Tuesday, December 30, 2008

a snowball's chance


If you needed to ship a Christmas package to my Mom's house, there's a snowball's chance in Hell it got there on time. My Mom lives on Whidbey Island, in Northwestern Washington State. She lives on a lake, on an island, in the Puget Sound (aka: the Pacific Ocean). You will drive far from civilization and ride a ferry before arriving here. And though most years it doesn't snow, there was 14 inches on the ground last week. So the pansies at UPS decided, despite Elijah's considerable investment in shipping costs, they would delay delivery until after Hanukkah.

Anywayz. It's cold here. My Mom doesn't believe in heating the downstairs of homes so my room is about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. No worries, this has provided an opportunity for me to try out some warm clothes and train for cold weather climbing at Joshua Tree. Taking this week off from my normal climbing/swimming routine has me planning for the upcoming season. In fact, there's a plan in the works to get over to Joshua Tree the day I arrive back in Santa Barbara. Which reminds me - Micah, Andy and Justin, I'm going to Joshua Tree this Friday and you need to get in on that. I'm losing feeling in my fingers now. In the larger picture of next climbing season, I want to focus on a single hard route, one that will leave me satisfied with my progression within the sport, a 5.14. I'm pretty psyched about it. It's gonna suck and be rad at the same time. My motivation since the hospital has paid dividends to my climbing already and I'm way more psyched now.

I climbed with my step-brother at the Everett Vertical World gym Sunday. It was rad because we got on these thin, slightly overhanging top-rope routes but pulled the top-rope to lead them. Rad because no thought was given to leading, making clips exciting and falls spicy. Two thumbs up for an otherwise unremarkable climbing gym. Maybe I shouldn't say that. I don't know. There's just not enough steep stuff there. But climbing is partly what you make of it I guess, and I did have a great time, so whatever. There's a snowball's chance I'll move back here for the climbing though.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

more failure, please

I failed 3 more times on Atreyu, spit off at the crux thrice. Not very rad. Then I spent about 2 hours making 1 hold on the new route. There was failure all around at the Tor Saturday. Justin had at least a couple fits after peeling off the top of Power like 6 times. Phil did some easy laps and had fun probably, redpointing 7 routes and falling on Auto Magic mid-eighth. So maybe Phil opted out of the failure-athon. That's OK, I failed enough for the both of us.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

let's not forget...

how rad Malcolm Smith is. And Splinter is a rad video:

Saturday, December 13, 2008

it'll be a cold day in Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree got groped by Jason, Marcela and me last weekend. Temps were a tad on the chilly side, around 40-ish, and the wind brought some ferociousness. Marcela's tent got shredded the first night, but fortunately it snowed the next evening. My companions weren't super psyched. I got on Desert Shield and a couple head pieces I want to lead but whose names I forgot. Desert Shield is great. I think I can redpoint that sucker pretty quick. It's kinda crimpy but steep with long moves so a send should come together after a day or two, I would think.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Déjà vu

More falls on Atreyu. I got to fall 3 more times at the crux. And since Phil forgot to bring the battery for his drill, I didn't do any work on the new route either. All in all I'd say it was a pretty productive day.

Micah, Andy and I went to Green Dome the next day (hence the photo). It was OK, blew Andy's mind.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

already more than I expected

My third day on Atreyu and it's feeling exactly how I didn't want it to - like a project. I'm giving it 2 burns a day so that I have time at the end to work on the new route I'm building at Owl Tor, so I'm sure I could have made better progress on it had I focused. It's still amazing. That frickin' throw at the end is spitting me off every time. It's like rolling the dice every burn. da routes:

  1. When the Sea Doesn't Want You (5.12a) - redpoint
  2. Anchor Punch (5.12a) - redpoint
  3. Atreyu (5.13b) - fell after the last clip
  4. Atreyu - fell at the long throw

Sunday, November 16, 2008

video evidence

I got some videos of Andy and Micah sending stuff at Owl Tor last weekend. Footage from these first two is a little shaky because my legs were falling asleep in my harness. And the wind was blowing me around kind of a lot. To get these angles is somewhat involved.

Micah redpointing When the Sea Doesn't Want You (5.12a):

Micah on The Sea from Elijah Ball on Vimeo.

Andy redpointing Anchor Punch (5.12a):

Andy on Anchor Punch from Elijah Ball on Vimeo.

Andy redpointing Auto Magic (5.12a):

Andy on Auto Magic from Elijah Ball on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

faces of death

We got some good photos at the Tor last Saturday, with some rad expressions. Andy's looking like the Lord of the Forest.

Andy on Hell of the Upside Down Sinners (5.12b):

Me on the long move at the top of Atreyu (5.13b). I didn't make it this time:


Micah topping out the Tor via Power of Eating (5.11d):

back on familiar ground

Last week I finished Hard Boiled, so this week we returned to Owl Tor. I missed her. She's even better than I remembered. I spent 3 weeks back at Mr. Lee's, the last 2 never going to the Tor. But things are back to normal now. I went with Andy and Micah. Phil was dealing with the aftermath of the Tea Fire, Santa Barbara's latest installment of epic wildfire nastiness. I got on Atreyu (5.13b). Phil hates that name. I got it from The Never Ending Story, which I feel is appropriate because it climbs like the never ending route. As long as Phil hates it, I will never stop calling it Atreyu. He's probably voting for something stupid that's friggin' 9 words long and references some obscure Chinese film that only he and 3 other rippers have ever watched. Anywayz, Atreyu blew my mind with how good it is. At the end is a big throw to a crimp two moves from the chains. That really makes things exciting. I'm seriously way psyched on it and can't wait to get back there this Saturday. Oh, and I got on Shatter Hand. It still sucks.

da numbers:

  1. Power of Eating (5.11d) - redpoint
  2. Auto Magic (5.12a) - redpoint
  3. Atreyu (5.13b) - 1 take at the last clip
  4. Atreyu - 1 fall at the long move up top
  5. Shatter Hand (5.12d) - bolt-to-bolt
  6. Shatter Hand - 1 take at the last clip

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Gibraltar old school

Elhanan got to an ultra precarious position to take these rad shots of Andy and me on Kevin Brown's Self Reflection: Sunday at Gibraltar

