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In the East, Winter is Bouldering Season.

I am a route climber at heart.  I train to route climb.  I live to route climb.  When I dream about climbing, I dream about route climbing (though sometimes I realize that I’m naked half way up the route and everyone is looking sometimes.)
Blue V6
I take my route climbing very seriously, but in the winter, its really too cold in my area to route climb.  Enter bouldering season.  Bouldering for me is just fun – I take it serious and try to boulder as hard as possible, but the level of commitment for me for individual boulder problems is a full order of magnitude less than for routes.  Also, for bouldering, I can perform fairly well a little heavy, so I relax my eating and dieting during bouldering season.  But best off – bouldering is REALLY good for route climbing.
Over the past two months, I’ve had three major bouldering trips (with one two week trip coming up soon.)  The ongoing training using the Rock Climber’s Training Manual has contributed to a major gain in my climbing and that gain has also translated over to my bouldering.  Also, I am truly appreciating the quality of my Tenaya shoes. 
 
 
 
Through the New Year, I did a trip to Rocktown.  For me, the ideal bouldering trip is either 3 days including travel or two weeks.  A trip shorter than 3 days, I feel rushed and don’t get enough time to boulder to my limit.  Any longer than 3 days and less than 10 days is a waste without ample rest time to grow back skin.  I have two different modes and will describe them:
On a 3 Day Trip, I try to pick problems that I can do in about an hour or less.  I will do a cursory attempt on a problem and feel out the moves and holds and try to determine if I can do the problem quickly.   On a short trip, skin is a super precious commodity.  I priority problems that suit my strength which right now is really small holds and big lock-offs.  If I don’t think I can do the problem, I will write it off and consider trying it some other time when I’m strong.  I will try to get as many problems done as efficiently as possible keeping as much skin as I can.  Problems that are “shoe” problems – techy etc, are perfect for this kind of trip because they are typically very easy on the skin.  Also, “big muscle” problems are good because they are usually palm and hand contact problems and not tips.  
 
I typically consider day one to be my peak performance, with the second day being my “clean-up” day where I try to go and send the stuff I was close on but didn’t have to strength.  My second day and possible my third day (if its not a travel day) is also my “scouting” day where I put minimal effort into a handful of problems for my next trip – seeing what they are about, whether I think they are possible for me and what their requirements are (and of course, whether I like them and think they’re cool.)
On a long trip, I pick stuff strategically and plan to climb them multiple days with the first day or two on the problem being a “scouting” trip where I learn the movement and then rest hoping to send them when I’m the freshest. I rotate through problems that work different parts of my body so I can try to send them all somewhere in the middle of my trip.  I supplement these hard problems with a good bit of easier “fun” climbing as well.  I will talk more about this while I’m on my two-week Bishop trip.
At Rocktown, I set my sites pretty high.  I had not climbed there since finishing the book there a couple years ago.  We went full comfortable style and got a hotel room which was very nice. 

My primary problem goal for the trip was the “Sherman Photo Route” V7 which I had tried a good bit on my last trip there, but was unable to do.  I made a tick list for the trip. I’ve always been a list maker.
 

I love technology.  I put a few goes into the “Sherman Photo” feeling out the holds.  I was happy to see that I could hold the holds and could make all the reaches; the difficulty of the problem would be putting them all together.  I wasn’t super sure with the beta so I googled “Sherman Photo Video Rocktown” and BOOM.  There it was.  Straight from my smart-phone, video beta of the problem.
I fell twice at the last move going for the lock (once you get this its over), but using this beta I was able to do the problem.  I was pretty worried and I fell several times but I sent this one after about 15 or so tries. 
 
Sherman Photo Route V7
Sherman Photo Route V7
Sherman Photo Route V7
I then felt out both “Tractor Traylor” V8   So I next stopped at the Comet Boulder.  I had never really tried many of the problems on the Comet Boulder, except for the easy one, but there was a big group there with lots of pads and I did every single problem on the Comet Boulder, except the Comet Dyno (V7.)  In succession without falling!  Gang Bang baby!  I loved every one of those problems too J
 
I next set my sites on a problem that I had tried extensively: “Tunnel Vision” V6.  This problem climbs out this super cool steep roof, with body tension being the winning suit.  I really wanted to do this one and sort of broke my “tried it too many times” rule, but really really wanted to do it.  I FINALLY workout out the minutia of the tricky feet beta to do the problem only to fall on the topout move several times.  Probably my last good go on it, I actually got it! 
  
