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Better Beta: 5 Ways to Break Through

Fall is sending season. Time for breaking into that next grade, sending that nemesis rig, and time for some good old-fashioned try-hard. Sending at your limit is all about the details – the micro beta, the mental game, and every iota of body tension you can muster.

With that in mind, here are 5 (often overlooked) tips for breaking through and sending your fall project.

TIP 1: Expose yourself to different styles

“I think exposure is the most important. If you vary the type and style you climb a lot, you’ll have a larger repertoire of knowledge to apply while climbing.” – Drew Ruana

 

TIP 2: Movement over Strength

“Focus on movement. A common misconception is that you need to be strong to climb hard routes, but being GOOD at climbing is so much cooler, and more efficient.” – Alex Johnson

 

TIP 3: Eliminate Worry So You Can Focus

“I think its a systems check. We’ve all tied a figure-eight knot so many times. We do it without thinking and yet a lot of people get nervous when the route starts getting hard above the bolt or cam and they worry about things they shouldn’t be – like their knot or belayer. Take the extra second on the ground to check your partner, have them check you, and test a piece if you need to. Make sure that when the time comes, you’re already totally confident they’ll work the way their supposed to. Who knows, you maybe would have sent through that slippery crux section if you were 100% focused on the moves and not at all focused on something else.” – Jason Haas

 

TIP 3: Practice Makes Perfect

“In general, I think climbers (both new and really old) don’t take time to PRACTICE climbing. We often tend to jump on the hardest thing we can get on, and that’s not effective. We should spend more time on slightly easier terrain, practicing the movement and other skills needed to climb well.” – Mike Anderson

 

Ari Novak Ice Climbing - Miami Ice - Cody, Wyoming

TIP 5: Master the Mental Game

“Jeff Lowe once told me 90% of climbing is above the shoulders, and I agree with him. Approaching climbing with the right mental approach and honest competency earned by learning and working the craft is key. Your greatest hopes and dreams can be achieved. If you put a climb on a pedestal it will stay there. If you put a climb on your level and work your ass off you’ll be on top of it faster than you think. It’s as much about attitude and vision as it is about the necessary physical strength to just get up something. Earn it both inside and out. To me ice climbing is not just about the external journey but the internal journey.” – Ari Novak

Stoke(less)tember: What to do when you’re broke on stoke

Sunset over Vedauwoo

Sunset over Vedauwoo by Alton Richardson

It’s finally September. You’ve spent the summer thumbing through your guidebook in search of the perfect route. You know every movement by heart and have rehearsed each one over and over during those long hangboard sessions. You’ve visualized the perfect sequence of micro movements that will unlock the crux. The 10-day forecast has finally let up and you’re daydreaming of redpoint burns. Then it hits you. The motivation wanes, the approach seems longer than usual, and gravity seems a bit heavier than normal. You’re broke on stoke.

It’s a rite of passage. If you have climbed for any amount of time, you have inevitably experienced this phenomenon. The preparation is done, you’re strong enough, you know the route, and for whatever reason, you are not into it. Keep heart, climber friends – we have 3 quick ways to regain your stoke.

Relax

Breath, pause, and take a step back.

Drew Ruana Smith Rock

“Take breaks. I don’t climb when I’m not “psyched” or interested in it. Forcing psyche is like forcing patriotism-you should WANT to do it, not be forced to. Then resentment starts.” – Alex Johnson

 

Recharge

Smile a little. Remember what got you stoked in the first place. That perfect sequence that fits your style, the incredibly aesthetic line you’ve been eyeing all summer, and inevitable breakthrough you’re hoping to experience during the send. Think about the process – how far you’ve come and how much growth has come from the struggle.

Sharing beta

Sharing beta by Nate Gerhardt

“Talk to friends, look at photos, guidebooks, youtube videos of great climbs you want to do.” – Mike Anderson

 

Re-Frame

Sharing the rope is about more than a lifeline – it’s about shared passion and a new perspective. The best partners know when you’re struggling and when to crack the perfect joke to lighten the mood and re-frame the experience. Pick your partner wisely.

