Skinny Moose Media Ahoy!

25 06 2008

vice/virtue has moved to a new blog network.

Thank you, Skinny Moose Media, for inviting me into the fold.

And people, it’s not selling out if you’re not even famous. Yet. Mark my words, I’ll soon be drinking toddies with Strong Steve and playfully ruffling Czech wonderkinds‘ hair while Rock & Ice pays to photograph the goings-ons. That’s all the fame I desire.

Check me at

Steve McClure Can Crimp My Crag Any Day

23 06 2008

Strong Steve McClure

Before the cheers (and possible jeers) for Sonnie Trotter quieted down, Steve McClure made his own Rhapsody (E11 7a 5.14c) ascent with characteristic bravado. Some would disagree with my assessment. They say he’s a humble, modest man. Now, I don’t know him, but based on quotes and video clips, I imagine him practically swaggering up Dumbarton Rock. This is no insult. He is hands down my favorite climber this season. His nonchalance and apparently being a decent guy totally makes up for braggadocio. But then, don’t all American girls go bonkers for British accents?

And what does any girl do when she’s keen? Googles the guy, of course!

Random facts I’m happy to know about Steve McClure:

  1. He’s a father! Oh, that’s nice.
  2. Both his father and mother were climbers – put him on lead at 7, 8, or 9 years old.
  3. His childhood nickname was “Bush-Head.” Currently, he’s known as “Strong Steve.”
  4. He has the brain of an engineer, not an artist. And he’s good with his hands on, you know, technical stuff.
  5. He’s ok with recreational climbers. Mostly because they stay indoors.
  6. Once said grades were invented to start arguments.

Plus, this weekend I was begging out of leading 5.9 in a drizzle, feeling like a scaredy-pants, explaining I would never feel right about hands and feet popping due to wet rock not lack of skill. And today, I read that Strong Steve is “uninspired” by climbing loose rock because “not only climbing skills are being tested, a certain amount of luck is involved.” We even think alike! Why, I’m tickled pink.

Thanks to and for the info.

For Steve’s personal commentary on Rhapsody, grade-related and otherwise, visit Climb Magazine.

Link Cam Inspection Notice & Update: Axle Nut

19 06 2008

Omega Pacific is requesting that Link Cam owners inspect their Link Cams for a potential defect recently discovered.

“As of this posting, the incidents are extremely rare and are not considered widespread, but we feel that it is in the best interest of climbers’ safety to inform the climbing community of the potential for this problem. Should any Link Cam owner wish for us to perform the inspection, we will be happy to do so. Please contact us for information how to prepare the return.”

To determine if your Link Cam should be sent back for repair or replacement:

1) Identify the side of the cam with the nut.

2) Identify whether the axle is “peened” or “mushroomed” over the round nut.

Correct: The axle-end is smooth and flatter.

Incorrect: The axle-end is sharp and has concavity.

Correct: no threading from the axle should be seen.

Incorrect: some threads may be visible beyond the nut.

3) Apply some counter-clockwise force to the nut and attempt to remove it from the axle. It should not rotate. Some very minor movement may be within specification, but you should NOT be able to rotate the nut more than a few degrees.

“If your cams fail this examination – or if you are in doubt of the results for any reason – we request that you contact us at 1-800-360-3990 to arrange for the return of your cam(s). We will repair or replace them as necessary.

We apologize for this inconvenience. Please feel free to contact us for any additional information.”

Michael Lane
Sales & Marketing Director
800.360.3990 toll-free
509.456.0170 international


Don’t Knock It Til You Do It

12 06 2008

Sonnie Trotter on the sharp end

For once, I have an opinion and it has nothing to do with the environment or charity.

After Sonnie Trotter redpointed Dave MacLeod’s Rhapsody on Dumbarton Rock in Scotland (see here too), he made a blog post along these lines:

It won’t be long before I’ll say or do something that people won’t like, accept or understand and I’ll be the easy target for smack talking and trash mocking [about] the fact that I only choose climbs that will gain me visibility and that I only ‘redpoint’ after X-treme toproping sessions, so therefore I am not a true climber of soul. It will go donw like this —

“Talk to me when he does something from the ground up.”

“I heard he doesn’t climb ice, what a puss.”

“but did he do the extension?”

“Did you hear he used a rubber knee pad for the crux?”

“Oh my, what a cheater.”

“It wasn’t a flash, he fell off the first hold and then got back on again.”

Oh and let’s not forget that I am a sponsor whore, a prostitute for free shwag and food stamps.

To this, I must say, the man shouldn’t even have to think about haters. This was the second ascent of a E11 7a (5.14c R) – the first of it’s kind in 2006 – so the only one who could possibly smack talk Mr. Trotter would be Mr. MacLeod himself. About the knee pad, maybe… But no one else.

Trotter had to take monetary donations from other climbers to fund his last days at Dumbarton. Their generosity was amazing, but should full time climbers really have to live on squat to stay credible? I personally hope Trotter finds as many corporate Johns to sponsor him as possible – just to keep the mad ascents coming. (It’s not like a Petzl rep went and chiseled holds for him on Rhapsody or Direquiem.)