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Hard Boiled, done

I redpointed Hard Boiled (5.13b) yesterday. Rad. Rad that I never have to get on her again. Actually, I had a good time this season. Probably that's because I was prepared. Last season I spent 18 days trying to redpoint. This season I sent after eight attempts over 3 days. Yesterday's redpoint happened first go of the day, by far my strongest go on Hard Boiled ever. Success was imminent, each consecutive day way better than the previous, which makes repointing relatively non-stressful.
Details of the final go are kinda fuzzy. I remember hitting the pinch after the crux fairly confidently, knowing this was significant, feeling good but more tired than usual since this was my first time through the crux from the ground (this season anyway), sort of confidently moving through the next few moves until the last, where I almost pitched off backwards reaching to the clipping jug, hitting a wall mid-pull on the final move. Dramatic. I had moved not quickly but efficiently, confidently up to the crux, better than ever before, and rested longer than usual at the second undercling, again at the next 3-finger, at the 2-finger after the crux, and finally at the left-hand sidepull before the right-hand crimp before the clipping jug. Good pace and good resting plan, I felt.
This was not chance. This was the result of good preparation for Hard Boiled. I had lots of time to think about her. Despite the grade, I feel she is uniquely difficult to redpoint - just ask Chris or Bob. Yeah, she's a bitch.
Today is about 8 months since I got out of the hospital. While I was laid up in those rad reclining beds I thought there would be no way I could climb even near my previous level within the year, that ambitiously 12 months would go by before I even looked at my nemesis of a route again. If ever. And believe me, I thought about Hard Boiled specifically. It was hard not to with Phil and crew bringing her up all the time. So, this was better than I expected, which doesn't happen often, and rarely is something I'll feel good about. Congratulating oneself is not good, I feel. Climbing for me, and maybe living in general, is motivated more by an aversion to failure than an ambition to succeed. But I'm concentrating on the positive this time: sending Hard Boiled at all, and especially in such short time, has me looking back at the training I did right, instead of wondering what went wrong.
In other news, I got on Hans' Bodyguard from Beijing (5.14a) on Saturday. H-O-L-Y S-H-I-T. That thing is way hard. And by 'way hard' I mean friggin' hyper-hard. It'd probably be good for me to get on Bodyguard some more but Phil has me convinced I should start going to Owl Tor again, to spend the rest of the season putting up a new route there. He's right, I think. It'll be good to get back to her.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Halloween in Joshua Tree

IMG_1573How appropriate. Halloween and death slabs are a match made in Hell. Yeah, there's plenty of trick-or-treating in Joshua Tree, stacks of routes to trick you in to running them out until you're treated to a near death experience. It's growing on me. I got on this 12d, La Cholla, and had seriously a bunch of fun. It's a slab problem to a near vertical, maybe a touch more, face route. It's well protected, got some awesome moves, and I think I'd like to project it. Not my typical fare, obviously, but an interesting climb no doubt.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Hard Boiled might not be so bad

There. I said it. Hard Boiled is not the worst route in the world. But don't get me wrong; it's no 'walk in the park' to redpoint. More than anything, this new perspective of mine is probably a symptom of my revised redpoint mentality in general. Redpointing is more fun for me this season. I've slid in to a groove of sorts that has made pushing myself on routes more bearable. I've justified the increased intensity this way: Think about whatever you need to think about to keep moving. If you execute everything right; move fast, stay tight in the cruxes, loose in the easy sections, milk rests if you can, and if you can find that sweet spot in rest time where your breathing comes down but your arms don't tire too much; accurately hit every hold, hands and feet; and basically do everything you visualize in that mental video where you send the thing... then you might have a chance. Everything comes together in a redpoint. You rehearse it, visualize it, get nervous, and send it. To get on hard sport routes, to push your own limit in this genre of climbing, is kinda stressful. Same as any performance, I suppose. There's tons to remember and I suspect the folks I look up to, the elite sport climbers of my generation, are especially skilled at finding that perfect mental space that allows them to execute near their physical limit, unencumbered by the psychological impedances most of us struggle to break through.
Anywayz, I got on Hard Boiled four times on Saturday. Ideally, I would have redpointed the damn thing but a productive day nevertheless. The redpoint is imminent. I'm almost having a touch of fun with it.
da numbers:

  1. Shores of Hell (5.11b) - redpoint
  2. White Lotus (5.11d) - lots of falls, this route super sucks
  3. Hard Boiled (5.13b) - lowered after an unexpected foot slip reaching to the first undercling
  4. Hard Boiled - fell throwing out to the right-hand crux crimp
  5. Hard Boiled - fell throwing to the crux pinch
  6. Hard Boiled - fell throwing to the crux pinch, got back on under the 1st undercling to fall again throwing to the pinch, got back on at the 3-finger before the crux to finish at the chains
  7. Sea of Love (5.12b) - bolt-to-bolt, my first time on this
  8. Sea of Love - fell in the crux, way tired

Monday, October 20, 2008

hello, old friend

Back on Hard Boiled. That's right, after 10 months, 1 attempt on my life, 3 pairs of climbing shoes and several dozen training days I am back projecting the most miserable piece of rock I have ever known. Once again, I am bidding for chains on Phil's Santa Maria abomination, for whose creator I'm sure a special spot in Hell is reserved. Redpoint burns on Hard Boiled are so painful I have to trick myself to keep throwing at holds. Sometimes I imagine I'm on another route. Whatever, I threw myself at it on Saturday to walk away surprisingly not disappointed.

da numbers:

  1. Shores of Hell (5.11b) - redpoint
  2. Crocodile Hunter (5.12d) - just bolt-to-bolted up to the first break
  3. Hard Boiled (5.13b) - bolt-to-bolted
  4. Hard Boiled - 1 fall, throwing to the crux crimp
  5. Hard Boiled - 1 take, at the second clip (big right-hand side pull before underclings), then to the top
  6. Better Than Chips (5.12d) - 1 fall, mysteriously, at the throw
  7. Better Than Chips - redpoint
  8. Anchor Punch - redpoint

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Joshua Tree was crisp and good

I like Joshua Tree. Who knew? Gritty, crumbling granite slabs in the high desert of inland California... sounds like hell, right? In some ways it is. There's just something about the bold leads, perpetually good weather, infinite rock and gnarled old-school locals that make the park characteristically classic. My formative climbing years were spent in Seattle gyms, sport redpointing at Smith Rock, bouldering at Squamish, and now, Owl Tor. Though classic in their own right, and destination worthy no doubt, neither Squamish nor Smith are representative of traditional American climbing like Joshua Tree. And I'm ordinarily not one to romanticize climbing's history in the States. In fact, it's really only the new generation of steep, powerful, pocketed lines that interest me, the exact opposite of Joshua Tree's low-angle style. But I think it's been good for me to work out a new technique, the kind of friction intensive skill requisite on J-Tree's runout slabs. These runouts really are changing my climbing. Having to stick to the rock as if your health depends on it, because in fact it does, is common here - not something I'm used to, so it has to be good.

