Monthly Archives: August 2013

Don’t Jump Out a Window

We’re rounding out the 2/3 point of 2013.  This year is flying by… so fast!  I’m really enjoying putting my passion for Climbing into words and sharing them with you.  I’m at a bit of a crossroads with my climbing, my life, and the combination of the two.  The more I think about climbing, the more I despise the constraints that my day-job puts on my climbing goals.

I’ve recently read a couple great posts from fellow climbers about having to adjust their expectations when it comes to climbing and goals.  The first was from the gals at Crux Crush.  Although I will never know what its like to be pregnant.  I understand the feeling when priorities change.  I understand putting others before yourself.  The caveman instinct in me would have already bought a converted van and be dirtbagging it in many amazing climbing locations across the US and the World.  The challenge is… I’m not a caveman, and I love my family dearly.  The well being of my wife and children takes precedence over my personal climbing ambitions.  So when I review my fairly ambitious goals for 2013 and realize I am waaaay behind pace (possibly too far behind to catch up), my first response is to get discouraged.

I see videos, like the one above, of climbers setting and hitting their goals.  I’m super happy for him, but my blood boils that I am not.  But then I realize, my life is unique to me.  And yours to you.  Like CanadianKate, I realized that happiness is not found in the destination alone, but even more so in the journey getting there.

Don't Jump Out a Window Unless you're Parkour Legend David Belle

Don’t Jump Out a Window
Unless you’re Parkour Legend David Belle

I remain positive that I am advancing in both my technique and conditioning.  I am feeling stronger than ever.  I am climbing smoother than ever.  My problem solving and route-reading seems to be very strong.  I just haven’t gotten outdoors much.  That’s what we train for anyway.  So, I’ll take advantage of those outings when they come.  But I’m not going to Jump Out of a Window out of despair.  I’m going to count my blessings and “Climb On”.

How are you doing with your goals?  I encourage you to press on and have fun in your Journey!

~ Climb 4 Free ~



It has been a little while since I last posted, and I don’t have a ton of time to write any REAL content now.  So, this will just be a quick update post.  What’s been going on recently and what to look forward to.

~ I picked up another climbing hold line to review.  Been setting and climbing on them.
~ I picked up a freelance client to design their Homewall.  Design phase is done and it will be built next month.

Look Forward:
~ Keep an eye out for a post next week about an event I am honored to be a part of.  Hint:  it involves climbing, people, and real life
~ Review coming for the above mentioned up-and-coming Climbing Hold company from a Homewall perspective.
~ I’m working on a Beginners Guide.  Its proving to be quite extensive.
~ A video update of how my modified Mangrove Tree is working.
~ Interviews with fellow “Real Climbers”

Thanks for hanging with me.  Please comment below with any topics you would like covered.

~ Climb 4 Real ~

The ‘What If???’ Game – Episode 2

Wow!!! It’s been about a month since Episode 1 of the ‘What If???’ Game. Pretty good responses.  I know how hard it can be to squeeze out a few minutes to both compile a thought and get it into writing.  I don’t take it lightly that you even take the time to read, let alone type up a comment.  I wrote a post earlier listing some climbing sites I loved and frequented often that could use a pick-me-up.  According to my click-through stats, you guys really came through, and several have even shared new content.  Thank you!!!

Well, it is time again to warm up those imaginations and share some inspiration.  Remember, anything goes! (as long as its PG)  Another Special Notice: This post will only be fun with your participation. [Comments are still open on Episode 1]

Here we go again…

You have access to:

And room for 2 more stamps on:

And one of these:

What country will you fly to first?
What sectors will you climb at?
What dream routes/boulders will you climb?
How long will you stay?
And then where will you go next?

Re-cap:  You have one month and access to a Flex Jet program and can climb in any 2 countries other than your own.

Dream HUGE and share below with the rest of us.

~ Climb 4 Real ~

Guidebook Collection

I tend to have a systematic, organized, collector type personality.  So when I really got hooked on rock climbing, I was pleased to find there were all kinds of things to collect.

Gear… oh how that shiny new gear can get the blood flowing.  A new set of cam’s or nuts for your rack.   Don’t get me started on shoes.  I discovered my favorite shoes (to date) and in order to preserve them, got a  messing around” pair too, for my training and warm-ups.  Holds for my homewall… yeah, I collect those too.

Ticks… and I don’t mean the blood sucking parasites.  I mean a list of dream ascents.  And the ability to check them off one at a time.

Climbing Partners… I’ve come to realize that one can never truly have enough  climbing partners.  For the shear fact that we all have crazy schedules, it is optimal to have lots of options when you need them.  Plus, climbing is the ultimate social activity.


So when I got serious about climbing (which didn’t take long), knowing that it would bring me to many great locations, I decided that I would purchase  the guidebook for that location.  Even if I was only going to be there one time, I wanted the guidebook for the memories… and for the collection of course.

I haven’t been to as many climbing locations as I would have liked, but I would not trade any of those experiences for another.  And there’s a bright side, there’s plenty of time left to add to the collection.

So here’s what I got so far, in the order of acquisition:

Naturally, first game Minnesota & Wisconsin.

