Welcome to my blog. Feel free to search around the archives for some great pictures and what led up to now.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Lincoln Woods

The other day I was able to make it out to Lincoln Woods in Rhode Island with a friend of mine, named John.  Of course it's pretty humid up here in New England (very unlike El Paso,) so we tried to head out a little early.  We didn't quite make it until a little after 9am though, so it had already warmed up quite a bit.  We started off on some boulders in a warm-up area and John and I both got on a V4 and then tried the V9 sit start to it.  It didn't make a lot of sense though, and we headed to another area.  We went to a V6/7 called lodhi's revenge and a V5 called Try Again.  I flashed the V5 but the conditions made the other problem not very fun so we agreed to make the rest of our time a scouting trip and set off to find The Chelsea Smile, a V13/14.

The Chelsea Smile is a stout looking, 4-move, crimpy problem; in which all the holds are brutally uncomfortable.  Right now, I think it could go in time, but since I didn't actually give it any goes, I'm not really sure.  I'll have to update this fall when the temps are better.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Campus Training and Golgi Epiphany

When I was at Baylor, I climbed a lot with a doctor named Steve Martin (Nelson Martin for those of you who have seen the Hueco Tanks orientation video) and  I remember him telling my about golgi bodies in the tendons.  I didn't really know what they were but that they basically make your hands let go.

Last Friday I did a campus workout and for the first time climbed after it and I have found something out that I wanted to share.  The process is called neuromuscular disinhibition.  Basically the golgi organ causes your hands, by a release of proteins to release when it reaches peak tension.  Campus board training teaches your hands to have a higher tolerance for what that peak is.

I haven't found a whole lot of material on this besides the Nicros  website, particularly in a Q&A session with Eric J. Horst.  It is brief but reads as such:

How to train for neuromuscular disinhibition?

Q:What is the best way to disinhibit the golgi tendon organ? Can you give me a single best training tip on this? – Jake (Moab, UT)

"Hey Jake,
That’s a pretty high-end training question. Regarding neuromuscular disinhibition, the best strategies are hypergravity training (bouldering/training with weight added to your body) and dynamic campus training (i.e. double hand dynos). Of course, both these strategies are stressful and not appropriate for many climbers. However, if you are in really good shape, already possess great technique, and you are not injured (fingers, shoulders, elbows), then you might try adding some of this to your regimen. My book, Training For Climbing, covers this subject and provides more in-depth details. Also, this winter I’ll be adding a few articles to the Nicros Training Center detailing safe, effective methods of Campus Training. Please check back!"

Eric Horst

As Eric briefly mentions, this type of training is not for many climbers.  Campus boards are used to train your hands to accept the amount of weight and force that you have already generated the strength for.  The golgi bodies are a safeguard to keep you from getting hurt and training above what you can handle is in the realm of popping tendons (sometimes irreparable damage).  BUT, for those who are to this point in their climbing and training, here is what I found out last week.

I started my session with some easy climbing and progressed up to about V8.  From there, I met up with a guy and did a campus board session. It was on small rungs starting on 1, campusing up each rung to 5 and then back down again.  After I finished I got back on and noticed something that really came as a revelation to me.  I noticed that on the problems I got on I was having a lot of trouble with dynamic movement in a big way.  Anything that was static, even a bad hold, was solid, allowing me to move to and from with ease.  Anything that was any bit of a jump, however, my hand just gave out.

This is it.  This is the epitome of climbing training.  There is no specific muscle group or movement you can ever work to make yourself instantly better at climbing.  You could be amazing at one arm pull-ups, but if you can't hold the holds, you aren't doing yourself a lot of good.  If you can hold onto the holds statically, but not dynamically, you are really limiting the types of climbs you can do.

My suggestion to anyone trying to break a plateau or just climb harder is to train all types of movements.  I was told this for years and didn't listen and now I finally get it.  I am sure there will be a lot more campusing in my future, so I will keep you updated as to how it affects my climbing overall, but it shouldn't be anything but positive.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Training and Motivation

This time it seems that I am sticking to my training a lot better. 

