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Category Archives: Video

Focus – New Post on RCTM.com!

Check out my new post on “Focus” over at RockClimbersTrainingManual.com:

“Focus is all about summoning maximum concentration and attention at the moment it is crucially needed.  Most climbers think of this when its time to send, but the ability to summon and maintain sufficient focus is also vital during daily training.  With training cycles that last for months, often involving several weeks of training on plastic, maintaining this focus can be quite a challenge.  When I have to post-hole through two feet of fresh snow to get to the Lazy H for a workout, the moment of tying in for a difficult send may be the furthest from my mind.  Regardless, the effort & attention given to the ensuing workout, completed two months before booting up below my project, could have as much bearing on the eventual outcome as the effort put into the redpoint attempt….”  Continue Reading

How to Build a Campus Board

Previously we described how to install a hangboard, even in tight spaces. In this article, we’ll expand these approaches to Campus boards. Campus training is important to the Rock Prodigy method, but it’s often the first training activity to be skipped because it requires unique equipment. This is a unfortunate because; as described in the Rock Climber’s Training Manual, campus training develops several vital attributes for climbing:

• Muscle Fiber Recruitment
• Increased Muscle Fiber Contraction Speed
• Neuro-muscular coordination for dynamic movement
• Contact Strength (the ability to quickly generate force through your forearm muscles to “latch” a hold)
• Hand & Finger Accuracy
• Dynamic Aggression (or “go-for-it-ness”)

Therefore, Campus Training should be a part of your comprehensive training program.

Many climbing gyms have campus boards these days, but many of these seem more suited to show-and-tell rather than actual training. Just like with a hangboard, it is always preferable to build your own Campus Board so you can have complete control over the design and customize it to fit your needs. In this article comparing Campus Board configurations, we described the generally accepted standards for campus boards, but we’ll summarize them again here.

Campus Board Design

Campus Board Specs

Campus Board Specs

We recommend using Moon Half Spacing because it is much more common.

Regardless of the rungs, you’ll need a board to hang them from, and for most folks, this is the crux. Ideally, the board would have plenty of clearance all-around and would be infinitely tall, but practically, an effective training tool can be built in a much tighter space. Unlike a hangboard, a Campus Board needs to have some height to enable the dynamic movement, but, contrary to common belief, it doesn’t need to be extremely tall. As described in Chapter 7: Power of the Rock Climber’s Training Manual, the most essential campus exercise is a “Max Ladder,” which only requires a board a few feet long. (Consider that the ultimate standard for campus mastery is the “1-5-9” Max Ladder, which, with Moon Spacing requires a board only about 72 ” tall – most climbers will find a shorter board, around 48-55” tall, completely adequate for Max Ladder training).

The first Campus Board I built myself, in Colorado Springs.

The first Campus Board I built myself, in Colorado Springs.

Much of the height needed to install an effective campus board comes from the required starting height for the board. Ideally, you could hang the board high enough that the lowest rung would be about shoulder height, allowing you to start campusing from a standing athletic position (knees bent). This would require a mounting location about 10 feet tall for a 5’8” tall climber with a 60” tall board. Many folks won’t have a space that tall. Fortunately, it is possible (and many people prefer it) to perform campus exercises beginning from a sitting position (this is how I started campusing, probably because I didn’t know any better. The first board I ever trained on in the Sport Climbing Center in Colorado Springs in the late 90’s had a low-mounted campus board and that is how I learned). Campusing from the sitting or “pike” position is a little more demanding on your abs for the first move or two. It’s not ideal, but its far better than having a board with only 4 rungs. You can always start higher up the board when you don’t need the entire height of the board for a given set. Obviously, the benefit is that you can mount your board in a smaller space.

This video shows the second campus board I built. You can see the “pike” position I’m talking about:

I’ve found a good starting height for my body for a low-mount board is 40” off the floor. When I lived in Dayton, OH (see the video above), I had a garage that was 9’ 4” tall, and I mounted my board 40” off the floor, allowing for a board 76” tall, which is much taller than needed for Max Ladders, but allows some more height for warmup ladders, and longer campus sets (which are of dubious training value).

Schematic of my Campus Board in Dayton

Schematic of my Campus Board in Dayton

If your tallest space is only a standard eight foot ceiling, that still allows for a 58” tall board, which is enough space to do the “1-4-7” Max Ladder with Moon Spacing – a worthy goal and still a very difficult exercise.

