Ticking Off a Few from the List

Leading BOG Man, 5.10c, Ship Rock
Photo, Zach Lesch-Huie

In the last couple of weeks I've been getting out a good bit to do some rope climbing here in the High Country. I've been totally psyched because my left shoulder keeps feeling better and better even as I push it on the grades a little more each week. That's not to say my shoulders are perfect (now the right one is more tweaky)--after trying Unwritten Law (5.12c) a few weeks back, I couldn't climb for a week. But since then I've been back to the Dump, Ship Rock, and Sunken Treasure and I've been hitting some of the things on my tick list. At Ship, I sent BOG Man (10c trad) and The Anguish of Captain Bligh (5.11b trad, I think) in one awesome day. At the Dump, I just climbed Fry Cleaned (11d sport) this weekend, and The Stain (11c sport) at Sunken Treasure. I feel like I can probably bump it up into the 12a range on sport climbs now, and keep trying trad in the low 5.11 range. So I'm psyched for the rest of the summer! Just gotta keep the ice packs frozen and the Ibuprofen ready for when I get home...



Slowly Getting Better

Leading Harpoon (5.10) at Ship Rock.
Photo, Matt de Camara.
While I've been putting a lot of time and all of my recent posts up on Cruxn, it's nice to come back to the personal blog for things that the greater masses don't want to hear about or don't care much about. Like my ongoing battles with injuries. Which is what this post is about--because, for the first time in almost 2 years, I'm finally starting to feel stronger and (somewhat) injury free again.

In the last few months, I've climbed a bunch of V4s (including a few flashes at this grade), a V5, 5.10 trad leads, a few sport 5.11s, and yesterday tried the Dump classic Unwritten Law (5.12 b/c). Sure, I haven't latched the big dyno yet that accounts for the hard grade (wasn't quite ready to commit to the tendon-stressing latch of the jug), but I was happy just to make it up to the crux on my first attempt without falling or feeling tweaked. None of this is anywhere close to where my climbing high point was years back before suffering a bunch of various injuries, but seeing as how I was climbing V0s last summer and wistfully looking at 5.10 climbs and thinking, "maybe one day..." these recent successes feel pretty damn good. Now I can finally look at guidebooks, read about a classic 5.11 or 5.12 and think, hey, I can at least get on that now without ripping my shoulder off.

So now I've got a bunch of things I want to try here in the High Country. At Ship, I'd love to lead B.O.G. Man soon, try my luck on Castaway (5.12) and eventually lead the Broach (11d trad), once I get some endurance (and balls). At the Dump, I want to finish Unwritten Law, and try Fry-Cleaned (11d), Black Jackets (12a) and Last Glitch Effort (12a). And of course, I'd love to start trying for the Linville Crusher if Matt de Camara can be pulled away from his hedonistic life in SC and come up here to give it a go with me. :)

I'm not sure if it's the summer season or the fear of tweakin', but I haven't been as psyched on bouldering lately as I have been in the past. It feels like I can get a lot more satisfaction out of trying new routes with a lot less tweak than bouldering for a full day. We'll see if I'm still feeling that way this fall when the temps start dropping though! Til then, I'll be psyched to keep gaining new ground on the sharp end.



Cruxn Away

We've been hard at work on Cruxn.com this month and I feel like it's starting to gain some traction. It's really exciting stuff to see that people get benefits of the concept and are responding positively. The downside is I've been ignoring this site. But it's not forgotten, just on the back burner for the moment.

You can find my new Cruxn.com posts at this address: cruxn.com/author/mattpaden/

Or just head on over to the Cruxn.com home page for all kinds of good stuff from a bunch of different folks.



Cruxn.com--It's Alive!

Well, the cat's pretty much out of the bag on the new website we've been working on, Cruxn.com, so I'm going to go ahead and post about it. Thanks to everybody who's checked it out already!

Cruxn.com has been a collaborative effort with Matt de Camara and Zachary Lesch-Huie. We wanted to come up with a better way for climbing bloggers to pool together and increase readership and community. We found it gets kinda lonely blogging out there solo.