With Alex at the farm three days a week, it gives me a good amount of time to get into the gym and climb.  Yesterday I went in and worked on some stuff with some really strong guys.  I first got to the gym and it was packed, but there was a lot of new stuff up to warm up on so I got straight on the wall.  From V4s to V9s, there was plenty of stuff.  A lot of the stuff went first go, but I got stuck on a V6 that had a pretty tensiony sloper move that went to a pinch around a corner.  After trying to cheat past the move, I conceded to doing it the way it was intended and finally got it.

Then it was time to work the V9.  It was an undercling to two pinches and a large move to a sloper (at this point you should all know how much I love slopers) and then a left hand to another sloper pinch.  I tried and tried, but I couldn't get it.  After giving up on that problem, I started to go catch up on all the other new stuff in the gym.  I did all the V4s and up and went to go see what other stuff was around.  I ran into Josh Larson and began to boulder with him on some stuff he was making up.  It was HARD and Josh is a strong climber; which leads me to a conclusion about my climbing and motivation.

I have always been pretty natural at climbing, however I have never been that strong.  There is something that pushes me within climbing itself that makes me want to get better.  The grading scale helps with that, which is why I think it's a little silly when people say grades don't matter.  You shouldn't be walking around bragging about how hard you climb, but climbers don't get the luxury of beating a best time or score.  All we have to measure progress universally is grades. (and even those are often pretty subjective.)

Part of what pushes me though is people better than me.  Not because I want to be better than them, but because if I see a guy having a hard time with a move I'm working and then I see him get on a much harder problem I see that I'm not as far as I thought.  I may not try those moves in that V13, unless I see a guy I know is a little stronger than me stick them.  This is where I have had issues.  I have always climbed by myself or in pretty obscure locations.  I started at Baylor, where I climbed so often that I quickly became one of the best climbers there.  Then, I climbed at Hueco Tanks, but most of the time alone.  After that, I climbed at Fort Bliss, where most of the other climbers were beginners.  This makes it hard to push yourself; especially when you are doing most of the setting for yourself.

My recommendation for anyone is to find a climbing partner.  The best scenario is someone that is about you same grade, but a totally different climbing style than you.  If you are best at climbing steep crimps, climb with someone that climbs burly compression problems.  Or even mix it up and get with a sport climber, (whoa, crazy).

Friday, May 30, 2014


Well,  last night I went into the gym and climbed around.  It went petty well,  but I figured out something about myself.  I am terrible at slopers.  People always joked that I would be more likely to crimp a sloper than to hold it properly but I never realized to what extent. 

If the sloper has a thumb-catch, I am typically okay, but big, exposed slopers with nothing but sloping surface really get me.  Even slopers that you can kind of "meat-hook" aren't too bad, but something about them is really hard for me.  It also doesn't help that I spent the last 3 years climbing at Hueco Tanks where slopers are not as common.

Here is the problem I was having trouble with.  It's probably about a V8 and I kept getting to the last move and not being able to get to the finish.

One thing that was nice, however, was that I was working on a problem that one of the guys there made up which involved two of what I previously thought were my weaknesses, and did very well.  The first was a very dynamic move to a small crimp, which was much harder than I expected it to be.  Then I pulled up from there with just one hand on the small crimp past my shoulder rotation reach, relying solely on my left bicep.
It is really great to be seeing results from my workouts.  I hope they keep coming.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Staying With It.

