Tuesday, December 25, 2012

12 Days of Psyche: Mountain Epics

For your 12th day of Psyche I present... Christmas. For your gift here are a few snowy adventures from climbing prodigy David Lama. As a teenager he dominated the World Cup circuit before parlaying his talents in the mountains. He's already doing some of the hardest and most coveted alpine ascents in history and is basically just warming up as he learns a new craft. We can't even imagine what the future holds.

Have a Patrick Swayze Christmas everyone! The 'dope will get back to business after the first of the year.

Monday, December 24, 2012

12 Days of Psyche: Girls Killin' It

... on hard, local boulders. Here are two vids of Brit Mina Leslie-Wujastyk on a recent trip, making mincemeat of some of America's hardest boulder problems. There's also a short synopsis about the trip in Rock & Ice, punctuated with her thoughts on heading back to training after the trip.

As we turn the corner into real winter, Leslie-Wujastyk, though liking outdoor climbing best, is unperturbed to face gym days.

“I like training,” she says mildly. “I like trying hard. I get a kick out of seeing the improvement.”

And since I said "girls", here's Alex Johnson flashing a very scary V9. And she looks casual. Super rad.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

12 Days of Psyche: Why We Climb

This is a great interview with the late Patrick Edlinger. I don't generally find climbing interviews inspiring but this one is different. "Le Blond's" views don't seem tainted with jealously or disdain about the new generation, which is so common it's become cliche. He's extremely positive and insightful, and also gets at the heart of why we climb.

"You're obliged to to focus on here and now. To concentrate totally. All of a sudden you forget your problems. The things that don't interest you."

We also get to hear the story of Ceuse, still probably the single best climbing cliff on earth. How he stumbled upon it on the eve of a trip to the US, tore up his tickets, and stayed there for the next four years. It's like a climbing dream (literally for me as I've had so many dreams of finding epic crags I can't begin to remember them all.)

But, since an interview isn't enough for Psyche, here some "Dreammaker" action from 1982, the brilliant film Life By Your Fintertips. It's got one-arm pinky pull-ups, doing the splits between boulders, a sweet van, high white pants, German techo music about robots, drum solos; basically anything you'd need to get motivated to climb.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

12 Days of Psyche: Making Weight

Since it's the weekend and you theoretically have more time, here's a pretty cool movie that's on Netflix play it now called Occupation: Fighter (also on Amazon et al). It's about a no-name fighter training for his shot at the title. It's a pretty good movie but if you aren't into fighting you can load it and just watch the best part, which comes near the end as he's training for his big night and then has to make weight. This section of the film is AWESOME. As anyone who's wrestled well knows, making weight sucks. It's interesting here to see how things have gotten more systematic but that doesn't really make it any easier. It looks miserable and will certainly help you get through your next workout when life has you feeling like eating donuts instead. He also takes a full body ice bath (a couple of shots make the trailer), which is another one of those I'm-more-dedicated-than-you moments. All in all, it's one of those movies that reminds you that you could be training harder. Get after it!

Friday, December 21, 2012

12 Days of Psyche: Buildering

Here's a 3- part Psyche for your Friday. When I first began climbing we buildered all the time. Gyms didn't exist and real rock was a pain to get to so we made up all sorts of circuits on the UCLA campus. Next, during the start of the sport climbing movement, routes of glued-on holds under highway underpasses became all the rage until,eventually, gyms became the standard and buildering mainly disappeared. These three vids show that it's still alive and well in some parts of the world. The first looks like better climbing. The second one come with this claim,

"At 2:42 min you will find a boulder called "FEINDESLIEBE" (EnemyLove) Font 8B+/8C, and in my opinion the hardest builder in the world."

I'm not sure how the guy would know, given it's a sport based on mainly lore (not to mention it's often illegal) but, whatever, it's pretty cool (click on the quote) and almost makes we want to look for some urban circuits around here.