1st & 2nd Editions by Mike Farris

1st & 2nd Editions
by Mike Farris

Then, several summers during my college years, I climbed in Colorado.

1st Edition by Stewart Green

1st Edition
by Stewart Green

My climbing trip to Arizona was a spring break adventure.

by Stewart Green

by Stewart Green

As a birthday gift a few years back, my wife conspired with my former college roommate/climbing buddy for a stellar surprise trip to Southern Illinois (Jackson Falls).

3rd Edition by Eric Ulner

3rd Edition
by Eric Ulner

And then there was the amazing trip to the Red River Gorge.

3rd Edition by Ray Ellington

3rd Edition
by Ray Ellington

That’s my collection.  Its just getting started.  I really want to get out to some more locations in the not so distant future.  I’d like to add to my collection with guidebooks from:

The King Dream Builder

The King Dream Builder

~ Spearfish Canyon in South Dakota
~ Rumney in New Hampshire
~ New River Gorge in West Virginia
~ Smith Rock in Oregon
~ Squamish in British Columbia, Canada
~ And many more fantastic locations across the world (Spain, France, Australia, South Africa).

Room 4 More

There is plenty of room on the bookshelf… and no shortage of desire to Collect.

What does your guidebook collection look like?  Share in the comments your recommendations for the best guidebooks at your favorite locations.

~ Climb 4 Real ~

EDITED to Add: Two new guidebooks added to the collection. Brand new, hot off the presses is the “Field Guide to Minnesota Bouldering” and “Willow Climbing Guide”. The Minnesota Bouldering guidebook was co-written by Nic Oklobizja, Richard Cargill, Chris Craft, and Jon Marek. It has been long awaited and much needed in this area. It comes with full color photos and a rich history for each area. The Willow River guidebook, while short and sweet, also comes with a rich history of the climbing at Willow River as well as full color photos of the many link-ups in this very steep sport climbing area.

Willow Climbing Guide & A Field Guide to Minnesota Bouldering

Willow Climbing Guide
A Field Guide to Minnesota Bouldering

Climbing Coaching Catching Up

I sparked a conversation with some local climbers about the strong youth climbers coming out of the Midwest.  As many online forum conversations often go, this one took a slight turn in a different direction, to coaching (or sometimes lack thereof).  In that exchange I received this very solid quote from one of the strongest climbers out of Minnesota, Nic Oklobzija.  Yes, that Nic O.  The First Ascentionist of The Raven (V12) and co-author of the upcoming Midwest Bouldering Guide.

Nic Oklobzija“The only things holding [climbers] back in the Midwest are that our facilities are ill equipped to train at the same level as our counterparts out west and our coaching. I think the coaching is more a national level problem not just the Midwest. [Certain teams] are making it better but it does not compare to the same level athlete training that other sports enjoy.”  – Nic Oklobzija

So why has it taken so long for climbing to catch up?  Lets dig into this just a bit.

Rock Climbing as a “sport” is actually relatively new.  Early on, climbing was almost purely an adventurous activity.  As the focus moved slowly away from Aid Climbing to Free Climbing, the challenge to increase both the difficulty and volume of climbs began to gain notoriety.  But information moved slowly.  And often inaccurately.  Like the telephone game we would play as children.  Hearsay and anecdotal.  All the while, in many sports around us, methodical and documented study was being done.  Which leads us to today.  Climbing is right there.  Missing by a hair on the short list into the Olympics.

FootballI grew up playing team sports.  Let’s use the example of Football (as opposed to Futbol).  I had a head coach putting together the overall strategy.  I had an offensive coordinator working on a specific part of that strategy.  I had a position coach working with me specifically on my role within that strategy.  I had a player-leader calling audibles when needed.  I had a strength & conditioning coach as well.

Now I understand that Rock Climbing is not a team sport, but I wrote the above paragraph to show the vast contrast.  Climbing probably compares more closely to swimming.  I can almost guarantee that an elite swimmer has a stroke coach, maybe several that specialize in each discipline.  They likely have someone that consults them on the strategic pieces within a meet.  They have a strength & conditioning coach, maybe one for each.

ExperienceSo this begs the question, why do the majority of climbers still get their information from hearsay, or worse their own personal trial and error.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am a strong proponent of the Try-Fail-Adjust growth philosophy.  By all means, try things.  And learn from everything you do.  But as the saying goes, learning from other people’s experiences is truly the best teacher.  So check this math out!

(Technique Specialist + Physiology Specialist) x Hard-Working Climber = Raising the Bar

It might look something like this…

While the discussion of having coaches makes 100% sense when it comes to competition climbing.  I’d like to expand one step further.  In other sports/activities, athletes have the option for a personal trainer  to help them improve.  Example: my wife runs marathons and now triathons.  Not professionally or for sponsorships, but for personal gratification.  She contracted a run coach.  She’s worked with a triathlon coach.  She has a swimming mentor.

So even the everyday, regular climber types (those wanting to progress from 5.11 to 5.12, from 5 pitches a day to 10 pitches, or V5 to V8) can benefit from increasing the emphasis and value being placed on coaching.

What are your thoughts?  Comment below!!

~ Climb 4 Real ~

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