It's been a while, but Kai Webler (one of our Media Spotlight media producers) is back with the first installment of The Northeast 4. This episode features some lesser known problems and variations at Farley. Check it out!
Connecticut climber Greg Shyloski took at trip to Alaska this summer and put together this video showing some great beach bouldering in Kenai. On his facebook page, Greg said, "Since I started climbing at 15 I have always loved climbing within the sight or sound of water. Lions Head, Great Head, Wild River...Wild beautiful places with water sculpted features and wind off of the water. This summer I was lucky enough to climb on the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska near Nikiski Beach and Captain Cook State Recreation Area. When I traveled there I was not expecting great climbing, but the climbing ran in the quality vein of those other places in regards to natural beauty and quality climbing. "
It's been a while since we have posted up about a blog that we enjoy. Not sure if it's because we haven't seen anything interesting, or we've just been busy with other, better stuff. Our latest favorite, Just Go Climb, has been around since July, but just popped up on our radar today. This slick website chronicles the travels of Boston-based climbers Gabi Enos and Brandon Fox on an epic road trip around the U.S. So far, they have visited Bishop, British Columbia, Rocky Mountain National Park, Montana, and Wyoming. Their site has the typical "from the road" stories but also gives insider tips on travelling to these great areas. Check them out and be prepared to be jealous, very jealous...
In NEB’s early days, we had many great contributors. Barney Waters was a Boston-based climber with a wicked pissah sense of humor. Here’s his take on defining the language of bouldering from our old Bouldering School section.
English As a Second Language
by Barney Waters
"I have no idea what you're saying to me right now", my girlfriend looks at me like I'm speaking Norwegian with a mouthful of marbles. I have been trying to explain exactly what it is I do every weekend when I disappear into the woods with a spongy mat and a toothbrush.
As she walks away and shakes her head in a cocktail of disgust, despair and open mockery I realize that the root of the problem is simple...... my girlfriend doesn't speak Boulder. As a result I have attempted to define some of the basic words in every boulderers vocabulary and hope that any of you who are in need of a English/Bouldering dictionary can make use of it for yourselves and those non climbers around you. I would leave you only with the disclaimer that my definitions are not exactly 'official', and as far as dictionaries go this one's about as legitimate as a sighting of Elvis playing chess with the Loch Ness Monster.
Boulderers climb problems not routes, implying that the boulderers task requires more thinking, consideration and solving than simple route climbing. This might even be true if you exclude chalk, tick marks and climb V14. There are more interesting alternatives offered in a thesaurus, such as 'Conundrum', 'Dilemma' and even 'Can Of Worms' which I now use exclusively.
A grade in regular terms is a mark indicating a level of accomplishment, an accepted standard, and a degree or stage in a process. Many people think bouldering grades are life or death but we know they are way more important than that. Bouldering grades can be used to measure your progress, impress your friends or inflate/deflate your ego. Once you have climbed the hardest grade you are free to disown the whole grading process and take a spirituality angle.
The current grading scale used by most of the developed world. The 'V' comes from the safety conscious originator of the grading scale, John 'Volvo' Sherman [ed. note: the 'V' in the V-scale comes from John Sherman nickname of 'Vermin'].
A successful ascent. Apparently the term 'to send' is a slang descendent of the word 'ascend'.
Mango Tango might be orange and crimpy, but then so is Carrot Top's hair. Crimp not only describes a thin fingertip hold but also a method of creating wavy hair.
Successful ascent of a can of worms after multiple tries. Alternatively the result of unprotected sex.
The moment when your body stops rising upward and before it starts to fall back downward, and the optimum time to latch a hold that requires dynamic movement to reach it. Alternatively a condition of sexual dysfunction that affects some older men.
Often used to gain the top of a boulder, a mantel requires the boulderer to push down with their hands to allow a foot to gain the same hold as the hands when no other higher handholds are available. Out of respect for Mickey Mantle who hit 536 career home runs, I prefer to call this move a 'Mickey', and suggest you do the same.
The father of modern bouldering, John Gill was maybe the first climber to focus on bouldering exclusively and to introduce dynamic movements into his ascents. Gill's ascent of The Thimble is thought to have helped legitimize bouldering in the eyes of the climbing establishment of the time and pave the way for bouldering's popularity today. While John Gill's climbing style has set the tone for thousands, the same cannot be said for his 'John Stockton' style shorts.
