Last Day of the Season

Morgan and I sneaked out to the pass for one last day of bolting, adding new pitches at Emerald Lake, before the snow flew. We didn’t get any photos so this post feels a little lacking, but I will carry on regardless.

We established our goals for the day on the drive from Lethbridge to the pass and decided to attempt a direct finish to Diamond in the Rough. On our last outing we added a third pitch to this route by traversing right along a ledge system at the top of the second pitch to avoid what looked like less appealing climbing above. But the lengthy traverse meant the route couldn’t easily be rappelled. A direct line would allow the route to be rappelled easily by following parties, or if we pushed the routes high point a little further we thought the top of Rags to Riches could be reached for an alternate decent.

On the first 2 pitches it looks like a number of parties have had to bail. If anyone would like to comment on the grades of these climbs feel free to leave a comment here. Also, I would also like to point out that despite the moderate grades these are intimidating routes. If you’re at or near your limit on 5.9 single pitch sport climbs these will be scary.

At the top of pitch 2 there is a 10 foot bulge of vertical rock with what looks like rambling, slab climbing above, the climbing we wanted to avoid last time. Here we unpacked the drill and Morgan took the lead. Past the bulge Morgan found, to our surprise, relatively good quality rock and technical 5.9 slab climbing. Morgan placed all 8 bolts he packed for the pitch and climbed 30m before bringing me up to swing leads. We didn’t put in a station at this belay because we thought a large ledge above could be reached in a single 60m. Unfortunately, Morgan called out that I was nearly at 30m when I was about 5m below the ledge. So the station is a little lower than we had hoped.

We climbed a short pitch slinging trees to gain the ledge above. From here Morgan started leading and bolting P4. Which is above the top of Rags to Riches. We previously hadn’t considered climbing this rock ’cause it also looked rambling, but it turned into reasonably technical 5.9ish climbing as well on good rock. Morgan ran out of bolts (and at this point we only had rap hangers left. I took a turn climbing the pitch and added one more bolt (with a ring) so that the this pitch could safely gain the ledge above. I think, you could now use this route to approach the infamous Crow Cave above emerald wall. In the spring I will try to head up there to see if it lives up to the hype.

 

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In Office Training & a Note on the Minotaur

Since my wife gave birth to our second child two months ago I have mainly been trail running. I was training for a “mountain race” called The Minotaur and with the new baby I didn’t have time to train for climbing as well. So after about 10 weeks off I am wanting to get back to climbing and with our, once again, baby inclusive lifestyle I am looking for new and more convenient ways to squeeze a bit of training into my day.

So in addition to doing playground workouts with my toddler I have been building various “climbing bombs” to hang in my office. This is helping me squeeze in some lunchtime workouts. So far I have balls, 2″ pipes, and jugs with multiple tie offs to allow for offset hangs.

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I am planning to make fat pinches out of a piece of 4×4 and a single pad crimp as well to round out the collection. These will probably replace the 2in pipes I made, which I don’t think are close enough to any typical climbing holds to be beneficial. I will post photos of these when they are done.

With these holds I reworked the “10 minute workout” that Metolius publishes for use with its rock rings to work with the holds I have and to minimize swapping holds. My workout is shown below if anybody wants to use it or make recommendations. For being only 10 minutes I find it gives me a pretty solid pump. It isn’t a bouldering session but as a way to fill my lunch break it beats facebook. I generally warm up by doing pushups, dips, and squeezing some theraputty.

Time (minutes) Task Hold
1st minute 3 pull-ups Jugs
2nd minute 10 seconds bent-arm hang Jugs
15 seconds Dead Hang 2 pads on
3rd minute 2 Offset Pull-ups 2 pads on
2 Offset Pull-ups (other way) 2 pads on
4th minute 20 seconds L-Hang 2 pads on
10 seconds lever 2 pads on
5th minute 5 Pull-ups 2 pads on
6th minute 10 seconds Offset Hang Balls and jugs
10 seconds Offset Hang (other way) Balls and jugs
7th minute 15 seconds L-Hang Balls
15 seconds Dead Hang Balls
8th minute 20 seconds Bent Arm Hang Balls
10 seconds Dead Hang Balls
9th minute 20 seconds L-Hang crimps
10th minute 10 Pull-ups or front lever to failure crimps
7-3 repeaters pinches & crimps

 

Side note: The Minotaur was a great time (even if there was no 5th class climbing involved, it did have about ~6000ft of gain in a ~20km loop) and I would recommend it to anyone interested in either scrambling or running. If you are curious about the race or terrain they have some photos on https://www.facebook.com/meettheminotaur/

It was a really neat experience to try to do this much scrambling as fast as you can, without having to do any route finding or messing around. It made for a really great day out. At the finish line the general consensus was that it wasn’t even type 2 fun, it was type 1 fun. People finished smiling and sat down in the sun to drink kombucha, eat snacks, and chat. I will definitely be there next year.

