Climbing Tackle

Look close at these beer cans and you’ll see the corners are polished and some of the labeling has rubbed off from rolling around on pitons and carabiners since, likely, the summer of 2009. What I’m trying to say is that I can be very bad about cleaning out my car. Here’s to a little bit of pre-spring cleaning.

AUSTIN SIADAK: The Dirtbagrapher

When I hang out with Austin Siadak I sometimes wonder if this is what Walter Sobchak would be like if he moved into a minivan and rock climbed instead of going to Vietnam.  Eitherway, ‘Dak did move into a van and began documenting the climbing life. I caught up with him sometime after he pitched his Nikon D700 off a cliff (the sensor was fine, but the mic got worked) and asked him some questions about the nascent life of a Professional Dirtbagrapher.

 Austin Siadak “sleeping it off” en route to a day of sport climbing.

How do you take your coffee? Dark as night and twice before I can get anything done for the day.

If you could put $5,000 into your vehicle, where would it go? My current vehicle/home is a rickety, dent, and scratched minivan with 203,000 miles. I bought it for $500, so I suppose I could have a fleet of ten minivans. 


Homebase in 7 years is going to be where?  Oh man, I have NO idea.  And I love that.  Hopefully something in Seattle, San Francisco, Boulder, Salt Lake, Jackson.  Anywhere close to stellar climbing and hiking, good friends, and a major airport.  
Does your degree keep you warm? I studied International Relations at Tufts University, and at one point was dead set on working for the State Department. For this stuff, I use the analytical and reasoning skills that I developed.  Most of what I know about video is from sitting down with a pen and paper and watching videos ten or fifteen times in a row, jotting down what works and what doesn’t. 

So you’re self taught. What are some of the challenges that you could have never expected from dSLR video? Shooting in low-light.  You can’t just drop your shutter speed in the same way you can when shooting stills. I found it difficult to get quality footage of a campfire, unless the fire is really bright.  It can be frustrating because you see something so well with your eyes yet have immense trouble showing it through the lens.
Why do people care enough to watch climbing? I think inspiration has a lot to do with it.  Perhaps more than anything else.  Climbers who embrace the lifestyle want to be inspired and see inspiring stories.  Videos give us the drive to go out and accomplish more in our own lives than we thought possible.

Do climbers document themselves more than others? Climbers proliferate a huge quantity of media.  This probably has a lot to do with bouldering and sport climbing where there are essentially a lot of people standing around with nothing better to do than take videos and photos. But that’s just the quantity side.  Quality is another matter.  Guys like Corey Rich, Keith Ladzinski, Jimmy Chin are capturing awesome, inspiring images.  But most climbing videos are the same 2-5 minute “man-climbs-hard-route” type of thing. It’s getting old. 

Chuck, fuck, and marry: Condoleezza Rice, Hilary Clinton, Madeline Albright? Chuck Condi, fuck Clinton, and marry Albright.  Little known fact: Rice studied under Albright’s father at the University of Denver. Did I mention I used to be an International Relations nerd?

.:HBs:. Thanks for reading

Rock Climbing After a Blizzard

Seeking shelter under the Rainy Day Roof, Jackson Falls, IL














Is it snowing on your holiday? Raining on your parade? …actually, I can’t help with the second one. But if snow is falling right before you were planning on sending, you better not shout and you better not cry – and I’ll tell you why! Snow may be inconvenient for us rock-hounds, but with a little preparation it usually doesn’t have to stop us. Here are some tips to make escaping FFF (Forced Family Fun) a little easier this holiday season.

  1. Beware Falling Debris: After a dump of the white stuff, you’ll probably have to wait about a day for holds to dry off. Once the freeze/thaw cycle has started, keep a sharp eye out for ice, snow, and rock that might fall soon. Wear a helmet, and seek the most sheltered climbs. Be cautious everywhere – especially on the approach.
  2. Bring a Tarp: Don’t look surprised when you get to the crag and there is nowhere dry to set your stuff. Unless you want to build a leaning tower of gear, bring a tarp (the ground-cloth from a tent works well).
  3. Butt Pad: Toasty buns will make you climb 3 letter grades harder…maybe. In any case, bring a small piece of foam or a sleeping pad to prevent FCS (Frozen Cheeks Syndrome). 
  4. Take Sticks: If you’re walking very far or over rough terrain, a pair of trekking poles prove very handy. Old ski poles work almost as well and only cost $5 at a garage sale.
  5. High Tops and Gaiters: Even one dump of snow into your shoes is enough to end your day. Prevent it with boots and/or gaiters (even if you look dorky).

What other tricks do you use to extend your season? Share them in the comments!

How YOU Can Achieve 5.12 Glory

Last January I set a goal: to redpoint 20 new 5.12s by 2012.  Have you ever set specific climbing goals with a deadline?  If not, grab a pen and start thinking – its amazing what you can do if you just write it down, and give it a time-frame.  YOU can redpoint 20 5.12s in the year 2012.  I promise.  If you’ve never done something like this, you’ll have to adjust how you think about a day of cragging.  This is a different game, and you need a different strategy.  Here are some tips to reach 5.12 glory:

1. Don’t believe yourself.  If you’re like I was, you’re thinking, “there is no way I can pull this off.”  Well, consider believing me anyway.  I rarely climbed harder than 11- a year ago, and in the past 10 months I’ve sent 32  5.12’s.  5.12 is such a great grade, because it’s really hard, but it’s also really attainable for most people with a bit of effort.  Also, you can tailor this goal to yourself – there is a big difference between 12a and 12d.

