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Ten Sleep – Part 2 (the meat and potatoes)

When we last left the action, our tragic hero had decided that he wasn’t a crappy climber and it was time to “Tie one on” to poorly-quote Stephen King’s – Lisey’s Story.

The Cigar at Ten Sleep

With my Spanish buddy, David, we hiked our butts up to the “Slavery Crag.”  Did I ever mention how tough the hikes are at Ten Sleep?  Well.  After doing the hike to the “Ark”, the hike to Slavery really only did take us 15 minutes!  I was feeling STOKED.  PYSCHED.  CRUSH MODE.  I warmed up on “Head Like a Hole” (12a) by hanging the draws.  This route is pretty popular so I figured I’d do the nice guy thing and leave my draws on it for the day. 

 
Calm Like a Bomb 12d climbs the right of center crack
 

My goal for the day was to try and send the fairly steep “Calm Like a Bomb” 12d.  The route is one of the non-descript pitches at Slavery.  Most people spend their time on “Happiness in Slavery” 12b and “EKV” 12c, but I had already done those pitches.  “Calm Like a Bomb” climbs a crack that peters out toward the top.  The first half of the route is pretty easy – maybe 10+ or 11- climbing, but then it gets real, really fast.  I had the pleasure of hanging the draws as well, and started pulling pretty hard – semi-small moves between really small holds and bad feet.  As with any onsite climb, the details are pretty fuzzy, but I definitely remember hanging a draw on a really bad right-hand pinch and clipping.  I think this was right in the middle of the crux!  I managed to hang on though.  I did a few more hard moves and was moving over into the “vert section” and I had one more hard move. 

Once again, the details were fuzzy, but I remember being really out of balance on some pretty bad holds.  I looked down, saw a really bad looking smear, and made the instant decision to trust my Tenaya Tarifa.  They stuck and I stuck it!  I spent some time on the last rest before the final boulder problem shaking (I was onsite) but the move to the anchors ended up being only 12- or 11+ and BOO YAH!  I was so stoked.  It was my Third 12d onsite and probably my second legit one.   

 
Georgie Abel on Shut the Duck Up 13a at Pyschoactive
Lena Moinova – Go Back to Colorado 12b at Psychoactive.  Lena swears that move is totally necessary.

The next day I took a semi-rest day to shoot photo and hang out with my fellow Trango teammate Ethan Pringle and his gal Georgie Abel.  We climbed at the “Psychoactive Wall” which stays in the shade almost all day (just in the early and late day sun FYI.)  Last year I sent the 13a pitch “Shut the Duck Up” so I had no problem warming up on the route with a few takes to get the line rigged for images.  I was pretty proud of myself – doing all the moves first try on it (off the hang for the crux.)  I shot some images of Georgie working the route and did “Mirth” 12a onsite.  Remember my prime directive – climb as many 5.12s as I can (that was number 434 lifetime.)

Did you see that cow?????? WOOF!
CHILDREN OF THE COWS
 

The next day, my friends and I checked out the “Sidewalk” area at Ten Sleep, a notable and atypical morning crag.   I warmed up sending “If Dreams Were Thunder” 12b hanging the draws.  THE route to do, however is the super duper luper long (25 bolts) route:  “Sheep Reaction” 12a.  This one just goes on FOREVER.  I’m a pretty good enduro climber and this one felt easy for the grade – I was never pumped and not a single move felt hard.  It was a really nice and good experience though.  It was great to get so much climbing in!  I certainly recommend this route to anyone who is looking for adventures.  I don’t really like adventures myself, but every now and then, its good to get into one so you can remember why you try to avoid them.

Bob Value on Sheep Reaction 12a at the Sidewalk
You said 25 draws right?  Plus anchors yeah.

The next two days were hard going.  Its rained on us, and we couldn’t climb :/.  The end of the trip was approaching quickly so I really had to get some routes done. 

 

We went up to the cool kid’s crag and I decided to try a new route that Eric Horst bolted at the Sphinx.  It was a good pitch and he rated it 12b.  I got the onsite pretty easy – it being small holds and big moves, both of which suit me well.  

I then set my sites on the “Tangerine Fat Explosion” 13a. 

