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Front Range Friday: Classic Test Pieces

Welcome to the Front Range Fridays finale

Best Test Test Pieces in the Front Range

  1. TGV and Vogue at Industrial Wall. Industrial Wall itself feels like a frickin’ test piece. For “easier” test pieces, I am partial to Buddha Belly at Eagle Rock, Elephant in the Room at Blob Rock, basically anything on Dinosaur Mountain or Seal Rock in the Flatirons. And the best of all – Question Your Progression in the Platte. – Jason Haas
  2. The Example, 13a/b Shelf Rd. This thing is so good. I think it’s my favorite sport route in Colorado,  I’ve surely climbed it more than any other.  A favorite training day out for me is to do the “Gym Triple Crown:” The Example, Deeper Shade of Soul (13b), and My Generation (13a) in a day. If you’re tired yet, you can tack on Head Cheese (12d) for a cool down. – Mike Anderson
  3. Third Millennium — World class rock in a world class setting. A quintessential power endurance route the requires strength and technique. – Mark Anderson
  4. Bone Crusher! , Evictor , Hungry WolfRyan Gajewski, Sales Coordinator
  5. Hungry Wolf 13a Clear Creek – incredible position high above the creek on a stunning overhanging face you can see from the road. It’s a full value climb that takes it all – power, technique, endurance, footwork, mental toughness – Justin D’Altorio, Purchasing Lead
  6. Hands down, Whispers of Wisdom (V10), RMNP – Alton Richardson
  7. The Web (13b) in Eldo. Easy to get to quickly if you have limited time. Burly, short, fun, great climbing. – Melisa Love

Front Range Fridays: Best Winter Crags

Welcome to Front Range Fridays. Each Friday we’re sharing the hidden gems, underrated climbs, and best crags that no one is talking about. This week, we’re sharing 5 can’t miss crags for winter climbing.

Best Winter Crags in Colorado's Front Range

  1. Graveyard Wall, Clear Creek – fairly newly developed, all day sun, easy mostly paved approach. Almost all of the climbs on the wall are gems – Justin D’Altorio, Trango Purchasing Lead
  2. The Platte. Specifically Thunder Ridge and Turkey Rock. And if people were honest, they’d all admit that a sunny February day after a monster snow storm, there’s no better place to climb in a t-shirt than North Table Mountain. People hate on it for slick basalt but I’m telling you. When you’re freezing your toes off in Eldo, I’m catching a sun tan at Table Mountain. And I could list off enough routes there to leave any climber grinning ear to ear after a day there. – Jason Haas
  3. Thunder Ridge, Shelf Road, Wall of the 90s, Turkey RockMike Anderson
  4. North Table Mountain – Lots of sun, lots of options and the approach (almost) never has snow on it. Plus lots of post-climbing beer options just down the hill. – Mark Anderson
  5. Rincon Wall – Eldo – Ryan Gajewski, Sales Coordinator
  6. Horestooth Reservoir for sunny bouldering, Lincoln Falls for all day ice laps and certain areas of Eldorado Canyon and Boulder Canyon for sunny trad and sport climbing. – Alton Richardson
  7. Really any south facing crag on the Front Range if temps aren’t too low & the sun is out. Upper Security in Boulder canyon, south facing clear creek crags, etc.

Front Range Fridays: The Most Underrated Routes

Welcome to Front Range Fridays. Over the next few weeks, our athletes and staff will be sharing their secret spots, favorite projects, and local beta. This week, we’re revealing our Most Underrated Routes in the Front Range.

 

  1. Great question! Stone Love (10d) in the Flatirons comes to mind. So does Momentum Operator (5.11) and Crack Up (5.9) on Broken Rock in BoCan. Boy, so does a lot of routes actually. People get this tunnel vision about what a guidebook or mountainproject says is classic and then so many quality routes get overlooked. Come to think of it, I better to stop talking so my favorite routes remain uncrowded. Shhh…. forget we even talked. – Jason Haas
  2. I love Sonic Youth (13a) in Clear Creek Canyon. It’s also a great winter route if the temps aren’t too low, because the river is low enough in winter for an easy belay stance. Very dynamic route with steep terrain, a dihedral and interesting final moves to the anchor. – Melissa Love
  3. Only Entertainment, 13b, Elevenmile Canyon. It’s the best route in a canyon that is off the beaten path, out of the standard FR climber rotation – Mike Anderson
  4. Undertow (The Slab, Flatirons). Maybe the best 5.12 sport climb on the Front Range, with perfect rock and great moves.  It’s a little slice of the Red River Gorge right here in Colorado! – Mark Anderson
  5. The Silk Road (WI3 M5 R) on the First Flatiron. Some years a two and half body length pillar forms – Alton Richardson
  6. Bone Crusher!Ryan Gajewski, Sales Coordinator

Front Range Fridays: The Best Area No One is Talking About

Welcome to Front Range Fridays. Over the next few weeks, our athletes and staff will be sharing their beta on the best routes, favorite areas, and hidden gems in the Front Range. This week, we explore the crags that no one is talking about.

