Monday, March 9, 2015

Season of the Nemesis

Tis the season. I returned home from my travels a bit burned out, indecisive and, overall, confused for a plan. I had no job and more funds for further trips. I just could not decide what I should do. Where should I go? I went with my instincts. My instincts were to stay put and wait. Wait for what? I didn't know. I began to observe my surrounding a bit closer and realized that here I was home, in Lake Tahoe, in February, and there was NO SNOW. It's not everyday here that you get these kind of perfect conditions, unless you were talking about now. Upon seeing this ( please click it), I became inspired to do what I always used to do when I didn't know what to do.....project march! I thought about all the bullys ( bullshit nemesis boulder projects). I thought of all the ones I left behind, wrote off, said "f***-It". The list instantly entered my head. I had to tackle them my way, one at a time. No expectations. Just back to be honed in on a desire.
Number one on the list  -  Many names for this one but the most accepted is Eminently Climbable.
                                                   photo by Von Perry Photography

               In 2003 Scott Mitchell and Mike Reeves took me to this amazing crimper project with an incredible position on Echo Summit. The project was bullet proof rock, hard tick tacks, with a bastard top out. In 2003, we could not get off the ground on any of the positions in the lower moves. At the time we were all climbing about v8/9/10, so we tried the top out. After 4 days of efforts we all wrote the problem off as impossible. Thus this project was dubbed The Impossible Dream. Scott and Mike eventually moved away and left me with a slew of projects like this one. I kept trying, and trying , and trying and trying and eventually gave up. After all it was.....f*******g impossible. I let it be and was easily distracted by Tahoe's other untapped (more possible) potential. Fast forward, last year (maybe one before). My buddy tells me he sent Impossible Dream , from the sit and that it was v4???WTF. He named it Eminently Climbable ( a slight to the projects name). Another season went with no send. Then pics and word came of the legendary Fred Nicole entering our Tahoe atmosphere to sample some local goods. While here, Fred and his brother did a number of great climbs. One of them being, Eminently Climbable. Eventually we believed in the Impossible Dream and another send was done by local Dustin Sabo. I honed in this winter and eventually did a night send ( in February) SEND ( FINALLY!) of ...the Impossible Dream aka Eminently Climbably aka The Frank Nicole. The grade, whatever you want apparently....v4, v8, v8/9 , v11, v11/12. For me, never gonna forget it. Statement of the Obvious.....I was happy to do this one.

There I was on a frickin' roll. By roll I mean one, but it was a big un'. I could not believe that I finally sent it. That was cool enough for me. Typical boulderer who just sent a major proj....what do I try next. I dug deep to my darkest fears and this looming nemesis came to mind.
                      Hyperion ( the actual stick crux in the send shot from Von Perry Photography

In the ye ol' days of Erratica blahs blahs blah. Most locals know of Party Animal. That one is my baby. My hard problem which might not be too hard :). Not sure on that one, but I can promise that this one is one of my personal hardest. In the background there was always this leftward version of Party Animal that was originally projected and envisioned by Brian Arnold, that's right Ninja Warrior Brian Arnold. He named the project Hyperion. I remember it being a Sci Fi thing. I was outta the loop. Brian did not send in time despite being very close. Instead the gold later went to Scott Chandler. I believe that he sent Hyperion the day after I did the FA of Party Animal. Scott graded it v7/8. Holy S***! I suck! The reachy beta that short cutted the Party Animal move was about as inconsistent for me ( 5 ft tall) as dunking a basketball. I was stumped for years. Over time Hyperion was repeated by several such as MZ, MH, and GW ( fun game, guess who, hint:all Americans) and possibly more. GW, spoiler alert, Griffin Whiteside gave me some beta that was so simple yet so genius. Go right hand first! How did I never come up with that? Made so much sense. Why was not important. Now, I knew I could finally put this one down. I ironed out the details and refreshed my muscle memory on all the moves and went for another night sesh in February. With Brad Perry trying to hold his camera steady despite shaking from the cold air, I gave it hell. Somehow, he caught the actual stick of the crux in this great picture. After sticking that move, I had to keep my shit together through the v7ish exit moves. Even though my greasy tips were clinging by a thread, I guess the bouldering gods decided that I'd tried this for long enough, it was time to stand on top of this bastard. I remember feeling this rush. When you boulder like I do on projects like this, you know you can do it but you can't time it. When it finally happens it feels like you just knocked out Tyson when everyone told you it was impossible. I usually scream obscenities and sound borderline angry on the tops of these things. But, despite the intensity, it is all joy. I went home that night and drank a lot of frickin' beer. A celebration was in order.