 

I heard that this route was a total gimme and a pretty easy onsite, so I tried it.  The bottom of it was wet and it was pretty humid out, but I managed to fire through the boulder problem pretty easily.   Coming out of the boulder problem (it climbs over a small roof) I made a dead-point move to a sloper hoping it was good and it turned out to be…good enough.  The next sequence involved (I think) some smaller holds and maybe a mono with good feet and then a rest.  Then there was a run-out section; there are generally two types of run-outs on hard sport climbs: 

 

1.  The climbing is so easy that it doesn’t matter. 

2.  The climbing is so hard, you can’t stop to clip. 

 

Well.  It was one of those cases where the climbing was hard :/.  But I managed to make it through the boulder problem.  Having good grip strength is one of the most important aspects in climbing and thanks to the Mark and Mike Anderson training program, that is one of my strengths.

Another hard day at camp

There was some butter and bread climbing for a few bolts with big holds to stand on and incut jugs to rest, though I continued to climb conservatively.  On routes like this, I’ve learned there is usually one more big punch at the end.  And so was the case.  Guarding the last bolt and some obviously easy flow-stone climbing, there were a series of chalked holds.  I went up off a big lock-off and felt several of them and immediately sorted out my strategy.  I made a big lock-off (skipping several holds) going up right hand to this right facing sidepull and stepped my feet up.  For the second time on the trip, my onsite depending on standing on a small really bad smear.   My Tarifa came through for me and, out of balance, I made a dead-point move for the hold below the bolt.  I remember thinking…….please let it be good please let it be good, though I was prepared for it to not be good.  And the hold was – a nice ¼ pad incut crimper!  BOO YAH!  Onsite baby!  And also hanging the draws.    

This is where they put bad people who downgrade Tangerine Fat Explosion
 

The trip was quickly winding down and I had one more day.  I was feeling good and we headed up to the “Downtown Area” which contains the phallic free-standing pillar…the…uh..cigar…yeah…Really doesn’t look like a cigar to me ;).

The previous two years, I worked the route “Sleep Reaction” 13a to no avail.  Conditions weren’t super good, but after about 30 or 40 tries, I finally got route!  For me, sending the route revolved around a single movement – grabbing two of the worst holds I’ve ever grabbed in my life.  I was actually quite close to being able to just hold the holds and do a pull-up, but I couldn’t and I had to actually use my feet which was quite hard.  When I got it, it was pretty anti-climatic for me.  I was happy to get it of course, but it really didn’t feel like a major accomplishment for me. 

 
Sleep Reaction 13a
Sleep Reaction 13a
Sleep Reaction 13a

I think my most memorable send was also my last major send of the trip: my onsite of “Heart Breaker” 12c.  This route starts off pretty easy as it shares the start with a 5.11.  “Heart Breaker” however, busts out of the dihedral left directly into some seriously HUGE moves.  I’m good at big moves.  I have long arms and I have a lot or power, so the first couple big ones were pretty easy for me – I didn’t have to jump or anything, just make big reaches.

 

At one big move I felt that I would have to jump.  I was going from a good hold to another (seemed to be) good hold but at the last second, I intuitively dropped a really high back step and just reached.  OMG….that’s right OMG.   Not a good hold.  Not a good hold at all.  “OH DUCK OH DUCK OH DUCK.”  Yeah.  I did that a few times when I grabbed the hold, matched up, then fired for a good glory jug. 

 
Don’t forget the dog!
Where’s Raina?

And that’s when the pump settled in.  I was on a really good horizontal rest with so-so feet (the option of too high feet or lower, but worse feet.)  I took a biiiiiiiiiiiiiiig lonnnnnnnnnnnnnng rest here, but really couldn’t get the tingles out.  It looked like there was one more hard move before the glory section.  (Seems to be a theme at Ten Sleep?)  I made a exploratory move up to what looked like a mono.  It was a VERY deep drilled mono that was big enough for me to two-finger stack.  I committed to the move and hiked the feet going for a left-hand sidepull….which was crap.  Totally crap.

 
Our campsite
 

I was red-lining and couldn’t hold the sidepull so I WENT HARD again left to what ended up being a ½ pad jug crimper!  Glory!  I was still super pumped, but the rest was cake. Back to “OH DUCK OH DUCK OH DUCK OH DUCK OH DUCK.”  I couldn’t stop saying.  That route just blew my mind.  That was for sure one of the best experiences of my climbing career. 