Having both hands or both feet on the same hold. If you thought matching was about having your shoes and chalk bag in the same color then you may be in the wrong place.
A boulder problem that is high enough to inflict injury upon you should you happen to blow the Mickey. Also a cocktail served in a tall glass. Also a common sport climbing injury caused when taking a long fall in a tight harness.
A face or boulder that is less than 90 degrees. Requires technique and strength to even get off the ground.
Beer poisoning. Requires technique and strength to even get off the ground.
Spanish for 'hollow', Hueco's are the round sunken holds formed in the rock at legendary bouldering area Hueco Tanks in Texas. They could have been called 'Tanks' but that word was already taken by the army.
Sit Down Start:
Sitting one's rear on the ground to get the most movement that the boulder may allow. Often the sit start part of a problem can add a level of difficultly to a regular standing start and make you look like a freak to passers by.
A problem or section of a problem that involves lateral movement. The term 'traverse' can be used broadly in the outdoors and so if someone tells you they have just completed the Presidential Traverse in the White Mountains of New Hampshire it may be irrelevant to ask whether or not they did the sit start.
A pocket small enough to only allow the use of one digit. Insert your own joke here.
On paper a spotter is one who watches and guards a performer during practice to prevent injury. In reality a spotter is your friend who stands underneath you smoking a cigarette, looking around to see what else is going on. If you let out a blood curdling scream you might get a hand raised below you. It's unlikely you'll ever get a 'home run spot' which is when you have people crowded below you arms raised like baseball fans in the bleachers underneath an incoming home run ball. That only happens in magazines, unless of course you're famous.
Tips, info, tricks, words, slight noises, weather predictions, nods, Morse code, extra sensory perception, body language, dog barks or anything else that could give any possible indication whatsoever of how to climb a particular problem.
Climbing a problem first go with no beta and no falls.
Climbing a problem first go after having received beta, regardless of whether or not you asked for it.
An offwidth is a crack which is basically an annoying width, but Annoywidth doesn't sound as good. An offwidth is too wide for a hand jam or a fist and too narrow to chimney, so usually requires a combination of wedging, squeezing, chicken winging and all other means necessary.
Chicken Winging, or just Winging in general:
Not actually a real word.
My Oxford dictionary is quite accurate on this one....'A fine jet of liquid discharged from a pressurized container'. Just replaced the word 'liquid' with the word 'bullshit' and that's pretty much it. Use that sentence you just read as a fairly good example.
Legendary forest bouldering area in France, pronounced 'fon-tan-blur'. You could pronounce it 'Fountain Blue' but the locals will probably look at you in disgust, berate you in their native tongue and then spit on your shoe.
Not following the natural line offered up by the rock itself, but instead adding or eliminating holds or features to alter the problem to your specifications. In a nutshell, 'artificial'. Eliminates would be considered contrived and the jury is still out on Britney Spears.
A term to describe a tiny rock edge that is barely enough to get shoe rubber to stick to, or for Fred Nicole to dyno to, match on and then campus from.
Boulder problem in Camp 4 in Yosemite, arguably the most famous boulder problem in the world. Also a release of gas while you're asleep, especially after having eaten Indian or Mexican food.
Your source for all things climbing and bouldering in the Northeast, but you already knew that.
Most of us take access to the boulders for granted, but luckily we have the Access Fund always working to make sure we don't lose access to our great boulders. Although tick marks and chalk don't usually offend climbers, those white marks all over some boulders do offend other users and some land managers. Please click here to check out the Access Fund's "Ticked Off" advice.
Before he went on to become one of the founders of the Camp4Collective and official North Face photographer, Tim Kemple provided NewEnglandBoudlering.com with many great photos and features. I like to think we gave Tim his start, but really it was clear Tim was destined for great things from day one. Here's an old article he did for us in March 2000.
You could smell the intensity oozing through even the tightest panels in the floor. Two well built men stared each other down. They had fury in their eyes. Shouts soon ensued and punches were nearly thrown as the two men vented their frustrations on each other. Finally, being restrained by friends, the two turned their backs to each other and one let the basketball he held in his hand, fall to the floor. It was Wednesday and a pick up basketball game at the Whit (at UNH) had just been cut short. As I walked away from the still tense scene, I couldn’t help but wonder how these guys could take a small, insignificant, pick-up, basketball game so seriously. I mean what was the big deal??? At least I knew I hadn’t, and wouldn’t ever, take anything so trite, so seriously, right?
