Wednesday, December 26, 2007

day 11 & 12

I didn't write last week about the prior weekend's events on Hard Boiled. Because I fell. Again. 3 times. And each time I fell at the same spot - throwing to that right hand crimp at the crux. However, last weekend I hit the crimp twice. And then fell. Twice. Whatever, it's progress. I still suck, but it's progress. Clearly, the road out of suckiness is long and hard.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Owl Tor is rad

Rain shut us down at Mr. Lee's, so we cranked it out at Owl Tor instead. Which reminds me, the Tor is rad. I got on Galla Galla Happy (13d), Better Than Life (13c), The Old Pro Skill (12d), and Chips Ahoy (12d). To my future self: before you get impressed with this list of routes you got on last weekend, let me remind you how bad you got killed on all of them. No redpoints. Although I did feel pretty strong and had a bunch of fun. I was particularly psyched that I got through the bottom of Galla Galla Happy and Better Than Life to the undercling.

Monday, December 3, 2007

day 10

Well, I fell three more times at the Hard Boiled crux. But elijah, aren't you tired of falling at the same spot every week? Yes. There's a small lip in the back of the left-hand pocket, way in there. Setting that two-finger pocket better could be key. I tried after falling on my third burn Saturday to milk that left hand, which made the next throw out right easier.

Monday, November 26, 2007

day 9

Day 9 on Hard Boiled. Three redpoint burns. Three falls at the crux. Whatever. Here she is, the object of my frustration: and here's Phil on Buddhist Palm: Thanks to Paul Dusatko for shooting these videos and putting them to rad music.

Monday, November 19, 2007

day 8

I'm not even going to try to think of clever titles for blog posts from now on. It's just 'day 8' - the eighth day this season I have spent working Hard Boiled. Communists must love climbing routes. It's cold, everything is blue/gray, everyone has serious expressions and rad facial hair, and at the end of the climbing day, before getting in line for communal potato soup, you get tattooed with a big government-standardized stamp marking your consecutive day attempting the same route you've been projecting since birth - 'day 8000'. I got on Hard Boiled four times on Saturday. That's a lot. It felt like a lot. My middle 2 goes were redpoint burns and on both attempts I fell throwing out right to the crux crimp. Things felt better though. Every week is a little better than the week before. There's a rythm I'm starting to feel and I'm changing little things like the speed of my footwork in the crux. Moving on the route is more natural and fluid. I feel a redpoint coming on. And I think my finger is getting better.

Monday, November 12, 2007

day 7

My seventh day of the season projecting Hard Boiled. I don't know what to say about it. I'm where I thought I would be at this point. The only difference between this and my experience working Better Than Life is my attitude. This time I expected to suffer. So, whatever. Here it is. It sucks, obviously. But no more than usual. Which reminds me - big up to Phil Requist for introducing me to 5.13 sport climbing. I shouldn't say that. Climbing routes is great. Honestly, what else would I be doing? And there's a reward at the top of every route I work hard to redpoint. Probably this process builds character or some shit. It must do something. Every season gets a little easier. My capacity for suffering gets a little bigger every year around March. Suffering, I suppose, always happens before a meaningful accomplishment. Which brings me back to Saturday. About two-thirds of the way up a 5.13b in Santa Maria I found an opportunity to, once again, expand my capacity to suffer. My lesson in attrition begins after my left hand lands in a three-finger pocket twenty feet from the chains of Hard Boiled. Twice I got to this point. Twice I paused here to shake the lactic acid from my right arm, chalked up, got psyched, then reached right to a two-finger pocket. On two redpoint burns I reached that two-finger pocket with my right hand, reached far left to another two-finger pocket, and twice I fired at the first hold of the crux. This is where I fell twice. I can visualize hitting that next crimp. My vision of me firing through the crux section is clearer now. Basically, I believe I'm where I need to be to redpoint this season.

