December 31, 2012

Training with Piz: 5 Minute Core

This is the current core workout that I do twice a week.
I have folks doing it everyday and have seen great gains in their ability to maintain a strong core.
It is meant to be completed after your workout, but can be done anytime.
Friends just rafted the Grand Canyon this fall and finished everyday of their trip with a little core work before bed on the shore of the Colorado River.

1 minute of the plank: be sure to engage every muscle from your toes to your arms while trying to reach your chin to your belly button. A good plank consists of every muscle being flexed even your butt cheeks!
1 minute of dolphins: be sure to hold your hands and extend as far forward as you can while rolling over your toes.
30 seconds of 1 arm plank: the goal is to NOT adjust your feet, keep them shoulder width apart and to move your weight off of your arm/shoulder while keeping your shoulder and hips square to the floor.
1 minute of v-ups: be sure to have both shoulder blades touching the floor all the way and then to keep your hands in front the whole time. (I add a 5-10lb weight to my hands)
1 minute of scissor kick crunches: point your toes to the opposite wall, keep straight legs and move then up and down no more than 3 feet off the ground, then add a crunch with your hands behind your head. If hands behind your head hurts you can put them along your side near your butt and it will make the challenge easier.

piz : )

December 20, 2012

Training with Piz: Bruce Lee's

There are a few movements/positions that display mastery of muscle groups in the body.

As a climber, having control over your core is essential for pushing the grades and excelling on  steeper rock climbs.Yoga has numerous advanced positions that can develop your core strength in addition to climbing specific training. If you are actively doing yoga, you will see the benefits throughout your entire body.

I do not know yoga nor do I pretend to. I have participated in a few classes of each of the varieties, but have not invested serious time into it.

The Bruce Lee is a great position to hold for a short amount of time in order to test/challenge your whole body core strength. I don't know when or where this position showed up, but I do know that when I first attempted it, that I was not very successful. This position takes time to master and can be done as a progression.

  1. Grab the back of a bench and drive your shoulders into the seat of the bench and your legs up above your head, as in the video. Be sure to point your toes down.
  2. Next, lift your legs and hips above your head and attempt to maintain a straight position. If you can do that (the key is being able to force your hips into alignment with your body.) you are in position to lower your legs. (I describe it to my students, as the forward hip thrust position, it is all about getting your hips forward) You will immediately know whether the next step is possible when you attempt it.
  3. Finally, lower your legs and hips (as they are in a straight line from your neck) to the 45 degree mark and hold.
To progress: start from the vertical position hold it for a 20-30 seconds and build up reps until you can lower your legs closer to 45 degrees.

The key to this is to continue your regular breathing and to not strain your neck

Get outside and have an adventure!

piz : )

December 19, 2012

Sunday Hike that will Turn into a New Route!

 As I took a snowy hike last Sunday, I found this little guy that I will come back to clean and climb. There are two options for the first pitch (the right or left dihedral). Then I will move up through that overhanging off width to the top. It should be pretty good and I suspect that there won't be too much loose and dangerous rockfall. The wide bit up top looks like #4's, but I have been wrong before at this distance away. (My eye sight is getting worse and worse every year).
 The views from the hike. The hike started with a totally overcast sky and it cleared out within a half and hour of trudging through the snow and wandering the loose hillside.
 I started with a down jacket on and ended up wearing just a t-shirt and vest!
By the time that I got to the end of my hike, I had no intention of going back the way that I came. I was tired and did not want to get into the shade where the walking was easier. (I actually fell through the ice earlier on the hike and did not want to navigate the edge of the meandering creek again).
So I luckily found a few passages up and out of the canyon and managed to indirectly find the road back to the truck. I did feel lost even though I knew where I needed to go. I was running through the pine forest following deer tracks and rabbit tracks through washes and over the flat terrain. It felt like a movie, all was silent, I was along and just charging through the empty desert. Pretty rad.
Normally after I find a new route, I immediately come back with a helmet and rope and see what the new route is all about. As the winter days get colder and the breeze stays consistent, I find that a         WindX-treme neck gator is my go to article of clothing (that is the red thing on my neck).
Get outside and have an adventure!
piz : )

December 18, 2012

Training with Piz: Systems Board Pinches

In this clip we are doing a repeated move off pinches.
Our feet are fixed in position and we are grabbing a friendly pinch as many times in a row as possible.
The systems board is at 45 degrees overhanging and we are looking to be consistent at getting 100 movements. It is at that point where we can think about adding a weight vest or moving on to another move that we want to improve.
You can do this at any angle if you are beginning and can set a time or a number of repetitions that you want to repeat with each round.
We are doing three reps of our maximum movements after being properly warmed up.
You work your hand strength, core tension, foot placement and body English during this movement, in addition to endurance and stamina. The real benefit comes when you are about to fall off and are able to push through your fatigue and continue doing the movements. It is those moments that assist you in completing your projects and sending routes. Being able to hit the wall and push through is the ultimate goal of this workout.

