Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Wisdom: Cedar Wright onsights

Check out this John Dickey video of Cedar Wright on The Wisdom in Eldo:

Totally opposite of what I was expecting. And special for that very reason.
Onsighting The Wisdom - shouldn't this be like watching NASCAR? Waiting for the whip? Not if, but when... That was my expectation.
Watching someone thrutch through a notoriously tricky and committing Eldo sequence, and then whip over two overhangs?
Nope. On the softer side of things, the riffs and strumming created a soothing feel to what could have been a nailbiter. Cedar moves with little hesitation (good edits? who cares...) and sends, and the viewer gets to listen to a subdued sedating composition. Less drama, more flow.
Very nice to see a video of this style for an Eldo classic.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Signs of Spring in Boulder Mountain Parks

The Mountain Parks are finally showing more signs of spring. Only a few weeks ago, some of the higher elevations were still holding snow. None of the paper birches in Long Canyon had leaves when we hiked it. But things are changing quickly. I spotted this succulent hidden on a west aspect near Crown Rock:

Milk snake working it's way down the Viewpoint Trail:

Climbing temps: While Eldo and Flagstaff are already too hot for sunny climbing on some days, the glades on Dinosaur Mountain and other places in the Flatirons have a much cooler feel. Temperatures are still cool enough for harder routes, but puffy jackets are starting to disappear. Dinosaur Mountain has got such a great collection of climbs - here's a shot I snapped while rope-soloing on Der Zerkle before a workout on Square Rock:
The Silent Partner manages my rope on Jim Erickson's Final Solution

I feel like I'm stopping all the time for photos or just taking in some of the sights. Blue Mist Penstemon is in bloom on most of the mesas right now. Pasqueflower was blooming on many of the lower aspects of Boulder Canyon and Mt Sanitas a couple of weeks ago. The meadows are finally green again. But the biggest indicator that spring is definitely here? Late afternoon instability and thunderstorms are becoming more and more common. Late spring / early summer is generally a little better than late July through August, since the instability tends to develop later in the day, after we've exhausted ourselves and we're back home. On the right is a picture of some weather churning over Chautauqua Park and CU Boulder - I took this shot after climbing to the "rock park" on top of The Slab (for those unfamiliar, it's "The Great Wall" or the giant parallelogram Flatiron at the end of the North Shanahan Trail):

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Good climbs to follow the 1st and 3rd Flatirons: Seal Rock profile

Many climbers experience the 3rd Flatiron's East Face and the 1st Flatiron's Direct East Face or Fandango and look for further experiences like those. While those routes are stellar, much of the Flatirons could feel anti-climatic if you don't pick and choose the best follow-up routes. Mediocre rock quality, challenging routefinding, unplanned runouts, bushwhacking, missing anchors, and raptor closures can easily ruin a day. Don't fear. There are routes offering the same quality as the 1st and 3rd at similar climbing difficulty, and Seal Rock is a great pick that offers a couple of excellent easy routes.
Panorama View from Seal Rock summit shortly after sunrise
Seal Rock is less than 2 miles hiking from the parking on Bear Mountain Drive or NCAR on Table Mesa. From Bear Mountain Drive to the base of Seal Rock's East Face North Side route, it is about 1100ft of elevation gain and 1.8 miles. It's only 700ft and 1.7 miles from NCAR, but you will have 275ft of uphill on the return after your climb, versus a "coast" down the Bear Canyon trail to Bear Mountain Drive. Consider these details when choosing where you want to park.
This extra mile on the approach, plus a little more elevation (250ft for the 1st Flatiron, 100ft for the 3rd Flatiron) keeps the crowds to a minimum on Seal Rock. Most of the approach is on maintained trail, with the final approach on well-established climbers trail starting just after the Mesa trail branches off of the Bear Canyon trail. Look for the climbers trail on the steep embankment on the right in about 100yds from the trail split. After heading up the climbers trail for a few hundred feet, you can see the Harmon Cave on the right. The trail branches left, it can become a little more challenging to follow from this point. Make sure to follow the trail to the Seal, and don't get on the Pup, a dirty flatironette immediately east of the Seal.
Click on the photo for more detail
The Routes and the Rock:

Seal Rock generally gets climbed by it's two East Face routes, the North Side and the South Side - a natural split that occurs because of the Flatironette, the "Pup", that rests against the

Monday, April 16, 2012

Busy in the Flatirons: GPS Traces and KMLs

Here's an image of a bunch of the KML files I've recorded over the past year or so in the northern half of the Flatirons. These tracks were recorded while working or doing running/scrambling workouts.
Sometimes I feel like we don't scratch the surface of the mountain parks, but it was nice to see all of the tracks and realize that we've actually made our way around. Still, there are so many routes to do and so many different ways of running around and climbing in the mountain parks...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Determination and Inspiration

There are always reminders that many of our challenges are not as difficult as they might seem. Some people have much more profound setbacks. Here's a video of sit-skier Josh Dueck stomping a HUGE backflip on his "freedom chair", as he calls it. Apparently, this is the first sit-ski backflip. It wouldn't matter if it was the 1000th. It's truly inspiring to see someone dealt a monumental blow in their chosen path, and then get back up with a redefined perspective and push beyond. I wish that I could work half as hard as this guy.

Even more notable is that Dueck was injured in a flip. Quite the comeback.

Dueck is the subject of a documentary, The Freedom Chair, the 2011 Best Mountain Sports Film at the Banff Mountain Film Festival. The trailer is available on youtube as well.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Using video to create an accurate mental image of skiing

When I was training as a junior racer, I had the opportunity to ski with Team Gilboa at their intensive Mt. Hood summer camps. One of the things that left a big impression on me from these camps was the dedicated time for visualization practice. After I incorporated visualization practice as a racer, I felt like it was easier to grasp the concepts described by my coach.
When speaking with many skiers, including instructors who are pursuing certification, it seems like there is a struggle in creating a mental picture of accurate, effective, and functional skiing. One solution: Add visualization practice. First, watch accurate skiing. Watch elite racers and freestyle competitors. Watch PSIA Examiners and Demo Team members. Second, "see" yourself make the same movements. Following is a sample of accurate skiing imagery:

This isn't a current or comprehensive list of the PSIA Rocky Mountain Division demos but it will help those trying to create an image of successful skiing. Those in a PSIA development track will benefit from the captions describing ski performance and body performance.
Numerous studies have shown the efficacy of visualization in sports performance. It has proven benefits in physical and psychological performance. I posted this video to help some students and instructors create a more accurate mental picture of what they may want to accomplish on the snow.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

5.13d on trad gear at Ceuse

Here is a video of French climber Arnaud Petit sending a 65m 5.13d at Ceuse. The route is Black Bean, previously rated 8b+ (or .14a). On gear, Dave Macleod figures it's an E10 (!) 7a. With 30m fall potential on gear in suspect rock, that seems justified. One of the cooler aspects of this video is how Petit stays composed on some huge runouts over horizontal cams and wires. Not only does he keep it together mentally, but he continues to use momentum in his movement, rather than climb statically. It's also cool to see the huge arcs of rope draping in the air between the pro and his belayer, as well as the nice long whipper at the end.

It's a longer climbing video for one pitch, even at 215 feet, but it's great visualization for efficient, composed climbing over huge runouts. Critics might complain about the bailout option of bolts on this "retro-trad" climb. The point of posting this is to show the composure and committed movement on challenging terrain - 5.13d. It's likely that Petit is pumped, but he doesn't really show it. He climbs with confidence and clean movement. Pretty impressive with 100 foot runouts.