Monday, November 5, 2007

climbing is the new yoga

I've never done yoga before. Before last Friday, that is. The day before climbing at the Tor. Bad idea. Yoga kicked my ass. I don't know what I was thinking. It must have been an arrogant moment when I thought I would jump in to this yoga class, dominate all their yoga stuff, then wake up the next day to crank at Santa Maria. So, I'm sitting in class, getting my hips all warmed up or whatever, while these tiny women start sitting down next to me. No worries - I bench press. And I climb. But I've heard stories - that these classes are gnarly, that these people are actually pretty leathery. And I'm believing none of it at this point. Fast forward through 45 minutes of 'down dog', and I am digging deep to not explode a testicle. There's frickin' sweat running off my face onto the little yoga mat, my everything is burning, I can't stop shaking, I might have crapped my pants, and the chick next to me has looked like a marble statue for the better part of an hour (and by 'chick' I mean 'hell spawn'). I felt them feeling sorry for me, like I had been in a horrible accident and was re-learning motor skills. Yoga is what I imagine Twister with Satan would be like. Fuck yoga. I got on Better Than Life on Saturday. Felt pretty strong but energy was low. Go figure, maybe it was the 60 minutes of Hell-pretzel action the night before that made me feel like a chew toy. Note to self: no more of that business before Tor day. My finger felt not better, the left ring finger I've been nursing for a couple months, so I made a short day of it. After warm ups on Power of Eating and Chips-A-Hoy, I bolt-to-bolted Better Than Life, then redpointed Chips and Auto Magic. My weight is down to a little under 190 lbs and things are feeling pretty strong, but this finger has got to get better. So, my plan is to stop climbing mid-week, do what I can on Saturdays at Santa Maria until the weather shuts us down for the season, then take some time to heal this winter. Taping between my knuckle and first joint helps a bunch too. Phil was absent on Saturday. No doubt, he was missed. But it was tons of fun nonetheless. It was me, Paul, Hawk and Elhanan - all friendly dudes, all psyched to be at the Tor on a good day. I had a lot of fun.

Monday, October 29, 2007

day 7, I mean 1

What would have been my seventh consecutive Saturday of the season projecting Hard Boiled at Mr. Lee's turned into my first day at Owl Tor. No complaints here - I frickin' love the Tor (and by 'love' I mean 'love/hate'). Truth be told, I was a little disappointed because I had spent the previous week working myself in to a nervous redpoint frenzy in anticipation of a day on my project. On the other hand, I passionately loathe my project. Phil, Paul, Brian and myself met Chris at the Tor. The gate across the road leading to the Tor, then on to Mr. Lee's, was closed due to 'Fire Danger'. It was raining and, though I am a responsible patron of our public lands, decided along with everyone else this was an inappropriate declaration by our natural resource custodians. The sign stated no one was to enter these lands, whether in a vehicle or on foot. Probably this is a symptom of the wildfires ravaging Southern California and the commitment of resources to that cause. But it was raining, we're responsible folks, we really wanted to climb... So, we parked outside and walked to the cliff. The Tor is a 10 minute walk in this scenario while Mr. Lee's is attained only after about an hour. Walking is not my thing, nor is it Phil's. Owl Tor it would be. First things first, Brian sent Power of Eating. Redpoints at Owl Tor are a big deal. Power of Eating is not the most glamorous route on the wall, and some will marginalize Brian for this reason, but I'm as proud of this redpoint as any I've seen. Brian performed exactly as I expected. The thing is, my expectations are ridiculous. He dispatched this route very quickly - third day on I believe, first day of the season, fourth attempt of the day. To redpoint on the fourth go, refusing to leave the cliff without the send, takes massive motivation. I have never sent anything noteworthy after my second attempt of the day. Four redpoint burns is epic. Meanwhile, Phil, Chris and I got on Better Than Life. It's been a while since any of us have redpointed it but we all looked strong, I felt. Although, Phil and Chris looked far better than I. It was motivating to get on a route as hard as Better Than Life, the hardest route Phil and I have ever sent, and feel as strong as I felt, and see Phil perform as well as he did. Chris, of course, dominated. But he's Austrian. Paul top-roped Chips Ahoy. I was psyched to see him finally get on Chips. This is the Tor's version of Smith Rock's Churning In the Wake, the introduction to hard climbing here. Chips climbs in a style similar to Better Than Life and Strictly Ballroom. I won't say a person can't send those harder adjacent routes without Chips under their belt, but it would be difficult. While he was working it I tried not to say anything. I'm of the theory that whatever I say, Paul will do the opposite. He seemed to not hate the route. There was no flood of love for Chips though. I think there are other routes in the world he likes better. Anyways, my weight was down to 190 lbs this day. Next week's theme: lose more weight. It helps. I know it.

Monday, October 22, 2007

I don't deserve to climb

Saturday at Mr Lee's sucked. Hard Boiled felt totally impossible. I ended up getting on two other 'gems' instead, White Lotus and Pork Chop Express. Both routes sucked. This week's goal: LOSE WEIGHT. I don't care if I have to smoke a pack of cigarettes every 10 minutes - this belly has got to go. In other news, Chris is dominating on Hard Boiled. His redpoint is imminent. He does not know when to let go, making his attempts entertaining and inspiring.