The weather was sunny and cold - maybe 60s during the day and 40s at night. Cold is good. If I had not been nursing a cold I like to think I would have climbed hard. I did not. Puss 'n Boots (5.11c) was the most significant thing I got on. About 10 degrees off vertical, thin and a little spicy up top, she got too heady for me at the end. I'd like to finish what I started here, maybe in a couple weeks.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

BTL, day 4

Better Than Life felt better than usual Saturday. I'm mildly satisfied with redpoint burns by my fourth day of the season on this route. To tick her before moving on to Hard Boiled would be nice but I fear my window of opportunity at Mr. Lee's may close if I do not start heading back there to begin work on this season's real objective. Me on the first half of Better Than Life: da routes:

  1. Power of Eating (5.11d) - redpoint
  2. Auto Magic (5.12a) - redpoint
  3. Better Than Life (5.13c) - took and lowered off at the clip just before the hueco, interested only in warming up
  4. Better Than Life (5.13c) - 1 take at the last clip
  5. Better Than Life (5.13c) - 1 fall at the hueco
  6. Anchor Punch (5.12a) - redpoint
  7. When the Sea Doesn't Want You (5.12a) - redpoint
Me on the bottom half of Better Than Life: ...and the top half:

re-projecting BTL

This happened a week and a half ago. I've been lazy.
da routes:

  1. Power of Eating (5.11d) - redpoint
  2. Auto Magic (5.12a) - redpoint
  3. Better Than Life (5.13c) - 3 takes
  4. Better Than Life (5.13c) - 2 takes
  5. Chips to Pro Skill variation (5.13a?) - 1 take at the last bolt
  6. White Cougar (5.12b) - 1 fall after the last bolt
  7. White Cougar (5.12b) - a bunch of falls after the last bolt

Monday, September 29, 2008

making wine does not make for good climbing

These photos are from a week ago. I was just too lazy to write about it last week.
Elhanan and I "helped" Justin drink some of the grape juice he's making in to wine before heading over to Owl Tor. Hopefully when this stuff is finished it will taste better than it does now. 6 oz of it just about ruined my day.
Good thing Justin felt strong, cuz I didn't. He took some time off recently, usually a recipe for disaster at the Tor, and returned briefly to crank out his best day on Power of Eating before re-injuring himself.
I'm glad I have a photo that shows how Better Than Life makes me feel after getting lowered off. Obviously, it doesn't make me want to start running a marathon right this instant.
da routes:

  1. Power of Eating (5.11d) - redpoint
  2. Auto Magic (5.12a) - redpoint
  3. Better Than Life (5.13c) - 3 takes
  4. Better Than Life (5.13c) - 2 takes
  5. Chips/Pro Skill variation (5.13a?) - 1 take

Monday, September 22, 2008

SD is rad

I love San Diego. However, I hate traveling. I'm a creature of habit and I guard my routine ferociously. Leaving town for the weekend is a disruption I can barely tolerate. But it had to be done; a wedding had to be attended and the Grandparents had to be visited.

Elhanan and I swam with the fishes at La Jolla Cove Saturday. It was alright, kinda cold for my liking. Actually, it was way frickin' cold and reminded me again that this, arguably California's best dive spot, is still no Hawaii.
Then we went to Solid Rock Gym. This was more rad than the Cove. Getting on gym routes felt good. Although, I need to be cranking these down more quickly and at higher levels. It's about time I start dispatching 5.12's first and second go, not projecting them.
Next stop was Glendale for dinner with the G-units. Their property is rad, got tons of good photos here.

Monday, September 8, 2008

that which does not kill me makes me madder

Owl Tor made me mean. She had to have seen this coming. Probably she knew all along her special kind of relentless derision would make a person mean if it didn't break them. Which explains why on Saturday, on my second consecutive weekend of uncharacteristically strong performances, I still feel beaten. What else could I feel? There aren't any other emotions left. Failure is all I know from the Tor. Better Than Life saw me 1-fall her on my first attempt of the season. That's a hard route for me. One fall is about as much as I could expect on day one. And yet, it's not success. In addition to making that perfectly clear, Owl Tor covered BTL in a thick mixture of mud and spiders and turned the heat up to 102 degrees. My leg still hurts from a spooky fall at the third bolt. She will not be giving out breaks this season, I know it.
da routes:

  1. Power of Eating (5.11d) - redpoint
  2. Auto Magic (5.12a) - redpoint
  3. Better Than Life (5.13c) - 3 falls
  4. Better Than Life (5.13c) - 1 fall
  5. Chips to Pro Skill variation (5.13a?) - 1 fall
  6. Hell of the Upside Down Sinners (5.12b) - 1 fall
  7. Anchor Punch (5.12a) - 1 fall
see Andy on Chips Ahoy (5.12d)

Monday, September 1, 2008


Did a bunch of routes at the Tor this weekend. Two days after my fifth monthly recognition of my graduation from Cottage Hospital's advanced pneumonia program I had my most productive day at Owl Tor: 8 routes, 8 redpoints. The previous day I re-set my dynamic no-fin apnea record at the UCSB pool: 50 yd, short course. Twice. It's been several years and a couple liters of lungs since that last happened for me. I'm not saying it yet, but I'm becoming suspicious that this, my 30th year in existence, may be my most bodacious yet.

da routes:

  1. Power of Eating (5.11d)
  2. Auto Magic (5.12a)
  3. The Natural (5.12c)
  4. No Skill (5.12c)
  5. Better Than Chips (5.12d)
  6. Hell of the Upside Down Sinners (5.12b)
  7. Anchor Punch (5.12a)
  8. When the Sea Doesn't Want You (5.12a)

All redpoints.