  1. The Bunker (Clear Creek). Steep, overhanging jugs on great stone in a spectacular setting. – Mark Anderson
  2. The Dungeon/ Tan Corridor, Staunton State Park – Ryan Gajewski, Sales Coordinator
  3. I agree – Staunton State Park – though it’s getting more and more crowded. Though the long-ish approaches help keep crowds at bay – beta is to ride your bike in, there’s a bike rack located where one of the climbers’ trails branches off from the main trail. – Justin D’Altorio, Trango Purchasing Lead
  4. Thunder Ridge. If this blog post makes the place over crowded I’m going to unfriend you guys at Trango. ‘Nuff said. – Jason Haas
  5. I haven’t been yet, but I hear Dude’s Throne is LEGIT. – Alton Richardson
  6. Thunder Ridge! It’s a geologic anomaly resulting in the best granite on the Front Range, in limited supply. Beautiful, challenging climbing in a secluded area. – Mike Anderson

Front Range Fridays: The Best Moderates in the Front Range

Welcome to Front Range Fridays. For the next 5 weeks our athletes and staff will be sharing their favorite test pieces, best winter crags, and top secret spots in Colorado’s Front Range. Today, we start with the top 4 moderates in the Front Range.

Best Moderate Route in the Front Range

  1. Does it get any better than the Flatirons? I mean you got the east face of the Third Flatiron and the east face of the First Flatiron. You got Winky Woo – the steepest, easiest jughaul in the country. You got phenomenal linkups like The Regency to Royal Arch to Anomaly to Amoebid – 1,200 feet of spectacular scrambling. Others that standout in my mind is Gambit in Eldo (far better than Bastille Crack in my opinion). Bishop Jaggers is a sick 5.9 slab climb and Center Route on Cynical Pinnacle is one of the best multipitch 5.9 jam cracks around, both of which are in the Platte. Dude there’s a ton of good moderates in the Front Range. We’ve got a lifetime of rock here and you didn’t give me enough space to write about all the classic moderates! – Jason Haas
  2. Topaz, 10d, Devil’s Head. (Probably not THE best moderate, but you want lesser-known stuff.) Super long, engaging jug haul on really cool hueco’d rock. It’s on The Headstone, high up on Devil’s Head with beautiful views of Pike’s Peak and the South Platte valley.  –Mike Anderson
  3. Rewritten &  Yellow SpurRyan Gajewski, Sales Coordinator
  4. I’ll second the Third Flatiron East Face. It’s the perfect introductory multi-pitch climb.  It has perfect rock, interesting moves, great views and a free-hanging rappel. – Mark Anderson
  5. I like PlanB (12b) at Upper Security crag. Also, it’s a great south facing crag for winter climbing. – Melissa Love
  6. Super Slab (5.10d), Eldorado Canyon – Alton Richardson

 

Image by Josh Perez

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…

Climbing back from Cancer

June 2017

I slowly awake out of a deep anesthesia-induced slumber. I have a massive tube shoved down my throat emptying my stomach contents. My mom is there.

“What happened?” I ask her. I’m still hopeful that when they did the exploratory surgery that they wouldn’t find anything. “They found a tumor on your appendix. They removed it as well as 6 inches of your large intestine. They hot soaked all of your organs with chemo.”

I can’t control it. I start crying. Tears and emotion are flooding out of me. I’m angry, sad, afraid that my body has failed me. I hold my mom’s hand as the reality sets in. I have cancer.

Just a few months before

I’m at the top of my game, projecting hard rock climbs above the Andaman Sea in Thailand. The world is my oyster, as I traipse around the planet, only pausing for a part time job in Western Africa. I feel strong, lean, and fit.  I’m beginning to mentally heal from some recent accidents in the mountains, so am very excited when Bruce Normand asks me to attempt a new line with him in Pakistan on Gasherbrum 4 that spring.

