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!

09 October 2010

In The News

St. Paul's very own Youth Climbing Team Coach Tyler Hoffart has a full page photo in the new Rock & Ice Gear Guide Magazine! The photo is part of the 3rd Annual Mammut Photo Contest.

08 October 2010

UBC Nor'Easter Video

Check out this cool highlight video from the Unified Bouldering Championships Nor'Easter Competition!

The final comp stop on the Pro Bouldering Tour took place at the Nor'Easter Music Festival on Loon Mountain in Lincoln, NH.
The footage was shot by my good friend Pablo Durana and the NE2C crew.

Day One!

This is my new blog! I am excited to play around with it and document all my crazy life adventures. Enjoy!