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Rock Climbing

Brain Training

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Brain Training

In the world of Rock climbing there are different levels of riskiness when you climb large walls. Top Rope is the safest, being secured for the entire climb, safely protected by a rope at the top of the climb. Next is Sport Climbing, or "Lead" climbing, for this type you take the rope up connected to a harness and clip the rope thru carabiners that are clipped to bolts drilled directly into the wall. Lastly we have "Trad" climbing (Traditional), this is the riskiest type of rope climbing  because you rely strong metal pieces that you place into cracks in the wall. The reason Trad is the riskiest is because it relies on the climber's knowledge of how to place gear correctly. If it's placed incorrectly and you take a fall, there's a chance for it to pull completely out of the wall and send you plummeting to the next piece of gear....or the ground. 

Something I struggled with when I first starting "lead" climbing outside was my mental game. I was pretty spooked on sport climbing anything outside for a while until I forced myself to overcome my fear. Trad climbing is a whole different monster of because the risk is there that the gear you place might come out when you fall. I've had kind of a love / fear relationship with trad climbing, where I really want to be a strong all around climber, but am nervous about taking the plunge into leading on trad. 

Quads were on fire after this one

Quads were on fire after this one

Going into my 8th week of non stop climbing and traveling, I heard about a guy in my training program taking a trip out to the Witchitas for some Trad climbing. He gladly let me tag along for the trip and we headed out early Saturday Morning. We got slightly lost in our search for "The Narrows" and we were lucky enough to tack on some mountaineering training into our Trad day...I choose to stay positive about our 20min detour. 

After arriving to our wall and consuming several Peanut butter blue berry bagels (The official food of a climber who forgot his food) Zach got geared up and ready to rock on our first climb of the day, a 5.6. The climb was a Dihedral crack where the smooth face of the wall meets in a corner of the side of the cliff. Zach cruised up the climb placing gear every 6-10 feet or so, what we refer to as "plugging it up" with gear. 

Zach placing some gear in the crack. 

Zach placing some gear in the crack. 

After Zach finished the climb Amanda "cleaned" the route on Top rope. I had danced around with the idea of doing the route of Top rope first just to get the moves kind of memorized in my head before taking the leap into actually leading the route on Trad. But I remembered my first time sport climbing outside, and how I had wussed off a 5.9 because I was too scared to fall. I knew I had the strength and the climbing knowledge to climb this route, but this would be a test of my mental fortitude. So I racked up and dove in head first. 

The climb is pretty vivid in my mind, as well as my thoughts while climbing, so I'm going to pull the curtain away and show exactly what goes through my head when climbing something that gets me a little spooked. 

I walk up to the first moves of the climb, check my knot on my harness, chalk my hands, grab the first hold and pull myself onto the face. Zach had told me on the ground that I want to be placing gear every 6 feet if I could. He had this kind of look on his face that was like "Well I hope he can do this". I get up to the first ledge about 7 feet high on the wall, and pull my sling from my back to across my chest to see which "Cam" will fit the crack best. After some messing around with it I get in a spot I'm comfortable with. I notice that it takes way longer than clipping some carabiners on sport climbing, and that my right leg is pretty tired already with a hot sensation hanging out in my thigh. I keep going on up, the feet are a little more slanted than I was expecting on a 5.6, and it had me taking some extra time placing my toes on specific spots. I throw my left hand high up on the next ledge and mantle onto the top of it finding a nice spot to place gear from. This was probably 10 feet above my last placement so I made a mental note to try to place a piece about neck level into the crack and another piece a full arm's length above it. I'm feeling slightly spooked at this point so I increase my focus by putting some thought into my breathing, letting everything else fade out with only my exhale filling my ears. I get about 8 feet up from my last Cam placement and get situated in this indentation in the wall. At this point my left foot is secured on a slightly slanted ledge but my right foot is completely smeared against the flat face of the wall. I pause for a moment and look down at my last piece of protection 8 feet below me.

There's a point my mentor Mario talks about when you do large multipitch climbs  he calls "The Point of No Return", meaning you've gone too far up, there's no way to down climb...Going up is the fastest and only way to get down. This realization hit me about 40 feet up this wall, There was no stopping, it was game time and I needed to move quickly and precisely to avoid getting too tired to climb this route. I plugged in a Cam into the crack about belly level and got a higher foot to place another one in a small roof crack above my head. I continued to the right side of the roof crack pulling myself onto the face of the wall. I noticed an "X" had been marked with chalk on a deep jug which means "DONT GRAB ME - I MIGHT COME OFF THIS WALL AT ANY POINT". However this jug...was the best jug of all time.. and the X had been placed weirdly and could've easily been meant to mark rock in the roof. I decided to place my left hand lightly in this jug, while getting a high right foot and grabbing a small ledge with my right hand. Delicately walking both feet onto the face of the wall, I grabbed a cam from my sling and placed it in the crack about eye level. I could see the end of the climb just 30 more feet up this wall I had climbed 60ish feet already.

