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Bishop Times

By Bouldering, Trip Journal3 Comments

Vikki and I are now nearly three weeks into our Bishop stay. It has changed since I first came in 2004. Weekends now consistently see 100-car days in the Buttermilks. The Loco Frijole (aka Terrible Taqueria) is now Holy Smoke, a tasty Texas BBQ joint. There’s a taco truck at Barlow and 395. There are piles of feces to be found all over. Some petroglyphs were stolen. Black Sheep just moved down the street. Much remains the same. All of the land around Bishop is spoken for by various government agencies, so the town will remain quaint. Schat’s is still making people fat, Looney Bean is still run by adorable underage girls, and the Pizza Factory still has the best arcade in town. The sun still casts hyper-saturated colors on the clouds when it dips behind Mt. Tom, and deer are still a common sight around Buttermilk Mountain. Every Bishop trip prior to this one, was marked by the same longing for more time. It felt like home, yet it never could be. We always had to return to our cities. Now we have planted our temporary roots to join the “seasonals,” a loose network of obsessed boulderers hoping to unlock the secrets of strength and badassery. Now we live here. We’ve been climbing mostly with our friends Steve and Angie. Our abilities and psyche match up quite well. There are also our Canadian friends in the Pit, whom we also climbed with in Joe’s Valley; there are many long-term Pit-dwellers;…

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The More You Have

By Climbing, Road Trip Beta, Trip Journal2 Comments

Now that we’re back on the road, it’s very clear that Spenser and I are both happier living life in our little trailer – dubbed Oscar the Grouch (to stay with the Sesame Street theme). I’ve been thinking about why we’re in such better spirits away from the creature comforts we used readily in Colorado. The most comprehensive answer I have come up with is the more you have…the more you want. If I have a shower across the hall, I apparently will use it every day. If I have a big kitchen, I will eagerly choose to ignore it whenever the opportunity to go out to eat arises. These and other characteristics that I disliked about myself when living in San Francisco came back in full force this summer. Living in Fort Collins, just like living in San Francisco, had many positive aspects. It was easy-as-pie to do my physical therapy exercises. Heck, I was even able to find an awesome physical therapist in the first place! There was a gym in the garage of Brad’s apartment. There was gluten-free food on every street corner. Spenser was able to do the construction for the truck and trailer with ease since Brad had every necessary tool imaginable. Middle-of-nowhere Utah, or even Bishop, does not offer these amenities. We needed Colorado to be able to regroup after Byron’s departure. And then we needed to leave. Leaving was difficult because we had created a home for ourselves in our Colorado. We especially…

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A Review of Liquid Grip, The New Liquid Chalk

By Road Trip Beta, The Exterior3 Comments

Like every climber ever to grace this earth, I suffer from non-optimal skin. It sweats too much, it’s too thin, it’s cracked, it’s split, it just hurts. I’ve tried damn near every chalk there is. So far, the best I’ve been able to figure is Antihydral about once a week and plain old block chalk before every go. Recently I was reading Dave Macleod’s Online Climbing Coach blog and saw a review for Liquid Grip. I’ve tried Liquid Chalk and I like it, but it requires reapplication and is otherwise a pain in the butt for me. Liquid Grip is supposed to be an “apply and forget” sort of product, which would solve my main complaint with liquid chalk, so I figured it was worth a try. The company gives the somewhat dubious claim that the product adheres to the amino acids in your skin and will not transfer to other surfaces. Of course I perked up when Dave gave it a positive review, but I grimaced when I read that “there is a small amount of Rosin (less than 5%) in the product and they reassure that there is no transference to surfaces although didn’t say how this was tested.” I sent away to Liquid Grip for a few samples. On one hand, LG could very well be a manna for los manos. On the other, I’m very concerned about rosin being used on rock, because over time it forms a slick coating to the rock and destroys the friction…

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The Essential Guide to Joe’s Valley Living