Remember, because the board is mounted at an angle (15 degrees in this case), the board takes up less “room height” than the length of the board, according to this equation from high school trigonometry:

H=L cos(15°)

Therefore, if you want a little more Campus Board length, you could go with a steeper board, up to 20 degrees, and eek out a couple more inches (in an 8’ tall room, your board could be 59.5” “long” instead of 58” with a 20 degree overhang angle).

Be sure to provide some leg clearance behind the board, especially if you’ll be using the low/sitting mount – three feet is adequate, but you can get by with less in a pinch. Twelve inches should be considered the minimum.

Schematic for a 58" tall board in an 8' room.

Schematic for a 58″ tall board in an 8′ room.

Framing a Board

Once you’ve decided on your geometry, you’ll need to deal with the actual installation. A permanent installation, tied into the structure of your house, garage, etc. is ideal because it will consume the least amount of space and provide the most secure and stable platform for campusing. You don’t want to feel (or hear) your campus board flexing as you’re bounding from rung to rung.

The plywood should be a minimum of ¾” thick, and you should spring for the high-quality finish. It’s more expensive, but your fingers will thank you! The framing should be 2×6’s on 16” centers (meaning they are spaced 16” apart when measured from the centerline of each board to the centerline of the next). Start by mounting a base board flat against the wall at the desired height, as well as one on the ceiling. Next, mount joist hangers like these along the wall base board, and place your horizontal frames in the joist hangers. The angled frames can be attached to the ceiling base board with framing angles like these . Join the frames together at the base by either overlapping them, or using Tie Plates, like these. Finally, mount your plywood (with the finished side facing out), and install the rungs.

Framing hardware for a Campus Board.

Framing hardware for a Campus Board.

Free-Standing Campus Board

In many cases, a free-standing campus board may be required, especially if you live in an apartment, or your husband is dead-set against you disgracing his man-castle with an unsightly Campus Board. A collapsible, temporary Campus Board actually makes sense if you have limited space because you’ll only be using it for about 6-12 weeks out of the year (during your Power Phase of each training season), so it doesn’t need to clutter your life the rest of the time.

This is a schematic for a free-standing campus board that is 10'6" Tall.

Schematic for a 10’6″ free-standing campus board.

For our house in Florida, we built a free-standing, collapsible Campus Board stand because we were renting the house, and we weren’t allowed to make major modifications. We also envisioned taking it down went not in use, but we eventually decided to leave it up all the time because it wasn’t getting in the way (and we had better things to do 🙂 ). This design is overkill for most folks with its three sets of rungs, and 76” height. You could get away with a much smaller board that would be much more manageable. A single set of rungs is adequate for good campus training, and the board can be much shorter, as previously explained.

The collapsible Campus Board for our rental house in Florida.

The collapsible Campus Board for our rental house in Florida. Note the pads – these are nice when your legs are flailing around.

The basic design concept is to use two A-frames that support the campusing surface. In reality, an asymmetric support frame is used because the vertical column holding the campusing surface carries the majority of the load. The entire stand is designed to break into 8 pieces which can all be assembled using 5/16″ bolts, so that only one size wrench is required. The nuts are T-nuts so that you don’t have to deal with securing hex nuts, which makes assembly and disassembly very easy.

Side view of the Collapsible Campus Board.

Side view of the Collapsible Campus Board.

Rear detail.  Notice the 5/16" bolts and T-nuts for easy assembly/disassembly.

Rear detail. Notice the 5/16″ bolts throughout for easy assembly/disassembly.

T-nuts accept the 5/16" bolts for easy assembly.

T-nuts accept the 5/16″ bolts for easy assembly.

The main support beams are constructed from two parallel 2×6′s separated by 2×6 spacers to increase the beam’s second moment of area (basically makes for a sturdier column). They are thus 4.5″ wide, 5.5″ deep, and about 10′ 9″ tall. These are quite sturdy! The beams break into two pieces for storage and these are connected by tongue-in-groove joints. This 3-wide spaced beam design also makes it possible to use very strong lap joints at the other connection points. The other leg of the “A” is a single 2×6 that fits into the space separating the two 2x6s forming the main beams. The cutouts in the 2×6′s are for aesthetics and weight savings; you can save a lot of time and effort by leaving the studs intact.

