Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Summer Training: Outdoor Extended Traverses

  So as I previously mentioned, with the added muscle mass from all of the weight training and the summer climbing conditions (heat, humidity, and bugs) my outdoor climbing sessions have consisted of high volume climbing; repeating moderate boulder problems with very limited attempts at "difficult" problems in an attempt to avoid discouragement and keep the outdoor climbing fun, varying, and enjoyable.

  These high volume sessions can actually be extremely fun and they offer a ton of hand movements and distance traveled on the rock.  A couple of weeks ago I was having one of these very sessions and yet another idea came to mind...something that I had never attempted while bouldering outdoors.  I decided to omit the traditional problems and instead link some insanely long and sustained rock climbs.  The first "extended" traverse that came to mind was a complete lap around all four sides of the Lookout Boulder at Nine Corner Lake.  In the past I had always warmed up on the Lookout, Traverse (V4) on the side of the boulder where the warm-up classic Stairs (V0) is.  So that took care of being familiar with one of the four sides.  After an hour or so of brushing new holds to utilize in the mega traverse and rehearsing the climbing sequence; I had figured out the entire traverse.  All together, this traverse was over 100 linear feet of climbing with upwards of 70 hand movements.  There was one distinct crux near the boulder problem Cherokee Challenge (V4) while the remainder of the climbing wasn't all too difficult, while decent resting positions and breaks between the more sustained climbing.  I would wager that the full extended traverse is around the V6/7 mark.

  The second mega traverse is actually a linkup between a handful of separate boulders but climbing continues between the erratic's without ever stepping off of the rock and touching the ground.  This traverse sit starts as Pop or Drop (V7) and continues left across the entire southern face of the Fortress Boulder, across the Dagger Boulder, and finishes up the impression face of Tower of Power (V2).  This mega traverse consisted of over 50 linear feet of climbing, 25 vertical feet of climbing up the Tower Boulder and had upwards of 55 hand movements.  These traverses are something completely unique to the Nine Corner Lake Boulders and take on a totally different approach/perspective to Adirondack Bouldering.  I do recall reading in the past however, that Jim Belcer used to do similar traverses and linkups back in the early 1990's at the McKenzie Pond Boulders after being introduced to the concept while bouldering over in Fontainbleau, France.

  So I hope you enjoy this unique video...take it for what it is worth and maybe give these mega traverses a shot nice time you are in the forest and are looking for something new to try!!!

Media Update: 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Getting FIT for Fall 2016

  So after the spring climbing season, I decided to take a new approach to getting FIT for the upcoming fall climbing season which in my opinion is the best climbing season here in the northeast.  My new approach was going to include three distinct training splits/Phases.  The first training split (Phase 1) was focused strictly on raw power and strength.  Phase 2 will focus on finger strength, core strength, and getting extremely lean and shredded (6 week split)  and Phase 3 will be strictly outdoor climbing and performance (6 week split) which should fall right during the October/November climbing months.

PHASE 1:  Strength Training/Power 

  Because of my career as a full time firefighter I thought that incorporating some power and strength training into my long range climbing goal training was not a bad idea.  So phase 1 was pretty straight forward and simple.  The main goal was to get as strong as possible in 10-11 weeks while not worrying too much about my body weight or my outdoor rock climbing performance.  With strength and power gains inevitably comes some muscle and size gains so my thoughts were to embrace these increases while allowing my body to adapt to climbing at a heavier weight.  Projecting difficult rock climbs became obsolete because of the heavier weight load but I was more focused on high volume climbing sessions when I had time to climb outdoors.  