I then (being completely beat by now) go on “Splash Back” V6 and worked this problem a bunch – working out the beta as well.  This problem was a “big muscle group” problem with good holds so I spent some time on this one, not really losing skin.  My best effort, I made it to the topout which isn’t super hard, but fell because my shoulders were too beat up.  I don’t think I could have done a pull-up at that point.

Splashback V6
Being completely beat up, I set my sites on another long-term life-goal project of mine “Blue” V6.  That doesn’t sound right does it?  I mean, I’m beat to crap so why not try “Blue” earlier?  Well….Blue is totally a shoe problem.  With my super awesome Tenaya Tarifas, I figured I’d have this one in the bag and I did.  With some body tension and excellent shoes, I did “Blue” several times in a row, once to send it and twice more for photos!  (I really really liked it a lot too.  So the photos were really just an excuse to do it over and over.) 
 
Blue V6
Blue V6
Blue V6
Blue V6
Blue V6
Blue V6
I finished the day with a surprising send of “Campus Punks” V5, a full on slab problem.  Once again the Tarifas performed for me admirably, getting me up it despite being beat to crap!
Campus Punks V5
Having such a good “Day 1” sending several of my long-term projects, I set out day 2 to try some of the stuff that I thought I was less likely to send.
I did some easier stuff at the Orb including “Double Trouble” V5 and “Breaking and Entering” V5, then heading straight over to the “Bad Boulders.” 
 
“Little Bad Boulder” for me is one of the hardest V5s in the world.  I love it.  But man.  Its just so hard for me!  I can get to the last move every time, but the last move for me feels super long.  Like most problems at Rocktown, this problem starts under a bulge, and climbs over the bulge finishing with a lot of bad slopers. 
 
Little Bad Boulder V5
Little Bad Boulder V5
Little Bad Boulder V5
 
I didn’t really think I was going to do this problem on the trip, but after several goes, I was getting close – almost sticking and partially sticking one hold below the top.  My hopes were dashed when I actually stuck the second to last hold, but then realized I had another hard move!
 
I dug deep though, and really focused.  This was one of my long-standing projects at Rocktown and with some motivation from my wonderful girlfriend Lauren “she told me to just freaking stop being a chuffer and do it” I did actually do it!! Barely.  Super Barely.  Like grovely.  But boom!  I was soooooooo stoked to do that one and despite it only being V5, it was my proudest send of the trip.
Feeling lucky and pretty stoked, I next set my sites on “Brown Eye Left” V5.  This problem was also very interesting and kind of cool for me.  The problem revolves around some tricky foot-work to setup on two bad holds, then a cut-feet, kick the wall and campus move to a jug.  I probably tried this one about 20+ times before I finally worked out the beta and got it!    I got a pretty nasty blood blister from it though!  (A month later, I still am having problems with it.)
Brown Eye Left V5
Brown Eye Left V5
Brown Eye Left V5
Brown Eye Left V5
Feeling pretty good and accomplished we hiked over to the “Police” area.  Of course we stopped at “Blue” and I did it again (I really like that one.)  I had “Police Brutality” V5 on my list, though there was a group on “Drug Test Policy” V7.  I felt out the holds and with their beta, almost flashed it!  I was like….ok….I can do this one, and did it super fast!  I tried “Police Brutality” and totally got my butt kicked on in first try.  No thanks!  Crossed it off the list for this trip.
I was feeling pretty sapped at this point but managed to connect the dots on “Mr. Stiffy” V5 first try (of the trip.)   I was trying some stuff on the “Asphalt” boulder (got my butt kicked) but walked around to see “El Bano” but some some dudes just finishing on “Golden Throttle.” V5.  I figured what he heck and flashed the heck out of this super duper scary high ball boulder problem!  I couldn’t believe I 1.  made it up this thing, 2, didn’t die. !!!   No photos or anything on this one as I just randomly walked around the corner with my shoes on, borrow chalk and beta and just did it!  I will NEVER get on that one again, I’m so glad I flashed it.
Mr. Stiffy V5

 

Mr. Stiffy V5
Mr. Stiffy V5
Mr. Stiffy V5
Mr. Stiffy V5
That night, it rained like crap, so we decided to check out the Chattanooga Aquarium.  FYI if you’re ever in Chattanooga.  DEFINITELY hit up the Aquarium.  It was one of the coolest experience of my life.  Lauren got to pet a sting-ray and they have a full-on butterfly room and a “jelly fish” room.  Wowzers!        !!!!!!!!