After calculating fourth and fifth derivatives, and tangents of every plausible fashion at the absurd college hour of 8:00am, I picked up my friend Jon Dickey, and we started down to Lincoln Woods. There weren't any problems we had worked on lately that we were psyched to send, or at least none that had made our minds stay awake all night as we visualized sticking the final hold in our heads. There were, though, several problems in the backs of our minds that “we wouldn’t have minded getting on.” The bright sun made even this chilly, early, February day warm.
Jon and I got to talking about the events I had seen unfold before me the day prior, and it wasn’t long before we realized that we too, analogous to the b-ball players, had taken many a climb and even climbing day way too seriously. We concluded that while its great to have a project or goal, sometimes, a lot of the time, climbers tend to get sucked into their own little world. All that matters is this route or this number, and in the process of doing this we seem to loose touch of our personal reasons of why we climb, much like the basketball studs had done the day before. When we get this focused, this selfish, essentially we lose touch with the feelings that draw us back to the cliffs and boulders time and time again. When climbers take their climbing too seriously, gone is the feeling of skin gripping the sandpaper-like sloper on a crisp autumn morning, gone is the bite of the tiny crimp at the end of an all day marathon of bouldering, gone is the feeling of running it out above that number zero friend on sun warmed stone, and gone too is that creepy feeling you get when you weight, and then come face to face with that tiny sky hook that sits ambiguously on a tiny granite flake. Instead, funny moments in the car are blurred by thoughts of the route YOU MUST SEND, and all the friends you meet along your journey, what ever it may be, are lost, or rather replaced, by tiny pieces of micro beta, that will hopefully get you up that 10, 100 or 1000 foot piece of stone.
Now feeling like a Buddhist Monk instead of a climber, Jon shouts out, “holy shit, we just passed a big boulder.” I glanced back repeatedly as we weaved in and out of three lanes on Route 95 South. In fact, there was a large stone sitting besides the highway, and it was basking in the rays of sun that would force even Floridians to wear T-shirts in February here in New England. Seeing this as the perfect opportunity for an adventure and for fun, I weaved into the right and lane and exited immediately. By the time Jon had figured out what was going on, I had the car on a back road somewhere in Massachusetts, pointing towards the boulder. We hugged the highway on a pock marked road that soon lead us to a large industrial park. There, in the middle of the woods engulfing the large metal structures that made up the industrial park were several large granite boulders. Smiles cracked our pale faces. Out came the wire brushes, pads, chalk, shoes, and camera. Screw the Woods we thought, we’re climbing right here (even though we weren’t quite sure where here was).
With out a doubt, my most memorable days of climbing have been days like this one. Days when we make a random decision to go to some random area, be it a new discovery, or well-traveled destination, will always be days I’ll never forget. Its on these days, when we do something totally out of the blue, that I feel most at home, the free-est in a sense at the cliffs and boulders. It's in these days that I can seemingly feel every molecule of wind brush over my hair, I can feel every grain of chalk ground into my phalanges. Simply, on these days, something indescribable happens. I’d guess I’d call it euphoria. Perhaps its because all of the worries, and hype usually associated with “sending” a problem or route, be it a long term project or newly found gem, are dropped by the wayside. For once its truly is just you and the stone. For once their really are no worries, no names, and yes, even no numbers. Also, I feel that I climb my strongest and best on these days most likely because I’m free, “weightless” essentially on these days.
The boulders were granite, and excellent Conway-esque granite at that. Jon and I both found obvious lines up a large granite boulder. Mine started on a completely textureless sloper, and moved up a steep wall on crimps and side pulls. FUN. Jon’s problem started just to the right, from a sit on underclings. Feeling like Superman with x-ray vision, I watch the chalk crystals float away as Jon slapped a tiny edge and worked his way to the exit slab. We picked away at the plumb lines on the massive boulder, leaving the obvious leaning crack that was baking in the sun, like a Thanksgiving Turkey, for last.