  Here is what the strength training split entailed each week:

  • Weight training 4 times a week
  • Campus Board session once a week 
  • Hangboard Repeaters once a week 
  • Outdoor climbing (high volume sessions) once a week
  • Weighted Pullups once a week 
  • High calorie and protein diet (somewhere around 3,000-3,500 calories a day and 200 g protein)
Here is what was achieved during the strength training split:
(it is important to note that during this training split I could not perform squats or deadlifts due to a herniated L5/S1 disk in my lower back...more to come on this subject later and a recent surgery that I just had on Friday July 15, 2016)
  • I gained roughly 13 lbs of muscle (167.2 lb. to 180.2 lb)
  • Starting measurements:  Bicep R= 14 3/4", L= 14 1/2"
          • Forearm R= 12 1/8", L= 11 7/8"
          • Belly Button = 32 1/2"
          • Waist = 31 1/2"
  • Finishing measurements: Bicep R= 15 1/2", L= 15 1/2"
          • Forearm R= 12 1/2", L= 12 1/4"
          • Belly Button = 33"
          • Waist = 31 3/4"
  • My crimp strength outdoors saw a noticeable decrease 
  • My outdoor climbing endurance actually increased 
  • I was still able to boulder indoors and outdoors at a reasonable level (difficulty-wise) despite the increase in overall bodyweight
  • Overall, my strength and power never reached a plateau during the strength program
  • All of my lifting exercises saw significant improvement 
  1. Bench Press went from 205lb. max to 250lb. max
  2. Weighted Pullup went from 70lb. max to 100lb. max
  3. Reverse Grip Pullup went from 75lb. max to 110lb. max
  4. Barbell Military Press went from 110lb. max to 150lb. max 

 Before and After Photos

Media Update:

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Staying BUSY in the Summer Season!!!

  Bottom line, projecting anything difficult (bouldering-wise) in the summer months SUCKS!!!  The bugs have been brutal at times, the heat and humidity have been through the roof...but it still feels good to try hard every one and a while to see how well the constant training regime is working, or not working.

  Here is a quick breakdown of what my free time during the summer season has consisted of:
  • various projects around the house (landscaping, fence work, pool maintenance, etc.)
  • multiple rounds of golf (maybe 2-3 outings a week)
  • recreational kayaking (at least once a week) 
  • weight lifting (4 times a week)
  • weighed pullups (once a week)
  • outdoor climbing (at least once a week)
  • indoor climbing sessions (2 times a week)
  • hangboard training (2 times a week)
  • campus board training (once a week)
  • designing new hold shapes for Element Climbing and CheapHolds (10-15 hours a week)
Here is a breakdown of the results from everything listed above:  
  1. The house work is going well but the list of projects has not been completed, yet
  2. My golf game is definitely improving but there is still significant roof for further improvement
  3. I can kayak for quite a long time without getting fatigued 
  4. All of my major lifts have gone up significantly (personal all-time bests in bench press, shoulder press, squat, deadlift, and barbell curl)...but with that has come some pretty good size/mass gain.  I have gained about 10 pounds in the past 10 weeks 
  5. My weighted pullups have increased each week for the past 10 weeks.  I do a warm up set at bodyweight for 10 reps then do the following reps with added weight:  8, 6, 4, 6, 8 and bodyweight again to cool off.  When I started it was 15lb for 8, 25lb for 6 and 35lb for 4 and then back to 25lb for 6 and 15lb for 8 then bodyweight for 10.  I am now at 32.5lb-8 reps/42.5lb-6 reps/52.5lb-4 reps for the 8/6/4/6/8 split 
  6. The outdoor sessions have been enjoyable simply because I am outside on real rock but it has been nearly impossible to do anything that is very difficult or demanding.  These sessions have been more focused on high volume climbing then difficult climbing
  7. I am seeing good improvements on the home wall but the added body-weight can definitely be felt.  It will be interesting to see how much stronger my fingers feel at the end of the summer when I cut back down for the fall climbing season
  8. The campus board is finally my "friend" for the first time ever since I started climbing in 2004!  I actually look forward to the campus sessions and tracking my progress.  I am confident that this training will transfer well to strength outdoors this fall.
  9. Designing new holds is always refreshing and when unveils my Crater series set for them later this summer/fall I think that people are really going to enjoy them.  As of right now, there are 125 hand holds and 20 foot holds in the entire Crater series psyched!!! 
I can't finish a blog post without some sort of media, so below is a video I put together that will serve as a beta/sequence refresher for me for better climbing conditions since I have not been able to successfully climb this problem.  This video is of a sick V8 that Evan Race established at the State Brook Mountain Boulders in Arietta, New York called Champagne and Cocaine (V8).  State Brook was mentioned in the Adirondack Bouldering Guidebook but didn't have any problems established until after the book printing.  It would be a safe assumption that this place will blow up this fall when development can commence again!