Bouldering

High fives all around by Nate Gerhardt

“Partners. You need to have partners that are there for you. They make you laugh, encourage you when you’re struggling, don’t judge you when you are climbing poorly, and can be a good person to just simply have a conversation with. If you go into your climbing day with the idea of just getting outside with a good friend when your motivation is low, you can’t have a bad day. Talk about your life – decompress about your job, relationship, whatever. Listen about their life and just enjoy each other’s company. I’ve had plenty of terrible climbing pitches/attempts but very few bad climbing days. I’m careful about who I climb with and cherish those people dearly. After two decades of climbing, I remember the people more than the routes. Plus when your stoke is high – it’s contagious so you motivate your partner and visa versa. If you only climb when you’re stoked or sending at your best, you’re really limiting yourself to some great experiences.” – Jason Haas

“I motivate myself in many different ways but I think the best was is having partners you love spending time with and who can push you.” – Ari Novak

 

Bonus: Re-Caffeinate

When all else fails, re-caffeinate 🙂

Pamela Shanti Pack

Pamela Shanti Pack sips coffee before redpoint burns

“Drink a lot of coffee” – Drew Ruana

The Best Route I Never Sent

As climbers, we are driven by one unifying accomplishment: the send. No matter the grade or the discipline, we are all chasing the elusive top out, the chains, or the summit. Sends gained make for a good tick list, but many of the best stories revolve around the next send – the one that’s in process, on hold, or just a dream right now. We asked our athletes about the best routes they’ve never climbed, here’s what they said:

Alex Johnson

Alex Johnson Monster Skank send

Photo: Ray Davalos

Everything on my list that I’ve never gotten to. I have such a long list and each route on the list is there for a specific reason, and everything not climbed, I’ll never know what I’m missing, but I feel like I’m missing a lot. Maybe Nirvana in Red Rock.

 

Drew Ruana

Biographie, 5.15a, at Ceuse. It ascends a perfect blue streak of limestone with comfy crimps and pockets the entire way. It is also maybe the most historic route in the world.

 

Jason Haas

Photo: Jon Glassberg

Jules Verne (5.11b) in Eldorado Canyon. It’s in my backyard and I’ve shown up numerous times to climb it but something has always gone wrong – a partner is sick, flakes out, some of the pitches are wet, you name it. I’ve done almost all of it in pieces but never been able to do the whole thing. It really gets to me I haven’t done it. Actually, I forgot about it until this question. Now I can’t stop thinking about it. Thanks. Guess I know what I’m doing this weekend.

 

Mike Anderson

Something in Spain, I’m sure. I’ve been there once…climbed about 5 days and always wanted to go back. That, and Necessary Evil at the VRG in Arizona…currently my nemesis – a super incredible route that I’ve poured 2.5 years into, but conditions are so finicky, I’ve struggled with lining up the planets to make it happen. Also Just Do It at Smith Rock.

 

Ari Novak

Photo: Jacob Raab

The best route I’ve never climbed completely is Bridal Veil Falls WI6+ in Telluride CO. On my first attempt on the route I climbed with the late great Scott Adamson but as we left the second belay another climber in our group got ill and we had to bail to offer assistance. My second attempt was a few years later. As I left the car to begin the approach I got an international call from my dad. Normally I don’t take calls when I’m on a climbing mission but for some reason, I picked up. We had a brief conversation and then I took off for the climb. Remarkably just a few minutes up the trail Ajax Peak avalanched. It was a massive slide that took full trees down in its path. Had I not taken the call it most likely would have been my last walk in the mountains. That said I hope that my third attempt will be successful. We’ll see…

Eastern Offwidths: Big Bros Take on China

When you think of climbing in China, limestone sport routes probably come to mind. This spring, Irene Yee and her crew of offwidth aficionados took on some of China’s lesser known terrain…offwidths. Donning a rack of Big Bros and tape gloves, these climbers went on an offwidth rampage through the cliffs of Liming, China.

Adventures can sometimes start with steel and glass before they become rock and sky. Danny, @cheyeah, and Ashley, @ashleyreva head off for a China adventure.

 

Off-width Tip: choose a side. Mainly the reachable one that is not all awkwardly stuffed inside the crack. Ashley, @ashleyreva racks up.

 

Ashley, @ashleyreva, placing a Big Bro in Off-Width Research Center, trad 5.10+ Liming, China.

Photos and video by Irene Yee (@ladylockoff)

Be a Climber: Quitting (and re-creating) Your Day Job

The juxtaposition of my life does not go unnoticed by my closest friends and family. On one hand I love order, control, routine. Type A personality stuff. On the other hand, the well-defined and fully explored bores me to death and I crave adventure, the unknown, something new and ever-changing where the outcome is uncertain.

