Today while I was walking to work, I past some guys that were putting up a new billboard.  This isn’t one of those new fangled billboards though that they just stretch the advertisement over, they actually have to glue the pieces in place.

Anyways, I couldn’t believe the ropes that they were using.  Maybe I’m spoiled with the ropes I use for climbing, but these things were huge.  I’d hate to think how much they weighed.  I mean, I’ve got a 10mm rope, which by climbing standards is quite thick (typically used as a gym rope because it lasts longer).  However, the more hardcore climbers all have 8.5mm ropes.

Now, by contrast the multiple ropes that the workers had were at least double the thickness of what I have.  Plus, they looked like they were from the 60’s, and I highly doubt they were dynamic.  That means, when/if you fall, the rope doesn’t elongate at all, it just stops.  Talk about a painful fall.

And it’s not even like my rope was expensive.  I mean, if this is all these guys do, you can surely afford a $150 rope that weighs probably one tenth of what they currently have and won’t rip you in half were you to fall.

Hidden Peaks

On Monday I swung by Hidden Peaks and climbed for a few hours.  Now, the pictures that I pointed out in the last entry are a little misleading.  It appears much larger than it really is.  In fact, it’s essentially just a bouldering cave.  I’m not sure how sold I am on it, since there’s no place to really traverse, but it’s better than nothing as of right now. 

Also, most of the routes are hard, really hard.  There are very few V0s and V1s, and those are on the 45 degree wall.  I suppose it’ll get me strong in a hurry though.  The only downside, though, is that I’ll end up being a 4-5 move person, and so it will make actual wall climbing that much harder.

Ugh, decisions, decisions, decisions.

Oh, and I ripped up my hand pretty good when I went too.  I can tell that I haven’t done any hard climbing in awhile because the pads on my fingers definitely don’t have the calluses they used to.


I haven’t talked much about climbing lately.  It’s probably because I haven’t really done much exciting with it.  I head to the gym 1-2 times per week, and just work on the same stuff over and over.  Whatever, it keeps me in shape. 

However, last weekend was the Climbing Club’s callout trip.  Normally, I’m not all that excited about them, but this would be a great time to get Erin to start climbing.  So last Friday I brought her into the gym and taught her how to tie into the rope and to belay.  This way she’d be all set, and wouldn’t have to learn anything while we were down there.

We left Champaign at 5:30am on Saturday morning, and get there around 9ish, just when everyone was starting to head down to the routes.  Unfortunately, I didn’t know where anyone was heading, so we just kind of hiked around for a bit.  Then we watched some guy attempt a mixed route, but he didn’t know it was mix (always fun hearing someone ask if they missed a bolt).  Finally we found everyone and we got our climb on. 

Erin was a little nervous at first, which was understandable.  However, once she finished with one route she was hooked.  She was even doing the harder stuff, which impressed me.  However, she did have a hard time on some of the overhung stuff.  Figuring out how to get over bulges definitely set her back some, but hell, it was her first time outside, and second time roped up (she did a few easy routes at the gym on Friday).  Plus she was attempting 5.10a’s.

On Sunday, we were one of the first groups out of camp (we didn’t partake in the alcoholic beverages, mostly cause we didn’t bring any, and midnight bouldering), and so we headed down to something that would be a little more easier for her, so at least she’d get the satisfaction of making it to the top.  Needless to say, since we were the first ones out of camp, and it was already after 9, the route I was thinking about was already taken.  No biggie, we’ll just keep walking to Railroad Rock, since I’m sure nobody will be down there.  Thankfully no one was, and there is an easy 5.8 there.  I setup the top rope and Erin went up.  She had a couple problems where she couldn’t figure it out, but still made it to the top.  Upon getting to the bottom she informed me that she’ll be doing it again, in order to fix the problem spots.  Sure enough, she did, 2 or 3 more times. 

I was impressed.