2. Start small.  Find a couple low-end 12’s that fit your strengths to gain some momentum for the journey ahead.  Short routes, with short cruxes are ideal to convince yourself you can actually climb 5.12.  Send a couple of these, and you’ll have the strength and confidence to start eyeing longer, more sustained lines. 

3. Climb for quality – climb for redpoints.  The goal is measured by numbers, but it’s about self-improvement and fun.  Don’t waste your time chasing numbers on crappy pitches – find high quality lines that you are excited to spend some time on, and make multiple attempts in the same day.  You’ll be surprised what you can send in two tries, as opposed to onsighting.  Note that, if you fall on an onsight attempt, its helps a lot to go ahead and finish the route, so you know what to expect on the redpoint.  Sport routes will probably make up the bulk of your list, but I encourage you to climb routes that attract you, whether they are protected by gear, bolts, or both.

4. Rest.  Proper rest is essential between redpoint burns.  Don’t expect to climb the same quantity of routes in a day as you used to.  Remember – you’re using a different strategy.  One of my favorite resting techniques is to nap in a “sending hammock.”  These hammocks look just like any other, but they are actually a cocoon of muscle repairing goodness that will carry you to glory.  In any case, don’t rush it.  Rest up, and send hard.

Hopefully, this is enough to get you psyched on some goal.  Tweak it, double it, make it your own.  Get your partner(s) stoked on a goal of his/her own and pursue them together.  If you expect this goal to be your biggest achievement in climbing, just wait until redpoint 18 or so – you’ll realize this was just training, and now you’re really ready to get out there and blow the top off your self-expectations.  And keep in mind – 20 .13’s in 2013 is pretty catchy, too…


Drum-roll, please!!! 

The winners of the Trango, Rocktoberfest 2011 raffle are:

 1st Prize: BetaStick Compact stick-clip – Liam Dillon

Grand Prize: 10 Smooth Quickdraws – Christine Emmerton

 What a great weekend!  Thanks to everyone who came out to enjoy the great weather and contribute to a really important cause.  For those of you who don’t know, the Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition (RRGCC) puts on Rocktoberfest every year to raise money to pay the mortgage on the Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve (PMRP), which is home to hundreds of routes at iconic crags such as the Motherload.  As climbers, it is a special privilege to have control of the access to the rock we hold so dear.  The final payment on the land is due in 2013 – we are so close!

 This was my first time at an event like this, and it went extremely well.  There was so much psyche in the Trango booth that I could hardly keep up.  Brad and Kelsey came out to support Trango, and we couldn’t have done it without them!  Between talking with participants, running around to hardware stores, and sending some hard routes, they had their hands full! 

 The evenings were filled with events like the dyno comp, live music, climbing movies and slideshows, and crate stacking.  Crate stacking is a game in which you stack milk crates as high as you can while climbing up the tiny column of plastic until it topples over.  A handful of participants made it over 20 crates, getting pretty close to the crane that was belaying them!

 We did some demos at the Boneyard inMuirValleyon Saturday, which was a fun process.  I mean, who wouldn’t enjoy hanging out at a crag talking shop about Trango’s awesome climbing gear?  What products got the most attention, you ask?  The BetaStick Compact stick clip is relatively new, and people were always amazed at how long it becomes from such a short, lightweight, and easily packable size.  The head on the BetaStick holds the carabiner at an angle that makes snagging that first (or second or third) bolt a breeze.  The Cinch was also a big hit.  The Cinch gives the smoothest feed for lead belaying of any other belay device because it allows the rope to travel through in  a straight line, whereas other devices always have a bend in the rope.  This auto-assisted locking device is invaluable, especially while pushing yourself on some of the best sport climbing in theUS(The Red!).

 People were also stoked on the Smooth Quickdraws.  (*Checkout the video on our new homepage!) Two words sum up these draws: tough and light.  I have never used such a lightweight, high performance sport climbing draw.  Most “light” draws have skinny little dogbones and wiregates to cut weight, but the Smooths are able to keep the weight to a minimum and still have all the features you look for in a primo sport draw: notchless gates on full-size carabiners, strong spring action, and a beefy nylon dogbone, tapered at each end.  And for a limited time, there’s one more word to sum up these draws: SALE!  Check out the 5-packs on our special offers page to save almost 40%!

 Thanks again to all the participants who made the event a success!  I can’t wait to see you all again next year at Rocktoberfest 2012! 

 Keep sending,

Adam Sanders

Day 3

Day 3 at Smith Rock was a good one. I feel like I’m starting to get the feel of things – sending Cool Ranch or something like that (5.11a) which felt easy and sending “Blue Light Special” (5.11b) second go (first go was onsite and the beta was totally jacked, but once I got the beta, it was easy.)

I did a burn up “Liquid Jade” (5.12b). It confirmed my suspicion that 5.12 at smith is easier than 5.11…It was hard of course and I didn’t do it, but still…

Day 4 was today and we took a rest day. We decided to go for a big long hike – which ended up going up one side of the mountain, over the other. It was rough dude! I’m hoping to have a good climbing day tomorrow, maybe try “Latest Rage” – which is a life goal of mine. We shall see.

My initial evaluation of Smith Rock is “Come back to this place for 2+ weeks next time.) Its awesome. The towns are nice, the camping is good (though the showers are luke-warm at best.)

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