While those seem to be at great odds with each other, they come together in perfect harmony for me in the form of calculated risk. It’s the best of both worlds really. Let me give you a few examples. Before children, I free soloed and did X-rated routes up to 5.12. I can’t actually think of a single case when the route wasn’t an onsight. It had adventure, the terrain was unknown (to me) and the route was new (again, to me). But anyone who has done much of that kind of climbing also knows if it’s too adventurous, too unknown, and the outcome is too uncertain, well then, you can’t do it for very long and live to tell about it. Free soloing for me was equally about control and order. I was intimately familiar with the rock type and the climbing area. I felt, tested, and retested every hold before committing. I never climbed up something I couldn’t climb down. In fact I’ve backed off 5.7s as many times as I’ve backed off 5.11s. Yes there was risk. Yes I could have fallen. But those odds were slim. They were calculated risks.

Here’s another example. I received my Master’s degree in Special Education and found a knack for working with students with emotional disabilities in impoverished neighborhoods (the “ghetto” to you layman folk). Real-deal gangbangers with rap sheets and weapons charges that were known for violence. Most had given up on them so in turn, these types of students were quick to dismiss others (often violently). Calculated risk. I had the educational training – the strategies to diffuse the situation. I also have the personality to relate to them on their level, gain their trust, and push them toward a more positive direction. But it’s not without challenges and sometimes real dangers. I’ve had students get extremely angry – try to punch me, throw chairs at me, and worse. But I had the tools and mindset to get out of those situations (mostly) unscathed. The flip side is that teaching in a public school offers security and routine on some levels, yet every day was different. What worked with a kid yesterday won’t work with that same kid tomorrow. You must always adapt, constantly learn and improve. It kept me on my toes and was a good balance for me for a long time.

Fast forward and here I am, smack-dab in the middle of my thirties. I crave a change – a massive life shake up. Perhaps just ahead of the curve on a mid-life crisis. My mom always said I was advanced for my age. Anyway, teaching has given me so much and I hope that in return I have given something back to the kids I’ve worked with over the last 12 years. But it is too routine now, too “safe”, too familiar. My adult obligation of financial security I owe my family pulls me in one direction while the desire to take a risk and choose a new career path pulls me in another. I could not find balance between the two.

But I’m not a risk taker. While what I wrote above would seem to contradict that to some – what I mean is I’m not an “unknown outcome” kind of risk taker. Imagine this scenario for a minute: You flip a coin. Heads I win a dollar, tails you win a dollar. I do not see it as a 50/50 chance of winning a dollar. I see it as me losing a dollar. The odds are too unfavorable – there is too much risk. I would never agree to flip the coin. The risk must be low. I’ve built too much of a life to gamble any of it. Yet to some degree, there needs to be a little risk to entice me. Where is the balance? It’s different for each of us and it’s taken me a long time to finally find it.

I’ve been a rock climber for more years of my life than not. I’ve worked in gear shops, climbing gyms, for gear manufacturers, and even own a climbing publishing company called Fixed Pin. I have no formal education in “climbing business” but I know it better than anything else, perhaps better than I even know teaching. Climbing is my religion. I’m not a zealot but it is how I decompress, how I commune with nature, and how I rebalance myself. When I’m out of whack, my wife tells me to go climbing and I come home happier, more patient, and a better life partner and father overall. Some drink, some pray. I climb. Climbing is all I want to be around. I want to talk about it, write about it, and well, just do it. Enter Gravity One Climbing + Fitness.

I had always thought starting a climbing gym would be incredible but it seemed a bit too unrealistic for me. They cost millions of dollars to start up after all. But I have found that, perhaps through happenstance, I have been building up to this moment my entire adult life. I have the right experience (work and personal), the right connections, the right motivation, and the right amount of risk tolerance to venture off into the unknown – quit my government job as a public-school teacher that I virtually could never be fired or downsized from and start my own business where I am my own boss. All decisions directly affect me, good and bad. I could win big or I could lose it all. But it’s calculated. And isn’t that what being a climber means? Taking calculated risks. Isn’t that the lesson we all experience every time we go out to the crags? We leave the safety of the ground, where yes, we could fall back down to it. But we have ropes and protection and a trusted belayer to catch us. Things could go wrong – a piece could pull, a clip could be botched, a belayer could give too much slack. But rarely do we experience any of those things. We fall but only a little bit. We take comfort in both the risk itself as well as knowing that those risks have been greatly mitigated. Our partner has us. Our rope and gear will catch us. We push ourselves sometimes to places that are uncomfortable but we revel in that feeling once back on the ground, sometimes hours, days, or even weeks later. We retell those events over beers and around campfires trying to recapture that feeling. To me, that’s what it means to be a climber. Leave yourself exposed just enough to feel uncomfortable but not be in danger. I just feel so fortunate that I’ve finally learned how to carry that over into my professional life and to be able to experience a feeling of balance of calculated risk outside of climbing itself.