Monday, August 25, 2008

no Tor last weekend

IMG_1043Instead of Tor Saturday, I had Shed Sunday. Marcela cranked with me at the Shed in the evening. It was good. I felt strong, got on a couple projects, made progress. This two, and now three, days a week at the Shed is hard on the old tendons. Hopefully this makes a stronger, better me.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Painted Cave

Because it's one of the few local bouldering spots not touched by the Gap Fire, Painted Cave was my best option for a quick evening session after work yesterday. And it reminded me how far I have yet to go to be a good boulderer. I'm maybe the wussiest person I know when it comes to topping out high stuff. It's pathetic. Heavy Traffic, or whatever the variation I got on is called, had me bailing out at the mantle. Yeah, the mantle, just like the mantle that sits on top of almost every boulder problem in the world. And because of a little height, that really wasn't even that bad, I didn't finish the thing. Then I bailed off the top of whatever V-jugs is accross the road. Impressive, No? Note to self: stop being a pansie. You promised Mom you wouldn't go back to the hospital this year and that's fine. Don't fall. You won't fall because it's not hard, you're just being a pansie.

Monday, August 18, 2008

wish every day could be Saturday?

I don't. That would mean I throw myself on Tor routes 7 days a week. One day is enough. Especially when it's a volume day. Last Saturday was such a day. 5 redpoints. 8 laps.
da routes

  • Power of Eating (5.11d) - redpoint
  • Auto Magic (5.12a) - redpoint
  • The Natural (5.12c) - redpoint
  • No Skill (5.12c) - redpoint
  • Better Than Chips (5.12d) - redpoint
  • Hell of the Upside Down Sinners (5.12b) - 1 fall
    • I grabbed the chains. Yep.
  • Anchor Punch (5.12a) - 1 fall
    • At this point I'm just pissed. So, I didn't really care. Waited about 10 minutes after Hell before starting up this gem.
  • When the Sea Doesn't Want You (5.12a) - 2 falls
    • 2 falls. Not caring at all at this point. Waited 10 minutes, tops, between Anchor Punch and this. Obviously, I still had tons of energy. Unstoppable, really.

Monday, August 11, 2008

you don't have to wonder what the worst route in Santa Maria is

It's called The Natural. It's super short, has a super awkward one-move crux, and it sucks. And it shut me down on Saturday. Four times. Micah and Elhanan went to the Tor with me. That made things cool. If not for them, had I been left alone to epically flail on stupid Natural, I would not have had a good day. Micah sent Auto Magic with ease, first go of the day, his first redpoint of this route and maybe of this grade. That's kind of amazing since he boulders stupid hard. Elhanan just looked good. my numbers:

  • Power of Eating (5.11d) - redpoint
  • Auto Magic (5.12a) - redpoint
  • 4 x The Natural (5.12c) - falls at the crux
  • Better Than Chips (5.12d) - clipped the last draw and took
  • Anchor Punch (5.12a) - redpoint
  • When the Sea Doesn't Want You (5.12a) - redpoint
also on Saturday: rodeo clipping (watch your ladies)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

straight to the (Green) Dome

We climbed at Green Dome on Sunday.
check it: operation crankola

Monday, August 4, 2008

welcome back, failure

Fresh on the heels of last weeks redpoint extravaganza, was this weeks's typically grim Saturday Tor session. In my defense, it was hot and I got on some new routes (new to my volume training routine anyway), The Natural and Hell of the Upside Down Sinners. Jud witnessed Owl Tor, in all her glory, for his first time. No doubt, the pleasure is all his. Marcela made a defiant appearance despite the Tor's attempt on her life 2 weeks earlier. Continuing his recent trend of substantial weekly progress, Justin linked large sections of Power of Eating and dialed in the bottom of When the Sea Doesn't Want You. Phil too looked leagues better this Saturday compared to last, this his second day back. my routine:

  • Power of Eating (5.11d) - redpoint
  • Auto Magic (5.12a) - redpoint
  • The Natural (5.12c) - fell at the crux
    • I remember now why this is commonly known as Santa Maria's worst route. Truly ridiculous.
  • Hell of the Upside Down Sinners (5.12b) - redpoint
    • Good burn. I haven't been on this in a couple months and haven't redpointed it this year. It was a bit of a fight.
  • Better Than Chips (5.12d) - fell at the crimp after the jugs
    • After mysteriously falling right after leaving the Chips jugs I decided to give up on the BTL finish for a new sequence in to Pro Skill. It's hard. And weird.
  • Anchor Punch (5.12a) - 1 fall at the crux

Friday, August 1, 2008

more Shed, please

This was the first week in months (like 6 months, I think) that I trained twice at the Shed. No agenda, just wanted to get adjusted to the Tuesday/Thursday thing again. So, I took things real slow, kept the volume low and had fun. Both days felt good, Tuesday better than Thursday, obviously. But after a slow warm up on Thursday I got things going a little. I put up a new route, at least. And today my hands are feeling it. Good training but a volume to be cautious about.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Elhanan and I met Justin, Jud, Jessica and Andy yesterday for a session at Gibraltar Rock. Celebrations the night before were a touch intense. Thus, Justin and I were not cranking precisely. As torched as I felt that morning, I'm giving myself substantial credit just for showing up. Justin too. Evening sun provided sweet light:

Nico touching rope to chains on Crank Start (5.11c).
Andy "pluggin' and chuggin'" (his words, not mine - believe that) on The Nose.
Jessica making sandstone bleed on Hole in the Wall, or something.
Me and Elhanan making this cliff look good. Obviously.
Me romancing the locals. Yeah, I got digits.