The campusing surface is broken into two pieces, the upper piece is 28″ tall, while the lower piece is 48″ tall. The plywood and rungs themselves are permanently fastened to vertical 2×4 studs, which are then permanently fastened to the horizontal beams (a 2×4 on the top, and a 2×6 on the bottom). The horizontal beams are fastened to the triangle supports with 5/16″ bolts. The horizontal seam between the two surfaces should be placed at the bottom of a row of rungs so that your fingers can’t drag across the seam accidentally. For Metolius spacing, this seam occurs conveniently at the bottom of rung 13. For Moon spacing, the seem should be just below the 12th rung (11 rungs-gaps X 4cm/gap/2.54 cm/inch = 47.64″). You’ll want to trim the lower board to 47.6″ so the 12th rung can be placed entirely on the upper board.

The upper, 28" campusing surface (from the back).

The upper, 28″ campusing surface (from the back).

The plywood and rungs themselves are permanently fastened to vertical 2x4 studs, which are then permanently fastened to the horizontal beams (a 2x4 on the top, and a 2x6 on the bottom).

The lower, 48″ tall campusing surface.

The final product turned out a little different than what is shown in the drawing, as we learned some things in the process and added some features. It takes about 30 minutes to set this up or tear it down.
This was designed with hinges at the base, so that the board could be easily assembled while lying flat, then hoisted into place and secured at the “toe” with one bolt each. On our first iteration, we assembled it this way in our living room, and it was very hard to lift due to the weight…two anorexic climbers could barely do it 🙂.

The hinges that join the base boards to the main support beams.

The hinges that join the base boards to the main support beams.

After some modifications to lighten the structure, we also decided to erect it in a different room where we could leave it setup permanently, but this room is smaller, so we couldn’t assemble it flat and raise it. Instead, we assembled the triangle supports first, then attached the boards. Like I said before, this version is over-kill, so if you’re building from scratch, consider a shorter and narrower board (fewer sets of rungs). These next photos show the assembly process….

First, the main support beams are assembled:

Assembing the two-piece main support beams with tongue-in-groove joints.

Assembling the two-piece main support beams with tongue-in-groove joints.

My Dad, Marshall, fastens 3 bolts to secure the lap joints for the left main support beam.

My Dad, Marshall, fastens 3 bolts to secure the lap joints for the left main support beam.

Next, the main beams are lifted up. The base board (a single 2×6) is connected to the main beam with a sturdy door hinge, so it unfolds, remaining flat on the floor.

The secondary supports slide into the space in the main support beams and are fastened with a single 5/16" bolt.

The secondary supports slide into the space in the main support beams and are fastened with a single 5/16″ bolt.

Once the A-frames are complete, the campusing surfaces can be attached. One of the modifications we made was to add little blocks on the rear of the main support beams to rest the horizontal beams on while they are being lifted into place and bolted down. In this photo, the upper surface is resting on these blocks while we reposition the ladders.

Raising the upper, 28" campusing surface.

Raising the upper, 28″ campusing surface.

 

Lifting the lower, 48" campusing surface.

Lifting the lower, 48″ campusing surface.

Front view.

Front view.

The horizontal beams are bolted down to the main support beams with 5/16″ bolts & T-nuts, once again, — two for each corner (8 total). Next, the lower, 48″ campusing surface is lifted into place and bolted down.

Finally, I used a framing angle to tie-in the top of the board to a ceiling rafter. This joint doesn’t carry any vertical load, but it resists horizontal (side-to-side) motion, and prevents the rig from swaying or jumping around as you campus up the board.

Installing a framing angle between the ceiling and the campus board.

Installing a framing angle between the ceiling and the campus board.

This is the entire kit, disassembled.

This is the entire kit, disassembled.

Portable Campus Board

If none of the aforementioned options are in the cards, consider this very low-profile design I built while deployed to Afghanistan:

My portable campus board at Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan

My portable campus board at Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan

Side view.

Side view.

It has a single row of rungs, so it’s only 16” wide, and 52” tall. I only had 11 rungs at my disposal, so I put gaps where rungs #2 and #8 would normally be, because I used these rungs the least. The entire board was designed to hang from a pullup bar, and it could be assembled and disassembled in a couple minutes. The bulk of the weight is supported by beefy steel hooks that hang over the pullup bar:

Rear view, detailing the load-bearing hooks, and the lower horizontal support beam.

Rear view, detailing the load-bearing hooks, and the lower horizontal support beam.