Media Update:

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Snowy Mountain Session with Friends

  Two weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to have a Friday off of work and was able to meet up with some good friends at the Snowy Mountain Boulders in Indian Lake, New York.  I hadn't been back to this area since last fall (November 9, 2015) to be exact when I had an epic session and was able to top out both of the V11 problems on the Never Boulder; Salamander Slayer (V11) and There Are no Salamanders in Hueco (V11).  Needless to say, I  was super excited to get back up there to spend the day with Murph, Strazza and Sada.

  Murphy hadn't been to Snowy Mountain in a couple of years and set his sights on finally sticking the dyno move on Never Left Hueco (V8).  The move itself is not difficult for someone who has a decent wingspan; however for a shorter climber like Murph this move could feel nearly impossible or double-digits in comparison.  He wasn't able to stick the move but with a power spot we were able to finally determine that he can make the huge move and his psych for the problem was at an all time high.  I took a screen shot from a video showing one of his attempts on the dyno and if you look closely, he in nearly on the hold!  So pumped for the little guy!!!  Strazza and his girlfriend Sada have both recently returned home from a lengthy climbing trip and they looked fit as ever.  Being able to climb on real rock for an extended period of time definitely helps with technique, strength and power and it was pretty evident watching the two of them climb.

  I am looking forward to our next session together, but not looking forward to the flying insect invasion!  It was unbearable at times up there in the forest.

Media Update:

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Another Nine Corner First Ascent

  Somehow, someway the cresting wave feature on the Wave Boulder at Nine Corner Lake has finally seen an ascent, actually back-to-back ascents recently.  On April 20th I took my puppy for a hike up to the boulders and decided to spend some time properly cleaning the slab beneath the wave feature so it could be attempted properly.  After an hour or so of cleaning and inspecting the upper holds to make sure they were solid I left for the day confident that the problem was possible and was totally psyched to try it.

  I returned the following day with a bunch of the crew and after warming up in the first set, Zone A I was easily able to convince everyone to head back to the Wave Boulder with me so we could try the new problem out.  After a half dozen or so bailed attempts high off of the deck and a wavering psych level, everyone convinced me that I had enough reach to stick the lip hold that had given me trouble on every previous attempt.  After a short rest and a "screw it, here I go" mentality I found myself back on the large sidepulls at the base of the cresting wave feature, some 12-15ft. off of the ground.  With a solid confidence in my spotters and myself I finally fully committed to the scary move to the lip and somehow stuck it for the first time.  The compression from the left hand sidepull down low under the wave feature and the right hand on the lip was super solid, but I was completely sprawled out and felt like I couldn't move.  One last jump move, left hand to the flat part of the boulder on the top of the wave made my feet cut wildly and my body felt like it went parallel to the ground.  I had stuck the last hard/scary move and the problem had seen a long awaited first ascent.  This wasn't nearly my most difficult boulder problem ever done, but I can say that it was probably the most committing.  Needless to say, the crew and I were extremely enthralled!

  Mitch Hoffman's good climbing friend from Texas and newest SAC crew member, J.P. Cashiola used that energy to make a quick second ascent of the problem.  He also agreed that the finished move was super committing and scary.  Good on ya mate!

Thanks to Keith Banta for some more excellent photographs from the afternoon/evening session.

Media Update: 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

State Brook Mountain Development

  Recently there has been a development furry at the State Brook Mountain Boulders which are about 10 miles north of Nine Corner Lake in Arietta, New York.  Anyone who currently owns a copy of my bouldering guidebook; New York:  Adirondack Park Bouldering has probably glanced at some of the images of the boulders found there and maybe has read a bit about the area and the history behind the discovery of the massive blocks.

