Tuesday, December 10, 2013

So Long, Good Season

Its over. Haven't climbed in like a week! Snow falls almost everyday now, and it's hard to get sendable conditions. I don't think climbers have an accurate conception of time during the fall season, because it's always gone too soon. Today I finally hung up a hang board and did the first non-climbing work out in 2 months.. Yuk.

So I did manage to do some work around the SWPA region since i've been here. Basically the first day after I moved in I sent my project for the fall, Giant Slalom a v10 at a secretz area put up by Matt Bosley like 10 years ago. As far as we know it's the second ascent. I got it on video, and a shit ton of other stuff. Some other notable sends for me this fall were Shadows in the Eye v9, Big Long Dickens v9, Pray like a Mantis v9, and Enterprise v8. Oh yea, the crazy apes went on a quick trip to Chatt town and I was psyched to put a couple things down without having any real goals - Pray like a Mantis at Zahnd went down second go, I barely missed the flash with a heel slip at the very last move. Felt very good. Got on alot of stuff that was probably too hard for me, but that is just project prepping for the next trip which will be over new years.

Other than that just been chillin. Showing people around SWPA is always fun, and lately there has been alot of strong and motivated climbers swinging through. The conception of what's here is going up, along with the standard of difficulty. I'm predicting now that Pittsburgh will be considered the next Chattanooga, and Chattanooga is basically already considered the next Boulder. There is a new climbing gym going up in Pittsburgh soon, and shit is going to get crAzy.

Big Long Dickens starts all the way down right, then traverses right at the lip to a harder topout just right of the tree. This pic is from when i was working on it this summer, it was not good conditions to say the least.

This is the amazing Enterprise at Sandy Flats. It's a slopey, technical, powerful masterpiece. 

Giant Slalom. Burley. From there you slap around and top out at the center of this shot, however if you would topout at it's logical purity on the right it's still a project, and it's awesome.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Preparing for Paradise

It has finally happened! The relocation to Connellsville, PA is officially in progress. All the amazing climbing in SWPA is only minutes away; Breakneck is literally within walking distance, Casparis is right down the road, and Coll's is a ten minute drive. Not to mention the wealth of development to be had in the Donegal area only 20 minutes to the east. Shit is about to get crazy!! Hopefully these pics don't make you too jealous.. and to those who judge me for living in a trailer - I say - It's got an 8 foot deep in ground pool, a fireplace, a soon-to-be built training wall in the garage, high speed internet, and more high-tech electronics then your granny can shake a stick at... so suck it.

I move in later this month, and I wish I could just go into a hibernation until then. Hopefully the pool will still be warm enough to enjoy. And to all you couch surfers out there, I have 2 guest rooms (1 with 2 bunk beds) and two huge couches. Only problem is you'll be too hungover to climb anything.

Now for the bad news about this situation: The original property I was looking at was 13 acres directly across the road from Coll's Cove, and I had high hopes of turning it into the best (and only) SWPA climber campground. It would have solved the parking situation there, and even had some boulders on it. But the stupid old hicks decided not to sell it at the last minute because their pockets are currently full of natural gas money. The trailer was really shitty anyway. I bet in a couple years they will be desperate for money again and we'll pick up that property for like 30 grand.

Stay tuned for some climbing updates - This weekend is supposed to be 60 degrees, and October is just around the corner! but, ya know, who gives a shit..

Thursday, June 20, 2013

In the Deep End

With a nagging pulley injury over the past few months, climbing progress has slowed down a bit.. I've been getting out only like once a week, and mostly just hanging out. It's given me plenty of time (as if I don't already have enough of that..) to direct my interests elsewhere, and I'll get into that later.

Lets see; so early this spring I didn't send Bhante... Sometimes for me it seems like trying something really hard is a gamble between success and injury. I didn't win this time. Every try was just raping my left ring finger pulleys, and during that last try sometime in march or april, I had a blow off that resulted in a definite tweak. Since then I've done quite alot, but nothing very note worthy. We've been developing some new areas, all in the local SWPA area, and they are pretty good. It's just a matter of time before the climbing in this area becomes as popular as places like Chattanooga or Boone, and while we are helping to speed up this transition, we are also enjoying the process of development. Most of these "new areas" have seen climbers for years, but very few climbs over the V5 level have been established in the past so to us it can seem almost like an untapped area. There is so much potential for really really hard and classic lines all over this region, it just needs to be noticed by some really really hard climbers.