After I cleaned the route, we headed out, since she had 2 tests this week she needed to study for.  All in all not a bad weekend.  I think she got up something like 6 routes, and I got up something like 7 or 8.  Granted, it wasn’t as many as I usually do, but it was still good fun.

Another Weekend Adventure

This weekend was yet another weekend of climbing.  This time, instead of heading south, we went north to the Mississippi Palisades.  Talk about a huge difference between climbing down at Jackson.  The rock up at the Palisades is limestone, and since it’s been heavily used is very slippery.  Also, there is no sport routes.  It is completely trad (if you forgot what that means, read my previous entry).  That meant that I wasn’t leading anything, which isn’t really the norm.  Instead I was top-roping everything.  However, I did mock-lead one route (top roped it, but put gear in as I went).  That definitely helped me get more comfortable with how to place gear, and what can go where, etc. 

The other totally different thing about the Palisades was that it’s crack climbing.  I’m used to face climbing (climbing up the face of the rock).  Now, with face climbing, you are looking for protruding features that you can hang on to, but with crack climbing, you are wedging your hands and feet into the crack.  There aren’t really any protrusions that you can grip onto, instead you have to slide your fist into the crack, and twist it.  You essentially want to lock your hand into the crack, and move up the crack.  You then twist your feet into the crack in a similar way, but you don’t slide it in deep like you do with your hand (if need be).  There are multiple different techniques of jams, but I won’t go into that here.

Needless to say, it’s friggin hard, and quite painful.  The backs of my hands are very tender, and have multiple bruises.  However, it was quite fun, and I definitely want to get much better at it. 

On another note, I went there with James and Cody.  We took Cody’s car, which happened to be a…VW Jetta TDI!  This was all totally unbeknownst to me until he pulled up at my apartment, and I heard the familiar diesel engine sound.  On the way up, we started talking about biodiesel, and he wants to get into it too!  I’m about 10 times more excited now.  I also got to drive it around a bit.  The roads at the Palisades were pretty steep, and it handled quite well.  Granted, it was an automatic, though, so it didn’t handle as nicely as the stick I test drove.  It was also the older, 90hp, engine, not the new, 100hp, one.  I’m definitely excited about a potential car purchase.

Categorized as climbing

Another Weekend

Imagine that, another weekend has passed, and it’s time to talk about climbing! 

This was the first weekend Colleen and I have actually been able to get down to Jackson for the entire weekend.  It was nice and warm and sunny, etc.  It was just about perfect for a good climbing weekend.  A lil’ warm, but good times, nonetheless.  We headed down Friday after work, stopped for a decent dinner on the way down, then setup camp around 9:30.  We ended up taking off a lil’ later then we hoped because neither of us was really packed for leaving at 5. 

James and Bill met us down there Saturday at aroun 9.  We were already on the rock when they arrived.  We started on an easy 5.7 (Jimmy’s Chicken Shack).  Both Colleen and I led it for warmup.  Then I moved on and setup a top rope on the new 5.9 next to it.  This route only had 4 bolts on the route, not including the anchors (Jimmy’s, which is the same height, and easier, has 6).  Both the beginning and the end were quite runout (large distance between the bolts, so there’s little protection if you fall).  As James put it, it was ballsy.  What really was great about the route, was the guy that bolted it (Dave), was climbing with us.  Dave’s put up a ton of routes throughout Jackson.  He’s a “local” around the area because of the amount of time he’s there.  Being retired really helps that for him too, since he arrived on Thursday, and was staying later then Colleen and I were.  I then top roped the 5.10b (Venom) next to the 5.9.  To redpoint (lead a climb clean on the 2nd or more try up) Venom is one of my goals of the summer. 

We then moved on the Express Checkout (10a) which I onsited (lead it clean the first time up).  After that I cleaned (removed the gear from a route) Wishbone (11 something).  Wishbone was a little above my ability in a few spots.  I wasn’t a fan of it.  James and Bill then went on to do some trad climbing.  Needless to say, I wasn’t about to do any of that, but I did do the dihedral (just an example) that was part of the trad route called Chit Chat. 

