• Posted on January 03, 2013

Something Old, Something New

Well it looks like I’m behind the curve on this one but here’s some back story for the Something Old, Something New NRG video.

Early this Fall I thought I might be skipping out on the climbing godsend called Fall because I fell really hard, not climbing of course, onto an outstretched left hand and immediately felt a sharp pain in my palm/ wrist.

My first honest thought was that I wish I would have sprained/ strained/ broke/ whatever just happened my ankle or something on a lower, less vital limb…at least then I could campus or do something climbing related.  After about a week of not even thinking about trying to climb I hung on some jugs and my wrist was clearly looser than before so I decided to write off climbing until it was better.

Two weeks in I still can’t put on the seat belt with my left hand, four weeks I can finally open a jar and start doing a lot of rice bucket exercises, and six weeks in, the longest I’ve taken off climbing in at least 5 years, I head to the gym since I can finally do a pull up without it hurting too much.

Very psyched but extremely hesitant while moving I peter out in about an hour of doing a couple boulders that normally would be warm ups but leave my forearms, shoulders, and back more sore than they’ve been in well over a year.  It’s going to take a long time to get back to a level of feeling like I have strong fingers and am moving well again.

After an abridged couple weeks of Fall training in CO and a week in the Red to wait out the east coast Frankenstorm, while watching the most impressive couple climbing feats I’ve seen, it’s finally on to the New.

What’s going to happen?  What are the goals?  I’m not really sure this time.  When I head to a new area though, I’d been the the NRG once for a couple days but it’s so vast it was basically new, there seems to be an order of trying things: old classics, unrepeated routes, projects, then bolting new projects.  Things can obviously disrupt that order but in general the best lines have been bolted, climbed, and are a huge factor in what attracted you to the area, the unrepeated lines are cool because it helps solidify, the projects will always be fun to work on but there’s often a reason besides difficulty why they haven’t been done, and bolting new stuff to climb that you envisioned is the highest tier if the rock and movement is good.

After learning more about the area and starting to get the feel of the climbing that progression turned into what seemed to be a great story of something old (Still Life), something new (Dihedral Project), something unrepeated (Picket Fence), something blue errr orange (Mango Tango).

That was quickly modified again though, to the videos version, since it’s always better to have multiple climbers, especially if they put the line up and Mr McNasty is  in town, and I had just bolted two sick brand new lines (almost, they each had 1-2 bolts, but that’ll have to wait for another blog).  Not to mention my wrist feels completely better after slowly building back up and I might be able to climb a few routes!

Overall, climbing at the New was a fantastic experience and I’m very grateful for the numerous locals that made the trip what it was.  I’ve gone a lot of places over the last year but found few I’d move to.  Also, thanks to Jon and DrawSomething for making the video possible.

Someone go to the dihedral/ arête project at the Lake!  There may be some kneebar trickery but they’re harder to made feel secure that it may look because the left feet are terrible and there’s very little right hand opposition.

Enjoy the video!  Sorry the weather crapped out and I’m climbing/ retrieving draws from Journeyman while getting dripped on.

  • Posted on December 31, 2012

Favorite FAs of 2012

Here are some of the most memorable climbs from this year with a little description and their name inspiration.

Knuckles Down, 5.12, Gate View Canyon, Gunnison

I’m just happy I didn’t drown on this day.  To get to this wall in late Spring you cross fast moving water well past your waist and I almost took a ride down stream trying to get back to the car.  Make it across and you’ll find a perfect rock skipping zone and two cool routes Will Anglin bolted but don’t forget to save some energy to lean into the current on the trip back.

Name inspiration: two very proud grandparents of marble players who gave Will and I haircuts

The Graduate, V9, and surrounding boulders, Esty Lane, Gunnison


Photo: Will Anglin

This small cluster of boulders on their own up on a hill seem completely misplaced but create an amazing setting that’s well worth checking out if you visit Gunnison.

Name inspiration: the movie and Will’s freedom the following day

Cobra Strike, 14-, Hartman Rocks, Gunnison

cobra strike

Photo: Will Anglin

Will Anglin bolted this line about 3 years prior to the FA in May 2012.  It starts with a unique section of manteling to an undercling followed by sustained climbing to a beatdown move off two slopey pinches to the lip of the wall.

