Shooting A Video For WOSU

So a local TV station here in Columbus, Ohio is doing a spotlight piece on my shaping career for a Saturday morning TV show. We laid out a selection of my holds today. These pics are not very good lighting as it was dark when I realized I needed to shoot stills for myself. Fun to see all the themes I have here from many holds companies I shape(d) for.

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2 New Asana Themes Ready.

So here are two new Asana themes I shaped for my first outing for Jamey and Nick. Psyched to have seen this debuted at the trade show in Salt Lake and the response I got from my shaping peers and gym owners was awesome.

The Jugs are super comfy, low profile and awesome for steep roofs. They are also great for easier angles since the holds don’t stick out from the wall much allowing setters to put other routes around them. The pure symmetry of the holds also lends well to being used as system wall holds if you want to get multiple copies of them.

The pinchy/blocky type holds were influenced from my visits to Rifle, CO since the mid 1990’s. That place is so special and so unique for this country. I wanted to bring some of that “blocky/pinch” quality into a set of holds but put my own spin on them for an added level of functionality and aesthetic.

Psyched to see what people think. Order them from Asana, Nick loves getting phone calls… he is awesome! He is the one with the hair in the photo to my right.

www.asanaclimbing.com

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Clif Bar Did It Again!

Crank up your taste buds and get ready because Clif Bar has done it again!

I present to you the “Fruit & Nut” and “Dark Chocolate” series in the new Trail Mix Bar line.

Clif Bar is always blazing the way with innovative products and this line is truly mind blowing, wait taste bud exploding is a better way to express how good these are.

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Say hello to the newest additions to the Clif Bar family.

“Fruit & Nut” Trail Mix Bar series:

• Wild Blueberry Almond

• Cranberry Almond

• Coconut Almond Peanut

“Dark Chocolate” Trail Mix Bar series:

• Dark Chocolate Almond Sea Salt (Its a big title bursting with BIG flavor!)

• Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond

Many of the folks at Clif Bar know I’ve always had a deep affinity for one of the classic flavors available moons ago called “Wild Berry.” Sadly is was discontinued around 1998 and every year new stuff comes out hopes I hoped they would re-release it or bring something out comparable… Well I am here to tell everyone they did it! I present to you the “Wild Blueberry Almond” Mojo Bar. This bar is dreamy, and full of berry bursting flavor, a fantastic crunchy texture provided by the Almonds and a softness that is chewy and so fun to eat. My hopes and wishes have been answered so thank you Clif Bar for that.

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The rest of the “Fruit & Nut” line is equally as amazing. The “Cranberry Almond” is full of rich flavors and a cranberry tart that leaves you wanting more. The Almonds are nice and big and when you see this package and for that matter all of the Mojo Bar packages, the quality of the ingredients and consistency of the product shows.

There is also a “Dark Chocolate” series of bars to satisfy those folks who like Chocolate but want a healthier way to enjoy it. Clif Bar did it right as they always do. I am excited to see this new wave of Mojo Bars getting out into the retail world and into the tummies of active people all around the world.

Oh as a side note: If you have a hard time finding the “Wild Blueberry Almond” flavor in your local stores it is because I am keeping them all to myself. Just saying!

Now go out and enjoy this upcoming summer weather and be sure to have plenty of the new Mojo Trail Mix Bars in your bags or pockets.

 

 

The Brush Game Has Been Changed!

Throw away all your chalk brushes because the game has been changed and the WolfPack has been unleashed.

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I was shown the Lycan brush last year at the Outdoor Retailer or OR as we all call it and my mind was truly blown. I also met and was introduced to the owner, designer and mastermind of WolfPack Climbing, Jon David.

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Jon David (In photo above) is an energetic, young and a very inspired entrepreneur with a penchant for finding voids in our industry that with some tweaking can offer a higher level of performance, appeal or just straight functionality. At the time Jon was just in prototype stages but his concept and idea was solid and I was sold immediately.

Over the course of the Winter of 2013 Jon was able to arrive at a bomber design result that doesn’t break easy and affords a robust functionality for a climber specific brush. This is not some pre-made store bought option, this brush was designed from the ground up by a climber for climbers.