      After those two, I felt like I was psyched for the whole month. I relaxed. I took a job that would last about a week. I focused on working and training a little. When the work slowed, I got anxious. I thought, what else has been hanging over my head. The next one stuck out like a sore thumb.
     Years ago, babablallallahahhahahaa. LOST IN SPACE. Space Race v7 (sandbagged ) sits right next to the area favorite Space Cowboy. The sit project was always looming over everyone as something that was begging to be done. It would be one of the toughest in the area. I began attacking this thing. All of my efforts were thwarted by the greasy, sharp pinches on this rig. Having the sweatiest hands I've seen doesn't help on this one. Dry skin and vice-grip forearm power is a must. It alluded me. Eventually I lost interest. Later I would hear that the first ascent was done by three different people at three different times. First, I heard, a kid no one heard of came up from the Bay and did the FA in 80 degree heat and called it v10! Sounds like bullshit but whatever. 6 months later I heard of the 2nd "FA" done by Joel at v11. Years later I hear that Randy did it first. It's cool it got done. Who did it first? I don't know and it doesn't matter. I wanted my turn and that's all I knew.
      I decided it was time to return to this one. It felt exactly how I remembered it. F***** up! Spiky pinches coated in bacon grease. If you can do 4 heinous moves then you only have to do a sandbag v7. So simple yet so messed up. Day one back on it this year went like crap (normal actually). Something told me to hit it the 2nd day in better conditions so I waited until dusk. Every 10 minutes I rested landed me to another high point. I had never got past the 2nd move. Then, I did 3 moves, then greased off. AHHH. 10 minutes later, it was a little colder. I got to the 4th move and greased off the last v7 move. Did I miss my chance? Sometimes, you get really close and then don't get there again for a while. 10 minutes later, it was colder. This time it was finally cold enough to not grease anymore. After 3 years of being worked over by this thing, I finally did it.
                   The day before the send. Space Race Sit photo by  Von Perry Photography

        Inspiration can spark fires that begin as a small flame, but they can burn very hot when fueled properly. This is my life I suppose. One problem at a time. I love how these things motivate me and get me all jazzed up. It's so overwhelming that I don't know how to handle it other than to make sure that through all of it the most important thing is to keep moving forward. Then the question, what is next? Plenty.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Lower Right Corner

       It's been a very cool couple of months traveling non-stop. Starting in September I did 6 weeks in Switzerland, home for 6 days, 8 weeks in the Southeast, home for 36 hours, and then just returned from an 11 day loop tour through Utah and Nevada. As usual there's always too much to write about in these blogs.
     The Southeast part of my trip was maybe my favorite ever. Kenyon Smith and I got some of the best conditions this season. We decided to take advantage of the situation and did our best to send as many great things as possible. We mainly spent time at three zones this season: Rocktown, Chattanooga, and Gadsden.  Even though I've spent a lot of time climbing here I still got to see so many climbs that were new to me.  Complete with jigsaw puzzles, a trip to the Aquarium, Big River Brewery, Moonlight Bistro, ICB, lefts to right, and rights to left. What a great time. It's been a little while since I posted a little bouldering edit so here's another one of my time down south. For the title of the video, there was much debate on how to title a southeast video without using the word "south" or "east". Hence, The Lower Right Corner.

Hopefully everyone enjoys this little piece. After the south, I came home for a day before hitting the road again with Brad Perry. I've never done so much in this short amount of time. The first stop was the town of Goldfield, NV. Here we visited the creepy roadside attraction Goldfield Cemetery. We chilled here for the sunset and absorbed the spooky atmosphere of this historic place. At the 5 hour mark this was a great way to break up the drive.

