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

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Boulders - Madison, WI

Alex's sister's wedding shower was this past weekend and we made a trip up to Madison, Wisconsin to visit and take part.  The in-laws and many of their friends were there and it was nice to see trees and grass, if only for a few days.  While we were up there, we went out with friends, saw some local attractions and did family bonding type things.

As is the norm on any vacation, I made an attempt to go climbing.  For this locale, it was the local gym, Boulders Rock Gym.  After climbing there, I came to some interesting conclusions about gyms.

First off, gym prices are outrageous.  First off, I had to pay $14.00 just to boulder.  I was maybe there 2 hours at most, and no climbing is worth that.  I paid $70.00 for my parks pass and about $7.00 in gas to get out to Hueco maybe costing me a total of $10.00 or so per trip, and I STILL think that is high.  At a lot of gyms, if you want to boulder only, you can pay a discounted fee.  Of course this is hard to regulate, considering you can't always ensure the climbers will stay off rope, but $14.00!

Anyway...rant over, the next thing I noticed has to do with setting and rating.  I understand that in a gym that is in Madison, Wisconsin, you can probably set things pretty slopey. But...when it gets to be 80 degrees outside and you don't turn on the A/C and your gym is nearly 90 degrees, you have to consider that none of those "sick" sloper problems are going to be any fun.  I understand that you can't always predict the weather outside, but you go to a gym to train first, then if you want to set a nemesis and climb all day on one problem, go for it.  The gym had a good number of good boulder problems, but everything had a slopey pinch on the left hand for the crux.  Not just a pinch, an inverted wedge on a roof slopey.  I was getting spit off of V5s based solely on one hold.  Which leads me to my next point.  Rating.

I have been to and worked at a lot of gyms.  Every place has a different setting, rating and climbing style.  Whether they may have big juggy throws, or crimpier is synonymous with harder, or slow static movements, the ratings vary greatly depending on the style.  However, this is the first gym I have ever been to that gimmicky was how they based their ratings.  Granted, I almost fell off a V3 because it was so dang hot and humid, but there was this V7 that had these slopers that were just not to be grabbed.  Each problem had a move in it that was just too tricky to get every time.

Some may read this and say "Oh, Eric, you are just bitter you got spit off a V7" or "It just sounds like you need to get on more sloper pinches" and that is fine.  My issue is not that I didn't get a problem, or not even about a grade, but rather that this is someone's home gym.  I can only imagine that there are guys that do climb these boulder problems and are super frustrated with their ability.

At our gym on Fort Bliss, they have for a while now, not rated the problems.  That is fine, except people are going to want to know regardless.  Their justification for it is that they don't want kids (by that I mean Soldiers) climbing a "V4" in the gym and then going out to Hueco and getting hurt.  My philosophy, however, is quite the opposite.  If I climb a V4 in the gym, I would be more accurate in judging my abilities before I tried the throw on T-Bone Shuffle with only one pad; maybe saving my ankle.

I can't say there is any danger to sandbagging at a gym, but the main reason to rate accurately is to measure progress.  If the V7s in the gym are the hardest thing...and they're actually V7s-V10s what is the use of rating them at all?  You are better off rating back in the B Scale. I have got to be sure that there are climbers there, fully capable of bouldering double digits but to them they aren't pulling harder than V7. As well, when people visit your gym, you want them to be able to walk up to a problem and know if they are even going to want to spend time trying it.  Especially if you only have a few in their ability anyway.

Overall, it was a good gym and the setting was also good and this is in no way a knock on Boulders or its setters.  The gym was wicked sandbagged, but to each his own.  That is why there are consensus ratings outside.

If you have any comments, feel free to share.  I would like to know if people prefer ratings in gyms or not.

Size of Facility:          Good
Route Asthetics:         Good
Route Climbability:    Fair
Route Maitenence:     Good
Training Equipment:  Fair
Staff Friendliness:       Fair
Staff Knowledge:       Fair

Grade Trueness  V1-V4: True  V5-V7: + 1-2  V8+: N/A

Monday, April 15, 2013

Another go, another letdown.

Alex and I made it out to Hueco yesterday.  My sole intent was to get on my Nemesis, Power of Silence.  I don't know what it is about this problem, but it just gets harder as I get stronger.  I have tried and tried and tried it, never to any avail.

We didn't head out until about 2 p.m., getting there about 2:30.  When we got there, Maria told us the park was full.  I could hardly believe it, but it gave us good time to sit out and just relax.

We only had to wait for a little while when we got to head up to the problem.  I am sticking the pinch intermediate hold, but just something in my body makes me shut down when I try to go for it.  I stuck the hold maybe 20 times the other day and yesterday I stuck it maybe three.  Granted, I only spent about 30 minutes over there, I knew it wasn't going to go.  I left and decided to try my luck at Diaphanous Sea.  It went pretty poorly too.  Worse than last week, so I figured I was just having an off day.  We'll try again soon.