If you have any recommendations for rock ring workouts or how you workout in your office or thoughts on mountain races, please comment below. I would love to hear from you.

 

UPDATE, October 4, 2017:

I made an addition to my training tools over the weekend: Pinch Blocks with a 3/4″ crimp and updated my workout above to include them (I have stopped using the pipes. I found they felt tweaky for my wrists). I am now also finishing this workout by doing 7-3 repeaters on one or two grips.

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More Emerald Lake Updates

Morgan and I went out to Emerald lake on Sunday and tacked another pitch onto the top of Diamond in the Rough. We also decided that the grades on the topo were pretty sandbagged so the guide has been changed to something I hope is more accurate at 5.9.

Bolting this new pitch we traversed right along a ledge system from the top of Pitch 2 to find better quality rock. And we did find better rock but only about 4 bolts worth then it turned to choss. We were taking turns bolting from stances, since we were only going to get one new pitch done for the day, and Morgan drew the short straw leading us through the loose rock above the solid climbing that I got to lead.

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Morgan on Pitch 3 of Diamond in the Rough
After rapping down and doing a bit of cleaning, we marched further left up the talus slope from DITR so I could check out a line Morgan bolted last summer (or maybe it was the summer before). It is the second unrecorded line left of Family Jewels (maybe 100m) and clocks in at around 5.10c, 6 bolts. If you are there I would recommend trying it out. This climb is a fine piece of work on Morgans part.

Update: Guard and Holds

I now have holds (not just hunks of 2×4) and the finger guard on the wall. Video Here.

Having had the wall running for a few weeks now, I can say that I am pleased overall with how it is functioning, no break downs yet, and that it is proving a usable piece of exercise equipment. It hasn’t supplanted my trips to the gym but I no longer feel any impetus to go to the gym without a ready partner. And I genuinely can squeeze in a 1/2 hour climbing workout when I don’t have time to go to the gym, just as I had hoped. So I am climbing more.

I only recently acquired a decent stash of holds so up to this point the “route” on my wall has been pretty hard and I haven’t been able to do any endurance training. The upside of this has been to demonstrate to me that the wall is a VERY effective anaerobic endurance training tool. I can get a mad pump on in about 5 minutes, without any trouble. And interval training on the wall is alot of fun.

Given the response to my last video I elected to get the guard finished rather than leaving it in the corner to rust. The brush on the guard isn’t as stiff as the ones I have used at my work so the guard will need a little tweaking to compensate for the sagging brush. As is it still keeps your fingers out of the pinch point but I am losing valuable inches of climbing room.

Success!

With the bigger motor I can run the wall at 15 feet per. minute (fpm) with no problem, without a climber on the wall. I might be able to go faster but I haven’t tried it yet. I guess having tripled the available torque was a safe bet.

15 fpm is a quick but not a super fast climbing pace. For the endurance and interval workouts I have tried so far it is certainly fast enough. I will play with it and post an update when I find out what its top speed is.

I made up a simple plywood bracket and hung all the power supply and driver, off the gear box. This kept all the wiring nice and tight. You just have one power cable and one control cable running up to the bundle of stuff up top. It would also make things easy to enclose if you wanted to make a weather resistant version. For now the controller is sitting on a paint can next to the wall but I will be building a bracket to put it up around face level.

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My bundle of electronics at the top of the wall. Not pretty but entirely functional and it definitely could have been worse.

 

And here is a video of me climbing the wall at 14 fpm. It starts slow and ramps up to full speed by about 20 seconds into the video.

Electrical/Software Design

My new, massive NEMA 34 motor and driver arrived in the mail a little while back. This thing is going to have enough torque to drive the wall no matter how much drag there is in the tracks! (3x current motor)

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New motor and driver setup

I was going to build a simple tone generator circuit with a 555 timer and a big control knob to adjust the speed. Using the rough design below.

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Basic wall controller circuit. Scribbled out on the back of some other work.

But while I was digging parts for this circuit out of my junk electronics box I came across my old handyboard. I built this thing more than a decade ago and have hardly used it, but as the name implies it is actually handy…. or it should be.

I started programming it to control my treadwall and found I wanted a little more functionality than it normally offers. So I wasted two weeks trying to adjust the timer output from a non-standard pin. ugh. But it is now set up how I would like and ready to go. Just not as handy as it could have been.

Right now the available menus look like this:

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I did add a big control knob for adjusting speed and other options as an additional means of user interface as well as using the start and stop buttons on the handyboard. I will likely add another button too, cause it feels like it needs it.

I am thinking I will add a motor to adjust the angle of the wall in the future. At which point it will be really cool to add workout modes that adjust the wall angle automatically.

I would love to hear ideas for additional workout modes. Please comment with suggestions! Include ideas for workouts that change wall angle if you have any.