Name inspiration: snatching the final hold

Timeout Corner, v6? Ice Caves, Independence Pass

timeout, abisharat photo

Photo: Andrew Bisharat

Day 1 on this boulder took quite a bit of scrubbing by Jon and I that ended up covering the ice below with dirt and moss.  We couldn’t figure out how to get our right hand to a key hold that day and Jon had to leave to shoot the Vail WC so I stuck around to figure out the tricky sequence.  It ended up having some cool beta where you can stem in a wide dihedral and let go to swap hands (photo).  Footage from Chris Schulte soon.  William Mondragon 2nd?

Name inspiration: kinda a dumb name, WC, you can let go 5 times

Home Bruin, 13-, Independence Pass

home bruin, hummel photo

Will Hummel photo of Mayan on Home Bruin in R&I

Right before the Rock and Ice photo camp Chris Schulte and I scoped this route bolted by Michael Benge, an Aspen local.  As far as I know it hadn’t been climbed but climbs up a pretty black streaked face just right of a geometric blank roof.

Name inspiration: Beware! Bears can be unpredicatable!

Doubloons, 14-, Mt Evans


Photo: Rich Crowder

The best setting I’ve ever climbed in?  This tower and area are unforgettable.  Jon showed me the line to the right of Doubloons mid summer and after climbing that line I moved on to the long process of hand drilling, lots of cleaning, and eventual climbing of this route.

Name inspiration: abyss, Spanish gold coins, DOUBLOOOOOOOONS!!!

Journeyman, 14-, New River Gorge


Photo: Pat Goodman

I believe Brian McCray bolted most of the Dihedral Project in the late 90s.  It splits off Apollo Reed after a few bolts and heads for an huge dihedral at the top of the cave.  It didn’t have anchors since there were at least three ways to get into the dihedral so after figuring out a way I thought would work I added two chains and punched through the finicky dihedral boulder.

Name inspiration: splits off Apollo (Doug) Reed, which is a play off Apollo Creed, boxing term

Powerbait, 14-, New River Gorge

powerbait, jglassbreg screenshot

Photo: Jon Glassberg

Video of this is finished and out very soon!  The day I figured out the beta for the Dihedral Project I wandered out of the Colosseum to see what else was around.  This line caught my eye and I bolted it the next day right after adding chains to the dihedral.  Someone had already put in two anchors at the top to toprope the line?  It starts with a stout three move boulder before a long sustained section on slopey edges on a very condition dependent wall.  It gets sun all day and a final hold gets wet in heavy rain so don’t be surprised to go from exploding off the last wet crimp to not being able to do the moves to sending.

Name inspiration: old bottle of Powerbait at the base

Happy New Year!

  • Posted on December 16, 2012

New Summersville Lake Projects in 30 sec

When Summersville Lake is drained
you can walk along the lake
2 (1)
from the Colosseum to
2 (2)
along the way you’ll see
3 (2)
but one section seems a little to blank.
Keep going until
4 (1)
where I bolted the
project. Turn around to see
5 (2)
20 ft to the right Jimmy Webb bolted
which starts with a cool slab
6a (1)
then has a big crux move
7 (1)
that can be done two ways
7 (2)
Jimmy, Will, and Nick had to leave so Mikey
finished it off.
Back towards
I bolted
through the long dihedral feature.
10a (2)

  • Posted on December 09, 2012

Two Tiny Routes

Ben Spannuth – Two Tiny Routes from Louder Than Eleven on Vimeo.

Cobra Strike, Photo: Will Anglin

This one has been in the vault for a little bit but this story starts in Spring 2009 when I was helping coordinate the Rocky Mountain Region of the Collegiate Climbing Series. During its first season in CO I met Will Anglin, who at the time was attending Western State and spearheaded the season’s final regional comp. I went to Gunnison to help with the comp and just like after most of the CCS comps stuck around for the day after to check out an area I hadn’t been to near the hosting school. This time it was Hartman Rocks.

Cobra Strike, Photo: Will Anglin

Will had finished hand drilling a line a month prior and wanted to get a crew together to check it out. After playing around on it for a while and cleaning it up a bit more we were all psyched on the unique, fun moves it offered and left motivated to return to try to link more than a couple of them together.