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The Lycan brush features a 100% boars hair and the way it removes chalk is unlike any other brush I have ever used before. The brush also has a higher number of bristles then other boars hair brushes on the market. The hairs themselves are longer, allowing them to be sunk deeper into the ferrules giving more surface to stay in the handle. Speaking of the handle, it has a built in fingernail file or gobi sanding strip which you don’t see in other brushes on the market. The handle is textured for better grip when your hands are sweaty after blasting off the lip of a highball and landing in a pear cactus. (This blogs author has firsthand knowledge of said experience) From a form standpoint the handle is also ergonomic and curved in a way to aid in getting into crimps and pockets. The bright orange color helps it stand out against most ground surfaces so you don’t lose it easy and the added bonus is it is assembled here in the USA.

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The Lycan brush is starting to get momentum on the West coast and after a couple of visits there myself I have seen it in most of the gyms and some retail shops, so the word is getting out. I have been working hard to get the product into all of my Mad Rock accounts on the East Coast and the response has been awesome. The new retail packaging is great  for seeing all of the brush and comes with pre cut post hole for display hanging. The Lycan brush is distributed by Mad Rock and can be purchased through any of their retail accounts, website etc.

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Trust me when I say once you get your hands on one of these and observe the higher level of performance this brush offers, you will find yourself going to this brush over and over. So warn those other brushes you have in your bags their days are limited, because the WolfPack has been unleashed and the game is about to be changed!

Performance Packed, Priced Right!

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I just spent a month on the road doing a slew of shoe demos in my territory in the east so I thought it would be good to post something about the new M5 (5th generation version of the Mugen) on my blog.

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I have been using the M5 for about 7 months now both indoors and out. This shoe offers an amazing array of performance, comfort and quality of manufacturing all wrapped into a nifty retail price of $105.00 USD. The overall response I got on my demo tour was the fit was comfortable without sacrificing performance, and the price… many people couldn’t believe the retail to be that low for something that looks and performs at such a high level. Thats part of the Mad Rock philosophy, quality products at a reasonable price.

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Last year when I was at Mad Rock HQ the owner of Mad Rock, Young Chu sat down with me going over all the various performance and design aspects of the M5. Being a designer myself it was awesome being able to talk to someone who spoke the same language and shared a similar vision of a design methodology when it comes to the pragmatics and performance of a climbing shoe.

One of the big selling points for me beyond the awesome overall fit due in part to the arch flex technology which is the anchor of the Shark model in the Mad Rock line is the molded heel cup. This heel cup allows for the shape of the heel space to be more natural and anthropometric reducing that “bubble” that occurs in traditional pulled heel rubber pieces assembled by layering a rand with a sole. The molded cup also cuts down on dead space and allows you to have rubber all around for heel hooking at any angle of foot placement.

Another key feature I am a big fan of is the die-cut Velcro straps. If you look at other shoe companies Velcro many of them use a strip cut approach but in many of the Mad Rock shoes Young decided to used a curved cut (die cut) Velcro shape to better accommodate the curve at the top of your foot and reducing pinching points that occur with straight Velcro. Its those small details that really impressive me about Mad Rock by the way. This shoe is not short at all on those types of details.

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One of the last things I should mention is the slightly concave nature of the sole in the toe box area. It’s impressive to see a traditional sheet rubber sole (the sole of the M5 is not moulded like the Shark) have a concave shape and perform like it has a super turned down shape. I used the M5 on steep routes in the Red River Gorge and all over steep features bouldering and then I pulled it out at the New River Gorge and it ruled on those technical and footwork intensive routes the vertical nature of the New affords.

So if you like a shoe that performs on a variety of terrain (I’ve used it on granite, sandstone, gritstone and lots of gym plastic) you will find the M5 a great addition to your climbing shoe quiver and it will also leave some hard earned bucks in your pocket for those extra late night trips to the local taco establishment since the price is oh so awesome.

www.madrockclimbing.com

Designing Setting Carts

With the harsh Winter upon us in the midwest I decided to spend some time designing something useful and take a break from the world of foam.

I’ve been in over 80 gyms now doing all sorts of recon, one thing I have noticed is the multitude of various ways gyms operate and handle setting tools/hardware access. I have seen so many iterations of carts, wagons, buckets that I thought it might be fun to take the tools and hardware I use and create a more efficient system for when I set.