Finally, we have an actual climbing vid that also features some buildering and makes it look pretty creative--perhaps even more fun than the route.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

12 Days of Psyche: Snowy Mountain Biking

Cool vid of hittin' the trails, roads, and bike parks around SLC and Park City in winter, from local company Boo bikes, a bamboo bike maker. Local is a world prospective, as Boo is located in Colorado, but they're main riding, Tyler Wren, hails from Utah.

This is a lot like what my winter's looking like. Some of the Yak attack's going to look like this and I've got to be used to it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

12 Days of Psyche: Rad Blind Guy

Dogs, friends, climbing, nature; what more do you need? Apparently not much. I have to say that I'm not usually inspired by stories of handicapped folks doing stuff. Not that they personally wouldn't inspired me, because I'm sure they would, but because those videos are almost always presented in the same hyperbolized light, as if there was a fundraising event about to follow. Drives me nuts because I find it embarrassing for everyone involved. Anyways, this video is not like that at all. It's just a guy out there, living life and having fun. And it's friggin' great. And super inspiring. And it's at the cliffs near Bruce and Alisa's home. And he has a very special dog.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

12 Days of Psyche: Power Climbing

I love this style of climbing, which is a hybrid of bouldering and climbing. Routes like these require total focus once you leave the ground. You can never rest, or even recover, and the added element of rope and gear make them feel much different from bouldering. It's not the kind of thing most people associate with climbing, where the common sentiment is higher, longer, better. But the way I look at it, the longer a route is the easier the movements must be, leaving for more margin for error. Short climbing require, as Todd Skinner said, "laser-like focus". Most of my favorite routes have been similar.

Monday, December 17, 2012

12 Days of Psyche: Record on the Tour Divide

Here's a short but inspiring vid about the guy who set the Tour Divide record. This has to be one of the most grueling physical challenges out there. It also seems a bit boring unless you're wired like this guy. Given it runs more or less through my backyard, one of these years I might have to try and get enough time off work to give 'er a shot. For more about the race, you can now stream Ride the Divide (a documentary about the TD) on Netflix: Ride the Divide

Sunday, December 16, 2012

12 Days of Psyche: Climbing Alone

The Almighty: A Climbing Story with Tyrel Mack from Fisher Creative on Vimeo.

Yesterday's Loskot vid got me thinking about climbing alone. I might have climbed alone in my life more than with other people. I certainly do at the moment. Now it's because I'm busy and never sure when I'll have some time. Once it was because I was so un-busy that I couldn't find others with enough free time to always be out. In actuality, much of it's choice. I like being outside, in nature, alone. Because everyone else seems to think it's so weird I enjoy vids like this, if just to remind me that there are others out there like me. Today's Psyche has a totally different tone but what it lacks in rad is made up for in mood, at least in my opinion. So there.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

12 Days of Psyche: Klem

How do you one-up Haston? You don't, but Klem Loskot is back to climbing and that's pretty cool. He was always one of the biggest characters in the sport. Not just because he was strong and put up ground-breaking ascents, but because his style of both finding the routes and recording them were, well, different. He's was always off the beaten track and always very.... something. Austrian? The video is one example.

He quit climbing for some years but is back and, apparently, still very strong. Here's a really good interview on Rock & Ice. Click the excerpt for the rest.

It matters a lot because it gives you access to the flow, the feeling of climbing weightless, dancing up with smooth moves. It’s amazing, like in skiing or surfing! This feeling is what "sport" is all about. It is hard to get it in climbing because you need to be very fit.

Friday, December 14, 2012

12 Days of Psyche: 1500 Pull-ups

Fuckin’ Stevie Haston, man! Psyche doesn’t always require video. Reading Stevie’s blog is like one long strange Psyche trip. This guy is, what, 55 years old? He’s been bolting all day (harder than climbing) and he comes home and rattles off 1500 pull-ups. It’s just so.. SO… rad. Then he posts this:

A perfect bolted a brilliant route, radiant sunset. . Got home and did 1500 pull ups on the board..... Still haven't mastered the small sloper with one hand, anyway there is always tomorrow...

