Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Best Horsetooth Hang Ever.

Volunteers at the Hang.

This year was the most enjoyable hang I've ever been to. The costumes were fun, Angie and Jamie's slideshow was well done and fit perfectly with the event, the weather was good, it wasn't too crowded, and I wasn't competing to win. I had so much fun flying off Left Eliminator, socializing, trying to win a pad by picking up glass, and getting inspired by photos of Switzerland. While I was doing everything but competing, Ashley ticked her circuit to win the Women's open for the seventh year in a row. Rather than write on and on, I'll just let the pictures tell the story.

Justin going straight towards my face-lam.

Tom dressed as himself.

Tony, winner of this year's best costume award.

NCCC board member Ricky.

NCCC board member Andi.

Marty wearing the runner-up costume.

Robyn and Dee Dee watching the event.

Colleen climbing Face it You're a Flake.

NCCC President Cam showing he can lasso as well as he can organize the Hang.

NCCC board member Ashley giving Andre a lasso lesson just a couple minutes after she learned how.

Kelly's lasso redpoint.

See you there next year.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Tale of Two Comps.

Saturday was a full day of climbing at the Vedauwoo Bouldering Competition. The weather was beautiful, and we climbed with a lot of great people. One interesting development this year was the large number of female competitors. At a Vedauwoo comp a few years ago, Ashley was the only girl who competed. This year, it looked like the gender ratio was about even, and many of the strongest women climbers from the Front Range were there.

Davin and Josh do a pretty good job of mixing it up each year. One year the venue was changed a week before the comp. This year they upped the number of problems to ten, and only included a few problems at the most popular areas in the competition. This pretty much forced everyone to jump in their cars and visit outlying areas by the afternoon. I was a little bummed to see that "Iron Maiden" wasn't included in the guide. I had planned my competition circuit around that problem. It also seemed like having to send ten problems and get to outlying areas would put us both at a serious disadvantage. With the kids along, we didn't have a chance of visiting all the areas and problems that could help our score.

You can only do your best to work with the situation. So I studied the maps, and came up with a circuit that would work. We climbed well, sending most of our problems first or second try which was really important on the sharp rock.

Amanda doing the days warm-up "Day After Tomorrow."

Having to get ten problems turned out to be an advantage. The past few weekends at Vedauwoo had prepared our skin, and we know the area well, so we managed to avoid sharp, sandbag problems. Many bloody fingered competitors didn't manage to fill their scorecards. Ashley came in first in the women's division, and I got fourth place in the men's. Justin Jaeger managed to cruise up everything (even problems not included in the comp), socialize with everybody, take a lot of photos, win the comp and get the first blog post up all with bloody fingers. Quite impressive.

The rainbows driving home were incredible. Here are a couple photos taken while driving.

Pot of Gold road hazard!

The next day I was too sore, but Ashley felt good enough to compete in the Inner Strength comp. The place was packed,

and Colin seemed a bit stressed after organizing the event.

Alex Puccio was competing, and Ashley went into the finals in second place.

After getting into the finals, the top three competitor's places were totally determined by their performance on two final problems. Alex and Ashley flashed the first problem, and Elle climbed it in three tries. The second problem was flashed by Alex and Elle, but long moves, lack of feet, and fatigue kept Ashley from finishing it. Ashley came in third place. Ian Dory won the men's division.

Comps are a complex game. Different rules and environments, strategy, and pure luck on percentage moves, all mix up the game. Strength is a prerequisite to win, but far from a guarantee. That's what keeps them interesting. Thanks to Josh, Davin, and Colin for putting these two together. Fun stuff. Next week we'll be at the Horsetooth Hang. It's time to start searching for western wear.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ahh Vedauwoo!

Today was a beautiful day at Vedauwoo. Ft. Collins was cold and cloudy when we left. Ashley wanted to call the trip off, to climb somewhere else, but the clouds thinned as we went north, and skies were completely clear at Vedauwoo. It was a calm and sunny, crisp sixty degree, absolutely perfect day. Aaron and Shaun met us up there, and after warming up we went to "Soak 'em in Cider." It got sent a few times, but no one thought it felt easy. "Iron Maiden" was the next stop. It felt very hard, and I didn't understand why. It took a few tries before I realized that the tape I had put on a couple fingers to keep them from bleeding, was actually making it much harder to climb the problem. I took the tape off. The problem hurt more, but felt much better to climb. I popped off the end a few times, and had to talk Ashley into letting me have one more try, after I had promised that the try before would be my last. Then I did it. I didn't really expect it, and it didn't feel that bad. A nine day process spread out over 15 months was done, just like that.

Aaron worked out the moves, here are a few photos.

A couple weeks ago I heard about a website called PhotoSynth. It's a site that can put photos together and create a three dimensional landscape out of them. It sounded like it would be a great resource for online bouldering guides. I took about 100 photos at Vedauwoo last week, and tried to create one. The results were underwhelming so I'm not posting the link. The site appears to work if you stand still and take 100 pictures, but can't put them together very well when you're hiking. Also it only works on Windows machines so I had to try it at school. If you're interested, Google Climbing PhotoSynths. I found a cool one of "Midnight Lightning", and one of the Vedauwoo route called "Squat."

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Personal Progress

Brandon working Soak em' in Cider.

Outdoor comps are coming up at Vedauwoo and Horsetooth, so we're getting out to both areas as much as we can. We both hope to show improvement by getting better scores than last time. We want personal best performances, and are mostly competing with ourselves.

I was concerned this year, after falling off of most of my harder projects over the summer. I made progress on what are now multi-year projects, but didn't send many problems at the upper end of my grade range. I thought that age and swollen fingers were catching up with me, and that I might already be facing a future of inevitable decline in my bouldering ability. Yesterday's session at Vedauwoo with Brandon and Amanda changed my attitude. "Iron Maiden" felt much better than it ever has before. I hit the last hold on four attempts. Never quite stuck it, but I know I'm stronger than last year. Sometimes the only way you can tell if you're making progress is by getting on old projects and seeing how they feel.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Vedauwoo Bouldering Competition!

It's going to include all the areas on Vedauwoo road from Poland Hill to the Acres and beyond. Take tours to the best problems. See the hardest problems get climbed. You don't want to miss this!
Get the word out.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day Weekend

We got a couple good sessions in over the weekend. Saturday morning we had an early morning session with Brandon and Amanda at Rotary. We did a lot of fun contrivances.

Today we toured an area called Flash's Meadow with Jacob, Amanda, and Brandon. Jacob has spent a lot of time exploring the place.

The good boulders are spread out, but there are some worthy ones hidden where you'd least expect them.
The Thumb has a couple great lines.

Jacob showing us how it's done on the best line on The Thumb.

No one managed to top out on The Thumb, but it was fun just trying to link the moves to the ledge.
No one chickened out on the Sloper boulder.

We climbed on an intimidating problem called Death of a Traditional Man. I didn't feel bad about backing off on that one. I did commit on an arete problem to the right of it, and managed to top out despite some nerves.

Our last stop was a problem called Desperado. It should have been our first. It's a high quality, difficult, overhanging problem that isn't too tall. Our skin was too far gone to put in our best effort. Ashley worked out most of it, and I'm sure we'll get back to it soon.

I really enjoyed the day. Thanks Jacob for another great tour. I never would have found this stuff.