Sunday, March 13, 2011

Flagstaff again

Over the past week I've spent 3 quick(ish) sessions up on Flagstaff, mainly since it's only about 15 minutes from my apartment, super convenient. My first visit last week was spent repeating some moderates, but I didn't really get on anything too hard. Then, a few days ago I went back and climbed a few harder problems which you can see in the video below.

Flagstaff 2 from Doug Lipinski on Vimeo.

For anyone that's wondering, Hagan's Wall climbs just as well now as it did before breaking in January. The difference is that the good left hand crimp flake is not as good and the part that's left is 2-3" lower than the top of the flake used to be, making the next move harder. I'd say it feels like low end V6 in it's current state. Also, Valhalla is an awesome problem with super fun moves. It's got 2 sharp holds, but don't let that deter you, it's totally worth doing. Same goes for Battaglia's Bottom. That massive backflag move is so tenuous and fun, plus there's different beta possible if you don't like that way. Just convince yourself it's not actually that sharp.

Today I went back up there to try and finish off Battaglia's Bottom and ended up having a pretty great day. I warmed up at Cloud Shadow then got to it, ending up with the following ticks:
Hagan's Wall, V6 (repeat)
Battaglia's Bottom, V7/8 (redpoint, 2nd try of the day, I'm inclined to take soft V8 for this one, feels hard)
Reverse Faceout, V7 (redpoint, 2nd try of the day)
First Overhang, V5 (repeat)

At that point my skin had pretty much given up so I had to call it quits (the biggest drawback to Flagstaff), but I otherwise felt like I could have kept going for quite a while. This got me thinking, my bouldering has been on a huge upswing over the past couple months. In December I ended a months long battle of infrequently trying Valhalla (V7, my 2nd ever) with a very solid send. In January I sent The Turning Point, my first V8 and last month I send Resonated, my first V9. Since then, I've run laps on The Citadel (soft V8) and did Battaglia's Bottom in about 10 tries over 2 sessions. I did Reverse Faceout in less than 4 tries this season and I have Valhalla on lockdown (see video above). The point of this is not to spray or boost my ego. After all, I live in Boulder, where people climb V8 in sneakers with crashpads on their backs. The point is to figure out how this happened. How did I manage to bump up my hardest send by 3 V-grades in as many months?

To be honest I'm not completely sure, but I can point to 2 main things. First of all, during the past 6 months I finally started trying hard problems. I know people say all the time that you don't climb V8 by climbing V5 (or similar grade reference), but apparently I'm a slow learner. It's not that I wasn't trying hard, I was. It's just that I wasn't trying moves or problems that felt impossible. I've been doing that a lot lately and more often than not, those impossible moves go down pretty quickly, usually within a couple sessions of work. I've also stopped thinking about how hard a move will be on link. Instead, I've started to believe that if an individual move goes, muscle memory, strength gains and psych mean it will eventually go on link. After all, the problems I'm doing are less than 8-10 moves, this isn't a battle of attrition.

Secondly, I've been unintentionally training muscle recruitment and power for quite a while. My schedule and real life have meant I've been climbing once or twice a week for months now. That has resulted in me wanting to climb hard on the days I do get out and also needing to conserve my skin and energy for the limited number of good tries I've got, with lots of rest between attempts. This is a recipe for building power: low volume, high intensity, lots of rest. I've also had a couple complete breaks of 2-3 weeks with no climbing. I think that time off allowed my tendons and ligaments to heal any minor injuries and staved off any typical overuse injuries.

The question is, how long can this keep going? If I keep eating and sleeping well, trying projects above my current level, and taking enough off days will I keep improving into double digit grades? My power is without a doubt at an all time high. My endurance is terrible, but I don't really care about that; I don't climb routes. What else can I do to keep things headed in the right direction? Anyone else had similar experiences? What worked for you and what didn't?


  1. Good post and even better ticklist!
    I have been thinking along the same line when it comes to trying moves that seem over my head at first. I have a tendency to only try problems that are within my abilities, while overlooking problems that would be a real struggle for me that push my limits. It seems like the obvious, and perhaps the only way to get stronger, but at times it can be intimidating to try something outside of your comfort zone. So I think the best way to get strong is to drive a ways down Boulder Canyon and start working The Game!

  2. I completely agree about the intimidation factor. It's such a mind game. I think now that I'm more aware of how much I used to do that, it's easier to see when I'm making excuses. It's so easy to just repeat problems you have dialed because that's comfortable. There are so many ways to rationalize it. I've pretty much decided to try whatever looks inspiring and/or fun, especially if it's at or above my limit. Trying to become a more mature climber I guess.

    As for The Game, don't you think we should find something harder? That thing's primed to see more repeats this year and could end up being only consensus V15. Lucid Dreaming still hasn't seen a repeat, bit further drive though.