So, yeah, in the midst of all this he’s trying to hang a hold at his power limit. I don’t care if none of this sounds sensible because this guy’s older than me, stronger than me, and out training me. He wins.

Today I did a lot, me happy if I can keep it up for a couple of months I will improve. Simple Innit?
- Stevie un-bored Haston

Thursday, December 13, 2012

12/12/12: A Tradition Ends, A Challenge Begins

Yesterday marked the end of era, as me and some of my friends (mainly Hans) have used these yearly aligned numbers as an excuse to tackle a hard physical challenge. It’s ranged short, savagely-intense workouts, to day long escapades, to odd historical tours. The only thing that mattered was that it was hard, which all, very much, were. Except yesterday.

Since it’ll be 89 years until another such alignment I wanted to finish in style. However, being bed ridden for two straight weeks with a puzzling respiratory ailment picked up by riding through our summer of smoke, I found myself in no condition to push any sort of physical, or mental for that matter, limit.

I do, however, have a bike race coming up that I have to find a way to train for. With a new prognosis I feel I’m on the right track. Anyway, I can’t afford to waste much more time and harbor any realistic ideas about finishing what’s promoted as “one of the world’s toughest adventures.” It’s time to move forward, so here’s what I came up with.

12 X 12 X 12 equals 1728

So I plan on doing 1728 reps of 12 different things in the next 12 weeks (takes me through the race), beginning by doing 12 of all that apply. Here’s the list:

1. Training* minutes on the bike
2. Pull-ups
3. Push-ups
4. Lunges
5. Yoga moves
6. Ab Rollers
7. Stairs climbed IAD (in a day)
8. Steps carrying my bike IAD
9. Rocks thrown for Finnegan and Iris
10. Hours of actual bike racing (28.8)
11. Hours of trekking in Nepal (28.8)
12. Ounces of beer

Yesterday I did 12 of 1-9, which was sadly hard. If all goes well I’ll knock this list off well before I leave in Feb, which will easily if I hope to have any sort of chance of riding my bike over 18,000’.

I’ve set up a golf scorecard. After one day I’m 21 over par on every hole. The goal is to change that as quickly as possible.

Sorry about the lack of posts. Work and illness have taken all my time. But, as it’s December anyway, all we really need to some psyche to keep us rolling into the New Year. So, starting tomorrow, I’ll finish out the year with 12 days of Christmas Psyche.

pic: drenched in sweat in 08 during 'crazy 8s' with hans florine

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Bananas and The Most Ripped Man In The World

"There's some strong climbers here," was the first thing Wolfgang said after scouting a new cliff. "I mean, like, REALLY strong!"

We were checking out a "secret" crag in Slovenia, back in 1993 or 4, the rumored training ground that had pushed the Slovenians to the label of world's strongest climbers. This was before internet, accessible video, and a world where new hard routes were presented to the public as soon as they were done. Sport climbing was still new and we were all looking for secrets. The Slovenians, who had a long track record in elite alpinism, had found a cliff that was supposed to be the best in the world, allowing them to churn out an entire generation that was supposedly wreaking havoc on the standards.

While all that turned out to be more-or-less true--we ran into a group of virtual unknowns who were all climbing at a higher standard than any American--it's not what this story is about. Wolfie had bumped into "The Banana Man", as we came to call him, who was, and still is, the most ripped person I've ever seen in my life.

The Banana Man wasn't Slovenian, or even that great a climber, but man did he look like it. Running into me, a person who searched out strange diets, seemed like fate. I spent the rest of the trip attempting to tap into his logic.

You see, this guy ate bananas. A lot of them. Like a gorilla, which he looked like. He had a massive bushel of bananas in his van that took up more space than a person. It was the craziest thing I'd ever seen. On my return to the US we began to eat far more bananas.

pic: leather is always in. wolfie and gernot with the grand dame of osp, slovenia. she would sell you climbing gear but only if you had a glass of wine with her first.