Saturday proved to be one of those rare rad days at Owl Tor. This marks the opening of redpoint season in Santa Maria. Stuff was getting sent left and right - Micah on The Sea and me on the 6 routes of my planned routine. Not to mention Phil's triumphant return, an Elhanan appearance and Andy's siege of Anchor Punch.
Eclipsing all of this climbing nonsense though, was the mad crankenstein respekt dealt at Tonic later. On a night when getting in to one of Santa Barbara's smoovest watering holes would have been an epic sans hook up, I bypassed the swollen door crowd and cover simply by representing crankenstein. Big up to the biggest bouncer I've seen all week - Ryan's dealing out crankenluv by the armloads and getting my nomination for mayor of RadBouncersville. I'm not saying this will work at every seething club, but dropping the crankenstein name could, as it did me, get you hooked the F up (you're welcome, Mom).

da routine:

  • Power of Eating (5.11d) - redpoint
  • Auto Magic (5.12a) - redpoint
  • No Skill (5.12c) - redpoint
  • Better Than Chips (5.12d) - redpoint
  • Anchor Punch (5.12a) - redpoint
  • When the Sea Doesn't Want You (5.12a) - redpoint

Friday, July 25, 2008

return of the king

Phil returns to the Tor tomorrow. Finally. And I gotta say: he's suspect. I'm a little suspicious of his new condition. This "operation" to repair his shoulder has me wondering what, excactly, was done to his body. And I'm letting him know, at the first sound of a mechanical whine or digital chirp I am outta there; to home with me. I'm not climbing with a robot. No, sir. That's not even close to fair. Those of us without the means to mechanize can't be expected to compete with that.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

first wood

Campused this morning with Andy. He did 5-1-5 on the bigs. I didn't do much except kinda high-volume 2-finger hangs. Energy was pretty low. Because of an approaching appointment with the pulmonologist and this generally feeling like a flat session I went fast through my routine, not resting much, not trying epic hard stuff, instead focusing on the training stimulus.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Saturday again

The Tor, again. Micah, Justin, Hawk, Marcela and I gave the Tor our best on Saturday. And again, it wasn't good enough. Micah had big plans for The Sea - didn't happen. Marcela and Hawk had planned on crushing Power - way didn't happen. I thought I might take down No Skill - ridiculously did not happen. I don't know what Justin's plans were but I'm sure he got shut down as well. For the 37 thousandth time this god-forsaken season I fell on that hell-pile 12c variation. And that was after I redpointed Better Than Chips, which is way harder. I don't understand it. In my defense, things did feel slick. Marcela had one of the gnastiests falls I've ever seen when she skated off the first move of The Sea, nailing her back on a rock at the base. So, something was clearly going on here. Add to that the mass Tuesday-thinking delirium we all shared and you have a recipe for disaster at Owl Tor.

da routes:

  • Power of Eating (5.11d) - Redpoint
  • Auto-Magic (5.12a) - Redpoint
  • Better Than Chips (5.12d) - Took at the jugs, lowered.
    • Yeah, I took here cuz I forgot an extra draw. But not before 4 attempts at catching one thrown from the ground. Shredding.
  • Better Than Chips (5.12d) - Redpoint
    • Good. Ran it out a little. Good burn.
  • Power of Eating - Ran up to the third to last draw to get photos of Micah, then lowered.
  • No Skill (5.12c) - Fell right after the jugs, lowered.
  • The Natural (5.12b) - Took at the crux.
    • Here I was trying to work out a new sequence. Gave up. It sucks.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

first wood

Andy, Justin, Marcela and I campused early this morning at the Shed. Andy was real close to 5-1-5 on the bigs. My elbows felt a little fragile so I passed on drops, opting instead for up moves and two-finger work. 1-3-6 went down on the bigs, felt kinda hard on the flat/rounds and I did 1-2, each hand, on the incuts.

This photo is of Andy catching 1 on the way from 5.

more photos and videos from this morning's session at the Shed...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Andy, Micah, Marcela, Bridget and I checked out the Caveman cliff yesterday evening. It's been a while since I was out climbing in to the wee hours, and it's been never since I was at Caveman, and it was rad.


This is a Flickr badge showing items in a set called Caveman - July 14, 2008. Make your own badge here.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

no Tor for me

I didn't make it to the Tor this weekend. And I'm actually OK with that. Ordinarily, when someone bails on me for the Tor I'll pump hate at them for a couple weeks but this time I felt the break was good. Rather than punish myself in Santa Maria, I slept a bunch, swam a bunch and went to the Shed. My climbing for the weekend was laps at the Shed with Micah and Elhanan. For the first time in years I played add-on, which resulted in Micah and me working out a mega-rad problem that could help to alleviate my bouldering directed boredom. Note to self: add-on is as fun as the people you add-on with. For example, Bob would not be fun to add-on with. For years I thought the problem was with the game itself. Not so.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

first wood

Justin, Andy and Brian met me at the Shed this morning for some early campusing. Things felt good. I did some four and two-finger work over all 3 sets of rungs, most notably: caught 5-1 drop on bigs, finished 4-1-4 on flat/rounds and ushered in the two-finger campusing season by finishing 1-2 two-finger on the small incuts.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

like Disney Land for climbers

The Tor gained a new fan today. Nicholas, whom I had not met before, was way psyched on the routes at Owl Tor. And I was way psyched to see him psyched. One of us, one of us, one of us... 
I am actually declaring Nicholas today's Lord of the Forest for his rad comment, that almost sneaked past my attention through his Chilean accent, upon first experiencing the cliff, "this is like Disney Land for climbers". My thought exactly. Everyone seemed psyched in fact. Andy cranked, especially considering he's not been spreading his love at the Tor for a couple months, redpointing The Sea most impressively. Justin continued his trend of virtually doubling in strength upon every visit, working things out once again on Power.

my routine

  • Power of Eating (5.11d) - redpoint
  • When the Sea Doesn't Want You (5.12a) - redpoint
  • No Skill (5.12c) - 1 fall at the long crimp after the Chips jugs
    • I don't want to talk about it.
  • Better Than Chips (5.12d) - grabbed the draw at the last clip on Better Than Life
    • Felt good, made the long move out to the jug on BTL. Put the draw on the last hanger but could not will myself to pull up rope for that clip. That's not an inspiring fall. And I'm a wuss.
  • Hell of the Upside Down Sinners (5.12b) - fell after the last clip
  • Anchor Punch (5.12a) - 1 fall at the crux pinch
  • Anchor Punch (5.12a) - 1 fall at the crux pinch
I would like to see more redpoints out of me. Note to self: 1-falls are not redpoints. Not even close.
It was 90 degrees today, approaching oppressive. Micah, Justin, Nicholas, Nicholas's wife Cota and me comprised the posse.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

first wood

Andy and Andree met me at the Shed for early morning campusing. Felt OK. I was focused mostly on a couple moves I'd not done in a while so put on hold the highish volume I'd been doing lately, although the session did last about 2 hours. Two-finger work was definately on the agenda - did some strong hangs on the round/flats and tried catching some 2-1 drops on the incuts. The drops felt good, thought I might have been able to catch it once or twice but came up barely short. On the bigs, I did 1-5-6 left hand and caught the 5-1 drop left hand. I had some quality pulls this morning, I think this session was productive.