Next was Vegas Baby! We checked into the Red Rocks campground and went to a few zones over the next 4 days. At the Kraft boulders, I got to do the famous historic problems The Pearl and Monkey Bar. These have been on my list for a while and I was psyched to do them. Other problems I liked were Timmy's, Monkey Bar Direct ( could not do it), Alexisizer, Put Your Shoes On Arete, and Progressive Guy ( also could not do it). What an awesome place to finally see. A little crowded but that's expected of a cool place like this one.

The other 2 areas we went to were Willow Springs and Oak Creek Canyon. Willow was an easy to find and secluded area. Here I got to do the awesome v10 Ride the White Horse. This crazy slopey lip traverse sits in a wash and is a sloper and tension masterpiece. Absolutely love it. Doesn't hurt to be short on this one and that's rare. At Oak Creek, times were tougher. We completely underestimated the hike and got a little confused/turned around/took-3hours-to-find-the-boulders. It was epic. With all our gear we scrambled up a steep wash looking for anything with chalk on it. At the 3 hour mark, we were on our way down, giving up when we stumbled on the problem Get Burnt. We used what little time we had left to take this one down. Wow, what a move. Hard to find this area but if you like seclusion and a good walk, then this is a cool spot.

Next was Saint George. It was all about meeting up with friends and locals and just taking it easy. We cruised the area for a day and did some repeats of the easier and moderate problems. Although I did have a quick repeat of Bazooka Tooth using the crazy beta of climbing it belly down. This method really works out your opposing muscles for climbing as you end up pushing your way up the climb.

After Moe's, we headed to Salt Lake City to go to the OR Trade Show. I had never been to one but it was an interesting experience for sure. The trade show was a bit overwhelming. There are company booths everywhere. Free stickers, free cuzies, free food samples, sometimes even free beer. That part is very fun. Not to mention that you can check out all the latest gear from the best companies. While there I got to meet up in person with the two companies that sponsor me. Metolius Climbing and Evolv have been my gear sponsors for many years. I've been very happy to represent the companies that have my favorite tools for bouldering. The Metolius Recon pad is my all time favorite and Evolv is making better and better shoes every year. Anyone who hasn't checked out the Nexxo's
Check em! This is one of the great ones. Downturned, love bump, lots of rubber on the toe, a heel hook that doesn't slip. A one of kind weapon for destroying your project!

After Salt Lake City, Joe's Valley was next on the list. We had plans of staying a few days, but issues back home had us leaving early to do some TCB. Our time in Joe's didn't consist of too much bouldering but we definitely took advantage of the world's most delicious donuts from the Orangeville Food Ranch. After gaining a few pounds of sheer pastry power, we headed back to South Lake Tahoe to regroup.  Over 5 months of straight travel have passed me by once again. Now I'm home again to decompress and plan the next great adventure. So much opportunity in front of me creates stress for a heavy decision. More travel, job, a change. This is how life goes.  I have the highest hopes for what lies ahead.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Southeast Shape Up

         I'm still kicking it here in the Southeast.  Most of my time has been spent training and keeping a better diet. I've been dropping some fat and climbing up some cool rocks. The Southeast sandstone was the first rock I ever touched when I was 18. To this day it is still one of my favorite places to visit for bouldering. While here, I've been checking out some of my old favorites like Rocktown, and checking out some areas I've not been to before. These are mainly the Hospital Boulders of Gadsden, Alabama and some of the satellite areas around Chattanooga, Tennessee. Extra psyche always comes from experiencing a new zone, making new goals, and achieving them....or getting close. The Hospital Boulders are awesome. Even though it is not the biggest area it certainly has its share of gems. We've been putting in the time to work through some excellent problems.
        In addition to training and climbing, I've been working on another little video edit cause that's what I do. I'm usually hit or miss on whether or not I make a video of a certain trip or experience. Sometimes it's nice to leave the camera in the bag and just have fun, i.e. my Swiss trip.  Here in the South, however, I've decided not to be so lazy this time and make use of the camera and laptop since I lugged it all the way here. With the help of Kenyon Smith, I've been getting some good footage of some great southern boulder problems. Working on the edit has been a productive way to pass the time on the rainy days. It should be a fun video to watch for anyone trying to get amped on a southeast trip. It should be uploaded around mid January. Until then, hopefully everyone is having a good winter and staying injury free.