VIDEO: What does it mean to Be a Climber?

What does it mean to Be a Climber?

Everyone approaches climbing differently. To some, it’s a driving force – a passion that can’t be satiated. It’s what gets them out of bed for alpine starts, first ascents, and finding that one little piece of micro-beta that unlocks their project. To others, it’s a release – a departure from the problems of day. Climbing becomes meditation in motion for them. It’s focusing on a series of interconnected movements and voiding the mind of all distractions. There are infinite ways to approach climbing and we believe that however you approach climbing, no matter the grade or discipline, you are a climber. We are passionate about seeing climbers, old and new, experience climbing in whatever way is most meaningful to them. Will you join us?

See more at www.BeaClimber.com

Meet Mundaka: USA Launch Tour

Meet Mundaka, Tenaya’s most sensitive down-turned shoe ever. The Mundaka’s meticulous construction combines an aggressive split-sole to maximize sensitivity and 3.5mm Vibram XS Grip rubber to maintain ample edging power. Tenaya’s patented Draxtor lacing system uses four tension points to ensure a cohesive fit while preventing nagging hot spots and a sock liner creates a glove-like fit right out of the box.



Mundaka On Tour

Want to try on a pair? We’re taking the Mundaka on tour this fall. Stop by one of our tour stops or your local outdoor retailer to get your first look at our newest creation!



Sending Spree: Drew Ruana takes on The New

 

Wow. I can truly say that the New River Gorge was one of the most beautiful areas I’ve ever been to. I feel so blessed to have opportunities to visit special places like these. My dad had learned to climb at the New; he had always talked about it to me, telling me I needed to go there sometime with him. Until I actually went, it was hard to visualize just how stunning the area is- not just the climbing. The wildlife, the scenery, everything about this area is just beautiful. Day one back home, and I already can’t wait to go back.

 

Before I got here, I didn’t really have specific goals. I wanted to play around on some hard stuff, but when I got off the plane on the first day and got to the wall, all I wanted to do was climb. Climb climb climb. I decided that I would have a much more rewarding and fulfilling trip if I did more mileage- so I did that. I think I averaged around 9 pitches a day? Something like that. Most of them new routes, and in new areas. I managed to send 20 new 5.13 routes, and 4 5.14s in my 6 days of climbing there.

A couple of the routes I tried stood out to me. I know I’ll remember them for the rest of my life. One of them was Puppy Chow, 5.12c- I don’t think I’ve ever had as much fun climbing on a route as I did on that. If you’re in the area, get on the route. I don’t care how hard you do or don’t climb- it is 100,000,000% recommended. Also in that area is Mango Tango. This route is the most strikingly beautiful arete I’ve ever seen. It looks and climbs like pure artwork. Although a bit cryptic, figuring out the beta and sending was one of the most memorable climbs of my life.

The thing is that trips like these aren’t just about the climbing. They are made great by the people you’re with. Piper, Miriam, Quinn, and Laura were one of the best crews I’ve ever climbed with.

I met a bunch of my dad’s old climbing buddies, which was cool to see who he grew up with. The local vibes there are awesome – shoutout to pies and pints, the pizza and atmosphere is rad there.

Special thanks to Michael Williams for being the sickest guide/guru around. Can’t wait for another trip like this!

Here’s my ticklist for this trip:
5.14b
Still Life 2nd go
Journeyman 3rd go

5.14a
Mango Tango 2nd go
Sword of Damocles 4th go

5.13d
Natural Progression 2nd go

5.13c
The Project OS
In the Flat Field 2nd go
Satanic Verses 2nd go

5.13b/c
B.C. 2nd go

5.13b
The Racist 2nd go
The Pod FL
Crossing the Line OS
SR-71 OS
Against the Grain OS
White Lighting OS
Fuel Injector OS

5.13a
Quinsana plus FL
Apollo Reed OS
El Chapo FL
B-52 OS
Massacre OS
Skull Fuck Direct Finish OS
Mighty Dog FL
Next Time OS

Photos by Trevor Blanning

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