Thursday, February 26, 2009


I love blogs. I haven't had any time to write recently so I'm sending you an old friend's blog. I haven't seen Will in at least a decade. But I've heard about him, which hard to to since he's done a lot of media stuff and has become one of the best ice climbers in the world. He's always been a writer but in his case this forum is preferred because it allows him to let his enthusiasm go unleashed (pun intended, perhaps, though you'll need to read about him to know). He just did a big futuristic route in Canada, which is how I heard about Gravsports, so I'm forwarding it on to you. Good clean adventure; well told. The recipe for a perfect blog. Enjoy.

Will Gadd's Gravsports

From Will's web site. Words to live by:

But please consider this: You’re obviously on your computer right now, which is a clinically proven hazard to your health. Please consider turning off your computer and getting outside immediately. It could save your sanity, or even your life. I don’t believe anybody ever died wishing for just one more day in front of the monitor. Tonight you will have moved one day closer to your end game. What are you going to do with this day?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Ball Don't Lie

“I thought he’d be the first black president,” Wetzel says. “He was Barack Obama before Barack Obama.”

My brother, a philosophy teacher and ex-ballplayer, sent this to me titled, “The best article on basketball I’ve ever read.” My take is that it’s a lot more than that. It’s a metaphor for life.

It’s long, in-depth, and analytical. It takes some thought to get through; and you’ve got to sign up for the NY Times (free) to read it. But if you’re interested in digging into your brain's trenches and looking at topics you’ve not considered, it will be well worth your time. I’m pretty busy. It took me days to get around to reading it. Once finding the time, I wished it would go on and on.

“Here we have a basketball mystery: a player is widely regarded inside the N.B.A. as, at best, a replaceable cog in a machine driven by superstars. And yet every team he has ever played on has acquired some magical ability to win.”

The storyline revolves around an analysis of why Shane Battier is one of the games most effective players. If you haven’t heard of him, or thought he was a stiff, that’s part of the catch. It goes into this, and more, and should leave you thinking not only different about basketball, but life in general. I can apply this rationale directly to any place I’ve worked, or even to how family units work together.

We live in a sensationalized world, where the squeaky wheel indeed gets the grease. But what makes it go around is not just those in the limelight, but those who seek primarily for excellence in self, no matter what others think.

The No Stats All Star
By Michael Lewis

Thursday, February 12, 2009

P90X Better Than Steroids!

The X is gettin' some serious love lately. My dad calls the other night and says he watching a show in the Giants and two pitchers, Zito and Wilson, are doing 90X. Tony calls me the other day to get my opinion on something because NBC is coming over to film a segment on Wii and wants the X perspective. He calls me again, a couple of days later from a plane on his way to do more X interviews and says, "Dude, you see the Grammys last night?" I hadn't but Sheryl Crow gave us a huge shout out from the red carpet.

Then, yesterday, I get this from Tony:
On WFAN, (biggest sports radio station in NYC) the host was talking this morning about A-Rod and said something to the effect of "his body was never that chiseled, not like he had a P90X body or anything".

This, for those of you not privy to the national news, is a reaction to Alex Rodriguez admitting that he'd been doing steroids. In reality, steroids don't make muscle, they just increase your body's ability to build muscle. But in a world where we see advertisements to "build muscle without steroids" as if the public thinks it's impossible, it's nice to get a little validity for our system. Anyone can have an X body. All it takes is a little structure and a lot of hard work.

Note: Jon Congdon (our President) sent this and I think it's a nice addition:

Everything you see about P90X that might appear to be PR is "organic" -- meaning that we don't pay for PR, and don't hire celebrities or athletes to do it, or talk about it. It's advertised on TV, in magazines sometimes, and more and more on the Internet, but we don't do PR. If Cheryl Crow, or Usher, or an MLB, NHL or NFL athlete buy it, they buy it just like everyone else and either because they saw the infomercial or a friend told them. That's what's so amazing about the P90X phenomenon of late.