By Local Beta8 Comments

Updates (as of 12/2/2017): There are TWO new & permanent pit toilets! Locations are shown below in the Pooping section 🙂 Food & Showering options have also been updated below. PLEASE do not just camp anywhere! Joe’s Valley has far surpassed its carrying capacity for primitive camping, and creating “new” campsites is a huge threat to access. Please camp in demarcated sites only! Thanks! If you’ve been to Joe’s before, you’ll notice some changes in where you can camp. Erosion and water contamination via human waste are the biggest issues we face – read more about it via the Access Fund. The Access Fund conservation team was working on trails this past October & November – hooray!  Another must-read about how bouldering has changed Joe’s is this piece from Climbing Magazine. And…what about that new guidebook?! Follow us on Instagram / Facebook, or join our mailing list for the latest updates. Estimated release is Spring 2018. I apologize for not being able to respond to each message about the guidebook individually, but rest assured all updates will be shared via social media and the email list. Click here for the PDF guide to some of the newer boulders in Joe’s Valley – The Flu, Hidden Dragon & The Rastafarian. (Working with sodapdf format allows professionals to edit, share, collaborate and ensure the security of the content within digital documents) Having spent quite a few months in Joe’s Valley over the past 5 years, and by helping to organize the Joe’s…

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Back in Bishop

By ClimbingNo Comments

The past week has been a blur. We left Joe’s Valley last Tuesday afternoon and Spenser drove us straight to Bishop. Leaving our amazing campsite at Joe’s was the most difficult part – we will likely never find a better fire pit, but it will be there waiting for us when we return! After an 13-hour drive with a quick stop at a barbeque joint, we were back in the Pit. As we drove in around 3am on Wednesday morning, as suspected, the Pit was FULL. Since we were the first of our group to arrive, we grabbed one of the only open campsites we could find and passed out. Thankfully by the time we had woken up, there were multiple open campsites. As we waffled about saving site #15 for our friends (a prime spot with tons of flat real estate for cars & tents), Spenser ran into Jenn Zecchin, who we know from the Bay. Jenn was on her own this Thanksgiving and was driving around the Pit looking for a campsite. Perfect timing as she was able to park in site 15 and save it for the rest of our group. A benefit to all since we didn’t have to feel guilty about saving a site with just our crash pads, as we know many groups in Bishop are in the same boat. Wednesday was a rest and get ready for the gang to arrive day. While I’ve only been to Bishop a handful of times and…

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Get Ready for BishGNAR!

By Climbing, Stuff We're Psyched On, Trip JournalNo Comments

The past few days at Joe’s have been a whirlwind of falls, sends, laughs, and campfires. Thankfully, no tears. Our final days were rounded out with my send of Big Cheesy and Spenser crushing many of his projects: Worm Turns, Ghost King, Playmate of the Year, and Lactation Station! Still, we are leaving with many projects left unticked, but are incredibly happy to reunite with our Bishop crew for another Thanksgiving. This year, Thanksgiving will be different. This year, BishGNAR is coming to town. First things first, if you haven’t seen the original G.N.A.R., get on it. You can watch the trailer below, or the entire movie (highly recommended) here. We are bringing the competition to Bishop. It will take place on the Friday or Saturday after Thanksgiving, the exact date is TBD as of now. We have the list of rules (climbing related, if you haven’t caught on yet) and they are going to knock your socks off, literally. If you want in, let us know! The more the merrier. We will have the rules printed out by Thanksgiving Day, so come find us if you want to prepare ahead of time. We’ll either be climbing at the Buttermilks or camped in the Pit. Just look for the big red truck. Want the title (trophy included) of GNARliest dude or dudette in Bishop? Then it’s time to sack up and prove it! Love, The RV Project

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Cast Iron Chaos and the Lessons Learned

