Friday, February 03, 2006

Climbing, Skiing, Travel

I've been under the gun a bit lately trying to finish everything up before heading to Scotland and Norway, plus there's a German TV show shoot in there and some other stuff, hence the lax bloggage.

Tonight I was planning to just chill out and write a bit after a solid day of training, but then Josh showed up and heckled me into doing some crazy ski moutaineering AT race tomorrow morning. Something like 3800 feet of up and then down with some more up and down in the middle at a local ski area. Lasty year I switched to ancient AT gear because it was easier than using my tele gear for skiing into ice climbs, but I haven't skied in real AT boots with my heels locked down in at least 20 years--I've been a "meadow skipper" telemarker for the last 20. This year I scored some new BD skis, AT bindings and Scarpa boots--it was all in boxes in my garage until Josh showed up, a frantic couple of hours later we had it all put together. My first run with real AT gear will be after I finish the first "up" bit of tomorrow's race, should be pretty comical. All my normal ski gear is vintage tele gear from the late 90s--now I'm looking at fat skis, new skins, new boots, it's like Christmas but I really don't have a clue how to use any of it. Josh gave me the crash course in fat skin removal (sticky bastards) and so on, but my experience with AT gear could be charitably described as minimal. But I'll bet racing will be more fun than not racing, plus it should be a savage aerobic death fest. I'm fired up to gasp like a goldfish for a few hours, the experience should be interesting and tomorrow is an upper-body rest day anyhow. We'll see how it goes...


Had a great day out today with JD in Hafner Cave. This is the "default" climbing area for me, it's the fastest access around for fun, hard climbing. We did laps on the new M9 (?) to the right of Fire Roasted. Fell off the very top on the big flat blocks on the on-sight, always annoying but I got careless. After getting really pumped running up and down laps we then drove back to Canmore and hit the Vsion for some "Power," and it did indeed take all the power away as planned. I set a new "tracking" drytool problem (30 move problem, longer than many routes) in there last week, it's got a lot of "Steel Koan" style hard climbing, big moves and dangling. Worked on that a bit then did front levers and campus action, I love days like this, just giving it, I feel like I've done something worthwhile with the day.

The workouts for the last few days haven been consistent if not inspired. I'm missing a big goal, a route or a comp or something coming up, so I'm training until that happens. Scotland and Norway should be more about long days out, so I've been running and skate skiing a bit too to build some sort of cardio base. The workload with non-climbing projects has really bitten into my "long day out time," but the results of the desk time are satisfying too. My pinkie fingers are also pretty mangled right now, the swings on Steel Koan put high loads on them. I've got about a half inch of dead skin padding on each little finger but think I've bruised the bone underneath, it's really sore. Maybe this means my training has been more intense than I realized...

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Sad News on JC Lafaille?

The energetic, motivated and super-talented French alpinist JC LaFaille is missing and presumed dead on Makalu. This one tears at me, I've enjoyed meeting and climbing with him in a few different places. The first time I met him was in a gym in France--for some reason a few of us were climbing in a gym in winter, and this rather short guy shows up and starts just hiking the hardest routes in the place. We struck up a funny conversation and had some fun yanking on the plastic. I finally figured out who he was, a true legend in climbing for so many years, starting way back in the 80s with sport climbing and switching it up when he started climbing what I consider to be the boldest Himalayan alpine climbs of the last 10 years. I can think of no other climber, ever, who was so good at all aspects of climbing. 5.13 solo, big new routes in the Himalaya, hard dry tooling, he did it all. He was relatively unknown in the US and Canada, but he was a hero of mine for many reasons. A year or so ago I was cimbing in the Vsion in Canmore and who should show up but this rather short guy, you know the rest of the story. Chance meetings like that always made me smile, he was game for anything involving climbing, and I just kept running into him in Europe and North America. The media is not holding out much hope (story in French here, "pas de trace" says it all), but I'm not going to totally write him off just yet, he's come back from some pretty far out places before.

It always stops me in my tracks when one my heroes turns up missing. The Himalaya extracts everything from people all too often, it's just such a huge range--figuring out what's really happening on a 3,000 foot face at low altitude is difficult, figuring out what's happening in a range the size of the Himalaya, while at altitude, is about impossible judging from the number of super-competent people who have died there. It's not generally the climbing that kills people in the Himalaya, but the cold, mental collapse, bad systems, etc. JC was trying to solo a route in winter--this is closer to polar exploration than climbing in my mind, it just shows how far out of the box JC could think. How do you go from being a child sport climbing prodigy in France to suiting up for winter solo in the Himalaya? Amazing.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Life, Training


Being sick all of last week and the week in Ouray has combined into a cluster of "get it done yesterday" stuff. I'm not climbing outside much right now and am starting to get a bit annoyed about it, but sometimes work has to come first. Writing, emailing, booking travel, wasting time on the internet, training, it all adds up to some full days right now. No complaints but I wish there was more time in the day sometimes, or that I didn't waste as much of it as I do. Whine whine enough.

The "Aweberg" ice berg climbing video is finally near completion, Martina and Graham down at Emerge have done a great job of what's become known as "Gadd-wrangling," or getting what they needs from me to do their jobs. I did a combination video/slide show Saturday night for the ACC Rocky Mountain Section meeting, thanks very much to everyone who came out for it. I showed the standard definition (it was all shot in HD, we've edited in SD) version of the Aweberg show there to a packed house, the feedback was really positive. It was encouraging to see the video with a group of people and listen to them as they took it in, Emerge has done a great job putting it together. I saw the near-final HD version today in Calgary, the video looks so much better in HD, plus with the final music and so on it's going to be a show everybody who worked on it can be proud of.




Rest and work, short Yoga session. Was going to train in the evening but got back from Calgary late and didn't, still felt sore from Saturday, some other excuses... I'll train harder tomorrow.

Stretching and a 45-minute run pre-slideshow, stress out about slideshow, do slideshow. Wasn't planning to do anything after the show but then Ben Firth got into a hockey mood and we ended up sprinting up and down the ice for an hour chasing the puck until they turned the lights off on us, hockey is such a wicked workout! I thought I had an OK shot until Firth showed me I didn't know jack about shooting a hockey puck...

Felt a little worked after yesterday's session at the Vsion but went and did it again. Felt much better (goes to show you never know how a workout is going to go until you do it, so do it), made progress on my "normal" boulder problem (the blue one in the corner, it's nasty for me right now), then did tool laps in the cave, including trying a new drytool route I set, it's nasty too. Finished out with front levers, handstand pushups and offset pullups, best workout I've had in a long time. I don't think I lost as much as I thought I did during the week in Ouray and the sick week after Ouray, but I didn't gain anything either, time to put the energy there and build.