After climbing, we crawled back to the camp site and started packing things up.  We had to leave in the morning and I had a 24 hour drive to do.  It was sad to leave the campsite – my home for the past two weeks.  I took a few photos, jumped in the creek naked on last time for good luck and waved good bye to Ten Sleep.  Maybe forever?  Maybe just for another year. 

 
Who’s ready for some beeeeeer!

This could be all yours for 350k  Its for sale.
The cup cakes at Dirty Sallies are excellent

Drew Ruana Sends ‘New World Order’ (5.14c)

Drew Ruana Sends 'New World Order' (14c). Photo by Matt Dennis

Drew Ruana Sends ‘New World Order’ (14c). Photo by Matt Dennis

Today was just another one of those days. I woke up, went to the crag, climbed with coach Tyson Schoene and Gavin. It was sunny and nice out. It was a great day to be outside and in the mountains. ‘New world Order’ (5.14c/8c+), although a link up (of one 14b into another 14b), is one of the purist, most sustained, longest power endurance climbs at Little Si. It combines two v10s, one at the top and one at the beginning, with numerous other hard sections. Psyched to finish this one off! Onto the next project!

The Rise and Fall of Half Dome

As almost all of the climbing community has heard by now, a massive chunk of the most popular route on Half Dome, the Regular Northwest Face, fell down. Nearly two pitches worth of rock cleaved off. Now here’s the sketchy part. I was there two weeks earlier. But here’s the real kicker, we got a “heads up” that it was going to happen. No, seriously, listen to this. At the base of the chimney that broke away was a huge chockstone – the size of a refrigerator. I flopped onto the thing, as did my partner, no problem. Dan actually sat on it to belay and get out of the way of a party we had just passed. I uneventfully led the next pitch and then started to pull Dan up. Only a few moments after Dan began chimneying above the colossal block, one of the guys from the party below us belly-flopped onto the block. As that guy stood up, the block dropped straight down, deeper into the chimney! He surfed the thing for about two feet before it re-wedged into the cavernous expanse. I heard the commotion but didn’t know what happened until Dan arrived at the belay. He told me the story and all I thought was “crazy” and then forgot about it.

The thing is – that chimney was so huge it truly was a chimney. What I mean is that you didn’t chimney behind a flake or something – it was huge! I now wonder if anyone else surfed that block deeper into the chimney before the whole feature finally cut loose. I’ll probably never know but fortunately no one was on the route when the rock fall occured. But scary still, there was more massive rock fall on Half Dome again today – over by the top out to Tis-sa-ack. Third big event out there this season. Words of advice? Hmm… Should I say what your mom would say, “be careful”? Nah, Layton Kor was more my style and I’m sure he would say “better climb it while you still can”

Dan Hickstein and I atop Half Dome two weeks before the rock fall

Dan Hickstein and I atop Half Dome two weeks before the rock fall.

– Jason Haas

Ten Sleep – Summer 2015

The summers in West Virginia are brutal.  The rain, heat and the oppressive humidity make it off-season.  We have very little respite and for the most part, I just fish and route develop during the summers.  I’ve taken a trip out west every summer to escape the heat, and for the past 4 years, we’ve gone to Ten Sleep Canyon in Wyoming.
Joy of Heresy 5.11d in Ten Sleep Wyoming
The drive out is mind numbing – 24 hours according to google earth, but after stops and all, it ends up being more like 30 + hours with two drivers.
On the way out this year, we decided to check out Spearfish Canyon which was on the way.  According to google earth, its best for us to come across I 90 (I had to pick someone up in Cleveland) – however, the tolls across that way are ridiculous and with all the roadwork, we made better time on our way back across I 80.    Just an FYI.
I will generally do a “day here or there” on a big trip to prospect for future trips.   My overall impression of Spearfish was….kind of cool and maybe worth a trip!  From my one day, it seems like a “mini version” of Ten Sleep.  The rock is about the same or maybe a little better, but it seems a lot smaller – both in quantity and in height.  Unfortunately, I’m starting to run out of routes at Ten Sleep so I need to start looking for new areas! 
 
And that’s why we come out west!!
 
At Spearfish, we climbed at the Big Picture Gully which was suggested to us by a friend.  The hike here was pretty horrible.  We were fresh out of the car and on little sleep, but it seemed particularly hard!  The canyon itself was pretty neat – with lots of excellent fly fishing stretches (that’s a big plus for planning a trip.) 
 