I traversed over probably 5 feet and mantled onto a small ledge. I stood up carefully on the ledge, glancing over my left shoulder looking at my last piece about 9 feet down and to the left of where I stood. I leaned forward into the wall taking my hands completely off the wall for the first time in 70 feet. Simultaneously thinking, "Man it would suck to fall right here and whip into that roof" and "Is this what Alex Honnold feels like when he was free solo'ing El Capitan". I careful twist my hips to the right and step carefully across this half a foot wide ledge, using nothing but my feet and balance to get me across. I got over to a bulge of rock with a nice side crack in it and placed another piece of protection. My legs were pretty tired at this point and started to shake, or what we call "Elvis Leg". The top was only 15 more feet up this, and very featured with gigantic blocks of stone protruding from the otherwise clean face of this wall. I recognized that this would be the easiest part of the climb and didn't waste a second, feeling a surge of joy that I had only a few feet between me and my first Trad lead, I flew up the last section of the climb. 

I grabbed the top of the wall and clipped my "PAS" (Personal anchor system) to the bolts at the top of the climb and yelled "OK I'M ON ANCHOR" down to Zach. Something I try to keep in mind whenever I'm climbing is that you're not done until you're back on the ground. A lot of climbing mistakes happen because people get hyped up at the end of a route and forget that it's still dangerous until you're on the ground. I lock my carabiner, untie & feed the rope thru the chains. When I'm safely back on the ground I'm ecstatic. The feeling of being scared and overcoming it while you're in the moment is like no other. 

I've done a lot of sport climbing in the two years I've been climbing, and even done a second ascent on a 5.12, but I don't think anything I've done can compare with my 5.6 Trad lead. Something about being nervous about something and the laser focus you get because of it just makes it mean more. I meant to put a GoPro on my head before I went up, but completely forgot, and I didn't get any pictures of me climbing it because I think everyone just wanted to watch how it went haha. I almost like that a little more than having photos or video, because I'll always remember my first time trad climbing on a cold, windy, day in Oklahoma. 

The view from the top

The view from the top

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What 7 Weeks of Travel Looks & Feels Like

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What 7 Weeks of Travel Looks & Feels Like

The beginning of my year has been amazing so far. I've gone on 7 consecutive trips to climbing destinations across Texas and the southern United States. It can be tiring to constantly go go go, but I take my opportunities when they arise because I never know if they'll show themselves again. Because of this I plan on being gone every weekend usually, and I tell people I'm not free from Friday - Sunday night, simply because I delegate that time for myself. Something new this year is the importance i've put on photography and using it to help tell my stories in a way that people can appreciate from a quick glance, and I'm loving it so far. 

Denis and our guide checking out a "Hueco" (an indentation in the rock) 

Denis and our guide checking out a "Hueco" (an indentation in the rock) 

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Traveling at the beginning of the year usually means grabbing your lowest degree sleeping bag but this year the south has seemingly skipped our winter haha. It's made my travels to Oklahoma, New Mexico, and El Paso (All more cold than my native Dallas) not so bad temperature wise. Last year this time I was freezing my toes off in a 40 degree bag in Horseshoe canyon ranch with temps as low as 22 degrees...AND it rained on us! Needless to say God has smiled on the south this year and the coldest I've endured so far has been low 40s and maybe some high 30s at night. 

"Trent, don't you ever get tired??" something my friend Mo said to me while we were hiking through the massive boulder field on the side of upper Mt. Scott. I replied like Bruce Banner (The Hulk in Avengers) "That's my secret Mo....I'm always tired" as I turned into the incredible human hiking machine. All jokes aside, yes I do feel fatigue hahah.. It can be exhausting to hike to a climb, climb all day, and then hike back up the mountain to the camp site, like we did in New Mexico. The key is to not let it consume you, a lot of the time before I leave on a trip, I'm feeling exhausted from the week at work and school. I'll attribute making myself push thru usually to already having solid plans in place, but also to the fact that I keep my psych level HIGH!!!! I'm always hyped to get outside. 

Feeling a little tired after a 70 foot 5.12b at Sitting Bull Falls, NM

Feeling a little tired after a 70 foot 5.12b at Sitting Bull Falls, NM

Partially what I look forward to on these trips is the connections that are made. On the way to New Mexico, Doland, mentioned that he was interested in Rope Access work, and Denis just happened to know a guy who owned a company who need Rope Access workers. I kid you not, Doland called the guy as we shopped for food in a Carlsbad, NM Walmart and got hired on the spot. Later on in the trip when we went to Hueco Tanks, Doland and I would find ourselves sat around a campfire with two other guys. We sat and talked about the "soul of rock climbing" and a bunch of other hippie stuff haha. As we talked with the guys we found out that our plan to "walk on" to Hueco Tanks wouldn't work because all the spots would be filled before we could talk to the rangers. As luck would have it one of the guys we were talking to was a certified guide for Hueco Tanks, and would end up being our guide the next day. The guy was super awesome, and actually knew Denis from Baltimore when Denis worked at the climbing gym there. It was really cool to see how we're all connected in ways we don't even know, unless we connect with others.

