Today at the gym: Didn’t feel like I was at my peak, but pretty good. Made some progress on a V5 I’d been working on and finally got that V4 dyno.
Had a bit of time to sit down and work on a new route animation. This pink V4 route was the first new set after the Locals Only Comp and uses pocket holds and the volume along the route. The wall angles are such that the dark grey portion comes out at a slight ~5º angle and slants back in at ~5º as you get into the orange portion.
There’s a few other tricky bits to this route. First, the start lies you sideways while the first move is a reach upwards and into the next pocket. This can be an odd move as you naturally want to push with your foot as soon as you reach. At my height, I had to wait a moment to get my hand into the pocket before pushing on my foot to stabilize the swing. Otherwise, my body would come out from the wall too far and I’d slip right out of the pocket.
Next, the topmost right hold is terrible the first time you grab it. The top is flat and very lightly textured unlike the rest of the hold. The first time I grabbed it, I exclaimed “What the hell is this?” The flat surface and light texture does not allow your fingers to pull most of your weight on it. You just pull yourself right off. There’s an indentation that you can place your thumb. That can’t be used to pull as much as pinch and push off of.
Last, the foot chips to the left of the volume and the top-most on the right get masked while you’re on the wall. It can be confusing to try and find them as you cannot see where your left foot is placed behind the volume. As soon as you get up high enough to move your right foot, the chip is placed on the grey portion which becomes partially blocked by the high point of the wall. Once you lean into the wall for stability, the foot chip disappears. Stare at it and memorize where it is before you move because you aren’t going to see it again until you get back on the ground.
Ratings have gone up on all the routes from the Local Only Climbing Comp. I’ve updated my post with ratings of my top 5 routes in the comp. Very surprised to see I was completing V4s on sight. Also completed a V5+ project from the comp!
One of my favorite routes that requires quite a bit of balance.
Must have been a weird moon tonight as the climbing gym had a lot more people at it than normal for a Monday night. Not complaining though! Many friends were there, so we certainly had time to catch up and cheer each other on.
The Locals Only Comp
The comp is done! I feel that I firmly landed somewhere just short of the middle for the intermediate climbers. That makes complete sense. The category is V2-V6 and I’m somewhere around a V3-V4 climber. What matters most is that come Monday evening, there will be new routes to work as projects.
There’s no atmosphere in sports like a climbing competition. While you are climbing against others, you’re cheering your fellow competitors on. The red point comp is peer-judged. You select a route, you climb as someone else watches on and marks your attempt. If you finish (or send, in the correct lingo), they will sign off that you completed the route. Each route is numbered and the routes get progressively harder. Your score is based on the top 5 climbs that you complete and rankings created from that.
Here are the top 5 I completed and a little description to go along with them. All routes start with the tape next to the numbers.
Route 21: Pink Slab Traverse (V4)
This route starts with a traverse that starts low to the left with two hands that moves to a pocket above your head. Balance and stability is key on this route. Each step to the right gets you closer to where there’s two small button holds for your feet. I went with the left one next to the two black holds and mantled my right hand low. This freed up my left hand to cup the left hold next to the end. Moving the right foot up to the next button, I could grab the finish hold, rearrange my feet, and finish the climb. You really have to trust that if you remove a foot from one of the foot holds along the traverse that you are going to stay stable. This really challenges that feeling. I fell off multiple times because I couldn’t remember to remove my back foot from the position it was in and ended up completely unbalanced.
Route 22: Pink Slab ascent (V3+)
Another slab route? Yep, another slab route with an ascent. Nothing is too complicated with this route. Every hold feels solid. There is a huge advantage when you are taller on this route. Some good foot presses into flat surfaces are about the worst part of this route. I flashed this one when I had a left hand on the finish and went “Oh, I could just reach right up there…” Done. Nice technical slab movements in this route.
Route 23, Pink Pinch ascent (V4)
This route starts with a left heel hook on the left start hold. Nice movements to pick your self up and move to the pinches that run down the center of the route. Trusting those thin pinches is hard. The right foot moves up in to the bowl shape hold so you have to trust each pinch moving up the route. Good shelf at the top to grab.
Route 25 Blue Pinch ascent with a squat start (V4)
I skipped 24 because I knew I was going to burn out on it. I had done 25 before 24 and was quite thankful afterwards.
The start is Awkward. The left hold slopes downward slightly and there’s no edge on the bottom to pinch. The right is chunky enough to mantle on. Finding a good foot position is hard as well. I opted for the outer edge of my left foot. The three holds on the center are good pinches with positive feeling. Bring your thumb and don’t let your grip up. The finish hold is a great positive hold that you can pop up to.
Route 27 Yellow 40 degree ascent (V4)
I ended up going after this route first after my warmup. I picked wisely since it was the hardest one I completed all night. I completely missed number 26 and didn’t realize I had passed it by.
This wall is at about a 40 degree pitch. I’ve climbed a few routes on this wall and the main thing to remember is that every move needs to be close to the wall. The flow on this route is really great for showing off some technique. There’s a nice heel hook to the hold to the right. Two crosses that feel great to do. The second to last hold requires a right hand. You can match here or just cross with your left hand to the final hold. It’s a big hold that you can jump to without much issue.