So check out the site and let us know what you think. We encourage anyone who is blogging now or wants to blog about climbing to join us on Cruxn. There are no rules for how much you post, and you can keep on bloggin' on yer own blog. We're just trying to increase each blogger's awareness and make a central place for everyone to get together, which increases the amount of conversation. So far, it's been really fun and we're psyched on the response we've been hearing.

For more info, check out the about page at http://cruxn.com/about/



Almost Done with the New Web Project

At the moment I kind of feel like a bad parent who is ignoring the oldest child (this blog) to take care of the new kid (my latest climbing website project). Just wanted to throw a quick note out there that the new site is just about to "soft launch" in the next week and I'll be posting a link and information about it here.

Also, I recently discovered the similarity between the site's old logo and a game called half life. Oops. So I had to come up with a new logo design:

Check back in the next week for more info!



New Web Project in the Works

Yeah, it's true, I've only posted like one time this month. Weak sauce, right? Well, at least I've got a decent excuse. Me and a couple of climbing pals are working on a new website project we're really excited about, and it's been taking what little free time I have after my days and nights of grad school misadventures. What's the new project? I can't say quite yet cuz it's still in the developing stages (but that's a fuzzy logo teaser to the left) and no one wants to see a project that's half done--it's like seeing yer grandma half naked before she puts on her makeup and girdle and puts in her teeth in the morning. But I'll be dropping info here soon, hopefully by next month.



What Happened to the Bouldering Circuit?

Yeah, what happened to the bouldering circuit? Nowadays, the mighty 'project' reigns supreme. Projects, projects, projects. It's one of the most common words you'll hear out in the boulder field or at the crag. "Did you do your project man?" Singular feats of peak performance have trumped the ensemble experience.

I've tried to think of an analogy from another outdoor sport. The emphasis in climbing on projects and difficulty reminds me a bit of the emphasis--and marketability--on single, super-difficult tricks in skateboarding or snowboarding. That stuff does seem to sell, that's for sure.

In the French birthplace of bouldering, a circuit of boulder problems is such a common tradition that they're physically coded and marked on the boulders themselves. Visit Fontainbleau and you can't miss them: they're painted in vivid color with arrows pointing up. Depending on the color, you'll find an appropriate circuit for kids, hard men and women, and all levels between. Just pick a color and follow the arrows. If you're lucky, follow a local too.

I was in Font once, bouldering in a spot which roughly translates to 'Valley of the Dog.' It's a flat, sandy expanse littered with perfect boulders and home to the famous roof problem, Le Toit du Cul de Chien, a French version of Blowing Rock's Roof of Death. I had the chance to follow an unassuming Frenchman on a red arrow circuit. Over a few hours, we went from boulder to boulder, linking red arrow problems in a continuous flow. True to form, he kindly pointed out flaws in my beta, which I must admit now was really a great help. I didn't send the hardest thing I'd ever done, but that wasn't the point. Climbing uninterrupted wore me out, and left me with a great feeling: the simple satisfaction of moving over stone for an extended period of time.

Now, I know circuits aren't totally dead, and that a few climbers still nurture and practice their favorite local link-ups. Tom Moulin's recent guidebook for Red Rocks bouldering actually goes as far as describing a whole handful of bouldering circuits for different areas. It would be neat to see more guides in the states do this, but cool and unique as it is, collectively shared circuits are the exception. No one really talks about circuits anymore, and for a more recent generation of climbers, it seems like the idea is either forgotten or meaningless.

Ironically, while running a good circuit is easily more fun that flailing and falling on a pad all day, the truth is doing circuits builds a fantastic training base for taking it to the next level on that one, single hard-for-you climb, i.e., your precious project. For those who remain fixated on performance, and uninterested in this pitch for a flowing hippy trip through the boulders, keep that in mind.

Maybe I'm way off though and there's pent-up love for the circuit out there. Care to tell your favorite circuit spot? Mine's the Long Wall at Grandmother.

