// BOULDERING, CLIMBING & SUCH

I currently boulder at the V3+ level as a USA Climbing Competitor Member (which is code for “I'm not that competitive.”) My finger strength and climbing fitness has fortunately grown incrementally with each bouldering wall I encounter at home and when on the road (added bonus being that climbing shoes are pretty easy to bring along during my frequent travels).

Besides personally benefitting from the much needed physical conditioning that climbing provides, indoor bouldering continues to mesmerize me each time I stare up at a new wall of problems, route tape flocking in a hundred different colors, flying up the side of a rock that doesn't know it's not a rock.


// Planet Granite (Sunnyvale, California)

Taking in the horizon that is the 10 Degree Wall at Planet Granite Sunnyvale.

Taking in the horizon that is the 10 Degree Wall at Planet Granite Sunnyvale.

A map of the Sunnyvale location’s climbing areas.  Where will you go next to up your send skills?

A map of the Sunnyvale location’s climbing areas. Where will you go next to up your send skills?


// New Orleans Boulder Lounge (New Orleans)

While traveling in New Orleans for a conference, I was lucky to find the New Orleans Boulder Lounge where I signed up for a class to refine my vertical/ slab climbing technique. Built out of what appears to be a former general store, the gym is a neat little spot that has fostered a friendly and supportive climbing community in this part of the city.

A festive, supportive community that’s pretty hopping, even on a weeknight.

A festive, supportive community that’s pretty hopping, even on a weeknight.

Fun to imagine what the previous tenant (which feels like it was a general store of some sort) looked like before these climbing walls were put in.

Fun to imagine what the previous tenant (which feels like it was a general store of some sort) looked like before these climbing walls were put in.

Choose your fate.

Choose your fate.

My travel climbing shoes always wait patiently and faithfully in my luggage, serving as a source of motivation whenever they get unpacked in the hotel rooms of the world.

My travel climbing shoes always wait patiently and faithfully in my luggage, serving as a source of motivation whenever they get unpacked in the hotel rooms of the world.

I missed dinner in order to make it to my climbing lesson at NOBL in time, but was able to trek down to Jackson Square afterwards for a meal at the wonderfully picturesque Tableau.

I missed dinner in order to make it to my climbing lesson at NOBL in time, but was able to trek down to Jackson Square afterwards for a meal at the wonderfully picturesque Tableau.

I managed to make it to Tableau before the kitchen closed and enjoyed my post-climb feast of local redfish with a greens salad and an Angel’s Envy bourbon. I ended dinner refreshed from my evening climb, spirits lifted from the delicious meal and ready for a couple of days of conference-going by the river.

I managed to make it to Tableau before the kitchen closed and enjoyed my post-climb feast of local redfish with a greens salad and an Angel’s Envy bourbon. I ended dinner refreshed from my evening climb, spirits lifted from the delicious meal and ready for a couple of days of conference-going by the river.


// FIRST MOON BOARD (Fremont, California)

Found my first Moon Board experience at The Peak in Fremont, California, a standardized system board with bluetooth linked LED lights that form crowdsourced boulder problems. Pretty easy to set up — download the Moon Board app, be sure the gym’s board is switched on (that turned out to be the first problem I had to solve :) and you’re off. The holds on the app correspond to the holds that light up on the board.

The Moon Board app on your phone calls out the holds for the problem you select. The corresponding LEDs light up on the board itself and off you go. The App lets you log the number of attempts and any climbing notes you may have. The Moon Board at The Peak is set up for a ~40 degree incline

The Moon Board app on your phone calls out the holds for the problem you select. The corresponding LEDs light up on the board itself and off you go. The App lets you log the number of attempts and any climbing notes you may have. The Moon Board at The Peak is set up for a ~40 degree incline

You can just make out the green and blue LED lights by each hold. Standard operating procedure is a sit-start and using the small yellow holds on the kick board at the base to get going. The pleasure (and the pump) starts from there.

You can just make out the green and blue LED lights by each hold. Standard operating procedure is a sit-start and using the small yellow holds on the kick board at the base to get going. The pleasure (and the pump) starts from there.


// BERKELEY IRON WORKS (Berkeley, California)

When I found myself commuting almost daily to Oakland for much of the Fall of 2018, I lucked out in discovering Berkeley Iron Works nearby. Another cool gym created by local climbing juggernaut Touchstone Climbing, it served as a place of self reflection as much as it did competitive practice and I was grateful to have had it to explore.


// ADVENTURE ROCK (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

Loved the added challenge of Adventure Rock’s grades. Their V1-V2 was more like a V3 based on my past climbing, so these problems helped push me to try a more difficult V grade than I otherwise would have. I sent a couple of them and crashed out spectacularly on several others.

Loved the added challenge of Adventure Rock’s grades. Their V1-V2 was more like a V3 based on my past climbing, so these problems helped push me to try a more difficult V grade than I otherwise would have. I sent a couple of them and crashed out spectacularly on several others.

Fingers aching but happy at the opportunity to have made them ache.

Fingers aching but happy at the opportunity to have made them ache.