For the next few years Will and I talked about the line, how fun it was, and how it needed to be climbed. He dialed the beta through the distinctive intro and series of laybacks on poor feet and started getting to the routes final beat down move consistently.

The route ends with a long tensiony move off two slopey pinches to the lip of the wall before the final pull to a victory jug and slightly harder than you want mantle.

Right as we finalized plans to meet up again to and climb on the route just before Will was going to graduate and move from Gunnison disaster struck and Will popped his left ring A4 pulley on a low crimp move on the route. Out of the game for several months. Awful.

We decided to hang out for a bit anyway since we hadn’t seen each other in a while. By the time I got there Will’s non climbing cabin fever was in full effect so he was always ready to get outside and search for a couple final boulders before moving, try to drown me in the river, show me around things he had bolted and put up over the last four years, or stop me from hitting the ground from the last move of the proj.

FA of The Graduate V9? Photo: Will Anglin

Around this same time Jon Glassberg and Paige Claassen were gearing up for a weekend in Mill Creek and I’d never been so I made the short drive from Gunnison to Moab, with a food poisoning pit stop, in about as much time as it took them to rocket across CO for a couple days at the Wicked Crag. Mill Creek is has no guidebook and requires a little more exploring than most areas but what’s there is some of the best rock in the US and well worth exploring. One small example of which is a route Noah Bigwood put up and called the Bleeding.

If I had to pick America’s top three sport climbs I’d say they’re the Golden Ticket, Grand Ol’ Opry, and the Bleeding. From walking up to the wall to the individual moves all three are perfect: amazing rock and holds, interesting and challenging movement, and zero glue/ chipping.

Photos: Paige Claassen

For the “sportsman,” Mill Creek also has excellent pre and post climbing activities with favorites like Aspen Bending and Camp Golf.

The Bleeding, Photo: Jon Glassberg

Back in the canyon, the skin is thin but a little try hard prevails with Jon hanging at the top to get the actual send on film and Paige getting super close. Next time!

Driving on Hwy 46. Tons of Joes Valley looking rock in another middle of no where. Back in Gunnison. Conditions kinda suck. Leaving soon.

Will’s been here before; falling on this same move for way too many times. He even stuck the final move to the lip but not quite well enough to slap the jug. I can’t decide what to change. I typically refine something every time I fall but when you fall on the last move this many times and there is no other sequence or feet to try and the bottom is dialed the only thing to do is try harder. That sounds dumb but I fall all the time sport climbing because I’m in chill mode and don’t punch it when it counts.

Cobra Strike is super short and has basically no endurance component. I’m probably weak from not bouldering enough recently but for me it felt harder than the Bleeding. It’s the only route I can think of where I didn’t shake at all on the send go. It could certainly be flashed by the strong kids, just like the Bleeding, but it took me way more effort than the Bleeding before things clicked. The video is obviously filmed later on just to show the moves.

Enjoy the video and thanks for bolting the rig Will! I’ve got some fresh ones at the New with your, or anyone’s, name on them!

  • Posted on November 23, 2012

New River Gorge, Journeyman

The New River Gorge probably has the most palpable climbing history of any area I’ve been to in the US.  I haven’t been to Smith but more so than most areas the NRG is littered with routes put up before I had started climbing and even has several from before I was born.  Typically, this time period is known for its nails hard vertical and slightly overhanging routes, what I like to call slabs, but the NRG certainly has climbs of a wide variety of styles.  I’ve only seen a handful of the walls but each section of cliff seems to create a different type of hold and movement that almost makes you feel like you’re traveling to a new area and have to settle into its style.

The Meadow has the mega classic arete, Mango Tango, put up by Scott Franklin when I was a year old.  I’ve only made it out there one day but in my book it’s a must do.  It’s only been repeated a handful of times due to a powerful and technical section in the middle of the route that will take some figuring out.