The crack, started with large jugs on a steep wall, and then met the lip. The crack then turned from finger size to a tiny seam, only opening up occasionally to offer holds an ant wouldn’t like to hold on to. This situation forced a huge lock off to a mono finger lock high in the seam, finishing with the mantel onto the slab. We threw ourselves relentlessly at the problem until Jon finally unlocked the sequence, grunting and powering his way to the summit. He came down, and we just relaxed on the crash pads for a while, took a hit of water and moved onto the next boulder.
We spent the rest of the day frolicking in the woods putting up random problems, always laughing, and having a great time. Some of the problems reminded us of Rampage footage in Squamish, while others were like problems in our own backyard at Pawtuckaway State Park. In all we probably put up twenty problems that day, but we weren’t keeping track. From slopers to crimps to dynos alike, it was the best time a climber could ever ask for.
Which brings me to the purpose behind this story. I invite and encourage all of YOU to have the best day of climbing ever. I encourage all of you to practice a random act of randomness. Do something totally random, forget your project for a day, forget all preconceived notions about a route or area for a day. Instead, do something totally random, simply for the your love of climbing and the outdoors. Try to climb a 5.10 at every cliff at Rumney for the day (yes, the Northwest Territories too). Go buildering in the city for an afternoon instead of visiting Hammond Pond, or bring harnesses and a rope to the Woods and lead Loadies Traverse... in two pitches..... getting the idea?? There is no reason why you can’t still push your physical limits in any of these situations, but importantly , you’ve included the most rewarding aspect of climbing; having fun! So please, trust me, the next time you’re on the way to do the climb you’ve worked all season to do, go do something totally random instead. In the end, it won’t be that 5.12 you finally redpointed that you’ll remember and retell for days on end, it will be that day when you did something totally out of the blue, something just because it was crazy and fun, the day you practiced a random act of randomness.
Here's an oldie from our Bouldering School history section:
The Rhodey Loadies
So named for their penchant for smoking loads of pot, the Rhodey Loadies were the driving force at Lincoln Woods in the 1970s and 80s. Many of their members did the first ascents of such classics as Mack's Traverse, Iron Cross, Try Again, and others. Paul Baird, a member of the Gunks' famed Vulgarians, was the group's ringleader and introduced the woods to most of the other Loadies. Paul wrote us and said, "The triathalon was really a quadrathon (Rhody Loady Rodeo): 1. Swim across the lake, 2. Boulder 250pts not 100, 3. Bike 50 miles (up into Burriville(sp?) and back), 4. 10K run around the lake (Start & end at Lower Druid Circle picnic area). When the one time the Loadies did it as a race we eliminated the swim for fear of drowning (still a killer workout); however I used to do it with the swim as a wacked out training program and could never get any of the Loady youngsters to join me!" John "Whitey" McLean, one of the best known climbers in the northeast, was an early member of the group and sent many problems during this time which remain stiff testpieces. The Scoop on the Heart Boulder and Whitey's Hardest on the Yosemite Boulder are two good examples. At a young 44 years old (Whitey is now a bit older than this!), Whitey still pulls down with the best of them and is an inspiration to old guys everywhere.
Neil Pothier, the original teen sensation, amazed the loadies by sending many hard problems of the day including Neil's Lunge in The Cave and Neil's Nose on The Egg. Neil occasionally shows up at the woods, and even right off the couch, still can climb pretty hard problems. Ed Sewall was the first one to snag the finishing hold of Try Again, and climbed many other hard problems at the woods.
Mack Johnson, of Mack's Traverse fame, put up a lot of problems at the woods, but may be most well-known for putting the R on the rating of Blackjack Crack at Rumney. Although it is not clear whether he was soloing the route or attempting to lead it, Mack fell and broke his back on the talus at the base of this massive boulder. A latecomer to the Loadies, Andrew Sornborger sent many hard problems at the woods including Pete's Problem and Just Do It on the Try Again Boulder. Most of the Loadies took the climbing skills they honed at the woods to cliffs and boulders across the U.S. Baird has done first ascents across New England including on Cannon, Whitey has redpointed many 13s at the New River Gorge, and Ed Sewall reportedly redpoints 13s at Smith Rock.
Boston-based climber Josh Larson has been around the New England bouldering scene for many years. His local first ascents include Cat Daddy, a V11 at Farley, and Everything is Purple, a V11/12 at Rose Ledge (featured in the video at the end of the interview). Josh is currently the head coach for the MetroRock climbing team and is sponsored by Gramicci, 5.10, Organic, New England Ropes, and Zen Lizard.