Clinics, Comps, and Top 10 Finishes at Ouray Ice Fest

Each January, we circle the Ouray Ice Festival on our calendars. It’s a yearly favorite that affords us the opportunity to climb ice, connect with the climbing community, and talk about our favorite subject: climbing gear. This year was no different and we were more excited than usual due to our upgrades to the Raptor Ice Tool.

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Trango athlete Marcus Garcia led a day-long seminar at Ouray Ice Park introducing participants to the fundamentals of ice climbing. Here, he demonstrates the finer points of one tool technique in the South Park area.

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After the clinics and some climbing of our own, we gathered to watch the competitors in the elite mixed comp. It did not disappoint! Here, Marcus works his way through the lower section of the route toward the difficult upper section complete with crack system.

MG_OIF15_Comp_Edit

On Saturday, Marcus climbed his way to a top 10 finish in the speed comp. Ouray never disappoints and this year was as impressive as ever. Congratulations to Marcus for a strong showing and thanks to everyone who dropped by our booth, demo’d a pair of Raptors, or joined Marcus for the intro seminar!

Ethan Pringle Joins Team Trango

Ethan joining Team Trango brings the vision of our athlete team full circle. We focus on the character of the climber, their passion for the sport, and their desire to contribute to the community. Welcoming a climber of Ethan’s ability rounds out the statement we are making – we don’t think the grade you climb at dictates the quality of your experience, and we are a company that exists for every climber, including those who are pushing standards. Ethan has established many routes up to 5.14d, redpointed Realization (5.15a), sent Wheel of Life (V14), free climbed El Capitan, and placed extremely well in significant competitions. He is a core climber and he works hard – and that’s why we work so well together.

Ethan Pringle Photo Collage Blog

Photo Credit: John-Carl Vallejo (left), Matty Hong (right)

Here’s what Ethan has to say about his new role as a Trango and Tenaya ambassador:

“I am stoked to announce my new partnership with two companies that I really respect for their gear, ethos, and passion for rock climbing—Trango and Tenaya. Not only do these companies sell top-notch products, but they are run by some of the best folks in the industry. Trango is a climbing gear manufacturer that provides a wide variety of high-quality products and has really redefined themselves in the past few years – these guys are doing some really rad things! Tenaya is a Spanish climbing shoe company (that Trango distributes in the US) with cutting-edge designs in performance and comfort. They have helped world-class athletes (Ramon Julian and Alex Megos, to name a few!) set records in competitions and on rock, and I can’t wait to see what these shoes will help me achieve. Both Trango and Tenaya are constantly working on developing new products and I am honored to be a part of that process. The founders and employees of these companies are hard-core climbers themselves and it is their love for our sport that fuels their business. I am so excited to have the support of two companies that are as psyched on climbing as I am! Thanks Trango and Tenaya for welcoming me into the family!”

 

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The road to Yosemite

I co-own one of the biggest publishing companies in the climbing world, I’m a full time high school math teacher at a new school (for me) this year, I have a two year old son, and a little over three weeks ago, my wife gave birth to our second child, a beautiful little girl. I also write articles for various magazines, sit on the board of directors for three non-profit climbing coalitions, and try to be a good husband and father by spending as much quality time with them as possible. I forgot what free time looked a long time ago, and being totally honest, I haven’t been able to climb in nearly three months. Not something you should publicly say when you have sponsors. But life happens and things come up – commitments, new book projects!, injuries, motivation ebbs and flows. I’ve never “trained” per say and taking some time away from climbing has never been that detrimental – I’ve been an off-the-couch climber for as long as I can remember, and quite frankly it has always been helpful for my motivation level. But that’s changing. I’m getting older, injuries are becoming more frequent, and climbing whenever I feel like it is no longer guaranteed. I simply don’t have the time anymore to attempt my mega-proj 40 times before actually doing it. And yet, I still have goals bigger than ever and I honestly expect to meet those goals before I quit hard climbing. Also, my current goal is huge and heavily relies on a climbing partnership. The last thing I want to do is let my partner down because I wasn’t prepared.

