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Route Developing

Its been a pretty hectic spring for me.  Between working my normal job and working on guidebooks, I am probably working a 70 hour week each week and then coupled with climbing and being a good boyfriend.  Life is very hard indeed!

I forgot how difficult bolting roofs is.  Back in 2007 Matt Fanning and I re-discovered the “Other Place” at the Meadow River at the New River Gorge and spent the next 3 years developing that crag.

Matt for the most part, picked all the crazy roof lines and I picked all the face climbs.  It was physically possible for me at that time to put up 4-5 routes and sometimes 6 routes in a day.  Matt bless his heart would spend an entire weekend bolting and cleaning a single route, though his routes always ended up being the awesome routes!!!  Depth Charge (12c) for example took Matt two full days of bolting and cleaning with only spare time to belay me.

Matt Fanning Climbing “Depth Charge” 5.12c on the First Ascent in 2007

I found a new crag at the Meadow.  We’ve decided to keep this one on the wraps until we are completely done with it.  A lot of locals were very upset with us for developing the “Other Place.”

So I’m basically not going to tell anyone where this new crag is so we can preserve the sanctity of the Meadow.   I’m tossing around names…either the “Fayette County Landfill” or maybe the “Reticent Wall.”  We all know that I’m Dan and I can’t help myself so the latter would be almost a ridiculous joke similar to the “Ministry of Peace”, “Ministry of Truth” etc from Orwell’s 1984.  But I think I can keep this one on the wraps for a year or two….

1984 by George Orwell from Wikipedia:

the Ministry of Peace deals with war and defense.
the Ministry of Plenty deals with economic affairs (rationing and starvation).
the Ministry of Love deals with law and order (torture and brainwashing).
the Ministry of Truth deals with news, entertainment, education and art (propaganda).

I spent my Friday bolting and cleaning two routes – both of them steep and the one being a “cave” route.  Bolting a cave involves a lot of tricky aid climbing.  It is not aid climbing like you see in videos, but basically rap bolting with aid gear to keep you in place while you drill.  This involves a lot of hooking and some pretty spotty cam placements, but the hardest part is just the actual physical labor of it – swing into a piece of gear, getting clipped in direct to it, getting the rope in it then unclipping from it….half way through it all rips and you take a king swing…drill, hammer, wrench.  10 bolts and hangers and a full wrack all swinging with you.   I actually have a 3/4 ring of bruises  around my body where my harness sits from Friday’s work.

I still have some cleaning work to do on the routes…basically brushing sand dirt and removing loose rock…life is hard.


Also, getting to the top of the cliff and then finding the correct top of the cliff is horrible.  Through my pants, I still have enough cuts to make my friends question whether or not I cut myself.  I spent almost an hour in the Rhody jungle until I found the top of the routes.

Despite all the pain and soreness….(Drilling OVER your head with a 30 lb drill is hard too) it is totally worth it and full filling.  The quote the masochist’s handbook, the pain makes the experience.

These are two routes out of maybe 20 or 30 that will hopefully go up over the next couple of years.

Ethan Pringle Sends “La Reina Mora” (14c/d) in Spain


Ethan Pringle_La Reina Mora_by James Lucas_EDIT

Well, I really couldn’t have imagined a better last day in Siurana. For the first time in over a week I felt only love instead of frustration and anger. With a wide open heart full of excitement and happiness, though not really caring how I did, I finally climbed to the top of La Reina Mora and clipped the anchor in a swell of emotion. It’s been a wild ride, and the process of projecting this climb and putting everything I had into it taught me more about life and compassion (especially for myself) than I could have thought possible. I’ve had support from so many awesome people along the way this last month, and I couldn’t have done it without you! You know who you are. Thank you so much. Now I’m really ready to go home.  This moment ^ captured by James Lucas is me setting up for the last hard move before pulling into the slab. So glad I didn’t biff it here (again)!  ‪#‎lastdaybestday‬ ‪#‎lasttrybesttry‬

Send Footage: Drew Ruana sends “Just Do It” (14c) at Smith Rock

In November, Tenaya athlete Drew Ruana (age 15) sent the iconic Smith Rock climb, “Just Do it” (14c). The route was America’s first 5.14c and Ruana is among the youngest to make an ascent. Here’s the send footage and a quick interview with Drew.

JDI_Drew Ruana 2_web_nategerhardt


UPDATE: Since sending “Just Do It”, Drew has been on a rampage with more tough ascents in Smith Rock and Bishop as well as a strong showing at ABS Youth Nationals.

New Trango Products Highlighted at Outdoor Retailer

Twice a year the outdoor industry descends upon Salt Lake City in a storm of plaid and technical fabric. The objective: to show off their newest gear innovations for the upcoming season. During this January show, our friends at Gear Coop dropped by to chat about our upcoming additions to the Trango line and also to snap a few quick photos.

The past few shows have included additions like the best-selling Crag Pack and Rock Prodigy Training Center, and this show was no different.

For the full write-up from Gear Coop’s visit, check out:

Here’s a quick sneak peak of the newest products to join our growing product line (all available March 1, 2015 at

Catalyst 9.0mm

The Catalyst 9.0mm sparks a revolution in skinny rope workloads. Unicore™ technology bonds the sheath and core together for unparalleled performance and the same fall rating as many 10.0mm ropes. This cord is a lightweight solution for everything from hard sends to long alpine routes and outperforms other skinny ropes in the event of sheath damage – why risk it with anything else? Available in 70m and 80m lengths with middle marks and Duo Dry protection on every rope.


First Bolt Draw

Trango’s First Bolt Quickdraw extends the life of all your quickdraws. The rope causes the most wear and tear on the first draw you clip because it runs at a sharp angle compared to higher draws. The unique graphics make this draw obvious when you need it, and the steel wiregate can handle the extra abuse.


Gym Cuts

Never wait for a gym lead rope again. Trango Gym Cuts make indoor lead climbing more fun than ever by offering the outdoor performance you expect in a gym-appropriate length. No more bulging, fuzzy gym cords – Gym Cuts bring a smooth handling, durable solution to any climber’s gym kit. (available in 30m and 40m lengths)








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.


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.


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.


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!

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