Doland (Left) Denis (Center) and our Guide, looking at a few warm up routes in Hueco Tanks.

Doland (Left) Denis (Center) and our Guide, looking at a few warm up routes in Hueco Tanks.

Alec feeling good after a full day on the wall.

Alec feeling good after a full day on the wall.

The whole purpose of this website and me writing is to inspire people to get outside and be bold. I want to inspire adventure, because I've seen what it does for me and how rewarding it is. So far i've taken 4 people out this year who have never climbed outside before, and we had a blast. You don't need to be on my climbing level to enjoy climbing outside with me, or for anyone for that matter. A good attitude, willingness to learn, and persistence is all it takes to enjoy climbing or doing anything really. 

I love the life I live. I love sharing my passion with others through my writing and photos. If you ever want to learn how to climb, go camping, take cool photos, plan a trip, or just talk, we have a "Contact Us" page or you can just message us on Facebook!

Onto the next adventure!

Onto the next adventure!

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How does Trent Train?

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How does Trent Train?

I train like a lot..like 5-7 days a week usually, if there were an 8th day I'd be training on it, that's how much. I'm not like epic strong or anything, but I can walk up to 5.12a and get it in 1-2 tries most the time (most). I've also been known to climb anywhere between 30-50 routes in an hour or two if I really push. I've had a slight dip in training during 2016 because of a weird relationship thing that made me re-prioritize what I wanted to do, and now we're back grinding in the gym. Despite that I've kept pretty good fitness for 2ish years now, and climbing is my main tool. 

I used to get asked a bunch, "How did you get so strong so quick" and I would say "Black Magic...aka Mario's stripper name". Mario is my coach, he's my homie, my bro, my mentor, and the dude who makes me feel the pain 2-4 days out of the week. Mario runs a training program called ClimbFit, and it's basically what the name sounds like; Climbing and Fitness. Mario's been climbing like since forever and is well known in Dallas and every other southern climbing area, he is the climbing dude of Dallas. I met Mario my first day rock climbing and was in ClimbFit on my second day of rock climbing, So my secret to how I got so strong is that I started off my climbing training right off the bat. 

One of the most important parts of climbing is CORE!!!! we all love a good core burn and we focus 40-50% of our workout time to our core training. Crunches, Bicycles, 6 inches, "L" sits, Kings chair, Toe touches, you name it, we do ALL the core, and we do sometimes 2-3 sets of it. It's one of the main reasons everyone in the climbing gym has a six pack. 

The second thing we focus on is upper body strength. Before I started climbing it was laughable if you asked me if I could do a pull up, now I can bust out 50 in 5 min. We focus on what's called "Push-Pull" meaning Pushing and Pulling. We'll do Pushups, Spiderman push-ups, Burpees, Battle Ropes, Plate pushers, Pull ups, Chin Ups, One arm lock offs, Negatives, Frenchies, Dips, and the list can go on and on. 

Climbers usually have to hike to their climbing destination, for example last spring we had to hike 3000 vertical feet up a cliff side back up to our camp site in New Mexico every day, I was dying. Because of this we don't skip leg day. We focus primarily on a lot of squats with weights, but some of our other workouts segue into legs as well, like Burpees & Jumpees. We'll also do Box Jumps, Power Jumps, In-out squats, and a variation of other type of squats. 

Those are the big 3 we train every day, but as a climber you also have to strengthen your fingers. This is a delicate process as you're not actually adding finger muscle (Fingers don't have muscles), but rather strengthening your tendons. Tendons are delicate and amazing at the same time, they can hold your whole body weight off of a few finger tips, but can tear if you over work them. Because of this we train finger strength once a week and sometimes two times if we're feeling good. This usually involves a small wooden board called a "Beast Maker" they're specifically made for making your fingers stronger and they're awesome. The workout varies on the strength of the climber, but i'll usually use the "Beast maker 2000". I'll get all 4 of my fingers on the smallest crimp and do 7 seconds on with 3 seconds of rest in between for a minute and then repeat for 3-5 sets. 

Climbing is one of the those sports that you just get fit no matter what, as long as you climb. It's great because it provides my brain with constant stimulation and new problems to figure out. It's pretty much just play time fitness, and I think that's awesome. 

