Sunday, May 04, 2008

Phoenix Sit Start

I remember my first trip to Earthquake Hollow about six years ago. I think Fischer and I went out there when it was pretty chilly. I recall sending the tall Prow V0 and Water Dyno V2, which is still one of my favorites. He showed me Phoenix V5 with a certain reverence. This was the area testpiece. He indicated that the sit start was basically impossible.
Now Phoenix itself took me about three years of work. I kept getting to the top and trying to gaston really hard on the diagonal sloping crimp, but then I finally figured out that I ust needed to pull straight down... Anyway, the sit start was supposed to be about V9, and I remember jokingly trying it on almost every visit to the area. I would fondle the holds, pull up for a second, then have a sore leg for about three days. Eventually, I had climbed just about everything there that I wanted to, and stopped going there regularly.
This January, I sent Daily Dick Dose V7 down in Hueco. When I came back to Earthquake, I realized that the opening move could be done with a similar hip position, except with a high right foot instead of a high left foot. I stuck the first two moves pretty easily and got really excited. Over the next three months, I went out there every chance I got. Then on Saturday, April 26th, it finally went.
The night before, I watched John Henry play at the Blue Note to a sold out crowd. It was wonderful, but it still hurt to see that part of my life over. I went back to Uprise Bakery where a bunch of my friends were gathered and cried in the bathroom. That night I dreamt of Ben Williams, who was my climbing mentor. He taught me how to lead gear and was the belayer for many of my hardest sends: first 11a (on his birthday), first 11b, first gear lead, first gear 10, etc... I hadn't spoken to him in a year or two. The next day, I remember going out with Tuesday, and having her drive. She only has her permit, so it was her first time on the interstate. She did well of course.
We were joined by Elijah, Trent, Becky and Samar. I did really well at first, with twenty minutes of ab quivering rest between attempts, but then I started to do worse and worse. After I decided to quit, Trent said he'd give one more try for Phoenix. He sent. When he came down, he said, "Send Train!" I jokingly mumbled, "That window's open buddy, just gotta jump on through..." like a burnout hippie. The problem starts with two bad crimps and a high right foot. You throw out right to a sloping pinch/sidepull, then bump to a tiny two-finger, quarter-inch layback crimp. Next, you get a left heel hook and cross your left hand above your right. Here is where I always barn-door and fall off. Right as I was falling off, I heard everyone shouting, "You got it!" I reflected to myself that they clearly had no idea, as I didn't "have it", was in fact falling off, and would probably have a better chance if they were to give me some quiet. About the time that I completed this thought, I realized that I had stopped the swing, turned my heel into a toe, and caught the crux right hand toss into the stand start holds. Then I climbed the upper half easily and collapsed at the top. Samar saw me rolling in the dirt, nearly crying with joy. I ran down and hugged Trent and slapped high fives with everyone.
Since then I have been invited to give a talk at CUNY in New York City on the recent math stuff that I've been working on with my advisor, Alex Iosevich, to train to be a volunteer guide down in Hueco, and gotten two buddies to go to Joe's Valley in Utah next week! I'm excited to go to New York, because Laura and I can go to some sweet vegan restaurants, and the conference should be a good career builder for me. The other two things are exciting for obvious reasons.
I really don't know what the grade should be for Phoenix Sit Start. I've climbed several V7's before in different areas, but this took a whole lot more effort than any of those. The guidebooks call it V7, but I don't think that either of the authors has actually climbed it. I'm sure that it's not harder than V9 though, as I've come close to some V8's and V9's, but never to any V10's. The grade isn't that important to me though, because the fact that I did something that I thought was impossible is so much more rewarding than any number.

Here's an Earthquake Hollow video.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Hueco Tanks Spring Break '08

Tuesday, Justin and I had a few days to jump back down to Hueco during Spring Break. Since Tuesday STILL doesn't have a driver's license, Justin and I had share the 22 hour drive, all night. Then we rolled up to the gate around 8am and walked on to North Mountain! So, here's what Tuesday did...

Crimpy start to B Flat (V4)

Nobody Gets Out Of Here Alive (V2)

... and here's what Justin and I did...


The day was actually really productive. Tuesday and Justin sent their first V3 in the Park, suedo Right. I got Psuedo Feather Left (V4), which had given me trouble on our last trip. Justin also onsighted Nobody Getes Out Of Here Alive, which was really fun to watch. We also romped around and showed Justin various potential projects. I thought Justin might like Girls of Texas (V5). It was short and crimpy, and since I had gotten it second go a few years ago, I was excited to see how Justin would do on it. He was close but couldn't quite latch the crux hold.

On day two, we were all REALLY tired and pretty much just loafed around New Meadow. The next day was a rest day... KRISTOFF'S COFFEE!