Breakthrough on the Dihedral Project. Photo: Jordon Griffler

At Summersville Lake inside the steep Colosseum Still Life and the Dihedral Project caught my eye.  Still Life is a classic that builds through amazing edges to a fantastic gaston boulder problem that I was very happy to finish off in a few tries this year after it felt impossible a few years ago.  The Dihedral Project branches off Porter Jarrard’s Apollo Reed fairly early on to give some independent climbing before going through the largest feature on the wall.  Since it was unclear which of three possible ways to tackle the dihedral would go the equipper, Brian McCray in 1997?, didn’t put in anchors.  After figuring out a way I thought would work for me I added some chains thanks to NRAC and punched through the finicky boulder on what’s now Journeyman.  It was a great learning process of finding the easiest method though a cryptic section of rock with dozens of holds and multiple ways to climb it. Its difficulty and breakdown ended up being similar to that of Still Life.  More photos and video soon.

Thinking about the Dihedral Project crux. Photo: Pat Goodman

Hanging on my favorite rusty bolt… Photo: Nick Smith

Beauty Mountain has a short and very slightly overhanging wall that is covered in amazing vertical edges and is home to Mike William’s unrepeated  Picket Fence.  Very few of the hand and foot holds on this route are downpulling which creates some incredibly interesting moves.  He put in some solid work and hooked me up with the perfect beta to finish it off without having to take its runout crux whip.

Picket Fence

Anyone know what these single vines on the trees are?


The Cirque is certainly the most stunning wall I’ve seen here and is part of the reason the New gets a “big holds, big moves” rap.  Here are few photos of Steve Hong “getting rad” (Jordon Griffler) on Proper Soul.

Jordon Griffler on Proper Soul

Mat Londrey on Trebuchet

Nick Smith after shooting the nut keeping this hanger on into the woods…

The walls and styles go on and on, but I’m not saying anything new…

More from the New soon.

  • Posted on November 20, 2012

First Tries

The last few weeks I’ve finally gotten back to climbing after taking about six weeks off for my wrist. I spent a little time bouldering in CO to try to get some finger strength and power back then moved on to the Red for a bit to get a some fitness. Being back in KY hasn’t quite been what it was last year arriving with fitness but it’s been a blast checking out the new stuff the WY crew is constantly churning out, checking out the Tube, and getting to watch the Red’s hardest routes go down, first try after first try.

Adam Ondra flashing Southern Smoke Direct from Ben Spannuth on Vimeo.

One day I walked up to the Bob Marley crag right as Adam took off on his flash attempt of Southern Smoke Direct. Struggling through the bottom boulder was definitely the most inspiring to watch but the video below has him finishing off the route. It’s shot on an iPhone and the light so terrible you can’t see him in a lot of it but the audio is worth hearing the team effort that goes into hard flashes.

Adam scoping the Golden Ticket

A few days later I walked up to the Chocolate Factory as Adam was easily locking off the final moves to the chains on Pure Imagination. About an hour later I borrowed a jumar to shoot his onsight attempt on the Golden Ticket. Very, very psyched to share the video from the best seat in the house.

Check out the video on the BD vimeo here, https://vimeo.com/channels/blackdiamond/53636034

I spent a lot of time on this route last year and really wish I had filmed it because it seems like the moves I broke down and learned to perfection over a couple weeks last winter he executed with the nearly the exact same sequence, on his first try. Without a doubt the most impressive thing I’ve taken away from watching these two attempts is how intuitively Adam responds to holds he hasn’t touched before. We can all formulate a plan from the ground or at a rest for how you want to climb an upcoming section but in the moment of actually doing hard moves or getting pumped often falter, switch to a bad plan, or desperately try to recover. As soon as Adam grabs a hold it’s amazing how quickly he can constantly modify his plan and find the best feet to setup the body position to charge through moves and past bolts.

I definitely feel like that responsiveness to holds is something you can only gain through years of onsight experience on new terrain that is truly challenging yourself so I’m feeling very psyched to change up the climbing rhythm a bit and try to modify my approach to the first time I try things.

