climber

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. 

[READ MORE BELOW THE BREAK]

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

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.)

Smith Rock

Smith Rock is totally rad. I’m getting my butt kicked here. But the climbing is totally rad! The hike is sort of rough. You have to walk up this steep hill at the end of the day, but other than the hill at the end, the hike is flat and easy.

We started out by climbing some of the “easier” moderates – mostly routes on the “Morning Glory” wall. We did “9 Gallon Buckets” 5.10c, and then I tried “Cool Ranch Flavor” 5.11a twice and could not do it (though I did it both times off the hang.) I did “Light on the Path” 5.10a as well.

I did a beta burn on “Chain Reaction” 5.12c and realized that I would not be able to do that one and that was the end of our first day.

Day 2 was not a bad day. The weather was varied “again,” but it was mostly good weather, though we did have to wait for about 20 minutes for a rain storm. I did a handful of moderates, once again, on the Morning Glory Wall including: “The Outsiders” 5.9, “Five Gallon Buckets” 5.8, and “Morning Sky” 5.10c. I tried but failed miserably to onsite “Zebra Seam” 5.11d. I fell at the third bolt (first crux), but managed to do all the rest of the moves off the hang first try (I bolt-to-bolted it.) I couldn’t imagine doing that thing on gear!

And that was pretty much day 2. Today is suppose to be the nicest of the days so far – 50 and sunny. We woke up to snow on the tent and on the ground, went into Redmond for breakfast and are now chilling at “Redpoint” Climbers Supply which is totally awesome.

L.R.C aka Stone Fort

We headed down to Chattanooga this weekend, for a PERRRFECT bouldering weekend!!

Both days, we spent at LRC, though the first day for me was the only productive day of bouldering for me – I did manage to beat the snot out of myself however. The dieting and running have paid off for me – with some good beta, I managed to send “The Wave” (V6) – and when I did it, it actually felt quite easy. I almost blew the top-out, but groveled my way through it.


I did a handful of other problems, mostly repeats, including Mystery Groove (which felt easier than ever), Tri-star and Dragon Lady (all three V4.) I repeated “The Big Much” (V4) which is more like a V2 or V3. Also, I managed to send a project of mine from the last trip – Mother Thrutch (V4), and almost did the Sit-start at V5 – I’m going to try to send this next trip.

I managed to second try the V6 finish to Super Mario, but could not do the V4 crux…this will be a project that I’d like to try fresh next trip – I think that I can do it – assuming that I CAN do the V4 section!! (The extension is about V2 or V3 with the pump from the normal start… – sort of like a route which is a strength for me.)


I put several burn in on “A Face in the Crowd” (V7) which didn’t go as well for me, though I may consider projecting that one as well.

Climb Gym




Since there was snow on the ground in the deep south, I headed North for a 3 day gym trip including Pittsburgh (Climb North) and Columbus (both gyms there.)

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