By Road Trip Beta, Trip Journal8 Comments

When we were preparing for The RV Project part deux, Spenser and I decided to downsize. Goodbye 30 foot trailer, hello little just-big-enough-for-two 10 footer. Going from a house to a bedroom meant downsizing everything, including our cookware. We decided we only needed one pan to cook with and, more significantly, we were going to be all hippy about it and forgo the Teflon. You really want something non-stick when on the road, so cast iron seemed like the best choice. I did some minimal research about how to season a cast iron pan (make it non-stick) and, at a quick glance, it seemed pretty simple. Neither of us had owned cast iron cookware before, but how hard could it be? Boy, was I wrong. Spenser came home with a brand-new Lodge Logic cast iron pan from Jax Outdoor Gear, very reasonably priced at around $25. It came pre-seasoned per the label, but the saleslady at Jax told Spenser to at least season it once more before using it. The saleslady had instructed Spenser to rub the pan down with oil and then run it through the ‘clean’ cycle on the oven. Naturally, the clean function did not work on Brad’s oven, so I sat down to do my own research on how to season the pan. Down the Google bunny hole I went. Apparently, everyone on the internet has an opinion on the best way to season a cast iron pan. There’s this guy: He thinks he’s got the answer, but…

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Surprise Surprise

By Trip JournalNo Comments

We saw our families. On Thursday, November 8, Vikki’s father turned 60 years old, and we flew back to the Bay Area to pop in and surprise him. Vikki and her mom conspired very cleverly, and when we showed up on Thursday morning he was utterly shocked. We spent the day eating gluten-free pizza, then driving to San Francisco for a fancy dinner. On Friday, November 9, our good friend and CEO of Groopt Patrick Allen turned 27. We went over to the Groopt house to surprise him. We spent the night partying with our favorite entrepreneurs, sharing stories of triumph, and sake-bombing. The rest of the weekend was a relaxing break from constant dust and cold nights, as we spent time with our families and friends. Since we’ll be spending Thanksgiving in Bishop this year (as per the usual), it was a perfect opportunity to get some quality family time in before we revel in turkey with our other family, the climbing family. We hung out and ate good food with Zack and Dan, whom you might recall from previous episodes, as well as our friends Chris, Sofie, Wendy, Drew, and Glenn. As I type this, I’m squished into a seat on Southwest flight 868 en route to Salt Lake City. Our friend Scott was nice enough to drive us to the airport, and we left Bert sitting outside of his house. We’ll reunite with Bert, and spend the next week hopefully wrapping up some projects in Joe’s Valley….

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Crash Pads- A Review of What We Have

By Bouldering, Climbing, Road Trip Beta4 Comments

I’ve been bouldering for about 8 years now. Shortly after starting to explore the Santa Barbara mountains with Chris Yorks and Dan Kovner, I invested in my first crashpad, a Franklin Dropzone. Since then I’ve had a multitude of foam, nearly all of which we’ve somehow brought along on the RV Project. We’ve got a good variety, and in going through them I see there are plusses and minuses to each. If you’re thinking of buying a new pad (or searching for a used one), think first about what you’ll mostly be using it for and what you might already have. Mammut Soho The goods 120 x 100 x 9 (cm) or about 48″ x 39″ x 3.5″ It’s blue Three hooking metal buckles…weird closure system I got this one as a freebie from a then-road-tripping Alex Johnson who didn’t have space in her car (that was bought from car dealership near me) for this one. I can understand why. It has two taco folds instead of the usual one, and it folds into a triangle. This makes it, as far as I’m aware, the only crash pad that gets bigger when folded up. Two straps keep the sides together, and then a big diaper flap comes up from the bottom and attaches to the top, making for a big storage pouch. The flap also can be used to protect the shoulder straps from the dirt when the pad is in use. The unique bi-fold design has major advantages. As…

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Are Piercings Worth the Price?

By Climbing, Staying Healthy, The Exterior, The Interior, Training, Trip Journal8 Comments

As Spenser said in the last post, we have arrived to sandstone heaven. I could not be happier. Colorado has beautiful stone and a multitude of great climbs, but Joe’s Valley is just easy. Especially after a summer consisting of driving an hour and a half, hiking another hour a half, climbing, hiking over talus for a half hour, climbing, and repeating. Free camping, boulders everywhere, and a town with everything you need just a short ride away. It’s been effortless getting used to life at Joe’s. But I’m getting carried away. The point of this post is to talk about piercings! Let’s go back to where my curiosity with this began. Towards the end of our first climbing day at Left Fork, we met Mina Leslie-Wujastyk and David Mason. Mina and I started talking about physical therapy and the recurrent shoulder/neck injury she used to struggle with. Mina’s shoulder would act up, especially during training, much like my injury (similar neck pain with numbness down the arm). She went to a chiropractor in Britain that was more on the alternative side of things and he told her that her piercings could be hindering her recovery. Piercings? Really? Her chiropractor explained that because of the repetitive stress on her body from traveling, climbing hard, training, and so on, her immune system was already working overtime. To add the piercings on top of all that was possibly the straw that broke the camel’s back, in a way. Since her immune system…