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Following Mario Thru New Mexico

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Following Mario Thru New Mexico

Mario and I went to Hueco Tanks last January, and our eagerness for climbing got us kicked out on our second day at the park (Parked in a handicap spot). Luckily for us, Mario had heard about this cool climbing spot near Carlsbad, New Mexico. We packed all the gear up in the van and set off on the 2-3 hr drive. If you're not very familiar with Texas geography, Hueco Tanks is pretty much El Paso, which is a border town to Mexico. The state has check points and highway patrolmen that try and spot suspicious activity coming from El Paso, and Mario and I were in a bright Yellow van. The van is important because it is the IDEAL vehicle for transporting people and narcotics thru the border. 

Mario's narcotic's van.

Glamorous "Van Life"

Glamorous "Van Life"

So as Mario and I drive into New Mexico the speed limit changes from 75 to 70, and we just keep on cruisin' at 75 since 5 miles over the limit isn't usually an issue. About 10 minutes later the red and blue lights go up in the rear view mirror, and our smuggling empire would be found out (Smuggling quickdraws, ropes, and smelly climbing shoes).

Now this isn't supposed to be important to the story but Mario is black and I am white and I also look like i'm a young teenager despite being 20 at the time. The officer walks up to the window and asks Mario to step out of the van and put his hands on the side. Already i'm thinking "wtf he can't do that, what were we possibly doing wrong". After talking with Mario for about 5 min, he walked over to my side and asked me if what we were doing, where we were going, where we came from, and if we had any drugs in the car. "Rock Climbing, New Mexico, Hueco Tanks, and half a pound of Chalk" luckily the guy had a sense of humor. After it became apparent that the officer wasn't going to arrest us, he started asking us about rock climbing in general. One of the cool parts of being a climber is people usually can't imagine going up on high cliffs with a thin rope and your finger tips to keep you from falling. Mario told him about climbing gyms and the Climb Fit program he runs, was actually a pretty chill conversation after all the business had been taken care of. The officer sent us on our way and we went off to Sitting Bull Falls, New Mexico. 

Mario has a unique way of pushing me to be great, basically he goes and climbs something that is incredibly hard even for him, and then leaves his gear all over it and then goes "Hey, you gotta climb this route because all our gear is on the route..." and I get roped (no pun intended) into climbing a 5.13b after climbing 5-10 routes at my max already. So here I am on this 5.13b that is INCREDIBLY overhung, the climb is basically a very large cave or how a huge wave would look.

Mario, about 3/4 of the way up this 5.13b. If you can trace the thin black line back to where it meets the wall, that's about where I fell at.. 

Mario, about 3/4 of the way up this 5.13b. If you can trace the thin black line back to where it meets the wall, that's about where I fell at.. 

Blood is just finger tears. 

Blood is just finger tears. 

Basically this means that since I am "cleaning" the route (Meaning getting all of our gear off it) that If I fall I'm going to swing out into open space and not be able to get back to the wall. I get to about the 4-5th clip on the wall (20-30 feet up the climb) and I can't grip the rock anymore and I swing into the air. So to dumb it down, I am swinging about 10 feet away from the wall dangling from my next quickdraw which is about 10 feet above me. We tried "Boinking" (me trying to pull my weight up the rope.) for a little while to get me up to the next clip, but it didn't work. We basically rigged up an "ascender" with 2 prussic auto-blocker loops and a long webbing for a foot push. I think this might have been the only time in two years I've been legitimately mad at Mario haha. Here I am at 6pm inching my way up a rope to my next quickdraw, tired, hungry, and bleeding from most of my fingers hahah. 

Obviously I made it to the the next piece of gear and retrieved it and we went home, and the anger went away as soon as my feet touched the ground. I like this story because I can remember knowing the way to fix my problem with previous knowledge and gear on my harness, it just felt really cool. 

I'm going to try and write small stories about things on my trips once a week, I hope you enjoy :)

 

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Acceptable Risk

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Acceptable Risk

I’ve gone on about 25 trips so far in 2016, most of them being climbing trips, a few involving less climbing than I would’ve liked but everyone needs breaks sometimes. Rock climbing is an inherently dangerous sport, and we minimize all the risks we can but you can never take away 100% of the risk, and who would want to anyways. Part of the allure of rock climbing is the danger to me, the adrenaline rush. I never used to be the adrenaline rush guy, and I still don’t like roller coasters. But I love the feeling you get from managing the risk or relying on your skill and knowledge to navigate yourself safely through a scenario. 