Now get out there and use your training to have some fun rock climbing!

piz : )

December 11, 2012

Training with Piz: 1 Arm Lock Offs on Systems Board

When you want to simulate being on a route with challenging lock offs, you can utilize an adjustable systems board/finger board/campus board, door frame, rings or whatever you have and recreate the angles that you are climbing on outside and increase your ability by moving towards steeper and steeper angles.

We are doing one arm lock offs with comfortable feet in this video at 65 degrees overhanging.

The point is to build the height that we are reaching for, our core strength and our stamina during the exercise.
We will always have one foot higher than the other.
We will always have the high foot be the same as the hand doing the lock off. Example right hand locking off with right foot on high foot hold.

Advanced types of lock offs are at a steeper angles, use smaller holds/underclimgs/side pulls/slopers/pinches/pockets (whatever). Additionally, you can adjust the foot location to opposite foor high and having extrememly high feet that force your butt to hang away from the wall.
You can incorporate the weight vest.

Hold pose for a time20-40 seconds  and repeat for 3 sets with a 1-2 minute rest in between.
Focus on keeping your hips in tight to the wall, (being twisted and straight on), breathing, and reaching high. Begin these on very comfy holds because you can create instant flappers with poorly designed climbing holds.

Have a spotter if you feel like you may hit the floor upon your max.

Get outside and use your training!!

piz : )

December 7, 2012

Training with Piz: Modified Peter Pans

We call this a modified Peter Pan. (named by the one and only coach Dave Wahl, who taught me what I share with you).

There are many versions that can be created with a systems board and because our systems board is fully adjustable(from 45-90 degrees), we can develop thousands of versions of the movement.

History: The movement is based on doing repetitions on the pinches. Once you are good at a more vertical angle, you can move onto a steeper one and repeat for a set time or number of reps.
We are working grip strength, core, footwork, compression, power endurance and dynamic movement.

Since I am attempting to simulate the movements of a certain route, This configuration of moves came to mind and you are witnessing someone attempting it in the video. We are at 60 degrees overhanging, because I want to first develop the movement and then amp it up into the most difficult version of the movement.

Start at 60 degrees overhung (we will eventually do this at 45 degrees) and cut your feet every time that you match hands on a new hold.
Here we begin on the side pulls, move to the small crimps (cut feet) then back down to the side pulls (cut feet) then up to the pinches (cut feet) and back down to the side pulls (cut feet)
repeat for a time or certain number of reps.

What is great about this is that you can simulate many moves that you may have problems with for all types of climbing.

Now quit training and get outside and have an adventure.

piz : )

December 6, 2012

Training with Piz: Lockoffs on Rings

I will be sharing what we do at the gym while we train in very short video clips. Enjoy

Take note that these will normally be challenging versions of each exercise. I you are trying this at home (or your gym) you should find a way to modify the activity to your level.
That being said, there is always something harder/easier to work on with training.

We do a pull up them lock off one arm and then hold for 5 seconds.
Then we release back into the general two arm pull-up and switch hands for the next lock off.
Try to make it for approx. 40 seconds, rest and do it again. We normally do 4 reps of 40 seconds twice a week. (We do not do it every week, this movement like all of them that I will be sharing get cycled into the training.

As you progress, it is good to decrease the size of the hold until you are on crimps.
You can use a hang board or rings to start off.I like to add the l position when I do it cause it also works the core and legs and back.

piz : )

December 4, 2012

Training with Piz: Where I Train

Lots of folks wonder where it is that I train. It is called the Grand Junction Climbing Center.
As a gym, it has ample bouldering and top ropes/leads, but I feel that its pride and joy is the training opportunities.

The best adventures that you have are the ones in which you come back healthy and safe and injury free. I feel that training and strengthening your weaknesses is the best way to ensure those things.

Twice a week at 5 am, I play on the equipment that is in the video with some friends who enjoy it enough to get up at 4:30 with me.

I am a lucky man that I don't have to do it alone.

Get outside and have an adventure!
piz : )

November 27, 2012

Learning Curve

I had the chance to climb with a long time buddy who was back home visiting his parents for the holidays. Mikey was always a better climber than I was and over the years really began to understand his strengths and weaknesses as a rock wrestler. It was awesome to see him move through the grades over the years on all types of rock routes.