So yes, I’m ranting. I’m using this space to support the doers and decry the posers who’ll say anything to look tough. Seems to me that climbing at your highest level means focusing on your own self. Do your thing the way you think it should be done. And leave it at that.

This is the only thing that irks me about the climbing community. People talk about the purity of the sport. How it’s been besmirched by the influx of “impure” athletes. Sounds like scary talk to me. Also, it’s sad when home grown spots like Hueco get overrun by climbing “tourists,” but such is the evolution of a sport.

Where would the impetus for opening new routes, problems, and territories come from if you could hold onto the past?

Reminds me of the interview with Reinhold Messner that was floating around the blogosphere a while back. The man has no fear of the future. Not only does he not have to poo-poo today’s rock climbers to make his achievements look more astonishing, he doesn’t feel like he has to, either. (That makes sense, right?)

But then, I’m an iconoclast. And I can get fierce. Um, yeah. Congrats, Sonnie! I’m sure you’re not above hatin’, posin’, and say, bemoanin’ sport routes or something, but in this case, you done good.

(Oh, and, check this Sonnie Trotter training video.)

Health, Empowerment, Research, and Advocacy

11 06 2008

HERA for short. This Women’s Cancer Foundation has been everywhere lately. Besides Climb4Life events, founder and cancer survivor Sean Patrick is drumming up funds through the Partners in Action program.

Women’s Adventure magazine is newest to the list. That means every subscription sends $5 toward ovarian cancer research and advocacy.

Most exciting, HERA is partnering with the Sterling Ropes Recycling Center in conjunction with their Climb4Life event in Boulder this weekend. Eco-conscious Coloradoans are welcome to drop off their worn-out nylon cords. Friday from 3 – 6pm at the local REI. Saturday from 8 – 10am at the Boulder Rock Club. (Normally you’d have to send them in – but still a great option for greening your climbing gear.)

If you’re in the market for new gear, I’ve seen HERA emblazoned on special-release climbing products from Mad Rock to Petzl…

Mad Rock HERA Pad

Mad Rock just released the HERA Pad – a lightweight bouldering crashpad made for women climbers. $139.95 with $6 destined for the cancer foundation. Closed size: 24″x36″x10″. Open size: 48″x36″x5″.

Evolve HERA shoeIn May, Evolve unveiled the HERA women’s climbing shoe. The narrow, non-aggressive fit and extended toe rand make for a comfortable all-arounder. Perforated upper for breathability. Three grooves in the rubber above the big toe designed to relieve pressure as you maneuver on edges. $109 online with standard custom add-ons like split sizing. 1% of online and dealer profits head straight to HERA.

HERA hangboardJason Kehl shaped this minimalist hangboard for HERA and Priced at a not-bad $47.50 and promising 5% of sales to support the cause.

HERA climbing holdsAlso available on, five HERA-themed sandstone holds for $25 with a 5% donation rate.
HERAbinerPun of the day – the HERABINER – courtesy of Petzl. $13.95 each. $1 for its namesake.

P.S. As far as I can tell, the BlueWater Lightning Pro rope from BlackJack Mountain Outfitters is no longer available.

Climb Up Summer Summit Challenge Part 2

9 06 2008

Quick update.

It’s official.

As part of the Climb Up so Kids can Grow Up Summer Summit Challenge, I’m climbing Mr. Rainier over the 4th of July weekend.

Now seeking sponsors. Spare change, dolla dolla bills, gold fillings, personal checks, anything helps. As little or as much as you can afford. It’s all tax-deductible. Contact me for more info.

Donations go to the American Foundation for Children with AIDS. Their work delivers “cost-effective relief, services, medical and social support, education and advocacy” to help HIV positive children in Africa.

Thanks in advance for your encouragement and sponsorship!

Live Intensely…

4 06 2008

But not this intensely.

Office Worker Goes Absolutely Insane

I’m on a roll today. My CEO sent this to me.


Climb more, nervous breakdown less.

‘Perfecto’ Film Mystery

4 06 2008

If you have multiple browser tabs open when you click to Rock at Ice right now, you might suffer brief confusion (or delusions). Did you accidentally surf to Has Chris Sharma fused his mind with your computer to beckon you to a beachy climbing wonderland?

Unfortunately, no.

Scroll down to the very bottom and you’ll see an unnamed video on auto-play. Perfecto by MC Productions. That is the mystery.

Looks like Mike Call has been bumming about Sharma’s old haunts. He brought Ethan Pringle – who names “Being featured in Mike Call’s (MC Productions/Momentum VM) Deep Water Solo Film ‘Perfecto'” one of his major bouldering achievements. This page and Rock and Ice are the only two online locations where I can find info about the film, coming out this summer.

Neither Movement Films nor MVM mention the new flick.

But what more do we need to know?

