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So… This is hard?

So boulder problems are graded with the V scale. There’s a rough translation to the Yosemite Decimal System below, but it should be understood that the systems are different.I understand the YDS as the on-sight difficulty of a route- encompassing technical difficulty, pump, route finding, etc. The V scale seems to only include technical difficulty. There’s exceptions, but that’s the basic concept.

Translating between the systems is kinda hard because equilvalent boulder problems are technically harder than their roped conterparts. For instance, a 5.10 climber should be able to do V0-V2, but the actual moves on V2 may be significantly harder than 5.10s.

Went back out to the Gill Boulder on Friday. I sent the Horan Face. It has really sharp holds!

Cut up fingers

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Desert Towers

If you live in the Denver-Boulder area, please join me tomorrow at Neptune Mountaineering (8:00PM, $5) for a slide show by Chrusher Bartlett. This desert climbing legend will present on Desert Towers (more info here). If you don’t live around here, I’ll tease you with some of my favorite memories of towers…

Castleton Tower


One of the more accessible desert towers (2-5.9 climbs and close to Moab) Castleton was my first tower. Andrew and I accidentally hopped on North Face (5.12) instead of North Chimney (5.9)… The scars on my hands are a constant reminded of this mistake. A couple days later, we climbed the North Chimney (success!).

The Kor-Ingalls route is one of the “fifty classic climbs”, and rightly so. Justin and I tried to climb this on the cold March morning. After post-holing to the base, and struggling for a pitch, we bailed. A couple days later we tagged Castleton and The Priest in the same day.

The Priest


This tower is 800 yards from Castleton, but probably sees 1/20 the climbers. This is an unforgettable climb that includes: a tight chimney (like ” I can’t turn my head”), a wide chimney w/ a 30 ft run out, and a spread eagle position with 300 ft of air between your legs (right before the crux). Highly recommended.

One of the coolest summits, and the climb isn’t scary or very dirty. Got on this with a severely sprained ankle one time, I could barely fit my climbing shoe on over the wrap.

Lizard Rock

Does this even count? 5.8 R makes it worth while.

Light House Tower

A sweet little tower just outside of Moab. Great, small summit with manditory 5.9 down climbing. Did this at the end of a long trip to Moab. This climb was a real test for me at the time. One of the only cool days that summer.

Independence Monument

Another good entry tower. Lots of fun and safe.

Damn, I gotta get to the desert again.

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The "L" Word

It’s the word your partner is dying to hear. Part of you even wants to say it, “Lower”.

This is a mistake. I’ve lowered from the sharp end a few times, it stays with you, like the girl you never asked out in high school. The first time was some 5.7 in Joshua Tree. Joe “Crimpz” was belaying me, and took the lead. I TR’d without falls.

(Photo Bob Horan, courtesy mountain project)

Another time was on Genesis in Eldo. I just couldn’t ball up on the upper ramp- blaming my shoes. Again, I TR’d without falls.

The point is the mind can really limit you. If you push through, you will be a better climber for it (and have one less regret).

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Review- Long on Adventure

Review: Long on Adventure- The Best of John Long

On a book shelf filled with guides and a few random engineering books, the compilation of John Long’s best stories is a gem.Did you know Long was part of the first climbing team to summit El Cap in a day? Additionally, he was the top ranked US kayaker for three years (with Class 5 first descents), has made first contacts with native jungle tribes, and explored more countries than I have fingers and toes.

This book has adventure and soul. I recommend it to everyone. In fact, drop me an email and I’ll mail it to you for free. The one stipulation is you must return it, or pass it on when finished. Or buy the book for $5 at Chessler Books (a great climbing book retailer).

kris - I second that recommendation. John Long is a gifted writer. Combine that with the extraordinary life experiences he has had and you have a great read! Thanks for lending it to me, Eli.January 15, 2009 – 9:55 am

Eli Powell - No Prob Kris. I can still hardly believe the story about kayaking in Mexico. I retold that story to Amy, and she started crying- pretty intense.January 16, 2009 – 7:07 am

Andrew - Could you bring that book out with you at the end of the month? You have talked a lot about it and was curious about reading it.January 19, 2009 – 2:19 pm

Eli Powell - Will Do. See you then.January 19, 2009 – 2:24 pm

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Pre Climb Tactics

Okay, a couple more items to help prepare for a tough climb…

Food: I try to eat some simple calorie (like granola or peanut butter) a little while before climbing.

Movement: Scope the route from the ground. Mimic the moves- focusing especially on your core muscles.

Skin: Make sure your hands are clean. I won’t even hold my girlfriends hand on the way to a climb because she uses moisturizer. Also, have some dude lather you up if you need sunscreen (alternatively, you could use spray on sunscreen).


Got out to the Gill Boulder in Eldorado on Friday. Here’s a quick tour…

Problems were: V-, Ament’s Face (V4) , V5 (?, not in guide) .
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Smoke & Mirrors

The props are many: Milk crates for a table, a crashpad for a couch, a laptop as an entertainment center, 4 plates & a frying pan as a kitchen.

The illusion is this: I can pick up & leave at any time.

I have a great job, a good relationship, and plenty of friends and climbing around. Yet, I’m only comfortable when pretending I’m not tied down and -in the whole scheme of things- I’m not.

I just corresponded with my college friend Devin. He spoke of his new wife, new house, new job, and lack of climbing & seeing friends. Damn, he’s tied down (not that it’s bad, he has it good). I urged him to start climbing again and hanging with some of our friends that are still in Lincoln.

I dream about picking up and traveling a lot, but when I REALLY think about it- like what I would do on a day to day, etc.- I only think of being bored and rather alone. I’m happy where I’m at, for now.

kris - wait, then whose furniture was that in pics in previous posts? I see, smoke and mirrors. Or, maybe you were just at somebody else’s place.January 12, 2009 – 5:54 pm

Eli Powell - I photoshopped in the furniture in the other pics, j/k. Yeah, I was at my sister’s place.January 12, 2009 – 6:23 pm

Andrew - I know how you feel. I had to laugh at your “furniture”. My apartment is just as scarce.January 19, 2009 – 12:35 pm

Eli Powell - Andrew- your place is homie compared to mind. Thanks for always letting us crash there.

EliJanuary 19, 2009 – 2:28 pm

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