  A couple of weeks ago, close friend Keith Banta made the first known bouldering development trip into these boulders to see for himself what they had to offer.  On his initial visit, Banta was blown away by one boulder in particular because of its' steep wall aspect and the fact that the boulder had a plethora of handholds.  He unfortunately was limited on time on his first visit so his development efforts were cut short.  

  Two weeks after that first visit, Ken Murphy ventured back to the set of boulders with local strongmen Evan Race and Daniel Pinto.  All three of them were able to successfully climb the boulder problem that Keith Banta had envisioned and the birth of the State Brook Mountains Boulders had officially commenced with the establishment of a very powerful V7/8.  I made a solo trip in shortly thereafter and began "preparing" more boulders for future climbing efforts and (4) moderate problems (V0-V4) were added to the established problem list.  To be completely honest, it is daunting how much potential this small cluster of boulders holds for quality boulder problems.  

  Ken Murphy and I returned last Friday to continue development efforts and again an additional (2) boulder problems were established on the steep boulder, these falling at V5 and V3 but are extremely good, high quality boulder problems.  I am anxious to see what else will come from this area in the future.  A word of caution...the bugs are already becoming very distracting in the southern portion of the Adirondack Park!  

Media Update:

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Green Lake Boulders

  Here is a nice little video compilation from a recent solo bouldering session at the Green Lake Boulders in Caroga Lake, New York.  The easy accessibility of these boulders and the high concentration of problems make it an ideal stop for a short climbing session and an excellent workout.  I hope you enjoy the video edit!

  Boulder problems include:  Lock, Stock and Barrel (V6), an attempt of Bullseye, Stand (V9), Pistol Grip (V6), Knee Deep (V8) and Live Free or Die (V6).

Media Update:

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Some History Behind Nine Corner Lake

  A couple of weeks ago, I received a paypal payment notification for a copy of the New York:  Adirondack Park Bouldering guidebook.  When I logged in to see the buyers address so I could print a shipping label, the name sounded extremely familiar.  After thinking about it for a while, I remembered that I had seen the name on an old guidebook draft that Arien Cartrette (aka Groover) had done back in the early 2000's for Nine Corner Lake.  Jay Shultis was credited for some first ascents on the Lost Dog Boulder in Zone A at Nine Corner Lake.

  Jay's guidebook purchase was extremely ironic because I had just recently devoted some time to "reclaiming" one of his boulder problems, Survivor (V4) which was an attractive arete climb that always caught my attention but was completely grown in and dirty.  In addition to needing some TLC, I also wasn't quite sure how the problem started or finished for that matter so this was a perfect time to reach out to the first ascentionist himself.  Within an hour or so of sending out my first email to Jay Shultis, I had a very nice detailed response and even a handful of his personal pictures (see below) from back on May 30, 2004 when he and friends put up some new climbs on the Lost Dog Boulder.  The pictures of the climb and the confirmation of the start/finish points fueled my psych to finally try the problem; but I think the most interesting part of Jay's email was the story behind the name of both the boulder and the boulder problem.

  Back on May 30, 2004 while climbing at Nine Corner Lake and developing new problems; Jay's dog somehow managed to get separated from the climbing group.  They looked all over for the dog but were unable to locate it.  Nervous and concerned for the worse, Jay was forced to leave with the fading light.  He returned everyday for the next week trying to find his dog...he check with local homeowners and stores, asked hikers, anyone who might be able to help.  Nine days after the dog's disappearance, Jay received a call from someone in Caroga Lake who had found his dog.  When the dog got separated from the group, it had a dog harness on which was attached to a rope.  It is assumed that these items got tangled somewhere in the forest stranding the dog.  When the dog was discovered by a local from Caroga Lake, it had apparently chewed through it's harness and ended up making a full recovery from the whole ordeal.  Now that is an awesome story!

  Below are Jay's pictures from "back in the day" at Nine Corner Lake.  Also, the two problems depicted in Jay's photos that he established; Survivor (V4) and The Banana (V5) are the first two boulder problems in my short video.  Also it is worth noting that the original Survivor problem started higher that I did in the video, with left hand on the sloper sidepull and right hand on the jug.  Enjoy!