I never, however, got really into the full-on banana diet. The banana man didn't climb any harder than me. It's simple to deduct if you eat nothing but bananas you'll be ripped, since your diet lacks almost any fat or protein. But, still, he was performing at a high level on a diet that didn't seem possible to survive on, which was a great example that what we learned in school about nutrition wasn't set in stone.

I'm bringing this up because I stumbled on the above video and the site 30 Bananas a Day, which seems like it's run by the same friggn' guy (who also makes a great case for cycling your coffee for performance). Also, one of my older posts has an anecdote from a couple of utlra runners who live on mainly "expired" fruit they can buy from the grocery store for almost nothing. Their health is still fine, and they win a lot of races. Hard races.

The moral of today's story is the nutrition science still has a lot of unknowns. Take advice with skepticism and don't be afraid to experiment. As for me, I think I'll get back on the bananas and see how it plays out this time around.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Revisiting Psyche

Yesterday Bob Banks posted an article titled Revisiting Psyche. The gist of it is that he ran across an old bouldering guide (written by me) that he had all marked up in his quest to do every problem in it and couldn't believe how psyched he'd once been.

Today I picked up my old copy of Edwards' Santa Barbara Bouldering (1997) and thumbed through it for the first time in over a decade. Marked on the inside cover with my name and The Castle phone number should I lose it, it's quite a walk down memory lane. The book is bound together with a rubber band, torn up and marked up with scribbled field notes and comments on nearly every page. At my current state of climbing psyche, it's hard to believe how psyched I once was, spending every rest day walking through the hills looking for more stuff.

We all move on in life. Bob went on with those notes to write the definitive book on Santa Barbara bouldering. But this is a cool post for another reason. Reminiscing of bygone days also plants seeds. Those days are gone, sure, but reflecting on them helps create new ideas, dreams, and motivation.

It's inevitable that priorities shift and single-minded focus becomes fractured. But with life comes experience. An invaluable tool for sorting things out efficiently. "Youth is wasted on the young," said everyone's favorite wit spewer, Oscar Wilde. It's a sentiment hard to argue with,especially doing a workout at P3 or seeing teenage girls do this. But I do fight it or, more accurately, roll with it pretending it's not happening. My life is better than it was, I can continually improve it, and there are still lifetime goals out there, even purely physical ones, to be obtained before I ride off into the sunset.

Finally, it's important to note that I am not alone in this belief. I can be a tad optimistic, as Bob likes to point out, but I'm still getting stuff done and there's no good reason that you can't, too. Thanks to my job I get to witness people who change their lives on a daily basis, at almost any age. And while we never get our youth back we simply don't need to. We can do anything we want. And we can do it now.

pic: cover lore - yes, that's tuco the rat, standing on top of one of the better boulder problems i've established. more shockingly, it's phil 1) bouldering 2) outside 3)not at the tor. finally, it's a jason houston shot, bringing back even more memories of psyche and singlemindedness.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Warriors for the Working Day

I love December. Not for the holidays and indulgence, but because it’s the month I reflect on past year of training and get to re-shuffle the deck and create a new template for what’s next.

The year’s wane is always a ghost town here at ‘the Dope. I’ve had over 2 million readers, and less than 1% of them have engaged in December. So I’m dedicating this month to my friends and the die hards interested enough in training to still be reading about it when the rest of the great unwashed is reveling to the point of disgust, hoping it will motivate them to make a proper New Year’s resolution.

This month I won’t distill for the masses. It’ll just be straight talk on training, motivation, and other assorted oddities that will hopefully be amusing and, if you don’t get it, it’s on you to catch up. God’s will I pray thee wish not one man more.

We few, we happy few. We band of brothers. For he who sheds his blood with me will be my brother. Be here ne’re so vile, this (month) shall gentle his condition. And gentlemen in (America), now a-bed, shall think themselves accursed that they’re not here, and hold their manhood’s cheap, while any speaks who fought with us...