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Back to the Desert

By Bouldering, Trip Journal4 Comments

The last post was October 10th? It’s October 30th? I know dudes in the Arctic Ocean who post more regularly. Is this okay? Let’s ask Will Smith: So real quick-like with the ketchup… Since we finished the last video, I spent much time running back and forth to Home Depot and similar stores (learn more here about them). After picking up building supplies and batteries and solar panels that is to be installed by roofing contractors Rapid City alongside all kinds of other goodies are get us ready for life in a trailer (again). A video tour of our little trailer setup will be up shortly. Combine a large amount of work with a limited amount of experience, and you have a big pot of this-project-took-way-longer-than-I-thought stew. We finally left Brad’s house on Wednesday (October 17) and camped in the mountains near the sport crag known as The Monastery. The next morning we met Kyle and Reiko at Bear Lake for one last run up to Emerald Lake to try our projects. The day was clear and sunny, but the wind was so strong that staying warm was impossible and we retreated after taking a couple of burns on Whispers of Wisdom and The Kind. Sadly, no sends, but I did reach a highpoint on Whispers. We spent the next two nights in Denver, parked outside of Rachel and Jered’s, tying up some last loose ends, fixing the bookshelf that I’d under-built, and seeing Vikki’s sister. On Saturday morning we gassed…

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A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering … Slowness

By Climbing, Trip Journal6 Comments

The long awaited RV Project Episode 9 has finally arrived! It chronicles our mishaps and slip-ups between leaving the Red River Gorge and arriving in Colorado. After dropping off the trailer in Indiana for repairs, we went to the east coast to watch my little brother Eliot and cousin Alec graduate college. In between it all, we tried to climb but, predictably, it was always either too hot or raining. We made the most of it anyway, meeting friendly locals and sleeping in Bert. Summer doesn’t make for very good climbing in New England, and we only shot a few decent climbs. We are also novice with the camera, so the amount of quality footage is even more diminished by that fact. We decided to spice it up the only way we could think of: with stop-motion animation and poetic narration. I wish we had production footage for this film. It would be cool for our previous episodes too, and I think of the boom on top of boulders in Horse Pens, or setting up timelapses on top of the old trailer. But for this, we went through many steps to create, cut out, and manipulate the paper cutouts, then learn how to add them in to the video. We spent hours watching tutorials. Then we laughed ourselves silly while writing the narration. We struggled through the basics of After Effects and Premiere Pro, but after three months we finally finished it, and had fun doing it too. Frankly, you might not…

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Up The Poudre

By Bouldering, Trip JournalNo Comments

Last Tuesday, our good friends Will and Courtney dropped by on their way from the Pacific Northwest to the Red River Gorge. It’s quite a journey, as we can attest, so they took advantage of our proximity to I-80 to snag a shower, some groceries, some friend time, and to get in one last boulder sesh before roping up for the foreseeable future. The weather was still early-fall-warm, but due to time constraints we didn’t want to hoof it all the way in to the Park. We decided instead on the long-ish drive up Poudre Canyon and the negligible approaches that the canyon areas provide. In particular, we wanted to check out Gandalf V7, which I’ve been told is one of the best, if not the best boulder problem in the canyon. The drive is always longer than you think. Leaving Fort Collins and turning onto the windy road doesn’t take long, but then you must settle in for 40-some miles of windy beauty, marred by fire damage (beautiful in its own way). After an hour of twists and turns, you arrive at your parking area. For us, it’s a lovely little picnic pullout. The last time we tried to check out Gandalf, the water was too high and we bouldered at the 420s instead. This time, the water was very low, making crossing quite easy. Well, Will got his pants a little wet, but no big deal. Right in front of the river is a boulder with Crimes V9 and Against HumanityV7,…

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No Pain, No Gain…No, Really.

