14 December 2010

J-Tree Special Offer

Just in time for the holiday season, Joshua Tree Products is having a special J-Tree/AJ deal!
Type in the promo code "ALEX" to recieve 25% off your order!
J-Tree products are 100% organic and they really work.
The healing salve is great for raw skin and split tips after a long day of climbing, and the lip balm is perfect protection from the sun while it soothes and hydrates.
Take advantage of this great offer now!!
My favorite lip balm flavor is Mountain Mint with SPF 18+.

09 December 2010

Thanksgiving in Europe

I spent the remainder of the month of November in Austria on what was intended to be a climbing trip. After the IMS competition in Italy, myself, Anna, Kilian, Nalle, Chuck and Nelson made our way back to Innsbrooklyn. Chuck and Nelson were in town to shoot for part of CF Films' upcoming flick "The Scene," a film about the four Grand Central Station areas for climbing across the globe: Boulder, Moab, Spain and Innsbruck. In true tourist fashion, Chuck bought a beaver hat, and never took it off for the entirety of his stay.

The weather all over the globe for the upcoming weeks had taken a turn for the worse, and it looked to stay that way... for the remaining three weeks I was there. There wasn't a place within an 8 hour radius with sunshine.
We made the best use of our time in Innsbruck with hiking, biking, the hot springs at the Aqua Dome, and the Kriskindlmarkt (the "Christmas Market") where the drink of choice was gluhwine, the delicious alcoholic version of a hot wine cider.


What little climbing we were able to get in between bursts of rain and snowstorms was spectacular. Anna and I got sunshine-lucky one weekend and headed down to the Arco area, where the climbing was unique and the views of Lake Garda were beautiful.

Our first day in Arco we went star chasing in Nomesino, an incredible place recommended by Anna's father. The wall was big and beautiful, standing in blue and gold streaks at 30 meters (98 feet) in height. The climbs were long and pumpy! But every route we did was worth five*****stars.

After our stellar star-chasing day in Nomesino, we decided to head to an area famous for it's incredible view: Belvedere. It definitely lived up to the hype. It was hard to keep focused on the rock, my eyes kept wanting to gaze out at the gorgeous lake.

After Arco we went back to Innsbruck and the fun really began. What ended up being the highlight of this trip for me wasn't what happened in the sunshine, but what happened in the snow.
Down in the city it could be a gloomy, drizzly day... but high up on the peaks of the Austrian Alps the sun shines clear and bright. And the skiing is magnificent! Who knew that all you had to do was climb out of the fog to reach the sunny slopes and blue skies? (Well everybody in Austria knows, they ski all the time.) But it was a wonderful surprise for me!

As a non-skier, the fresh powder definitely took some getting used to, but the views were something I could stare at forever. I had never seen anything like what I saw on those pists; bright snow-covered mountain tops peeking out through the clouds that were blanketing the city below. What a sight! Needless to say, my climbing-turned-skiing trip to Austria has anchored a new passion in me, opening my eyes to a whole new world of extreme to get excited about.

My last night in Austria also happened to be Thanksgiving. As a departure celebration (they were celebrating...) I made a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner. I'm definitely not known across Europe for my cooking skills, but the consensus was that my dinner was delicious and I was very pleased. It's a lot of pressure trying to cook something classic for people with high expectations and mastery chef skills. But I succeeded!

Next stop: the Carribean!

18 November 2010

International Mountain Summit: Brixen, Italy

Just a mini update and a couple photos from the IMS event held on November 6th. It was a really fun and relaxed competition with super boulder problems, a good crew, and an energetic crowd. More to come soon!! In the mean time, check out this great article written by Rudi Moroder on his blog: http://rudimoroder.blogspot.com/2010/11/ims-boulder-festival-finals.html.

Photos by Alex Kahn with 27crags.com

31 October 2010

Back to Europe!