Spearfish Canyon
 
Spearfish Canyon
Flowers in Spearfish Canyon
I warmed up on “Drip Dry” 5.11c onsite pretty easily.  I don’t remember too much about this route other than it was “pretty easy limestone pulling.”  It was said to be one of the better pitches in the area.  My prime climbing directive is to climb as many hard routes as I possibly can and I am gunning for 500 career 5.12s, so I got on “Dirk Diggler” 5.12a to get a feel for the area and got the onsite, then followed it up with the onsite of “Lung Butter” 5.12a which felt significantly harder.  But boom.  Mischief managed.  Spearfish next year?  Maybe……..
Dirk Diggler 5.12a at Spearfish Canyon
We finished the drive that night to Ten Sleep and set up camp, the same exact site we’ve had for 3 years now at Leigh Creek.  I immediately adjusted as I set my tent and cot up to regard this as my home away from home for the next two weeks.  When we left, it was indeed a tearful moment for me.
I spent the next few days at Ten Sleep adjusting and picking off some low 5.12 onsites.  I have already done MOST of the book-starred 12-s at Ten Sleep, so its getting harder and harder for me to find new pitches.  I returned to “Captain Insano” 5.11d which I had tried my first year at Ten Sleep.  This 100 foot pitch includes lots of difficult climbing up this imposing steep wall.  It seems like this one goes on forever with no easy climbing on it:  hard boulder problem, then rest, then hard boulder problem etc.  The route culminates with a very difficult boulder problem going to the anchor.  The actual movement itself isn’t that bad, but with both the pump and the mental shutdown, its pretty hard going.  This is where I fell onsite several years ago.  Knowing what I was in for, I took a BIG rest right before the final section and did it easily.  I’ve climbed a lot of 5.12s in my life (my count as of today 442.)  Trust me.  This pitch is 12a all day long and I updated my book.  You all should too.  Its an AWESOME route though!!  If you’re looking for an adventure route, then this should be at the top of your Ten Sleep list.
One thing I noted this trip is that almost ALL the routes at Ten Sleep climb at least one bolt into the “blue” flowstone rock.  The “good clean rock” on Limestone is the white stuff that doesn’t get hit by rain, but where the water runs, you get the “flow stone” which is much sharper and less quality for climbing (pain pain pain.)  Very interesting indeed.  You like…..always get to do some flow stone moves and you also get to clip the anchors from it.  Life is (painfully) hard.
On the fifth day of our trip, we talk ourselves into the long …. very long…. very long…hike to “The Ark.”  We heard about this crag from some Canadians who raved about it!  It is quite distinguishable from the Mondo Beyondo area or pretty much any of the cool walls in the canyon.  It’s the “big one way over there” pretty much.  
The hike into “The Ark”….this is the gravy part.
They said the hike was horrible though.  It was really horrible.  But boy were the routes worth it!  It was this day of my trip where I really settled in.  For some reason on trips, I always have low self-expectations – like I feel like I’m a crappy climber and that I can’t climb hard at all.  But man.  The Ark, I just kicked butt.  The stand-out route there was “Joy of Heresy” 5.11d which was a full long pitch with lots of excellent climbing and two super deep monos (probably drilled, though…)!
Jully Jihad 5.12b onsite at the the Ark
Joy of Heresy 5.11d at the Ark.

I ticked off 4 5.12 onsites at the Ark easily and was super stoked!  I only left one starred 5.12 there, but it had some really jingus fixed draws.  From here, I was ready to crank up it for the second half of my trip!
Lena Moinova climbing Atheist Childhood 5.11b at the Ark
One of the 5.10s at the Ark…quality is womp womp :(

Tick Mark Island

I’ve always been a person who can’t stand sitting around devoid of constructive activities.  Combined with my obsessive personally, I always have to be doing something and I work hard to do my best at what I do.   I’m particularly hard on myself when I’m working on something that I think is important.  Thus, I’ve spent my life jumping maniacally from activity to activity with the goal of mastery.   This all makes for a crazy life, but it is my life and I really enjoy it.