    Climbing is relatively new to my life being that I started only 2 years ago and has become a huge piece of my everyday routine. I am only 21 years old and most of my friends are in University far from where we all grew up, but I’ve stayed home and gone to community college at night and worked full time for about 4 years now. I went to visit one of my friends who goes to school at Texas Tech in Lubbock, TX because I’ve been telling her since forever I’d come up and visit. A little background on my friend, She is in a sorority and lives with 5 other girls in a house near their school, all of which are also in sororities. I’ve never visited a University other than like SMU in Dallas ever, so I really had no idea what to expect and I didn’t really expect much..Lubbock is kind of a boring town in the middle of nowhere, Texas. I quickly got introduced to all the girls in the house and their cute dogs that get insane amounts of love (I wish I could be a dog in a sorority house). One of my favorite things to do with people is hear their stories, because it gives you such a good judgement of character of a person and they don’t even realize. The girls start retelling stories of crazy drunken nights, of Arrests, being detained, being so drunk they don’t remember the night, of horrible men, pretty much everything you can think of. And I was in awe at the insane crazy lifestyle they live, it really seemed out of this world to me I couldn’t even believe it. I like to think that I live a really exciting life. I go out every weekend and physically exert myself for 6-8hrs usually sometimes longer for the thing I love to do. Most of the time I’m doing things that if I hadn’t known and been trained to do them properly I could die. And people that are trained and have been doing these things for years still die. I think it’s insane hahah. I have even free solo’d 5.7s in Austin (nothing insane and I had a Personal Anchor System the whole time) but still I like to think I live a crazy life. But here I am sitting in a sorority girl’s room awe struck at the crazy life she lives. 

    Climbers have a term we use called “Acceptable Risk” and it basically means the risk you’re willing to put yourself in to enjoy yourself or complete a climb. Acceptable risk doesn’t just apply to climbing though, everyone makes choices in their life of the risks they’re willing to take. I’ll give an example: Last week in Horseshoe I was warming up on a 5.10a about 50ft, and had like 9 bolts with 2 anchors (11 quick-draws total). However being that it was a warm up route and me wanting to get on with my day I didn’t count the bolts or read the guide book and I only took up 10 “draws”. When I got to the 9th bolt on the climb I realized that I only had 1 draw and I still had 2 anchors to clip at the top. Between the 9th bolt and the 2 anchors there’s about a 10 foot section and below me (My last clip) probably another 6-10 feet. A made a decision to unclip the 9th bolt and “Run it out” to the finish. This means that had I fallen close to the Anchors of the climb I could have taken a roughly 20 foot fall, potentially breaking ankles, toes or worse if I landed incorrectly. But I recognized the risk in my action, and deemed it acceptable (All of this happening in about 10 seconds on the wall). Some people might hear taking a 20 foot fall and risking breaking bones to be absolutely insane, but for me it’s an acceptable risk. I trusted that I had the strength to finish the final 10 feet of the climb and so I went for it. The same can be said for my reaction to hearing the drunken nights from these sorority girls. It’s absolutely insane to me that these women are going out and drinking and driving, or getting picked up for drinking under the age and getting ticketed. But if you just analyze a little further, to them it isn’t that insane i’m sure. It all falls into the acceptable risk category. I just find it super unique that for someone like myself who considers what I do pretty crazy sometimes that I can’t fathom doing some of the things these young women do. But on the other side me saying that i’ve “free solo’d” a 5.7 (Meaning I had no rope to catch me if I fell) people would tell you that I’m an idiot for. Just remember that next time you hear someone telling you an Insane story that you can’t believe, everyone’s comfort levels are different!

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Trent's California Trip

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Trent's California Trip

It's a crazy coincidence that Chris and I are both in California within 2 weeks of each other. I’ve been to California before when I was younger to San Francisco and Santa Cruz, but this was long before I started Climbing. I don’t know how it is for other climbers, but California is like my dream location for climbing. It’s really my ideal place for everything, You can Snowboard in the winter, Surf and Climbing in the summer...it’s my dream land. Anyways We flew into San Diego around 4pm and grabbed dinner at this cool little Asian place called East Village Asian Diner. On the walk in I see Thunder Cat action figures in the window and they had Anime playing on the TV, so I already knew the place would be awesome. Something always amazing about leaving Texas is the temperature difference compared to literally ANYWHERE else. It’s a cool 70 degrees when the sun sets and I have to wear a jacket since I'm used to a climate similar to Hell. We walked down the street and the city of Del Mar had a vintage car meet. Super cool way to end the first night for sure. 

One of my dad’s friends is a Navy Chaplain and stationed on the Coronado Naval base, and he gets access to the entire base, Including the Navy SEAL section. So we met up with him at Panera in Coronado and he goes over what we’re doing for the day. We start on the larger of the bases and go past 2 Gigantic air craft carriers, 1 of which is under refitting and covered in white plastic. Drove past tons of black hawk helicopters and gigantic cargo planes.