Well, I am still training regularly and I have taken my Metolius Rock Rings to work now.  This should help with the plan I have in place since I can't mount my hangboard right now in the new apartment I am moving into next week.  Hopefully I can fashion something out of my "perfect pull-up" bar.  I am sure I'll put up pics when I do.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Setting at Metro Rock

Well, I am going to start setting as a volunteer at Metro Rock. To complete this task, I bought my first grigri. I have always been old fashioned about belaying and the most advanced thing I bought was an ATC Guide when I though I might do some multipitch stuff. It is nice to get one though. I feel like I can get back on rope legitimately now. Speaking of getting on rope, I did get on yesterday and almost flashed a 5.12d. That was pretty nice for my confidence considering I haven't been on rope for 4 years. Also, here is a video Alex took of me on a V6 last week at the gym.

Monday, May 12, 2014

More training and Alex visits the gym.

On Friday, Alex and I went to Metro Rock.  I feel safe saying that she thoroughly enjoyed it. We both bouldered the whole time and ended up climbing for about three hours.  It was a lot of fun and Alex was pretty fearless.   If we can get into the gym more often it would be really great to see how she likes getting on rope too. 
Also,  I have been continuing my workout regiment at work during lunch and is going pretty well.  I don't know what the total gains are but I can pull down 120 pounds with one arm,  which means I am only 25 pounds from doing a one arm pull-up.  Tonight on my computer I will add some content.   Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Serious this time.

Training has always been a big obstacle for me.  I get really motivated, start climbing all the time, get to training, and then some major shift happens in my life and I stop.  I have realized though, that I am only getting older and will eventually see decreased gains in performance and so now is the time to act.  I want to send a V14 before I am maxed out and that is going to take some serious work.  Right now, since my break from June 2013 to about March 2014, I have dropped down to about V9-10 and I need to build it back up.  I can get the moves in V11s, but I don't have the endurance to complete a V11 if my life depended on it.  I get through most 8s and am completely spent.

Therefore, I have dedicated a good bit of my lunch break to training, as well as getting into the gym more often and training at home.

I now keep my powerballs at work and use them on the lat-pull-down machine.  It works really well to focus on specific muscle groups and gets me a pretty good sloper workout at the same time.  It's not too bad.  I am measuring my progress on a one-arm pullup as well from these workouts and I am getting closer. 

I intend to keep this up and update you all as I go.  Maybe I'll discover something wonderful.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Back at the Gym

I haven't posted in a while, but I have been climbing.  For the first time since last June, I have been into a gym.  I bought a two-week pass to Metro Rock Gym, which I reviewed in an earlier post and it was great.  I have lost a lot of strength, but I am really motivated to climb hard again.  I am down a few grades, but I can feel the gains coming back, and my finger injury seems to have completely healed.  I probably won't buy a pass quite yet, as I am not sure how much I will be able to get to the gym between school and work.  During the summer for sure though.  Hopefully all the time.

Also, as a very small milestone, this is my 100th post on my blog.  Whoopeee!!!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Cold Cold Cold!

Well, I finally bundled up and went out to climb in the cold.  I have to say that if you start out warm, and have a bit of a hike in, it really isn't that bad.  My problem with the cold is that I usually don't start out warm.

I didn't get on but one problem, but it felt nice to be on real rock.  It was maybe a little V2 at most but I played around on it doing different variations for about 30 min.  It helped that my back was to the sun, so I really stayed warm.  Unfortunately, to take these pictures, I stepped in the snow with my climbing shoes and my feet got very cold very quickly.

Regardless, I think that I may be able to get out to Farley Ledge and do some stuff on a particularly warm weekend.  That would be nice.

But since Mass is so cold, I have been confined to climbing in my basement on my hangboards, rock rings, and powerballs.  As the picture a few posts back has shown, I do have a small piece of plywood that has 5 t-nuts in it for switching out holds.  However, not being satisfied with that, I decided to put up more holds.  Being out of t-nuts and having a box full of broken holds, I decided to drill holes in the holds and make them screw-ons.  They worked beautifully and I successfully set a very difficult training problem across the length of my basement.  Most of the holds are pretty small and don't need much in the way of fasteners, so they now have two screws each.  I have worked the whole problem and when I get it I will try to snap a video to show how it goes.  Until then.