Over the past few months, I’ve been working on several major activities, one being route developing at Summersville Lake.  With my bolt gun and several motivated friends, we’ve been turning a previously untapped area of cliff line into a worthwhile sport-climbing destination.

When developing routes, grading is difficult.  Through the bolting process, you get a sense of the route.  You are trying to figure out where the route should climb and what holds/sequences you want to incorporate.  Therefore, you spend a good bit of time feeling things out, sorting though moves, figuring out clipping stances etc.  Long story short, you know exactly what the moves are long before you even tie in to send the route.  Also, of course, all the draws are already hung and most importantly, all the bolts are exactly where you want them.

Zak Roper – Raina Terror 5.12b second ascent
Tick Mark Island

We’ve been trying to come up with a name for the new climbing area at the lake and we aren’t really telling anyone where it is.  We want to keep it under wraps until we finish up all the good routes there.  Am I worried that people will find it?  Nah…its been my experience that even though you wave something in front of people’s faces, they’ll never go looking for it.  I’m pretty sure that we’re safe – at least for a while.  The name seems to be sticking though.  We were thinking of calling it “The Fayette County Dump” or “The Profanity Crag” or something like that, but “Tick Mark Island” seems to be the sticking name.  This is equivalent to the “John Galt Line.”  Basically a tongue and cheek response to criticism. 

 
 
 
**note** all grades are guesses.
1.     Childhood Memories 5b       5.12b
Follow the bolted crack up to the slab and a stance.  Crimp your way through small edges culminating with several long moves on decent holds to the exciting finish.
2.     Stranger Danger       5b       5.12a
Stick clip and follow the clean face to some easier climbing.  Make an extremely long move on tiny holds to the anchor.
3.     Amber Alert               5b       5.12b
Stick clip and trend left through thin moves to the ledge.  Move left, the up the bulge.  Tackle the long moves on tiny holds up the impeccable rock to the anchor.
4.     Sh&t Echoes               6?b      5.12c
Stick clip and boulder to the ledge.  Clip, then climb really difficult moves up the short arete.  Power left out the roof to a stance below the roof.  Pull the roof and finish through some techy face moves.
5.     Project                                    (13+?)
6.     Chuffer Town USA    7?b      5.12b
Stick clip and climb the 11+/12- slab to the base of the room.  Power through jugs out the roof to a difficult move which leads to easier climbing and the anchor.
7.     Raina Terror              7b       5.12b
Stick clip and climb crispy rock for a couple moves, then continue up impeccable stone over a short roof to a long power move crux.
8.     Project                                    (12c/d?)

The “right” wall is themed around the route name:  “Childhood Memories” which was a “gym route name” that circulated at Climb North – my childhood climbing gym in Pittsburgh.  They always had a route named that or talked about naming a route that and it stuck in the back of my mind through the years, though the exact context or frequency may be inaccurate… I mean…I was a punk little kid at the time.  Funny enough, my dog’s name “Raina” came from that same period of time.  I remember hearing a kid had the name “Rainy” which I always liked. 

The name $hit Echos comes from my flash attempt on the route.  I stuck the first crux which involves precise dead-pointing on some bad holds.  I screamed (my Danno scream) and it echoed across the lake and came back like 10 seconds later.   My buddy Zak roper, knowing that I was through the crux said “I better not hear and ‘$hit Echos DAN.’”  Of course, I broke a hold off and did in-fact hear those echoes….I got the route second go though.

10 Down and Dirty Training Tips

After five months of training for a trip to Yosemite, I have realized a few things due to experience, trial and error, and some reflection. First and foremost is that training takes time and to work it into an already over packed life, something’s got to give. One thing that went was my weekly blog updates. I appreciated all the people that followed it and positive comments I received, so hopefully this tidbit will re-inspire some. If you are thinking about starting a training program, the list below includes some useful things to keep in mind as you start your journey.