This is a gem at an area we call Lower Casparis currently dubbed "The Candlestick" project.

Vid from the last few months. Much much more was sent but not filmed.

SWPA Sampler from Crazy Ape Productions on Vimeo.

Then last month we spent a few days at the New.. And when I say that, I mean we didn't actually climb at the "New" at all, which seems to be as per usual. The first day we got in late and spent the late afternoon at Cotton Top, that's the only New action we got. I did Psycho Wrangler .12a - to my surprise- first go (been on it last year once). I guess you really can overcompensate for endurance with strength! Then Aubree, Mike, Nikki, and myself stayed at the new AAC campground, which was awesome. It is still completely free and unregulated with tent platforms, picnic tables, porta-potties, and best of all free wood. We may have got a little rowdy, but hey it's in our nature.. And that nature is in our Yukon Jack bottles.. Some other people we were with got too freaked out by us, and decided to do their own thing the next day as we sluggishly proceeded with our plans to check out the South Side Meadow crags for the first time. No one told us we weren't supposed to drive across the first bridge, until we had already done it more than once.. So I guess no harm no foul. We checked it out on foot after we got the news and lets just say thank god. For those of you who are not familiar with said bridge - it's an old bridge made of wood that is going to fall down, so take the road to the right and go across the waterfall - that is all you need to know. AnywaYsS, south side meadow is pretty awesome. My only goal really was to build some endurance, but I came pretty close to sending the main attraction there which is Made In The Shade .12d. Just didn't have enough for the final billboard crux, but there was only a few v3 moves from there so it should definitely go down on a return trip with a bit more endurance. On the trail up to that climb, there was a boulder arete off to the right that looked just too good to resist. Upon talking to some other climbers at the cliff, they told us it was a, "v7 but it would probably be a v9 today because it was so hot HahaAhaa (elitist laugh)"; and in that statement my desire to send the problem was born. It didn't take us very long, Mike did it second try I think. Don't tell me it's too hot to boulder when it's only like 60 degrees outside, get a grip. Temperature snobs.. It's people like that who complain that their season was too short, but as soon as it's below 40 degrees they say it's too cold. Don't get me wrong, i'm as miserable as the next guy when it's above 85 everyday, but 60 still has enough friction to get most anything done. 

Me just below the beautiful crux of Made in the Shade

After two days at the Meadow and camping for free at the amazing site down there by the river, we decided to ball out and get a hotel with a hot tub. We went up to summersville, but the only hotel that had a hot tub, had a broken hot tub.. So they gave us a room with a Jacuzzi tub and we again got rowdy. Good thing the hotel was going out of business and there was no one there. Next day we went to Summersville, which is the region here where I have spent most my time. I was able to tick off All The Way Baby .12b and Psycho Babble .12a, both second go. It was nice to get a little psyched back on route climbing, and I can see that I could do much much harder things with a little endurance. Next weekend we will be returning to Summersville with a boat, so that's when the fun will really start. People think deep water soloing is illegal there, but I've done it for the last 4 years and all they do is smile and wave.

Okay, now for the "deep end". During the last maybe 6 months, I've been doing a lot of research into some topics that may seem crazy to most people.. All i'm going to say is - Aliens are real. Spirits are real. Every thing is made from an infinite spectrum of light and sound, and that light comes from (for lack of a better word) god. There I said it. The newest science is heading this way and it all makes sense, so better get on board. Between the coming technology singularity and the idea of absolute free clean energy, shit is going to get real crazy in the next couple decades, no matter what your beliefs. I only say these things to encourage people to do their own research through channels that aren't controlled by some government interest.. And when I say channels, I mean check this out:

This is just the tip of the iceberg from this guy. Real or fake, it's pretty crazy! Keep note that he does not stumble even one time over any word or concept, and what he's saying is going right along with the newest science and oldest stories.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Trouble in Paradise