After that we head to the way smaller SEAL training base. It’s pretty much an entry gate, a gate to the beach/ocean, and a big green field where we saw about 50ish young men in their 4th week in SEAL Training..Lets rewind a little bit, as a climber I have a fairly decent upper body strength since I pull my body weight up large walls for a hobby, so I can do a decent amount of pull ups as a result of that. So I was thinking about challenging these men to a pull up competition...Fast forward again, we’re driving by the field where all the guys are training and I quickly realize that these dudes' job is literally to work out ALL day while under extreme stress, most of them my age. Made me super appreciative to our United States armed forces for the amount of training and stress that these guys go through so they can protect us against any harm that would come our way. Also I spotted the group of them who were on pull-ups and it’s about 1pm at this point and I also realized that they’ve probably been working out since 6am and they were not doing these pull-ups slowly. So I reconsidered my challenge pretty quickly....Also they don’t really appreciate you interrupting the Navy SEALs. Over all SUPER cool day, saw some really cool stuff and got some cool Navy gear. 

 

Saturday I got a pretty late start; left the Hotel at 10ish and got some breakfast at a local place, and headed into San Diego to check out the Mesa Rim climbing gym. I’ve only climbed at a few gyms (Dallas, Tx & Durango, CO). Dallas, being my home gym, we are 4 hours from the nearest outdoor rock, so our setting is DRASTICALLY different from climbing gyms that are less than an hour from real rock. That being said Mesa Rim is incredible, 50-70 foot walls, excellent routes, and an overall great gym. I’ll go into real quick what I consider a great route; I like on a 5.11 to have a little bit of difficulty but not impossible, I like it to have technical moves with high feet, rather than huge reach moves with really no skill involved. I prefer technique to sheer brute strength. I didn’t walk in with a climb partner but the gym called overhead “If anyone needs a belay partner please come to the front desk” within like 10 minutes of me being there (probably one of the cooler features i’ve seen in a gym). The guy was super cool, and was even from Lubbock, Texas. We warmed up on a 5.8, hopped on a few 5.11s, two 5.12s and even got on a 5.13 that was super awesome. It was also awesome training for my 12 hour comp on the 27th since the walls are 70ft tall, the pump was real! Got a sick Nalgene from the gym too. 

 

I woke up on Sunday and started packing my bag for Joshua Tree; 70m rope, harness, quick draws, runners, chalk bag, and I grab for my shoes in the bottom of the bag and they’re not in there. A quick panic sesh led to realizing that I had left my only pair of climbing shoes at the climbing gym from Saturday. This is also happening at 6am because we were leaving early to J-Tree so we could get there early, so that plan was out the window. Luckily for me the gym still had them so we scooped them at around 9am and headed to Joshua Tree. If you have no previous knowledge about Joshua Tree, it’s basically a trad climbing paradise (Traditional Climbing). Sadly I only own sport climbing gear, and the ratio of Trad to Sport climbs in Joshua tree is about 10 to 1. A few days before I bought the Joshua Tree guide book at REI and I thought that would be sufficient, but I really didn’t grasp how large the entire park is. If you’ve ever been to Hueco Tanks in Texas it’s basically that park but 10 times bigger. All the rocks look the same, they’re these big bulbous brown rolling mountains, and the only way I was able to distinguish the areas that we went to was where the mountain in the background was. The guide book I purchased was less than amazing, and made it super hard to figure out where climbs were located and even finding a Sport route in the book was difficult. Made for a very stressful time, being surrounded by amazing trad climbs, but looking for small silver bolts in a sea of brown rock. The climbs I actually got on seemed like someone was bored and threw up random bolts into a climb.. some didn’t even have anchors and I had to rappel off the bolt. Regardless of how stressful it was to find climbs, I was with my family, in a beautiful place, on a vacation in California..my life isn’t bad. At the end of the day I learned the meaning of “Sometimes you win, Sometimes you learn.” I know next time I’m in Joshua Tree it’ll be with a gigantic trad rack slung across my chest, blazing routes all day. 

 

I think my favorite part of the trip has been the general attitude of California. Things just don’t seem so rushed here. Stuff just gets done, people enjoy life, and it’s just generally stress free. I spent Monday sitting in a Starbucks writing this post and watching the cars and bikers go by. It’s nice to just sit and do nothing sometimes and just watch people go about their days. It was a nice break from the constant training i’ve been doing for the last 2 months (Though I did train in the gym here, in case my climb partner reads this). I can’t wait for the next time i’m in California, I hope it’s not too long.

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How Much Does Rock Climbing Cost

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How Much Does Rock Climbing Cost

How much does Rock Climbing cost?

 

Other than finger skin, sore limbs, and ruined toes, Rock climbing costs DOLLARS..yes it is very much not a free sport. So I thought I’d list out all the gear I current own and how much each piece cost with links to amazon where you can also purchase the gear!