Monday, October 15, 2007

couches make Austrians stronger

Phil, Brian, Hawk and I met Chris at Mr. Lee's Saturday. This was my fifth day projecting Hard Boiled and, as expected, I have begun to loathe its very essence. Although, I did make progress. My right hand exceeded my previous high-point by about 18 inches, which by my calculations puts me on track to realize a redpoint within 30 years. Chris also has cultivated a relationship with Hard Boiled so I was interested to see how his day would go. Apparently, if you're Austrian you can sit on your couch for months until you feel like cranking, and your strength is increased exponentially. Frickin' Chris. Either he's hustling me or he's just a freak (read: Austrian). All I hear from him is how much he's been working (at a desk, in a chair), dominating Sizzler everyday for lunch and generally kickin' it in Valencia. So imagine my surprise when he shows up to Mr. Lee's and ravages Hard Boiled. My fifth day, his first and he just cranks up to my high-point like it's boring. What a dick. Anyways, genetics aside, I believe next weekend will produce some impressive redpoint failures. Chris, Paul and I are linking from the ground to the crux, which is slightly run-out and known to produce photogenic catastrophes. I should have video to share next week.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

finger problem

My ring finger on my left hand has been hurting lately. It doesn't hurt to climb or stretch it. Only touching it between my knuckle and first joint is painful. So, I haven't taken it too seriously and it's been getting worse for a couple weeks. It might be time to cut back, take it easy and let this heal. Taping over the tender area seems to help as well.

Monday, October 8, 2007

day fo'

Day frickin' four. Four days on Hard Boiled. My relationship with this route has blossomed I feel. And I believe we are on the verge of a meaningful transition. Next weekend, on my fifth day courting its redpoint, I foresee Hard Boiled and I progressing into what I consider TOTAL HELL. I'm talking big falls, big screams, lots of cursing. Last weekend I climbed from the ground into the beginning of Hard Boiled's crux. Then I one-falled it. This was possibly my best go ever on this route. I got a little taste of the crux. From the ground, I reached from the first right-hand two-finger pocket to the next two-finger pocket from hell, whose next move is the first of Hard Boiled's two-move crux sequence. At that instant both my hands exploded from their respective two-finger pockets. Subsequent goes will put me within range of Hard Boiled's infamous crux. No doubt, things are getting interesting.

Monday, October 1, 2007

same route, different day

Saturday, day three of Tor season, felt like the first day of true Santa Maria rock climbing. Phil, Paul, and myself are all well into our respective projects. Phil is working on Buddhist Palm, and Paul and I are working Hard Boiled. Temperatures have been good. I need to lose weight. A lot of weight. Paul is already micro. I did, however, get a couple good burns on Hard Boiled this week. Good for day three anyways. Which is particularly amazing when one considers I weighed 194 lbs that day. This whole being huge thing has got to stop.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Santa Maria: day 2

If you weigh 195 lbs and your name isn't John Dunne, don't get trashed the night before going climbing in Santa Maria. Hard Boiled, the most miserable 40 ft of rock ever touched by a Hilti, makes me want to find a new sport. And oddly, this overhanging pile of misery feels no better when I'm hung over. What... ever. I watched King Lines. Its totally rad. Its the best climbing movie I've seen in years.

Monday, September 17, 2007

back to Hell

Saturday was our first day back to Santa Maria. Phil, Paul and I went to Mr. Lee's and we all got on Hard Boiled. I passionately hate this route. My right hand is completely maimed from it. While enjoying the crux on my second go up this masterpiece I punctured a pad on my middle finger and put a blood blister on my pinkie. It now hurts to brush my teeth. Fortunately, I think I put enough blood in the first right-hand two-finger pocket to make next weekend extra fun.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

climbing with nuggets

So, I went climbing yesterday with Paul and he brought Laura Griffiths and Susánica Tam. This was my first time meeting either of them - both very cool nuggets. Had I known this would turn in to a six hour photo shoot at the Playground I probably would not have had as much to drink the night before. That's not really true. Regardless, Santa Barbara + bouldering + nuggets = rad. Laura talks a lot about clothes. I'm not really in to clothes.

Friday, September 7, 2007


I've been climbing a long time and I always struggle with movement. Possibly because, as I evolve in the sport, the way I move inadvertantly changes. Nevertheless, my mind has to catch up. To visualize upcoming moves you must know what to expect from your body. I climb slow. Guys who climb slow think I climb slow. When I go to the Santa Barbara Zoo I love to watch the three-toed sloth. He makes me wish I could take 10 minutes to do a move, stop, think about stuff, do another move, stop, look around at stuff, do a move... But unfortunately I am human (technically) and maybe I climb too slow sometimes. The argument can be made that some moves are done much more efficiently with momentum. I try to remember, on my strongest climbing days, how I feel while I'm moving. Last week I had such a day. Everything felt easier. I felt lighter. Tension was effortless. Most importantly, slow, deliberate movements felt natural. To maximize such days would be huge. I believe training in a slow, deliberate way is more effective than slapping at holds. Try telling Mr. Sloth to pick up the pace. Exactly.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