So we finally did it. We got Coll's Cove shut down. Well, temporarily.. Hopefully.. See, parking at Colls is a tricky situation. It's an entrance to a gas line access road that lies on private property. We hike this gas line road back to the State Game Lands. Well someone finally fucked it up by improperly parking so a gas line vehicle could not get through. It is the responsibility of the land owner to keep this right of way open to all gas line traffic, therefore he has disallowed parking at this location. However, he is willing to build lot off to the side if we pay for the gravel and kiosk. The tentative plan when the lot is complete is to have everyone sign a  release of liability waiver and "donate" $5 per car... So fear not fellow climbers, we're fixing the problem. It might be a month or two until you can go to Coll's again, but hey you never heard about the place until we told you so shut up. Myself and a few others in my group have permission to park in the land owners personal driveway, if you are desperate to go to coll's just get a hold of me.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Why Rock Climbing is like Dragonball Z

Here you are. Little old level 1 normal Goku. If you've never seen the show before, Goku is like the Chris Sharma of intergalactic super-being combat. Just as a disclaimer - I'm not some super fan or anything.. I've only seen few episodes, but i've always thought the concept was interesting. Flying aliens that can control energy with their bare hands? Comon you know you thought it was cool when you were 12. Too bad it was ruined with too much anime weirdness. Anyway, here you are, you just got to your project. It looks like you're in South Africa or somethin.. Threw the crash pads down, maybe your hair is all crazy cause you just took your hat off. You start eyein up your proj and grimace a little bit because you know it's going to be hard.

After a couple failed attempts, you start to get a little fired up. You realize you need to bring on the power to get this sucker done. Time to go Super Saiyan.
Super Saiyan 1

Super Saiyan 2! Not much different than 1...

You make it further up the problem this time, but it's still not enough! Uh oh, you might not do this thing today.. It's now or never, you think, and you start to get pissed. Time to take the shirt off and get mean. Super Saiyan 2 is the next level of try hard. This is as far as most climbers can go and it's plenty of power to get some things done.

Once again you start off on your project. Every move is flowing, your feet are precise, and you feel strong. This could be the time! You get through the crux! Only a few more easy moves guard the top, but you've never done them before... Oh no!! You miss a hold and fall hard. This is when the F-bombs start comin out and you instantly transform into Super Saiyan 3!
SS3 - Hair grows and you get even more jacked.
At this level, you are filled with rage. Sometimes the anger can add the power needed to send, but not this time. You just fell off the crux again... If you are a weaker man, this is where you pack it up and move on. The anger has got the better of you, and you feel too spent to try anymore. However if you are able to overcome the anger and retain the power, you will transcend to Super Saiyan 4!

SS4 - You have summoned your spirit animal.. and you got a tail now!
Look at you now, strong yet focused and calm. Check out that barrier you just broke through! Confidence is high because you know you can do it. The climbing feels like a dream. Every move is effortless because you are 100% in the zone. You pass the crux without really even thinking about it and before you can realize what just happened you are topping out!

Check you out sport! You doin FA's on the mooooon! Now, once you've been to this level, you learn how to get there more quickly. The elite climbers today are in that zone 90% of the time. However just like Chris Sharma, Goku can't always defeat every enemy... 

Vegeta just went Super Saiyan 5! Apparently it's just SS4 with more anger.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Getting Mad at Mother Nature

Not too much going on for me the last few weeks. The weather in SWPA is shitty this time of year. Did you know that Pittsburgh has only 2 less days of rain per year then Seattle, WA? Those who know me well know that I'm not above getting mad at inanimate objects, and mother nature is no exception.. Bitch is pissin me off! Picking which day to go out climbing is a science. You gotta look at the 10 day everyday, because lord knows it changes quick. Monday Tuesday Wednesday snow and 25. Thursday and Friday have a high of 48 and sunny! But wait, how much did it snow?.. Because you can bet that if any remains on the rock, that everything will be wet. And don't bother going out on that crazy 60 degree day in January because the rock will be sweating more than a DPM hater talking to a girl.