  • Posted on September 16, 2012


It’s been about a month since I’ve climbed.  I sprained my wrist really bad while ninja kicking sharks to keep videographers safe for shark week…I think that’s the latest story.  After spraining it I was in Vancouver so I stayed with family for a bit  to get a feel of how long it would take to heal and hopefully get back to Squamish.  While I was there Matty H visited so took him Lily R and Taylor N up to Squamish, stay tuned for a short film of the Foley Frolic!  After a week and a quick trip to Washington to get the wrist checked out I realized it was going to take a few weeks to heal so what better time to visit the family in Galt, CA for a bit.  Here are a couple photos from Labor Day in Tahoe.

Although my wrist has kept me from climbing the break has given me some time to reflect on an amazing summer alpine season.  My main climbing goal for the summer was to simply boulder a lot and get some power I had lost over the Spring but that was quickly replaced after finding an amazing sport project.

Ben on Doubloons. Photo: Rich Crowder.

The route is part of a film LT11 just released!

ABYSS – North America’s Highest Bouldering from Louder Than Eleven on Vimeo.

The video uses a remarkably broad cast of characters to tell an often repeated but rarely seen story behind how some climbing areas come to be well known.  It has some amazing insight from some of the players that have seen firsthand the development of countless areas; experience of which I wouldn’t pretend to have any.  They highlight important factors to think about while dealing with what appears like an area of fresh rock that permeate to every time you go climbing. Unbeknownst to them Jon, Jordan, and Rich use yet another incredible climbing area at Mt Evans to mold the story around.

The whole project was of course spearheaded by Jon Glassberg and I’m sure throughout the video you’ll see his insatiable appetite for getting boulders done.  Every day we went out we’d split the day between the tower and nearby boulder field.  I slowly made progress on the route, which took more than ten days after hand drilling, cleaning, figuring out, crumbling, having Dave Wetmore subtly tell me not to be a pansy, and eventually climbing it, while Jon destroyed the boulders.  After finishing at the tower each day I’d finish packing up my stuff to see Jon disappearing across the “Indiana Jones Gulley” on a mission to scrub, figure out, and get something done in the boulder field.  Without his energy behind the area I’m sure it’s development would have slowly moved forward but the 90 some boulders and route that went up this summer, even several he didn’t climb first, happened because the way he motivated people to get up there and climb; often on things he had already cleaned and were ready for someone to do.

Ben on Doubloons. Photo: Rich Crowder

We filmed the interview pretty early on while trying Doubloons and ended up finding better beta for the crux.  So it’s a little easier than I was thinking it’d be, maybe 14- all together.  Important stuff right there…

Take me out of the tower footage when you watch it.  Look how fast the clouds move, how the light on the tower drops away to the nothing, notice the wind, the valleys and mountains, the shadows, the texture of the wall.  It’s the perfect setting.  Let’s keep it that way.

There’s a lot of concern sharing this area could significantly damage it due to the delicate environment.  Use it responsibly.  You don’t need me to rehash alpine, trash, and trail ethics but here’s a non-exhaustive list of a few important things I found unique to the 13,000 ft elevation area.  The lightning is seriously dangerous.  I’ve been at the top of Mt Evans and ON THE TOWER and heard cracking, buzzing, and popping sounds almost out of nowhere.  That means get the $%#@ down!  The little critters in the area will literally grab and try to carry away your stuff under your nose and crawl into your backpack to get food.  Leave everything packed up and off the ground.  The rain (and hail) is for real and almost every afternoon you get rained on. In fact, EVERY day I tried the route except the day I did it we got rained on, often while I was on the route.  Get some approach shoes for the talus.  I though the Airworx guys were going to die sliding on the talus in their tennis shoes…without rainjackets and water.  Also, if you’re like Dave Wetmore YOU GONNA GET HUNGRY!  And your breathing may change, and you can get AMS and HACE and hallucinate (had a friend from sea level to less than 11,000 ft do this) and a million other things…there was even a 2000 ft cold air funnel one day!

Mt Evans cold air funnel.  Second highest ever? Photo: Katie T.

Despite the warnings life would be boring without some adventure and uncertainty, combine all that setting with the intriguing, technical movement a line like Doubloons demands and I’ll see you there.  It’s not very often I look back up at a project once it’s finished and I’m about to leave for the last time that I almost wish I hadn’t done it yet.

So many stories about this summer!  But that’s enough for one post!  Thanks to everyone that helped make Doubloons happen and enjoy the film!