James and Bill headed out that night, but Colleen and I stayed the night to put in some climbing Sunday.  She didn’t want to stay very long, so that we could do some stuff later in the day.  So, I decided we should go to the other side of the gorge, and hit up some easier routes that I had done before.  Once again Colleen only led one route, because she gets scared so easily.  That’s ok though, because I feel more than comfortable leading.  She led a very short and easy 5.8, and that was it.  I then led a slabby 5.8 and setup top rope for Colleen.  Mmm, I love the slab.  I then lead (very poorly) another 5.8.  It was my first outdoor fall, and thankfully Colleen had it under control.  I fell going to the second bolt, and what really made it bad was that I fell while I was pretty much at the second bolt.  This means, when I fell, I fell the twice the distance between the first and second bolt, plus whatever the distance the rope stretches.  What makes this fall even more scarier, is that you can easily crater (hit the ground) if you fall going to the second bolt, and the ground where you’d fall has a large boulder waiting for you.  Like I said, Colleen had it under control though, so I was fine minus a little burn on my left boob where it rubbed against the rock as I fell.

And then we headed back to camp, packed up the tent, and headed home.

Hopefully we’ll get the film developed sometime before the turn of the century, and I’ll post them here.

**Update** Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention that I somehow got poison ivy on my face, ear, forehead, etc.  Always fun.  Thankfully it’s not nearly as bad as I’ve had, otherwise, I’d be going insane right now.

Categorized as climbing

The weekend

Well, it’s the weekend again, and that means, climbing!!  I’m kinda disappointed that I didn’t head down there early this morning, but I couldn’t find anyone to go with me 🙁  What made it even worse, people were going to Upper Limits today instead of heading down South.  Crazy people.  However, I’m heading down tonight with a 4 other people, so we’ll be climbing hard all tomorrow. 

Now, I’ve been hearing from some of you, Nick, that when I talk about climbing I leave some of you in the dust; especially with some of the terms I use.  Well, this next section is for you!  I’m going to go through some of the terms I’ve been using so there won’t be as much confusion.  If there’s something else you want me to explain better, feel free to shout out in the comments.

  • Bouldering

      Bouldering is the most basic of climbing.  It is when you find a rock, slap on your shoes, and just start climbing on it.  Normally you don’t climb high, instead you traverse (climb horizontally) or do specific routes.  Bouldering is a great way to learn technique and work on endurance.  It is also the most simple form.
  • Sport

      Sport climbing is what I do when I’m climbing vertically.  Sport climbing is based on permantent bolts on the rock or wall.  Now depending on the length of the route, there are around 8 bolts going up the route, and then at the top there are usually 2 bolts at the top of the route so you can create an anchor.  Now, there are two ways to do sport climbing, leading and top roping.
      Top roping is where a rope is already on the route, and is run through an anchor at the top of the route.  When you go to a climbing gym, this is what you see.  Both ends of the rope are at the bottom of the route, and the middle of it is at the top.  On one end of the rope is the climber, on the other end is the belayer.  The belayer is the one who prevents the climber from falling by using a belay device.  As you can see from the article, there are many types of belay devices, and since rei did such a good job of going through the different types, I’m not going to 🙂  The climber then climbs to the top of the route and the the belayer takes rope in as the climber climbs higher so the fall isn’t as bad.  Then, once the climber reaches the top the belayer slowly lowers the climber down.  Very easy, and is what beginners do all the time in the gym.