By Climbing, Staying Healthy, The Exterior, Training, Trip Journal8 Comments

Again, I’ve made the mistake of ignoring the nagging feeling in the back of my mind, that feeling that something is just not right with my body. The first time was when I ended up getting diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Not sure why I didn’t learn my lesson the first time… I was in physical therapy before leaving on this road trip for recurring shoulder pain. I made some minimal changes, but overall I didn’t trust my physical therapist. I thought she was full of it. Ok, just partially full of it. She assigned a few back exercises and stretches and sternly told me that I needed to climb less frequently for a while. Whenever I asked for an explanation, she gave me a half-ass response. Whenever I asked a follow-up question, she dismissed me. She was scatterbrained and always in a rush and I didn’t like that about her mode of therapy. So I only half listened to her. I was so busy with work and leaving my life in SF (renting out my apartment, packing up, etc.) that I barely had time to climb anyway – I was focused on getting out of the Bay Area and on the road. I changed up my daily habits a bit, things that were obvious to me, such as not holding the phone between my shoulder and head while typing and carrying an ergonomic backpack during my daily walks to/form the BART station. My shoulder pain went away without me doing…

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By Trip JournalNo Comments

Oh man, it’s the end of September. We’ve been living in Fort Collins for nearly three months. Here’s a quick recap, and a look forward to the last ~2 weeks of our stay, before we chase the sunset toward the good ol’ Sierras. When we first got here, hiking sucked. Now it is awesome. I chalk this up to conditioning. Did we mention we’re staying with Brad, who has a gym in his house and a fitness company? Through that, we’ve both improved our fitness remarkably, benefitting from various passers-thru. A few weeks ago Tim Rose, Fernando Jimenez, Travis Gault, and Jen Burger stopped by for a couple of weeks to pull down on the RMNP gneiss and Mt. Evans granite. They are all personal trainers, gym managers, and/or super strong climbers. The restiest rest day involved a hike and some light bouldering in the front country. Other days were spent sharing training tips, putting each other through hard workouts, and eating healthy food. Of course we had an unreasonable number of goals for Colorado before we came, and of course many of those have been more or less forgotten. These wayside goals include a lot of filming (we’ve gotten into photography a bit more), climbing in Wyoming more than thrice, climbing the Diamond, and visiting all the Boulder gyms. Oh, and getting famous. That hasn’t been realized either, though we did get to hang out with Alex Honnold that one time. But the main goals have been achieved, namely,…

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TNT: A Perfect Rest (Sun)Day in Fort Collins

By Local Beta, Trip JournalNo Comments

Since Spenser and I are on a budget, we have rarely been patrons of the local breweries or restaurants, even though Fort Collins is full of them. Then, Zack Macfarlane said he was coming for a visit. We were psyched. This gave us a reason to explore FoCo in a way we haven’t yet. Zack loves booze, broads, and beers. Yes, I know the booze includes beer. It was for emphasis. And, okay, Zack was also here for some climbing. Lucky enough, Fort Collins has all of the above to offer. We picked him up at the Denver Airport bright and early Saturday morning and headed straight for Guanella Pass, after a quick pit-stop at a local breakfast joint. Zack ate biscuits and gravy with a side of chicken fried steak, Spenser a carnitas benedict, and I polished off a plate of gluten-free Johnny cakes. Needless to say, it was not going to be a serious climbing day, but it was going to be a blast! Guanella Pass provided us an excellent try-hard-enough day, so we decided to take a rest day and give Zack a tour of Fort Collins on Sunday. Another love of Zack’s that Spenser and I both share is ribs. We have had infamous feasts of homemade chai-spiced (oh yea, that’s right) ribs back home in the Bay Area. Sometimes we yearn for those nights. After working up an appetite climbing, we stopped by Smokin’ Yard BBQ on our way through Idaho Springs. Spenser’s face probably gives…

