Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Few Thoughts from Tonight

Today while eating dinner I took a bite from a tart red apple, a staple for my family's meals during the autumn and winter seasons, and with that sour taste and the already yellowing leaves outside it's only a matter of time before fall comes along in full force; bringing with it cool temperatures perfect for climbing. And school. Starting for me in three two days and my first AP class awaiting, I feel that certain last-day-before-school-dreading. On top of that, once I finish the the small booklet of forms and tax garbage Scott C. handed me; I'll be off to some mild training followed by my first job, working at the best climbing gym in the country Earth Treks Climbing Centers which is arguably also my home.

Of course, it's not that I'm stressed out about all of this stuff that's happening, it's that I'm worried it will get in the way of my climbing during the prime seasons of the year. Earth Treks Climbing Team starts in a few months so I'll be training 3-4 days a week while trying to get out to local Maryland and Pennsylvanian crags on the weekends. I'm just not sure that will be able to happen with an increased workload and job responsibilities.

One thing I'm REALLY PSYCHED on though is the prospects of the Team taking a winter trip to Hueco Tanks, something I've wanted to do since I ever started climbing! Also there is a good chance of going out to Joe's Valley for a week during Spring Break and meeting a friend - a new resident to SLC -Mr. Alex LeBlanc. Potential outdoor trips like these really get me pumped to train more so than any competition ever could... Though I'm also excited to compete this up coming bouldering, after placing 23rd in last year's Youth ABS Nationals, and after that maybe the Youth SCS Nationals tooo?

Giving a burn on Black Lung V13
Roping. I've been climbing for two years now and always have been afraid of lead climbing - the falling, the fear of heights, the pumped feeling - everything! Because of that, I've been focused on bouldering the whole time. Recently though, I want to give leading another try. So far I'm getting more comfortable with falling, the heights, and, after getting to the top of a hard route, the pumped feeling is almost rewarding. Hopefully trips to the New and Red River Gorges ensue, those places look B-E-A-UTIFULLL!
Anyways, I thought it would be a good time for me to set personal climbing goals for the next year because I'm not too sure if I'll have time until this time next year!
Climb V12/13 by this time one year from now.
Problems I want to do:
Joe's Valley-
Angler V2
Chips V7
Ghost King V11
Jitterbug Perfume V11
Mass Hysteria V11
Black Lung V13
Blackout V13
Hueco Tanks-
1. Lessen the fear of falling.
2. Go to the Red and the New.
3. Climb 12d/13a by this time next year.

All in all I think it's going to be a great year! It's like Alex Lowe said:
"The best climber in the world is the one who's having the most fun!"

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Different Kind of Climbing

The back seat of my truck turned into the stage for some pretty deep conversation during our nine hour journey to the Red River Gorge in Kentucky. My friend Kerry and I got going on our opinions about the sport of climbing, and how this adverse lifestyle can differ amongst its participants.

Corey crushing Convicted, 5.13a, at the Motherlode, Red River Gorge Kentucky 

I was recently reading an Internet article, which expressed the opinions of outdoor climbers about indoor climbers. Because this article was relevant to our discussion, I passed it back to Kerry, who became instantly enraged after reading these arrogant, entitled climbers' opinions. They stated simply, that those who don’t climb on real rock aren't real rock climbers.

Do I agree with this statement?

 Absolutely not! Some of us aren’t as fortunate as others to live close to crags other than the local bouldering cave down on Fleet St., but does that mean we don’t deserve to be "legitimate" rock climbers? I believe that just because all of us "gym rats" can't afford to climb regularly at an outdoor scene doesn't mean we should be discredited as real rock climbers.

But I don’t completely disagree with this statement either.

Climbing is meant to be a natural relationship between the climber and rock. It is impossible to imitate this bond artificially in a gym, on plastic holds, but does that mean it shouldn’t be done? No. The climbing scene would be a fraction of its present-day size without these up and coming young guns, and the development of the sport would get closer and closer to becoming non-existent. Therefore I believe that the indoor scene should come second to the “real deal”, but not become disregarded entirely. I mean outdoor routes are out there for hundreds of thousands of years and for a few minutes, you can be a part of them —a part of the landscape— compared to an indoor problem which once it's taken down it will likely be forgotten forever. Committed indoor climbers do what they can to make it out, but sometimes this becomes virtually impossible. Ignorant outdoor climbers need to realize that most people don’t live on KY 11, for example, and can’t be right outside the gates of world-class climbing.

Climbing is what you make it, and if you're doing it for the right reasons, it doesn't matter what others think. You climb for yourself, and nobody else.

Climbing Kinship

Spring break, Thanksgiving break, Summer - no matter which school break it is, it's always spent climbing. All extraneous time is spent climbing for that matter. Our devotion to this lifestyle can only be described as an complex obsession most "ground walkers" can't even comprehend.

We are undeniably a different breed of  people.