Monday, June 30, 2008

failure at any cost

So, Saturday's session at the Tor started out smooth. I warmed up on Power, then a lap on The Sea before I walked over to No Skill. Not only have I not redpointed No Skill this year, I've never redpointed it. This being my fourth day on it this season I thought this should go over pretty easy. It had better go over pretty easy because this is MY FOURTH DAY ON IT THIS SEASON. Sure, I've only been getting on it once a day and sure, the way it climbs does not suit my style. But the thing is not that hard. Which makes my next two burns that much more amazing. My first go had me falling reaching from the jugs on Chips to the far crimp. One fall, no big. I'll just give it one more stupid go to make the redpoint official and I never have to get on this pile again. As befitting any story worth telling, the outcome was interesting. I fell. Again. At the same point. Now I'm thinking something's wrong with me. So, I get on Chips. And crank it like I'm walking to the fridge.you: But, Elijah, isn't No Skill 5.12c?me: yesyou: ...and your projects are hard 5.13s?me: exactlyWhy this stupid friggin' route has my number I can't understand. Why I can hike up Chips, eight feet to the right, an undeniably harder route, after flailing twice on stupid No Skill boggles my mind. I've managed to turn what should be a lap route, another incidental pile of holds in my mid-summer endurance routine, in to what is now virtually a project. I'm virtually projecting it. Whatever. After Chips I got on The Natural, maybe the most hated route in all of Santa Maria, and tried my variation to the crux sequence. My plan here is to dyno off the two-finger, throwing left hand from the flake to the jug straight above. This eliminates the right hand jug after the pocket. It's far, I'm not gonna lie. But it'll go. I got close. Well, all is not lost. I do believe all this endurance garbage I've been hammering out lately has helped. Like I said, Chips felt easy. It felt better than it's felt in a long time, better now than ever this season.

Micah on No Skill. He does yoga.
Justin on When the Sea Doesn't Want You.
It was me, Micah and Justin.Temperature was about 85. Kinda hot but nothing like last weekend.Saturday's routine:
  • Power of Eating (5.11d) - redpoint
  • When the Sea Doesn't Want You (5.12a) - redpoint
  • No Skill (5.12c) - 1 fall, going from the Chips jugs to the far crimp
  • No Skill (5.12c) - 1 fall, same spot
  • Chips Ahoy (5.12d) - redpoint
  • The Natural (5.12b) - Lots of falls, trying to work out a new ridiculous sequence.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

first wood

I met Justin and Andy at the shed this morning for campusing. This is the first day in 2 or 3 weeks I did some moves. After much three- and four-finger warming up on the big and round/flat rungs I spent most of my time four-fingering the round/flats with interspersed two-finger hangs. This turned out being kind of a lot of moves. My two-finger strength is feeling good lately. No moves yet but a lot of hangs on both the small incut and round/flat rungs. A lot of staggered hangs too, some 4-1. Since my elbow felt surprisingly good I went through the 1-5 combinations on the round/flats four-fingered, missing once on my right hand trying 1-4-5 but did it next go. I felt heavy, maybe because I am now 180lbs, and not as strong as I would have thought with this much rest and recent campus board static work. This makes me think hangs on the board are not very effective.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hell hath no furry

Unbelievable. Climbers who squander their lives on earth go to a bad place when they die. They go to Santa Maria. The place is a piece of work. Total work of art. If you thought where you climbed this weekend was epic be glad you weren't getting it on with the Tor in June. 103 degrees in the shade. IN THE SHADE. Amazing. Justin and Micah went with me. In that kind of heat a person's skin pays a price. Justin tore what is maybe the biggest slice of skin I've ever seen from his pinky and left ring finger. All layers, nothin' left but blood. Everything felt epic. I eeked out improvements on single No Skill and Hell of The Upside Down Sinner burns, falling on each once but in slightly better shape than last week, during my third and fourth laps of the day, respectively. By lap five I was cooked, could not will myself up Anchor Punch to save Halle Berry's life. Justin is a rare pleasure to have at the Tor, introduced himself to climbing about 6 months ago and is making marked progress on Power of Eating upon every visit. Micah did my same routine, with a full value burn on No Skill that pushed back the inside of this monster boulderer's route envelope. All said and done the day sucked. Micah and I swam and climbed at UCSB the next day. This also sucked. Thinking the routes inside the UCSB Rec Cen would be cooler than the solar flares pounding Santa Barbara County crags was a mistake. Note to the University: turn on the AC. Idiots. Note to anyone contemplating a trip to the UCSB wall: don't. It was a total epic. I'm not going to get myself started but I will say the staff is something else. In a word - unbearable. Saturday's routine:

  • Power of Eating (5.11d) - redpoint
  • Hell of the Upside Down Sinners (5.12a) - redpoint
  • No Skill (5.12c) - Took once as soon as I left the jugs on Chips
  • Hell of the Upside Down Sinners (5.12b) - 1 fall 2 moves after the last clip
  • Anchor Punch (5.12a) - Like 37 falls. Here's where I totally imploded then left.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

first wood

Campus board, I think I love you. I wasn't even "campusing" today. That would mean I was doing moves, at least bumping between rungs. Nope, I was just hanging from the rungs. That's how much I love campus boards. And like most things campusing is most fun in the morning. If you ask me, "dude, what is it you like so much about campusing?" I'd have to make something up. It's intangible. I can't express with words what it is I love so much about campusing. Sure, it's a power oriented thing so that would predispose me to loving it but it's really simple and, to an observer, maybe not that interesting. Perhaps here in lies the key. Let's review what Elijah likes: the bench press, swimming, Predator. There is a trend. Simple things. Simple at first observation. Simple until one contemplates what separates a good bencher or campuser from another. Because the movement is, on the surface, so seemingly basic it is not obvious all the subtle techniques employed to produce a maximum application of power. Only after scrutinous study does the practitioner appreciate how much concentration must go in to each attempt to elicit a gain. And just before you go mad with the thought, once your chosen event, be it benching or campusing or whatever, has all but drained you with the thought of it, do you realize your next gain can only come with a clear mind. You must clear your mind of all the analysis, rely on the training that brought you to this point and just go. And then your in love. I was doing hangs this morning at the Shed cuz my stupid elbow is still tweaked. Feels better though. A couple more weeks of this, midweek hangs without moves, saving myself for Saturday laps at the Tor, and my shoulder should be happy.

Monday, June 16, 2008

and then there was one

Thanks to Phil's shoulder surgery last Friday I'm left scrounging for belays at the Tor. Which would have ruined my week had Micah not manned up for the occasion. So, it was me and the vegeta-bro keeping the funk alive at Santa Maria on Saturday. Things were good. The weather was a touch warm for my liking, 90-ish degrees, but not as oppressive as some days. We got on a bunch of routes, six different ones, eight total. My elbow's not too happy about that which has me wondering if maybe I should skip training this week. Probably I won't. Sounds like Micah enjoyed it too. Some of these routes he hadn't been on before and was pleasantly surprised. As I mentioned, Phil is on the injured list for a while. He had arthroscopic surgery to repair a few problems, most of which were operable without a more invasive procedure. And Phil's prognosis is good despite his surgeon's insistence that this is one truly gnarly looking joint. Four to six weeks of recovery for many years' worth of enjoyment. I'll keep the ticks warm for you, broheim. Saturday's shopping list:

  • Power of Eating (5.11d) - redpoint
  • When the Sea Doesn't Want You (5.12a) - redpoint
  • No Skill (5.12c) - 1 fall
    • I took at the last clip, the jugs on Chips. Totally spent.
  • Hell of the Upside Down Sinners (5.12b) - 1 fell
    • Got to the ledge, tried to recover. Wasn't happening.
  • Anchor Punch (5.12a) - redpoint
    • This is the first time I redpointed this route and on my fifth lap of the day this represents better than usual fitness for me, I think.
  • Auto Magic (5.12a) - 1 fell
    • Pathetic. I clipped the last draw and took. Totally spent.
  • Power of Eating - redpoint
  • Power of Eating - 1 fall
    • Grabbed the chains. Pathetic.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

first wood

Campusing is rad. It's so rad I got up at 5:30 this morning to do it before work. My right elbow is still bothering me a bit so I just did hangs, no moves. And I noticed big moves give my elbow more pain or, I should say, I noticed while hanging that the further my hands are from one another the more it hurts my elbow. My theory is, considering my pronator teres is damaged, whose responsibility is to pronate my hand, that the closer my right hand is to my right shoulder the more extreme the pronation. Observe:

Here, my hands are close together causing minimal pronation.

Increasing the distance between my hands causes my lower hand to approach the level of my shoulder, decreasing the angle at my elbow and exaggerating my hand's pronation.

And here's a photo of me two-finger campusing. No reason.

This maybe doesn't say anything important. I just thought it interesting and not necessarily obvious. I've noticed as I get older avoiding injury is more important than developing strength. It's only when I'm performing near my limit that training is effective, where I can't get with an injury holding me back. Unfortunately, this also is where I'm most likely to sustain damage. Healthy training takes me one step forward while an injury takes me two steps back.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

shouldn't have left you

The Tor doesn't handle rejection well. She knows I was at Joshua Tree two weekends ago then at Pine Mountain last weekend. She doesn't care where I was, just that I wasn't with her. After two weeks away I had to deal with her wrath on Saturday. I felt stronger. Honestly, all the moves felt easier. But I guess the Tor was just messin' with me because the tops of all the routes tired me out bad. It was like she kept luring upward, move to move, route after route, just to spit me off within reach of chains. Just bitter. But I've learned something. DON'T SKIP WEEKENDS AT THE TOR. EVER. Because no matter how bad she kicks my ass, like a red-headed step child, the anger she grows in my absence is too painful to come back to. I either show her the devotion she demands or walk away forever. And I'm not leaving yet. Oh no, Tor. I fought off death to be here and there's no way I'll let something like 'life' get in the way of our romance.

In fact, I'm thinking of spending all weekend with her - from Friday to Sunday, sleeping there both nights, climbing with whoever shows up Saturday and belaying myself Friday and Sunday.

Saturday's routine:

  • Power of Eating (5.11d) - redpoint
  • When the Sea Doesn't Want you (5.12a) - redpoint
  • No Skill (5.12c) - 1 fall at second to last draw
  • Hell of the Upside Down Sinners (5.12b) - 1 fall at ledge
  • Hell of the Upside Down Sinners (5.12b) - 2 falls
  • Anchor Punch (5.12a) - 1 fall at crux
  • Hell of the Upside Down Sinners (5.12a) - 1 fall
  • Power of Eating (5.11d) - 1 fall at second two-finger pocket
Another volume day at the Tor, real boring and real tiring. Totally spent.

Me on Hell of the Upside Down Sinners (5.12b), Phil belaying, and Elhanan (a rare treat) planning.

Me on Hell. Notice the chalk hand print on my back - yeah, the flies were biting.

check it: Owl Tor photos - Saturday June 7, 2008

Monday, June 9, 2008

pronator teres

What I thought might be a serious chronic elbow injury turns out to be not so bad according to my favorite sports therapist, Kevin Brown of Elite Performance and Rehabilitation here in Goleta, CA. I had diagnosed myself (a fool for a patient) with medial epicondylitis several years ago and intermittently since, due most likely to repetitive trauma from climbing, and am glad to have Kevin diagnose me with the least serious of several causes for this pain, an overly developed pronator teres muscle. Kevin is sometimes Chicken Little about injuries, as he's very familiar with power-oriented climbers and their habits, but this time downplayed the severity of my situation. I will continue to climb and train at a somewhat diminished intensity while incorporating his prescribed stretches. And getting some deep tissue massage and acupuncture. News I'm very glad to hear.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Pine Mountain, so divine.