So here we go: 

My first pieces of gear were my harness and shoes: 

I have a Mammut Ophir 3 Slide Harness - $54.95

http://www.backcountry.com/mammut-ophir-3-slide-harness-mens

I’ve never had a different harness, so I can’t really compare to other ones..But it works, It gets a little uncomfortable when I’m belaying for a long time or hanging on a route for a while, but besides that, it’s light, stream lined, and makes me feel safe. 


 

I have only ever owned La Sportiva climbing shoes, and I have to say I’ve tried on other shoes and I love me some La Sportiva. I’ve owned 5 Pairs of La Sportivas, 2 of which were the same model (La Sportiva Testarossa) 

La Sportiva Testarossa - $175.00

https://www.amazon.com/Sportiva-Testarossa-Vibram-Climbing-Yellow/dp/B0002XLE46/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1471381127&sr=8-1&keywords=la+sportiva+testarossa

The shoes are VERY tight, as they should be, and have amazing toe grip. Though I went thru 2 pairs of these shoes in about a year, I climb a lot outside and a lot just in general, so I feel like it was just natural wear, not that the shoes were bad. 


La Sportiva Tarantulace - $80.00

https://www.amazon.com/Sportiva-Tarantulace-Climbing-Shoe-Kiwi/dp/B005DLQBA4/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1471381266&sr=8-2&keywords=la+sportiva+tarantulace

These were my first pair of climbing shoes, they’re just slightly too big for my foot so these were not my climbing shoes for very long...However they’re extremely comfy as far as climbing shoes go, and the lace up allows you to synch these things down


La Sportiva Miura - $175.00

https://www.amazon.com/Sportiva-Miura-VS-Shoe-Yellow/dp/B0012RCZC6/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1471381388&sr=8-2&keywords=la+sportiva+miura

These are my current climbing shoes and my favorite BY FAR. They have a slight downturn, but not as tight as the Testarossa, they’re a little wider than the testarossa as well which makes them more comfortable to wear for longer periods. Outdoors wise I can stay in them longer, which allows me to climb for longer. Overall I love these shoes. 


When you make the jump from gym climbing to outdoor climbing two pieces of gear allow you do climb at almost 60-70% of all climbing outdoors: Rope and Quick Draws.

70m Mammut Serenity Dry rope - $240.00

I have a 70m Mammut Serenity Dry rope. I opted for the 70 meter because my whole “mantra” with rock climbing outside is that I want to climb anything I think is cool looking..wether it be 20 feet or 2000 feet. 

https://www.amazon.com/Mammut-Serenity-Dry-Climbing-Rope/dp/B00SAHFTPQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1471381781&sr=8-1&keywords=Mammut+Serenity+Dry+Climbing+Rope


Black Diamond Positron Quickdraw - 12cm - $101.70

I have two sets of quick draws, both black diamond..I try to stick to known brands that are universally trusted and Black Diamond is pretty universally trusted in the industry. 

I just recently got these..Mainly because they look pretty awesome (Black and Gold) They work like all quick draws and I haven’t had any issues with the gates or runners for the year I’ve owned them. 

https://www.amazon.com/Black-Diamond-Positron-Quickdraw-12cm/dp/B019NULQ8W/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1471381927&sr=8-5&keywords=BLACK+DIAMOND+POSITRON+QUICKDRAW


Black Diamond PosiWire Quickpack, 12cm, Ink Blue/Positron - $65.00

These were my first pair of quick draws, they’re a little loose on the runner (Not sure if it’s just because of how much i’ve used them or not). The gates are in fine condition after about 2 years, no problems so far. 

https://www.amazon.com/Black-Diamond-PosiWire-Quickpack-Positron/dp/B00LU18J6A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1471381927&sr=8-1&keywords=BLACK+DIAMOND+POSITRON+QUICKDRAW


 

So all in all, I have spent about $891.65 in a span of two years..Now in one big purchase of all the gear it can seem like a lot..but If you bought 1 piece of gear a week that’s roughly $8.60 a week. This is the bare minimum of all the gear I currently own for rock climbing, and it's MAINLY all you will need to climb at a majority of areas. I'll prob do a full gear list later on in the year as Fall comes around.

We split up big purchases for gear into a piece a week usually (Like a quick draw, a runner, or trad piece) which can really minimize the blow from buying it all at once. I will admit I have not done the weekly plan yet, because I space out my purchases with several months in between. Luckily a lot of climbing gear holds your life it it’s hands, so the companies who make it try and make the gear last as long as physically possible. Long story short, you won’t be spending much money on replacing gear.

Mario "Racking Up" for some Trad at Hueco Tanks. A small fraction of Mario's gear in a heap on the ground.

Mario "Racking Up" for some Trad at Hueco Tanks. A small fraction of Mario's gear in a heap on the ground.

