Shelf Road Slideshow and Anchor Replacement, November 9-10, 2013

I’ll be at Shelf Road the weekend of November 9-10 to help organize Bob D’Antonio’s Shelf Road Anchor Replacement Weekend.  I helped out with last year’s event at Penitente Canyon and it was a lot of fun.  The Penitente Event was very productive, but Shelf needs this much more badly in my opinion, so I was really excited when Bob contacted me.  There are a lot of really sketchy old bolts at Shelf and the crag gets tremendous amounts of traffic.  The objective will be to identify and replace any home-made bolts, damaged or excessively worn/lose bolts, and sketchy lowering anchors.  This is a great opportunity to learn the basics of bolting and bolt replacement.

Shelf Anchor Replacement Flyer

The event should be a lot of fun as well.  Bob’s pulled together free food and beer for the masses, there will be a gear giveaway, with lots of different companies throwing in gear, and I’m planning to give a slideshow on Saturday night.  The slideshow will be about my new route development at Shelf over the last few years, how I became interested in pushing the standards at Shelf and what the future holds.

You don’t need to be a bolting master to participate.  If you can turn a wrench you can help out, and even if you can’t do that, we can find something helpful for you to do.  If nothing else, drop by to say, score some free beer and enjoy a free slideshow.  Hope to see you there!

Climb Talk Radio AM1190 Friday Night!

I just learned that I will be “appearing” on Climb Talk Radio tomorrow night (Friday, March 8)!  If you are in the Boulder area you can tune in to AM1190 to hear it.  You can also listen on line at:

The show is scheduled to start 9pm Mountain Time, but we are following a live broadcast of a basketball game, so we could get pushed back a bit if the game goes long.  We will be talking MountainProject, Shelf Road, First Ascents and Training.  There may be a few curveballs as well. 

I hope you can listen in!

Climber’s Fest

Last weekend was the annual International Climber’s Festival in Lander, Wyoming.  I ran into a lot of old friends and made some new ones, and generally had a fantastic time chillin’ with the Trango crew.  One of the highlights of the trip was when my good friend Steve Bechtel introduced me to one of my early climbing heroes, Steve “Nitro” Petro. 

Petro on his Piece de Resistance, Fiddler on the Roof, Fremont Canyon, WY.

Among other things, Steve did the first ascent of “Fiddler on the Roof”, a ridiculous 5.13d finger crack featured in the original Masters of Stone.  Steve also starred in the training video Fingers of Steel with Tony Yaniro and Steve’s wife Lisa (nee Gnade).  This video has been somewhat overlooked in recent years but the principles discussed still hold up today.  Not to mention that the guys had a great sense of humor and a lot of fun putting it together.  After Performance Rock Climbing, FoS was the next greatest influence on my training.  Steve & I talked about his thoughts on training, the value of agression in climbing and our mutual admiration for the late great Todd Skinner.

Fingers of Steel

The first big event was the Trade Fair in City Park on Friday evening.  I was a little anxious about the 3pm-11pm timeslot on the schedule, wondering how I would make it through 8 hours.  In the end it turned out to be 8 hours of non-stop entertainment, partying and general tom-foolery thanks to the many colorful characters of the local Lander climbing scene. 

Good Times at the Trade Fair.

The Festival had a non-stop lineup of friendly contests and stupid human tricks that kept everyone thoroughly entertained.  During the lulls we met a lot of great folks while repping all of the latest Trango gear.  There was a ton of interest in the highly-anticipated Tenaya climbing shoes that Trango will begin distributing in August (expect a full-review in the next few weeks).  Considering how little info is available in the US about these it was amazing to see the buzz surrounding the Spanish brand.

Cowboys vs. Hippys; guess who won….

The first big event was the Tug O’ War, dominated by the local squad, anchored by a couple of my friends Colby Frontiero and (the legendary) Steve Bechtel.  Needless to say the team of roughnecks and Bronc busters simply destroyed the competition.  The next event was the Crate Stacking Competition.  I had never seen this in person before so I was really psyched to check it out and try to gleen the technique.  If you’ve never seen it before its worth checking out.  The best way I can think of to describe it is slacklining for engineers.  The game is simple, stack empty milk crates as high as you can.  Simple enough until you get into the double-digit range. 

BJ Tilden, master crate-stacker

Hands down the highlight of the night was the Dyno Comp, put on by the boys from 307 Bouldering.  It featured great competition and some ridiculous V-Double Digit problems.  The competitors were psyched and so was the crowd which lead to a great finish.

Dyno Comp

The big event for me on Saturday was the Tenaya shoe demo and the “Try Hard” Clinic that I taught with my new friend & Trango team-mate Chris Barlow.  Chris is a great guy and I had heard a lot about him through Mountain Project and some mutual friends, so it was great to finally meet him and do some climbing together.  Neither of us had ever taught a clinic before so we weren’t quite sure what to expect, but it turned out to be a really fun time for everyone involved.  I love the unbridled enthusiasm and joy that you find with folks just discovering the sport of climbing.  It really takes me back to the simple things that first inspired me to step out into the unknown and seek out the mountain tops.  Three of the guys in our group had driven 14 hours from North Dakota just for the festival.  That kind of motivation is hard to beat.

Chris imparting wisdom during the Try Hard Clinic

Just about everyone in our group was in their first year of climbing, so we discussed some basic concepts, including Chris Barlow’s Axioms for Trying Hard (TM), and then asked each of the students what they hoped to get out of the clinic.  In my experience the best way to help someone improve is to simply watch them climb (or train) and provide direct feedback, so we jumped right into climbing.  It seemed to me that everyone in our group made significant improvment over the course of the day and I hope they can continue to benefit from whatever they took away from the clinic.

With the clinic wrapped up Chris & I drove the long way around to Sinks Canyon to meet the rest of the Trango crew (Adam and Brendon) for some cool-down laps in the Killer Cave.  Chris & I each took a run on the incomparable “Bush Doctor”, then set up for a quick photo shoot on “Busload of Faith”, complete with a healthy amount of “You’re a monkey Derek” and other classic Zoolander lines. 

Iver demonstrating his improved footwork on the Hot Tamale Wall

Unfortunately the wardrobe department failed to deliver any bright t-shirts to the crag, as we were all clothed in our official Team Trango shirts.  Don’t get me wrong; the shirts are sweet, but the speckled-black color is not “right” for quality photos.  After some “not it” back and forth and some good-natured heckling, Chris graciously offered to run back to the car to grab an E-Grips shirt that was the perfect color.  Probably not what Chris expected when he joined the team, but we tried our best to convince him it would be great training for his upcoming Bugaboos trip.  He made the round trip in just about 10 minutes; a super human effort–Thanks Chris!

Once the photos were in the can I headed home for a climbing appointment in Denver the next day.  It was a great festival and I had a blast; really looking forward to next year.

What I Know About Training

When I started climbing, I was pretty much a regular bumbly.  I went through season after season of little to no improvement, without really understanding why.  Every time I flirted with a breakthrough I wound up injured and right back where I started.  I assumed that all those people climbing 5.12 or harder were simply genetically gifted, born with elite finger strength.  I was a pretty decent athlete.  I wrestled in high school, and made it to the Quarterfinals of the State Tournament my senior year, so I had a decent amount of upper body strength, good body control and balance.  I ran cross country and track in college.  I knew how to work hard, and how to follow a training program.  Yet when it came to climbing, my ceiling appeared to be mid-5.11.

Me as a bumbly, c. 1996

When I graduated from college I moved to Albuquerque, NM, and finally got my first climbing gym membership.  When I first entered the gym I struggled to climb V1 boulder problems, but after a few weeks I was shooting up the grade scale.  I remember how proud I was to climb my first V4, then a V6, then POP!  There went the A2 Pulley in my left ring finger.  Hmm, a minor setback, but I was young and my body healed quickly.  Three months later I was back at it, another V6 in the bag.  One day I went to repeat the problem just for fun.  POP!  There went the A2 Pulley in my right ring finger.  Bummer.  That summer, the same story again.  I worked my butt off to get back to where I was, and then seemingly without warning I re-injured my left ring finger. 

Finger strength is less of an issue now:

Enough was enough.  I had never been so frustrated.  Three consecutive seasons ending in serious injury.  On the advice of my brother Mike, I picked up a copy of Dale Goddard & Udo Neumann’s “Performance Rock Climbing”.  I read it cover to cover in no time flat.  The metaphors in the book spoke perfectly to me.  This is what I was searching for.  Long story short, in the ten years since I first began following the concepts in that book I’ve gone from a limit of 5.12a to 5.14c.  From three pulley tears in a little over one year to zero in over ten years of doing moves much harder than those that previously resulted in injury.

That’s not to say I haven’t had setbacks; I’ve had plenty, and I’ve learned a tremendous amount in the process.  But the point is, I’m not a genetic freak.  I didn’t climb 5.13 when I was nine years old or go from zero to 5.14 in less than a year.  I have a good work ethic, but basically I was a pretty average climber for a long time.  Then I started training.  I didn’t become an expert overnight, but with a lot of trial and error, a lot of research and networking, I’ve learned a tremendous amount, and the results of these efforts have far exceeded my wildest expectations.  Many others have had similar results.  I personally know three other climbers that have elevated their game from Gumby-hood to 5.14 following the same basic program that I follow, and many, many others that have made it to 5.13.  It takes some time, some hard work, and perhaps some sacrifice, but I believe firmly that any climber willing to put forth the effort can see huge improvements with the proper guidance.  I hope to share some of that insight here, and if you’re willing to give it a shot, I think you will be happy with the results.

Welcome to my Blog!

I avoided the siren’s call to create a blog for many years, but now that blogging is passe, it seems like the appropriate moment for me to jump on the bandwagon.  Hopefully the climbing community will find this page useful. 

About My Blog

My intention is to cover three main topics: 1) Strategies and methods for training to maximize climbing performance, 2) My random thoughts about any and all things climbing related, be it “style”, “ethics”, what’s hot, what’s not, cool new crags, products etc., and 3) Obligatory spray (bragging about my personal climbing accomplishments).  If I’m lucky, I will accomplish these three goals and provide the reader with the occasional laugh at the same time. 

The Lazy H Barn

Why “Lazy H Climbing Club”? I’m fortunate to live in an amazing little spot in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, just west of Denver, Colorado.  We have a 2.5 acre lot that came with a small, delapidated barn.  The barn had the name “Lazy H” scrawled across the top in wooden cut-out letters.  My first order of business when we moved in was to convert the Lazy H into a miniature climbing gym. Hence the name.

Inside the renovated Lazy H

About  Me

For those that don’t know me, I’ve been a climber for about 20 years or so.  I enjoy all forms of climbing, and I’ve been pretty successful at every type of climbing I’ve pursued.  As an alpinist I’ve climbed Denali’s Cassin Ridge, Devil’s Thumb, and the Greenwood-Locke on Mt. Temple’s North Face.  In the realm of Trad climbing I’ve freed Yosemite’s El Capitan, and climbed numerous 5.13s.  As a sport climber I’ve redpointed 5.14c and on-sighted 5.13b. 

My 15 minutes of fame, after completing the First Free Ascent of Zion’s Spaceshot (IV, 5.13a) with my brother Mike.

 Despite these statistics, I’m pretty much a “regular Joe”.  I have a beautiful wife (Kate), a 14-month-old son (Logan), a mortgage and a 40-hour-a-week desk job.  I love climbing, but I also love having the things that most “normal” folks enjoy.  I love the NFL (Go Bears!), I watch network sitcoms, and I destroyed the competition in the College Football pick ’em contest at work.  I’m an avid cyclist, having ridden the entire Oregon Coast and, my proudest cycling feat, pedaled from my house to the summit of Mt Evans (14K+’ of climbing, 90 miles, round trip).  How have I managed to balance my personal life with my climbing career?  Hopefully this blog will help shed some light on that subject.  If you have any specific questions regarding training or tactics, please don’t hesitate to ask.  It always helps to get some feedback on what your audience is looking for.

Happy reading!

Mark Anderson

At Shelf Road with Logan.