The Dreaded One Hang or…Maybe Not

dscn2541This fall I took on a new route that I had bolted last year. I am calling it the Infinity Round after my training program. It clocks in as a route that challenges my weaknesses of liebacking and open handed slopers and power endurance. It is on a granite wall in Unaweep Canyon and is north facing. It is slightly overhanging and is in the middle of a 250ft tall wall. It took days to clean off the layers of loose granite that had been wanting to exfoliate from the fragile wall and now that it is clean, its great fun to climb on.

I spent 8 weeks deep in a very specific training program to increase my power endurance while building my sloper strength. My opportunity to attempt the route was once a week and lasted only one burn due to the fact that I am a busy guy! I got on the wall without a real warm up to make sure that it was cool enough to hold on to the slopers and then would give it about an hour of effort. After that I would trade belays with my partners on the single pitch routes nearby until about noon or one pm and then head back to my family to play with my boys and go camping.

After 8 weeks my program and effort brought me to the level of actually sending this challenge. I was able to one hang it on 2 occasions and felt like I was ready mentally and physically to send. Then my other obligations began to take over.  I have slide shows to present, clinics to teach, family to visit, parent teacher conferences to attend, science meetings to take care of and the list goes on basically eliminating any after school chance of attempting the route and killing any weekend attempt for weeks.

Is this a bad thing that I got so close and then couldn’t pull the trigger and send? I don’t know. I do know that my training and prep was dead on. I know that I had a ton of fun hanging around on the wall trying to complete the route and sharing it with those partners who were willing to join me on the wall. I know that I can and will complete the route either later this fall (or in the spring if necessary) but does it really even matter, that is what lingers in my head? Does it matter that much?

As a person I pried myself for getting things done, whether its cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, teaching my kids or providing my high school students great learning opportunities and experiences or being a good father and husband. Where does a send of a route on an obscure piece of a wall fit in?

For some of us, it is the only piece of the puzzle and for me years ago it was a huge piece. Earlier on in my climbing the send was something that was the end/success/sometimes a reason to fit in/sometimes self worth/fun. Now the send for the most part is 1% of the route and the training and people and journey and effort and problem solving and establishing and adventure are the bigger pieces and the most important to me. My partners and their experience are important and its not just another ego boosting send that I can brag about.

So what’s in a one hang, many things? Will I complete the route, Yes but have I already completed it, that is for me to decide, not you.


Labor Day Weekend Volunteering

Every time that my boys and I go hiking and climbing at our local stomping grounds they notice the trash that inconsiderate folks leave behind. There are plastic bottles, glass bottles, bags and fast food wrappers and all sorts of other garbage. Last time we went to play there, they suggested that we should come back with gloves and garbage bags and clean up the non-native species.

They agreed that they would pick up the trash and that my job was to carry the bags of trash. We were happily surprised that the area called Riggs Hill was pretty clean on todays visit until I noticed something blue across the park. As we neared the cliff band, I thought that it was going to be a tarp from a shelter. It ended up being a massive amount of  freshly spray painted rocks and leftover spray paint cans and bottles.

The artwork was fresh and it looks like there may be clues as to who may have done it. Not the best decision if you ask me.

But my kids already know and understand that you need to take care of the places that you love. Thanks for taking care of Riggs Hill Rowan and Orson. You two are wonderful boys and full of heart and passion.


First Month of School, Training, Projecting and Life

This first month back at school and teaching has been a busy one to say the least. I think that this is my 14th year as a high school teacher!


We moved into a new school building that was opened for day one, but not completely finished. That made life challenging due to the fact that one our technology was not fully ready and two, we literally threw our supplies from the old building into whatever space was available in the new one. With confusion being king and with our student body not knowing the new building expectations, the transition went off really well considering all the obstacles that were before us. Add to that that we had new staff and new students, it was hectic. Many of us were left with our heads spinning.

To top that off, my two boys had to start their pre-schooling again. This went well since the older boy had been at the school for a year and the younger one was finally potty trained.

Additionally, I had to get my outdoor program going again at the new school. Organizing trip dates, bussing, and other teacher duties has been keeping me busy every second.

Finally, I have been training for my Unaweep project. I began that journey by trying the route (way before I was ready) and identifying my needs for success. Then I had to write 6 week program that would advance me into a position of sending the route in late September or early October. It has been tough making progress on the climb when most of the work that I do for it is indoors and on plastic. I actually only get one attempt on the route a week due to other commitments with life, school, friends and family. That one attempt consists of a lead burn over the course of about an hour where I rehearse the movements over and over so that the movements are ingrained in my head. I have never been on a route that has challenged my timing, sequencing and power so intensely. It is the kind of route where there is no room for error. If I make a mistake the route doesn’t allow you to correct yourself, it just spits me off like a chewed up dog toy. I like the challenge and wish that I could attempt it more than once a week, but I can be patient and enjoy the process. In the mean time, I have still been establishing a few new routes around that have proven to be incredible!

Lastly, I have 4 events that I will be at in the next two months:

  1. Slide Show at The Desert Rat in St. George September 23 at (time to be determined)
  2. Slide Show at Origin Climbing Gym in Las Vegas, on September 24 at  (4pm)
  3. The American Alpine Club Craggin Classic at Shelf Road Oct 22/23
  4. The American Alpine Club Craggin Classic at Moab Oct 29/30

Please come out and enjoy the shows and the clinics at the events and come by to say hello!



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.