Sunday, February 19, 2012

SnowDown at the Rock Lounge

Sometime near the end of last year I got a call from a old college friend, Chris Barlow. I had set the a couple of of the Colorado College competitions several years back, he won the first one and worked with me on the second. He is now living in Durango, CO working at a boarding school there and doing some route setting at the local gym, The Rock Lounge. They were going to have a competition at the beginning of February for an annual Durango event known as the Snowdown (basically when everyone is sick of the snow) and was wondering if I could help set the event. Well I'm not one to turn down an opportunity for work, visiting old friends and possibly snowboarding so I agreed.

The gym is quite nice for how small a community it serves. You enter on the middle floor of 3 and overlook the downstairs area which is for routes. Here are some people during the competition.
 The left wall is pretty steep in the upper half and reasonably tall, maybe 30 feet. Interestingly you can see windows in the wall that you can still bolt holds to, there are more like this half way up the lead wall on the left as well.

Upstairs is a very steep cave which is nice to set in since you never need a ladder. The roof is a little on the low side though I never felt like I really had to suck my feet up to avoid them hitting the ground when I swung. So while I'm not a big fan of horizontal climbing it is a good use of the space for them and about as good as it gets for setting.
 On the main floor there is what amounts to a very short lead wall or very tall bouldering wall. Since this was a bouldering competition we obviously used the wall to set problems. Here are a couple of guys climbing for the peanut gallery.
All in all, I think the competition was a success, they had about 60 competitors, which for such a small facility seemed like a lot. People seemed to be having a good time when I left about half way through the event to make the drive back to Albuquerque. 

I had a good time setting there and working with their group of setters, and hope to be back soon.

On another note, I did get in a day on the slopes at Durango Mountain Resort (Purgatory). A family that parked next to me in the lot was nice enough to get me a discount with their season pass, friends of pass holders got a discounted rate, Thanks Adam. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Campus Board, Training

A few months ago Linda and I decided we wanted to start actually training for climbing. In the past, when we had a climbing trip approaching we would just try to climb more to get into shape.

A friend of ours, User, Monomaniac, and his twin brother Mike had developed a training program several years ago and had had great success using it. Mono since I've known him had progressed from a 5.13- climber to 5.14, while Mike I guess started in the 5.12 range and has successfully sent 5.14-.

Anyway, the training has been going pretty well and we are currently camp using to work on maximum muscle recruitment. Mono was coming to town for a 2 week class and he is in the same phase, we both recognize that the campus board at the climbing gym, great as it is, does not work really well for very focused training. So I decided to make one. You can buy the rungs for about $35 for a set of 5 and we needed 15. The rungs that you buy are 16" wide which is narrower than shoulder width and I've always wanted wider so I decided to make a set instead.

I spent about $30 on some 1.5" by 3/4" oak from Home Depot and cut it sown into 2' sticks which is wide enough to use both hands on comfortably. Then I put a 1/4" round over on the 2 front facing edges (in hindsight I think a 5/16", or even 3/8", round over would be better, but I had the 1/4" bit) and used a raised panel bit to put the incur on one edge. Both were done on a small router table. Again, in hind sight it would have been better to do the routing on the full length sticks then cut them down to 2' sections. Here is a shaped rung, the most time consuming part is sanding everything smooth.
 All 15 rungs lined up and marked for drilling. I used an edge of a cardboard box to make a jig for making the locations of the screw holes.
 I added a 1/2" countersink to put washers in and so that the screw heads would not hit your hands.
 I managed to find a pretty nice piece of 1/2" plywood in the garage that I used for mounting the rungs. Behind the 1/2" is another piece of 3/4" ply so that you can't pull the screws out of the wood.
 The final product mounted at Chris' house in the climbing room. We pad the doors to make sure we don't kick in the glass. Eventually I will make it a little longer and mount it at climbing gym with all 15 rungs, right now there was only room for 13 with the standard 4" spacing. 
For reference, the spacing between matching rungs at the gym is 14.5" which is what makes it difficult to train on. You will be able to do one sequence on the board and the next will be impossible because it is so much further.

So far I think the board is pretty nice, though the rungs are a little more positive than the ones Metolius makes, or at least a bit easier to hold (this is the reason for thinking a bigger round over would help). It is really intimidating going for the last rung since if you over shoot it more than just a little you can catch your fingernails on the upper edge of the plywood, which could be ugly. 13 rungs is definitely not enough, 15 should be a starting point and people with really long arms would want 20 or more.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Chinese New Year, more than a bit late

We headed to Austin to celebrate Chinese New Year and Linda's mothers birthday. We also managed to get a day of climbing in at Flat Creek with Thu and Noah, then caught up with Matt, Katie and Tyler (their little one). Climbing went pretty well, Linda finally managed to do all the moves on Scapegoat without too much difficulty and I finally got back on and sent the only route I fell off of the first day I climbed there, Four Legs Good. We spent lots of time with Linda's family as well, having nice family meals and Dylan getting loads of attention from his cousins. Whenever the cousins are around we don't read him bed time stories because he wants one of them to do it. Here is Dylan being read too by Cady his youngest cousin on Linda's side, besides him of course, probably before we head out for dinner.
 Not sure what it was, but Dylan had a light allergic reaction to something.
 Avery was celebrating a winning basket in HORSE over cousin Brian in the living room and jumped off the sofa, landing on his hand and breaking it, Excessive Celebration.....
 The family at dinner for Chinese New Year.
Dylan dancing to the music in the car.