Looking back two years ago when I first sat down with Mike and Mark Anderson about publishing their Rock Climber’s Training Manual, it’s funny to think how the paragraph above was basically their sales pitch. Training isn’t necessarily for climbers with all the free time in the world – it’s actually most critical for those who have precious little free time. Maximize the efficiency of the time you do have by training at home and crushing your projects when you can slip away from your commitments. In the months that followed, and as I read their manuscript, edited it, and laid it out on the pages you now see, I couldn’t help but think how the best marketing plan would be to take a stereotypical “Weekend Warrior” kind of climber, have them follow the program, and track their progress on a blog or with videos or something. Like many good ideas, it remained just that. However, this is my attempt to resurrect that idea in some fashion.

During the first two weeks of June, I hope to climb the Regular Route on the Northwest Face of Half Dome, Lurking Fear on El Capitan, and Romantic Warrior in the Needles of California. The time window for so many big routes is a little tight, but that gives me approximately five months to prepare. The season/heat isn’t ideal either, but again, I’m limited on when I can get away, so it’ll have to do. I’ll be following the program laid out in the book, written by the Weekend Warrior poster children Mark and Mike Anderson, two extremely accomplished climbers, and both of whom are family men with real careers and limited free time.

And so it begins. I started the ARC (Aerobic Restoration and Capillarity) Training on my home wall: several sets of moderate climbing where I simply stayed on the wall for 30 minutes without coming off and 10min rests between each set. The brothers recommend you do this on vert to slightly overhanging terrain but the “slabbiest” wall I have is still 15 degrees past vert. Not trying to be hardcore, just working with what I have. Again, this will be a blog about my experience, following the program to the best that I can given my own life commitments, abilities, and resources. Yes, I live 15 minutes from eight real-deal climbing gyms in the Boulder/Denver area, but I don’t have the time or money for them right now. The home wall is the best thing for me at the moment. Hopefully that changes at some point in this journey. So stay tuned, follow along, and hopefully get inspired to train for your own goal, especially if you’ve been like me and just “off the couch it”. If nothing else, I hope these blog posts/updates keep me inspired to train for the first time since starting to rock climb well over a decade ago :)

Thoughts on the first night: ARC Training is boring – must get an iPod and load some music on it ASAP. It was also strangely satisfying going into the workout with a very specific goal and knowing I was done once accomplishing it. It was definitely efficient: 1 hour and out. Typically I just climb things at the gym until I feel like leaving, which can range from an hour-ish to all day. I like the specificity this program has and hopefully allows me to be more efficient with my time. I can see it allowing me to sneak in the day’s workout before work sometimes too. Also, I’ve never been a gym climber so I forgot just how much plastic hurts your skin when you take some time off climbing. I couldn’t find the balance between keeping a nice, mellow pump in my forearms on the big holds yet hurting my skin, and getting too pumped by compensating for the skin by using smaller crimps. Ah, let the training begin!

 

– Jason Haas

Onsite Comp at the Energy Rock Gym

This previous weekend, I had the opportunity to help set for the first “Onsite” style competition at our climbing gym.  We were all little wary about this format because none of us had every set a competition like this, so we did an in-house only comp hoping to iron out the details.  It actually went great (see the photos) but I figured I’d use this opening as an excuse to talk about the climbing gym we have here in Charleston, WV.
Just a side note.  I remember 10 years ago I was doing a comp at the Cleveland Rock gym.  I was getting ready to take a run at the “hard” wall for the comp, looked around and realized that every single person was wearing Anasazi Velcros.  It was the comp and everyone wore his or her “best” pair of shoes.  During the men’s finals, in isolation at our comp on Sunday, 3 of the 4 of us had our brand newest pair of Tenaya Oasi on.  Most of the time, the climbers in the gym just wear their “crappy” pair to beat up, but when it came down to some serious climbing, we all turned to the Oasi.  I remember that the mantra while growing up was that “5.10” made the best shoes period, but honestly, I really think that Tenaya is one of the best shoe companies on the market and the Oasi is THE pair to have for bouldering (though I like the Tarifa for vert climbing.)
As per setting, we don’t have a “head route setter” per say at our gym, but rather a few frequent setters.  Our gym is not a commercial style “show” gym like Earthtreks or Crimpers Climbing Gym.  The dynamic of the climbers here in Charleston, WV is that we are all (at least when the gym opened) outdoor route climbers who need a good place to train. 
 