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Jared Leto "Great Wide Open"

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Jared Leto "Great Wide Open"

Recently Jared Leto directed a sort of documentary on the adventurous lifestyle and I saw a little trailer for it on Renan Ozturk’s instagram page the other day. The project is called “Great Wide Open” and only two episodes out so far, I think it might be my favorite adventure doc i’ve seen. Initially I didn’t expect much from it, being from Jared Leto, and not an actual profession climber or major company, but it is amazing so far. It’s such a unique thing to see someone who you can identify with as a beginner climber and seeing all the fears, triumphs, and insights that you felt but in 3rd person and portrayed from a “Celebrity” but isn't acting or playing a role. All I can say is that I’m hooked and I’ll put the two vids below here with a link to Jared’s Youtube page and I can’t wait for the rest of the series!

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Why Do Anything?

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Why Do Anything?

Why do we do anything? Why do runners go for a run, even though it sucks. Why do DJ’s make music, even though it takes loads of time. Why do I rock climb, even though it hurts me, bruises me, breaks me, frustrates me, scares me, and intimidates me. I’ve had this thought in my head for a long time now, trying to figure out why anyone does anything. People don’t HAVE to do go running, there are certainly easier ways to get in shape. It’s much easier to just get plastic surgery than to actually stay healthy, just suck away all the extra fat you don’t want. Humans don’t even need to be strong or fit anymore, unless you work a physically demanding job. So why do people do anything?

    It’s a strange question but I recently started scratching the surface at the reason I do anything. More specifically rock climbing, as most these blogs are. I don’t know why but it’s so easy to talk about rock climbing. There’s just something about it that is just so unnecessary to a rational thinking person. We don’t NEED to climb things, we could just fly to the top of whatever we want.. We WANT to climb things. There’s just something about looking at a wall that seems impossible to everyone else, and you have the thought, “I wonder if it’s possible” and that’s all it takes.. The second the thought of possibility enters your mind the route is stuck in your head. 

    I’ve recently identified why I rock climb. I always hear from various different movies and professional climbers that rock climbing is a selfish act. And I never really understood that really. I understand that when you climb you’re the only one climbing usually, which makes it a solo act, and therefor a selfish one maybe. But I never got to the core of it. I rock climb because for those 30-60 seconds i’m on a short route, I don’t care about anything else in this entire world. People disappear, noise is ignored, and I engage into a hyper thought process that almost speeds time up for me. I’m not sure if it’s the same for everyone, but when I touch the wall I’m in the zone. I don’t come out of that zone until i’m off route, either by falling, or snapped out by lack of holds. I finally understand at least why rock climbing is a selfish act for me, in that selfishness is the non care for others, simply defined. And it’s the truth! People may argue “Well you care about the belayer.” To which I can respond, If you ever have to worry about your belayer.. you probably should be climbing with them. It’s really not fair to you if you can’t dive wholly into this void of concentration.     

    So I apologize if you feel as though i’m ignoring you, or acting too seriously on a route...But the truth of it is I don’t care.. I’m in the zone. Go find your zone.

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Knowing & Growing

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Knowing & Growing

I was sitting next to my friend and mentor Mario Stanley the other night and thought to myself, I didn’t know this person even existed last year, and now he’s one of the most influential people in my life. And that led to further thought of how much I’ve changed and how much my life has changed in a year. For one thing I wasn’t as fit as I am now. My hands would shake when I would hold my phone for too long. I was super self conscious about how unfit I was, and it’s embarrassing being a guy and not being strong enough to do certain things. I think I had maybe 3 friends that I kept in touch with out of all the ones I had in high school, and even then I would barely hang out with them. I was infatuated with the idea of being rich enough to do whatever I wanted. Wealth seemed like the only thing that mattered in life. And perhaps the worst of all of that, I had no idea what I wanted. 

    Knowing what you want seems so simple, but I’d wager that most college kids have no idea. I don’t even know what I would want as an end goal, but I do know what I want right now. I have a few puzzle pieces to puzzle that takes a lifetime to finish. I don’t think you can accurately know what you will want 10 years in the future. We all change, especially in youth. All I can hope for right now is that I can set a solid base for what my 30 year old self might want. 

    I’ve never thought of myself as an impressive person. I get asked now by new friends that I climb with about how I’ve progressed so quickly with my climbing. I tell them it’s “Mario Magic”, meaning I owe it all to my coach Mario to put it simply. Inside my head i’m thinking how in the world am I impressive to someone? Even friends I haven’t seen since high school have commented on how much stronger I’ve gotten. I’ve never been in a situation before where I’ve been impressive to someone else, and it’s really weird.

    It’s also really strange finding out what I want. Even though I don’t have an exact vision of what I want 10 years from now, I know I want it to involve climbing and the outdoors, and that’s 100% more than I knew last year. The funny thing is that, what I think I know now will be 100% less than I’ll know next year. I suppose it’s just part of growing to be constantly changing who you are. I just hope 10 years from now I can be good enough to inspire others to be great.

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