Happy Halloween!
Tomorrow I'm making a much anticipated return to Europe to attend the International Mountain Summit Event in Brixen, Italy with Kilian Fischhuber, Anna Stohr, and Nalle Hukkataival.
I'll also be staying for three weeks afterwards to finally experience the famous Swiss bouldering I've heard so much about with Anna. Our adventures will include a Mammut photo shoot/ interview, and a fun photo shoot with photographer Stefan Schlumpf in Zurich.
My trip to Colorado last week was awesome, but I've been going pretty crazy sitting in Wisconsin and I can't wait to get back overseas to rock climb and drink cappucinos!

19 October 2010

The Biggest Backyard Bouldering Comp... Ever!

The first annual Minnesota Bouldering Co-Op Competition took place last Saturday on the biggest home woody in the country. The outdoor wall was built by Kris and Lynn Johnson, who are also among the founding members of the Co-Op.

A space has been chosen for the new gym, and most of the dirty work has already been taken care of. The competition was held to raise funds to help pay for the remaining legal work that must be completed. You can find out more about the Minnesota Climbing Co-Op here.

Over 80 people came with their crashpads to climb, eat, hang out and show their support for the new local business.

The competition format was simple and flawless. The problems were set at various difficulties and numbered 1-30. After you finished a problem, you walked over to the scoring table and drew a poker chip out of a bowl. There were many chips all numbered 1-15. Whatever the number was on your chip was your score for the boulder problem. Competitors then put the chips back into the bucket and headed back to the wall. The strategy was clear--the more boulder problems you did, the better your odds of drawing high numbers. With the format the way it was, it encouraged people to climb as much as they could. The competition officially began at 1pm, and motivation was so high that it carried on into the night.

Along with being a bouldering competition, this event was also a costume competition. At the end of the day, when everyone turned in their scorecards, they also voted for "best costume." We had appearances from Batman, Gumby, Raggedy Ann, Michael Meyers, a Ninja Turtle, and a baby Clydesaurus Rex, but in the end we had to give it to the chicken!

All Photos by Mike Simon

During the day while the comp was going on, Fritz and I hosted a Five Ten shoe demo, showing off the new Quantums, Blue Team Shoes, and the Women's Anasazi. It was a huge success! Every pair of Quantums we had were out on the wall the entire day. Overall consensus: two thumbs up! The Midwest approves.

The backyard bouldering fundraiser was a ton of fun, and it helped raise money and awareness about the new Minnesota Bouldering Co-Op, which is planning its Grand Opening in January 2011. It's nice to hang out with friends and get some quality climbing time, which is exactly what this next week will be all about; tonight I fly to Colorado.

15 October 2010

Autumn in Wisconsin

Being at home this fall, I've been trying to make the best use of my time.
Last week when the river flooded into town, Fritz, my brother and I ventured down with our kayaks and spent the afternoon paddling around between park benches, picnic tables, lamp posts and trash cans.
I considered it to be a very successful day in my "professional climber" lifestyle.
Basically I ain't been doin' much.
Traveling the world has made me a bit spoiled, and--dare I say--snobbish, about in which areas I choose to climb.
I have lived in Hudson, Wisconsin for 21 years. (Minus the couple of years spent in Colorado.)
Willow River State Park has existed in Hudson for... let's just say, much longer than 21 years. 

For some reason, this fall has been my first season climbing at Willow.
And I have loved every chossy second of it!
Willow Falls is the choice destination for steep, powerful climbing around the midwest.

It also happens to be the number one location for Hudson High School students to have their senior photos taken. You can see why!

I had previously misjudged Willow, categorizing it as "a chossy pile of crap," among other stereotypes.
While the limestone isn't the most solid rock I've laid my paws on, the climbing is anything but crappy.
Most of the routes in the overhanging cave are long and pumpy, with big, dynamic moves between unique holds, from crimpy edges, to deep huecos, cracks, envelope slots, monos, and even a horn resembling Gonzo's nose.