  1. Be Rigid. If you’ve never followed a training program before, I recommend checking out The Rock Climber’s Training Manual by the Anderson brothers and flipping to the already pre-laid out training programs in the middle of the book. Yes I published the book, but not only is it a good program, it is also “dummy proof”. It says train on Monday, you train on Monday etc. It’s very easy to follow and you can start right away without having to read the whole book first, which is nice for those with limited time.
  2. Be Flexible. Life happens and we can’t always train every third day. Try and plan ahead as much as possible, but be OK with adjusting your schedule a bit, whether that’s because of work, you’re not feeling well, or you have a hot date. Also, once you go through a cycle or two of the training program, you’ll start to identify where you need to spend more time focusing on areas of weakness or areas that are more applicable to your training goal. For instance the crux on Lurking Fear is a slab and El Cap has a lot of pitches, so I need to spend less time focused on bouldering and power and more on outdoor mileage to hone my slab technique and be ready to do a lot of pitches in a day.
  3. Get a Support System. Tell your friends you’ve started training. You don’t need to spray all over Facebook every day about how many pull-ups you just did, but it helps hold you accountable to keep working out as no one likes the New Years resolution to “get fit” that then fades away in three weeks. If you’re in a relationship, it’s also mission critical for your significant other to support your goals. In my case, I have two small children and my wife has to take on an unfair amount of the work with them so I can go train. I would have quit training long ago if she didn’t support me even though it can be hard for both of us.
  4. Have a Goal. I’ve climbed for almost half my life and yet this is the first year that I’ve actually started training with any truly legitimacy. In my experience, that has largely been because I had no real reason to. Everyone appreciates getting stronger and climbing harder, but climbing a letter grade harder in and of itself is not inspiring. For instance, would you rather climb 5.11c this year or would you rather climb Astroman? 5.11c, while tangible, means very little to me while Astroman would be a dream route, one that I would remember forever. No matter how hard you climb or how hard you’d like to climb, identifying a specific route or routes is a better way to go than chasing a grade. It will help in the long run too to avoid burnout.
  5. Train Your Weaknesses. If you have a goal, then you should have identified the style of climbing and skills needed to achieve your goal. If you don’t have a goal, or you’re between goals because you just accomplished your last one, focus on training your weaknesses. This is where the be rigid/be flexible advice from above really comes into play. Be rigid in the respect that if it’s a power phase, train power even if it’s your weakness. Does your goal have some slab on it and you’re bad at that? Spend more time ARCing before workouts to hone that specific skill. The point is to not just go through the motions. You have to break through what you can already do and the only way to do that is to consciously and specifically train what you’re bad at. For me, it’s closed crimps. I’ve always open hand crimped mostly because I was told a long time ago open hand crimping will also help your closed crimping but not vice versa. Science has shown that to not be true. Open hand crimping is good for open hand crimping and closed crimping is good for closed crimping. I have big oven mitts (ask my wife – my hands literally don’t fit into oven mitts) so I’d rather grab a sloper, do some compression moves, or pinch something but that’s not always an option. So I’ve spent a ton of time training crimps. In the strength phase it’s several of my key grips on the hang board, in the power phase, I seek out crimpy boulder problems, and when I rope up, I look for crimpy routes. I still follow my training program, but I have an added focus of what I’m bad at. Of course, train what you’re good at too as you can always improve that skill as well.
  6. Data, data, data. How do you know you’re bad at something or that you’re getting better at it? Data. Buy the Rock Climber’s Training Manual Training Log. I mean seriously, it’s only $4. I track everything in it, from the super broad calendar and plan for my climbing trip to the minute details of a hangboard workout. You will experience days when you don’t want to workout and you’ll experience days when you feel frustrated when you fail and feel like you’re going backwards in your training program. This is when it is critical to look back at your logbook. First off, you’re supposed to fail. Seriously. You can’t know your limits or push past them without failing. But when you feel like you’re doing poorly on the fourth hangboarding night of the cycle and then you look back to last cycle and see how much better you’re doing than last time, it’s very motivating. It’s also motivating to see when you break a personal best. The workouts should always feel hard because you should continue to push yourself. Data helps you know how much you can safely push yourself without risking injury and keep your psych high when you see your progress. Of course, we all have off days so don’t let the anomalous bad workout get you down. The key is to still do the workout with as much fidelity as possible and regroup for next time.
  7. Rehab. Don’t tell my wife this, but I’m not the young stud I once was. The biggest thing I’ve found with getting older is the amount of time I need to recover. With that comes the risk of injury and it takes me longer to get over injuries than it used to. So the key is to then avoid injuries altogether. Some key elements include good rest, massage, and training antagonist muscles. For massage, it’s great to go to a massage place, but more specifically, you can work on problem spots in your arms yourself with things like the ARMAid, which has really helped me with my elbows. Also, climbers focus on getting strong in pull down muscles. You should work some antagonist muscle exercises into your routine as well so you don’t get too strong on one side of your arms and the overcompensation causes chronic pain. This is essentially what golfer’s and tennis elbow are. I use some armbands etc to train those muscles as well, which has helped immensely. The last key thing that has been critical for me is a good chiropractor. There a lot of hacks out there, but good ones can be game changers, or at least that was my experience. I’m putting more stress on my body than ever before and I feel better than ever before and I notice it when I miss a couple weeks of chiropractic work for whatever reason.
  8. Eat Right. This is my biggest area of weakness in my training. I’m not a good cooker. You should tell how much I dislike cooking by my use of the word cooker. I don’t like to do it, I find it to be an inefficient use of my time, and I just don’t have patience to make a great meal. I view eating as a necessary thing to living, not as a hobby or an indulgence of flavors etc. I just need calories and don’t want to spend a lot of time preparing them. With that said, what you eat matters and so eating the right stuff is important. Clearly I’m no dietician so I can’t offer you sound advice other than eating well is important and you should do it. Do as I say, not as I do I guess…
  9. Sleep. Another area of weakness of mine and boy do I wish I could sleep more. However I have a two-and-a-half year old that is still working out the finer points of going to the bathroom in a potty at night and a four-month old. Sleep is a luxury around our house. But boy do I notice when I get an extra hour of sleep – It. Is. Amazing.
  10. Have fun! Not every workout is going to get you pumped up but overall, you need to enjoy what you’re doing for the sake of longevity. Get a training partner, track your progress, have a goal, and remind yourself why you’re doing it. It can be monotonous lifting weights in your garage by yourself or dusting off your gym’s unused campus board. It can also be de-motivating standing over in the weight area by yourself as you watch your friends laugh it up over by the lead cave. So why are you doing it? Are the end results of your effort worth it? I certainly hope so. And if you dread training, and find yourself struggling to adhere to the program after a few months, modify it so that you can still improve and find benefit from it, but can reach a balance between improvement and enjoyment.