I have a little discomfort in my abdomen, but chalk it up as a muscle strain. Over time, the pain increases. Thinking it’s due to a recently diagnosed hernia, I opt to get it fixed before considering a trip to the Himalaya. How quickly things can change in our lives. After the hernia operation, I’m dumbfounded when my surgeon says, “We found something off during the surgery. It looks like cancer.”

Three weeks later.  June 2.

D-Day.I’m on the operating table for what doctors call the MOAS (Mother Of All Surgeries). I spend a week in the hospital and then five more bedridden. My climbing muscles atrophy away day by day. The combination of coming to terms with having cancer and not being able to exercise leads me into dark depression and anxiety. With the pain, I also find perspective. By chance, I befriend a Tibetan monk. He teaches me that the suffering is all in my mind. He teaches me internal peace is possible through meditation and mindfulness.

I think the worst is over by week six, and I’ll be able to start slowly climbing again. Boy, am I mistaken. Next up is oral and IV chemotherapy. For the next few months I feel like I am dying.  Fatigue, exhaustion, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal cramping. It’s pure and utter hell.

August 14th

A few of my good friends rally with me to the City of Rocks for my birthday. I am struggling something fierce on a 5.8.  But the beautiful, high desert rocky landscape inspires me.  I look at the guidebook and decide, against the wishes of all my friends, to attempt Terror of Tiny Towna beautiful 5.11 technical corner.

“To hell with cancer,” I say. I want to prove to myself that I am still strong.  I slowly make upwards progress using every trick in the book. Side pull, smear, edge, lock off. For a moment, it feels incredible to be free of the nightmare I’m living and be completely lost in the movement. My heart is racing and my breathing is out of control.  For 25 minutes, I battle tooth and nail to total and complete exhaustion. I lower down, pulsating with endorphins and euphoria.

Then I get dizzy. Then I start to dry heave. By the time I get back to camp, I am running a fever. I lie in the fetal position, moaning like an animal just hit by a car.

Once I get home, I proudly recount the story to my doctor with a big smile on my face!  She promptly scolds me!

“Look Skiy, this is life and death. You need to take it easy!”

Finally accepting that it’s all real, I start taking my health very seriouslyeating right and resting daily. It’s a few long and slow months, but finally the doctors say I’d had enough chemo and I am cleared to slowly start rebuilding.

Thirty days post chemo.

I go visit my good buddy Dave Allfrey in Las Vegas.  Dave is a bona fide hard man and all-around crusher.
“’I’m pretty under the weather” I tell him. “Oh, no problem,” he says.  “I have the perfect climb for us. A three pitch 5.6 with a short 20 min approach.” His enthusiasm is contagious and for a moment I have forgotten how low my blood counts are.  “Heck ya, perfect!” I say. I jump out of his Sprinter and for five minutes I feel like a million bucks!  Then I start to slow, and pretty soon the uphill feels like the Hillary step on Everest.

“Dave,” I say, trying my best to hold back the tears, “it’s too far.” So humbling to have to bail on the approach to a 5.6!  Dave is a trooper though, and sets up a top rope on a 5.8 nearby.  After my fourth take we are laughing hysterically at the ridiculousness of the situation!  “You’re making that look like 5.14” he says. “Trust me, I know!” I reply.

But I don’t care. It feels so good to touch the stone and to move on it.  To be tied in with a good friend.  It’s a reminder of how healing climbing can be.  But still, I am terrified with thoughts that I would be weak and frail for many years to come.  Will I ever get my life back?

A few more months go by.

Finally, I start feeling strong, exuberant, full of energy, but also restlessness. Ignoring the advice of friends and family, I buy a one-way ticket to Thailand. I need the sun. I need the ocean. I need my climbing community to help heal my mind. I land in Bangkok and promptly head for Tonsai. I spend 5 weeks clipping bolts and making new friends from around the world.

It’s strange to brush your own mortality. As scary as it is, it’s also awesome and powerful. Every time I make it through to the other side, whether in the mountains or in life, I strangely feel more alive. More in touch with my true self. More able to appreciate the simple things and not take stuff for granted. I’m always amazed how much each new experience teaches me.

It’s hard to emotionally digest what has happened, but I move forward each day with optimism and stoke. What else can I do?  I continue to follow my passion as a climber and continue to set goals. I feel lucky to live in Bishop CA, where I am able to look to the mountains that color the skyline and find continual inspiration and joy.

Today is a new day, and I will enjoy every second!

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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