Below are two carts I came up with. The main cart houses all the drivers/drills, bolts, t-wrenches, bits, tap and power charging station (with built in cord). The second is a route taping cart with a formica top surface for laying tape down and cutting. It also has markers, scissors and goof off to clean duct tape adhesive off the scissors. I wanted carts that would speed up my efficiency and cut down on searching for specific bolt sizes, bit types and having to travel back and forth for fresh batteries. The tape cart is a huge help to bring the taping closer to the walls to save time.

These may not be perfect but for me they are a start to adding more functionality to my setting and also give me the portability I so badly needed.

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You want to climb at 3am… Vital is OPEN!

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Its 3am, you have a late night hankering for technical slopers, a jug haul to burn off those three beef burritos you downed with extra jalapeños or you want to hone those tendons into steel cables on an adjustable campus board? Well guess what… most climbing gyms are not open at 3am. In fact there isn’t really anything open at 3am, but Vital is!

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My story with Vital started on a recent California climbing gym recon trip. I was told by a friend and the man behind the construction of the walls at Vital, Louie Anderson that it was a must visit. I had left LA kind of late working my way south. The Murrieta location is sandwiched sort of between LA and San Diego which puts it in a nice niche spot to service climbers in that region or for those who love the 24/7 access model it offers. By the time I got there it was seriously late (around 11:30pm) so I didn’t have high hopes of meeting anyone there to get a chance to see inside. But to my amazement the lights were on and music was jamming so I knocked on the door.

I was greeted by the manager Luis Falero who is by the way a truly awesome guy, dedicated and very humble. He spent a great deal of time with me giving me the full bore tour. Side note: Luis is the owner of Signature Series Holds an upcoming and motivated holds company based in So-Cal.

http://www.signatureseriesholds.com

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The Murrieta location opened on July 30, 2011 and has a space of 3,600 sqft with wall space of just over 3000 sqft. It is owned by Nam Phan & Dave Sacher who are the masterminds behind this concept and business model. They currently have three locations at the time of this writing (Murrieta, Carlsbad & Bellingham). Luis told me these guys are not stopping and are continuing to grow the Vital program and brand with more locations slated for the future.

The gym is designed to have a welcoming and inviting layout. Its open format gives climbers a chance to see each other and reinforce that community aspect which some gyms lack because they segregate people apart too much, especially new climbers from the hard core guys, at Vital you are all together and in my view that is what makes it so special and communal.

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Vital is packed with amenities, everything from a well stocked espresso machine, free-wifi, a retail selection, video games, widescreen projector TV with a host of climbing videos to raise your psyche up, a lounge space to relax and the best part aside from the 24/7 access… wait for it… the price is AMAZING! Having visited nearly every gym in California from top to bottom I can assure you the price is awesome.

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Vital is ran by serious boulderes that make it a point to not only service customers but also educate them about more then just the indoor experience. They help you understand how to translate the “gym to crag” methodology and stewardship that many gyms tend to leave out or offer little exposure to. They believe in the idea of helping shape and guide the new generation of climbers who venture to the outdoors to pursue it correctly so that others can enjoy it in the future.

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Luis Falero the awesome manager hanging from a cannonball training hold and the one arm pull up monster on the right is Christian Celestino who is the marketing manager of Vital and a super helpful and friendly staff member.

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The routesetting is like many gyms a top priority. The staff at Vital believe that the routes are THE product and they listen to what members want and respond accordingly. Vital has also partnered with Signature Series Holds to help increase the inventory, keeping fresh and new holds flowing in. As a side note the Murrieta location has a really sweet adjustable Campus/Peg board that Louie helped them create during the construction. I have to say in the 80 plus gyms I have been in that thing blew my mind and was in my view one of the first I had ever seen like it. Very clean, no fluff just a great board but with the added function of being able to adjust its pitch.

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So if you are a student who crushes the books and wants to sesh a few hours to burn off that new knowledge, perhaps you get up early and want to get a bit of climbing in before your work begins the 24/7 membership program is perfect for you. If you love a solid community of dedicated climbers who try hard and live for this sport then for sure check out Vital and if you roll into the Murrieta location ask for Luis and tell him I said hello. He might even brew you up a cup of espresso and give you the grand tour. Oh yeah and for those of you folks who have Vital in your backyard, you have something truly special going on there… SPECIAL!

http://www.vitalclimbinggym.com

Clif SHOT Protein Recovery Review.

