Matt Yosca's blog
Between now and mid-January, we will host a bouldering competition at one of the two MetroRock gyms every 2-4 weeks, a total of 5 events in 4 months. Unlike a racetrack or an arena, where the playing field need only be maintained, a climbing competition requires a whole new set of challenges each and every time. We set all new problems--everything from the v0s for the novices to the v10+ for the pro finals—for each event. Wiping the slate clean gives each comp gets its own set of routes or “problems” to insure that climbers have something new to work on. If you estimate 10-15 holds per problem and about 75 qualifying problems and 18 finals problems per event, that’s more than a thousand holds which need to be taken down, washed, put back on the walls, tweaked, tested and repositioned before we’re ready for competition.
It may just look like plastic bolted to an angled wall, but putting the right hold in the right place is an artful craft. It is a labor of love brought to you by a team of chalky warriors armed with sick beta, twisted notions and power tools. The work begins the weekend before each event when the boulder areas get stripped and prepped for the new sets.
We are pretty much obsessed with climbing. It’s what takes up our weeknights, our weekends and most of our vacation time. The amount of time we spend climbing, talking about climbing, choosing and buying new climbing gear and planning our climbing trips is probably equal to the time we spend working or at school. It’s easy to understand why: the beauty of the movement, the pure joy of sending your project, the way it affects your fitness and well-being, and the fun you have climbing with friends—these are all things that make climbing so frickin’ great. But what do you do when your limits as a climber start to bring you down and instead of being pure fun, it becomes frustrating?
In the gym, we see a lot of this frustration so we understand the tough mental dynamics between wanting to climb for fun and satisfying the urge to climb better, harder and stronger. Many of us want to get better but when it comes time to do a set of pull-ups, work the core or spend time in the gym NOT climbing, that urge fades away and instead, we go top-rope that fun route in the corner for the 10th time.
With this in mind, we have set out to emphasize the benefits of training and put a few programs together to help you find a regimen and stick with it. Check out our options and see what fits your needs and wants. From one-on-one PT sessions to group training to 90 minute pick-me ups, we have a some great options to choose from. Our goal is to give you the skills, knowledge and discipline to make training a part of your climbing life. We’re sure that as a result, you’ll be a better climber, you’ll feel better about your abilities and when the time comes for that extra bit of power to get to the top, you’ll have it in you!
Winter in the climbing world means either you’re psyched for ice or you hang up the climbing gear and wax up your skis. But for us, we train even harder for competition season! At MetroRock, it's a very busy time: between our own events, hosting USA Climbing and attending other comps, we’ve got our hands full. This means we’ve got at least one a month from October through January with even more events to be announced for late Winter!
Our pride and joy is the Dark Horse Series. Now in its fourth year, it just keeps getting better and bigger. Last year’s finals hosted a packed house to watch the country’s best climbers get nasty for the grand prize and all the glory. This year we’ve changed the schedule a bit and added a day to maximize the sickness!
At Halloween time, we give you the Blackout Boulder Brawl. With the boulders glowing in the blacklight and competitors decked out in their brightest neons, it looks like a climbing comp taking place in the Tron universe. Climbers fight the pump and disorientation to get to the top in this warped and weird setting.
USA Climbing hosts a wide range of comps in the region and we are proud to host our share. Whether it’s boulders, speed or difficulty, we have the facilities for it all. These range from school age kids to college and beyond so there is always something for everyone. You will probably see future pro climbers competing at these events.
Our schedule to date is listed below, with some events still pending for Spring. Please remember that competition in the Dark Horse and Blackout Brawl is open to everyone at all levels. You don’t have to be a pro to win prizes!
After several weeks of open voting, the tallies have been counted, the hanging chads were disputed and the results are in! Scores were based on creativeness, funness and how well they matched to the grade listed.
Congrats to all the winners and thank you to all of you who voted!
- Jeb Bruno, station 62
- JP Mial, station 31
- Rob Alpert, station 24
- Boof, station 99
- Jeb Bruno, station 38
- Dave Wetmore, station 65
- Mark Heffley, station 25
- Erik holmes, station 20
- Alex Enright, station 21
- Raff, station 94
- Dave Wetmore, station 74
- Boof, station 63
Photo by Pat Bagley
Dark Horse Series 2012 went out with a bang last weekend as some of the best climbers in the world came to throw down to fight for the prize and glory. The series, which began last November, is our homegrown compeition and we couldn't be happier with the way it has grown. Each passing year and comp, things get bigger and better and we were floored by what we saw last Saturday: hundreds of spectators cheering their lungs out for the pros as they tackled some of the sickest boulder problems we've ever set. It was an amazing show and we can't wait for next year!
We want to thank everyone involved, especially:
- The setters and organizers who worked long and hard to set everything up and put up some amazing climbs. It's not as easy as it looks!