      However, if you go outside, there aren’t ropes just hanging on the rock (unless someone was really dumb).  If your party has some beginners in it, you want to setup some top ropes so that they can climb some routes.  Now, climbing a route so you can setup a top rope, is called leading.  With leading, both ends of the rope are again at the bottom and the climber ties into one end, but the belayer ties in right behind the climber.  Now, instead of taking rope in the belayer feeds rope out as the climber climbs.  As the climber climbs, he uses quickdraws and clips one end of the quickdraw (the non-bent gate end) onto the bolt, and the other end onto the rope.  This prevents the climber from taking huge falls by not clipping in at all.  However, falls taken while leading (sometimes called whippers) are always going to be further than if you were top roping, unless your belayer while top roping is doing something wrong.  When the climber reaches the top of the route, he can either create an anchor and setup a top rope, have the belayer lower him down and clean the route (remove the quickdraws) on the way down, or rappell down and clean the route. 
  • Traditional

      Traditional (trad) climbing is our 3rd and final type of climbing.  Trad climbing is similar to lead climbing, however there are no permanent bolts to clip into.  Instead, you essentially put your own bolts in as you climb.  This is done by using active and passive protection.  Active protection is made up of cams, which are active, in that they move mechanically.  And passive protection is made up of nuts and other things that have no mechanical movement.  Basically what you do with active and passive protection, is you wedge and work them into gaps in the rock to create your anchor.  you then clip into the webbing connected to the protection.  I personally haven’t done any trad climbing, nor have I seen anyone do any.  However, I should this weekend, so if there’s anything I’m missing, I’ll update this area. 

    I hope that clears things up for you guys, and like I said earlier, if there’s something I haven’t mentioned or talked about that you want more info about, let me know in the comments section.

  • Published
    Categorized as climbing

    The Weekend

    Damn, talk about a great weekend to go climbing.  This weekend was the “call out” trip for uiuc’s climbing club (damn that’s a hot website).  My friend James and I headed down to Jackson Falls at 5:30AM on Saturday.  It takes around 3.5 hours to get there, so we met up with the people who left on friday or earlier around 9 at the camp site.  Needless to say, they were still eating and getting ready.  James and I were ready to climb, not sit on our asses and wait for people.  We head out in the gorge, looking for easier places to climb for the beginners.  However, since it was already after 9, all the easy routes already had people on them (good thinking there club).  So, we kept hiking until we got to a place called railroad rock.  Our warmup was a 5.10a/b (don’t remember which nor what it was called).  Already this was off to a typical outdoor climbing experience with James, warming up on something that I’d have some trouble with normally.  Plus, this was only my second time outdoors (the other time, was around a year ago and we warmed up on a 5.10a/b called Venom).

    We left our only dynamic rope up on the 10a/b and moved around to another face of the rock and James jumped on an 11.  However, we only had a static rope for this climb.  Now, for those of you that don’t know the difference, a dynamic rope has a lot of “play” in it.  Therefore, when you fall, the rope stretches to reduce the instantaneous force.  Now, a static rope is what you normally use in the gym for top roping because you’re not falling as far as when you lead a route.  Now, if you fall on a static rope for any distance, it feels like smacking into pavement; a very short and abrupt stop.  Now, the real kicker is that all the force is directed to your harness which is right around your crotch.  You really don’t want to take a large, or small, whipper (fall while leading) while on a static line.  It hurts both you and your belayer like crazy.  Thankfully James didn’t have a problem with the 11 and setup the static rope for top roping (so others could use it).  I then scrambled and pulled myself up that one after him.

    Feeling totally dejected after the 11 (a little bit beyond my ablility), I lead and setup a top rope on a 5.8 for some of the other people.  That definitely helps get your confidence back, eventhough it was a retarded easy climb.  I love big jugs!