Sometimes it's easy to predict when Coll's will be dry, but it's also easy to get blinded by the desire to climb. Even though I knew it wasn't going to be good today, I went out anyway. It snowed all weekend and today went all the way up to 48- what the fuck was I thinking! There is some things that always stay dry at Coll's, but my focus has been narrowed on a recent ex-project. The project formerly known at Little Black has falllen to our very own former pro Joel Brady! It stands to be one of the best lines at The Cove, and is the first established V11. Check out the vid below. The climb is now called Bhante Pema after a budhist monk, specifically after a certain someone's inflection when they talk about said monk. Correctly it's pronounced Ban-tey Pem-a, but it's more funny when said with a Pittsburgh accent. After working on the climb for only a few days, Joel made it look easy, but not without a heartbreaking fall off the very top! Apparently it's harder than it looks up there.

I've been trying Bhante from the stand when it was just a project; maybe 6 days over the last 2 year. Last spring it actually tweaked my left ring finger pully quite bad so I had to lay off. It was always envisioned to go from a lower start, but I didn't have the spark of possibility until Joel starting trying it. Since it's been established I've been trying it from the logical lower start, and I have made a ton of progress. I'm not gonna get all beta crazy on ya, but the crux is in the first few moves, and once you link into the stand it's v8/9. Last week I made it from the low start, through the stand, and fell at the last V7ish move to the good seam... PSYCHED! It is definitely going down. After Bhante, there is only 2 other established double digit climbs for me to second ascent - Mick Jagger by Rob D'anastasio and No Kill, No Thrill by Nathaniel Walker.

Here is the process at Coll's - We show bad ass people amazing projects because we're not strong enough to do them. They do them. We get really psyched and end up doing these climbs that we would have otherwise thought impossible. - This is why I don't get peoples' obsession with First Ascents.. I think most people have a misconception of first ascents, placing too much value on the glory.The "recognition" is not important, the satisfaction lies in the creation of a new line. IMO, it doesn't matter who did it first, but that it was done. I don't care if i'm first, second, or 100th, all I care is that the climb exists and I just climbed it. I would never keep my projects a secret, climbers who do that are too worried about the glory and most likely ego crazy. If done with the right motivation, a first ascent can give you the same feeling as donating to a charity. It's a way of giving back to the climbing community through growth. I have done the first or second ascent of just about every hard climb at Coll's Cove, but I don't want you to remember my name. All I want for you to remember is the climbs. I can understand placing more value on who when you're talking about climbs on the cutting edge of difficulty, but when you're doing FAs of moderates all that matters is what... 

...because lets face it, who gives a shit.

Colls Cove: the next Coopers Rock from Crazy Ape Productions on Vimeo.

Yea I said it.. Coll's is the next Coopers. Just go there if you don't believe me!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I Got Alot to Say

I want to talk a bit about my true passion at the moment, and no it's not flooding the already saturated internet with more LRC and Rocktown videos... I'm talking about the bouldering scene that is exploding up here in South Western Pennsylvania. For basically my entire climbing career, my crew and I have had our hands full with developing some of the best boulder fields SWPA has to offer, specifically Coll's Cove. Since there hasn't been many good climbers to come out of Pittsburgh (no offense), and the ones that are good tend to migrate to more popular destinations, we've had this region all to ourselves. In fact, I now consider myself an authority on bouldering in this area and I doubt anyone would argue with that.

Coll's Cove was first climbed in the 70's by local ECP (Explorers Club of Pittsburgh) member Ed Coll (among others), who apparently named the area after himself. Their efforts were spent at the cliffline, which is quite mediocre.  At heights around 40 feet and rock of varying quality, i'm sure they top roped or trad lead everything worth doing. Since then the cliffline has seen a steady stream of old schoolers, and by steady stream I mean 2 or 3 climbers every few months.. Bob Rentka and Carl Samples seemed to be the first to explore the boulders below the cliffline. They were bad asses for their time, and they did alot of the obvious lines up to about V5. Then Coll's laid quiet for a few decades. Local legend Tim Anderson passed through a few times, though he reported not many trips were made and few climbs were done.

