Kai Webler, one of our Media Spotlight producers, has been putting together a series of videos on bouldering in the northeast. He has finished up "The Northeast 2" which features bouldering at Farley, Rumney, Great Barrington, Pawtuckaway, Central CT and other areas. What these videos lack in production or extraneous footage, they more than make up for with excellent beta footage. Many classic problems are shown at areas all around the Northeast. Here is the last installment of the 5 part series (see below for links to the first 4 videos).
Back Mattress Media, one of our Media Spotlight team, has released their fifth podcast, an interview with Boston-based pro Josh Levin. Click below to hear the interview and the previous Climb Time Podcasts. Page down to check out a cool video of Josh sending Livin' Astro at Rumney.
Just posted up the results to date on the voting for the best boulder problems (V1 through V8) in the Northeast. Click here to check out the results and cast your vote! Here is a summary of the results:
V1: Zig Zag Crack at Rumney, 58 votes!, Cream at Pawtuckaway, 14 votes
V2: The Whip at Pawtuckaway, 26 votes, The Wave at Lincoln Woods, 20 votes
V3: Hobbit Hole at Pawtuckaway, 33 votes, The Pond Cave Traverse at Lincoln Woods, 20 votes
V4: Overlooked at Pawtuckaway, 34 votes, Heart of Glass at Lincoln Woods, 31 votes
V5: Sleeping Giant at Happy Valley, 12 votes, Snooze Button at Great Barrington, 9 votes
V6: Ride the Lightning at Pawtuckaway, 21 votes, Fuck the Method at Pawtuckaway, 5 votes
V7: Homefront Arete in Central CT, 7 votes, The Buddha at the Gunks, 7 votes
V8: Appetite for Destruction at Farley, 22 votes, Dopeman and Leave it to Beaver at Pawtuckaway, each with 8 votes
Seems obvious from the voting that Pawtuckaway seems to have the best bouldering in New England (or maybe the most popular)...
Back Mattress Media, one of our Media Spotlight team, has released their fourth podcast, an interview with the professional climber Meaghan Martin. Click below to hear the interview and the previous Climb Time Podcasts.
NewEnglandBouldering was very lucky in it's early days to have some great photographers contributing to the Site including Tim Kemple, Harrison Shull, and Anne Skidmore. Their photographs provided inspiration and documentation of an amazing time in New England bouldering's history. We did many slideshows of their images and below are images from Anne's "Intensely Dedicated" slideshow we ran in January 2000. All photos were taken by Ann Skidmore. Click here to check out Anne's website. Enjoy!
Back in the winter of 2004, there was much discussion on the newenglandbouldering.com message board about a few problems in Pennsylvania that had been discussed as having big grades. The guys who did the FAs were not known around the area and there was lots of doubt about the difficulty of the problems. Specifically at question was a problem done by Chris Zwieg called Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease that he claimed was V13. Pete Ward and Brett Myers headed down to PA to check these problems out. Here's their report:
A Short Trip to Pennsylvania
For many climbers, first ascents have a special meaning, somewhat like being an artist and creating a beautiful painting. The reality is that being the first to climb some chunk of rock in the middle of the woods really doesn't mean that much, except to the person who did climb it first. Over the last few months, on our message board, a couple of Pennsylvania boulderers have felt the need to defend several of their first ascents of some boulder problems at Big Rocks and Hunter's. They have endured endless trolls and attacks by mostly anonymous individuals. Through it all, and to their credit, they stuck to their guns and responded, sometimes at length, to all their critics. With some prodding and support from newenglandbouldering.com, Pete Ward and Brett Meyers took a short trip down to Pennsylvania to check out the problems and provide an objective report for us. Here is what many of us have been waiting the entire long, cold winter for:
Tornado G-Spot: V10 Actually quite a nice problem even with the spray paint. Apparently some guy killed himself by driving his car into the boulder awhile back. Lends a certain Je ne sais qoui. Photos show Brett Meyers working the problem and Randy Burks, the local tour guide. All taken by Pete Ward.