    Back by the 11, there was a new route that nobody knew what it was.  It had a nasty overhanging bouldering problem as the start.  Think, wedging your leg into a crevasse, hanging upside down, doing the splits and then doing pullups, and you’ve about got the first move.  James wanted to lead it.  However, he couldn’t get passed the 3rd bolt no matter what he tried.  And let me tell you, he tried about everything.  He took probably 10 whippers off that route.  Thank god for the grigri.  So, he came back down, but since he didn’t make it to the top all the gear was still on the bolts, MY brand new gear.  Another guy that we met there gave it a try, but also couldn’t get passed the same spot.  However, he setup this this sling with the rope, so that he could clean all the gear, tie the sling into the bolt, feed the rop through the sling, and then when he pulled the rope through the sling (once he was at the bottom), the sling would slide through the bolt.  I was more than impressed. 

    One of the other guys (Nate) saw that there was a biner and a sling up on the anchors at the top though, so he hiked around to the top of the route then rappelled (rapped) down to grab the booty.  While he was up there James told him to setup a top rope.  While Nate was setting up the top rope, I went and lead another 5.8 further down and setup another top rope for others to climb.  When we came back, James jumped on the top rope and climbed it.  I sat around and watched the other scramble thier way up after James.  We then headed back because it was getting dark. 

    Yesterday we headed to the other side of the gorge.  Before we setup the first route, one of James’ friends (Bill) showed up.  Apparantly he called James’ wife and found out we were down here.  Warmup was once again a 10 I believe (Cherio bowl).  I should’ve gotten it onsite, but I made a few stupid moves which got me off course.  Bill also wasn’t a fan of his ascent of Cherio Bowl, so we went off and did some 5.8’s by ourselves.  It was much nicer because we didn’t have to wait for anybody, and it was just the two of us.  He lead 2 and I lead 1.  We each cleaned each other’s routes (my first time actually cleaning a route).  We were just finishing up with our last route, when James came around looking for us.  Apparantly everyone else had taken off and left him.  So, we headed back to where Cherio Bowl was and climbed a “5.8,” according to James, called Captain Kangaroo.  I was REALLY pissed that I didn’t onsite that one.  One stupid move, and I had it.  I actually had the damn move, but I couldn’t hold on to it.

    All in all, it was a good weekend.  9 routes, 3 leads, 3 cleans.  Hopefully the weather holds out for next weekend, because we’re heading back down!  I just can’t get enough.  It’s so much better than climbing in the gym.

    Categorized as climbing

    More Climbing!

    I know you’re all probably sick of reading about my climbing adventures, but, well, tough.

    This weekend Colleen and I were going to head down South to Jackson Falls to go climbing with our friend James.  However, for all of you that live around here, you know that our spring monsoon started this week.  Needless to say, it was supposed to rain all weekend, so we decided to cancel it.  I can only imagine how wet the rock would’ve been.  And the campsites were probably flooded by the creek that runs through everything. 

    Instead we headed over to Upper Limits.  It was quite a productive day while we were there too.  We left here around 10:30, and didn’t get back till 5:30ish.  Granted it takes 45 mins to get there.  As soon as we were finished warming up, Colleen and I became lead certified.  That took no time at all, since all that’s required is running up a 5.7, and then lead belaying the other person.  After that we moved into the silo’s.  After a quick warmup we started leading.  James and I got in 4 or 5 lead routers, while Colleen got in an additional one on us (so 5 or 6).  Then it was on to a few top rope routes, just because. 

    We took a snack break and then headed to the cave.  James decided to try and kill us by getting us to climb on the ceiling the whole way.  Now, I was already tired from everything else that I had done, and this was just icing on the cake.  So, we’re trying all these (impossible) problems while hanging upside down.  Talk about difficult.  Keeping my ass from falling all over is a pain.  I’m really surprised my abs aren’t complaining more today.  It is early though.

    Categorized as climbing

    Leading the Way

    To begin with, I’m sorry to everyone that was having a hard time getting their rebelpeon fill yesterday.  It seems as if insight was having fun playing with their DHCP server, and my machine didn’t acknowledge the latest and greatest IP Address.  Hopefully that won’t happen very often. 