ripping holds from the wall

I've never been that guy that weighs 135 lbs (at least since I was 12) and runs effortless laps around the climbing gym. I currently weigh in the neighborhood of 195 lbs and watching me climb might be like watching a whale seizure. At least that's what it feels like when I break a hold and fall on my face. For example, last night at the shed I tore the bolt through the T-nut (I know, I didn't think this was possible either) of a new crimp. It exploded in a way that made me question whether I had been shot. Then I landed on my left elbow which hurt way bad for the rest of the night. But the interesting part came when I told Phil I broke his hold and hurt my arm because he said to me, "that's scary". That is scary. With all the effort I put in to training so that I can go out and be strong on the routes I love to get on, I had forgotten how much injuries hold me back. A person of my dimensions (fat) should be more careful. Especially in the gym. Chicks are not impressed by injuries sustained from plastic holds on a plywood wall over old mattresses. Fuck, I think I'm maturing.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Vertical Heaven

Been a while since I've gone to a climbing gym. They haven't changed. Last night I went to Vertical Heaven in Ventura. Didn't feel strong. Whatever.

Monday, August 20, 2007

same stuff

Not much new to report. I've been climbing four or five times a week at GVAC or Phil's shed. My shoulder feels fine to climb on. My recent focus has been to get out climbing as much as possible to get used to this volume of training. And I feel stronger. My weight is just below world climbing record level, about 195 lbs. So, in the past two months 10 pounds of me has inexplicably vanished, making climbing about 37 million times easier. This is probably due to the running (I hate running) and skin diving. At the shed, where I feel I get the best climbing strength conditioning, I've focused on putting up moderate routes I can send in a day or within the week. And I've been climbing by myself mostly, my favorite partner. In general climbing feels good lately - I'm pretty psyched on it.

Monday, August 6, 2007

rad weekend

Saturday I went spearfishing with Hawk at Hendry's Beach then met Paul and Kip at Skofield Park for some extra rad bouldering. Skofield was frickin great. I put a link to a map of it on the right. And Sunday I climbed for about 30 minutes at the shed. My new tactic of climbing with dudes I normally don't climb with at places I normally don't climb at has been good for me I think. Saturday at Skofield I sent a steep, reachy V6 in about 30 minutes and flashed a slopey, slabby V4. During this past month I have gotten more comfortable on a greater variety of climbs and improved my weakest areas, such as slab technique (why people still climb slabs is baffling) and maybe even a little endurance (maybe). Today is Monday and my shoulder had not hurt either of last weekend's two climbing days nor does it bother me today. This injury seems to present pain not during the activities that aggravate it but the following couple days. And bouldering hard does not seem to aggravate it.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

still weak

Climbed yesterday at the shed - it felt hard. I have not gotten stronger and the shed has not gotten easier. Although, my shoulder felt good.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

shoulder pain

Last night was my third consecutive day climbing. So, to take it easy I went to the shed, which is most definately not easy. Probably the shed is the worst place in the world to climb on my third day in a row. Its steep and mean. Everything shut me down. The skin on my fingertips felt so bad I could have sworn Phil replaced his climbing holds with acid-soaked sand paper. And I woke up this morning with shoulder pain. There is a sharp pain between and below my anterior and medial deltoid when I raise my arm above shoulder level. While working out yesterday I did not notice injuring myself. This is just about worst case scenario. I loathe shoulder injuries. Shoulders are hard to heal and the pain is omnipresent. No other joint condition affects my weight lifting and climbing more than shoulder health. When my shoulders are injured I feel like I can't do any of the things I want to do. Hopefully this does not develop into a serious problem.

Monday, July 23, 2007

the playground

I went to 'the playground' with Paul - it was rad. This was my first time at this crag, Paul's too. We wanted to get on a rope so we did a bunch of laps on easy stuff. This kind of climbing is a little new to me so I'm sure it's good for me. The routes were slightly past vertical, to vertical, to slab. In about three hours we did a 5.8, 5.8, 5.6, 5.10a, 5.10c, and top-roped an 11d. The 11d shredded my fingertips. This frickin route was born to shut me down - near vertical, thin crimps. I weigh 197 lbs. I've been living at the Owl Tor for six years. This hellish slab crimpathon made me want to cry. I thought I might cry. I might have cried. If Paul says I cried he's a liar. Anyways, Paul has technique, and he's strong, so he did much better. I posted directions to the playground on the right.