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 : )