    Just so everyone knows, my birthday is coming up (March 31st), and I only accept cash.  Since my weekends are fairly packed for the next few weeks with climbing, I decided to head home to the tundra region last weekend.  My thinking was that I could get my birthday gifts early.  What I wanted was a set of Petzl Spirit quickdraws and some Petzl Attache locking ‘biners.  I really wanted these early so that I could use them for the next few weekends.  Well, I still needed to get my brother a birthday gift, so while I was up there, I got his, and he got mine.  I got him the Dave Chappelle Show Season 1 DVD and Unreal Tournament 2k4.  He got me 3 of the locking ‘biners.  Later that day my parents and I went around to various places looking for the quickdraws.  Unfortunately we couldn’t find any.  Most of the places had the Spirit ‘biners, but not the draws.  Unfortunately, if you buy the ‘biners and the webbing separately you end up paying more.  The last place we went was Moosejaw, and they didn’t have the draws either.  However, being the nice people they are, they pointed me to Planet Rock.  Now, I had been to the Planet Rock in Ann Arbor (sweet place), but I had never been to the one out in Pontiac.  It turns out it was just down the road from where we were.  So we head over there and they had them in stock!  Turns out they have both the anodized and non-anodized ones too.  The guy first told me the price of the anodized ones, and not knowing which one he was referring to, almost left the store right them.  $25 for a quickdraw is a little steep.  However, the ones I wanted were only $20, PLUS all the spirit draws were 15% off.  Ends up being just about the same price as the cheapest I could find on the internet.  And I get the instant gratification of having them right away.  So, my parents pick up 5, and I buy an additional 5.  That should be enough for right now, but I’ll probably get 6 more sometime in the near future (after I get my next paycheck). 

    So, last night, I head over to Vertical Plains, and learn how to lead from James.  All in all not too bad.  I definitely need to master the art of clipping, but that will come with practice.  Tonight I’ll be heading back to VP to do it some more, and Colleen will come with to get more practice leading, since she’s only done it a few times.  This is a great week to be learning this stuff because it’s spring break here at UIUC, so I pretty much have the gym to myself.  The only down side of learning to lead, is now I have rope burn on both of my pointer fingers.  I’ll have to remember to tape that area tonight before I start, otherwise it’s going to hurt a lot.

    For those of you that have shown interest in climbing, I’d recommend coming out to VP sometime this week.  If you get in touch with me, I can probably get you out there for free too.  I think Colleen has some free passes.  I’ll be there tomorrow and Thursday, so just lemme know.  The guy that’s working there this week, James, is great.  He is by far the best person I’ve met for learning how to do various things.  Even if you’re brand-spanking-new.

    Categorized as climbing

    Deep Breath And..


    I suppose I should elaborate a little.  I don’t know why, but lately I’ve been feeling very, “bleh.”  I know one of the reasons I feel this way, is because I felt very weak today at the gym.  I was there with a couple guys that I’ve been climbing with lately.  I don’t know why, but lately I’ve felt like I haven’t been able to do anything at the climbing gym.  I’m sort of worried about going down South in a couple weekends.  It’s not that I am worried that something bad will happen or anything, but I just don’t think I’ll be “as good” as I could/should be. 

    It’s very annoying, but it shouldn’t be.  I’m not as good as the guys I try to keep up with at the gym.  I shouldn’t be.  They’ve been climbing a lot longer than I have (which is only a year or so).  It’s just that 2 weeks ago (before I went to Grand Rapids and fell off my schedule), I felt as if I was able to keep up with them a lot more.  I haven’t been able to get to the gym as much nor as regularily as I’d like in the past 2 weeks, and I think it’s started to show.  Who knows, though.  I could just be full of it, and am only thinking this way because of the way my mind seems to be set. 

    I think it started with that stupid test.  And it feels as if it just keeps compounding.  It most likely isn’t, and there’s no reason it should feel like this, it just does. 

    Ahh the joys of wanting to be great…(key word being “wanting”).

    Categorized as climbing