Thursday, April 21, 2011

Three days on the front range

I have been keeping pretty busy during my down-time from climbing. Getting out and having fun in the mountains in ways that don't require pulling on rock.

Day 1: The Monastery, near RMNP.

I went with some friends to the Monastery to hang out. The Monastery is one of the coolest (mostly) sport climbing areas on the front range. It doesn't see a lot of attention perhaps because of the fairly long hike, but there are some amazing routes there! Anyone that likes to climb on ropes and hasn't been there is missing out.

Jeff Giddings climbing Contortionist's Forte 5.11c (mixed)

Dusty Ross working The Quickening 5.13c

Day 2: Gray Rock, Poudre Canyon.

Gray Rock is an obvious choice for a hike near Fort Collins. It's so close, just a little ways up the Poudre Canyon. Mike Engelstad, Karma and myself got up early on a windy day, and made our way to the summit.

Gray Rock getting into view from the trail.

Another view from the trail.

Mike climbing on the meadow boulder.

Me on top!

Photo Mike Engelstad

Day 3: Fern Lake, RMNP

There are a number of places I want to hike to around on the front range to see if there might be some good boulders to climb on. Fern Lake was on the list because the rock along the trail (Rock of Ages / Both Sides of the Spectrum) is so good. I thought, if there were more at Fern/Cub lakes it might be worth the long hike.

So when deciding where to go skiing, Fern Lake trail head seemed like a decent enough choice. Again with Mike, we got some skies and skins and started on our way. In the end, we didn't see enough boulers to make me want to go back, but we did have an amazing time skiing! The trail itself was a mix of hiking at lower elevation, and then skiing when the trail turned to snow up high.

After arriving, we made our way across Fern Lake to check out a couloir on the nearby mountain.

Mike skiing across the snow covered Fern Lake.

The couloir looked promising, so we slowly hiked our way up. After getting pretty far and starting to run out of snow, we stopped and converted our skis to downhill mode. We then made our decent which was definitely the highlight of the day.

Mike taking off down the mountain.

Mike carefully navigating between the trees and scree.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Pre-Injury Joe's Recap

When I first got to Joe's this spring there wern't too many people, but my friend Enzo Nahumury was there already.

Enzo and I crossed the stream to go clean snow off of Moment of Truth. On the way back we found that the ice we walked over on had broken and fallen into the river. Jumping was the best option.

Photo Enzo Nahumury

Enzo demonstrating how to gather firewood.

I started working on Black Lung right away, and other projects and climbs I hadn't yet done in Joe's.

Working Black Lung, before the finger decided otherwise.

Photo Ivelin Penchev

I did manage some of the climbs on my list for the spring. I did Jitterbug Perfume v10 quickly, after climbing to the lip 3 times last winter and backing off due to an icy top-out. I climbed Bowling Ball v4 for the first time. It was amazing! I also climbed Eden v10 while Alex Savage was there filming. He didn't think he would use the footage, so he gave it to me to post.


Eden from Paul Nadler on Vimeo.

Most people find the crux of Eden to be this half one-arm pull off a hard to figure out how to hold split finger crimpy thing. I however, couldn't manage to stick the "easier" big move to the split finger. Coming close with beta that my friend Criag Berman was using, I decided to focus on his method. After eventually sticking the big move, I immediately realized I wanted my foot higher. I put my foot in the big pod, my hand slipped, but I managed to hold on. I was then able to lock off to the hold people usually jump to. It worked for me, but I don't know if it would be good beta for many others.

Alex getting way up into a tree, attempting to get the best angle at Trent's Mom.

Tom Camillieri going into the crack on Trent's Mom ;)

After hurting my finger, I was considering staying a few days and hiking around, but Joe's had other plans. We woke to a camp covered with a couple inches of snow.

John waking up to a surprise!

Karma not being opposed to the situation.

Ivelin enthusiastically taking a photo?

The Denver crew managed to get get some things dry and have a good climbing day. The hiking situation still seemed bleak, so I made my way back to the front range.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Another Finger Injury

Photo Ivelin Penchev.

Well, I hurt my finger again. Another ring finger pulley, but the other hand this time. This one feels less severe than the last one, so that should mean a faster recovery. The picture above was actually from an earlier attempt, after grating my hand into the rock while popping off unexpectedly.

I was trying to climb Black Lung in Joe's Valley. I felt pretty close in the winter using the standard beta, but it was feeling hard that way this spring mostly due to the strain it was putting on some muscles that were already bothering me. I decided to play with beta again before refocusing on other things. I tried a method, not one I had come up with, but one I had played around with in the past. Basically, you go all the way from the intermediate, replacing the match with a easier move, but perhaps making the last move more difficult. Right away this started to get me close, coming off the last pocket, but not yet with enough control to hold it.

I had also tried a little with Jason's method, doing the first move and jumping out to the sloper. I hadn't had much luck that way, and partly I just wanted to climb the direct line. I realized though, with the beta I was using it might not be so bad to go out to that hold instead. The difficulty I had before was trying to jump to that hold from low hands, but from the intermediate it didn't seem so bad.

I decided to put a session in using this variation of Jason's method, and if that went well, perhaps do the direct version also. I felt good, but was making some mistakes on the early moves. Eventually getting past that, I started giving some good efforts and thought I might do it. I decided to give a last good effort. I tried a little harder, probably went a little too dynamically since I actually overshot the hold a bit. Simultaneously I hit the sloper and felt a familiar pop in my left ring finger. I remember thinking for a moment that if I could just hold on maybe I could finish the climb, but my right hand was already sliding off the sloper.

Next thing I knew I was back on the ground. Fuck!

Video of the injury go from Ivelin Penchev. You can't really see or hear anything though.

My plan was to be back on the front range for work April 18th, but being unable to climb I decided to come back a few weeks early. I'm resisting climbing, even easy stuff for now, but soon ill start the rehab process. The truth is, I can probably use a few weeks completely off from climbing. I think the last time I took more than a week off was the last time I hurt a finger, about a year and a half ago. Not climbing for a few weeks should be good for the finger, as well as all the little things that hurt, but haven't been bad enough to force real rest.

In the mean time, I'm doing some cross training with my friend Mike who is also injured. We've been running and doing various exercise to improve overall fitness. If all goes as planned, I'll come back to climbing in better shape than ever! I don't know why I always get really motivated when I get hurt, but I guess it's better than the other way around.

However, training isn't really taking up all my time, and I don't start work for another couple of weeks, so I have some extra time with which to occupy myself. One of my favorite rest activities is hiking around looking for new boulders, but it's so costly, driving around all the time, specially with the high gas prices. Obviously I haven't been spending all that time updating my blog, but I have been doing something productive. I been taking the opportunity to learn how to write apps for smartphones. Specifically phones that run Android, since Android uses Java and I like coding in Java. I'm hoping I might be able to generate a moderate income to supplement what I am doing now. All I need are some ideas for some useful software. I guess thats the hard part.