A lower cross brace is used to support the bottom of the board, maintaining the angle, and adding rigidity to the entire structure. This bottom brace was lashed to the pullup bar’s posts with speed cam-buckle straps. The board could be “assembled” in about 2 minutes, and the portable assembly weighed about 30 lbs, so it could be carried pretty easily from my “hooch.”

Early sketch of the portable Campus Board.

Early sketch of the portable Campus Board.

I had to compromise on the angle of the board, only overhanging it about 8 degrees to accommodate the geometry of the pullup bar and the materials I had, but this didn’t affect my training much. This rig worked surprisingly well. The biggest issue was that the entire structure (pullup bars and all) wobbled a bit with each move. This made campusing a bit more cruxy than usual, as I had to aim for slightly moving targets. Nevertheless, I performed 6 workouts on this board, and it helped me reach sufficient fitness to redpoint the very powerful and dynamic Scarface at Smith Rock within a month of my return from deployment.

 Scarface

Good enough for Government work! Though not ideal, the portable Campus board prepared me enough for the very powerful Scarface, 5.14a at Smith Rock, OR. Photo by Janelle

Adjustable Mount for the RPTC – New Post on RCTM.com!

Check out my new post on “Adjustable Mount for the RPTC” over at RockClimbersTrainingManual.com:

“Ever since I first conceived of the Rock Prodigy Training Center, I’ve been pondering a cheap and simple mounting system that would allow for instantaneous spacing adjustments. Once the RPTC was unveiled I got a number of great ideas from other climbers. Julian Marks suggested a “French Cleat” system in this Mountain Project thread, which uses two pieces of angled lumber to create an integrated hook on the mounting structure that slides along a fixed receptacle…”  Continue Reading

Adjustable Mount for the RPTC

Ever since I first conceived of the Rock Prodigy Training Center, I’ve been pondering a cheap and simple mounting system that would allow for instantaneous spacing adjustments. Once the RPTC was unveiled I got a number of great ideas from other climbers. Julian Marks suggested a “French Cleat” system in this Mountain Project thread, which uses two pieces of angled lumber to create an integrated hook on the mounting structure that slides along a fixed receptacle.

The French Cleat concept: The upper incut board (fastened to a piece of plywood and one half of the RPTC) hooks onto the lower, fixed incut board. This allows the upper unit to “float” freely from side to side along the fixed cleat.

The French Cleat concept: The upper incut board (fastened to a piece of plywood and one half of the RPTC) hooks onto the lower, fixed incut board. This allows the upper unit to “float” freely from side to side along the fixed cleat.

This was exactly the sort of simplicity I was hoping for. Despite the assurances of several folks, I doubted that this method would provide reliable, rigid, and stable support for the RPTC. The mounting structure must be solid to ensure repeatable training loads. A board that wobbles or flexes undermines our ability to track progress and predict the proper increment of increased load between workouts. I decided to build a prototype and was impressed by the results. The finished mount was rock solid, and much easier to adjust than I had ever dreamed. Here’s a short video of the finished product in action:

Below are step-by-step instructions for building the mount shown. If you have any suggestions for streamlining the fabrication process, please share them in a comment!

Required Tools:

  • Drill
  • Circular Saw with a rigid blade
  • Level
  • Several Clamps
  • Tape Measure
  • Gloves, safety glasses

Optional Tools:

  • Electric Sander
  • Table Saw

Materials:

  • 2×6, 2×8, or 2×10 lumber, 5-feet long or more
  • 2×4, same length as 2×6/8/10
  • 1×4, same length as 2×6/8/10
  • A few short pieces of scrap 2×4
  • ~Two square feet of ¾” Plywood
  • 8 – 3” Wood Screws (#8 or larger)
  • 6 – 2.5” Wood Screws (#8 or larger)
  • 2 – 1.25” Wood Screws

I started with an 8-foot long 2×8, because I wasn’t sure how “tall’ the cleats would need to be. I went with 5.5” for the long fixed cleat and 5” for the two floating cleats (so a 2×6 would have worked for either cleat, though in retrospect, 5” for both cleats would have worked too). The first step, and by far the crux of the project, is to make an angled rip cut in the 2x piece of lumber. The cut needs to be as precise as possible, since the surface created by the cut will be the mounting surface between the two cleats. Irregularities in this surface will cause the cleats to “wobble”. For the fixed cleat you need to make a rip cut ~3.5-feet long, and for the two floating cleats you need to make a rip cut ~2.5-feet long. If you are using the same cleat height for the fixed and floating cleats, you can make one 6’-long rip cut (or if you’re using a 2×10, one 3.5′ rip cut would probably do it). Make the cut at least 6” longer than you need because you will want to trim the a few inches off each end of the finished board.