The grades range from 5.10 up to 5.14a/b, so there are plenty of routes for everybody.
Directions, beta, and rules for climbing at Willow River State Park can be found in the brand new Willow Guidebook written by Jeff Engel, Anthony Vicino and Ryan Angelo. But until you pick up your own copy, here's a list of my top five favorite routes:

1. Natural Selection 5.12c
2. Hurtful Pleasures 5.13a
3. Couch Time 5.13a
4. Tsunami 5.12d/13a
5. Middle Cyclone 5.12d

The park is dog friendly! But there are strict leash rules that can result in a hefty fine. It's great to be able to bring Fritz climbing with me,  but sometimes trying to belay when you own a lapdog can be a little complicated...

My season at Willow will be ending very soon as I'm heading back to Europe on November first. I have to admit this makes me a little sad, and I'm actually looking forward to climbing here next year. It may not be the Red River Gorge, but what were you expecting? It's Wisconsin!

10 October 2010

Climber's Wish List

I've recently been thinking of all the fabulous things I own that I think everyone should have.
Now, I'm not Oprah. I can't give away a thousand brand-new cars. (Or ropes.)
You're probably going to have to pay for these things.
What I'm saying is that these items will be money very well spent.

Item #1. Trion Guide 45+ Alpine Backpack from Mammut
This pack was recently voted "Toughest" by Backpacking Magazine. It's a great all-around pack with very comfortable padded straps and waist belt. You'd be surprised how much you can stuff into this thing. Comes in blue or black.

Item #2. Infinity 9.5mm 70m Rope from Mammut
Extremely high performing, durable, lightweight dynamic rope. Really great for lead climbing. Comes in orange or blue. The rope bag rocks, also.

Item #3. FiveTennie Approach Shoe from Five Ten
This is my all-time favorite Five Ten approach shoe. It's a comfortable, very lightweight sneaker with a super-sticky Stealth sole. It does not have the appearance of a hiking shoe, and is cool and relaxed-looking enough to wear out and around the town as an everyday tennie.

Item #4. Quantum Climbing Shoe from Five Ten

This is the best climbing shoe I have ever worn. Angie Payne, the first girl in the world to ever climb the boulder grade of V13, strongly agrees.
This shoe combines the secure "Magic Fingers" heel cup best known on the Anasazi line, a high, tight-fitting arch, and a downturned toe last similar to the famous Dragon, but slightly less aggressive. The medium softness of the rubber allows for very powerful downward pulling. The black stripes are actually a very thin paint-like material that is surprisingly sticky, allowing for stable toe hooks and also a cool finished look. And who doesn't like the color purple?

Item #5. Lodo Sunglasses from Native Eyewear
These are my favorite sunglasses. I look really good in them!

They have a very secure nose-piece grip, and I like the narrow frame style. One of Native's most notorious technologies is the ventilation system on their shades. Don't you hate it when you start to sweat and your glasses fog up? That doesn't happen with Natives. They also come in a variety of frame and lense colors.

Item #6. Wazee Sunglasses from Native Eyewear
These are my mother's favorite sunglasses. Could you imagine owning a Yugo and then upgrading to a Bimmer? That's what getting your first pair of Native Sunglasses is like. The quality is outstanding, and once you have experienced the difference you'll never go back.

Item #7. Healing Salves from Joshua Tree Products

All Joshua Tree Products are made with natural organic ingredients. They're designed to help speed up the healing process of minor cuts, burns, scrapes, blisters, sun burn, etc. When I get raw fingertips from climbing all day, my ability to grab sharp rock again the very next day is because of JTree Salve. The Salve is now also directed towards new markets such as surfers, kayakers, cyclers, musicians and even pet paws.

Item #8. Lip Balm from Joshua Tree Products

Lip Balm is something I never leave home without. My favorite JTree Lip Balm when I'm out climbing, kayaking, and running is Mountain Mint with SPF 18+. But my favorite JTree Lip Balm when I'm in the city and out with friends is Desert Shimmers Cholla. The Desert Shimmers Collection has the same healing action as the standard lip balm, but adds a little flair with three unique, shimmery colors.

There you have it! The Climber's Wish List for 2010-2011; my most highly recommended toys.
Just in time to start your Christmas shopping!
Stay tuned for more great products reviews coming soon!