Since I knew that he would be able to have pretty good success on my current project, I invited him to try it out to see how he would do and also what he thought of the line.

On his first effort he reached my highpoint and with a hang or two got to the chains. I was so excited to see him do well on it while at the same time, I felt that I had a long way to go to get to where he was on his first attempt. I know that this type of route is a weakness of mine and that it will take me a monumental effort to send, but for Mikey, he described it at his "dream route" and in his favorite style. His success will certainly come sooner than mine, but I have the luxury of living nearby whereas he has to fly here every once in a while.

I guess the point is not to get worried about who climbs it first, but to look at each climb as a personal challenge, not a competition. I know that had I been in competition with all my climbing partners over the years that I would have quit a long time ago.

We each have our own strengths and weaknesses and must choose routes that inspire us for the looks, style, holds or whatever. It doesn't matter how long it takes to get it done or even if you send it, what matters is the fact that you are climbing it for you and you alone.

 Here Hans Florine talks about his love for the Nose on El Capitan.
Get outside and have an adventure for you and oh, it will be so good!

piz : )

November 15, 2012

Winter Time Climbing

A lot of people ask me whether I climb during the winter months. My response is "Yes, it is the best time for me to climb!" At this point in my life, I am no longer spending every day of the summer living in my truck and on the road. I am no longer striving to repeat other peoples routes and am more obsessed with finding my own lines and cleaning and climbing them.

Summer time presents a problem for the routes that I enjoy establishing. Actually, it is a big problem. In the desert where I live, 90+ degree temperatures will make me sweat which in turn makes me slip off the tiny holds that would otherwise be grippable in cooler temperatures.

So, I have chosen to use the summer months for being project free and the winter months (when it is cold enough to hold onto those slippery nothings) for trying really hard on new routes.

That being said, my training over the summer is more maintenance or focused on my weaknesses overall, whereas my fall/winter training is specific to the difficulties of the new climb that I will throw myself at until I send. I am in that training zone currently, where my project consists of thin overhanging tips lie backing with an occasional shallow pinkie jam.

My goals for this training cycle are the following:
  1. to gain the power necessary to continue the tips lie backing the entire length of the route,
  2. to gain the core strength necessary to stay aligned,
  3. to improve my crimp strength,
  4. to improve my cardio, so that I am not out of breath while climbing.
They seem pretty reasonable considering what I have done to climb other routes in the past. As always, I know that it takes drive, absolute focus and passion for the climb in order to follow through on the training for me to achieve these goals. I also realize that it will take me weeks of working the route combined with weeks of training, good sleep habits and a healthy diet to see the final goal come to fruition. The process is slow and constantly an uphill battle, but it is one that I love giving myself to. I look forward to having to overcome the mind games that come along with a journey such as this to the day that I send this rig that I am calling "Get in the Ring."

Thank Andrew Burr for his beautiful photos of me in Yosemite.
Get outside and have an adventure!

piz : )

November 7, 2012

Training with Piz: If your not falling, the route is too easy!

This Keith Ladzinski photo was taking in Joshua Tree National Park I don't know how many years ago. But I wanted to share it because we need to be reminded that all of us fall while climbing (maybe except for Adam Ondra). Especially me. Through those falls and working through cruxes, we gain problem solving confidence and a positive attitude that we can achieve our goals. Through falling (if we listen carefully) we learn the sequences and the skills required to complete each challenge. Through falling we learn how to send!

piz : )

November 2, 2012

Ready to Rock and Inspire!

It's that time again, the temperatures are cooling off, my fitness level is increasing and my ambition is high (well higher than the normal high that it usually exists at), yeah it's time to project.

Projecting is when you choose a route that you want to climb without falling, even though it might feel extremely difficult the first time or two or ten!. Projecting is about learning and rehearsing the moves and eventually leading the climb and doing them all together in perfect harmony. A project is completed when you lead without falling and clip the anchors without weighting any piece of protection during the ascent. A project might take three efforts and it might take thirty, what is important is that you choose a route that you love climbing on. That way each and every time you are climbing on it you are excited and motivated.

Years ago, when I was honing my skills as a rock/crack climber, my weekends would consist of visiting Rifle, Shelf Road, Rocky Mountain National Park, Clear Creek Canyon, Indian Creek, Zion, the Black Canyon and the solitude of desert towers and getting in as many pitches as I could. I sought out days where I started at dawn and ended after dark. If I didn't get 20+ pitches in where ever I was climbing, it was a wasted effort and I wasn't pushing myself hard enough.

From that desire to learn new skills and hone techniques, I became a competent climber on all types of rock and styles and ventured out to the big wall venue where I could apply all that I had trained for. It was incredible to be able to free climb long routes with all kinds of challenges in a day and not fall. I was loving it.