Friday, April 12, 2013

On the Cover

So, I made the cover of a magazine...my face was not included, nor was my name mentioned once in the magazine, but that's okay.  I guess as they say,"no press is bad press."  The other photo they had told me they were going to use was kind of silly, but it did have my face in it.  I was just up at the wall playing around anyway and I can't expect any ol' publication to know how to take professional climbing photos.  Some of the guys I know like Damon Corso and Merrick Ales have been tuned in on their craft for years and years, producing stunning images.  This was just a quick snapshot for the quarterly Fort Bliss Morale Welfare and Recreation publication.  It was fun regardless. Does that make me famous?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Rainy Day Hueco #12 & 35


Today did not end in my send of Power of Silence.  I don't know what it is about that boulder problem but that is a different story.  Today's story is about triumph and victory and perseverance...or at least about how it rained at Hueco and good things happened anyway.  First, I got there and went in the rain to go check out/clean Power of Silence and I stopped off at Diaphanous Sea.  I got the throw a few times in a row and felt confident, but wasn't able to link the bottom.  And every attempt it was getting wetter and wetter.

Then Bicho and Pop showed up and we went to The New Meadow with their friend Veronica.  Bicho and I got on a V11 named Gustov that was pretty neat.  We were fighting waterfalls that literally ran into your face as you climbed the problem.  Just as Bicho sent it, the seam of water on the left side of the boulder made its way into the heel-hook and all was lost for my attempt.

Disheartened, we headed to Martini cave, hoping to find some dry climbs.

There, I tried Martini Right, Bicho tried Dirty Martini, Pop got on Big Iron, and Veronica, Baby Martini.  I remember in 2008, looking at the throw on Right Martini and thinking it was impossible.  Today I not only stuck the throw, but I was able to control it and finish out Big Iron from there.  Then Bicho and I went for food and drinks to fuel for the attempts on Power. (Above you can see Bicho and Veronica "fueling" with the ever potent Cookies 'N Cream bar.)

As aforementioned, I did not send it.  Bicho did, however get it but as none of us (him included) thought he would get it that go, didn't get it on film.  I'll be back out tomorrow to see how things go.  Maybe I'll start on Power.

Friday, April 5, 2013

New Friends.

Today I went to Hueco finally since I've been out.  It was a good trip.  I almost got Power of Silence and I met a new friend that did El Techo while I was filming.  Here it is.

Pretty cool, I thought.

We intend on going back out on Tuesday, after I train and get a rest in.  We'll see how it goes but I am pretty hopeful.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


As I am not the first person to write about this, I am certainly not the last.  Climbing seems to be such a sport that it completely consumes those who partake.  Never have I heard another athlete complain so much about not being able to do their sport.  Occasionally when injured, I have heard a runner or a cyclist complain about not getting out and enjoying their pastime.  Maybe it is the nature of climbing that it is a maximum effort type of sport, with heavy muscle recruitment.  That maybe it is so goal driven and the goals are so clear that it's hard to just take an easy day;  climb that route, send this problem, beat our wall time.  If you haven't figured it out yet, I am talking about taking rest days.

When I was younger, I used to climb 3 hours a day, pretty much every day of the week.  I got sore occasionally, but really only when a specific move called out a certain muscle group.  I never felt tired, but in retrospect I think that is because I was actually always tired.  I never had off days because I never had rest days.  I plateaued and I couldn't figure out why.

Then I joined the Army.  I had so many rest days that I sank.  I "rested for nearly 6 months in training and for 10 months in the desert (Afghanistan not El Paso).  But then, I found a happy medium.  I got back from Afghanistan and I started up again.  However, my job, school and FiancĂ©e kept me busy enough to have forced rest days.  Suddenly I was climbing better, faster than any advance I have had in my climbing career.  I came back not able to get things I had done prior to deployment and then was able to send nearly 4 grades harder within a few months and it all had to do with my resting in-between hard sessions.

Now back to what I was originally saying... The question then comes, that how, if I have seen the benefits of resting, is it still so hard to not climb?  It is as if I did some pull-ups and now I should be good to send, right?  But wait, you're telling me I have to wait three days?!?  I don't have that kind of time, body!  I gave you food so just be strong...but I digress.

My point being that now, finally, I get it.  I get what resting has to do with climbing and that it isn't just for bodybuilders and gymnasts.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


I know I say this a lot but I am finally training.  Not like many times before, where I am hitting the hangboard or going to the gym more.  This time I am training like an elite athlete should be training.  I am TRAINING.  Something I should have been doing a long time ago.  Here is a video as an ode to my new gusto.  Hopefully I stay on the right track.