Recently, Josh has taken a huge step forward with his own climbing having an amazing trip to Bishop in December and coming within a matched hold of winning the national championship at the ABS 16 National championship. NewEnglandBouldering.com caught up for this interview with Josh between sending and competing.
You had a great trip to Bishop in December, sending The Spectre and Buttermilker, both V13s. Tell us how the trip went and were these two problems your goals for the trip? Are these your first V13s?
The trip to Bishop was a great escape from plastic climbing and the smell of the gym since I got back to the states in October. In the fall, I try to get out as much as possible but when November/December rolls around it’s time to focus on some plastic training for ABS Nationals and comps. With the Bishop trip, I really wanted to focus on a hard project (I have a tendency to try hard things and move on, and then say I’ll return but find something else). We planned on being there for 12 days so I figured I could put all my time into a few hard lines. This trip to Bishop was my 2nd time there but my first was in 80 degree weather on a road trip passing through. That first trip I really didn’t get a good taste of the Buttermilks. I had to check out Spectre because it stood out to me the most. It’s a beautiful giant granite bloc with one way to the top and just enough bad holds to get there. The other bloc was The Buttermilker, sitting in a cave it stood out as a nice cold sunny day bloc. My friend and local climber from New England, Max Zolotukhin, was there and sprayed me down on The Buttermilker beta. After doing all the moves I rested and returned two days later for the send! It was actually my first V13/8B and it went quicker than I thought it might. After supporting, spotting, and watching Charlotte Durif finish off her first 8A on Xavier’s Roof it was time to check out Spectre.
I was actually a little nervous to go check it out, knowing that once I saw it, it would consume my time and energy until I had to leave or it was done. After day one on Spectre, I couldn’t do two of the moves, but I explored the top outs and chose the left one; taller than the right exit but I think more secure…I think. After figuring out the micro beta for the big left hand latch and then the release during the evening of day two, I took a rest day. I returned to Spectre on an early, very cold morning, warmed up on Seven Spanish Angels (amazing bloc) and headed to Spectre. My first go I fell on the left hand latch. My second go I stuck the latch, readjusted and released, and for the first time, held the swing, matched and took it to the top..whoa dude. That might have been the most memorable, emotional experience I’ve ever had climbing, maybe in life. But climbing is my life, maybe that’s why it makes sense to me, to keep climbing and pushing myself, regardless of anything.
You seem to be able to do well at both indoor comps and outdoor projects. How are you able to excel at these two very different aspects of bouldering? With comp route setting moving towards more “trick” moves on volumes do you think it will be harder to excel at both?
My training changes and adapts to the upcoming trips, comps and events I have planned on my organized, messy calendar. If there is a big comp that I care about, I focus on comp training in the gym 4-6 weeks leading up to it, rather than go outside (I still get out though). If I have an outdoor trip planned, I’ll try to get outside more and get that baby skin toughened up for the unforgiving yet to-die-for rock.
Preparing for “tricky” comp moves just comes with experiences, good and bad, they both push me to learn and train more. Slab loaded with volumes, gives a lot of competitors the heebie-jeebies when approached. I don’t mind them so much, but train flexibility and weird moves for slab (weird meaning "I hate the position I’m in right now"). You won’t like every boulder in a comp, but you’ll need to climb it, so prepare for it.
How did the ABS Nationals go for in your mind?
Each round of the competition felt great, I think I was in a really good rhythm. Once I left Isolation during the qualifier round, I removed everything around me, I only thought about the necessary things, no room for outside thoughts. I knew I could climb strong, I knew I could climb smart. I just needed to fully focus. Not the focus when you say to yourself "okay, focus now” but the type of focus that you have when you’re not even trying, when you let go of trying to control it and it just comes naturally. I was thinking about nothing but the boulders in front of me and the beta I will use for each move, I committed to those thoughts until I reached the top. I climbed through each round with confidence and energy until I reached the final round. Then I had to prepare to try my hardest to win. I knew it was anybody's game.
How are you taking the fact that you could have won the national title with that match on problem #4?
