Monday, November 30, 2009

Back From the Red! Great Success!

After a "red eye" drive back from the Red River Gorge Saturday night into Sunday, I find myself back at work. Our week long trip went by fast as usual I find myself wishing I could have stayed another 2 w
eeks. Despite the shortness of our trip I am really pleased with how the trip went. We stuck to a 2 day on, 1 day off schedule which meant 5 climbing days.

On our first couple of days our crew headed to Left Flank where my friend Brian and I got on the beautiful Table of Colors .13a. This route breaks down into a steep 5.11 to a rest, to about a 13 move V5/6 to some tricky and pumpy 5.12 moves to the top. On our second day Brian almost sent on his warm-up! I chose to warm-up more properly and sent on my first redpoint go. This route is mega-classic and highly recommended!

Pat on Table of Colors .13a

I should mention how impressed I was with the cabin that we rented at Lago Linda's. For the 6 of us it cost $550 which is pretty cheap for a week long trip. The cabin came fully equipped pots, plates, towels, shower, a really nice heater, and plenty of beds to sleep in. Here are some pics...

On Wednesday and Thursday we warmed up at the Drive-By Crag on some of the incredible .12a's there and then headed over to Bob Marley Crag to check out No Redemption .13b This route is an amazing line that is pretty atypical of the Red being no too steep and having some pretty bad holds. The crux involved a big move to a slopey left hand crimp that took my quite a few tries to do. Brian and I headed back there Thursday when he fell off a ways above the crux. The route was was definitely not going to go down easy.

On Saturday I had still not done the crux from the ground and was actually falling of the easier moves going into the crux. After a fall from the easier intro moves, I pulled the rope and immediately headed back up.
Finding myself at the crux move I set up and hit the slopey crux crimp (pictured at left) for the first time from the ground, set up my feet and threw to the flat rest hold. Somehow I held on for the rest of the way and next thing I knew I was clipping the chains! Brian followed it with a send as well and then we both flashed the incredible .12a Dog Leg which has some of the most fun moves I've experienced on a route.

I'll write more about this in a later post but I was really psyched with how my interval training payed off down there. Granted I was not trying
the enduro routes in the Madness Cave but I felt like I could recover well on most good holds between cruxes which is key down there.

Here are some more pics...

Vasya sending Kaleidoscope .13c 2nd go

Sending No Redemption .13b

Naomi on Breakfast Burrito .10c

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Red River Gorge Training

Training for the Red

Aerobic vs. Anaerobic

Over the last 4-5 weeks I’ve been following a plan to prepare for a week long trip to the Red River Gorge in Kentucky. For those of you unfamiliar with the Red, the climbing is most often characterized by monstrous endurance and resistance routes.

Jonathan Siegrist on his recent sendfest in the Red

Climbers who perform at a high level in the Red possess an amazing balance of aerobic and anaerobic fitness. Below I share a quick explanation of the difference between aerobic and anaerobic as well as sharing the plan I’ve been following for the past several weeks. We’ll see how it goes!

A quick explanation of aerobic and anaerobic energy production...

Aerobic: This is the body’s most efficient energy production mode and can be sustained indefinitely because the body is able to use oxygen in the energy production process. The body can only sustain aerobic energy production at steady, sub-maximal levels of exertion. Ie. A route that you don’t get pumped on at all and that has no moves that are difficult for you. Another great example is going for a long steady run.

Anaerobic: At a certain level of exertion (this is different for each person and called the anaerobic threshold) each person’s body will no longer be able to supply the necessary energy using the aerobic system. At this point the body begin to supply energy using the anaerobic system which does not utilize oxygen and can only be sustained for 1-3 minutes. Anaerobic energy production is inefficient in producing long term energy because of the build up of lactic acid that it produces. This lactic acid buildup seriously inhibits muscle function and results in that all too familiar pump. The anaerobic system is good at producing energy for short bursts of high intensity exertion. Ie. A crux on a route or a boulder problem. Climbers can train to increase their body’s ability to function well with a high build-up of lactic acid. This is called anaerobic endurance.

Here’s the catch! In climbing, unless you specialize in one-move-wonders, you need to train both systems.

Climbing, more than most sports, is extremely complex and difficult to categorize. Over the course of a route or long boulder problem, a climber will draw energy from a both aerobic and anaerobic systems. Moving through cruxes at their limit the climber will utilize the anaerobic system for energy and then at rests and through easier sections the climber can recover because his energy is being drawn from the efficiency of the aerobic system.

Check out this video of Sharma on Pachamama in Spain. The routes Sharma is doing know are amazing performances of anaerobic endurance.

The Red River Plan

The plan I followed over the last several weeks focused on building anaerobic endurance as well as building finger strength, power, and aerobic endurance. Here it is...

Day 1

Hangboard - (Absolute finger strength): Why this for the Red you might ask? Think of the V13 boulderer who goes to the Red and onsights 5.13+ in the Madness Cave. He may not have the best aerobic endurance but the moves are not hard for him and the holds feel easy to hang onto.

Pick 4 grips on the hangboard. Train your weaknesses!

Perform 3 sets on each of the four grips. You’ll need a stopwatch right in front of you for this. One set = Seven 7 second hangs with 3 seconds of rest between each hang. Rest 1 minute and repeat 3 sets for each grip. Rest 2 minutes between each grip. If you can complete One set without dropping off the board, increase the weight 2-5 lbs. For the sake of your tendon pulleys, use an open grip rather than full closed crimp grip.