Enter David Statler.  He and his wife Julia about 3 years ago decided that they were sick of their basement training center and decided to open a bouldering gym for the purpose of training.  Being a fellow Engineer, David and I have been analyzing different gyms and different gym models.  We’ve narrow the type of gyms (at least serious gyms) down to two distinct types:
  • 1.     Show Gym:  This is the commercial style gyms that you see.  When you walk in POW.  Monochromatic setting.  Huge, open areas, with very little route density.  Often these gyms will only have one or two problems that overlap.  These gyms bring in big money and bring in big numbers.  They focus on the aesthetics of climbing and the problems tend to be very well thought out and all excellent in quality.  These gyms see a lot of turn-over and have a high rate of “unique” visitors (first and last time visitors.)
Crimpers Climbing Gym in Christiansburg, VA – One of my favorite gyms!!!  http://www.crimpersclimbing.com/
  • 2.     Training Gym:  These are the gyms that are smaller with much tighter route density.  At first glance, they can seem like a crap hole or a hodge podge of routes (LOTS OF TAPE) up every single wall.  You will often see a very serious and dedicated “training” section with folks who are actually using it.   This is the type of gym where the “unique” visitor number is quite low compared to return and frequent users.
The Mushroom Wall at the Energy Rock Gym.  We normally have 8-10 problems up this but these are our “Comp” Problems.
If you look behind David, you can see what our walls usually look like.
I’m not saying there is anything wrong with either gym, it’s just the “style” of gym and I LOVE show gyms…they are incredible.  But being a climber hoping to push it to the next level, I love having our gym “The Energy Rock Gym” to train at.
Interestingly enough, at our gym over the past several years, we started as just a core group of people who have been climbing for 5+ years.  Now, we’ve grown our own local climbers who started climbing because of the gym.  These climbers are now a dedicated group at our gym.  We still have very little “unique” visitors though that number is growing.  The nicest part about having the small “training” gym is that frequent climbers are basically given free range to set and set-up the gym for their personal training programs.
All of us at the gym have made major gains in our climbing because of the gym.  Folks who were barely climbing 5.11 two years ago are now climbing 5.13!  Having a training resource has been huge!

The best part about setting for our Competition was that we knew who was going to climb and could set very specifically for those folks.  Competitors were given 4 minutes to climb as many “holds” high as they could on a problem they have never seen before.  Instead of our common settings with a  1/3 to 2/3 height crux and easier or consistent finish, we set with increasing difficulty.  Very few of the problems in the competition were completed, though I was happy to hear that instead of the competitors complaining that the problems were “too hard” or “too reachy” they said “OK I need to get stronger so I can climb this problem!”  Mission success!
Here are some photos from the comp:

Broken Holds, Near Sends, and Big Whippers on Straits of Gibraltar

The line between work and play are often blurred in our industry – much to our delight. During the recent Bozeman Ice Fest we were able to get away between clinics, demos, and competitions for a few mixed and ice routes in Hyalite Canyon’s Bingo Cave area. The primary objective was for Trango athlete, Marcus Garcia, to tick off “Straits of Gibraltar” (M9).

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Bingo Cave, Hyalite Canyon – photo by Jake Miller

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Marcus on “Straits of Gibraltar” (M9) – photo by Jake Miller

 The 30m route was established during the 2012/2013 season and climbs the right side of the overhanging Bingo Cave (looker’s right of NW Passage). The route starts with a vertical section on the underside of the cave and quickly reaches the steep roof.

Marcus-on-Straights-1

Marcus on “Straits of Gibraltar” (M9) – photo by Jake Miller

After the pump sets in, the roof rounds out onto a vertical headwall for the finish. Here, Marcus pulls the roof and heads for the anchors.

Marcus-on-Straights-2

Marcus on “Straits of Gibraltar” (M9)- photo by Jake Miller

Sometimes sending (or not sending) can be outside of our control. On this day, that proved to be the case. While clipping the anchors, a hold broke and sent Marcus on a massive whipper, foiling his best attempt of the day. After the near send, we got back to our work duties and Marcus competed in the UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup (pictured below).

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Marcus (pictured right) during the UIAA Ice World Cup – Bozeman, MT

Thanks to everyone who dropped by the Trango tent and demo’d the updated Raptor Ice Tools. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and we are looking forward to many more laps with them this season.

The vision for the Trango athlete team is to find climbers who embody our brand’s values and support them in their climbing endeavors. We focus on the character of the climber, their passion for the sport, and their desire to contribute to the community.

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