Zachary Lesch-Huie



New Year's Eve at Rumbling Bald

Seeing as how there's almost a foot of snow on the ground here in Boone today, I'm feeling pretty lucky that we got out last week on New Year's Eve for a trip to RB. There was a big crew of folks in the parking lot and it was good to catch up with some folks from Asheville i haven't seen in months. We started the day warming up on the West Side at the Gateway boulders, moved on to Shady Grove, and then headed west to the "new" Hanging Chain boulders with Matt B, Brad C and George from SC, and a fella whose name I already forgot (Adam, maybe?) because I have early onset Alzheimers (sorry, dude!).

I had never been here before so I was curious to check 'em out. We hit just one area that had a few moderates and one great looking V6 called "The Butch Seamstress." One of the best lines there was a V3 up a crimp rail that pimped out to a jug, and then the top of the boulder. It was fun climbing someplace without a lot of chalk--it definitely required sussing the problems out. It was also a nice way to get far from the crowds that were there that day. If you've never been, these boulders are worth at least 1 visit, especially on a crowded day.

We then went back to the West side and finished the day hitting a bunch of stuff from the Bart Simpson Boulder to Classic Overhang (V3) to The Crescent (V1 highball). I love ending the day by getting in a lot of mileage like that. Here are some pics from the day:

And here's a video of that fun V3 at the Hanging Chain Boulders:



The Rest of the Trip

I've learned that you have to be somewhat philosophical about climbing roadtrips in the SE in the wintertime. Really, if you get in a few good days, yous should be content, even if you were planning on a solid week of climbing. The weather can change so damn fast and there's a small margin between just-right temps and it being too damn cold. You can probably see what I'm leading up to. We had planned on a weeklong trip to hit up Chattanooga and HP40. I had dreams of climbing at LRC/Stone Fort, the T Wall, then heading south to HP40. By the end of the week we had gotten two days of climbing in at LRC thanks to rain, and then finally, snow.

But the 2 days we got at LRC were pretty sweet--that place is just so much fun, especially if you've only been once before as I have. There's just a ton of classics to explore. Which is what I focused on during our second day. Since my shoulder was a bit sore from bouldering a couple of days before, I decided to climb as many V3 and under classics as possible. I probably climbed about 20 or more lines. Some of the best were Mouse Trap (V2), a fun little finger crack, and Oracle (from the stand start (V3). So even though we didn't get in nearly as much climbing as I had hoped, it wasn't a total wash. There are a few pics in the slideshow below, but we didn't shoot too much on either day. We were so focused on exploring and climbing we pretty much forgot about the camera. Hope everyone else was able to get out over the holidays.

PS: I'm trying a new slideshow creator out for the first time on this post; we'll see if it's any good.

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer



One day at Little Rock City

This is gonna be a short post cuz I'm writing from my phone. And my hand gets numb from writing on this tiny keypad after about 20 seconds.

But we got one great day in at lrc on Monday. The weather was perfect and the shoulder is really on the mend I think: I climbed 2 v4s and a few v3s. This is a big improvement over the summer when I was doing v0s. The best climb I did was called mystery groove I think. It was a wild v4 up a pinch/sloper spine of rock.

The bad news is the weather has turned to shite. We couldn't climb at all yesterday and today everything is soaked. But we're keeping our fingers for tomorrow. More updates to come soon, weather permittin'.
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South Bound

Finally, the semester is over, as is the requisite week break to chill out and come down from all of the stress. But after a week of sitting around in the snow in Boone, it's time to hit the road. Me and Melissa are going to Chattanooga and maybe HP40 for the next few days before Christmas. Finally, we're getting some climbing in. I'll be posting from the road at various times. The weather is looking sweet! I haven't been to either place in 2 years now, so this should be a great time.

In other news, I just turned on a mobile version of this site, so it should be easier to read on phones and whatnot.



Best of Andrew Kornylak's Beta Series?

The Triple Crown Bouldering Series has come and gone and along with it, Andrew Kornylak's excellent promotional Beta Series. That series' final installment seems to have flown under the radar, but in some ways, it's the best one. Kornylak even said as much at the last Triple Crown event in Chattanooga. Filmed at Stone Fort/Little Rock City, it's called "Long Ways Down." Take a look, and see if this kid doesn't inspire you.