                                         screen grab from southeast video edit

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Recovering in Alabama

      After a big climbing trip, my body can feel pretty wrecked. Upon returning from Switzerland I can home with a few souvenirs. I gained about 10 lbs of weight in Europe, much thanks to the affordability of the world's best chocolate and maybe the cheapest 6 pack of beer I've ever seen. Also, came home with a little elbow tendonitis. It is pretty standard to come back with a few bumps and bruises, and the body must heal before the next adventure. That's what I've been up to.
    Now I'm in the southeast USA again. I've been doing a little work for my parents, healing my tendonitis through rehab, catching up on resistance training, and getting ready for the next journey. It's a bonus that I get to do it here in the south which has some of the best sandstone around. The main areas that I've been cycling through are Rocktown, Citadel, Hospital Boulders, etc. The list of projects for me is growing everyday. I'm mainly focusing on mileage at the moment but have ticked a few good moderates while here, including the Iron Claw sit start. I had never done this line before but it was truly stellar. It has perfect compression with big moves. It also has one of the coolest pinches I've seen.  It's been great getting my bearings in this great sandstone dreamworld.
    The rock out here is getting me ready for the next adventure, which will be a two week trip through the west with my buddy Brad Perry. We'll be going through Vegas, Moe's, Joe's, Salt Lake City, and then Ibex. Utah is in the cards for January. I hope for good weather and good sending mojo.
I can't wait.
                                          Iron Claw Sit; Rocktown, Georgia.   Photo by Kenyon Smith