Good Gym Habits

4 06 2008

A couple weeks back, Phil over at Rock Climbing Blog (the journey to 7a and beyond) posted about difficulties in the gym. Struggling on routes rated below his abilities. Pumped forearms early in the session. Etc.

Flash pump?

Yesterday, while replacing my stolen bike, the sales guy at Alpine Hut confessed he avoids bouldering in the gym because he hurts himself. “I don’t want to climb V1s and V2s, I want to do something fun” – inducing ligament and tendon strain in the pursuit of happiness.

Climber’s finger?

I commiserate with both gentlemen.

Mr. Alpine Hut’s idea of “fun” might be V5s or V6s, I don’t know, while mine hovers at V3s and V4s, but the effect is the same. We both want to play at the edge of our limits. Before I developed good habits in the climbing gym – and I don’t mean bagging chalk and giving neighbors enough space – my sessions were hit or miss. And my fingers were constantly aching.

Now, my technique improves with each session. I test it on real rock and the skills stick.

What follows are some tips for getting the most outta your gym sessions. Be warned, it takes more discipline than simply showing up when you feel ready and working yourself like a dog until you are, on the rope, behaving like a hang dog.

The hardest part is committing to a schedule. As I read recently in How to Climb 5.12, never train more than 2 days in a row. For me that means in the gym. Outside, I figure, you have time between pitches. You’re messing with equipment. You’re hiking from one route to the next. If you want to spend a four day weekend at the crag, you’ll survive. Indoors, you’re packing in sends like sardines and working your body in a more concentrated manner. Your body needs the rest. Train no more than 4 days a week, and never more than 2 days in a row.

If you’re like me, you might get into the zone and want to climb every day for two weeks straight, sometimes morning and night. Don’t do that. It feels like you’re working hard, but you’re taking the path of least resistance. Sticking to a more moderate schedule allows your body to absorb new movements, build new muscle, and accept real discipline.

Next up, stretch! Stretch your legs, groin, shoulders, arms, and fingers. 10 seconds each. Roll your ankles and wrists. Do that funky dance before every session. Do it in the bathroom so no one sees you sweat. Breath deep. Get ready already. Don’t wait til your forearms are swollen and you naturally stretch them to ease the pain. Do it first and last.

After stretching, warm up to avoid flash pumps and order your climbs by difficulty to increase the length of your session.

Warming up on easy routes is fine, but traversing is even better. Personally, I have a hard time doing this because ascent and achieving goals are a big part of why I climb. But you don’t have to spend twenty minutes circumnavigating your gym. As advised by my erstwhile climbing instructor Kelly Sheridan, traverse once until your muscles feel ever-so-slightly warm. Use only jugs. Open-hand the holds. Don’t stress. Traverse a second time, still palming jugs, doubling the distance. That’s it. You’re done warming up.

But don’t head straight to the hard stuff.

In the past, I thought jumping on my own personal testpieces immediately, before I was tired, gave me a greater chance of sending them “fresh.” Not true. I just felt fatigue faster and usually didn’t climb any better.

In How to Climb 5.12, Eric Horst details an intricate plan on how to order your gym sessions. Decide what skills you want to practice, target those problems, then move to more difficult grades. Or was it lap “wired” routes when you’re tired? I don’t know. It was too organized for me to remember. If it you take a look and it makes sense to you, great! My simple plan involves three stages:

1. Seek out accessible problems first. You won’t get tired. Imagine every “easy” problem you send adds 5 minutes to the end of your session. That’s 5 more minutes for attempting the doozies.

2. Train on chunks. Break apart the hard bouldering problems or establish one skill (like dynamic movements or heel hooks) to focus on for the majority of your session.

3. Get in it to win it! At the end of your session, not the beginning, feel free to wear yourself out on body-boggling, Twister-esque assaults on rock. Start at the start and finish at the finish.

So yes, I do advocate climbing hard. If you’ve warmed up adequately and scheduled wisely, your chances of injury should decrease. But I’m no doctor. Please don’t consider this medical advice.

In closing, remember to stretch last of all. And it’s not a bad idea to intersperse hands-free training days for when your fingers inevitably feel like they’ve been through a vice. Pick out a slabby section of wall (less than vertical), get on the rope, and focus on footwork. Try anything you consider easy, but without using hand holds. Palming is ok.

Hope this helps and good luck.

Climb Up Summer Summit Challenge

3 06 2008

Climb Up!Climb Up so Kids can Grow Up is a dynamic partnership between outdoor recreation enthusiasts and the American Foundation for Children with AIDS, which focuses on the African HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Climb Up is kicking off their 2008 fundraising with an impressive Summer Summit Challenge. The idea is for hikers and climbers across America to storm the nation’s highest peaks between June 27 and July 6.

To participate, individuals must raise $115 and teams $5,000.

As of right now only one team has signed up, so please check out the high point in your state to see if you’re ready for the challenge.

If you poke around on the Climb Up website, you’ll find great stories from previous events. Read up on the fun you can have participating in programs like this. Get motivated. And realize there’s really nothing stopping you from climbing for a cause.