Dimensions of the piece parts.

Dimensions of the piece parts.

I found making the rip cut to be quite difficult, and I failed on my first attempt. A table saw or better would be really nice to have for this cut, but I was able to do it (eventually) with my circular saw. My initial error was using a “speed blade” on my circular saw, which is designed to be thin so that less material is removed while cutting, thus allowing for speedy cuts. Each time the thin blade crossed the wood grain it would flex slightly, causing the cut to veer off course. Once I switched to a thicker blade I was able to make the cut, though it was still difficult.

My circular saw, setup to cut at a 45-degree angle. The blade in this picture is the Diablo speed blade.

My circular saw, setup to cut at a 45-degree angle. The blade in this picture is the Diablo speed blade.

In preparation for the cut, I built a jig to guide the saw and make the cut as straight as possible. I fastened the 2×4 to the narrow edge of the 2×8, and then fastened the 1×4 to the inside wide edge of the 2×4 (based on the dimensions of my circular saw’s guide plate, this made the cut 5.5” from the 2x edge of the board; without the 1×4, the cut would be 5” from the 2x edge—so don’t use the 1×4 if you want your cleats to be 5” tall). I also placed some scrap 2x pieces under the entire assembly to protect my precious deck 🙂

Building a guide (aka “fence”) out of a 2x4 and 1x4 to keep the circular saw aligned correctly during the rip cut. The 2x4 is fastened into the 2x8, and the 1x4 is fastened to the 2x4. Once the cut is complete, the 2x4 and 1x4 are removed.

Building a guide (aka “fence”) out of a 2×4 and 1×4 to keep the circular saw aligned correctly during the rip cut. The 2×4 is fastened into the 2×8, and the 1×4 is fastened to the 2×4. Once the cut is complete, the 2×4 and 1×4 are removed.

A few tips on the rip cut: 1) when starting, cut about 2” into the board, then back out the saw and go back in again. Repeat as necessary to ensure the saw’s guide plate is lying flat against the board and flush against the 1×4 (or 2×4) guide rail. 2) The entire time you are cutting, apply firm pressure down, and into the guide rail to prevent the saw from lifting up or veering off course. 3) Take your time! This is not an easy cut to make.

Making the angled Rip Cut.

Making the angled Rip Cut.

Once the rip cut was made I used an electric sander to smooth down all the new edges and the angled surface. This surface will be the mating interface between the cleats so you want it to be as smooth and uniform as possible.

Next I cut the fixed cleat down to size. This cleat is 5.5” tall, and I decided to make it 34.5” long. It could be longer, but this is all I had space for, and much longer than I need. This allows me to vary the spacing of my RPTC halves from 0” to 9.5”.

The cut fixed cleat (before sanding).

The cut fixed cleat (before sanding).

To make the two floating cleats I flipped the 2×8 around, and installed the 2×4 guide fence on the opposite edge of the 2×8, but left the 1×4 off, to create a 5” tall cleat. [Note: This isn’t ideal; I had to do this because I messed up the first rip cut and so half of my 2×8 was essentially ruined.   By shortening the height of the cleat by 0.5” I was able to salvage this half of the 2×8. If I were doing it again I would make one rip cut, ~6-feet long, resulting in a cut 5.5” from the edge of the 2×6/8, and I would use that piece to make the fixed cleat and the two floating cleats.] I cut this piece into two 12.5” long pieces (about ¼” longer than one half of the RPTC). Making these longer would probably increase the stability of the finished assembly, but it would require more mounting space as well.  The 12.5″ length has worked fine for me, but I notice a bit of flex when I’m using the pinch grips.

A finished floating cleat perched above the fixed cleat.

A finished floating cleat perched above the fixed cleat.

Next I cut out two 12.5” by 10” rectangles of ¾” plywood. These pieces will be attached to the floating cleats, and then the RPTC halves will be mounted to the plywood. With all the pieces cut to size, it was time to assemble the contraption.

Make two rectangles of ¾” plywood, measuring 12.5” wide by 10” tall.

Make two rectangles of ¾” plywood, measuring 12.5” wide by 10” tall.