After this, I attempted number 28 (V5) multiple times. The 4th attempt was one hold away from the end. I just ran out of energy for that attempt. After that, it wasn’t going to happen. I now know what my first project is going to be.
A Focus on Bouldering: One Year Later
This week is one year since I got a membership at the local climbing gym and really focused on my own fitness and measuring my progress. You can see how my metrics waved over the past year. I’m down 20 lbs. Size 36 to 32 waist size pants. Large to Small shirts. There were periods where I was very frustrated with the weight starting to plateau or pick back up. There were days at the gym where I felt like I completely stalled out on making progress on routes. The important thing to focus on is the overall trends and working on technique. After all, I was committing myself to 3 days a week. Everyday can’t be your best.
Today is a red point competition at the gym that I’m competing in. This is where I’ll get to see where I rank with others. When I first started, I struggled to make my way through most V1 bouldering routes. V2 difficulty routes just laughed at me. V3 felt like an impossible dream.
When I sent my first V3, I was shaking from the adrenaline. I came close to missing a hold and my muscles were exhausted. The final hold was so close and I some how made it. I felt like a super human. That’s when I realized I really could do the impossible.
New routes went up! They look to have a decent difficulty!
Except they say “If you are competing on Saturday, please don’t touch.” So, I didn’t touch and I pouted as everyone else played on them. 🧗🏼♂️
There is an easy way to be humbled in life: Try climbing a competition route from a youth competition. I was excited just to get to the 10 point hold half way through these routes. The interesting thing is that these routes don’t feel like they are far above my ability.
Our climbing gym has been closed for the last week to host USA Climbing’s District Youth competition. April and I volunteered to monitor the isolation room and help organize the climbing order. After our shift, we watched what we could of the remaining climbers. 🧗
The climbing gym is hosting USA Climbing’s Youth Divisional Championship next weekend and closes this evening for the set. Sad that we will have to break our routine again. Luckily, I was able to send one last problem last night and I’ve started working on an animation of it.
I took some time this cool Sunday afternoon to set the second route on the Climbing Cube I built for the garage. This route uses two sides with the top used for three holds.
I designed this route with the idea that the right hand stays on top of the cube as you balance with the left hand and legs. The start has the right hand high and the left low, forcing the climber to either keep the left foot free or sneak it on the left hand start. There’s one underhand pull up towards the end that should engage the left arm and core pretty well.
The corner turn is interesting to navigate. The top corner hold is a large round hold that get used as a piviot as you move around the corner. With enough wingspan, you can easily reach the two holds on either side of the route while straddling the corner if you can manage to get into a position to do such. Back climbing is done with the left hand high and has the same difficulty as going forwards.
One big change with this route is that it is meant to be traversed from a standing position, unlike the first route, which keeps you in a mostly spread squat position. The first route was set for a kid whereas the second route is set for an adult. I don’t see the kids being able to start this.
There’s plenty of route optimizations that I’ve found that are enabled just by how far I can reach. This route was built for my wife, April, to give her a traverse to play on. There’s about a foot difference in our height and as about as much in armspan. This makes quite a bit of difference between the two of us when using arms and legs to reach across a traverse.
I’d rate this as a stout V1 or an easy V2 route. Most of the rating is from how large the top holds are to hang on to. With smaller, thinner top holds that only fingers could grab or a small pinch, that would increase the difficulty to about a V3. Smaller foot holds would also increase the difficulty.
Disappointed that the climbing gym didn’t have a new route set up. Next section is the oldest set that has the lowest route density. New set should be up this week.
Over the past year, I had made a few animations of climbing routes as I found they were some of my favorites. I started to make them as a way to remember and reflect how I progressed through a route as I didn’t have someone to record a video.
Day two in the Las Sportiva Solution: Not as painful at first but certainly tight. The stickiness still astounds me.
Putting them on
- My heel is locked in these shoes.
- My toes, however, are on top of one another…
- I feel like a toddler learning how to walk in these.
- I’m ready to take on anything.
On the wall
- Interesting how the shoe flexes and moves as you put weight onto it.
- This rubber is sticky.
- I’m going to have to relearn how to balance on the wall.
- Every toe has been forced into submission in service of this shoe.
- The amount of power I can press into a chip on the underside of this overhang is simply incredible.
- This pain reminds me of being on pointe. Not a memory I was hoping to relive. (Ed. note, April is the only one that has been on pointe)
- The platform stability that these shoes offer just gave me the cleanest send on this route.
- Every landing has a chance to win a rolled ankle.
- What was I thinking when I decided to walk in these? (Ed. note, April’s made this fateful walk)
Off the wall
- You don’t remove these shoes, you peel them.
- My toes are screaming “Freedom!” (Ed. note, April noted how much better her toes felt)
- Frank Herbert got the Pain Box wrong. It is not a box at all. It is a new pair of aggressive stance climbing shoes.
- Every time you put your foot back in, it does get easier.
- My toes feel like they just got Thanos snapped.
The next hour
- The Phalanges Formerly Known as My Toes are just now coming back to life.
- When can I get back into those shoes?
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