Ah yes, the match. I feel like I'll hear about this for a while, maybe until next year? I am handling it in two ways: first one that pops in my head is that I could have won if I matched, now I have to wait 1 year to redeem that match. (Vasya Vorotinikov texted me and said I should go to a hold matching clinic, thanks buddy...) People often come up to me (or random texts) saying “You were so close to being the champion bro! One match away man!” The other side of me is thinking that it’s pretty awesome to “almost” be National Champion. I was really happy with how I climbed and how I handled the pressure of National finals. I climbed calm, smart and tried as hard as I could. I’m very happy with the outcome. But yes, it would have been insane if I won.
Are you going to compete in the world cup?
This year the IFSC is hosting 5 Bouldering World Cups. I will be attending all of them thanks to one of my biggest sponsors Gramicci. With help from some other sponsors and possibly USA Climbing, I will attend all 5 WC this year fully covered. It was a goal of mine to make the team and be eligible for the WC circuit and to see the world through the eye of bouldering comps. I will head to France early April and boulder in Font and the Switzerland for a few weeks and then train in the south of France until the WC start end of May. They are in 1) Toronto, CAN 2) Vail CO USA 3) Chongquing, China 4) Haiyang, China and the last one 5) Munich, Germany. I’m really stoked to have the opportunity to attend the circuit and see what I’m capable of.
It seems that New England climbers have a long history of moving away to take their climbing to the next level (or world level in the case of Dave Graham). Do you plan on sticking around or do you feel like you need to move to reach the upper echelon of bouldering?
Whew, great question. Can I advance my climbing based here in Boston and travel to the best climbing areas in the world or do I move? I have been advancing for the last 5 years since I started climbing again. But really, my biggest gains have been in the last 2 years, since I started traveling more and saying “yes” to every travel and trip opportunity I get. So maybe seeing different areas, meeting different people and climbing more gets me psyched to be a better climber. Ever since I dropped what I was doing and went on a 100 day road trip with my best friends, I realized that this is it, I’m climbing and traveling until I can’t move anymore. I may be 29 but I don’t care at all, I’m living and breathing like I have no age. But yes, I feel like I need to move around and see everything, climb all the climbs that inspire me and eat so many “recovery burgers”.
Grades in New England seem to be a step behind the top standard in the U.S. and the World. Do you think V15 exists in the Northeast and who will be the one to climb it?
I think that V15 does exist somewhere around New England (maybe we’ve found it, we do like secrets in NE). I think someone just needs the patience and strength to find it and learn it. But yea, what’s with that? We have to have one laying around here somewhere. We have 5.15 but I think the leap for our slew of V13’s to V15 is a big leap vs the leap from 14d to 15a. But that’s just me. The sport is growing and the youth is getting stronger, so it may come down to another generation of freaks. Time will tell us.
Thank Josh, good luck at the World Cup events!
If there's one thing that Matt Giossi likes, it's steep bouldering (has anyone ever seen him climb a slab???). Check out this video that includes some of the most overhanging boulder problems in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Tennessee!
When most people hear the phrase Connecticut Bouldering they think of one amazing access-challenged area (starts with a B and ends with a Y) that holds some of the hardest problems in the Northeast. However, Connecticut is a big state with a ton of bouldering. Hunter Pedane has been documenting these areas and has put out Volume 1 of his video series. Enjoy!
All this snow got me thinking about shoveling off some projects and that reminded me of an old article I wrote for NEB. It's been a while but here's a Throwback Thursday from the archives of NEB.
Winter Bouldering, how cold is too cold?
by Joe McLoughlin
Winter bouldering is not for everyone; your feet and hands can get cold, your fingers can hurt like hell, and the melting snow can make everything soaking wet. That being said, I personally much prefer bouldering in the winter over any other time of year. The friction is perfect in the lower temperatures, the sun is low in the sky and sharp, and there is almost no need for chalk. The inherent nature of bouldering, short routes, frequent attempts, and quick returns to the ground, allow for climbing in colder temperatures than sport climbing or trad climbing. Noone wants to stand around stomping your feet while you partner works a move or endure a freezing cold belay on a wind swept ledge (unless you are into ice climbing, which is a whole different level of suffering).
