The Day You Send. What Should You Do?

For years after sending a route that I gave my all for days or weeks or even years my celebratory act was to go out and get a bite to eat at what was the locations best grub. For a while it was the burger joint in Rifle (which is long since gone), then it was another burger joint in Glenwood Springs (which is still there/sorry that I can’t remember the name), then it was the Brew Pub in Glenwood (you are probably thinking that I sent no climbs outside of Rifle, ha ha early on I was focused on my sport climbing progression). Then in Zion it became Café Rio and it has basically remained The Rio for quite some time. Anyway, The point of this short write up is that I have recently read that some of the best running athletes do their most challenging workouts after their BIG competition and BEST performances. The reason behind this is that the training is often more difficult than the actual competition. So when they complete their best run (it was often always easier than a normal workout, they get after it with a planned training regime.


So this leads me to wonder, What should you do the day you send? Revel in your awesomeness and pat yourself on your back because you changed the world with your send of the next greatest route that you ever climbed? Or get out there and push yourself (whether you are in the gym or on the road with focused, determined and calculated efforts.

This weekend I completed one half of my current project (the “easy half”). It took three tries which means that it might and I mean might be around 5.13 (on the light side of 13 I insist) but ultimately it doesn’t matter. What matters is that after that send, I climbed as many pumpy and powerful 5.12’s that I could in order to push my threshold for resistance since that is what I need on the “hard” pitch of my project. I for sure will be looking to use all of my time effectively since I do not have the luxury of not having a job and being able to project out on a route every waking second. My one burn a week is all that I get and those moments on route making small progress are always more fun than the final send of the route because at that point the journey has ended.

How Should You Feel after the First Week of a Program?

As I have just completed my first week of my latest program, I thought it would be good to share what (at least) I feel as the days go on. I will summarize how things went last week.

Saturday I was able to get on my project. It took nearly 4 hours of work to learn and rehearse the moves on the bouldery and sustained two pitch granite climb that I bolted and cleaned last year. I was destroyed. My skin was very thin and I actually bled through one of my finger tips after attempting to hold the desperately slopey side pulls over and over and over. I was powered down to the point where stacking the fixed line and lead line after completing my top rope burn was difficult.

Sunday I did a fingerboard session and I had to take it easy due to not having any skin. The reason for not having any was due to my prior three weeks off of climbing and mostly swimming in a pool. My fingerboard session was very specific. I would hang for 10 seconds on an open handed sloper, then pull into a 5 second 90 degree lock off and then close with the 10 second straight arm hang. I rested for 10 seconds and then repeated this a total of 5 times in a row. Then I did that for three sets with a 2 minute break in between. After a 5 minute rest I did a crimp dead hang for 5 seconds on to 5 second of 90 degree lock off and back to another 5 seconds of dead hang. I repeated this in the same fashion as the sloper set. Needless to say my skin tore apart on the crimps and I couldn’t finish. I was destroyed to say the least.


Monday was some cardio and that was easy. 20 minutes of running.

Tuesday was my Combo Circuit which involves strength and core work mixed with fingerboarding, campusing and weights. Let’s just say that I did poorly. Then I did my gym routes and stayed in the 5.11 range and I felt tired but was able to push through. My skin was the X factor and I needed to make sure that I wasn’t setting myself back by the types of grips that I was holding. Over all I was feeling very fatigued throughout the work day and falling asleep early at night.

By wed my skin was needed a full rest and that was what I did. I ate and drank a bunch and tried my best to recover.

Thursday I repeated another Combo Circuit (which I did poorly on). I had no power and no endurance and my skin hurt. In the afternoon I did a short Treadwall session (just a 4×4 with easy routes and my skin hurt a ton but it wasn’t tearing up. I was not going into Fridays rest feeing good. Skin was beat, I had no power and no endurance.

Friday was a rest day.

Saturday I went up on my project and had an amazing session. My skin felt great on the granite slopers, I felt strong and was able to do the cruxes over and over and I nearly sent the second pitch on top rope. It lies in the mid 5.13 range and I am optimistic that I will be able to send that pitch shortly. Then I was able to climb another 10 routes including 6 5.12’s without blowing through my skin. I was deflated and tired at the end of the week but the well laid out rest days allow me to get it back after such a beating.

I am now optimistic that the route can be sent this fall (before winter sets in its on the north face at 7000+ft) and that my training is right on track. I think its time for a little ice cream.