Now that my goals have changed again, I still love pitching it out, still love climbing big walls, but I have now focused on climbing aesthetic single pitch lines that have never been climbed before. Often times I need to project the climb because it's a weakness of mine or because it's just too difficult. My climbing road has brought me to that place once again and this fall/winter I will be working for another first free ascent in the desert near my home.

After the first day or two on the route I felt confident that I could do it but knew that it would take a real effort. It would take focusing on my lock-off and crimp strength and power endurance. The  eighty foot line that only got harder and harder as I climbed higher and higher was going to take me a new effort where I had to raise the bar.

What will that look like?
 Frank Zappa Appreciation Society ffa
 Arcturus ffa
 Army of Darkness ffa
 Aqualung ffa
 some indian creek thing (repeat)
 Dunn Route ffa
 Walking on Water ffa
Spec One ffa
I will focus my two days a week of circuit training on powerful movements and perfect execution. I will work on my crimps and lock-offs on my climbing specific day. With a little running and rest and one day a week on the climb itself, I will prepare and eventually complete this climb.

Get outside and climb!

piz : )

November 1, 2012


     After all the traveling over the past month and a half, I am happily settled back into my regular routine.
     I get to be with my family all the time, be around western Colorado on the weekends, I get to train Tuesday-Thursday with my friends at the Grand Junction Climbing Center and actually catch up and develop new curriculum at work.
     There is something great about loving where you live. I don't have to travel far to enjoy the outdoors, nor do I have to sit in traffic. There are tons of folks who are psyched on doing everything from reading to climbing to cooking to building to giving back. I really feel like this is the place to be.
     Finally, I am excited that I have found a new project to invest my time and energy into and feel like it will work my weaknesses in climbing. Cheers to a new journey and some more hard work.

Get outside and have an adventure

piz : )

October 17, 2012

International Climbers Meet via the American Alpine Club at Yosemite National Park

 We all rolled in on Oct 7 and were pleased to see that the catering was already there. At the meet, all meals were taken care of and were delicious!
 Any food must be kept in the bear boxes!
 Sherpa's from Mt. Everest greeted us with gifts and shared some experiences with us.
 Everyone came to see and hopefully get on top of the Captain! This is the view from the East Buttress of El Cap.
 Day one: cragging at the Cookie Cliff
 Steve A laying down the law. from Mass. USA
 Jane and Kang from China
 Some Danish climbers!
 Jeff climbing on the Cookie Cliff
Another classic at the Cookie.

Get outside and have an adventure!

piz : )

October 4, 2012

Idaho Mountain Festival (City of Rocks)

 On the way we stopped in Salt Lake City to see our friend's the Burrs and Rowan got down to business in their car.
 Sierra was willing to share her toys with while while we ate dinner.
 Then in the morning we arrived at the Castle Rock State Park which is right next to the City of Rocks! Beautiful.
 Again, let the boy out of the truck and he is on it.
 After teaching an Intro to Trad course to 25 people we went climbing with Jesse, Jen and Chandler.
 I only got to climb a few pitches but they were really nice and well protected.
 More views of the park.
 Rowan and I playing at the festival headquarters/campground.
 The food was taken care of (not lunches) and it was delicious and there was a band, movies and slide shows along with tons of gear give aways! I was one of the presenters and we had a good time as I told stories and ultimately made fun of myself a lot.
 Jane taking a morning stroll through the park.
 There are tents and then there are tents. Big Agnes knows tents. This was our home for the weekend.
 Me giving one of my clinics.
 Rowan gets into all kinds of trouble when he has a whole park to play in.
Rowan waking up the last morning of the event. He was a happy camper!
Get outside and have an adventure and take advantage of the events that are organized. Between the clinics and the presenters and the people and the climbing, you will have a great time!
piz : )

October 3, 2012

The Chalk of Destiny

 A few months back I bolted and cleaned a two pitch crack and face route in Unaweep. The Chalk of Destiny is 5.10 to 5.11+ in its two pitches. First one gear next mixed.
I finally got to climb on it after work for 2 hours this week! Whew. With three runs on it, we were able to free the techy thin face and crack route. Here are a couple of photos of Ben and I as the sun set.
 My gear at the belay
 You know what I am saying, "AHHHH YEAHHHH!"
 Ben gastoning to get to the next grips at the start of the pitch
 Ben making the lunge to the sloper from a crappy fist jam.
 Perfect finger locks on this one.
Ben making the transition from the thin face crux to the nice crack!

Get outside and have an adventure!

piz : )