  Started the climb at 5:09am.
I think this is me before setting off on penultimate chimney pitch, which i found to be the most challenging.  My foot actually slipped while way above the last piece.  Would not have been pretty.  That was a low point of inattention.  Chimneys felt pretty safe although strenuous.  Didn't feel the need to place pro and instead relied on the one or two bolts in the middle.  Not the most manly approach, since that makes it a "sport" chimney, but burrowing back to place gear looked like a recipe for rope drag.  Surprisingly the #4 Camalot came in handy, easily placeable on practically every pitch.  Not critical or necessary.  Could have done the climb with nothing larger than #3, and single rack.  We followed the handren guide advice of single to #4 and double 1-3.
Ryan on the final chimney pitch.  The fun ended after that when we got hit with blistering sun heat on top of the Black Tower.  I guess that's the price you pay if you climb Red Rock in June.  Was nice to have Black Velvet all to ourselves though.
We topped out the climb (final "scramble") at 3:22pm. Sadly my knee acted up and I couldn't bend it by the time we reached the top and signed the register.  The 1 hour descent turned into a 4 hour slog, as I hobbled and walked backwards to avoid  bending my left knee.  We split up and I got lost, ending up on top of some white slabs.  We also ran out of water at the top, so it was getting a tad uncomfortable.  All in all, a great experience, and relatively casual climbing.  Highly recommended.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Wonderstuff 5.12d.

3 years ago, I first tried this route. Video of attempts here...

Wonderstuff finally went down last week after a concerted effort. I guess my prescience was real after all! Soft and short, but I'll take it… Send was preceded with several weeks of ARC training (endurance), less lumberjack breakfasts, a little better sleep, and the tactic of working backwards from the top of the route instead of a ground up approach (wiring the final moves and linking up). Also snacking on real food (fruits, sandwich) instead of power bars. Not sure if any of that made a difference since I skipped the final bolt on the send, thus turning it into a 3 bolt boulder problem. With the first draw stick clipped, I just realized that I only clipped two draws. I think I subconsciously turned this into a tall V6/7 boulder problem, sort of like High Plains Drifter, but with much higher percentage moves. As with most things, luck was highly involved as the conditions were perfect with the sun warming the rock so it didn't freeze my fingers, while a chilly breeze kept the crimps dry. If you can boulder v5/6 you should get on this route!

Sorry, no video or pics. I've been lazy in that department and experiencing so few successful redpoints, it hasn't been worth it. Plus sport climbing vids are sort of boring without a pro job. Heading off to Flagstaff to boulder/sport this weekend, so perhaps we may yet see some video/pics. I'm a little worried that sport climbing at red rock is poor preparation for the confusing and technical roofs of Priest Draw. Alas! it's too late to do anything training-wise.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Really Sad.

Three Sad Problems. from Hotel Sierra on Vimeo.

A short 3 min video with Strength in Numbers followed by Professional Widow v4 highball, and then Pow Pow, a guidebook v8 but consensus v7, and probably v6. Shout outs to Randy and Leslie for the camera work, spotting, encouragement, and crashpads.

I think at the 3 min mark you can see I almost slip and fall off the top of Pow Pow after sending. Seems to be a bad habit I picked up in the Gunks, where I routinely slid on pine needles and autumn leaves, falling off the top of boulder problems into talus pits filled with scree and mud.

Also, probably not audible, but on Professional Widow, my left hand started sliding off the penultimate hold; i remember hearing my fingernails scraping the volcanic ash while reaching right for the finishing jug. Randy heard it as well and got pretty worried. Fortunately the music obscures these sordid details of my shoddy rockcraft.

Monday, January 10, 2011

So Sad.

Sunset over the Sierras as we drove away from the Volcanic Tablelands.  

Rio's Crack.:  Wow that was desparate thanks to zero feet.  
Do anything you can to get to the first sinker crack for your left hand.  I used the dangerous huecos on the face as "drive-by" holds.  Won't be repeating that anytime soon.

Professional Widow, sort of a highball.
It's tall, but never got too scary because the holds and moves are relatively positive up high.  You do have to commit to a two-finger pocket lock off to a one pad crimp, but conditions favored my easily frozen hands because although the rock was cold, the sun shined bright.  Also helped that this rarely climbed boulder was not polished by a horde of greasy-pawed climbers.  It's also a very photogenic problem for the Sads, as it offers open air instead of the standard scree or boulders right behind you.  Not as scary as Jedi Mind Tricks or White Rastafarian.

Pow Pow: Wolverine guide says v8, but v7 if you're honest.  So in a rare moment of honesty, I'll have to agree.  If Midnight Lightning is v8, then this is definitely easier.  In fact, it's easier than Lawnmower Man which is rated v7.  So maybe it's a 6/7?  Maybe I just did it wrong.

Hot Pants: Why did I waste time and skin on this pebble?  A key hold is polished to a shine, and I had to employ a flesh molding ring lock on the starting horizontal crack.  Painful, slippery, and short.  Like a line of coke, I guess you do it just because it's there.  That's what people tell me, at least.

Randy on Strength in Numbers v5.  His left hand is on the crux hold.  
Strength in Numbers: Best problem in the mid-grades at the Sads imho.  If you're there, you must climb it.  It's like the Hulk at the Happies.  Just like the Hulk there's always a "psyched" crew with humongous mattress-like crash pads protecting the climb, so even though the guide gives it a heart with wings, it's quite safe.

- Rio's Crack v6
- Pop a Wheelie v4
- Professional Widow v4
- Pow Pow v7
- Strength in Numbers v5
x Lawnmower Man v7
x Hot Pants v5