Photo: Ben Spannuth

  • Posted on April 11, 2012

Change of Plans

The last few days I’ve been back in good ole Galt, CA to do some family stuff.  Kinda bummed to have left  a sweet travel setup in Spain and numerous projects early but it’s nice to be back in Galt for a bit as well.

In order of do-ability, from a few more tries to probably never, here are the top few things I would like to return to in Spain:


The small town of Perles near…

Esclatamasters 9a

A perfect flip of styles from the definition of fun Spanish tufa climbing to moderately heinous crimping on amazing blue rock; this route was my main focus the last week of the trip.  It was bolted by Salva Serrano and done first by Ramon Julian.  Unfortunately, it seeps like crazy and was wet most of the times I went up it.  On a drier day, I did it in two sections and will definitely be back in a less rainy season to finish it off.  After a storm and the day prior to leaving I went back for a final, hopeful shot before cleaning my draws that immediately turned into a mojado aid climbing session since basically every hold was dripping.

Simon Carter killing it with the photos…the best of which are yet to come.

Joe Blau 8c+

A laser straight line bolted by Joe Kinder, of course done first by Chris Sharma (nearly for a warm-up), that’s home to one of the longest continuous lines in Oliana.  Not the greatest rock in the intro but a nice addition to the cliff as a direct start to El Gran Blau (8b+/c) and cool redpoint crux section.


Papichulo 9a+

Sweet, sweet Papichulo.

Photo from Andy Mann of figuring out the lower crux.  I don’t know what to say about this route besides perfection exists, I’ll definitely be back in a cooler season.

First Round First Minute 

Despite a few laughs, the time I spent on FRFM was probably the most inspiring climbing of the trip.  Just seeing where the bar is and doing the moves (minus the mono and knee-bar clip) makes me want to get a bit more power and come back to see if I could link the first section through the “rest.”  Although the wall is mini when you walk up to it FRFM climbs like it never ends though the most unique tufas/sick pinches I’ve ever seen.        

La Perla 8b+

I’m pretty sure the guidebook has a misprint and they meant to call this 9b+.  The features are unreal but this thing is another level of technical climbing to me and would require a bit of work just to figure out what to do.  Only been done by Dani and Chris?

Here are a few departing photos from one of my new favorite areas:

And a couple near the neat little town of St. Llorenç de Montgai

Good work at SCS Nationals everyone!  I wish I would have been there!


  • Posted on March 21, 2012

Harder than the bread on a bocadillo!

For the last few years, since seeing photos of Humildes pa Casa and a clip of Chris on Pachamama, Oliana has been at the top of my climbing areas to visit.  With long, distinct lines and amazing movement it’d be hard to find a route on the wall that isn’t worth traveling the world to climb.

I devoted essentially all of my time in Oliana to Papichulo because it’s a perfect fit of a very inspiring and challenging line.  Although we’ve since moved on to Margalef it’s definitely left me very motivated to improve and return to…or just move to Spain.  Besides the line itself Oliana was inspiring just due to the ridiculous concentration of strong climbers; the standard here is higher than anywhere I’ve ever been.

Besides working Papichulo, I’ve given two burns on other routes at the stunning cliff: an onsight try on El Gran Blau (8b+/c) and a flash burn on Fisheye (8c).  El Gran Blau climbs a long sustained section on cool sidepulls and edges and ends with a techy headwall that I was very excited to just barely make it through to the chains.  Joe Kinder gave me the flawless move-by-move beta for a flash go on Fisheye at the end of another day that went extremely well but ended 45 m up at the final bolt.  Maybe the fading light played a role but the truth is I SUCK at vertical/ slabby technical climbing and its always been a huge weakness of mine.  A weakness that later reemerged when trying the stunning La Perla (8b+, probably the hardest thing I’ve ever tried and according to Keith, “Harder than the bread on a bocadillo!”) in Margalef.

The ultra technical La Perla

Outside of climbing, we’ve had some great times including an interesting rest day in the country of Andorra, a fun BBQ at Chris Sharma’s house, and a new type of cuisine.  Andorra is a country surrounded by France and Spain where we found an amazing old stone bridge.  Chris has an awesome place in Sant Llorenc that has an old tennis court that’s perfect for a fire and outdoor gathering. I’d never tried snails before so I gave “Caragoles” a shot to feel a little like eating crawfish back in Louisiana where you have to work a lot for just a little bit of food.