"Let me lay it on the line, I've got two on the vine. Two sets of testicles, so divine." - George Washington rap
Anyways, I went to Pine Mountain last weekend. Rad. You know how occasionally there's this one boulder problem you love for whatever reason. Sometimes no one else even likes it. But there's just something about your movement on it or the feel of the holds that float your boat. Well, almost all the problems I got on at Pine were like that. And I think everyone feels that way about Pine. So, I'm saying it was rad. The air, however, was not rad. It's at like 7,000 feet, which kicked ass on my po' widdle lungs. :( (sad face). It kinda reminded me of gasping breaths during my hospital stint. Not comforting. But probably good for me. Mary cranks, by the way. This was her last trip before moving to Virginia this month. Not rad. She was just runnin' up to boulders like "... what's this? he he he... Oops, I just cranked it...". And it was V-hard something. I'm waiting for her to suggest we put a little money on her sends. She's totally building me up for a hustle. Sucks she's leaving. Virginia's stupid. check it: Pine Mountain photos

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

video of Adam Ondra sending Action Directe

Adam Ondra - Action Directe 11 (+video)
euroclimbing.com - May 23, 2008
kinda rad photos, super rad video at the bottom


I spent the Memorial Day weekend at Joshua Tree. It was good. The weather was unseasonably cool, making conditions unusually comfortable. It's been like 12 years since I was in the park. The group was a bunch of trad climbers... and me. I don't trad climb. Ever. I think it's stupid. But whatever, I gave it another chance. And had fun in the sense that walks on the beach are fun. The trip in general was super rad cuz everyone I met was cool and the park is great.
There's some runout routes at J-Tree. As a friend put it:

"Bachar and Long are assholes." - Gary
On one hand, it was nice of them to put up these routes. On the other hand, redpointing is way harder when I'm crying. Had my cell phone been with me and had there been reception, which it wasn't and there isn't, I probably would have called my mommy in the middle of one 5.9. Three bolts in 50 feet of hell slab is pushing it.

Deb, Marcela, and me trad climbing. That's right, TRAD climbing.

Reflections on a nugget.

Rad light.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Katie Brown. rad.

Katie Brown's rock talk
yourclimbing.com - May 22, 2008
"The clouds rolled in late in the day, and we headed back to town where we sat in a local bar watching, what else, a Spurs basketball game, sampling various cocktails, and munching on sweet potato fries."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

something is not right with Czech kids

Ondra, 15, Repeats Action Directe
climbing.com - May 20, 2008

"Surprisingly for a climber who’s most famous for his outdoor leads, Ondra trains in the off-season almost exclusively on a small bouldering wall—he says he visits indoor lead-climbing gyms only a couple of times each winter."

Monday, May 19, 2008

tons o' fun

Saturday was hot. Real hot. And excruciating. Excruciating because not only was the weather extra hot but Phil and I got on a bunch of routes in quick succession. I joined Phil on his quest for better endurance. We each did 8 laps. Though not a ton of volume the heat made it seem totally epic. We also got on No Skill (5.12c), the variation from Pro Skill (5.12d) to Chips Ahoy (5.12d), as part of our send-athon. This was my first time on it. It's OK. We then proceeded to send almost nothing. After warming up on Power of Eating (5.11d) and When the Sea Doesn't Want You (5.12a) the only other redpoint was from Phil, once, on Hell of the Upside Down Sinners (5.12b). Pretty poor performances from 2 purported 5.13 climbers. I blame much of this on the heat as Phil put down 12 laps the previous week. I'm actually not completely bummed about the day because the effort exhausted me. Any training that painful has to be good for you.
Marcela was back this weekend. I was psyched about that. And I think she was too. She lead for the first time at the Tor, on Power, and looked leagues better than on previous top rope burns. Mary was back as well, working things out on Power, looking close to a redpoint. Everyone had a good time - nice try, Tor.
Marcela on Power of Eating (5.11d)

Me on Old Pro Skill (5.12d)

Monday, May 12, 2008

just like the old days

It was just Phil and me at the Tor on Saturday. Just like how it used to be. For years. And it was rad. We did a lot of climbing in not much time. I did 8 laps, Phil I think did 12, maybe 8 redpoints. I redpointed Better Than Chips (5.12d) for the first time. Super rad route. Instead of the stupid top moves on Chips Ahoy (5.12d), Better Than opts for a dyno (that does not suck) in to Better Than Life (5.13c), then finishes on those chains. The dyno comes right after the obvious rest and it's brilliant. All the Chips variations are genious - Better Than Chips, Bacon Lettuce and Tomato (5.13a), and Atreyu (5.13b). To do these 3 variations in a day would constitute a Chips Triple Crown, which I'm thinking about trying this summer. That will take a truly fit person. Ideally, I will become that fit person during my attempts.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

so many routes, so little time

I've been climbing a lot lately. A lot. And I gotta say... it's been rad. This whole 'never working' thing is great. Case in point: I went to the Tor Saturday, Firecrags Sunday, and the Tor again Monday. And the two weeks prior I was lifting, climbing, running, and "stuff" every day, usually two and three times a day. I put in two burns both Tor days on Better Than Chips, falling a total of four times after the Chips jugs, and I feel like I've climbed a whole lotta Chips. My body feels like a chew toy and I love it. In the bad news department, I may have to return to work Monday. I know, I know - no one wants that less than me. I'm working on a couple schemes to avoid the grind so hopefully I'll pull another month of unemployment. A guy's gotta dream.

The rad dyno on the Chips Ahoy (5.12d) variation in to Better Than Life (5.13c), Better Than Chips (5.12d).The longest clip I've ever done. Step 1: get the quickdraw off my harness.
Step 2: Put the draw on the hanger.
Step 3: Bite the rope.
Step 4: Clip the draw.
Step 5: Get chalk (because this stupid clip just pumped me).
Step 6: Finish the route.