Sunday, July 5, 2009

being the wizard (warning, it's a ramble)

(edit: thought i should throw in a photo! this is the infamous "900 S" aka "the mist project" aka "mistalicious" up at the fins. this is the huge -as in full extension on my 6'4" frame and +4/5 inch reach- that guards the crux -v9?-section) 

hey so i just got back from palisades... got my ass handed to me by this heinous set of bulges i bolted.... 5.14? 5.14+?? it's called ueber unagi, one of a trifecta of routes really. 
ueber unagi-ridiculously/outrageously heinous project
the basilisk- ridiculously heinous project
quart of blood technique- still waiting for matty T. to FA, but it's like 5.13-
anywho, so i have a blog of my own , but i have been thinking of asking peeps about a collective blog, and what do ya know, i open my email and here it is!
so i've got tons of good shit on my page, a 2 for 1 special(2 peaks in a day, and they are 4 hours drive away from each other!!!), discussions of climbing philosophy(seriously!), and much more. so yeah check it out! (i will probably double post most of the stuff!)

ha! so i haven't said much of consequence yet have i? 
well here's something i have been cookin up:

being the wizard:

omg check this out (oh by the way,he uses french ratings in his discussion. 7C=v9, 9a=5.14d, apparently the crux for realization is only a v8!!!)

a mind that races.

this makes me laugh. yeah, cause i'm totally on his level of climbing, NOT! 

no it's funny, cause i feel like i need this wizardry to climb. the two guys i climb with inside, they are fuckin strong as hell. it's ridiculous. me... not so much. i have so much trouble with problems they come up with. POWER! 

after a season on rock, i always feel this amazing rhythm with the stone. like, it takes me a while to figure out routes... i'm really bad at onsighting, but projecting... i seem to make shit happen in that stage. at least to my puny climbing abilities.... but eventually reading the rock just comes easily, muscle memory kicks in, and sequences come together. i don't really know how, but they do. magic?

 god damn, if i could really figure out what it was that dave graham was talking about(video), maybe i would be sending hard. instead of flailing all over on 5.13. especially the focusing thing... man, i have had so much trouble with that lately. i took 6 months off climbing because of that!

 but when you can finally focus again, when you do figure out the fucking moves, when you figure out the BEST way for you to do something, strength doesn't seem to matter as much.

 take soul slinger, not a power problem at all. people try to thug through it, and damn, you'd have to be so fucking strong to do that. those holds are terrible. but when you really look at it, you figure something out. OH MY GOD!!! look, a hold that no one ever ever used! and bam, you send.

 yeah, you need to be able to hold that tiny little crystal, but the physical dissapears, and the problem is easy. like really easy. i often feel that way after i get on a route a couple times. after 3 or 4 half hour sessions, i figured out soul slinger. it was strange, i wanted to use the conventional beta, i dunno why, i saw the crystal out left on the third day, but it wasn't until someone ticked the hold that i decided it was something to try. then it came together in a matter of three tries.

or take the mist proj(which i think i will end up calling 900 S, after my beloved saab) that felt so fucking hard the first few times, i was like, shit! 5.14! now it's like, hmmm 5.13?? then, is it really harder than bushido??? then you look up at bushido, and you say, yes... it is much much harder. that's why it sat empty until i put some bolts into it, said, "well maybe it goes... there are some holds..." now what, a line! beautiful, hard, and strangely like soul slinger.... but it's more physical, and 20+ feet of v5/6 after that. so it's harder!!(the exit section feels as hard as the crux on tengaio's route, and his route is in the range of 5.13a-5.13c) oh, soul slinger is given v9 in the bishop guidebook, but it could be v8, so i figure that the crux on my route is more solid at v9, cause it is sooo much like soul slinger, but in addition, there is strength involved in this one. but really, i have no idea, so yeah.

then one can get into the grading issue. what to call that???? how does one take three boulder problems, stack em, and turn it into a route rating??? v0/1+v9+v6=5.13+?????? strange! in pure form, closest comparison i can think of, v11=5.14a look at the present, a route in utah. 2 bolts long.

so you know what i'm gonna do! i will not rate it at all! i will say in my official last chance to rate after i do it, that to me it is comfortably harder than bushido. by a lot

yeah, that was my latest post on my site

 on wednesday i'm traveling to lander, wyoming for the international climber's festival. time to test my mettle, aka time to try 5.14! ahhh yeeah! beat down in the making!

well hey, thanks for the invite marc! 

cheers foo's,



  1. Tom-
    Thanks for posting!
    That was a pretty good rant... Yea, I checked out Dave's Wizard interview; pretty good stuff. Personally I'm not sure if I'd call it "wizardry" though; I'd call it technique vs. strength. I like this discussion because I too am a skiinny guy and I have to use technique to my advantage. The key is finding the easiest sequence possible, and not having that wealth of strength to rely on, I tend to naturally look for the line of least resistance. Now the other issue you mentioned is grades... which is related to peoples strengths and specific body types. It seems pretty absurd that we can say a move is the same difficulty for someone who is 5'7" as it is for someone who is 6'2". But, the rock is the constant and we are the variables and we have to give value to something, so we give it to the constant. There is no one "solution" to these issues, but that's what makes an interesting discussion. There are only personal solutions to our current projects, and that solution (sequence) might be different for everyone! Cool. I gotta run for now, a day at the Perch! But more later!

  2. yeah, gotta call something as how it feels to you.
    but i dunno, there are moves that tall people have advantages on, and there are moves that tall peeps just cannot do. like that first huge reach in the photo, that could be done dynamically, whereas i do it static, and the scrunch moves before it and after it could be easier for someone shorter than me. it evens out i think in the long run. so i guess i wouldn't say it's 'absurd', just different.
    what evs, i still have much to learn about climbing.

  3. I agree with ya, Marc. We are the vaiables and the rock is the constant. That's a great black and white way to look at it.

    To further the example - Riff Raff at Crank Cave is likely .12b for Tom and his height/reach; yet for my wife, Heather, it's likely 5.12d.

    For me personally, i've come to realize that with my height, suggested grades are simply different and i've long given up on the need to call someone out for overgrading routes. I think the grades at the Fins are stout while others feel they are soft. Style, power, endurance, height, etc. make grades what they are... a suggestion. More importantly - did you like the route?

    Good topic Tom! Great comment Marc.