Open Grip

Closed (Full) Crimp

Traverse into Boulder Problems x 5:

Create a 30+ move traverse at sub-maximal level (ie. if you boulder V7 create a V4 crux or cruxes in the traverse split up by rests). Have the traverse end at the start of a boulder problem slightly below your max (For the V7 boulderer V5/V5+ would be perfect). The goal is to recover on some good holds before the final boulder problem. Crush the boulder problem and then rest 1 minute before repeating or repeating into another problem. Do this 5 times.

Cool Down: Aerobic Recovery Capillary (ARC)

15-20 minutes of traversing. The goal here is to stay in the Aerobic zone (just slightly below your anaerobic threshold) for the entire 20 minutes. You’ll be able to tell this by staying just below the point where your getting really pumped but still at a level where your getting fatigued. Kind of like going for a long run or bike ride. This exercise will increase your local endurance as well as build more capillary density in the forearm muscles. Capillaries move nutrients to and from the muscle and help speed recovery.

Core: Complete 15 minutes of core exercises of your choice.

Day 2:

Campus Board: (Power)

Ladders and Touches

Perform one ladder up and down. Rest 1 minute and then perform one set of touches doing 2-3 touches with each arm without stepping off the board.

Here’s a great site with some video of these 2 exercises:

Repeat this 4 times.

Boulder Pyramid: This is an excellent anaerobic endurance exercise!

Pick 6 boulder problems and arrange them in a pyramid as below.


Complete this pyramid 4 times moving between problems as quickly as possible. Rest 2 minutes between completing each pyramid.

Cool Down: Aerobic Recovery Capillary (ARC) (See above)

Core: Complete 15 minutes of core exercises of your choice.

Rest Day: Think about doing some aerobic exercise for 30-60 minutes. This will accelerate recovery and help build general aerobic fitness.

Day 3:

Repeat Day 1...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Back at the Gunks

The weather was absolutely beautiful this past weekend for another trip down to the Gunks. I'm always psyched to meet up with my friend Jamie Hamilton and check out all that place has to offer. Jamie is absolutely crushing these days and is making quick repeats of hard 13's and hiking 12's like it's no big deal. The video below shows him making an Alzheimer's onsight of Pleasure Dome 12b/c at Lost city. Jamie's heading out to the desert southwest in a week or so and I'm he'll be tearing it up at the creek all winter and coming back mutated in the spring.
On Sat morning we went out to Sleepy Hollow and I was psyched to lead Bone Hard .12b pg-13/R. This is an amazing route with really cool movement and some dicey gear. The crux is placing a questionable offset nut, which zippered as I lowered off, and then punching it through a short boulder problem past a strenuous pin clip. Apparently this has been led often with a long sling pre-hung from the pin but not often ground up. The video shows some footage of the crux. It's a bit shaky but I figured I'd put it in since Jamie went through the effort of climbing a tree to take it.

After that we sessioned an amazing, bouldery 13a called Renaissance that Jamie had worked out direct start to. We only toproped it but perhaps with some more work I would be psyched to try and lead it.

This route is just one of so many lines at the Gunks that combine hard climbing with bad or really hard to place gear. Just having seen the new film Progression and watching the American crew destroy that place, it got me thinking about how many routes lie in the Gunks with few, if any, lead repeats. It would be rad to see a crew of the caliber that went to the Gritstone come to the Gunks and try and repeat some of these hard, scary lines!

This weekend I teach my training workshop at the Boston Rock Gym which I'm really psyched for and then the following Friday we're off to the Red River Gorge for Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Gunks and article

I'm all packed up and ready to head down to the Gunks in New Paltz, NY today after work. I've been going to the Gunks for the past 10 years or so and it's been really cool to see my progression over the years in comfort level and through the stout grades down there. I was down there last Halloween weekend and got a totally bouted by rain and rally humid conditions. This weekend looks prime and I'm super excited to get on a few routes I've had my eye on. Of all the places I've climbed in the northeast, the gunks is a true bastion of traditional ethics and many of the routes are a bit scary to say the least. Gear is often extremely tricky to find and place and is often really specific. I'm psyched to spend some time down there as it starts to get really cold up here in northern New England.

Jaime racking up below Bone Hard 12b pg-13, Gunks

Also... check out the article here by Reinhard Cate on about Wheelin N' Dealin and Matt Wilder's route Cheating Reality 5.14a R in the Flatirons, CO.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Training Seminar at the Boston Rock Gym: Nov 13-14

I'm incredibly excited to teach this seminar at the Boston Rock Gym on Nov 13 and 14! I started climbing as a highschooler at the BRG back in 1996 and trained there regularly over the past several years when I was working in MA. If you live in the area and are interested in learning a slew of new training skills, concepts, exercises, and generally new ways of thinking about training for climbing, sign up for this workshop!

On top of 2 days of hands on work at the BRG, I will also be sending all participants a personalized training plan via email. This plan will be based on consultation and discussion over the 2 day workshop.

As the winter approaches, so does the time to start getting stronger for that winter trip or that project you have your eye on for the spring. This workshop will give you the tools to shape your training over the winter months!



Friday and Saturday November 13th & 14th
6-10pm on Friday, 11am-finish on Saturday.

As always, the BRG wants to help you reach new heights! Come to our training seminar to learn how to hit the next level in your climbing. Matt McCormick has a degree in Physical Education and a strong background in exercise physiology and has taken his knowledge to the climbing arena. This seminar will provide an overview of principles of training as they apply to climbing. Including, but not limited to: Muscle memory movement, endurance training concepts, strength and oppostion training. At the conclusion of the seminar, Matt will create an individualized program to help you meet your goals and will be available for further correspondence.

$99 for members
$125 for non-members
Includes two day seminar and a personalized training program.