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Switzerland, realizations

                                                                       My home in Chironico. The Fiat Panda

A person can learn a lot about themselves through different experiences in life. Travel, relationships, achievements and failures all play an important role for development. I’m no different I suppose. I recently went on a trip to Switzerland, a place I had always dreamed of going. Before the trip, I had spent 11 weeks training harder than I ever had for bouldering. Hard problems usually take me a long time to complete if I’m not prepared. I tried to offset this normality by prepping my body and mind to send the climbs I always craved  when I watched those videos of my heroes on these amazing rocks amidst the old world setting of the Swiss Alps. I felt pretty confident going into the trip that I was in the best shape of my life and ready to take down my hardest climbs ever with the quickness. What I took from the trip was beyond my expectation but perhaps had not much to do with rock climbing. I got to take a good look at who I am as a person and a climber. I’ll start with the facts. Grade-wise, sending-wise, this trip is not going to impress anyone. I did many problems from 7a to 7c. I had a typical epic trying to send Unendliche Geschicte 1. This climb, which is the first part of the Never Ending Story took me 11 days, over the span of 2 weeks to complete. In my personal style, I fell at the last move 46 times in the link before a beta change got me a victory send. The send was on the last day and last try before a snowstorm blew in and shut down Magic Wood for my trip. Afterwards I visited the Chironico area in Ticino. I mean, I don’t even know what to say about Switzerland. I had such high expectations and they were exceeded further than I could ever imagine. Giant and majestic mountain ranges shrouded in waterfalls and striped cliffs were everywhere. The rock is very quality, the lines are aesthetic and inspiring. The food is great. People are very kind and very smart. The villages are very old world. Entire towns are made of real stone. The streets, homes, roof tops. Old fountains run water that you drink from everywhere. Wandering these paths left me feeling like I was walking in another time. To say that I was in awe would be an understatement. I always wanted to see this place and never thought it would happen, but here I was, right in the middle of a dream. On this trip, I came to some serious realizations about who I am and what I do. In the beginning of the trip, I felt like a typical obsessed boulderer. I just really wanted to send those high numbers. I wanted to perform well. I wanted to live up to everyone’s expectation. Mine, my sponsors, my onlookers. When this didn’t happen right away I found myself landing in depressing state. I felt like I failed on the trip. I didn’t prepare enough, I didn’t train hard enough. As a boulderer who focuses on goals and projects, it can tend to take me to a dark side. It is here that I find myself trapped in a black hole where everything feels like a disappointment. At the start of this trip, this is where I was. Wondering what I was doing out here. Waking up everyday cold and wet. I wanted to quit, go home, be a normal person. This feeling set in like a dark cloud. Then I started walking through the forest. I looked around at where I was. I realized what I had done with my life. All the beautiful places I had been, all the great people I got to connect with, and all the adversities that I had overcome. I stopped, laid down and stared at a blue sky with clouds moving over me so fast. Then I smiled and laughed at myself. All the good things about my life were realized in this moment. The experience I have being a traveler and a boulderer is so great. Comparing myself to others or thinking that climbing hard equals happiness were foolish thoughts to have. For me, in climbing there is something much deeper going on. It’s the place where we drift further away from our comfort zone and draw closer to something special.  I thought back to a time many years ago when I saw rock for the first time. I was just a clueless kid walking in a forest of giants that had been there centuries before I showed up. I thought back to this time when I just roamed around til I saw something that drew me in. The climbs had no names, no grades, no stars. They were simply what I wanted to scramble at that particular moment. That feeling, that’s a good thing. Remembering this time was great. I got back there again. We get lost over time. I listen everyday to people talk about “ this problem is cooler than that one”, or “ that guys not that strong”. I hear people playing favorites, downgrading, bagging on everything. I realize now that I am nothing like those people. Bouldering has a much deeper meaning for me. I can’t describe it really. When I climb, I feel like I’m in a bubble. It has a very religious feeling. As if I’m doing a dance that pays respect to these large god-like objects that have brought so much joy and meaning to my life. It’s a true passion. An undying love. On this trip, eventually I realized that this is who I am. I can’t be too pious about it I suppose. On the surface, I do strive to challenge myself by doing hard climbs, I make videos, I have an account and sponsors. But, this deeper facet is why I do this. When I imagine the perfect day of climbing for me, I close my eyes, hear beautiful music and imagine myself walking alone through a forest. When the wind blows, leaves fall from the trees, filling the terrain with an array of decorative colors. I walk and walk and walk, and then I see it. That rock that stops me in my tracks. I smile and know that it’s time. This is a very sacred practice to me. My new goal as a boulderer is to always keep this close to my heart where it belongs. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Welcome to the Future

I'm in Switzerland, doing my thing, having an epic through one problem at a time, when low and behold I saw this. Working with these guys was a real pleasure and it is awesome to see how it came together.

Time In The Pines: Welcome To The Future from Deep Roots Media - Dane Henry on Vimeo.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Swiss Bound

Ever since I saw that old Dosage with Dave Graham in Switzerland, I always knew that I wanted to go there. I'm a real sucker for magical scenery and that place looks like it has the goods. Since then I have seen so many more videos of this beautiful country. Can't get over how cool it looks. Well, now I'm packed and ready to go. In a few hours I shove off for my first European adventure. Going solo. My focus??/ hmmmm GGG I'm not sure...uh .....BOULDERING!!! So much to do, so little time. My first stop, I was thinking some place magical, maybe in the woods....hmmm ;). I'll come up with something I'm sure. As you can see from the pic, got my favorite pad, my backpack, camera and an assortment of electro goodies. I'll be taking pics and maybe even a video or two. Now I just need good weather and strong abs. So crazy I'm about to go to Europe finally.

It seems like dreams are just that, dreams. But when you take action, they become real. It starts with one small step, then another, then another. Soon that destination you thought was so unreachable is under your feet. I can confirm that you don't have to be rich, educated, tall, or even all that lucky to make these kind of things happen. But you have to believe and you do have to move towards it. Making shit happen is a great feeling. No matter what we're talking about. To anyone out there with dreams, remember to believe and move. Whatever your pleasure, your adventure awaits. Now get some!