The first step of assembly is to mount the fixed cleat to your mounting structure. Use a level to get this cleat lined up properly. In my case, I was mounting to a long 2×8, so I used a handful of 3” long wood screws to fasten the fixed cleat. If you are mounting to a wall with hidden studs, or some other structure, longer wood screws, lag screws, or bolts may be required. If using wood screws, use at least six, but make sure the fixed cleat is firmly attached to the mounting structure.

Next I placed the floating cleats onto the fixed cleats, and lined them up in the locations I expected to use them the most. I then attached the first plywood rectangle to the first cleat using two 2” wood screws (longer screws will penetrate the mounting surface and defeat the purpose of this entire enterprise). I lined up the rectangle so the lower horizontal edge was flush with the lower horizontal edge of the fixed cleat (this meant the top of the rectangle protrudes about 3/4” from the top of the floating cleat). Once I had the first screw in place, I used a level to get the lower edge of the rectangle level. Install the second rectangle in the same way. It helps to have a clamp for this step.

The two plywood rectangles attached to the floating cleats. Use two 2” screws for each plywood piece. More screws will be added later.

The two plywood rectangles attached to the floating cleats. Use two 2” screws for each plywood piece. More screws will be added later.

Next install each half of the RPTC onto the plywood rectangle. I installed mine flush with the lower edge of the plywood rectangle, and I used a level, placed under the edge that runs between the Thin Edge and the beveled three-finger pocket on each RPTC half, to ensure each side was installed at the correct angle (horizontal for me), and to ensure the two halves are installed at the same height. It helps to have a clamp to fine tune the alignment before installing any screws. Once aligned, use the screw lengths specified in the below pic to ensure you don’t penetrate the mounting structure or fixed cleat:

Use the screw lengths specified here when attaching the RPTC halves to the floating mounts.

Use the screw lengths specified here when attaching the RPTC halves to the floating mounts.

Once all the screws are installed, test your installation. You should be ready to rock! I suggest attaching or scribing a ruler onto your fixed cleat to allow for quick and repeatable adjustment of your RPTC spacing. Note the spacing used for each grip position in your Hangboard Log Sheet for future reference.  I’ve been training on this mount for the past two weeks now, and I’m really happy with it.  I’m looking into ways to streamline the construction of this type of mount, so if you have ny ideas, please let me know!

Get ‘em While They’re Hot!

The Rock Prodigy Training Center is now available for purchase from Trango’s website!  The initial manufacturing run produced a modest number of units, so order right away if you want to be the first climber on your block to have one.

Packaged RPTCs ready to ship to YOUR front door!

Packaged RPTCs ready to ship to YOUR front door!

This ground-breaking hangboard was designed by me, with help from my brother Mike and Lamont Smith.  In my humble opinion, this is the best hangboard on the market, and is a big leap forward in hangboard design.  This board will help beginners unlock the amazing power of hangboard training, by eliminating the top barriers to hangboarding and starting them on the fast-track to finger strength.  In my experience, these barriers are pain and risk of injury.  This board is exceedingly comfortable, and was built with ergonomics in mind first and foremost. 

Two-Piece desing -- your joints will thank you.

Two-Piece design — your joints will thank you.

The most obvious innovation in ergonomics and injury prevention is the two-piece design.  I really don’t understand why nobody has created a two-piece board already (though production cost may be one reason).  Two independent pieces are absolutely fundamental and essential to safe hangboarding.  First, they allow each climber to adjust the hold-spacing to their own shoulder-width, so Jane doesn’t have to do an Iron Cross on Bruce’s board, and Bruno doesn’t have to press his elbows to his ears to use Julie’s board.  Second, they allow the two halves to be rotated independently, so the holds on the board can be properly aligned with the climber’s fingers, accounting for variations in finger lengths, and eliminating unsafe strain on the climber’s wrist. Also, nearly every one piece board has a bunch of holds in the center that are useless (for two-arm hangs).  This board eliminates that wasted plastic and distributes it where it can be used safely.

Skin friendly, large-radius lips on all holds.

Skin friendly, large-radius lips on all holds.

All the holds on the board have large-radius, skin-friendly lips to maximize comfort. The board has three textures (completely smooth, medium texture, and rough texture) to give a secure feel on positive surfaces without wrecking your skin. The board includes multiple size options (usually three sizes or more) for all of the most important grip positions, ensuring that climbers of all abilities will find Goldilocks Holds-those that are just right for maximizing your finger strength.  Furthermore, the size options provide a built-in ladder of progression that will make the RPTC a valuable training investment for years to come.