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Reel Rock Tour 7 Review

By Stuff We're Psyched OnNo Comments

In two words: Good Times. Two more? As Expected. The premiere of Reel Rock 7 was held at the Chautauqua Theater in Boulder, a lovely wooden auditorium at the base of the Flatirons. The sold-out crowd of about 1,300 people struggled for seats, as many sections had large wooden support beams obstructing the view. Many ended up sitting in the aisles or standing in the back. The show opened with the usual thanks to the sponsors, and with Peter Mortimer asking everyone to stand up for a Facebook photo. On another cool note, Peter also asked everyone who’s birthday it was to join him up on stage. It happened to be his daughter’s second birthday, and also Vikki’s 26th, and the entire crowd sang Happy Birthday to the dozen or so people. Pretty cool. Then the films. The first bit was La Dura Dura, about Chris Sharma and Adam Ondra vying to establish the first 5.15c sport climb in Spain. The footage was, as per the usual, spectacular. I believe it was the Lowell brothers’ work filming, and they used a perpendicular version of the NFL’s above-the-field-on-cables camera to smoothly follow the climbers up steep terrain. The result is unbelievably smooth, and so much better than the previous generation of climbing film’s prodigious use of shaky hand-held footage shot by someone on rappel. Sasha DiGiulian and Daila Ojeda were also featured, leading the charge of female climbers knocking on the door of 5.15. The film was as much about the route as…

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Reel High Psyche

By Stuff We're Psyched OnNo Comments

It’s hard to believe that, like the long summer itself, our stay in Colorado is entering its autumn phase. As I type, Vikki is making her way to the San Francisco airport to come back home to the Front Range. That sentence right there would’ve been written backward 8 months ago…and soon we’ll be moving on, once again to join the ranks of those without mailing addresses, bathroom sinks, or rent. Our very first full day in Colorado saw us driving up to Vedauwoo with Brad and Adam to meet up with Pete Mortimer and Nick Rosen of Sender Films. They were there to gather the last bits of footage needed for their Reel Rock segment about offwidth climbing. If we needed a reminder that we were in climbing’s Hollywood state, this was it. If we had forgotten the lesson, we were reminded later on when Sender asked us to help film a short, comical bit with Alex Honnold for the PGA tour. In between all the star-gazing, there’s been plenty of training, bits of working, and a lot of climbing outside with new and old friends. And now everything is coming full circle! We cannot frickin’ wait for Thursday, September 13th, when Reel Rock 7 premieres at the Chautauqua Auditorium. As always, it promises to be an incredible show. Sharma vs. Ondra, The Shark’s Fin with Renan Ozturk and friends, and of course, Honnold defying odds and gravity. But this year’s special. Not only might (and I repeat: might) there…

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Gym Round-up

By Gym Climbing, Stuff We're Psyched OnOne Comment

You’ve probably heard of Boulder, epicenter of the US climbing scene, as well as Movement, The Spot, CATS, and the Boulder Rock Club. All four gyms are located within a very small area, yet they thrive. We actually haven’t been to any of them yet. Travel north along the Front Range and you’ll come to Fort Collins. There is a climbing community here, but not quite so big as in Boulder. There are three climbing gyms: Inner Strength, Miramont, and the CSU climbing wall. We haven’t been to the last one, but the other two are quite frequently visited. I know, I know…we left on an epic roadtrip and now we’re pulling plastic? To be honest, it’s a lot cheaper than the $50 in gas it takes to get to RMNP. So here’s a quick comparison of the two indoor crags we’ve been to in FoCo. Inner Strength Inner Strength was opened 18 years ago by Mike Hickey, and features topropes, lead walls, and two bouldering areas. Overall it’s a fairly small space, but it does have a fairly steep lead cave. I’ve been volunteer-setting the bouldering there for most of the summer, and have met some awesome people there. It’s also quite close to home, which makes it a convenient stop-off for a quick burn. The cons: there are no, I repeat, no supplemental equipment to train on, except for hangboards. No weights, pullup bars, bands, or even a stretching area. Also, they have one of those featured walls that…

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