Then we went on a tour to East. I finally got Warm Up Roof (V4). I had previously thought it was so hard for a V4, but then I realized that I had been trying the V7 variation. I almost got Crispy Critters (V8) on my second go, but then I missed the big slopey jug by just a little bit and managed to find a sharp little spike. I came down and was getting ready for another attempt, but I smelled blood. Of course the sharp little spike took a pea-sized chunk out of my fore-finger. Awesome: peace out slopers!
We went on down to Hobbit area. I got back on Hector in a Blender (V7), and was sticking all the moves pretty easily. It took me quite a few painful goes, but it felt so easy when I finally topped it out. After that we rolled on over to the Dragonfly area. I sent that thing once a coupla years ago, but it's so pumpy for me! I haven't gotten up it since. I did onsight Rembrandt Pussyhorse (V4), with my Butthole Surfers shirt of course. Justin sent it too. We both felt like it was a pretty soft grade for the climb. While we were there, our guide Andy Klier saw some guys over by the Aircraft Carrier and Wanda went out to get them. They weren't climbers, so we don't know what we were doing there.

We finished the trip with one last day on North. I got soooo close to Pumped Full of Semen (V9) again. I pulled up to the V1-ish top out and dropped off TWICE. If only I had moved my foot! Since I had thrown so many times on Hector the day before, I was running low on skin for sharp crimpers, so I didn't have many goes in me:( We were debating about whether or not to leave, when Justin expressed interest in Girls of Texas. We went back over there and he sent it first try of the day. So we ended on a happy note. We ran into Rob at the bottom of the chains on the way out, which was nice, since he's moving back to Arkansas and won't be around the Tanks as often. We packed up the car and drove all night to get home.

After driving 17 of the 22 hours, and sleeping for maybe 2, (again), I got ahold of my girlfriend Laura. She cooked me an AMAZING vegan welcome home dinner.

Okay, so we took the picture before I left. I looked way worse when I got back. Here's the link to the video.

Spring Break '08

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Hueco Tanks Winter Break '08

So I was in a band pretty much full time (John Henry and the Engine), but they gave me ten days off to get down to El Paso and destroy my body. I went with my roomate Tuesday and our friend Duncan.

This trip was really important to me. While I was down there, I realized that as much as I loved the dudes in my band, I really didn't have time for it anymore, and they needed a more professional bass player anyway. I could play everything just fine, but all the out of town shows we were playing didn't really allow me to get much fruitful math research done. So it was a good parting of ways. Their CD release party is in a few days. I'm glad to have been a part of it.

So a few tidbits... I almost sent Hi Pro Glow(V6), but I dropped off of the penultimate jug due to fatigue. I also got pretty close on Pumped Full of Semen(V9). My big sends for the trip were Brutus(V5), and Daily Dick Dose(V7). I resent Lobster Claws(V5) really easily, which made me feel pretty good. It was my first V5 a few years ago, and it was really hard back then, but this trip it was pretty easy.

Duncan sent Hobbit in a Blender(V5) and Wiccicala Cave(V5), the latter of which was a long-standing project for him. Tuesday sent Nobody Gets Out Of Here Alive(V2), which was her trip project, and my favorite thing in the whole universe.

We also went to the Mushroom Boulder Closure informational meeting, and learned a lot about Park policies on closures. Duncan and I bought some local art at Kristoff's Coffee shop (which is the bomb for a rest day!) and somehow managed to watch "Game Plan" starring The Rock at the Montwood dollar theater. If I remember anything else, I'll let you know.

There are two videos on youtube:

Short Video
Long Video

The shorter one has music that I made for the soundtrack, but the longer video has Dragonforce and Tom Waits.

What am I?

Hey there! I've been putting up bouldering vlogs on youtube for a while now, and I figured it was time to get to some explanations of what's going on out there. I'll occasionally pepper in some stuff about music and mathematics, which are my other major time fillers. Here's an OLD video with some silly Southern Illinois and Horse Pens bouldering. The HP40 stuff is Moms (V2) onsight, Swirly (V4) onsight, Beach (V4) flash, and Green Lantern (V4) onsight.

Not on the video:

Hammerhead (V5) I was close to sending it, and had pretty much given up. It was painful and not much fun at that point. But then Nancy, my then girlfriend, sent it... So of course I got it next go. No matter how much I try to not be competetive, it just happens.

Wasteland (V5) This was rated V7 when I sent it, but it really didn't feel hard at all. I got it third try. I think it's cuz I'm tall. What's rad is how bad the slopers look on the lip, but how good they feel.

I also sent Crisifix (V4), which was then rated V5. It also felt soft for the grade. I typically think downgrading stems from egos, but in both of these cases, I felt like the new grades are more accurate.

The music is of course, poopdeth. Sorry for the bad quality. We recorded in my basement.

Old Video