P90X Better Than Steroids!

The X is gettin' some serious love lately. My dad calls the other night and says he watching a show in the Giants and two pitchers, Zito and Wilson, are doing

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Some People Wouldn't Think This Was Fun

A lot of people don't understand my life. This makes sense because I don't get how most people spend their time either. I guess that living with a goal of accumulating wealth and comfort is normal. It just seems I've spent a lot of my life trying to live with neither. Now I don't mind comfort. I like my house. I like turning the heat on in the winter, but I never feel more alive than when I struggling with the elements. It's like Bud said, "Most people spend their time trying to avoid tense situations. Repo man spends his life trying to get into tense situations."

One of my favorite mountaineering quotes is from Kiwi George Lowe, which was recounted by Ed Hillary in an old out-of-print book about his life called Nothing Venture, Nothing Win. I probably can't remember it verbatim but it went something like this: They were trapped on a Himalayan mountain for something like seven days. Hillary recalls, "I don't remember much about the storm except that somewhere around day three or four George came over to my tent, stuck his head inside and said, 'Ya know, Ed, some people wouldn't think this was fun.'"

My buddy Ben just did a huge first ascent down in Patagonia, an area famous for its discomfort. To most people, this probably looks a tad psycho. When I see it, my heart aches with longing to be out there with them.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Making Progress

My back seems to be making progress but that’s not what this post is about. I’m definitely moving better since the cortisone shot but the fact that sitting still bothers me is worrisome. But I’m doing everything I can so I try not to think about it. I do about an hour of PT daily, walk the dogs, hangboard, and can now climb a little.

I can’t ride, run, ski, or sit comfortably through a meal—meaning I’m pretty boring socially. But climbing is a form of traction. As long as I don’t fall (well, land) wrong or use my leg too much, climbing seems to help.

On my walks I’ve been looking for obscure traversing projects. Traverses are good because they can be long and stay low to the ground. This way I can train for climbing routes, alone, at my own pace. The best of these, by far, is one up in Big Cottonwood we call the G-Spot. It sits high above a crag in a secluded alcove overlooking the canyon with great views of the high country. It has a classic 30 move V4 traverse, and a low V10 traverse, that can be linked together in various ways. The result is a perfect training wall with a jillion dollar view.

My project is to link, eventually, the low traverse into the higher ones. Right now, I can’t do most of the moves on the low traverse, so I’m trying to link short section into the upper traverse for training.

Yesterday, things started poorly. I didn’t feel good and the hard sections I wanted to try felt like they’d put too much strain on my back. I was feeling a bit dejected and almost gave up, but it was a beautiful afternoon, so I sat down, enjoyed the surroundings, and thought about how to turn the day into a positive.

There’s an old climbing adage that says “make progress”, meaning each day you’re out try and find a way to further advance your ultimate goal. The aim is to make it further on a route than you have prior—that or doing a new route. But you can’t always do that, so it can also mean finding a new sequence, a trick, or maybe even ways to save energy on the approach or descent.

There’s a section of the traverse that’s quite unpleasant. It’s pretty easy, so there’s never been a good reason to try and make it nicer. But if I was going to spend some time it sure would be better if this section were more fun to climb. It’s like Patrick Edlinger once said, “To just try and get to the top is a waste of time. The goal is to climb in a way that’s pleasing.”

photo: my obscure object of desire. above and below: the edlinger quote comes from one of these two vids from the 80s. enjoy the vintage show.

My first few attempts were disheartening. I starred at the available holds, determined to find a better solution. Even if it were harder it would be okay if the movement were more aesthetic. I tried a series of highly improbably body positions until one put me into the correct balance to be able to flow through the section. Viola! I practiced it a few times and began to feel better, even stronger. I ended the session by doing a linkage I’d never managed before. As I postholed through the snow en route to my car, watching the sun set into the Wasatch, I felt quite fortunate to be living such a cool life.