If you haven't clicked to another page by now, winter bouldering may be for you. The following tips will help you better enjoy a cold, crisp day of winter bouldering:
1. Keep your feet warm!
The single most important thing to do is to make sure your feet stay warm. Your feet are the hardest to get warm once they get cold. Therefore, how you start out is key. As you are driving to the boulders, place your climbing shoes on the dashboard or on the floor near a heating vent, and crank the heat up. Get your shoes toasty warm. The only drawback to this is if your shoes stink, so will your car. Once you get to the boulders, place your shoes inside your jacket whenever you are not wearing them. This will keep them warm at all times.
2. Invest in microfleece
The most important pieces of clothing are microfleece pants and a microfleece shirt. These items will keep you nice and warm, and will not let you get cold if you work up a sweat.
3. Wear a really warm jacket
This may seem obvious, but err on the side of caution here: wear the warmest jacket you own, preferably down. This is to keep you warm between problems and to keep your shoes warm as described above.
4. Bring a thermos of hot tea, coffee, or cocoa
This serves two purposes: 1. there is nothing better than a nice hot drink on a cold day, and 2. the hot liquid works wonders for warming up frozen hands. Pour a cup of the hot beverage, and just hold the cup (drinking it is optional).
5. Find a south facing boulder or a boulder out of the wind
This again may seem obvious, but it is very important. The south faces of boulders are always sunny. There can be a 10 degree difference between the north and south faces of a boulder. This benefit really becomes apparent while bouldering. When sport or trad climbing, most cliffs only face one direction. With bouldering, you can usually climb on any side of a boulder, and can find the sunny and/or sheltered side.
6. Bring a tarp
This only applies if there is snow on the ground. A good 8'x10' tarp can provide a nice dry area to shoe up and spot, keeping your shoes ready for sending. We sometimes will clear the snow off of the tops of south-facing boulders and around the landings, to allow for climbing on sunny days.
7. Place a handwarmer in your chalkbag
This can make the difference for some people, and definitely increases the comforting factor of working your hands into the chalkbag.
If all this sounds like a little too much, then head to your local gym. I won't be there to crowd it up. However, if you are still interested in winter bouldering, try these tips and don't be afraid to make some modifications. These tips have all been gained through painful experience and trial and error. If you come up with something that works for you, send us an e-mail and we will add it to the list.
We have received many comments and suggestions about making winter bouldering more enjoyable. An obvious omission on our part, someone wrote in, "like your mom always said...put on your hat. You probably didn't feel the need to mention this because it is a fact that every boulderer wears a hat any time they are wearing underwear. For example, in a 105 degree gym with no shirt on." The oddest (but perhaps most effective) recommendation we received, "chili peppers....not the hot new shoes, but the real thing.. habeneros, locotos, jalepenos and ceyenne really do the trick. Eat them, rub dry ceyenne into sock, into shoes, wherever the skin hits the cold air. The deal is the increase in circulation. Eating peppers before going out will help with circulation throughout the body for several hours. I would avoid chilis in the chalkbag, however, they add nothing to the friction and if the fine dust gets in your eyes you are S.O.L." Finally, one local boulderer wrote in that he uses toe heaters in his climbing shoes; however, he wrote back a few days later that they actually made his feet too hot.
Back in the heart of the bouldering boom, there was no one that was more enthusiastic or tried harder than Obe Carrion. The yin to Chris Sharma’s yang, Obe took the bouldering world by storm with his personality and hard sends. Who can forget Obe yelling at himself to not let go (Don’t you let go) in the Big Up classic Free Hueco? Unfortunately, Obe burned out and left the climbing scene for a while. Fortunately, Obe is back and has put his enthusiasm into coaching (heard of Ashima?) and designing gear for Mad Rock.
Obe hooked us up with a pair of his new Mad Rock shoes, the Redline to test drive. Here’s our take on the “game-changing climbing shoe that pushes you through the redline for the send.”
First impression out of the box, these shoes are well designed, well made, and look good!
The sizing was right in line with my street shoes, which I thought would be too big. However, these shoes aren’t designed to stretch and the fit was perfect from the start.
The elastic support bands that keep the tongue in place are genius. There is no way for the tongue to be anywhere than where it should be.
Can you say aggressive?!? The concave sole and Arch Flex Technology creates a super aggressive fit that works on the steepest of boulder problems. One thing is for sure, this ain’t no slab climbing shoe!