While I’m certain the above features will help beginners break into hangboarding, this board was wihtout-a-doubt designed with hardcore training fiends in mind.  I’ve been hangboarding seriously for nearly twelve years.  By that I mean, three or more seasons per year, with 8-12, 90-minute hangboard sessions per season.  That’s literally 100′s of hours spent hanging from all manner of hangboards.  Mike has another 15 years of his own experience that went into this design.  We wanted to develop a board that would help extremely experienced hangboarders push to the next level, by minimizing all the little annoyances that inhibit your hangboard training sessions (like skin irritation, joint pain, features that encourage cheating, unrealistic shapes and impractical hold sizes). Even if you aren’t a hangboard connoisseur, you will benefit from the thought and attention to detail that went into the design, and you won’t outgrow this board once you become fanatical about training.

Finally, I was determined to develop a practical yet functional means of progressing to smaller grips, without the need to constantly buy more and more hangboards as the climber improves.  Often once your hangboard does its job – making you stronger – there is nowhere to go except to a new, expensive hangboard. I’ve gone through five different hangboards over the years, not counting a hodge-podge collection of bolt-on holds I’ve used to supplement my insufficient hangboards.  No more! This vicious circle had to stop. The Variable Depth Edge Rails on this board provide an almost limitless ladder of progressively shallower edges to train from.  These features, along with the “Position Index Bumps”, allow tremendous variation in hold size without taking up too much space on the board (or resulting in a fragile design).  Each climber will be able to find a spot on the Edge Rail that is perfect for their finger size and ability, and then as their fingers strengthen, they can incrementally progress to smaller holds by shifting their hands outward, using the Position Index Bumps as a reference point for repeatable training.

Variable Depth Edge Rails, and Position Index Bumps provide incrementally progression in a practical, compact design.

Variable Depth Edge Rails, and Position Index Bumps provide incrementally progression in a practical, compact design. (right half shown)

Slide your hand outward, using the Position Index Bump as a reference point, to incrementally increase difficulty.

Slide your hand outward, using the Position Index Bump as a reference point, to incrementally increase difficulty. (Left half shown)

For moving pictures that further describe the features of the RPTC, please check out the “Using the Rock Prodigy Training Center Video” below.

Joshua Tree

Over Easter Weekend the family and I flew out to San Diego to visit our good friends Rob and Julie and their toddler Samuel.  The first day we headed out to JTree for some mellow sight-seeing and car camping.  This wasn’t a climbing trip but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to check out JTree’s amazing boulders. 

My friend Will has a house near there and he hooked me up with a few crashpads and a guidebook.  It always helps to have nice tall stack of pads, and the guidebook was a huge help.  I’ve heard it can be hard to find your way around the maze of boulders and jumbled rock formations, but the Miramontes guide has great maps and photos and I was able to find everything with only a small amount of aimless wandering.

The bouldering was really outstanding.  I didn’t know what to expect since the rock at JTree is notoriously fickle, but all of the problems I did were amazing.  I spent most of my time in “The Outback”, but also tried a few things in Hidden Valley.  The rock is sharp for sure, but its not all thin edgeing and smearing.  There are a lot of huecos and scoops, and even though edging is my cup of tea, I really enjoyed the steeper, thuggier problems too.  I would go back in a heart beat, but probably not in late March.  It was really hot for my taste (75 deg F), which limited my options quite a bit.

Here’s a little video of some of the stellar problems I did:

We also did some hiking and what I would call “wandering”–trying to get lost in the amazing landscape.  Joshua tree is completely surreal.  Its a great place to explore and linger.  We headed out toward the Astrodomes and found some cool rock tunnels. Logan had a blast crawling around the tunnels, and managed to burrow himself into several chambers that we couldn’t reach. 

Logan tunneling around in the Wonderland of Rocks.

Logan tunneling around in the Wonderland of Rocks.

Logan loves to scramble around no matter where he is: the house, the park or in the wild.  I’d love for him to be a climber at some point, but I don’t want to push him into, so I’m psyched that he seems to have some inate interest in climbing.

After our all-too-brief stay, we headed back to San Diego for an obligatory Easter Egg Hunt and a beach trip.  Rob is my surfing coach, so we headed out for some waves.  I’m not any good but California seems like a great place to learn, in my limited experience.  The surf was tiny (2-3 feet), but we were able to catch most of the waves we tried for and we had a great time.

Logan scoring some booty.

Logan scoring some booty.

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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