Last year at the team summit meeting, Clif SHOT brand manager Chris Randall (See photo below, he’s in the red shirt) let out of the bag that in 2013 the SHOT line was getting a total revamp. I was sitting next to him in our big round circle of chairs and I think people around me thought I was about to jump into song and dance as my excitement was truly apparent.

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The SHOT brand of products has always been exciting. This time Chris and his team have taken it to a whole new level. A flavorful, easy to mix and very nutritious Clif SHOT Protein Recovery Drink Mix. It is available in two types, Orange Mango (My favorite!) and Chocolate. They currently are sold in two sizes, a smaller 1.7oz single serving packet and the larger 16.6oz zip top bag, or as I call it… “The Pounder!” Both of these offer easy to mix, leaving no gritty leftovers at the bottom of the bottle or blender and the best part, this stuff actually WORKS!

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I have been using this SHOT product for a few months now and I can feel the recovery difference in the morning, less soreness and an overall performance increase in my muscle recovery. Oh yeah did I mention, it tastes AMAZING! So many times I have tried all the other protein mixes out there, having to find Orange Juice or Milk (Sometimes hard on climbing road trips) to help make it manageable to just swallow it down. The new SHOT Protein Recovery solves all that, it has the flavoring already inside and all you do is add water and WHAM you get multiple sources of carbs for muscle glycogen, a key electrolyte: sodium and 10g of protein in the single serving size.

If you haven’t had a chance to try this product I highly suggest you do. I have seen the difference it makes in my workout routines and training so I know it works.

www.clifbar.com

One of the BEST gyms in Cali… Top Out Climbing!

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I had the privilege of visiting a brand new gym in Santa Clarita, CA this week called Top Out Climbing. It is owned by Howard Konishi and opened on May 18, 2013 so it has that “New-Car-Smell” still. The gym offers an amazing array of well designed and considered climbing walls, with a great use of space all wrapped in an 11,500 sqft building.

Top Out sits in the northern LA County area in Santa Clarita, California. It’s just a few minutes off the highway for easy access in and out. The area is surrounded by big hills with a mountain backdrop over the horizon. The collegiate population is very high in the area with a handful of colleges such as College of the Canyons, Cal Arts and Cal State Northridge to name a few. The area also has become known for a wide array of health and athletic minded people with a growing population moving into this area.

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The gym offers 6,500sqft of climbable wall of which 5K of that is dedicated to bouldering. The facility is well lit and has a very open feeling making it really great for climbing and not feeling cramped. There is a retail shop that carries Mad Rock, Black Diamond, Evolv and Climb-On products. The yoga studio has great sound buffering and privacy creating a fantastic environment for yoga programming. A fun side fact, the gym has five bathrooms which is great for large groups and events, a nice feature considering some gyms only have one or two at most.

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At Top Out Climbing you never feel crowded due to the well considered layout and wall designs. The opportunity to have big events and parties is great. Setters can really use the large wall space “canvases” to create exciting routes and challenges that are not stagnate or limited to being straight-forward. In my view this is the way all gyms should be considering that setting is a major part of the product offerings in a climbing gym.

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Speaking specifically to the setting at Top Out after having climbed there for half a day, I was truly amazed at the high level of quality the routes offered. No joke, the setters there are very talented and dare I say it might be one of the best set gyms in California that I have visited over the years!

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I asked Howard “Why a climbing gym?” and he responded that he wanted to introduce climbing to people who have never done it before and in doing so change lives like climbing changed his life. Howard is really about community and giving back, something him and I both have in common and share similar beliefs in this regard.

The gym gets its name from Howards belief that in life we are constantly trying to reach a pinnacle, reach new heights and his gym offers the challenges and excitement that climbing can offer in those ways.

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If you are in the area and want to check out one of the best climbing gyms in southern California do stop by Top Out Climbing. It is well worth the visit and the routestting alone is worth a session for sure. My hat goes off to them… great job, I am impressed!

For more info visit: www.topoutclimbing.com