- The staff at MetroRock for their hard work at making everything work so smoothly.
- Our sponsors who made it all possible and provided awesome prizes. We appreciate all your help.
- To the spectators who created all that buzz and excitement. Without you, it would just be a cool boulder session, with you, it was a party!
- Most of all, HUGE thank you to the competitors. From the novice competing for the first time to the pros who do this for a living, you all made it possible by putting your best efforts up to see how hard you can climb. Climbing competitions are about the individual challenging him or herself to push beyond their limits and we can't say enough about the amazing performances we saw during those three days. Congratulations to ALL of you!
For complete wrap-up and information, including results, see the Dark Horse homepage.
For pics and video, see the links below:
Smartphones, whether you like them or not, have made it possible to get instant access to information on just about everything with a few pokes of your finger. Climbing may be a very analog activity but your iphone, android or whatever comes next can still add to the experience. Below is a partial list of apps that will help you get to the crag, find routes, figure out beta, avoid bad weather and learn to be a better informed climber.
NOT the correct way to use your climbing app!
If you need to find your way around a particular climbing area, there are now a few options for smart phone apps instead of the old fashioned guidebook. The apps listed here cover just the US but there are scores of others for climbing overseas.
Photo courtesy of Max Shaffer
MetroRock Everett recently began offering Yoga classes in one of the new expansion spaces. We sat down with the instructors to talk about their passions for both yoga and climbing and what students can expect from the “Yoga for Climbers” classes.
Ken Miller is the lead teacher and offers classes on Mondays at 7pm, Thursdays at 6 and 7pm. “I studied Hatha Yoga at the Nosara Yoga Institute in Costa Rica, where I received my 200 hour Yoga Alliance-certified teacher training. My passion for yoga stems from its capacity to foster physical and emotional well-being in a fun and powerful way. Yoga offers wonderful tools for managing anxiety and stress, and for achieving a greater sense of ease, confidence, and self-acceptance. As a rock-climber and runner, I am grateful for the ways in which yoga has increased my strength, flexibility, and focus.”
We are very sad to announce that Walter Bonatti, the Italian mountaineer, author and inspiration to a generation of climbers, passed away after a long bout with cancer. His life was filled with daring ascents of some of the world’s most formidable peaks. As an Alpinist and later as a travel journalist, he was an inspiration for a generation of climbers.
His checklist includes first ascents of Gasherbrum IV, solo ascents (during winter) of several peaks in the Alps, exploration of the Andes and his controversial role in the first ascent of K2. After retiring from climbing with the first solo winter trip up the Matterhorn’s north face, Bonatti turned to journalism. For the next several decades, he traveled the world, chronicling his adventures for Italian magazines and writing several books about his exploits. Most notable would be “Mountains of my Life,” which is highly recommended if you’d like to learn more about this man and his remarkable life.
Hang out in the living room of any hardcore climber and amidst the random rope coils, ‘biners and trad gear littering the area you’ll probably find a few climbing video cases lying about. Catch the climber relaxing at home and you may even find him or her kicked back on the couch, beer in hand, empty burrito foil on a plate in front and one of these videos playing on the screen. Climbing “porn” as they are commonly known, are videos featuring climbers around the world performing sick sends, wicked falls, random exploits and general mischief for your entertainment. They are the perfect inactive rest for climbers, a chance to sit on one’s butt and stare at a screen while still engaged in a climbing activity.
These videos range from the roughly edited home version found all over the web to the slickly produced feature length of the sort seen at film festivals like the Reel Rock Tour or the Banff Mountain Film Fest. Whatever the quality and whether you watch it in a theatre or on the couch in your undies, climbers love the way these videos get them stoked for climbing and getting out there in the world to visit new crags, reach new heights and get to know their idols a little better. They serve as travelogues, advertisements for the climbing areas, character studies and pure comedy. Some will appeal only to the grimiest dirtbagger with years of experience while others can keep even your non-climber friends enraptured. No matter the format or topic, climbing videos are a fun way to spend some downtime or just to get your fix when real climbing isn’t an option.
As a climbing center, MetroRock offers a variety of programs designed to teach, train and develop climbers so they can reach their greatest potential and enjoy all the benefits of the sport. Even though we are one of the largest gyms in the area, we hope that you take the sport outside and enjoy the natural beauty that climbing offers in New England and around the world. However, when taking this step, it is important to remember that the impact of human activity on such places can be devastating. Indiscriminate use by climbers can devastate plant and creature habitats if we’re not careful. Even if your primary goal is sending the climb, the basic rules for all who venture out into the great outdoors apply to you as well.
Recently, we were notified that a group of climbers from the Boston area were spotted at Maine’s Shagg Crag behaving badly and ignoring all the local and common sense rules of camping.