– Jason Haas

Bouldering at the New River Gorge

If any of you know me well enough, you’ll know that I’m not a big fan of the bouldering at the New River Gorge.  Sure.  There are some really….really……(really) good problems here.  I’ve traveled extensively throughout the country to boulder and though my passion IS route climbing, I love the heck out of bouldering.   I just have never really found that special place in my heart for the bouldering here (it’s nice to be wrong about some things.)

We had a new person at the Energy Rock Gym last night, a traveling boulderer.  We do not get “new” people at our gym that often, so when we do, we spend a lot of time climbing with them and getting their perspective on things.  He RAVED about the bouldering at the New and we talked a good bit about it.

Because of the climbing gym in Charleston (WV) the community has here has grown a good bit, though because of the training nature of the gym (no ropes just bouldering), all of our new climbers have gravitated toward bouldering instead of route climbing.  I liken this to planting a whole bunch of tomato seeds and getting a bunch of daisies!

Lauren Goff rocking her Stonewear clothes at the Energy Rock Gym last Fall.

Bouldering?  You guys want to GO BOULDERING??  ARE YOU SERIOUS???  Why not put on a rope and go bouldering!  It’s called sport climbing!!!

So we’ve been bouldering a lot this Spring season.  As I talked about in a few previous blog posts, I’m in really good bouldering shape right now.  That’s a nice way of saying “I’m not in very good route climbing shape right now.”  Since I’ve been giving the boulders some attention, I’m starting to come around to the fact that the bouldering locally here is actually pretty AWESOME! (though somewhat limited?)

Dan Brayack climbing at the Energy Rock Gym in Charleston WV

Hawk’s Nest has historically  been the place to boulder here.  The mostly flat (though long) approach, coupled with the “Stephen King’s ‘It’ ” feel to the area makes a nice balance of convenience and sketchiness.  The boulders are directly below the Hawks Nest Dam are are “underwater” after any significant rainfall, making it pretty hard to climb here during spring.

I would say (without looking at the book) there are 20 good boulder problems here with an even distribution up to V5 and one of the better V7s in the area: “White Eyebrow.”

My climbing buddy David Statler (he owns the gym) sent “White Eyebrow”, so I just HAVE to do the thing…can’t let my bro one-up me like that!