Media Update:  

The Banana (V5)

The Banana (V5)

Survivor (V4)

Jay Shultis on the first ascent of Survivor (V4)- circa 2004

Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Recent Adirondack First Ascent

  As some of you may already know...Ken Murphy has recently moved back home and is already actively pursuing new boulders and boulder problems in the Adirondack Park.  I had a chance to catch up with Murph last week after I received a handful of text messages and pictures showcasing a stunning arete that he cleaned in the southern portion of The Park.  The new problem appeared to be 20-25 feet tall, was slightly overhanging, had good looking holds, and offered a relatively flat landing.  All of these qualities and a stern confidence in Murph's credibility for good rock climbs got me extremely excited/psyched to get on the problem.

  We headed back to the undone problem together a couple of days after his initial cleaning and projecting session and I was immediately blown away. The arete looked incredible from the ground and a really efficient climbing sequence had already been discovered.  Murph sent the problem on his first attempt of the day and I quickly repeated this classic climb for the second ascent.  The problem, known now as Geometric Quagmire (V5) ended up being a bit easier than initially expected, but the movement and exposure on the upper moves make up for the lack in difficulty.  This could very well be one of the best moderate boulder problems in the Adirondacks!

Media Update:

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Little Rock City, TN (aka Stone Fort)

  I recently returned from a very quick climbing trip down to one of the southeast's popular bouldering destinations...Little Rock City (aka Stone Fort).  This extensive collection of sandstone boulders lie in the woods adjacent to a golf country club called Montlake Country Club in Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee.  The bouldering there is extremely good with high quality rock, a good concentration of varying difficulty, massive boulders, and for the most part a pretty laid-back southeast atmosphere.  A climbing day use fee ($8/pp) is paid right at the golf clubhouse and from there it is only a short 5-10 minute walk to the boulders, depending on which area you want to start climbing.  

  Leading up to this much anticipated trip I had scoured the internet for bouldering videos in an attempt to compile a reasonable list of problems that I at least wanted to try while I was there.  A handful of these problems appeared to be my "style" of boulder problems and I had very high expectations to successfully climb some of them.  We were in Tennessee for 4 days and climbed 3 full days at LRC.  At the end of it all, the tick list was pretty extensive and I was more than pleased with the overall outcome on the trip.  A unsuccessful problem that I still can't shake from my memory is a climb called Deception (V7).  Out of everything on my list, this problem was the one that definitely meant the most to me and unfortunately I had to head back to New York without topping it out.  I made a pivotal  mistake and did not try Deception until our last day and at the end of that was literally the last boulder problem that I tried to climb while down at Little Rock City.  I already have plans to revisit this area in October/November to give myself another chance on some of the problems that I had to walk away from.  

FIRST DAY SENDS (** flash)

  • Fire Cracker Flake (V1) **
  • Seam Eliminate (V3) **
  • Needless Things (V0) **
  • Aneardon (V6)
  • Genghis Khan (V5)
  • Manute Bol (V6)
  • Keel Hauled (V3) **
  • Dragon Lady (V4) *
  • Tristar (V4)
  • Latin for a Dagger (V5)
  • The Wave (V6)
  • Art of the Vogi (V4) **
  • Spit Shine (V0) **
  • Rail Rider (V4) **
  • Pleidas (V4)
  • Super Mario (V4) **
  • Super Mario Extension (V6)
  • These Feel Like Your Sisters (V3)
  • Uncle Punchy (V1)
  • Drag Me Down (V1)
  • Art of the Vogi (V4)- repeat
  • Art of the Vogi, Left (V6)
THIRD DAY SENDS (** flash)
  • Shaggy (V1) **
  • Incredarete (V1) **
  • The Eliminator (V7)
  • Two Can Sam (V3) **
  • Slice (V4) **
  • Green Machine (V4) **
  • Face in the Crowd (V7)
  • Grimace (V8)
  • Heroin (V7)
  • White Trash (V5) 
Media Update:  

(a majority of these photos were taken by my good friend and extremely talented photographer Keith Banta.  Check out some more of his work here: )