The past couple trips I've taken to the Red River Gorge, Kentucky, have definitely shed light on the outdoor climber breed; especially since I'm always around the average indoor climber.
 As soon as you step outside into that dirtbagger paradise, you notice a change in the type of people . The climbers' appearances, morals, ethics, and lifestyle all change. Everything is based generally around respect. I know this sounds cliche, but most climbers tend to operate on the golden rule more-so than others.

Treat others the way you would like to be treated.

One early morning I checked my phone and saw it was in desperate need of a charge.  I walked up to Miguel's and plugged it in at a table that conveniently had a plug overhead.  Leaving it there, I had faith no one would steal it while I cooked breakfast and packed gear. Before I knew it, we were all ready for the day of climbing, and I didn't even think twice about my phone charging in the restaurant. After ten long hours of sandstone sending (wow, that's a tongue twister), I remembered my phone, still charging, and frantically went to go check on it. It was still there, making me think... climbers are awesome. You know as well as I do that had you done the same in school during your first period class , it would be long gone before your second period late bell even rang.

The next day I encountered a similar scenario except the roles were switched. I ran across a line with brand-new shiny Petzl Spirits left on the hangars. I just figured someone was working the route and I moved on, thinking to myself, anyone could get up there and take the gear, but you don't. Plain as day. I guess what I'm stabbing at is that climbers are, in fact, awesome and we're all a big family; a community of people sharing more than just rocks, a friendship. A climbing kinship.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Squamish Special

A dense tree canopy above the bouldering keeps out all but the most determined sun rays and, during heavy rain, a dry piece of stone can always be found.

Squamish, British Columbia.


My parents and I drove into the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park Campground, our brand-spankin'-new rental car, a Chevy Impala, immediately sticking out of place in the beat-up van and camper dominated parking lot. We quickly unpacked my gear, hauling it to the campsite a friend of mine, Robin C., had reserved. Hastily said good-byes ensued, and after handing me $75 my parents were off, not to be seen for another week...

Later that evening the rest of the group - Mike R., Mike B., Becca, and Jsun - arrived. With clouds overhead we hunkered down for the night, making sure our tents wouldn't be vanquished by the force of the infamous rain.

DAY 1 - It rained. ALL DAY. Spent grocery shopping and boulder hopping.

DAY 2 - SUNNY! Psyche was high and the day's mission went something like this:
CLIMB EVERYTHING! I seriously have not climbed that much in my life! Most of the problems were easy but who cares, they were amazing. After a quick meal at the Howe Sound Brewery, we went back to our car (now converted into a kitchen), planned out the climbs we wanted to check out the next few days and sat back in awe of the chief now a reddish hue from the fishing lights on the bay.

DAY 3 - I woke up to rain thudding on my tent. Not cool. We bugged out in the car all day, watching Big Up Films and hoping that this wouldn't happen for the remainder of our trip. That afternoon Mike and I hiked around looking for boulders we wanted to try.

DAY 4 - Rain again. Decided to hike the Chief, which was a terrible idea as everything was super slick and the view at the top was terrible...

DAY 5 (Robin left for bigger and better things in Boulder, CO...), 6, 7, and 8 - Molded together into something that could only be described as a epic sending fiasco. After sending about 50 problems ranging from V0 to V10 , these were the stand-out favorites:

Encore Une Fois V11: Without a doubt one of the best problems I've ever tried. It's movement is insane and one of the major cruxes for me was learning how to say it correctly...  No send, but I will. Someday.

No Troblems V9/10: Grade aside, this is one of the coolest featured problems in the forest. From a perfect compression couple of moves to a roof sequence with perfect holds to a top out with the perfect hand jam, this problem is well: perfect! I thought I might die on the down climb though...

Mind-Bender Low V9: Compression problem on crimp rails, how could you go wrong? Only wish was that it was 10 moves longer. We met a family from Montreal at this problem - the 2 year old son shouting "ALLEZ" definently helped me get up the problem...

Trad Killer V4: My all time favorite climb in the forest. Don't know why but it got me so psyched to climb more. SO GOOD!

Teenage Lobotomy V6: H-H-Highball? 25 feet high, bad landing, amazing climb. Just wish I could have mustered up some courage to climb past the crux.

Minor Threat V6: Super aesthetic, almost doesn't look like granite? Super dynamic!

Probably the most important thing that happened to me on the trip was my motivation to climb changed. Up until now, all I wanted was to be the best - do the hardest possible moves and if it wasn't at my limit I just wasn't interested. I was grade chasing.
After climbing at Squamish; after meeting people from all over the world, of all different climbing abilities and ethical beliefs, I realized that in the broad scheme of things, being the best doesn't matter. For me, the only reason to climb hard is to open up more beautiful climbs that happen to be hard. Certainly, I still seek out problems at my limit but not at the cost of missing out on a four-star moderate. Of course, these are just thoughts from an ordinary climber.