In 2008 Mike Steighner and I stumbled upon Colls by chance. You can actually vaguely see the cliffline from the road, and as far as we knew we found it first! Of course, we were ignorant newbs with very little knowledge of the area, much less anything climbing related. After top roping at the cliffline at a frequency of a few times per week over a few months without seeing another living soul, we decided it was time to bolt some routes. Still at this time we probably weren't qualified to be doing such things, BUT the lines we bolted were absolutely not trad climbs, there was little to top rope from at the top, and the bolts were placed correctly. As expected, this is when the old farts came out of the woodwork - "This place has a 30 year history of no bolting! You should know people have been climbing here for years from the extensive trails! I'm old and I don't know how bolts even work!".. Needless to say the bolts were removed, even though it was technically legal to bolt in this area. Whatever, I wasn't going to argue. For all I knew, they knew better than me.
I can't believe the old schoolers weren't scared off by the massive amount of rattle snakes at the top of the cliff... Personally, I ain't 'fraid a no snakes!

It turned out to be a blessing in disguise  After we were shunned from the cliffline, we turned our attention to the boulders below. Now, looking at them from the cliffline doesn't inspire much awe - they are covered in dense mountain laurel and they don't look all that impressive. However once you hack your way down there they reveal themselves as perfect sandstone monoliths, with pure hard lines around every corner, and are in fact much larger then they appear. We had a field day putting up new lines (or what we thought were new lines), making trails, and clearing thick brush.. Actually - scratch that - we didn't cut down any live plants because that is strictly illegal on PA State Game Lands and we would never even dream about breaking the law! Honestly it doesn't even matter, that shit grows back over the trail and boulders every year, and it is a constant maintenance job to keep it clean.

Some of the very first "epic" sends were the "first ascents" of lines like White Lightning V2, Thumb Wrestling V4, and Reallreally good arete V4. Later it was found out that these lines have probably been done, but since no name was given back then, we kept the new names. Developing an area from scratch can be one of the best things you can do for your climbing. Within just 2 years, Mike and I were climbing V7 and our "vision" for lines was ever improving. Some of the lines done in 2010 were actually legit first ascents, and include the likes of Slopey Seconds V7, Like the Dickens V7, and Croc Hunter V6. The true classics of Colls Cove lie at this grade range, and you can not fully appreciate the area until you are strong enough to do them. Since then the conception of Coll's has grown, with new boulders still being found hidden in plain sight right in the main area. Not to mention the 4-5 satellite sectors that host another 2 dozen classics in each.

Me on probably the day of the First Ascent of Thumb Wrestling. It's worth noting we originally graded it V3, and it was a hardest thing I've ever done at the time. Look at them skinny little arms!

It has been our duty and honor to spread the word about this area. Some may say it's showing off, but I promise you our motivation is more pure then you can comprehend. All we've ever wanted is for local Pittsburgh climbers to appreciate the areas that are so close to home, instead of making unnecessary trips to Coopers Rock or The New. Finally - 5 years later - It is starting to catch on, mostly because of the massive amount of pictures and video we've been pumping into the internet. Just last spring we had our first bad ass show up - Nathaniel Walker. He was an instant member of the group, and he was an integral part in developing the harder problems and enhancing our vision. Here he is doing everything I got him on during just his first week.

Nathaniel Walker at Coll's Cove from Crazy Ape Productions on Vimeo.

In the last six months, Coll's Cove has been visited by the likes of Rob D'anastasio and Joel Brady. Rob put up a new V10 called McJagger and commented that the area is similar to LRC, and Joel is about to do a V11 FA dubbed Bhante Pema (the Little Black project). I've been hyping it up to everyone I meet and it's only a matter of time before there are no open projects left! Better come get some while the gettin is good. Here's a little vid of them, along with my girlfriend Aubree doing one of the most classic V5s in the forest.

Pros 'n Hoes from Crazy Ape Productions on Vimeo.

If this little write up has inspired you to come check out Colls, here is a link to the Mountain Project page where you will find a quaint little PDF guide of the area. (http://mountainproject.com/v/colls-cove-bouldering/107680491) There is much much more to do and be done than what you see in this guide, so keep that in mind. I am always willing to give psyched climbers a complete tour, so just hit me up!

Give a shit about Coll's Cove.