Lynn: V8 possibly V9. There was ice on a key hold and it's a bit of an eliminate so exact grade is hard to say. Photo of Pete Ward working the moves, taken by Brett Meyers.
Green Stream: V8 without sidepull. Sidepull was covered in ice, so grade w/sidepull??? If it is useable at all.
CJD: Can't give accurate grade because:
1. Footholds broke repeatedly.
2. It's hard to tell what's on route.
3. We got shut down.
Thanks to Joe M for sending us, and thanks to Randy Burks for giving us a tour and encouragement. For what it's worth we both believe that Randy climbed Toranado G-spot and Green Stream in the past.
Our Blog of the Week for this week might be a candidate for the most irreverent blog on the internet. The guys at Bass for your Face climb harder than most yet take things the least seriously that they can. Their blog always seems to be poking fun at somebody (usually themselves) and is always good for a laugh (if you can figure out the inside jokes). Their video clip, Magic: The Climbing is a great example of the hi-jinks that can usually be found at BFYF. Check them out here and be prepared for a good laugh.
Back Mattress Media, one of our Media Spotlight team, has released their first podcast, an interview with recent U.S. Sport Climbing champion Delaney Miller. Click below to hear the interview. Also, check out the list of upcoming interviews of the best and brightest of the New England climbing world.
Sometimes you need some star power for motivation, and stars don't come much bigger than Paul Robinson. From his humble beginnings in New Jersey, Paul has risen to the top ranks of the bouldering world. His blog is regularly updated as he travels the world sending the hardest lines and always includes amazing shots of him crushing. His blog is not wordy or philosophical, just great shots on the hardest problems all around the world. Check it out here: The New Adventures of Paul Robinson
This week’s blog of the week is a site that will not only motivate you to get better at climbing but give you the ins and outs of how to get better at climbing. Kris “Odub” Hampton’s The Power Company blog provides tons of info on training for bouldering and routes. In his blog posts he provides real world, nuts and bolts training tips and case study feedback on the results of his own training and some of his clients. Though I don’t always agree with Kris’ ideas (particularly his bias against aerobic training), I particularly like how Kris isn’t afraid to discuss the mistakes he and his clients make in their training. Most training books and websites are focused on do this and only this, while Kris’ delves deeply into the fact that no one training program is going to work for everyone. Trial and, unfortunately, error is the way to getting better at the complex sport of climbing. Check this blog out at www.powercompanyclimbing.com
3/8/01 Western Massachusetts
On the morning of Friday March 2nd, Boston based climber Gene Yazgur was shot six times in the head, chest, and both legs. His roommate, Michael Lenz, was shot in the head and killed, and Gene's beloved dog Samson was also shot and killed. The alleged assalaint was Daniel Mason from whom Gene had recently won a $118,000 settlement because of a "road rage" traffic dispute. Mr. Lenz died of three gunshot wounds to the head as he slept. Unfortunately the noise did not wake up Gene. Mr. Mason allegedly started by shooting Gene in the head through his chin. However instead of killing Gene this only woke him up. Gene was then shot three more times in the chest, and as he tried to flee he was skillfully shot once in each leg, breaking both femurs. The killer then left him for dead, but Gene managed to call 911 on his cell phone despite his wounds.
He currently remains in a coma although his condition has been upgraded from critical to serious. Gene has many friends here in Western Mass. He went to school at UMASS and while he was there he befriended many local climbers. He climbs with an awesome "take no prisoners" style and retreat is never an option. His fearless and tireless approach has earned him the nickname Gene The Machine among his friends. His ability to get himself in the middle of fantastically difficult situations is unparalleled and nearly everyone he has climbed with has a Gene story that borders on unbelievable. In our small community his reputation so precedes him that the first time he came into my gym I instantly recognized him and introduced myself before he said a word. Although if he had spoken, his thick Russian accent would have given him away immediately. None of us who know him are surprised that he survived being shot six times, and while we are aware that he has a long way to go to make a full recovery, noone is betting against him. He is after all The Machine.
At Farley there is a boulder problem called Half and Half (V6). The boulder looks like a giant cube standing on one of its points. Half and Half starts under a 45 degree overhang on a small crimper with an awful left foothold, chucks to hidden jug, and then tops out via a hard and scary rockover on your heel. Since its FA last fall, Ken Majka has proposed a sit start. His claims that it would go were so ridiculous that no of us would even bother telling him he was on Crack before we shook our heads and walked away. The move Ken envisioned starts left hand on the foot hold of the original Half and Half and right hand pinching a horrendous obtuse arete. There are no feet, and you must throw three feet to the 1/4 inch starting holds of Half and Half. However because your body is in the wrong position to start the problem you must campus to the hidden jug at the lip. I've seen Slashface, I've seen the Buttermilker, I've seen The Fly. None look more improbable to me than these two moves.
Today Farley is blanketed by over three feet of snow as is much of the rest of New England. The sun from yesterday melted just enough snow to make the few pieces of rock not covered with snow, covered with ice instead. I like bouldering in winter. To me bouldering at Farley today was not a option. This morning Ken woke up early before work for a good breakfast, some coffee, and to read the latest on Gene in the Boston Globe. The story is right there on the front page of the City and Region section and the new details it gave about Gene's heroic survival sat with Ken all day at work. Originally Ken and Gene were going to drive down to the Red River Gorge next week for some spring break climbing and Ken has spent the week since Gene was attacked wishing there was something he could do. Getting off work at 4:00pm Ken headed straight to Farley. After the 20 minute drive, and a 20 minute hike past wet boulder after wet boulder he arrived at the base of Half and Half and what must be the only dry holds at Farley. The hard part was all dry leaving only the scary top out to clean off. Ken did his best to brush off the lip but it was still dripping wet when he started work on the sit start. To my knowledge noone else has even attempted the sit start to Half and Half because none of us believed that any amount of work by any person would get the thing done. After about 45 minutes of trying Ken hung from the jug on the lip about to mantle on the FA. He tells me that even though the finishing move (which involves rocking over on a shitty heal smear that starts out as a heel hook) was soaking wet, he was never scared or even nervous. The only though that mattered was:
"If Gene Yazgur can survive being shot six times and still call 911 there is no way I can possibly fall off this move."
Soon Ken was standing on the lip looking up at a 45 degree slab covered in three feet of snow. Instead of downclimbing to a hang and jumping to the pads he did what Gene would do in the same situation and dove in, frontpointing to the top in his Red Chilis. When he was done Ken Majka stood on top of what is surely the hardest boulder problem in Massachusetts: The Machine (grade unknown)
Gene Yazgur survived the shooting despite being shot 8 times (initial reports said six) and having to go through 17 surgeries. The shooter was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. As far as we can tell, The Machine has only seen 2 or 3 sends since the FA, including a 2nd by Dave Graham who confirmed rating at V12, and Andy Salo who says the problem consists of one really hard move.
Alright already, I’ll admit it: I was not a fan and did not want to be a fan of blogs. Obviously, blogs are narcissistic by nature with the point being to write about yourself and what’s going on in your life. But, frankly, most blogs that I read early on were too mundane, too whiney, and/or too boring (usually all three). These characteristics can most likely be directly attributed to the blogger, rather than the format. The truth of the matter though is that I have recently and reluctantly come around and am now a fan of the blog. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of mundane, whiney, and boring people out there who should just stop blogging altogether. However, there are some blogs out there that, at times, can be enlightening, inspiring, and interesting on a routine basis. Let me share one such blog with you.
One of the first blogs to earn regular clicks from my mouse was Joe Kinder’s “blogpiece” (his term): http://www.joekindkid.com/. I have known Joe for a long time, and if you know Joe, you know that he is one of the most outrageous, crazy, and fun-loving guys you’ll ever meet. Before blog’s even existed, Joe was well-known for firing off the most insane, not-safe-for-work e-mails to everyone in his address book. Thus, when I first found out Joe had a blog, I knew it was going to be “interesting” but probably not something I should be surfing to at work.
To my surprise, Joe has managed to keep just enough of the crazy while providing interesting insight into the life of a professional climber. Most climbers probably think that being a professional climber is the ultimate “living the dream” scenario. Climb all the days, party all the nights. In his blog, Joe provides a lot of insight into the life of a professional climber and shows that it’s not all climbing and glory. Although Joe does write a lot about the exotic locations he gets to climb at and the high end sport routes that he routinely sends, his writing style never comes off as bragging (an all too common and annoying blogging style). It has been very interesting reading about the process, work, and frustration that precedes the elation of sending a route at your limit. Additionally, Joe lives a nomadic life with lots of travel and moving around and in his blog he does a great job of conveying the sense that although it takes a lot of work to be a pro climber, in the end he knows he is living the dream. Take a look at Joe’s blog and let us know what you think.
3/1/01 Lincoln Woods, RI
Despite the cold weather, Tim Kemple had a productive day yesterday at Lincoln Woods. Tim did the first re-ascent of Barbed Wire on the Tuoloumne boulder since the left crimp broke off of Due Diligence (since resent by Ben Fuller at V8). Barbed Wire starts on the right side of the roof (just left of the tree), traverses the lip of the overhang, and used to finish up on Due Diligence. The problem now stays on the slopey arete to get to the finishing jug of Due Diligence. The new Barbed Wire checks in at V10 or so. Tim also added a cool dyno problem at the Horse Cave. The Holy Grail, V8 or 9, starts on two decent holds a couple feet right of the hueco and dynos to the lip of the overhang. A difficult match on the lip is followed by a tough mantel.
We have finally have completed the first cut of the Northeast’s Hardest Boulder Problems list. Click here to see the list. As previously stated, we have eliminated the V10s from the list because there are just too many. I’m sure the list needs work, I probably missed a bunch of problems and maybe some problems need to be downgraded. You can post on our forum or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your comments. Here are some interesting numbers from the list:
Most first ascents: Dave Graham (18), Ivan Greene (13), and Dave Theriault (8)
Most hard problems: Gunks (42), Bradley (16), and Pawtuckaway (13)
Problems by grade in 2003: V14 (0), V13/14 (0), V13 (2), V12/13 (1), V12 (3), V11/12 (3), V11 (16)
Problems by grade in 2014: V14 (3), V13/14 (2), V13 (18), V12/13 (2), V12 (34), V11/12 (7), V11 (75)
Those are some impressive numbers that there were 25 V11 and up problems in the Northeast in 2003 and eleven years later there are 141!
New feature here at newenglandbouldering.com, on "Throwback Thursday" we will post an old significant news item...
1/7/00 Farley Ledge, MA
Yesterday, at Farley Ledge, Pete Ward sent the arete project after six months of working on it. Micah Jessup reports the feat as follows:
"I saw my friend Pete do something amazing today. A 6 month project in the backwoods of Massachusetts on a striking ships prow of quartzite that breaches out into thin, wintery trees, a very New England boulder. Thin edges scar the face until 2/3 height where everything ends until the top's sloping rail almost twenty feet above a marginal landing. Six months ago, Pete hit the lip with his left hand, all six and a half feet of him reaching to the slopey top, but the summer humidity laughed at him while his hand slipped and he took the long fall. Friends stood amazed, he had actually touched what everyone else wanted.
Since that one lucky, humid day no one else has touched the top again, they climb easily to the blank section and then, feeling the commitment and distance, just peel off with a fluttering heart. Sometimes Pete gets sad and can't stand under the weight of this beautiful piece of rock, knowing it will expose all his weaknesses.
Today it is crystal clear and 28 degrees, a blessing for my big-handed, sloper-loving friend. He smiles and gives a tour to some new people, telling stories about each boulder problem, who did what, how humid it was that day, how the mysterious non-local climber says its actually hard. After a few classics, we easily warm, shuffling through leaves, air curling smoke-like from our mouths, rock glittering with ice spots, smiles creating a good energy. We walk towards the ship like prow, I joke that only Pete makes this huge boulder seem to be the right scale and that everyone else becomes dwarfed. The base has been smoothed out a bit, but the biggest boulders jut up dangerously. A plethora of pads get laid down. I try, then our other friend, but we feel humbled as always and Pete's first try sends him down onto the pads too.
I say I am feeling too warm and fuzzy to try such a hard route, it exposes the weaknesses of many, a massive dyno to ~20 ft and then a slopey top out that hasn't been done. Then more people come, another pad is added to the stack plus three more sets of hands, with ours, that made 10 arms shaking at Pete as he launched with such style to the top on his second try. He hits the smooth sloper with a sweatless hand on this 28 degree day, breathes deep, matches and then traverses to the front of the boulder to top out. Everyone yells up with encouraging words, I scamper around, moving pads, anticipating where he will land. Soon a heel goes up, his waist now at the 20 foot mark, right leg dangling straight down, we all become quiet, not believing that he is almost there. He yells, or cries, he is so scared, he can barely do anything, but ask if we are still spotting him. Only one of us snaps out of our awe and yells up to keep him going. Then he is done. So much time on one boulder, in a tiny corner of woods, by a tiny town, my tall, big-handed friend Pete Ward, and his commitment, sitting on top of a legendary classic new boulder problem in Farley, Massachusetts. Big, V9, highball."
Back in college, I learned to climb from a friend’s girlfriend, Amanda. Amanda led me up routes in Yosemite and Castle Rock, taught me to rappel, and started me down the road to becoming a climber. Little did I know that Amanda was a rarity back then, a woman who climbed for herself and not to just tag along with her boyfriend (Amanda’s boyfriend was a surfer). Since then, women have flocked to climbing and found an amazing sport that challenges you physically and mentally. Despite the large increase in the number of woman climbers, the climbing media has still been mostly run by men.
Fortunately, three local women are making a strong effort to change that with their awesome blog Crux Crush. Their blog is updated regularly with climbing news, gear reviews, and our favorite feature the Girl Crush of the Month where they interview women who are leaders in the climbing world. My daughter has been involved with climbing since she was born, but since turning 13 has just now started to embrace climbing as her own. As a dad and as a climber, I am pleased that Crux Crush is promoting climbing for women and positive role models for her to emulate.
On their site, the Crux Crush ladies stated goal for their blog is: “We want this page to be a place to connect more women to climbing and all that we love about climbing, from the physical to emotional to spiritual to cultural (and in cultural, we also include the fashion, yes the fashion of climbing).” It’s our opinion, that they are “crushing” this goal. Check them out here.
So this blog, http://rockclimbinglife.wordpress.com/, was recommended by a denizen of the newenglandbouldering.com forums. I had never seen it before and decided to check it out. My first reaction was one of utter confusion: is this guy for real or is he poking fun at all the craziness of climbing. If he is for real, all I can say is Wow! If he is playing the humor game, I say well done! Here are some examples of the insanity:
"Climbing with a Life Coach: the only way to the top"
"Climbing outdoors is great. It’s one of the best ways to climb. But it is so much more involved. You have to pack your pack, drive to the crag, hike in, gear up, rope up, lead a route, make an anchor…. annnnddddd…. now its 3:00pm and you’ve only been up one route. If you want to get strong, sacrifice the outdoors for a year, and focus on spending time at the gym climbing routes, and running laps."
and, finally, this gem:
"When people first start climbing, they think that they need a lot of finger strength and big biceps. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The most important part of your body when you climb, is your legs. The stronger your legs are, the less weight you put on your fingers. When you see Chris Sharma dynoing from a hold, 70 feet above the water, it’s not his fingers or arms he’s using to propel him to the jug, it’s his legs! Do squats and leg presses, and really tone those thighs. Your hands are only used to keep you on the wall. You shouldn’t have much weight, if any, on those fingers."
Also, make sure to check out the comments on his posts, people sure get riled up quickly on the interwebs!