Get outside and have an adventure and love it!

By the way I was able to actually make it through my finger boarding session tonight! Not easily but my skin held up and I was able to fight to complete every hang combo.


Outdoor Retailer Trade Show Reflections

I haven’t been to the trade show in Salt Lake in a few years due to my school year always beginning at the exact same time of the show. This year was different, the first day of the show was one day before I was to begin teaching, so I went. What does that mean? Why did I go? As an athlete for SCARPA, Arcteryx, Sterling Rope and CAMP, I get to meet with the athlete coordinators and marketing people to talk contracts, planning for next years trips, learn about new products and understand marketing goals for the company. I went this year because I haven’t had face to face contact with many of those people in a while and it is good to have face time with your employer. Also, because I get to reconnect with other climbers in the community, photographers and writers. In the end, I had meetings in 3 hours and drove home. This year really reminded me that I am not too into the trade show or the scene. I enjoy talking to my sponsors and reconnecting with other friends, but I really cant handle the venue. It is too busy for me.

So here are a couple of things to consider if you ever end up attending the Outdoor Retailer trade show:

  • Have a plan. Wandering around will overwhelm you with all the products and sales pitches.
  • Have your meetings scheduled ahead of time. If you don’t there is a good chance that you will not be able to speak with who you want to.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. You will do a lot of standing around.
  • Carry nothing but a water bottle or tiny pack. You will talk so much that you can loose your voice.
  • If you are wanting to gain sponsorship or get advertising money from a company, do your homework. Find out who you need to talk with before and don’t lurk around their booth. Sometimes those people aren’t even around and the last thing they want to hear is someone else asking for something for nothing.
  • Make contacts with everyone that you meet. They may know the person that you want to meet, the community is small and many of the people there have worked for multiple companies in the industry.
  • Eat and drink because you would be surprised how much energy you expend walking and talking all day long!
  • Have fun, the event only happens twice a year!

The Program

rob plan for fall 2016 (2)Here is the program that I will be following the next few weeks. I wrote it after assessing my current state and after getting on the route. It is a 6 week plan that should line up the cooler temperatures of early fall. My goal is a slopey, smooth, powerful slightly overhanging granite route about 200ft tall broken up into two pitches. No feet and no good grips the entire way. There are more details that go into each day but this is the simple outline.

If you are interested in coming up with plans that match what you have available to you let me know and I can help you figure it out and reach your climbing goals!

Get outside and have an adventure!

piz : )


The Flapper

What do you get when you take time off from climbing on rocks or plastic? If you move too quickly, a nice flapper. What is a flapper? It is when a portion of your skin just seems to tear off while gripping a hold when it is lacking skin toughness.

I am in the danger zone for getting a flapper as I will begin my training for the fall without proper skin conditioning. I have not been climbing in about 3 weeks (and I have been in a pool for most of those days) other than about 4 routes worth. So patience is key when coming back to climbing without your normal skin toughness.

My nephew, who just visited for a week took time off from his normal 4 hour gymnastic training days only to begin again and during the first session back tore open his palms and fingers due to soft skin. Also, if you spend time doing deep or my preference shallow water bouldering you are at a great risk for tearing large and inconvenient flappers.

Photo from climberharry.BlogSpot.comflapper

So what is the solution? Here are a few things to remember:

  • Don’t push hard to get back into your “normal” climbing routing. As badly as you may want to just cut back the volume and relax.
  • Climb on a great variety of hold shapes and sizes. This will not overwork easily torn areas.
  • No laps on boulders or routes. This will quickly tear your precious skin apart.
  • Use wooden holds if your gym has them. These are the BEST for training on anyway and do the least damage.
  • Climb a few grades under your ability so that you are not putting undo stress on your skin.
  • Stay off the steep stuff even if you are climbing on large holds. These are typically the ones that do the most damage.
  • Try to use less or no chalk at the beginning because creating an extremely dry hand environment just speeds up the likelihood of a flapper.
  • Taping only prevents you from rebuilding your strong callused skin; so don’t.
  • Stay away from hard finger cracks. I got worked by trying a hard finger crack without having skin toughness and it was painful and ugly!

So be patient and don’t rush back. I am wanting to train today but must wait due to not having time for a setback.

Get outside and have an adventure!

piz : )