Overall, these shoes get a higher rating as the angle of your projects gets steeper. The aggressive fit focuses the power on the toe and for steep climbs; you won’t find a better shoe. If you are into slabs or lower angle climbs, this shoe is not the one for you. All of us here at newenglandbouldering.com are glad that Obe is back, the bouldering scene always needs more enthusiasm and definitely less letting go!
Given the geologic history of the Northeast, there are scattered pockets of climbable rock throughout the area. A lot of these are on private land and have, over the years, led to locals having their own secret areas. You may or may not agree with the concept of "secret" areas, but due to access issues, some areas are destined to remain "secret." Some, like the Ayer boulders, have legal access, a few amazing problem, and can be shared with everyone. Some will never be accessible to the public. Kai Webler has compiled a bonus video to his Northeast series showing a slew of these problems in Western Mass. If you want to check these problems out, I suggest hunting Kai down and begging him for the goods....
2014 has been a big year for NewEnglandBouldering.com. We made our triumphant return and saw many big sends all around the Northeast. Our NE's Hardest and Best features seemed to be big hits, and we look forward to adding to the Hardest list in 2015 (get out there and send some hard problems!). We look to add to our momentum in 2015 by continuing to work with some of the great media producers in the area like Back Mattress Media, Kai Webler, and Chris Motta. We are always looking for new contributions, so if you have something you think might go well on this site, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for the support and Happy New Year!
noun: enigma; plural noun: enigmas
1. a person or thing that is mysterious, puzzling, or difficult to understand.
If any bouldering area in New England qualifies as an enigma, it has to be Lynn Woods. I see photos and videos (like the one below) and think, wow, this place looks great. There seems to be tons of boulders there (see Mountain Project's page here) with problems of all grades, yet whenever I talk to someone who's been there, I generally get a less than enthusiastic description. So what is the real story with this place????
There is talk (complaints) all over the interwebs about how bouldering videos are all the same: gangsta rap music, shirtless dudes with beanies, and lots of yelling. Well, Sandstone Media Productions has taken the traditional bouldering video format and tossed it in the dumpster. If you can get past the fact that it is a big Adidas ad, you will either love or hate or this video. Paris La Nuit is an artistic masterpiece that has broken the mold and created a new way to look at bouldering.
Just updated the results to date on the voting for the best boulder problems (V1 through V12+) in the Northeast. Click here to check out the results and cast your vote! We are going to keep the voting open until November 15. Here is a summary of the results so far:
V1: Zig Zag Crack at Rumney, 80 votes (64% of the votes), Cream at Pawtuckaway, 20 votes
V2: TIED! The Wave at Lincoln Woods, 34 votes and The Whip at Pawtuckaway, 34 votes
V3: Hobbit Hole at Pawtuckaway, 50 votes (40% of the votes), The Pond Cave Traverse at Lincoln Woods, 24 votes
V4: Overlooked at Pawtuckaway, 52 votes (29% of the votes), Heart of Glass at Lincoln Woods, 46 votes
V5: Sleeping Giant at Happy Valley, 30 votes (29% of the votes), Snooze Button at Great Barrington, 15 votes
V6: Ride the Lightning at Pawtuckaway, 41 votes (46% of the votes), The Wave at Farley, 15 votes
V7: Homefront Arete in Central CT, 24 votes (19%), The Buddha at the Gunks, 15 votes
V8: Appetite for Destruction at Farley, 43 votes (41% of the votes), Dopeman at Pawtuckaway, 14 votes
V9: Pipe Dreams at Farley, 42 votes (65% of the votes), Barbed Wire at Lincoln Woods, 10 votes
V10: Speed of Life at Farley, 26 votes (47% of the votes), Sterogram at Farley, 14 votes
V11: Suspect Device in Central CT, 28 votes (42% of the votes), Pretty Bloc Swag at Pawtuckaway, 13 votes
V12+: Roses and Bluejays at Great Barrington, 28 votes (75% of the votes), Touching the Sky at Smuggler's Notch, 5 votes
The V2 grade is currently tied between The Whip at Pawtuckaway and The Wave at Lincoln Woods. Let's get some more votes to decide this one. Voting will reamin open until November 15, so these results can still change.
Kai Webler is on a mission, a mission to get high quality video of every boulder problem in the Northeast. Well, maybe not, but definitely all the best ones. His latest series, The Northeast 3, starts with killer footage of the best of the best at Great Barrington in Massachusetts and McKenzie Pond in New York. Check it out: