Saturday, January 29, 2011

Moon Board, Try 2 - Revenge

The School Room, site of the first Moon Board.

No Comp for me this weekend, so I decided to head into Boulderz for a session.

Tonight I was quite sore from last nights session and when I tried to work yesterdays problems I could do nothing, so instead not expecting much, I joined a crew for a Moon session.

I was surprised that it went very well and I sent every all them except one. The one I could not do I got shut down by one impossible feeling move. By the end of the session I was close on even that move.

I really don't get it. Those problems all felt so hard the last session, even though I felt good, this time I felt bad, but it went well. I can only assume I tried harder this time. It can't be that my movement improved in that short a time. Although, that felt like what my problem was in session one. Moon problems are not like normal indoor problems, they are small pinches and edges with thumb catches, very outdoor-like. So, maybe one session was enough to learn the movement, which was very new to me on plastic.

Whatever happened it is a very steep learning curve. It is really great to see progress again and very quickly. Normally improvement has been only coming in tiny increments, but this is really working me in a way I am not used to making progress perceivable.

Now I want to change the setup and try more Moon problems! It seems like they do not have many really hard ones preset for you though according to the website, so I am hoping to find some others online.

Anyone know if there is a forum sharing Moon problems?

Here are the preset problems for anyone wanting a link.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Debate

I am struggling trying to decide whether to fly to Halifax late tomorrow night and fly home 5am Sunday, for the Tour de Bloc on Saturday? I just got back from nfld and am exhausted and Ellen and Liam leave Sunday for home, which means it will be the last chance to see them until I get back from Toronto. I am not even sure how long that will be. I need the points, but health wise and family wise, I think its a bad decision. We will see tomorrow.

I did climb tonight again at Boulderz and was climbing well, which makes the decision harder.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Walnuts Climbing Gym - NFLD


I had to fly to Newfoundland for a quick 36 hr trip. I worked almost the whole time but did manage to get a session in at Walnuts, the local climbing gym in St Johns.

Walnuts is a small gym, but very cool gym with a ton of spirit, which has been around for 15 years or so. There staying power in such a small community proves their success and from what I saw they have developed quite an avid climbing community on "The Rock".

If you are ever in Nfld and need some beta stop by and check it out.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Whats the best wall texture?

I have climbed on a ton of different wall designs and surface finishes. I am convinced that basic lightly textured, plywood walls are the best for versatility, longevity and maximum setting options.

I find the trend towards thicker, more highly featured texture is backwards. Commercially it looks nice and beginners associate the real rock look with outdoor climbing, but any experienced setter will hate them. The unevenness of the texture makes holds sit unevenly, exposing edges and breaking holds and it makes it hard to place large volumes. The built in features are also always there, on every route, on that section of wall, forever.

Also, most textures dry out with time and crumble on the edges and repeated set screws and screw ons lead to missing chunks of texture.

Not all textures are created equal however, and some companies do a better job then others, but overall I think a well constructed plywood wall with perfect joints is the best for getting strong and having the most setting options.

How to Peak?

I had a good session with the Boulderz crew today. I had intended to work on the Moon problems again, but there were a bunch of new projects put up since I was there last there and a couple undone ones from previously; they were too good to pass up.

Tony B in the Boulderz cave.

It turned into a great session and I was able to send all my projects but one. I wish it were a comp day.

Its funny that after all the years I cannot predict exactly when the magic days will occur. Lots of people seem to think they can control when they will peak once or twice a year, but I find I have many really great days throughout the year, I just never can be sure when they occur.

I do find I can control roughly when they absolute best days will be, if I am aiming for only one really great comp, but for a comp climber who needs to do well at many comps, what is the best way to approach training?

Sometimes I think I would rather have many mini peaks then one or two big ones. What I really want is to be able to shorten the cycle between peaks. That is the main challenge.

Are there any suggestions out there?

Friday, January 21, 2011

True North

I climbed at True North today for the first time, the newest addition to the Toronto climbing scene.

A view of the main bouldering section.

A view of one section of rope climbing, note the hanging stalactite. Lots of setting going on for this weekends Youth Comp.

I was impressed with the size of this venue. It is huge, well lit and well ventilated. The new school of gyms is a far cry from the dark, hidden away relics of days gone by. These new gyms attract new climbers and families alike, the atmosphere is more like an amusement park then a hardcore training facility. I mean that in a great way, around each corner there is something new and unique to keep you entertained endlessly.

Now, the question is once the novelty is worn off is there something to keep you motivated in the long run, or is the setup just full of party tricks.

Well, True North has done a good job with route setting. There is no question the terrain is great, but the setting is great also.

The wall does lack really steep bouldering terrain, I suppose to cater to the majority, but there are lots of really hard problems none the less. Again, I was schooled by the sandbagging setting crew hahahahahaaha. I will get my revenge next time in though, which I look forward to!

Moon Board

Rarely do I get completely schooled at the gym, but last night was different. I spent some time on a Moon Board, created by Ben Moon years ago, to pack a huge training punch into a small space.

The English, having even less space then the average Torontonian, are famous for having small "Boards" tucked away in their flats. Hence, the Moon Board was developed to optimize the small space, yet still get really strong. Ben Moon the developer was a leading climber in the 80/90's British climbing scene.

What makes this Board different? Well, Moon sells the exact pattern to the same problems he trained on all those years and you can buy a set of the same holds and place them in the same orientation. That way you can train on the exact same problems, as anyone anywhere in the world. From his website you can buy the holds and the instructions to set up a Moon Board. Anyone with limited space will love this.

I loved the Board, the angle and the holds. I found the problems incredibly stout! Overall I would say the problems are not at all like north American ones. The moon board has mostly small holds, simulating real rock more so than just shapes. The holds are skin friendly, but small.

I looked at the problems and thought yeah, they are incut, but small, I can do this, no sweat. Wow was I wrong, the movement is hard and the flexibility is hard. Four to six moves of raw finger power needed. I am Weak! Oh no!

I hope over the next few weeks I will get a chance to try some more moon problems they are awesome. Check it out at Moon Climbing.

Below is a Moon Board at Boulderz in Toronto. Not all the holds on this Board are Moon products, only the little tiny yellow ones are.

Boulderz Moon Board.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ben Blakney does the seond ascent of V13 in Nova Scotia

Ben Blakney has recently done Gun Control, V13, in the Terrance Bay Woods area near Halifax, Nova Scotia, a 2003 line done first by Nick Sagar.

Check out the coverage in Climberism Magazine here.

Ben on Gun Control

Friday, January 14, 2011

World Cup in Canada, First Time Ever

Canada will be host to their first World Cup Climbing event May 27/28, 2011. Check out the details here.

Site of my first world cup 2006 Grindlewald Switzerland.

My Shoes

They finally came, my new shoes. Madrock Demons 2011.

I have waited for these shoes my whole life, the perfect shoe. Madrock always did have an awesome toe, but the heel used to give me trouble. Not so much the ribs which I liked, more the shape of my foot and the heel cup did not get along.

Well, I am happy to say the new heel design is perfect, it is molded like the La Sportiva Solution but sticks and fits way better.

I was also surprised at the new toe box. For the first time I have ever encountered, in any shoe the center of the sole seems to be cupped, which removes the air gap formed when your toes curl up, in a down turned shoe. To be honest, I never noticed this as an issue, until all of a sudden it is gone. With this new sole there is no air gap in the toe box and it has the effect of sucking the shoe upwards against your foot. This effectively locks your foot in, without the shoes needing to be as tight as they would need to be otherwise. This means you can size them larger, be more comfortable and still have great performance and can now smear with a down turned shoe!

The other feature I love is the sharp edge on the toe. Too many companies are rounding off the edge of their shoes(read Solution). This does not really matter when you are on steep terrain, as the holds tend to be larger, but on slabs or vertical problems it reduces edging ability, which for a comp climber who needs versitility, is horrible. The Demons are sharp as a knife and climb vertical routes like no ones business.

It also appears that there is a new rubber being used, I will have to ask the guys at Madrock about this to be sure, but it worked really well and addressed the issues they had last year with sticky, but too soft rubber, which made edging hard. Whatever it is, it works well for both smearing and edging.

I compared the new Demons with my previous favorite shoe, the old Demons and first night out, they out-performed my old tried and true got-to-shoes in all categories.

I like everything about them, the look, the feel and the performance, for me this is the best shoe ever made. Now I have no more excuses, other then old age?

Cars and Girls

Ultimate climber.

I was at the gym tonight and saw a kid who really had some talent. Every once in a while you see someone who really could be a good climber. Yet, almost always, once they hit there teens and discover cars and girls, all hope vanishes. They take some time off, leave climbing behind, then when they try to get back into it, they are out of shape, have inevitably regressed, have gotten heavier and therefore quit for good, because most talented climbers cannot just climb for joy.

This is why I think older, still skinny, geeks have the most promise. Starting at an older age, once cars hold no novelty and all women their own age have rejected them, they have the best opportunity to get really good and focus completely on climbing. These are the golden years for a climber, when the most progress is made, just before they are old enough that the ladies don't want the cool rebels anymore and geeks become breadwinners, with CS degrees. Then once again, the hooks are planted and climbing goes downhill. I see it happening all around, unfortunate really? :)

So next time you see the climbing geek at your local gym, push him to do one more set of pull ups and get it done while he still can.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tour de Bloc Photos

Here are some photos from the Tour de Bloc at Boulderz, courtesy of Aidas Rygelis.

Aidas is a climber and photography living in Toronto Ontario, although I have heard he has spent some time in the Maritimes?

Check out his work at Ruby Photo Studio.

Finals problem #4.

Finals problem #4.

Qualifiers #46.

Qualifiers #45.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Tour de Bloc - Boulderz

I drove to Toronto Friday for a Tour de Bloc at Boulderz. The comp was excellent and ran smoothly. I will post more later, with some images, I am currently on a flight home to NB and will be driving back to Toronto again right away!

There was an interesting dark horse winner for the mens, TJ Quan, he climbed awesome in finals, flashing 3 problems. Hopefully a sign a things to come from TJ!

Here are the results:


1) TJ Quan
2) John Bowles
3) Ayo Sopeju
4) Dustin Curtis
5) Travis van Ryan
6) Max Dugla
7) Remi Crusten
8) Andreas Lerch


1) Eva Pepin-Helie
2) Erin Ford-Zielenski
3) Cloe Legault
4) Lyma Lamarche
5) Pia Graham
6) Hedvig Lokay

Friday, January 7, 2011


Why do I alway get sick before a comp? I was sick at last years Natioanls and now I drove 15hrs to Toronto with another brutal cold. Go figure, need more rest I guess?

Comp Tommorow!

Monday, January 3, 2011


A quick shout out to an awesome gym Boulderz in Toronto, Ontario and the owner Andrew McBurney.

Boulderz panorama!

This gym is awesome and will be hosting a Tour de Bloc Event January 8/11.

I will be there with bells on.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Best Gyms

I want to make a list of all the real climbing gyms in Canada, only climbing gyms for climbers.

I have been to many gyms around the world and I usually try an visit any gym, in any area I am traveling.

After all the gyms I have been to, I have to say I am usually quite happy to come back home to my small little local gym, The UNB Rock and Ice Club. It is small and has bad ventillation, but its still awesome.

The UNB wall, aka THE WALL.

I think per square area, it has more problems and more difficult problems, than nearly any gym I have been to, anywhere in the world. Operationally it is quite independent and is run by real climbers, not business people. The gyms motivation is only to make the gym and climbing community great. Money is not a driving force, not at all (membership is $50/year! for students and $75 for community members).

This gym has turned out a bunch of strong climbers, has great angles and tons of great holds.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

My Resolution

I will say it hear for all to hold judgement. I will work on my weaknesses this year, by improving my flexibility and cardio. I think this will help my climbing more than any amount of additional climbing I could do. Behold this will be the year I actually do it!

This is what I will be able to do by the end of 2011.