My favorite feature of the bouldering mezzanine at this location. Where O where has my lower core strength gone?

My favorite feature of the bouldering mezzanine at this location. Where O where has my lower core strength gone?

If the wooden benches in my sixth grade gym had faced a climbing wall instead of wrestling mats, I may have pursued a very different athletic pathway.

If the wooden benches in my sixth grade gym had faced a climbing wall instead of wrestling mats, I may have pursued a very different athletic pathway.

Happy.

Happy.


// FIRST ASCENT UPTOWN (Chicago, Illinois)

First time in First Ascent’s Uptown location in Chicago.

First time in First Ascent’s Uptown location in Chicago.

The entire upstairs floor is boulder-o-rama. Super cool!

The entire upstairs floor is boulder-o-rama. Super cool!

About to crush the absolute rocks out of this V0 problem.

About to crush the absolute rocks out of this V0 problem.

Have started to use campus boards as interim strength training tools in the middle of my climbing sessions: One Five Nine or Bust.

Have started to use campus boards as interim strength training tools in the middle of my climbing sessions: One Five Nine or Bust.

Thanks First Ascent - Uptown! Just what I needed after surviving traffic on the Dan Ryan on my way out of Chicago.

Thanks First Ascent - Uptown! Just what I needed after surviving traffic on the Dan Ryan on my way out of Chicago.


// CLIMBING THE CASTLE (London, England)

About a 30 minute tube ride outside Central London is a brick castle that was originally built as a Victorian era water pumping station. Today, it's an immersive indoor climbing center.

Preserving the site's history while transforming its purpose, The Castle Climbing Center exists as one of the coolest bouldering and indoor rope climbing facilities ever.  When I visited in August 2018, it was a drizzly, gloomy day outside so spending a couple of hours numbing my forearms made for a great way to spend a Friday night in London.

A pro shop rents equipment, shoes, chalk and has clothing and gear for sale.  Coin operated lockers let you stow your duffel bag while you're climbing.  Changing/shower areas let you spruce up after your session. There's an onsite cafe, onsite garden, and a few outdoor boulders in the shadow of the castle.

Trying not to let "The Battleship" boulder in the outdoor area sink me.

Trying not to let "The Battleship" boulder in the outdoor area sink me.

The mandatory orientation video for first time Castlers.

The mandatory orientation video for first time Castlers.

Among the maze of hallways and staircases, you stumble into quiet bouldering nooks like this one.

Among the maze of hallways and staircases, you stumble into quiet bouldering nooks like this one.

On the main floor where top roping is all abuzz.

On the main floor where top roping is all abuzz.

The dizzying main tower, now re-tooled as a top roper's haven.

The dizzying main tower, now re-tooled as a top roper's haven.

Store your stuff, refresh yourself on the taxonomy of wall holds.

Store your stuff, refresh yourself on the taxonomy of wall holds.

Locker 10, my home for the night.

Locker 10, my home for the night.

Enjoying some fresh, post rain air among the outdoor boulders.

Enjoying some fresh, post rain air among the outdoor boulders.

The way in and the way out (if traveling by Underground). The Castle is less than a 10 minute walk from Manor House Station.

The way in and the way out (if traveling by Underground). The Castle is less than a 10 minute walk from Manor House Station.


// NEVADA CLIMBING CENTER

While in town for the National Society of Professional Engineers conference in July 2018, I got to visit the Nevada Climbing Center.  Hidden in an industrial park on the Las Vegas outskirts, it's a welcoming indoor climbing gym with auto-belay and top roping fun galore.  The bouldering feature is the gravitational center of the room and crafted for fun and serious problems alike.

Solid advice from the Nevada Climbing Center walls.

Solid advice from the Nevada Climbing Center walls.

Had a great time visiting for some calming, post air travel relaxation, despite the 103 F night temperature.

Had a great time visiting for some calming, post air travel relaxation, despite the 103 F night temperature.


// MOST CREATIVE UPCYCLING OF A CRASH PAD

Sighted in the completely refurbished canteen of the Yosemite Lodge (something by the way that just a few years ago had that homey, no nonsense summer camp feel to it and now feels like the place where hipsters go to get kale smoothies---not that I'm complaining about the chic new digs and tasty pancakes).


// PAYING HOMAGE TO CAMP 4

While in Yosemite during early 2015, I got the chance to stop by the legendary Camp 4, where modern day rock climbing got its start.  While I see rock climbing more as a way for me to cross-train for my caving adventures (given my abilities,  competitively rock climbing just ain't happening for me). I really admired the crowds that were in Camp 4 the afternoon I stopped in.  Still high on the announcement of the successful free climb of El Cap just days before, there was not a boulder left un-bouldered wherever I looked and hikers everywhere were hauling rope packs up the trails or spreading out crash pads underneath boulders.  Lots of footsteps to follow, lots of footsteps being followed.


// DESPERATELY SEEKING FOREARMS

Got to try my first climbing gym experience in 2015 at High Point Climbing in Tennessee.

Got to try my first climbing gym experience in 2015 at High Point Climbing in Tennessee.