White Eyebrow (V7) is all about the first move. The problem stand-starts on two “decent to not-bad” positive small edges under the steep portion of the bulge.  The starting foot is very very bad and way under the bulge.  Some people opt to “campus” the first move, but I found it very difficult to not “kip” to the starting hold so I decided that a static start from the bad foot hold would be what I considered a valid send for myself.  (I bet a lot of people who have this one checked off in their book jumped a little, but that’s their prerogative.)

Once established, a dead-point to the deep pocket leads to a long move to the right-facing gaston.  This is the iconic move seen in most images.  From here, the problem isn’t too bad – just a little scary.
The jump-start to the good pocket (skipping the first move) is maybe soft V5 or hard V4.

Here’s a series of images from the problem – I did not send, but jump-started to make sure I could do the finish.  My excuses are (in order) 1.  It was hot.  2.  It was humid.  3.   It was greasy.  4. It was hot.  5.  I suck at bouldering.  6.  It was hot.  7.  It was sunny out.  8.  It wasn’t sunny out.  9.  It wasn’t windy enough.  10.  It was hot.

“White Eyebrow V7″
“White Eyebrow V7″
“White Eyebrow V7″
“White Eyebrow V7″
“White Eyebrow V7″

Some other classics at Hawk’s Nest:

Stella Mascari on “Son of Easy” V2
Jared Thomas “Son of Easy” V2
Amber Journell on “??” V2
Brady Journell on “FCA” V4 (I think)

On a separate day, we did the “Gorge Driving Tour” hitting up several bouldering areas on the one-way loop that drives through the canyon of the New River Gorge, directly under the iconic bridge.  We started at the “Bridge” area which boasts two climbable boulders.  The first boulder, the “Jaws” boulder has a bunch of moderate problems, the best problems being on the vertical front face of the boulder.

Over near the “Love-Shack Cave” there is a boulder that I had not noticed before, though it was really impressive.  It had one obvious line:  “Wild Bill’s Zen Bitch Slap” V5.   This problem starts low in this cave and climbs maybe 15 feet of rock up and right through two boulders, finishing with a big dead-point move (or some tick-tacks) to the top.  It is a super excellent problem!

Dan Brayack on “Politically Left” V3
Sarah Canterbury on “Citizen’s Arête” V2
Sarah Canterbury on “Butch Goes to Indochina” V4
Dan Brayack “Wild Bill’s Zen Bitch Slab” V5
Dan Brayack “Wild Bill’s Zen Bitch Slab” V5
Dustin Canterbury “Wild Bill’s Zen Bitch Slab” V5

Further down the loop, there is a new bouldering area that I had never been to called “Teay’s Landing.”  The hike into this boulder is pretty horrible.   (We only saw one boulder that worth climbing, but we didn’t look that hard.)

“West Virginia Hot Pocket” V6 is one of the coolest boulder problems I’ve ever done.  I would say hands down, it is the best problem I’ve done at the New River Gorge when I didn’t have a rope.

This problem climbs a mostly blank and smooth, slightly steep boulder that is punctuated with just enough pockets to make it “go.”  The problem itself is a high-ball with a slanted landing and rocks in all the wrong places.  Though the middle of the problem is the crux, my buddy Dustin Canterbury and I were both able to do that section pretty quickly and consistently.  We struggled on the “GO FOR IT TO THE TOP” move.  Each of us kept pushing it a little higher and higher each time before down climbing and jumping.

I’ll save you the pain of going through the beta move-by-move on this one, but I’ll assure you, I’m not show-boating in the images.  The easiest way for me to this one was to do the full on rose move.

Finally – Dustin just WENT FOR IT, though missed and fell….He didn’t die (or get hurt or anything.)

For what was probably my last go of the day, I just blanked out the thought of falling and stuck the top!  I screamed my head off and topped out….then laid on top of the boulder trying to decide if I was stoked or if I was pissed at myself for being so dumb and going for it!!!!!!!!

It really was a safe and the landing legit, but sometimes high bouldering is just so mental for me!

Dustin Canterbury “WV Hot Pocket V6″
Dan Brayack “WV Hot Pocket V6″
Dan Brayack “WV Hot Pocket V6″
Dan Brayack “WV Hot Pocket V6″

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.

a

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.

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