After Oliana, 3SM and BigUP decided to team up to capture some unreal video of Sasha in Margalef.  She put in some solid effort on Era Bella so I hopped in line with a very fun local crew for its neighbor Como Sant Pere (8c+) which I pulled off third try alongside Edu Marin and Daniel Fuertes.  Jose Peinado AKA Primo, another climber from southern Spain, is ridiculously close to clipping the chains as well.  Venga Primo!

Working the beta on Como Sant Pere (8c+)

Edu’s dog, Mack!

After Como Sant Pere, I checked out the next route over, Politicamente Corruptos (8c+/9a), but ready for a new wall ended up getting interested in First Round First Minute to see what it’s all about and build a bit of power.

Sasha is off to Sweden for a bouldering comp and Keith is heading home tomorrow but Andy and I both extended our tickets to stay in Europe a bit longer…

More about FRFM soon.  Thanks to 3SM for the photos!


  • Posted on March 05, 2012

La Rambla

A Mann down at the airport, we headed straight to La Rambla after landing in Barcelona; the street not the route.  Meandering down Barcelona’s main pedestrian street we stopped at the market for lunch and some groceries after watching the energetic, tiny fur-ball roborovskis for sale.  Just narrowly missing purchase from Keith and Sasha the tiny hamster has been taken up at the team name and butt of countless jokes.

Siurana is the first stop on our few week trip.  Although the rock quality is sub-par the walls are beautifully streaked with orange and blue and its main El Pati sector is home to some of Spain’s most famous classic and new school routes.

Right off the bat, I wanted to try out the moves on La Rambla to see what the historical route is like.  I’ve watched the videos of Chris, Adam, Ramon, and Enzo a few too many times to help learn the moves on the 35m widely varying style route.  Starting with a hardly easy intro crack the route abruptly juts left through a cool short traverse ending in two long hop/ jump moves.  After a decent rest and treading back right there’s a long runout through easier climbing to a good rest.  From this shake the route really turns on moving through a heinous crux of powerful, square moves on slopey pinches followed by a relatively easy finish.

After two days mainly focused on La Rambla we went back to Barcelona to pick up Andy Mann and do a bit more touring around the city.  Besides checking out a cool cathedral and showing Andy around a bit we went to an interesting tunnel with hundreds of holds bolted inside to create routes and traverses throughout the tunnel.

Our next climbing day Sasha took down Kalea Barroka (8b+) quickly and I gave a onsight/ flash burn and fell off near the top after a difficult match.  Next I went up Estado Critico to learn the moves on a very bouldery 9a revolving around standing up into then launching off a poor undercling pinch.  With wrecked skin my focus has shifted back to La Rambla which is starting to seem more feasible after finding a more consistent way to do the crux move.  That being said, I definitely feel like I could fall off the top a hundred times before making it to the chains right now.

Besides my boring climbing breakdowns Spain has been perfect so far.  We met up with Sam Elias and Lucas Marques, some friends from Colorado and Brasil, and numerous ridiculously strong Euros to hang out and watch some solid efforts on very hard routes.  One of my days working on La Rambla Dani Andrada pre-clipped a couple draws in his crocs while I was floundering on the top crux then nearly did the route, falling high in the crux, and immediately pulled back on yelling, “tack, tack, tack” as he easily did the hard compressiony moves and jumped off the top.  He’s spending some time in Siurana so I’m sure we’ll see it go down soon.

Overall, Siurana has been an amazing start to the trip.  The area is stunning and the climbing requires a unique combination of technique and power that will take some time to adjust to.

Yesterday we explored the amazing old town of Siurana after climbing and watched the sunset as Keith and Andy nailed some incredible time lapses of clouds racing along the fading landscape.  Today we watched Alizee Dufraisse do another variation on the El Pati wall called El Rastro (8c+).  Tomorrow we’re off to Oliana for a bit but I’m sure we’ll be back soon…

Special thanks to Keith for hanging on a rope 4-6 hours a day to get all the photos above,