Focus – New Post on!

Check out my new post on “Focus” over at

“Focus is all about summoning maximum concentration and attention at the moment it is crucially needed.  Most climbers think of this when its time to send, but the ability to summon and maintain sufficient focus is also vital during daily training.  With training cycles that last for months, often involving several weeks of training on plastic, maintaining this focus can be quite a challenge.  When I have to post-hole through two feet of fresh snow to get to the Lazy H for a workout, the moment of tying in for a difficult send may be the furthest from my mind.  Regardless, the effort & attention given to the ensuing workout, completed two months before booting up below my project, could have as much bearing on the eventual outcome as the effort put into the redpoint attempt….”  Continue Reading

Adjustable Mount for the RPTC – New Post on!

Check out my new post on “Adjustable Mount for the RPTC” over at

“Ever since I first conceived of the Rock Prodigy Training Center, I’ve been pondering a cheap and simple mounting system that would allow for instantaneous spacing adjustments. Once the RPTC was unveiled I got a number of great ideas from other climbers. Julian Marks suggested a “French Cleat” system in this Mountain Project thread, which uses two pieces of angled lumber to create an integrated hook on the mounting structure that slides along a fixed receptacle…”  Continue Reading

Get ’em While They’re Hot!

The Rock Prodigy Training Center is now available for purchase from Trango’s website!  The initial manufacturing run produced a modest number of units, so order right away if you want to be the first climber on your block to have one.

Packaged RPTCs ready to ship to YOUR front door!

Packaged RPTCs ready to ship to YOUR front door!

This ground-breaking hangboard was designed by me, with help from my brother Mike and Lamont Smith.  In my humble opinion, this is the best hangboard on the market, and is a big leap forward in hangboard design.  This board will help beginners unlock the amazing power of hangboard training, by eliminating the top barriers to hangboarding and starting them on the fast-track to finger strength.  In my experience, these barriers are pain and risk of injury.  This board is exceedingly comfortable, and was built with ergonomics in mind first and foremost. 

Two-Piece desing -- your joints will thank you.

Two-Piece design — your joints will thank you.

The most obvious innovation in ergonomics and injury prevention is the two-piece design.  I really don’t understand why nobody has created a two-piece board already (though production cost may be one reason).  Two independent pieces are absolutely fundamental and essential to safe hangboarding.  First, they allow each climber to adjust the hold-spacing to their own shoulder-width, so Jane doesn’t have to do an Iron Cross on Bruce’s board, and Bruno doesn’t have to press his elbows to his ears to use Julie’s board.  Second, they allow the two halves to be rotated independently, so the holds on the board can be properly aligned with the climber’s fingers, accounting for variations in finger lengths, and eliminating unsafe strain on the climber’s wrist. Also, nearly every one piece board has a bunch of holds in the center that are useless (for two-arm hangs).  This board eliminates that wasted plastic and distributes it where it can be used safely.

Skin friendly, large-radius lips on all holds.

Skin friendly, large-radius lips on all holds.

All the holds on the board have large-radius, skin-friendly lips to maximize comfort. The board has three textures (completely smooth, medium texture, and rough texture) to give a secure feel on positive surfaces without wrecking your skin. The board includes multiple size options (usually three sizes or more) for all of the most important grip positions, ensuring that climbers of all abilities will find Goldilocks Holds-those that are just right for maximizing your finger strength.  Furthermore, the size options provide a built-in ladder of progression that will make the RPTC a valuable training investment for years to come.

While I’m certain the above features will help beginners break into hangboarding, this board was wihtout-a-doubt designed with hardcore training fiends in mind.  I’ve been hangboarding seriously for nearly twelve years.  By that I mean, three or more seasons per year, with 8-12, 90-minute hangboard sessions per season.  That’s literally 100’s of hours spent hanging from all manner of hangboards.  Mike has another 15 years of his own experience that went into this design.  We wanted to develop a board that would help extremely experienced hangboarders push to the next level, by minimizing all the little annoyances that inhibit your hangboard training sessions (like skin irritation, joint pain, features that encourage cheating, unrealistic shapes and impractical hold sizes). Even if you aren’t a hangboard connoisseur, you will benefit from the thought and attention to detail that went into the design, and you won’t outgrow this board once you become fanatical about training.

Finally, I was determined to develop a practical yet functional means of progressing to smaller grips, without the need to constantly buy more and more hangboards as the climber improves.  Often once your hangboard does its job – making you stronger – there is nowhere to go except to a new, expensive hangboard. I’ve gone through five different hangboards over the years, not counting a hodge-podge collection of bolt-on holds I’ve used to supplement my insufficient hangboards.  No more! This vicious circle had to stop. The Variable Depth Edge Rails on this board provide an almost limitless ladder of progressively shallower edges to train from.  These features, along with the “Position Index Bumps”, allow tremendous variation in hold size without taking up too much space on the board (or resulting in a fragile design).  Each climber will be able to find a spot on the Edge Rail that is perfect for their finger size and ability, and then as their fingers strengthen, they can incrementally progress to smaller holds by shifting their hands outward, using the Position Index Bumps as a reference point for repeatable training.

Variable Depth Edge Rails, and Position Index Bumps provide incrementally progression in a practical, compact design.

Variable Depth Edge Rails, and Position Index Bumps provide incrementally progression in a practical, compact design. (right half shown)

Slide your hand outward, using the Position Index Bump as a reference point, to incrementally increase difficulty.

Slide your hand outward, using the Position Index Bump as a reference point, to incrementally increase difficulty. (Left half shown)

For moving pictures that further describe the features of the RPTC, please check out the “Using the Rock Prodigy Training Center Video” below.

Joshua Tree

Over Easter Weekend the family and I flew out to San Diego to visit our good friends Rob and Julie and their toddler Samuel.  The first day we headed out to JTree for some mellow sight-seeing and car camping.  This wasn’t a climbing trip but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to check out JTree’s amazing boulders. 

My friend Will has a house near there and he hooked me up with a few crashpads and a guidebook.  It always helps to have nice tall stack of pads, and the guidebook was a huge help.  I’ve heard it can be hard to find your way around the maze of boulders and jumbled rock formations, but the Miramontes guide has great maps and photos and I was able to find everything with only a small amount of aimless wandering.

The bouldering was really outstanding.  I didn’t know what to expect since the rock at JTree is notoriously fickle, but all of the problems I did were amazing.  I spent most of my time in “The Outback”, but also tried a few things in Hidden Valley.  The rock is sharp for sure, but its not all thin edgeing and smearing.  There are a lot of huecos and scoops, and even though edging is my cup of tea, I really enjoyed the steeper, thuggier problems too.  I would go back in a heart beat, but probably not in late March.  It was really hot for my taste (75 deg F), which limited my options quite a bit.

Here’s a little video of some of the stellar problems I did:

We also did some hiking and what I would call “wandering”–trying to get lost in the amazing landscape.  Joshua tree is completely surreal.  Its a great place to explore and linger.  We headed out toward the Astrodomes and found some cool rock tunnels. Logan had a blast crawling around the tunnels, and managed to burrow himself into several chambers that we couldn’t reach. 

Logan tunneling around in the Wonderland of Rocks.

Logan tunneling around in the Wonderland of Rocks.

Logan loves to scramble around no matter where he is: the house, the park or in the wild.  I’d love for him to be a climber at some point, but I don’t want to push him into, so I’m psyched that he seems to have some inate interest in climbing.

After our all-too-brief stay, we headed back to San Diego for an obligatory Easter Egg Hunt and a beach trip.  Rob is my surfing coach, so we headed out for some waves.  I’m not any good but California seems like a great place to learn, in my limited experience.  The surf was tiny (2-3 feet), but we were able to catch most of the waves we tried for and we had a great time.

Logan scoring some booty.

Logan scoring some booty.